What, Where, When...?

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

   “I keep six honest serving-men,

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What, and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.”

~Rudyard Kipling~

 

Welcome to Leo Publishing’s What, Where, When...  We invite you to learn interesting facts about places, people and events.  We hope that you will find this page not only informational but also enjoyable.

                                                 We are now on FACEBOOK !

  If you have enjoyed our facts about places and events, please LIKE US on FACEBOOK.

 

 

 

“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.”

                                                                                                        ~Claude Monet

 

 The beauty of impressionist art of the late 19th century is evident in the works of French artist Claude Monet. Born in Paris, France, on November 14, 1840, young Monet had an early interest in art. In 1845, his family moved to Le Havre, in Normandy. Monet wanted to become an artist, despite his parents having other plans for him. On April 1, 1851, Monet entered Le Havre secondary school of the arts. Locals knew him well for his charcoal caricatures, which he would sell for ten to twenty francs. When Monet traveled to Paris to visit the Louvre, he witnessed painters copying from the old masters. Having brought his paints and other tools with him, he would instead go and sit by a window and paint what he saw. Monet served in the French military until he became gravely ill and was discharged. He continued to study and improve his artwork and was drawn to the “Impressionist” school of art, along with others such as Renoir, Lautrec, Cézanne, and Van Gogh. The works of Monet are among the most beautiful of the impressionist of artist of the later 1800s.

 

“Each reader needs to bring his or her own mind and heart to the text.”

                                                                                               Dean Koontz

 

July 9 is the birthday of prolific thriller and horror author Dean Koontz. Born in Everett, Pennsylvania, in 1945, Dean Koontz began his writing career in 1968 with his first published novel, the science fiction tale STAR QUEST. Koontz went on to write more science fiction novels before turning more to the genre of horror. A prolific writer, Dean Koontz managed to have eight of his novels published in one year. His real success came with his book DEMON SEED, which was made into a movie in 1977. As a result of the film, over 2 million copies of this book were sold. After this Dean Koontz books were constant bestsellers. As of 2006 he lives in Orange County, California, with his wife, Gerda. In 2008 he was the world's sixth most highly paid author, tied with John Grisham, at $25 million annually. This just goes to prove that you can get rich writing books. . . . but it helps if your book is turned into a movie.  

 

“You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.”

                                                                                            Robert A. Heinlein

 

July 7th is the birthday of one of science fiction’s greatest voices, Robert Heinlein. Born in 1907 in Butler, Missouri, Heinlein became one of the writers—along with Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov—who defined the genre of science fiction.  Named as science fiction’s Grand Master in 1974, Heinlein repeatedly addressed certain social themes: the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance as well as the obligation individuals owe to their societies. This is evident in his novel THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS. A graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy in 1929, Robert Heinlein held a degree in naval engineering and served aboard the aircraft Carrier Lexington. Heinlein was frequently interviewed during his later years by military historians who asked him about Captain King and his service as the commander of the U.S. Navy's first modern aircraft carrier. A good deal of Heinlein’s tactical concepts in writing STARSHIP TROOPERS came as a result of his military experiences. As a writer of military-themed science fiction, Robert Heinlein became a member of the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy (chaired by Jerry Pournelle), which met at the home of SF writer Larry Niven to write space policy papers for the incoming Reagan Administration in 1980.

 

“Without books I would not have become a vivacious reader, and if you are not a reader you are not a writer.”

                                                                                                          Ken Follett

 

June the 5th is a special day in the world of literature, for it is the birthday of Spanish playwright and poet Garcia Lorca, Suspense thriller writer Ken Follett, and children’s author Richard Scarry.

GARCIA LORCA

Garcia Lorca was born in Andalusia, Spain, in the year 1898. Garcia Lorca attended Sacred Heart University. During this time his studies included law, literature, and composition. As a young student, he felt a deep affinity for theatre and music than literature, although it was his works as an author that made him famous. Lorca's first book of poems was published in 1921, collecting work written from 1918 and selected with the help of his brother. Lorca had become involved in the politics of the Spanish Civil War, and it was in 1936 that he was shot and killed by the Fascist factions, or the Spanish government and military.

RICHARD SCARRY

Richard Scarry was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1919.  Scarry began his career in 1949 as an illustrator of books. By 1955, he began turning out original books. Richard Scarry’s books, such as BUSY TOWN, and his characters, such as the two detectives Sam and Dudley, have delighted young children. His books are largely populated by animals such as cats, rabbits, rats, domestic pigs, and mice. From 1976 to about 1978, Playskool produced a series of toy sets titled RICHARD SCARRY’S PUZZELTOWN. In the 1980s and 1990s, many of his Best Ever series of books were converted into popular animated videos. Richard Scarry died in 1994 in Switzerland.

KEN FOLLETT

Ken Follett was born in Cardiff, Wales, in 1949. An author of thrillers and historical fiction novels, Follett has sold more than 130 million copies of his works. Many of his books have reached the number one ranking on the New York Times bestseller list. Ken Follett has written 29 books in the past 35 years. His action spy-thriller novels THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE and THE KEY TO REBECCA have been made into films. His novels ON WINGS OF EAGLES and LIE DOWN WITH LIONS were sold to CBS for the film rights for $1 400,000, a record price at the time (late1970s). Ken Follett currently resides in the U.K.

 

 

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

                                                    Charlie Chaplin

 

  Charles Spencer "CharlieChaplin was born in London on April 16, 1889. He began in vaudeville and was discovered by American film producer Mack Sennett. He then went to Hollywood to make silent movies, developing the funny 'Little Tramp' film character. Chaplin's classics include THE KID, THE GOLD RUSH, CITY LIGHTS, and MODERN TIMES. In 1940, he made THE GREAT DICTATOR, poking fun at Adolf Hitler, who bore a resemblance to Chaplin. In his later years, Chaplin had a falling out with Americans, but returned in 1972 to receive a special Academy Award. In 1975, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

 

 

Joseph Pulitzer

 Most people have heard of the Pulitzer Prize. Did you know it was named after Joseph Pulitzer?  Pulitzer was born in Budapest, Hungary, on April 10, 1847. He came to America in 1864 and fought briefly in the Civil War for the Union at age 17. Pulitzer arrived in Boston from his native country the year he moved to US, his passage having been paid by Massachusetts military recruiters. Learning that the recruiters were pocketing a lion's share of his enlistment bounty, Pulitzer sneaked away from the Deer Island recruiting station and made his way to New York. He was paid $200 to enroll in the Lincoln Cavalry.

After the war he moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, to work in the whaling industry, but this was not the life he wanted.  He then moved to the city of St. Louis, where he was drawn into the words of philosophy and literature while studying English with a passion. On December 14, 1869, Pulitzer attended the Republican meeting at the St. Louis Turnhalle on Tenth Street, where party leaders needed a candidate to fill a vacancy in the state legislature. They settled on Pulitzer, nominating him unanimously, forgetting he was only 22, three years under the required age. He became increasingly involved in the world of publishing that led to a remarkable career in journalism and publishing. His newspapers included the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the New York World. He also endowed the journalism school at Columbia University and established a fund for the Pulitzer Prizes, awarded annually for excellence in journalism and other writing.

 

 

Taras Shevchenko

“Oh bury me, then rise ye up
And break your heavy chains
And water with the tyrants' blood
The freedom you have gained.
And in the great new family,
The family of the free,
With softly spoken, kindly word
Remember also me.”
~Taras Shevchenko
(Translated by John Weir)

“It makes great difference to me
That evil folk and wicked men
Attack our Ukraine, once so free,
And rob and plunder it at will.
That makes great difference to me.”
~Taras Shevchenko
(Translated by Clarence A. Manning)


One of the Ukrainian’s greatest poets, Taras Shevchenko, was born on March 9, 1814, in Moryntsi, Kyiv Governorate (at that time ruled by the Russian Empire). He lived many years of his life as a serf, dominated by his Russian masters, but they could not silence his soul. In addition to his being a great poet, Taras Shevchenko was also an artist and may have been the first in the Russian Empire to use etching. His artwork was noticed by the famous painter and professor Karl Briullov, who donated his portrait of the Russian poet Vasily Zhukovsky as a lottery prize, whose proceeds were used to buy Shevchenko's freedom on May 5, 1838.          

His first collection of poetry was published in 1840. The difficult conditions under which his countrymen lived had a profound impact on the poet-painter. His passion for his birth country, Ukraine, led to his arrest by the authorities, as his poetry was highly critical of the ruling Russian Tsars, and he was imprisoned in St. Petersburg, Russia. Taras Shevchenko spent the last years of his life working on new poetry, paintings, and engravings, as well as editing his older works. But after his difficult years in exile, his final illness proved too much. Taras Shevchenko’s dream was a free Ukraine, able to create its own destiny.          

 

  DON'T ENVY

Don't envy, friend, a wealthy man:
A rich man's life is spent
Without a friend or faithful love --
Those things he has to rent.
Don't envy, friend, a man of rank,
His power's based on force.
Don't envy, too, a famous man:
The man of note well knows
The crowd's acclaim is not for him,
But for that thorny fame
He wrought with labour and with tears
So they'd be entertained.
But then, when young folk gather 'round,
So fine they are and fair
You'd think it's heaven, -- ah, but look:
See evil stirring there ...
Don't envy anyone my friend,
For if you look you'll find
That there's no heaven on the earth,
No more than in the sky.
~Taras Shevchenko.
(Translated by John Weir)

* * *

 

“Of course, when you're training your whole life to get to the Olympics, you train for gold.”

~Shawn Johnson

 

Go for the gold! Today is the opening of the 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and is the first Olympics to be held on Russian soil since the breakup of the USSR, in 1991. The city of Sochi is located on the Black Sea and the Crimean Peninsular, near the borders of Ukraine and Georgia. During the time of the Soviet Union, Sochi was a “closed city,” meaning that it was off-limits to ordinary citizens and certainly off-limits to foreign visitors due to Soviet military installations near the city and naval installations on the coast of the Black Sea. This area was also the vacationing spot of the top Soviet leadership, as even Dictator Josef Stalin had a vacation dacha on the coast in Sochi. It is odd, however, that this city, known for a climate so mild that palm trees grow there, would be the location of the Winter Olympics.  The winter climate in Sochi is as mild as South Carolina, in the United States. Hundreds of tons of man-made snow had to be manufactured for many of the events.

Sochi was chosen out of the completion for host cities in 2007. Sochi won the competition over Salzburg in Austria and Pyeongchang in South Korea thanks mainly to its existing tourist infrastructure and strong public and political support for the bid, Russian president Vladimir Putin. The last Olympics before Sochi to be held in Russia were the 1980 Summer Olympics.

We wish all the athletes who are participating good luck in their respective sports, and hope all will return to their home countries safely.

 

 

Happy New Year- 2014!!!!

Take a look at some New Year’s facts from the reopening of the White House in Washington, after the original was destroyed by the British in the War of 1812, to which city is the first to welcome 2014, this January 1st!

1818 - Official reopening of the White House

1842 - 1st illustrated weekly magazine in US publishes 1st issue, NYC

1861 - President Lincoln declares slavery in Confederate states unlawful

1863 - Emancipation Proclamation (ending slavery) issued by Lincoln

1896 - Wilhelm Röntgen announces his discovery of x-rays

1908 - 1st time, ball signifying New Year dropped at Times Square

1985 - The Internet's Domain Name System is created.

2000 - Gisbourne, New Zealand population 32,754 is first city in the world to welcome in the new millennium

 

 

 

There are weapons that are simply thoughts. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy.

                                                                                                                       Rod Serling

 

 

You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead—your next stop, the Twilight Zone.  December 25 is Christmas Day, but it is also the birthday of creative genius Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, who, from 1959 until 1964, gave us the gifts of wonder and imagination, presented on small black and white television screens.

Rod Serling was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1924. In elementary school, Serling, like many with highly creative talents, was seen as the class clown and dismissed by many of his teachers as a lost cause. However, his seventh grade English teacher discovered him and encouraged him to enter the school's public-speaking program. Serling was also interested in radio and writing at an early age. He listened to various radio programs, especially thrillers with a fantasy or horror feel, and often wrote his own short stories based on some of those  radio programs.

In 1943, Rod Serling joined the United States army as a paratrooper. Much to Serling’s disappointment, he was sent to the Pacific Theater to fight the Japanese. Because of his Jewish background his real desire was to fight the Nazis in Europe. His outfit saw action in the Philippines. His experiences in the war shaped his political views as well as his writing, based on the amount of death and destruction he saw around him every day, including standing with a friend who was giving a comic monologue when a piece of ordinance decapitated his friend right before his eyes. Serling later set several of his scripts in the Philippines and used the unpredictability of death as a theme in much of his writing. Serling's unit battled block-by-block for control of Manila, with Serling winning a commendation for running into the midst of a Japanese artillery barrage to rescue a downed man. He survived the war with two wounds, one of them a serious injury to his knee that would bother him for the rest of his life.

After the war and months of rehabilitation, Serling enrolled in college, earning a B.A. degree in Literature. As part of his studies, he became active in the campus radio station, work experience which was often useful in his future career. While still in college, Serling won a trip to New York City and $500 for his radio script "To Live a Dream."

As Serling’s radio work continued to grow, he caught the attention of producers in New York and soon found himself writing television scripts for that early industry, often having to fight conservative management to allow stories that pointed out the folly of war and of racial divisions. By 1958, Rod Serling was given the opportunity to produce a pioneering script that bridged science fiction and the supernatural, despite strong reservations from the television production company’s management. The piece was a huge success and as a result, Serling was given The Twilight Zone as a vehicle for his and other writers’ scripts. During the five years the show was on, it broke new ground with amazing dramatic productions that were far more than entertainment; this was television that not only made people think but also made them change their thinking, giving up their complacency with what had been taken for granted in society. 

The Twilight Zone ended in 1964, but Serling was back in 1969 with a new show entitled Night Gallery, based along many of the same lines as The Twilight Zone. Despite his very busy schedule, Rod Serling also taught courses on film and creative writing. Rod Serling, always a heavy smoker, died in 1975 of heart failure; however, his contribution to the world of ideas and his genius, evident in nearly every episode of The Twilight Zone, will not be forgotten.

 

 

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

C. S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, Aslan, and the children—Peter, Susan, and Edmond—were the creations of the literary genius C. S. Lewis. November 29 is Lewis’s birthday. Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland in the year 1898. C. S. Lewis taught at Oxford University, had a career as a broadcaster, but was best known as an author.

As a boy, Lewis had a fascination with anthropomorphic animals, falling in love with Beatrix Potter's stories and often writing and illustrating his own animal stories. Certainly this influence can be seen in his writings of Narnia. Growing up as a young boy, C. S. Lewis attended a number of schools in Northern Ireland. By the time he was in his late teens he was at a boarding school.  It was during this time that Lewis abandoned his childhood Christian faith and became an atheist, becoming interested in mythology and the occult. He was a top student, winning a scholarship to Oxford; however, before he could attend, he was conscripted into the British Army during World War One. While fighting in France, he was wounded when a shell fell among Lewis and two of his close friends, both of whom were killed. The senseless horrors of the battlefield reinforced his atheist leanings while driving him into a deep depression.  Lewis was hospitalized for his wounds and then shipped back to England. He returned to Oxford after his release from the army to continue his studies.  Influenced by his friend and colleague J. R. R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit), Lewis returned to Christianity and fully embraced it. Saying, “I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed.”

C. S. Lewis is perhaps best known for The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of seven fantasy novels for children and is considered a classic of children's literature. Written between 1949 and 1954, these stories carry allegorical Christian symbolism and have been translated into 41 languages and have sold over 100 million copies. Shortly after this, Lewis met American Joy Davidman, 17 years his junior, and married her, knowing that they would only share a short life together, as she had terminal cancer. Joy died four years later.

In addition to his Narnia Books, C. S. Lewis also wrote science fiction. This was known as his “space trilogy,” containing themes of the dehumanizing effects of modern existence, as well as a second chance for mankind’s relationship with God in his second novel, Perelandra, which takes place on the planet Venus.

C. S. Lewis died in 1963, four years after the death of his wife. An excellent film of Lewis’s later life and his marriage to Joy Davidman is titled Shadowlands, and starred Anthony Hopkins as C. S. Lewis.

 

 

“A thermometer is somewhat more sensitive ... when put into boiling water, and would be easier to bring along when travelling at sea or land, especially on high mountains.”

Anders Celsius

One hundred degree water is pretty hot, but if you’re using a Celsius scale thermometer, your goose is cooked, because 100 degrees on the Celsius scale is the same as 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of boiling water. Like Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, the name Celsius is the last name of the inventor of this temperature scale: Anders Celsius. Celsius was born on November 27, 1701, in the City of Uppsala in the county of Sweden. He was a professor of Astronomy at Uppsala University. During his career he made the correct deduction that the aurora borealis (Northern Lights) was a result of the Earth’s magnetic field. Celsius also calculated the distance from the Earth to the Sun far more accurately than those measurements of his predecessors and was the first to carefully measure and to catalogue the magnitudes of over 300 stars. However, it was his invention of the Celsius scale of temperature measurement that he was famous for. The gradations for his thermometer are quite logical with 0 degrees as the freezing point of fresh water and 100 degrees assigned to the boiling point of water at sea level. Celsius originally called his scale centigrade derived from the Latin for "hundred steps." For years it was simply referred to as the Swedish thermometer. The centigrade scale or Celsius scale is the most commonly used temperature scale throughout the world with the Fahrenheit scale of temperature measurement still only used in the United States and its territories, and the Pacific Island nation of Palau.

 

Carl Sagan

 

“Billions and billions”: this is the quote most commonly associated with a scientist, author, and popular media personality, Carl Sagan. Sagan was born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 9, 1934. The billions and billions that he spoke of were the potentially life-bearing planets that populated the universe, spoken of in his award- winning television series COSMOS. 

Carl Sagan’s sense of wonder began at an early age, when his parents took him to the 1939 World Fair, in New York. Carl was five at the time. He was deeply impressed with the depictions of a future world, brought about by science and invention. His parents helped nurture his growing interest in science by buying him chemistry sets and reading materials; however, his real interest lay in space and astronomy. Like so many scientists, Sagan was influenced by reading science fiction as a boy. His focus was on the planet Mars, thought of at that time of being far more Earth-like than what had been discovered, once spacecraft were actually sent to Mars. Sagan trying to understand the mysteries of the planets became a "driving force in his life,” a continual spark to his intellect, and a quest that would never be forgotten. By 1960, Sagan had received his PhD in Astronomy. He used the summer months of his graduate studies to work with planetary scientist Gerard Kuiper, the man who discovered the comet belt beyond the orbit of Pluto which bears his name. Sagan was associated with the U.S. space program from its inception. From the 1950s onward, he worked as an adviser to NASA, where one of his duties included briefing the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon. Sagan contributed to many of the robotic spacecraft missions that explored the Solar System, arranging experiments on many of the expeditions.

Few of us will ever have the opportunity to create a message that may well outlive the human race or even our planet, but it was Carl Sagan’s idea and his work that is carried on the Pioneer spacecrafts, long having completed their missions in the 1970s to Jupiter and Saturn and heading out forever into the galaxy. Attached to Pioneer10 and 11 are plaques that can be decoded by an alien civilization, telling the location of the sun in the galaxy, and something about ourselves. Pioneer 10 will reach the star Aldebaran, in four-million years.  Far more complex messages that include recordings on a gold disc of images of our planet, people, and our environment were place on later space probes. These discs were carried on Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Both of which will pass in 300,000 years or so by stars with the potential for intelligent life.

Carl Sagan may be best known for his television series COSMOS and the book that accompanied it. This was a marvelous science and astronomy series on PBS television that fired the imagination of all who watched it. Sagan was also a science fiction author, with his novel Contact, the story of humanity’s first encounter with an alien race from the detection of their radio signals. The novel was made into a film in 1997, starring Jodie Foster.  This was an achievement that Dr. Carl Sagan would not live to see. He died of complications from pneumonia in 1996.

 

 

Author Margaret Mitchell

 

Want to know how procrastination starts? “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” November 8 is the birthday of novelist, Margaret Mitchell. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in the year 1900, this woman-author had only one best-selling book to her credit, but what a book!!--Gone with the Wind.

Margret Mitchell was of Scotch-Irish descent; her ancestors having immigrated to the American South in the late 1700s. As a young child, she had an accident that was traumatic. Although she was unharmed, when little Margaret was about three years old, her dress caught fire on an iron grate. Fearing it would happen again, her mother began dressing her in boys' pants, and she was nicknamed "Jimmy." This persisted until she was fourteen years old. As an only child, this may have shaped some of her thinking in the creation of her book’s characters.

As an emerging adult, Mitchell was steeped in the culture of the “lost cause” of the Confederacy and the legacy of defeat. Margaret’s grandmother would often take her by the ruins of southern plantations that surrounded Atlanta and also would show her “Sherman’s Markers.” The solitary chimneys of what were once houses; burned to the ground by Union General Sherman’s advancing army. The mythology of Southern aristocratic society, of gentlemen and Southern belles, also made up her cultural references. 

Mitchell had the experience of her own tragic romance to draw from. While attending school in 1918, she received word that her fiancé, Clifford Henry, was killed in action in France, during World War One. This greatly affected her personality when she later became a “great flirt,” in her own words and at one time was engaged to five different men. She wound up marrying a man with underworld criminal ties, perhaps because of her attraction to his “dark side,” but this marriage did not last long. It seems likely that Mitchell used some of his characteristics in the creation of Rhett Butler, the dark and tempestuous lover of Scarlet O’Hara, in her novel Gone with the Wind.

Gone with the Wind came about after Margaret had remarried. Margaret was a prodigious reader and while recuperating from a broken ankle, her husband urged her to write her own novel. Beginning in 1926, and for three years, she labored on her epic story. In April 1935, the manuscript was submitted to Harold Latham of MacMillan Press, an editor who was looking for new fiction. He read what she had written, and saw the potential of it being a best-seller. After some editing, the book was released in 1936 for the unprecedented price (at that time) of $3.00 (this would be equivalent to about $50.00 today). While critics gave the book so-so reviews, the public loved it, buying over one-million copies, as well as her earning a Pulitzer Prize. In 1940, Gone with the Wind was released as a major motion picture, an epic that was filmed in color. This movie has become an iconic symbol of film making in the pre-World War Two years.

Gone with the Wind ends in an unresolved manner and so, lends itself to a sequel; however, Mitchell said she did not intend to write a sequel to the book. If she had any thoughts of a second installment to be written in the future, we will never know. In August of 1949, Margaret Mitchell was struck and killed by a drunk driver while crossing an Atlanta street.

