Friday, June 28, 2013

In A Memorial Tribute To Gwen, Reprinting Her February Interview - Along with some comments of my own.

In light of Gwen's untimely recent passing earlier this month, I wanted to reprint the interview I did with her back in February regarding the writing of The Kabrini Message.  Gwen had a lot of insight on the book, a lot of which we had not yet even gotten into.  

There were some awesome things she relayed to me, that we did not put in this interview, that I wanted to delve into more deeply in the future, but now that will never happen.  Things about the actual inspiration and origin of the book and answers to my questions regarding why the word "Kabrini"?

I had asked Gwen to try to put together as much information as she could with regard to what she did tell me and we agreed we would explore and release that later, "when the time seemed right".  I guess that was not meant to happen.  But here, again, is what we do have - the interview from February, right after the initial January release of The Kabrini Message.  Perhaps the rest of the story was not meant to be told, at least not quite yet.  

Check out the quotes Gwen hand selected for this piece at the end of the interview, which seem even more poignant now.

Interview With Gwen Jones, Wife of Author J.R. Egles

Joe and Gwen
Taken around the time of the writing of The Kabrini Message, c.1987
Surf City, NJ
Notice the ham radio equipment on the left and the telescope on the right!

Today we have a Special Guest with us, Gwen Jones, wife of Author J.R. Egles, who has a unique point of view of The Kabrini Message as she was there during the entire time it was written.

Thank you so much for being with us today, Gwen and for sharing some of your insights with us.  Tell us a little about your involvement during the writing of The Kabrini Message and the process itself.Joe always wanted me to read what he had written each day and to hear what I had to say about it.

What are some of your fondest memories from the time of the writing of The Kabrini Message?
Joe always asked my opinion about his writing and after listening intently, he would ignore all of it...LOL
Did Joe always want to write a book?

Joe was always a creative person and I think he was looking for an outlet to show his creativity.

Did he do much other writing in addition to The Kabrini Message?
He wrote some short stories and music lyrics. 

How did you feel about the character of the news reporter being named after you and do you remember how that came about or have any special memories regarding the writing of that character?
Actually, I asked Joe to put me in the book and he loved the idea. I think he nailed it...LOL

Who would you want to play “Gwen Jones” in the movie version?
Hmmm...Kate Hudson
What character, dialogue, or parts of the book in general seem the most like Joe?
I think the book as a whole is Joe.  Reading it I can hear his voice saying the words. 

Can you think of anything in particular that may have inspired all or parts of The Kabrini Message?
Joe had many different theories on many different subjects and was open minded to unlimited possibilities.  There are messages all around us; some people are just more tuned in than others.  The main character in the book, Jeffrey Driscoll, has that in common with Joe.  Jeffrey always sensed when he was looking through his telescope that someone or something was looking back, which is why the Kabrini chose him to get their message out. 

Do you know where the word “Kabrini” came from or why that particular name? 
That’s just their name.  Just like it says in the book, that’s what they call themselves.

Did Joe ever speak about perhaps writing a sequel to The Kabrini Message or what he felt happened to the characters beyond where the book ends?
I think there would have been a sequel to it.  Joe had a lot more to offer.

What “message” would Joe most want us to take away from The Kabrini Message?
I think Joe made his message clear in the book.  It's all in there and he said it best.

What else would you like people to know about Joe? 
There was so much more to Joe than most people ever realized, I hardly know where to start, but I'll try.

One thing that comes to mind was his ability to reinterpret something difficult to comprehend - anything from bible verses, Shakespeare, complicated scientific theories – anything at all really, and restate it a way that was easily understood and suddenly made perfect sense.  He was great at teaching.

Also, he was very interested in reverse speech and the messages within. He did a lot of research in that area with fascinating results.  That’s just another, separate example that messages are all around us and we are all capable of receiving them…ifwe listen. But to certain individuals, it just seems to come naturally.  Joe was one of those people. 

In closing, is there anything you would like to add? 

