Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Morning Cartoons Again...!

Ya know, November is almost gone. Seems like this whole year somehow got away from me.

I'll be glad when December is gone as well. As you know, I don't care too much for the Christmas holidays anymore. But...gotta decorate and all for Mom. She sill likes it, so the tree and lights will be going up as usual. Now, let's get to the 'toons!

Four for today...and not one commercial break in between! What a deal!

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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Need Some Extra Horsepower...?

Sometimes the term big, or huge, can't even begin to accurately describe an object properly.

To say that this was one BIG motor would be an understatement. I think you'll agree when you read this story from Listverse. Heck, I can hardly afford gas for my Chevy, so I definitely don't want the fuel bill for this baby!

Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C3-
Photo credit:

The world’s longest ship, Emma Maersk, is astounding in its own right, with a size comparable to the height of the world’s tallest skyscrapers at 397 meters (1,302 feet). It’s been the record holder for the world’s longest ship since 2007, but it’s the heart of this mighty beast that’s truly staggering. It’s befitting that the longest ship on the planet be powered by the largest reciprocating engine in the world—the Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C, an engine roughly the size of a small three-story apartment building.

Without getting too technical, an engine of this size generates 110,000 horsepower and weighs 2,500 tons; compare that to the average horsepower and weight of an automobile engine at 150 horsepower and 160 kilograms (350 lb). Despite being so immense, the Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C is incredibly efficient, but nonetheless it still consumes 39.5 barrels of fuel every hour and costs $46 a minute to run.

This, my friends, is one serious engine! I can only imagine what kind of racket this rascal makes when it's running!

Coffee out on the patio today. It's sweater weather.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Maddening Race For Freaky Friday...!

This is a story that I had never heard before and I thought it was tailor-made for today.

What makes this story so timely is the fact that it happened not so long ago. I am surprised that I never read anything about this race or the folks that took part in it. All in all, it is a strange least in my eyes!

The Terrifying Race That Drove Its Entrants To Madness
By Alex Hanton on Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In 1968, the Sunday Times announced it would sponsor a race for the first person to sail solo nonstop around the world. It seemed like a great adventure. But alone for months in grueling conditions, many of the entrants started to lose their grip on sanity. Only one man would finish the race. Others would pay the ultimate price.

In total, nine boats set off from England, but four were quickly forced to drop out after developing technical problems. The early leader was a notoriously tough British army sergeant named Chay Blythe. Although he and a partner had rowed across the Atlantic in 1966, Blythe had absolutely no experience with sailing. It didn’t bother him—when he set out to row across the Atlantic, he had never even been on a boat before. As soon as he lost sight of England, Blythe realized he was completely lost and had to sail aimlessly until he spotted France. When his boat was hit by a brutal storm, he had to frantically consult a sailing manual to find out what he should do. Despite this, Blythe made fantastic time, reaching the Cape of Good Hope before a damaged boat and faulty generator forced him to pull out.

That left four entrants: Donald Crowhurst, Nigel Tetley, Robin Knox-Johnson, and the legendary French yachtsman Bernard Moitessier. To the eager readers of the Sunday Times, it seemed like the race was neck and neck between Crowhurst and Tetley. The truth was much darker. Crowhurst, an endearingly optimistic engineer who saw victory in the race as the solution to his failing business, never made it past the Cape of Good Hope. His boat was wildly unsuited to the dangerous voyage. Crowhurst had cheerfully assured his supporters that he could invent improvements to make up for any lack of funds, but this turned out to be a pipe dream. The night before he set off, he broke down sobbing, telling his wife that the boat was a disaster. Misunderstanding the situation, she assured him that he would do well. It was only later that she realized he wanted her to tell him not to go. Unable to admit to his failure, but aware he would surely die if he didn’t, Crowhurst took a third option—he decided to cheat.

Crowhurst’s plan was to sail around in the calm South Atlantic for a few months while using his radio to report false positions. He would then rejoin the race in the final stretch back toward England. To fool the sailing world required an extraordinarily clever level of deception, which the talented Crowhurst successfully pulled off. But that still left months of total isolation in the South Atlantic, unable to even keep the radio turned on for fear of giving away his true position. His logbook descended into a crazed scrawl: “If creative abstraction is to act as a vehicle for the new entity, and to leave its hitherto stable state it lies within the power of creative abstraction to produce the phenomenon!!!!!!!!!” Alone with his guilt, Crowhurst was going mad.

Meanwhile, Nigel Tetley was the true leader of the race, but Crowhurst’s false positions created the impression that he had a small lead. Tetley was a genteel, happily married man, who had only previously sailed his trimaran around Britain, but the isolation was affecting him too and he couldn’t bear the thought of coming so close only to lose. Imagining himself in a tight race with Crowhurst, he drove himself on furiously. His boat was in desperate need of repairs, but Tetley couldn’t stop—he had to beat Crowhurst. Off the Azores, almost in the final stretch of the race, he sailed headlong into a storm and sank, being rescued by a passing steamer. Unable to raise money for a new boat, he committed suicide a few months later.

Moitessier was now the true leader, but he was also beginning to crack up. After rounding Cape Horn, he failed to turn north for England. Instead, he kept right on sailing for another three months until he washed up in Tahiti. His only explanation was a note which he fired onto the deck of a passing tanker with a slingshot. It explained he was abandoning the race “because I am happy at sea and perhaps to save my soul.”

If only Crowhurst could have done the same. Descending into psychosis, he began referring to himself as the Son of God and attempted to write a new system of physics that would allow him to change reality. His logbook ranted about the nature of sin and evil, interspersed with strange cartoons. The chilling last entry notes “it is finished. IT IS THE MERCY.” Then the handwriting becomes strangely calm: “It is time for your move to begin . . . it has been a good game . . . . I will play the game when I choose I will resign game 11:20:40—there is no reason for harmful”

Those were the last words Donald Crowhurst ever wrote. His body was never found. His yacht simply drifted in the South Atlantic, covered in filth and strange electric wiring, until a mailboat stumbled on it.

The race was won by Robin Knox-Johnson, the slowest entrant but the only man to finish. It took him a little over 10 months alone at sea. The psychiatrist who evaluated him described him as “distressingly normal.”

I wonder just what would make a man take on a race like this in this day and age? Does the urge to compete drive them? Maybe it's the challenge to test their own meddle. One can only speculate, I reckon.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I still have some pie left!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Some Avocado History For Thanksgiving...!

Since today is primarily a food based holiday, let's ave a little food history to keep things interesting.

I found an interesting article about avocados that surprised me. I thought I knew a lot about the avocado, but I didn't. Guess I'm not as well informed as I thought!

Avocados, The Toxic Berry
By Jamie Frater on Monday, July 15, 2013

Avocados are toxic to almost all animals (including cats and dogs). Humans are a rare exception. It is the only fruit to contain persin, a fatty acid, which, when eaten by animals causes vomiting, diarrhea, and other nasty symptoms. Consumption of large quantities can cause death within twelve hours.

Avocados are berries (fleshy fruits coming from a single ovary). Interestingly, this broad definition of a berry means that bananas, pumpkin, tomatoes, watermelon, and coffee are also berries (you can tell that to the next person who tries to argue that tomatoes are vegetables). Curiously this also excludes strawberries as berries.

Eighty percent of modern avocados originate from one “mother” tree which was patented by mailman Rudolph Hass from California in 1935. The tree survived until 2002 when it died of root rot. Unfortunately Hass only made $5,000 in his lifetime from his patent on the tree because his partner sold cultivars to anyone who wanted to buy them. Subsequently Hass spent the remainder of his life working for the California Mail Service.

