On this day in 1642, King Charles the first, along with 400 soldiers attacked the English parliament. It was an unfair fight. The soldiers used their weapons; bows and arrows, swords and battle axes. The parliamentarians used their weapons; jeers, catcalls, procedural votes and general desk thumping. They were slaughtered.

   On this day in 1725, one of America’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, arrived in London. Of course, he wasn’t a founding father at that point. America was just a twinkle in his eyes.

   On this day in 1847, Samuel Colt sold his first revolver pistol to the United States government. He walked into the office of the Attorney General who said to Samuel, “Is that your new revolver in your pocket or are you just happy to see my cash?”

   On this day in 1863, four-wheeled roller skates were patented in New York by James Plimpton. Plimpton was a dreamer. He envisioned a day when Americans would find pleasure at a roller rink, dozens of people holding hands, skating in circles ever fast and faster and then cracking the whip and shooting some poor fool at high speed into the boards and breaking various limbs. Thanks you James Plimpton.

   On this day in 1884, the last sighting of an Eastern Cougar was noted in Ontario, Canada. After that, Eastern Cougars were never seen again for a hundred years later, until one was spotted sitting on a bar stool at the Drake Hotel.

   On this day in 1887, Thomas Stevens became the first man to bicycle around the world. When they asked him what the toughest part was, he said, “The China Sea was a little rough during the cyclone, but I just kept on pedaling.”

   On this day in 1904, the Stanley Cup hockey championship was won. The Ottawa Silver Seven beat the Winnipeg Rowing Club 2 games to 1. The Winnipeg Rowing Club team lost the game because they were a bit awkward shooting the puck with their oars.

   On this day in 1925, French psychologist Emil Coué brought his self-esteem therapy to the United States. Coué’s philosophy is summed up with the phrase “Every day in every way I am getting better & better…and doggone it, people like me!” Okay, that’s not totally correct. Minnesota Senator Al Franken made up the last part.

   If your birthday is January the 4th, you share it with Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm. You remember him; he and his brother wrote those cute kiddies’ fairy tales about children being eaten alive by monsters.


   On this day in 1407, bloody battles broke out between Hoeksen and Kabeljauwen in Dordrecht. I realize this is not something you will be discussing on your coffee break today but I thought I’d throw it in for that small handful of students working on their masters degrees in Dordrecht History.

   On this day in 1496, Leonardo da Vinci unsuccessfully tested a flying machine. Had he ‘successfully’ tested a flying machine in 1496, history would have been drastically different. Christopher Columbus might have headed across the ocean in the Nina, the Pinta and the 747.

   On this day in 1780, the Danish national anthem “Kong Kristian…,” was sung for the first time. Of course, being the first time it was sung, meant that people didn’t know all the words…well, much like singing national anthems today isn’t it?

   On this day in 1847, the California town of Yerba Buena was renamed…ten points here…anyone? That’s right! They renamed Yerba Buena, San Francisco, and a good thing it was. I just can’t picture myself singing “Rice-aroni, the Yerba Buena treat!”

   On this day in 1870, construction began on the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge. It took thirteen years to build, so on May 24th, 1883; they cut the ribbon and said, “Okay, so what do we use this thing for?

   On this day in 1899, the first known use of the word ‘automobile’ was seen in an editorial in The New York Times, and somebody shouted, “Okay! Now I know what we can use that bridge for.”

   On this day in 1925, Benito Mussolini dissolved the Italian parliament and became dictator. Too bad they didn’t have one of those back to the future machines, like from the movie, back in 1925. Then Benito might have travelled to the future, seen himself hanging upside down outside a gas station and said, “You know what? Maybe you should just keep that parliament.”

   On this day in 1977, Apple Computers was incorporated…or should that read Apple Computers was iCorporated?

   If your birthday is January 3rd, you share it with actor/director Mel Gibson who was born on this day in 1956. Mel made some big movies by keeping his star status intact. These days he could make some big improvements by keeping his mouth shut.

   On this day in 1570, Russia’s Czar, Ivan, began what is known as the Ivan the Terrible March to Novgorod. You may be asking how does an army do a ‘terrible march’? I don’t know, but if you’ve ever seen video on the TV news of the Iraqi army doing drills, that would be something like marching terribly. The Iraqi Army whose motto is “We all march to a different drummer.”

   On this day in 1832, the first curling club in the U.S. opened in Orchard Lake. And with that, they created the first expression that can be used both in sexual relations and in a sport; “Hurry hard!”

   On this day in 1890, a man in Louisiana named E.A.McIlhenny shot an alligator that was 19 feet, 2 inches long. That’s a lot of alligator! That’s a lot of shoes!

   On this day in 1929, World War One flying ace Wop May took off from Edmonton, Alberta with fellow bush pilot Vic Horner to deliver diphtheria vaccine to Fort Vermilion, Alberta, which was 1600 kilometres north. Doing that on January 2nd was heroic enough, but here’s the best part; the two pilots made the trip in an open aircraft using oil burners to keep the vaccine from freezing. An open aircraft! A crowd of ten thousand people greeted them when they returned. They were mobbed, but not for too long. I’m sure they were pretty desperate for a hot shower.

   On this day in 1983, Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark resigned as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. First he had lost an election after only being prime minister for 9 months and then, to cap off that major blunder, he had gone into the leadership vote saying he would quit if he didn’t get 70% of the votes. He got 60%. I’ll say it again; he only got 60% of the vote! If a political leader these days got 60%, they’d be the most popular leader in the free world. Does that make Joe Clark a hiccup of history? No, I think maybe a stifled burp would be better.

   On this day in 1979, rock singer Sid Vicious went on trial for murdering his girlfriend. Honestly, did any of you think that relationship would end well?

   If your birthday is January 2nd, you share it with country singer Roger Miller who was born on this day in 1936. Roger had a few big hits, but I like him for writing one of the most outstanding lyric lines in pop music history; “Chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug! Makes me wanna holler Hidey Ho!” Thank you Roger.

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