Come on and join author Melissa Bradley as she sets off on her latest adventure...


If you are not 18, please exit stage left. While there is normally nothing naughty here, I do write and review erotica so there are links to spicy stuff and the occasional heated excerpt.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hooray!! Z Is For Mildred "Babe" Didrickson Zaharias

It's the final day of the awesome huge A to Z Challenge 2012 and I cannot believe I finished on time and in spite of moving, starting a new job assignment and dealing with some dramarama. I feel like a champion! I still have some comments to respond to as I've had a huge weekend filled with First Communion, chores, errands, and whole host of other things, but I will respond. Congrats to all my fellow challengers out there. We did it!! And huge thanks to Alex, Lee, Tina, Jenny, Damyanti, Stephen, Kostanz, Matthew, D.L., Elizabeth, Sharon, Jeremy and Karen for doing such a kick ass job co-hosting this mighty blogfest.

For my final strong woman you should know, Z is for Mildred "Babe" Didrickson Zaharias, one of the greatest all around athletes the United States has ever known. At a time when women in sports was generally frowned upon, she pursued athletic excellence. Babe's specialty areas were golf, basketball and track and field. In basketball she was an All-American and in track won three Olympic medals at the 1932 Los Angeles Games, two gold and one silver. Prior to her appearance in the Olympic Games, Babe set five world records at the Amateur Athletic Union championships in the 80 meter hurdles, the javelin throw, the high jump and the baseball throw in a single afternoon of competition. She was the only female member of her AAU team. the Golden Cyclones.

Her post-Olympic career included organizing and touring with a Harlem Globetrotters-esque team called Babe Didrickson's All-Americans. But golf was her game and the sport for which she would become the most famous. She came to it rather late (1935), but she excelled quickly. She was denied amateur status to play in the female competitions because of the money she had made after the Olympics with her basketball touring. There were only a handful professional female competitions, so in January of 1938, Babe competed in the Los Angeles Open, a men's PGA tournament. She just missed the cut that year, shooting an 81 and 84. She continued to pursue the PGA as her prowess grew and would qualify for the tour in 1945, the first and only woman to ever do so. No woman would attempt such a feat again until Annika Sorenstam, Michele Wie and Suzy Whaley six decades later.

 After earning back her amateur status, Babe won both the U.S. Women's Amateur and British Ladies Amateur in 1946 and 47, the first American to do so. In 1950, she helped found the LPGA and went on to capture 41 tour wins from 1950-56. Her golf career was cut short when she lost her battle with colon cancer in 1956.She was still a top ranked player at the time of her death.

Fun Facts

Totaling her amateur and professional wins, Babe won 81 titles in her 18 year golf career.

Thank you all so much for stopping by and support me throughout this entire A to Z. Your supportive, enthusiastic comments have humbled me and made me smile a lot during one of the most stressful times for me. To visit my fellow awesome challengers on this finale day, please click here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y Is For K Aslihan Yener

I can't believe this is the next to last post for the 2012 A to Z. Where has the month gone? It's been a crazy cool April and I've connected with so many great new people. I sure didn't get to visit as many blogs as I wanted, but hopefully the list will be left up so I can use it to visit the rest of my fellow challengers over the next months. Now, on with the show...

Y is for K Aslihan Yener, archaeologist. Her area of expertise is the Bronze Age and throughout the 1980's she made several important discoveries in the Taurus mountains in eastern Turkey (Anatolia). In 1987, while directing an archaeometallurgical survey, she discovered an ancient tin mine at Kestel. It had over two miles of tunnels, most of which were only two feet wide. The mine was apparently worked by children as she also uncovered a mass grave holding the ancient  skeletal remains of fifteen children killed in a tunnel collapse.

In 1989 on a hill opposite the mine, Yener uncovered a site containing almost 50,000 fragments of Bronze Age tools and evidence that this place, an ancient city, had been continuously occupied from 3290 BC to 1840  BC. She and her team also discovered that much of this city was subterranean. By 1993, Yener had uncovered enough evidence to prove her theory that tin was a viable industry in this area during the Bronze Age.

Yener joined the faculty of Chicago's world renowned Oriental Institute in 1993 and remains an Associate Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology. She is also currently the director of the Amuq Regional Valley Project in southern Turkey and is researching a site at Tell Atchana, the capital of the Kingdom of Mukush during the time of the Hittite Empire. In 2009 she joined the faculty of Koc University.

Fun Fact

Ancient garbage dumps are referred to as middens. Archeologists will tell you that they provide some of the best material for study. I can only imagine my South Side scrap yard as a midden 1000 years from now. Well, if the Mayan zombies haven't eaten our brains this December and ended the world, that is. 

Thank you so much for visiting. I appreciate you taking the time to read my post on Aslihan and hope enjoyed her story. To visit my fellow awesome A to Z challengers, please click here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X Is For Xie Jun

It's Friday and it's X day. No not Triple X Day, although...Ahem. I'll just save those thoughts for my next salacious tale. ;D Okay, mind out of the smut bag and back to the challenge.

My X is for Xie Jun, chess grandmaster. She learned to play xiangqi or Chinese chess at age 6 and by 10 was the girl's champion of Beijing. When the government learned of Jun's facility for xiangqi, they encouraged her to take up the international game of chess. In spite of her lack of real training opportunities, by age 14 she was the Chinese girls' champion and in 1988 tied for the fourth at the women's world junior championships.

