Sunday, September 24, 2017

10 AWESOME MUSEUMS NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Museums…those public and private repositories of anything and everything that might be of interest to someone, collections open to the public to enjoy and that educate.  They encompass a wide variety of interests such as fine art, items showing the natural history of a region, or something as specific as a hair collection.

I recently found a list of 10 very specific museums/collections with a common thread—they are not open to the public.

CIA Museum
Needless to say, one of the most secretive agencies in the entire United States government (and the world) wouldn’t just throw the doors of their archives open for everyone. The Central Intelligence Agency’s internal museum is one of the most thorough collections of intelligence memorabilia on Earth with over 3,500 items. The collection includes documents from the OSS [Office of Strategic Services created in WW II, the forerunner of the CIA], spy weapons and equipment, and even an AK-47 rifle that belonged to Osama Bin Laden. The only public aspects of the Museum are three showcases at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. And that building isn't easy to get into, either.

International Museum And Library Of The Conjuring Arts
If you’re looking for a community of people who like to keep secrets, the CIA isn't the only place to look.  Professional magicians are right up there, too. Considering that their careers hinge on being able to fool people, magicians aren’t crazy about opening up to the public. David Copperfield has used his vast fortune to amass a collection of over 150,000 pieces of magic history from practitioners like Harry Houdini and hundreds of others.  It’s located in a 40,000 square foot Las Vegas warehouse that has a fake hat shop in the front. [I saw a television special about Houdini including an auction of items from his career with David Copperfield being one of the major successful bidders on several items]

MIT Museum Of Espionage [in Turkey, not the Massachusetts Institute of Technology :) ]
The United States isn’t the only nation that keeps its intelligence archives in a private museum. Turkey’s MIT spy group has been amassing an impressive collection of memorabilia from top-secret operations for years. Stored at the group’s headquarters in Ankara, the museum’s glass display cases contain such spy craft relics as a shoe wedge designed to store a hidden microphone, hollowed-out objects for secreting code books, and bugging devices discovered in Turkish embassies abroad during the Cold War. A Turkish newspaper requested access to the museum and was allowed in for one day, but that’s the only time the Museum of Espionage has ever been seen by the public.

Canadian Museum Of Making
It is possible to get inside the doors of the Canadian Museum of Making, which is located on a private ranch near Cochrane, Alberta, but it’s not easy. The museum’s owner, Ian MacGregor, is very picky about who he allows through the doors. From the outside, you’d never know that the 20,000 square foot museum is even there, because he constructed the complex entirely underground. Inside is one of the world’s most extensive collections of mechanical objects from between 1750 and 1920. Every once in a while, MacGregor will open the doors to select people, but it's a rare occasion.

El Museo del Enervantes
Intended for use in the training of military staff waging Mexico’s seemingly endless war against the drug cartels, El Museo del Enervantes, located in Mexico City, is a private museum that chronicles every aspect of the world of narcoterrorism. In-depth exhibits illustrate the manufacturing process involved in making cocaine, heroin and other drugs. A huge display case shows off dozens of handguns confiscated from drug lords, many encrusted with gold and jewels. There is also a plaque commemorating all the Mexican soldiers who died on duty since 1976.

The Honda Secret Museum
Many automakers rent out space to spotlight important moments in their history, but Honda defies the trend by making their history museum closed to the public. Assembled by company veteran Lou Staller, it’s a collection of almost 50 cars and motorcycles that commemorate Honda’s successes and failures. Included in the collection is a Honda N-600 from 1970—the first passenger car the company sold in the States—and the 1997 EV Plus, the very first electric vehicle to be marketed here. The museum is only accessible to Honda employees, and the vast majority of them have never been there, making it a treasure trove for car enthusiasts.

Musée d'Anatomie Delmas-Orfila-Rouvière
The Musée d'Anatomie Delmas-Orfila-Rouvière permanently closed its door to everyone—public and invited only—in 2005. Prior to that time, it was the largest and most complete anatomy museum in France. The Museum’s collection began in 1794 and expanded steadily over the years to include upwards of 5,800 anatomic items from humans and other animals. Some of the coolest stuff on display includes casts of the heads of executed 19th century criminals, comparative anatomy displays of reptiles and birds, and skulls of deceased mental patients. It occupied the eighth floor of the Descartes University’s school of medicine, and access was granted only to the medical elite.

The Black Museum
Scotland Yard, one of the most famous crime-fighting institutions in history, has amassed some serious items. If you want to see them, they’re kept in the Black Museum. Located at police headquarters in London, this collection of evidence from some of Scotland Yard’s most notorious crimes includes the pots serial killer Dennis Nilsen used to cook his victims and a taunting letter from Jack the Ripper. Also on display is a vast array of weapons used in the commission of crimes, including some cleverly disguised tools of mayhem. There is a current discussion about finally making the museum open to the public, but as of now it’s still police only.

The U.S. Secret Service Museum
It appears that taxpayer money is supporting a disproportionate number of museums that aren’t open to the public. Located in the nondescript office building that houses the Secret Service headquarters is a small private museum that’s only open to invited guests. Inside the one-room museum are artifacts from some of the most shocking crimes in American history—assassination attempts on Presidents. Among these artifacts is the bullet-scarred window from Ronald Reagan’s limousine on the day that John Hinckley attacked and the assault rifle that Francisco Duran used to spray bullets into the White House in 1994.

The Zymoglyphic Museum
The Zymoglyphic Museum in San Mateo, California, is open to the public—but only for two days out of every year. The museum's creator houses his collection in a small outbuilding off of his garage, down a nondescript suburban cul-de-sac. Inside is the world’s largest assemblage of animals and artifacts from the Zymoglyphic Era…a period in Earth’s past that never existed. The dioramas, housed in aquarium tanks, are well thought out and executed with incredible attention to detail.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

10 SURPRISING THINGS SPOTTED WITH SATELLITES



Satellites have become integral to our daily lives—such things as telephone, television, internet, weather forecasts, and gps tracking just to name a few.  And with the launching of the Hubble telescope we can now see billions of light years into the vastness of space.  And we can't overlook those scientific discoveries including rediscovering things long forgotten and/or overlooked.

