Saturday, April 30, 2016

The First Woman President...!

Even if Hillary manages to win the election, she will not be the first acting female president. Another woman was the first!

It's true that Mrs Woodrow Wilson was never sworn in, but she took over many of the tasks of running the White House when her husband became ill. Here is her story, straight from the folks at Listverse.

The First Female President Of The United States

Photo credit: Library of Congress

Unless you’re reading this years after it goes live, you’re probably aware that there’s a buzz surrounding a former first lady becoming the first female president of the US. Whether or not Hillary Clinton takes the crown in November is something we’ll have to wait to find out. But even if she carries the election, Hillary might do well to remember that she’s not the first woman to take control of the White House. In 1919, another first lady beat her to it.

In October that year, Woodrow Wilson suffered a titanic stroke that left him bedridden, incoherent, and in need of constant monitoring. Vice President Thomas Marshall moved to have Congress declare Wilson incapacitated, making him de facto president. Unfortunately for Marshall, Wilson had other ideas. In this instance, we don’t mean Woodrow. Edith Wilson shut her husband up in a bedroom to recover and proceeded to take over as acting president.

For the next four months, Edith oversaw meetings, saw governors, senators, congressmen, and the press and conducted the White House’s internal affairs. While never sworn in, she did everything a president has to do, including making life-or-death decisions that affected millions worldwide. It has even been suggested that she didn’t consult her husband on many of these decisions, meaning that Edith was for all intents and purposes running the country.

Of course, calling Edith the “first” female president depends on how you define “president.” Edith never took an oath of office, potentially disqualifying her. (She wasn’t elected, either, but neither were guys like Gerald Ford or Andrew Johnson.) On the other hand, she did everything we expect a president to do, all while helping her husband get back to good health. It’s a remarkable story and one that deserves to be more widely known.

As most of you know, I don't get into politics or religion very much on this blog. In this case though, I thought it important to remind us all of the accomplishments of Mrs. Wilson. In my opinion, she did an outstanding job!

Coffee in the kitchen once more. Another couple of inches of rain is expected this weekend!

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Charnel House On Freaky Friday...!

Nothing brings on the realization of how real death is, until we see bones piled up. A LOT of bones!

You might not think that piles of bones would be a great tourist attraction, but would probably be surprised at just how popular they are. I was surprised myself!

Eggenburg Charnel
Eggenburg, Austria

Photo credit: zyance

The small town of Eggenburg, Lower Austria, houses one of the most unique charnel houses in Central Europe because of the completeness of its contents. Even so, this is one of the least known charnels. Many tourists pass through Eggenburg without experiencing it.

However, if you are planning a visit, you should temper your expectations. The view is truly humbling, but you can only enjoy it from a platform above the pit that contains the bones. Although visitors are not allowed to enter, it is still worth the trip even if you only see the structure through plexiglass.

Of the skeletal remains of the 5,800 individuals deposited there, 2,200 can be traced back to medieval times. Studies conducted on the skulls of this latter group have revealed that 410 showed a wide variety of injuries and 430 displayed various pathologies.As a result, this charnel house is more than a simple tourist attraction.

If this wasn't freaky enough for ya, follow the link to Listverse, where they have many others on display. Not the actual bones, but the pictures!

Coffee inside this morning. Rain is coming...again!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

More Backstories For Well Used Phrases...!

Yesterday I posted about the term "cakewalk" and how it came to be. Let's do that again!

Today's phrase is actually derived from a nick-name given to an actual person. Here from the folks at Listverse is the whole story.

‘Smart Aleck’

A “smart aleck” (or “smart alec”) is a person who, to the irritation of everyone around, acts like they know everything. The phrase was inspired by a 19th-century man named Alec Hoag. Hoag and his wife, Melinda, were robbers in New York City. They developed a con that involved Melinda posing as a prostitute and luring innocent customers into a dark alley. While making out with the unsuspecting victims, she’d slyly steal valuables from their pockets and hand them to Hoag, who was hiding nearby. The duo, knowing that some of their victims would report to the authorities, struck a deal with several police officers to split the valuables with them.

Hoag stopped giving the police officers their share after he ran into some financial troubles. To avoid suspicion, he came up with the “panel game.” In this new scheme, Melinda would instead lead the victims to their apartment, where she would have them take off their clothes and give a subtle signal. Alec would emerge and secretly take the valuables from the clothes before leaving through an exit. Then, to the horror of the victim, Hoag would knock on the door. Melinda would tell the victim that it was her husband, who’d returned from a trip earlier than expected. The victim would quickly pick up their clothes and escape through the window.

The police soon discovered the couple’s new scheme and subsequently arrested and jailed them. The nickname “Smart Alec” was given to him by police officers mocking him for trying to outsmart them, and it soon became widely used in the decades that followed.

I've known more than one person that the nick-name could apply to. In each case, the name was well earned!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Supposed to be drying out today!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Strange Backstories For Common Phrases...!

I've said before that the English language is very hard to learn Not for those of us that have been speaking it all our lives, but for others just learning.

It has to be confusing to some to try and understand where certain phrases came from. Heck, I often wonder about the origins of some sayings.


When you’re told that some task is no “cakewalk,” you’ve been warned of the huge difficulty or obstacle that you might face engaging in it. The origin of this phrase is not as cheerful as it sounds. A cakewalk was a dance performed by slaves on plantations in the southern United States. The dance was done in mockery of their white owners. The owners, who knew nothing about the dance’s backstory, took delight in it and had slaves perform it for them during weekend contests while they served as the judges. The winner is rewarded with a piece of cake, and the phrase “piece of cake” also comes from the dance.

After slavery came to an end, cakewalks became popular for another wrong reason. It was performed by white actors who painted their faces black and portrayed the slaves as people attempting to sincerely emulate white culture but failing hilariously. It eventually became the foundation of famous ragtime songs. Over time, the phrase remained while the gruesome story behind it faded. If any phrase origin takes the cake for being disturbing, this one does.

I have to admit that when I researched this at Listverse, I had no idea where some of these phrases came from. Sometimes the origin of certain catchphrases and words should best be left alone!

Let's take a chance and have coffee out on the patio this morning...OK?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Photo Bomb Special...!

This has got to be one of the best photo bombs of all times!

Baby Sis sent me this one and it is really cool!

This adorable little girl asked her dad to take a picture of her next to her favorite animal. With a huge smile on her face, she ran up in front of a Clydesdale and waited for her dad to snap the pic.

What she didn’t know was that this particular Clydesdale had a nasty habit of photobombing visitors. Neither the dad nor daughter knew what happened until later.

When they looked at the picture, this was what they saw.

