Category Archives: Children

Pie Face, Anyone?

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Pie Face. I guess that it was one of the hot items this last Christmas. Since I don’t have little kids anymore, I guess I’m somewhat out of touch with the hottest kids trends, but I was introduced to Pie Face over the Christmas holidays when our youngest granddaughters received it as a gift.

Here’s how it works: you put your face inside of a circle. You put whipped cream on the purple hand and turn a crank the number of times that is specified on a spin dial. Sometimes the hand stays “locked” and doesn’t throw the whipped cream in your face, but other times, well, let’s just say you get “pie faced”!  The picture was shot inside on a cloudy day and things were moving fast…so that’s why it’s blurry!  I didn’t have my flash with me!

This is one of my granddaughters. Do you think she was having fun?!?! Do you think she liked it when she got “pie faced”? Oh, yeah!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On this day in 1493, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, sailing near the Dominican Republic, saw three “mermaids”–in reality manatees–and described them as “not half as beautiful as they are painted.” Six months earlier, Columbus (1451-1506) set off from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean with the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, hoping to find a western trade route to Asia. Instead, his voyage, the first of four he would make, led him to the Americas, or “New World.”

Mermaids, mythical half-female, half-fish creatures, have existed in seafaring cultures at least since the time of the ancient Greeks. Typically depicted as having a woman’s head and torso, a fishtail instead of legs and holding a mirror and comb, mermaids live in the ocean and, according to some legends, can take on a human shape and marry mortal men. Mermaids are closely linked to sirens, another folkloric figure, part-woman, part-bird, who live on islands and sing seductive songs to lure sailors to their deaths.

Mermaid sightings by sailors, when they weren’t made up, were most likely manatees, dugongs or Steller’s sea cows (which became extinct by the 1760s due to over-hunting). Manatees are slow-moving aquatic mammals with human-like eyes, bulbous faces and paddle-like tails. Some think manatees evolved from an ancestor they share with the elephant. The three species of manatee (West Indian, West African and Amazonian) and one species of dugong belong to the Sirenia order. As adults, they’re typically 10 to 12 feet long and weigh 800 to 1,200 pounds. They’re plant-eaters, have a slow metabolism and can only survive in warm water.

Manatees live an average of 50 to 60 years in the wild and have no natural predators. However, they are an endangered species. In the U.S., the majority of manatees are found in Florida, where scores of them die or are injured each year due to collisions with boats.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: During WWI, British tanks were initially categorized into “males” and “females.” Male tanks had cannons, while females had heavy machine guns.

Has anyone seen my cookie?

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Well, the holidays have come and gone and it’s time to get back into the swing of things. I hope your holidays were as wonderful as mine…and if they weren’t, I’m truly sorry. I know that holidays can be very difficult times for some.

A week before Christmas, we had our son who leaves in this area and his family over for a pre-Christmas get together. Our two youngest granddaughters belong to this son, and grandma decided to have them decorate Christmas cookies. It was hilarious!  Some of the cookies were beautifully decorated and took quite some time….but the 5 year old was more into how much frosting you could get on one cookie…and sprinkles, of course!  In fact, today’s photo is of one of her cookies…but can you see it?  Can you tell what it is?  It’s a candy cane!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1999, after three days of high winds and heavy snow, people in the Great Lakes region began digging out from one of the worst blizzards on record. More than 100 people died in storm-related accidents.

The storm began on January 1, when snow began falling across Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. Most areas saw at least 15 inches of snow before the storm moved on. The hardest hit area was Chicago, where wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour combined with heavy snow to reduce visibility to near zero at times and create huge impassable drifts. O’Hare Airport, one the nation’s busiest, had to shut down, stranding 200,000 people for as much as four days. The weather also made train travel through the area impossible, and mail across the country was delayed because of the blizzard.