 

 

 

 

Happy National Authors’ Day! November the first is a day when we honor those who enthrall, inform, and entertain us with their literary creations. National Authors’ Day was the creation of Verne Burt McPherson, president of the Bement (Illinois) Women's Club in 1928. She was an avid reader and, while recuperating at a hospital, wrote to thank author Irving Bacheller, to tell him how much she enjoyed his book. In appreciation, he sent her an autographed copy of another story.  She thanked him for his gift by sponsoring November the first, through women’s clubs, as National Authors’ Day.   Later, McPherson’s granddaughter, Sue Cole, took up the task to continue to promote this day after her grandmother’s death in 1968. She has urged people to write a note to their favorite author on this day to "brighten up the sometimes lonely business of being a writer." So brighten up your favorite author’s day and read one of their latest books, and if you can, let them know you enjoyed the work they put into transporting you to another time and place . . .if just for a few hours. . . .

 

 

“I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.”

 

                                                                                                                             Michael Crichton

 

October 23 is the birthday of science fiction and medical-thriller author, Michel Crichton. Crichton was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1942.  Michael knew that he wanted to become a writer at a young age, having had a column published in the New York Times at age 14.  He studied literature at Harvard University, when he caught a professor with a personal dislike for Crichton. The man gave him consistently bad marks.
With inform to the English department, he submitted under his own name a work by a noted author George Orwell to which this professor gave a barely passing grade. Later, Michael Crichton enrolled at Harvard Medical School. It would be his medical knowledge that would help propel his writing career. In 1969, his second novel, THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, was published. This is a chilling tale of an extraterrestrial virus brought back from space that quickly kills anyone who gets near it. The rights to the book were quickly bought up, and it was made into a major motion picture. Michael Crichton was responsible for many blockbuster books that became movies, such as CONGO, JURASSIC PARK, and TIMELINE. His books have sold over 200 million copies world-wide. Crichton died in 2008. His last novel, PIRATE LATITUDES, was only partly completed but was released after his death.

 

 

 

Anne Rice- Queen of the Vampires

 

 Master of the vampire-horror genre, Anne Rice, was born on October 4, 1941, in New Orleans, Louisiana, a city of mystery and intrigue that Rice used to her advantage in her novel Interview with a Vampire. Anne began her professional writing career with the publication of Interview with the Vampire in 1976, while living in California, and began writing sequels to the novel in the 1980s. Her book was written in 1973 as a form of self-therapy after the death of her daughter. Of interest to aspiring writers, this best-selling book was rejected by a number of publishers. This caused Anne a great deal of emotional distress, and as a result, she developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Her book was finally accepted for publication after dozens of publishing houses had turned down her manuscript.

 After writing two historical novels, Anne Rice returned to her “vampire roots” and wrote more in what was to become a best-selling series of books. In 1988, she moved back to New Orleans. By then she was an established author, but not in good physical health, having developed diabetes as well as being significantly overweight. While having bypass surgery, Rice nearly died from surgical complications. As a result of her close brush with death, and as a lapsed Catholic, she came back to the Church as a strong believer. In 2005, Anne returned to living in California.

 Because of the success of her books, Interview with a Vampire was made into a film in 1994, staring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Another of her books, Queen of the Dammed, was released as a movie in 2002 but did not fair well at the box office. Rice distanced herself from the film as she felt the rewrites of her novel into a Hollywood script ruined the theme of the novel. 

 Becoming a literary success requires persistence. Who could imagine that a best-selling author such as Anne Rice would have her work rejected, but she was? She did not give up and did not quit her craft, even though those rejections cost her great emotional strain. Happy 72nd birthday, Anne, and keep those vampires coming.

 

 

 Famous Authors Born in the Month of September

 

There must be something very special about the month of September to have produced so many notable authors.

Leo Tolstoy- Sept 9, 1828: Tolstoy was born in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia. Tolstoy, along with Chekov and Dostoyevsky, is one of the most well known of Russian authors. Tolstoy was a writer of both short stories and novels and was a strong proponent of Christian belief. In his later years he founded a school for children in his birth city. Tolstoy’s most notable work, War and Peace, is considered to be the greatest novel ever written.

O. Henry- Sept. 11, 1862 was the birthday of William Sydney Porter, the actual name of the American short-story author O. Henry. He was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, at the height of the American Civil War. He came from a professional family with his father being a physician.  In his career as a writer, he worked for the Houston Post in Texas. He later wrote Cabbages and Kings from which the expression “Banana Republic” emerged. After moving to New York, he wrote 381 short stories. He wrote a story a week for over a year for the New York World Sunday Magazine. His wit, characterization, and plot twists were adored by his readers. One of his most famous short stories was The Gift of the Magi.

D. H. Lawrence- Sept. 11, 1885: The English novelist, born David Herbert Lawrence, in Eastwood England was one of the most notable literary figures of the 20th century. In addition to being a novelist, Lawrence was also a poet and a playwright, with many of his themes focusing upon the de-humanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. As a writer, Lawrence spent time in Italy with companion Frieda Weekley, where he completed his final draft of Sons and Lovers. By 1915, he and Weekley had married and he completed his novel Women in Love. In it, Lawrence explores the destructive features of contemporary civilization. His most notable work was Lady Chatterley’s Lover. 

Roald Dahl- Sept. 13, 1916: Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short-story writer, poet, fighter pilot, and screen writer. Although born in Wales, his parents were from Norway.  During World War Two, Dahl flew for the RAF and became a fighter ace. He was later promoted to Wing Commander and played a part in combating American isolationism prior to the Japanese attack on Peal Harbor. After the war, Dahl wrote children’s fantasy books. Some of the most notable of these were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang; and James and the Giant Peach.

Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky- Sept. 17, 1864: This notable author was born in Ukraine. A champion of Ukrainian national ideas, his first attempts at writing prose in 1884 were written in the Ukrainian language.  While working as a private tutor, he could study life in traditional Ukrainian villages, which was something he often came back to in his stories, including the 1891 Na Viru. His most famous work was Fata Morgana. During the Soviet period, Kotsiubynsky was honored as a realist and a revolutionary democrat with several of his books having been made into films. A literary-memorial museum was opened in 1927, in the house where he was born.

Agatha Christie- Sept. 15, 1890: Do the names Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple sound familiar?  They are the creations of the “Queen of Crime,” Agatha Christie, who according to the Guinness Book of World Records is the best-selling author of all time, with over four billion copies of her books in print. Almost all of Christie's books are well-known whodunits, focusing on the British middle and upper classes. Usually, the detective either stumbles across the murder or is called upon by an old acquaintance, who is somehow involved. Gradually, the detective interrogates each suspect, examines the scene of the crime, and makes a note of each clue, so readers can analyze it and be allowed a fair chance of solving the mystery themselves. Then, about halfway through, or sometimes even during the final act, one of the suspects usually dies, often because they have inadvertently deduced the killer's identity and need silencing.

H. G. Wells- Sept. 21, 1866: Herbert George Wells can be considered the true father of modern “hard” science fiction, where the technology in use is an integral component of the story. Wells, born in Bromley-Kent, England, began his writing career due to an accident as a child, which left him confined to bed for a long recuperation. During that time, Wells became a dedicated reader, letting books fire his imagination.

Later, he did a stint of teaching while improving his own writing ability. As a science fiction author, Wells’s works were highly imaginative for the era, with War of the Worlds setting the tone for all books of the “alien invasion” genre to come. His works were also very predictive of the future with War in the Air, predicting the use of bombers and fighter aircraft in warfare, and The World Set Free accurately predicting the development of nuclear weapons used for warfare. His story The Star accurately depicts what might happen to the Earth and the other planets of the solar system if a rogue white dwarf star passed near the sun.

Stephen King- Sept. 21, 1947: Stephen King is considered the modern master of horror, but his works also stray into genres of suspense and science fiction as in, Under the Dome. King’s writings have achieved the Bram Stoker Award, British Fantasy Award, and have been nominated for a Nebula Award. Born in Portland, Maine, he displayed an early interest in horror. His first published novel was Carrie, written in 1973, about a bullied teenage girl with psychic powers. He was originally discouraged with the manuscript and nearly threw it away. King received $400,000 in royalties when the book was optioned for the movie version of Carrie, staring Sissy Spacek as the psychic high school student. King’s prolific writing has included books such as Kujo, It, Misery, The Shining, and The Stand. In 1999, Stephen King was nearly killed after being struck by a car while out walking in his home state of Maine.

F. Scott Fitzgerald- Sept. 24, 1896: Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Fitzgerald’s novels are considered some of the most iconic works of the 20th century. He is also regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. By age 15 Fitzgerald showed a talent for writing and was encouraged to purse the literary field.  Fitzgerald attended Princeton University, where he honed his craft as a writer. Fitzgerald's writing pursuits at Princeton came at the expense of his coursework. He was placed on academic probation, and in 1917 he dropped out of school to join the U.S. Army. Fitzgerald also wrote magazine articles for publications such as the Saturday Evening Post. Of his five novels, he is perhaps best known for The Great Gatsby. 

William Faulkner- Sept. 25, 1897: Born in Oxford, Mississippi, “Will” Faulkner, as he liked to be called, spent much of his boyhood listening to stories told to him by his elders. These included war stories shared by the old men of Oxford and stories told by Mammy Callie of the Civil War, slavery, and the Faulkner family. In adolescence, Faulkner began writing poetry almost exclusively. He did not write his first novel until 1925. His literary influences were deep and wide. Faulkner attended the University of Mississippi, but he dropped out in 1920. In 1927, at the age of 30 he wrote Flags in the Dust, which drew heavily on his experiences in the South. Later, in the 1930s, MGM Studios offered Faulkner work as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1955 and again in 1963.

Shel Silverstein- Sept. 25, 1930: Sheldon Allan "Shel" Silverstein was a poet, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter, and author of children’s books. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, and had attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. In 1957, Silverstein became one of the leading cartoonists in Playboy, which sent him around the world to create an illustrated travel journal with reports from far-flung locales. During the 1950s and 1960s, he produced 23 installments called "Shel Silverstein Visits . . ." as a feature for Playboy. His writings for children were exceptional, such as in Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Missing Piece.

T. S. Eliot- Sept. 26, 1888: Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Many people mistake him for being English by birth but that was not the case. Eliot became a British citizen in 1927. He had spent the majority of his formative years in England and had attended Oxford University. T. S. Eliot’s most well-known work is titled The Wasteland.

Miguel de Cervantes- Sept. 29, 1547: It is assumed that Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henares, a Castilian city about 35 kilometers (22 mi) from Madrid. As a young man, Cervantes left Spain for Italy, where the culture of arts and literature was flourishing.  Returning to Spain, Cervantes joined the Spanish Navy Marines, where he was wounded in battle, taking six months to recover. In 1585, Cervantes published his first major work, La Galatea, a pastoral romance. His greatest work was Don Quixote, a work that satirizes the romance of chivalry and challenged the popularity of a form of literature that had been a favorite of the general public for more than a century. 

Truman Capote- Sept. 30, 1924: This remarkable American author was born in New Orleans, a city that is a mix of many different cultural influences. He had discovered his calling as a writer by the age of 11, and for the rest of his childhood he honed his writing ability. Capote sold his first work Miriam to Random House in 1945.  His novella Breakfast at Tiffany's was considered a turning point in his career. The work was eventually made into a movie that starred Audrey Hepburn in the lead role. Truman Capote’s novel In Cold Blood was an account about the actual murder of a family in Kansas by two psychopathic killers. This book, written in 1965 also became a movie. Capote said he had spent over four years researching and writing the book.

 


“You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

                                                                                                                                                              Ray Bradbury

August 22, 1920, is the birth date of science fiction author Ray Bradbury. Bradbury was one of the major science fiction authors of the 20th century, along with Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov.  Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois. In his childhood, he was surrounded by a large, extended family. During the depression of the late 1920s, he relocated to Tucson, Arizona, and eventually to Los Angles, California.  In 1931, at age eleven, young Ray began writing his own stories.

In Los Angles, Ray Bradbury had the opportunity to meet several movie stars of that era and had decided at a young age that a career in theater and writing was his future goal. Bradbury began reading science fiction in his teens, starting with H. G. Wells, Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Boroughs. Later he became a fan of Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. He also claims John Steinbeck, William Shakespeare, and Aldus Huxley as literary influences. One of Bradbury’s first stories, titled Homecoming, was picked out of the slush pile (unsolicited manuscripts) by then-editor Truman Capote (who went on to become an award-winning author). He found the story worthy of being published. By that time Ray Bradbury had just graduated from high school when he met Robert Heinlein, then 31 years old. Bradbury recalled, "He was well-known, and he wrote humanistic science fiction, which influenced me to dare to be human instead of mechanical.” You can see this influence in his award-winning novel, The Martian Chronicles. Bradbury had always said this book was not science fiction, but fantasy.

Many of his stories were sold to and adapted to television in the 1960s, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. Ray Bradbury’s novels lent themselves well to film adaptations. Director François Truffaut had adapted Fahrenheit 451, to a film, staring Julie Christy. It is a story of a dystopian future in which all information is controlled by a central government, people are fed mindless “reality” television programming and books that might contain ideas considered “dangerous” to the power of government control are burned.  Today, in light of new revelations about government control and spying on average citizens, this is a bit too close to reality.   Other works of his, such as Something Wicked Comes this Way and The Illustrated Man were also adapted to film. Bradbury died in Los Angeles, California, on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91, after a lengthy illness.

 

 

Alfred Hitchcock—master of suspense

 Hollywood’s master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, was born on August 13, 1899, in Leytonstone, England. As a director, Hitchcock had a career that spanned half a century and made films with some of Hollywood’s most impressive actors, such as Jimmy Stewart, Carey Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Grace Kelly.  For a great director, Alfred Hitchcock’s career began with an inauspicious start.  Hitchcock's first few films faced a string of bad luck. His first directing project came in 1922 with the aptly titled Number 13, which was cancelled before it was released, due to financial problems. Hitchcock then went on to direct a film called The Pleasure Garden, which was a commercial flop. After this, he had difficulty getting another opportunity to direct a film. Many people faced with repeated failures would have given up, but not Alfred Hitchcock.

The Lodger changed Hitchcock’s fortunes as the film won critical acclaim. In December of1926, Hitchcock married his assistant director, Alma Reville. After this came a string of successful movies such as The Man Who Knew Too Much, and 39 Steps. Hitchcock said he owed his success to the collaborative efforts of his wife. By 1940, Alfred Hitchcock was ready to move from England to the bright lights of Hollywood. His first American film was Rebecca, based upon the novel by Daphne du Maurier.  During the 1940s with America at war, films such as Saboteur and Life Boat, the tale of the few survivors of a German U-boat attack, won critical acclaim. However, it is Alfred Hitchcock’s later works that are most remembered, such as Rear Window, starring Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart, the story of a man confined to a wheelchair while recovering from a broken leg who witnesses a man murdering his wife in the apartment building across the street; North by Northwest, staring Carey Grant as an advertising executive who is framed for a political assassination; The Birds, a disturbing film about an ecological disaster in a small seaside town in which birds of all types begin to attack people, and his most famous movie; and the most terrifying, Psycho.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents was a thirty minute weekly television show directed by the master of suspense himself. These episodes, written like brilliant short stories, lent themselves well as suspenseful examples of the genre. It would be nearly impossible today to have a director such as Hitchcock producing this level of quality geared for television.

 

Settling in California, Hitchcock and his wife lived their final years in Bel Air, a community situated on the West Side of Los Angeles. Alfred Hitchcock died in 1980. 

 

 

July 20, 1969: the first men on the Moon

Sometime after 2:00 in the morning, Easter Time, millions of people in America and around the world, glued to televisions saw the first grainy black and white images of a space suit clad human walk on the surface of another world and utter, “That’s one small step for a man . . . one giant leap for mankind.”  It was the voice of Neil Armstrong, the first human being to set foot upon the moon on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the pilot and co-pilot of the Eagle, the expendable lunar lander, had traveled 248,000 miles though the most forbidding environment known to man, rendezvoused with the Moon that was moving through space at thousands of miles an hour, and set their spacecraft down within a mile or so of their planned landing area.

This story of triumph began in October of 1957 with the successful launch of Sputnik One, by the Soviet Union, placing into orbit for the first time in history an artificial satellite. This achievement was followed up on April 12 of 1961 when Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the earth. The USA had boasted of their technological ability. Now it seemed that this ability was second rate. A new and ambitious goal in space was chosen, a voyage to the Moon and back. This was the beginning of Project Apollo. Almost nothing was known of long-duration space travel or the surface of the Moon, with some scientists believing the lunar dust was so deep a spacecraft landing on it would simply sink and disappear. Over the course of time from 1962 to 1968 robot explorers were sent to Moon to test the environment with Lunar Orbiter in 1965 sending back the first image of the Earth rising over the Moon and the Surveyor probe landing on the Moon and proving the surface was solid.

At the same time, the Soviet Union had their own plans for a manned lunar mission to be captained by Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. The rocket designed to take him there was the N-1. Standing over 100 meters tall (350 feet) and with 36 engines, it was the rival of the American Saturn 5 rocket, but the N-1 had a serious flaw. The design and use of so many engines was beyond the computer technology of the 1960s to control. Two unmanned N-1 launches were attempted and both ended in catastrophic failures when the multiple engines of the first stage malfunctioned. After Apollo 8’s orbital voyage to the Moon, circling out natural satellite 10 times and returning, the Soviets knew the race was lost. 

After a four-day journey, the Crew of Apollo 11, Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins reached lunar orbit. Then came the hazardous descent to the surface. The computer controlling the automatic landing procedure crashed with Armstrong taking manual control. When they reached the landing zone, the two men discovered there were too many boulders to set down. Armstrong flew the lander to a smoother area and set the craft down with only 20 seconds of fuel left in the tanks. After spending a day on the Moon and exploring around the spacecraft and collecting samples, the two men departed in the upper stage of the lander, rendezvoused with Collins in the command ship and returned to Earth. This was an achievement of epic proportions.

The last expedition to the Moon was Apollo 17, in 1972. It’s about time that we went back and established a lunar colony to exploit resources that space entrepreneur Robert  Bigelow states are worth a quadrillion dollars. Now China has the riches of the Moon in its sights.  For a look into the future of this new potential competition read RED MOON, by Chris Berman, published through Leo Publishing. You can view the first two chapters at: http://www.leopublishing.net/ourbooks.htm

 

 

July 4th Independence Day

 

The government had become ever more controlling; affecting almost every aspect of the people’s live. Leaders opposed to the ever-growing power were monitored and harassed for their writings and opinion. More and more taxes were heaped upon the citizens with ever-greater restriction placed upon them in their daily activities and in their business ventures. Feeling they no longer had a say in their government and felt unrepresented, they took matters into their own hands. No, this is not a tale of modern America, but the American colonies in 1776, when after years of eroding freedoms and ever more taxes burdening the population, the leadership of the citizens opposed to the British Crown, took action and on July 4, 1776, in sweltering Philadelphia, declared independence from England, and thus began the American Revolution and the War for Independence.

 

Animosity toward the government of King George III had been building for some time. Restrictions on who Americans could sell goods to and buy from, ever-higher taxes and greater control by the Crown led men like Benjamin Franklin, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson to craft a document that would state the case of the colonies clearly and with finality to England that they were no longer a part of the British Empire, but a free and independent nation. Benjamin Franklin cautioned the delegates to the congress not to bicker and remain divided over the words of this document, saying, “Gentlemen, we must all hang together or we shall surely hang separately,” referring to the fact that what they were about to do was considered treason by England and that the penalty for treason was death by hanging.

 

When the final document was crafted, it was a magnificent work as well as a product of the Enlightenment, where the value of the common people was no longer considered subservient to those of the kings or emperors. The very first words of this document say everything about the rights of the people over the rule of tyrants: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

With those words began a struggle for independence that pitted a rag-tag army of American colonists against the most formidable army in the world with the first shots fired at Lexington and Concord, ending in the final surrender of British General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia, on October 19, 1781. Now the British Union Jack would no longer fly over American towns and cities, but a new flag, with bold stripes and bright stars would herald a new nation that would set in place a new era of liberty and self-government.

 

On this July 4th when you are with friends and family, at a picnic, or a fireworks display, remember why you celebrate this day and those who placed their lives in jeopardy, as well as those that died to make this day possible.

 

George Orwell

 Eric Arthur Blair was born on June 25, 1903. If you are not familiar with the name, you may know him better by his pen name, George Orwell. Born in India, George Orwell was the son of a British government official. At age one; he was taken to England by his mother, Ida Mabel Blair. There growing up, Blair (Orwell) developed a strong interest in poetry and literature and was strongly influenced by the writings of H. G. Wells.  In school, like many young and talented authors, Blair's academic performance reports suggest that he neglected his academic studies. He was more interested in writing than other areas of his schoolwork. His parents could not afford to send him to university without another scholarship, and they concluded from his poor results that he would not be able to win one. However, Blair (Orwell) enrolled in an accelerated summer course passing the university’s exam, coming seventh out of the 26 candidates who exceeded the pass mark.

In April 1932 Blair became a teacher at The Hawthorns High School, having abandoned a career in business. Later he took employment in a London bookstore, while continuing his writing, having had some publishing success. In 1936, he made a commitment to travel to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War against the Fascist government of Franco. Wounded in Spain, Blair (Orwell) returned to England in 1937. During WW2 he worked for BBC radio as a commentator. By then, he was using the name George Orwell. 

Orwell’s most famous literary work was titled 1984, written in the year 1948. The novel is a look at a dystopian world, where an omni-present government is in control of all aspects of the lives of the citizens of “Oceana,” a fictional nation where the population is under constant surveillance and anything that might be said in opposition to the “Party” will result in arrest and re-education for the speaker. The book is a stark warning of what can happen when free citizens lose their freedoms to government control. It is worth noting that in the wake of information that the American government has been collecting data on its citizens and using the power to the IRS to intimidate those opposed to current government policies, that 1984 is once again a best-selling novel. 

Another notable work of Orwell was Animal Farm, a novel in which different animals represent the mind-set of bureaucrats and government officials and was actually written prior to 1984. George Orwell suffered from Tuberculoses and died of the disease in 1950. Perhaps his most famous legacy was from his novel 1984 in which it was stated, “Big Brother is Watching You!” Today, that phrase is more chilling than ever.