No doubt this is one of the greatest photobombs we’ve ever seen. Some are even calling it the greatest photobomb of all time. After seeing just how much this horse loves showing off its pearly whites, it’s hard to disagree. When the family got home, the dad uploaded the hilarious photo to Facebook. He didn’t expect much other than a few laughs, but a few hours later he was shocked to discover that the picture had spread like wildfire across the Internet and had been seen and shared by thousands of people. This is truly one photo they will never forget.

What a shot! Bet she will remember this one for a long, long time!

Coffee inside this morning. I don't trust this weather!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Walking Straight For Monday Mysteries...!

I think I've read about this once before, but had no idea that someone was actually studying it.

Part of it I can understand, but then I start to get confused. Why wouldn't we be able to walk straight, even without a visual reference? Guess that's the reason for the study.

Why Can’t Humans Walk Straight?

A German research scientist named Jan Souman conducted an experiment that showed that humans are incapable of walking in a straight line. Souman blindfolded his subjects and instructed them “to try to walk straight for up to an hour.” Instead of walking straight, the volunteers walked in circles. The German scientist conducted the experiment in various locations, such as the beach and the Sahara Desert, but the results were the same.

Souman then tried another experiment, and this time there were no blindfolds. The results were different and a bit surprising. If it was cloudy out, the subjects walked in circles. When the weather was good and sunny, only one of the subjects was able to walk relatively straight.

So why does this phenomenon exist? Scientists don’t really have an explanation, and Jan Souman is still working on a multi-causal theory.

I can't figure out this one. Most of the time I couldn't walk straight was when I was under the influence of some alcoholic beverage. I wonder what my excuse would be now that I don't drink any more?

Coffee inside this morning. Rain may be lurking right around the corner!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

How About Something Different...?

Sunday means cartoons, but today we'll do something off the wqll. How about some Felix the Cat?

Felix was never as popular as some of the other 'toons, but he was a mainstay in American comics for some time. Had his own comic strip and a few comic books as well. Just no accounting for taste sometimes!

One more for good measure...

OK...OK! Enough of Felix for today. I didn't like those anyway!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

First Denver Newspaper Published...!

"Why should I care?", you may ask. Because it marked an important day in the history of the west, that's why!

Just as the railroad helped to open up the west to travel, the first newspaper helped the average citizen to stay informed on current affairs. In the days when information was hard to come by, the newspaper was like the internet of it's time!

Byers publishes first Denver newspaper

Beating a rival publisher by a mere 20 minutes, William Byers distributes the first newspaper ever published in the frontier boomtown of Denver, Colorado.

Byers had arrived in Denver the previous month. He had previously worked as surveyor in Oregon and Washington and served as a territorial representative in Nebraska. However, when Byers heard in 1858 of the discovery of silver and gold in the Pike’s Peak area of Colorado, he decided to move to the Colorado gold fields to establish a newspaper. Denver was becoming a center for the Colorado mining industry, and Byers reasoned that it was the ideal location to begin publishing a newspaper.

As was the case in many western frontier towns, would-be journalists in Denver were vying for the honor of publishing the first newspaper. In Byers’ case, his competitor was the Cherry Creek Pioneer. Rushing to beat the Pioneer into print, Byers set to work on the first edition of his newspaper shortly after he arrived in Denver in March. Working with a handpress in the attic of a local saloon, Byers printed and distributed the first edition of his newspaper on this day in 1859, beating the first release of The Pioneer by only 20 minutes.

In honor of the rugged mountain range that rose up abruptly to the west of Denver, Byers named his new venture in frontier journalism The Rocky Mountain News. Byers remained the editor and publisher of the News until 1878, using the paper as a platform to promote the development of agriculture in the area as an alternative to relying solely on mining. Never trained as a professional journalist, Byers also unapologetically used the paper to express his own views. “My feelings,” he once noted, “have been those of personal championship for a state in which I have felt a deep personal interest.” He died in 1903, having witnessed and shaped Denver’s transformation from a rugged frontier-mining town to a sophisticated business and financial center of the Rocky Mountain West.

Like so many things that we take for granted today, the newspaper was actually a big step for Denver. The paper helped to shape politics and opened up a way for the public to engage in informative debates! Boy, I reckon we are pretty spoiled now days.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It's cool, but no rain is forecast!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Musical Trip Down Memory Lane...!

Sometimes I just get the urge to hear some old fashioned memory music. You know, the kind that brings back some long forgotten memories?

I can't think of many singers that can do this better than the Statler Brothers, can you?

Another favorite of mine...

I really love this group!

And I gotta play this one!

I hope you enjoyed this memory lane trip as much as I did. I could listen for hours!

Coffee inside again today. Rain...? Who knows!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Our Hands Are Made For Fighting...!

Now I finally know that we are not ever supposed to be at peace with one another! We are actually built for fighting.

It seems that somewhere along the line, we lost the hand's design for climbing and gained instead a better tool for fighting. We were probably better off with the tree climbing design. From Knowledgenuts, here is the full explanation.

Human Hands Are Built For Fighting
By Paul K Pickett on Wednesday, August 21, 2013

While your hands developed to be better at manual dexterity, they also evolved, according to one study, to beat things down. When you clench your fist, you actually increase its density by around four times, which allows you to mete out damage without harming yourself too much. Why exactly our hands do this isn’t clearly understood, but researchers think it might have something to do with the fact that, unlike apes, we didn’t need bigger hands to climb trees any more, but still needed to strike things. Chimps hands, incidentally, don’t make a fist when they close but an “open donut shape.”

Compare your thumb to that of the average chimp. Don’t have a chimp around? We pity you. And we can tell you your thumb is slightly longer. This added length is what gives humans the dexterity to create and use tools and is likely a product of the varied length of our toes, which gives you greater balance; hand and foot development depend on some of the same molecules. This only means that when evolution decides to change something about one, it’s likely to change the other.

Okay, so look at your hand again (and, if possible, your chimp companion’s). You’ll notice that your other fingers are shorter than the chimpanzee’s—they have long fingers and a short thumb. We have short fingers and a longer, stronger thumb. Why the disparity? Researchers at the University of Utah suspected it had something to do with the way we make a fist.

Michael Morgan, a student, and biologist David Carrier conducted an experiment involving a whole bunch of martial artists hitting things in various ways and recording the results. First, they discovered that an open slap versus a solid punch did not, in fact, deliver more force overall to a punching bag. However, the second round of experiments, which examined the stability of the fist with and without the thumb against the index and middle fingers, found that the knuckle joint of the index “was four times more rigid when supported by the thumb.” Because the measurement tool the researchers were using was only tracking the index knuckle joint, we can’t say for sure if the other knuckles were similarly strengthened, but it’s likely they were.

