The Karnak Temple

 

Photographer Unknown, (Inside the Karnak Temple in Luxor)

Consisting of more than one hundred hectares, Karnak is an ancient temple precinct in Egypt located on the east bank of the Nile River in modern-day Luxor, formerly Thebes. The largest sector is the central portion which is dedicated to Amun-Ra, considered to be the supreme creator, the god of fertility and life.

In the southern central sector is a precinct dedicated to the goddess Mut, wife of Amun-Ra, the primal mother goddess who is associated with the waters from which everything is born. She was a patron deity of Thebes along with her husband Amun-Ra and their son Khonsu, god of the moon.

North of the central area is a precinct dedicated to Montu, the falcon headed god of war and embodiment of the conquering vitality of the Pharaoh. A very ancient god, Montu was a manifestation of the scorching destructive effect of Ra, the sun, which caused him first to be considered a warrior and eventually revered as a war-god.

To the east of the central sector, there is an area, destroyed intentionally, that was dedicated to Aten, the solar disc. The deity Aten was the focus of the monotheistic religion established by Amenhotep IV to worship Aten as the creator, the giver of life, and the nurturing spirit of the world. Horemheb, the last Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, reestablished the priesthood of Amun and destroyed the temple area of Atan, the solar disc. A prolific builder, Horemheb constructed the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Pylons of the great Hypostyle Hall in the precinct of Amon-Ra at the Temple of Karnak.

The last major building program at Karnak was under the reign of Nectanebo I, a king of the Thirtieth and last Dynasty of Egypt. He built a large enclosure wall around the site along with another temple. He also started, but did not complete, a new pylon at the western entrance of Karnak. The rulers of foreign descent who took control of Egypt continued work at Karnak, creating a series of burial catacombs dedicated to Osiris, god of the underworld. When Rome seized control of Egypt, work at Karnak ceased, ending a span of two thousand years of construction.

One Thousand and One Nights

“One Thousand and One Nights” , a collection of Mid-Eastern folk tales, was compiled during the Islamic Golden Age, a period of culture, economic and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam.This period is traditionally dated from the reign of Caliph Harun al-Rashid in 786 to 809 and extended, by some scholars’ estimate, as late as the end of the 15th to 16th centuries. The tales have their roots in Arabic, Persian, Indian, Greek, Jewish and Turkish folklore and literature. Collected by various authors and scholars, the stories have been presented in many editions; some contained a few hundred tales and others included a thousand in poem or prose form. 

There are two main Arabic manuscript traditions of the “One Thousand and One Nights”. The Syrian tradition includes the oldest manuscripts, with shorter and fewer tales. Believed the purest expression of the style of the medieval “Arabian Nights”, it has been republished most recently in 1984 and is known as the Leiden Edition. The Egyptian tradition emerged after the Syrian tradition and contains more tales of more varied content, collected over the centuries, including up to the 19th century. This tradition includes 1001 tales and is known as the “Calcutta II” or the “Macnaghten” edition, published between 1839 to 1842. 

The first European version, translated into French by Antoine Galland from the Syrian tradition and other sources, was a twelve-volume work entitled “Les Mille et Une Nuits, Contes Arabes Traduits en Francais”. This work included stories not found in the original Arabic manuscripts but which later became traditionally associated with “Nights”, such as the well-known “Aladdin’s Lamp” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”. Since this first European version published from 1704 to 1717, many other editions have appeared through the years. In 2008, a translation of the Calcutta II edition was made by Malcolm and Ursula Lyons and published in three volumes by Penguin Classics. Although not a complete translation, it contains the standard text of the “1001 Nights”, includes the Ali Baba and Aladdin tales, and all the poetry.

The genre of the “One Thousand and One Nights” tales varies widely. They include tragedies, comedies, poems, historical tales, tales of love, and tales of erotica. Mixed with real people and geographic locations are sorcerers, jinns, apes, magicians, and places of legend. Probably the best known translation to English is Sir Richard Francis Burton’s “The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night”, a ten-volume version published in 1885. Printed during the Victorian era in England, it contained all the erotic nuances of the original material, complete with sexual imagery and gay allusions added as appendices. Sir Richard Burton avoided the strict obscenity laws of the Victorian era by printing an edition for subscribers only instead of a formal publishing.

The exotic atmosphere of “One Thousand and One Nights” lent itself easily to film, influencing Fritz Lang’s “Der müde Tod”, a parable fantasy of love and death with the figure of Death transporting the heroine to Persia, Venice of the 15th century, and China. In 1924, Raoul Walsh’s “The Thief of Bagdad” starred Douglas Fairbanks on a magical journey to win the hand of the Caliph of Bagdad’s daughter. The collection of tales also influenced the 1926 feature-length animated film “The Adventures fo Prince Achmed” by Lotte Reiniger The oldest surviving animation feature film, it contained exotic lands, magical adventures, flying horses, and a handsome prince meeting Aladdin. 

The gif images of Nyle DiMarco are from Ariana Grand’s “7 Rings”, the ASL Version, located at this site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTkIsqdBCtk. This production was directed by Jake Wilson with cinematography by Matthew Tompkins. The ASL Version’s translation is by Nyle DiMarco, co-produced by Nyle DiMarco and Sami Housman.

Wat Samphran

Wat Samphran, a Buddhist temple in Amphoe Sam Phran, is located about forty kilometers west of Bangkok in Thailand. The seventeen story temple is known for its gigantic dragon which curls around the entire height of the building. The dragon contains a staircase, which, due to its poor condition, is no longer in use.

