Wednesday, April 30, 2014

John B. Jones On Western Wednesday...!

There are so many stories of the Texas Rangers and the men that were part of that organization, it's hard to choose the ones that stood out the most.

Probably the reason that Jon B. Jones might be remembered is the fact that he and his men were the ones to put an end to Sam Bass. Fairly well known to folks living around Georgetown and Round Rock in central Texas, Bass was one of those men made bigger and badder by the legends he spawned instead of how he actually was in real life!

John B. Jones becomes major in Texas Rangers

Born in Fairfield District, South Carolina, in 1834, Jones moved to Texas with his father when he was a small boy. After graduating from Mt. Zion College in South Carolina, he returned to his home in Texas to enlist in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Talented and ambitious, he eventually rose to the rank of adjutant general. Jones took the defeat of the Confederacy hard, and after the war, he spent some time traveling in Mexico and Brazil trying to establish a colony for other disgruntled former Confederates. After determining that the colonial schemes held little promise for success, he returned to Texas where his military experience won him a major's commission with the Texas Rangers on this day in 1874.

Jones commanded the Frontier Battalion, a force of about 500 men stationed along the Texas frontier from the Red River to the Rio Grande. His mission was two-fold: to keep hostile-border Indians out of Texas and control the outlaws within Texas.

His first Indian fight came less than six weeks later. While patrolling near Jacksboro, Texas, with 28 men, Jones spotted a band of more than 100 Indians that he thought were hostile Kiowa, Commanche, and Apache. Displaying more courage than wisdom, Jones directed his small band to attack the larger force of Indians. In the ensuing battle, two of the Rangers were killed and two wounded, but they were lucky to escape without more serious losses. Chastened, Jones acted with greater care in his subsequent battles with Indians, and his force eventually became highly effective in repulsing invasions.

Four years later, Jones took on one of the most notorious outlaws on the Texas frontier, Sam Bass. For some months, Bass and his gang had been staging train robberies in Texas. Although most of the robberies failed to net much money because Bass and his partners were incompetent amateurs, the people of Texas demanded that Bass be stopped. The Texas government turned to Jones, ordering him to use his Rangers to run Bass down. Seizing on the drama of the chase, the press dubbed the affair the "Bass War."

For four months, Bass led Jones and his Rangers on a wild chase through Texas. In July 1878, Jones learned that Bass was planning to rob the bank in Round Rock, Texas. When Bass did hit the bank, Jones and his Rangers were waiting. Bass was badly wounded in the ensuing gun battle, and he died several days later. Strangely enough, Bass later became a legend, portrayed as good-natured Robin Hood, while Jones has largely been forgotten. Jones continued to command the Frontier Battalion until he died of natural causes in 1881 at the age of 46.

For someone in the Texas Rangers, especially a major, to die of natural causes is really something. All too often, that just didn't happen considering the nature of their jobs. Still, 46 is fairly young for anyone to pass on, even then!

Coffee out on the patio again this morning! Short of the 90's today, so that's a good thing!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Eye Candy For Tuesday...!

I don't get thew chance very often to share something really beautiful with my readers, so I figured that today I would do just that!

Nature has many strange and beautiful places waiting to be seen and enjoyed. Way too often, we don't even stop long enough to appreciate the beauty in our own yards, and that's too bad. Today I want you to see someplace almost impossible to describe to somebody that hasn't at least seen a picture!

Zhangye Danxia

The Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park is located in southwest China and contains more than a few unusual features. Probably the most startling are the multicolored mountains known as Danxia landforms. The surreal coloration comes from red sandstone and natural mineral deposits that have formed over the course of 24 million years. Each “stripe” constitutes a different mineral, and over the ages, they’ve formed layer upon layer, resulting in a rainbow pattern. Erosion from wind and rain has further polished the surfaces of the mountains.

China is the only place in the world with this type of mineral formation, and a few of the landforms have become UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The town of Zhangye has capitalized on the international interest in the Danxia landforms, and there are dozens of separate tour companies leading groups into the rainbow mountains.

Looks like a page right out of a coloring book, don't ya think? At the very least it resembles a very nice painting! Either way, it makes for a pleasant scene!

Coffee outside today. It should be a tad cooler than the 92 we had yesterday!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Egg Head For Monday Mystery...!

Once in a while, we get something on our mystery search that calls for further examination. Today is one of those times!

Unfortunately, no one can give us any idea about this mystery other than what people already know! Strange looking, pretty in a strange sort of way, ya know?

Mystery Stone

Construction workers digging near New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee uncovered a very unusual item in 1872. It was a black stone egg, about 10 centimeters (4 in) tall, carved with images. It was described as “remarkable” and a “wonder of the scientific world.” Nothing similar has ever been found anywhere in the United States to this day. It’s known as the “Mystery Stone.”

The carvings offered few clues as to the stone’s origins. The front of the egg shows a face. There’s an ear of corn on the side, a circle containing depictions of animal parts, a spiral, a crescent moon, and various patterns made of lines and dots. There are holes drilled into the top and bottom, which are too regular to have been created by pre–19th century technology, suggesting the stone was crafted not long before it was found.

No one recorded details about the stone’s discovery. We don’t know the exact site where it was found or how deep it lay. The type of rock it’s made from isn’t usually found in New Hampshire. After close to 150 years of investigation, we know no more than this: Someone created it for some reason at some point and it ended up buried.

Sure would look good on my desk, but who knows what kind of strange curse or bad luck might be attached to it? I reckon I'll just be happy to leave it be, if you know what I mean!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. They say rain is in the forecast, but we'll take a chance!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cartoons And Coffee For Sunday...!

What a beautiful day for cartoons and coffee! Must be Spring!

I know some folks are still having cold weather, but you'll understand if I enjoy the warmth of spring here in Texas, right? About the mid 80's expected today, so sounds like a good one!

Ol' Tom and Jerry have been around for a long, long time. Still good for a fun watch, I think.

Time for a little change OF pace, I reckon!

Notice how smoothly I did that? Gotta watch the old man!

OK...I reckon that's enough for this morning. Let's get down to the serious stuff!

Coffee out on the patio today. Chocolate chip cookies all nuts!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Want Some Perfect Fruit...?

I don't know about you, but I like fruit. Sometimes I spend a lot of time trying to find the best looking fruit at just the right stage of ripeness.

However, it seems that some of the folks in Japan have taken this selection of fruit to a whole new level. One might say that they have even gone a bit overboard with the whole "perfect fruit" thing! From the people over at Listverse, this story shows what I'm talking about!

Perfect Fruit Can Be A Big Deal

In Japan, fruit is often given as gifts between family members, friends, colleagues, and business partners. It’s seen as a luxury, and the better the specimen of fruit that’s given, the more memorable the gift becomes. So it’s not all that surprising that there’s a store in Japan, called Senbikiya, that specializes in only the most perfect specimens of fruit. Not only are the fruits sold at the store free of blemishes and bruises, they must be perfectly formed, and most are so large and flavorful that they look fake to someone not used to seeing the height of fruit perfection.

A box of 12 strawberries runs about $83, and three melons will set you back about $419. You’re not just paying for perfection, you’re paying for the massive amounts of labor that goes into growing these fruits. Japanese-grown fruits are more highly desired than imports, and greenhouse keepers labor 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to ensure that their plants are grown from only the finest, strongest seedlings. They work tirelessly to determine that each plant has a precise amount of nutrients and the temperature in their greenhouses is maintained constantly. In some cases, all that effort goes into a single vine or plant that produces a single specimen of fruit. Some of them are even given little hats to wear to protect them from the outside sun, ensuring a perfect, evenly colored exterior.

