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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Martha M. Place Sets Record, Meets Old Sparky

     Martha Place was was born in New Jersey and at the age of 23 she was struck in the head by a sleigh. Her brother claimed that she never completely recovered and that the accident left her mentally unstable. 
     Martha Garretson was employed by widower, William Place, as his housekeeper, but their relationship became closer and they got married. William already had a daughter, Ida, by his first wife and Martha resented the affection shown by her new husband towards the 17-year-old girl to such an extent that it apparently affected her mental balance. There was also another problem: Mr. Place refused to allow his new wife to bring to the home a 14-year old son by her first husband. Every time Mr. Place refused to allow the boy to come home, Mrs. Place would yell and scream at the top of her voice and threaten the father and daughter with violence. 
     On February 7, 1898, after an argument in which Ida had sided with her father before he left for work. She claimed the argument was the result of stories Ida had told him about her and he had hit her in the face with his hand. 
     After Mr. Place left for work, Martha viciously attacked Ida, throwing acid into her eyes. As the girl covered her face in agony, Martha picked up an ax and struck her several times. Ida collapsed on the floor and her stepmother then piled pillows on her face and suffocated her. When William came home he was immediately attacked by his ax-wielding wife and although he sustained a severely fractured skull, he managed to get out of the house and neighbors called the police. 
     On entering the house, the police found Mrs Place unconscious, having turned on the gas in an attempt to commit suicide. Upstairs they discovered the dead body of 17-year-old Ida Place lying on a bed. Her mouth was bleeding and her eyes disfigured from having acid thrown in them. The evidence later indicated Ida Place died from asphyxiation. 
     Martha Place was hospitalized and arrested. Mr. Place's brother said that he believed his sister-in-law was crazy from drink when she committed the crime. He added that she had the most fearful temper that he ever saw in any human being. 
     Mrs. Place was described by a local newspaper as a tall woman with a long and pointed face, her chin sharp and prominent, her lips thin and her forehead retreating.. The newspaper added, “There is something about her face that reminds one of a rat’s, and the bright but changeless eyes somehow strengthen the impression.” Mrs. Place was about 6 feet 7 Inches in height and weighed about 150 or 160 pounds. Her hands were large and bony and her colorless brown hair was streaked with gray and was thin. 
     At her trial her defense tried to enter a plea of insanity, but she was declared sane. She proclaimed her innocence while awaiting trial, but was found guilty of murder and on March 20, 1899 was sentenced to death. Her husband was a key witness against her. 
     Mrs. Place was not informed of the exact time the sentence was to be carried out. Instead, a few days before she was told that all hope of pardon was lost and she was to prepare herself to go at any moment. She spent the last several days of her life eating at the warden's table and exhibiting a calm demeanor. While confined at Sing Sing Prison she had several hysterical outbursts, but after prayer sessions with her priest she regained her self-assurance. On March 20, 1899, at the age of 44, Martha M. Place entered the history books when she became the first woman to get fried in Old Sparky, as the electric chair was known.
     Gruesome as electrocutions were, it was seen as a big improvement over hanging. Hanging, it seems, was not such a simple matter; misjudgments of the required counterweight, strength of rope, specific knot, or length of drop lead to people being beheaded or slowly choked to death when their necks failed to break. In New York, prison officials were upset when they witnessed the execution of one woman who took fifteen minutes to die that they resolved to find a better way and electrocution promised to be a neat and tidy solution. As a result, electrocution came into regular use in the 1890s. 
     New York was a liberal state and the death sentence imposed on the woman was not supported by public sentiment, and there was loud clamor for a reprieve. No woman had been executed in New York for many years because the governors who ruled there wouldn't allow it. But when it came time for Mrs. Place's sentence to be carried out, the governor, future president, Teddy Roosevelt refused to be swayed by what he called "mawkish sentimentality." 
     She sat quietly in the chair holding a Bible in her hands while her hair was clipped short, preparatory to the head electrode being positioned. Being the first woman to get electrocuted presented some problems to the officials and they had to devise a new way to place the electrodes on her. They decided to slit her dress and place the electrode on her ankle. A female tightened the straps around her, attached the leg electrode and covered her face and then 1,760 volts surged through her body and after about four seconds she was zapped with another 200 volts. She died on the third surge. The prison doctor at Sing Sing described the execution as, "the best execution that has ever occurred here." 
     She wasn't the first woman sentenced to the electric chair though. That distinction goes to Maria Barbella, but she was later found not guilty. She was buried in the family cemetery plot in East Millstone, New Jersey without religious any observances.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Supplement to Post on the Toothbrush!

