Sunday, October 14, 2012


From a fired bullet to free fall, bull is a historic four letter word.

Bull? Just what is the connection in today's four letter word? Well... it is a little bit of a stretch... but believe it or not, it all makes sense. Today we'll look at a couple of historic events - one 100 years ago and involving the Bull Moose Party... the other just a few hours old at this point and involving Red Bull Stratos.

One hundred years ago today, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt (running under the banner of the Progressive Party) survived a bullet shot from a crazed assassin. Only even realizing he was shot when someone noticed the bullet hole in his coat, he quickly concluded that he was in no immediate danger and insisted on making his appearance. He opened his "brief" remarks by commenting that he had just been shot, but that "it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose".

Ninety minutes later, upon concluding his speech, he was brought to a hospital where they concluded that the bullet passed through his folded notes, as well as his steel spectacle case, but did not enter his chest cavity. Lodged in his chest muscle, it would have been more dangerous to remove than to leave in place, so after he recovered from the wound, he was released. Although he lost his bid for the presidency, he later was part of an expedition to the jungle in South America and attempted to raise an infantry group during The Great War.

A different sort of expedition took place earlier today, high over the desert in New Mexico. Felix Baumgartner, with guidance from the Red Bull Stratos mission control, rode a helium balloon to the border of outer space... and then stepped out to return to Earth. After setting a human free-fall speed record, not to mention a few other records, his parachute opened and he made a successful landing. 

The previous record holder, USAF Captain Joseph Kittinger, took three sky diving missions out of the Excelsior balloon, and then a later balloon trip to perform astronomical observations. He later served three tours of duty in Vietnam and was a POW in the Hanoi Hilton. His most recent accomplishment, however, was as CAPCOM for Felix's jump. One has to wonder what Felix will do next, but there is no doubt that it will be great.

It occurs to me that there is a tie-in between these two, seemingly starkly different, events. They were notable events themselves, to be sure. And both could have been quite tragic. But they weren't... they demonstrated the remarkable heights that people can rise to... and set the stage for just how far they can go.

No bull.

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