Saturday, January 30, 2021

15 Things Americans Do That Are Odd In Foreign Countries

A while back, I came across a list of things American tourists are guilty of doing in foreign countries. Things that we obviously don't give a second thought. Some are merely odd and others are considered offensive.

Expecting American Food To Be Everywhere

When traveling in a foreign country, if you're looking for McDonalds or Starbucks, you won't be disappointed since these chains and many other familiar ones are readily available worldwide. But that doesn't mean you can order your favorite food item. These franchises succeed in foreign countries by accommodating local tastes and customs.

Exposing Your Toes For All To See

In some Middle Eastern and Asian countries, feet are treated as the filthiest part of the body. Americans don't view toes this way, so our lack of foot concern comes off as strange and impolite. In many countries, you're expected to take off your shoes before entering a room and don't point your feet in anyone's direction. In other countries, showing the bottom of your feet is considered very rude.

Dressing Inappropriately

A surefire way to stand out as different when traveling in a foreign country is to dress like an American. Shorts, skirts, and short-sleeved shirts might seem like smart choices, especially if you're visiting a place that's hot all year or traveling in summer. Depending on where you go, your exposed skin could be offensive. Not only do these fashion errors make us stand out, they can mark us as tourist targets for scammers and criminals.

Wasting Food And Water

When Americans decided that bigger was better (as they say at McDonalds, do you want that super-sized?), we also began wasting resource at a dangerous rate. All-you-can-eat buffets, huge food portions, and needlessly leaving water running while brushing our teeth or washing our hands makes us one of the most wasteful countries in the world. Places like France have passed laws making food waste for supermarkets illegal, encouraging businesses to donate it to charity. When in a foreign country, conserve like a local.

Expecting Rush Service

Expecting quick service while in a foreign country is the quickest way to get a double glance from the locals. In the U.S., our tipping culture encourages fast service. In most countries, tradition requires little or no tip. As soon as you complain that you've been waiting too long, don't be surprised if you are ignored completely. [On one of my trips to London, we sat in the lobby of the hotel for three hours with our luggage because nobody could find a key for our room. The hotel manager apologized by saying, "I know things happen quickly in the States…" After another hour, I finally asked if someone could use a passkey and let us in the room so we could deposit our luggage and at least change clothes since we'd been on a flight all night. It was the next day before they could produce a key for us. The hotel had actual keys rather than the electronic key cards that the registration clerk swipes and assigns to a specific room when you check in.]

Wearing Fanny Packs

If you don't like the idea of wearing a money belt because you think it's too touristy, then just wait until you decide on a fanny pack in another country. They are far out of fashion's reach and visually mark you as an easy target.

Putting Ice In Everything

Ice is an automatic part of American life. We want it in every cold drink. We fill ice chests with it to go to the beach or camping. We even changed the design of freezers to produce more ice quicker. If you weren't born in the U.S., you probably don't understand our fascination with ice. If you're from the U.S. and are traveling in a foreign country, back off of the ice requests.

Giving Rude Hand Gestures

Americans tend to communicate with our hands, some more than others. Even automatic things like offering a hand shake when meeting someone or giving a thumbs up or an ok sign can be misinterpreted when done in a foreign country. And in China, pointing is very rude.

Using Your Left Hand

Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian, and African countries all have one thing in common—they expect food to be eaten with the right hand only. Common practice for those of us who are right-handed. But for you left-handers, they consider the left hand unclean.

Not learning Local Phrases

In case those born in the U.S. don't realize it, English is one of the most difficult languages to learn. That's why it's particularly hypocritical when we travel in foreign countries that we expect the locals to know at least a few English phrases. Showing cultural respect can be as simple as memorizing a greeting and a couple of basic questions. Americans expect everyone coming to our country to speak English. On the other hand, when we travel to foreign countries, we expect them to accommodate us by speaking English.

Showing Bad Table Manners

Just because we use knives, forks, and spoons doesn't mean other countries do, too. It's ok to use utensils if available, but you should know what is and isn't considered rude at the dinner table. Bad manners—eating anything with your hands in Chile, using a fork to shovel food in your mouth in Korea, putting used chopsticks on your empty plate when you've finished eating in Japan.

