Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Shocking Story For Tuesday...!

I think I've talked about this lady before, but she seems to be worth another look.

This story falls into the realm of unsolved mysteries we talked about yesterday. It's fun for all of us to study, but probably not so for the people involved.

Jacqueline Priestman
The Electrifying Lady

The Stockport, Manchester (England) mother’s ordeal began in 1980. Following an argument with her first husband, Ron, Jacqueline shouted, “I hope you break your neck!” Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. After Ron sped away from the house on his scooter, he was involved in an accident resulting in spine and neck fractures. After a month in the hospital, he died, leaving Jacqueline devastated by guilt.

Not long afterward, a lightbulb in Jacqueline’s bathroom exploded. Her arm was cut by flying glass. She put the cause down to a faulty bulb. When her vacuum cleaner kept burning out—a repairman could find no cause—and another lightbulb exploded, she became convinced her home was haunted by the ghost of her dead husband.

Moving house didn’t help. Electrical appliances continued to go haywire in her presence. The stove and vacuum cleaners she bought kept burning out. The television changed channels on its own or the picture distorted. The radio switched channels without being touched too. She also received and delivered severe electrical shocks. Some grocery stores and appliance shops attempted to ban her. After she married her second husband, an electrician, the strange and frightening phenomena continued to occur.

The depressed woman, who suffered headaches and fainting spells, contemplated suicide. Psychic mediums and investigators failed to find a cause. Once, a visiting reporter accused Jacqueline of fraud, making her so angry, the vacuum cleaner burst into flames.

At last, a visiting professor provided the key to Jacqueline’s dilemma: both he and her second husband, Paul, believed she suffered from an extreme build-up of static electricity—more than 10 times the normal amount—in her body. By sticking to a special diet and daily program which included walking around the house holding onions to discharge the surplus electricity, Jacqueline’s problem gradually diminished. However, in 1985, her fourth child (a daughter) was born and immediately began exhibiting signs of taking after her mother by giving the midwife a static shock.

What was the cause of Jacqueline’s condition, sometimes called High Voltage Syndrome? Why did her symptoms begin after the death of her first husband? The answers to these questions will probably never be known for sure.

I can't help but feel sad for the woman and her family. How terrible having something like that hanging over your head.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Strange Fires For Monday Mysteries...!

No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to solve some of natures greatest mysteries.

All of our technology, all our best minds and scientific knowledge are sometimes just not good enough. This is certainly one of those cases, I think.

The Caronia Fires

Photo via Wikimedia

Caronia is a small town on the northwest coast of Sicily, situated between a railroad and the sea. In the early months of 2004, the town’s Canneto area was the site of a string of inexplicable fires and bizarre electrical activity. There were reports of mattresses, chairs, televisions, kitchen appliances, unconnected electrical wires, and a variety of other objects suddenly bursting into flames for no apparent reason. Cars locked themselves and mobile phones rang without being called. The incidents briefly stopped when the town’s power supply was shut off, but they began again several weeks later and have struck periodically since then.

While the local population has attributed the source to everything from the devil to poltergeists to UFOs, government officials, scientists, and representatives from the railway and telephone companies have all been unable to provide a conclusive answer. Some experts have suggested electrical charges released by underground volcanic shifts are to blame, but the head of the Sicilian Civil Protection Agency felt no clear cause could be found: “The cause of the fires seems to have been static electric charges. What we don’t understand is why there were these static electric charges.”

See what I mean? No definite answers, no solid solutions, just lingering wonder. Thanks to the folks at Listverse for posting these little known mysteries rfor us to study!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. More rain coming, so they say.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Again Already...?

I reckon it is and that means cartoons. Seems like wqe are stuck in a rut, doesn't it?

And one more old one to rock your boat!

Thank gtoodness for YouTube and these older 'toons. Helps to get the day started, right?

Coffee out on the hot patio this morning.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Saturday Spider Story...!

Remember the days of the Saturday night horror movies? Many of them had some scary spiders and such, right?

Well, sometimes Mother Nature can go one better than the old movie monsters. That's where this guy comes in.

Darwin’s Bark Spider

Photo credit: Ingi Agnarsson, MatjaĆŸ Kuntner, Todd A. Blackledge

This next spider hails from the island of Madagascar, one of the richest hot spots of plant and animal diversity in the world. The Darwin’s bark spider (Caerostris darwini), officially discovered in 2009 but known about since early 2000, is no exception to this rule. It is to date the only spider in the world that builds its web systems over bodies of water like rivers and small lakes.

While that alone makes it unique, this spider also makes the biggest orb web of any single spider known to science. Some Darwin’s bark spiderwebs stretch to cover an area of 3 square meters (30 ft2). The web’s strength has been described as about 10 times stronger than kevlar body armor. This would make this particular spiderweb the toughest biological substance to date. This incredibly impressive specimen earned the right to be named in honor of Charles Darwin on the 200th anniversary of On The Origin of Species.

I don't think I'm ready to know that a spider big enough to hang a web across a creek or small lake may be out there waiting for me. Maybe I'll stick to the old fashioned movie monsters, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Truman Capote Beat Bogart...?

I know you've heard the old saying "don't judge a book by the cover", but in this case it was proven so true!

The Thought of someone like Bogart being bested by the likes of Capote is so unthinkable to most of us that the story is almost freaky. That's how it came to be the post for Freaky Friday!

When Truman Capote Wrestled Humphrey Bogart
By Nolan Moore on Thursday, June 25, 2015

If you were to imagine a tough guy celebrity, you might picture Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone. You probably wouldn’t pick Truman Capote, the guy who wrote In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. But despite his diminutive size and sophisticated personality, Capote was actually a pretty tough dude . . . something Humphrey Bogart found out the hard way.

Before he died in 1957, Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston collaborated on six films, many of which became classics. There are the ever-popular films like The Maltese Falcon and The African Queen. Then there are films like Beat the Devil, one of the quirkiest films to come out of 1950s Hollywood.

Revolving around a gang of scoundrels trying to steal uranium deposits, the movie was filmed on location in Italy. But while the landscapes were scenic, behind the scenes it was anarchy, largely thanks to the screenplay. Evidently, the original script was awful. The censors labeled it unacceptable, but that didn’t matter as John Huston hated the darn thing so much he tore it up.

That’s when Huston hired Truman Capote, the guy who would one day pen In Cold Blood, to do a rewrite. Capote had his work cut out for him as he had to churn out new pages of the script each day, just hours before filming. Yeah, Beat the Devil was filmed on the fly, but Bogart and Huston really admired Truman’s talent.

Of course, they also probably thought he was a weirdo. Capote wasn’t the kind of guy they usually palled around with. Bogart and Huston were hard-drinking, tough-as-nails men-of-action. Capote was tiny, urbane, and incredibly eccentric. He was the kind of guy who called back to the US every day to talk with his pet raven.

So it probably came as a shock when Capote beat Bogart in a wrestling match.

