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04 March
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USS Cyclops disappears in Bermuda Triangle

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USS Cyclops

USS Cyclops

I’m a sucker for a Bermuda Triangle story, and this one fits the bill.  On March 4, 1918 USS Navy ship Cyclops set out for Baltimore.  She was heading there most likely to make repairs as her starboard engine had a cracked cylinder and in the previous port water had been seen above the Plimsoll line, the line on the hull that marks the legal limit to which a ship sits in the water.  The Cyclops was a collier, which is a cargo ship mostly used by the Navy to haul coal.  It was launched on May 7, 1910.  Cyclops was last known to be traveling through the Bermuda Triangle when she disappeared.  To add to the mystery both her sister ships were also lost as well during world war II, also in the Bermuda triangle.

The more likely explanation is that the ships had a weakened I-beam which runs the length of the ship at the keel.  Both the sister ships lost during WWII were lost with very full loads and Cyclops was loaded heavily when lost and may have hit a large storm as well, further weakening the keel.  She was deemed lost with all hands on June 1, 1918 by Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Books:

Non-Fiction:

Fiction:

Quantum Leap: The Complete Fourth Season

Quantum Leap: The Complete Fourth Season (Cyclops featured on episode 16)

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Cyclops_%28AC-4%29

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18 February
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Book Review: The Monuments Men

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The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

I just this moment finished the book the Monuments Men by Robert Edsel.  Initially I was very excited about this book, because I knew it was coming out as a movie.  It was released this month (February 7, 2014) .  As I write this the movie is number 4 at the box offices and has grossed $43.7 million dollars.  As far as how good the movie is, I don’t know…yet.  I plan on watching that now as I have finished the book.  I always like to read the book first.  However, I’m a little weary as its not getting great reviews.  On IMDB it has a score of 6.5 out of 10 and on Rotten Tomatoes it has a score of 34%.  Not steller by any means.

But this review is about the book, the movie review will come later.  First lets look at what others thought of the book.  Amazon reviewers seem to like the book, they gave it 4.3 our of 5 so far.  Goodreads reviewers were less kind to this historical work, giving it only 3.79 out of 5.  For those of you who don’t know the book is about  how WWII caused the greatest dislocation of cultural artifacts. Hundreds of thousands of items went missing. The main burden fell to a few hundred men and women, curators and archivists, artists and art historians from 13 nations. Their task was to save and preserve what they could of Europe’s great art, and they were called the Monuments Men.

I felt the book was slow.  Interesting definitely, but not being as cultured as some, I could not picture many of the artwork that was discussed in the book and often found myself wondering if the monuments men time would have been better served rescuing the victims of the Nazi’s.  But I also understand that the artwork had a huge cultural significance.  I’m torn about all of this really.  Should we have helped Europe so much in finding these pieces of art?  After all, wasn’t this whole mess their fault?  Or was it just the fault of a few misguided souls and the monsters who lead them?  This war brings up some very strong feelings in everyone, even those like me who didn’t live through it.

Lets get right down to it.  Should you spend your time reading this book?  I spent a month reading this 479 page book.  I did keep picking it up and looking for time to read it.  So, it was a page turner.  Not like a thriller at all.  But I did keep hoping that something more exciting would happen.  It never did.  My notes from the book are brief.  I highlighted the name Errol Flynn, to remind myself to watch some of his cool old movies.  I also found it interesting that the word salt was the basis of the English word Salary.  Then there is a huge gap until the end of the book where I took note of the books that some of the people involved the saving the artwork wrote.  For your reference they are:

Makes me sad that they didn’t print many copies of the above books and now they are almost impossible to find.  Also, sad that the movie is the only reason these people are no remembered and they were not remembered for their accomplishments during their life time.  The only one still alive according to the book is Harry Ettlinger.