 

 

  FATHER’S DAY

 

Sunday, June 16th is Father’s Day, a day to celebrate the father in your life, husband to a family’s children, companion, and teacher. Father’s Day began as a complimentary celebration to Mother’s Day back in 1910. Father's Day was founded in Spokane Washington by Sonora Dodd to honor her father who was a veteran of the American Civil War who raised six children by himself after the death of Sonora’s mother. She had heard about Mother’s Day in 1909 and decided there should be a similar day to honor the fathers of America, so she began in her local area of Washington State to try and promote it as a holiday. Sonora did not have much success initially. In the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying in the Art Institute of Chicago. After 1930 she began to push her idea in earnest, finding allies in the business world who saw a holiday for fathers as a new source of revenue.   She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers. By 1938 she gained the help of the Father's Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men's Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the commercial promotion. Through advertising and awareness, Father’s Day took hold and began to be celebrated in America on the third Sunday in June.

 In the early 20th century, there were competing voices of a day to honor fathers. For example, Grace Golden Clayton in 1907 attempted to create a day to honor the men killed in a mining disaster in her state of West Virginia. The mining accident took the lives of over 360 men, most of them fathers of young children. However, her day to honor these fallen fathers never extended beyond a few small towns in West Virginia. In 1911, Jane Addams proposed a city-wide Father's Day in Chicago, but she was turned down. Even the Canadians tried to bring about a day to honor fathers in 1911, in Vancouver, British Colombia, but it never took hold.

 Today, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June in many nations, including Albania, Bahamas, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, India, Ireland, and Vietnam. Other nations place this date in September, such as Australia, Latvia, and Ukraine; while others consider it a day to celebrate in November, such as Finland, Iceland and Sweden.

 Whatever country you live in and whatever day you choose to celebrate, to all the fathers of the world, Happy Father’s Day, because the most important people in your lives are celebrating you. Happy Father’s Day and may all your children cherish you year round!

 

 

MOTHER’S DAY

 On May 12 of this year, we will celebrate Mother’s Day. Traditionally in America, Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday of the month. It seems like this special day to honor mothers has been around forever, but the origin of this unofficial holiday began a little over 100 years ago. It is a tribute to the dedication of one woman that we celebrate this day. In 1908, Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in America. She then began a campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday in the United States. By 1914, she was successful but disappointed at the same time. By the 1920s, instead of a day of quiet reflection to honor mothers, it became increasingly commercialized with advertisements for flowers, candy, and cards. Jarvis's holiday was adopted by other countries, and it is now celebrated all over the world. In this tradition, each person offers a gift, card, or remembrance toward their mothers, grandmothers, and/or maternal figure on Mother's Day.

 While there already was an International Woman’s Day, celebrated on March the 8th in many countries, the new Mother’s Day holiday is recognized by some 90 countries using the same date as the second Sunday in May to honor mothers. Recent additions to the growing number of nations honoring moms are Ukraine in 2000 and Vietnam in 2002. Other nations chose different dates. For example in England, it is the fourth Sunday of Lent that is designated as Mother’s Day. Japan used to celebrate this day on May 8th since 1937, but then adopted the same second Sunday of May as the United States and many other nations in 1949. Today, Mother’s Day in Japan is a much-commercialized holiday. 

In Germany, Mother’s Day has a much darker history.  It was adopted as a holiday from America in 1923 with gifts of flowers and other small treats to mothers.  However, when the Nazis came to power in the late 1930s, the Nazi government used this day to encourage mothers of “pure Aryan heritage,” to produce many “racially correct” children for Germany’s planned expansion in their goal to conquer and populate all of Europe. After the defeat of the Nazis in 1945, Mother’s Day was again restored to a simple and thoughtful day to honor mothers. 

 What would your mother like for her special day? A smile, perhaps some chocolates, and flowers, but most of all she would like the love and the respect of her children for all she does for them during the other 364 days of the year. Let’s celebrate this day not just once a year, but let’s carry it out in our daily life.

 

 

Mutiny on the Bounty: April 28, 1789

 

 Without a doubt, the mutiny, led by Fletcher Christian, the second officer in command of the ship, is the most well-known mutiny in modern history. On December 23,1787, Bounty sailed from England for Tahiti with a complement of 46 officers and men, led by Captain William Bligh, they were on a mission to collect samples of breadfruit, a type of plant that yields an edible, starchy food for colonists and slaves in the West Indies, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.

 On the outbound voyage, there were few incidents that involved harsh discipline, such as punishment details or floggings.  However, during the outward voyage, Captain Bligh demoted John Fryer, who was the ship’s sailing master, over an incident that Fryer said was entirely personal between himself and the captain. This caused strained relations with the crew, who were quite found of Fryer.

 The Bounty reached Tahiti on October 26, 1788, after ten months at sea. The crewmen, having been confined to the 90-foot-long vessel, suddenly found themselves in a paradise of idyllic turquoise waters, flowering landscapes, warm breezes, and beautiful island women. Quoted from Captain Bligh’s logbook, “The women are handsome . . . and have sufficient delicacy to make them admired and beloved.”  Some of the crewmen had secretly taken wives among the native women and when this was learned by Bligh, coupled with the fact that crewmen were living ashore in an island lifestyle, caused a great concern for the captain. He felt, and rightly so, that he was losing control of his crew and ordered the men to cease having any contact with the islanders and confined them to the ship at night. As a result, crewmen Millward, Muspratt, and Churchill deserted the ship. They were quickly recaptured with Bligh wisely withholding punishment while they were still in Tahiti. However, that all changed once the Bounty began her voyage from Tahiti.

 The men, having lived among the Tahitians for five months, with many of the men having established commitments with the women, were reluctant to leave.  Many incidents that resulted in harsh punishments began to occur.  The ship set sail on April 5, 1789, to return to England, carrying over 1000 breadfruit plants. Whatever punishment was withheld onshore, where the men might have enlisted aid from the islanders in their defense, was now carried out with a vengeance on the ship, with floggings, the withholding of rations, and other harsh punishments in order to make the men obey out of fear. Bligh failed to realize that to the men, England was now a dreary, cold, and gray place compared to the beautiful island. Some of the men’s women were also now pregnant and the men were deeply saddened to be leaving. Fletcher Christian, who was very popular with the men, became the target of William Bligh’s wrath when he attempted to intercede for the crew.  One of the crewmen is quoted to have said, "Whatever fault was found, Mr. Christian was sure to bear the brunt of it.”

 On April the 28th during the night, mutiny broke out. From all accounts, Fletcher Christian and several of his followers entered Bligh's cabin, which he always left unlocked, awakened him, and pushed him on deck wearing only his nightshirt. There were 22 officers and men who had remained loyal to the captain.  These men, along with Bligh, were put into a longboat, supplied with provisions and navigation instruments and set adrift. Bligh and his men eventfully made landfall and survived.

 Fletcher Christian, now in command, turned the ship around and went back to Tahiti, where the men collected their wives and number of native men and their families to crew the ship, then set off to look for a sanctuary.  They eventually discovered that Pitcairn Island was misplaced by several hundred miles on the official charts of the British Navy and settled there, with the crew burning the ship to prevent being discovered. The result was less than favorable with fighting breaking out and several of the Englishmen and the Tahitians being killed, including, later on, Christian himself.  However, enough of the core of families survived to populate the island.  Pitcairn Island today is still inhabited by the descendents of the mutineers and the Tahitians.  The story of the “Mutiny on the Bounty” is so compelling that books have been written about it, as well as three Hollywood movies made about this most famous of mutinies. 

 

 

Breakthrough Woman Science Fiction Author, Anne McCaffrey

 Science fiction had for years been the traditional province of male writers throughout the “Golden Age of Science Fiction.” That was not the case with breakthrough author Anne McCaffrey, who was born on April the 1st, 1926, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her early years focused on academics, and she had graduated the prestigious Radcliffe College in 1947 with a degree in Slavic languages. 

 McCaffrey began her career as a science fiction writer when she had two short stories published during the 1950s. The first ("Freedom of the Race," about women impregnated by aliens) was written in 1952.  Her second story, "The Lady in the Tower," was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. These stories were a departure from male-oriented writers of the time, such as Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov. Anne’s notable work The Ship Who Sang was released in 1959. This led to a series based upon the first book. It was in 1967, the idea for her Dragonriders of Pern series first began to gel. This book evolved into a series of books that engendered a significant fan following. During the late ’60s, McCaffrey served a term as secretary-treasurer of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1968 to 1970. By then, women science fiction writers were becoming far more prevalent in the genre. By 1970, Anne moved to the nation of Ireland, which afforded her tax-free status as an “artist in residence,” a policy of that nation, created to attract writers, artists, and filmmakers from around the world to reside in Ireland.

 The works of Anne McCaffrey would be considered “soft science fiction,” somewhat along the lines of Ursula Le Guin, and Philip José Farmer, in which the science or the technology of the story plays far less of a role than in a story by Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote in the style of “hard science fiction,” which is more technology based. In 1987, Locus Magazine rated two of her “Dragonriders’ Series” novels in the top 33 all time best science fiction novels of the 20th century.

 Anne McCaffrey died in 2011, at the age of 85.

 

German Ace Adolf Galland

 Ace among aces, Luftwaffe General Adolf Galland was born on March 19, 1912, in the Westphalia region, Germany, to well-off parents.  Galland’s father was a land manager to Count von Westerholt, a German noble.  Adolf Galland’s love of flying came about with the building of flying models at a young age.  This quickly developed into his taking to the air as a young teenager flying gliders. Even at this age, he showed exceptional flying skills, setting an altitude and time aloft record in a glider.  This skill of his served him well during the Battle of Britain when his Messerschmitt 109 had run out of fuel while crossing the English Channel on his way back to his base. Galland managed to keep the aircraft aloft and glide it to a landing on a French beach.

 Adolf Galland’s early career as a pilot was marred by accidents, and he did not do well in formation flying, nearly colliding with another aircraft in training. Fearing he would be dismissed from the flying school, he vowed to improve and became one of the best pilots, selected as one of 12 out of 70 to compete against Italian aviators in aerobatic competitions. Galland’s heart was set on being a commercial pilot and flying passenger planes, but in 1933, while a transport pilot, Galland was approached by the newly formed Luftwaffe and asked to become a military pilot, becoming one of 900 newly recruited military pilots.

 During the Spanish Civil War, Spain’s Franco enlisted the aid of Germany in supplying planes and pilots. This marked Galland’s first combat missions, flying early Luftwaffe aircraft.  It was at this time that Galland began to adorn his aircraft with the image of Mickey Mouse, a tradition he carried on until the end of World War II. When war broke out with France in 1939, Galland, now a lieutenant, was flying Bf-109 fighters. In the course of two days, he claimed seven aircraft shot downs, making him an ace (Five victories are needed to become an ace.) By the late summer 1940, the Battle of Britain had begun with the Luftwaffe facing off against the British Royal Air Force, flying the recently introduced Spitfire, a plane equal to, and somewhat superior to, the German 109 fighter. Galland’s first fight against these pilots and aircraft was a disaster for his flight group, with the Spitfires shooting down four of the forty-plane group he was leading. By August of 1940, Galland had amassed 22 victories, but Germany was losing on his front. When asked by Reich Marshall Hermann Goering what support could he give Galland to assure victory, Adolf Galland in what would become his typical no-nonsense response, said, “Give me a squadron of Spitfires.” When asked by Goering, “What would you think of an order to shoot down pilots who were bailing out?” Galland replied, “I should regard it as murder, Herr Reichsmarschall. I should do everything in my power to disobey such an order.”

 One of the more interesting aspects of Galland’s life was his long-term friendship with British fighter ace Douglas Bader. Bader, who flew with prosthetic legs, was shot down by a pilot from Galland’s squadron, and captured. Galland visited Bader in the hospital and made arrangement with the RAF to have a new set of legs air dropped to where Bader was being held. He then hosted the RAF pilot at his airbase for lunch and a tour before Bader was sent to a POW camp.

 By 1945 and with Germany losing the war, Galland, now a general, was sick of Nazi influence and control of air defense.  When Goering called Galland’s men cowards, Galland ripped off his iron cross and threw it at the head of the Nazi Air Force.  Adolf Galland was arrested and held for treason, but due to the support and loyalty of his men, he was released and in March of 1945, assigned to lead a squadron of the new ME-262 jet fighters.  Galland scored 104 victories total before he was shot down in late April of 1945. Less than two weeks later, Berlin fell to the Red Army and Germany surrendered.

 Adolf Galland went on to have a career that included heading up the Air Force of Argentina, being involved in air transportation and aircraft design, and being a consultant to the West German Air Force. Galland, now settled in Germany, continued to be involved in flying until his death in February of 1996. Adolf Galland, along with four other noted aces of World War II, appears in Chris Berman’s science fiction novel, Ace of Aces.  (You can read the first three chapters on this link)

 

Yuri Gagarin- The first man in space

 Let’s go!” were the words uttered by Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin as he sat in his spherical space capsule atop the powerful Soviet built R-7 rocket. In that moment, on April 12th, 1961, Yuri Gagarin was just moments away from becoming the first human being to leave the grasp of Earth’s gravity and achieve orbit about the planet.

The future cosmonaut, Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, was born on March the 9th, 1934, in Klushino, Russia, USSR. His father was a carpenter and his mother a voracious reader. During the war with Germany, Yuri’s two older siblings were captured and taken to Germany as slave laborers. They both survived and returned home in 1946.

Gagarin was always interested in space and showed a talent for science. As a young man, he also enrolled in a flying club and became a pilot. After completing school, he became a military pilot, flying a MiG-15. Shortly after this, he married Valentina Goryacheva. By 1957, Gagarin had risen to the rank of lieutenant.  This was the same year that the Soviet Union placed Sputnik One, the first man-made satellite, into orbit about the Earth. By 1959, Yuri Gagarin had risen to the rank of senior lieutenant. Interestingly, 1959 was also a year of major achievements in space for the USSR, with a Soviet-built spacecraft photographing the Moon’s unknown far side.  At that time, Sergei Korolev, the father of the Soviet Space Program, was searching for the right man to become the first human being to be sent into orbit. In August 1960, Gagarin was one of 20 possible candidates chosen to be evaluated for spaceflight. One of his attributes was his quiet, friendly, and respectful nature that had impressed Korolev, and the other was his short stature of only 1.57 meters or (5 ft 2 in) tall. The spherical crew compartment of the Vostok spacecraft was quite small and could not hold a tall cosmonaut.   The launch took place on April the 12th of 1961, with Gagarin completing one full orbit of the Earth before his capsule reentered the atmosphere over Central Asia. Instantly, Gagarin became a national and a worldwide hero, honored in his homeland and in many nations that he visited on tour after his historic flight. 

Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 flight into space was his first and only voyage beyond the atmosphere. He became a deputy in the Soviet parliament and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, based at Star City in Moscow, where he worked on the designs of new spacecraft and assisted in crew selection and training. On the 27th of March 1968, while on a routine training flight, Gagarin’s aircraft went into an uncontrollable spin. He was unable to recover from the spin and was killed when his jet crashed. Gagarin was survived by his two daughters. Yuri Gagarin is a hero of the space age: the first of many astronauts and cosmonauts who blazed a trail to the stars. 

 

Celebrating Ukrainian poet and artist Taras Shevchenko

 Taras Shevchenko, one of the greatest poets and artists of the nation of Ukraine, was born on March 9, 1861, and is known as the founder of modern Ukrainian literature.  He was born to a peasant family in the village of Moryntsi in what was then the Russian Empire.  Despite his serf background Taras started to take some grammar classes at a local school, just before the death of his mother. Shortly after that loss, his father remarried a local woman with three children. Just a year later, his father died as well, leaving the young Shevchenko to fend for himself as an apprentice painter but was terribly mistreated and ran away. Later, he became a house servant to Pavel Engelhardt the head of a Russian noble family.  Engelhardt took notice of the young Shevchenko’s artistic talent and sent him to St. Petersburg to the Imperial Academy of the Arts, where one of his landscape paintings won a silver medal. At the same time, he began writing poetry, penning the famous collection known as the Kobzar. In 1841, the epic poem Haidamaky was released, and later in 1843 he completed the drama Nazar Stodolia.

While living in St. Petersburg, Taras Shevchenko made a number of trips back to his native Ukraine. He was struck by the terrible conditions that the population lived under while dominated by the Russian Empire and met with many Ukrainian authors and poets. Distressed by the conditions in his homeland, Shevchenko created a series of drawings and poems to highlight the conditions of the population and became radicalized, consorting with members of the Brotherhood of Saint Cyril. Shevchenko was arrested along with other members on April 5, 1847, for a poem, titled The Dream, attacking Russian Emperor Nicolas I and his queen.  His punishment was exile to a small military outpost in the Ural Mountains where Shevchenko painted military scenes. He was eventually pardoned in 1857 and allowed to return to St. Petersburg. Finally, in 1859, he was permitted to visit his native Ukraine, but his stay was short. He was arrested for blasphemy and sent back to St. Petersburg, Russia. Shevchenko spent the last years of his life working on new poetry, paintings, and engravings, as well as editing his older works. But after his difficult years in exile, his final illness proved too much. Shevchenko died in Saint Petersburg on March 10, 1861, the day after his 47th birthday. 

Taras Shevchenko has a unique place in Ukrainian cultural history. In view of his literary importance, the impact of his artistic work is often missed, although his contemporaries valued his artistic work no less, or perhaps even more, than his literary work. Today, Shevchenko’s works of art and poetry are known and respected throughout the world, with monuments and statutes to this man in cities such as Ontario, Canada, Washington, DC, and of course in his native Ukraine, including the Shevchenko University in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

 

Pick up your phone and say hello, thanks to Alexander Graham Bell

 The father of instant voice communications, Alexander Graham Bell, was born on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Nearly everyone on the planet in the 21st century takes the telephone for granted with some looking as if they’ve grown a cell phone as an extra appendage that has sprouted from one of their ears. It’s hard to imagine in this era of personal communications what it must have been like when written correspondence was the only means of communication over long distances.  Although it was in 1843, four years before the birth of Bell, that the first experimental telegraph, using a series of dots and dashes as code was installed between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland, it required a journey to a telegraph office to send a message that would then be delivered by a messenger. No one at that time had considered having a personal communication device within their home.

Even as a boy, Bell showed a talent for inventing and designed a simple machine to husk wheat, a labor that for centuries had been done by hand. At the age of 12, Bell built a homemade device that combined rotating paddles with sets of nail brushes, creating a simple de-husking machine that was put into operation and used steadily for a number of years. Alexander Bell also had a love and a talent for music. With no formal training, he mastered the piano and became the family's pianist. Bell’s early education was at home, but by age 15 he was enrolled in school. Like many genius inventors and scientists, he was not a promising student. Bell’s school record was undistinguished, marked by absenteeism and lackluster grades. His main interest remained in the sciences, especially biology, while he treated other school subjects with indifference. Bell, however left school, but became fascinated by human speech and the idea that the vibrations of speech could somehow be captured and transmitted over a distance by some means as yet undiscovered. He was also inspired to attempt to use some sort of device for those who were deaf. Personal tragedy befell Alexander Graham Bell with the death of his brother. Shortly after that, the family left the British Isles and moved to Canada, were Bell, now age 23, set up a workshop, experimenting with ways of transmitting vocal vibrations with electricity. 

Bell, still committed to working with the deaf, moved to Boston in the United States to set up a school. In October 1872, Alexander Bell opened his "School of Vocal Physiology and Mechanics of Speech,” which attracted a large number of deaf pupils with his first class numbering 30 students, yet he did not abandon his work on sending the human voice over long distances. In 1875, he had a breakthrough. Working with electrical engineer Thomas Watson, Bell had developed a working prototype of what would become the telephone. The following year, he had his invention patented only hours ahead of rival inventor Elisha Gray. On October 9, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson talked by telephone to each other over a two-mile wire stretched between Cambridge and Boston. It was the first wire conversation ever held. Within a few years after this, the telephone became a common sight.  By the early 1900s, telephone lines were linking the far flung regions together with instant communications. It must have seemed unbelievable at the time. 

Bell went on to develop the experimental “Photo-phone” that could transmit voice communications over a beam of light, foretelling fiber optics of the future. He also invented the metal detector, the hydrofoil, and experimented with early aircraft development. Every time you pick up your phone to either make a call or to receive one, you can thank Alexander Graham Bell for this wonderful invention.

 

Sir Douglas Bader, the Legless Ace

 February the 21st is the birthday of famed RAF fighter pilot and ace, Douglas Bader. Bader is a remarkable testament to the expression, “Never give up.” Although there were many RAF pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain, and later, in the skies over occupied France and then Germany, none had to overcome the extreme disadvantage of missing both of their legs as did Douglas Bader.

 Born in London in the year 1910, Douglas Bader exhibited a strong competitive streak as well as a sparkly intellect that eventually led him to become a student at Cambridge University.  He was also a very strong athlete, who was good enough to be considered for professional sports, such as cricket and soccer.  His competitive nature sometimes resulted in physical confrontations with other players.  It was his extreme competitiveness that led to the accident that changed his life.

 Flying was a passion of Douglas Bader and he soloed in 1929 after only 11 hours of flight training.  By 1930, he had become a pilot officer in the Royal Air Force, where he eared a reputation as a “daredevil,” often performing aerobatics below 2000 feet, a prohibited activity. On December 14 while he and some friends were visiting a flying club, some of the other pilots in attendance had goaded Bader into performing low-level aerobatics on a dare.  The aircraft he was flying lost power on a roll over the airfield with the plane’s wingtip striking the ground and cart-wheeling into a pile of wreckage.  It was extremely fortunate that the aircraft did not catch fire.  After thirty long minutes, Bader was finally freed from the remains of his plane, but both of his legs were so badly mangled that they had to be amputated. Having been removed from active duty, because of his injuries, Douglas continued to petition the RAF to return him to flight status, even taking an aircraft up to demonstrate he could still fly.

 In 1939, his persistence paid off with a return to active duty and the chance to fly a Spitfire, one of the world’s most formidable fighter aircraft of that time. Bader scored his first victory against a German ME-109 over Luxemburg on May 10, 1940.  With a German invasion of Britain a real possibly in the late summer of 1940, Bader, flying a Spitfire Mk1, raked up an impressive number of victories in a short time, becoming a wing commander and plotting a defensive strategy of the British Isles using what was termed the “big wing,” consisting of 60 aircraft in massed attacks against German bomber formations.

 On August 9, 1941, over occupied France, Bader’s fighter was hit and in a fatal spin. Douglas Bader managed to bailout minus his artificial legs where he was quickly captured by a German patrol.  While confined to a POW hospital, Douglas was visited by German ace Adolf Galland, who arranged with the RAF to have a new set of legs air dropped to the British ace.  Galland also hosted Bader for a luncheon on his honor at Galland’s airfield and the two men, despite being on opposite sides of the war, became life long friends.  In his short period of service, Douglas Bader scored 20 air victories. After the war, he went to work for Shell Oil. Later both a book and a film about the man titled Reach for the Sky were produced.  Douglas Bader passed away at age 72 in 1982.