The storm caused treacherous road conditions throughout the region. A 60-car pile-up on January 2 in Wisconsin resulted in scores of injuries and one death. In Indiana, a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 65 was closed for a full two days. When the snow finally stopped on January 3, record cold temperatures arrived. In Congerville, Illinois, a state record low of -36 degrees was reached. In the aftermath, President Bill Clinton declared Illinois and Indiana disaster areas and sent federal relief.

As the storm moved east, serious accidents followed in its wake. A 15-car pile-up on I-81 in Virginia killed four people and a 50-car accident in New Jersey injured dozens. There were 200 separate accidents on the New York Thruway alone during the blizzard. When the storm reached Buffalo, it began a two-week period during which the city received a remarkable 60 inches of snow. Still, Buffalo was prepared and able to plow the snow to make streets passable. In Detroit, a shortage of snow plows combined with the subsequent cold weather left some streets blocked for more than a week.

In all, more than 100 deaths–as many as 36 from heart attacks–were attributed to the terrible blizzard of January 1999.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Penguins find all their food in the sea and are carnivores. They eat mostly fish and squid. They also eat crustaceans, such as crabs, shrimp, and krill. A large penguin can collect up to 30 fish in one dive. Penguins (and any animal) that eat only fish are called piscivorous.

 

 

Catchin’ some SERIOUS Air

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Down here in Georgia, there is a fun-house for kids called Catch Air. My grand daughters love to go there. There are all kinds of bounce house-like thingies, slides, places to climb, and it’s all fun all the time for the kiddos. 

Well, today’s picture shows that you don’t have to be in a bounce house to catch some serious air. When the grand daughters came over for Thanksgiving, we made that huge pile of leaves that I wrote about before. In today’s photo, my 8-year old grand daughter (who is truly a gifted young athletic kid) was running toward the pile of leaves that was originally up to about her chest, if not her shoulders, and with wild abandon she launched herself into the air to crash into the pile with all the exuberance she could muster in her 8-year old self. That’s her style, though…she doesn’t hold back on much of anything! I think she could leap a tall building in a single bound if she chose to do so. Of course, today she’d get covered in red Georgia clay-mud as it’s cold, wet and cloudy, so I’m glad she didn’t try this today!

When is the last time you launched yourself into a huge pile of leaves? Isn’t it about time?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1952, heavy smog begas to hover over London, England. It would persist for 4 days, leading to the deaths of at least 4000 persons. 

It was a Thursday afternoon when a high-pressure air mass stalled over the Thames River Valley. When cold air arrived suddenly from the west, the air over London became trapped in place. The problem was exacerbated by low temperatures, which caused residents to burn extra coal in their furnaces. The smoke, soot and sulfur dioxide from the area’s industries along with that from cars and consumer energy usage caused extraordinarily heavy smog to smother the city. By the morning of December 5, there was a visible pall cast over hundreds of square miles.

The smog became so thick and dense that by December 7 there was virtually no sunlight and visibility was reduced to five yards in many places. Eventually, all transportation in the region was halted, but not before the smog caused several rail accidents, including a collision between two trains near London Bridge. The worst effect of the smog, however, was the respiratory distress it caused in humans and animals, including difficulty breathing and the vomiting of phlegm. One of the first noted victims was a prize cow that suffocated on December 5. An unusually high number of people in the area, numbering in the thousands, died in their sleep that weekend. (Galen: I hope this isn’t giving you nightmares!)

It is difficult to calculate exactly how many deaths and injuries were caused by the smog. As with heat waves, experts compare death totals during the smog to the number of people who have died during the same period in previous years. The period between December 4 and December 8 saw such a marked increase in death in the London metropolitan area that the most conservative estimates place the death toll at 4,000, with some estimating that the smog killed as many as 8,000 people.