In 1991, Xie became only the second chess grandmaster from China. That same year she defeated 13 time world champion Maya Chiburdanidze of Georgia. Jun was just 20 years old. She went on to reign as world champion until 1996, but became champion once more in 1999 and defended that title successfully until 2001.

Xie Jun's popularity amongst her countrymen has contributed to the popularity of chess throughout China and the rest of Asia. She remained in the top three of female chess players throughout her international career. Today, she holds a doctorate in psychology and works with athletes as well as chess players.

Fun Facts

In 2004, Xie was tapped by FIDE, the international governing body of chess, to be an International Arbiter. Th requirements for this awarded title are very stringent and she is only one of a handful of women to have been awarded this title.

I appreciate the visit today and hope you enjoyed learning about Xie Jun. To visit the other brilliant A to Z challengers, please click here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W Is For Sheila Widnall

Happy Thursday and Happy W Day to all my fellow A to Z challengers. We're getting to the end of big blogfest and I could not be more happy, exhausted, stressed and excited. What an awesome experience this has been so far.

W is for Sheila E. Widnall, engineer, scientist, teacher and trailblazer. She was one of only 23 women in the freshman class of 936 at MIT in the fall of 1956. After graduating with her BS in 1960, she earned her MS in '61 and her Sc.D in aeronautics and astronautics in 1964. Not long after, she was appointed Assistant Professor at MIT. Sheila is known for her work in the field of fluid dynamics, studying aircraft turbulence and the spiraling vortices created by helicopter blades.

Sheila served as the Chair of Faculty for MIT's School of Engineering from 1979-81 and served as Associate Provost from 1991-93. In 1988, she was elected to serve as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. During this time, Sheila also served on the Board of Visitors for the United States Air Force and on  the advisory committees for Military Airlift Command and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. One of her most awesome achievements came on August 5, 1993, when she was appointed Secretary of the U.S. Air Force. She became the first woman to ever head a branch of the military.

Her achievements continued from there. In 1995, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and served as its vice-president from 1998 to 2005. She also won its distinguished Arthur M. Bueche  Award in 2009. Her expertise  and experience also lead to her appointment to the shuttle Columbia accident investigation board in 2003. Currently Sheila works with the Lean Advancement Initiative at MIT.

Fun Facts

She wrote an article for a 1983 issue of Science Magazine entitled "Science and the Atari Generation"

I appreciate your visit today. If you want to visit the other challengers from the big A to Z, please click here

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

V Is For Lila Meade Valentine

It's V Day! And before I get rolling, I want to take some time to mention an incredibly awesome giveaway my friend and super co-host of the Big A to Z, Alex J. Cavanaugh, is having at his site. For reaching the tremendous 1500 followers mark, he is giving away a copy of his incredible books CassaStar and CassaFire to the public or high school library of the winner's choice. Isn't that awesome? So go there right now and leave a comment for a chance to give the library of your choice these awesome books. You rock, Alex! Congratulations and here's to 1500 more. :)

V is for Lila Meade Valentine. She was a suffragette and campaigned actively for not only women's rights, but for better public health standards and improvement of public education. Lila co-founded the Richmond Education Association with Mary Cook. This organization worked to set up kindergartens as well as occupational training within the Richmond Public School System.

Lila's main passion was women having the vote. She was very active in the National Women's Suffrage Association and also  founded the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia in 1909. She was chosen as one of its first presidents as well. After the 19th Amendment was ratified, the ESL was renamed the Virginia League of Women Voters.

Sadly, Lila was too ill to go to the polls in 1920 and was never able to cast the ballot she worked so hard to achieve. I think about Lila whenever I feel too lazy to get my rear to the polls during primary season. Every election counts. I'm sorry if I've taken up a lot of my posts with suffragettes, but I admire these women very much and knowing what they went through just so I could cast my vote for President, Governor, Mayor...makes me extraordinarily thankful. In fact, I used to love the little School House Rock cartoon about women's suffrage...

Hope you enjoyed my post about Lila today. Thanks you for dropping by. I appreciate your visit very much. If you are participating in the Big A to Z, please click here to check out the other amazing challengers.

U Is For Umm Kulthum

Hey I'm caught up! Whoo Hoo!! Pomegranate martinis all around...Wait, I can't drink before work LOL. Anyway, now that I am back on single letter posts, here is my selection for today's A to Z entry.

U is for Umm Kulthum, an Egyptian singer, songwriter and actress. I don't know very much about her, but what I've been able to find out, I find fascinating and I definitely have to check out her music. Known as the "star of the East," she is considered the greatest female singer in Arab music history. On May 31, 1934 she opened the very first broadcast of Radio Cairo. King Farouk awarded her nishan al kamal, an honor reserved only for the royal family and important allies. Unlike most of her contemporaries, she held open concerts, which typically lasted three to four hours. She also starred in many popular musical movies.

Her fortunes took a downward turn after the "bloodless revolution" of 1952. Because of her supposed royal favor, she was rejected by the Egyptian musicians guild and faced censure. They ordered her songs to be taken from radio airplay. However, when one of the leaders of the revolution, Gamal Abdel Nasser, heard this, he took immediate action. He is quoted as saying "What are they, crazy? Do they want Egypt to turn against us?"

