Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Batty But True

Listening to podcasts, as I do, often leads to some strange-but-true stories and this one is no exception. The fact that it's true, as verified by online articles, is scary.

Did you know that during World War II, there was a project to arm bats with bomb-like devices that would be used to destroy Japanese targets?

Even stranger, this idea was the brainchild of a PA dental surgeon, Lytle Adams, who
convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to do just that. Adams idea was to attach incendiary devices to bats, use a cluster bomb to drop them over Japanese paper and wood structures, then trigger them to ignite and destroy Japanese cities. The bombs were laden with napalm which would flame up when triggered. 
Dr Lytle Adams

Adams was a practicing dentist and a part-time inventor and, it should be mentioned, a friend of then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. After war erupted with Japan, Adams wrote to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in January 1942 about his visit to the bat-haven Carlsbad Caverns in NM. In his letter, Adams noted that he had been tremendously impressed by bat flight...Dear Mr. President, I attach hereto a proposal designed to frighten, demoralize, and excite the prejudices of the people of the Japanese Empire.  

Adams continued, "Couldn’t millions of bats be fitted with incendiary bombs and dropped from planes? What could be more devastating than a firebomb attack?  In conclusion, he termed this seemingly outlandish idea: “a practical, inexpensive, and effective plan.” 

What are the odds that FDR would consider this concept worth pursuing? 

Anything was feasible in the midst of war it seems. If you think the bat concept was far-fetched, consider also that the U.S. government was researching pigeon-controlled missiles and bombs triggered by atomic chain reactions. 

This unlikely-sounding bat project was green-lighted by FDR on the advice of Dr. Donald Griffin, a noted zoologist and expert on animal behavior and navigation. Four biological factors were considered: bats occur in large numbers; bats can carry more than their own weight in flight; bats hibernate and, while dormant, do not eat; bats fly in darkness, then hide in secluded places during the daytime.

The "Adams Project" was assigned to the (then) Army Air Force. Constructing a functional bat bomb was challenging. Bats would be chilled to force them into hibernation while being transported to the target area, then awakened in time to swoop down into enemy cities before their time-triggered bombs detonated.

There were questions — how chilled and what size mini bomb would fit a small bat?

Attaching incendiary devices to unoffending bats seems abusive today, but in war-time, the rationale was simply put that “a million bat bombs could save a million lives.”

Mexican free-tailed bat
By March 1943, after testing several species, the selected species was the Mexican free-tailed bat, numbering 50 to 100 million. An estimated 9 million were in Carlsbad Caverns in NM, territory overseen by the U.S. Park Service. Adams and team members were given permission to go into the caves and harvest the bats.

In the lab, Dr. Theodore Fieser, the inventor of napalm, replaced the original white phosphorus incendiary with his own invention. White phosphorus sparked into flame upon contact with oxygen. Napalm, a jellied gasoline, was safer to handle and burned cooler. Tests demonstrated that half-ounce bats could each carry a payload of between 15 and 18 grams. Dr. Fieser fashioned a napalm-filled cellulose capsule called the H-2 unit. 
Dr. Adams with bats and project members 

How does a bat carry a bomb? 

After experimenting, an adhesive was designed to glue the incendiaries to the bats’ breasts. The bomb carrier, a five-foot-long sheet metal tube, held 1,040 bats in 26 round trays, each approximately 30 in. around. Loading armed bats into the carrier was described "as putting eggs into a crate" (and most likely done very carefully).
Bat-bomb canister 

Here's how the plan went: During bomb drops, the bomb carrier would plummet to an altitude of 4,000 feet, drop a parachute to slow its descent as sides blew apart and bats descended on enemy targets.

Carlsbad, NM base fire 
Bat bomb progress was marred by less-than-impressive trial demonstrations at Muroc Lake, CA where over 6,000 bats participated in Army-sponsored assessments. 