The researchers reexamined the thumb’s effect on force again, discovering that the added digit did in fact double the amount of power their martial artists could throw, if you considered how much of a smaller surface area was being struck, but not just because of greater rigidity. In fact, the really awesome power of the thumb, when it comes to punching, is the way it absorbs the impact of a blow and transfers the force through our palms and into our wrists, reducing the chances that we’ll hurt ourselves in a brawl.

So our hands, in short, are designed by nature to be both careful, articulate manipulators, capable of fine art and the wicked guitar solo. But they’re also a couple of staunch bludgeons, ready to go at a moment’s notice (like when your chimp gets you and the gang in a bind.).

I think in the long run, I'd rather be made for climbing instead of fist fighting. I reckon I could use a rock or a gun better than I could use my fist, ya know? With a shotgun, I wouldn't even need to aim!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. We are slowly starting to dry out a touch.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Last Full Sized Train Robbery In Texas...!

The title may sound a bit strange, but there is a good reasaon for it being stated the way it is. I'll explain in a minute, OK?

Baxter’s Curve Train Robbery

Photo via Wikimedia

Another one of the Wild West’s most infamous icons is Butch Cassidy. Throughout most of his career, Cassidy was surrounded by an eclectic group of criminals known as the Wild Bunch. The gang dissipated in 1901, when the members split up in an effort to evade the Pinkertons. Most of them met a violent end in shoot-outs with the law.

One member who survived was Ben Kilpatrick, aka “the Tall Texan.” He was arrested in 1901 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. After serving 10 years, he was released and quickly returned to a life of crime with a new partner named Ole Hobek.

Despite a few successful robberies, this partnership ended on March 13, 1912. Kilpatrick and Hobek were on the Southern Pacific Number Nine Train from Dryden to Sanderson, Texas. At Baxter’s Curve, the robbers put on masks and held up the train’s four crewmen. While Hobek stayed with the engineer in the locomotive, Kilpatrick took the other three to disconnect the passenger cars. On the way, one of the crewmen, David Trousdale, managed to secretly arm himself with an ice mallet. When the opportune moment came, he struck the Tall Texan in the head and killed him. Now armed with Kilpatrick’s gun, Trousdale waited for Hobek to check in on them and shot him in the head. Men are shown above posing with their bodies (Kilpatrick is on the left.)

Trousdale was hailed a hero and rewarded for his bravery. Meanwhile, the Baxter’s Curve train robbery became romanticized as the “last train robbery in Texas,” although that’s not strictly accurate.

The actual "Last Train Robbery" was the miniature train running through Zilker Park in Austin. Follow the link and read about it, if you want. Happened around 1960 or there abouts.

Coffee inside this morning just to be on the safe side!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Museum Full Of Spiders...!

Now that's reason enough to keep me from going to the museum for a long time!

Lucky for me, this particular museum isn't in the states, but in Finland. Good for me, but not so good for folks and tourist visiting the museum there. Still, I'm pretty sure I don't want to go to a place that has 4 inch spiders roaming the halls!

The Finnish Museum Infested With Gigantic Spiders

Photo credit: Skorpion87/Wikimedia

A grand old building in the heart of Helsinki, Finland’s Natural History Museum is one of the capital’s premier tourist attractions. It’s also a place where no arachnophobe should ever set foot. The building is home to a gigantic colony of extremely venomous, near-immortal super-spiders.

Known as the Chilean recluse spider, the creatures are normally only found in South America. Unfortunately for Finland, some eggs made their way into a shipment of wood chips the museum ordered in the 1960s. They hatched, and the spiders escaped into the museum. By 1970, the place was overrun with them. In 2016, they’re not only still there—there are more of them than ever.

The trouble is that the Chilean recluse spider is almost indestructible. Females have been known to survive without food or water for 755 days. They can deal with extreme temperature changes and can lay up to 2,250 eggs in a lifetime. As an added bit of freaky detail, they can grow to up to 10 centimeters (4 in), and their bite will leave you howling in agony (if it doesn’t kill you outright).

On the plus side, the recluse spider gets its name by hiding away from humans. In the 50-plus years the museum has been infested, only one bite has ever been recorded. This is extremely good news, as the museum is built above a series of tunnels linking many buildings in Helsinki. The BBC has speculated that it’s only a matter of time before the colony expands outward into other parts of the city center . . . if it hasn’t done so already.

Ya know...this sounds like something right out of a bad horror story. After all, few things are more creepy to me than spiders, especially when they are about 4 inches long!

Coffee inside this morning. The rain is coming back to finish the flooding job it started yesterday. Had about 7 inches in some places.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Desert Glass For Monday Mystery...!

One of the biggest mysteries to come out of the desert for many years is the origins of a mysterious field of glass.

Glass can be formed from the sands of the desert if the sand is heated to impossibly high temperatures. I'm sure you know that a nuclear explosion could cause some glass to form. However that wasn't the case with the glass in question here. From Listverse, here is the whole story!

Desert Glass

Photo via Wikipedia

Tests on a scarab jewel that once belonged to King Tut proved that the glass it was made from was produced before the earliest Egyptian civilization. Curious for answers, scientists discovered an area in the Sahara Desert where mysterious blocks of glass litter the sand. The first atomic test in New Mexico in 1945 left a similar fingerprint.

The detonation left behind a thin sheet of glass, but the Egyptian glass eclipsed the test site in sheer size. Whatever event made the glass had to be hotter than an atomic explosion. The suspects include a meteor impact or a phenomenally hot air burst. Since there is no evidence of an impact crater, scientists tested the air burst theory with computer simulations. Results showed that if a Shoemaker-Levy type impact exploded into Earth’s atmosphere, the resulting fireball would hit the ground surface like a furnace, cooking sand into glass with temperatures up to 18,000 degrees Celsius (32,500°F).

Interestingly enough, this correlates with the zircon that was found in the Sahara glass. By measuring how degraded the zircon is, the heat the sample was exposed to can be calculated. The Egyptian glass gave a reading roughly the same as the simulation. Nothing terrestrial can create that kind of heat, which makes the air burst theory very plausible.

Whatever it was, it’s hit the planet before. In Southeast Asia, 800,000-year-old glass stretches over an area of almost 800 square kilometers (300 mi2). It’s suggestive of an event deadlier than the one that created the Egyptian glass field.

Whatever got hot enough to melt the sand like that is a little too hot for me. Don't think I want my bath water that hot, for sure!

Coffee inside again this morning. Don't have a clue what this crazy weather is going to do!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Musical Sunday...!

I don't have the usual cartoons this morning, so I figured I'd put some music on instead. Maybe some classicaL? Or some jazz? Or maybe we should go the old surprise routine, ya think?