Now, I think that giving a basket of fruit is a very good idea, but I am NOT fond enough of anyone to spend the kind of money for fruit that these folks are talking about. After all, it's fruit, right?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Sorry, no fruit to share!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Horrors Of Unit 731...!

This might be one of the worse stories you never heard about.

Nearly everyone has heard of the Nazi death camps and the horrors that went on there, but the Japanese had something almost as bad if not even more evil! This one might give you nightmares!

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.

Folks, I've said it before and I'll say it again! No other creature on this earth can invent so many ways to torture, maim and kill their own kind as man. It was true in the past and even more true today! Don't believe me? Read the news! Every day there's another story of parents killing their own children, of children killing other children or even their parents, or some sick minded individual killing just for the fun of it! It just never seems to end!

Let's have our coffee outside! I need the fresh air after this post!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Some Elevator History...!

I reckon that most of us have ridden in an elevator, but have you ever wondered about who invented them? The answer just might surprise ya!

What we might consider to be a modern invention really isn't new at all! In fact, the elevator goes back a lot further than you would believe!

APRIL 23, 2014
Who invented the elevator?

Although elevators may seem like a modern invention, devices used to transport people or goods vertically have been around for thousands of years. According to the writings of Vitruvius, the Greek mathematician Archimedes created a primitive elevator in 236 B.C. that was operated by hoisting ropes wound around a drum and rotated by manpower applied to a capstan. In ancient Rome, a subterranean complex of rooms, animal pens and tunnels stood beneath the Colosseum. At various intervals, elevators powered by hundreds of men using winches and counterweights brought gladiators and large animals up through vertical shafts into the arena for battle.

In 1743, Louis XV had what was referred to as a “flying chair” built to allow one of his mistresses to access her quarters on the third floor of the Palace of Versailles. Similarly, a “flying table” in his retreat ch√Ęteau de Choisy allowed the king and his private guests to dine without intrusion from the servants. At the sound of a bell, a table would rise from the kitchen below into the dining room with an elaborate meal, including all of the necessary accoutrements.

By the mid-19th century, elevators powered by steam or water were available for sale, but the ropes they relied upon could be worn out or destroyed and were not, therefore, generally trusted for passenger travel. However, in 1852, Elisha Graves Otis invented a safety break that revolutionized the vertical transport industry. In the event that an elevator’s hoisting rope broke, a spring would operate pawls on the car, forcing them into position with racks at the sides of the shaft and suspending the car in place. Installed in a five-story department store in New York City in 1857, Otis’ first commercial passenger elevator soon changed the world’s skyline, making skyscrapers a practical reality and turning the most valuable real estate on its head—from the first floor to the penthouse.

Who would have thought that the elevator went that far back? I sure didn't! Guess our ancestors were a lot smarter than we thought they were! That's a good thing!

Coffee outside this morning. I have some apple pie that I'll share!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Blue Jeans" On Western Wednesday...!

The history behind the creation of "blue jeans" is a facinating one, to be sure!

Like many other things in life, things went a little different than Strauss expected. Strauss' goal wasn't to be a fashion creator, but to sell a load of dry goods to the miners along the west coast. Being unable to sell a large amount of canvas, he decided to create work clothes using said canvas. The rest, as they say, is history!

Levi Strauss patents copper-riveted jeans

Acting at the behest of a Reno, Nevada, tailor who had invented the idea, Levi Strauss secures the necessary patents for canvas pants with copper rivets to reinforce the stress points.

Born in Buttenheim, Bavaria, in 1829, the young Levi Strauss emigrated to the United States in 1847. Strauss initially went into business selling dry goods along the East Coast, but in 1852, his brother-in-law encouraged him to relocate to the booming city of San Francisco. He arrived in San Francisco in 1853 with a load of merchandise that he hoped to sell in the California mining camps. Unable to sell a large supply of canvas, Strauss hit on the idea of using the durable material to make work pants for miners. Strauss' canvas pants were an immediate success among hardworking miners who had long complained that conventional pants wore out too quickly.

In 1872, Strauss received a letter from Jacob Davis, a customer and tailor who worked in the mining town of Reno, Nevada. Davis reported that he had discovered canvas pants could be improved if the pocket seams and other weak points that tended to tear were strengthened by copper rivets. Davis' riveted pants had proven popular in Reno, but he needed a patent to protect his invention. Intrigued by the copper-riveted pants, Strauss and his partners agreed to undertake the necessary legal work for the patent and begin large-scale production of the pants. Davis' invention was patented on this day in 1873. In exchange for his idea, Strauss made the Reno tailor his production manager. Eventually, Strauss switched from using canvas to heavyweight blue denim, and the modern "blue jeans" were born.

Since then, Levi Strauss & Company has sold more than 200 million pairs of copper-riveted jeans. By the turn of the century, people outside of the mining and ranching communities had discovered that "Levi's" were both comfortable and durable. Eventually, the jeans lost most of their association with the West and came to be simply a standard element of the casual American wardrobe.

Fate has a way of taking us off the path we have laid out for ourselves sometimes. This time it seems to have been a fortunate turn of events, not only for Strauss but for us all!

Coffee out on the patio this morning...again! Fresh fruit anyone?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Small History Of The Clove Tree...!

Most of us have used cloves before and probably have some hidden in the pantry somewhere. I personally love the smell!

At one point in history, the clove trade was ruled with a heavy hand by the Dutch. Thanks to one tree (named Afo) and one adventurous French missionary, the iron fist of the Dutch was broken and the trade in cloves expanded!

The Clove Tree That Defied An Empire
By Will on Monday, April 21, 2014

In the 1600s, the Dutch United East India Company controlled the Indonesian spice trade. All clove trees that didn’t belong to them were destroyed, with only 800–1,000 tons of cloves allowed out each year, giving them a monopoly on clove prices. However, one free tree remained. A Frenchman stole some seeds from it and took them to other countries, taking away the company’s monopoly on the trade.

The Dutch United East India Company (abbreviated “VOC” for the Dutch title) was founded in 1602 and soon forced the Portuguese out of the Southeast Asian region they were competing for. Clove trees only used to grow on two islands in modern-day Indonesia: Ternate and Tidore. They remained a closely guarded secret until the Portuguese and the Dutch arrived in the region. In 1667, the VOC gained complete control over the clove trade with the capture of the last harbor where non-Dutch-owned cloves could be purchased.

Beginning in 1652, the VOC introduced a policy of extirpate. Any clove trees that weren’t owned by the company were uprooted and destroyed by fire. Consequently, the company made huge profits with their control on the clove trade (among other spices) and to conserve this, punishments were harsh for those who defied them. The death penalty was handed out to anyone caught with a clove tree or seeds. All clove exports were limited—only 800–1,000 tons were allowed out of their control with the rest of the harvest being dumped in the sea.

But one tree defied the iron grip of the Dutch. Known as Afo, growing on the slopes of the Gamalama volcano on the island of Ternate. Somehow, Afo survived the policy of extirpate and was found by a French missionary turned entrepreneur who took some of Afo’s seeds in 1770. The seeds were taken to the Seychelles and Zanzibar (currently the world’s largest clove producer), thus ending the VOC’s trade monopoly.

