Archive for August, 2008

Buying on the ‘net

Just a short blog today, mainly to show my appreciation to two companies who understand that the Internet is in the “here and now”. It is immediate. Mañana is not a word associated with this electronic media. South Africans will appreciate it is what we call “now now” as opposed to “just now”!

At around four o’clock yesterday afternoon I ordered a DVD unit from Amazon, and Read/Write DVDs from Rambox. Amazon sold the unit for £203 which included next day delivery and VAT. John Lewis quoted me £275 – and delivery would take approximately a week. Rambox also quoted me next day delivery but there was a small charge – and it was a small charge – towards delivery. £17.50 for four packs of 25 disks including postage and VAT. That’s 17.5p each for top quality items (they do sell lower priced disks).

Immediately on ordering I received an invoice and receipt from both suppliers in my in-box. Within a couple of hours a further email from each company was received, confirming the items had been despatched.

By 10:30am the next morning, today, both items were delivered.

How do they manage to do this so efficiently? It’s really very simple. They have their own servers on the Internet and therefore can automate all the procedures. In fact the first human, after the order has been placed, credit card payment authorised, confirmations sent out, and accounts updated, is the packer in the warehouse. Apart from speeding everything up, this must save an awful amount of administration.

A lot of companies are climbing onto the Internet for business but just do not understand this “now” attitude Internet have. If you want to take 28 days, or 14, or 7 days for delivery, stick to mail order. You are never going to be as successful as Amazon or Rambox who understand this “now” attitude.

Ampers

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Instructions for Life

I came across this on the Internet the other day, as one does from time to time, and thought I would reproduce this here with some comments.

Take into account that great life and great achievements involve great risk.

Theodore Roosevelt once said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

Tony Blair once said “Education, Education, Education” but here we should repeat: “Analyse, analyse, analyse”. Work out why things haven’t gone as expected as it is only by doing this that you will remember the lessons of failure. But don’t just analyse failure, analyse successes too so they may be repeated.

Follow the three R’s

Education has always been important in our society but never more so than in the twenty-first century when more and more emphasis is being put on hiring at degree level. We are living in an information based society and the main thing that one learns at university is how to research correctly.

Respect for self and others

If you do not respect yourself, you cannot respect others. Also, if you do not love yourself, you can never be able to love others. Perhaps on a superficial scale, but never in a deep and meaningful way.

Responsibility for all your actions

You, and only you can be responsible for all your actions. Your upbringing matters not as your inner self can glow no matter how much your outer self can be trampled upon. I know this, believe me, I know it more than anything I have ever learned.

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

Some people have everything they want tumbling into their laps, if this happens how is it possible to build that person’s character? Those who have to fight and struggle for everything they get must surely value it more. Equally important is that by struggling they build a stronger character.

Learn the rules so that you know how to break them properly

I’m not quite sure how this got into the equation but I would suppose it has something to do with by learning the rules you can ascertain which are unjust and which are sensible, and perhaps discard the unjust ones?

Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship

I have noticed that four of my own friendships that ended abruptly over small things have all been with Scorpios. This may not mean anything, but I offer it out of interest. It is a sad thing when this happens and on each of the above occasion I thought I had lost a trusted friend. However, another part of me tells me that if a relationship can break off so easily then it wasn’t a good friendship in the first place.

When you realise you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

Mistakes should never go unchecked and unchanged. This is how a small problem turns into an insurmountable catastrophe Sometimes all this takes is to admit you are wrong. Did I really say “all” here?

Spend some time alone every day.

By putting aside a small time for reflection you will gradually become calmer and more able to cope with life in this twenty-first century of ours. Think of why you are here, your loved ones, and what you can do to make all of our lives better. By “all” I am referring to your own circle.

Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

Life moves on, you have to adapt – but on the outside. But be aware of your beliefs and your value system. If you find your beliefs change, then by all means change them – but be aware when you do. As a demonstration of this, I once heard the story of a girl of sixteen believing remaining a virgin until marriage was good. However, when she reaches thirty, if still unmarried, then her belief may not be as important to her as it was fourteen years previously.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

As a salesman I know only too well the power of silence. A good interviewer on the television also knows when to shut up. Have you noticed how interviewees keep on talking, saying more and more, because they abhor a vacuum? Although I know better than to believe in the bible, I have remembered one phrase my mother liked: “Confidence and quietness shall be thy strength”.

Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

Quite so; when you get to my age you certainly don’t want to reflect on a life of dishonour and deceit. Remember, nowadays with the government’s constant attack on our pensions, you may not have much more than your memories to look back on. There! I had to bring in politics somewhere!

A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

It is important in life to have a base. A safe haven where you know you can always return to. Home should be that base. Unfortunately, a lot of homes are not a safe haven for quietness and calm nowadays, which is why there is a steady growth of gang culture with all the tragedies resulting from them.

In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

Ah yes, I think, as I have a lot of women readers, it may prove prudent to gloss over this one. The words are self-explanatory anyway!

Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.

Alas, we all know only too well how people hang on to their knowledge. I have a friend, we will call him “John” who once told me off for imparting my knowledge to others. He said “knowledge is power” keep it close to your chest. Although I like John, he is rather a sad person with this attitude. I will impart all my knowledge to any who wish to hear of it. And I enjoy doing what I can to better the life of my friends.

Be gentle with the earth.

… or what? Ah yes. Global Warming. Enough said here!

Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been before.

That is fun and exciting. Even my trip to the Norfolk Broads where I had never been before was exciting. I try to go somewhere I have never been before more often. Did you know that 80% of Brits live within five miles of where they were born?

Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

That is very true and, alas, seems to be a rarity. I see so many couples that love each other but don’t like each other. Hands up, how many of you count your spouse as your “best friend”? I know I do, and friends and relatives have remarked on this all through out marriage.

Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

We go back to “fighting for what you want builds character”. Never forget the old saying “easy come, easy go”.

Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Oh yes, this is so true. But I will keep my comments for cooking. How many of you cook from recipes by following the instructions to the letter, measuring out the ingredients to the nth degree? Recipes are just a guide. Throw yourself into the mood and just take a pinch of this, a handful of that, and see what happens. But before you do you have to learn about ingredients, what herbs and spices add to the flavour, what other ingredients do as well. Once you understand this, away you can go.

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The Mississippi Paddle Steamer


Well, not so much a steamer, but certainly, as you can see below, a paddle style boat. ‘Ealth ‘n’ safety was the probably cause of the rear paddle being totally encased. But then, these bastards get everywhere don’t they just?


Anyway, first things first. We caught our coach at 8:10am at the bottom of Barnet Hill, and after an hour, driving around Barnet and Enfield, picking people up, we headed for Horning on the Norfolk Broads, arriving there at around 1:00pm. I was hungry, so Pam and I headed for The Swan Inn to eat.


The food was excellent, we both had a half roast duck with all the trimmings and were offered a choice of sauces from a large home-made collection on a tray. We chose cranberry which was very well made. It was all washed down with an excellent Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, clearly the best I have tasted this year. We then made our way to the docking area and awaited our boat. Once we boarded we headed to the top deck and managed to get seats in the very front. Ideal for taking photographs from. This is the inside salon upstairs and we were through the door at the top, on the left.


Before the boat left we saw a fisherman land a healthy sized Pike…


The boat journey was for 90 minutes and we learned that the best part would be the first 30 minutes for photographers on the port side and the last 30 minutes for photographers on the starboard side. (If you are a land-lubber, this is the left and right side facing the bow (front) respectively.)

As we were on the port side, we were busy the first 30 minutes and these are just a small sample of the pictures I took.



And of course, there were other boats on the river. Only a couple of pictures here but we saw hundreds of them. But a boat, is a boat, is a boat 😉

After half an hour or so, we vacated our seats and made our way to a busy and thriving bar where we met and spoke to a few other passengers who also knew the best way to enjoy themselves on a boat trip.

There wasn’t much left of the day. We had a five hour drive back to London and we finally got through our front door around 9:30pm

So it’s good bye from Ampers and good bye from Mrs Ampers…

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The Wilderness Gathering

Their website.

On Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st August, there will be a huge gathering of people from around the country interested in bushcraft. Alas Ray Mears will not be there this year, but there will be dozens and dozens of companies in this field exhibiting their goods. There will be dozens of short courses bookable on the day, and three hour master-classes (bookable in advance)

In their own words…

The Wilderness Gathering has now become the premier annual festival of Bushcraft, survival and primitive skills. The aim of “The Gathering” is still as it was back in 2003. That is, to bring together all those interested in the Bushcraft and Wilderness skills and related interests to enjoy a weekend of knowledge sharing in a relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere. The 2007 Gathering was filmed by Paul O’Connor and Ami Marsden from Undercurrents and you can see the footage of the Event here.

