Organized Crime

17 04 2008

Stede_BonnetPirates of old were much more organized and brazen than the ones that society seems to focus on. Much different than the loners at home in the Caribbean, these Indian Ocean pirates in the 1300s embraced piracy as a way of life. Whole communities of pirates would board their ships with their wives and children, usually about 100 ships. Most of them would scatter and spend the whole summer wreaking havoc with merchant ships and committing other vile and sundry acts of piracy.

Sometimes, however, 20 or so pirate ships would line up 5 miles apart in the ocean, effectively covering a good 100 miles of water. If one pirate spotted a ship, the other ships down the line would be signalled and the merchant vessel would be overwhelmed. The pirates wouldn’t harm the sailors intentionally, and after taking their cargo they would let them go telling them something like “Go and fetch another cargo. Then, with luck, you may give us some more.”

Some of the more wily pirates would take tamarind with them, a spice or juice made from the pods of the tamarind tree. When they apprehended a merchant vessel, the pirates would make the merchants drink tamarind and sea-water. This would make them throw up, and the pirates would sift through their vomit for precious stones and small valuables like that. It was a common habit among merchants to swallow some of the smaller bits of treasure when they realized they were going to be boarded.

One of the kings of the area was even known to have had a deal with a lot of pirates. He wouldn’t be aggressive against them or attempt to stop them if they gave him all of the horses that they pirated. Horses were, in fact, a large portion of their loot because of the fact that India didn’t breed very many horses at all so they were always shipping large numbers of them in.

Let it be known, however, that the merchants were no easy prey. Pirates were common enough that they would go out to sea heavily armed and ready to fight. Many a pirate was defeated by the very merchant it was planning on looting.


A tree

14 04 2008

Drawn with sharpiesI drew this in history class. A girl asked for a picture for her brother, who was about to leave for some kind of military school. I don’t know her brother very well, so I must say that I was actually drawing the picture for her, so she could give it to her brother.

I didn’t plan on it being a tree, I was drawing some curvy lines when I realized that it looked like a tree trunk. I then proceeded to add the foliage part of the tree.

I like trees. They’re all so detailed and unique, even in nurseries where they grow them all the same way. What makes them all grow differently? It must all lie in the seed. Nature is so incredibly versatile and untamable.

Blue Moon

13 04 2008

According to Google, once in a blue moon is about .17 × 10^-8 hertz. And then some other people say that means once every 32 months or so. I’m assuming they’ve done some calculations.

Popular definition seems to agree that a blue moon is the second full moon to occur in one month.

You can also take it for fact that the average interval between full moons is 29.5 days, and the average length of a month is about 30.5 days. This means that it’s not very likely for there to be two full moons, or a blue moon, in an given month. That probability calculates out to give us the numbers showing us that a Blue Moon actually takes place every two and a half years.

Conveniently enough, there is a “Blue Moon Calculator” which lists all sorts of blue moons taking place all over time. The next one is going to be on December 31st, 2009, at 7:11pm.

Fancy that.

Disclaimer: Blue moon meant something a little bit different to farmers and such in the 19th century.

The Will of the Good Value Village

13 04 2008

I know that some people tend to avoid places like Value Village and Goodwill in favor of places like Nordstrom or…. JC Penny?

Then there are other people who, regardless of their habits of either visiting or not visiting thrift stores, are prone to deny any connection with them.

My thoughts, however, are not between the strengths or weaknesses of either type of place to spend money, but between Value Village and Goodwill themselves.
To be frank; I don’t like Value Village at all. Not to offend anyone, but a lingering sense of failure and depression tends to haunt me for a time after shopping there. They sell $350 sofas and $2 TVs. Computer keyboards that look like they’ve been carefully dipped in coconut oil, 50-year-old Singer sewing machines built conveniently into tables, a rusty hunting knife, and a myriad of golden candlesticks, none of which are clean or look the same. Racks and racks of funny-smelling identical black slacks, floppy straw hats, your grandmother’s brown drinking glasses from the 70s, a rotary-dial telephone without a cord (technology trying to get ahead of itself there), and a young man lugging a plywood bedside table out the door. A policeman flipping through a fashion magazine from 1999 and a girl at the checkout counter trying to have fun.

Goodwill is a treasure chest. Flipping through the T-shirts, hoping for something interesting, happiness can be bought for a $1.35. The air smells like old detergent, and the linoleum is unremarkable. The Hawaiian shirts hang next to the dress shirts and there’s a circular rack set aside for the more expensive materials like leather or suede. You won’t sit in those lawn chairs, the cushions on the sofas are questionable, but you like perusing the book shelf without actually buying anything. A couple of books you recognize, one a fond memory from your childhood. Stereos and toasters sit amongst their own unplugged wires, you have to assume they work. After all, who would donate a broken toaster to Goodwill. There’s always that sense of… how can I say it… good will? about the place.

To kick it off:

13 04 2008

On this exciting and exhilarating first post of my suave new weblog (commonly called a “blog” (or, hehe, a “blarg”)) I will introduce myself.

I was born to the name of Peter Deligdisch. I hear that Deligdisch is a PolishGermanJewish name.

I am a self-proclaimed Lexophile, and I try to prove that to myself each and every day.

I don’t really like math that much. I can appreciate it for what it is, but I find it hard to express myself through it. Critics and math-lovers alike snipe that they have no problem using order and structure as a form of self-expression, but I just don’t see it.

Feel free to enlighten me.

I am in the continual process of teaching myself to read, to draw, and to play the piano.