Phytoplankton Blooms
It's kind of bizarre to think that some of the smallest living things on Earth can make a display that you can see from space. In August of 2012, NASA's Aqua satellite captured some remarkable images of a massive phytoplankton bloom surrounding Russia's Novaya Zemla island. These particular plankton contain plates of a calcium-containing mineral that give them a bright blue color, and when they gather in massive numbers they make an incredible visual image. Temperature and salinity conditions have to be absolutely right to trigger this phenomenon, so capturing it this clearly is pretty amazing. [pictured above]

Hundreds Of Sunken Ships
Much of the ocean is resistant to satellite photography because we don't have cameras powerful enough to penetrate those depths from space. However, there are still amazing things to be seen in the shallows, such as the ghost fleet of Mallows Bay. At the start of World War I, the United States needed to quickly build transport vessels. In April of 1917, 1000 ships were ordered to be built. By the end of the war, the boats had become obsolete and eventually they were sunk to the bottom of the Potomac River at Mallows Bay. From space, the ship graveyard is a striking and amazing sight.

A Marijuana Farm
If you're doing something illegal, it used to be sufficient to put up a fence and keep prying eyes out. But when the eyes are in the sky, things change. Spotting marijuana growths from small planes has been common practice for quite a while. But the owners of a massive marijuana growing operation in Switzerland found that out the hard way in 2010 when Google Earth satellite images revealed their pot fields. Police in Zurich discovered the two-acre field by chance while looking up the address of area farmers, and quickly moved in for the bust. Sixteen people were arrested and over a ton of marijuana was impounded.

Kazakh Geoglyphs
The people of the ancient world did some things that still confound us today. One of the most perplexing is the practice of creating geoglyphs—massive drawings in the earth that are too large to be comprehended from the ground, but show up clear as day from high above. The Nazca lines of southern Peru are the most famous. In 2014 archaeologists happened across a completely new set of geoglyphs in Kazakhstan. The drawings, which depict a number of different geometric shapes, have yet to be explained.

A Hidden Rainforest
It's well-known that the truly wild areas of the planet are dying at a rapid rate, but satellite imagery can often reveal hidden oases that mankind hasn't managed to ruin…yet. That happened in 2005, when scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens were going over Google Earth images from Mozambique. At the top of Mount Mabu, isolated by steep slopes, was one of the largest untouched rainforests that scientists had ever seen. Villagers had used the site to hide from the civil war that rocked the nation, but aside from that it was on no map and not recognized by the government. Three years later, an expedition found previously undiscovered plants and animals there.

Lost Egyptian Pyramids
One of the most frustrating parts of the archaeologist's craft is having to guess about ancient civilizations buried beneath the surface. Egypt, with its constantly-shifting sands, is especially tough. Thankfully, satellites equipped with infrared cameras have changed the game completely. In a 2011 survey of the country, heat-sensing photography was used to reveal the shapes of seventeen lost pyramids, as well as thousands of other buildings buried beneath the desert.

A Methane Hotspot
Satellites don't just take photos of things we can see with the naked eye. Their advanced sensors allow them to record wavelengths we can't perceive. That's how we found an enormous packet of the greenhouse gas methane hovering over the American southwest. The Four Corners area, where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet, is a hotbed of natural gas extraction. Scientists believe that the methane was released as a side effect of that industry, and claim that it's equivalent to the entire greenhouse gas output of Sweden.

A Meteor Crater
One of the coolest things about satellite surveillance is that it allows us to see things that would be virtually invisible from the ground. Case in point: the crater from one of Earth's most recent meteor impacts, a scant 5,000 years ago. Measuring just 150 feet wide, this tiny hole in Egypt was first noticed in 2008. But it wasn't until a team analyzed Google Earth images in 2010 that they realized what makes it unusual. The site is what's known as a "rayed crater," featuring lines of lighter-colored rock emanating from the impact area. These craters are common on the Moon but typically eradicated by erosion on Earth, so it's an advantage to science to find a new one.

A New Species Of Hominid
One of the most fascinating discoveries in the history of paleontology—a completely new hominid species that fills in information about the evolution of Homo sapiens. In 2007, South African professor Lee Berger was using Google Earth to examine caves around the so-called "Cradle of Humanity" area of South Africa when he started to notice a pattern. Following it out, he marked 500 other sites that he thought had the potential to produce fossils. The next year, he started to explore them on foot, and one gave up an incredible find: the first bones of Australopithecus sediba, a species that some believe might be the missing link between man and ape.

A Mars Lander
Let's look away from Earth and cast our attention to our nearest planetary neighbor for a look at a mission gone wrong. In 2003, the European Space Agency launched a mission to Mars that involved landing an unmanned craft called the Beagle 2 to take samples and return data. Unfortunately, after launch the ESA lost contact with the Beagle and it vanished into space. A dozen years later, NASA staff operating the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's cameras spotted an anomaly on the planet's surface. Upon investigation, they realized they had found the long-missing Beagle 2. The craft's solar panels had failed to open, resulting in mission failure, but it's been sitting on Mars this whole time.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

10 Miscellaneous Facts From Around The World

With this week's Labor Day holiday, the summer season is over for most of us.  We've already taken our annual vacation, the kids are back in school, we've brought the boat home from the lake and put it back in storage. But that doesn't mean it's too early to start thinking about next summer's vacation. So, I'd like to offer you some miscellaneous travel tidbits and trivia.

I came across an article that listed bits of trivia about various travel destinations.  Little snippets of miscellaneous information usually not included in travel guides.  Things I found interesting.  I hope you find them interesting, too.

1)  Mt. Everest (pictured above)
It's a commonly known fact that Mt. Everest, on the Nepal–Tibet border, is the highest point on earth.  You'd think that would be enough, wouldn't you?  Well, apparently it isn't.  The precise height of Mt. Everest is somewhat disputed.  It's generally thought to be 29,029 ft (8848m) above sea level.  And the interesting little fact?  It's still growing!  Mt. Everest is pushing upward at a rate estimated to be 4mm a year thanks to the clash between two tectonic plates.

2)  Mexico City
While Mt. Everest is growing, the interesting little fact about Mexico City is that it's sinking at an average rate of 10cm a year which is 10 times faster than the sinking rate of Venice, Italy.  And the reason for this?  Mexico City was built on a soft lake bed and subterranean water reserves have subsequently been pumped out from beneath the city.  The obvious result?  The city is sinking.

3)  Vatican City
The world's smallest independent state, 44 hectares (110 acres) is totally encircled by Rome.  The Vatican's Swiss Guard still wears the uniform inspired by Renaissance painter Raphael.  Its population is 800 with only 450 of those being citizens.  It even has its own coins which are legal tender throughout Italy and the EU.

4)  El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles
What is all that?  In English it's Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels.  In it's shortened version it's better known as Los Angeles, California.  The town came into being in 1781 and today, in an area of downtown Los Angeles referred to as Olvera Street, there is a cluster of museums, ancient plazas and lively markets providing a taste of life in 1800s Los Angeles.