Umm's legacy in the Arab world is astonishing, considering the general attitude towards women in many of the countries. Her monthly concerts were so popular, they cleared the streets of Cairo and other cities throughout the Middle East as people flocked to their homes and other places with radios to hear her. In central Cairo, there is a statue and monument to her and in 2001, the Egyptian government opened the Kawkab al Sharq (Star of the East) Museum in her honor. She passed away in 1975, but she continues to sell millions of records. Her voice was considered highly unusual as she is only one of five female singers ever to be able to hit every single Arabic scale.

Fun Facts 

Umm's famous fans include Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and Bono.

The legendary Maria Callas considered Umm "an Incomparable Voice."

I appreciate you stopping by today. If you're participating in the big A to Z, please check out more of the incredible participants here

Sunday, April 22, 2012

S And T Are For...

Today is my big catch up. Tomorrow I'll be back to single letters and on the letter U with all of you, my fellow Challengers. Yay!!! What a week it as been. Let me give a shout out to my friend, Maybard at Maynard Morrissey's Horror Movie Diary. He gave me an award a few days ago and I want to thank him. Maynard, you are one of the best and I promise, promise to do an award post very soon. Visit him if you get a chance, he has one of the coolest blogs.

S is for Deborah Sampson. Deborah was a soldier in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Yes, you read that right. She was a soldier. You see, Deborah disguised herself as a man, enlisted and fought for 17 months as Robert Shurtlieff of Uxbridge, Massachusetts. And she was not the only one. There are several women with documented combat experience during that war. Hell to the yeah, my sisters.

Deborah joined the Continental Army  on May 20, 1782 where she was chosen for the Light Infantry Company of the 4th Massachussetts under the command of Captain George Webb. On July 3, she fought in her first battle where she was wounded twice the thigh and was slashed across the forehead. Fearing discovery, she begged her fellow soldiers to leave her, but they refused. A brother soldier put her on his horse and rode her the 6 miles to the hospital. Her head wound was treated, but she left before they could treat her leg wounds. She took a penknife and a sewing needle and dug one slug out herself. The other was lodged too deeply to reach. Her leg healed improperly, but she continued to serve and was promoted on April 1, 1783, serving as waiter to General John Patterson. In June of that year, she was afflicted with a fever and Barnabas Binney, the doctor who treated her discovered her secret. He never uttered a word and Deborah was honorably discharged on October 25, 1783.

T is for Ida Tarbell. Ida was a teacher turned journalist who lead the way in so-called Progressive Era with her investigative journalism which became known as muckraking. She was one of the first women to  graduate from Allegheny College in 1880. While teaching, Ida became interested in journalism and reporting. She started writing and editing a magazine for the Methodist Church. She quit to further her studies in France where she continued writing articles. Here she caught the attention of publisher and newspaperman, Samuel McClure. He offered her the position of editor for McClure's Magazine. She also wrote a popular series of biographical articles on Napoleon for the publication.

Her biggest work for McClure's was a 20 part series on Abraham Lincoln that was turned into a wildly popular book. Its success gave her cache as a major writer and her investigation into the President's life fueled her desire to uncover the truth. In 1902, she investigated the business practices of robber baron John D. Rockefeller and his company Standard Oil. Her landmark piece, The History of the Standard Oil Company was published in 1904 and lead to the prosecution of Rockefeller and others under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. In 1906, Ida founded American Magazine and authored several important pieces about tariffs. During World War I, she took up the plight of working women and fought to get them better working conditions and compensation. Because of Ida and her fellow muckrakers, the press is the watchdog organization it is today.

Hope you enjoyed reading about Deborah and Ida. Thank you so very much for stopping by and visiting. To visit more of my brilliant fellow A to Z challengers, click here.

Q And R Are For...

Happy Sunday! I hope you all are having an amazing day of rest. I'm cheating a bit and posting today so that by Tuesday I'll be back on track with the A to Z.

Q is for Helen Quinn, particle physicist. She earned her doctorate in physics from Stanford University in 1967, when less than 2% of the world's physicists were women. Her post-doctoral work was completed at the DESY (the German Electron Synchrotron). Helen had the distinction of teaching and working at Harvard University for seven years until her return to Stanford, where she is currently a professor at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Her contributions to the field of particle physics include her work with Howard Georgi and Steven Weinberg. They showed how the three types of particle interactions (strong, electromagnetic and weak) become "similar in extreme high energy processes and so might be three aspects of a unified force." This sentence is straight from Wikipedia as I have a very nominal understanding of particle physics. With Enrico Poggio and again Steven Weinberg, Helen also discovered the quark-hadron duality property. 

Helen works with elementary and high school teachers to make physics fun and more accessible. She wants to encourage more people to understand and study her field. Dr. Quinn is a fellow and Past President of the American Physical Society and was the recipient of the Oscar Klein Medal from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2008. Along with Howard Georgi and Jogesh Pati, she received the Dirac Medal from the International Center for Theoretical Physics in 2000. The woman's brain is beyond brilliant and I hope there are oodles more like her.

R is for Edith Nourse Rogers, legislator and political leader. She served as a Red Cross volunteer during World War I and became the presidential representative in charge of assisting disabled veterans for the Harding, Coolidge and Hoover Administrations. In 1925, she was elected to serve out her late husband's term in Congress where she became the longest serving woman in the House of Representatives.

During her 17 terms in office, she wrote legislation to establish the GI Bill of Rights for returning veterans of World War II, allowing them to apply for low interest loans, go to college and obtain job training. Even more impressive to me was her introduction of legislation at the start World War II to establish the Women's Auxiliary Army Corp (WAAC). Thanks to Edith's vision, women serve in all branches of the military today. She also fought for a 48 hour work week for women and supported equal pay for equal work.