One day, Bogart was challenging people to arm wrestling matches and destroying everyone who dared to compete. Thinking Truman was an easy mark, he asked the writer if he wanted to try his luck and maybe wager $5. Capote accepted and upped the ante to $50. Bogart accepted, and seconds later, his hand was pinned to the table. Stunned, Bogie demanded a rematch, which he also lost. Unable to accept defeat, Bogart wanted to go around a third time, and soon he owed the writer $150.

Bogart was incredibly impressed at Capote’s strength, but Truman insisted it wasn’t brute force. “It’s not that I’m strong,” he said. “It’s just a trick. For instance, I could put you right on your bottom like that.” Now this was going too far, and Bogart challenged Capote to a full-on brawl. It turned out that Capote knew a thing or two about martial arts and judo-flipped Bogart onto the floor. In fact, he injured the actor’s elbow, and Humphrey had to take a break from filming for three days.

And yes, there were witnesses to this crazy showdown. Director John Huston was notably impressed. “He put Bogie on his ass,” the director said. “He was a little bull.”

We used to say "don't let your mouth write checks that your body can't cash", and this is a good example. Sometimes looks are deceiving, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Cinnamon Schneckens this morning, OK?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Some Texas Tidbits From Baby Sis...!

My baby Sis is a tried and true Texican. Serious about it, believe you me! She sent me these little tidbits that I thought you might find interesting, OK?

Here are some little known, but very interesting, Texas tidbits.

1. Port Arthur to El Paso : 889 miles. Port Arthur to Chicago : 770 miles

2. Brownsville to Texline (north of Amarillo ): 956 miles. Texline to Canada : 960 miles

3. El Paso is closer to California than to Dallas

4. World's first rodeo was in Pecos , Tx July 4, 1883.

5. The Flagship Hotel in Galveston is the only hotel in North America built over water. Destroyed by Hurricane Ike - 2008!

6. The Heisman Trophy was named after John William Heisman who was the first full-time coach at Rice University in Houston, Texas .

7. Brazoria County has more species of birds than any other area in North America .

8. Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of North America 's only remaining flock of whooping cranes.

9. Jalapeno jelly originated in Lake Jackson in 1978.

10. The worst natural disaster in US history was in 1900, caused by a hurricane in which over 8,000 lives were lost on Galveston Island .

11. The first word spoken from the moon, July 20, 1969, was " Houston " but the Space Center was actually in Clear Lake City at the time.

12. The King Ranch in South Texas is larger than Rhode Island .

13. Tropical Storm Claudette brought a US rainfall record of 43" in 24 hours in and around Alvin in July of 1979.

14. Texas is the only state to enter the US by TREATY, (known as the Constitution of 1845 by the Republic of Texas to enter the Union )instead of by annexation. This allows the Texas Flag to fly at the same height as the US Flag, and Texas may choose to divide into 5 states.

15. A Live Oak tree near Fulton is estimated to be 1500 years old.

16. Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state.

17. Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. There is no period in Dr Pepper.

18. Texas has had six capital cities: Washington-on-the Brazos, Harrisburg , Galveston , Velasco, West Columbia, and Austin

19. The Capitol Dome in Austin is the only dome in the US which is taller than the Capitol Building in Washington, DC (by 7 feet).

20. The San Jacinto Monument is the tallest free standing monument in the world and it is taller than the Washington Monument .

21. The name ' Texas ' comes from the Hasini Indian word 'tejas' meaning "friends". Tejas is NOT Spanish for Texas

22. The State Mascot is the Armadillo. An interesting bit of trivia about the armadillo is they always have four babies. They have one egg, which splits into four, and they either have four males or four females.

23. The first domed stadium in the US was the Astrodome in Houston

24. The Beck family ranch land grant is one days ride by horse (25 miles) in each direction from the headquarters.

25. The name of the XIT ranch in Dalhart Texas stands for "ten in texas". That means 10 counties in Texas

Cowboy Ten Commandments posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Farlie , Texas :

(1) Just one God.
(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa.
(3) No telling tales or gossipin'.
(4) Git yourself to church meeting.
(5) Put nothin' before God.
(6) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.
(7) No killin'.
(8) Watch yer mouth.
(9) Don't take what ain't yers.
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff.
Did y'all git all that?

Our Liberty is insured by 4 Boxes!
The Ballot Box.
The Jury Box.
The Soap Box.
The Cartridge Box

Just something I thought ytou might enjoy.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Still hot but that's normal for here!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Texas Ranger For Western Wednesday...!

Most folks think that much of what is told about the Texas Rangers is just a myth, but there was a lot of truth in some of the tales of their exploits.

Many of the best known Rangers didn't even dcome from Texas originally. This is the story of one such man.

John B. Armstrong

Yet another Tennessee native, Armstrong clashed with Reconstruction-era authorities at home and ended up moving to Texas in 1872 at the age of 22. He joined the Austin militia unit known as the Travis Rifles before moving on to a company of Texas Rangers led by Captain Leander McNelly. Armstrong’s most famous exploit as a Ranger by far was his capture of John Wesley Hardin in the spring of 1877. Hardin, Texas’ most infamous gunfighter, was said to have killed at least 20 men in the decade following the Civil War; some said the total reached as high as 40). By 1877, he was on the run, wanted by the Rangers for the killing of Comanche County Deputy Sheriff Charles Webb. Though he was recuperating from a gunshot wound, Armstrong sought and won permission to work the Hardin case. He and his team tracked Hardin to Pensacola, Florida, and confronted the gunfighter and his gang in a train car. Though various versions exist as to what happened next, the most commonly told story is that Hardin’s gun snagged on his suspenders and Armstrong was able to hit him over the head, knocking him out. Armstrong then sent Hardin back to Texas to stand trial for Webb’s murder.

Like the old saying goes...you can run, but you can't hide! Some of these old boys were tough, rough, and ready!

Coffee out on the patio this hot and humid morning.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jefferson Davis Accused Of Treason...?

Sometimes when you are researching history, you can find the strangest stories. This one I had never heard!

It seems tha Jefferson Davis was arrested and put on trial for treason. Who would have thought? Still, the most interesting part of the story is how he got out of it. I found this article over at Knowledgenuts that explains it all.

The Clever Way Jefferson Davis Avoided Being Convicted Of Treason
By Heather Ramsey on Friday, June 19, 2015

After the Civil War, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis was charged with treason in the US federal court system. However, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court gave the Davis legal team an interesting argument for dropping the treason charge. By proving that the US had no citizens under the Constitution, Davis couldn’t be tried for treason against the US. His citizenship rights were finally restored in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter.


On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army, ending the US Civil War. Former Confederate President Jefferson Davis had already fled the South’s capital in Richmond, Virginia. He wanted to escape to Britain or France, where he might reestablish a government in exile. However, before he could do so, members of the 4th Michigan Cavalry arrested him. At the time he was apprehended, Davis was sporting his wife’s black shawl. The Northern press tried to make him a laughingstock by accusing him of dressing as a woman in a desperate attempt to evade capture. However, Davis and his wife insisted that she had given him the shawl to stay warm for health reasons.

