Category: Stories of Interest (page 1 of 102)

Old Ironside Returns To The Water

With a two-year, $12 million restoration now complete, the “USS Constitution”, also know as Old Ironsides is returning to the water. The 230 year old ship is famous for her 19th century naval victories. The ship has been dry docked at Charlestown Navy Yard undergoing critical repairs, including replacement of 2,200 copper sheaths, 100 hull planks and 42 gun carriers on the ship. The rigging was also refurbished. This type of restoration work needs to be done about every 20 years, according to the Naval History & Heritage Command, which is in charge of heading up those efforts. Old Ironside’s is the last surviving member of the U.S. Navy’s original class of six frigates and operated from 1798 to 1854. It was constructed in Boston, and the bolts fastening its timbers and copper sheathing were provided by the industrialist and patriot Paul Revere. Launched on October 21, 1797, the Constitution was 204 feet long, displaced 2,200 tons, and was rated as a 44-gun frigate (although it often carried as many as 50 guns). In July 1798 it was put to sea with a crew of 450 and cruised the West Indies, protecting U.S. shipping from French privateers. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson ordered the American warship to the Mediterranean to fight Barbary pirates off the coast of Tripoli. The vessel performed great during the conflict, and in 1805 a peace treaty with Tripoli was signed on its deck. When war broke out with Britain in June 1812, the USS Constitution was back in battle. It was on July 16, 1812 the USS Constitution encountered a squadron of five British ships off Egg Harbor, New Jersey. Finding itself surrounded, the Constitution was preparing to escape when suddenly the wind died. With both sides dead in the water and just out of gunnery range, a legendary slow-speed chase ensued. For 36 hours, the USS Constitution‘s crew kept their ship just ahead of the British by towing the ship with rowboats and by tossing the ship’s anchor ahead of the boat and then reeling it in. At dawn on July 18, a breeze sprang, and the Constitution was far enough ahead of its pursuers to escape by sail. Its storied history includes the capture of 33 vessels. It was during one of those battles that the ship gained its nickname because a British sailors reportedly shouted, “Her sides are made of iron” after cannonballs bounced off the ship. It was given its official name of USS Constitution by President George Washington. The success of the USS Constitution against the supposedly invincible Royal Navy provided a tremendous boost in morale for the young American republic. The ship was retired from active military service in 1855, thereafter she served as a training vessel for the United States Naval Academy. The Constitution was later turned into a touring national landmark, and carried American artwork and industrial displays to the Paris Exposition of 1878. She was officially retired from active service in 1881. She has been stored at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston since 1934. While the historic ship is now back in the water, there’s still some restoration work that needs to be completed. Old Ironsides will reopen to the public in September. The Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat. You have to wonder what would have come of our great nation if the USS Constitution and its crew wouldn’t have performed the way it did? (Sources: NPR, Wikipedia, History.com, Navy.Mil)

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Biotech Crops Move Into Their Third Decade Seeking Increased Adoption Rates

Biotech crops have changed the face of production agriculture over the last 21 years. During this period, increasing crop productivity through the use of biotech has played a part in raising farm incomes, saving 429 million acres from destructive cultivation, reducing herbicide use by 19%, reducing CO2 emissions to the equivalent of removing 12 million cars from the road for a year and assisted in alleviating hunger throughout the world. Even with these encouraging numbers, adoptions rates continue to move slower than some would like. Data gathered by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) in its 2016 annual executive summary on the stage of biotech/GM crops around the globe sheds light on biotech’s journey and the challenges it faces. I’m told in 2016 that the number of acres across the globe adopting biotech crops rose only 3% from 443 million acres to 457 million. As more solutions are needed to cope with the future demand brought about from feeding livestock around the world to tackling the next bug or disease issue, biotech will be turned to for answers. One obstacle that will need to be overcome is the heavy hand of regulation that keeps the product out of the countries that need them the most. I have to believe as food security issues become more prevalent, the developing countries in dire need will undoubtedly turn to science based technologies and allow adoption. Moat would agree, the only way that smaller poor farmers will be able to survive and contribute to the doubling of food production in order to meet future global needs is through the adoption of this modern technology. Biotech crops are entering their third decade of planting and commercialization and there will be game changing innovations that are projected to revolutionize the development of new crops and traits. According to industry sources, we can expect to see the increasing adoption and appreciation by farmers of stacked traits, the advent of biotech crops and traits that not only cater to farmers agricultural needs but more so the preference and nutritional needs of consumers; and the increased utilization of innovative tools of gene discovery and their subsequent use in crop improvement and varietal development. Not only that but I’m told that innovative molecular biology tools are continuously being developed and tapped to discover new genes that would make food available, accessible and nutritious. Going forward, biotech crops are here to stay, but I believe it will take a continuous dialogue among all stakeholders where facts, benefits and safety can be discussed before greater understanding and adoption will take. To see the full report click HERE.​ ​(Source:isaaa.org)

