Friday, July 31, 2015

Listerine For Freaky Friday...!.

Sometimes some alternate uses for products can be more interesting than the original intended use. Ya WD40?

This one might just surprise you though.A simple product with many uses. Can you say Listerine? This is a multi-use product for sure!


Listerine is a well-known mouthwash brand, but it didn’t begin life as such. Listerine was originally a surgical disinfectant. It was made by the Johnson brothers, who were looking for a way to make surgeries safer and were inspired by English surgeon Sir Joseph Lister. In 1879, they came up with an antiseptic liquid which they called Listerine after Sir Lister. Listerine was advertised and sold as a surgical disinfectant that could also be used to treat wounds, dandruff, athlete’s foot, and even insect bites. In one instance, it was even sold as a deodorant.

The Johnson brothers later teamed up with pharmacist Jordan Wheat Lambert and began selling Listerine to dentists for use as an oral antiseptic. Lambert’s children are responsible for making Listerine into the mouthwash we know today after they asked the company’s chemist to tell them all the things Listerine could be used for. The chemist included bad breath (also called halitosis), and the company began advertising it as such

Now granted some of these early uses may not have been the best choice, you have to admit that someone was sure inventive when coming up with some new ideas for customers.

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Hermit Story For Thursday...!

When I chose the name "Hermitjim", I had a certain type of lifestyle in mind. This old guy has taken that lifestyle one step beyond my vision, I think!

I guess tghat I'm actually more of a Hermit wannnabe than a true hermit, but that's hard to do when living in the big city and taking care of an elderly mother. I reckon that time will tell how everything works out. In the meantime, this fella shows what being a true hermit is all about.

The Naked Hermit Of Sotobanari Island
By Nolan Moore on Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If you were to visit the Japanese island of Sotobanari, you might be surprised to find a naked, 78-year-old hermit. His name is Masami Nagasaki, and while he used to be a photographer, these days he prefers living on his own . . . in the middle of the ocean . . . without any clothes on. Needless to say, this guy has quite an interesting lifestyle.

About 400 kilometers (250 mi) off the coast of Okinawa, there’s a little tropical island that looks like it was ripped out of Lost or Jurassic Park. It’s called Sotobanari (pictured above), a word that translates into “Out Distant Island.” If you were sailing by Sotobanari, you’d probably marvel at the lush vegetation and beautiful beaches, but your jaw might drop when you saw a totally naked, 78-year-old hermit exercising on the beach.

This underdressed islander is named Masami Nagasaki, and he’s lived on Sotobanari for over 20 years. Once upon a time, Nagasaki was a photographer in the entertainment industry, but he eventually grew disillusioned with the job. In addition to putting down his camera, Nagasaki worried about the direction his homeland was heading. Angry at corrupt businessmen and industrial pollution, Nagasaki grew sick of society and decided to abandon Japan for Sotobanari.

However, despite its beauty, Sotobanari isn’t exactly a paradise. There’s no fresh water on the island, and the place is jam-packed with snakes, rats, and ants, not to mention hungry crows that enjoy stealing his food. And then there’s the occasional typhoon that destroys everything in its path. One particularly vicious storm flattened Nagasaki’s shelter and decimated most of the plant life, leaving our disrobed Robinson Crusoe to bake in the sun for quite awhile.

Over time, life has become easier for Nagasaki, although he still walks around in the nude. For shelter, the old man has set up several tents, but he usually sleeps in a small wooden shack he built with a friend. Whenever it rains, he sets out pots to collect water, and he occasionally hunts for giant clams. He’s rigged up a steel wire to act as an FM radio antenna, has fashioned a table out of a polystyrene box, and keeps healthy by gargling saltwater whenever he encounters strangers. According to Nagasaki, his gargling method never fails, and his “body is completely pure.”

So when does Nagasaki encounter people? Well, every so often, a buddy drops by to make sure he’s okay, and fishermen occasionally cruise past. Whenever he spots people nearby, Nagasaki doesn’t really worry about decency. His nudity feels natural, and he considers his birthday suit a sort of “uniform.” Of course, Nagasaki does get dressed whenever he heads to the nearby island of Iriomote. Once a month, he buys rice and water, using an allowance courtesy of an older sister. Whenever he returns to Sotobanari, he keeps the rice in glass bottles so rats won’t spoil his supper.

Sure, life on the island is challenging, but Nagasaki enjoys the peace and quiet. He’d rather “follow the rules of the natural world” than take orders from another human being. In fact, he plans to live out the rest of his life on the island and wants to take his last breath on Sotobanari. “I love this peace more than anything,” he told a Vice reporter. “I may not have any belongings, or enough food or water, but I’d take this peacefulness over them any day.

The hermit lifestyle isn't for everyone, but that's the whole point. If everyone wanted to live a herit type of life, things would get all crowded again...know what I mean?

Coffee on the patio this morning. Some rain may come in and we can watch for it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Fighting Parson For Western Wednesday...!

Not all men of the cloth turn out to be as pure as we would be lead to believe. Lot's of evil in some.

Now you would think by the title that this post would be all about some good ol' boy in the pulpit, but turns out that just the opposite is true. This man had a crazy ego and stored up a lot of hate. Luckily, he was found out , but lots of innocent lives were lost because of him.

The Minister Who Butchered A Peaceful Native American Village During The Civil War
By Heather Ramsey on Monday, July 27, 2015

On November 29, 1864, Colonel John Chivington led 700 men on a raid against a peaceful Cheyenne village at Sand Creek, Colorado, slaughtering between 200 and 400 Native Americans, with at least 70 percent of them women and children. He wanted to regain his Civil War hero status as a stepping-stone to become the first Congressman from Colorado, which didn’t happen. However, Congress later condemned Chivington for his “foul and dastardly massacre.” But he had already resigned from the army, so he was spared a court-martial. Later that year, the federal government promised reparations for the “Sand Creek Massacre” but never paid them.

Although nothing that occurred afterward was worse than the horrific slaughter of November 29, 1864, the Sand Creek Massacre eventually became as much a clash of two white men as a massacre of Native Americans by white American soldiers during the US Civil War. It all started with the hunger for glory and power by a former minister who wanted to recreate his Civil War hero status.

In 1844, 23-year-old John Chivington became a Methodist minister. With the Church sending him to establish congregations on the western frontier, he oversaw the building of churches and often enforced the law as well. In 1853, he went on a missionary expedition to the Wyandot tribe in Kansas.

His early life would make him seem like a natural hero, one who wasn’t afraid to stand up for his beliefs, even if it meant physically fighting the enemy. He was an abolitionist in Missouri before the Civil War, openly contemptuous of both slavery and the South’s desire to secede from the Union. In 1856, some members of his congregation who supported slavery threatened to tar and feather him if he didn’t stop preaching. When those men entered his church the following Sunday, Chivington boldly stepped up to the pulpit with two guns and a Bible. “I am going to preach here today,” he declared. From then on, he was known as the “Fighting Parson.”

When the Civil War finally erupted, Chivington declined a chaplain commission, opting instead to fight. As an army major in 1862, his troops surprised an enemy supply train by rappeling down the walls of a canyon in New Mexico at Glorietta Pass. The western threat from rebel forces was stopped, and Chivington became a Civil War hero, elevated to the rank of colonel.

He returned to the territory of Colorado, championing its admission to the Union as a state. With his hero status, he wanted to become Colorado’s first Congressman. But before statehood occurred, the hostility between Colorado’s white residents and the Cheyenne grew significantly. The Denver newspaper urged readers to destroy the local Native American population. Chivington jumped on the bandwagon, declaring that the only way to deal with the Cheyenne was to kill them.

