January 26, 1700

The Great Quake

January 26, 2021

Thunderbird and Whale battling

 “There was a great storm and hail and flashes of lightning in the darkened, blackened sky, and a great and crashing ‘thunder-noise’ everywhere. Here were also a shaking, jumping up and trembling of the earth beneath, and a rolling up of the great waters.”

So the oral story of the Hoh people had been told, passed down from generation to generation. The event, it turns out, was not the stuff of fiction but can be pinpointed to the night of January 26, 1700.

It was at that moment, triggered by a sudden unlocking of the Juan de Fuca and North American geologic plates, that a estimated 9.2 earthquake shook the west coast from Northern California to Southern British Columbia.

The earthquake triggered a huge tsumani which inundated the coast, wiping out entire villages of people, submerging land, and killing forests.

And then? And then only the oral stories remained and were passed down. But when new people arrived nothing was known of this history until the 1970’s when geologists started piecing together the geologic history.

From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The earthquake took place at about 21:00 Pacific Time on January 26, 1700 (NS). Although there are no written records for the region from the time, the timing of the earthquake has been inferred from Japanese records of a tsunami that does not correlate with any other Pacific Rim quake. The Japanese records exist primarily in the modern-day Iwate Prefecture, in communities such as Tsugaruishi, Kuwagasaki and Ōtsuchi.

The most important clue linking the tsunami in Japan and the earthquake in the Pacific Northwest comes from studies of tree rings (dendrochronology), which show that several ‘ghost forests’ of red cedar trees in Oregon and Washington, killed by lowering of coastal forests into the tidal zone by the earthquake, have outermost growth rings that formed in 1699, the last growing season before the tsunami. (snip)

Local Native American and First Nations groups residing in Cascadia used oral tradition to transmit knowledge from one generation to the next, so there is no written documentation like that of the Japanese tsunami. However, numerous oral traditions describing a great earthquake and tsunami-like flooding exist among indigenous coastal peoples from British Columbia to Northern California. These do not specify an exact date, and not all earthquake stories in the region can be definitively isolated as referring to the 1700 quake in particular; however, virtually all of the native peoples in the region have at least one traditional story of an event much stronger and more destructive than any other that their community had ever experienced.”

This forensic information, combined with the Japanese records, have made it possible to pinpoint the date and time of the great event.

Ground Zero seems to be located at the mouth of the Copalis River, just north of Gray’s Harbor in Washington State. The ghost forest appears at low tide. It’s been determined that the ground dropped over 6 feet and that the trees all died as a result of a singular event. Through carbon dating and evaluation scientists now know that the event occurred in either late 1699 or early 1700.

But it wasn’t just a onetime thing. Scientists have also found evidence that over 40 megathrust quakes have shaken the PNW in the past 10,000 years. That, it turns out, means an average of 430 years between the quakes. The three most recent events occurred in 810, 1310, and 1700. It’s now been 321 years since the 1700 event. Scientists predict that there is a 37 percent chance of an 8.2 or greater quake in the next 50 years.

Ghost forest on the Copalis River near Gray’s Harbor

For those of us who have lived our entire lives in the PNW, we know exactly where we were and what we were doing on two specific dates in the last 50 years: April 29, 1965 and February 28, 2001.

Those were the dates of the most significant ‘recent’ earthquakes in the region. I was seven years old for the first one and, prior to that April morning, had never heard the term earthquake or understood what it was.

I was standing at the counter in our family bathroom (we had one bathroom for six people!) and my mother was fixing my hair for school. We lived in Yakima, 150 miles from the quake’s epicenter. When the house started to shake my mother, so very calmly, said to me, “It’s an earthquake,” and instructed me to hang on to the counter. Soon that event was forgotten but everyone of my age or older knows where they were at that exact moment, especially people who lived in the Puget Sound area.

Fast forward to February 28, 2001. It’s just before 11 a.m. The kids are at school and I have spent the morning volunteering with my fifth grade son’s class. Around 10:30 – when two other parents arrive – I take off as I have errands to run in advance of the Boy Scouts Blue and Gold banquet scheduled for March 2nd.

When I arrive back at our house on the hill above East Lake Sammamish parkway, my in-laws are there as they have been staying with us for a few days. I tell them that I’m going to have something to eat then go do my errands. I walk to the fridge and open the door. There’s a significant jolt. I shut the fridge door and look up and say “Did you…” to my father-in-law who is standing a few feet away. But I never finish the sentence. By then the entire house is shaking. So I do what my plan has always been in the event of an earthquake. I hurry to our built in desk, move the chair out of the way, and crawl under.

When I turn to look out I see two things: first is my mother-in-law who is sitting on the couch and looks as if she’s bouncing in a boat on choppy water; the second thing I see are my father-in-laws legs getting bigger and bigger until the legs and him attempt to crawl under the desk with me. Trust me, it was not a big desk and that plan did not work. Instead, he ended up crouched next to me until the worst of the shaking stopped after about a minute.

I emerge and look out the back windows; trees are still vibrating and shaking despite the quake being over. Of all the memories of that day, I can still see those trees vibrating. Then I walk around the house to see what’s been damaged. Room after room nothing seems to have fallen… that is until I get to the living room. The painting which hung over the fireplace has slid off the wall and come straight down onto the mantle. There it rests, still intact and literally resting behind a decorative glass piece which, by rights, should have been a casualty of the event.

Later that evening I have the assembled family stage a photo to commemorate that day and soon that quake is also forgotten.

Nothing in the china cabinet was damaged in the 2001 Nisqually quake

It’s on days such as today, however, that I am reminded that the ‘big’ one could strike today, tomorrow, next week, next year, or longer. It really is just a matter of time.

Many links for all my fellow science nerds:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1700_Cascadia_earthquake

https://www.amnh.org/explore/videos/earth-and-climate/tsunami-science-reducing-the-risk/ghosts-of-tsunamis-past

https://slate.com/technology/2015/09/earthquakes-and-tsunamis-in-the-pacific-northwest-native-american-myths-and-geoscience.html

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/pacific-northwest-prepares-for-massive-earthquake

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1965_Puget_Sound_earthquake

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_Nisqually_earthquake

Here’s the list of Great Quakes from the Infallible Wikipedia:

1May 22, 1960Valdivia, Chile1960 Valdivia earthquake9.4–9.6
2March 27, 1964Prince William SoundAlaska, United States1964 Alaska earthquake9.2
3December 26, 2004Indian Ocean, Sumatra, Indonesia2004 Indian Ocean earthquake9.1–9.3
4March 11, 2011Pacific Ocean, Tōhoku region, Japan2011 Tōhoku earthquake9.1[3]
5July 8, 1730Valparaiso, Chile (then part of the Spanish Empire)1730 Valparaiso earthquake9.1–9.3 (est.)[4]
6November 4, 1952KamchatkaRussian SFSRSoviet Union1952 Kamchatka earthquakes9.0[5]
7August 13, 1868Arica, Chile (then Peru)1868 Arica earthquake8.5–9.0 (est.)
8January 26, 1700Pacific Ocean, US and Canada (then claimed by the Spanish Empire and the British Empire)1700 Cascadia earthquake8.7–9.2 (est.)
9April 2, 1762ChittagongBangladesh (then Kingdom of Mrauk U)1762 Arakan earthquake8.8 (est.)
10November 25, 1833Sumatra, Indonesia (then part of the Dutch East Indies)1833 Sumatra earthquake8.8 (est.)