 Douglas Bader, along with aces Greg Boyington of the United States, Adolf Galland of German, Saburo Sakai of Japan, and Soviet female ace, Lydia Litvyak appears in Chris Berman’s newest science fiction novel Ace of Aces. Read the first three chapters of Ace of Aces on Our Books link.

 

 

The birth of a revolutionary in the field of science

 February 19, 1473, is the birth date of Nicolaus Copernicus, the man who put the Sun where it belongs: in the center of the solar system.  It was Copernicus’s book, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, published just before his death in 1543 that is considered one of the most important events in the field of science. Born in what today is Poland, Nicolaus was named after his father, who was a well-to-do merchant who dealt in copper.  As a young man, Copernicus had a sharp mind and originally studied the laws of the Catholic Church.

 While studying in Bologna, he took an interest in attempting to proof Ptolemy’s mathematics for an Earth-centered solar system.  He soon realized there was a problem. Seen from the Earth, the planet Mars appears to move forward and then backwards against the stars, forming a loop.  Jupiter does this as well but since it is a great deal further away than Mars, the loop is less noticeable, unless that is what you are looking for.  The reason this happens is that while Mars and Jupiter are moving in their orbits, the Earth is moving as well and much faster, so it catches up with Mars and Jupiter and then passes them, giving the appearance that those planets are forming complicated loops in the sky.  This complexity did not sit well with Copernicus.  God’s heaven was supposed to be comprised of pure circles without having to resort to impossibly complex mathematics, for with Mars, depending on where it was in relation to Earth, those “loops” could be big or small; there was too much inconsistency to them.  In a move that would change everything, Copernicus recalculated the orbits of the planets, assuming that the Sun, not the Earth was at the center of the solar system.  Once he did this, the mathematics became simple and consistent. Since this went totally against the teachings of the Catholic Church, he kept quiet about his discovery and did not publish the results until just before his death in 1543.

 The irrefutable proof for Nicolaus Copernicus’s work came from the work of the scientist and astronomer Galileo, in the early 1600s. Using a telescope, Galileo discovered that Venus, like the Moon, exhibited phases. The only explanation for this was that Venus was orbiting between the Earth and the Sun, meaning that all the planets of the solar system orbit the Sun and not the Earth. The Catholic Church at that time was so opposed to this proof that it placed Galileo under house arrest. Thanks to the work of Nicolaus Copernicus, who proved a Sun-centered solar system, mathematically, Galileo was able to provide physical proof years later.


Jules Verne: The man who saw the future

 Jules Verne is considered to be the father of modern science fiction.  He was born and Nantes, France on February 8th, 1828, at a time when the industrial revolution was still several decades away and steam power was just beginning to be used as a means of transportation.  Verne, born into an age when science and industry was just beginning to make a quantum leap forward, saw in his imagination even greater triumphs of science and engineering: A manned mission to the moon, a submarine voyage into the ocean depths and even a future complete with skyscrapers, airports, and the Internet.

 Verne was born to a well to do parents with his father being a lawyer.  Jules Verne himself had begun to follow in his father’s footsteps as an attorney and in 1848 began attending law school in Paris.  His literary interests however drove him to write poetry   while his interest in both science and adventure led him to begin writing fantastic tales.  His father, upon discovering that his son had forsaken the law for a career as an author was outraged and withdrew his financial support, but Verne was not to be discouraged and sought writing advice from Alexander Dumas and Victor Hugo.  Jules Verne married a young widow who encouraged him to find a publisher for his manuscripts.

 In 1863, his first novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon was published, quickly followed by Journey to the Center of the Earth.  In 1896, his prophetic novel, 20,000 leagues Under the Sea was published, about the inventive genius Captain Neo and his submarine, the Nautilus, capable of remaining submerged for weeks at a time and diving to great depths.  It was not until the year 1954 with the launching of the USS Nautilus, the world’s first atomic submarine that such feats of fiction became reality.  Verne’s story, From Earth to the Moon was equally prophetic with three astronauts, launched to the Moon in December from the State of Florida, mirroring the Apollo 8 mission in December of 1968.

 In 1887, Jules began writing darker works. One of these was Paris in the 20th Century and was not published until the 1990s after having been discovered by a relative in a locked trunk of Verne’s belongings, long after his death.  This forbidding tale shows us a world of glass and steel skyscrapers and aircraft that can take us to any destination on Earth in mere hours, yet it points to a dark side.  Everyone has a “viewing screen” in their homes connected with a “Internet”. No one communicates face to face anymore and all entertainment is based on “reality shows.” The ultimate goal of society is to make as much money as possible and accumulate as many possessions as possible.  The main character is a young man out of his time.  He loves books, art, music and literature, all things that have been discarded in the materialistic 20th century. He dies impoverished and alone in the end of the story.  The amazing thing about Paris in the 20th Century is just how accurate Jules Verne was in his predictive tales of the future.

 For all lovers of science fiction, do not pass up the opportunity to read one of Jules Verne’s novels.  After 150 years, he will still amaze you.

 

Look Who Is Turning 100 in 2013: GCT

 

February 2, 1913, was the date that Grand Central Station in New York City opened for business. The huge rail station was ten years in the making, with construction beginning in 1903. This magnificent architectural achievement houses 63 rail lines, on two levels, with 44 platforms that create a massive commuter rail network serving the surrounding areas of New York and Connecticut.  The concept of the rail station was the inspiration of a multi-millionaire and railroad developer, Cornelius Vanderbilt.  The classical styling and ornate construction of this massive architectural marvel could never be duplicated in the 21st century as it would simply be far too expensive.

Grand Central Station, also known as Grand Central Terminal, served the New York Central Rail Road up until the time it merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad, and then became the government subsidized Amtrak. Amtrak today is a poor shadow of how rail service used to be in America before cheap air travel and the extensive highway system that links the country together took control of transportation.  In 1991, Amtrak moved their rail operations to New York City’s Penn Station, leaving only commuter service at Grand Central.

Grand Central Station is not just incredible above ground but below ground as well.  It is a sprawling subterranean city with shops, markets, art galleries, bookstores, clothing stores, and restaurants.  In fact, one of New York City’s oldest restaurants, The Oyster Bar, is housed in Grand Central Station.  The ceiling of the terminal is an incredible depiction of the night sky, with the zodiac and the constellations all outlined on a deep blue backdrop with illumination for the brightest stars.  In 1998, this magnificent piece of astronomical artwork was cleaned and restored to its former glory with workmen removing decades of soot and grime. Grand Central is such a well known landmark that it is the 6th most visited tourist site in New York City and has been used as a setting in over a dozen movies and television shows over the years.

If you are in New York City, stop by and wish a “happy birthday” to one of the marvels of the early 20th century.

 

 

 

Happy New Year!  New Year’s celebrations around the world!

Are you ready for a great New Year?  Here are the traditions of celebrations around the world!

Australia: January 1st is a public holiday but the party begins around midnight on the 31st of December with camp outs and picnics on the beach.  While we may be freezing on January 1st in the northern hemisphere, in Australia, south of the equator, it’s summertime!

Brazil: On the equator and still hot, hot, hot, a New Year’s tradition is begun with a bowl of lentil soup.  For Brazilians, the lentil signifies wealth. Boats filled with flowers and candles celebrate the goddess of water on Ipanema Beach in fabulous Rio de Janeiro.

Great Britain: British tradition is that the fist male to visit your home after midnight will bring you good luck for the coming year.  They usually must bring a gift, like money or food. If a red-haired woman is your first visitor, then that’s bad luck.

China: China actually uses a different calendar than we do and their New Year falls between January 21st and February 20th.  This is based on a lunar calendar.  For families, it is a time of feasting. There are street parades with dancing dragons and people in costumes. Peach blossoms are considered good luck and so are tangerines because of their bright colors.

Germany: In Medieval times, people would drop molten lead into buckets of water to try and tell the future from the shape it made.  A heart shape meant a wedding in the coming year and a ship signified a journey.   People will leave a small amount of their evening dinner to be finished at midnight to insure plenty of food in the New Year.

Japan: Japanese celebrate the New Year on January 1st with the ringing of a bell for 108 times to drive away evil.  All family members begin to laugh at midnight in order to bring good luck.

Russia: The New Year is a major time of celebration in Russia with Grandfather Frost, Ded Moroz, bringing gifts. At night, families gather for a New Year’s feast. Like Western Christmas trees, the Russian New Year’s tree is decorated and gifts are given.  It is traditional to stay up all night to welcome the sunrise.

United States: Americans will go out to nightclubs and parties.  The biggest celebration is held in New York City with the countdown to midnight and the dropping of the lighted ball in Times Square. People cheer and blow paper horns.

 

           Some notable events for the month of December.

 

 December 1st, 1906- Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for settling the Russo-Japanese War.  The war between Japan and Russia began in 1904 with an unprovoked attack on the Russian Naval Base at Port Arthur on the Korean Peninsular. Japan, fearful of Russian Imperial colonialism within their sphere of influence destroyed the Russian fleet while it was still in port.  This resulted in the great naval battle of Tsushima, in which almost the entire Russian relief fleet was sunk by a handful of Japanese warships.  Roosevelt and his team of negotiators met with both sides in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and successfully negotiated and end to the conflict.

 

December 2nd, 1982- The first successful implantation of an artificial heart.  Patient Barney C. Clark at age 61, a retired dentist, received the experimental heart in a historic operation that tested the limits of new technology.  While the operation was a success, the unknowns and early development of the device prolonged his life for only 112 days.  Newer designs have shifted from pump type hearts that mimic a natural heart to rotary devices that do not “beat.”  The current record for such a device is 17 months in use and still going.

 

December 4th, 1912 -was the birthday of famed US Marine fighter ace, Gregory “Pappy” Boyington.  Boyington was known as a colorful and often undisciplined individual, but a master of air to air combat.  After receiving flight training in Pensacola, Florida as a marine aviator, Boyington resigned his commission to join the American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers, in China.  As a Flying Tiger, Boyington claimed six Japanese aircraft, making him an ace.  Later, as a reinstated Marine Major, Boyington shot down another 20 Japanese aircraft. His squadron, VMF-214 was known as the Black Sheep. In January of 1944 while engaging a flight of 12 Japanese Zeros, Boyington and his wingman, George Ashmun, were both shot down.  Ashmun was killed but Boyington bailed out and was taken prisoner.  In the 1970s the television series “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” featured fictionalized accounts of Boyington and his squadron.  Pappy Boyington was played by actor Robert Conrad. Look for Greg Boyington in the upcoming novel by Chris Berman, Ace of Aces.

 

December 6th –St. St. Nicholas Day. (An Early gift for children in Germany and other Nordic countries in Europe.) On the eve of Dec. 6th children place a shoe or boot by the fireplace. During the night, St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, hops from house to house carrying a book of sins in which all of the misdeeds of the children are written. If they have been good, he fills the shoe or boot with delicious holiday edibles. If they have not been good, their shoe is filled with twigs.

 

December 7th, 1941- At 7:55 am, Hawaii Time, a force of over 350 Japanese carrier launched aircraft consisting of fighters, bombers, and dive bombers attacked and devastated the United States Naval Fleet at Peal Harbor.  This was an unprovoked attack that took place while peace negotiations were in progress between the US and Japan.  While there were many warnings and hints of a possible attack, no one department within the American military or the government had all of the information and the various departments did not connect the pieces of the puzzle. Army General Short, based at Pearl Harbor thought the threat was sabotage and grouped all US fighters and bombers into small areas.  This was ideal for the Japanese who destroyed almost every US aircraft while they were still on the ground.  The attack was planned and led by Japanese Admiral Isoruko Yamamoto.  Most of the US fleet was sunk and over 2,500 US personnel were killed.  This began America’s entry into World War II with Nazi Germany also declaring war on the US a few days later.   

 

December 8th, 1927- Cosmonaut Vladimir Shatalov was born in the Soviet Kazakh Republic. Shatalov flew on the early Soyuz missions in the 1960s and 1970s that helped perfect this spacecraft still in use today. He currently holds the rank of Lieutenant General in the Russian Air Force and in 1991 was appointed Director of Cosmonaut Training.

 

December 10th, 1830- Acclaimed American poet Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts. Dickinson was a prolific poet; fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime. It was not until after her death in 1886—when Lavinia, Emily's younger sister, discovered her cache of poems—that the breadth of Dickinson's work became apparent. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890.

 

December 15th, 1939- The movie version of Gone with the Wind, premiers in Hollywood and New York.  The iconic film staring Clarke Gable and Olivia de Havilland, was based on the novel by the same name, penned by author Margret Mitchell. Gone With the Wind, a story set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, was one of the first films to be shot using the Technicolor process.

 

 December 16th, 1917 -was the birthday of one of the world’s most acclaimed science fiction writers, Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke, who was born in Somerset, England, began writing in the late 1930s, but it was his short story, Rescue Party that was first published in 1946.  In 1948, he wrote the short story The Sentinel which eventually morphed and grew into the novel, 2001.  In 1967, Director Stanley Kubrick and Clarke collaborated in the making of 2001, A Space Odyssey into one of the best know science fiction films of all time.  Clarke followed up with the series writing 2010 (also a movie with actress Helen Mira, Roy Scheider and a Russian cast) 2061 and 3001.  Clarke was also known for novels such as the “Rama” series, and Childhood’s End.  One of Clarke’s greatest regrets was never copyrighting his calculations for communications satellites, which he predicted in the 1940s. This technology is indispensable today.  Arthur Clarke died at the age of 90, in 2008.

 

December 19th, 1732- Poor Richard’s Almanac was first published by Benjamin Franklin.  Franklin was an author, scientist, inventor, statesman, and revolutionary who was an active participant in American independence and later became an American ambassador.  Poor Richard’s Almanac contained many witty anecdotes such as: “Fish and Visitors stink after three days,” “A country man between two lawyers, is like a fish between two cats”and“Tart Words make no Friends: a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a Gallon of Vinegar.”

 

December 25th, 336 AD- The first recorded Christmas is celebrated in Rome.  The actual date of the birth of Jesus is subject to debate but it is believed to have occurred in April, not December.  During the age of the Roman Empire, Christians were persecuted and had to hold their religious services and celebrations in secret.  December 21st, the winter solstice, was a celebration day in Rome to honor their gods, so it is possible Christians chose this time to celebrate the birth of Christ so as not to draw attention to themselves.  The date of December the 25th has stuck as Christmas Day with gift giving and Christmas trees, those being an influence from Germany in the 1600s.  The evergreen tree symbolized the promise of eternal life made by Jesus Christ to those who would believe in him. Christmas is the theme of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: A tale of the miser, Scrooge, who discovers the joy of giving not too late to save his soul.  The Nutcracker is a wonderful ballet that celebrates the Christmas season.  Russian Orthodox Christmas using the old Julian Calendar is celebrated n January 7th.  No matter what date you celebrate this holiday on: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

December 30th, 1922- Vladimir Lenin established the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) incorporating nearby independent nations into the massive Soviet Union.  .  The USSR became a formidable world industrial power, defeated Nazi Germany in World War Two, placed the first satellite into Earth Orbit and put Yuri Gagarin, the first man into space in 1961. A combination of bad political leaders, a central government run economy and communist philosophy, over- spending on the Soviet Military without a competitive consumer and market based economy, doomed the nation.  The USSR dissolved into 15 independent republics in 1991.

 

 December 31st, 1879- After a thousand failures, inventor Thomas Alva Edison made his first public demonstration of the electric light bulb.  His invention revolutionized the world, eventually bringing electric light to every home and banishing the darkness.

 

 December 31st, 2012- New Year’s Eve.  Goodbye 2012 and welcome 2013.  Here’s to a very good year for all. (Don’t worry about the 13 part).  Happy New Year from Leo Publishing!

 

            Some notable events for the month of November.

 

November 1st, 1512- After 4 intense years of work, Michelangelo reveals the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to the world.  The images include the creation where God gives life to Adam. The ceiling also depicts the last judgment.  This work of art is considered one of the true masterpieces in existence today.

 

 

 

November 1st 1604- Shakespeare’s Othello, a tale of jealousy and betrayal is first performed at the Globe Theater in London.  There have been many great actors playing Othello the Moore, who has been connived into believing his wife has been unfaithful by an evil member of his court. The character of Othello has been portrayed by many actors in history.  However, none is more famous for his depiction of Othello, than actor James Earl Jones.

 

November 1st, 1723- Marks the birth of Russian, Ivan Ivanovich Shuvalov, founder of the Moscow University.   Shuvalov was born in Moscow and was the only son of a Russian Army Captain.  Because of his family’s connections with the Russian nobility, he became a page to the royal court at age 14. Shuvalov was a product of the Enlightenment and valued education as a means of uplifting Russian status in Europe and in becoming a significant European power.  On January 23, the Empress endorsed his project to set up the Moscow University "for all sorts and conditions of people.” Shuvalov brought in the finest scholars in Russia and Europe to teach there.  Today, Moscow University is still considered a significant institution of higher learning.

 

November 1st, 1848- The first women’s medical school opened in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Boston University School of Medicine was originally known as New England Female Medical College.  The institution was reformed and renamed in 1873 when Boston University merged with the New England Female Medical College. Upon the renaming, BUSM continued its progressive tradition of medical education for both men and women, and for all races and ethnicities.

 

November 1st, 1928- The founding of Author’s Day.  This is the date of the first celebration of Author’s Day.  Now you too can celebrate literature in all its forms on Authors’ Day, and show your appreciation for the incredibly hard work put in by the authors behind your favorite writings.  To all of the world’s authors, this is your day!

 

November 1st, 1944- The invisible six-foot-tall rabbit first appeared (or not) upon the stage in New York City, in the play “Harvey.” This play, written by Mary Chase, is about an eccentric man whose claimed companion is an invisible rabbit that no one can see.  The play has gone on to become a classic with a movie version made in 1950 staring actor Jimmy Stewart. So engrossing is the performance, that many movie goers thought they had seen the rabbit toward the end of the film. (No rabbit is shown.)

 

November 3rd, 1957- In a dramatic follow up to the world’s first successful launch of a satellite into Earth orbit, the USSR launches Sputnik 2- a heavier and more advanced orbital spacecraft.

November 4th, 1922- Egyptian King Tutankhamen’s tomb is first entered.  This tomb had avoided the grave robbers over the centuries and contained a fabulous amount of treasure and artifacts that had belonged to the boy king. There was a legend of a curse upon the tomb, and this legend has been enhanced by the fact that many who first entered the tomb died mysteriously weeks, months, and years later.

 

 

 

November 5th, 1605- Guy Fawkes Day.  The infamous gunpowder plot when Catholic Guy Fawkes was to carry out the assassination of the King of England and Parliament by placing large quantities of gunpowder below the chambers of Parliament.  The target was King James the 1st.  The goal was to restore a Catholic monarchy to the throne of England.  During the early hours of 5th November, guards found Fawkes guarding the explosives. Over the next few days, he was questioned and tortured, and eventually he broke. Fawkes was sentenced to be executed for treason and met his death on January 31st, 1605. Fawkes became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in England since 5th November, 1605.

 

November 6th, 1861- Jefferson Davis was elected as the president of the Confederate States of America when the southern states seceded from the Union. Davis resided in the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia until Union troops began closing in during the final months of the American Civil War.  Davis escaped but was finally captured in Georgia and charged, but never tried, for treason.

 

November 7th, 1913- Author, Poet, and Philosopher Albert Camus was born in Algeria.  Camus was known for his opposition to Nihilism, a philosophical school of thought that considered life meaningless.  In 1957, Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Camus rejected labels and specific political identifications, rejecting both Communism and Capitalism.  Albert Camus died on January 4th, 1960.

 

November 8th, 1793- One of the world’s most famous museums, the Louver, opened in Paris, France.  Today, the Louver contains works of art by many of the most famous painters who have ever lived.

 

November 8th, 1932- Noted science fiction author Ben Bova was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bova began his writing career after working on the US space satellite Vanguard program and on applications for lasers in the 1960s.  In 1972, he became the editor for Analogue Magazine.  One of his early works was the exciting novel, Millennium, a tale of a Russian-American lunar colony that declares independence from Earth’s governments. Many later books of Bova’s are inspiring stories of human exploration and the triumph of science over ignorance and superstition.  Some of these later works include his Mars series, Voyagers, Jupiter and others.  Ben Bova writes in the genre of hard science fiction and has been a consultant on several TV series, including the Land of the Lost, a children’s adventure show about time travel, and “The Star Lost,” a show about a generation ship carrying the remnants of the human race to a planet in orbit about another star.  Recently, Bova has ventured into the realm of the techno-thriller with his Able-One, a story of a North Korean attempt to cripple the United States by launching EMP  weapons over the Western United States. Bova holds a PhD and is a Hugo Award winning author. Happy Birthday Ben Bova!

 

November 11th, 1918- The guns finally fell silent on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, ending World War One.  It was supposed to be a war to end all wars.  It was a harbinger of the horrors to come with aerial bombing and strafing, the use of poison gas, tank warfare, and the use of the machine gun.  Instead, the armistice was a mere intermission before the even greater horrors of the Second World War, begun in 1939.

 

November 13th, 1928- The first underwater automobile tunnel opened in New York, linking New York City to the State of New Jersey.  The Holland Tunnel, Begun in 1920 and completed in 1928 was named after the chief engineer on the project, Clifford Holland. It is still in use today.

 

November 14th, 1851- “They call me Ishmael.” Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s novel of the tormented Captain Ahab, who searches the world’s oceans for his final revenge against the great white whale, Moby Dick, was first published.  Melville, living at the time in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, saw in the snow-covered slopes of Mount Greylock, the shape of an enormous white whale.  Melville himself had crewed aboard a whaling ship, so his story is technically accurate.  Moby Dick has two dimensions.  On one level it is an exciting, but tragic, adventure tale.  On another, it explores the psychology of obsession and revenge. The theme of Moby Dick carries on today in the likes of Captain Quint, in Jaws and Khan in Star Trek II, the Wrath of Khan.  Although it may be hard to believe, Melville’s iconic manuscript had its share of rejections.  Here is one of them: It was termed "unsuitable for the juvenile market."

 

November 16th, 1982- The Space Shuttle Columbia completed its first flight.  The reusable space ship was designated OV-102.  The first flight was, designated STS-1 was commanded by John Young, a veteran Gemini and Apollo astronaut. Space Shuttle Columbia flew 28 flights, spent 300.74 days in space, completed 4,808 orbits, and flew 125,204,911 miles, enough to have traveled to Mars and back. Columbia was destroyed at about 0900 EST on February 1, 2003 while re-entering the atmosphere.  When the shuttle took off, unknown to the crew, a large piece of insulation on the main fuel tank came loose, striking the leading edge of one of the spacecraft’s wings, punching a hole in it. During the heat of reentry, the wing disintegrated. The Columbia and all aboard were lost in the accident.