The founder of the temple, after a seven-day fasting meditation, realized the design of the structure. The 80 meters tall building honors the number of years that the Buddha manifested on the earth. A large figure of the Buddha resides on the third floor and a shrine to the Goddess of Mercy is located on the grounds of the temple.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 24th of November,  Solar Year 2018

One Facet of Life

November 24, 1639 marks the first known observation and recording of a transit of Venus.

By the 17th century, two developments allowed for the transits of planets across the face of the sun to be predicted and observed. One was the telescope of which the actual inventor is unknown; a patent for a refracting telescope was submitted in 1608 in the Netherlands by spectacle maker Hans Lippershey. Galileo heard about it, and in 1609 built his own version, making observations of celestial objects.

The second development was the new astronomy of Johannes Kepler, which assumed elliptical rather than circular orbits fro the planets. In 1627, Kepler published his “ Rudolphine Tables”, a star catalogue and planetary tables using some observational data collected by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Two years later, Kepler published extracts from his tables concerning the transit of Mercury and of Venus for the year 1631. These occurred as predicted and were observed by several astronomers, vindicating Kepler’s approach to astronomical theory.

The first known observations and recording of the transit of Venus across the sun were made in 1639 by the English astronomers Jeremiah Horrocks and his friend and correspondent William Crabtree. These observations were made on November 24, under the Julian calendar then in use in England. This calendar was refined and gradually replaced by our Gregorian calendar initiated by Pope Gregory XIII, changing the observation date to December 4th of that year. Horrocks observed the event from the village of Much Hoole, Lancashire, and Crabtree, independently, observed the event from his home in Broughton, near Manchester.

Both men, followers of Kepler’s astronomy, were self-taught mathematical astronomers who methodically worked to correct and improve Kepler’s Tables by observation and measurement. In 1639, Horrocks was the only astronomer who realized that the transit of Venus was imminent; others became aware only upon receiving Horrocks’s report. The two men’s observations and later mathematical work were influential in establishing the size of the solar system. For their achievements, they are considered the founders fo British research astronomy.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 16th of November,  Solar Year 2018

Yellow Skyscrapers

On November 16, 1581, Ivan the Terrible attacks his son and heir, Ivan Ivanovich.

Ivan Ivanovich was a Tsarevich, a heir apparent of Russia, and the second son of Ivan IV Vasilyevich, known as Ivan the Terrible. Young Ivan at the age of fifteen accompanied his father, who was seeking control of the city of Novgordo, during what became known as the Massacre of Novgordo. For a period of five weeks, Ivan and his father watched the army attack the city and slaughter all its noblemen.

Ivan Ivanovich’s relationship with his father began to deteriorate during the later stages of the Livonian War, where Russia faced a coalition of armed forces from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Union consisting of Lithuania and Poland. Angry with his father for his military failures, Ivan demanded to be given command of some of the troops to liberate the besieged city of Pskov, a Russian-held city under attack.

The relationship between father and son deteriorated further in November of 1581 when the Tsar physically assaulted Ivan’s pregnant wife. As a consequence, Ivan the younger’s wife, Yelena, suffered a miscarriage. Confronted about this, the Tsar changed the subject, accusing the younger Ivan of inciting rebellion and insubordination regarding Ivan’s recent actions of liberating the city of Pskov from the siege.

Angered, the Tsar Ivan struck his son, the younger Ivan, on the head with his scepter. Boris Godunov, minister to the court, tried to intervene but only received blows from the scepter himself. The younger Ivan fell, barely conscious with a bleeding wound on his temple. The younger Ivan only briefly regained consciousness before being transported to his chamber. For the next few days, Ivan the Terrible prayed for a miracle to save his son, but to no avail, Ivan Ivanovich, the Tsaravich, died on three days later on November 19, 1581.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 7th of November,  Solar Year 2018

Fervor Doubled

On November 7, 1492, the Ensisheim Meteorite strikes a wheat field in Alsace, France.

Shortly before noon on November 7, 1492, a meteorite fell in a field just outside the walled city of Ensisheim in Alsace, France. The fall of the meteorite through the Earth’s atmosphere was observed as a fireball at a distance of up to 150 kilometres from where it eventually landed. The only witness was a young boy who saw the single stone punch itself a meter deep into what is now the rich soil of the eastern French countryside. It is the oldest meteorite impact with a confirmed date on record, and has become famous for its dramatic fall from the heavens, recorded for posterity by the Italian priest Sigismondo Tizio.

In an age when comets, shooting stars, and other celestial phenomenon remained unexplained, the appearance of the meteorite was quickly attributed to divine intervention. When the citizens of Ensisheim learned of the fall, many people wanted their own souvenir of the event in the form a fragment chipped from the main mass. As the crowds descended on the stone, the Chief Magistrate took charge and stopped further destruction. The stone was set at the door of the Ensisheim church where its fame was soon magnified.

On November 26th, the “King of the Romans” King Maximilian arrived in Ensisheim to consult privately with the stone. Several days later, Maximilian declared the meteorite to be a wonder of God, and then chipped off two small pieces of the stone, one for himself and one for his friend Archduke Sigismund of Austria. King Maximilian gave the stone back to the citizens of Ensisheim stating that it should be preserved in the parish church as evidence of God’s miracles. The meteorite was fixed to the church wall with iron crampons “to prevent it from wandering at night or departing in the same violent manner it had arrived” .

