Monday, October 31, 2005

This Day in History: October 31, 1846

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Halloween Became Popularized in America

Halloween dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. In the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31st, which was known as the Celtic New Year. On this day they believed that the disembodied spirits of everyone who had died throughout the year would return to seek living bodies to possess for the following year. On the night of October 31st, all of those living would extinguish fires in their homes in order to make them cold and undesirable for the spirits. They also dressed in ghoulish costumes and made noisy parades to discourage and frighten away these spirits. Over the centuries, as people became less believing in the supernatural, the practices became more ritualized. However people still enjoyed dressing up as: hobgoblins, ghosts, and witches.

Trick-or-Treating is believed to have originated with a European custom called "souling". On All Souls Day, November 2, when early Christians used to walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes". These cakes were made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo after death. People thought that prayers could help hasten a soul's passage to heaven.

As European immigrants came to America, they brought their varied Halloween customs with them. The first celebrations of Halloween in America began with "play parties," which were public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance, and sing. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland's potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house-to-house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers, than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day, which contributed to Halloween losing most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6.9 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country's second largest commercial holiday.

How was your weekend? Anyone have a good Halloween weekend?

My weekend was pretty good. I got my yellow belt in judo this weekend. I was very excited. I worked a little over a year for it, and am the first girl my teacher promoted. Woo hoo! Aside from that I went to a Halloween party on Saturday night and watched Poltergeist for my first time at some point.

Today at work we are getting into the mood of Halloween. We all dressed up (pretty much) and are having a tasty Halloween Potluck. I made dirt pudding (Oreos crushed up to look like dirt with little gummy worms sticking out, with chocolate fudge pudding mixed in. mmmm). I thought I would show some pictures of people at work today dressed up. Feel free to vote on who you think has the best costume!

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This is me. I am dressed up as Quail Man from Doug.

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This is Bettina, dressed up as a “Rock Lobster”. She is hard at work today putting the finishing touches on our new redesigned website. Make sure to check it out tomorrow for some good shopping fun. Haha.

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Here is a picture of Elizabeth Siegler, the Vice President of

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Here is a picture of Jeff, the Director of IT.

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Here is a picture of Kelly, the Art Director.

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And finally, here is Diem, the purchasing assistant, taking a ride on a flamingo.

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If you want to check out some Halloween costumes that we have, for next year, check out our site at:

Friday, October 28, 2005

This Day in History: October 28, 1919

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Congress enforces prohibition

October 28, 1919 was a tragic day for many; Congress passed the Volstead Act, which provided the enforcement of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, also known as the Prohibition Amendment. The only thing that made this day somewhat livable is that prohibition did not begin until the 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1920.

The idea of behind the prohibition movement began in the early 19th century, when Americans in temperance societies became concerned about the adverse effects of drinking. By the late 19th century, these groups became a powerful political force, and campaigned on the state level arguing that the nation should be liquor abstinent. Prohibitionists had some success even before national prohibition. In 1905 three American states had already outlawed alcohol, by 1912 it was up to nine states, and by 1916, legal prohibition was already in effect in 26 of the 48 states. On December 1917, the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the "manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes," was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. In January 1919, the 18th amendment pulled off the necessary two-thirds majority of state ratification, and prohibition became the law of the land.

Nine months later, The Volstead Act passed which provided for the enforcement of prohibition, including the creation of a special unit of the Treasury Department. Despite a determined effort by law-enforcement agencies, the Volstead Act failed to prevent the large-scale distribution of alcoholic beverages, and it also caused organized crime to flourish in America. For example, alcoholic drinks were still widely available at speakeasies and other underground drinking establishments.

The Volstead Act was amended to allow 3.2 percent alcohol by weight by passage of the Blaine Act on February 17, 1933. The Eighteenth Amendment though was not repealed until a later time in1933 with ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment. The Twenty-first Amendment, repealed nationwide prohibition and explicitly gave states the right to restrict or ban the purchase and sale of alcohol. It allowed alcohol to be sold legally in some but not all towns or counties within a state. After the repeal of the national law some states continued to enforce prohibition laws; Oklahoma, Kansas, and Mississippi were still "dry" in 1948. Mississippi, which had made alcohol illegal in 1907, was the last state to repeal prohibition, in 1966.

National Prohibition reduced the consumption of alcoholic beverages by Americans by 50 percent, and ended up actually reducing cirrhosis of the liver by 63 percent, mental hospital admissions for alcohol psychosis by 60 percent and arrests for drunk and disorderly behavior by 50 percent.

I am sure everyone is happy that the prohibition act is done and over with. I was talking to people at my work about it, and they were talking about their experiences with dry counties and weird laws still prohibiting alcohol in certain situations. The only time I ever had to deal with laws that prohibit alcohol on certain days, or for certain hours, was when I visited in Houston, Texas. These laws are so strange to me, because I have lived in California my whole life, where the only laws that prohibit alcohol are around college areas which prohibit the sales after midnight. Do any of you have any alcohol prohibitive laws that you have to deal with?

Related Products

Celebrate the fact that Prohibition has been repealed with these items:

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We have these Vodka Chillers that let you savor your vodka the Russian way. Set includes six 3-oz. stems, each 5¾" tall. Bucket 5" tall, 5½" diameter.