During simulations involving the use of nonflammable dummy bombs, some bats failed to wake from hibernation and fell to earth; others flew away. In May 1943, at the brand-new Carlsbad Army Auxiliary Air Base, the release of six live-loaded bats destroyed part of the base when the armed bats were accidentally released, roosted under a fuel tank and incinerated the test range. 

The project was relegated to the Navy in August 1943 and renamed Project X-Ray. By December, it was passed onto the Marine Corps which moved operations to the Marine Corps Air Station at El Centro, CA. After more experiments and operational adjustments, Adams’s team did better as bomb-laden bats successfully destroyed a simulated Japanese village built at a Utah test site by the Chemical Warfare Service. This test and the accidental detonations proved that a bat bomb could actually destroy targets. 

More tests were scheduled for mid-1944; however the project was cancelled for slow development. It would likely not be combat-ready until mid-1945. An estimated $2 million had been spent on the project. In current U.S. dollars that would equal:


Project X-Ray lost the race to end WW II when it was upended by the Manhattan Project, which we now know was the code name for the atomic bomb.

Adams, who steadfastly maintained that bat bombs would have been effective without the devastating effects of the atomic bomb, is quoted as saying: "Think of thousands of fires breaking out simultaneously over a circle of 40 miles in diameter for every bomb dropped. Japan could have been devastated, yet with small loss of life." 

As stated earlier, fact can often be much stranger than fiction and frightening too.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

What a Difference

A week's weather can be like. Last Sunday we had an 8-inch snowfall in Nashua, NH which included some sleet and freezing rain. The temperatures plummeted into  the single digits by the following day. On Monday, the daytime temperature was well below 10º F all day. These views were taken this past Sunday a.m.

By mid-week, the temperature started to moderate and climbed to the 20s and 30s. And, on Thursday, it reached a daytime high of 54º F. These views were taken Friday afternoon after a day of downpours. Now, the concern isn't snow and ice, but flooding.
Mother Nature can certainly be fickle and, perhaps that's her prerogative.

At any rate, our weather has changed dramatically in a week's time. Has your weather been very changeable/dramatic as well?

Friday, January 25, 2019

Friday Funnies

Would you agree that this building might be considered "fit for a king?" I don't know its name, but it was spotted on an outing in Boston. It looks like a church, but a search of online images didn't jar my memory.
If anyone knows the name of this structure, please post in the comments. Thanks 

Our weekend weather will include sun and clouds and above-freezing temps; a BIG change from last weekend and earlier this week.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone

Thursday, January 24, 2019

All I Wanted for Christmas

Was nothing, not even my two front teeth. (If you're young enough not to remember this 1944 novelty holiday song, you can see videos on YouTube.) 

That said, I received two unexpected gifts, even if one as not as much a surprise as you will read.

Like many (ahem) older folks, Grenville and I no longer exchange holiday gifts. We did in the past, but we're at a time in our lives when if anything is needed or wanted, we can buy it (finding a good sale, of course). In talking with other similarly aged folks, it seems they do the same. We enjoy trips and time together all year long and gift-buy for grandchildren, family and friends — gifts enough for us.

Instead, we give and get surprises at non-holiday time. Last year, Grenville bought me a popover pan after we enjoyed these at a neighbor's home, a couple of cookbooks to go with cast iron pans I bought and recently bought another Italian recipe cookbook he thought I'd enjoy. For my part, I bought him two Vermont Flannel shirts (USA made).

When Grenville asked what I wanted for Christmas, my answer was nothing. But, one day after his oft-asked query, I blurted "bluetooth ear buds." Now, I've always used corded earphones, own several pairs and resisted any urge to buy bluetooth ones, which would just be another thing to charge. Corded earphones were fine with me. All our personal electronics are Apple brand, so there was little doubt about what he would consider buying. Brand loyalty is alive and well with Grenville.

After realizing that he might actually buy this item, I recanted any desire for bluetooth ear buds. It was a case of being too late as it wasn't until we were headed to visit family in CT on Christmas Eve.

