Monday, October 3, 2011

HEEHEEEHEEE...I'VE BEEN NAAAAUGHTY!

            I was on the phone not too long back with OBA, the artistic overlord of all flatlanders, and I told him one of my favorite quips, “My female Blackfoot ancestors had NO problem with PMS…”
The following silence hung heavy for a long moment, clearly, OBA had no idea that a joke was coming…
“… ask G.A. Custer, those gals enjoyed every minute of it!”
OBA exploded in laughter.
I love that line.
As the title above today implies, I have lots of fun with my more wicked self, and I do so often, or at least, when the work is driving me crazy, and I just can’t make it make sense once again at the obvious end of another effective working day…
It is at moments like that I get into something I have long described as “white mice games…”
Okay, fine, I will agree, building little tiny mazes and seeing whether or not the muggles we meet will notice that they are in one and then to get them to run it… is not too nice…but call it my version of a sorting hat.  And it is better than pasting a pig’s tail on the truly deserving.
I do play nicer if they notice…
And nicer still if they laugh…
A recent series of e-mails will illustrate one such white mice game…
I gave it the same subject line as today’s entry, as always, the names have been changed to protect the … well, the ones in on the joke … some nice characters with more than a little innocent anarchist in their souls …
Forget about marching to a different drummer, these are some of those “samba’ing” through life to entirely different instruments in the orchestra, and you’d never notice them on the street if you saw them ….

SUBJECT: Heeheeeheee...I've been naaaaughty!

 Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 6:29 PM
TO: Singer (the teacher married to Charlie Brown, yes they both laughed at the names I tagged them with), Skyeyes(my #3 sib, trust me, it fits in more ways than one), OBA (I am not sure I really want to know for certain what that means, but I have my guesses, ROTFL), Big A (it’s where he’s from, this guy is a hoot)
Dear All,

Snuck in behind scenes at Wiki, and changed the Zheng He entry.

Added Fengtu (USA) to the list of visited locations on 7th voyage...

Footnoted (though not as well as I might like) the source of info as Luo's epic.

Gleefully maintained clinical detachment in limiting comments to that
Luo's  book is considered historically accurate, but that the actual
location of Fengtu has yet to be fully verified.

Thought I might get away with the addition if I did, but still force
the issue to be examined more closely.  Also commented that if it is
to be believed, that official reports of location of Zheng He's demise
are probably "hinky as all get out." (though not in those words!

Left that bit dangling to drive folks nuts enough to look into it for
themselves.

Now to pop popcorn and sit back and watch the firework... LOL, I am
such a closet pyro!!! I just love fireworks... whatever the source
....

mwah ha ha ha...
Dragon Hunter Lady
Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 6:39 PM
FROM: Singer
Sounds FUN....
Sat, Oct 1, 2011 at 2:46 AM

Hey, DHL,

Cerfs them right!
Can you get in and mess with that somewhat rotten Piasa Bird Entry??????????
OBA
Sun, Oct 2, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Dear OBA,

Wanna go for a tag-team event on that?  It's been corrected in recent
past by someone with a brain who had a clue.... some DORK "corrected
it back to WRONG again!!!!

***LOUD WHOOPEE CUSHION IMITATION IN PROGRESS ***

Not amusing what idiots will do to maintain their stupid!!!!

I wanna go so Blackfoot on Custer on the fool who pulled that!
DHL
Sun, Oct 2, 2011 at 11:50 PM

DHL,

don't know the first thing about correcting or adding to Wiki-Poopia. It is a big con job.
Check the "entry" on the somewhat infamous packet Sultana.  Built by Lithoberry and it is listed as a steamship.  How about Lithurbury and steamboat?

Won't even comment on the Philip J. Lang page!

Speaking GAC.  Where do you find documentation on Libbie's life insurance policy on
George?????????

(my note to you to explain this tidbit: this comment was made in re, my previous comment in the same phone call mentioned above that Ms. Custer is also famous for cashing in the first million dollar policy ever issued … on her darling, dead GAC, of course…SMART girl, she knew an oncoming disaster when she saw one …apparently…)

OBA 
Following this e-mail,
I last commented to OBA that I didn’t know where to verify all that, but I had seen in on some documentary years back…
This thread of converse continues on even as we speak…
Such is the life of the Dragon hunters!
The gist of all this being…
Yup, there are fools out there who get their jollies correcting correct corrections …
Argh…
There endeth the lesson…
For now …

