Posts Tagged "congress"

Bet You Don’t Know This About the Father of Our Country

Dear Kid,

He’s the Father of Our Country, the man with the cherry tree fetish, and on February 4, 1789, all 69 members of Congress cast their ballots to elect George Washington the first president of these United States.

George Washington

Perhaps not the most flattering angle…

Which clearly means we should discuss G.W. himself.

Not the stuff you learned in grade school, because you learned that already.

And not the stuff you learned in high school, because you’ve forgotten that already and why bring it up again?

No, I’m talking about the interesting stuff.

For example: Unlike many others at the time, G.W. did not wear a wig; he powdered his hair. Lots of people did that. Thank heavens we just poison ourselves with hairspray now and leave the talc in the past.

George’s favorite breakfast (the most important meal of the day) was hoecakes. Cornmeal pancakes that could be fried on the back of a hoe. No, I have no plans to try the farm implement style of cooking any time soon. He was also partial to cream of peanut soup, mashed sweet potatoes with coconut, and string beans with mushrooms.

All those veggies did not make him a healthy puppy. He suffered from diphtheria, tuberculosis, smallpox, dysentery, malaria, tonsillitis, carbuncle, pneumonia, (and for all I know carsickness). Not only was he sick a good amount of the time, he had crazy dental problems (go floss). He had false teeth (you knew that) but they were not made of wood (cherry or otherwise). They were made of gold, ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth. Lovely.

G.W. raised and bred hunting dogs and he loved those pups. He treated them like family (duh) and gave them names like Drunkard, True Love, Sweet Lips, and Tipsy.

Did I mention he owned a distillery? He made rye whiskey, apple brandy, and peach whiskey. And he made a lot of it. The whiskey was more like moonshine, but he had a license and paid taxes so he was a legal distiller.

While George started school when he was six, he had to drop out when he was 15 because of family financial issues. He was mostly self-taught and was so good at mathematics that he became a paid surveyor at 16 years old. NOTE: Unless you plan to become a general and then the first president of our country, you need more education than that.

Washington wrote more than 20,000 letters. Think about how much effort you put into a small thank you note and you’ll begin to realize the magnitude of his writing.

George was big man, about 6’2” and 200 pounds (you can do the conversion over to metric if you like). He was so strong he could crush a walnut between his thumb and forefinger and he was widely acknowledged as the best horseman in the 13 Colonies.

George may (or may not) have died from bloodletting when he was ill. That day they took 5 pints of blood (and if you think that seems like a lot, you’re quite correct). Washington wanted to be buried at Mount Vernon (and he was) despite the hullabaloo from Congress (they wanted to bury him under a statue in the Capitol.

George lost more battle than he won, but was considered a Most Excellent General partly because of his ability to hold a not-so-well-to-do army together for so long. In 1976, George Washington was named General of the Armies of the United States, a rank so high no one in the US will ever outrank him. Makes you wonder who gets the coffee in heaven.

And about the cherry tree? That story was made up after George was dead.

Now you know.

Love, Mom

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Morse Code Invented | First Message Not About Blogging

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Painters often die poor (the world often takes a while to catch up). Samuel Finley Breese Morse was not one of those. He was stinkin’ rich when he died, which was A) good for him and B) good for his heirs because Morse code isn’t in high demand these days.

Samuel Finley Breese Morse began his career as a painter. Then he decided to invent an electric telegraph. On January 6, 1838 Samuel first demonstrated the telegraph. It was not an instant success since no one knew Morse Code and so S.F.B.M. had to send and then decode his own message.

In 1843, Morse convinced Congress to build the first telegraph line from WDC to Baltimore, MD. Interestingly, this was the last time Congress ever agreed to anything.

Morse Code Dear Kid Love Mom. DearKidLoveMom.comThe first message Morse sent over the line was not “Dear Kid Love Mom.” I have no idea why Morse chose something else, but he chose to send the message “What hath God wrought!”

Interesting Fact: Telegraph companies typically charged by the word, so people got very concise with their messages (the prelude to texting). They also charged for punctuation so people used the word STOP (which was free) instead of periods STOP

In 1933, Western Union launched singing telegrams and several thousand bad jokes and spoofs STOP

Enter long-distance phone calls and telegraph messages STOPped

Western Union delivered its final telegram January 2006.