Then on Christmas morning, Grenville gave me a small package containing Apple AirPods. (The red silicone cover was an after-holiday gift to myself as the white case is slippery.)

Yes, I felt bad recalling how in spite of my babbling the night before, he had made this purchase a couple of weeks earlier.

Was this gift unexpected? — more or less
Do I like them?  completely, used daily at gym
How do I feel?  very thankful to my husband 

I wondered if these cordless earphones would fall out, but they've remained in place at the gym. The small case is charged via a lightning cable and the AirPods recharge in the case. A charge reportedly holds for 5 hours; my gym sessions are way shorter, so that claim remains untested by me.

Bluetooth connection is easy, just put the Airpods in and they connect; they sense when they're being worn and pause when removed. The charging case is said to hold multiple charges for over 24 hours listening time; 15 minutes in the case gives 3 hours of listening time. Checking battery life is done by holding the case or the AirPods next to a device. 

I'll make the second unexpected gift a shorter tale.

I'm an avid photographer who, years ago, used photo paper and a printer for photo printing; now I order online via Snapfish. At home printing used a lot of ink and, as many well know, printer inks can be costly for photo printing.

A couple of family members surprised me with this gift — an HP Sprocket portable photo printer. Admittedly, I had never seen (or heard) of these devices. There's no excuse for my ignorance, except lack of interest. It seems the target market for is to folks active on social media who want "instant" photos. (Years ago that need for instantly printed pictures would have been met using a Polaroid camera.) 

These mini-printers operate much the same. No ink is needed, colors are embedded in the HP Zink photo paper which puts crystals on every sheet that show up as specific colors when heated. Each paper pack includes a separate bar-coded page run first to calibrate the printer for the paper pack. 

As shown above, these are small photos (2x3 vs. standard 4x6-inch prints) and are geared toward sharing vs. photo albums. The prints have a sticker backing; an HP Sprocket app allows adding borders, text, and stickers if one is so inclined.

My reaction? — it's a fun techie device
Would I have bought one?  most likely not
How useful is it? — fun for family pics, not so much for travel pics
Quality and results  impressive with bright colors

It was fun to send a thank you and include holiday photos printed via my cell phone to the HP Sprocket. I'll also use it to print pics enclosed with future card mailings.

This last gift was both expected (and not). Do you recall jokes about holiday fruitcakes that people would get and pass on every holiday season?  This gift is not like that. 

Friends who live in VA (not the eastern shore as we did) have been sending this now annual gift from when we formerly lived in NJ. 

We always thank them, tell them we appreciate the gift, and i's not necessary to continue. In reply, they tell us ()every year): "We send this gift because we want to and you need not send anything in return." 

Do we enjoy this annual gift? — absolutely
Are the cheeses used? — Yes, throughout the year in many ways

This year, we sent our friends a gift box with maple syrup and pancake mix. 

Your turn  did anyone receive unexpected gifts this year?
If so, please share in a comment.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Brrrr . . . Bundle Up

That sums up the weather in Nashua, NH all day yesterday when we woke up to a 1-degree temperature which improved only slightly throughout the day. We stayed warm indoors as there as no need to go out. (We'd shopped for eggs, milk and bread before the storm.) 

Like many other parts of the U.S. and across New England, it snowed here over the weekend. As storms go, this one wasn't that impressive and total snowfall was far less than had been predicted. 

Snow started falling shortly after 8 pm on Saturday evening and by the time it ended around mid- afternoon on Sunday the total snowfall was about 8 inches and not the forecasted 12-16 inches. 