     Before you brush your teeth, your mouth is a cesspool of bacteria. When you stick a toothbrush in your mouth, it's likely loaded with fecal coliform bacteria so you need to keep it clean, too. 
     Ultraviolet (UV) sanitizers are one of the best and most convenient to use. They produce ultraviolet light which kills the bacteria on your toothbrush. They destroy the nucleic acids in the bacteria disrupting their DNA. This leaves pathogens unable to reproduce or function properly so they die out. 
     Clean and sanitized aren't the same thing. Clean means you can't see dirt with your eye. Sanitized means germ free. Most people give their toothbrush a quick rinse and put it away. But a rinse doesn't remove all traces of bacteria and a damp toothbrush is a verdant breeding ground for bacteria to spend the night multiplying. By morning, your toothbrush still looks clean, but it's grossly unsanitary. 
     Studies have shown that UV sanitizers effectively kill bacteria and microorganisms, but not 100 percent of them. In fact, other forms of sanitizing were found to be equally or more successful at eliminating microorganisms from toothbrushes. Soaking toothbrushes in anti-microbial rinses, such as mouthwash, for up to twenty minutes was considered very effective. Though inconvenient microwaving for one minute completely eradicated life found on toothbrushes. Equally effective were tests where sticking a toothbrush in the dishwasher and running it through a cleaning cycle eliminated the majority of bacteria present...even more inconvenient that a microwave! 
     For a review of sanitizers see HERE.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse Letdown

     There was a LOT of hoopla in my neck of the woods over the solar eclipse where we experienced 80 percent coverage of the sun. So, how dark did it get? It was anti-climactic; most of the effects associated with a solar eclipse occur only during or just before and after totality. At 80 percent it got slightly overcast, but if you didn't know there was an eclipse going on I doubt you would have noticed.  As you can see from the photo of my backyard at the height of the eclipse it wasn't very impressive.


Weather - Future Radar

     On My Future Radar, you can see the future. Or at least, what the weather forecast models think the future will be. They use data from the Rapid Refresh and the NAM forecast models to provide simulated future radar imagery. 
     The model is run hourly and is useful for short term forecasting. The North American Mesoscale Forecast System (NAM) is run 4 times a day and typically has data from now to 2.5 days in the future. You might also be interested in hurricane / typhoon / cyclone tracking on cyclocane. 

WARNING...Do not click on the link at the bottom of the page to get the forecast for your city!!! By clicking it you agree to set your home, new tab page and your default search to theweathercenter.co, while also accepting and agreeing to abide by the End User License Agreement and Privacy Policy. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

US Geological Survey Earthquake Site

Latest quake in the US

    On this site you can find everything you want to now about earthquakes. They also offer software for download. Especially interesting is the map that shows current earthquake data. 
     View historic seismicity, find past earthquakes that meet your criteria. Various output formats, and links to earthquake details. Get real-time earthquake notifications sent to you on your phone or by email, or subscribe to real-time feeds. Use real-time web services for your own applications. Information by state, and world seismicity maps. Links to earthquake-related information for each state. 