He set his sights on a peaceful Cheyenne chief named Black Kettle, who had negotiated with white officials for his people to stay safely at their Sand Creek camp. With his Colorado regiment ridiculed as the “Bloodless Third” because they hadn’t seen battle, Chivington was looking for a way to regain his hero status as a stepping-stone to Congress.

On November 29, 1864, he led 700 men on a raid against the unprepared Cheyenne village at Sand Creek, slaughtering between 200 and 400 Native Americans, with at least 70 percent of them women and children. Chivington painted the battle as a brutal one against a well-manned, well-armed enemy. He emerged victorious, with him and his troops parading as heroes through Denver with the scalps of their butchered foes.

Chivington might have gotten away with the lies about his murderous rampage if it weren’t for a friend who had fought with him against the Confederate soldiers at Glorietta Pass. Captain Silas Soule was also with Chivington at Sand Creek, but he was sickened by the senseless massacre of peaceful Native Americans. Neither he nor his men participated in the indiscriminate killing. (They also did nothing to stop it.)

After it was over, Soule wrote a letter detailing what had happened to Major Edward Wynkoop: “The massacre lasted six or eight hours . . . it was hard to see little children on their knees have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized. [. . .] They were all scalped, and as high as a half a dozen taken from one head. They were all horribly mutilated. One woman was cut open and a child taken out of her, and scalped.”

Lieutenant Joseph Cramer sent Wynkoop a similar letter: “I think the Officer in command should be hung. [. . .] Bucks, woman [sic] and children, were scalped, fingers cut off to get the rings on them . . . little children shot, while begging for their lives. [. . .] I told the Col. I thought it was murder to jump them friendly Indians. He says in reply; Damn any man or men who are in sympathy with them.”

In early 1865, Congress and the US Army began their investigations. The Congressional committee condemned Chivington for his “foul and dastardly massacre.” But he had already resigned from the army, so he was spared a court-martial. Soule was murdered shortly after his testimony by people believed to be friends of Chivington. Later that year, the federal government promised reparations for the massacre but never paid them.

See what I mean? Evil can be in any man, but in a man like this embarked on a power trip it can hurt so maqny people. Special places in Hell for his kind, I think! This article was one I found over at Knowledgenuts.

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. The heat index is around 107 and that's too hot for the patio, I think.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Sad Case Of Child Exploitation...!

Sometimes early cases of child exploitation can be seen, even as far back as the 1930s. Sad but so true!

I'd like to think if a case like this came up today, it would not have taken so long for circumstances to be changed for the betterment of the children. Sometimes I wonder, though.

The Tragic Story Of The Dionne Quintuplets
By Debra Kelly on Saturday, July 25, 2015

In the 1930s, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Canada was the nursery of the Dionne quintuplets. Born at a time when giving birth to five babies at one time was unheard of, the government took the girls from their parents and raised them until they were nine years old. More than three million people (spending a collective total of around $500 million) came to see them, and by the time they were released back into the custody of their parents, not only did those parents not really seem to want them, but they grew up sad, lonely, and poorly adjusted to life in the real world.

Today, we live in an age of in vitro fertilization and fertility clinics, but in the 1930s, it was very, very different. Twins were miraculous enough, especially if they survived. When a set of five babies was born to a woman in Corbeil, Ontario, the world had seen nothing like it.

The girls weighed only about 1 kilogram (2 lb) each, and they were born about two months early. When they survived against all odds—with the help of women who donated breast milk and Canadian Red Cross nurses—they became a world sensation. They were miracle babies, and during the era of depression and repression, they were a symbol of hope.

Sounds great, at first, but it wasn’t long before things got dark.

The girls (named Annette, Cecile, Emilie, Marie, and Yvonne) attracted the attention of the government when they were about four months old. Declaring that their parents weren’t capable of caring for five babies, they removed the girls to a house near the hospital they had been born at. There, they were under the supervision and care of a small army of nurses and doctors, constantly subjected to scientific scrutiny.

Doctors noted things like the girls’ tendency to pair off with each other; there were two sets of children that had been born in the same amniotic sac; these girls were closer to each other. The fifth didn’t have such a partner, and doctors suspected that there had been a sixth baby that had been miscarried. They took note of things like physical similarities and personality differences, and they were turned into a major tourist attraction.

Between 1934 and 1943, about three million people went to peer through the glass window and into the nursery where the girls were being raised. Sometimes, the girls were taken out, dressed alike, and introduced to visitors. Even though their parents lived across the street, they almost never went home. Their father, Oliva, sold postcards and merchandise, while pictures of them were licensed to companies selling everything from oatmeal to dish soap. A series of dolls were made based on their likenesses, fan letters kept the world updated on their growth and development, and holiday pictures were taken and run in papers across the world.

The family and the town started raking in the money. During the time they were on display, it’s estimated that they brought about $500 million in tourist dollars into Ontario.

They remained on display until they were nine years old, when they were returned to their parents. As they grew up, things didn’t go well. As adults, they remember bitter parents who often told them that life had been better before they had been born. Later, they would write a book about their experiences growing up, for the first time sharing that they had been abused by their father. The money that had been raised on their exhibition was mostly gone by the time they were entitled to their trust fund, and by that time, they were so sheltered that they didn’t know the difference between a nickel and a quarter anyway.

All five distanced themselves from their family as soon as they could. Emilie, who had chosen to become a nun, died in 1954 after suffering a seizure. Marie died in 1970, after suffering from a blood clot. Yvonne died in 2001. Even though three of the sisters married and had children of their own, they also continued to have rather unhappy lives, haunted by their early, formative years growing up behind a glass wall, on display for millions.

How sad to think of these poor girls growing up behind a glass wall like animals in a zoo. Then to be given back to parents that were not willing or able to be good parents! It just breaks your heart, ya know? This sad bit of history is from the folks at KnowledgeNuts.

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Little Desert Monday Mystery....!

Here's a mystery we haven't seen yet. One from the desert.

Mother Nature can create a lot of really strange mysteries for us to wonder about. This is certainly one that will have you scratching your head, I think.

Fairy Circles

Photo credit: Stephan Gatzin

In the Namibian desert, millions of evenly spaced circles dot the landscape. Their edges are lined with knee-high grass, but nothing grows in the centers—not even when fertilized soil is added.

The mystery surrounding the origin of these natural rings has inspired many theories over the decades, but none pan out to the satisfaction of everyone in the scientific community. Suggestions include the work of termites, sand-bathing ostriches and zebras, noxious plants and fungi killing circular patches of grass, subterranean gas, competing grasses, and levels of available nutrients in the soil.

While most fairy circles appear in the Namib Desert, they occupy a 1,800-kilometer-long (1,100 mi) stretch that reaches Cape Province in South Africa. One aspect of the circles that indicates systematized organization is that they never overlap, causing scientists to speculate whether the circles are competing with each other in some way. Each fairy circle can expand between 2 and 20 meters (7–65 ft) in diameter and have a lifespan of up to 75 years. No one knows what causes them to vanish.

Well, there ya go. One more mystery that we have no clue as to what causes them. Guess we aren't as smart as we think we are sometimes, right?

Coffee out on the patio agan, hot though it is.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Toons For A Hot Sunday...!

We will probably have a mixed bag of cartoons for today. Don't want to get stuck in a rut, now do we?

And maybe just one more...

That's all I have this morning. You all have a good day, ya hear?

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Little Saturday Funny...!

