Slugs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

What are Little Girls Made Of?

She walks home after school, same as she does every day—takes the same route, knows all the uneven edges on the sidewalk, and sometimes skips, trying to take two sidewalk sections at once. But rarely does she make it past a single section before landing on the crack. She muses, “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back,” stops, and thinks, “What a dumb saying.” Before she can ponder a deeper meaning, she feels her pulse rise. A thundering noise rises behind her. She turns. A loose dog is approaching. Fast.

That little girl was me, probably in the second or third grade. I ran, sure, but the dog ran faster. I screamed, and I think I actually scared the dog. He turned back. My heart still pounding, I watched him go. My legs wobbly, I went home and cried. Sugar and spice and everything nice. I forgave the dog, because, generally, I liked dogs, but I changed my route to another street.

What are Little Boys Made of?

Did someone say puppy dog tails? Not a contemporary description, but one that goes back a ways.The aforementioned rhyme, is attributed to poet Robert Southey, who, it is believed, added the stanzas to an older work, What Folks are Made Of. You can find his rhyme along with many other children’s nursery rhymes at The Project Gutenberg eBook of the Nursery Rhymes of England.

Dog Days

Rewinding back to when I was a little girl, I had a dog I adored. When I came home, he’d wag his tail wildly and almost fall over from the action. His name was Dino. After I married, we got collies. Spirit Boy was a lover boy, and Fred Dingle was a gentle doofus who would plop down with a groan as if to say, “Well, this is as good a spot as any for me to take a nap.” We’ve had other dogs, a Jack Russel Terrier named Frodo, a Cocker Spaniel named Opie (after Mayberry R.F.D., not folklorists Iona and Peter Opie, whose vast collection of children’s literature includes research on the puppy dog tails rhyme), a mutt or two along the way … all of them loveable companions who’d walk in my shadow and curl up by my feet.

So when I consider the history of some breeds, I read and learn with disbelief. But the truth is that some dogs are bred for war. Not dogs that chase little girls for sport, but dogs that tear the neck and gut of their victims. Human victims.

Pecos Pueblo

The author in a Pecos Pueblo Kiva Ruin

The first Europeans to meet the Pueblo Indians of Pecos Pueblo, now a ruin near Santa Fe, NM, brought war dogs which they used to subdue and torture a man named Bigotes (long wiskers), and an elder whom they dubbed cacique, or chief.  The reason? They wanted information about a gold bracelet, the thinking being that one piece of jewelry must surely point to a cache of legendary wealth.

Despite the blood and torn flesh dangling from the dogs teeth, no one admitted to knowing anything about a gold bracelet. Those are the facts, but I wonder, were these dogs affectionate with their trainer—worthy of the tag, Man’s Best Friend?

Spanish war dogs were not the only variety of pups, but some were edible, some were full of fluffy hair that could be carded and used like wool yarn for clothing, some were bald. I found an interesting site you may find helpful to expand your knowledge of the doggy universe; Spanish War Dogs led me, at least, on a chase to find more information.

As I write stories, experience drives many descriptions, and truth is braided into fiction, a plait that I hope will instruct and entertain. I guess that’s why it’s called historical fiction.

Slugs and snails, snakes and snails … there are variations to the rhyme that stem from the full length version What Folks are Made Of, including what are soldiers, what are men, what are women and fathers and mothers too, but never are these mentioned: no dogs of war—no dogs of snore—no dogs at all.  No dogs. I wonder what Bigotes and the cacique would have thought of that.






Tomato History is a Blast

TNT is the yellow chemical compound trinitrotoluene commonly used for explosives, but in this post, I’m not talking detonation as much as transportation, although I must admit, a fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, and tomato saladwith a generous sprinkling of newly harvested, minty-peppery basilcan certainly blow me away.

Transoceanic Transplantation

Imagine a world without ketchup. Or pizza without tomato sauce. In fact, if you can (and despite the horror) delete from your memory banks any tomato based spaghetti sauce, salsa, gazpacho, ratatouille, soup, and (oh my, this is difficult) BLT sandwiches … without the T! Someone call Chef Boyardee, I may faint! (Click his name and check out his 1953 video.)