Today, the Ensisheim meteorite resides on display at the sixteenth-century Musée de la Régence in Ensisheim. It is now protected in the town; but over centuries,  visitors managed to chip off about 56 kg (123 pounds) of its original 127-kg mass. The Ensisheim meteorite is classified as an ordinary chondrite, the most abundant meteorite class, constituting more than 85 percent of meteorite falls.

Sebastian Brant, satirist and author of “Das Narrenschiff”, described the meteorite and its fall in the poem “Loose Leaves Concerning the Fall of the Meteorite”. Brant created broadsheets in Latin and German with a poem about the meteorite describing it as an omen. On the reverse side of Albrecht Dürer’s 1495 painting “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness” is an image of what appears to be a meteor/meteorite. It has been suggested that this might be the Ensisheim Meteorite.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 2nd of November,  Solar Year 2018

He Says “Woof”

November 2, 1947 marks the first and only flight of the Hughes H-4 Hercules, known as the Spruce Goose.

In 1942, the U.S. War Department needed to transport war material and personnel to Britain. A requirement was issued for an aircraft that could cross the Atlantic with a large payload; however, because of wartime priorities, the aircraft could not be made from strategic materials such as aluminum. Henry J. Kaiser, a leading ship builder, teamed with aircraft designer Howard Hughes to create the largest aircraft ever built at that time.

The aircraft was designed to carry 150,000 pounds, 750 fully equipped troops, or two 30-ton M4 Sherman tanks. The final design was to be built mostly of wood to conserve metal, with its elevators and rudder covered with fabric. The construction of the first prototyple, the HK-1, took sixteen months. Henry Kaiser, frustrated by the long delays and the restrictions on materials, decided to withdraw from the project.

Howard Hughes continued the program on his own, under a new contract limiting the production to one plane, now the H-4 Hercules. Work proceeded slowly and the H-4 was not completed until the war was over. The plane was built by the Hughes Aircraft Company using composite technology for the laminated wood construction. The finished plane was moved in three sections to Pier E in Long Beach, California, where a hanger was erected around it with a ramp to launch the H-4 into the harbor. In all, development cost for the plane was twenty-three million dollars, or more than ten times that in today dollars.

On November 2, 1947, with Howard Hughes at the controls, and a crew of seven, and fourteen invited guests, the Hercules picked up speed and lifted off. The Hercules remained airborne for 26 seconds at a height of seventy feet above the water and a speed of 135 miles per hour. At this altitude the aircraft still experienced ground effect. This brief flight proved that the now uneeded aircraft was flight worthy. The Hercules H-4 never flew again; its lifting capacity and ceiling height were never tested.

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has the Hughes H-1 Racer and a section of theH-4’s wing. The Aero Club of Southern California acquired the Hercules H-4 aircraft in 1980, displaying it in a very large geodesic dome in Long Beach, California. The club later arranged for the aircraft to be given to the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon where it is currently on display. The 315,000 square foot aircraft hanger where the Hercules H-4 was built, located in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles,  is on the National Register of Historical Buildings.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 26th of October, Solar Year 2018

Slow Moving Water

October 26, 1825 marks the opening of the Erie Canal.

From the days of the birchbark canoe, the early trade routes of the Northeast utilized New York’s waterways. The Lake Champlain-Hudson River Route and the Lake Ontario-Oswego River-Mohawk River Route were utilized by native Americans, fur traders, missionaries and colonizers. The birchbark canoes used earlier were supplemented by longer heavier boats rowed or pulled by several men, which by 1791 was able to haul a two ton load.

In March of 1792, the Western Inland Lock and Navigation Company came into being and improved navigation on the Mohawk River. Also in that year, this company built small canals 3 feet deep with locks of 12 feet by 74 feet around the falls and rapids of the river. By 1796, Durham boats with capacities of 15-20 tons were able to navigate the route. Although business was brisk, maintenance on the wooden locks and channels depleted revenue and the operation folded a few years later.

In 1817 the Erie Canal was established under the management of a New York State Commission. Federal funds were not legislated; so this canal and all subsequent canals in New York State were built and maintained exclusively with state funds. The canal was dug from Albany to Buffalo, 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide, with stone locks 15 feet by 90 feet. The locks were the limiting factor on boat size and their efficiency of operation dictated the allowable traffic flow.

Additional canals were dug from the Hudson River to Lake Champlain, from Montezuma to Cayuga and Seneca Lakes and from Syracuse to Oswego. This canal system proved to be so successful that almost every community in the state lobbied for a link to the system, resulting in a network of canals. These lateral canals proved to be of marginal value at best:

In 1836, an enlargement program commenced on the main Erie Canal system. The canal was straightened a bit, the channel was increased in size to 7 feet by 70 feet, and the locks were enlarged to 18 feet by 110 feet. This permitted boats of much greater size on the Erie, Champlain, Cayuga-Seneca and Oswego canals, and further diminished the importance of the smaller lateral canals. Most of the lateral canals were closed by 1878 with only the Black River Canal lasting until the eventual close of the entire system in 1917.

