If you recall, several months ago, I reported that a certain member of the Houston Rockets was expecting to become a father as his wife was pregnant with their first child. It was not just another basketball player. The player in question was none other than Yao Ming whose popularity probably exceeds that of any basketball player in the world due to his giant fan-base found in his native China. For that same reason, he probably ranks near the top of the list of all professional athletes when it comes to world-wide name recognition. Now, when I reported on the pregnancy announcement, I had suggested that perhaps his child may be the catalyst for world peace. While that mayor my not prove to be true, I’m not so sure there won’t be some rough spots before we get to that point. See, Yao and his wife, Ye Li had a baby girl on May 21, 2010. But, here’s the catch: the little girl was born in Houston. That means that, by birth, she is an American citizen. But, China forbids dual citizenship and both of her parents are Chinese citizens. Hmmm…could be a bit of international intrigue before we get to my ideals of global cooperation. For months now, stories have circulated concerning fans in China asking if the child would be a Chinese citizen. So far, I believe the answer, if there is one, remains in the minds of the parents.
At the time of the pregnancy news, the China Daily ran a story regardling speculation of how tall the child would be given that Ye Li is 6’2″ and Yao is 7’6″. For the record, the baby came in at a fairly pedestrian 7 pounds 6 ounces (though some sources claim 9 ounces). In the meantime, there have been several birth announcements in the press. Most, like the USA Today article, are simply reprints of the AP story. The Houston Chronicle had its own story but it included just two short paragraphs. The Singapore Straits Times wasn’t much more helpful. And suprisingly, the China Daily birth announcement was also not filled with much more than anything else except for one line. In relation to the question whether or not the child would be American or Chinese, it says the Mings consider the birth a “private” matter. I suppose that explains why there isn’t much more news on the subject other than the child was born. I suppose it remains for pundits to determine if that small statement is particulary telling or not.
On This Date in History: Frances Hiller was what we might call eccentric. The 18th century woman was married to a doctor who had made a fortune from a patented medicine that he had invented. Frances bought hundreds of hats and wore costly jewelry, even when gardening. Her odd ways may have dervied from the fact that she had 23 children! She was rather economical in that department as well as the 23 kids includes 7 sets of twins. That is amazing but its also quite sad because not a single child lived beyond infancy. So, she had attended a lot of funerals, which may explain her strange story.
While she lived, Frances Hiller planned her own funeral which included a very ornate casket. Dr. Henry Hiller hired a famous wood carver to fashion a pair of exquisite caskets. But, Hank went and died in 1888 before the caskets were finished. So, she kept her husband’s body in a vault until the work was completed. It had hand carved vines, cupids, bats, dragons and angels, which seems like a display of contrast. Perhaps the angel was slaying the dragon. If the angel was doing battle with the large reptile, it would have to watch out for the skull that featured lizards crawling out of the eye socket. When the finally got around to burying Henry, he was taken in his fabulous casket in a procession that marched to the sounds of a military band and was escorted by a procession of 2000 people.
In 1893, she married her chauffer…..a boy toy perhaps? I dunno but part of the deal was the guy had to change his name to Henry Hiller. I suppose thats not a bad trade from being a chauffer to being married to a rich widow. Anyway, she was married but kept her casket handy…even on display in her parlour. She would climb into it and show visitors how she would look when she was dead. She even had a life-sized wax replica of herself made to place in the casket so she could see what she’d look like six feet under. Finally she died in 1900 and I bet the chauffer didn’t sign a pre-nuptual agreement so he made out pretty well.
So, she finally got her wish and made it to the casket on this date in 1900. It was a duplicate of the one Henry had used. The wood was of the finest quality which means it was quite heavy. It took 10 men to carry it. The funeral car was drawn by 4 black horses with black netting. The funeral car sagged terribly from the weight and almost fell apart. A journalist who was on hand said that the excitement and hoopla was only matched by the local cattle fair. Frances was placed in an enormous masoleum that were quite a site…but in 1935, they were condemned as an eyesore. The cemetery tore it down and buried the couple in their ostentatious coffins. Today, all that remains are an urn and bronze plates that mark the location. This brings to mind the old adage…you can’t take it with you.
Weather Bottom Line: We have a summer-like week ahead. A big fat ridge over the eastern US will prevent any major systems coming in. Look for highs generally in the mid 80′s for the first part of the week followed by upper 80′s thereafter. Our dewpoints on Sunday afternoon were already in the upper 60′s and there is no reason to think it will get any drier anytime soon. So, with that type of moisture content and pretty warm temperatures, we may get a pop up afternoon t’shower or two each afternoon but, for most, it will be a pretty boring week ahead with any rain that falls being the exception rather than the rule. It’s okay. After all the rain we’ve had, boring isn’t a bad thing for awhile. Oh…BTW…I’ve seen for many days now the models trying to put a 1008 or 1004 mb low off the SE coast of the US later in the week. With hurricane season getting going on June 1, don’t be surprised to see this feature showing up on local and national newscasts. The general consensus is that the hurricane season will be more active than average, which fits into the idea that we are in the midst of a cycle of a more active tropical Atlantic which has been observed and noted for a long time before the idea of global warming came to the public conscience. So, while there may be an attempt to connect the forecast with climate change, it may not hold water.