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Wiser’s Wramblings- From The Halls of Montezuma

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By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

It is no secret that my love for teaching is precipitated from my love of learning. I’m afraid that I’m going to have to live to be about 150 years old to learn everything that I keep telling my self that I would like to learn more about. Learning is likely to be the death of me, in and of itself, as my wife will likely kill me if I keep trying to explain to her something I have recently learned. She could care less…or the counter argument, “she couldn’t care less.”

This whole thought string started when I was reading the novel, The Lost Patriot; one of the Scot Harvath, formerly a Navy Seal, now turned into a Homeland Security operative character, of author Brad Thor. Harvath is looking into a missing link to the Koran history with roots to “Tripoli”, one of the Baltic States now known as the country Libya, and also now “aka” its capital. Seeing the name “Tripoli” triggered thoughts of the “Marine’s Hymn– From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.” What was the connection I wondered, and thus began my research, and naively telling my wife what I was looking into. “Why do you care?” asked my wife. “Because it’s something I don’t know yet” I replied.

Tripoli was one of the North African kingdoms along with Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, known as the Barbary States, home of the pirates that ruled the seas wreaking havoc on commercial shipping in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. The pirates would seize the cargo and hold the crew captive for ransom. To protect against this, we had agreed to pay Algeria $1,000,000 per year. Soon tiring of this we put together a mixed team of Marines and mercenaries that invaded, resulting in what was called the Barbary/Tripolitan War in April and May of 1805. Another skirmish developed in 1815 and a Naval force again visited the Barbary Coast and at that time, as the song says, they embarked “to the shores of Tripoli.” Fast forward to the 1840’s when U.S. President James K. Polk’s “expansionism” agenda annexed Texas triggering the Mexican-American War. The Montezuma clan that ruled the Aztecs were North American natives dominating Northern Mexico. The song lyric “From the halls of Montezuma” derived from a battle of the 1846 to 1848 war, at the “Battle of Chapultepec” and likely derives from the halls in the Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City named for the Montezuma’s. The lyric for the hymn, formally adopted as the Marine Hymn in 1929 was penned by an anonymous author. The tune was from a play. The chronological order of the events listed in the lyric is transposed in the placement of the song lyric using “poetic license”, likely for phrase rhyming purposes.

The term “Montezuma’s Revenge” likely known to many, derives from a digestive problem attributed to water quality and not attributed to anything related to the song or its history.

 A couple of months ago we purchased a new Mr. Coffee brewing device, primarily to increase the number of cups brewed and also to lengthen the “on time” before the timer shuts it down. Soon after putting it into use I noticed that there was a small puddle of coffee on the counter near where I poured into the cup. I thought that perhaps I was just careless. After it happened a couple of times, I watched the front of the cup as I poured. There was a small stream of coffee running down the front of the pot. My first thought was that there was a leak from a loose band wrapped around the pot from the handle holding component. We liked the coffee maker so communicated directly with the Mr. Coffee Company and tried to get a replacement carafe thinking that is all we needed. After fritzing around with Customer Service, convincing them that we didn’t need to clean the coffee filter, they advised us to just return the whole thing to the store for a refund or exchange. 

We did that, and wouldn’t you know…about the 2nd time I poured coffee it repeated the problem. In looking at the pot, the pouring “spout” or more aptly named said “Lip” was “designed” a little differently than typical coffee carafes, in that it was quite wide and flat. I started to get suspicious and started checking out customer complaints. Sure enough there were several noting the term “water shedding”, that described what was happening. Shedding is due to the liquid adhering to the lip caused by surface tension, similar to what happens to a building roof without gutters. The liquid rolls under the edge instead of flowing cleanly into the cup. When trying to explain that to my wife she didn’t believe it. I think she thought I was making it up to excuse my sloppiness. Yesterday morning I noticed that the dish rag laying on the sink had coffee stains on it after she had prepared her morning cup of coffee. I innocently asked if she had spilled her coffee. She quietly replied “No, the coffee had leaked off the lip.” I just smiled.

The “Wrest of my Wrambling’s” continue.

  • Scio/Amity Irons Road “pet” problems now include “sheep in the road and in the neighbor’s yard.” Neighbors are complaining. Getting to be quite a menagerie up there.
  • Vehicle litter abounds on the shoulders of the I86 Interstate. Fenders, bumpers, headlight assemblies, taillights etc. literally litter every quarter mile or so along the highway, and even local and county roads. Nearly every accident severe enough to cause car or truck part destruction and loss ends up being towed. Why can’t they clean up the litter and throw it in the vehicle before they tow or transport it away to the repair shop? The repair shops have waste bins.
  • Grocery cart abandonment continues to irritate me. Why are people so lazy, or in a hurry, that they can’t take care of their shopping carts in the many cart return racks provided? I have seen carts left in the middle of an adjacent parking space three or four steps away from a nearby cart return. My vehicle has suffered damage from an abandoned cart rolling into it on a windy day. One day last week at the Tops in Wellsville, I noticed a gentleman who had pushed his cart up the exit ramp and onto the grass adjacent to the parking spaces just down over the bank from the exit road. After unloading his cart, he left it there on the grass next to the road before leaving. He had pushed it up the hill to get to his car but couldn’t push it down the hill and into the parking lot at least, to return it.
  • In a sad news kind of story, the man who had a terminal heart problem, and who had volunteered for revolutionary “Pigs heart” transplant surgery has passed away due to complications two months after the surgery.
  • I have had a string of coincidences over the years that make me wonder about the “para normal”. Among them are: Having dreams that include people not seen for years and then seeing them in person the next day; Filling my daily “meds” holder with 6 pills each and often extracting exactly the right number of pills. 6 out of 8 times and missing by just one the other two times recently. Another; We keep a small box in one of our kitchen drawers where we save that year’s store receipts. The other day I needed a receipt for an item purchased a few weeks ago. I pulled out about half of the receipts to check one out to see if it was near the purchase date so as to leaf through the rest to find the one I needed. No problem! The one I selected to check the date was the one I needed.
  • I can’t do all my shopping locally so do make “occasional” (weekly) visits to the Olean Walmart. I know that pre-ordering so you can do store pickups is becoming popular but the result of that has store employees rushing around in the store filling a large cart with numerous individual orders. That becomes a problem, especially in the grocery section where two or three of them are in the same aisle at the same time making it nearly impossible to work your way through the aisle to find/get what you want.
  • On a note related to my Olean trips. It was a little easier on my wallet getting my gasoline at the “Reservation” in Cuba paying $4.08/gallon versus the $4.39 charged elsewhere.
  • And, related to that is the mystery of raising gas prices. Oh, I can understand the need to raise the price of gas, other than to line the pockets of the oil barons, but I have often argued against the excuses offered for the timing. When word of the oil price increase comes out the price of gasoline goes up immediately even if the tanks at the gas stations have recently been filled. The argument is that they need to charge more to cover the purchase of the next delivery at the higher cost. Why then, do they not lower the price immediately when the price of oil (or the “oil futures”) goes down? The price of oil relaxed 20% within days of its recent spike, but the price of gasoline is still at its near record high.
  • Two items that I plan on including in a future article will discuss “dreams” and why we dream what we do. I will also mention some of those “witty sayings” that have withstood the test of time, for many of us, who have heard them from parents and/or grandparents. I would mention some of them today but that would “take me off on a tangent” and it would require the services of a mathematician to explain what that means.

I appreciate hearing comments from readers whether they be of praise or criticism. If you have a comment to pass on or share, or a similar “gripe” or observance that you would like me to mention, please feel free to email your comments to [email protected]. They will be forwarded to me, and I will respond if requested.       

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