Thursday, December 29, 2011

An 1816 Matron Head large cent, Pierre L'Enfant, and the platting of Perrysburg, Ohio

I inadvertently skipped the year 1816 in my last posting showing an early U.S. coin matched with Northwest Ohio history.  So now, I'm posting a photo of a large cent from 1816.  This is the first year that this particular design appeared, and it is often referred to as the "Matron Head" large cent, since Lady Liberty looks a bit older and more matronly on this issue than on  previous types of large cents.  This coin is not perfect and has some minor patches of verdigris (light mineralization or corrosion in the copper) on the reverse, but it has some really nice eye appeal in its totally original (never cleaned) appearance and its dark mahogany and lighter reddish copper coloration... almost a "black and tan" two-tone look.  In the opinions of many early copper collectors, this look is very desirable, but of course this is subjective.  Matron Head large cents are historical, fun, and easy to collect due to their relative abundance and cheap prices, especially in lower grade conditions.
1816 Matron Head Large Cent obverse

1816 Matron Head Large Cent reverse

Plat of Perrysburg, Ohio, April 26, 1816
An interesting tie-in of this coin's year, 1816, to the Great Black Swamp region, is the platting of the town of Perrysburg, Ohio, by Pierre Charles L'Enfant.  In May and August of 1813, General William Henry Harrison held off the British and their Indian allies in two separate sieges of Fort Meigs, which is located just a few miles from present day Perrysburg.   In 1816, the U.S. government sent Pierre L'Enfant, the French-born American architect, civil engineer, and Revolutionary War combat veteran best known for designing the layout of the streets of Washington, D.C., to plat (lay out) the town of Perrysburg, Ohio.  Perrysburg was therefore only the only town other than Washington, D.C. so created in the United States.  It was named in honor of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who led an American naval force to victory over the British in 1813 in the Battle of Lake Erie near Put-in-Bay.

With the opening of the Northwest Territory to settlers, many settlers passed through the area around Perrysburg, crossing the Maumee river at the first opportunity upstream from Lake Erie, the ford at the Foot of the Rapids, and continuing their journeys north or west into the newly acquired lands of the expanding United States.  Since Perrysburg was located on the northern rim of the Great Black Swamp, which was nearly impassable until the swamp had been largely drained in the late 1800's, early transportation into and out of Perrysburg was essentially restricted to the Maumee River.  In time Perrysburg became a major lake port and shipbuilding center—second only to Cleveland and Buffalo in goods shipped.  As the Great Black Swamp was very gradually drained, huge forests of virgin timber became available and untold millions of board feet of logs and lumber sawed in Perrysburg were floated or shipped down river, across the lake and on to domestic and foreign markets. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An 1817/3 capped bust half dollar and the Treaty of the Rapids of the Miami of Lake Erie (Maumee)

I've been posting a number of articles on the Philippines lately, so I wanted to intersperse a post of another early U.S. coin paired with a specific event from U.S. history within or near the Great Black Swamp region.   This time I'm featuring an 1817/3 capped bust half dollar, Overton variety number O-101.   As you can see very clearly from the photo, there is a 3 beneath the 7 of the date.   This is referred to as an overdate, and this occurred at the mint when the obverse (front) die was being prepared.  Apparently due to materiel shortages and economic hardship that extended well after the War of 1812 ended (only a few half dollars were minted in 1815 and none were minted in 1816), there was a need to "recycle" one of the working dies from 1813, so in the year 1817 the mint worker punched a number 7 right on top of the old die from 1813.  One might consider this an error of omission, since the mint worker made no attempt to remove the underlying 3. The 1817/3 overdate is pretty scarce to come by in excellent condition, and is a variety that is represented in the Red Book guide to American coins, so it is in high demand from collectors.   Note that not all of the 1817 half dollars have this 7 over 3 overdate variety, but only a relatively small number in comparison to the remainder of non-overdate varieties of half dollars minted in 1817.

1817/3 O-101 Capped Bust Half Dollar obverse

1817/3 O-101 Capped Bust Half Dollar reverse

One of the tie-ins of this coin to contemporaneous Great Black Swamp area history is that on September 29, 1817, the Treaty of the Rapids of the Miami of Lake Erie (the Miami of Lake Erie is presently known as the Maumee River) was signed, at Fort Meigs in Maumee, Ohio. In this treaty the Wyandot Indians, the Seneca Indians, the Delaware Indians, the Shawnee Indians, the Potawatomi Indians, the Ottawa Indians, and the Chippewa Indians relinquished their claim to four million acres of land in northwestern Ohio. This treaty was also known as the Treaty with the Wyandot and the Fort Meigs Treaty.

