Friday, 30 August 2013

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley born this day 1n 1797

Photograph from the book jacket ~ Mary Shelley by Miranda Seymour

Today is the birthday of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, born Mary Godwin in London, England (1797). She is the author of Frankenstein (1818), which is considered the first science fiction novel ever written.

After her marriage to the poet Percy Shelley, the couple went to stay in a lakeside cottage in Switzerland with the poet Lord Byron in the summer of 1816. One rainy night, after reading a German book of ghost stories, Byron suggested that they all write their own horror stories.

Everyone else wrote a story within the next day, but Mary took almost a week. Finally, she wrote an early version of a story about a scientist who brings a dead body to life. She turned the story into a novel, and Frankenstein was published in 1818. She was 21 years old.

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Thursday, 29 August 2013

John Locke born this day in 1632

Today is the birthday of British philosopher John Locke, born in Wrington, Somerset, England (1632). 

He believed in Natural Law and that people have Natural Rights, under which the right of property is most important. He wrote: "... every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself." He believed government exists to protect those rights and he argued in favour of revolt against tyranny. His ideas were a foundation for much of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

John Locke said, "The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts."

This is the simple announcement that was sent to me by The Writer's Almanac this morning.

Locke passed away in 1704 yet his influence was such that he helped the drafters of the American Constitution to do their work 70 years later.  

It is of interest to read what Wikipedia has to say about him

The Gutenberg Project has one of John Locke's books available as a free download in a variety of formats.  What not have a look at his work to find out why he influenced what is arguably as being the greatest Constitution even written. And one that seems to be under attack today.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe born this day in 1749.

Goethe once said ~

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem. see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."

Goethe was born in Frankfurt and at age 27 moved to Italy. He is remembered mainly as being the author of the drama Faust.
Two years after moving to Italy he returned to Germany and fell in love with a woman from Weimer, Christiane Vulpius, a 23-year-old who was 16 years his junior. That year, he wrote her an epithalamium, a wedding poem, but he didn't actually marry her; instead, the couple lived together for 18 years unwed. That is, until one night, Christiane saved Goethe's life by driving off a band of Napoleon's soldiers who had broken in their home. Goethe went down to a church the very next day and married her, his live-in girlfriend of 18 years.

In 1806, the same year of the home invasion and marriage, Goethe published a preliminary version of Part I of his great work, Faust, the story of a brilliant scholar named Heinrich Faust, who makes a deal with the devil. The great epic has it all: seduction, murder, sleeping potions, an illegitimate love child, a stray poodle that transforms into the devil, contracts signed with blood, imprisonment in dungeons, heavenly voices, and even redemption. Faust is often called a "closet drama" because it's intended to be read, not performed. Goethe spent 50 years working on this two-volume masterpiece, finishing it in 1832, the year of his death.

Christiane survived for only a decade after her and Goethe's wedding. In later life, after recovering from a heart disease that nearly killed him, the 73-year-old Goethe fell passionately in love with an 18-year-old woman, Ulrike von Levetzow, and was devastated when she turned down his proposals of marriage.

Monday, 26 August 2013

My Second Photographic Journey

In late 2006 I decided that the time was right for me to Emigrate again from Britain. The weather had finally "done me in" and in addition I was no longer unable to walk easily.  In fact, without my walking stick I was pretty insecure.

Whilst searching the Net I came across a country in Central America that suited me perfectly.  The climate, the tax laws, the building laws and so on seemed to me to be very favourable.  So I booked a tour with a local organisation and in February flew via New Jersey and Miami to Belize City.

What a trip that was.  I am still friends with several people I met on that tour and we correspond regularly.

The main benefit that I brought back to Blighty was the easing of pain in my left leg.  This was caused by lesions in my lower abdomen following the operation that forced my retirement.  During the Tour I swam twice, overdoing it somewhat, in the warm waters of the Caribbean and this caused the easement.

Why not visit my Picasa Album and enjoy the tour with me?

A Tour of Belize in Central America

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

My first Photographic Journey

This took place in December 2006 and January 2007.  I had just retired from the Great Western Railways and went to Burlington in Ontario, Canada to visit my son and daughter-in-law and her family. 

What a wonderful trip that was and what a friendly and clean place Canada is.  The wide open spaces and the beauty of the country was inspiring. 

I had just bought my first Digital Camera - a Sony W30 - a little gem of a camera.  What Fun we had. This Slideshow is the record of that visit with a few photos added which I took in England upon my return.  I hope you enjoy it.