Survives Titanic But Is On Another Ship Disaster plus Titanic VR Coming Soon

RMS Empress of Ireland 1908
Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)

1. First Titanic, then Empress: an Irish Man’s Lucky Escapes
There are those that survive not one but two major disasters in their lifetime. Such is the case with William Clark of Greenore, County Louth, Ireland. He was reportedly in the Boer War. In 1912 he signed on as a fireman on Titanic and listed Southampton as his home. He was one of the few fireman to survive Titanic and was in lifeboat 15.

How he escaped he does not know. He was caught in the swirl of waters as the vessel plunged down – dragged down into the ocean depths with the crippled leviathan as she sank to her last resting place. Even then his abnormal luck did not desert him. He never thought to come up again, but the force of the boiler explosion lifted him and rushed him up to the surface. He struck out vigorously; was pulled aboard one of the boats, and came home to tell the tale.

Then in 1914 he was a fireman on Empress of Ireland when tragedy would strike there as well. On 29 May 1914, the ship collided with the Norwegian coal freighter Storstad in the Saint Louis River at Pointe-au-Père, Quebec. Unlike Titanic which took over two hours to sink, Empress of Ireland would sink quickly resulting in over 1,000 deaths. Clark escaped but his description shows how harrowing it was:

His lifeboat station was No. 5, and somehow or other he got there, but he cannot remember how she was launched. His mind is a blank concerning some of those awful moments spent on the canting decks of the doomed liner. They had to crawl on hands and knees on the sloping hull in order to get the boat clear, and then their best chance of escape was to plunge into the water in the hope of being able to scramble aboard. Clark was drawn under several times before he got into the boat, and afterwards, he said, they were able to pull about sixty men into her.

Clark would remark later that if there was any luck in the sea, he had it all. He surely did to survive two major ship disasters and live to tell the tale.
Sources:
1. First Titanic, then Empress: an Irish Man’s Lucky Escapes (Irish Times,27 Nov 18)
2. WILLIAM CLARK : FLIRTING WITH DEATH(Encyclopedia Titanica)

2.Irish firm’s virtual reality Titanic trip to launch on PlayStation (Irish Times, 15 Nov 2018)
Irish firm VR Education’s virtual reality trip on the Titanic is set for launch on Sony’s PlayStation later this month. Titanic VR puts players aboard the doomed vessel the night it hit an iceberg and sank in April 1912. It will be available from November 22nd. The Titanic experience has already been launched on PC, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality. But the company said it expects the PlayStation VR version to drive sales, replicating the experience of its Apollo 11 VR showcase.

Here They Come! Black Friday (US)

Black Friday Shopping Photo: Public Domain
Black Friday Shopping
Photo: Public Domain

Today is called Black Friday or as it used to be known, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is not an official public holiday though many government employees and a select number of private companies do take the day off. Schools are generally out as well so a lot of kids from grade school to college have the day off. The day after Thanksgiving has been a major retail event for decades. And the term “Black Friday” likely came from such overwhelming numbers of people and vehicles filling the streets, sidewalks, and malls on this particular day.

Until fairly recently most retail stores were closed on Thanksgiving Day. Only a limited number of stores, often grocery and 24 hour restaurant or retail operations, would be open. Usually stores would open around 6:00am the next day but a few years ago some big retailers like Target started opening up at first late at night but now open at 6 pm. It has not been without controversy as workers get a limited Thanksgiving with their families. Most retailers if they are wise will pay extra for the inconvenience but they are not required to. Federal law does not mandate extra pay if you work on a holiday or on weekends. Overtime pay for most non-exempt (meaning hourly workers)is only legally required once you exceed 40 hours,

The sheer masses of people trying to get into stores or malls creates hazardous situations. People being stomped on or worse have occurred. Criminals like to take advantage of the situation to rob shoppers, stores, or break into cars. It bears remembering that if you leave anything visible in the car such as backpacks, bags, GPS devices and mobile phones that it may trigger a smash and grab. This has become quite an problem in San Francisco when tourists leave such gadgets plainly visible in their car.

Black Friday is often used to measure consumer spending for the upcoming Christmas season. Merchants use the data from the sales made to forecast what the projected seasonal earnings will be. If modest or low, it tells them the rest of the season will be lackluster unless they step up their marketing. If sales are booming, then retailers are looking forward to a prosperous Christmas season.

Of course if you want to avoid the whole Black Friday mess and have access to the internet, you can shop from the comfort of your home. Why stand outside a store for hours when you can order the very product you want, often with the same discount, when you can do it at home? That is something likely to get stronger if the present trends hold up which is why there is now a Cyber Monday.


Thanksgiving Day Comedy

For Thanksgiving the comedian has much to choose from. But in the end the perennial favorite is going to be the famous (or infamous) turkey drop from WKRP season 1. Many imitations but the original still has it.