5)  Nuestra Senora Santa Maria del Buen Aire
What is all that?  In English it's Our Lady St. Mary of the Good Air, better known today as Buenos Aires, Argentina.  It's the best spot to savor the tango.  And don't take the tango lightly.  In Buenos Aires, it's very serious business.

6)  London Underground
London's Metropolitan Railway was the world's first subway, opened in 1863.  The first section ran between Paddington and Farringdon and was a hit in spite of the steam engines filling stations and tunnels with dense smoke.  Today, if you take the Circle Line between Paddington and Covent Garden, you'll travel part of that original route.

7)  Venice, Italy
As mentioned earlier, Venice is sinking.  But in the interim…one of the things immediately associated with Venice are the gondolas on the canals, especially the Grand Canal.  Each gondola is made from 280 pieces of 8 different types of wood.  The left side is larger than the right side by 24cm.  The parts of a gondola represent bits of the city—the front echoes its 6 districts, the back is Giudecca Island, and the lunette is the Rialto Bridge.

8)  Great Wall of China
Most everyone knows this is the largest military construction on earth.  However the part about it being the only man-made structure able to be seen from space is an urban myth.  The sections were built by independent kingdoms between the 7th and 4th centuries BC then unified under China's first Emperor Qin Shi Huang around 210 BC.  A not well known fact is that the sections near Beijing which are most visited by tourists are reconstructions done in the 14th to 17th centuries AD.

9)  Table Mountain, South Africa
This large plateau of sandstone looms over Cape Town.  But this huge table has its own table cloth.  The plateau's cloud cover gathers across the flat top and spills over the sides when the wind whips up from the southeast.  You can reach the top by hiking trails or cable car.

10)  Uluru, Australia
This is probably the world's largest monolith, rising from the Australian desert.  More commonly known for years as Ayers Rock, it is now referred to by the Aboriginal name of Uluru.  The rock glows a fiery orange-red color, especially at sunset.  Where does its red color come from?  It's made from arkosic sandstone which contains iron.  When exposed to oxidation, the iron rusts thus providing the red color.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

History Of Labor Day Holiday

The Labor Day holiday is celebrated on the first Monday in September.  This is the same day that Canada celebrates their Labor Day holiday.  This year, that date is September 4, 2017.

The history of Labor Day in the U.S. goes back to the labor movement of the late 1800s and became an official federal holiday in 1894. It's celebrated with parties, parades, and athletic events.  Prior to 1894, workers who wanted to participate in Labor Day parades would forfeit a day's pay.

Over the ensuing decades, Labor Day has come to symbolize something else, too.  In defiance of the Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox signaling the beginning and ending of the summer season, Labor Day has become the unofficial end of the summer season that unofficially started on Memorial Day weekend (the fourth Monday in May in the U.S.).

What led up to the creation of a holiday specifically designated to honor and celebrate the workers and their accomplishments?  The seeds were planted in the 1880s at the height of America's Industrial Revolution when the average American worked 12 hour days/7 days a week in order to earn a basic living.  
Although some states had restrictions, these workers included children as young as 5 years old who labored in the mills, factories, and mines earning a fraction of the money paid to the adults in the same workplace.  Workers of all ages were subjected to extremely unsafe working conditions in addition to insufficient access to fresh air and sanitary facilities.

Labor Unions had first appeared in the late 1700s.  As America changed from an agrarian society into an industrial one, these labor unions became more vocal and began to organize rallies and strikes in protest of poor working conditions and low wages.  Many of these events turned violent.  One prominent such incident was the Haymarket Riot of 1886 where several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. 
Other rallies were of a more positive nature such as September 5, 1882, when 10,000 workers took unpaid time off from their jobs and held the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history when they marched from City Hall to Union Square in New York City.

It was another 12 years before Congress legalized the holiday.  This was primarily brought about on May 11, 1894, when employees at the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.  Then on June 26, the American Railroad Union called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars thus crippling railroad traffic nationwide.  To break the strike, the government sent troops to Chicago.  The resulting riots resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers.  As a result, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in all states, the District of Columbia and the territories (many of which later became states).

And now, more than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day still hasn't been identified.

So, for everyone enjoying this 3 day holiday weekend, now you know why you have that additional day.  And why the banks are closed and you don't have any mail delivery.  :)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

24 Historical Quotes That Proved To Be Very Wrong

Statements are made, then the reality follows.  Here is a list of 24 historical quotes probably believed when they were first spoken but have since been proven to be very wrong.  There's one I've always liked, but since I don't have the exact quote or the date I didn't include it as part of this list.  It's a quote attributed to Bill Gates of Microsoft.  To paraphrase, it went something like this:  No one will ever need more than 64K of memory.

24)  "There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable.  It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will."
  --Albert Einstein, 1932

23)  "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
  --Decca Recording Company on refusing to sign the Beatles, 1962

22)  "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.  The device is inherently of no value to us."
  --Western Union internal memo, 1876

21)  "Reagan doesn't have that presidential look."
  --United Artists executive after rejecting Reagan as lead in the 1964 film THE BEST MAN.

20)  "Train travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia."
  --Dr. Dionysius Lardner, 1830

19)  "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
  --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

18)  "X-rays will prove to be a hoax."
  --Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883

17)  "Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure."
  --Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison's light bulb, 1880

16)  The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad."
  --The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903

15)  "Television won't last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
  --Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946

14)  "No one will pay good money to get from Berlin to Potsdam in one hour when he can ride his horse there in one day for free."
  --King William I of Prussia on trains in 1864

13)  "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."
  --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), in a talk given to a 1977 World Future Society meeting in Boston

12)  "If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one."
  --W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954

11)  "No, it will make war impossible."
  --Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun, in response to the question "Will this gun not make war more terrible?" from Havelock Ellis, an English scientist, 1893

10)  "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value.  Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?"
  --Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter's call for investment in the radio in 1921

9)  "There will never be a bigger plane built."
  --A Boeing engineer after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that held ten people (pictured above)

8)  "How, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck?  I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense."
  --Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton's steamboat, 1800s

7)  "The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd.  It is little short of treasonous."
  --Comment of Aide-de-camp to Field Marshal Haig, at tank demonstration 1916

6)  "I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea."
  --HG Wells, British novelist, in 1901

5)  "The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most."
  --IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959

4)  "It'll be gone by June."
  --Variety Magazine on Rock n' Roll, 1955

3)  "And for the tourist who really wants to get away from it all, safaris in Vietnam."
  --Newsweek, predicting popular holidays for the late 1960s

2)  "When the Paris Exhibition [of 1878] closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it."
  --Oxford professor Erasmus Wilson

1)  "A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere."
  --New York Times, 1936

Right now, somewhere in the world, there is a prominent person making a statement about some new emerging innovation that will give future generations a good chuckle.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

10 Biggest Myths About Medieval Torture

I came across an odd bit of information a while back.  Even though I don't write historicals, I decided to save it with the thought in mind that it might make an interesting blog.

