Monday, February 29, 2016

Not So Secret "Secret Base..."!

Sometimes you have to wonder just why so many secret bases were built in the United States, especially when they aren't kept secret.

I know there must be a reason for these bases, but I can't imagine just what it could be. I wonder if this is like hiding in plain sight?

Pennsylvania’s (Not So) Secret Underground Base
By Anthony Sfarra on Sunday, February 28, 2016

Raven Rock Mountain Complex is a military base in Pennsylvania that has been referred to as an “underground Pentagon.” Security is tight, but the base itself isn’t very well-hidden. Razor wire fences and guardhouses stand out clear as day. Personnel allowing visitors to use guardhouse phones and posting information about conferences at the base hasn’t helped, either.

Raven Rock Mountain Complex (RRMC), also known as Site R, has been referred to by government employees in the know as an “underground Pentagon.” The “secret” base is inside Pennsylvania’s Raven Rock Mountain, located near the Maryland border and not too far from Gettysburg. It’s also only 11 kilometers (7 mi) from Camp David.

Below the surface, RRMC is said to have five three-story buildings, caves filled with computers, and its own underground water reservoir. New subterranean construction has been indicated as recently as 2006.

RRMC was built in the early 1950s as a backup command center in the event of nuclear war. Dick Cheney was said to have relocated to Raven Rock after the 9/11 attacks. He was also alleged to have gone there for reasons unknown at other points during George W. Bush’s presidency.

Security remains tight to this day. Heavily armed soldiers guard the main entrance, and other areas feature guardhouses and razor wire. People inside the base are instructed to avoid discussing RRMC with outsiders.

Intended security and secrecy aside, RRMC isn’t particularly well-hidden. Although author James Bamford’s book, A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies, has been credited with exposing the existence of the complex in the early 2000s, local residents knew it was there years beforehand.

It’s not hard to see signs of the base’s existence. A mass of antennae and satellite dishes sits on top of Raven Rock Mountain. From nearby Route 16, a pair of gigantic metal doors on the side of the mountain can be seen through the trees. Local postal workers know of several entrances to RRMC, though they’re not responsible for delivering the base’s mail. The aforementioned razor wire fences and guardhouses aren’t particularly subtle, either.

Even if every entrance to RRMC was perfectly camouflaged and its communication equipment looked like trees, it wouldn’t make up for the negligence of its personnel.

In 2004, a reporter drove up the back road leading to the main entrance. He needed to make a phone call, but there was no cell phone service. (On top of that, his phone mysteriously shut itself off.) One of the guards kindly let him into a guardhouse to use the phone.

The reporter made his call, but by then, the guards had begun to look nervous, perhaps realizing they shouldn’t have let anyone in.

The reporter said he’d wait a bit in the car, and the guards told him that they’d let him know if he got a call back.

About 10 minutes later, one of them came out and told the reporter that he’d seen more than he was supposed to and that he shouldn’t describe any of it to anyone. He warned, “Everything here is classified.” Fines and possible jail time were mentioned.

If that mistake wasn’t enough, in 2006, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) posted information on its public website about a conference to be held at RRMC. Tours of the site would also be provided.

Writers for Wired, surprised at such an open announcement of a conference at a “secret” base, emailed the conference’s contact person and asked for information about the conference. The DTRA obliged, and Wired received a conference schedule and information for visitors to RRMC. A few days later, the announcement was no longer on the DTRA’s website, and it was clarified to Wired that press were not invited to the conference. As Wired put it, “Somewhere inside the halls of DTRA, we suspect someone was being reprimanded.”

The information they received detailed security inspections that guests would face, warned of the secret nature of conference information, and instructed all guests not to talk to reporters or to post information about RRMC on the Internet. (At least one DTRA employee forgot this bit.) The packet also included directions to RRMC from Gettysburg, where most conference guests would be staying, and provided a bus schedule to and from the historical town.

In fairness, even today, there doesn’t seem to be much information on what goes on inside Raven Rock Mountain Complex, but it clearly exists. Google even drove a Street View car up to at least one entrance in August 2012.

Like I said, I'm sure there is a good reason for this, but Lord only knows the reason.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, even if it rains!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Hoop Snake Myth...!

From the earliest days of settlement in America, there has always been a rich source of legends and myths. Most. of course, are not true.

The fact that they are false doesn't mean that their are completely made up. Remember that all myths have some kernel of truth hidden inside!

Hoop Snakes

Photo credit: williamdefalco via YouTube

“Hoop snakes” have supposedly been sighted since colonial times in North America. It is believed that this particular snake grabs its own tail with its mouth and rolls like a hoop after its prey at great speed. The hoop snake is also said to have a venomous stinger in its tail which it uses to finish off its victims.

It is thought that the myth of the hoop snake originated from the behavior of the real-life mud snake, which can be found along the coastal plain of America. The mud snake is passive and does not bite. But it often presses the tip of its tail against its captor’s skin, which has led to the false assumption that it stings.

Many qualities have been attributed to the hoop snake: It is inflated, it glows at night, and it squirts poison from its tail. Nevertheless, although people have claimed to have seen this peculiar creature, no real evidence of the hoop snake exists.

You have to wonder what person gave the snake it's name and started the whole thing. Some very active imagination for sure!

Coffee outside this morning...patio is calling me!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Remembering The Drive In Movies...!

I'd be willing to bet that most of us went to the drive in regularly, am I right?

I spent many pleasant evenings there in the company of a young girl. Only way to go to the movies back then! Got to watch a movie, get some popcorn, and maybe make out a bit with a pretty girl!