 

November 19th, 1863 – Marked one of the most famous speeches in American history: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  The Union had won the Battle of Gettysburg, but at a tremendous cost in men.  For the South, their losses were unrecoverable, and this battle marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. Beginning with the now-iconic phrase, "Four score and seven years ago," referring to the founding of the United States, Lincoln proclaimed the battle site as hallowed ground and spoke of the day when a divided America would be reunited once again.

 

November 20th, 1954- Universal Children’s Day. It was established in 1954 to protect children working long hours in dangerous circumstances and allow all children access to an education. The UN General Assembly recommended that all countries should establish a Universal Children's Day on an "appropriate" day.

 

November 22nd, 1963- President John F. Kennedy is shot and killed while riding in a motorcade in Dallas Texas.  Kennedy’s open car provided no protection.  The fatal shot was fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, but many to this day believe there was more than one assassin as there were reports of a man with a gun on a grassy area off to one side of the road.  Texas Governor John Connelly was also shot and wounded as he rode in the same car with Kennedy, adding to the suspicion that more than one gunman was involved in the shooting.  Almost anyone who was alive that day and is still alive today can remember where they were when the news of Kennedy’s shooting was broadcast. 

 

November 24th, 1729  - Is the birthday of Russian military genius Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov. Suvorov is one of the few generals in history who never lost a battle. He taught his soldiers to attack instantly and decisively: "Attack with the cold steel! Push hard with the bayonet!" He joked with the men, calling common soldiers 'brother', and shrewdly presented the results of detailed planning and careful strategy as the work of inspiration. As a boy, Alexander (nicknamed Sasha) was a sickly child and his father assumed he would work in civil service as an adult. However, he learned to read French, German, Polish, and Italian, and devoted himself to intense study of the military.  The famous Suvorov Military Academy in Russia was named after him. With more that sixty victorious battles to his credit, he even garnered praise from other great military leaders of his age. Lord Horatio Nelson wrote to Suvorov: "I am being overwhelmed with honors, but I was to-day found worthy of the greatest of them all: I was told that I was like you. I am proud that, with so little to my credit, I resemble so great a man."  One can read Suvorov’s book, The Art of Victory, written in 1795.

 November 25th, 1880- This is the birthday of author Leonard Woolf who was the husband of author Virginia Woolf.  Woolf was born in London, as the third of ten children. In 1919 Woolf became editor of the International Review, and edited the international section of the Contemporary Review (1920–1922). He was literary editor of Nation Athenaeum and for a time served as secretary of the  British Labour Party's advisory committees on international and colonial questions.

 

November 25th, 1952- Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap, a psychological game of hunter and hunted, opened in London. This play has been running continuously since then. It has the longest initial run of any play in history, with over 24,500 performances so far. It is the longest running show (of any type) of the modern era. The play is also known for its unexpected ending, which the audiences are traditionally asked not to reveal after leaving the theatre.

 

November 26th, 1789- “Pass the turkey, please.”  Thanksgiving becomes a national holiday.  Although today we associate this holiday that features turkey dinners and pumpkin pies with the Pilgrims of Plymouth Massachusetts, it really had more to do with America winning the a war for independence from Great Britain.  Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the third Thursday of the month of November. This year, the date is November the 22nd.

 

November 30th, 1835- Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was born in the town of Florida, Missouri.  Clemens, or Mark Twain (his pen name) is one of the most famous American writers, known worldwide for his novels such as Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and other notable works. He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker. His wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. Twain was fascinated with science and scientific inquiry. He developed a close and lasting friendship with Nikola Tesla, and the two spent much time together in Tesla's laboratory.  This may have fueled his imagination for writing his time travel story, A Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.  Clemens died in the year 1910.  Curiously in the year of his birth, Halley’s Comet appeared in the sky as it did in the year of his death.

 

                 Some notable events for the month of October.

October the 2nd, 1908- The era of personal transportation began with Henry Ford’s introduction of the Model-T automobile.  The Model-T revolutionized transportation as well as manufacturing, inducing the use of the assembly line to build cars faster and cheaper.  Prior to the Model-T, the cost of an automobile was well outside of the salaries of most Americans.  Ford said he built his car for the average working family so that anyone could afford it.  The little 4 cylinder engine produced 20 horse power and could propel the car to a top speed of about 45 mph.  This is a perfect example of private industry improving the lives of average people, not the government.  Henry Ford and his company built the Model-T and nobody else did it for him.

 

October 4th, 1957- The conquest of space begins with the launch of Sputnik I into Earth orbit.  The father of the Soviet Space Program, Sergei Korolev, who was born in Ukraine, had designed the R-7 multi-stage rocket to place a satellite into orbit during the International Geophysical Year, a celebration of scientific achievement.  The 84 kilogram (184 pound) orbital satellite completed one orbit every 96 minutes.  The orbit was highly elliptical with a perigee of 135 miles and a apogee of over 500 miles.  Sputnik remained in orbit for a little over three months until it reentered the atmosphere in 1958.  The Soviet achievement in space was a wakeup call to the United States which began playing  catch up to the Soviets with their own space program. 

 

October 5th, 1962- The Beetles first hit song, Love Me Do, was released in England. Producer George Martin was at first reluctant to use the song, a Beetles original composition, and wanted them to do a cover version of another song.  The Beetles prevailed and the song was released, although not with drummer Pete Best.  He was replaced by Ringo Starr, who would stay with the Beetles until they disbanded in 1970.

 

October 9th, 1000 AD- Leif Erikson discovers Vinland.  During the Medieval Warm Period, a period of global warming that lasted for nearly 200 years, the coasts of Scandinavia and Greenland remained ice free throughout the year.  During this time, the Norsemen or the Vikings, expanded their territory throughout Europe and even into the Black Sea and across the Atlantic to settle in Greenland and Iceland.  Vinland is part of Northern Canada, near the St. Lawrence River.  It was named Vinland ,or “Wine-land” do to the abundance of grapes that the warm temperatures of the Medieval Warm Period made possible.  The Viking colonies and their expansion came to a halt with the beginning for the Little Ice Age, a period of global cooling that froze over Greenland, Northern Europe and North America.  It would be almost 500 more years before Europeans came to North America once again.

 

 October 10th, 2010- (10/ 10/ 10), Happy Birthday Leo!  Leo Publishing, LLC, opened for business, releasing its first novel, Star Pirates, by Chris Berman in 2011.  Since that time, Leo Publishing, LLC has released four additional books and will be released another four before the spring of 2013. Leo is on the prowl, looking for talented authors to add to the pride. 

 

October 10th, 1999-The world’s largest Ferris Wheel, the London Eye, opened as part of London’s Millennium Project.  The giant wheel is 135 meters high ( 446 feet) and towers over the London waterfront.  It attracts 10,000 visitors a day.

 

October 10th, 1967-The United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty comes into force.  It prohibits the placement in outer space or on the moon or any celestial body, nuclear weapons.  It also prohibits any nation from claiming for commercial or national purposes any celestial body or the resources’ of that body, such as the Moon.  However, the treaty contains an “escape clause.” Any nation can withdraw from the treaty with one-year’s notice providing they can demonstrate the ability to actually claim celestial resources.  In author Chris Berman’s novel, RED MOON, China lands a military expedition on the Moon’s South Pole in 2018 and claims both mineral resources and the abundant water ice below the lunar surface for China.  America, with a space program hobbled by the prior administration, must form an international coalition to stake a counterclaim before time runs out.  According to private space entrepreneur, Robert Bigelow, this is a real possibility. 

 

 October 10th, 1913- The Panama Canal opens, connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific, giving passenger and cargo ships the means to sail from one ocean to another without having to go around the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn. Work began on the 82 kilometer long canal in 1881 and even today, it is considered one of the greatest engineering achievements in history.

 

October 11th, 1984- “Watch that first step.  It’s a long way down,” said Shuttle Commander Robert L. Crippen  NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan is the first woman to go for a space walk as part of Shuttle Mission STS-41-G.  Dr. Sullivan has flown on three space missions.

 

October 14th, 1912- President Theodor Roosevelt is nearly assassinated when an anarchist fires a pistol at him from just six feet away (two meters).  Roosevelt was in the middle of a speech when John Schrank fired a .32 caliber revolver at him.  The small size of the low velocity bullet struck Roosevelt’s eyeglass case and a manuscript that he had in his pocket.  These absorbed most of the force of the bullet that did lodge in his chest, just below the skin.  Roosevelt continued to speak for almost an hour before heading off to have the bullet removed.

 

October 15th, 1951- “Hey Lucy … I’m home!” On this date in history, the beloved, “I love Lucy” began on CBS television. The show, featuring Lucile Ball and Desi Arnez became an instant hit.  The show ran until May of 1957.

 

 

October the 19th, 1781-America is victorious in its war for independence from England.  On this date, British General Cornwallis surrendered to American General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia.

 

October the 21st, 1805- This date begins one of the greatest naval military victories in history when Admiral Horatio Nelson’s fleet engages the French Fleet, supported by the Spanish in at the Battle of Trafalgar.  Nelson’s forces defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships of the line under French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve.  It was during this battle that Nelson was mortally wounded and later died, but not before being told his fleet had defeated French and Spanish forces.  Today, Nelson is honored with a great statue in Trafalgar Square in London, England.

 

October 21st, 1772-British Romantic Poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in Highgate, England. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan.  Coleridge suffered from poor health that may have stemmed from a bout of rheumatic fever and other childhood illnesses. He was treated with Laudanum, a derivative of opium and this led to a lifelong addition.  Coleridge died at the age of 61. 

 

October 22nd, 1910- Blanche Scott became the first woman to fly solo in an airplane. Prior to this feat, she had been the second woman to drive across the United States. Glen Curtis, of Curtis Aircraft Manufacturing fame, taught her to fly.  Later she became a member of his flying exhibition team, promoting the use of aircraft. On September 6, 1948, Scott became the first American woman to fly in a jet with Chuck Yeager at the controls of an F-80 Shooting Star.

 

 October 24th, 1950- Noted science fiction author and futurist David Brin was born in Glendale, California.  Brin holds a PhD in Space Physics and a master’s degree in applied physics. David Brin has been featured on numerous television programs, speaking about advances in science, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.  He is a Hugo Award winner and is known for his “uplift” universe series of novels. These include Sun Diver and Star Tide Rising.

 

October 28th, 1636- One of the world’s best-known schools for higher education, Harvard College was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Today, know as Harvard University, it has turned out some of the most significant leaders in history.

 

October 30th, 1938- The population in areas of New York and New Jersey were convinced that Earth was under attack by invaders from Mars. Orson Welles, and the Mercury Theater of the Air, presented an updated radio play of H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds.  The announcing and realism to the broadcast, seeming to be actual news reports of the landing of Martian spacecraft and the advance of the Martians in unstoppable fighting machines firing death rays and poison gas caused a general panic, with tens of thousands fleeing the cities that were in range of the broadcast.  No one paid attention to Welles, who clearly stated it was a radio play and no one seemed to notice the compressed nature of the events taking place over an hour that would have required days to occur.  If anything, it is a good study in the psychology of what can cause people to disregard logic in the face of panic.

 

October 31st,  BOO!- It is Halloween and time for children as well as children at heart to dress up in costume for trick or treat or for Halloween parties.  Originally know as All Hallows Eve, this was a pagan ceremony.  It was over a month after the Autumn Solstice, with the days becoming shorter and colder.  The trees had lost their leaves and it was as if the world was dying. It was a time for stock-taking and preparation for the cold winter months ahead. There was also a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things could happen. Later, during Christian times, this was the date of All Souls’ Day to honor the dead. The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays dates back to the Middle Ages and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (1 November), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead.  Today, it is a good excuse of having harmless fun, dressing up, going to parties and getting treats by going to door to door with many children costumed as fairy princesses and scary monsters, or their favorite superhero.

 

  Some notable events for the month of September.

 September 1st, 1875-Author Edgar Rice Burroughs is born.  Burroughs was a fantasy-adventure author best known for his Tarzan series as well as his science fiction-fantasy hero, John Carter of Mars.  Tarzan became one of the most well-known fictional characters in literature, with many versions of Tarzan appearing as motion pictures.

 

 

 September 1st, 1939-World War Two begins with the Nazi invasion of Poland.  On September the 1st the Nazi armies under the command of General von Rundstedt swept into Poland, added by the USSR under the terms of a secret pact signed between Germany’s von Ribbentrop and The Soviet Union’s Molotov. The invasion effectively split Poland between the USSR and Germany.  It was not until the sneak attack by the Nazis in June of 1941 that the Soviet Union and Germany fought each other in a war that would claim close to 30 million Soviet citizens and soldiers before victory over Germany in 1945.

 

September 1st, 1985-Robert Ballard, after and exhaustive search, locates the wreckage of the Titanic 12,500 feet below the water.  Ballard began to plan for this search in the 1970s.  On the morning of the first, a boiler from the ship was located which led to the discovery that the Titanic has split into two sections when it sunk in April of 1912 after striking an iceberg on the ship’s initial voyage from England to New York.

 

September 2nd, 1666- The Great Fire of London. The fire burned unchecked from the 2nd until the 5th of September. It is estimated to have destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the City's 80,000 inhabitants.  The fires began shortly after midnight on Sunday, the 2nd of September, and spread rapidly west across the City of London.  The social and economic problems created by the disaster were overwhelming. Evacuation from London and resettlement elsewhere were strongly encouraged by Charles II, who feared a London rebellion amongst the dispossessed refugees. Despite numerous radical proposals, London was reconstructed on essentially the same street plan used before the fire. The one positive result was the eradiation of the Plague as the rat population was incinerated along with the buildings in the city.

 

September 2nd, 1945- V-J Day (victory over Japan) is declared by President Truman, after the official surrender of the Empire of Japan.  The surrender ceremony was carried out on the U.S. Battleship, Missouri.

 

September 3rd, 1783-This date marked to official end to the American Revolution with the signing a peace treaty in Paris. Signers for the United States included John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.  Signing for England and King George III was David Hartley.  A painting was commissioned to mark the occasion, however, the British delegation refused to pose due to the embarrassment of losing a war and the British colonies in North America to a bunch of “savages and farmers,” as the British called the Americans. 

 

September 3rd, 1939-After the Nazi invasion of Poland on September the 1st, Great Britain and France declare war on Germany.

 

 September 4th, 1888- George Eastman receives his patent for the first roll-type film camera, creating personal photography for millions of people.  Prior to Eastman’s invention, cameras required bulky glass plates to record images on their photosensitive surfaces. The camera was a rectangular box with a simple shutter mechanism and lens. For the first time, anyone could take a photograph and no dark room was required.  Instead the amateur photographer would mail the entire camera that held 100 exposures, back to the Eastman Company where they would remove the film, develop it and then reload the camera with another 100 exposures of film, then mail everything back to you.

 

September 4th, 2011-Vinnitsa, Ukraine.  The Roshen Candy Company opens the largest decorative fountain in Europe with fantastic displays of lights, water and laser projections, entertaining thousands of tourists.   Images and video of the fountain

 

September 5th, 1975-The attempted assassination of American President Gerald Ford by a deranged follower of serial killer Charles Manson, Squeaky Fromme, occurred in Sacramento, California.  The president was not hurt and the female assassin was quickly apprehended.  She is still imprisoned.

 

September 5th, 1997-Humanitarian and Catholic Nun, Mother Teresa dies.  Mother Teresa was born in the country of Albania on August 26th ,1910.  Her given name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.  For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity's expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries.  In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize, she was asked, "What can we do to promote world peace?" She answered, "Go home and love your family." During her lifetime, Mother Teresa was named 18 times in the yearly Gallup's most admired man and woman poll‎ as one of the ten women around the world that Americans admired most.

 

September 5th, 1998- Google is founded.

 

September 7th, 1533-Queen Elizabeth the First is born in Greenwich, England. From 17 November, 1558, until her death, Elizabeth was queen of England and Ireland. She was the daughter of King Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn, who Henry had executed two years after Elizabeth’s birth.  From and early age, Elizabeth was embroiled in plots against her by her cousins and half sisters, seeking to overthrow the  Protestant Queen  replacing her with a Catholic queen.  Chief supporter of these plots was Phillip II of Spain.  Spain and England went to war with Elizabeth’s naval commander, Sir Francis Drake, being instrumental in the defeat of the Spanish Armada and crushing the Spanish attempt to invade England.  The era of her reign was known as the Elizabethan age and produced significant advances in culture, such as the plays by William Shakespeare.

 

 

 September 8th, 1504-Michelanglo reveals his statue of David to the world.  Originally located in the piazza, in Florence, Italy, in 1873 the statue of David was removed from the piazza to protect it from damage and displayed in the Accademia Gallery, Florence, where it attracts many visitors. A replica was placed in the Piazza della Signoria in 1910. The statue is considered the finest work of its kind in the world, proving the genius of Michelangelo.

 

 September 8th, 1966- The first episode of Star Trek is broadcast on NBC Television, titled "The Man Trap."  It featured actors Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner in leading roles as the logical alien Spock and James T. Kirk, captain of the Enterprise.  This series had a significant cultural impact with its use of fiction to depict serious conflicts of ideas in society.  It also contributed to a great number of young people going into the fields of science and space exploration.  The original Star Trek series had spun off a number of movies and several television shows, and continues to grow in fandom as exemplified by the huge following the shows and films have.

 

September 8th, 1943- Fascist Italy signs an unconditional surrender with the allies, ending Italy’s participation in World War II.

 

September 9th, 1852- (according to the old Russian calendar) Leo Tolstoy was born in Yasnaya Polyana in the Russian Empire.  His birth name was Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy.  Tolstoy’s family was of the Russian nobility.  His father was a count who had fought against Napoleon in 1812. His parents died when he was young.  Tolstoy’s higher education began in 1844 at the University of Kazan, in Russia. It is there that he studied law, literature, and oriental languages.  However, his professors considered him difficult and unwilling to learn.  Tolstoy also had a habit of gambling and was considered rebellious.  His views of life and society were radicalized in the 1860s during his trip to Paris and Europe.  It was in Paris that Tolstoy met Victor Hugo and both influenced each other.  Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana and founded thirteen schools for his serfs' children, based on the principles Tolstoy described in his 1862 essay "The School at Yasnaya Polyana." It was in 1862 that he married Sonya Behrs.  The couple had13 children, losing 5 to early childhood diseases. Leo Tolstoy’s most notable work is War and Peace, set during the Russian-French, Napoleonic War. Tolstoy also composed music, creating a waltz that was penned in 1906. He lived until 1910, dying on the date of November 20th, at age 82.

 

September 9th, 1956-Singer Elvis Pressley made his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan television show.  Sullivan ordered the cameramen to only show Pressley from the waist up as he considered Pressley’s dance moves to be objectionable.

 

 September 11th, 1885- Noted author D.H. Lawrence was born in Eastwood, England. He was a novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic, and painter.  Lawrence’s writing and opinions earned him many enemies, and he endured official persecution, censorship, and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile, which he called his "savage pilgrimage.” At the time of his death, his public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents.  However, today Lawrence is known as the greatest imaginative novelist of his generation.  He died in France in 1930.

 

September 11th, 1962-The Beatles record their first commercial single “Love me do.”  This recording was made with the Beatles’ new drummer at the time, Ringo Starr.

 

September 11th, 2001- Not since the Japanese sneak attack at Pearl Harbor had America suffered such a vile act of war.  As bad as the December 7th, 1941 attack by Japan was, the targets were military, aircraft and ships at Pearl Harbor.  The September 11th attacks specifically targeted American Civilians.  The result was over 3,200 casualties and significant changes in security in America.  This led to the removal of Saddam Husain, as well as the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban.  Most of the planners of the suicide attacks have been found and killed, including Osama Bin Laden.  Of particular note was the bravery and sacrifice of United Airlines flight 93, whose passengers overpowered the hijackers.  Unfortunately the aircraft went out of control, crashing and killing all on board.

 

September 13th, 1916- famed author Roald Dahl, was born in Cardiff Wales, UK.  His parents were Norwegians who had relocated to the UK.  During the Second World War, Dahl was a fighter pilot who became an ace and a Wing Commander in the RAF.  Dahl is a beloved children’s author with books such as James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, from which two films have been made.  He died at age 73 in 1990, in England.   

 

 

September 13th, 1857- Milton Hershey, the famed creator of Hershey’s Chocolates was born in Derry, Pennsylvania.  Interestingly enough Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was born on September 13th as well.

 

September 15th, 1890-Author Agatha Christie was born in Oxfordshire, England. She was one of the best known writers in the world and is best remembered for her 66 detective novels and more than 15 short story collections, many featuring Miss Marple and Hurcule Poirot.  Many films and television adaptations of Christie’s books have been made over the years, with the notable film Murder on the Orient Express.  Although she died in 1976, it was in 2004, a 5,000-word story entitled The Incident of the Dog's Ball was found in the attic of the author's daughter. This story was published  in the UK in September 2009 in John Curran's Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years Of Mysteries, alongside another newly discovered Poirot story called The Capture of Cerberus (a story with the same title, but a different plot, to that published in The Labours Of Hercules).

 

September 15th, 1928- Sir Alexander Fleming discovers one of his bacterial experiments has been ruined by mold contamination.  In a brilliant leap of reasoning, Fleming reasons that the mold has properties that can kill infectious bacteria, leading to his discovery of penicillin.

 

September 15th, 1959, Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the United States.  He was hosted by then American President Dwight Eisenhower. While Khrushchev had considered America his greatest adversary, ironically his son, Sergei Khrushchev is a professor at Brown University in the State of Rhode Island.  

 

September 17th, 1778-The United States Constitution is signed. During an intensive debate, the delegates devised a brilliant federal organization characterized by an intricate system of checks and balances. The convention was divided over the issue of state representation in Congress, as more-populated states sought proportional legislation, and smaller states wanted equal representation. The problem was resolved by the Connecticut Compromise, which proposed a bicameral legislature with proportional representation in the lower house (House of Representatives) and equal representation of the states in the upper house (Senate). On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was signed. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by 9 of the 13 states. 

 

 September 17th, 1930- Astronaut Edgar Mitchell was born in Hereford, Texas. Mitchell joined the Navy in 1953, becoming a Navy carrier pilot. Mitchell was selected to be an astronaut in 1966.  Mitchell trained on the LM, the lunar lander and became the command pilot for the LM for Apollo 14.  He and Astronaut Alan Shepard spent two days on the surface of the Moon.  During this mission, Shepard hit two golf balls on the Moon with a club he had brought along with him.  Mitchell, always interested in ESP, also conducted thought experiments over the distance between Earth and the Moon to determine if ESP can be detectable over such distances. Mitchell retired from NASA and the Navy in 1972 and resides in Florida.  He recently endorsed the accuracy of the science fiction techno-thriller, RED MOON, by Chris Berman.