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There are also these Original'50s-vintage moose mugs. For more than half a century, Russians have enjoyed their favorite brews from classic tankards like these. Each holds a full pint (16 oz.) and is embossed with the image of a bull moose. Say "nyet" to ordinary glasses!

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With this, you can have your own pub. These are nearly exact replicas of London-style canopy pub bars. Store your favorite libations on the 18-bottle, built-in wine rack. Eight drawers (four in front/four in back) keep towels and barware neat and organized. 7' 8" tall canopy with overhead racks for wine glasses rests atop six, hand-lathed pedestals. Finishing touches like brass accented drawer pulls, beveled glass mirrors, sculpted trim and cast iron nails add to the ambiance.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

This Day in History: October 27, 1962

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The United States and Soviet Union step back from brink of nuclear war

The Cold War created an open yet restricted rivalry between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and their allies that developed after World War II. The Cold War did not directly lead to fighting between the superpowers, but it did lead to psychological war in a sense. In 1962 though, the United States and the Soviet Union stepped back from the brink of a nuclear war on October 27th. Complex and tension-filled negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union finally resulted in a plan to end the two-week-old Cuban Missile Crisis.

President John F. Kennedy made an address on October 22 warning the Soviets to cease their reckless plan to put nuclear weapons in Cuba and he also announced a naval quarantine against additional weapon shipments into Cuba. The world seemed as if they were holding their breath while they waited to see whether the two superpowers would end this conflict in a nuclear battle. During this time, the U.S. armed forces went on alert and the Strategic Air Command went to Stage 4 (which was one step away from a nuclear attack).

Millions waited to see if the Soviet ships were going to Cuba carrying additional missiles would try to break the U.S. naval blockade around the island or if they would turn around. Finally, at what seemed like the last minute, the Soviet ships turned around and returned back to the Soviet Union.
On October 26, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev responded to the quarantine by sending a letter to Kennedy offering a deal. He said that Soviet ships bound for Cuba would not carry any kind of armaments if the United States vowed never to invade Cuba.

Nikita Khrushchev sent another letter on October 27 offering to remove the missiles from Cuba if the United States would remove their nuclear missiles from Turkey.
After debate with Kennedy and his officials, General Robert Kennedy ultimately devised an acceptable plan. The plan was to take up Khrushchev's first offer and ignore his second letter. Although the United States had already been considering the removal of the missiles from Turkey, they felt that they shouldn’t agree to the second offer because it would make them appear as if they were weak. However, behind the scenes, Russian diplomats were already informed that the missiles in Turkey would be removed after the Soviet missiles in Cuba were taken away. When they told Nikita Khrushchev their plan, they also made the threat that if the Cuban missiles were not removed in two days, the United States would resort to military action.

On October 28th, Khrushchev announced that he would dismantle the installations and return them to the Soviet Union, expressing his trust that the United States would not invade Cuba. Further negotiations were held to implement the October 28 agreement, including a United States demand that Soviet light bombers also be removed from Cuba, and to specify the exact form and conditions of United States assurances not to invade Cuba.

Well, that was interesting. I also learned more today (although not mentioned above) how scared people were during the Cold War. So many people had personal bomb shelters, and this one person I talked to said they were in every school and government building. Has anyone here had any experiences with the Cold War? I would love to hear more about it, from a personal standpoint.

Ok, well I have to get out of here. I can’t believe Thursday sneaked up so fast this week. I am soo excited for my costume for Halloween. Does anyone have any good plans for Halloween?

Related Memorabilia

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Here is our Vintage Cold War radiation detector. This is from the early ’60s and was what people used in order to know when they needed to run into their bomb shelters. We discovered a limited quantity of these stashed away in a forgotten bomb shelter. On the side of them there is a CD (civil defense) decal. Each is fully functional and comes complete with the original operating manual. Standard detector reads rads and is equipped with a 25' cable, which allows remote readings while keeping exposure to a minimum. Radiation detectors are in working condition but have not been calibrated.

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We also have this Czech Cold War light table. One of our agents discovered these Cold War gems at an old STB intelligence center in the Czech Republic. Surveillance images were reviewed by analysts on these light tables. Complete in the original O.D. green wooden case with a ton of Czech markings. This is fully operational when connected to a European 220v converter. We only have a handful of these left.

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Last but not least, have this Col d war tank buster missile . Armor-piercing missiles were built during the Cold War for the M1-A1 Abrams tank (America's primary battle tank). Dubbed "tank busters," they were designed to take out heavily armored Warsaw Pact tanks on the European battlefield. Tens of thousands of these missiles were destroyed under the Department of Defense's "crush rule." By our wits, some luck and a connection in the Pentagon, we rescued a few practice rounds. Each stands 18" tall and weighs a whopping 8 lbs.! Some are even engraved with the D.O.D.'s item number (GI M-735).

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

This Day in History: October 26, 1881

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Here: Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers are seen dead after the gunfight at the OK Corral.

Shootout at the OK corral, in Tombstone, Arizona takes place

The Shootout at the OK corral that took place in Tombstone, Arizona became a legend among many Western films. The shootout started on a vacant lot behind the corral where thirty shots were fired in thirty seconds. The people involved in the shoot out were: Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp, Virgil Earp, and Doc Holliday who fought against Billy Claiborne, Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury, Billy Clanton, and Ike Clanton. Both McLaury’s and Billy Clanton ended up being killed.