Avocado also has an interesting characteristic: it is the only berry with no living animal large enough to spread it through consumption and release as dung. This has led scientists to believe that it co-evolved with prehistoric megafauna that were large enough to eat the fruit whole. The megafauna went extinct but the avocado remained as an unusual monument to an unknown dinosaur.

Well, I hope you found this article as interesting as I did. One thing about Listverse, they always have interesting topics to discuss!

I hope you all have an enjoyable Thanksgiving Day, and can make it back home safely if you are traveling.

Coffee out on the patio today. Sweet potato pie sound OK?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fake Photos For Western Wednesday...!

Long before photo-shop and the like, making photos look like more than they were in real life took some talented (and shady) photographers.

While hey thought they were doing a good job telling the stories of the day, their actions could be considered questionable at best. From KnowledgeNuts, here's the whole story!

The Bizarre Practice Of Staging Civil War Photographs
By Debra Kelly on Monday, November 24, 2014

During the American Civil War, photography was just coming into its heyday. For the first time, civilians were able to see the horrors of the battlefield—days, weeks, and months after the fighting. Photographers, most notably Alexander Gardner, saw their documentation of the battles as a duty to capture the most moving images they could. And when they couldn’t find the right shot, they’d make it by moving the bodies and occasionally adding props.

Alexander Gardner was one of the most famous photographers from the American Civil War era. He photographed battlefields, he photographed Abraham Lincoln, and he photographed the execution of the men who had conspired to kill the president. His work had been largely forgotten for decades, only relatively recently rediscovered, along with a practice that seems pretty chilling today.

Today, fake photos are certainly nothing new. We see them every time we look at a magazine, after all, and we’re well aware that we probably shouldn’t believe anything we see on the Internet. Compared to today’s faked photos, at least those that were faked during the Civil War had authentic subjects and the best of intentions.

In 1975, historian William Frassanito was looking through some photographs of Gardner’s from the Battle of Gettysburg. They were described as showing Confederate sharpshooters lying dead on the battlefield, but Frassanito noticed something odd. There were several photos of the same man lying in different positions and even in different locations.

In one, the soldier lay on the flat battlefield. In another photo, the same dead man was in a trench, propped up, facing the camera, next to a rifle. Additional research uncovered some eerie truths.

In 1893, an assistant to Gardener had been showing some of the photographs to a reporter. According to the man, J. Watson Porter, he’d heard the story of his mentor’s work at Gettysburg. Travel being what it was during the Civil War, the photographers didn’t make it to the battlefield until some time after the fighting had come to a halt. When they did get there, they found that many of the dead had already been buried or removed from where they had fallen . . . and many of those that remained unburied weren’t in much of a recognizable condition. Then, they had come across the body of the Confederate soldier in an area called Devil’s Den.

The photographers documented where he had fallen (as pictured above), then decided that they needed some better shots if they wanted a particular reaction to their photos. So they dragged the dead man to the second location, added in a few props to make him a sharpshooter, and took more photos.

Gardener had released a book of his photos, called Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War, in 1865. He included both photographs of the unidentified man, along with descriptions of the scene. In the first, he describes how the dead man had chosen that particular spot to wait, how he had probably lay there for some time, waiting for a clear shot at the enemy until he was killed by the violent shock of a bullet. In the second photograph, the staged one, he talks about the disarray of the scene, the spot where he had taken his fatal wound, and spoke of how the soldier had clearly laid down on his blanket and waited to die from his wounds.

While that’s considered pretty unethical today (and disturbing on so many levels), at the time, photography was still a newly discovered art form. Civil War photographers knew that they weren’t just bringing the war into the homes of civilians, they were taking pictures that could be used to send a very particular message about the war, its causes, and whether or not it should be supported. Today, Gardner’s photographs are still among the best and most well-known from the war, but viewers have to wonder how many were real and how many of the dead were adjusted for artistic reasons.

I guess in this age of jaded journalism, his tactics would be considered mild. Still, if the truth is altered in the least little bit, is it still the truth?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Hopefully it will be a nice day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Dutch Got Had...!

Regardless of what we were all taught in school, the sale of Manhattan was a bigger deal than we thought!

Seems as though the "clueless" native Americans were not as dumb as we thought. In fact, I'd say they were pretty slick sales people. Guess the old saying is true...if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't!

Native Americans Didn’t Sell Manhattan For $24 Of Beads
By J. Wisniewski on Sunday, October 20, 2013

In a single landmark real estate deal, Dutch settlers supposedly purchased the entire island of Manhattan for some worthless glass beads. But what actually happened in 1626? Dutch settlers bought the use of Manhattan in exchange for iron kettles, axes, knives, and cloth. And as it later turned out, the tribe who sold the land at such a deep discount were taking payment for lands which didn’t even belong to them.

The story of the $24 Manhattan purchase is a myth which insinuates that the settlers, by virtue of being so darn clever, “deserved” the land. Of course, the valuation of anything at $24 should be immediately suspect as the dollar obviously didn’t exist in the 17th century. The idea that the goods were worth only $24 stems from a flawed currency conversion made by a 19th-century historian. And records from the time suggest it is actually the Dutch settlers who were tricked.

Letters from the period, detailing other Dutch purchases, make it clear what goods were typically exchanged for land in the American Northeast. The manufactured goods, while not extremely valuable to the Europeans, were obviously scarce in America and thus valuable to Native traders. In similar fashion, discarded beaver pelt clothing was garbage to Native Americans, yet European traders couldn’t get enough, because they used the fur to make stylish hats. Determining a trade’s winner and loser is really just a matter of perspective. “Glass beads” is a pernicious exaggeration of the idea that Manhattan was purchased for worthless goods.

Of course, the biggest problem with the Manhattan purchase isn’t the price: It’s the identity of the sellers. The Dutch conducted their business with the Canarsee tribe who were actually based out of what is now Brooklyn. However, we should be fair to perpetrators of the glass beads myth: The Canarsee probably would have taken anything in exchange for the use of Manhattan, as the island actually belonged to the Wappinger Confederacy, another group of Native Americans. As a result, the Dutch claim to Manhattan was later contested, and the Dutch compensated the rightful owners. Thus, the Dutch settlers actually paid for Manhattan twice.

Sounds to me as though the Dutch got punked...big time! Gotta watch out for those pesky native types and their wares, ya know?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Pumpkin pie and cool whip anyone?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Saturn's North Pole Mystery...!

Today for Monday Mystery we have something that is out of this world...literally!

It seems that Saturn has a shape at it's north pole that isn't often found in nature. All of the other planets have their own mysteries that we haven't discovered yet, but this one is amazing to look at, that's for sure!

Saturn’s Mysterious North Pole Hexagon
By B.G. Medul on Tuesday, December 10, 2013

When we talk of space, we almost instantly think of globes and spheres and random-shaped debris floating around. So it came as a surprise when scientists discovered what seems to be a giant hexagon cloud formation at Saturn’s north pole. Apparently, the gas giant has more to offer than just its infamous rings, but no one is really certain what is causing the weather pattern.

Saturn’s north pole hexagonal weather pattern was first observed when scientist combined the images captured by Voyager spacecrafts in the Saturn flyby missions in the early 1980s. It is a rotating cloud formation about 24,000 kilometers (15,000 mi) across. The sides of the hexagon are estimated at about 14,000 kilometers (8,600 mi) in length. Basically, it is a giant storm that can envelope four Earths inside. Another spacecraft, the Cassini, orbited and observed Saturn since 2004 but only thermal and infrared images were available then until the 15-year Saturnian dark winter ended and the springtime came in 2009.