An Ancient Food

It is thought the tomato may have originated on the Galapagos Islands but somehow wound up in South America. As the tale goes, while Spanish explorer Hernán Cortéz was enjoying a stroll in the Aztec gardens of Montezuma, he stumbled upon a plump, shiny fruitprobably as small as a fat grape and as yellow as the suncalled a tomatl. He delighted in the discovery and brought some tomato seeds back to Spain.

For the sake of story, let’s say Mama Cortéz planted the seeds, cultivated them, and when they grew, took one look at the golden balls swelling roly-poly on the vine and declared them lovely. Of course! But because she thought they were poisonous, she kept them for ornamentation, not oral consumption. As did everyone else. Except … the Italians. Enough said.

A Modern Dilemma

In which refrigerator drawer must they be stored? Fruits? Vegetables? The answer is neither. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s begin with the question, are tomatoes a fruit or vegetable? To find the answer, you must know the definition of the word fruit, the word vegetable, and taxes. Yup. Taxes. And, believe it or not, the Supreme Court.

Consider … these definitions came from the same source.

Fruit: “The developed ovary of a seed plant with its contents and accessory parts, as the pea pod, nut, tomato, or pineapple.”

Vegetable: “Any plant whose roots, seeds, fruits, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves, or flower parts are used as food, as the tomato, bean, beet …” wait a minute … why does one source name the tomato in both definitions? Guess that’s why the Supreme Court had to get involved. And their decision was … wait … again … why is tax an issue?

Tomato Tax: An 1883 tariff was implemented to protect domestic vegetable farmers by taxing foreign farmers and their imported vegetables. But the classification of the tomato was in question, so after a disgruntled non-citizen paid the tax, he also paid a visit to his lawyer.

In 1893, the Nix vs. Hedden case decided the tomato is a vegetable. Whew. Not only that, but they are one of the worlds healthiest foods. So raise your iced tomato juice high, and thank God for making the tomato.




Knowing Death May Come

They Go Anyway

Madrid, Spain, the stylish, hip, multicultural capital city, has captured my attention, so I swooped up the September 2014 issue of Architectural Digest to drink in the stunning photographs from the article “Maximum Madrid” and satisfy my hankering for exotic art I could enjoy in my living room.

Little did I know how soon the city would be affected with great sadness. No, not only the city, but the world.

Spanish missionary priest, Father Miguel Pajares, passed away at Carlos III Hospital after being sent there from Liberia where he served for over 50 years. He died from severe internal bleeding caused by the Ebola virus.

The virus also took the lives of Sister Paciencia Melgar Ronda, Superior of Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Monrovia, and Sister Chantal Pascale. There are others.

Why Risk One Life for Another?

The call to travel and serve others in foreign lands had its debut in antiquity. Abram left the Land of Ur after hearing God tell him to “Go forth.” The trek changed his life, no doubt, but newly dubbed Abraham, his obedience to the call also changed the course of history.

Many of the missionaries who served in the Old Spanish Missions probably heard a similar command.

The first martyrs in the New World, brother Luis de Ubeda, and Friar Minor fray Juan de Padilla, died sometime around 1542-44, the former in what is now New Mexico, and the latter somewhere around Kansas.

What motivated these men? Could the elder brother de Ubeda have suffered a weariness of travel and embraced a contentment to stay put? Did fray de Padilla long to find the riches of the fabled seven Portuguese Bishops who escaped Iberia in the eighth century? Did he hope to bring the Gospel to those Indians who are today known of as Wichita and Pawnee? Was it both? More?

Conviction without Contradiction

Recently, on the Today Show, host Matt Lauer spoke with Jeremy Writebol, whose mother, Nancy Writebol, is suffering from Ebola, and whose father is under suspicion of having the virus. When asked if his family would return to Liberia and serve those who are suffering, Jeremy said, “This is what they’ve been called to do, and this is what they feel in their heart–”

This is Their Mission

At the segment’s close, Matt commented, “This is not a hobby for them. This is their mission. This is their calling, and so there’s a better than average chance that they would want to be back with the people of Liberia.” . . . knowing death may come.


The Grain Exchange

Cathedral of Corn

Give and Take

I do this every day of my life. I give my time, my energy, my skills, my concerns, my knowledge . . . but not every action has sacrificial merit, for I would gladly take these things, and more, from anyone who is willing to give.

Give and take is the stuff of commerce, the barter of one thing for another, yet it’s more than the partnership of a business transaction. Without give and take, we risk losing our sensitivity, our compassion, our humanness. Without exchange, we become spectators whose witness is meaningless because it cannot be shared.

