Word of the day

February 20, 2016

Guddle –  to fish with the hands by groping under the stones or banks of a stream; catch a fish by guddling; a muddle; confusion.


Harper Lee 28.4.26 – 19.2.16

February 20, 2016

USA author, Harper Lee has died:

. . .Nelle Harper Lee (Nelle was Ellen, the name of her maternal grandmother, spelled backwards), the youngest of four children, was born and grew up in Monroeville, a town of fewer than 3,000 souls. It was a two-hour drive to reach the next town. The streets were unpaved and there were few cars and no traffic lights. Monroeville in Lee’s childhood was racially segregated and Monroe county was “dry”, though bootleggers passed by now and then. . . 

Lee got out of Monroeville as soon as she decently could. She followed Alice to Huntingdon, a private Methodist college for women in Montgomery. She stuck it out for a year, then in 1946 transferred to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she studied literature, history, journalism and law. The university was renowned for its dedication to football, and while there Lee wrote satirical articles in an undergraduate magazine and belonged to the Chi Omega sorority.

She enrolled in the law school of the University of Alabama in 1947. There were no more than a dozen women among the 100 entrants, and Lee, who usually dressed down (no make-up, her hair pulled back behind her ears, wearing a loose jumper, a skirt and loafers) made no friends and was thoroughly disengaged. . .  Her father, sensing that his daughter was losing interest in the law, encouraged her to take up a place on an overseas exchange programme. . . 

She returned to Tuscaloosa for her second year at law school but left in 1949 without taking a degree. By late 1950 she had settled in New York and worked in a series of low-paid jobs (bookstore clerk, airline reservation clerk) while beginning to write. After several years of frustration, a friend of Capote’s, Michael Brown, gave Lee a bumper Christmas present – enough money to give up her job and focus on writing full time. Brown also steered her towards an agent, Maurice Crain. She wrote and rewrote short stories, but Crain suggested she write a novel. He liked the first draft, titled Go Set a Watchman, but advised a different title: Atticus might be better.

Lee was already at work on a second novel when the manuscript of Atticus was sent to the publishers JB Lippincott, where the editor Tay Hohoff liked it, but thought extensive revisions were needed. Lee complied and received a contract from Lippincott with an advance of several thousand dollars. She had not at that point published anything. Hohoff agreed with Lee that To Kill a Mockingbird was a better title. Disliking the near-universal tendency to pronounce her name Nelle as “Nellie”, Lee decided to publish under the name Harper Lee. When it was finally published, in July 1960, it was marketed and reviewed as a trade book for adults but went on to sell an astonishing 500,000 copies in the year after publication. . . 


366 days of gratitude

February 20, 2016

“Have you got a clean hanky?”

That was one of the questions my mother would ask along with had we cleaned our teeth and shoes before we walked out the door.

Handkerchiefs these days are regarded as less than healthy with tissues deemed the better option.

On day five of a cold, I’m grateful for tissues.


Saturday’s smiles

February 20, 2016

Is the glass half full or half empty?

The optimist: The glass is half full.

The pessimist: The glass is half empty.

The engineer: The glass is over-designed for the quantity of water.

The mathematician: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

The physicist: The glass is not empty at all – it is half-filled with water and half-filled with air – hence, fully filled on the whole.

The logician: Where the glass is in process of being filled then it is half full; where it is in the process of being emptied then it is half empty; and where its status in terms of being filled or emptied is unknown then the glass is one in which a boundary between liquid and gas lies exactly midway between the inside bottom and the upper rim, assuming that the glass has parallel sides and rests on a level surface, and where it does not then the liquid/gas boundary lies exactly midway between the upper and lower equal halves of the available total volume of said glass.

The Keynesian: The glass is half-empty, and the government needs to intervene to fill it up.

The monetarist: The glass will naturally tend to being full, and to interfere with it would result in an inefficient use of the contents, with some quite possibly being spilled and wasted.

The libertarian: Everyone should be free to make or purchase their own glass, fill it with what they like, to a level that suits, and see it as they please.

The politician: Under the last government the glass was half-empty, and becoming emptier, but thanks to my party’s leadership, the glass is definitely now half-full, and becoming fuller; but if the other party were to return to power, the glass would once again undoubtedly empty rapidly.