When Davis was indicted on a charge of treason in the federal court system, he stood before US Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon Chase, who was acting as a circuit judge at the time. Chase preferred to dismiss the treason charges, but another judge, John Underwood, wouldn’t agree to it. Davis’s defense team argued that he had already been punished by the 14th Amendment, which stopped him from serving in public office in the future.

As a former US House and Senate member before the war, Davis had taken an oath of allegiance to support the Constitution of the United States. Under the 14th Amendment, anyone who has taken such an oath and engaged in insurrection against the US cannot hold public office. According to Davis’s lawyers, that inability to hold public office under the 14th Amendment constituted punishment for his rebellious actions. To prosecute him for treason for the same rebellious actions would constitute double jeopardy under the 5th Amendment. Therefore, his lawyers argued, he could not be legally tried for treason.

However, the Chief Justice gave the Davis team another interesting argument for dropping the treason charge. Chase asked if a person could be prosecuted for treason against the US if he were not a US citizen. Clearly, no. Then Chase asked if there was a reference to the concept of a US citizen in the Constitution. Again, there was not. A person could only be a citizen of his state. Therefore, by proving that the US had no citizens, Davis couldn’t be tried for treason against the US. It was a clever argument that has never been used again as far as we know.

Although a deadlocked case in the district court would have automatically gone to the Supreme Court, it ultimately didn’t matter. President Andrew Johnson pardoned everyone who fought for the Confederacy on December 25, 1868, as long as they applied for the pardon. Although former officials of the Confederacy still couldn’t hold office or vote, they were now immune from prosecution for treason. In some circles, there wasn’t much appetite for trying Davis for treason anyway. Officials of the US government were afraid that Davis would prove that the South’s secession had been legal. However, the various amnesty provisions passed at that time never reinstated Davis’s citizenship. His citizenship rights were finally restored in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter.

I can only imagine the mess that the government had in trying to reorganize after the Civi War. That's something I think we overlook when studying about that time in history.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Strawberry cake to share...!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mysterious DNA In The Subway...!

This report from the folks over at Listverse was so unusual, I figured it belonged on Monday Mysteries.

Just how spooky this could turn out to be depends on who you want to believe, I reckon. Is it really a mystery involving an unknown DNA sample? Could it all be just an innocent mistake or something so simple? Chances are we will never know the whole story. Somehow things like this end up getting lost or misfiled, ya know? Happens a lot with some government reports, from what I understand.

New York Subway’s Mysterious DNA

In 2014, a team of scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College sequenced genetic material found in the turnstiles, seats, and ticket booths of all 468 New York City subway stations. They discovered bacteria known to thrive on human skin, as well as those associated with gastrointestinal and urogenital systems and human feces. They discovered remnants of neighborhood-specific cuisine like pizza and falafels, though considering the fecal bacteria situation, eating on the subway might be ill-advised. One station that had been flooded during Hurricane Sandy still contained DNA associated with a marine environment. They even found traces of anthrax and the bubonic plague, although they were also quick to downplay any risks to the public. All in all, the team found DNA from 15,152 distinct species.

The weird part? Over half of the DNA sequences matched no known organism. The likely explanation is that the subways simply contain mundane microorganisms that we haven’t got around to matching the genetic sequences for yet. Then again, New York’s health department condemned the paper, saying, “This report is deeply flawed, and the interpretation of the results is misleading. The researchers failed to offer alternative, much more plausible explanations for their findings, which is a common best practice for scientific papers.” That sounds like they might be hiding aliens.

All I can say about this is that I'm glad that I don't live in New York and that I'm equally as glad that I don't have to ride the subway everyday. I don't want to know what is living down in those tunnels, if you know what I mean?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Sweet potato pie, anyone?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day Sunday...!

Being as it's Father's Day, I searched for something special to post today. Alas...it was not to be. We'll have to settle for the sams ol' thing.

And one more!

That's enough for today. I hope that everyone has a good Father's Day. I appreciate you taking the time to come by!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Start Of The Pinkerton Agency...!

Most of us have at least heard of the Pinkertons, but the start of the agency is pretty interesting in it's own right.

Allan Pinkerton was an unlikely person to be the founder of the largest agency in the known world. I hope you enjoy this introductio0n to the man.

Allan Pinkerton’s Accidental Introduction

Photo via Wikipedia

The man at the head of the Pinkerton Detective Agency might have been known as one of America’s great lawmen, but he was also a Scottish immigrant. Born in Glasgow in 1819, Allan Pinkerton and his wife were forced to leave Scotland when he took a stand with some pretty radical pro-labor ideas. He came to the US in 1842, and they settled in Chicago, where he set up shop as a barrel-maker.

His introduction to the world of crime fighting was about as accidental as you can get. He was gathering wood for his barrels one day when he stumbled across a camp in the woods. It belonged to counterfeiters, who were making coins. Being the law-abiding citizen that he was, he turned them in. After helping with the arrests, he was made a deputy sheriff of Kane County, and he ended up being so good at it that he was soon the first man to be employed as a full-time detective in Chicago, as well as a special agent working for the post office.

By 1850, he left his appointments and created Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency. He used the motto, “We Never Sleep,” and the logo of an eye—leading to the phrase “private eyes.” Within the first 20 years of operation, they had already amassed the largest collection of mug shots and criminal records of any agency in the world, and with 2,000 regular employees and 30,000 reserve agents, their force was larger than any single standing army in the US at the time.

I'd say that Pinkerton did pretty well for himself for a man that started out as a barrel maker, wouldn't you? If you want to know more about the Pinkerton Agency, go to Listverse. They have some good stories about their history.

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

Friday, June 19, 2015

History Of Sliced Bread...!

I had read about this before, but when I found it again at History.com I thought I'd post it here.

Few of us can imagine going through the day without having a slice or two of bread. I know I can't! Sliced bread is a more modern invention than you might think. Here is a brief history of it's origin.

Who Invented Sliced Bread?
By Elizabeth Nix


Bread is one of the world’s oldest prepared foods. There’s evidence humans were whipping up a crude form of the stuff some 30,000 years ago. Sliced bread, however, has been around for less than a century. The first automatically sliced commercial loaves were produced on July 6, 1928, in Chillicothe, Missouri, using a machine invented by Otto Rohwedder, an Iowa-born, Missouri-based jeweler. Rohwedder’s quest to make sliced bread a reality was not without its challenges. A 1917 fire destroyed his prototype and blueprints, and he also faced skepticism from bakers, who thought factory-sliced loaves would quickly go stale or fall apart. Nevertheless, in 1928, Rohwedder’s rebuilt “power-driven, multi-bladed” bread slicer was put into service at his friend Frank Bench’s Chillicothe Baking Company.

