Archives for: 2007

12/30/07

Permalink 08:57:05 am, by Email , 536 words   English (CA)
Categories: Folklore And Superstitions, European History

What do William Tell and King Arthur have in common?

You probably know of the famed William Tell... shot an apple of his son's head? The one that has the famous overture written for him that also doubles as the theme to the old Lone Ranger shows?

The legend has it that this was prompted by Hermann Gessler, a chap appointed to be the overseer of the Swiss town where Tell lived.

As a symbol of power, Gessler erected a pole in the centre of the town and put his hat on it. He made an edict that the townspeople MUST bow to his hat as they passed to show respect for the new Vogt in town!

Well, leave it to old Billy that, indeed, when time came that he was passing, he forgot to bow... and was caught.

Gessler arrested him and as punishment, had him shoot the apple off his son's head... he misses, both of them would be executed. He hits the apple, both go free.

Tell arrives to do the deed with his crossbow and two arrows in his quiver... in one shot, he splits the apple and wins his freedom.

Afterwards, Gessler asks him why he had two arrows? Tell replies that had he missed the apple, he would have used the second arrow to kill Gessler.

This didn't sit well, so Gessler had Tell arrested and effectively "deported" by ship... well, thanks to a storm, Tell escaped, made his way back to town and killed Gessler.

This led to a revolution that would end up seeing the formation of the Swiss Confederation.

Yup, this is the cherished tale of William Tell... Freedom fighter... Father... Rebel who helped build a nation... A man to which statues are built and who's life is generally celebrated...

...and like King Arthur of England, he most likely...

Didn't Exist.

Yup, like King Arthur, the information that "shows" that William Tell existed is shakey... VERY shakey... and the evidence that his life and his legend were a story made to focus people on Confederation in Switzerland is rather convincing.

Arthur, had he existed, would not even know what "shining armour" was or even "chivalry" as they were both invented centuries after he would have died... he was most likely "invented" to make the current monarchs in France and England feel that their lineage was "magical"... basically, a fairy story for the Royals and a mythos for the commoners.

Tell, who's legend bares a striking resemblance to the Danish saga of Palnatoke, was invented as a symbol to the commoners that fighting the "good fight" for democracy and decency is the thing to do, and as a warning to those in power... mess with the masses and be picking arrow-splinters from your new open wound.

Did William Tell exist? It's possible... but the evidence is very shakey... and there is something spooky about the ancient legend of Palnatoke being so close to his story...

I do know this for sure, MANY people in Switzerland do not doubt that Tell existed... and one historian, for suggesting otherwise, received death threats and fled the country!

Then again, if YOU built an expensive statue to a legend that you found out could be fictional, you'd be a little ticked too.

Enditall

12/26/07

Permalink 12:00:30 am, by Email , 31 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - "American Christmas 1897"

A family at Christmas 1897.

Photo courtesy United States Library of Congress.

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

12/24/07

Permalink 09:36:31 am, by Email , 66 words   English (CA)
Categories: Holidays And Traditions

Christmas Wishes And The Yule Log

"A Yule log is a large log which is burned in the hearth as a part of traditional Yule or Christmas celebrations in some cultures. It can be a part of the Winter Solstice festival or the Twelve Days of Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Twelfth Night."

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas (if you celebrate), and a Happy, Prosperous New Year!

Source: Yule Log

Enditall

12/23/07

Permalink 12:38:34 pm, by Email , 276 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Sports & Sports Entertainment, Games & Recreation

They Are Off And Running At Hialeah

Have you ever wondered where the expression "They are off and running at Hialeah" came from? This is something that both sets of our Canadian parents would say when we were growing up during the 1970s.

I figured that the expression was related to a race track of some sort...but the question became where is Hialeah? I did quite a bit of web searching under High Leah, Jai Leah etc before caving in and calling Mom. That is when I learned I had been spelling it wrong, and it was indeed a racetrack. In fact my Mom had been there once and one $11.00 bux on a $2.00 dollar bet. That is my Mom a high roller indeed! ;)

Here is some info on Hialeah:


Grandstand and clubhouse at Hialeah Park. National Historic Landmarks photograph, taken by Mary Turnipseed, 1985.

The Hialeah Park Racetrack is one of the oldest existing recreational facilities in southern Florida. Originally built to attract the rich and famous, Hialeah Park has contributed to the popularization of South Florida as a winter resort.

Hialeah Park - walking rink and paddock area. National Historic Landmarks photograph, taken by Mary Turnipseed, 1985.

Hialeah Park is nationally significant as the oldest and widest continuously operating turf horse racing track in the United States. The association of famous jockeys, such as Eddie Arcaro and Willie Schumacher, with the track enhances its significance. Equally significant is Hialeah Park's role in starting the careers of famous horses such as Citation and Seattle Slew, that went on to success in the Kentucky Derby and other classics.


For further reading:

Please visit the official website for Hialeah Park Racetrack

Image Credit: National Historic Landmarks Program

Enditall

12/22/07

Permalink 09:43:57 pm, by Email , 140 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens

The Oldest Reigning English Monarch

Congratulations to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the II....

...who earlier this week reached a new milestone as she overtook Queen Victoria to become the oldest English monarch.

Here is a snippet from the BBC:

Her great-great grandmother, who was born on 24 May 1819, lived for 81 years, seven months and 29 days.

At 1700 GMT, the Queen beat the record, which was calculated after taking into account the times of their births and Victoria's death.

But the day was business as usual for the Queen, as there was no special event to mark the occasion.

The monarch, who was born on 21 April 1926, spent the day on her normal duties and had no public engagements or audiences.

The Queen will celebrate 60 years on the throne in 2012, and break Queen Victoria's record as the longest-reigning British monarch on 9 September 2015.

Full BBC Article Here

Image Credit: BBC

Enditall

12/21/07

Permalink 09:00:09 pm, by Email , 521 words   English (CA)
Categories: Odds & Ends

Famous Last Words

Death is a great equalizer... and not everyone gets to utter something memorable or prophetic when our times is up... luckily, some do... and their words can be everything from angry to insightful... to funny! Here's some "famous" last words...

"Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking towards me, without hurrying." - Jean Cocteau

"I've had a hell of a lot of fun and I've enjoyed every minute of it." - Errol Flynn

"Je vais ou je vas mourir, l'un et l'autre se dit ou se disent." (I am about to - or I am going to - die: either expression is correct.) - Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian

"I'll be in hell before you've finished breakfast boys... let her rip!" - Murderer "Black Jack" Ketchum, just prior to being hanged.

"I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis." - Humphrey Bogart

"When I hear that a man is religious, I conclude he is a rascal!" - David Hume

"The Countess Rouen sends her compliments but begs to be excused. She is engaged in dying." - The Countess Rouen, in a letter read by her attendant to her guests.

"I wish I was skiing." a nurse asked, "Oh, Mr. Laurel, do you ski?" "No, but I'd rather be skiing than doing what I'm doing." - Stan Laurel

"It's very beautiful over there." - Thomas Edison

"You sons of bitches. Give my love to mother." - "Two Gun" Crowley, while sitting in the electric chair.

"I just had eighteen straight scotches. I think that's the record…After thirty-nine years, this is all I've done." - Dylan Thomas

"If this is dying, I don't think much of it." - Lytton Strachey

"Pardonnez-moi, monsieur. Je ne l'ai pas fait exprès." (Pardon me, sir. I did not do it on purpose.) - Marie Antionette

"So little done, so much to do." - Alexander Graham Bell

"I've never felt better." - Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

"I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man." - Che Guevara

"I desire to go to Hell and not to Heaven. In the former place I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings and princes, while in the latter are only beggars, monks and apostles." - Niccolo Machiavelli

"Go on! Get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough!" - Karl Marx

"Why yes - a bullet proof vest." - James Rodgers, murderer in front of the firing squad when asked if he had any last requests.

"Drink to me." - Pablo Picasso

"All is lost! Monks, Monks, Monks! So, now all is gone - Empire, Body, and Soul!." - Henry VIII

"At least one knows that death will be easy. A slight knock at the window pain, then..." - Bertolt Brecht

"If Mr Selwyn calls again, show him up. If I am alive I shall be delighted to see him, and if I am dead he would like to see me." - Henry Fox - Lord Holland

"I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have." - Leonardo da Vinci

"My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go." - Oscar Wilde

Enditall

12/19/07

Permalink 08:48:20 pm, by Email , 76 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture

Dan Fogelberg Passes Away

Earlier this week legendary singer and songwriter Dan Fogelberg passed away after losing his fight with battle with prostate cancer. He was only 56 years of age. Dan died at his home in Maine with his wife Jean by his side. The world has lost a great performer.....and I was saddened upon hearing it.

Rest in peace Dan. You gave the world such beautiful music, and you will not be forgotten.

Enditall

12/18/07

Permalink 06:29:50 am, by Email , 87 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Wordless Wednesday, Holidays And Traditions

Wordless Wednesday - "Harper's Weekly"

Santa Claus hands out gifts during the US Civil War in Thomas Nast's first Santa Claus cartoon, Harper's Weekly, 1863. Since I will probably not be playing along in next week's Wordless Wednesday I thought I would take this opportunity to wish all my fellow WW participants a very merry Christmas if you celebrate it, and all the best in the upcoming year!

Happy Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Image Credit: Wiki

Enditall

12/16/07

Permalink 10:03:55 am, by Email , 181 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, European History, Religion and Spirituality

Michelangelo's Pietà

Michelangelo's Pietà

"The Pietà (1498–1499) by Michelangelo is a marble sculpture in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the first of a number of works of the same theme by the artist. The statue was commissioned for the French cardinal Jean de Billheres, who was a representative in Rome. The statue was made for the cardinal's funeral monument, but was moved to its current location, the first chapel on the right as one enters the basilica, in the 18th century."

Did you know that the famous artist Michelangelo never signed his work? The only exception to this is the Pietà. I was curious to find out why this was the case, and according to the historical scuttlebutt it is because the artist had overheard someone misstating that his great work was created by someone else. 88|

Obviously this could not do! When they had left the "always prepared" sculptor (know he was not a boy scout I am just trying to add some levity into this post) chiselled his name into the statue of Mary, and Son.

Further Reading: Wiki

Image Credit: Wiki

Enditall

12/13/07

Permalink 03:56:21 pm, by Email , 134 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, European History

Oh sure, NOW they want him!

Interesting news item in the BBC regarding the French government's desire to have the remains of the exiled Napoleon III returned to France.

So why now? Here is a snippet:

A French government minister has visited a Hampshire abbey asking for the remains of Napoleon III which are buried there to be returned to France.

Christian Estrosi wants them sent back by 2010 to mark the 150-year anniversary of Nice becoming part of France under Napoleon III.

The former French president and emperor - nephew of Napoleon I - died in exile in Britain.

The monks at St Michael's Abbey in Farnborough have denied the request.

Full BBC Article Here

Knowing the Brits from similar past requests I do not believe this will be resolved any time soon. What are your thoughts should the remains be returned?

Enditall

12/11/07

Permalink 07:44:30 am, by Email , 102 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, African History

Wordless Wednesday - "Fishing Village"

"For years Salome Oncobu looked on, powerless, as unrestricted commercial trawling decimated the fish populations around the remote northern islands of Mozambique.

In order to preserve the stocks, he and other local fishermen joined hands with the government in 2002 to help create Quirimbas National Park.

The area's protected status is already breathing new life into the ocean and the island communities."

For further reading please refer to this series of photos, and article on the BBC website.

Happy Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Image Credit: BBC

Enditall

12/10/07

Permalink 03:17:04 pm, by Email , 90 words   English (CA)
Categories: Who Am I

Who Am I

I was born in Silver, South Carolina on August 25, 1927. In 1948 I won the first of ten straight national Negro women's singles titles in tennis. I became the first African-American to play in the U.S. Nationals at Forest Hills in 1950, and at Wimbledon in 1951.

In 1957 I captured both the singles, and doubles titles at Wimbledon and the singles at Forest Hills. In 1958 I successfully defended all three titles.

Oh and by the way... I also played professional golf!

Who am I?

The answer as always is in the comments section.

Enditall

12/08/07

Twelve Step Program... to firing a musket.

The weapon of choice during much of the eighteenth and nineteenth century was the black-powder musket. A nice and simple weapon with an effective range of about 75 yards. In fact, most safety guidelines have no issues with someone standing about 100 yards away from musket drill pointed right at them.

The musket required twelve steps to be fired...

Recover: The musket is brought up to eye level... well, the "lock" (firing mechanism) is with the barrel in the air and the butt usually near the chest. The weapon is not brought up directly in front of the person firing, but slightly off to the left...

This is done for the person firing to check to see if everything is in good working order... that the flint is in place and good and that there's nothing fouling the touch-hole for the next round.

Load: The musket is brought down to the waist... the butt to the rear, the barrel forward. The musket's hammer (where the flint is,) is brought to half-cock (not quite all the way ready, but not touching the frizzen or the metal where the flint makes it's spark on the pan) and pan is opened.

Handle Cartridge: The person firing reaches about with their right hand, while cradling the musket between their left hand, their right arm, and their waist, and snatches a "cartridge". This is a piece of paper which is wrapped around a musket ball (the bullet) and the black-powder. In military orders, which is how I'm giving them to you here, a soldier would then bring the cartridge to his mouth...

Prime: After biting the end of the cartridge (keeping the ball in his mouth,) the soldier shakes just a tiny bit of powder into the pan of the musket... Once done, the pan is closed and you wait for the next order.

Bout: The butt of the weapon is dropped down and the barrel brought down (pointing up) to allow for the pouring of the rest of the powder from the cartridge down the barrel. Once the powder is in, the ball is dropped into the barrel then the paper is jammed in.

Draw Ramrod: The "ramrod" is a metal bar that is part of the musket, just under the barrel. At this command, it's removed from it's place with two pulls (they are long!) and it is then carefully kept at the opening of the barrel.

Ram Down the Cartridge: The soldier would then use the ramrod to push the paper, ball, and powder down to the bottom of the barrel firmly.

Return Ramrods: Kind of an important... this step is where you withdraw the ramrod from the barrel and put it back in it's place in the musket. If this step is missed, you're going to end up shooting your rod at the enemy with the ball!

Shoulder Arms: Just like it sounds... the butt of the gun is cradled in the left hand, the barrel rests against the left shoulder. This also gives the soldier another chance to ensure his ramrod is indeed back where it belongs... usually they "tap" the barrel to feel the ramrod in it's place while they shoulder their weapons... don't feel the ramrod, best fetch it out of the barrel ASAP!

Make Ready: The musket is brought so that the firing mechanism in front of the face with the barrel pointing up. The soldier then pulls the hammer all the way back into firing position (full cock)... and waits...

Present: The musket is brought down, barrel forward, butt against the shoulder... ready to fire at your target. Don't sweat aiming too much... like I said, you're only likely to hit a large target at about fifty yards or so... with no intricate hitting of a target. The idea was to basically have a big line of soldiers firing in unison to create a hap-hazard wall of flying balls hurtling towards the enemy... kind of like a few hundred guys acting as one, underpowered shotgun.

Fire: Straight forward command... the trigger is pulled, the cock is sprung forward with it's flint, which strikes the frizzen (the metal cover of the pan) which causes a spark that enters the pan igniting the priming charge of powder in the pan, which then goes through the touch-hole and ignites the powder in the bottom of the barrel which propels the ball forward and out.

In battle, just repeat the steps above...

Now, it is interesting to note two things...

#1: A good and trained soldier could fire three shots per minute with these steps.

#2: When America's founding fathers wrote the second amendment to the constitution about the "Right to Bear Arms", this is what they figured they'd be dealing with... not the advanced weapons of today.

None-the-less, this is the "Twelve Step Program", as it were, to firing a musket.

Enditall

12/07/07

Permalink 10:16:39 am, by Email , 195 words   English (CA)
Categories: War And Conflict

Japanese Planes Bomb Pearl Harbor Screamed The Headlines

And today December 7th lives on in infamy as the anniversary of when Japan launched a surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and declared war on Great Britain. This took place in 1941.

"Within two hours, six battleships had been sunk, another 112 vessels sunk or damaged, and 164 aircraft destroyed. Only chance saved three US aircraft carriers, usually stationed at Pearl Harbor, but assigned elsewhere on the day.

The attacks killed fewer than 100 Japanese but more than 2,400 Americans died - 1,000 of those were on the battleship Arizona which was destroyed at her mooring. Another 1,178 US citizens were injured."

The following day US President Roosevelt said of the attack in an official statement to the American people it is "a day that will live in infamy." And he was correct for it is still not forgotten, and it is still not very easy to visit the site of the memorial without feeling a deep sense of loss, and a profound sense of sadness......

The attack was seen as a victory for Japan, but ultimately Japan paid an extremely heavy price for bringing the United States into the war.

Source: BBC

Image Source: BBC

Enditall
Permalink 07:34:32 am, by Email , 270 words   English (CA)
Categories: Science And Technology, Odds & Ends

The Grandfather Clock

When it comes to grandfather clocks or to clocks in general we can thank the great mind of Italian scientist Galileo Galilei who in 1582 discovered that a pendulum could be used to keep time. Then in 1656 it was a Dutch scientist by the name of Christian Huygens who built the very first prototype of the grandfather clock.

For centuries grandfather clocks have been beloved, and used throughout the world. And today we have Howard Miller clocks which are amongst the finest around the globe, and produced by the world's largest grandfather clock maker!

I recently had the opportunity of having a look at the Howard Miller - J. H. Miller grandfather clock , which dear reader you really should have a look at by clicking on the link I have just added in for you. This clock is exquisite, and it is my dream to have one like it marking down time in our own foyer, chiming in the Westminster chimes of course. Truly this clock is of heirloom quality, and one that we could pass down through to our grandchildren.

If you would like to learn more about Howard Miller clocks, and other types of grandfather clocks you may wish to have a look at this online resource. A recent entry I found of much interest is a write up offering purchasing tips for grandfather clocks. I have bookmarked this blog for my own future reference on the subject of clocks.

The modern clock has certainly come along way since Galileo's time, and it is interesting, not to forget mentioning fun to speculate what they might be like centuries from now.

Enditall

12/06/07

Permalink 06:42:44 pm, by Email , 87 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture

Johannes Brahms - Inspiring Retirement

Johannes Brahms - May 7, 1833 – April 3, 1897

German composer Johannes Brahms gave up composing in his old age in order to enjoy what was left of his life. His retirement only lasted a few short months though. Apparently Johannes enjoyed his time away from music so much that he was inspired to start composing again! He said, " I was so happy at the thought of no more writing that the music just came to me without effort."

Further Reading:

Johannes Brahms - Wiki

Johannes Brahms Biography - Listen to his music online

Enditall

12/04/07

Permalink 10:00:28 am, by Email , 44 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - "Thought Provocative"

Image description: The British artist Banksy has painted new murals on the West Bank barrier which runs beside Bethlehem.

Image Credit: BBC

Happy Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

12/03/07

Permalink 06:02:21 pm, by Email , 123 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture

Outfitting The Wizard

Wardrobe crew for the film version of the Wizard Of Oz decided that they would troll Los Angeles used clothing stores in order to find elegant coats to outfit Frank Morgan the actor who was playing the wizard.

During filming the actor reached into one of the coats pockets, and he found a note. The note had been written by of all people Frank L. Baum who was the author of the book for which the movie was being filmed.

The producers were naturally shocked by such a coincidence! The studio did some research, and found that the coat chosen to be used for the wizard character had actually belonged to author Baum!


Source: They Did What? By Bob Fenster

Image Credit: WIKI

Enditall

12/02/07

Permalink 09:57:28 am, by Email , 234 words   English (CA)
Categories: Science And Technology

The Keeling Curve Fifty Years Later

I was reading a fantastic article put out by the BBC on the legacy of the Keeling curve earlier this morning, and wanted to share a snippet of it with you here:

It is a scientific icon, which belongs, some claim, alongside E=mc2 and the double helix.

Its name - the Keeling Curve - may be scarcely known outside scientific circles, but the jagged upward slope showing rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere has become one of the most famous graphs in science, and a potent symbol of our times.

It was 50 years ago that a young American scientist, Charles David Keeling, began tracking CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere at two of the world's last wildernesses - the South Pole and the summit of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii.

His very precise measurements produced a remarkable data set, which first sounded alarm bells over the build-up of the gas in the atmosphere, and eventually led to the tracking of greenhouse gases worldwide.

The curve set the scene for the debate over climate change, and policies, sometimes controversial, that address the human contribution to the greenhouse effect.

Full BBC Article Here

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Charles David Keeling, and his work, or those who are interested in the topic of global warming please do have a read of the complete article at the link I have added in for you.

Enditall

11/30/07

Permalink 05:12:59 pm, by Email , 284 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Sports & Sports Entertainment, Games & Recreation

Evel Knievel dead at 69

Evel Knievel
Image Courtesy of The BBC...

Via The BBC...

Legendary US daredevil Evel Knievel has died at the age of 69, his granddaughter has said.

Knievel had suffered ill-health, including diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis - an incurable lung condition - for several years.

He underwent a liver transplant, after nearly dying of hepatitis C, in 1999.

Knievel gained cult status performing death-defying stunts in the 1960s and 70s, including an attempted motorcycle jump over Snake River Canyon in Idaho.

He regularly drew huge crowds when he attempted to jump over rows of parked vehicles with his motorbike.

By the time he retired in 1980 Knievel had broken nearly 40 bones.

There's also an article this morning on the CBC about it...

It wasn't that long ago that Knievel was in the news for a different reason... Via MyWay News...

Evel Knievel and Kanye West have worked it out. The 69-year-old iconic motorcycle daredevil said he and West met at his Clearwater condo recently. They settled a federal lawsuit over the use of Knievel's trademarked image in a popular West music video.

Knievel sued West and his record company last year. He took issue with a 2006 music video for the song "Touch the Sky," in which the rapper takes on the persona of "Evel Kanyevel" and tries to jump a rocket-powered motorcycle over a canyon.

Knievel failed in his attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in Idaho in 1974.

West's attorneys argued the video amounted to satire, covered under the First Amendment.

"We settled the lawsuit amicably," Knievel said Tuesday. "I was very satisfied and so was he."

They agreed not to publicly discuss the terms of the settlement, he said. The two had agreed to mediation in July.

Robert Craig Knievel: 1938 - 2007

Enditall

11/27/07

Permalink 10:10:32 am, by Email , 132 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, Folklore And Superstitions, British History

Wordless Wednesday - "The Green Man"

"A mediaeval wood carving of a "Green Man", one of two almost identical figures on a misericord in the parish church at Ludlow, Shropshire, England. The picture was originally monochrome and has been sepia-toned.

A Green Man is a sculpture, drawing or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Branches or vines may sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Commonly used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found on carvings in churches and other buildings (both secular and ecclesiastical)."

Photographer's Credit: Simon Garbutt

Further Reading: Green Man Wiki Entry

Happy Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 10:06:44 am, by Email , 137 words   English (CA)
Categories: Travel & Tourism

Blueberry Lake Resort

Mont Tremblant Quebec has traditionally been one of our family's favourite summer vacation spots. It is in my opinion one of the most beautiful areas in all of Canada.

Today, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you dear gentle reader to Blueberry Lake Resort, which is approx. 25 minutes north of Mont Tremblant. This resort is the perfect vacation hideaway in my opinion if you are looking to be pampered in beautiful, and tranquil setting. The photo that you see above was taken from the Blueberry Lake Resort.

If you are planning a Mont Tremblant Quebec please do take my suggestion of clicking on the link I have added into this entry, and visiting the official Blueberry Lake Resort website for information on planning the perfect vacation or corporate event.

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

11/26/07

Permalink 09:52:53 am, by Email , 202 words   English (CA)
Categories: Interesting Lists, Sports & Sports Entertainment, Folklore And Superstitions

Those Wacky Athletes

Athletes are well known for being a superstitious lot. Some of their pre, and post game rituals though have to make you wonder if more than a few of our sports heroes are suffering O.C.D. :p

Here is a listing of some of the weirder superstitious rituals held by a few uber famous sports figures. Trust me this is just scratching the surface.

1. When hockey legend Wayne Gretzky warmed up during his playing days he ALWAYS shot his first puck wide left. Before each game he drank a Diet Coke, water, Gatorade, another Diet Coke, then more Gatorade, and then promptly ate four hot dogs! XX(

2. When Willie Mays went out to play center field he had to touch second base first. He did this every single time.

3. Babe Ruth had to knock the dirt out of spikes after every pitch, even if there was no dirt in his spikes.

4. Sherman Lollar packed his locker with four-leaf clovers.

5. Shortstop Marty Marion picked up imaginary pebbles to prevent the ball from taking bad hops. Shhhh.... :crazy:

6. To break out of hitting slumps Minnie Minoso would take a shower in his full uniform including spikes.

Source: They Did What? By Bob Fenster

Enditall

11/24/07

Permalink 09:33:32 am, by Email , 127 words   English (CA)
Categories: Sports & Sports Entertainment

Len Bias

What professional sports team has retired a number of a player who never played a single game for them? It is the Boston Celtics, and it is Leonard Bias' number 30.

Just one day after being drafted by the Celtics the highly talented Len died tragically of a drug overdose. The cause of his death is listed as a cocaine induced heart attack.

In college Len played for the University of Maryland, and set a school record by scoring 2,149 points! Wow! Some say that this bright young star was so good that he would have eclipsed even the likes of Larry Bird....

Sadly we will never know....

Further Reading:

Where Are They Buried, How Did They Die? By Tod Benoit

Len Bias - Wiki entry

Image Credit:

Wiki Image

Enditall

11/23/07

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Amiens

Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens

Work on this the largest cathedral in France began in the year 1220, and was financed primarily through the brisk sales of woad. Woad was cultivated in order to create blue dye.

Amiens Cathedral as it is more simply known was built in order to house the head of St. John the Baptist which was brought back from the crusades in 1206, and was considered a magnet for pilgrims (medieval tourists). It is still on display in the Treasury.

Within 50 years Notre-Dame was complete, and is a masterpiece of engineering, and Gothic architecture. It was restored by Viollet Le Duc in the 1850s, and has survived two world wars. The cathedral is known world over for its awe inspiring statues, and reliefs which were the inspiration for John Ruskin's The Bible Of Amiens in 1884.


Image Credit: Wiki

Enditall
Permalink 10:15:59 am, by Email , 236 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Arts And Culture, Travel & Tourism

St. Augustine Artwalk

Lightner Museum and City Hall - St. Augustine, Florida

Did you know that St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city, and the oldest port, in the continental United States? Well now you do, and I will also tell you that it is one of the most welcoming, and lovely places within not only Florida, but throughout the United States, that you will ever have the pleasure of visiting should you decide to go.

The St. Augustine Artwalk is one of the most popular cultural events that is hosted in the region, and I highly recommend that you gentle reader partake in it if you find yourself in this city that is just steeped in historical importance.

The First Friday Weekend Art Walk occurs on the first Friday and Saturday of every month from 5 to 9pm, and includes many wonderful things to see, and do, and as an added bonus the event is absolutely free to attend. Twenty galleries participate in the Art Walk, and include works by local artisans such as Beau Redmond, Trip Harrison, and Sydney McKenna. Both the photographers, and the paintings that depict local scenes would hold my own personal interest the most, but there is just so much including great music, and food!

If you would like further information on this event then please do click on one of the links I have added into this blog entry for you.

Enditall

11/22/07

Permalink 09:34:17 am, by Email , 371 words   English (CA)
Categories: Murder & Mayhem, Americana

Kennedy Shot Dead In Dallas

This was the news headline that shocked the world on today's date - 1963.

The President of the United States has been assassinated by a gunman in Dallas, Texas.

John F Kennedy was hit in the head and throat when three shots were fired at his open-topped car.

The presidential motorcade was travelling through the main business area of the city.

Texas Governor John Connally was also seriously injured when one of the unknown sniper's bullets hit him in the back.

The men were accompanied by their wives, who were both uninjured.

Vice-president Lyndon Johnson - who was following in a different car - has been sworn in as the new US leader.

The presidential party was driving from Dallas airport to the city centre when witnesses said shots were fired from the window of a building overlooking the road.

The president collapsed into Jackie Kennedy's arms, who was heard to cry "Oh no". Seconds later Governor Connally was also hit.

Dallas Times Herald photographer Bob Jackson was in the motorcade close behind the Democrat leader's car and heard the shots as it entered Dealey Plaza.

"As I looked up I saw a rifle being pulled back from a window - it might have been resting on the windowsill - I didn't see a man," he said.

Mr Kennedy's limousine was driven at speed to Parklands Hospital immediately after the shooting.

The president was alive when he was admitted, but died at 1400 local time (1900 GMT) - 35 minutes after being shot.

Police and Secret Service agents stormed the School Book Depository building moments after the shots were fired and recovered a rifle with a telescopic sight, said to be the assassination weapon.

The mood of shock in the US was echoed by Senator Mike Mansfield in an emergency forum of the senate.

"This is terrible - I cannot find words," he said.

Can it really have been that long ago? 1963 - 44 years ago today. I was not alive at the time of the Kennedy assignation. It would be five more years before I was born, yet I have always been fascinated by JFK, and his family, and of course all of those conspiracy theories surrounding the late president's death.

Source: Kennedy Shot Dead In Dallas - BBC News

Image Credit: BBC News

Enditall

11/20/07

Permalink 10:32:50 am, by Email , 101 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - The Niagara Falls Aviary

In the early part of the 20th century the above building was known as Spirella Corset Company. The company manufactured corsets, and employed up to 250 women in its heyday.

This is how the building looks today - 99 years after the above image was taken in 1908.

Quite a difference a century makes eh! It is now the Niagara Falls Aviary, and is the world's largest, indoor, free flying aviary. If you love birds - this is a very cool place to visit!

Happy Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 10:31:21 am, by Email , 233 words   English (CA)
Categories: Website Reviews, Love & Romance

Darkyria A New Era In Dating

The history of courtship is as ancient as attraction, and love itself, although through the centuries things have greatly changed in the way we meet people, form friendships, bond with each other, and in some cases fall in love. Things for instance have greatly changed in the past 20 years since I was personally out, and in the dating scene so to speak. And if you are at least 40 you will know exactly what I mean.

In the 80's Goth singles met with others at Goth clubs basically leaving you within the confines of a circle of people within your own immediate community, and sub-culture. As this last sentence implies that can be very restrictive, and yes rather boring. However, this has completely change with the online age.

Darkyria provides a safe, and secure online meeting place for Goths, Darklings, Vampires, and those who are into extreme, and alternative lifestyles, and music from all over the world. The website is free to use, and is limitless in its possibilities. They provide a means to upload photos, video chat with people you think sound interesting, and a nudge, nudge, wink, wink "send a wink" feature that you can use on someone you are interested in.

The site is very easy to use, and definitely provides eye-candy in its attractive design. Have a look at Darkyria by clicking the link above.

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

11/19/07

Permalink 12:40:30 pm, by Email , 71 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens

Happy 60th Anniversary

November 20th will mark the diamond wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. The royal couple have plans to travel to Malta where they lived as a young married couple from 1949 to 1951. Prince Philip was stationed there when he was serving as a Royal Naval officer.

You can read further about the Queen's 60th wedding anniversary through the BBC coverage of this royal milestone.

Congratulations from Canada!

Enditall
Permalink 12:34:47 pm, by Email , 123 words   English (CA)
Categories: Website Reviews

Payday Loans & Online Financing Options

Online financing options including information on different Payday Loans is available to internet users via the Complete Loan Source.com website.

For those who are in need of credit repair info or Bad Credit Loans this online resource is filled with valuable information to help you make the right decisions for your own personal financial circumstances.

The site is very easy to use, and designed to be user friendly. I had no problems finding my way around, and obtaining the pages I was looking for. Click on one of the links above to take you to the Complete Loan Source.com website, and you can see how simple it is to find online financing options to suit you.

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

11/16/07

Permalink 07:17:23 pm, by Email , 90 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, European History, Religion and Spirituality

The Black Madonnas

The cult of the Virgin Mary has always been strong in Auvergne, France, and this is reflected in the concentration of her statues in the area.

These staues are carved out of a dark walnut or cedar, and are now completely blackened with age. These Madonnas are believed to have originated from the Byzantine influence on the Crusaders. The most famous of the black madonnas is located in Le-Puy-enVelay, a 17th century one that is a copy of a middle ages statue that belonged to Louis IX.

Image Credit: Wiki

Enditall
Permalink 09:59:44 am, by Email , 252 words   English (CA)
Categories: Going From Here To There, Website Reviews

Careers In The Airline Industry

I have written about various aviation topics within this blog in the past, as regular readers of this historical web journal most likely already know. However, how many of you are aware that at one time I had a dream of becoming an airline pilot? While that did not pan out in the grand scheme of things for me personally I am still keenly interested in the airline industry, and aviation topics in general. Therefore I received a lot of enjoyment from checking out this website that details amongst other career topics within the airline industry - flight attendant school. It is definitely an excellent resource for an exciting career within all opportunities that this industry has to offer!

The website also provides a Flight school blog that would be very helpful to anyone considering the airline industry as a career path in my own humble opinion. It really gives an insightful, and honest look at these fields of employment, plus is updated very regularly. I was personally quite interested in its latest entry entitled: "China’s a big continent, but small in many ways." Amongst other things it details what it is like to work as a flight attendant while suffering from a cold, and how something that could be considered by some to be quite small was in fact a means to feeling better whilst at the same time providing that feeling of a job well done. Click on the link above to read through it.

My thanks to the sponsor!

Enditall

11/15/07

Permalink 12:03:37 am, by Email , 133 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Arts And Culture, Period Clothing & Uniforms

Mark Twain And The Necktie

I really need not introduce you to Samuel Langhorne Clemens a.k.a Mark Twain as he is one of the most famous American writers of all time. However, I do know a tid bit about him that you may be unaware of.

When the writer returned from a visit to his colleague, and fellow writer Harriet Beecher Stowe, his wife became most upset with him when she saw that he had not been wearing his necktie.

Twain responded by promptly putting a necktie in a box, and had it sent around to Harriet's house with the instructions that she was to keep it for exactly one half of an hour, (the length of his visit) and then send it back to him.

Source: They Did What By Bob Fenster

Image Credit: Wiki

Enditall

11/14/07

Permalink 02:53:00 pm, by Email , 78 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Who Am I

Who Am I

Who am I? I was one of the most colourful figures to emerge from the whole Watergate affair in the U.S. As the Democratic senator from North Carolina, I was Chairman of the Senate Select Committee to Investigate Presidential Campaign Practices during the nationally televised proceedings in 1973, and was credited with exemplifying the best in American politics for fairness, honesty, and a passion for truth.

Who am I?

The answer as always is in the comments section. :)

Enditall
Permalink 10:40:39 am, by Email , 175 words   English (CA)
Categories: Website Reviews

Online Personal Injury Legal Resources

Over the past couple of weeks regular readers would have noted that I have written a handful of posts on strange, and outdated laws from all over the globe. It is funny how many of these laws are still on the books, and the vast majority of us have no clue they are even there! Let us face it though, the vast majority of us have little knowledge when it comes to our legal system period, and therefore must rely on those with legal expertise when it comes to the law, and protecting our interests. Never is that more true in my opinion then when it comes to personal injury.

The Personal Injury Trial Group's website is a great starting point if you are in need of a Miami personal injury attorney or one in several other Florida locations. You can click on the link I have provided for detailed information on how they can assist you. I found their website to be highly informative, and very easy to use.

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

11/13/07

Permalink 10:48:01 am, by Email , 76 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Arts And Culture, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - "Art Deco"

Art deco was a popular design movement from 1920 until 1939. The photo above is of one of my own favourite pieces from that era. This statuette is typical of the fun style that is art deco. If I was wealthy I would love to do a room, if not entire house in the art deco style. B)

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 10:46:57 am, by Email , 225 words   English (CA)
Categories: Institutions Of Higher Learning

Pepperdine MBA Programs

Good morning gentle readers. Earlier today I had the opportunity to learn more about the MBA Programs that are currently being offered to both full-time, and part-time students at Pepperdine University, which is highly recognized as a leading business school in California. If you are considering pursuing your MBA please do read on or consider sending this page off to someone you know that might be.