Dolly Parton

I Will Always Love You

January 19, 2021

Hers is a household name. Superficially, she is known for her over the top persona as a country music performer and icon. There is, however, a reason for her successful career which has now spanned 60 years. Long before Madonna or Lady Gaga invented their outrageous selves, we had Dolly Parton, a true original.

Today, January 19, 2021, marks the singer/songwriter’s 75th birthday.

It’s been a remarkable career. Especially for a woman born in a one room cabin in east Tennessee. The family was beyond broke but it was, perhaps, that beginning which helped to galvanize Parton’s will. We turn to the Infallible Wikipedia for the background:

“Parton has described her family as being ‘dirt poor.’ Parton’s father paid the doctor who helped deliver her with a bag of cornmeal. She outlined her family’s poverty in her early songs ‘Coat of Many Colors’ and ‘In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)’. For approximately 6 to 7 years, Parton and her family lived in a rustic, one-bedroom cabin on a small subsistence farm on Locust Ridge. This was a predominately Pentecostal area located north of the Greenbrier Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains. Music played an important role in her early life. She was brought up in the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), in a congregation her grandfather, Jake Robert Owens, pastored. Her earliest public performances were in the church, beginning at age six. At seven, she started playing a homemade guitar. When she was eight, her uncle bought her first real guitar.

Parton began performing as a child, singing on local radio and television programs in the East Tennessee area.] By ten, she was appearing on The Cas Walker Show on both WIVK Radio and WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee. At 13, she was recording (the single ‘Puppy Love’) on a small Louisiana label, Goldband Records, and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry, where she first met Johnny Cash, who encouraged her to follow her own instincts regarding her career.”

Unless you were a fan of country music you likely had never heard of Parton until the 1970’s or 1980’s. It was in these two decades that her career crossed over into the Top 40 charts; she was also cast in several movies and featured on variety music shows with such stars as Cher and Carol Burnett.

Parton has won two Academy Awards, seven Grammys, 11 Country Music Association awards, and five Golden Globes. In her career, she has sold over 100 million records.

In my mind, however, it is her songwriting which will be her most enduring legacy. I would argue that she’s been, perhaps, the most prolific and successful songwriter of the 20th century.

During an interview on Larry King Live in March 2009, she answered his question about how many songs she’d written this way:

“Well, you know, I don’t count them, Larry. But I’ve been writing since I was a little bitty girl. I was probably 7 years old when I started playing the guitar and writing some serious songs. So, I know that I have at least 3,000 songs that I have written. I’ve got songs in boxes, drawers, stuff I carried from home when I left, that I still haven’t gotten through. And I write something almost every day, least an idea down. But that’s not to say they’re all good, but that’s what I do and it’s what I love to do.”

Image from quotefancy.com

I understand how powerful the impetus to write is for a person. One’s brain is constantly tumbling new ideas and thinking ‘what if.’

Songwriting, however, is a completely different world and one which inspires awe, at least for me. For some songwriters, they hear the music and can create that alone. For others, they work with composers to make a marriage of their poetic words with someone else’s music. And then there are those, like Dolly Parton, who do both things. It’s a rare talent.

Over 3,000 songs – that was in 2009 – and she is still writing them. Amazing.

When the hubby, my son and daughter, and I visited Nashville in 2013, we toured the Country Music Hall of Fame (CMHF); A truly fascinating place which pays tribute to the biggest stars of the genre.

My favorite section in the building turned out to be an interactive display which featured five Country Music songwriters including, of course, Dolly Parton. The rest of the visitors, as well as my own family, melted into the background as I really began to understand and appreciate Parton’s amazing contribution to the American experience.

It was there – still reading about Parton – that the family found me quite some time later and pretty much had to force me to leave to go get lunch.

The fact that I never got through the entire display just gives me an excuse to return to Nashville so I can read the rest of what I missed. Next time I’ll head straight to that section of the CMHF. And, as long as I’m in Tennessee, I think continuing east for a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains and Dollywood might also be in order. Sounds like a great roadtrip!

The exhaustive article from the Infallible Wikipedia is found here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolly_Parton

A list of songs she’s written which have been published: https://www.azlyrics.com/d/dollyparton.html

The Infallible Wikipedia

The World’s greatest Encyclopedia

January 12, 2021

Back when the internet first started there was an explosion of new programs and new concepts. Connections were slow and done only via dial up. Pretty much anyone over the age of 40 no doubt recalls the noise the computer made as it connected you right before the computer generated AOL voice intoned, “You’ve got mail.”

Wikipedia’s familiar logo

In those days, all of our information came from traditional sources like newspapers, television, and books. Who among us – having grown up in the 1950’s through to the 1980’s – did NOT have a set of encyclopedias we used for research when those pesky term papers were due?

The physical encyclopedia was replaced in the late 1990’s by a CD program you loaded whenever you needed information. But it was not long – with the advent of higher speed internet and improvements in technology – a few people figured out that the internet itself was the most massive library in the world. Enter The Infallible Wikipedia.

It was on January 12, 2001, when Wikipedia was registered as a business. The rest, as one might say, is history.

In the early days there were a number of online encyclopedias which popped up. Several of those were offshoots from traditional encyclopedias. But they could not keep up with Wikipedia’s unique structure.

From The Infallible Wikpedia about The Infallible Wikipedia:

“Wikipedia is a multilingual open-collaborative online encyclopedia created and maintained by a community of volunteer editors using a wiki-based editing system. It is one of the 15 most popular websites as ranked by Alexa, as of January 2021 and The Economist magazine placed it as the “13th-most-visited place on the web”. Featuring no advertisements, it is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, an American non-profit organization funded primarily through donations.