Miami drive-in debuts

American drive-in movie theaters experienced their golden era during the 1950s, but some Floridians were watching movies under the stars in their cars even before then: The city of Miami gets its first drive-in on this day in 1938. The Miami drive-in charged admission of 35 cents per person, which was more than the average ticket price at an indoor theater, and soon had to trim the price to 25 cents per person.

America’s first-ever drive-in opened near Camden, New Jersey, on June 6, 1933, and was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, whose family owned an auto parts company. The inaugural feature was a 1932 film called “Wives Beware,” and admission was 25 cents per car and an additional 25 cents per person. The sound for the movies was provided by three large RCA speakers next to the main screen. (The quality of the drive-in experience improved during the 1940s with the advent of the in-car speaker.)

Following World War II, the popularity of drive-in theaters increased as America’s car culture grew. By the early 1950s, there were more than 800 drive-ins across the United States. Although they earned a reputation as “passion pits” for young couples seeking privacy, most drive-in customers were families (parents didn’t have to hire babysitters or get dressed up and their children could wear pajamas and sleep in the car) and often featured playgrounds, concession stands and other attractions. Some drive-ins were super-sized, including Detroit’s Bel Air Drive-In, built in 1950, which had room for more than 2,000 cars, and Baltimore’s Bengies Drive-In, which opened in 1956, and claimed the biggest movie screen in the U.S.: 52 feet high by 100 feet wide. Over the years, attempts were made to develop a daytime screen that would enable drive-ins to show movies before it got dark, but nothing proved successful.

At their peak in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were some 4,000 drive-ins across America. However, during the 1970s and 1980s the drive-in industry went into decline and theaters shut down, due to such factors as rising real-estate values (which made selling the land for redevelopment more profitable than continuing to operate it as a drive-in) and the rise of other entertainment options, including video recorders, multiplex theaters and cable television. By 1990, there were around 1,000 U.S. drive-ins. Today, they number less than 400 (states with the most remaining drive-ins include Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York).

New Jersey has the distinction of being the home of not just the first drive-in but also the first fly-in theater. In June 1948, Ed Brown’s Drive-In and Fly-In opened in Wall Township and had space for 500 cars and 25 planes.

I had no idea that the drive in had been around that long, but I'm glad that it was there for me to enjoy. Many pleasant memories stemming from the good ol' drive in!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Putting Animals On Trial...!

No...I'm not talking about the two legged animals but the four legged kind.

Back in the old days, they would actually put some poor creature on trial. As you might guess, they lost more than they won. Wonder why?

When Animals Were Put On Trial In The Middle Ages
By Lance David LeClaire on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

An amazing, and seemingly superstitious, part of the legal systems throughout the medieval period in Europe involved the question of how animals should be treated by the law. Animals of all kinds, from pigs to birds to insects, were sometimes put on trial—just like people. A fascinating 1906 book, called The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, gives us a window into this little-known aspect of the medieval world, where animals were granted public defenders and legal papers were left where they would conveniently find them.

Medieval animal trials mostly took place in Western Europe and from the late medieval to early modern period. To understand this practice, it’s useful to know how legal proceedings involving animals were separated. Domesticated animals—considered members of their owner’s household—were handled by civil authorities, while vermin (who could not be seized and imprisoned) were dealt with by the church.

In the latter cases, animals “appeared” before ecclesiastical courts, who determined a course of action. For example, was a locust swarm was an act of God (not to be interfered with) or possession by demons or evil spirits? If an animal tried by the Church was involved in murder, it was turned over to secular courts if guilty, the way heretics were.

Since possession was part of the typical worldview among medieval men and women, it isn’t surprising that this was reflected in legal proceedings.

Animal prosecution had connections to scripture based upon Old Testament admonitions to stone oxen that had killed (Exodus 21:28), but there were also secular factors. Because they were a part of daily life, medieval law had to determine how animals fit into a legal framework, how disputes involving animals were resolved, how victims of someone’s animal were compensated, and so on. Many trials were attempts by institutions to assert order and keep control.

One 1386 trial involved a sow accused of murder. The pig had partially eaten a child who was sleeping, who died thereafter. Found guilty, it has been said that the sow was dressed in male clothing, given an armed escort, and was mutilated with a knife before being hung, although there is no evidence for the embellishments beyond the fact of the execution.

Another case involved Bartholomew Chassenee, an important legal figure in French law. He defended the rats of Auten, who were devastating crops. Chassenee hit upon a brilliant argument for the rat’s failure to show in court, and it formed the basis for legal standards in use today.

Chassenee argued that the “non-appearance of his clients [should be excused] . . . on the ground of the length and difficulty of the journey, and the serious perils that attended it, owing to the unwearied vigilance of their mortal enemies, the cats, who watched all their movements, and with fell intent, lay in wait for them at every corner and passage.”

Chassenee used variations of this defense to successfully defend human clients.

Bizarrely, rats and other vermin were sometimes served a “writ of ejection.” To ensure that the papers were perused by rodents, they were greased (to provide an attractive odor), rolled up, and placed within rat holes. This practice continued throughout Europe and parts of the United States until at least 1892.

Sometimes, simple revenge against animals was to blame. Egbert, Bishop of Trier, issued an anathema against swallows because they had a habit of “chirping and chattering, and [they] sacrilegiously defiled his head and vestments with their droppings when he was officiating at the altar.”

Superstition was a factor, as when roosters were accused of laying eggs. In 1474, a rooster was actually executed for this crime.