Requesting Menu Changes

In the U.S., no one would give a second though if someone requested more salt or pepper in a restaurant, in fact, salt and pepper shakers are common as part of the table setting. In Europe, this might insult the chef since it changes the way he prepared the food. And don't ask for a 'doggy bag' for your leftovers. They might think you intend to feed their food to your dog rather than finishing your meal in the restaurant.

Smiling At Strangers

Maybe we're wanting to show off our expensive dental work or just want to be polite. Whatever the reason, Americans smile too much, especially at strangers when we make eye contact. In some foreign countries, that could get you a nasty look in return.

Talking Too Loudly

The U.S. is an expressive culture. Freedom in American means you can usually be as loud as you want, mostly wherever you want. But when U.S. citizens travel to foreign countries, we attract attention by raising the volume of our voices a tad higher than everyone else in the room. Make sure you aren't the annoying tourist who won't pipe down.

And finally, there's…

Writing Dates Backward

Unlike many places in the world, we don't use metric measurements, our spelling system makes no sense to anyone else (even in the U.K. where English began), and our date format is out of order. While most countries use the DD/MM/YYYY format, we've stepped outside the box since July 4, 1776. We write the numerical date as MM/DD/YYYY. When you travel, be aware that 07/04/2021 is April 7, 2021, and not the 4th of July. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Bizarre and Unique February Holidays

February may be a short month, but it certainly is not short on the bizarre, unique, and weird when it comes to holidays—celebrations above and beyond the legal holidays where government offices, banks, and schools are closed for the day.

There are several month long designations in February:  American Heart Month, An Affair To Remember Month, Black History Month, Canned Food Month, Creative Romance Month, Great American Pie Month, National Cherry Month, National Children's Dental Health Month, National Grapefruit Month, and National Wedding Month.

February also has a week long celebration: the third week is International Flirting Week.

Hmmm…American Heart Month, An Affair To Remember Month, Creative Romance Month, National Wedding Month, and International Flirting Week.  How appropriate that they should all be in the month that gives us Valentine's Day.  :)

 Feb. 1              National Freedom Day

Feb. 2              Ground Hog Day

Always celebrated on February 2.  On this day, the groundhog awakens from a long winter's nap and goes outside of his den.  If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.  If he does not see his shadow, Spring is rapidly approaching.  The tradition comes from the German roots of Candlemas which is the mid point between Winter and Spring.

Feb. 2              Candlemas

Feb. 3              The Day The Music Died

Always celebrated on February 3. On this date in 1959 singers Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash.  The event was immortalized in the popular song, Apple Pie, written and recorded by Don McLean.

Feb. 4              Create A Vacuum Day

Feb. 4              Thank A Mailman Day

Feb. 5              National Weatherman's Day

Always celebrated on February 5.  According to the Air Force News, this holiday "commemorates the birth of John Jeffries, one of America's first weathermen."  He was born on February 5, 1744, and kept weather records from 1774 to 1816.  This holiday honors the men and women who work hard to accurately predict the often fickle weather.  Even with the major technological advances including super computers and satellites, forecasting weather is still a tricky, ever changing, and always challenging task.

Feb. 6              Lame Duck Day

Feb. 7              Wave All Your Fingers At Your Neighbor Day

Feb. 7              Send A Card To A Friend Day (a holiday created by Hallmark?)

Feb. 8              Boy Scout Day

Feb. 8              Kite Flying Day

Always celebrated on February 8 (but why in the middle of winter?).  People have enjoyed flying kites for thousands of years, both children and adults.  The most well known kite flyer is undoubtedly Benjamin Franklin with his key and lightning experiment.  Kites were first used by the military in ancient China over 3,000 years ago.