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

OKAY, YEAH, ANOTHER SIDETRACK…

            Yeah, two postings in one day, don’t get too used to it…
            The evening news just ended and I’m in the mood to rant, and with some cause, get used to me doing it, from time to time, you can write it off as a middle-aged chick thing.
I’ve been chewed out, and royally so by people who are totally anti-China & pro-Tibet, anti-China & anti-communism, pro-Saint Christopher Columbus & anti-“any whispers about Chinese exploration”, pro “God Bless America, first” & “China is the great atheist stronghold/heart of darkness that should be allowed to go to blazes”, and just plain “Yeehaw, ‘aint we God’s lil’darlin’s & anti-“them-dang-furiners.”
            Those people make me really, really tired.
            I am as patriotic as anybody, and in my mind (at least) more patriotic than most.
            I agreed, this is a rough patch we’re in, and may be for a long while yet.
            Fear and rage are easy.  Getting off our collective fannies in our safe little hidey-holes and stepping outside our comfort zones and risking doing something personally to keep the world from ending is not.  And I have heard lots of reasons for staying mad, a few even make a shred of sense, but never enough good sense
            The one thing that I can be utterly certain of is that, nobody’s going to get their piece of the “peace & prosperity” pie if they insist on the whole thing going just to them and their chosen few.
            No, don’t howl at me and call me a democrat, or a liberal, or even a tea bagger.
            I used to call myself a Republican, and I still do…
            Just now I add, “but not the kind of Republican that is at the throttle of that out of control freight train.”
            Pro-life & pro-business means to me – affordable health care for all of us means less expense for business in lost productivity & fewer workers screwing up on the job because they’re fretting over a sick kid or spouse, and better future workers, because healthy kids get better grades.
            Fair taxes mean – to those whom much is given, much is expected, and the strong who were given the gifts (financial or otherwise) needed to tend properly to keeping things going don’t get to slough off the part of our joint burden on the next person in line or the next generation.
            Human rights & right to life means – you don’t get to chose if I am a human, and I don’t get to chose whether or not you are one either.  But, we both have a responsibility to each other to protect each other’s rights to make choices and to live, and hold each other accountable for what ripples and echoes arise from those choices when our “fine & upstanding” intentions go awry. And people outside the womb have a right to life too -- from cradle to grave.
            A contract with America should mean – keeping promises to protect and serve more than just ourselves and our personal agendas or the agendas we’ve auctioned ourselves off to support.
            Freedom of speech doesn’t mean – freedom to drown out another’s voice with rage and hate, big piles of cash is not speech, companies are made up of people but are not people and so don’t get to claim that right, and it certainly isn’t bullets. 
            The 2nd amendment means – if you want to be part of the National Guard, go for it.  Join up, be part of that well-regulated militia the founders were talking about.
Now, don’t shriek that I’m anti-gun, and anti-hunter.  Guns are not bad, they are not just as important to everyday life & safety as those people running the gun manufacturing companies want us to think they are. And, anyway,  if you really need 30 bullets in your pistol’s magazine to take out Bambi, you should get your eyes checked, or get some practice before you go hunting, or better yet buy a decent, plain old rifle minus all the over-built bells and whistles. And, do you really want to pick all 30 of those slugs out of the pile of hamburger you’d end up with after using that over-loaded popgun???
Yuck, every mouthful of venison brimming over with a billion bone fragments and shredded bullet … that is so not tasty…take it from a gal who loves her vension and all other kinds of wild game when it’s cooked right.
            And last but not least, Good Politician means – that I haven’t seen anybody in my political party of choice that I think is fit to vote for next year yet, and I don’t hold out much hope for that changing this time out either.
            So, I face down those who sneer at me for being pro- “all this Chinese exploration stuff,” and I say…
            I’m not listening to anything but the demands of the future.
            And, the future and the past that you all seem to be so hung-up on are not what they used to be.
            I am working for what they can be.
This blog is part of that, even though sometimes it feels like I am yelling in an empty room with the doors and windows nailed shut and boarded over from the outside.
The next generations of America, China and the rest of the world need to hear the lessons the men of the Ming treasure fleet learned both in their moments of greatest triumph and in their most disastrous mistakes.  We need to open all of the doors that got slammed shut six hundred years ago by what I have learned happened and happened largely without any malice-aforethought.  Those next generations will be both humbled and lifted up by the knowing.
Today’s rough patch is only growing pains, if we chose to make it such, and make the difficult effort to grow beyond where we are now.
That is something that I DO have great hopes for.
That kind of crazy optimism is just part of my being cussedly stubborn and generally cantankerous, ask my mom, she’d tell you that you might as well give since I was born that way.
(Yeah, I’ve heard the Lady Gaga song too, not that kind of born that way, but hey, the lady made more of point than even she knew.)
           

