Category Archives: Humorous

Looking for your roots?

We live in a time when everything has to be fast: instant coffee, microwaves that cook something in minutes that might have taken hours, drive through restaurants, drive through banks, drive through coffee shops, instant potatoes, etc. It seems that as fast as things go, we are never happy with how long certain things take!

For instance, have you ever tried to track down your family history, your roots? It can be excruciatingly painful, slow and tedious. There are companies that will do it for you (of course, it’s all computerized and they can probably get that information for you almost instantly, but they’ll still charge you for it because it means you get the information fast and you don’t have to do it yourself. Instant!

There are many interesting lessons to be learned from family trees. I feel sorry for those who really don’t know who their ancestors were. But – take heart my friends! On our way home today we stopped at a flea market that is held monthly not far from where we live. As we were walking through one of the halls, I saw this item and took the picture with my cell phone. I hadn’t realized that you can now have “instant ancestors”, too! But, here’s the photographic proof! And you don’t even to add water!

20170521_141747

So, feel free to help yourself! Just look through the collections of photos, find some “ancestors” that appeal to your sense of who you are, and you can have instant ancestors for just $4 each. Such a deal!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1942, 4,300 Jews were deported from the Polish town of Chelm to the Nazi extermination camp at Sobibor, where all were gassed to death. On the same day, the German firm IG Farben set up a factory just outside Auschwitz, in order to take advantage of Jewish slave laborers from the Auschwitz concentration camps.

Sobibor had five gas chambers, where about 250,000 Jews were killed between 1942 and 1943. A camp revolt occurred in October 1943; 300 Jewish slave laborers rose up and killed several members of the SS as well as Ukrainian guards. The rebels were killed as they battled their captors or tried to escape. The remaining prisoners were executed the very next day.

IG Farben, as well as exploiting Jewish slave labor for its oil and rubber production, also performed drug experiments on inmates. Tens of thousands of prisoners would ultimately die because of brutal work conditions and the savagery of the guards. Several of the firm’s officials would be convicted of “plunder,” “spoliation of property,” “imposing slave labor,” and “inhumane treatment” of civilians and POWs after the war. The company itself came under Allied control. The original goal was to dismantle its industries, which also included the manufacture of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, so as to prevent it from ever posing a threat “to Germany’s neighbors or to world peace.” But as time passed, the resolve weakened, and the Western powers broke the company up into three separate divisions: Hoechst, Bayer, and BASF.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In the mid-1980s, milk cartons with photos of missing children on them made their debut. The first child to appear on one of those milk cartons was Etan Patz, a 6-year-old from New York who disappeared walking to the bus stop in May 1975. He has never been found. However, in 2012, a man named Pedro Hernandez confessed to killing him.

 

Forgetfulness…and Important Reminders

_MG_7952

I don’t know about you, but I’m more forgetful than I used to be. I find myself making notes to myself about things I’m supposed to not forget – if I remember them long enough to make a reminder, that is! Sometimes I can’t remember them long enough to make a reminder! I use an online product called SmartSheet to remind me of things – both for work and in my personal life. I also use Alexa, Cortana and Google. You’d think that I’d not ever forget anything, but that’s not the case!

I can say, though, that I’ve never forgot to put on my underwear. But if not for my wife, I’d probably need a sign like this somewhere in the house (probably over my sock and underwear drawer) or I might find myself without a fresh pair to put on more often than I’d like to admit. You see, having clean underwear is just something us guys take for granted. I know we shouldn’t, but nonetheless, we do. What that really means is that we take our wives for granted – and there’s the real shame!

So, honey, thank you for all the pairs of underwear that you’ve washed for me over the years so that I’ve never needed a sign like this one – and I hope I never do!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On this day in 1861, the bloodiest four years in American history began when Confederate shore batteries under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay. During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.”

As early as 1858, the ongoing conflict between North and South over the issue of slavery had led Southern leadership to discuss a unified separation from the United States. By 1860, the majority of the slave states were publicly threatening secession if the Republicans, the anti-slavery party, won the presidency. Following Republican Abraham Lincoln’s victory over the divided Democratic Party in November 1860, South Carolina immediately initiated secession proceedings. On December 20, the South Carolina legislature passed the “Ordinance of Secession,” which declared that “the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved.” After the declaration, South Carolina set about seizing forts, arsenals, and other strategic locations within the state. Within six weeks, five more Southern states–Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana–had followed South Carolina’s lead.

