Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mystery of The Mary Celeste

The Mary Celeste

On a wintry November morning in 1872, Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife Sarah, their two-year-old daughter Sophia and a crew of seven set sail from New York Harbor on the Canadian-built brigantine Mary Celeste, bound for Genoa, Italy. The ship’s hold contained 1,700 barrels of industrial alcohol intended for fortifying Italian wines. Despite the late time of year and reports of bad weather across the Atlantic, Briggs had high expectations for the journey, writing in a letter to his mother, “Our vessel is in beautiful trim and I hope we shal [sic] have a fine passage.”

The “fine passage” quickly turned into one of history’s most chilling maritime mysteries. On December 4, some 600 miles west of Portugal, the helmsman of the Canadian merchant ship Dei Gratia spotted an odd sight through his spyglasses: a vessel with slightly torn sails that seemed to be careening out of control. The Dei Gratia’s captain, David Reed Morehouse, immediately identified the ship as the Mary Celeste; in a strange twist, he and Benjamin Briggs were old friends, and had dined together shortly before their respective departures from New York. When a crew from the Dei Gratia boarded the Mary Celeste, almost everything was present and accounted for, from the cargo in the hold to the sewing machine in the captain’s cabin. Missing, however, were the ship’s only lifeboat–and all of its passengers.

Where happened to the Briggs family and the Mary Celeste’s crew members? Some have suggested that pirates kidnapped them, while others have speculated that a sudden waterspout washed them away. Over the years, the search for a true answer to the Mary Celeste puzzle has come to center on the ship’s cargo. Industrial alcohol can emit highly potent fumes, which may have led the crew to fear an explosion and temporarily evacuate into the lifeboat. At that point, a gale may have swept the ship away, leaving its former passengers stranded and cementing the Mary Celeste’s reputation as the archetypal ghost ship.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Maria "Belle Boyd"-Spy

Maria "Belle" Boyd-Spy

May 4, 1844 – June 11, 1900

Maria "Belle" Boyd, Confederate spy. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) Isabelle "Belle" Boyd was one of the Confederacy's most notorious spies. She was born in May 1844 in Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) to a prosperous family with strong Southern ties. During the Civil War, her father was a soldier in the Stonewall Brigade, and at least three other members of her family were convicted of being Confederate spies.

Following a skirmish at nearby Falling Waters on July 2, 1861, Federal troops occupied Martinsburg. On July 4, Belle Boyd shot and killed a drunken Union soldier who, as she wrote in her post-war memoirs, "addressed my mother and myself in language as offensive as it is possible to conceive. I could stand it no longer...we ladies were obliged to go armed in order to protect ourselves as best we might from insult and outrage." She did not suffer any reprisal for this action, "the commanding officer...inquired into all the circumstances with strict impartiality, and finally said I had 'done perfectly right.'" Thus began her career as "the Rebel Spy" at age 17.

By early 1862 her activities were well known to the Union Army and the press, who dubbed her "La Belle Rebelle," "the Siren of the Shenandoah," "the Rebel Joan of Arc," and "Amazon of Secessia." In fact, the New York Tribune described her whole attire, "…a gold palmetto tree [pin] beneath her beautiful chin, a Rebel soldier's belt around her waist, and a velvet band across her forehead with the seven stars of the Confederacy shedding their pale light therefrom…the only additional ornament she required to render herself perfectly beautiful was a Yankee halter [noose] encircling her neck."

Boyd frequented the Union camps, gathering information, and also acting as a courier. According to her memoirs (which were exaggerated) she managed to eavesdrop through a peephole on a Council of War while visiting relatives whose home in Front Royal, Virginia was being used as a Union headquarters.

Learning that Union Major General Nathanial Banks' forces had been ordered to march, she rode fifteen miles to inform Confederate Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson who was nearby in the Shenandoah Valley. She returned home under cover of darkness. Several weeks later, on May 23, when she realized Jackson was about to attack Front Royal, she ran onto the battlefield to provide the General with last minute information about the Union troop dispositions. Jackson's aide, Lieutenant Henry Kyd Douglas, described seeing "the figure of a woman in white glide swiftly out of town...she heed neither weeds nor fences, but waved a bonnet as she came on." Boyd later wrote, "the Federal pickets...immediately fired upon escape was most providential...rifle-balls flew thick and fast about near my feet as to throw dust in my eyes...numerous bullets whistled by my ears, several actually pierced different parts of my clothing." Jackson captured the town and acknowledged her contribution and her bravery in a personal note.