More Blessed to Give?

All give and no take is a high ideal. Saint Paul, in Acts 20:35, referenced Jesus as having said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” But I wonder, is this even possible? Consider: sometimes receiving is the harder part, and in humbling ourselves to receive, we actually give. Thinking of it this way, taking becomes a gift–a blessing to the giver when they see your joy in receiving.

Somewhere it’s Someone’s Birthday

Therefore, every day is a reason to celebrate. Recently, my family treated me to a meal at one of my favorite Colorado restaurants, The Fort. Occasionally, they offer specialty menus. I am not one to shy away from a possible gastronomic delight, no matter how unusual the selection, so, that day, I experienced an incredible smoky-sweet delicacy known to millions as corn smut. No, that’s not a typo.

Corn smut goes by other names too.


Huitlacoche (wee-tlah-KOH-cheh), Mexican corn truffle, corn mushroom, or cuitlacoche (queet-la-KOH-chay), a Spanish derivative of its Aztec name, is full of protein. That’s good. But it’s ugly. That’s bad. In fact, the Aztecs also referred to it as raven poo. Ugh!

This “mushroom” is sometimes used as a filling for tamales, enchiladas, and tacos, and when well prepared, this delicacy is creamy and a bit pungent. Just like you would expect from a parasitic fungus.

Corn Smut is a Gift

Prior to the explorations of Christopher Columbus, Europeans never heard of corn. When it finally came to Spain, it was a novelty to be admired, not eaten. How things have changed!

As foods were introduced to Europe, North and South America received new foods from Europe.

Foods Introduced to Europe included corn and potatoes (find more information in my posts listed under Legends of Food). And Europe provided a bevy of contributions to the New World: cabbage, onions, garlic, peas, barley, wheat, watermelon, cantaloupe, apples, and peaches. The Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries brought spices too: coriander (cilantro), fennel, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, and cumin (information I picked up at the Denver Botanic Gardens earlier this week).

This give and take inspired combinations and recipes for things like salsa, corn chips, and the ingenious Cuitlacoche Ice-Cream. Yep. Frozen fungus treats. For a link to the recipe, click here.

If you have a corn-smut recipe you’d like to share, I’m willing to take it. And make it. And eat it. And share.


Spanish Colonial Architecture

Lest it all disappear . . .

The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) supports heritage conservation around the world. This includes, but is not limited to, studying the impact of climate change on historical and natural property, identifying strategies to reduce natural and man-made disasters, and working to preserve historic structures.

In my study of the Old Spanish Missions, I also became aware of WHEAP, World Heritage Program on Earthen Architecture, and I am especially interested in their work with Taos Pueblo. This pueblo was introduced to Spaniards in 1540, as the Coronado expedition came through the area in search of the Seven Cities of Cibola and its imagined gold.

The first church at Rancho de Taos, San Geronimo de Taos, was built around 1620.  (The original missionaries’ church and convent lie in ruins west of the pueblo. Click here to view a short video from UNESCO about Taos.)

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Traditional adobe construction (sun-dried mud bricks reinforced with mortar) was used to build many of the missions that are now melting back into the earth from which they came. Other materials used to construct these missions included cobblestone, lime mortar, and timbers. These timbers were often hauled by Indian laborers from locations miles away from the construction site.

The ruin at Tumacácori National Park (a place which lights up the imagination–you should go) has been somewhat resurrected. Meandering through the courtyard, one can almost hear Gregorian Chant mingle with the Indians’ wooden flutes. The southern district is being investigated for possible misidentification by archaeologist and author Deni Seymour, the error relating to the date it was built and by whom.

Built to Last . . . Unless it Doesn’t

There is no doubt Iberian peninsula architecture was influenced by the Moors who, along with their conquest, brought their type of building construction to Spain. Mudéjar style developed in the 12th Century and is a synchronization of Moorish, Christian, and Jewish characteristics. It traveled with the Spanish across the Atlantic and impacted the assembly of churches, presidios, and haciendas.

Today, horseshoe shaped arches define southwestern style as much as wood beam (or ocotillo) ceilings. This proves my adage Linking Yesterday to Today remains viable. Or, as King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV), “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

But the Soul Lives Forever

Many churches were built over Indian Kivas, underground gathering places often used for religious purposes. (Although I have been inside a Kiva, I have friends who had never heard of them before, or friends who used to think kivas relate only to fireplaces. I tell them reading historical fiction is a fun way to learn stuff, so read!)