The issues behind the gunfight are quite complex. The two sides were in opposition due to difference in politics, business concerns and ideological matters. The Earp’s were viewed by their enemies as “badge-toting pimps” who were ruthless when it came to enforcing the business interests of the town. The Clanton’s and their cowboy friends were seen as cattle rustlers, thieves, and murderers to their enemies.

The main thing that is said to have led to this shooting was a stagecoach robbery that happened in March, 1881, where two people were killed and the prime suspect escaped from jail. After this happened, there were accusations that Doc Holiday was responsibly for the robbery and the murder, although later the accusations were recant. Wyatt Earp was running for election to be sheriff of Cochise County and in order to win he felt he should attempt to coerce Ike Clanton to help arrest of the men accused in the robbery. Ike ended up backing out of the deal, which spiked hostility between the Earp’s and the Clanton’s.

There were additional run-ins between the Earp and Clanton factions that ending up leading to the Shootout at Ok Corral on October 26, 1881. During October 26, 1881 in Tombstone there were reports that cowboys were going about with firearms and seeking more. Ike Clanton is known as the first to claim that he wanted a showdown with the Earp’s. Virgil Earp knew he had to enforce the town’s law that said firearms have to be checked into local authorities. He finally decided to approach the Clanton’s group and demanded that they give up their guns. With his brothers Morgan and Wyatt and Holiday in tow, they marched to the vacant lot near the corral. At the corral, Virgil said “Throw your hands up, I want your guns.” After Virgil said this, the shooting began and thirty seconds later Virgil and Morgan were seriously wounded while Holiday received minor woulds. Wyatt remained standing and Ike Clanton ended up fleeing the scene unscathed. Billy Clanton the McLaury brothers Frank and Tom were killed though.

After the gunfight, the Earp’s and Holliday were charged with murder, but at the preliminary hearing the presiding Justice of the Peace ruled that there was not enough evidence for a trial. However, following the hearing, Wyatt's brother Morgan ended up being assassinated and Virgil was severely wounded, completely losing the use of his left arm. After these incidents, Wyatt, accompanied by Doc, undertook a vendetta in which they tracked down and killed the men that they believed were been responsible for the acts against the Wyatt's brothers. After their vendetta, Wyatt and Doc parted company. Soon after, Doc died of tuberculosis and Wyatt traveled across the Western frontier until his death in 1929.

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Whichever side you are on, this dueling pistol replica will help you challenge your nemesis. Well not really, because it is a non-firing replica, but the real one would have. This replica would be a really good display piece, especially if you know this story about the Ok corral shootout. The pistol has all-metal construction with engraved antiqued patina and ornate faux-ivory grips with eagle head butt. It also has a Cocking/firing trigger with three barrels that allowed for multiple firing.

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We have this other dueling pistol replica too. It also comes with all-metal construction with antiqued patina, ornate faux-ivory grips and a cocking/firing trigger.

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What better place for your dueling pistols than in this Double leather six-shooter holster.This holster is crafted from hand-tooled leather and accented with brass hardware. It has eather thigh straps and it’s loops hold over two-dozen bullets.

Seems to me if you are a fan of the days when shootouts were popular, than you would definitely like this dueling memorabilia.

So I was just reading this article on and couldn’t let up my quizzical look. Apparently two turkeys flew into a motorcyclist going south, causing the motorcyclist to head into the northbound lanes and go into the embankment. The man survived, but is in serious condition. The turkey that hit the man died, but there are no reports on whether the other turkey survived or not. Do you think that maybe the turkey’s did this for revenge, because they know that next month we will be eating quite a few of their clan? Learning about shootouts seems pretty normal compared to learning about turkeys causing near-death experiences to motorists now. Hmm.

On that note, I think it is time to go. If you read this, leave me a comment, I’d really like to know who reads this, if anyone.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

This Day in History: October 25, 1917

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The second stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917 begins

On October 25, 1917 the second stage of the Russian Revolution, known as the October Revolution, launched and the Bolshevik coup took strategic points in the city, including government facilities and eventually they assaulted the Winter Palace.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a political movement in Russia that peaked with the overthrow of the Provisional Government in 1917 that had replaced the Russian Tsar system. The Russian Revolution led to the establishment of the Soviet Union, which ended up lasting until 1991. The Russian Revolution took place in two phases, the first one taking place in February, known as the February Revolution of 1917, and one that happened in October, known as the October Revolution of 1917. The February Revolution displaced the autocracy of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, which was the last effective Tsar of Russia, and also sought to establish a liberal republic. In the October Revolution the Soviets, inspired and controlled by Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik party, seized power from the Kerensky Provisional Government. The October Revolution was based upon the ideas of Karl Marx, and its intentions were to spread communism in the twentieth century (although there has been much controversy over their intentions to spread it world wide or just throughout certain countries).

On October 25, 1917), Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin led his leftist revolutionaries n an uprising in Petrograd, the capital of Russia, against the ineffective Kerensky Provisional Government. The revolt in Petrograd was practically bloodless, because the Red Guards led by the Bolsheviks took over major government facilities with little opposition before finally launching an assault on the Winter Palace on the night from November 6th to November 7th.

The October Revolution ended the phase of the revolution that started in February, and replaced Russia's short-lived provisional government with a Soviet government. Although many bolsheviks supported a soviet democracy, the 'reform from above' model gained definitive power when Lenin died and Stalin gained control of the USSR. Trotsky, his supporters and other democratically-minded communists were persecuted and eventually imprisoned or killed.