Boyd's flirtations with Union officers, however, were her strongest source of influence. Contemporaries noted that "without being beautiful, she is very attractive...quite tall...a superb figure...and dressed with much taste." On one occasion, she wooed a Northern soldier to whom, she wrote, "I am indebted for some very remarkable effusions, some withered flowers, and last, but not least, for a great deal of very important information...I must avow the flowers and the poetry were comparatively valueless in my eyes." Boyd continued, "I allowed but one thought to keep possession of my mind—the thought that I was doing all a woman could do for her country's cause."

Boyd was arrested six or seven times, but managed to avoid incarceration until July 29, 1862, when she was finally imprisoned in Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. She was released after a month as part of a prisoner exchange, but was arrested again in July 1863. Boyd was not a model inmate. She waved Confederate flags from her window, she sang Dixie, and devised a unique method of communicating with supporters outside. Her contact would shoot a rubber ball into her cell with a bow and arrow and Boyd would sew messages inside the ball. In December 1863 she was released and banished to the South. She sailed for England on May 8, 1864 and was arrested again as a Confederate courier. She finally escaped to Canada with the help of a Union naval officer, Lieutenant Sam Hardinge, and eventually made her way to England where she and Hardinge were married on August 25, 1864.

Boyd remained in England for two years writing her memoirs, Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison, and achieving success on the stage. She returned to America, a widow and mother, in 1866 where she continued her stage career and lectured on her war experiences; she billed her show as "The Perils of a Spy" and herself as "Cleopatra of the Secession."

In 1869, she married John Swainston Hammond, an Englishman who had fought for the Union Army. In November 1884, sixteen years and four children later, she divorced Hammond. Two months later she married Nathaniel High, Jr., an actor seventeen years her junior. She died, in poverty, of a heart attack at age 56 on June 11, 1900 while on tour in Kilbourn (now Wisconsin Dells), Wisconsin. She is buried there, in Spring Grove Cemetery.

By Mary Lou Groh. Sources include Belle Boyd's autobiography, Belle Boyd, In Camp and Prison; Spies of the Confederacy by John Bakeless, published by J. B. Lippincott Co.; The War the Women Lived by Walter Sullivan, published by J.S. Sanders & Co.; Spies and Spymasters of the Civil War by Donald E. Markle, published by Hippocrene Books; Mighty Stonewall by Frank E. Vandiver, published by Texas and A&M Press; and The Secret War for the Union by Edwin C. Fishel, published by Houghton Mifflin Co.

Dorothy! We're Not In Kansas Anymore!

My Worst Nightmare!


Believe It Or Not!

Giant Chalk Man Linked to County's Fertility Boom!

(NewsCore) - Women living in towns around a giant carving of a chalk man rumored to have the power to improve fertility have more children than women living anywhere else in England, The (London) Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.

Figures show that the county of North Dorset, southwestern England, has the highest fertility rate in the country, with each woman bearing an average of three children.

The county is home to the famous Cerne Abbas Giant, a 55-meter (180-foot) chalk figure carved into a countryside hill. The figure is thought to date back to at least the late 17th century.

Local folklore holds that a woman who sleeps on the figure will be blessed with high fertility rates. Having sex on the figure is rumored to cure infertility.

Women in the central London district of Westminster had the lowest fertility rate, with 1.16 children per woman.

The figures were published by the U.K. Office for National Statistics.

Who Knew?

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How One Yesteryear Comic Book Saved A Present-Day Family!

Superman Comic Saves Family From Foreclosure

 It was Superman to the rescue for a family that was just about to lose their home to foreclosure.

According to , the discovery of Action Comics No. 1 in their basement saved the day.

Worth about $250,000 in the condition found, the debut Superman comic book that started it all for the superhero, had been hidden away in a box since the 1950s.

“They said they came across a box that had magazines in it and some old comic books,” comic book dealer Stephen Fishler said. “And that they came across what appears to be an Action #1.”