One of the longest animal trials documented was brought before Francois Bonnivard against a species of green weevil, which was devastating vineyards throughout a region of France. The defense maintained that, as God created all things, and supplied food not just for humans, but also for animals, the court must consider the insect’s affairs.

The Church decided to exorcise the insects and insisted that villagers help maintain harmony (and pay their tithes). According to accounts, the insects departed.

Here the Church used the animal world and the law to exert control and influence over earthly affairs, including filling the holy coffers.

But 30 years later, the insects returned. This time, the case went to trial. The defense remained, but the plaintiff insisted that the land and lower creatures were subordinate to man and that it was therefore permissible to order them off land set aside for his use. After a drawn-out case, a plot was picked for the weevils’ use—if the advocate approved.

Unfortunately, the advocate wasn’t satisfied. How did it end? We don’t know. The last pages of the documentation were eaten by insects!

I'd say that we had better be careful trying insects. They might just eat all the evidence!

Coffee out on the chilly patio this morning, OK?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Samuel Colt For Western Wednesday...!

First let me explain what happened yesterday. I got lazy!

No nice way to put it ...I was too lazy to post I'll try to do better. Today I want to talk about Samuel Colt. Quite the inventor!

In 1836, Connecticut-born gun manufacturer Samuel Colt (1814-62) received a U.S. patent for a revolver mechanism that enabled a gun to be fired multiple times without reloading. Colt founded a company to manufacture his revolving-cylinder pistol; however, sales were slow and the business floundered. Then in 1846, with the Mexican War (1846-48) under way, the U.S. government ordered 1,000 Colt revolvers. In 1855, Colt opened what was the world’s largest private armament factory, in which he employed advanced manufacturing techniques such as interchangeable parts and an organized production line. By 1856, the company could produce 150 weapons per day. Colt was also an effective promoter, and by the start of the U.S. Civil War (1this861-65) he had made the Colt revolver perhaps the world’s best-known firearm. He died a wealthy man in 1862; the company he founded remains in business today.

Coffee inside today. Very high winds on the patio

Monday, February 22, 2016

No Post Today...

Due to some unavoidable circumstances there will be no post today.


Headless Body For Monday Mystery...!

One thing worse than finding a dead body is to find one missing a head as well! Especially if he was related, ya know?

I found this murder mystery over at Listverse. Credit where credit is due, ya know?

Robert Hollis

On the afternoon of June 4, 2015, 75-year-old Robert Hollis’s son was checking in on him after neighbors grew concerned because they hadn’t seen the elderly man, affectionately nicknamed “Mr. Bojangles,” in a few days.

When the son entered his partially blind father’s Inglewood, California, apartment, he made a gruesome discovery: His father was dead and decapitated. Even more disturbing, the killer took Hollis’s head when he or she left the apartment. It has never been found.

Hollis’s family is unsure who would have killed the elderly man because he didn’t have any enemies. He was even friends with his ex-wife. His family also said that valuables in the house were untouched.Police are still looking into the death. The mayor of Inglewood also arranged a $50,000 reward for information regarding the murder. Despite this, no arrests have been made.

Pretty gruesome way to go, abd the question we always ask is...WHY?

Coffee inside as it is starting to rain. Bummer!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sundays Mean 'Toons, OK...?

Most of you know that we use Sundays to watch the 'toons, OK?

It may not be the same as reading the funnies at home, but we do the best we can with what we got.

Hey...they may be silly but they get us through the day!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Bomb Still Goes Bang...!

Lying about something and giving it another name is, to me, the same thing.

Of course, politicians being what they are...they figured out a way to get the money they wanted anyway. I wonder who was the dumbest? The guys wanting the money, or the guys handing it out!

The Pentagon’s Neutron Bomb

The Pentagon realized long ago that selling people on thermonuclear weapons requires some changes in lingo. In the late 1970s, the Pentagon was trying to get Senate funding to develop the neutron bomb. Instead of actually calling it a neutron bomb, it was termed an “enhanced radiation device.” It turns out that the trick worked, and the Pentagon got the funding it asked for. The term “enhanced radiation device” continues to be used today.

Technically, the Pentagon wasn’t really lying. The neutron bomb does release far more radiation than a standard nuke. The main benefit (in the military’s eyes) was that the blast was smaller and very little of the radiation was residual. This meant that a lot of people would die instantly and that cities wouldn’t be turned into rubble. The US military felt this would be a great way to kill Soviet troops while leaving most of the surrounding buildings intact. Unfortunately, the term that was chosen for the weapon sounds more like a cancer treatment than a nuclear bomb.

In my way of thinking, the damn things are still evil! I mean, talk about a tool of the Devil, then this is it! Just my opinion, however.

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Crushed Brain For Freaky Friday...!

The human body is an amazing piece of equipment that can overcome many difficulties. Things like having a crushed brain!

The man in this next story did pretty good considering that the majority of his brain wasn't there. Wow!

The Middle-Aged Man Who Went His Whole Life With A Crushed Brain
By Heather Ramsey on Tuesday, February 16, 2016

After experiencing some weakness in his left leg, a 44-year-old government worker in France underwent a CT scan and MRI that showed he had almost no brain. It had been crushed against his skull, most likely from a childhood surgery to treat hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Although the man’s IQ was slightly lower than normal, he married, had two kids, and led a normal life. Doctors were able to treat his leg weakness successfully with a brain shunt.

