More summer shots!

Beatriz Guerra Picamill
hi paula! this summer i went to the USA, i stayed there for a month, in
july, and i lived with a host family in a small village near michigan called
buchannan, it was my first time that i went to the USA and the experience
was great!i love the american people!
well, one of the photos is about the night in chicago after a bussy day of
shopping, chicago is only two houres far michigan so, we often visited
chicago. when i visited chicago i felt like if i were in a dream, in a
fantasy world! chicago has a lot of skycrapers and is very curious to see
that around chicago there is a sea or a lake, chicago has a port! it´s
pretty beautiful!

this photo show as the chicago´s hard rock cafe! this is a gorgeous place,
when i came in i got impressive coz i have never been in a hard rock cafe
before! it´s so cute!

Blanca Baltasar Mezquita
This summer was not my best summer because in  june I don’t pass three subject and I’m
staying in ac.preuniversitaria all the summer.

One of the weekends of July my cousin,
my uncles, my parents and me with some friends go sailing.

We left home very early as the ship stay
in ‘’El Puerto de SantaMaria’ and we
had travel by car.

On the ship we went to ‘’Bahia de
Cadiz’’ and we stayed there all the day.I got brown the rest of the dayand and
I swim a lot at the sea, the water temperature was fine.

Monday in morning I had to
return to ac. Preuniversitaria.

Hi, Paula!

I'm Carlota Guerrero Soro and I'm a new student of your classroom 2º D. I write to
tell you my holidays in Venice.

Venice is a beautiful place, where it points out the San Marco's Square. There, you
can admire the Cathedral and the Palace Ducale. In this square you can have the most
expensive coffee in the world, because it costs 15euros. I got in a góndola through
the bridges.

In Venice the carnival is typical, that's why all shops are full of colourfull masks
and old costumes.

Also, we visited Muano's island where a special glass is made.

In the photo I show you my sister and me with the Venecian masks.

I wouldn't hesitate to visit Venice again in the future.

Congratulations to these brave girls!
The exercise on this post consists on
telling me 15 different grammar mistakes.

Good Luck!

Margaret Fish

Margaret Fish is a British supercentenarian who is the UK's second-oldest living person since the death of Annie Turnbull on 3 September 2010.
Born Margaret Willetts on 7 March 1899 in London, Fish currently resides in Wilstead. Bedfordshire, UK. Fish married Frank Fish, a veteran of World War I, in 1928. Frank Fish died in 1987 at age 89 of a heart and lung condition, after 59 years of marriage. Fish was a former dressmaker, and lived by herself until age 104. She moved in with her septuagenarian daughter for two years, and eventually went to a nursing home in Wilstead.
Fish is reported to enjoy television and a good meal. When asked her secret to long life, Fish replied, "(Don't) worry about it, (there is no secret)".
Validated by Andrew Holmes, a UK GRG correspondent, Fish is currently the 36th oldest British on record.
In early 2010, Melissa Page, another UK GRG correspondent, mistakenly reported that Fish had died on 31 January 2010. The "death" made its way into the GRG's Table E of validated living supercentenarians, and eventually bled into Wikipedia, where Fish's son-in-law found out about it, and informed immediately that Fish was still alive. At this point, the mistaken reporting of her death had caused a certain amount of distress to Fish's family.
It eventually transpired that the mistaken death report had come from the way the supercentenarian deaths were reported in the UK; the mistaken information was relayed to a GRG correspondent, who, not suspecting anything at the moment, passed it on to the GRG. The matter was therefore a simple error that led to something much bigger, due to the GRG's connection with supercentenarians.
24 March 2011 - Margaret Fish died on 12 March 2011 at age 112 years, 5 days. The oldest living British is now Violet Wood of England, born 2 September 1899.