Medieval times…the Dark Ages.  There are many documented tales of truly barbaric treatment.  But, unlike the message we get from Hollywood's entertainment industry, Medieval times overall weren't as barbaric as we've been led to believe.  And with that thought in mind, here's a list of the ten biggest myths about justice in the Dark Ages.

10)   Go Directly To Jail?
Most Medieval communities actually had a judge and jury type of system, although it was much quicker than today's long drawn out sessions.  Court generally lasted less than half an hour.  At the judge's discretion, he could ask a few simple questions and deliver a verdict without consulting the jury.

9)   The Lawless Middle Age Villages?
Earlier Medieval communities had much more social responsibility than today.  If one member claimed to be wronged, every resident had to join in the hunt and persecution of the criminal, otherwise they would all be held responsible.

8)   Those Strict Church Types?
The pious Middle Ages were serious about religious offenses.  Each town's church usually ran its own kind of court to investigate everything from bad attendance to heresy.  However, the concept of sanctuary was also well known with the church as a place where criminals could avoid sentencing or punishment.

7)   Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind?
Criminals who committed lesser offenses were often subject to a policy of three strikes and you're out—literally.  Repeat offenders were often simply banished from a city and not allowed back rather than killing them or having them clutter up the prisons.  Humane and cost effective.

6)   Executions: Left, Right, and Center?
According to Hollywood, Medieval evil-doers were killed on whim and often in public squares for even the slightest of offenses.  In reality, capital punishment was used only in the most serious cases which included murder, treason, and arson with the guilty usually hanged.

5)   Royal Highnesses High Above the Law?
Medieval nobles did enjoy certain privileges when it came to bending laws or making new ones to serve their purposes.  However, most European countries had legislation preventing their kings and queens from running wild, such as England's Magna Carta signed by King John in 1215.

4)   Public Beheadings as Weekly Spectacle?
Beheading was swift and painless—as long as the axe was sharp.  It was considered a privileged way to die and reserved primarily for the nobility.  Treason was the crime of choice with the beheadings usually taking place inside castle walls rather than in public.

3)   The Burning Times?
A few witches, as proclaimed by their accusers, were burned at the stake during Medieval times.  But it was during the following Reformation period (beginning approximately in 1550) that burning witches at the stake really took off.  However, in England witches were rarely burned and were hanged instead. At the Salem witch trials in the U.S., most of the accused who were actually put to death were hanged.

2)   Off With Your Ear?
Mutilation—severing of an ear or hand—was occasionally used as a punishment for serious crimes, especially in larger jurisdictions such as London.  But more often, Medieval law enforcement used it as an empty threat rather than actually doing it.

1)   Rack 'Em Up?
Immortalized in the film Braveheart, the most famous torture device of all time was the rack.  It probably wasn't used in England until the very end of the Medieval period.  It was used extensively along with other devices beginning in the torturous days of the 1500s when Queen Elizabeth I, and other European monarchs, began purging religious opponents.

So, next time you're watching a high budget film set during Medieval times filled with bloody and torturous actions, remember there's a good chance it didn't really happen that way.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

EIGHT SURPRISING HISTORICAL FACTS

These will forever change your concept of time.  This list puts historical moments into a time-line context that will surprise you when you discover which one of two happenings is older.  Most of them surprised me. :)  I did verify the founding date for Harvard and the date the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series, but I didn't verify anything on this list beyond that.

1)  Betty White Is Older Than Sliced Bread
1928 is the date when bread was first sold commercially as sliced rather than the traditional whole loaves.  Prior to that, bakers didn't believe that sliced bread could stay fresh.  Betty White was born in 1922, six years before the invention that became the benchmark for greatness with future inventions being heralded as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

2)  Harvard University was founded before calculus was invented
Originally called the New College, 1636 is the date for the founding of Harvard University, the oldest institution of higher education in the new world—in an area that is now the United States of America.  It should also be noted that physicist, mathematician and astronomer Galileo was still alive during Harvard's early years.  He died in 1642.  The invention of calculus didn't come about until 1684 with Gottfried Leibniz's publication of Nova Methodus.

3)  The Ottoman Empire still existed when the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series
1908 is the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.  The Ottoman Empire, founded in the 13th century, came to an end in 1922 with Mehmed VI being the last sultan of the empire before the Turkish government abolished the sultanate and took governing control of the new republic.

UPDATE: The Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series in 2016 after a very long dry spell of not winning.

4)  The Pyramids of Giza were built before wooly mammoths became extinct
It's believed that the last wooly mammoths died out approximately 1700B.C. on Russia's Wrangel Island.  The Pyramids of Giza, in Egypt, were built approximately 300 years earlier (about 4,000 years ago).  There are some claims that the pyramids might be even older than that.

5)  The fax machine is the same age as the Oregon Trail
1843 is the year Alexander Bain, a Scottish mechanic, invented the first fax machine.  The same year the Great Migration on the Oregon Trail began when a wagon train of approximately 1000 migrants attempted to travel west but probably died of dysentery along the way.

6)  Jewelry store Tiffany & Co. was founded before Italy was a country
1837 is the year Charles Tiffany and John Young founded Tiffany & Young which became Tiffany & Co. in 1853.  1861 is when General Giuseppe Garibaldi led a successful campaign to bring the various city-states together as one nation, although Rome held out for a number of years after that.  Macy's was founded in 1858, also prior to Italy becoming the nation we know today.

7)  France was still using the guillotine when the first Star Wars movie was released
1977 is the release date of the first of the Star Wars movies.  A few months later is when France conducted its last execution by guillotine.  The guillotine had been used in France for approximately 200 years.  And another French time line fact to boggle the mind: 1889 is the year of the Eiffel Tower, the same year Nintendo was founded (the company originally made playing cards) and Van Gogh painted The Starry Night.

8)  Two of President John Tyler's grandsons are still alive
1841 to 1845, John Tyler was America's tenth president.  And, surprisingly, two of his grandsons are still alive.  December 2013, both Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr., and Harrison Tyler, were only in their 80s…as verified by Snopes…and are still alive today in 2017.