Onsite you will find Bushcraft schools and an international band of professional instructors hosting introductory lessons on all kinds of skills, trade stands, acres of woodland to enjoy your skills plus a heard of North American Bison! The Gathering has established itself as the ideal outdoor family event of the year and includes The Coyote Kids Club which was introduced in 2005 specifically aimed at youngsters with an interest in bushcraft. Specific events and classes are run throughout the weekend purely for the children. Included in The Coyote Kids Schedule is a compulsory knife safety workshop.

This year you will find similar catering facilities at the Gathering to last year, the new food court focuses all the onsite catering in one place, where you’ll find an excellent selection of meals, drinks and snacks throughout the weekend – Dave and Iona Barkers’ wonderful tea and cakes, the D3 Catering company providing the main meals of the day and the Sussex Cider man – all will be working hard to keep us all watered and fed. Watch this space for more details.

As you can see, all the information is in “their own words” but after my visit, I hope to report back to you in my own words.

Four of us will be driving down to Bush Farm Bison Centre, West Knoyle in Wiltshire. If you want to come, just programme your SatNav to find BA12 6AE. It is as easy as that? Don’t have a SatNav? Take a look at flag A on Google Maps.

A lot of people laugh at bushcraft so look upon it as a possible hobby and, as it is outdoors, a healthy one. Then dwell briefly on Bush’s confrontation with Putin over Georgia and tell me that Bushcraft and survival skills will never be needed in the twenty-first century?

Having been brought up in South Africa, and as a child from the age of thirteen, spending weekends alone with my horse in the bush, I am really looking forward to this trip. We have all kept the Saturday and Sunday free and will study the weather on the Friday before deciding which day to choose.

Just imagine what ‘ealth ‘n’ safety would make of my weekends alone in the bush! My parents would have been arrested, tried and imprisoned if it were in England! Stupid bastards.

Ampers

PS; Today I am off to travel on a Mississippi style paddle-steamer. More about that later in the week.

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Fat Cats

A lot has been spoken about the salaries of fat cats. I would like to add my views to the debate.

I feel that the many earners in excess of £1,000,000 per annum, such as pop singers, footballers and now, even football managers deserve everything they can get and we shouldn’t begrudge the working classes this opportunity to get their hands on as much filthy lucre as they can.

As for the middle and professional classes, such as captains of industry, directors of the old public utilities, they will just have to do with the paltry few hundred thousands they get each year and rely on their annual bonus and golden handshakes to make it up. Although some of them are now reaching parity with footballers and pop singers.

I do have a few serious things I would like to say about salaries though, even though it is not my business who earns what! Nor should it be. I should be more concerned in trying to raise my own expectations, rather than worrying what my neighbour earns!

Mind you, I’d be a lot happier if people who earn huge salaries had the greater proportion linked to real productivity.

I would like to take the value of the entire remuneration package of company directors and make 75% of this amount only payable if they meet a certain criteria of success. However, I would allow the actual directors to lay down this criteria as every company has a different profile.

By now, I can hear all your laughter at such a perceived stupid idea. “Let the directors make their own rules?” I hear you chortle, “They would say something like having increased the profits by 5p!”.

My idea would also include the full criteria being written into the company report at the end of the financial year and, when the shareholders vote in directors, they can be the judge of how sensible the directors have been with their criteria! I.e. Mickey-mouse criteria equates to the sack by the shareholders. Said directors would soon wise up to the fact that they need to list sensible criteria. So after a year or two of directors losing their jobs, directors would start working harder to meet their own laid down criteria.

Complicated? Let’s see.

  1. Directors list their own criteria for bonus success.

  2. Shareholders sack said director if a stupid criteria is offered.

  3. Directors work harder to earn their bonus.

  4. The country as a whole would then benefit enormously.

This could also be applied to team sports playing in international matches. A low salary to cover the competition. A medium bonus for each goal scored, an extra large bonus for each match won. My God! Britain would be a world winner, every time, at cricket and football (both rugby and soccer).

Can’t do much about pop singers because of the nature of their payment; i.e. royalties.

Ampers.

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Who was Joshua Norton?

