May Gnus

  Science Gnus Almanac Home

May-   Let's see........

 We'll have Mother's Day, Memorial Day, National Teacher's Day, National Weather Observer's Day  National Windmill Day in the Netherlands. National Pickle Week, National Music Week and it will be National Military Appreciation Month, National, National Bike Month, National Arthritis Month, National Mental Health Month, National Hepatitis Awareness Month, National Radio Month National Correct Posture Month.  The Full Moon is called the "Milk Moon". 

  May was probably named for the Roman goddess of growth, Maia. 

The phrase "The merry month of May" was coined by Richard Barnfied in 1598.

As it fell upon a day In the merry month of May, Sitting in a pleasant shade Which a grove of myrtles made.  Richard Barnfield,  Address to the Nightingale

"The world's favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May."
-   Edwin Way Teale

  Will you love me in December as you do in May,
Will you love me in the good old fashioned way?
When my hair has all turned gray,
Will you kiss me then and say,
That you love me in December as you do in May?

Mayor Jimmy Walker of NYC

Science Gnus is an almanacish compendium of News of Science, History, Mathematics and Items of Interest as well as Professor Sy Yentz, Dr. Matt Matician, the Activity of the Month, Factorinos, Trivia Question, Bonus Trivia Question, Extinct, Trivia Answers, Jokes, Obscure Question, Scientist of the Month, and the Flower Rock and Word of the Month

Calendar Highlights

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1.       Loggerhead sea turtles begin nesting in the southeastern U.S.  Yep, they check their little turtle PDAs and wait till May 1 and then book a beach front condo and some golf T times in Hilton Head and then nest merrily away away. 

1328 –Saturday-  Fourteen years after Robert the Bruce’s victory over Edward II at Bannockburn, came the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in which England recognized Scotland as an independent nation. The Treaty was agreed by Robert (the Bruce, uncle of Lenny the Bruce) I in Edinburgh Castle in 1328 and by Edward III in Northampton. Robert Bruce had everything he'd been fighting for - the English had been driven out of Scotland, peace had been achieved and he was recognized as King of Scots. In the Treaty, England recognized Scotland's independence, the Bruce as King and gave up any claims over superiority over Scotland. In return, the Scots agreed to pay the English £20,000 to end the war, gave up any claim over the lands of Northumberland and promised to tell them what they wore under their kilts. A marriage was agreed between the two royal families, to seal the deal. Unfortunately, Robert Bruce went kaput just one year after the Treaty was agreed and his five year old son, David, became King of Scots. Lamentably, for the Scots,  the peace promised by the treaty went kaput.  The Scots were better at fighting amongst themselves than fighting the English.  Claimants to the throne appeared and three years later the Scots were defeated by 'The Disinherited' - the relatives of King John Balliol returning to claim the throne…who would eventually, cravenly, swear fealty to Edward III and the fighting would start over again.

1543-Saturday- The Earth goes around the Sun! Nicolas Copernicus, Polish astronomer circulated The Little Commentary, demonstrating the heliocentricity (see Galileo and the inquisition in April) of the Solar System.  Copernicus probably formulated his idea sometime between 1508 and 1514, and during those years he wrote a manuscript usually called the Commentariolus (Little Commentary). However, the book that contains the final version of his theory, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium libri vi ("Six Books Concerning the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs"), did not appear in print until 1543, the year of his death.  Being dead would keep him reasonably safe from the inquisition. Copernicus proposed that the planets have the Sun as the fixed point to which their motions are to be referred; that the Earth is a planet which, besides orbiting the Sun annually, also turns once daily on its own axis; and that very slow, long-term changes in the direction of this axis account for the precession of the equinoxes. Standard belief at the time was the Ptolomy model of Sun and planets revolving around the Earth. Note there is also It’s Alliium Aboutium Mesium, the condition in which most teenagers have believed that the solar system revolves around them.

1753-Tuesday- Carolus Linnaeus published the first edition of his Species Plantarumin which he gave systematic names to plants that are still in use today. These replaced his original names such as; "the one that gave me a rash", the green one that turns brown when you don't water it", "the one that tastes like a used sweat sock", "the one with the leaf that poked me in the eye", and “the one you can smoke and afterwards you think Barbara Walters is attractive”.

1707 –Sunday-  379 years to the day after the Treaty of Edinburgh Northampton (see 1328), The Act of Union joined the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.  In a poorly attended Scottish Parliament the (some bribed) MP's voted to agree the Union and on January 16, 1707 the Act of Union was signed. The Act came into effect on May 1st 1707; the Scottish parliament was dissolved and England and Scotland became one country.  The two countries had shared a monarch for about 100 years (since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne from his cousin, Queen Elizabeth I). The ruler would be Queen Anne, the last of the Stuarts, the second daughter of James II and his first wife Ann Hyde. She has been described as,shy, conscientious, stout, gouty, shortsighted and very small.

1769-Monday - Happy Birthday, Arthur Wellesley, born in Dublin, the Duke of Wellington who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. In addition to being the first Duke of Wellington and one of England's greatest military leaders, he served as Prime Minister from January 1828 to November 1830 and again from November to December 1834. Wellesley achieved lasting fame  when in 1808 he assumed control of the British, Portuguese and Spanish forces in the Peninsular War (1808 - 1814), eventually forcing the French to withdraw from Spain and Portugal. When Napoleon abdicated in 1814, Wellesley returned home a hero and was created Duke of Wellington. He attended the Congress of Vienna and served for a briefly as ambassador to France but in 1815, Napoleon returned. Wellington became commander of the allied armies. With the help of Prussian forces under von Blucher he defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815.

1786- Monday            Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro premiered in Vienna. The sequel, the Divorce of Figaro and the subsequent, The Contesting of the  Prenuptial Agreement of Figaro were considerably less successful. The comic opera was based on based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro  written in 1784.  The Marriage of Figaro is a “sequel,” to Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, which while written after Barber maintains the same characters and setting.

1795 –Sunday-  Kamehameha, the king of Hawaiʻi defeated Kalanikupule and established the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. This was also Kamehameha’s forty seventh birthday. Having led a group of rebellious tribal chiefs, by 1790 he controlled much of the island of Hawaii and built some beach front condos with in-ground pools and cute little Tiki bars. He then added to his staff two English seamen, John Young and Isaac Davis, who knew about muskets and cannon. With their advice, and constant playing of Tiny Bubbles; The Greatest Hits of Don Ho playing on loudspeakers, he won victories on the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai.  On this day in  1795 Kamehameha completed his conquest of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai –established a surfing and deep sea fishing business and invaded Oahu, where during the climactic battle many of the enemy were driven to their death over the Nuuanu cliffs. With this victory he gained control of all the islands except Kauai and Niihau, which yielded in 1810 without a fight.

1839-Wednesday- Happy Birthday, Count Hilaire Bernigaud Chardonnet the French chemist and industrialist who first developed rayon, the first commonly used artificial fiber. Chardonnet had developed the idea for an artificial silk while working with Louis Pasture when Pasteur was experimenting with silk worms. Chardonnet's starting point was mulberry leaves, the food of silkworms; he turned them into a cellulose pulp with nitric and sulphuric acids and stretched it into fibers. Rayon is fiber composed of regenerated cellulose, derived from wood pulp, cotton linters, or other vegetable matter.

1845-Thursday Happy Birthday, Lawson Tait, Scottish surgeon who was the first to both diagnose and remove a diseased appendix in 1880.  Later, he removed a diseased Table of Contents, a herniated Glossary, and a ruptured Index. He was a self-proclaimed gynecologist, and is perhaps most widely known as the first to perform salpingectomy to treat ruptured tubal pregnancy. He was also the first to record removal of an ovary for relief of pelvic pain and to induce menopause.

1851-Thursday- TheGreat Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations opened in Hyde Park, London, England. This was the first international exhibition to be held in any country. The exhibition was intended to raise the level of industrial design and of course to display production and acquire new and larger markets. It stayed open in Hyde Park for five months and fifteen days. Queen Victoria visited over forty times….but then she liked to buy discount “10 Passes” so she paid for nine and got the tenth free.   Housed in Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace, built especially for the exhibition, it provided a showcase for many thousands of inventions. The Crystal Palace was designed by Paxton in only 10 days and was a huge iron monster with over a million feet of glass. It was important that the building used to showcase these achievements be grandiose and innovative.  Over 13,000 exhibits were displayed and viewed by over 6,200,000 visitors to the exhibition. After the Great Exhibition closed, the Crystal Palace was moved to Sydenham Hill in South London and reconstructed in what was, in effect, a 200 acre Victorian theme park.

1852-Saturday- Happy Birthday, Santiago Ramón y Cajal Spanish histologist (a histologist is an anatomist who specializes in the microscopic study of animal tissues) who (with Camillo Golgi) received the 1906 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for establishing the neuron, or nerve cell, as the basic unit of nervous structure. This finding was instrumental in the recognition of the neuron's fundamental role in nervous function. The neuron replaced the moron which was the nerve cell responsible for stupidity.

1852 – Saturday- Bet you didn’t know that Santiago Ramón y Cajal and Calamity Jane were born on the same day.  Happy Birthday, Martha Jane Cannary, born in Missouri. Now called Jane, she went to Deadwood, Dakota, during the Gold Rush in the Black Hills during the 1870s. It was there after the 1876 murder of Wild Bill Hickok, that she claimed that he was the father of her child and that they'd been married. (The child, if it existed, was said to have been born September 25, 1873, and given up for adoption.) Calamity Jane was noted for her habit of dressing in men's clothing. She nursed victims of a smallpox epidemic in 1878, also dressed as a man. She later married Clinton Burke in 1891 after they'd lived together for at least six years….we’re not sure who wore the dress at the wedding.  A violent  alcoholic in her later years, Calamity Jane appeared in Wild West shows, including the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, around the country, featuring her riding and shooting skills but after she was fired in 1901 from a show, she retired to Deadwood, where she went kaput from pneumonia. Calamity Jane was buried next to Wild Bill Hickok.  She claimed she got her name while serving as an army scout and saving the life of a Captain Egan during an Indian attack.  He named her “Calamity Jane”. 

1860- Tuesday- A patent for the shaving mug was granted to Thomas E. Hughes of Birmingham, Pa. And why you ask, a shaving mug?  Hot water was not available from the tap, so often the water had to be pumped from a well, boiled on a wood burning kitchen stove, and then carried to the bathroom - and then one had to shave with poor lighting…….which is why a lot of men had beards in those days.   Shaving mugs are now a big deal in the “collectibles market” for you E-bay fans.

1863 –Friday- Beginning of the Battle of Chancellorsville. This Southern victory over the hopeless Union general “Fighting Joe” Hooker was ultimately a pyrrhic victory  as General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was killed by fire from is own troops shortly after the battle ended, eliminating Robert E. Lee's best "fighting" general. This leadership void became critical at Gettysburg two months later. As the Federal army converged on Chancellorsville, Hooker expected Lee to retreat from his forces, which totaled nearly 115,000. Although heavily outnumbered with just under 60,000 troops - Lee didn’t retreat. The Confederate commander divided his army: one part remained to guard Fredericksburg, while the other raced west to meet Hooker's advance. When the vanguard of Hooker's column clashed with the Confederates' on May 1, Hooker pulled his troops back to Chancellorsville, a lone tavern at a crossroads in a dense wood known locally as The Wilderness (sight of another bloody battle a year later).

1865 –Monday-  The War of the Triple Alliance in which Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay declared war on Paraguay.  In 1864 Brazil helped the leader of Uruguay's Colorado Party to oust his Blanco Party opponent. That caused the dictator of Paraguay, Francisco Solano López, to believe that the regional balance of power was threatened, so Paraguay merrily went to war with Brazil. Bartolomé Mitre, president of Argentina, then organized an alliance with Brazil and Colorado-controlled Uruguay (the Triple Alliance), and together they declared war on Paraguay. After some initial victories the war went very badly for Paraguay (at the time thought to be the pre-eminent military power in South America).  Allied troops entered Asunción in January 1869, but Solano López held out in the northern jungles for another fourteen months until he finally went kaput in battle. Destitute and practically destroyed, Paraguay had to endure a lengthy occupation by foreign troops and cede large patches of territory to Brazil and Argentina.

1875-Happy Birthday, Harriet Quimby, American aviator, the first female pilot to fly across the English Channel (1912).Although she was the first American woman to become a licensed pilot, her career as a pilot lasted only 11 months. She died the same year, on Jul 1912, when she lost control of her plane at a flying exhibition near Quincy, Mass.

1881-Sunday-  Happy Birthday Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, visionary French Jesuit, paleontologist, biologist, and philosopher, who dedicated  his life to trying to integrate religious experience with natural science, most specifically Christian theology with theories of evolution. He took part in the discovery of Peking Man. His most famous work is The Phenomenon of Man.

1884-Thursday-  Fittingly, on the day that the Empire State Building would be dedicated forty seven years later, construction began in Chicago, Illinois, on the first skyscraper, the ten-story steel-skeleton Home Insurance Company of New York yes, the New York company built it in Chicago! Nine stories and one basement were completed in 1885. Two stories were added in 1891. The architect, Major William Le Baron Jenney, created the first load-carrying structural frame, the development of which led to the "Chicago skeleton" form of construction and the big skyscrapers of later years. Chicago would become the “home” of the skyscraper.

1895-Friday- -  An electric engine for passenger trains began regular use on the Baltimore and Ohio (B & O – buy it for $200 – it has Illinois Ave. on one side and Atlantic Ave. on the other )  railroad, Maryland. This was already the first railroad in the U.S. to use an electric engine instead of a steam engine in regular service. The electric engine used galvanized storage batteries, which could not be practical for great distances. A really long plug didn’t work either.

1889-Wednesday- In Germany, the Bayer company introduced aspirin in powder form.  After registering "aspirin" as a trademark in 1899, Bayer marketed the analgesic to doctors and hospitals in powder form. Sales remained sluggish and hard to swallow until 1904 when a stamped, water-soluble tablet was introduced.  Aspirin had been invented (discovered?) by Felix Hoffman working for the Bayer Company. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, who lived sometime between 460 B.C and 377 B.C. left historical records of pain relief treatments, including the use of powder made from the bark and leaves of the willow tree to help heal headaches, pains and fevers. By 1829, scientists discovered that it was the compound called salicin in willow plants which gave you the pain relief.

1915 –Saturday-  RMS Lusitania departed New York City, despite a published warning from the German authorities that appeared in U.S. newspapers the morning of her departure,  on her two hundred and second and final (not quite) crossing of the North Atlantic. Aboard the 32,000 ton ship, one female passenger said, “ I don't think we thought of war. It was too beautiful a passage to think of anything like war." Six days later, the ship was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland with the loss of 1,198 lives, including 128 Americans, rousing American sentiment against Germany.

1920 –Saturday-  The longest baseball game (by innings) was played. The Boston Braves (then Milwaukee Braves and now Atlanta Braves) and the Brooklyn Dodgers (Professor Sy Yentz, a New Yorker, refuses to print the name of the city that stole the Dodgers from Brooklyn) played an incredible 26 innings -- with the same pitchers! In the days before pitch counts and inning counts and walking around on the mound and taking deep breaths and turning each single pitch into a major event, Leon Cadore of Brooklyn and Boston’s Joe Oeschger went the distance and saw the game end in a 1-1 tie. Cadore gave up 15 hits while the Dodgers had nine before darkness halted play. The longest game by time, an 8 hr. 6 m extravaganza  between the Chicago White Sox and the Milwaukee Breweres (they were in the American league at the time) occurred on May 8,  1984 and went twenty five innings.

1923-Tuesday Happy Birthday, Joseph Heller, American author born in Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY.  Author of Professor Sy Yentz all time favorite book, Catch 22. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Air Force as a bombardier in Italy and flew 60 missions. These experiences later became the basis for his first novel and masterpiece, Catch-22.

1924-Thursday-   The first iodized table salt in the U.S. went on sale  in Michigan.. The table salt contained 0.01% sodium iodide as a dietary supplement, since an adequate intake of iodine reduces the incidence of goiter (major swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck.) Diamond Crystal Salt, and four other Michigan table salt companies agreed to add the trace of iodine compound to their product at the urging of the Michigan State Medical Society. The ancient Greeks and others used iodine-rich seaweed to combat goiters, but it was not until 1821 that French nutritional chemist Jean Baptiste Boussingault discovered salt iodine-rich salts could be used to treat goiter, though he did not understand its preventive role.  At the same time, Swiss physician J.F. Coindet  successfully employed iodine therapy for goiter.  Thirty years later, another French scientist, A. Chatin hypothesized that iodine deficiency caused goiters, but an expert group of his country's Academy of Scientists rejected the claim and killed the idea for another half century. 

1925-Friday-  Happy Birthday, Scott Carpenter, American astronaut. One of the original seven Mercury astronauts, he was the second (after John Glenn) U.S. astronaut to make an orbital spaceflight. In Aurora 7 he made the fourth Mercury flight, circling the Earth three times on May 24, 1962. He directed part of the flight by manual control. He was also one of the first men to live under the ocean surface for an extended period of time (1965) as one of the aquanauts in Sealab II off the California coast. Eventually, after up in space and under the water, he decided to just live on Earth's surface.

1931-Friday-   The Empire State Building was dedicated and opened to the public.  We believe it was dedicated by the singing group, the Shirelles, yes   Dedicated To the One I Love as Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr rendezvoused ……Actually, in Washington, D.C., President Herbert Hoover pushed a button that turned on the lights of the Empire State Building, officially opening the tallest building erected to that date. The Empire State Building (New York is the “Empire State”) has 102 stories, or is 1,454 feet from the top to its base at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue. It was designed by architect William Frederick Lamb and was constructed during the height of the Great Depression. Incredibly, considering how long it takes to build even a family home nowadays, it took just over a year to complete at a cost of only $40 million. The Empire State building is currently the ninth tallest (with more on the way) building in the world.  The top five are:  The Taipei Tower 101  in Taiwan,  Petronas Tower 1 in Kuala Lampur, Petronas Tower 2 in, yes, Kuala Lampur, The Sears Tower in Chicago, and the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai.  However, The Burj Dubai tower will stand 800 meters tall - just 5 meters shy of half a mile - once completed.. That will be nearly 300 meters taller than the tallest floored building in the world today, the Taipei Tower in Taiwan.

1935-Wednesday-  Boulder Dam was finished after 4 years and 354 days....and it was a dam good job!  The initial planned site was at Boulder Canyon about 10 miles north upriver from where it is now located at Black Canyon. An engineering reassessment moved the location from Boulder Canyon to its present location. The Herbert Hoover administration changed the name from Boulder Dam to Hoover Dam in 1930 as a political move. In 1933, the Franklin Roosevelt administration changed it back to Boulder Dam, and under Harry Truman, the permanent name of Hoover Dam was restored.  Got it? Hoover just “vacuumed” up all opposition.

1941 –Thursday “Rosebud”. Considered the greatest movie of all time, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane starring Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comigore, Agnes Moorhead, and Ruth Warrick had its premiere in New York.  Its director, star, and producer were all the same genius individual - Orson Welles (in his film debut at age 25), who collaborated with Herman J. Mankiewicz on the script. The film, budgeted at $800,000, received unanimous critical praise even at the time of its release, although it was not a commercial success (partly due to its limited distribution and delayed release by RKO due to pressure exerted by famous publisher W.R. Hearst on whom the film’s title character was modeled) - until it was re-released after World War II, found well-deserved (but delayed) recognition

            1945 –Tuesday-  Admiral Karl Doenitz, brother of Duncan Doenitz,  succeeded Hitler as leader of the Third Reich. This was one day after Hitler kaputed himself, his new bride and his dog. After forming a new government he negotiated Germany's surrender on  May 8th. At the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Doenitz was found guilty of war crimes and was sentenced to ten years in prison.

            1949-Sunday-  Gerard Kuiper discovered Nereid, the second satellite of Neptune, the outermost and the third largest of Neptune's known natural satellites. Nereid's orbit is the most highly eccentric (weirdest) of any planet or satellite in the solar system since its distance from Neptune varies from as close as 1,353,600 to as far as 9,623,700 kilometers.  The name, Nereid refers to the mythical sea nymphs who dwell in the Mediterranean sea, the 50 daughters of Nereus and Doris (Doris Day?.....we knew she's been around a long time but........). Kuiper, a Dutch-American astronomer also discovered Miranda, a moon of Uranus; and found an atmosphere on Titan, a moon of Saturn and the Kuiper belt – not the one that held up his pants- the cloud of comets out beyond Pluto.  In fact, some astronomers believe that Pluto, Charon and Triton are considered to be large Kupier belt objects. And now Pluto has been officially demoted to dwarf planet and Kuiper Belt object.  And Pluto isn’t even the largest Kuiper Belt dwarf planet.  That honor goes to Eris.

            1958 – Thursday- Another year, another belt (see Kuiper 1949), with the discovery of the powerful Van Allen radiation belts that surround Earth being published in the Washington Evening Star. The article covered the report made by their discoverer James Van Allen using data transmitted by the U.S. Explorer satellite.  The radiation belt(s) are doughnut-shaped zones of highly energetic charged particles trapped at high altitudes in the magnetic field of the Earth. The Van Allen belts are most intense over the Equator and are effectively absent above the poles. Prior to be discovery of the belt, it was believed Earth was surrounded by radiation suspenders. The radiation belts are the direct cause of Obnoxium Telephonitis the publicly pestilential disease that turns certain cell phone users into vexatious, bothersome irritants.

            1960-Sunday-  An American U-2 spy plane, piloted by Francis Gary Powers, was shot down over Russia.  This resulted in the cancellation of a summit meeting between President Dwight Eisenhower and Soviet Dictator, Nikita Khrushchev.  Powers was later exchanged for master spy Rudolf Heinrich Abel...............and a future number one draft choice plus a spy to be named later.  The U-2 is 63 feet (19.2 meters) long, 16 feet (4.8 meters) high,  the wingspan is105 feet (32 meters), and the speed is  410+ miles per hour. Criticized when he returned to the United States for not ensuring that the revolutionary plane was destroyed, or killing himself with a suicide pin or pill, Powers was cold-shouldered by his former employers at the Central Intelligence Agency. He worked for Lockheed as a test pilot for seven years, and, in 1970, he co-authored a book about his experience called Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident. Powers died in 1977 at the age of 47 when a television news helicopter he was piloting crashed in Los Angeles.    The Soviet spy, Abel was born William August Fisher  in England before going to the USSR.  He came to New York City in 1948, posed as a painter-photographer, and directed the Soviet spy network in the U.S. for 10 years. Abel  unearthed valuable information on American nuclear weapons and rocketry. A "split" nickel found by a Brooklyn newspaper boy helped the FBI capture Abel--the nickel contained a tiny piece of film with a coded message. Abel was sentenced to 30 years in prison but was exchanged in 1962 for Powers. Abel's spy career spanned almost 30 years.

            1964 Friday Basically, first BASIC program was run on a computer at about 4:00 a.m. It was invented at Dartmouth University by professors John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz. The instructors  decided they had a group of students too lazy to learn (what a shock!)  FORTRAN. They produced a new language with only 26 variable names, so that even a lazy programmer can keep track of them. BASIC is an acronym for Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. It is  designed to be an easy programming language to learn quickly how to write simple programs. Originally designed for mainframes, BASIC was adopted for use on personal computers when they came into popularity. BASIC remains popular to this day in a handful of highly modified dialects and new languages based on BASIC such as Microsoft Visual Basic.

            1967 –Monday-  A social note as Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. Later he re-married her in the trophy room (how appropriate) at Graceland for the benefit of family and friends who were unable to be present in Las Vegas.  Note, this was the thin Elvis, not the fat bloated drug addled has been going through the motions of entertaining of a few years later. But……considering his wealth, she probably would have married him anyway.

            1991 - Oakland Athletics outfielder and space cadet Rickey Henderson stole his 939th base to break Lou Brock’s record for stolen bases in a career. Henderson stole a total of 1,406 bases in his major league career, almost 500 more than the next closest player. The A’s beat the Yankees, 7-4. Henderson doubled and then stole 3rd.  He tried to hid the base in his back pocket but set off the security alarm when he entered the dugout. 

            1999-Saturday-  The Mercury space capsule Liberty Bell 7 that Gus Grissom flew in 1961 was found in the Atlantic Ocean 300 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral, Fla.  Somehow, when Grissom landed in the ocean the hatch blew off and his rescue was a close run thing as the capsule quickly sank shortly after Grissom climbed out.  Grissom was later killed in the Apollo 1 fire.

            1999-Saturday- It was a good day for finding lost things. First Gus Grissom’s space capsule and then George Mallory. On Mount Everest, a group of U.S. mountain climbers discovered the body of George Mallory. On June 8, 1924 Mallory & Sandy Irvine were spotted from below going over one of the last major obstacles of their route.  The summit of Mt. Everest about 900 ft. was only a few hours away. Swirling mists closed in. They were never seen again. At the time of the discovery it was unclear whether or not Mallory had actually reached the summit. The body was found at 27,000 ft. 

            2003 –Thursday- An amazing wave of tornadoes began in the south and southwestern U.S.  When the wave was over, more than 500 tornadoes were recorded for the month, shattering the previous record by more than 100. One actually picked up a farmhouse in Kansas and dropped it on a wicked witch (the Wicked Witch of the East).

                2005-Sunday-  Fishermen in northern Thailand caught a catfish the size of a grizzly bear in the Mekong River. The Mekong giant catfish, which was believed to be the largest freshwater fish ever found, was almost nine feet long and weighed more than 640 pounds. Local authorities attempted to keep the fish alive so they could release it after it had been stripped of eggs to use in a captive-breeding program, but the fish did not survive and was eaten by villagers thus making it the biggest fish filet in history.  They added some chips, some vinegar, some Harp’s draft and went to town.

 Back to Calendar


1335 –Monday-  Otto the Merry, Duke of Austria, became Duke of Carinthia. We note this because of the dozens of royal nicknames we’ve come across, Charles the Bald, Edward the Confessor, Richard the Lion Hearted, ……Otto (a Hapsburg)  is the only “Merry”. But then it is the “merry month of May.”

            1536 –Saturday-  Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go I wanna be sedated
Nothin' to do and no where to go-o-oh I wanna be sedated…
..The Ramones…..After three years of marital bliss and a few earlier years of being a mistress (six years of “courting”), Henry VIII’s wife number 2,  Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, was arrested and imprisoned on charges of adultery, incest, treason, witchcraft, cheating at Scrabble and watching reruns of Jeopardy and calling out the questions. On May 15th 1536 Anne was tried for treason, adultery and incest in the Great Hall of the Tower of London with her brother George Boleyn.  On May 19th she was executed on Tower Hill. Anne's body and head were buried (together)  in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula

            1670 –Friday-  The Hudson Bay Co. was chartered by England's King Charles II for his cousin, Prince Rupert. One of the first to realize the potential of trade in North America was Samuel de Champlain. In 1603, he made his first trip to North America. At first, fur was not the most important thing that was traded. Then, around the year 1600, hats made from beaver felt became very fashionable. Everybody wanted one. It was the 17th century version of Jimmy Choo shoes except men could wear them too. Coincidently (can’t imagine why) at the same time, beavers were becoming extinct in Europe. So how do we make the leap from the French Champlain to the English?  Two French explorers/traders, Médard Chouart des Groseilliers and Pierre Radisson. had not gotten a license to trade fur before they began their adventure. The furs were taken away, Des Groseilliers was put in jail and both were given fines for breaking the law. The two became very annoyed. They decided to work for the English instead of the French. The king of England's cousin, Prince Rupert, knew that there was money to be made in the fur trade. He purchased furs from des Groseilliers and Radisson (who had opened a chain of hotels) The king gave Prince Rupert and his partners (known as "The Company of Adventurers Adventurers of England tradeing into Hudsons Bay") a charter, which gave the company a monopoly. On May 6, 1670, Hudson's Bay Company (or HBC, for short) was formed. It was given all the land whose rivers drained into the Hudson Bay, which became modestly known as Rupert's Land.  The company started with a string of trading posts in Canada and gradually grew up along the river networks of the west laying the foundation for the modern cities that would succeed the trading posts, Winnipeg, Calgary,  and Edmonton.

            1729Monday- Wild horses couldn’t drag me awayWild wild horses couldn’t drag me away…..Rolling Stones….. Happy Birthday Catherine II (Catherine the Great) of Russia. Catherine, who became the ruler when she deposed (soon to be slewn  by her lover, Orlov) her husband, Peter III,  on June 28, 1762. One of Russia’s great rulers, her personal life was more like “Gossip Girl” meets 18th century Russia.  While her personal life was the stuff of soap opera, she did have many lovers, Serge Saltykov (who probably fathered her son Peter), Orlov and  Grigori Potemkin among them. Contrary to tall tales, she did not go kaput attempting carnal knowledge of a horse.  She died of a heart attack in 1796. She consolidated power from the serfs and feudal lords by continuing the political reforms started by Peter the Great.  Land expansion dramatically increased during the Polish civil war in the late 1760's and again in 1768 when a Russian victory over the Ottoman Empire gave Russia its long sought port on the Black Sea . In addition to this, Catherine imported many great works in literature, art, and print from the Western European nations.  Education and law codes further developed under her reign.  At the end of her thirty-four year reign from 1762 to 1796, Catherine had catapulted Russia into the world scene as a major world empire.    

            1765-Thursday--  The first medical school opened in the colonies, The College of Philadelphia. It was organized by Dr. John Morgan who implemented his "Discourse upon Institution of Medical Schools in America" and was appointed Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine by the Trustees of the College on May 3, 1765. We’ve also seen the opening date as May 30, the date Morgan delivered his first public address.

            1775 –Tuesday- Almost lost in the amazing number of his inventions, discoveries and accomplishments – uber mensch, Benjamin Franklin completed the first scientific study of the Gulf Stream. His observations began in 1769 when as deputy postmaster of the British Colonies he found ships took two weeks longer to bring mail from England than it was for sailing from the Colonies to England. During Franklin's final Atlantic crossing, he was still trying to uncover the secrets of the Gulf Stream. By measuring the temperature of the ocean at various depths, Franklin rightly surmised that the Gulf Stream was like a warm river flowing over and through the Atlantic Ocean. This may have been the first reported streaming on line.  He suggested that the Gulf Stream could be used to improve the speed of vessels sailing between America and England if those vessels stayed in the current when traveling east and avoided it while traveling west. Franklin's other contribution to the understanding of the Gulf Stream was a map he drew that showed its movement with a high degree of accuracy.

            1797-Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Abraham Pineo Gesner, Canadian, born in Nova Scotia,  chemist and geologist who pioneered the extraction of kerosene (which he named) by the dry distillation of asphalt rock. He invented the process for distilling kerosene from coal. This product, also called paraffin, was cheaper than whale oil, and therefore resulted in some  reduction in whale hunting.

            1800-Friday-  English chemist William Nicholson was the first to produce a chemical reaction by electricity. Electrolysis of water is an electrolytic process which decomposes water into oxygen and hydrogen gas with the aid of an electric current, where a power source – Nicholson used a voltaic pile- is commonly used.  Today electrolyis is used to remove unsightly hair. We’re not sure if it helps with piles…voltaic or otherwise.

             1802-Sunday- Happy Birthday, Heinrich G. Magnus, German chemist and physicist who discovered the eponymous Magnus effect - the lift force produced by a rotating cylinder. We know it, for example, in baseball when it gives the curve to a curveball. He was also the first person to prepare a platino-ammonium compound- ‘Magnum’s green salt’ and in 1837 noticed that the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide in blood was higher in the arteries.  Women were attracted to him because of his “magnustism.”

        1860 –Wednesday- Happy Birthday, D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Scottish zoologist and classical scholar noted for his book 
On Growth and Form. The book is a consideration of the shapes of living things, starting from the simple premise that "everything is the
way it is because it got that way.''
Thompson emphasized looking at living things by using mathematics to describe their shapes and fairly simple physics
 and chemistry to explain them.  He was the first biomathematician.
Immanuel Kant declared that the criterion of true science is in its relation to mathematics.
 Added Thompson, "numerical precision is the very soul of science." Woody Allen concluded, “
Standard mathematics has recently been rendered
obsolete by the discovery that for years we have been writing the numeral five backward. This has led to reevaluation of counting as a method of
 getting from one to ten. Students are taught advanced concepts of Boolean algebra, and formerly unsolvable equations are dealt with by threats of reprisals.”

            1860-Wednesday-  Born on the same day as Thomson, see above, Happy Birthday, Sir William M. Bayliss, British physiologist who, in 1902 co-discovered the first hormone (the sound emitted by prostitutes pretending to enjoy sex) . He found a certain chemical substance is secreted when food comes into contact with part of the small intestine. This secreted chemical substance, which they cleverly named secretin, upon being carried by the blood to the pancreas, stimulates the secretion of pancreatic juice, the most important of the digestive juices. They coined the word "hormone" based on a Greek word for "to set in motion."

            1863 –Saturday-  Late in the day of the 2nd day of the Battle of Chancellorsville (Virginia) and following one of his most brilliant military maneuvers, the flanking of “Fighting Joe” Hookers army,   Thomas Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee’s most aggressive general, was shot by his own men - an unknown member or members of the 18th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. He died eight days later on May 10. Jackson’s loss would be keenly felt during the disaster at Gettysburg beginning July 1. However, the arm that was amputated on May 2 was buried separately by Jackson's chaplain, at the J. Horace Lacy house, "Ellwood", in the Wilderness of Spotsylvania County, near the field hospital. The rest of him is interred at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia.

                 1865-Tuesday- The first paid fire department was initiated in New York City. A state act was passed to create the Metropolitan Fire District and the Metropolitan Fire Department (MFD).  Initially the paid fire service only covered New York City (present day Manhattan), until the act of 1865 which united Brooklyn with New York to form the Metropolitan District. Brooklyn would become part of New York City in 1898. The same year the fire department consisted of 13 Chief Officers and 552 Company Officers and firemen. The officers and firemen worked a continuous tour of duty, with 3 hours a day off for meals and one day off a month, and were paid salaries according to their rank or grade. No word on the status of dalmatian dogs.

            1880 –Sudnay- Paving the way for the cruise liners of today, an Edison "A" type dynamo- a generator for producing direct current- was placed in operation to illuminate the passenger rooms and main salons of the S.S. Columbia. It was the first commercial order for Edison's light bulb, and the first time a U.S. steamboat successfully installed electric lights.  None of the cardboard-filament lamps blew out during the two-month voyage.  We’re not sure how people did with the Rock Wall and the ship board production of A Chorus Line but they enjoyed well lit “All you can Eat” buffets.

            1887 –Monday- They’re gonna put me in the movies.  They’re gonna make a big star out of me….Ringo Starr… Hannibal Goodwin and celluloid. The Reverend Goodwin devised a process for making celluloid (a tough flammable thermoplastic composed essentially of cellulose nitrate and camphor) film and applied for a patent in 1887, but for various reasons the patent was not granted until 1898. In the meantime ---follow this carefully now, George Eastman had started production of rollfilm using his own process. It was eventually ruled that Kodak had infringed Goodwin's patent which by then had been sold to Anthony & Scovill (Ansco) after Goodwin's death. With (now) Eastman’s process, with this new flexible film, Thomas Edison and  his assistant William Kennedy Laurie Dickson invented the kinetoscope. The kinetoscope was a large cabinet which housed 50 feet (15 meters) of film which revolved on spools. A person looking through a peephole in the cabinet would be able to see the moving pictures.  John Carbutt, an English photographer who had emigrated to America, had  produced a thin celluloid film which was sufficiently transparent. He did this by slicing a thin layer from a block of celluloid - this was then pressed between heated polished plates to remove the slicing marks. Carbutt started to manufacture cut film using this material sometime before1888, but it was slow to catch on. Two key events which would make celluloid film a necessity had yet to happen - roll film cameras and motion pictures…..see Eastman and Edison.

            1890-Friday- OOOOk-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain,
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet, When the wind comes right behind the rainQ
OOOOk-lahoma, Ev'ry night my honey lamb and I, Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin' lazy circles in the sky.
We know we belong to the land (yo-ho)
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Aye-yip-aye-yo-ee-ay!
We're only sayin'
You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.!
…..Rogers and Hammerstein……The Oklahoma Territory was organized. Actually, the western part of the state was organized as a federal territory. The eastern part, excepting the extreme northeastern corner, remained under the ownership and governments of the Five Civilized Tribes (the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole). Seventeen years later, these regions were united under the name "Oklahoma" and admitted as the 46th State.    

            1892 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Manfred von Richtofen, WW I German war ace, and perhaps the greatest fighter pilot who ever lived .  He painted the fuselage of his Albatross D-III a bright red and was nicknamed the Red Baron. Richthofen was killed when he was brought down by ground fire on April 21, 1918. He was 25 years old.

            1903-Saturday- (Be my be my baby) Be my little baby
(I want it only say) Say you'll be my darling
(Be my be my baby) Be my baby now
(I want it only say) Ooh, ohh, ohh, oh ….
The Ronettes…….Happy Birthday, Dr. Benjamin Spock, American pediatrician who was the most influential child-care authority of the 20th century. His book Baby and Child Care sold over 50million copies worldwide and was translated into 42 languages. Dr. Spock's brother, Mr. Spock, from the planet Vulcan brought the Vulcan Mind Meld to Earth.  He also wrote Baby Alien Care.

            1903 –Saturday-  Born on the same day as Dr. Spock, Happy Birthday Bing (Harry Lillis) Crosby, American singer and actor. He performed his signature song, White Christmas  in the film Holiday Inn (1942). Before this he had appeared during the 1930s in several light musicals, and in the 1940s he carved out a new career as the wisecracking companion of Bob Hope in the seven ‘Road’ pictures. He also made several serious films and won an Academy Award for his role in Going My Way in 1944.

            1933 –Tuesday- Stories of a beast living in Scotland's Loch Ness go back 1,500 years, the modern legend of  the Loch Ness Monster was actually born when a sighting made local news on May 2,1933. The newspaper Inverness Courier carried an account of a local couple who claimed to have seen "an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface." (It turned out to be Rosie O’Donnell)  The story of the "monster" (a name chosen by the Courier editor) started a media feeding frenzy, with London newspapers sending correspondents to Scotland and a circus offering a 20,000 pound  reward for capture of the beast. The tourist industry has not been the same since. Loch Ness, located in the Scottish Highlands, has the largest volume of fresh water in Great Britain. It. reaches a depth of nearly 800 feet and a length of about 23 miles. In case you didn’t know, a loch is a lake.

              1945 –Wednesday-  Na na na na, hey hey-ey, goodbye
Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey-ey, goodbye
….Steam……Approximately 1 million German soldiers gave up as the terms of the German unconditional surrender, signed at Caserta (Italy) on April 29, came into effect. Early that same day, Russian Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov accepted the surrender of the German capital, Berlin.  The Red Army took 134,000 German soldiers prisoner.

            1950-Tuesday-   H.B Taussig became the first woman elected to the Association of American Physicians.  Helen Brooke Taussig classified and described many of the heart  malformations. She is known for saving the lives of "blue babies" (infants whose color at birth indicated inadequate oxygenation of their blood.), and played an important role in preventing the use of thalidomide in the USA. In the late 1960s and early 1960s, thalidomide, a tranquillizing drug, had produced large numbers of deformed newborns in Europe. In January 1962 one of Taussig’s students drew her attention to these congenital malformations, known as phocomelia, occurring in Germany and England and possibly caused by thalidomide. Taussig saw the emergency and in February went to Europe to check thalidomide reports. By the end of her tour through Europe, she was convinced that the sleeping pill was causing the birth defects and that more people had to be warned. She returned to the United States where she addressed the American College of Physicians about thalidomide in April 1962, and reported her findings to the Food and Drug Administration. The U. S. Government as well as doctors throughout America took her recommendations seriously, and the use of the sleeping pill by pregnant women was stopped. As early as in March, 1963 a law requiring more careful drug testing went into effect.