Doubtful at first, Fishler says once they sent him a cell phone picture of the comic book he realized it was the real deal.

Luckily for the family, that prefers to remain anonymous, they found their hidden gem as they were packing up their belongings due to the bank’s foreclosure proceedings on their home.

It was the wife’s father who had likely put the comic into the box back in the 1950s as the home had been in the family’s possession since then.

The couple told Fishler they are “still a little shell-shocked about finding this book. I was so nervous when I realized what it was worth. I know I am very fortunate, but I will be greatly relieved when this book finds a new home.”

According to , Fishler is the one who sold an Action #1 in February for $1 million and another one a month later for $1.5 million.

The copy that saved the family from losing their home, was on display at Comic-Con in San Diego over the weekend where it was to be officially graded.

Fishler was counting on a VG+ (Very Good) rating that should garner at least $250,000 when it is sold on ComicConnect .


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Young Judy Garland

The Good Old Days!

We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it. ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 1860

Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect! ~Owens Lee Pomeroy

If you're yearning for the good old days, just turn off the air conditioning. ~Griff Niblack

People seem to get nostalgic about a lot of things they weren't so crazy about the first time around. ~Author Unknown

It's never safe to be nostalgic about something until you're absolutely certain there's no chance of its coming back. ~Bill Vaughn

The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to the idealized past. ~Robertson Davies, A Voice from the Attic

It becomes increasingly easy, as you get older, to drown in nostalgia. ~Ted Koppel

Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days. ~Doug Larson

Things ain't what they used to be and probably never was. ~Will Rogers

Nostalgia is a seductive liar. ~George Wildman Ball

Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory. ~Franklin Pierce Adams

True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories. ~Florence King

I don't like nostalgia unless it's mine. ~Lou Reed

Who wants to live with one foot in hell just for the sake of nostalgia? Our time is forever now! ~Alice Childress

Nostalgia for what we have lost is more bearable than nostalgia for what we have never had.... ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Sunday, July 25, 2010

This Day in History--Louise Brown--1st TestTube Baby Born--July 25, 1978

July 25:

1978 : World's first "test tube baby" born

On this day in 1978, Louise Joy Brown, the world's first baby to be conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) is born at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England, to parents Lesley and Peter Brown. The healthy baby was delivered shortly before midnight by caesarean section and weighed in at five pounds, 12 ounces.

Before giving birth to Louise, Lesley Brown had suffered years of infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes. In November 1977, she underwent the then-experimental IVF procedure. A mature egg was removed from one of her ovaries and combined in a laboratory dish with her husband’s sperm to form an embryo. The embryo then was implanted into her uterus a few days later. Her IVF doctors, British gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and scientist Robert Edwards, had begun their pioneering collaboration a decade earlier. Once the media learned of the pregnancy, the Browns faced intense public scrutiny. Louise’s birth made headlines around the world and raised various legal and ethical questions.

The Browns had a second daughter, Natalie, several years later, also through IVF. In May 1999, Natalie became the first IVF baby to give birth to a child of her own. The child’s conception was natural, easing some concerns that female IVF babies would be unable to get pregnant naturally. In December 2006, Louise Brown, the original "test tube baby," gave birth to a boy, Cameron John Mullinder, who also was conceived naturally.

Today, IVF is considered a mainstream medical treatment for infertility. Hundreds of thousands of children around the world have been conceived through the procedure, in some cases with donor eggs and sperm.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This Day In History-Dillinger Gunned Down! 1934

 July 22  .

Outside Chicago's Biograph Theatre, notorious criminal John Dillinger--America's "Public Enemy No. 1"--is killed in a hail of bullets fired by federal agents. In a fiery bank-robbing career that lasted just over a year, Dillinger and his associates robbed 11 banks for more than $300,000, broke jail and narrowly escaped capture multiple times, and killed seven police officers and three federal agents.

John Dillinger was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1903. A juvenile delinquent, he was arrested in 1924 after a botched mugging. He pleaded guilty, hoping for clemency, but was sentenced to 10 to 20 years at Pendleton Reformatory. While in prison, he made several failed escapes and was adopted by a group of professional bank robbers led by Harry Pierpont, who taught him the ways of their trade. When his friends were transferred to Indiana's tough Michigan City Prison, he requested to be transferred there too.

