Walking, losing weight and taking photos of life in Virginia.

Posts from the ‘This Date In History’ category

Ghost Tour / Richmond Virginia / Post Election Ramblings

So here we are a day after the erection, oh wait, sorry, election and I’m catching up on some writing because I have been in a time warp.  Day dreaming.  Imagining things.  Once, long ago, I participated in a campaign for George McGovern in a small way, handing out campaign buttons in Harvard Square.  A well dressed older man approached me with a scowl on his face.  Probably there was some concern written on mine.  But then, as he came within a foot or two he broke out in a wide, friendly smile and gathered up some of my materials.  He was playing with me and I will always remember him, whoever he was.  Mr. McGovern, of course, went on to lose the election and Tricky Dick was with us for awhile until the fateful day when he boarded the helicopter and left us, forever.

You never know how things are going to turn out (is my point).  Things can look pretty bad and then  the sun breaks out.  Or, you can feel like things are going swell and suddenly the well caves in and you are left without water..

We will just have to wait and see how things go.  I am happy this morning to say my eye appointment went well, yesterday.  I do not have a spot of cancer in my left eye.  But I am now convinced that it is important to have regular eye exams.  They are not just to correct vision problems.  If you are seeing well it doesn’t mean you don’t need to see someone for years and years.  There is also a correlation, I discovered, between small areas in the eye, called “bear tracks”, and colon cancer.  Coincidentally, I have been worried about bears and their tracks, sleeping out in the woods in the past year.  Now it’s clear I should have been more concerned about events behind the scenes.

Every day is an adventure as I try to find a peaceful place to “hang out”.  Monday evening a group of Trailblazers went downtown to an Irish Pub for dinner and then took a tour of some ghostly places associated with historic events in the Richmond area.  It was pretty much fun and good exercise too.  I took a photo of the governor’s home next to the Virginia Capitol building that clearly shows a ghostly orb surrounding an upstairs window.  And, while we were standing in this area the gate suddenly creaked upon giving us a momentary scare until the guard mentioned we should probably move and let  Governor McDonnell’s  car go on its way.

Surprise!  Everyone laughed.  We are easily fooled, it seems and we should probably not worry about too much.  Things will turn out differently than we hope or expect.  It’s how we determine to live our lives that is important.  And we should keep smiling, for sure, while we walk every day and talk to our favorite ghosts.
Things will sort themselves out.  They always do.  Here are some photos of our ghost tour.

Ferdinand Magellan Died On This Date April 27, 1521 / Planetary Resources Launched This Week

Ferdinand Magellan died on this date in 1521 after traveling three-quarters of the way around the world.  He got caught up in a tribal dispute in the Philippines and took a poisoned arrow.  His men left him to die as they boogied out of there.  A few of them actually made the rest of the journey and became the first explorers to travel ALL THE Way around our little planet.  Congratulations. 

Ferdinand Magellan.  Dead. . . 491 years ago today. 

I was thinking about Ferdy while reading this report from Mashable about an organization  formed this week to mine asteroids.  The venture, Planetary Resources is the asteroid-mining company launched Tuesday in Seattle, with backing from Microsoft and Google billionaires.  They want to send robots into space and bring back the loot.  So things haven’t really changed much in the last five hundred years.  The Spanish headed out after spices in some rickety boats.  The geek squad is chasing platinum, nickel and cobalt. 

But they are not going themselves.  R2-D2 is going to do the dangerous, dirty work for them.  Which makes a lot of sense. The king of Spain was waiting for Magellan to bring him the goods. Someone needs to mind the store.  Hopefully, the robot won’t get sidetracked and end up dead on the dark side of the moon.  

Our buddy wandered too far from his charger and ended up with a dead battery.  

Estimated cost of a new one (plus shipping) 5 Billion dollars. But that’s not going to discourage anybody.  There’s 20 trillion dollars worth of platinum on just one little asteroid.  Unfortunately, by the time they successfully launch the droid into space and land him on the mile-wide Near-Earth Asteroid, known as 1986 DA, it will cost 1000 dollars just to go to the grocery store for some bread. 

But that’s why platinum is such a good investment!  It will be worth so much more! Hopefully all of this will bring about a great deal of economic activities and. . . jobs!  We could use some of that.  Quite a few space enthusiasts were put out of work down in Florida when the Space Shuttle Program was cancelled. 

Look at all the jobs Magellan helped to create as he opened up trade routes around the globe!  He really started something even if he didn’t live to finish it.  Yes, I would say he was the progenitor of trillions of dollars worth of trade in the centuries that followed.

Of course, the people he displaced were not so happy with all of that.  And they made it a point to tell him!  Ouch! 