After October 1917, members of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party and Russian Anarchists opposed the Bolsheviks through the soviets. When this failed, they revolted in a series of events calling for "a third revolution." The most notable instances were the Tambov rebellion, 1919 - 1921, and the Kronstadt rebellion in March 1921. These movements made a wide range of demands although the demands lacked ineffective coordination, which led to the collapse of the movement during the Civil War.

The Russian Revolution is said to be one of the most important events in modern world history. Its impact was obvious in both Europe and America. Although the Revolution did not directly spread Communism, it did give third world countries an example to follow. Decades later, the philosophy and governmental model pf Russia would gain new notoriety as Russia, now a full communist state, squared off with the United States in the Cold War.

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During the 1917 Russian Revolution, Alexander Kerensky's provisional government was established in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) to maintain law, order and the banking system. The government lasted only a few months, but in this brief time, it managed to gain British backing to issue these beautiful Authentic Russian Revolution certificates of exchange. Each certificate is comprised of two 13"x5" documents, printed in English. Each features a dozen or so stamps, seals, endorsements, colorful lithographed emblems, hand-written notes and signatures from famous banks and investment brokers of the day. Certificate of Authenticity also is available.

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We also have Set of four Nicholas kopeck coins. This set of four Nicholas silver kopeck coins come in 10, 15, 20 and 50 kopecks. They are in very fine condition and are packaged in a handsome display folder with certificate of authenticity.

In San Diego, it is cold when it’s below the 70s. People wear their biggest coats when it drops below 65. It is pretty funny. Well today, at least right now it is below 63, and I am cold. I feel that we pay for good weather though, and are ripped off when we dont get it (to a point, and in a joking way). You hear EVERYONE complaining when its cloudy for more than a few days in a row, which is how it has been recently. And when I say pay for good weather, I mean we pay to live in San Diego, which is ridiculously over-priced, because the weather is so great. This weather makes me want to just stay under the nice warm covers, but unfortunately I have to get things done. Like this for example, and I also have a midterm today and another one to prepare for. I dont think i could live somewhere cold, i would never get out of bed.

Well I have to go now, leave me a comment, I like comments.

Monday, October 24, 2005

This Day in History: October 24, 1930

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John Wayne debuts in his first starring role

On October 14, 1930 John Wayne, nicknamed “Duke” debuts in his first starring role in “The Big Trail” (pictured above). “The Big Trail” features John Wayne in his first leading role, although disappointingly the film flopped. This did not predict his career in the least, because after Wayne’s next 10 years of playing mediocre roles he became one of the most popular stars in the history of American film.

John Wayne was born on May 26, 1907 and lived until June 11, 1979 (the day before my birthday… well a few years before I was born). He appeared in silent movies and “talkies”. John Wayne was born with the name Marion Robert Morrison but it was changed to Marion Michael Morrison once his parents decided to name their next son Robert. His neighbors gave him the nickname “Big Duke” as a child, because they never saw him without his Airedale dog, named Little Duke. In “The Big Trail”, the director Raoul Walsh gave him the stage name “John Wayne” after a Revolutionary War general “Mad Anthony” Wayne.

Wayne went to USC where he began working around local film studios once his career as a football player was crushed by an injury. While working at the local film studios, Western star Tom Mix got Wayne a summer job in the prop department in exchange for football tickets. This is where Wayne established his long friendship with director John Ford. His friendship with Ford led them to work together on films that were considered his most iconic roles. The 142 lead roles that Wayne played in were usually “macho” roles in western films and war films, although he also had a down-to-earth sense of humor, which allowed him to appear in comedy movies also.

While researching information about John Wayne, I found that there has been controversy about how many films John Wayne’s character actually died in. I have the answer for you, if you were wondering.

His character’s death are seen in the following films:

1. The Shootist - He is killed in a gunfight in at the end of the film.
2. The Cowboys - He is killed by Bruce Dern's character.
3. The Alamo - Playing Davy Crockett, he is killed by a Mexican soldier's lance.
4. Sands of Iwo Jima - He is killed by a sniper's bullet at the end of the film.
5. Wake of the Red Witch - He dies as the ship sinks.
6. The Fighting Seabees - He is shot by a sniper.
7. Reap the Wild Wind - He is trapped inside the wreck of a sunken ship after a fight with a giant squid and drowns.

His character’s death are not shown in the following:

1. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - His character is dead at the beginning of the film and the story is told in flashback by James Stewart who is attending his funeral.
2. The Sea Chase - Lana Turner and Wayne are on a ship when it sinks, but the possibility that the characters survived is left open.
3. The Deceiver - Ian Keith's character died, but the corpse was played by John Wayne.
4. Central Airport - John Wayne has a very minor role as the co-pilot of an aircraft that crashes into the ocean.

If you are an admirer of John Wayne, or know someone who is, check out some of our John Wayne collectibles.

Here we have a John Wayne Life Magazine framed photo from a 1972 cover of Life magazine. This photo, by renowned photographer Bob Willoughby, was shot during the filming of "The Cowboys" and appeared on the January 28, 1972 cover of Life magazine.

