Friday, March 2, 2012

Before there was texting…

On this day in 1791, fast, long distance communication was ushered in with the deployment in Paris of the optical telegraph invented by Frenchman Claude Chappe.  Prior to that, a message sent from Paris to Antwerp via messenger would take about a week.  Even with horses the trip would still take several days.  With the advent of the optical telegraph, the communication time was cut down to under an hour.  Very handy when you’re in the midst of a revolution.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Blame it on Rio

On this day in 1565 the city of Rio de Janeiro was founded.  More than just a city, the name Rio has become more of a state of being.  Famous for Carnival, white sand beaches and dances like the Bossa Nova, Rio is also the home of a first class drink.

      The Historical Inebriant:  Caipirinha


2 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 Key limes, halved and seeded, or 2 small, juicy limes, quartered
2 ounces cachaça

Sprinkle the sugar over the limes, and muddle them in the mixing glass part of a Boston shaker until the sugar is dissolved and the lime juice is released. Pour an old-fashioned glassful of cracked ice into the mixing glass, add the cachaça, and shake to incorporate. Return all the contents to the old-fashioned glass.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What an odd day…

Today is February 29th, a once every four years day which puts it in Presidential Election Day status.  Originated so we could keep earth time in karma with the cosmos it’s not without its own unique rituals.
St. Bridget’s Complaint is a leap year event, in the Europe of old it was known as Bachelor’s Day in which women could propose to men (if the man refused he was required to buy the woman 12 pairs of gloves – in theory to cover up the fact she was not wearing an engagement ring – or so the story goes).
People born on this day are either lucky or unlucky, depending on what you read and I will only give two examples:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Time waits for no one

In the year 1700 in Sweden, today was directly followed by March 1 (even though it was a leap year in the Julian calendar which Sweden followed at the time) thus the Swedish calendar was created.  You may want to refer to our February 1st post before reading on…

In 1699 Sweden had decided it would switch to the (new) Gregorian calendar.  Apparently it was all the rage at the time.  However, there was a slight problem since at that moment,  the Gregorian was a full 11 days ahead of the Julian.  A simple, yet workable plan was developed to drop all leap year days until 1740 and gradually come into sync with the Gregorian.

The 1700 adjustment went off without a hitch, but you know what they say about “best laid plans”.  Over the ensuing years, nothing more was done to adjust the calendar and in 1711 (probably in sheer frustration) King Charles the XII decided to abandon the Swedish calendar (which no one else in the world was using) and go back to the Julian in 1712.  Of course to sync up to the Julian in 1712 (a leap year) meant adding a day back to their calendar.  They rightfully chose February which gave the world its first and only 30 day February.

I don’t know why I love stories like this.  Perhaps it makes me feel slightly better when my own lofty yet laboriously thought out plans go astray.  Perhaps not.

Btw – In 1753 Sweden did go Gregorian.  Cold turkey.  In that year, the day after February 17th was March 1st.  End of story.

In another story of great ideas having trouble getting started, on this day in 1906 Bugsy Siegel was born.  He

Monday, February 27, 2012

Somewhere East of Eden

John Steinbeck died on this day in 1902.  Most of us remember reading the Grapes of Wrath, or Of Mice and Men while in school.  Steinbeck, always the champion of the  underdog, the downtrodden and the disenfranchised, wrote of the American farmers during the Dust Bowl, the homeless, workers at factories before the unions and migrant workers.  It was a different America during Steinbeck’s time, but in some ways so much the same.

"The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it."  - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

     The Historical Inebriant:  Grapes of Wrath


  • 3 oz Blue Curacao liqueur
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 2 oz cranberry juice
  • 2 oz grape juice
  • 1 oz Coca-Cola®
  • 1 splash pineapple juice
Fill collins glass with ice. Pour blue curacao and vodka into the glass. Fill 3/4 of the glass with 1/2 cranberry juice and 1/2 grape juice. Then fill the rest of the glass with coke. Add a splash of pineapple at the top and then shake thoroughly.