Maybe one more...!

There! Wasn't that fun for a change...? At least it was different, right?

Coffee inside this morning. It's raining...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Tale About Whooping Cranes...!

I don't know how many of you remember the whooping crane, but here's a rather touching story about them.

The Battle Of The Backyard Cranes

The whooping crane is one of the great success stories of conservation. Back in 1970, there were a grand total of 57 cranes on the planet. Today, there are over 500, all thanks to Operation Migration. The awesome program uses airplanes to teach whooping cranes to migrate from Wisconsin to Florida. Throughout the process, the people involved wear giant bird costumes. Why? They don’t want the birds to get used to humans, as people have a bad habit of killing these amazing creatures.

And that’s why Clarice Gibbs’s backyard is such a problem.

The elderly Florida woman’s property is full of birdfeeders. One particular flock of cranes discovered this smorgasbord and made themselves at home in Mrs. Gibbs’s backyard. Worried about the birds’ safety, the people at Operation Migration asked Mrs. Gibbs if they could remove her feeders. Their whole mission revolved around keeping the cranes away from humans. Clarice said no but not because she was some sort of bird nut. It’s a lot more complicated than that.

Clarice’s husband was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Thanks to this awful disease, he was cut off from the world, a shell of his former self, unless he was sitting in his backyard, looking at birds. Clarice’s husband especially enjoyed watching the whooping cranes, and whenever these majestic animals landed in the yard, his mind would come back, excited and happy, if only for a moment.

So is one couple’s happiness worth the safety of an entire species? Taking it a step further, if you say “okay” to one person’s particular set of circumstances, when do you stop? Everyone has their own problems, and if everyone puts their own needs first, where does that leave the animals?

Or as RadioLab host Robert Krulwich put it, “If you want to give the other creatures on Earth a little more room to be wild and independent, then what do we have to give up?”

I don't know about you, but I say leave the old woman and her husband alone to enjoy the birds for as long as they can. Sometimes the very act of making someone else smile is reward enough, especially if their time here is limited.

Coffee out on the patio today Rain is due back tomorrow, so let's enjoy it.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Swimming Pigs On Freaky Friday...!

Actually these pigs are not freaky at all, but are kinda cute. I mean, as far as pigs go, ya know?

What makes the story of these pigs so interesting is the back story. There is even a modern name that came from places like this, believe it or not. Never know where you are going to find a bit of history or legend!

Big Major Cay

In the Bahamas, the spectacular island paradise of Big Major Cay is home to powdery white beaches, clear turquoise water, and about 20 wild pigs. That’s why it’s been nicknamed “Pig Island” or “Pig Beach.” Humans don’t live on the tiny island, but the locals and tourists sail in frequently to bring food to these wild creatures.

The pigs are fairly lazy but clever. Like the Tom Sawyers of the pig world, they get the humans to do most of the work. The pigs usually spend their days playing in the sand or sunning themselves while waiting for their next shipment of food.

When a boat ventures into their waters, the pigs reward their human benefactors with a water show. They swim out to meet the boats, get the food, and then frolic in the water and pose for pictures until the humans go away and let the pigs return to baking on the beach.

But the waters around Big Major Cay weren’t always a literal bay of pigs. European explorers often dumped domesticated pigs, chickens, goats, cattle, and other animals on islands throughout the world so that sailors could return to eat them later. Sometimes, the sailors didn’t come back. It’s also possible that the pigs escaped from boats and made their way to shore.

By the 1600s, there were a number of islands in the Caribbean with pigs gone wild. Early hunters of wild pigs barbecued their pork on a frame called a boucan or buccan. The word “buccaneer” came to mean “pirate” because Caribbean pirates apparently enjoyed hunting wild pigs and eating barbecued pork, too.

Who would have ever thought the meaning of the term "pirate" or "buccaneer" came from the cooking and eating of wild pigs? Like I said, you never know when or where these kinds of thing pop up. Thanks to Listverse for once again finding a great bit of information for us to share.

Coffee out on the patio once again.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Haunted Church For Thursday...!

Of all the places you wouldn't think of as being haunted, a church would be one of them.

Actually, there are quite a few churches in the world that are rumored to be haunted. One of the most well known is in England, of all places. St. Nicholas church has good reason to be consider itself haunted, as you'll see in this article from Listverse.

St. Nicholas Church

Photo credit: Stephen Nunney

St. Nicholas Church is practically haunted by default. That’s because the village of Pluckley, its home, is reputedly the most haunted locale in all of England. The Kent village is home to the Watercress Woman, who occupies the Pinnock Bridge, and to the ghost of a schoolmaster who committed suicide in front of his pupils. According to a conservative estimate, Pluckley contains no fewer than 12 active spirits.

The church itself is said to be the home of both the beautiful ghost of Lady Dering and the Lady in Red, a ghost who searches the adjacent churchyard for her lost baby. The ghost of a former miller who worked in the area is also said to haunt the churchyard in search of a long-lost love. Also, the ghost of a monk at nearby Greystones House is also said to be seen during the night. Finally, visitors to St. Nicholas have reported seeing lights in the church’s windows when nobody was inside.

Wow! 12 active spirits in one town sounds like a lot to me! But then, what do I know about ghost and spirits? Not much, I'm afraid!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Early Story Of Butch Cassidy...!

Butch Cassidy got an early start in his life of crime. This wasn't unusual in the days of the old west.

Many times the younger men would take up with a bad role model and this would lead to a career of law breaking. Such was the case for young Cassidy.

1866 Butch Cassidy is born

Butch Cassidy, the last of the great western train-robbers, is born on this day in Beaver, Utah Territory.

Born Robert Leroy Parker, he was the son of Mormon parents who had answered Brigham Young’s call for young couples to help build communities of Latter Day Saints on the Utah frontier. Cassidy was the first of 13 children born to Max and Annie Parker.

When Cassidy was 13 years old, the family moved to a ranch near the small Mormon community of Circleville. He became an admirer of a local ruffian named Mike Cassidy, who taught him how to shoot and gave him a gun and saddle. With Cassidy’s encouragement, the young man apparently began rustling, eventually forcing him to leave home during his mid-teens under a cloud of suspicion.

For several years, he drifted around the West using the name Roy Parker. Finally, on June 24, 1889, he committed his first serious crime, robbing a bank in Telluride, Colorado, for more than $20,000. As a fugitive, he took to calling himself George Cassidy, a nod to his first partner in crime back in Utah. Wishing to lay low, for a time he worked in a Rock Springs, Wyoming, butcher shop, earning the nickname that would complete one of the most famous criminal aliases in history, “Butch” Cassidy.