Feb. 8              Clean Out Your Computer Day (the 2nd Monday of the month)

Feb. 9              Toothache Day

Feb. 10            Umbrella Day

Feb. 11            Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day

Feb. 11            Make A Friend Day

Feb. 11            White T-Shirt Day

Feb. 12            Plum Pudding Day

Feb. 12            Abraham Lincoln's Birthday (combined with George Washington's birthday, it's legally celebrated as President's Day the third Monday of February, on the 15th this year)

Feb. 13            Get A Different Name Day

Always celebrated on February 13.  This day is for those who are not fond of their given name.  It's the day to take steps to change your name (and don't forget to notify those who need to know about your new name).

Feb. 14            Ferris Wheel Day

Feb. 14            National Organ Donor Day

Feb. 14            Valentine's Day

Feb. 15            Candlemas (on the old Julian Calendar)

Feb. 15            National Gum Drop Day

Feb. 15            Singles Awareness Day

Feb. 15            President's Day

A combination of Lincoln's birthday and Washington's birthday always celebrated on the third Monday of the month.

 Feb. 16            Do A Grouch A Favor Day

Feb. 17            Random Acts of Kindness Day

Always celebrated on February 17.  You know what to do…perform a few random acts of kindness.  Almost any kind deed will do.  And remember—Random Acts of Kindness is highly contagious.

Feb. 18            National Battery Day

Feb. 19            National Chocolate Mint Day

Feb. 20            Cherry Pie Day

Feb. 20            Hoodie Hoo Day

Always celebrated on February 20.  On this winter day, people go out at noon, wave their hands over their heads and chant "Hoodie-Hoo."  This is the day to chase away the winter blahs (in the Northern Hemisphere).

Feb. 20            Love Your Pet Day

Feb. 21            Card Reader Day (another Hallmark creation or a computer port for SD cards?)

Feb. 22            George Washington's Birthday (combined with Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, it's celebrated as the legal holiday of President's Day on the third Monday of February, on the 15th this year).

Feb. 22            Be Humble Day

Feb. 22            Walking The Dog Day

Feb. 22            International World Thinking Day

Feb. 23            International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day

Feb. 23            Tennis Day

Feb. 24            National Tortilla Chip Day

Always celebrated on February 24.  The corn chip recipe was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by a Texas businessman.  Just a few decades ago, Americans seldom ate corn chips and salsa.  Today it's wildly popular.

Feb. 25            Pistol Patent Day

Feb. 26            National Pistachio Day

Feb. 26            Tell A Fairy Tale Day

Feb. 27            Polar Bear Day

Feb. 27            No Brainer Day

Always celebrated on February 27th.  By definition, a no brainer is doing something simple, easy, obvious, and/or totally logical.  If a project requires thinking, study, or analysis of any kind, then this is not the day for it.

Feb. 28            Floral Design Day

Feb. 28            Public Sleeping Day

Feb. 28            National Tooth Fairy Day (sometimes celebrated on August 22)

So…enjoy your favorite bizarre, weird, and unique celebration/holiday.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Guest Blog—author RW Richard and his new release, Cinnamon & Sugar

Today, I'm welcoming to my blog author RW Richard and his new release from The Wild Rose Press—Cinnamon & Sugar.


WHEN I was caretaking my daughter, I read to her from my draft manuscript that I have since dedicated to her. I read to keep her mind off her pain and that she might have to leave soon. I never imagined her reaction. She cried, yes, of course, it’s a tear jerker, but it was more than that. It was how she loved, lived, and taught. She, being who she was, instructed a professional writer (me), on changes she wanted (demanded). Since it was on a subject (racial hatred and brother and sisterhood) that caused her to march just like her old man did with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she made me promise I get a “real” publisher and, “Dad can you help my boys?” I said, “yes, honey, all the royalties will go to them.” So, Lani became my third muse and 1st angel. The story is rated PG.


Humphrey Bertrand's genius-level IQ can't help him find his moral compass. His family is filled with racial conflicts and he struggles to find his own way. But he cannot let anyone drown, regardless of their skin color. Alicia Bloom, a gifted valedictorian and poet runs away from an abusive situation. While she is thankful to Humphrey for saving her life, she doesn't want to be tied to anyone. When an attempt on her life forces them to hit the road together to stay one step ahead of a murderous maniac they wonder if their dreams of a future will be put on hold permanently.