Ella Schuler

Ella Schuler is an American supercentenarian, born on 5 September 1897, and who celebrated her 113th birthday earlier this month. Her birthday was not confirmed with any official reports, but rather through her Facebook profile.
She was born Ella Winkelmann in Nebraska, US, and was the fourth daughter of German parents. Her family, who raised her on a farm, sent her brothers to school but kept her home. She says, "If you don't want to work hard, don't go to a farm".
Marrying on 23 August 1923, at age 25, Schuler had three sons, all born in Kansas, US. She and her husband set up Schuler’s Grocery Business in Topeka, and eventually gathered enough money to get a gas station near their shop.
Schuler earned her high school diploma in her 50s, and had her eldest son die in 1952 at 26 from complications of appendicitis. The pair closed their store in 1978 to retire; Schuler's husband, however, died in early 1983, after nearly 60 years of marriage. She lived on her own until 98, when she sustained a fall in 1995 and subsequently moved to an assisted living care facility.
She is apparently still able to walk with assistance in the form of a wheeled walking frame. She still continues to read two or three hours a day, with a particular interest in scientific magazines.
Schuler is the world's second-oldest validated person on popular social networking site Facebook, behind Mississippi Winn, born 31 March 1897. Her profile can be found here.
Schuler is one of the 170 oldest people ever, the 87th oldest American on record, the oldest living person from Kansas, the sixth oldest living American, and the 12th oldest living person.
Update: Ms. Schuler passed away on 7 May 2011, aged 113 years, 244 days.

A Steward of Land and of History: Henry Stratford Persse (1837-1918)

Three hundred million years ago the Rocky Mountains began to push their way up through the earth and created the spectacular red sandstone formations that exist along the front-range today.  At the end of the Nineteenth Century Henry Stratford Persse, originally from the Mohawk River Valley in New York, bought several hundred acres on land that was then known as Washington Park, fifteen miles from Littleton, Colorado.  He re-named the park, which is noted for the rolling foothills and dramatic red rock formations that mark the landscape, Roxborough Park after his family’s ancestral estate in the west of Ireland.

Henry Stratford Persse, who shared his name with his Irish grandfather, had made a name for himself in politics in upstate New York.  In his first political campaign he ran for Town Clerk in the heavily Republican Amsterdam, New York, as an anti-war Democrat.   Persse was declared the upset winner of the hotly contested election and the Republicans called for a recount of the vote.  It turned out that Persse had actually lost by eight votes.  When Persse conceded victory his opponent said “if a Republican can’t win an election in a Republican county by more than eight votes, he shouldn’t take the job”, and Persse became the Town Clerk.  In his political career Persse went onto associate with some of the great names in New York politics in that era, including Horace Greeley, Samuel Tilden and Gordon Emmett.

Persse eventually followed Horace Greeley’s famous words of advice and headed west.  He made the round-trip between New York to Denver at least twenty-six times, before finally settling with his wife and two daughters in Colorado in 1892.  Shortly after making Colorado his home he was elected Justice of the Peace of Douglass County, but he never tried a single case.

Henry Stratford Persse was a family historian and immensely proud of his heritage.  His home in Denver was full of heirlooms and old family portraits, and he owned a large collection of ancient family records.  He was descended from the Moyode Castle and Roxborough Persses who had come to Ireland in the 1500s.  The family traced their lineage back to the Percys of Northumberland, England, who had participated in every historic battle in England back to the time of William the Conqueror.  Perhaps the most famous Percy was Hotspur, the Henry Percy immortalized in Shakepeare’s Henry IV, Part 1.

Persse claimed that the family changed the spelling of their name from Percy to Persse to commemorate the service of the French in the Irish Rebellion of 1798.  The Irish (and Australian) branches of the family continued to pronounce the name “purSEE”, but the American branches would pronounce it “PURSE”.  Persse was also a cousin of James Smithson, son of the Earl of Northumberland, for whom the Smithsonian institute in Washington, D.C. was named.

In 1889 Persse acquired the land south of Denver known as Washington Park, named for a distinctive formation that resembled the first American president.  In 1902, after renaming the park for his family’s ancestral Irish estate, Persse and two partners established the Roxborough Land Company to develop the property into a premiere tourist destination.  One vision for development included “a first class 200 room hotel, golf links, a club house, a well stocked lake and comfortable cottages.”  Visitors would be able to travel to the park from Englewood aboard an electric train.

Although this grand vision was never realized, the simpler amenities that Persse did construct attracted members of Denver’s high society, who could take the South Park & Pacific Railroad from downtown Denver to Kassler, very close to Roxborough.  Many visitors were relieved that the full-scale development never took place.  One guest commented “A Park made by Nature’s hand alone – The Arts of Man could only mar it.”  Another wrote that the park “should be owned by the city for the free use of the people.”

Henry Stratford Persse died in August of 1918 when a tramway car struck him as he crossed the intersection of Milwaukee and Twelfth Avenue in Denver.  Almost sixty years later the Colorado State Division of Parks bought five hundred acres of the Persse family property, forming Roxborough State Park.  Since then the park has expanded to over 3,319 acres and has been designated a National Natural Landmark, a National Cultural Landmark and contains an Archaeological District.  The Persse family home still stands on the park grounds.

