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Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens – better known by his pseudonym Mark Twain – was born on 30.11.1835 in FloridaMark Twain (Missouri). His father died in 1847 and that is why Mark Twain had to drop out in the age of 12 and why he trained as typesetter. Since 1852 the writer has travelled through the East and the Midwest and has also visited St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York and Washington D.C. where he wrote his first travel letters which were published in the Hannibal Journal.

From 1857 until 1860 Mark Twain was a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi. His famous penname Twain adopted from the call (“Mark twain!” – meaning by the mark of two fathoms) used when sounding river shallows. He had also satirized an older writer, Isaiah Sellers, who called himself Mark Twain. The Civil War put an end to the boat traffic so he went to Nevada in 1861 where he tried his luck as a gold-miner. In 1864 he lived in San Francisco and 1866 he went to Hawaii as a reporter. From 1867 til 1894 Mark Twain travelled through Europe, Palestine and founded a publishing company which he had to close in 1894. Since that time he has done a journey round the world and gave lectures.

Mark Twain died on 21.04.1910 in Redding (Connecticut).

Some of Mark Twains works:
1869 The Innocents Abroad
1876 The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer
1876 A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage
1884 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
1897 The Awful German Language
1907 Is Shakespeare Dead?

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 in Edinbourgh (Scotland). The Doyles were a prosperous Irish-Catholic family, who had a prominent position in the world of Art. His father Charles, a chronic alcoholic, was the only member of his family, who apart from fathering a brilliant son, never accomplished anything of note. Charles married Mary Foley, a vivacious and very vell educated young woman of seventeen. Mary Doyle had a passion for books and was a master storyteller. Arthur’s touching description of his mother’s beneficial influence is also emotional described in his biography

“In my early childhood, as far as I can remember anything at all the vivid stories she would tell me stand out so clear that they obscure the real facts of my life.”

After Arthur reached his ninth birthday, the wealthy members of the Doyle family offered to pay for his studies. He was in tears all the way to England, where for seven years he had to go to a Jesuit boarding school. Arthur loathed the bigotry surrounding his studies and rebelled at corporal punishment, which was prevalent and incedibly brutal in most English schools of that epoch. During those grueling years, Arthur’s only moments of happiness were when he wrote to his mother, a regular habit that lasted for the rest of her life, and also when he practiced sports, mainly cricket, at which he was very good. It was during these difficult years at boarding school, that Arthur realized he also had a talent for storytelling. He was often found, surrounding by a bevy of totally enraptured younger students, listening to the amazing stories he would make up to amues them.

Arthur Conan DoyleBy 1876, graduating at the age of seventeen, Arthur Doyle, (as he was called, before adding his middle name “Conan” to his surname), was a surprisingly normal young man. With his innate sense of humor and his sportsmanship, having ruled out any feelings of self-pity, Arthur was ready and willing to face the world and make up for some of his father’s shortcomings.

He studied medical science and after his graduation he worked as a doctor. The young medical student met a number of future authors who were also attending the university, such as for instance James Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson. But the man who impressed and influenced him, was without a doubt, one of his teachers, Dr. Joseph Bell. The good doctor was a master at observation, logic, deduction, and diagnosis. All these qualities were later to be found in the persona of the celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes. A couple of years into his studies, Arthur decided to try his pen at writing a short story. Although the result called “The Mystery of Sasassa Valley” was very evocative of the works of Edgar Alan Poe and Bret Harte, his favorite authors at the time.

The year 1887 was the birth of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Since 1891 he has worked as a free author. In 1901/02 the story “The Hound of Baskerville” was published and he wrote “The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct” for which he was given a peerage. On 7 July 1930 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in Crowborough (Sussex) and leaved four novels and 56 short stories.

Some of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works:
1879 The Mystery of Sasassa Valley
1884 The Captain of the Polestar
1887 A Study in Scarlet
1900 The Great Boer War
1902 The Hound of the Baskervilles
1902 The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct
1906 Sir Nigel
1915 The Lost World
1926 History of Spiritualism
1926 The Land of Myst

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was born on 19 January 1809 in Boston (Massachusetts). He was educated in Virgina and England as a child. It was during his later years at West Point that he showed a remarkable propensity for writing prose. Indeed, Edgar Edgar Allan Poeallan Poe’s first love was poetry, although he was unable to make a living at it early on, he was able to publish two small volumes during these early years.

