ED'S HISTORICAL OVERHAUL (Chapter II: Columbus' journey)

Ed Conrad (edconrad@prolog.net)
3 Dec 1996 08:58:24 GMT

In response to the most favorable reaction to my recent posting --
that the first humans on the North American continent DID NOT
arrive by crossing the Bering Strait -- I graciously contribute more
interesting tidbits of historical rectification in order to help set
the record straight.


Sorry to put the cart before the horse but it is a popular
misconception to believe -- or, to utter whenever placing a small
wager -- that ``Columbus took a chance.''

The fact is, Columbus actually was assuming minimal risk when the
Nina, the PinTa and the Santa Maria pulled out of port to sail far
into the Ocean Blue in Fourteen-hundred-and-ninety-two.

The plain fact is, he knew what the hell he was doing.

Granted, Columbus didn't know for sure whether he'd actually discover
a new route to India -- his prime objective -- by sailing due west,
or whether he'd even reach previously unknown land.

But he knew, if the weatherman cooperated, he and his crews would be
as safe as if in their own beds.

(By starting his journey in October, it might be noted, Columbus
undoubtedly knew that the hurricane season was past. Ever wonder why
he didn't set leave port in May or June, a more logical choice?)

In any event, all Columbus and his crew needed was patience, patience
and more patience. Sail on! Sail on! Sail on!

The only thing somewhat unusual about the trip was the sight to behold
on a table in the center of Columbus' small cabin. It contained a
weird-looking contraption, a cumbersome boxed compass. And every once
in a while, the skipper glanced at the needle to make sure they were
staying on the due-west coarse.

Although invented more than a century earlier, the compass was
considered little more than an object of curiosity and nothing better
than an unusual child's toy. But Columbus, aware of its potential,
had been using his compass successfully for years.

On many previous trips into the Wild Blue Yonder, Columbus always
managed to arrive safely back at port in one piece, thanks to his

In fact, it got to the point that his closest friends stopped calling
him Chris or (his last name) Colon. They kiddingly started calling
him ``Columbo," the Latin word for pigeon.

Columbus earned their respect -- and the nickname -- because, to them,
he had developed a reputation as a homing pigeon. No matter in which
direction he set sail when bound for the open sea, he ALWAYS managed
to return.

That Columbus' most intimate friends spoke Latin should come as no
surprise, either, because, after all, he had been born in The Tyrol,
high in the Alps.

(It is generally -- and erroneously -- believed that Columbus was
Italian. For one thing, Italy didn't even exist back then).

Sail on! Sail on! Sail on!

``Okay, smartass," you're asking. ``What about a food supply?
If Columbus kept sailing and didn't reach land, wouldn't he and his
crew die of starvation?"

The answer, quite obviously, is *NO*.

This is because Columbus had a very high IQ.

Before any of his ships left port, numerous barrels containing a
variety of diffferent food items were placed aboard on one side in the
hold. Strangely, the same number of empty same-size barrels were
stationed on the opposite side in the hold.

Every mealtime, Columbus and members of the crew would fill their
plates to their liking, then walk over to the once-empty barrels and
dump the different food item items into the appropriate barrel.

Then they would return to the first batch of barrels and refill their
plates, then sit down and enjoy their hearty meal.

It was simple logic.

Columbus knew, by operating in this manner at mealtime, it virtually
guaranteed that no one would starve. See, when the food supply in the
original barrels was depleted -- and land had not yet been sighted --
it was the signal to turn the ships around and head due east, homeward

On the return trip, everyone aboard was assured of having as much to
eat as they had enjoyed in the first few days of their voyage.

Oh, yes, one final historical note: Columbus had yellow hair and a red
beard, conclusive proof that his roots were Tyrolean.

If you know anybody, or see anybody, with yellow hair and a red
beard, ask where their or great-grandparents were born. You'll be in
for quite a surprise.