Not every priest was inclined to destroy a man to reach his soul. Some missionaries sought to integrate, rather than obliterate, native religious practices by allowing their traditions to mingle with those of Catholicism.

Spanish Renaissance architecture followed the Spaniards into the New World; the only thing that held them back from building imperishable structures was the availability of material and labor. Even so, many churches rivaled European cathedrals.

Interior decoration included the imaginative use of paint. While the Franciscans’ churches normally oriented from the east to the west, other religious orders had no defined orientation (save vertically). The nave (long corridor where parishioners worship) often had two wings (transept) attached about three-quarters of the way down. These wings formed (from a birds eye view) a cross. This tangible form acted to remind the occupants that they were always and intimately held within the Cross of Christ. Just like me.


Guest Blog from a Geeky Writer


Why would anyone choose to walk here?

by S.J. Abraham, Author of YA, Sci-Fi,and
Fantasy Worthy of the Geeks encourages you to
"Embrace Your Nerdy Side!"

I never step outside before dawn

to sip a cup of absurdly priced coffee, to stand for lingeringly meditative moments, to stare at the majesty of the Rocky Mountains as the sun rises. Nor do I sit down to write alfresco—the words flowing from my fingertips because of the tear-wrenching beauty around me.

In truth, I don’t like being out in nature much

—mostly because it makes me sweaty and tries to get on me. With luck, I’m still asleep way past dawn, and usually pass the entire day in air-conditioned, tech-assisted bliss without ever stepping outside. Colorado is utterly wasted on me.

But just because I’d rather sit in my nice office with power sockets, poop-free sitting surfaces, and lack of small stinging creatures doesn’t mean I’m not inspired by nature. On the contrary, I am regularly inspired by it, just probably not the way you think.

Nature can be more than a setting

it can be a villain. A really good one, because nature is scary.

Get those images of serene meadows and gently falling snow out of your head. Is there anything more awesomely frightening than a forest fire? Flesh eating bacteria? Bolt of lightning? Grizzly bear?

I’m a fan of nature as a villain because it’s unstoppable. You can fight it, try to outsmart it, but in the end nature wins. Always. It is patient, brutal and utterly without mercy—all great aspects for a villain. Even if you’re not writing the sort of story that needs a scary villain, nature can add great detail to your story.

Cave Opening

Bats like caves for a reason; they’re dark. And they’re great places to hide … something … like a villain.

Now, I can already hear some of you saying how your story takes place in a big city or mall or space station, and that nature can’t play a role. Not true. The natural world is all around us. From falcons nesting outside high-rise offices, deer in parks, and rats in the subway, we are surrounded by nature (and who knows what an ant stuck in the space station hatch might do? Grow? Colonize? Take over?).

According to a recent Popular Science article, city-dwellers haven’t been surrounded by this much wildlife for generations. Now, more than ever, nature should be threaded into our writing.

Animals aside, you can always touch on the weather. Set a scene in a storm—there’s no need to be cliché and make it a fight—but choose a romantic scene, or a moment of introspection. Add lightning tearing the sky and rain beating the windows, and you will create an intriguing juxtaposition that creates tension.

Or, take a dark moment for your character, place them in a sunny day, and summon your character’s seeming insignificance as the rest of the world continues without noticing their despair.


Nothing clears the mind so well as nature

Use nature to your advantage in the writing process. Whether you take a walk, watch the rain fall, or scratch a snoozing cat, nature can even help you break through writer’s block. Some people recommend having a small fountain on your desk or in your office. There are lots of explanations about it creating tranquility or allowing energy to flow, but in truth, it is part of something called the Shower Principal. Flowing water gives our ears something to listen to without engaging the language centers of our mind. This allows other parts of our brain to subconsciously work on that pesky block without us realizing, often providing those eureka moments.

sandy beach

What do you see? Stagnant puddles or an ocean shore? Give this scene a story.

Likewise, scent can be a huge part of stirring our minds to creative action. If you’re stuck, step outside and focus on the smells around you—the cut grass, the icy air, the hot pavement—they all have their own unique smell. Focusing on them can free your mind to process your problems. If you don’t want to leave the blessed shelter of civilization (like me) place a small, fragrant plant on your desk. I like Lemon Thyme, but cut flowers, rosemary, or any other plant you can stick your nose into may release your creative juices.