Visit site

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Toothbrush

     Toothbrushes date back to 3500-3000 BC when the Babylonians and the Egyptians made them by fraying the end of a twig. Tombs of the ancient Egyptians have been found containing toothpicks alongside the deceased. 
     Somewhere around 1600BC, the Chinese fashioned aromatic tree twigs which they chewed to freshen their breath. And, it was the Chinese who are believed to have invented the first natural bristle toothbrush made from the bristles from pigs' necks in the 15th century. The bristles were attached to a bone or bamboo handle. When these brushes made their way to Europe, the Europeans modified the brushes by using horse hairs, or in some cases, feathers. 
     The Englishman William made a further improvement around 1780 when he designed a bone handle, but the bush itself was still hog bristles. In 1844, the toothbrush was refined even further when the first 3-row brush was designed. Natural bristles were the only source of bristles until Du Pont invented nylon which revolutionized the toothpaste industry in 1938, but the bristles were still stiff. It wasn't until the 1950s that softer nylon bristles became popular. 
     The first electric toothbrush was made in 1939, but it wasn't until 1960 that the first electric toothbrush was introduced in the US, the Broxodent. Actually, the Broxodent was invented in Switzerland in 1954 by Dr. Philippe Guy Woog. They were originally manufactured in Switzerland and later in France for Broxo S.A. Electric toothbrushes were initially created for patients with limited motor skills and for orthodontic patients. 
     The Broxo was introduced in the U.S. by E. R. Squibb and Sons Pharmaceuticals in 1959 and was marketed under the names Broxo-Dent or Broxodent. In the 1980s Squibb transferred distribution to a division of Bristol-Myers Squibb. In the early 1960s General Electric introduced a cordless brush with rechargeable NiCad batteries. It was bulky with the handle about the size of a two D-cell flashlight. Early NiCad batteries had a short lifespan and the batteries were sealed inside the unit so the whole unit had to be thrown away when the batteries died. 
     By the early 1990s Underwriter Laboratories and the Canadian Standards Association wouldn't certify devices that used line voltage for bathroom use, so manufacturers had to begin using step-down transformers at low voltage. By the 1990s there were problems with safety certification of Broxo's original design and improved battery-operated toothbrushes were pusing them out of the market. 

Types of Electric Toothbrushes 
Ultrasonic. These were first introduced in the U.S. in 1992. Initially, they worked only on ultrasound, but a few years later, a motor was added to give the brush a sonic vibration.
Sonic. They vibrate fast enough to produce vibration in the audible range with movements in the range of 24,000–48,000 movements per minute. They rely on sweeping motion alone to clean the teeth, the movement that they provide is often high in amplitude, meaning that the length of the sweeping movements that they make is large. 
Ultrasonic. These are the newest fad. They use ultrasonic waves. In order for a toothbrush to be considered "ultrasonic" it has to emit a wave at a minimum frequency of 20,000 Hz or 2,400,000 movements per minute. Ultrasonic vibrations break up bacterial chains that make up dental plaque and remove their methods of attachment to the tooth surface up to 5 mm below the gum line. 

     Because of the similarity of the terms “ultrasonic” and “sonic” there is some confusion in the marketplace and sonic toothbrushes are frequently mislabeled as ultrasonic ones. Only a toothbrush that emits ultrasound, or vibration at a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing, can be called an "ultrasonic" toothbrush. 
     Are electric toothbrushes are more effective than manual ones? Independent research has found that most electric toothbrushes are no more effective than manual brushes assuming that people use a manual toothbrush brush effectively. The research concludes that the way brushing is done, including the amount of time spent, is more important than the choice of brush. 
     Electric brushes did reduce dental plaque 21 percent more and gingivitis11 percent more after three months of use, but it was determined that unless a person already has gingivitis it really didn't matter which brush was used. 
     The effectiveness of an electric brush depends not only on its type of action and on correct use, but also on the condition of the brush head. Most manufacturers recommend that heads be changed every three to six months or as soon as the brush head has visibly deteriorated.

     Egyptians are believed to have started using a paste around 5000BC, before toothbrushes were even invented. Ancient Greeks and Romans are known to have used toothpastes, and people in China and India first used toothpaste around 500BC. The ingredients of ancient toothpastes were very different and included a powder of ox hooves' ashes and burnt eggshells, that was combined with pumice. The Greeks and Romans favored more abrasiveness and their toothpaste ingredients included crushed bones and oyster shells. The Romans also added flavoring to help with bad breath, as well as powdered charcoal and bark. The Chinese used ginseng, herbal mints and salt. 
     The development of toothpastes in more modern times started in the 1800s. Prior to the 1850s, toothpaste was usually powders. During the 1850s, a new toothpaste in a jar called a Creme Dentifrice was developed and in 1873 Colgate started offering toothpaste in jars. Colgate introduced its toothpaste in a tube in the 1890s. 
     Until after 1945 toothpastes contained soap, but after that soap was replaced by other ingredients to make the paste into a smooth paste. In the second half of the twentieth century modern toothpastes were developed to help prevent or treat specific diseases and conditions such as tooth sensitivity. Fluoride toothpastes to help prevent decay were introduced in 1914. 
     Nowadays the big thing is toothpaste that whitens. Most toothpastes contain pretty much the same ingredients: fluoride, coloring, flavoring, sweetener and ingredients that make it smooth, foamy and moist.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The DewGood