The official Pepperdine University website, which I have linked to for your convenience above lists details on their different MBA programs, requirements needed, and locations of availability. I found that the website itself is designed to be user friendly, and easy to navigate.

The programs themselves are tailored to the students needs, and abilities, and in my opinion a terrific preparation, and foundation for the world of business. I was particularly impressed when reading through their International MBA program, and their study abroad options, which includes Europe, Latin America or Asia. An IMBA degree in today's global marketplace can be an absolute ticket to success in business, and Pepperdine makes an IMBA degree an affordable goal from what I have learned through their website.

Have a look at their website, there is a lot of information available for your perusal, and consideration including a meet the faculty page, and a listing of open houses.

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

11/12/07

Permalink 11:54:45 am, by Email , 104 words   English (CA)
Categories: Going From Here To There, British History

The Safety Bike

"Advertisement for a Cogent Safety Bicycle, Barkers Wolverhampton Trade Directory, 1887"

Cycling was very popular in England during the Victorian era. This presented some issues on the roads. Cyclists could speed past horse drawn vehicles....wheee!!!....causing the horses to become frightened, and often leading to angry roadside encounters!

A law was put in place in Middlesex county in 1888 that stated all cyclists must dismount their bikes when a horse drawn vehicle approached or if they wanted to pass, must politely inquire of the carriage driver for permission to overtake.

Source:
The Strange Laws Of Old England By Nigel Cawthorne

Image Credit: Wiki Safety Bike

Enditall
Permalink 11:23:20 am, by Email , 333 words   English (CA)
Categories: Health And Sciences

A History Of Colon Cleansing

In recent years I have found that the topic of Colon Cleansing has come up on many health related websites, and blogs. Perhaps this is due to the ageing North American, and European "baby boomers" population and/or perhaps it is also in part due to the rise of colon cancer, something which is completely treatable if caught in time.

Since turning 40 last year I have become far more conscious of my own health, and have spent much time reading up on health related subjects via books, and articles on the web. That includes an online resource for the topic of Colon Cleanse, but I am getting ahead of myself. Before I introduce interested readers to that online resource I want to make a bit of mention of the history of colon cleansing, after all this is a history blog. ;)

Natural Colon Cleanse is not something new age or even all that modern. Did you know that colon cleansing is centuries old, in fact some sources claim to be able to trace it back to the ancient world as a means to rid the body of harmful toxins. With modern science we can now measure the benefits to the body via colonic cleansing therapies.

Now, I would like to introduce those of you who are interested in this topic to a Colon Cleansing Blog that is an excellent resource on the topic in my own humble opinion. The site is well designed, easy on the eyes (which I personally appreciate), and simple to navigate. There are several articles of interest including, colon cleanse home made recipes tips, (great way to save money), how milk thistle extract helps to clean your liver and colon, and product reviews. The articles are written to be informative, yet easy to understand, and not filled with medical terms that only a doctor could make out. I personally feel I have benefitted by visiting this site, and are much better informed on colonic cleansing.

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall
Permalink 12:22:24 am, by Email , 128 words   English (CA)
Categories: Loons Throughout History, The Ancient World

Elagabalus Also Known As Heliogabalus

Elagabalus or as he was also known as Heliogabalus was a Roman Emperor ( 218–222 AD) with a rather twisted sense of humour. He was a practical joker at heart, but he had the immense power that enabled him to pull off some real elaborate ones.

Take for instance the time he threw a feast, and made sure all the guests got good, and drunk to the point that they passed out. He then had his servants carry the guests into an arena.

When the party guests woke up they found that they were surrounded by lions, leopards, and bears. The animals had all been defanged, and detoothed, but only the emperor was in on that part of the joke!

Source: They Did What, By: Bob Fenster

Image Credit: Wiki

Enditall

11/11/07

Permalink 12:57:25 am, by Email , 116 words   English (CA)
Categories: War And Conflict

Lest We Forget


In Flanders Fields


by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

To all of those who have served, and are serving....Thank You.

Enditall

11/07/07

Permalink 04:48:10 pm, by Email , 121 words   English (CA)
Categories: Who Am I

Who Am I

At my funeral in 1799, the famous saying, "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen" was delivered by Robert E. Lee's father.

While I was still commander-in-chief of the army, and prior to my presidential inauguration in New York City, a kidnap attempt resulted in the execution of my bodyguard for mutiny, sedition, and treachery!

I was one of America's richest presidents, I owned more than 33,000 acres of land, mostly in the state of Virginia where I was born. I am the only president who never lived in Washington D.C.

Who am I?

The answer will be in the comments section. If you are an American and did not get this one ... for shame.... ;)

Enditall
Permalink 04:11:37 pm, by Email , 96 words   English (CA)
Categories: Website Reviews

The Scoop On Charlottesville

Charlottesville, C-Ville Restaurants, Cafes, Music, Reviews and More are all available for your reading pleasure gentle readers at cVillain, which is a website dedicated to everything, and anything Charlottesville.

I found cVillain.com to be entertaining as well as informative. The writer has a refreshingly wicked sense of fun, which does shine through in the write-ups. The site is also completely interactive, and they encourage full participation from their users.

If you are looking for the scoop on Charlottesville you will really enjoy cVillain, and will definitely want to bookmark it. :)

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

11/06/07

Permalink 03:46:45 pm, by Email , 49 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - "The King"

The boy king that is! Last week the mummy of King Tutankhamun was revealed to the public for the first time. The photo above originally appeared in the BBC.

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 03:42:37 pm, by Email , 79 words   English (CA)
Categories: Website Reviews

Coupons & Deals

Overstock coupons are a great way for shoppers to save big money on their purchases at Overstock.com. I personally like to utilise Overstock coupon codes whenever I make a purchase through them.

You can pick these up along with coupons for all sorts of merchants at this online discount codes website. Edealfinder.com is easy to use, and a great way for shoppers to save some extra cash. Check it out daily. B)

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

11/05/07

Permalink 06:14:00 pm, by Email , 98 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Arts And Culture

Dion and the Belmonts

Dion (seen above center) of Dion and the Belmonts was on tour with Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens on that fateful night so long ago when they died in a plane crash. They had asked Dion to accompany them on that plane ride. Apparently it was cheaper per passenger the more people who travelled together.

Dion turned them down, and because he did, he lived.

Asked later why he was not on the flight he said, "I was cheap, and I did not want to spend anything extra."

Source: They Did What? By Bob Fenster

Image Credit: Wiki

Enditall
Permalink 02:27:11 pm, by Email , 161 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, Museums And Historic Sites, African History, The Ancient World

King Tut - Rock Star Of The Ancient World

Egypt's chief archaeologist, Dr Zahi Hawass, has revealed King Tut's face to the public for the first time. Tutankhamun is perhaps the most famous of all Egypt's ancient kings, despite not being all that important in his own life time. Here is a snippet on the unveiling...er should I say unwrapping....

A group of workmen slowly opened the golden coffin and raised the mummy onto a wooden stretcher.

Until today, only about 50 living people had seen Tutankhamun's body. Suddenly there we were, face to face with the blackened, shrivelled body of the boy king.

It was a rare and incredible moment.

Full BBC article Here

It has been more than 3,000 years since his death and 85 years since his tomb was discovered, yet this boy king still captures my own, and millions of other people's imaginations world over. I admit I am under the Tut spell, and hope to have the opportunity to come face to face with him one day.

Enditall
Permalink 02:14:30 pm, by Email , 135 words   English (CA)
Categories: Website Reviews, Odds & Ends

Credit & Debt Throughout History

Credit, and debt has been around since almost the dawning of mankind. In days gone by bad credit could wind you up in a nasty place like a debtor's prison. Often people in debt died in these prisons due to the very poor living conditions they provided. Most civilized countries, including the United States, did away with debtor's prisons in the 19th century.

Today we have online resources for bad credit, including bad credit loans, and credit reports, and scores.

Bad Credit Offers.com is an online resource that can help you with information to get back on your feet, and fix a poor credit history all from the comfort of your home PC or office.....which is a long way away from those debtor's prisons of old ....thank goodness!

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

11/04/07

Serial Killer On Children's Christmas Calendar?

I do not know about you, but the idea of putting a serial killer (a cannibalistic one at that) on an advent calendar is disturbing to say the least.

Here is a news snippet in regards to the calendar:

Tourism officials have been slammed for featuring an axe wielding serial killer on a children's Christmas advent calendar.

They defended the move by saying mass murderer Fritz Haarmann was part of the German city of Hanover's history.

The calendar is already on sale at tourism offices and shows children singing Xmas carols and laughing as Santa hands out Xmas gifts - and the Star of Bethlehem twinkles over the rooftops.

But over the first door of the calendar, a trilby wearing man peaks out from behind a tree with a meat cleaver in his left hand.

Haarmann killed 24 young men, chopped up their corpses and dumped their remains in the local river Leine. He appears on the calendar hiding behind a tree on the river bank.

Full Article Here

Here is a photo of Fritz Haarmann:

And if you are curious about what kind of murderer Haarmann also known as The Butcher of Hanover really was here is a snippet from the Wiki entry on him:

From 1919 to 1924, Haarmann committed at least 24 murders, and possibly many more. Haarmann's victims were young male vagrants and male prostitutes who hung around railway stations, whom Haarmann would lure back to his apartment and then kill them by biting through their throats in a kind of sexual frenzy. Rumours had it that Haarmann would then peddle meat from the bodies of his victims as black market pork, but there was no evidence. His accomplice and live-in partner, Hans Grans, sold the clothing of his victims, and Haarmann claimed Grans urged him to kill handsome boys, but was otherwise not involved in the murders.

Haarmann was eventually apprehended when numerous skeletal remains, which he had dumped into the river Leine, washed up. His trial was very spectacular; it was one of the first major media events in Germany. There were no concepts or expressions for his crimes; he was called a "werewolf", a "vampire" and a "sexual psychopath" at the same time.

Full Wiki Entry Here

A "werewolf", a "vampire" and a "sexual psychopath" .... yeah he belongs on a children's Christmas calendar ... :roll:

Enditall

11/03/07

Permalink 06:11:47 pm, by Email , 199 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, British History

Skeletons Frighten Builders At Tourist Attraction

Builders at the site of a new tourist attraction refuse to work alone after skeletons are found in the basement. My dream job... construction worker at this site. Oh I am just kidding...maybe...read on:

Builders at the site of a new tourist attraction in London are refusing to work alone after skeletons were found in a sealed vault in the basement.

Old tombs beneath London Bridge are being excavated ahead of the opening of the London Bridge Experience.

The site is being developed by two brothers from Kent who said some of the builders were too scared to work.

Lee Scriven, of West Malling, said tools had mysteriously disappeared and light bulbs had blown for no reason.

He said: "Lads have put down their tools to go for a cup of tea or a fag outside, and when they get back they're nowhere to be found.

Full BBC Article Here

For those of you wondering why it might be my dream job to work at this location, check out my other blog, and you'll get a good idea as to why. :p Hobby A & Hobby B combined would definitely be very cool for both of us!

Enditall

11/02/07

Dia De Los Muertos - Day Of The Dead

Between November 1st, and November 2nd Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead. Above is an image typical of Dia De Los Muertos art, which I personally adore, and collect. This is a celebration that I sincerely hope that I may attend one day as I believe it is a wonderful, and most healthy way to deal with this very real fact of life.

For an excellent article on Day of The Dead festivities have a look at the BBC write up that is entitled: Dealing with death the Mexican way

And while you are doing that I will indulge in a chocolate skeleton in honour of this day! B)

Enditall
Permalink 11:14:03 am, by Email , 120 words   English (CA)
Categories: Going From Here To There, Website Reviews

The Pacific Wood Preserving Companies

I had the most interesting opportunity this morning to visit the online home of The Pacific Wood Preserving Companies. They produce amongst other things the railroad ties that keep our rail systems moving. The company specialises in treated wood products.

What I was personally most interested in when visiting The Pacific Wood Preserving Companies website was their apparent concern, and dedication to our environment. There is a dedicated article specifically to this on the site, and I would encourage you to read through it.

If you are in need of treated wood products or are just curious about this topic have a look at their website by clicking on either the link or image above.

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

11/01/07

Permalink 02:15:41 pm, by Email , 118 words   English (CA)
Categories: Hollywood Babylon

Did She? Didn't She?

A Very Young Jane Fonda

When Vassar was a women's college, and Jane Fonda was a student there, she refused to wear the white gloves, and pearls that were required by the school as mandatory dress code for the daily tea that was held in the Rose Parlor.

When Jane was told to dress up properly as per school rules (or at least this is how the gossip goes) she returned to the parlor wearing gloves, and pearls ask requested - and absolutely nothing else! 88|

Is this story true? I personally think it is an urban legend, but one cannot argue that Ms Fonda was one hot lady!

Source: They Did What, By Bob Fenster

Image Credit: Jane Fonda

Enditall
Permalink 12:19:51 pm, by Email , 121 words   English (CA)
Categories: Website Reviews

Helicopter Accident Law Resources

If you were in need of a helicopter accident lawyer would you know where to go? Would you know how, and where to find a good online resource?

Today I had the opportunity to visit a helicopter accident law resources website that you can access as well by clicking on the link above. Helicopter Accident Attorney.com is the most comprehensive resource on this subject that I have personally ever seen, and I was very impressed with the amount of information provided to the reader.

The website is very easy to use, and provides a drop down box for easy searches. I would definitely recommend Helicopter Accident Attorney.com as a top authority on this subject.

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

10/30/07

Permalink 01:25:41 pm, by Email , 58 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - "Happy Halloween"

I saw the photo above, and not only did I think it would be fitting for this blog, and this week's WW entry, but it made me smile as well. I hope it made you smile too! :D

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 01:23:42 pm, by Email , 131 words   English (CA)
Categories: Website Reviews

Online Mortgage Resource

Dear reader, if you are in need of a Mortgage Broker then please do read on as I would like to draw your attention to a really good online resource for mortgages, and home loans that has just been revamped, and unveiled to the public.

The money magic website is well designed, and easy to navigate through. However, more importantly I have found it to be a terrific resource, and jam-packed with good information particularly through its mortgage guides. These guide are free to the public to read through, and are helpful in giving a better understanding to various types of mortgages.

They also provide quotes that you can use to compare. Have a look at this online mortgage resource by clicking on the link above.

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

10/29/07

Too Much Elizabeth?

You have got to be kidding! Personally I adore Her Majesty Elizabeth I ...however according to a BBC news item some of us may be suffering from Elizabeth fatigue or Tudor burn-out. Here is a snippet from the article:

Cate Blanchett has donned her red wig for a second time to play Elizabeth I. But do we really need another version of this well-worn tale of virginity and power?

A sweeping view of the Spanish Armada, sumptuous pearls, dashing cloaked lovers and, of course, the flaming red hair. It can only be another dramatisation about Elizabeth I.

The Virgin Queen has been portrayed in books and on stage since her rule in the 16th Century and on film since 1912 with a regularity that outnumbers every other historical ruler.

Surely we know everything there is to know about her. But Hollywood has poured millions into yet another depiction.

Full BBC Article Here

The article further goes on to question, "What is it about this woman who ruled unelected nearly 500 years ago that is so alluring in the 21st Century?"

And my answer to this question is simple. Despite 500 years having passed Elizabeth's personal struggles, and triumphs are still relevant to women around the globe today. This is what makes her story so popular, and in ways inspiring.

Enditall

10/28/07

Medieval Cranes And Their Operators

Ever wonder how the great medieval cathedrals were built? If so, you have got to watch the following video clip.

The clip is part of Tony Robinson's wonderful documentary series entitled Worst Jobs In History. I think you will agree that once you see what a medieval crane operators job entailed it is definitely worthy of being considered a "worst job" .... eeek!!! Have a look, and see for yourself what these treadmill operators went through. Kudos to Tony for actually trying it out!!!

Enditall

10/27/07

Permalink 08:58:32 am, by Email , 209 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, History In The News, British History

Outsider Art Inspired By HIstory

I was so inspired myself earlier this morning while reading through a BBC Online Magazine article about Kevin Duffy's Tudor village I just had to blog about it.

Here is a snippet from the article. Do read on:

To some who are weary of the increasing commercialisation of art, outsider works are unpolished jewels, and the people who make them are the purest artists of all.

And hidden away on an old allotment near Wigan, a vast new creation has recently come to light. Former Lancashire cotton mill worker Kevin Duffy, 62, has poured his life's energy into creating a magical alternative reality.

For over three decades he has used reclaimed building materials to transform his allotment-turned-garden centre into a labyrinth of three-quarter-size Tudor-style cottages, rendered pillars and curved walls.

On Boxing Day 13 years ago, his wife fell dead beneath the Christmas tree, and Duffy's work took on a dramatic new urgency. Since then the site has erupted with more than 80 buildings and sculptures.

Full BBC Article Including Additional Photos Here

What an absolutely fabulous dream come to life! Again, I absolutely love this, and would love to visit one day. Three cheers for people like Kevin Duffy who make are world that much more interesting to live in! :D

Enditall

10/25/07

Permalink 07:15:02 pm, by Email , 206 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Prehistoric

Science Makes History More Interesting

"Some Neanderthals were probably redheads, a DNA study has shown."

I love little gems such as the one in the BBC article published earlier today on Neanderthal genetics. According to the study it quotes Neanderthals were red heads or "flame-haired" ....

Here is a snippet from the article:

Writing in Science journal, a team of researchers extracted DNA from remains of two Neanderthals and retrieved part of an important gene called MC1R.

In modern people, a change - or mutation - in this gene causes red hair, but, until now, no one knew what hair colour our extinct relatives had.

By analysing a version of the gene in Neanderthals, scientists found that they also have sported fiery locks.

"We found a variant of MC1R in Neanderthals which is not present in modern humans, but which causes an effect on the hair similar to that seen in modern redheads," said lead author Carles Lalueza-Fox, assistant professor in genetics at the University of Barcelona.

Though once thought to have been our ancestors, the Neanderthals are now considered by many to be an evolutionary dead end.

Full BBC Article Here

Personally I believe there is much more that can be learned through Neanderthal genetics, and hope that this study continues ....

Enditall

10/24/07

Permalink 10:48:44 am, by Email , 20 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Arts And Culture, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - "Native Canadian Art"

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 10:41:19 am, by Email , 216 words   English (CA)
Categories: Travel & Tourism

Roman Holiday

The Roman Colosseum at dusk

No, today's blog entry will not be about "Roman Holiday" the wonderful 1953 film starring the legendary Gregory Peck, and the gorgeous Audrey Hepburn that will be for another day. :D Today, I will be writing about an actual vacation to Rome to see the historic sites such as the breathtaking Coliseum as pictured above, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. Here is another daylight view:

Along with the Coliseum, other must sees in Italy for the history buff would be the trevi fountain, and duomo, the latter being the second largest Gothic cathedral in the world! You can book your hotels in Italy to coincide with the sites that are of most interest to you.

Rome is an obvious choice destination for its historical significance. Every year tourists flock to the Parthenon, the Vatican, and of course the Sistine Chapel itself. Many of the hotels in Rome have an interesting history or are of historical importance themselves.

The Canals in Venice

Personally when I think of Venice I think of the world famous canals, palazzo grassi, an of course the Fenice. And while there are many Venice hotels to choose from should I visit I would love to stay at Abbazia Hotel Venice, which was once an ancient abbey!

Enditall

10/22/07

Permalink 01:28:32 am, by Email , 195 words   English (CA)
Categories: Murder & Mayhem

Unreformed Or So They Say.....

In 1728 Maggie Dickson of Musselburgh, in Scotland was accused of murdering a child. Although she claimed to be innocent the fact that she had been having an affair while her husband was at sea was used against her. Apparently it was her character that counted against her as opposed to any hard evidence, and that was not really unusual in that time period.

Maggie was tried in Edinburgh, and hanged in Leith. However that is not where her story, nor life ends.

Friends of Maggie cut her down, and were taking her back to Musselburgh to be buried when she awoke! Needless to say her friends were in a bit of a shock. They took her to a nearby inn in Pepper Mill, and she was able to walk home the following day.

It was decided that since she did not die, God must have thought she was innocent so they did not try to hang her again. However, a contemporary account reads that the hanging had not reformed her: "She became mistress of an alehouse, and lived, and died again in profligacy."

Source: The Strange Laws Of Old England by Nigel Cawthorne

Image Credit

Enditall

10/21/07

Permalink 10:09:15 am, by Email , 92 words   English (CA)
Categories: Who Am I

Who Am I

Although I eventually killed myself in 183 BC to avoid being captured by the Romans I will always be considered one of the greatest military leaders of all time.

At the age of 26 I became the Carthaginian commander in chief in Spain, where, during the second Punic War I set out to invadeItaly by crossing the Pyrenees with a small force of hand picked troops, and 38 fine war elephants!

At Cannae in 216 BC I won one of the most brilliant victories in history.

Who am I?

Check the comments section for the answer.

Enditall

10/18/07

Permalink 10:34:19 am, by Email , 132 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In Film & Television

The French Lieutenants Woman

The French Lieutenant's Woman is a 1981 film directed by Karel Reisz and adapted by playwright Harold Pinter. It is based on the novel of the same title by John Fowles. The novel/film is set in Victorian era, and this posed a bit of an issue in the location where it was filmed.

Townsfolk in the English town of Lyme Regis where the movie was shot objected to the idea of their TV antennas being removed from their roofs in order to make the town's skyline appear Victorian again.

The film's producer did finally get his way though. He rented portable TV sets for everyone living in the town until filming was completed.

Source: They Did What? By Bob Fenster

Image Source: Wiki Images

Further Reading: Wiki - The French Lieutenant's Woman (film)

Enditall

10/16/07

Permalink 01:05:19 pm, by Email , 65 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, Religion and Spirituality, Asian History

Wordless Wednesday - Guide to the Afterlife

Taken August 2007 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. Scary-looking dude in my opinion. I'm not certain that I would want to be guided by him into the afterlife. However, I would love to have a replica of this statuette on my desk! B)

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

10/14/07

Permalink 01:09:30 pm, by Email , 114 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Sports & Sports Entertainment

Louis Cyr - Canada's Strong Man

Louis Cyr - October 10th, 1863 – November 10th, 1912

In his day Louis Cyr was considered the strongest man in the world. He was born, in 1863 in Montreal, Canada, and was a police officer.

Cyr defended his strongman title in many contests, several of these events being held in Europe.

His accomplishments included being able to lift a platform with four full grown horses on it. He was also noted for being able to place a barrel of cement on is shoulder with only one hand, or pick up over 225 kg with one finger! 88|

He once even held two horses to a standstill that were heading in opposite directions.

Source: It Happened In Canada, By Gordon Johnston

Enditall

10/13/07

Permalink 09:46:59 pm, by Email , 85 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture

Sarah Bernhardt

Over 100 years ago the bishop of Chicago denounced actress Sarah Bernhardt as a "whore of Babylon." And what do you suppose her response was?

She sent the bishop $200 bux in a check, along with a thank you note. I'm not kidding!

"I am accustomed when I bring an attraction to your town to pay $400.00 on advertising," the actress explained.

"As you have done half of the advertising for me, I herewith enclose $200.00 for your parish."

Source: They Did What By Bob Fenster

Image Source: Wiki

Enditall

10/11/07

Permalink 07:42:50 pm, by Email , 181 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Prehistoric

One Big Footprint

I love when the scientists make finds like these, makes me wish I had become a palaeontologist. :D

What you are looking at is believed to be quite possibly the track of a T-Rex or more formally a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It was discovered in Montana in an area known for interesting dinosaur finds. Here is a snippet from the BBC:

A British palaeontologist has found what he thinks is a preserved Tyrannosaurus rex footprint.

The metre-square, three-toed track was discovered in the Badlands of Montana, US, an arid landscape that has yielded many of the finest dinosaur specimens.

Dr Phil Manning, from the Manchester Museum, University of Manchester, first saw the impression last year.

He returned to the US in July to study the print further, and now plans to publish details in a science journal.

Dr Manning said that finding dinosaur trackways was an important addition to our understanding of how the great beasts lived more than 65 million years ago.

Full BBC Article Here

Very cool indeed! B) The BBC article contains additional photos for your viewing pleasure as well.

Enditall

10/09/07

Permalink 05:37:46 pm, by Email , 66 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - Historic Plaque

I always stop to have a look when I come across a historic plaque. And this past weekend's afternoon stroll was no different. Often I learn some tid bit or factoid I may have never known otherwise, and for me that is a good thing! :D

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

10/06/07

Permalink 06:02:49 pm, by Email , 271 words   English (CA)
Categories: Website Reviews

Questia

Good afternoon dear gentle readers! This weekend here in Canada is a long three day one as it is our Thanksgiving Day celebration on Monday. I have been spending this first day catching up on my web surfing, and reading as it has been rather dull, and rainy outside.

As Matthew spent time sailing the dreaded virtual seven seas in a robust game of PC Pirates, I have been checking out Questia, which for those of you who may need an introduction to this service is the leading online academic library for both students, and educators in my own humble opinion.

Over 5,000 FREE Books are currently available through the Questia website, and all you have to do to check them out is click on one of the links I've added into this entry or on the logo above. I was truly impressed with the diversity, and quality of titles available, again at zero cost!

A subscription to this service, which is available either monthly or annually will give you access to over 70,000 digital books and 1.7 million articles that are easily searchable. I have found the website to be over all very user friendly, and well laid out. Questia is a pleasure to surf through, and conduct research from!

For you history geeks out there they are also offering a free subscription to a trial set of books including early American history.

Questia would have definitely been a huge benefit to myself as a student, and I intend to utilise it within my own research pursuits both for this blog, and for my other writing assignments. :D

My thanks to our sponsor.

Enditall

10/04/07

Permalink 10:48:02 am, by Email , 125 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, Going From Here To There, Adventurers, Travel & Tourism

Robert Louis Stevenson - Travel Writer

Robert Louis Stevenson - November 13, 1850 – December 3, 1894

Robert Louis Stevenson is best known for his novels Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses to name just a few. However, did you know that he was also a very accomplished travel writer? He was!

In 1878 he set off across the remote Cévennes mountain range in France with only one small donkey, Modestine for company. His classic account of this eventful journey is entitled: Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes. This is one of the first books to present hiking and camping as recreational activities. It also tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags.

Further Reading:


Robert Louis Stevenson - Wiki Entry

Enditall
Permalink 10:43:15 am, by Email , 83 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture

A Historic Kiss

Often it is daytime television that pushes the envelope, and created history within that media. And that dear readers is exactly what As The World Turns did with their Noah and Luke storyline. If you are prude I'll warn you that the kiss in the vid clip above is definitely hot, hot hot!!! And I am very happy to see this soap further breaking down sexual barriers within pop culture.

Definitely a historic kiss!

Our thanks to our sponsor.

Enditall

10/03/07

Wordless Wednesday - Anubis

A statue of the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis, passes under London's Tower Bridge to herald the opening of an exhibition of artefacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun.

I would have loved to see this exhibit! B)

Image credit: BBC

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 10:31:05 am, by Email , 143 words   English (CA)
Categories: Website Reviews

Knowledge is Power

Now days with the internet the way we obtain knowledge on any given subject has become very easy in comparison to the past. There really is very little in the way of excuses to being ill informed on any given topic in today's world.

Bad Credit is a subject that affects a growing number of us at various points within our lives, and this in part is because of being ill informed in the first place.

BadCreditOffers.com
is an online resource that provides information on credit counselling, and other subjects related to poor financial choices, and ways to help get out of debt, and repair poor credit.

Knowledge is definitely power especially when it comes to financial matters, and as you can see through the links I've provided there is good info on the net in regards.

Our thanks to our sponsor.

Enditall

09/30/07

Permalink 11:55:13 am, by Email , 252 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, Religion and Spirituality, Asian History

Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi or simply known as Rumi was a 13th-century mystical Muslim scholar. Though he has not been on this physical plane for several hundred years, he is still very popular especially amongst American pop stars like Madonna. Here is a snippet from a fascinating BBC article on this most interesting poet:

Translations of Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi's - better known as Rumi - verse are hugely popular and have been used by Western pop stars such as Madonna.

They are attracted by his tributes to the power of love and his belief in the spiritual use of music and dancing - although scholars stress that he was talking about spiritual love between people and God, not earthly love.

Rumi, whose 800th birth anniversary falls on Sunday, was born in 1207 in Balkh in Central Asia, now part of Afghanistan.

I came here to see whether he has much resonance in his native country which, under the Taleban, went so far as to ban music.

Full BBC Article Here

"Mawlana says - if the sky is not in love, then it will not be so clear. If the sun is not in love, then it will not be giving any light. If the river is not in love, then it will be in silence, it will not be moving. If the mountains, the earth are not in love, then there will be nothing growing."

What an amazing quote that demonstrates why perhaps this poets continuing popularity. His words are as relevant today as they were centuries ago.......

Enditall

09/28/07

Permalink 06:48:01 pm, by Email , 169 words   English (CA)
Categories: Murder & Mayhem, British History

The Worst Executioner Ever

The worst executioner ever had to be a fellow by the name of Richard Jaquet aka Jack Ketch.

In 1683, when William Russell was condemned for plotting to kill King Charles II he paid Ketch 20 guineas to make a good job of it. Ketch took the cash, but....the first blow of the axe glanced off of the side of Russell's neck. Russell is recorded to have said, " You dog, did I pay you to treat me so inhumanely?" It took three more tries to sever Russell's head, and Ketch was booed off the scaffold.

Two years later Ketch botched the execution of the Duke of Monmouth. After four blows with the axe Ketch had to resort to severing the head with a knife ... ew!

Jack Ketch was finally fired, and replaced by a man named Pascha Rose. After a few months on the job Rose was arrested for murder, and then hanged. Ketch was immediately rehired... :crazy:

Source: The Strange Laws Of Olde England, By Nigel Cawthorne, 2004

Image Credit

Enditall

09/26/07

Permalink 02:23:58 pm, by Email , 111 words   English (CA)
Categories: Sports & Sports Entertainment

Charles "Kid" McCoy

Kid McCoy became the welterweight boxing champ in 1896. Earlier in his career he had shown what it took to survive in the ring when he fought a boxer that was completely deaf.

The other boxer could not hear the bell, and McCoy figured this out by the third round of their match. He also realised how to use this bit of knowledge to his advantage.

Kid McCoy motioned to the deaf fighter that the bell had rung, and as the other boxer dropped his guard he knocked him out.

And in case you are wondering....no the bell had not rung. ;)

Source: They Did What? By Bob Fenster

Image Credit: Wiki

Enditall
Permalink 10:11:53 am, by Email , 142 words   English (CA)
Categories: Holidays And Traditions

Dia De Los Muertos

Dia De Los Muertos or Mexico's Day of the Dead is celebrated each year on November 1st through November 2nd. The holiday (festival) highlights the reunion of dead relatives with their families, and in fact is a joyous occasion.

I have always been curious about this holiday, and coupled with my love for Dia De Los Muertos artwork, and food such as that pictured above I do plan to visit Mexico during this time.

Holiday Hypermarket provides cheap holidays to Mexico along with many other popular destinations worldwide. If you are planning on travelling to Mexico I do suggest you have a look at what they are offering, and save yourself some money on your travel expenses, just click on the link provided in this blog entry. There are some terrific deals listed for this upcoming November.

Our thanks to our sponsor!

Enditall
Permalink 09:51:22 am, by Email , 63 words   English (CA)
Categories: War And Conflict, Wordless Wednesday, British History

Wordless Wednesday - Knight

I had the creepiest feeling come over me when I snapped this pic at the Royal Ontario Museum. I have no idea why, but I honestly felt like "he" was going to turn his head around ,and stare right at me. Silly eh!

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 09:46:41 am, by Email , 99 words   English (CA)
Categories: Holidays And Traditions

Gift Cards

Gift Ideas have been simplified with the introduction of gift cards in the 1990's. And now they have become even better with GiftCardLab.com, which I had the pleasure of visiting earlier today.

These customized Visa gift cards allow for a much more personal gift giving experience while at the same time giving the recipient the ability to purchase something that they would really want, and will enjoy.

Have a look at the site by clicking on the link above, and check out the cool contest they are currently running for best holiday design!

Thank you to our sponsor!

Enditall

09/24/07

Permalink 01:52:12 pm, by Email , 129 words   English (CA)
Categories: Book Reviews

The Miseries of Human Life

I came across this book at a yard sale this past weekend, and with a title like "The Miseries of Human Life" and a price tag of 50 cents I naturally could not resist.

Although this book was written over two hundred years ago, many of the "miseries of human life" that are listed by the original author James Beresford are still very much relevant today.

While it is true that many of the books written during the 19th century could be viewed as stuffy or overly long by the modern day reader I can assure you that this one is genuinely funny, and does give an interesting peak into life during that era, and how in some ways how little has really changed in regards to the human condition.

Enditall

09/21/07

Permalink 10:52:17 am, by Email , 260 words   English (CA)
Categories: Murder & Mayhem, History In The News, Folklore And Superstitions, European History

Anna Goeldi - Last Woman Executed For Witchcraft In Europe

Anna Goeldi obtained the dubious honour of being the last Western European woman executed for witchcraft in Glaris, Switzerland in 1782.

Today the BBC featured an article on efforts being made to clear her name. Here is a snippet:

Fear and superstition fuelled witch-hunts all over Europe in the Middle Ages and caused the deaths of many innocent women. The last execution for witchcraft took place little more than 200 years ago but campaigners in Switzerland claim it may be time to clear Anna Goeldi's name.

To understand Anna Goeldi's story you need to go to where it unfolded, in the tiny Swiss canton of Glarus.

It is a long narrow valley, the mountains loom above, the villages are squeezed below into the spaces where the grey rock unwillingly makes way for earth and grass.

You get the sense, even today, that many of the world's events have passed Glarus by.

This was where Anna Goeldi arrived in 1765, looking for work as a maid.

One of the houses she worked in still exists. It is imposing, smug almost, four storeys high, with a grand doorway, and the crests of the noble Glarus families who lived there painted on its walls.

It is the first clue to Anna Goeldi's fate.

Full BBC Article Here

It is difficult to believe that this form of murder still continued long into what was considered the "Age of Enlightenment." Hopefully these efforts to set the record straight will give Anna the dignity in death that she was robbed from in life.

Image Credit & Resource on Witchcraft

Enditall

09/20/07

Permalink 01:08:32 pm, by Email , 64 words   English (CA)
Categories: Odds & Ends, The South Pacific

Don't Let A Little Thing Like Death Get In The Way

Tautira beach in Tahiti

Chiefs of Tahiti continued to rule their kingdom for a full year after death. The embalmed body of a ruler was kept propped on a throne, and his orders were transmitted through a spokesman (telepathy? mediumship?. Apparently no one questioned these orders, and they were followed implicitly.

I wonder if this is what is going on with Castro?

Image Source

Enditall
Permalink 09:44:41 am, by Email , 135 words   English (CA)
Categories: Institutions Of Higher Learning

Admissions Essays

Today I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to you dear gentle readers an online resource for college application essays. Since the majority of our regular readers here at Pastyme with Good Companye are in fact students I thought that the website of Admissions Essays, and the services that they are offering might definitely be of interest to many of you! :D

I surfed through the Admissions Essays website earlier this morning, and must say I was impressed by what they offer including their competitive pricing. Since our post secondary education is so important to our futures, I do believe that any leg up we can get is a blessing. You can have a look for yourself, and obtain more detailed info by clicking on the link above.

Our thanks to our sponsor.

Enditall
Permalink 12:41:38 am, by Email , 80 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, The Ancient World

Muse of history

In Greek mythology, Clio or Kleio is the muse of history. Like all the muses, she is a daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne. She had one son, Hyacinth, with the King of Macedonia, Pierus. Some sources say she was also the mother of Hymenaios. She is often represented with a parchment scroll or a set of tablets and is also known as the Proclaimer.