 

September 17th, 1976- On September 17, 1976, NASA publicly unveils its first space shuttle, the Enterprise, during a ceremony in Palmdale, California. Development of the aircraft-like spacecraft cost almost $10 billion and took nearly a decade.  Unlike the later Columbia and Challenger shuttles, the Enterprise never flew in space but was used for aerodynamic testing within the Earth’s atmosphere.

 

 September 18th, 1970-Legendary guitarist and music performer Jimi Hendrix dies in London from a suspected drug overdose.  Hendrix developed a unique style of guitar playing, forming the three man band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  Many songs of his such as “Purple Haze,” “All Along the Watchtower,” and “Voodoo Child,” have become rock classics Many years later, in a conversation while drunk, Hendrix’s manager stated that he and a girlfriend of Hendrix poisoned Jimi with a drug overdose, with his manager collecting a $2 million dollar insurance payment on the performer’s life.  We may never know the truth as both the girlfriend and Hendrix’s manager are now both dead.

 

September 21st, 1883-On this date, telegraph service was established between the Nation of Brazil and the United States, marking the early beginnings of instant global communications.

 

September 21st, 1981-Sandra Day O’Connor, the first Woman Supreme Court Justice is appointed to the United States Supreme Court, by President Ronald Reagan. O’Connor served on the court until 2001.

 

 

 

 

September 21st, 1937-Author J. R. R. Tolkien publishes The HobbitThe Hobbit and the Ring Trilogy are today, among the most famous novels of fantasy in the world.

 

September 23rd, 1846-The solar system’s eighth planet was discovered first by Alexis Bouvard, using mathematical calculations due to its gravitational influence on Uranus, the seventh planet, and then by astronomer Johann Galle, who found the planet within one-degree of its predicted position in the sky.  Neptune is the 4th largest planet in the solar system, some seventeen times the size of the Earth.  It has a mostly hydrogen and methane atmosphere and a very low density.  In fact, the gravity of Neptune is only 14 percent greater than the Earth’s.  The current number of moons for this planet stands at 13, but certainly more are likely to be discovered by future space probes.  Neptune’s major moon, Triton, moves in the opposite direction to the other moons in the Neptune system and may be a world like Pluto that was captured by Neptune’s gravity in the distant past.  Neptune and its moon Triton feature prominently in the science fiction novel, Ace of Aces, by Chris Berman.

 

September 26th, 1983-On this date, the world, or at least a good part of it, nearly ended. During the middle of the Cold War, US and NATO allies were carrying out a war game simulation in Europe.  Tensions were high between the Soviet Union, led by ex-KGB head Yuri Andropov, and America, led by President Ronald Reagan.  A serious computer malfunction in the Soviet early warning system mistakenly interpreted sunlight reflecting on high clouds as a US missile attack.  Only the clear thinking of Soviet General Stanislav Petrov prevented a disaster.  While his military staff was panicking and preparing to launch a Soviet counter strike, Petrov calmly reviewed all the data and concluded he was looking at a computer error. We can all be thankful that General Petrov had a good night’s sleep before the incident and was thinking with a clear head.

 

September 27th, 1825-The first passenger train begins service in England. The Stockton and Darlington Railway ran for twenty-five miles with an early steam-powered locomotive pulling several passenger carriages.  Over the next twenty years, rail travel would explode all over England and in Europe, with American railroads following shortly afterward.

 

September 30th, 1846- For the first time in modern history, an anesthetic is used on a surgical patient for an operation.  Dr. William Morton used the experimental chemical ether on a patient. Morton performed a painless tooth extraction after administering ether to a patient. A number of surgeons were so impressed with the results that Morton was invited to use his formula on a surgical patient in a Boston hospital in order to remove a neck tumor.  Without the use of anesthetics, modern surgery would be impossible. Another physician, Crawford Long, had operated with ether in 1842, but had not announced the discovery until 1849, thus Morton was separately credited with its first use.

 

 

              Some notable events for the month of August.

 

 August 1st, 1775- The first article that proposed the expansion of right for women was written by Thomas Paine, a firm believer in the Enlightenment and a Founding Father of the American Revolution.

 

 

 

 

August 1st, 1779- Francis Scott Key-the composer of the Star Spangled Banner, which became the national anthem of the United States was born in what will become the future State of Maryland.   Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner, while being held captive on a British Warship, watching the British bombardment of Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812.

 

Augusta 1st, 1876- Colorado, the Rocky Mountain State, is admitted to the Union, becoming the 38th star on the American flag.

 

August 2nd, 1876- Famed cowboy, Wild Bill Hickok is shot and killed during a poker game in Deadwood, South Dakota.  Hickok, who wore his hair shoulder-length, had been a Union soldier in the American Civil War and, later a law man.  The man who killed him was Jack McCall.  He had beaten McCall at poker the night before and cleaned him out of his money.  McCall sunk up behind Hickok and killed him.  At the time, Hickok was holding a pair of aces and a pair of eights, all black.  To this day this is known as the “dead man’s hand.”

 

August 2nd , 1943- World War II: On patrol off of the Solomon Islands, PT-109, a high speed torpedo boat, captained by future American President, John F. Kennedy, was rammed and sunk by the Japanese Destroyer Amageri.  Kennedy and his surviving crew managed to swim to deserted Plum Island, several miles away, where they were rescued six days later. Kohei Hanami, the captain of the Amageri, met Kennedy in 1961 and was a guest of the president at his inauguration.

 

August 3rd, 1914- World War I begins with Germany declaring war on Britain and France. The most horrifying and costliest conflict in the history of the world will not end until November of 1918.  WWI ushered in the use of machineguns, tanks, aerial combat, and submarine warfare.

 

August 3rd, 1960- US scientists use the Moon to bounce radio signals containing voice (telephone) communications off of its surface and back to Earth.

 

August 3rd, 1972- The centerpiece of American President Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev’s negotiations: the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty was passed by the American Congress, setting the stage for future agreements to reduce the dangers of global war.

 

August 4th, 1960- Joseph Walker, American test pilot, set a world speed record of 2,200 mph in the X-15 rocket plane. In later test flights, the X-15 would reach speeds of Mach 7 or in excess of 4,500 miles per hour.

 

 

 August 5th, 1884- The cornerstone of the Statue of Liberty is laid.  The statue, a gift from the nation of France, was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and proudly stands in the entrance to New York Harbor.  The statue was shipped in pieces and assembled on-site, with the work being completed and dedicated on October 28, 1886.

 

 

 

August 6th, 1945- The first use of an atomic weapon.  In the final days of the war with Japan, The United States faced the prospect of a landing on the Japanese home islands considered cost several million lives, both American and Japanese, in doing so.  Begun at the start of World War II, the United States, fearing the successful development of atomic weapons by the Nazis, enter into its own nuclear weapons program known as the Manhattan Project.  The result was two types of atomic weapons, the gun-type uranium 235 bomb, known as Little Boy, and the much more powerful plutonium weapon, known as Fat man.  On August 6th 1945, an American B-29 dropped the uranium bomb on Hiroshima, resulting in the destruction of the city and 125,000 deaths.  The decision to use the weapon is still considered very controversial, since an alternate proposal of a demonstration of the weapon’s destructive capabilities on an uninhabited island in Tokyo Bay had been considered and rejected by Democrat  President Truman.  Days before the Hiroshima attack, leaflets were dropped on the city warning citizens to evacuate, but most ignored the warning.  This attack did not end the war.  It took a second bomb dropped on Nagasaki to convince the Japanese military to surrender.

 

August 7th, 1933- Famed science fiction author, Jerry Pournelle was born in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Pournelle, holds a master’s degree in psychology and a PhD in political science.  In the 1950s he did work for Boeing Aircraft and was a proponent of the NERVA nuclear rocket propulsion program.  Pournelle is a best selling and Hugo award winning author, writing hard science fiction with strong military themes.  Some of his works include, the Mote in God’s Eye, Lucifer’s Hammer, and Foot Fall.

 

 

 

 

 August 7th, 1971- The crew of Apollo 15t returns to Earth from the Moon. The crew consisted of David Scott, James Irwin, and Alfred Worden.

 

 

 

 August 8th, 1815- Napoleon Bonaparte, born on the Island of Corsica, waged war across Europe until his disastrous defeat by Russia in 1812.  Napoleon finally surrendered his forces in 1815, after the Battle of Waterloo. He dies some six years later of stomach cancer.

 

 

August 8th, 1945- The Soviet Union declares war on Japan one day before the second American atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki.  Japan surrenders on August 15, 1945.

 

August 11th, 1807- The age of stream transportation begins. Robert Fulton’s steamboat, Clermont travels from Albany to New York City against the wind and tide, signal the eventual end of wind driven sailing ships.

 

 

 

 August 12th, 1851- Isaac Merrit Singer is granted a patent for his sewing machine. Born in Pittstown, New York, on October 27, 1811, he was the youngest child of Adam Singer.  The Singer Sewing Machine revolutionized clothes commercially as well for use by those in their homes.  Even today, 161 years later, the name “Singer” is synonymous with high quality sewing machines.

 

August 14th, 1935- The Social Security Act, providing a government funded pension for those over the age of 65, is passed by the United States Congress.

 

August 15th, 1945-The surrender of Japan is accepted by the Allies.

 

August 15th, 1961- Under the direction of Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union and the government of East Germany (The German Democratic Republic) work on the Berlin Wall is begun.  This wall that dived Germany until 1989, was a symbol of Communist domination in Eastern Europe.

 

August 15th-18th, 1969- The Woodstock Music Festival, Bethel, NY. Woodstock originally planned for 100,000 concert attendees, half a million show up, making it the largest outdoor concert up until that time.  Many of the most well known musicians of the 1960s appeared at the event, including Britain’s The Who, America’s Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix, among others.

 

August 16th, 1858- The era of instant global communications begins. The first telegraph message is sent to American President James Buchanan by Queen Victoria of England through the newly laid Transatlantic Cable.

 

August 16th, 1977- Singer and actor Elvis Presley died at his home , Graceland, in Memphis Tennessee. Presley, born Elvis Aaron Presley, January 8, 1935, began his career in music in 1954 with Sun Records, after having been previously rejected by another label.  By 1956, Elvis Presley was the most famous musician in the new style of music known as Rock and Roll and has been the influence for music and musicians right into the 21st century.  Presley died at age 42 from complications from the overuse of prescription medication.

 

 August 18th, 1921- Famed Soviet woman fighter ace, Lydia Litvyak, was born in Moscow.  She developed a love of flying at an early age and began pilot training in her teens.  After the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, famed Russian aviator, Marina Raskova formed three all women air combat regiments.  Lydia Litvyak became a fighter pilot with the 586th Regiment, flying the powerful YAK-1 fighter, capable of speeds in excess of 375 mph and armed with .50 caliber machine guns. Lydia accounted for 12 victories against German fighters and bombers, including shooting down Nazi ace, Edwin Meier over Stalingrad. On August the 1st, 1943, Lydia Litvyak’s fighter disappeared into a cloud while engaging four German ME-109s simultaneously.  She did not return to her airbase and no wreckage of her fighter was ever found.  In the 1970s the remains of what was presumed to be a woman pilot were discovered in the Donbas region of Ukraine.  She was posthumously awarded “Hero of the Soviet Union,” by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990.  However, there is no definite proof that the remains are those of Litvyak.  Lydia Litvyak will live again as one of five WWII aces in Chris Berman’s science fiction novel Ace of Aces, to be released in 2013 by  Leo Publishing, LLC

 

August 19th, 14 A.D.- Caesar Augustus dies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 21st, 1940- The disgruntled Bolshevik leader, Leon Trotsky is assassinated in Mexico City. Trotsky was opposed to the polices of Joseph Stalin and exiled from the Soviet Union in the 1930s. His assignation was ordered by Stalin after Trotsky’s virulent opposition to the non-aggression treaty that Stalin signed with Adolf Hitler in August of 1939.

 

 

 

August 21st, 1959- Hawaii becomes the 50th American State.

 

August 22nd ,1818-Just a few short years after Robert Fulton’s Clermont became history’s first steam-powered ship, the Savannah a steam driven vessel became the first of its kind to sail across the Atlantic Ocean Savannah was propelled by paddle wheels.  Ahead of its time, with problematic technology of that era, it would be another 30 years before steam power would come into regular use for trans-oceanic voyages.

 

August 22nd, 1962-On the 144th anniversary of the steam powered Savannah’s voyage, the nuclear powered Savannah became the first of four American merchant ships to be powered by atomic reactors.  The ship had a 10 year service life and was decommissioned in 1972.  The ship is now a floating museum in Baltimore harbor in the State of Maryland.

 

 August 24th, 79 AD- Disaster strikes the Roman Empire.  Mount Vesuvius undergoes an explosive volcanic eruption, sending clouds of ash and superheated gases down the sides of the mountain, engulfing the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.  This is known as a pyroclastic flow that buried both cities. Pompeii was rediscovered in 1748, and is considered an historical treasure trove of information on Roman life.  Most of the population of both cites perished in their homes or on the streets of the cities trying to escape the superheated cloud that traveled at hundreds per miles an hour. 

 

August 24th, 1932- Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the United States.  She would continue her exploits until her ill-fated flight around the world with navigator Fred Noonan in 1937.  Sometime on the date of July 2nd, 1937, her aircraft was lost, either crashing in the Pacific or making a forced landing on a small uninhabited island.

 

 August 25th, 1836- Author Bret Harte was born in Albany New York. As a journalist, Harte was a proponent of American Indian Rights.  Later he became the editor of the magazine Atlantic Monthly. Harte authored many novels based on tales of the American West.  Many of his books were made into Hollywood files long after his death in 1902.

 

 

 

 August 25th, 1916- Legendary Japanese fighter ace Saburo Sakai was born in Saga Japan.  Disgraced for failing in his studies as a teen, Sakai joined the Imperial Japanese Navy and applied for pilot training.  The training of Japanese pilots was harsh, with only a few of the starting class of recruits graduating.  Saburo Sakai first entered combat against China in the late 1930s, flying the Mitsubishi AM-5 and scoring his first victories.  By 1941, Sakai was flying the legendary Zero fighter, and becoming one of Japan’s top fighter aces.  Sakai was known for both his bravery and his humanity in sparing a DC-3 over Burma that he could see was filled with women and children.  This was a direct violation of his orders.  In 1943, Sakai was severely wounded in combat over Guadalcanal, losing the sight in one eye, yet, after he recovered, Sakai continued to flay until the end of the war. He was the author his biography Samurai and was honored and respected by his former American adversaries.  Sakai died in the year 2000 at age 84. Saburo Sakai appears in Chris Berman’s new science fiction novel Ace of Aces, as one of five combat aces plucked from their timelines to battle an alien enemy in the fact future.  To be released in early 2013. Look for Ace of Aces, new from Leo Publishing, LLC

 

 August 25th, 1918- Composer Leonard Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts to Ukrainian parents.  After attending Harvard University, Bernstein rose in the field of music to become one of the most famous composers of modern times with his contributions of the music for “West Side Story,” the ballet piece, “Fancy Free,” created for George Balanchine, and “Wonderful Town.”  Bernstein went on to become the director of the New York Philharmonic.  He died in 1990. 

 

 August 27th, 1871- Author Theodore Dreiser was born in Indiana. After leaving his university mid-term, he became a writer for the newspaper, the Chicago Tribune. His first novel, Sister Cain was published in 1900.  Dreiser had strong socialist, political leanings, eventually becoming a support of the American Communist Party.  Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy eventually became a motion picture.  He died in December of 1945.

 

 

 

 August 28th, 1565- The oldest city in America, Saint Augustine, is founded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés.  Saint Augustine became the hub of Spanish activity on the North American continent. The small town grew in population.  Saint Augustine had a Spanish military garrison, but by the year 1586, England and Spain were at war.  English Privateer, Sir Francis Drake under a letter of mark from Queen Elizabeth the 1st (the letter of mark made Drake a “legal pirate”), attacked the town, looting it and then burning it down after one of his men is shot and killed by a Spanish soldier. Today, Saint Augustine is a tourist destination for visitors to Florida with its broad white beaches and restored historical downtown that now includes the largest pirate museum in the United States and a reproduction pirate ship.  Saint Augustine is also the home of science fiction author, Chris Berman

 

August 30th, 30BC- Queen Cleopatra takes her own life rather than surrender to Roman General Octavian, after the defeat of her forces under the command of Marc Antony.  Antony made a serious tactical error in judgment in the sea battle with Octavian’s forces, leading to the end of Cleopatra’s reign.

 

 

August 30th, 1883- Theo Van Doesburg is born in Utrecht, the Netherlands.  His father was a photographer.  As an artist, he began painting in the impressionist style, popular in Europe at the time, but then began creating more abstract works later in his career.  Von Doesburg wrote magazine articles as well as poetry.  In 1924, he and his wife moved to Paris where his style of painting again changed, with his creations of geometric images.  He died in Switzerland in 1931. 

 

 

August 30th, 2012- The first bionic eye was installed in a blind patent in Australia. This implant ushers in a bright future for the blind.  The photonic sensors are surgically placed directly into the retina of the eye and wired into the cerebral cortex. Quoted by the researchers, “What we're going to be doing is restoring a type of vision which is probably going to be black and white, but what we're hoping to do for these patients who are severely visually impaired is to give them mobility.”  Eventually as technology advances and improves, full color vision will be restored.  This medical advance was predicted by author Marina Sergeyeva in one of her short stories in her book titled Upstairs .

 

Some notable events for the month of July.

 

 July 1st, 1863 thru July 3rd - The Battle of Gettysburg, one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War was a turning point.  The Confederate forces under the command of Robert E. Lee experienced horrific losses on the third day of the battle during Pickett’s Charge-up Cemetery Ridge.  After the crushing defeat of the Confederate Army, Lee retreated.  It would just be a matter of time until the surrender of the Confederacy.

 

 July 1st, 1867-Canada Day.  The British North America Act united the three Canadian colonies into a single country that was part of the British Empire.

 

 

 

 July 1st, 1881 - The first international telephone call is made between Canada and the United States.

 

 July 1st, 1961 - Princess Diana is born. She was born Diana Spencer in Norfolk, England. She married Prince Charles on July 28th, 1981.  Princess Diana lost her life in an auto crash on August 31st of 1997 at the age of 36.  She was loved and respected by millions around the world.

 

 

 

July 2nd, 1777 - Vermont becomes the first state to abolish slavery.

 

July 2nd, 1937 - Amelia Earhart’s aircraft, a twin engine Lockheed Electra Model 10, was lost on the final leg of an around the world journey with navigator Fred Noonan. It is highly likely she ran out of fuel and had put down on a small Pacific Island of Nikumaroro.

 

 July 3rd, 1943 -Norman E. Thagard, astronaut, fighter pilot, physician, and engineer was born in Marianna, Florida.  As a young boy, Norman moved to Jacksonville, Florida, and attended school in that city, excelling in both athletics and academics.  Thagrad joined the United States Marines and flew a Phantom F-4 during the Vietnam War.  In 1975, he was accepted to medical school and later, to the astronaut corps at NASA, making his first flight (STS-7) on the Space Shuttle Challenger.  In 1995, Thagard became the first US crewman on the Russian space station MIR, spending nearly four months in orbit.  Norman Thagard wrote the foreword to the science fiction novel, RED MOON by Chris Berman, published though Leo Publishing, LLC.  Happy Birthday Dr. Norman Thagard!

 

 July 4th, 1776- the American Colonies declare independence from Great Britain signaling the beginning of the American Revolution with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

 

 

 

July 4th, 1865- Alice in Wonderland, written by Lutwidge Dodgson, is first published.

 

July 5th, 1687- Isaac Newton describes the Law of Gravity.  His calculations were accurate enough to explain what was believed to be a “force” or an attraction by astronomical bodies until a new and more accurate principal of gravity was formulated by Albert Einstein in the early 20th century.

 

 July the 7th, 1887-Russian artist Marc Chagall is born.  One of his famous murals adorns the United Nations building in New York.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 July 7th, 1940- Richard Starkey - (Ringo Star of the Beetles) - was born in Liverpool, England.  Ringo was a late replacement in the band for drummer Pete Best on the 16th   August 1962.

 

 

 

 

 July 10th, 1856- Nicola Tesla, a true genius, was born in Serbia.  His ideas revolutionized the use of electrical power including the use of alternating current, which is universally used today for long distance power transmission. In his later life, Tesla was experimenting with the idea of broadcasting electricity without the use of wires, a “death ray,” presumably using high power microwaves and a theory of manipulating or negating gravity.  He died at age 81.

 

July 10th, 1962 - Telstar, the first communication’s satellite is placed into orbit.  It carried TV and telephone communications.

 

July 12th, 1817- Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden Pond, was born in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 July 13th, 100 BC - the birth of Julies Caesar, military leader and later, Emperor of Rome.

 

 

 

 

 

July 13th, 1908- Women compete for he first time in the Olympics.

 

 July 14th, 1789- The beginning of the French Revolution.  The Bastille was stormed and the political prisoners held by the King of France were released.

 

 

 

 

July 16th, 1918- Tsar Nicolas and his family are executed by the new communist government of Lenin in Russia.

 

July 17th, 1821 - Spain cedes Florida to the United States of America.

 

July 17th, 1955- Walt Disney takes the biggest gamble of his life and opens Disneyland in California.  This is later followed by the even larger Disney World in Orlando, Florida, that opened on October 1st, 1971.

 

 July 20th, 1969- “That’s one small step for a man-One Giant leap for mankind.” With just 25 seconds of fuel remaining, Apollo 11 sets down on the surface of the Moon.  For the first time in history, human beings set foot upon another world.  The event is watched around the world by millions on television.

 

 

 July 21st, 1899- Author Ernest Hemingway is born.  Some of his more famous titles are A Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, and The Sun Also Rises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 26th, 1788- New York becomes the 11th state with New York City the home of the Government of the United States of America 1785 until 1790, until the move to Washington, DC.

 

July 29th, 1945- A US B-25 bomber accidentally crashes into the Empire State Building in New York, killing the crew.  Little damage was done to the structure of the building.

 

 July 30th, 1954- Elvis Presley makes his stage debut in Nashville, TN.  The reaction from the manager of the “Grand ‘Ol Oprey’” was “Son, I think you’d be better off driving a truck. You don’t have a future in the music business.”

 

 

 

 July 31st, 1965- Author J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame is born.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some notable events for the month of June.

