Monday, June 30, 2014

Ancient Texas Artwork For Monday Mysteries...!

We all love a good mystery, right? We seem to be especially fascinated by some of the artwork left by our ancient ancestors.

Trouble is, there are sometimes problems that come from trying to understand just what these pieces of art mean. There, my friends, lies the mystery! I think that if you study this drawing I found over at Listverse, you'll see what I mean!


White Shaman Rock

Photo credit: National Parks Service

The ancient cultures of the Americas still hold many secrets, and one way to decode them is by studying rock paintings. Near the Pecos River in Texas’s Lower Pecos Canyon is one of the oldest and most significant of these paintings—the White Shaman. A 7-meter (24 ft) artwork dated to over 4,000 years ago, the White Shaman is thought to offer information regarding an ancient lost religion

Controversy surrounds the rock painting’s meaning. Up until recently, most archaeologists agreed that the artwork depicted five human figures in battle or during a pre-battle ritual. However, one archaeologist now claims it shows people communicating with the spirit world, specifically through the use of peyote

My take on this is that the artist was definitely on something, or was a really bad artist! What do I know, though? They might have been considered quite good by their tribe, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It's already heating up, but we have plenty of shade for now.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Morning 'Toons Again...!

I know you all have been waiting breathlessly for this day, so here we go!

The hardest part about the 'toons is trying to decide which ones to show. I have to watch a lot of 'toons to see which is best, ya know?

A lot of these 'toons I chose are from way back! I mean, like before the internet, ya know?

Hey, it might be kinda handy to have a trailer like that, don't ya think?

Probably the luck I'd have building my own boat!

I can almost remember my days on KP when I was in basic...almost!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. No rain so far!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Modern Version Of The Birds And Bees...!

I don't know if anyone would actually find a use for this, but you just never know!

 How was I born ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

That’s not what Daddy told me!

A little boy goes to his father and asks 'Daddy, how was I born?'
The father answers, 'Well, son, I guess one day you will need to find out anyway! Your Mom and I first got together in a chat room on Yahoo. Then I set up a date via e-mail with your Mom and we met at a cyber-cafe. We sneaked into a secluded room, and googled each other. There your mother agreed to a download from my hard drive. As soon as I was ready to upload, we discovered that neither one of us had used a firewall, and since it was too late to hit the delete button, nine months later a little Pop-Up appeared that said:
'You got Male

Coffee out on the patio this morning, if that's OK.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Another Freaky Friday...!

The post for today should fit right in with the "freaky Friday" theme, I think.

As I was doing the research for this morning, one thing that struck me is that we have a LOT of scary folks out there. Certainly more than I wanted to know about! Who knows...they could be your neighbors. Or mine!

Corpse Brides

1- corpse bride

In China, it’s never too late to find love—even after death. While few and far between, ghost weddings are an old tradition for those who died single. It’s believed that they’re a way to appease the spirits; in other words, they think the ghosts will be too busy honeymooning to haunt anyone.

The way it works is the families of two recently deceased singles agree to bury the dead together, partnering them in holy, postmortem matrimony. In a recent case, however, brides were being stolen from their graves and their families had no idea. A ring of grave robbers was arrested for selling corpses to families as “ghosts wives” for their deceased sons, regardless of whether or not the ladies were even single at the time of their deaths.

The women’s bodies were dug up, cleaned, and sold with falsified medical records for the price of $38,000. The ring got away with selling 10 of these corpses illegally before being caught and sentenced to 28 to 32 months in prison.

Now, I don't know about you, but this seems to me this is a lot of trouble just to avoid being haunted. As for me...I've been married and I'll take the haunting! OK?

Once again, I think we'll have coffee inside due to the rain.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Prehistoric Picniking...!

It turns out that some of our prehistoric cousins were a bit more savvy about foods than we thought.

Just because they didn't have many choices of food at times, they did manage to find ways to improve the taste of what they had. On top of that, the discovery of  making cheese did a lot to improve their diet and extend their food sources.

The Surprising Cuisine Of Prehistoric Europeans

By Joshua T. Garcia on Monday, June 23, 2014

The tough, brutal environment of prehistoric Europe conjures up images of gruff cavemen hunting giant mammoths and stuffing their faces with barely cooked flesh. It’s a brutal—and tasteless—meal. But prehistoric Europeans did have a splash of modern cuisine in their diets: In addition to using spices in their cooking, ancient Europeans were particularly fond of milk and cheese.

Hunter-gatherers, our forebears, were primarily concerned with caloric intake. After all, the quality of a meal took a distant second to acquiring enough food to survive.

But plain meat can get a bit boring sometimes. That’s exactly why prehistoric Europeans began to spice their food—as far back as 6,000 years ago. Garlic mustard has been found in ancient pottery shards in modern Germany and Denmark. Since the spice has little nutritional value, it has been surmised that it was used to enhance the flavor of ancient European meals.

Spices may have been in use in other parts of the world even earlier. For example, traces of coriander have been found in an Israeli cave dated to 23,000 years ago.

Around the same time they were spicing their food, many Northern Europeans were acquiring a taste for milk. With the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers began to domesticate animals like cattle and were milking them between 7,500 and 6,500 years ago (we know this, again, thanks to some high-quality ancient storage pots).

In regions with more sparse food options, milk became a lifesaver, as it was an easy source of nutrition. The human body usually stops producing the lactase enzyme—which allows us to digest dairy—after the breastfeeding period. A few biological mutants in the cattle-raising populations didn’t shut off their lactase production at adulthood and were therefore able to utilize milk as a food source without any uncomfortable side effects. These people were less likely to die of malnutrition or lack of food, and therefore were able to have more offspring, propagating lactose tolerance.

For this reason, many Northern Europeans (and other cattle-rearing populations, like the Maasai of East Africa) have much lower rates of lactose intolerance then the French, Spanish, or Chinese.

With milk comes cheese. Thanks to yet more ancient pottery, we know that prehistoric Europeans were eating cheese as early as 7,500 years ago. Since just about everyone was lactose intolerant back then, cheese was much easier to digest than milk, since it has less lactose.

It seems to me, given the conditions they had, our ancestors did pretty well for themselves. After all, we are all here now, right?  This information was found over at KnowledgeNuts.

Better have our coffee inside this morning. The rain has left the patio pretty wet!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Broken Promises On Western Wednesday...!

It's no wonder that some actions by representatives of our government , back in the old days, made it hard for Native Americans to have any faith in their actions or promises.

Way too often, evil men used the empty promises to bring  harm and hardship to native people, often for personal gain. Here's one example !

Jun 24, 1864: 
Colorado Governor orders Indians to Sand Creek

Colorado Governor John Evans warns that all peaceful Indians in the region must report to the Sand Creek reservation or risk being attacked, creating the conditions that will lead to the infamous Sand Creek Massacre.