Higher-resolution images from the Cassini spacecraft revealed that the hexagon goes down deep into the atmosphere, some 95 kilometers (60 mi) below the visible clouds from space and houses many smaller storms and a local cloud system inside. The sides of the hexagon are walls and jet streams of wind going as fast as 325 kilometers per hour (200 mph). Other features observed are concentric circles and a giant vortex in the middle not unlike Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. From the images, it appears that it has a rotational period the same as Saturn’s, a little over 10 hours and 30 minutes.

The reason for the existence of the hexagon still baffles scientists up to this date. Answers regarding the driving conditions that force the streams to form the walls are still unclear. It is also unclear how the winds maintain their momentum at such weird motion track, and ultimately, how and when the hexagon will fade from the planet’s surface. It seems that after the first time Voyager caught a glimpse of it, it still remains constant with the rotational pattern of the planet. It is significantly unchanged 30 years it was first photographed. Since it was only observed recently, we don’t know if it persisted longer than the famed Red Spot (the Great Red Spot was first observed in 1831). Saturn’s tilt relative to Earth, the 30-year-long revolution around the Sun, and the long winter nights kept the shape from our curious telescopes, so it is always necessary to employ a spacecraft like the Cassini to orbit directly above the pole.

What is notable about this formation is that the opposite pole of Saturn has an entirely different cloud pattern. On its south pole lies a great storm with what appears to be an enormous eye.

There is no other planet in the solar system that has this kind of display. Currently, scientists are still exploring the characteristics of the structure. They are presently into observing the waves that are created when the wind streams hit the hardest at the corners of the hexagon. They are also looking into a dark spot that shifts position inside the perimeter. Saturn’s hexagon is one of the few natural hexagon-shaped objects known, joining honeycomb, snowflakes, rare cloud formations, and possibly some diatoms.

Almost enough to make you dizzy, isn't it? Wonder what other mysteries are waiting out there for us to find?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. The sun is shining and temps are on the way up to the 70's.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rainy Sunday Cartoons...!

Man, it started raining late last night and hasn't stopped yet! It's wet, that's for sure!

Still, we won't let a little rain stop the 'toons, right? RIGHT!

As you can tell, these are some really old ones.

See? I told ya these were oldies!

One more for the road, I reckon.

OK...that's it for today! Time to get out a good book , sit back, and listen to the rain!

Coffee in the kitchen this wet morning!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Remember This Guy...?

Sometimes someone comes up with a radical new idea and it works out great! Trouble is, sometimes they try too hard to repeat the same thing again!

You have to wonder if the man responsible for the Heimlich maneuver might have been more than a little off-balanced. After reading a little of his history, you might agree.

The Strange Story Of Henry Heimlich
By Nolan Moore on Monday, September 22, 2014

You’ve probably don’t know Henry Heimlich, but you definitely know the life-saving maneuver that bears his name. Without a doubt, the man has saved thousands of lives around the world. However, Henry Heimlich’s story is incredibly complex, and future generations might remember him as a nut who did more harm than good.

You’re at a dinner party, enjoying a nice steak while chatting with friends. That’s when a chunk of beef gets lodged in your larynx, and all your oxygen disappears. Fortunately, a heroic guest slips up behind you, puts his or her hands under your rib cage, and gives your gut a nice, firm squeeze. A mushy piece of meat goes flying across the table, and suddenly, you can breathe again.

Known as the Heimlich maneuver, this simple yet effective method has saved thousands of lives around the world. Even your humble author once found himself called upon to rescue a coworker in distress (although it turns out the coworker wasn’t actually choking, and it ended up being a horribly embarrassing situation). But while we all know how to perform the maneuver, not many know about the man who thought it up. So who exactly is Heimlich?

Born in 1920, Henry Heimlich was a chest surgeon who’s saved more people than you’ll ever meet. During his days as a Navy medical officer, he invented a valve that keeps blood and air from rushing into chest wounds and crushing the lungs. He created a special catheter to help people with breathing difficulties and devised a way to help people with damaged food pipes swallow their food by replacing the esophagus with a piece of the stomach. He even saved a guy who was pinned under a train and whose head was submerged underwater.

And, oh yeah, he came up with the world-famous maneuver that bears his name.

Heimlich was inspired to save choking victims after learning over 2,500 people choked to death in restaurants each year. Figuring there was enough air in the lungs to force an object out of the throat, the doctor ran a few tests on man’s best friend. After sedating a dog, Heimlich took a ball of meat and shoved it down the animal’s throat. (Don’t worry—there was a string around the ball just in case things got hairy.) Practicing on the pup, Heimlich discovered if he placed his hand under the ribs, he could send the chunk of beef soaring.

Excited, Heimlich sent a report to a medical journal, and soon it showed up in newspapers like the Seattle Times. That was good news for Irene Bogachus. This Washington woman was enjoying dinner when a piece of chicken got stuck in her throat. According to the Times, Mrs. Bogachus was turning blue, and her husband ran outside for help. Fortunately, Isaac Piha lived next door. He’d recently read about the Heimlich maneuver in the paper, and several pumps later, he became the first person to save someone with the doctor’s new method.

Thanks to his technique, Heimlich became a superstar. He appeared on TV with Johnny Carson and David Letterman, and more and more people started using his method. Even famous figures like Carrie Fisher, Cher, and Ronald Reagan were saved thanks to the doctor’s work. Today, the name “Heimlich” is synonymous with “life,” but unfortunately, there’s a darker and much more dangerous side to the doctor’s story.

Heimlich eventually started preaching that his maneuver was a magical cure-all. He claimed the Heimlich could prevent asthma by expelling mucus build-up and announced it could save a drowning victim’s life. Unfortunately, both of those claims were patently false. Asthma is caused by chronic inflammation, and no amount of pushing and shoving can fix that. And as to drowning, the Heimlich maneuver has actually been proven to do more harm than good.

Surprisingly, when someone is drowning, their lungs don’t fill up with water. The throat actually seals off to keep us from swallowing water, and performing CPR restores all the air we lost. By practicing the Heimlich first, lifeguards waste precious seconds. Sadly, many groups started teaching the Heimlich was the best way to save a drowning victim. Believe it or not, things got much, much worse.

In the 1980s, Heimlich announced he’d discovered a cure for cancer, Lyme disease, and AIDS. According to the doctor, the solution was actually . . . malaria. The idea was to infect patients with the Plasmodium parasite, bringing about an extremely high fever that Heimlich left untreated for three weeks. Supposedly, the fever would kill off any viruses or cancer cells, and to prove his point, Heimlich conducted unregulated tests on human patients in China and Ethiopia.

As you might expect, doctors were horrified by this risky procedure and condemned Heimlich’s practices. Even the doctor’s own son, Peter, claimed his father was a fraud. But Heimlich’s life took an even crazier turn when the Red Cross changed their policy on his eponymous method. Not only has the organization concluded that back slaps are more effective and should be performed first, they renamed the technique “abdominal thrusts,” removing the controversial doctor’s name completely.

What was the doctor’s response? In a Radiolab interview, Heimlich declared, “Creative ideas are often attacked because people oppose change or do not understand new concepts.” One can only wonder how history will ultimately judge Henry Heimlich. Will he be remembered as a savior? Or will he be cast as a quack who did more harm than good? Only time can tell.