In 1894, Butch Cassidy was arrested for horse theft in Wyoming. After serving two years in the Wyoming Territorial Prison at Laramie, Cassidy was pardoned. He immediately returned to a life of crime, this time gathering around him a local band of carousing outlaws that became known as the Wild Bunch. Cassidy’s most famous partner was Harry Longbaugh, better known as the “Sundance Kid.” Other members included the quick-to-kill Harvey Logan (“Kid Curry”), Ben Kilpatrick (“Tall Texan”), Harry Tracy, Deaf Charley Hanks, and Tom Ketchum (“BlackJack”).

By 1897, Cassidy was solidly in control of a sophisticated criminal operation that was active in states and territories from South Dakota to New Mexico. The Wild Bunch specialized in holding up railroad express cars, and the gang was sometimes called the Train Robbers’ Syndicate. Between robberies, Cassidy rendezvoused with various lovers around the West and took his gang on unruly vacations to Denver, San Antonio, and Fort Worth.

By the turn of the century, however, the wild days of the West were rapidly fading. Once deserted lands were being tamed and settled, and western states and territories were creating an increasingly effective law-enforcement network. Tired of his robberies, railroad executives hired detectives to catch Cassidy and began placing mounted guards in railcars to pursue the Wild Bunch. In 1901, Cassidy fled the U.S. for Argentina accompanied by his lover, Etta Place, and the Sundance Kid.

The trio homesteaded a ranch at Cholila, though Place returned to the United States after several years. In 1904, Cassidy and Sundance learned that detectives had tracked them to South America. They abandoned the Cholila ranch and resumed a life of robbery in Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. Though there is no evidence definitely to confirm it, Bolivian troops reportedly killed the partners in the village of San Vicente in 1908. The families of both men insist, however, that the men survived and returned to live into old age in the United States.

I figure that poor choices were mainly the reason for Cassidy's criminal lifestyle. He wasn't forced into it by circumstances, it would seem. The lure of easy money has been the draw of bad men for many, many years and show no signs of stopping.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Modern Border War...!

America has actually been involved in some conflicts very close to home at times. Can you say "Mexico"?

In 1918, the fighting took on a very real feeling of a war. Shooting on both sides was rampant and deadly, and certainly could have gotten completely out of control before it ceased. From the folks at Listverse, here is a bit of history you may not know!

Battle Of Ambos Nogalesnogales

Photo credit: United States Army

When people think of World War I, they usually assume the fighting never reached the American continent. However, as the war neared its end, fighting between Mexican and US forces erupted along the border. The battle occurred in Ambos Nogales, a city split down the middle by a wide boulevard. Half of the town was in Mexican territory, and the other half was in US territory. (The Spanish word ambos actually means “both.”)

Relations between the two countries were already tense due to the Zimmerman Telegram, an intercepted communique between the German and Mexican governments, which enticed Mexico to attack the US. And in August 1918, American intelligence services reported a buildup of Mexican soldiers and armaments on the Mexican side of Nogales. Naturally, this made American troops incredibly nervous, and things only got worse on August 27.

On this particular day, a Mexican named Gil Lamadrid attempted to cross the border from the US side. He was carrying a large parcel through Nogales when US customs officials ordered him to stop. They wanted to examine the package, but then Mexican officials began telling Gil Lamadrid to cross the border immediately. In the confusion, a US soldier raised his rifle to threaten Gil Lamadrid. And that’s when gunfire erupted. Nobody knows who fired the first shot, but suddenly bullets were flying from both sides.

Mexican citizens grabbed their rifles and started shooting at the American soldiers. Ready to fight, the US 10th Cavalry (made of “Buffalo Soldiers”) charged across the border and began fighting in the streets. The battle soon spread into the American side. The 35th Infantry brought in machine guns to combat Mexican troops, and they soon captured the hills around the city. Felix Penalosa, the mayor of Mexican Nogales, attempted to wave a white flag of surrender, but he was fatally shot by American soldiers.

The death of the mayor served as a wake-up call for both sides. Mexican and US commanders gradually stopped the fighting, and the Battle of Ambos Nogales eventually came to an end.

It occurs to me that the U.S. isn't as untouchable as we would think. Certainly in the past and, most likely, in the future. If our enemies really want to get to us, we should be much more vigilant perhaps than we have been in the past, ya think?

Let's talk about this while we have coffee out on the patio.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Today's Mystery ? How Did This Happen...?

When you take all the mistakes that our government has made and add them up, this is probably harder to understand than all of them put together!

Suffice it to say that this was and is a complete travesty of everything we think of as right and just. Someone needs to explain this one to me, I'm afraid.

How Nazis Got Years Of Social Security Benefits From The US Government
By Debra Kelly on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

An investigation started by the Associated Press found that between 1962 and 2015, more than $20 million was paid out to Nazi war criminals living in the US and overseas. The Department of Justice used benefits to persuade at least 28 suspected ex-Nazis to leave the country, allowing them to keep receiving money as long as they left voluntarily. It was only with the 2014 No Social Security for Nazis Act that the payments slowed, and they didn’t even stop completely until January 2015.

As the years go by, time is running out on the clock to bring the remaining Nazi war criminals to justice. With more and more dying of natural causes—and many now in their eighties and nineties—it means that efforts to bring some final survivors to justice are last-ditch efforts. But we’re still uncovering other shocking things that were done after the war, and it was only in 2014 that the No Social Security for Nazis Act stopped at least some of the payments the US government was making to former Nazis who had settled in the US.

An investigation by the Associated Press revealed the amount of money paid out from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to retirees who had ties to the Nazi party; more than $20.2 million had been paid to 133 people linked to the Third Reich.

With the SSA originally denying the AP access to the documents and records, it took them a bit longer to paint an accurate picture of what was going on. Payments were made beginning in 1962 and only stopping in January 2015, and they were made possible by a weird legal loophole.
When Nazi war criminals were identified by the Department of Justice, the department could use the benefits as leverage to get them out of the country. If the suspected persons left of their own accord, they were allowed to keep their benefits. If they needed to be deported, they would lose the money. As of March 1999, the SSA had paid around $1.5 million to 28 people living outside the US because of their voluntary departure.

While the No Social Security for Nazis Act didn’t publish the names of some of the people receiving benefits, the BBC did. The list includes former Mauthausen guard Martin Bartesch, SS volunteer Martin Hartmann, Jakob Denzinger of the Death’s Head Unit, SS guard Peter Mueller, Wasyl Lytwyn of the Warsaw Ghetto SS, Nazi-installed regional mayor John Avdzej, and Nazi rocket factory overseer Arthur Rudolph.