On December 9, the smog finally blew away. In the aftermath of this incident, the British government passed more stringent regulations on air pollution and encouraged people to stop using coal to heat their homes. Despite these measures, a similar smog 10 years later killed approximately 100 Londoners.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: body language is a strange thing, yet the study of it is a scientific discipline of it’s own. For example, in Asia, kissing is considered such an intimate act that it is not permissible in public, even as a social greeting. A woman has a wider-ranging peripheral vision, which allows her to check out a man’s body from head to toe without getting caught. A male’s peripheral vision is poorer, which is why a man will move his gaze up and down a woman’s body in a very obvious way. Men do not “ogle” more than women—their tunnel vision means they just get caught more easily.

The Joy of Leaves

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I like to photograph leaves in the autumn. I haven’t really done that this year and it is really too late now. Alas. I love the way they change colors and how a single leaf can break out in a flurry of various colors and shades. They are amazing and it delights me to see them.

But, perhaps there is no greater joy of leaves than that which comes to a child who can run and jump into a big pile of leaves!

On Thanksgiving day, our youngest son and his family came to our house for the Thanksgiving celebration. Prior to their arrival, my wife and I had raked up a HUGE pile of leaves for the purpose of letting their kids have some fun with the leaf pile. Fortunately, we have NO shortage of leaves as our home is surrounded by tree and backs right up to the Dawson forest with no fence in the back yard. So the leaves were plentiful!

I shot over 200 pictures of the little girls giggling, running, jumping, leaping, turning somersaults and messing up the pile of leaves we’d worked so hard to create. Did I mind that the pile got destroyed? Absolutely not! That was the point, after all!

And then this morning after church, our youngest grand daughter crawled up in my lap and said, “Pop-pop, it was SO MUCH FUN playing in the leaves at your house the other day!”  (I have one sequence of shots when she was running to the pile, jumped in, got twisted around, and at one point, only her rear end and shoes were sticking out of the leaves…but she emerged with a huge grin and laugh! I laughed so hard when I saw the pictures of that sequence!!!

Guess what? I’ll rake up a big pile again next year and let them destroy it again – laughing all the time!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1703, an unusual storm system finally dissipated over England after wreaking havoc on the country for nearly two weeks. Featuring hurricane strength winds, the storm killed somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 people. Hundreds of Royal Navy ships were lost to the storm, the worst in Britain’s history.

The unusual weather began on November 14 as strong winds from the Atlantic Ocean battered the south of Britain and Wales. Many homes and other buildings were damaged by the pounding winds, but the hurricane-like storm only began doing serious damage on November 26. With winds estimated at over 80 miles per hour, bricks were blown from some buildings and embedded in others. Wood beams, separated from buildings, flew through the air and killed hundreds across the south of the country. Towns such as Plymouth, Hull, Cowes, Portsmouth and Bristol were devastated.

However, the death toll really mounted when 300 Royal Navy ships anchored off the country’s southern coast—with 8,000 sailors on board—were lost. The Eddystone Lighthouse, built on a rock outcropping 14 miles from Plymouth, was felled by the storm. All of its residents, including its designer, Henry Winstanley, were killed. Huge waves on the Thames River sent water six feet higher than ever before recorded near London. More than 5,000 homes along the river were destroyed.

The author Daniel Defoe, who would later enjoy worldwide acclaim for the novel Robinson Crusoe, witnessed the storm, which he described as an “Army of Terror in its furious March.” His first book, The Storm, was published the following year.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A modern coin-counting machine can count 2,500 coins a minute. A bank note-counting machine can tally up to 100 bills in 4 seconds. It can also tell what denomination they are and if they are fake.

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

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In 1963, the immortal Nat King Cole released an album titled “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer.” Though the album only rose to #14 on the Billboard’s LP chart, I recall that song perfectly well, even though I was just a kid in those days. There was a certain lift to the song…it lifted spirits and captured the innocent days of summer that were such a fond part of my life. The lyrics:

CHORUS: Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer

Just fill your basket full of sandwiches and weenies
Then lock the house up, now you’re set
And on the beach you’ll see the girls in their bikinis
As cute as ever but they never get ’em wet

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You’ll wish that summer could always be here

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer

Don’t hafta tell a girl and fella about a drive-in
Or some romantic movie scene
Right from the moment that those lovers start arrivin’
You’ll see more kissin’ in the cars than on the screen

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You’ll wish that summer could always be here
You’ll wish that summer could always be here
You’ll wish that summer could always be here!