A person reading a Wikipedia article. From http://www.playfm.gr

Wikipedia was launched on January 15, 2001, by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. Sanger coined its name as a portmanteau of “wiki” and “encyclopedia.” It was initially an English-language encyclopedia, but versions in other languages were quickly developed. With 6.2 million articles, the English Wikipedia is the largest of the more than 300 Wikipedia encyclopedias. Overall, Wikipedia comprises more than 55 million articles, attracting 1.7 billion unique visitors per month. (snip)

 In 2006, Time magazine stated that the open-door policy of allowing anyone to edit had made Wikipedia the biggest and possibly the best encyclopedia in the world, and was a testament to the vision of Jimmy Wales. The project’s reputation improved further in the 2010s as it increased efforts to improve its quality and reliability, based on its unique structure, curation and absence of commercial bias.”

Since its founding, Wikipedia has done much to improve accuracy. That said – as with everything – it is up to each researcher to verify their sources. I have found that the links at the bottom of each Wikipedia article is a good place to start.

A set of traditional encyclopedias

For me – as an information junkie – I love that Wikipedia exists. While it doesn’t have articles on every topic in the world, the amount it does have is stunning. My parents’ set of 1950 something Encyclopedia Americanas can’t even begin to compare.

By the time I was using our family’s Encyclopedia set they were at least 10 to 15 years out of date

I do think I must credit my son with coining the phrase ‘The Infallible Wikipedia’ It was likely around 2002 or 2003 – as Wikipedia was just starting to take off – when our family became aware of the site. Every time one of us would often go to the internet in search of information, it seemed as if Wikipedia would be one of the hits. Because of the unique way Wikipedia uses its volunteer editors, however, one never knew if the information one found was accurate or not.

So my son started referring to any information we found on the site as being Infallible. Of course it was anything but Infallible.

The nickname stuck and not a one of us: hubby, son, or daughter, refers to Wikipedia without adding the moniker ‘Infallible.’

Four years ago when I wrote my very first blog post about musical legend Jim Croce, here’s what I said:

“You can visit the Jim Croce website for more information: http://jimcroce.com/ and there’s always the infallible Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Croce

Since that day – January 10, 2017 – I have now written 198 blog posts. And every single one of them references “The Infallible Wikipedia” in some way. There have been a few occasions where The Infallible Wikipedia was silent on the topic I chose. But, fortunately for me and my loyal readers, those occasions are rare.

Although it may sound like I’m mocking it, I’m not. Wikipedia is an amazing resource and it sure beats the heck out of trying to find relevant information in a 20 year old encyclopedia or searching through card catalogs at the library, both being methods I had to use during  youth and into adulthood.

So it is with great sincerity that I wish a Happy 20th anniversary to the Amazing, Helpful, Incredible, Irreplaceable, Infallible Wikipedia.

Fifteen two, fifteen four

It’s all about the board

January 5, 2021

Early January is a good time to hunker down and find amusing pastimes. What with the tiresome and ongoing lockdown, occupying oneself with solitaire might be fun. Or, if you are sequestered with another person, I suggest Cribbage.

Cribbage was invented by English Poet Sir John Suckling in the 1630’s. An older game, Noddy, was the inspiration for cribbage. Noddy, now considered an historical game, is rarely played.

Three cribbage boards in my collection plus a ‘perfect’ crib hand which counts 29.

On the other hand, Cribbage has been referred to as “Britain’s national card game” and is the only game which can be legally played in pubs and clubs. All other games require special permission!

A standard 52 card deck and a piece of paper and a pencil is all one really needs to play the game. However, most aficionados use a cribbage board. A traditional board features two ‘tracks’ of 60 holes each, drilled into a piece of wood. Over the centuries, cribbage boards have been made from a variety of materials including ivory, horn, leather, and bone. Plastic and manufactured stone are more modern materials which have been used in recent years.

The game play is fairly strait forward for two people. Six cards are dealt to each player. Each player then chooses two of the cards to place in the ‘crib.’ Whoever dealt the hand gets to count the points in the crib. On the next hand, the other person deals and counts the crib. Once the two players have removed their two cards, the non-dealer cuts the cards and that card is flipped over.

Where strategy comes in is to figure out what the best combination of cards should be kept and which should go to the crib.

For those unfamiliar with cribbage the Infallible Wikipedia provides information on how to play. The link is below.

Rather than use this space to discuss the minutiae of the game, however, I was captivated when I started reading about what is known as the O’Kane cribbage board. Naval legend is that just prior to a submarine bombing mission in 1943 Lieutenant Dick O’Kane broke out his cribbage board to play a game with the commanding officer, Lt. Commander Dudley Morton.

The O’Kane Cribbage Board

From the Defense Visual Information Distribution Services website:

“Morton dealt O’Kane a perfect cribbage hand of 29 — the odds of which are 1 in 216,580. The crew would take this extremely rare hand as an omen of good luck. The following day, Wahoo sunk two Japanese freighters.

Two days later, Morton and O’Kane played another game of cribbage in the wardroom. This time Morton dealt O’Kane a hand of 28 — these odds being 1 in 15,625. Morton was furious, vowing to never play O’Kane again, according to O’Kane’s book, “Wahoo: The Patrols of America’s Famous WWII Submarine.” The hand proved to be another stroke of good luck as later another enemy freighter was spotted and promptly sunk. Wahoo ended up being one of the most successful submarines during World War II.

O’Kane’s luck with the board would continue as he took it with him to become the commanding officer of USS Tang (SS 306). Tang would go on to set the record of most ships sunk on a patrol. O’Kane received the Medal of Honor for his actions while commanding Tang.

On Oct. 25, 1944, Tang was sunk by its own torpedo. Only nine Sailors survived, O’Kane being one of them. The survivors were picked up by a Japanese frigate and taken as prisoners of war. The original board went down with the submarine.”

O’Kane replaced the board and, upon his death in 1994, it was given to the oldest submarine in the fleet, at that time the Kamehameha. For over 25 years the board has been passed down to the oldest submarine when the current ship is decommissioned. Considered a good luck charm, it is currently aboard the Chicago.

Submariners playing a game with the O’Kane Cribbage Board

My first recollection of seeing people play cribbage dates to the mid 1960’s. We are at my Aunt and Uncle’s house for Thanksgiving. In addition to them, my parents and siblings, my cousins, and my maternal grandparents, I clearly recall my great-grandfather, Charles Hancock, was also present. Everyone called him Big Grandpa. Which really confused me as a child. He was a skinny little old man – barely taller than I was – whose baggy pants were held up with suspenders. He had thick glasses and was, by then, at least 90 years old. Ancient in the eyes of a child.

But the one thing Big Grandpa loved to do was play cribbage. After Thanksgiving ‘dinner’ –which was ALWAYS served at 1 p.m. – he and my oldest cousin, Patricia, adjourned to the living room. Big Grandpa brought out his cribbage board and cards and they sat across from each other at a folding card table and played, oblivious to the cacophony of us younger kids engaged in other activities nearby.