We also have this John Wayne film cell collectible and DVD. This film cell was produced exclusively for and is limited to only 300 pieces. It features a strip of vintage 35mm film and the DVD from John Wayne’s 1959 classic “The Horse Soldiers”. It has a serial-numbered brass plaque with a certificate of authenticity.

So I have been talking to some people from my myspace account about this blog. There was one guy who told me he didn’t care about the topic about the last blog, and I was really happy that he commented on it. I wish that every blog could be amazing, but sometimes the history “In This Day in History” isn’t very exciting. Not everyday in history is exciting and I apologize if I have a topic or two that you aren’t interested in. If there are other suggestions for topics you would like me to talk about please tell me. If there are certain eras in history you are more interested also tell me. I will definitely take your suggestions not only into consideration, but into use.

Onto other things, I hope you had a good weekend. I had a pretty boring one, aside from Saturday afternoon where I practically got beaten up. I am in judo and was at practice Saturday where O basically got what I like to call “damaged”. During one throw my face head butted with another guy’s head. After that, I was in the middle of being thrown during our practice throws when someone’s knee landed on my knee when we hit the ground. Then we practiced a choke, called the Guillotine or the Ezekiel, and the guy I went with had a really POWERFULL choke. It ended up making my neck sore all weekend, and the pain has continued into today. Also the knee injury made me have a slight limp all weekend, which was pretty embarrassing. I wonder what people think when they see me limping. I’m sure none of them would expect me, as a girl, to have been injured in a sport.

Well time to get back to working on other things. Let me end with a quote by John Wayne:

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."

Friday, October 21, 2005

This Day in History: October 21, 1918

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Margaret Owen sets world typing speed record of 170 wpm for 1 min

Although typewriters are becoming obsolete in our modern world, they still have a significant history. For those of you who are unsure of what a typewriter is, they are a mechanical device with a set of keys that when pressed make characters that are printed on a document. The keys are made of a metal and when pressed against an inked ribbon the ink is stamped onto the paper in the character that you press. The way that typewriter actually puts a mark on the paper now varies as much as printers vary though. The paper was rolled around by the typewriter's platen, which was then rotated by a lever to each new line of text

The first typewriter, like the one we know today, was invented in 1864 by Austrian Peter Mitterhofer but was never produced commercially. Rev. Malling Hansen improved this model. He called his machine the Hansen Writing Ball, which was the first typewriter to be sold commercially. In 1867 Christopher Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and Samuel W. Soule invented another typewriter. This typewriter was the first device that allowed an operator to type considerably faster than any person could write by hand. The patent was sold for $12,000 to Densmore and Yost, who made an agreement with E. Remington and Sons to commercialize what was known as the Sholes and Glidden Type-Writer. Remington started production of their first typewriter on March 1, 1873.

One of the main reasons why typewriters were invented was for the blind. They became popular with many writers, including those who were blind and were not, and are still popular among a few writers in less developed countries, although they have largely been replaced by the word processor on computers.

During the 1920s through 1940s, typing speed was an imperative secretarial qualification and typing contests were popular, publicized by typewriter companies as promotional tools.

According The Guinness Book of World Records Barbara Blackburn is the fastest typist in the world, As of 2005. She has maintained 150 word/min for 50 min, 170 word/min for shorter periods of time, and has been clocked at a peak speed of 212 word/min. Blackburn failed her typing class in high school, but first encountered the Dvorak keyboard in 1938, where she quickly learned to achieve very high speeds.
In 1921, Margaret Owen was one of the first people to set a record. Her record of 170 wpm for 1minute is very significant, because even for Barabra Blackburn, she could only keep up with 170 wpm for a short period of time, MANY years later.

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If you are a collector of typewriters, or are one of the few that still use typewriters, check out our Olivetti mechanical typewriter. This typewriter is a compact typewriter that uses ABS (plastic) housing and loads of feature. It automatically indents new paragraphs, it has a memory line finder and a two color ribbon.

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We also have this 70's-vintage typewriter. This was made by Brother Typewriter in the '70s. All the standard bells and whistles, like eight-position tab set, ribbon color selector, shift key and shift lock. It also features an interchangeable language key., zippered leatherette carrying case with handle with vintage packaging. It still has all the original manuals, warranty card and factory test sheet too.

I had no idea, but typewriters have turned into a huge collectible item. I remember when I tried to use a typewriter that my mom had when I was little. I was HORRIBLE at it. Surprisingly now, I type relatively pretty fast. Maybe it was just the ribbon that messed up my flow of writing.

What do you think about typewriters? Do you think they are still useful today? Do they make you feel more like an original old-time author? Lend me your thoughts.

Well, it’s almost the weekend, only a few more hours left. I do not have any big plans this weekend, aside from a LOT of studying. I think teachers conspire to put all your midterms and papers due on the same date. Anyone have anything exciting going on this weekend?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

This Day in History: October 20, 1819

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Union General Daniel Sickles is born

On October 20, 1819 General Daniel Sickles, one of the most colorful generals in the Union army was born.

Sickles was part of the infamously corrupt Tammany Hall political machine in New York City and also served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1857-1861. His career as a politician was marked with scandal, particularly because the New York State Assembly censured him when he brought a known prostitute to his chambers and also took this same woman on a trip to England with him all the while he his pregnant wife remained in the U.S.