Thank you so much for stopping by, I truly ppreciate the visits and comments. For more awesome A to Z challengers, click here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

O And P Are For...

I'm still behind on everything and I am so so sorry to those of you that have visited me and I haven't made it to your blogs or commented back. I am still unpacking, working and taking care of some other deadlines that have since caught up with me. Five days off line and it's like gooey kablooie around here for me. That thud is my head hitting the desk. The white-coated ones are not far behind. "They're coming to take me away..." Anyway, enough crazy, pity party talk and on with the A to Z.

O is for Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic female astronaut and the current Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center.  Ellen first went into space aboard the shuttle Discovery in April 1993. As a Mission Specialist, she used the Remote Manipulator System robotic arm to deploy, then retrieve the Spartan satellite which studied the solar corona. Ellen returned to space three more times, including two visits to the International Space Station. Her third mission, in 1999, was the first time a shuttle had docked with the station.

Ellen  is the co-inventor and holds three patents for an optical inspection system, an optical object recognition method and a method for noise removal in images. She is the recipient of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Outstanding Leadership Medal, the Exceptional Service Medal and Four Space Flight Medals. She has also been awarded the Harvard Foundation Science Award as well as the Albert Baez Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution to Humanity. She has two schools named for her as well. How cool is that? This woman rocks plain and simple.

P is for Alice Paul, a woman whose contributions to the women's suffrage movement are incalculable. At age 20, she graduated from Swarthmore college and went on to earn an M.A. and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. She joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association shortly after graduation from the U of P. Alice was appointed the Chairwoman of their Congressional Committee in DC where she organized a successful parade to raise awareness of the cause and focused on getting a constitutional amendment  for women's suffrage. By 1913, NAWSA's member numbers were growing.

However, Alice was a firebrand and often clashed with the NAWSA leadership. She left in 1916 and formed the National Women's Party. In January 1917, the NWP formed the Silent Sentinels protest in front of the White House to call for an amendment on Women's Suffrage. Alice and others were arrested, then incarcerated. Locked up at Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia, Alice remained active. She staged a hunger strike to protest the horrid conditions there and the press got wind. Prison officials ordered Alice restrained and force fed her raw eggs through a feeding tube. The coverage of that savagery kept pressure on the Wilson Administration to get an amendment passed. Alice would be arrested twice more until the 19th Amendment was finally passed on August 18, 1920. Just a mere 92 years ago and how old is this country?

Fun Facts

Alice was the original author of a proposed Equal Rights Amendment in 1923, but an ERA would not see the light of day until the 1970's, where it failed.

The 2004 film Iron Jawed Angels is all about Alice, her fellow suffragists and the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate the visits and comments. For more awesome A to Z challengers, click here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

M And N Are For...

Happy Thursday! Still plugging along on the Big A to Z.  I am loving being back in the swing. What a great time this is as the home stretch looms near. Hope you are meeting and visiting some of the other awesome participants. You can find them by clicking here

M is for Wangari Maathai, an environmental and political activist from Kenya. In 2004, she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari was also the first East African woman to earn a PhD when she was awarded her doctorate from the University of Nairobi in 1971. Inspired by the environmentalists she saw here in the States, Wangari founded the Green Belt Movement in 1976. This is a community development organization that helps Kenyan women in poor rural areas plant trees to combat deforestation, restore their primary source of fuel, generate an income and stop soil erosion.

Maathai's activism led her to seek political office and she ran unsuccessfully for the Kenyan Parliament in 1997. However, she returned for another try in 2002 and was elected. The following January she was appointed Assistant Minister in the Ministry for Environment and Natural Resources, where she served until 2005. She used this time to found a political party to support environmentally minded candidates.

She continued to teach and to work for women's rights in Africa until her death of ovarian cancer in September of 2011.

N is for Sarojini Naidu, Indian independence activist, poet and child prodigy. In a country known for its disdain of girl children, Sarojini is a standout. She was the first woman governor of Uttar Pradesh state and only the second woman to ever be elected president of the Indian National Congress. Her political activism began after she joined the Indian National Movement and from 1915-1918, she traveled throughout India lecturing on social welfare, the empowerment of women and nationalism. She helped to found the Women's Indian Association and was chosen to go to London to speak to the Joint Select Committee to present the case for giving women the vote.

She counted Mahatma Ghandi amongst her friends and played a leading role in the Civil Disobedience Movement. She was arrested along with Ghandi on several occasions. 

Fluent in five language, Naidu was a child prodigy. She attended King's College London at sixteen and later studied at Cambridge. She fell in love with poetry and wrote about contemporary Indian life and culture, attracting a large Indian and English following. Some of her most well-known works include The Golden Threshold and The Bird of Time.

Fun Fact:

Sarojini was such good friends with Ghandi, she called him  "Mickey Mouse."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Big Return: K Is For...

I'm baaaaccckkk!!! Finally, right? I bet you didn't even miss me. LOL Yep, I am all squared away in my new place, surrounded by boxes, can't find my deodorant or my hair dryer, but I'm online and back blogging. You know, the important things. I hated missing out on the A to Z but, I'm looking forward to catching up. So while all of you are on P, I am on K and doubling up with L so I have a prayer of running even.