This came up in Jeopardy last week, and we were both stumped! :oops:

Source: Wiki Entry

Enditall

09/18/07

Permalink 01:39:30 pm, by Email , 59 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, Central & South American History, The Ancient World

Wordless Wednesday - Machu Picchu

Yale University has agreed to return to Peru thousands of Inca relics that were excavated at Machu Picchu.I believe that this is absolutely the right thing to do, and applaud Yale.

(Image above courtesy of Yale Peabody Museum)

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

09/17/07

Permalink 07:21:47 pm, by Email , 263 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Americana, Going From Here To There, Games & Recreation

Fixing little red wagons since 1917...

It's not a wagon if it's not a Radio Flyer.

So sayeth Sue... and many others.

A Wagon!

Certain toys have longevity and are known worldwide... and today, I saw one of them in action that doesn't get a lot of thought from the masses... and that's a good ol' Radio Flyer wagon.

I was standing outside waiting for a friend when a young lad and his mum walked by... him pulling a Radio Flyer wagon with the family groceries inside... and I got to thinking about how this scene has played out time and time again... all over North America... and remembered how I would haul cargo for my mom with my wagon too.

Antonio Pasin, recently come to America from Italy, started building toy wagons in 1917... by 1923, demand for his wagons made him set up the Liberty Coaster Company (named after the Statue of Liberty,) which mass-produced the No. 4 Liberty Coaster and set a tone for years to come...

In 1930, he renamed his company Radio Steel & Manufacturing and started making "The Radio Flyer"... based on Antonio's interest in the inventions and progressions in radio broadcasting and flight...

In a lesson of "Why Mess With Success?", Radio Flyers are still being produced by the original company and still sold all over the world... in fact, their website features a rather cool History and Heritage section!

A true original toy that, like so few others, has longevity! (Almost a century of it... and call it a hunch, Radio Flyers WILL celebrate their centennial!)

_____________________________

Radio Flyer - Company Website
MonkeyShine News - Radio Flyer History
Wiki Entry

Enditall

09/14/07

Permalink 12:13:07 pm, by Email , 83 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, Who Am I

Who Am I

I was born Israel Baline in Russia in 1888, but by five years of age I was singing for pennies on New York's Lower East Side. I began writing songs as a teenager. My first big hit was "Alexander's Ragtime Band," published in 1911.

Although I could play, and compose only in the key of F sharp, I became one of America's greatest composers. I think that my most famous song is probably "White Christmas."

Who Am I?

The answer is in the comments section.

Enditall

09/12/07

Permalink 04:33:02 pm, by Email , 179 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Arts And Culture, Folklore And Superstitions, The Ancient World

Atlantis In The Arctic?

Seems unlikely, yet there is a tradition that tells that the great lost continent of Atlantis is located in of all places the Arctic!

Plato's lost island kingdom pops up in Arctic waters in theosophical thought. In ancients times it is said that the First Root Race - an ethereal, invisible "fire mist" people lived near the North Pole. This was at a time when its climate was much less severe. W. Scott-Elliot, the English theosophist identified the sacred land of the First Root Race with the polar region and named it "Polaria."

In the 16th century, Gerardus Mercator fixed Atlantis in the Arctic on one of his maps, as did Abraham Ortelius on his world map of 1570. Later writers to envision an Arctic Atlantis include W.F Warren, Herman F. Wirth, Rudolf Gorsleben, and Siegried Kadner.

In Richard Hatfield's novel Geyserland (1908) the Atlanteans live a blissful life of pure communism at the North Pole!

Sources:

Colombo's Book Of Marvels, By John Robert Colombo

Lost Continents, by L. Sprague

Fads, and Fallacies In The Name of Science, by Martin Gardner

Enditall
Permalink 10:17:30 am, by Email , 84 words   English (CA)
Categories: General, Website Reviews

Argue With Everyone

History buffs that like to argue??? No kidding! :p

I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to the Argue With Everyone Discussion Forums. If you like political debate you will probably enjoy this site, which offers much of that sort of thing in an almost completely unmoderated board. Not for the faint of heart, but will be enjoyable for those who want open, and free debate.

Just click on the logo above to check out the forums.

Thank you to our sponsor!

Enditall

09/11/07

Permalink 01:17:05 pm, by Email , 57 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, The Ancient World

Wordless Wednesday - Egypt

I would love to visit Egypt one day. It along with Greece is in my top 10 list of places, which are historically significant that I would like to travel to. Where would you spend a dream vacation?

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

09/09/07

Mummy Maiden Stirs Controversy

"La Doncella"

She was a 15-year-old girl whose remains were found in 1999 in an icy pit on Llullaillaco volcano. For the first time her mummy was put on display in an Argentina museum.

People were apparently quite shocked at how well La Doncella's mummy is preserved, and some even publicly denounced the display stating she should be reburied.

La Doncella was sacrificed along with two other children by the Incans around 1500 AD.

CNN reports on the display here.

Enditall

09/07/07

Permalink 01:34:17 pm, by Email , 63 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Tudor

Her Majesty Elizabeth I Queen of England

In my humble opinion the greatest of all English monarchs.

- Born: 7 September 1533
- Birthplace: Greenwich, England
- Died: 24 March 1603

For an excellent resource on Elizabeth I please do check out this wonderful site I came across at http://www.elizabethi.org/ Definitely bookmark worthy for those such as myself that LOVE all things Tudor, particularly Queen Elizabeth I.

Enditall
Permalink 12:08:54 pm, by Email , 162 words   English (CA)
Categories: Holidays And Traditions

Holiday Shopping

Oh, don't you dare say "bah humbug!" Believe it or not I always start my holiday shopping early, and I utilise online shopping coupons to save as much money as possible on the gift giving. Both of these practices work to relieve my own holiday tension so that when they do roll around I can enjoy the season as stress free as possible.

So what do two amateur historians tend to give each other for the holidays you may be wondering????? Books of course!!!! ;)

Our combined holiday wish lists including many items from Amazon.com, and from Alibris. And yes there are many available Amazon coupon codes, and Alibris deals to save $$$$ with.

If I could do some dream gift giving though, it would definitely be an all expense paid trip to England to scope out all the great historic sites, and naturally I would use Travelocity coupons to make sure there was a lot of extra cash for souvenir shopping! Sigh......

Enditall

09/06/07

Permalink 07:25:03 pm, by Email , 244 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Museums And Historic Sites

Where Have All The Craftsmen Gone?

York Minster's Great East Window

It appears that many historic sites are in jeopardy now, and in the future due to the lack of people who are skilled enough to maintain them. The BBC has featured a fascinating article on this subject that is entitled "Stone, wood and love." Here is a snippet:

Britain's historic buildings - some of the jewels in our architectural crown - are crumbling, not because of a lack of money, but because of a shortage of traditional skills.

Watch stonemasons at work and as you feel the tang of dust in your throat, hear the clash of metal and material and see objects painstakingly appear, it's hard not feel a certain frisson of magic.

Never mind shopkeepers, ours used to be a nation of trades people and craftsmen, but now it is easy to think those days are gone. When York Minster's spectacular Great East Window was recently found to be in a dilapidated state, there were no glass conservators in the country who could repair it.

Full BBC Article Here

This is not just an issue in Britain, but something we face in Canada too. Perhaps people should consider the earning potential of skilled craftsmen, and the very real demand for them that has been created over the past few decades as more, and more aspire to white collar work. Pretty much anyone can operate a computer these days, but how very few can actually do detailed stone work etc...

Enditall

09/04/07

Permalink 01:00:36 pm, by Email , 35 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, British History

Wordless Wednesday - Forgery

Taken August 2007 Royal Ontario Museum

A clever forgery of the seal of King Henry VIII.

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

09/03/07

Permalink 02:23:58 pm, by Email , 64 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, History In Film & Television, British History

Nobody Does English History.......

...as well as historian David Starkey in my humble opinion. The above is a promo clip from his series on English monarchy. Definitely worth seeing for anyone even remotely interested in this fascinating subject, and yes available on DVD. His series on Henry the VIII's wives is also must viewing, and part of my growing collection of history based documentaries. :D

Enditall

08/31/07

Permalink 10:30:11 am, by Email , 90 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, History In The News

Princess Diana

It is hard to believe that ten years have already passed since the death of Princess Diana. Earlier today she was remembered by her son Prince Harry.

"In a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry describes the unwavering love of the "best mother in the world" and the way he and his brother's lives were split in two by her death."

Read Harry's complete tribute here.

Absent from today's memorial was the Duchess of Cornwall who did not wish to take away from the day with her presence.

Enditall

08/28/07

Permalink 01:19:40 pm, by Email , 25 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - Stained Glass

Taken August 2007 Royal Ontario Museum

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

08/27/07

Permalink 07:18:12 pm, by Email , 204 words   English (CA)
Categories: Folklore And Superstitions, British History

Merlin Was Scottish

Merlin dictating his poems, as illustrated in a French book from the 13th century.

Merlin (wizard of Arthurian legends) was Scottish...or so a new book on the subject claims. Here is a snippet from a BBC article in regards:

Legendary wizard Merlin lived in the Partick area of Glasgow and not in Camelot, a new book has claimed.

Tradition has it that King Arthur's magician was either English or Welsh.

But Scots advocate Adam Ardrey, who spent six years researching Merlin, claims he actually lived in what is now Ardery Street with his wife Gwendolin.

Mr Ardrey said be believes Merlin was a politician and scholar rather than a magician, and is buried near Dunipace, just south of Stirling.

In his book Finding Merlin: The Truth Behind The Legend, amateur historian Mr Ardrey said his research showed Merlin was born in the year 540 in the Cadzow area of what is now part of Hamilton in Lanarkshire.

Full Article Here

Ummmmm there is only one serious flaw with this ... Merlin never existed. He was a made up character by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the Historia Regum Britanniae, and based on several people.

And while we are at it...there was no King Arthur either!

Enditall

08/26/07

Permalink 10:49:32 am, by Email , 116 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, The Ancient World

Olympia Threatened By Greek Fires

Artists impression of ancient Olympia

As lives are being devastated by the horrific fires in Greece, the ancient ruins of Olympia are also being threatened with destruction.

Here are some quick facts on Olympia from the BBC:

*An ancient Greek religious site dating back 10 centuries before Christ

*Home of the ancient Olympics, first held in 8th Century BC

*Was location of giant ivory and gold Statue of Zeus, one of seven wonders of the world

*Olympics continued until banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I in 394 AD

*Place where Olympic flame is still lit

Read the BBC article on the fires here.

Further Reading:

Olympia Wiki entry

Our thoughts, and prayers are with the people of Greece.

Enditall

08/25/07

Permalink 09:52:23 am, by Email , 210 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, Murder & Mayhem, History In The News

Russians Discover Remains Of Romanovs

Russian archaeologists have announced that they believe they may have found the remains of Prince Alexei, and his sister Maria who were murdered along with the rest of their family by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

Here is a snippet from the BBC:

DNA tests will be carried out on the bones, thought to be those of Prince Alexei and his elder sister Maria.

Archaeologists excavated ground close to the site in Yekaterinburg where the tsar, his wife and their three other daughters were found in 1991.

The prosecutor-general is reopening an investigation into the case.

Archaeologist Sergei Pogorelov says bullets found at the burial site indicate the children had been shot.

He told Russian television the newly unearthed bones belonged to two young people: a young male aged roughly 10-13 and a young woman about 18-23.

Ceramic vessels found nearby appear to have contained sulphuric acid, consistent with an account by one of the Bolshevik firing squad, who said that after shooting the family they doused the bodies in acid to destroy the flesh and prevent them becoming objects of veneration.

Click Here For Full BBC Article

Hopefully tests will prove their identity, and this shameful piece of Russian history can be at least somewhat righted (if that is possible) by their proper burial.

Enditall

08/24/07

Permalink 07:09:10 pm, by Email , 158 words   English (CA)
Categories: Book Reviews

Legends Lies & Cherished Myths Of World History

More often than not I find that books dealing with history are rather dull, one of the reasons why I believe more people are not interested in them.

Legends Lies & Cherished Myths Of World History, by Richard Shenkman is thankfully not amongst those dull ones, in fact it is amongst my own personal favourites because it is so much fun to read!

The author covers such diverse historic figures as the little Dutch boy, Lady Godiva, Nero, Queen Victoria, and a host of others, and literally debunks some of the long standing myths that have developed around them in a humorous way!

This book has not only given me much food for thought, but much good blog fodder as well. Definitely worth a read even for those that are just mildly interested in history, but would like to pick up some little known factoids, and become a first class history smarty-pants!

Now how cool is that! B)

Enditall

08/21/07

Permalink 01:07:34 pm, by Email , 63 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, Religion and Spirituality, The Ancient World

Wordless Wednesday - Athena Daughter of Zeus

Athena Daughter of Zeus

Photo taken at the Royal Ontario Museum, August 2007. Athena as she was worshipped on the Acropolis, especially in the festival of the Panathenaea. Athena was the protector of Athens and its Acropolis.

For further reading, wiki entry on Athena.

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

08/20/07

Permalink 12:56:51 pm, by Email , 142 words   English (CA)
Categories: European History

The Renaissance Man

Leonardo da Vinci, self-portrait in red chalk, circa 1512 to 1515

I belong to a group called Blog Talkers that inspires creative writing on a weekly basis. I post my answers to these questions on our family blog, but this week I could not help but think that my answer would be more appropriate here.

The question was: What historical time period would you most like to visit? Why?

And my answer can be read in the blog entry entitled, Going Back In Time. Basically my answer was a simple one in that I believe there is only one historical figure who could handle a visit from a time traveller, and that is da Vinci!

Now I'd like to toss this question at the readers of this blog.

If you could meet one historical figure, or visit a certain era, which would it be?

Enditall
Permalink 10:47:05 am, by Email , 239 words   English (CA)
Categories: Games & Recreation

Blackjack

Did you know that the game of blackjack has a long, and illustrious history? The game of baccarat, which appeared in Italy in the 1490's has been credited as one of the originators of today's modern blackjack game. It was considered a game of Kings, and was enjoyed by the aristocracy!

Today blackjack is a game that is available to anyone, and it continues to evolve in this online age that we live in. In fact just today I read through a press release in regards to Backgammon Masters launch of blackjack in 4-in-One game lobby.

If you are not yet familiar with Backgammon Masters they are one of the leading online communities for backgammon players on the net today, and this press release will be of great news to online gamers everywhere. This is because their online backgammon is a superior experience in both graphics, and in interactivity, and there is every reason to believe that the blackjack game will be an equally high quality experience for players!

If you would like to try out online blackjack then you are in luck because Backgammon Masters is currently hosting free tournaments in order to celebrate the launch of this latest edition to their gaming site. You may have a look by following through on any one of the links provided in this blog entry or clicking on the blackjack image above.

Thank you to the sponsor of this post!

Enditall

08/19/07

Permalink 08:56:12 pm, by Email , 253 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, History In Film & Television, African History, The Ancient World

Hollywood Does History

I often complain, to whoever will listen, as to how sad it is that most people seem to get most if not all of their notions about history, and historical figures from films.

While sometimes Hollywood does get history right, more often than not it doesn't. Take for instance the image above. Most people will immediately identify with it as Cleopatra VII and only will do so because of Hollywood.

Prior to the 20th century Cleopatra was not pictured thusly, and why is that you may wonder? It is because this is how she was presented in the two biggest films made about her. In 1934 the actress Claudette Colbert played her with this hairstyle because she herself had a fondness for it, and in the 1963 remake with Elizabeth Taylor it was copied because bangs were all the rage back then.

So what was the real Cleopatra's hairstyle like? Well, she wore a very tight curled wig over a shaved head.

Hollywood also gets it wrong when it comes to the Pharaohs. They are usually presented as clean shaven, when most wore long, braided goatee-style beard wigs, and even reigning Queens tended to wear them!

So dear reader take historical films for what they are, entertainment, and not a substitute for good historical texts.

I have a feeling that now that I've opened the Hollywood does history floodgates you'll be seeing more entries like this one in the near future. :>

Source: Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of World History By: Richard Shenkman


Image Credit

Enditall

08/17/07

Permalink 09:29:27 am, by Email , 272 words   English (CA)
Categories: Murder & Mayhem, History In The News, European History, Religion and Spirituality

Apologies For Eating Methodists

"A tribe in Papua New Guinea has apologised for killing and eating four 19th century missionaries under the command of a doughty British clergyman."

I came across an article in the Telegraph in regards to this tribe making a formal apology for an incident that had occurred in the 19th century. It certainly was a grisly event, but I have to wonder is an apology really necessary? Here is a snippet from the article:

The four Fijian missionaries were on a proselytising mission on the island of New Britain when they were massacred by Tolai tribesmen in 1878.

They were murdered on the orders of a local warrior chief, Taleli, and were then cooked and eaten.

The Fijians - a minister and three teachers - were under the leadership of the Reverend George Brown, an adventurous Wesleyan missionary who was born in Durham but spent most of his life spreading the word of God in the South Seas.

Thousands of villagers attended a reconciliation ceremony near Rabaul, the capital of East New Britain province, once notorious for the ferocity of its cannibals.

Their leaders apologised for their forefather's taste for human flesh to Fiji's high commissioner to Papua New Guinea.

Full Article Here

The article goes on further, and details the reaction, and actions of the missionaries including the burning down of tribal villages suspected in the murders. This is why I ask, was an apology necessary? Since these islands were known in that time period as Cannibal Isles was the decision to go, and preach there not a dangerous one in the first place, and therefore what occurred an "acceptable" risk?

Image Credit: Telegraph

Enditall

08/14/07

Permalink 01:10:55 pm, by Email , 72 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, Wordless Wednesday, British History

Wordless Wednesday - Caroline Queen Of England

See even back then they had tourist bric-a-brac ;)

Her Majesty, Caroline Queen of England was married to King George IV (aka Prinny) and the associated scandals surrounding her make the current royals look tame...even by modern standards!

Remind me to write an entry on both of them in the near future.

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

08/13/07

Permalink 12:40:32 pm, by Email , 123 words   English (CA)
Categories: Book Reviews

Speaking Of History Books

The girls spent the past week up at the cottage near Minden, Ontario. While there they certainly did not forget about us, and brought back gifts, which included "1867 and All The Rest Of It - A Short Thin Canadian History Book" by Geoffrey Corfield. This book promises to be a fun little romp, and is accompanied by some highly amusing illustrations!

If anything it certainly promises to be great bathroom reading (isn't that where most of us are afforded the peace to actually sit down, and read ... heck I will hide out in there at times with the purpose of reading only!) and I will do a quick write up on it when done.

If only ALL history texts could be such fun! :D

Enditall

08/10/07

Permalink 05:57:24 pm, by Email , 221 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Prehistoric

What Can The Distant Past Teach Us About Global Warming Today?

I stumbled upon a fascinating article on the Science Daily website this afternoon entitled: What We Can Learn From The Biggest Extinction In The History Of Earth

Here is a snippet:

Science Daily — Approximately 250 million years ago, vast numbers of species disappeared from Earth. This mass-extinction event may hold clues to current global carbon cycle changes, according to Jonathan Payne, assistant professor of geological and environmental sciences. Payne, a paleobiologist who joined the Stanford faculty in 2005, studies the Permian-Triassic extinction and the following 4 million years of instability in the global carbon cycle.

In the July issue of the Geological Society of America Bulletin, Payne presented evidence that a massive, rapid release of carbon may have triggered this extinction.

"People point to the fossil record as a place where we can learn about how our actions today may affect the future course of evolution," Payne said. "That's certainly true: The deep geologic record provides context for modern events.

It is quite certain that our actions today are affecting our environment not only in the here, and now, but also for generations to come. 250 million years ago there was nothing that could have been done to prevent the extinction of those species, but we can hopefully undo at least some of the damage being done by the human variety today. Food for thought. ;)

Enditall

08/09/07

Permalink 01:05:07 pm, by Email , 288 words   English (CA)
Categories: Book Reviews, The Ancient World

Book Review: Stealing History

Despite the intense heat that we have been experiencing here in Toronto over the last couple of weeks, which in turn makes my brain feel rather foggy, I did managed to finish, and enjoy Roger Atwood's "Stealing History."

If I was allowed to use only one word to describe my feelings after reading this book it would hands-down be outrage.

Mr Atwood writes a compelling expose on the world's antiquities market, and the rape of world heritage in a fast paced, thought provocative style. It is engrossing much like a good detective novel, but unnerving as you realise the smuggling of everything from ancient gold, to ceramics, and even human remains is in no way fictional, and still occurring as I type this. In fact many parallels between the antiquities market, and illicit drug trade can be found within this book.

Shortly after finishing "Stealing History," which primarily deals with the looting of the Sipan site in Peru, we visited the Royal Ontario Museum's Peruvian exhibit, which is currently running until Sept. 3rd I believe. It is on loan to the R.O.M. and for the past couple of months I had eagerly anticipated visiting it. However, in large part because of this book as I entered the gallery that houses this exhibit I started to choke up.....and yes this thought kept screaming in my head:

"How many of these pieces were looted by grave robbers?"

I highly recommend "Stealing History" Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of The Ancient World, but I will caution you gentle readers, upon completion of this book you may never be able to look at a museum exhibit the same way again .... and for that I do thank the author.

Enditall

08/07/07

Permalink 01:56:11 pm, by Email , 28 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, Museums And Historic Sites

Wordless Wednesday - Perfume Bottle

Taken at the Royal Ontario Museum, August 4th 2007.

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 12:45:19 pm, by Email , 191 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, The Ancient World

Discovery In The Desert

Alexander the Great's conquest of Asia has always fascinated me. Therefore it was with great interest that I read through a BBC article published today that's subject is concerned with an archaeology site located on an island off of Kuwait. Here is a snippet from that article:

Greek government experts are going to Failaka - a Gulf outpost of Alexander's army, now governed by Kuwait.

The island's bullet-holed buildings tell of a conflict still fresh in people's memories - Saddam Hussein's brief occupation of Kuwait in the early 1990s.

Beneath the sun-baked sands of Failaka, archaeologists hope to unearth the secrets of an earlier conquest - a settlement established by Alexander's general, Nearchus, in the 4th Century BC.

The excavations will focus on the ruins of an ancient citadel and cemetery, the general secretary of the Greek culture ministry, Christos Zahopoulos, told the BBC News website.

Earlier work by French archaeologists has uncovered the remnants of a temple to Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting, as well as several Greek coins and idols.

Full BBC Article Here

Hopefully the BBC will continue to follow this story, and publish updates on their findings.

Very interesting!

Enditall
Permalink 12:18:35 pm, by Email , 239 words   English (CA)
Categories: Science And Technology

You Know You Are A History Geek When.....

....ok, it is no surprise that I am a history geek, otherwise this very blog would not exist. However, I bet you did not know that I incorporate as much of history, particularly my own personal favourite eras into just about everything I own, and do even something as ultra modern as the cell phone ringtones I use! Now THAT is called geeking out historical style!

My cellphone screen is currently adorned with the coronation portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I, and the ringtone to go along with it is the song that is attributed to her father King Henry the Eighth - Green Sleeves. I personally question that he truly wrote it as opposed to his musicians, but I digress......

While these both are highly appropriate, and bring much amusement to myself there are many, many cell phone ringtones that are available to allow all of us to really personalise our phones. You may wish to have a look at these verizon ringback tones. They include every type of musical genre, including some of my favourite classical numbers, which they have devoted an entire category to!

While I love history, I do admit that I am quite happy to be living here in this time, and I am equally happy that I may indulge my passion for the historical in such simple measure as using a favoured tune as my cell phone ringtone.

My thanks to my sponsor.

Enditall

08/06/07

The Wisdom of The War of 1812 Through Pierre Berton... and then me...

In the re-enactment and historical communities, opinion is a little mixed as to the work of the late Canadian author, Pierre Berton, on the War of 1812 between America and Canada/Britain.

Pierre Berton

I believe the problem was that Berton didn't write a dry historical text citing every troop movement and minor scrimmage of the conflict... but went with diaries and letters and tried to show the conflict from the point of view of those involved directly. Not an easy task, and one that rarely wins praise from true historians and personal views often differ from facts.

None-the-less, I enjoyed his books thoroughly (especially the second book, Flames Across the Border and found them sound and have no issues with them whatsoever... in fact, the back of the book holds some interesting notes for people who might be unaware of the relevance and importance (or lack thereof) of this conflict...

I'm reproducing some quotes here from the book in hopes that Pierre Berton Enterprises Ltd. and Anchor Books won't be too mad... I'm hoping this VERY SMALL sampling will not be treading too heavy on copyright infringement... and I do whole-heartedly recommend ANY history "fan" buy and read these books which are excellent reads... and paint a very interesting portrait of a somewhat forgotten war...

Having won the last battle (New Orleans), the Americans were convinced they won the war of 1812. Having stemmed the tide of invasion and kept the Americans out of their country, Canadians believed that they won the war. Having ceded nothing they considered important, the British were serene in the conviction that they won it. But war is not a cricket match. The three nations that celebrated peace were beggared by the conflict, their people bereaved, their treasure emptied, their graveyards crowded. In North America, the charred houses, the untended farms, the ravaged fields along the border left a legacy of bitterness and distrust.

Events, not individuals, it is said, control the course of history. The War of 1812 suggests the opposite, Canada's destiny, for better of for worse, was in the hands of human beings, subject to human caprices, strengths, and emotions. If the ambitious Winfield Scott had waited for the army at Lundy's Lane, if the haughty Commodore Chauncey had deigned to support Jacob Brown at Fort George, could Upper Canada have held out? Tecumseh was unique. If he had not been born, would another have risen in his place?

The war helped set the two countries on different courses. National characteristics were evolving: American ebullience, Canadian reserve. The Americans went wild over minor triumphs, the Canadians remained phlegmatic over major ones. Brock was knighted for Detroit, but there were no medals struck, no ceremonial swords, banquets, or fireworks to mark Châteauguay, Crysler's Farm, Stoney Creek, or Beaver Dams. By contrast, Croghan's defence of Fort Stephenson was the signal for a paroxysm of rejoicing of rejoicing that made him an overnight hero in the United States.

American hero worship filled the Congress, the Senate, and the state legislatures with dozens of war veterans. Three soldiers, Harrison, Jackson, and Zachary Taylor - became president. But there were no Canadian Jacksons because there was no high political office to which a Canadian could aspire. The major victories were won by men from another land who did their job and went home. Brock and de Salaberry were Canada's only heroes, Laura Secord her sole heroine. And Brock was not a Canadian.

The quality of boundless enthusiasm, which convinces every American school child that the United States won the war, is not a Canadian trait. We do not venerate winners. Who remember Billy Green, John Norton, Robert Dickson, or even William Hamilton Merritt? The quintessential Canadian hero was a clergyman, not a soldier, a transplanted Scot, a supporter of entrenched values, a Tory of Tories. Dour, earnest, implacable, John Strachan acquired a reputation for courage and leadership that made him a power in Upper Canada and helped freeze its political pattern.

The war helped entrench certain words in the national lexicon and certain attitudes in the national consciousness. Three words - loyalty, security, and order - took on a Canadian connotation. Freedom, tossed about like a cricket ball by all sides, had a special meaning too: it meant freedom from the United States. Liberty was exclusively American, never used north of the border, perhaps because it was too close to libertine for the pious Canadians. Radicalism was the opposite of loyalty, democracy the opposite of order.

Loyalty meant loyalty to Britain and to British values. Long after Confederation, John A. MacDonald could bring an audience to its feet by crying: "A British subject I was born; a British subject I will die" - meaning that he would never die an American. On this curiously negative principal, uttered by the first prime minister of an emerging nation, did the seeds of nationalism sprout.

British colonial rule meant orderly government, not the democracy of the uneducated mob. The war enshrined national stereotypes: the British redcoats were seen as a regimented force, the Kentucky militia as an unmannerly horde. The pejorative was "Yankee." In the Canadian vernacular, Yankees were everything the York and Montreal elite were not: vulgar, tobacco-chewing upstarts in loud suits, who had no breeding and spoke with an offencive twang. Tiger Dunlop, the British surgeon, captured this attitude when he described how a servant told Red George MacDonald that a Yankee officer was waiting to sell him some smuggled beef. He knew he was a Yankee, he said, "for he wore his hat in the parlour and spit on the carpet." The stereotype persisted into the next century as the political cartoons of the post-war years demonstrate.

The invasion of Canada did not initiate that snobbery: it had been part of the English attitude toward the upstart colony since the days of the Revolution. But the bitterness of war made it acceptable, even desirable, in Canada.

On all this somewhat angry and negative things between two friendly nations from their long past, allow me to quote MYSELF from a post on the One Old Green Bus blog...

This was not a popular war for anyone... it was most often referred to as "Mr. Madison's War"... despite the fact that President Madison wasn't really wanting to go the "armed conflict" route either. Not helping matters were statements from Thomas Jefferson who had said that "...the conquest of Canada would be a mere matter of marching."

(Needless to say, since we're still a sovereign nation and still here, Mr. Jefferson and other's were incorrect... but that's neither here nor there...)

Anyway, to give you an idea of the hatred and seething anger that our countries had for each other...

The Atlantic states and provinces pretty much refused to war with each other.

Sure, there were the odd scrimmages and loads of piracy and whatnot, but not any outright conflict. The New England states, especially Vermont and Massachusetts, refused to send troops to "help" with the unpopular war! The Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia issued a proclamation that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would abstain from "predatory" behaviour with their neighbours and that trade would continue "without molestation"...

In fact, this went much further...

When the town of St. Stephen found out it's American counterpart of Calais did not have fireworks to celebrate the fourth of July, they obliged with a large gift... of barrels of gunpowder.

According to historical sources, trails between America and Canada through which potash, cattle, pork, and other "smuggled" goods were so well worn, it's difficult to assume that either "military" side couldn't acknowledge that the civilian population were really not at war with each other...

So, think about this for a minute...

There "we" were... at war with each other... but giving gun powder away for the opposites celebration?

After the "sacking" of York (present day Toronto,) Gen. Winfield Scott sent over a boat under a flag of truce, after the American departure from the town, with a load of books that had been taken from a library and a note of apology!

When General Brock died at the Battle of Queenston Heights, despite being an American stronghold at that point, Fort Niagara fired a ceremonial cannon to honour the British general... not in anger, but in respect.

Some may say that there are "tensions" now with Canadian/American relations... but historically, at our "toughest hours" when we were supposed to hate and loath each other, those tensions weren't there.

We were friends... comrades on the same land... fighting the same hardships as settlers and newcomers in a strange environment...

...and that war, despite it's issues, did set up the world's largest undefended border... something I think we're both proud of, despite any recent rumblings.

And today, what really separates us? Sure, there's minor issues with trade and some differences of strategic ideals, but we're pretty much the same. In fact, I think it's great that one can literally "step" from one side of a Republic to another where we still have a Monarchy... (Okay, it's a constitutional monarchy and our Prime Minister and Ottawa makes all the decisions, but we still hold the Queen to high esteem!)

Enditall

08/05/07

Permalink 12:17:10 pm, by Email , 100 words   English (CA)
Categories: Museums And Historic Sites, African History

Adventures At The R.O.M

Yesterday, Matthew, and I spent a lovely afternoon at the Royal Ontario Museum. Pictured above is the Egyptian mummy Antjau, who is thought to have been a wealthy landowner. We specifically went for the ancient Peruvian antiquities exhibition, which is currently running. However, enjoyed several of the other exhibits, and galleries as well.

No photography was allowed in the Peruvian exhibit, but no flash photography is allowed in certain areas of the museum, and over the coming weeks I will share some of the 200+ photos that we took.

It is always a pleasure to visit the R.O.M :D

Enditall
Permalink 10:45:05 am, by Email , 276 words   English (CA)
Categories: Institutions Of Higher Learning, Website Reviews

Tutoring Available Online

Have you ever thought that you might benefit from homework help? Our middle daughter who is currently in her final year of highschool, and preparing for a University education where she will eventually study law was struggling with math, and science at one point. Since we knew the need to obtain a good grade in both was imperative to her future academic studies we considered obtaining tutoring for her in both of these subjects.

The science, and math tutoring gave her that extra help she needed, especially in understanding Algebra, Calculus, Statistics, and Geometry, which can be tough subjects on a lot of students. Her tutor really came through in helping her, and we are definitely grateful for it.

If you or your child could also benefit from tutoring in subjects from K-12, and college or need help with an upcoming test Tutor Vista offers world class online tutoring. Having an online tutor allows you the ability, and convenience of learning from your own home. It is an innovative concept that's time has definitely come.

Tutor Vista offers help in all of the subjects listed above as well as English: Reading Comprehension, Writing, and Grammar.

They even support advanced help with our own area of study, and research, which is history as our regular readers are well aware.

I cannot recommend Tutor Vista more highly, and I am not alone in my thinking as they have received wonderful feedback from both the BBC, and the USA's NBC Today Show. You can have a look at all of their subjects, and obtain further information by clicking on one of the links provided for you within this entry.

Enditall

08/02/07

Permalink 01:52:35 pm, by Email , 79 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Americana, Heroic Women, Who Am I

Who Am I

Harriet Tubman Davis

After escaping slavery in 1849, I became one of the most successful conductors of the Underground Railroad of all time. I led more than 300 hundred slaves to freedom.

During the American Civil War I was a friend of leading abolitionists, and worked as a laundress, nurse, and spy for the Union forces.

According to the 1994 book The Black 100 by Columbus Salley I am the most important black woman in US history.

Who Am I?

For the answer, please click here.

Enditall

07/31/07

Permalink 01:48:57 pm, by Email , 94 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, Wordless Wednesday, Religion and Spirituality, Asian History

Wordless Wednesday - Longmen Grottoes

"Tourists gather to admire the Longmen Grottoes Buddhist sculptures, one of China's Unesco World Heritage sites, in Luoyang, central China."

I would dearly love to see these, and photograph them in person one day. It is wonderful to know that Unesco has taken such an active interest in preservation of these sites, and that they will be open to the public to admire, and learn from for future generations to come.

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Image Source: BBC

Enditall

07/29/07

Permalink 12:07:20 pm, by Email , 124 words   English (CA)
Categories: British History

The Beefsteak Club

At one time "The Beefsteak Club" an exclusive, elitist, gentlemen's group that's members included the movers, and shakers of Great Britain was raided by police due to the decrepit condition of the exterior of the building where at the time they met.

Police thought they were busting a den of criminals and were not amused when members announced they were "The Lord Chancellor," Governor of the Bank of England," and the "Archbishop of Canterbury."

The police interrogator at the time was very cynical, and was certain this was nothing more than a gathering of rogues. He asked sarcastically of a fourth, " And I suppose YOU are the Prime Minister.

"As a matter of fact...I am," replied Arthur Balfour ... then Prime Minister of England.

Enditall

07/26/07

Permalink 09:06:10 pm, by Email , 119 words   English (CA)
Categories: British History

Taste Test?



John Colet January 1467 – September 10, 1519

St Paul's Cathedral was devastated after the great fire of 1666. The coffins that had been interred there had to be inspected, including that of the great 16th century humanist scholar John Colet.

John Aubrey is quoted below in regards to what they found:

"After the conflagration, his monument being broken, his coffin, which was lead, was full of liquor which conserved the body. Mr. Wyld and Mr. Greatorex tasted it, and 'twas of a kind of insipid taste, something of an ironish taste. The body felt, to the probe of a stick which they thrust into a chinke, like brawne."

What more can I add, but ... ew!

Source: Let Them Eat Cake, By Geoffrey Regan

Enditall
Permalink 10:54:35 am, by Email , 341 words   English (CA)
Categories: Health And Sciences, Book Reviews

Free Online Biology Textbook

I was just reading through the following press release, which details the launch of a Free Biology Book. The book is written up in 1800 + questions, and answers, and yes is available in its entirety online.

I find this to be a bold, and innovative concept, and quite frankly welcomed in my opinion. I hope to see more textbooks made available to everyone who has an avid interest in the subject matters that are being presented.

Read on:

Authors Publish Innovative Biology Textbook Online and For Free

Biology teachers and students worldwide can now use a complete and real (ISBN assigned) Biology textbook published online by the authors. All of the 636 pages of the book is online.

