Category Archives: Uncategorized

Catching Light in a Bottle

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Have you heard the expression, “Catching lightning in a bottle”? Well, this isn’t lightning, but it is a close relative. I mean, after all, it’s electricity – and so is lightning.

Someone got clever and decided to make a hanging lamp out of a mason jar. I thought it might make an interesting shot. Rather shocking what some folks come up with, isn’t it?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1782, 160 Pennsylvania militiamen murdered 96 Christian Indians–39 children, 29 women and 28 men–by hammering their skulls with mallets from behind as they kneel unarmed, praying and singing, in their Moravian Mission at Gnadenhuetten in the Ohio Country. The Patriots then piled their victims’ bodies in mission buildings before burning the entire community to the ground. Two boys managed to survive, although one had lost his scalp to his attackers. Although the militiamen claimed they were seeking revenge for Indian raids on their frontier settlements, the Indians they murdered had played no role in any attack.

This infamous attack on non-combatants led to a loss of faith in the Patriots by their Indian allies and reprisals upon Patriot captives in Indian custody. The Indians resurrected the practice of ritualized torture, discontinued during the Seven Years’ War, on the men they were able to apprehend who had participated in the Gnadenhuetten atrocity.

Although the Moravians and their Indian converts were pacifists who refused to kill under any circumstances, they found other ways to assist the Patriot cause. Like other Indian allies who refused to kill fellow Indians, they aided the Patriots by working as guides and spies. The German Moravian missionaries were also supplying the Americans with critical information, for which they were later arrested and tried by the British.

None of this protected the Indians when 160 members of the Pennsylvania militia decided to act as judge, jury and executioner. The Delaware Indians they murdered were neutral pacifists. Their Christian missionaries were aiding the Patriot cause. Furthermore, they did not live in the manner described as savage by European settlers–they were instead engaged in European-style settled agriculture in their mission village. There was no political, religious or cultural justification for the militiamen’s indiscriminate brutality during the Gnadenhuetten massacre; the incident is sadly illustrative of the anti-Indian racism that sometimes trumped even political allegiances during the American Revolution.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman took the first acid trip in 1943 while he was conducting tests for a migraine cure in Basel, when he accidentally absorbed the LSD compound through his fingertips.

Boxed

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One of the things that I like best about going to the flea market that I wrote about yesterday is the old wood that is there. Sometimes, they are just old barn boards or slices of trees and at other times it is wood that has been painted or stained to look old or antique. I have to admit that I’m not an aficionado of antiques so I could be easily duped. But I know what I like to see and try to take photos of the old (or old-looking) wood when I get the chance.

Today’s photo was shot at that flea market. I liked the way these old wooden boxes looked and how they were stacked atop each other in a non-symmetrical way. I even liked the color that had been applied to them.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, I didn’t buy them!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 2002, the defense rested in the trial of Andrea Yates, a 37-year-old Texas woman who confessed to killing her five young children by drowning them in a bathtub. Less than a week later, on March 13, Yates was convicted and sentenced to life in prison; however, her conviction was later reversed.

Andrea Pia Kennedy was born July 2, 1964, in Houston, Texas, and married Russell Yates on April 17, 1993. The couple’s first child, Noah, was born in February 1994. Three more boys followed, in 1995, 1997 and February 1999. Later that year, Yates attempted suicide twice and was diagnosed with psychosis and postpartum depression. She was also advised not to have any more children; however, in November 2000, she gave birth to a daughter. Several months later, she had another breakdown and was hospitalized.

After her husband, a NASA employee, left for work on the morning of June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the bathtub of the family’s suburban Houston home. Afterward, she called 911 and then phoned her husband to tell him he needed to return home immediately. Police found the body of the Yates’ oldest son Noah, age 7, face-down in the tub. Yates had placed the bodies of her four younger children—John, 5, Luke, 3, Paul, 2, and Mary, 6 months—next to each other on a bed and covered them with a sheet. She confessed her actions to police and later made statements that she heard voices and believed she was saving her children’s souls by killing them.