The U.S. government agreed to pay $4,000 each year to the Wyandots, $500 a year to the Seneca tribe, and $2,000 dollars a year to the Shawnees. The United States also agreed to pay $1,300 a year for fifteen years to the Potawatomis, $1,000 a year for fifteen years each to the Ottawa and Chippewa tribes, and a single payment of $500 to the Delaware. In addition, some tribes received additional cash payments for damages they suffered during the War of 1812 because they were allies of the United States. The United States agreed to "grant land" to the various tribes as well... in other words, putting these Indian tribes on reservations. The Wyandots received a twelve-mile-square reservation at Upper Sandusky, Ohio. The Senecas received thirty thousand acres along the Sandusky River. The Shawnees received a ten-mile-square reservation at Wapakoneta in addition to several other grants. The Ottawas received a small parcel along the Auglaize River, while the Delawares were allotted a nine-mile-square reservation next to the Wyandots' land. As specified in Article 2 of the treaty:
'Article 2:  It is also agreed that there shall be reserved for the use of the Wyandots, in addition to the reservations before made, fifty-five thousand six hundred and eighty acres of land, to be laid off in two tracts, the first to adjoin the south line of the section of six hundred and forty acres of land heretofore reserved for the Wyandot chief, the Cherokee Boy, and to extend south to the north line of the reserve of twelve miles square, at Upper Sandusky, and the other to adjoin the east line of the reserve of twelve miles square, at Upper Sandusky, and to extend east for quantity.  
There shall also be reserved, for the use of the Wyandots residing at Solomon's town, and on Blanchard's fork, in addition to the reservations before made, sixteen thousand acres of land, to be laid off in a square form, on the head of Blanchard's fork, the centre of which shall be at the Big Spring, on the trace leading from Upper Sandusky to fort Findlay; and one hundred and sixty acres of land, for the use of the Wyandots, on the west side of the Sandusky river, adjoining the said river, and the lower line of two sections of land, agreed, by the treaty to which this is supplementary, to be granted to Elizabeth Whitaker.
There shall also be reserved, for the use of the Shawnese, in addition to the reservations before made, twelve thousand eight hundred acres of land, to be laid off adjoining the east line of their reserve of ten miles square, at Wapaughkonetta; and for the use of the Shawnese and Senecas, eight thousand nine hundred and sixty acres of land, to be laid off adjoining the west line of the reserve of forty-eight square miles at Lewistown. And the last reserve hereby made, and the former reserve at the same place, shall be equally divided by an east and west line, to be drawn through the same. And the north half of the said tract shall be reserved for the use of the Senecas who reside there, and the south half for the use of the Shawnese who reside there.There shall also be reserved for the use of the Senecas, in addition to the reservations before made, ten thousand acres of land, to be laid off on the east side of the Sandusky river, adjoining the south line of their reservation of thirty thousand acres of land, which begins on the Sandusky river, at the lower corner of William Spicer's section, and excluding therefrom the said William Spicer's section.'
Northwest Ohio Indian reservations from the Treaty of the Rapids of the Miami of Lake Erie

The Treaty of St. Mary's amended and supplemented the Treaty of Maumee Rapids. The Treaty of St. Mary's was signed later that same day. Captain Pipe and Black Hoof were two of the signers of the Treaty of the Maumee Rapids.  Sadly, within another 13 years all of these tribes would be forcibly uprooted from their Ohio reservations and sent to desolate reservations far to the west across the Mississippi River, far from their ancestral home and hunting lands.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Our tour of a small-town public elementary school in the Philippines

During our July/August trip to the Philippines to visit my wife's family, we wanted our daughter, who was about to turn eight years old, to witness the Philippines from many different angles and learn further about her cultural heritage as a Filipina-American.  Many times when people visit another country, their point-of-view as a tourist is biased and limited by staying in the "touristy" areas, traveling with their fellow countrymen and speaking only in their native tongue (this often occurs on package tours), and eating cuisine that is familiar and most closely similar to what they eat in their home country.  We hope to thwart this mind-set and allow our daughter to see life in the Philippines not only from the aspect of the beach resorts, luxurious shopping malls (most of which are larger and nicer than the ones in many metropolitan areas of the U.S.) and the westernized fast food restaurants. The rural areas of the Philippines, referred to by Filipinos as "the provinces", are filled with natural beauty and offer ample opportunity for our daughter (and me) to learn about her heritage, as well as Philippine culture and way of life, agriculture, flora and fauna, trade and micro-manufacturing processes, you name it.  One of the coolest examples of the latter was going to a blacksmith-style workshop where bolo  knives (machete) and sangot  (scimitar or sickle curved machete)  are fashioned out of springs from the suspension of a car.  Importantly, these experiences are educational for all of us, and instill in our daughter a respect for the Filipino traditions and way of life, and an appreciation of the indomitable spirit of most of the people, many of whom are much less economically privileged.