    DewGood is a company focused on making localized sources of fresh water for farming and drinking. Their first project is the DG-10, a small appliance that can make up to 10 gallons of water a day. This product is for people who don't have access to fresh water, farmers, indoor growers, gardeners who are tired of being fined for water use and all in-between. With the successful launch of this product they claim they will continue to invent products which make water out of the air for people and plants. You can buy one for $1,500...plus shipping, of course. 
     Isn't that what my dehumidifier, which cost about $250, does? I wouldn't drink that water because the dehumidifier's coils are probably moldy or something, but I suppose the water would be safe to drink if it were boiled or chemically treated. If one wanted to, I also suppose the water it generates could be used for house plants or put in the iron. The problem is, the cost of electricity to run the thing is as much as a window air conditioning unit and it only generates about a gallon a day. The DewGood's 10 gallons a day, while substantially more than what a dehumidifier generates, is still only a drop in the bucket so to speak of what even a small garden would require. 
     The DewGood isn't the first technology that can turn water vapor in the air into liquid water. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley, came up with a way to do it using less power and one that works in drier environments. 
     A dehumidifier only works if the humidity is high, so what if you live in an arid climate? Even the driest places on earth have tons of water vapor in the air, but an ordinary dehumidifier isn't the answer; it takes a different technology.  
     The MIT contraption uses a powder that sucks up liquid water, but it can also absorb water vapor.  A thin layer of powder absorbs water vapor until it is saturated. Then they use  heat to release the water which collects in the bottom of the machine. Getting the chemical they use to release the water requires a very small amount of energy because the heat needed to drive the water out comes from ambient sunlight with no external power supply required. 
     But it's just a prototype and it used only a fraction of an ounce of the chemical powder, so the amount of water they got was pretty small. According to their calculations about 2 pounds of powder could deliver close to three quarts of water per day. However, it hasn't been determined that the water generated by their machine is free of contaminants. 
     While the DewGood is a viable concept, I'm not so sure buying one at this time is worth the money, nor would I want to become an investor. That said, I hope they are successful in accomplishing their stated goals.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Gandy Dancers

      Gandy dancer is a slang term used for early railroad workers, more formally referred to as "section hands", who laid and maintained railroad tracks in the years before the work was done by machines. They also performed track maintenance, such as removing weeds, unloading ties and rails, and replacing worn rails and rotten ties. 
     In the US, early section crews were often made up of recent immigrants and ethnic minorities who vied for steady work despite poor wages and working conditions and hard physical labor. Though all gandy dancers sang railroad songs, it may be that African American gandy dancers from the Southern United States, with a long tradition of using song to coordinate work, were unique in their use of task-related work chants. 
     There are various theories about the derivation of the term, but most refer to the "dancing" movements of the workers using a specially manufactured 5-foot, 35 pound, lining bar, which came to be called a "gandy", as a lever to keep the tracks in alignment. The term has an uncertain origin. A majority of early northern railway workers were Irish so an Irish or Gaelic derivation for the English term seems possible. Others have suggested that the term gandy dancer was coined to describe the movements of the workers themselves, i.e., the constant "dancing" motion of the track workers as they lunged against their tools in unison to nudge the rails, often timed by a chant; as they carried rails. But most researchers have identified a "Gandy Shovel Company" or, variously, "Gandy Manufacturing Company" or "Gandy Tool Company" reputed to have existed in Chicago as the source of the tools from which gandy dancers took their name. But others have cast doubt on the existence of such a company. The Chicago Historical Society has been asked for information on the company so many times that they have said, "It's like a legend, " but they have never been able to find a Gandy company in their old records.
Lining bar
     Tracks were held in place by wooden ties and the mass of the crushed rock (ballast) beneath them. Each pass of a train around a curve would, through centripetal force and vibration, produce a tiny shift in the tracks, requiring that work crews periodically realign the track. If allowed to accumulate, such shifts could eventually cause a derailment. For each stroke, a worker would lift his lining bar (gandy) and force it into the ballast to create a fulcrum, then throw himself forward using the bar to check his full weight so the bar would push the rail toward the inside of the curve. 

Encyclopedia Alabama folklore: 
 "Each workman carried a lining bar, a straight pry bar with a sharp end. The thicker bottom end was square-shafted (to fit against the rail) and shaped to a chisel point (to dig down into the gravel underneath the rail); the lighter top end was rounded (for better gripping). When lining track, each man would face one of the rails and work the chisel end of his lining bar down at an angle into the ballast under it. Then all would take a step toward their rail and pull up and forward on their pry bars to lever the track—rails, crossties and all—over and through the ballast." 