            1952 –Friday- So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go
Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go
 ……John Denver…..The world's first ever commercial jet airliner, the De Havilland Comet 1 made its maiden voyage, flying from London to Johannesburg. This was a big deal.  The Comet was an immediate sensation, for obvious reasons. Trains and ships were still the dominant means of travel in 1952. Air travel was still a novelty for most travelers. Instead of a 40 hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, the Comet could fly from London to Johannesburg , via Rome, Beirut and Khartoum, in 23 hours, at speeds up to 500 MPH.

            1953 –Saturday Oops! Exactly a year after its maiden voyage, a De Havilland Comet mysteriously crashed shortly after takeoff. Two similar crashes in early 1954 forced British authorities to ground the entire fleet pending investigation. Over the following months, extensive tests were performed on the aircraft to determine what could have caused these mysterious accidents. During a four year hiatus in Comet operations, most prospective customers went to the rival Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 which soon claimed the bulk of the market. Only about 90 Comets ever reached commercial operators, and most were removed from service by the early 1980s.

            1955 –Monday- Tennessee Williams was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The play had opened on Broadway on March 24 starring Barbara Bel Geddes (later of Dallas), Burl Ives, Mildred Dunnock, and Ben Gazzara. This was his second Pulitzer, the first was in 1948 for A Streetcar Named Desire. Other 1955 Pulitzers went to: Fiction: A Fable by William Faulkner History: Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History by Paul Horgan, Biography or Autobiography:

The Taft Story by William S. White, Poetry: Collected Poems by Wallace Stevens; Music:

The Saint of Bleecker Street by Gian-Carlo Menotti

            1956 - I'm gonna tell Aunt Mary, about Uncle John
Says he has the blues, but he's got a lot of fun
Oh baby.yes, baby.
Oo-oo-ooooh, baby. havin me Some fun tonight!
well Long Tall Sally she’s, built for speed.
she got, everything that Uncle John need
Oh baby.yes, baby.
Oo-oo-ooooh, baby. havin me Some fun tonight!
….Little Richard….For the first time in "Billboard" chart history, the same five singles were in both the pop and the R&B top 10. We should note that none of them were number 1.  The number 1 song was The Third Man Theme by Anton Karas. Runners up but all on both lists (for some reason Anton Karas was not on the R&B list) were singles Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel, Carl Perkins' Blue Suede Shoes, Little Richard's Long Tall Sally, the Platters' Magic Touch, and Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers' Why Do Fools Fall in Love.

1965 –Sunday-  The Rolling Stones made their second appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. They performed The Last Time, Little Red Rooster and Someone to Love. They were totally upstaged by Topo Gigio, the Italian Mouse. Also appearing were singers Tom Jones (another Brit)– It’s Not Unusual, Leslie Uggams Melancholy Baby, Dusty Springfield, (still another Brit) All Cried Out; comedians, Totie Fields, Morecambe & Wise (yes, Brits again), and jugglers, The Half Brothers and Gitta Morrelly. Roy Orbison took a bow from the audience.

1969 –Friday-  The British ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2 departed on her maiden voyage to New York City.  She would arrive in New York to a tumultuous welcome with  Mayor John Lindsay taking time out from destroying the city, greeting the ship. Still in service, the ship had a gross tonnage  of 65,863 tons. It was  270.37 x 32.09m (887.1 x 105.3ft) and could accommodate - 564 1st class, 1,441 tourist class passengers. All of who would be on line in front of you with questions at the information desk.

1982 –Sunday-  The Falklands War was so one sided it wasn’t even fun…sort of like the Dallas Cowboys playing Roosevelt High School.  The British submarine HMS Conqueror sank Argentina's only cruiser, the General Belgrano  (and that just about did it for the Argentinean Navy during the Falkland Islands War) . More than 350 people died. The General Belgrano started nautical life as the USS Phoenix, built in Brooklyn,  a light cruiser (at 10,000ish tons it is heavier than a destroyer but lighter than, yes, a heavy cruiser) that served during WWII. She was sold to Argentina in 1951 for reduced rate tango lessons and a used bolo.  The Belgrano has the dubious distinction of  being the only ship ever to have been sunk by a nuclear-powered submarine

2008 –Friday The Myanmar (Burma) cyclone. Named Nargis, the cyclone began over the Bay of Bengal and hit Myanmar devastating  five divisions and states - Yangon, Bago, Ayeyarwaddy, Kayin and Mon, of which Ayeyarwaddy and Yangon sustained the heaviest casualties and infrastructural damages. To make matters worse,  Myanmar/Burma was ruled by a military dictatorship, a collection of loons who would not allow international aid organizations to assist the helpless victims.

 Back to Calendar


International Tuba Day---yes, it's hard to believe that another year has passed and we can once again echo the words of Hamlet and  ask "tuba or not tuba", that is the question.  Although "tis nobler to use a tuba toothpaste........" Tuba Day is celebrated the first Friday in May.  Joel Day founded International Tuba Day in 1979 while attending Lower Merion High School in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Being one of only two tuba players in the band and finding a lack of respect from his fellow classmates, he decided to set a day aside for recognition of tubaistas as reputable musicians rather than form a tuba ligation.  The tuba was originally invented as “the serpent” by Edme Guillaume  of France ca 1590. Though metal versions exist, the original and most predominant materials this instrument was fashioned from was wood covered with leather. The mouthpiece was variously made of wood, bone, ivory, oxhorn, ceramic, and various metal alloys such as brass, bronze and pewter.  Then in 1821 it morphed into the ophicleide in Dublin Ireland, by bugle-maker Joseph Halliday. The name being constructed from the two words “ophis” (Greek for “serpent”) and “kleis” (for “stopper” or “cover”). The tuba proper was first patented by Prussian bandmaster Wilhelm Wieprecht and German instrument-builder Johann Gottfried Moritz in 1835. This instrument was soon adopted by British brass bands

            1469 –Monday- “Before all else, be armed.”Happy Birthday, Niccolo Machiavelli Italian writer, statesman and political theorist.  A native of Florence, he is most famous for his political treatise, The Prince written in 1513. The Prince has become a cornerstone of modern political philosophy…..especially for people who haven’t read it but think they know what it says. Machiavelli originally wrote Principe (The Prince) in hopes of securing the favor of the ruling Medici family, and he deliberately made its claims provocative. The Prince is a  practical guide to the exercise of raw political power over a Renaissance principality. Allowing for the unpredictable influence of fortune, Machiavelli argued that it is primarily the character or vitality or skill of the individual leader that determines the success of any state. He also thought that 1999 was his best single although he also enjoyed his duet with Sheena Easton on U Got the Look.  The books for which he is remembered were published only after he went kaput in  1527.

            1568-Friday- French forces under the command of Dominique de Gourgues returned to the site of Fort Caroline, now renamed Fuerte San Mateo. De Gourgues destroyed the Spanish garrison at San Mateo, avenging the earlier Pedro Menéndez de Avilés massacres. The French massacre completed the merry cycle of French/Spanish massacres in northern Florida and Georgia.The Spanish had massacred French settlers at Ft. Caroline- over forty years before the English colonized Jamestown.

            1662 –Wednesday- Happy Birthday, Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann, German architect, best known for his design of the Zwinger, (yes, it was an early version of the “zwinging sixties”) a building complex in Dresden that is considered one of the most successful examples of the Baroque aesthetic. Oh course, he was going for baroque. The Zwinger is a space surrounded by single-storey galleries linking two-storey pavilions and a gateway

             1802 –Monday-  Washington, D.C., was incorporated as a city.  The Charter granted by Congress made Washington an incorporated city and gave voters the right to elect a local legislature (called a Council) that could pass laws and levy a tax on real estate to pay for city services. The local government also included a mayor appointed by the President. Washington has gone on to earn its place in the Hall of Fame for Corrupt Local Governments…..highlighted by the video taping of a mayor making a drug deal.   Demonstrating the usual intelligence of the local D.C voter, the criminal was re-elected after serving his jail term.  

            1810 –Thursday-  If, in the month of dark December,
            Leander, who was nightly wont
            (What maid will not the tale remember?)
            To cross thy stream, broad Hellespont!

            Beginning his training regimen for the 1896 Olympics and without use of swimming pool noodles, Lord Byron swam Hellespont. It was in emulation of Leander's legendary swims to visit his beloved Hero. Byron was twenty-two, and ten months into his two-year tour of the Mediterranean. He was not yet famous for his poetry although he had finished a first draft of Childe Harold. The Hellespont connects the Aegean Sea in the southwest to the Sea of Marmara and Black Sea in the northeast, and has always been regarded as the boundary between Europe in the northwest and Asia to the southeast. Byron swam about a mile to cross it. Hero was a  priestess of Aphrodite. She was the beloved of Leander, a youth from Abydos. Each night he swam across the Hellespont to reach her where he would croon Bobby Freeman’s C’mon and Swim - C'mon everybody come on it!
Bobby's gonna show you how to do the swim
Kinda like the monkey
Kinda like the twist
Pretend you're in the water
And you go like this...
Now baby swim!
Baby do the swim!

            1817 –Saturday- Happy Birthday, Horatio Emmons Hale, American anthropologist and linguist. He sailed with Charles Wilkes on his 1836 expedition to the south Pacific.  Hale published a 700-page book entitled Ethnology and Philology. His comparison of carefully collected vocabularies and grammars, which he used as the basis for determining the widespread migration of Polynesian groups, was a forerunner of comparative linguistics a generation later. Hale was also the first to discover that the Tutelos of Virginia belonged to the Siouan family, and to identify the Cherokee as a member of the Iroquoian family of speech. However, he was completely unable to decipher conversations between teenage girls as they texted and gossiped about each other and the Jonas Brothers.

            1860-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Vito Volterra,  Italian mathematician.  He developed a general theory of functionals – functionals is a branch of analysis which studies the properties of mappings of classes of functions from one topological vector space to another (glad we could clear that up!). Volterra strongly influenced modern calculus and analytical methods, and worked on integral equations, mathematical physics, and the mathematics of population change in biology. His most famous work was done on integral equations which, of course, are linked to functionals.  An integral equation is an equation in which an unknown function appears under an integral sign. Aha! You may shout.  That sounds like a differential equation. Yes, there is a close connection between differential and integral equations, and some problems may be formulated either way. Volterra was a professor at Pisa, Turin, and Rome. In 1931 he was fired from his chair (no, it’s not like being shot out of a cannon) at Rome for refusing to sign an oath of allegiance to the Fascist government, and he spent most of the rest of his life in exile.             

            1892 –Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, George Paget Thompson, son of  physicist John Joseph (J.J) Thompson who discovered the electron as a particle. George Thompson, also an English physicist,  followed in his father’s footsteps and followed electrons too.  He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1937 for demonstrating that electrons undergo diffraction, (sort of atomic puberty) a behavior peculiar to waves that is widely exploited in determining the atomic structure of solids and liquids.

            1902 –Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Albert Kastler, French physicist who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1966 for his discovery and development of methods for observing Hertzian resonances within atoms.  Hertzian resonances  are produced when produced when atoms interact with radio waves or microwaves. His method of stimulating atoms in a particular substance so that they attain higher energy states was called “optical pumping.”(he gave the atoms little tiny bar bells and they did curls and …………)  Since the light energy used to stimulate the atoms was reemitted, optical pumping marked an important step toward the development of the maser and the laser. A side effect was a breakout of an entertainment disease known as Shriekiustus Showofficum, in which singer thinks it is more important to lengthen notes showing off their vocal powers rather than just singing the song.

            1902-Saturday- Jockey James Winkfield, the last African American rider to win the Kentucky Derby, won his second consecutive Derby aboard Alan-a-Dale trained and owned by Thomas Clay MacDowell.

            1915 –Monday-  In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
                        Between the crosses row on row,
                        That mark our place; and in the sky
                       The larks, still bravely singing, fly
                        Scarce heard amid the guns below
The poem In Flanders Fields , possibly one of the most affecting poems ever composed, was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. It was written after the the terrible battle in the Ypres (Belgium) salient in the spring of 1915. In fact, it was very nearly not published. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915. John McCrae was a Canadian physician and fought on the Western Front in 1914, but was then transferred to the medical corps and assigned to a hospital in France. He died of pneumonia while on active duty in 1918. His volume of poetry, In Flanders Fields and Other Poems, was published in 1919.

1916-Wednesday- Irish nationalists Padraic Pearse , Thomas MacDonagh, James Connelly,  and Tom Clark were executed by the British for their roles in the Easter Rebellion.  They were among the seven signatories of the proclamation of Poblacht na hÉireann, or Irish Republic. They are buried together at Arbour Hill Cemetery in Dublin. The executions of  Pearse, Joseph Plunkett, a sick invalid who had married just hours before his execution, and James Connolly, who was unable to stand up in front of the firing squad due to his wounds and was shot while bound on a chair, disgusted Ireland. The summary trial and executions were not announced until after the executions had been carried out.

            1921-Tuesday-  The “eyes of Taxes are upon you.” West Virginia imposed the first state sales tax.  It was a gross sales tax but then most taxes are gross.  The tax went into effect on July 1 of the same year. Typical of state governments, the legislature did not take the time to figure out how to enforce or implement the system

            1933 –Wednesday-  Mrs. Nellie Ross assumed leadership of  the United States Mint. She was the first woman to be in charge. Earlier, less successful, versions of the U.S Mint included the U.S Chewing Gum, the U.S Tootsie Roll, U.S Good n’ Plenty, and the Perry Mason Mint. Ross oversaw the automation of many moneymaking procedures. She was also, just barely, the first woman governor of a state.  Her husband went kaput in 1922 with two years left in his term.  Nellie was elected in a special election.  At just about this same time, Miranda “Ma”  Ferguson was elected Governor of Texas on the same day, after her husband, Governor James Ferguson, had been impeached. The state laws were different and  Ross took office in Wyoming about two weeks before ”Ma” was sworn in as Governor of Texas

            1933 –Wednesday-  Actually two closely related singers share a birthday, “Godfather of Soul” James Brown born on the day and folk singer Pete Seeger born on this day in 1909- Monday.  It was Seeger who taught Brown to do splits and the bit with dropping the cape and being pulled back on stage when singing Please Please Please.  Brown taught Seeger how to play the guitar and helped with If I Had a Hammer. Brown also taught Seeger how to do splits and do the little “yips” so important to delivering a song’s message.

            1934 – Thursday- Big day for singers (see James Brown and Pete Seeger above) – Happy Birthday Francis Castelluccio, aka Frankie Valli, born in Newark, New Jersey, three octave falsetto lead singer of the Four Seasons.  Their first big hit in 1962 was Sherry, written by keyboardist and tenor Bob Gaudio with Valli’s  signature
 She - e - e-e-e-e-ry baby
She - e - rry, can you come out tonight
She - e - e-e-e-e-ry baby (Sherry Baby)
She - e - rry, can you come out tonight

            1942 –Sunday-  Only six months after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor came the beginning of the Battle of the Coral Sea, about five hundred miles from Australia, the first modern navel battle. It was fought exclusively with air attacks between aircraft carriers. Neither surface fleet sighted the other.  The battle would be waged from late May 3 – May 8.  The Japanese were preparing to invade New Guinea. After skirmishing for a few days, the Japanese and Allied fleets found each other on May 8 and each sent aircraft to attack the other.  Both air attacks occurred at about the same time approximately 200 miles apart with both sides suffering moderate losses.  The most significant Allied loss during the battle was the sinking of the American carrier, USS Lexington That evening, with the battle roughly a draw, both sides retreated but would meet again a month later at the decisive Battle of Midway, 3,000 miles away in the Hawaiian Islands. Although a draw, it stopped the string of Japanese victories.  It is also called the “battle that saved Australia”.

            1946 –Friday- In Europe it would be the Nuremberg Trials.  In the Pacific the Japanese war crimes trials began in Tokyo as the International Military Tribunals for the Far East began hearing the case against 28 Japanese military and government officials accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during World War II. The emperor, Hirohito's role in WW II  was supposedly not clear. He was generally seen as ineffectual, although there was some evidence offered in the 1990's that showed he was an active participant in the war planning. However, to maintain order in Japan, the Emperor was not indicted. Among the crimes for the accused were mass killings, human experimentation and biological warfare, use of chemical weapons,  preventable famine torture of POWs, cannibalism, forced labor, comfort women (forced prostitution) and looting.  On November 4, 1948, all of the defendants were found guilty. Seven were sentenced to death, sixteen to life terms, two to lesser terms, two had died during the trials and one had been found insane. On December 23, 1948, General Tojo and six others were hung at Sugamo prison.

            1952 –Saturday-   The Kentucky Derby was televised nationally  for the first time by CBS. It had been televised regionally by  local station WAVE in 1949.  The winner was Hill Gale, ridden by Eddie Arcaro with Sub Fleet 2nd and Blue Man 3rd.

             1952 –Saturday-  U.S. Air Force C-47 piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph O. Fletcher of Oklahoma and Lieutenant Colonel William P. Benedict of California became the first  to land an aircraft on the North Pole. Fletcher climbed out of the plane and walked to the exact geographic North Pole, probably the first person in history to do so. On April 6, 1909, Robert Perry, Mathew Henson and four Eskimos, Oatah, Egingwah, Seegloo, and Ookeah thought they reached the North Pole.  After congress settled a dispute with Frederick Cook, who claimed to have reached the Pole a year earlier, Perry and Henson were acknowledged as first to the Pole.  Unfortunately, they were a few miles off but no one quibbled and they traveled over land (ice).  Fletcher and Benedict flew and walked and then purchased t-shirts, refrigerator magnets, and shot glasses with their names on them at the North Pole Visitor’s Center.

            1957 –Friday  A dark day in New York baseball history as greedy Brooklyn Dodgers’ owner Walter O’Malley, given little choice by the short sighted administration, which refused to give him a stadium site in Brooklyn (they offered a site in  Queens) of the excruciatingly dull Mayor Robert Wagner, agreed to move the team from Flatbush to smoggy Los Angeles. To add insult to injury, O’Malley convinced addled NY Giants owner Horace Stoneham to move his team to San Francisco just to keep him company.  

            1960 – Tuesday- Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow.
…..The musical comedy The Fantasticks, a  variation on Romeo and Juliet by composer Harvey Schmidt and writer-lyricist Tom Jones (not the Tom Jones who sang It’s Not Unusual and had women’s underwear thrown at him) opened off-off-Broadway at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in New York's Greenwich Village. The show, became the longest-running musical of all time and is still running today. It starred  William Larsen, Kenneth Nelson, Harvey Schmidt, Tom Jones, Rita Gardner and Jerry Orbach who went on to star on Broadway, the movies and television - best known for his role as Detective Lennie Briscoe on TV's Law and Order . Orbach performed the musical’s signature song, Try to Remember.

            1962 –Thursday-  In a tragic “Keystone Cops” real life disaster, two commuter trains and a freight train collided near Tokyo, Japan. The freight train went through a red signal, causing it to jump the track and it collided with a commuter train. Most of the passengers survived this first collision. The survivors were able to get out of the train and escape down a 30-foot embankment adjacent to the rails. Minutes later, a second commuter train on the same line came down the tracks unaware of the crash ahead and crashed into the back of the first commuter train. This first commuter train was now pushed over and down the embankment right on top of the passengers who had escaped from it minutes earlier. More than 400 people were either killed or required hospitalization. The subsequent investigation into the accident resulted in the indictment of nine of the freight train’s crew members for criminal negligence.

            1964 –Sunday-  The “British Invasion” of singing groups started sending  the second string as Gerry & the Pacemakers made their U.S. television debut on CBS' Ed Sullivan Show. Also passing through customs were – The Dave Clark Five, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, The Searchers, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, and The Kinks. Soon to come would be the syrupy and painfully cute, Herman’s Hermits and  the ghastly Freddy and the Dreamers. On the waiting list were; Peter and Gordon, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, The Troggs, and Donovan and then, things got better……The Who

            1968-Thursday- Dr. Denton Cooley of the Texas Heart Institute performed the first successful heart transplant in the United States on Everett Thomas.  Thomas’ heart was damaged from rheumatic heart disease and the donor was a 15-year old girl. The patient lived for 204 days with the heart donated from the girl during which time he listened to Hannah Montana CDs, texted friends, chewed gum, and said “oh, my God” every fifteen seconds.

            1982-Monday The Weather Channel went on the air as the only 24 hr. all weather, cable network. Now we thrill to the site of people in parkas standing in snow storms and braving the winds of hurricanes as they tell us it is snowing and/or windy.

            1986 –Friday- A Delta rocket carrying a $57 million weather satellite exploded shortly after lift-off from Cape Canaveral. The was the first American attempt at a space launch since the Challenger tragedy of January 28. Apparently, two abnormal surges of power occurred in the electrical system of the rocket's main engine a split second before the spacecraft lost power after launching Saturday. The electrical system used in the rocket had not been modified since 1960, but the officials said there had been no previous reported cases of power surges. ''We feel this is quite a significant find,'' while whistling in the dark, said William Russell, the Delta project manager  for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The rocket failure had long term effects with the outbreak of the disease, Headgearius Interioritis,  which causes people to wear baseball caps when they are eating indoors at a restaurant.

            1991 –Friday Dallas kaput.  Not the city, not the Cowboys (too bad) but the kitschy television show. The last episode was aired on this day. After 357 episodes they were clearly running out of ideas and this final gem was part 2 of a rip off of It’s a Wonderful Life as J.R. continued his journey with Adam (Joel Grey – no, he didn’t break into song with Cabaret) , seeing how the Ewing family would have evolved if he'd never existed. By this time only Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Ken Kerchival were left and they were barely going through the motions.

            2000 –Wednesday-  Did you know about Geocaching? The sport of geocaching began, with the first cache placed and the coordinates from a GPS posted on Usenet. Geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure…….sort of like the government and your money.  A geocacher can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS unit can then try to locate the geocache. The word Geocaching refers to GEO for geography, and to CACHING, the process of hiding a cache. A cache in computer terms is information usually stored in memory to make it faster to retrieve, but the term is also used in hiking/camping as a hiding place for concealing and preserving provisions. Of course if it were hidden in Alaska you might cache a cold.

            2003 –Saturday- I just looked around and he was gone….Dion…. The Old Man of the Mountain in New Hampshire went kaput. The “Old Man” was a rock formation on the side of a cliff that in profile looked like, well, yes, and old man.  The two previous days were cloudy and when the clouds cleared on this day, poof!, it was gone, specifically the forehead and the nose.  Now it looks a bit like Joan Rivers.  It was located in Franconia Notch State Park.

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It's National Teachers Day!  Behave Yourselves!!!

            The origins of National Teacher Day are murky but they probably have something to do with coverages. Around 1944 Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge began corresponding with political and education leaders about the need for a national day to honor teachers. Woodbridge wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt, who in 1953 persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day. The NEA, lobbied Congress to create a national day celebrating teachers. Congress declared March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day for that year only.  Then in 1985 the National PTA established Teacher Appreciation Week as the first full week of May. The NEA Representative Assembly then voted to make the Tuesday of that week National Teachers Day.

            1471 Thursday- Probably the climactic battle in the War of the Roses, the Battle of Tewkesbury as the Yorkist army led by  King Edward IV rumbled with the  Lancastrian forces led by the Duke of Somerset on behalf of Queen Margaret, wife of  the fuddlebrained and occasionally sane former King Henry VI.  When the dust settled, the Lancastrians had lost (slewen, kaputed) Prince Edward, the last legitimate descendant of Henry IV. Somerset and his principle aides were tried and executed, perhaps after being taken from sanctuary in Tewkesbury Abbey. Queen Margaret heard the news of her son's death and the disaster on the battlefield at Payne's Place, across the Severn. She fled, but was captured and brought before Edward IV at Coventry. She remained a prisoner for four years until ransomed by Louis of France. Edward's comprehensive victory at Tewkesbury ended the voices of opposition - at least for a time and for the next 12 years Edward ruled in (relative) peace.  Although we note that one of the Lancastrian commanders was Jasper Tudor, whose nephew, Henry would defeat Edward’s brother King Richard at Bosworth in 1485.

            1493-Thursday-  Pope Alexander VI – the “Borgia Pope, father of Cesare and Lucretia) defined the spheres of Spanish and Portuguese possessions in the New World by drawing the Line of Demarcation. Portuguese and Spanish explorers had been merrily sailing all over the place and claiming the lands for their respective monarchs. This settled who owned what even though the inhabitants of the territories involved did not know they were “owned”.  Portugal was assigned Brazil, the west and east coasts of Africa, the southern and eastern shores of Asia, and the East Indies. Spain was assigned the Americas, the Philippines, the lands encountered by or to be encountered by Columbus, and a beach front tract in Atlantic City.

            1494 –Friday-  On his second voyage to the Americas, Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Jamaica and claimed it for Spain. He spent some  time at Montego Bay and participated in a volley ball tournament.  Later, he and his crew enjoyed Ocho Rios and the swimming pool with the floating bar before going to a Ziggy Marley concert and having a few tokes.

            1626 -Monday Dutch explorer Peter Minuit landed on what is now Manhattan. He was sent by the Dutch East India Company looking for condos in Trump Tower, the free admission day at MOMA, and a spot at the front of the ½ price Broadway Show ticket line.  Minuit is famous for buying the island of Manhattan (in what is now New York) from Native Americans with trinkets valued at about $24. He tried to get tickets to Phantom of the Opera for the same trinkets but ended up with Manhattan instead.  He founded New Amsterdam on the southern tip of the island.  The Manhattan of 1626 was just a tad different from today’s Manhattan.  It was full of wildlife (well, today’s Manhattan is full of wildlife too – most of it on two legs). Wild roses grew there. The fragrance of flowers drifted far out to sea.  Now the fragrance of garbage, and the garbage drifts far out to sea.  The oysters were huge, 12 inches (as Jonathan Swift said “twas a brave man that first ate an oyster”); there were giant lobsters, six feet across and so many fish in the streams (yes, it had streams) they could be caught by hand. There were also flocks of wild swans and blackbirds.  The trains ran on time, there was no traffic gridlock at the lighting of the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, the City Council was honest, and Rudy Giuliani was still married to his first wife.

            1655-Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Bartolomeo Cristofori of Padua, Italy. Cristofori was an Italian harpsichord maker who is credited with the invention of the piano. The piano first known as the pianoforte was developed from the harpsichord around 1720.  Three of Cristofori's pianos survive to this day.  One is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City a second at the Museo Strumenti Musicali in Rome and the third is at the Musikinstrumenten-Museum of Leipzig University. The Metropolitan's Cristofori, the oldest surviving piano, outwardly resembles a harpsichord. It has a single keyboard and no special stops, in much the same style as Italian harpsichords of the day. It has 54 keys, and thinner strings and hammers than today's pianos so it sounds more like a harpsichord than a piano, except for when Jerry Lee Lewis played it with his feet during a performance of Great Balls of Fire.

            1733 –Monday- Happy Birthday, Jean-Charles de Borda, (when he went to school it was the Borda Education) French mathematician and nautical astronomer who made good use of the differential calculus and of experimental methods to unify areas of physics for his studies of fluid mechanics and his development of instruments for navigation and geodesy, the study of the size and shape of the Earth. One of his instruments, the Borda repeating circle, was used during the time of the French Revolution to measure an arc of a meridian as part of a project to introduce the decimal system. This instrument was proposed by Borda around 1785 and it had developed from instruments designed for use on ships.

            1776-Saturday- Rhode Island declared its freedom from England, the first colony to do so, two months before the Declaration of Independence was adopted. But of course Rhode Island is so small that no one noticed. In fact, when notified of the declaration the entire government of William Pitt the Younger repaired to the map for a look  and they couldn’t find the place so they didn’t know where to send troops.

            1796-Wednesday-  Happy Birthday, Horace Mann, American educator and philanthropist. He was elected to act as Secretary of the newly-created Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837 and used his position to enact major educational reform. He spearheaded the Common School Movement, ensuring that every child could receive a basic education funded by local taxes. He placed a major emphasis on “moral training”, standardization and classroom drill……..all (particularly the first) have faded from today’s classrooms.

            1825-Wednesday-  Happy Birthday, Thomas H. Huxley, English biologist who made his reputation as a marine biologist while working as a ship's surgeon. He is best known today as the main advocate of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution as he did more than anyone else to advance its acceptance among scientists and the public alike. Huxley coined the word “agnostic” to describe his own beliefs.  He is best known for his famous debate in June 1860, at the British Association meeting at Oxford. His opponent, Archbishop Samuel Wilberforce, was, not-so-affectionately known as "Soapy Sam" for his renowned slipperiness in debate. Wilberforce was coached against Huxley by the odious Richard Owen of  stolen credit for dinosaur fame. During the debate, Archbishop Wilberforce ridiculed evolution and asked Huxley whether he was descended from an ape on his grandmother's side or his grandfather's. Accounts vary as to exactly what happened next, but according to one telling of the story, Huxley muttered "The Lord hath delivered him into my hands," and then rose to give a brilliant defense of Darwin's theory, concluding with the rejoinder, "I would rather be the offspring of two apes than be a man and afraid to face the truth."

            1854-Thursday-  Asa Fitch became the first state entomologist in the U.S. when he was appointed in New York State by the executive committee of the N.Y. State Agricultural Society.  He had been bugging them about this for years! He was “fitch”  to be tied.

           1869 –Tuesday-  "Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."
…..Jack Norworth…..The first professional baseball game.  The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first professional baseball team. They began with a close pitchers duel, a 45-9 crushing of a team called the Great Western of Cincinnati.  They then proceeded to win nearly every one of their more than seventy games against overmatched amateur teams in the Midwest. The Red Stockings finally lost a game in 1870, when the Brooklyn Atlantics beat them 8-7 in extra innings. Alexander Joy Cartwright  of New York had invented the modern baseball field in 1845. Cartwright and the members of his New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, devised the first rules and regulations for the modern game of baseball.  The first recorded baseball game in 1846 when Alexander Cartwright's Knickerbockers lost to the New York Baseball Club. The game was held at the Elysian Fields, in Hoboken, New Jersey.

            1886 –Tuesday-  At Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois, a bomb was thrown at a squad of policemen attempting to break up a labor rally. On May 1, the workers at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. in Chicago began a strike in the hope of gaining a shorter work day. On May 3, police were used to protect strikebreakers and a scuffle broke out; one person was killed and several others injured. On this day immigrant German anarchists stirred the pot with a rally to protest alleged police brutality. About 1,500 people showed up at Haymarket Square, (not quite the 20,000 predicted by rally leaders). When the police sent units into the crowd to force it to disperse, a pipe bomb was thrown into the police ranks; the explosion killed seven policemen and injured more than 60 others. The police fired into the crowd of workers, killing four.       

            1886 Tuesday-  Chichester Bell (cousin of Alexander Graham Bell) and Charles S. Tainter using prize money they were awarded by the Volta Laboratory Association to develop an improved phonograph called the graphophone. On this day they received a patent for the gramophone. It was the first practical phonograph. Thomas Edison had used tinfoil as the recording medium for his first phonograph in 1877.  Chichester Bell and Tainter saw the tinfoil as a major obstacle in any further development of the instrument, and after much experimenting came upon the idea of replacing the fragile tinfoil with a wax compound onto which they could engrave the sound waves directly. This portentous technological breakthrough made such cultural musical highlights as the recording of Lady Gaga’s interpretation of Chopin’s Andante spianato et Grande Polonaise in E-flat major (Op. 22), possible.

            1910 –Wednesday-  Having finally built a ship, the Royal Canadian Navy was created.

             1922-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Dr. Eugenie Clark, American biologist and ichthyologist, born in New York City. Dr. Clark studied  behavior of sharks for decades and after all that she still had  both arms, both legs, all her fingers and all her toes. How did she get started? We’ll cite the source so you don’t think we made it up (we never make anything up) Clark's interest in fish began at the age of nine when her mother took her to visit an aquarium.  She became fascinated by the fish she saw, especially the shark, and was soon going back every week.  This fascination was fostered by her mother, who bought her a small tank of guppies. 

            1926-Tuesday- Happy Birthday, David Allan Bromley, Canadian-American nuclear physicist who was considered the "father of modern heavy ion science" (we note the Gnus continuing fascination with “fathers of……..see our Who’s Your Daddy page- ) for his experiments on both the structure and dynamics of atomic nuclei. Speaking of heavy ions, the Gnus has long been concerned with obesity in ions and believes that diet and exercise may be a valuable treatment.  A heavy ion is the nucleus of a heavy element. When such nuclei are caused to collide at high velocities, new elements are created. Bromley was nationally known as the most influential science adviser in U.S. history as the architect (1989–93) of President George H.W. Bush’s science and technology policy. He was an early advocate of the so-called data superhighway (the Internet) and was instrumental in securing funds for scientific research

            1929-Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Audrey Hepburn, perpetually waif-like actress born near Brussels, Belgium.  Hepburn was known for her beauty, elegance, and grace. Often imitated, she is still one of Hollywood’s greatest style icons.  In 1954, she won Best Actress Academy Award for Roman Holiday. Her filmography includes; Sabrina, Funny Face, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, My Fair Lady, and Wait Until Dark.

            1932 –Wednesday-  Chicago gangster Al Capone was sentenced to eleven years in prison.  Murder? Robbery? Inspiring generations of bad actors to play him in the movies? No.  It  was income tax evasion.  “Big Al” had neglected to pay it. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Illness got him released on parole in 1939 so he never served out his prison term (which, happily for tourism, included a stay at Alcatraz). He developed a horrible case of syphilis and died a drooling broken man in 1947.

            1956 –Friday- Gene Vincent and his group, The Blue Caps, went into the echo chamber and recorded his biggest hit, the erudite yet abstruce, Be-Bop-A Lula.
Well, be-bop-a-lula, she's my baby
Be-bop-a-lula, I don't mean maybe
Be-bop-a-lula, she's my baby
Be-bop-a-lula, I don't mean maybe
Be-bop-a-lula, she's my baby love
My baby love, my baby love             

            1957 –Saturday-  Alan Freed's Rock 'n' Roll Revue TV show premiered 7:30  on ABC.  Many believe Freed gave Rock n Roll its name. The show starred  the Dell-Vikings, Come Go With Me- the Clovers, Devil or Angel - Guy Mitchell, Singin’ the Blues -  Sal Mineo, actor trying to be a singer, and "Screamin'" Jay Hawkins, I’ve Put a Spell on You.

            1959 –Monday- Volare, oh oh,
cantare, oh oh oh oh.
Nel blu dipinto di blu,
felice di stare lassu`.
E volavo volavo felice
piu` in alto del sole ed ancora piu` su
mentre il mondo pian
piano spariva
lontano laggiu`.
Una musica dolce suonava soltanto per me. ……….The winners of the first annual Grammy Awards (grammy is short for gramophone, patented on this day in 1886) –recognizing songs from 1958- were announced. Among the winners were: Record of the Year Domenico Modugno for Nel Blue Dipinto di Blu (Volare) Album of the Year Henry Mancini for The Music from Peter Gunn, Song of the Year Domenico Modugno for Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)” Best Rhythm & Blues Performance The Champs for Tequila, Best Comedy Performance Ross Bagdasarian (David Seville)  for The Chipmunk Song, performed by Ross Bagdasarian. as David Seville and the Chipmunks. Lest we be confused, frequently the 1959 awards are mixed up with the 1960 awards – songs from 1959- which featured, Record of the Year: Mack the Knife - Bobby Darin, Album of the Year: Come Dance With Me - Frank Sinatra, Song of the Year: The Battle of New Orleans and Best Artist of 1959: Bobby Darin

            1970 –Monday-  Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
-Neil Young.  Four unarmed Kent St. students were killed by National Guard fire during anti-Vietnam War demonstrations.  Shortly after noon on that Monday, 13 seconds of rifle fire by a contingent of 28 Ohio National Guardsmen left four students dead, one permanently paralyzed, and eight others wounded.

            1973-Friday- The Sears Tower at 233 S. Wacker claimed, for a while, the honor of world’s tallest building.  It was the first building over 1,400-ft  and topped out at 1,454-ft. It took 3 years to build, and is 1,707-ft tall including its antennas. We note that the Empire State Building of New York City which had been dedicated on May 1 1931. See May 1 for tallest buildings. On July 10, 1997, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat met in Chicago to announce new standards with four categories for measuring tall buildings. These categories are: 1. Height to the structural or architectural top. 2. Height to the highest occupied floor. 3. Height to the top of the roof. 4.  Height to the top of antenna. Another category “so high it looks like it reaches the sky” was rejected. In 2009 a company called Willis Group Holdings, a London-based insurance broker, announced that it had bought most of the office space in the tower as part of the deal, get to put its own name on the skyscraper. Oh that worked well. It was Sears Tower for thirty six years. It will always be Sears Tower. Besides, Willis Tower is a narish name.

            1989-Thursday-   The space probe Magellan was carried in the cargo bay by the STS-30 Space Shuttle Atlantis mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The space probe was named after the 16th-century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who was slewn in the Philippines. This was the first planetary spacecraft to be released from a shuttle in Earth orbit and it arrived at Venus ten months later. Taking the “great circle route”, Magellan looped around the Sun one-and-a-half times before arriving at Venus on August 10, 1990. A solid-fuel motor on the spacecraft then fired, placing Magellan into a near-polar elliptical orbit around Venus. The highly successful imaging radar mapped more than 98 percent of the planet's surface and collected high-resolution gravity data of Venus. It also found life on Venus that turned out to be Hungarian actress, and serial bride, Zsa Zsa Gabor and a band of Amazon women, thus proving the movie Queen of Outer Space made in 1958, was in fact a documentary.

          1990-Friday-  Jesse Tafero, convicted rapist, drug dealer and murderer was executed via electric chair in Florida for the murders of Florida Highway Patrol officer Phillip Black and Donald Irwin, a visiting Canadian constable and friend of Black. Took a while to get rid of Jesse as the electric chair malfunctioned three times, causing flames to leap from his head.

        2000-Thursday- Another reminder about playing with fire as The National Park Service started a "prescribed burn" in New Mexico. The prescribed burn would have died out on its own had it been left to burn. Instead, inspectors said, it was a backfire set by firefighters that erupted into an out-of-control forest fire which  eventually which devoured 50,000 acres, destroyed 400 homes, and came within 300 yards of a plutonium storage facility at Los Alamos.  

            2002 –Saturday-  An EAS Airline plane crashed into the town of Kano, Nigeria, killing 148 people. The Nigerian BAC 1-11-500 aircraft exploded in a densely populated section of the northern Nigerian city. The cause of the crash was never determined.

                 2003 –Sunday-  A "pain in the ass" - the first cloned equine, a mule foal was “born”  at the University of Idaho.  Named Idaho Gem, researchers cloned the mule using a cell from a mule fetus (fetal attraction) and an egg from a horse. Mules are almost always sterile because donkeys have 62 chromosomes, horses have 64 and mules end up with 63.  An unexpected side effect occurred as the after birth congealed and developed a life of it’s own eventually morphing into one of those “news babes” the hot, yet chronically clueless, young women who read the news on cable television.

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Look for the Eta Aquarid meteor shower – remnants of Halley’s Comet- tonight.

