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The Franklin/Adams Cold Air Night

We all have been on trips where we ended up sleeping in less than ideal conditions or even failed to plan ahead.  When we think of the country’s founding fathers, it’s real easy to have a mental image of  crowd-stirring speeches or the drafting of documents that would govern our nation in its infancy.

I was reminded by, that the background stories were as colorful as the lessons in our history books. This is a story of a night in September of 1776 as recorded by the diary of John Adams; It shows the thinking and persuasion of two historical figures as well as why even the smallest of details makes for intersting historical perspective.

Just months after the thirteen American colonies announced their independence from British rule, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were sent by the Continental Congress  as part of a small delegation, to travel from Philadelphia to Staten Island for the purpose of negotiating with Admiral Richard Howe of the Royal Navy. Their hope was to bring a possible end to the Revolutionary War.Franklin Adams

According to Adams, as they passed through New Brunswick, New Jersey, the negotiators of the delegation – Frankin, Adams and South Carolina representative Edward Rutledge decided to stop for the night and find a place to sleep. Without Priceline or Expedia, they soon learned that without prior planning, all the inns and local lodging taverns were full except for one establishment that had two available rooms. Unfortunately, this left only two beds for the three men.

As described by Adams’ writings, “One bed could be procured by Dr. Franklin and me, in a chamber a little larger than the bed, without a chimney and with only one small window.” It turned out that the small window would become the bone of contention. The diary went on to describe the night’s events:


     Adams described himself as “an invalid and afraid of the air in the night,” so he closed the window before they got into bed.

“Oh!” said Franklin. “Don’t shut the window. We shall be suffocated.”

What Adams had meant by “invalid” was that he could not stand cold air. When Adams explained to Franklin that he didn’t want to catch a cold from the night air, Franklin countered that the air in their room was even worse.   “Come!” Franklin said. “Open the window and come to bed, and I will convince you: I believe you are not acquainted with my Theory of Colds.”

Contrary to the general population of that day, Franklin was convinced that no one had ever gotten a cold from cold air. Instead, it was the “frowzy corrupt air” from animals, humans and dirty clothes and beds that resulted in a cold, when they were “shut up together in small close rooms.”  It was cool, fresh night air that had many benefits.

Franklin’s opinion was inconsistent with Adams’ own experiences, Adams noted, but he was curious regarding Franklin’s theory. So, even at the risk of a cold, he opened the window again and hopped into the lone bed.

As they lay side by side, according to the diary, Franklin “began a harangue upon air and cold and respiration and perspiration.” Adams watched Franklin catch a cold.

“I was so much amused that I soon fell asleep, and left him and his philosophy together,” Adams wrote. “But I believe they were equally sound and insensible, within a few minutes after me, for the last words I heard were pronounced as if he was more than half asleep.”

Unfortunately, the ending of the trip was not a successful negotiation. Still, Adams was able to later tell others that Franklin may have understood lightning and electricity but he did not understand the components of the common cold.

DID YOU KNOW that when people are offered a new pen to try, 97% of them try it by writing their own name.

And for pic o’ day, here are two mischevious  friends that got into it:

two friends


Colds and Flu at the Law Office

I was at the Old Dominion/Richmond football game on Saturday. Just in case you had not heard; Old Dominion jumped out to a big lead and Richmond made a game of it at the end. One of those “barn burners, nail-biters, seat-squirmers”. Well, not that close. Had to throw that in as an old alumni for ODU… but I digress.

I had my eye on a box of popcorn. That kind of distraction kept me from noticing the woman in front of me who wound up, and then sneezed louder than the band playing. I bobbed and weaved. Fortunately, I think I dodged the germs.

This past week, someone came up to me and shook my hand. Then, she said that I probably should use some of that Purell sanitizer because she was fighting a cold. I offered a frozen smile and headed right to the dispenser. Fortunately, I dodged it again.

At the office, we offer incentives to encourage staff to get their flu shots. We do have hand sanitizer readily available and we encourage healthy lifestyles. You can’t get work done if you’re not at the office.

At, I saw an article titled “The germiest places at the office”. It is a good reminder to be alert. A Kimberly-Clark study examined 5000 areas in office buildings around the country and this is what they found as the worst places for workplace germs:

Break-room sink faucet handles, microwave and refrigerator door handles, computer keyboards, water fountains and vending machine buttons. Some explanation on those included that the break room is the first place that many stop in the morning, before they have washed their hands.

The article also included a reminder to soap up with hot water after touching common-area surfaces and remember to clean the surface of your desk and phone handles with disinfectant and sanitizer. They also threw in a reminder to regularly use a sanitizer wipe on your computer.

All good ideas as we head into flu season. Got to keep my eyes open, even when I am distracted by the popcorn.

For pic o’ day I am posting a cartoon that was sent to me. A reminder that life is how you look at it!

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