Monarchy In The US


This precis was written by a South African called Pat Conlon, who owned and ran a South African restaurnat in San Francisco, he has done his homework well and, although there are more links at the end of the article, unless you are really interested, there is no reason to travel further. This is an amazing story and is not an Urban Myth! It is a true story.

The Story of Emperor Norton

Joshua Abraham Norton, America´s first and only Emperor, was born in London, England on February 14th, 1819. Details of his early life are rather sketchy–almost all that´s really known is that his family moved to Algoa Bay in South Africa during his infancy, where his father prospered as a merchant. It isn´t until his arrival in San Francisco aboard the Dutch schooner Franzika in 1849 that the record begins to fill in.

Norton came to America with a nest egg of thirty thousand dollars, with which he opened a business selling supplies to gold miners, and set about buying up the land that would eventually become San Francisco´s Cow Hollow district.

By 1855, Norton was one of the most respected businessmen in San Francisco, having rebounded from the fire of 1853 and profitably diversified his operations. Already his friends were referring to him as “Emperor”.

It was at this time that he hit on the bold idea of attempting to corner San Francisco´s rice market–the city´s large immigrant Chinese population providing a captive and hungry market, at a time when the only way rice (or almost anything else) arrived was aboard cargo steamships. Investors were quick to sign on, and in a matter of days Norton owned, practically speaking, all the rice in San Francisco. For the first few days it looked like yet another daring success for the Emperor, when two ships, well ahead of schedule and brimming with rice, steamed lazily through the Golden Gate. One shipment he might have been able to buy up as well; two was a backbreaker, and in a matter of minutes Norton was ruined.

He spent the next three years in court, and emerged penniless in 1858. Packing together his meager belongings, Norton disappeared for about nine months; no record tells where he went. He returned suddenly in the late summer of 1859, proudly walking the streets in a beaver hat and naval regalia, arguably mad. By September, Emperor Norton was no longer able to contain his secret. He walked into the offices of the San Francisco Bulletin and presented them with this single sentence, which they ran on the next edition´s front page:

“At the peremtory request of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the past nine years and ten months of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States, and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.”.

Norton I
Emperor of the United States
September 17th, 1859

That day people on the streets began greeting Norton with deep bows and curtsies. The tacit public acceptance was immediate and profound, and San Francisco had a wise and caring monarch to reign over its gilded age.

Norton I ruled by proclamation, and it didn´t seem to faze him if not all his edicts were carried out. If taxes or water rates were too high, he commanded that they be lowered; if there were inadequacies in the city services, he ordered improvements. On the eve of the Civil War he temporarily dissolved the Union, and after the Prussian victory in 1872, he ordered a week of continuous celebration and thanksgiving. Bay Area newspapers competed for the honor of posting his proclamations, and more than once they devised fakes to generate sales and interest, a practice against which the Emperor railed angrily.

Few monarchs ever had Norton´s common touch; he abjured seclusion and luxury. He attended every public function or meeting, always arriving by foot or bicycle rather than coach, and performed daily rounds of his capital´s streets, making sure the police were on their beats, and that cleanliness, harmony and order prevailed. If he noticed someone performing some kind act or other, he might spontaneously ennoble them, from which practice the expression “Queen for a day’ was obtained. The titles were especially popular with children, who would follow him in groups, looking everywhere for liter to pick up or old ladies to help across the street.

Norton´s personal expenses were few. He ate free of charge at whatever restaurant suited him, had three seats reserved for him at every theatrical performance (one for himself and one each for his famously well-behaved dogs, Bummer and Lazarus); the city itself actually paid for his uniforms and the local Masonic Lodge paid for his small apartment. Nonetheless, whenever necessary, Norton had his own currency printed, which was accepted everywhere without question–at a time when U.S. paper money was still regarded with distrust in California. He also had the option of levying taxes, for which his normal procedure was to walk into the offices of an old business friend and politely announce an imperial assessment of ten million or so dollars, but could quickly be talked down to two or three, or perhaps a cigar, with which he would walk out entirely satisfied.