And there you have it…a few surprising facts from history.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

STRANGE OCEAN CREATURES

The oceans are vast and mysterious places. In some ways, we know more about outer space than we do the ocean depths.

Sailors have been spinning tales of amazing and terrifying sea monsters since ancient times. As outlandish as these stories are, the idea behind them, the events that spawned them, were likely inspired by real creatures.

TWO-HEADED CREATURE
In December, 2016, scientists discovered the strangest creature washed ashore on Mexico's Laguna Ojo de Liebre that they had ever seen. The creature was approximately seven feet long, dark gray in color, had fins on each side, and had two tails. It also appeared to have four eyes. Definitely a sea monster of some type? In reality, it turned out to be a pair of extremely rare newborn conjoined gray whale twins. Since newborn gray whales are about twelve feet long, scientists speculated that the pair was likely the result of a miscarriage.

MONTAUK MONSTER
In the summer of 2008, an unidentified dead animal washed up on the shore at Montauk, New York. Although several people reported seeing it and photographs surfaced, the carcass disappeared before police were able to recover the remains. Newspapers ran the story along with a grotesque image. Locals speculated that it could be a mutant resulting from experiments at nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Others suggested that it was nothing more than a hoax. Many scientists who studied the photographs think it was a known species heavily damaged and decomposed as a result of time spent in the water. Several people claimed it was some type of sea turtle without its shell. The raccoon claim seems to be the closest, but the Montauk Monster's legs are longer than a normal raccoon leaving us without a definitive conclusion.

OARFISH
Oarfish are large, greatly elongated fish that are found in all temperate to tropical oceans yet rarely seen. The giant oarfish is the longest bony fish alive (not longest fish, cartilage fish such as the whale shark are longer), growing up to 36 ft. in length.

The common name oarfish is thought to be in reference either to their highly compressed and elongated bodies or to the now discredited belief that the fish row themselves through the water with their pelvic fins. The occasional beachings of oarfish after storms and their habit of lingering at the surface when sick or dying make oarfish a probable source of many sea serpent tales.

GIANT SQUID
The giant squid remains largely a mystery to scientists despite being the biggest invertebrate on Earth. The largest of these elusive creatures ever found measured 59 feet in length and weighed nearly a ton. Giant squid, along with their cousin, the colossal squid, have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, measuring some 10 inches in diameter. These massive eyes allow them to see objects in the lightless depths where most other animals would see nothing.

Due to the inhospitable deep-sea habitat where they live, it has been a difficult task to study them. Almost everything scientists know about them is from carcasses that have washed up on beaches or been hauled in by fishermen. However, of late the opportunities for scientists studying these elusive creatures has started to turn. In 2004, researchers in Japan took the first images ever of a live giant squid. And in late 2006, scientists with Japan's National Science Museum caught and brought to the surface a live 24-foot female giant squid.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Damian Fontaine Has Returned

Damian Fontaine has returned for a third time to share his thoughts about another of his missions. This time we'll be talking with him about Hayley Vincent's story, MISSION INEVITABLE.

Fallen Angel Chronicles is my erotic fantasy series. Damian Fontaine was permanently banished to earth eight hundred years ago as a fallen angel. His transgression? A hedonistic existence. His self-proclaimed mission? To help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that has eluded them.

MISSION INEVITABLE is book #3 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles series, release date July 21, 2017. Hayley Vincent and Ward Dawson—friends with benefits. But Hayley wants so much more. She wants his love for a lifetime. Can Damian help commitment phobic Ward realize that the girl next door is the one to fill that emotionally empty spot inside him? The one who will make his life complete? And Damian has his own problems as he wrestles with his confusing feelings toward Rhiannon, a witch of the ancient bloodline who has been his lover for the last four centuries

Good morning, Damian. I appreciate you taking the time from your schedule to stop by and talk with us again.

Good morning to you, Samantha. Thanks for having me on your blog for the third time. I'm honored.

Before we talk about MISSION INEVITABLE, the third book of the Fallen Angel Chronicles erotic fantasy series, I'd like to talk about you.

Me? What would you like to know about me? I'm not all that interesting.

An immortal—a fallen angel banished to earth who has participated in 800 years of human history. Someone who has first hand knowledge of pivotal events that have led to the world stage as it exists today. I find that a fascinating subject.

Well, I must admit that MISSION INEVITABLE does contain a few crumbs of information about my past experiences on earth not connected to my missions. To blend in over eight centuries without arousing suspicion, I've had to constantly reinvent my outer persona as it relates to humans.

Do you mean you've been able to change your physical appearance?

No, not that. I was born 1,134 years ago. My human existence died at the age of 34. I was an angel and traveled between earth and the hereafter for 300 years until my…uh, shall we say 'misdeeds'…resulted in me being permanently banished to earth. I looked like this at the time of my death. At 6'2" I used to be taller than almost everyone, [extends a teasing grin and a wink] and now I'm not. During the last millennium, humans have gotten taller. During the last 800 years I've been many things from the highest to the lowly including royalty, a carpenter, a soldier, a wizard, an adviser to a king, and even a teacher.

A wizard?

Yes, even though I have been banished to earth, I still have many of my mystical powers.

And a teacher? What did you teach?

[laughs] The obvious—I taught history.

Why did you choose Hayley Vincent as one of your missions?

The waves of vibrations carrying her desires kept reaching out to me. She was not sexually repressed, quite the contrary. She had a healthy sexual relationship with her next door neighbor, Ward Dawson. Sexually fulfilling, but it was one of unrequited love. She desperately wanted him to return the love she had been carrying for him for three years. She wanted a lifetime relationship with him, a commitment from Ward that exceeded their current situation of Friends With Benefits.

She did not need her hidden sexual desires released. She had already found the man she loved and wanted to be with for the rest of her life. That seems like it would be a simple task for you to fix. Why did you select this particular situation as a mission?

It was basically a straight forward task—determine Ward was the right man for her, make him jealous, get to the cause of his commitment phobia, put him in a position where he finally realized exactly what he would be losing if he allowed Hayley to move on with her life and no longer be available to him when he was between girlfriends.

Why did you select such a simple mission this time?

[pensive expression covers his face] That's difficult to answer. It has to do with my limited ability to actually experience human emotions. I understand them intellectually but am not able to actually experience them as a human would.

Is that important for your missions? [pauses to consider what she's just said] I don't mean that emotions aren't necessary to your missions…love, emotional fulfillment, and lifetime happiness are vitally important to humanity. I mean, why are you struggling with this problem at this time? And for that matter, why is it a problem?

