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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Daylight Savings Time Hoax

On Sunday, November 3rd the time “falls” back one hour, thus ending Daylight Saving time.
     A 2011 poll found that 47 percent of Americans said DST was not worth the hassle. Twice a year DST causes disruptions to meetings, travel schedules, broadcasts, billing systems, records management, and people's circadian rhythms. It also forces people to update devices, such as programmable thermostats and clocks. 
     I was, as were most Americans, always taught that Ben Franklin invented it to save money by reducing candle usage. My elementary school teachers were wrong about that. 
     Franklin did not invent it, he merely suggested Parisians change their sleep schedules to save money on candles and lamp oil. Actually, they say a New Zealand entomologist named George Hudson, who wanted more daylight in the evenings, presented the idea in 1895. 
     The common misconception about Ben Franklin comes from a satirical essay he wrote in the spring of 1784 that was published in the Journal de Paris. In the essay, titled An Economical Project, he wrote about the thrifty benefits of daylight versus artificial light. 
     When Franklin woke up at 6 a.m. he noticed that the sun was already up and he wrote, “Your readers, who with me have never seen any sign of sunshine before noon, and seldom regard the astronomical part of the almanac, will be as much astonished as I was, when they hear of his rising so early; and especially when I assure them, that he gives light as soon as he rises. I am convinced of this. I am certain of my fact. One cannot be more certain of any fact. I saw it with my own eyes.” 
     He therefore reached the conclusion that getting up at daylight would save the citizens of Paris a great deal of money, he wrote, “...the city of Paris might save every year, by the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.” 
     Then as a joke, proposed regulations to ensure Parisians became early risers: 

1) Let a tax be laid of a (gold coin) per window, on every window that is provided with shutters to keep out the light of the sun. 
2) Let guards be placed in the shops of the wax and tallow chandlers, and no family be permitted to be supplied with more than one pound of candles per week. 
3) Let guards also be posted to stop all the coaches, etc. that would pass the streets after sunset, except those of physicians, surgeons, and midwives. 
4) Every morning, as soon as the sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing; and if that is not sufficient? Let cannon be fired in every street, to wake the sluggards effectually, and make them open their eyes to see their true interest. 

     Franklin’s little joke, Daylight Saving Time, eventually became a fraud perpetrated on American citizens, not to mention much of the rest of the world.
     Why we try and "maximize daylight" which has been explained as a practice to accommodate farmers or to lower the nation's electricity usage are just wrong. 
     The big argument for DST has always been the idea that it saves money and helped conserve energy. In the 1970s the energy crisis helped further this belief. Saving energy was the reason Congress used in enacting daylight saving time during WWI and again during WWII. 
     On May 1, 1916, during WWI, Germany instituted DST in an effort to save fuel and the rest of Europe soon followed. 
     The US passed the Standard Time Act of March 19, 1918, which created the US time zone system and set DST to begin on March 31, 1918, and end on October 27, 1918. Following WWI, DST was abolished in the U.S. until President Franklin Roosevelt instituted what was known as "War Time" on February 9, 1942. War Time was year-round DST, and it was in effect until September 30, 1945. 
     Between 1945 and 1966, there was no federal mandate for DST. Cities and states east of the Mississippi River and in the north of the country observed DST, while of those west of the Mississippi, only California and Nevada observed DST. 
     The effect of these varying times made transportation timetables a nightmare, and the transportation industry asked for federal regulation. This resulted in the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which created Standard Time and DST which would begin at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday in April and end at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday in October.
     The Act allowed states to exempt themselves from DST which Arizona and Michigan did. In 1972, Michigan reversed its position and today only Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands don't follow DST. 
     In 1973, the oil embargo by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries caused the US to institute year-round DST, beginning January 6, 1974 and ending April 27, 1975.  
     Year around DST caused school children to leave for school in the dark which caused a lot of complaints.  In fact, a 1976 report by the National Bureau of Standards found DST provided no significant energy savings and there were increased fatalities among school children in the mornings. 
     In 2007, the US conformed to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, with most of the US (and Canada) observing DST from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. 
     This means DST is now in effect for almost two-thirds of the year.  It created a DST period which is four weeks longer, except in years when April 1 falls on a Monday through Wednesday. In that case, the change results in a DST period that is five weeks longer. 
     A 2008 Department of Energy study reported that DST reduces annual energy use by about 0.03 percent. But, a study that same year from the University of California-Santa Barbara found it increased energy consumption. 
     After Indiana adopted daylight saving time statewide in 2006, researchers examined power usage statistics and found that electricity consumption in Indiana rose 1 percent overall, with a 2-4 percent increase in the fall months. The additional power usage cost Indiana power users $9 million a year and increased pollution. 
     In 2012 researchers at the University of Alabama Birmingham reported that the spring forward adjustment led to a 10 percent increase in heart attack risk. Not to worry though...the same study found the risk fell about as much in the fall when clocks were turned back, so things balanced out! Of course if you were one of those that had a heart attack in the spring, such a statistic doesn’t matter. 
      The clock changes can also raise the risk of accidents by sleep-deprived motorists. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 1996 reporting an 8 percent increase in traffic accidents on the Monday following the spring shift when clocks jump ahead. Again, things balance out. The extra sleep in the fall makes streets about 8 percent safer on the day after the fall change.
     With daylight saving time now in effect for two-thirds of the year, it's dark in the mornings which means kids are going to be waiting for the school bus or walking to school in darkness...the same complaint that cropped up during the oil embargo in the 1970s.
     There are some benefits to DST though. The US Chamber of Commerce noted that DST increased the amount of shopping done after work, and the golf industry noted a considerable increase in revenue...a whopping $200 million in additional sales of golf clubs and greens fees! 
     Wyoming and Michigan noted that DST increased candy sales for Halloween. In 1987, both senators from Idaho voted to extend DST, reasoning that fast-food restaurants would sell more French fries made from Idaho potatoes during DST.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Vaping Deaths

