A Dark Day in New England

I love mysteries, particularly mysteries in history.  The unexplained, unusual have always struck my fancy.  For example, many years ago, our newspaper had a "This Day in History."  Some were anniversaries of U.S. Presidents who have died, some were about legislation passed on that particular day.  The one that caught my attention was a sudden darkness that took over the entire northeast of the U.S.  If I remember correctly, it was in 1780.  It was not an eclipse as most are thinking now. People noticed prior to the darkness, there was a copper hue to sunsets.  There were mild temperatures during that spring after a severe winter.  It was not caused by a volcanic eruption as many have speculated.  That said, there were major fires during this event in history in the West of the USA at that time.  Could it have been forest fires?  Highly unlikely smoke would have drifted that thickly to the northeast of the USA.  Regardless, about 10AM on May 19th, 1780, the sky turned completely dark.  Cows returned to their stalls, crickets began to chirp.  For all intents and purposes, it was nighttime to the animal kingdom.  It was so dark in Sudbury, Massachusetts that people were unable to see their hands in front of them. As the darkness continued, there was a smell of "burnt leaves" in the air.  Many birds were found dead on the ground as they blindly flew into structures.  The next morning, things were as they had always been.  No sign of the sudden darkness of New England.

There is still great debate on what caused this sudden darkness in New England on the morning of May 19th, 1780.  The American Revolution was still raging as the young nation was trying to gain its independence from superpower Great Britain.  People were still bleeding those in bad health as a way to "cure" them.  So, you have to assume a lot of misconceptions arose from this sudden darkness.  I'm sure many thought it was the end of time as speculated in the Bible.  Still, many people think the darkness was caused due to the forest fires along Lake Champlain in May of 1780.  But, it is still conjecture at this point.  The truth is, no one will ever be able to explain this sudden darkness in New England.  The only thing we know for sure is that this anomaly has not been repeated.  There may be a simple explanation for this sudden darkness in the northeastert part of the USA.  Thus far, that explanation has eluded us.

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Best Employers for Baby Boomers

There was an article last week that talked about the top 50 employers for the Baby Boomer Generation.  The  AARP article spoke at length about the perks and services these employers offer Baby Boomers.  These companies offer such benefits as telecommuting, flexible work schedules, phased retirement programs, emergency elder care services and many more perks for the Baby Boomers.  It appears these companies actively recruit Baby Boomers for their education and work experience.  Some of these companies have job fairs just to recruit Baby Boomers.  Some even offer day-care for grandchildren so you can keep track of the grand kids. Lastly, some of these companies offer very nice health care packages. That is very attractive to those in the Baby Boomer Generation.  There wasn't much talk about pay in the article.  But, I have to assume it is a better than average pay.  These companies are always hiring us Baby Boomers.  So, check 'em out and see if you are eligible.  I'm going to be sure to inquire.  Here are the top ten from that 50 top employers list for Baby Boomers.

1. National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Md.
2. Scripps Health, San Diego
3. Atlantic Health System, Morristown, N.J.
4. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
5. Mercy Health System, Janesville, Wis.
6. YMCA of Greater Rochester, Rochester, N.Y.
7. West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va.
8. Bon Secours Virginia, Richmond, Va.
9. National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Arlington, Va.
10. WellStar Health System, Marietta, Ga.


Cars That Never Should Have Been Built

The Wall Street "Cheat Sheet" had a rather interesting article that discussed ten cars that should never have hit the road.  A couple I found surprising since they were built by Cadillac.  Their criticism goes from being too unstable to too costly to too unreliable.  The story gives a brief critique of each car and the manufacturer.  There was also talk why the cars could not sell.  Some were unmitigated disasters.  I was thinking of some other cars that should have made this list like the Ford Maverick.  I actually owned one ever so briefly. I admit I bought it used (original owner kept it only six months....hmmmm) which was my first mistake.  My second mistake was thinking this car would be dependable transportation.  That damn car wouldn't start the next morning after I bought it.  It was a battery.  I thought that was the end of it.  No such luck.  There was an electrical short that cost me $200 to fix.  That was only the beginning of a long process of problems with this car.  It could have been worse.  I almost bought a used Ford Pinto before I settled on the Maverick.  With that Ford Pinto in mind, let's look at three cars from that list.