Their game was lively with one or the other laying down a card with enthusiasm as the lead shifted back and forth. Occasionally the volume of conversation would rise and there would be exclamations of surprise; and it was clear they were both fully engaged and enjoying themselves.

Several years later, as a teenager, I learned how to play cribbage. Over the years, I have found many willing individuals to join in a round or three. One of my more memorable opponents was a co-worker, Paul, who is legendary for his big laugh and even bigger personality. Most every day we’d break out the cards and board and play while eating our lunches. Others would come into the break room and watch the game for awhile, sometimes kibitzing and offering suggestions. But we paid little attention to others, it was far more important to win and the competition was fierce.

One day, after Paul counted a coveted 29 hand he jumped up and did a victory dance then bragged that he was certain he won more often than I did. I disagreed and the contest was on. From then on, every time we played I would mark down who ‘won.’ By the time we both left that company, I had bested him at a rate of winning three games for every two he won. No doubt when he reads this he will remember it differently. But I have a steel trap mind for stuff like that and it’s true.

Live opponents have been much more difficult to find in recent years. For some time now I’ve had a digital game on my phone and will play it, usually, once or twice a day. I get mad at it because I’m sure it cheats and deals itself better cards. But I’ve also learned that it, unlike a human opponent, is very predictable in its methods, always playing its lowest card first and always making a ‘15’ rather than a pair or strategizing how to make a run if there is an option.

The upside is that I’ve gotten much better at the game and currently have a 70 percent win rate, better than my 60 percent win record with Paul.

My Great Grandfather’s folding leather cribbage board, circa 1940

Of course I still prefer playing with an actual person using real cards and one of my several boards. But the most treasured board of all is the one which we found when cleaning out my parents’ home in 2019. It’s a small folding board, made of brown leather, likely intended to be carried in a pocket like a wallet. An internet search turned up little information on it but I was able to discern that this style of board was manufactured in the 1930’s and 1940’s. I know it belonged to my great grandfather as his initials C.E.H. – Charles Edwin Hancock – are written in ink on the interior fold. It’s still in great condition.

Maybe my family can start a tradition – like the O’Kane board – and the cribbage board is kept by the oldest person in the family, passed down to subsequent generations. We can start that just as soon as I’m done being the keeper of Big Grandpa’s cribbage board. Or maybe we should hold a tournament and whoever wins the most games gets to keep the board. I like that idea and think I have a pretty good chance. Time to go practice with the computer.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cribbage

https://www.dvidshub.net/news/351195/okane-cribbage-board-passed-down

Y2K

The Apocalypse That Wasn’t

December 29, 2020

By the spring and summer of 1999, the world had turned their full attention to the impending turn of the calendar to the year 2000. Or, as it was familiarly known, Y2K.

Signs and stickers like this one warned us for months of impending doom.

It was truly a global phenomenon and there was no shortage of doomsday predictions as to what would occur when at midnight, on December 31, 1999, the digits all changed.

As it turned out, it was a nothing burger. The year 2020, however, was a whole lot closer to what people expected the year 2000 to be.

Y2K was originally an abbreviation assigned to a problem dubbed the Millennium Bug. The challenge they envisioned was that computers everywhere would not be up to the task of functioning properly when the year 2000 started. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The acronym Y2K has been attributed to Massachusetts programmer David Eddy in an e-mail sent on 12 June 1995. He later said, ‘People were calling it CDC (Century Date Change), FADL (Faulty Date Logic). There were other contenders. Y2K just came off my fingertips.’

The problem started because on both mainframe computers and later personal computers, storage was expensive, from as low as $10 per kilobyte, to in many cases as much as or even more than US$100 per kilobyte. It was therefore very important for programmers to reduce usage. Since programs could simply prefix ‘19’ to the year of a date, most programs internally used, or stored on disc or tape, data files where the date format was six digits, in the form DDMMYY, DD as two digits for the day, MM as two digits for the month, and YY as two digits for the year. As space on disc and tape was also expensive, this also saved money by reducing the size of stored data files and data bases. (snip)

Special committees were set up by governments to monitor remedial work and contingency planning, particularly by crucial infrastructures such as telecommunications, utilities and the like, to ensure that the most critical services had fixed their own problems and were prepared for problems with others. While some commentators and experts argued that the coverage of the problem largely amounted to scaremongering, it was only the safe passing of the main ‘event horizon’ itself, 1 January 2000, that fully quelled public fears.”

Newspaper and magazine articles on the topic bombarded readers; books were written; the nightly news was full of stories which promoted fear in the public mind. Doomsday preppers encouraged people to keep months of supplies in their pantry since at 12:01 on January 1, 2000, the world, as we knew it, was going to end.

TP shortage and electrical grid shutdowns were but two of the predicted problems.

The Infallible Wikipedia continues:

“Y2K was also exploited by some fundamentalist and charismatic Christian leaders throughout the Western world, particularly in North America and Australia. Their promotion of the perceived risks of Y2K was combined with end times thinking and apocalyptic prophecies in an attempt to influence followers. The New York Times reported in late 1999, ‘The Rev. Jerry Falwell suggested that Y2K would be the confirmation of Christian prophecy — God’s instrument to shake this nation, to humble this nation. (snip) Along with many survivalists, Mr. Falwell advised stocking up on food and guns’. Adherents in these movements were encouraged to engage in food hoarding, take lessons in self-sufficiency, and the more extreme elements planned for a total collapse of modern society.”

A whole lot of hype!

Of course we all know what happened: nothing. The resources which were poured into fixing the bug were enormous and the switch was mostly seamless. A whole lot of people no doubt had enough food and TP to survive for a year. My own parents eventually donated a case of green beans purchased ‘just in case’ to the food bank.

I personally never bought in to all the hype, instead believing that human ingenuity would find a way. In fact, my sister and I hatched a plan to spend New Year’s Eve 1999 in Leavenworth, Washington. We booked several rooms nearly a year in advance and arrived to a winter wonderland a day before the big event. Despite their trepidation, even our parents joined the party. Our two sets of kids – ages 10, 9, 7, and 6 – had a blast. We went sledding, indoor swimming, shopping, eating and explored the town. We all eagerly anticipated staying up to welcome in the new Millennium. About 10 minutes before midnight we bundled up in our coats and hats and walked to the corner of a nearby intersection, noise makers in our mittened hands. It was snowing lightly and all the Christmas lights cast an enchanted glow of red, blue, green, and gold over the entire scene.

As the moment ticked closer my six year old daughter became distraught.

“What’s wrong?” I asked her.

“Is the world going to end?” she said, her lower lip quivering.

“No, of course not,” I tried to reassure her.

Even so she snuggled close to me as the final countdown began… ten, nine, eight…

When it reached Zero we all shouted Happy New Year and blew our horns.