     People have been vaping for years but now they're dying...READ MORE 
     Medical professionals are very concerned because Juul delivers higher concentrations of nicotine than other e-cigarettes. Not only is nicotine highly addictive, but it is also toxic to fetuses and is known to impair brain and lung development if used during adolescence...READ MORE on the dangers of Juuling

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Worthless Johnson & Johnson Band-Aids

     I recently had a small, annoying cut on the knuckle of my finger and saw BAND-AID Brand TRU-STAY Clear Spots and thought they would be ideal.
     They were except removing the second layer of backing proved to be extremely difficult. The first layer of backing (the one with the flap) came off easily, but the second layer proved extremely difficult to get off even when surgically removed with a pocket knife...it was stuck fast to the adhesive and kept tearing off in small pieces and/or folding the adhesive over on itself. 
     As a result, for every bandage I used, I ended up destroying 3-4. For this reason I will not be buying these again. This is a common problem with this product. 
     Here is the customer reviews off of the company’s website: 

Typical complaints… 
* It's a problem 50 percent of the time just to get the outside paper wrapper off. 
* 100 percent of the time the plastic tabs can't be pulled cleanly off the sticky part of the band aid. 
*...you end up mutilating the band aid and having to start over with a new one
*... if you are successful in getting the plastic tabs off the band aid it will not completely seal around the wound. 
*...There is ALWAYS at least 2 corners of the band aid that will not stick to your skin...no matter what you do. 
* I've been working my way through the box one by one throwing each of them in the trash like the rubbish they are. 
* These bandages do not work because you cannot get the backing off the band-aid without it ruining it. Then when you do get the backing off it the darn thing doesn't stick to your skin. Just junk. 

    You get the idea. To each of these negative reviews the response from Johnson and Johnson is that they were so sorry to “hear about the issues you've had with our bandages and we'd like to see how we can help.” They then list a phone number one can call Monday-Friday from 9 AM to 5:30 PM Eastern time.
     Why should people have to call them? If the company knows there is a problem, FIX IT and respond that they are working on a solution to the problem.
     My guess is that they don’t really care. Why say they don’t really care? Johnson and Johnson is the same company that has been threatened by thousands of lawsuits claiming that the talc the company uses in its baby powder is contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos. 
     Johnson & Johnson denies the presence of carcinogens in its talc, saying the plaintiffs’ tests are flawed and their results inaccurate. In 1894, Johnson and Johnson introduced baby powder made of crushed talc. The mineral can be found with asbestos in the earth, raising concern talc products are contaminated with toxic asbestos. 
     In recent years, the company has lost multimillion dollar lawsuits related to ovarian cancer caused by baby powder. In the late 1800s, doctors began to realize the importance of using sterilized medical equipment to prevent infection. Johnson & Johnson was founded to meet this need. In 1894, the company launched one of its most iconic products: Johnson’s Baby Powder, made of crushed talc. 
     For years it’s been well known that many sources of talc are naturally contaminated with asbestos, which causes mesothelioma. The two minerals often occur in the same geological formations. Despite this, Johnson and Johnson did not focus on the issues of asbestos contamination in baby powder, which is of one of its flagship consumer products. 
     Asbestos-related diseases usually arise after years of regular exposure to the toxic mineral. Long-term exposure can occur with baby powder. Many people initially received talcum powder as babies to prevent diaper rash, and they continued using the product into adulthood. Long-term use of asbestos-contaminated talcum powder can lead to cancer. 
     Johnson and Johnson has publicly denied its talcum powder products cause cancer, but documents unsealed in 2017 revealed company executives were aware of asbestos liabilities as early as the 1970s. Further, the report emphasized the need to suppress concerns over asbestos contamination at talc mines in Vermont and Italy. 
     Some executives considered switching baby powder’s main ingredient from talc to corn starch to avoid liability, the company never stopped selling talcum powder. 
     In February 2019, Imerys Talc America, one of the company’s suppliers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the wake of multibillion-dollar lawsuits alleging its talc caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. To date, more than $5 billion has been awarded to plaintiffs involving Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. 
     So, no, they aren’t going to be worried about their crappy band-aids.

