April 30 – A Young U.S. More Than Doubles in Size

Posted on April 30, 2018

The huge chunk of land we call the Louisiana Purchase really "belonged to" the peoples who had lived there for centuries...those we sometimes call Indians or Native Americans...but of course various European powers claimed the 828,000 square miles (2.14 million square kilometers). 

France controlled the Louisiana territory through the first half of the 1700s. The territory was ceded to Spain in 1762, but regained by France in 1800. I guess that European powers kept trading land in the "New World" back and forth, depending on who won the most recent war. 

So, France "owned" the land and hoped to establish an empire in North America. But the late 1700s and early 1800s were a time of the Americas breaking free of Europe, becoming independent. And France was about to go to war with Britain (again!). And France needed money more than they needed all that land.

So Napoleon, First Consul of the French Republic, sold all that land to the new nation of the United States. Thomas Jefferson was then the president. 

The purchase agreement was signed on this date in 1803.

The land was eventually divvied up among the following states: Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Louisiana. 

It was a good deal - the U.S. only had to pay about three cents per acre. The land is now worth about 100,000 times that amount!!!

April 29 - Happy Birthday, Mary Petty

Posted on April 29, 2018

Satirical cartoons poking fun at the richest New York City families...

AND...affectionate cartoons about one particular - but fictional - NYC family.

The Peabody's maid, Fay,
was featured in many of
Petty's cartoons.
Mary Petty somehow managed to draw cartoons that were affectionate and satirical, at the same time. She gave the name Peabody to the fictional family she portrayed many times.

Born in New York City on this date in 1899, Mary Petty didn't study art, but instead taught herself to draw. Her parents were a law professor and a school teacher. 

Petty met Alan Dunn, a New Yorker magazine cartoonist, in 1925, and he encouraged her to submit her drawings to the magazine. Around the same time as her first illustration was published, Petty and Dunn were married. I'm not sure how Dunn's career went, but Petty created illustrations and cartoons to the New Yorker for 39 years - 273 illustrations and 38 covers! So...wow!

Pretty good for an untrained artist, eh?

Apparently Petty was a bit of an enigma to even the other people at the New Yorker. For years nobody even saw her - even though she was regularly submitting illustrations - and even when she did begin to go into the offices, she still didn't get to know others much. 

I guess she let her artwork speak for her.

Also on this date:

April 28 - National Sense of Smell Day

(Last Saturday of April)
Posted on April 28, 2018

Like other animals, we have senses for a few reasons:

To see, hear, or smell danger! That's a biggie.

To see, hear, or smell a potential meal. As in food, fruit, roots, shoots, or perhaps prey to hunt. We modern humans often look for things like carne asada tacos, chicken teriyaki, or In 'n' Out burgers rather than roots or shoots.

To see, hear, or smell a potential mate. We humans often call "a potential mate" something like "my crush," "my girlfriend," "a hot guy in my science class," or a million other variations of "hey, I'm interested."

We humans love to smell things! Like cookies warm out of the oven, freshly cut grass, star jasmine flowers, and cinnamon bread....

But we also hate to smell things. Bad, stinky, disgusting, awful smells, I mean. Like a pile of manure, or rotting fruit, or a camel's breath. Yitch!

Luckily - and unluckily - for us, our noses aren't nearly as sensitive as many other animals' noses. There's a reason we use bloodhounds to help us find missing people - dogs' noses are, on average, from 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours!

So, that's like comparing us being able to smell a rotten apple in a small, nearby bag of apples to a dog being able to smell a single rotten apple among two million barrels of apples!!!

Here are a few real-world examples of dogs' amazing senses of smell:

A drug sniffing dog was able to detect drugs in a plastic container in the middle of gas tank full of gasoline!!

A dog is able to smell orca poop a mile away in the waters near Seattle, Washington.

A dog trained to smell cancer once smelled cancer cells in a patient that the doctors insisted was cancer free. The doctors respected the cancer-sniffing dog so much, they went ahead and operated - and discovered that the dog was right!

So - we humans are practically blind (smell-wise) compared with dogs. But we can still enjoy and use our sense of smell on this special day! What are your favorite smells?