In particular, we wanted our daughter to get a good sense of what school life is like for children who are largely from families who rely on subsistence agriculture for a living - kids who are just like her in almost all ways, but who are truly facing some economic adversity.   In August in my wife's home town in Mindanao,  we arranged for the wife of my wife's distant cousin, who is a 4th-grade teacher at a public elementary school, to give us a tour during an active school day.    Schools in the Philippines have a school year starting in June and ending in March, so when we visited in August (during our daughter's summer vacation from her school in the U.S.) school was in full session.   

We arrived first thing in the morning, in time to see the flag raising ceremony and national anthem, followed by some unstructured group physical activity (mainly "hokey pokey" type dancing and stretching).  We next went inside the classrooms, grade by grade starting with 4th grade, then 3rd, then 1st, then peeked in the other grade classrooms.  We also got to see the canteen where the children eat, and can purchase some snacks or bread. Since there is no winter in the Philippines and the weather (at least in Mindanao) can be quite hot and humid all year long, the schools are built in an open-air plan with no glass in the windows.  Instead, large vented "grill" windows similar to Venetian blinds span the entire length of the room, bringing fresh breezes into the classroom.   The photos of the elementary we visited are fairly representative of the same style architecture and layout of many of the public elementary schools I've seen in the provinces, small towns, or rural areas of the Philippines. 

The children were all very delightful and proud to show us their classroom, greeting us in unison (in English) and thanking us for coming.  They were particularly happy to interact with our daughter, and they were as honored to have her as a visitor as she was to be their guest.  Like many other school children in the Philippines, some of the children attending this school cannot afford to even buy a single piece of bread for their lunch.  Sadly,  we encountered a bright and smiling little 12-year-old girl, who had only just started first grade.  She had been held back by her parents until this year due to the need to keep her at home so she could help with farming.  Curriculum, books, notebooks, and school supplies are all an economic issue and hardship, not just for the students, but also for the teachers - unfortunately, the necessary items for education do not always make it to the final destination where they are needed most.  This visit truly provided a new perspective for our daughter (and indeed for all of us), helping her to realize how fortunate she is as a student in her public school district in the U.S.   But it also showed her that despite the economic adversity these kids face daily, they are bright, resourceful, kind, caring, delightful, and very much like herself in so many ways.  A great life lesson for a not-quite 8-year-old, and for all of us!

Post-script 03/01/13...    This post has been the most popular so far in terms of all-time views on my website, but oddly enough, it has gotten very few comments in comparison to some of my other posts.  

Preparing to raise the flag
Raising the Philippine flag
Stirring the pot exercise
"Hokey Pokey" morning exercise

Sidewalk between open-air classrooms

First time meeting the 4th grade class

Children greeting our daughter in unison
Children greeting us, responding to teacher

Reciting Philippine Pledge of Allegiance in Tagalog

Boys will be boys

Girls with classroom reading materials

Open-air public elementary school classroom in Philippines

Students with teacher in Philippine public elementary school 

On-site canteen where students get their lunch

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Plantation Bay Resort (Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines) part 2

To follow up on a previous post, I found some more photos of Plantation Bay on Mactan Island, Cebu, the Philippines.  Mactan Island is very significant in world history, as it is the site of Magellan's defeat and death at the hands of the datu (tribal chief or sultan) Lapu-Lapu. 

I think these photos just further illustrate what a nice, inviting, clean, and relaxing place Plantation Bay is.  On the previous post,  I didn't show photos of their beach front, which is really nice and allows for ample opportunity to swim and collect sea shells.   I also wish that we had taken more photos of the grounds at night time; quite beautiful with all the lights.

Looking for coral and shells at Plantation Bay Resort beach

Beach-combing at Plantation Bay Resort, Mactan Island 

Plantation Bay saltwater pool with island

View of length of saltwater pool

Plantation Bay saltwater pool

Kayaking on saltwater pool

Saltwater pool

Plantation Bay main lobby, night time.  Gorgeous architecture!