Afo is estimated to be over 400 years old and still stands today, albeit a shadow of its former self, protected by a brick wall from locals who once tried to use it as firewood.

The Dutch ruled most of the trade in spices for quite a while. I would imagine that many fortunes were made in the spice trade, much like the tobacco trade.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. How about some key lime cookies...?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Another Nautical Mystery This Monday...!

The sea has so many mysteries attached to it, we will never hear them all. Some go back a long, long time.

This particular one has been told and puzzled over for many years, and so far no explanation has been found. That's the making of a real legend if you ask me. I wonder if we really want to find out the answer? Sometimes the truth is no where near as interesting as the unanswered mystery, ya know?

When it comes to describing the discovery of the apparently abandoned Mary Celeste in 1872, words like “spooky” and “unsettling” simply don’t cut it. This brigantine merchant ship was found in the Atlantic Ocean with its cargo and valuables completely untouched, packed with six months’ worth of food and water but not hide nor hair of a single passenger or crew member. Though its contents were wet and it was a bit worse for the wear, the ship was still seaworthy after being out for just a month. The fact that all reasonable explanations – from storms to piracy – seem to have been ruled out has spurred more outrageous theories of alien abduction or sea monster attacks. Today, the fate of the Mary Celeste remains one of history’s most famous and puzzling maritime mysteries – but this is far from the only story of its kind.

So, what do you think about the missing crew of the Mary Celest? What happened to all of them? Aliens? Pirates? Bad storms? Maybe a sea monster! Whatever happened, it's still unsolved and that's our favorite kind of Monday Mystery!

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. Chocolate meringue pie, anyone?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter Sunday...!

Not many folks celebrate Easter the way we used to around my house. Guess that isn't unusual, considering the mindset of the general public nowdays.

Easter isn't really about candy and colorful eggs and new clothes for church going. Used to be people understood the real reason why we celebrate Easter and holidays like it, but no one wants to be reminded of that any more. Instead of harping on something that is lost to many of us, I'll merely post a few Easter related cartoons. That sound OK to you?

Disney had a way of finding the best music to go along with his 'toons!

There might be a few of you that remember the olden days when guys like Gene Autry sang some of the favorites of the times...

Well, that's enough for this morning. I hope everyone has a great day!

Coffee out on the patio this fine and sunny Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Remember These Things...?

There may be a whole generation of young folks out there that have never had to use a pencil with an eraser. That's kinda sad when you think about it.

When I was still in school(back in the Dark Ages) wood pencils were the norm rather than the exception. Sure, there some kids that used the newer mechanical pencils, but they were not very common. I guess that my generation made a lot of mistakes because I remember places selling just the erasers without the pencils, know what I mean? Boy have things changed!

In 1770, the first version of the rubber eraser was sold by an English optician and engineer named Edward Nairne. Edward got his invention by accident—he meant to pick up bread crumbs to erase some pencil markings, as was common at the time, but his hands landed on a nearby piece of rubber. After he discovered how well it worked, Nairne began marketing and selling rubber cubes as erasers. br/>
Later that year, coincidentally, British chemist Joseph Priestly made the same observation about rubber’s properties. It was Priestly who named the substance (previously simply referred to as “vegetable gum”) for its ability to rub out pencil marks.

Early versions of the rubber eraser were perishable and smelled foul. Charles Goodyear, the man most associated with rubber, solved both problems in 1839 by adding sulfur, a process he called “vulcanization.” Rubber erasers first found their way onto pencils in 1858, but the US denied Hymen L. Lipman a patent for the combination because it simply joined two existing inventions. Yet in the next decade, Lipman did indeed get a patent, and his Faber company started producing pencils with pink rubber ends.

Today, some rubber is still made from the latex of the rubber tree, Hevea Brasiliensis, but other types use synthetic materials like styrene and butadiene.

Man, I'm old enough to remember using a Big Chief tablet and a No. 2 pencil! You had to be careful on those tablets, because it seems to me that the paper was very easy to tear! Now I really feel old!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Going to be in the 80s the rest of the week!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Different Way To Become Smarter...!

If you have ever wished that you could take a pill and become a little smarter, then this might be just the thing for you!

According to this article I found over at KnowledgeNuts, there is research that supposedly proves that cannibalism could just be the key to gaining more knowledge. Imagine being able to eat your way to smartness! Might be just the thing for those having trouble in college, ya know?

Some Animals Can Consume Knowledge Through Cannibalism
By Flamehorse on Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The above statement got everyone looking for proof, because even a rotter of a movie can’t throw around scientific statements without there being some truth to them. It turns out that this fact is a fact, true, and very difficult to believe. Experiments from the 1960s show that it even works in rats and mice.

The scientist who came up with this experiment is Dr. James V. McConnell, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan (USA) in the 1960s, who had a hunch that planarians (flatworms) could be trained to run mazes. He proceeded to do so. He first trained them to be afraid of the heat of a bright light, which, after many attempts, made them curl up to protect themselves. Soon they were curling up whenever they felt the heat or saw the light.

Then he chopped them up and fed them to planarians unaccustomed to the bright light and heat. This second group curled up the first time he shone the light on them. McConnell was naturally thrilled and took the experiment to the next level. He taught a group of planarians to run a maze. This took a long time of course, since planarians are very simple animals, and the species in question was microscopic.

After 150 attempts, the flatworms could find their way correctly every time. McConnell pronounced them knowledgeable of how to run the maze. Then he first tried cutting the head off one worm and grafting it onto another. This didn’t work because the head wouldn’t stay on. Then he ground up this batch of worms and tried injecting them into a second group. This failed because the worms were about the same size as the point of the needle, which crushed them.

He might have been stumped at ths point, had it not been for a worm enthusiast named Jay Boyd Best, who wrote him a letter suggesting that feed the worms to a particular species of cannibalistic planarian. So McConnell acquired some specimens of this species of flatworm and fed the trained group to this new group. The new group was able to run the maze correctly the first time, but not correctly every time until they practiced 100 times. He trained a separate control group to run the maze, and this group required about 150, just like the group he ground up.

McConnell became famous for a time, even though the very premise of his research seemed too much like a Frankenstein story to grab the scientific community. He did, however, receive a fast promotion to full professor and made it onto some science shows like Watch Mr. Wizard. Scientists who found his work interesting then took the next step, performing the same experiment with mice and rats, and they found that it still worked.

Such experiments continue to this day and continue to raise eyebrows.

Now I don't know this for sure but I think it might be more than a little time before these "smart pills" would ever be on the market. I have to admit that there are more than a few folks I think would benefit from something along these lines! Heck, we could start with passing them out in D.C. and go from there, ya know? Couldn't hurt!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I'll share some sausage gravy and fried 'taters!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Raccoons Invade Japan...!

Sometimes the best of intentions can cause the biggest of problems. This story is a fine example of just such a case!

Now for most of us in the states, raccoons are not that big a deal. However, if you are not prepared for the damage they can and will do it can become a big problem very quickly.

The Cartoon That Launched A Raccoon Invasion
By Nolan Moore on Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Baby raccoons might look cute, but when they grow up, they start getting a tad unruly. After all, they’re wild animals. That’s something the Japanese learned the hard way after a popular cartoon encouraged kids to adopt the little critters as pets. When the families tired of them, many were released into the wild although they are not native to Japan. They have been wreaking absolute havoc on the ecosystem ever since.