The growth of steam power on the canal and steel boat construction eliminated the need for a waterway as protected as the old Erie Canal. A twentieth century canal of grand dimension with cast concrete structures and electronic controls was begun. This Barge Canal system, utilizing canalized rivers and lakes and enlarged sections of the original Erie Canal, opened in 1918. Several of the old routes are still utilized today.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 22nd of October, Solar Year 2018

The Bibliophile

October 22, 1797 marks the first parachute descent from a balloon in Paris.

Early inventors have been designing and testing parachutes since the seventeenth century. Croatian bridge designer Faust Vrancic constructed a device based on Da Vinci’s drawings. To demonstrate it, he jumped rom a Venice tower in 1617 wearing the rigid-framed parachute. He called it the Homo Volans, describing it in his published technical book “Machinae Novae”.

The French inventor Jean Pierre Blanchard was probably the first person to use a  parachute for an emergency. Blanchard claimed in 1793 to have escaped from an exploding hot air balloon by parachute. There were no eye witnesses to the event unfortunately. He did, however, develop the first foldable parachute made from silk.

Andre-Jacques Garnerin was a student of the ballooning pioneer professor Jacques Charles, a French scientist and mathematician. Garnerin was involved with the flight of hot air balloons, working with his older brother in most of his ballooning activities. He began to experiment with early parachutes based on umbrella-shaped devices.

Garnerin became the first person recorded to jump with a parachute without a rigid frame. His frameless parachute descent occurred on October 22 in 1797 at Parc Monceau, a public park in Paris. His parachute was made of silk in an umbrella-shape with a diameter of about ten meters. The umbrella was closed before he ascended, with a pole running down its center and a rope running through a tube in the pole, which was connected to the balloon.

Garnerin rode in a basket attached to the bottom of the parachute to a height of about 1000 meters. At this height, he severed the rope to the balloon. The balloon continued upwards, while Garnerin, in his basket with parachute, fell. The basket swayed violently on its descent, and landed roughly; but Garnerin emerged uninjured. Garnerin made multiple ascents and tests with his parachute at the Parc Monceau.

Andre-Jacques Garnerin was an avid balloonist, making many ascents in a balloon before large numbers of spectators. In 1798 he was the first to ascend with a woman as a passenger. There was much concern from officials regarding the possible ill effects of ascent on a woman and the moral implications of the such close proximity of the sexes. Nevertheless, the balloon trip was successful; and both Garnerin and passenger Citoyenne Henri arrived safely at their destination in Goussaninville about thirty miles north of Paris.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 15th of October, Solar Year 2018

Lost in Thought

October 15, 1674 was the opening day of the witch trials held in Torsåker, a parish in Sweden.

The great wave of witch hysteria reached the parish of Torsåker, after the sensational trial of the alleged witch Märet Jonsdotter in central Sweden in 1668. Sweden’s Lutheran priests, at this time, were state-employed, causing them to follow the government’s instructions. These priests were ordered to use their sermons to inform their congregations of alleged crimes committed; rumors of witchcraft spread over the country. The priest of Torsåker parish, Laurnetius Christophori Hornæus, who was a man with a terrifying reputation, was ordered by a special commission of the government to perform an investigation.

The witnesses at the trial were mostly children, as the main accusations against the alleged witches was that they had abducted children on the sabbath of Satan. Hornæus had several methods to get the right testimonies from the children. He whipped them, bathed them in the ice cold water of hole in the lake’s winter ice, and put them in an oven, threatening to light the fire below and burn them. These acts were confirmed later in 1735 by Hornæus’ own wife, whose grandson added that these children, sixty years later, were still fearful of the priest, his grandfather.

On October 15, 1674, the witch trial of Torsåker began. About one hundred people of both sexes were accused by the children, making it the biggest witch trial in the country. The prisoners were kept in several different locations in the village, were given almost no food, but were allowed to receive food from their relatives. There is little existing records of the actual trial itself; however, it is known that seventy-one people were found guilty of witchcraft, sixty-five women and six men.

After the last sermon in the church of Torsåker, those found guilty were led to the place of execution, crying and protesting their innocence. Many fainted out of weakness and had to be carried to the middle of the parish, about half a mile from the parish churches, to a mountain area. There the prisoners were decapitated, shed of their clothes, and their bodies lifted on stakes. The stakes and additional wood were set on fire and the bodies burned.

Neither the commission or any local courts had the rights to conduct any execution. They were expected to report their sentences in any case to a higher court for confirmation before sentences could be carried out; the high court normally would confirm only a minority of the death sentences. In this case at Torsåker, no reporting was done and the prisoners were executed without any confirmation. No actions were taken against the commission which was defended by the town’s authorities.  In 1677, all the priests were ordered to tell their congregations that all witches had been expelled from the country forever in order to avoid further witch trials.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 11th of October, Solar Year 2018

Two Silver Rings

October 11, 1634 marks the night of the Burchardi Flood that struck the North Sea coast of North Frisia and Dithmarschen, now modern day Germany.

The Buchardi flood hit the northern-most coast of Germany during a weak economic time. A plague epidemic had spread across the land in 1603. Fighting had occurred between the inhabitants and the troops of Frederick III during the Thirty Years’ War, leading to the inhabitants defeat in 1629. This fighting caused great damage to the coastal protections against heavy weather.

Several floods had hit the coastline before the Burchadi incident. Large floating pieces of winter ice had already caused major damage to the dikes by 1625. The losses from the war and lack of ready resources led to insufficient maintenance of the dikes; even in the summer the dikes were failing.