Evans' offer of sanctuary was at best halfhearted. His primary goal in 1864 was to eliminate all Native American activity in eastern Colorado Territory, an accomplishment he hoped would increase his popularity and eventually win him a U.S. Senate seat. Immediately after ordering the peaceful Indians to the reservation, Evans issued a second proclamation that invited white settlers to indiscriminately "kill and destroy all...hostile Indians." At the same time, Evans began creating a temporary 100-day militia force to wage war on the Indians. He placed the new regiment under the command of Colonel John Chivington, another ambitious man who hoped to gain high political office by fighting Indians.

The Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe Indians of eastern Colorado were unaware of these duplicitous political maneuverings. Although some bands had violently resisted white settlers in years past, by the autumn of 1864 many Indians were becoming more receptive to Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle's argument that they must make peace. Black Kettle had recently returned from a visit to Washington, D.C., where President Abraham Lincoln had given him a huge American flag of which Black Kettle was very proud. He had seen the vast numbers of the white people and their powerful machines. The Indians, Black Kettle argued, must make peace or be crushed.

When word of Governor Evans' June 24 offer of sanctuary reached the Indians, however, most of the Indians remained distrustful and were unwilling to give up the fight. Only Black Kettle and a few lesser chiefs took Evans up on his offer of amnesty. In truth, Evans and Chivington were reluctant to see hostilities further abate before they had won a glorious victory, but they grudgingly promised Black Kettle his people would be safe if they came to Fort Lyon in eastern Colorado. In November 1864, the Indians reported to the fort as requested. Major Edward Wynkoop, the commanding federal officer, told Black Kettle to settle his band about 40 miles away on Sand Creek, where he promised they would be safe.

Wynkoop, however, could not control John Chivington. By November, the 100-day enlistment of the soldiers in his Colorado militia was nearly up, and Chivington had seen no action. His political stock was rapidly falling, and he seems to have become almost insane in his desire to kill Indians. "I long to be wading in gore!" he is said to have proclaimed at a dinner party. In this demented state, Chivington apparently concluded that it did not matter whether he killed peaceful or hostile Indians. In his mind, Black Kettle's village on Sand Creek became a legitimate and easy target.

At daybreak on November 29, 1864, Chivington led 700 men, many of them drunk, in a savage assault on Black Kettle's peaceful village. Most of the Cheyenne warriors were away hunting. In the awful hours that followed, Chivington and his men brutally slaughtered 105 women and children and killed 28 men. The soldiers scalped and mutilated the corpses, carrying body parts back to display in Denver as trophies. Amazingly, Black Kettle and a number of other Cheyenne managed to escape.

In the following months, the nation learned of Chivington's treachery at Sand Creek, and many Americans reacted with horror and disgust. By then, Chivington and his soldiers had left the military and were beyond reach of a court-martial. Chivington's political ambitions, however, were ruined, and he spent the rest of his inconsequential life wandering the West. The scandal over Sand Creek also forced Evans to resign and dashed his hopes of holding political office. Evans did, however, go on to a successful and lucrative career building and operating Colorado railroads.

As you can see from this example from a lot of government reps of those times were not very truthful. Didn't earn any respect or trust from their actions, I'd say. Sound familiar?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I have some iced lemon cake I'll share!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Some Tough Anti-Smoking Laws...!

If you think that the folks against smoking are tough today, it turns out the people in the old days were a lot tougher.

Can you imagine having to undergo the inquisition just because you smoked? Me either. Being a smoker myself, I'll admit that I do get some nasty looks from time to time from the non-smoking set, but so far they haven't sent me to jail for it. Maybe I'm just lucky, who knows?

When Smoking Was A Sign Of Demon Possession

By Dustin Koski on Saturday, June 14, 2014
While tobacco is an extremely popular drug all over the world today, it did not enjoy an easy introduction to Europe. The first European smoker was perceived to be possessed by the devil and received jail time for his crime. And he fared much better than many.

When Christopher Columbus famously accidentally discovered the American landmasses in 1492, he brought home plenty of slaves and native goods. One of those goods was a supply of tobacco which the natives had been smoking since, by some estimations, the time of Christ. The first one to sample smoking the new product was an a sailor named Rodrigo de Jerez.

Smoking turned out to be bad for de Jerez in a manner unrelated to his health when he got to his hometown of Ayamote, Spain. When people saw smoke exiting his nose and mouth, they concluded that it was evidence that he was possessed by Satan. So Rodrigo wasn’t just arrested, he was taken before an inquisition. He spent seven years in prison and when he reentered society it was one that had seemingly well-embraced smoking.

As infuriating as it might have been to know he was jailed for doing something that both quickly became not only legal but popular, he actually was a fairly lucky smoker. For centuries, absurdly oppressive laws would be made to attempt to abolish the horrid smoking habit. In Great Britain, tariffs were passed and King James I personally wrote pamphlets in 1601 claiming that smoking, among other things, caused brain damage. He forbade its growth in Britain and tried to make it prohibitively expensive to tariff (a measure overruled by Parliament since it was such a vital crop for His Majesty’s American Colonies). Pope Urban VIII let it be known in 1642 that he would excommunicate any Catholic that used tobacco or snuff in a church or other holy place. In Russia, a law was passed in 1634 which made smoking punishable by whipping and nostril slitting.

For all that, it was in China and Turkey where the measures went the farthest. In 1638, the Chinese government made being in possession of tobacco punishable by death by beheading. In Turkey, however, the extremist anti-tobacco Sultan Murad IV made smoking the weed punishable by hanging, beheading, or starvation and then added the seizure of all property on top of that. Such was the degree of his craze to stamp out the demon weed that he would disguise himself and visit cafes to personally scout out smokers to have killed and their families ruined. As if that wasn’t enough, he would then order the businesses where the smoking had taken place destroyed. Part of the reason behind Murad’s anti-tobacco crusade seems to be that a horrible fire broke out in Constantinople during celebrations for the birth of his son during his reign, although there was hardly proof that smokers were responsible for it.

Many of these draconian laws were repealed within a generation because smoking was so profitable to tax and because smokers like Peter the Great of Russia ascended to power. There are certain similarities between this controversy and the one that, as of 2014, continues to surround the drug marijuana. Perish the thought that someone gets their nostrils slit for lighting a blunt.

I can just imagine what would happen if some of these anti-smoking groups were alive today! Talk about having a back up in the court system!

Coffee out on the patio today. Be warned, this is a "smoking allowed" patio!

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Sad Monday Mystery...!

Unsolved crime is always a good subject for discussion. Some unsolved crimes just linger on and on, though.

Today's mystery is one involving two children and that makes it one of the most sad. Crimes against children are, to me, the hardest to understand. I will never be able to grasp why anyone would harm a child, much less two!

