101 Years and Done… or maybe not

Aficionados of Aplets and Cotlets received some bad news in March. Liberty Orchards, makers of the confection for more than a century, announced they would shut down operations in June. After a hundred-and-one years, there would be no more Aplets & Cotlets.

Mark Balaban and Armen Tertsagian, Armenian immigrants, owned a small orchard in Cashmere Washington. (Cashmere lies in central Washington, halfway between Wenatchee—home to the annual Apple Blossom Festival—and Leavenworth—a faux Bavarian village popular with tourists.)

The partners started the company in 1920 as way to sell surplus apples. They concocted Aplets, a candy combining apples and walnuts and gelatin. The confection was based on a candy they remembered called Turkish Delight. A few years later they introduced an apricot flavor, called Cotlets.

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A Mother’s Day Story

Jesus brought a few of his disciples with him to a wedding celebration at Cana. It’s likely that relatives of Mary were getting married and so to please his mother he made the two-day walk from his evangelizing base in Judea.

After he arrived, his mother told him the hosts had run out of wine. Jesus responded that he had come to party, not to work. (“Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”) Rather than rebuke her son for speaking so rudely to her or slapping him — or asking who invited the apostles — Mary simply told the servants, ”Do whatever he tells you.”

Jesus ordered the servants to fill containers with water and then draw some off and take it to the chief steward. After tasting it, the steward remarked to the bridegroom that instead of following the custom of serving the good wine first and the lesser wine after the guests’ tastes had been dulled, they had held the best for last.

Even though he spoke rudely to his mother, Jesus didn’t just do what Mary wanted, he made her happy by producing excellent quality wine. And thus Jesus began his rather short career by performing his first supernatural phenomenon not to support his proselytizing, but to please his mother.

Weather and Climate and Space Lasers

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q – Georgia) postulated that Jewish bankers Rothschild, Inc. connived with Pacific Gas & Electric to shoot lasers from space, thus igniting the apocalyptic wildfires to clear space for California’s high-speed rail project. While Rep. Greene’s inanities were garnering headlines, real scientists confirmed that space hurricanes are a real thing.

Scientists had previously warned about the likelihood of space hurricanes, and their potential to wreak havoc on satellites. Now a real space hurricane has been documented. Researchers took satellite images from August 20, 2014 and used 3D imaging to recreate how the hurricane formed and behaved. A 600-mile-wide torrent of plasma had hovered in the Earth’s upper atmosphere over the North Pole. The storm spun counterclockwise for about eight hours, generating spiral-shaped arms, spewing electrons instead of water, before it finally dissipated.

Scientists conjecture that space hurricanes are caused by an “unusually large and rapid transfer of solar wind energy and charged particles into the Earth’s upper atmosphere.” Researchers studying these phenomena say the resulting storms are not uncommon and should be monitored in real time, not six years after the fact. They foresee increasing interference with satellites, disrupting GPS and other communications.

Meanwhile, here on earth, scientists have been measuring the Gulf Stream, known formally as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), since 2004. The Gulf Stream’s powerful ocean current brings warm waters from the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic Ocean, past the east coast of the United States, and on to western Europe, altering the climate along its way. It even affects the weather on the western coast of Africa. The current keeps temperatures in these areas warmer during the winter months and helps to cool and regulate heat during the summer.

Using “proxy data” (everything from ships’ logs, to records of ice cores, ocean sediments, and corals collected over time) they can reconstruct the behaviors of the stream back as far as the year 400.

A new study tells us the Gulf Stream is rapidly weakening. It’s now the weakest it’s been in a thousand years.

The reason? Yep, you guessed it: human-caused climate change. Researchers say before the year 2100, melting ice floes will weaken the current and likely will result in rapidly rising sea levels on the U.S. east coast and more intense weather events in Europe, as in increasingly extreme heat waves, and a decrease in summer rainfall.

So here’s another something to worry about. You’re welcome.

Why Not the Ides of April?

In William Shakespeare’s telling, a soothsayer gave warning to Julius Caesar: “Beware the Ides of March.”

Caesar had, in fact, been forewarned, but he did not take it seriously. On his way to the Senate on March 15, 44 B.C., Caesar passed by the seer and sneered, “Well, the Ides of March have come!” The seer responded, “Aye, Caesar; but not gone,”

When he arrived at the Senate, Caesar’s fellow senators attacked him. Twenty-three stab wounds later he was dead. The assassination ignited a civil war that ultimately ended the Roman Republic. By 40 B.C. Caesar’s nephew and understudy, Gaius Octavius, emerged as Rome’s first emperor, calling himself Augustus.

March 15, 44 B.C., the Ides, is a touchstone in Roman history.

Why don’t we call our tax day, April 15, the Ides? There is no Ides of April.

The Ides of March was an important day on the Roman calendar. Originally, March was the first month of the year and the Ides marked the first full moon and kicked off a week of religious celebrations. Later Roman calendars still were keyed to lunar cycles. The ides was calculated to be the 13th for most months, but the 15th in March, May, July, and October.

Julius Caesar’s assassination was not the only memorable Ides-of-March event.

  • March 15, 1971 – CBS Cancels the “Ed Sullivan Show,”
  • March 15, 1917 – Czar Nicholas II of Russia signs his abdication papers, ending a 304-year-old royal dynasty and ushering in Bolshevik rule. He and his family are taken captive and, in July 1918, executed before a firing squad.

Click here for more Ides-of-March incidents.

A Deal with Russia

Remember when the previous occupant of the White House tried to pressure the president of Ukraine into a deal? The self-described greatest dealmaker did not succeed in the art of a deal with the former member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, ex-sovereign state and current Russian pawn. All the then-occupant of the White House got out of it was his first impeachment.

Thirty years earlier, another U.S. president—the U.S. president of Pepsi-Cola, that is—did make a deal with Ukraine.

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The Future Has Passed

Mark Wattles began construction of his dream home in 1997. Two years later, he halted work on the 49,240-square-foot structure. The closet in the master suite alone measures twelve-hundred square feet.

The house sits on thirty-two acres in West Linn, south of Portland. The home-to-be overlooks a bend in the Willamette River, with a 270-degree view and 2,700 feet of water frontage. Wattles paid $1.25 million for the property in 1994 and says he spent $12 million on the construction.

Wattles maintained the unfinished dwelling and kept the building permits active for twenty years. He sold the property at auction for $2.27 million in 2018. The buyer envisioned a Tuscan-style villa estate and vineyard and a wine tasting room. After two years with no additional construction the property is for sale again. Asking price is $3,999,999, a bargain.

Wattles was the founder of Hollywood Video, for a time the second-largest chain of video-rental stores, behind Blockbuster. Facing a hostile takeover attempt by Blockbuster in 2005, Hollywood accepted a buyout by Movie Gallery, a smaller competitor. Movie Gallery went bankrupt and was liquidated in 2010.
Wattles meantime, purchased Ultimate Electronics consumer electronics stores, itself in bankruptcy. The Ultimate chain went into its final bankruptcy in 2011 and Wattles faced a $5.1 million judgement for personal guarantees he had made to Sony.

Industry powerhouse Blockbuster at its peak had more than nine-thousand stores. Today there is one. Blockbuster did not keep up with fast-moving technology. It faced competition from Netflix which offered subscriptions for mail-order DVD rentals. Netflix transitioned from rentals to on-line streaming service.

The last Blockbuster store is in Bend Oregon. If you’re not in their neighborhood, you can order merchandise from their web site. (Need a “Be Kind, Rewind” t-shirt?)

And Mark Wattles? His current project is drive-thru coffee shops in the Dallas Texas area.