Well, I was too young to know about drive-in’s and kissin’ girls and such stuff, but the chorus has never left my memory!

It is August 21. We have had a hot summer in the state of Georgia. Right now, our oldest son, who lives in Oregon, has been having triple-digit temperatures while we’ve been cooler than that here. And today, oh wonderful!, it is cooler here. There’s been a breeze blowing about all day and as I type this, the thunder is rolling through the treetops and the rain has begin to fall. The forecast for the next 15 days shows cooler weather than we’ve had nearly all summer…and that begins to hint to me that the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer may soon be starting to fade into the crispness of fall. I certainly hope so.

But there is something to be said for those summer days where children, like my two granddaughters in the photo I took, play away the days without a care in the world. Playing by the lakeside, eating bar-be-cue, laughing and goofing around…these are the kinds of days and things that I hope they will remember all the days of their lives – just as I recall the lyrics to this song!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1863 a ruthless band of guerillas attacked the town of Lawrence, Kansas, killing every man and boy in sight. The town was an abolitionist, pro-Union stronghold, and the guerillas, led by William Quantrill and William “Bloody Bill” Anderson,were said to have carried out the brutal attack on behalf of the Confederacy. Included in their group was Jesse James’ brother Frank and Cole Younger, who would later also play a large role in the James gang.

Bloody Bill Anderson got his name for his love of shooting unarmed and defenseless people. Reportedly, he carried multiple handguns, in addition to a saber and a hatchet. His horse was also outfitted with several rifles and backup pistols. Although he claimed to have political motives for his terrorism, Anderson more likely used the Civil War as an opportunity to kill without repercussion.

Jesse James, only 17 at the time, teamed up with Bloody Bill after he split from Quantrill’s band of killers. On September 27, 1864, their small splinter group terrorized and destroyed most of the town of Centralia, Missouri, and killed 22 Union solders.Later that day,they ambushed and killed 150 more Union men. A month later, Anderson paid for his crimes: He was caught by a full contingent of Union army troops in Missouri and killed in the ensuing battle. Jesse James was never brought to justice by the North for his war crimes and went on to become the 19th century’s most infamous criminal.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: why is it that we seldom seem to learn that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence?  Over 75% of people who marry partners from an affair eventually divorce.

Soap Bubble Girl

I suspect that every grandparent has nicknames for their grand kids.  I know I do.  They don’t necessarily all love the nicknames that I have for them, but I love to tease them with their nicknames. And they have nicknames for me, too!

One other thing to set the stage for today’s photo: kids love to blow bubbles. In fact, so do grown-ups, right?!  I mean, it’s just plain fun!

We recently hosted our youngest son’s family for a BBQ and we had purchased bubble making stuff for each of those present.  It didn’t take long for the smiles to break out all over the place!  Bubbles were flying everywhere and laughter rang through the trees. What a great time we had!

Now, for the connection between nicknames and soap bubbles. This particular grandchild that is featured in today’s photo has the nickname “Soap Bubble Coconut Head Monkey”.  The last three words were because she used to call me a “Coconut Head Monkey”, but the first two, I told her, were because she was so bright and shiny and fun like a soap bubble! So, world, meet Soap Bubble Coconut Head Monkey girl!  She’s so full of joy and life and I love her so much!

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ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1963, sixteen-year-old Pauline Reade is abducted while on her way to a dance near her home in Gorton, England, by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, the so-called “Moors Murderers,” launching a crime spree that would last for over two years. Reade’s body was not discovered until 1987, after Brady confessed to the murder during an interview with reporters while in a mental hospital.