Just a short little story today that I think you'll get a kick out of. We all could use a little humor in our day, right?

The Cardiologist

A Lexus mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the motor of a LS460 when he spotted a well-known cardiologist in his shop. The cardiologist was there waiting for the service manager to come and take a look at his car when the mechanic shouted across the garage, "Hey Doc, want to take a look at this?”

The cardiologist, a bit surprised, walked over to where the mechanic was working. The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, "So Doc, look at this engine. I opened its heart, took the valves out, repaired or replaced anything damaged, and then put everything back in, and when I finished, it worked just like new. So how is it that I make $48,000 a year and you make $1.7 million when you and I are doing basically the same work?”

The cardiologist paused, leaned over and whispered to the mechanic... “Try doing it with the engine running."

I hope you all have a great day, ya hear?

Coffee out on the patio today!

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Real Cyborg For Freaky Friday...!

Sounds like something right out of a bad movie, doesn't it? Well, truth is indeed sometimes stranger thn fiction!

It's one thing to declare yourself to be a cyborg, but in this case the government allowed it to be shown on his passport. So now there is another classification to be added to the classes. I wonder where it will end?

The First Officially Recognized Cyborg
By Nolan Moore on Thursday, July 16, 2015


Neil Harbisson is a real-life cyborg. The man actually has a device implanted in his skull that transforms colors into sound. And not only is he a living, breathing sci-fi character, Neil is also the world’s first legally recognized cyborg, courtesy of the United Kingdom.

Cyborgs aren’t just the stuff of sci-fi anymore. Ever since Professor Kevin Warwick implanted a silicon chip into his arm back in 1998, more and more “biohackers” have modified their bodies with all sorts of magnets and machines. One of the most prominent figures in the field of “cyborgism” is Neil Harbisson, a 32-year-old man who made history after becoming the world’s first legally recognized cyborg.

Raised in Catalonia, Spain, Harbisson lived in a world that was drab and gray. Why? Well, Harbisson was born with a condition called achromatopsia. That means he’s completely color-blind. The reds, greens, and blues most of us enjoy were completely foreign to him. It wasn’t until 2004 that Harbisson actually started to understand the concept of color, thanks to one incredibly odd invention.

While studying at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, Harbisson and a computer scientist buddy spent their spare time building an “eyeborg.” It wasn’t shiny or fancy looking, but this little device would revolutionize Harbisson’s life. The so-called “eyeborg” was originally a small computer attached to a long antenna that looped over Harbisson’s head. Imagine the electronic eye probe from War of the Worlds.

Just like that Martian machine, there was a camera at the end of the antenna that transmitted data back to the computer which, in turn, transformed the incoming colors into 360 various sound waves. The noise was then sent through a pair of earphones for Harbisson’s listening pleasure. While he couldn’t see yellow and purple, he could suddenly hear them. Each color had its own unique sound.

As you might assume, all this aural stimulation was a bit much at first. Harbisson suffered from headaches for weeks, and it took several months to differentiate each sound. But as he grew used to all that noise, Harbisson was eventually able to associate each individual color with its matching frequency. Suddenly, the world opened up in new ways, and Harbisson could identify orange, pick out purple, and get a “glimpse” of gold. He even hears colors like infrared and ultraviolet.

Over time, Harbisson has made quite a few modifications to the eyeborg, altering it from a mere Walkman to truly sci-fi technology. After a few tweaks, Harbisson actually implanted the computer software into his body and placed the eyeborg inside his skull. The device is now fused to bone and sends vibrations to his eardrums via a tiny screw. And thanks to this incredible implant, Harbisson has become a pretty important person in the history of cyborgism.

If you look at his UK passport, you’ll spot the antenna drooping down in front of his forehead. Essentially, the British government recognized the eyeborg as part of his body, allowed the machine to be part of his official photograph, and snapped the picture. In other words, Harbisson is the first legally recognized cyborg in the world.

Of course, Harbisson doesn’t spend all his time rocking out to rainbows. He’s a very busy guy. These days, he operates the Cyborg Foundation, a group that promotes biohacking and stands up for cyborg rights. He’s also busy working on new inventions like the “earborg” which is like the eyeborg in reverse. Instead of translating color into sounds, it translates sounds into colors. He’s also developing an eyeborg app for Android so other people can experience the world like he does. And according to Harbisson, cyborgism is the way of the future, and soon we’ll be living in a world full of upgraded humans, and no one will think twice about it. “It will become normal to have tech inside our bodies or have it implanted,” he told CNN. “I think it just needs time.

Looks to me as though the future we thought was far away is much closer than we ever imagined. Time marches on...very quickly!

Coffee out on the patio once again!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Saving Edison's Last Breath...!

It seems as though Ford had some strange beliefs, and they got a little more strange as he got older.

Turns out that Edison and Henry Ford were buddies and shared thoughts just about everything as friends are known to do. Somewhere down the line, they hatched up a strange idea that most would find strange. Even in this day and time it sounds a little crazy. Here is that story straight from KnowledgeNuts.

How Henry Ford Tried To Keep Thomas Edison’s Last Breath
By Debra Kelly on Tuesday, July 21, 2015


One of Henry Ford’s first jobs was working for the Edison Illuminating Company, and once he finally got to meet his mentor, the two became fast friends. When Edison died, Ford ended up with a test tube taken from his room and sealed, a poignant reminder of the life that had quite literally changed the way we see the world. There’s another (wildly embellished) story that goes along with it, too, that suggests Ford believed that he had captured Edison’s last breath (and perhaps his soul) and hoped that one day, scientists would figure out how to put him back together again.

Henry Ford (pictured above at left) was a weird guy, lauded for revolutionizing industry at the same time that he had some pretty dark ideas about just what the world should have looked like. He hated Jews, people who sent their children to others outside the family for day care, and he most certainly hated Jewish car manufacturers. One person he really loved was Thomas Edison (pictured above at right).

Ford’s humble beginnings are well documented, and one of the first jobs he had was at the Edison Illuminating Company. By the time he was 33, he was building his first automobile prototype and still working for Edison, whom he finally met at a company party. According to the story, Edison was so impressed with Ford’s idea that it inspired Ford to continue down the road of car manufacturing.

Their first meeting grew into a friendship, where they would vacation together, go camping together, and even hold wheelchair races together. (Ford bought several of his own to compete with the wheelchair-bound Edison.)

Edison died in 1931, and in May 1951, hundreds of personal items were transferred to the Henry Ford Museum. Written on the inventory of items was a rather odd notation that simply read, “glass case containing Mr. Thomas Edison’s hat, shoes, and sealed test tube containing (?).”

No one was quite sure what was in the test tube at the time, and it was shoved away into storage until 1978. Someone seemed to remember something about a letter stating that it was the test tube from Edison’s bedroom that Ford had requested. No letter was ever found, and it wasn’t until the 1980s that another letter turned up. It was from Charles Edison to a radio personality, starting that when his father was suffering from his last illness, he had a set of test tubes sitting in his room. After Edison died, his son had sealed the test tubes with paraffin in a symbolic gesture, capturing that moment in time in a very poignant way. He also said that he gave one to Henry Ford.
It seems that this part of the story is absolutely true. Embellishment came later. (It’s not enough that we’re told a good story; we want to be told a great one.)

The test tube was reported to be filled with “Edison’s last breath,” and according to the embellished retelling, Edison’s son had held the test tube to his father’s mouth to capture his last breath before sealing it. One of the ideas that goes along with it is Ford’s belief in the soul and reincarnation, and some say that he had hoped that one day, scientists would be able to bring Edison back using the breath—and potentially, the soul—that had been captured in the test tube.