Woodstock – Three Days Of Peace, Music And Failed Capitalism

It was on this day in 1969 that a concert kicked-off in upstate New York that rewrote the history books. Reports indicate about half a million young Americans descended on Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethe l , New York for an event that what would end up being symbolic of an entire generation – “The Woodstock Music and Art Fair.” The mythology surrounding the “3 Days of Peace and Music”, has over the years, muddied the real story behind the festival. Its conception had absolutely nothing to do with promoting peace, love or art. No, the idea stemmed from good old fashioned capitalism, with a couple of music promoters, Michael Land and Artie Kornfeld, gained financing from two venture capitalists, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman. The four found each other through an advertisement run by Roberts and Rosenman in the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal seeking “interesting, legitimate investment opportunities.” They originally planned to build a recording studio in Woodstock, NY, but that somehow morphed into an outdoor music festival. That idea almost died as well, until they finally signed a major act, Creedence Clearwater Revival, which prompted other performers to jump on the bandwagon. Despite their relative inexperience, the young promoters managed to sign a roster of other top acts, including the Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Johnny Winter, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Santana, Joe Cocker and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and many more. While the organizers were putting together the lineup, they were also busy looking for a location that would be okay with 50,000 dope-smoking hippies being on their property for three entire days. When the town of Wallkill, New York blocked them from using a location they’d booked earlier, they were eventually introduced to Max Yasgur, who agreed to host a festival that would have NO MORE than 50,000 people in attendance, although by that time the promoters had already sold over 170,000 tickets. The last minute venue change created some unexpected challenges for hosting a crowd of any size – they had inadequate security to make sure only ticket holders were allowed in. As the crowd began descending on the farm and the fences and gates keeping them out were pushed down, it suddenly became a “free concert”. It’s estimated between 400,000 and 500,000 people showed up, but heavy rains and only enough food, water and port-a-potties to accommodate 50,000 led to a lot of folks not sticking around for the entire festival. In fact, they ran out of food the first day, and by the time it started raining on Saturday, the port-a-potties were overflowing, leading to a not very pleasant mixture of mud and human waste. What’s worse, rain delays meant the Jimi Hendrix, who was quite possibly the most anticipated act, didn’t play until Monday morning, a day after the festival was originally supposed to end. Nonetheless, Hendrix played a two hour set, including one of the most famous and controversial renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner” ever performed. Ironically, the image of him dressed in red white and blue and playing that song is one of the most iconic symbols of Woodstock and the 1960’s as a whole. You can watch a cool video titled, “35 Woodstock Photos that Will Take You Back To 1969” by Clicking HERE. Below are a few other interesting facts:

Richie Havens opened the Woodstock festival, even though he wasn’t scheduled to go on until later in the evening. Heavy traffic had prevented the opening acts from arriving at the festival, and festival organizers convinced him to take the stage around 5:15 p.m. on Friday afternoon. The other acts were still stuck in the traffic, so Havens performed several encores, playing “every song he knew.” Searching for another song to sing, he began strumming, getting into a groove, when the word “Freedom” came to mind. He sang his now-famous song “Freedom” for the first time, on stage at Woodstock, making the words up as he played. He later told the story of having to see the movie “Woodstock,” so that he could hear how the song went so he could perform it again.