In a case that is nothing short of amazing, doctors found that a 44-year-old man in France complaining of some weakness in his left leg was actually missing most of his brain. Although the man’s IQ was slightly lower than normal, he was married, had two kids, and had led a normal life up to this point.

He wasn’t mentally or physically challenged in any way other than the leg weakness he had recently developed.

When doctors checked his history, they learned that the unidentified man had suffered from hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, when he was six months old. Advanced scanning didn’t exist at that time, so his physicians inserted a shunt to drain the extra fluid.

Doctors removed the shunt when he was 14 because he was complaining of weakness in his left leg and general unsteadiness. With the shunt gone, his problems disappeared.

Given the man’s history and the recurrence of leg weakness at 44 years of age, his doctors ordered a computed tomography (CT) scan and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of his head. They discovered that his brain had been crushed into a thin sheet against his skull, most likely from the surgery he had as a child to treat hydrocephalus.

The scans showed that his skull was mostly occupied by two massive cerebral cavities, also called ventricles, that were filled with fluid. Usually, ventricles are small, holding just enough cerebrospinal fluid to cushion the brain.

“It is hard for me [to say] exactly the percentage of reduction of the brain, since we did not use software to measure its volume. But visually, it is more than a 50 percent to 75 percent reduction,” neurologist Lionel Feuillet told New Scientist. “The whole brain was reduced—frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes—on both left and right sides. These regions control motion, sensibility, language, vision, audition, and emotional and cognitive functions.”

Despite this, the man was extremely lucky. His condition is known as Dandy Walker complex. Although rare and more likely to occur in females, patients suffering from Dandy Walker often experience problems with their facial nerves as well as overall jerky muscle movements. They may also have enlarged skulls.

The man’s IQ was 75, below the average of 100, but not low enough to be considered a mental disability. His verbal IQ was 84 and his performance IQ was 70.

However, he was a well-functioning civil servant. So his brain had obviously adapted to his condition, even though doctors say it normally wouldn’t have been compatible with life. Doctors were able to treat his most recent episode of leg weakness successfully by reinstalling a brain shunt

More power to the guy! I don't do half that good with all my brain! People are simply amazing!

Coffee out on the patio again today, OK?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The "White" Chinese Mummies...!

I have to figure that mankind has traveled much further than ever expected, according to this story.

I can't help but wonder where these mummies originally came from, and why they were there in China. I just don't have a clue!

 The Tarim Mummies

An amazing discovery of 2,000 year old mummies in the Tarim basin of Western China occurred in the early 90s. But more amazing than the discovery itself was the astonishing fact that the mummies were blond haired and long nosed. In 1993, Victor Mayer a college professor collected DNA from the mummies and his tests verified that the bodies were all of European genetic stock. Ancient Chinese texts from as early as the first millennium BC do mention groups of far-east dwelling caucasian people referred to as the Bai, Yeuzhi, and Tocharians. None, though, fully reveal how or why these people ended up there.

Whoever these guys were, they could have used a good map. I have a feeling they were a long way from home!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lincoln Logs For Western Wednesday...!

Well, other than the name the toy known as Lincoln Logs has nothing to do with western history.

Still, I felt that because of their history, I needed to tell their story! It's an interesting one at that!

The Birth of Lincoln Logs
FEBRUARY 12, 2016 By Christopher Klein

From the Guggenheim Museum to Fallingwater, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed some of America’s most iconic structures. Less known, however, is that another one of his designs inspired the creation of one of history’s most popular children’s toys—Lincoln Logs.

Growing up in Oak Park, Illinois, John Lloyd Wright spent hour after hour in the “wonderland playroom” designed by his father. Underneath a soaring barrel-vaulted ceiling, the second child of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright constructed his own wonders using just his imagination and a collection of assorted building blocks developed by Friedrich Froebel, the German educator who championed the concept of kindergarten.

By the time he turned 24, John was working side-by-side with his father as chief assistant on the design of Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel. Faced with the challenge of building a structure that could withstand the powerful earthquakes that regularly shook Japan, Frank Lloyd Wright sketched an ingenious design that relied on a system of interlocking timber beams that would allow the hotel to sway but not collapse in case of a tremor. (The Imperial Hotel would indeed be one of the few buildings that remained standing after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake that devastated Tokyo.)

Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright. (Credit: United States Library of Congress) Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright. (Credit: United States Library of Congress) The relationship between father and son, however, crumbled over money long before the earthquake-proof hotel was ever constructed. Out-of-work, John Lloyd Wright turned his attention to a pint-sized design project. In 1916, using the blueprint for the Imperial Hotel as a model, he created a toy construction set that consisted of notched pieces of wood that children could stack to build log cabins, forts and other rustic buildings. Unlike Froebel’s building blocks, the interlocking system of miniature logs could withstand the shockwaves unleashed by children’s playing roughly with the toys.

In 1918, John Lloyd Wright began to market his creation through his own firm, the Red Square Toy Company, and two years later he received a patent for his “toy-cabin construction.” He bestowed upon his creation an alliterative name that also evoked an American icon—Lincoln Logs. The toy came with instructions to build not only Abraham Lincoln’s Kentucky boyhood home, but a famous log structure from the pages of American literature, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The toy’s packaging featured a simple drawing of a log cabin, a small portrait of Lincoln and the slogan “Interesting playthings typifying the spirit of America.” Capitalizing on both a nostalgia for the frontier at a time when the United States was becoming increasingly urbanized and a wave of patriotism in the wake of World War I, Lincoln Logs became an instant success.