Brady and Hindley met in Manchester in 1961. The shy girl quickly became infatuated with Brady, a self-styled Nazi, who had a substantial library of Nazi literature and an obsession with sadistic sex. After photographing Hindley, Brady sold his amateur pornography to the public.

In order to satisfy their sadistic impulses, Brady and Hindley began abducting and killing young men and women. After Pauline Reade, they kidnapped 12-year-old John Kilbride in November and Keith Bennett, also 12, in June the next year. The day after Christmas in 1964, Leslie Ann Downey, a 10-year-old from Manchester, was abducted.

In 1965, the couple killed a 17-year-old boy with a hatchet in front of Hindley’s brother-in-law, David Smith, perhaps in an attempt to recruit him for future murders. This apparently crossed the line for Smith, who then went to the police.

Inside Brady’s apartment, police found luggage tickets that led them to two suitcases in Manchester Central Station. They contained photos of Leslie Ann Downey being tortured along with audiotapes of her pleading for her life. Other photos depicted Hindley and Brady in a desolate area of England known as Saddleworth Moor. There, police found the body of John Kilbride.

The Moors Murderers were convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1966. Their notoriety continued after it was revealed that a guard at Holloway women’s prison had fallen for Hindley and had an affair with her. For his part, Brady continued to confess to other murders, but police have been unable to confirm the validity of his confessions.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: To die honorably, the defeated Roman gladiator would grasp the thigh of his victor who would then hold his opponent’s head or helmet and plunge a sword in his neck. To make sure the gladiator was not faking his death, an attendant dressed as Mercury would touch him with a hot iron rod and another attendant dressed as Charon would hit him with a mallet.

The Truth About Butterlies and Princesses

There are many, many questions that mankind has wrestled with since the dawn of time. Some are profound: Why are we here? Where are we going? What happens after we die? Based upon our beliefs about the answer to those questions, we change the course of our lives…or we try to. 

Some questions are less profound, but very personal: what will a do for a career? Who should I marry or should I not marry at all? Where will I live? How do I feel about myself and others?

And then there are questions that a absolutely, totally all consuming and the answer to them can change seemingly everything. They say that the camera doesn’t lie, and when I see pictures of myself I can see the harsh reality of that saying. But one of the huge questions I’ve always wondered about was this: do princesses and butterflies eat cookies?  

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Today I present you with the photographic evidence: the answer is YES! (And from the looks of it, apparently they like it, too!)

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1967, Israel responded to an ominous build-up of Arab forces along its borders by launching simultaneous attacks against Egypt and Syria. Jordan subsequently entered the fray, but the Arab coalition was no match for Israel’s proficient armed forces. In six days of fighting, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the Golan Heights of Syria, and the West Bank and Arab sector of East Jerusalem, both previously under Jordanian rule. By the time the United Nations cease-fire took effect on June 11, Israel had more than doubled its size. The true fruits of victory came in claiming the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan. Many wept while bent in prayer at the Western Wall of the Second Temple.

The U.N. Security Council called for a withdrawal from all the occupied regions, but Israel declined, permanently annexing East Jerusalem and setting up military administrations in the occupied territories. Israel let it be known that Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai would be returned in exchange for Arab recognition of the right of Israel to exist and guarantees against future attack. Arab leaders, stinging from their defeat, met in August to discuss the future of the Middle East. They decided upon a policy of no peace, no negotiations, and no recognition of Israel, and made plans to defend zealously the rights of Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories.

Egypt, however, would eventually negotiate and make peace with Israel, and in 1982 the Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in exchange for full diplomatic recognition of Israel. Egypt and Jordan later gave up their respective claims to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinians, who opened “land for peace” talks with Israel beginning in the 1990s. A permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement remains elusive, as does an agreement with Syria to return the Golan Heights.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: If melted into liquid form, the amount of water in Mars’ southern polar cap would cover the entire planet to a depth of about 36 feet.

Uh, oh! What have I done!?!?!