The “Free Biology Book” (www.freebiologybook.com) is a full Biology textbook encompassing all Biology subjects for secondary education: Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Zoology, Physiology, Embryology, Botanics, Genetics, Evolution, Ecology and Diseases. Each of such Biology subjects is divided in several and well-organized chapters.

The main attraction of the online book is the way the content is exposed, each chapter made of a logical sequence of questions and answers. From the beginning to the end of the Q&A sequence, the text goes from introductory issues to deeper explanation of the chapter topic. It is then very easy to learn Biology reading the “Free Biology Book” (www.freebiologybook.com) since the knowledge is built question by question in small blocks of content.

Another innovation of the project is that it does not directly show illustrations. Instead, for each chapter the reader is suggested to click on links that open Google Images pages that show lots of pictures about what is being studied.

The intention of the authors, both are medical doctors, that published their real book online and for free is to allow students and teachers throughout the world to have access to a complete online Biology book. Students can use it at home or school and teachers can even take it as guideline to build their Biology courses.

Our thanks to our sponsor.

Enditall
Permalink 12:58:59 am, by Email , 120 words   English (CA)
Categories: Murder & Mayhem

Of Gallows & Drunken Mobs

During the 18th century public executions were often attended by drunken mobs, hey even the hangman would usually imbibe in a pint or two.

In 1738 at one such public execution the hangman who was quite thoroughly intoxicated was convinced that he was supposed to hang three men, and was none too happy when he was presented with only two. As a result of what had been a clerical error he attempted to hang the preacher who had been given the task of attending the two condemned prisoners.

It was with great difficulty that he was prevented from hanging the third man as well!

We apologise if this entry has left you breathless.

Source: Let Them Eat Cake, By Geoffrey Regan

Enditall

07/24/07

Permalink 02:05:12 pm, by Email , 71 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, Asian History

Wordless Wednesday - Mysterious Lady

I was out photo hunting last Saturday when I came across this lovely statuette. I snapped a couple of pics despite having no idea who she might be or what she may represent, and decided I would share her with you. I love this type of statuary. She appears so peaceful.

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 02:02:27 pm, by Email , 161 words   English (CA)
Categories: Science And Technology, Games & Recreation

Birding or Bird Watching

My mother is an avid bird watcher. She is not an Ornithologist, but someone who dearly enjoys observing birds in their natural habitat. My mother's preference is Leica binoculars, which you may have a look at via the link I have added. These particular optical devices as you can see are designed for those who seriously love this hobby, and the prices quoted on the page are very good.

Bird watching is not new, in fact bird watching clubs have been around in both Britain, and the USA for well over a century. Anacortes Telescope & Wild Bird provide optical devices to enthusiasts with capabilities that those in the past would not have dreamed of. And as stated above their pricing is highly competitive. If you are a bird watcher as well it is worthwhile to pay their fine site a visit, and have a look at the various telescopes, spotting scopes, and binoculars being offered.

Thank you to my sponsor.

Enditall
Permalink 11:20:52 am, by Email , 71 words   English (CA)
Categories: Religion and Spirituality, Museums And Historic Sites

Trinity Chapel Toronto Ontario

The image above is only one of several we took at Trinity Chapel over this past weekend. It is a stark, yet hauntingly beautiful, sacred place. Each time I visit I find the experience to be almost magical, and I do encourage all those who may have the opportunity to spend some time there.

The history behind Trinity Chapel, and further information on visiting may be obtained by checking their website.

Enditall
Permalink 09:08:08 am, by Email , 211 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, Museums And Historic Sites

History In Photographs

This past weekend we spent the greater part of Saturday at the University of Toronto. The older buildings there offer some great photographic opportunities, and it is a sought after choice for outdoor wedding photography. We certainly took advantage of this beautiful historic site with our own digital cameras, and took several shots of both the exterior, and interiors of Trinity College, and Trinity Chapel. Some of these photos will be displayed right here on the blog, and watch out for a special one that was taken, and will be featured here for this week's Wordless Wednesday.

One of my personal goals for this blog is to use my own digital camera at museums, and sites of historic importance to enhance the articles, and items written about here.

Currently I own a Samsung Digimax, but I would love to upgrade to a Canon Rebel in the near future. Digital photography has made the process of taking good quality pics so much easier in my opinion, and therefore I would like to bring you the reader a much more complete experience of the places I visit than mere words alone.

So keep your eyes peeled to Pastyme for more photos to accompany the articles that I write.

Thank you to my sponsor.

Enditall

07/23/07

Permalink 02:05:39 pm, by Email , 74 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Arts And Culture, Who Am I

Who Am I?

I was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times. I was one of the most popular poets in the 20th century. President John F. Kennedy even asked me to recite one of my poems at his inauguration.

I lived in England for a few years, but my home was in New Hampshire, USA. The people and landscape of New England inspired my poetry.

Who Am I?

The answer is in the comments section.

Enditall

07/20/07

Permalink 12:35:25 am, by Email , 66 words   English (CA)
Categories: Loons Throughout History, British History, Period Clothing & Uniforms

Beau Brummell - the Original Fashionista



Beau Brummell - June 7, 1778 - March 30, 1840

Beau Brummell who ruled the conventions of British society in the 1800s would spend an entire day dressing for a royal ball.

So obsessed was he with couture that he hired three people to fashion his gloves alone: one would work on the palms, another on the fingers, and a third worked on the thumb!

Source: They Did What? By Bob Fenster

Enditall

07/19/07

Permalink 12:59:24 am, by Email , 187 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, British History

Lost Village In The Lake

The BBC is reporting that a team of divers have discovered the remains of a lost village under a lake in Wiltshire UK. The village only told of in legends until now was apparently sacrificed in order to put the lake in 250 years ago. Here is a snippet:

A team of divers who set out to solve the mystery of the drowned village of Bowood in Wiltshire has found the remains of buildings under a lake.

The lake at Bowood House was created 250 years ago by 'Capability' Brown when legend has it a village was sacrificed to make way for the design.

Diver Jon Dodsworth, 28, said old maps showed a community called Manning's Hill where the lake now stands.

The team discovered stone walls and the remains of two cottages under the lake.

A document entitled Wiltshire Community History mentions Manning's Hill as one of several communities which existed near Bowood in the 18th Century.

It continues: "The entrance to the park at Manning's Hill was drowned by the lake."

Full BBC Article Here

How cool is that! I am so there with my swim fins on!

Enditall

07/18/07

Permalink 01:32:02 pm, by Email , 34 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, Central & South American History

Wordless Wednesday - Ancient Monuments

Source: Views of ancient monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yvcatan. London, F. Catherwood, 1844.

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

07/17/07

Permalink 12:03:18 am, by Email , 160 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, British History

The Cerne Abbas Giant Vs Homer Simpson

I admit it. I admit when I first saw the image above I chuckled. According to a BBC report Homer Simpson's image was placed beside that of the Cerne Abbas Giant (thought to be thousands of years old) as a publicity stunt for the new Simpsons movie. However, this has upset local pagans, and I do sympathise with how they must feel.

Here is a snippet:

Pagans have pledged to perform "rain magic" to wash away a cartoon character painted next to their famous fertility symbol - the Cerne Abbas giant.

A doughnut-brandishing Homer Simpson now adorns the hillside above Cerne Abbas, Dorset, next to the giant.

The ancient chalk outline of the naked, sexually aroused, club-wielding giant is believed by many to be a symbol of ancient spirituality.

Many couples also believe the 180ft carving aids fertility.

Full BBC Article Here

What next Homer on the Great Wall of China, tagged on the side of an ancient pyramid....not likely.....

Enditall

07/16/07

Permalink 11:54:32 am, by Email , 253 words   English (CA)
Categories: Museums And Historic Sites, The Ancient World

The Threat to World Heritage in Iraq

I spent most of this past weekend reading the book that I mentioned in my last blog entry. The book is called "Stealing History" Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of The Ancient World, by author Roger Atwood, and its content is very disturbing to those that value history.

I had been aware of the looting that had occurred of Iraq's National Museum in Baghdad, when the US, and Britain invaded, but I was not so keenly aware prior to reading this book as to how much has been lost to the world by the systematic destruction of sites of great archaeological importance by "tomb raiders."

My opinion is that these precious antiquities must be housed in a public museum where they are available to all, yet properly cared for, and maintained for generations to come. More importantly they should only end up in a museum's collection after the site from where they originate has been properly investigated, and documented by a qualified archaeological team.

I do not place blame for the loss of these sites on the looters themselves who are most likely attempting to feed their families in a war zone, but on those rich, private collectors who have created the demand for these ancient world artefacts.

These items are now meaningless as we have lost the opportunity to study the history behind them. They are a trinket to their buyer, and nothing more. And that is wholly depressing to anyone who cares about history.

Another reason to hate these wars.......

Enditall

07/14/07

Permalink 09:14:37 am, by Email , 329 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Book Reviews, Museums And Historic Sites, The Ancient World

Who Is That Mummy?

This mummy is believed to be the body of Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt in the 15th century B.C.

The identity of all of Egypt's royal mummies is now in question since scientists found one was wrongly identified as a Pharaoh. Here is a snippet from an article on CNN:

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said on Thursday he would use computed tomography, or CT, scanning and DNA to test more than 40 royal mummies at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

In June, the mummy long thought to have been King Tuthmosis I was found to be a young man who died from an arrow wound, Hawass said. History showed Tuthmosis I died in his 60s.

"I am now questioning all the mummies," he told Reuters in an interview. "We have to check them all again.

"The new technology now will reconfirm or identify anything for us."

The Egyptian Museum has had CT scanning equipment for just two years and its first DNA laboratory was installed in April.

The CT scan allows the mummies to be virtually "unwrapped" without damaging them. Teenage Pharaoh Tutankhamun was one of the first mummies to be examined with the technology in 2005.

Hawass said only the identity of the mummy of Tutankhamun was certain because he was discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922 still in a sealed coffin in his tomb.

Many royal mummies were taken from their tombs and hidden elsewhere -- sometimes in other tombs or in temples -- to protect them from desecration and looting hundreds of years after their deaths.

Full CNN Article Here

Speaking of ancient history, and tombs I am currently reading....

...."Stealing History" Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of The Ancient World, by author Roger Atwood, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. While it is highly fascinating it so far has proven to be quite sad, particularly the looting of ancient Iraqi sites since 2003. More on that later....

Enditall

07/12/07

**Shocking! Matthew Blogs about a Bus!**

Yeah, I know... you're blown away with strangeness that I, Matthew, the INFAMOUS "Double-Decker Bus Guy" would blog about a bus...

From the Imperial War Museum
Picture credit to The Imperial War Museum

Meet "Old Bill". A London "B" Type bus that was used for the war effort for England... in fact, "Old Bill" was not simply an advertiser or the like... "Old Bill" was near the front line of battle!

London Transport (or London General as it was known back then,) saw a need for transporting troops during the "Great War" of 1914 through 1918 and heeded the call.

Not only did drivers enlist, but three-hundred "B" type buses and three-hundred and thirty-three drivers went to the lines to shuttle soldiers back and forth in the style and grace of old London town.

In fact, the first of these buses were delivered with their red and white livery, ads, and destination boards still attached! (This of course changed over time...)

At a tip-top speed of a whopping twenty-miles per hour, "Old Bill" could carry twenty-five equipped soldiers to their destination.

Soldier boarding Old Bill...

According to London Transport's Museum website...

The most famous bus of the First World War was a B-type called 'Old Bill', which saw action in the Somme, Antwerp, the Ancre, Amiens and Ypres. One driver single-handedly captured 12 German troops near Armentires and drove back to his army camp with them on the top deck.

Old Bill at the Front

Yup, "Old Bill" was a true trooper.

I can't help but wonder two things... first of all if seeing an old London bus was a morale boost to the troops considering the horrors of WWI trench warfare... and if they loathed travelling on them again after the war?

From written accounts I found, "Old Bill" was well loved... and the troops did get a kick out of their transport from home.

Sadly, the work is never done for an old warrior like "Old Bill"...

Old Bill at a funeral

"Old Bill", the one at the top, is now a resting safely in The Imperial War Museum... (note the side destination panels...) This is one old soldier that hasn't faded away... and hopefully won't. A wonderful machine and a wonderful (and a little tragic) history.

Artist Unknown
Old Bill delivering men to the front - Artist Unknown

Thanks to the London Transport Museum, The Imperial War Museum, and the Bruce Bairnsfather and Old Bill Dugout Website for information and images...

To the Bruce Bairnsfather and Old Bill Dugout Website folks, if you see this, I tried to e-mail you, but my mail "bounced" back. If there is any issue with the images or information used, please contact me via my personal blog... link below...


If you like old buses, please stop by my "personal" blog and the family "dream" blog, One Old Green Bus

Enditall

07/11/07

Permalink 05:14:19 pm, by Email , 246 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture

The Nutcracker Ballet



The Nutcracker St. Petersburg, Russia 1892

The nutcracker ballet is a fairytale with a long standing history, and tradition of absolutely delighting its audiences of all ages. I will admit to you now that it is indeed my favourite ballet, and brings back warm childhood memories of seeing it with my Mother in what was perhaps the most magical point within my own life. And seeing the nutcracker is a family tradition that I too have passed along to my own children.

Composed by Tchaikovsky, the nutcraker was first performed on December 18, 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Russia. It wasn't until the 1930's that the ballet was seen performed outside of Russia, and still later in the 1940's that it was first seen in the United States.

Now American audiences have the opportunity to see the nutcracker ballet as presented, and performed by the great Moscow Ballet! And I encourage you, if you have not seen it or have never seen any ballet performed on stage before, you should treat yourself, and perhaps someone you love to tickets. You will be enchanted! This I can promise you!

Further information on tickets, dates, and prices throughout the USA may be obtained by clicking on the link Nutcracker.com, which also has an online gift store to look through.

It is wonderful to know that this magical ballet is still gaining in popularity, and will delight audience members for years to come.

My thanks to my sponsor.

Enditall

07/10/07

Permalink 01:01:59 pm, by Email , 146 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, Museums And Historic Sites, Period Clothing & Uniforms

Wordless Wednesday - Shoes

Stunning pair of 18th century shoes! Here is a snippet from The Bata Shoe Museum here in Toronto where they, and others like them are on display. If you LOVE shoes, you must visit this museum!

"Artifact: Yellow silk shoes with buckles, French, c.1760s.

Information: Like pieces of jewellery, buckles were valued accessories worn on varying pairs of shoes to complement different outfits. The most expensive were made of sterling silver set with diamonds, but most were embellished with glittering paste or rhinestones. The buckles on this pair of yellow silk shoes are typical of the preference for flowers and bows even on jewellery during the age of Rococo."

Owner: The Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto
Photo Credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto.
Photo: Hal Roth


Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 09:39:08 am, by Email , 244 words   English (CA)
Categories: Games & Recreation

Poker With No Rake

The history of poker is highly disputed to this day, but it is fair to say that it's origins lie in card games played during the European Renaissance, and poker games have been noted to have been played from the early 1800s in New Orleans, USA.

Today the game of poker has come a long way, particularly now that the premier backgammon online website, and community Backgammonmasters.com has added poker to it's line up of great internet games.

The history of backgammon itself is very old, with records indicating that the ancient Egyptians played a game called senet which closely resembles modern backgammon, but I now digress....

Getting back to the focus of this post which is online poker Backgammonmasters.com has introduced their game with the fantastic opportunity of real money game play for no rake, this means that the house will take no commission.

For those who may wish to hone their poker playing skills without risk of losing any money, they also provide fun mode games.

Backgammonmasters.com has been positively noted in the press for it's high standards, exceptional graphics, friendly gaming community, large payout competitions, and their recent charitable works.

This is definitely a wonderful opportunity for online game players, and reason to say when it comes to poker games, wow, we certainly have come a long way since the old card rooms in southern Louisiana at the turn of the 19th century.

Thank you to the sponsor.

Enditall

07/08/07

Permalink 04:51:36 pm, by Email , 513 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, British History

Marie Lloyd - Queen of The Music Hall

Marie Lloyd - February 12th 1870 – October 7th 1922

Marie Lloyd was born Matilda Alice Victoria Wood in Hoxton, London, England. Her father described by historians as a very likeable man worked at one time for Royal Eagle Tavern, which is where Marie first got a taste of music, and performing.

With her sisters, Marie formed a singing group called the Fairy Bells Minstrels, and their mother designed costumes for them. They would perform temperance songs in local missions and church halls.

It was during her teen years that Matilda changed her name to Marie, and soon after began to see major success as a music hall performer. Her performances were considered racy by many within her generation, but in fact would be quite tame by today's standards. She was a brilliant comedienne, singer, and performer who would engage her audience, and therefore built a strong, adoring fan base.

However, there were those who attempted to shut her down particularly groups known as Vigilance or "Watch" committees. They stated her songs were immoral, yet when she sung them straight without the benefit of well placed smiles, and winks they sounded very harmless, and she loved pointing out that any "immorality was in the minds of the complainants!"

During a visit to America she found that her rather racy reputation was already well known in the States. In an interview with the New York Telegraph she stated, "They don't pay their sixpences and shillings at a music hall to hear the Salvation Army. If I was to try to sing highly moral songs, they would fire ginger beer bottles and beer mugs at me. I can't help it if people want to turn and twist my meanings."

Marie was famous in her day that is of no doubt. She was paid very well for her performances yet still walked the picket lines during a 1907 strike by other performers who were ill-treated. Here is another quote in regards: "We (the stars) can dictate our own terms. We are fighting not for ourselves , but for the poorer members of the profession, earning thirty shillings to £3 a week. For this they have to do double turns, and now matinees have been added as well. These poor things have been compelled to submit to unfair terms of employment, and I mean to back up the federation in whatever steps are taken."

She also performed for free for the returning veterans of WWI.

Marie passed away in October 1922 just three days after giving what was to be her final performance. She was so beloved that over one hundred thousand people attended her funeral, and a theatrical newspaper, The Era proclaimed the cortège a "Royal Progress."

This entry is for Khlari who I wish to thank for introducing me to Marie, a woman who in life I would have admired, and who in history I have greatly enjoyed learning about!

Sources & Further Reading:

The English Music Hall - Fantastic write-up, and several images.

Marie Lloyd - Wiki entry

East London History - Newspaper Article

Miss Marie Lloyd - Queen of the Music Hall
- BBC special

Enditall

07/06/07

Permalink 10:43:24 am, by Email , 128 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Who Am I, Historical Recipes

Who Am I

Who Am I? In the year 1896 I published a cookbook. My cookbook was very successful, and was found in homes all across America. My book introduced standardised measurements to recipes, making it easy for anyone to duplicate my tasty dishes. I think this was one reason that it become so popular.

With the success of the cookbook I managed to open my very own cooking school. And from there I became very interested in food as medicine. I worked hard on devising special diets for people who were recovering from various illnesses. I even taught at Harvard Medical School for one year!

My cookbook is still popular today.

Who Am I?

The answer as always to this week's Who Am I? can be found in the comments section.

Enditall

07/03/07

Permalink 01:02:51 pm, by Email , 84 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - Independance Day

Wishing our American readers a very happy, and safe Independence Day! It is a little known fact that during the War of 1812 Canadian citizens feeling terrible at the knowledge that an American town had lost all of it's fireworks for Fourth of July celebrations did ship over some explosives for their American brothers to use. Despite being in the middle of a conflict!

Happy Wordless Wednesday everyone, and thank you for stopping by!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 10:05:30 am, by Email , 295 words   English (CA)
Categories: Science And Technology, Website Reviews

How Secure Are You?

Normally when we discuss security, and security related issues on this particular blog we are thinking about castles, forts, and other fortified structures. However, today we shall return to the 21st century for a brief period of time to talk about security related issues as they concern the very mode by which you have found yourselves reading this blog entry ...the internet.

I had the opportunity to take this Security Quiz earlier this very morning, and it was a bit of an eye opener for me.

Firstly let me tell you that this quiz was designed by Agnitum, which is a company that's expertise is within internet security. According to their stats hackers should very much be a concern of all internet users with computers that have online access being attacked every 39 seconds!

The Security Quiz is very easy to take, and straightforward. It only takes a few minutes of your time to test out your knowledge on internet security issues.

After starting out with the first couple of questions I thought to myself this is going to be very easy, and I will ace this quiz with no problem. I was definitely wrong! Halfway through the quiz I started to realise I'm not as internet security savvy as I thought I had been.

My final score was 11 out of 30.

"You’re headed in the right direction, but your knowledge needs straightening out a bit."

Apparently my score makes me a warlock! And that is kinda cool!

Like I said above, a bit of an eye opener to say the least! And definitely cause to think about better ways to fortify the home PC!

So how secure are you, and how well do you think you'll do on this quiz?

Our thanks to our sponsor!

Enditall

07/02/07

Permalink 12:21:12 am, by Email , 209 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Asian History

Mysterious Chamber Found In Chinese Imperial Tomb



Famed Terracotta Warriors

A very exciting discovery was made within the Chinese Imperial Tomb reports the BBC. Here is a snippet:

A mysterious underground chamber has been found inside the Chinese imperial tomb guarded by the famous Terracotta Army, Chinese archaeologists say.

Historical records describing the tomb of Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of China's Qin dynasty, do not mention the room which is 30 metres (98 feet) deep.

The unopened chamber was found at the site near the old imperial capital of Xian using remote sensing technology.

One expert says it may have been built for the soul of the emperor.

More than 2,000 years old, the chamber is buried inside a pyramidal earth mound 51m (170 feet) high on top of Qin's tomb.

It is situated near the life-size terracotta warriors and has four stair-like walls, says Duan Qingbo, a researcher with the Shaanxi Institute of Archaeology.

The Chinese authorities have not given permission to excavate the site.

Full BBC Article Here

It really is a shame that the site will not be excavated, at least for the time being, in my opinion. Discoveries like this are rare, and of course very exciting! I'm certain archaeologists, and historians are just itching to find out what secrets the ancient chamber may contain!

Enditall

07/01/07

Permalink 12:46:23 am, by Email , 591 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Holidays And Traditions

Happy Canada Day!

Today is Canada's 140th birthday! The following is a history behind our distinctive red, white, and maple leaf flag........

The History Of The Canadian Flag

The search for a new Canadian flag started in earnest in 1925 when a committee of the Privy Council began to research possible designs for a national flag. However, the work of the committee was never completed.

Later, in 1946, a select parliamentary committee was appointed with a similar mandate, called for submissions and received more than 2,600 designs. Still, the Parliament of Canada was never called upon to formally vote on a design.

Early in 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson informed the House of Commons that the government wished to adopt a distinctive national flag. The 1967 centennial celebration of Confederation was, after all, approaching. As a result, a Senate and House of Commons Committee was formed and submissions were called for once again.

In October 1964, after eliminating various proposals, the committee was left with three possible designs -- a Red Ensign with the fleur-de-lis and the Union Jack, a design incorporating three red maple leaves, and a red flag with a single, stylized red maple leaf on a white square. (Pearson himself preferred a design with three red maple leaves between two blue borders.)

Two heraldry experts, who both favoured a three-leaf design, played a decisive role in the choice of our flag: Alan Beddoe, a retired naval captain and heraldic adviser to the Royal Canadian Navy, and Colonel Fortescue Duguid, a heraldist and historian.

The names of Mr. John Matheson and Dr. George Stanley are well known in the story of the evolution of a new Canadian flag. Mr. Matheson, a Member of Parliament from Ontario, was perhaps one of the strongest supporters of a new flag and played a key advisory role. Dr. Stanley was Dean of Arts at the Royal Military College in Kingston, and brought to the attention of the committee the fact that the Commandant's flag at the College -- an emblem, i.e. a mailed fist, on a red and white ground -- was impressive.

Dr. Stanley's design is based on a strong sense of Canadian history. The combination of red, white and red first appeared in the General Service Medal issued by Queen Victoria. Red and white were subsequently proclaimed Canada's national colours by King George V in 1921. Three years earlier, Major General (later the Honourable) Sir Eugene Fiset had recommended that Canada's emblem be the single red maple leaf on a white field - the device worn by all Canadian Olympic athletes since 1904.

The committee eventually decided to recommend the single-leaf design, which was approved by resolution of the House of Commons on December 15, 1964, followed by the Senate on December 17, 1964, and proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, to take effect on February 15, 1965.

In due course the final design of the stylized maple leaf was established by Mr. Jacques St-Cyr, the precise dimensions of red and white were suggested by Mr. George Best, and the technical description of precise shade of red defined by Dr. Gunter Wyszchi.

The national flag of Canada, then, came into being, credit to those eminent Canadians: the Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson, who wanted a distinctive national flag as a vehicle to promote national unity; John Matheson, who established the conceptual framework for a suitable flag, then sought out and combined the appropriate components to create it; and Dr. George Stanley, who provided the seminal concept - the central concepts of red-white-red stripes with a central maple leaf - in this process.

Source: Canadian Heritage

Happy Birthday Canada!

Enditall

06/30/07

Permalink 12:02:15 am, by Email , 85 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, British History

Earlier this past week London's famed Christie's auctioneers put a collection of rare letters up for auction. These included missives from some of Britain's major historical figures such as Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth I and Oliver Cromwell. While I personally believe that letters such as these belong in a museum for the public to enjoy, and learn from, I do admit that I would love to have anything that at one time belonged to Her Majesty, Elizabeth I or simply her signature.

Image Credit: BBC

Enditall

06/28/07

This could ALMOST go on the Paranormal Blog...

Cemeteries are ever so haunted! They must be! Everyone knows this, right?

Sue and I are fairly decent paranormal investigators and researchers (so we're told,) and as such, I can tell you this is absolutely, positively...

Hogwash.

Here's the challenge to those who disagree... Go to your local bookstore or library and pick up any three different "true ghost story" books... Now, count the stories and do a ratio... Cemeteries to "Other Places".

See something interesting?

Now, I hope you weren't cute and picked up "Haunted Cemeteries" for this challenge... even though it's author said some VERY flattering things about your's truly... it will skew the data incorrectly... it's like asking for the same "challenge" and picking up "Haunted Ships"... it would seem, based on a basic test like this, that every vessel in the water is haunted!

ANYWAY, as you can see, "ghosts" are reported where the person they represent lived, played, worked, visited, or died... not where they are interred.

Statistically, this is borne out without question.

So, why are cemeteries THOUGHT to be so haunted?

Well, I have four answers for you... and three are based in history and folklore... and one in human instinct... and none have to do with visitations from the beyond, I'm afraid...

The first one, and the easiest to spot, is the "Ancient Curse" deal... We've all heard about them... The Pharaohs Curse! The curse of the mummy!

Do you know what most historians feel is the reason for these curses?

BECAUSE THEY'RE TRUE!!!!

Um, no...

It was to keep grave robbers out.

The thought (and it's a good one,) is that if the grave robbers, usually being "low born" and "ill educated" broke into a tomb, saw the "curse", they would flee and the occupants spared having their valuables so needed to get through the afterlife left unmolested.

Oh, and about the "curse" of King Tut? Click here...

That other mummy? Click here...

Anyway, it's a relative accepted fact that, indeed, the curses were put in place to "scare away" the superstitious.

The second one has to deal with a major taboo... which was witchcraft... and I don't mean the Frank Sinatra song...

Actually, it was the "art" of Necromancy to be exact.

There was a general "idea" that talking to the dead would illuminate the future... that using magic to "raise the dead from their sleep" would be a good idea to get a hot tip for the stock market...

The ancient Greeks were big on it, but it had a "resurgence" in Europe during the middle-ages when everyone was dabbling in weird things because it was the ultimate taboo... I mean, go off to the graveyard, draw a pentacle, try to get your dearly departed buddy Oscar to chat and you could genuinely be accused of all sorts of nasty things and off to a stake to be cleansed by fire!

Yup, it was witchcraft!

Oh, and before I get a slurry of comments telling me how awful it is to equate "witch" and this type of weird "hocus-pocus"... I know... I'm a student (not a practitioner) of Wicca... but we aren't talking about an enlightened age here! This is back when having a mole between one's breasts was considered a "third nipple with which to suckle Satan" and a guaranteed trip to the gallows at least!

Anyway, with this warning... it tended to set up TWO thoughts with people...

#1: Being in a graveyard at night could cause you to bump into these whacky and evil practitioners of the devil's arts and possibly a dead guy to boot! Best to stay away!

#2: Being in a graveyard at night we could be MISTAKEN for one of these whacky and evil practitioners and I don't look good in shackles while being tortured! Best to stay away!

Either way, it fed a fear.

The third one, and the last historical one... and the one that has probably led to most of the "modern" thoughts on ghosts in cemeteries comes from England and North America... and a little problem they had from the 1600's through the 1800's...

Before getting into it, you should know that the British people use their ghosts and have used them for convenience sake for centuries, according to Peter Underwood... and I'd agree.

Let's say you made a brisk living smuggling... but you needed people to stay away from the cellar of your home or maybe even a cave...

Well, the "gentry" won't be heading their, so it's the "peasants" and townsfolk you need to concern yourself with... what to do, what to do...

I know! Take a page from the ancient Egyptians... sorta...

Don't go down THERE... that's where the GHOST is and I seen 'im!"

Also, in England, there was a time where practising Catholic rites could get a person killed... or worse, make them a social pariah and take away all their wealth! This led to many "fine homes" having what is called a "Pope-Hole".

This was a "secret place" for a priest who was delivering sacraments to hide in lest they be discovered...

Again, who was your concern in turning you in? The servants...

How to keep them away?

"Did you hear that? It was THE GHOST! Not a priest in a hiding-space under the floor, but a GHOST!"

"What? You saw a mysterious cloaked man running into the kitchen??? I didn't see anything! He vanished??? YOU SAW A GHOST!"

Clever, eh? It would scare 'em into not wanting to investigate further... and it worked more often than you know...

Interestingly enough, Underwood surmises that many English ghost stories seemed to "start" during this time in history... and REMAIN TODAY including modern sightings of what was reported "way back when".

Are the priests haunting? Maybe the smuggler? Perhaps... or is the power of suggestion over long centuries playing a part...?

WELCOME TO MY POINT! (Read: Meanwhile, back on topic...)

Traditional Christian dogma has a resurrection planned... a day that all the dead rise for final judgement before *POOF!* we're all gone.

Now, back-in-the-day, this meant you wanted to look and be your best to meet your maker... and in one piece.

Sure, some "grave robbers" went after your jewellery perhaps... but the real fear was something far more insidious... STUDENTS!

You see, with this fear, one has to wonder where an anatomy student studying medical arts would get a cadaver for dissection? Almost no one wanted to be caught in jars or with limbs scattered when God came a callin'... so no one donated themselves to science!

Answer: GRAVE ROBBERS!

Sounds bad, doesn't it... in some ways, it was.

Basically, the student (school or professor) would "hire" some ne'er do wells to run over to the cemetery, dig up fresh corpse et voila! One specimen!

Of course, this REALLY didn't go over to well with the relatives, so they had to "mask" themselves... They go in the dark, do the best job without leaving evidence... and collect the fee from the school.

This was so bad that in 1752, British Parliament had a plan... they would hand over all executed criminals to the anatomists! This had TWO bonuses... it put a stop to grave robbing and it was a double-whammy for the condemned! You're going to be killed for your crime... and then God's gonna have to get model glue for you come judgement day!

A decent deterrent and a decent idea... save two problems...

First of all, who wanted to be dissected NOW!?! I mean, if you WERE toying with the idea and you were of decent stature, who'd want to be treated like a common criminal when post-mortem!?!

Second of all, supply was not meeting demand... and the trade continued.

The ne'er do wells ended up becoming a profession... they referred to themselves as "Resurrectionists"... other's called them "Sack 'Em Up Men"... grave robbery was done by the lowest, but their trade ended up dealing with the educated elite!

Sure, there was "booty"... if a corpse had nice jewellery or even gold teeth, BONUS!

...but these guys, like most men, only wanted you for your body.

That's where the REAL coin was! Doctors paid top-dollar for a fresh one!

They became adept at their jobs... digging a small hole deep at the head of the grave near the stone, breaking open the casket, dragging the corpse out, and filling in the hole... no one was the "wiser"...

...save several accounts of anatomy students "recognising" their cadaver.

...oh, and some "anatomy lessons" were open to the public... this led to much issues with the doctors.

(Here's the ghost part...)

To keep "witnesses" away, MANY resurrectionists pretended to be GHOSTS playing on the old fears of the cemetery at night... it was also done vice-versa... there are documented cases of "cemetery ghosts" being "created" to dissuade would-be sack 'em up men from entering the "haunted domain"... yup, it's the Pope-Hole and Smuggler's Cave ghosts in a cemetery!

...anyway, I should tell you what happened to stop this... sorta...

Thanks to the supply and demand... the "Sack 'Em Up Men" made their money... and the doctors sometimes were in big trouble... but studies HAD to carry on.

Parliament had another brilliant plan... what about the poor! They could use the "John Doe" cases and those who died in the poor house for the students!

This idea floated like a concrete Zeppelin.

This was a more "enlightened" age... and people were aghast that the "poor" were now going to be treated, in death, like CRIMINALS!?! POVERTY IS A CRIME!?!

Considering the amount of "well to do" folks that, through bad moves and whatnot, ended up in the margins of society, many feared that a stroke of a lawyers pen and they'd be spending the first part of their dirt nap on the dissection table!

Leave it to the church to come to the rescue!

(I need to go off in a direction here, but bear with me...)

Way back when, it occurred to some folks that to REALLY protect yourself from postmortem "evils", one should be buried IN a church!

Now THERE'S the ticket! Safe and sound in the church basement... bonus if you were near the altar then you'd have people praying over you constantly! Perfect to the piously paranoid!

This thought caught on like wildfire and soon churches needed new chapels simply to house the new additions to the crypt!

This got SO bad that there ended up being legitimate health concerns... too many bodies crammed into a small space... soon, some churches were terrible with putrifying gas smells (rotting corpses) and even insect infestations! It was NOT good!

The initial answer... BE BURIED IN GOD'S HALF ACRE! Not "in" the church, but in the church yard!

This worked great, but everyone wanted to be on the East side (to be front row at the BIG resurrection) and close to the church (for safety)... The North, West, and South areas... they were for "sorta-kinda-maybe" folks... suspected suicides, unbaptized babies... that type...

Didn't take too long for the church yards to fill up... and soon, even the dreaded North and West sides were being used for the good folks with the "others" being placed outside the church grounds proper...

...then they filled up...

Solution: The church decided that it was your immortal soul, NOT your body that must stay "intact"... and therefore, all was right with the world...

It also didn't hurt that doctors and medical students, finally breaking taboo, also started donating their bodies to anatomists...

So, now the church says it's okay... and the elite are doing it...

It still took a few years, but finally, the grave robbers were put out of business...

...but their stories still remain... BOO!

LAST ONE... (long post, eh?)

Here's a thought I tossed out at a few colleagues from the university of Toronto... and they said, "Perhaps..."

We all know that putrifying flesh is bad... it smells and indeed, the gasses are toxic. Worse yet, CERTAIN types of illnesses (disease) can survive in rotting flesh and can be re-released on the living...

COULD it be that ancient man KNEW this... and therefore knew... "DEAD BODY = BAD JUJU!"

So, for centuries, they get rid of the dead as best and as sanitarily as possible... and avoid 'em after that.

...now, in our heads... within our very instinct... we still know that "dead people = bad" and are hard-wired to avoid them... even if they're six-feet under and represent no threat?

Could that "fear" be supplanted by the fear of "ghosts" which justifies what we cannot explain?

Like my colleagues said... Perhaps...

Granted, they may have been humouring me.

Anyway, that's the WHOLE LONG STORY...

I suppose I could add a bit about Eastern Europe's fear of vampires (corpses rising from the dead... and the REAL Eastern European vampire is HARDLY a thing you'd want to be anywhere near... bloated, rotting, smelling foul, blood from it's mouth... it's far nastier than Bela Lugosi in a cape!) but I think you get the point.

Cemeteries are great places... quiet, introspective, beautiful... and great sources of history and even art...