Still though, this wasn´t really legal, and feelings towards Norton I amongst the police were rather mixed. In January of 1867, in fact, he was arrested by an overzealous policeman “to be confined for treatment of a mental disorder,’ and held at the police station pending a hearing. The public outrage was immediate; every newspaper editorial denounced the action, and there was the real possibility of a riot. Chief of Police Patrick Crowley himself opened the cell doors, and issued a lengthy public apology to the Emperor. Norton himself was magnanimous about the whole affair, and from then on his relations with the police became much more congenial. He let their annual parades and inspected the new cadets; members of what he now called his Imperial Constabulary saluted him when he passed.

Norton I was a great believer in progress and innovation, and many of the ideas for which he was sometimes regarded as mad have become realities. He issued numerous proclamations proposing and then finally commanding the construction of a suspension bridge linking San Francisco and Oakland, complete with his own design sketches. His planned San Francisco terminus is within a block of where the Bay Bridge abuts now, and a plaque on it bears testimony to his foresight. He was also convinced that travel by air would one day become common, and commissioned panels of researchers and designers to create plans for airships.

The historical twilight of monarchy was gathering, however, and Norton made it part of his mission to restore whatever luster he could to it. He sent frequent cables to fellow rulers, offering surprisingly well-informed advice, or reflecting on the complex responsibilities of rulership. Many of the responses he got were in fact forgeries, created by his friends to make him happy, but many were not. King Kamehameha of Hawaii (known as the Sandwich Isles) was so taken with the Emperor´s insight and understanding that towards the end of his life he refused to recognize the U.S. State Department, saying he would deal only with representatives of the Empire.

Norton I died quite suddenly of apoplexy, on January 8th, 1880, on the corner of California and Grant, on his way to a scientific conference. He left no heir. San Francisco went into a period of deep mourning for three days. Ten thousand people, from every walk of life, lined up to view his mortal remains; his funeral cortege was two miles long. At 2:39 that day, during his funeral, San Francisco experienced a total eclipse of the sun. Fifty-four years later, Norton´s coffin was reinterred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Colma–once again, flags throughout the city were lowered and businesses closed their doors. About sixty thousand people attended the ceremony, which was accompanied by full military honors and dolorous taps.

This is only a short precis of his story, for more amazing revelations, take a look at www.zpub.com/sf/history/nort.html. This is an Emperor Norton site. It is part of a “Site Ring” and from there you can visit all the sites of the ring.

Leave a comment

Who was Joshua Norton?

Monarchy In The US


This precis was written by a South African called Pat Conlon, who owned and ran a South African restaurnat in San Francisco, he has done his homework well and, although there are more links at the end of the article, unless you are really interested, there is no reason to travel further. This is an amazing story and is not an Urban Myth! It is a true story.

The Story of Emperor Norton

Joshua Abraham Norton, America´s first and only Emperor, was born in London, England on February 14th, 1819. Details of his early life are rather sketchy–almost all that´s really known is that his family moved to Algoa Bay in South Africa during his infancy, where his father prospered as a merchant. It isn´t until his arrival in San Francisco aboard the Dutch schooner Franzika in 1849 that the record begins to fill in.

Norton came to America with a nest egg of thirty thousand dollars, with which he opened a business selling supplies to gold miners, and set about buying up the land that would eventually become San Francisco´s Cow Hollow district.

By 1855, Norton was one of the most respected businessmen in San Francisco, having rebounded from the fire of 1853 and profitably diversified his operations. Already his friends were referring to him as “Emperor”.

It was at this time that he hit on the bold idea of attempting to corner San Francisco´s rice market–the city´s large immigrant Chinese population providing a captive and hungry market, at a time when the only way rice (or almost anything else) arrived was aboard cargo steamships. Investors were quick to sign on, and in a matter of days Norton owned, practically speaking, all the rice in San Francisco. For the first few days it looked like yet another daring success for the Emperor, when two ships, well ahead of schedule and brimming with rice, steamed lazily through the Golden Gate. One shipment he might have been able to buy up as well; two was a backbreaker, and in a matter of minutes Norton was ruined.

He spent the next three years in court, and emerged penniless in 1858. Packing together his meager belongings, Norton disappeared for about nine months; no record tells where he went. He returned suddenly in the late summer of 1859, proudly walking the streets in a beaver hat and naval regalia, arguably mad. By September, Emperor Norton was no longer able to contain his secret. He walked into the offices of the San Francisco Bulletin and presented them with this single sentence, which they ran on the next edition´s front page:

“At the peremtory request of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the past nine years and ten months of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States, and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.”.