Snowplowing was already in process when I looked out the main door on Sunday morning on my way to the indoor gym. This was taken about 11 a.m. when it was snowing lightly.
The mill apartment surface parking lot is large. Plowing continued throughout the morning and into early afternoon. Residents who park in this top lot don't have to move their vehicles until morning after a storm. Indoor parking is available (at a monthly fee) and it's where we we park our vehicles. For us it's well worth the $ not to have to get up by 7 a.m. after a snowfall to move our cars for lot plowing. (Residents who fail to move their cars are charged for a tow fee when their car is re-located.)
Luckily, this snowfall came on a holiday weekend when traffic was lighter than usual. Earlier in the weekend on Saturday afternoon, based on storm predictions, the city of Nashua had issued a city-wide ban on off-street parking.

Motorists and pedestrians apparently heeded warnings to stay off city roadways unless such travel was absolutely necessary. This normally busy road is at the far end of the mill apartments. The view is from the top 5th floor.
Here's yesterday's view of the Nashua River from our living room after an overnight of single digit temperatures. The highest daytime temperature on Monday was below 5 degrees.
Since we had nowhere to go, and all day to get there, we started Monday morning this way. These treats had been purchased during the holiday season as had the two coffee mugs. It was 
the perfect way to start a frigid day (at least for us).

If you were affected by the snowfall and frigid weather that followed, we hope you also kept warm and safe indoors.

Thanks to everyone for comments on the previous post about Valentine's Day retail excess. We agree that it has become way overdone compared to years ago (sadly).

Temperature Update: It's warming up - we awoke to a 5 degree temp this morning compared to 1 degree on Monday. And just past noon, it slowly climbing inching upwards.

Despite the cold temps, there's lots of sun today, but the Nashua River remains iced over. This was the view at about 9 a.m. and no matter what the weather is like outdoors, I always enjoy this view from our living room windows. (Thanks to all who enjoy it too through these blog posts.)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Nothing Says Loving . . .

Not like something from the oven, but like cards, cute(?) stuffed toys, and candy if you believe merchandisers who think this is what people want for their loved one(s) — and maybe some do. Personally speaking, none of this is for Grenville and myself who agree that love should be celebrated every day. 

This post is a couple of weeks late. The photos were taken a couple of weeks ago Most local stores began marketing Valentine's Day paraphernalia several days before New Year's Day was observed. 

A nearby major card retailer had this large display ready on December 27. Here's a name hint from the store's popular tagline: "When you care enough to send the very best." (Did you guess the store name?)
Not to be outdone, several other retail stores also had V-Day cards for sale filling racks once filled with Christmas cards within a few days after that holiday.
A local pharmacy retail store relocated its marked-down Christmas items to showcase these new gift ideas. Teddy bears and ostriches flamingoes (thanks Sandra) seemed an odd combination. The bears are a long-time favorite but who thought of flamingoes?
There were other choices too. Perhaps the love of your life would prefer Charlie Brown or Snoopy as a symbol of your love? And Minnie and Mickey Mouse were also available. These these toys looked charming, but what's the market?
And, if bears and cartoon characters don't do it, there's always puppy dogs. Admittedly, these were not the cutest toys I'd ever seen and since when are puppies pink?
Of course, what would Valentine's Day be without candy in heart-shaped boxes and there was quite a selection available everywhere.
My personal preference would be peanut butter hearts, which we recently enjoyed in the shape of Christmas trees. Soon, these will be replaced with peanut butter Easter eggs.
If folks needed colorful packaging for cards, toys, and candies, those were available too.
I don't know about most of you reading this post, but when I was growing up (eons ago) there was none of this hyped-up merchandise. Valentine cards were exchanged in grade school and also small multi-colored candy hearts with fun messages. 

Sweethearts is their "official" name although they’re also called conversation hearts. These treats have a history dating to 1847 and it  started here in New England. 

Oliver Chase, a Boston pharmacist, wanted to get in the apothecary lozenge business. He learned that they had a manufacturing process that required a mortar and pestle, kneading and rolling dough, then cutting it into discs that became lozenges.

Chase invented a machine for the process and then started a candy factory, leaving the pharmacy business to produce what became Necco wafers, named after the his New England Confectionary Company.