At her 2002 trial, Yates’ attorneys argued that she was insane, while the prosecution charged she failed to meet Texas’s definition of insanity because she was able to tell right from wrong. After deliberating for less than four hours, a jury found Yates guilty, rejecting her insanity defense, and she was sentenced to life in prison. In 2005, a Texas appeals court reversed the conviction and granted Yates a new trial after it was learned that prosecution witness Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist, gave erroneous testimony that had influenced the jury. On July 26, 2006, a jury found Yates not guilty by reason of insanity. Since that time, she has been committed to a state mental hospital in Texas.

Russell Yates was supportive of his wife in the aftermath of the murders, blaming her behavior on severe mental illness and also criticizing her doctors for failing to properly treat her condition. In turn, he was criticized for being controlling and for leaving his wife unsupervised at the time she killed their children, when he had been advised not to do so. Russell Yates filed for divorce in 2004 and remarried two years later.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Charles Manson

How to Beat the Tax Man

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Well, first of all, let me say that the title to this post might hold true if you were living back in New Orleans in the late 1800’s, but I’m pretty doggone sure that what I’m about to tell you won’t work in these modern times. Sorry…

I took today’s photo a couple weeks back when my wife and I went to the Lakewood 400 Flea Market. I normally don’t like going to flea markets, but this one is different. It’s 95% indoors and takes place in a very large building that has numerous “halls” and each hall is jam-packed with crafts, furniture, trinkets, and all sorts of fascinating stuff. Some of it is even worth buying, but that’s not typically why I go. I go because it’s a photographer’s delight. It is held once a month and starts on Friday and ends on Sunday. And, get this, you an even buy food and popcorn there! Yippee!

Anyway, this last time we were there we came across an old antique wardrobe from New Orleans. It was clearly old and had been painted over a number of times, but the paint job on it was still very interesting though there was a patina of yellow to it. Someone had clearly loved this piece of furniture (as we did!)  The person who was selling it gave us a bit of the story of how folks back in the day tried to beat the tax man in New Orleans. Here’s the story:

Apparently, back in the 1800’s when this piece of furniture was created, in New Orleans they taxed your home based on how many rooms your house had in it. It didn’t matter too much how big the rooms were, but it was the number of rooms that mattered. In order to try to keep their tax bills down, people started getting smart and they stopped building closets in their house because the taxing agents considered a closet a “room”. And wardrobes, like the one we were looking at, became the rage because they weren’t rooms! Pretty clever, eh? I wonder how long it was before the tax assessor figured that one out!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: one hundred and one years ago today, during a punishing snowstorm, the German army launched a new attack against French forces on the high ground of Mort-Homme, on the left bank of the Meuse River, near the fortress city of Verdun, France. The Battle of Verdun itself began February 21, 1916, with a German bombardment on the symbolic city of Verdun, the last French stronghold to fall during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Though the Germans had advanced speedily since the start of their advance, capturing Verdun’s major protective fort, Fort Douaumont, on February 25, the French were by no means ready to give way, and the battle soon settled into a stalemate, with heavy casualties on both sides. On the night of Douaumont’s capture, General Philippe Petain took over the French command of the Verdun sector, vowing to hold the fort at all costs and inflict the maximum number of German casualties in the process. The German objective was similar: in the words of General Erich von Falkenhayn, chief of the general staff, they aimed to bleed the French white.

Knowing the Allies planned to launch a major offensive at the Somme River that July, the German high command was determined to keep French troops and resources devoted to the defense of Verdun throughout the spring. To do this, Falkenhayn determined that he needed to change the focus of the German attacks, shifting them from Verdun and the inner ring of forts that protected it—the core of Petain’s defensive strategy—to the flanks of the French lines surrounding the city.