 

June 1st--International Children’s Day is celebrated on the first of June in many countries.  International Children’s Day was begun in Turkey in 1920 but was recognized when in 1925, in Switzerland, it coincided with a major international conference on the well-being of children.  It is a major tradition in China and is celebrated in many countries in Eastern Europe.

 

June 1st--National Doughnut day.  It is celebrated in honor of the Salvation Army.  The first Doughnut day was in 1971, in the month of August. This is when beleaguered soldiers were served doughnuts during the First World War. 9000 doughnuts were prepared around the clock (Time to make the doughnuts!).  The first traditional doughnut day to coincide with June 1st occurred in Chicago in 1938.

 

June 3rd, 1965--Astronaut Ed White makes the first US spacewalk from a Gemini capsule that was piloted by James McDivitt. He found the experience so exhilarating that he was reluctant to return to the capsule.

 

 

 

 June 5th, 1977--The first Apple 2 computer is sold, beginning the era of personal computing.

 

 

 

June 5th, 1919--Children’s author Richard Scarry is born. Some of his more famous children’s books are the Sam and Dudley series, and Busy Town.

 

 

 

 

 June 5th, 1783--The Montgolfier Brothers ascend in a balloon.  In Paris France, human beings ascended into the sky for the first time in recorded history in a hot air balloon.  The balloon flew for several miles before the air within the balloon’s envelope cooled and the balloon returned to earth.

 

 

 June 6th, 1933--The first drive -in Movie Theater opened in New Jersey.

 

 

 

 

 June 6th, 1944--D-Day. The Allies (United States, Great Britain, Canada and the Free French) opened the second front with the invasion of France.  Under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, dawn landings were made in Nazi occupied Normandy, France.  The Allies fought against heavy German resistance but established a second front to begin squeezing Nazi German between the American and British forces in the West and Soviet forces in the East.

 

 June 6th, 1799--Alexander Pushkin was born: Russian poet, novelist, dramatic writer, short story creator, and writer of fairytales is one of Russia’s greatest writers with his works considered masterpieces. Pushkin was born in Moscow and by the age of 15 had published his first novel. After finishing school, Pushkin installed himself in the vibrant and raucous intellectual youth culture of the capital, Saint Petersburg.  Henry James is a Western Writer who was heavily influenced by Pushkin. Alexander Pushkin's short drama Mozart and Salieri was the inspiration for Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus.  Translations of Puskin’s works into English have been very difficult due to the complexity of his writing.  His famous work Eugene Onegin required several volumes of material just to translate 100 pages into English. Pushkin’s works were used by Russian composers for both ballet and opera. Alexander Pushkin died at age 37, the result of a duel.

 

June 8th, 1867--The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright was born.  One of his most famous architectural works is the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

 

 

 

 

 June 8th--World Ocean Day the 2012 theme Youth: the Next Wave for Change. The future of ocean conservation is in their hands! 

 

 

 

 June 10th, 1928--Maurice Sendak, a children’s author, most famous for Where the Wild Things Are, is born.

 

 

 

 

 June 11th, 1982--The Stephen Spielberg movie, ET (the extraterrestrial premiered.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 12th , 1839--Baseball invented (or so goes the story).  There is no real proof that Abner Doubleday of Cooperstown New York invented the game.  That came from the recollections of a Cooperstown native named Abner Graves when in 1905, a commission seeking the origin of the game was contacted by Graves, (who, later spent the rest of his life in an asylum for the insane.)   Baseball is believed to be evolved from a combination of the British game of Rounders and Cricket.

 

June 12th, 1929--Birthday of Anne Frank:  After the Second World War, Anne’s story, recorded in her diary while in hiding from the Nazis, became a world famous account of the tragedy Nazi occupation of Europe.

 

 

 

 June 14th--National Flag Day:  commemorates the adoption of the Flag of the United States at the Second Constitutional Convention in the year 1777.  Flag Day was officially recognized in 1949.

 

 

 June 17th--Father’s Day. This year (2012) Father’s Day falls on June 17th. First celebrated in 1910 in the US, Father's Day is always the third Sunday of the month of June.

 

 

 

 

 June 23rd, 1868--The typewriter is patented.  This invention revolutionized the ability to write everything from documents to novels and had as great an impact in the ability to communicate as the personal computer did more than a 100 years later.

 

 

 June 24th--UFO Day, this commemorates the first documented UFO sighting by pilot Kenneth Arnold while flying a small plane near Mt. Rainier in the Cascade Mountains.  He reported many saucer shaped objects flying in formation.

 

 

 June 26th, 1498--The tooth brush is invented in China.

 

 

 

 

 

 June 26th, 1819--The bicycle is patented by W.K. Clarkson, Jr.

 

 

 

 June 27th, 1859--The melody for Happy Birthday was written in 1859.  The original words to the song start as Good Moring to You . . .  The descendents of the composer Mildred J. Hill, a schoolteacher, still hold the copyright to the song.

 

 

 

 

 June 27th, 1880--Helen Keller was born.  Although born in adversity, she became the first blind and deaf person to earn a bachelor’s degree and went on to become a prolific author. She has been an international inspiration to all who struggle with a disability.

 

 

 

 June 29th, 2007--The first i-Phone is released.

 

 

 

 June 30th--Meteor Day: A day (or a night actually) coincides with June 30th, 1908 when a large meteor (or a comet, or maybe an alien spacecraft) struck the area of Tunguska, Siberia in Russia with the force of a huge nuclear bomb, devastating hundreds of square miles of forest.

 

 June 30th, 1938--The Man of Steel, Superman, first appeared in comic books.  Superman (who has been known to stop a few meteors in his time, along with leaping tall buildings in a single bound) first appeared seventy years ago this month in the first issue of Action Comics.

 

 

Some notable events for the month of May.

 

 

May 1st 1707- Great Britain was formed from a union between England and Scotland, forming the British Empire.  The empire of Great Britain reached its peak of power during the late 1800s in the Victorian period.


 May 1st 1942 - The women’s night bomber regiment 588th was formed by the Red Air Force in WW 2. The women were the scourge of the Nazis who called them “the night witches.”  Twenty-three of these women warriors earned the title “Hero of the Soviet Union” for exceptional bravery and service in combat. To read more about these remarkable women use this link: Night Witches

 

May 3rd 1898- Golda Meir (1898-1978) was born in Kiev, Ukraine. She was one of the founders of the modern state of Israel and served as prime minister from 1969 to 1974. As prime minister, she presided over the 1973 war between Israel and Egypt.

 

 

 

May 5th 1818- Communism founder Karl Marx (1818-1883) was born in Treves, Germany. Marx’s treatise “Das Kapital” reflected his theories on economics, which, over the years, have proven to be unworkable.

 

 

 May 5th 1961 - Alan Shepard became the first American in space, riding in a Mercury capsule atop a Redstone Rocket.  This was a 15 minute suborbital flight.  Shepard went on to become part of the crew of Apollo 14 and landed on the Moon with LEM commander, Captain Ed Mitchell.  Shepard had brought with him a golf club and golf ball, making the first time golf was played off the Earth.  Alan Shepard guessed that the ball he had hit traveled for several miles in the low lunar gravity.

 

May 7th 2012- National Space Day will be celebrated at many air and space museums with special attention to the unveiling of the actual Space Shuttle Discovery at the Air and Space Museum at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy location in Chantilly, Virginia.

 

May 9th 1945- Victory Day: After years of bitter warfare that began with the Nazi invasion of the USSR, on June 22nd 1941, the war was over.  The day before, Nazi forces formally surrendered to the Red Army, ending the Second World War in Europe, a war that cost the lives of well over 20 million citizens of the Soviet Union.

 

  May 13th 2012-Mother’s Day!  A celebration of the most important woman in everyone’s life.  The celebration of mother dates back as far as ancient Egypt.  The Greeks as well held a day of honor for mothers. Mother’s Day was officially recognized in America in 1870 and today is celebrated in many nations.  The day for honoring your mother falls on the second Sunday of the month of May.

 

May 15th 1928- The first Mickey Mouse cartoon is shown.  The reaction from the moviegoers at the time was quite negative.   They didn’t like it and creator Walt Disney was unable to find a backer or a distributor for his short animated film.  However, Disney continued to work on his creation and by November of 1928 had created a new cartoon with a revised Mickey Mouse.  This new film was considered much better by audiences, but it was not until 1930 that the Mouse, became a standard in America and internationally as well.  Famed World War 2 German Ace Adolf Galland always had a picture of Mickey Mouse painted on the side of his planes.  Walt Disney became one of the most well known individuals in the entertainment industry.

 

May 20th 1927 - Charles Lindbergh, a 25-year-old aviator, took off at 7:52 a.m. from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, in the Spirit of St. Louis attempting to win a $25,000 prize for the first solo nonstop flight between New York City and Paris. Thirty-three hours later, after a 3,600 mile journey, he landed at Le Bourget, Paris, earning the nickname "Lucky Lindy" and becoming an instant worldwide hero.

 

May 22nd 1859- Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was born at Edinburgh, Scotland. Doyle created the famous detective character, Sherlock Holmes, and wrote the science fiction adventure novel The Lost World in which explores discover living prehistoric dinosaurs on a mountain plateau in South America.  He was also deeply interested in and lectured on spiritualism and was an inadvertent victim of a hoax that led him to believe that two young girls had taken actual photographs of tiny winged fairies.

 

May 29th 1917 - John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) the 35th U.S. President was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was the youngest man ever elected to the presidency and the first Roman Catholic. He was assassinated in Dallas, November 22, 1963, the fourth President to killed by an assassin.

 

 

 

 May 30th 1672 - Founder of the Russian empire Peter the Great (1672-1725) was born near Moscow. He vastly increased the power of the Russian monarchy and turned his backward country into a major power in the Western world. Among his accomplishments, he completely overhauled the government and the Greek Orthodox Church as well as the military system and tax structure. He built St. Petersburg, established printing presses and published translations of foreign books, modernized the calendar, simplified the Russian alphabet and introduced Arabic numerals. He died at age 52 and was succeeded by his wife, Catherine the Great.

 

May Wine:  Famous springtime sweet white wine primarily produced in Germany.  May wine has added herbs such as woodruff that give it a distinct flavor.  In the late medieval period, this special wine was drunk during festivals of spring and spring weddings.  May wine today can be purchased in almost any location that carries wine and you can celebrate the month of May with a glass of this delightful wine.

 

 

  ~~~

Some notable events for the month of April.

April 6th-7,th 1862: The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing during the American civil War.  The battle, fought on the banks of the Tennessee River, was a major attempt by the Confederacy to halt the Union Advance.  Grant, leading the Union forces thought it would be a simple matter to end the Confederate uprising by crushing southern forces.  The Confederate troops, under Generals Johnston and Beauregard inflicted heavy casualties on the first day of fighting and drove Grant’s forces back, only to themselves be driven back and retreat the following day due to the fewer number of southern troops and their inferior equipment.  This set the strategy for future technological warfare, as Grant realized that despite the ferocity of the Confederate soldiers, the Union’s far larger population and huge industrial capacity would eventually grind the South into submission.

April 8,th to April 14,th :  National Library Week: First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance dedicated toward reading. See this article about the benefits of reading

 

 April 8,th: Happy Easter!  April 15,th: Happy Easter again!  The 15th of April is Orthodox Easter in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and other nations where the Orthodox Christian Church is the dominant religion.



April 11,th 2008: A monument to the space dog Laika was opened in Moscow, Russia.  This pioneer K-9 flew into space in 1957.  While space dogs that followed her flight into orbit were returned to Earth, Laika’s capsule did not have the necessary protection for a survivable reentry through the atmosphere.

 

 

  April 11,th 1970:  Apollo 13 launched on a mission to the Moon.  On board were astronauts, Jim Lovell, Rusty Swigert, and Fred Haise.  The launch and mission went as planned until April 14,th.   Around 10: p.m. EST, and at a distance of 200,000 miles from Earth, an electrical short circuit caused one of the service module’s oxygen tanks to explode, blowing out the side of the module and cutting power to the command module.  The only way to return to Earth while keeping the crew alive, was with the LEM, the lunar lander that was attached to the command module.  Using the lander’s main engine, Jim Lovell fired a rocket burn as Apollo 13 passed beyond the far side of the Moon.  The moon ship exited and was on a course back to Earth, but Lovell had to make several course corrections without the aid of the on-board computer, using a sextant to navigate with. The second serious problem facing the men was life support.  The air scrubbers that remove carbon dioxide were no longer functioning in the command module.  The filters were not compatible with those in the LEM, so between the ground crew and the astronauts, they cut and taped together replacement filters.  The temperature inside the command module and the LEM had dropped to around 45 degrees F (around 7 degrees C.) Without proper clothing, the men ripped insulation off the inside of the spacecraft and wrapped themselves up in it.  Lastly, no one knew if the explosion had damaged the heat shield of the capsule.  It was possible that the crew had made it all the way back from the Moon, only to perish during  the 24,000 mile per hour reentry.  Fortunately, the heat shield held and the crew made an ocean landing on April 17,th 1970.

April 12,th 1961: Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to leave the Earth and travel into space, completing one full orbit of the planet before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.  Gagarin was hand-picked for the first flight into space by the father of the Soviet rocket program, Sergei Korolev.  His spacecraft was a Vostok spherical capsule, launched into orbit atop an R-7 rocket, at the time the most powerful rocket in the world. Gagarin was killed during a training flight in 1968. (The events surrounding his death remain a mystery.) Yuri Gagarin remains one of the most well-known and popular pioneers of manned spaceflight in the world.

 April 14,th 1912: At 11:40 p.m. local time, the White Star ocean liner, Titanic, with over 2,200 passengers on board struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic.  A three-hundred foot long gash opened below the waterline in the nine-hundred foot long vessel, flooding too many of the watertight compartments to stay afloat.  The ship began taking on water and sinking bow first.  Because the designers believed the Titanic was unsinkable, there were only enough lifeboats for about half of the passengers aboard.  At 2:20a.m. in the morning of April 15th the ship sank, breaking up as it went down bow first.  Only 710 survivors were rescued the next day by the Carpathia, a ship that responded to the Titanic’s radio distress call.  The remainder of the passengers died, either as the ship went down or in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic.

 April 15,th 1452: The genius Leonardo daVinci was born near Florence, Italy.  Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer.  Although he is perhaps most famous for his painting, The Mona Lisa, he is also credited with designs for the helicopter, the submarine, and the tank, long before the actually technology existed to build such devices.

April 17, th 1832: The Demidov Prize for Chemistry is first awarded. Every year the Demidov Scientific Foundation chooses three or four academicians to receive the award.

 April 19,th 1775: Patriots Day: The first battle was fought between British Redcoats and American Colonial troops in what would become the American Revolution.  The battles fought at Lexington and Concord Massachusetts.  On the morning of April 19th 700 British troops faced 500 Colonial militia at the Concord Bridge as the British attempted to put down the rebellion.  The 500 Colonials defeated the British and drove them back.  Later in the day, some 1700 British reinforcements from Boston pushed back the Colonials but the damage was done, the armed rebellion for American independence had begun.

 April 21,st 1800: The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress. The collection of books, some 700 volumes, covered a variety of topics but the bulk of the materials were legal in nature, reflecting Congress' role as a maker of laws. Today, the collections of the Library of Congress include more than 32 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages; more than 61 million manuscripts.

 April 22,nd : is the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day.  A day to celebrate the ecology of the planet and to raise awareness about over population and pollution that threaten not just human beings but many species of plants and animals.

 

 

 April 26,th 1986: The Chernobyl Accident creates the worst radiation release in history. At around 1:30 a.m. of the morning of April 26th two young and inexperienced engineers under the direction of a visiting administrator from Kiev kept attempting a shutdown and a restart on reactor number four.  That night there was not a full crew on duty, those on duty had a lack of experience, and the emergency shutdown safety systems that would not allow for the completion of the test had been turned off.  At the order of the administrative official, the two novice engineers shut down the automatic safety system, allowing a power spike when the reactor power was being increased.  This created a release of neutrons that overheated the reactor core, distorting the control rods.  Because of the distortion, the rods could not be withdrawn and the entire core superheated, creating a massive explosion that blew the roof off of the reactor building, and releasing high levels of radioactive elements that contaminated the areas surrounding the power plant, areas to the south that include Kiev, with the winds carrying radioactive fallout into Belarus. Despite the danger to population, the Soviet government remained silent until reports from Sweden where the radiation had been detected in the air and from satellite images of the burning reactor building alerted the world to the danger.  It was only then, days later that the Soviets acknowledged the extent of the accident and began evacuation but for so many Ukrainians and Russians, it was too late. Many of those firefighters and soldiers who had been pressed into service to contain the reactor fire died within days or weeks of the accident.  Tens of thousands of others suffered exposure to toxic radioactive materials that would bring diseases and fatal cancers years later, as well as children born with compromised immune systems and physical birth defects.  The Chernobyl accident can be credited with hastening the end of the Soviet Union, which finally broke apart in 1991. After the disastrous accident, a saying that people in the USSR created, wished, “Long life to the Communist Party….on top of the Chernobyl reactor.”  

 One Ukrainian man, however, may have received a benefit from the accident. Leonid Ivanovych Stadnyk, from the Zhytomyr region of Ukraine, developed a tumor on his pituitary glad, causing him to grow over eight feet in height. He was told that the tumor would eventually kill him, but upon examination in Ukraine by a world renowned British neurosurgeon, Standnyk was told that the tumor had vanished.  Experts believe that Leonid Standnyk had been exposed to enough radiation at some point to have killed the tumor.  Since this man had never had any radiation treatment and his city was in the path of the Chernobyl radiation cloud, it is possible that this is what killed the tumor and saved Leonid’s life.

April 26, th: National Poetry Month is in April but on the 26th the lovers of verse should carry a favorite poem in their pocket.

 

 

 April 27,th 1942: is the birthday of Dr. Valeri Polyakov, Soviet and Russian cosmonaut. He is the undisputed world record holder for most time spent in space for the longest single spaceflight in human history, staying aboard the Mir space station for more than 14 months (437 days 18 hours) during one trip. Polyakov retired as a cosmonaut in June 1995, with a total of just over 678 days in space, about the same number of days as would be required for a voyage to Mars and back. Valeri Polyakov has won several awards for his spaceflight and academic achievements, including the Hero of the Soviet Union Hero Russian Federation, Order of Lenin, Order of the Legion of Honor, and the Order of Parasat. (This award is from the nation of Kazakhstan.) He is a member of organizations related to astronautics, including the Russian Chief Medical Commission on cosmonauts' certification. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DR. POLYAKOV!

 

 April 30,th 1945: Adolf Hitler commits suicide inside the Fuehrer Bunker as the forces of the Red Army closed in on the final Nazi stronghold.  Accounts vary but most agree that Hitler and Eva Braun both committed suicide by biting down on cyanide capsules with Hitler also shooting himself. However, this is not the only recounting of Hitler’s death.  The bodies were taken out and burned, but the remains were recovered by Soviet forces. For many years, the Kremlin believed that it had a fragment of Hitler’s skull but recent DNA examinations have proven the skull fragment is not his, leading to speculation that he may have escaped.

 ~~~

Just announced today, a Canadian tourist visiting England for the purpose of collecting antiques discovered the find of a lifetime and then some.  The man purchased some old books, sealed boxes, and tableware from an estate sale in Staford, England, the Canadian buyer found, when opening one of the sealed boxes, an unknown and unpublished play by William Shakespeare.  Leo Publishing is excited to announce that due to any copyright expiration from the 1600s, and the doctrine of “finder’s keepers,” the unnamed Canadian will have the work published through Leo Publishing, LLC.  Look for this unknown play by the fall of 2012!

APRIL FOOLS!   GOT YOU!

If you are reading this on April 1st, then this is April Fool’s Day (or in France and Spain, April Fish Day!)   One of the first references to April Fools Day appears in the late 1300s in the writings of Chaucer.  In his Middle English tale of trickery, there is a date that has been interpreted as “March 32, or April 1st.  This may have been a holdover from Roman times as many celebrations of spring fell near the Spring Equinox that would be close to April 1st. Since that time, the date has stuck and is now a part of our collective conscious in many nations, with some variation.  In the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada,  April Fools jokes can be played only before noontime.  Jokes played after noon cast the prankster as the fool and the one doing the fooling.  In France and Spain, children and some adults will sneak up on an unsuspecting person and pin a paper fish to their back, yelling “April Fish!”  In Poland, the media often joins in to produce realistic but false news stories as an April Fools joke.

April Fools Day in England: The first recorded April Fool’s joke that involved the media was the washing of the lions at the Tower of London.  It was a joke announced in the London newspaper and a number of people traveled to the Tower to see this event.  Of course no such event happened. April Fools!

April Fool’s Day in Germany:  The Germans may take exception to the idea that April Fool’s Day originated in England. It is said that on April 1st, 1530, a meeting of lawmakers was set but when the meeting didn’t happen, the people who had bet that the meeting would occur were under great loss and upon that they were humiliated. And this story is also claimed to have been the actual reason for celebrating a day for pranks.

April Fool’s Day in Japan:  In 2005 the Tokyo Zoo announced they had acquired a giant penguin that stood nearly six feet tall.  The zoo would reveal the penguin to the world on April the first.  On that day, with cameras rolling, the giant penguin waddled out and into view.  April Fools!  It was the Tokyo Zookeeper dressed in a penguin suit!

April Fool’s Day in Russia: A Russian automaker announced a truly super car. The Russian car has a 12-centimeter-thick titanium plated roof that is so strong a T-72 tank can drive over it without causing any real damage, the sources said. Its windows are made of glass that will withstand a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade, while its wheels automatically turn into caterpillar tracks when going over rough terrain.  The automaker announced that the car would be ready for viewing on April 1st!  April Fools!

Notable April Fool’s Hoaxes

Burger King published a full page advertisement in the April 1st edition of USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a "Left-Handed Whopper" specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new Whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, "many others requested their own 'right handed' version."

The April 1998 issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the 'Biblical value' of 3.0. Soon the article made its way onto the internet, and then it rapidly spread around the world, forwarded by email. It only became apparent how far the article had spread when the Alabama legislature began receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation. The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by physicist Mark Boslough.

The Taco Bell Corporation took out a full-page ad that appeared in six major newspapers on 1 April 1996, announcing it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke.

In 1962 there was only one TV channel in Sweden, and it broadcast in black and white. But on 1 April 1962, the station's technical expert, Kjell Stensson, appeared on the news to announce that, thanks to a new technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to display color reception. All they had to do was pull a nylon stocking over their TV screen. Stensson proceeded to demonstrate the process. Thousands of people were taken in.