Adam Lowe Martin (son of ) – Allen Lowe Martin – Margaret Persse (daughter of) - Edwin Theophilus Persse – Dudley Persse – Theophilus Persse (father of) – Henry Stratford Persse

El verano en Irlanda de Cristobal

CRISTOBAL´S SUMER TIME  This sumer I was in Ireland,
I was living in a village call Miltow Malbay in Spanish Point
( West coast of Ireland ), It has this name because in 1588
Spanish Armada drowned in this coast. There all are green,
the weather was like I like ( clowdy and rainy ). I was
walking an visitting places all days. I saw many abadies,
graveyeards,turf and cliff. It´s a very clean country, I hope
that you can go there in a no very far future.

Ooopps! Sorry! I´m afraid there are some mistakes in the previous text by Cristobal,
I don´t know how that happened. Could you help by rewriting the text and
correcting the mistakes?


welcome to my newest foray into blogging. I will still try to keep up with my other blog, randomneuralfirings2, but i thought that a new blog would be appropriate for a new phase in my life.

Im sitting in Hotel Galion waiting to go to eat lunch before leaving for my training site in Gbatopi. I should be packing, but Im a guy so whatever, it can wait. I wanted to get this created while I still have decent (for Togo) internet. I hope to use this to post pictures and stuff, as well as share stuff that may not be conducive to a mass email.

One thing that surprised me a lot about Lome, besides the beautiful (and dangerous) beach and all the motorcycles, is that all the streets are sand. granted, there was a large amount of sand in like Cairo streets too, especially in the residential districts, but here there is just sand. no pavement.

I like togolese a lot. at least the one's I've met so far. they seem pretty down to earth and friendly.


Witness to the Revolution: Ashley Bowen (1728-1813)

Ship "Argo" of Marblehead Bound Home, by Ashley Bowen (1783)
Ashley Bowen, an Eighteenth Century resident of the coastal town of Marblehead, Massachusetts, was the first American maritime diarist.  His writings provide contemporary, first-hand insight into New England life in the period leading up to, during, and following the American Revolution.  His political, religious and personal writings are heart-felt and complex.  He was sympathetic to the overwhelming revolutionary fervor of the citizens of Marblehead and their grievances against the British Crown, but he was also loyal to the Anglican Church that housed his religious faith.  His journals give graphic accounts of his personal adventures, successes and failures, and his emotional inner life.

Bowen was the son of ambitious justice of the peace and almanac writer Nathan Bowen.  When the younger Bowen was twelve years old, his beloved mother died during child-birth, an event he would later describe “as the greatest part of my ruining”.  Less than a year later he was bound into an apprenticeship with a cruel ship captain who gave the boy regular beatings, treated him as a personal servant, and taught him little or nothing about running a ship.   A friend of the Bowen family who witnessed this cruelty arranged for Ashley to be released from his servitude before the term of apprenticeship was completed .

Ashley Bowen was a sailor from before he was a teen until he was in his late thirties.  He had a wide variety of duties and occupations both while at sea and while ashore.  He visited all of the major ports of the Atlantic and the Caribbean, and wrote detailed narratives about his journeys.

In 1754, the ship that he was serving on, The Swallow, was captured by pirates and he was held prisoner on the island of Hispañola.  Bowen and his fellow prisoners were treated well by their captors, but the tropical climate took its toll.  When Bowen fell ill, he was allowed out of the prison to regain his health.  Soon after being released on this sick-leave, he found a house cat.  The cat’s owner was a wealthy island merchant, and when he discovered that Bowen had the lost cat in his care, he invited the sailor to his home for a meal and eventually arranged for his passage back to New England.

After over a quarter century as a sailor, Ashley Bowen never fulfilled his ambition of becoming a ship's captain.  As he reached middle-age he left the seafaring life and became a sail maker, a somewhat lucrative but unstable career.  He was widowed twice, married a third time, and fathered fourteen children.

Ashley Bowen lived during perhaps the most tumultuous times in American history.  He enlisted in the expedition against Quebec in 1759 and witnessed the Battle on the Plains of Abraham, and saw the French surrender Quebec to the British a few days later.  He saw epidemics sweep through Boston and Marblehead, taking the lives of many of his family and neighbors.  From 1766 until the outbreak of the American Revolution, Bowen wrote almost a daily account of his activities and life in Marblehead.