A sweaty Alicia left the poolside gym, at the Marriot, near Dartmouth, New Hampshire. The pool and poolside were devoid of people except for Humphrey. She ogled him while he sprinted the butterfly up and down the outdoor sapphire pool. Droplets danced on his wide shoulders and lats. His incredible body caressed the waters, producing a smooth trowel the length of him. Every part of him made her yearn for a lover named Humphrey. On the run with the world’s cutest boy, one must avoid freefalling off a cliff. Rocks often awaited at the bottom.

He still put up makeshift curtains between their beds, but it had gotten cold at night.

She ran to their room and changed into a red, white, and blue bikini she had bought in Cambridge, but coming out on the deck, she chickened at the idea of getting wet.

He stopped his exercise and allowed his shoulders to slack, likely exhausted. He gawked when she sauntered over to near the pool’s edge in the patriotic swimsuit, and there he sloshed in water, mock fanning himself. Boys. But she was tickled to the point she almost squealed. Oh, he liked her figure all right.

He waved. “Come on in.” And saluted her.

True they still had the pool to themselves, so nobody would laugh at her awkwardness. “I don’t know how to swim.” She squinted from the bright sun.

“I can teach you.”

He tossed his goggles on to the deck next to his towel.

What kind of teaching would this be? Would he touch her body? How could she resist him? But the water reminded her of the Potomac drowning, and the boy reminded her that she could drown in desire. Her heart beat fast, a crazy cross between fear and desire, and unfamiliar waters.

Author Bio:

Bob Richard, pen name RW Richard is published by The Wild Rose Press. He’s a member of RWA and RWASD. He has a BS in Physics and an MBA in management/marketing from St. Joseph’s university. He was a champion swimmer. Is a chess master with State titles (CA NJ NY). He won best contemporary romance of the year and other awards. So far he has written nine books.

A NOTE regarding recent events. People have told me I stole the beginning of the story from the violence in D.C. 2021. I can’t write that fast. If ever you send a manuscript to a publisher you can expect at least a year to go by before it’s out. My story is about how love knows no boundaries. Two lost souls find each other impossible, but discover they can’t live without each other’s help.



Barnes & Noble paperback:

Barnes & Noble ebook: 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

12 Offbeat American Museums

Museums…we've all been to them whether in our home town or on our travels. And there are all types of museums housing and displaying treasures depicting so many different themes. There are art museums presenting all types of art from the paintings of the old masters to modern art and all varieties in between, museums dedicated to specific historical events and times, living history museums including live demonstrations and presenters in period costumes, museums of cultural relevance, and museums such as those of the Smithsonian that cover just about everything from fossils millions of years old to space travel.

I came across a couple of lists for offbeat and weird museum that I've combined into one list of 12 offbeat museums, presented here in no particular order. I checked and all of these have valid websites.

Tenement Museum

Located in the heart of New York City's Lower East Side, the Tenement Museum pays homage to New York's immigrants. It traces the history of a single tenement building constructed in 1863 and located at 97 Orchard Street. From the outside it doesn't look any different from any other building in the area, but inside is the story of the waves of immigrants arriving in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. The building was condemned in 1935, which is where the museum's focus ends.

National Museum of Funeral History

This Houston, Texas, museum was founded in 1992 and claims that "any day above ground is a good one." The museum's mission is to preserve the heritage of the funeral industry. They offer exhibits such as a full-scale replica of Pope John Paul II's crypt, a 1900s casket factory, and a Civil War embalming diorama.

Leila's Hair Museum

This Independence, Missouri, museum is dedicated to…you guessed it…hair. According to the museum, in Victorian times it was popular to make wreaths, jewelry and other ornamentations out of human hair and Leila's Hair Museum keeps the tradition alive. Visitors can see many wreaths and over 2000 pieces of jewelry containing or made of human hair that dates back before 1900.

Mutter Museum

This Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, museum is probably the best known of those on this list. I've seen it in show segments in the Mysteries At The Museum series on the Travel Channel. It's a museum of medical oddities and specimens such as Grover Cleveland's tumor, a conjoined liver from Siamese twins, a slide of a murderer's brain, a woman who turned to wax after death.