Lincoln Logs followed the trail blazed by Tinkertoys and Erector Sets, which had been introduced a few years earlier. Some scholars also believe John Lloyd Wright as a child possibly played with the Log Cabin Playhouse, a similar wooden construction set that had been developed by toy company Ellis, Britton & Eaton in the 1860s.

While restrictions on metals and other materials constrained the production of other toys during World War II, wooden Lincoln Logs continued to roll off factory lines. (The notched building logs, originally carved from redwood, are now manufactured from stained pine.) Lincoln Logs peaked in popularity during the 1950s when it was among the first toys mass-marketed on television. The toy’s rustic brand tied in perfectly with popular children’s shows such as “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier” that were watched by tens of thousands of young “baby boomers” on their black-and-white televisions.

A century after their creation, low-tech Lincoln Logs continue to be popular in a high-tech world. Over 100 million sets have been sold worldwide, and Lincoln Logs were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1999.

John Lloyd Wright attempted to build on the success of Lincoln Logs in the 1930s with Wright Blocks, a toy construction set with interlocking wooden shapes that allowed budding architects to build castles or other complex designs. Wright Blocks, however, proved too intricate and lacked the same appeal as Lincoln Logs.

John Lloyd Wright sold his company to Playskool in 1943 for only $800. The copyright for Lincoln Logs eventually passed to toy companies Milton Bradley and Hasbro. Since 1991, the rights to produce Lincoln Logs have been licensed by K’NEX, which announced in 2014 that the stackable wooden construction sets would again be manufactured in the United States after years of being produced in China.

In spite of withstanding earthquakes and intense bombing during World War II, the Imperial Hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright finally fell to the wrecking ball in 1968. The toy it inspired, however, continues to thrive 100 years after its creation.

Well, I hope that you enjoyed this bit of toy history,,,even though it isn't really western.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Getting close to 80 outside!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Fake Map Maker...1

Counterfeiting is like that! Sometimes a fella is so good at his job, it leaves him broke and in trouble. Counterfeiting is like that!

Case in point? Abel Buell, mapmaker!

The First American-Made Map Was Made By A Counterfeiter
By Debra Kelly on Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Abel Buell made the first map illustrated, published, and copyrighted by an American. It was 1784, and the forger and counterfeiter (turned mapmaker) was in between adventures, the sort of adventures that usually ended up with him on the wrong side of the law. His first brush with the law ended with his forehead branded and his ear cropped, but he would still go on to build a machine for minting coins (this one was legal), a cotton mill, and a foundry, alongside his work as a mapmaker. He died penniless, but a copy of his map would sell for $1.8 million decades later.

Only seven copies exist, and they’re all held by institutions, including the best copy in the Library of Congress. The New and Correct Map of the United States was the first official map of the young country, published in 1784. It was also the first map to be copyrighted, and the first one to be done by an American.

The mapmaker’s name was Abel Buell, and he had been branded—quite literally—for his repeated forays into a life of crime. Some sources call him a genius and recognize him for his unprecedented artistic talent.

Others call him unstable. It’s likely he was a little bit of both.

Born in Killingworth, Connecticut, in 1742, he had a promising start. His talent was recognized when he was young, and he apprenticed with a master goldsmith. It wasn’t long before he proved he could work with silver, gold, and all sorts of jewelry.

But, like many geniuses, that apparently wasn’t enough.

He was so successful that he was able to buy his own home and marry his longtime sweetheart, but it wasn’t long after they settled down that neighbors started to notice that the lights were on at all hours of the night.

That was, of course, suspicious. Unfortunately for Buell, he had the sort of neighbors who thought nothing of doing a little nighttime reconnaissance and peeking through the windows. They found him putting his artistic talents to good (but illegal) use, turning small bills into bigger bills. Buell was found guilty of counterfeiting, but it seems the judge went pretty easy on him.

Instead of facing death, he was sentenced to a short jail sentence (later downgraded to house arrest) and to have his ear cropped. According to one story, such a small part of his ear was removed that he held it in his mouth until he could reattach it. He also had his forehead branded with a letter (accounts vary, either a “C” for “counterfeiting” or an “F” for “forging”), but it’s generally agreed that the letter was small and in a place he could easily hide with his hair.

While under house arrest, he invented the lapidary, a machine for stone-cutting. Using it to make a very nice gold ring for the prosecutor on his case, he soon found himself released and hired by a mapmaker.

That mapmaker sent him to Florida to do some surv surveying, but he ran into a governor who was rather suspicious of his intentions in the state. Buell was supposedly tricked into admitting and demonstrating that he could break the wax seal on a message and then reseal it 

Buell fled back to the north, where he did most of his work. During the Revolution and in the decades after, he built a foundry (and produced the first American font and type), built one of Connecticut’s first cotton mills, and built a machine for minting coins.

In 1784, he illustrated America’s first map.

It was definitely done with an eye to the artistic, decorated with images of Liberty and Minerva, filled with flourishes and questionable spelling. Some cities were left out altogether, and almost nothing was given a “New” in front of its name. He dedicated it to the governor of the state and, like his other projects, it completely failed to bring him any money whatsoever.

In spite of all his talents and all his inventions, Buell would die penniless in 1822. That sort of makes it an even bigger kick in the teeth that in 2011, one of the remaining copies of his map—the one now at the Library of Congress—sold for a nifty $1.8 million.

Like I said...being too good at your job can sometimes land you in trouble.

Coffee out on the nice warm patio this morning!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Murder Mystery With A Twist...!