While Sickles served as a member of the Congress in 1859, he confronted Philip Barton Key, a son of Francis Scott Key (author of “Star Spangled Banner”), when he was caught having an affair with his wife, Theresa Sickles. Sickles ended up shooting Key, Washington’s district attorney, just across from the White House. The trial that followed this became sensationalized. For his case he hired Edwin Stanton, the upcoming Secretary of War for Abraham Lincoln. Stanton had Sickles claim the defense of temporary insanity. Sickles ended up being the first defendant in the United States to be acquitted for the temporary insanity defense. After this court case, Sickles then went back to his wife, which the Washington society shunned. He ended up leaving office in 1861.

Once the Civil war began, Sickles raised a brigade from New York. The governor at the time ordered his Excelsior Brigade to disband, but Sickles appealed to President Lincoln. Temporarily, Lincoln gave Sickles the rank of commander and promised he would help negotiate the New York political maze in order to commission his brigade. Almost a year later, Sickles and his brigade came to be part of General Joseph Hooker’s corps during the Seven Day’s Battle. Sickles quickly began to move up in the ranks and by 1863 he became the commander of the Army of Potomac’s Third Corps. Sickles fought well at the Battle of Chancellorsville and also played a major role in the Battle of Gettysburg. Sickles went against Commander General George Meade’s wishes and moved his troops from a low portion of Cemetery Ridge on the battles second day to the section of high ground in Sickles front. This ended up being a mistake, because this move left his corps and the Army of the Potomac in a very vulnerable position. The Confederates, led by General James Longstreet, attacked Sickle’s corps, and they ended up barely surviving that day. During this battle Sickle’s lost his leg, and never was able to regain another command.

After the war, he became the military governor for the Carolinas and served as the U.S. minister to Spain. In Madrid he also had some scandals, including a rumor that he had an affair with Queen Isabella II. When he returned to the U.S. in 1874, he spent a lot of time defending his actions at Gettysburg. He died in 1914, at the age of 94. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, although the leg he lost at Gettysburg is on display at the Armed Forces Medical Museum in Washington, D.C.

If you are interested in the Civil War, some of these items may be of interest to you.

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Here we have a Suede Civil War kepi cap. This cap is modeled after the French officer’s caps, which were worn by soldiers on both sides during the Civil War. Hunched in the trenches, they raised their kepis with their rifles; if no one shot, it was safe to move.

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Here we have a Ulysses S. Grant lead figurine. It is a pretty cool Union collectible for history and Civil War buffs.

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We also have this Civil War chess set. With this you can reenact the Civil War through chess. On the union side, Lincoln is the king and Grant is the queen. The Confederate side in this set is led by Jefferson Davis as King and the Robert E. Lee as queen.

Well, it seems to be that General Daniel Sickles was pretty scandalous. Wow. Did anyone else know this? I didn't. I keep learning new things everyday.

This week has flown by. Its already thursday, which means tomorrow is FRIDAY!! Today is a pretty busy day for me. I have work, then class, then judo.

Do any of you have adventerous plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

This Day in History: October 19, 1931

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Spy Novelist John Le Carré is born

John Le Carré, a disillusioned, suspenseful spy novelist who based his novels on a vast knowledge of international espionage was born October 19, 1931 in Poole, Dorset. Le Carré’s pen name was David John Moore Cornwell. He was born in England, educated in Switzerland, taught at Eton College and worked for the British Foreign Service.

In the early 1960’s Le Carré began his work about the British secret service. His novels were regarded as insightful depictions of the political climate during the Cold War. His first novel was Call for the Dead (1961), which was about a British intelligent agent who ended up appearing in some of his later novels. The success of Le Carré’s third novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963), is what made him popular and convinced him to work full-time as a write. He followed his success with other popular thrillers such as his trilogy- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974), The Honourable Schoolboy (1977), and Smiley’s People (1980). His trilogy actually became serialized for Television. And his book The Little Drummer Girl (1983) and A Perfect Spy (1986) were made into a popular motion pictures.

His later novels, The Secret Pilgrim (1991), The Night Manager (1993) and Our Game (1995) give a glimpse at the world of espionage after the collapse of Communism and the end of the Cold War. He changes his direction in 1996 with his book The Tailor of Panama where he focused on an evildoer who sought to overturn the Panama Canal treaty. In his next book, The Constant Gardener (2001) he wrote about the political conflict in Kenya as a middle-aged British diplomat searched for the killers of his murdered wife, who was a human rights activist. He went back to writing about espionage in his most recent book called Absolute Friends (2004), which was set in the world of international politics in the post 9/11 period.

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A tool that would have helped his spy characters would be this Spy Scopee. These 8-power monoculars were originally made for the KGB and counter-intelligence agencies. They have a serial number with Cyrillic markings. These are comparably to German units.

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Another tool that would have helped is this Parabolic listening device. With this, you can hear up to 300’ away. It amplifies sounds by 80 decibels and features a 10-power scope so you can see what you’re listening to. It also has a 12-second digital recorder that allows others to hear the details too.

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We also have this Discreet listener . It can hear conversations from up to 60’ and can amplify sounds by 50 decibels. It is small enough to fit in your shirt pocket or clip onto your belt.

Not to be cheesy, but Le Carré’s books sound pretty interesting, especially the book about 9/11. He seemed to know his history really well, in order to write such highly-acclaimed historically involved novels.