A TRIO OF SEMI-ANONYMOUS SPOILERS…

            To keep it simple and to the point…
My life is crazy.
Absolutely so.
But on the crazy front in the research department (talking about why the rest of my life is NUTS just takes too long!)…
My husband and co-conspirator in historical mayhem has been nagging me about providing some particular content for the book we’re getting together. So, I have been pulled off where I was and sent elsewhere…now if I can just keep him from sending me off on a third wild ride before this one is done … Let’s just say that Crazy Town has my face on the billboard as Mayor for a reason!!!!
But enough whining for now, must save some for a rainy day …
In the course of working to make sense of my translating work, …
(Oops, fair warning, I am currently working way down the line from what’s in the 2005 Nanjing paper that we’re about to get into, and sorry, but the answer to “what is it that she’s translating anyway?” is too juicy a nugget to dish up to you yet, and thus not one I’ll get to today.  Loooooong story…but you already figured that out…)
…I spent the last couple of days chasing stinky wild pigs, varying opinions on the properly respectful treatment of dead people, and laughing myself to tears at how, throughout history, men just don’t have a clue when others are just not that into them…
Ah, that sweet siren called historical research
& the UTTERLY wacked places it takes you…
As for the first item…
“Stink pigs” aka Javelinas…
Folks call javelinas “stink” or “musk pigs,” apparently with even more generous cause than the domestic varieties of porkers.  And, I found some… not in Arizona or the rest of the Midwest, though that might not be entirely true, in a particular way… Let’s just say, they are exactly where they are supposed to be.
As for the second item …
I swear that my Cahokian ancestors get weirder every day…
No joke…
NO exaggeration…
I am sssoooo glad certain family traditions went WAY out of fashion…
And a very long time before my time too…
The Mississippians weren’t exactly necrophiliacs, but they did spend a lot of time with friends and family in ways straight out of BAD late night horror movies. 
Argh…
Just think, so very Norman Bates but minus the psycho…
Icky.
When they had a family celebration, the whole family attended…
I want you to think about that for a second …
Because, I really mean it …
I am saying the ENTIRE family attended…
Lots and lots and lots and lots of generations of the family…
Getting my point and the appropriate matching set of heebee jeebees yet???
Yup, the words “I see dead people” would have only garnered a “so what?” and a very bored and superior expression back then…
Saying somebody at the party was “late” had multiple meanings…
I repeat, icky…
So… very… icky…
And, the Mississippians didn’t always keep the whole cadaver together…
I’m not sure what they did with the rest, please don’t clue me in …
Double yuck and nasty to the max…
For ease and convenience, it seems to often have been just the head that got a first class ticket for the periodic “coming out to meet the kids and the neighbors” excursions.
HAPPY grandparents’ day, kiddies…
Eauw…..
Thanks, but no thanks…
It felt like Halloween came early this year…
With more tricks than treats …
But this little excursion off the track was sort of fun anyway…
Especially when the guys involved in item number three started freaking out over what the locals considered good manner…
And speaking of that third item…
When you think that people are so impressed by you that they are struck speechless…
They might just not be that into you…
You really should do a little fact check before you get over-happy with your wonderful self…
Your audience might either be deaf or think you are…
Or they might be Native Americans who think you are clueless to their language and are trying to be polite…
Needless to say, this guy who was so self-impressed (clearly another dude who would have been sure that “Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way” was written about him if he had lived to hear it) was a lawyer, and it appears that lawyers are the same now as they were 600 years ago!  Way too into themselves to notice that no one else is! 
Ha….
“The victim succumbed to testosterone poisoning, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, plain and simple…”
Well, enough with the “un”pleasantries…
I promised myself to keep these blog entries to 2 pages or only just a little more and it already is, and then some.
Tomorrow, back on track…
I promise…
Sort of…
LOL, some goodies are just to tasty to wait for…