In February 1861, delegates from those states convened to establish a unified government. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was subsequently elected the first president of the Confederate States of America. When Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, a total of seven states (Texas had joined the pack) had seceded from the Union, and federal troops held only Fort Sumter in South Carolina, Fort Pickens off the Florida coast, and a handful of minor outposts in the South. Four years after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the Confederacy was defeated at the total cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Approximately 600,000 Jews served in the United States armed forces during WWII. More than 35,000 were killed, wounded, captured, or missing. Approximately 8,000 died in combat. However, only two Jewish soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor in WWII.

Stating the Obvious

_MG_7951

Do you ever get annoyed by people who state to obvious? Or do you make it a habit of stating the obvious yourself? For example, “Wow! That was loud!” (Whoever you are talking to heard it, too.) Or, as in the case of Little Red Riding Hood talking to the wolf, “My, what a big nose you have!” (As if the wolf didn’t look down his long nose every single moment of every single day!)

The sign that I shot for today’s picture is of a similar ilk. And, in a way, it goes along with the meme I introduced in my post yesterday about the sign with the beer on it: maybe if people in the south have to be warned that trains sometimes use railroad tracks, there may be something to the common (mis)perception about those of us who do live here in the southern United States. Still, it’s home now, and we love it. More southern-isms in the next few days!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1870, while visiting Marathon, Greece, Lord Muncaster of Britain is kidnapped by brigands, almost resulting in war. The pirates, led by Takos Arvanitakis, were experienced in kidnapping and had used it as a lucrative source of income for many years. However, their capture of Lord Muncaster and a group of English tourists proved to be more difficult to pull off than they anticipated.

Arvanitakis and his gang demanded £50,000 for the release of the captives. King George of Greece refused their ransom demands, offering instead to exchange himself for the hostages in an attempt to appease England. However, before any further negotiations could take place, a confrontation between the brigands and Greek troops resulted in the death of just about everyone involved, including Muncaster. Arvanitakis was one of the few who managed to escape the battle with his life.

The incident caused England to threaten war, but Russia interjected by siding with Greece. The crisis was averted after Greece conducted a major crackdown on the bandits. Although few of the people they arrested had actually played any role in the kidnapping, it eased the international tensions and greatly reduced the number of subsequent kidnappings in the country.

Arvanitakis was shot and killed two years later.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Elvis Presley was famously a fan of the “Sleeping Beauty Diet,” or a diet where a person is sedated for days at time. The reasoning behind the diet was that a sleeping person wouldn’t eat.

Do the Math

_MG_7934

I know not everyone is good at math. I am OK, but I quit after taking calculus. I don’t like math. I think back now to all the algebra, trigonometry and calculus that I took and I can honestly say that other than some of the more simple things about algebra, I’ve never used any of the rest of it. Perhaps that’s because I chose fields of work where I didn’t have to do lots of math or formulas. I don’t regret that one bit.

Now, it’s true that many people think of folks who live in the south as being rather, well, uneducated and simple-minded. I haven’t personally found that to be true at all. I think by and large it’s the accent that makes people have that belief. But then you come across a sign like the one in today’s photo and then you have to wonder.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1834, a fire at the LaLaurie mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana, led to the discovery of a torture chamber where slaves were routinely brutalized by Delphine LaLaurie. Rescuers found a 70-year-old black woman trapped in the kitchen during the fire because she was chained up while LaLaurie was busy saving her furniture. The woman later revealed that she had set the fire in an attempt to escape LaLaurie’s torture. She led authorities up to the attic, where seven slaves were tied with spiked iron collars.

After Delphine LaLaurie married her third husband, Louis LaLaurie, and moved into his estate on Royal Street, she immediately took control of the large number of slaves used as servants. LaLaurie was a well-known sadist, but the mistreatment of slaves by the wealthy and socially connected was not a matter for the police at the time.

However, in 1833, Delphine chased a small slave girl with a whip until the girl fell off the roof of the house and died. LaLaurie tried to cover up the incident, but police found the body hidden in a well. Authorities decided to fine LaLaurie and force the sale of the other slaves on the estate.

LaLaurie foiled this plan by secretly arranging for her relatives and friends to buy the slaves. She then sneaked them back into the mansion, where she continued to torture them until the night of the fire in April 1834.

Apparently her Southern neighbors had some standards when it came to the treatment of slaves, because a mob gathered in protest after learning about LaLaurie’s torture chamber. She and her husband fled by boat, leaving the butler (who had also participated in the torture) to face the wrath of the crowd.

Although charges were never filed against LaLaurie, her reputation in upper-class society was destroyed. It is believed that she died in Paris in December 1842.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the horse head in the famous horse scene in The Godfather was actually a real, decapitated horse head.