If you noticed, the blog today was a little later than usual. That is because my two co-workers and I helped put together a desk for someone new we are hiring. I have to say we did a pretty good job for IKEA instructions.

Well it’s almost lunchtime and I’m starving, so I am going to head out. Don’t forget to comment!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

This Day in History: October 18, 1968

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Circus Circus opens in Las Vegas

On October 18, 1968 Circus Circus in Las Vegas opened. Circus Circus is a circus-themed hotel room with 3,770 rooms and a 101,000 square foot casino that is owned and operated by the Mandalay Resort Group. It features circus acts throughout the day and the only RV park on the strip. There is also an “Adventuredome” theme park in it, which is formerly known as Grand Slam Canyon. The 5-acre park is indoors and is covered by a pink dome top. It offers 16 rides and is directly connected to the hotel. The hotel also has some movie history. It was features in the 1971 James Bond film “Diamonds are Forever” and is known as Bazooka Circus in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”.

Circus Circus is located on the Las Vegas Strip, on Las Vegas Boulevard South in Las Vegas, Nevada. ‘The Strip’ is 4 miles long and has been designated an All-American Road. Las Vegas is known for its tourism, gambling, dry climate and variety of indoor and outdoor activities.
In regards to Las Vegas, we carry a lot of casino related items.

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First off, we have a Vegas-style 6-in-1 casino game. this game features classic Las Vegas games including roulette, black jack, craps, Baccarat, Pai Gow and poker dice. It includes a full set of casino chips, a roulette wheel, rake, dice and two decks of playing cards. It also gives you tips and directions on how to play the games.
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Second, we have Personalized Poker chips. With these you can personalize a set of 300 chips with up to three initials. This is perfect for a Christmas gift for all your friends that enjoy Vegas games.

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Lastly, we have Japanese Pachislo slot machine. This is a genuine Pachislo machine that came straight from Japanese casinos. This Pachislo machine has been reconditioned and conforms to the U.S. power and UL requirements. This game not only incorporates luck, but also skill because players get to choose the moment they want to stop the spinning wheels.

This makes me want to go to Vegas. I stayed in Circus Circus once when I was a kid, and that was probably the last time I was there. I should probably go though, I have a full day filled with working, writing papers, preparding for a presentation, giving a presentation, etc.

If you are interested in any of these products though, or the blog, or anything at all, please leave a comment.

Monday, October 17, 2005

This Day in History: October 17, 1835

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The first resolution formally creating the Texas Rangers is approved

On October 17, 1835 Texas approved a resolution that created the Texas Rangers, a group of armed lawmen who were supposed to “range and guard the frontier between the Brazos and Trinity Rivers.”

The Texas Rangers are considered to be the oldest state law enforcement agency in the North America. The Texas Rangers were first used in 1823 when Stephen F. Austin recruited ten tough and talented militiamen to help defend against brutal Indian attacks in the Mexican province of Tejas.

The Rangers consisted of Anglos, Hispanics and American Indians. They were said to handle the toughest assignments, which were usually in conflicts where they were far outnumbered. The Texas Rangers were the only group to ride to the Alamo in response to Travis' final plea for help.

In the middle of their revolt against Mexico, Texan leaders felt they needed the Texas Rangers to be a semi-official force of armed men who could defend the isolated frontier settlers of the Lone Star Republic against both Santa Ana's soldiers and hostile Indians. But after winning their war with Mexico the following year, Texans decided to keep the Texas Rangers, in order to defend against Indian and Mexican raiders and also to serve as the principal law enforcement authority along the sparsely populated Texan frontier. Because of the great area that they were to patrol, and the difficulty they had with communicating with the central government, the Texas Rangers were given a great amount of independence.

The state of Texas continued to rely on the Texas Rangers to enforce order in the outer regions of the state as late as the first two decades of the 20th century.
Texans eventually began to criticize the Texas Rangers because of their excessive violence and failure to follow the laws when Increasingly, though, some Texans began to criticize the Rangers, arguing that they used excessive violence and often failed to observe the finer points of the law when arresting suspects. As a result, in the 1935, the state won control over the Rangers, transforming them into a modern and professional law enforcement organization.

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If you like the Texas Rangers, we carry these Texas Ranger Badges which are silver-plated.

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What else to go with the Texas Ranger Badge than a Six-Shooter pistol. our six-shooter replica pistol has hardwood handgrips, a revolving cylinder and a spring-action shell ejector.

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We also have a Leather Cowboy Hat that would look perfect with the badge and the pistol. The hat has a beaded feather band with brass-finished concha detail.

I really had no idea about the Texas Rangers until today. You should tell me what you think about them. They sound a little like the minutemen today, well before they were formally created in 1835.

This weekend was really nice, and actually involved some sleep. I attended a judo competition and went to a pow wow in San Pedro. I have to say, that was a pretty unique experience. I got back to San Diego from Long Beach this morning, and surprisingly did not encounter too much traffic. The drive from Long Beach to San Diego at 6am is one of the most beautiful drives anyone can make. You can see the fog rolling off the ocean, and for some reason the clouds were absolutely amazing today. Also, last night there were AWESOME thunderstorms in Long Beach.

Anyway, I should probably head out. If any of you are on myspace, add me as your friend. Click here to add me. Have a good one!!