 The Babes In The Woods

Every year, the remains of numerous unidentified people are found, and when no one can determine who these victims are, they are classified as John or Jane Doe. These circumstances are particularly tragic when the unidentified victims are children.

On January 14, 1953, the skeletal remains of two children were discovered under some brush in Stanley Park near Vancouver, British Columbia. The remains were covered by a woman’s rain cape. Other items found at the scene included a woman’s shoe, a fur coat, a lunch box, and a hatchet, which was likely used as the murder weapon.

Investigators determined that the victims had been dead for approximately five or six years. The two children were believed to have been between 6 and 10 years old and initially thought to be a boy and a girl. They became known as “The Babes in the Woods,” and their remains eventually wound up in a display case at the Vancouver Police Museum. In 1998, the remains were removed from the museum for DNA testing before they were finally laid to rest. The DNA tests yielded a surprising result: The two victims were actually brothers.

Years before the remains were found, two witnesses reported seeing a man and a woman walking through Stanley Park with two boys, one of whom was carrying a hatchet. Later that day, the witnesses recalled seeing the same man and woman walking alone, but the woman was now wearing only one blood-covered shoe. Unfortunately, since police initially believed that one of the victims was a girl, this lead was not properly pursued at the time. After more than 60 years, the Babes in the Woods remain unidentified.

It's sad to think that it's been this long and still no evidence to at least identify these children. Very cruel set of circumstances, if you ask me.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It may shower, but let's take a chance.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Roadrunner Sunday...!

We haven't had the roadrunner and Wile E Coyote on for a while, so I figured that today was a good day for it!

My Dad used to love the ol' Roadrunner cartoons! He really did!

You just have to love the chase and the fun these two seem to have!

Well, I hope you got a "bang" out of that last one. I reckon that's enough for today!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thanks For The Gum, General...!

I know that a while back we talked a bit about ol' Santa Anna. Folks here in Texas don't cut him much slack, I reckon.

However, there is one little thing we might just have to give him credit for as much as I hate to say it! I'll let this article from KnowledgeNuts explain it, OK?

General Santa Anna Is Responsible For Modern Chewing Gum

By Debra Kelly on Thursday, June 19, 2014

While people have been chewing on rubbery resins for centuries, chewing gum in the form that we know it now is the direct result of actions of the most unlikely of inventors: exiled Mexican revolutionary General Santa Anna. After buying into a swindle and losing much of his money, the exiled general needed another source of income and a way to finance his next revolution. He thought that was going to be using a rubbery substance called chicle as a new type of material for tires, but instead, it took off in a different direction. Now, we buy it in the form of Chiclets.

Mexico’s General Santa Anna is another historical icon that packed a lot of living into one life. A president of Mexico, he was also the general that gained most of his infamy when he led more than 1,500 men against American troops at the Alamo. People now certainly do remember the Alamo, but they’re less familiar with Santa Anna’s other contribution to today’s culture: chewing gum.

Santa Anna is something of a bizarre figure in his own right. Originally, he fought on the Spanish side in Mexico’s battle for independence from their European colonizers; eventually, he turned traitor and went to fight for the Mexicans. (His ancestry was proudly 100 percent Spanish, making him part of the upper crust.) He acted as president of a newly freed Mexico, but gave that up in order to return to a more military lifestyle—it was during this period in his life that he fought his legendary battle against the Alamo.

He was far from an unconditional Mexican favorite, though, and when he was finally captured by the American troops led by Sam Houston, he bartered for his own freedom by agreeing to tell his troops to back off. He signed away Texas in 1837, and enjoyed something of a complicated standing as he returned to Mexico, then eventually moved to—and through—Jamaica, Cuba, Colombia, and the West Indies.
It was in the West Indies that he was swindled into thinking that his presence had been requested in New York City, and that the Americans wanted him to help organize yet another Mexican revolution. It was only when he had already moved to New York, bought a house, hired staff, and spent most of his money that he realized that wasn’t the case at all.

So, he needed to find a way to keep himself on his feet and recoup all the losses he’d suffered.

He saw a way to do that in a man named Thomas Adams Sr. Adams was a part-time inventor and full-time shop owner, who was always on the lookout for the invention that would provide him with his great fortune and claim to fame.

They started to discuss a product that Santa Anna had brought with him, a rubber-like substance called chicle. A product of the sapodilla tree, chicle is a white milk that forms in the trunk of the tree and turns to a pink or brown rubbery substance after it’s extracted.

Originally, they planned on using it as a rubber substitute, but attempts to make products like tires and toys failed miserably. Santa Anna partnered with the American inventor, but soon grew disillusioned with his failed attempts and gave up on the whole endeavor. He ultimately returned to Mexico, where he died in poverty.

Adams, however, wasn’t about to give up. Instead of trying to manufacture something new out of it, he turned to using it as the natives of the Yucatan had done for centuries: He cut it into bite-sized pieces, wrapped it, and sold it as a candy. By 1871, he was able to mass-produce his candy, adding flavor to it in 1884. Other manufacturers—like Wrigley—soon jumped on board, cementing the commercial production of what had already been an unofficial fad for centuries.

Who would have ever thought that we would owe something like chewing gum to the General? Certainly not me. Guess that even folks like Santa Anna can be of some use in this world.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. Feel free to chew gum, if you want!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Horned Toad On Freaky Friday...!

What makes something freaky, you ask? Well, how about a lizard that spits tobacco juice at ya?

Actually, that's what we were told back when I was a kid. The truth is even more bizarre, if the truth be told. When I was a kid, these little guys could be found all over the central Texas area. Sadly, their numbers have greatly shrunk due to many factors. They sure were fun to play with, though.

The Blood-Squirting Lizard

When disturbed, the greater short-horned lizard of North America shoots massive quantities of blood from its eye sockets. It makes for an exceptionally effective distraction and a grotesque escape scene. And the blood’s foul-tasting chemicals can send a predator running if any gets into its mouth.

This adaptation is easier on the lizard than shedding the tail, which is the other famously grisly lizard defense mechanism. Blood is a replenishable fluid rather than a distinct body part that must be grown back. But the lizard’s ability to defend itself with blood is still limited. Small lizards could easily bleed to death in a short time by losing too much blood.

My thought on why this critter is disappearing from our locale is the Fire Ants and their ability to destroy the ants that Horned Toads used to feed on. Of course, my opinion and a dollar will get ya a cup of coffee almost!

Coffee out on the patio today. Don't worry, it's free!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Emergency Broadcast Scare Of 1971...!

During a time where the United States and Russia almost constantly feuded with one another, this had to be a scary thing!

Of course, I wonder what would happen in this day and age should an announcement like this get out, especially across the Internet? I reckon a few cages might get a little rattled, don't you?

