Friday Fun Facts- Poison, My Love, Poison

August 29, 2014

poison

I woke up this morning with death and poisons on the mind……..no, I don’t really want to kill anyone, I simply find it intriguing.

Researching this topic has been so much fun. Trying to decide what to share with you has been the hard part. I’ll stick with the highlights:

Strychnine- produces foaming at the mouth, uncontrollable muscle spasms, exaggerated movements due to tensing muscles and death by asphyxia. (The muscles become too tense and erratic to allow breathing.) In the mid 1800s, Thomas Neil Cream killed several prostitutes with it and as he was waiting to be hanged, he said he’d killed many more as Jack The Ripper!

Death is quick and dramatic- not good for a stealthy kill.

Mercury- This is a clever one. Take some mercury and a light bulb (or any another heating element) and you have a great murder weapon. Once the light bulb heats the mercury on top, it vaporizes into a deadly gas. It won’t kill suddenly, this has to be a patient, well thought out murder. It will take about a month and it can cause skin to peel, burning and itching, kidney failure, tachycardia, and high blood pressure. One of the few tell-tale signs? Gold fillings will turn black inside the mouth. Make sure they have modern fillings and it’s hard to detect unless they do a specific drug screening.

Oxygen- Yes! It can be a killer! Our bodies need CO2 to tell our lungs to function. Bad things happen when that balance gets out of whack. Twitching, convulsions, retina detachment, dizziness, nausea, death. It doesn’t sound pretty.

Arsenic- Victorian girls applied it to their face because they wanted very white skin (like snow) and little movement. The girls would teach each other in school about the right amounts and the dangers of using too much. They would dissolve it in liquids and bathe their faces in it. What were they thinking? There are several recorded cases of school girls dying from this and yet, the practice continued!

In 1857, one of the most infamous cases of it being used as a murder weapon happened. Madeleine Smith took a lover, but he turned out to be a gigolo who would then blackmail his bed partners. He threatened to show her parents the very explicit letters she wrote to him. Angry, she invited him over for hot cocoa. ( Huh?) He thought he had her over a barrel and came that day and the next, drinking her delicious cocoa. It was laced with the colorless, odorless poison and they found over 70 grains of aresenic in his stomach. She was very serious about retribution! Through botched legal wrangling and good luck, she got off completely. Before he died, he suffered cramping, profuse sweating, confusion and intense stomach pain. Again, not a pretty way to die.

Cyanide- This is thought to be a slightly more humane way of killing people because it knocks them out before setting off convulsions and the inability to absorb oxygen. Interestingly enough, Lizzie Borden might have been convicted of killing her parents by axing them to death, if her pharmacist had been allowed to tell the jury she had been in only days before to inquire about buying cyanide. Unfortunately for her, it was no longer available because too many people were using it to kill others. His statement was thrown out of court on a technicality.poisons

 

 


Hump Day Kick Start – Samurai Edition

August 27, 2014

Song of the day:  Touch, Peel and Stand by Days of the New

Hump Day Kick Start – for your muse, a writing picture prompt, or just a visual treat.

samurai

It’s been awhile since I posted a delicious man holding a weapon. Remind me I should do this more often.

Okay, MuseTrackers. Who is our prompt today? Who/what is he looking at? What is he thinking? Is he a trained samurai? Has his honor been challenged? Perhaps someone has threatened his wife (note the ring). Is he taking a moment to find his inner peace before going into battle? What if he was about to fight the woman he loves? Is she  his enemy or is she bait, forcing him into vulnerability? Or maybe he has just come across freakishly large ninja turtles.

Let’s hear your take!


Link of the Week – DuckDuckGo

August 26, 2014

dreamstimefree_217130Recently, I jokingly mused on Facebook about whether the government would red-flag me for Googling subjects such as how to crack vaulted safes. A librarian friend of mine commented about this nifty search engine that doesn’t track you. (Bless you, Pam!) DuckDuckGo boasts of better search results while protecting your privacy. Win!

https://duckduckgo.com

 

 

 


Friday Fun Facts- Ring Around The Rosy

August 22, 2014

1365722957-bubonic_plague When we were children, we sang plenty of childhood songs. One of my particular favorites was Frere Jacques (Brother John). Another top ten on the childhood circuit was Ring Around The Rosy. One would expect such youthful ditties to be full of sunshine, happiness, and playful innocence. Not true. Not by a long shot.