No one’s really sure how many former Nazis ended up settling in the US after the war, with many doing so under false pretenses. (For example, Avdzej claimed he was a farmer when he applied for his immigration status.) It’s thought that a number of them had other government ties, too, brought into the country in the hopes that they would act as spies and informants during the looming Cold War.

New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau uncovered masses of files that had been wiped clean of Nazi atrocities, all belonging to people fleeing the country. When it came to immigration into the US, he found a surprising number of Washington lawmakers who took a stand against giving Jewish survivors visas and instead citing very Nazi-esque ideas about their work ethic and entitlement as reasons why they shouldn’t be allowed in.

Those visas went instead to Nazis and Nazi collaborators, with more than a thousand admitted into the US under a sort of improvised program with various intelligence agencies who wanted to use them and their knowledge.

It wasn’t until 1979 that the Office of Special Investigations turned around and formed a unit to start tracking down war criminals living in the US.

I wonder if one reason there hasn't been a cost of living raise to Social Security payments in the last couple of years is due, at least in part, to money being paid to these criminals? Wouldn't surprise me, I'm afraid.

If you want to find out more about this, go to Knowledgenuts and look at the links to some more information!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Once Again It's Already Sunday...!

Of course Sunday around here means 'toons! Guess you figured that out, huh?

Maybe just one more...

OK, that's enough for today. Everyone grab some more coffee and we'll head out to the patio!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Poisoning The Treaty Oak...!

This isn't just another crime tale, but an attempted crime against all the folks living in Texas that are bound by tradition.

As you can tell, we take our traditions very serious here in the South...especially in Texas! I'm sure other states feel the same way, at least some of them. One thing you don't want to do in any part of the mess with anyone's traditions!

The Mysterious Poisoning Of The Greatest Tree In Texas
By Nolan Moore on Monday, April 4, 2016

Once upon a time, the Treaty Oak was considered the finest tree in the United States. It was a truly beautiful plant, a 500-year-old Texas treasure—until someone decided to kill it. The motivation behind this attempted “murder” was incredibly bizarre and involved a twisted story of love, poison, and the occult.

Located in Austin, Texas, the Treaty Oak is a 500-year-old tree that holds a special place in Lone Star history. It was one of 14 trees that served as a meeting spot for Native American tribes, long before European settlers arrived. And according to legend, Stephen F. Austin, the founder of Texas, once signed a treaty with the natives under its branches.

In 1922, the American Forestry Service Association deemed the plant the most perfect tree in America. With such a history, it’s no wonder that the Treaty Oak symbolizes ideals like majesty and beauty. But in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, it was also associated with things like revenge and black magic.

In 1989, Austin’s city forester, John Giedraitis, realized the legendary Treaty Oak was dying. Concerned, he sent soil samples to the Department of Agriculture, and feds discovered that someone had poisoned the tree with a massive amount of Velpar, a devastating herbicide produced by DuPont.

Hoping to catch the culprit, DuPont offered a $10,000 reward, and the Texas Forestry Association followed suit, putting up $1,000 for information about the crime. Even Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot contributed to the effort, giving Giedraitis a blank check to save the tree.

Naturally, Austin locals were furious, and some even demanded that the crook be hung from the very tree he poisoned. As a third of the oak wasted away, citizens left gifts near its roots, ranging from get-well cards to cans of chicken soup. A psychic even showed up to perform a healing ceremony.

On the more practical side, Giedraitis used Perot’s money to assemble a crack team of botanists in an attempt to save the tree. But at the same time, the Austin Police Department had arrested a man named Paul Cullen. They’d learned that Cullen had easy access to Velpar, courtesy of his job, and was seen with several jugs of the stuff in his truck. The police tricked Cullen into admitting his crime on tape, and he was sentenced to nine years behind bars, although he only served three.

So why would anyone poison such a majestic tree? Well, Cullen was an ex-con, so it’s possible that poisoning the tree was a way to get back at the state for locking him up and forcing him to plant trees while incarcerated. Secondly, Cullen was in love with a counselor at his methadone clinic . . . but the feeling wasn’t mutual. Hoping to get rid of his heartache, Cullen allegedly performed a magic ritual which involved poisoning the tree. He hoped that as the Treaty Oak died, so too would his unrequited love.

Cullen passed away in 2001, but the Treaty Oak is still kicking, although only a third of the plant remains. Scientists took cuttings from the tree and planted them around the state. When one of the cuttings started to grow, they brought it back to Austin and planted it beside the “mother.” Their roots grafted together, and the little tree stabilized the once-majestic Treaty Oak. Unlike Cullen, the tree will probably be around for 100 years or more.

I picked up this story from the folks over at Knowledgenuts. They alwas have some good reading there.

Coffee outside again this morning. Spring is setting in pretty good!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Raining Seeds On Freaky Friday...!

Here's something you don't hear about very often. Imagine it raining "seeds!"

Not only did they fall out of the sky, but they were still able to be planted and grown. If that's not Freaky, I don't know what is!

Rain of Seeds
February 1979

Roland Moody of Southampton, England, was startled to hear small, solid objects hitting the glass roof of the conservatory attached to his house. The objects turned out to be hundreds of seeds—small mustard seeds and cress seeds coated in a jelly-like substance. More seeds continued to fall during the day, eventually covering his garden. One of his neighbors, Mrs. Stockley, told Moody she’d had a similar experience the previous year.

The following day, Moody’s home was struck by corn, pea, and bean seeds that seemed to simply fall out of the sky. His neighbors on both sides were also pelted with peas and beans. Only those three houses in the neighborhood were targeted for the bizarre showers of seeds, and a police investigation was unable to pinpoint a source.

The phenomena gradually decreased and went away. By that time, Moody and his neighbors had endured twenty-five separate barrages and collected ten pounds of beans from their gardens. Moody himself gathered eight buckets of cress seeds. He claimed the produce grown from the seeds was good quality. Both Moody and Stockley were interviewed for Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World television series in 1980. To date, no adequate explanation for the weird showers has been found.

My take on this mystery is...don't look a gift from above as a bad thing. Instead, just remember the story of "Manna from Heaven" in the Bible and keep on keeping on! Hey, just saying...

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

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Very Important History Lesson...!

The two most important events in all of history were the invention of beer and the invention of the wheel.

Beer required grain and that was the beginning of agriculture.

Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early humans were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed.

 The wheel was invented to get man to the beer and vise versa.

 These two were the foundation of modern civilization and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups:

1. Liberals.
2. Conservatives.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to BBQ at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as the Conservative movement.

Other men who were less skilled at hunting (called 'vegetarians' which was an early human word meaning 'bad hunter') learned to live off the Conservatives by showing up for the nightly BBQ's and doing the sewing, fetching, and hairdressing. This was the beginning of the liberal movement.