Plantation Bay main lobby at night 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cutting-edge car safety technological innovations - reducing human error

Over the last several decades, the automotive industry has made significant progress in passive safety technologies, including seat belts, safety glass, padded dashboards and energy-absorbing steering columns, head restraints, and front and side airbags.  Many were implemented as a result of the unanimous passage in the U.S. Congress of the 1966 National Highway Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.  These in turn were spurred by public concern over escalating traffic fatalities, Ralph Nader's advocacy of automobile safety, and the publicity generated by the publication of Nader's 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed.  The 1966 Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, established the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and marked a historic shift in responsibility for automobile safety from the consumer to the manufacturer. 

Though the car companies' lobbyists managed to water down the safety standards in the final bill considerably, the NHTMVSA did result in safer cars: it required "the padding and softening of interior surfaces and protrusions" (take a look at the interior knobs on a car from the 1950s sometime), seat belts for every passenger, impact-absorbing steering wheels, rupture-resistant fuel tanks (although Ford managed to side-step this with the Pinto), door latches that stayed latched in crashes, side-view mirrors, shatter-resistant windshields and windshield defrosters, and lights on the sides of cars as well as the front and back.  For its part, the Highway Safety Act required road builders to install guardrails, better streetlights and signs, and stronger barriers between opposing lanes of traffic.

While all of these passive technologies have saved many lives over the years (and active airbag technologies have been commercially available since the early 1990's), much remains to be improved and traffic accidents still represent a major safety issue world-wide.    The bottom line is that the vehicles have become much safer, but the drivers have not.  Research has shown that the majority of collisions are caused by driver error or inattention.  In this article, I will discuss new technologies that may enhance the safety of cars by mitigating human error - keeping in mind that human mis-use of other new technologies (particularly the use of cell phones and texting while driving) constitute a major source of driver distraction which are rapidly adding to the tragic statistics of motor vehicle fatalities. 

Driven by the dropping prices, miniaturization, and speed/power of computer technology within the last 3 decades (compare and contrast an IBM computer from 1983 to an Apple iPhone 4G from late 2011), a new generation of active safety technologies could help to bridge the gap between man and machine in terms of vehicle safety.   The earliest progenitors of these new-generation systems were anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC), the latter of which prevents skids by cutting back power and, when necessary, braking individual wheels.  ABS is the more mature of these two technologies, whereas ESC has been implemented in production cars more recently. 

The next phase of the new-generation systems have been designed by automotive engineers with the concept of avoiding crashes in the first place.  These systems are intelligent active safety systems based on state-of-the-art radar, night vision, camera and sensor technologies, lane departure warning, collision avoidance systems, and autonomous emergency-brake functions, all of which can provide drivers with critical help in accident avoidance. 

According to an article in the American Automobile Association (AAA) Motorist November/December 2011 issue by Richard Hamilton, Chairman of AAA East Central, over 1/3 of all collisions are caused by unsafe lane changes or unintentional lane departure (likely that the latter are largely due to distracted or fatigued drivers).   Lane departure warnings help safeguard against the tendency to lose concentration when distracted or fatigued.  Hamilton states that another 1/3 of collisions in the U.S. are caused by front-end or rear-end collisions, which are almost always the result of inattention and/or tailgating (following too closely).   Volvo currently offers a unique City Safety feature, which is standard equipment on the Volvo XC60 and helps drivers to avoid low-speed (less than 20 mph) rear-end collisions by letting the car brake itself if the driver does not react in time. The system works by scanning the space ahead of the car with an invisible infrared radar called lidar. It will be interesting to see how this technology emerges and whether Volvo can implement it safely for higher road speeds as opposed to just low-speed rear-end collision avoidance.  However, Volvos equipped with the automaker’s City Safety collision avoidance system have been shown by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) to have 27% fewer accidents than comparable vehicles. That’s a huge reduction, says the HLDI.

A major advance that should surface in the next few years is vehicle to vehicle (V2V) technology, which was first introduced by General Motors.  This technology allows vehicles to communicate with one another to avoid collisions.  The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that V2V systems could alleviate up to 80% of car and motorcycle crashes involving unimpaired drivers.   To me, this is exciting, and rampant consumer demand for much smaller, cheaper, and more powerful cell phones and computers (notebooks and tablets) should provide the framework for automakers to translate these technologies into hopefully affordable and standard equipment collision-avoidance devices in most cars.

New technologies could help to protect pedestrians as well, particularly cooperative sensor technologies.  BMW is developing a pedestrian protection system that communicates wireless data with an active module, similar to an advanced radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip that could be integrated into a child's school backpack.