When you think about Japanese animals, you probably imagine macaques, cranes, or Pikachus. Chances are good you don’t think about raccoons . . . unless, perhaps, you’re Japanese. As it turns out, the Land of the Rising Sun is infested with these North American mammals. These masked troublemakers spend their evenings creeping into homes, eating crops, and just generally wrecking the environment. And it’s all thanks to a little Wisconsin boy named Sterling North.

During the 1910s, Sterling found an orphaned raccoon and decided to adopt it. Sterling named his new pet Rascal, and the two spent a magical year together, roaming through the woods, fishing in nearby streams, and riding on Sterling’s bike. (Rascal sat up front in the basket.) However, things got trickier as Rascal grew older. He started killing the neighbor’s chickens and showed interest in hanging out with other raccoons. Eventually, Sterling freed Rascal in a nearby forest and wrote a story about their friendship, a 1963 tale called Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era.

Since the sappy story was full of children and cute animals, Disney snatched it up and put it on the silver screen in 1969. In 1977, a Japanese company followed suit, turning Sterling’s book into an anime series called Araiguma Rasukaru. And that’s when the trouble really started. The show was a hit, but Japanese children seemingly skipped the parts about raccoons growing up to be mischievous monsters. Instead, all they saw was a little boy frolicking with a cute pet. Suddenly, raccoons became the number one pet in Japan. In fact, they were so popular that, at one point, 1,500 were imported into the country every year. That’s a lot of raccoons.

As you might assume, this didn’t end well. Quite a few children released their pets, and other raccoons escaped on their own. Eventually, the mammals started spreading out, and even though the government eventually banned any more raccoons from entering the country, it was too little too late. By 2004, the masked bandits had infested 42 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, and since there aren’t any creatures around that can eat them, it’s only a matter of time before their invasion is complete.

So how exactly has the raccoon invasion affected Japan? Well, the pests help themselves to any crops they can find like corn, melons, strawberries, and rice. They regularly rob fish farms and steal cattle feed. In the cities, they raid garbage cans and snatch carp out of koi ponds. When they need a place to stay, they often creep inside human homes, and it’s estimated they’ve damaged over 80 percent of Japan’s temples. Even worse, they’re pushing out native species and threatening others with extinction. One of their favorite meals is the Tokyo salamander which is considered threatened, and in 1997, they chased a group of grey herons out of their traditional breeding grounds in Nopporo Forest Park. The birds haven’t come back since.

Desperate for solutions, the government announced a plan to cull the raccoons in 2004, but things didn’t exactly work out. Because people don’t like killing cute and cuddly creatures, there was a huge public outcry. Sadly, it looks like raccoons are now a permanent part of the Japanese ecosystem—an ecosystem they’re slowly destroying. But hey, at least they look adorable while doing it.

Guess the folks in Japan should come to the southern states and learn about 'coons first hand! I wonder if they need us to send them a few 'Coon dogs?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Back up to 70 again today!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

First Recorded Gunfight For Western Wednesday...!

What better topic for Western Wednesday than a good ol' gunfight?

No one is really sure about the fact that this was the first or not, but it seems to be universally accepted as such. Anyway, it makes for a good western story to tell today!

The First Real Shootout In The Wild, Wild West
By Nolan Moore on Saturday, April 12, 2014

We all know gunfighters didn’t really square off against each other like the characters in Shane and Gunsmoke . . . only sometimes they did. While it was extremely rare, a few shootists really did meet in the middle of the street to slap leather and do battle. In fact, the first real Wild West showdown (that we know about) was between a man named Davis Tutt and the infamous Wild Bill Hickock himself.

You’ve seen it in countless westerns. The good guy and the bad guy meet in the street at high noon. They stare at each other for a few seconds, eyes twitching and sweat pouring, before drawing their pistols. They’re both fast, but the hero is faster. He fans the hammer, and the villain crumples over and dies. It’s a classic Western showdown and almost pure Hollywood nonsense . . . almost. While the real West was far less violent than the way it’s portrayed in movies, there were times when gunmen settled their differences by calling each other out and stepping into the street.

The first known, genuine Western showdown took place on July 21, 1865. The setting was Springfield, Missouri, and the combatants were Civil War veteran Davis Tutt and professional gambler James Butler Hickock (who would later earn the nickname “Wild Bill”). While the men were originally friends, their admiration eventually turned to animosity. Legend says the feuding started thanks to the oldest troublemaker known to man: love. Or at least lust. Some claim Hickock impregnated Tutt’s sister, and the ex-soldier was putting the moves on Hickock’s main girl, Susanna Moore. Whatever drove the men apart, the real fireworks got started over a game of cards.

It was July 20, 1865, and Hickock was making his living at the Lyon House Hotel. The evening started getting tense when the gambler refused to play poker with Tutt. In retaliation, Davis aided Wild Bill’s competitors, giving them advice and bankrolling them. However, Hickock was a skilled card player and won nearly $200 of Tutt’s money.

Eventually, an angry Tutt claimed Hickock owed him a sizable chunk of change from a previous game. When the gambler denied the allegation, Tutt reached across the table and snatched Hickock’s prized pocketwatch, explaining he’d keep the timepiece until Bill paid him back. Hickock knew better than to start a fight since the table was full of Tutt’s buddies. However, he made it clear the veteran shouldn’t wear the watch in public. Of course, that’s exactly what Tutt planned on doing. Infuriated, Hickock told Tutt’s friend, “He shouldn’t come across that [town] square unless dead men can walk.”

Tutt accepted the challenge, and the next day, right before 6:00 PM, the men met in the middle of town. Just as he’d promised, Tutt was wearing the pocketwatch. The Civil War vet started striding across the square, but when he was about 70 meters (75 yards) away, Hickock called out, “Don’t come any closer, Dave.” That’s when both men turned sideways, standing like traditional duelists. At nearly the same time, the men pulled their pistols and fired. However, Davis fired single-handed and missed by a wide shot. Hickock, however, rested his Navy Colt on his left forearm, took aim and shot Davis Tutt in the ribs. The mortally wounded gunman staggered away, gasping, “Boys, I’m killed,” before keeling over dead.

Hickock was later acquitted of all charges and went on to a career as a lawman before someone shot him in the back of the head in 1876. As for the Hickock-Tutt showdown, its legend lived on, influencing practically every western novel, movie and TV show ever made. seems that drawing first wasn't always the key to winning a gunfight. Aiming the gun could help a whole lot! That's just my opinion.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Looks like it's shaping up to be a fine day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Paying The Ultimate Price...!

Once in a great while, some ordinary folks become true heroes by doing what needs to be done, despite of the personal cost!

It takes a rare amount of courage to knowingly take on a job that will certainly cause your death. These 3 men knew what would happen if someone didn't volunteer, so they paid the ultimate price. Like I said, it takes a special person to do something like this!

When Three Divers Swam Into The Jaws Of Chernobyl
By Will on Sunday, April 13, 2014

During the well-documented Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a pool of water used for emergencies in case of a break in the cooling pumps or steam pipes became flooded with a highly radioactive liquid that was in danger of blowing up. The size and specific conditions meant it could have caused virtually the whole of Europe to be enveloped in radiation. Three divers equipped with wetsuits and a faulty lamp dove in to allow the water to drain, with full knowledge they’d die as a result.