To that end, on March 6, after receiving fresh artillery supplies, the Germans attacked along the west bank of the Meuse, beginning the so-called Battle of the Flanks with a preliminary artillery bombardment every bit as intense as the one of February 21. Although under heavy fire from French artillery positions, the Germans managed to cross the river at Brabant and Champneuville to step up their assault on Mort-Homme, which held, though 1,200 French soldiers were captured over the course of two days’ fighting. The Germans made good progress in the area in general, however, capturing nearby positions before the French began their aggressive counterattacks. The struggle for Mort-Homme itself went on for more than a month, with thousands dying on both sides of the line, but the Germans never captured the position.

Fighting at Verdun would continue for 10 months, making it the longest battle of World War I. Paul von Hindenburg—who replaced Falkenhayn that summer—finally called a halt to the German attacks on December 18, after more than a million total casualties had been suffered by German and French troops.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Consumers spend about $662 million on fireworks each year. Sparklers are considered one of the more “sane” fireworks, but are deceivingly benign. They can actually burn as hot as 2,000° F.

 

 

Near the Glorious End

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I took this photo of a butterfly in a greenhouse near Charleston, SC at a place called Boone Hall Plantation. It was in early November and the warmth of the summer and fall were about to pass from memory as cooler temperatures set in.

We’d been told that there were still some plants worth looking at in the greenhouse, and some butterflies, too, though the latter were almost all gone – they don’t live long once cooler temps come rolling around.

Still, I was happy to get this photo before there were no butterflies at all left. Now that this one has been captured, its glory is preserved forever.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1991, a massive car and truck collision in Coalinga, California, killed 17 people. More than 100 vehicles were involved in the accident on Interstate 5, which was caused by a dust storm.

Interstate 5 runs north and south between Southern California and Northern California. On Saturday, November 29, there was considerable traffic on the highway as people were returning home after Thanksgiving. The area of the highway near Coalinga in the San Joaquin Valley is usually prime farmland. However, in 1991 many farmers had decided not to plant their fields because of severe drought conditions, leaving long stretches of dusty soil near the highway.

As the winds strengthened to nearly 40 miles per hour on November 29, dust swept over the highway, severely hampering visibility. Suddenly, a chain reaction of collisions developed over a mile-long stretch of the highway. One hundred and four vehicles, including 11 large trucks, were involved in the massive collision. It took hours for the rescuers to find all the victims in the continuing dust storm. Seventeen people lost their lives and 150 more suffered serious injuries. Meanwhile, thousands of people were trapped in their cars for the nearly an entire day until the highway could be cleared enough for traffic to pass.

The same stretch of highway was the scene of a similar, but smaller, incident in December 1978 when seven people died and 47 were injured in a large chain collision. Another storm in December 1977 caused residents to develop a flu-like respiratory infection, known as Valley Fever, from breathing in large quantities of dust.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The first written account of a shark attack is found in Herodotus’ (c. 484–425 B.C.) description of hordes of “monsters” devouring the shipwrecked sailors of the Persian fleet.

Barn, Baby, Barn

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I’ve not posted a photo of a barn for a long time because, well, frankly I’ve not had my camera with me when I saw some cool looking barns. I hope to remedy that one Saturday before too long.

That being said, this barn is maybe 2-3 miles from where we live, off to the side of a twisty, turny country road in north Georgia. I wish I’d photographed it about 2-3 weeks before I did when the grass was greener, but it’ll green up next spring and I can shoot it again!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1491, a storm in the North Sea battered the European coastline. Over the next several days, approximately 10,000 people in what is now the Netherlands died in the resulting floods.

The lowlands of the Netherlands near the North Sea were densely populated at the time, despite their known vulnerability to flooding. Small villages and a couple of cities had sprung up in what was known as the Grote Waard region. The residents built dikes throughout the area to keep the water at bay, but fatal floods still struck in 1287, 1338, 1374, 1394 and 1396. After each, residents fixed the dikes and moved right back in after the floods.