So what do you think? Is this guy a hero or a quack...or maybe a little bit of both? Kinda hard to say, I reckon!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Big storm is headed our way!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Stone Corpses For Freaky Friday...!

I found something really bizzare the other day over on Listverse. One more way to preserve dead bodies! Just what you wanted to hear, right?

Actually, the method described in this article is unique as far as I can tell and to date no one has been able to copy it. That makes it pretty freaky to me!

Corpses Of Stone

Photo credit: Universita degli Studi di Firenze

Mankind has been taken with the idea of preserving corpses. The oldest known mummy is that of a child of the Chinchorro people, a prehistoric fishing culture that lived along the arid coast of present-day Chile and Peru. It was carbon dated to approximately 5050 B.C., long before the Egyptians began their practice.

Born in 1792, Italian anatomist Girolamo Segato was rather obsessed with Egyptian funerary practices. He went on several archaeological expeditions to Egypt, where he became intimately acquainted with the process of mummification. Upon his return to Italy, Segato unveiled an extraordinary technique of preserving flesh—artificial petrifaction.

According to pioneering American surgeon Valentine Mott, who spent some time in Europe in the company of Segato, the Italian “had discovered a chemical process by which he could actually petrify, in very short time, every animal substance, preserving permanently, and with minute accuracy, its form and internal texture, and in such a state of stony hardness that it could be sawed into slabs and elegantly polished!”

Segato died in 1836, destroying all his notes before his passing. His collection of preserved remains was scattered, with the largest concentration located at the Museum of the Department of Anatomy in Florence. Despite extensive study, Segato’s petrification method remains a mystery to this day.

One more thing to add to our growing list of mysteries we don't know the answer to, I guess!

Well, since today is my birthday, I'm taking the rest of the day off! Yep, I hit the big "70" today! I don't know how I managed to last this long, but here I am!

Coffee in the kitchen. It's warm, but rainy outside!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Have Some More, Mr. Edison...!

It's not surprising to me that a lot of famous folks relied on some kind of drugs from time to time. What really surprised me were who some of those folks were!

Seems to me that several well known people from our past flirted with drugs and/or alcohol off and on to help sharpen their minds. Guess we can be glad not many went overboard in their use.

Thomas Edison

A famous inventor and holder of over 1,000 patents, Edison’s productivity (and frequent insomnia) may be attributed to his fondness for a drink that prominently featured cocaine. The drink, known as Vin Mariani, was a Bordeaux wine treated with coca leaves, making cocaine the active ingredient.

Edison often derided the work ethics of his colleagues, boasting that he would work for up to 72 hours before taking a brief nap. That habit certainly seems more plausible when cocaine enters the equation.

Edison was not the only one fond of imbibing this particular drink, as President William McKinley was also a frequent user. The most surprising user, however, has to be His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, who was so enthralled with it that he gave its inventor, Angelo Mariani of Corsica, a medal of appreciation.

If you would like to see who else dabbled in the use of drugs, you can find a list over on Listverse. You might be surprised at some of the names!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Shaping up to be a nice day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Panama Railroad For Western Wednesday...!

Now even though this story doesn't take place in the American West, it was close enough to the time frame and had a large enough influence on actions of the times to be listed on western Wednesday.

The whole story is a bit horrific, but almost understandable. I bet that most of us never heard of this from our history classes in school! I know I didn't!

Pickled Corpses

A half century before the Panama Canal was constructed, a railway was built to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The chief inspiration for this project was the California Gold Rush of 1849 and the mad rush to stake a claim to fortune. Men came from across the globe to work on the railway, many without any identification or known next of kin.

This feat of engineering would come at great cost to many—diseases like yellow fever, malaria, and cholera plagued the workers, and thousands died. A ban on opium caused many of the Chinese workers, who had become addicted to the drug in their homeland, to commit suicide. No official records were kept, but the death toll could have easily exceeded 10,000.

It might seem natural that the Panama Railroad Company would simply bury their dead and move on, but they had other plans. Keeping their eye on the bottom line, they pickled many of the corpses and sold them off to medical schools for experimentation. It was an exciting time in medicine—anesthesia had just been discovered, and surgeries, which had previously been hack jobs performed as swiftly as possible, became far more intricate. Bodies were in high demand, and for over five years, the Panama Railroad Company was a leading supplier.

If you want to read more about the Panama Railroad, you can do so right here! Just a tad unsettling, wouldn't you say?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Still in the 40's outside.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Language Lesson For Tuesday...!

Ya know, one thing about reading blogs and lots of books means you get a real good exposure to language of all kinds.

Now, some languages are easy to translate while others...not so much. Words and their meaning change a lot from one language to another. Most of the time, that is. However, there is one word that is the same in nearly every language we know of. That's the star of today's post!

The Single Most Powerful Word In The Entire World
By Debra Kelly on Monday, November 17, 2014

No matter where you live, where you visit, what your first language is or what other languages you know, there’s a single word that means exactly the same in every language—and everyone uses it. “Huh?” It’s the only word that’s been found to mean the same thing in every language, and no one’s entirely sure why.

“The necropants will bond to the witch’s own skin, and the magical piece of paper will ensure that there are a few more coins inside the necropants’ scrotum every day.”


No matter where you are and no matter what language that above-mentioned statement is presented in, you’ll have a suitable way to respond. With the nearly infinite amount of words and potential words that exist in our realm of language and communication, there’s one that’s universal in both pronunciation and meaning: “Huh?”

It’s not as straightforward a discovery as it might seem, either. The tricky part comes in just defining a word, as it’s easy to say that “huh” is just a sound and not a real, proper word. But it meets all the criteria of a word, and that’s important. It’s not innate, and babies don’t automatically start making that particular noise; they have to learn it. Another discerning feature is that there’s no animal equivalent of the sound—it’s not like a snort we might utter to show our disgust at something. It’s also not an involuntary response to something, it’s something we have to think about uttering. Hey presto! We’ve got ourselves a real word.

In English, “huh” can have a couple of different meanings. While it can also be used to express surprise at something, it’s also used as a short, quick indicator that you need clarification on something you didn’t hear or didn’t understand. And that’s the way that it’s been found to be used universally.

The term isn’t 100 percent interchangeable; in some dialects, such as Russian, it’s ever so slightly different. There isn’t exactly an “h” sound in Russian, so it comes out sounding a little bit more like “ah.” But it’s there and it means the same—in a way that no other words or group of words even come close to doing.

Linguists have also looked at just why “huh,” out of all the possible words, is one that’s so universal. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics suggest that it’s because of the context it’s used in. When you say “huh,” you need clarification on something, and in many cases, that something can be very, very important. It can be crucial that the listener stops the conversation before it goes any further to clarify a point, so the human race as a whole needed a quick way to do just that.

When it comes to the basics of how we communicate, there are a lot of similarities in the formation of conversations that we don’t even think about. For example, the average time between one speaker ending their thoughts and the next one taking over is only 200 milliseconds. That means we tend to prepare what we’re going to say ahead of time and need to jump in quickly if there’s something we don’t quite understand or didn’t hear. Prepared for conversation or not, by the time our brains register the fact that we didn’t understand something, “huh” is the only sound we have the time to make.

The idea of using “huh” and its mildly unique cultural variations has more to do with the environment in which speakers are conversing than about the actual language itself. Everyone, no matter what language they’re speaking, has to deal with needed clarification on things, whether it’s in Italian, Spanish, English, or something like Cha’palaa. The formation of the rather standardized word could have a lot to do with getting the meaning across with rather minimal effort and time—which could, in some cases, determine not just whether or not the listener is embarrassed, but could also be been the difference between life and death.