The weather had been calm for weeks before the flood; however a strong storm began on the evening of October 11, 1634, heading ashore from the east. The winds turned southwest during the evening, developing into a extratropical cyclone from the northeast. The sea rose to the top of the dikes. Rain washed away soil from under houses, destroying them and washing away its occupants. Ships were left stranded on roadways.

The first dike broke in the Stintebull Parish on Strand Island at ten o’clock in the evening. By two o’clock in the morning, the water had reached its peak level, about thirteen feet above mean high tide levels. During the night the dikes broke at several hundred locations along the North Sea coastline of Schleswig-Holstein. Estimations of fatalities range from 8,000 to 15,000 people; however, there was an undetermined number of foreign workers in the area who could not be accounted for after the flood.

On Strand Island alone, at least 6,000 people lost their lives, two-thirds of the population of the island. Fifty thousand livestock were lost; the water destroyed 1,300 houses and 30 of the island’s mills. All twenty-one of the churches were heavily damaged, with seventeen completely destroyed. The entire new harvest was destroyed; and the island of Strand was torn apart into smaller islands, with two major portions of the island’s previous land submerged.

Large parts of the coastal land were flooded for weeks and months. Due to tidal currents, the breaches in the dikes increased and several dikes completely washed into the sea. Saline sea water submerged the fields, rendering them useless for agriculture. According to the Nordstrand dike law, any tenant who could not secure the land against the sea with dikes forfeited their right of owning land. Thus many of the surviving and now destitute farmers lost the right to their homes.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 4th of October, Solar Year 2018

Resting on White Sheets

October 4, 1363 marked the end of the Battle of Lake Poyang.

The Battle of Lake Poyang was a naval conflict which took place between August 30 and October 4, 1363 between the rebel forces of Zhu Yuanzhang  and Chen Youliang, a rival local warlord, which eventually led to the fall of the Yuan Dynasty.

General Chen Youliang was a Red Turban rebel, who assassinated the existing Red Turban leader and usurped his regime, the Great Han Dynasty. On August 30, 1363, Chen’s forces conducted a major assault on the Ming Dynasty’s city of Nanchang with a hundred naval vessels. After failing to force entry into the city gates, Chen’s forces were repelled by a barrage of canon fire. Chen set up a blockade, with the hope of starving out the defenders; however, a small boat managed to slip out and reached the city of Nanjing in time to warn Zhu Yuanzhang of the Ming Dynasty.

On August 30, Zhu’s fleet, only about a third the size of Chen’s forces, engaged Chen under orders to get close to the enemy’s ships and set off gunpowder weapons, and finally attack with short range weapons. Zhu’s Ming forces succeeded in burning twenty or more enemy vessels and killing or drowning many of the troops. When Zhu’s flagship caught fire and hit a sandbar, he was forced to withdraw.

On August 31, Zhu’s  forces rammed Chen’s enemy fleet with fire ships, vessels deliberately set on fire and sailed into the enemy ships. Many more ships of Chen’s fleet were destroyed. The two fleets engaged in battle again on the 2nd of September; but the tide turned and this time Chen’s forces were forced to withdraw.

Zhu Yuanzhang decided to blockade the enemy ships and forces. This blockade lasted for a month until Zhu’s forces employed fireships again on the 4th of October. The remainder of Chen’s fleet were destroyed. During the battel, Chen Youliang was killed when an arrow struck his head.

The Battle of Lake Poyang was the last major battle of the rebellion prior to the rise of the Ming Dynasty. Chen’s forces were estimated at one hundred vessels and 650,000 men, of which all the vessels were destroyed and most of his army. Zhu’s forces were estimated at 30- 40 vessels and a force of 200,000 men, of which 1,346 died and 11,347 were wounded.

The Ming victory at this battle cemented their position to take command when the Yuan Dynasty fell, which happened five years later in 1368. Zhu Yuanzhang became the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty under the name of Hongwu. He claimed the Mandate of Heaven and occupied the Yuan capital, Khanbaliq, now present-day Beijing.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 1st of October, Solar Year 2018

Love with a Heart

October 1, 1908 marks the introduction of the Ford Model T by the Ford Motor Company.

The Ford Model T was produced by the Ford Motor Company from October 1908 until May of 1927. It is regarded as the first affordable automobile, the car that opened travel to the common middle-class American. The success of the automobile came not only because it provided inexpensive transportation on a massive scale; but it also signified innovation for the rising middle class and became a symbol of the age of modernization.

Although automobiles had been around for decades, by 1908 they were still mostly scarce, unreliable and expensive to purchase. Marketed as reliable and easily maintained, the Model T was a immediate success. Within days of its release, fifteen thousand orders had been placed. On September 27, 1908, the first production Model T left the factory at Piquette Avenue in Detroit.

The Model T was designed by Childe Harold Wills, and Hungarian engineers Joseph Galamb and Eugene Farkas. The original engine was capable of running on gasoline, kerosene, or ethanol, which eventually became an impractical fuel once Prohibition started. The ignition system was an unusual one, using a low-voltage magneto incorporated in the flywheel, as opposed to the high-voltage ones on other vehicles. This made the Model T more flexible in the quality or type of fuel used. The starter was hand-cranked; and acetylene and oil lamps provided illumination for the road.