In 1866, his brother, Daniel, joined the business and designed a machine to add words on the candies like: “Married in pink, he will take a drink,” “Married in white, you have chosen right” and “Married in satin, love will not be lasting.” The candies were usually featured at weddings.
The candies became heart-shaped in 1901 and messages were shortened to: “Kiss Me,” “It’s Love,” “True Love” and “Call Me.” Today, they’re always being updated. In the 1990s, Necco’s VP added: “Email me” and “FAX me.”The company annually receives hundreds of message suggestions. (YouTube videos show the production process and color mixing.)

Why are these candies so popular year-to-year?

Some think it's because it allows people to give loving hearts in friendship or as a love message. Many, like myself, recall getting them in grade school. Even those who don’t eat candy now have commented that the candies return them to childhood.

In terms of dollar sales, Valentine's Day is the third biggest holiday/season for the U.S. candy industry. According market researchers, it lags behind Easter and Halloween, which are also 1-day observances.

Grenville and I are planning a getaway after hearts day to celebrate it and my earlier Feb birthday.

How will you be celebrating this year? 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Not So Funny . . .

It's a fact that (sadly) nothing lasts forever, including U.S. postal rates.

So, if you have any February mailing events coming up, think Valentines, birthday cards and packages, you might want to mail a bit early — by the last Saturday of this month. 

It's a win-win situation, not only will those you get them be able to enjoy them longer but mailing U.S. cards and packages earlier can save you some $. 

And who doesn't like that?

For anyone who hasn't yet know — some (not all) U.S. postal rates will increase on Sunday, Jan 27 (when post offices are closed). Unless you've pre-bought Forever stamps, the cost of mailing a 1st class letter will be 55 cents vs. the current 50 cents.

The almost good news is that the higher fees will not affect all 2019 postage costs, some will go down or remain the same; postal fees vary by the type of service used. That said, here's the most notable changes as of January 27, 2019:
  • First-class mail letter (1 oz.) will be 55 cents: highest percentage rise since 1991 when it rose from 25 to 29 cents. 
  • Added letter ounce costs decrease: each additional oz. drops from 21 to 15 cents. Mailing a 2-ounce letter will be 70 cents vs the current 71 cents.
  • Postcard card rates remain the same: 35 cents. 
  • Priority Mail prices jump by an average 5.9 percent: a small flat-rate Priority Rate box now $7.20 will cost $7.90; a medium Priority Rate box now $13.65 goes to $14.35. 
  • Priority Mail Express fees are up 3.9 percent: if mailing an ASAP envelope, the rate goes from $24.70 to $25.50. 
WHY These Increases?
The USPS isn't funded by taxpayer dollars, but operates on the sale of its products and services. According to online sources, in 2018, the U.S. Postal Service lost nearly $4 billion citing losses to drops in mail volume and pension and health care costs. This was the 12th consecutive year that it reported a loss despite a growth in package shipping. 

As a frequent card writer, I use a lot of stamps and pre-bought holiday stamps for 2019 a couple of weeks ago. This week, I'm writing out February birthday and anniversary cards using 50-cent Forever stamps purchased in 2018. I will be buying more stocking up on stamps (at the 50-cent rate) before Jan 27. 

How about other U.S. postal users — will you stock up too or send less mail in 2019?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Resolved or NOT?

By definition, a New Year's resolution is a tradition in which someone resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve his/her life.

Sounds ambitious don't you agree? Most of us have made resolutions in the past. Many of us or at least some of us have actually stuck to a few during years past, myself included. By the same token, some of us, myself also included, have not. If thinking about them counts, then I've mentally succeeded; however most of those have not been kept for even a month week.

What is it about these New Year's Resolutions that dooms many to failure? Maybe there are too many to keep within a year or maybe it's the "title" that's a bit daunting or unnerving and dooms many to fail not follow through.