More futuristic concepts are also being explored today by many automakers, particularly GPS and transponder-based technologies that allow vehicles to be operated without any input whatsoever from the driver.  While these technologies make me a bit nervous, once perfected, it would be nice to just sit in the car and read or work on the laptop while commuting or especially while making a 5- or 6-hour road trip.  During such autonomous driving, the vehicle is able to assume control over braking, steering, and acceleration, and can be grouped into a "road train" of similarly controlled vehicles.  If ever this is actually successfully and safely implemented, the impact not only on safety but also on traffic jams would be phenomenally beneficial, as most traffic jams result from the cumulative serial delay (in a line of cars) of one car after another waiting for the driver ahead to lift his or her foot off the brake and begin acceleration.  If this acceleration from a complete stop could be synchronized rather than occurring in a "wave motion", many minutes would be freed up from every commute.   Audi has been working with autonomous vehicles for some time, and last year an Audi TTS gained global recognition when it scaled the entire 12.42 miles (~20 km) and 156 S-turns of Pike's Peak (a 4300 m elevation mountain in Colorado) in a very respectable 27 minutes.   A professional driver in the same car could complete the course in about 17 minutes, so it's just a matter of time until the computer catches up. 

While these systems are all exciting and clearly have the potential to save many lives, some worry that a false sense of security from these devices may encourage more reckless driving.  Additionally, many people are going to be reluctant to give up their autonomy to a computer given all of the "what ifs" regarding computer viruses, sabotage of critical infrastructure networks or sensors, mechanical or computer breakdown, effects of inclement weather, etc.  I think all of these systems can be integrated to some extent, but without diminishing the driver's sense of control over the vehicle or the enjoyment of driving.  Additionally, a very important factor will be systems that can deny the privilege of driving from those who cannot safely drive - the impaired, due to either drunk driving or substance abuse or simply due to fatigue.   In particular, safety systems with sensors that can test blood alcohol level of the driver are being developed, and when implemented will have a profound effect on highway safety. 

Beauty and the Beast - our daughter vs. lechon in Cebu

Here are a couple of photos from our July-August trip to the Philippines, showing our daughter clowning around in Cebu with a fresh lechon graciously provided by her Lolo and Lola (grandma and grandpa) shortly before her 8th birthday.   While all the Pinoys and Pinays reading this will of course know all about lechon, many others, barring people from Spain and its former colonial possessions, will probably not be familiar with the other fellow in these photos.  

My friend, Mr. Lechon

I'm not scared of lechon baboy!

Lechon, also known in the Philippines as lechon baboy, is a roasted young pig (although in Latin America I think for their lechón they use larger/medium size pigs) traditionally cooked on a turnspit over charcoal; coconut charcoal in the Philippines. Although the term "lechón" in Spanish literally means suckling pig, the ones used in the Philippines are a bit bigger and are typically around 10 kg.   I would assume that different countries formerly colonized by the Spanish have different spices and cooking styles, but I am only familiar with Filipino style lechon.  Lechon is prepared throughout the year for any special occasion or party, during festivals, and for the holidays.  After removing the entrails and seasoning the body cavity with a variety of spices (usually lemongrass, anise, onions, and garlic), the young pig is cooked by skewering the entire animal on a rotisserie turnspit and cooking it in a pit filled with charcoal.  It is roasted on all sides for at least several hours  until done.  The process of roasting and basting results in making the pork skin very crisp, and it is considered by many the most desirable part of the lechon.  In my experience, the skin is the first part of the lechon to "go" at parties, so better get in line before it disappears!   It's masarap (delicious!), it's healthy (yeah, right!), and an experience no foreigner or tourist to the Philippines should miss. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A few photos from Plantation Bay Resort, Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines

These are a few shots from our day trip to Plantation Bay Resort, on Mactan Island, Cebu, which was in mid-August 2011 (we did not stay overnight since our family lives locally).   My wife and I personally found Plantation Bay to be more  pleasant, relaxing and enjoyable than Imperial Palace Resort.  This was mainly because we found Imperial Palace (while very pleasant) to be more "Westernized" and artificially landscaped with lots of concrete sidewalks and a big concrete hotel, whereas Plantation Bay was more attuned with the natural surroundings, landscaped with a good bit less concrete and fiberglass and much more sand, trees (nicely shaded), bamboo architecture and vegetation.  Rather than a hulking concrete hotel complex, Plantation Bay has charming smaller cottage complexes spread out over its grounds, offering in many cases water's-edge access directly to the various pools and lagoons.   One feature we liked in particular was the saltwater lagoon.  While this lagoon was still artificially engineered and was not connected directly to the sea (probably to keep algae out of it), it was really quite nice because it allowed for all of us as a family to experiment with salt water buoyancy without the waves of the ocean, and do some nice back-floating on perfectly warm and calm waters.  The other thing that was really enjoyable is that they keep the pool open after sundown, so we could float on our backs and watch the stars.
Looking across the saltwater lagoon at water's-edge rooms