I can see him in a peaceful moment, before all the chaos started, standing on a beach in the evening looking up at the stars.  He had no idea how big the Pacific Ocean really was until he had sailed on it for weeks and months. He must have been awestruck by the beauty and size of the world.

And we are still looking up at those same stars.  But now we are sending probes to them and taking measurements.  Humankind has done some amazing things in the past five hundred years.  We have developed some amazing skills.  But we still can’t get beyond those altercations that result in so much needless death and destruction.  

We are still a lot like Ferdy in the end. 



On This Date In History / Lyndon Johnson Announces His Retirement

On this date back in 1968 Lyndon Johnson announced at the end of one of his little television chats that he would not be seeking reelection. And you cannot imagine the sadness that gripped the college community at that moment. I know because I was one of those who had nearly been shipped off to a snake infested jungle full of pajama clad and rifle toting individuals who would be eager to shoot me if they got the chance.
And for what? I could never figure that one out. So maybe Lyndon wouldn’t look like such a loopy and depressed basket case when he got his mug on your television screen. Go to Vietnam! Make Lyndon smile!
In 1880 on this date Wabash Indiana became the first town in the world to be illuminated by electrical lighting. How nice for them! Men fell on their knees as they were totally overwhelmed when the lights were turned on and the town square blazed like the sun. Moths from the surrounding states all made a B-line for Wabash and it was soon knee deep in wings and not the edible kind.
Two steps forward and one step back. Progress is never in a straight line.
On this date in 1889 the Eiffel Tower was officially completed and its creator French engineer Gustave Eiffel unfurled the French flag on top of it. And such a wonderful day it must have been. The sky was clear and all the bugs had left for Wabash Indiana long ago. Air flight was on the horizon and everyone was optimistic because when you went to the top you couldn’t quite see into Germany.
And around this time in 1766 the Sons of Liberty gathered in Norfolk Virginia to protest the Stamp Act which was viewed as an attempt to tax the colonists without their permission.
It was much like what we call “foreign aid” or “the war in Iraq” in the present day.
And now it is time for Birthdays! Hockey great Gordy Howe is 80 today! I bet he can still put on a pair of skates and whoop up on some people. Actor Richard Chamberlain is 74 and some of us fondly remember his days as Dr Kildare. Actress Shirley Jones is also 74. Did you know they were born on the same day? I didn’t ! Actor Christopher Walken is 65 today and Gabe Kaplan is 63. Al Gore and David Eisenhower are both 60 today. Twins maybe? Nah. And finally actress Rhea Perlman is 60.
Happy Birthday to all and especially those who are beginning a new decade in their lives.

This Date In History/ February 11

On this day in 1752 The Pennsylvania Hospital opened its doors and became the first hospital in America. The Emergency Room was a hospitable place for about fifteen minutes.

Someone should have taken a picture. Oh wait. They didn’t have cameras back then did they?

In 1812 on this day the governor of Massachusetts signed legislation that allowed the politically astute practice of carving up voting districts or “gerrymandering” to begin. My voting district actually looks more like the debris left over from an atomic explosion but that’s a different story. Boston was also in the news exactly 66 years later on this day when the Boston Bicycle Club was established. It was the first bicycle club in America.

Much more recently (not on this date) Massachusetts became the first state to give the Democratic Party a heart attack when it elected a Republican to fill the senate seat owned and operated by the Kennedy family for many years.

What can you say about the lovely people of Massachusetts? Well. . . . you can say that they are very creative people. They enjoy reshaping the political environment while they are riding their bicycles. And they are especially active the week before Valentines Day. Hopefully they will need to rest soon. I’m not sure I can handle too much more right now.

General Motors has also been in the news lately as it was back in 1937 on this date when it agreed to recognize the United Automobile Workers Union. At that time there was a strike happening and it ended after GM agreed to negotiate with its workers. Hopefully this made the worker’s lives a little better. I can imagine them now being allowed to see their families once a week and even getting some medical care when a car fell on them while they were installing the muffler. It probably took them awhile to get to that ER in Pennsylvania but as long as they made it back before lunch was over all was good.

You know that not every worker could afford a car back then. Many of them had to ride bicycles to work. That’s why bicycle clubs were so popular.

In Massachusetts. The rest of the country was too busy for that nonsense.

If you were working six days a week and had to go to church for six hours on day seven how much time would you spend at a bicycle club meeting?

I thought so.

On this day in 1960 Jack Paar walked off the Tonight Show four minutes early because a censor had cut one of his jokes. Those late night comedians sure are a testy bunch aren’t they? Lately they have been acting up again. Conan stomped off into the sunset after NBC wanted to cut thirty minutes PER NITE out of his routine. Jay had so sit down and talk to Oprah after it became clear that he is a sadistic rat betard without a conscience. Well maybe that’s being a little rough on Jay.