     As maintenance of way workers, besides lining bars gandy dancers also used special sledge hammers called spike mauls to drive spikes, shovels or ballast forks to move track ballast, large clamps called "rail dogs" to carry rails, and ballast tamper bars or picks to adjust the ballast. 
     During the early 1940s when the U.S. was involved in the fighting of World War II a few women worked as gandy dancers. During the war years so many of the men were away that the US developed a severe labor shortage and women stepped in to do what, to that time, had been done exclusively by men. A 1988 article in The Valley Gazette carried the story of several local women who had worked on the Reading Railroad in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania as gandy dancers. In an interview one of the women said that it was the money, about $55 ($800-900 in today's dollars) a week, that had attracted her to the job. 

     All-black gandy dancer crews used songs and chants to help accomplish tasks and to send coded messages to each other so as not to be understood by the foreman and others. It took a skilled caller to raise the right chant to fit the task at hand and the mood of the men. Using tones and a melodic style typical of the blues, each caller had his own signature. 
     The effectiveness of a caller to move his men has been likened to how a preacher can move a congregation. Typical songs featured a two-line, four-beat couplet to which members of the gang would tap their lining bars against the rails until the men were in perfect time and then the caller would call for a hard pull on the third beat of a four-beat chant. 
     Veteran section gangs lining track, especially with an audience, often embellished their work with a one-handed flourish and with one foot stepping out and back on beats four, one, and two, between the two-armed pulls on the lining bars on beat three. 
     The caller simultaneously motivated and entertained the men and set the timing through work songs that derived distantly from call and response traditions brought from Africa and sea shanties, and more recently from cotton-chopping songs, blues, and African-American church music. 
     A good caller could go on all day without ever repeating a call. The caller needed to know the best calls to suit a particular crew or occasion. Sometimes calls with a religious theme were used and other times calls that would evoke sexual imagery were in order. 
     In these calls the men begin to tap their gandy against the rail during the first two lines to get in rhythm and unison. Then with each "huh" grunt the men throw their weight forward on their gandy to slowly bring the rail back into alignment.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Progressive Lens Glasses

     Cataract surgery a couple of years ago eliminated my need for glasses except for over the counter reading glasses. The problem is toting reading glasses around, especially in the summer when my preference is for t-shirts. As a result, I resorted to an old military trick when we were not allowed to carry anything in our shirt pockets and we carried cigarettes in our sock. I purchased a cheap case for the readers and slipped them into my sock, but that was not really convenient. 
     Fortunately, my insurance allows me to get new glasses annually at a nominal cost so I made an appointment with the optometrist. The plan was to get a pair of bifocals because storing them in my sock was very inconvenient. However, from experience I knew that with bifocals there was the visible line and there was an intermediate distance ranging from about three feet to 10 or 12 feet that was fuzzy, so I inquired about progressive lenses.