I think we lost an amazing man way to soon, as he had so much more to offer.  I miss him everyday.

And finally, here are two of my favorite quotes I'd like to share.

Joe in 2006

"In my  solitude I have pondered much on the incomprehensible subjects of space, eternity, life and death."
                                               - Alfred Russel Wallace

"We love our dear ones deeply and miss them when they leave us.   But we know that the bond of love is greater then death."
                                               - Harold Klemp

Friday, June 21, 2013

Contributing Astronomy Editor, Dan Matlaga: OF DAYS GONE BY

Welcome back, Dan!  Today Dan will delve into the details and significance of June 21st, once considered mid-summer, now regarded as the start of summer.

Of Days Gone By...

It passed with little notice.  Another fact no longer holds for us from the varnished classroom of days gone by. 
 If you marked March 21 as the beginning of spring on your multiple choice science tests in 5th grade you were given credit for the correct answer.  Certainly the beginning of spring can, on occasion begin on March 20, but that was not available as a candidate of possible answers.  We have to keep it simple and direct.  After all, these are 5th graders.
What passed with little fanfare was March 21, 2007 Universal Time.  That was the last time for us that the beginning of spring fell on March 21.  The next time March 21 marks the beginning of spring will be in the year 2102 Universal Time.
How is this so?
The number of days in the year is 365.24218967 days.  Note the fraction.  The .24 is a quarter of a day, so to keep up the calendar in step with the seasons we have to add an extra day every four years.  The added day of the year is called a leap year.  Note however, that part of the fraction after .24 (the 218967 part of the number) also requires attention.  The rules to keep the wall calendar and seasons in agreement must change slightly.  The rule for the 218967 part of the fraction calls for a leap year whenever a whole number results by dividing the year by four (leap year) except for years which are both divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400.  This means the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years but the year 2000 was a leap year.

This change is minor compared to changes in "the good old days”.
What can the fifth grade student tell us about the upcoming June 21st? 
"It is the beginning of summer”, is the most common reply.
"It is the longest day of the year”, is next in line, with nothing to follow.
If you lived in the United States prior to 1900, the beginning of summer was not June 21st but May 1st.  This is why there are so many May Day celebrations to this day in Europe.  August 1st marked the end of summer, while June 21st was the middle of summer.
June 21 is the traditional longest day of the year.  What is almost never mentioned is that it is consequently the shortest night.  The magic of an entire night must be squeezed and compressed into just a few short hours.  In St. Petersburg, at latitude 60 degrees north, there are 19 hours of daylight but just a few hours of dusk.  In fact it is called the "white night" for the lack of truly dark hours.

William Shakespeare thought the magic of the June 21 night was so powerful he decided to write a play.  The play is titled: "A Midsummer Night's Dream”, which centers on the activities of several lovers caught in the forest on the night of June 21st. Surrounded by the magic of nature, away from the social graces of city life, the inner forces of their psyche takes hold. How many of us place our heads down on our pillows the night of June 21st and realize we are about to enter a midsummer night's dream?  Can you experience that level of romance for an entire night and be sane the next morning?  If your response is disbelief, you are the one who loses because you have lost the opportunity to dream.
Even Shakespeare's play is but a faint echo to the white night activities surrounding St. Petersburg.  On the night of June 21st, from teenagers to senior citizens, it was off with all clothes and then they entered the forest for the entire night.  There was...well, you can use your own imagination.  Suffice to say nine months later around March 21st there was a considerable increase in the number of births.

With the advent of Christianity old observances were dropped.  With new ideas, dates were changed to June 24, the feast day of John the Baptist.  Gone were the old ways, in with the new.  Communism put an end to both the old and newer ways.  With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of communism, today there is noted a slight increase in births in St. Petersburg about March 21st.

Very enlightening and entertaining, as always!  Thank you very much Dan and Happy June 21st everyone!  As Dan pointed out, today is the longest day, but shortest night of the year - make the very most of it!!!