...but ghosts...? In our opinion... not-so-much.

Sources:

The Bedside Book of Death by Robert Wilkins
Vampires, Burial, and Death by Paul Barber
This Haunted Isle by Peter Underwood
Grave Disturbances: A History of the Body Snatchers by Geoffrey Abbott
Body Snatching: The Robbing of Graves for the Education of Physicians in Early Nineteenth America by Suzanne M. Schultz
Snopes.Com
KingTutOne.Com

Enditall

06/26/07

Permalink 01:55:49 pm, by Email , 1042 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, British History

Wordless Wednesday - Guy’s Cliffe

"A strikingly beautiful manor house, with the moat in the foreground; today it lies in ruins."

A History Of Guy’s Cliffe

NEAR WARWICK, WARWICKSHIRE - PERCY.

This seat derives its double name from a person and a place, the former that of the redoubtable and famous “Guy, Earl of Warwick,” the latter a high cliff which here bounds the western side of the classic Avon.

The story of Guy is thus told by my friend Sir Bernard Burke:—“ Guy, who, like most of his brethren in the trade of knight-errantry, had much to answer for, bethinks himself at last that it is time to repent and amend, for which purpose, according to the most approved fashion of his day, he sets out upon a tedious pilgrimage. On his return to Britain he finds the country being harassed by Danish invaders, so that there was scarce a town or castle that they had not burnt or destroyed almost as far as Winchester. In the midst of their success these ferocious invaders proposed to King Athelstan three things,—either that he should resign his crown to the Danish generals; or should hold the realm of them; or that the dispute should be ended in a single combat by a champion of either side; when, if the Dane was beaten, his countrymen would free England of their presence; but if he prevailed, then the country without more ado should be given up in sovereignty to the Danes. Athelstan accepted the last of these propositions, but not one of his court felt inclined to match himself with the formidable giant Colbrand, the elected champion of the Danes. At this crisis Guy appears in his palmer’s weeds, and is, with some difficulty, persuaded by the King to undertake the combat. What it was that induced Athelstan to place his fate and that of his kingdom in that of a wayworn, unknown pilgrim, is not explained by the chronicler, but the romancer unties the knot by the usual expedient in such cases.

Athelstan had a vision instructing him to trust his defence to the first pilgrim he should meet at the entrance of his palace. The day of battle arrives, when the two combatants meet in the valley of Chilticumbe. Guy appears in the customary armour of a knight, but his adversary, the giant Colbrand, comes to the field with weapons enough to supply a whole host; he was ‘so weightily harnessed that his horse could scarce carry him, and before him a cart loaded with Danish axes, great clubs with knobs of iron, square bars of steel, lances, and iron hooks to pull his adversary to him.’ At this sight, notwithstanding his valour, Guy began to quake, or, as the romancer emphatically exclaims, ‘never he was’n so sore afeard sith then he was born’

It would seem, however, as in the case of the renowned French marshal, that it was his body and not his soul that was afraid, for he fought his battle right gallantly under every disadvantage. His horse is killed, his helmet cleft in two, and his sword broken, but he makes a prayer to the Virgin, and snatching up an axe cuts off the giant’s arm, who, for all that, ‘held out the combat till the evening of the day,’ when he fainted from loss of blood, and Guy incontinently cut off his head.”

At the dissolution of the monasteries Guy’s Cliffe was bestowed by Henry the Eighth on Andrew Flammock, of Flammock. In later times it was possessed by a family named Edwards, and next passed to Samuel Greathead, Esq., who built a new residence, and his son greatly enlarged and improved the place.

After him Bertie Bertie Greathead, Esq., left a daughter and heiress married to The Hon. Charles Bertie Percy, who thus became the owner of Guy’s Cliffe.

Dugdale thus describes the scenery around. “A place this is of so great delight in respect of the river gliding below the rock, the dry and wholesome situation, and the fair groves of lofty elms overshadowing it, that to one who desireth a retired life, either for his devotions or study, the like is not to be found.” Leland also thus,—“It is a house of pleasure, place meet for the Muses; there is silence, a pretty wood, antra’ in vivo saxo, the river rouling over the stones with a pretty noyse, “nemusculum ibidem opacum, fontes liquidi et gemmei, prata florida, antra muscosa, rivi levis et per saxa discursus, necnon solitudo et quies Musis amicissima,” that is, “a thick grove there, liquid and sparkling fountains, flowery meads, mossy caverns, the gentle flow of a river over rocks, and also solitude and quiet most friendly to the Muses.”

Within the house is a splendid collection of paintings, many of them from the easel of a young artist, Mr. Greathead, a son of the then family. The talents of the youthful painter were of such high promise, that when he visited France during the short peace, instead of sharing the fate of the other detenus, he was allowed by the special grace of Napoleon to retire to Italy. There, however, he unfortunately died of a fever, at the early age of twenty-three. In addition to his works, many paintings by the most eminent masters are to be seen here, such as Cuyp, Canaletti, Spagnoletto, Holbein, and others of no less celebrity.

The family of Percy, Earls of Beverley and Dukes of Northumberland, of the former of which is the present owner of Guy’s Cliffe, descends from Sir Hugh Smithson, who married Lady Elizabeth Seymour, the heiress of the Percies, and was created Duke of Northumberland in 1776.

The House of Percy had derived from William de Percy, one of the Norman chieftains who accompanied William the Conqueror in 1066, and deduced his name from the village of Percy, near Villedieu.

I do realise that this is not very wordless in fact it's quite wordy! However, I thought that perhaps some of the visitors here would like to know more about this exquisite image.

Happy Wordless Wednesday, and thank you for stopping by!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

To view similar images please click here

Enditall
Permalink 12:54:47 pm, by Email , 296 words   English (CA)
Categories: Institutions Of Higher Learning

Student Loan Debt Consolidation

The majority of the regular readers of this blog are students, and while it is an exciting time in one's life, it can also be one that is fraught with worry, particularly in regards to finances. Higher education costs can be expensive, and the majority of us are in need of borrowing money in order to pursue or educational goals. We too have been there, and why I believe this topic to be of interest to our readers, and quite appropriate to this blog.

I'm certain you've come across some horror stories on the subject of student loans. I have most recently while preparing for my daughter's post secondary educational pursuits that will commence next year. While Matthew, and I certainly had no problem with managing educational based debt, I can share in these horror stories by telling you a bit about my sister. She too borrowed money for college, but was not able to land a good job in her field immediately upon finishing, therefore unable to pay off her debt until several years after graduation at a much greater cost than expected.

Had my sister at the time been able to take advantage of student loan debt consolidation via a company such as FinancialAid.com her stress, and financial burden would have been greatly reduced if not eliminated all together.

FinancialAid.com gives student borrowers the ability to consolidate their debt at a very low rate, and the flexibility to lengthen the term of their loan, while at the same time not incurring penalties for prepayments.

You can apply online (will take about 10 minutes) and no credit check is required. For further information on student loan debt consolidation please click on the link provided to you within this entry.

Thank you to our sponsor.

Enditall
Permalink 11:15:52 am, by Email , 158 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, African History

Emperor Menelik II - Biblical Medicine



Emperor Menelik II (1844 - 1913)

Thought to be a descendant of the legendary Queen of Sheba and King Solomon Menelik II of Ethiopia maintained his country's independence against Italian aggression. He won the decisive battle of Adowa over Italy in 1896.

Menelik II had a few odd quirks though. For instance when he felt sick he would eat pages right out of the bible?! He had convinced himself that by doing so he would get better. This bizarre habit did him no harm, and who knows perhaps on a psychological level did him some good?

In December 1913 he decided to treat himself by eating the complete Book of Kings from the Old Testament. He was recovering from the effects of a stroke at the time. His doctors fed him page by page, but he did not consume more than a few chapters before dying.

For Further Reading and Image Credit:

Menelik II

Source:

Let Them Eat Cake, By Geoffrey Regan (c) 1994

Enditall
Permalink 10:04:56 am, by Email , 227 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Travel & Tourism, Central & South American History

Puerto Peñasco - Rocky Point

For many years Rocky Point a small fishing village was a well kept secret. It wasn't until the Prohibition era that it was truly discovered. Johnny Stone, an American businessman visited Puerto Peñasco, and realised it's absolute potential as a dream vacation hot spot. He built the very first hotel, and opened up for business.

Soon Rocky Point was attracting a whos-who of the 1930's including the infamous Al Capone who along with cronies raved about the fabulous climate (it rarely rains if ever), the beauty of the landscape, and the fantastic deep-sea fishing it offers.

Another little known factoid for the history buff is that NASA trained it's astronauts for the lunar mission in the nearby Pinacate Mountains.

Rocky Point is well known today for it rich history, culture, fishing, swimming (very safe swimming conditions), and ideal weather.

Planning a dream Rocky Point vacation is made easy through Oceano-Rentals which offer beautiful accommodations that will suit everyone's travel budgets.

With their knowledge, and expertise of the region, not only will you save money on Rocky Point Vacation Rental Homes, but you will also insure you are being taken care of by a well-established, and highly reputable company.

Have a look through their website for further information and accommodation listings including ocean front views, fully furnished, and equipped holiday rentals.

Enjoy!

Thank you to our sponsor!

Enditall

06/25/07

Permalink 12:05:13 am, by Email , 123 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, European History, Period Clothing & Uniforms

Frederick II - Buttons & Snotty Sleeves

Frederick II, of Prussia, aged 68, by Anton Graff

Frederick the Great was an interesting man, and the fashion world does owe him even today ....

You see it was Frederick that first ordered all of his soldiers to sew buttons on the sleeves of their coats. You might be wondering why?

Simple, it was to prevent them from wiping their snotty noses on the sleeves. And that is how men's coats got sleeve buttons that do not button.

You might want to point that out the next time you are in the company of a gentleman in an expensive suit with buttons on the sleeve. You can ask him if the seemingly useless buttons have helped him out with an otherwise rather gross habit!

Enditall

06/24/07

Glacier Girl To Return To Britain

A fighter plane which took off from the US during WWII is set to finally land in the UK after being buried under a glacier. The BBC is covering the arrival of this lost WWII plane, and I have added in a snippet below:

An American fighter plane will be arriving in Britain from the United States next week - 65 years after taking off.

The P38 Lightning was one of eight aircraft forced to land in Greenland after encountering bad weather while en route to the UK in July 1942.

The planes became buried under 300ft of ice but 15 years ago the remains of one, renamed Glacier Girl, were dug up.

The aircraft is due to take part in an air show at Duxford, near Cambridge.

The plane is expected to land within the next few days to prepare for the Imperial War Museum annual Flying Legends weekend on 7 and 8 July.

It has previously flown at air shows in the United States.

A dedicated recovery team spent months working to retrieve the single P38 when the lost aircraft were re-discovered, immediately christening it Glacier Girl.

Full BBC Article Here

The P38 Lightning is due to fly alongside more than 50 other vintage aircraft, including Spitfires and P51s, and should put on one helluva show! I would love to attend if only to see Glacier Girl with her remarkable story fly!

Enditall

06/23/07

Permalink 02:44:07 pm, by Email , 129 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News

Heritage Sites To Be Named By UNESCO

The UN's cultural organisation Unesco is meeting in New Zealand to discuss which sites to add to the list of most valuable natural or manmade treasures according to a BBC news item. Here is a snippet:

Around 45 sites are in competition to be added to the World Heritage list.

The committee will also decide if any heritage sites are in danger from war, tourism, overdevelopment or neglect.

Those that could be deemed endangered include the Tower of London, the Galapagos Islands, Dresden in Germany and Machu Picchu in Peru.

The committee is also expected to reach an opinion on controversial Israeli excavations near the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Full BBC Article Here

Pictured above is the Sydney, Australia Opera house which is a candidate for the heritage list.

Enditall

06/21/07

Permalink 06:02:43 pm, by Email , 115 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, Who Am I

Who Am I



Illustration from a 12th century codex

Although I lived a fairly short life, (42 years) and ruled for only ten years, I became a hero of legendary proportions. During my reign I spent all of my time, but six months away from my realm. My fame was assured during the third crusade when I won victories at Cyprus, Acre, and Messina against the great Saladin, but I was not able to recapture Jerusalem, which of course was the big prize. While returning to my kingdom I was captured by Leopold, Duke of Austria, and held a prisoner until a very large ransom was paid for me.

Who Am I?

The answer is in the comments section.

Enditall

06/20/07

Permalink 10:32:57 am, by Email , 95 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, British History

Wordless Wednesday - The Duke Of Wellington

The Dukedom of Wellington, derived from Wellington in Somerset, is a hereditary title and the senior Dukedom in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The first holder of the title was Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), the noted Irish-born British career officer and statesman, and unqualified references to the Duke of Wellington almost always refer to him. He is most famous for, together with Blücher, defeating Napoleon at Waterloo.

Further Reading: Wiki entry


Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 10:27:32 am, by Email , 98 words   English (CA)
Categories: General

Curtains For Beauty & Function

Window treatments of some sort including the use of curtains for privacy, blocking light, to maintain heat, and to decorate have been recorded to have been in use since pre-biblical times, and they are still very much needed for these various purposes today.

Granted at this point in time we may shop for our curtains from the convenience of our own homes online. Terry's Fabrics offers a terrific selection of window treatments, at very good prices. You may browse their collections via the computer, and make safe, and secure online purchases through them.

Thank you to our sponsor!

Enditall

06/19/07

Permalink 10:12:14 am, by Email , 309 words   English (CA)
Categories: Heroic Women

Vilma Espin Passes Away Today

April 7, 1930 - June 18, 2007

The BBC has reported that Vilma Espin, wife of Cuba's acting president Raul Castro, has died in Havana, she was aged 77. Here is a snippet:

She was a key figure in the Cuban revolution and the long-standing head of the Cuban Women's Federation, which works to advance women's rights.

Born into a wealthy family, she fought as a guerrilla alongside Fidel Castro and his younger brother Raul in the Sierra Maestra mountains.

She married Raul in early 1959 and was often described as Cuba's "first lady".

Espin reportedly died after a long battle with illness.

The Cuban authorities have announced an official mourning period, which will last until 2200 on Tuesday (0300 GMT Wednesday), with national flags on all public buildings and military bases being lowered to half mast.

Full BBC Article Here

Vilma Espin was an industrial chemistry engineer who was married to Raul Castro, head of the Cuban Armed Forces and brother to Cuban President Fidel Castro. She had been President of the Federation of Cuban Women since its foundation in 1960. The organization is an ECOSOC-recognized NGO with membership of more than three and a half million women.

A member of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba, Vilma Espin headed the Cuban Delegation to the First Latin American Congress on Women and Children in Chile in September 1959. The mother of four and grandmother of seven was a member of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the communist Party of Cuba. She headed the Cuban delegation to the Conferences on Women held in Mexico, Copenhagen, Nairobi and Beijing.

In my opinion whether you agree with her politics or not Vilma should be recognized for standing up for her beliefs, and championing the rights of ALL women to be considered equal throughout the world.

Further Reading:

Vilma Espín Guillois

Spouses of Heads Of State

Enditall

06/18/07

Permalink 04:50:36 pm, by Email , 161 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Prehistoric

Dino-Bird Found In China

I love reading about discoveries such as these! I like to ponder about what the earth must have been like back then, and the majesty of these creatures that once inhabited it. Read on:

This artist's rendering puts feathers and flesh on the fossil bones of a massive birdlike dinosaur recently unearthed in the Gobi desert in northern China.

The newly discovered dino, Gigantoraptor erlianensis—shown looming over much smaller dinosaurs—probably represents the largest feathered animal ever known, Chinese paleontologists say.

The beaked creature weighed about 1.5 tons (1.4 metric tons) and is the biggest toothless dinosaur found to date, according to a team led by Xing Xu from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing.

Full Article Here

Thankfully we have artists who through the work of the scientists can combine their talents to create such stunning images as the one above. It really is amazing how they can bring to life that, which has long been buried. Awesome!

Enditall
Permalink 04:43:50 pm, by Email , 97 words   English (CA)
Categories: Sports & Sports Entertainment

Fantasy Football

One of the hottest growing entertainment pastimes on the internet today is fantasy sports. And if this is something you enjoy, particularly fantasy football then you should go have a look at AFFL.com. They offer the ability to form teams, and compete for large pay-out prizes, in a safe, and secure online environment. You can take a look at The American Fantasy Football League prize list for 2007 by clicking on one of the links provided in this entry. I think you'll agree that they are leaders in online fantasy sports entertainment!

Our thanks to our sponsor!

Enditall

06/17/07

Permalink 12:12:54 am, by Email , 251 words   English (CA)
Categories: Holidays And Traditions

The History Of Father's Day

"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was."
~Anne Sexton

The creation of a national day for Dads began back in the 1900s when a grateful daughter wanted to express her deep appreciation for her own father. A gentleman by the name of William Smart, a civil war veteran, was widowed when his wife died in childbirth. Mr. Smart raised his six children on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. When Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, one of Mr. Smart's children, was grown she wanted to show her appreciation for her father. He had shown her a great love and strength in raising her and her siblings as a single parent. So, in 1909, she proposed a day to honor her father in June (the month of her father's birth).

The very first Fathers' Day followed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge showed support of this becoming a national holiday. However, it wasn't until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson officially proclaimed Fathers' Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June.

Harry C. Meek, president of the Lions Club in Chicago, was also a component in establishing Fathers' Day. He gave several speeches around the United States expressing the need for a day to honor our fathers. In 1920 the Lions Clubs of America presented him with a gold watch, with the inscription "Originator of Fathers' Day".

Source: Father's Day History

Have a Safe & Happy Father's Day!

Matthew & Sue

Enditall

06/16/07

Permalink 12:00:00 am, by Email , 1348 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Kings And Queens, European History, British History

The QUEEN RULES ALL! (Sorta...)

The concept of the British (Canadian) Monarchy still baffles people a bit in today's age... and perhaps I should tell ya kinda how it works... and why...

Most people assume "Kings" and "Queens" of England (and the British Commonwealth of which Canada is a part,) had effectively omnipotent powers of a sort... total control and dictorial "rights"...

Well, they pretty much did... until 1215... and I don't mean quarter-past noon...

King John was pretty much acting the tyrant... high taxes and some bad decisions with geo-political things in France... so his Barons rebelled.

They did so very well and took London by force and then there was an agreement... The King's Will MUST be governed by the laws of the land. It also gave a lot of powers to the people... or so it's believed. To be honest, it gave a lot of power and privilege to the nobles... and neglected the lower classes... but hey, it was a start.

So, as of then, if a Royal wanted something, he had to get Parliament (the elected government) to say it was okay.

In exchange, Parliament would get Royal "Assent" on any bills they could pass... granted, if the Royals refused, they knew it could be bad...

...and things went on from there... until one Parliament fiercely loyal to the King and wanting to make him happy kept passing things for him... and raised taxes because the King was spending a LOT of money.

The King was Charles the First and it didn't take too long for people to get grumpy... what with his spending ways and worse yet, a Catholic for a wife! Soon, a bunch of folks led by this fellow, Oliver Cromwell, decided that it was time for a regime change.

...and in 1642 they started... with most of the general population FIRMLY behind these Parliamentarians.

...and in 1652, there was no more King... but Britain had a "Lord Protector" in Ollie Cromwell...

...and King Charles? Well, in the end, he didn't have to worry about headaches or head colds since Cromwell and his supporters felt his head just really didn't belong on his shoulders anymore and "choppy-choppy", no more king.

Granted, the good news was that Charles' son, oddly enough named "Charles", managed to get out of England and over to France to live in exile... his head stayed put.

So Cromwell ruled... and the general populace really didn't like it. Taxes didn't change all that much and Cromwell, a staunch puritan, really wasn't all that much fun... and ensured that misery got company. (He banned gaming and theatre for one thing... this, in the land of Shakespeare didn't go over too well...)

When Cromwell finally shuffled off this mortal coil, the Brits basically let it be known that Charles Jr. was welcome back whenever he'd like... and we had a "Restoration of the Monarchy"... but the lessons had been learned and Chuck the Twoth stayed out of running the country. In fact, he REALLY stayed out of it... Oh sure, he didn't like SOME of the things that Parliament did... especially when it reduced his spending... but the guy who was supposed to take over for him (James the Second) was so bad for the people (and still kinda too Catholic,) that they welcomed a pair of Protestant distant relations in William and Mary... who jointly "ruled"... but they were the start of what we have as a current monarchy.

Pretty much, with their powers reduced, the Kings and Queens of England are, by birthright, pretty much "figure heads"... they acted as "officials", but with no sweeping powers.

In fact, King George the Third of England was a STAUNCH constitutionalist... his parliament, however, not-so-much.

"The pride, the glory of Britain and the direct end of it's constitution is political liberty."

Those words were uttered by the "well known tyrant", King George III of England.

Anyway, in these here modern times in the British Commonwealth, the "Commonwealth Nations" all have "Responsible Government" (A Canadian Idea!) where the Royals are TRULY just a figure-head and not much else... We have a person appointed to be kind of a "British Royal Family Ambassador" to officiate things but little else referred to as a Governor General...

Heck, the "Speech from the Throne" delivered by the Governor General is written by the leader of the ruling, elected Government (the Prime Minister in Canada) and not by the Governor General or Her Majesty...

We have a lot of "Crown" things too... "Crown Land", "Crown Attorneys", and "Crown Companies"... this is fancy-talk for "Owned by the Government".

Trust me, the Queen doesn't even get royalties from her picture being on our stamps!

So, what are the modern Royals?

Just like I said... "Figure heads"... a "Family to look up to" who by dint of an ancient heritage, have titles within "public affairs" that mean little.

Since John, Charles, and James... the royals role in "running a country" have been limited to simply having a rubber stamp.

In fact, when Prince Charles once made what was considered a "legitimate political statement", there was hell to pay in parliament for his words! He's NOT ALLOWED to make comments, after all...


Now, why we bring this up is because of our little quiz a while back... where we mentioned that blaming King George III for the taxes on the American colonists that led to the revolution was a little like blaming the dog on the front of a Mack Truck for a road accident... and this was called into question.

Well, the American Founding Fathers kinda fibbed.

They knew it... and they fibbed to the people of their soon-to-be country.

You see, what sounds better...

DOWN WITH THE TERRIBLE ELECTED BODY OF PARLIAMENT THAT IS REALLY THE SOURCE OF ALL OUR NEW TAXES!!!

...or...

DOWN WITH THE CROWN'S NEW TAXES!!!

...and to the common folk, "crown" = "King".

This isn't the case now... and wasn't the case back then either... but jingoism beats facts in the "vox populi".

Ergo: Easier to paint George as a tyrant than try to hand-pick which parliamentarians you didn't like...

...also, would that kind of REAL logic get people to pick up arms if you told them that it was a select few they should blame... or might they simply write to friends and family and try to turn an election? If they did that, you don't get your own glorious nation!

...and remember, the founding fathers knew that 1/3 of their population was patriotic to their cause... 1/3 was indifferent... and 1/3 loyal to that evil and tyrannical crown... so they villified the easy target and the one who's name WAS on everything (but mattered little to what was actually going on!)

Yup, sorry to say, "The Tyrant King George" is an accepted historical myth born or political gamesmanship... for better or worse.

I know this may be difficult to hear for some down South of us, but ask a University or College historian... they'll tell you...

Granted, be thankful I didn't tell you about Ben Franklin only wanting to give the vote to the elite and learned and withhold it from the lower classes as they were too dumb to know who to vote for!

Oops. Sorry about spilling those beans too. :D


Sue wanted me to tack on a little note here as a "For Instance..."

England and Britain is in the "Coalition of the Willing" and has troops in Iraq.

Have you ever heard Queen Elizabeth giving a "Ra! Ra!" war speech?

She can't.

She is duty-bound to England first... and must abide by the decisions of "her" parliament. (Heck, she don't even get to vote!)

Whether the Queen is pro or anti Iraq war we will probably never truly know... because she is a constitutional monarch.

...and in all honesty, a very good one in my personal estimation who's been through a lot!

I wish I had the time to tell you that she's a qualified auto-mechanic as during the last parts of WWII, she "volunteered" and fixing jeeps was her gig... but I've gone on a little too much already.

Enditall

06/15/07

Permalink 12:00:00 am, by Email , 867 words   English (CA)
Categories: Interesting Lists

QUIZ TIME! Fact or Fiction? - THE ANSWERS!

Yesterday's blog entry asked you to tell which of the ten statements were fact and which were fiction... below are the answers...


#1: King George the Taxer

FALSE - King George III was a "constitutional monarch" which meant he pretty much had zero say in political matters... it was the British House of Parliament that brought in the taxes. Blaming King George was the equivalent of blaming the dog on the front of a Mack Truck for a road accident.


#2: The War of 1812 ended in the pivotal battle of New Orleans.

FALSE - Bloody, yes... Pivotal, no. The battle was fought after peace had been declared and a peace agreement signed by the Americans and British... but that was done in Ghent, Belgium... and took a while to get back to America... and during the trip, the battle was fought. It was an American victory and a very nasty defeat for the British, but it was fought to no end really. As for who "won the war"? Well America attacked Canada with thoughts of conquest and didn't succeed... Canada and Britain only wished to maintain the border as was and managed to do it (although did eye the "New England States" returning to the fold)... but the British and Natives wanted a "buffer state" under Native rule between America and Canada... and that didn't happen at all. So, no one won, no one lost... except the natives. The peace treaty agreed to by Britain (and Canada) and America was "Status Quo Ante Bellum".


#3: Olympic mud throwing.

TRUE - ...and it happened in 1904 at the games in St. Louis, Missouri. During the third "official" Olympic games, it was "decided" that certain events would be added to make them "truly global" and allow "primitive tribes" to compete... so "Mud Fighting", "Greased Pole Climbing", "Rock Throwing", and "Spear Throwing" were added during special "Anthropological Days".


#4: Pablum is Canadian Horse Food

TRUE - Doctors Alan Brown, Theodore Drake and Fred Tisdall from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children invented it... and gave it the whacky Latin name. Why? You'd have to ask them (...but likely, it's because of the high alfalfa and wheat products used in the making of it.) The royalties they received for the product were put back into research of bone and mineral deficiencies within children.


#5: Columbus Flat-Earth...

FALSE - Bugs Bunny lied to us. Although there may have been a few "flat-Earthers" around (as there are today), they were few and far between. Think of the ancient carvings of Atlas... have you ever seen one of him carrying a plate?


#6: English Pilgrims meet Ex-Pat Brit-Native.

TRUE - Squanto existed... He was taken to England in and around 1605 by an English Captain and lived there for nine years... somehow, he was sold into slavery and ended up in Spain in 1614, escaped, went back to England, and ended up back home in America after securing passage in 1619 and was on hand to meet folks as they got off the Mayflower.


#7: Henry wrote Greensleeves.

MAYBE - He is "credited" with the song, but some historians figure he had a LOT of help... and besides, if the king said HE wrote it, HE wrote it!


#8: Roswell, 1947.

FALSE - ...and not for the reason you're thinking... The crash actual took place seventy-five miles away nearer the town of Corona... but the crash investigation set-up shop in Roswell and the debris was sent to the Roswell Army Air Field. As to what happened, something did... and as it was "flying" and it was "unidentified", it does qualify as a UFO... but was it aliens? That will be another post.


#9: Shorter People a Century Ago.

NOT AS TRUE AS YOU MIGHT ASSUME (read: FALSE) - Actually, the average height of Europeans (and really, et al,) has only deviated up by about an inch or so... the "short beds" were because, up until late Victorian times, it was thought to be healthier to sleep in a slightly "sitting up" position (to allow the fluids to move down, not up). Small doorways were a combination of cheap heat-efficiency (heat rises, lower the door and heat doesn't escape too easy) and protection (it's difficult to get a group of people with bad intentions through a small doorway).


#10: Britain and Canada Supported The North!

FALSE - Since both sides had slavery, the British and Canadians really backed the side they did the most business with... The South (The Confederacy). Both Canada and Britain put STRONG pressure on both sides to abolish slavery, but when the chips were down, cotton beat trade goods. Top this off with The Confederacy "courting" England saying that they were not like those "upstarts" in the North... and used a pejorative that was used to describe ALL Americans right up until The South used it to alienate their brethren... "Yankees". (Remember: Yankee-Doodle was NOT just a Northern Song in the 1700's and early 1800's...) Granted, after The Union under President Lincoln finally brought into existence the Emancipation Proclamation, Britain (and Canada) vowed to simply stay out of it and NOT support the South.


So? How'd you do?

No matter what, give yourself ONE point for the Henry the VIII question...

SCORE 0 - 2: You watch too much television!
SCORE 3 - 4: Excellent!
SCORE 5: You must have cheated... or you're BRILLIANT!

Enditall

06/14/07

Permalink 11:40:01 am, by Email , 265 words   English (CA)
Categories: Interesting Lists

QUIZ TIME! Fact or Fiction? - THE QUESTIONS!

Below is a series of historical statements... your job, if you choose, is to tell which is fictional, and which is fact...

No prize, just for interests sake! But, it still ain't going to be easy!


#1: King George the Third brought down harsh taxation on the American colonists leading to a revolt and the eventual independence of The United States of America.


#2: The pivotal battle of New Orleans in 1815 (where Andrew Jackson made his name) was a decisive blow to the British and allowed America to win The War of 1812.


#3: Throwing mud was an official Olympic event in the 20th century once.


#4: Pablum is a Canadian invention and translated means "Horse Food".


#5: When Columbus made his fateful journey to the New World, a lot of people funding him thought he was crackers and would fall of the edge of the flat planet.


#6: When the English Pilgrims landed in the New World, one of the first native Americans ("Indians") they met had lived in England for many years before they arrived.


#7: Henry The Eighth wrote the ballad "Greensleeves".


#8: A UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.


#9: People were MUCH shorter two and three hundred years ago as shown by doorways and bed (sizes).


#10: As they had already put in place strong anti-slavery laws, England and (therefore) Canada were strong and constant supporters of the North (the Union) Army in the American Civil War (1861–1865).


ANSWERS POSTED TOMORROW... (No cheating!) Good lucks, and don't worry if you blow some of the answers. There are at least a couple, which are trick questions! See if you can spot them!

Enditall
Permalink 11:28:53 am, by Email , 201 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Science And Technology

Bathroom Scales

Have you ever wondered about when or where bathroom scales originated? They are relatively modern, because even just a hundred years ago scales were far too large to fit into anyone's actual bathroom! The first coin operated scale was brought to the US from Germany in 1885, and within a few short years they were being mass-produced by the National Scale Company. These were still way too big, and weighing over 200 lbs to even be considered for home usage.

Fast forward to now!

Virtually everyone's house has at least one bathroom scale, and in just the last couple of years they have become a marvel for managing one's weight, and health. No longer just measuring weight alone, they now can determine body fat vs water vs good tissue weight. Incredible when you think how far they have come from the coin-operated scales of the last two centuries!

ScalesEtc.com offers a wide variety of digital scales, for various purposes within the home, and business. Their products are very well priced, and have a life-time warranty within the United States.

Please do have a look at their state-of-art scales by clicking on the links provided in this entry.

Thank you to our sponsor!

Enditall

06/13/07

Permalink 12:31:07 am, by Email , 82 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, British History, Religion and Spirituality

Wordless Wednesday - Hawker's Hut

In 1843 the Reverend Stephen Hawker, the eccentric vicar of Morwnestow, founded the modern day Harvest festival service. He was also a poet, and wrote much of his poetry in this hut which he himself built into the cliff edge from timber salvaged from wrecks along the coast.

Read more about Robert Stephen Hawker - And His Cats

Image Source

Our thanks to Nicola

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

06/12/07

Permalink 08:33:26 pm, by Email , 327 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture

Past Times With The Police

Win a New York fly-away to see The Police live.

Earlier today I had a lot fun unscrambling the following song list from the brand new Police cd:

1 ualtofl
2 ouon ttxey
3 oylselno
4 nnebhg ttrhigoni
5 e etvekruaeyrhta boy
6 ycirysotnicn
7 irs a kut tnepwyonoifglos
8 as poidi sit larhitletrmernw
9 c rtdeleganbat a
10 esblnvisiun i

Doesn't look easy now does it! However, I did it! Well I hope I did! Here are the rescrambled songs, please note that they are only a sampling of the goodies to be found on the 2-disc compilation Police cd:

1 Fall Out
2 Next To You
3 So Lonely
4 Bring On The Night
5 Every Breath You Take
6 Synchronicity
7 Walking In Your Footsteps
8 Spirits In The Material World
9 Reggatta de Blanc
10 Invisible Sun

Past times with this awesome band are fondly remembered indeed! They were the music of my teen years, and I must say that I do love them as much today as I did back then!

Wow! Listening to The Police, and anticipating the purchase of this new Police cd is like a trip down memory lane for me. I remember being in grade nine, and being so happy to be attending my very first high school dance. I felt so grown up back then, and I knew everything! Well at least I thought I knew everything. When the DJ spun Spirits In The Material World everyone was on their feet, the Police were hot, and I felt like the music was carrying me away.....it still is one of my all time favourite Police songs.

Gosh, that seems so long ago...but with this newest Police cd I'll be able to revisit all my old faves, and the memories they inspire like waiting at a bus stop on a cold raining day, and belting out Roxanne, or crying over a nasty break-up with someone whose name is forgotten while listening to Every Breath You Take, and they will now be the music of my present too...

Enditall

06/11/07

Permalink 10:51:18 am, by Email , 308 words   English (CA)
Categories: European History, Book Reviews

Eva and Adolph By Glenn B Infield

This past weekend in Toronto was a glorious one, and Saturday morning found Matthew, and I walking through our neighbourhood, and checking out the garage sales. Garage sales are one of my favourite ways along with trolling used book stores to pick up reading material on the cheap.

At one of these sales I came across a book in a dusty, old box called Eva and Adolph by author Glenn B Infield, who I had never heard of before. With some hesitation I paid 25 cents for it, and brought it home to add to my summer reading pile. I say with hesitation because there are books on serial killers that I find less repulsive than the thought of reading this book.

Here is what the back cover has to say:

Eva and Adolf met in a photography shop in Munich in 1929. They parted in a flaming Berlin bunker in 1945. The years between, the years of their extraordinary love affair, altered history beyond recognition.

Throughout those years, Eva was Hitler's most passionate mistress, most trusted ally, most willing victim.

She shared his strange excesses, his often hideous pleasures, and in the end although she could have escaped, she chose to share his death.

What bound a pretty, strong-willed, ordinary girl into a slave relationship with a master villain?

Here, for the first time, is the tragic, totally unforgettable story of a woman in love-- and of the evil presence who ruled her destiny

The book was released in 1974, and I have no idea at this point how factual it is. There are some rare photos included that would in my opinion make the purchase price of a quarter worth it to a WWII history buff.

Still, I am not sure when or if I will get to it.....or if I'll have the stomach to finish it. We'll see....

Enditall

06/08/07

Permalink 10:57:36 am, by Email , 1044 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Museums And Historic Sites, Adventurers

The Clunies-Ross Family - The Kings of the Cocos

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are located in the middle of the Indian Ocean some 2750km north-west of Perth, and 900km west south-west of Christmas Island, its closest neighbour. Cocos lies approximately 12° south and 96.5° east, locating the islands in the humid tropical zone.

For many, living on an tropical island away from the cares of everyday life is the ultimate dream. But, for a family of British merchant adventurers, the dream became a reality when they ran a group of islands as a private fiefdom for 150 years.

Today, the BBC is featuring an article on the the Clunies-Ross family, and the Cocos Islands. Here is a brief snippet to whet your appetite:

"From the air, they look like a chain of pearls wrapped around a giant opal. Twenty six tiny islands enclosing a turquoise and jade lagoon.

Stepping out of the aircraft, I was enveloped by tropical heat.

Palm trees rustled in the breeze and there was the distant sound of surf crashing on a reef. The locals were either barefoot or in flip-flops.

Adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Cocos Keeling Islands lie halfway between Australia and Sri Lanka.

Home to just 500 people, they are an Australian territory, but on many maps of the continent, they do not even feature.