Rohwedder’s newfangled contraption was greeted with an enthusiastic report in the July 6, 1928, edition of the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, which noted that while some people might find sliced bread “startling,” the typical housewife could expect “a thrill of pleasure when she first sees a loaf of this bread with each slice the exact counterpart of its fellows. So neat and precise are the slices, and so definitely better than anyone could possibly slice by hand with a bread knife that one realizes instantly that here is a refinement that will receive a hearty and permanent welcome.” The article also recounted that “considerable research” had gone into determining the right thickness for each slice: slightly less than half an inch.

Sliced bread didn’t take long to become a hit around the United States, even as some bakers contended it was just a fad, and by 1930 it could be found in most towns across the country. By that point, the majority of Americans were eating commercially made bread, compared with just decades earlier, when most of the supply still was homemade. The factory-produced loaves were designed to be softer than those prepared at home or at small, local bakeries because the bread-buying public had come to equate “squeezable softness” with freshness, according to “White Bread” by Aaron Bobrow-Strain. The timing therefore was right for an automatic slicing machine because, as Bobrow-Strain says, these softer, “modern loaves had become almost impossible to slice neatly at home.”

One of the first major brands to distribute sliced bread was Wonder, starting in 1930. Wonder Bread originally appeared in stores in 1921 in Indianapolis, where it was manufactured by the Taggart Baking Company. An executive there dreamed up the bread’s name after being filled with wonder while watching the International Balloon Race at the Indianapolis Speedway. After the Continental Baking Company bought Taggart in 1925, Wonder was sold nationally; the bread’s popularity soared once it was marketed in sliced form. During World War II, factory-sliced bread, including Wonder, was briefly banned by the U.S. government in an effort to conserve resources, such as the paper used to wrap each loaf to help maintain freshness. In 2012, Wonder Bread disappeared completely from store shelves after its then-owner, Hostess Brands (which also made Twinkies and Ding Dongs, among other famous snacks), declared bankruptcy. Thankfully for fans of the iconic bread, another company stepped in and re-launched the Wonder brand in 2013.

I'm certainly glads that bread comes already sliced, but I still enjoy baking my own from time to time. Of course then I have to slice it myself...but that's OK.

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Deadly Toy Stampede...!

Sometimes it takes a true tragedy to create or change laws for the better. Sadly, that was the case in this story.

Anytime the death of children is involved, the public outcry is influential in positive changes. These lessons are learned to hard way, but can have long lasting and much needed law improvement.

The Toy Stampede That Killed 183 Children
By Debra Kelly on Monday, June 15, 2015


Every year around Christmastime we hear stories of families whose holidays are marred with shopping-related tragedies. The Victoria Hall Disaster of 1883 wasn’t even around Christmas, it was on June 16—but it was still the promise of free toys for the kids that had an incredibly devastating outcome.

That day, about 2,000 children were crammed into the hall to see The Fays, a group of traveling entertainers. Each child had a ticket, and an announcement was made that there were a certain number of prizes that were going to be given to the lucky kids who were holding tickets with certain numbers. While that all seems well and good, there was next to no actual organization and no adults making sure there was no pushing and crowding. It quickly turned into a free-for-all when the group of entertainers started handing out the toys.

There were about 900 children on the ground floor of the theater, and another 1,100 up in the gallery. When the kids on the ground level started getting their toys, there was a mad rush down the stairs by the other 1,100 kids, mostly between the ages of 7 and 11. There was a single door at the bottom of a narrow stairwell, and while it was theoretically supposed to allow for an orderly, single-file line, that didn’t happen.

More and more children pushed forward, and those that made it first were pushed over and crushed by the crowd behind them. By the time the adults realized what was happening and could get to the tidal wave of children, all they could do was wait on the other side of the gap and pull kids through. It took half an hour to get everyone through, and by that time, 183 children were dead.

There were several families who lost all of their children in the accident, and one class lost all 30 of its students. The shock damaged those that survived, too. Hours after the accident, one young girl was found wandering the streets of London, carrying the body of her little sister. The cause of death in most cases was asphyxiation.

The show they had been attending had been advertised as “the greatest treat for children ever given.”

The tragedy rocked the country. A collection was taken up, and the money was raised to pay for the funerals of all the children. There was a sizable donation from Queen Victoria that was accompanied by condolences. Businesses closed during the funerals, which were conducted over a period of four days.

The money that was left from the fund was used to purchase a statue (pictured above), depicting a mourning mother carrying her dead child. The hall itself stood for several more decades but was eventually destroyed during World War II.

There was, however, a lasting legacy that the deaths of the children left behind, and it’s one that’s saved countless lives in the decades since. After the tragedy came the invention of emergency exits with easy-open push bars, and building requirements that included doors that open outward.

It's sad that so many children had to pay the ultimate price for safety advancements to be made. Hopefully, a tragedy such as this will never happen again. Thanks to Knowledgenuts for telling this sad bit of history.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Let's be ready to head to the kitchen, just in case,OK?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Friendly Enemies For Western Wednesday...!

As most of us know, the war between the states caused many family and friends to end up on opposite sides of the conflict. If friends were able to remain friends that was an amazing thing.

This is the story of a very unlikely friendship. One that was only interrupted by a war, and continued after the conflict. Thanks to Listverse for this story of a very strange and timeless friendship.

Ulysses S. Grant & James Longstreet

Photo credit: Brady-Handy Photograph Collection, New Orleans Photographic Gallers

It shouldn’t be that surprising to find out that two American generals were friends. These two attended West Point together. After graduation, they were both assigned to the 4th US Infantry. They fought in the Mexican War together. Grant and Longstreet went through a lot together, but they also overcame something that would put a damper on most friendships—they fought on opposite sides during the Civil War.

According to Longstreet, the two of them became friends in 1839 while serving as cadets in the Academy. He taught the future president to play brag (a predecessor of poker). A few years later, Longstreet even claimed to have introduced Grant to Julia Dent, his future wife and first lady of the United States.

During the Civil War, Longstreet quickly rose through the ranks until he became one of General Lee’s most trusted allies. Lee called him his “Old War Horse,” as Longstreet gained several important victories for the Confederacy. Later on, Longstreet was instrumental in convincing Lee to surrender at Appomattox, firm in the belief that Grant would offer fair terms. He did—upon seeing his friend-turned-rival, Grant invited him to a game of brag for old times’ sake.

Their friendship was rekindled after the war. Longstreet moved to New Orleans and became a prominent member of the Republican Party with the endorsement of his old pal General Grant. In turn, he would later provide his support when Grant ran for President.

I'm glad that these two great men were able to continue their friendship in later years. Sometimes having just one good friend can be a great thing...far better than worldly treasures, right?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. The carpet cleaners were cancelled yesterday due to the 3 or so inches of rain around our neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

One Tricky Spider...!

We haven't had a nature post in a while, so today is the day!