The Health and Safety officer: Before ascertaining if the glass is half-full or half-empty we need to identify all the hazards, undertake a full risk assessment, delegate the task to a competent and suitably trained person, and complete all necessary paperwork . . .

The realist: The glass contains half the required amount of liquid for it to overflow.

The contrarian: When everyone sees the glass half-empty, I see it half-full, and vice versa.

The agnostic: I accept both propositions to be neither true nor untrue until solid proof one way or the other becomes available.

The aesthete: Half-empty or half-full, volume, like beauty, can be in the eye of the beholder.

The pragmatist: I’d rather have a glass half-empty than no glass at all.

The stoic: Keep calm and drink on.

The opportunist: The glass had wine in it, I drank it.

The detective: Who drank the other half?


Saturday soapbox

February 20, 2016

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.
Alan Stein's photo.
Ships don’t sink because of the water around them. Ships sink because of the water that gets in them Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down. #stayup.


February 20 in history

February 20, 2016

1339 – The Milanese army and the St. George’s (San Giorgio) Mercenaries of Lodrisio Visconti clashed in the Battle of Parabiago.

1472 Orkney and Shetland were left by Norway to Scotland, due to a dowry payment.

1547 Edward VI was crowned King of England.

1792 The Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department, was signed by President George Washington.

1810 Andreas Hofer, Tirolean patriot and leader of rebellion against Napoleon’s forces, was executed.

1835 Concepción, Chile was destroyed by an earthquake.

1872 New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art opened.

1873 The University of California opened its first medical school.

1887 Vincent Massey, Governor-General of Canada, was born (d. 1967).

1901 – The legislature of Hawaii Territory convenes for the first time.

1906 Gale Gordon, American television and radio actor, was born  (d. 1995).

1909 Publication of the Futurist Manifesto in the French journal Le Figaro.

1913 King O’Malley drove in the first survey peg to mark commencement of work on the construction of Canberra.

1924 Gloria Vanderbilt, American socialite and clothing designer, was born.

1925 Robert Altman, American film director, was born (d. 2006).

1927 Ibrahim Ferrer, Cuban musician (Buena Vista Social Club) was born, (d. 2005)

1927 – Sidney Poitier, American actor, was born.

1935 Caroline Mikkelsen became the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.

1941  Buffy Sainte-Marie, Canadian singer, was born.

1942 Lieutenant Edward O’Hare became America’s first World War II flying ace.

1943 – The Parícutin volcano in Mexico erupted.

1950  Walter Becker, American guitarist (Steely Dan), was born.

1951 Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born.

1952 Emmett Ashford became the first African-American umpire in organised baseball.

1954 Yvette Williams won a gold medal for the long jump at the Olympics.

Yvette Williams sets world long jump record

1962 Mercury programme:  John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, making three orbits in 4 hours, 55 minutes.

1965  Ranger 8 crashed into the moon after a successful mission of photographing possible landing sites for the Apollo programme astronauts.

1976 The Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation disbanded.

1989 An IRA bomb destroeds a section of a British Army barracks inTernhill, England

1991  A gigantic statue of Albania’s long-time dictator, Enver Hoxha, was brought down in the Albanian capital Tirana, by mobs of angry protesters.

1998 American figure skater Tara Lipinski became the youngest gold-medalist at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

2002 In Reqa Al-Gharbiya, Egypt, a fire on a train injurds over 65 and killed at least 370.

2003 During a Great White concert in West Warwick, Rhode Island, a pyrotechnics display sets the club ablaze, killing 100 and injuring over 200 others.

2005 Spain became the first country to vote in a referendum on ratification of the proposed Constitution of the European Union, passing it by a substantial margin, but on a low turnout.

2010  – Heavy rain caused floods and mudslides,  on Madeira Island leaving at least 43 dead in the worst disaster on the history of the archipelago.

2013  – The smallest Extrasolar planet, Kepler-37b was discovered.

2014 – Dozens of Euromaidan anti-government protesters died in Ukraine’s capital Kiev, many reportedly killed by snipers.

2015 – Two trains collided in the Swiss town of Rafz resulting in as many as 49 people injured and Swiss Federal Railways cancelling some services.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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