February 20, 1971

The United States and the Soviet Union found themselves in constant world-ending scenarios during the Cold War. It’s understandable then that Americans panicked when radio and TV stations across the country suddenly left the air and issued a broadcast from NORAD to wait for an incoming emergency message from the government. 

For the audience, that could only mean one thing: World War III had begun. But after what must have been the longest 44 minutes ever, NORAD finally canceled the broadcast, to the country’s collective relief. 

Civilian employee Wayne Eberhardt from the National Emergency Warning Center in Colorado had mistakenly loaded a tape containing a code word calling for a real warning instead of a practice one, transmitting it to radio and TV stations nationwide. In the aftermath, Eberhardt—who was just as shaken up by his mistake as the general public was—kept his job. His boss subsequently moved the real warning tapes far away from the transmitter as a precaution.

I'm thinking that moving the real tapes to another far away place was an outstanding idea. Maybe a little self monitoring would have been a good idea as well!

Coffee out on the patio agan this morning.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Some "Ouch" For Western Wednesday...!

The ouch isn't from me, but rather from the subject of today's story. At least, I'll bet he said ouch!

In my opinion, this ol' boy had the worse luck you could imagine, but still lived to tell the tale! Pretty amazing stuff!

Robert McGee


It was 1864, and young Robert McGee was having a terrible year. His family had packed their bags and started moseying west, only things didn’t work out as they’d hoped. McGee’s parents met their end during the journey, leaving the 13-year-old an orphan.

Still, this was the West, where boys were men, and men kept moving. Despite his loss, McGee joined up with a wagon train heading through western Kansas. That’s when he ran straight into a group of Brule Sioux. While we don’t want to spread the stereotype that all Native Americans took scalps, this bunch certainly did. Led by Chief Little Turtle, the gang wiped out every settler but two—an unknown boy and Robert McGee. And for some sick reason, the chief wanted to personally torture Robert.

After shooting the kid in the back with his rifle, Little Turtle put two arrows in McGee for good measure. Then the chief pulled out his knife and went to work on the back of McGee’s head, hacking off 400 square centimeters (64 sq in) of skin. As the chief walked off with his trophy, his cronies stabbed McGee with a collection of pointy knives and spears. McGee was conscious the entire time.

Miraculously, the young teen survived. A group of cavalrymen found McGee and the other child on the prairie and rushed them to a nearby fort. Though the nameless kid soon died, McGee lived until at least 1890, when he posed for a cameraman and told his awful tale to a reporter. Considering he had the top of his head shaved off, he didn’t look half bad.

Considering all the bad times he went through, the man doesn't look all that bad! I'd say he was a tough old bird!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Remember Lew Wallace...?

You may remember him as a general for the Union Army, or as the appointed governor for New Mexico Territory, or even as the man that carried on  some correspondence with Billy The Kid. However, he was a little more to him than that!

At some point, he managed to have enough spare time to write a couple of books and a play. Did he write anything worth reading? Well, I'll let you decide after reading this article from Listverse!

Lew Wallace Was A Bestselling Novelist

9- wallace

Lew Wallace is best remembered by history buffs as a prominent Union general during the American Civil War. He was a lawyer before the war and afterwards he became a politician, eventually becoming the governor of the New Mexico Territory, a position granted to him by President Rutherford B. Hayes. It is at this time that one of the more unique events of his life took place—his correspondence with renowned outlaw William H. Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid. Wallace promised Bonney that he would receive a full pardon if he testified against others involved in the Lincoln County War (a promise Wallace was not able to keep).

Life in peacetime provided Lew Wallace with plenty of free time and he decided to spend some of that time writing. He first wrote a novel and a play which did not garner any significant attention, but his second novel did. It was called Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ and it became the most successful novel of the 19th century. It remained the best-selling book after the Bible until 1936, when Gone with the Wind came out. To this day it has never been out of print.

I would never have thought that ol' Wallace had it in him to write the book. He must have had a lot more spare time than I figured. He did a good job, I'd say!

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sinkhole Mystery For Monday...!

This is another one of those mysteries that takes place right here in the U.S. and can be (almost) visited!

Nature is beautiful and can be strange, as we all know. This story is a very good example of that.

Mount Baldy Sinkholes


Photo credit: Ejdzej/Wikimedia
At 37 meters (123 ft), Mount Baldy is the tallest sand dune on the southern edge of Lake Michigan. Indiana advertises the tourist attraction as “living” because it moves a meter or two every year. The dune began to move when visitors wore away the grass holding it together. That’s no mystery; it’s caused by the wind. It’s the dune’s ability to swallow children that puzzles scientists.

In July 2013, six-year-old Nathan Woessner was buried when a 3-meter (11 ft) hole suddenly formed beneath him. It took three hours to dig him out, thankfully alive. The next month, a second hole appeared. Deep air pockets aren’t supposed to be able to form in sand dunes, because the sand should immediately fill any gaps.

“We’re seeing what appears to be a new geological phenomenon,” said geologist Erin Argyilan, who is leading an investigation. She was working nearby the day Nathan was swallowed and is emotionally invested in finding the answer. 

The dune may cover trees, which rot away to create the holes. The dune was once mined to use the sand in glass making, so the phenomenon may be caused by humans. In the meantime, the dune is very much closed to the public.

I don't think that this is the place to try and build any sand castles, do you? I wonder if any of our northern readers have ever seen this place. You would tell us, right?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Chocolate pie to go along with it!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Morning Cartoons...!

It just wouldn't be Sunday without the cartoons, would it?

Once again, we are reaching back a few years so that we can get some good ones. I don't think the majority of us care for the newer ones, right?

We don't see Goofy here very often. I don't know why that is!

Good artwork on this selection of Goofy cartoons, don't you think?

Maybe just one more to start the day.

OK, that's enough of the fun stuff for now. Being it's Father's Day today, maybe you could all go celebrate it with Dad. Neither of my kids do things like Christmas, birthdays, or Father's I'll just go read a book instead!

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Some Safety Pin History...!

At different times in our history, folks have come up with some really neat inventions and then sold the patents for next to nothing.

I reckon that in hindsight, the inventors realized that wasn't always a good move on their part! Here's a case in point.

Safety Pins


Walter Hunt was a New York City mechanic and prolific inventor. He held patents for a fountain pen, knife sharpener, rifle, streetcar bell, stove, ice plow, sewing machine, street-sweeping machine, and nail-making machine, among many others.

To pay off a $15 debt to his friend, Hunt decided to invent something useful that he could quickly turn a profit on. One day, while fiddling with a 20-centimeter (8 in) piece of brass wire, it came to him. His idea was the safety pin—the first pin to have spring action and a clasp to protect the fingers.