Let’s take a look at the lyrics:

Ring around the rosy

Pockets full of posies

Ashes ashes

We all fall down

The author of this little song has been lost to history, but the first recorded appearance was in 1881 in a Mother Goose book. That being said, as a children’s tradition, it’s much older. And much darker than most songs. It came about during the Great Plague- Black Death- when one is seven contracted the disease. Survival was considered a miracle. In London during a one year time period, over 70,000 people perished. One of the early symptoms is a ring shaped skin rash. Some historians believe this is the meaning behind Ring around the rosy. Others say it’s origins are from the children dancing around the rosy fire pits as they burned the dead bodies. Either way, it’s gruesome.tumblr_lz9g4nsIxF1r5yhsqo9_r1_400

Pockets full of posies refers to the belief that the plague was spread through smell. If you kept a pocket full of fragrant herbs and flowers, this would keep you protected. Even doctors of that time would wear leather masks with long beaks and fill them full of these plants. It was a scary sight!

Ashes ashes brings us back to the cremated remains spread throughout the city. The air was thick with ash and children would often play in it.

We all fall down- This one’s easy. It means we all fall down dead. Not only is this song ghastly, it gives us a hint of the oppressive sadness and surety of death during this time. I suppose, if you didn’t sing and laugh about it, you’d lose your mind waiting for your turn with the Grim Reaper.


Hump Day Kick Start – Bus Edition

August 20, 2014

Song of the day:  My Own Worst Enemy by Lit

Hump Day Kick Start – for your muse, a writing picture prompt, or just a visual treat.

bus

Sorry, folks. No hotties today. Just one heck of an interesting prompt. Just in time for back to school.

Who is our prompt today?  Why is she on top of the bus? Was it her first day as the bus driver for the rowdy kids from the School of Misfits? Is she a member of a musical group who had one hell of a gig the night before and somehow this is where she passed out? (This one time, at band camp…) Maybe she and the bus mechanic just had an “educational” fling on the bus’s roof. We could go darker and say she was thrown from the adjacent building’s roof by an angry ex-lover. Is she Courtney Love and no explanation is needed?

What’s your take? Love to hear it!


Link Of The Week- Nicholas Sparks Gives Us A Helping Hand

August 19, 2014

j0422237

 

There are few writers who have reached the golden apple- you know, the ones who have book tours all over the world and several of their stories have been turned into movies. Sigh. I’d want to be like that when I grow up!

It may surprise you to know that Nicholas Sparks has taken the time to share thoughtful insights in how to get to that lofty spot! I hope you enjoy this link as much as I have reading through his words of wisdom.

 

 

http://nicholassparks.com/for-writers/

 

NicholasSparks


Friday Fun Facts- Let’s Freeze Our Food

August 15, 2014

Good Morning Musetrackers!

Frozen foods. Now there’s a topic you probably would never have thought about researching. Good thing I do the ground work for you! Ha!

Before I regale you with fascinating history, I want to share with you a memory from my childhood. I didn’t grow up in the United States. My younger years were spent in several different countries, but for a huge chunk of it, I lived in Malaysia. Life was very good. That being said, imported foods were sporadic. We shopped once a month and had a large “go-down” at the back of our kitchen. A “go-down” is like a walk-in pantry or larder. When an item was in stock, we bought several of them because we never knew when the next shipment would be. My mother would treat us a few times a year to frozen dinners. Don’t laugh! It was a supreme treat! I clearly remember being able to choose my Swanson fried chicken dinner with such excitement. They weren’t always available and when they were, their cost was quite dear. Ah, the simple pleasures in life.20080631-chicken-tv-dinner

So where did this idea of frozen dinners come from? Well, here’s some fun facts:

-Ancient Chinese and Greeks experimented with cellars made of ice or insulated with snow to keep food fresh longer.

-Clarence Birdseye (a Canadian) used freezing technology with food so it could be sold as a convenience item. Name sound familiar?

- Frozen foods weren’t popular until WWII when the need for metal made frozen foods more appealing than canned.

-After the war, television was invented and people didn’t want to cook as much when certain shows came on.old-skool-tv-set

-TV dinners actually didn’t take off right away. It wasn’t until someone made a HUGE mistake at Swansons and Sons that our modern day dinner came about.

-In 1953 they had an extra 520,000 pounds of left over turkeys after Thanksgiving. Whoops!happy_thanksgiving_MooingTurkeys

-A traveling salesman for the company designed an aluminum tray that looked like a television complete with “control” knobs, filled it with turkey, gravy, potatoes, corn, and a dessert. Bam! The TV dinner!

-Psychologist say that because the tray is segmented and keeps our foods from touching, it reminds us of childhood. We all like things that remind us of being a kid.kidsplaying


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