Which is a shame, because the islands have an intriguing history.

They were uninhabited until the 1820s, when a small settlement was established by a Scottish adventurer named John Clunies-Ross.

Oceania House was the original home of the Clunie-Rosses
He was originally from Shetland and must have delighted in exchanging his frigid homeland for these balmy, sun-kissed isles. He set about planting hundreds of coconut palms and brought in Malay workers to harvest the nuts.

Successive generations of Clunies-Rosses built up a business empire based on copra, the dried flesh of coconuts traded for its oil. Their tenure over their exotic adopted home was confirmed in 1886, when Queen Victoria granted them possession of the islands in perpetuity.

They styled themselves the "kings" of the Cocos.

Remarkably, their rule lasted right up until 1978, when the last "king", also called John Clunies-Ross, was forced to sell the islands to Australia for £2.5m ($4.75m)."

Full BBC Article and Photos Here

A well written, and thoughtful article, I enjoyed learning about this family, and it's intriguing history!


Here is a brief historical timeline:

1609 - discovery of the islands is generally attributed to Captain William Keeling during one of his homeward voyages from Java to England, although he did not record it in his journals.

1805 - the British hydrographer, James Horsburgh, called them the Cocos-Keeling Islands in his sailing directory and named one of the islands after himself.

1825 - Captain John Clunies-Ross, a Scottish trader, sailing the Borneo for the Trading House of Hare made a brief landing on the islands on his homeward voyage from the East Indies. He had orders to investigate Christmas Island on Alexander Hare's behalf as a possible site for a settlement. Bad weather prevented these plans and he surveyed the Cocos-Keeling Islands instead.

1826 - the first settlement was established on the islands by Alexander Hare. Clunies-Ross delivered him and approximately 100 other people to the islands in May. Hare set up a settlement on Home Island and subsidiary camps on most of the other larger islands.

1827 - Captain John Clunies-Ross returned to the islands with his family and a small party of servants, seamen and tradesmen. Relations between Clunies-Ross and Hare became strained.

1829 - the total population of the atoll was 175, with 20 Europeans and 155 people from the Indies, New Guinea and the Cape.

1831 - John Clunies-Ross was in sole possession of the islands as Hare had departed following disagreements with Clunies-Ross and financial trouble in the House of Hare company. Hare never returned to the islands.

1834 - John Clunies-Ross moved his small group to Home Island, assumed control over the remnants of Hare's people and turned his attention to planting out coconut palms and teaching the islanders shipbuilding. A schooner called the Harriet was built on South Island and launched in 1835.

1836 - Charles Darwin, aboard the HMS Beagle, visited the islands on his round the world voyage. They were the only atolls he visited and from which he formed his theory of atoll formation.

1837 - John Clunies-Ross had succeeded in recovering his investment, trading in coconuts, coconut oil and copra, mainly in Java. his increasing prosperity was boosted by the visits of whaling ships on their return trips from the Southern Ocean. The crews from these ships played havoc in the Cocos community however, and Clunies-Ross sought help from the authorities in Ceylon. HM Sloop Pelorus visited in December. The problems were solved, a code of law and order established and better pay and conditions for the Cocos workers secured.

1841 - Captain Clunies-Ross's eldest son, John George, married to a Javanese girl named Supia Dupong, returned to Cocos.

1842 - Captain Clunies-Ross's brother, James arrived to settle on the islands.

1845 - Captain John Clunies-Ross died and John George assumed control of the settlement and his father's debts.

1857 - in a bureaucratic blunder, the islands were annexed to Britain. The annexation made J.G. Clunies-Ross a Governor under the Crown and responsible for the conduct of the colony. The settlers began in earnest to develop the islands' coconut plantations.

1862 - a disastrous cyclone struck the islands and Clunies-Ross' eldest son, George, was recalled from studies in England to assist in running the estate.

1871 - John George Clunies-Ross died and his son, George, assumed control of the estate.

1878 - Responsibility for administration of the islands was given to the British governor of Ceylon.

1886 - Queen Victoria granted all of the islands to George Clunies-Ross in perpetuity. The Straits Settlements acted in a supervisory capacity.

1901 - A telegraphy relay station was established on Direction Island. Up until this time the islanders rarely saw people form the outside world. The islands became a vital link in world communications.

1910 - George Clunies-Ross died and his son, John Sydney, assumed control of the settlement.

1914 - November 14, the German light cruiser, SMS Emden, was scuttled on North Keeling following a sea battle with the HMAS Sydney 1 in the waters off the islands. Survivors were picked up but some perished on North Keeling trying to evade rescuers. This battle was Australia's first naval victory.

For Further Informations And Sources:

The man who lost a 'coral kingdom'

Travel To The Cocos Islands

Enditall
Permalink 10:53:18 am, by Email , 226 words   English (CA)
Categories: Going From Here To There, Science And Technology

Air Ambulance Services

Did you know that the history of air ambulance services is a lengthy one? It all began in the USA with the very first air ambulance florida flight at Fort Barrancas in the year 1910. This the very first test flight, flew only 500 yards at an altitude of 100 feet before crashing to the ground, but it was the beginning of a great concept that was the brainchild of Capt George H. R. Gosman and Lt A. L. Rhodes.

Air ambulance services played key roles in both WWI, and WWII. And this long standing tradition of excellence in aviation, and emergency medical services continues on today.

Airambulance.net is the ultimate resource, and guide to air ambulance services in the United States. They are (considering the history of air ambulances) appropriately located in Miami Florida, USA, and can arrange for safe, and expert air ambulance transport anywhere around the world. They are considered leading experts in this exciting field, and have over 21 years experience at the time of this writing!

It is fascinating this evolution of air ambulances in what amounts to historically speaking such as short period of time, and I do encourage anyone interested in this subject or perhaps may require a service such as this to visit the Airambulance.net for further information on their staff, and their state-of-the-art fleet.

Our thanks to our sponsors!



Enditall

06/07/07

Permalink 12:51:04 am, by Email , 306 words   English (CA)
Categories: Heroic Women, European History

The Virago - Caterina Sforza

Born as the illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza in 1462, Caterina Sforza became a unique woman for her time. Caterina left her home for Rome after her father's death. She began her life fulfilling her duties as wife and mother of eight, but then she began to fulfil roles usually reserved to men.

With her husband, Caterina seized control of Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome during the turmoils of 1484. In Forli it was Caterina who issued justice, especially after the revolt in 1487 in which her husband failed to do anything.

Caterina was also involved in a plot and tried to poison Pope Alexander VI. Caterina was then captured and imprisoned in Castle de St Angelo for one year.

During a siege of the Castle de St Angelo she strode around the battlements wearing armour over her satin dress. When the besiegers threatened to murder her children, she lifted up her skirts, and bluntly replied, "Look, I've got the mould to make more."

Catarina died in 1509 at the age of 46. Renaissance men referred to Caterina as "the Virago," or woman warrior, for all her accomplishments."

Caterina Sforza in popular culture

An episode from the third season of the Nickelodeon game show Legends of the Hidden Temple was entitled "The Jeweled Scabbard of Sforza." However, in the episode, she was portrayed as the queen of Forlì and extremely skilled with a sword, and the legend only focused on her battle with the Venetians.

A fictionalised version of Caterina Sforza appears in the 2006 film Los Borgia, played by Paz Vega.

A character by the name of Caterina Sforza appears in the manga and anime series Trinity Blood. She is most likely based on her real life historical namesake, as she holds the title of Duchess of Milan.

Sources: Let Them Eat Cake, (1994) Geoffrey Regan

Women's History Resource Site

Wiki Entry

Enditall

06/05/07

Permalink 06:00:14 pm, by Email , 72 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - Jester and Monk

A woman in a red jester's outfit, including a jester's hat with bells, and a black-robed monk wearing sandals, and with a black hood, hold hands as if preparing to dance.

Source: Mumford, Ethel Watts, Herford, Oliver and Mizner, Addison: "The Cynic's Calendar" (1905)

We have also added a peace globe to this week's entry.

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

To view similar images please click here

Enditall
Permalink 12:35:44 am, by Email , 147 words   English (CA)
Categories: British History, Religion and Spirituality

Robert Stephen Hawker - And His Cats

Robert Stephen Hawker 3 December 1803 – 15 August 1875

Robert Stephen Hawker was an idiosyncratic poet, and antiquary who lived in Cornwall during the 19th century.

When attending church, Hawker was usually accompanied by nine or ten cat, which entered the chancel with him, and played around during the service. Whilst saying prayers Hawker would pat, and stroke his kitties, and give them a scratch under their chins.

He normally would bring all ten cats with him until one was found to have killed a mouse during Sunday service. This cat was excommunicated, and banned from going to church with him.

Meow!

Source: Let Them Eat Cake! (1994) By Geoffrey Regan

Further Reading:

The Vicar of Morwenstow (1875) by Sabine Baring-Gould
The Life and Letters of R. S. Hawker (sometime Vicar of Morwenstow)(1906) by C. E. Byles,
Hawker of Morwenstow (2002) by Piers Brendon, Random House
The Wreck at Sharpnose Point (2002) by Jeremy Seal

Enditall

06/04/07

Permalink 04:59:44 pm, by Email , 162 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, British History

The Voice Of Reason

Bronze bust of George Cadbury, British philanthropist, and chocolate maker.

When George V, and Queen Mary visited his chocolate works, George Cadbury led them around on a tour himself. It was very cold, but George removed his hat as a sign of respect while in the presence of her Majesty. Poor man was just recuperating a nasty cold though, and the Queen was concerned that he would take a turn for the worse, and become very sick again.

Queen Mary asked George to please put back on the hat, but he refused. She then ordered him to do so or she would have the King himself command it! George hesitated .....

Until he heard a loud voice coming from behind him saying, "George, put your hat on!" That voice beloged to Elizabeth Cadbury...his wife. He quickly jumped to it, and replaced the hat back on top of his head.


Blue plaque at George Road, Edgbaston

George was a very smart man, indeed!

Enditall

06/02/07

Permalink 08:48:16 pm, by Email , 97 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, Who Am I

Who Am I

The artistic director of the Royal National Theatre in London has called me the best actor of my generation, but in America I am best known as the man on the Infiniti automobile commercials.

I won a Tony award for my role in the 1976 production of Comedians, was the original Engineer in the London production of Miss Saigon, and was the 1995 Cannes Film Festival's choice for best actor for Carrington.

I really hope I am eventually remembered in America as more than just a car salesman.

Who Am I?

Look for the answer in the comment section.

Enditall

06/01/07

Permalink 11:15:20 am, by Email , 428 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, History In The News, British History

Forty Year Anniversary Of Sgt Pepper

Can you believe it has been 40 years? Today is the fortieth anniversary of the release of the iconic Beatles album Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Wow!

Widely regarded as one of - if not the - greatest music albums of modern times, here are some of the BBC provides some interesting stories today about the Fab Four's music. Here are a handful:

* It was the band's eighth album.

* The album was recorded at the famous Abbey Road studios over a 129-day period, at a cost of £25,000.

* Pink Floyd were working on Piper at the Gates of Dawn in the next studio at the same time.

* The idea of making the whole album as if Sgt Pepper was a real band was believed to be Paul McCartney's.

* It was a completely self-contained album which was meant to be played from start to finish.

* One critic described the album as "a decisive moment in the history of Western civilisation".

* Within weeks of the album's release, Jimi Hendrix started performing the title track in concert.

* It was the first rock album to win Grammy Awards for album of the year and best contemporary album.

* Rolling Stone magazine rated it number one in the list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

* Sir Peter Blake designed the front cover. It featured a colourful collage of life-sized cardboard models of famous people, including Marlon Brando and Karl Marx.

* Mae West originally refused to appear on the front cover, but changed her mind after the band wrote to her.

* The initial design was altered, deleting Hitler and Jesus from the image, before the album was released.

* It was rumoured that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was about the drug LSD. Lennon always denied this, insisting it was inspired by a drawing done by his young son, Julian.

* The song was still banned by the BBC.

* The lyrics to John Lennon's Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite were adapted almost word for word from an old circus poster which he bought at an antique shop in Kent.

* McCartney's vocals were sped up for the song When I'm 64 to give it a unique sound.

Full BBC Article Here

As a kid I loved all the mystery, and conspiracy theories surrounding the Sgt Pepper's album, I'd listen to it forward, and try to play it backwards looking for clues to validate the rumour that the "real" Paul had died ... LOL! It was a lot of fun to be a kid in the late sixties, and seventies, and this album in particular brings back some fond memories.

Enditall

05/31/07

Permalink 03:00:36 pm, by Email , 132 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, British History

I Shall Love Thee To Eternity

When he proposed marriage to poet Elizabeth Barrett, poet Robert Browning picked a book at random from the library, and asked the book to predict the future of their love.

The book turned out to be an Italian grammar text, and not particularly promising.

Browning opened the book without looking, and chanced upon a sentence used as a translation exercise: "If we love in the other world as we do in this," the sentence read, "I shall love thee to eternity."

Not only did his wife love him, she wrote her immortal poems, Sonnets from the Portugese for him.

Today is my beloved's 40th Birthday, and while not a great poet such as Elizabeth I do dedicate this entry to him.

Happy Birthday Matthew!

Source: They Did What? By Bob Fenster (c) 2002

Enditall
Permalink 02:52:58 pm, by Email , 211 words   English (CA)
Categories: Period Clothing & Uniforms, Historical Re-enactment

Discount Designer Fabrics For The History Buffs

Many history buffs, and historical re-enactors like Matthew, and myself love to wear period clothing even when we are not re-enacting! It really is a lot of fun, and I personally believe in having fun with everything I wear. Since these types of clothing pieces are not readily available in stores, often many of us learn to purchase patterns, and sew our own. Would you believe me if I told you that Matthew is far better at sewing than I? It's true!

Now to take it even a step farther, many including ourselves love to continue this practice within our own homes, using fabric to recreate historical styles, and eras through drapery, bed coverings, and upholstery that will co-ordinate with our antique or reproduction pieces.

I would now like to take this opportunity to introduce to you gentle readers Design Diva Fabrics, which is an online shop where you can purchase a wide variety of gorgeous interior fabrics, including discount designer upholstery fabric at terrific discount prices.

These beautiful fabrics from brocades, to velvet, to silks, to faux fur, and much more are sold at less than what interior design companies normally pay from them, and I was truly impressed with the selection they are offering.

Our thanks to our sponsor!

Enditall

05/29/07

Permalink 04:40:25 pm, by Email , 117 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - Spadina House

One of my favourite museums, and places to visit in Toronto!

Spadina House (built 1866) is a historic manor on Spadina Road in Toronto, Canada that is now a museum; signs directing traffic and pedestrians to the house now call it Spadina Museum.

It was built by James Austin, founder of The Dominion Bank and Consumers Gas, on land that had previously been owned by Toronto's noted Baldwin family. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century the area was the wealthiest in Toronto, with a number of Toronto's leading families having large estates.

Spadina House Wiki Entry

Spadina Museum

Happy Wordless Wednesday! Thank you for stopping by!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 11:33:00 am, by Email , 149 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In Film & Television, Arts And Culture

Exploring Indian Culture Through Video

I recently discovered the Aapka Video website, which will be of particular interest to our readers that are India based or like us just love, and appreciate Indian culture, and history!

The site is very similar to YouTube, and contains the best in Bollywood, music, places of interest, user generated clips, and a lot more.

I am swiftly becoming hooked on this site, and I think you will definitely enjoy it yourself. All you have to do to join is fill in a short sign-up form.

Currently I have discovered some very interesting video clips on Ghandi who will be the focus of a future blog entry.

Before I sign-off I'd also be remiss if I did not mention that Aapka Video now runs a monthly contest where you can win a free iPod for most popular videos uploaded!

This is a sponsored post. Our thanks to our sponsors!

Enditall

05/28/07

Permalink 06:08:08 am, by Email , 55 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In Film & Television

The Black Adder Pilot Episode

I came across this clip of Black Adder's pilot while surfing through YouTube. I had never seen it before, and thought that other fans of the show might enjoy this clip. Like I've said before this show made history fun, and even my kiddos enjoy them today on DVD.

Cheers!
Sue

Enditall

05/27/07

Permalink 08:18:28 pm, by Email , 62 words   English (CA)
Categories: Who Am I, Religion and Spirituality

Who Am I

I denounced my fellow evangelist, Jim Bakker when a sex scandal rocked his ministry in 1987.

But things got pretty rough for me too. I was forced to humble myself in a tearful confession on television. Why you my ask? Because church officials had been shown a photo of myself visiting a prostitute.

Who Am I?

The answer is in the comments section.

Enditall

05/25/07

Permalink 08:40:03 pm, by Email , 437 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, British History

York Dungeon Museum Treats People With Asbos To Some Old Fashioned Justice

Firstly what is an Asbos you may be wondering? I know I was.

"In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (acronym ASBO, pronounced az-bo) is a civil order made against a person who has been shown to have engaged in anti-social behaviour. In the United Kingdom, this is defined as "conduct which caused or was likely to cause alarm, harassment, or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as him or herself and where an ASBO is seen as necessary to protect relevant persons from further anti-social acts by the Defendant".

I'm thinking this means acts of vandalism, public drunkenness etc...

Anyway on with the news bit:

York Dungeon Museum is offering free admission to people with Asbos so they can see the grisly punishment they would have faced in the 18th Century. Read on:

Bank Holiday weekend visitors who prove they have a current Asbo will be put in the dock to face an old-fashioned "Judgement of Sinners".

People who committed crimes such as graffiti or damaging public buildings in the 1700s were often hanged.

Museum bosses said they hoped the event would shock 21st Century offenders.

Dungeon manager Helen Douglas said: "What we're handing out Asbos for today are exactly the same sort of crimes that people would have been transported or even hanged during the "bloody code" of the 18th Century.

"While I'm by no means advocating a return to the punishments of old, I thought it might shock the Asbo offenders a little to see what would have happened to them a couple of hundred years ago".

More than 200 crimes were punishable by death under the "Bloody Code", which was introduced in 1783.

These included shooting a rabbit, adopting a disguise and impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner.

Hanging was the main form of judicial execution in the UK until its abolition in 1969.

Asbos were introduced in 1999 as part of The Crime and Disorder Act 1998. They were first used in York in 2000.

The Safer York Partnership, which holds the information on the current state of Asbos issued in the city, revealed that almost 75% of the orders were being flouted.

There are currently 41 orders in force and 27 of these have been breached.

Full BBC Article Here

Back in the day people would be sentenced to death by hanging for offences such as:

Stealing a pocket handkerchief

Horse stealing

Damaging a public building

Threatening violence to those in duty of the king

Offences against civilian residents

I'm not certain that the museum's plans to shock offenders will work, but it is a most interesting idea to be sure!

Enditall

05/24/07

Permalink 12:05:06 am, by Email , 231 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Arts And Culture

Ode on the Mammoth Cheese By James McIntyre

A classic in Canadian poetry. Ode on the Mammoth Cheese.

"We have seen the Queen of cheese,
Laying quietly at your ease,
Gently fanned by evening breeze --
Thy fair form no flies dare seize.

All gaily dressed soon you'll go
To the great Provincial Show,
To be admired by many a beau
In the city of Toronto.

Cows numerous as a swarm of bees --
Or as the leaves upon the trees --
It did require to make thee please,
And stand unrivalled Queen of Cheese.

May you not receive a scar as
We have heard that Mr. Harris
Intends to send you off as far as
The great World's show at Paris.

Of the youth -- beware of these --
For some of them might rudely squeeze
And bite your cheek; then songs or glees
We could not sing o' Queen of Cheese.

We'rt thou suspended from baloon,
You'd cast a shade, even at noon;
Folks would think it was the moon
About to fall and crush them soon."

At once perhaps the worst, yet most famed poem in Canadian history, Ode on the Mammoth Cheese was penned by James McIntyre aka The Cheese Poet as inspired by an actual gigantic slab of cheese.

He published two volumes of poetry:

Musings on the Canadian Thames (1884);
Poems of James McIntyre (1889).

Filled with I assure you equally "cheesy" if not VERY humorous poetry. Classics every one!

Enditall

05/22/07

Permalink 03:43:14 pm, by Email , 129 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Going From Here To There, Wordless Wednesday, British History

Wordless Wednesday - The Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark prior to the fire at Greenwich, London

"On the afternoon of Monday, 22nd November, 1869, a beautiful little clipper ship displacing 963 tons was launched from Scott and Linton's shipyard at Dumbarton, on the Clyde. She bcarried a name that was to become famous throughout the world and was destined to win a place in the hearts of British seamen second only to Nelson's immortal Victory. Her name was the Cutty Sark."

And it was with much sadness that we learned she may have been the victim of arsonists. Please see our entry below.

Why do people do such wretched things? It is beyond me!

We wish the trust much success in their attempt to restore her.

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall
Permalink 12:56:21 am, by Email , 143 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, British History, Museums And Historic Sites

Historic Cutty Sark Ravaged By Flames

A fire which swept through the famous 19th Century ship Cutty Sark may have been started deliberately, police say. Read on:

The ship, which was undergoing a £25m restoration, is kept in a dry dock at Greenwich in south-east London.

An area around the 138-year-old tea clipper had to be evacuated when the fire broke out in the early hours.

A Cutty Sark Trust spokesman said much of the ship had been removed for restoration and the damage could have been worse.

Full BBC Article Here

What a horrible tragedy to befall this historic sailing vessel. The Cutty Sark was famed world over, and in fact Matthew had a model of the ship at his boyhood cottage in northern Ontario. We wish the trust all the best in their restoration efforts.

Our thanks to Andy for bringing this sad news to our attention.

Enditall

05/21/07

Permalink 12:01:02 am, by Email , 464 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Kings And Queens, Holidays And Traditions

The History & Purpose Of Victoria Day In Canada

The Sovereign's birthday has been celebrated in Canada since the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901).

May 24, Queen Victoria's birthday, was declared a holiday by the Legislature of the Province of Canada in 1845.

After Confederation, the Queen's birthday was celebrated every year on May 24 unless that date was a Sunday, in which case a proclamation was issued providing for the celebration on May 25.

After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, an Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada establishing a legal holiday on May 24 in each year (or May 25 if May 24 fell on a Sunday) under the name Victoria Day.

The birthday of King Edward VII, who was born on November 9, was by yearly proclamation during his reign (1901-1910) celebrated on Victoria Day.

It was not an innovation to celebrate the birthday of the reigning sovereign on the anniversary of the birth of a predecessor. In Great Britain, the birthdays of George IV (1820-1830) and William IV (1830-1837) were celebrated on June 4, birthday of George III (1760-1820).

The birthday of King George V, who reigned from 1910 to 1935, was celebrated on the actual date, June 3 or, when that was a Sunday, by proclamation on June 4.

The one birthday of King Edward VIII, who reigned in 1936, was also celebrated on the actual date, June 23.

King George VI's birthday, which fell on December 14, was officially celebrated in the United Kingdom on a Thursday early in June. Up to 1947 Canada proclaimed the same day but in 1948 and further years settled on the Monday of the week in which the United Kingdom celebration took place. George VI reigned from 1936 to 1952.

The first birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, in 1952, was also celebrated in June.

Meanwhile, Canada continued to observe Victoria Day. An amendment to the Statutes of Canada in 1952 established the celebration of Victoria Day on the Monday preceding May 25.

From 1953 to 1956, the Queen's birthday was celebrated in Canada on Victoria Day, by proclamation of the Governor General, with Her Majesty's approval. In 1957, Victoria Day was permanently appointed as the Queen's birthday in Canada. In the United Kingdom, the Queen's birthday is celebrated in June.

The Royal Union Flag, commonly known as the "Union Jack" (though it should only be called a "jack" when at sea) where physical arrangements allow, is flown along with the National Flag at federal buildings, airports, military bases and other federal buildings and establishments within Canada, from sunrise to sunset, to mark this day.

Physical arrangements means the existence of at least two flag poles; the Canadian flag always takes precedence and is never replaced by the Union Jack. Where only one pole exists, no special steps should be taken to erect an additional pole to fly the Union Jack for this special day.

Wishing ALL of our Canadian readers a very happy & safe Victoria Day!

Sources: Canadian Heritage

Enditall

05/20/07

Permalink 12:22:45 am, by Email , 183 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Arts And Culture

The Cat's In The Cradle - Harry Chapin

Harry Chapin was one of America's best loved folk singers. His songs told tales of the common man, life's cruel ironies, lost opportunities, and hypocrisies. He had only two mainstream hits, "Taxi" and "Cat's In The Cradle," which you can see him perform in the video clip below.

Although Harry did not see much commercial success he was never in it for the money anyway. When you see current music stars out raising money or speaking on behalf of charities...it was Harry Chapin who pioneered that.

Harry was a charitable performer, and more than half of his shows were benefit concerts. His main cause was to end world hunger.

Harry died on July 17th, 1981 as the result of a car accident at the very early age of 38. The open-air theatre in East Meadow, New York where he was to have performed on the day that he died has since been renamed the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre.

And his legacy lives on ... since his death the Harry Chapin Foundation has raised millions of dollars in support of anti-hunger groups.

Enditall

05/19/07

Permalink 07:10:27 am, by Email , 243 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Science And Technology

The Darwin Correspondence Project

Evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin thought the voyage of the Beagle was a "magnificent scheme" allowing him to spend time "larking round the world". Read on:

His delight at the five-year cruise is chronicled in a letter, available online for the first time.

The note is one of nearly 5,000 from and to the scientist held in a database at the University of Cambridge.

The Darwin Correspondence project includes summaries of a further 9,000 letters, written from the age of 12.

In some of his earliest letters, he recounts talking to his sister Caroline, who had asked him about his personal hygiene.

"I only wash my fe[e]t once a month at school, which I confess is nasty, but I cannot help it, for we have nothing to do it with," he wrote.

Dr Alison Pearn, co-director of the Darwin Correspondence project, says it is insight like this that makes the letters so special.

"I think the human side is what is arresting about the letters," she said. "There is such an interesting and exciting mixture of very cutting-edge science and very personal revelations about his life and family."

Full BBC Article Here

"Darwin was one of the most important figures in the history of science. He changed forever our understanding of life on Earth."

John van Wyhe - Darwin Online

We LOVE projects such as this one that will bring these letters giving greater insight into such an important historical figure like Darwin to the masses!

Enditall

05/18/07

Permalink 09:47:59 am, by Email , 224 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Sports & Sports Entertainment

Arthur Ashe

Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr. July 10, 1943 – February 6, 1993

As a child Arthur Ashe was not allowed to play tennis in the segregated courts of Richmond, Virginia, USA. Instead he learned how to play tennis on a segregated playground, and this is where he developed the skills that were parlayed into a fabulous 12 year career in tennis that included 33 singles, and 18 doubles titles. Arthur was the first African American to win tennis' most prestigious tournaments, the U.S. Open, and Wimbledon.

Arthur eventually became president of the Association of Tennis Proffesionals, and Captain of the Davis Cup team. Under his direction they won two championships.

Arthur Ashe was a millionaire, but one with a very deep social awareness. He became a civil rights activist, fighting for all minorities that were victims of exclusionary practices.

He was the chairman of the American Heart Association, edited many books, and gave generously of time, and money to several charities.

In 1992 he bravely came forward, and told the world that he had AIDS. He devoted the end of his too short life to becoming a role-model for others suffering with this disease, and helping to raise $5 million dollars on behalf of his foundation.

Arthur Ashe passed away at age 49 from complications of AIDS.

Further Reading:

Arthur Ashe Wiki entry

Where Are They Buried, How Did They Die By Tod Benoit (c) 2003

Enditall
Permalink 09:21:39 am, by Email , 117 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Museums And Historic Sites

China Celebrates International Museum Day

Today is International Museum Day in China. Children of migrant workers in the Chinese capital have been invited to visit the Forbidden City free of charge on May 18th.

The Palace Museum wants to give migrant workers' children a chance to visit the historic site as a way of thanking their parents for their contribution to Beijing's urban development, said an official from the museum's information and education department.

Five hundred students and teachers from Xingzhi Primary School in Haidian District will be among the first to be invited. But the museum didn't say how many children in total will be invited.

The Forbidden City has a strong cultural, and historical significance in China.

Image Credit: BBC

Enditall

05/17/07

Permalink 12:31:38 pm, by Email , 132 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In Film & Television

Black Adder

I think you would be hard pressed to find any television program that made history more FUN than my all time favourite Black Adder!

Above is just one of my favourite clips involving Baldrick from Blackadder II.

I admit that my personal preference of all the series is the second, probably something to do with Miranda Richardson's brilliant performance of Elizabeth I. However, my absolute favourite episode is from series three: Sense and Senility

I'll see if I can find a clip from that one! And of course actor Hugh Laurie is brilliant as the Prince of Wales in that particular series as well.

If you are were a fan, please do leave a comment.

And remember"when the going gets tough, the tough hide under the table."

Enditall

05/16/07

Permalink 12:50:45 am, by Email , 94 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, British History

Wordless Wednesday - Ragland Castle

The Keep of Ragland Castle, Monmouthshire. Drawn by H. Gastineau. Engraved by H. Aldard.

“The siege and capture of Ragland Castle, by Fairfax, in August, 1646, A. D., when the library, containing a great treasure of MSS., was destroyed, has been the subject of much lamentation; and the opprobrium of the deed has been laid (as is usual) upon Oliver Cromwell, who was not in the least concerned in it.”

Source: Woodward, B. B.: “History of Wales” (1853)

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

To view similar images please click here

Enditall

05/15/07

Permalink 12:50:47 am, by Email , 202 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, British History

Church moves in mysterious ways

According to a recent BBC article a "portable" church in West Yorkshire is on the move - for the second time in its history.

St James's Church in Baildon is a wooden tongue-and-groove structure which was transported 200 miles from Essex on a traction engine in 1904.

Now the Grade II listed building is moving a mere 23 metres as part of a £750,000 refurbishment project.

The move will allow a new meeting room to be built and a biblical-themed garden created around it.

The garden will contain many plants and trees mentioned in the bible such as palm, fig, olive and a Cedar of Lebanon. There will be benches nearby and plaques depicting the relevant biblical verses.

There will also be a wildflower meadow and a water feature representing the Jordan Valley - with different pools symbolising the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.

Full BBC Article Here

The proposed plans sound lovely, and we wish them luck in their move. Some historians disapprove of this type of uprooting, but I believe it is far better to move a site, then to see it destroyed by a wrecking ball. The latter being an all too common, and sad fate of many unique buildings here in Canada.

Enditall

05/14/07

Permalink 06:12:52 pm, by Email , 19 words   English (CA)
Categories: General

Thank You Blog Mad Surfers!

Thank you Blog Mad surfers for voting this blog, Blog Mad's blog of the day yesterday! We appreciate it ... :)

Blog Mad Rank

Enditall
Permalink 06:38:18 am, by Email , 84 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Sports & Sports Entertainment, Who Am I

Who Am I

In 1969 I was a star quarterback at the University of Alabama. And I became the highest paid rookie in professional football history at the time, signing a whopping $400,000 contract!

Yeah, I RAWKED!!!

I orchestrated a stunning victory for my team, The New York Jets, over The Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl!

Told ya I RAWKED!!!

I believe I am also the only quarterback in history to appear in a TV commercial wearing women's panty hose.

Look for the answer in the comment section.

Enditall

05/13/07

Permalink 12:24:24 am, by Email , 484 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Holidays And Traditions

Happy Mother's Day - A History Of The Holiday

The first North American Mother’s Day was conceptualized with Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Despite having penned The Battle Hymn of the Republic 12 years earlier, Howe had become so distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War that she called on Mother’s to come together and protest what she saw as the futility of their Sons killing the Sons of other Mothers. With the following, she called for an international Mother's Day celebrating peace and motherhood:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
Say firmly:

"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of
charity, mercy and patience.

"We women of one country
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have of ten forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war.

Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions.
The great and general interests of peace.

At one point Jarvis even proposed converting July 4th into Mother’s Day, in order to dedicate the nation’s anniversary to peace. Eventually, however, June 2nd was designated for the celebration. In 1873 women’s groups in 18 North American cities observed this new Mother’s holiday. Howe initially funded many of these celebrations, but most of them died out once she stopped footing the bill. The city of Boston, however, would continue celebrating Howe’s holiday for 10 more years.

Despite the decided failure of her holiday, Howe had nevertheless planted the seed that would blossom into what we know as Mother’s Day today.

Source: The Complete History Of Mother's Day

Wishing All Mom's A Wonderful, and Very Happy Mother's Day!

Enditall

05/12/07

Permalink 07:20:34 pm, by Email , 206 words   English (CA)
Categories: Folklore And Superstitions, European History

The Story Of William Tell.....


Statue of William Tell, and his son, Switzerland

The story of William Tell is just that....a story. This hero of the late 13th century simply did not exist. He did not shoot an apple off of his son's head. He did not aid the Swiss in gaining their independence from Austria. Nor did he insult an Austrian official named Gessler. No Austrian official by that name existed either.

The story is simply made up. Probably by a Swiss patriot in the late 15th century.

So why then is the story of William Tell told as if it actually happened? Why did the Swiss build a chapel where this fictitious character supposedly once lived? And why for centuries did the Swiss citizenry making annual pilgrimages to the location where Tell it was told evaded his Austrian captors?

I'm guessing because they could?

Kind of like the United States with Plymouth Rock ...the pilgrims didn't land there, but it makes for a good story.

The Swiss do take the William Tell story very seriously. And believe it or not there have been folklorists threatened with death for questioning or doubting the historicity of it.

Source: Legends, Lies, & Cherished Myths of World History, by Richard Shenkman (c) 1993

Enditall

05/11/07

Permalink 04:12:27 pm, by Email , 216 words   English (CA)
Categories: War And Conflict, History In The News, European History, Religion and Spirituality

Catholic Scholar Defends Pope Pius

From The BBC:

A senior Catholic scholar has defended the Vatican's decision to put Pope Pius XII, who led the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958, on the road to sainthood. Pope Pius has long been accused by Jewish groups and scholars of turning a blind eye to the fate of the Jews.

A Vatican commission of cardinals and bishops unanimously voted this week for him to be considered for beatification. Professor Peter Gumpel said there was no truth in any of the allegations raised about the late Pope.

He said that, as far as he was concerned, the objections that had been raised over the years had now been researched and discounted.

"The case against Pius has been studied at length and in detail by many serious and independent scholars," said Professor Gumpel, a German Jesuit who contributed to the commission's work.

"I would not have signed the research papers that we put forward to the commission if I believed there was any truth behind the objections or allegations that were raised."

Full BBC Article Here

I am left to wonder why then did Pope Pius abstain from signing the Allied Declaration condemning the extermination of the Jews? Perhaps the Vatican's willingness to share information found in it's pre-war archives will explain this once, and for all.

Enditall

05/10/07

Permalink 12:11:37 am, by Email , 262 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Historical Recipes

From The Cook Not Mad - Steamed Carrot Pudding

"The Cook Not Mad" is a recipe book first published in Canada in 1831. I believe it can claim to be Canada's first cookbook!

Here is a pudding recipe that the more adventurous of you may wish to try out. I admit I'm not that adventurous, rather I am, but I'm too lazy a cook as opposed to a mad one to try it out.

Steamed Carrot Pudding

1 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup mixed candied fruit
1/4 cup blanched, slivered almonds
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup finely grated carrot
1 cup finely grated raw potato

Combine the fruits and nuts, and sift over them the flour, salt, soda, and spices. Stir well, to coat the fruit, then add the grated carrot, and potato. Cream the shortening, brown sugar, and egg until light, and fluffy. Stir the flour, and fruit mixture into it, until just well blended. Butter a one, and a half quart mould, or coffee can, and spoon in the batter. Cover tightly with buttered aluminum foil, heavy duty, and steam on a rack in one inch of boiling water, covered, for three hours. Serve hot with Brandy Sauce

Brandy Sauce

1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp. brandy or to taste (could substitute with brandy extract, but I say go for the realism)

Combine cornstarch and sugar in a saucepan. add coffee, cook, and stir until thick, and clear. Remove from heat, and add butter. Cool, and add brandy. Serve warm with pudding.