I found a video of a spider that should be in the circus. I hope that I never have one of nthese things in my yard, for sure! This thing is crazy, I tell ya!

Moroccan Flic-Flac Spider

When it comes to getting from point A to B in style, no spider does it quite like the Moroccan flic-flac spider (Cebrennus rechenbergi). This spider was discovered in Moroccan sand dunes in 2014 by German scientist Ingo Rechenberg. Like a trained circus acrobat, this spider is capable of propelling itself forward and backward through a series of somersaults when threatened or provoked, a feat that no other spider in the world has been found to share.

This little trick of the flic-flac does a great service in doubling its normal speed. This method of movement served as inspiration for Dr. Rechenberg to construct a robot that moves in much the same way, thus continuing the tradition of science looking to nature for insight. While his robot is nowhere near its final stages of development, Rechenberg plans to someday use it to survey the surface of Mars.

Despite it's funny name, this guy can really move! This article came from Listverse. What a great source for items like this!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Carpet guys are shampooing the wall to wall in Mom's house, so this is necessary.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Strange Hospital Story For Monday Mystery...!

Here is a tale I know we haven't had before: a hospital disappearance!

How can someone disappear from a hospital, you ask? Good question! Strange story ahead!

The Disappearance Of Joan Gay Croft

Whenever a natural disaster occurs, it’s almost inevitable that some victims will never be found. However, the disappearance of four-year-old Joan Gay Croft is unlike any other.

On April 9, 1947, an F5 tornado ravaged its way through Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, causing hundreds of deaths and devastating several towns. One of these towns was Woodward, Oklahoma, where 185 people were killed and many more injured. Joan Gay Croft lived in Woodward and wound up losing her mother that day. Joan’s stepfather was critically injured, and both Joan and her eight-year-old half sister, Jerri, suffered minor injuries. The two girls were taken to the local hospital to stay in the basement, which was being used as a shelter for refugees.

Sometime during the night, two unidentified men dressed in khaki army uniforms entered the basement and grabbed Joan. When Joan protested that she didn’t want to leave her sister, the two men assured her everything would be okay and that they would return for Jerri. Hospital staff members confronted the men, but they claimed they were taking Joan to another hospital to see her family. The two men were allowed to leave with Joan but did not return for Jerri. Joan was never seen again. Strangely, the men had specifically asked for Joan when they entered the room, indicating that they knew her.

The case received national mainstream attention over the next several decades, but Joan was never located. In 1999, a newspaper editor for The Oklahoman received an e-mail from a woman claiming to be Joan Gay Croft, who said she had been living under a different name with her family’s knowledge. The woman agreed to a meeting but ceased communications and never came forward. Joan Gay Croft’s disappearance remains unsolved and is one of the most unusual child abductions on record.

This story is especially sad to me. I can't imagine why the hospital would allow someone to just come and walk off with a child without a note from the parents...or some kind of authorization, can you?

Coffee out on the patio again today. Brother, it's hot and humid!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Once More, It's Sunday Funnies...!

Seems to me that this week has really gone by fast. That happens more and more as of late!

Well, no sense in wasting time, so on with thew 'toons!

Hey, if it's black and white...you know it's old, right?

What did we ever do before color 'toons?

OK, that's enough for today. Don't want the black and white to hurt your eyes.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It may rain later, so be ready!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mosby's Rangers...!

Just a little Civil War history for ya this morning. Ya gotta love history, right?

You might have heard the name "gray ghost" before, and that was another name for John Mosby. Interesting bit of history here if you likie stories from the Civil War era.

Mosby’s Rangers

Photo via Wikipedia

John Mosby, nicknamed “the gray ghost,” led the 43rd Battalion, 1st Virginia Cavalry, known as “Mosby’s Rangers.” Major Mosby would don a disguise and locate an appropriate location for a raid, and then his unit would strike. Mosby’s Rangers was famous for its quick raids and ability to elude Union troops by “disappearing” among local farmers and townspeople. They gained notoriety in a raid on Fairfax Court House, when they captured Union Brigadier General Edwin Stoughton, a few other officers, and many horses. President Lincoln was more grieved by the loss of the horses than of the general, saying, “I can make a much better brigadier in five minutes, but the horses cost $125 apiece."

Mosby’s Rangers caused problems for the Union by disrupting supply lines, capturing Union couriers, and giving information to the Confederate Army. Major Mosby operated with impunity, employing his own warfare tactics and looting public and personal property. At the end of the war, Mosby became a Republican and worked as a representative for President Grant, serving as the American consul in Hong Kong. He also served as an official in the Department of the Interior.

Seems like Mosby made the move from militia man to politics fairly seamlessly. Guess that happened a lot back in those days, though.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Watch out for the spider webs!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Freaky Friday With A "Bang!"

I 've always thought that suicide is very sad. A gruesome suicide is even sadder, for sure!

When someone decides to end their life, it seems to me that choosing a manner that would be easier on the family and loved ones left behind would be a last consideration. Bad enough to put them through such a stressful time, but to do so in a strange way adds to the saddness I would think.

Death By Gunpowder
Chicago, Illinois

When W.H. Irving’s body was found in full rigor mortis near Chicago on July 28, 1893, police investigators were appalled by the horrible mutilation of the remains. The head was “blown to pieces,” the jaw hung by a shred, and the nose was gone. It appeared Irving had filled his mouth with gunpowder and struck a match, literally blowing his face off. A suicide note was found in his pocket. Police suspected foul play due to Irving’s respectable appearance and expensive straw hat. The suicide note spoke of virtual destitution, but the man had a job waiting for him at home in Winthrop Beach, Massachusetts. They also noticed fresh footprints around the body, but nothing came of these red herrings. Irving’s wife thought he’d gone on vacation, and that if he had committed suicide, he must have been temporarily insane.

I don't really want to even see any pictures of this suicide, thank you very much. My imagine is good enough to fill in the blanks!

Coffee out on the patio today. Humid and hot!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The CIA Training Ravens...?

I always knew that there must be a few bird-brains in the CIA, but I never figured them to be real birds.

Now just so I don't get in trouble for calling the CIA bird-brains, let me say that this article is one I picked up from Listverse, so I'm merely repeating it and not making it up, OK?

CIA-Trained Spy Ravens

B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning (a generic example of which would be giving a dog food in exchange for doing a trick) has proven to be a very useful principle. Many applications have been derived from operant conditioning, including a seemingly innocuous tourist attraction that sprung up in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the 1960s. Called the I.Q. Zoo, this theme park featured animals trained to perform humanlike activities, such as chickens playing baseball, pigs playing the piano, and raccoons playing basketball.

The cheerful I.Q. Zoo was also a government-funded testing ground for other applications of animal training such as espionage research. Ravens proved to be a particularly good subject in this regard. In addition to being able to carry surprisingly heavy loads, the ravens’ intelligence enabled them to be trained to do surprisingly specific tasks, even opening file drawers and carrying file folders.