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There are many reasons to enjoy a Renaissance Faire. The costumes are amazing, the food is pretty good (my favorite is a BBQ’d turkey leg!), interesting events such as jousts and jugglers, jokers and magicians. Oh, and for those so inclined, there are craft shops and kids activities, too! 

Just about 100 yards inside the entrance to the Faire about a month ago, a large, rather scary looking man was standing there with an axe and a wheel that you could spin. There were various things on the wheel and if you spun the wheel and if it landed on “Tar and Feathers”, well, that was your “sentence”.  My 7-year old grand daughter, decked out in a costumer and probably not realizing what was up, boldly (as is her nature!) walked up to the man to see what was going on. He invited her to spin the wheel and she give it a big tug and it spun around and around. It landed on “water torture”.  

The man walked over and picked up a bucket with water and asked her (very friendly-like) if she was ready. At that moment, she turned and looked at her dad and I got this picture. It was a moment of pure childish innocence and bewilderment with a tinge of delight.

As it turns out, he didn’t throw the bucket of water on her (though it might have felt good as it was a warm day!), but just pulled out a spray bottle and spritzed her a bit.  She was relieved!  And so, I think, was her dad and little sis!!!!

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Heavy fog caused a collision of boats on the St. Lawrence River in Canada that killed 1,073 people on this day in 1914. Caused by a horrible series of blunders, this was one of the worst maritime disasters in history.

The Empress of Ireland left Quebec on May 28 with 1,057 passengers and 420 crew members on board. At 2:00 a.m. the following morning, the Empress was near Father Point on the St. Lawrence River when thick fog rolled in. A Norwegian coal freighter, the Storstad, was approaching as visibility was reduced to nearly nothing.

Although each ship was aware of the other, the Storstad failed to follow standard procedures for fog conditions, which call for stopping when visibility is drastically reduced. The Storstad only slowed, while the Empress came to a complete stop. The Storstad hit the Empress mid-ship and sliced through its hull. Captain Thomas Anderson of the Storstad made matters even worse by failing to reverse engines after the crash. He proceeded directly ahead, crushing many people on board and turning the Empress over onto its side. Anderson later told investigators he had feared reversing would have allowed water to rush into the hole.

This was a colossal error. The Empress sank in just 14 minutes, taking the great majority of its passengers with it. Only 217 passengers and 248 crew members survived the collision. The subsequent investigation placed most of the blame on Captain Anderson, but found the Empress had also ignored some critical precautions that would have saved many lives. Because of the risk of collision, the Empress should have sealed its watertight doors, which would have minimized damage from a crash; it did not.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The country whose people eat the most chocolate is Switzerland, with 22 pounds eaten per person each year. Australia and Ireland follow with 20 pounds and 19 pounds per person, respectively. The United States comes in at 11th place, with approximately 12 pounds of chocolate eaten by each person every year.

 

The Child Lingers…

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Christmas has come and gone. Family members may have already left and returned home. The decorations will soon come down, the tree will be removed and we’ll start the long march until next Christmas.

All over the world certain phenomena occurred on Christmas morning. Mom’s and dad’s got down on the floor and played with the kid’s toys. It may have been the railroad set, the electric cars, a drone outside in the yard, Lego’s or other “you build it” kinds of toys.

We were at our youngest son’s home for Christmas day. One of the family gifts that gave to their entire family was Keva Maple Planks. How can I explain them? They are somewhat like the old Lincoln logs, except they are all the same size and shape and you build things with them simply by stacking them in creative ways. Our two youngest grand daughters had been playing with them before we go there and they eagerly showed them to us.

After Christmas dinner, our son disappeared into the other room and we quickly found him playing with the Keva Maple Planks. It took me back to the days when he and his older brother and sister would get Lego’s by the bucketful for Christmas and they’d play with them for hours. Even today, when we get together, if there are Lego’s, they’ll play with them.