            1260 –Wednesday-  Kublai Khan became the ruler of the Mongol Empire. Kublai Khan was grandson of the conqueror Genghis Khan. (Remember the famous cheer “ Ghengis Ghengis he’s our Mhan.  If he can’t do it, Kublai Khan”…).  Kublai was acclaimed "Great Khan" in the North in 1260 but his younger brother, Ariq Böge, disputed the election and proclaimed himself khan at Karakorum, Mongolia. In the following years Kublai fought his brother, defeating him in 1264. He developed a new type of control (different from the brutal subjugation preferred by many of his predecessors) by adapting  Mongols adopted divide-and-rule tactics. The Mongols and central Asians remained separate from Chinese life; in many ways life for the Chinese was left basically unchanged. Kublai was also well known for his acceptance of different religions. The rule of the Mongol minority was assured by dividing the population of China into four social classes: the Mongols; the central Asians; the northern Chinese and Koreans; and the southern Chinese. He showed tolerance towards the religions of his new subjects and because of his leniency, a relationship formed between him and the people. Along with providing religious freedom, he created aid agencies, increased the use of postal stations, established paper currency, reorganized and improved roads, and expanded waterways. Under his rule, the winter capitol was moved from Mongolian territory to the Chinese City of Dadu, which is modern day Beijing. He established the summer capitol in Shangdu, which was referred to as Xanadu.

(In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree :

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.)- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In 1275, Marco Polo, visited Xanadu and a relationship based on trust was formed between Polo and the Khan. Polo’s reports on Xanadu and China were new to Western Europeans and sparked trade with the eastern world.

            1640Saturday-  King Charles I of England dissolved the Short Parliament. This was mainly because he couldn’t find them.  They were all under five ft. tall and were lost amidst the benches and desks.  Actually,  it was the fourth Parliament of King Charles I's reign was called during the crisis brought about by the Bishops' Wars against Scotland. Note – they were always warring against Scotland.  Lasting only three weeks it was the first Parliament to be called in eleven years and was the beginning of the end of the King's Personal Rule.  Of  course a week after the Short Parliament ended, the Long Parliament (they certainly had a way with words in 17th century England) would begin. That one would last until 1660. Charles would be kaputed via beheading in 1849.

            1809-Friday- The first U.S. patent granted to a woman was issued to Mary Kies for "a new and useful improvement in weaving straw with silk or thread." Unfortunately, the patent file was destroyed in the great Patent Office fire in 1836. Until about 1840, only 20 other patents were issued to women. The inventions related to apparel, tools, cook stoves, and fire places. For you patently patent fans out there, since 1848, the U.S patent office issues its patents on Tuesdays so be patient while waiting to file your patent.

            1813 –Wednesday-  Happy Birthday, Soren Kierkegaard, Danish religious philosopher.  He is known as the "father of existentialism", the philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts. Existentialism is derived from Hegalian Absolutism – but then you knew that- actually Kierkegaard’s criticism of Hegal and the German Romantics. An existentialist question was posed to three men."When you are in your casket and friends, family and congregates are mourning over you, what would you like to hear them say?" The first said: "I would like to hear them say that I was a wonderful husband, a fine spiritual leader, and a great family man." The second said: "I would like to hear them say that I was a wonderful teacher and a servant of God who made a huge difference in people's lives." The 3rd  said: "I would like to hear them say, 'Look , he's moving.'"

            1818 –Tuesday- Speaking of philosophy (See Kierkegaard above) Happy Birthday, political philosopher Karl Marx, born in Prussia.  Author of many notably dense political tracts, rarely read but frequently discussed, he is perhaps most famous for his co-authorship, with Friedrich Engels of the Communist Manifesto and of Das Kapital.   Although he was largely ignored by scholars in his own lifetime, his social, economic and political ideas gained rapid acceptance in the socialist movement after his kapution in 1883. Interestingly he started out as a follower of Georg Wilhelm Hegal who’s beliefs worked Kierkegaard into such a lather.

            1820 -Friday Happy Birthday Elkanah Billings, the Canadian geologist and paleontologist, who was actually the first Canadian paleontologist.  He began publishing his own magazine—The Canadian Naturalist and Geologist and Sir William E. Logan, Director of the Geological Survey of the United Provinces of Canada, recognized the quality of Billings’ work and made him the first paleontologist of the Survey.  Billings went on to identify 526 new species of Paleozoic invertebrates including Nancy Pelosi, Regis Philbin, Kirk Douglas, Whoopie Goldberg and  Silvio Berlusconi.

            1821 –Saturday- Emperor Napoleon kaput. Napoleon died in exile on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.  The Emperor had been sent there following his defeat at Waterloo in 1815. An autopsy at the time determined that stomach cancer was the cause of his death. But some arsenic found in 1961 in the general’s hair sparked rumors of poisoning. Another theory centered on watching too many reruns of The View. While alive, Napoleon was a threat to escape exile. He could have changed the balance of power in Europe; therefore murder speculations didn’t seem too far fetched. A study released in 200 , combining current medical knowledge, autopsy reports, Bonaparte’s physician memoirs, eyewitness accounts, and family medical histories — found that gastrointestinal bleeding was the immediate cause of death.  The bleeding was caused by cancerous lesions.  Yes, Napoleon had joined the “French Foreign Lesion.”

            1861-Sunday-  Happy Birthday, Peter Cooper-Hewitt, American electrical engineer who invented the mercury-vapor lamp, a major step in electrical lighting. He was experimenting with electric conductivity and he was able to prove that a gas can conduct an electrical charge. By doing this, Cooper-Hewitt was able to pass an electric current through mercury gas sealed in a quartz tube. He also unveiled America’s first steam locomotive, known as the Tom Thumb in 1825.  Attention jello fans, Cooper –Hewitt obtained the very first American patent for the manufacture of gelatin His grandfather was the famous Peter Cooper, who founded and endowed the Cooper Institute in New York City and his father was one of the most aggressive mayors New York City ever had and also made a notable record as a member of Congress

            1862-Monday- Cinco de Mayo – It has nothing to do with the five original varieties of Hellman’s.  It is not Mexico’s Independence Day (that’s September 16). The holiday of Cinco De Mayo, The 5th Of May, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. It is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla and throughout the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico, and especially in U.S. cities with a significant Mexican population. Lead by Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, a smaller, poorly armed militia estimated at 4,500 men were able to stop and defeat a well outfitted French army of 6,500 soldiers, (but then everyone defeats French armies) which temporarily stopped the invasion of the country. The victory was a glorious moment for Mexican patriots. Unfortunately, the victory was short lived. Upon hearing the news of the defeat, French leader Napoleon III sent 30,000 more troops and a full year later, the French were eventually able to depose the Mexican army, take over Mexico City and install the conspicuously inept Maximilian as the ruler of Mexico. Maximillian would be kaputed in 1867.

             1864 –Thursday-  One year after the Battle of Chancellorsville, the forces of Generals Grant and Lee began their maneuvering towards Richmond with the Battle of the Wilderness.  The woods were so thick that entire units were lost.  In fact, Union soldiers came upon the bodies of Union soldiers killed at Chancellorsville that had been unearthed during spring rains.  The victory went to Lee but it was pyrrhic.  Unlike previous Union commanders, Grant would not retreat.  The armies clashed again at Spotsylvania, and again at Cold Harbor.  Each a Confederate victory and each resulting in irreplaceable Confederate losses during Grant’s relentless march towards Richmond.

            1867-Sunday- Happy Birthday, Nelly Bly, born Elizabeth Cochrane in Cochran Mills, Pennsylvania.  In 1887 Bly was recruited by Joseph Pulitzer to write for his newspaper, the New York World. Over the next few years she pioneered the idea of investigative journalism by writing articles about poverty, housing and labor conditions (an unending supply of subject matter even today) in New York. After reading Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, Bly suggested to Pulitzer that the newspaper should finance an attempt to break the record illustrated in the book. He liked the idea and used Bly's journey to publicize the New York World. The newspaper held a competition which involved guessing the time it would take Bly to circle the globe. Over 1,000,000 people entered the contest and when she arrived back in New York on January 25, 1890, she was met by a huge crowd to see her break the record  in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds- which beat the imaginary record of Verne’s fictional  Phineas Phogg by almost 8 days. She is also remembered in the famous song from the movie Casablanca, As Time Goes Bly

            1874-Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Frank Conrad, He began what are considered to be the first regular radio broadcasts from his Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania garage in 1920, and is responsible for the founding of the first licensed broadcast station in the world: KDKA. Conrad worked for Westinghouse for 51 years during which  time he received over two hundred American, English, and German patents on mechanical and electrical devices such as refrigerators, carburetors, radio transmitters and receivers, televisions, clocks, arc lamps, gear shifts, air conditioners, insulators, vacuum tubes, and electric meters- Mr. Conrad was a busy man!  He is probably beloved by all of you as the inventor of the round type electric meter now in general use – you know, the one that is spinning madly, running up your electric bill every time you look at it.

            1881-Thursday- Louis Pasteur tested inoculations against anthrax upon an ox, several cows 25 sheep, 3 french hens, 2 turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree. His experiment proved successful, and was a milestone in the treatment of disease.

            1891-Tuesday-  Carnegie Hall (then named Music Hall) opened in New York City. Financed by Andrew Carnegie, the opening night headliner was the great composer and conductor, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky with Jimi Hendrix sitting in on guitar, Elton John on piano, and “special guest appearance” by Pat Boone singing April Love and Speedy Gonzalez. Actually, The first performer at Carnegie Hall was a pianist named Franz Rummel. He was a well known artist but just an average performer with average talent thus he did not perform on opening night. He played one month before opening night in the basement hall.

            1904 Pitching against the Philadelphia Athletics at the Huntington Avenue Grounds,  Denton True “Cy”  Young of the Boston Americans pitched  the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball, 3-0.  The losing pitcher was Hall of Famer Rube Waddell. The Athletics’ shortstop was one of Professor Sy Yentz’ favorite baseball names Ossee Schreckengost

            1925-Tuesday- John T. Scopes was taken under arrest for violating a new state law against the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution in a Tennessee public school. He was found guilty at what became known as the Scope's "Monkey Trial" the following month, and fined $100. He was also accused of "monkeying" around with the curriculum and this caused some state legislators to go bananas.  Although upon appeal the fine was ruled excessive and over-ruled, the state law itself was not found unconstitutional and the government of Tennessee could go back to their research on how to invent the wheel.

           1930-Monday- Twenty seven year old, Amy Johnson left Croydon, England  on the first solo flight by a woman between England and Australia, a distance of 11,000 miles. She flew a single-engine De Havilland Gipsy Moth named Jason, and landed in Darwin, Australia on  May 24 just in time to “throw another shrimp on the Barbie”. She had learned to fly only a year before.  Her first important achievement, after flying solo, was to qualify as the first British-trained woman ground engineer. For awhile she was the only woman Ground Engineer in the world.

             1936-Tuesday- A patent (remember….since 1848 patents are issued on Tuesdays) was issued for the first bottle with a screw cap and a pour lip to Edward A. Ravenscroft, Glencoe, Illinois This replaced his earlier, less successful, occasionally messy model which featured a pour cap and a screw lip.

            1945 –Saturday- The only known American deaths in the continental United States during World War II occurred in Lakeview, Oregon as Mrs. Elsie Mitchell and five neighborhood children were killed while attempting to drag a Japanese balloon out the woods. Unbeknownst to Mitchell and the children, the “balloon”  was explosive and armed, and it blew up soon after they began tampering with it.  Killed in the explosion were: Sherman Shoemaker, 12; Jay Gifford, 12; Edward Engen, 13; Joan Patzke, 11; Richard Patzke, 13; and Elsie Mitchell, 26.

            1951 –Saturday-  In honor of the birthday of Karl Marx we note The premiere of I Was a Communist for the FBI.  Released at the height of the “red scare”, with the tag lineI had to sell out my own girl -- so would you!”, as the The FBI infiltrates one of their agents in the US Communist Party and get this………..not even his family knows he’s not a Communist.  Whew! Directed by Gordon Douglas, it starred Frank Lovejoy, Dorothy Hart, Philip Carey, and Paul Picerni who would go onto a supporting role in television’s The Untouchables.

            1955 –Thursday-  The musical Damn Yankees opened at the 46th St. Theater onBroadway. Based on the book by Douglass Wallop, The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, the lyrics and music were by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, and it was staged by George Abbott. The Faustian story line (selling soul for success) starred Stephen Douglass as Joe Hardy of the Washington Senators, Gwen Verdon as Lola (Whatever Lola Wants)and Ray Walston in the Mephistophelian role of Applegate. Damn Yankees stayed on Broadway for over a thousand performances

             1961-Friday Mercury 3 carried Alan Shepard reasonably close to being in space during a suborbital flight of 115 miles that lasted 15 minutes.  We Americans were told he went to space and coming shortly after the shock - less than a month -after of the Russians being first into space - Yuri Gagarin – we, in the “Free World” celebrated this as a major accomplishment.  The space craft name Freedom Seven was Shepard's choice. "Freedom" because it was patriotic and "Seven" because it was the seventh Mercury capsule produced. It also represented the seven Mercury astronauts. Shepard did not orbit the Earth, and the flight lasted only 15 minutes and 28 seconds (about how long it takes to get through security at Newark Airport on a good day). Freedom 7 reached an altitude of 116.5 statue miles and flew a distance of 303 statute miles. NASA had hoped to launch the mission earlier, even as early as December 1960, but several different issues, both technical and weather, delayed the flight. During his flight, Shepard took manual control of the spacecraft and tested its flight capabilities. Shepard reported the spacecraft handled and responded well although he experienced some difficulty in parallel parking.

             1963-Sunday-  The world's first human liver transplant was performed in America by Dr. Thomas E. Starlz at a Denver, Col., hospital. His patient, a 48-year-old man, survived for 22 days. This liver transplant was more successful than the cheaper, cost saving liverwurst transplant (performed at the counter of a New York delicatessen) in which the liver was replaced by slices of liverwurst (mustard-no mayo....although today is Cinqo de Mayo). He had also performed the world's first spleen transplant four months earlier in the same year.   This did, however allow the patient to "vent his spleen" at a later date.

          1968 – For What It’s Worth,  The feudin’  and a fightin’ Buffalo Springfield disbanded after one last concert at Long Beach, California. The seminal rock group had only formed in 1966, with Dewey Martin, left, Richie Furay, Stephen Stills (having been rejected in his audition for the Monkees) , Bruce Palmer and Neil Young. Although the band lasted only a couple of years, its influence is still felt today. Jim Messina replaced Palmer in 1968 just in time for the break up.

            1981 - Irish Republican Army hunger-striker Bobby Sands died at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. It was his 66th day without food.  The 27-year-old republican spent the last days of his life on a water bed to protect his fragile bones. He had been in a coma for 48 hours before being pronounced dead by medical staff at the Maze prison in Northern Ireland. Sands, who had served five years of a 14-year sentence for possessing a gun, began his hunger strike on 1 March.  He was making five main demands: that republican prisoners be allowed to wear their own clothes, that they be given free association time, visits and mail, that they should not to have to carry out penal work and should be given back lost remission.

            1986 – After assurances that the Cuyahoga River would no longer catch fire, Cleveland was named as the site for the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame Museum. The idea had originated in 1983.  It would finally open in September 1995.  The first inductees were performers Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard. Early influences Robert Johnson, Jimmie Rodgers, and Jimmy Yancey. Lifetime Achiever John Hammond. Non-performers Alan Freed and Sam Phillips. It was Freed, a disc jockey from Cleveland who probably coined the phrase “Rock n Roll”. Why Cleveland?  Good question. Cleveland ended up being chosen, most industry professionals agreed that it is because the city offered the best financial package. As the Cleveland  Plain Dealer music critic Michael Norman noted, "It wasn't Alan Freed. It was $65 million...,8816,134633,00.html

            1994 –Monday-  American brat, eighteen year old Michael Fay was caned in Singapore for vandalism. He received four lashes. After pleading guilty to vandalism charges which involved spray painting several cars, throwing eggs at cars and switching license plates, he was sentenced March 3 to four months in jail, a $2,200 fine -- and six strokes of the cane, later reduced to four.

              2000 –Friday-  A conjunction of the five "naked eye" planets -  Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn - formed a rough line across the sky with the Sun and Moon. Unfortunately, nothing was visible from the Earth, because the line of planets was behind the Sun. Such a conjunction last happened in Feb 1962 and will not happen again until Apr mark your calendars because maybe it won't be behind the sun next time and to paraphrase the words of the great Shorty Long it’ll be a Function at the Conjunction

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1536 –Wednesday- King Henry VIII ordered English language Bibles be placed in every church (and every hotel room too although he drew the line at also placing Conrad Hilton’s biography in them too). Henry had been suppressing Protestant bibles for years. It wasn’t a  change of conscience though. Besotted by young hottie Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII had requested that the Pope permit him to divorce his wife (Catherine of Aragon)  and marry his mistress. The Pope refused. Always one for a calm, thoughtful response, Henry responded by getting her pregnant, marrying Anne anyway, thumbing his nose at the Pope by renouncing Roman Catholicism, taking England out from under Rome’s religious control, and declaring himself as the reigning head of State to also be the new head of the Church. His first act was to further defy the wishes of Rome by funding the printing of the scriptures in English… the first legal English Bible… just for spite.

     1742-Sunday-  Happy Birthday, Jean Senebier, Swiss pastor, naturalist and botanist who’s experiments showed  that green plants consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen under the influence of light. In 1782 he first demonstrated the basic principle of photosynthesis, which he published in Physiologie végétale in 1800 – the centerfold was an airbrushed philodendron.  Though Marcello Malpighi and Stephen Hales had shown that a great part of the mass of plants must be obtained from the atmosphere, it was Charles Bonnet (while wearing his  Easter Bonnett) who observed the effects on leaves plunged in aerated water, bubbles of gas, which Joseph Priestley recognized as oxygen. While bubbling over with enthusiasm, it was Senebier who demonstrated that that this process was confined to the green parts, and to these only in sunlight, and first gave a connected view of the whole process of vegetable nutrition in strictly chemical terms.  He was ultimately sued by the American Civil Liberties Union in a class action on behalf of the plant’s non-green parts and those not in sunlight.

           1758 –Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Maximilien Robespierre, French Jacobin leader, principal figure in the French Revolution and the “Reign of Terror” during which thousands were guillotined. After the downfall of the monarchy in August 1792, Robespierre was elected first deputy for Paris to the National Convention. The convention abolished the monarchy, declared France a republic and put the king on trial for treason, all measures strongly supported by Robespierre. The country had a monarcharectomy as king was kaputed in January 1793. Control of the country passed to the Committee of Public Safety, of which Robespierre was a member. He rapidly became the dominant force on the committee. The committee began the 'Reign of Terror', ruthlessly eliminating all those considered enemies of the revolution. These included leading revolutionary figures such as Georges Danton and Camille Desmoulins. Need we remind you that all were lawyers. In May 1794, Robespierre insisted that the National Convention proclaim a new official religion for France - the cult of the Supreme Being. Notre Dame was changed into the Temple of Reason. The “Reign of Terror’ and Robespierre's autocracy made him increasingly unpopular. and a conspiracy was formed to overthrow him. On 27 July 1794, he was arrested after a struggle. The following day Robespierre, wounded from a bullet to the jaw, and twenty one of his closest supporters were kaputed at the guillotine. The “Reign”  had ended ended with Robespierre suffering the same fate he prescribed for Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and thousands of others. We recommend Hilary Mantel’s historical novel; A Place of Greater Safety.

                 1806-Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Chapin A. Harris American dentist who was one of the founders of dentistry as a profession. His most influential text, the riveting, The Dental Art: A Practical Treatise on Dental Surgery  was published in 1830. Professor Sy Yentz is currently working on a book about dentistry –The Dental Challenge: How Many Fingers and Devices Can I Fit In Your Mouth at the Same Time…..While Engaging You in a Conversation.  Harris was a co-founder of the first dental school in the world, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1840, and cofounder of the first dental journal in the world, the American Journal of Dental Science in 1849. Establishing dentistry was a difficult task.  In fact, it was almost like pulling teeth.

            1840-Wednesday-  This development caused people to be glued to their mail:  The concept of adhesive postage stamp was introduced by Scotsman, James Chalmers in Great Britain in 1834 and the world’s first prepaid postage stamp, known as Penny Black, (invented by Rowland Hill) was issued on May 6, 1840, with the profile of Queen Victoria printed on it.  In the United States, the adhesive postage stamp was officially issued in 1847.  The postal rate of one penny meant that a letter not exceeding half an ounce in weight could be sent to any part of the United Kingdom. The purpose of the stamp was to indicate that the postage had been prepaid. Before the invention of the stamp the receiver paid the postage rather than the sender.

1851-Tuesday-  John Gorrie of Florida, (whose blueprints can be described as the “Gorrie details”) got a patent for the mechanical refrigerator. As a physician,  
he became convinced that cold was a healer. Gorrie began to experiment with making artificial ice and invented a machine that produced ice. Horse, water, wind-driven sails, or steam power could power his compressor. Gorrie’s machine set the groundwork for modern refrigeration and air-conditioning. He died in 1855 after suffering a nervous breakdown when he was unable to obtain financing for production of his invention.  One might say he was frozen out of the process.

1851-Tuesday-  On the same day as the refrigerator was patented, a. patent was issued to Linus Yale Jr. of  Massachusetts for his invention of a "clock" lock, the first such patent to be issued in the U.S. He modestly called it the “ Yale Infallible Bank Lock" for safes and vaults. The design allowed the owner to change its combination and would also allow the key to secure the lock while being hidden away from the exterior of the door by a hardened steel plate, which covered the key-hole behind it. The design superseded the keyhole lock and the first double locks (two locks within one case).  Yale's best-known lock design, however, was for a cylinder pin-tumbler lock. This would eventually be followed by the "forgot the combination" lock...which could only be used once.The basic concept for locks was used in ancient Egypt around 4,000 years ago, in locks that were very large (up to two feet long) and made out of wood.

1856-Tuesday- -Sweet dream baby
Sweet dream baby
Sweet dream baby
How long must I dream?
Dream baby
Got me dreamin' sweet dreams
The whole day through
Dream baby
Got me dreamin' sweet dreams
Nighttime too…
.Roy Orbison………..Born on the same day department (see below):  Happy Birthday, Sigmund Freud , (who was afreud of the dark) born in Moravia (what is now the Czech Republic), father of modern psychiatry. In 1899, he published The Interpretation of Dreams, the book that  Freud regarded as his most important work. Freud worked briefly with Carl Jung, was a professor in Vienna and co-founded the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society and the International Psychoanalytic Association. In 1938 he left Austria for England to escape the Nazi government.  Two psychologists meet at their twentieth college reunion. One of them looks like he just graduated, while the other psychologist looks old, worried and withered.

The older looking one asks the other, "What's your secret? Listening to other people's problems every day, all day long, for years on end, has made an old man of me." The younger looking one replies, "Who listens?"

1856 –Tuesday- And, Edward Peary  American polar explorer who made the first successful expedition to the North Pole arriving April 6 1909 with his black assistant Matthew Henson and four Inuit Eskimos. His claim was disputed by Frederick Cook who claimed to have reached the pole in 1908, a controversy  which continues to this day, though most geographers have accepted that Peary was in fact the first to arrive reasonably close to the pole. He spent several prior years, from 1891, exploring northern Greenland. During one of these expeditions, he discovered what is still known as the largest meteorite.

1861 –Monday-  Arkansas seceded from the Union.  Reaction in the rest of the country was, “who cares?” It was the 9th state to secede.  North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kentucky would follow.  Among battles fought in Arkansas during the Civil War were those at Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove in 1862.

            1868 –Wednesday-   Happy Birthday, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the last Russian emperor and one of history’s leading examples of monarchial incompetence. During his reign, Russia was involved in two wars. In 1904-5, the country suffered a heavy defeat by Japan -- 400,000 men were killed, wounded or captured, and material losses were valued at 2.5-billion gold rubles. Even greater losses, however, were suffered in World War I, which Russia entered on the Allied side on August 1, 1914. Loss of territory and massive casualties as well as starvation and poverty on the home front were the main reasons for the Second Russian Revolution in February 1917. On March 2, 1917, Nicholas abdicated. In April 1918, the Bolshevik government, under Lenin, decided to move the Imperial family to Ekaterinburg in the Urals. The tsar, his wife and five children were shot dead by a Bolshevik firing squad in Yekaterinburg on  July 17, 1918.  The bodies were hidden and were found and identified in 1991.

1877 –Sunday-   Just under a year after his great victory of over the reckless George Custer at the Little Big Horn, Chief Crazy Horse of the Oglala Sioux surrendered to United States troops of General Nelson Miles in Nebraska. Except for Gall and Sitting Bull, he was the last important chief to yield, He would be slewn by army guards on Sept. 5, 1877.

1879Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Bedrich Hrozný, Czech archaeologist and linguist who, who deciphered cuneiform Hittite, opening a major path to the ancient history of the Near East. He was working with cuneiform tablets (cuneiform script is the earliest known form of written expression) created by the Sumerians from ca. 3000 BC. Cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs. Over time, the pictorial representations became simplified and more abstract….(current examples of cuneiform include prescriptions written by doctors and high school student essays).  The Hittites were an ancient people of Asia Minor (Turkey) and Syria who flourished from 1600 to 1200 B.C. The Hittite empire, with its capital at Bogazköy (also called as Hattusas), was the chief power and cultural force in Western Asia from 1400 to 1200 B.C.

1882 –Saturday- While strolling through the park one day
In the merry merry month of May
I was taken by surprise
By a pair of roguish eyes……
Ed Haley and Robert A. Keiser,……..The Phoenix Park Murders. No, not a Miss Marple mystery.  Lord Frederick Cavendish, British secretary for Ireland, and Thomas Henry Burke, his undersecretary were walking in Phoenix Park, Dublin when they were kaputed via being stabbed to death by members of the "Invincibles," a terrorist splinter group of the Fenian movement

1889 –Monday-  The Eiffel Tower was officially opened to the public at the Universal Exposition in Paris. There was immediately a 45 minute wait on line – a tradition that continues to this day. Since the mid-19th century, Universal Expositions were held in Paris every eleven years. In 1889, the event coincided with the centennial of the French Revolution. The commissioners tastefully rejected plans for a 300-meter-tall guillotine, selecting Gustave Eiffel's tower instead. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII of England, opened the tower. The tower was almost torn down in 1909, but was saved because its antenna was used both for military and other purposes, and the city let it stand after the permit expired.  The Tower is 300m / 984 ft. (320.75m / 1,052 ft. including antenna) and weighs 7000 tons.

1895 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Rudolph Valentino, Italian-born American silent screen actorThe Sheik. Valentino died in 1926 of peritonitis caused by a ruptured appendix. Professor Sy Yentz notes these appendix fatalities throughout history because he suffered a ruptured appendix in 2005.

1896-Wednesday- The Aerodrome No. 5 made the first successful flight of an unpiloted, engine-driven, heavier-than-air craft. Its inventor, Samuel Pierpont Langley, launched the craft using a spring-actuated catapult mounted on top of a houseboat on the Potomac River, near Quantico, Virginia. This first flight traveled 1,005-m (3,300-ft),  and was followed by a second of 700 m (2,300 ft) on the same afternoon at speeds of 20 – 25 mph and altitudes of 80 – 100 ft.  before circling Dulles Airport for an hour  waiting for permission to land.

1910 –Friday-  Speaking of Edward VII, who officially opened the Eiffel Tower (when he was Prince of Wales) in 1889, he went kaput on this day and George V became King of the United Kingdom. Edward was sixty years old when he finally succeeded his Methuselah -like mother, Queen Victoria in 1901. He usually smoked twenty cigarettes and twelve cigars a day. He liked to drink too.  Bronchitis, pneumonia and several heart attacks would send Edward to that big throne in the sky.  George V would in turn sire the criminally stupid, alcoholic, womanizing, Nazi sympathizing Edward VIII, who would abdicate the throne in 1936 so he could marry serial divorcee and  American gold digger, Wallace Simpson.

1915 –Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Orson Welles, American actor, director, producer and writer who combined his talents in the movie Citizen Kane, – generally recognized as the greatest movie ever made. Having created his masterpiece at age twenty five, years later Welles would declare "I began at the top and have been making my way down ever since." All the films he directed were interesting, but none matched his initial achievement of Citizen Kane. Among his other films were The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Lady From Shanghai (1946), Othello (1952), Touch of Evil (1958), The Trial (1962). Most of those films were  marked by soap operaish disputes with producers and studios and Welles often disowned the final version.

 1937-Thursday-  The zeppelin Hindenburg exploded at Lakehurst, New Jersey.  This was also the first recorded coast to coast radio broadcast. Announcer Herbert Morrison described the explosion as it occurred.  "Oh  the humanity……."  The Hindenberg was 200 feet over its intended landing spot at New Jersey's Lakehurst Naval Air Station. Thirty-five people on board the flight were killed (13 passengers and 22 crewmen), along with one crewman on the ground.  The cause is still uncertain although hydrogen, sabotage, the ingredients of the “skin”, someone sticking a pin in the side of it,  or a combination of one and three have been cited.

1954-Thursday-  In Oxford, England, 25-year-old medical student Roger Bannister broke track and field's most famous barrier in distance running: the four-minute mile. Bannister, won the mile race with a time of 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. For years, so many athletes had tried and failed to run a mile in less than four minutes that people made it out to be a physical impossibility.  Bannister, who was being pursued by four bill collectors, the U.S Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Marilyn Mansonl, and Rosie O’Donnell, proved them wrong.

1957 -Monday Just let me hear some of that
                    Rock and roll music
                    Any old way you choose it
                    It's got a back beat, you can't lose it
                    Any old time you use it
                    It's gotta be rock and roll music
                    If you want to dance with me
                    If you want to dance with me
                    I have no kicks against modern jazz
                    Unless they try to play it too darn fast
                    And change the beauty of the melody
                    Until it sounds just like a symphony
                    Just let me hear some of that
 Rock and roll music………………..

 Chuck Berry recorded Rock & Roll Music for Chess Records (blue label). It was released on his album, One Dozen Berries. Listen carefully, Blues legend Willie Dixon played bass. The song was later covered by the Beatles.

1962-Sunday-  The first U.S. nuclear warhead fired from a Polaris submarine was launched. The submerged USS Ethan Allen test-fired a Polaris A-2 missile with a live nuclear warhead across the Pacific Ocean toward Christmas Island, 1,700 miles (2,700 km) away. The test was the only one the U.S. ever conducted of any nuclear ballistic missile from launch through detonation…….. yet, it resulted in the eventual development of a mutant strain of virus that resulted in the disease of Vocalinus Stupiditus Theaterus, which causes people to talk during movies or shows.

1991-Monday Happy Birthday, Hannah N. Ake, Marine Biologist, Gaucho, and noted water polo pioneer who, at U.C Santa Clara, developed the first horse snorkel to enable the horses to stay underwater during the water polo match.

            1992 –Wednesday-  The New York Mets are infamous for the litany of failures and ineptitude marking the franchise’s history. On this day pitcher Anthony Young began a losing streak of 27 games.  This is a remarkable feat.  Think about it.  Losing twenty six games in a row with the same team!  Young pitched six seasons in the major leagues with the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, and Houston Astros. While with the Mets, from May 6, 1992 to July 24, 1993, he lost 27 consecutive games in which he had a decision. This losing streak is the longest in Major League Baseball history.  He was 0-14 as a starter and 0-13 as a reliever.

            1994 Friday- Bo-bom doo-wop, bo-bom doo-wop,
bo-bom doo-wop, bo-bom doo-wop.)
(Bo-bom doo-wop, bo-bom doo-wop,
bo-bom doo-wop, bo-bom doo-wop.)
You cheated, you lied,
You said that you love me

You cheated, you lied,
You said that you want me. …
..The Shields……..Former Arkansas state worker Paula Jones filed suit against Presidential stud muffin and horn dog, Bill Clinton, alleging he'd sexually harassed her in 1991. Gee, gosh, the President couldn’t have been (gasp) lying when he denied it. Nah, Clintons never lie.

             1994 –Friday-  The tunnel under the English Channel from France to England (or vice versa), popularly called the “Chunnel” (although in France it is called le tunnel sous la Manche) opened in Calais at a ceremony presided over by England's Queen Elizabeth II and French President Francois Mitterand. This was the first  connection between Britain and the European mainland for the first time since the Ice Age. The channel tunnel, connects Folkestone, England, with Sangatte, France, 31 miles away. The original plan for a “Chunnel of Love” featuring open topped six car, four seater trains had been revised into a train chunnel.  “Squeegee men”, windshield cleaners quickly followed up the Queen and the President trying to clean the train windows with dirty rags.

            2009 –Wednesday-  Chemists with Professor Thomas M. Klapötke at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) München analyzed a molecule, which has an extremely short bond length.  As reported by the researchers in Nature Chemistry, the carbon atom and the chlorine atom in the so-called chlorotrinitromethane molecule are only 1.69 Angstroms apart from one another. An angstrom is a metric unit of length equal to one ten billionth of a meter (or 0.0001 micron). The description of compounds and interactions between atoms is one of the basic objectives of chemistry. The cause of the bonding appears to have been an evening of molecules singing, Kumbaya, roasting marshmallows, and engaging in “team building activities”.

2010 ––Tuesday- A newly discovered species of monitor lizard, a close relative of the Komodo dragon, was reported in the journal Zootaxa this week by Sam Sweet, a professor in the department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at UCSB, and Valter Weijola, a graduate student at Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland. The monitor lizard is easily identified by it’s white Sam Brown belt and conspicuous hall pass as it carries messages from teachers to the office and reminds children not to run in the lunchroom.  The scientific name of this lizard is Varanus obor; However, it's called Torch monitor because of its bright orange head with a glossy black body. The Torch monitor can grow to nearly four feet in length, and thrives on a diet of small animals and carrion. The Torch monitor exists only on the small island of Sanana in the western Moluccan islands.

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1660-Friday-  Isaack B. Fubine of The Hague, Netherlands, did not invent macaroni, he patented macaroni. We don't know if it was penne, rigatoni, or shells. Yes, Italian cooking favorite, macaroni was patented in the Netherlands. The process involved "sticking a feather in his cap and calling it macaroni" (note macaronis were aides to British officers in the late 18th century).  Pasta itself was first prepared in China over 3,000 years ago (Professor Sy Yentz had some the original product at a cheap restaurant the other night) from rice beans and flower.  It was introduced to Italy by the brothers Polo, Niccolo (Marco’s dad) and Maffeo in the late 13th century.  By 1353, pasta (spaghetti-like noodles and turnip shaped ravioli) was a favorite food in Italy.  Even American President Thomas Jefferson developed a macaroni making machine.  It’s also mentioned in Boccaccio’s Decameron.  Isaak B. Fubine is not mentioned anywhere except in the first sentence of this item and that first sentence is all over the internet.

            1713 –Sunday-  Happy Birthday- Alexis Claude Clairaut  French mathematician who as child prodigy was studying calculus at age 10. In 1726, age thirteen, he read his paper Quatre problèmes sur de nouvelles courbes to the Paris Academy. Clairaut was the only one of twenty children of his parents to reach adulthood He was the first person to estimate the mass of Venus to a close value. Amazing, mentioning mass, we didn’t even know there were any Catholics on Venus.

            1763 –Saturday-  Ottawa Indian chief, New France supporter, and eventually a car, Pontiac began his war on the British in the Great Lakes Region. Pontiac began organizing many Indian tribes together to rebel against the British. Pontaic's message of united Indian resistance against the British was accepted among many groups, including the Delawares, Hurons, Illinois, Kickapoos, Miamis, Potawatomies, Senecas, Shawnees, Ottawas, and Chippewas (sounds like a list of the mascots for college athletics). The Indians attacked Fort Detroit and Fort Pitt but were unsuccessful in capturing the forts. They  were counting on French support against the British in order to take these two forts. The French support never came. Good old French. Without controlling Fort Pitt or Detroit, the Indians had no real chance of driving the British out of the western frontier. Smaller battles continued for several years. In 1766, Pontiac signed a peace treaty at Oswego, New York.  Pontiac was neither the originator nor the strategist of the rebellion, but he kindled it by daring to act, and his early successes, ambition and determination won him a temporary prominence not enjoyed by any of the other American Indian leaders so the British regarded him as the leader even if his allies didn’t.

             1812 –Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Poet Robert Browning, born in London. Robert married poet Elizabeth Barrett in 1846. Elizabeth wrote her love poems Sonnets from the Portuguese to Robert. “How do I love thee.  Let me count the ways….” Robert, in turn, penned “roses are red, violets are blue”…, no, he didn’t.  Professor Sy Yentz has his iambic sense of humor. To Elizabeth he dedicated Men and Women, which contains his best poetry. Public sympathy for him after her death (she was a much more popular poet during their lifetimes) helped the critical reception of his Collected Poems . He is buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

            1824 –Friday-  World premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (actually Symphony No. 9 in D minor, op. 125) at the Kärntnertor Theatre in Vienna. Friedrich Schiller’s poem The Ode to Joy (actually, Schiller had called it An die Freude)had interested Beethoven from 1793 when he sought to write a song which became the choral symphony but the musical theme of Part IV was written only a year before the completion of the symphony.  The performance was conducted by Michael Umlauf under the (by now)  deaf composer's supervision.

            1833-Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, composer (he is currently decomposing) Johannes Brahms, born in Hamburg, Germany and famed for his Double Concerto for violin and cello, Liebeslieder Waltzes, and Academic Festival Overture. and  Wang Dang Doodle (recorded by Howlin’ Wolf)

            1840 –Thursday-  The Great Natchez Tornado hit Natchez, Mississippi killing 317 people. There was no National Weather Service in 1840 and no warnings of what was to come. Because of that, no one was prepared. The tornado formed southwest of Natchez and moved northeast along the Mississippi River. It then moved into the town of Natchez and destroyed many buildings. The final death toll was 48 on land and 269 on the river, mostly from the sinking of flatboats.  It was the second deadliest tornado in United States history surpassed only by the Tri-state Tornado (Missouri, Illinois, Indiana)  of 1925 with 695 deaths.

            1840 –Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer.  In 1875 he composed what is perhaps his most universally known and loved work, the Piano Concerto No. 1.  Also popular was Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake (1876). It is the most successful ballet ever written if measured in terms of broad audience appeal. Tchaikovsky has quite a list of “greatest hits”.  You’ll also find The Nutcracker, the 1812 Overture, the Pathetique, and the opera Eugene Onegin.

             1841 –Friday- Happy Birthday, Gustave Le Bon, French social psychologist best known for his study of the psychological characteristics of crowds. His most notable work The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind was crowded out of bookshelves.  He stated that crowds maintained a collective mind and that the group mind was not simply a summary of the individual persons. Instead, a new distillation of traits emerged, primarily unconscious in nature, which reflected racially inherited characteristics. Obviously, Le Bon spent a lot of time at Miley Cyrus and Lil’ Wayne  concerts. Over one hundred and fory  years later he changed  his name from Gustave to Simon Le Bon and became the lead singer for Duran Duran.

1847-Friday- Delegates to a national medical convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, approved a resolution to establish the American Medical Association. Dr. Nathaniel Chapman was elected as its first president. The American Medical Association (AMA) prescribes the standards for the medical profession.

            1874-Thursday-  The wayward wind is a restless wind
A restless wind that yearns to wander
…Gogie Grant….The Beaufort Scale, developed by Englishman, Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort - which measures wind force, was adopted for international use by the British Admiralty.   Prior to this the scale was used to weigh Beaufort during his periodic diet regimens. The scale, which he conceived in 1805 would undergo underwent major changes in the 100 years following it initial adaptation since the scale was originally devised with frigates in mind.  After frigates faded from the nautical scene, the scale was adjusted to “states of the sea” and “degrees of motion of trees”. It wasn’t totally finalized until 1946.                                           

1878-Tuesday-  Joseph R. Winters, a black American inventor, received a patent for a fire escape ladder.  It was a wagon-mounted fire escape ladder for the city of Chambersburg, PA.  The ladder could be raised to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor windows of buildings. Presumably if you were on the 5th floor you were in a bit of trouble.