It was therefore a simple matter to teach ravens to fly to a certain location indicated with a laser pointer and deposit objects, including surveillance devices. Ravens could even be trained to take pictures with a special camera carried in the bird’s beak. The animals would again be directed to a window with a laser pointer where they were trained to press the little spy camera against the window. Each press took a picture.

I'm thinking that with all these trained ravens around, why do we need those highly paid cloak and dagger types. Seems to me that the ravens working for dog food and treats is a much better deal financially, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio again today!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mary Fields For Western Wednesday...!

I'm not sure, but I may have covered this lady before for Western Wednesday. Even if I did, she deserves another look.

It's sometimes easy for us to forget the many women that played an important part of the old west. Many of them were quite colorful, and Mary proved to be no exception.

Mary Fields

Born a slave in the 1830s, “Stagecoach” Mary gained her freedom thanks to a certain top-hatted president. After befriending Mother Amadeus, a nun at the Ursuline Convent in Toledo, Ohio, Mary received the job of hauling freight for the mission. The story goes that during one trip, wolves frightened her horse, tipping her wagon over. Supposedly, Mary spent the night with a gun at the ready, keeping the wolves at bay.

Mary was made foreman at the convent, something that didn’t sit well with the white male workers. One knocked her to the ground and then had to duck for cover when Mary pulled out her pistol and started blasting. Though no one was hurt, the bishop ordered Mary to leave the mission.

After a failed adventure in the restaurant business, Mary applied to drive a mail coach. Since she could hitch a team faster than any other applicant, she got the job, making her the second woman and first African-American to work for the post office. She was about 60 years old.

Mary faithfully delivered the mail for eight years before opening a laundry. Even in her seventies, she never lost her spark and once slugged a man who wouldn’t pay his cleaning bill. Mary even became a town hero and mascot of the local baseball team, and when her shop burned down in 1912, everyone pitched in to build her a new one.

Sounds to me that Mary was quite the woman. Must have impressed the town folk as well, judging how they all worked together to build her a new place of business. Thanks to Listverse for this little piece of early history.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. We might have to dodge the spder webs, as they seem to be all over the place!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

More Info Than You Really Need To Know...!

You probably could have gone all day and not have missed getting this information. In fact, you might feel that you would have been better off never finding out about this.

However, in keeping with my effort to find all the strange and better-off-not-knowing information out there, I figured I'd share this one with you. I'm just that kind of guy!

The Mites That Get Busy On Your Face All Night Long
By Heather Ramsey on Monday, June 8, 2015


We’re told to avoid or remove ticks that embed themselves into our skin and cause all kinds of diseases, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. But almost every adult human has microscopic mites living in our hair follicles, feeding on the oils our bodies produce. As far as we know, we can’t do anything about them. By one estimate, the average adult harbors between 1.5 to 2.5 million of these creatures on his or her body, with most on the face. The largest concentrations are around our eyebrows, eyelashes, hairline, and nose. But the location varies by person.

Out of over 48,000 mite species, only two live on our faces: Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. At least, that’s what we believe today. Even though we discovered these mites in 1842, we still don’t know much about them. “These are things that live on us—they’re intimately associated with us—but they’ve not really been studied,” says mite researcher Holly Menninger. “It’s kind of crazy.”

In fact, they’ve lived on us for so long that our immune system generally doesn’t react to them. There is one possible exception, though, that has to do with the lack of anuses on these creatures. Rather than defecate, these mites accumulate their feces within their bodies until they die. As they decompose, their feces are expelled from their bodies all at once, which may cause rosacea to flare up in people with sensitive immune systems.

Every ethnic group that’s been studied has hair follicle mites, from Australian aborigines to white Europeans. However, they’re rarely found on babies. By age 18, about 70 percent of people sampled had them. By adulthood, 99.9 percent of us have mites. We’re not sure how we get them. Two theories are through breastfeeding and sexual activity.

These mites are a lot like ticks and spiders. Using their eight stubby legs to climb out of our hair follicles, the mites crawl around at night and have sex on our faces. Then the females go back into our follicles to lay eggs during the day. Each mite has a palpus on each side of its mouth that claws into our follicle cells. If you want to see the mites for yourself, you have to open your pores during the day. Scientists suggest placing mineral oil on the pores around your nose, then scraping away some of the oil with a small spatula. You may be able to see the mites’ wormy bodies under a microscope, unless your mite population lives elsewhere on your face.

However, we’re not the only animals that have creepy microscopic critters living on us. Legless symbions attach themselves to the mouths of Norway lobsters. Only half a millimeter long, a symbion looks like bloated tube with a hairy ring on one end. The hairs on the symbion push leftovers from the lobster’s food into this tiny creature’s digestive tract. Whatever it can’t digest is expelled through its anus. Up to hundreds of symbions can live on one lobster’s mouth.

Freshwater fish have it even worse. In their larval stage, flukes, which are parasitic flatworms, infect the eyes of these fish. “The lens seems to be the host’s Achilles’ heel,” says scientist Sean Locke. “An immune response there would blind the fish, so it appears evolution has favored immunological restraint. The parasites there haven’t needed to specialize in dealing with any one host’s immune response and hence the same parasite species appear in all sorts of different fish.” The ability to identify these parasites may provide biologists with an initial step to eventually controlling them.

Now that I've completely grossed out your morning, all I can say is to blame it on Listverse, OK? They are the ones that posted this nedd to know information!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. The flies are pretty bad, so I have to warn ya!

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Train Story For Monday Mysteries...!

Sometimes we have mysteries involving ships, but today we are going to go with trains!

There are actually more train mysteries than you would think. We are talking unsolved murder, disappearances, man-made derailments...all kinds of stuff. Should be a good change of pace since many of our readers have a past connection with trains. You know who you are!

The Sunset Limited Derailment

On October 9, 1995, an Amtrak passenger train known as the Sunset Limited was making a routine trip from Los Angeles to Miami. At approximately 1:40 AM, it was crossing over a trestle in a remote desert area of Arizona when it suddenly jumped the tracks and derailed, sending four of its cars crashing 9 meters (30 ft) into a ravine. An attendant named Mitchell Bates was killed in the crash and over 100 people were injured.

It quickly became clear that the derailment was a deliberate act of sabotage—29 spikes had been removed from the track so that the rails could be shifted out of position. The perpetrator was careful to keep the rail’s signal circuits intact, so that the train would not be alerted about any problems with the track. This suggested that whoever was responsible had an intimate knowledge of railroads.

In fact, the method used to derail the Sunset Limited was very similar to an act of sabotage from 1939, which caused a passenger train called the City of San Francisco to derail in the Nevada desert, killing 24 people. An article about the City of San Francisco crash had been published in a train journal shortly before the Sunset Limited derailment and may have inspired the perpetrator.