Ten days after the initial explosions and resulting disaster, another potential disaster in the making was uncovered among the smouldering debris of the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Water that was used to try and fight the flames unsuccessfully had become contaminated and then pooled beneath the reactor core. The reactor had had substances such as clay, sand, and boron dropped onto it by helicopters in an attempt to smother the flames. The resulting mixture was like lava and was slowly burning through the floor. Had it reached the water, the resulting fallout would have turned most of Europe into a nuclear wasteland caused by a mass steam explosion.

The only way to drain this water was by opening the gates. And the only way to do this was if someone dived down into the highly radioactive and contaminated water. Whoever did that would almost certainly die.

Three men volunteered: Valeri Bezpalov and Alexie Ananenko who were engineers from the plant, and Boris Baranov was another plant worker. With full knowledge of the danger and with basic scuba gear and a dodgy lamp, they dived down to find the valve. Despite Boris’ lamp failing while diving down, the trio found the valve to open the gates and swam back up. Twenty-thousand tons of water was drained out, and a report stated that had the dive not taken place to open the gates, a thermonuclear explosion would have occurred as a result.

Valeri and Alexie died two weeks later in a Moscow hospital with Boris succumbing to death not long after. Due to the high radioactivity levels on their bodies, they were buried in lead coffins that were soldered shut.

Their brave actions no doubt saved hundreds of thousands of lives throughout Europe.

Not much else you can say about the action of these men and their actions. Better men than I'll ever be, I think!

Coffee in the kitchen again this morning. Too wet and windy to be outside!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday's Mystery Is The Brain...!

Probably the most mysterious part of all humans is the brain. We know less about the human brain and how it all works than any other part of our make-up.

Countless hours of study and research have yielded a few results, but in many cases we end up with more questions than answers. That probably happens more than we know! Anyway, today's mystery is about one of the aspects of the human brain.

Human Brains Have Nearly Unlimited Storage
By Joshua T. Garcia on Sunday, March 30, 2014

When we learn new facts, we aren’t forced to “delete” old ones. That’s because our brains don’t work like hard drives or bookshelves. In fact, the memory space in our ol’ noggins is so large, that we can’t possibly hope to fill it within our lifetimes. It’s effectively unlimited. The brain is also not as broad a storage unit as a hard drive, as it has different ways of storing memories that help prioritize what’s important and what isn’t (and is unable to delete things at will).

“ ’You appear to be astonished,’ he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. ‘Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.’ ”

It’s perhaps one of the most famous interactions in the Sherlock Holmes franchise: Dr. John Watson, having just explained to Holmes that the Earth revolves around the Sun, is rebuffed by Holmes, who declares that it isn’t important.

Featured in A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes declares that the human brain has a limited amount of space, like an attic, and shouldn’t be crowded with impractical facts. It’s an interesting idea, but it’s totally untrue.

The human brain is very different from an attic, or bookshelf, or, for a more modern analogy, a hard drive. Memories are not stored in a single place but are reconstructed from various areas in the brain. This enables the brain, more or less, to store an unlimited amount of information for an indefinite period of time. During the course of one lifetime, it would be impossible to fill the memory space of the human brain. Some have estimated that the brain is somewhere close to a million gigabytes.

Different types of memory include sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. When something has been moved into long-term memory, your brain will be more effective at remembering it. For example, you’d obviously be better at reciting a poem you’ve memorized instead of one you’ve just read.

What about the crowds of impractical facts? The brain has automatic mechanisms for prioritizing what’s important and what isn’t. The answer to the math question you solved on the third day of eighth grade probably wouldn’t be too easy to recall. Your first kiss, on the other hand, can probably be remembered instantly.

It’s impossible to delete a memory at will, but sometimes memories can be completely forgotten. Complete photographic memory is a bit of a myth, though there are people who have extreme recall abilities. But your brain prioritizes things for a reason: People with eidetic memory can have difficulty making it through a day because of all the information they have to sift through.

I guess that the main part of the brain studies I want to know about, is the actual effects that age has on the memory functions and data storage of our grey matter. That's the part that seems to most affect me as I get older!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning, Showers are in the forecast!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Means Cartoons...!

I was toying with the idea of NOT doing the cartoons anymore, but what the heck...they are fun!

I know a few folks don't like them and think it's a waste, but if you look at it as a history lesson of what used to be entertainment it all makes sense! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

See? Some of these 'toons are older than many of us. Certainly older than I am(snicker...snicker)!

I know that you're smiling! I can almost see it! See...this ain't so bad, is it?

Well, I guess that there always has to be some bad mixed in with the good!

Gosh! Don't you just love a happy ending? I always did! So...that's all the 'toons for today! I hope you enjoyed them!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. If it starts to rain we will run inside to the kitchen, OK?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

One Is A Lonely Number...!

I found a story over at KnowledgeNutsthat I felt needed to be shared with everyone.

This is the story of a single man doing what he can under dire circumstances to care for those unable to care for themselves. The fact that those he is caring for are animals is not important to him. All he knows is that someone needed to do something to help them, and he stepped up when no one else would. To him the answer was simple and humane. Go and care for the animals to the best of his ability, regardless of what the authorities say!

The Most Radioactive (And Lonely) Man In Japan
By Nolan Moore on Friday, April 11, 2014

After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, the citizens of Tomioka, Japan were ordered to evacuate. Today, the city is still a ghost town, totally uninhabited except for one man. His name is Naoto Matsumura, and he returned to Tomioka to take care of the town’s animals.

Naoto Matsumura is a rice farmer living in Tomioka, Japan. In fact, he’s the only person living in Tomioka, Japan. The city is only 9.5 kilometers (6 mi) away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and after a devastating tsunami led to a nuclear meltdown in 2011, the government quickly evacuated the little town. Naoto cleared out with his parents, but then he started worrying about the animals he’d left behind. Unwilling to let his livestock starve, he jumped into his pickup truck and headed back to Tomioka, one of the most radioactive sites in Japan.

When the Fukushima Daiichi plant started spewing radiation, it leaked the equivalent of 168 Hiroshimas into the surrounding environment. While today the town sits outside of the “exclusion zone,” when Naoto went back in 2011, the city was a hotbed of radioactivity. In fact, anyone in Tomioka would expose themselves to 17 times the amount of radiation a normal person comes into contact with on a daily basis. Nevertheless, Naoto ignored the police barricades and drove inside. He was a man on a mission.

When Naoto first returned, he was shocked to see how many animals had been abandoned. The government had assured evacuees they’d come back in no time, so the frightened citizens left behind their dogs and cats. Now, the animals were hungry and thirsty, many of them trapped inside buildings or still tied up. Concerned, Naoto started driving through town, rescuing animals in distress and making sure all of them had enough food and water. Eventually, most of the pets wandered off into the woods, but Naoto still had his work cut out for him.

Quite a few people in Tomioka were farmers, and their livestock was dying in droves. In one grisly scene, Naoto found 120 dead cows inside a barn, all of which had died of starvation. Eventually, the government decided to wipe out all the animals for their own good. However, Naoto stepped up and said, “I will take care of them.” Since then, he’s built a corral out of pipes, with plenty of room for his 31 cows to move around. In addition to the bovines, Naoto is caring for two cats, one dog, one horse, four wild pigs, and even an ostrich. No doubt about it, Naoto is a busy man.