In May 1933, Dillinger was paroled, and he met up with accomplices of Pierpont. Dillinger's plan was to raise enough funds to finance a prison break by Pierpont and the others, who then would take him on as a member of their elite robbery gang. In four months, Dillinger and his gang robbed four Indiana and Ohio banks, two grocery stores, and a drug store for a total of more than $40,000. He gained notoriety as a sharply dressed and athletic gunman who at one bank leapt over the high teller railing into the vault.

With the help of two of Pierpont's women friends, Dillinger set up the jailbreak. Guns were bought and arranged to be smuggled into Michigan City Prison. Prison workers were bribed, and a safe house was set up. On September 22, however, just days before the jailbreak was scheduled to occur, Dillinger was arrested in Dayton, Ohio. Four days later, Pierpont and nine others broke out of Michigan City. Pierpont's gang robbed a bank in Ohio for $11,000 and on October 12 came to Ohio to free Dillinger from the Lima city jail. The Lima sheriff was killed during the successful breakout. On October 30, the gang robbed a police arsenal, acquiring weapons, ammunition, and bulletproof vests.

The Pierpont/Dillinger gang robbed banks in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Chicago for more than $130,000, a great fortune in the Depression era, and eluded the police in several close encounters. In January 1934, the gang headed to Tucson, Arizona, to lay low. By this time, four police officers had been killed and two wounded, and the Chicago police had established an elite squad to track down the fugitives. They were recognized in Tucson and on January 25 captured without bloodshed.

Dillinger was extradited to Indiana, arraigned for his January 15 murder of Indiana police officer William Patrick O'Malley, and held at Crown Point prison. On March 3, while still awaiting trial, he executed his most celebrated escape. That morning, he brandished a gun and methodically began locking up the prison officials. The legend is that the weapon was a wooden gun carved by Dillinger and blackened with shoe polish, but it may also have been a real gun smuggled into the prison by an associate. Whatever the case, Dillinger raided the prison arsenal, where he found two sub-machine guns, and then enlisted the aid of another prisoner, an African American man named Herbert Youngblood. Dillinger and Youngblood then made their way to the prison garage, where they stole a sheriff's car and calmly drove off--after pulling the ignition wires from the other vehicles parked there.

Parting ways with Youngblood, Dillinger traveled to Chicago and formed a new gang featuring "Baby Face" Nelson, a psychopathic killer who used to work for Al Capone. The new Dillinger gang robbed banks in South Dakota and Iowa, netting $101,500 and wounding two more police officers. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) joined the manhunt for Dillinger after he escaped from Crown Point, and on March 31 two FBI agents closed in on him at an apartment in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dillinger and an accomplice shot their way out.

In April, the Dillinger gang went to hide out at a resort in Wisconsin, but the FBI was tipped off. On April 22, the FBI stormed the resort. In a disastrous operation, three civilians were mistakenly shot by the FBI, one of whom died; Baby Face Nelson killed one agent, shot another, and critically wounded a police officer; the entire Dillinger gang escaped.

With two other gang members, Dillinger traveled to Chicago, surviving a shoot-out with Minnesota police along the way. In Chicago, he lived in a safe house and got a facelift to conceal his identity. At some point, he also used acid to burn off his fingerprints. On June 30, he participated in his last robbery, in South Bend, Indiana. The gang got away with about $30,000 at the cost of one officer killed, four civilians shot, and one gang member shot.

In July, Anna Sage, a Romanian-born brothel madam in Chicago and friend of Dillinger's, agreed to cooperate with the FBI in exchange for leniency in an upcoming deportation hearing. She also hoped to cash in on the $10,000 bounty that had been put on his head. On July 22, Sage and Dillinger went to see the gangster movie Manhattan Melodrama at the Biograph Theatre around the corner from her house. Twenty FBI agents and police officers staked out the theater and waited for him to emerge with Sage, who would be wearing an orange dress to identify herself.

At 10:40 p.m., Dillinger came out. Sage's orange dress looked red under the Biograph's lights, which would earn her the nickname "the lady in red." Dillinger was ordered to surrender, but he took off running. He made it as far as an alley at the end of the block before he was gunned down, allegedly because he pulled a gun. Two bystanders were wounded in the gunfire. Public Enemy No. 1, as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had deemed him, was dead.