Into the Morning Hours: Many folks don’t realize it but many performers played during some crazy hours. The first night Joan Baez played until2:00amOn Saturday, Credence Clearwater Revival didn’t take the stage until after midnight. Janis Joplin followed them up by playing until 3:00am. The Who was took the stage that Saturday night and played a 25 song set that lasted until 6:05am in the morning. Jefferson Airplane, the scheduled main event for Saturday night, didn’t stop playing until about 9:30am in the morning. Similar type off thing happened Sunday night, with Johnny Winter not taking the stage until after midnight, followed by Blood, Sweat & Tears and then Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young who played until 4:00am. Jimi Hendrix took the stage three groups later, was the final performer off the event, and played until 11:00am Monday morning.

Two bands were scheduled to play Woodstock but were unable to make the festival. The Jeff Beck Group (featuring Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, and Aynsley Dunbar) broke up only weeks before the festival. Iron Butterfly were stuck at LaGuardia Airport in New York and couldn’t get to the festival by ground transportation, so they demanded the festival promoters send a helicopter for them. As the story goes, the promoters sent the band’s manager a telegram, the first letter of each line spelling out the words “F*** You.” Iron Butterfly never arrived at the festival.

No official Woodstock merchandise at the festival. It’s hard to comprehend such an event today without t-shirts, hoodies, coozies, and a thousand other logo items for sale at every turn, but the only official souvenir of the festival was the 8-1/2 x 11 festival program, which went largely undistributed, many of them being thrown away still in their boxes after the festival. Security, stagehands, and other crew members were issued t-shirts and windbreakers with the Woodstock logo on them, and they have become the lasting, iconic souvenirs of the festival, as well as numerous bootleg items sold by enterprising festival attendees from their trunks or from booths in the woods.

No reported incidents of violence among the half-million people in the audience. Perhaps the only recorded incident happened on-stage, as Abbie Hoffman rushed the stage during a break in The Who’s set. Hoffman took the mike and began a semi-coherent rant about freeing John Sinclair from jail, when Pete Townshend turned, yelled at Hoffman to get off “my stage,” and hit the activist in the head with the neck of his guitar. Hoffman left the stage, and The Who proceeded with their set.

What is Bethel Woods Center for the Arts? The venue opened in 2006 at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The historic hill on which the festival audience sat and enjoyed three days of music has been preserved, and Bethel Woods beautiful outdoor concert pavilion and museum campus is situated on the hill overlooking the festival field. The Pavilion hosts outdoor concerts in the summer months, and the Museum is open from April through December. Several of the original Woodstock performers have played at Bethel Woods, including Santana, Joe Cocker, Hot Tuna (Jefferson Airplane), Starship (Jefferson Airplane), Joan Baez, Country Joe McDonald, Richie Havens, Melanie, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Levon Helm (The Band), Arlo Guthrie, John Sebastian, Leslie West (Mountain), The Family Stone, and Furthur, Phil Lesh & Friends, and Ratdog (all Grateful Dead spinoffs). Many of these performers have enjoyed the museum and walked the historic site at Bethel Woods.

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​​​​California’s NEW Gold Rush!!!