Another nice feature was the kayaks, which guests can use to paddle around the saltwater lagoon.   
Kayaks at saltwater lagoon, Plantation Bay

Saltwater lagoon, Plantation Bay
I unfortunately do not have photos of the freshwater swimming pool, but Plantation Bay claims that it is the largest in the entire country.  It incorporates numerous different water features for kids and adults, including slides, fountains, and whirlpool jaccuzi-type spas, all of which are very tastefully subdued or disguised into and around synthetic boulders and grottoes which blend well into the architecural and natural landscaping scheme. The freshwater pool also has a central restaurant which has buffet-style dining pool side in a tasteful building that looks like a 3-tiered octagonal band pavilion, which offered excellent food and friendly service.  

For a unique experience for the family, Plantation Bay offers free calesa (horse-drawn 2-wheeled carriage) trips around the property, which is charming and quite extensive. Plantation Bay is breathtakingly beautiful at night with beautiful lights accenting the landscaping and the wooden and bamboo catwalks, bridges, and piers that cross the pools and interconnect the properties, as can be seen on their website:

We greatly enjoyed our time at Plantation Bay, and hope to make it back again sometime in the future.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A visit to Imperial Palace Beach Resort and Water Park, Mactan, Cebu

These are a just a few photos showing some scenes from the Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa, on Mactan Island, Cebu, the Philippines, which we visited in August, 2011.  Although we didn't stay in the hotel (since my parents-in-law have a place in Cebu), we visited the beach resort and water park for the day, enjoying a nice full day having fun, swimming, riding the slides and "lazy river", going to the beach, and just relaxing and bonding as a family.  

Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort, Cebu, Philippines
Part of Mactan, Cebu's Imperial Palace Hotel

"Sunken" bar on lazy river
"Sunken" bar on lazy river

Imperial Palace approaching the beach from the waterpark

Cabanas and lounge chairs at the Imperial Palace beach

Children's pool at Imperial Palace waterpark

Children's pool at Imperial Palace waterpark

Some of the water slides at Imperial Palace, Mactan, Cebu

Pier at Imperial Palace beach, Mactan, Cebu

Swimming beach at Imperial Palace, Mactan

View of red & white "swirly bowl" water slide with drop-out opening in its bottom

End of the road on the Wedgie Express

The water slides were great fun for kids and adults alike, including a red and white one with the bowl at the bottom, which literally allows you to whirlpool in a fashion much like a toilet bowl, until you reach the hole in the bottom and you suddenly drop out into a perhaps 6-foot depth of water (there is a lifeguard at the bottom to assist everyone; this particular slide was off limits to smaller children).   It's a lot of fun, but like most of the good water slides at water parks, the price one has to pay for that fun is the rather disconcerting "wedgie" at the end.  

The staff monitoring all the slides pay good attention to safety rules and regulations, and lifeguards are around most all the areas of the water park.  Staff were pleasant and accommodating.  The facilities were all very clean, safe, and well-maintained, and the beach itself was very pleasant.  Since we live inland in the USA, the beach itself and swimming in the ocean salt water was one of the best features for my wife and me, whereas for our 8-year-old daughter the slides and pool features were the highlights.  Another favorite of the whole family was the "lazy river", where one or two people can just grab hold of a raft and just float along the stream effortlessly.  There is also a "kiddie water park" for small children.  Shower and changing facilities were nice and clean.   Imperial Palace also had an outstanding dinner buffet, (but I am doubtful that we got any photographs of it), which we enjoyed after swimming and playing all day in the water park and beach. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My family ties to our "home away from home": the Philippines

In an earlier post I mentioned that within this blog I would discuss traveling in the Philippines.  Just to take a little break from posting about early U.S. coins and American/Ohio history for a bit, and as a prelude to actually writing about my experiences and travels within the Philippines, I'd like to give a bit of background about how I came to visit the Philippines in the first place.

At the age of 24, I met my lovely Filipina wife-to-be back in early 1993, while she was traveling with her parents visiting family in the United States.  It just so happened that her cousin grew up in the U.S. and is married to my older brother, so of course my brother and sister-in-law introduced us.  The rest, as they say, is history.  We hit it off right away, and have been married nearly 18 years, with one child.

