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Thursday, November 26, 2009


You can go back many millennia to that very first thanksgiving, but, for our Nation, let us honor our history books and settle on November of 1621 (we celebrate it on the fourth Thursday of November because President Franklin Roosevelt officially changed the date at least twice while in office, long after President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 first made Thanksgiving a national holiday, in August and November). An excellent summary is provided by Brian Handwerk.

This is all very complicated, but religious separatists left England, went to the Netherlands, did not like it, so got permission to land at the mouth of the Hudson River in America. They eventually sailed on my birthday, September 6, in 1620, on the Mayflower with 70 adults and 32 children (27 adult Pilgrims and 43 strangers). Sixty-six days later, either November 11 or 21 (depends on which calendar you use) they ended up far north of their intended landing point, but because of the difficult weather, chose to stay where they were, somewhere near Massachusetts or Connecticut, possibly at Plymouth named because they finally left England from the port of Plymouth.

But let's get to the heart of the matter about that theoretical first thanksgiving. Yes, the Pilgrims and their cohorts (about 50 of them) and 90 male indians from the Wampanoag tribe, did dine after their first crop season in the fall of 1621, but did not consume corn on the cob, potatoes, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. They might have had turkey, but most probably geese or duck, and it was not roasted. They did have venison. It was a celebration of harvest and thankfulness, for the indians did show them how to grow food, but, more so, because the two groups had a truce to fight off the larger Mohawk and Iroquois tribes. Interesting to note that just this month, these very same Wampanoag Indians filed a lawsuit to prevent the construction of America's first offshore wind farm. Nearly four centuries later, they are still protecting Nantucket Sound and preserving their tribal rituals.

There is more, for the History News Channel has 10 myths about Thanksgiving:

1. The first thanksgivings were held in Texas (1598), then Virginia (1619), where their ship Margaret (not Mayflower) should be the historical focus.

2. The Pilgrims landed in Providence (Connecticut), not Plymouth Rock (Massachusetts), and the correct spelling should be Plimoth.

3. They did not wear black with those funny buckles, shoes and hats.

Today (and you only have three days left) re-experience this beginning at Plimoth Plantation, which comes equipped with Mayflower II (at a separate site). They are located around 40 miles south of Boston, and celebrate thanksgiving every day from late March to late November.

Map showing location of Plimoth Plantation and Mayflower II

Yes, be thankful and feel blessed, but for a few smiles, go to "How to Roast a Turkey."

One more diversion: Black Friday. There is Black Monday, when the stock market crashed on October 17, 1987. Also, Black Tuesday, September 29, 1929, leading to the Great Depression, which was preceded by Black Thursday on October 24. There is a Black Wednesday, but that is an esoteric British event. Anyway, Black Friday, has nothing to do with the stock market, for this is the term used for the day after Thanksgiving, and black is good, for that is the color of profit (red means a negative balance), symbolizing the day when companies begin to make money after being in arrears for the year until that day. Shopping begins at midnight on Thanksgiving for some stores, although many stores open at a more humane hour of 6AM.

The November-December shopping period last year was the worst in 40 years. There are more sales this year, and our economy appears to be recovering, so investors are hoping for the best. If the worst happens, maybe there will be a Black Monday for the stocks, but, actually, there is another Black Monday now immediately following Thanksgiving: cyber-sales! And I bought Amazon. com at $16.64/share.

So virtual sales are returning, and, why online works is that it is "safer" to make purchases away from home and prying eyes, especially, if you did not want to face the crowds over the weekend.

I noticed that while we were on holiday, all world markets fell, with Japan dropping more than 300 to 9082 (-3%). It appears that Dubai is crashing, and those countries heavily invested there will truly Japan. I also noticed that the Dow Jones Industrials futures were down around 250, so Friday could be scarily depressing. Is this a good time to sell short? I'm not a day trader. I'm a lifetime buyer. However, I'm tempted to take unusual action.

Super Typhoon Nida, now at 155 MPH, is expected to make a sudden turn to the east, and should now miss Japan:

As reported yesterday, Earth Observatory by NASA had Super Typhoon Nida over the Philippines, with reports of deaths and floods, but that was because this page was posted on 19May2004. So that was the confusion.

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