Friday, August 5, 2016

History: The Year is 1843

I've uploaded year 1843 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Westward Ho! The Great Migration Begins -- I talk about building the first roads west and how women figured into the pioneering spirit.

The Greatest Ship Ever Overbuilt -- The SS Great Britain is too expensive to run and the profit margins are too small to fix her if anything goes wrong... and something goes wrong.

A Christmas Carol and the First Christmas Card -- The lessons that Scrooge learns are vague and have nothing to do with religious observance. Christmas and the card that comes with it are missing an important element of the holiday... Jesus.

In Other News -- The Beatles, the Bissell and skiing.

Westward Ho! The Great Migration Begins

The first wagon trains are heading west along the Oregon Trail, but in these days the roads west are not fit for wagons. The new settlers will have to build their own roads. The Mountain Men (Rocky Mountain trappers) are hired to lead the wagon trains through the wilderness. Their task is to find a route that won't break a wagon wheel or cause a wagon to slide off the trail into oblivion, dragging horses and people alike to their doom. They may not realize it yet, but the Mountain Men are also finding the best routes for laying railroad track. After all, railroad tracks are not much wider than two draft horses side-by-side. This year about 1,000 people will push through to Oregon and California, cutting trees to make a path and floating their wagons down the river. Whatever it takes. In 1848, gold will be found at Sutter's Mill in California. Entire towns will empty out as the wave of pioneers heading west will become a flood. Over land and over sea, 80,000 people will arrive in California in a single summer seeking their fortunes... and supplies. Instead of panning for gold, Sam Brannan will buy up all the supplies available and sell them at higher prices to newly-arrived fortune hunters. He is going to become the first Gold Rush millionaire. Then he is going to become a real estate speculator. And then he is going to become divorced and die penniless, but in the meantime, it is going to be a heck of a ride. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Adventurous as pioneering sounds, it was anything but easy for Sarah and Nancy Graves. They were 2 of the 48 survivors of the Donner Party. In 1846, they were two weeks behind the Hastings Party when an early snow trapped them in the Sierra Nevada mountains in what is now called Donner Pass. Running low on food they began eating their own dead. Sarah and Nancy were children. What must it have been like for the women and children on that trek across the wilderness? Gentlemen, when we fantasize about striking out into the woods in an apocalyptic recreation of Red Dawn, do we ever consider whether we packed the diaper bag properly? How about the various unmentionable feminine products that our wives will need? Has anyone mentioned that? The women of the pioneer days were tough... real tough, but their concerns were often different from their pioneer husbands'. Thankfully, we know (mostly) what the road will look like before we get there. We can plan this out. No sense in making it harder than it has to be. [4] [5]

The Greatest Ship Ever Overbuilt

The SS Great Britain is the first ship ever to be built of iron and boasting a screw propeller. There have been iron ships before and there have been screw propellers before, but not both together... and there may be a reason for that. The ship is big and expensive to run. Coupled with the cost overruns just to build her, the owners are running on the ragged edge of bankruptcy. Finally, she is launched, but in a few years the ship will run aground due to a navigational error. (That means someone made a business-breaking mistake.) The owners will lack the funds to save her and sell her for salvage. The new owners will repair the ship and eventually add sails to offset the expense of running the engines. The SS Great Britain will become so expensive to operate that she will be used as a warehouse and occasional coal carrier until a fire damages her beyond repair and she is scuttled. In 1970, with the help of some serious donations, the SS Great Britain will be raised from the bottom and returned to her port of origin in Bristol to become a museum. She is a beautiful ship. Perfect, but perfection costs a pretty penny. [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
There is an admirable builder's philosophy that goes something like this: "If I do it right the first time, I won't have to come back later to fix it." It is a good rule of thumb, but I get caught up in a cycle of "If I just add one more capability or gizmo, this project will be PERFECT." The perfect is often the enemy of the good. At some point, I must put down the hammer and call it done. It helps when I do a cost/benefit analysis. My time is valuable, but if I am busy making $10 here that means I am not available to make $20 elsewhere. It's not always about money, but it is about time. If I can make $20 doing one thing and pay someone else $10 to do the other, I end up with $10 net, but I get twice as much done at the same time. I want to do both projects and net $30, but it's about time. The time. Eventually, I run out of it.

A Christmas Carol and the First Christmas Card

"God bless Us, Every One!" declares Tiny Tim in the Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol. I hope I didn't give away the ending, but it is a Christmas ghost story. A fellow named Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old business partner, Marley, who attempts to save Scrooge from spiritual ruin. Scrooge will be visited by three Spirits: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Through nostalgia for a youth spent unwisely, a view of Christmas well-spent by those around him and the fear of what might be, Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas. [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Unfortunately, exactly what Scrooge learned is rather vague. He promised to honor Christmas and attempt to keep it throughout the year. He also promised to live in the past, the present and the future... which seems to mean... live in the now, be kind to others and laugh a lot. Jesus is never mentioned. Thus, this novel transformed Christmas from a religious observance into a seasonal well-wishing along with the Christmas card. Remember the penny postage stamp? The same guy who pushed for cheap postage has printed 2,000 cards to be sold at a shilling a piece (almost $6 dollars in today's money) and sent through the mail. The card reads "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you." The illustration shows a woman offering clothing to the poor, a man bringing food to the hungry, and in the middle... a family in joyful celebration... DRINKING WINE... even the kids. That caused some controversy, but the talk brought attention to the cards and they sold well. No one seemed to notice that "the reason for the season" was missing.... not even a cross in sight. [10] [11]

In Other News

  • "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite..." This circus poster from 1843 will purchased by John Lennon in 1967, and become the inspiration for the Beatles song by the same name. ([Click Here.]) [12] [13]
  • Melville Bissell is born. Yep. The guy with the carpet sweeper. After his death, his wife, Anna, will run the company becoming the first female CEO. [14] [15]
  • Skiing becomes a sport. Frankly, mountain climbing hasn't been popular for very long either. The word "ski" is a Norwegian word meaning "you gotta be kidding me!" Sorry. It means "split wood." [16] [17] [15]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1843, Wikipedia.

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