Nov. 8, 1998

Joe's Winter

by William Mundell


Today's Reading: "Joe's Winter" by William Mundell, from HILL JOURNEY, published by The Stephen Greene Press.

It's the birthday of the British astronomer EDMOND HALLEY, born near London in 1656, who calculated the orbit of the comet that was named after him. Halley's Comet is about five miles wide, five miles high, and nine miles long; it passes the earth about every 76 years. Its most recent appearance was in 1986, and it's due again in 2061.

It was on this day in 1895 that Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-RAYS. He was working in his lab in Wuerzberg, Germany, when he found that every time he put an electrical current through a particular glass tube, a barium chemical gave off light from across the room. He experimented with the tube and found that if he placed objects between it and the chemical that it made no difference—the chemical still glowed. He didn't know what it was, so he called it "X-radiation."

It's the birthday of BRAM STOKER, the Irish writer born in Dublin in 1847. He worked as a civil servant in Dublin, then as a drama critic for the Dublin Mail, which led to his meeting the famous actor Henry Irving. From 1878, when he was 31 years old, Stoker was Irving's personal manager. During his off hours Stoker took to writing novels, and his 1897 book Dracula, about a Transylvanian vampire who comes to England looking for blood, became a hit.

It's the birthday of the Swiss psychiatrist HERMANN RORSCHACH, born in Zurich in 1884. His father was an art teacher and Rorschach was fascinated with drawing and sketching as a boy. After abandoning the idea of an art career he went to medical school, specializing in the field of psychoanalysis. In 1918 he developed a series of 15 accidental inkblots on paper that he showed to his patients, asking them what each blot might be; the theory being that humans project their own interpretations and feelings into ambiguous situations, thereby revealing their personality traits.

It's the birthday in 1900 in Atlanta of MARGARET MITCHELL, author of Gone With the Wind, a book she began writing when she was 26 years old. She worked on the book for ten years.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
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