Norton I
Emperor of the United States
September 17th, 1859

That day people on the streets began greeting Norton with deep bows and curtsies. The tacit public acceptance was immediate and profound, and San Francisco had a wise and caring monarch to reign over its gilded age.

Norton I ruled by proclamation, and it didn´t seem to faze him if not all his edicts were carried out. If taxes or water rates were too high, he commanded that they be lowered; if there were inadequacies in the city services, he ordered improvements. On the eve of the Civil War he temporarily dissolved the Union, and after the Prussian victory in 1872, he ordered a week of continuous celebration and thanksgiving. Bay Area newspapers competed for the honor of posting his proclamations, and more than once they devised fakes to generate sales and interest, a practice against which the Emperor railed angrily.

Few monarchs ever had Norton´s common touch; he abjured seclusion and luxury. He attended every public function or meeting, always arriving by foot or bicycle rather than coach, and performed daily rounds of his capital´s streets, making sure the police were on their beats, and that cleanliness, harmony and order prevailed. If he noticed someone performing some kind act or other, he might spontaneously ennoble them, from which practice the expression “Queen for a day’ was obtained. The titles were especially popular with children, who would follow him in groups, looking everywhere for liter to pick up or old ladies to help across the street.

Norton´s personal expenses were few. He ate free of charge at whatever restaurant suited him, had three seats reserved for him at every theatrical performance (one for himself and one each for his famously well-behaved dogs, Bummer and Lazarus); the city itself actually paid for his uniforms and the local Masonic Lodge paid for his small apartment. Nonetheless, whenever necessary, Norton had his own currency printed, which was accepted everywhere without question–at a time when U.S. paper money was still regarded with distrust in California. He also had the option of levying taxes, for which his normal procedure was to walk into the offices of an old business friend and politely announce an imperial assessment of ten million or so dollars, but could quickly be talked down to two or three, or perhaps a cigar, with which he would walk out entirely satisfied.

Still though, this wasn´t really legal, and feelings towards Norton I amongst the police were rather mixed. In January of 1867, in fact, he was arrested by an overzealous policeman “to be confined for treatment of a mental disorder,’ and held at the police station pending a hearing. The public outrage was immediate; every newspaper editorial denounced the action, and there was the real possibility of a riot. Chief of Police Patrick Crowley himself opened the cell doors, and issued a lengthy public apology to the Emperor. Norton himself was magnanimous about the whole affair, and from then on his relations with the police became much more congenial. He let their annual parades and inspected the new cadets; members of what he now called his Imperial Constabulary saluted him when he passed.

Norton I was a great believer in progress and innovation, and many of the ideas for which he was sometimes regarded as mad have become realities. He issued numerous proclamations proposing and then finally commanding the construction of a suspension bridge linking San Francisco and Oakland, complete with his own design sketches. His planned San Francisco terminus is within a block of where the Bay Bridge abuts now, and a plaque on it bears testimony to his foresight. He was also convinced that travel by air would one day become common, and commissioned panels of researchers and designers to create plans for airships.

The historical twilight of monarchy was gathering, however, and Norton made it part of his mission to restore whatever luster he could to it. He sent frequent cables to fellow rulers, offering surprisingly well-informed advice, or reflecting on the complex responsibilities of rulership. Many of the responses he got were in fact forgeries, created by his friends to make him happy, but many were not. King Kamehameha of Hawaii (known as the Sandwich Isles) was so taken with the Emperor´s insight and understanding that towards the end of his life he refused to recognize the U.S. State Department, saying he would deal only with representatives of the Empire.

Norton I died quite suddenly of apoplexy, on January 8th, 1880, on the corner of California and Grant, on his way to a scientific conference. He left no heir. San Francisco went into a period of deep mourning for three days. Ten thousand people, from every walk of life, lined up to view his mortal remains; his funeral cortege was two miles long. At 2:39 that day, during his funeral, San Francisco experienced a total eclipse of the sun. Fifty-four years later, Norton´s coffin was reinterred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Colma–once again, flags throughout the city were lowered and businesses closed their doors. About sixty thousand people attended the ceremony, which was accompanied by full military honors and dolorous taps.

This is only a short precis of his story, for more amazing revelations, take a look at www.zpub.com/sf/history/nort.html. This is an Emperor Norton site. It is part of a “Site Ring” and from there you can visit all the sites of the ring.

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