K is for Mary Kingsley, a woman whose explorations and writings of Africa helped pave the way for a better understanding of the continent and its people. Mary had little formal education, her schooling was largely due to the fact that her father had a very large library and "allowed" her access to it. However, she did train as a nurse at Kaiserworth Medical Institute.

She arrived in Sierra Leone on August 17, 1893, then pressed on into what is now Angola, areas where non-native women were about as common as unicorns. She explored the Ogooue River and stayed with the remote Fang people in Cameroon. While there, Kingsley climbed Mt. Cameroon by a route previously unknown by European explorers.

Because of her experiences, she held views that were counter to established thought. She got into hot water with the Church of England when she dared to criticize the missionaries who attempted to convert the peoples of Africa by subverting their native cultures. Kingsley wrote two books chronicling her experiences that remain in print today, Travels in West Africa (1897) and West African Studies (1899).

L is for Rose Livingston, an activist, who was known in the early 20th century press as the Angel of Chinatown. She put her life at risk time and again to rescue women and girls from prostitution. Venturing into the slums of Chinatown in New York, Rose would confront the various pimps, cadets and procurers. leading the girls out of the brothels. Rose made many an enemy, including the mayor of New York at the time, William Gaynor. Livingston raged against policemen, councilmen and other officials about how they allowed women to be subjugated, oppressed and put into danger at the hands of brothel keepers and others. At one point, she was beaten severely and received a broken jaw at the hands of one of the pimps she opposed.

She finally took her crusade to the national stage and was instrumental in getting the Mann Act passed. The Mann Act is the 1910 law here in the States which prohibits interstate sex trafficking.

Rose was also very outspoken about getting women the right to vote. She believed that the vote was the only way that women could ever truly hope to be free and in charge of their own destinies.  A radical thinker for sure.

Fun Factoids

Mary Kingsley was also an avid amateur biologist. Her explorations on the Ogooue River resulted in the discovery of several unknown variety of fish, three of which were named for her.

Thanks for stopping by and welcoming me back into the wonderful fold of the A to Z. I missed being here very much. Your comments and visits mean a lot to me. And thank you so much, too for the kind and encouraging comments you left regarding my big move. They left me speechless with gratitude.

Click here to visit other members of this hugely amazing challenge.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K Is For Knock Off...For the Moment

I know I was supposed to have a strong woman post up today, but my friends, I have to knock-off the A to Z until Tuesday. I am moving on Saturday and it is crunch time which means that I can't visit blogs and reply to any comments like I want. This time would have been so much easier had I at least been able to schedule posts, but my Schedule Post has not been functioning since before the change to the new Blogger interface and Blogger has no helpful answers, so I must leave you for now.

Forgive my absence, I really will miss visiting every one's blogs and reading all of your amazing comments.  For those of you that left such wonderful comments yesterday, I will respond as soon as I can. I appreciate all of you very, very much. Your thoughts brighten my day and kept me going as things started to get crazed around here.

To Alex, Arlee, Damyanti, Jeremy, Jenny, Stephen, Tina, Matthew, Konstanz, Elizabeth, Karen, Shannon and DL, thank you for doing such a magnificent job hosting. You are the best!

I will be back next week with more awesome ladies, including my missing letters K,L, M, and N. I am determined to finish on time this year, even if it means blogging on Sundays. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

J Is For Dr. Mae Jemison

This lady is a rock star to me. Dr. Mae Jemison, physician and astronaut, was the first African American woman in space when she served on the crew of the shuttle Endeavor back in 1992. I remember sitting around my dorm with a few of my friends and watching the launch. It was amazing.

Brilliant does not even begin to describe Mae. She graduated high school at sixteen and attended Stanford University on a scholarship. She received a B.S. in chemical engineering and also earned enough for an A.B. in African and Afro-American Studies. After graduating medical school from Cornell in 1981, Mae joined the Peace Corps and from 1983 to 1985, she was the area medical officer for the West African nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia. She once stayed awake with a patient for 56 hours straight as the poor patient suffered with meningitis and had to be flown to Germany for treatment.

In 1987, she joined NASA. She was in the first class of astronauts selected after the Challenger disaster.  Her five year stint culminated with her journey on board the Endeavor, where she served as Mission Specialist. Jemison later said of her experience, "The first thing I saw from space was Chicago, my hometown. I was working on the middeck where there aren't many windows, and as we passed over Chicago, the commander called me up to the flight deck. It was such a significant moment because since I was a little girl I had always assumed I would go into space." And guess what? She drew some of her inspiration from Lt. Uhura. Rock on Nichelle Nichols!

After NASA, Jemison has gone on to do even more extraordinary things.  In 1993 she founded The Jemison group, which researched, markets and develops technology for every day life. She also founded the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence named in honor of her mother. This organization runs The Earth We Share (TEWS) a four week residential science camp for kids which focuses on scientific answers for global problems. She is currently a professor at Dartmouth and in 2009 participated in First Lady Michelle Obama's forum for promising girls in Washington DC.

Fun Factoid

Mae is the  only real astronaut to make  a guest appearance on Star Trek. She played Lt. Palmer in the episode Second Chances of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I appreciate you stopping by today. Your visits and comments mean the world to me. If you want to visit the other wicked cool participants in the big A to Z, please click here.

I Is For Nilima Ibrahim

Today's post is about a writer and teacher from the tiny nation of Bangladesh, a country once part of Pakistan, but took its name after a brutal liberation war in 1971. Nilima Ibrahim was a teacher and writer, who specialized in Bengali literature.