But of course no Thanksgiving would be perfect without those who foolishly decide to deep fry turkey and forget some important things when deep frying turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving

Home To Thanksgiving, Currier & Ives, 1867 Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress, digital id# pga 00780)
Home To Thanksgiving, Currier & Ives, 1867
Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress, digital id# pga 00780)

Thanksgiving was not an official national holiday until 1863. A letter from a 74-year magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, inspired President Abraham Lincoln to create a national holiday. She wrote in 1863 that we needed to have a national day of Thanksgiving so that everyone could celebrate it on the same day. At the time Thanksgiving was celebrated by the various states but not on the same date. She wanted President Lincoln to make it a national day so it would become a permanent part of “American custom and institution.”

According to Abraham Lincoln Online , other presidents had ignored such requests. Lincoln decided to act on her request and directed a proclamation be drawn up. On 3 October 1863, President Lincoln’s proclamation that establishes Thanksgiving as a national day was issued. It sets aside the last Thursday of November as a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Secretary of State William Seward actually drafted the proclamation which Lincoln signed. Thanksgiving became a national holiday and was celebrated on that date until 1939. President Roosevelt in 1939, 1940 and 1941 changed it to the third Thursday (to extend the Christmas season) causing considerable controversy. A joint resolution of Congress in 1941 resolved it by decreeing Thanksgiving would fall on the fourth Thursday of November.

Lincoln’s proclamation was written during the American Civil War, a terrible time in U.S. history. Today we forget why this day was made a national holiday. It was to thank God for the blessings of liberty but also to ask his help. In our politically correct times, this proclamation is not always read in full or edited. So here is the original proclamation. Read it and understand why Lincoln thought a national day of Thanksgiving was needed for the United States of America.


Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day
October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
A. Lincoln

 Victorian Traditions/Shutterstock.com
Victorian Traditions/Shutterstock.com

Titanic News Before The Big Feast

Sorry folks for being down but all is fixed. There has not been a lot of news since the sale was announced. I expect there will be some legal action to try and get it changed but till then we have to wait. So here is your pre-Thanksgiving Titanic news.

Titanic Captain Edward J Smith, 1911
Photo: Public Domain

1. “Titanic historian” Who Resembles Captain Smith Gets Role Playing Him
The BBC relays a news story from Irish News about an Australian man named Michael Booth. He grew up listening to Titanic stories about the ship and, quite naturally, became a Titanic enthusiast. Owing to his resemblance to Captain Smith, he was asked to play the role in a Titanic show.
Source: Titanic’s new captain and spa scrapped (BBC News,13 Nov 18)
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-46191449

2. Titanic Marriage Proposal
If you have not heard about it, a chap decided to pop the question to his girlfriend on the Titanic replica staircase at Titanic Pigeon Forge. Really, just watch it. Enough said.

3. A purported haunted mirror where Titanic captain Edward J Smith appears is up for auction in the UK for £10,000 (about $12,775). According to the story, a servant who worked for the captain took the mirror from his home after his death. And then the ghost of Captain Smith supposedly appeared in the mirror scaring the person who took it and then others as well. Not quite sure why Captain Smith would hang around in a mirror but that is the story. For 10,000 British pounds, it can be yours. The ghost is free.
Source: Haunted mirror ‘possessed by the GHOST of the Titanic captain’ up for sale (The Sun,18 Nov 2018)
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7771542/mirror-possessed-ghost-titanic-captain-for-sale/

Brian Ticehurst, Founding Member British Titanic Society, Passes Away At Age 82

Brian Ticehurst, who was a founding member of the British Titanic Society and did much to expand knowledge of Titanic, passed away recently at age 82. He did a lot to bring information about Titanic survivors, memorials, and the ships crew to light. His deep knowledge of Titanic made him a well known expert who frequently contributed his knowledge through books, articles, and online forums. He even was asked to testify in court trials concerning Titanic memorabilia. It is through him that much about the Titanic’s crew and Southampton were documented. And still are required reading to this day.

His contributions to our knowledge of Titanic will never be forgotten. RIP Brian.

Source: Southampton-based Titanic disaster expert Brian Ticehurst dies aged 82 (Daily Echo, 8 Nov 2018)
https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/17212255.southampton-based-titanic-disaster-expert-brian-ticehurst-dies-aged-82/

Remembering Those Who Served: Veterans Day

When I recently told someone our office would be closed to observe Veterans Day, I got back a blank stare. They had no idea there was such a holiday. Since I work at nonprofit co-located with a federal agency, our office follows the federal holiday schedule. Other workers for offices nearby also reacted the same and some were incredulous that such a holiday existed.

It was never a school holiday as I recall but we all knew what the holiday was about. I think somehow over the years it has fallen by the wayside. Veterans and people who know veterans know of this holiday. Perhaps people just forget there is another holiday after Halloween (not a real holiday but many think it ought to be) and before Thanksgiving.