Monday, October 21, 2019


     VirusTotal was founded in 2004 as a free service that analyzes files and URLs for viruses, worms, trojans and other kinds of malicious content. 
     VirusTotal is the best online virus scanner because in addition to scanning URLs, IP addresses, and files against several different antivirus engines, it can also be used over email or from a desktop to scan running processes. Dozens of different antivirus engines are used to scan files sent to VirusTotal, which means several different perspectives are used to determine whether or not a file is malicious. 

* Scans any file type as large as 256 MB 
* Input a URL to scan a whole webpage 
* Scans IP addresses 
* Can upload more than one file using the desktop program 
* Share results of a virus scan using a public link 
* Works as a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer 
* Scans email attachments 
* Can be used on Android devices with an app 
* Search for past scan results using a file's hash 

* Only one file can be scanned at a time using the web interface 
* Allowed for personal use only, not commercial 
* Email attachment scans have lower priority than using the web interface 

     VirusTotal inspects items with over 70 antivirus scanners and URL/domain blacklisting services, in addition to a myriad of tools to extract signals from the studied content. 
     Any user can select a file from their computer using their browser and send it to VirusTotal. VirusTotal offers a number of file submission methods, including the primary public web interface, desktop uploaders, browser extensions and a programmatic API. 
     VirusTotal is free to end users for non-commercial use. VirusTotal not only tells you whether a given antivirus solution detected a submitted file as malicious, but also displays each engine's detection label (e.g., I-Worm.Allaple.gen). 
     This is a partial view of a scan I conducted of a downloaded chess engine:

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Mechanical Movements

     I have no idea what you can do with this site except amuse yourself. 507 Movements is an online edition of the classic technical reference Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements by Henry T. Brown. This site contains the original illustrations and text from the 21st edition of the book, published in 1908. It also includes animated versions of the illustrations, and occasional notes by the webmaster.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Hero and the Deserter

Master Sergeant Mark Allen
     "It's a Good Day," exclaimed President Obama when after nearly five years in captivity, US Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl was on his way home. National Security Advisor Susan Rice commented on ABC’s This Week television program that Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction.” 
     The US government’s price to bring this “hero” home was five once-senior Taliban figures held at Guantanamo Bay.
     Beaudry Robert "Bowe" Bergdahl (born March 28, 1986) was a United States Army soldier who was held captive from 2009 to 2014 by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan and Pakistan after he deserted. 
     Bergdahl was captured after deserting his post on June 30, 2009. He was released on May 31, 2014, as part of a prisoner exchange for five Taliban members who were being held at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
     Bergdahl was tried by general court-martial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and on October 16, 2017, he entered a guilty plea before a military judge at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 
     On November 3, 2017, he was sentenced to be dishonorably discharged, reduced in rank to private and fined $1,000 per month from his pay for ten months, with no prison time. 
     In June, 2019, the Army's Court of Criminal Appeals heard arguments in Bergdahl’s ongoing case in which his attorneys are contending that the case should be reconsidered or Berghdahl should be granted clemency because President Donald Trump's comments and tweets tainted the proceedings. 
     Donald Trump expressed his disdain toward the prisoner transfer of Bergdahl, calling the decision "a complete" and "total disgrace to our country and our Military.” Mr. Trump is wrong...it’s Bergdahl, himself, who is a complete and total disgrace to our country and our Military. 
Deserter Bergdahl

     Quietly and with little fanfare retired Army Master Sergeant Mark Allen died at the age of 46 a few days ago, 10 years after he was shot in the head in July 2009 while looking for Bergdahl. Master Sgt. Allen was unable to walk or speak since being shot in the head by a sniper in July 2009 while searching for Bergdahl. His wife, Shannon, wrote on Facebook that her husband’s injuries were the direct result of Bergdahl’s traitorous actions. 
     She testified during Bergdahl’s court-martial that it took 90 minutes to get her husband out of bed, showered and dressed each morning. She had to use a pulley system, which was attached to the ceiling to move him. She recently described how his young daughter enjoyed climbing into his wheelchair and sitting on his lap.
     Where is former President Obama's support for the Allen family?
The Allen family