SPAM Museum

And I'm not talking about unwanted email. This Austin, Minnesota, museum is dedicated to SPAM, often heralded as America's favorite canned meat. The Hormel company created SPAM in 1937. Museum visitors can practice canning SPAM and brush up on SPAM trivia including its role in World War II.

The Museum Of Bad Art

Good art can be found anywhere, but bad art? That's a whole different thing. This museum, founded in 1993, has three Massachusetts locations—Dedham, Somerville, and Brookline and is "dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition, and celebration of bad art in all its forms and in all its glory."

Devil's Rope Museum

This McLean, Texas, museum was founded in 1991 and is the largest barbed wire museum in the world. Appropriately nicknamed devil's rope, the barbed wire museum gives the history of barbed wire, shows artifacts, the significance of the invention, and the impact on the development of the Old West.

The National Museum of Crime and Punishment

Located in Washington D.C. and opened in 2008, the museum contains artifacts and interactive exhibits including an FBI shooting range, high speed police chase simulator, and various forensics techniques. There are also historical exhibits, forensics workshops, and CSI summer camps for teens.

There are several museums dedicated to this topic. Our fascination with crime and forensics is obvious. Just check out the number of television shows—both entertainment programs and documentaries—that deal with solving crime using forensics, all the cold cases that have been solved, and wrongly convicted people released from prison since DNA testing became part of our reality.

Spark Museum Of Electrical Invention

Located in Bellingham, Washington, the museum has been around in various stages since 1985 and moved to its current home in 2001. You'll find lots of gadgets and complicated objects that look like they came out of a steam punk scenario but in reality changed the course of history and modern life, items paying tribute to Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Enrico Marconi and Nikola Tesla.

Their website currently shows the museum as temporarily closed.

The Neon Museum

Located in Las Vegas, Nevada, the museum houses the neon signs no longer being used by casinos, chapels, restaurants, and other businesses. Vegas' iconic art used to be sent to the scrap yard. In 1996, the non-profit Neon Museum began preserving the city's legacy in a three acre lot referred to as Neon Boneyard. The museum has assembled an outdoor gallery along the east end of Fremont Street and is available free to the public 24 hours a day.

American Visionary Art Museum

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, this innovative museum houses such oddities as an enormous ball made out of more than 18,000 bras, a replica of the ill-fated Lusitania constructed of nearly 200,000 toothpicks, a floor mat created out of hundreds of toothbrushes, an extensive Pez collection, and sculptures made from Styrofoam cups. In the spring the museum hosts the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race where entrants create wacky sculptures that travel on both land and sea.

The International UFO Museum And Research Center

Located in Roswell, New Mexico (where else?), it is the result of the famous (or infamous) UFO crash in Roswell in 1947. At first identified as a UFO by the Air Force, they quickly recanted and declared it a downed weather balloon thus beginning decades of cover-up accusations. The furor finally died down until 1978 when a UFO researcher started interviewing locals who claimed to have seen the debris and said it was part of an extraterrestrial craft. From that, the stories expanded and Roswell became the world's most famous UFO crash.

Have you come across any odd or unusual museums in your travels?

Saturday, January 9, 2021

10 Little Known Wars

For every major war that fills our history books and newspapers—the Revolutionary War of the American colonists vs. England, American Civil War with the North vs. the South, World War I, World War II, what were termed police actions such as Korea and Viet Nam (war by any other name), and the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991, a United Nations action) leading up to the current armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan—there are dozens of small wars that don't receive any attention in history class.  Some of them were ludicrous and others were very serious.

Here's a list of 10 wars (in no particular order) that you probably never heard about.

1)  The Pig War

This little known conflict dates back to 1859 and had the potential to change the course of American history.  And it all started over a pig.  Both America and Britain claimed possession of and resided on San Juan Island off the coast of Washington state.  The two countries maintained an uneasy truce…until an American farmer shot a British pig he discovered tearing up his potato patch.  This action resulted in the British trying to arrest the farmer who called in the American troops in support of his position.  The two countries squared off on the tiny island.  The British Navy sent 3 warships and over 2,000 men.  The Americans responded with military force of their own.  No shots were fired (beyond the original shot that killed the pig).  San Juan Island was eventually ceded to the Americans as part of the San Juan Islands group.