At the crash site, investigators found four typewritten copies of a note claiming responsibility for the attack. The notes were signed “Sons of the Gestapo” and criticized controversial incidents involving the ATF and FBI, such as the Ruby Ridge siege of 1992 and the Waco siege of 1993. However, investigators have yet to uncover any evidence supporting the actual existence of a group known as “Sons of the Gestapo.” The perpetrator remains unidentified.

My biggest question is always this. If the people responsible for acts of terrorism such as this are so proud of their actions, why do they not make themselves known? Why hide behind some phony name, and just come out and say who they are? Seems a bit cowardly to me, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning, I think. The birds are really active early!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Back To The Sunday Cartoons...!

While doing the funny paper thing was fun, I figured the old fashioned 'toons were in order. So, on with the show!

Sometimes the old way of doing things turns out best.

And I know you all remember this little guy!

Maybe just one more.

OK...time to jump into the day. Me...I'm gonna try and read a book. Hopefully I won't get too many interruptions, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sometimes Change Is Good...!

Most of us are pretty good about coming up with a game plan when starting something new. The secret is knowing when to change the game plan if needed.

Changing horses in mid stream may be the best idea once in a while. The businessman that can recognize and seize a new direction is often the most successful. Such was the case of Mr. Wrigley.

. Wrigley: Gum wasn’t part of the initial business model

William Wrigley Jr. got his start hawking his father’s soap products on the streets of Philadelphia. After moving to Chicago in 1891, Wrigley began offering incentives to entice shopkeepers to carry his ware, including free cans of baking powder with every order. When the baking powder proved more popular than the soap, Wrigley began selling that instead, tossing in two packs of chewing gum per order to sweeten the deal. The gum was such a hit that in 1893 Wrigley debuted two new brands of gum of his own, Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s Spearmint. Ever the savvy marketer, in 1915 Wrigley sent free gum samples to every American household listed in phone books.

I guess what it boils down to is the ability to see when a new direction is needed and then take the appropriate steps. Sometimes change is a good thing, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It's getting hot early, so be ready!

Friday, June 5, 2015

History Of The Revolving Door...!

We've all seen one. Most of us have used them from time to time, but did you ever wonder where they got their start?

We'll, that where the Hermit comes in. See...it's my job to find out about some of these things, no matter how trivial they may be. The history of anything can be interesting in it's own way, ya know?

The Strange Story Behind The Invention Of Revolving Doors
By Heather Ramsey on Thursday, June 4, 2015

In the late 1800s, Theophilus van Kannel supposedly designed a revolving door because he hated chivalry. He didn’t like to parry with other men over who should enter or exit a door first. Even worse, he hated to open doors for women. As early skyscrapers were built in US cities near the turn of the 20th century, revolving doors became important for internal temperature control. However, although a social phobia may have spurred van Kannel to design revolving doors, phobias, such as claustrophobia, may also keep people from using them.

Improving upon German inventor H. Bockhacker’s patent for a “door without draft of air,” Theophilus van Kannel received a patent for a “storm-door structure,” later called a “revolving door,” in 1888. As the story goes, van Kannel supposedly designed this type of door because he hated chivalry. He didn’t like to parry with other men over who should enter or exit a door first. Even worse, he hated to open doors for women, so we may have a social phobia to thank for his invention.

Fortunately for van Kannel, the revolving door turns etiquette on its head. Rather than wait for a woman to go first, a man is considered to be chivalrous if he leads the way through a revolving door, using his strength to push it into motion. “A gentleman should always go first and assist the woman through the revolving door, and I observe this on a daily basis,” said Joe Snyder, a doorman at the Park Hyatt Chicago hotel.

As early skyscrapers were built in US cities near the turn of the 20th century, revolving doors became important for internal temperature control. With regular hinged doors, outside air would rapidly flow in and rise to the top, making it difficult to keep buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Revolving doors overcame that problem by producing airlocks, although people could still enter and exit. This type of door also reduced the influx of noise, dust, rain, and snow. In recent years, energy costs were estimated to fall by 30 percent when revolving doors were used instead of hinged doors.

However, revolving doors do pose one significant danger that became apparent when almost 500 people died in a fire at a Boston nightclub in 1942. The club had one revolving door that slowed the escape of fleeing patrons. As a result, many revolving doors now have traditional hinged doors placed on either side to make it easier to evacuate a building in an emergency.

Ironically, although a phobia may have spurred van Kannel to design revolving doors, phobias may also keep people from using them. Whether it’s the fear of being in a confined space, of getting your arms or legs caught in the door, or of getting trapped with another person in one of the compartments, many people avoid revolving doors. In 2006, some MIT researchers observed that no more than 30 percent of the students entering a particular building on campus used the revolving doors. The researchers put up some signs to encourage revolving door usage by touting their benefits.

Designer Andrew Shea repeated the MIT experiment a few years later at Columbia University in New York. He also observed that less than 30 percent of students entered a particular building through its revolving doors. When he placed signs on campus to promote the benefits of revolving doors, their usage increased to 71 percent.

Coffee out on the patio again today. Sun is warm already, but no rain is expected!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Little Candy History...!

I don't know many folks that haven't at least heard of M & M candy. So popular they have a full line of toys associated with them.

The history of the M & M candy is a surprising one, though. I found this very interesting and I figured you might also.

 The Wartime Origins of the M&M
By Laura Schumm

Credit: Mars, Incorporated

It may not surprise you to learn that many amazing discoveries and inventions are spawned from war, but did you know the hugely popular M&M candies beloved by kids and adults of all ages around the world are one such innovation?

After clashing with his father—the creator of the Milky Way bar—for a few years at Mars Inc., Forrest Mars Sr. moved to England, where in 1932 he began manufacturing the Mars bar for troops in the United Kingdom. It was during the Spanish Civil War that Mars purportedly encountered soldiers eating small chocolate beads encased in a hard sugar shell as part of their rations. In an age when sales of chocolate typically dropped off during summer months due to the lack of air conditioning, Forrest was thrilled by the prospect of developing a product that would be able to resist melting in high temperatures. He returned to the United States and, shortly thereafter, approached Bruce Murrie, the son of Hershey executive William Murrie, to join him in his new business venture. Anticipating a shortage of chocolate and sugar as World War II raged on in Europe, Mars sought a partnership that would ensure a steady supply of resources to produce his new candy. In return, Murrie was given a 20 percent stake in the M&M product, which was named to represent ‘Mars’ and ‘Murrie.’

In March of 1941, Mars was granted a patent for his manufacturing process and production began in Newark, New Jersey. Originally sold in cardboard tubes, M&M’s were covered with a brown, red, orange, yellow, green or violet coating. After the United States entered the war, the candies were exclusively sold to the military, enabling the heat-resistant and easy-to-transport chocolate to be included in American soldiers’ rations. By the time the war was over and GIs returned home, they were hooked.