One thing you can say about the Hermit's place, it's never dull and you don't know what you're gonna find!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. It's cold outside!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Grooved Spheres For Monday Mysteries...!

I may have covered these spheres before, but if I did they are still worth another look. At least I think they are!

I haven't been able to find out anymore information on them that might have helped to explain what they were intended for and who made them. I'd really like to know, so if you stumble across any additional info on them, please share it with me...OK?

The Grooved Spheres

Over the last few decades, miners in South Africa have been digging up mysterious metal spheres. Origin unknown, these spheres measure approximately an inch or so in diameter, and some are etched with three parallel grooves running around the equator. Two types of spheres have been found: one is composed of a solid bluish metal with flecks of white; the other is hollowed out and filled with a spongy white substance. The kicker is that the rock in which they where found is Precambrian – and dated to 2.8 billion years old! Who made them and for what purpose is unknown.

You know, this ol' world is chock full of things we don't understand. In fact, in some cases we never even try to! WHY...well,that's a real mystery in and of itself, isn't it?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Cold and rainy outside this morning!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Sunday Of Boring Cartoons...!

Actually, considering when these were made they are pretty good! Too bad they don't make the 'toons like they used to, ya know?

I reckon folks don't watch 'toons like they used to. That's a shame, if you ask me! Anyway, here is today's choices...hope you like them!

Goofy is good for a change, right?

Ya know, there is something about the Goofy character I really like. Wonder what it is?

OK, so maybe a couple of them are more than a little silly. Who cares, right?

Alright, that's enough for today. Time to get something take a nap!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It seems to be warm enough.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Some Food History For Saturday...!

Some things that have been around for a long time have very recognizable names. Have you ever wondered just where their names actually came from? Me too!

One of these names we are all familiar with is Heinz, as in "Heinz 57"! That name has been use as a label for so many other things than just food, I thought you might be interested in it's history!

Heinz 57

The Heinz Company is known for making condiments—so many of them that the company famously adopted the advertising slogan “57 Varieties.” The company was founded in 1869 and has prospered ever since, although it took a bit of a tumble when John Kerry ran for President in 2004. Since Kerry was married to Teresa Heinz, the widow of company Heir John Heinz III, some Republicans claimed that purchasing Heinz products was “like giving to the Democrats.” Unsurprisingly, Heinz survived this backlash and continues to produce well over 57 products.

So why is the number 57 associated with Heinz? It all started in 1896, when company founder Henry Heinz was on a train in New York City and passed a sign advertising 21 different styles of shoes. Heinz thought that was brilliant—it made the company seem complex and diversified and appealed to many different tastes in shoes. By that point, his company already had well over 60 products available, but Heinz decided 57 worked better. Some sources say he considered 57 his lucky number, others claim that his lucky number was five, and his wife’s was seven. Or maybe he just liked how it sounded. Regardless, the number 57 doesn’t actually refer to 57 specific varieties of anything—it’s just a catchy marketing device.

Funny how a products name is often more popular than the company ever thought it would be! This is one of those phrases that will most likely be around forever! BTW, the people over at Listverse are responsible for letting all of us know about this!

How about coffee and hot chocolate in the kitchen this morning?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Spider Story For Freaky Friday...!

Probably nothing else gives folks the shudders more than spiders. They are not real popular with the majority of the people I know!

I found a spider story (true, of course) over at Listverse that sent shivers down my spine, for sure. Read it and you'll understand why!

Spiders In The Sky

Earlier this year, citizens of Santo Antonio da Platina, Brazil woke to find the sky full of spiders. They covered telephone poles and scurried from wire to wire, forcing all rational people to run for cover. These tiny terrors were members of the species Anelosimus eximus, a rare kind of social spider which congregates in groups up to 50,000 strong, which is too many spiders for any one place. Unfortunately, spider swarms aren’t limited to just one country.

In early 2012, Wagga Wagga, Australia was also the site of a spider invasion. When flooding forced 8,000 people from their homes, it also drove millions of wolf spiders into trees and fields surrounding the town, where they covered everything in sight with spider silk. However, these guys don’t technically spin webs. They’re ballooning—tossing a thread of silk into the air and catching a ride on the breeze. The wind carries them away from the water and towards civilization, much to the dread of Australian arachnophobes.

Now, in case the story alone wasn't enough to give you the can watch a video of spiders in the sky right here!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. It's cold and the spiders might be flying!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Consider The "Thorny Devil...!"

Talk about having a special survival skill, this little critter has one for sure!

So many things Mother Nature does for her critters would certainly be handy for humans. I reckon that nature sees that we don't use too much of the natural instincts she gave us, so figures that any more would just be a waste. Now days we depend so much on machines and technology that if we lost the use of our tech stuff...we would certainly be in trouble!

The Thorny Devil Is A Living Paper Towel

The moloch, also known as the thorny devil, is an odd lizard that looks like a throwback to the dinosaur age. They live in the deserts of Australia, where nobody messes with them because every solid inch of them is covered in wicked looking spikes. The moloch eats only ants and has a number of interesting adaptations and strategies that help it to survive in such a hostile environment. Perhaps none of them is so astounding though as the way they get their liquids.

The thorny devil can drink with its feet—or just about any other part of its body, because their skin is super-hydrophobic. Their cracked, craggy skin is covered in microscopic ravines and valleys designed to “wick up” fluids, basically repelling the water upward. It’s like what happens when you dip the corner of a paper towel in water. The water is absorbed and it climbs up the sheet, apparently in defiance of gravity. The same thing happens with the thorny devil.

Its skin uses capillary action, which is the tendency of liquids to move though narrow spaces because of intermolecular forces. It stores the water in its skin, then, by means that are not entirely understood, utilizes some movement of the jaw or tongue to pump this fluid from pockets on its face into its mouth.

The thorny devil’s entire body is a series of microscopic straws that all lead to the mouth. How would you like to be able to eat soup by standing in it? The moloch has achieved this dream. (Don’t lie: You’ve totally dreamed that.)

Ya know, this little guy sort of reminds me of the Texas Horned Toad. I don't reckon they have all the same talents as the Thorny Devil, but they sure look alike!

Better have our coffee in the kitchen this morning. It's a tad chilly outside.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another Gunfight For Western Wednesday...!

This ol'boy must have been a true "bad-ass", even though I don't remember hearing about him before.

Sounds to me like the bad guys picked on the wrong man this time. Should have just left the man alone, I reckon!

Davis–Sydney Ducks Shoot-Out

If there is one man you definitely don’t want to face in a gunfight, it’s Captain Jonathan R. Davis. On December 19, 1854, he single-handedly took on a dangerous gang of robbers and killed 11 of them.

Davis was a former army captain turned prospector. On the day in question, he was working with his two partners when they were ambushed by a band of outlaws. Almost half of the men were “Sydney Ducks,” criminal immigrants from Australia. The rest were Mexicans, Americans, Brits, and even a Frenchman, 13 in total. They were thought to be responsible for 10 murders just in the few days prior.

They charged the three prospectors, guns blazing. Davis’s partners were gunned down immediately. One died on the spot, and the other would succumb to his wounds days later. Davis had time to pull out his revolvers and start firing.

By the time he ran out of bullets, seven outlaws were on the ground. Four of the survivors decided to approach Davis with blades—three with Bowie knives and one with a sword. Unfortunately for them, Davis had his own knife and was quite adept at using it. He took turns disarming and stabbing each one of his assailants, even cutting the nose off one of them.