Pie Face, Anyone?

_mg_7233

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.

The Joy of Leaves

_mg_7041

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.

For Your Thanksgiving Preparations…

_mg_6649

I think that Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. I remember as a young boy that lived on the farm in Iowa how we would go to my grandparent’s home (also on a farm) on Thanksgiving for dinner. The weather in Iowa then was usually pretty cool so we’d dress in a warm coat, hop in the car, and my dad would drive us the 15 miles or so to my maternal grandparents (my paternal grandparents were both gone by the time I was born).

We’d get out of the car and grandpa’s big black dog, Midnight, would come to greet us and we’d walk up the sidewalk to their farmhouse (that always seemed so big and scary to me!) and enter through the back porch. The porch, though enclosed, was still pretty cold, but once you walked through the door into the kitchen – oh, my! – the warmth of the house and the smell of the turkey being roasted made the world a wonderful place! I shall never forget those sensations and smells as long as I live. They made an impression on me that made me love this holiday from my earliest years!

Not being a woman, I don’t do a lot of the cooking (and you really wouldn’t want me to because the little bit of cooking I do never seems to turn out that well!) but I do my share of eating. So I have a deep appreciation for those who prepare meals for others – and I hope we’ll give thanks for those people this week!

When we were in Charleston, we went aboard the aircraft carrier (retired) USS Yorktown. As we wandered through the canyons and crevices of the great ship, we came to the mess hall. Stuck up on the wall was a recipe for how to make 10000 chocolate chip cookies (when you have several thousand people on board, you have to make a lot of cookies for everyone to get even two each!)

Knowing that you might be making cookies this week and feeding a mass of people at your home, I thought you might appreciate having this recipe. Oh, and if you’re not planning to feed 10,000, you can reduce it by a factor of 10 and send me any left-over cookies you have. But please, if you’re making chocolate chips cookies for me, know that I love having walnuts in my chocolate chip cookies!  Yum!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1923, the U.S. Patent Office granted Patent No. 1,475,074 to 46-year-old inventor and newspaperman Garrett Morgan for his three-position traffic signal. Though Morgan’s was not the first traffic signal (that one had been installed in London in 1868), it was an important innovation nonetheless: By having a third position besides just “Stop” and “Go,” it regulated crossing vehicles more safely than earlier signals had.

Morgan, the child of two former slaves, was born in Kentucky in 1877. When he was just 14 years old, he moved north to Ohio to look for a job. First he worked as a handyman in Cincinnati; next he moved to Cleveland, where he worked as a sewing-machine repairman. In 1907, he opened his own repair shop, and in 1909 he added a garment shop to his operation. The business was an enormous success, and by 1920 Morgan had made enough money to start a newspaper, the Cleveland Call, which became one of the most important black newspapers in the nation.

Morgan was prosperous enough to have a car at a time when the streets were crowded with all manner of vehicles: Bicycles, horse-drawn delivery wagons, streetcars and pedestrians all shared downtown Cleveland’s narrow streets and clogged its intersections. There were manually operated traffic signals where major streets crossed one another, but they were not all that effective: Because they switched back and forth between Stop and Go with no interval in between, drivers had no time to react when the command changed. This led to many collisions between vehicles that both had the right of way when they entered the intersection. As the story goes, when Morgan witnessed an especially spectacular accident at an ostensibly regulated corner, he had an idea: If he designed an automated signal with an interim “warning” position—the ancestor of today’s yellow light—drivers would have time to clear the intersection before crossing traffic entered it.

The signal Morgan patented was a T-shaped pole with three settings. At night, when traffic was light, it could be set at half-mast (like a blinking yellow light today), warning drivers to proceed carefully through the intersection. He sold the rights to his invention to General Electric for $40,000.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Aristotle’s famous division between Greek and Barbarian was not based on race, but on those who organized themselves into community city-states and those who did not. The ancient Romans categorized people not on biological race or skin color, but on differing legal structures upon which they organized their lives.

Don’t Be Fooled…

_mg_6525

Many of the old cities of the world (and new ones, too, I guess) have stories of hauntings – of ghosts that roam old buildings. There are those who make a living out of being researchers into the paranormal (may I say that I’m HIGHLY skeptical?) Every year there are shows on television (especially around Halloween) about the scariest places in the world and they take people inside to try to capture proof of hauntings. I even seem to recall one show that would pay people something like $1000 a night to spend a night in a haunted house. Often those houses are places were some gruesome murder took place.