In the first years of production from 1908 to 1913, the only colors available for the Model T were gray, green, blue, and red: Green for touring cars, town cars and coupes; Gray for only town cars; and Red only for touring cars. By 1912, all cars were painted midnight blue with black fenders. In 1914, the policy became only black cars, due to the low cost, durability, and faster drying time of black paint in that era. During the lifetime production of the Model T, over thirty types of black paint of different formulations were used on various parts of the car.

The initial cost of a Model T Runabout in 1909 was $825 with the Model T Touring costing $850, equivalent to about $23,000 today. With the innovation of the moving assembly line production at the Ford Company, the costs dropped substantially: from $440 in 1914 to $345 in 1916. By the year 1925, with almost two million cars produced that year, the cost of a Model T Runabout was $260 and the cost of the Touring Model was down to $290. Overall, a total of 14,689,525 Model T’s rolled off the assembly line during its years of production.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 25th of September, Solar Year 2018

The Source of Inspiration

On September 25, 1906 Leonardo Torres Quevedo successfully demonstrated his Telekino before a crowd in Bilboa, Spain.

Torres Quevedo traveled throughout Europe, studying the scientific and technical advances of the day, especially in the initial stages of the science of electricity. He returned to Spain, set up residence in Santander where he began a regiment of study and investigation. From the work Quevedo accomplished from 1890 to 1899, the cultural institution Athenaeum of Madrid created the Laboratory of Applied Mechanics of which he was named director. The same year, he entered the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences in Madrid, which he later presided over in 1910.

In early 1910, Torres Quevedo began to construct a chess automaton, that was able to automatically play a king and rook endgame against king from any position, without any human intervention. This device was demonstrated in Paris in 1914 and is considered the world’s first computer game. In the prototype, mechanical arms moved the pieces; later in 1920, electromagnets under the board was used for this task.

Torres Quevedo demonstrated twice, in 1914 and in 1920, that all of the cogwheel functions of a calculating machine, like that of inventor Charles Babbage’s design, could be implemented using electromechanical parts. Quevedo’s 1914 analytical machine used a small memory built with electromagnets; his 1920 machine used a typewriter to receive its commands and print its results.

Torres Quevedo presented the Telekino with a lecture and a demonstration at the Paris Academy of Science in 1903. He obtained a patent in that year covering the territories of France, Spain, Great Britain and the United States. The Telekino consisted of a robot that executed commands transmitted by electromagnetic waves. It constituted the world’s second publicly demonstrated apparatus for radio control and was a pioneer in the field of remote control. On September 25, 1906, In the presence of the King of Spain and a great crowd, Torres Quevedo successfullly deomonstrated the Telekino in the port of Balboa, Spain, guiding a boat from the shore. With his Telekino, Torres Quevedo created wireless remote-control operation principles.

In 1916 King Alfonso XIII of Spain bestowed the Echegaray Medal upon Torres Quevedo. The Sorbonne of Paris named him an Honorary Doctor in 1922; and he was named one of the twelve associated members of the Academy in 1927. In 2007, the presitgious Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers dedicated a Milestone Award in Electrical Engineering and Computing to Quevedo’s Telekino.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 23rd of September, Solar Year 2018

The Lure of Nature’s Forests

September 23, 1806 marks the return of Lewis and Clark Expedition to the city of Saint Louis.

The Corps of Discovery Expedition, known to history as the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was the first American expedition to cross the western portion of the United States. It was a selected group of US Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his friend Second Lieutenant William Clark. Its commission by President Thomas Jefferson was to explore and map the new territory of the Louisiana Purchase and establish an American presence in the territory.

Merwether Lewis had no formal education in his early years; but he became a skilled hunter and outdoorsman in the Broad River Valley of Georgia, developing a life-long interest in natural history. In 1793, Lewis graduated from Washington and Lee University. In 1795 Lewis joined the US Army, commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, rising to the rank of Captain in 1800 and ending his service in 1801. When President Jefferson began to plan the exploration of the newly purchased Louisiana territory, he chose Lewis, then at the age of 28, to lead the expedition. Meriwether Lewis recruited his close army friend William Clark, then age 33, to share command.

Meriwether Lewis spent the year of 1803 in study for preparation for the trip. He was sent to Philadelphia to study medicinal cures under Benjamin Rush, a physician, and was further educated by Andrew Ellicott, an astronomer who instructed him in the use of the sextant and other navigational instruments. At Monticello, Jefferson possessed the largest library in the world on the geography of the North American continent; and Lewis had full access to it.

The Corps of Discovery met their objective of reaching the Pacific, mapping and establishing their presence for a legal claim to the land. They established diplomatic relations and trade with at least two dozen indigenous nations. The Corps was not successful in finding a continuous waterway to the Pacific Ocean but located an Indian trail that led from the upper end of the Missouri River to the Columbia River which ran to the Pacific Ocean.

The Corps gained information about the natural habitat, flora and fauna, bringing back various plant, seed and mineral specimens. They mapped the topography of the land, designating the location of mountain ranges, rivers and the many Indian tribes during the course of their journey. The Corps also learned and recorded much about the language and customs of the American Indian tribes they encountered, and brought back many artifacts, including bows, clothing and ceremonial robes.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 16th of September, Solar Year 2018

Red and Whites

On September 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla spoke his famous “El Grito de Dolores” to his congregation.

Father Hidalgo was born into a moderately wealthy family in the city of Guanajuato, northwest of Mexico City, in 1753. He attended the Jesuit College of San Francisco Javier, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mexico in 1774, and was ordained into the priesthood in 1778. He soon earned the enmity of the authorities, however, by openly challenging both church doctrine and aspects of Spanish rule by developing Mexican agriculture and industry.