The countdown to Y2K in Leavenworth. I’d never noticed before my Dad checking his watch…
I snapped this shot less than a minute before midnight.

And then it happened. Off to the right a red glowing orb appeared in the dark sky and was headed our direction. My daughter started to cry, certain that some bad thing was going to happen. Turns out it was a hot air balloon of some sort and when she was brave enough to look began to understand that it was just part of the celebration.

The next week the kids were back in school and her first grade teacher assigned the class the typical ‘draw a picture and write a sentence describing your winter break’ project.

Me and my daughter in front of one of Leavenworth’s many wonderful murals before the poor child’s anxiety took over.

My daughter drew a picture of stick people drinking out of gigantic wine glasses and wrote that we drank ‘champan’. I got asked about it. I explained that we really had sparkling cider. I think the teacher thought we had a problem. I looked for that paper but it appears it was kept by the teacher so as to keep an eye on me.

Soon the anxiety over Y2K was forgotten. Then one day about a year and half ago I made a random comment to my daughter about Y2K . She got a funny look on her face and there was dead silence before she said, “Wait. Does Y2K stand for the Year 2000?” I might have burst out laughing.

It’s all true. She didn’t know until she was 26 years old what Y2K stood for. But to make the story even funnier is that when she asked her fiancé (now husband who is the same age) if he KNEW what Y2K stood for, he didn’t either.

I’m thankful that Y2K turned out to be a joyous occasion and that the world was able to celebrate such a momentous once in a thousand years event in grand fashion. I am positive that ringing in 2021 will be more somber and that people everywhere will be eager to say ‘get lost’ to 2020.

The banner we hung in our hotel room December 31, 1999

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_2000_problem

Titanic

My Heart Will Go On

December 22, 2020

“Upon its release on December 19, 1997,” according to the Infallible Wikipedia, this film “achieved significant critical and commercial success. Nominated for 14 Academy Awards, it tied All About Eve (1950) for the most Oscar nominations, and won 11, including the awards for Best Picture and Best Director, tying Ben-Hur (1959) for the most Oscars won by a single film.”

Titanic, as measured by every metric, lived up to its name. The buzz around the film the third week of December that year had movie-goers flocking to the theater.

For those who have never seen the movie, you really should. It’s a study in ‘how to’ craft a compelling story. The backdrop is, of course, the tragic tale of how the luxury liner Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean during its maiden voyage. The ship did not have an adequate number of lifeboats available for the over 2,200 passengers resulting in the death of 1,517 people.

It was the singular vision of screenwriter and producer James Cameron which propelled the entire story. The Infallible Wikipedia summed it up this way:

“Cameron felt the Titanic sinking was ‘like a great novel that really happened’, but that the event had become a mere morality tale; the film would give audiences the experience of living the history. The treasure hunter Brock Lovett represented those who never connected with the human element of the tragedy, while the blossoming romance of Jack and Rose, Cameron believed, would be the most engaging part of the story: when their love is finally destroyed, the audience would mourn the loss. He said: ‘All my films are love stories, but in Titanic I finally got the balance right. It’s not a disaster film. It’s a love story with a fastidious overlay of real history.’”

As a Romance writer, it is Rose’s story which I have always found most compelling. She is 17 years old when she boards the Titanic and over the course of the next three and half days, falls in love, breaks off her engagement, faces disapproval from family, and then survives, arguably, the worst shipwreck in history.

What Cameron does with Rose is brilliant. We meet her at the very beginning of the movie, a still vibrant 101 year old woman, who is brought to the site of the Titanic’s wreckage to advise a treasure hunting crew looking for a valuable necklace believed to have been on board the ship when it sank. The story is then told through her eyes as she chastises one salvage crew member on his forensic account of the event. “The experience of it was somewhat different,” she says.

It is her love interest Jack, ultimately, who admonishes Rose to live life fully. He sacrifices himself for her and she promises him that she will.

Cameron uses black and white photographs of Rose, ostensibly taken throughout her life, to show the many things she experienced. She does exactly as Jack urged and lives her life to the fullest.

The reason I chose to feature Titanic today – since December 19th will not fall on Tuesday for two more years – is due to an amazing coincidence.

In 2005 – after a class I took on novel writing concluded – a number of us formed a writer’s critique group. Sometime during those first few months one of our members suggested the addition of another writer he knew from a different group. They had taken a class together from the same instructor a couple years earlier. Which is how I met the woman who I eventually dubbed ‘the real life Rose.’

To be clear, this ‘Rose’ did NOT survive the sinking of the Titanic. In fact she was not born until 1920, six years after the fact.

Plus, her name is Irene, and not Rose. As I became friends with Irene over the past 15 years I learned much about her life and experiences and, when I would tell people about her, I often referenced Titanic and continued to call her “The real life Rose.”

For the past two December’s our little group celebrated Irene’s 98th and 99th birthday’s during our weekly meeting at the Bellevue library. Last year we vowed to do something bigger to fete her on her 100th.

Our band of authors – sans the cameraman – on Irene’s 98th

And then the COVID pandemic hit and our method of meeting changed. Five of us, including our ‘Rose’, switched to Zoom. Last week – knowing I planned this as my topic for the blog – I casually asked Irene what the date of her birthday was. Her reply: December 19, 1920. I literally shook my head at the coincidence that Titanic had been released on a December 19th also.

Irene’s story is that of a young woman who met and married a dashing RAF pilot; he trained at an American AFB run by Irene’s father. It was the height of WWII and the only way she could be with her new husband, was to find a way to get to England. That ticket turned out to be working for the Red Cross. The newlywed’s grabbed snippets of time together as their assignments took them to opposite locales throughout Great Britain.

Tragedy, however, struck when his plane was lost, leaving her a young widow, pregnant with their child.

Hence the reason I started calling her the real life ‘Rose.’ And like Rose in Titanic, Irene has embraced life and lived it to its fullest. She’s climbed the Great Pyramids in Egypt, hiked Machu Pichu in the Andes, been on cruises to Panama and Hawaii (and others). She was a single mother in an era when doing so caused most people to look at you askance. She pursued a career in hospital administration, providing for herself and her family, never falling into the trap of self pity. She’s written multiple novels, dabbled in painting, and holds a wide variety of interests.

As I’ve told her more than once, she’s my role model of how I want to age.

Irene braving the weather for her driveby party

To this she will reply, “Barbara, growing old is a privilege not everyone gets to have.” And then, in her humble way, will say how appreciative she is – despite some of the infirmities that accompany the aging process – that she has been given that privilege.

This past Saturday (the 19th) her family (son, daughter-in-law, and grandson) arranged for a drive by birthday party. I imagine they were thinking a few friends might come by. It turned into a much bigger parade. I was, unfortunately, late due to some obstacles. But that turned out okay. I got to visit with her for a few minutes and promised that we’d have a proper party next year on her 101st birthday!