1885 –Thursday   Happy  Birthday George 'Gabby' Hayes, American actor  and professional side kick to Hopalong Cassidy, John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and Randolph Scott.

1887-Saturday- Happy Birthday, Edwin Land ( brother of Disney Land, Ice Land and Ire Land, and Po Land…….yes, it was a large family!), American physicist, manufacturing executive, and inventor,   Land developed the first modern polarizers for light, (light oriented in a plane with respect to the source) a sequence of subsequent polarizers, and theories and practices for applications of polarized light from which came the Polaroid Land Camera.  He first demonstrated his camera in 1947, which gave fully developed prints in 60 seconds.

            1896 –Thursday-  Dr. H. H. Holmes, (Herman Webster Mudgett) one of America's first well-known serial killers, was hanged in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  As described in Erik Larson’s excellent book, The Devil in the White City – which juxtaposes the activities of the murderous Holmes with wonders of the Chicago Exposition of 1893- Holmes preyed on tourists visiting the Fair and he also selected female victims from among his employees (many of whom were required as a condition of employment to take out life insurance policies for which Holmes would pay the premiums but also be the beneficiary), lovers and hotel guests, and would torture and kill them.

                1902-Wednesday-   Martinique’s Mount Pelé exploded in the deadliest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. The following day, the city of Saint Pierre, which some called the “Paris” of the Caribbean, was virtually wiped off the map.  Although in January,  Mt. Pelée began to show an abrupt increase in fumarole activity, the public showed little concern. This changed, however, on April 23 when minor explosions began at the summit of the volcano. Over the next few days, St. Pierre was rocked by earth tremors, showered in ash, and enveloped in a thick cloud of choking sulfurous gas. These nightmarish conditions deteriorated further and became the stuff of horror movies when the city and outlying villages were invaded by ground-dwelling insects and snakes driven from the slopes of Mt. Pelé by the ashfalls and tremors. Horses, pigs, and dogs screamed as red ants and foot-long centipedes crawled up their legs and bit them. Thousands of poisonous snakes joined in the fun. An estimated 50 humans, mostly children, died by the snake bites, along with some 200 animals. But, as Billy Mays would say “wait, there’s more”,  things would go from bad to worse around this day as the volcano erupted with, pardon us, volcanic energy. A large black cloud composed of superheated gas, ash and rock rolled headlong down the south flank of Mt. Pelé at more than 100 miles per hour.  In less than one minute it struck St. Pierre with hurricane force. The searing heat of the cloud ignited huge bonfires. Thousands of barrels of rum stored in the city's warehouses exploded, sending rivers of the flaming liquid through the streets and into the sea. The cloud continued over the harbor where it destroyed at least twenty ships anchored offshore. The hurricane force of the blast capsized the steamship Grappler, and its scorching heat set ablaze the American sailing ship Roraima, killing most of her passengers and crew.  In a masterpiece of timing (remember the volcano had been erupting for a few days) the Roraima had arrived only a few hours before the eruption. Of the 28,000 people in St. Pierre, there were only two known survivors. Mount Pelé, the name meaning “bald” in French, was a 4,500-foot mountain on the north side of the island.

                . 1915- Friday- They almost made it from New York to Britain but the British ocean liner Lusitania was torpedoed without warning by the German submarine U-20 off the south coast of Ireland. Within 20 minutes, the vessel sank into the Celtic Sea. Of 1,959 passengers and crew, 1,198 people were drowned. On May 6th, the Lusitania received the first of a number of warnings from the British Admiralty about U-boat activity off the south coast of Ireland. The crew went through a number of safety drills and some watertight bulkheads were closed.  The next day, May 7th, the Lusitania came into sight of the Irish coast. The ship's captain, Captain Turner, became concerned as he could see no other ship ahead of him - he was really really concerned that he could see no protective naval ships. This was not good. It was as if all other ships had cleared the waters as a result of the Admiralty's warning so guess which ship was the only target for U-20?   The submarine fired one torpedo but there were two explosions. It is thought that a second explosion occurred because the Lusitania was carrying  4,200 cases of small arms ammunition.

            1939 –Sunday-  Happy Birthday,  Johnny Maestro, American  rock n roll singer. Maestro was lead singer of doo woppers, the Crests during the 1950s with hits including now standard, 16 Candles, as well as The Angels Listened In, Step By Step, (“first step, a sweet hello, 2nd step, my heart’s aglow”)  and Trouble In Paradise. In 1968, he combined with a Del Satins, who had backed up Dion after he left the Belmonts and formed the Brooklyn Bridge. Along came The Worst That Could Happen, Blessed Is The Rain, Welcome Me Love (my name is lonely, tell that girl that I think of her only…) and the absolutely appalling  Your Husband, My Wife.             

            1945 –Monday-  World War II came to an end in Europe as German Commander in Chief (Hitler having kaputed himself on April 30) Admiral Karl Doenitz surrendered to Allied forces.  Hitler had selected Joseph Goebbels to succeed him but Goebbels kaputed himself (and his wife and his eight children) the next day. Authorizing German forces in northwestern Europe to surrender on May 4, Doenitz instructed Colonel General Alfred Jodl to sign the instrument of unconditional surrender on May 7.

           1952 –Wednesday- The concept of the integrated circuit, the basis for all modern computers, was first published by radar scientist Geoffrey W.A. Dummer.  Dummer, employed by the Royal Radar Establishment of the British Ministry of Defense published the idea at the Symposium on Progress in Quality Electronic Components in Washington, D.C Unfortunately, the unfortunately named Dummer couldn't figure out how to make and integrated circuit – remember this was before Brown vs. Kansas Board of Education so integration was a year or so away- so the first integrated circuits were developed independently by two scientists. Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments who filed a patent for a "Solid Circuit" on February 6, 1958 and Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor who was awarded a patent for a more complex "unitary circuit" on April 25, 1961. Noyce's silicon circuit ended up being the prototype on which the microprocessors we now use are based.

             1954 –Friday- Another war another loss for France. In northwest Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh communist forces defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu, a French stronghold that had been under siege by the Vietnamese communists for 57 days. The Viet Minh victory at Dien Bien Phu signaled the end of French colonial influence in Indochina and cleared the way for the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel at the conference of Geneva. It led to increased U.S involvement, the “domino theory” – that if one Southeast Asian country went communist, the rest would fall like dominos- the Vietnamese War, and ultimately the reunification of the country under Communist rule in 1975 when the United States’ congress refused further financing for the South Vietnamese government and it collapsed like a badly prepared soufflé.

                1957 –Tuesday-  Brilliant young Cleveland Indians' lefty pitcher Herb Score was  hit by a line drive off the bat of New York Yankee, Gil McDougald.  McDougald's shot caught Score flush in the right eye, breaking his nose, cutting his eyelid and causing massive swelling and hemorrhaging. He was out for the rest of the year. Score regained his sight and was back on the mound in 1958 with  a three-hit, 13-strikeout shutout of  the Chicago White Sox but his career – due to an elbow injury- would sputter and he would be out of baseball by 1961.

                 1963-Tuesday-  The United States launched the Telstar II communications satellite on behalf of its private owner, AT&T. On its tenth orbit, it transmitted the first transatlantic TV program seen in color.  Telstar I, launched in 1962 had also broadcast but those pictures were in black and white. That first color transmission, the Eurovision Song Contest caused viewers to run screaming from their homes.

            1964-Thursday-  The record low temperature for May in the continental U.S. was set   -15  F. at White Mountain, California.  This put a distinct chill on the annual “Nudist Romp and Frolic in the Sun Picnic” scheduled for noon this day.

         1966-Saturday- Monday Monday, so good to me,
Monday Monday, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Monday morning, Monday morning couldn't guarantee
That Monday evening you would still be here with me.
Monday Monday, can't trust that day
Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh Monday Monday, how yould cou leave and not take me.
 Monday, Monday, by the Mamas and the Papas – Michelle Phillips, John Phillips, Denny Laine, and Mama Cass Eliot- rose to number 1 on the Billboard  charts. This was the first musical quartet to include two men and two women. Almost all previous groups that topped the charts were single-sex groups, like the Supremes and the Chiffons, or the Beatles and the Beach Boys. A few male groups sported a token woman singer (like the Platters ), and vice versa like Gladys Knight and the Pips, but the Mamas and the Papas were the first group to feature fully balanced co-ed vocals. Isn’t that nice?
                1987 –Thursday-  Great career moves – Delusional actress Shelly Long, as Diane Chambers, made her last appearance as a regular on the TV show Cheers and she was off to be a movie star.  Long went on to a forgettable career in the movies highlighted by Troop Beverly Hills. Most of her films were critical and box office duds. Cheers, meanwhile, moved from No. 3 to No. 1 in the ratings.
                . 1992-Thursday- The space shuttle Endeavour -  named after the first ship commanded by James Cook, the 18th century British explorer and navigator- blasted off on its maiden voyage. The Endeavour launched, as the $2 billion replacement for the ill-fated Challenger, was the 47th shuttle mission. While capturing and correcting the orbit of a satellite, the astronauts set new U.S. records for duration of spacewalk and the number of astronauts outside the craft.  In fact, they all left the spacecraft and then realized there was no one still in there to let them back in.  Fortunately, someone brought a credit card and they picked the lock.  The crew also took part in the Commercial Protein Crystal Growth experiment. The research tested the production of protein crystals grown in microgravity.  Later, the crystals mutated and attacked Sigourney Weaver causing her to run around in her underwear for a while.
            1994-Saturday- Norway's most famous painting, "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, was recovered almost three months after it was stolen from a museum in Oslo. It is part of the artist's ``Frieze of Life" series, focusing on sickness, death, anxiety and love  Another version, there are four in all, of “The Scream”  would be stolen from the National Gallery  in 2004.  Currently all versions of The Scream are where they are supposed to be.
            2007 –Monday- The tomb of Herod the Great was discovered at Herodium (probably a good place to look). Bits of an elaborate sarcophagus were found but pieces of Heron were in it.  Herod ruled Judea for the Roman empire from circa 37 BC.

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450 –Wednesday-  Jack Cade's Rebellion as Jack Cade (believed to be his name - some of his followers called him John Mortimer, and claimed that he was related to Richard, Duke of York, and also that he had fought for France against England in the Hundred Years War. He appeared to history out of nowhere in the spring of 1450)  led an uprising against the policies of the addled Henry VI. The majority of the participants were peasants and small landowners from Kent, who objected to forced labor, corrupt courts, the seizure of land by nobles, the loss of royal lands in France, heavy taxation and being forced to listen to Herman’s Hermit’s Greatest Hits. Led by Cade, an ex-soldier, a mob gathered in Kent, defeated a government force and entered London. At first the Londoners supported Cade, but the violent behavior of Cade's men turned the City against them. Most of the mob accepted a pardon issued by the king, and returned home. Cade himself was also pardoned, but later killed by the Sheriff of Kent, Alexander Iden, who  pursued Cade and caught him. Cade was mortally injured, and he died on his way back to London. His corpse was hung, drawn, and quartered, and his head placed on a pole on London Bridge.

1541-Thursday-  Hernando De Soto discovered the Mississippi River. Reportedly, his first words were "you mean I missed Mardi Gras?"  DeSoto, besotted with dreams of riches (he was with Pizarro for the looting of the Inca Empire), first landed in Florida, Bradenton claims  to be the spot, and set off in search of riches committing countless atrocities, enslaving hundreds and killing thousands of Indians as he cut a swath across what is now the Southeastern United States.  He first sighted the Mississippi south of Memphis, Tennessee. After crossing the river he explored Arkansas (possibly sighting White Water and alerting the Clintons to the real estate possibilities) and established his winter quarters near the present site of Fort Smith. After months of exploration, he resolved to return to the sea, he reached the mouth of the Arkansas River, where he promptly died of fever on May 21, 1542 never having found his riches.  His current whereabouts are unknown as his companions buried the body in a large hole which the natives had dug near one of their villages to get materials to build their houses. However, the Indians afterwards disinterred the body. They then hollowed out the trunk of a large tree and, placing the body in it, sank it in the Mississippi which they called the Grande.

            1698-Thursday- Happy Birthday Henry Baker, English naturalist who introduced microscopy to the general public with papers on his microscopical examinations of water creatures, fossils and politicians. Among his publications were the riveting Microscope made Easy in 1743, followed by the scintillating Employment for the Microscope

In 1753. Baker also developed new methods of teaching the hearing and speech-impaired. The novelist, Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, was his father-in-law. Influenced by Baker's work, Defoe even wrote a book about a deaf magician, The Life and Adventures of Duncan Campbell in 1720.

            1742-Tuesday Happy Birthday, Lionel Lukin, English, inventor who in 1785 patented  the construction of the modern "unsinkable" lifeboat.  He patented his design of watertight compartments, cork, and other lightweight materials to build small boats that would not sink even when filled with water. He is considered by some to have been the inventor of the lifeboat (although some think William Wouldhave –really, that was his name - would have (pun intended) a competing claim –although his model didn’t really work until three years after Lukin’s model). Lukin’s other inventions included a raft for rescuing persons under ice, an adjustable reclining hospital bed, and a rain gauge.

            1786 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Thomas Hancock, English inventor who founded the British rubber industry. Hancock invented the masticator, (sounds like something that helps teenagers when they’re alone in their rooms) a machine that shredded rubber scraps, allowing rubber to be recycled after being formed into blocks or rolled into sheets. Hancock, the master of mastication, remember this was before tires were needed, teamed up with waterproof rubber inventor Charles MacIntosh and the mastication process was used for pneumatic cushions, mattresses, pillows and bellows, hose, tubing, solid tires, shoes, packing and springs.  

            1790-Saturday-   Setting off hundreds of years of confusion over measurement systems, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand convinced  the French National Assembly decided to create a simple, stable, decimal system of measurement units. The earliest meter unit chosen was the length of a pendulum with a half-period of a second.

             1794-Thursday- Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, was guillotined by a revolutionary tribunal that stated, "We need no more scientists in France." Lavoisier may have said," Let's not lose our heads over this”. Lavoisier was tried, convicted, and guillotined all on one day In spite of his contributions to science and to France, Lavoisier had, unfortunately, joined the Ferme Générale, a private company that collected taxes for the Crown.  Owners, called 'tax farmers,' were empowered to collect taxes of all kinds, but especially duties on imported goods.  The system was easily and often abused by the tax farmers who enriched themselves and lived in extravagance.  They were the target of popular hatred among the peasants and merchants alike. He had also made incurred the enmity of Jean Paul Marat. When Marat tried to become a member of the Academy of Science., Lavoisier pointed out that his writings were empty. All members of the Ferme Générale were executed during the “Reign of Terror”- See Robespierre, May, 6 1758. Prior to his headectomy,  Lavoisier established the consistent use of chemical balance, used oxygen to overthrow the phlogiston theory, and developed a new system of chemical nomenclature.

            1840 – Friday- The first U.S. photographic patent was issued to Alexander S. Wolcott of New York City.  It was a daguerreotype camera with concave reflector. Instead of a lens, it had inside it a large concave mirror which reflected intense light on to the plate, thus greatly lessening the required exposure time. The disadvantage was that the size of the pictures were limited to two square inches so he could only take pictures of tiny people or sometimes just a nose…..ha ha ha Professor Sy Yentz has his photographic sense of humor…... Wolcott had opened the world's first portrait studio in March 1840, and in 1841 later sold exclusive rights to Richard Beard, who opened the first studio in Europe a year later

            1842-Sunday-  Happy Birthday, Emil Chrstian Hansen, Danish botanist who revolutionized beer-making, while working for the Carlsberg Brewery,  through development of new ways to culture yeast.  Yes, yeast is yeast and west is west and………… He also proved that there are different species of yeast. He refused to patent the method, but instead made it available for free to other brewers. Some yeast cultures went on to develop into people who kiss dogs on the mouth.

             1846-Friday- Five days before the formal declaration of war, General Zachary Taylor defeated a much larger Mexican army in the Battle of Palo Alto north of the Rio Grande River, near Brownsville Texas. The battle consisted mostly of a lopsided artillery duel. Attempts by the Mexican cavalry to turn the U.S. flank proved unsuccessful, and Mexican General Mariano Arista retreated to a strong defensive position at Resaca de la Palma. Arista lost between 250 and 400 men at Palo Alto, double the number of American losses.  Zachary Taylor emerged from the war a national hero. "Old Rough and Ready" was elected president in 1848. In July 1850, Taylor returned from a public ceremony and complained that he felt ill. Suffering from a recurring attack of cholera, he died several days later paving the way for the immortal Millard Fillmore to become President.

            1847-Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Oscar Hammerstein, German/American inventor, cigar maker, opera impresario, theater builder; and Oscar II's (of Rogers & Hammerstein) grandfather. His development of the theater district in New York City, his acoustic and populist innovations in theater design, his introduction of the new and controversial into the staid conventions of opera, his bankrolling of opera productions with the profits from vaudeville comedy and cigar machines, combined to create the area near Broadway that would become Times Square in Manhattan

            1855 –Tuesday-  Happy Birthday,  John Warne Gates, known as John "Bet A Million" Gates, was an American inventor, promoter and speculator. He discovered a market for Joseph Glidden’s invention, barbed wire fencing on the Western plains and helped convince ranchers to adopt it for use. “Bet a Million” was a founder of the The Texas Company which became the Texaco oil company. He became influential in the development of the city of Port Arthur, Texas.  In a 1900 horse race in England, Gates won $600,000 on a $70,000 bet, which rumors escalated to over $1 million and earned him the nickname "Bet-A-Million".

            1864 –Sunday- A mere two days after the Battle of the Wilderness, the armies of Grant and Lee met again at Spotsylvania. This ferocious battle, featuring the "Bloody Angle", in which the Union forces found and attacked an open area in Lee’s line of defense, resulted (as did the Wilderness) in a greater number of Union loses. However, Grant could replace his losses, Lee could not.  As with the Battle of the Wilderness, Grant would not retreat and continued his march towards Richmond and more punishing/high casualty battles before the inevitable victory of April, 1865.

            1873-Thursday-  Happy Birthday Nevil Vincent Sidgwick English chemist who contributed to the understanding of chemical bonding, especially in coordination compounds. As we have noted, chemical bonding usually occurred after a day of team building activities and  an evening of sitting around the campfire, roasting marshmallows while singing Kumbaya.

            1879-Thursday-  Here in my car
I feel safest of all
I can lock all my doors
It's the only way to live
In cars
…Gary Numan……No, he didn’t invent the car. He never even built one but the first U.S. patent for an automobile was filed by George Baldwin Selden of Rochester, N.Y. It was not issued until almost twenty years later, on Nov, 5 1898. He called it “a unique combination of an internal combustion engine and a road vehicle. Selden was a Rochester, New York, patent attorney. He applied for a patent on what he hoped to be the prototype for all future automobiles, a basic road vehicle propelled by a liquid hydrocarbon engine. Remember, he applied for the patent without ever having manufactured a single car.  Charles Duryea built his first car in 1892. It was not until 1896 that Charles King, Ransom Olds and Henry Ford produced their first cars in Detroit.       

            1884-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Harry S Truman, 33rd president of the U.S.  The S stands for just S, no middle name so, no period after the S (except when ending a sentence). Truman became President when Franklin D. Roosevelt went kaput shortly after beginning his fourth term as President.  Truman led the nation through the final stages of World War II and through the early years of the Cold War, vigorously opposing Soviet expansionism in Europe and sending U.S. forces to turn back a communist invasion of South Korea.  Elected President (with Vice President Alben Barkley) in an upset over Thomas E. Dewey in 1948, Truman decided not to seek reelection in 1952. He retired to Independence, Missouri.

1886-Saturday-  Druggist John S. Pemberton invented and sold a new drink called Coca Cola at his Atlanta, Georgia store. Pemberton concocted the Coca Cola formula in a three legged brass kettle in his backyard. It was not exactly an immediate hit.  About nine servings of the soft drink were sold each day. Sales for that first year added up to a total of about $50. Pemberton’s expenses were over $70 so the first year of sales were a loss.  Until 1905, the drink, marketed as a "brain and nerve tonic," contained extracts of cocaine as well as the caffeine-rich cola nut. The name, using two C's from its ingredients, was suggested by his bookkeeper Frank Robinson, whose excellent penmanship provided the first scripted "Coca-Cola" letters as the famous logo. In 1887, another Atlanta pharmacist and businessman, Asa Candler bought the formula for Coca Cola from  Pemberton for $2,300.

            1937 –Saturday- Happy Birthday, Thomas Pynchon, American novelist.  He has been described as one of the most important postmodern writers. We love that because no one quite knows what postmodern is.  His books are intriguing and readable (except perhaps Mason and Dixon) and Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) is a great novel by any standard, postmodern or not. Other notables include The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) and Vineland, 1990.

            1940 –Wednesday-  Happy Birthday- Eric Nelson, son of radio stars Ozzie and Harriet Nelson.  Eric, later known as Ricky, grew up to play himself on his parents' TV series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and became a teenage idol

Some people call me a teenage idol

Some people say they envy me

I guess they got no way of knowing

How lonesome I can be

and pretty good country/rock singer. Like his band leader father, he had a knack for hiring good musicians, including hiring the great James Burton as guitarist and mainstay of his band.  Nelson also had a good eye (ear?) for songs.  His hit, Poor Little Fool – 1958- was written by Sharon Sheeley (Eddie Cochran’s girlfriend) and Hello Mary Lou was written by Gene Pitney.  Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band with its mellow, California-based country-rock sound – Garden Party- anticipated the sounds of groups like the Eagles.

             1942 –Friday-  Only six months after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor came the end of the Battle of the Coral Sea, about five hundred miles from Australia, the first modern navel battle. It was fought exclusively with air attacks between aircraft carriers. Neither surface fleet sighted the other.  The Japanese were preparing to invade New Guinea. After skirmishing for a few days, the Japanese and Allied fleets found each other on this day and each sent aircraft to attack the other.  Both air attacks occurred at about the same time approximately 200 miles apart with both sides suffering moderate losses.  The most significant Allied loss during the battle was the sinking of the American carrier, USS Lexington That evening, with the battle roughly a draw, both sides retreated but would meet again a month later at the decisive Battle of Midway, 3,000 miles away in the Hawaiian Islands. Although a draw, it stopped the string of Japanese victories.  It is also called the “battle that saved Australia”.

            1944-Monday- New York Hospital established the first eye bank in a plan that  included 19 other hospitals.  When a vote was taken on whether to join, the eyes had it.  The opening of the New York bank marked the first organized attempt to facilitate the transfer of tissue from donor to patient. Other areas and tissue communities then successfully replicated this eye-banking model.  Professor Sy Yentz anxiously awaits the opening of the first appendix bank to replace his ruptured and removed appendix.

            1945 –Tuesday-  Following the surrender of Germany under Karl (Dunkin) Doenitz and Alfred Jodl the previous day, both Great Britain and the United States celebrated V E Day, Victory in Europe Day.  It was also President Harry Truman’s sixty first birthday.

      1951-Tuesday- I just got down from the Isle of Skye
I'm not very big but I'm awful shy
All the lassies shout as I walk by,
"Donald, Where's Your Trousers?"

Dacron men's suits were introduced in New York City. Dacron is a  polymer fiber—polyethylene terephthalate--that John Rex Whinfield and J. T. Dickinson developed in Great Britain in 1941. Whinfield and Dickinson called their new synthetic fiber Terylene. Dacron a registered trademark of DuPont, (along with Terylene in England) and  became the first commercially marketed polyester fiber.  The discovery of Dacron revolutionized the textile industry. As one of the first artificial fibers, it could be used both in wool blends or by itself. Dacron doesn’t wrinkle easily so men could wear the same suit for months at a time.

            1956 –Tuesday-  Norman Mingo’s Alfred E. Neuman became Mad Magazine’s permanent mascot as he appeared on the cover for regularly the first time.  A running joke since 1956 has been Neuman's campaign for the U.S. presidency and his slogan: "You could do worse, and always have! An original sold for  $203,150 in 2008.

            1958 –Thursday Just what the world needed, another Dracula movie.  This one, Dracula starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (who along with Vincent Price) had a monopoly on late 20th century horror films.  In the United States the title was changed to Horror of Dracula to avoid confusion with the classic 1931 version.  The film premiered at the Warner Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to Guinness Attraction, Dracula is featured in 161 movies, as contrasted with the 2nd most popular horror movie character of all time, Frankenstein, who is only in 115 movies.  The Eerie Books Blog lists just fifty five of them:

Our favorites include: Dracula’s Daughter,  Son of Dracula, House of Dracula, Dracula Istanbul’da – 1953 – A Turkish movie production of Dracula., Brides of Dracula, Billy the Kid VS Dracula, Countess Dracula, Dracula A.D. 1972, Blacula, Dracula, Father and Son, and Dracula 3000. Christopher Lee starred in eight Dracula films

            1961-Monday-  The first seawater treatment plant opened in Texas.  The need for fresh water had created a need to take the salt out of sea water.  The large-scale evaporation method used then has now been replaced by reverse osmosis as scientific advances have produced special polymers suitable for use as filtering membranes. “Osmosis” is what Moses said when he introduced himself to the Israelites.

            1961 –Monday Meet the mets,
Meet the mets,
Step right up and greet the Mets!
Bring your kiddies,
bring your wife;
Guaranteed to have the time of your life
because the Mets are really sockin' the ball; knocking those home runs over the wall! least until the moved to cavernous Citifield…. Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz ………On the same day that the seawater treatment plant opened in Texas, New York's National League club announced that the team nickname would be  "Mets," a natural shortening of the corporate name ("New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc."). The Mets would replace the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, stolen by two California cities in 1957 and facilitated by greedy and incompetent New York politicians.

            1965 –Saturday- Johnny's in the basement, mixing up the medicine
I'm on the pavement, thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat, badge out, laid off
Says "He's got a bad cough, wants to get it paid off"
Look out kid, it's somethin' you did
God knows when but you're doin' it again
You better duck down the alley way, lookin' for a new friend
The man in the coon-skin cap, in the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills, you only got ten
…….Oft imitated (enough already!) never duplicated, Bob Dylan filmed one of the earliest music videos, the famous "flashcard" clip for Subterranean Homesick Blues. It was seen in DA Pennebaker's film, Dont Look Back, a documentary of Dylan’s tour of England.

            1970-Friday The album Let It Be  (still vinyl in those days)  by the Beatles was released.  This was the Beatles’ final album. Although not one of the best, it does have several great tracks. Beatles producer, George Martin was not involved with this one. Phil Spector, of early 60s “wall of sound” fame, was the producer.  The last time The Beatles performed together in a studio was on August 20, 1969. On January 4, 1970, the final taping was completed for Let It Be. In April 1970, Paul McCartney announced that he had left The Beatles, citing personal, business, musical differences and bizarre Japanese groupies. Highlights of the album were, of course, Let It Be, the mucilaginous wailing of  The Long and Winding Road, Across the Universe, and Get Back.

            1973 –Tuesday-  Hall of Fame shortstop, Ernie Banks filled in for Cubs manager Whitey Lockman after Lockman was  ejected during the game, thus technically becoming baseball's 1st black manager as the Cubs beat the San Diego Padres 3-1.  Frank Robinson of the Cleveland Indians would officially become the first Black manager in 1975.  

            1984 –Tuesday-  After the United States boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, the Soviets shocked (ha ha ha) the world by boycotting the U.S Olympic Games in Los Angeles thus reminding us once again that diplomacy is basically 2nd graders trying to get even with each other. In the absence of the Communist countries and their performance enhancing drugs (the women looked like they could play middle linebacker for the NY Giants) the U.S. captured 173 medals--including a record 83 gold medals.

            1988 –Sunday- Oh oh Telephone Line, give me some time, I'm living in twilight
Oh oh Telephone Line, give me some time, I'm living in twilight
..ELO…“ Hi mom, Happy Mother’s D….oops…….. hello?  Hello? Hello?...........Is anyone there?............A fire at Illinois Bell's Hinsdale Central Office triggered an extended 1AESS network outage.  Outage is telephone company talk for “you can’t make any calls and no one can call you”. One of the largest switching systems in the state, the Hinsdale facility processed more than 3.5 million calls each day while serving 38,000 customers, including numerous businesses, hospitals, and Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports. The timing, Mother’s Day, when people actually call their mothers, was perfect. At the time it was  considered the 'worst telecommunications disaster in US telephone industry history'. But technological glitches being what they are, it was surpassed two years later when virtually the entire AT&T network toll tandems switches went in and out of service over and over again on Jan. 15, 1990 disrupting long distance service for the entire nation.

             1992-Friday-  The source of a "red tide" in the Gulf of Mexico was identified by scientists at a conference on the ecology of the Gulf. The red tide produced huge blooms of reddish algae in sufficient quantity to kill fish, cause severe respiratory problems for humans, and result in a seeming epidemic of effeminate men appearing on television shows. The scientists cited  a "green river" of pollution that started 60 miles inland of Florida as the source of the algae. The wind and water currents that bring nutrients from the floor of the ocean to the surface provided the food that caused the algae population to explode once it reached the Gulf. The “red tide” also resulted in a number of human mutations including Handicpapicus Ignoramicus -  non-handicapped people who park in handicap reserved spots, and  Moronicus Securitus - people who try to bring scissors through security checkpoints at airports.

1994 –Sunday-  Climb every mountain, search high and low
Follow every by way, every path you know
Climb every mountain, ford every stream
Follow every rainbow, till you find your dream
……..Rogers and Hammerstein……Norwegian,  Erling Kagge was the first person to surmount the "three poles challenge" – North Pole, South Pole and Mount Everest by reaching the summit of Everest.  In 1992-93, he completed the first unsupported solo expedition to the South Pole (starting from Berkner Island), covering the 814-mile (1340 km) route in 51 days. In 1990 Kagge set out from Ellesmere Island in Canada for the North Pole without receiving any supplies underway and completed the trip in 58 days (March 8 to May 4, 1990). This was the first unsupported ski trek to the North Pole; a distance of 800 km. Tina Sjögren of Sweden became the very first woman to complete the challenge in 2002.

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1457 BC –Saturday-  The Battle of Megiddo  between Thutmose III and a large Canaanite coalition under the King of Kadesh. It is said to be the first battle to have been recorded in what is accepted as relatively reliable detail.  Most of what we know about the battle was compiled by the military scribe, Tjaneni, and inscribed on the walls of the Hall of Annals in the Temple of Amun at Karnak in ancient Thebes (modern Luxor). The Egyptians soundly defeated the Canaanites and could have captured the city of Megiddo but………. instead of attacking the city the Egyptians began to loot the abandoned camps, (which were filled with little souvenir pyramids autographed pictures of Gamel Abdel Nasser) which gave many more of the enemy a chance to escape and time to organize their defense of the city. Megiddo is also known as Armageddon. Strategically, Megiddo was an important city because it overlooked the route from Egypt through Syria to Mesopotamia.



            1502-Friday- Christopher Columbus and his 13 year old son, Fernando, set out from Cadiz, Spain on his 4th voyage to America.  As the old saying goes, “he shoulda stood in bed”.  The expedition included four ships and 150 men.  Columbus had miserable luck with the weather and a hostile governor of Hispaniola – who would not let him land. He eventually lost all his ships and his men mutinied.  Columbus was stranded for an entire year on the island of Jamaica. Other than that, everything was fine. He managed to charter a small caravel, which arrived at Jamaica on June 29, 1504, and rescued the expedition. Columbus returned home to Spain on November 7, 1504, his last voyage complete. He had been  rescued and returned to Spain just in time for the Columbus Day Sale.

                1671 –Saturday-  Thomas “Captain” Blood, attempted to steal the crown jewels of England. Blood had fought for Oliver Cromwell in Ireland but lost all his lands with the restoration of King Chares II. So, disguised as a priest, he managed to convince the Jewel House keeper (obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer) to hand over his pistols. Blood's three accomplices then appeared, and together they forced their way into the Jewel House. Inconveniently, they were caught red handed when the keeper's son showed up unexpectedly, and sent out an alarm to the Tower guard. One man shoved the Royal Orb down his trousers (“is that the royal orb in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?”) while Blood flattened the Crown with a mallet and tried to run off with it. The Tower guards apprehended and arrested all four of the perpetrators, and Blood was brought before the king. Charles was so impressed with Blood's audacity that, instead of punishing him, he restored his estates in Ireland and made him a member of his court with an annual pension. Captain Blood became a colorful celebrity all across the kingdom, and when he died in 1680 his body had to be exhumed in order to persuade the public that he was actually dead. He reappeared in the movies with swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn starring in the title role.

            1754 –Thursday-  The first newspaper cartoons in America were political in nature and not necessarily humorous.  On this day the first cartoon appeared in Ben Franklin's newspaper The Pennsylvania Gazette.  It was part of an editorial by Franklin commenting on 'the present disunited state of the British Colonies showed a divided snake with the rather unfunny caption of "Join or die".  It depicted a divided snake in eight pieces representing as many colonial governments. The drawing was based on the popular superstition that a snake that had been cut in two would come to life if the pieces were joined before sunset .


            1785 - Joseph Bramah invented the beer-pump handle.  It was based on a prior invention, the hydraulic press.  From his work on the hydraulic press, Bramah went on to invent a pump by which beer or other liquors can be raised from casks in a cellar to the counter over which it is sold. Patented in 1797, his rotary motion pump was subsequently adapted for use in fire engines. More importantly it gets the alcohol from the container into the tap and into your glass. From that point you are on your own.


            1860 –Wednesday-  For those of us who “won’t grow up”, Happy Birthday James Barrie, Scottish  creator of Peter Pan. The play Peter Pan or, The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up was first performed in 1904 and published in 1928. “All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!" This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end”.


1865-Tuesday-  Richard Jordan Gatling received a patent for the Gatling gun. He had invented it in 1861 and it was the first gun to successfully combine reliability, high firing rate and ease of loading into a single device.  It was a six-barreled weapon capable of firing a (then) phenomenal 200 rounds per minute. The Gatling gun was a hand-driven, crank-operated, multi-barrel, machine gun and the first machine gun with reliable loading.  Oddly enough, Gatling was motivated to develop the invention because he noted that most Civil War casualties were the result of illness.  He believed his weapon would allow for fewer troops, hence fewer casualties.  O.K………but then there would also be more dead via bullet so there would be fewer survivors to get sick.

1873-Friday- Happy Birthday, Howard Carter, British archaeologist who made one of the richest and most celebrated contributions to archeological history; the discovery  in 1922 of the largely intact tomb of King Tutankhamen.  Carter began his archaeological work in Egypt in 1891, at the age of seventeen. There he worked on the excavation of Basi Hassan, the gravesite of the princes of Middle Egypt, circa 2000 BC. In 1899 he was offered a position working for the Egyptian Antiquities service, from which he resigned as a result of an incident in which a drunken French tourist got into a dispute with Egyptian workers over the correct recipe for Ful Mudammas.  Carter had them kicked off the site.  Carter was introduced, in 1907, to Lord Carnarvon, who was prepared to supply the funds necessary for Carter's work to continue. Soon, Carter was supervising all of Lord Carnarvon's excavations. Lord Carnarvon financed Carter's search for the tomb of a previously unknown Pharaoh, Tutankhamun, whose existence Carter had discovered. On  November 4th, 1922 Carter found Tutankhamun's tomb, the only unplundered tomb of a Pharaoh yet found in the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor.

1882-Tuesday- A stethoscope that looks like the stethoscope that we all know and love – including the cold metal pieces at the end- was patented by William F. Ford.  The stethoscope was invented in 1816 by the French physician René Théophile Hyacinthe Laënnec who is generally (yes, another in a long list of “fathers of”) considered to be the father of chest medicine.  In 1850, George Camman substituted rubber for stiffer materials and made a more comfortable model—the forerunner of today's stethoscopes.  

            1914-Saturday -  The first official “Mother’s Day” as  President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation that officially established the first national Mother’s Day holiday to celebrate America’s mothers. The idea for a “Mother’s Day” is credited by some to Julia Ward Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, who tried to establish a “Mother’s for Peace” day and by others to Anna Jarvis - the elder Anna Jarvis who influenced Mrs. Howe- and her daughter Anna Jarvis. Whosever idea it was, the first Mother's Day was celebrated in West Virginia in 1907 in the church where the elder Anna Jarvis had taught Sunday School. By 1909 Mother's Day services were held in 46 states plus Canada and Mexico but it was not until Wilson lobbied Congress in 1914 that Mother’s Day was officially set on the second Sunday of every May (even though this first one was on a Saturday). In his first Mother’s Day proclamation, Wilson stated that the holiday offered a chance to "[publicly express] our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." And, “if your mother had no children it is highly unlikely that you will have children.”

1926-Sunday- The first men to fly over the North Pole were Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett.  Actually S.Claus already had frequent flyer rights to that route. Roald Amundsen, the first man ever to reach the South Pole, had announced he would be crossing over the North Pole in a dirigible.  Byrd made his attempt. Flying with Floyd Bennett in the Josephine Ford, named after the daughter of a major contributor to his expedition, Byrd met with success……according to Byrd. He said that he and Bennett flew over the North Pole, despite having developed a dangerous oil leak. When they arrived back at the Spitsbergen airfield much earlier than expected and announced his feat, skeptics voiced their doubts (sort of like Rosie Ruiz in the Boston Marathon. Spitzbergen is is a Norwegian island, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.

            1931 –Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Vance Brand, American astronaut.  One of the 19 pilot astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966, Brand flew on four space missions; Apollo-Soyuz, the flight that resulted in the historic meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. STS-5, STS 41-B, and STS-35. He logged 746 hours in space and commanded three Shuttle missions. The STS 41-B mission (Challenger) resulted in a space microbe being lodged in the protective tiles. On landing, after exposure to the super heated conditions of re-entry, the microbe mutated into a virus that causes the disease Studentitis Procrastinatitus Deceasedium Relativium, which results in students putting off projects until the last minute and then asking the teacher for more time because the untimely demise of a relative caused the failure to do the work.

            1934-Wednesday Strong winds carried away 250,000,000 tons of dry, parched top soil from the plains of Wyoming and Montana.  Whatever goes up, must come down. And where did all that soil come down? The soil was swept eastward toward the Dakotas and would eventually cover much of the nation, causing extensive damage and depositing soil dust over much of the eastern regions. By late afternoon, the storm had reached Dubuque, Iowa and Madison, Wisconsin and headed for Chicago. By evening, the black blizzard began depositing 12 million pounds of dust on Chicago -- four pounds for each resident in the city. By midday on May 10 Buffalo, New York, usually whitened with snow, was  darkened by dust and then the advancing gloom (think storm front at the end of The Terminator) front stretched southward over several states at speeds of upwards of 100 mph (160 km/h). By dawn of  May 11, the dust cloud dust had covered Boston, New York, Washington and Atlanta before moving out to sea where ships 300 miles (500 km) offshore would be covered with dust.


           1945-Wednesday- Herman Goering, fat, bloated, drug addicted mass murderer, art thief, commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, president of the Reichstag, head of the Gestapo, prime minister of Prussia, and Hitler's designated successor was captured  by the U.S. Seventh Army in Bavaria. He was put on trial at Nuremburg, sentenced to death and committed suicide by swallowing cyanide shortly before his scheduled execution.

                1960-Monday- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a pill as safe for birth control use.  In 1953, Margaret Sanger, the famous birth control crusader and eugenicist, had given Dr. Gregory Pincus $150,000 to continue his prior research and develop a safe and effective oral contraceptive for women. The FDA approved the contraceptive called Enovid, available only through prescription and recommended that women take one tablet daily for 20 days each month. The cost of a month’s supply was $10.80. Dr. Pincus had also been working on light-weight chastity belts. By 1964 over four  million women were "on the pill" must have been a very big pill indeed to have all those women on it.