Ford Pinto.  An epic disaster by the Ford Motor Company.  For example, Ford in their infinite wisdom, decided to put the fuel tank right behind the rear bumper. What could go wrong, right?  Could no one foretell what would possibly happen if that Pinto was rear-ended?  Amazing lack of foresight by a major automobile manufacturer.  This car also became the poster child for the American Automotive Manufacturers as to why Japan was cleaning our clocks with cheaper, safer and much more reliable cars in the 70s and 80s.  My brother was looking at a new 1972 Pinto back in late 1971.  He and the car salesman were going to take it for a test drive.  He slipped the transmission into reverse and CLUNK.   He later found out the entire transmission had to be replaced on that new Pinto.  Needless to say, he didn't buy a Pinto.

Ford Edsel.  When people think of the Edsel, they immediately think of a clunker of a car.  It actually was a fairly well-built car.  Sure, it was ugly as hell, got about 3 gallons to the mile (just joking....but the gas mileage was horrid) and was expensive.  The later is what really killed the Edsel.  It came out in 1958 with an expensive price tag when the USA was in middle of a recession.  Plus this was a time when Americans started showing more favoritism toward a smaller, fuel efficient vehicle. Some Edsels came to dealerships missing parts due to assemblers being tossed between Fords and Mercurys.  It all spelled disaster for the iconic Ford Edsel. 

Yugo.  The car that chewing gum and baling wire made famous.   Poorly made, it looked like cardboard boxes, glued together, on four wheels.  Sometimes parts actually fell off of it.....on test drives according to one salesman I know from that era.  The engine itself was a quirk of nature.  Sometimes it would not work for reasons even mechanics could not understand.  The electrical system was strictly for aesthetics since nothing electrical ever worked on a consistent basis.  One guy I knew that bought a Yugo, back in 1985, was going to use it as a work car.  That "work car" put him out of work since it "consistently" failed to start.  

There are seven more cars to look at in this article (linked above).  But, these are the three that stick out in my mind the most.  


Hitler and Tandey

I was browsing around the internet last Saturday and came upon a very unusual piece about Adolf Hitler and a highly decorated English solider from WWI named Henry Tandey.  It seems that both Hitler and Tandey both served in WWI at the same time.  What is so remarkable to me, is that Private Henry Tandey had the opportunity to change world history if he had chosen to do so.  During the "war to end wars" (as WWI was known at the time), Private Henry Tandey was engaged in battle at the Battle of Marcoing.  There was bitter hand to hand combat during this battle.  That was common in trench warfare as was the practice during this time.  Sometimes battle lines were drawn only a few feet apart.  But, Private Tandey had a wounded German soldier dead in his sights.  It would have been very easy for Henry Tandey to shoot this wounded German solider who was limping directly into his line of fire.  Private Tandey stated he simply couldn't pull the trigger.  "I took aim but couldn't shoot a wounded man," said Tandey, "so I let him go."  That wounded German soldier as Private Tandey would find out years later, was none other than the most hated man the world has ever known;  Adolf Hitler.  Hitler himself showed gratitude to Henry Tandey when Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (of peace in our time quote) relayed Hitler's warm greeting to Tandey by phone during his visit for peace negotiations.

Mr. Tandey regretted not making that shot the day he had the chance in WWI on Adolf Hitler.  When London was being bombed night after night, during WWII, he regretted it even more.  Mr. Tandey regretted not doing something so many people all over the world would have loved the opportunity to do.  As many as 50 million people, military and civilian, died during WWII.  Think of the lives Mr. Tandey would have saved if he would have taken that shot in WWI.  Of course, there was no way then Private Henry Tandey had of knowing the destruction and loss of life that the "wounded German solider" would later cause.  Before Mr. Tandey's death in 1977, he stated "If only I had known what he would turn out to be. When I saw all the people, woman and children, he had killed and wounded I was sorry to God I let him go."  Again, there was no way of Henry Tandey knowing what that one particular wounded solider, on the battlefield of Marcoing, would do just two decades later. 

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