While the fictionalized account of her marriage and what occurred in England will likely never garner the same level of interest as Titanic, the story is no less compelling. It’s available on Amazon. (See link below)

Thank you, Irene, for being an inspiration to me and to so many others. You’re amazing.

And, of course, the link to the Infallible Wikipedia and two more movie clips:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanic_(1997_film)

In Pursuit of all things Trivial

Trivial Pursuit – The Game

December 15, 2020

There is a saying that your greatest embarrassment is merely someone else’s momentary amusement.

Such is the case for today’s Tuesday Newsday and the introduction on December 15, 1979 of a game which is a verifiable cultural phenomenon. It was on that date when the game Trivial Pursuit (TP) made its first appearance.

Created by two Canadians,  Chris Haney, a photo editor for Montreal’s The Gazette, and Scott Abbott, a sports editor for The Canadian Press, the game was invented when the pair wanted to play Scrabble but discovered a number of pieces missing. Why, they mused, don’t we just make up our own game? One does wonder if alcohol was involved that night. Certainly this author – who eschews dangling participles – has been highly critical of the plethora of them for which TP is legend. You would think that people involved in communications and writing might know better. But I digress.

Thanks to the Infallible Wikipedia, we learn that:

“The object of the game is to move around the board by correctly answering trivia questions. Questions are split into six categories, with each one having its own color to readily identify itself; in the classic version of Trivial Pursuit, the Geography category is blue, Entertainment is pink, History is yellow, Arts & Literature is originally brown, later purple, Science & Nature is green, and Sports & Leisure is orange. The game includes a board, playing pieces, question cards, a box, small plastic wedges to fit into the playing pieces, and a die.

TORONTO “Trivial Pursuit” inventors, former journalists Chris Haney (l), brother John Haney, and Scott Abott (r), play their board game based on trivia questions. The game in great demand in the U.S.A. and Canada, is sold out in many retail outlets. Photo dated Feb. 6, 1984.

Playing pieces used in Trivial Pursuit are round and divided into six sections like wedges of pie. A small plastic wedge, sometimes called cheese (like cheese triangles), can be placed into each of these sections to mark each player’s progress.

During the game, players move their playing pieces around a track which is shaped like a wheel with six spokes. This track is divided into spaces of different colors, and the center of the board is a hexagonal “hub” space. At the end of each spoke is a “category headquarters” space. When a player’s counter lands on a square, the player answers a question according to its color, which corresponds to one of the six categories. If the player answers the question correctly, his turn continues; a correct answer on a category headquarters space awards a wedge of that color if the player does not yet have one. (snip)

Once a player has collected one wedge of each color and filled up his playing piece, he must return to the hub and answer a question in a category selected by the other players. If this question is answered correctly, that player wins the game. Otherwise, the player must leave the center of the board and try again on the next turn.”

By the time the hubby and I were married in 1980, TP was all the rage. Of course we purchased the game and played it often with family and friends.

After awhile we became familiar with some of the games less desirable traits. Things like the fact that it could drag on forever and the players would lose interest. Or that there were some topics which were so ridiculous that there was no way any normal person would ever know the answer.

A typical Obscure Author question next to the brown AL bubble… Persian poets? Really?

In fact, to this day, we refer to the original Arts and Literature ‘brown’ segment as Obscure Authors. Now, my hubby is a trivia brain so this game was right up his alley. Except for the Obscure Authors category, that is.

For me, well, my knowledge of stuff was more broad based and mostly I would venture WAG’s* if I had no clue to the answer.

Sometime in the mid-1980’s, during a rather robust game of TP with a group of friends, I was getting close to the finish and the opportunity to win the game when I landed on green, Science and Nature. It should have been my first clue.

I got a question which, when I answered it, turned into a moment of great embarrassment.

For those familiar with TP you know that, except for the occasional true or false, you simply have to know the answer. Here’s a sample:

There are no ‘multiple choice’ options. Just a whole series of ridiculous questions that most people do not know.

We return to the game where I was given the Science and Nature question but, unfortunately, answered it as if it was from the Geography section.

Here’s what I was asked: Where is the Coccyx located?

To which I answered: Egypt.

Contrary to popular belief, the Coccyx is nowhere to be found in this photo…

Guess I should have taken a class in anatomy and physiology.

There are many, in fact now over 100 million coccyx’s in Egypt, so the answer was, technically, correct. The answer on the back of the card, however, informed me that the coccyx is one’s tailbone.

I was pretty much laughed out of the room.

When the hubby and I moved a few years ago, our copy of TP and all the add on card sets we’d acquired were among the things which we donated, having not played the game in years.

And, for the record, there were two other answers which caused family squabbles. The answers were ‘Higher and Higher’ and ‘Cherry Cola.’ Can’t recall the exact questions, but at the time it was a huge controversy. In retrospect it truly was a trivial pursuit.

*WAG = Wild A** Guess

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trivial_Pursuit

Hallmark Ornaments

Not A Creature Was Stirring, Not Even Chris Mouse

December 8, 2020

When Hallmark introduced these in 1973, no one could even begin to imagine how, over the next 40 plus years, the company would lead the industry through an unprecedented demand for Christmas ornaments.

A display in a Hallmark store, circa 2013

That first year, Hallmark only had 18 different ornament designs available for sale. Apparently buoyed by the success of sales that year, however, the collectible ornaments were expanded the next year. Betsey Clark – a popular artist featuring whimsical big eyed children- had two entries that year, up from one the year before. Seen also for the first time were scenes from Currier & Ives as well as an iconic Norman Rockwell holiday painting. The number of balls was tripled but yarn figures – prominent the first year – were only half of what they’d been in 1973.

It went this way for several more years with more and more Ornament balls being offered… but with a catch. A shopper could not just walk into a Hallmark store or retailer and purchase the exact same ornament they saw the previous year. Each ornament incorporated the production year into the design. Once the baubles were sold out, that was it.

The introduction of annual orament series spurred interest. Each fall, collectors would rush to the store to snap up the newest one.

My sister’s 1978 Betsey Clark ornament

Surprisingly (at least to this author) is that the Infallible Wikipedia does not have a page devoted just to the Hallmark phenomenon. It does, however, offer up this information on a more generic page:

“In 1973, Hallmark Cards started manufacturing Christmas ornaments. The first collection included 18 ornaments, including six glass ball ornaments. The Hallmark Keepsake Ornament collection is dated and available for just one year. By 1998, 11 million American households collected Hallmark ornaments, and 250,000 people were member of the Keepsake Ornament Collector’s Club. There were as many as 400 local Keepsake Ornament Collector’s Club chapters in the US.  One noted Christmas ornament authority is Clara Johnson Scroggins who has written extensively on the topic and has one of the largest private collections of Christmas ornaments.