Rhiannon, an immortal who is a witch of the ancient bloodline, has been a participant in my existence for approximately 400 years.

A participant in your existence? That seems like an odd choice of words. I recall her being involved with MISSION INNOCENCE in helping you secure a happy future for Sarah Downing. I know she's been your lover and closest friend for 400 years. Is there more?

That is the question I can't answer. Or more accurately, don't know how to answer due to my fleeting ability to actually experience human emotions, to be able to feel them for myself. It's a troubling problem that I'm trying to work out.

That sounds as if your next mission might be your own story.

[flashes dazzling smile] Who knows what the future will bring.

Thank you, Damian, for talking with us about MISSION INEVITABLE and also for sharing a little it of insight into your personal situation.

Once again, it was my pleasure, Samantha.
BLURB:
Fallen Angel, Damian Fontaine was banished from heaven for too often indulging in sex with humans. He has made the best of his eight hundred years on earth by creating missions to help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that eludes them.

Advertising executive Hayley Vincent believes Ward Dawson, her ridiculously hot best friend and sometimes lover, would be the perfect man if he didn't have a severe case of commitment phobia. She's been in love with him for years. Then a steamy new neighbor moves in across the hall, and she has to wonder if it might be time to move on...or at least try to spark some jealousy and change her status with Ward from friends with benefits to something permanent.

While Damian works toward completing his current mission, he begins to question the meaning of his centuries-old relationship with Rhiannon, a witch with a sexual appetite as veracious as his, and the sudden stirrings of mortal emotions. Has he been on Earth too long or is there more at hand?

Available at The Wilder Roses (Scarlet Rose erotic line from The Wild Rose Press):  https://wildcatalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-erotic/5163-mission-inevitable.html
Also available at other online vendors.

Stop by my website for excerpts from MISSION INEVITABLE, from my other Fallen Angel Chronicles books (MISSION INSECURE and MISSION INNOCENCE), as well as information about my other books.   www.samanthagentry.com

Sunday, July 16, 2017

MISSION INEVITABLE—Book #3 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles

Fallen Angel Chronicles is my new erotic fantasy series. Damian Fontaine was permanently banished to earth eight hundred years ago as a Fallen Angel. His transgression? A hedonistic existence. His self-proclaimed mission? To help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that has eluded them.

This week I'm presenting MISSION INEVITABLE, book #3 of my erotic fantasy series, Fallen Angel Chronicles, scheduled for release July 21, 2017. Hayley Vincent and Ward Dawson: friends with benefits. Hayley—unrequited love for Ward Dawson.  Ward—major commitment issues due to a past tragedy. Fallen angel Damian Fontaine—wrestling with emotional issues of his own while working on his mission of bringing Hayley and Ward together for a lifelong loving relationship.

G-Excerpt #1: (publisher's excerpt)
"So, that's our new neighbor. When did you meet him?"

Hayley made no move to enter her apartment or invite Ward in, a situation that obviously surprised him. Ward and Damian—both very handsome and incredibly sexy, yet very different. Ward took her for granted. Damian seemed thoughtful and considerate. There was one similarity. Ward was an incredible lover, and Damian exhibited every indication of being equally talented.

She quickly dismissed the inappropriate thoughts and returned her attention to Ward's question. "We met at the grocery store today. I was doing some shopping on my lunch hour."

Ward glanced toward Damian's front door. "Seems like a nice enough guy." His words might have been innocent, but she caught the slight edge of irritation in his voice, and for some unknown reason, it pleased her. "What was that he was saying about the tennis court and theater tickets?"

She shot him what could almost be described as a challenging look. "Damian is going to give me some tennis lessons."

"Tennis lessons?" Genuine surprise covered his face. "I told you I'd be glad to teach you how to play."

Hayley wrestled with the nature of the conversation and the slight tension that suddenly filled the air. "Yes. You told me several times, but that's as far as it went. Every time I brought it up, you said you'd teach me, but then you never seemed to have the time. You made it clear you really didn't want to so I finally decided to drop the subject." She paused a moment, then continued. "I know how hectic your schedule is, so this will work out for both of us. I'll finally get my tennis lessons, and you won't need to rearrange your busy schedule just to accommodate me."

Uncertainty darted across his handsome features and clouded his turquoise eyes. She had finally gotten his attention with something.

"I…I didn't realize it was such a pressing matter."

She offered a casual smile. "No problem. Don't worry about it. But since we happen to be discussing tennis, could I borrow one of your rackets?"

He wrinkled his brow into a slight frown as if he didn't comprehend the nature of her question. "Borrow one of my rackets?"

She tilted her head and raised a questioning eyebrow. "Is that a problem? I don't want to invest in a good racket until I have a lesson or two, in case I discover that I don't like tennis as much as I thought I would."

"Uh, no, no problem at all." He paused as if searching for the proper words. "I can teach you to play tennis. You don't need to impose on our new neighbor."

"I didn't ask him. He volunteered. And…" She shot Ward a purposeful look. "He even set a specific day and time, eight o'clock Sunday morning, rather than leaving it as some unspecified future date, a time referred to as sometime." She glanced at her watch and quickly moved to terminate their conversation. "Well, it's late and I'm tired." She extended a friendly smile, but not a personal one. "See you later."

With that, she entered her apartment and left Wade standing all alone in the hall. Guilty pleasure flooded through her. The startled look on his face pleased her. It seemed that she had truly gotten his attention, even if only for the moment.

MISSION INEVITABLE—book #3 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles erotic fantasy series available Friday, July 21, 2017, in ebook from The Wilder Roses (Scarlet Rose erotic line from The Wild Rose Press)
and other online vendors

Additional excerpts and information available on my website www.samanthagentry.com

BLURB:
Fallen Angel, Damian Fontaine was banished from heaven for too often indulging in sex with humans. He has made the best of his eight hundred years on earth by creating missions to help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that eludes them.

Advertising executive Hayley Vincent believes Ward Dawson, her ridiculously hot best friend and sometimes lover, would be the perfect man if he didn't have a severe case of commitment phobia. She's been in love with him for years. Then a steamy new neighbor moves in across the hall, and she has to wonder if it might be time to move on...or at least try to spark some jealousy and change her status with Ward from friends with benefits to something permanent.

