The Alexander Family

The Alexander Family

     by Waldo Historia

     February 18, 2008

    (orig. publishing date)

The Alexander family of Macedonia was made up of very diverse personalities.  See, diversity isn’t such a new thing.  We all know the exploits of Alexander the Great.  How he conquered the known world of his time while still in his twenties; and other boring stuff like that.  Did you know some of the other members of his family tree?  I didn’t think so.

There’s Alexander the Puny.  He accomplished absolutely nothing during his lifetime.  He’s not even mentioned by historians. If I hadn’t just told you about him, you would never had known that he existed.

A more down-to-earth and interesting story concerns a distant relative of Alex the Great.  He was a third cousin …. or, maybe a fourth cousin.  They were born only a few days apart. Historians scorned his extraordinary accomplishments.  They gave him the nickname of Alexander the Mediocre.  This story is about him. 

Alex the Great was constantly nagged by both sides of his family to hire on Alex the Med, and find some useful duties he could perform to bolster his flagging self-esteem.  (He was once a flagman on road construction for a short time.)  The “Big A” finally relented and hired  his woeful cousin to do road maintenance. He was given several duties during the campaigns.  His primary job was to keep the mountain trails from becoming too slippery for travel, by shoveling the elephant dung over the cliffs.  That’s not the main reason for his history-making achievements; but a real close second.

Alexander the Great made many treks through mountains, deserts, swamps, and occasionally, a real nice town.  They would be roadies for several months to a year or more, at a time.  Since portable timepieces hadn’t been invented yet, the only way of telling the length of their journey was by counting the seasons.  Alex the Great was a perfectionist.  He thought, “There must be a means of  more accurate measurements of time-lapse”. He bestowed that responsibility onto his wretched cousin, Alexander the Mediocre.

So, the Med analyzed the options.  Toting a calendar would be a nuisance.  Even a pocket one was a bother.  With spearholes and bloodstains, they were hard to read after a couple of battles.  If dropped to the ground, mud and elephant footprints made them impossible to read by the trip’s end.  No, there had to be a better and more reliable way to tell time.

 In their travels, the Med had observed with acute accuracy, (at least it wasn’t ugly), the relationship between the time of the journey, and the condition of the soldiers’ clothing. By noting the degree of their weathered garbs, he deduced the time of absence to within several weeks.

He perfected his observation technique.  Using different types of material, he had the men wrap strips of cloth around their wrists.  By observing their discoloration and weathered state, he was able to decipher the time on the road to within days.

 This became the most popular way of telling time for many centuries, until the invention of clocks, watches and egg-timers.  This method isn’t used much anymore, except in the most primitive places on earth.  Like Cleveland.  But where it is, it is still affectionately known as Alexander’s ragtime band.

 © 2008  by  James M. Britvich    All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

Boston Tea Party

Boston Tea Party

     by Waldo Historia

     October 01, 2007

    (orig. publishing date)

In the mid-1700s, King George III and his pals back in England, saw the colonists in America as a cash cow.   They heaped lots of taxes on the colonists.  Most were on tools, clothing and anything else shipped in from China; which was almost everything in retail stores including tea.

King George exempted the East Indian Company from all taxes and duties, included tea, because it was ready to go into Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It could now sell it’s tea cheaper than what the colonists could. This didn’t sit well with the Americans.  They wouldn’t stand for it either.

Since the Stamp Act of 1765, the Americans were getting more disgruntled with paying taxes without proper representation in Parliament.  Kinda like what we  have in Congress now.  When news got back to Great Britain, Georgie got all upset with the snibblers.  He told his current courtesan about  their reaction to the tax. 

 “They’re threathing to boycott drinking tea!”

 Marie Antonette Smythe, snobbishly said, “Sooo…. What’s the big deal?…. Let them drink coffee.”

 This getting upset stuff was contagious.  When this got back to the colonists, they were really, really upset.  “Who’s this ‘ho’ telling us to drink coffee.”  While the two sides are engaging in snarling and gnashing of teeth, another group of Americans was quietly looking to take advantage of the situation.