I'm sure you know about many "standard" ones that repeat annually, such as: lose weight, exercise more, sleep more, eat healthier, read more, spend less, save more, pray more, think positive, enjoy life, spend time (with family/friends) and so on. It seems that many (if not all) of these should be done without fail. Years ago the list also included stop smoking, but that goal is not as prevalent these days.

For 2019, here's my short to-dos, more or less, as above.
  • write more
  • listen more
  • look more
  • talk less
  • finish projects
Short is good and maybe more do-able too.

How about you — made any to-dos of your own ?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

It WAS a Very Good Year

To paraphrase the song title composed by Ervin Drake and popularized by Frank Sinatra, we had a TERRIFIC year in 2018. (Spoiler alert, this is another photo-laden post with many previously posted images.) 

(It Was a Very Good Year was first recorded by a member of the Kingston Trio and featured on a 1961 album. This recording reportedly influenced Sinatra to want to record one. It's been recorded by other artists including Ray Charles, The Turtles, Chad and Jeremy, Lou Rawls, Della Reese, Shirley Bassey, Herb Alpert, Wes Montgomery. Drake's inspiration in writing the song was said to be his then future wife, Edith Vincent Bermaine, a showgirl, whom he had dated, and then married 20 years after the song was written.)

NOW, back to our very good 2018 — it was filled with family, friends and experiences.

It was the year we became home-less (in a good way) and finally sold our VA Eastern Shore home after a few years and several realtors. We had already relocated to our current mill apt in Nashua, NH, so no longer having long-distance home ownership concerns was a huge relief. Yes, it was a beautiful home which we lovingly updated and modernized, but 12 years of living in a town of 500 residents left us wanting more to do and see.

The wedding of our youngest niece, Jamie, took place in early June in our home state of NJ. It would be followed a short 4 months later by the wedding of her sister, Julie. My brother was very relieved that there's no more daughters to be wed.

In between these family weddings. The summer of 2018 (mid July to the end of August) was taken up with cross-country travel. We drove from Nashua, NH to Springfield, Oregon. The goal was to visit friends who suggested we come for a glass of wine. (It seemed like a good great idea at the time.)

The trip was filled with a lot of sights: largest boot, a cowboy museum and a mustard museum NV and OH), a Thai Temple (WI), world's largest 6-pack of beer (MN), 2 prisons (IN and WY), 2 auto museums IN and NV). We drove through 20 states, visited 5 state capitals and took 2 boat trips on the mighty Mississippi River. We also found sought out as many ice cream places as we could in each state — our defense excuse was that our travel was all during the hot summer months. (We can highly recommend Culver's in the Midwestern states and always stopped at one.) And we "discovered" cheese curds in WI.

We spent time with family members on both sides of our family. And, unlike some occasions when families gather, all these times were for celebrations and/or holidays. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays included seeing nearly all of our immediate family members who live in CT, NJ, PA, RI and sharing good times together.
Thankfully, we were able to spend time with friends in several states, including CO, NJ, MN, OR, and PA.

As much as last year was a very good wonderful year in so many other ways too. We're looking forward to see what 2019 will bring and hope that it will be as good or better (if that's possible). 

This is the year we will both reach milestone birthdays (winter & summer). In mid-April, we celebrate the 22nd anniversary of our first date and in early fall, it's our 20th wedding anniversary. (Readers of this blog know from past posts that we celebrate both dates.) A couple of trips are in the talking-about stages.
Cheers to Everyone for your very good New Year in 2019.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Friday Funnies

This statue was definitely for the birds.
This 1st 2019 Friday Funny was taken during a pre-holiday visit to neighboring Milford, NH. Birds were flocking to the top of the Odd Fellows building in the town square.

Keep Smiling, and
Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Welcome 2019

Our THANKS to fellow bloggers who read and commented on our posts last year. 
We had a year of adventures and experiences and enjoyed sharing them with you.
Our best wishes to YOU for a 2019 full of wonder and joy.