Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ray Spider And It's Slingshot Web...!

I did a post here while back about a spitting spider, but this guy beats the spitter all to pieces.

Using a spider silk slingshot, he traps his prey while they fly by. Pretty neat trick, considering that the spider just senses when it's prey is starting to fly by. How he does that is still unknown, but it works pretty well!

The Ray Spider’s Slingshot Web



Photo credit: Akio Tanikawa

We’ve known about ray spiders for nearly a century, but little research has been done on them. The few species that we do know about are found all over the world, so it’s no surprise that this little Amazonian acrobat escaped the attention of mainstream science for so long. It’s been tentatively identified as the Naatlo splendida species by the graduate student who first observed it, but nobody’s quite sure about that, either.

What they are sure about is that the thing can put on a heck of a show. Rather than sit in its web and wait for insects to fly into it—like most web spinners—this ray spider has turned its web into a slingshot net that can nab insects out of the air.

The spider first spins its web like normal, but then it attaches a secondary string to a rock or branch behind the web. When the spider sits in the center of the web and reels in the string, the web stretches back like a rubber band. Whenever the spider senses an insect approaching (nobody’s figured out how it does that yet), the spider releases the string and shoots the web—with the spider still attached—into the oncoming insect.

The slingshot web is only about the width of a man’s palm, but that seems to be perfect for catching mosquitoes, which usually fly too slowly to stick to a spider’s web.

There is a video on YouTube that shows the slingshot web in action, if you want to see it. Just search for Ray Spider!

Better have our coffee inside today as the rain from the tropical storm in the Gulf is getting pretty wet!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Joe Meek On Western Wednesday...!

Not many of the well known mountain men realized that the lifestyle they loved so much was slowly coming to an end. Not so in the case of Joe Meek.

Not only did he see the end coming, but took action to create another lifestyle where he could not only prosper, but carry on in much the same manner as before. He must have been quite the character.

1875
Mountain man Joe Meek dies

A skilled practitioner of the frontier art of the tall tale, the mountain man Joe Meek dies on his farm in Oregon. His life was nearly as adventurous as his stories claimed.

Born in Virginia in 1810, Meek was a friendly and relentlessly good-humored young man, but he had too much rambunctious energy to do well in school. At 16 years old, the illiterate Meek moved west to join two of his brothers in Missouri. In subsequent years, he taught himself to read and write, but his spelling and grammar remained highly original throughout his life.

In early 1829, Meek joined William Sublette’s ambitious expedition to begin fur trading in the Far West. For the next decade, Meek traveled throughout the West, reveling in the adventure and independence of the mountain man life. At 6 feet, 2 inches tall, the heavily bearded Meek became a favorite character at the annual mountain-men rendezvous, where he regaled his companions with humorous and often exaggerated stories of his wilderness adventures. A renowned grizzly hunter, Meek claimed he liked to “count coup” on the dangerous animals before killing them, a variation on a Native American practice in which they shamed a live human enemy by tapping them with a long stick. Meek also told a story in which he claimed to have wrestled an attacking grizzly with his bare hands before finally sinking a tomahawk into its brain.

Over the years, Meek established good relations with many Native Americans, and he married three Indian women, including the daughter of a Nez Perce chief. Nonetheless, he also frequently fought with tribes who were hostile to the incursion of the mountain men into their territories. In the spring of 1837, Meek was nearly killed by a Blackfeet warrior who was taking aim with his bow while Meek tried to reload his Hawken rifle. Luckily for Meek, the warrior dropped his first arrow while drawing the bow, and the mountain man had time to reload and shoot.

In 1840, Meek recognized that the golden era of the free trappers was ending. Joining with another mountain man, Meek and his third wife guided one of the first wagon trains to cross the Rockies on the Oregon Trail. Meek settled in the lush Willamette Valley of western Oregon, became a farmer, and actively encouraged other Americans to join him. In 1847, Meek led a delegation to Washington, D.C., asking for military protection from Indian attacks and territorial status for Oregon. Though he arrived “ragged, dirty, and lousy,” Meek became something of a celebrity in the capitol. Easterners relished the boisterous good humor Meek showed in proclaiming himself the “envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from the Republic of Oregon to the Court of the United States.” Congress responded by making Oregon an official American territory and Meek became a U.S. marshal.

Meek returned to Oregon and became heavily involved in politics, eventually helping to found the Oregon Republican Party. He later retired to his farm, where he died on this day at the age of 65.

It would have been fun to hear a few of the tales ol' Joe told, don't ya think? Good story tellers are hard to find now days...except in Washington, of course.

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Story Of Kilroy...!

How much do we really know about how some fads got started? Some of them...not so much.

When you study fads like Kilroy, for instance, the history is more rich than you might think. That's the case with many fads and we should try and learn where more of these long lasting fads came from, in my opinon.

Kilroy Was Here



Photo credit: Luis Rubio

A war might be a strange source for fads, but soldiers need some way to entertain themselves, too. That is why “Kilroy was here” appeared during World War II. The piece of graffiti showed a bald man with a long nose sticking his head over a wall. It was simple, easy to draw, and lighthearted enough to become a popular recurring joke that endured even once the war was over.