Shortly after wartime quotas ended and the candies were made available to the general public, Forrest Mars bought out Murrie’s shares in the company and took sole ownership of the M&M brand. The familiar brown bag package that remains in use today was introduced in 1948. In 1950, the candies were imprinted with a black “m” (which changed to white in 1954) and customers were encouraged to “Look for the M on every piece” to ensure they were getting the real thing. Peanut M&M’s made their debut in 1954, along with the cartoon characters Mr. Plain and Mr. Peanut, and by 1956 M&M’s had become the No. 1 candy in the United States.

In 1964, Forrest merged his various businesses (which by then included pet food and rice, among other products) with his father’s company, Mars Inc., and soon began to phase out external chocolate suppliers like Hershey’s. Upon request by the crew aboard NASA’s first space shuttle, Columbia, M&M’s were the first candy to rocket into space in 1981. Three years later, they were advertised as the Official Snack of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Today, the crowd-pleasing and satisfying candies continue to sweeten a soldier’s day as a welcome part of their individual Meal, Ready to Eat (MRE) field ration

Who would have ever guessed that the little candies so popular now days got their humble start in a time of war? Certainly not me! Thanks to the wonderful folks at History.com, back stories like this are still around for us to enjoy!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Heck, I'll even share some M & Ms with ya'll!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Joe Meeks On Western Wednesday...!

All the mountain men of their time were a bit larger than life, Meeks was certainly that type of individual.

He certainly had a colorful life and was the stuff from which legends were made. His history reads more like a novel than true life, but Meeks was as real as they come.

Mountain man Joe Meek dies

A skilled practitioner of the frontier art of the tall tale, the mountain man Joe Meek dies on his farm in Oregon. His life was nearly as adventurous as his stories claimed.

Born in Virginia in 1810, Meek was a friendly and relentlessly good-humored young man, but he had too much rambunctious energy to do well in school. At 16 years old, the illiterate Meek moved west to join two of his brothers in Missouri. In subsequent years, he taught himself to read and write, but his spelling and grammar remained highly original throughout his life.

In early 1829, Meek joined William Sublette’s ambitious expedition to begin fur trading in the Far West. For the next decade, Meek traveled throughout the West, reveling in the adventure and independence of the mountain man life. At 6 feet, 2 inches tall, the heavily bearded Meek became a favorite character at the annual mountain-men rendezvous, where he regaled his companions with humorous and often exaggerated stories of his wilderness adventures. A renowned grizzly hunter, Meek claimed he liked to “count coup” on the dangerous animals before killing them, a variation on a Native American practice in which they shamed a live human enemy by tapping them with a long stick. Meek also told a story in which he claimed to have wrestled an attacking grizzly with his bare hands before finally sinking a tomahawk into its brain.

Over the years, Meek established good relations with many Native Americans, and he married three Indian women, including the daughter of a Nez Perce chief. Nonetheless, he also frequently fought with tribes who were hostile to the incursion of the mountain men into their territories. In the spring of 1837, Meek was nearly killed by a Blackfeet warrior who was taking aim with his bow while Meek tried to reload his Hawken rifle. Luckily for Meek, the warrior dropped his first arrow while drawing the bow, and the mountain man had time to reload and shoot.

In 1840, Meek recognized that the golden era of the free trappers was ending. Joining with another mountain man, Meek and his third wife guided one of the first wagon trains to cross the Rockies on the Oregon Trail. Meek settled in the lush Willamette Valley of western Oregon, became a farmer, and actively encouraged other Americans to join him. In 1847, Meek led a delegation to Washington, D.C., asking for military protection from Indian attacks and territorial status for Oregon. Though he arrived “ragged, dirty, and lousy,” Meek became something of a celebrity in the capitol. Easterners relished the boisterous good humor Meek showed in proclaiming himself the “envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from the Republic of Oregon to the Court of the United States.” Congress responded by making Oregon an official American territory and Meek became a U.S. marshal.

Meek returned to Oregon and became heavily involved in politics, eventually helping to found the Oregon Republican Party. He later retired to his farm, where he died on this day at the age of 65.

Where would we be today without the brave and adventurous men like Meeks? Men like him gave us the knowledge and some of the tools to continue our settling of the far West.

Coffee out on thew patio today. It's hot, but hey...this is Texas!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Drones Are Not New...!

As we've seen before, some things we thought were new really aren't. Such is the case with the Drone.

As far back as 1916, drones have been flying by radio control. Surprised? Unfortunately (or not) the first models didn't quite live up to expectations. Still, you have to admit it was a big feat at the time.


Photo via Wikipedia

The first drone can be traced back to 1916 when British inventor Archibald Low (shown above) designed and flew the first unmanned radio-controlled vehicle. The drone was made to counterattack German Zeppelin airships, and it also carried out ground attacks during World War I. It was made with wood and tin, its wings taken from the lower wing of another biplane. Overall, the drone was somewhat unsuccessful because the noise from its engine interfered with its radio. The Sopwith Aircraft Company also tried making a drone in 1916. They placed the radio equipment at the tail so that the engine would not interfere with its signal, but their drone never flew as it was damaged in an accident on the ground. Low would try flying his drone again in 1917 when he flew it in front of some senior military officers. It was launched from the back of a lorry and flew for some time before crashing due to engine failure, almost killing the military officers present.

I can't help but wonder what Mr. Low would think if he saw what we are doing with drones today. Would he be happy to see what damage and destruction we can cause with a few drones, or would he take heart in the fact that it was designed as a defense weapon? Guess we will never know. Thanks to Listverse for this article!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Watch out for all the crazy Bluejays...!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Another Maritime Monday Mystery...!

So many tales of lost ships and the treasures they carried still exist around the world, we'll never find or solve all of them. Guess that's why they remain a mystery, right?

It would be exciting to be one one of the hunts for some of the lost treasure ships, I think. Sound exciting to you?

The Madagascar

Captained by the delightfully named Fortescue Harris, the Madagascar departed from Melbourne in 1853. Destined for England, her cargo included at least three tons of gold. Despite several claims to the contrary, the ship was never seen again.

The Madagascar had been due to stop over at Cape Horn, but never arrived—narrowing her disappearance to somewhere between Australia and the southern tip of Africa. Other than that, there aren’t many concrete clues.

We do know that there were probably quite a few shady characters on board the ship. The captain had lost a number of men to the gold rush that was gripping the area and he’d picked up a new crew to replace them—including a pair of notorious bushrangers who were arrested before the ship set sail. One very plausible theory is that there was a mutiny on board and the ship was seized. But then was it taken somewhere else? Offloaded? Boarded by pirates? Sunk by another ship or run aground on an atoll? No one knows for sure, but the Madagascar remains an intriguing prize for any treasure hunter.

I wonder why it is that we are drawn to the sea and all of it's mysteries. I'm guessing it's because it's still such an unknown place. Sure makes for some interesting reading thatnks to folks like ther nes of at Listverse.

Coffe4e out on the patio this morning. That OK with you?