Nilima was a career academic, an unusual occupation in an area where women all too often do not have a voice. She earned her bachelor's degree from Scottish Church College and her MA in Bengali literature from the University of Calcutta in 1943. She would later go to earn a doctorate from the University of Dhaka in 1959. This was at a time when there were not even a whole lot of Western women earning advanced degrees. She taught at various schools such as Khulna Coronation Girls School and Loreto House, until her appointment as lecturer at the University of Dhaka. In 1972 she became a full professor.

Nilima's writing career took off shortly after her doctoral degree in the late 1950's. She published various works on Bengali literature, essays on the origin and development of the literary traditions, as well as a short biography of Bengal poet Banglar Kavi Madhusudan. She wrote several novels, short stories, plays and even a travelogue. Nilima also translated several works into her native Bengali including biographies of Eleanor Roosevelt and author James Fenimore Cooper.

Her seminal work, though, was a collection of accounts of the rape of Bengali women during the 1971 liberation war called Ami Virangana Bolchhi, or I, the Heroine Speaks, published in 1996. Here, at last, the women brutalized during that time were given a voice, a chance to make their stories known to world after twenty-five years of silence.

Nilima was honored with the Ananya Literary Award in 1996 as well as the Begum Rokeya Medal. In 2000, she was given the Ekushey Padak Award, which is the one of the highest civilian honors in Bangladesh, named for the martyrs of the Language Movement of 1952, a political demonstration that turned violent and resulted in the killings of several students.

Fun Facts

Nilima published her autobiography in 1991 entitled Bindu-Visarga or Dot and Ghost.

She served as the Vice Chair Person of the World Women's Federation South Asian Zone.

Thanks for stopping by today. Your visit is very much appreciated. If you're participating in the Big A to Z, please click here to check out the other amazing participants.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H Is For Dolores Huerta

Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, I was born into a union family. United Steel Workers was part and parcel of my childhood. How could I not choose a female labor leader for my A to Z list. I want to introduce you to Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers and a woman I admire greatly for her tireless work on behalf of the working poor, women and children.

Dolores was born in the mining town of Dawson, New Mexico and after her parents divorced, she moved to Stockton, California. She experienced activism from an early age through both of her parents. Her upbringing and early community work led her to a teaching career, which she left in 1955 because she knew she had a different calling. Huerta helped found the Stockton chapter of the CSO (Community Service Organization) not long after leaving her teaching position and in 1960 co-founded the Agricultural Workers Association. This organization helped set up voter registration and presses for barrio improvements.

Through this work she met Cesar Chavez. In 1962 they founded the National Farm Workers Association, which would later become United Farm Workers when they combined their organization with Larry Itliong's Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee. In 1966 she successfully negotiated a contract between UFW and the Schenley Wine Company, making this the first time that agricultural workers were able to bargain with an agricultural enterprise.

An activist and political leader, Dolores was drawing national attention. She stood with Robert F. Kennedy on that fateful June day in 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel and was mere yards away when he was shot. Her work has also been fraught with struggle. She has been arrested some 22 times for her protests and in September of 1988, she was severely beaten by San Francisco Police at a protest rally against then presidential candidate George Bush the Elder. The beating was caught on tape and Huerta won a large judgment against the SFPD. She used the money to aid farm workers. Following her recovery, she took a leave of absence from the union to concentrate on women's rights and worked to get more Latina women registered to vote.

Dolores has also received many accolades for her tireless work. In 1997 she was named one of the year's three most powerful women by Ms. Magazine. The next year she was the inaugural recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award For Human Rights and Ladies' Home Journal recognized her as one of the Most Powerful Women of the Twentieth Century alongside such leaders as Mother Theresa and Indira Ghandi. In 2007, she was the co-recipient of the Community of Christ International Peace Award and in 2008 was awarded the Jane Addams Distinguished Leadership Award from United Neighborhood Centers of America.

At 81, she still continues to tirelessly campaign on behalf of the working poor and women. She created the Dolores Huerta Foundation in 2002 which helps grassroots organizations in poor communities, helping them develop leadership and policy advocacy strategies.

Dolores just blows me away. I should have a tenth of that drive and ambition at my age.

Fun Factoid

She has five elementary schools named for her. Four in California and one in Texas.

In the midst of all her political activism, Dolores also managed to birth eleven children and marry twice.

Thank you so much for stopping by today. I appreciate your visit. If you're participating in the big A to Z, click here to find more awesome participants.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G Is For Lillian Gish

Okay, so I'm cheating a bit and took yesterday off and am putting up G today. Ah well... Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all my friends out there who celebrate. This is a blessed day for me to be able to count all of you as friends. On with the letter G...

I just love this woman. Lillian Gish is truly one of America' s greatest cinematic treasures, a giant talent who started at the veritable dawn of cinema with her sister Dorothy, in D.W. Griffith's silent short An Unseen Enemy in 1912. However, she'd been acting on the stage since 1902, which means technically, her active acting career lasted an astounding 87 years. Her last film was The Whales of August with the incomparable Bette Davis and one of my favorite actors, the legendary Vincent Price in 1987. I loved that movie and highly recommend it.

