World’s Largest Burrito

The world’s largest burrito is a 12,785.576 pound behemoth made by CANIRAC La Paz, in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, last year. The burrito was made from one single flour tortilla that weighed over 2 tons and measured 1.49129 miles long. The filling was fish with onion, chile and refried beans — typical to the region of Baja California Sur.

Mrs. Lorena Hinojosa, owner of El Zarape Mexican Cuisine Restaurant and the leading lady of CANIRAC La Paz (National Restaurant Chamber, La Paz section) was the main organizer for this event. Mrs. Hinojosa and her team dealt with a lot of challenging situations.

The street was closed early on the morning of November 3rd and tables and mobile kitchens were set up. It took 12 hours of preparation, with 54 local restaurants participating and 3,000 chefs, gastronomy students and volunteers to achieve the record.

The Guinness Record judge, Ralph Hannah, stopped at each kitchen to weigh the ingredients to submit the info. They used a total of 1102 lb of beans, 441 lb of lard, 3 tons of onions and peppers and 3 tons of fish machaca.

After it, they sliced the burrito and held a fiesta for over 27,000 people!

Black Tires is More Than Cosmetic

Originally rubber tires were white, which is the natural color of rubber.  In the early 1900s, Binney & Smith began selling their carbon black chemicals to Goodrich Tire Company, when it was found that the use of carbon black in rubber manufacturing significantly increased certain desirable qualities for rubber meant to be turned into tires.  Binney & Smith later switched to making school products, and, eventually, re-named their company after their most popular product, Crayola Crayons.

Carbon black is used as a reinforcing filler in rubber, increasing the durability and strength of the rubber.  Adding about 50% by weight of carbon black increases the road-wear abrasion of the produced tire by as much as 100 times and improves the tensile strength of the tire by as much as 1008%.  The tensile strength is the amount of force needed to pull something to its breaking or bursting point.

Adding carbon black also helps conduct heat away from certain hot spots on the tire; specifically, in the tread and belt areas, which can get especially hot at times while driving.  This reduces thermal damage on the tire, further extending its lifespan.

Carbon black itself is nearly pure elemental carbon in colloidal particle form.  It is generally made by simply charring any organic material.  Examples of this are Ivory Black, made by charring ivory or bones, and Lamp Black, made from the soot of oil lamps. Carbon black for industrial use today is typically produced as Furnace Black and Thermal Black.  Furnace Black is produced using heavy aromatic oils.  Thermal Black is produced using natural gas, generally methane, injected into a very hot furnace where, in the absence of much air, carbon black and hydrogen are produced.

Rather than using carbon black in shoes, the more common additive to the rubber is fumed silica, which has similar reinforcing properties as carbon black, but leaves the rubber white.  The downside of using silica-based additives on automotive tires is that they have much worse abrasion wear properties than tires with carbon black.  They do, however, offer better handling on wet surfaces and have a lower rolling loss, which increases fuel efficiency.  Because of this, there are some tires that are beginning to be made with silica-based additives, instead of carbon black, but they are still relatively rare.

Kasey Anderson – I Was a Photograph

Kasey Anderson performs a haunting tune called “I Was A Photograph.” Kasey has dedicated it to Marine Lance Corporal James Blake Miller whose image was made famous when a his photo was published in 150 newspapers around the country in 2004. Due to Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, his life has come apart at the seams. Where is the help for him, and where was the help for those who returned from Vietnam? Who are we, that we allow our tax dollars to be used for war, but don’t take care of our returning veterans. Here are Kasey Anderson, Dan Lowinger, Sean Cronin, and Julian Macdonough with “I Was A Photograph.”

James Blake Miller in Fallujah, Iraq

Napoleon’s Brother Who Lived in New Jersey

As Napoleon Bonaparte conquered much of Western Europe, he doled out the spoils of war to his friends and family, in a grand gesture of nepotism. Napoleon’s older brother Joseph, described by historians as an “idealist, mild mannered, and lacking in vigor,” had wanted to be a writer, but instead followed his father into a law career, due to family pressures. His brother, however, had even different plans for him, and installed him first on the throne of Naples and later, Spain.

Joseph Bonaparte

King Joseph was reluctant to take each of the positions, and didn’t fill either one very well. He was no more than crowned in Spain, than a popular revolt against French rule began. Joseph suffered a string of defeats as he and French forces engaged what was left of the Spanish regular army, and he asked his brother if he could abdicate and return to Naples. Napoleon wouldn’t have it. He left Joseph to keep a tenuous grasp on his army (the generals under his command insisted on checking with Napoleon before carrying out any of Joseph’s orders) and kingdom. Unable to beat back the rebels and their English allies, Joseph abdicated his throne in 1813, after having ruled for just over five years.

After Napoleon’s defeat and forced exile, the Bonaparte name wasn’t winning Joseph any friends in Europe, so he fled to the United States under an assumed name, and with the crown jewels of Spain stashed in his suitcase.