            1961 –Tuesday-  Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton N. Minow condemned TV programming as a ''vast wasteland'' in a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters.  Can you imagine what he would say if he saw contemporary television programming now?

            1962 –Wednesday-  A laser beam was bounced off the moon from earth by MIT scientists. The area of the light beam on the surface was estimated at a diameter of 4 miles.  It was called Project "Luna See," and headed by Professor Louis D. Smullin and Dr. Giorgio Fiocco. They had successfully demonstrated the high-power optical technology by being the first to bounce a laser beam off the moon's surface. High-intensity red light flashes were created by an optical laser, sent through a transmitting telescope to the moon's surface, and detected with an optical receiver. This was the first time that space had been spanned by a laser light.  The light did show a then peculiar life form oozing on the Moon’s surface.  It was later identified as Vladimir Putin.

            1973 –Wednesday-  Dietary alert! The premiere of Soylent Green starring Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor Young,  Edward G. Robinson (in his chuckling elder statesman mode), Chuck Connors (The Rifleman), Joseph Cotton, Dick Van Patten, and the great Whit Bissell (we do not understand why there has never been a Whit Bissell Film Festival Directed by Richard Fleisher the plot involved a New York police detective (Heston) finding himself marked for murder by government agents when he got too close to a bizarre state secret involving the origins of a revolutionary and needed new foodstuff (pancreas crapes)….you’ll never guess what it was made of………..would you?

            1978-Tuesday-  The bullet-riddled (all accounts feature “bullet ridden” – the poor man was shot numerous times) body of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro, who had been kidnapped by the  Marxist-Leninist  terrorist Red Brigades, was found in the trunk of an automobile in the center of Rome.  In March, the  kidnappers killed Moro's five police guards and abducted him. In letters to the government, newspapers, and Moro's family the kidnappers demanded the release from jail of 13 terrorist leaders awaiting trial or sentencing.  The government and the political parties rejected the kidnappers' demands.

            1980 –Friday “ I think we make a left turn here and…….whoops!” A Liberian freighter hit the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay in Florida. Thirty five motorists, were killed as a  1,400-foot section of the bridge collapsed. The collapsed section was 140 feet high. One car was seen hanging over the edge of the torn bridge but its four occupants crawled to safety. Not so fortunate were the passengers of a Greyhound Bus that went sailing over the edge.  The following day, the search for bodies had to be called off as divers were in danger of being attacked by sharks attracted by the blood in the water.

            1989- Tuesday- Only the Mets!  NY Mets Kevin Elster, made his first error after 88 errorless games at shortstop. Catcher Rick Cerone was so thrilled with this turn of events that he made his first error in 159 games. The Mets actually won the game, beating the Cincinnati Reds 3-1.

            1996 –Thursday  “And perhaps you’d like to purchase this lovely bridge in Brooklyn”.  In video testimony to a courtroom in Little Rock, AR, scandal ridden Presidential horn dog and ever truthful, Bill Clinton insisted that he had nothing to do with a $300,000 loan in the criminal case against his former Whitewater partners. Independent counsel Ken Starr would later successfully prosecute Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and the Clintons' partners in Whitewater, Jim and Susan McDougal, and won guilty pleas from or convictions of 12 other people.

            2000 –Tuesday-  Copying is a wonderful thing
Make ya smile through the pouring rain
Love is a wonderful thing
I'll say it again and again
Turn your world into one sweet dream
Take your heart and make it sing
Copying, copying, is a wonderful thing
Inducting bombastic wailer Michael Bolton into the George Harrison Plagiarism Hall of Fame, a U.S. federal appeals court upheld a $5.4 million jury decision that Bolton had plagiarized parts of the song Love is a Wonderful Thing. The original song, of the same name, was released in 1966 by the Isley Brothers.  The $5.4 million award was calculated on the basis of 66% of past and future royalties being owed to the Isley Brothers. It also took into account 28% of past and future royalties from Bolton’s 1991 album Time, Love and Tenderness, on which the song appears and which had sold 6.7 million copies in the US to date.

            2002 –Thursday-  The 38-day stand-off and desecration in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem came to an end when the Muslims inside, who had been using priests and nuns as human shields in the most sacred location for Christianity,  agreed to have thirteen suspected terrorists among them deported to several different countries. The Muslims had contemplated converting to Zoroastrianism, Seventh Day Adventism, Druidism, and the worship of  Pamela Sue Anderson before making their attack on the church.

2020- May 4, 2010Dawn, go away I'm no good for you
Oh, Dawn, stay with him he'll be good to you
Hang on, Hang on to him
:…….The Four Seasons…. The spacecraft Dawn began climbing away from the sun, beyond Mars, on its way to its first destination, asteroid Vesta. Dawn will enter "standard orbit" around this rocky world for a year, exploring its mysteries. Then Dawn will do something unprecedented in real-world spaceflight: exit the orbit of one distant body, and fly to and orbit another. The second destination is asteroid Ceres.  Dawn will be the first spacecraft ever built to orbit two target bodies after leaving Earth.

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10.     1291 –Thursday-Big mistakes in Scottish history number 1,478.  When King Alexander III went kaput without an heir, there were two main claimants to the throne, Robert Bruce (father of Robert the Bruce and his cousin, Lenny the Bruce) and John Balliol. It was decided that Alexander's only surviving descendant, his three-year-old granddaughter Margaret, would ascend to the throne under a regency of six nobles. Margaret, the “Fair Maid of Norway” (historical note, the Scots love their “fair maids”, they appear over and over again in history) was betrothed to English King Edward I’s son (who would become the testeronically challenged Edward II). Unfortunately, “the Fair Maid” went kaput on the boat ride from Norway to Scotland.  With the “Fair Maid’s” kapution, there were now fourteen claimants to the throne. The nobles asked Edward to step in and in doing so recognized the authority of the King of England setting off hundreds of years of war and more Scottish mistakes.

            1503 –Sunday-  Christopher Columbus visited the Cayman Islands, bought some sea shell jewelry, took limbo lessons, tried parasailing, and enjoyed drinks with little umbrellas in them. He named them Las Tortugas after the numerous sea turtles there and wrote the song We Shell Overcome.

            1768 –Tuesday-  Journalist John Wilkes was imprisoned as an outlaw.  He had published The North Briton, a newspaper that severely attacked King George III and his Prime Minister.  The arrest provoked violence in London as a protesting crowd chanted 'Wilkes and Liberty', 'No Liberty, No King', and 'Damn the King! Damn the Government! Damn the Justices! No More Jude Law Movies!.”  Fearing that the crowd would attempt to rescue Wilkes, the troops opened fire killing seven people. Anger at the Massacre of St. George's Fields led to more disturbances all over London. In 1774 Wilkes was elected to parliament as a member for Middlesex. Remember the name John Wilkes.  It will reappear again this month in the entry for 1838.

            1774-Tuesday- King Louis XVI ascended the throne of France. We note that monarchs ascend thrones.  They do not Louis, a member of the the How to Lose Your Throne Through Arrogance and Stupidity school of monarchy (the day the Bastille was seized by revolutionaries, he wrote in his diary, "Rien," "Nothing happened.") would lose his kingdom and his head on January 21, 1793.  At first Louis entrusted the management of the finances of the kingdom to Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune Turgot. As long as the king followed his minister's advice, the state of the kingdom was improved. Unfortunately, was repeatedly under the influence of the frivolous and extravagant queen, Marie Antoinette.   He was also swayed by his selfish courtiers, who opposed any financial reforms.  After awhile they persuaded the king to dismiss his minister Turgot.

            1775 –Wednesday- A big day for the American Revolution and the new Government as the British held Fort Ticonderoga in New York was captured by a small Colonial militia led by Ethan Allen (his Green Mountain Boys) and Colonel Benedict Arnold. They had sailed across Lake Champlain and surprised the sleeping garrison before dawn and made them purchase overpriced Ethan Allen furniture.  The site looks over Lake Champlain at a point where it narrows and the shore of Vermont was just a cannon shot away.  On the same day, Representatives from the 13 colonies began  the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.  The Second Continental Congress was presided over by John Hancock, and included some of the same delegates as the first, but with such notable additions as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. All of the colonies sent delegates, although the Georgia delegation did not arrive until fall. The  radical element that included John Adams, Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee would eclipse the more conservative faction represented by John Dickinson. However, many of the delegates expected at the outset, that the rupture between colony and mother country would be healed.

            1837Wednesday-  The Panic of 1837 – no,  it wasn’t a Zombies attack humans movie starring Vincent Price and Jamie Lee Curtis, nor was it the discovery that hemlines were uneven at the Oscar de La Renta Fall Fashion preview,  it was one of the most devastating economic crisis in the nation's history and it  was the direct result of an ongoing battle between states rights president Andrew Jackson and advocates of a federal financial institution.  The whole affair, which seemed gornisht helfn, fell on incoming President Martin Van Buren. The panic not only ruined hundreds of banks, but it wiped out the scores small businesses and farmers had heavily relied on the support of local fiscal institutions. Unemployment climbed to unprecedented peaks. In New York, the militia had to be called in to keep order on Wall Street……now THAT would be a good movie.  We can see the money managers using their suspenders as sling shots to fight off the militia…… All told, the Panic of 1837 stretched on for seven years until the great James K. Polk became president.

1838 –Thursday- Happy Birthday - John Wilkes Booth, (named after John Wilkes the British journalist of the 1768 entry above) American actor and assassin of Abraham Lincoln. Booth followed in the acting footsteps of his father Junius and his brother Edwin. Booth was a vocal supporter of the South during the Civil War. On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was attending a performance of the comedy, Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. Lincoln’s bodyguard inexplicably left his post (sort of like when Albert Anastasia’s bodyguard left the barber shop at the Park Sheraton Hotel while Albert was getting a shave).  At about ten o'clock Booth entered the theater, shot Lincoln, and jumped to the stage, (breaking his leg) shouting "Sic semper tyrannis! (Latin for 'Thus ever to tyrants!') The South is avenged!" Lincoln died the next morning.

1852 –Monday-  The  theory of valence was announced by English chemist Sir Edward Frankland. The theory states that any atom can combine with a certain, limited number of other atoms. This remains fundamental to the understanding of chemical structure.  In 1962, John Wayne, James Stewart, and Lee Marvin starred in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence….but there wasn’t much chemical structure, although when shots were fired they were usually “atom”.

1860-Thursday-  " We have come to praise Caesium, not Barium". The discovery of the element caesium was announced by German chemists, Robert Bunsen – who had developed the Bunsen Burner in 1855- and Gustav Robert Kirchoff to the Berlin Academy of Scientists. It was first noticed by its characteristic sky blue spectral lines, for which color was named.  Caesium is a  soft, gold-colored metal that is quickly attacked by air and reacts explosively in water. It is used in industry as a catalyst promoter, to make special glass, and in radiation monitoring equipment. The ‘caesium clock’ (atomic clock) is the standard measure of time

            1863 –Sunday- General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson died of pneumonia a week after losing his arm when his own troops accidentally fired on him during the Battle of Chancellorsville. He died at a field hospital near Guiney Station, VA, approximately 30 miles from the battlefield at Chancellorsville.  While most of Jackson is buried in Lexington Va., his  amputated arm was buried by the Rev. Beverly Tucker Lacy in his family burial plot at "Ellwood," the Lacy family estate (15 miles west of Fredericksburg) that was located about one mile from the field hospital where Jackson was initially treated. The land is now owned by the National Park Service and there is a marker (with finger pointing?) noting the location of the arm.

            1865 –Wednesday-  Jefferson Davis, president of the defeated Confederate government, was captured with his wife and entourage near Irwinville in southern Georgia, by a detachment of the 4th Michigan Union General James H. Wilson's cavalry. Davis and his entourage, hoping to continue the war in the western Confederacy were barely a day ahead of pursuing Union troops.  At least they thought they were a day ahead…….oops. They awakened the morning of the 10th to find themselves surrounded by the “boys in blue”.  Through some confusion President Davis made a quick dash toward the creek. He had thrown his wife's raglan, or overcoat, on his shoulders. This led to the persistent rumor that he attempted to flee in women's clothes. A popular song of the era was Jeff in Petticoats, and the major tabloids featured artists' renderings of the fallen leader dressed in everything from a wig to a hoop skirt.

            1869-Monday- Driving that train, high on cocaine,
Casey Jones YOU BETTER, watch your speed.
Trouble ahead, trouble behind,
And you know that notion just crossed my mind.
This old engine makes it on time,
Leaves Central Station 'bout a quarter to nine,
Hits River Junction at seventeen TWO,
At a quarter to ten you know it's DRIVIN' again……
Grateful Dead…….The first coast to coast railway was completed.  The golden spike was driven in Promontory Point, Utah.  We recommend  Nothing Like It In the World:  The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869 by Stephen E. Ambrose.  The Union Pacific Railroad, a corporation formed for the venture, built the eastern half of the line starting in Nebraska. The Central Pacific Railroad, owned by a group of California entrepreneurs including Collis Huntington and Leland Stanford, would build the western half. In a true spirit of cooperation, the two lines could not agree on a site for the connection so they continued to build railroad lines past each other (!!!).  Finally, Government engineers stepped in and selected Promontory Summit, Utah, for the connection. In a ceremony that included the driving of a symbolic golden railroad spike, the two lines linked on this day seven years ahead of schedule.

               1876-Wednesday-  The first electric turnstile with ratchet (inspired by the Eagles’ Hotel CaliforniaWe are programmed to receive.
 You can checkout any time you like,But you can never leave!
) in the U.S. was displayed along with such handy items as the Gatling Gun for Naval Use,
 the Campbell Printing Press, a Gold Pen Exhibit, Police Nippers (pliers or pincers, used for squeezing…..not policemen who bite) and Clubs, Cutlery, a
 description of the Process of  
Needle-Making, the Buckeye Mower and Reaper, the Dexter Carriage and and  General Washington's Carriage) at the
Centennial Exhibition  in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1877-Thursday-   President Rutherford B. Hayes had the White House’s first telephone installed in the mansion’s telegraph room. President Hayes rarely received phone calls…..mainly due to the fact the telephone had just been invented by Bell in 1876 and not many folks had phones.  He enjoyed ordering pizza deliveries on Saturday nights. However, Hayes loved to text his friends and eventually embraced Twitter.  In fact, the Treasury Department possessed the only other direct phone line to the White House at that time. Oh, there were no area codes so the White House phone number was “1.” Fifty years later, President Herbert Hoover had the first telephone line installed at the president's desk in the Oval Office.

1893 – We know you worry about these things and so does your Supreme Court. On this day The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Nix v. Hedden that a tomato is a vegetable, not a fruit. This dispute had arisen because of the Tariff Act of 1883 in which the plaintiff had refused to pay the tariff claiming a tomato is a fruit.

However…………………. Thanks to the AskOxford………Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower, and contain the seeds of the plant (though cultivated forms may be seedless). Blueberries, raspberries, and oranges are true fruits, and so are many kinds of nut (see gossip pages of your local newspaper). Some plants have a soft part which supports the seeds and is also called a 'fruit', though it is not developed from the ovary: the strawberry is an example. The tomato, though technically a fruit, is often used as a vegetable, and a bean pod is also technically a fruit. The term 'vegetable' is more generally used of other edible parts of plants, such as cabbage leaves, celery stalks, and potato tubers, which are not strictly the fruit of the plant from which they come. Occasionally the term 'fruit' may be used to refer to a part of a plant which is not a fruit, but which is used in sweet cooking: rhubarb, for example. So a tomato is the fruit of the tomato plant, but can be used as a vegetable in cooking.  Got it?

1898-Tuesday-  “Who knows where or vend?”  A vending machine law was enacted in Omaha, NE. It cost $5,000 for a permit. During the early 1880s, the first commercial coin-operated vending machines were introduced in London, England and dispensed post cards. In 1888, the Thomas Adams Gum Company introduced the very first vending machines to the United States. The machines were installed on the elevated subway platforms in New York City and sold Tutti-Fruiti gum.

1898-Tuesday-  Happy Birthday- Rudolf Schoenheimer German-American biochemist who discovered the continual turnover of body protein - dynamic equilibrium. Schoenheimer was famous for his  technique of "tagging" molecules with radioactive isotopes made it possible to trace the paths of organic substances through animals and plants.  He would sneak up begind a molecule, stick on a radioactive isotope and gleefully yell, “You’re it!”

1900- Happy Birthday, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, English-born American astronomer who was the first to conclude that hydrogen and helium are the two most common elements in the universe…..and we thought it was hydrogen and stupidity.  She correctly posited that silicon, carbon, and other common metals seen in the sun were found in about the same relative amounts as on earth but the helium and particularly hydrogen were vastly more abundant (by about a factor of one million in the case of hydrogen). At the time, scientists believed the Sun to be 65% iron. Payne-Gaposchkin was a twenty five year old graduate student when she proposed her theory.  Scientific dinosaurs in the Astronomy Department at Harvard convinced her to retract her findings on stellar hydrogen and publish a far less definitive statement.  It was another 20 years before Payne's original claim was confirmed, by astronomer  Fred Hoyle.

1902 –Saturday-  Happy Birthday, David O. Selznick producer of Gone With the Wind. As a studio executive during the first half of the 1930s, he was responsible for the making of such classics as King Kong (1933) at RKO and A Tale of Two Cities (1935) at MGM. As an independent producer from 1936-1957,  he made Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Prisoner of Zenda, A Star Is Born (the first one – not the Kris Kristofferson, Barbra Streisand disaster), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Intermezzo. O. Selznick also brought Alfred Hitchcock to the United States. Their first film together was Rebecca. After his death, he went on to make such films a Gigli, Heaven’s Gate, and Town and Country.

            1924 –Saturday-  We’re not sure if he brought his dresses but John (aka J.) Edgar Hoover was named acting director of the Bureau of Investigation (now the FBI) on this day beginning his sometime bizarre 48-year tenure.

            1954 –Monday Rock Around the Clock  by Bill Haley and His  Comets was  released. Originally recorded by Sunny Dae in 1952, Haley’s version barely made the best selling charts, creeping up to number 23. A year later, the song would become  the first rock and roll record to reach number 1. In 1955 the producers of Blackboard Jungle, starring Glen Ford, Anne Francis, Vic Morrow as the bad juvenile delinquent and Sidney Poitier as the good juvenile delinquent, selected the song as the movie's opening music. The song  made the movie and the movie made the song as sales of Rock Around the Clock skyrocketed, selling six million copies by the end of 1955.

            1955 –Tuesday-   The second assassin birthday of the month (see John Wilkes Booth, 1838) Mark David Chapman.  Chapman shot and killed Beatle John Lennon on December 8, 1980, outside the Dakota Apartments in New York City.

            1960-Tuesday-  The U.S.S Triton – the fifth U.S naval vessel to have that name-completed the first undersea voyage around the world. Actually, they did have to surface briefly, when she transferred a sick sailor to heavy cruiser Macon off Montevideo, Uruguay, on March 5.  The Triton had sailed from New London Ct. on Feb. 16. The Triton, as you may have guessed, was a nuclear powered submarine. During its maiden voyage it battle with a giant squid, Captain Nemo in the Nautilus, and Al Sharpton in a Speedo.

            1969-Saturday-  The Turtles and the Temptations performed at the White House birthday party for President Richard Nixon's bromidic daughter, Tricia.  Mark Volman of the Turtles fell off the stage five times.  We presume the Turtles performed a greatest hits set including, Let Me Be, Bob Dylan’s It Ain’t Me Babe, Eleanor, and the irksome, mind numbing, treacly, Happy Together.  The Temptations had replaced David Ruffin with Dennis Edwards in 1968, even so, Edwards continued to perform Temptations classics so we presume the set included; My Girl, Ain’t to Proud to Beg, Get Ready, and You’re My Everything. Considering it was the Nixons and 1969, we’re not sure if they performed their first foray into psychedelia, Cloud Nine. 

            1975 –Saturday- The American premiere of the great Monty Python and the Holy Grail . Starring Graham Chapman as King Arthur / Voice of God / Middle Head / Hiccoughing Guard,  John Cleese as Second Swallow-Savvy Guard / The Black Knight / Peasant 3 / Sir Lancelot, the Brave / Taunting French Guard / Tim the Enchanter,   Eric Idle as  Dead Collector / Peasant 1 / Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir Launcelot / First Swamp Castle Guard / Concorde / Roger the Shrubber / Brother Maynard,  Terry Gilliam as Patsy / Green Knight / Old Man from scene 24 (Bridgekeeper) / Sir Bors / Animator / Gorrilla Hand,  Terry Jones as   Dennis's Mother / Sir Bedevere / Left Head / Voice of Cartoon Scribe / Prince Herbert, and  Michael Palin as First Swallow-Savvy Guard / Dennis / Peasant 2 / Right Head / Sir Galahad the Pure / Narrator / King of Swamp Castle / Brother Maynard's Brother / Leader of The Knights who say NI! and directed by Gilliam and Jones, the movie focused on King Arthur and his knights searching for the Holy Grail.
     King Arthur: [after Arthur's cut off both of the Black Knight's arms] Look, you stupid Bastard. You've got no arms left.
            Black Knight: Yes I have.
            King Arthur: *Look*!
           Black Knight: It's just a flesh wound.
            Sir Bedevere: ...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped.
            King Arthur: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.
            King of Swamp Castle: Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who.

            1979-Thursday-  In a shocking experience, a potential difference of 32.0 million volts, the highest ever generated, was produced by the National Electrostatics Corporation at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Tennessee. “I  just turned on  the toaster, microwave, coffee maker, electric crock pot, and Lionel Train set in at the same time” said a puzzled technician.

            1994 –John Wayne Gacy kaput. Fourteen years after pronouncing the death penalty, the state of Illinois finally got around to executing, by lethal injection,  convicted serial killer John Wayne Gacy for the gruesome murders of 33 young men and boys.

            2003 –Saturday-  The May 2003 tornado outbreak was a series of tornado outbreaks that occurred from May 3 to May 11, 2003 but this day was rather gusty as there were over sixty sitings.  There were 401 tornado reports in 19 states, 1,587 reports of large hail, 740 reports of wind damage and a house that landed on a witch.

 Back to Calendar


This is National Windmill Day in the Netherlands.  Well actually, its National Windmill and Pumping Station Day, and it is held to celebrate the windmill’s vital role in draining the lowlands of the country. Many of the windmills – “molens” in Dutch – are decked out in flowers, garlands, figures of angels or the Dutch flag and opened to the public. Historic pumping stations can also be visited. There were once more than 10,000 molen, but only about one tenth of them have survived to this day. So in this case it is not “the molen the merrier”. These are spread throughout the lowlands but some of them are in or near Amsterdam.  Mills which take part in the event display blue banners and set their sails in motion. In America, the doors to the U.S Senate are left open and wind can travel across the Atlantic

            330- Sunday- Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul not Constantinople
Been a long time gone
Old Constantinople's still has Turkish delight
On a moonlight night
Evr'y gal in Constantinople
Is a Miss-stanbul, not Constantinople
So if you've date in Constantinople
She'll be waiting in Istanbul……
The Four Lads…….Constantinople became the new capital of the Roman Empire the first Christian ruler of the Roman empire, Constantine the Great,  transferred the ancient imperial capital from Rome to the city of Byzantion located on the easternmost territory of the European continent, at a major intersection of east-west trade. The emperor modestly renamed this ancient port city Constantinople ("the city of Constantine") in his own honor. It was also called the "New Rome," owing to the city's new status as political capital of the Roman empire but that was about as successful as New Amsterdam would be.

868 –Friday- The first known dated printed book was the Diamond Sutra, a Buddhist scripture. It was made as a 16-ft scroll with six sheets of text printed from wood blocks and one sheet with a woodcut showing the Buddha with disciples and a pair of cats. The sheets measured 12" by 30" and were pasted together. The date is known from a colophon at the end stating it was "printed on 11 May 868, by Wang Chieh, for free general distribution" and that it was dedicated to his parents. Hidden for centuries in a sealed-up cave in north-west Turkestan, this copy of the Diamond Sutra is the world’s earliest complete survival of a dated printed book. Though written in Chinese, the text is one of the most important sacred works of the Buddhist faith, which was founded in India. This scroll was found in 1907 by the archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein in a walled-up cave at the 'Caves of the Thousand Buddhas', near Dunhuang, in North-West China. It was one of a small number of printed items among many thousands of manuscripts, comprising a library which must have been sealed up in about AD 1000. Although not the earliest example of blockprinting, it is the earliest which bears an actual date. It is now one of the great treasures in the British Library.
Prior to this discovery, the world’s oldest printed book was believed to be Regis Philbin’s Autobiography.

            1310 –Sunday-  Unwittingly spawning and eventual cottage industry of early 21st century thrillers featuring the Knights Templar (usually as villains seeking revenge) Fifty-four members of the Knights Templar were burned at the stake in France for being relapsed heretics.  In most of the other countries -- Portugal, Spain, Germany, Cyprus -- the Templars were found innocent; in Italy, except for a few districts, the decision was the same. But in France the inquisitions, took the facts as established at previous trials, and confined themselves to reconciling the repentant guilty members, imposing various canonical penances extending even to perpetual imprisonment. Only those who persisted in heresy were to be turned over to the secular arm, but, by a rigid interpretation of this provision, those who had withdrawn their former confessions were considered relapsed heretics and thus exuent the  fifty-four Templars. We’ve also seen this date as May 10 and May 12 as well as the 11th so…

            1647 –Saturday Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch governor of New Amsterdam arrived to assume his governorship. He would remain  governor until August 1664 when, in the absence of a declared war, an English fleet forced Stuyvesant's surrender of New Netherland. The province became the property of James, duke of York and renamed New York.

            1811-Saturday- The original Siamese twins, Chang and Eng, were born to Chinese parents in Siam – now Thailand. At age 17, the boys were brought back to America by the showman Abel Coffin, whose associate had initially discovered them in 1824 while they were swimming. In America they toured with P.T. Barnum until their retirement in 1839. The twins settled in North Carolina and became United States citizens. On April 13, 1843, they married two sisters with whom they raised 10 children. The brothers were xiphopagus twins, joined by only a small band of cartilage at the sternum. Their livers were fused but were each independently complete. Through practice they were able to stretch the tissue that connected them and stand side-by-side rather than facing one another. This gave the illusion that they were joined at the side, and even today conjoined twins are frequently depicted as joined side-by-side by a sliver of tissue. Separation of Chang and Eng would have been extremely easy, even with 19th century medical technology.  The twins' fused liver - the only organ the twins shared - is still preserved in formalin at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is exhibited alongside a plaster death-cast of the twins.

            1812 Monday- In London, Spencer Perceval, Prime Minister of Britain since 1809, was assassinated by a lunatic businessman named John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons. Bellingham, who was inflamed by his failure to obtain government compensation for war debts incurred in Russia.  King George III, during one of his sane periods, described Perceval as 'the most straightforward man I have even known'. Trials and sentencing were not quite like the endless delays of today, Bellingham was executed on May 18, one week later.

            1852 –Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Charles W. Fairbanks, Senator from Indiana and the twenty-sixth Vice President of the United States. He was elected Vice President o in 1904 on the Republican ticket with Theodore Roosevelt defeating Democrats Alton B. Parker and Henry Davis and served from March 4, 1905, to March 3, 1909. He sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1916, but lost it to Charles Evans Hughes. Then he won the nomination for vice president Hughes and Fairbanks lost the election to Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Marshall.  And yes, Fairbanks Alaska is named for the Chuckster.  Fairbanks led a commission in 1903 to settle a dispute with Canada over the boundary between British Columbia and the Alaskan panhandle.

            1854-Thursday- Happy Birthday, Ottmar Mergenthaler German-American inventor of the Linotype typesetting machine in1886. The Linotype is regarded as the greatest advance in printing since the development of moveable type 400 years earlier. Mergenthaler  moved to the U.S. in 1872 and at the age of 32, and designed and built his first linotype machine.  As the name implies, the Linotype is a machine that produces a solid "line of type." With it, the two operations of setting and casting type in lead lines were performed simply by touching the keys of a board similar to the keyboard of a typewriter. Mergenthaler’s machine was first used in 1886 by the New York Tribune

            1858 –Tuesday-  Minnesota entered the Union as the 32nd state.  Minnesota is nicknamed the North Star State, Gopher State (and by some “the really cold state with long winters and snow that squeaks when you walk on it”). The state flower is the pink and white lady's-slipper.  The  bird is the  common loon (there are a lot of loons in the state legislature not to mention Minnesota’s penchant for electing wrestlers and comedians to high public office).  The tree is the red pine and the state song is the cryptic "Hail! Minnesota"

            1860 –Friday-  Fed up with Chicken Cacciatore, Chicken Francese, Chicken Parm, and  searching for a new kind of chicken dish, Giuseppe Garibaldi landed at Marsala, Sicily. with his followers, who came to be known as the "Thousand Red Shirts." Influenced by Giuseppe Mazzini, impassioned proponent of Italian nationalism, he participated in a failed republican uprising in Piedmont in 1834. Sentenced to death, he escaped to South America where he took part in a conflict in Brazil, as well as commanded Uruguay's navy in a war with Argentina. Garibaldi even spent some time in Staten Island, New York as the guest of Antonio Meucci who would later invent the prototype of the telephone. He returned to Europe in 1848 to join the war for Italian independence from Austria and France. In Sicily, Garibaldi defeated the Neapolitan troops, essentially conquering the island, and then crossed the Straits of Messina to the Italian mainland. After matching northward, Garibaldi reached Naples and made a triumphant entry into the city which features miles and miles of clothes hanging out to dry outside apartment buildings, on September 7, 1860. The eventual unification of Italy took more than a decade. Garibaldi made several attempts to seize Rome in the mid-1860s, and was captured three times and sent back to his farm.

            1862 –Sunday- The ironclad CSS Virginia was went kaput in the James River northwest of Norfolk, Virginia.  USS Merrimack was a screw frigate of the United States Navy, best known as the captured super structure upon which CSS Virginia was built during the  war and then took part in the Battle of Hampton Roads, often called "the Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack" on March 9, 1862.  When Norfolk fell into Union army hands, the Confederates attempted to sail the Virginia to safety but she ran aground and was scuttled to avoid being captured.  The Monitor fared little better as she foundered, while being towed, off the Cape Hatteras later in 1862.

            1864 –Wednesday- Bang bang, he shot me down
Bang bang, I hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, my baby shot me down.
……Cher or Nancy Sinatra….May 11 proved to be a  bad day for the Confederacy as Confederate general J.E.B  Stuart was shot by a dismounted Union soldier during the Battle of Yellow Tavern.  He died the following day.  He was 31 years old.  James Ewell Brown Stuart was the most famous Confederate cavalryman of the Civil War.  In the Union ranks that day under the overall command of  Philip Sheridan, was George Armstrong Custer of “Little Big Horn” fame.

            1875-Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Harriet Quimby, American aviator, the first female pilot to fly across the English Channel. Although she was the first American woman to become a licensed pilot, her career as a pilot lasted a mere eleven months. On  April 16,  1912 she left England in a 50-hp monoplane lent to her by Louis Blériot. She headed for France in a plane she had never flown before and a compass she had just learned how to use. Despite poor visibility and fog, Quimby landed 59 minutes later near Hardelot, France. Upon landing, she was greeted by the local residents, but the Titanic sinking just days earlier, overshadowed reporting of Quimby's achievement in the world press. She died the same year, on  July 1, 1912, when she lost control of her plane at a flying exhibition near Quincy, Mass.

            1888-Friday-  Happy Birthday, Israel Baline, born in Temun, Russia.  His family moved to New York in 1893 to escape the pogroms in Russia.  In America he changed his name to Irving Berlin and became perhaps the greatest, and certainly the most prolific of American song writers.  During his hundred years he wrote, among many others, God Bless America, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, White Christmas, There’s No Business Like Show Business, Easter Parade, and Inna Gadda Da Vida.

            1904 –Wednesday- There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.”…………Hello “Dali”.  Happy Birthday, Salvador Dali, self promoting surrealistic Spanish artist, sculptor and designer. Among his more famous paintings were: "The Great Masturbator", "The Persistence of Memory", "Premonition of Civil War", and "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bumble Bee".

            1918-Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Richard Feynman, an American theoretical physicist who was probably the most brilliant, influential, and also iconoclastic figure in his field in the post-WW II era. By age 15, he had mastered calculus.  At age 15 Professor Sy Yentz had mastered the TOPPS complete set of Baseball Cards – 1962. He took every physics course at MIT. Professor Sy Yentz took no courses at MIT. His lifelong interested was in subatomic physics. He developed Feynman Diagrams, a simple notation to describe the complex behavior of subatomic particles. In 1965, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for work in quantum electrodynamics.  A Feynman quote: “You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.

            1918 –Saturday-   Alas poor Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus we hardly knew ye.  With the shelf life of ice cream in a broken refrigerator, the Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus was officially established. The republic was created after the collapse of the Russian Romanov empire in the Russian revolution of 1917. Lasting just three years (you didn’t think the Communists would let it be did you?) until 1920, it was situated in the Northern Caucasus. It included most of the territory of the former Terek Oblast and Dagestan Oblast of the Russian Empire ,which now form the republics of Chechnya, (Chechnya we’ve heard of….the others….noop) Ingushetia, , North Ossetia-Alania,
,Kabardino-Balkaria, , Dagestan, and part of Stavropol Krai, of the Russian Federation. W
ith a population of about 1 million. Its capital was initially at Vladikavkaz then Nazran, , and finally Temir-Khan-Shura…or one per year.

            1924-Sunday-  Happy Birthday Antony Hewish ( funny, he doesn't look Hewish). British astrophysicist who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974 for his discovery (with Jocelyn Bell) of pulsars (cosmic objects that emit extremely regular pulses of radio waves). Pulsars were another in a long line of serendipitous scientific discoveries. Hewish was working on a method for identifying quasars through a discovery in the mid 1960s that quasars scintillate (fluctuate in detected intensity of their radio emissions) more than less compact radio sources. Bell was his  Ph.D student.  While busily looking for quasars, they discovered pulsars.

            1928-Friday-  Radio station WGY, in Schenectady, NY, began America’s first regularly scheduled TV broadcasts. The programs lasted from 1:30 to 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Most of the listeners were on the technical staff at nearby General Electric, which had designed the system and was using the broadcasts to watch Judge Judy, re-runs of Gilligan’s Island, and infomercials on how to lose 50 lbs. in 15 minutes Actually they watched to refine its equipment.

            1946-Saturday- "Heart Of My Heart", I love that melody
"Heart Of My Heart" brings back a memory …..
The Four Aces…Happy Birthay Robert Jarvik. The surgeon who invented the Jarvik-7 artificial heart. The first such one was surgically implanted into a patient by William C. DeVries on  December 2,  1982. Made of aluminum and plastic device, it replaced the two lower chambers (ventricles) of the natural heart. 

            1947 –Sunday-  Tubeless tires were introduced by B.F Goodrich. Creating tubeless tires required that cords be synthetic. Rayon was used initially, then nylon, polyester, fiberglass, and steel.  In 1911, Philip Strauss invented the first successful tire, which was a combination tire and air filled inner tube. Strauss' company the Hardman Tire & Rubber Company marketed the tires.  Meanwhile, in 1903, P.W. Litchfield of the Goodyear Tire Company patented the first tubeless tire, however, it was never commercially marketed until the 1954 Packard.

            1949-Wednesday-   The first Polaroid camera was sold in a retail store went for $89.95 in New York City…which was a lot of money in those days.  Edward Land had demonstrated his one-step instant camera and film on Feb. 21, 1947 at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The first Polaroid camera had been sold to the public in November, 1948.

           1949 –Wednesday- We are Siamese if you please
We are Siamese if you don't please
We are from a residence of Siam
There is no finer cat than I am
……Peggy Lee…..Wow! May 11, 330 we have Constantinople later changed to Istanbul and now, on the same day that the first Polaroid camera was sold,  another change as Siam changed its name to Thailand.  Siam was the name of an ancient kingdom in Southeast Asia. It was the only country in the region to avoid European colonization. In 1939, the name of the country was changed to "Thailand," which means "Land of the Free" in the Thai language. Thailand was an ally (some claim reluctant) of Japan in World War II. After the war, the name of the country was changed back to "Siam" to distance the country from its wartime association with Japan. This lasted until May 11, 1949, when the name of the country once more was officially changed to "Thailand."  Got it? Note that this was also the day (in 1811 ) that the Siamese Twins were born but we don’t think that had anything to do with changing the name of the country.

            1949 –Wednesday- The body of Leon Besnard was exhumed in Loudun, France, by authorities searching for evidence of poison. For years, local residents had been suspicious of his wife Marie, as they watched nearly her entire family conk off one by one with  untimely and mysterious deaths. Law enforcement officials finally began investigating Marie after the death of her mother earlier in the year. Leon, had been Marie’s accomplice but in 1947 Marie, spiked his wine with a taste of his own medicine. The lady had fallen in love with another man. When old Leon was dug up his body proved toxic. So were the cadavers of those family and in-laws whom she killed. Marie was charged with thirteen counts of murder. With her vast poisonously obtained wealth, she was able to hire France's top defense team (who probably turned down her offers to buy them drinks)  who managed to maneuver three separate trials, between 1951 and 1961, into hung juries.

1957 –Saturday-  Great moments in talent finding history as Buddy Holly and the Crickets auditioned for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and were rejected. Note; he also turned down Elvis Presley. Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts had premiered on television on December 6, 1948. The TV series continued until its final episode on July 20, 1958. Among the contestants on the show were: Tony Bennett, Pat Boone, Lenny Bruce, Roy Clark, Patsy Cline, Rosemary Clooney, Wally Cox, Vic Damone, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis, Don Knotts, Steve Lawrence, The McGuire Sisters, Leslie Uggams, and Jonathan Winters.

1960 –Wednesday-  In Buenos Aires, Argentina, four Israeli Mossad agents captured fugitive Nazi Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann had been living under the assumed name Ricardo Klement after finding that his first alias, Wo Lang Fat, aroused too many questions. Adolf Eichmann was appointed to the Jewish section of the "security services" of the SS. He was deeply involved with the formulation and operation of the "final solution to the Jewish question". He drew up the idea of deportation of Jews into ghettos, and went about concentrating Jews in isolated areas with murderous efficiency. He took great pride in the role he played in the death of 6 million mainly European Jews.  As Eichmann approached his home on Garibaldi Street (see 1860 above) Eichmann passed a car filled with Mossad agents. One of the Mossad operatives said to him "Just a moment" and then pounced on him. Eichmann "let out a terrible yell, like a wild beast caught in a trap…" as he fell to the ground. Then the others pulled the panic-stricken Eichmann into one of the cars. The whole operation had taken less than ten minutes.

1979 –Friday- VisiCalc was given first public demonstration. Daniel Bricklin and programmer Robert Frankston gave the first demonstration of VisiCalc, a program that made a business machine of the personal computer, for the Apple II. VisiCalc (for visible calculator) automated the recalculation of spreadsheets. But I still can’ balance my checkbook.  A huge success, more than 100,000 copies were sold in the first year. VisiCalc was followed by SuperCalc, MultiPlan, Lotus 1-2-3, Calcaseltzer, Calc Ripken, and a host of others, each improving the user interface.

1984 –Friday- A transit of Earth from Mars took place. A transit occurs as a planet passes in front of its star as seen from the direction of Earth. Transits of Earth from Mars usually occur in pairs, with one following the other after 79 years; rarely, there are three in the series. The transits also follow a 284-year cycle. It more than one planet transits it becomes mass transit and planets must purchase an E Z pass to complete the transit. Effects of the Mars transit on Earth included behavior modification of some humans causing them to drink soda for breakfast.