Some researchers have claimed that another man, not Dillinger, was killed outside the Biograph, citing autopsy findings on the corpse that allegedly contradict Dillinger's known medical record.

This Day In History~~1861~~The 1ST Battle of Bull Run

In the first major land battle of the Civil War, a large Union force under General Irvin McDowell is routed by a Confederate army under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard.

Three months after the Civil War erupted at Fort Sumter, Union military command still believed that the Confederacy could be crushed quickly and with little loss of life. In July, this overconfidence led to a premature offensive into northern Virginia by General McDowell. Searching out the Confederate forces, McDowell led 34,000 troops--mostly inexperienced and poorly trained militiamen--toward the railroad junction of Manassas, located just 30 miles from Washington, D.C. Alerted to the Union advance, General Beauregard massed some 20,000 troops there and was soon joined by General Joseph Johnston, who brought some 9,000 more troops by railroad.

On the morning of July 21, hearing of the proximity of the two opposing forces, hundreds of civilians--men, women, and children--turned out to watch the first major battle of the Civil War. The fighting commenced with three Union divisions crossing the Bull Run stream, and the Confederate flank was driven back to Henry House Hill. However, at this strategic location, Beauregard had fashioned a strong defensive line anchored by a brigade of Virginia infantry under General Thomas J. Jackson. Firing from a concealed slope, Jackson's men repulsed a series of Federal charges, winning Jackson his famous nickname "Stonewall."

Meanwhile, Confederate cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart captured the Union artillery, and Beauregard ordered a counterattack on the exposed Union right flank. The rebels came charging down the hill, yelling furiously, and McDowell's line was broken, forcing his troops in a hasty retreat across Bull Run. The retreat soon became an unorganized flight, and supplies littered the road back to Washington. Union forces endured a loss of 3,000 men killed, wounded, or missing in action while the Confederates suffered 2,000 casualties. The scale of this bloodshed horrified not only the frightened spectators at Bull Run but also the U.S. government in Washington, which was faced with an uncertain military strategy in quelling the "Southern insurrection."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Born This Day in 1860~~Lizzie Andrew Borden

Lissie Andrew Borden

(born July 19, 1860, Fall River, Massachusetts, U.S.—died June 1, 1927, Fall River) American woman suspected of murdering her stepmother and father; her trial became a national sensation in the United States.

Borden was the daughter of a well-to-do businessman who married for a second time in 1865, three years after Lizzie's mother died. Lizzie was popular and engaged in charitable work. Her father, by contrast, was reputedly dour and parsimonious—as well as eminently wealthy—and Lizzie and her elder sister Emma were ever at odds with him and their stepmother, often over financial matters. On a Thursday morning, August 4, 1892, Mr. Borden left home to conduct his business, leaving in the house, besides his wife, an Irish maid (Bridget Sullivan) and Lizzie. (Emma was away visiting.) On his return, he settled on a couch for a nap. About 11:15 , Lizzie (according to her testimony) discovered her father dead, repeatedly struck in the head with a sharp instrument. Upstairs his wife's body was found, even more brutally mutilated; examination proved that her death had preceded her husband's by an hour or so. It was found that Lizzie had tried to purchase prussic acid (a poison) on August 3, and a few days later she was alleged to have burned a dress in a stove. Sullivan, who also has been suspected, later that evening reportedly left the house carrying an unexamined parcel. No weapon was found, though an axe found in the basement was suspected.

Lizzie was arrested and tried for both murders in June 1893 but was acquitted, given the circumstantial evidence. She was nonetheless ostracized thereafter by the people of her native Fall River, Massachusetts, where she continued to live until her death in 1927. The grisly murders inspired a great many books, both serious studies and fiction; Fall River Legend (1948), a ballet by Agnes de Mille; an opera, Lizzie Borden (1965), by Jack Beeson and Kenward Elmslie; and one immortal, if slightly inaccurate, quatrain:

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks;

And when she saw what she had done

She gave her father forty-one.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wonderful Achievers No One Ever Knew About!

