One-room wooden floating dungeon

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The Rhine River of Europe is approximately 800 miles long and runs through several countries. One of the more fascinating stretches flows through Germany where for centuries robber-barons built castles and charged fees to merchants, etc. using “their section” of the Rhine. In the 14th century, King Ludwig the Bavarian built a fortification on a small island in the middle of the river. Castle portions were added over the centuries and the fortification grew to where it occupied the entire island while featuring attractions such as cannons and heavy chains secured to rock beds that prevented any “unauthorized” waterway use. The Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is now a popular tourist attraction where visitors can explore the structure which includes a one-room wooden floating dungeon (used to influence reluctant fee-payers) located at the bottom of a well.

Simply providing food to people who have been starving has proven to be a low percentage “fix.” Studies strongly indicate that the malnourished frequently have a dangerous lack of needed digestive micro-organisms. Health organizations are making concentrated efforts to affect awareness of the problem and to provide possible remedies.

In 1066 William the Conqueror set off from a sandy beach in France with scores of ships and approximately 8,000 men to invade England. Some 878 years later (June 6, 1944), Allied troops landed at William’s launch site which we now know as Normandy Beach. 

For centuries, artists who used oils for painting had to daily mix whatever colors they intended to use during the next couple of hours as they realized that any oils not used fairly quickly would harden and become unusable.  Matching hues exactly day after day was a sizable task, even if the painter was not afflicted with color-blindness (as are many semi-sane column-writers). In 1841, a little known American portrait painter named John G. Rand revolutionized the paint world. He invented the tin re-sealable paint tube. Not only could artists take months to finish a work and not be required to begin each work session by discarding old paints or mixing new ones, but industrial chemists could invent and store brilliant new colors while consistently reproducing those hues for world-wide distribution.

Records indicate the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who penned the Sherlock Holmes mysteries was an ophthalmologist. I would have guessed Episcopalian. Well, steer clear of that dank Pfalzgrafenstein dungeon and do have a most splendid week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at