Friday, October 18, 2019

Doug Kershaw...Entertainer


     Douglas James Kershaw (born January 24, 1936) is a fiddle player, singer and songwriter from Louisiana. Active since 1948, he began his career as part of the duo Rusty and Doug, along with his brother, Rusty Kershaw. 
     He had an extensive solo career that included fifteen albums and singles. He is also a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, being inducted in 2009.
     Born in an unincorporated community called Tiel Ridge in Cameron Parish, Kershaw did not learn English until the age of eight. See Cajun French. By that time, he had mastered the fiddle, which he played from the age of five, and was on his way to teaching himself to play 28 instruments. 
     His first gig was at a local bar, the Bucket of Blood, where he was accompanied by his mother on guitar. Kershaw became interested in Cajun music during parties his parents would host on the family's houseboat in Louisiana, where he first heard Cajun bands playing the music. He grew up surrounded by Cajun fiddle and accordion music. 
     After teaching his brother, Rusty, to play guitar, he formed a band, the Continental Playboys, with Rusty and older brother Nelson "Peewee" Kershaw in 1948. With the departure of Peewee from the group, in the early 1950s, Rusty and Doug continued to perform as a duo. 
     In 1955, when Kershaw was nineteen, he and     Rusty performed on the Louisiana Hayride radio broadcast in Shreveport, Louisiana and, also, at the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia Although the brothers initially sang in French, the owner of the Feature Records persuaded them to incorporate songs in English into their repertoire. 
     In 1955, Doug and Rusty recorded their first single So Lovely, Baby and the it went to number 14 on the country music charts. Later that same year, they were invited to become cast members of the Louisiana Hayride. The Kershaws appeared at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee and became regular members of the Opry cast the following year. 
     Doug enrolled in McNeese State University, in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he earned an undergraduate degree in Mathematics. At the peak of their early career, in 1958, Doug and Rusty both enlisted in the United States Army. They devoted their attention to the military until their discharge three years later.
     After fulfilling their military obligation, the two brothers recorded "Louisiana Man", an autobiographical song that Doug had written while in the Army. The song not only sold millions of copies but over the years has come to be considered a standard of modern Cajun music. 
     In June 1969, Kershaw made his first network television appearance on the debut of the Johnny Cash Show. While it seemed to many rock and pop fans that Kershaw had appeared out of nowhere, he had already sold more than 18 million copies of the records he had made in the early '60s with his brother, Rusty. 
     Despite his success Kershaw was plagued by depression. His father had committed suicide when he was only seven. Marrying his wife, Pam, at the Houston Astrodome on June 21, 1975, Kershaw began raising his own family that included five sons. By 1984, Kershaw's battle with drug and alcohol abuse came to a close and his previously erratic behavior changed for the better.
     Kershaw formerly owned and operated The Bayou House, a restaurant in Lucerne, Colorado, but parted ways with his partners in 2007 due to his displeasure with management and ambiance.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Which Glue To Use

     What if you wanted to glue ceramic, fabric, glass, leather, metal, paper, plastic, rubber, styrofoam or wood to ceramic, fabric, glass, leather, metal, paper, plastic, rubber, styrofoam or wood, what glue would you use? Find out which glue to use (including the brand name) HERE

Do you know the different types of glue? Find out HERE 
What do you know about hot glue? Learn all about it HERE 
Do you know how to use super glue? Find out HERE 
One of my favorite adhesives for construction projects is a product called Liquid Nails...highly recommended!

Family Handyman’s 53 Brilliant Gluing Tips and Tricks

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Copyfish - a Must Have Browser Add On

     Copyfish is a free optical character recognition (OCR) extension for Firefox and Chrome web browsers. It extracts text from images, videos and PDF files.
     This add-on for Chrome and Firefox lets you extract text from almost anything in a browser tab...extract text from videos, PDF files, and images including photos, screenshots, memes, error messages, etc. 
     It puts a fish shaped button in the address bar of your browser. To use Copyfish, click on the fish icon, select the area with the text you want extracted and Copyfish opens a separate window, extracts and displays the extracted text.
     The overlay lets you verify the text. You can choose to copy the text to the clipboard, redo the OCR, recapture, or translate text. The translate button opens a new window showing Google Translate with your text pre-pasted so all you have to do is choose languages. 
     It does a good job on most items, but as with most OCR programs there are items that scan well and some that don't. If you want a quick and easy way to extract text with a reasonable expectation of success and the ability to edit as needed, this does a good job. 
     It didn't work on a few PDF files that were online, and the same PDF files worked in Chrome and not in Firefox. The good thing about it is that the text extraction is done in your browser and not stored anywhere. The downside is that it adds another add-on to the browser. 
     Copyfish does a good job with basic tasks. If you're looking for more functions there are two paid for plans with extra features. 