The Henry Ford Museum still has the test tube filled with air from the room where Thomas Edison died, and according to visitors, it’s one of the most poignant pieces on display. It’s a weirdly personal thing that somehow serves to remind visitors that the men whose names are known in conjunction with revolutionizing the world were still simply men, for better or worse.

As a final footnote, there are more such test tubes in Edison’s estate—42 more.

It's strange to imagine someone like Henry Ford having such unusual beliefs, but I guess it shows that most men, rich or poor, have more in common that we thought. Thinking about the afterlife seems to be just one of those things!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It's gonna be another hot one!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

John Coffee Hays For Western Wednesday...!

I don't think we have talked about Hays before, but with a middle name of Coffee we owe him another look. Couldn't hurt, right?

John Coffee Hays

John Coffee Hays

Born in Tennessee, Hays arrived in San Antonio in 1837, shortly after Texas won its independence from Mexico. By 1841, at the tender age of 23, he was a Ranger captain. A fearless fighter and skilled leader, Hays won his fame defending Texans from raids and attacks by both Native American (Comanche) groups and Mexican bandits. More than any other man, he would come to symbolize the Rangers of the Texas Republic era. During the Mexican War (1846-48), Hays’ Rangers scouted, defended U.S. supply and communication lines from attacks by Mexican guerrillas and fought alongside regular U.S. army troops, earning a national reputation for their bravery. After the war, Hays went further west to California, where he made his name in politics, real estate and ranching and helped found the city of Oakland.

Judging from his hair-do, I'd say John might have had a few too many servings of coffee before his picture session. Guess looks aren't everything, though.

Coffee out on mthe patio. Hoping for showers later on.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Great Lady Codebreaker...!

When we think of codebreakers, we mostly think of men. In the old days, that was usually the case. This lady helpeds to change all that!

Her story is indeed, an interesting one. I think you'll like it.

The Codebreaker Who Changed History During Prohibition
By Debra Kelly on Sunday, July 12, 2015


Even though she couldn’t vote at the start of her career and it was a time when women were more commonly found tending the kitchen than the workplace, Elizebeth Friedman was one of the most prolific cryptographers in American history. After working on German-Indian codes throughout World War I, she and her single assistant formed the entirety of the new counterintelligence agency formed by the Coast Guard to fight smuggling during Prohibition. In a matter of only a few years, she decoded more than 12,000 ciphers and testified against Al Capone’s men, indicted in connection with liquor smuggling through New Orleans.

The years around Prohibition were a fascinating mix of everyday rebellion, secret speakeasies, bootleggers, rum runners, organized crime, and the men that were fighting to enforce the law. One of the most important weapons the US government had was perhaps one of the most unlikeliest, especially given the time. Elizebeth Friedman was one of the best, most prolific cryptanalysts in any nation’s history, working at a time when most women didn’t have the option of a college education and ended up in the home.

Friedman was born in 1892, and when it came time for college, she took out a loan (at 6 percent interest) from her father to pay for her education. She went to Wooster College in Ohio and embarked on what she thought was going to be her career: writing. She eventually graduated in 1915, and while looking for work with an employment agency, she was recruited by a rich businessman to work in a private think tank, deciphering cryptic margin notes in old editions of Shakespeare’s works.

With World War I looming on the horizon, Elizebeth and her husband, William, were recruited into the war effort where they worked on coded messages that were passing between Germany and India. At the end of the war, they headed to Washington, DC, and joined up with military intelligence agencies there.

Rum running and smuggling had become a major problem by 1925, and the country was losing millions. It resulted in the creation of a Coast Guard counterintelligence unit that acted as a part of the Treasury Department, and Elizebeth was, essentially, the entire team. She was given cyphers and coded messages by Captain Charles Root, then took them home to decipher them as she cared for her family (which included two young children at this point).

By the end of 1930, Elizebeth and her assistant had cracked 12,000 encrypted messages that used more than 50 different codes. A handful of those codes led to the end of a rum runner that had been eluding detection for nearly a decade.

When the Coast Guard finally caught up with the crew of the I’m Alone off the coast of Louisiana, it resulted in the death of one agent and the wounding of several others. There were so many bullet holes in the ship that it sank. And when it did, it was flying the Canadian flag.

That meant it was an international incident, and it was Elizebeth’s translations of coded messages that proved that ship wasn’t legitimately under the protection of the Canadian government. Instead, they showed that the ship’s communications referred to deliveries of whiskey.

She also testified against Al Capone’s agents, who were arrested in New Orleans as a part of the liquor trade that was coming in through the Gulf of Mexico. The first expert witness in a case that had taken two years to prepare, she presented incriminating testimony from the so-called Cryptanalytic Unit, which was actually only her and her assistant.

In my opinion, we don't often give the women in our past enough credit for their contributions. I'm trying to change that a little by posting at least one story about some of these often overlooked heroes of our past!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I'll bring out some ice water if anyone needs it, OK?

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Brennan Casino Heist Mystery...!

The robbery of a major casino very rarely happens, and when it happens it is rarely talked about in the media.

Books have been written and movies have been made with all kinds of wonderful, intricate plans for a successful casino heist, but real life is sometimes much simpler. This story from the pages of Listverse shows what I mean.

The Bill Brennan Heist

In the popular movie Ocean’s Eleven, a large group of thieves orchestrate a complicated heist in which they steal millions of dollars from a casino. In real life, it’s insanely difficult to rob a casino because of their many layers of security. However, one of the few successful real-life casino heists was remarkably simple.

For four years, Bill Brennan was employed as a sports book cashier at the Stardust Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. On the morning of September 22, 1992, Brennan showed up for work as usual. However, during his lunch break, Brennan managed to walk away from the casino with $507,361 in stolen cash and chips. When police raided Brennan’s apartment, he was nowhere to be found, and he quickly became one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives.

Brennan did not draw any attention to himself during the heist. It’s believed that he carefully studied the casino’s security systems, as no surveillance footage captured him stealing the money or leaving the establishment. According to those who knew him, Brennan was an unremarkable loner who never caused any problems, but seemed to undergo an attitude change when management refused to promote him to a supervisory position. This was because Brennan had started hanging around with a regular bettor at the casino whom management considered shady and distrustful.

Curiously, this bettor also disappeared a few months after the heist, leading to speculation that he and Brennan had orchestrated the crime together. If Brennan did have an accomplice, it’s possible he might have been double-crossed and killed for the stolen money. But until Bill Brennan is found, this will remain one of the most infamous unsolved heists of all time.

All I know is that there is a lot of desert around Las Vegas and Brennan made off with a lot of money. The money might be found, but I really don't think Brennan (or his grave) ever will. Just my opinion.

Coffee out on the patio once more. I know, I's hot!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Way Politics Should Be...!

It isn't often that we give credit to young people for doing something extraordinary, but maybe we should do it more often.

If this young man showed us anything, it was that even at a young age he recognized the importance of doing things for others while in public office. Just think of what he might have done as he grew older.

Brian Zimmerman

Photo credit: Djmaschek

History is full of monarchs that were given power before reaching adulthood. But even though Brian Zimmerman acquired a relatively small amount of power compared to any of those young rulers, he came by it through work instead of by birth. In 1983, Zimmerman successfully campaigned for mayor of the unincorporated town of Crabb, Texas, (population 225 at the time) when he was only 11 years old. His campaign was no doubt helped by powerful rhetoric like: “The mayor isn’t there to sit and worry about keeping his job. He’s there to do what’s best for the people.”