I have a cousin who swears up and down that the house they lived in (dating back to the early 1700’s, I believe) is haunted. She’s not prone to lunacy or flights of fancy. She’s bright (strange, since she’s related to me!) and a very level-headed person. I just don’t know what to think. At least in the case of her “ghost” (she even has a name for him since he apparently died in the house long ago) he seems friendly.

Charleston has plenty of ghost stories. After all, it has a long and colorful history. And like Boston and other old cities on the eastern seaboard, they have lots of “ghost tours” that tourists can pay to experience. I didn’t do that – mind you – but I did think it was interesting that when we had walked through the cemetery at St.Philip’s in Charleston, we came across this sign at the edge of the cemetery by the street.

If you look closely, however, you’ll notice an image reflected in the marble. Could that be a ghost?

No, in case you were thinking that, it is just a reflection of the photographer – in this case, me!  Boo!!!!!!! (Now, the real question may be: what is that shadow to my right in the photo?!?!)

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: near the end of a weeklong national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington after a march to its site by thousands of veterans of the conflict. The long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the names of the 57,939 Americans who died in the conflict, arranged in order of death, not rank, as was common in other memorials.

The designer of the memorial was Maya Lin, a Yale University architecture student who entered a nationwide competition to create a design for the monument. Lin, born in Ohio in 1959, was the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Many veterans’ groups were opposed to Lin’s winning design, which lacked a standard memorial’s heroic statues and stirring words. However, a remarkable shift in public opinion occurred in the months after the memorial’s dedication. Veterans and families of the dead walked the black reflective wall, seeking the names of their loved ones killed in the conflict. Once the name was located, visitors often made an etching or left a private offering, from notes and flowers to dog tags and cans of beer.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial soon became one of the most visited memorials in the nation’s capital. A Smithsonian Institution director called it “a community of feelings, almost a sacred precinct,” and a veteran declared that “it’s the parade we never got.” “The Wall” drew together both those who fought and those who marched against the war and served to promote national healing a decade after the divisive conflict’s end.

By the way, I’d like to once again offer my thanks to our veterans, living and dead, who have served our country in both war and peace.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Every hour, humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin, or about 1.5 pounds every year. By the time a person is 70 years old, they will have lost about 105 pounds of skin.

 

Gotta Watch Out for those Southern Gentlemen!

_mg_6461

The south has a reputation for being genteel and “propuh” (southern accent style). Manners matter here – through I’m sure not as much as they did in the years gone past.

All that brings me to today’s photo and story. Very recently, I took some time off from work and we went on a mini-vacation to the southern city of Charleston, South Carolina. We’d never been there before but we met up with some friends from CA who where there on vacation, too.  We had a great time and I came away very impressed with the history of Charleston!  (I’ll have numerous posts of photos I took there so will save a lot of those stories for later posts.)

One of the things you see on many of the buildings that date back to the 1700’s, etc., are balconies outside of upper floor doors. Those balconies usually face the street. Many of those balconies are semi-circular in shape and are made out of metalwork. Now here’s where it gets interesting: in days gone by, there was, of course, no air conditioning and Charleston gets hot and humid in the summers. One of the things that the southern belles used to do was to come out on the balconies all dressed in their several layers of clothing with their hoop skirts. That’s why so many of the balconies are semi-circular.

But it gets even better. The floors of those semi-circular balconies are typically made of solid metal, not metal grate. Why, you say? Well, the ladies would come out on their balconies and the southern gentlemen would engage them in conversations from the street below. If the balcony flooring was made of metal grate construction, the “gentlemen” could peek up the ladies’ skirts!!! So, the solution was that the flooring of the balconies would be made of a solid construction to maintain the modesty of the young ladies. Bear in mind that this was in the day and age when seeing a woman’s ankle was supposed to lead to a marriage proposal!  How things have changed…

_mg_6457

Today’s photo gives you an idea what I’m describing…but these were fairly small balconies compared to some of them.  And there were a few..not many, but a few…that were made with metal grate for the floors. I suspect those were constructed more recently, but who knows?  Maybe that was where the scandalous ladies met their scandalous southern suitors!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1983, David Hendricks, a businessman traveling in Wisconsin, called police in Bloomington, Illinois, to request that they check on his house and family. According to Hendricks, no one had answered the phone all weekend and he was worried. When the police and neighbors searched the home the next day, they found the mutilated bodies of Hendricks’ wife and three children, all of whom had been hacked to death with an ax and butcher knife.

Because there was very little sign of a struggle or forced entry, police thought the crime scene was suspicious. In addition, though the killings were brutal, the murder weapons had been cleaned and left neatly near the bodies. When Hendricks returned later that day, police questioned him and checked his clothes and car for bloodstains. But the search was inconclusive, and Hendricks’ alibi—that he had left for Wisconsin just before midnight on November 4—appeared solid.