OCR Site - Free Online OCR - Convert images and PDF to text 
Copyfish for Chrome 
Copyfish for Firefox

Friday, October 11, 2019

Stupid TSA Agents

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017 the mean annual pay for TSA agents (Transportation Security Administration agents... airport security) is $19.31 per hour,
They should be paid $7.25 per hour, the current Federal minimum wage. 
     The question then arises, Just HOW in the world did such ignorant, uninformed, ill-mannered, poorly-educated, rude, poorly-trained, obnoxious and power-hungry people (that is, STUPID people!) ever become employees of the federal government with responsibility for the safety of America’s transportation system? For the answer we need to back in history to 1997. Read the rest of the story… 

TSA Misses 70 percent Of Fake Weapons But That's An Improvement 

TSA fails most tests in latest undercover operation at US airports

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Time And Date Site, Fun Holidays

Useful and fun site: 

Time Zones 
* Time Zone Map 
* Time Announcer 
* Time Zone Converter 

Meeting Planner
* Find the Best Time across time zones 
* Time Zone Abbreviations Calculators and Timers 
* Date-to-Date Calculator 
* What Date is it in X Days? 
* Countdown to Any Date 
* Countdown to New Year 

* Stopwatch 
* Timer / Alarm Holidays 
* Sun & Moon 
* Sunrise & Sunset 
* Moon Phases 
* Moon rise & Moon set 
* Solar and Lunar Eclipses 

Weather and World Weather, Calculators and more. 

My favorite is Fun and Wacky Holidays 
For example...
October 9 (today) is Curious Events Day
October 10 (tomorrow) is Handbag Day (for the ladies).  How do you celebrate it? Go out and buy a high-end handbag, of course.  Or, you can celebrate by cleaning out an old handbag and organizing it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

How Roxy Druse Got Herself Hung

     Roxalana Druse (1847 – February 28, 1887) wasn’t a woman you’d want to know, but she did make history when, on February 28, 1887 she became not only the last woman hanged in the state of New York, she was the first woman to be hanged in forty years in Central New York. It was also her botched execution resulted in the decision to replace the gallows with the electric chair in 1890. 
     Mrs. Druse murdered her husband, William Druse, in their home in Warren, New York, a small town of 1,143 that lies just 17 miles north of the Baseball Hall of Fame town of Cooperstown. Or did she? Reports vary in the details.
     Books on the murder are available from Amazon:
Last Woman Hanged: Roxalana Druse by James M. Greiner 
Roxy Druse and the Murders of Herkimer County by Michael Cooney.  In regard to this book, you will want to refer to the blog post Roxy Druse, Female Fiend or Woman Wronged? which claims this book is the TRUE story.
     In December 1884, William Druse was murdered, dismembered and burned in the kitchen stove and his ashes and bones were dumped in a swamp. His wife was sentenced to die by hanging. 