Even the St. Elisabeth’s flood of November 1404 (named after the November 19 feast day for St. Elisabeth of Hungary), in which thousands died, could not dissuade the residents from living in the region. Seventeen years later, at the same time of year, another strong storm struck the North Sea. The resulting storm surge caused waves to burst hundreds of dikes all over Grote Waard. The city of Dort was devastated and 20 whole villages were wiped off the map. The flooding was so extensive this time that the dikes were not fully rebuilt until 1500. This meant that much of Zeeland and Holland–the area that now makes up the Netherlands–was flooded for decades following the storm. The town of Dordrecht was permanently separated from the mainland in the flood.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The deadliest earthquake known hit Shansi, China on January 23, 1556. An estimated 830,000 people died.

The View from a Tub

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First of all, let me say that I’m not a fan of taking baths. Showers, yes. Baths, not especially. However, sometimes if I am really sore and achy, a good soak in a hot tub or jacuzzi can really be helpful!

Alas, that’s not what today’s photo is about. I took this shot yesterday morning looking out the window right by our bathtub. I think the view is relaxing enough that I might just have to crawl in the tub one of these days, soak in the warm water and gaze out the window. I love the woods!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1944, two liquid gas tanks exploded in Cleveland, Ohio, killing 130 people. It took all of the city’s firefighters to bring the resulting industrial fire under control.

At 2:30 p.m., laboratory workers at the East Ohio Gas Company spotted white vapor leaking from the large natural gas tank at the company plant near Lake Erie. The circular tank had a diameter of 57 feet and could hold 90 million cubic feet of the highly flammable gas. Ten minutes later, a massive and violent explosion rocked the entire area. Flames went as high as 2,500 feet in the air. Everything in a half-mile vicinity of the explosion was completely destroyed.

Shortly afterwards, a smaller tank also exploded. The resulting out-of-control fire necessitated the evacuation of 10,000 people from the surrounding area. Every firefighting unit in Cleveland converged on the East Ohio Gas site. It still took nearly an entire day to bring the fire under control. When the flames went out, rescue workers found that 130 people had been killed by the blast and nearly half of the bodies were so badly burned that they could not be identified. Two hundred and fifteen people were injured and required hospitalization.

The explosion had destroyed two entire factories, 79 homes in the surrounding area and more than 200 vehicles. The total bill for damages exceeded $10 million. The cause of the blast had to do with the contraction of the metal tanks: The gas was stored at temperatures below negative 250 degrees and the resulting contraction of the metal had caused a steel plate to rupture.

Newer and safer techniques for storing gas and building tanks were developed in the wake of this disaster.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Experts estimate that in a lifetime, a human brain may retain one quadrillion separate bits of information.

A Majestic Old Lady

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Hotel del Coronado (also known as The Del and Hotel Del) is a historic beachfront hotel in the city of Coronado, CA, just across the San Diego bay from San Diego. It is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort. It is the second largest wooden structure in the United States (after the Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, OR) and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and a California Historical Landmark in 1970. In 1904, Hotel del Coronado introduced the world’s first electrically lit, outdoor living Christmas tree.

Notable guests have included Edison, Charlie Chaplin, Vincent Price, Babe Ruth, Jimmy Steward, Bette David, Katherin Hepburn, Kevin Costner, Whoopi Goldberg, Gene Hackman, George Harrison, Brad Pitt, Madonna, Barbara Streisand and Oprah Winfrey. The following presidents have also stayed there: Harrison, McKinley, Taft, Wilson, FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama. 

Another famous resident of the hotel is the purported ghost of Kate Morgan. On November 24, 1892, she checked into room 304 (then 3318, now 3327). She told staff she was awaiting the arrival of her brother who was a doctor. She said he was going to treat her stomach cancer, but he never arrived. She was found dead on the steps leading to the beach three days later. The case was declared a suicide; she had shot herself. Another tragedy took place on the beach at the hotel in 1904 when actress Isadore Rush drowned.