Did you know that Jay is from Massachusetts? I’m not sure if he rides a bicycle. He has lots of cars and motorcycles. Maybe if he pedaled around on a bike for awhile he would start to see things differently and ask Conan to come back and do the Tonight Show.

Jay has done it for such a long time. He really needs to do something different for awhile. Maybe he could run for political office. I could see him challenging Al Franken for his senate seat somewhere down the road. In a battle between comedians Jay is sure to win.

It takes a comedian to beat a comedian. They understand each other. It would be just like the time Godzilla met his match in a fantastic monster battle. Or the fight between Mike Tyson and James “Buster” Douglas that actually happened on this day in 1990. Did you ever notice that Mike Tyson and Jay Leno sound a lot alike?

A lot actually has happened on this day throughout the years. Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years captivity in South Africa. And a French lass named Bernadette said that she saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in France on this day in 1858. So some good things happened through the years besides Mike hitting the canvas.

This Day In History/ July 1 / Oh The Joy We Are Half Way There!

From time to time I enjoy reading the newspaper and learning about what is going on in the world. It’s not something to do every day because too much news is not a good thing. In fact, too much news can drive you crazy. I used to follow the news closely until one day I found myself downtown trying to find the office of our number one elected official so I could discuss something with him.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I had gone around the bend and ought to find something else to do. So I stopped watching or caring about the news and became a blogger. Now a giant wave could pass outside my window here in Richmond, Virginia and I would simply note it in a blog post, take a few photos and resume playing Lord of the Rings Online.

It’s so nice to be sane once again. I’m really proud to have made such progress in so short a period of time.

I enjoy reading about things that are happening in the world. But it’s like eating Kentucky Fried Chicken. You really have to limit your intake or you will die way before your time.

Speaking of death I was sad to see in the news yesterday that two motorcycle drivers had a head-on collision here in town over the weekend and passed away. Condolences to their family and friends but how do you have a head-on collision with another motorcycle driver? Don’t people drive motorcycles so they can go around things? I see them all the time in traffic going around cars that are stuck in one place. Perhaps these two were related in another lifetime. Maybe they were brothers who went off in different directions and missed each other terribly.

Now they are together again in heaven. Angels are tenderly trying to separate them so that they can begin their heavenly training.

I also enjoy reading about what happened on this day in history. On July 1, 1867 Canada became a self-governing dominion of Great Britain. This news also is causing me some confusion however. Doesn’t the word dominion have something to do with the word dominate? And isn’t the concept of self-government different from the notion of domination? It’s a little like what happened to Prince Charles on this day in 1969. Because he was formally invested as the Prince of Wales by his mother. He was given a position of great authority and prestige on this day.

And here we are forty years later and he’s still got the same position and precious little authority! Henry V!!! who has been so vividly portrayed lately on Showtime had his wife’s head removed based on some trumped up rumors about her infidelity. But Prince Charles had to watch while his wife went tooling around Paris with her boyfriend in a luxury automobile for the whole world to see!

Boy things sure have changed in the last four hundred years.


Canada did manage to get a national anthem on this day in 1980. It only took 113 years to come up with some music to mark the occasion.

In 1946 on this day the United States exploded a 20-kiloton atomic bomb near Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. But on this day in 1968 the US, Britain, the Soviet Union and sixty other countries signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Between these two dates
in the 1950’s above ground testing was conducted out west in the US near Las Vegas! People were encouraged to go out in their yards and watch. In fact they were given radiation badges that were collected and analyzed.

Some of these folks later discovered that they glowed in the dark except on one little area where the radiation badge had been located!!

Oh, I just made that last part up!


Marlon Brandon left us on this date five years ago. Maybe he can welcome our two motorcycle brothers into the fraternity up there and do a quick replay with them to figure out how they went wrong.

And, finally, a bevy of beautiful babes are enjoying birthdays today. Olivia de Havilland, Karen Black, Deborah Harry, Genevieve Bujold, Lisa Blount, Pamela Anderson, Liv Tyler and Jamie Farr are all having special days.

And I have completed my adventure into a world full of news and history and insanity. Clearly its time to relax and do some deep breathing. My wife always hides the car keys for awhile when I do this so no one will be tempted to go downtown. Not that I would actually try and go anywhere to see someone about the current state of our terrestrial paradise.

Who would I talk to anyway? It seems like no one is in charge in any meaningful sense. We are all just drifting along through time waiting for the last day when history is able to amaze us.

And we become it.

So enjoy!

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