Friday Fun Facts- The Great State Of Texas!

April 24, 2015

As my web site proclaims that even though I consider myself a child of the world, I was born in the great state of Texas! My family goes back generations and I’ve fostered a real love for Texas in my children. My daughter, who has been away at college for the last five years, will be finishing her Masters and coming home. Her comment is-“At last, I’m coming back to the Motherland!”

Here are some things you may NOT know.Picture174

– Everything really IS bigger in Texas! It is 268,596 square miles and is the second largest state behind Alaska. We have the largest capitol building and the highest speed limit (85 mph. in some parts), we are also the biggest cattle, cotton and oil producer.

– The term “maverick” was coined by Samuel A. Maverick back in the 1800s. He was a Texan lawyer and a pioneer back in the day.

– That golden statue named Oscar was named for a Texan. His niece worked in Hollywood for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. When she saw the golden man, she said, “Why, that looks just like my Uncle Oscar.”   **I promise, I’m not making this up!images

– It is illegal to indecently expose or swear in front of a corpse here. Don’t ask me why.

– In Galveston, it is illegal to have a camel run loose on the beach. Huh? Really, don’t ask me why about that either.

– Texas declares it a hanging offense if you steal a man’s cow or put graffiti on it. OK, fine go ahead and ask me why……………..I don’t have a clue.cowboy

– The city of Slaughter, Texas has never had a homicide.

– The largest city in Texas is Houston (Ah, home, sweet home) and it’s the fourth largest in the U.S.

– The deadliest U.S. disaster was the great hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. It killed between 8,000 to 12,000 people.download

– We were an independent nation from 1836 to 1845! We were annexed in 1845, but we have permission to fly our flag at the same height of the national flag.

– A fast way for folks to let their family and friends know where they were headed was to leave a type of short hand back in the 19th century. “G.T.T.” meant “Gone To Texas” and it meant they were off to find a better life and greener pastures. These letters were used so often by people, and even the ones on the run from the law, it eventually meant “on the lam.”

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Friday Fun Facts- Klu Klux Klan

April 10, 2015

RebelBrigadeKnightsoftheKuKluxKlanatthestartofacrosslightingceremonyMartinsvilleVirginiaUSAJuly22011_zpsb6a0bc5e

I’m not sure I would classify these facts as “fun”, but they were interesting to learn. Since I grew up overseas, I had a limited knowledge of this group. My research for this blog post has led me to some interesting places with even more interesting people. Unfortunately, this is not just a historical lesson because the KKK is still alive and well in 41 states and has between 5-8000 members. They call themselves the “Invisible Empire” and are still intolerant of many things. Articles I read state that some of the groups shy away from cross burnings and violence these days, but that element is still evident in many of the chapters. Sigh.

While it’s not a happy topic, it may be a great topic to add to a book. These facts could apply to historicals as well as contemporary novels.

Here goes:

– Dan Burros who was a member of both the American Nazi Party and the KKK committed suicide after he learned his Jewish background was made public. A New York Times article lambasted him as a hypocrite since his heritage was not pure and he spouted such hate. The dilemma then was whether to classify it as suicide or a hate crime.

– Timing is everything. In 1957, a college in Alabama had recently integrated and was in the middle of finals week. The KKK set up a cross burning on campus but didn’t take into account all the students would be in the dorms studying. The kids took up bats, golf clubs and whatever else they had on hand as a makeshift weapon and forced the KKK to retreat!

– The KKK hates Westboro Baptist Church. What?? Don’t they have similar hate points? Why yes they do, except for how they feel about the military. On Memorial Day 2011, members of the Westboro church showed up at a military funeral spouting “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and members of the KKK showed up handing out American flags. Westboro denounced them for having no moral authority because they were racist and the KKK denounced the church group by saying many soldiers had died for their right to protest. Another big sigh.KKK2

– KKK members claim that cross burnings are symbols of their “Christian” faith. How did it get started? Believe it, or not, Sir Walter Scott began the tradition with his poem The Lady of the Lake which refers to an old Scottish tradition of burning a cross to call a meeting of the clans. This was most popular in the South probably because there was such a large number of people of Scotch- Irish descent. Sir Walter Scott’s vivid imagery was especially appealing to the novelist Thomas Dixon, who was an avid supporter of the KKK. He added a cross burning scene in his pro-Klan novel, The Clansman, even though that had never been done. In 1905, the novel was turned into the movie, The Birth of a Nation, and it inspired the founder of the second Klan to kick off the 1915 revival with the first cross burning service in KKK history.

– Unity barbecues and some casual gatherings are called Klonvocations.