Hunt filed the patent on April 10, 1849, which he later sold to W.R. Grace and Company for $400. With that, he paid off his friend, keeping the remaining $385 for himself. W.R. Grace and Company made millions off of the safety pin, as would Hunt, if he had kept a share of the rights.

I guess it's easy for us to sit back and say "I would have waited" but who knows? I reckon he wished he hadn't sold so cheap.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. How about some cheese and sliced fruit? 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Freaky Friday...!

Sounds almost like a movie title, doesn't it? Well, I think that from now on we'll start having some weird and freaky stories for Friday, OK?

This one should well qualify, I believe. I think that even Dizzy Dick will find this one to his liking! He likes the strange and weird post! I got this from the folks over at Listverse, so it should be well verified.

The San Pedro Mountains Mummy


Cecil Mayne and Frank Carr were prospecting in Wyoming’s San Pedro Mountains in October 1932. Hoping to find gold, they blasted through some rocks. Instead, they found a small hidden room containing a mummy. In fact, it was one of the strangest mummies ever discovered.

Seated in a cross-legged position, it was only 18 centimeters (7 in) high, and it would have measured no more than 36 centimeters (14 in) in a standing position. The mummy only weighed one-third of a kilogram (0.75 lb) and had an oddly shaped head. It didn’t look much like a human, but an X-ray eventually determined that the mummy had human bones and was likely a miniature human being.

There was much debate about how old this unidentified human could have been when he was mummified. Some experts believed that he was an infant who suffered from anencephaly and looked like an adult because of his facial deformities. However, because he appeared to have adult vertebrae and teeth, others believed the mummified individual might have been up to 65 years old when he died. This stirred speculation that the mummy originated from the Nimeragir. According to folklore, the Nimeragir were a race of “little people” who lived in Wyoming many centuries ago, but their existence has never been verified. The mummy passed through various hands over the years but seemed to disappear after its last owner died during the 1980s.

See? I told ya this was a strange and freaky tale! Just imagine what these guys thought when they found this...thing. It might be enough to give you a few nightmares, that's for sure!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Bacon sandwiches for all!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sherlock Holmes For Thursday...!

As most of my readers know, I'm a really big fan of Sherlock Holmes, and all things relating to his creation by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I believe that I've read most all of his books and stories pertaining to Sherlock.

However, this post isn't about Doyle but rather about one of his most famous stories involving Holmes. That would be the story of the "Hound of the Baskervilles" and it's inspiration!

The Creepy Inspiration For ‘Hound Of The Baskervilles’
By Debra Kelly on Tuesday, June 10, 2014

One of the most popular of the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Hound of the Baskervilles tells the tale of a family haunted by a curse that’s exacted by a vicious hellhound. The legend behind the story is that of a despised, feared, and hated man named Richard Cabell. Cabell supposedly sold his soul to the Devil, and after being entombed in a sepulchre by villagers fearful he would rise from the dead, Satan’s hellhounds returned to the grave every night, howling in frustration at being denied access to their soul.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous Sherlock Holmes stories. For those not familiar with the story, Holmes sends Watson off to investigate a mysterious murder surrounded by stories of a mysterious, spectral hound seen roaming the hills of Devonshire, supposedly part of a curse on the Baskerville family that has been haunting them for generations.

A great story, no doubt, but the real legend that it’s based on is no less creepy.

According to legend, a man named Richard Cabell lived in West Buckfastleigh in the late 17th century. A squire by trade, he was, by all accounts, an absolutely hated man known for his violent tendencies. Supposedly his family had supported the wrong side during the English Civil War, and Richard ended up marrying the daughter of the man who had imposed fines on the family and sent them into financial ruin. The marriage meant that he got his estate back, but the ending was anything but happy.

The locals were convinced that he had sold his soul to the Devil, apparently finding this a much more likely explanation for the return of his fortunes than the idea that he was just a stand-up sort of guy.

In an absolutely unproven version of Cabell’s story, it was said that his wife eventually found herself the target of his rage. (Death records show, however, that the historic wife actually outlived him by more than a decade.) Cabell was said to have chased her out onto the moors in a jealous rage one night, killing her. In retaliation, her faithful hound ripped out his throat.

Cabell was laid to rest in the local church, but the villagers were afraid that he would rise from the grave and return to torment them. Instead of a simple grave, he was buried in a sepulchre lined with iron bars and a tomb sealed with a massive slab, all designed to keep him inside.

Almost immediately, villagers claimed to hear hounds howling in the night, pacing outside of his grave. Naturally, they were the hounds of hell, sent by the Devil to collect the soul that he’d been promised. Other stories claim that the sepulchre is regularly visited by demons, hoping to succeed where the hounds have failed.

That’s not the end of the weirdness, either.

Beneath the graveyard is a series of limestone caves, stretching for miles and once home to—oddly—prehistoric hippos. Deep in the caves beneath the grave of Richard Cabell is a strange formation, occurring where a stalagmite and a stalactite have come together. Known as the Little Man, it’s said to look a little too much like a man in 17th-century clothing.

Even today, it’s said that if you run around the grave seven times and then reach through the iron bars of the tomb, Cabell will start chewing on your fingers.

There’s definitely some non-supernatural weirdness going on around his grave as well. Not long after he was buried there, the cemetery became a popular haunt for body snatchers. The church attached to it has been struck by lightning, partially destroyed by fire more than once, and decimated by German bombs during World War II. Rumor has it that it’s also a favorite haunt for Satanists, but the church now stands empty and gutted after the latest fire.

Now don't you just love the fact that I dig up these strange and weird facts to share with you? I love to share this kind of stuff!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I'm thinking some lemon pie would go good with the coffee.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What Happened To General Santa Anna...?

The Mexican general that led his troops against the Alamo is surely remembered by many, but do you ever wonder what eventually happened to him?

Over at, I found out a little more of the later years of the infamous general, and I wanted to share it with you.

Jun 22, 1876:
General Santa Anna dies in Mexico City

Embittered and impoverished, the once mighty Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna dies in Mexico City.

Born in 1792 at Jalapa, Vera Cruz, Mexico, Santa Anna was the son of middle-class parents. As a teen, he won a commission in the Spanish army and might have been expected to live out an unspectacular career as a middle-level army officer. However, the young Santa Anna quickly distinguished himself as a capable fighter and leader, and after 1821, he gained national prominence in the successful Mexican war for independence from Spain. In 1833, he won election to the presidency of the independent republic of Mexico by an overwhelming popular majority. His dedication to the ideal of a democratic role proved weak, though, and he proclaimed himself dictator in 1835.