Unfortunately, Zimmerman did not pull off his main campaign promise to prevent Crabb from being absorbed by the larger communities around it. At least, he had the consolation of becoming famous nationwide, with his story having been adapted into the film Lone Star Kid, which starred James Earl Jones and was produced by Ron Howard. Or at least that would have been consolation if the spotlight had appealed to Zimmerman at all. For example, he dismissed his appearance on Good Morning, America by saying of it, “I’m not jumping up and down.” You’d think the sort of person who becomes a successful politician would desire all the publicity they could get.

Sadly, Zimmerman died of a heart attack in 1996 at age 24

I can only hope that someone like him can be elected to Washington at some point. We can use all the help there that we can get, right?

Coffee out on the patio while it's still shady.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Prez And The Needle...!

Now before you get all excited, I ain't talking about the modern day Prez, but ol' Thomas Jefferson.

It seems that Jefferson was a bit of a scientist on the side. He had a hand in the research of the smallpox vaccine, even after he was elected president. Other than get you all confused, here's the story taken right from the folks over at KnowledgeNuts.

The Sitting President Who Worked On The Smallpox Vaccine
By Heather Ramsey on Sunday, May 10, 2015

In 1796, English doctor Edward Jenner discovered the power of vaccination by using cowpox serum to protect healthy people against smallpox. Four years later, Jenner sent a sample of this smallpox vaccine to Harvard professor Benjamin Waterhouse, who enlisted the help of an amateur scientist in Virginia to test the vaccine on a larger population. Even after he became the third US President, Thomas Jefferson continued to work on the vaccine in his spare time. Benjamin Franklin also advocated vaccination. In 1980, the World Health Assembly declared that smallpox had been officially eradicated worldwide.

In 1796, English doctor Edward Jenner discovered the power of vaccination by using cowpox serum to protect healthy people against smallpox. Four years later, Jenner sent a sample of this smallpox vaccine to Harvard professor Benjamin Waterhouse, who tried the vaccine on his own family. To prove the effectiveness of the serum, Waterhouse later exposed some of his family members to patients with smallpox. The vaccine was a success.

However, Waterhouse wanted to get the word out to a larger population. He couldn’t do it on his own, so he wrote to Thomas Jefferson, an amateur scientist in Virginia. Jefferson was excited about the idea, and the two men partnered long-distance to make it happen. Jefferson helped Waterhouse figure out how to package the vaccine to survive the trip to Virginia. In fact, even after he became the third US President, Thomas Jefferson continued to work on testing and promoting the new vaccine.

Jefferson had always been an advocate of “inoculation,” although this earlier method gave the actual disease to the patient in a milder form to provide immunity. Depending on the progression of the disease, it could be deadly to the person inoculated and to people who were exposed to that person, if he or she weren’t quarantined properly. Despite the risks, Jefferson had insisted on having himself, his children, and some of his slaves inoculated with this dangerous earlier method.

Benjamin Franklin was also an advocate of this more deadly form of inoculation. In his newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, he published studies showing the value of inoculation. In one such study in 1730, 72 people were inoculated, but only 3 percent of the patients died. When people normally contracted the disease, about 25 percent died. Franklin also set up the Society for Inoculating the Poor Gratis so that the high cost of inoculation wouldn’t leave the poor unprotected. Franklin had a personal reason for his interest in inoculation: His young son, Francis Folger Franklin, had died of smallpox at just four years old.

Benjamin Franklin died several years before inoculation was replaced by the discovery of vaccination against smallpox. That left Jefferson to be the champion of the cause. He chose a teenage kitchen slave to be the first test case, but the vaccination didn’t “take.” Later, he vaccinated two more slaves. This time, the experiment was a success.

In short order, Jefferson had vaccinated almost 200 of his extended family and neighbors. When some of them were later exposed to smallpox, they were fine. Jefferson conducted these tests, keeping careful notes, all while he was President of the United States. The smallpox vaccine slowly spread. But it wasn’t until 1980 that the World Health Assembly declared that smallpox had been officially eradicated worldwide.

Thank goodness we had folks like this working toward the future health of mankind. We have certainly come a long, long way in medicine due in large part to their efforts.Wouldn't you agree?

Coffee out on the patio again this morning.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Government's Ban Of Sliced Bread...!

We all know that during WW1 and WW2, the government did a lot of rationing and, in some cases, even banning of certain items to help the war effort. Some of these worked and others were doomed to fail. Take the ban of sliced bread for instance.

While it may have seemed like a good idea on paper, the banning of sliced bread turned out to be one of those rare times when the government backed down.

. The sliced bread ban

Americans were asked to conserve bread by observing “Wheatless Wednesdays,” during World War I, but during World War II, the government took its rationing a step further. In January 1943, the U.S. War Foods Administration instituted a ban on what had once been advertised as “the greatest step forward in the baking industry”: pre-sliced bread. The rule was intended to save on wax paper and metal. Since pre-sliced bread required more wrapping than a whole loaf to keep it from going stale, the government assumed they could easily conserve paper and curb demand for metal bread slicer parts by having people cut it themselves at home. The public response proved how wrong they were. Bakeries argued they had more than enough supplies on hand to meet demands, and housewives criticized the law in the media. “I should like to let you know how important sliced bread is to the morale and saneness of a household,” began one woman’s letter to the New York Times. Secretary of Agriculture Claude R. Wickard eventually bowed to the pressure and rescinded the ban after only three months, admitting, “the savings are not as much as we expected…

It doesn't happen often, folks, but it does happen. From time to time, the government does actually listen to the will of the people and act accordingly. Hey, we'll take our victories when and where we can, right?

Coffee out on the patio this morning, before it gets too hot, OK?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lottie Deno On Western Wednesday...!

We've talked about many women of the old west before, but I think we missed Lottie somehow.

This lady was quite the figure at the time, and was probably an inspiration to many other women. She is reported to have even been the inspiration for some famous fictional characters.

Lottie Deno

When your father is a wealthy racehorse breeder and talented gambler, chances are good that you’ll pick up a few pointers along the way. This was the case for Lottie Deno. Before his death during the Civil War, Lottie’s father would take her with him to gambling halls, teaching her the art of gambling. After her father’s death, Lottie’s mother sent her to Detroit in search of a husband. Instead, Lottie hooked up with one of her father’s former jockeys and began gambling up and down the Mississippi River.

Lottie eventually found her way to San Antonio, where she became the University Club’s house gambler. The Thurmond family owned the establishment, and that is how Lottie came to know and fall in love with Frank Thurmond. After Frank killed a man, he hightailed it west, and Lottie soon followed. Gambling her way through West Texas with the likes of Doc Holiday, she became a well-known Wild West figure. It’s said that Lottie was even the inspiration for Miss Kitty in the television show Gunsmoke. Eventually, Lottie and Frank reunited and settled down in Deming, New Mexico, where they acted as upstanding citizens in the community.

It's nice to know that some good things could be said about the ladies of the old west. She must have been quite the character!

Coffee back in the kitchen again. Hotter today than yesterday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Flesh Eating Tombs...!

Many of the old tombs and structures have secrets that we have never found the answers to.

The Old Ones found ways to do certain things that we have yet to equal. You might say that some knowledge has not been shared with us, in spite of our technical advances.