     Her death was protested many who opposed hanging women. Women’s rights groups called the trial unfair because she did not have the same rights as her jur and there was a good chance she was not guilty of a hanging offense.
     Mr. Druse lived in the dingy farmhouse with his wife Roxalana (known as Roxy), his 19-year-old daughter, Mary, his 10-year-old son George, and his 14-year-old nephew Frank Gates. 
     At the age of 60, Druse was eighteen years older than his wife. Neighbors considered him to be lazy, mean tempered and abusive. He was also a man who treated his farm animals cruelly. 
     William and Roxalana Druse had been married for twenty years during which time William had kept his wife isolated and subjected her to verbal and physical abuse. It was common knowledge that they had not slept in the same room for ten years. William, George, and Frank worked on the farm in exchange for room and board and slept upstairs. Roxy and Mary slept downstairs in the parlor. 
     The New York Times reported that Mrs. Druse and her daughter were “utterly heartless and their morality is of the lowest character” and added that they both impressed everyone who came in contact with them that they were liars and both possessed a “spirit of vanity.” The Times also reported that Mrs. Druse was illiterate and “of a low order of intelligence.” 
     Additionally, the Times stated that when daughter Mary was 16 years old men began visiting the Druse house and William went to bed early, but laughter and “clinking glasses” would awaken him and when he complained, his wife and daughter became angry. According to the paper, neighbors often talked about the “nightly orgies in which (William) took no part.” 
     On December 18, 1884 neighbors investigated when they smelled a dense, black, foul smelling smoke coming from the chimney. They found the door locked and the windows covered with newspaper. No one answered the door when they knocked, but neighbors knew someone was in the house. Their fear was that William had murdered his family and fled. 
     Soon after, Mrs. Druse and the children were seen alive but Mr. Druse was missing When asked about her husband, she said he had gone to New York City. Neighbors didn’t believe it, especially because of the foul smelling smoke they had experienced. 
     Neighbors began to suspect that Mr. Druse had been murdered and rumors began circulating which resulted in an official inquiry. Under questioning by the district attorney 14-year-old nephew Frank Gates admitted the he had participated in the murder of William Druse and implicated the rest of the family. Roxy Druse, Mary Druse and George Druse were all arrested for murder. 
     Stories differ as to the exact details, but in one version Frank Gates described how Mr. and Mrs. Druse had been arguing during breakfast over a grocery bill. She sent the two boys out of the room then came up behind William Druse and fired a revolver into the back of his neck. Mary had a rope around her father’s neck and pulled him to the floor and her mother fired two more shots. 
     Druse was still alive and she was having trouble with the pistol. She called Frank back into the room and threatening to kill him, too, ordered him to finish off his uncle. Frank emptied the pistol into his uncle, but he still was not dead.
     Mrs. Druse then took an ax and struck her husband on the head. Mr. Druse was still alive and pleaded with his wife not to hit him with the ax. Ignoring his pleas, a second blow killed him and she then proceeded to severe the head and throw it into the kitchen stove. 
     Mrs. Druse sent Frank and George out to get a sharper ax and while they went into another room to play checkers while Mrs. Druse, using the ax, a razor, a knife, a board and a chopping block, dismembered the body, chopped it into little pieces and burned them in the stove. She made he nephew saw the bloody handle off of the ax and burned it also. The next day, she and her nephew took the ashes to a swamp about half a mile from the house and dumped them.
     Supposedly Frank Gates spilled his guts to neighbors under their questioning.  As a result, under official questioning and as a result of his confession, the coroner was able to find the ax head and the ashes. The ashes contained 18-20 pieces of bone and because it was late December, the body parts were frozen into a solid mass. There was enough for the coroner to determine the remains were human. 
     At the inquest in January, neighbors testified to the black smoke from the Druse’s chimney and some testified that Mr. and Mrs. Druse frequently fought.
     Ten-year-old George Druse told a similar story of the murder that Frank had told except there was a strange difference. He claimed his uncle Charley Gates, Frank’s father, was there as well and had handed his mother the revolver. 
     Mrs. Druse refused to testify, but after the inquest she claimed that Charles Gates had in fact been there. She had also made the same claim at the time of her arrest and claimed the Charles had fired several shots from his own revolver. She claimed they would find two different types of bullets in the body. That wasn’t possible though because they had been destroyed in the kitchen stove. 
     Roxalana Druse was charged with murdering her husband. Mary Druse, George Druse, and Frank Gates were charged with giving comfort, aid and abetting to Raxalana and were jailed in the county seat of Herkimer, New York.
     Roxalana Druse’s trial lasted two weeks and Mrs. Druse did not testify but her attorneys tried to claim that she had acted in self-defense, citing years of threats and abuse. In the end, it was the testimony of Frank Gates that resulted in her being found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang. 
     After a lengthy appeals process Roxalana Druse was sentenced to hang on February 28, 1887. The case aroused much public opinion both for and against her execution. One man offered to go to the gallows himself in her place while another offered $10 if he could act as executioner. Souvenir hunters tried to get items of her clothing—shoes, buttons, hairpins, shoestrings. 
     Women’s rights groups were opposed to her hanging, saying an all-male jury did not constitute a jury of her peers. Also, since she did not have the right to vote, her status in society was the same as a minor’s and as such she should not be put to death. In spite of many petitions for clemency, the New York governor would not change the sentence. 
     The day before her execution Mrs. Druse made a confession to her spiritual adviser in which she said that her brother-in-law Charles Gates convinced her to commit the murder and provided her with the revolver. She said the she had fired the first shot, but Charles fired the next three from the window and that it was him who took the body and burned it. 
     On February 28, Mrs. Druse was hanged in front of twenty-five witnesses, though hundreds stood in the cold outside the prison. She was hung using a “modern” method. 
     Rather than falling through a trapdoor, she was jerked upwards four feet into the air by a 213 pound counterweight, but the force wasn’t enough to break her neck and she dangled at the end of the rope for the fifteen minutes it took her to strangle to death. 
     It was her botched execution was instrumental in replacing the gallows with the more humane electric chair. 
     Some reports say that during the trial, Mary Druse admitted to assisting in the murder, and was sentenced to life in the penitentiary and that some years later she committed suicide. Other reports are that she was pardoned after ten years and claimed that her mother had never told the whole story. 
     Both the New York Times and The Rockland County Journal of 29 June 1895 reported that the she was pardoned. 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Mississippi John Hurt


