Category Archives: History

Let Me Look that Up

Today marks the anniversary of the first publication of the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1768 in Scotland.  I love encyclopedias. I loved the World Book set my parents got me and I read it all the time. Wikipedia pales in comparison, I think, to holding a real encyclopedia in your hand.

What are your favorite reference books?

 

 

Immunity Amnesia

I was fascinated as well as horrified to read that getting the measles leaves an individual with a compromised immune system that increases  vulnerability to other infections like flu and pneumonia.  The measles makes the immune system forget all the antibodies it has built up against diseases already encountered, leaving the post-measles sufferer at risk to catch diseases they already had. Boy, is that unfair, as well as dangerous.  This phenomenon is called “Immunity Amnesia”

I remember getting chickenpox, measles, rubella, mumps, and roseola.  I remember polio vaccine in a sugar cube, as well as a small pox booster.   I didn’t run into anyone who had a bad experience with these childhood illnesses until I encountered some middle aged and elderly developmentally disabled folks in our area who contracted measles or scarlet fever as very young children long before there were vaccines and were left with serious intellectual and developmental disabilities.  How tragic, and how wonderful we have vaccines now.

 What do you remember about childhood illnesses? 

Last Witness

Nick Clifford, the last remaining member of the team of 400 who carved Mount Rushmore, has passed away. He was 98.  Clifford got the job as a teenager because he already knew how to use a jack hammer.

Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor behind the monument chose four presidents to symbolize key events in US history. Washington represents its birth, Jefferson epitomizes its growth, Lincoln illustrates its preservation and Roosevelt embodies its development.

Leaving aside the issue of defacing a lovely mountain, what four heads do YOU think should be jack hammered on Mount Rushmore?

The Beginning of (Computer) Time

Today’s post comes to us from Barbara in Rivertown!

This morning, we had a young man named Paul come to help us with our computer – just a few little things that we might have been able to learn for ourselves with some internet searches, help links, etc. but WHO HAS THE PATIENCE FOR THAT? He was probably here a half hour, and I handed him a twenty… he thought it was a bit much, but it’s the best $20 I’ve spent in a while.

I was remembering back to the beginning of my computer use, in (I guess) the mid-nineties. The internet still didn’t really have ads (!), at least nothing I can remember. About all I did was to use an online encyclopedia, look at the library catalog, and email. There were a couple of amazing things about emailing with aol.com – which ‘most everyone had at the time. If memory serves: 

1) If you caught it in maybe half an hour, you could “delete” – remove – an email you’d just sent to another aol.com subscriber. I didn’t use this a lot, but came in handy when I’d caught a major error.

2) I hadn’t yet needed to keep any emails, and certainly not sort them into folders. Whatever emails were there in your inbox, AOL would delete after two weeks – kept you on your toes! [Who knows when I started doing folders? Now there are folders with hundreds of old emails that I should go through and delete.]

So, a couple of questions:   Am I dreaming – was aol.com really like that?

What do you remember about your very early computer days?

Sunken Treasure

In the news this week, underwater treasure hunters brought up close to 1,000 bottles of a rare cognac and other liqueurs. In 1917, the Kyros was sunk by a German U-boat on its voyage from France to St. Petersburg.  The crew all survived the sinking but the liquid gold went to the bottom. The wreck was discovered in 1999 but wasn’t accessible until now.

The treasure hunters, Ocean X Team and iXplorer spent over a week with submersibles and robots to salvage the bottles, 600 De Haartman cognac and 300 Benedictine liqueur, which have been sitting for the last 102 years beneath 250 feet of cold Baltic Sea water. The Benedictine liqueur brand now belongs to Bacardi and the explorers are working with them and researching the possible worth of their find.  They say most of the bottles appear to be intact.

Would you be Long John Silver or Jim Hawkins?

Despite My Better Judgment?

Photo credit:  Marko Pekić

Running with the pack has always been problematic for me. I’m not sure why, but even at a fairly young age, if everybody else was climbing on a particular band wagon, I shied away.  I remember that Elvis hit the scene in a big way when I was in 3rd grade.  I had never heard of Elvis, but because all my classmates were going on and on about him, I stated to all that I didn’t care for him.  I didn’t even know who he was! There are many examples of this in my life and it continues to this day as something I have to be aware of, so I don’t act on knee-jerk reactions.

It won’t surprise any of you then that I have never longed for an iPhone. From the beginning of my phone ownership, I have opted for androids, despite Child/Teenager/YA always clamoring for the latest iPhone iteration for herself.  No good reason – just a feeling that I could get along very well with a non-Apple product, thank you very much.  YA has tried to get me onto the Apple platform for years now.

Our two-year cell phone contract was up the beginning of October, so there have been LOTS of conversations about plans and phones at our house the last four weeks. We went to the kiosk last week and there was a new android that has a lot of motion-sensor technology so you don’t have to push as many buttons.  Playing with it, I felt like Tony Stark, but ultimately I probably wouldn’t use any of those functions.  I’m guessing that I only use about 25% of my phone capabilities – no need to purchase something that might just make me feel inadequate.

YA, in a moment of clarity over the weekend, made the most cogent argument yet. “When you have questions about your Android, I can never answer them because what I know is the iPhone.  If you had an iPhone, I could be more helpful.”  Ding, ding, ding.  As of yesterday afternoon, I am now the owner of a red iPhone (with a clear case so the red shows through, of course).  I told YA that she’d better not renege on the “helpful” promise.  So far, so good.

Have you ever cut off your nose to spite your face?

Among Us?

Photo credit: Miriam Espacio

Ten years after the UFO incident in Roswell, New Mexico, it was on this day in 1957 that the most impressive UFO sighting happened in Levelland, Texas; the impressiveness was due to the large number of witnesses over the short period of time. Ufologists continue to argue that the Air Force investigation was too short and that the phenomenon was NOT ball lightning.

A few days later, Jim Lee, who was the head of the Interplanetary Space Patrol (perhaps named after a popular TV show of the day “Space Patrol”) stated that the Levelland sighting was indeed a visit from outer space and predicted that UFOs would soon begin to come in large numbers, large enough that there would be no more non-believers. Lee’s group pushed the agenda that humans could work and collaborate with our visitors via radio waves.

“The days of the skeptics are numbered, and they had better find a good place to hide away for even the entire populations of our large cities will see these ships as they come in from outer space. They will soon come in large numbers for all to see and the skeptic will not have a leg left to stand on. There is no need for alarm over the situation at this time.”

While I try to keep an open mind about things I can’t prove or dis-prove, I’m pretty sure that if we are visited by extra-terrestrials, it probably won’t go well. Considering how many problems we have to solve just to get to Mars, any travelers that could get themselves here would be so far ahead of us technologically (or magically if that’s your bent) that they could squash us like bugs.  That’s just my opinion, of course.

But the bottom line is that Jim Lee was wrong… we’re still not seeing UFOs in great numbers, in all our large cities.

Have you ever had a prediction of yours come true?