    Progressive lenses are used to correct presbyopia or the loss of elasticity of the lens which typically occurs in middle and old age. Sometimes referred to as no-line bifocals, progressive lenses have three visual fields for viewing distant objects, intermediate objects and close-up objects that allow the wearer to see clearly at all distances.
     To my surprise, the optometrist did not recommend them in my case. With plenty of advantages, progressive lenses also come with a few disadvantages. 
     The optometrist explained that many people have a difficult time adjusting to the different lens powers in progressive lenses especially if they have been long time regular bifocals wearers as I had been. If wearers are not used to multiple changes in lens power, progressive lenses can make them nauseous and dizzy at first. Another disadvantage is that peripheral vision can be slightly altered by the changes that occur at the edge of progressive lenses. This distortion in viewing is often referred to as a "swim effect."  I had never seen this mentioned in advertisements for progressive lens glasses.
     There is, however, a new technology in progressive lenses used to produce Varilux S Series lenses that can reduce the swim effect by up to 90 percent. Varilux S Series lenses are the most advanced progressive lenses on the market today and are advertised to eliminate the “off-balance” feeling sometimes experienced when wearing other progressive lenses. When fitted with your first pair of progressive lenses, you may need a short adaptation period to become fully comfortable. This might take only a few minutes, or it could take a few days. 
    There's also a financial catch. Varilux lenses are progressive lenses and range in retail price from $340 to $845 due to the higher costs involved in manufacturing these lenses by fabrication and molding. According to Consumer Reports, as of 2015 the median price for ordinary frames and lenses at Visionworks is $200. Varilux lenses range in retail price from $340 to $845, but can go as high as $1,200
     Minor peripheral aberrations are unavoidable in progressive lenses because it is impossible to create a line-free multifocal lens that has multiple powers for different viewing distances without also creating unwanted aberrations somewhere in the lens. Lens designers and manufacturers have made significant strides in minimizing these aberrations, but peripheral aberrations will be present even when progressive lenses are flawlessly produced using the latest manufacturing equipment and processes...they are an unavoidable optical limitation of all progressive lenses. 
     Because of these aberrations, if you glance to the far right or left, especially when looking down, you might notice your vision is slightly blurred. These aberrations also might cause you to experience a sensation of "swim" when you make quick head movements. If you experience these problems when you start wearing a new pair of progressive lenses, you usually can eliminate them by making head movements to look more directly at objects. For most people this problem eventually disappears. So claim the manufacturers and sellers, but as the optometrist explained, this is most likely going to be the case for first time wearers. For people who are older and/or have been wearing regular bifocals for a long time, they may find it especially hard to adjust. 
     Her recommendation was I don't need glasses, but if I wanted a pair for convenience sake, get regular bifocals and as for the fuzzy intermediate vision, just live with it. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Rant About Bishop T.D. Jakes

     I have no intention of discussing Bishop Jakes theology, but I take umbrage with all the shares I see from people on Facebook that come from his page. 
     For those not familiar with Jakes, he was once a small time preacher in West Virginia who hit the big time preaching the Prosperity Gospel message. Prosperity theology is a belief among some who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them and that faith, positive speech, and donations to some preacher will result in them obtaining wealth and being blessed with good health.
     His Facebook site is filled with nonsense promises like “Your account will be loaded with miracle money, this blessing is coming direct to you. Receive.” and "I pray for every hand that will Type Amen and Share, Before the next 7 days you will receive a surprise Gift you never expected in Jesus Name. Don't Forget to Share this Post. Amen/Share!” and “Type Amen and money will come your way.” 
     These “prophetic prayers” as he call them are about as vague as a newspaper horoscope prediction. One “astrologer” whose job it was to write horoscopes for newspapers confessed her dirty little secret a few years ago in the Huffington Post. She admitted that horoscopes are nothing more than broad generalizations at best and at worst a load of crap and she wrote them because it paid well. 
     This is what that old snake oil salesman Jakes is doing, writing “Christian” horoscopes, and people are responding in the hopes that they MIGHT come true. True, he isn't referencing any signs of the Zodiac, instead he has substituted Jesus in their place.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Many Books - free eBooks

     You can search over 33,000 free eBooks on this site by genre, title, author, language, recommended and popular. 
     Manybooks was established in 2004 to provide an extensive library of books in digital format for free on the Internet. Many of the early eBooks are from the Project Gutenberg archives, which means you will be able to find a lot of classics on the site. Some books are available at a nominal cost, but the free ones are, as you might expect, out of copyright. 
     Just find a book you're interested in, select the download version you prefer and click on the link and in a matter of seconds your book will be downloaded. 

     I downloaded some World War I spy novels and a book about life on a WWI submarine and the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The books may be old, but the stories are good.
     Best of all, you don't have to register, just click and download.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Play Games Online at AARP

AARP, Inc., formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, is a US-based interest group with a membership founded in 1958.  Their website has a number of online games in the following categories that anyone can play: 

Mini Golf 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Whatever happened to Pearl Hart?