In 1803, Hidalgo accepted the curacy of the small parish of Dolores, not far from his native city of Guanajuato. Between 1803 and 1810, he directed most of his energy to improving the economic prospects of his parishioners. Hildalgo also joined the Academia Literaria, a committee seeking Mexico’s independence from Spain.

In September 1810, Spanish authorities learned of the group’s plot to incite a rebellion. On September 13, they searched the home of Emeterio González in the city of Queretaro where they found a large supply of weapons and ammunition. Warned of his impending arrest, Hidalgo, on the morning of September 16th, summoned the largely Indian and mestizo congregation of his small Dolores parish church and preempted authorities by issuing the “El Grito de Dolores”, urging the people to take up arms and fight for Mexico’s independence from Spain.  Attracting enthusiastic support from the Indian and mestizo population, he and his band of supporters moved toward the town of San Miguel.

The rebel army encountered its first serious resistance at Guanajuato. After a fierce battle that took the lives of more than 500 Spaniards and 2,200 Indians, the rebels won the city. By October of 1810, the rebel army, now 80,000 strong, was close to taking Mexico City. Hidalgo, fearful of unleashing the army on the capital city, hesitated, then retreated to the north.

He was captured in Texas, then still a part of the Spanish empire, and executed by firing squad on July 31, 1811. After ten more years of fighting, a weakened and divided Mexico finally won independence from Spain with the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba on August 24, 1821. Father Hidalgo’s “El Grito de Dolores” is commemorated on September 16 as Mexican Independence Day.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 9th of September, Solar Year 2018

Summer Leisure

September 9, 1924 marks the day of the Battle of Hanapepe in Hawaii.

Sugarcane was introduced to Hawaii by its first inhabitants and was observed by British sailors upon arrival in 1841. Sugar quickly turned into a big business and generated rapid population growth in the islands with 337,000 people immigrating over the span of a century. By the 1840s, sugarcane plantations had a foothold in Hawaiian agriculture and market demand had increased.

By the 1920s sugarcane plantation owners had become disillusioned with both Japanese and Filipino workers and tried to get the U.S. Congress to relax restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act, hoping to bring in new Chinese workers. However, organized labor on the U.S. mainland supported the Exclusion act; so for a while militant unionism on the Hawaiian plantations was a not an issue. To oppose organized labor, the Hawaiian Territorial Legislature passed the 1919 Criminal Syndicalism Law, the Anarchistic Publication Law of 1921 and the 1923 Anti-Picketing Law.

These laws with penalties up to ten years in prison, increased the discontent of workers. The Filipinos, the dominant work force, had deep-seated grievances, being treated the most poorly. Planters claimed labor shortages but were actively seeking workers from the Philippines, only hiring illiterate workers and turning back any arrivals who could read or write, as many as one in six.

By 1922 Filipino labor activist Pablo Manlapit had organize a 13,000 member Filipino Higher Wage Movement. In 1924 it called for a strike on the island of Kaua’i demanding two dollars a day in wages and a reduction of the workday to eight hours. As previously done, the plantation owners used armed forces, the National Guard and strike-breakers to put down the strike. Workers were turned out of their homes; propaganda whipped up racism; and infiltration of the strikers’ ranks were done.

On September 9, 1924, outraged strikers seized two strike-breakers at Hanapepe and prevented them from working. The police, armed with clubs and guns, came to the union headquarters to rescue them. The Filipino strikers armed with homemade weapons and knives resisted the police. By the end of the Battle of Hanapepe, local police had shot dead nine strikers and fatally wounded seven; strikers had shot and stabbed three sheriffs to death and fatally wounded one. A total of twenty people had died in the battle.

After the battle, police rounded up all male protesters they could find; a total of 101 Filipino men were arrested. Seventy-six were brought to trial with sixty of these receiving four-year jail sentences. Pablo Manlapit was charged with subornation of perjury and was sentenced to two to ten years in prison. After a short term, he was paroled on condition that he leave Hawaii. After the 1924 strike, the labor movement in Hawaii dwindled but did not die. Manlapit returned in 1932 and started a new labor organization, including all ethnic groups. However, because of the Great Depression years, not much was accomplished besides small nuisance strikes in 1933.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 3rd of September, Solar Year 2018

Feet Off the Ground

September 3, 301 is the official founding date of the Republic of San Marino.

The Republic of San Marino is an enclave micro-state surrounded by Italy, situated on the northeastern side of Italy in the Apennine Mountains. Its size is just over 61 square kilometers or 24 square miles. San Marino has the smallest population, 33, 562 inhabitants, of all the Council of Europe’s forty-seven member states.

Saint Marius, a stonemason by trade who came from modern-day Croatia, fled persecution for his Christian beliefs during the Diocletianic Persecution, the last and most severe of the persecutions by the Roman Empire. He became a deacon and was ordained by Gaudentius, the Bishop of Rimini, a diocese in Italy. Saint Marius fled to Monte Titano and built a chapel and monastery there; its founding date was September 3rd in the year 301. After Marius’ canonization as a saint, the State of Marino grew from that monastery.