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

WELL DUH, DRAGONS AT HOGWARTS, OF COURSE…

            When the librarian from the library of Congress told me it would be at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, I never dreamed what we’d see when we got there…
            I guess the founders of the university thought that since they wanted to build a prestigious university (or at least I suppose, that’s what they hoped people would consider it eventually, they succeeded), they needed to build something that looked and felt like the oldest schools of advanced learning of Europe, and like Oxford in particular, I think. 
            In my opinion, when we walked hand-in-hand up those steps into the main quadrangle, I felt like I had dozed off and woken up in the middle of the school of witchcraft and wizardry.  I almost wondered if I should ask where the house elves hung out, and to be pointed to the sorting hat. My husband agreed that the place looked like an enchanted castle and we nervously went looking for the main library and the rare books and folios room to work the “magic” necessary to summon our dragons from out of hiding. 
            Sadly, the university’s library is not quite so charming as the rest of the place—very modern and very Bauhaus period – that is unless you have a thing for buildings that are all cold, hard angles and mirrored plate glass.  I’m sure had seemed a great idea to “update things with something so “cutting edge” at the time.  But I think it looked a little like someone had dropped a fish tank to confine the lizards they were dressing up as dragons in the middle of their model castle.  Oh well… as I always say, whatever…
            We went into the library and were quickly directed to our destination.  I think my hands were shaking as we opened the book and begin to turn the pages …


What was left of Father Marquette’s great beasts was waiting for us on a page with the title “Der Piasa Felshen.” The subtitle said near Alton, Illinois.  Not “in.”
HAH!  So much for the locals’ blather, yet again. 
Okay, sorry about the attitude, AGAIN, but the current critter that is passed off as the Piasa is just plain vile!  My kids call it the abomination. (I think they picked that name up from me!) I do think the kids are right.  That thing does NOT look like any Native American stuff I have EVER seen!  And, yes, I have seen that uktena from the picture cave!  That thing is not even close …
Well, enough whining from me and back to the story at hand…
We snapped a picture or two, and prayed that our hands were not shaking too badly in at least one of them to get a clear and crisp shot.  And then, we did some more looking around.  The crazy thing is that we found a second copy of the book, this time in English that had been re-printed in the sixties.  It did contain a LOT of grammatical errors, but it still didn’t say the Piasa started out in Alton. 
(I will give the folks down in Alton this, they did think they were rescuing the Piasa, a concept we have been able to back up to a very, very small degree since then.  And, if they hadn’t even tried to do that, even though they did it badly, we would never have heard of the crazy thing!  End of story, wham, bam, no thank you ma’am!!!)
            All we knew now was that we had our dragons, and we could finish the paper, get it to Quint and after he had the translating finished, he could send it on its way to China. 
I admit that there was still a lot of snarling and screaming between this point and that eventual send off, BUT such is part and parcel of the dubious joys of editing…sometimes I am ssssooooo not surprised that George Lucas and his wife got divorced after they finished cutting Star Wars…
Editing is such a bloody business…and you can take that almost literally…
            And after that was done … I had some work to do on my own… a reconstruction that blended what we best could decipher from the testimonies of the eye witnesses and what was left in the Lewis lithograph.
            It was going have to be the best thing I had ever done… I had to get very, very close…
As close as I could …
Too bad that I got it wrong…
But, I wouldn’t know that or how or why it was wrong till much, much later…
Not until long after Nanjing…
And after lots of other crazy, impossible  stuff happened first…
               