     Pearl Hart, born Taylor, (born around 1871 – died, but nobody knows when) was a Canadian-born outlaw of the American Old West. 
     She committed one of the last recorded stagecoach robberies in the US, a crime that gained her notoriety primarily because she was a woman. 
     Many details of her life are uncertain with reports being varied and often contradictory. Born as Pearl Taylor of French descent in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada, the petite and attractive young girl would grow up to become one of the only female stagecoach robbers in the American West. 
     One of several children, Pearl was brought up in a respectable middle-class family and received a good education. Her life took a turn for the worse when, at the age of seventeen, she fell for a gambler named Frederick Hart with whom she eloped. Hart was primarily a gambler who more often than not he lost whatever money he had at the gaming tables and so sometimes worked as a bartender. He was also a heavy drinker and often abusive to his young wife. The result was that Pearl's life proved to be one hardship after another. 
     In 1893, the couple traveled to the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois where her husband worked as a sideshow barker and she found a number of odd jobs. While in Chicago, she became enthralled with the Wild West shows and was especially enamored by Annie Oakley, who she saw performing. She also attended the World’s Fair Women’s Pavilion where she listened to a number of women’s speeches, including Julia Ward Howe, a prominent women’s activist and poet. 
      Inspired by seeing such strong women and falling in love with the legends of the Wild West, she soon left her husband and boarded a train to Trinidad, Colorado. After arriving in Trinidad she became a popular saloon singer but soon found that she was pregnant with her husband's child and returned to her family in Canada. After giving birth to a son, she left him with her mother and traveled west again, this time to Phoenix, Arizona. 
     She found the Wild West disappointing and there was no glamour. Instead, she ended up working as a cook in a cafe and taking in laundry. In 1895 her estranged husband caught up with her and begged her o come back to him and promised to get a regular job. True to his word, he got a job working as manager and bartender at a local hotel. They seemed happy, but they also began to live a wild life frequenting the saloons and gambling parlors where Pearl learned to smoke and drink. It's also alleged that she also began using marijuana and morphine. 
     Marital problems started up again and after she gave birth to a second child, a girl. That's when her husband announced that he was bored with domestic life and tired of supporting a family. After a violent argument between the two in 1898, Pearl was knocked unconscious and her husband left to join Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in Cuba. She again returned to her parents but didn’t stay long and headed back to Arizona, leaving her second child with her parents as well. 
     Back in Arizona, she at odd jobs in many of the mining camps. But a woman alone during these times found it difficult to survive and she became very depressed and tried to kill herself several times but was saved by acquaintances. 
     By 1899 he had hooked up with a miner named Joe Boot. When she received a letter from her brother that her mother was ill and needed money for medical bills, she asked Boot for advice. It turned out that Boot had long been planning to rob a train and he had several ideas for Pearl to make some quick cash. 
     Their first scam was for Pearl to lure men into their room, allowing them to think that there was an opportunity for sex. Instead, Joe knocked them out and robbed them. There wasn't a lot of money in this so they conceived of the idea of robbing a stagecoach. 
     After careful planning, the couple decided to rob the stagecoach that ran between Florence and Globe, Arizona. To get ready Pearl cut off her hair and dressed in Joe’s clothing. On May 30, 1899, they jumped in front of the stage with drawn guns and ordered the driver to stop. Joe kept his gun pointed at the driver, Pearl ushered the passengers out of the coach and robbed them. After taking about $450 (over $12,000 today) and a revolver, the pair ordered the passengers back in the coach and Joe fired his gun in the air and told the driver to take off. 