2)  The Stray Dog War

And speaking of animals being the source of an international conflict, that's also the case with the long-running rivalry between Bulgaria and Greece.  In 1925 a Greek soldier chased his runaway dog across the border and was shot dead by a Bulgarian border guard.  That action set off an immediate retaliation with the Greek army invading the border region of Petrich and routing the Bulgarian army.  The League of Nations ordered Greece to withdraw and pay Bulgaria about $90,000 in damages.

3)  The War Of Jenkins' Ear

There are lots of reasons why wars start, but there's only one known to have started because of a severed ear.  British sea captain Robert Jenkins' boat was boarded by the Spanish in the Caribbean.  The Spanish accused him of piracy and cut off his left ear.  In 1738, Jenkins brought the ear to Parliament and it was enough for Great Britain to declare war on Spain.  After 7 years of conflict, both countries backed off with no major territory changes on either side.

4)  The Moldovan-Transdniestrian War

The breakup of the Soviet Union left several countries looking for something to do and in some cases that something ended up being war.  Moldova had a partisan faction wanting to stay allied with Romania and another wanting to align with Russia.  Nearly a thousand people were killed before hostilities ceased.  The unusual part of the war was the relationship between the soldiers of the opposing sides.  After battling each other during the day, they would socialize in the bars in the disputed zone at night, often apologizing to each other for the events of the day.

5)  The Honey War

In the early days of the United States when the federal government wasn't as strong as it is now, the individual states often became involved in ridiculous squabbles with each other that sometimes escalated into violence.  In 1839, the governor of Missouri decided to redraw his state's border with Iowa because…well, apparently because he felt like it that morning.  And then he sent in his tax collectors to pick up some extra cash from its new citizens.  Needless to say, this didn't go over very well.  The only thing the tax collectors were able to collect consisted of 3 beehives full of honey.  The Missouri militia got into an armed conflict with Iowa citizens who captured a sheriff.  Congress finally drew a permanent border line and told both states to chill out.

6)  Anglo-Zanzibar War

This conflict lasted an awesome 38 minutes making it the world record holder for the shortest war in history.  Khalid vin Bargash, the new Sultan of Zanzibar, came into power in 1896.  He didn't like having his protectorate as a British puppet so he declared war and barricaded himself in the palace.  Less than an hour later, the British had shelled him, removed him from power and installed a new Sultan in his place.

7)  The Football War

This four day war between Honduras and El Salvador was about more than a soccer game.  Hundreds of thousands Salvadorans had been moving to Honduras to find work.  By the late 1970s, tensions between the two countries had reached the breaking point.  The spark that set off the war was the FIFA World Cup qualifying matches between the two countries.  After each had won one game, the Salvadoran Air Force (passenger planes with bombs strapped to them) attacked Honduran targets.  Neither nation could support an extended war, so a cease-fire was negotiated.  They remained bitter enemies for more than a decade.

8)  The Watermelon War

Yet another war that started over a trivial matter and quickly escalated out of control.  The United States occupation of Panama to build the canal displaced much of the nation's white-collar workforce, leaving a great many natives unemployed.  A boat carrying 1,000 American workers landed in Panama City making the matter even worse.  One of those passengers, an American named Jack Oliver, took a piece of watermelon from a Panamanian vendor and refused to pay for it.  The vendor pulled a knife.  Oliver pulled a gun.  And both sides were battling it out with each sustaining casualties.  Eventually a railroad car of riflemen arrived on the scene and brokered a peace.  The brief war, however, laid the groundwork for the later American occupation of Panama.

9)  The Emu War

Unlike earlier mentioned wars started because of animals, this one was a war against animals.  In 1932, Australia found itself overrun by emus, a large flightless bird that looks like an ostrich.  More than 20,000 emus were destroying crops so the government declared all out war on the birds.  They sent soldiers armed with machine guns and orders to shoot emus on sight.  The birds proved to be tougher than estimated and after a week the commanding officer gave up.  They had killed barely 10 percent of their target.