Veterans Day is a day set aside to thank and honor military personnel who have served in peace and war. The day originally began as Armistice Day to celebrate the end of World War I. It was first officially celebrated on 11 November 1919 and was originally the celebrate veterans who served in that war. In 1954 after many Americans served in both World War II and Korea, veterans organizations petitioned the name be changed from Armistice to Veterans Day to celebrate all who served in the military. Congress approved this change on 1 June 1954 and has been known as Veterans Day since then.

In 1968 as a result of the Uniform Holiday Bill, Veterans Day was shifted to the third Monday in October. Since this law allowed more three day weekends for federal workers (and states that followed the federal holiday calendar) and would allow more people to travel and spend money, this was thought good. The writers of the law never bothered to check and see if people wanted Veterans Day on the third Monday in October. And they were surprised when many states refused to honor the new date and stuck with November 11 for Veterans Day.

The reason is not hard to understand. This patriotic holiday had been celebrated since 1919 and many generations had grown up with with it. In 1975 President Gerald Ford signed into law specifying that Veterans Day would always be celebrated on November 11 no matter what day of the week it falls on. Currently most federal holidays, if they fall on a non-working day (Saturday or Sunday), the nearest working day is the holiday. Meaning if it falls on a Saturday, Friday is a federal holiday. If the holiday falls on a Sunday, the official holiday is Monday. And if it falls into the middle of the week, Monday is when the holiday is observed. Thanksgiving and Fourth of July are two other holidays where they are observed on a specific day every year.

The day is marked with important ceremonies such as the national ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. It starts at precisely 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is followed by a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and then speeches and remarks from important dignitaries. Almost always the sitting president will attend though on occasion the Vice President will act in his place should he not be in attendance.

Veterans Day is to honor those who have chosen to serve our country, past or present. We honor and thank them for their service and remember as well that some gave all as well. They give up a lot so that we are protected. And this day is a big Thank You to all of them.

Pleasant Cruise Turns Into A Titanic Like Adventure

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Sunshine berthed at “Alto Fondale” wharf, Port of Livorno, Italy 2013
Photo: Piergiuliano Chesi (Wikipedia)

There is nothing like taking a nice cruise.  You board the ship, stow your things, and prepare for a nice cruise enjoying the sights and sounds. Except that is not what happened recently to passengers aboard the Carnival ship Sunshine. Hours after leaving Port Canaveral Florida, it experienced what the Carnival called a “technical issue.”

I didn’t think anything of it, since it’s not uncommon for ships to rock back and forth. But it didn’t rock back. It kept leaning,” said passenger David Crews, according to CBS Orlando. “Plates and silverware started sliding off the tables. Then the tables themselves started to slide. Glasses and plates started to fall and shatter. At this point, it was pure chaos. Screams. Cries. Panic.”

An electrical switchboard problem resulted in the ship tilting to one side (whether it was port or starboard is unclear right now). The result was panic. Like most people you take the occasional bumps and jolts when on the ocean as nothing. But when it did not right itself quickly and things began sliding and coming off the walls, people began to panic. And of course water started coming in making it appear the ship for the moment was in serious peril.

The situation thankfully did not last long and apparently was corrected quickly by the ship officers. The damage was done though as passengers took to social media to report what happened. Although the ship’s crew quickly got to work to clean up all the mess caused by the tilt, many just wanted to get off the ship at the next port of call (many did). The initial offer of a $50 credit by the captain was considered insufficient by many. Carnival likely had to offer other compensation to passengers who choose to leave early. And you cannot blame them. That is a pretty scary thing to go through. Thankfully though it was not at all like Titanic. However it is not a great way to start your vacation.

Sources:
1. Cruise Ship Chaos: ‘Technical Issue’ Causes Carnival Sunshine To List To One Side, Terrifying Passengers (CBS New York,1 Nov 2018)
https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2018/11/01/cruise-ship-chaos-technical-issue-causes-carnival-sunshine-to-list-to-one-side-terrifying-passengers/

2. A scene from the Titanic: Carnival cruise ship terrifies passengers after leaning to one side (Deseret News,2 Nov 2018)
https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900040078/a-scene-from-the-titanic-carnival-cruise-ship-terrifies-passengers-after-leaning-to-one-side.html


Today is All Souls Day

Day of The Dead by William Bouguereau (1825-1905) Public Domain
Day of The Dead by William Bouguereau (1825-1905)
Public Domain

All Souls’ Day is to commemorate the faithful dead and is celebrated by special mass by Catholics and other Christian denominations. Some Christian churches celebrate it on a different day. It is not to be confused with Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which does remember friends and family who have died but is not a Catholic or Christian religious event(though it takes place from 31 Oct through 2 Nov which coincides with Halloween, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day).