After two years of marriage, we took our first trip to the Philippines in 1996. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, but had much to learn about the culture, traditions, infrastructure, and daily rhythms of life in the Philippines.  As an American of primarily German and small amount of Irish ancestry, I admittedly experienced some culture shock, one could say, but also a very profound respect and affection for the hospitality, warmth, and traditions of the people of the Philippines.   The latter was not entirely a new concept to me, as I had quite some experience since childhood interacting with Filipino families mainly from Northern Mindanao and Cebu, who had immigrated to my home town in the early 1970's during the Marcos administration.  Having Filipino friends and classmates introduced me to many of the concepts of the Filipino nuclear family and respect for elders, various Philippine foods such as cassava cake, bud-bud, lumpia Shanghai, and gave me some opportunities to learn a few vocabulary words in the Cebuano or Visayan dialect.   My brother's ties to his future wife's family, starting in 1982, gave me further opportunity to visit and interact frequently, so that by the time I asked my wife's father for her hand in marriage (according to Filipino tradition), I had the full endorsement of my wife's uncle, who knew me since I was 13 years old back 1982.   That being said, observing a microcosm of Filipino culture here in the United States amongst a small number of relatively Americanized Filipino families only gave me a slight clue of what life might possibly be like in the Philippines.

In upcoming posts, I'll detail many of the adventures we've had as a family staying and traveling in the Philippines. I will attempt to provide some general information, tips and reviews about traveling in the Philippines, particularly in northern Mindanao and in and around Cebu, but also including Boracay, Baguio, and the Manila environs.  My family and I have a penchant for spectacular natural features (waterfalls, beaches, mountain vistas, etc.), historical sites, and even shopping malls, and I will try to highlight and discuss objectively many of these destinations.   During our visits, we also try to balance visits of luxury beach resorts and hotels with visits to dramatically more modest settings, particularly in the rural provinces.  There, in the provinces, lie arguably the most beautiful features of the Philippines and its people - verdant rice fields backdropped by hazy emerald volcanic mountains beneath billowing cumulus clouds with farmers using carabao (water buffalo); bamboo-thatched nipa huts as a primary  means of housing for many subsistence farmers, "multicab" trucks of amazingly narrow width carrying full loads of people or agricultural products, gorgeous coconut plantations with sweeping seaside vistas, mahogany groves interspersed with camote (root crop) in the foothills and mountains, and along almost every road every few hundred meters, the ubiquitous nipa or corrugated steel-fronted sari-sari roadside store with its ubiquitous Coca-Cola sign stating the family name of the shop owner.  Additionally, I will discuss aspects of Philippine culture and the Filipino people, as well as the joys and challenges of traveling as a family in the Philippines.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Human and wolf skeletons reveal a life and death struggle at the edge of the Great Black Swamp

Given my passion for history, archaeology, artifacts, coins, etc.,  I sometimes wonder what occurred in history or even pre-history on the site of what is now my house and backyard.  I've always been a little envious of people who have found artifacts on or near their own property.  When I was a kid, I would go to my aunt and uncle's farmhouse in northwest Ohio and join my cousins in looking for arrowheads and other "Woodlands Indians" artifacts in their soybean fields abutting the Sandusky River.   In addition to arrowheads, they would frequently find discoid artifacts, hockey-puck shaped smooth black stones about 2 or 3 inches in diameter which were definitely not derived from the local rocks, flint drill "bits", and some presumably atlatl counterweights made of some kind of polished banded stone.   Of course, during all of our excursions down into those fields, I would find nothing...

The following is an interesting story, for which unfortunately I cannot return to interview the eyewitnesses to gather further details.  My father's uncles, long deceased, farmed on the ancestral land in rural Seneca County, Ohio, in Liberty Township, just a few miles east of Fostoria, Ohio.  I will attempt to get this pinpointed on Google Maps and post the file on this blog at some point in the future.  Back in I believe the 1920's when they were young men, they were walking the fields probably while plowing with a horse, and found in the soil at their feet a human skeleton, with the corroded remains of a flintlock rifle or musket in immediate proximity.  Directly adjacent to the human skeleton, and only a few feet away, they found the skeletons of several (I believe three) wolves, and I think there was evidence of a bullet in at least one of these wolves.   Clearly a life-and-death struggle had occurred, and unfortunately this person lost the battle, only after taking out several of the wolves.   According to my father, the county sheriff was contacted and arrived to assess the scene, which was obviously not a contemporary scene of foul play.  I do not know what became of the skeleton or whether records exist in the courthouse or sheriff's office logs about this incident, but it would certainly be interesting to know.   