The remaining robbers, finally realizing they had no chance, made a run for it. Seven of their comrades lay dead at Davis’s feet, and four more later died of their injuries.

There are times that choosing what looks to be an easy target is not a good idea. I reckon this was one of those times! Thanks again to the folks over at Listverse for the article.

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. It's a little chilly out on the patio.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Other Lincoln...!

More and more each day it seems we find some bits of history about our famous forefathers. This is one such case.

I know many of us have heard the basic story of Abe Lincoln and his early struggles, but here is a tidbit from his family tree you may not have heard. Thanks to this article from KnowledgeNuts, we can all share this early history!

The Sad Tale Of The Other Abraham Lincoln
By Gregory Myers on Thursday, October 30, 2014

Everyone has heard of the famous President Abraham Lincoln, but many people don’t realize there was another Abraham Lincoln. The president was actually named for his grandfather, who was a Captain in the American forces during the Revolutionary War. Captain Abraham Lincoln was killed in a raid by Native Americans shortly after bringing his entire family to Kentucky.

Captain Abraham Lincoln was married to Bathsheba Herring and had five children—Mordecai, Josiah, Mary, Thomas, and Nancy. Thomas Lincoln would go on to father the next Abraham Lincoln, who, of course, went on to become president. Very little is known of what the captain did during the Revolutionary War, but it is believed that he played his part for the country and played it well. In many ways, he was not a very striking man. People claimed that he was plain of looks, but he still managed to marry a lovely young woman whose rich father did not approve of the union at all. Many people would call him poor, but he owned hundreds of acres of land throughout his life.

The truth is that Captain Abraham distinguished himself by his deeds. He was not known for speeches or being particularly charismatic, but he was an incredibly well-trusted militia member and spent time as a judge advocate in Virginia. Captain Abraham did not have the legal experience of his future grandson, but he was still given a position simply because of the respect in which he was held and the wisdom others knew he had.

After a time, Captain Abraham took the time to settle down and raise his family on a huge farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Unfortunately, the captain quickly started to get the itch for adventure again. The Lincolns had lived very near the Boone family and had even intermarried. Daniel Boone was famously exploring Kentucky, so Captain Abraham decided to follow his friend’s path and make his new life in the Bluegrass State. He bought a huge new farm and settled in, but things quickly went wrong. At this point in history, the Ohio River Valley and Kentucky itself were viciously contested by both the natives and the European settlers. Before long, the Shawnee had been forced their way across the Ohio River, and both groups were crossing the borders to do each other harm on a regular basis.

Sadly, this soon led to tragedy for the Lincoln family. While outside working on his land, a group of Shawnee raiders killed Captain Abraham. His son Josiah ran to the nearby fort to get help, and Mordecai ran back into the cabin, pushed a gun through the slats, and immediately avenged the death of his father. He also probably saved the life of his little brother, Thomas Lincoln, who was so distraught that he simply sat there weeping at his father’s body. The experience likely affected Thomas Lincoln greatly. Many people had trouble getting along with him in life, and he was never a great father for Abraham. That he named his son after his father shows the great impact of the sudden death. Captain Abraham has been overshadowed by his much more famous grandson, but the hugely popular president would never have existed if not for Captain Abraham.

It's amazing just how much we don't know about our very own famous past leaders. Most of us probably don't really have that much information of our own family's history. It likely contains a few surprises we may not know about!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rat Kings For Monday Mysteries...!

When I first saw this article over at Listverse, I had to wonder if these things were natural or man made. If they were man made, the next obvious question was...why?

I kept thinking maybe it was just something from log ago, but with several found in recent years that thought flew right out the window. See what you think!

Rat Kings

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Several museums around the world contain bizarre once-living artifacts of a pseudo-legendary beast from the Middle Ages called a “rat king.” A rat king is formed when several rats have their tails fused together, whether by knotting or being somehow glued together. The result is a small horde of rats all facing outward from the central knot, presumably forced to act as one composite beast. The more fanciful accounts hold that one leader rat is suspended in the middle and acts as the “head” who directs the rest—a nightmarish notion, especially considering the fears of plague that rats conjure up.

The largest of these disturbing artifacts contains 32 of the little horrors and resides at the Mauritianum Museum in Altenburg, Germany. Some existing rat kings are mummified, while others are preserved in jars. Rat kings have been found in Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Indonesia. In every case except Indonesia, the rats were black: Rattus rattus L. In the case of Indonesia, they were small field rats: R. argentiventer.

As recently as 2005, a farmer named Rein Koiv found a rat king consisting of 16 individuals (nine of which were already dead) underneath the floorboards of his farm in Estonia, their tails glued together by frozen sand. Rat kings aren’t always composed of rats; mice kings and even squirrel kings have also been reported. In June 2013, an animal clinic in Canada received quite a shock when a city worker brought in six squirrels fused to each other’s tails by tree sap. They managed to save the plucky squirrels—their tails were partially shaved but they were otherwise intact.

To be honest, I hope I never find one of these things. Just to know they actually exist in the real world is more information than I want to know!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ready For Sunday 'Toons...?

Silly question, isn't it? After all, we do the same ol' thing Sunday after Sunday. You're here, which means you know what's coming, right?

One of these days I'm gonna surprise ya and do something different. Today just isn't one of those days, though.

And just one little bit more...

OK, enough of the fun stuff. Time to go and do something grown-up, I reckon. Maybe read the funny papers!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Better Not Mess With This Duck...!

We haven't had a good animal story here for a while, so this seemed like a good time.

Now the thing don't want to get too close to this character, 'cause he is BAD! In fact, you might even say that this ol' boy is a real bully! From the folks over at KnowledgeNuts, here's an article that shows what I mean!

The Duck You Definitely Don’t Want To Mess With
By Nolan Moore on Friday, November 7, 2014

Taking a trip to Chile or Argentina? Better stay away from the water. South America is home to the steamer duck, one of the nastiest birds on the planet. Armed with bony knobs and bad tempers, these ducks will take on all comers . . . and sometimes they go hunting for helpless victims.

It’s safe to say that ducks are probably the most famous of all aquatic birds. Perhaps it’s because they look so goofy as they waddle on land, or maybe it’s because they’re so graceful as they glide across the water. Or maybe it’s Disney’s fault. Whatever the reason, ducks are some of the most beloved birds on the planet, and everybody enjoys visiting their local duck ponds and tossing scraps of bread to hungry waterfowl.

Well, everybody except people who live in Argentina and Chile. They’re probably too terrified to get anywhere close to the water, much less feed a duck. And who can blame them? After all, South America is home to the notorious steamer duck, a blood-crazed bird that’d beat Huey, Dewey, and Louie to death without ever blinking an eye.

Steamer ducks are some of the most aggressive animals on the planet. They’re fighters, not lovers, so if a stupid bird gets too close, the steamer goes into mixed martial arts mode. And that’s bad news because these ducks are big—really big. Your average-size steamer weighs about 4.5 kilograms (10 lb), has super-thick skin, and a huge neck and head. In fact, they’re four different species of steamer ducks, and three of them are so big they can’t even fly. (The fourth flies only rarely.)

Battles between male steamer ducks are quite a spectacle. If a guy spies a rival on his turf, or if he wants to impress a lady friend with his muscles, he’ll start a fight in one of two ways. He’ll either rush across the water, flapping his wings and churning water like a steamboat (thus the name), or he’ll go into submarine mode. These birds are crafty devils, and they sometimes dive under the water and sneak up on their target, with only the top of their heads and tail feathers showing. When the battle begins, males go for the neck and hold on tight. Once they’ve got a good headlock, they pull out their secret weapons. All steamer ducks come equipped with bony, keratinized knobs on their wings. They’re essentially the wildlife version of brass knuckles. While he’s hanging onto his opponent’s throat, the steamer starts thrashing and bashing. Sometimes, the ducks will drag each other under the water, pop back up a few seconds later, and keep on fighting.