However, life is pretty tough for the animals’ champion. There’s no electricity in town so he cranks up generators at night and uses a solar panel to charge his computer and cell phone. Sustenance is also a major issue, and for a while, Naoto ate and drank contaminated food and water. Now that his cause has received media attention, he relies on relief supplies or occasionally makes trips to pick up goods and gas. Of course, the real concern is the radiation that permeates the town. While today Tomioka is relatively safe (though still largely abandoned), that wasn’t always the case. In fact, doctors told Naoto he has the highest level of radiation exposure in Japan. However, after they said he probably wouldn’t get sick for 30 or 40 more years, he stopped worrying about getting cancer and focused strictly on his animals. “I’ll most likely be dead by then anyway,” he mused, “so I couldn’t care less.”

We often hear talk of someone walking the walk and not just talking the talk, but this man is just doing what his heart tells him is the right thing. In doing so, I can say that he has certainly earned my respect! I can honestly say that he is a much better man than I am!
>br/> Coffee out on the patio this morning! Want to help weed the garden?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Heard Of The "Quaker Gun"...?

Now this is one that somehow slipped past my knowledge base. I don't know how that could happen!Must be an sage thing, ya know?

In case of war, strange things can turn the tide in battle. What may seem like a crazy idea may just be the secret to winning the battle. Enter the strange world of Quaker Guns!

A Counterfeit Cannon Convinced The Enemy To Give Up

Quaker guns are logs or other similar materials painted black and made to resemble real artillery pieces. Named after the pacifist Society of Friends, or Quakers, these fake guns have been used in a variety of wars to frighten or fool the enemy. One rare instance of a Quaker gun actually effecting a surrender came during Colonel William Washington’s campaign in South Carolina on December 4, 1780.

The colonel—who also happened to be George Washington’s second cousin—had found 115 Loyalists holed up in a fortified barn. In a show of quick wit, Washington secretly had a pine log painted to look like a cannon and threatened to open fire if the defenders did not yield. His efforts paid off with the unconditional surrender of Colonel Rowland Rugeley and all his men. To add insult to injury, the defeated men later discovered that the cannon was a fake.

Now this is really a cool way to mess with the enemy, as long as they don't call your bluff! I guess that this "weapon" would be popular with the peaceniks of the world!

Coffee out on the patio today! I have some strawberry cake, OK?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let's Talk Fortune Cookies...!

I know that a lot of folks have had some fortune cookies before, but did you ever know where they actually came from?

There is actually a very interesting history behind this humble little snack. Some folks like them and some folks don't, but I'll take any extra that no one wants, OK? I never really gave much thought as to where they originated, but was more than a little surprised when I found this article at KnowledgeNuts. I love finding out about new stuff!

Fortune Cookies Aren’t Chinese
By Debra Kelly on Saturday, January 25, 2014

No Chinese meal would be complete without elegantly folded, fortune-stuffed cookies for dessert. The only problem is, they’re not Chinese. They originated in Japan and are mentioned in fiction and art as early as 1878. Just how they became associated with Chinese restaurants is a bit hazy, but researchers believe it has something to do the popularity of Chinese restaurants skyrocketing after many Japanese restaurants were closed during World War II.

Ask any American what the key components to an authentic Chinese meal is and they’re almost guaranteed to include fortune cookies in the list. There’s always a handful thrown into take-out bags, and there are always some left on the table at a Chinese buffet. The only problem is, this absolutely quintessential Chinese food is absolutely not Chinese at all.

In fact, they’re not even served in China. There, they’re known as an American thing.

The oldest references to the creation of fortune cookies as we know them today comes from a handful of family-run bakeries outside of Kyoto. There, they’re called suzu senbei (“bell crackers”), tsujiura senbei (“fortune crackers”), or omikuji senei (“written fortune crackers”). They look a little different than the ones that Americans are accustomed to seeing, made with a darker batter that usually contains sesame, and the cookies are slightly larger. Instead of being wrapped inside the cookie, the fortune is usually pinched between the cookie’s two arms. The resemblance, though, is undeniable.

These larger, darker version of the fortune cookie have been made by small Japanese bakeries decades before they were ever known in America—or China. So far, some of the earliest known mentions of them are in literature and art dating back to 1878, while the earliest mentions of fortune cookies in the United States are from 1907–1914. Other mentions of the fortune cookie are found in undated works by a Japanese author who lived from 1790–1843.

And while they might have been invented there, fortune cookies aren’t even that popular in Japan. When university graduate student Yasuko Nakamachi published her findings on the source of the fortune cookie, it didn’t even get much press.

So how did they become synonymous with Chinese cuisine in America?

Fortune cookies gained popularity during World War II, where they first started popping up in California restaurants—not surprising, given the number of Japanese immigrants who settled in the state. Before the war, the path of the fortune cookie is a little less straightforward. One of the major contenders for bringing the sweet treat to America is Makoto Hagiwara, who served them with tea at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco.

It’s thought that the cookies became known as a staple in Chinese food because of the number of Chinese restaurants that opened in the wake of Japanese restaurants that were forced to close during World War II. When Japanese immigrants were forced into internment camps, Chinese restaurants picked up on the dessert cookie. And when soldiers started passing through California on their return from the Pacific front, they were introduced to the cookie and helped spread it to the rest of the country.

The debate of who invented the fortune cookie in its present American state was so hotly contested that there was even a legal battle of it. In 1983, descendents of Hagiwara and of David Jung went to court to see who had the strongest claim to the cookie. David Jung, once owner of Los Angeles’s Hong Kong Noodle Company, claimed to have invented the cookie when he inserted Bible verses in the hard pastry and handed the cookies out to the city’s homeless as inspiration.

Hagiwara won, giving the Japanese contender the credit for bringing the iconic fortune cookie to America.

Just think! If you are ever in a trivia discussion and this comes up, you can astound everyone with your knowledge of the humble origins of the wonderful Fortune Cookie! Isn't that special?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I have some sugar cookies to share!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sequoyah On Western Wednesday...!

When folks can invent something new, something never seen before, that's really special. At least, it seems to me that it would be!

But there are inventions...and then there are really great inventions! This one falls into the latter group, I think. See if you don't agree!

Sequoyah, The Illiterate Man Who Created A Language
By Eric Yosomono on Monday, April 7, 2014

Sequoyah was a member of the Cherokee Native American tribe. An illiterate silversmith, he needed a way to track his clients and do other paperwork. So over several years, this man who couldn’t read or write any language developed an entire new writing system for the spoken language of the Cherokee people.

Through conquest, cultural absorption, and colonial assimilation, the world’s writing systems have been reduced from hundreds to a handful. Today, the Europe-based Latin alphabet is in use throughout the Western Hemisphere, replacing native languages like Mayan Aztec; similarly, Arabic has replaced the ancient writing systems of the Middle East and beyond. Yet a small island smack dab in the center of America remains: the syllabic Cherokee language. The language is all the more amazing considering it was created around 1820 by a man named Sequoyah (or as he was known in the European community, “George Gist”). A member of the Cherokee First Nation, Sequoyah couldn’t read or write any language yet managed to develop a functional new language that has stood the test of time and is still in use by the Cherokee today.