Only after becoming an assistant editor in Richmond, Virginia, in 1835 did Poe’s literary talents start to blossom. It was at this time in his life that Poe fell in love with his 13-year-old cousin Virginia. Their marriage forced him to find a source of income. When the editor of the Messenger offered employment, Poe eagerly accepted. During his tenure at the Messenger, Edgar Allan Poe was an editor as well as a contributor. In early 1836, Poe was credited with between 80 and 90 reviews, six poems, four essays and three stories, not to mention editiorials and commentaries.

In 1841, Edgar Allan Poe began working for a man named George Graham. At this time, Poe was preparing his famous work, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” for publication. It was during these years in Philadelphia that Poe published such trademark horror tales as “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Pit and The Pendulum”. It was not until the 1845 publication of Poe’s famous poem “The Raven” that he achieved the true rise to fame that had been denied him until then. The public’s reaction to the poem brought Poe to a new level of recognition. In February 1847, Poe’s young wife died of consumption. Poe was devastated by her death and penned these words:

“Deep in earth my love is lying and I must weep alone.”

During the following years Poe’s life was taking a steady turn downward. He suffered through a suicide attempt, several failed romances and engagements, and a largely unsuccessful attempt to resurrect his failing career after a long bout with alcoholism and depression. Edgar Allan Poe died at the age of 40 on 7 Ocobter 1849 in Baltimore. Although the exact circumstances of his death remain unknown, it seems clear that his death can be attributed to the effects of alcoholism.

 

Some of Edgar Allan Poe’s works:
1839 The Fall Of The House Of Usher
1841 The Murdes In The Rue Morgue
1843 The Gold-Bug
1843 The Black Cat
1843 The Tell-Tale Heart
1845 The Raven
1850 Eleonora

Miss Marple

Miss MarpleMiss Jane Marple, an accomplished spinster who lives in a conservative british village called “St. Mary Mead”. She is a literary character in different detective stories and short stories of Agatha Christie. During forty years there were about sixteen homicides, four attempted murder, five robberies eight defalcations and some extortions. All this criminal cases were unraveled by Miss Marple!

The old woman became famous at last by four picturisations of four of Christie’s novels in which Miss Marple is played by Magaret Rutherford. The movies became very popular and were also translated in different languages.

1661  Murder She Said
1963  Murer at the Gallop
1964  Murder Most Foul
1964  Murder Ahoy

Huckleberry Finn

One of Mark Twain’s most famous act is “Huckleberry Finn”. Huck is a young boy who loves adventures and who lives in the house of the godly sisters Douglas and Watson. One day he outwit the whole village because he want to dispose his father who is an alcoholic and Huck doesn’t bear longer with the old ladies. Together with the slave Jim he escapes on a float. During their journey on the Mississippi they get to know different people -knaves, impostors and other criminals. When Jim was imprisoned Huckleberry and his friend Tom Sawyer work out a plan to liberate the slave…

Drinks at a Party

The annual company party. To reduce expenses the management of this company limited the amount of alcohol to one drink per employee. The one who bought the chalices was fired after the party! 😉

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Gym Wheel

Gym Wheel? What’s that??

It’s also called Rhönrad (Rhoenrad), Wheel Gymnastics or German Wheel. Still no thought of? Okay. So I will give you an discribtion and maybe a bit more than that.

Wheel gymnastics was invented in my hometown in 1925 by a German railway worker named Otto Feick. He built several different designs of the wheel, but only one has prevailed. This photo shows a garage in Schönau a.d. Brend (GERMANY, Bavaria) from 1928 in which gymnastic wheels were manufactured.

Garage

In the time, when the Ruhrgebiet was occupied, and the occupying power took many people into custody, Otto Feick was sent to prison as well. In his cell, he remembered an event in his childhood, when he took two iron hoops and connected them in his father’s workshop. He then rolled downhill inside this wheel and arrived having bruises all over his body. In the solitude of the prison, he decided to develop further this child idea and to manufacture a gymnastic gadget. After having left prison, he went to the village, where his wife lived – Schönau an der Brend. There he opened a workshop for metal processing. Besides the daily work, he developed the gymnastic wheel in various attempts in 1924/25. For the sake of his new home, the low mountain range “Rhön” (Rhoen), Otto Feick called his invention “Rhönrad” instead of “Feick-Rad”. The patent was issued on the 8th of November 1925 and received the number 442057. In the following time, the “Rhönrad” was patented in 30 countries. But for the time being just the youth of Schönau had fun with the wheel.