These battles can go on for up to 20 minutes. That’s longer than most UFC fights.

What’s really scary is steamer ducks don’t just fight other steamer ducks. They’ll attack anything that moves. (Yes, puny human, that means you.) Even scarier, they often beat other animals to death without any provocation whatsoever. Why? To show other ducks they mean business. That’s right. Steamers beat up other birds to make an example out of them. Sometimes they’ll even sneak up on grebes and coots and mess them up just to send a message.

Needless to say, steamer ducks aren’t very popular. When other birds (or people for that matter) see them coming, they take off running. And since there aren’t many predators big enough to pose a threat, it looks like the steamer duck will be ruling the roost for quite some time. All hail the steamer duck!

Ya know, I'm just thinking out loud here but if you have a "special" ex-MIL or maybe a brother in law you need a holiday gift for...this might fill that need! Just don't tell them where you got the idea from, OK?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Cool but dry!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Creepy Burial Practice For Freaky Friday...!

Burial rites and practices have changed over the years and will probably continue to do so for a long time.

Many of these practices seem odd and extreme to us now, and with good reason. They had a very high creepy factor! This article from Listverse shows just what I mean!

Thousands Of Dead Under Church Floorboards

Before separate cemeteries were created in old England, the preferred place to bury the dead was in churchyards. There was much profit to be made from this practice. A particularly famous and grim example of the profit from London’s prolific dead occurred at Enon Chapel. The preacher of the church, who was motivated by profit, began to inter the city’s dead at a rate of 30 per week beneath the floorboards of his church. The piles of dead bodies kept accumulating until there were over 12,000 bodies. This was unsustainable for a church basement, and compromises were made.

Corpses were stacked to the ceiling, and the gases seeping through the floorboards caused parishioners to faint and children to be accosted by corpse flies during Sunday school. Eventually, the basement couldn’t hold all the bodies so the dead were carted away to be dumped in the Thames River. Occasionally, parts fell out of the carts during such journeys. This horrified local residents who found skulls littering their streets. The chapel was eventually shut down once authorities discovered what was happening, though it was later bought by another party and turned into a dance hall. The parties were called “dances of the dead.”

I'm sorry, but this is definitely NOT a church I would want to attend! I'm funny that way!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Donut holes for everyone!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

How's This For Scary...?

If you think that a nuclear threats are never present inside the borders of the U.S., better think again.

The scary part is when you find out that WE caused the threat to ourselves!

Minot, North Dakota

Don’t think that fumbles with nuclear weapons are a thing of the past; the most recent such incident happened in 2007 at the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

The mission was supposed to be pretty simple—deliver a load of unarmed AGM-129 ACM cruise missiles to a weapons graveyard. A dozen of them were loaded onto a B-52, six on each side. The officer in charge came and gave a quick inspection with a passing glance at the missiles on the right side before signing off on the mission. If he bothered to look on the left side, he would have noticed something quite interesting—the six missiles were all still armed with nuclear warheads, each with the power of 10 Hiroshima bombs.

This fun fact went unnoticed for the next 36 hours. During that time, the missiles flew across the country to Louisiana without any kind of safety protocols in place or any other procedure normally required when transporting nuclear weapons.

In the end, things turned out fine, which is why this incident was never classified as a broken arrow. Rather, it’s a “bent spear,” an event involving nuclear weapons of significant concern without involving detonation. Even so, when word got out, the public was quite distressed to find out exactly how easily six incredibly dangerous nuclear weapons can get misplaced through simple error.

Now, I don't know about you but this makes me more than just a little uncomfortable. Wonder how many other times something like this has happened and we were never told?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. If it doesn't rain, we can move outside.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Will Rogers On Western Wednesday...!

Not many men are more recognized from our early days as Will Rogers. I'm sure that most of us remember him from some of the early films he did, or from reading some of his more famous quotes.

This article from tells a little of his history as an entertainer, and I think you'll find it interesting.

Nov 4, 1879:
Will Rogers is born in Oklahoma

On this day, the cowboy philosopher and humorist Will Rogers, one of the most beloved entertainers of the early 20th century, is born on a ranch in Cherokee Indian territory.

The son of a respected mixed-blood Cherokee couple, William Penn Adair Rogers grew up riding and roping on the plains of Oklahoma. An indifferent student, he earned only average grades in school, but he was by no means the ill-educated common man that he later liked to pretend. He was, in fact, highly literate and well read. In 1898, he left his family ranch to work as a Texas cowboy, and then traveled to Argentina where he spent a few months as a gaucho. But Rogers discovered his real talent when he joined Texas Jack's Wild West show in 1902 as a trick roper and rider under the stage name "The Cherokee Kid." For all his skill with ropes and horses, Rogers soon realized that audiences most enjoyed his impromptu jokes and witty remarks. Eventually, Rogers began to focus on making humorous comments on world events and created a popular vaudeville act with which he traveled the country.

In 1919, Rogers' first book, The Peace Conference, was published. In the 1920s, he achieved national fame with a series of movie appearances, radio shows, lecture tours, magazine articles, and regular newspapers columns. Amazingly prolific, Rogers eventually wrote seven books, an autobiography, almost 3,000 short commentaries called "daily telegrams," more than 1,000 newspaper articles, and 58 magazine articles. Rogers' warm, folksy manner and penetrating wit were hugely popular during the Depression, and his concern for the welfare of average folks was genuine. He contributed frequent charitable performances in support of the victims of floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes worldwide.

On August 15, 1935, Rogers was on a flight to Asia with the famous pilot Wiley Post when the craft developed engine troubles and crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska. The crash killed both men. Rogers was only 55.

Funny how you sometimes find out things about someone that proves they were more than they seemed to be. Such was the case with Will Rogers. A true American entertainer worth a great deal of respect!

Coffee out on the patio today, if that's OK with ya'll.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

An Invite From Grandma...!

Baby Sis sent this one to me and it hits home enough that I wanted to share it with you! After all, it is almost the holidays, right?

Dear Family,

I'm not dead yet. Thanksgiving is still important to me.

If being in my Last Will and Testament is important to you, then you might consider being with me for my favorite holiday.

Dinner is at 2:00.
Not 2:15.
Not 2:05.
Two. 2:00

Arrive late and you get what's left over.

Last year, that moron Fred, fried a turkey in one of those contraptions and practically burned the deck off the house. This year, the only peanut oil used to make the meal will be from the secret scoop of peanut butter I add to the carrot soup.

Jonathan, your last new wife was an idiot. You don't arrive at someone's house on Thanksgiving needing to use the oven and the stove. Honest to God, I thought you might have learned after two wives - date them longer and save us all the agony of another divorce.

Now, the house rules are slightly different this year because I have decided that 47% of you don't know how to take care of nice things. Paper plates and red Solo cups might be bad for the environment, but I'll be gone soon and that will be your problem to deal with.

House Rules:

1.The University of Texas no longer plays Texas A&M. The television stays off during the meal.

2.The "no cans for kids" rule still exists. We are using 2 liter bottles because your children still open a third can before finishing the first two. Parents can fill a child's cup when it is empty. All of the cups have names on them and I'll be paying close attention to refills.