While Damian works toward completing his current mission, he begins to question the meaning of his centuries-old relationship with Rhiannon, a witch with a sexual appetite as veracious as his, and the sudden stirrings of mortal emotions. Has he been on Earth too long or is there more at hand?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Who is Damian Fontaine? A conversation with a fallen angel

Fallen Angel Chronicles is my new erotic fantasy series. Damian Fontaine was permanently banished to earth eight hundred years ago as a Fallen Angel. His transgression? A hedonistic existence. His self-proclaimed mission? To help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that has eluded them.

MISSION INNOCENCE is book #2 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles series, release date June 30, 2017.  Sarah Downing—a young woman leading a miserable existence in a small town under the thumb of a tyrannical father and cold mother. Can fallen angel Damian Fontaine help her find someone who will love her and she can love in return? Someone with whom she can build the happily ever after future she yearns to have?


This week I'm welcoming Damian Fontaine for a return visit to my blog. Good morning, Damian. It's nice to see you again.

Good morning to you, Samantha. Thanks for inviting me to participate in a second conversation.

Let's talk about MISSION INNOCENCE, the second book of the Fallen Angel Chronicles erotic fantasy series. Sarah Downing is the subject of this mission. How or why did you choose her?

As I explained last time I was here, all human vibration and thought travels through the universe. I tune into those waves of energy, refining and sorting until I've zeroed in on the person I feel is most in need of my special type of help at that time—help in achieving the hidden sexual desires and fantasies that fear, inhibitions, intimidations, cultural restrictions, or simply embarrassment has kept secreted away.

What was there about Sarah that grabbed your attention and made you decide to answer her need in particular rather than the others?

It was a combination of several things. Her overwhelming loneliness and despair came through loud and clear. As I focused in more closely on her situation, I became aware of her deplorable home life. She lived in a very small rural community, trapped with no viable means of escape. A tyrannical father who controlled everything around him with a dictatorial iron hand and a cold mother who didn't seem to care about anyone, certainly not her daughter. Even though her parents were not physically abusive, they more than made up for it with the emotional and psychological abuse they heaped on her. To give you an example of how repressed her life was, at the age of twenty-two her first real kiss was mine.

That type of home situation would most likely make someone incapable of functioning on her own…starting over in a strange place, not knowing anyone, making her own decisions for the first time, and learning how to determine who she could trust and who she couldn't. How was Sarah able to manage the changes you introduced into her life?

She was intelligent. And once she got over her initial shock, she was eager to learn. But most important…against all odds, she had a surprisingly strong inner strength. Once she was released from her shell, she quickly took control of her life and stood up for herself.

Obviously Sarah couldn't continue to live in the small community where she had spent her entire life. What did you arrange for her future and how did you accomplish it?

[amused chuckle] Really, Samantha…you know the answer to that one, don't you?

Ah, yes…the ever popular 'you will have to read the book' response. Fair enough. Thank you for being with us again, Damian. I hope you'll be able to return in a couple of weeks when your next story, MISSION INEVITABLE, is available.

It will be my pleasure, Samantha.

BLURB:
Fallen Angel, Damian Fontaine was banished from heaven for too often indulging in sex with humans. He has made the best of his eight hundred years on earth by creating missions to help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that eludes them.

Twenty-two year old Sarah Downing leads a life of quiet desperation in a small town. She has lived under the control of a domineering father and a cold mother. She longs for the freedom to expand her horizons, to experience life, and to find someone who will love her. When a handsome and mysterious stranger appears seemingly out of nowhere, he claims her silent pleas for help summoned him. He wants to help her explore her hidden desires.

Will her father’s puritanical teachings keep her imprisoned or will the mesmerizing stranger teach her to fly?

Available at The Wilder Roses (Scarlet Rose erotic line from The Wild Rose Press):
Also available at other online vendors.

Stop by my website for excerpts from Mission Innocence as well as information about my other books.   www.samanthagentry.com

Sunday, July 2, 2017

MISSION INNOCENCE—Book #2 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles

Fallen Angel Chronicles is my new erotic fantasy series. Damian Fontaine was permanently banished to earth eight hundred years ago as a Fallen Angel. His transgression? A hedonistic existence. His self-proclaimed mission? To help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that has eluded them.

MISSION INNOCENCE is book #2 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles series is now available.  Sarah Downing—a young woman leading a miserable existence in a small town under the thumb of a tyrannical father and cold mother. Can fallen angel Damian Fontaine help her find someone who will love her and she can love in return? Someone with whom she can build the happily ever after future she yearns to have?

G-EXCERPT #1 (publisher's excerpt)
“Hello, Sarah. I’m glad to see you. I was beginning to think you had changed your mind.”

She climbed the three steps to the porch as she offered a shy smile. “I’m sorry. My father…”

“I understand. There’s no need for you to explain and certainly no need to apologize.” He held the door open for her, then followed her into the living room.

He took her hand and slowly pulled her toward him. The wariness in her eyes and the slight tensing of her muscles said one thing, but the fact that she once again made no attempt to withdraw from his touch said something else. “I’ve seen this cabin often, but this is the first time I’ve ever been inside. You said you were just passing through, only staying for a few days?”

“Yes, that’s true. I’m here because you summoned me. Your cry for help traveled on the air until it reached me. I’m here at your request, Sarah. I’m here to help you…to teach you…to introduce you to the world you long to experience.”

“I summoned you?” She shook her head as she furrowed her brow in confusion. “I don’t understand. I haven’t phoned anyone—”

BLURB:
Fallen Angel, Damian Fontaine was banished from heaven for too often indulging in sex with humans. He has made the best of his eight hundred years on earth by creating missions to help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that eludes them.

Twenty-two year old Sarah Downing leads a life of quiet desperation in a small town. She has lived under the control of a domineering father and a cold mother. She longs for the freedom to expand her horizons, to experience life, and to find someone who will love her. When a handsome and mysterious stranger appears seemingly out of nowhere, he claims her silent pleas for help summoned him. He wants to help her explore her hidden desires.

Will her father’s puritanical teachings keep her imprisoned or will the mesmerizing stranger teach her to fly?
Available at The Wilder Roses (Scarlet Rose erotic line from The Wild Rose Press):
Also available at Amazon and other online vendors.

Stop by my website for excerpts from Mission Insecure as well as information about my other books.   www.samanthagentry.com

NEXT WEEK (posting on July 9, 2017): another interview with fallen angel Damian Fontaine. A month ago when he visited my blog, we talked about MISSION INSECURE. This time he talks with us about MISSION INNOCENCE.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

8 PEOPLE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF WHO CHANGED HISTORY

As children, we're told we can grow up to be anything we want.  We can grow up and change the world.  However, the reality is that when we grew up we hopefully had a positive impact on our family, our jobs, our surroundings and hopefully our community.  But not many of us have actually ended up changing the world in massive ways merely by working hard, thinking quickly or simply doing our jobs properly.  Many of these people were lost to history for a number of reasons—cultural differences, minority status, military secrecy and, in a few cases, just plain modesty.