 Indians had already been drinking coffee for years.  These he-men drank out of mugs though; not those dainty teacups, dangling their pinkie in the air. Two problems.  Decaf wasn’t invented yet.  This caused them to be continuously wired-up. Hence, the term ‘like a pack of wild Indians’. This was before they even discovered firewater.   The second problem amused them.  Indians were about the only ones in America drinking coffee.  This small market made the price of coffee and shipping very expensive.    If the snibblers thought a couple of pennies was worth getting upset about,  they should know the cost of buying and shipping coffee from Brazil.  Some of the local Indians thought that by creating a bigger demand for coffee, a big drop in price would ensue.  Some of the more enterprising Mohawk bucks had a meeting with the Chief.  One suggested opening up a franchise of coffee shops.  “We call them ‘Moonbucks'”.  Chief thought that a catchy name.  He preferred ‘Starchiefs’…. but it was their idea.  “That’ll take many moons to set up, though. Any other ideas?” 

 The Medicine Man came up with a brilliant plan.  “Three ships due to unload whole bunch of tea this week.  Since local whitemen and redcoats don’t get along, we get the two sides fuming even more.  We dress up as colonists; board ships and dump all tea in bay.”  Everyone liked that idea.  “Can’t rent costumes here in Boston though”, said the Chief.  “Have to  go upstate.” They found a small trading post ten miles up the road.  Being real close to Christmas, the store had several racks of fancy party duds. “Where you get all these from?”  One of the bucks casually looked at labels of wigs, jackets and shoes.  ‘Made in China’.  ‘What they make next?,’ asked the buck, sarcastically to the owner, bow and arrows?   Tepees with lead-painted abstracts on them?”  Store owner said, “Soon, real soon; check with me next month.”

 Chief said we need 150 of these.  “You got those fancy white socks? Oh, oh, we want those white curlicue wigs, too.  Make you look old and distinguished.”  They were some really happy campers, traveling back to Boston.  Some of the sillier bucks were waking up the neighbors whooping it up with their drums while wearing their feather bands on backwards.

 On Thursday night, December 16, 1773, some 150 Mohawks were fully decked out in their fancy coats, white knee-high socks and those spiffy wigs. They boarded the three ships in port and dumped almost 350 crates of tea into the bay.  Not without some hitches though. Mohawk-style hairdos aren’t very wig-friendly.  Quite a few got knocked off while throwing the crates overboard.  After all the tea was in the bay, some of the Indians had to swim around the ships to pick up the wigs.  The wigs and all their clothes were  brown and green with tea-stains.  Chief said, “Post owner going to be plennnnty mad.  Will have to do some sweet-talking to get our deposit back.  We’ll need that deposit for our next business project.”

 The next day, Indian village squaws tried to get the tea stains out of the clothes by pounding them with rocks down by the river.  All they succeeded in doing, was busting up some buttons.  Chief says, “Enough. We take ’em back as is.”

* * * *

“We back for deposit,” Chief beamed, acting oblivious to the stains. 

 “What the hell happened here?” (Referring to the stains, of course.) 

 “Thought we’d make you some camouflaged uniforms, for your impending war with the redcoats.  Notice how the brown and green coloring blends in with the forest.  Throw on some twigs and leaves, and the troops will be ready to fight in a minute, as moving trees.  Hey, you can call them minutemen.  Nice catchy phrase.   No extra  charge for that. Start making more of these, and get in on the ground floor in the war-supply business.” 

 “Hey, I like that idea!  The wigs will have to go though.  Maybe some animal pelts can be made into caps like beavers.” 

 “Yeah, yeah.” said Chief.  “One of the British ships was named ‘Beaver’.  Should’ve checked it out for beaver caps.” 

 The post owner was so pleased with the thought of his new business venture, he gave the Indians their full deposit back all 26 dollars worth of beads.

 © 2007  by James M. Britvich    All Rights Reserved