In the early 1800s, George Gist was a silversmith with many clients, but as he was illiterate, he had no way of keeping track of customer orders or writing to suppliers. While living among the Europeans, he was always amazed by the English written language and thought that what he called “talking leaves” were the source of white power and success. Initially, he tried to create a logographic language (where every symbol is a word or an idea, similar to the Chinese written language). Having a symbol for each word soon became hard to memorize each character and cumbersome to read, write, and learn. Instead, his family and friends helped him decipher the Cherokee language into a group of phonetic sounds to which he then assigned a unique symbol, often borrowing from the English alphabet. However, because he still couldn’t read English there is little connection between the sound of an English letter and the Cherokee syllable.

The language was quickly adopted by both the leaders of the Cherokee Nation and the Europeans who dealt with the Cherokee people. In a moment of clarity and forward thinking not often seen among other Christian leaders, missionaries printed up bibles in the Cherokee language and the Baptist missionary society had the language adopted in their missionary Cherokee schools. With a written language based on their spoken language, literacy rates of the Cherokee were soon much higher than the surrounding European communities. (This is in direct contrast to the heartbreaking stories of the Canadian First Nation residential school system whose missionaries banned all use of native languages and only allowed French or English in their schools.)

Many North American tribes did not have such progressive European leaders, and their children were usually forbidden from using their own native languages. This created a disconnect from their native communities and oral history that in turn led to a loss of identity. These negative feelings affected the native notions about the education system, creating multiple generations of native peoples who, due to depression from the time spent in the residential schools, plummeted into cycles of abuse and poverty.

A writing system wasn’t a magic bullet for the Cherokee people; they too were betrayed by the American government which famously ripped up treaty after treaty whenever resources were discovered on tribal land. The horrific forced march of the Trail of Tears killed thousands and left the native people uprooted from their traditional land. Later, they backed the losing side during the American Civil War and lost their government structure when the Curtis Act of 1898 dissolved all Cherokee government institutions. Through all this, they were able to keep their language alive and remain a literate people.

Now I for one find this astonishing. Just imagine...someone that could neither read or write created an entire written language for his people. That's what I mean about there being some really GREAT inventions!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. The winds are blowing pretty good, but it's warm and sunny!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Real "Mr. Fancy Pants!"

Now this is something you don't see everyday, or even hear about! If I hadn't seen the photograph, I would have said "no way!"

Thanks to the internet and all the historical photos out there, we can learn about some of the more unusual ways folks dressed for war or merely to impress someone!

Captain Richardson And His Jaguar Pants

Captain Samuel J. Richardson fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. We’d like to go into more detail about what exactly Richardson got up to during the war, but his pants have rather eclipsed the rest of his exploits. All we know for sure is that he led a volunteer company of soldiers called the W.P. Lane Rangers.

Captain Richardson rode into battle wearing a pair of jaguar-hide pants, with a set of matching holsters, presumably made from either the same jaguar’s cubs or another, smaller jaguar. Though it’s commonly accepted that the pants are indeed genuine jaguar hide, it’s not known how Richardson came to own them. The best guess of historians is that they were hunted and killed somewhere near Texas. Whether Richardson hunted them personally or they just leaped onto his legs out of fear isn’t clear, but we’re going with the latter.

I wonder if the fur pants were any more comfortable than the wool uniforms? All I can say is better him than me! Heck, I didn't even know we had jaguars in Texas!

Coffee out on the patio today.Should be a nice day!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sorry, But It's Time For A Day Off...!

Every once in a while we all need to take a day off...even us ol' retired folks!

I've been trying to do a post every day, regardless of anything else. However, seems as though my mind isn't on the same page and I am flat out of steam right now! As it is I have about half the day set aside to run some errands for Mom, and that just wears me out at times. Anyway, all that being said, I need a day off! Sorry about that, but it is needed!

Have a great day and feel free to stop by the patio for a cup if you wish!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"How To" Toons For Sunday...!

I figured we would have some 'toons on how-to-do-it today. Never hurts to have some extra know how, does it?

Of course, I'll present these tips in cartoons to make them easier to understand...not to mention more enjoyable!

Now, isn't this fun? NO? Well, maybe it'll get better!

This one is specially for folks like ol' Billy Bob that likes to swat them golf balls!

I reckon we can squeeze one more into the mix, just to round thing off!

Well. now that you know all the how to things...I reckon it's time for a nap! Heck, that last one alone made me sleepy!

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

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Scary Disease For Saturday...!

The main reason I wanted to put this on today is because it is so unusual! It's also very terrifying, to say the least.

You might be interested in knowing that none other than Mr. Thomas Edison help to cause this in at least one unknowing person. Nasty move, I'd say! Here's the story from our friends over at Listverse.

Peabody’s Diminutionentry

Ever had a really bad migraine? Is your favorite baseball cap a little looser than it used to be? If you touch your earlobe with your thumb, does your pinky finger reach the outside edge of your opposite eye? If so, you might be experiencing the beginnings of a dangerous malady—Peabody’s Diminution.

Stop for a minute and think of all the radiation flying around the world today. These days, radios are in everything: cell phones, GPS units, microwave ovens . . . even clock-radios. And there’s ample evidence that radio waves are the evil guiding force behind a slow-acting malady that’s taking the globe by (silent) storm.

The first sufferer was a Mr. Whittaker Peabody, an early test subject of Thomas Edison’s. When radio waves were first discovered, Edison (known for a bit of cruelty in his experiments) picked one man to test the effects of the waves on. After several years of direct exposure to the skull, Mr. Peabody’s head began to shrink. He reported crippling migraines and excruciating pain. He soon left Edison’s employ, but the effects continued until his head was about the size of his fist.

All photos and records of the tests have been suppressed by the government, doubtless part of some mind control scheme. The above is probably the only one in existence and has held its terrible secret all these years. We only learned of it through the gracious cooperation of the Peabody estate, although they will certainly face repercussions for allowing us to publish the story and the photo.

Well, it's nice to know that Edison was such a caring and thoughtful person when it came to research. Too bad he failed to mention to Mr. Peabody that the side effects might be tough to live with! Of course the government won't release any further information! It's for our protection, don't ya know?

Coffee out on the patio again! Lemon cake all around!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Food For Thought...!

Here is something else that Baby Sis sent to me, and as usual I wanted to share it with you! Some of these are pretty good and I know you've heard many of them before.

1. In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.
-- John Adams

2. If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.
-- Mark Twain 

3. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.
-- Mark Twain 

4. I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. 
--Winston Churchill 

 5. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. 
-- George Bernard Shaw 

 6. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. 
-- G. Gordon Liddy 

7. Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. 
--James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994) 

8. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. 
-- Douglas Case, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

9. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
-- P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian 

10. Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavours to live at the expense of everybody else. 
-- Frederic Bastiat, French economist(1801-1850) 

11. Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. 
--Ronald Reagan (1986) 

12. I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. 
-- Will Rogers 

13. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free! 
-- P. J. O'Rourke 

14. In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. 
--Voltaire (1764) 

15. Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you! 
-- Pericles (430 B.C.) 

16. No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. 
-- Mark Twain (1866) 

17. Talk is cheap, except when Congress does it. 
-- Anonymous 

18. The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. 
-- Ronald Reagan 

19. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. 
-- Winston Churchill 

20. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. 
-- Mark Twain 

21. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. 
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

22. There is no distinctly Native American criminal class, save Congress. 
-- Mark Twain 

23. What this country needs are more unemployed politicians 
--Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995

 24. A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. 
-- Thomas Jefferson 

25. We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. 
-- Aesop 

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. 
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. 
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. 
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation!