THE GHOST ARMY
It's World War II, the Army's 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, also known as the Ghost Army, played a major role in putting a halt to Hitler's advances through Europe.  In reality, the Ghost Army consisted of 1100 soldiers who were artists, illustrators, sound technicians, and other creative types who used their brains and specific creative skills to win battles.  Their mission was to trick the enemy into believing there was a huge military presence where one didn't exist.  They created the illusion of air fields with hundreds of planes, harbors with large navy vessels, trucks and tanks ready to roll—all decoys that looked very real to enemy aerial reconnaissance.  Through the use of fake inflatable tanks (pictured above), trucks, and weapons in conjunction with war noises through huge military speakers, and buildings that were basically movie sets, the Ghost Army played a major role in helping America's Ninth Army to cross the Rhine River deep into German territory.  The Ghost Army pulled off more than twenty such missions, all of which remained classified until 1985.

Watergate Office Building 
FRANK WILLS
Security guard Frank Wills was making his rounds when he noticed a small piece of duct tape on a door of an office complex.  Wills removed the tape, but found it there again on his next patrol of the night.  He immediately called the police.  The date—June 17, 1972.  The location—an office complex in Washington D.C. named Watergate (Watergate consists of several buildings—the office building, apartments, and a hotel). Minutes later, five middle-aged men were caught ransacking the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee thus launching the scandal uncovered by Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein—a scandal that would eventually cause President Richard Nixon to resign.  Woodward and Bernstein's book, All The President's Men, became a movie of the same name starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.  Sadly, Frank Wills' life took a turn for the worse after that.  He quit his job at the Watergate after being turned down for a raise (wow…if you don't give this guy a raise, who are you going to give one to) and found that many places were too afraid to hire him as a security guard allegedly because they feared retaliation by Republican politicians.  He ended up in prison, then destitute, before dying of a brain tumor in September 2000.

JOSEPH WARREN
Even though he's generally unknown to all but the most dedicated Revolutionary War aficionados, there are thirty-eight towns and fourteen counties named after him.  A Boston doctor who performed the autopsy on Christopher Seider, the first American killed by British troops in the Boston Massacre.  When things between the colonists and the British became even more heated, he put together a military unit and participated in the "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" Battle of Bunker Hill (which was actually fought on Breed Hill) where he died from a British musket ball through his brain.

ROSALIND FRANKLIN
We all know some facts about DNA such as you can extract it from fossilized remains to bring back dinosaurs and it can be altered to create ninja turtles.  But seriously…Rosalind Franklin, physical chemist and pioneering x-ray crystallographer with a PhD from Cambridge, was born in London, England.  The new technique of using x-ray crystallography on things that weren't actually crystals aided in accurately recording the structure of DNA.  Even though her work provided the linchpin of James Watson and Francis Crick's articles establishing the double helix theory, she was mostly ignored and brushed aside as far as being given credit for her work.  She died in 1958 at age thirty-seven from ovarian cancer.

MARY ANNING
Highly intelligent, a fossil collector and paleontologist at the beginning of a century marked for tremendous advances in the practice and philosophy of science, she was royally screwed over from the beginning.  She had three strikes against her—she was poor, a religious minority, and (gasp—worst of all) a woman.  She was officially shunned by the British scientific establishment even though she had discovered the world's first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton when she was only twelve years old.  Soon, geologists and paleontologists across the Western world knew her by reputation despite receiving almost no formal education and barely having enough money for journal subscriptions.  She died in 1847 of breast cancer.  She received an eulogy from the Geographical Society of London (where women weren't admitted until 1904), a glowing article by Charles Dickens in 1865 [I double checked this because my first thought was "they must have meant Charles Darwin the scientist rather than Charles Dickens an author of fiction," but Dickens was correct], and a 2010 mention by the Royal Society as one of the ten British women having the greatest impact on history.  And there was a tongue-twister about her day-to-day business of selling marine fossils.  We know it better as She sells sea shells down by the sea shore.

ABU L-HASAN 'ALI IBN NAFI' (ZIRYAB)
One of the most significant people in Islamic culture remains nearly anonymous in European history even though he single-handedly set the groundwork for traditional Spanish music.  Ziryab was a highly educated North African slave in the approximate year of 800.  In addition to his strong point of music, he invented numerous dyes and chemicals for clothing, makeup, and hygiene.  He introduced the idea of seasonal fashions, came up with the structure of the traditional three-course meal consisting of soup, entrée, and dessert.  He also popularized shaving and short haircuts as a way of beating the fierce Mediterranean heat.  It's also said he invented the world's first underarm deodorant and an early type of toothpaste that was both effective and also had a pleasant taste.

LA MALINCHE/DONA MARINA
Dona Marina (as the Spanish called her) was one of twenty slave women given to the Spanish as the spoils of battle in 16th century Mexico.  Her skill with languages made her far more valuable than merely being Cortes' mistress.  She was instrumental to the small Spanish army's eventual victory by interpreting intelligence information and cultivating allies among the many tribes fed up with being kicked around by the Aztecs.  She's a controversial figure today.  Some argue that she was working in the best interests of her native people by aiding the Europeans and convincing Cortes to be more humane than he might have been.  Others think she was a traitor and her name is almost a curse.  Either way, without her the Cortes expedition might not have succeeded and history would have been changed forever.

VASILI ARKHIPOV
Vasili got his start in the Soviet Navy at the tail end of World War II and worked his way up through the ranks where he became the executive officer on the Soviet Navy's hotel class nuclear submarine K-19.  From there, he was dispatched to the Caribbean to command a group of 4 nuke-armed Foxtrot-class patrol subs.  And it was there that he made a decision that literally had a life and death impact on the future of the world.  He found himself in a sticky situation as his Foxtrot came under what seemed very much like an American attack (The US Navy saying it was only dropping practice depth charges in an ill-considered attempt to force the sub to the surface).  The Soviet sub's captain and political officer both demanded that they retaliate with nuclear torpedoes.  They hadn't had any contact with Moscow in days and didn't know if World War III had actually started or would start as soon as they fired back.  Vasili refused to authorize the launch.  The sub eventually surfaced and scampered away from the American task force with no further interaction.  Vasili advanced to vice-admiral, retired, and died in 1998.  It was four years later when former NSA head, Thomas Blanton, called him "the guy who saved the world."