Wonderful Achievers No One Ever Knew About

One of the popular ways often used to hoax people on April Fool's Day is to report about some wonder people who have managed to do something really extraordinary. It is really hilarious to imagine, think and perceive the people who readily believe the gossips and rumors, even on 1st of April, and be crowned as April Fool. Here are some classic examples of wonder-achievers that have sprung out from the minds of the people with high level of imagination.

Sports Illustrated, in its April 1985 issue, published an article by George Plimpton reporting that Mets team has struck a pot of gold by discovering a new rookie pitcher for them named Sidd Finch. This wonder player was reported to throw a baseball with pinpoint accuracy at 168 mph (65 mph faster than anyone else till then). What was more wonderful was the fact that Sidd Finch, who was the student in a Tibetan monastery till then under the training of the monk known as Lama Milaraspa, had never played the game before! The excited Mets fans eager to know more about this gifted player were disappointed to know that hey had been hoaxed.

In 1981, the upright and kind Londoners were much moved by the report published by the Daily Mail about a Japanese long-distance runner, Kimo Nakajimi, who entered the London Marathon. According to the story, Timothy Bryant, an import director, who translated the rules to him had been learning Japanese just for two years and by mistake translated 26 miles, the distance the participants had to run, to 26 days. Thus, the athlete mistaking the race to be one of the very long races organized in Japan is determined to finish the race. Many people called in to say that they had spotted Nakajimi on the roads of England but could not flag him down. The only thing was that there was no such participant in the first place.

In 1998, a big party was organized at Jeff Koons's New York studio. The party was meant to honor the memory of the late Nat Tate (1928-60) who was a great American abstract artist. He was said to be troubled and committed suicide by leaping to his death from the Staten Island ferry after destroying 99% of his work. The superstar David Bowie read aloud passages from Tate's biography written by William Boyd that was to be released soon. Critics kept appreciating Tate's work throughout the party, not even guessing that the work and the person they appear to know about so well were just the pieces of satirical fiction created by William Boyd. Only people to know the truth were Bowie, Boyd and Boyd's publisher.

The famous Red Herring Magazine published an article in its April 1999 issue about the invention of a new technology to compose and send email telepathically by the company called Tidal Wave Communications. The Estonian computer genius Yuri Maldini was said to be the mastermind behind the technology and he claimed that he developed it using the encrypted communications systems used in Gulf War by the army. It was said that he even sent e-mail to the reporter interviewing him telepathically as a demonstration. Many readers later admitted that they were really fooled by the article.

A semi-naked man with 'Soy Bomb' crawled on his chest shocked the viewers, the audience and Bob Dylan by managing to reach the stage and dancing out there during Bob's solo performance at the Grammys that was broadcasted in February 1998. He was quickly escorted away by security guards. Later, on April 1, Rhino Records made a startling announcement that it had signed Soy Bomb for two-year contract, during which he would record six albums and his very first album would include popular classics such as 'Dancing Machine' and 'You Dropped a Bomb on Me'. Apparently, they had been moved by his courageous and bold performance!

Thanks to!

Strange Historical Facts!

Strange Historical Facts

Here are some strange, silly and weird historical facts that will set you wonder what made them the rule of the times. Some of these dumb facts in history and cultures of the past have filtered down to our times in a very different form than from the time when they were originated:

3000 years ago, most Egyptians were considered old and died by the age of 30.

Amount American Airlines proved how economy could make us save a fortune by saving $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating just one olive from each salad served in first class.

Ancient Egyptians used slabs of stones as pillows.

In 1962, the schools in Tanganyika had to be closed because of an outbreak of contagious laughter that lasted for six months!

In 1980, workers in a Las Vegas hospital were suspended because they use to bet on when patients would die.

In ancient China, doctors could receive fees only if their patient was cured. If it deteriorated, they would have to pay the patient.

In ancient Egypt, people shaved eyebrows as a mourning symbol when their cats died.

In the 1800s, if you attempted suicide and failed, you would have to face the death penalty.

Niagara Falls experienced a break of half an hour in 1848, when an ice jam blocked the source river.

People have been wearing glasses for about 700 years.

Lochness Monster inhabits the fresh water lake of Scotland.

Spider webs were used to cure warts during the Middle Ages.