There is something about us that I think is fascinating – a part of childhood remains with us even into our old age. Maybe it’s because of memory, or perhaps it is a self-defense and mechanism of denial about our aging. But I think it is more likely that when we play like children, the burdens of adulthood disappear for a while. And we feel young and carefree once more.

Maybe Christmas should come more often!

ON HIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1975, a coal mine explosion followed by a flood killed at least 372 workers in Dhanbad, India, on this day in 1975.

Hundreds of miners were working at the Chasnala Colliery on the evening of December 27 when an explosion suddenly shook the large mine. In virtually all coal mine disasters, the precise cause of the explosion is never determined, but the nature of mines leaves only a few probable causes. Often pockets of highly flammable gas develop, including methane, which can be released suddenly during mining. When a surge of gas from an unknown pocket fills the mine, even a small spark from the mining equipment can trigger an explosion. Today, owners attempt to ventilate the mines to prevent this occurrence. Also, extremely fine dust from the coal can circulate and suddenly combust within a mine or explosives used in the mining process can be mishandled, leading to disaster.

Whatever the exact cause of the Dhanbad mine explosion, the disaster was compounded when the ground shook so violently that millions of gallons of water from a nearby reservoir flooded into the pits. Miners who survived the initial blast were trapped under a mountain of debris and drowned when the water surged into the mine. Rescue workers attempted to dig out survivors until January 19, but no one was saved. In fact, only a small portion of the bodies were ever recovered.

The local workers union claimed that there were nearly 700 workers killed in the mine, but the company maintained that there were only 372. Because so many bodies were not recovered and the state of record-keeping at the mine was so shoddy, the truth will never be known.

 

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:

Ferocious Little Things

Fierce face...don't be scared!!!
Fierce face…don’t be scared!!!

There are lots of fierce things in the world: tigers, lions, leopards, great white sharks, orcas, wolverines, brizzly bears, polar bears…the list of great and ferocious creatures is long!

Not all fierce things, however, are large. Some are small: killer bees, scorpions, wasps, hornets, and believe it or not, hummingbirds. You probably didn’t know that hummingbirds are fierce. They have been known to attack much larger animals in an attempt to keep them away from the hummingbird’s food source.

Perhaps, though, the most ferocious small thing of all is my youngest granddaughter, the subject of today’s photo. Her dad asked her to show me her fierce face – and she did. If this isn’t fierce, I don’t know what is!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 48 B.C., upon landing in Egypt, Roman general and politician Pompey was murdered on the orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt.

During his long career, Pompey the Great displayed exceptional military talents on the battlefield. He fought in Africa and Spain, quelled the slave revolt of Spartacus, cleared the Mediterranean of pirates, and conquered Armenia, Syria, and Palestine. Appointed to organize the newly won Roman territories in the East, he proved a brilliant administrator.

In 60 B.C., he joined with his rivals Julius Caesar and Marcus Licinius Crassus to form the First Triumvirate, and together the trio ruled Rome for seven years. Caesar’s successes aroused Pompey’s jealousy, however, leading to the collapse of the political alliance in 53 B.C. The Roman Senate supported Pompey and asked Caesar to give up his army, which he refused to do. In January 49 B.C., Caesar led his legions across the Rubicon River from Cisalpine Gaul to Italy, thus declaring war against Pompey and his forces.

Caesar made early gains in the subsequent civil war, defeating Pompey’s army in Italy and Spain, but he was later forced into retreat in Greece. In August 48 B.C., with Pompey in pursuit, Caesar paused near Pharsalus, setting up camp at a strategic location. When Pompey’s senatorial forces fell upon Caesar’s smaller army, they were entirely routed, and Pompey fled to Egypt.

Pompey hoped that King Ptolemy, his former client, would assist him, but the Egyptian king feared offending the victorious Caesar. On September 28, Pompey was invited to leave his ships and come ashore at Pelusium. As he prepared to step onto Egyptian soil, he was treacherously struck down and killed by an officer of Ptolemy.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: No U.S. president has ever been an only child.