Santa Anna's assumption of dictatorial power over Mexico brought him into direct conflict with a growing movement for independence in the Mexican state of Texas. During the 1820s and 1830s, large numbers of Euro-Americans had settled in the area of Texas, and many of them remained more loyal to the United States than to their distant rulers in Mexico City. Some viewed Santa Anna's overthrow of the Mexican Republic as an opportunity to break away and form an independent Republic of Texas that might one day become an American state.

Determined to crush the Texas rebels, Santa Anna took command of the Mexican army that invaded Texas in 1836. His forces successfully defeated the Texas rebels at the Alamo, and he personally ordered the execution of 400 Texan prisoners after the Battle of Goliad. However, these two victories planted the seeds for Santa Anna's defeat. "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad" became the rallying cries for a reinvigorated Texan army. Lulled into overconfidence by his initial easy victories, Santa Anna was taken by surprise at San Jacinto, and his army was annihilated on April 21, 1836. The captured Santa Anna, fearing execution, willingly signed an order calling for all Mexican troops to withdraw. Texas became an independent republic.

Deposed during his captivity with the Texan rebels, Santa Anna returned to Mexico a powerless man. During the next two decades, however, the highly unstable political situation in Mexico provided him with several opportunities to regain-and again lose-his dictatorial power. All told, he became the head of the Mexican government 11 times. Overthrown for the last time in 1855, he spent the remaining two decades of his life scheming with elements in Mexico, the United States, and France to stage a comeback.

Although he was clearly a brilliant political opportunist, Santa Anna was ultimately loyal only to himself and he had an insatiable lust for power. While Santa Anna played an important role in achieving Mexican independence, his subsequent governments were also at least partially responsible for the loss of the Southwest to the United States. He died in poverty and squalor in Mexico City at the age of 82, no doubt still dreaming of a return to power.

I guess like most politicians, he just didn't want to give up the power and didn't know when to call it quits. We still have some of that going on in politics today, know what I mean?

How about coffee out on the patio again this morning? Sound good?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

You Sure You Want Figs...?

Sometimes what we think we know about a certain fruit can be so wrong. After reading this article from KnowledgeNuts about the fig, you'll see what I mean!

The Disturbing Truth About Figs
By S. Grant on Sunday, June 8, 2014

If you always thought your childhood friends were pulling your leg when they told you figs were full of dead insects, it turns out they were right and you were wrong. Indeed, figs do contain digested wasps, which become trapped inside the fruit during pollination. Without this gross and deadly cycle, neither the fig tree nor the wasp could reproduce.

Figs are sweet, chewy, healthy, and yes, they do contain the digested remains of dead wasps. How did the wasps get in there? And why, if this knowledge exists, are figgy baked goods still flying off store shelves? The bizarre truth has to do with reproduction.

The whole fig-wasp relationship boils down to the fact that neither of them are very efficient reproducers; they just found an unusual way to help each other. The fig “fruit” is actually an inverted flower known as a syconium. But, because it’s inverted, most pollinating insects just can’t get to the pollen. Without pollinators, the fig tree wouldn’t bear fruit or seeds and would fail at its fundamental purpose: to produce offspring. Luckily, there is one insect, the fig wasp, that’s figured out a way to travel into the syconium and consequently pollinate the plant. Unfortunately for the wasp, the journey into the fig is a one-way trip.

Still, it isn’t all bad news for fig wasps. As mentioned, these wasps are inefficient reproducers. They need a very specific environment in which to grow and feed their larvae. It just so happens the inside of the fig is the perfect wasp nursery. So, the female wasp will travel into the fig through a tiny passage known as the ostiole. The only problem is the ostiole is so narrow the wasp’s wings and antennas are torn off as she moves down the passage, which means she’s never getting out of there. Nevertheless, this kamikaze mission has enabled her to find the ideal place to lay and nurture her eggs.

But wait, how was the fig pollinated if the wasps can only ever get inside one fig flower? Well, once the eggs are hatched, there are a bunch of male and female baby wasps. After mating, the males spend all of their short existence tunneling through the fig, so the females will have an escape route when they are fully developed. Once a female flies out, she carries a bit of pollen with her and delivers it to whatever fig she flies into next. Of course, that’s also the last fig she’ll ever crawl into. And, to complicate matters further, if she enters a “female” syconium (figs have both male and female flowers) she won’t find the perfect egg-laying ground that she’s after (as in the male syconium) and instead will get lost and eventually die in a long stylus. Although she wouldn’t be able to lay her eggs, she would have successfully pollinated the fig tree.

So now to the big question: Does this mean every time we eat a fig we’re consuming bits of suicidal female wasps and her dead male offspring? Kind of, but not really. Figs have an enzyme called ficin that breaks down the deceased wasps into protein, which become part of the ripened fruit. Nothing of the actual wasp body remains. The crunchy parts of the fig fruit are actually seeds and not leftover wasp pieces.

If you still can’t stomach eating something that was once part-wasp, there are some varieties of self-pollinating figs (usually for home growers) that don’t even involve wasps. Either way, we’ll bet you never look at a fig the same again.

I'm one of those folks that only eat figs in something like fig newtons, and I may have lost my taste for them after reading this. Way more information than I really needed to know.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Figs anyone?

Monday, June 9, 2014

The "Little Miss" Mystery...!

One of the saddest things I can think of is the disappearance or death of someones' child.

Perhaps it's made even more heartbreaking when a child is killed and cannot be identified for some reason! Such is the case of today's mystery.

Little Miss 1565

The tragic Harford circus fire has made an appearance on Listverse before: On July 6, 1944, a performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus was interrupted by a blaze that killed over 160 people. Easily the most tragic death was that of “Little Miss 1565,” a blonde girl of only a few years whose identity remains unknown. Police investigated for decades, and the child’s picture was printed in newspapers across the country, but she remained unidentified. “1565” was merely the number provided to her corpse in the city’s morgue.

Over the years, several have claimed that her name may have been Eleanor Emily Cook. Eleanor Cook was killed at the scene, but her body was never identified. She was likely one of the two children burnt beyond recognition in the fire. Although Eleanor’s mother vehemently denied that the mystery child was her daughter, the body was eventually exhumed and buried next to Edward Cook (Eleanor’s brother, who was also killed in the blaze). It is likely Little Miss 1565’s true identity will never be known.

I can't imagine what suffering the family must have gone through over the years. I believe that the not knowing for sure must be the worse part. Hopefully, none of us will ever have to go through that!

I got this story from the folks over at Listverse.

Coffee in the patio, but if starts to rain again, we'll move to the kitchen.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ready Or Not, It's 'Toon Time...!

We go through this every Sunday, don't we? Nothing ever seems to change except the character of the day!

I reckon I need to find another way to start off the Sunday postings. Ya know, something besides the 'toons. Until then, here we go!

Bugs is always good for a start. At least, it seems that way!

Ya know, Daffy has been around almost as long as Bugs. Getting old like me, I reckon!