Some of these liberal men evolved into women. Others became known as girlie-men. Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy, group hugs, and the concept of democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that Conservatives provided.

Over the years Conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass for obvious reasons.

Modern Liberals like lite beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare. Another interesting evolutionary side note: many liberal women have higher testosterone levels than their men.

Most college professors, social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, film makers in Hollywood, group therapists and community organizers are liberals. Liberals meddled in our national pastime and invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't fair to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink real beer. They eat red meat and still provide for their women. Conservatives are members of the military, big game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police officers, engineers, corporate executives, athletes, airline pilots, and generally anyone who works productively. Conservatives who own companies hire other Conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to govern the producers and decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when Conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tamed and created a business of trying to get more for nothing.

Here ends today's lesson in world history. It should be noted that a liberal may have a momentary urge to angrily respond to this post.

A Conservative will simply laugh and be so convinced of the absolute truth of this history that it will be shared immediately to other true believers and to just piss-off more liberals.

And there you have it. Let your next action reveal your true self, I'm going to grab a few beers and BBQ some steaks!

Well, there you have it. Thanks to Baby Sis for furnishing the material for today's post. I do hope that no one is offended by anything I've said, but sometimes life is cruel. Just gotta go with the flow, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Another Unsung Hero Of The Old West...!

For Western Wednesday, I thought I'd do another post about another former slave.

This man was truly good at what he did. In fact, when you look at his record it almost seems unbelievable. The accounts of the day say that all the stories are true, though. From the site at Listverse, let's take a look at Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves

Photo via Wikimedia

In the years after the Civil War, the Indian Territory of modern Oklahoma had a reputation as the most lawless place in the country. So many criminals sought refuge there that Native American children had a song about it: “Oh, what was your name in the States? Was it Johnson or Thompson or Bates? Did you kill your wife, and fly for your life? Say, what was your name in the States?” Of around 200 US Marshals killed in the line of duty, 130 were killed in Indian Territory during the period.

So when “the Hanging Judge” Isaac C. Parker arrived to bring order to the territory in 1875, he sought to commission the best of the best as US Marshals. And he lucked out with Bass Reeves, a former slave who would become arguably the finest lawman in the history of the West.

Born in Arkansas, Reeves fled to Oklahoma after punching his owner out during a game of cards. He apparently lived with the Creek and Seminole nations during this time and became fluent in several Native American languages. As a Deputy US Marshal, he would count on his good relationships with the tribes to stay one step ahead of the outlaws who left cards promising to kill any lawman who stepped over the “Dead Line” into Indian Territory. But even the most vicious outlaws were no match for Reeves, who captured over 3,000 criminals and killed more than a dozen in 27 years as a marshal. He was so successful that he used to head out with a wagon, a cook, and one other lawman, do a circuit of Oklahoma, and return with a dozen wanted criminals tied behind the wagon. On one occasion, he bumped into three notorious outlaws coming down a trail. A short gunfight later, two of the outlaws were dead and the third had surrendered. On another occasion, he rode into the middle of a lynch mob and rescued their intended victim. Nobody in the mob even tried to stop Bass Reeves. Later, he halted a budding race war in a small town by arresting everyone involved.

But Bass’s career wasn’t without tragedy. In his most famous case, he had to track down and arrest his own son, who would be sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife.

Not only did Mr. Reeves have more than his share of backbone, but he was true to the oath that he made when he became a U.S. Marshall. A true man of character, I'd say!

How about if we have coffee out on the patio this morning. Temps are going up to 81 they say!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Influencial Cowboys Of The Old West

Some cowboys, unknown for the most part to the majority of us, were really well known in their day. Sort of like rock stars of today, I reckon.

Not that it makes any difference, but these men just happened to be black. There were quite a few black men working as cowboys back in the early days, especially in Texas. Why in Texas? I really couldn't say, except that work was available, back breaking as it was. Good cowboys were always in demand.

Addison Jones

Dubbed “the most noted Negro cowboy that ever topped off a horse,” Addison Jones was known for his skill at breaking (“topping off”) untrained wild broncos. That involved clinging on for dear life while the bronco bucked and tried to throw the rider off. As such, most cowboys retired from the job in their thirties. Addison kept at it until he was 70. It was said that he could “read a horse’s mind by staring it in the eye” and he was equally renowned at riding, roping, and cattle driving.

The historian J. Evetts Haley described one of Addison’s more impressive roping tricks: “He would tie a rope hard and fast around his hips, hem a horse up in the corner of a corral or in the open pasture, rope him around the neck as he went past at full speed, and where another man would have been dragged to death, Add would, by sheer will and power on the end of the rope, invariably flatten the horse out on the ground.”

A popular legend in Roswell, New Mexico claims that when Addison got married, all the local cattle ranches wanted to show their respects with a gift. Unfortunately, they all had the same gift idea and the newlyweds found themselves saddled with 19 cooking stoves. Not much else is known about Addison’s personal life, but his cattle skills were enough for him to be featured in a popular folk song of the time called “Whose Old Cow?” Sadly, the song’s description of Addison includes racial epithets and an unfortunate accent, so it naturally isn’t performed much anymore.

Now, breaking horses when in your 70s doesn't seem like a good way to retire, but I reckon we do what we have to do.

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Another Mysterious Ship For Monday Mysteries...!

It seems like the sea can really hold onto her secrets, some for a very long time!

There is even a reward offered for the discovery of this next ship, but it has never been claimed. From what I read over at Knowledgenuts, it may never be found. A true mystery...along with so many others held by the sea.

The Mysterious And Elusive ‘Mahogany Ship’
By George Stevens Jr. on Friday, November 29, 2013

The most treacherous coastline in Australia has claimed over 200 ships. All have been documented and accounted for—except one. Several sightings of an elusive vessel known as “The Mahogany Ship” in the 1800s have intrigued archaeologists for years. The mystery ship is possibly Portuguese, which means it pre-dates Captain Cook’s trip to the South Coast and has the potential to re-write the history books as to who made it there first.

In Victoria, a state in southern Australia, exists the country’s most dangerous coast. In its history of explorers, immigrants, and traders, more than 200 ships have been swallowed. The coast is traversed by the Great Ocean Road, which is one of Australia’s most beautiful driving routes. It is from this road that the famous “Twelve Apostles” rock formations can be seen.

The coast is lined with small towns, beautiful bays, and views, and shipwrecks—lots of shipwrecks. Wreck Beach still holds a rock-encrusted anchor of one ill-fated ship, and museums along the coast exhibit many other treasures.