When it opened in 1888, it was the largest resort hotel in the world. It has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities through the years. The hotel has been featured in numerous movies and books.

I was fortunate enough to go there on a recent work trip to San Diego. It is magnificent – huge, stately, well maintained and elegant. I took today’s photo with my cell phone inside the lobby area. I would love to go back and stay sometime. It is just a short walk across the grass to a beautiful sandy beach…and of course, the weather in San Diego is matchless!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1991 (when we lived in the Bay Area), a fire began in the hills of Oakland, CA. It went on to burn thousands of homes and kill 25 people. Despite the fact that fires had ravaged the same area three times earlier in the century, people continued to build homes there.

Fires had previously raged through the hills in 1923, 1970 and 1980. Each time, the fires occurred during autumn in a year with relatively little precipitation, and, each time, the residents rebuilt and moved back in as soon as possible. The deadly 1991 fire can be traced to a small fire at 7151 Buckingham Boulevard on October 19. Firefighters responded quickly and thought they had brought the blaze under control. However, heat from the fire had caused pine needles to fall from the trees and cover the ground.

When highly flammable debris, also known as “duff,” accumulates on the ground, fires can smolder unseen. At 10:45 a.m. on October 19, strong winds blew one of these unseen fires up a hillside; changing wind patterns then caused it to spread in different directions.

The winds were so intense and the area was so dry that within an hour close to 800 buildings were on fire. The wind then blew southwest, pushing the fire toward San Francisco Bay. In some places, the temperature reached 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it virtually impossible to fight the fire effectively. Homeowners attempted to hose down their roofs, but were often thwarted when water pipes burst from the fire. Also, many homes had wooden shingle roofs that were particularly susceptible to fire—it took only 10 minutes in some cases for a house to be brought down by the flames.

Firefighting efforts were constrained by the fact that the affected homes were located on steep hills with very narrow streets. This made it difficult to maintain radio communications and to move large fire engines close to the flames. The fire spread so rapidly that firefighters were unable to establish a perimeter. When the fire was finally contained the following day, 25 people had lost their lives, 150 people were injured and 3,000 homes and 1,500 acres had been consumed. The total tally of damages was $1.5 billion.

In the aftermath, authorities attempted to reduce the likelihood of a similar fire breaking out the in the future. Laws were changed regarding the maximum height of trees permitted and the type of vegetation that was allowable in the area. In addition, most homes that have been rebuilt do not have wooden roofs.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The Talmud is very strict about banning extramarital sex—but also about encouraging marital sex. The Talmud even lays out a timetable for how often husbands should “rejoice” their wives. For men of independent means, every day; for laborers, twice a week; for donkey drivers, once a week; for camel-drivers, once in 30 days; and for sailors, once in six months.

Take the Plunge!

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I love waterfalls. I am terrified of getting into the water above a falls as I’ve read the book about deaths in Yosemite National Park of boneheads who got into the pools above Mist or Vernal or Yosemite or Bridalveil Falls and were swept over the falls to their death on the rocks below. Surprisingly, it sometimes takes weeks (or longer!) for the bodies to be found. So, I’m content to just look at falls an photograph them from various vantage points.

I shot today’s photo at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. This is South Falls and it is the second highest falls in the park at 177 feet…but it is also the longest single drop of any falls in the park. It’s very easy to get to, and you can hike down a trail and pass behind the falls as you can see from the picture. Notice the railing…and if you look closely, you can make out some people standing behind the fence behind the waterfalls.

We were there when the water wasn’t flowing very heavily (in fact, some falls pretty much dry up there during the “dry” season (bet you didn’t know there was such a thing in Oregon, did you?).  Still, I thought it was beautiful.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1865, in what may be the first true western showdown, Wild Bill Hickok shot Dave Tutt dead in the market square of Springfield, Missouri.