In 1996, the ornament industry generated $2.4 billion in total annual sales, an increase of 25% over the previous year. Industry experts estimated more than 22 million US households collected Christmas ornaments, and that 75% of those households collected Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments.”

And, according to the official Hallmark webpage, “What began as glass balls and yarn figurines has grown to more than 8,500 ornaments past and present, and a reputation for quality, craft, and above all, spirit.”

My first foray into the world of Hallmark ornaments began, coincidentally, the year I got married. During a trip into Hallmark I happened to go peruse the ornament section and, there it was, the perfect ornament to commemorate a couple’s first Christmas together.

Our first Hallmark ornament… the reverse says
“Christmas Is A Love Story Written In Our Hearts.”

I had to have it despite the fact that it was an extravagance not in the budget. The hubby was okay with the purchase of it and even another one which featured everyone’s favorite Christmas mouse, Mickey.

From that initial addictive purchase came more. Two more Hallmark ornaments were acquired in 1981. It was 1985, however, when things started to ramp up in my household.

That year saw the introduction of an ornament titled ‘Chris Mouse.’

Mr. Mouse was just about the most adorable creature you’d ever seen. His tiny little self was wearing what looked to be a sky blue night shirt and a red night cap. In his teeny hands he held a hunter green book with ‘1985’ on the cover in gold. But best of all was that he was sitting at the base of an old fashioned gold candle holder, leaning against a 4 inch tall red candle. At the top of the candle glows a yellow ‘flame’ which, when the ornament’s cord is plugged into a socket on a string of Christmas lights, is lit up.

I was enchanted and had to have that ornament.

Chris Mouse #1 who captured my heart

Soon I discovered that my Chris Mouse was only the first in the series. I eagerly looked forward to the next year’s entry. When it arrived in the stores the next fall I wandered in one day to take a look. Like the previous year, it was cute and this time featured Mr. Mouse asleep in a pinecone house, a tiny night light adding to the magic. I didn’t like it quite as well as the first one so I decided I might wait until after Christmas to buy it, maybe even find it on sale.

Sometimes, however, things work against you and such was the case in 1986. Just before Christmas I came down with a bad cold and was laid up for several days including on Christmas. The mouse was forgotten until, a few days after the holiday, I ventured out to the stores to do some bargain hunting. Alas, the second in the series was nowhere to be found.

In the following years, my lesson learned, I always purchased the ornaments I wanted well before Christmas. The Chris Mouse series? Ended up being 13 ornaments in all, each starring the adorable mouse in the blue nightshirt and red cap, each time doing something which featured a lovely little lighted object. It just so happened that I only had 12 of them and, every Christmas, I lamented not having the missing ornament.

Chris Mouse #2 who took years to join the line up

That was until a few years ago when there, under the tree for me one Christmas, was an unexpected surprise. Santa’s helper – who I call hubby – had located the missing Chris Mouse and bought it for me. The prodigal rodent joined his brother’s on the tree, the series now complete.

It takes several large Rubbermaid totes to house all the Hallmark ornaments in their original boxes. One bin is full of the lighted and motion ornaments, the other primarily a collection of whimsical critters. A third tote holds glass balls but only a dozen or so are part of the Hallmark collection.

By the late 1990’s with more than enough decorations to fill at least two trees, I stopped buying ornaments.

2020, however, seems like the perfect excuse to purchase a new bauble with which to commemorate this unusual year. An online search revealed that my local dealer is just down the hill. Time for a shopping adventure.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_ornament

https://www.hallmark.com/ornaments/

Dr Pepper

‘Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?’

December 1, 2020

When this product was granted a US patent on December 1, 1885, no one had ever heard of Coca-Cola. In fact, it was a year later before that iconic product was patented.

But for people in Waco, Texas, Dr Pepper was wildly popular. Despite over a century of being in monolith Coke’s shadow, the soft drink has an almost cult-like following.

The current logo

The story begins with one Charles Alderton, a pharmacist, at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco. The owner of the Drug store, upon trying it, soon added it to the menu and the local folks would order a “Waco.”

Like so many products of the late 1800’s, all sorts of wild claims which touted Dr Pepper as a healthful drink abounded. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Early advertisements for this soft drink made medical claims, stating that it ‘aids digestion and restores vim, vigor, and vitality.’

As with Coca-Cola, the formula for Dr Pepper is a trade secret, and allegedly the recipe is kept as two halves in safe deposit boxes in two separate Dallas banks. A persistent rumor since the 1930s is that the drink contains prune juice, but the official Dr Pepper FAQ refutes this with ‘Dr Pepper is a unique blend of natural and artificial flavors; it does not contain prune juice.’ The origin of the rumor is unknown; some believe it was started by a deliveryman for a competitor trying to cast aspersions based on prune juice’s laxative effects, but it may simply be because many people feel that Dr Pepper tastes similar to prune juice.

Early Dr Pepper Advertising slogan

In 2009, an old ledger book filled with formulas and recipes was discovered by Bill Waters while shopping at antiques stores in the Texas Panhandle. Several sheets and letterheads hinted it had come from the W.B. Morrison & Co. Old Corner Drug Store (the same store where Dr Pepper was first served in 1885) and faded letters on the book’s cover spelled out ‘Castles Formulas’. John Castles was a partner of Morrison’s for a time and worked at that location as early as 1880. One recipe in the book titled ‘Dr Peppers Pepsin Bitters’ was of particular interest, and some speculated it could be an early recipe for Dr Pepper. However, Keurig Dr Pepper insists it is not the formula for Dr Pepper, but is instead a medicinal recipe for a digestive aid. The book was put up for auction in May 2009, but no one purchased it.”

Over the years Dr Pepper has earned its spot on the grocery store shelves despite a century long effort by Coca Cola to eliminate the competitor. Coke even went so far as to introduce a similar tasting soda in the early 1970’s they named “Peppo.” Dr Pepper successfully sued Coke for copyright infringement. When the competing product’s name was changed to Dr Pibb it was determined even that was still infringement. Coke finally settled on Mr Pibb. As hard as Coke might try, Mr Pibb just doesn’t taste the same.

Which brings us to my take on Dr Pepper. I grew up in a Coke or 7-Up household with an occasional orange or root beer for variety. I doubt my mother had ever heard of Dr Pepper. But in the mid 1970’s a memorable jingle wormed its way into the American consciousness and suddenly everyone wanted to be ‘a Pepper too.’

And still I had not ever tried Dr Pepper! But I really liked the jingle even adapting the song as a promotion for an event I was working on.