– Literary figures played into creating a part of the Klan’s history with cross burnings, it also had a hand in humiliating it. Superman often fought villains such as Lex Luther, Brainiac and Doomsday. Did you know he also fought the KKK in a serial called Clan of the Fiery Cross? Instead of the typical bad guys as the enemy of the Man of Steel, this time he battled racism in 1946. The real-life man behind the story infiltrated the KKK and tried to take all he learned to the cops. Either they were too afraid or were a part of the KKK, but nothing was done with his information. So he took it to the producers of the radio show. When the facts of this particular group kept getting played on national radio, the group switched codes etc., but to no avail. They never did figure out how the show knew their secrets!

– We cherish our rights here in America, but those rights extend to people we disagree with as well. The KKK applied, in 1994, to adopt a section of highway in Missouri. The state didn’t want the KKK’s sign on their highways so they turned them down. The KKK sued and won. After the large sign announcing the KKK adopted that stretch of highway went up, the state congress renamed that highway as “Rosa Parks Highway” after the famous civil rights activist. The KKK eventually lost interest in keeping that stretch of road clean and stopped picking up the trash. This allowed the state to take down the sign.

 

 

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A Firestorm This Week- What Do You Think?

March 27, 2015
Is that what this is?

Is that what this is?

There’s been a big uproar this week over the creation of a new app to blur out and/or replace profanity in books. A couple designed it because their child read a book but was sad about the cuss words in it. (Why is a fourth grader reading a book with any cussing in it??)

I digress.

The idea is that if you buy a book from their site, then you get an app that will clean up dirty words. It’s important to note that they do NOT change the book in any way. This app is an overlay on the text and the reader can turn it off at will. The customer can choose the level of “cleanliness” they want and then it goes to town.

As you can imagine there have been some vehement opinions: (Be advised- there are many curse words in these two articles)

http://joannechocolat.tumblr.com/post/114425387366/why-im-saying-fuck-you-to-clean-reader

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/03/25/fuck-you-clean-reader-authorial-consent-matters/

So there’s the argument.

I’m on the fence.

On the one hand, I understand the artist’s objection to someone manipulating their work without their consent. I get that, I really do. I don’t want people changing the meaning or the tone of what I write. What I’m having trouble swallowing is the impending disaster that is sure to happen if this is allowed. This app is such a censorship, it will ultimately end with book burning and banning. Hmmmm. This tool does nothing directly to the written work and they are not impeding it being sold in any way. It could be argued that a person who is careful about reading books with no profanity might choose a wider variety if they had something to “bleep” out those words. It’s a personal preference.

The other thing that was said almost immediately was that it was a “Christian” thing. I disagree. I have Zen Buddhist and Hindu friends who avoid all profanity to the best of their ability because it disturbs their balance. Again, personal preference.

The owner of the app wrote an article about the discourse and his stance is that they don’t believe they are infringing on any copyright laws and they are not taking anything away from the author. He also goes on to say that as a consumer, once the item is bought they have the right to consume it however they see fit.

http://www.cleanreaderapp.com/blog/

I do have a problem with him mentioning an author he likes to read because he “writes well enough” to avoid resorting to profanity. Whoops. You could sway me on most points, but this is where I draw the line. An author has to be true to their character. A special ops alpha hero will just not say, “Gosh darn it.”.

I know this is an emotionally laden issue. I’m not sure where I stand. Are the rights of authors who haven’t given their consent for the book to be read in a different way being violated? Does Clean Reader have the right to create something that changes nothing of the original work, but makes it far more palatable for some readers to consume? Are there copyright laws being massacred? Do they have a point with- “I bought it. I can read anyway I want.”? Sheesh! I don’t know the answer!

Help me wade through this topic. What are your thoughts whether you are a reader or writer?


Link Of The Week- Online Accountability!

March 24, 2015

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I have partners who meet with me several times a week to write. We have been doing a great job of increasing productivity, but some of us need a bit more structure. I poked around the interenet and found several word count trackers- some easier than others and then I ran into this-

http://pacemaker.sewillia.com/?

“Pacemaker is a playful way of making peace with your writing goals. You set a word count goal, chip away at it day by day and finish on-time! You can approach your writing target in various ways to suit your style :

  • Steady – write the same amount of words every day.
  • Rising to the Challenge – start off small and increase your word count quota every day.
  • Biting the Bullet – bite off large chunks of your writing goal at the beginning of your schedule so that the pressure is off at the end of your schedule.
  • Random – each day is a surprise, you may need to complete 5 words or 500! Whether heavy or light, you’ll reach your word count goal at the end of your specified schedule.