San Marino is governed by its constitution, the Leges Statutae Republicae Sanct Marini, a series of six books written in Latin in the late 16th century. These books dictate the country’s political system, among other matters. The country is considered to have the earliest written governing documents, still in effect. San Marino’s independence was recognized in 1631 by the Papacy.

Although traces of human presence from both prehistoric and Roman times exist in the territory, Mount Titano and its slopes are known to have been populated, with certainty, only after the arrival of St. Marinus and his followers. San Marino citizens, or Sammarinesi, make up more than four-fifths of the country’s population, with Italians composing most of the remainder. There is no official religion, although the majority are Roman Catholics, and the official language is Italian.

Because centuries-long quarrying has exhausted Mount Titano’s stone and ended the craft that depended upon it, the territory is now without mineral resources. All electrical power is transferred via electrical grid from Italy, San Marino’s main trading partner. The country’s principal resources are industry, tourism, commerce, agriculture, and crafts. Ceramic and wrought-iron articles, as well as modern and reproduction furniture, are among San Marino’s traditional craft products. Fine printing, particularly of collectible postage stamps, is a consistent source of revenues; and banking is a vital industry. San Marino adopted the euro as its national currency.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 17th of August, Solar Year 2018

The Birdcage

August 17, 1590 marks the date Governor John White returned to the Roanoke Island colony, only to find it abandoned.

The first attempted settlement at Roanoke Island was headed by Ralph Lane in 1585. Sir Richard Grenville had transported the colonists to Virginia and returned to England for supplies as planned. The colonists were desperately in need of supplies and Grenville’s return was delayed. While awaiting his return, the colonists relied heavily upon a local Algonquian tribe. In an effort to gain more food supplies, Lane led an unprovoked attack, killing the Secotan’s chieftain Wingina and effectively cutting off the colony’s primary food source. As a result, when Sir Francis Drake arrived at Roanoke, the entire population abandoned the colony and returned with Drake to England.

In 1587, a group of 120 English men, women and children now led by John White tried to settle in Roanoke Island again. At this point in time the Secotan Tribe and their Roanoke dependents were totally hostile to the English; but the Croatoan tribe, who were on better terms with the previous settlers, remained allies. Manteo. the Croatoan chief, remained aligned with the English and attempted to bring the English and his Croatoan tribe together. John White, father of the colonist Eleanor Dare and grandfather to Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World, left the colony to return to England for supplies. He expected to return to Roanoke Island within three months.

Instead, England itself was attacked by massive Spanish Invasion; all ships were confiscated for use for defending the English Channel. White’s return to Roanoke Island was delayed until 1590, by which time all the colonists had disappeared. The settlement was left abandoned. The whereabouts of Manteo and his people after the 1587 settlement attempt were also unknown.

Speculation has suggested that Manteo left with his people to live on Croatoan island. The only clue White found was the word “CROATOAN” carved into a post, as well as the letters, “CRO” carved into a tree. Before leaving the colony three years earlier, White had left instructions that if the colonists left the settlement, they were to carve the name of their destination, with an added  Maltese cross if they left due to danger.

Croatoan was the name of an island to the south, now known as Hatteras Island where the Croatoan people, still friendly to the English, was known to live. The 1587 colonists might have tried to reach that island. However, foul weather kept White from venturing south to search on Croatoan for the colonists, so he returned to England. White never returned to the New World. Unable to determine exactly what happened, people referred to the abandoned settlement as “The Lost Colony.” The fate of those first colonists remains unknown to this day and is one of America’s most intriguing unsolved mysteries.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 11th of August, Solar Year 2018

Smoke  in the Air

August 11, 1866 marks the opening of the first roller rink in the United States.

The four-wheeled turning roller skate, or quad skate, with four wheels set in two side-by-side pairs (front and rear), was first designed, in New York City by James Leonard Plimpton, a New York city furniture dealer, in an attempt to improve upon previous designs. Instead of being directly attached to the sole of the skate, the wheel assembly was fastened to a pivot with a rubber cushion. The pivoting action allowed the skater to skate a curve just by pressing his weight to one side or the other, most commonly by leaning to one side.

James Plimpton received a patent for the design in 1863. A modification of leather straps and metal side braces was added to the design in 1866. This addition to the quad skate allowed easier turns and maneuverability, and the quad skate came to dominate the industry for more than a century.

James Plimpton started the New York Roller Skating Association (NYRSA) and leased the The Atlantic House Hotel in Newport, converting the dining room into a skating area. On August 11th in 1866, the first roller rink opened to the public in the United States. The sport was not promoted for the masses but as an acceptable supervised activity for young ladies and gentlemen. To control the quality of his clientele, Plimpton did not sell his skates, but rented them. As rinks proliferated, James Plimpton toured them in the 1870s, giving lessons to new and current skaters for two dollars a week, which included the skate rental.

In America, roller skating was most popular first between 1935 and the early 1960s. When polyurethane wheels were created and disco music made its appearance, roller rinks were again the rage in the 1970s. Roller skating made a third resurgence with in-line outdoor roller skating, thanks to the improvement to the skates by Scott and Brennan Olson.

In 1979, seeing the potential for off-ice hockey training, the Olson brothers redesigned inline skates, made in the 1960s by the Chicago Roller Skate Company, using modern materials and attaching ice hockey boots. A few years later they began to heavily promote the skates and launched the company, Rollerblade, Incorporated. The Rollerblade skates became synonymous in the minds of many with “inline skates” and skating, so much so that many people came to call any form of skating “Rollerblading”.