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What You Don’t Know About G. W. Himself and the Washington Monument

Washington MonumentDear Kid,

I’m guessing that since you are spending your time on collegiate pursuits like studying (maybe?), going to basketball games, playing flag football, and sleeping, you have not had sufficient time to contemplate the Washington Monument.

Not to worry. I am here—as usual—to rectify the situation.

Are you familiar with the military term BLUF? It’s a concept I learned many millennia ago, but didn’t know it had a cool military acronym until recently. BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front. In other words, tell me the point and then you can go back and fill in the details and if it’s absolutely necessary I may keep reading.

The point: On December 6, 1884, the Washington Monument was completed.

We now return to the Interesting Story.

Once upon a time (as I continue to believe all good stories should begin), there was a baby country in the throes of Revolution. There arose a Great Leader with Bad Teeth (G. W. himself) who led the country to military victory, became the first President of the new Republic, and earned the title “Father of Our Country.”

We The People thought this was quite terrific and decided there should be a statue of G. W. himself. Well, Congress decided but since Congress represents We The People….(excuse me while I giggle helplessly for a moment).

When Pierre L’Enfant laid out the new federal capital area (1791), he left a Spot for the statue. And because Congress was in charge, nothing happened.

Fast forward to 1832 (33 years after G. W. himself died) when the National Monument Society was formed. They held a contest to determine the design of the statue and chose a Greek-temple-ish design. Then they began to raise money. While they raised a fair amount (it was 1832 you’ll remember), the $230K they raised was nowhere near the $1 million they needed. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Because it was Washington, DC, they began construction anyway because why not? By the time they laid the cornerstone (a 24,500 pound block of pure white marble), it was 1848.

Six years later, they ran out of money and everything came to a grinding halt.

Then in 1876, 100 years after the country was founded), President Ulysses S Grant (who would later be found in Grant’s tomb) said WTF? and got things moving again.

Somewhere along the line the design went from Greek-temple-ish to big column of marble and on December 6, 1884, workers placed the 9 inch aluminum pyramid at the top and called it a completed statute.

It looks exactly nothing like G. W. himself, but is quite a nice tribute nonetheless.

The monument (to G. W. himself) is made of 36,000 blocks of marble and granite and towers 555 feet high. This is taller than I am. There is a city law (passed in 1910) that says that no buildings in DC can be taller than the monument.

You may now return to your previously scheduled studying (I hope), going to basketball games, playing flag football, and sleeping.

Love, Mom

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September 9th: You’re Not Going to Believe What Happened

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time (and by once upon a time I mean 1776) our country was called the United Colonies. While this worked in the initial start-up phase of the country, once there was an IPO the founders realized they had to come up with a snazzier name.

So the Founding Fathers contracted the hottest marketing firm of the time to brainstorm and then market test fun and memorable names for the young country. Unfortunately, marketing was in its infancy as a profession and the FFs engaged Bob the Marketer.

Calling himself Bob the Marketer may have been Bob’s best marketing job ever, because Bob was really a pig farmer. Which meant that all Bob’s market research was done with his pigs. And while pigs are smart, they are not known for caring much about what the country is called. Or maybe they do care but just can’t communicate it very well. Or maybe they communicate very well and Bob just wasn’t good at interpreting. Whatever the true case, Bob the pig farmer didn’t have a lot of useful input when it came to branding the country.

Bob presented three alternatives to the Continental Congress:

  • A Bunch of Folks Who Got Together in America
  • Petunia (after his favorite pig)
  • United States of America

Bob actually threw that last one in there as a joke, but all sorts of jokes get taken seriously and this was one of them.

On September 9, 1776 the Continental Congress (another group that could have benefited from working with Bob the Marketer) formally declared the name of our nation to be the United States of America.

This made everyone (except Petunia) happy. The flag makers were happy because they got to make more flags. The mint was happy because it got to print new money. And Congress was happy because it actually got something done (modern day lawmakers know nothing of this).

Petunia was unhappy as she felt slighted by an entire country. But as has been pointed out, Bob’s porcine communication skills left a lot to be desired so he never knew.

Happy Naming Day, America.

Love, Mom

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