THE BRITISH MUSEUM, LONDON, UK
The British Museum's Great Court and Reading Room, one of the top, must see indoor spaces in the world. It's only a small part of the complex. There's the rest of the museum, and its collection probably requires half a lifetime to see fully.
BRATISLAVA CASTLE, SLOVAKIA
(Bratislavský hrad, Pressburger Burg) This
castle hill has been occupied as a fortification since the Bronze Age. It features a Celtic mint from around the late
Iron Age, the foundations of which can be visited in the castle's basement. The site was also the administrative centre of the Principaly of Nitra, and then the Ungarian Kingdom of
its first King Svätopluk I in the 9th century (centuries before there was a Hungary) - this is obscure history, naturally. The present castle construction began in the 13th
century. It served as barracks for Napoléon's army during the French occupation of the Austrian Empire in the early 19th century, and was destroyed by fire in 1811. The site
remained abandoned until after WWII, when restoration of the ruin began in 1953. The castle was occupied by Warsaw Pact troops during the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
The constitution of independent Slovakia was signed in the Knights Hall of the castle on September 3, 1992, formalising the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. A massive reconstruction
project began in 2008 which restored the landmark to its original, 16th-18th century condition in 2010. I had the privilege of visiting the still, mostly ruined castle during its
restoration in 1967 as a boy on a school field trip, and again in 2017 as an adult to see the castle in its presently restored condition. It's a must see.
History. I thrive digging into it to understand why things are the way they are. I always have. It's a product of my environment growing up, I suppose. I also have my parents and educators to thank.
I'm a private person and mind my own business. Climbing the social or corporate ladder never interested me and never will. I choose to make my future, success, or failure on my terms. However, I would not say that I'm introverted. I have always enjoyed writing, so I chose to write something meaningful to me. One might say that it was a therapeutic goal.
My dream career as a boy was to become an archaeologist - an Egyptologist like Howard Carter. I devoured all his books and any books on ancient Egypt I could lay my hands on
at the library. I think that's where I caught the history bug - from that, my ancestry and my past experiences as a refugee-immigrant son trying to understand why our family
had to leave our homeland. Like any exile's son - or daughter - I often asked myself
why more times than I care to remember.
My parents worked hard in the west to give their children a future in a new home where freedom made it possible to make something of me and my bother. So, becuase they valued education, they poured a small fortune into their children's private schooling. My parents hoped I'd become a physician. It did not happen. It was not for me. I wanted to dig up the past, not somebody's ulcers. I know my parents were disappointed. In the end, I became neither a physician nor an archaeologist. I went to university and received my first degree in political science, of all things. I intended to seek a diplomatic career, but nothing came of it. And so, I changed tracks and got into Information Technology (IT). I started as a software engineer, eventually becoming a management consultant.
Ultimately, ironically, career-wise, I landed a position as a director with a federally funded not-for-profit organisation in health care. Our corporate mission was to implement the interpoperable Electronic Health Record (iEHR) in Canada. My responsibility was to implement technical architecture as part of our investments in seven jurisdictions: Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. My passion for strategy and achieving results that matter served me well, I'd say. Maybe it was my quirky secret - I derive pleasure in teaching people new skills based on my own experiences. There's nothing more rewarding than seeing someone achieve more extraordinary things than they could on their own. It was a worthy mission and one of which I'm very proud. The mission was also a partnership with territorial and provincial jurisdictions. Together, our efforts are positively impacting the lives of many Canadians and even people worldwide. It helped change the modern health care practice and how medical information is shared, although much more still needs to be done. But these ground breaking efforts are also the end of an era. I doubt a more skilled, wise, passionate group of individuals will be assembled anywhere in one organisation for the betterment of society's quality of life for years, to invent pragmatic solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges. I'll probably be surprised, though. Until then, in my view, the Apollo program was similar in ambition to our own, except on a much grander scale. We were, perhaps the last, for many years to come. It was a privilege to be part of the team for eleven years and to have worked with so many talented individuals. I learned a lot from the experience.
But all good things come to en end. So, I turned my attention full-time to finishing a book project with a friend. I can feel my parent's presence every day, and it's good to know that they are proud nowing how far I have travelled.
Elizabeth Bathory project began around Christmas 2015, innocently enough. It was inspired by a discovered portrait of a sixteenth-century
countess. The history of Carpathia is very complicated, and of course, it includes legends. One of these is of this countess, Elizabeth Bathory, who is said to have murdered hundreds.
Her popular myth is based on a highly enigmatic historical character and a nineteenth-century propaganda article. Practically no archival information about her life survives. Piecing
it back together was the purpose of what was my part-time effort, a short story to prove her innocence of the crimes she supposedly committed. History still hides far too many secrets.
My first two books of my research noted were published in 2019 - the two Chrysalis Books - Chrysalis I and II. A third - Chrysalis III - remained unpublished. Since then,
I completed a much-improved five-volume series my father first wrote but could not publish. It's the benefit of time, research materials accessible, and the fact that I live in a free
country. I finished it for my father, myself, and for my children. My version of his Elizabeth Bathory book has much more historical perspective on the sixteenth-century. The
international intrigue is fascinating and quite shocking, actually.