The Mysterious Turkish Tombs That Quickly Dissolve Bodies

Assos in Turkey has suffered from botched excavations, extended neglect, and people carting away remnants of the ruins for personal use. In the late 1800s, written accounts of the first dig reveal that the archaeological team, many of whom were amateurs, dug too quickly and damaged some of the site. In addition, Francis Bacon, an architect who was second in command of the excavation, complained about all the different people, including those in government, who simply took what they wanted from the site without regard to preserving its history.

“It makes one’s blood boil to think how this grand old city has been devastated within the last 50 years! The Turkish government has been carting away cut stones, and every little village in the neighborhood comes here for building material,” said Bacon. “The gypsy smiths steal all the iron clamps as fast as we expose them, and next year a new magazine [storeroom] will be built here at the port all of ancient blocks. In 10 years it won’t be much use coming here to see Greek ruins; better go to Athens!”

In the 1980s, a new Turkish team not only excavated the site, they attempted to reconstruct some of the ruins. However, instead of using exceptionally durable andesite like the ancient builders did, this Turkish team substituted concrete blocks in areas where the original stones were missing. The concrete crumbled more in just 20 years than the ancient stones did in 2,500 years. The rest of the reconstructions were botched, too.

Nevertheless, Assos has a feature that has intrigued scientists for a long time. The city is known for its flesh-eating tombs that cause bodies to decompose completely in just 40 days instead of the normal 50–200 years needed elsewhere. In fact, it’s believed that the word “sarcophagusA” derives from the Greek sarkophagos, which literally means “flesh-eating stone.”

Some scientists believe that the tombs contain a large amount of aluminum to accelerate decomposition of the bodies. Their theory is that the ancient inhabitants of Assos discovered that aluminum would burn skin, so they placed aluminum inside the sarcophagi to make the bodies decompose more quickly. Other researchers are studying andesite, the type of stone used in the Assos sarcophagi, to see if it contains a special property that hastens decomposition. In the ancient world, these sarcophagi were highly valued and were traded as far away as Egypt and Rome.

Isn't it a shame that in trying to unwrap a mystery, we often end up destroying it instead? I think it happens more than we will ever know.

We better have our coffee in the kitchen this morning. The heat out on the patio isn't good for our health. 100 degrees aqt 9:00 PM last night.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Miracles Do Happen...!

From time to time something happens, even in medicine, that defies explanation. Many are never explained in any fashion known to man.

This story from Listverse shows that miracles do indeed happen. Nothing else could even come close to explaning what took place!

The Miraculous Recovery Of Owen Thomas

In many near-death experience stories, a patient is brought to a hospital with slim expectations of survival, then makes a miraculous recovery. However, few of these recoveries are more unlikely than that of 20-year-old Owen Thomas.

On December 16, 1981, Owen saw his friend being attacked on a New York street corner and intervened to help. Stabbed three times in the chest and abdomen, Owen’s heart, liver, and gallbladder were punctured. By the time anyone ran over to help, his intestines were hanging 20 centimeters (8 in) out of his stomach. Owen was rushed to Beekman Downtown Hospital. When he arrived, his body had already lost so much blood that his chances of survival seemed nonexistent.

Owen’s heart stopped beating, and he had no pulse or blood pressure by the time doctors went to work on him. Owen’s bowels had also been severed by the stabbing, so his intestines were covered in feces. Although Owen was clinically dead for over five minutes, somehow he survived several hours of surgery.

Doctors feared that the long period of oxygen deprivation would cause serious damage to Owen’s brain, but he was completely coherent when he woke up and displayed no negative aftereffects. Owen’s recovery defied all medical logic. Everyone involved thought it was a genuine miracle.

Later, Owen described a vision of entering Heaven, where he encountered his older brother, Christopher, who had died in a car crash two years earlier. According to Owen, Christopher pushed him out of Heaven. “We don’t want you,” Christopher had said before Owen woke up. Owen Thomas’s unlikely recovery remains one of the more miraculous near-death experiences on record.

Believe it or not, it seems that this is another case of a medical miracle. I would rather believe in miracles than doubt if they exist, ya know?

Co0ffee out on the patio this morning.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday With Bugs Again...!

Hard to go wrong with the ol' standby...Bugs!

Bugs has always been a favorite with the kids. I reckon it's because he is often quite the smart mouth. Guess most folks around the world know who he is!

And how about one more...?

I reckon that's enough for today. Ya'll have a good day...OK?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

China's 4 Pest Mistake...!

If we have learned anything over the years, it's that is not a good idea to mess with Mother Nature.

Sometimes the people in charge think they know better than nature about how things should be done. Making changes can have disastrous results.

The Four Pests Campaign

Photo credit: US National Library of Medicine

It’s never a good idea to screw around with nature, even if you’re an all-powerful dictator. But Mao Zedong wasn’t exactly an expert when it came to conservation, so when he initiated the “Four Pests Campaign” in 1958, he thought he was saving China from all its ills and woes.

Much like Stalin over in the Soviet Union, Chairman Mao wanted to push China out of its agrarian past into a modern, 20th-century future. For example, he wanted to rid China of plague and pestilence, so he decided to eliminate four particularly irritating animals: mosquitoes, flies, rats, and sparrows. While the bugs and rats carried all sorts of diseases, the birds had a bad habit of raiding grain and rice farms. Chinese scientists crunched a few numbers and concluded that one single sparrow eats 4.5 kilograms (10 lb) of grain each year. So if you killed a million sparrows, that’s food for 60,000 hungry people.

Inspired by the “science,” Mao initiated the Great Sparrow Campaign. A massive propaganda machine churned out thousands of posters featuring bright-eyed children and dead sparrows. Workers built scarecrows and flags to scare the birds, and people marched through town, banging pots and pans to frighten the sparrows away.

Birds were poisoned, eggs were crushed, and special zones were set up where marksmen and women could pick off sparrows as they flew by. Some say hundreds of millions of birds died, while others put the number at one billion. Whatever the death toll, the Four Pests Campaign nearly drove sparrows in China to extinction. Then the locusts showed up.

When doing their calculations, those Chinese scientists forgot an important piece of information. Birds keep insects in check. If you remove sparrows from the equation, things get real biblical real fast, and in 1960, the bugs absolutely destroyed Chinese crops, forcing Mao to remove the sparrow from his Four Pests Campaign. (Our fine feathered friend was replaced with the bedbug.)

Though it wasn’t the only factor involved, the Sparrow Campaign certainly played a key part in bringing about the Great Chinese Famine. The famine lasted four long years, and by the time it was over, approximately 30 million people were dead.

You would think that after all this time, we would finally start to get the message. However, mankind can be his own worst enemy, it seems. I wonder how many more times nature will kick us in the butt before we finallyt start to get the message?

Coffee out on the patio, even though it's hot already.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Secret Spies Of Disney World...!

Ever wonder just how far some companies would go to make a buck? I some cases, pretty far!

Part of the history of Disney World involved either real shady practices or extremely successful business sense. In reading this story, I am inclined to lean toward the shady, ya know?

The CIA Spies Behind Disney World’s Secretive, Fake Cities
By Alex Hanton on Wednesday, July 8, 2015

By the late 1950s, it was clear that theme parks were the future of Disney. The company’s first park, California’s Disneyland, had saved it from bankruptcy and was soon generating huge profits. A second location was only logical, and Walt Disney himself soon had his heart set on Florida. (A probably apocryphal legend claims that he initially wanted it in St. Louis but changed his mind after feeling insulted by local Budweiser executives.) But there were challenges to be faced: Disneyland was such a huge money-spinner that local landowners were sure to jack up their prices once they heard Walt was sniffing around for a second space. Additionally, Walt was furious that cheap hotels and businesses had sprung up around his California location, ruining the ambiance. In Florida, he wanted to be in complete control.