Monday, September 26, 2011

IT’S AN ELEMENTARY CONCLUSION…

So, the other night, I finally got to see a movie I’d been wanting to catch for quite a while now, another Sherlock Holmes piece, I love those.  It made me think again that what Holmes did was so like what we’re doing.  As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had Sherlock put so aptly, “when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, is inevitably the truth…”
That simple concept seems to utterly elude people, turning them aside from what is hiding in plain sight, fight under their noses …
And just like what we found in Elsah’s tiny town museum…
And then it would be off to one more place, one a little closer to home, where we found an impossible thing we had thought we’d never see in person ... but that story I’ll set aside for the moment…
Back to Elsah first…
It was several months later, and as I said last time, this time with my husband and I and our two youngsters on board, we set out for Elsah a second time…
The yearly season had started for Elsah’s converted one room school house, now historical society museum, to be open to the public on a regular basis.
We drove the staff crazy in  mere seconds.  The two teenage girls working that day’s shift can’t be held too accountable for their consternation.  From the thickness of the layers of furniture polish that had glued that desk lamp in place, I could tell it hadn’t been shifted even an inch from its resting place in years, or possibly decades.  The sharp, ringing “poing!” I heard as it popped free of the spot it had been adhered to stands as a definite clue to that.
Sorry, sometimes the little surface things in life just have to get moved around in the pursuit of the deeper details.  I did put the lamp back in the original spot afterwards…
 At least, I think I did …
Didn’t I?  Oh brother, I don’t really remember …
Oh well, whatever, it didn’t seem all that important ...
But as for what was under that …
Boy, oh boy, pay dirt…
The old topographically delineated map of Elsah that had lain hidden from clear sight for years under the lamp said it all.  In a relatively large but quaint typeface were the words “Piasa bluffs”… We got very, very excited… the girls were sadly clueless as to what all the big fuss was about.
The girls had never bothered to look closely at what their own town museum held. 
Sad...
Typical…
We bought a local guide book that had a copy of the old maps providing concrete verfication of the authentic original location of the Piasa.  Looked closely at other pictures all around the museum, and saw at least one picture that I would kill for an explanation of.  It showed what looked like a huge boulder (judging by the two men standing to either side) that had been carefully smoothed and showed a carving of a strangely splayed inhuman “paw” with five fingers.  I took picture of that one.  I could cry for the total absence of any kind of label to explain it.  And then we fled back to whence we’d come, the two teeny-boppers were starting to look like they were going to get difficult about our “total weirdness.”
We figured it was time to leave before they called someone who might get cranky and not let us sneak back in again if we deemed that necessary in future.
Besides, we had other stuff to do…that paper for Nanjing wasn’t going to write itself, Quint had yet to translate it prior to our submitting it in time for the big conference, and we had to find one more thing to make it perfect…
I started the hunt for the final element we knew we had to have for the Nanjing paper on-line.  We had to have a proper high resolution picture of the Lewis lithograph…
I went to the web site for the library of congress and started hunting.  Eureka! There WERE copies of it in this country.  I was thrilled, but not as thrilled as I would be very soon thereafter…
I put in a request for location information for the folio, thinking that somebody could take a picture or scan it and or had a postcard of it or something or a microfilm or microfiche, and included, as requested, my phone number.  And then, I waited.
A librarian called me back directly…
I freaked out, wow, this was too cool for words… and then I started crying when I heard her reason for calling me …
There was a copy of Lewis’ Das Illustrite Mississippithal in Saint Louis, not even a half day’s drive away. 
The poor librarian was stunned that I was crying and so happy to hear her news. I think I may have made her whole week.
Now, we would not just have another feeble lo-res copy of Lewis’ work to work with, we would be seeing it as he intended it.  In an original copy…
My husband arranged to get an afternoon off as soon as possible… 
We were going dragon hunting, and it looked like it would be in a target rich environment, and what we were looking for had been, as always, hiding in plain sight all along!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

TEDIOUS LIKE CHASING A PILE OF ROCKS

Yeah, I know where was I?  I’ve been busy, like I’m never not busy… but sorry anyway….I’m back, ...okay?
As I said, I’ve been very busy.  My dragon hunting husband pulled me off one thing I was doing and sent me back to chasing down a pile of rocks… yup, rocks ….you’d be surprised how hard that is… and how long it can take to catch up with such a thing … annoyingly long…
He’s been chasing the same pile of rocks… about four hundred years later… the same pile of rocks we were chasing six years ago not too long after we started in on all this…  a VERY tediously ellusive pile of rocks … obviously….
Just about six years ago, soon after started chasing down the REAL story behind the Piasa, we found something quite remarkable… something which, as usual, everybody “knew” didn’t exist and could not possibly ever be found…
We had found a picture of the Piasa … well, most of it anyway… or at least what was left of it just before it was destroyed.
It had been painted between 1840 and 1850 by Henry Lewis.  What my husband found on the internet was a picture of a picture of his picture…
see, I told you this is tedious…
Mr. Lewis turned his series of paintings illustrating scenes from the Upper Mississippi Valley Region into a set of lithographs, and he turned those lithographs into a book which he then sold to a publisher in Dusseldorf who wanted to interest Germans in immigrating to the USA  who gave it the brilliant title…
Das Illustrite Mississippithal
(meaning The Mississippi Valley Illustrated, I told you the man was brilliant)
And then, it gets even more tedious and convoluted …
That book of lithographs was later re-published in the USA in the 1960’s …
yes, this keeps on going and going, just like the energizer you-know-who …
and then somebody found the lithograph with the Piasa in it and put it on the internet …
in a kinda blurry way…
drat screen resolution issues…
And along came us…
That’s when we started chasing that blasted (literally) pile of rocks…
My husband, along with Irish and Quint (remember them, look a day or two back if you you don’t, they’re nice guys) loaded up in Irish’s SUV (big, but not big enough to take me and our two youngsters along (4 & 9 years, respectively at that time) and reach our destination without justifiable homicide reducing the number of souls on board by several by entirely justifiable homicide (trust me, I may love my kids but even I am attest that it WOUD have been more than justifiable after the first three miles, probably sooner…)
The three of them headed out to match the location of the Piasa in the Lewis lithoraph with what remained after its destruction. 
They drove to Alton.
No match, nothing even close… then they kept going … northward…
They found the spot…you can see it on satellite, I just went there on Monday, virtually … Google Earth has an awesome view of the spot from both orbit and from ground level on the Great River Road …
The accounts we could find said that the Piasa had been blasted out of existence and the stone rubble had been quarried for building materials …
There was only one place along the banks of the Mississippi in that general area that fit that description, and it was just outside Elsah, Illinois …
BULLSEYE… they had it.  And, we had a location.  And the location and lithograph  matched … perfectly.
And when we made our second trip (yes, “we,” as in including ME the second time, huzzah), we found  lots of proof that we were right, alas, that trip would be a few months later, after the Elsah museum opened for the Summer…
But that is a story for next time …

