Archive for March, 2010

Around the World – Portugal

Portugal's Roca Farol, Europe's most western continental point

Next stop on our trip around the world is Portugal. For such a small country (smaller than the state of Indiana), it has had quite an effect on the world. For one thing, the exploration explosion of the 16th century was primarily due to Prince Henry the Navigator. Other interesting Portuguese facts:

  • Their national holiday is celebrated on June 10th, the day poet Luis de Camoes (who wrote an epic poem honoring the country), died in 1580.
  • One of  the world’s largest solar power plant is based in the Norte region of the country.
  • Because Portugal was a neutral country during WWII, about a million European refugees, including several thousand Jews, were able to escape the Nazis via Lisbon.


Novels by Portuguese author, António Lobo Antunes

Novels by Nobel-prizewinning Portuguese author, José Saramago

Distant Music – Lee Langley

The European Discovery of America – Samuel Eliot Morison

The Food of Portugal – Jean Anderson

Hunting Midnight – Richard Zimler

Journey to Portugal: In Pursuit of Portugal’s History and Culture – José Saramago

The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon – Richard Zimler

Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Uncovering the Mystery Behind a 17th Century Forbidden Love – Myriam Cyr

The Portugal Story: Three Centuries of Exploration and Discovery – John Dos Passos

Portuguese Homestyle Cooking – Ana Patuleia Ortins

Rick Steves’ Portugal – Rick Steves

A Small Death in Lisbon – Robert Wilson

A Traveller’s History of Portugal – Ian Robertson


Portuguese Explorers – The Mariners’ Museum

Portugal – CIA World FactBook

Portugal Official Tourism

7 Maravilhas Naturais de Portugal (The Seven Wonders of Portugal)

Newsflash: Origami is Definitely Cool!

So, I was all ready to do an entry this week about fiction set during the Roman Empire. That changed after I got home from work last night because on one of the PBS stations was the coolest Independent Lens program I’ve seen (and I’ve watched a few). The show, Between the Folds, was all about the art and science of paper folding. Before you scoff, you should see some of the objects created. The pieces below were created with just one sheet of paper!

Origami Mushroom and the Flower Tower

The documentary also opened my eyes to the ways in which the art of folding is making an impact in fields such as medicine and space technology. I knew that math teachers often used origami to help students understand geometry, but I was amazed at how cool, beautiful, and useful origami still is. It even inspired me to take a look at origami again (and to write this post – Roman fiction will have to wait!).

Here are a few of the resources we have on origami:

10-Fold Origami: Fabulous Paperfolds You Can Make in Just 10 Steps! – Peter Engel

3D Origami: Step-by-Step Illustrations

Advanced Origami – Didier Boursin

Dollar Bill Animals in Origami: The National Origami Treasury – John Montroll

Making Origami Masks Step by Step – Michael G. LaFosse

Minigami: Mini Origami Projects for Cards, Gifts and Decorations – Gay Merrill Gross

Napkin Origami: 25 Creative and Fun Ideas for Napkin Folding

Origamido: The Art of Folded Paper – Michael G. LaFosse

Origami Flowers: Popular Blossoms and Creative Bouquets – Hiromi Hayashi

Origami in Action: Paper Toys that Fly, Flap, Gobble, and Inflate! by Robert J. Lang

Russian Origami by Sergei Afonkin

Sticky Note Origami – David Mitchell

Super Quick Origami Animals – Nick Robinson

DVD – Fold It Beyond Traditional Origami: Greeting Cards, Books, Boxes, and More – Karen Thomas

“March” Madness

In ancient Rome, March was the first month of the year. Named after Mars (the god) of war, the month issued in springtime, which was apparently a good time to start up military campaigns.  Today, the month is often associated with the death of Julius Caesar (the Ides of March),  St. Patrick’s Day (the 17th), Women’s History Month, and the NCAA Basketball Tournament (aka “March Madness”).

Since “march” is also an action verb, it makes a ton of sense that it is often used in book titles (probably beaten only by “may”). In honor of the month that’s supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb (that sounds vaguely like a Muhammad Ali quip), here are a few interesting books to help you get through the month:


The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder – The story of the murder of Caesar.

March by Geraldine Brooks – The Civil War story of the father of the Little Women.

The March by E. L. Doctorow – Sherman’s March brought to life.

March Upcountry by David Weber – Prince Roger is banished and must fight his way back to his home planet in the science fiction novel. (See the rest of the series: March to the Sea, March to the Stars, and We Few)

March Violets by Philip Kerr – A thriller involving diamonds and Nazis.



Braddock’s March: How the Man Sent to Seize a Continent Changed American History by Thomas E. Crocker – The French and Indian War from another perspective.

The Coldest March: Scott’s Fatal Antarctic Expedition by Susan Soloman

The Long March: The True History of Communist China’s Founding Myth by Shuyun Sun

Marching on Washington: The Forging of an American Political Tradition by Lucy G. Barber

The March of the Microbes: Sighting the Unseen by John L. Ingraham

The March of the Penguins by Luc Jacquet – Beautiful photographs from the documentary.

The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division by Francis J. West

My Father’s Bonus March by Adam Langer – A look at a father through his interest in the Bonus March.

Not Even My Name: From a Death March in Turkey to a New Home in America, a Young Girl’s True Story of Genocide and Survival by Thea Halo

Southern Storm: Sherman’s March to the Sea by Noah Andre Trudeau

Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Baatan Death March and Its Aftermath by Michael and Elizabeth Norman

The Thirty-First of March: An Intimate Portrait of Lyndon Johnson’s Final Days in Office by Horace W. Busby

When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball by Seth Davis – How the Championship Game featuring Bird and Johnson changed college basketball.