To help him achieve that, Walt turned to two of the most notorious spies in American history. William “Wild Bill” Donovan was the founder of the OSS, the World War II–era spy agency that eventually morphed into the CIA. As such, he has a serious claim to be the founder of modern US espionage. By the late ‘50s, Donovan had been unceremoniously retired from government service and was heading up his own law firm, which Disney quickly hired.

He also hired Paul Helliwell, an incredibly shady figure who ran CIA front operations in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean and who usually shows up in the various conspiracy theories about CIA drug trafficking. Helliwell’s job was to use his CIA experience to set up a number of shell companies, which would be able to buy land in central Florida without anybody realizing it was really being bought by Disney.

That part of the plan went off without a hitch, with Helliwell snapping up land for as low as $80 an acre while Donovan’s law firm ran a disinformation campaign to prevent anyone working out who was really behind the purchases. When word finally got out that the land was for Disney, the price ballooned up to $80,000 an acre, but by that point the space for the park had been acquired at an average of just $200 an acre. But Disney still needed to make sure he completely controlled the land—and that meant getting the government out of the picture as well. Luckily, Helliwell had a solution.

The CIA man advised Disney to set up “puppet governments” in the form of two fake cities. Since nobody actually lived in the area, Disney would just need to place a couple of hand-picked employees in the cities to totally control the local government. This was probably illegal and arguably unconstitutional, but with the aid of a compliant state legislature, the cities (Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista) were duly incorporated. They still exist today, with a combined population of 44 people, all of them Disney employees, or retired employees, or the children of employees. The citizens elect officials and decide what ordinances to pass, but “if they didn’t vote Disney’s way regularly, you can be sure they wouldn’t be Disney employees or living on Disney property much longer.” By controlling the cities, Disney controls local government, making Walt Disney World a magical kingdom indeed.

I reckon that good business sense means making sure that all your neighbors are getting their paychecks and guidance from the same place. Nothing like being in total control, I guess.

Coffee out on the patio once more!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

You Can't Outrun Fate...!

Sometimes you just can't get out of the way of things that are destined to be.

This poor family had no say-so about the unfortunate incidents that pretty much destroyed their lives. Sometimes running to another place just isn't enough.

The Civil War began in Wilmer McLean’s front yard…and ended in his front parlor.

Wilmer McLean's home in Appomattox, Virginia.

In the summer of 1861, Wilmer McLean and his family were living on his wife’s plantation near Manassas Junction, Virginia. As Union forces approached, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard took over the farm as his headquarters. On July 21, 1861, Confederate and Union troops clashed in the first major battle of the Civil War along the small stream known as Bull Run, which ran through McLean’s property. A second major battle—the Second Battle of Bull Run—took place on the same ground in August 1862.

By the end of 1863, McLean and his family had relocated to the small hamlet of Appomattox Court House, some 120 miles southwest of Manassas Junction. McLean, who supplied sugar to the Confederate Army, was in Appomattox on April 9, 1865, when Confederate Colonel Charles Marshal approached him for assistance finding a suitable place to host a meeting between General Robert E. Lee and his Union counterpart, Ulysses S. Grant. That afternoon, Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Grant in McLean’s parlor, which Union troops later stripped for mementoes of the historic occasion. McLean put the “Surrender House” on the market a year later. He wanted to return to Manassas, which he did in 1867, though he never sold the Appomattox house. Instead, he defaulted on the property, and it was sold at public auction in 1869. Now operated by the National Park Service, the McLean Home opened to the public in 1949.

This poor family was fated to be part of the civil war, no matter what they did. Some things are just meant to be, I reckon.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It's hot but not raining!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sam Houston Was A Man Of Action...!

Ol' Sam was not beyond taking some action with folks he had a problem with. Could be a man like him would be a welcome change in today's political scene.

He attacked a congressman walking down Pennsylvania Avenue with a cane.

Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On March 31, 1832, Ohio Congressman William Stanbery accused Houston of fraud in a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. When Houston encountered Stanbery walking down Pennsylvania Avenue two weeks later, he called the congressman a “rascal” before beating him repeatedly over the head with a cane that was fashioned from hickory harvested from the Hermitage, the estate of his political mentor, President Andrew Jackson. The congressman drew his pistol in self-defense, but when he pulled the trigger, the gun jammed and never fired. After Houston delivered several more blows, he left the bludgeoned Stanbery on the side of the capital’s main thoroughfare. Although high-profile lawyer Francis Scott Key, who penned the lyrics to the “Star-Spangled Banner,” represented Houston, Congress convicted him of contempt. A civil court also found Houston guilty and ordered him to pay $500, but he never paid a dime and Jackson eventually ordered the fine to remain uncollected.

Sounds to me as though Sam had the good sense to make some useful friends along the way. Politics haven't changed much over the years, I reckon.

Coffee out on the patio once again today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ever Wonder About Nautical Knots...?

Have you ever thought about how a ships speed was measured? Not exactly something most land lubbers would think about, for sure.

Actually the history behind measuring the speed of a ship is very interesting. I never knew about why or how the speed was measured myself until I read this article at

Why is a ship’s speed measured in knots?

Ancient mariners used to gauge how fast their ship was moving by throwing a piece of wood or other floatable object over the vessel’s bow then counting the amount of time that elapsed before its stern passed the object. This method was known as a Dutchman’s log. By the late 16th century, sailors had begun using a chip log to measure speed. In this method, knots were tied at uniform intervals in a length of rope and then one end of the rope, with a pie-slice-shape piece of wood (or “chip”) attached to it, was tossed behind the ship. As the vessel moved forward, the line of rope was allowed to roll out freely for a specific amount of time, which was typically tabulated with an hourglass. Afterward, the number of knots that had gone over the ship’s stern was counted and used in calculating the vessel’s rate of speed. A knot came to mean one nautical mile per hour. Therefore, a ship traveling at 15 knots could go 15 nautical miles per hour.

For a number of years, there was disagreement among various nations about the exact measurement of a nautical mile, which is based on the Earth’s circumference. In 1929, the international nautical mile was standardized at 6,076 feet; it was adopted by the United States in 1954. A nautical mile is different from a mile on land, which is based on walking distance. The Romans first defined a land mile as 1,000 paces or pairs of steps; it was set at its current measurement of 5,280 feet by Queen Elizabeth I in 1593.

Well, now we all know how fast our ship is going in knots. Might come in handy never can tell!

Coffee out on the patio again today.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Haunted Abbey For Monday Mystery...!

When it comes to places being haunted, religious buildings are reported just as often as regular ones. No place is immune, I reckon.

One thing about this next place, it has a very interesting history. That is worth a lot in a decent ghost story, ya know. The better known the place is, the better the story of hauntings is. At least, that's what I've been told!

The Lucedio Abbey

Photo via Wikimedia

The Lucedio Abbey, located in the province of Piedmont, is said to be one of the most haunted places in Italy. It was built by Cisternian monks in 1123 on land given to them by the Marquis of Monferrato. It later became a major cultivator of rice in the region, until it was secularized and sold off by the Vatican in 1784. After passing through a number of different owners (including Napoleon) the abbey has now been incorporated into a modern rice farm.