3.Chloe, last year we were at Trudy's house and I looked the other way when your Jell-O salad showed up. This year, if Jell-O salad comes in the front door it will go right back out the back door with the garbage. Save yourself some time, honey. You've never been a good cook and you shouldn't bring something that wiggles more than you. Buy something from the bakery.

4.Grandmothers give grandchildren cookies and candy. That is a fact of life. Your children can eat healthy at your home. At my home, they can eat whatever they like as long as they finish it.

5.I cook with bacon and bacon grease. That's nothing new. Your being a vegetarian doesn't change the fact that stuffing without bacon is like egg salad without eggs. Even the green bean casserole has a little bacon grease in it. That's why it tastes so good. Not eating bacon is just not natural. And as far as being healthy... look at me. I've outlived almost everyone I know.

6.Salad at Thanksgiving is a waste of space.

7.I do not like cell phones. Leave them in the car.

8.I do not like video cameras. There will be 32 people here. I am sure you can capture lots of memories without the camera pointed at me.

9.Being a mother means you have to actually pay attention to the kids. I have nice things and I don't put them away just because company is coming over. Mary, watch your kids and I'll watch my things.

10.Rhonda, a cat that requires a shot twice a day is a cat that has lived too many lives. I think staying home to care for the cat is your way of letting me know that I have lived too many lives too. I can live with that. Can you?

11.Words mean things. I say what I mean.
Let me repeat: You don't need to bring anything means you don't need to bring anything. And if I did tell you to bring something, bring it in the quantity I said. Really, this doesn't have to be difficult.

12.Dominos and cards are better than anything that requires a battery or an on/off switch. That was true when you were kids and it's true now that you have kids.

13.Showing up for Thanksgiving guarantees presents at Christmas. Not showing up guarantees a card that may or may not be signed.

In memory of your Grandfather, the back fridge will be filled with beer. Drink until it is gone. I prefer wine anyway.
But one from each family needs to be the designated driver.

I really mean all of the above.

Love You,


Call me crazy, but I agree with a whole lot of what Grandma says. Time to start making "family gatherings" more about the family, don't you think?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Almost feels like Spring again out there!

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Tale Of Ravens For Monday Mysteries...!

So many legends and myths we've heard over time include ravens and crows, we have to wonder why.

Whatever it is about these birds that sparks our imagination has been around for a very very long time. Maybe the Ancients knew something that we don't, ya reckon? Well, here is yet another story to ponder.

St. Vincent’s Ravens

Ravens are often connected with holy figures as well as the demonic. St. Vincent has a raven as one of his symbols in addition to the cross and fire. Like many Catholic saints, St. Vincent’s end was a bloody one. He served under the Bishop of Saragossa in Spain, and when the Roman Emperor Diocletian brought his condemnation of the Christians to Spain, it was Vincent who acted as the spokesperson for the bishop and for the Church. After he was imprisoned, tortured, and then imprisoned again, his faith began encouraging others around him to convert to Christianity—quite the opposite of what the Romans intended.

Not surprisingly, the emperor was less than thrilled about this. He put the still-living Vincent on display as a warning, which also failed. Vincent died while still in prison on January 22, 304, and his body was thrown into a bog where it was meant to be food for scavengers. A raven landed near the body, though, and chased away any animal that got too close. The body was then thrown into the ocean, but washed up several days later, at which point it was recovered by his followers and given a proper burial. Later, in 1173, St. Vincent’s bones were taken to Lisbon after the city declared him its patron saint. It was said that a group of ravens escorted his bones to Lisbon Cathedral, and for nearly 800 years, the descendents of those ravens lived at the cathedral. Unfortunately, the last of St. Vincent’s ravens died in 1978.

So, can you remember any stories or urban legends from around your area that inclde ravens or crows? If so, share them with us. I'm always in the mood for a good mystery story, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Chilly but it's dry, OK?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 2nd Cartoons...!

Hard to believe but it is already November! Time to set the clocks back and get ready for Winter, ya know?

Maybe we should enjoy what good weather we have left with some old fashioned 'toons!

Even the characters in the 'toons have to winterize, I reckon.

Won't be long before Winter is here, even in the South!

Winter is necessary, I reckon...but I'd rather have Spring and Summer all the time. Maybe a touch of Fall once in a while!

Hot coffee out on the patio this morning. Anyone rather have hot chocolate?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Killer Fog...!

Just when we get to thinking our weather is bad, along comes a reminder of just how fortunate we really are.

Of all the natural disasters in history, this one sort of stands out to me, mainly because some of the resulting deaths might have been prevented.

The Fog That Killed 12,000 People
By Debra Kelly on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In 1952, weather conditions led to a massive smog descending on and gathering over London. Visibility was less than 30 centimeters (12 in), the air was black with coal and pollution, and the usually bustling city ground to a standstill. By the time the smog had cleared, 4,000 people had died from exposure to the pollution, and another 8,000 would die in the following weeks from complications. The smog would lead to increased awareness of the problems of pollution over city centers.

London has long had something of a romantic relationship with their fog. Our image of the Industrial Revolution often involves people wrapped in long trench coats, making their way through the pea soup that’s settled over the streets, barely pushed back by the gas lamps that line the sidewalk. That’s not an old image, either; in 1952, a smog settled over London that not only stayed for four days, but led to the deaths of more than 12,000 people.

On December 5, 1952, several factors came together in what would be a deadly mix. A prolonged cold spell meant that people were firing up their home heating units, meaning smoke was pouring from every residential chimney in earnest and for days, more smoke was added to the already heavy output that was gushing from factories across the city. A relatively new phenomenon was also adding to the problem—cars. An anti-cyclone was hovering over the area, keeping the smog from rising off the city. The wind that normally would have helped disperse the smoke had died, and smoke kept building up until the city turned black.

At the height of the event now dubbed The Great Smog, visibility was so bad that it was impossible for people to see their own feet. Cars were abandoned in the street as people sought shelter indoors, although they were no better off. People were so distracted by the fog that many lost track of friends and family members, whom they would later find had died in what they thought was the safety of their own homes.

Some did make it to hospitals—on foot, as even the ambulance services had stopped running. Nurses recount admitting patients whose lips had turned blue, patients who were struggling to breathe against the suffocating smoke. In the four days that the smog had settled over the city, about 4,000 people suffocated. For many fairly healthy individuals, the smog was survivable—but among the dead were children, the elderly, and chronic smokers whose lungs and respiratory systems were already comprised.

Schools closed, and so did airports and train stations. Buses stopped running, and among the first to die were the cattle that were on sale at the Smithfield Market. When they were butchered, it was found that their insides had turned black from the smoke and their meat was unusable. People’s clothes were permeated; even underwear turned black.

Winds came on the fourth day, and cleared out much of the smog. For many, the damage was already done, though, and another 8,000 people would die in the following weeks from smog-related illnesses.

The Great Smog of 1952 wasn’t the first time the city had been halted by smog and coal tar in the air. In December of 1873, the death toll was about 40 percent higher than usual because of the smog that settled over the city. Other smogs happened in 1880, 1882, 1891, and 1892, most severe around areas where there was a heavy concentration of factories and, consequently, workers.

After The Great Smog of 1952, legislation was passed to begin eliminating coal use in factory and residential fires. Originally, paraffin was used in place of coal, but the deadly event led to a long-lasting awareness in the city of the potential impacts of pollution.

Just imagine how something like this could have affected a large city here, like New York City. When the air gets bad enough to turn black, we are all in trouble! Know what I mean?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Don't worry, there's no fog...yet!