Seems to me that way too many murder mysteries either go unsolved, or the solution doesn't sound just right. Know what I mean?

Once in a while you get a twisted up murder case like this one. Something about this case just doesn't sound right to me.

The Murder Of Billy Trimbach

On Valentine’s Day in 1992, Billy and Cindy Trimbach were married in Stoneham, Colorado. On the date of their first anniversary, Billy was shot to death and found by the side of a frontage road outside of Wiggins, approximately 80 kilometers (50 mi) away from Stoneham. In an odd twist, the sheriff who investigated the case just happened to drive past the same road shortly before Billy was found. He remembered seeing multiple vehicles at that exact spot and may have unknowingly driven past the killer while they were disposing of Billy’s body.

The investigation eventually turned toward Cindy Trimbach, who’d collected a $500,000 life insurance policy on her husband’s death. Physical evidence was also found inside Cindy’s car to suggest that Billy’s body may have been in there at some point.

The cloud of suspicion compelled Cindy to move to Butte, Montana, with James, her 10-year-old son from a previous marriage, and there would soon be a shocking postscript to this story. In April 1994, a Butte newspaper ran an article about Billy Trimbach’s murder, which mentioned that Cindy was a suspect. James was teased about this on the school playground by an 11-year-old classmate named Jeremy Bullock. James responded by pulling out a gun and shooting Jeremy to death.

James was sent to a juvenile home for the crime, and Cindy died of natural causes in 1996. Over the years, rumors have spread that Cindy hired someone to carry out Billy’s murder, and at least one drug dealer has reportedly bragged about being involved. However, the full truth about Billy Trimbach’s death has never been uncovered.

See what I mean? Lots of plots with-in plots going on here.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Woody Woodpecker Is Back...!

The last time I went hunting for some of Woody's 'toons, I got hooked. So here we are again...more Woody Woodpecker 'toons!

And one more...~

Well, that's enough for today. I'm wore out! Choosing 'toons is hard work, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ugly Comes In All Sizes...!

I don't care if you are animal, human, or vegetable...ugly is still ugly!

What makes this thing so ugly is the name and the teeth and the face! You might say he is triple ugly!

Pig-Nosed Vampire Rat

Photo credit: Kevin C. Rowe And Museum Victoria

This unflattering name unexpectedly belongs to a small, relatively defenseless rodent with a face that you can’t forget. Hyorhinomys stuempkei is a rat with a large, hoglike nose that lives in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
But its most eye-catching feature is its impressively long incisors, which are big enough to compete with Dracula. The bottom teeth of this shrew rat can grow up to 19 millimeters (0.75 in). Researchers admit that they’ve never seen anything like it.

In fact, the strange anatomy of these pig-nosed rats sets them so far apart from other species that scientists have categorized them in a new genus. Their big ears are one-fifth as long as their bodies

They have also lost the coronoid process in their jaws. This leads them to have a weak bite, which is a relief if you catch sight of their grisly fangs! Fortunately for the rodent, they don’t need to chew much when they dine on their normal meals of worms and beetle larvae.

Now I don't know about you but this critter goes right on the list of things I want to avoid! Know what I mean?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Mystery For Freaky Friday...!

Now this is a strange case of a murder mystery and a bizarre tale all rolled into one.Not too bad for a Friday, right?

Isidor Fink

On March 9, 1929, Polish immigrant Isidor Fink finished delivering some laundry and returned to his small New York apartment. Only 15 minutes after Fink entered the apartment, terrible screams (but no gunshots) were heard coming from inside. The neighbors summoned a police officer, who arrived to find both doors locked from the inside and the windows nailed shut, also from the inside. The windows were also too narrow for an adult to climb through, forcing the police to gain entry by means of a small child, who unlocked the door after the cops lifted him through the transom.

Fink was discovered lifeless on the floor with three gunshot wounds to his chest and wrist. A search of the apartment failed to turn up a weapon. The only fingerprints belonged to the victim. Fink’s money had not been stolen and it would have been impossible for an intruder to lock the doors from the inside after leaving the apartment. But suicide also seemed impossible, since there was no obvious way for Fink to dispose of the weapon. It’s also unclear why a suicidal Fink would have shot himself in the wrist and chest. Increasingly puzzled, the cops went over the apartment in search of a hidden door or secret entrance. They found none.

As a classic case of a seemingly impossible crime, Fink’s murder has attracted considerable attention over the years. Crime buffs have suggested that a killer might have been able to bolt the door from the inside using a piece of string, but it’s not clear why anyone would develop such an elaborate plot to kill an ordinary laundry owner. Additionally, the neighbors called a police officer immediately after hearing screams, leaving a very narrow time frame for a killer to escape.

After all these years, the crime remains unsolved.

Maybe one of you mystery buffs out there could come up with a solution. Couldn't hurt to try, right?

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Different Use For "Pez"...!

Who would have ever thought that something like the candy called Pez would have been designed with smokers in mind?

Strange beginnings for a candy, but many had some strange starts. Seems like anything goes when naming a candy, even in the old days.

PEZ Dispensers Were Created To Attract Smokers

The famous PEZ candies were created in Vienna, Austria, in 1927. Originally, they didn’t have the sweet, fruity flavors that we know today. They used to be peppermint flavored. In fact, their name comes from pfefferminz, the German word for “peppermint.”

Packaged in tins, the candies were popular for a time. They were supposed to be used as an alternative to smoking because their creator, Eduard Haas III, disliked smoking.

