Monday, December 28, 2015

On Crusade

Did you know that Richard the Lionheart captured Cyprus while on crusade and sold it to the Templars? During his stay on Cyprus, Richard married Berengaria of Navarre ( a kingdom that occupied lands on either side of the western Pyrenees, south of his mother's lands in Aquitaine). Richard also retook the port cities of the Near East during the Crusade. He was unable to conquer Jerusalem, but did negotiate safe passage for pilgrims who visited Christian sites in the city of Jerusalem.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


What building in Paris never was NEVER entered by the occupying Nazis or the Allied liberators? The International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris was so respected by the engineers of both groups that it was never interfered with. The master metric measures are stored at this location.

Top Secret Melon

A moldy cantaloupe was the source of one of the Top Secrets of WWII. As WWII threatened, a British team sought to perfect penicillin and its production. As D-Day loomed fear of the Germans getting their research and lack of resources for further development caused them to turn their Top Secret project over to the Americans. The search was on for a mold that produced the most penicillin. USA military planes even brought back molds from exotic locales. An American agricultural inspector brought a moldy cantaloupe to the labs one day. The mold was the best penicillin producer yet. Penicillin was found to grow well in corn syrup, which was readily available in the corn growing USA. Penicillin needed oxygen to grow. At first penicillin was grown in tipped milk bottles, finally in giant vats with oxygen bubbled into the mixture. Large amounts of penicillin were ready for D-Day and saved many soldiers from infection. In WWI, more soldiers had died of infection than did from being shot.

Post Civil War Disaster

In April, 1865, Union POWs were gathered at Vicksburg, Mississippi. They were loaded on steamboats for the trip to Cairo, Illinois, At 9 p.m., on April 24, the riverboat Sultana packed with freed Union POWs left Vicksburg headed up river. One boiler had a weakened spot that bulged. A quick patch was applied so the boat would not miss the lucrative job of carrying the POWs.
On Apil 26, the Sultana docked at Memphis to pick up coal. At midnight she headed upriver. At 2 a.m., April 27, the repaired boiler exploded. Two of the three other boilers exploded. Fire spread through mid-ship. The two smokestacks fell onto the boat, crushing the Hurricane or top deck and killing many men on the overcrowded deck. Those who survived panicked and rather than fighting the fire began to jump into the river. The flames started sweeping toward the stern, causing more panic and jumping. Of the 2,500 passengers, 1,900 died.

Pound for Pound

Did you know the pound measurement of weight is connected to the Roman conquest of Britain and a grain crop? The weight of the Roman pound, or libra, was equivalent 5,076 grains of barley. From the beginning of agriculture weights of goods were balanced with counted grains. Soon balance weights were substituted for laboriously counted out grains. England began using the Roman system during the Roman occupation. British colonists carried the system to the USA. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Seedy Trade

Did you know that cotton has a connection to Afghanistan and Alexander the Great? Alexander's troops first encountered the cotton plant in Afghanistan. The Greeks called cotton "vegetable wool." They carried cotton seeds back to Greece in their saddlebags.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Spoiled canned goods shipped to British troops during the Crimean War caused major problems. The Crimean War taught the British Army some hard facts about canning The new super size cans of rations were spoiled when they were opened because the center of the can did not reach 250 degrees during canning. You see no one in those days knew how to calculate the temperature needed per size of can. England ignored technical education and experimentation at a cost.were

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dutch Treat

One unusual Dutch demand in the treaty handing New York to the British became an American cornerstone. In the treaty ending the Anglo-Dutch War, New York went to the English, while the Dutch retained the Spice Islands. The Dutch insured continued religious freedom in New York in their treaty. This was an unheard of requirement at the time. This was the first guarantee of the religious freedom that would become a cornerstone of democracy in the USA.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Anise for the Victorious

Did you know that the Romans were extremely fond  of anise? Anise cakes were often served at the end of Roman weddings. Roman generals handed out anise candies to their victorious troops.