1987 –Monday-  May 11, a bad day for evil as Eichmann was captured and Klaus Barbie went on trial in Lyon for war crimes committed during World War II. Known as the "Butcher of Lyon," was a leader in the SS, and was head of anti-Resistance operations in France during the German occupation of World War II (1935–45). As a war criminal Barbie lived in Bolivia as Klaus Altmann for thirty years before he was arrested and returned to France for trial. Barbie was imprisoned for life in 1987 for crimes including the murders of at least four Jews and Resistance workers and fifteen thousand deportations to death camps. He was the last German war criminal of rank to be tried. Barbie died of cancer in a prison hospital in Lyon on September 25, 1991.

1995-Scientists confirmed that Ebola, one of the world's deadliest viruses, had broken out in Zaire, Africa. The outbreak, in the city of Kikwit, killed about 50, including three Italian nuns who had cared for victims.  Ebola is a  hemorrhagic fever and is one of the deadliest of the viral hemorrhagic fevers. They range in seriousness from relatively mild illnesses to severe and potentially fatal diseases. All forms of viral hemorrhagic fever begin with fever and muscle aches. Depending on the virus, the disease can get worse until the patient becomes very ill with breathing problems, severe bleeding (hemorrhage), kidney problems, and shock. Viral hemorrhagic fevers are caused by viruses from four families: filoviruses, arenaviruses, flaviviruses, and bunyaviruses as well as the Hilton and Lohan families. The usual hosts for most of these viruses are rodents or arthropods (such as ticks and mosquitoes) and stupid progeny. In some cases, the natural host for the virus is not known 

            1996 –Saturday-  Had to happen sooner or later with more and more dilettantes  trying to climb Mt. Everest.  On this day it did. The Everest disaster occurred as in a single day eight people died in a suddent snow storm on Mount Everest during summit attempts. The world learned of this tragedy in two ways. First, the climbs were carefully documented on the internet, on pages which are still maintained by Outside Magazine. Also, the author Jon Krakauer documented these events in for the magazine and later in his book, Into Thin Air. The greedy modern obsession to conquer Mount Everest wascaptured beautifully in the one anecdote about the latest disastrous expedition that killed eight people at the weekend. Rescued climber Sandy Hill Pittman, described as a Manhattan socialite, had taken an espresso coffee machine with her up the mountain.

            1997 –Sunday-  The Deep Blue IBM computer defeated Garry Kasparov to win a six-game chess match between man and machine in New York.  A highlight of the match occurred when Deep Blue IBM said “hey look at that babe in the bikini.”  When Kasparov turned to look, Deep Blue switched rooks. Kasparov later said “ooh, a naked Ipod”. When Deep Blue turned to look, Kasparov pulled the plug.

            2009- Monday-  After a smooth countdown and picture-perfect liftoff, space shuttle Atlantis and a crew of seven astronauts were launched begin their 11-day mission to service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope after months of delays and preparation. Atlantis lifted off Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:01 p.m. EDT. Residual effects from microbes returned to Earth caused a human genome chip abnormality that results in people treating the Earth as an ashtray and tossing their cigarette butts out the car window.


1191 –Sunday- On a social note; King Richard I of England married Berengaria of Navarre. The groom was resplendent in a suit of armor by Calvin Klein.  The bride wore a gown by Vera Wang and a tiara from the Martha Stewart Collection at K-Mart. The reception was held courtesy of Berengaria’s parents, Sancho the Wise of Navarre and Blanche of Castille at Julio’s Medieval Catering and Jousting with music featuring Barry Manilow on the lute.  In a bit of a sordid prelude to this marriage, Richard I of England had been betrothed to Princess Alice of France, sister of King Phillip IV. But Richard's father, Henry II, had hooked up with the teenage Alice and she became his mistress, and church rules therefore forbid the marriage of Alice and Richard. Berengaria is the only Queen of England never to set foot in  England. 

            1328 –Wednesday Antipope (note; there is no record of an uncle pope), Nicholas V, a claimant to the papacy, was consecrated in Rome by the Bishop of Venice. Unfortunately, there already was another Pope at this time, John XXII (1316 - 1334). Nicholas had been selected by German King Louis IV when entered Rome at the head of his army.  Nicholas stayed around to wait on line to visit the Coliseum, buy some t-shirts, and enjoy the orange/chocolate gelato. Unfortunately, once Louis left Rome Nicholas did not have enough support to say and he fled to Avignon where John XXII (the last Pope John until John XXIII in 1958 although there was an antipope John XXIII but he was erased during a popectomy) was merrily “Poping”, surrendered an was allowed to live out his life. 

            1780-Friday-  The worst defeat for the Colonists during  the American Revolution as, a siege that began on April 2, 1780, ended in  the unconditional surrender of Major General Benjamin Lincoln to British Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton and his army of 10,000 at Charleston, South Carolina. There was light at the end of the tunnel however as now, confident of British control in the South, Lieutenant General Clinton happily sailed north to New York (he had front row center tickets to A Chorus Line) after the victory. Clinton, not related to any 20th or 21st century Clintons, otherwise surrogates would have attacked the colonials via the media, had learned of an impending French expedition to the British-occupied northern state. He left General Charles Cornwallis in command of 8,300 British forces in the South. Cornwallis, one of history’s serial failures – he left misery in his wake as Governor General of India, and Viceroy of Ireland-  ultimately surrendered his forces to George Washington in 1783.

            1812 –Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Edward Lear, yes the……………………….

 There was an Old Derry down  Derry,

who loved to see little folks merry;
So he made them a book,

and with laughter they shook

at the fun of that Derry down Derry”, …………………………..limerick fame.

 He was also nature and landscape artist. After achieving recognition for his accurate depictions of parrots, he worked at the estate of the Earl of Denby where he painted the Earl’s menagerie of animals.  His first book, A Book of Nonsense published in 1846 was composed for the grandchildren of the Denby household

            1820-Friday - Happy Birthday, Florence Nightingale, born in Italy and named Florence after the city where she was born (good thing she wasn’t born in Perugia). Her family moved back to England. Nightingale's greatest achievement was to raise nursing to the level of a respectable profession for women. In March 1854 Britain, France and Turkey declared war (The Crimean War) on Russia. The allies defeated the Russians at the battle of the Alma in September but reports in The Times criticized the British medical facilities for the wounded. In response, the Minister at War, Sidney Herbert,  who knew Florence Nightingale socially and through her work at Harley Street, appointed her to oversee the introduction of female nurses into the military hospitals in Turkey. It was during the Crimean War that Nightingale gained the nickname "The Lady with the Lamp". In 1860, with the public subscriptions from  the “Nightingale Fund”, she established the Nightingale Training School for nurses at St Thomas' Hospital. In her honor, this date has been designated as National Hospital Day. She also had a lifelong love of mathematics and the teaching of mathematics.  She developed the "polar-area diagram" to dramatize the needless deaths caused by unsanitary conditions and the need for reform. With her analysis, Florence Nightingale revolutionized the idea that social phenomena could be objectively measured and subjected to mathematical analysis. She was an innovator in the collection, tabulation, interpretation, and graphical display of descriptive statistics which lead to improvements in medical and surgical practices.     

1847 –Wednesday-  Mormon William Clayton invented the odometer. Clayton called it the roadometer, attached it to a wagon wheel and counted the revolutions of the wheel as the wagon traveled. It was built with Clayton’s specification by carpenter Appleton Milo Harmon. William Clayton got the idea for his invention from i his first method of recording the distance the pioneers travelled each day. Clayton had determined that 360 revolutions of a wagon wheel made a mile, he then tied a red rag to the wheel and counted the revolutions to keep an accurate record of the mileage traveled. The odometer was not a new idea, about 15 BC, the Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius mounted a large wheel of known circumference in a small frame, in much the same fashion as the wheel is mounted on a wheelbarrow; when it was pushed along the ground by hand it automatically dropped a pebble into a container at each revolution, giving a measure of the distance traveled. It was, in effect, the first odometer. Then Chang Heng, the inventor of the known seismograph, also invented an odometer that had a figure that struck a drum as each li or 0.5 km went by to measure distance and mathematician Blaise Pascal (invented a prototype of an odometer, a calculating machine called a pascaline. The pasacaline was constructed of gears and wheels. Each gear contained 10 teeth that when moved one complete revolution, advanced a second gear one place. This is the same principal employed in the mechanical odometer.

We note that none of them knew about the place on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx where the guy will turn back your odometer before you sell your car.

1857-Tuesday-  Happy Birthday Oscar Bolza (brother of Rose Bolza, Orange Bolza, and Chick-a-Fee Peach Bolza), German mathematician and educator who was particularly noted for his work on the reduction of hyperelliptic to elliptic integrals (by administering Ritalin to the hypereliptic) and for his original contributions to the calculus of variations.  He also liked to watch Jeopardy on television and used to call out the answers when the category was mathematics.

1863 –Tuesday- Happy Birthday,  Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky,  Russian geochemist and mineralogist who was a  founding father (yes, another “father of…”)of several new disciplines, including geochemistry (the chemistry of the earth's crust), biogeochemistry (the organic chemistry of compounds and processes occurring in organisms), and radiogeology (comparison between the observed abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products). He was the first to popularize the concept of the noosphere (no, its not a phobia about hanging) the biosphere controlled by the mind of man.

1864 –Thursday-  At Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, occurred the most brutal day in one of the most brutal battles of the Civil War. On May 10, Grant began to attack Lee's position at Spotsylvania. By the 12th Grant was convinced that a weakness existed at the bend of the Confederate line. He sent General Winfield Scott Hancock's troops and overran the Rebel trenches, taking nearly 3,000 prisoners and more than a dozen cannons. While the “Blues” erupted in celebration, the Confederates counterattacked and began to drive the Federals back. The battle raged for over 20 hours through pouring rain along the center of the Confederate line—think of the top of an inverted U—which became known as the "Bloody Angle." Lee's men eventually constructed a second line of defense behind the original Rebel trenches, and fighting ceased just before dawn on May 13. It was the longest sustained hand-to-hand fight of the entire war and afterwards  the dead soldiers lay five deep, and bodies had to be moved from the trenches to make room for the living.

            1870-Thursday-  Manitoba entered the confederation as a Canadian province. Not to be outdone by Minnesota, “the land of 10,000 lakes”, Manitoba is called “the land of 100,000 lakes” (which probably means it has more lakes than people). Manitoba was, in all likelihood, named for the manitobau, a Cree Indian spirit who supposedly lives in Lake Manitoba. It was called called the "Postage Stamp" province (1/18 current size.) In  1912 the final boundary change occurred and (North 60º) brought the province, capitol is Winnepeg, to its  current Manitoba size.

 1874-Tuesday-  Black inventor, Elijah McCoy  patented an ironing table. McCoy was so well-known for his many useful inventions that his name is used in expression "the real McCoy." He was issued more than 57 patents for his inventions during his lifetime. His best known invention was a cup that fed lubricating oil to machine bearings through a small bore tube.  Machinists demanded the lubricating process invented by McCoy, hence they asked for the “real McCoy”.

1874 –Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Baron Clemens von Pirquet, Austrian physician who originated a skin test for tuberculosis called, eponomously, the Pirquet test. In the Pirquet test, a drop of tuberculin is scratched into the skin; a red, raised area developing at the site (Pirquet reaction) indicates tuberculosis or……, possibly a mosquito bite.

            1895-Sunday- Happy Birthday, William Francis Giauque, Canadian-born American physical chemist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1949. He was awarded the prize for his "achievements in the field of chemical thermodynamics and especially his work on the behavior of matter at very low temperatures – absolute zero.  He noted that at absolute zero matter shivers, wraps a blanket around itself, drinks hot chocolate, prefers to sit in front of the fire, and will drink its Johnny Walker Black neat.  

            1910-Thursday- Happy Birthday, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkins, British Nobel Prize winning biochemist and crystallographer (note to the uninitiated – crystallography has nothing to do with fortune telling). She won the 1964 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "her determination by x-ray techniques of the structures of biologically important molecules." For those of us who’s brains go into open-eye coma at descriptions such as that,  she used x-rays to find the structural layouts of atoms and the overall molecular shape of over 100 molecules including: penicillin, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, and insulin. Hodgkin's improvements using x-ray crystallography elevated the technique to an important analytical tool. (Crystallography is a combination of physics, math, and chemistry.)

1910-Thursday-  Glacier National Park was created by an act of Congress.  Glacier National Park is in northern Montana and  while it  is very  busy and almost fully occupied during the summer months, camping space is usually available in late January and early February.

1916-Friday-  Albert Einstein presented his theory of relativity, E=MC2, which means relatives are always  asking for a favor for someone's brother-in-law or showing up unannounced for a visit.  Einstein’s other theory of relativity was the recognition that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant and an absolute physical boundary for motion. This does not have a major impact on a person's day to day life since we travel at speeds much slower than light speed. For objects traveling near light speed, however, the theory of relativity states that objects will move slower and shorten in length from the point of view of an observer on Earth. Einstein also derived the famous equation, E = mc2, which reveals the equivalence of mass and energy. E (energy) = the speed of light (mc) squared. This means that energy (theoretically) can be extracted from almost anything with mass.  We can extract energy from uranium…..when we can extract it from everyday items  or water, the energy crisis will be resolved.   

1925 –Tuesday-  “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.” Happy Birthday, Yogi Berra, New York Yankee catcher and later left fielder born in St. Louis Mo. He was named the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1951, 1954, and 1955. He played in 14 World Series (1947, 1949–53, 1955–58, and 1960–63), catching in more series games (75) than any other catcher. He hit a home run in his first World Series appearance; he hit 12 World Series home runs in all. After retiring as a player, Berra managed the Yankees in 1964, winning the pennant and losing the World Series, and was fired when the Yankees hired victorious St. Louis Cardinal manager Johnny Keane (big

mistake). . He was the manager of the New York Mets in the National League from  1972–75. Thereafter he was a coach with the Yankees until 1983, when he was once again made their manager. He was disgracefully fired by Yankee owner and bully, George M. Steinbrenner just sixteen games into the 1985 season.  He would not return to the Yankees or Yankee Stadium for decades.

1930-Saturday- The Adler Planetarium in Chicago became the first planetarium to be opened to the public.  During the Century of Progress Exhibition in 1933-34 a million and a half people would the planetarium and museum……sort of like the Museum of Natural History in New York during June, the high season for school field trips.  The fact that its location is on a small island connected to the shore by a causeway on Lake Michigan and offers the best view possible of the Chicago skyline doesn’t hurt either.

1931-Tuesday- The frozen body of Alfred Wegener was found by a search party in Greenland, where he had been on his fourth expedition since 1906 to study the ice cap and its climate. He was last seen alive by his colleagues on his 50th birthday, Nov. 1, 1930, as he left the "Eismitte" research post.  Despite appalling weather and thirteen out of fifteen Greenlanders turning back, Wegener insisted on getting to the Eismitte station. After five weeks, Wegener succeeded in reaching the station. Unfortunately, he froze to death on his return journey to base camp.  Wegener contributed valuable research to the theory of Continental Drift. The theory that about 300 million years ago the continents had formed a single mass, called Pangaea (from the Greek for "all the Earth"). Pangaea had rifted, or split, and its pieces had been moving away from each other ever since. Wegener was not the first to suggest that the continents had once been connected, but he was the first to present extensive evidence from several fields.

1932-Thursday- The body of aviation hero Charles Lindbergh’s 20 month old baby was found  more than two months after he was kidnapped from his family’s Hopewell, New Jersey, mansion.  He had been killed the night of the kidnapping and was found less than a mile from the home.  Kidnapper, Bruno Hauptmann, was captured with some of the ransom money; his handwriting matched that on the ransom note and he had a connection to the type of wood used  for a ladder used in the crime.  He was executed in 1935.

1936-Tuesday-   One of the several hundred answers to “Why are we falling behind in technology?”  The Dvorak typewriter keyboard was patented by efficiency experts August Dvorak (a cousin of the composer Anton) and William Dealey.  They had studied the typewriter and decided that they could arrange the keys in a new way which would speed up its use.  They designed a keyboard to maximize efficiency by placing common letters on the home row, and make the stronger fingers of the hands do most of the work instead of the pinkies. In contrast, the original QWERTY layout was designed for  earlier, less efficient typewriters so that the keys would not jam. You’re probably using a QWERTY keyboard – patented in 1878 - now…unless you are in Europe or Asia or other developed areas.

 1937 –Wednesday-  Following the abdication of loopy, alcoholic, Nazi sympathizing brother Edward VIII so he, Edward, could marry a two-time divorcee of questionable morals, George became  King George VI of England.

            1938 – The premiere (US premiere May 14) of The Adventures of Robin Hood,    directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley,  starring Errol Flynn, Basil  Rathbone, and Olivia    De Havilland, premieres at New York's Radio City Music          Hall. The movie cost $2 million, an extraordinarily large budget at the time. Two    directors?   Michael Curtiz took over from director William Keighley when the  producers felt that the action scenes lacked impact.Errol Flynn IS Robin Hood, right? (No, Kevin Costner doesn’t count). Originally planned with James Cagney  playing the title role, but he quit Warner Brothers and production was postponed  for three years. Take a look at the horse, a golden palomino that Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marion rides in this film. It’s Trigger, shortly before he became the mount of Roy Rogers.

            Robin Hood is/was probably a fictional figure who may have been loosely based            on a real person or persons.  The earliest reference is in Langland's Piers    Plowman (c. 1377), in which one character remarks that he knows the rhymes of    Robin Hood. Robin appears in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe and many other books,        stories and movies. Most Robin Hood stories are set in the era of 1100 - 1300       A.D., and in many he is a defender of the real-life King Richard the Lion-Hearted         (married on this day in 1191 to Berengaria) and enemy of the usurper, Prince     John. Actors who have played Robin Hood on film include Errol Flynn, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, and    Russell Crowe. 

1943 –Thursday-  The German and Italian forces in North Africa surrendered. Things had not looked good for Allied Commander in Chief Dwight Eisenhower’s forces following a defeat in the Battle of Kasserine Pass which drove the Americans and French back about fifty miles in southern Tunisia. However, taking advantage of Erwin Rommel’s absence – recovering from an illness back in Germany, British and American forces under Gen. Harold Alexander and American Gen. George S. Patton Jr.  attacked and pushed Rommel's army into northern Tunisia and the surrender came on this day.

            1963 –Sunday- The Ed Sullivan Show over the years had opera singer Roberta          Peters, who appeared 41 times, Pearl Bailey, who appeared 23 times, Canadian   comedians Wayne and Schuster (we never “got” them), 58 times, comedian Alan King 37 times, the Beatles everal times but never Bob Dylan.  On this day Dylan            walked out of dress rehearsals for The Ed Sullivan Show when CBS censors told   him he could not perform Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues. "No; this is what I           want to do," Dylan said "If I can't play my song, I'd rather not appear on the      show." He then left the studio, walking out on the stint.      

            1965 –The Soviet spacecraft Luna 5 was designed to continue investigations of a          lunar soft landing. Things didn’t go well. A problem developed in a flotation         gyroscope and the spacecraft    began spinning around its main axis. It was brought back under control through the heroic efforts of Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis and    Lorne Greene.  Things got worse.  At the time of the next maneuver, the main         retrorocket system failed due to a ground control error, ( Paris Hilton was giving           the orders) and the spacecraft, though still headed for the Moon, was far off its intended landing site. That pesky gyroscope acted up again and so a retrorocket             burn could not take place and Luna 5 crashed onto  the lunar surface

            1965 Wednesday-  The greatest rock n roll song of all time,  (I Can't Get No)            Satisfaction was recorded by The Rolling Stones. They had begun the session on   May 10. It was released on the American version of Out of Our Heads, released            that July. The song would hit  number one for two weeks, on the Billboard Charts          replacing Sonny & Cher's I Got You Babe (really! We don’t make these things    up……..and that Sonny & Cher opus had replaced………….I’m Henry VIII by Herman’s Hermits) , before being toppled by The Walker Brothers' Make It Easy             on Yourself.(Really, we don’t make these things up). Of course other big          hits       that summer included, Sugar Pie Honey Bunch – The Four Tops, Bob           Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone, The Byrds’ Mr. Tambourine Man, and Barry         McGuire’s Eve of Destruction

            1971 –Wednesday-  In a nice bit of symmetry, ying and yang, coming and going,          back and forth, sunrise, sunset…..Mick Jagger marrieb his first wife, poseur,      Bianca and on   the same day Jerry Lee Lewiswas granted a divorce from cousin       Myra whom he had married when she was        thirteen. “ If ah get divorce,       does     that mean she ain’t mah cousin no more”?

            1978 –Friday- Affirmative Action, Diversity, Multicultural weather in action.     The National Oceanic and             Atmospheric Administration announced that they           would no longer exclusively name hurricanes after women in the Eastern       North   Pacific storm lists. In 1979, male and female names were included in lists           for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.  

            2004-Wednesday- The discovery of what was believed to be the world's oldest seat of learning, the Library of Alexandria, was announced by Zahi Hawass, president of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities during a conference at the University of California. A Polish-Egyptian team had uncovered thirteen lecture halls could house as many as 5,000 students in total. A conspicuous feature of the rooms was a central elevated podium for the lecturer to stand on. So basically, it was a library and “college”. Alexander the Great chose the village as the site of the new capital of his empire. He modestly named it Alexandria.  It was made Egypt's capital in 320 BC and soon became the most powerful and influential city in the region. Its rulers built a massive lighthouse at Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  Ptolomy II in the 3rd century built  B.C, the Library of Alexandria. It was at the library that Archimedes invented the screw-shaped water pump that is still in use today, Eratosthenes measured the diameter of the Earth, and Euclid discovered the rules of geometry. Ptolemy wrote the Almagest – containing the Ptolemaic theory of the Earth centered Solar System at Alexandria. It was the most influential scientific book about the nature of the Universe for 1,500 years.  The library was a busy place indeed. The library was destroyed by fire. There are several suspects, Julius Caesar, Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria and Caliph Omar of Damascus, but most likely is someone whose copy of Linday Lohan, the Real Story was overdue.

            2008 –Monday- A Magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Sichuan, China at 2:28 p.m local time. At least 69,195 people killed, 374,177 injured and 18,392 missing and presumed dead in the Chengdu-Lixian-Guangyuan area. More than 45.5 million people in 10 provinces and regions were affected. At least 15 million people were evacuated from their homes and more than 5 million were left homeless Thanks to typical inferior communist building construction, thousands of the initial quake's victims were children crushed in shoddily built schools, inciting protests by parents. Taking time out from rescue efforts, local police harassed the protestors and the government criticized them. At least one human rights advocate who championed their cause was arrested. An estimated 5.36 million buildings collapsed and more than 21 million buildings were damaged in Sichuan and in parts of Chongqing, Gansu, Hubei, Shaanxi and Yunnan. The earthquake was the result of motion on a northeast striking reverse fault or thrust fault on the northwestern margin of the Sichuan Basin.

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13.      1

             1497 –Thursday-  A Savonarolaectomy ……… Pope Alexander VI excommunicated, rebel priest, Girolamo Savonarola. After the overthrow of the Medici in 1494, which he instigated, Savonarola was the sole leader of Florence. Savonarola was uncompromisingly severe in his condemnation of what he considered the paganism of the times and called for a regeneration of spiritual and moral values and a devotion to asceticism. When Charles VIII of France invaded Italy in 1494 (as Savonarola had predicted), Savonarola supported him, hoping that Charles would lead the way to the establishment of a democratic government in Florence and to the reform of the scandalously corrupt court of Pope Alexander VI. Alexander, the “Borgia Pope”.  Alexander, miffed, ordered Savonarola to refrain from preaching; however, he continued to preach, and the pope excommunicated him for disobedience in 1497.  In March, 1498, the government of Florence, threatened by a papal interdict, also asked him to stop preaching. His ruin came suddenly and Savonarola and two disciples were arrested by the city. Under torture he confessed to being a false prophet……… or so it was announced. The three were hanged in chains from a single cross, forced to watch Queen Latifah movies, and an enormous fire was lit beneath them.

            1568 –Monday-  At the Battle of Langside, the  forces of the conspicuously inept Mary Queen of Scots were defeated by a confederacy of Scottish Protestants under James Stewart, the regent for her son, King James VI of Scotland. The battle was fought in  what are now the southern suburbs of Glasgow. A cavalry charge routed Mary's 6,000 Catholic troops, and they fled the field. Three days later, Mary escaped to Cumberland, England, where she sought protection from Queen Elizabeth I…..big mistake….she was imprisoned until 1587 when one final plot by Catholic sympathizers of Mary implicated Mary herself in the plot and she was kaputed

            1588 –Friday- vermis volvit ……Happy Birthday, Ole Worm, Danish physician.  Worm, an annelid, was  personal physician to King Christian IV of Denmark. Worm's interests covered natural objects, human artifacts, mythical creatures, and ancient inscriptions. He was also a student of the runic stones as well as the Rolling Stones. Worm assembled a fascinating collection, much of which he gathered during his extensive travels. To house his collection, he built one of the most well-known Wunderkammern or “wonder-rooms” in Europe. The objects on display were marvels of nature, antiquities, and ethnographic items, ranging from minerals, fossils, and preserved plants to bones, tusks, tortoise shells, stuffed animals, and runic texts.  The fantasy horror writer H.P. Lovecraft used him as the model for his creepy character Olaus Wormius, who translated the notorious Grimoire the Necronomicon from Arabic into Latin, thus inspiring Cthulhu Cult copycat novels and video games for decades to come.

            1607-Sunday-   The first permanent English settlement in the New World was founded near the James River in Virginia.  The name? It was Rivertown.   No, we're just kidding; it was Jamestown. One hundredEnglish colonists sent by the London Company,  had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery.  While the settlers of the New England colonies were seeking religious freedom, the Jamestown denizens, a group of London entrepreneurs sponsored by  the Virginia Company, came  to establish a satellite English settlement in the Chesapeake region of North America. By December, 104 settlers sailed from London instructed to settle Virginia, find gold and a water route to the Orient.  By one account, they landed there because the deep water channel let their ships ride close to shore; close enough, to moor them to the trees. Recent discovery of the exact location of the first settlement and its fort indicates that the actual settlement site was in a more secure place, away from the channel, where Spanish ships, could not fire point blank into the Fort.

            1669 -Monday  Now it cuts like a knife
But it feels so right
It cuts like a knife
But it feels so right
……Bryan Adams The table knife was created by Cardinal Richelieu, chief minister to King Louis XIII in France. Until this time, daggers were used to cut meat, as well as to pick one's teeth.........and stab your enemy while chewing. Louis XIV decreed all pointed knives on the street or the dinner table illegal, and he had all knife points ground down like those to the right in order to reduce violence. Professor Sy Yentz came across some earlier etiquette tips from the Dutch philosopher and humanist, Erasmus, in the first modern book of manners in 1526. To wit: “You should wipe your spoon before passing it to a neighbor."    "Do not blow your nose with the same hand that you use to hold the meat”

1787 –Sunday- Tie me kangaroo down sport,
tie me kangaroo down.
Tie me kangaroo down sport,
tie me kangaroo down.
Keep me cockatoo cool, Curl,
keep me cockatoo cool.
Don't go acting the fool, Curl,
just keep me cockatoo cool.
Altogether now! …..
Rolf Harris….. Captain Arthur Phillip left  Portsmouth, England with eleven ships full of convicts (the First Fleet) to establish a penal colony in Australia. Phillip originally commanded the flagship of the First Fleet, the Sirius. The Sirius and the "Supply" were provided by the Royal Navy. The other ships were transport ships- privately owned merchant ships which the British Government hired. One official estimate of the First Fleet was 564 male and 192 female convicts,450 crew with civil and military personnel appointed to official duties,28 wives and 30 children(half of which belonged to the convicts). The  ships of the 1st Fleet reached Botany Bay in January 1788 after a voyage of 8 months. As the site for a permanent settlement Phillip chose Sydney Cove inside a great natural harbor a few miles north of Botany Bay and appointed Paul Hogan as the first police commissioner

             1718- Friday- Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit invented the mercury thermometer.  He also invented the alcohol thermometer in 1709.  And, thanks to him for developing the Fahrenheit temperature scale; this scale is still commonly used in the United States. So when we go to the beach it is 85◦ and not 29.4 Celsius. In case you want to switch from Celsius to Fahrenheit it’s F = (9/5 C) + 32. And, quote from Mark Twain, “Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we'd have frozen to death.“

            1779 –Thursday-  The world breathed a sigh of relief as the The War of Bavarian Succession ended. None of the participants was named Conan the Bavarian.  It was a brief war between Prussia and Austria caused by Joseph II's attempts to gain control of Bavaria. Naturally, Frederick II of Prussia objected to Joseph's actions, and on  July 5, 1778 Frederick crossed the border in Bohemia. It was a very pacifistic war with no serious fighting as Frederick was unwilling to risk an attack, while the Austrians took a defensive posture. After an advance in August was frustrated by problems of supply, disease and a strong Austrian position, Frederick withdrew  in September 1778, ending his last campaign. Maria Theresa used all of her influence for peace, and the war was ended by the Peace of Tetschen, in which neither Austria or Prussia made any significant gains.

1821-Sunday-  Samuel Rust of New York City patented the Washington press, the first, practical and successful printing press to be built in America. Its printing capacity was about 250 copies an hour.Yes, Rust Never Sleeps

1830 –Thursday- Salve oh Patria, mil veces!
Oh Patria! gloria a ti! gloria a ti!
Y a tu pecho, tu pecho rebosa
Gozo y paz, ya tu pecho rebosa;
y tu frente, tu frente radiosa
mas que el sol contemplamos lucir. Y tu cir.
......National Anthem......Ecuador gained its independence. In 1819, Ecuador had joined Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama in a confederacy known as Greater Colombia. When Greater Colombia collapsed in 1830 and became lesser, Ecuador became independent as a  group of Quito notables met to dissolve the union with Gran Colombia. Later, in August, a constituent assembly drew up a constitution for the State of Ecuador, so named for its geographic proximity to the equator, and placed General Juan Jose Flores in charge of political and military affairs. He remained the dominant political figure during Ecuador's first fifteen years of independence.

1832-Sunday- Georges Cuvier, French scientist, went kaput. Almost single-handedly, he founded vertebrate paleontology as a scientific discipline and created the comparative method of organismal biology - the study of diversity within the major groups of living organisms It was Cuvier who firmly established the fact of the extinction of past life forms. He was also the founder of the science of comparative anatomy.  Cuvier classified animals according to their internal makeup.  This initial system was quite crude, consisting of categories such as; - "the one with the gooey intestines", the one who's brain goes splat when you drop it", the one that squirts blood when you stick it with a  fork", "the one with the pancreas that tastes like chicken"......

1854 –Saturday-  Apres moi, les Delage… Happy Birthday, Yves Delage, French zoologist known for his research and elucidation of invertebrate physiology and anatomy with a focus on fertilization – fecundation including merogony an parthenogenesis.  He also discovered the equilibrium-stabilizing function of the semicircular canals in the inner ear.

1857-Wednesday-  Happy Birthday, Sir Ronald Ross, British doctor who received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1902 for his work on malaria.  While working with Dr Patrick Manson a specialist in tropical diseases, they based there research on  the work of Alphonse Laveran, a French doctor who had recently identified parasites called Plasmodium in the blood of people from North Africa who had malaria. Dr Manson and Ross then examined some tiny drops of blood taken from sailors who had come from Africa through a microscope. These showed the Plasmodium parasite infecting the red blood cells. Ross discovered  the malarial parasite in the gastrointestinal tract of the Anopheles mosquito.  This led to the realization that malaria was transmitted by Anopheles, and laid the foundation for combating the disease. Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness similar to the rocking pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu.

1861 –Monday-  The Great Comet of 1861 was discovered by John Tebbutt, sheep farmer and amateur astronomer of Windsor, New South Wales, Australia. The comet of 1861 interacted with the Earth in an almost unprecedented way.  For a while the Earth was actually within the comet's tail, and the inhabitants of this planet had a brief but giddy view of streams of cometary material converging towards the distant nucleus.  By day also the Sun was dimmed as the Earth plowed through the comet's gas and dust. After effects of inhaling the dust included the late 20th and early 21st century disease Cubicuverbalitis, in which humans talk to co-workers over cubicle walls in offices.

1865 –Saturday-  Sometimes battles are fought after the war ends. The Battle of New Orleans is a notable example.  While the Civil War had basically ended with Robert E. Lee’s  surrender followed by Joe Johnston’s surrender on April 19th. There would be one more battle as the Battle of Palmito Ranch  in far south Texas, ended  with a Confederate victory. The action lasted a total of four hours. Confederate casualties were a few dozen wounded. The federals lost 111 men and four officers captured, and thirty men wounded or killed. Ironically, at the same time as the battle of Palmito Ranch, the Confederate governors of Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas were authorizing Kirby Smith to disband his armies and end the war.

1873-Tuesday-  Sew what! Ludwig M. Wolf of Avon, CT, patented the sewing machine lamp holder. He called it “lamp brackets for a sewing machine”. It was introduced by the Singer Sewing Machine Co. in 1876, to meet the need of those who wished to sew at night, because the lamp would not "jar off the table or upset," and it could be moved "without soiling the fingers."…or sewing their fingers together 

1883 –Sunday-  Happy Birthday, Georgios N. Papanikolaou Greek physician.
He is known for his invention of Papanikolaou's Test, now known as the Pap smear, which is used worldwide for the detection and prevention of cervical cancer and other cytologic diseases of the female reproductive system. The Pap smear is a sample of secretions and superficial cells of the uterine cervix and uterus; examined with a microscope to detect any abnormal cells. This is not to be confused with the Pap Schmear which involves bagels and cream cheese.

1890-Tuesday-  Nikola Tesla was issued a patent for an electric generator, the Pyromagneto-Electric Generator. It provides your light and electricity and Tesla also invented the transformer through which it is sent The total number of patents issued to Nikola Tesla in the USA according to Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade amounted to 112.  In the 1880's, Tesla invented the alternating current – AC system we use today. Edison worked with direct current – DC. The Tesla/Edison battles over AC DC also involved which was better, Back in Black or Ballbreaker.

1893  -Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Henry Murray, American psychologist who developed a theory of human personality based on an individual's inborn needs and his relationship with the physical and social environment. In 1943 he was asked by the U.S. Government to put together a psychological profile on Adolph Hitler. Basically, the summary was HE’S CRAZY…..A TOTAL NUT JOB!. In addition to predicting that if defeat for Germany was near, Adolf Hitler would choose suicide, Murray's collaborative report stated that Hitler was impotent as far as heterosexual relations were concerned and that there was a possibility that Hitler had participated in a homosexual relationship. The 1943 report stated:

The belief that Hitler is homosexual has probably developed (a) from the fact that he does show so many feminine characteristics, and (b) from the fact that there were so many homosexuals in the National Socialist German Workers Party during the early days and many continue to occupy important positions. It is probably true that Hitler calls Albert Förster "Bubi," which is a common nickname employed by homosexuals in addressing their partners.

1898-Friday- Thomas Edison (Tesla’s rival – see above, 1890-  Edison believed in D.C, Tesla in A.C) sued American Mutoscope and Biograph Pictures, claiming that the studio had infringed on his patent for the Kinetograph movie camera. In 1902, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Edison did not invent the movie camera, but allowed that he had invented the sprocket system (the Ballad of Davy Sprockett)  that moved perforated film through the camera. In 1909, Edison and Biograph joined forces with other filmmakers to create the Motion Pictures Patents Corp. Their first movie together was Shrek 8 – We’ve Run Out of Fairy Tales.

1908 –Wednesday-  To address the issue of conservation, Theodore Roosevelt called a three-day Conference of Governors  at the White House. It was attended by the governors of the states and territories, the members of the Supreme Court and the Cabinet, scientists, and various national leaders. On  May 15 1908, the governors adopted a declaration supporting conservation. One result was The National Conservation Commission, appointed by Roosevelt on June 8, 1908 which prepared the first inventory of the natural resources of the United States with chairmen for water, forests, lands, and minerals.  Later that year, President Roosevelt issued Proclamations establishing Muir Woods National Monument, California, Grand Canyon National Monument, Arizona; Pinnacles National Monument, California; Jewel Cave National Monument, South Dakota; Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah; Lewis and Clark Cavern National Monument, Montana;  and Wheeler National Monument, Colorado as national monuments

1911 –Saturday-  The New York Giants set a major league baseball record as they scored ten runs before the first out of the first inning enroute to a 19-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. First baseman,  Fred “Bonehead” Merkle batted in six of the ten runs at Hilltop Park.

1913-Tuesday- The first four-engine airplane was first built and flown by Igor Sikorsky of Russia….later emigrated to the  USA following the Russian Revolution.   He had won a small order from the Russian Army, and the factory governing society approved construction of a large, four-engined airplane. With a wingspan of 89 ft., the S-21 was called The Grand. When it first flew, Sikorsky became the world's first four-engine pilot, although a major short coming would be the plane’s inability to fly at high altitudes.  From 1925 to 1940 he created a series of increasingly successful aircraft which gained for America numerous world records for speed, range and payload. The Sikorsky flying 'Clippers' helped pioneer trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific commercial passenger services.

1917 –Sunday-  Three peasant children near Fatima, Portugal, reported seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary. They claimed that the visions continued from May to October, always on the 13th day of the month.  Of the three children, two died within a couple of years, in the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1919. The third became a Carmelite nun, Sister Lucia, and took a vow of silence. She passed away in 2005.

1939-Saturday-  The first commercial FM radio station in the United States is launched in Bloomfield, Connecticut. The station later became WDRC-FM. First day playlist included Spice Girl’s Wannabe, the Macarena, Barry Manilow’s Mandy, Pat Boone’s version of Fat’s Domino’s I’m Walkin’, an interview with Larry King, and an early radio version of American Idol featuring an incoherent Paula Abdul.  This station might be considered the oldest existing FM station in the U. S. if one accepts the link from the original WDRC-FM to the present WHCN; however, if frequency modulation was indeed not used until October 1939, WHUR might deserve this distinction.

1940 –Sunday-  As Germany began its attack on France, Winston Churchill’s first speech to the British House of Commons as war time prime minister of England, in which he said,  "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

1941 –Monday-  Well .... Come on lets go lets go lets go little darlin'
Tell me that you'll never leave me
Come on Come on lets go again, again and again
Well.... Now swing me swing me swing me all the way darling
Come on lets go little darlin'
Lets go lets go again once more
Well..... I love you so yeah and I'll never let you go
Come on baby lets go
Oh pretty baby I love you so well......
Lets go lets go lets go little sweet heart
Now that we can always be together
Come on come on lets go again
Happy Birthday, Ritchie Valens, American singer of hits such as La Bamba and Donna. At age 18, Valens was killed in a February 1959 airplane crash along with singers Buddy Holly, and J.P Richardson “The Big Bopper”.

1949 –Saturday- The first gas turbine to pump natural gas was installed in Wilmar, Arkansas,  by the Mississippi River Fuel Corporation.

 1950- Everybody say yeah (yeah!)
Say yeah (yeah!)
Say yeah (yeah!)
Just a little bit of sou-ou-ou-ou-oul
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Clap your hands just a little bit louder
Clap your hands just a little bit louder
I know ????? yeah
Everybody had a good time
So if you want me to
If you want me to
I'm gonna swing the song, yeah
Just one more time when I come by
Just one more time when I come by
So be advised (?)
Happy Birthday, Stevie Wonder, born Stevland Morris, American singer who burst on the music scene as 12 Year Old Genius  and had a number one hit with single Fingertips,  #1 pop and R&B hit.  It’s all a matter of taste but Professor Sy Yentz hasn’t really liked Stevie’s music since he stopped rocking after Signed Sealed Delivered.