At the time when this person (presumably a man) succumbed to the wolves, this particular location (very close to Wolf Creek, a tributary of the Sandusky River) would have been either on the southern-most border of the Great Black Swamp, or would have been in the primeval forest just south of that border.   I have read accounts of my own ancestors who also settled in Huron County (just to the east) in 1836, who noted how huge bonfires had to be lit at night to keep packs of marauding wolves away while their first log cabins were in progress; this seems to be a common theme from other accounts that I have read from the region prior to the 1840's. It is my understanding from reading various accounts that after 1840 concerted efforts were made to eradicate wolves from the Northern Ohio counties by mass amounts of hunters turning out to hunt and trap inward from a perimeter, thereby "tightening the noose" on the wolves in any given acreage of woods.  

I am intrigued by the identity of this person, the date of his death, and the circumstances surrounding his death.   Did this occur in the winter, when he was perhaps already weakened from frostbite, exposure, and wet/icy buckskin leggings and moccasins?  Was he wounded already?   Was he an American from the 1830's or 1820's, a French trader from a much earlier period, a British agent from the 1700's traversing from the Sandusky valley to Detroit and trying to avoid crossing the Great Black Swamp, or a Native American perhaps armed by the British?  Did he get lost in the dark, unable to build a fire before sundown to safely camp due to a cold and rainy November afternoon?  Was he sick from cholera or typhoid or yellow fever, and therefore an easy target for the wolves (I doubt he was too incapacitated given the evidence of the valiant fight he gave)?  Could he have been a separated survivor or wounded straggler from the ill-fated Crawford (1782) or St. Clair (1791) expeditions, a deserter from the Legion of America, led by the harsh disciplinarian General "Mad Anthony" Wayne (1794), or was he simply an immigrant farmer hoping to settle with his family and make a decent living?   I am sure we will never know.

Friday, November 11, 2011

1814 O-105a "single leaf" capped bust half dollar and the Second Treaty of Greenville

The photos below are of an 1814 capped bust half dollar, which is an O-105a variety, an R4 in rarity, and quite scarce... an elusive coin.  It also happens to be a variety that is listed in what is referred to as the "Red Book", but what is actually titled "A Guide Book of United States Coins", by R.S. Yeoman and Kenneth Bressett.  There's an link to this book on the right-hand side of this page if you're interested - it's been published annually for about the last 64 years, and is an incredibly informative and well-illustrated (photos) reference for a very economical price.  

The reason that this half dollar is a Red Book variety is because on the reverse, directly under the eagle's left wing (from the observer's perspective, not the eagle's), there is what appears to be a single leaf at the topmost part of the olive branch, where normally there are two leaves paired together.  This is because at the Philadelphia Mint in 1814, over time the reverse die probably became clashed and someone at the mint aggressively "lapped" or polished the die in this position to remove the surface defect, and in the process the upper pair of leaves were reduced to a thin remnant resembling a single leaf.  This particular variety, among other early capped bust halves, is known to have a bit of a "raccoon eye" effect on Miss Liberty, which is fairly notable on this half.   

My wife, who did not know this capped bust half dollar was an R4 variety, chose this for me at a flea market in Tampa, and picked it up for only I think about $63 or $70.  It has been cleaned in the past but only just mildly. I think that for $70 for a nice, early date, historic, R4 rarity bust half that is also a Redbook variety, she (accompanied by my daughter) did really well, and I was very pleasantly surprised/thrilled, and also very proud of her "cherrypicking" a great bust half at a cheap price without having knowledge of the variety.   

1814 O-105a capped bust half dollar obverse

1814 O-105a capped bust half dollar reverse

In contemporaneous U.S. history, the year 1814 was extremely important in the ongoing but waning War of 1812.  Military actions included but were not limited to the battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, at which Francis Scott Key composed the United States' national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner.  In the vicinity just a short distance southwest of the Great Black Swamp, in Greenville, Ohio, on July 22, 1814, General William Henry Harrison and Governor Lewis Cass (of Michigan territory) negotiated on behalf of the United States government a second treaty with the Wyandot, Delaware, Shawnee, Seneca, Miami and Potawatomi at the same place where the original treaty had been negotiated in 1795.  This Second Treaty of Greenville was referred to as "A TREATY OF PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP Between the United States of America and the tribes of Indians called the WyandotsDelawaresShawanoeseSenacas and Miamies."  It provided peace among the tribes, and alliance of these Tribes with the U.S. against Great Britain during the War of 1812.   Shown below is a photo of a "peace pipe" given to the tribes by the U.S. government.

Peace pipe from Second Treaty of Greenville, 1814

This agreement illustrated the continued struggle between the British and the white Americans to establish allies with Ohio's Native American people, and the struggle of the Native Americans to maintain their land and preserve their way of life. This struggle had existed since the American Revolution, but with the United States' victory in the War of 1812, Ohio natives no longer had the British as an ally to assist them in inhibiting the westward migration of white Americans.



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