She was the consummate actress, suffering for her craft under some extreme conditions like starvation and intense heat. At one point, during the run of the play A Good Little Devil, she collapsed on stage from anemia. Lillian gave her all in every part,and willingly adapted herself to each new era and technology. She transitioned to talkie films in 1930 and began to work in radio as well. In 1948 she made her television debut in The Late Christopher Bean.

At a time when most of her contemporaries had gone quietly into retirement, Lillian continued to reinvent herself and hone her craft. In 1969, she began lecturing on her career in the silent film era, introducing a new generation to the wonder of early film. She became a fierce advocate for the preservation of the silent films through her lectures and hosted a PBS series in 1975 called The Silent Years.

She never received an Academy Award, but was nominated in 1946 for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the western Duel in the Sun. She was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1970 for her "superlative artistry and for distinguished contribution to the progress of motion pictures." The Kennedy Center honored her in 1982 and in 1984 she was awarded the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award. Only the second woman to be so honored after Bette Davis. 

Lillian was a strong woman who definitely forged her own path in life and is someone to be admired for all that she accomplished. 

I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite quotes from her.

"You know, when I first went into the movies Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally he played my husband. If he had lived, I'm sure I would have played his mother." 

"Young man, if God had wanted you to see me that way, he would have put your eyes in your bellybutton." 

Fun Factoid

Lillian's godson is James MacArthur, Danno from the original Hawaii Five-O series. 

She was considered for the roles of both Ellen O'Hara and Belle Watling in Gone With The Wind

Thank you for stopping by during this awesome A to Z Challenge. To keep on visiting more of these truly incredible participants please click here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

F Is For Lita Ford

You know I could not have a blog about strong women and not have a rocker on here. I did a post last challenge about Joan Jett, so this year I'm going to talk about her band mate from The Runaways, Lita Ford.

Carmelita Rosanna Ford was born in Britain and moved to the States at age 4. At age 11, she picked up a guitar and that was it. By 16, Lita was a member of the seminal all girl rock band The Runaways along with Joan, Cherie Currie, and Sandy West, making her mark in the all boys' world of hard rock.

Her first solo album, Out For Blood, failed to chart in the U.S., but she didn't let that discourage her. She continued to tour, playing constantly in every place imaginable. Her second album, Dancin' on the Edge made moderate waves with singles like "Fire In My Heart" and "Gotta Let Go," which was a Number One hit and her biggest single to date. A follow up album, Bride Wore Black was never released because she hated the finished project and left her label Mercury, for RCA.

She didn't hit the charts again until 1988 with her self-titled album, Lita. Self-produced, this third album resulted in Lita's biggest commercial success  with hits like "Kiss Me Deadly," "Back to the Cave," "Falling In and Out of Love," co-written with Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue and the power ballad duet "Close My Eyes Forever" with Ozzy Osbourne. She followed this album up with Stiletto, Dangerous Curves (which featured her final charting single "Shot of Poison" and finally, Black. She basically disappeared for the remainder of the 90's.

In 2008, Lita formed a new band and released Wicked Wonderland in 2009. She continues to rock out wherever she can. Being a woman in a man's world like this meant she had to not only rock harder, but put up with a lot of sexist crap, including videos where some guy covered her guitar work while she was forced to scamper around in a barely there costume "seducing" the guitar and the "male" viewers. I respect her because she pushed through to find her own path, strumming her ax her way.

Here's a clip of Lita jamming with Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath on her pink B.C. Rich. Check out her skills...

Fun Factoid

Micki Steele from The Bangles once played bass guitar in The Runaways along side Lita and Joan.

Hope you are all enjoying the big A to Z. I thank you for stopping by and visiting. To check out my fellow awesome bloggers in this challenge please click here.

E Is For Sylvia Earle

Today I wanted to cover someone who made her mark in one of my fave fields, science. I often wish that I had a head for science, but the truth is I just never did well in the subject, though I loved it. I do think science is one area where we need to stir the interest of young girls. We do need more scientists of the female persuasion in my opinion.

So without further ado... My E is for Sylvia Earle, oceanographer and hero of mine. She lead the first team of all women aquanauts in 1970 during the Tektite II project,  a deep sea habitat program in which divers lived under the ocean for 10 to 20 days at a time and studied the effects on the human body as well the psychological effects of working in a closed environment.

In 1979, Sylvia made a JIM suit dive to the ocean floor near, Oahu, Hawaii, setting a woman's depth record at 381 meters (1250 ft.). She also owns the record for a woman's solo dive in a submersible at 1000 meters (3300 ft.).

She founded Deep Ocean Engineering with her husband, engineer and submersible designer, Graham Hawkes in 1985. The company designed and built the Deep Rover research submarine in 1987, which operates down to a depth of 3300 feet. She left the company in 1990 to accept an appointment as chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Seven years later she started DOER, Deep Ocean Exploration and  Research, a company that designs, builds and operates equipment for deep ocean environments. A company that is now run by her daughter, Elizabeth.In 1998 she named Time Magazine's first "hero for the planet."

She has lead more than 60 deep sea expeditions and served as the leader for the Sustainable Seas Expedition from 1998 to 2002, a five year program to study the United States National Marine Sanctuary. In 2009 she was awarded a TED grant and founded Mission Blue, a program that aims to create marine protected areas around the globe. So far they have established these so-called "hope spots" in Cuba, Belize, the Galapagos Islands and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef off of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Fun Factoid

Sylvia is a Knight of the Netherlands' Order of the Golden Ark

Thank you for stopping by today and visiting me during this awesome A to Z Challenge. To visit the other amazing participants, click here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

D Is For Christine De Pizan And Defiance

The A to Z is going strong and I hope you are all enjoying the many awesome bloggers out there. I know I am. So many cool themes and wonderful people. Today is also the first Wednesday in April and the Insecure Writers Support Group. So I am combining my strong women theme with IWSG.