So the next time you’re looking to create a unique setting, make a villain, add description, break up exposition or dialogue, OR if you’re stuck in your creative process, turn to nature. You’ll be surprised how close it is even for “big-city” folks, and how well it works.

What from nature’s myriad of terrifying things turns you into a simpering child? What has nature inspired you to write?


Embrace Your Nerdy Side

Bio Pic 2

S. J. Abraham


S.J. Abraham is a writer working towards traditional publication. He’s a geek to the core and seeks to write stories that will inspire younger geeks to embrace their nerdy side and never look back. He writes a fiction blog at

Photos copyright Abraham Stopani 2014

Potatoes in My Pantry

What do you eat for breakfast? Cereal? Eggs? Cold mac and cheese tossed into the air while your open mouth awaits?

This morning, I made potato pancakes. On a hot griddle, I ladled thick batter of grated potatoes, onions, and egg into creamy, buttery pools and waited for the steam to rise.

Flip, crisp, plate, dollop (with plain yogurt), eat, and ahhhh.

The Tastiest First Meal of the Day

When I am in Las Cruces, NM, my favorite breakfast restaurant is The Shed (try the enchiladas, and ask for them with chorizo sausage). They give you a choice of pinto beans or potatoes, and good luck deciding which is better. They are both perfect. But the potatoes they serve are nuggets of crunchy, golden goodness that make the world a better place. At least until they’re gone!

Paradise from Peru

Genetic testing proves potatoes originate from southern Peru and northwestern Bolivia. Therefore, potatoes did not arrive in other parts of the world until after the Spaniards brought them to Europe in the 16th Century. The devastating 1845 potato blight and subsequent agricultural crisis, a precursor for Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables, was a result of disproportionate planting of a single variety. Societies poorest reliance upon a uniform crop was disastrous as it lacked resistance to certain viruses. If only the Irish farmers understood genetics, or at the least, knew how to preserve this cheap and nutritious food source.

When the Spaniards conquered the Incas, the victors made the Incas’ silver mine slaves, fed them indigenous tubers (which provided lots of energy to work hard), tried some themselves, named them patata, brought them to Europe, and changed the gastronomic world forever. But here’s something you may not know: the Incas figured out a way to preserve potatoes so that one crop could last for years!

The Ultimate Pantry Product

Here’s what they did:

During the cold winter months, they took lots of little potatoes, spread them on the ground, let them freeze overnight, waited for the sun to thaw them out, trampled them, let the squishy pulp freeze again (and again), rinsed them off, and let them dry in the sun. These freeze dried potatoes could last for a long, long time.

The finished product, called chuño, is available today as a flour, but in its land of origin, chuño is still used in its traditional form in many Peruvian and Bolivian dishes.

Since I love to cook, I am fascinated by this method of food preservation. I’ve scoured many websites and found this one to be particularly helpful (click here).  I have also decided to try growing potatoes. The ones in my pantry keep looking at me, so I may as well try.

From what I’ve read, it’s easy. Take a potato with eyes, quarter it, throw it into a hole in the ground, water it, and wait. But I am a writer, not a gardener, so we shall see.

I’ll let you know how it grows.

In the meantime, here is another breakfast favorite I serve my family. But let me first caution you; there are no measurements or amounts. Use what you have. Try something new.

Chop up a bunch of boiled, cold potatoes. Chop up an onion, too. Dice some cooked ham, or bacon, or chicken. Throw everything into a pan of melted butter and heat it up. Add some herbs (I like thyme with potatoes, but basil is nice too). Squeeze half a lemon over it, and a dash of salt and pepper. If you’re really hungry, sprinkle grated cheese on top. Or an egg over easy. Listen to the sizzle, smell the buttery perfume. Guess I know what I’m eating for breakfast tomorrow!

“I think,” the sweet potato said, “therefore, I yam.”


Light a Candle for Me

I came as a tourist.

The small chapel that sits on the west side of Mission San Xavier (pronounced San ha-vee-air) del Bac, or as it is affectionately known, the White Dove of the Desert in Tucson, Arizona, is open to the faithful and the curious. I hail from both persuasions.