Let's have just one more!

OK, that's enough of the silly stuff for now. I know you all have other things to do! Me...I'm gonna read a book!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Gonna be hot later, so we should enjoy the morning cool!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

I Could Do That...!

Looks almost like I was born into the wrong century!

I can't imagine what all it would take to be a real live garden gnome. Probably wouldn't be fun if someone paid you to do it. Still, it's an interesting concept, I reckon.

When Garden Gnomes Were Real People
By Nolan Moore on Thursday, June 5, 2014

Are you an 18th-century peasant short on cash? Then you might want to look into becoming an ornamental hermit. In the 1700s, aristocrats with too much money hired ordinary people to pose as monks or druids and live in their gardens for years. (And you thought Nicolas Cage bought weird stuff.)

The 18th century was a great time to be rich. Okay, sure, it’s always great to be rich, but the 1700s were a time of monumental excess and incredible debauchery. We’re talking about the era of the Hellfire Club, the Marquis de Sade, and Marie Antoinette. Of course, wealth and power didn’t always take such outlandish forms. In Gregorian England, rich nobles flaunted their wealth in a completely different—and much stranger—way. Instead of throwing elaborate parties or wild orgies, these people hired hermits to camp out on their lawns.

In 18th-century England, gardens were all the rage, but instead of simply planting a few flowers or sculpting a few topiary elephants, the British elite wanted paradises of Miltonian proportions. And what better way to capture all the elegance of Eden than hiring your own personal hermit? Looking for that ultimate garden ornament, aristocrats would hire random people to dress up as monks or druids and live in tiny houses or sometimes caves. Their contracts usually lasted for seven years, and during that time, the “hermits” couldn’t cut their hair, take a bath, or talk to anyone. Oftentimes, they were paid to walk around barefoot and were only allowed the simplest of belongings like a mat, an hourglass, and a Bible.

This absolutely bizarre practice dates all the way back to the days of Rome. According to historian Gordon Campbell, Emperor Hadrian built himself a little hermitage for his own personal use. A few centuries later, Pope Pius IV followed suit, creating his own getaway for meditation and reflection. And somehow, over the years, this idea morphed into the weirdest decorating scheme in history. Of course, assuming you weren’t some lowly tenant forced to perform for your master, “hermiting” could be a lucrative profession. People were often paid 400 to 600 pounds a year, and back in the 1700s, that was big money. For that kind of cash, they gladly let their nails and hair grow long. They even occasionally served wine at picnics in the garden.

But what would drive anyone to hire a hermit? The practice was oddly popular throughout the British Isles and even a few aristocrats on the continent got in on the craze. Why did so many people want smelly, unwashed men living in their backyards? Well, it all had to do with a bizarre obsession with the idea of “melancholia.” Evidently, 18th-century folks put a lot of stock in somberness, and nothing symbolized spiritual reflection and personal sacrifice better than a hermit. And naturally, if you owned one of these introspective actors, that you meant you were a pretty melancholy person yourself.

Of course, this bizarre custom didn’t last long, and as the 1800s rolled around, professional hermits found themselves out of a job. However, their legacy lives on to this very day. Next time you walk past your neighbor’s garden, take a quick look and see if you can spot the little red-capped man hiding in the flowerbed. That’s right. The ornamental hermit didn’t truly disappear . . . he just evolved into the modern-day garden gnome.

Now, I wonder if this means that all those little Gnomes living at the garden center are really just being paid to hang out there? Something to think about...maybe!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Watch the flower beds for movement, OK?

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Little Garden Seed Mystery...!

Now, here is one for all the folks out there that like to garden. Call it a gardening mystery, if you will!

We all know that good seeds are sometimes hard to find, right? Imagine if a large quantity of usable seeds just rained down on your house. That would certainly seem to be strange, don't you think? Well, here is the story from the folks over at Listverse!

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.

Now you have to admit that all this is rather strange. I'm not sure if I would want to eat anything that grew from those mysterious seeds, but it couldn't be much worse than some of the trash being sold in a few of the big name stores, could it?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Keep an eye out for falling seeds, OK?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

How About A Nap...?

I'm one of those folks that really believe in the benefits of a good nap! I try and take one every day!

When I was younger, I never thought about taking a nap in the daytime. Of course, back then I didn't know how much better I would feel after taking one. Now...I'm a believer!

The Benefits Of The Different Types Of Naps
By Debra Kelly on Tuesday, June 3, 2014

There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of napping, and taking differently timed naps during the day can provide you with quite the variety. Short naps lasting no more than about 20 minutes will increase your immediate processing ability, while slightly longer, 60-minute naps can provide you with a boost to your creativity. And 45-minute naps will leave you with health benefits like lowered blood pressure.

As much as we might have hated the necessity of taking naps as children, chances are good that we can’t seem to get enough of them as adults. Naps have always had a very distinct sort of stigma attached to them. However, in some parts of the world, taking a mid-afternoon nap means that you’re probably doing something you’re not supposed to be doing all night, or that you’re just inherently lazy. Other parts of the world find it absolutely acceptable to have an afternoon siesta, and according to science, they’re the ones that are getting it right.

Humans are programmed to sleep not in one eight-hour stretch, but in smaller sections. It’s been shown to reboot our brains and make us better problem solvers, learners, and workers. Not all naps are created equal, though, and how long you nap depends on what kind of benefits you’d like to get.

Many experts—such as those over at the National Sleep Foundation—recommend a relatively short nap of between 20 and 30 minutes for an immediate boost in productivity and alertness. Nap for any longer than that and you’re likely to have trouble falling asleep later.

There’s also the problem of something called “sleep inertia.” That’s the recovery time you need to wake up completely after a nap, and spending more than half an hour sleeping during the day will leave most people with a prolonged, groggy feeling that completely negates the idea of napping in the first place. This differs between people, and some of us can’t nap for more than about 10 minutes without struggling to wake up.

The improvement to alertness and brain function that we experience after a short nap lasts only between one and three hours, on average, before we’re feeling tired again. Longer naps of more than half an hour will give us a much, much longer period of feeling better, once we shake off the groggy feeling and recover from the shortened sleep period.

There’s also a very different and bizarrely specific type of nap that’s been called the six-minute nap. Because of the length of time that our sleep cycle takes, sleeping for six minutes can help us become more efficient at accessing our long-term memory. Similarly, napping through a few of these cycles can also help lengthen the improvement of our recall, as long as we’re in that six-minute time frame.

For those of us with irregular schedules, we might also try a 90-minute nap. Putting your head down for 90 minutes has been found to produce a minimum amount of the above-mentioned sleep inertia, while completing one of our full sleep cycles. This means that if we’re looking for a boost to our creativity or a little stability to our emotional state, a 90-minute nap is the way to go.