Enditall

05/09/07

Permalink 12:00:54 am, by Email , 34 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, British History

Wordless Wednesday - Reading Abbey, Berkshire

Engraving of Reading Abbey, Berkshire, England dated 1773

Source: Grose, Francis: “The Antiquities of England and Wales” (1783)

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

To view similar images please click here

Enditall

05/07/07

Permalink 06:03:37 pm, by Email , 451 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Folklore And Superstitions, British History

Earthquakes As Omens Of Doom

People no longer regard natural phenomena as omens of doom but they may not be any more sensible, Lisa Jardine writes. Read on:

We are used to turning on the radio to a report that a natural disaster has struck in some far away part of the world - a major earthquake has occurred in San Francisco, Los Angeles or Mexico City, along the San Andreas fault; a Tsunami threatens Indonesia, where four tectonic plates jostle one other off the coast of Sumatra.

The recent report of a sizeable earthquake which had rocked parts of Kent, damaging buildings and disrupting electricity supplies, was alarmingly closer to home. It was not, however, an unheard of event for the south of England.

At six o'clock on the evening of 6 April 1580, Gabriel Harvey - the self-important Cambridge Professor of Rhetoric, and friend of poet Edmund Spenser - was at the home of a gentleman friend in Essex, playing cards.

Without warning, everything around them began to rattle and pulsate. "The earth under us quaked," he reported, "and the house shaked above; besides the moving and rattling of the table and forms [benches] where we sat."

Concentrating as he was on the rather good hand he had been dealt, Harvey claims at first to have thought the effect was caused by noisy footsteps in an upstairs room. His host, however, soon came "stumbling into the Parlour, somewhat strangely affrighted, and in a manner all aghast", to tell them that he and all his servants had experienced a violent motion of the entire building.

Sending out to the nearest town, he had been informed that an earthquake had indeed taken place, causing extensive damage on either side of the English Channel.

The ladies present professed themselves "never so scared in their life". "I beseech you heartily," said one of them, "let us leave off playing, and fall a praying".

Superstitious riff-raff

Gabriel Harvey would have none of it. In characteristically professorial fashion, he proceeded to sit the household down and give them a stern lecture on how there was always a rational explanation for alarming natural phenomena.

He denounced the superstitious riff-raff who saw in every violent storm, comet, eclipse or earthquake a divine portent of some punishment about to befall the human race. He argued - at some length - that although the earthquake was clearly an act of God, it could still be explained in purely natural terms.

Although his science was limited, he made a stab at explaining the 'exhalations of wind' from beneath the earth's surface, which had given rise to it.


Full BBC Article Here

An interesting read that demonstrates how far we have come in our thinking, and again how far we seemingly have not!

Enditall

05/06/07

Permalink 09:21:38 am, by Email , 142 words   English (CA)
Categories: British History

The Magic Flute

John Bunyan in Bedford Gaol

Tradition holds that John Bunyan wrote the Pilgrim's Progress in Bedford Gaol, while imprisoned for the crime of holding a religious service not in conformity with the Church of England. Bunyan spent twelve years in Bedford Gaol for that offense, which helps to explain why nonconformists liked to emigrate to America when they could.

To pass away the gloomy hours of imprisonment John took a rail out of the stool that was put in his cell, and with his knife fashioned it into a flute.

The keeper heard the music, and followed it to it's source. Whilst the keeper unlocked the door John quickly put the newly made flute back into the stool.

Each time the jailers heard the music, John would quickly hide his flute, and they never did discover where the mysterious music came from.

Enditall

05/04/07

Permalink 09:00:13 am, by Email , 68 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, Who Am I

Who Am I?

I was the great granddaughter of Henry VII, and was famous for my beauty, piety, and intelligence.

After Edward VI died on July 6th 1553, I very reluctantly accepted the crown, and was proclaimed Queen. Alas, my reign lasted only 9 days, after which the Lord Mayor of London replaced me, proclaiming Mary Tudor queen.

I was executed on Tower Green in 1554.

Look for the answer in the comment section.

Enditall

05/03/07

Permalink 11:14:07 pm, by Email , 120 words   English (CA)
Categories: General

Temporarily Cannot Leave Comments Here

Unfortunately dear readers someone has hacked and "defeated" our spam killer... sort of...

If you try to leave a comment, it will tell you that you messed up... even if you haven't!

So we decided to try removing the spam-bot killer and GUESS WHAT!?!

Within literally FIVE MINUTES, we had spam in the comments section!

Matthew is tracing IPs, trying to restore whatever the heck they messed up, and generally being VERY grumpy and reconsidering our stance on strict gun control when it comes to these creeps.

BEAR WITH US, we'll get the blogs back up and running PROPERLY as soon as possible...

ADDENDUM: Comments are now fixed! Please do leave us a comment or two ... we enjoy your feedback!

Enditall
Permalink 12:33:43 am, by Email , 239 words   English (CA)
Categories: What If

What If The United States Had Never Been Founded?

Earlier today I was reading a rather interesting BBC article that was loosely based around this question: "Let's say you didn't need to regret the founding of America, because it had never been founded. How different might our lives look?"

The article led me to recall a bit of discussion that took place a couple of months ago over at the Spicy Cauldron in regards to historical event "what ifs." It was lively, and produced much food for thought.

There are the obvious biggies like what if, JFK had not been assassinated, Nazi Germany winning WWII, and the Roman Empire never having ended as all Empires tend to do. However, you could ponder the "what ifs" of any historical event no matter how seemingly insignificant with very interesting results.

Playing the "what if" game could produce some creative, and fun writing fodder, but I'm not certain if the scope of this blog is suited to that type of exercise just yet. We'll just have to see, we the writers, and you the readers if we decide to pursue it, and stretch our imaginations a bit.

At this time I will not speculate the "what if" the United States had never been founded, but I will say this as a Canadian, despite his faults I am very fond of my little rebellious brother to the south, and I am happy for his existence, warts, toads in the pocket, and all!

Enditall

05/02/07

Permalink 12:22:38 am, by Email , 64 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, British History

Wordless Wednesday - Leycester Hospital

Artist Ernest Haslehust (1866 – 1949)

These buildings mostly date from the 1570s. The site previously belonged to the Guild of the Holy Trinity and St George, which was formed in 1383. This building has been used as a setting in a number of television films including Pride and Prejudice.

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

To view similar artwork please click here

Enditall

05/01/07

Permalink 12:28:56 am, by Email , 162 words   English (CA)
Categories: General

Disclosure Policy Regarding Sponsored Postings

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. The owner believes in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for some posts or advertisements, the owner always gives honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

Enditall

04/30/07

Permalink 12:44:13 am, by Email , 448 words   English (CA)
Categories: Loons Throughout History, European History

Romanian President Ceausescu and Colonel Corbu

To say that Nicolai Ceausescu was a loon is an understatement to say the least. History has recorded him an absolute nut with good cause. While the body of this entry will only list one example of his lunacy I can assure you gentle readers there is much, much more....

Emperor Caligula briefly controlled the Roman Empire from AD 37-41. He too was quite mad, and has in historical articles been compared with Ceausescu. This is probably why. Caligula at one time named his horse a Roman Senator, while Ceausescu appointed his black Labrador dog named Corbu a colonel in the Romanian army.

Colonel Corbu was often seen riding about in the back of his limousine through the streets of Bucharest with his very own motorcade. The Ambassador from Britain wrote, "I saw this black dog sitting all on it's own in the back of a Dacia, looking rather pompous with it's nose in the air, as black Labradors often do."

Security surrounding the colonel was very tight. A statement made by one of the maids explains, "The secret police told us never to feed the dogs. There was a special doctor who checked the food - it was the best sort of meat. Only when the doctor had tasted the food could they be fed."

Corbu was spoiled as well. The Romanian Ambassador in Britain was under strict orders to go to Sainsbury's every week to purchase Winalot, and British dog biscuits for the colonel. These were then shipped back to Romania via the diplomatic bag.

One day Colonel Corbu accompanied the President on a visit to the Brancovenesc Hospital. The hospital, which treated up to 50,000 Romanians per year was infested with rats, and to keep down the rodent population the medical facility employed the use of cats. Upon entering the hospital the colonel spotted one of these cats, and did what all dogs do naturally...he gave chase. A fight between dog, and cat ensued with the cat coming out victorious having bloodied the colonel's nose.

President Ceausescu was furious, I mean how dare this lowly cat assault a colonel in his army! As they drove away in a huff the staff at the hospital knew that Ceausescu would never let this go without punishment. And they were right within days came an official order to shut the hospital down permanently, after all the colonel had been attacked!

In December of 1989 President Ceausescu was violently overthrown, captured while trying to flee Romania with his equally nutty wife, tried, convicted, and executed for crimes against his people. Romania is still in many ways recovering from the tyranny of this nutcase.

Source: Let Them Eat Cake, By Geoffrey Regan (c) 1994

Enditall

04/29/07

Permalink 11:55:55 am, by Email , 197 words   English (CA)
Categories: Loons Throughout History, Kings And Queens, European History

Peter the Great of Russia

Tsar Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov - Reign: 7 May 1682 - 8 February 1725

Peter the Great is remembered for his modernization through western influence of Russia, creating a vast, and great empire. He was also in many regards a rather colourful character.

Peter conducted a grand tour of Europe between 1696 and 1698. His often dictatorial behaviour was not always well received in more progressively democratic European countries.

Here is an interesting snippet on Peter's thoughts towards control of crowds, of which he did not appreciate.

During his visit to to Holland Peter created quite a stir amongst the populace, and naturally the people wished to view him. When invited for a dinner party at the Hague with King William a large crowd assembled in order to watch both Kings dining. The congestion was so great that Peter offered to decapitate a few of them in order to lessen the gathering. After all he stated, that is what I would do in Russia. William apparently politely refused this offer.

As I said above Peter the Great had some rather interesting notions on many things, and you can be sure that we will be visiting more of these on this blog in the very near future.

Enditall

04/28/07

Reproduction vs. Reality - Of stitch counters and rivet counters...

From the desk of Matthew Double-Decker-Bus-Guy Didier...

History, for Sue and myself... and our whole family... is more than just a subject, it literally is a part of our lives in what we do aside from those things that earn our daily bread.

As some of you may (or may not) be aware, we are also "living historians"... re-enactors... people who put on funny clothes and pretend to be in a time which they ain't.

Our era of "choice" is the early nineteenth-century in Upper Canada... the War of 1812 to be precise. Both Sue and I are "kitted out" and although we haven't been able to be as big a part of things over the last four years as we'd like to be, we do keep our fingers in the pie, so to speak, with an eye to returning at some point in the not-so-distant future.

Through this hobby, one gets to dress, drill, camp, and even eat like it's the period which they portray at historic sites relevant to the era... of course within limits of modern hygene, safety, and whatnot... but to the "outward appearance", it's about as true to 1812 - 1815 as one can get.

It's a great family friendly hobby... until one bumps into The Stitch Counters.

That tunic! It's not made of the RIGHT type of wool! The red is at least two shades off, the stitching was done by a machine and...

Those shoes... are those RUBBER soles on those shoes????

...and my favourite...

You! You have a moustache and beard! That's NOT PROPER!

Yes, The Stitch Counters... they not only ask for but DEMAND authenticity.

Now, I'm all for this... to a degree... but they have a problem sorting out "hobby" from "way of life". (Side Note: I often qualify certain sci-fi fans this way... those that understand 'X' movie or TV show was an entertaining production and those that get confused and think they are a way of life...)

...meanwhile, back from digressing...

I can understand avoiding nylon as an 1812 re-enactor... we deal with a lot of things involving fire... camp fires, flash-pan sparks, etc., and nylon would be highly dangerous... so nylon tunics and pants would be bad... and we all should SOMEWHAT match... despite, historically, this not being the case. In 1812, they TRIED to keep everyone "uniform", but due to equipment troubles, wear-and-tear, it never really worked out that way... some soldiers being described as "nearly naked" for lack of provisions...

Still, this doesn't deter The Stitch Counters.

They dictate the amount of stitches on the tunic and pants (BY HAND) and colour (as someone who in youth worked at a paint store, WE didn't demand as exact matching) and whatnot.

Then there's the anachronistic free encampments... this I totally understand. When the public visits an encampment, there should be NO modern things visible. They should feel as if they've stepped back in time when they wander through... which is fine... but The Stitch Counters WINCE when they see someone using an inflatable bed in their tent (despite it being well hidden by wool blankets) or if they catch a small peek of a food-cooler's corner from inside a tent... this sends them into spasms of anger.

Then there's my beard and moustache (and I'm not alone!)

There's FACIAL HAIR in MY line! My life is RUINED!

The LINE!

Bollocks.

Now, it's true... facial hair was frowned upon (but not unknown) in the armies way back then... problem is, for me and others, the beard and 'stache are more than a fashion statement. I have a "young face". Last time I shaved, I was asked for I.D. to prove I was over eighteen to purchase cigarettes! (I'm forty right now...) So, without the beard and moustache, I look like a VERY young man. This is a good thing really... except in business where I need to be accepted as a professional... and sadly, too many won't accept a "very young man" as a professional... hence my facial hair.

However, I have actually heard (and read) where indeed, The Stitch Counters moan and complain that people like me have RUINED their experience!

(...this despite me finding a historical fellow in one of my regiments who did indeed sport a beard...)

Here's my take on all this...

#1: I'd love to be 100% authentic... but safety and real life must come first. Nylons and plastics are unsafe... wool is the order of the day... amongst other things... and my facial hair... if I'm dressed in my "red coat", is it not possible that a soldier in line forgot to shave one day and had a bad "face-hair" day?

#2: If safety is met and the veneer is good that the other re-enactors and the public "can't tell", what's the harm? Can a Stitch Counter truly say that he or she can tell my tunic was sewn by a machine while in line of battle?

I admire The Stitch Counters... and sure, it would be interesting if we could experience the period "perfectly"... but all things within measure and reason.

The 1812-ers are head and shoulders above The Society for Creative Anachronism who dress in late-Medieval/early-Renaissance garb for their outtings... but deftly avoid the issues of lack of personal hygiene of the period, illnesses (most notably, the plague), whacky-diet, caste-system, et al of the REAL period... in fact, the line from Monty Python's The Holy Grail springs to mind with these folks...

Da Boyz

Dead-Gatherer: Who's that then?
Peasant: I don't know.
Dead-Gatherer: Must be a king.
Peasant: Why?
Dead-Gatherer: He hasn't got sh*t all over him.

...anyway, back in 1812... as most of you, I would assume, are simply "The Viewing Public" to events like this... would YOU care if one of the fellows in that scarlet line isn't wearing wool socks?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Oh, and did you believe that I only have run into The Stitch Counters in my travels and hobbies?

Nope.

Enter The Rivet Counters.

You folks know that our whole family are trying to "rescue" an old double-decker bus, right?

If not, please click here.

Anyway, did you know there is a contingent who are ACTIVELY working against us?

There are!

The Rivet Counters are those in the "bus enthusiast" realm who believe that all antique buses must be perfectly preserved to their original form and must be in their country of origin... England.

Yup, we are not worthy or capable of the ownership of our bus as we will most likely not replace every broken or non-working item with an exact duplicate of the original... right down to the seat-fabric.

In their eyes, and they'll rarely publicly admit this, a bus is better scrapped then in the hands of someone who'd make an effort to restore it in some fashion... especially those of us outside their birth country of England! We're the worst! Just ask 'em!

Now, again, I understand their point of view... they truly don't want to see these buses scrapped (which is often the fate of the buses in North America due to the rarity of parts and expense involved in maintaining them) and they don't wish to see the "original versions" more-or-less destroyed in the quest for convenience and functionality for the new owner(s).

The trouble is, in our case, for example, there ARE historically preserved examples of model of bus in England... several of them actually... so it's not like our's is truly "one of a kind" except to us.

Secondly, if we don't do something, it's not like the current owner in California is going to suddenly ship the bus home to waiting hands of loving new owners who will look after and perfectly historically preserve her... she's far more likely to end up as a four-by-four cube of semi-recyclable materials in a wrecking yard.

...but, again, to some this is "preferable" to us possibly putting a rivet in the wrong place or fixing the seats with a "different colour" of fabric. (I kid you not.)

I got into these whackos faces and said their attitude reminds me of the Bedouins suddenly demanding the return of ALL Arabian horses because the rest of us don't know how to look after and maintain them.

The logic of "better running and in shape and being looked after than scrapped" is alien to these folks....

Rivet Counters, meet The Stitch Counters.

I will be totally honest... I LOVE real history... I LOVE "authentic" vs. "reproduction"... I don't want a historic site to become a Disney village...

...but I'm also a realist.

I'd rather see a Disney village on a historic site then it bulldozed for a strip mall... at least it would be SOMEWHAT preserved...

...and to be honest, since "hand stitching" my tunic would cost me more than a used compact car and since our bus will be most likely scrapped before it's shipped to England to act as a museum piece, I think I'll take my middle-ground views.

Before leaving you to ponder these historic purists, allow me to impart ONE last thing...

In the War of 1812 mailgroup, I got into it with a muckee-muck about the re-enacting community about my beard... and he stuck to his DEMANDING historical perfection.

I responded thusly...

Sir, since you're so stuck on historical accuracy at events, pray that I do not find you using the "modern conveniences" like the toilets at the next event we're at together or I shall call you out!

It amused many of the other more realistic folks in our hobby!

Enditall

04/26/07

Permalink 04:16:33 pm, by Email , 248 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture

Victor Borge - The Clown Prince of Denmark

January 3, 1909 – December 23, 2000

Victor Borge was a child prodigy in his native Denmark, and his phenomenal musical career as a pianist spanned a whopping 75 years! However, Victor perhaps is best remembered for his crazy sense of humour, which he incorporated brilliantly into his act.

By his early twenties Victor was already a sensation, and well known for his film, and stage performances throughout Scandinavia. Unafraid to use comedy to speak his mind he quickly ended up on Nazi Germany's blacklist for poking fun at Hitler, and his sharp anti-Nazi barbs.

Thankfully, and by fluke he managed to get on board the last American passenger ship to leave Europe in 1940.

Safely in the United States, Victor learned English through watching various B rated movies. When he was confident in this new language he worked on his act, honing his skills in night clubs, concert halls, and finally Carnegie Hall to the delight of audiences.

Victor admitted that his comedy antics were a mixture of stage fright, and a loathing of the pompous attitudes found in some concert musicians. And if anyone had earned the right to be conceited, (but was not) it was Victor. His skills as a concert pianist were flawless, and effortless. Victor appeared with the world's most prestigious orchestras, and averaged over 100 performances a year well into his eighties.

An outstanding performer, and talented musician who had the ability to make people belly laugh. The world needs more such as Victor Borge.

This entry is for Matthew

Enditall

04/25/07

Permalink 10:31:20 pm, by Email , 156 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, British History

York England To Become World Heritage Site

The historic walled city of York has taken the first step towards becoming a World Heritage site.

Matthew, and I are both looking forward to visiting the historic city of York, so this news is of particular interest to us. Read on:

Councillors have voted to carry out a public consultation and government assessment which could see the old city put on a shortlist of UK candidates.

Tourism managers say the accolade would boost York's international profile and help preserve its rich heritage.

Yorkshire already boasts two World Heritage Sites - Fountains Abbey near Ripon and Saltaire village in Bradford.

The council's decision to explore the pros and cons of World Heritage Site status was prompted by the Lord Mayor of York, Janet Hopton, who set up a working group.

Full BBC Article Here

We wish the city of York all the best in their bid, and think they are a most worthy location for this distinction.

Enditall

04/24/07

Permalink 07:40:54 pm, by Email , 41 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, Folklore And Superstitions, European History

Wordless Wednesday - Bran Castle

Bran Castle also known as "Dracula's Castle" is located in Romania, and was originally a stronghold built by the Knights of Teutonic Order in 1212.

See also: Vlad III The Impaler

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

04/23/07

Permalink 12:16:46 am, by Email , 626 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture

Charlie Chaplin - The Little Tramp



Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, Jr - April 16, 1889 – December 25, 1977

Charlie Chaplin was born across the pond in England, but built his highly successful film career in the United States Of America. Over the course of his lifetime Charlie made some 80 films, and often in his most famous role as the "Little Tramp" or "Charlot" in France he elevated slapstick humour to artistic genius. This is evidenced by his immense popularity that continues on even today.

In 1915 the now legendary "The Tramp" was released, and set a new benchmark in comedy. For his role Charlie had been given the task of assembling something "funny" to wear. He chose pants that had belonged to Fatty Arbuckle, size fourteen shoes, and placed them on the wrong feet, a derby, a tight-fitting coat, prop cane, and phoney moustache to complete the odd-ball look. Charlie tossed into the mix a shuffling sort of gait, and with this a new comic character was born, much to the delight of millions!

Chaplin and famed child star Jackie Coogan, in The Kid (1921)

Through the 1920's Chaplin continued to make several short, classic films.This decade also saw what is speculated as one of his best feature length films "The Gold Rush."

By the 1930's the silent film era had ended, and talkies became the rage amongst film-goers, but Charlie stayed true to his art, and his films were still amongst the top-grossing of this period in motion picture history.

Much has been written about Charlie's love life, but I have decided to concentrate on his artistic merits, achievements, and ideals within this article instead of focusing on that area of his life.

Many of Chaplin's films were considered left of centre such as "The Idle Class" (1921) this coupled with his refusal to accept US citizenship brought him much undesirable attention from paranoid US officials. They began compiling a file on the beloved "Little Tramp" and with the release of "Modern Times" a penetrating look at the alienation of capitalism, and "The Great Dictator" a satire of Adolph Hitler that's humour was lost on J. Edgar Hoover (Director of FBI), he was branded as a "Hollywood Bolsheviki," and undesirable.

Charlie was a marked man, and in a currently inexcusable brand of harassment in 1952, had his re-entry visa to the United States revoked after a brief visit to London. FBI documents of the era show that there was a huge effort put into deporting Charlie, with clearly no evidence to support his visa's revocation.

Chaplin chose not to fight it, and ended up moving to Switzerland. He did get a revenge of sorts through his film "The King In New York" (1957) which took a hard, satirical look at the House Committee On Un-American Activities, but the US government had broken him.

Charlie did return very briefly to the US in 1972 to receive a special Academy Award to honour his incalculable contributions on films "the art form of the century." And in 1975 received a knighthood from his native England.

Charlie died on Christmas day 1977, and was buried overlooking Lake Geneva in Switerzerland .....but was not there for very long....

In a very odd bit of crime trivia, Chaplin's body was dug up, and kidnapped for ransom in 1978 by two would-be criminal "geniuses." A few weeks after Charlie's coffin was stolen with him in it, his widow Oona received a ransom demand of $600,000 dollars. Oona contacted police, and with her assistance they were able to capture the criminals. Chaplin, and coffin were found in a corn-field about ten miles away, and were returned to it's original location, only this time housed in a concrete vault.

Our thanks to Andy for suggesting this entry, which is dedicated to him.

Further Online Reading:

Charlie Chaplin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chaplin - Official Website

Enditall

04/22/07

Permalink 12:02:22 am, by Email , 171 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Book Reviews

Pride and Prejudice is voted #1 book in Britain

Keira Knightley stars in the film version of Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has been voted the book Britain can't live without. Read on:

A survey to mark World Book Day puts Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien in second place, followed by Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.

The Bible is ranked sixth in the list, two places above Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy - considered by many to carry an anti-religious theme.

The results were from an online survey of more than 2,000 book lovers.

JK Rowling's Harry Potter books came fourth, ahead of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights was voted seventh, while His Dark Materials and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four tied for eighth place.

The top 10 is completed by Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Full BBC Article Here

This top 10 list is a delight to all those that appreciate the classics, which gave such a strong showing by the voters, and demonstrates their importance, and relevance to the contemporary reader.

Enditall

04/21/07

Permalink 12:18:19 am, by Email , 1761 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, Heroic Women, Book Reviews

Jane Eyre Vs. Victorian Women

Jane Eyre is a classic romance novel by Charlotte Brontë which was published in 1847 by Smith, Elder & Company, London, and is one of the most famous British novels.

Charlotte Brontë first published the book as Jane Eyre: An Autobiography under the pseudonym Currer Bell, and it was an instant success, earning the praise of many reviewers, including William Makepeace Thackeray, to whom Charlotte Brontë dedicated her second edition.

Introduction: Jane Eyre Vs. Victorian Women

After reading the classic novel, Jane Eyre, I found myself interested in the lives of Victorian women. They lived during a time when women were thought to be inferior to men. They usually did not attend school, almost always married, and rarely worked. The novel of course follows the life of Jane Eyre, who is a living contrast of what Victorian society thought a woman should be. Jane is of lower class, is well educated, and working as a governess. Not to mention she is passionate, outspoken, and opinionated. These qualities deem her unfeminine, and a social outcast. The novel description perfectly calls it “…a passionate search for a wider, and richer life than that traditionally accorded to her sex in Victorian society”

Victorian Women and Education

In the novel Jane is sent to an all girls’ school for orphaned children. Typically in the Victorian era, most females did not attend school. This is because women were only expected to marry, have children, and maintain their household. They were taught of domestic duties only to ensure that they would make appealing wives in the future. (Elizabeth Horany, Women in Education) Usually only the lower class women attended school because they were more likely going to have to earn their own livings by working in the future. This is why the heroine in the novel, Jane Eyre, is sent to school to learn (aside from the fact that her Aunt no longer wanted to be burdened with her of course). After being orphaned at a young age and left in the care of her evil Aunt Reed, Jane had nobody to take care of her in the world, which was hard considering most Victorian women relied heavily on their families, and or husbands for support. She put all her time, and effort into her school work because ultimately she had nothing else. While most of her fellow Victorian females were being readied for suitors, Jane studied subjects such as French, English, and Art. The fact that Jane can read, and write separates her from most of the other ladies of her time.

Victorian Women and Marriage

Almost all women in Victorian society married at some point in their lives. This is because from the time they were born, they were raised to become wives. Parents would force their daughters into marrying wealthy men who were titled when possible in order to bring their family higher status. If they refused to marry, they would usually be shunned from their family, and forced to live on the streets. (Melissa Moore, Why Victorian Women Married) As I stated before, most females did not attend school, and therefore could not work. They needed husbands for financial support and protection. When Jane Eyre is confronted with the idea of marriage she is hesitant. This is because Victorian husbands had absolute power over their wives. By law husbands controlled all of their money, owned all of their possessions, and had complete custody over their children. Jane did not want to marry until she knew that she would be an equal with her husband. “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty, and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: - it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at gods feet, equal- as we are!”(Jane Eyre, PG 284) Here Jane exclaims to Mr. Rochester that they are equals. Unlike most Victorian women, equality was an issue that weighed heavy on Jane’s heart. Ultimately by the end of the novel, she marries because she no longer fears inequality between herself and Mr. Rochester.

Women’s Roles in Society

A Victorian Woman’s role in society was very clear - they married and took care of their families. They were responsible for looking after their household, which included instructing her servants and throwing dinner parties that would bring her family status and reputation. (Oscar Trejo, Domesticity). They were responsible for seeing to their children’s welfare. Her sons would need to be well educated, and her daughters brought up to the social standards of the era. She would need to make sure that her husband was always pleased with her by satisfying all of his many needs. Women were not recognized in politics or world affairs. Their lives were dedicated to their families, and that alone. This is why Victorian women were often described as bored and unsatisfied. Jane Eyre was different though. She did not have a family to look after or a household to maintain. She lived as an independent, and saw to her own needs only. She lived her life differently than most women and was looked down upon for it.

Social Conventions in Victorian Society

During the Victorian Era, social conventions curved the lives of many women. These conventions perceived the way women should look, sound, and act. Society believed that women were the property of their husbands. Women were supposed to give their husbands their love, bodies, and obedience. In return husbands offered their wives protection. Women were to dress conservatively, always appear clean, and have an air of innocence about them. “ In Victorian times, it was considered unfeminine and often “outrageous” for a woman to speak in public.” (Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, Women in Society) Women were not supposed to be over opinionated or well educated. Jane Eyre did not live in a way that was socially acceptable. She was educated, worked as a governess, and was not interested in living under the restraints of a husband. She was a young opinionated female who was often out spoken and realistic. “ I am glad you are no relation of mine: I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to visit you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty . . .”(Jane Eyre, PG 45) In this quotation Jane is passionately telling her aunt exactly how she feels. Passion like this was looked down upon by Victorian society.

Working Victorian Women

In the Victorian era only lower class women worked. This is because higher-class women were not educated and could not perform any jobs other than household related ones. Besides their husbands would never want the reputation of having a working wife, it deemed them incapable of providing for their family and of lower status. There weren’t many jobs available for females either, which made it harder for poor women to succeed in the working world. Jane Eyre found a job teaching as a governess in Mr. Rochester’s house. Many looked down upon her, but it was still a respectful way to earn a living. In Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester’s female houseguests discuss governesses and label them “detestable” and “ridiculous”. (Jane Eyre PG 199-200) One of the characters, Lady Ingram shares her opinion on governesses by saying “My dearest, don’t mention governesses; the word makes me nervous. I have suffered martyrdom from their incompetence and caprice; I thank Heaven I have now done with them!” (Jane Eyre PG 200) As you can imagine there were many other men and women who felt this way about governesses. Mostly because governesses were of lower class, and had to spend their lives teaching instead of fulfilling what every woman considered appropriate, having a family.

Conclusion: Jane Vs. Victorian Women

When reading Jane Eyre, I had the chance to see through the eyes of young a Victorian woman. I learned about her hardships and the ways in which she survived a life so heavily judged by society. Jane is not a typical Victorian female. She lives her life independently and as a governess under the restraints of no one, but herself. She is educated and very opinionated, which is why Mr. Rochester falls deeply in love with her. In many ways Jane’s rebellious nature could be considered an act of feminism. Here I have found a quotation to give you an idea of how Queen Victoria herself felt about feminism " I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'Women's Rights', with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to 'unsex' themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen, and disgusting of beings, and would surely perish without male protection." (Elizabeth Horany, Women in Education) Women who lived like Jane Eyre did not even have the support of their queen. This is why Victorian women, and their battle to supply women with the rights we have today have fascinated me. During my research I read through a book called Eminent Victorian Women, by Elizabeth Longford. If you are interested in the lives of Victorian women, I recommend this book.

Works Cited

Elizabeth Horany.Woman in Education. May 18th, 2002.April 6th, 2007.http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/education.shtml

Melissa Moore. Why Victorian Women Married. May 3rd, 2002. April 6th, 2007. http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/marriage.shtml

Oscar Trejo. Domesticity. May 18th, 2002. April 6th, 2007. http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/domesticity.shtml

Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri. Women in Society. March 2006. April 6th, 2007. http://www.antiquesjournal.com/Pages04/Monthly_pages/march07/paintresses.html

Arthur Munby. Work and Victorian Women. April 6th, 2007. http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/RHE309/work/

Elizabeth Longford. Eminent Victorian Women. 91 Clapham High Street London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1981.

Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre. London England: Penguin, 1847.

Enditall

04/20/07

Permalink 12:55:05 am, by Email , 340 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, History In The News

Rare Portrait of Jane Austen To Be Auctioned In New York

Jane Austen portrait being sold in April, but is it really her?

A rare and contentious portrait of the esteemed novelist Jane Austen is due to go on sale in New York. Read on:

It has always been accepted by relatives as a picture of the writer but scholars are divided over the true identity of the young woman.

Its estimated auction price is $500,000 (£250,000) and it is being sold in America rather than Britain.

The full length oil portrait of a girl in a white dress is being sold by a distant relative of the writer.

There are few reliable pictures of Austen, who died nearly 200 years ago, a position similar to that of William Shakespeare.

A few weeks ago a publishing house decided it needed to improve the portrait they used on their editions of Austen's novels because the writer was "not much of a looker".

But a recent film about Austen's love life portrayed her as a very glamorous figure.

A drawing by her sister Cassandra shows Austen from behind wearing a hat.

Another of her sister's drawings held by London's National Portrait Gallery shows Austen looking grumpy.

The full length oil being sold in New York shows a girl walking outside with a resemblance to Austen.

It is being sold by a descendant so has good provenance.

However, the National Portrait Gallery does not think it is the writer. Some say the style of dress is from the wrong period while other Austen scholars are convinced it is their heroine.

The auction house Christie's is selling the picture in New York.

Full BBC Article Here

It seems to be the way of history that scholars will always disagree. I am far from an expert, but I tend to lean towards the camp that believe this portrait is of Austen. Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part based on the loveliness of this artwork itself. I can guarantee this though, with disputes of such a nature it is rare that they are ever resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

Enditall

04/19/07

Permalink 12:24:38 am, by Email , 1215 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana

Rev. William King (and the Elgin settlement)

Rev William King

Born in Ireland in 1812, William King didn't have his first experience with slavery until he became a teacher in Louisiana in 1841... and what he saw... misery, torture, hopelessness... he didn't like.

The other thing that troubled King was that he also recognised that freed slaves would be more-or-less helpless until they gained economic independence, became literate, and gained the basic educational skills to be able to do things for themselves. He described the plan as "Self Emancipation".

In a series of events through his wife and an inheritance, King ended up with property, and despite his desire to free slaves, ended up in acquisition of fifteen himself. He wanted to free them, but without an act of government within Louisiana, that wouldn't happen.

He sailed to Scotland in 1844 to study to become a Presbyterian minister... and all was going well until the abolitionists in the church discovered he was a slave owner at which point, he had to prove to the church that he was not a disgrace... and he did so with flying colours.

Once he completed the course, the now thirty-three year old minister asked to be placed in Canada... this way, he could free his slaves and establish a community with "Self Emancipation" as it's model.

The church sent him to Chatham where he could set up his settlement which was a good choice as it was a terminal on the underground railroad and home to Josiah Henson's settlement. (Josiah Henson is probably better known by another name... and is often maligned because people don't understand his true nature and contribution to society... and if certain people knew Josiah Henson, I doubt they'd feel the same way as using his "nick-name" if you will as a put down... Click here to find out more about "Uncle Tom".)

In 1849, King found the perfect location for what would be The Elgin Settlement... over four-thousand acres of unbroken forest on the Clergy Reserve and only eight miles South of Chatham.

Raising funds was a problem... dealing with certain locals was another. Led by Edwin Larwill, a town councilor, school trustee, and a Member of Parliament, a group had been active for fifteen years doing everything politically and legally to dissuade black settlers... and make the life of their supporters that much more miserable.

Hostilities between King and this group hit it's apex at a meeting of the town of Chatham in the Royal Exchange Hotel. Larwill and his followers wanted to stop the sale of the land to The Elgin Association... and had let it be known that, if they had to, violence was an option.

The town swore in 12 special constables for the meeting.

Larwill and his supporters picked perfect spots to "heckle" from... but soon, the room where the meeting was being held overflowed with spectators... and the meeting was adjourned to being on King Street where the speakers could use the hotel balcony to deliver their speeches.

Larwill's friends went first... and they were met with seemingly the mass approval of the collected audience.

When Rev. King stepped up, the hecklers, many of them being also Irish, let loose with the insults... King, knowing his own people, patiently waited them out.

I have come two hundred miles for this meeting and you cannot put me down. Besides, I am from Londonderry, and Londonderry never did surrender!

After his speech, even the pro-Larwill Chatham Chronicle reported that King did himself and the cause well. "...the objects of the Elgin Association were pure and philanthropic, and they had suffered much from misrepresentation and prejudices which is was his (Rev. King's) anxiety to clear away."

In essence, King's oratory won him praise from his followers and even many of his enemies.

The following day, wasting no time, King bought his land.

For the next few months, however, there were still people that did not want the Elgin settlement to exist. It was to such a degree that King was almost constantly surrounded by a bodyguard of black men... granted, they weren't his guard... they were just with him and then on their way to go "hunting".

Work on the settlement began in 1849... House raising, school building, land clearing... all a community effort.

Only blacks could purchase land in the Elgin settlement and King initially insisted that the school be segregated.