     However, they were unfamiliar with the surrounding desert hills and got lost while making their escape. After a couple of days, the couple made camp in a grove of trees and after building a campfire, they fell asleep. Some time later, when they awoke, they were surrounded by the sheriff and his posse. 
     Taken to the Globe, Arizona jail, Hart played up her part as a lady bandit, giving autographs and entertaining those who just wanted to get a glimpse of the "Bandit Queen.” A few weeks after her capture, Pearl escaped from the jail on October 12, 1899, with another prisoner by the name of Ed Hogan. As a result her legend began to grow, but she was soon recaptured and returned to jail. 
     Her trial took place in Florence, Arizona in November, 1899 where she insisted that the court had no right to place her on trial, saying: "I shall not consent to be tried under a law in which my sex had no voice in making.” Though she admitted her guilt, she was acquitted by the jury, most likely because of her story of robbing the stage only to send her mother money. Her lawyer had also plead with the jury that it was her first offense and that she had always obeyed the law in the past. 
     Judge Fletcher Doan (later to become a state Supreme Court Justice) was furious at the verdict, claiming that Pearl "...flirted with the jury, bending them to her will." He soon replaced the jury and had Pearl re-tried for unlawfully carrying a gun. This time, the jury was not swayed and she was convicted and sentenced to five years in the Yuma Territorial Prison. 
     Though she is often credited with being the last person to ever rob a stagecoach, this is untrue as the last actual stage robbery took place on December 5, 1916 near Jarbridge, Nevada. During the hold-up, the bandit, Ben Kuhl, killed the driver and made off with more than $3,000 in gold coins. Hart is also frequently credited as being the only woman to ever hold up a stagecoach. This is also untrue, as Jane Kirkham was killed when robbing a stagecoach along the road between Leadville and Buena Vista, Colorado on March 7, 1879.
     Joe Boot was tried in a separate trial and got 30 years for the stage robbery. Boot, who was also sent to the Yuma prison, escaped in 1901 and was never recaptured or heard of again. He was thought to have fled to Mexico. 
     Pearl became an even greater celebrity in prison and the warden, who liked the attention, accommodated her with a larger than usual cell and a few other perks. In prison she entertained visitors and reporters, often posing for pictures. After serving just 18 months she was paroled on December 19, 1902 and moved to Kansas City. 
     There, she planned to profit from her fame as the "Lady Bandit” in a production that her sister wrote about her western adventures. However, her fame faded quickly and she disappeared from public view for a couple of years until she was arrested in Kansas City under the name of Mrs. L.P. Keele for buying stolen canned goods. 
     She disappeared again until in 1924, when she visited the old courthouse in Florence, Aziriona where she had been tried. While there she identified herself to an attendant. 
     What happened to Pearl after that? Nobody knows. Some reports say that she died in Kansas City where she operated a cigar store in 1925. Others say that she was living in San Francisco, California when she died in 1952. Most often it's said she married a rancher in Dripping Springs, Arizona, where she lived out the last days of her life going by the name of Pearl Bywater and died in 1956.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


     A while back I was somewhat astonished to hear a Registered Nurse who works at a nursing home telling of an elderly Christian pastor in her care who, according to her, was in a backslidden condition as evidenced by his use of profanity. 
     I was somewhat astonished because as a Registered Nurse I thought she would have known of a condition called coprolalia which is the medical term for uncontrollable swearing. It is a rare symptom of Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome and there are other causes.
     A part of the brain called Wernicke's area handles the recognition of and processing of spoken words. The prefrontal cortex handles things like personality and determining what is appropriate social behavior. 
     In most people, the left hemisphere of their brains is in charge of language, while the right hemisphere is in charge of the emotional content of language. Processing language is known as one of the "higher" brain functions, while processing emotion is considered one of the "lower" or more primal and instinctual brain functions. 
     Scans of the brain have revealed that swearing tends to affect the "lower" regions. Strong language gets "tagged" emotionally as we grow up because our parents or teachers or peers react more strongly to certain words than others. If they react negatively to these words, that emotion gets stored in our brains along with any meanings of the words. So instead of processing "swear words" as a series of sounds as we do other words, the brain stores these "emotionally charged" words as whole units. As a result, the brain does not need the left hemisphere's help when processing them. Instead it relies on the system which controls memory, emotion, and behavior and the area which controls motor functions and impulse control to process the swear words. Swearing is therefore a motor activity with a strong emotional content and explains why most people remember swear words four times better than they do other words. 
     Studies have shown that the brain tends to "struggle" with itself when a person swears because these two areas are competing for which will "win" in the moment. 
     Swearing is also affected by some disorders.  Besides being a rare symptom of Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome another condition known as aphasia causes people to lose the ability to speak or pronounce words.  This can happen as a result of disease or damage in the parts of the brain that control language. 
     Even when aphasics have lost the ability to speak other words they remember how to swear and have no trouble remembering those words. Similarly, people who have had an accident or procedure that severs the connection between hemispheres of their brain tend to display a dramatic drop in their language abilities, but they still remember how to swear. 
     Although not everyone exhibits the same symptoms, as the disease progresses Alzheimer's and other kinds of dementia causes changes such as memory loss, the hallmark of dementia, but the use of foul language can also develop. 
     Dementia is a condition that affects the brain and that's why people with dementia sometimes have difficulty finding the right words, or as the disease progresses into the later stages, they may not be able to speak at all. 
     Another effect of dementia can be that words that otherwise would not be spoken now may be freely used due to the loss of inhibitions and personality changes that sometimes develop as dementia progresses. Foul language may stream out of the person's mouth at times, even if they've never uttered a swear word before in their life and a person who would never say anything to hurt others before developing dementia might now call someone offensive names. 
     As an RN she should have known all this.