10)  The Chaco War

This was a South American conflict that started over a postage stamp.  The Chaco region is on the border between Bolivia and Paraguay with both countries believing the region was rich in oil (which it wasn't).  Bolivia issued a postage stamp in 1932 featuring a map of their country including the Chaco region.  Not to be outdone, Paraguay struck back by issuing their own stamp with their map including the Chaco region.  Hostilities erupted in the region with both sides buying arms from the U.S. and from Europe.  When it was over, Paraguay was the winner and new owner of a completely useless piece of land.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

9 All Time Unsolved Mysteries

Welcome to 2021. Here's looking at a much better year than 2020 was.

A while back I saw a list titled 9 All Time Unsolved Mysteries.  The items listed…well, some were a surprise that they made an All Time list and I was curious about some that were left off the list.  This list consisted only of places and things with no mention of specific people.  I guess that explains why the mystery of Jack The Ripper's identity (actually, he was identified by a DNA match a few years ago), what happened to Amelia Earhart, and exactly who took that axe and gave Lizzie Borden's parents all those whacks didn't make the list.

Two of the items on the list were new to me—the Chase Vault and the Taos Hum.  I've been to Taos…didn't hear about this mystery and didn't hear the hum.

 So, confusion in hand about what made the list and what didn't, I present—in no particular order—9 All Time Unsolved Mysteries.

9)  ATLANTIS—location unknown

Myth or reality?  The lost continent from ancient times [rather than the current Caribbean resort :) ] is one of the world's favorite legends.  Most of what we know about Atlantis comes from the Greek philosopher Plato who wrote about it approximately 2000 years ago although the story of the ancient civilization places its time at 9000 years prior to that.  He described Atlantis as a huge island where brave and virtuous people…a highly advanced civilization…lived in a kind of paradise.  He placed its location west of the Pillars of Hercules, known today as the Straits of Gibraltar.  The story claims that the physical disappearance of the actual island came as a result of a massive earthquake or volcanic eruption that caused it to sink into the ocean.  To this day debate continues about whether Atlantis was real or myth and people continue to literally search all over the world for the remains of the lost continent with several diverse and wide spread locations declared to be Atlantis.


Discovered in October 1900 in a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera, this machine contains the oldest known complex gear mechanism…sometimes referred to as the world's first analog computer.  It's estimated to have been made in the first century B.C. and appears to have been constructed on theories of astronomy and mathematics.  The device is believed to be made from a bronze alloy of 95% copper and 5% tin, but its advanced state of corrosion from having been in the ocean for almost 2000 years has made it impossible to perform an accurate analysis.  It's precise functions have not been scientifically confirmed.

7)  THE CHASE VAULT—Barbados

This mystery begins in 1808 in Barbados when the wealthy Chase family purchased an 80 year old vault to inter their dead relatives.  At the time they acquired the used vault, it contained only one occupant—Thomasina Goddard.  Col. Thomas Chase made the decision not to disturb Goddard, so she was not moved to another vault.  Shortly after that, young Mary-Anne Maria's body was added to the vault.  Then 4 years after that, the vault was opened to inter her sister's body.  Only a month after that, Col. Thomas himself passed away.  And that's when the legend takes hold.  Coffins had moved, some were standing on end.  Vandals were blamed.  Everything was returned to its original position and the vault once again closed and sealed.  From then on, every time the vault was opened to admit another coffin, the vault's contents would be in disarray, including Col. Thomas' heavy casket which took 8 men to lift.  No seals had been broken, no evidence of illegal entry into the vault, no evidence inside the vault of anyone being there as the sandy floor was undisturbed with no signs of flooding or earthquake.  The Chase family bodies were eventually moved to other burial sites in the cemetery and all incidents stopped.