 


Friday Fun Facts- The Fine Art Of Torture

March 20, 2015

We are a creative lot. That gift extends to ways of torturing unfortunate individuals- and some of them are a doozy!

1. The Tub- A person was forced to sit in a tub of water with only his head exposed. Their face was then covered in milk and honey so flies would swarm their skin and begin to feed. These people would also be fed on a regular basis so they’d end up sitting in their own excrement. Maggots and worms would devour their bodies while they decayed alive.A+wooden+tub+_2a42ecbce969e7c71e558e7e47d71c59

2. Impalement- Vlad The Impaler was a real fan of this method. (Go figure.) The recipient of this treat was forced to sit on a thick, sharpened to a point, pole. The pole was raised and the victim was left to slide down the pole as his weight and gravity did their trick. Vlad was rumored to have done this to 20,000 people while enjoying a meals as they screamed their way to death.impalement-of-waldenses-granger

3. The Brazen Bull- Whoa! Here’s one I was not familiar with! A large brass bull was fashioned out of brass. It was entirely hollow from the mouth, down the throat and into the stomach. A person would be bound and placed into the stomach of the bull with a fire burning right below and the door to the stomach shut. As the human would slowly roast alive inside the bull his screams would shoot out the bull’s mouth and sound like he was bellowing.

4. The Lead Sprinkler- This toy is much like a metal stick with a ball on the end. The ball has several holes punched into it to allow the molten silver or some other metal to “sprinkle” out. The molten balls of torture are shaken onto the victim, burning tender flesh to the bone. As a final move, the torturer would pour the liquid silver into their eyes bringing agonizing pain, blindness, and an eventual death.ww_sprinkcard1

5. Rat Torture- This technique was popular with all the fashionable torture houses in medieval times. A person would be strapped to a table and immobilised. A large glass cage would be set upon their stomach with the bottom open to their skin. Large rats would be placed inside. On the top of the cage, large burning embers would be placed so the rats could feel the extreme heat. Their natural inclination would be to get away from the perceived danger so they would begin burrowing down into our person’s stomach. It was a slow and horrendously painful way to die. For sport, they would sometimes remove the heat so the rats would calm down and then put fresh coals back on to terrify the animals.r5U9b35


Friday Stupid Flu Facts

February 27, 2015

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Watch out. I’m crabby and sick…yes, I’ve got the flu.

Today is actually the first day where my head has felt clear enough to think and my temperature hasn’t bounced between 102-103. It started on Monday with just a little innocuous cough. I wasn’t sick. No way. By Tuesday, all I wanted to do was curl up in my bedroom and not move. I haven’t been this sick in decades. It sucks.

Anyway- enough about me. There are some interesting facts about this little bugger.

– The term “influenza” comes from the Italians. “Influentia” was the title they gave it because it had to come from the influence of the planets, stars and moon. What else could cause such a sudden and widespread wasteland of sickness?

– The English adopted the word “influenza” in the mid eighteenth century. In Arabic, there’s a similar sounding word given to it which means “nose of the goat” because they believed it was brought in by the goats.

– There have been 4 major global flu pandemics since 1900. Most recent has been the swine flu (H1N1). In 1968-69, the Hong Kong flu killed approximately 1 million people. In 1957-58, the Asian flu swept through leaving somewhere between 1-4 million people dead. And then there’s the biggie- in 1918-19, the Spanish flu pandemic killed between 50-100 million people worldwide.

– The Spanish flu killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS did in 24 years. It also killed more people in one year than smallpox or the Black Plague did in 50 years!download

– It even had a nick name. The Spanish flu was referred to as “the purple death” because the worst symptom right before death was called “heliotrope cyanosis”. The lungs were starved of oxygen and the patient would turn purple, black, or blue.

– A negative swine flu test doesn’t mean you don’t have H1N1. Really?!?

– Viruses are 20-100 times smaller than bacteria and can only be seen with strong microscopes.

– Virus is a Latin term meaning poisonous, slimy liquid. (That sounds about right.)

– Viruses mutate more in one day than humans have in several million years.

– Even with today’s powerful antibiotics, bacterial pneumonia is still the most common complication to the flu and the reason for a huge number of deaths.

– Reyes syndrome is a rare but potentially fatal disorder linked to taking aspirin during a viral illness. What we forget about is that dozens of cold and flu remedies contain aspirin. Symptoms include persistent vomiting, fever, confusion with liver and brain damage occurring within a few days.

– The source of flu vaccines are chickens so if you are allergic to eggs, you need to be under a doctor’s care if you have one. ( The pharmacist told me this year’s shot has proved very ineffective.)