Hollywood movies and dime novels notwithstanding, the classic western showdown–also called a walkdown–happened only rarely in the American West. Rather than coolly confronting each other on a dusty street in a deadly game of quick draw, most men began shooting at each other in drunken brawls or spontaneous arguments. Ambushes and cowardly attacks were far more common than noble showdowns.

Nonetheless, southern emigrants brought to the West a crude form of the “code duello,” a highly formalized means of solving disputes between gentlemen with swords or guns that had its origins in European chivalry. By the second half of the 19th century, few Americans still fought duels to solve their problems. Yet, the concept of the duel surely influenced the informal western code of what constituted a legitimate-and legal-gun battle. Above all, the western code required that a man resort to his six-gun only in defense of his honor or life, and only if his opponent was also armed. Likewise, a western jury was unlikely to convict a man in a shooting provided witnesses testified that his opponent had been the aggressor.

The best-known example of a true western duel occurred on this day in 1865. Wild Bill Hickok, a skilled gunman with a formidable reputation, was eking out a living as a professional gambler in Springfield, Missouri. He quarreled with Dave Tutt, a former Union soldier, but it is unclear what caused the dispute. Some people say it was over a card game while others say they fought over a woman. Whatever the cause, the two men agreed to a duel.

The showdown took place the following day with crowd of onlookers watching as Hickok and Tutt confronted each other from opposite sides of the town square. When Tutt was about 75 yards away, Hickok shouted, “Don’t come any closer, Dave.” Tutt nervously drew his revolver and fired a shot that went wild. Hickok, by contrast, remained cool. He steadied his own revolver in his left hand and shot Tutt dead with a bullet through the chest.

Having adhered to the code of the West, Hickok was acquitted of manslaughter charges. Eleven years later, however, Hickok died in a fashion far more typical of the violence of the day: a young gunslinger shot him in the back of the head while he played cards. Legend says that the hand Hickok was holding at the time of his death was two pair–black aces and black eights. The hand would forever be known as the “dead man’s hand.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In early 2010, amateur astronomers spotted a massive ammonia blizzard raging on Saturn. The monster storm is five times larger than “Snowmageddon,” the snowstorm that shut down Washington D.C. in February 2010.

I Won’t Do It, but I Appreciate It

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Today’s photo was also shot in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California, USA.  I have to tell you that I hate yard work – always have, always will. I don’t have a green thumb…if anything, my thumbs would at best be described as poisonous when it comes to dealing with plants. If I try to plant a plant, it’s a sure bet that it’ll die.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t appreciate a beautiful garden such as this one – and I admire the amount of work it must take to maintain it. I am glad that there are people in this world who love plants and love to arrange and form landscapes where before there was perhaps nothing but dirt.

Just don’t ask me to do yard work if you want your plants to live and thrive!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1882, John Ringo, the famous gun-fighting gentleman, was found dead in Turkey Creek Canyon, Arizona.

Romanticized in both life and death, John Ringo was supposedly a Shakespeare-quoting gentleman whose wit was as quick as his gun. Some believed he was college educated, and his sense of honor and courage was sometimes compared to that of a British lord. In truth, Ringo was not a formally educated man, and he came from a struggling working-class Indiana family that gave him few advantages. Yet, he does appear to have been better read than most of his associates, and he clearly cultivated an image as a refined gentleman.

By the time he was 12, Ringo was already a crack shot with either a pistol or rifle. He left home when he was 19, eventually ending up in Texas, where in 1875 he became involved in a local feud known as the “Hoodoo War.” He killed at least two men, but seems to have either escaped prosecution, or when arrested, escaped his jail cell. By 1878, he was described as “one of the most desperate men in the frontier counties” of Texas, and he decided it was time to leave the state.