In 1949, new PEZ dispensers designed by Oscar Uxa were introduced as a way to hygienically share the candies without touching all of them. The dispensers were also designed to draw in smokers. Flicking open the top of a PEZ dispenser was meant to be like flicking a lighter. For a time, Haas even used the slogan “No Smoking, PEZing Allowed.”

In the transition to American markets, PEZ changed to their iconic fruity flavors, and the dispensers acquired their character tops. Whether PEZ have actually discouraged smoking is debatable. But PEZ still exist today as beloved combinations of candies and toys.

Thanks to the folks at Listverse for sharing this bit of candy history with us. Great place to get some useful information.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. High should be in the 70s, OK?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Vigilante Justice Committee...!...

In the olden days when things got so out of hand that the law couldn't or wouldn't help, vigilantes became the order of the day.

It was a wild and crazy time, as you can imagine!

When San Francisco Was Ruled By A Vigilante Justice Committee
By Debra Kelly on Thursday, February 4, 2016

In the 1850s, long before designs for the Golden Gate Bridge were even put down on paper, San Francisco was awash with crime. From murderers and thieves to corrupt politicians, it wasn’t a pleasant place. Spurred on by first a robbery and then the assassination of a newspaper editor, thousands of citizens, merchants, and businessmen banded together to form the Committee of Vigilance. Two committees—one in 1851 and the second in 1856—would take it upon themselves to clean up the city and prosecute and hang criminals. State militias were called in, but the committee ultimately disbanded voluntarily.

The 1850s were a busy time in California. People from all over were descending on the West Coast in hopes of striking gold and becoming rich overnight. Unsurprisingly, it could be a pretty lawless place at times.

The residents of one city were so fed up with the crime rate that they decided to take matters (and hangings) into their own hands.

The first Committee of Vigilance was formed in 1851, but it was fairly short-lived. A local paper claimed that the group had formed for the sole purpose of protecting its citizens against scum and villainy, and it was surprisingly well-organized.

Even though it was small, the committee had a group that was responsible for policing the streets and putting an end to criminal activity when they saw it. Their own justice system was responsible for handing out the punishments, which were then dispensed with enviable speed.

Part of the problem was the influence of the city’s politicians. Most were rather crooked and were more interested in using the official system to line their own pockets than fight the rash of unsolved murders that gripped the city from 1849 to 1851.

The committee formed in the face of a brazen theft on June 9, 1851. A man named John Jenkins walked into a store, picked up the safe, and walked away with it. Then he boarded a boat and headed out into the San Francisco Bay.

This proved to be something of a breaking point, and other merchants gave chase. Even though he threw the safe overboard, Jenkins completely failed to make the brilliant getaway that he so needed.

He was dragged back to the city, put before a hastily assembled jury, and hanged by 2:00 AM that same night.

The committee was re-convened in 1856 when matters were no better. This time, the trigger was a deadly disagreement between newspaper editor James King and the notoriously corrupt politician James Casey. After King called Casey’s well-known corruption out in the paper (along with spilling the beans about his previous stint at Sing Sing), Casey had had enough and shot the editor.

The reaction was immediate. Around 10,000 men took up arms and put the committee back together. They would make up San Francisco’s justice system for the next five months.

Casey was seized by the committee, as was a man named Charles Cora, who’d been jailed after shooting and killing a US Marshal a few months before. (The committee brought along a cannon to discourage actual law enforcement from arguing against their authority.)

An overnight trial was begun, and it happened at the same time that King succumbed to his wounds and died. The charges against both men were upgraded to murder, and they were declared guilty the next morning.

They were hanged that afternoon.

The message was clear, and it was directed at one man: David Broderick. Everyone knew he was a crooked root of the corruption and crime in the area. After making an example of some of his cronies, the committee discovered a false-bottom ballot box in the possession of one of Broderick’s Democratic committee members.

The committee deported around 25 of his party members, ushering them on ships and sending them on their way. About 800 others—from ballot-box stuffers to thieves, gamblers, and con men—were also sent packing.

However, the committee was opposed by a working-class gang called the Chivs, and conflict got so bad that the state militia was called in to stop the chaos.

They failed.

Other plans were put into place, but with countless official government employees involved in the whole mess, no one knew quite what to do. On August 18, 1856, the Committee of Vigilance saved everyone the problem when they voluntarily disbanded, content that the worst messes in the city had been cleaned up.

Of course, a month later, things were back to normal.

I'm thinking that we could probably use a touch of this justice from time to time. Not much...just a touch. Know what I mean?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Little Norse Myth For Ya,,,!

Many of the Norse Gods were pretty strange, but Odin took the cake,

His thirst for knowledge was legendary and he would go to any lengths to get it. Here's what I mean...

Odin was nothing if not wise. His wisdom came from his obsessive desire to understand absolutely everything. He frequently made sacrifices—often of a self-mutilating nature—to gain knowledge because he believed that knowledge was worth any price. Never mind the fact that he once hanged himself, stabbed himself, and forced himself to fast for over a week to discover and understand the Norse runes.

Perhaps an even better example of Odin’s extreme thirst for knowledge—and the reason for his one-eyed appearance—was his journey to Mimir’s well. Those who successfully partook of the water came away with almost divine knowledge.

So Odin once rode to Mimir and requested a drink. Mimir agreed to spare a mouthful but made Odin’s eye the price of the drink. Not only did Odin agree to this price, but he gouged the eye out himself.

Now don't get me wrongt. I enjoy knowledge as much as the next guy, but I am only going to go so far to get it.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It's almost like Spring!