1950 –Saturday-  The premiere of the Academy Award winning,  I was a Shoplifter. Well actually it didn’t win an academy award.  In fact it wasn’t nominated. In fact we’d never heard of it save the excruciatingly detailed research that goes into the Gnus.Directed by Charles Lamont, it starred Scott Brady and Mona Freeman. But……..Also appearing were: Tony Curtis (billed as Anthony Curtis), Larry Keating (who played the next door neighbor in Mr. Ed and one of several Harry Mortons on Burns and Allen),  Charles McGraw who would go on to greatness as Kirk Douglas gladiator trainer in Spartacus, and Rock Hudson (billed as “store detective”).

1954 -Thursday I know a dark secluded place.
A place where no one knows your face.
A glass of wine a fast embrace.
It's called Hernando's Hideaway ole!
All you see are silhouettes.
And all you hear are castanets.
And no one cares how late it gets.
Not at Hernando's Hideaway ole!
Jerry Ross and Richard Adler’s The Pajama Game made its debut on Broadway in New York City at the St. James Theatre. It would have 1063 performances.  Directed by George Abbott and Jerome Robbins with Choreography by Bob Fosse, the show starred; John Raitt, Janis Paige, Eddie Foy Jr., Carol Haney, Peter Gennaro, and time traveler, Shirley MacLaine.

 1958- You can shake an apple off an apple tree
Shake-a, shake- sugar,
But you'll never shake me
No-sir-ee, uh, uh
I'm gonna stick like glue,
Stick because I'm
Stuck on you ….
Elvis…..The Velcro trademark was registered for a fabric hook and loop fastener. Inventor George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer was returning home from a walk one day in 1948 and he found his clothing covered with burrs, the seed sacs that one often sees sticking to animals' fur or your trousers. Examining one of the burrs under a microscope, he noticed the small hooks on it that had made it possible for the burrs to stick to his clothes. He decided to try and create a two-sided fastener on the same basis with hooks on one side and loops on the other. He started his own company to manufacture the fasteners and in time became famous worldwide for his invention of "Velcro®".The name itself, now a Registered Trademark, came from combining two parts of two entirely different words: "vel" from velvet and "cro" from crochet which is French for hook. Although de Mestral's original idea was developed for use on clothing, this special type of fastening has found its way into many different applications.

1958 –Tuesday-  Jerry Lee Lewis was granted a divorce from his second wife six months after marrying his third wife, Myra. ,………..see May 12, 1971 for the Myra divorce.

1981 –Wednesday- Pope John Paul II was shot by an escaped Islamic/Turkish murderer, Mehmet Ali. The Pope was seriously wounded near the start of his weekly general audience in Rome's St. Peter's Square, Agca, fired four shots, one of which hit the pontiff in the abdomen, and another that hit the pope's left hand.  Ali was probably working for  the Bulgarian secret police on orders from the Soviet KGB.

1994 –Friday-  In a surprise walk-on, Johnny Carson made his last television appearance on Late Show with David Letterman. Letterman introduced Carson and Larry, “Bud” Melman came out instead, calling the audience “suckers”.  Melman left and Letterman began the nightly Top Ten list but he had the wrong card.  Johnny Carson brought out the list and briefly sat in the host’s chair. Laryngitis reportedly kept the King of Late Night from saying anything

1996 –Monday- Dew Drop In- Massive thunderstorms(probably supercells) formed along a dryline in western Bangladesh. Dew points in the northeast Indian desert were in the low 40's. Dew points in Bangladesh were in the low 80's. The resulting windstorms killed between 500 and 1,000, injured more than 30,000, and left 100,000 homeless. More than 80 villages with 10,000 homes were destroyed. Some people were buried alive in their collapsing dwellings.

1998 –Wednesday- C'mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev'rybody get together
Try and love one another right now
….The Youngbloods…..May 13, a big day for race riots in Southeast Asia.  Race riots broke  out in Jakarta, Indonesia, where shops owned by Indonesians of Chinese descent were looted and women raped. The riots were triggered by economic problems like food shortages and mass unemployment in Indonesia. In 1969Race riots, later known as the May 13 Incident, took  place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Chinese served as piñadas as they would in 1998. The May 13 Incident is a term for the Chinese-Malay race riots in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 13, 1969 which left at least 184 people dead. On formation in 1963, Malaysia suffered from a sharp division of wealth between the entrepreneurial Chinese, who controlled a large portion of the Malaysian economy, and the poor, rural Malays.  In the May 10, 1969 general elections, the ruling Alliance coalition headed by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) suffered a large setback in the polls. The largely Chinese opposition Democratic Action Party and Gerakan gained in the elections, and secured a police permit for a victory parade through a fixed route in Kuala Lumpur. However, the procession deviated from its route and headed through the Malay district of Kampong Bahru, jeering at the inhabitants. Big mistake. UMNO announced a counter-procession starting from the head of Selangor state Dato' Harun bin Idris on Jalan Raja Muda. Reportedly, the gathering crowd was informed that Malays on their way to the procession had been assaulted by Chinese in Setapak, several miles to the north. The angry protestors swiftly wreaked revenge by killing two passing Chinese motorcyclists, and the riot begun. During the course of the riots the loudspeakers of mosques were used to urge the rioters to continue in their actions.

2000 – Saturday- Enschede, in the Netherlands, was built around the SE Fireworks factory. It  is the only one in the Netherlands to be located in a residential area. On May 13 the fireworks factory exploded, killing 22 people, wounding 950, and resulting in approximately €450 million in damage. Called called Vuurwerkramp, the fire started in the work area of the central warehouse where some 900 kg of fireworks were stored. The fire extended to two full containers that had been placed illegally outside of the building. Since the fire department could not contain the fire initially, it was able to spread to a third container, which exploded shortly afterwards. A chain reaction of explosions eventually led to the ignition of the firework bunker. As a result the surrounding residential area was virtually destroyed. Other than that, things were fine.

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1264 –Wednesday-  At the Battle of Lewes,(fought by people named Lew and Lou over the correct spelling of the name) the arrogant, bungling Henry III of England, yet another member of the “how to lose your throne through ineptitude” school of monarchy,  was captured and forced to sign the Mise of Lewes, making his brother-in-law, Simon de Montfort the de facto ruler of England. Montfort and the barons were fed up with years of poor government and profligate spending by the king. They fiercely objected to Henry's reliance on French advisors and friends, and his refusal to abide by the Magna Carta.

Henry was restored to the throne when de Montfort was defeated by Henry's son Edward at the Battle of Evesham over a year later.

            1610 –Friday-  Henry IV of France was assassinated bringing Louis XIII to the throne.  Henry, a Protestant who had converted to Catholicism reportedly saying, Paris vaut bien une messe ("Paris is well worth a mass") was kaputed by a deranged Catholic as he left Paris for an invasion of the Netherlands. François Ravaillac,  stabbed the king to death with two knives while his coach's progress was stopped by a cart

            1643 – Thursday- Louis XIV became King of France at age 4 upon the death of his father, Louis XIII (see above). Louis, known as the  “Sun King” ruled for seventy five years – the first nineteen with his mother, Anne of Austria, as Regent. Louis, built the Palace of Versailles as his residence and  was the “poster boy” of absolute monarchy famous for his statement, 'L'Etat, c'est moi' ('I am the State') as he immersed himself completely in what he called 'the trade of kingship', identifying himself totally with the state in that famous phrase. Note that on May 13, 1669, see May 13, his chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu invented the table fork.

            1679 –Sunday-  Happy Birthday, Peder Horrebow, Danish astronomer who invented a way to determine a place's latitude from the stars. The method fixed latitude by observing differences of zenith distances of stars culminating within a short time of each other, and at nearly the same altitude, on opposite sides of the zenith. The method was soon forgotten despite its value until it was rediscovered by the American Andrew Talcott in 1833. It is now called the Horrebow-Talcott Method.

1727 – Wednesday- Blue velvet
But in my heart there'll always be
Precious and warm, a memory
Through the years
And I still can see blue velvet
Through my tears……Bobby Vinton…………
Happy Birthday, Thomas Gainsborough, English artist.  Gainsborough himself considered landscape painting to be his strong suit, although it is his portrait work gave him lasting fame. Some of Gainsborough's most popular paintings include "The Blue Boy", "The Market Cart", "The Wood Gatherers", and "Robert Andrews and Mary, His Wife", and cute Elvis and a Tiger oil on black velvet.

            1796-Saturday-    While seeking a cure for smallpoxEdward Jenner first inoculated a boy with the cow pox virus which is similar to smallpox.  James Phipps, an 8-year-old was the lucky fellow to be injected, with cowpox material obtained from a lesion on a local dairy maid, Sarah Nelmes. Two months later, Phipps was inoculated with smallpox lesion material but did not develop smallpox. Although earlier accounts of cowpox, and even vaccination, exist, it was Jenner’s Inquiry, of 1798 together with his Further Observations published the following year, that contained the first thorough descriptions of bovine and human cowpox. No ill effects other than the boy's sudden desire to chew his cud.

1804-Sunday- “Don’t forget to send post cards and get me a Northwest Passage refrigerator magnet”….. Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out to explore the Louisiana Purchase.  In June 1803, President Thomas Jefferson wrote to Lewis, his private secretary and a U.S. army captain, instructing the expedition to explore the Missouri basin by crossing over the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The previous summer saw the construction of a large keelboat in Pittsburgh, overseen by Lewis. After construction Lewis took it down the Ohio River picking up Clark and recruits along the way. In April Jefferson sent Lewis to Lancaster and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to be tutored by some of the nation's leading scientists (including Andrew Ellicott, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Smith Barton, Robert Patterson, and Caspar Wistar). You may want to read Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose, an excellent  account of the trip.

1811 –Tuesday- A los pueblos de América infausto,
Tres centurias un cetro oprimió,
Más un día soberbia surgiendo,
Basta!..., dijo y el cetro rompió.
Nuestros padres lidiando grandiosos,
Ilustraron su gloria marcial;
Y trozada la augusta diadema,
Enalzaron el gorro triunfal!
(repeat previous two lines)
Paraguayos, República o muerte!
Nuestro brío nos dió libertad;
Ni opresores, ni siervos, alientan,
Donde reinan unión, e igualdad. 
(repeat previous two lines)
Unión, e igualdad.
 Paraguay gained independence from Spain. But first aParaguay first had to fight the forces of Argentina which had called on Paraguay in 1810 to follow its lead in a virtual declaration of independence. Paraguay declared independence from Spain but rejected the leadership of Buenos Aires. An Argentine expedition was decisively defeated, and Paraguay completed its move toward independence by deposing the last of its royal governors in 1811. That’s about it for the good news.

Since then, Paraguay has been dominated by dictatorships or near-dictatorships. The first and most famous of the dictators was José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia (known as "El Supremo") who was originally a member of the five-man junta elected in 1811 to govern the newly independent nation. He was granted full dictatorial powers for three years in 1814. And that summarized Paraguayan Democracy.  

            1853-Tuesday- Gail Borden applied for a patent for the "improvement in concentration of milk," his process for making condensed milk  He was a strong believer in "the moo the merrier".  This patent was turned down.  He finally succeeded in 1856.  Also note that, ever the epicurean, Borden had also marketed a product that was a biscuit of dehydrated meat.

             1856- Wednesday-  “It was the best of species.  It was the worst of species.”

Charles Darwin began writing his book, The Origin of Species, sitting in the study of his home in Down, EnglandOrigin of Species went on sale to the public on November 22, 1859, at a price of 15 shillings. 1,250 copies were printed, most of which sold the first day. It was an immediate success and Darwin started the same day editing the work for a second edition.

            1861 –Tuesday- He took a hundred pounds of clay
And then He said "Hey, listen"
"I'm gonna fix this-a world today"
"Because I know what's missin' "
….Gene McDaniel….. The Canellas meteorite, an 859-gram chondrite-type meteorite, smashed into the earth near Barcelona, Spain. Chondrite meteorites are characterized by, yes,  chondrules--small spheres (average diameter of 1 mm) of formerly melted minerals that have come together with other mineral matter to form a solid rock, sort of like Solar Systemic acne. Chondrites are believed to be among the oldest rocks in the solar system.

             1863-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, John C. Fields, American mathematician who originated the idea, posthumously given his name - for the Fields Medal. It became the most prestigious award for mathematicians, often referred to as the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for mathematicians. As a professor at the University of Toronto, he had worked to bring the International Congress of Mathematicians to Toronto  in 1924. The Congress was so successful that afterward there was a surplus of about $2,500 which Fields, as chairman of the organizing committee, proposed be used to fund two medals to be awarded at each of future Congresses….. or to purchase Soduku for all participants. The Fields Medal is awarded every four years on the occasion of the International Congress of Mathematicians to recognize outstanding mathematical achievement for existing work and for the promise of future achievement.  The IMU also awards the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize, the Carl Friedrich Gauss Prize for Applications of Mathematics, and the John Cafarella Prize for life long, continuous inability to sustain any knowledge of anything to do with Mathematics

            1872 –Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Mikhail Semyonovich Tsvett, (Михаил Семенович Цвет, also spelled Tsvett, Tswett, Tswet, Zwet, and Cvet) Russian botanist, the "father of chromatography,"(a strange name for a child if you ask Prof. Sy Yentz)   He is credited with the discovery in 1903 and application of chromatography. While working in Poland, Tsvett was looking for a method of separating a mixture of plant pigments (tints) which are chemically very similar to each other. To isolate different types of chlorophyll, he trickled a mixture of dissolved pigments through a glass tube packed with calcium carbonate powder. As the solution washed downward, each pigment stuck to the powder with a different degree of strength, creating a series of colored bands. Each band of color represented a different substance. Tsvett referred to the colored bands as a chromatogram. He also suggested that the technique (now called adsorption chromatography) could be used to separate colorless substances Tsvet also discovered several new chlorophylls and coined the words chromatography and carotenoid. His work was not discovered by mainstream Western scientists for nearly 30 years. The chromatography technique he invented is now widely used to separate substances from mixtures.

            1878-Tuesday-  The name Vaseline was registered as a trademark for the petroleum jelly developed by an English-born chemist Robert A. Chesebrough.  Chesebrough had used distillations from oil from Pennsylvania oil fields to develop  Vaseline. Cheesebrough got a bit carried away with the Vaseline.  Chesebrough had a song written about his product titled Ballad of the Vaseline Brigade.  When he was in his 50s, he suffered a near-fatal bout of pleurisy. Robert Chesebrough insisted on being covered from head to toe with Vaseline. Eventually, physicians learned Vaseline did not really have any medicinal effect or any effect on the blistering process. Vaseline's effectiveness is due to the coating of cuts and burns which prevents germs from getting into the wound and because it keeps the burned skin moisturized. Chesebrough lived to the age of 96 and attributed his long life to Vaseline. He claimed that he had eaten one spoonful everyday for years.

            1904-Saturday-  Making a clean sweep of it- During the Chicago Cubs' 12-4 win over visiting the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago outfielder,  Jack McCarthy sprained an ankle by stepping on the umpire's long-handle broom at home plate. National League  President Harry Pulliam ordered that umpires would  henceforth  use pocket-sized whisk brooms for sweeping dirt off home plate .  Later attempts using vacuum cleaners, "dirt devils" and personal butlers were not as successful so whisk brooms remain in use to this day.

          1921 –Saturday- Happy Birthday- Richard Deacon, American actor who seemingly appeared in every sitcom made during the 1950s and 60’s but was probably most famous as Mel Cooley on the Dick Van Dyck Show but we also liked him as Semu in Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. 

            1936 –Thursday- Somewhere beyond the sea
somewhere waiting for me
my lover stands on golden sands
and watches the ships that go sailin'
Somewhere beyond the sea
she's there watching for me
If I could fly like birds on high
then straight to her arms
I'd go sailin'
Happy Birthday- Bobby Darin, Walden Robert Cassotto American singer who went from teen idol, Splish Splash, to finger snapping nightclub type, Mac The Knife, to dungareed folkee, If I Were a Carpenter. Married to 50’s teen icon, Sandra Dee. They appeared together in the Bergmanesque movies, Come September, That Funny Feeling, and If a Man Answers. Darin also acted turning in powerful dramatic performances in Pressure Point and Captain Newman MD. In fact, he was Oscar-nominated for his work in 'Newman'.

             1939 –Sunday- M Is for the Many things she gave me,
O Means only that she's growing Old.
T Is for the Tears she shed to save me,
H Is for her Heart of purest gold.
E Is for her Eyes with love light shining,
R Means Right and Right she'll always be.

Put them all together, They spell MOTHER.
A word that means the world to me.
…..Howard Johnson……….Lina Medina of the Peruvian town of Pisco, became the world's youngest confirmed mother in medical history at the age of five. Due to Lina's small frame and pelvis, it would have been impossible for her to give birth vaginally. When she was just 5 years 7 months and 21 days old on Mother's Day, May 14th, of 1939, she gave birth to a healthy 6-pound baby boy. She named him Gerardo, after her doctor. The father of baby Gerardo was never determined. In fact, her father was jailed for incest and rape of Lina, but was let go due to lack of evidence. Lina herself never gave any answers to doctors on how she became impregnated.

            1944 –Sunday Happy Birthday, American filmmaker, George Lucas. Lucas’ early, successful movies such as THX 138 and American Graffiti were eclipsed by his 1977 Star Wars and then another five Star Wars.  Of course he was also responsible for cinematic watershed, Howard the Duck, winner of 5 Golden Raspberry Awards.  In fact forcing people to watch it has been listed as torture by the Geneva Convention. Lucas is also responsible for Jar Jar Binks.

            1948-Friday  The independent state of Israel was proclaimed by David Ben Gurion as British rule in Palestine came to an end. This so delighted the Arabs that they promptly attacked and tried to wipe Israel off the map.  Fortunately, they seemed to have attended the Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna school of Military Strategy. “The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed.” – from the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

            1952 –Wednesday- Donald R. McMonagle, American astronaut. McMonagle flew as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on  the secret Department of Defense mission STS-39 in April 1991. During this highly successful 8-day mission, the seven-man crew  wore fake moustaches and glasses. In January 1993, McMonagle served as pilot on STS-54 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. McMonagle then commanded a crew of six aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-66 11-day mission in November 1994. During one of these missions, we don’t know which, a strange interstellar fungus attached itself to the outside of the shuttle. Exposure to Earth’s atmosphere resulted in the development of the disease, usually in people under thirty of using the word “awsome” at least 500 times a day, like, ya know?

            1959 – Thursday- I'm going to Kansas City
Kansas City here I come
I'm going to Kansas City
Kansas City here I come
They got some crazy little women there
And I'm gonna get me one
I'm gonna be standing on the corner
Twelfth Street and Vine
I'm gonna be standing on the corner
Twelfth Street and Vine
With my Kansas City baby
And a bottle of Kansas City wine
.Leiber and Stoller…….Wilbert Harrison’s Kansas City, originally recorded in 1952 by Little Willie Littlefield,  reached number 1 on the Billboard Charts.

            1963 –Tuesday-A  laser light beam link first carried the TV signal during a network broadcast. It was demonstrated during the CBS program I've Got a Secret, hosted by Garry Moore in which “celebrities” tried to guess the secret of contestants. The signal from a studio camera was used to modulate a laser beam that traveled two feet to a receiver that decoded the signal from the beam. That signal was relayed via the control room for the national broadcast.

            1970 - Thursday- Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
On May 4, National Guard troops had shot and killed at Kent St. University. Neil Young wrote the song and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released Ohio, ten days after the shootings.  This was released as a single, but the song did not appear on an album until Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young included it on their live album Four Way Street a year later.

             1973-Monday The first U.S. space station, Skylab, was launched.  The Skylab Space Station was assembled from Saturn V and Apollo components. Skylab's purpose was to serve as a laboratory for scientific experiments in space until February 1974. The unmanned (at the time) craft finally crashed to Earth in 1979. Actually, two flight-quality Skylabs were built. The second (backup) is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.  Skylab was launched in one launch and required no assembly. Three successive crews of visiting astronauts carried out investigations of the human body's adaptation to the space environment, studied the Sun in unprecedented detail, and undertook pioneering Earth-resources observations. And, unfortunately, yes, space microbes did manage to return to Earth, mutate, intermarry with mosquitoes and cause the disease, Unrealityicus Verbalitis Moronitis, which causes the people next to you in a movie theatre are gossiping about people in the movie.

            1980 –Wednesday- Muddled U.S. President Jimmy Carter Carter inaugurated the Department of Health and Human Services. This cabinet department was the successor to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which had been created in 1953.  Patricia Roberts Harris's job changed from secretary of HEW to secretary of HHS. She presided over a department with 140,000 employees and a budget of $226 billion.

            1982 –Friday –To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women”.  The premiere of Conan the Barbarian directed by John Milius and starring the steroidically enhanced Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones (did he really need the money?), Max Von Sydow, and the forgettable Standahl Bergman.- “He conquered an empire with his sword. She conquered HIM with her bare hands.”. But wait, (a Billie Mays moment) there’s more.  May 14 is a propitious day for loin cloth movies. In 2004, Brad Pitt, lovely in his blonde locks, premiered in the Godardesque,  Troy directed by Wolfgang Peterson and co-starring Orlando Bloom.  But wait, there’s more – the 1961 premiere of Goliath against the Giants, a Steve Reevesian epic without Steve Reeves.  Directed by Guido Malatesta, it starred Brad Harris, Gloria Milland, and Fernando Rey.

      1998-Thursday-  Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.
….Green Day…..The best television “sit com” ever, "Seinfeld" aired its final, episode after nine years on NBC. The new president of NBC offered Jerry and George a series On their way to a celebratory trip to Paris, NBC jet needs to make an emergency landing in Latham, Massachusetts. While there, they stand idly by during a carjacking and are arrested on a new "Good Samaritan Law". During the trial every character they could dig up; Newman ,Frank Costanza, Estelle Costanza ,Helen Seinfeld, Morty Seinfeld, Jackie Chiles, J. Peterman, Stu Chermak Peter Blood, Jay Crespi  and appeared.

            2005 –Saturday-  Your tax dollars at work….The former USS America, a decommissioned supercarrier was deliberately sunk in the Atlantic Ocean after four weeks of live-fire exercises. She was the largest ship ever to be disposed of as a target in a military exercise. America was the target of a series of tests designed to test new defense and damage control systems for the CVN-21 program. Sort of like when you were a kid and sunk ships in your bathtub except a lot more expensive and you couldn’t reach down and pull it out and re-float it to sink again. The conventionally-powered carrier left active service in 1996.


National Pickle Week.  Pickles were eaten over 4,000 years ago.  In fact Cleopatra ate them because she thought they made her more beautiful.  This was an absolute dilly of an idea and she didn't sour on it until she used an asp as a necklace because she was being gerkined around by Octavian after the defeat at Philippi. Whew!

1501-Wednesday-  Ottaviano Petrucci of Venice founded the first modern-style music publishing house, by producing the first book of music made from movable type. The first collection, Rihanna  Interprets the Lyrics of Stephen Foster was an immediate best seller.

1567 –Monday-  On a social note,  Mary Queen of Scots, noted for poor choices in life, poor choices in men and the I.Q of a philodendron,  married James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, her third husband. The first had been Francis, son of Henry II, king of France, and his wife, Catherine de Medici. This marriage did not last long as Francis went  kaput. In 1565 Mary married her cousin, the equally intellectually challenged  Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, an English nobleman. The bridegroom was proclaimed Henry, King of Scots. Their only child was to become James 1 of England. Basically, Darnley was a weak man easily manipulated by Scottish nobles.  The neglected Mary soon began an affair with Bothwell.  She was probably involved and Bothwell certainly was involved when the hapless Darnley,  along with his servant, was found strangled to death after the gunpowder blast intended to take his life failed. A few months later, Mary and the Earl married.

1602 Wednesday-If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air
Quaint little villages here and there
(You're sure)
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod
(Cape Cod, that old Cape Cod)
If you like the taste of a lobster stew
Served by a window with an ocean view
(You're sure)
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod
…..Patti Page…. It wasn’t Cape Cod until he named it but Cape Cod was discovered by Bartholomew Gosnold.  Gosnold had set sail from England with thirty one men including an apothecary to set up a year round trading post.  First he tried Maine. No fool he, he quickly left the land of man eating black flies and sailed south.   He reached an area where the sailors caught so many fish that he named it Cape Cod. They quickly took a summer time share at Truro with beach rights and a pool.  His next stop was an island that he named “Marthaes vineyard”, in honor of his daughter. They built the trading post on the island.

1672-Sunday-  The first copyright law was passed in Massachusetts.  Prior to this people were allowed to copyleft. The law prohibited the making of reprints without the consent of the owner of the copy. As in England, copyright was granted to the printer, not the Creator. That meant that  the printer John Usher received the first copyright in America granting him the sole right and privilege of publishing the laws of Massachusetts (presumably including the new copyright law).

            1701 –Sunday-  The War of the Spanish Succession, 1701–14 began. As was not infrequent in those days, it can be blamed on the dead little gametes of the childless Charles II. When Charles, the last of the Spanish Habsburgs went kaput, there was an effort to regulate the impending succession, to which there were three principal claimants, England, the Dutch Republic, and France had in October 1698 signed the First Treaty of Partition, (historical note – as soon as you see the word “treaty”, you know it won’t work) agreeing that on the death of Charles II, Prince Joseph Ferdinand, son of the Elector of Bavaria, should inherit Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and the Spanish colonies. Spain’s Italian dependencies would be detached and partitioned between Austria (to be awarded the Duchy of Milan) and France.  Now follow closely because a lot of people died. Also in the mix were Louis XIV, in behalf of his eldest son, a grandson of King Philip IV of Spain through Philip's daughter, Marie Thérèse, to whom Louis XIV had been married and Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, who had married a younger daughter of Philip IV, but claimed the succession in behalf of his son by a second marriage, Archduke Charles (later Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI).  Got it? Now religion raised its head too as England and Holland were opposed to the union of French and Spanish dominions, which would have made France the leading world power and diverted Spanish trade from England and Holland to France. On the other hand, England, Holland, and France were all opposed to Archduke Charles, because his accession would reunite the Spanish and Austrian branches of the Hapsburg family. The entire plot can be seen on the daytime “drama” All My Successors.

            1713 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Abbe´ Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, French astronomer who named 15 of the 88 constellations in the sky. He spent four happy, star filled years (1750-1754) mapping the constellations visible from the Southern Hemisphere, as observed from the Cape of Good Hope, the southernmost part of Africa. And which fifteen did he name?  How about: Antlia Caelum Circinus Fornax Horologium Mensa Microscopium Norma Octans Pictor Pyxis Reticulum Sculptor  and Telescopium. He also kind of, sort of, revised, emended Musca. Musca (“oh you musca been a beautiful baby………”) has a long history of aliases. It was first named Apis (the Bee) by Johann Bayer in 1603. Edmond Halley, of Halley's Comet fame, renamed it Musca Apis (the Fly Bee). Then, de Lacaille called it Musca Australis (the Southern Fly) to distinguish it from the Northern Fly. When the Northern Fly was merged with Aries by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 1929, Musca Austrailis was given its modern, shortened name.

            1756-Saturday- England declared war on France thus the beginning of the French and Indian War, known elsewhere as the "Seven Years War".  The Seven Years War was actually a “Nine Years War” – but who’s counting - in America. It began in 1756 (ended in 1763) as  the European counterpart to the French and Indian War  which had begun in 1754 and then ended in 1763 –do the  math, when the France made a formal declaration of war on England. So while fighting had merrily been going on in America for two years,  the “official” Seven Years War involved all the major European powers and was world like in scope. However, for the colonists it was a struggle against the French for control of North America. The war did not go well for England until the elder William Pitt came to power in 1756. He concentrated on fighting the French and sent badly needed troop reinforcements to North America

            1773 –Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Klemens Metternich, Austrian statesman; minister of foreign affairs. Called “the Coachman of Europe”, Prince von Metternich took a prominent part in the Congress of Vienna and dominated European politics from 1814 to 1848. He acted as the restorer of the 'Old Regime' (monarchies) and the reconstruction of Europe after the Napoleonic wars. To safeguard the balance of power Metternich formed a 'Holy Alliance' between the monarchies of Austria, Russia, Prussia and France. However, when turned ugly during the revolutions (against the monarchies of Sicily and spread to France, the German and Italian states, and the Austrian Empire) of 1848, he left Austria and lived the remainder of his life in exile in England.

            1788-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Neil Arnott, Scottish physician and scientist who invented a water-bed for the comfort of patients during a prolonged illness. He is also known for his invention of the economical Arnott stove, which was a thermometer-stove with a self-regulating fire. He was the author of several works on physical science and  its applications with most important being his  Elements of Physics  in 1827.  In 1838 he published a treatise on Warming and Ventilating, and, in 1855, one on the Smokeless Fireplace. He then wrote Love’s Tender Passion in a Waterbed with Warming and Ventilating in front of a Smokeless Fireplace.

            1800 –Thursday-  President John Adams ordered the federal government to pack up and leave Philadelphia. The Guido Pappaducci Movers were called (they even did the packing and supplied the boxes) and the government exited  the “City of Brotherly Love”  and set up shop in the mosquito infested swamp that would serve as the nation’s new capital in Washington, D.C. After Congress adjourned its last meeting in Philadelphia on May 15, Adams told his cabinet to make sure Congress and all federal offices were up and running smoothly in their new headquarters by June 15, 1800. Philadelphia officially ceased to serve as the nation’s capital as of June 11, 1800. At the time, there were only about 125 federal employees- or about as many as it takes to process any single government document these days -  President and Mrs. Adams did not move in to the (unfinished) president’s mansion until November of that year as they were awaiting delivery of the stainless steel appliances, the granite countertops  and the Jacuzzi.

            1800 –Thursday (and 1786- Monday) England’s King George III survived two assassination attempts in one day…..but not the same year.  It was ironic that two loons would go after George since he, to put it mildly, suffered several bouts of mental instability, for the last decade of his reign the country being ruled by his son as Regent due to his total breakdown. On this day in  1786 Mrs Margaret Nicholson, who was insane, stabbed the King, but he survived. May 15, fourteen years later, the King was attending a performance at the Drury Lane Theatre in London, when another crazed would-be assassin made an attempt on his life. Just as the King was entering the royal box, with the national anthem striking up, James Hadfield rose and fired his pistol at George, missing him as subsequent investigations showed by a mere 14 inches.

            1836-Sunday-  Astronomer Francis Baily observed "Baily's Beads" during an annular solar eclipse. Baily's Beads are the bright points of light, that appear around the edge of the moon during a solar eclipse…….which you are not supposed to watch with the naked eye because you will go blind and …….. The beads are created by sunlight passing through the moon's valleys.  Later eclipses revealed Baily’s Costume Jewelry, Baily’s Trinkets, and Baily’s Secret Astronomical Decoder Ring.

            1857-Friday-  Happy Birthday, Willamina Fleming, Scottish-American astronomer. Working at Harvard with Henrietta Leavitt and Annie Jump Cannon, she set up her own system with 10,351 stars listed in a special catalog. It was Cannon who lead the team and developed the basis for the star classification system that we still use today.  TO B A F G K M .   Generations of astronomers have learnt this sequence with the pneumonic 'Oh, be a fine girl, kiss me!' These included 222 stars which she had discovered herself. The eminent British astronomer, H. H. Turner, termed Mrs. Fleming’s discoveries “an achievement bordering on the marvelous.” Among 28 novae stars known at the time of her death, Mrs. Fleming had discovered 10 by their spectra. She also discovered 94 of the 107 Rayet stars (hot (25-50000+ degrees K), massive stars (20+ solar mass) with a high rate of mass loss ), but none of the Z list people appearing on Dancing With the Stars, known at the time of her death. In 1898 Harvard formally acknowledged the value of her services by giving her the official appointment as curator of astronomical photographs. It was the first such appointment given by Harvard University to a woman. Later she was placed in charge of the astraphotographic building. Dr. Fleming also pioneered in the classification of stellar spectra and the first to discover stars called "white dwarfs." And no, she did not name them Sleepy, Dopey, Happy, Bashful, Grumpy............

            1859-Sunday- Happy Birthday, Pierre Curie. French physical chemist and co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903. His studies of radioactive substances were made together with his wife, Marie Curie, whom he married in 1895. Together, they discovered radium and polonium during their investigation of radioactivity by fractionation of pitchblende.  Pierre was also a pioneer in the study of magnetism. He discovered a basic relationship between magnetic properties and temperature. The temperature at which certain magnetic materials undergo a marked change in their magnetic properties is today called the Curie point after him. At age 47, he was already showing effects of the radiation poisoning that would result in Marie’s leukemia when he was run over by an oversize horse-drawn wagon filled with bales of army uniforms (some say it was a beer wagon) and killed while crossing a Parisian street during a heavy rain near the Pont Neuf.

            1862 –Thursday-  Union Grounds, Brooklyn, the first enclosed baseball field opened.  The Union Grounds were run by William Cammeyer and were located  on Harrison Avenue. The field could seat around 1,500 spectators Rather than charge the home teams rent, Cammeyer decided on a new idea: charging spectators for admission. The original fee was 10 cents.

            1903 –Friday-  Happy Birthday, Maria Rieche, German-born Peruvian mathematician and archaeologist. She was the self-appointed protector of the Nazca Lines, a series of desert ground drawings over 1,000 years old, near Nazcain in southern Peru. She was called the "Lady of the Lines" and studied and protected these etchings of animals and geometric patterns in 60 km (35 mi) of desert for over fifty years.  The lines, in a valley,  are protected from wind.  No one really knows the purpose of these geoglyphs and geometric line clearings.  They were made by the Nazca people, who flourished between 200 BC and 600 AD along rivers and streams that flow from the Andes. The area of the Nazca art is called the Pampa Colorada (Red Plain). It is 15 miles wide and runs some 37 miles parallel to the Andes and the sea. Dark red surface stones and soil have been cleared away, exposing the lighter-colored subsoil, creating the "lines". There is no sand in this desert. Possibly Nazca was a pre-Columbian version of NASCAR and this was a race track.  Jeff Gordon was booed.

            1911 –Monday-  The Standard Oil Company kaput.  The company, headed by John D. Rockefeller, was ordered dissolved by the Supreme Court, (Chief Justice Edward Douglas White) under the Sherman Antitrust Act.  The Standard Oil Trust was formed in 1863 by John D. Rockefeller. He built up the company through 1868 to become the largest oil refinery firm in the world. In 1870, the company was renamed Standard Oil Company, after which Rockefeller greedily decided to buy up all the other competition and form them into one large company. The Sherman Antitrust Act, 1890 was the  first measure passed by the U.S. Congress to prohibit trusts…..and if you want to trust someone, it certainly won’t be a member of the U.S Congresss. It was named for Senator John Sherman, younger brother of General William T. Sherman. In 1910 Rockefeller's net worth was equal to nearly 2.5% of the whole US economy, the equivalent of nearly $250 billion in today's terms. The 1911 decision broke up Rockefeller's company into six main entities, including Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso, now Exxon), Standard Oil of New York (Socony, now Mobil), Standard Oil of Ohio, and Standard Oil of Indiana (now Amoco, part of BP) and Standard Oil of California (now Chevron) - and opened the way for greedy new entrants like Gulf and Texaco, which discovered oil in Texas.

                1914 –Friday-  Way down below there's a half a million people
Somewhere there's a church with a big tall steeple
Inside a church there's an altar filled with flowers
Wedding bells are ringing and they should have been ours
That's why I'm so lonely
My dreams gone above
High on a mountain of love…
..Harold DormanHappy Birthday, we think, of Tenzing Norgay, Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer; who climbed Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953.  At the time of Tenzing's birth, the Sherpas did not keep written birth records. One of  thirteen children, Norgay spoke seven languages, but never learned how to write.  He took part in several Everest expeditions as a high-altitude porter  in 1935, 1936, and 1938. In 1952, he was a climbing member of the Swiss expedition's attempt on Everest. With Raymond Lambert, he reached 28,200 feet (8595 m) ooh so close but not quite to the top,  in the spring campaign. The following year, with Edmund Hillary, Norgay completed the same route, thus making the first successful summit ascent.  After Everest, he became Director of Field Training at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling.

                1918-Wednesday-  U.S. airmail began service between Washington, Philadelphia and New York.  Congress had appropriated $100,000 to establish experimental airmail routes, and the Post Office Department “borrowed” planes and pilots from the Army Signal Corps  to  start an airmail service. On this day the Post Office Department began scheduled airmail service between New York and Washington, D.C. Simultaneous takeoffs were made from Washington's Polo Grounds and from Belmont Park, Long Island, both trips by way of Philadelphia. Initial attempts to revive the Pony Express and combine it with the new airmail service failed when some horse parachutes failed to open.

            1918 –Wednesday-  The Finnish Civil War finished. The Finnish Civil War was a part of the national and social turmoil caused by World War I in Europe. The war was fought from  January 27 to  May 15,  1918, between the forces of the Social Democrats led by the People's Deputation of Finland, commonly called the "Reds" (punaiset), and the forces of the non-socialist, conservative
he Reds were supported by Russian Communists while the-led Senate commonly called the "Whites" (valkoiset).

Conservatism is the diverse political and social philosophy that supports tradition and the status quo, or that calls for a return to the values and society of an earlier age, the status quo ante. However, the term has been used by politicians and political commentators with a variety of mean Whites received military assistance from the German Empire. The civil war was a catastrophe for Finland. In only a few months, about 30,000 Finns perished, less than a quarter of them on the battlefield, the rest in summary executions and in detention camps.

            1923-Tuesday-Listerine was registered as a trademark…..®…and there it is.  The next time you use it just remember that  Listerine has been used historically for all sorts of things, from cleaning floors to treating gonorrhea. Named for the great doctor, Joseph Lister, who pioneered the use of antiseptics in surgery, Listerine was originally formulated in 1879 by Dr. Nicole Dyer Lawrence and Christian Bach as a surgical antiseptic. By 1895, Listerine was also being used in dental care, and in 1914 Listerine became the first mouthwash to be offered over the counter without a prescription.

            1928 –Tuesday-  Mickey Mouse premiered in his first cartoon, the six minute, B/W Plane Crazy…….No, not Steamboat Willie, it was Plane Crazy…..inspired by Lindbergh’s flight of 1927.   Disney had trouble with the distribution and so began on the second Mickey Mouse cartoon; Gallopin'Gaucho, but it wasn't released until December 30 1928.  Disney produced the third Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie, which made it's debut before the  Gallopin'Gaucho on November 18 1928 and is considered to be Mickey's birthday.

            1930 –Thursday-  Ellen Church, the first airline stewardess, went on duty aboard a United Airlines flight. Church had initially asked Steve Stimpson of Boeing Air Transport (BAT) for an airline job as a  pilot. Although Stimpson wouldn't hire Church as a pilot, he was intrigued by another of Church's ideas. She suggested placing nurses onboard planes in order to combat the public's fear of flying. Stimpson sold the idea to his superiors. In 1930, Boeing Air Transport (BAT), the predecessor to United Airlines, hired eight nurses to work as stewardesses on their flights for a three-month trial run. On May 15th, Ellen Church became the world's first stewardess, working the BAT route from Oakland to Chicago. Just in case you were wondering, the requirements for stewardesses in the 1930s were strict. In addition to being registered nurses, the women had to be single, younger than 25 years old; weigh less than 115 pounds; and stand less than 5 feet, 4 inches tall. The responsibilities of stewardesses, in addition to accommodating the regular needs of passengers, at times needed to haul the luggage on board, screw down loose seats, fuel planes, and even help pilots push planes into hangars…..all for $125 a month.

            1940-Wednesday- Nylon stockings went on general sale for the first time in the United States in Wilmington Delaware. Four million pairs were sold in several hours  nationwide. Yes, you could say there was a "run" on them.  Why Wilmington?  It was the home of DuPont  developer of nylon and Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers, the inventor of nylon.  In October 1939, according to, the entire stock of four thousand pairs was sold out in Wilmington, Delaware within three hours. Not surprisingly, Du Pont then designated May 15, 1940 as "Nylon Day" nationwide and four million pair were sold within four days.