Like I said, many of you have heard these before...but the funny thing about the truth is that it will always be the truth! Know what I mean?

Coffee out on the patio again today! Man, I could get real used to this!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Presidential Curse Of Death...!

Here is something that I actually did not know! If I ever did know it, I've forgotten it. Not hard to forget at my age!

Evidently, those old Indian curses were some powerful stuff. That is, if you believe in that sort of thing. Even if you aren't a believer, it's one heck of a coincidence!

The Mysterious, Repeating Presidential Death Curse

The Battle of Tippecanoe was a victory for the United States government against the Shawnee Indians, but according to legend, it was also a curse. Since that battle, any president elected in a year ending with “0″ died in office, a phenomenon often attributed to a hex laid on the office by the losing side at Tippecanoe. When Ronald Reagan survived his assassination attempt, it seemed like the curse had been broken. The survival of George W. Bush reinforced that notion.

Tecumseh was a powerful Shawnee Indian chief from the Ohio territory, known for his resistance of US authority. Tecumseh was not a stranger to war and in 1811 found himself leading a force against future president William Henry Harrison at Tippecanoe. Tecumseh lost—and thus was born the Curse of Tippecanoe (also variously referred to as the 20-Year Death Curse, or the Curse of Tecumseh).

According to myth, Tecumseh (or sometimes his brother, a medicine man named Tenskwatawa) laid a curse on the presidency for his loss at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Tecumseh was later killed at the Battle of Thames in 1813, fighting another army led by Harrison.

Appropriately enough, Harrison was the first president to die under the curse. Harrison was elected in 1840, and died of pneumonia a month after his election. Following Harrison’s death, any president elected or re-elected in a year ending with “0″ died in office.

Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860. He was famously assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theatre at the start of his second term in 1865. James A. Garfield was elected in 1880. He was shot in July the following year at a railroad station in Washington and died of his wounds in September.

William McKinley was elected for a second term in 1900. He was shot in 1901, while greeting his audience after a speech in Buffalo, New York. Warren G. Harding was elected in 1920. In 1923, he died of unknown causes—possibly a heart attack, stroke, or poison.

And it just keeps going. Franklin Roosevelt was elected to his third term in 1940. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in his fourth term in 1945.

John F. Kennedy was elected in 1960. He was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963 while riding through Dallas.

Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. John Hinckley Jr., desperate to impress Jodie Foster (ironically a lesbian), thought it would be a good idea to assassinate Reagan. Hinckley shot him in 1981. But, unlike the previous seven presidents, Reagan survived, the bullet barely missing his heart. The next president elected in a year ending with a zero—George W. Bush—also survived his presidency, implying that Reagan has broken the curse.

No historical evidence exists for the attribution of any curse to either Tecumseh or Tenskwatawa. Their apparent affinity for the number zero also remains unexplained.

During the period of the curse, one other president died in office: Zachary Taylor was elected in 1848, and died in 1850 of a stomach virus.

I guess the moral of this story is...if you are going to run for president, better know for sure when you were born! If you have the wrong birthday, then it's all on you if you run, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this fine and beautiful morning! That OK with you?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Hangman For Western Wednesday...!

It's an unfortunate fact that one job necessary in the Old West, was that of the hangman. Some of them were better known than others!

I found an article telling of one of the better known hangman of the time, Mr. George Maledon. His history is an interesting one, I think.

May 6, 1911:
Hangman George Maledon dies

George Maledon, the man who executed at least 60 men for "Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker, dies from natural causes in Tennessee.

Few men actively seek out the job of hangman and Maledon was no exception. Raised by German immigrants in Detroit, Michigan, Maledon moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas, in his late teens and joined the city police force. He joined the Union Army during the Civil War, and he then returned to Fort Smith where he was appointed a U.S. deputy marshal. The town also had occasional need of an executioner, and Maledon agreed to take on the grisly task in addition to his regular duties as a marshal.

Maledon wound up with more business than he expected. In 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed a young prosecuting attorney named Isaac Parker to be the federal judge of the Western District of Arkansas. Headquartered at Fort Smith, the Western District was one of the most notoriously corrupt in the country, and it included the crime-ridden Indian Territory to the west (in present-day Oklahoma). Indian Territory had become a refuge for rustlers, murderers, thieves, and fugitives, and Parker's predecessor often accepted bribes to look the other way. Assigned an unprecedented force of 200 U.S. marshals to restore order, Parker began a massive dragnet that led to the arrest of many criminals. A friend of the Indians and more sympathetic to the victims of crimes than the criminals, Parker doled out swift justice in his court. In his first months in session he tried 91 defendants and sentenced eight of them to hang.

It was Maledon's job to carry out Judge Parker's death sentences. Paid $100 for each hanging, Maledon willingly accepted the work. He tried to be a conscientious hangman who minimized suffering with a quick death. Maledon said he considered the job "honorable and respectable work and I mean to do it well."

In all, Maledon is believed to have hanged about 60 men and to have shot five more who tried to escape. Subsequent sensational accounts of the Fort Smith "Hanging Judge" unfairly painted Parker as a cruel sadist with Maledon as his willing henchman. Yet, it is well to keep in mind that 65 marshals were also killed in the line of duty attempting to bring law and order to Indian Territory during Parker's term.

After Parker died from diabetes in 1896, Maledon met a publicity-seeking attorney named J. Warren Reed, who had written a lurid account of the Fort Smith court entitled Hell on the Border. Attracted by the promise of fame and money, Maledon joined Reed in a promotional tour for the book. He willingly played the role of the ghoulish hangman, displaying ropes he had preserved and telling which were used to execute various outlaws.

After a year of touring, Maledon tired of the limelight and used his earnings to purchase a farm. A small man with a weak constitution, he did not have the strength to work the farm profitably, and soon after entered a soldier's home at Johnson City, Tennessee, where he remained until his death in 1911.

Like I said, this was not a job that just anyone could do in a humanr fashion, if there is such a thing. As the old saying goes, it's a dirty job but someone had to do it!

Coffee out on the patio again. Some breakfast tacos would be nice, right?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Amazing Tree Trainer...!

There was one gentleman who grew trees in many different shapes! He was a master of this unusual art.

Like many artist with an special talent, he never shared the secret of his "tree shaping" with anyone! Quite a few of his creations are still around and you can find pictures of some of them on the Internet, if you like!

Axel Erlandson
1884 – 1964

Erlandson started as an alfalfa farmer and started grafting and shaping tree trunks as a hobby. He would later over a period of decades train trees to grow into shapes of his own design. He experimented with birch, ash, elm and weeping willows, making loops, hearts, chairs, spiral staircases, zigzags, rings, birdcages, towers, picture frames and ladders. Erlandson found his trees to be a popular amusement and decided to create his “Tree Circus”. Erlandson would not tell anyone the secrets of his techniques and would carryout his graftings behind screens to protect against spies. Erlandson died in 1964 along with his amazing secret procedure used to propagate his trees.

Interesting Fact: In 1985, after the Tree Circus went out of business the trees were bought by millionaire Michael Bonfante and were transplanted in his amusement park Gilroy Gardens in Gilroy, California.

Isn't nice to know that some folks can assist Mother Nature just a bit by shaping some of her creations into growing works of art? What a creative and active imagination this man had!

Coffee outside again! The wind is starting to pick up some, but it can't blow the sunshine away!