The Nazca Lines were discovered by accident when a small airplane flew over the arid Peruvian coastal plains in 1927.  More lines were discovered nearby at the end of the 1980s.  The lines depict animals and geometric forms, many of them several kilometers in length with some of them only recognizable from an airplane.  The most outstanding shapes depict the figures of a spider, monkey, dog, small lizard, hummingbird, condor, and what appears to be an astronaut.  The lines were scratched into the desert between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D.  They are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions.  Others believe they were meant as sign posts for ancient extraterrestrials.  UNESCO named the Nazca Lines an Archaeological World Heritage Site in 1994.

5)  EASTER ISLAND—Chile (South Pacific)

Roughly 64 square miles in area and located in the South Pacific approximately 2,300 miles from Chile, Easter Island was named by Dutch explorers in honor of the day they discovered it in 1722.  It was annexed by Chile in the late 19th century.  The mystery of Easter Island centers around the almost 900 giant stone figures that are centuries old and are distinctive from other stone sculptures found in various Polynesian cultures.  The purpose of the statues, how they were constructed and transported is still a matter of speculation.  Today, Easter Island's economy is based on tourism.


June 30, 1908, a mighty explosion occurred in this remote area of Siberia.  It was 1927 before a scientific expedition investigated the site.  They found 800 square miles of remote forest ripped apart, 80 million trees on their sides in a radial pattern.  They acted as markers pointing directly away from the blast's epicenter.  When the members of the expedition arrived at ground zero, they found the trees standing upright but all the limbs and bark had been stripped away, resembling a forest of telephone poles.  This phenomenon was seen again 37 years later at another massive explosion in Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II.  More than a century after the Tunguska Explosion there is still debate over the cause, but the generally agreed upon theory is that a space rock approximately 120 feet across entered the atmosphere above Siberia at about 33,500 miles per hour, heated the surrounding air to 44,500 degrees Fahrenheit and self-exploded at an altitude of about 28,000 feet producing a fireball and releasing energy equivalent to 185 Hiroshima atomic bombs.  The majority of the asteroid was consumed by the explosion so there was no impact crater.

3)  PIRI REIS MAP—circa 1513

The Piri Reis Map is often cited as proof that civilization on Earth was once very advanced then for unknown reasons disappeared with man only now gaining any understanding of this mysterious cultural decline.  In addition to the map's historical interest, it contains details that no European could have known in the early 1500s.  The Sumerians in Mesopotamia are the earliest known civilization and appeared on the scene apparently from out of nowhere around 4000 B.C. but had no nautical or maritime cultural heritage.  Piri Reis' own commentary indicates some of his source maps in creating his map were from the time of Alexander The Great (332 B.C.).  The map shows that the makers knew the accurate circumference of the Earth to within 50 miles.  The depicted coastline and island shown in Antarctica are as they were prior to 4000 B.C. when they were ice free.  Debate continues with no clear answers of how Piri Reis could have created such an accurate map at that time.

2)  TAOS HUM—New Mexico

The Taos Hum is a low-pitched mechanical buzzing sound often heard in Taos, New Mexico.  Not everyone can hear it, but those who do say it's driving them crazy.  Apparently it begins suddenly as if someone had turned on a switch, never abates, interferes with their sleep, and is more noticeable inside the house than outside.  In 1993 residents requested that Congress carry out an investigation into the source of the hum, but no specific causes were uncovered.  In 1997, Congress asked various scientists from several elite research institutes to look into it.  So far, no concrete facts have been uncovered to prove exactly what is causing the hum or what it is that allows some people to hear it and others to not hear it.  I've been to Taos and did not hear any hum/mechanical buzzing sound.


There is intense debate among scientists, theologians, historians, and researchers about the origins of the shroud and its image.  The shroud is housed in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.  It is a linen cloth showing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma of the type consistent with crucifixion.  This image is commonly associated with Jesus Christ, his crucifixion and burial.  In 1988 a multi-national scientific group did a radiocarbon dating test on small samples of the shroud and concluded that the samples they tested dated from the Middle Ages, between 1260 A.D. and 1390 A.D.  Since 2005, at least four articles have appeared in scholarly publications stating the cloth samples used were not representative of the whole shroud.  To this day, the shroud continues to be a much studied and controversial artifact.

Are there any unsolved mysteries of place or thing that you think should have been on this list?