Lastly, there have been a lot of other online articles being written about the Monuments Men.  Here are just a few:

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16 February
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First 911 Service in US

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While the first emergency service telephone number was 999 in the United Kingdom in 1937, it took the United States a little long to implement the service.  Things started happening in the US during 1957 when the National Association of Fire Chiefs recommended that a single number be used to report all fires.  In 1967 this was seconded and built upon by the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice.  They suggested that it be used for all emergencies.  The project fell to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which meat with AT&T in November 1967 to discuss a solution.  By 1968, AT&T had the system implemented.  On February 16, 1968 Alabama speaker of the house Rankin Filte placed a call from the Haleyville City Hall to Tom Bevill at the city’s police station using 911.  When Tom answered he simply said, “hello”.

The system was not widely used however as it took many cities and towns time to implement the system.  The number itself was not widely know about until the 1970’s and it took until the mid to late 1980’s before most places in the US has 911 services.

Other places’ emergency phone numbers:

  • 000 (Australia)
  • 100 (India, Israel, Nepal)
  • 101 (Argentina)
  • 108 (India)
  • 110 (Macau – for mainland tourists)
  • 111 (New Zealand)
  • 112 (European Union, Macau (overseas tourists), Kuwait and on GSM mobile networks worldwide)
  • 117 (Philippines)
  • 119 (parts of South and East Asia)
  • 133 (Chile)
  • 155 (Turkey)
  • 190 (Brazil)
  • 999 (Poland, Ireland (alongside 112), United Kingdom (where it works parallel to 112), Hong Kong, Macau and several other non-EU countries)
  • 1122 (Pakistan – Punjab and KPK)
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15 February
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The First Teddy Bear

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Theodore Roosevelt Teddy Bear

Theodore Roosevelt Teddy Bear

The first Teddy Bear was the brain child of Morris Michtom who was inspired by the political cartoon above.  The cartoon was drawn by Clifford K. Berryman and called “Drawing the Line in Mississippi,” where President Theodore Roosevelt is depicted showing compassion for a small bear cub.  Michtom liked the cartoon and showed it to his wife, Rose.  Rose went to create the teddy bear.  On February 15, 1903 the Russian Jewish immigrant placed the little teddy bear in his shop window at 404 Tompkins Avenue, New York.

It was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where it is currently on display.  After the creation of the bear in late 1902, the sale of the bears was so brisk that Michtom created the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.  Through many mergers the company was eventually part of Mattel.

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26 January
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First Television Demonstration

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On January 26, 1926 John Logie Baird, a Scottish inventor,  gave what is widely recognized as being the world’s first demonstration of a working television system, to members of the Royal Institution and a newspaper reporter from The Times, at his laboratory in 22 Frith Street, Soho, London.  Unlike later electronic systems with several hundred lines of resolution, Baird’s vertically scanned image had only 30 lines.

In 1927, Baird transmitted a signal over 438 miles via telephone line between London and Glasgow. In 1928, Baird Television Development Company/Cinema Television broadcast the first transatlantic television signal, between London and New York.  In 1929, he became involved in the first experimental electromechanical television service in Germany. In November of the same year, Baird and Bernard Natan of Pathé established France’s first television company, Télévision-Baird-Natan. In 1931, he made the first outdoor remote broadcast, of the Epsom Derby.   Baird’s electromechanical system reached a peak of 240-lines of resolution on BBC television broadcasts in 1936. On November 2, 1936 the BBC began transmitting the world’s first public television service from the Victorian Alexandra Palace in north.  The intermediate film system was discontinued within three months in favor of a 405-line all-electronic system developed by Marconi-EMI.

Learn More:

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15 December
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Glenn Miller Disappears

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U.S. Army Air Force UC-64

U.S. Army Air Force UC-64

On December 15, 1944 Glenn Miller the American big band musician with hits like “In the Mood”, “Moonlight Serenade”, Pennsylvania 6-5000”, and the Chattanooga Choo Choo”, was lost over the English Channel.  Miller was heading out to Paris before the rest of the band to get things situated for them.  Miller’s status is actually missing in action. The plane and all aboard were never found.  According to Wikipedia there are three theories of what occurred:

  1. The Royal Air Force (RAF) may have dropped bombs on his plane by accident.
  2. Clarence B. Wolfe a gunner with the RAF may have fired on his plane.
  3. Lastly, another source says that Miller arrived safely, but while consorting with a Parisian prostitute he had a heart attack and the American military covered the incident up.