The most difficult task for Otto Feick was to introduce the wheel in the conservative sports community of that time. He managed to bring together some gymnasts of the gymnastic club of Würzburg to form a show group, which started to attract publicity with their presentations. In 1927, Otto Feick was invited to England to present the “Rhönrad” on some great stages of London and in front of the British Air Force. In 1928, he presented the wheel in France and then continued his trip with the show group through many European countries. The first voyage to the United States was done in 1929, where the gym wheel almost became a sensation. The first international competition took place in Bad Kissingen (Germany, Bavaria) and was fundamental for future competitions of that kind. Winners of that competition were Josef Brand from Bad Neustadt in the men’s class and Fini Weimer from Würzburg in the women’s class. In the same year, the first German gymnastic wheel games were conducted, and 50 gymnasts came from Würzburg alone. For the tenth anniversary of the wheel the group performed an outstanding show in the winter garden in Berlin. The peak of this development was the participation of 120 gymnasts at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games 1936 in Munich. From then on, other countries became more and more interested in this new sport. However, in the years of the Second World War all sport activities were restricted and finally forbidden.

When Germany slowly came back to life after the war, some old gym-wheel friends came together again to repair the broken wheels and to bring back to life their beloved sport. The first centres developed again in Berlin and Bavaria like in former times. Due to their work, the wheel was soon accepted in the regional gymnastic associations, and in 1959 the wheel was admitted to the German Gymnastic Association (DTB). The first German Championships took place in 1960 in Hannover. Otto Feick could not see this recognition of his sport anymore. He died on the 17th of October 1959 in Schönau an der Brend, where he was buried. In 1975, for the 50th anniversary of the “Rhönrad”, a nice monument was built in the centre of Schönau in honour of Otto Feick.

At the beginning of the 80’s, the gym wheel experienced a great boom. The Gymnastradas 1982 in Zurich (Switzerland) and 1986 in Herning (Denmark) created the basis for international progress. The gym wheel show group of the German gymnastic association (DTB – Deutscher Turner-Bund) caused sensation with very modern choreographies, and soon the wheel found its way to Israel, Japan and many European countries. In 1990, it was possible to carry out the first European-Cup in Taunusstein (Germany). In 1992, the first European Championships took place in Switzerland. After the foundation of the international gym wheel federation (IRV- Internationaler Rhönradturn Verband) in 1994 in Switzerland, the first World championships were carried out in Den Helder (Netherlands). Besides Japan, Israel, England, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the German gymnasts are still the forerunners of the sport. For the world championships 1997 in Antwerp (Belgium), it was required from the gymnasts for the first time to do their free straight-line exercise with music. Since 1998, gymnasts in Germany use music for their competition-exercises in straight-line as well. For that, the judges evaluate the technique, the difficulty and the interpretation of the music. Since the fourth world championships in 2001 in Liestal (Switzerland), vault is an official discipline for women as well. This completed a big step in the development of the gym wheel, and it remains our hope for an increasing public interest.

Various wheels

To exhaust all possibilities Feick and his collegue constructed four different types of wheels:
The Universal Wheel is the most popular wheel. It is constructed out of two steel hops that are connected with 6 horizontal bars at a distance of 50cm.
The Excelsior Wheel resembles the universal wheel, just that the distance between the hoops is one third of the distance of the universal wheel. It was used for fast spirals.
The Globe Wheel consisted of two crosswise-connected universal wheels. In this wheel about five gymnasts could roll at the same time in all directions.
The Dreia Wheel is a combination of the universal wheel with a single crosswise hoop, similar to the globe wheel. Three persons could use it at a time.
The abstractions of the universal wheel did not prove worthwhile, and today only the universal wheel is used.

Competition Disciplines

Straight-line

The wheel is rolling on two hoops in a straight line. The gymnast is inside the wheel and controls its movement by shifting the centre of gravity. The movements are divided into central and decentral elements. Doing central elements the gymnast’s position is in the centre of the wheel. Doing decentral elements the gymnast is positioned at the edge of the wheel, what makes the movement faster. In straight line with music the gymnast tries to interpret the music with his own movements. This discipline requires most creativity. For this purpose the classical rules for posture are loosened. The space that can be used is 3 x 23 metres.

Spiral

The wheel is moving on one hoop in a circle. The gymnast is inside the wheel and guides it. There is a big spiral where the wheel has an angle of inclination bigger than 60° to the floor, and a small spiral with an angle of inclination smaller than 30°. Both forms are required in a competition exercise. The space that can be used is 13x13m.

Vault

In this discipline the gymnast is starting the movement of the wheel from the outside. He pushes the wheel away, then runs after it and jumps on the top. From there he makes figures like a summersault on a mat.