Friday, October 14, 2005

This Day in History: October 14, 1947

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Air Force pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947

On October 14, 1947 Air Force pilot Charles E. (Chuck) Yeager broke the sound barrier when he flew the experimental Bell X-1 rocket plane over Edwards Air Force base in California at Mach 1 at an altitude of 45,000-feet/13,700 m.

18 year-old Chuck Yeager enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1941 where worked as an aircraft mechanic and pilot before going over to the Atlantic to fight in World War II. In January 1946 General Yeager attended the test Pilot School at Wright Field, Ohio, and in August 1947he was sent to Muroc Air Base, California, as the project officer on the Bell X-1. His superiors were very impressed with him and selected him to fly the X-1 from over 125 senior pilots. Yeager ended up naming the Bell X-1 the “Glamorous Glennis” after his wife.

On Oct. 14, 1947, he flew the X-1 past the sound barrier, becoming the world's first supersonic pilot. Within the next two years, he flew the X-1 more than 40 times, exceeding 1,000 mph and 70,000 feet. He was the first American to make a ground takeoff in a rocket-powered aircraft. In December 1953 he flew the Bell X-1A 1,650 mph, becoming the first man to fly two and one-half times the speed of sound.

There are disputes, of course, about whether Yeager was actually the first person to break the sound barrier. German Pilot Hans Guido Mutke claims he was the first person to break the sound barrier on April 9, 1945 in a Messerschmitt Me 262. Another pilot, George Welch, also claims to have broken the sound barrier while driving an XP-86 Sabre two weeks before Yeager. But to end disputes, the USAF say that Yeager was the first person to break the sound barrier “in level flight” rather than by breaking the sound barrier in a dive, like the others.

Some of you may remember when Yeager returned to Edwards Air Force Base on October 14, 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his milestone flight in the Bell X-1 where he broke the sound barrier for his last time in an F-15.

I was really excited today when I found out that today was the day 58 years ago that the sound barrier was broken by Chuck Yeager because we have the perfect item for this. Not to be all marketing and all, but if you are really into Chuck Yeager, or aviation in general, this item is awesome!

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We actually have a Bell X-1 model hand-signed by Chuck Yeager, This is model comes in a 1:32 scale and would be really cool to put in your living room, study or office.

If you are interested in aviation in general, we also have other aviation models. Here are some:

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We also have the Enola Gay which is the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb. This model has also been signed by her commander, Paul Tibbets.

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Last but not least, we have the P-40B Tomahawk which was the fighter flown by the American volunteer group the Flying Tigers. This model has also been signed by ace-pilot and former Tiger, David "Tex" Hill.

I really love this aviation stuff, I can only imagine how excited my Grandpa would be if he could have gotten something like this. (He was also in the Air Force in 1947, like Chuck Yeager.

Anyway, it’s FRIDAY!!! I can’t wait for a day to sleep more than 5 hours a night. Hopefully one day this weekend that will happen.

By the way, if anyone has any suggestions or additional ideas behind any of these blogs, please let me know! Have a good weekend!!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

This Day in History: October 13, 1792

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The cornerstone of the White House was laid

On October 13, 1792 the cornerstone of the White House was laid. The White House is the official residence of the President of the United States and is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the capital of the USA, Washington, D.C. where it faces Lafayette Square. It is the oldest public building in Washington. Despite popular myth the name the “White House” was applied to the building some time before it was painted. The name became official when President Theodore Roosevelt engraved the name upon his stationery.

The White House was designed by an Irish-American architect James Hoban in a Georgian Neoclassical style. The years of the original construction took place from 1792-1800, although it had to be rebuilt after British soldiers burned it down during the War of 1812. John Adam’s was the first President to live in the White House.

The house is built on 18 acres. The house is 55,000 square feet with 132 rooms. The porte-cochere on the north front, which forms the main entrance, is a portico of high Ionic columns reaching from the ground to the roof pediment; and is balanced by a semicircular colonnaded balcony on the south with a second-floor porch. The main building is four stories high and 170 ft long. The colonnade at the east end is the public entrance. The executive office is approached by an esplanade. Large receptions are usually held in the East Room and the elliptical Blue Room is the scene of many social, diplomatic, and official receptions. The Red Room and the Green Room are used for private and quasi-official gatherings.

Now on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Lafayette Square, the area has been closed to vehicular traffic since 1995 for security reasons.

Now onto to some presidential collectibles.

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On July 4, 1776, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson began creating a unifying symbol for America's virtues. Six years later, their masterpiece: The Great Seal of the United States. Our United States Great Seal dinnerware displays the seal in a very patriotic way.

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We also have these President and First Lady bathrobes that look like they would fit right at home in the White House. Each bathrobe has the Presidential seal on it, with either Mr. President or First Lady embroidered on it.

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Another presidential collectible we have is this Authentic framed inaugural invitation . A select few received personal invitations to the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. Join this elite gathering with your very own, genuine Presidential invite. We have a handful of these historic invitations, each printed on heavy card stock. Set in an archival fabric mat and framed, under glass, in an elegant gold-tone, wood frame. Brass story plaque. Certificate of authenticity.

I am really glad today is thursday, or rather that Friday is already tomorrow. This week has moved by really fast. I am going out to Long Beach again this weekend, and plan to check out the beach and go to a Judo competition. Does anyone have any plans for this weekend?

Alright, I have to head out. Today is a day fueled by stress, so I better just get ready to face it. Have a good one!