As I think about it, chapel may be too generous a word to describe what is only a tiny room, a place barely large enough to house, say, a five-piece luxury bath (double sink, toilet, bathtub, separate shower), except that the space is anything but luxurious.

Rustic, yes, humble, without question. It is a memorial.

The building faces the main church and lies at the end of a long courtyard enclosed by adobe walls, studded with empty niches.

I came as a spectator.

Upon entering the chapel, I was hit with a blast of beeswax heat. Hundreds of candles flickered around an altar dressed with plastic flowers, framed photographs, baby shoes, and other memorabilia. Written prayers or requests lay scattered next to the shrine. Plus, there were more little statues of saints than I cared to count.

Despite the heat, interior and exterior, people streamed inside. They knelt, crossed themselves, touched a painted statue of Christ, the flame on his forehead and on his heart, and prayed. They lit more candles and somehow found space (between metal holders, on top of stone pillars, on the dirt floor) to set them.

I came needing light.

The people inside the chapel were participants in an ancient ritual. Where did the tradition of lighting votive candles get its start? Christianity began with much persecution, and likely many first services were held in catacombs. Candles were a necessity. The utilitarian need became a sacred rite that continues to this day. The Reverend William P. Saunders, PhD, has done the research. Click here for a brief explanation.

At one point, two men whose beefed up bodies made me think they must be athletes, squeezed inside. They also knelt in prayer. When one of the men could not find a stick to light his votive, a woman standing near the altar gave him hers.

I will light a candle for you.

The day blistered with near noon heat. Mass was being celebrated in the large Mission church, and I listened to a reading from the book of Matthew (chapter 11, verses 25-30) via an outdoor speaker.

“. . . for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.

“My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”

This place, and the people who frequent it, belong to something beyond the natural world.

I found it hard to leave.

I came as a tourist with a camera. I left without taking a single interior photograph. To have tried to embed that atmosphere to an image on a page would have marred the beautiful image it placed in my heart.

West Chapel White Dove

The author at Mission San Xavier del Bac

The Death of the Ancients

Did the Spaniards of 1540 understand biological warfare? The use of attack dogs, who often wore their own suit of armor, is documented (la monteria infernal, or the hellish hunt, was the conquistadors’ sport of siccing Mastiffs on Native men, women, and children). But did they perceive how extensively European disease would decimate the Indian population?

Smallpox–Big Problem

From 1519 to about 1920, the continent of North America suffered a cataclismic loss of human life via the variola virus. It has been estimated that three-and-a-half million Aztec (Nahua Indians) died, along with countless other Native Americans.

Initially, smallpox symptoms include fever and aches that last from two to four days. The most contagious period follows, during which time a rash emerges in the mouth. These sores break open and spread down the throat. The rash moves across the face and extremities, but its distribution is not confined to those areas. As the red spots grow, the bumps fill with opaque liquid with a center depression (characteristic of smallpox). Some forms are more severe than others, (variola major, variola minor) but every form is agonizing, scarring, and can be fatal.

Loveless Charity

It has been suggested that officials in the USA government purposely ordered its army to distribute blankets infested with the smallpox virus to Indians. As frequently as this theory emerges, it has never been proven. The evidence we do have, however, does appear to abet the crime.

Generally speaking, smallpox is transmitted by prolonged contact from one person to another — although it can be spread by contaminated objects. Armed with that information, as always I encourage further investigation so that your opinion is evenly based (I suggest you begin with the Siege of Fort Pitt, and Pontiac’s War).

More Lethal than a Bullet

Germ warfare has a lengthy history that goes back to antiquity. Almost as soon as the first recorded word, we learn of parasitic fungus being dumped into drinking water systems. Poisoned arrows and spear tips are other obvious culprits. And if those aren’t bad enough, it gets worse.

In the Middle Ages, victims of bubonic plague were turned into weapons as their infected corpses and excrement were catapulted over castle walls. Although the mess splattered its vile sickness across stone floors, one thing is clear. The ingenuity to create weapons of mass destruction is as old as the caveman’s culling of fire.

Are You Smarter than a Conquistador?

While Spanish conquistadors did furnish the New World with an ample supply of variola virus, its spread was unlikely premeditated. On the other hand, while Mastiffs, as all animals are immune from smallpox, both dog and disease were able to be and often were lethal.

“Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” Jonathan Edwards, American theologian involved in the First Great Awakening, 1703 – 1758, cause of death: smallpox