Nevertheless, with no other leads, police began to examine Hendricks’ story more closely. He claimed that he had taken his family out for a pizza at about 7:30 on November 4. According to him, they then played in an amusement area and returned home at 9:30. Hendricks left for his business trip several hours later.

But after studying the children’s bodies, medical examiners concluded that Hendrick’s story did not quite fit. Ordinarily, food leaves the stomach and moves into the small intestine within two hours. However, in all three children, vegetarian pizza toppings were still in their stomachs, which led investigators to estimate their time of death sometime around 9:30—while Hendricks was still at home.

Police charged Hendricks with murdering his family, but they still lacked a concrete motive. The Hendricks family was devoutly religious, belonging to a puritan-like group called the Plymouth Brethren.Hendrick’s defense attorney hammered away at the only physical evidence against him, pointing out that physical activity or trauma can affect the rate of digestion. Still, the jury found Hendricks guilty of four counts of murder and he was sentenced to life imprisonment on December 21, 1988.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The bird pictured on the American silver dollar was a real eagle named Peter. From 1830 to 1836, people who worked at the United States Mint adopted him to use as model for the drawings. When he died after getting his wing injured in the coining press, they stuffed him. He is still on display in the lobby of the mint.

Spidey Bites the Dust

It wasn’t that long ago and the movie, Superman vs. Batman was playing in theaters. I, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which reviews you read) missed it. Guess I’ll just have to catch it on video. But I have to say that the whole idea of Superman vs. Batman strikes me as silly for at least a couple of reasons: 1) everyone knows that Batman is just a guy in a special suit with lots of cool gadgets and that Superman is, well, supernatural and superhuman, meaning he’d kick Batman’s hiney easily; 2) everyone knows that Batman isn’t real, while Superman is!!!! Regardless, battles involving super-heroes do capture our attention and fascination.

Witness today’s photo of the superhero, Spiderman. You may not believe it, but I encountered Spiderman at the Renaissance Faire where he was casually strolling down the path with some mortals.  Then, out of the blue, this girl approached him and put him in a headlock!

_MG_4150

Now there’s a battle that was no contest!  Everyone knows that Spiderman is just some troubled young man in a funky looking suit and that no man, perhaps not even Superman, would stand a chance against a woman!  Today’s photo is proof!  And she’s enjoying choking the life out of him as you can tell!  Women of the world unite!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1949, the body of Leon Besnard was exhumed in Loudun, France, by authorities searching for evidence of poison. For years, local residents had been suspicious of his wife Marie, as they watched nearly her entire family die untimely and mysterious deaths. Law enforcement officials finally began investigating Marie after the death of her mother earlier in the year.

Marie married Leon in August 1929. The couple resented the fact that they lived relatively modestly while their families were so well off. When two of Leon’s great aunts perished unexpectedly, most of their money was left to Leon’s parents. Consequently, the Besnards invited Leon’s parents to live with them.

Shortly after moving in, Leon’s father died, ostensibly from eating a bad mushroom. Three months later, his widow also died and neighbors began chatting about a Besnard family jinx. The inheritance was split between Leon and his sister, Lucie. Not so surprisingly, the newly rich Lucie died shortly thereafter, supposedly taking her own life.

Becoming increasingly greedy, the Besnards began looking outside the family for their next victim. They took in the Rivets as boarders, who, under the Besnards’ care, also died abruptly. No one was too surprised when the Rivets’ will indicated Marie as the sole beneficiary.

Pauline and Virginie Lallerone, cousins of the Besnards, were next in line. When Pauline died, Marie explained that she had mistakenly eaten a bowl of lye. Apparently, her sister Virginie didn’t learn her lesson about carelessness, because when she died a week later, Marie told everyone that she too had inadvertently eaten lye.

When Marie fell in love with another man in 1947, Leon fell victim to her poisoning as well. Traces of arsenic were found in his exhumed body, as well as in the rest of her family’s corpses. But Marie didn’t let a little bit of pesky evidence get in her way. She managed to get a mistrial twice after trace evidence was lost while conducting the tests for poison each time. By her third trial, there wasn’t much physical evidence left. On December 12, 1961, Marie Besnard was acquitted. The “Queen of Poisoners,” as the French called her, ended up getting away with 13 murders. (This Day In History)

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: before the 1500s, couples in Europe were free to marry themselves. It wasn’t until 1564 when the Council of Trent declared marriage was a sacrament that weddings became the province of priests and churches. (Random Facts)