March 29, 2017

On March 29, 2017 (today) the United Kingdom formally invoked Article 50 of the European Union treaty allowing member nations to withdraw from the largest single market in the world.

The UK and the EU will spend the next two years unraveling four decades of close political and economic co-operation while trying to negotiate a free trade deal.

The decision to withdraw from the EU was the result of a very narrowly won referendum (51.9%) in June of 2016. Support for leaving the EU mainly hinged on a desire for autonomy with regard to immigration and a rejection the authority of the European Court of Justice.

This handout photo was provided by 10 Downing Street. It shows Theresa May signing the four-page hand-written letter to Donald Tusk, President of the EU.



March 28, 2017

On March 28, 1969 George Seferis, Greece’s most important modern poet, made a statement on BBC World Service which has come to be known as “The Statement of 1969.” Calling for the end of the Regime of the Colonels which had seized power in 1967, his simple statement was only four words. “This anomaly must end.” He died in 1971 and did not see the end of the junta in 1974.

George Seferis was a career diplomat and ambassador to the UK from 1957 to 1962. His poetry forges a connection between modern Greece and ancient Hellenic culture. A portion of his poem Mythistorema was read in the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games:

I woke with this marble head in my hands;
It exhausts my elbows and I don’t know where to put it down.
It was falling into the dream as I was coming out of the dream.
So our life became one and it will be very difficult for it to separate again.


This is an image Medea killing one of her sons from an ancient Greek amphora, ca. 330 BC. It is in the Campana Collection of the Louvre and has been released into the public domain.

March 26, 2017

March 26 is Purple Day in the United States and Canada. Motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy, Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia created the idea of Purple Day 2008 in an effort to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone.

The Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia came on board to help develop Cassidy’s idea, which is now known as the Purple Day for Epilepsy campaign.

People are encouraged to wear a purple on March 26. Purple and lavender are often associated with epilepsy, as for example in the wearing of a lavender ribbon.

It is also the birthday of Robert Frost and Tennessee Williams.


March 25, 2017

Tolkien Reading Day is an annual event, launched by The Tolkien Society in 2003, that takes place on 25 March. It has the aim of encouraging the reading of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the use of Tolkien’s works in education and library groups. The date of March 25 was chosen in honor of the fall of Sauron.


These are the first lines of the poem “Namárië” by J.R.R. Tolkien, which has been released into the public domain by its creator Tiger Tjäder.

March 24, 2017

Harry Houdini was born Erik Weisz on March 24, 1874, in Budapest, Hungary, and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1878. After settling in Appleton, Wis., a young “Ehrie” (Harry) moved with his father, a rabbi, to New York City.

The young man was burdened with numerous jobs to help support his family, but he still found the time to make his debut as a trapeze artist. In 1891, he took the stage name “Harry Houdini,” inspired by his admiration for magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin.

His first successful stage trick wasn’t an escape trick—it was the needle trick. He would swallow several needles and some thread, and then regurgitate them with all the needles threaded.

Harry Houdini died on Halloween in 1926, apparently from injuries sustained during a performance when a college student repeatedly punched him in the stomach, testing his abdominal strength. But an autopsy was never performed and mysteries surround the performer’s death.

By his own admission, Harry’s greatest escape was when he left Appleton, Wisconsin.


This is an image of Harry Houdini taken in 1899. It is now part of the McManus-Young Collection of the United States Library of Congress.

March 23, 2017

March 23 is World Meteorological Day.  I am always amazed by my holidays. Researching World Meteorological Day and its 2017 theme Understanding Clouds opened up a new world of cloud research I had never considered before. Quoting from the World Meteorological Organization website.

Understanding Clouds is the theme of World Meteorological Day 2017 to highlight the enormous importance of clouds for weather climate and water. Clouds are central to weather observations and forecasts. Clouds are one of the key uncertainties in the study of climate change:  we need to better understand how clouds affect the climate and how a changing climate will affect clouds. Clouds play a critical role in the water cycle and shaping the global distribution of water resources. “

Here you will also find tools for classifying clouds, cloud quizzes, Name that Cloud, Cloud Poems by Goethe and the Cloud Appreciation Society.


March 22, 2017

World Water Day is an annual event celebrated on March 22. The day focuses attention on the importance of fresh water and highlights required improvements for access to WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) facilities in developing countries.

Every year, UN-Water proposes the annual theme and coordinates the global campaign. The 2017 theme is Why Wastewater? and focuses on reducing and reusing wastewater.

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