Learn more:

There is also the movie The Glenn Miller Story. I couldn’t find this on Netflix instant or Amazon Instant.  But you can purchase on Amazon.

Sources:

 

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11 December
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History Lovers Gift Guide 2013

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I hope you find some gems here. I really had fun looking into this. Click on the links below to learn more about each gift.  There is still plenty of time to give a great gift before Christmas!  Whoever you favorite history buff, nerd or geek is.  If you are worried you don’t have time to purchase online try Amazon Prime.  I was skeptical at first but now that we have it, I love it!

History Magazine

A magazine subscription gives all year long. This is one of the best and least expensive.

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01 December
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The Chunnel Breakthrough

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The Channel Tunnel (“Chunnel” or “Eurotunnel”) is one of the biggest engineering projects ever undertaken in the UK. Taking more than five years to complete, with more than 13,000 workers from England and France collaborating to realize the vision, the tunnel has been named one of the seven wonders of the modern world.  According to Structurae, the cost of the Chunnel was French Franc 45,000,000,000.  The tunnel is 31.4 miles.  The two points it connects are Folkestone, Kent, in the United Kingdom with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais, near Calais in northern France.  The train flies along at 99 miles an hour.  The first ideas for a “chunnel” were in 1802, but it was until 1988 that contstruction on the modern chunnel started and it wasn’t officially opened until 1994.

At 37.9 kilometres (23.5 mi), the tunnel has the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world, although the Seikan Tunnel in Japan is both longer overall at 53.85 kilometres (33.46 mi) and deeper at 240 metres (790 ft) below sea level. -Wikipedia

Today thousands of passengers take the Chunnel every year. Happy 23rd birthday Chunnel!

How the Channel Tunnel was Built

How the Channel Tunnel was Built

Sources:

Video:

Below are all the parts of a discovery show on the construction of the Chunnel:

Part 1:

Much more after the break Read more…

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28 November
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Ferdinand Magellan Reaches the Pacific Ocean

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Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who became known for having organized the expedition that first circumnavigation of the Earth.  On 28 November, the three remaining ships of Magellan’s fleet reached the pacific.  One of the ships was lost during a mutiny earlier in the journey.  Magellan was born in Portugal around 1480. By his mid-20s, he was sailing in large fleets and was committed in combat.  He is known as being the man who proved the the Earth was round back in a time when most people believed it was flat.  You have to remember back in the late-1400s and early 1500s people only knew what they could see and that was only as they could travel.  Seems like the dark ages, but it was just slightly better than that.  In 1505 he travelled all the way to India.  This is probably where he got the idea to travel to the west.

Strait of Magellan

Strait of Magellan

The route he later found is now named for him.  The trip was originally thought to be a very short one, but instead it took them 6 months to get to Guam.  At which point the sailers were starving and pretty upset.  He was killed by poison arrow in the Philippines on April 27, 1521.

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Sources:

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27 November
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Bruce Lee Born

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Bruce Lee with son Brandon in 1966

Bruce Lee with son Brandon in 1966

Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco on November 27, 1940 in the year of the Dragon.  He was raised in Hong Kong and started training in martial arts at the age of 13.  At 18 he returned to the United States and studied at the University of Washington in Seattle.  It was at the University of Washington that he met his future wife Linda Emery, a fellow student studying to become a teacher, whom he married in August 1964.  At this time he also began to teach martial arts.

The most famous of his movies are The Big Boss (1971), Fist of Fury (1972), Way of the Dragon (1972), Enter the Dragon (1973) and Game of Death (1973).  The last two he directed and wrote.

Bruce Lee died all too early at the age of 32 possibly from cerebral edema and/or an allergic reaction to Equaesic a painkiller.

Sources:

Read More:

Bruce Lee's Fighting Method

Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method

Movies:

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