In 1879, Ringo resurfaced in southeastern Arizona, where he joined the motley ranks of outlaws and gunslingers hanging around the booming mining town of Tombstone. Nicknamed “Dutch,” Ringo had a reputation for being a reserved loner who was dangerous with a gun. He haunted the saloons of Tombstone and was probably an alcoholic. Not long after he arrived, Ringo shot a man dead for refusing to join him in a drink. Somehow, he again managed to avoid imprisonment by temporarily leaving town. He was not involved in the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in 1881, but he did later challenge Doc Holliday (one of the survivors of the O.K. Corral fight) to a shootout. Holliday declined and citizens disarmed both men.

The manner of Ringo’s demise remains something of a mystery. He seems to have become despondent in 1882, perhaps because his family had treated him coldly when he had earlier visited them in San Jose. Witnesses reported that he began drinking even more heavily than usual. On this day in 1882, he was found dead in Turkey Creek Canyon outside of Tombstone. It looked as if Ringo had shot himself in the head and the official ruling was that he had committed suicide. Some believed, however, that he had been murdered either by his drinking friend Frank “Buckskin” Leslie or a young gambler named “Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce.” To complicate matters further, Wyatt Earp later claimed that he had killed Ringo. The truth remains obscure to this day.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: President James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other hand simultaneously. (Now there’s a skill that’ll really make someone rich, right?!?!?!)

Upper North Falls

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I’m just back from vacation. We were gone for two weeks and spent one week of that with our daughter and her family in the east Bay Area of California and then another week with our oldest son and his family in Oregon.

Did I take my camera? Of course! And one of the places we went was Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. We also visited Horsetail Falls and Multnomah Falls (photos of at least the latter will follow one of these days soon – perhaps even tomorrow), but today’s photo is of Upper North Falls in the state park in Oregon.

This waterfall is only .2 mile off the road that runs through the park and it is very easy to get to it. The falls are 65 feet high and were quite beautiful. I would imagine that it would be even more beautiful if there were more water flowing over the falls.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1914, in his major league debut, George Herman “Babe” Ruth pitched seven strong innings to lead the Boston Red Sox over the Cleveland Indians, 4-3.

George Herman Ruth was born February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland, where his father worked as a saloon keeper on the waterfront. He was the first of eight children, but only he and a sister survived infancy. The young George, known as “Gig” (pronounced jij) to his family, was a magnet for trouble from an early age. At seven, his truancy from school led his parents to declare him incorrigible, and he was sent to an orphanage, St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. Ruth lived there until he was 19 in 1914, when he was signed as a pitcher by the Baltimore Orioles.

That same summer, Ruth was sold to the Boston Red Sox. His teammates called him “Babe” for his naiveté, but his talent was already maturing. In his debut game against the Indians, the 19-year-old Ruth gave up just five hits over the first six innings. In the seventh, the Indians managed two runs on three singles and a sacrifice and Ruth was relieved. His hitting prowess, however, was not on display that first night–he went 0 for 2 at the plate.

Ruth developed quickly as a pitcher and as a hitter. When the Red Sox made the World Series in 1916 and 1918, Ruth starred, setting a record with 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play. His career record as a pitcher for the Red Sox was 89-46.

To the great dismay of Boston fans, Ruth’s contract was sold to the New York Yankees before the 1920 season by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, so that Frazee could finance the musical No, No, Nanette. Ruth switched to the outfield with the Yankees, and hit more home runs than the entire Red Sox team in 10 of the next 12 seasons. “The Sultan of Swat” or “The Bambino,” as he was alternately known, was the greatest gate attraction in baseball until his retirement as a player in 1935. During his career with the New York Yankees, the team won four World Series and seven American League pennants. After getting rid of Ruth, the Red Sox did not win a World Series until 2004, an 85-year drought known to Red Sox fans as “the Curse of the Bambino.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the unofficial anthem of American baseball, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” is traditionally sung during the middle of the 7th inning. It was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer, both of whom had never been to a baseball game.