The custom of shaking hands with the strangers originated to show that both the parties were unarmed.

The number of people over hundred increased from 4,000 in 1960 to 55,000 in 1995 in US alone.

Thanks to

Presidential Fun Facts

How I Help My Daughter To Embrace Summer Reading!

I Can Read! Books Become an I Can Read! Member

For one thing, my daughter, Gracie, loves to read. I want to make that perfectly clear. But trying to get her to read when she would much rather go swimming is another thing!

HarperCollins Children’s Books wants to make sure my readers are aware of the number one beginner reader series in the country. I Can Read! is the official sponsor of this conversation. It's the open door to a child’s adventure with the most beloved characters in the history of children’s literature. It a proven series for encouraging young readers from early reading together to advanced reading alone. The series debuted in 1957 with the introduction of a familiar favorite, Little Bear. It was one of the first ever easy-to-read books that children could read independently, and has been in print ever since. Now with more than 6 million I Can Read! books sold, including 200 titles, I Can Read! books is the best series to take children step by step into the wonderful world of reading on their own. Please be sure to incorporate some of this background information in your post, or reference more information on the series, along with a complete list of I Can Read! books and activities.

Here are some of my personal tips for your little readers!

1. The Library!

My Issaquah Library has a tremendous summer reading program for kids from reading contests to famous visiting authors to special surprise programs! Most libraries do, too. I urge you to check out your nearest location!

2. I've mentioned before that Gracie is an avid dumpster diver and thrift store diva. I don't even have to urge her to go to the book section of Goodwill. Make a game of this with your child! It's fun and Gracie has even found some 1st editions!

3. There's nothing like a children's book club. Most offer books for free or a nominal fee when you join and kids just love getting books in the mail! Who doesn't?

4. I, for one, love getting junk mail and so I sign up for everything and anything free! Sometimes I use Gracie's name and this generates mailings of free address stickers in her name! She loves it and uses the stickers to claim her books and even write more letters than she did!

To find out more about this program or to express your views and ideas, go HERE!

About HarperCollins Children's Books:

HarperCollins Children’s Books is one of the leading publishers of children’s books. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality books for children, HarperCollins is home to many of the classics of children's literature, including Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree, Charlotte's Web, Ramona, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, the I Can Read! beginning reader series and countless award-winning titles. HarperCollins Children's Books is a division of HarperCollins Publishers, one of the leading English-language publishers in the world. Visit HarperCollins Children's Books at

About I Can Read!:

The number one beginner reader series in the country, I Can Read!, is the open door to a child’s adventure with the most beloved characters in the history of children’s literature. It is the premiere and proven series for encouraging young readers from early reading together to advanced reading alone. The series debuted in 1957 with the introduction of a familiar favorite, Little Bear. It was one of the first ever easy-to-read books that children could read independently, and has been in print ever since. Now with more than 6 million I Can Read! books sold, including 200 titles, I Can Read! books is the best series to take children step by step into the wonderful world of reading on their own.

Complete list of I Can Read! books and activities.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms blogging program to be eligible to get an "I Can Read!" book. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Friday, July 9, 2010

This Day in History-July 9th, 1918-Dutchman's Curve

Trains collide outside Nashville

Previous Day July 9 Calendar Next Day

Two trains collide outside Nashville, Tennessee, killing 101 people, on this day in 1918. Despite the high death toll, the story was mainly ignored by the national press.

It was just after 7 a.m. when the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis line's Train No. 1 arrived at the Shops station. It was carrying a large contingent of workers heading for their jobs at the munitions plant in Harding, Tennessee, the next stop on the line. The train's engineer was supposed to wait for an express train to pass through the Shops station in the opposite direction before heading to Harding.

Instead, the engineer headed out after a freight train passed by, a terrible mistake. Train No. 1 had reached about 50 miles per hour when the express train appeared before it suddenly, traveling even faster. There was no time to brake. Both trains engines exploded on impact. The first two cars on each train were thrown forward and collapsed on each other. Everything and everyone in these cars were destroyed.

In addition to the 101 people killed, another 100 people were seriously injured. Despite the magnitude of the disaster, many newspapers across the country did not even cover the story, most likely because the vast majority of the casualties were African Americans.