He initially settled in New York City, then moved to Philadelphia, where his house at 260 South 9th Street became the center of activity for America’s French expatriate community. He eventually moved to an estate of more than 1000 acres in Bordentown, New Jersey, twenty-five miles northeast of Philadelphia along the Delaware River. It was called Point Breeze. There, Joseph Bonaparte, former King of Naples and Spain, brother of Napoleon I, Emperor of France, took the title of Comte de Survilliers and melted into quiet, suburban exile. His American neighbors and friends still called him Mr. Bonaparte and referred to his home as “Bonaparte’s Park”.

Bonaparte Mansion

Bonaparte constructed a vast mansion for himself, with a large wine cellar, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, elaborate crystal chandeliers, marble fireplaces and grand staircases. His library held the largest collection of books in the country at the time, numbered at eight thousand volumes. The Library of Congress at the time only contained 6500 volumes.

The land surrounding the mansion was elaborately landscaped and featured ten miles of carriage paths, rare trees and plants, gazebos, gardens, fountains and an artificial lake stocked with imported European swans.

Bonaparte’s home became a social hub for both his New Jersey neighbors, who liked to spend quiet afternoons browsing his library, and American and European elites. Among the distinguished guests who came through Point Breeze were John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Stephen Girard, a French banker from Philadelphia who was then the richest man in the U.S.

Bonaparte’s wife did not accompany him to America, and he did not see her for 25 years after he left. He did, however, have another frequent guest at the house, his mistress, Annette Savage. Bonaparte had met Annette, the then 18-year-old, French-speaking daughter of distinguished Virginia merchants, while he was shopping for suspenders at her mother’s shop in Philadelphia. During their time together, Bonaparte and Annette would have two daughters, Caroline Charlotte and Pauline Josephe Anne.

In January 1820, Bonaparte’s mansion caught fire and burned to the ground. His neighbors rushed to the house and managed to save most of the silver and his priceless art collection. Contemporary newspaper reports called the blaze accidental, but according to the gossip around town, an immigrant from Russia, set the fire as revenge for Napoleon’s invasion of her homeland.

Bonaparte was touched by his neighbors’ assistance, and expressed those feelings in a letter he wrote to one of the town’s magistrates:

All the furniture, statues, pictures, money, plate gold, jewels, linen, books, and in short, everything that was not consumed, has been most scrupulously delivered into the hands of the people of my house. In the night of the fire, and during the next day, there were brought to me, by laboring men, drawers, in which I have found the proper quantity of pieces of money, and medals of gold, and valuable jewels, which might have been taken with impunity.

This event has proved to me how much the inhabitants of Bordentown appreciate the interest I have always felt for them; and shows that men in general are good, when they have not been perverted in their youth by a bad education. … Americans are, without contradiction, the most happy people I have known; still more happy if they understand well their own happiness.

I pray you not to doubt of my sincere regard.

—Joseph, Count de Survilliers

Bonaparte rebuilt his mansion and remained in New Jersey. He took ill and returned to Europe in 1839. When he died in 1844, Point Breeze passed to his grandson, who sold it and most of its contents at auction three years later. Some of the furnishings and paintings are now in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

The Bonapartes had another American connection. Napoleon’s younger brother, Jérôme, visited the United States in 1803 and fell in love with Elisabeth Patterson, the daughter of a wealthy Baltimore merchant. They married that same year, but Napoleon did not approve and ordered his brother back to France. Jérôme went home, annulled his marriage, remarried, and became King of Westphalia. But not before consummating his marriage to Elisabeth. She was already pregnant when Jérôme left the U.S. and gave birth to another American Bonaparte.

The stateside branch of the family tree produced some notable members, including Charles Patterson Bonaparte, Secretary of the Navy under Theodore Roosevelt, but petered out a few decades ago. Jerome-Napoleon Patterson Bonaparte, great-grandnephew of Napoleon I, was walking his dog in Central Park in 1943, when he tripped over the leash, cracked his skull open on the ground and died.

World’s Oldest Cake?

Most people throw out their leftovers after a few days, or at the most, a few weeks. But a museum in England is displaying a 113-year-old wedding cake that’s being called the world’s oldest.

The Willis Museum in Basingstoke, Hampshire, says the delicately decorated Victorian cake was baked in 1898.

The confection has browned over the years and suffered a crack after a World War II bomb blast, but it has survived for more than a century, first in a baker’s window and then in storage, before being donated to the museum.

A recent investigation with a syringe revealed that the fruitcake inside is still moist.

World’s Youngest Grandmother

A woman from Romania said she became the world’s youngest grandmother – at the age of 23.

Ridca Stanescu, who gave birth to her daughter Maria when she was just 12 years old, said she urged her daughter not to follow in her footsteps – but Maria gave birth to her son when she was just 11.

Now 25, Stanescu, said she wanted more for her daughter.

“I am happy to be a grandmother but I wished something else for Maria – and something else for me,” she said.

Stanescu said “marrying young” is a way of life in the Romanian gypsy culture. She was married at the age of 11.

“I did not try to stop my daughter getting married because this is the tradition, it’s what happens,” she said.