"Why this website?", you may ask. As I have gotten older, my interest in history has increased greatly. An interest in World War I developed because my grandfather and great uncle fought in it and over the years there were many family discussions about it and that era. Also, when I was young I read the Classic Illustrated version of "All Quiet on the Western Front" and it had a big impact. I traveled to England, noticed many "Great War" memorials, and was amazed by the effect it had outside of the USA, where it seems to have almost been forgotten.

While reading a collection of World War I stories, I came across a short piece by Queen Marie of Romania, "My Experiences in the War Hospitals of Rumania", and was impressed. I was surprised that I never heard of her before. I had been been intrigued by her small and mysterious country since boyhood, with fantasies of brightly dressed peasants, gypsies, castles, the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania, Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, the Black Sea, the Danube, but Marie was the fuel that fed the fire.

I have no Romanian blood coursing through my veins, but still this interest grew into collecting books and postcards, and reading articles in old magazines. My department at work bought a scanner and with it came a magical tool to convert text on paper to text in the computer. I thought, "Since I have used the internet so much and learned from it, perhaps I should put something back into it for others to learn and enjoy!" So it started and my interests spread from Queen Marie to include Carmen Sylva, Princess Ileana, and inescapably, Romania itself. Through email correspondence about the site I have met some wonderful people that share in this interest.

Another hobby is traditional Irish folk music (Irish blood I do have!) which led to my taking up the mandolin, then the English concertina as my main instrument of choice, and to dabble with the tin whistle, bodhran, and bones.

I've always enjoyed illustrations in children's books, especially from the old ones. These little windows into the world of fact and fiction are amongst our earliest memoriesthey can be very powerful! When I was a kid I loved to read Classics Illustrated Comic Books and learned to appreciate great literature at the age of six through images and text easy enough to read for myself. At the end of each issue it would say "Now that you have read the Classics Illustrated Edition, don't miss the added enjoyment of reading the original, obtainable at your school or public library." This was always an enticement to step further and dig deeper. I'd love to see them reissued.

I am originally from the Chicago area, which is a great place. I've learned to appreciate it all the more since I moved away. If you take a look at my photo gallery, you can see the results of an amateur photographer going crazy with his Nikon CoolPix 4500 and Nikon D70 digital cameras. Digital means that anyone can take a hundred pictures and end up with one that's not too bad.