The HumpDay Anniversary Edition!! 🎉🎊📝
One Year of HumpDay!
This week marks the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the HumpDay Newsletter. A year ago, we set out to tell a story and brighten up peoples week. Since then, we have told 152 stories covering everything from archeology to zoology. If we combined every HumpDay Newsletter into a book it would be more than 175 pages long and contain more than 52,000 words. More than words, the year of HumpDay Newsletters contains 200 links to related content and entertaining videos.
The first year of HumpDay included a lot of challenges (see all the different email formats) and a lot of experimentation (remember HumpDay Healthy Helpings?!?) but through it all the readership has continued to grow and has always been engaged and supportive.
Thank you to all the readers for taking time out of your busy week to read the HumpDay Newsletter and for sharing your thoughts and feedback to help the newsletter grow. Thank you so much for your support over the past year and we hope for more years of HumpDay Newsletter to come!
It is a widely known though often misunderstood fact that male seahorses give birth to baby seahorses. That fact causes most people to ask, “well isn’t the male seahorse just the female seahorse since it has the babies?”. The answer to that question is a little confusing but it also highlights a quirky remix to the normal reproductive patterns of animals.
Seahorses are fish, even though they look like little dragons. Like other fish, they reproduce by laying eggs that are fertilized and eventually hatch (live birth only occurs in mammals). Unlike other fish, when a female seahorse lays eggs, the male seahorse does not just leave them lying on the seafloor to be eaten by some other fish. Instead, male seahorses protect their eggs by storing them in a pouch, much like a kangaroo’s pouch, until they hatch. When the eggs finally hatch, the newborn seahorses swim out of the male’s pouch giving the appearance that they are giving birth to the babies, even though they are not.
In short, male seahorses don’t really give birth to their young, but they are the kind of over protective dads that answer the door with a shotgun on prom night.
Born on the tiny Caribbean island of Nevis, American founding father Alexander Hamilton was raised by a single mother after his father abandoned their family. His mother had him out of wedlock which made her unable to remarry according to social standards of the day. The family was devastatingly poor and from a young age Alexander had to go to work to support his family.
When Alexander was only 17 years old, he went to work at a local merchant where he used his incredible intellect to build a successful enterprise managing the imports and exports of the small island. Unfortuantely, as he got his first taste of success and financial stability he came down with a deadly fever that almost took his life. His mother also contracted the fever and while Alexander eventually recovered, his mother did not survive. Orphaned as a teen, Alexander struggled to survive on his own. Just after his mother passed, a massive hurricane wiped out the island of Nevis and Hamilton’s community was devastated by the wreckage. Everyone on the island was fighting for survival and desperately in need of assistance.
Alexander Hamilton was a bright young man and a talented writer. He decided to use his writing skill to help rebuild his community. Penning a letter to his friend on the Island of St. Croix, Hamilton described the wreckage of the hurricane and the utter despair of the people on the island. His letter was so detailed and moving that it was passed around the island of St. Croix.
Moved by the touching words of Hamilton’s description of the hurricane, the businessmen of St. Croix collected funds to support the hurricane relief effort. In addition, seeing the incredible writing skills of Alexander Hamilton, they raised funds to send Alexander to New York city to get an education at Columbia University.
Hamilton went on to become a war hero, statesman, and founder of the national bank. His selfless act of trying to raise funds to help his community led to him becoming one of the most influential men in American history. Just goes to show how a simple letter (or newsletter) can change the world 😊
Marathons are brutal. As HumpDay has covered in previous newsletters, the first person to run a marathon dropped dead of exhaustion. Still, thousands of people pay money to run 26.2 miles every year. Although todays marathons are some of the most optimized sporting events in the world, the 1904 Olympic marathon was far from organized.
In 1896 the modern Olympics was created in Athens, Greece. 8 years later, the Olympic games were hosted in St. Louis, Missouri. The 1904 games were supposed to be held in Chicago, but they were suddenly moved to align with the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair. The city of St. Louis was ill prepared to host the Olympic games and their lack of preparation was exemplified in Olympic marathon. The race course started in St. Louis and ran through the local suburbs. At the turn of the century, cars were not as popular so most of the roads were not paved. Sources at the marathon described the roads and “dust bowls” with lose dirt and a lot of rocks.
Race officials and coaches drove cars in front of the runners to ensure they followed the correct route. The officials’ cars kicked up the loose dirt on the roads and caused the runners to inhale dust throughout most of the race. One runner, William Garcia, was found lying on the ground at mile 19 vomiting blood. He had ingested so much dust from the race track that the lining of his stomach had been nearly sanded off.
In addition, the temperature on race day exceeded 100 degrees and was extremely humid making running conditions extremely dangerous. Even worse, there was only one water stop on the route at mile 12. The water was from a local well and most of the runners were not accustomed to local water, so they got violently ill after drinking it. The favorite to win the race, John Lordon, was the 1903 Boston Marathon champion and considered the best distance runner in the world. Due to the incredible heat, dust, and poor running conditions, he only made it two blocks before vomiting and quitting the race.
This race included a whole host of crazy characters including one man who ran in a long sleeve shirt and pants (4th place), and two African men that ran their first marathon that day and did it barefoot (one finished 9th). The eventual champion was a man named Thomas Hicks that was trained by a man named Charles Lucas. Charles Lucas had a unique approach to training marathon runners. He insisted that runners did not need water to preform at peak performance so, on a 100-degree day, he decided to dehydrate Thomas Hicks as he ran the marathon.
By mile 16, Hicks was dehydrated to the point of nearly collapsing but his trainer refused to give him anything to drink. In order to provide his runner with the fuel needed to finish the race, Lucas gave Hicks raw eggs for protein. In order to give him an energy boost, he gave him strychnine (aka rat poison) and gave him brandy to wash down the rat poison and dull the pain of running.
By the end of the race, Thomas Hicks had finished a fifth of a liter of brandy and taken multiple doses of rat poison without drinking any water. During the last mile, Hicks was hallucinating that he was still 20 miles from the finish. He finally finished with a time of 3 hours and 28 minutes (one of the slowest Olympic marathon times ever, not just for the winners). As he finished, he collapse and had to be carried to a hospital. In the 3.5-hour race, Thomas Hicks lost 8 pounds and nearly died of dehydration, exhaustion, and strychnine poisoning.
Of the 32 competitors in the 1904 marathon, only 14 finished. People got sick, severely injured, and nearly died. If this makes you want to reconsider running a marathon, we don’t blame you. If you are planning to run a marathon, at least it can’t be worse than the 1904 Olympic marathon… right?
This Week in History
On this week in 2001, Houston based energy company Enron filed for bankruptcy after years of failing financial performance. The company that had earned $111 Billion in revenue in 2000 had their shares fall from $91/share to $0.25/share in little over a year. It was later discovered that the company’s executives had been vastly over stating the company’s revenue and financial performance to keep share prices high until they could sell off all their stock. The collapse of Enron put more than 21,000 Enron employees out of a job and triggered the collapse of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen which resulted in 28,000 more people losing their jobs. The Enron scandal is still the largest corporate fraud in history.
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