Thursday, September 15, 2011

THE CAST OF CHARACTERS BEGINS TO GROW

Once again, a digression before I “attack” my subject head-on.  Certain niceties must now come into play lest toes be harshly trod, and my words be blunted. Some things will just have to wait for the book to be done before they’re seen in print.  Personal moments . . . glimpses into the private selves of people whose permission has yet to be given before they are named.  Friends who trust me to not pull off their public masks….
In his poem, “On the Naming of Cats,” T. S. Elliot made an excellent point.  Every cat, and for that matter every person, has three different names or (as it might be better put) three faces –
The first is a public name or face – the facade we put forward for strangers to see.  The shadow of the private we allow the world to see.  The face we feel safe when we are securely ensconced behind it.
The second name, or face, is the familial and most familiar one which most of our family and friends know as ours.  It is not all of each of us is, but it is a comfortable old shoe we wear when more relaxed.  It is the face in that photograph of each of us at our first birthday parties, and we are covered in icing.  
                The third name or face is private.  No masks…and it is sometimes the face in the mirror that scares even us.  Seldom does any of us allow anyone close enough to glimpse it.  We don’t even like going there by ourselves.
            Well, as always, ‘nuf said, just don’t be too surprised at some really odd names.  Those named will know who they are . . . usually… and they’ll be free to laugh at themselves too … gently, and with no stinging barbs and arrows from tales told out of school …I will try to keep things on the #2 name level… but too strictly holding to that level all the time . . . where would the fun be in that?

           
             Okay, back to my promise yesterday to tell you what happened next…
            I told you that we had written the first article.  And that it had been published by our editor in his regional publication.  We were happily moving on to the next things on our never ending list of “to-dos” wrpped securely in that blissful ignorance of the newbie that ripples happen, and then they spread...
            One day, we got an e-mail.  Our editor had been contacted by “Irish” who wanted to get into contact with us directly.  He was VERY interested in what we had written.  And his friend “Quint” was too.  Now, Irish is an American, but Quint is not.  He’s Chinese, and has some remarkable connections back on the mainland. 
            To keep it simple, Quint knew about an international call for academic papers that had been sent out for a conference being held in Nanjing, China, in 2005, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the sailing of a HUGE Ming Chinese fleet lead by a Chinese Muslim court Eunuch named Zheng He.
We were floored… to say the least … somebody out there in the big wide world was actually reading our articles… AND they were taking them seriously enough to suggest that we should write a VERY serious academic paper based on one of them…
Whoa, dude…
This was taking things to such a different level entirely…
And Irish, or at least Irish’s uncle, had caught a mistaken detail we had no idea we’d missed about Father Marquette’s description of the Piasa…
Translators usually said Father Marquette gave the creatures standard deer or goat horns.  Horns like the ones on the Alton Piasa….
Father Marquette, as I said before, was a scientist, a naturalist, a Jesuit… he was NOT so generic in his description… he said “chevreuil”… and by that he was talking about one specific kind of deer...very specific … the same kind of deer that the first emperor of China took the horns from to make his composite Imperial dragon … it's the European version of what is known as the roe deer.  And it had a very different set of horns.  Horns that gave our piasa a very, very different look than the one in Alton.  And connectied the piasa firmly to a very, very different point of origin...just like we said it had to have had...because there are no roe deer native to the Americas.
So there it was.  We had a definite match. It wasn’t the absolute proof of what we had theorized in that first article… but it was an excellent start…
And it was now certain that things were about to get even more interesting …