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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Hindenberg disaster

These photographs are truly amazing. So is the newsreel!   (frame 22) It's been 75 years......

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Rose For A Crown




Well, that’s what the blurb said.  And some thirty plus female reviewers on a historical novel web site mostly agreed.  Apparently, of late, I’ve been reading the book equivalents of “chick flicks.”  I can live with that….

I just finished  A Rose for the Crown, by Anne Easter Smith. She take to task  the Tudor Dynasty’s well known hack Shakespeare, who is  roundly rebutted for trashing Richard The Thirds reputation. Seen through the eyes of the woman who was the mother of his illegitimate children, a woman who loved him for who he really was, he comes off as not such a bad fellow As the mistress,  Kate Haute,  moves from her peasant roots to the luxurious palaces of England,  a remarkable story ensues.

The bare bones of this novel is historically accurate but our heroine is fictional because though the King had  three illegitimate children,  history is doesn’t tell us who their mother was. Thus Katherine Haute is fictional, but the world she lives in is not. The story is set in the time of the War of the Roses.  As any good story the reader is drawn into interactions of the main characters and the time and place they lived in. For my part I found the tale quite fascinating. Another book quite well done on this era is   is Sharon Kay Penman’s Sunne in Splendour.  Actually,  I think I may have become addicted to it….

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Who Is It?

You were born in a small town in what was then the Austrian Empire, now part of Croatia. You are a brilliant inventor, physicist, mechanical and electrical engineer. You are well aware of your own genius, and you are driven to do whatever it takes to realize your dreams. You will redefine the term "mad scientist"; your home country will honor you and an exciting high-end consumer product will be named after you 150 years after your birth.   WHO ARE YOU?


You are Nikola Tesla, founder of the Tesla Electric Company. You will go on to patent a brushless alternating current induction motor based on a rotating magnetic field principle. The invention will attract the attention of the Westinghouse company, and your investors will sell it to them for $60,000 in cash and stock and generous royalties. Westinghouse will also hire you as an independent consultant at their Pittsburgh laboratories.

 The year 1891 will be a banner year for you. You will demonstrate wireless energy transmission, which will become known as "the Tesla Effect"; you will patent the Tesla Coil; and you will become a naturalized citizen of the United States shortly after your 35th birthday.

You will go on to do groundbreaking work on atmospheric electricity, telegraphy and new types of engines including a steam-powered device dubbed "Tesla’s oscillator." Some of your wilder theories, coupled with your personal behaviors, will lead to your being categorized as a "mad scientist"—but in 1931 you will appear on the cover of Time Magazine.

 In 2003, sixty years after your death, a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs will set out to prove that "electric vehicles can be awesome." They will name their company Tesla Motors in your honor.
And for 2014  The Tesla Model S........

Monday, October 14, 2013

Top Ten Historical Fiction

Historical fiction are novels that re-create a period or event in history and often use historical figures as some of its characters. To be deemed historical, a novel must have been written at least fifty years after the events described.
Most of us read fiction for pleasure, but some of us gravitate especially to works about the past. People have enjoyed historical fiction since 800 BC when Homer wrote about the Trojan War in the Iliad. The worlds to which historical fiction carries us may seem utterly different from our own - but they really existed. A deep understanding of the past can help us understand our own time and our own motivations better. And by blending history and fiction, a novel lets us do more than simply read history: it lets us participate in the hopes, fears, passions, mistakes and triumphs of the people who lived it. It’s not history as such but a great writer. who has done meticulous research, can truly bring the past alive.
The following listed books are some of my favorite novels of historical fiction. I’ve read them all, some more than once.

Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas
 Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman in the Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine series

 Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

Shogun by James Clavell   

First Man in Rome (and following books) by Colleen McCullough 
Outlander - Diana Gabaldon  

 Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follet
   Killer Angels....Michael Shaara   
War & Peace by Tolstoy 

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell
Now what are some of your favorites?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Schooling In The Black Hills

In the gorgeous Black Hills of South Dakota we recently ran across a school as they used to be. Readin. Written and Rithmatic.  Take a look....


And, of course, it didn't hurt that the setting was gorgeous.  Though I'm sure the children always paid attention, were well behaved and above average.....

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Passion To Teach. Fifty-Eight Years of Humorous, Weird, and Engaging Tales


Author Richard Kowles is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Biology at Saint Mary s University Minnesota in Winona, MN. He has taught for the past fifty-eight years at various levels, initially at the high school level and then at the University. Gaining his PhD. he carried on his career both in the research laboratory and the classroom.  Clear he loved both but he was most passionate about teaching.  Incidentally, he and I were colleagues for a few years teaching high school in small town Minnesota.

 “A Passion to Teach: Fifty-Eight Years of Humorous, Weird, & Engaging Tales”  is both a great memoir of growing up in tough circumstances and succeeding but also a warm and engaging  and full of  funny stories of learning to teach and being great at it.  “It’s been a wonderful career,” he said. “The students have kept me young and on my toes.”

I think what most appealed to me about this book was the fun that Kowles obviously had teaching. There was a passion there to help students learn and joy satisfaction when they did.

I know I enjoyed my work till the day I retired or as Kowles put “If you can’t have fun, maybe you should look somewhere else.”  If you or someone you know is interested in looking at a teaching career from the inside out or just plain a fun read, this might be the book for you.