When I met my future hubby in 1979 I finally tried Dr Pepper. At first sip I was hooked.

The Dr soon became our ‘go to’ beverage. In the summer of 1981, we traveled to Sacramento for a long weekend and a DeVore family reunion. When we left Sacramento that hot Sunday morning, it was to drive all 751 miles to Seattle since we had to both be at work the next day.

The evolution of the Dr Pepper ‘look’

Oh, and did I mention that the hubby’s 1975 Audi had windows? Which was a good thing since it did not have air conditioning.

So we headed north with a six pack of Dr Pepper and the wind through the open windows as the only way to stay even remotely comfortable as the temperature soared to 106 degrees.

On we drove, downing the Dr Pepper and not once having to stop for a restroom break.

Over the years every trip has always required we have at least a few cans or bottles in the cooler.

In recent years I had to curtail my Dr Pepper consumption due to the caffeine. Instead of sharing an entire six pack, I now might have a half a can. That was until I went on a diet in April. The Dr might be good for restoring ‘vim, vigor, and vitality’ but it wasn’t the leader in weight loss products. The cost – caloric wise – was higher than I was willing to pay.

A Dr Pepper t-shirt from the 1970’s

Now before y’all start telling me that I can get Dr Pepper in caffeine and sugar free versions, I know that. My worry is that it just won’t be the same taste I love.

One of these days I might try it. I’ve missed being a Pepper… and really would like to be a Pepper too (again!)

The video above is the 30 second commercial from the 1970’s when I became aware of Dr Pepper’s existence. And, just so you know, it is Dr Pepper without a period after the word ‘Dr’ so that’s not a typo. And, of course, even more trivia courtesy of The Infallible Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr_Pepper

‘Like An Exocet Missle’

Perhaps a not so great invention

November 24, 2020

“I’ve always liked squirrels – but once you’ve had one land on your head travelling about 30mph you can easily go off them.”

This little tidbit probably deserves to be classified in the ‘you can’t make this stuff up’ file. It was on November 24, 2001, when British inventor, Mike Madden, decided to give his latest invention a whirl.

“Just what, exactly, are you accusing me of doing?” – photo by author of one of her backyard marauders.

The results of his research, however, left him with whiplash and a big headache.

Mr. Madden had recently invented a hat which allowed the wearer to feed birds. The top of the hat would be filled with bird seed which would provide his feathered friends a perch where they could sit and eat their fill, especially during the winter months.

But Mr. Madden never counted on an ever opportunistic squirrel to foil his plans.

While the Infallible Wikipedia is silent on this particular topic, a United Kingdom site, the Metro News, offers this:

“…he also attracted the attention of a squirrel which leapt on him from a tree and made off with the bird feed.

Mr. Madden was left rolling on the ground with whiplash injuries and has since been forced to wear a neck brace.

The 48-year-old said: ‘It came at me like an Exocet missile. I didn’t have time to blink. There was a crash, a bang and a wallop. It felt like I’d been hit by a sledgehammer.’”

There’s so much amusement in this article but I think my favorite part is where he says it came at him like an Exocet missle. Even funnier is the name of where Mr. Madden lives: Crackpot Cottage.

Like all of you I questioned the veracity of this article. But research has proved it to be true. The BBC also carried the story in, granted, a slightly more sedate telling:

“The 48-year-old welder has been taking pain-killers and wearing a neck brace since the accident near his home in Crackpot Cottage, Honley, in Huddersfield.

He said: ‘I was out walking through the woods with my friend Craig Bailey.We had only just started the walk when ‘kaboom’ – I was on the floor.

‘I didn’t see much of what happened but Craig told me he saw the squirrel flying through the air and land right on my head.’”

(The above video is just over 20 minutes long and worth every moment!)

Over the years, filling bird feeders only to have them hijacked by squirrels has been a frustration. I’ve tried greasing the pole only to watch in amusement as the gray interlopers slide down them like some dancer in a backroom dive. Soon, however, a more acrobatic squirrel discovers that it can leap to the feeder, bypassing the obstacles.

I’ve tried putting out a second feeding area for the squirrels but that never satisfied them. Soon they co-opted all feeding stations and their ranks seemed to increase exponentially.

The worst year, however, was back in 1994 when we moved into a house off East Lake Sammamish parkway near Redmond. The previous owner loved, loved, loved the squirrels. So much so that she fed them by hand from the kitchen windows.

We had only been there a few weeks when I happened to open one of the windows to let in fresh air only to discover that the squirrels also wanted to come in the house.

Maybe that was okay for the previous house frau, but I had a four year old son and a one year old daughter. Call me over protective but potentially rabid and flea infested squirrels hanging out with my children wasn’t in the plan.

As the weeks wore on and I wasn’t feeding the squirrels, they became more and more aggressive. Additionally, I couldn’t keep track of how many there were as they were always swarming and running about. I couldn’t take the children outside to play; we were prisoners in our house.

Thankfully, my dad came to the rescue and brought us an animal trap which he was used in the family fruit orchards.

Once the trap was seeded with nuts, it took less than an hour to capture the first squirrel. The bigger question then was ‘what do I do with it?’

Looks suspicious. Photo from ridmysquirrel.com

Soon I had loaded the squirrel, still in the cage, into the back of our trusty Astro Van, and the kids and I headed off to a local park to set the creature free.

Between the hubby and I, this happened SEVEN more times over the next week and a half.

Finally we were down to the last squirrel. And this guy was not going quietly into that good night.

He hissed at me, he ran at me, he tried to claw his way through the windows. And he wouldn’t fall for that old peanut in a cage trick.

Then, finally, he could no longer resist the temptation. I heard the clang of the metal shutting the final inmate in. For this trip I had to wrap the cage in a blanket as the squirrel continued his aggressive behaviors biting at me through the wire. I, however, prevailed and he was released with his compadres. I avoided that park for a time.

After a while I put up new bird feeders and soon there were squirrels figuring out how to get to them. But it was as if, with the relocation of the previous residents, the new ones no longer retained a memory of hand feeding or coming in to the house. Finally, we could go outside without fear of a squirrel attack.

When we moved to our new abode two years ago, I finally kicked the bird feeding habit. Well, at least in regards to seed. My pets are hummingbirds whose feeders do not attract furry interlopers.

But I did see on the internet a really cool looking hat that you wear to feed them. Seems legit. Maybe I’ll add it to my Christmas list.

Hummingbird hat from https://goodlivingguide.com/hummingbird-feeder-hat/

Squirrel brains a nutty professor | Metro News

BBC News | ENGLAND | Squirrel gets nut

B3Mya.4Wpjb.1.jpg (1920×1080) (rmbl.ws)

A big thanks to my brother who included this in his weekly radio show prep!