Although Kilroy was firmly associated with America GIs, it was inspired by an older British drawing known as Mr. Chad. Chad, allegedly the 1938 creation of British cartoonist George Chatterton, also poked his bald head over the wall and said “Wot? No tea?” (Tea was substituted with sugar, tobacco, or whatever else was in short supply.)

By the end of the war, there were thousands of “Kilroy was here” drawings all over Europe and America, so this was clearly the work of thousands of soldiers, not just one guy bored out of his mind. But was there ever a real Kilroy? More than one person came forward as the real Kilroy, but the generally accepted origin is one James J. Kilroy, a shipyard inspector during the war. He had a habit of scribbling “Kilroy was here” in crayon on ships that passed inspection. In 1946, the Transit Company of America held a contest to find the real Kilroy, and James provided them with enough evidence to claim the prize, his very own trolley car.

Kilroy has had an interesting history, as have other fads. I'm sure that new ones will pop up all around us before long. Seems to be one of those things we are really good at for some reason.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. There may be a tropical storm headed our way, though.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Missing Flight For Monday Mystery...!

We don't often have a mystery involving planes as much as we do boats and ships, so today lets fix that.

This one is different due to the fact that when the plane went down, it's location was known. But then, it disappeared. How strange is that? Here is the story about this missing flight.

Transatlantic C-124 Flight



Photo credit: Walker Aviation Museum

This is a strange one. On the late afternoon of March 23, 1951, a US Air Force Douglas C-124 Globemaster II on its way to England ditched into the ocean. An explosion in the cargo hold and the ensuing fire forced the pilots to put the plane down in the Atlantic, a few hundred miles from Ireland. The exact location was radioed by the pilots, and the ditching itself was successful.

The 53 passengers and crew aboard the flight donned life preservers and climbed aboard well-equipped emergency rafts. A B-29 had already been en route with the intention of aiding the plane in its navigation to the nearest airfield. When it arrived at the location transmitted by the pilots, the crew of the B-29 observed the passengers and crew in their rafts. It seemed everyone was okay.

The B-29 then had to return to base, as it was running low on fuel. However, when rescue crews arrived, the plane and the stricken passengers had all disappeared without a trace. All that was left was a piece of charred plywood and a briefcase. Nobody knows what happened in those hours while help was on the way.

It just seems strange to me that in the time it probably took for the rescue plane to refuel, the downed plane and the passengers just vanished. Plenty of things could have happened, I guess, but it still seems strange to me.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, while it's still sort of cool.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Cartoons For Father's Day...!

This isn't a typical Sunday...it's Father's Day. What does that mean, you ask? Cartoons, of course!







And maybe just one more...

Well, that's all. I hope that all you Fathers out there have a very good day. Just remember to say something nice to your Dad is he is still around, OK?

Let's have coffee out on the patio again this morning!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Remember This Place...?

There are a few towns right here in our great country that have had some really terrible disasters befall them, and most have never recovered.

The town mentioned here, Centralia, is one I'm sure you must have heard about before. Fire has been raging underground there for many years and, as of yet, no one has any idea on how to stop it.

Centralia, Pennsylvania



In 1962, officials decided to burn a huge pile of trash at Centralia’s dump. Unfortunately, the town’s dump—and much of the town—was located on top of an abandoned coal mine. After the fire had consumed the trash, it ignited the leftover coal.

The fire began to spread throughout the mines. Carbon monoxide started to seep up from the ground, and people began losing consciousness in their homes. Sinkholes and cracks appeared throughout the town. After a 12-year-old boy fell into a burning sinkhole in the 1980s—he survived—authorities intensified their efforts to douse the fire. Nothing worked. The government realized that they could not stop the fire, and they relocated the residents.

Today, the town is nearly abandoned, and the fire still burns. The fire has consumed much of the mines: it destroyed all of the mine’s timbers and bracing. Parts of the mine could collapse at any moment, which makes the ground above dangerous to walk on. Even Centralia’s air is deadly. Sulfurous steam blows out of hundreds of fissures and holes in the mud. The gases poison the air, and they can suffocate a person.

There is a list of other toxic ghost towns, many here in the states, over on Listverse if you would like to take a look.

Coffee is gonna be out on the patio again. Soon we'll have to go inside due to the heat and the humidity.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Wrong Punishment On Freaky Friday...!

England was very, very strict about their policies in regards to thefts in the old days. Age and the actual crime didn't seem to figure into things at all.

Michael Hammond



The English in 1708 were quite serious about hanging people for their crimes, no matter what the crime or the age of the person committing it. This lack of compassion, in addition to their issues with theft, led to the hanging of seven-year-old Michael Hammond and his 11-year-old sister, Ann.

King’s Lynn resident Michael is the youngest recorded person to be hanged for a felony offense, and his crime was reportedly stealing a loaf of bread. There’s no denying that stealing is wrong, but no one seemed to take into account during his trial or public hanging that the thief was only a young child.

I'm thinking that taking the kids out behind the shed for a good spanking would have been punishment enough for stealing a loaf of bread. Hanging a 7 year old seems a bit much to me!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.