In 1915 in the middle of World War One a French pilot flew over a German camp and dropped what appeared to be a huge bomb.  The Germans scattered in all directions, but there was no explosion.  After some time the soldiers crept back and approached the bomb.  They discovered it was a large football with a note tied to it that read “April Fool!"

In 1975 an Australian news program would soon convert to “metric time.”  Under the new system, there would be 100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour, and 20- hour days. The report included with a government official who praised the new time system.  The news program received numerous calls from viewers who fell for the hoax including one viewer who wanted to know how he could convert his new digital clock to metric time.

The first internet hoax was on April 1st , 1984, it was announced that the Soviet Union would be joining the Usenet (the earliest form of the internet).  The message was said to have come from Konstantin Chernenko stating that he wanted a dialogue between the USSR and American and European users, but this was a hoax.  However, six years later, when  Moscow really linked to the internet, it adopted the domain name Kremvax “in honor of the hoax."

 

Famous people born on April 1st

1578: William Harvey, England:  Physician discovered how the circulatory system works.

1582: Thomas Simpson: composer.

1732: Franz Josef Haydn: Austrian composer.

1807: Fredrick Cygnaeus: Finnish Poet/literary critic.

1809: Nikolai Gogol: Russian author.

1864: Marie Jungius, Dutch: Writer of fairytales.

1865: Richard Zsigmondy: German chemist and Nobel Prize winner in 1925.

1866: Ferruccio Busoni: Italian pianist/ composer/conductor.

1868: Edmund Rostand: French poet and playwright.

1873: Sergei Vasilievitch Rachmaninov: Russian composer.

1878: Carl Sternheim: German Playwright.

1883: Aleksander Aleksandrov: Russian composer/conductor.

1887: Leonard Bloomfield: US linguist.

1898: Pola Gojawiczynska: Polish writer.

1908: Abraham Maslow: US Psychologist.

1920: Toshiro Mifune: Writer Actor- Japan (Born in China).

1922: William Manchester: US Historian.

1926: Anne McCaffrey: US science fiction author.

1929: Milan Kundera: Czechoslovakian poet/writer.

1942: Samuel Delany, Jr. US science fiction author.

 

                                            Events for April 1st

1733: Canada’s first lighthouse is lit for the first time using coal for fuel.

1789: New York City, the United States House of Representatives holds its first quorum.

1853: Cincinnati becomes the first US city to pay firefighters a regular salary.

1854: “Hard Times”, begins the serialization in Charles Dickens’ Magazine, “Household  

           Words.”

1857: Herman Melville publishes The Confidence-Man.

1867: International Exhibition opens in Paris.

1867: Singapore becomes a British crown colony.

1875 The Times of London becomes the first newspaper to print a daily weather chart.

1891: The Wrigley Company is founded in Chicago, IL.

1912:  The Greek athlete Konstantinos Tsiklitiras breaks the world’s record in the  

           standing  long jump, jumping 3.47 meters.

1931: Jackie Mitchell becomes the first female in professional baseball.

1949: Newfoundland becomes the 10th Province of Canada and the Newfoundland

          Railway becomes part of the Canadian National System.

1949: The 26 counties of the Irish Free State becomes the Republic of Ireland.

1960: RCA Television and Infrared observation weather satellite is launched.

1963: New York City’s newspapers resume publishing after a 114 day strike.

1963: Soap Operas, “General Hospital” and “The Doctors” premier on TV.

1970: John and Yoko release a hoax that they are having duel sex change operations.

1970: Cigarette advertising is banned by law.  President Nixon signs the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act into law.

1973: Japan allows its citizens to own gold.

1975: Canadian radio and TV stations start giving the temperature in Celsius (32 F

           becomes 0 C).

1975: Pranksters break into London’s Big Ben and switch the clock’s gears so that it runs

          counter-clockwise.

1976: Apple Computer is formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

1979: Nickelodeon TV Channel starts.

1980: Wayne Gretzky breaks Bobby Orr’s record with 103 assist.

1981: Daylight savings time is introduced in the USSR.

1991: Supreme Court rules jurors can't be barred from serving due to race.

1991: Warsaw Pact officially dissolves.

1992:  World's 7 wealthiest nations agree on $24B aid for former USSR.

2004: Google introduces its Gmail product to the public. The launch is met with 

          skepticism on account of the launch date.

~~~

 Korney Chukovsky

March 31st is the 130th birthday of the noted Russian children’s writer and poet Korney Chukovsky.  Born in 1882, Chukovsky was one of the most popular Russian children’s poets.  The Giant Roach, Wash ‘em Clean,  The Crocodile, and many other children's poems and stories have been  favorites for many years and are still delighting young Russian speaking children today.

Chukovsky was actually born in Ukraine under the name of Nikolay Vasilyevich Korneychukov.  His last name, Korneychukov was that of his mother, Ekaterina, an unmarried girl from Poltava, Ukraine.  His pen name is a play on words that combines his mother’s family name into his by breaking it in half. Shorty after he was born, Chukovsky and his mother moved to Odessa, Ukraine, where, as he grew older, attended school.  However, he was discriminated against for his “low status,” as an illegitimate child.  Chukovsky eventually put himself though university and taught himself English, becoming a correspondent in London as well as translating the works of poet Walt Whitman into Russian.  In 1905, his satire of the ruling Tsarist family got him into trouble and Chukovsky endured a six month sentence in prison, but was later acquitted.

It was during the Soviet period in the 1930s that Chukovsky wrote his children’s stories, many of which were adapted for animated films with music added by the noted composer Sergei Prokofiev.  Chukovsky was also one of the few individuals in the USSR to offer support and congratulations to author Boris Pasternak upon his being awarded a Nobel Prize, as Pasternak’s work was considered anti-Soviet at the time.  Chukovsky even received an honorary doctoral degree from Oxford University in 1962.

Korney Chukovsky died in October of 1969 at the age of 87.

~~~ 

St. Patrick’s Day

 Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Although an exact date of birth is unknown, it is thought to be around the year 340.  The day of March 17th is the nearest guess to that day on which he was born.  At age 16, Patrick was captured by Welsh raiders and was sold into slavery.  After six years, he escaped and found refuge with monks and became a follower of Christ.  He ministered to the pagan population of Ireland, converting them to Christianity and eventfully became a bishop.

St. Patrick is known for driving the snakes out of Ireland (although it is more likely that a climate far from conducive to reptiles is responsible for the absence of snakes.)   In explaining the Holy Trinity to the pagan population who questioned how can God be the father, the son, and the Holy Ghost all at the same time Saint Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to illustrate how three can be one.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many nations besides Ireland, and in particular, the United States that has a significant population of Irish-Americans, many of whom came here as indentured servants or as refugees from the devastating Irish potato famine which occurred in during the mid-1800s.  Those of Irish descent were discriminated against to an extreme degree in the United States, but proved their value during the American Civil War with many heroic all-Irish divisions fighting for the Union.  After the War, many Irish went into business and politics.  One of the most famous Irish Americans was President John F. Kennedy.

In New York City, home to a very large Irish-American population, the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral is an example of medieval architecture that was built during the mid to late 1800s.  New York as well as Boston, and many other American cities hold St. Patrick’s Day parades on March 17th with traditional Irish Green worn that day, shamrocks being displayed and even such things as green bagels being eaten and green beer being drunk.  Along with these delights are traditional meals of corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and wheat soda bread.  Also seen are references to leprechauns, mythical “little people,” similar to Scandinavian trolls.  The legend in Ireland says that if you can capture a leprechaun, he must give you his pot of gold.

Gold or not, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day can be a fun time for all.  Remember, wear your green, and have fun! (Or you might get pinched).

~~~

Time for a change?

 Uh-oh, once again you are about to lose an hour of your rest this Sunday.  Worse, and like jetlag, you’re one-hour sleep deficit will more than likely carry over to Monday, where you may be feeling just a bit groggy and reaching for a second cup of morning coffee.   You might be wondering just how did this all start and what purpose does it serve?  Even worse, there is a country were double daylight savings time was once in use!

The first mention of Daylight Savings Time was in the year 1774 by Benjamin Franklin as a means to save on the use of candles.  It was proposed again in 1895 by astronomer George Vernon Hudson.  However, it was during the First World War that this change was actually put into use. The goal during the war was to conserve fuel and to increase production by giving workers an additional hour of daylight.  It was abandoned in 1919 but in 1941, at the start of the Second World War, it was once again in use.  From that time on, it stuck with the United States but not every state.  Arizona does not abide by Daylight Savings Time, and so, their time remains consistent all year long.

It was during the Second World War that England adopted Double Daylight Savings Time due to severe fuel shortages and the need to produce both food and war materiel.  This meant that instead of a one-hour tie difference, now it was two hours.

Some countries have adopted Daylight Savings Time and some have not.  For example most nations in Europe have adopted Daylight Savings Time but most Asian nations have not.  The Soviet Union adopted Daylight Savings Time on April 1st 1981. Many Soviets were late for work believing this to be an April Fool’s joke.  Interestingly the Soviet Union initially used Daylight Savings time as early as 1917 but was abandoned shortly after taking effect.  Russia discontinued this practice after 2011 and so the clocks will not be changing. 

There has been a good deal of debate on the subject of time change with regard to use of electricity and even health.  Like jetlag, Daylight Savings Time has an effect on your body’s internal clock.  Although this is only a one-hour difference, the change can leave you groggy for a day or to until your body’s clock readjusts.  As for savings of electricity, a recent study out of California suggests that there is no measurable savings.  For parents of school-age children the switch to Daylight Savings Time is always problematic.  It is difficult to get your young children to bed at 8:30 with the sun still up, when just the day before, it was 7:30 in the evening.  However, baring a major protest movement by parents of young children, we in the USA and Europe are stuck with this, so don’t forget, on Sunday, March 11,th move your clocks one hour ahead.

 ~~~

March 8th, International Women's Day! 

March 8th is an important day for women worldwide but few in America know about this holiday. March 8th is International Women’s Day. In many countries this is considered an unofficial holiday. The first national Women's Day was observed on the 28th of February 1909 in the United States, however, this celebration of the working woman was abandoned in the USA as holiday by 1913.  In 1910, the first International Women’s Day was organized by German activist for women’s rights, Clara Zetkin. It is considered that it was Clara Zetkin’s idea for this celebration of women.

 

After the October Revolution in 1917, Lenin proclaimed March 8th as a national holiday for women.  Although no longer under control by Communist governments, many of the former Soviet Republics, such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and others, still hold March 8th as a national holiday. In Italy to celebrate the day, men give yellow mimosas to women.  Chocolates and yellow mimosas are the most common presents in Russia, Ukraine, and Albania. Women receive sometimes flowers from their employers on this day in countries such as Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Brazil, Romania, Latvia, and Croatia.  In schools, students bring gifts for their female teachers.

 

On Women’s Day, Portuguese women often celebrate in women-only dinners and parties. Working women in Pakistan celebrate this day as a struggle for equal rights, battling against the many cultural and religious restriction of their country.  In Poland the day is often marked with demonstrations for equal rights for women.  By 1975, the United Nations gave official recognition to International Women’s Day and in the United Kingdom, in 2005, the Trade’s Union Congress approved a resolution to designate this day as a public holiday in the United Kingdom.

 

Now that you know about this day, you can surprise your wife, girlfriend, mother, or daughter with a special surprise on March 8th.  If you live in America, few know of this holiday and the women in your life will not be expecting this.  This is a great way to show your consideration for your ladies as well as your knowledge about something few in the United States are aware of.

  

Birthdays of some notable people on March 8th

On March 8th, many musical composers were born.

 

1714 Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach- Son of J.C. Barch

1743 Bendix Friedrich Zinck

1778 Fredrick August Kanne

1825 George William Martin

1840 Franco Faccio

1857 Ruggiero Leoncavallo

1872 Paul Juon

1927 Jaromir Podesva

1927 Joseph Berg

1928 Frank Michael Beyer

1939, Speed Skater Lydia Skoblikova was born.  She won six gold medals in 1960 and in 1964.

 

1941, Soviet film actor and singer Andrei Mironov was born.  (He was really born on March 7th but his parents, who were also famous actors, put March the 8th on Andrei’s birth certificate as his parents did a comedic sketch saying that their son is a gift for women on Women’s Day.)

 

1952 Vladimir Vladimirovich Vasyutin- Soviet Cosmonaut (Soyuz T-14) He was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine and rose to the rank of Lieutenant General.  Vasyutin spent 64 days in space.

 

 Events that happened on March 8th

 

1618 Johannes Kepler discovers the third law of planetary motion.

1775 Thomas Paine’s “African Slavery in America” was published.  It was the first article in the United States calling for the abolition of slavery.

1936 The first stockcar race was held in Daytona Beach, Florida.  At that time, the cars raced on the hard-packed beach sand.

1945 Phyllis M. Daley is the first black nurse sworn-in as US Navy Ensign.

1946 First commercial helicopter was licensed for use in New York City.

1950 Marshal Voroshilov of the USSR announces the Soviet Union had developed an atomic bomb. (The Soviet bomb was actually developed a year earlier but not announced until 1950.)

1950 The first woman medical officer assigned to a Naval vessel. (B.R. Walters).

1952 Ronald Reagan married Nancy Davis.

1957 Egypt reopens the Suez Canal.

1961 US nuclear submarine Patrick Henry arrives in Scotland after spending 66 days 22 hours submerged: A new record.

1962 The Beatles performed for the first time on the BBC.

1978 The first-ever radio episode of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams was broadcast on BBC radio.

1979 the first extraterrestrial volcano was discovered on Jupiter’s moon, Io.

1980 The first rock festival is held in the Soviet Union.

1983 IBM releases PC-DOS version 2.0

1985 The IRS discovered that 407,700 Americans were millionaires- more than double the total of just five years earlier.

1994 The Department of Defense announced a smoking ban in all workplaces.

2004 A new constitution was signed by Iraq’s governing council.

 

~~~


“All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.”

                                                                                              ~Leo Tolstoy~

 February the 14th is the day of love, but do you know the real story behind Valentine’s Day?  Who was St. Valentine and where doe he rest today?  What are the customs of this day of love in different countries, and why is cupid associated with this day?

Valentine’s Day is considered a tradition today, but where and when did this tradition begin? 

The truth is that there are several speculated versions behind the reason for this long-standing tradition. The earliest record cites this day as Saint Valentine’s Day: a Christian celebration of the martyrdom of an early Christian believer by the Roman authorities. Valentine of Rome was martyred about 269 AD.  The Christian Church had made this a holy day at the time but then rescinded this as a feast day.  Since in Rome, the early Christian religion was considered a crime, often punishable by death, Christian feast days were made to coincide with the festivals of the Roman gods, in order to disguise Christian worship. This may explain why Cupid, the Roman god of love and son of Venus, is associated with the date of February 14th and Valentine’s Day.

It was during the time of the English writer Chaucer, in the Middle Ages that Valentine’s Day began to be associated with a day of love.  During the Middle Ages, the idea of courtly love began to take hold in noble households.  Chaucer referred to the paring up of birds before the beginnings of spring.

By the 18th century, in English-speaking nations, Valentine’s Day became a day on which lovers and courters would exchange or give small gifts and hand-written letters of affection. By the early 1900s pre-printed Valentine’s Day cards were introduced in America.  Valentine’s Day is the second largest day of card mailings in the world, surpassed only by Christmas.

In Poland, people will visit the city of Poznan where the remains of St. Valentine are thought to reside.

In an interview, a priest from a church located in Sambir, Ukraine, said that in 1759, some of the remains of St. Valentine were taken from Rome and brought to Ukraine.  Part of Valentine’s skull and several bones were placed in a sarcophagus and sent to the city of Sambir.  During the years of the USSR, this was kept secret. 

Valentine’s Day around the world.

In America, cards and gifts are exchanged, and parties are often held.

In England, lovers greet each other with an exchange of gifts. The lanes of cities are decorated with flowers and balloons.

In Japan, people prepare for the day by making chocolate candies in their homes. It is also known as “white day” in Japan, with homes decorated in colorful flowers.

In Italy, it is called “sweet day,” where gifts of candies are given between lovers.

 In Russia, it is a day for balloons, teddy bears, candies, cards, and gifts with heart-shaped candies and cards know as “valentinki.”

Some famous people born on February 14th

 Christopher Sholes, born in 1819, was the inventor of the typewriter.  Even today his legacy lives on in the modern computer keyboard that is based upon a typewriter keyboard.

 Carl Bernstein, born in 1944, is a famous American journalist, best known for his work on the reporting of the Watergate investigation during the years of the Nixon Administration.

 Fritz Zwicky, born in 1898 in Bulgaria, was an astronomer.  He coined the term supernova, explaining this phenomena as ordinary stars transitioning to neutron stars, which he correctly hypothesized were the origin of cosmic rays. He conducted important research into the evolution of galaxies, predicted the existence of dark matter, and was the first scientist to propose that whole galaxies and galaxy clusters could act as gravitational lenses.

 Herbert A. Hauptman, born in 1917 in New York, was a mathematician who developed a method to help clarify x-ray crystallography (the study of the formation and structure of crystals), using a mathematical process called the “direct method” to overcome technical issues and allow much quicker and more accurate analysis of molecular structures.

Francesco Cavalli was born 410 years ago in Crema, Italy, in the year 1602. He was a musician and composer during the early Baroque period.  His real name was, Pietro Francesco Caletti-Bruni, best known for writing 41 operas of which 27 operas have been preserved in the Library of St. Mark in Venice. Cavalli succeeded in making opera a popular entertainment. He reduced Monteverdi's extravagant orchestra to more practical limits, introduced melodious arias into his music and popular types into his libretti. His operas have all the characteristic exaggerations and absurdities of the 17th century, but they have also a remarkably strong sense of dramatic effect as well as a great musical facility.

 

SOME NOTABLE FEBRUARY 14TH EVENTS:

 1803 -- Chief Justice John Marshall declares any act of US Congress with conflicts with the Constitution is void.

 1859, 1912 -- Two new states are added to the Union on February 14th : Oregon in 1859, the 33rd state and Arizona in 1912, the 48th state.

 1876 -- Both Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray separately apply for patents for the telephone.  The US Supreme eventually rules Bell as the rightful inventor. If not, all early phones would have been called “Gray Telephones,” no matter what color they were.

 1918 -- The USSR adopts the Gregorian calendar.

 1924 -- IBM (International Business Machines) a firm that would become the giant US computer company is founded, bur never lost.

 1943 -- The Red Army recaptures the city of Rostov from the Germans.

 1946 -- The Bank of England is nationalized.

 1950 -- The USSR and Peoples Republic of China sign a peace treaty.

 1952 -- The 6th Winter Olympic Games open in Oslo, Norway. (The first Winter Olympic games were held in 1924 in France, but not on February 14th).

 1956 -- Khrushchev condemns the crimes of Stalin in a secret speech (somehow Soviet citizens were the last to know.)

 1961 -- Discovery of the chemical element 103, Lawrencium, is first synthesized at the University of California.

 1962 -- First Lady Jacquelyn Kennedy conducts a tour of the White House on TV.

 1963 -- The first communications satellite, Syncom 1, to be placed in geosynchronous orbit is launched.

 1972 -- Luna 20 (Russia) soft-lands on the Moon.

 1978 -- First microchip patented by Texas Instruments.

 1980 -- 13th Winter Olympic Games open in Lake Placid, NY.

 1989 -- The first of 24 GPS satellites is placed into orbit. (Something we cannot do without in modern world.) Also, first satellite telephone communications device is place in orbit.

 1990 -- Voyager 1 photographs the entire solar system on its way out into interstellar space.

 1996 -- China launches a US Intel-Sat 708 satellite on a Long Mach III rocket. The rocket was destroyed after liftoff. Many in the intelligence community believe this is how China obtained classified missile US guidance technology.

 2000 -- The NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft enters orbit around the asteroid Eros, first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid.

 2012 -- This is the 25th anniversary of the St. Augustine Library, which opened in 1987.  Today, libraries are everywhere, but do you know when and where the first library was founded?  As far as we know, the first library was built in Assyria by the last great king, Ashurbanipal, of the Assyrian Empire around 700 BC.  In 1849, British archeologists discovered its contents of thousands of clay tablets and fragments containing texts of all kinds of royal inscriptions, chronicles, mythological and religious texts, contracts, royal grants and decrees, royal letters, assorted administrative documents, and even what would be today called classified documents and reports.

 The biggest library in the ancient world was the Great Library at Alexandria, built in the 3rd century BC. It was the center of learning until the year 48 BC, when during the conquest of Egypt by Rome, it was burned to the ground.

The largest library in the modern world is the Library of Congress, located in Washington, DC, in the United States.  Built in the year 1800, today it houses over 22 million books.

~~~

  February 8, 2012 is the birthday of the great Russian scientist, Dmitry Mendeleev (pronounce Mendeleyev).  The father of the periodic table of elements was born in Siberia in the year 1834. Mendeleev was a chemist and inventor.  He was the author of the textbook Principals of Chemistry in two volumes.  He noticed the chemical properties of elements and was able to deduce a pattern, which eventually led to his discovering of what we now call the periodic table of elements.  In Mendeleev’s time, only 56 elements were know to exist (1863). We now know of 118 (2012) with 28 being man-made. Dmitry Mendeleev died 105 years ago, in 1907, at the age of 72.  Element 101 mendelevium and the lunar crater Mendeleev on the far side of the Moon are both named after him.

~~~

 It was the best of times…. It was the worst of times...” February the 7th 2012 is the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens.  He was born in Landport Portsea, England in  1812, as the second child of eight.  Dickens is considered one of the greatest novelists of the Victorian era.  Some of his notable works are Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, The Tale of Two Cities, and David Copperfield.  Dickens published serialized novels, a literary format that Dickens helped popularize, that used the idea of the “cliffhanger,” to keep his readers looking forward to the next chapter.  The continuing popularity of his novels and short stories is such that they have never gone out of print.  Leo Publishing salutes the great Charles Dickens on the 200th anniversary of his birth.  

Dickens' influence on modern language and culture. 

 Charles Dickens was responsible for adding new words to the English language.  Before his 1852 novel Bleak House, the word boredom did not exist.  Today, it is difficult to imagine not having this word to describe a tedious and very dull situation one may find oneself in.

 When we hear the name Scrooge, we think of a cheap and miserly person:  someone whose love of money has driven that person to forgo the pleasure of life and the companionship of others due to the obsession with money.  The name was coined by Charles Dickens, in A Christmas Carol.  Today we use scrooge to describe anyone who is cheap or is obsessed with money.

It was the work of Charles Dickens in his novel  A Christmas Carol  that popularized Christmas in the Victorian era.  This created greater interest in Christmas in English speaking nations.  This work of Dickens has been translated into many languages and has been the subject of dozens of movies and TV adaptations.