Different naps have different associations with physical benefits, too. Nap for 45 minutes, and you’ll find you’re lowering your blood pressure. Nap for 30 minutes a day on a regular basis, and you’re 37 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease.

Aside from duration, there are other differences in naps. Taking a nap purely for relaxation and enjoyment is called appetitive napping, while those who work naps into their daily schedule are habitual napping. Emergency napping happens when you’re in the middle of doing something and become so run down and sleepy that you just can’t keep doing what you’re doing without a break to recharge. And those of us that prepare for a late night out with a quick afternoon nap? That’s planned napping.

I have to thank the folks over at Knowledgenuts for proving what I always guessed at. For me, naps are a good thing. Won't make me prettier, but just makes feel better at the end of the day!

Coffee on the patio this morning. Anyone want some fruit?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mark Twain On Western Wednesday...!

I doubt if any a one writer has influenced as many folks world wide as Samuel Clemens, better known as "Mark Twain!"

I don't think he intended to be much more than a humorist, but he ended up being far more than that. I think most would agree that he left his mark on American literature for many years.

Mark Twain begins reporting in Virginia City

Writing under the name of Mark Twain, Samuel Clemens begins publishing news stories in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.

Born in Missouri in 1835, Clemens followed a circuitous route to becoming an observer and writer of the American West. As a young man he apprenticed as a printer and worked in St. Louis, New York, and Philadelphia. In 1856, he briefly considered a trip to South America where he thought he could make money collecting coca leaves. A year later, he became a riverboat pilot apprentice on the Mississippi River, and worked on the water for the next four years.

In 1861, Clemens' brother Orion was appointed secretary to the territorial governor of Nevada. Clemens jumped at the offer to accompany Orion on his western adventure. He spent his first year in Nevada prospecting for a gold or silver mine but was no more successful than the vast majority of would-be miners. In need of money, he accepted a job as reporter for a Virginia City, Nevada, newspaper called the Territorial Enterprise. His articles covering the bustling frontier-mining town began to appear on this day in 1862. Like many newspapermen of the day, Clemens adopted a pen name, signing his articles with the name Mark Twain, a term from his old river boating days.

Clemens' stint as a Nevada newspaperman revealed an exceptional talent for writing. In 1864, he traveled farther West to cover the booming state of California. Fascinated by the frontier life, Clemens drew on his western experiences to write one of his first published works of fiction, the 1865 short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." The success of this classic western tall tale catapulted Clemens out of the West, and he became a world-hopping journalist for a California newspaper.

In 1869, Clemens settled in Buffalo, New York, and later in Hartford, Connecticut. All told, Clemens spent only a little more than five years in the West, and the majority of his subsequent work focused on the Mississippi River country and the Northeast. As a result, Clemens can hardly be defined as a western writer. Still, his 1872 account of his western adventures, Roughing It, remains one of the most original and evocative eyewitness accounts of the frontier ever written. More importantly, even his non-western masterpieces like Tom Sawyer (1876) and Huckleberry Finn (1884) reflected a frontier mentality in their rejection of eastern pretentiousness and genteel literary conventions.

I know a lot of people that think Twain is an over-rated writer, but I like his style. Contrary to popular belief, I don't think he was a racist, but rather wrote in the style and language widely used at the time. In fact, I think he even apologized in the beginning of some of his books about the use of words considered offensive and explained the use of those words.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Another hot one is on the way!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Candy Goes To War...!

For all troops away from home, any type of treat like candy or gum could really brighten their day. Often the field rations for soldiers included some type of extra treat, including gum and candy and even tobacco! It made a big difference in the moral of the troops, I'm sure!

The Wartime Origins of the M&M
By Laura Schumm

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

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

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

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

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

It's funny that we don't often consider where the original ideas for some of today's products came from, but this story just goes to show that not only is history fun to learn, but it often taste good as well!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Watch out for those big ol' horse flies! Man, do they bite!

Monday, June 2, 2014

A New Monday Mystery...!

Here is one that is new enough to be interesting to some of you.

So often, the mysteries we talk about here are old and mostly forgotten. This is not the case here. The fact that it is fairly recent and still unsolved makes it even more delightful to study!

The Great Mull Plane Mystery

There is very little that makes sense about the disappearance and death of Peter Gibb. On Christmas Eve 1975, just after he’d finished dinner and a bottle of claret in a hotel on the Isle of Mull, the former Royal Air Force flying ace announced he was going out for a flight in his Cessna plane. The staff and hotel guests suggested that it wasn’t such a good idea, to which he responded “I am not asking permission, I just thought it was courtesy to let you know. I don’t want a fuss.”

He left with his dining companion Felicity Granger, a former university lecturer. She later reported that Gibb had given her instructions to stand at one end of the runway with torches to guide his takeoff. Multiple witnesses claim two torches moved independently in ways that would require another person to be helping, though Granger claimed there was only her. Gibb took off, and shortly thereafter, a sleet storm rained down that would last for 72 hours. Gibb didn’t come back.

While his motives were baffling enough, the real mystery began four months later, when Gibb’s body was found on a nearby hillside. A pathologist ruled that he had died of exposure. There was a cut in Gibb’s leg but no other injuries. Tests also concluded that neither his body nor his clothes had been in contact with the sea, so he had definitely exited the plane on land, but no one could find the plane. Mull is not a large island—about the same land area as Dallas—so the disappearance of the craft was quite troubling. A light aircraft matching the description was found in 1986 in the sea between Mull and the mainland, but the doors were locked, and the plane had apparently crashed extremely hard. The wings were a significant distance away from the rest of the fuselage. It suggested the sort of impact that a person wouldn’t get out of without serious injury.

Two explanations have been suggested, neither of which sound likely. The first is that Gibb leaped from his plane while it was in midair above the hill. He landed on the hill without suffering anything worse than a cut leg, then lay down and died in the cold. The problem with that explanation is that the aircraft would have been left to fly itself into the sea while the doors somehow locked themselves. The other theory is that Gibb was working for MI5 and had to attend to an urgent mission in Northern Ireland. He was captured by terrorists, somehow killed without being injured in any way, and his body was planted back on Mull. The light aircraft found in the sea is left out of that theory. Then again, it doesn’t make much less sense than the alternative.

Now this is the type of mystery that just screams for investigation, don't you think? I would think that with all the tools available today, or even back in the 70's, some logical explanation could be made. Still, not having a suitable answer is what makes it a mystery, right?

Today's mystery came from the folks over at Listverse, who always seem to have plenty of them to study!

Better have our coffee inside today. It appears that rain is back in the forecast!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

No Cartoons Today...!

Sorry, but I'm going to take today off. Got some things I just have to attend to.

I do appreciate you dropping by, though. I'll make it up, I promise!