Due to its (alleged) grisly history, the abbey has spawned a number of legends. When the area is foggy, ghostly monks can be discerned wandering through the mist. One of the buildings possesses a pillar that inexplicably becomes wet, “crying” for all the evil things it has seen. During a restoration of one of the abbey’s houses, a perfectly preserved man is said to have been found buried inside a wall. More corpses can supposedly be found in the crypt, where the mummified bodies of former abbots sit in a circle of thrones, preventing the release of a monster trapped underground. The surrounding countryside is also said to be haunted: A hooded figure can be seen roaming the countryside, and one local church possesses a painting of an organ pipe and piece of sheet music known as the “Sheet of the Devil.” If the notes on the painting are played in reverse, the piece can apparently summon Satan himself.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm in no hurry to spend the night in this place. Not that I believe the stories, but why take the chance, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Bugs Bunny Sunday...!

Some days just call for a little Bugs, ya know? This is one of those days.

Bugs doesn't make friends easily, ya know?

Something about Bugs is timeless, ya know? I really don't know what it is, though.

OK...enough of Bugs for today. Time to make something to eat and clean up the yard from the neighbors fireworks.

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

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Real Survivor Story...!

I think that most folks know that all of the best "made up" stories have some kernels of truth. Many of the people in fiction are actually based on real people.

The stories of some castaways make ideal inspirations for books and even movies. Here is one of the castaways that may be the most well known.

Alexander Selkirk

Scottish mariner Alexander Selkirk’s solitary odyssey began in 1704, when he arrived at an island off the coast of Chile along with a group of British privateers. The men had spent the previous year harassing Spanish shipping around South America, but when they dropped anchor in the Juan Fernandez archipelago, Selkirk got into a dispute with his captain over the seaworthiness of their ship. Fearing the worm-eaten vessel would not survive another voyage, the hotheaded Selkirk elected to stay behind on the island with only a small supply of weapons, food, tobacco and rum to keep him company.

Selkirk may have believed that a passing ship would pick him up in a matter of weeks, but he would eventually spend more than four years and four months alone on the island. He passed the time by notching the days and months on a tree, reading his Bible and chasing goats—first for food, and then merely to have something to do. All the while, he kept his eyes peeled for signs of rescue, but the few ships he saw flew the Spanish flag. On one occasion, he was even forced to hide in a tree when Spanish mariners landed on the island to resupply. Selkirk was finally rescued in February 1709, when a band of privateers led by Captain Woodes Rogers stopped at his island. The wild-haired and bearded castaway initially had trouble remembering how to speak, but he went on to become a minor celebrity in 18th century England, and was likely the inspiration for the title character in Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel “Robinson Crusoe.

Just imagine how strange it must have been to have nothing but a herd of goats for company for 4 years. That would certainly test the survival skills of just about anyone!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Salty Post For Friday...!

You wouldn't think of something as common to us now days as salt has caused a great many problems in the past. Here is a little history of salt for ya to consider.

Off the Spice Rack: The Story of Salt
By Stephanie Butler

Salt doesn’t just make your food tastier—it’s actually required for life. Sodium ions help the body perform a number of basic tasks, including maintaining the fluid in blood cells and helping the small intestine absorb nutrients. We can’t make salt in our own bodies, so humans have always had to look to their environments to fill the need. Early hunters could get a steady supply of salt from meat, but agricultural groups had to seek it out by following animal tracks to salt deposits.

The Egyptians were the first to realize the preservation possibilities of salt. Sodium draws the bacteria-causing moisture out of foods, drying them and making it possible to store meat without refrigeration for extended periods of time. Delicacies like our modern-day Parma hams, gravlax, bresaola and baccala are all the result of salt curing. But back in the day, this type of preservation wasn’t limited to meat: Mummies were packed in salt too. In fact, when mummies were shipped down the Nile as cargo, they were taxed in the “salted meat” bracket.

How did ancient populations get their salt? The Shangxi province of China has a salt lake, Yuncheng, and it’s estimated that wars were being fought over control of its salt reserves as early as 6000 B.C. Salt was gathered from the lake during the dry season, when the water evaporated and flats of salt were exposed. The Egyptians got their salt from Nile marshes, while early British towns clustered around salt springs. In fact, the “wich” suffix in English place names like Middlewich and Norwich is associated with areas where salt working was a common practice.

Even well into American history, destinies were decided by salt. During the Civil War, salt was a precious commodity, used not only for eating but for tanning leather, dyeing clothes and preserving troop rations. Confederate President Jefferson Davis even offered a military service waiver to anyone willing to work on salt production on the coast. The ocean was the only reliable source of salt for the South since inland production facilities were so valued they became early targets of Union attacks.

Amazing how something we take for granted was such an important part of life in the old days. Makes you appreciate the little pleasures of life a little more, doesn't it? This article came from the website.

Coffee out on the patio today. No rain in sight...yet!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

An Early Mechanical Marvel...!

So many things we think of as being new and modern...aren't!

Who would have thought that mechanical realistic automons would have been built as far back as the 16th century?

The Mechanical Monk

The 16th century “mechanical monk” may have been the result of King Phillip II of Spain keeping up his end of a holy bargain. According to legend, Phillip II’s son and heir suffered a head injury, and the King vowed to the heavens that he would deliver a miracle if the boy were spared. When the Prince recovered, Phillip II commissioned a clockmaker and inventor named Juanelo Turriano to build a lifelike recreation of beloved Franciscan friar Diego de Alcalá (later Saint Diego). Completed sometime in the 1560s, Turriano’s 15-inch-tall automaton is powered by a wound spring and uses an assortment of iron cams and levers to move on three small wheels concealed beneath its monk’s robe. Artificial feet step up and down to imitate walking, and the friar’s eyes, lips and head all move in lifelike gestures. Working together, these elements give the impression of a monk deep in prayer. The robot can walk in a square pattern mouthing devotionals, nodding its head and occasionally beating its chest with its right arm and kissing a rosary and cross with its left. The 450-year-old device is still operational today, and is held at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

I reckon the next time we get to thinking we have come up with something new and wonderful, we need to go and study the history books a bit more, ya know? The past is a lot more colorful than we originally thought!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Seth Bullock For Western Wednesday...!

There were so many notable characters in the Old West, we could never cover them all. However, some stand out a little more than others.

While Mr. Bullock may not be a name you are familiar with, maybe you should get to know his history a bit more. He was a very interesting man indeed!

Seth Bullock

Photo via Wikimedia

Seth Bullock will be familiar to anyone who watched the TV show Deadwood. Bullock was the inspiration for the main character of the show, bringing order to a lawless town rife with violence, gambling, prostitution, and men who moved there to escape the government.

Before all this, Bullock got involved in politics. At 22, he became a Republican member of the Territorial State of Montana and proposed legislation (later passed) to create the first national park in the country—Yellowstone. In 1873, Bullock became sheriff of Lewis and Clark County and went into business with longtime partner Sol Star. The two of them traveled to Deadwood in 1876.

Unlike in the show, Bullock never became friends with Wild Bill Hickok, as Hickok was murdered the day after Bullock arrived in Deadwood. In fact, it was this event that made the people of Deadwood (mostly the miners) demand some form of law. And that law wasn’t Bullock but a man named Isaac Brown, who was appointed marshal. However, he was soon killed in an ambush. Eventually, Bullock became county sheriff and brought order to Deadwood.While serving as a Dakota lawman, Bullock befriended Theodore Roosevelt, then a marshal, who held him in very high esteem. Bullock became part of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and then served as a captain during the Spanish-American War. When Roosevelt became president, he named Bullock US marshal for South Dakota.

I told you he had a very colorful history. Made some well known friends as well. Guys like this are always a surprise to rfind out about.

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Stormy outside.