All these vessels have been recorded in the pages of historical documentation. Except for one.

In 1836, a wreck was seen by two men in the sand dunes near the town of Warnabool on the Shipwreck Coast. In itself, that was nothing unusual for the time, but the wood of this ship was dark. Darker than the woods normally used for a vessel. The rumor spread that the wood was mahogany, a material not known for being used in ship building. It became known both in official documents and in popular culture as “The Mahogany Ship.”

The ship was also described as looking very old, possibly Spanish, and of a very different type than was known to sailors in the 1800s. A storm was believed to have washed the sand off the ship allowing its discoverers (two shipwrecked men themselves) to see it.

The Mahogany Ship was sighted again 10 years later and reported by a Captain Mills. Mills is reported to have stood on the deck of the ship. However, once again, the wreck disappeared.

Over 30 sightings of the wreck were claimed until the late 1800s, but by the 20th century, the wreck seems to have disappeared completely. Its story became a mystery to the coast, and despite its obvious absence, made it a local icon.

Hope was not lost that the wreck would be found, and in 1992 the Victorian State government offered a reward of a quarter of a million dollars for its discovery. The reward has never been claimed, despite a number of reputable archaeologists investigating.

There is some importance as to the existence of this ship. The ship is possibly of Portuguese origin, and would pre-date Captain Cook (who didn’t discover Australia, but is supposed to have mapped the south coast). If found, it means a lot for the pages of history and who the real discoverers of the South Land actually were. Some believe that the ship was part of a secret Portuguese mission to find the fabled “Great South Land” that became Australia.

Other theories have been presented, but the truth remains a mystery. The Mahogany Ship remains one of a number of maritime mysteries in the Southern Hemisphere.

I don't believe we will ever know half of the mysteries held by the sea. I reckon we are not supposed to know some things.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, where it's turning into a beautiful day!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday Is For Funnies...!

I guess that we are stuck in a rut for sure. Oh well, it could be worse, I reckon.

One more for luck...!

Caught you off guard with that last one, didn't I?

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Sad Cases Of The Human Zoos...!

I know it's hard to imagine how cruel and uncivilized something like this is, but these actually did exist.

It wasn't that long ago that we found a new way to humiliate and degrade our fellow man. Not what you wanted to hear this morning, I know. However, it's only by exposing these terrible forms of "entertainment" that we can prevent them from showing up again!

The US Put Defeated Filipinos On Display

Photo via Wikimedia

After the war between the United States and the Philippines, the victorious US decided that they would further humiliate their defeated foes by putting them on public display as “savages.” Many Filipinos today are still angry about the way their people were treated. The beginning of the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis coincided nicely with the end of the war, so the United States put together multiple living people exhibits, among them a 47-acre exhibit housing mostly Filipinos from the Igorot tribe.

This tribe was known primarily because they occasionally ate dog, so as part of the “curiosity” of it all, Igorots in the living village exhibit were made to kill and butcher dogs constantly for the amusement of onlookers. This was all made to reinforce a stereotype that they themselves knew wasn’t true; they only ate dog very occasionally as part of certain ceremonies. While some people may think that history has forgotten these things, there are those who are still taking the time to reflect on this chapter in their history well over 100 years later.

This is wrong on so many levels that I can't even begin to say. I had no idea that this went on in our country, but I have to admit that it doesn't really surprise me!

Coffee out on the patio again this morning!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Space Pens For Freaky Friday...!

Today I want to talk about the "Space Pens", if that's OK with you.

These pens were supposed to be for taking into space, where they were expected to work as usual...without problems. In typical fashion and overspending, the answer was a lot closer than expected. Surprise!

The Myth Of NASA’s Spendy Space Pens
By Debra Kelly on Tuesday, March 29, 2016

An urban legend says that NASA spent millions developing a pen for its astronauts, while the Soviet Union just gave their men pencils. While that’s not a good idea anyway (mainly because of dust and the possibility of breakage), it’s not true. NASA did spend an outrageous amount on mechanical pens for Gemini, but by the time Apollo came around, astronauts were using a space pen that had been invented independently by the Fisher Pen Company with no NASA funding. That was eventually the  pen the space program decided on, and the Soviet Union used it, too.

Chances are pretty good that you’ve heard the story that pokes fun at government overspending and what seems like a complete lack of common sense on the part of the massive machine that is NASA. It tells the story about how NASA spent millions of dollars inventing a pen that could write in zero gravity, while the Soviets just gave their astronauts a pencil.

Hilarious, right? But there’s a real story behind the whole saga of NASA space pens, and that’s not it.

First off, let’s look at why pencils are an absolutely dumb solution to the problem of writing in the zero-gravity conditions of a space station or shuttle. Graphite pencils give off a minute amount of dust, especially if they break, and that means they’re a potential source of irritants in a sealed and very delicate artificial environment. They’re also extraordinarily flammable under those same conditions—they’re made of graphite and wood, after all.

So a pen was needed, and there were a whole series of requirements that made it impossible to use any old pen. They needed to be able to be used by astronauts wearing gloves, they had to be absolutely shatterproof, and they had to be ridiculously lightweight, as every ounce on a space mission counts.

In 1965, NASA bought a set of space-worthy mechanical pencils for Project Gemini. The pencils came from Tycam Engineering Manufacturing, Inc., and the bill for 34 pencils was a staggering $4,382.50. Neither Congress nor the American public would stand for that nonsense. Only a few days before the Gemini launch, NASA found itself bombarded with requests to justify the massive expense.

After the Gemini mission, it was leaked that astronauts had carried a whole bunch of items up into space that hadn’t been approved for the launch. There was a sandwich (of particular concern because of the potential for crumbs), a diamond ring, and some totally normal pencils.

Amid the following outcry over the apparent waste of government funding, NASA started looking elsewhere for another option when it came to pencils (even as it also cracked down on astronauts who tried taking personal items with them).

NASA stumbled across a man named Paul Fisher and his Fisher Pen Company and found that he had inadvertently invented a pen that would work perfectly for them. And NASA didn’t spend a dime in development. The pressurized pen was designed to work even when it was subjected to extreme temperatures or was underwater, and its ink cartridge would work in zero gravity.

When Fisher offered NASA the pens, they were initially refused. Then, NASA bought another even more expensive Fisher pen, while giving the Space Pen a wide berth. It was only after a whole lot of testing that NASA finally agreed to use the Space Pens for Apollo.

Four hundred pens cost a total of $2,400. Fisher’s Space Pens also landed a contract with the Soviet Union.

Seems to me that NASA came out ahead by paying full retail for the pens, instead of the "special" government price. Who would have thought that?

Coffee out on the patio again this morning.