The Death of Dickens: An Examination of His Characters and Reputation

Charles Dickens is right at the top of my list of favorite writers (I usually place him either even with or just below Samuel L. Clemons AKA Mark Twain). I took a look at the life of Dickens with a bit of a philatelic tribute on his birth anniversary in 2019, showcasing a few stamps and covers along with a brief biography. With 2020 marking … Continue reading The Death of Dickens: An Examination of His Characters and Reputation

The Avro Lancaster Bomber

On January 9, 1941, the Avro Lancaster — a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber — took its first flight. It was designed and manufactured by Avro as a contemporary of the Handley Page Halifax, both bombers having been developed to the same specification, as well as the Short Stirling, all three aircraft being four-engined heavy bombers adopted by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the same … Continue reading The Avro Lancaster Bomber

A Month of Christmas: Santa’s Home & Workshop

According to tradition, Santa Claus lives in the far northern reaches of the Earth. Americans and Canadians place this at the North Pole while those of Scandinavian countries each claim his home and workshop are to be found within their own nation, usually in the region traditionally inhabited by the Sami people which is sometimes referred to in English as “Lapland.” Wherever this top-secret location … Continue reading A Month of Christmas: Santa’s Home & Workshop

John Lennon: Musician, Activist, Stamp Collector

English singer, songwriter, peace activist, and co-founder of the Beatles — the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music — John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940,  in Liverpool, where he became involved in the skiffle craze as a teenager. He and fellow Beatles member Paul McCartney formed a much-celebrated songwriting partnership. Along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the group … Continue reading John Lennon: Musician, Activist, Stamp Collector

Modern Chinese Ink Wash Painting and the Mastery of Gao Qifeng

I fell in love with traditional Chinese painting during an extended trip to the People’s Republic more than 15 years ago now. My arrival in Beijing more or less coincided with the outbreak of the SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic which caused flights all over Asia to be cancelled as countries instituted strict quarantine controls on any aircraft arriving from mainland China. I was … Continue reading Modern Chinese Ink Wash Painting and the Mastery of Gao Qifeng

The Kościuszko Uprising

On March 24, 1794, in the Krakow, Poland, town square, Tadeusz Kościuszko — a veteran of the American Revolutionary War — announced a general uprising against Imperial Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia and assumed the powers of the Commander in Chief of all of the Polish forces. He vowed “not to use these powers to oppress any person, but to defend the integrity of the borders … Continue reading The Kościuszko Uprising

The Day the Music Died

On February 3, 1959, rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, together with pilot Roger Peterson. The event later became known as “The Day the Music Died”, after singer-songwriter Don McLean referred to it as such in his song “American Pie” in 1971. The crash was not known … Continue reading The Day the Music Died

James Cook Finds the Sandwich Islands

On January 18, 1778, James Cook became the first known European to discover the Hawaiian Islands during his third voyage. On this, his last voyage, Cook again commanded HMS Resolution, while Captain Charles Clerke commanded HMS Discovery. The voyage was ostensibly planned to return the Pacific Islander, Omai to Tahiti, or so the public were led to believe. The trip’s principal goal was to locate a … Continue reading James Cook Finds the Sandwich Islands