            1940 –Wednesday McDonald's opened their first restaurant in San Bernardino, California. Nothing like the “Krocismic”money making, obesity creating haute cuisine of today’s garish dining “experience, this was the Grand Opening of McDonald's Barbeque restaurant.  It included a staff of  twenty carhops, and a twenty five item menu that included barbeque ribs and beef and pork sandwiches. Their restaurant became the # 1 teen hangout in the San Bernardino area.

            1941Thursday-  The first Allied jet fighter, the jet-propelled Gloster-Whittle E 28/39 aircraft flew its first successful test flight with test pilot Gerry Sayer at the controls. This experimental aircraft was built to test the new jet engine developed by Frank Whittle.  It would not enter service until July 1944 when the Gloster Meteor, was used in action against the V1 flying bombs.

            1948 –Saturday-  Hours after declaring its independence, the new state of Israel was attacked by the peace loving Muslim nations of Transjordan (Jordan), Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.  Israel had a navy and many in her army were experienced in combat as a result of World War II. Israel had also bought three B-17 bombers in America on the black market. In July 1948, these were used to bomb the Egyptian capital, Cairo. The Arab nations that attacked Israel did not co-ordinate their attacks. The lack of planning was evident as each essentially attacked as a separate unit rather than as a combined force while, in comparison, the Israeli Army was under one single command structure and this proved to be much more efficient. Israeli victories came on all the war fronts. Having warred separately, the Arab nations then negotiated their own separate peace talks. Egypt signed a peace settlement in February 1949, and over the next few months Lebanon, Jordan and Syria did the same culminating in peace in July 1949. Iraq simply withdrew her forces but did not sign any peace settlement.

            1957 –Wednesday-  While filming a dance number for Jailhouse Rock….( “The warden threw a party in the county jail. The prison band was there and they began to wail”).  Elvis Presley inhaled a porcelain cap on one of his teeth. Could happen to any of us? He had to be taken to a Los Angeles hospital to have it removed from his lung.

      1958 –Thursday- H: We met at nine
M: We met at eight
H: I was on time
M: No, you were late
H: Ah, yes, I remember it well
We dined with friends
M: We dined alone
H: A tenor sang
M: A baritone
H: Ah, yes, I remember it well….Lerner & Loewe
The Academy Award winning musical Gigi opened at New York's Royale Theater. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, the film starred Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan,  Leslie Caron, Hermione Gingold, and (gasp!) Eva Gabor (!!) . Based on the novel of the Colette, the film included the hit songs Thank Heavens for Little Girls and I Remember It Well. This movie always seemed like it should have been a Broadway Show before it was a movie, after all many Broadway Shows became movies. However, Gigi was an exception. It didn’t become a Broadway Show until 1973…… was a flop….perhaps because Eva Gabor wasn’t in it.  

            1958 –Thursday. On the same day that Gigi was launched,  the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 3. Designed to study the upper atmosphere, the satellite was a comprehensively equipped space science laboratory. It decayed from orbit on April 6 1960 and went kaput. However, a space microbe attached itself to an antenna, returned to Earth, mated with an armadillo and spawned the analysts who appear on Sunday morning news interview shows.

            1963-Wednesday- Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper blasted off aboard Faith 7on the final mission of the Project Mercury space program. Next would be Project Gemini, with two astronauts aboard, followed by Apollo with three.  Cooper completed 22 orbits over 34 hours – do the math – and was the first American to spend more than one day in space.  The flight was not without more than the usual danger as on the 20th orbit, Cooper lost all attitude readings. The 21st orbit saw a short-circuit occur in the bus bar serving the 250 volt main inverter. This left the automatic stabilization and control system without electric power.  This is not a good thing when one is up in space.  Just to make things more interesting, Cooper noted that the carbon dioxide level was rising in the cabin and in his spacesuit.  With the assistance of John Glenn, Cooper went through re-entry preparations and re-entry manually.  His landing was the most accurate of all the Mercury flights.   Unfortunately, a space microbe attached itself to the outside of the craft and mutated when exposed to Earth’s atmosphere.  The microbe spread and resulted in the dread disease of Outsourorus Englishium Challengedius.  You have encountered carriers of this disease when you call for technical assistance. Haven’t you Mr. John?  “Thank you for calling Mr. John”.  “How can I help you today Mr. John”.  “If you would just hold for a minute Mr. John”. “First, you must take out the entire inside of your computer and put it back Mr. John.”…….

            1993-Saturday-  Taking advantage of a special “buy one, get one free” sale, a woman in Paris was surgically given two new lungs, both of which were cut from the single lung of a large man.        

            2001 –Tuesday- A runaway freight train rolled about 70 miles through Ohio with no one aboard before a railroad employee jumped onto the locomotive and brought it to a stop. In a series of events that could have been an Abbott and Costello movie, the train pulled into a switching yard in Toledo, Ohio. The train -- 47 cars -- had a two-man crew. The engineer saw that his train was slowly heading toward a switch that was aligned incorrectly. Fearing that the switch would be damaged, and knowing that the train's conductor was busy elsewhere, he decided to fix the problem himself by slowing the train, jumping off, pulling the switch,then jumping back onto the moving locomotive. He successfully applied two of the brakes before jumping from the train -- but instead of applying the third brake, he accidentally set the locomotive's throttle at full power!!! The locomotive's 3,000-horsepower engine overpowered the two brakes, and the train pulled away. The engineer ran after the accelerating locomotive, but couldn't pull himself aboard since the railing was wet from rain. The train drove off.

            2008 –Thursday-  A Swiss adventurer who called himself Fusionman tried out a new jet powered carbon wing, and successfully flew for five minutes before landing with a parachute. Yves Rossy, a 48-year-old former air force pilot lit the jets on his wing and then jumped from a plane over Bex, Switzerland. He was the world's first man to fly with jet powered wings.

            2009 –Friday- There was a little bit of drama as mission specialists John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel on the shuttle Atlantis successfully accomplished all their tasks for the first EVA of the Hubble servicing mission. A stubborn bolt threatened to thwart one of the spacewalk’s main goals, replacing the venerable space telescope’s workhorse optical camera with a new and improved instrument. It was stuck. It was a  wrenching experience.  They couldn’t turn it.  They held it under cold water….nope.  They held it under hot water….nope….They tapped all around the edges. They held it with a towel….finally, with a wrench (probably cost thousands of dollars) and  fair amount of old fashioned elbow grease, the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 was able to be removed. The camera was originally installed in the first Hubble servicing mission in 1993, and was nicknamed “the camera that saved Hubble” because its special optics were able to overcome the spherical aberration in the telescope’s main mirror. Now they were able to see Fi Fi La Boom Boom and Her Magic Meteorites do her pole dance at the Café Andromeda.

 Back to Calendar


1532 –Monday- Take this job and shove it I ain't workin' here no more
My woman done left and took all the reason I was working for
Ya, better not try and stand in my way
Cause I'm walkin', out the door
Take this job and shove it I ain't working here no more
Well, I been working in this factory for now on fifteen years
All this time, I watched my woman drownin' in a pool of tears
And I've seen a lot of good folks die who had a lot of bills to pay
I'd give the shirt right off of my back if I had the guts to say...
 Johnny Paycheck…..“Dear Henry, you arrogant, boorish, porcine, skirt chasing tub of goo…” well, perhaps that’s not quite what he wrote but Sir Thomas More resigned as Lord Chancellor of England. In 1530, More refused to sign a letter by the leading English churchmen and aristocrats asking the Pope to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In 1531 he attempted to resign after being forced to take an oath declaring the king the supreme head of the English church "as far the law of Christ allows." In 1532 he asked the king again to relieve him of his office, claiming that he was ill and suffering from sharp chest pains. This time Henry granted his request. Eventually,  Henry ordered that More should be placed in the Tower of London, which took place on April 17th, 1534. On July 1, 1535, More was tried before a panel of judges that included the new Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, as well as Anne Boleyn's father, brother, and uncle. He was charged with high treason for denying the validity of the Act of Succession. He was found guilty and  was taken to Tower Hill on July 6th, 1535, and beheaded.

1568 –Thursday- Big mistake number 68 in the life of Mary Queen of Scots as Mary Queen of Scots fled  to England a year after marrying husband number two’s (Darnley) probable murderer (Bothwell).  The Scottish Protestant Lords rose against her and her army suffered yet another defeat, this time at Carberry Hill, near Edinburgh, on  June 15,  1567. She surrendered, was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle, Kinross-shire and forced to abdicate in favor of her infant son James. Bothwell fled to Scandinavia, where he was arrested and held prisoner until his death. Mary escaped from Lochleven in 1568, only to be defeated at the Battle of Langside, near Glasgow, on  May 13 so she fled to England which resulted in her imprisonment by her cousin Elizabeth believing that Queen Elizabeth I would support her cause, (remember, Mary was always half a bubble off plumb) but instead she was kept in captivity in England for 19 years.

1717 –Sunday- Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills. ……..Francois Marie Arouet deVoltaire was arrested and sent to the Bastille for insults to the regent, Philippe II D'Orleans. He was freed eleven months later when it was found that he was wrongly accused. While in prison, he wrote his first play, Oedipe, which won him great recognition when it was staged following his release from prison.

1718- Monday-  Happy Birthday- Maria Gaetana Agnesi Italian mathematician and philosopher who was the first woman in the Western world considered to be a mathematician. At twenty, she began working on her most important work, Analytical Institutions, dealing with differential and integral calculus. It is believedthat she started writing Analytical Institutions as a textbook for her brothers. When her work was published in 1748, it caused a sensation in the academic world. It was one of the first and most complete works on finite and infinitesimal analysis. Agnesi’s great contribution to mathematics with this book was that it brought the works of various mathematicians together in a very systematic way with her own interpretations.

      1763-Monday-  Happy Birthday, Nicolas-Louis Vauquelin, French chemist who discovered the elements chromium, Atomic Number: 24, Atomic Weight: 51.996 in 1797 and beryllium – named after comedian Milton Berle- Atomic number: 4, Atomic Weight 9.012182 in 1798. Vauquelin also  isolated the first amino acid, asparagine, found in many proteins, particularly in plant proteins, such as in asparagus. He also discovered pectin, usually used in jams and jellies.

               1770- Wednesday- Oh, no, we're not too young
Young to get married
Not too young
Young to get married
What kind of difference
Can a few years make
I gotta have you now
Or my heart will break
Not too young, young to get married
Not too young, young to get married
…….Bob B. Soxx and the Bluejeans…….A social note where at Versailles, Louis, the French dauphin, marries fourteen year old Marie Antoinette, (he defended the marriage citing Jerry Lee Lewis and saying “at least she’s not my thirteen year old cousin”) the daughter of Austrian Archduchess Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I. The groom in an Yves St. Laurent tuxedo and the bride in a Coco Chanel gown had the reception at Pierre’s Eiffel Tower Catering and Craperia.  Music was supplied by Dimitri Bouclier on the accordion. France hoped their marriage would strengthen its alliance with Austria, its longtime enemy. In 1774, with the death of King Louis XV, Louis and Marie were crowned king and queen of France. They would reign until the French Revolution’s monarchectomy of 1793.

     1801 –Saturday-  Happy Birthday - William H. Seward, United States Secretary of State, most famous for his bargain purchase of Alaska at 2 ¢/acre.  In the Election of 1860 Seward was the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. However, opposition from Horace Greeley and other radical elements thwarted his hopes, opening the door for Abraham Lincoln. Seward assisted Harriet Tubman by selling land to her in Auburn, New York, for her home. His house served as a post for the Underground Railroad. Seward was almost killed on the night Lincoln was assassinated, as he was stabbed several times by Booth’s co-conspirator, Lewis Powell.

      1836 –Monday- Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you brother
You can't have one without the other
Love and marriage, love and marriage
It's an institute you can't disparage
Ask the local gentry
And they will say it's elementary ……
Frank Sinatra……. Not to be outdone by Louis IVX and Jerry Lee Lewis, Edgar Allan Poe, age 27,  married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm in Richmond Virginia. He married her again the following day, May 16. 

      1843 –Tuesday  We’ve also seen this as May 17 but at any rate they left and the first major wagon train heading for the Pacific Northwest set out on the Oregon Trail with one thousand pioneers from Elm Grove, Missouri set out from Elm Grove, Missouri. Hundreds of thousands more would follow, especially after gold was discovered in California in 1849. While the first few parties organized and departed from Elm Grove, Missouri the Oregon Trail's generally designated starting point was Independence or Westport, Missouri. The trail ended at Oregon City, Oregon, which was the proposed capital of the Oregon Territory at the time. What to wear? What to wear? We found this “what to pack list”  at the Oregon Trailers at  Cotton and linen fabrics do not protect the direct rays of the midday sun, nor against rains or sudden changes of temperature. Therefore, clothing made of wool for the plains is highly recommended.  Capt. John B. Marcy in his guidebook, The Prairie Traveler, states: "The coat should be short and stout, the shirt of red or blue flannel, such as can be found in almost any shop on the frontier; this, in warm weather, answers for an outside garment.  The pants should be of thick and soft woolen material, and it is well to have them re-enforced on the inside, where they come in contact with the saddle, with soft buckskin, which makes them more durable and comfortable."

"Woolen socks and stout boots, coming up well at the knees, and made large, so as to admit the pants, will be found the best for horsemen, and they guard against rattlesnake bites.  In traveling through deep snow during very cold weather in winter, moccasins are preferable to boots or shoes, as being more pliable, and allowing a freer circulation of the blood.""In the summer season shoes are much better for footmen than boots, as they are lighter, and do not cramp the ankles; the soles should be broad, so as to allow a square, firm tread, without distorting or pinching the feet.""The following list of articles is deemed a sufficient outfit for one man upon a three months' expedition, viz:
2 blue or red flannel overshirts, open in front, with buttons
2 woolen undershirts
2 pairs thick cotton drawers
4 pairs woolen socks
2 pairs cotton socks
4 colored silk handerchiefs
2 pairs stout shoes, for footmen
1 pair boots, for horsemen
1 pair shoes, for horsemen
3 towels
1 gutta percha poncho
1 broad-brimmed hat of soft felt
1 comb and brush
2 tooth-brushes
1 pound Castile soap
3 pounds bar soap for washing clothes
1 belt-knife and small whetstone
Stout linen thread, large needles, a bit of beeswas, a few buttons, paper of pins, and a thimble, all contained in a small buckskin or stout cloth bag Coat and overcoat…..No wonder they needed a wagon.

      1849-Wednesday-  The New York City Board of Health finally established a hospital on the second floor of a building on Orange Street above a deal with a cholera epidemic that killed  more than 5,000 people. The city was a fertile breeding ground an epidemic of this kind because of poor health conditions and its status as a destination for immigrants from around the world. Sounds like now. On December 1, 1948, the ship New York arrived in New York from France carryin passengers, cargo and cholera bacteria.. On board were the bodies of seven passengers who had died from cholera on the journey. Upon arrival, the surviving passengers were quarantined at a Staten Island customs warehouse to contain the outbreak. Within a month, 60 of these passengers had experienced cholera symptoms and 30 had gone kaput. Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. A person may get cholera by drinking watre, eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium or watching to many political commercials during a primary election. In an epidemic, the source of the contamination is usually the feces (stool) of an infected person. The disease can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water.

1861 –Thursday- Happy Birthday, Irving W. Colburn American inventor and manufacturer whose process for fabricating continuous sheets of flat glass made the mass production of glass for windows possible. Colburn began his experiments in 1899 which resulted in his patent for a sheet glass drawing machine.  But it doesn’t have a happy ending for Colburn as the Colburn Machine Glass Company attempted to produce sheet glass by mechanical means. In the first couple of years Colburn built many (and sometimes crude) machines to make sheet glass. The process was thought to be a success in 1908, and glowing accounts of the day talked about the greatness of the Colburn machine. But, from 1905 to 1912, fifteen different machines had been constructed and more than a million dollars spent, with only a few thousand boxes of poor quality glass to show for the effort. By 1911, the company was in bankruptcy and its assets (including the numerous patents of Colburn) were auctioned off on February 8, 1912. These patents were later purchased by The Toledo Glass Company, of which Edward Libbey was President. Plus glass sheets are a lot more uncomfortable than cotton sheets.

      1866-Wednesday-  The US Treasury Department was authorized to manufacture and place into circulation the first 5 cent coin, more often referred to as the "nickel." Prior to introduction of the nickel, five-cent pieces were very small silver coins called "half disme" (disme - pronounced like "dime"). . Due to shortages of silver during and after the Civil War an alternative metal was needed for five-cent coinage. The copper-nickel alloy (it’s always good to have alloys during a war) still in use today was selected.  It is 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel. Nickels have a smooth edge; the nickel is 21.21 mm in diameter and is 1.95 mm thick. It is called the “shield nickel” because it portrays the shield of the United States with the date above it. The expression  Not worth a plugged nickel” means worthless.  A plugged nickel has a hole shot through it by a marksman.

             1866-Wednesday-  And on the same day that the saw the birth of the nickel, we saw the birth of Root Beer as it was invented by Charles Elmer Hires.  Hires was a Quaker pharmacist and entrepreneur from Philadelphia and he created his “Hires’ Herb Tea” from 16 wild roots and berries, including juniper, pipsissewa – in case you were wondering, it’s a  small herb a foot or less in height with a long, running, partly underground stem and shining, dark-green, evergreen, somewhat leathery leaves-- , spikenard, wintergreen and sarsaparilla and hops.  Sales of the drink were slow until he introduced it at the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exhibition with a brand new name — “root beer.” This new name made it an alternative to alcoholic drinks and it was an immediate success, for him personally and for the then young temperance movement that he supported.

            1868-Saturday-The U.S. Senate voted on the 11th Article of Impeachment ( impeaching President Andrew Johnson and would acquit him of committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.” the Senate came within a single vote – Edmund Ross of Missouri- of taking the unprecedented step of removing a president from office.  Although the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson was ostensibly about a violation of the Tenure of Office Act, it was also about Johnson's lenient policies towards Reconstruction and his vetoes of the Freedmen's Bureau Act and the Civil Rights Act. Following the failure to impeach Johnson, they tried to impear, impomegranate, imbanana, and imwatermelon him. None of these efforts came to fruition.

                        1881-Monday- O, I am fortune's fool!......Romeo…… “For he’s a jolly good fellows”….Dick Fellows, an inept horseman but persistent outlaw, became a free man after spending five years in the San Quentin prison. It was supposed to be for a few months but 1875 as he was being taken to prison he escaped and stole a horse with no saddle. So he found a farm and stole a saddle, but when he tried to place it on the horse...the horse ran back home. He begged a meal from a nice lady who later told her husband, and soon Dick was captured. But  what got him arrested in the first place?  Glad you asked.  Dick robbed  the LA stagecoach but he didn’t have an ax to open the strongbox. He  decided to place the box on the waiting horse but  the horse got spooked and ran home. Dick  then had to get away on foot but it was  dark so naturally he fell off an 18 foot drop, breaking his leg above the ankle and crushing the instep of the same foot with the box. He dragged himself, box and all, to a Chinese work camp (Southern Pacific Railway) to steal an ax and break open box. Dick then removes the $1800 he found and bought  food from the workers . He then made some crutches. He staggered to another farm house and stole yet another horse. The sheriff and his men, tracking the hapless desperado, found one Tommy Fountain looking for his father's stolen horse. The trail was easy to follow as the horse had only one temporary mule shoe. When the sheriff found  the horse thief he found good old Dick.  Dick got 8 months.

            1888-Wednesday-  Ich bin ein Berliner” German born, American inventor, Emile Berliner gave the first demonstration of flat disc recording and reproduction before the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. After this began to produce experimental disks stamped out in celluloid, then in hard rubber.  Berliner would coat a zinc disc, (not the kitchen zinc)  made from regular stovemaker's zinc, with a beeswax and cold gasoline mixture. Then he cleared away the coating with fine lines made by a stylus attached to a mica diaphragm so that it would vibrate from side to side. Then, after coating the blank reverse side of the disc with varnish, he would immerse the disc in an acid bath. After a certain time, the acid etched the fine lines into grooves in the zinc, leaving the remaining parts of the disc untouched. With the vibrations fixed into the zinc, the disc could be placed on a turntable and the sound reproduced with a steel stylus. This is how the earliest disc records were eventually made. Unlike the cylinder machines which could be used for both recording and playback, As a name for the whole operation the inventor coined the word "gramophone" (in early advertisements it was often written Gram-o-phone).

            1897 – Thirty two years before the first Academy Awards, Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith of the newly formed Vitagraph film company shot their first fictional film, The Burglar on the Roof (not to be confused with Isaac Beshevis Singer’s Fiddler on the Roof) The film, with a run time of one minute,  was made on the, yes,  roof of a the Morse Building - 140 Nassau Street Manhattan New York City. The existential plot involved a thief shown coming through a skylight only to be discovered by tenants, who attack him. The epic would be released in 1898.

            1906 – Happy Birthday- Margret Rey, author and illustrator. Rey and her husband, Hans Augusto “H.A” were most famous for their Curious George books. The first, Curious George, was published in 1941. This story of a nosy little monkey who lives with a patient and kindly friend, "the man in the yellow hat," became an instant hit with children and their parents.  The success of their character prompted Rey and her husband, at the instigation of Houghton Mifflin, to create six more Curious George books: Curious George Takes a Job (1947), Curious George Rides a Bike (1952), Curious George Gets a Medal (1957), Curious George Flies a Kite (1958), Curious George Learns the Alphabet (1963), Curious George Goes to the Hospital (1966) and Curious George Meets Rambo. Margret Rey not only wrote the stories that her husband illustrated; she also reportedly "posed" as George for her husband, leaping around the studio and contorting her face in simian mimicry.

            1919 – Wednesday- A naval Curtiss aircraft NC-4 (Flying Boat) commanded by Albert Cushing Read with Walter Hinton, Elmer F. Stone, James L. Breese, Eugene T "Smokey" Rhoads and Herbert C Rodd as the crew. left Trepassey, Newfoundland, for Lisbon via the Azores on the first transatlantic flight. Remember Lindbergh’s was the first solo transatlantic flight.   This flight originated in Rockaway New York on May 8. After a fifteen hour flight from Newfoundland to the Azores and some repairs. It continued on to Lisbon. Landing on May 27.

            1929-Thursday- That I have? He would drown the stage with tears,
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty, and appall the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears…
..Hamlet……. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out its first awards, at a dinner party for around 250 people (most of them the singer, Prince’s “posse”) held in Blossom Room of Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.  There wasn’t a whole lot of suspense as the winners were announced to the press on Monday, February 18, 1929 - three months early.  After a dinner of Filet of Sole Saute au Buerre and Half Broiled Chicken on Toast,  tacos,  and General Tso’s chicken, Jamba Juice Chocolate Moo'd Power Smoothie, and Caramel Banana Pecan Cream Stacked and Stuffed hotcakes, Douglas Fairbanks, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, gave a speech and introduced the winners; Picture-, Wings, Actor: Emil Jannings (The Last Command; The Way of All Flesh), Actress: Janet Gaynor (Seventh Heaven; Street Angel; Sunrise), and Director: Frank Borzage (Seventh Heaven) / Lewis Milestone (Two Arabian Knights)

            1934 –Wednesday-  The closer you are the brighter the stars in the sky ….The Channels…..Happy Birthday Roy Kerr, Kiwi mathematician who solved Einstein's field equations of general relativity to describe rotating black holes and thus provided a major contribution to the field of astrophysics as well as an explanation for the existence of  Miley Cyrus. Kerr found the solution of Einstein's equations which describes the space outside a rotating star or black hole. He deduced a unique two-parameter family of solutions which describes the space-time around black holes in July 1963. The two parameters are the mass of the black hole and the angular momentum of the black hole.

            1935 –Thursday-  Whispering bells,
Whisper low,
Whispering bells,
Love you so,
Bring my baby
Oh my baby back to me.
(Baby back to me)
Whispering bells,
loud and clear,
Your sweet chimes
glad to hear,
Bring my baby
Oh my baby back to me.
Happy Birthday,  Corinthian "Kripp" Johnson, first tenor of the Dell-Vikings  who sang lead on Whispering Bells.  Note they were also spelled Del-Vikings and after splitting up there were several Del Vikings running around. In fact, Mercury's Del Vikings and  Dot's "Dell-Vikings" had singles released the same week in June 1957

            1941 –Friday-  Today’s notable movie premiere, an epic of figurative language,  is The Cowboy and the Blonde starring George Montgomery (who would marry Dinah Shore), Mary Beth Hughes, uber villain Alan Mowbray, and perpetual sidekick, Fuzzy Knight.  We like the title and we like the Fuzzy Knight quote “Well, cut off my legs and call me Shorty!” Finalists for today’s notable premier included The Blood Beast Terror (1968), Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary (2002), Mutant Swinger from Mars (2003), Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), Top Gun (1986), and Hiroshima mon amour (1959).

            1946-Thursday- At the May 16, 1946 meeting of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE, now IEEE) in San Francisco, Jack Mullin gave the first public demonstration of professional-quality tape recording in America. Mullin had come across the “magnetophon” in Frankfurt Germany at the end of World War II.  Mullin legally obtained for himself two unmodified Magnetophons under war souvenir regulations. During his last few months in the Army, he took the machines apart and sent them home to San Francisco in pieces because regulations specified that only a war souvenir that fit inside a mailbag could be sent. In total, Mullin shipped thirty-five packages, all of which arrived safely. Within three months, Mullin had reassembled the machines and fitted them with “American electronics” of his own design.

            1946 –Thursday-  Mullin could have taken his magnetic tape recorder  to the theater since that night, Annie Get Your Gun opened on Broadway. Composer and lyricist, Irving Berlin settled on the title after trying and discarding, Annie Get Your Pea Shooter, Annie Get Your Sling Shot, Annie Get Your Bazooka, and Annie Get Your Tomahawk. Directed by Joshua Logan and starring Ethel Merman, Ray Middleton, Earl Sauvain, Lea Penman, Betty Anne Nyma, Harry Bellaver, Kenny Bowers, and William O'Neal, the show would run for 1,147 performances .

            1960 –Monday-  Theodore Maiman operated the first optical laser, at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California. His invention was influenced by an article by Arthur L. Schawlow and Charles H. Townes, Infrared and Optical Masers, which appeared in The Physics Review in 1958. In their article the two scientists laid out a theoretical basis for the laser construction and outlined some of its problematic aspects. Maiman became the winner of the race to create the laser, which began in 1959.  LASER is an acronym for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The concept consists of an excited state atom ( after viewing pictures of naked molecules in suggestive poses, there is nothing like an excited atom)encountering a photon of the same energy that corresponds to the DE between the excited and ground states of the atom. When such a photon is encountered, it causes the emission of another photon of the same energy. Albert Einstein first suggested this phenomenon in a 1916 paper.The precursor to the laser was the maser. The maser amplified electromagnetic radiation of much shorter wavelengths in the microwave range (thus the M instead of L in maser).

            1965 –Sunday The neat round spaghetti you eat with a spoon,
Uh Oh, spaghetti os. Great moments in culinary history; The sandwich was created, c6500BC Rice begins to be cultivated in China’s central Yangtze Valley. The Sumerians (occupying the area of present-day Iraq) come up with the concept of the sausage, And…….on this day, the Campbell Soup Company introduced Spaghetti Os under its Franco-American brand. Franco-American said the little Os were easier and less messy to eat, and sold their point by advertising on napkins. But they really shot to popularity when singer Jimmie Rodgers (Kisses Sweeter Than Wine) recorded the now-famous Uh Oh SpaghettiOs! song. Like the formula for coke, the composition of Spaghetti Os is in doubt.  Are they a mixture of different pastas, anelli, anellini, and occhi di pernice?  Or, according to the Franco-American Kidz Fun Facts website, ditali, ditalini, tubetti, and tubetini. Well?

             1969 –Friday- She's Venus in blue jeans
Mona Lisa with a ponytail
She's a-walkin' talkin' work of art
She's the girl who stole my heart
My Venus in blue jeans
Is the Cinderella I adore
She's my very special angel too
A fairy tale come true
….Jimmy Clanton…… Venera 5, a Soviet space probe, landedon Venus. Atmospheric data was returned indicating an atmosphere composed of 93-97% carbon dioxide, 2-5% nitrogen, and less than 4% oxygen. The probe returned data down to within 26 kilometers of surface and was then lost - crushed by the pressure on Venus. That was what they thought at the time. But…..the Gnus has learned that the probe was in fact seized by women with high heels and short dresses ruled by their Queen, Zsa Zsa Gabor.  They were trying to protect captured American astronaut, Eric Fleming.

            1974 –Thursday-  In a stunning turn of events, dictator Josip Broz Tito was re-elected president of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Tito was getting tired of running for re-election so this time he was elected for life.

            1975-Friday-   Made it Ma. Top of the World”…..James Cagney….Junko Tabai, a member of a team of 15 Japanese women became the first woman to scale Mt. Everest. Tabai used the via the South-East Ridge route. Everest is a mountain in the central Himalayas on the border of Tibet and Nepal; the highest mountain peak in the world. Naturally, it has two names; the Nepali Name is Sagarmatha (which means Goddess of the sky) and the Tibetan Name  is Chomolungma (which means mother Goddess of the Universe) Either way, it’s really high, 8848 meters or 29,029 ft

            1987 –Saturday-  The Bobro 400 set sail from New York Harbor to begin an epic voyage with 3,200 tons of aromatic garbage. The barge traveled 6,000 miles in search of a place to dump the trash.  For some reason, no one wanted it. Bobro 400 returned to New York Harbor after eight weeks it was gornisht except with the same, albeit considerably smellier,  load. Presumably it was then dumped on city streets where no one could tell the difference.

            1988 –Monday-  A year after the Bobro set sail with its cargo of garbage, The U.S. Supreme Court, in California vs. Greenwood, ruled that police do not have to have a search warrant to search discarded garbage. Local police suspected Billy Greenwood was dealing drugs from his residence. Because the police did not have enough evidence for a warrant to search his home, they searched the garbage bags Greenwood had left at the curb for pickup. The police uncovered evidence of drug use, which was then used to obtain a warrant to search the house. That search turned up illegal substances, and Greenwood was arrested on felony charges.

            1988-Monday-  Smokin' in the boys' room
                Smokin' in the boys' room
                Now, teacher, don't you fill me up with your rules
                But everybody knows that smokin' ain't allowed in school…..
Brownsville Station…..Nicotine was declared to be addictive in ways similar to heroin and cocaine, in a report released by U.S. Surgeon-General C. Everett Koop. Nicotine serves as the tobacco plant’s natural defense against insects and, in its pure form, is more poisonous than either strychnine or arsenic. Its chemical structure is similar to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, giving it easy access to the brain’s reward and pleasure pathways hoo hah!

            1992-Saturday….. The space shuttle Endeavour completed its maiden voyage with a safe landing in the California desert. This was Endeavour’s first flight. It was built as a replacement for Challenger. The crew captured a stranded in an unusable orbit since launch aboard a Titan vehicle in March 199O during an EVA (extravehicular activity) and equipped with a new perigee kick motor. The Satellite was subsequently released into orbit and the new motor fired to put the spacecraft into a geosynchronous orbit for operational use. Sort of like a large mouth bass that you caught that was too small. Microbes returning to Earth, spread and resulted Ignorius Consumeritis, a disease that causes retail store employees to talk to each other while a customer dons a cloak of invisibility.

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The annual  Sheep Shearing Festival in North Andover, Massachusetts.  Of course people participate for the shear fun of it, although they have to share the shearers as long as they're not sheepish about it.  Ewe know what I'm sayin?

      1521 Tuesday- May 17 was a big day for executing traitors in 16th century England. Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was  executed for treason. Through his father he was descended from Edward III's son, Thomas of Woodstock, and his mother was Catherine Woodville, sister of Edward IV's queen, Elizabeth Woodville; she afterwards married Henry VII's uncle, Jasper Tudo, Duke of Bedford so he arguably had a better claim to the crown than Henry VIII, an extremely jealous man.    The Dukester was accused of having listened to prophecies of the king's death and of his own succession to the crown, and of having expressed an intention to kill Henry. The chief witnesses against him included his confessor,  Delacourt , but the duke was not allowed to cross-examine them. Henry had made up his mind that Buckingham was to die, and the peers did not venture to dispute the decision. He was condemned, and executed on Tower Hill. We note that being a Duke of Buckingham could be hazardous since the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, Henry Stafford had been executed in 1483 by Richard III.

1536 –Sunday-  Goin' out of my head over you
out of my head over you
Out of my head day and night,
Night and day, and night
wrong or right,
……Little Anthony and the Imperials……George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford, brother in law of the decapitation happy Henry VIII, the brother of Anne Boleyn and four other men were executed for treason on Tower Hill – site of public executions.  These were quite a bit more gruesome than the private executions, just plain old beheadings, on Tower Green in the Tower of London. Public executions frequently featured  being fricasseed at the stake and Hung, Drawn and Quartered a la William Wallace in 1305.  On May 15th 1536 George Boleyn was tried for treason and incest (with his sister, Anne)  in the Great Hall of the Tower of London.  His wife, Jane Rochford (who would meet her own denoument in the same way in 1542, testified against him  His father, Thomas Boleyn the Earl of Wiltshire, was no help. Mark Smeaton, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton and Sir Henry Norris  also bit the dust with George. Anne Bolyn would be executed, on Tower Green, on May 19

 1673 –Wednesday- (Gonna find her)
(Gonna find her)
(Gonna find her)
(Gonna find her)
Yeah, I've been searchin'
A-a searchin'
Oh, yeah, searchin' every which a-way
Yeah, yeah
Oh, yeah, searchin'
I'm searchin'
Searchin' every which a-way
Yeah, yeah…
The Coasters……..Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette began exploring the Mississippi River. Jacques Marquette (also known as Father Marquette) was a Catholic missionary and explorer. Louis Jolliet was a French-Canadian trader and explorer. In 1672, Jolliet was named leader of an expedition that would explore the northern part of the Mississippi River the following year. Along with five others, Jolliet and Marquette crossed Lake Michigan, and explored the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, before reaching the Mississippi River. They followed the Mississippi southward past the mouth of the Arkansas River, then returned northward. Their voyage helped to initiate the first white settlements in the North American interior, gave French names to cities from La Crosse to New Orleans, transformed traditional Indian cultures, and nearly exterminated the fur-bearing mammals of the Upper Midwest. In two canoes paddled by five voyageurs, Marquette and Joliet followed the Mississippi hundreds of miles south to Arkansas — far enough to confirm that it drained into the Gulf of Mexico but not so far that they would be captured by the Spanish. Both men kept records of the voyage. Marquette's journal lay unread in a Jesuit archive in Montreal for nearly 200 years.

            1682 –Sunday-  Happy Birthday, Bartholomew Roberts, AKA Black Bart, notorious Welsh pirate.  It is claimed that he made more than 400 pirate conquests and he was so proud of his work that he designed his own flag. That design was the skull and cross bones - and the flag became known as the Jolly Roger.  Bart went kaput in February 1722.  He was trying to escape the British frigate, Swallow, unfortunately his crew and helmsman were so drunk from previous day’s success that the Swallow was able to deliver two broadsides.  Bart bit the dust. Before his body could be captured Roberts' wish to be buried at sea was fulfilled by his crew, who weighed his body down and threw it overboard after wrapping it in his ship's sail. It was never found

             1749-Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Edward Jenner, English physician  who developed the technique of vaccination.  In 1796 he carried out his now famous experiment on eight-year-old James Phipps. Jenner inserted pus taken from a cowpox pustule and inserted it into an incision on the boy's arm. He was testing his theory, drawn from folklore that milkmaids who suffered the mild disease of cowpox never contracted smallpox, one of the greatest killers of the period, particularly amongst children. Jenner subsequently proved that having been inoculated with cowpox Phipps was immune to smallpox although he developed a tendency to chew his cud and moo on occasion.  In 1798 the results were finally published and Jenner coined the word vaccine from the Latin 'vacca' for cow.

1792 Thursday- The New York Stock Exchange was founded with the signing of the Buttonwood Agreement by twenty four New York City stockbrokers and merchants outside at 68 Wall Street under a Buttonwood tree. In the beginning there were five securities traded in New York City with the first listed company on the NYSE being the Bank of New York. The terms of the agreement indicated that stockbrokers were to only deal with each other (no auctioneers), and that they would use a set commission rate of 0.25%.

 1804-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, John G. Anthony, American conchologist (conchology is the study of the practice of running  up and conking someone on the head and then pretending you didn’t do it) who was was recognized as an authority on the American land and fresh-water mollusca. During a career in business, his interest in natural history led to a collection of freshwater mollusks of the Ohio River. He hoped to title his book, Good Golly Miss Mollusk.

1836- Tuesday- Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain.
Sunny, you smiled at me and really eased the pain.
The dark days are gone, and the bright days are here,
My Sunny one shines so sincere.
Sunny one so true, I love you.
…..Bobby Hebb…..Happy Birthday, Sir Joseph Lockyer, British astronomer who discovered in the  Sun's atmosphere a previously unknown element that he named helium. Lockyer was one of the first to make a spectroscopic examination of the sun and stars. He devised in 1868, a method of observing solar prominences with the spectroscope in daylight. That was the same year he discovered the element helium in the sun and applied the name chromosphere to the layer, or envelope, of gas around the sun.

1868-Sunday- Happy Birthday, Horace Elgin Dodge, who, with his brother John Francis Dodge, were early twentieth century American automobile manufacturers who invented one of the first all-steel cars in America. They built their first Dodge car Nov 1914 in Detroit, Mich.

1875 –Monday-  Aristides won the first Kentucky Derby in 2:37.75. The jockey was Oliver Lewis and Volcano finished second with Verdigris to show.  The racetrack would not be named Churchill Downs until 1883. It had been built by Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. who was the founder of the Louisville Jockey Club. He was the grandson of explorer and Missouri governor General William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. His mother was Abigail Prather Churchill, from one of the first families of Kentucky

 1883-Thursday-  Swedish physical chemist, Svante Arrhenius claimed he was struck by the ideas for his dissociation theory during a sleepless night. (He had spent the day watching an American Idol marathon on TV).  This theory explains that substances like salt (ex. sodium chloride) when dissolved in water, dissociate (separate) into electrically charged ions (ex. positive sodium ions and negative chloride ions). In 1903 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The idea was controversial at first, (people thought he was an "idiot" Svante) but is now a basic fact in understanding the chemistry of ionic compounds.

1902 –Saturday-  Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discoveredthe Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer.  It only used a Vista operating system so it had been discarded. Many scientists originally thought the Antikythera Mechanism was a piece of navigational equipment.  Little did they know it would be one of the most important scientific measuring devices ever discovered. The Antikythera Mechanism, built circa 80 B.C,  is one of the first pieces of evidence to show that many people actually believed that all planets rotated around the sun, disproving the previous thoughts of thinkers like Aristotle.

1915 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Marcel Roland de Quervain Swiss glaciologist (any of the branches of science dealing with snow or ice accumulation, glaciation, or glacial epochs )who investigated the physical properties of snow, which he applied to the development of avalanche warning systems and the mitigation of other problems associated with snowfields. Unfortunately, he was never able to explain why it always snows when you have an important appointment, or other times that it is least convenient.

1939 –Wednesday-  The Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, NY (site of the first date between Professor Sy Yentz and (eventually) his lovely bride to be, Margaret Kearney) was the setting for a dual-network radio broadcast of Glenn Miller and his orchestra. Two networks, NBC and Mutual carried the event, which was attended by 1,800 people in the casino ballroom. Miller, famous for hits such as In the Mood, Moonlight Serenade, Pennsylvania 6-5000, and