California is once again living up to its nickname as the Golden State. Thanks to recent weather cycles from extended drought conditions to a springtime of flooding, northern California is producing gold. The back and forth weather pattern which led to the Oroville Spillway emergency and thus weeks of heavy runoff has lead to gold panners enjoying a bonanza kicked up by all the debris. If you recall, in February, record amounts of rain fell near the Oroville Dam, which feeds the Feather and Yuba rivers, which is where the majority of finds are occurring. Along with the rain, there was higher elevation snow fall which also led to significant runoff as the temperatures warmed this spring. All the flowing water has been a dredgers dream as gold nuggets are once again being uncovered. I’m told would be prospectors have flooded the area creating a modern day gold rush. According to Diana Clayton, president of the Shasta Miners & Prospectors Association, some folks are just walking along, kicking the dirt and finding pieces of gold. Local business owners associated with the trade say, that there’s been a 25% increase in professional miners heading up north. I understand there has also been a significant rise in amateurs coming in and purchasing equipment. Though there are reports of nuggets being found in the area, those hoping to get rich quick may be a bit disappointed as most payouts are in the $40-$300 range. Agents from the Bureau of Land Management have stated there won’t be many nuggets found due to the heavy mining that took place in the 19th and 20th centuries. Locals kindly disagree with that assessment saying there is definitely nuggets to be found. Since gold was first discovered by James Marshall near Sutter’s Mill, folks have followed their dreams to get rich by mining for the metal, with very few of the hundreds of thousands actually made enough to cover expenses. As I understand it, there are millions of tons of gold still lurking in the rock in the Sierra Nevada, but much of it is either difficult to access or released in tiny flecks that are not economical to gather, according to a 1982 U.S. Geological Survey report. Historically, prospectors found giant gold nuggets in California during the 19th century Gold Rush days, including a 54-pound chunk found in Butte County in 1859. It has been decades since a report of anyone discovering a rock of 6 pounds or more in California. But in 2014, an undisclosed miner unearthed a 6.07 POUND rock which sold to a collector for $400,000. I suspect it is that kind of news that keeps the crowds coming out with hopes of striking it rich. Time will tell if any life changing finds will be discovered.(Source: LiveScience, Weather Channel, LA Times)

Crop Progress w/e 8/6/17

USDA further lower’s weekly corn crop-conditions, with 60% of the crop rated  “Good-to-Excellent”, down from 61% the previous week.  The USDA also reported 93% of the corn crop as “silking”  vs. the 5-year average of 94%. “Dough” was reported at 42% vs. the 5-year average of 44%. “Dented” was reported 7% vs. the 5-year average of 11%. Below are details regarding current corn crop-conditions and comparisons to last year.

States “IMPROVING” 

Pennsylvania raised by +4% to 92% vs 59% last year
Indiana raised by +3% to 52% vs 73% last year
Kentucky raised by +3% to 83% vs 76% last year
Missouri raised by +2% to 63% vs 75% last year
North Dakota raised by +1% to 40% vs 80% last year
Tennessee raised by +1% to 83% vs 66% last year 

States “UNCHANGED” 

Nebraska “unchanged” at 59% vs 76% last year
Ohio “unchanged” at 57% vs. 47% last year 
South Dakota “unchanged” at 29% vs 55% last year
Texas “unchanged” at 69% vs 57% last year
Wisconsin “unchanged” at 70% vs 88% last year

States “DETERIORATING”   

Colorado lowered by -8% to 58% vs 82% last year 
Illinois lowered by -5% to 58% vs 83% last year 
Kansas lowered by -3% to 54% vs 67% last year
North Carolina lowered by -2% to 74% vs 64% last year
Iowa lowered by -1% to 64% vs 83% last year
Michigan lowered by -1% at 68% vs 54% last year
Minnesota lowered by -1% to 80% vs 85% last year 

USDA lifted soybeans “Good-to-Excellent” rating by +1% to 60%. Interestingly, conditions in Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas are reporting better conditions than last year. I should also note that conditions in both North and South Dakota improved by +3% on the week.

States “IMPROVING” 

North Carolina raised by +6% to 70% vs 68% last year
Indiana raised by +3% to 54% vs 74% last year 
Mississippi raised by +3% to 72% vs 67% last year
North Dakota raised by +3% to 37% vs 73% last year
Ohio raised by +3% to 53% vs 52% last year
South Dakota raised by +3% to 32% vs 57% last year
Tennessee raised by +3% to 75% vs 76% last year
Kansas raised by +2% to 53% vs. 61% last year 
Minnesota raised by +1% to 74% vs 80% last year
Wisconsin raised by +1% to 75% vs 88% last year 

States “UNCHANGED” 

Arkansas “unchanged” at 70% vs 60% last year

States “DETERIORATING”

Michigan lowered by -4% to 62% vs 57% last year
Louisiana lowered by -3% to 82% vs 78% last year 
Illinois lowered by -2% to 64% vs 79% last year 
Nebraska lowered by -2% to 58% vs 77% last year 
Iowa lowered by -1% to 59% vs 82% last year 
Kentucky lowered by -1% to 72% vs 73% last year
Missouri lowered by -1% to 64% vs 70% last year 

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