– Did I mention it sucks?

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Friday Fun Facts- Just Plain Interesting

February 20, 2015

To bring you interesting facts, I cruise the internet in the strangest places. Today’s tidbits actually come from a radio station! The first one grossed me out so much I had to keep reading. These are some of the most random facts I’ve come across and I hope you find them as interesting as I did.

1. A cockroach can live for 7 days off the toothpaste residue in a toothbrush you only used once.1864655cc6yqk20aa

2. Bubble gum is pink because pink was the only color of dye lying around when its inventor, Walter Diemer, made a good batch of it.69781_1573344448873_1093404299_31450149_5503978_n

3. The world record for constipation is 102 days.

4. Of the 12 men who walked on the moon, 11 were Boy Scouts. The only one who wasn’t was James Irwin, from Apollo 15, who became the eighth man to walk on the moon in 1971.

5. Salmon are pink because they eat so many red-colored shellfish. Except the farmed salmon you eat, they don’t eat shrimp, so they should be gray. During processing, a pink coloring is added to make you feel more comfortable.raw_salmon

6. Bill Gates’ house was designed using a Mac.

7. Sprinting for 60 minutes burns as many calories as jogging for seven hours.

8. The police in Dubai have a Ferrari and Lamborghini, allegedly because so many other people there have Ferraris and Lamborghinis, the cops also need them to keep up in case of a high-speed chase.lamborghini


Link Of The Week-Daily Writing Tips!

February 17, 2015

 

“Whether you are an attorney, manager or student, writing skills are essential to your success. The rise of the information age – with the proliferation of emails, blogs and social networks – makes the ability to write clear, correct English more important than ever.

Daily Writing Tips is about that. Every day we publish a new article, with topics ranging from grammar to punctuation, from spelling to usage and vocabulary.”

 

 

 

lady_thinking

 

Start your day off with a bang with a special writing tip just for you.

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/


Link Of The Week- Game On!

February 10, 2015

“Writers are expert procrastinators. These online games are excellent procrastination tools, but will also put your language skills to work.”

http://www.hamptonroadswriters.org/games.php

 

I had the best time exploring this site!IMG_5193


Friday Fun Facts- Medical Innovations From The Civil War

February 6, 2015

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When I think of the Civil War, I think of disease, death and filth. The reality is that there were quite a number of medical innovations to improve survival chances made during this terrible time. MacGyver would have been proud at the ingenuity of some of these doctors.

-A typical battlefield treatment for badly wounded limbs was to subject them to wound cleaning rats and maggots. The death rate was staggering. During the war, they discovered that if you quickly changed a complex wound to a simple one, the odds were definitely more in your favor. This typically was done within the first hour after injury and it helped prevent massive infections setting in.pvtsewell

**Side Story- A general who had his leg amputated above the knee sent his leg to the Army Medical Museum and visited it every year on its anniversary of being severed from the rest of the body. This wasn’t the only odd thing he did in his life. While serving in Congress, he shot the son of Francis Scott Key for sleeping with his wife. He was then the first person to be found “not guilty” by reason of temporary insanity.**

-Chloroform was a God-send. Unfortunately it was in short supply, especially for the Confederate army who were often cut off from supplies. The usual dose to put someone out was 2 oz. because the liquid would evaporate quickly on the folded cloth. Many men went through the amputations with nothing more than some whiskey and a branch to bite on. Dr. John Chisolm invented a type of inhaler that used a sponge inside a container to prevent the evaporation. It took the dose from 2 oz. to 1/8 of an ounce! inhalera

-In the beginning, ambulances were run by civilians who had little to no training and were often “drunks and cowards”. Jonathon Letterman, medical director of the Army of the Potomac, devised a brilliant system of getting the wounded off the battlefield and to safety. This is the beginning of our modern day ambulance-to-ER system. He even put in spring suspension and the drivers started carrying locked boxes of bandages, protein, bedsacks, and morphine with them to field dress wounds.fig453mosesrear

-A soldier who had pneumonia was successfully treated with mercury which led to gangrene.Eventually it took part of his mouth, his eye, and most of his cheek bone too.Dr. Gordon Buck experimented, in a series of operations, to put in facial implants to reconstruct his face. He also pioneered the use of tiny sutures to minimize scarring on this man.carletonburgan-500x137

-Benjamin Howard, a surgical assistant, invented a way to close sucking chest wounds without collapsing the lings which caused the patient to suffocate. In the early part of the war, only 8% of these wounds were survived. After his innovation, the rate quadrupled!