My strong woman for today is a poet and writer from the Renaissance, Christine De Pizan. Married at 15 and widowed at 25, Christine faced a harsh life with two children, a mother and a niece to support and no income. This normally meant that one had to troll for another husband or start making a living as a prostitute. Not so with Christine. Her father, Thomas, had served Charles V as court astrologer, physician and alchemist. Because of this, she had the opportunity to pursue intellectual interests. And pursue she did, learning languages, art and writing.

She decided to take a chance and wrote some love poems. Her work caught the attention of a few very wealthy patrons and Christine was on her way. Between 1393 and 1412 she composed some three hundred ballads and shorter poems. But writing love poetry was not enough. In 1401-2, she wrote a treatise regarding the misogynistic treatment of women in one of the most popular literary works of the day, Jean du Meun's Romance of the Rose. This rebuke of du Meun cemented her as a leading intellectual and she continued to challenge the portrayal of women in literature. She went on to write The Book of the City of Ladies, which shows the importance of the contributions of women in society and The Book of the Three Virtues which teaches women how to counteract the misogyny they find.

In honor of Christine, my D word for the IWSG is DEFY. As writers we often are told to study markets, see what's popular. Publishers have guidelines for us to follow to make sure our book will fit. This is all well and good, but never lose your voice or be afraid to ignore the conventions out there. Write the book you want and don't let anyone tell you differently. DEFY current thinking, forge ahead. Your audience is out there.

For more of the awesome participants in A to Z, please click here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

C Is For Edith Cavell

* A Note: I am in the midst of getting ready to move, so if I don't get to respond to the comments on here right away, I am very sorry. Please forgive the late responses.

Nurses are the most awesome people and one of the best, most courageous in my book is Edith Cavell. She stood firmly in her belief in helping others and never wavered. The daughter of an Anglican minister, she was always helping those less fortunate. Her call to nursing came later in life, a second career you might say. She entered the profession in 1905 at the age of forty and she took off from there. By 1907 she was the head of a newly established nursing school L'École Belge d’Infirmières Diplômées in Brussels. In 1910, she launched the nursing journal, L'infirmière. Just one year later, Edith was the training nurse for three hospitals, twenty-four schools and thirteen kindergartens.

World War I broke out in 1914, while Edith was home in England. She immediately headed back to Belgium. Here is where her courage and her unwavering belief in helping others rose to the fore and carried her into history. During the German occupation of Belgium, Edith gained a reputation for helping soldiers of both sides. It was during this time that she began helping Belgian soldiers trapped behind German lines to escape into The Netherlands, a neutral country at the time. She had been recruited by British SIS, but turned from her espionage activities in order to help soldiers escape. She helped some 200 soldiers before coming under suspicion by the German High Command. On August 3, 1915, she was arrested and sent to St. Gilles prison. She was held there for 10 weeks as she was court-martialled under German military law. A death sentence was handed down and in spite of massive protests, on October12, 1915 at 6:00AM, the sentence was carried out. Edith was executed by firing squad along with one of the men who helped her with the soldiers, Philippe Bauq, a Belgian architect.

Edith went to her death bravely, saying to Reverend Stirling Gahan, "Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone." The international furor over her death was enormous and she was used in many propaganda campaigns during the rest of the war. Many memorials were established in her honor, but one of the coolest comes from Canada. Mount Edith Cavell stands near Athabasca Pass in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. They named a mountain after her, how impressive is that?

Fun Female Factoid

One of the world's first novels, The Tale Genji, was written by a Japanese noblewoman, Murasaki Shikibu in 1000 AD.

Thanks for stopping by during this awesome challenge. Please visit the other awesome participants by clicking here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

B Is For Pancho Barnes

We all know Amelia Earhart, queen of the skies, but one of the most badass women of the air was Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes. She came from aviation royalty, her grandfather was Thaddeus Lowe, who established the Union Army Balloon Corps during the American Civil War. Brash and confident, Barnes soloed her first plane after just six hours in the air. After that, it was on. Pancho ran a barnstorming show and competed in air races. She won the 1930 Women's Air Derby and broke the air speed record set by Earhart.

Pancho was wild and crazy, loved to smoke, drink and had her own way of looking at the world. In 1931 she moved to Hollywood where she worked as a stunt pilot on such films as Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels. She  formed the Associated Motion Picture Pilots, a union of stunt pilots who promoted flying safety and a standardized pay scale for aerial work.

In 1935 she left Hollywood and moved out to 180 acres in the Mojave desert. Here she established the first test pilots union and created the Happy Bottom Riding Club, a dude ranch/hang out for pilots. Her close friends and members of the club included some of the giants of aviation history like General Jimmy Doolittle, Chuck Yeager and Buzz Aldrin. Because her land was in such close proximity to Edwards Air Force Base, Pancho was also known as the "Mother of Edwards AFB."

What a fascinating woman, huh?

Fun Factoid

Edith Wharton was the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize. She was awarded in 1921 for her work, The Age of Innocence.

Thanks for stopping by today. To visit the other amazing blogs in the A to Z, click here.