     John Smith Hurt (March 3, 1892 - November 2, 1966), better known as Mississippi John Hurt, was an American country blues singer and guitarist. 
     Born in Teoc, Mississippi and raised in Avalon, Mississippi, he taught himself to play guitar at the age of nine, stealthily playing the guitar of a friend of his mother's, who often stayed at the Hurt home while courting a woman who lived nearby. 
     As a youth he played old-time music for friends and at dances. He worked as a farmhand and sharecropper into the 1920s. His fast, highly syncopated style of playing was meant for dancing. 
     On occasion, a medicine show would come through the area. Hurt recalled that one wanted to hire him: "One of them wanted me, but I said no because I just never wanted to get away from home." 
     In 1923, he played with the fiddle player Willie Narmour as a substitute for Narmour's regular partner, Shell Smith. When Narmour got a chance to record for Okeh Records as a prize for winning first place in a 1928 fiddle contest, he recommended Hurt to Okeh producer Tommy Rockwell. 
     After auditioning "Monday Morning Blues" at his home, Hurt took part in two recording sessions, in Memphis and New York City. While in Memphis, he recalled seeing "many, many blues singers ... Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Bessie Smith, and lots, lots more." 
     Hurt described his first recording session as follows: “... a great big hall with only the three of us in it: me, the man [Rockwell], and the engineer. It was really something. I sat on a chair, and they pushed the microphone right up to my mouth and told me that I couldn't move after they had found the right position. I had to keep my head absolutely still. Oh, I was nervous, and my neck was sore for days after.” 
     Hurt attempted further negotiations with Okeh to record again, but his records were commercial failures. Okeh went out of business during the Great Depression, and Hurt returned to Avalon and obscurity, working as a sharecropper and playing at local parties and dances. 
     Hurt's renditions of "Frankie" and "Spike Driver Blues" were included in The Anthology of American Folk Music in 1952 which generated considerable interest in locating him. 
     When a copy of "Avalon Blues" was discovered in 1963, it led musicologist Dick Spottswood to locate Avalon, Mississippi in an atlas, and ask Tom Hoskins, who was traveling that way, to inquire after Hurt. When Hoskins arrived in Avalon the first person he asked directed him to Hurt's cabin. 
     Hoskins persuaded an apprehensive Hurt to perform several songs for him, to ensure that he was genuine. Hoskins was convinced and, seeing that Hurt's guitar playing skills were still intact, encouraged him to move to Washington, D.C., and perform for a broader audience. 
     His performance at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival caused his star to rise in the folk revival occurring at that time. He performed extensively at colleges, concert halls, and coffeehouses and appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He also recorded three albums for Vanguard Records. 
      Much of his repertoire was also recorded for the Library of Congress. His fans particularly liked the ragtime songs "Salty Dog" and "Candy Man" and the blues ballads "Spike Driver Blues" (a variant of "John Henry") and "Frankie."
     Hurt died on November 2, 1966, of a heart attack, in hospital at Grenada, Mississippi. Mississippi John Hurt’s grave is somewhat difficult to find. It is located in an abandoned, overgrown cemetery on the side of a poorly marked dirt road.
      Note: Avalon is an unincorporated community in Carroll County, Mississippi. It is a former settlement on Mississippi Highway 7, about 12 miles north of Greenwood. By the early 1960s, it was largely abandoned and no longer marked on maps. A church, a former store, and a few houses survive. Mississippi John Hurt, an African-American blues musician, was raised and lived here most of his life. His shotgun house is preserved as a museum to honor him. It occasionally hosts blues and gospel festivals on the adjacent land. Carroll County has placed a highway marker at Avalon to commemorate Hurt and his music. It is part of the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Bears In Ohio

     Historically, black bears roamed Ohio, but unregulated hunting and habitat loss rendered bears extirpated from Ohio by 1850. Today, Ohio is again home to a small but growing population of black bears. Ohio’s bear population is estimated to be anywhere from 50-100 individual bears. 
     Most black bears range in size from 100 to 400 pounds, are 5 to 6 feet in length and average 3 feet high at the shoulder. The majority of bears in Ohio weigh between 125-250 pounds and are juvenile male bears. Dispersing young black bears will often travel great distances in search of new habitat and they are the ones that are most likely to be seen by or interact with humans. 
     Black bears, an endangered species in Ohio, are generally docile, unlike brown bears, which tend to be more confrontational. One Ohio wildlife official official likened them to “overgrown raccoons.” Like all wild animals, they can still be dangerous.  Woman killed by black bear.
     Because bears tend to travel a long distance over a short period of time, it is likely that a bear that has been spotted in one county is the same one that has been spotted several counties away. Bear sightings tend to peak around July 4 and slow down as summer winds down. They tend to be more active at dawn, dusk and at night. 
     Most are young male bears coming from eastern Pennsylvania to avoid conflicts with larger bears back home or they have been run off by their mothers who are breeding again. Sometimes though they often run into traffic, humans and barking dogs that make them uncomfortable, and many end up heading back where they came from. 

     Although bears tend to move away from people, they might lash out at humans if they are cornered, or if they lose their fear of humans by associating them with food. For that reason, people should secure their trash cans, keep barbecue grills clean and shouldn’t leave pet food or bird feeders outside. People feeding a bear in Oregon caused the bear to lose its life. The story
     Black bears are usually fearful of people, therefore bear attacks are a rare occurrence. They do not attack or kill children or pets as long as the bear is given its space and not cornered. Wildlife experts recommend that if you encounter a bear you should: 

* Act calm and do not run. You can’t outrun one anyway. Black bears are extremely agile and are able to run up to 35 mph, climb trees with ease and swim long distances. A fast human can only run at about 20.5 miles per hour, but if you’re old, fat and/or out of shape you won’t even top out at that speed. Always avoid running or climbing trees which may provoke a chase. 
* Warn the bear that you are near; talk in a firm, calm voice. Not sure about this, maybe they speak English? Avoid direct eye contact. If you're a New Yorker and ride the subway you'll understand the importance of this bit of advice.
* Allow space between you and the bear. Step aside and back slowly away. Do not make the bear feel trapped or threatened. 
* Raise your hands above your head to appear larger if the bear approaches. Clap your hands or shout to scare the bear away. 
* Exit the area.

