Whims and notions

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– The artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch painter who sold only one painting during his lifetime. That vended work entitled “Red Vineyard at Arles” now hangs in the Pushkin Museum (Moscow). Van Gogh’s art has become famous and extremely valuable since his death at age 37. More than 900 of his oils on canvas and some 1100 drawings on paper still exist. One painting, “Portrait of Dr. Gatchet,” was purchased in 1990 for $82,500,000. I am informed that would be over $151,000,000 in today’s dollars. Honestly, the increase puts the piece beyond the scope of my budget set aside for “whims and notions.”

– Shortly before being hanged by the British military, super patriot Nathan Hale allegedly said “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” The uttering of those words was a wide-spread rumor amongst his fellow revolutionaries. Contemporaries familiar with Mr. Hale verified that the inspirational statement would have been consistent with his character. Adding some credence to the claim is that acquaintances of Hale claimed it was well known that one of his favorite literary works was Joseph Addison’s Cato which contains the line “What a pity is it, that we can die but once to serve our country.”

– Tadpoles typically turn into frogs and toads. One interesting fact about these immature amphibians is that in as little as 4 weeks, newly hatched tadpoles can grow sets of tiny teeth which greatly aid in converting foodstuffs into mushy digestible oxygenated particles. Now you know.

– Sailors of old often quoted a proverb “Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.” This caveat was somewhat based on scientific information, especially relevant to the Northern Hemisphere. It was explained to me that a high pressure system on the morning eastern horizon reflects longer wavelengths of light while allowing the shorter red light wavelengths to pass through unhindered. Since weather systems in those regions usually move west to east, a very low pressure front is indicated to be moving towards the points of observation. Low atmospheric pressure is generally an accurate signal that storms, even hurricanes, are approaching. Experienced sailors knew the red morning sky was a warning to head for safe harbors, if possible.

– One very interesting baseball player was Julio Franco. Mr. Franco was 47 years old when he hit his last major league homerun while playing for the NY Mets against the Padres in San Diego (2007). Also playing for the Mets against the Padres, Bartolo Colón hit his first major league dinger at age 42 (in 2016). Well, watch out for red skies – and have a great week.

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