Thanks to the passing in the United States of The Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, many blacks (free and slave) made haste to Canada in fear of being "captured and sold" and many came to the Elgin Settlement.

Also in 1850, King opened the elementary school to white students and now was responsible for the first fully-integrated school in North America. Out of the roll of only sixteen students, two were from Edwin Larwill's District Common School. By 1851, more white students came to the school because of it's excellent academic reputation. The District Common School ended up being closed due to lack of attendance as students flowed to King's Academy. King also opened a successful and fully integrated adult night class to teach literacy.

When the enrollment of the day school reached 150, they opened another school... a third was erected in 1866 when 250 students were in attendance.

In 1852, there were 400 souls in the settlement working in the sawmill, the brickyard, or the gristmill. They had what was considered the finest tobacco crop in the region and a lively potash industry. All things considered, a grand success... but the best was yet to come.

Within seven years, the population doubled and supported three churches and had pretty much removed all opposition to it's existence... Larwill's protestations were dead.

In 1861, with the outbreak of the American Civil War, the member's of the community were wondering if President Lincoln would pass the emancipation act... and in 1863 when he called on blacks to enlist, seventy men joined the 24th Kent Regiment of the Militia... many would not be coming home to Canada.

In 1865 with the passing of the U.S. Emancipation Proclamation, the Elgin Settlement ceased to be a true "cause" and the Association closed it's books. By 1871, over seven-hundred men and women from the settlement had headed South to help educate and establish the newly freed slaves. According to the book, "Tombstone Tales - From Ontario Cemeteries" by Harvey Medland...

They included physicians, teachers, professors, lawyers and three politicians who were destined to become a congressman, a state senator and a speaker of the state legislature.

Those who remained behind called the settlement Buxton... after Sir Thomas Foxwell Buxton who championed the Emancipation Act of 1849 for Britain.

Reverend King resigned from the Chatham School Board and from the management of the community he spearheaded in 1880.

He continued to preach until he passed away in 1895 of malaria.

His vision of freedom through responsibility, integration, and hard work saw not only the establishment of a society that was truly worthy of envy, but that helped spawn a quality of existence that lasted throughout the darker years of this continent and beyond. A wonderful legacy of true freedom and equality... showing that despite prejudices, the black culture could aspire and even surpass the standards of the day.

Resources:

The Presbyterian Church of Canada
Black History of Southwestern Ontario
Black History in Ontario
Buxton Historical Site and Museum
"Tombstone Tales - From Ontario Cemeteries" by Harvey Medland

Enditall

04/18/07

Permalink 12:31:23 am, by Email , 11 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Old Fort York, Toronto, Canada, Circa 1908

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

04/17/07

Permalink 02:00:26 pm, by Email , 242 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News

A Modern Day Lady Godiva

The Anglo-Saxon gentlewoman (also known as Godgifu), is famous for her legendary naked ride on horseback through Coventry.

Fast forward to today where the BBC covers the story of a remarkable woman, and modern day Lady Godiva. Read on:

Twenty-five years ago Pru Poretta was elected to recreate the role of Lady Godiva and ride on a horse through Coventry city centre.

Today, she is still in the role and has raised thousands of pounds for charities, receiving an honorary MA from the city's university for her work.

"It is something I never imagined I would be doing," she said.

In 1982, the organisers of the then Coventry Carnival decided they needed to do something to give it a boost.

The city was suffering a recession with the closure of several large factories.

Most noticeably, the British Leyland factory which made MGs had recently closed, putting 700 people out of work.

The redundancies had a knock-on effect on the carnival as it had been the factories which entered the floats.

The answer was, the organisers decided, to give the city a lift by organising a Godiva Pageant and to find a suitable Lady Godiva to draw in the crowds.

Full BBC Article Here

Congratulations to Pru not only for being able to educate the public about, recreate, and bring to life a little bit of history, and legend, but for raising so much money, and bringing awareness to various charities at the same time!

Enditall

04/16/07

Permalink 04:05:07 pm, by Email , 147 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News

Great Expectations?

A Charles Dickens theme park opens in Kent soon, promising an authentic taste of the novelist's Victorian world. But is it wrong to "Disney-fy" Britain's greatest author? Read on:

The great American amusement park pioneer, George C Tilyou, once said: "What attracts the crowd is the wearied mind's demand for relief in unconsidered muscular action."

So it's inevitable that Dickens World conjures a degree of scepticism among those not ready for a theme-park tribute to one of the most popular novelists in the English language.

Housed in a modern, aluminium-clad hangar on the Chatham Maritime estate in Kent, its creators promise a flavour of "dark, smoky, moody London, full of smells and mist".

Workmen are hard at it, creating the rickety back streets and miasmatic waterways of urban, Victorian England. The overall effect is rather like Disney painted brown and plunged into twilight.

Full BBC Article Here

Enditall

04/15/07

Permalink 07:28:57 am, by Email , 1086 words   English (CA)
Categories: Loons Throughout History, Folklore And Superstitions, European History

Vlad III The Impaler

Portrait of Vlad III in Innsbruck's Ambras Castle

His name was Vlad III and post mortem became Vlad Tepes (impaler). His father was known as "Vlad Dracul" which is literally translated to "Vlad The Dragon" or "Vlad the Devil"... adding the 'A' to the end of the surname denoted "Son Of" ergo: Vlad Dracula, and he was a prince of Wallachia (south of Transylvania). He was born in 1431 and died in 1476.

Vlad didn't have what one would call a great childhood... I mean having to live with a younger brother known as "Radu the Handsome" couldn't make anyone happy... but that was the least of his worries. When he was around the age of thirteen, Vlad and little handsome Radu were unceremoniously shipped off to Adrianople, Turkey, as "hostages" to ease the mind of the Turkish Sultan (the Turks, then being steeped in the Ottoman Empire were basically at war with Europe and taking bits and pieces of it all the time. Vlad Sr. sent his boys there to "prove" he wouldn't risk their wrath and fight so they'd leave him, and Wallachia alone).

Vlad stayed a prisoner of the Turks until the mid-1400's when they released him and his brother, Radu.

Radu, oddly enough, chose to stay in Turkey as it was where he grew up, and all he really knew. However, Vlad wanted to go back to Wallachia, and was even supported by the Turks as the Wallachian heir to the throne.

Something tells me that the Sultan probably regretted this as Vlad, after a while was really unpleasant to the Turks that came into Wallachia. You see Vlad had learned a lot from the Turks... especially an unpleasant way to put people to death... impalement.

After a time the Turks tried to forcibly take Wallachia and met a fierce resistance under Vlad III. After the battle, Vlad would have the prisoners impaled... According to one account, Vlad had over 10,000 men impaled at a grisly "fence" near the Danube where he left them to rot.

Woodblock print of Vlad III attending a mass impalement.

Many times, people have seen the old wood carving of Vlad having dinner near a bunch of impaled folks... this image is pretty accurate as he did do this once, but the method of impalement was... well... cleaned up a bit for the carving. To be "blunt" (forgive the pun,) Vlad would have a high stake sharpened... but not too sharp so it would cause a quick death. He would have the stake greased and slide the steak into the rectum (the "hind-quarters", if you will...) of his victim and usually, allow the stake to come out of the victims mouth. Only on occasion, when rushed, would he have victims "tossed" onto stakes "chest first".

Anyway, Vlad's methods though cruel, and somewhat unusual, were very effective. The Turks rarely ventured near Wallachia, and because of this he was and still is considered a bit of a hero to the people of Romania. After all he did keep the Turkish hoards at bay, and the homeland safe! What's a few impalements compared to that?

Don't get me wrong either... Vlad apparently had a sense of humour in his cruelty. Once, when a couple of diplomats from the Turks came to visit, they refused to take their hats off in the presence of the prince. Obligingly, he had their turbans nailed to their heads.

So, needless to say, Vlad was revered by some, hated mercilessly by others. As one of my historian friends put it, "If you're the winner, it was the 'Battle of'. If you were the loser, it was the 'Massacre of'."

Vlad did eventually lose a few battles to the Turks, and fled for Transylvania... and at that time guess who came back as a pro-Turkish ruler? Yup, Radu the Handsome! Radu, now firmly in the control of the Turks, probably wasn't too eager in helping out the public image of his now exiled brother... Stories and reports of executions and sadistic torture of not just Turks, but of Wallachian's too, made the rounds... Vlad was painted, possibly with some justification, possibly not, as a monster.

When Vlad made it to Transylvania, he was arrested, and imprisoned as a "Royal Prisoner". Must have been a tough life and his jail and captors must have thought he was a real monster, since he married the cousin of the Hungarian ruler Matthias Corvinus, and sired two sons with her during his incarceration.

Believe it or not, he did actually regain the Wallachian throne in 1476 just in time to die... It is believed by some that he was the victim of an assassination.

Once again, Vlad in death was revered for a bit, and then painted as an unspeakable monster as it suited the new ruling body's purposes to make Vlad the villain.

Vlad was buried in a mausoleum in a monastery at Lake Snagov that he had founded.

Poor old Vlad was NOT accused of being any sort of "paranormal monster" or "vampire" until after he was long dead... and even then (and now), it was not everyone who thought he was this "creature." His bloodlust and popular folklore combined to get him a passing accusation as a possible vampire... but to be honest, no one then seemed to think this might be true until a number of years after his death when they ordered his body to be exhumed from it's mausoleum at the monastery, and when his tomb was opened it was empty!

Did Vlad escape the assassin and fake his own death? Unlikely, as one has to assume he'd want to still be the ruler of his empire. Was he really the undead and his bloodlust and lack of a corpse prove it? I and many others doubt it. It's more likely that the monks, grateful to Vlad for founding their home, and knowing that the Turks (or, realistically, a "Turkish-Friendly Ruler") was in power and would want to wreak post-mortem revenge on Vlad's body simply moved him to hide his remains so they would lie undisturbed.

None-the-less Vlad Dracula is a "hero" to some, and a villain or monster to others.

He was certainly not a vampire, nor is it verifiable that he did actually inspire Bram Stoker's character for the famous fictional novel Dracula.

Further Reading:

Florescu Radu R, McNally Raymond T. (1989) Dracula: Prince of Many Faces. Little Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-28655-9.

Radu R Florescu, McNally Raymond T. (1994) In Search of Dracula. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-65783-0.

Enditall

04/14/07

Permalink 12:01:00 am, by Email , 277 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture

Author Kurt Vonnegut Passed This Week...

Kurt Vonnegut had suffered a fall recently and was suffering from brain injuries sustained then... he succumbed these injuries on Wednesday the 11th. He was 84 years old.

Author of Slaughterhouse Five, Player Piano, Breakfast of Champions, Cat's Cradle, and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Vonnegut drew from a rather interesting if partially tragic life... enlisting in the U.S. Army after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, he became a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany and held in Dresden. He was there when the allies levelled Dresden in a fire-bomb raid, surviving with his fellow captives in a meatpacking locker underground. The German's used the prisoners to find victims of the bombing which is the experience he used to create Slaughterhouse Five.

Vonnegut's mother committed suicide on Mother's Day in 1944 which also seems to have played a role in his creative process... but his experience as a POW seems to have been the most profound in his writing.

On my regular blog, I mentioned I often used a Vonnegut quote after the horrors of 9/11...

I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire truck.

He was shocked to have been so long lived figuring, as a heavy smoker, he should have died years previous. "I'm suing a cigarette company because on the package they promised to kill me, and yet here I am." he once said.

The fall did what cigarettes didn't...

At 84, he was hardly a young man, but this planet will be a little less special without him.

Goodbye, Kilgore Trout. Farewell to Tralfamadore. We will be careful of what we pretend to be... 'cuz you warned us.

Enditall

04/13/07

Permalink 12:56:04 am, by Email , 471 words   English (CA)
Categories: Folklore And Superstitions

The History Of Friday The Thirteenth

Members of the Eccentric Club of London at their annual Friday the 13th lunch in 1936 – surrounded by objects that are connected with superstitions.

Friday the 13th has never bothered me in fact my own parents were married on a Friday the thirteenth, but they liked to break with tradition as a rule.

Whilst the day and/or number has never troubled me personally, it does cause some real issues for certain people suffering paraskevidekatriaphobia (say that three times fast) or a morbid, and irrational fear of Friday the 13th, as coined by Dr. Donald Dossey. According to a 2000 survey conducted by American Demographics 13% of Americans suffer this fear. Interesting coincidence with that number 13, and I sincerely hope that you gentle readers are not afflicted with this.

The history of where this fear originated seems lost within the mists of time itself, but here are a few theories put forward by others:

Christ is thought to have been crucified on a Friday, which was execution day among the Romans. Friday's were also traditionally execution day in Britain. The number 13 ties in as it was believed to bring bad luck because there were 13 people at The Last Supper.

People have suggested that Friday was the day God threw Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden, which would be a lucky guess as the concept of Friday hadn't been invented yet.

Thirteen is an unlucky or bad number in Norse mythology as well. Loki, the most mischievous of the Norse gods, went uninvited to a party for 12 at Valhalla, a banquet hall of the gods. And whilst there he caused the death of Balder, the god of light, joy, and reconciliation.

On Friday, October 13, 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrests of Jaques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templars and sixty of his senior knights in Paris. Thousands of others were arrested elsewhere in the country. After utilising torture techniques to force the Templars to "confess" to wrongdoing, most were eventually executed and sympathizers of the Templars condemned Friday the 13th as an evil day.

Chaucer alluded to Friday as a day on which bad things seemed to happen in the Canterbury Tales during the late 14th century, "And on a Friday fell all this mischance." Perhaps with the plight of the Templars in mind?

In my opinion it was probably a combination of all of the above, and much more that led to the superstition, and belief that Friday the 13th is somehow an unlucky day.

How do you feel about Friday the 13th? Will you be doing anything different today because of it? Or do you believe it to be a silly superstition only?

Further Reading:

A World Of Luck - Friday The 13th

Friday the 13th - Unlucky No. 13 combines Christian and pagan beliefs

Image credit: Getty Images

Enditall

04/12/07

Permalink 12:00:04 am, by Email , 1017 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana

Sir Samuel Benfield Steele

Sam Steele

In the United States of America, they have emblems and icons that they bring to the fore to inspire... Uncle Sam, marching revolutionary rebels with flag, fife, and drum...

In Canada, we also have an icon... something many in the world recognise as distinctly Canadian... a Mountie.

Yes, a member of a police force... a member of The Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

This isn't too odd, after all, our neighbours to the South have a motto of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" whereas Canada's lesser known - yet official motto is "Peace, Order, and Good Government" (I kid you not. The latter part is thanks to another fellow that will be blogged about later in this series... but more on that at a later date.)

Meet the archetype for the steady man in the red uniform... Sam Steele.

Born near Orillia, Ontario in 1851, Sam Steele came from a military background. He was educated in Toronto at a military academy and was a member of the 1st Ontario Rifles when a young man.

He joined the brand new North West Mounted Police (which would become the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in 1873 as a Troop Sergeant Major and was part of the first men to set up a permanent policing force in the West of Canada. I should preface this a bit...

If you check back on my entry on Crowfoot, you may remember me mentioning the problems with the West and "Whisky Traders" amongst other things... and how Crowfoot was instrumental in getting the natives to agree to the policing activities of the NWMP... well, this is where Sam Steele comes in.

1871 saw one-hundred natives murdered in the Cypress Hills massacre. This combined with the "Indian Wars" happening South of the border showed the Canadian government the problems that could migrate North. They knew that peace and order needed to be established.

The North West Mounted Police's mandate was to protect the natives from the whisky traders, cultivate the aboriginal's respect, and prepare them for the impending changes that were spreading across the plains.

In 1874 (the year after Steele joined,) the NWMP had what has been called "The Great March" from Toronto to set up shop in Fort Mcleod in the West.

Three-hundred red-coated young men set off on what would be an extremely difficult journey through many places as yet unsettled... setting up forts and stations along the way to act as police stations for those who needed the assistance of the law.

So, far from being "lawless" as our neighbour's to the South portray their "Wild West", Canada's West would be a model of civility and order for the most part thanks to these actions... and Sam Steele would end up becoming almost the embodiment of this.

Steele, during "The Great March", gained the attention and admiration of his fellow officers with his work ethic, character, and sheer determination in his tasks.

Steele's first difficult command was looking after and policing the land where the national railway was being built. Steele literally took control and looked after land from one side of the country to the other to ensure that a rail link connecting sea-to-sea was constructed without issue.

During the Rebellion of 1885 (led by Louis Riel,) Steele formed "The Alberta Field Force" which was instrumental in putting an end to the uprising, which also led to Steele's reputation as a hard working, loyal, and honest man.

This led to his promotion to Superintendent of the force and given the difficult task of restoring law and order to the area known as Kootenay (in British Columbia) which was suffering from tensions between the white settlers and natives. Steele, being popular and well known within both communities, managed to use diplomacy and sheer presence to ease the issues and set up the first permanent post West of the Rocky Mountains in a town named Galbraith’s Ferry.

After successfully looking after that, he was posted to Macleod district, which was not only having the same problems, but also facing an increasing amount of general crime such as cattle and horse thievery and smuggling. Again, Steele's efforts helped quell the issues and his organisation skills helped stem the crime wave.

In the last part of the nineteenth century, the gold rush sent scores of people to the Yukon... and the NWMP sent their best man to control it, Sam Steele.

To quote the RCMP's official online biography of Steele...

He was policeman, magistrate and controller of rations under the very trying times of people seeking their fortunes and unprepared for the weather conditions.

Most of the "participants" in the great Yukon Gold Rush owe their survival and safety to one man... Sam Steele.

Many say that political "intrigue" kept Steele from becoming full or even assistant commissioner to the NWMP, but Steele still carved himself a niche and easily was and is Canada's most famed police officer.

You'd think this might be enough for one life... and you'd be wrong...

In 1900, the Boer War broke out and Steele was placed in charge of raising a mounted unit to help the Empire with the troubles in Africa. Steele raised a group named Lord Strathcona’s Horse (which is still an active unit in Canada's modern military) and later that year, went to South Africa with his men and ended up being a large part of setting up the South African Constabulary.

Not done yet, in 1915 he took command of the second Canadian expeditionary force in World War I.

In 1916, he accepted a posting to become General Officer Commanding Shorncliffe Area in England... a post he held until his retirement in 1918 after receiving his knighthood for his storied career.

He died in 1919 in London, England at the age of seventy.

Sir Samuel Benfield Steele... the embodiment of the honest, hard working, diplomatic, gentlemanly member of Canada's police force. An icon of Canadiana loyalty and order.

Sources:

Official RCMP Biography of Sam Steele
Wiki-Sam Steele
Sam Steele Days
Our Heritage - Sam Steele

For fun, here's a video that some Canadian's may remember about Sam Steele...

Click here for that video...

Enditall

04/11/07

Permalink 12:55:21 am, by Email , 11 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Queen Marie Antoinette's Cottage At Versailles

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

04/09/07

Permalink 05:13:39 pm, by Email , 241 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, War And Conflict, History In The News

Vimy Ridge Remembered

Under the shadows of two stone pillars marking Canada's most celebrated military triumph of the First World War, Prime Minister Stephen Harper reflected Monday in France on the 1917 battle that many regard as the moment Canada was truly born.

"Every nation has a creation story to tell," Harper said to thousands gathered on the field below, where Canadian forces exactly 90 years ago captured the German-occupied position thought by Allied Forces to be impregnable.

The Queen, sitting next to Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the ceremonies, said Canada deserved to take its rightful place as a proud sovereign nation.

"The First World War and the Battle of Vimy Ridge are central to the story of our country."

As the brilliant sunshine warmed the throngs of French and Canadians who made the pilgrimage to the historic site, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Queen Elizabeth laid wreaths at the base of the Vimy Ridge monument's magnificent sculpted columns.

The Queen, making her address in French, declared the land "sacred soil" and spoke of its importance to Canada, a nation then barely 50 years old that "deserved so much to take its rightful place … as a proud sovereign nation, strong and free."

She concluded the ceremony by rededicating the newly refurbished Vimy Ridge monument. Then, with military precision, four low-flying French military jets soared over the memorial in time with the last notes from a musical cue.

Full CBC Coverage Here

LEST WE FORGET

Enditall

04/08/07

Permalink 12:11:26 am, by Email , 201 words   English (CA)
Categories: Holidays And Traditions

The History Of The Easter Bunny

The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the Spring season.

The bunny as an Easter symbol seems to have it's origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s. These were made of pastry and sugar.

The Easter bunny was introduced to American folklore by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The arrival of the "Oschter Haws" was considered "childhood's greatest pleasure" next to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. The children believed that if they were good the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs.

The children would build their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys would use their caps and girls their bonnets to make the nests . The use of elaborate Easter baskets would come later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread throughout the country.

Source: Easter Traditions

Wishing All Those Who Celebrate A Very Happy Easter!

Enditall

04/06/07

Permalink 12:26:02 am, by Email , 501 words   English (CA)
Categories: Holidays And Traditions

The History Of The Easter Egg

Of all the symbols associated with Easter the egg, the symbol of fertility and new life, is the most identifiable. The customs and traditions of using eggs have been associated with Easter for centuries.

Originally Easter eggs were painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring and were used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts. After they were colored and etched with various designs the eggs were exchanged by lovers and romantic admirers, much the same as valentines. In medieval time eggs were traditionally given at Easter to the servants. In Germany eggs were given to children along with other Easter gifts.

Different cultures have developed their own ways of decorating Easter eggs. Crimson eggs, to honor the blood of Christ, are exchanged in Greece. In parts of Germany and Austria green eggs are used on Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday). Slavic peoples decorate their eggs in special patterns of gold and silver.

Pysanki eggs are a masterpiece of skill and workmanship. Melted beeswax is applied to the fresh white egg. It is then dipped in successive baths of dye. After each dip wax is painted over the area where the preceding color is to remain. Eventually a complex pattern of lines and colors emerges into a work of art.

In Germany and other countries eggs used for cooking where not broken, but the contents were removed by piercing the end of each egg with a needle and blowing the contents into a bowl. The hollow eggs were died and hung from shrubs and trees during the Easter Week. The Armenians would decorate hollow eggs with pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other religious designs.

For thousands of years, people thought of eggs as the symbols of new life. People also thought that the Earth itself hatched from a huge egg. So that is why the egg was chosen as the symbol of the resurrection.

Long before Jesus, people used to give each other eggs as presents. These eggs were dyed or painted in fancy colours and designs. Some of the most elaborate and beautifully designed eggs came from countries such as the Ukraine. The tool used by the Ukrainians was called a Kistka. It's a brass cone mounted on a stick. The artist filled this with wax and heats it so that the wax melts, the artist then draws patterns on the melted wax. All the designs used have a religious meaning.

Every country has its own customs. In the Northern counties of England the children go around begging for eggs and other presents and acting out the Pace egg Play, this was known as "Pace egging".

"Pace eggs" comes from the Hebrew word Pesach (Passover). In Scotland the word also appears as Peace or Paiss.

In Poland girls used to send eggs to their favorite boyfriends. Finnish children would beat the grown-ups with birch twigs until they were given eggs for ransom.

Source: Easter Traditions

Wishing All Of You That Celebrate A Very Happy Easter!

Enditall

04/05/07

Permalink 12:48:59 am, by Email , 1187 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Americana, Heroic Women

Mary Shadd Cary

Mary Shadd Cary

Mary Shadd, the eldest of thirteen children was born in October of 1823 in Willmington, Delaware... the daughter of Abraham and Harriett Shadd who were free blacks. Her parents were also "stationmasters" of the Underground Railroad... the path that led escaped slaves to freedom in the North.

Abraham and Harriett were also strong believers in education, and with this in mind, moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania, so their children could be education at a Quaker-run school there.

When she finished her education in Pennsylvania, Mary moved back to Willmington to open her own school for black children.

Her work there was interrupted, however, with the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 which allowed slave hunters to pursue escaped slaves into the North to "bring them back" to their old masters. Of course, it wasn't long before freed blacks were being kidnapped and sent South under the false pretense that they were "escapees".

Mary and her brother, Isaac, moved to Canada West (present day Ontario) where slavery had been completely abolished for many years and settled in Windsor where Mary set up a school... not strictly for black children, but as an advocate of integration rather than segregation, for all children regardless of race. Sadly, many of the black activists in Canada at the time did believe that settling in their own communities and being kept segregated was a better way to live life... Mary did not subscribe to this believing that all people were equal and capable of doing whatever they could based on their worth, not on their race.

This put her at loggerheads with the powerful American Missionary Association run by Henry Bibb, an established leader in the black community in Canada. Initially, Bibb's group funded Shadd's school... but when she publicly defied him and his segregated views (refusing to teach in a "black only" school), she lost her funding and was forced to do what she could to make ends meet and keep her school alive.

For this, she opened a newspaper... "The Provincial Freeman" to counter Bibb's paper, "The Voice of the Fugitive" (with which he was now attacking Shadd's ideas and character) and hopefully earn the money she needed to keep her school alive.

"The Provincial Freeman" promoted temperance, moral reform, civil rights, and black self-help while attacking the racial discrimination blacks faced within North America. It was one of the longest published black newspapers until the Civil War.

Oddly enough, Shadd became the first female newspaper editor in North America... although initially she didn't take credit.

At the time, a "woman's place" was not in charge of a paper, so she used the name of Presbyterian minister in Toronto, Samuel Ward, as it's editor... Needless to say, Ward was not really involved... it was Shadd... but since she was already fighting the fight against segregationism and the usual issues of race in European settled lands, she decided that, initially, using a man's name was more prudent and would assist the paper in launching properly.

Shadd became a popular speaker... touring Canada and the Northern U.S. to put out the word against slavery, for black integration into society, and to raise money for her paper... all the time decrying people like Bibb's who still asked for handouts to help "refugees"... Shadd felt this was turning popular opinion her people into beggers that could not support themselves... she disagreed with this on many levels... one of which was the Bibb's seemed to be getting richer and richer for his efforts with little of these "donations" getting back into the community.

Evetually, Mary moved the paper to Toronto where the black population was much larger. She also changed the masthead to show it was edited by M.A. Shadd... which, when it was discovered this was a woman, caused a stir... and she found herself on the defensive over her gender.

With reluctance, she appointed Rev. William Newman as editor (again, really a "token" editor) so she could continue her efforts with her speaking tours.

Although this moved "calmed the waters", everybody still realised that this was Mary's paper.

In 1855, Mary moved her paper to Chatham (Ontario) which had an even larger black population than Toronto... hoping to increase ad revenues and readership. In Chatham, Shadd rescued a young escaped slave running from slave catchers working illegally in Canada...

"Come with me, I'll save you!" Mary whispered to the frightened child. The boy looked up at her and nodded. Mary grabbed his hand and together they raced along the dusty street. Behind them, the two slave catchers bellowed in surprise and then took up the chase.

Out of breath, Mary slowed down in front of a large building. "We'll get help in the court house," Mary gasped as they staggered up it's steps. Once inside the building, Mary violently rang it's huge bell. As the bell rang out it's alarm, the townspeople of Chatham quickly gathered at the court house.

Mary pointed at the two men that chased her. "They are slave catchers," she shouted with contempt, "and they are trying to drag a child back to the United States to be a slave!"

The angry murmur from the crowd rose to a roar, Someone screamed "Grab them!" and the crowd rushed forward.

The slave catchers turned and ran for their lives.

While lecturing in Philadelphia, she so dazzled her audience with her speaking a debating skills that they a benefit in the city to honour her years of work and achievement for the rights and building of the culture of blacks in North America.

In 1856, Mary Shadd married Thomas Cary, a hard working member of the black community in Toronto and within five days of her marriage, was back speaking and touring to raise funds for the paper.

Hard times in 1857 (a general economic depression) stopped the paper publishing... and in 1861, Thomas passed away leaving Mary and two children.

With the ending of the American Civil War in 1865, Mary saw the huge task ahead with freed blacks in the States. She returned to America where she taught school for many years and at the age of sixty, was called to the bar and became a lawyer... only the second black woman to do so in her time.

Although the vote was given to black men in 1865, women were still not given the vote and Mary put her considerable talents and skills into the American Women's Rights Movement.

Mary joined the National Woman's Suffrage Association working with people such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton towards women's suffrage, even testifying before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives and becoming the first black woman to cast a vote in a national election.

Mary Shadd Cary passed away at age seventy... feted as one of the great women of her time and a hard worker towards universal suffrage and integration of society.

Frederick Douglass said once of Mary, "With voice and pen she is equally eloquent."

Sources:
"Her Story - Women from Canada's Past" by Susan E. Merritt
Afro-American Almanac Biographies
Living Vignettes of Women from the Past
Library and Archives Canada

Enditall

04/04/07

Permalink 12:03:45 am, by Email , 11 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: The Tower Of London

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Enditall

04/02/07

Permalink 12:53:44 am, by Email , 433 words   English (CA)
Categories: Meet The History Buffs

Meet The History Buffs

Your Host & Hostess......



Sue Darroch & Matthew James Didier

Amongst our many hobbies, and interests, we both share a love of history, and historical re-enactment. We are delighted to share this passion with you, and if you would like to make a suggestion for future entries on this blog then please just Ask The History Buffs. Not only do we write about history...we live it!

Sue Darroch is one of the founders and webmaster of ParaResearchers which has been active in the province of Ontario since the year 2000. Sue is a professional within the graphics and communications industry. She considers herself first and foremost an amateur scientist with specific interests in: ghosts and hauntings, ufology, and other Fortean topics. Sue has made an impressive impact within the Parascience community as a hands-on investigator of these phenomena. She also is greatly involved with The Ontario Ghosts and Hauntings Research Societies as well as assisting many of the international GHRS directors with the development of innovative investigative techniques and methodology, and is also the co-author of the PSICAN/GHRS investigative course book. Sue has contributed as technical consultant on various media projects and has been a regular guest on CFRB's Mind/Shift. Her public speaking engagements include Skeptics Canada, Ontario Institute For Studies & Education, University of Toronto. For fun she enjoys historical study and is considered an authority on Tudor England, and William Lyon Mackenzie, a personal hero of hers.

Matthew James Didier is the founder of the Ghosts and Hauntings Research Societies which have been active since 1997. Matthew is still deeply involved with investigations and research with his original groups, The Toronto Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society and The Ontario Ghosts and Hauntings Research Societies. Matthew is currently a regular contributor to the CFRB paranormal radio program, Mind/Shift with his partner, Susan Darroch (see above). He is active in the "living history" community and has been an active War of 1812 re-enactor and volunteered his services to many different historic groups and museums, most notably in this aspect, he is webmaster and server administrator for the Upper Canadian Heritage Websites. Matthew's love of the paranormal and history is matched only by what some term his "unhealthy obsession" with double-decker buses which can be seen by another of his websites, DoubleDeckerBuses.Org.

Other blogs that we maintain, and regularly contribute to:

The Paranormal Blog

Nuttin' But Pimp

Life in the Urban Zoo

One Old Green Bus

Thank you for stopping by, and please do leave us a comment or two, we will reply, and enjoy our reader feedback!

Cheers!

Matthew & Sue

Enditall

04/01/07

Permalink 12:09:33 am, by Email , 978 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, War And Conflict

Charles deSalaberry

DeSallaberry

Meet Lieutenant Colonel Charles-Michel d'Irumberry de Salaberry... born in Quebec in 1778.

He is an oddity... most of the heroes of Canada "back in the day" tended to be immigrants... but not DeSallaberry. He was one of four boys from a proud Quebec family that had a long standing military history history in Canada... fighting for France when the French had control of the country, and then serving Britain in the same fashion after the British wrested control of the Canadas...

There's a fantastic story about DeSallaberry when he was serving in the West Indies... In the mess, a German soldier serving with him came in boasting about a duel he'd just won...

"I come just now from dispatching a French Canadian into another world!"

DeSallaberry answered the boast...

"We are going to finish lunch and then you will have the pleasure of dispatching another."

...the German didn't win that one... but DeSallaberry carried a scar on his brow from that day for the rest of his life.

At the first signs of war with America (the War of 1812), DeSallaberry was brought home to Canada where he raised a hand-picked militia group... The Voltigeurs... made up of not of farmers, but of voyageurs, lumbermen, and city-bred young men. DeSallaberry drilled them like regulars (rare for the time) and made them into one of Canada's fiercest and finest fighting groups of the time.

The Voltigeurs wore grey-wool jackets, (not "redcoats" or "green jackets" that were more common in British lines,) with black cross-belts... and black bear-skin hats... With their training, they were ready for what was to come.

Now, think about this... in the time of Napoleon and the wars with France when Britain was fighting in Spain and Portugal, one of the best British militia groups was a French group named "Voltigeurs"... and they were fighting for King and Country!

Easily, DeSallaberry's (and the Voltigeur's) greatest moment was at the Battle of Chateauguay...

U.S. General Wade Hampton and some four-thousand troops were heading to Montreal by way of the St. Lawrence.

Through intelligence, DeSallaberry knew they were coming... and picked his battlefield. He built a abatis (a tangle of branches and obstructions) to slow the American approach... but they came in force... right where he wanted them.

DeSallaberry had his Voltigeurs, a company of "Select Embodied Militia" (in read coats), and a picket of Chasseurs (embodied militia... mostly untrained) and a handful of Caughnawaga natives... in all, 460 men... facing almost ten-times their number... and as the Chasseurs weren't trained, they couldn't be counted on.

He did have 1,500 men in reserve... just in case his advanced position didn't hold... they would not see action this day.

The American's sent a single advanced horseman... who yelled to the Voltigeurs in French...

"Brave Canadians, surrender yourselves; We wish you no harm!"

This was done as the American's were somewhat counting on anti-British sentiment from the French Canadians...

Wrong move.

The "story" goes that DeSallaberry himself borrowed a musket from a man beside him, levelled it at the rider... and dropped him from his horse.

It's probably just a legend... but it's a good one.

The battle, such as it would be, was now joined.

DeSallaberry called for his bugler to sound the call to open fire... he noticed that the Americans, on hearing the bugle and musket fire, hesitated... so he sent buglers out all around... surrounding the Americans and sounding the call to fire. This led to the Americans assuming they were facing a much larger force.

He called to "Red" George MacDonald... the officer in charge of the Select Embodied militia... barking his orders in French to further confuse the Americans.

"Red" George marched his men in their red tunics up a hill and made them visible to the Americans... then marched them back, had them reverse their tunics (which were lined in white) and march back up the hill... "doubling their force"... at least in the eyes of the American soldiers.

The Caughnawagas would "pop-out" of the brush here and there... waving their weapons and giving "war whoops", then disappear into the woods, only to re-emerge elsewhere and repeat their step.

There's more to this story and battle... but I've got to keep this short...

"Surrounded by a huge force" of British soldiers... "Surrounded by angry natives"... the American's retreated in disorder...

Four-Thousand... thrown back by four-hundred.

Combined with the battle of Crysler's Farm, this stopped the American advance on Montreal... thus keeping the Americans hacking vainly at the "end" of Canada at the time... the Niagara region... they could have cut a swath through the heart of the country... but a French Canadian officer... and handful of militia... a handful of natives... stopped their plans dead... and yes, it can be said, they saved Canada.

DeSallaberry did receive awards for his efforts and was made inspector of all the light companies in the Canadas for the remainder of the war.

He spent the last of his days as a "seigneur" in Quebec... a "gentleman farmer" and landlord... He was also a folk-hero... and served as a justice of the peace and even spent a short time in politics, but was a "quiet rebel" and wasn't fond of the ruling oligarchy and preferred the life in St. Mathias as a seigneur... The government he was not fond of would later be thrown into turmoil during the rebellions of 1837...

DeSallaberry passed away in Chambly in 1829.

He's not too well known in Quebec... and almost anonymous in the rest of Canada with the exception of history buffs.

If you wish to know more, you can pick up a decent biography called Charles de Sallaberry - Soldier of the Empire, Defender of Quebec by J. Patrick Wohler.

Also have a "boo" at Fields of Glory - The Battle of Crysler's Farm, 1813 by Donald E. Graves and Flames Across the Border by Pierre Berton.

Enditall

03/31/07