     Bears are omnivores, meaning they will eat a wide variety of foods. Depending on the season, their diet may include grasses, berries, mast from oak, hickory, and beech trees, carrion, and insect larvae. Bears will also consume agricultural crops, if available. 
     Black bears can cause significant damage while in search of an easy meal. A problem bear can be defined as an animal that has lost its natural fear of humans and habitually causes property damage while in search of food. They’ll go for dird feeders and other wildlife feed, trash receptacles, pet foods, grease from grills, beehives, crops, berry bushes, anything. 
     The Ohio Division of Wildlife does not relocate bears just because one is present in an area. Bears live in Ohio year round. They will continue to come back to a location if food sources are available to them. Hazing the bear off is the first step in dealing with nuisance bears. Black bears are only relocated if it is determined 1) the animal is in a situation where escape is unlikely, 2) it is a threat to public safety, or 3) a sociological conflict is probable

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Can You Eat A Manatee?

     According to a ship log dated January 9, 1493, Christopher Columbus said that on the previous day he “distinctly saw three mermaids, which rose well out of the sea; but they are not so beautiful as they are said to be, for their faces had some masculine traits.” What Columbus saw was probably manatees. 
     West Indian manatees are large, gray aquatic mammals with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They have two forelimbs, called flippers, with three to four nails on each flipper. Their head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout. They are docile creatures and are often called sea cows.
     The West Indian manatee is related to the West African manatee, the Amazonian manatee, the dugong, and Steller’s sea cow, which was hunted to extinction in 1768. The average adult manatee is about 10-13 feet long and weighs between 800 and 1,200 pounds. 

     Manatees live in coastal waters and rivers and are gentle and slow-moving animals that spend most of their time eating, resting, and traveling. They mostly eat aquatic plants and consume floating, emergent, and submerged vegetation from freshwater, brackish, and saltwater environments. However small fish and invertebrates can sometimes be ingested along with the vegetation. 
     Because they are mammals, they must surface to breathe air. They may rest submerged at the bottom or just below the surface of the water, coming up to breathe on an average of every three to five minutes. When they are using a lot of energy, they may surface to breathe as often as every 30 seconds. When resting, manatees have been known to stay submerged for up to 20 minutes. With a single breath, manatees can replace 90 percent of the air in their lungs; humans, by comparison, replace just 10 percent. 
     Manatees can swim up to 20 miles per hour in short bursts, but they usually only swim about three to five miles per hour. 
    They have no natural enemies and it is believed they can live 60 years or more. Most human-related manatee fatalities occur from collisions with boats or being crushed or drowned in canal locks and flood control structures. Other human related causes are ingestion of fish hooks, litter, monofilament line and entangled in crab trap lines. 
     In the United States loss of habitat is the most serious threat they face. The reproductive rate for manatees is low as they are not sexually mature until they are about five years old. Gestation period is about a year and it is believed that one calf is born only every two to five years. The young nurse for one to two years, during which time a calf remains dependent on its mother. 
     Manatees in the United States are protected under federal law by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which make it illegal to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal. They are also protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978. Violations of these federal or state laws can be met with civil or criminal convictions associated with monetary fines and/or imprisonment. In 2012, a woman was arrested in Florida for riding a manatee. 
     Manatees have 2,000 thick, whisker-like hairs called vibrissae on their faces, and 3,000 on their bodies that help the manatee sense and explore the world around it. They have a smooth brain that is the smallest brain of all mammals in relation to its body mass. Despite their small brain, they aren’t stupid. According to a 2006 article in The New York Times by a neuroscientist at the University of Florida at Gainesville, manatees are “as adept at experimental tasks as dolphins, though they are slower-moving and, having no taste for fish, more difficult to motivate.” 
     Manatees are nearsighted and can see in blue, green, and gray, but not red, or blue-green combinations. Their skin is half an inch thick. Are they good eating? 
     As late as the 1960s they were hunted in the Caribbean. They were hunted by 3-4 men with a harpoon,a heavy wooden club and a large sharp knife. The details about the actual hunt and catch aren’t pretty and need not be described here. 
     People said that the meat was as good as, if not better than beef or pork. The meat on their back resembles beef and the meat on their belly resembles pork. It was fried with just a little salt and pepper. It was also often cooked in vinegar and onions like a steak or a big chunk was seasoned and smoked or it could be baked. You could make manatee meatloaf or stew. It could also be fixed like the little pieces of pepper steak mixed with rice that you see in Chinese restaurants. Sounds versatile!