Monday, February 8, 2016

True Color Of Cheese...!

Che3ese as a food is kinda complicated.

Not only is it the wrong color, but it's true taste doesn't always come through. Surprise! How it achieves this can be explained in a fairly simple way.

Why Do We Like Our Cheese Such A Bright Orange?
By Debra Kelly on Sunday, January 31, 2016

In its natural form, most cheese is sort of a white color. It’s nothing like the bright orange we see today, and that’s not a new thing. High-quality grazing lands, cows, and milk once made high-quality cheese that was yellow-orange, but when cheesemakers started taking the beta-carotene-rich cream to make butter with, they lost the color that had been a mark of high quality. They started adding all sorts of dyes to make up for it. That was in the 17th century, and we’ve been including the food dyes and additives ever since.

Take a look at the majority of mass-produced cheese in many grocery stores today, and you’ll likely be struck by one thought: nothing natural could ever be that color. We’re fussy about our foods, and whether it’s a slab of weird rubber cheese or a slathering of nacho cheese, it’s pretty unnatural-looking if you bother to pay attention.

That’s nothing new. We’ve been doing weird things to the color of our cheese for centuries.

It all started with high-class cheese. When the best cheese was made in pre-17th-century England, it came from Guernsey and Jersey cows that were native to a particular area in England. For around 500 years, all the best cheese came out of the village of Cheddar in Somerset. (Yes, really.) And that kind of fame means that their product sets the standard.

The grasses that Somerset cows grazed on was known for its high beta-carotene content, which was passed on to the cows’ milk. That gives the final product a sort of mildly yellowish-orange color. That’s how you knew your cheese was the good stuff.

By the time the 1800s hit, cheesemakers were learning how to stretch their raw materials a little farther. If they took off the cream, they could use it to make butter.

That also took away the color that people had become so used to. The cream is where the color is.

Cheese became white, and people don’t like those kinds of sudden changes in their favorite foods. So in the 17th century, cheesemakers started something that’s continued today.

They started adding things like marigold, carrot juice, and saffron to their cheese in order to keep it the same color. Finally, they settled on a food dye called annatto, which was taken from the seeds of the achiote plant.

It has a long history, and it’s a South American native that was even used by the Mayans to change the color of their food.

It’s claimed to have some health benefits, too, like lowering blood pressure, but it’s also been claimed that it can cause some major digestive issues and aggravate irritable bowel syndrome.

Annatto showed up most noticeably in Leicestershire cheese, and it’s still one of the most distinctively colored cheeses, bright red because of the annatto.

People took their cheese seriously in England, and as early as the 1750s there were standards that cheesemakers were held to. These standards weren’t just locked away in some government office to be read only by the upper class or the literate, either.

They were spread by word of mouth and by official town criers who made sure everyone knew about the standards required and the punishments that would be handed out to anyone who sold low-quality cheese.

Guess you could say that there is more to cheese than we originally thought. Nothing is ever simple, is it?

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

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Thanks For All The Kindness...!

To everyone that took the time to send good thoughts and prayers...a big thank you! You don't know how much it means

Tuesday I should be back on track with a normal post. The funeral was Saturday and I figure it's time to move on, ya know? I miss the posting and talking to you guys.

So there ya go. A posting plan in place and the time to finish it. Again, thanks for all the support and good thoughts. It is more appreciated than you could ever know! I mean it!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mom Is Gone....!

Yesterday at around 4:30 Mom passed away.

She didn't struggle, didn't fight for a last breath, just peacefully passed on. She was sleeping one minute and gone the next. I'm glad she went gently and glad she didn't have a hard time

Next step...moving on. We'll take some time over the next couple of days and see what happens

One journey ends...and another begins!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Missing Post For Tuesday...!

As most of you know, I didn't post anything for yesterday. Wasn't much I could say really.

Mom is back in the hospital. She went by EMS early Sunday morning. Even though she was on a breathing machine, her pneumonia kept her from getting enough oxygen. She has a panic attack when she runs short of breath, and nothing can stop that. Between the pneumonia. the shortness of breath, and lack of mobility we had no choice but to put her back in.

So, she isn't really 100% mentally. Some heavy medication and lack of sleep has made her imagination go wild from time to time. She hasn't eaten much in two or three days and that's bad. What our next step is...I don't know.

Let's hope for the best and pray for a good result.

Coffee out on the patio today.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Underwater Pompeii For Monday Mystery...!

Many workshops, docks and the like are being discovered to be something else entirely.

Imagine something like an ancient pottery works being found underwater near Greece. Quite a find.

Aegean Sea Ruins

Toward the end of 2014, remnants of an ancient civilization, previously thought to be simply the remains of docks, were found just off the Greek island of Delos. The Greek media pounced on the news of the discovery, aptly named the “underwater Pompeii.” The discovery, which included the remains of a pottery workshop, terracotta pots, and a kiln, was made on the coast of Delos. This puzzled experts, as previous similar discoveries were all made near ports.

During their excavation of the site, archaeologists also found multiple large rocks set out in front of the pottery workshop and the ruins of other buildings. Many of the structures found remain unidentified, adding to the bigger mystery of how and why the ancient city ended up under the sea to begin with.

The workshop resembles similar ones found previously in Herculaneum and Pompeii. Archaeologists are continuing their research in relation to this latest discovery, as they are expecting it to bring to light more details of the history of Delos Island, which was abandoned in the sixth century AD and today is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I can bet the press people went nuts over the find. Seems like the old stuff is sometimes more important than present day issues, like the economy!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.