According to Bowen, the Revolution was an ill-conceived idea.  He had served in the British Army a decade and a half before, and he believed it to be an undefeatable force.  He had a strong allegiance to the Anglican Church, of which King George III was head.   Marblehead, however, had a stronger anti-British sentiment than any other community in the Colonies.  When Bowen believed that the Anglican structure in Marblehead, St. Michael’s, was threatened, he copied The Book of Common Prayer by hand, word-for-word, so that the text would survive the wrath of the angry mob.  In August of 1776 he wrote the following poem:

On Religion and Revolution
As for opinions, I confess
I never upon them laid stress
Sometimes a Whig, sometimes a Tory
But seldom steadfast in one story.
                The reason is, I’m not yet fixed
So my religion is but mixed.
Yet, most of all, I do incline
The Old Episcopalian Line:
Yet not so fixed on this head,
But I can turn my coat for bread,
Yet don’t mistake my meaning, as
If from the truth I meant to pass;
The essential parts of my opinion
Is not in any sect’s dominion
Nor will I e’er be tied to think
That in one spring I ought to drink.
In Christendom we all affect:
The Christian name in some respect:
Yet to our shame and our derision
Were full of schisms and divisions
Some are Papists, some are Prelates
Some are Quakers and some Zealots.
Some Anabaptists, some Aquarians,
Some Antinomians, some Arians;
Some are Free Willers, some Ranters:
Some Presbyterian covenanters;
Some Erskinites to gain probation:
Some Glasites, some for presentation
Though these all aim at Heaven at last
There diff’rence puts me in a gast;
To follow which I cannot tell;
Therefore I bid them all farewell;
Because I knew, that faith and love
The sphere is wherein I should move.
For sure without true Charity
None can enjoy Felicity
But Charity, now at this day
She is obliged to fly away.
Instead of which envy and hate
Contempt, resentment, and debate,
Is most in each society,
This makes me all these sects deny
Tis not in word as I do read
But Christians, must be so in-deed;
So Madam, this is all my creed.

In addition to being a diarist, Ashley Bowen was also a watercolor artist. Several of his maritime paintings are currently displayed in New England museums.  Through his prose, poetry and painting, Ashley Bowen has provided modern historians with one insightful witness’s account of the historic events and everyday life that occurred during the period of the American Revolution.

Adam Lowe Martin (son of ) – Allen Lowe Martin – Allen Littlefield Martin – Frank Martin – Elbridge Gerry Martin, Jr. – Elbridge Gerry Martin, Sr. – Ambrose Bowen Martin – Elizabeth Bowen (daughter of ) – Nathan Bowen (father of) – Ashley Bowen

A Life in the Arts, A Death at Sea: Sir Hugh Lane (1875-1915)

Sir Hugh Lane was a true connoisseur of fine art, and his gift for recognizing artistic genius had brought him the admiration of the art world, as well as a vast fortune.  In the spring of 1915, Sir Hugh travelled to New York in hopes of finding support for a project that he believed would be the crowning achievement of the Irish Revival of art and culture.

In the twenty-plus years since he had begun his career as a trainee painting restorer for a London art dealer, Lane had established himself as a “gentleman art-dealer”.  He had become an expert on Impressionist paintings, and had been appointed a director of the National Gallery in London.

Lane’s career was based in London, but his heart was in Dublin.  He spent most of his time and fortune supporting fine art in the Irish capital by raising funds and donating works from his own private collection.  He called upon his influential circle of friends and relations – including his aunt Lady Gregory (founder of The Abbey Theatre), poet William Butler Yeats, Douglas Hyde (founder of the Gaelic League), political activist and playwright Edward Martyn, and Lane’s fiancée, the portraitist Sarah Cecilia Harrison – to aid him in this work.

Lane’s largest contribution to Irish arts came in 1908, when he donated over 300 paintings to the City of Dublin.  The collection, which was originally displayed in Clonmell House, on Harcourt Street, was described by the Paris newspaper Le Figaro as “an entire museum rich in beautiful works, a museum envied by the most prosperous states and the proudest cities.”  Lane was honored as a Freeman of the City, and knighted the following year.

This gift had been made on the condition that Dublin build a permanent museum of modern art that was worthy of holding the collection.  The plans for this new building ran into difficulties from the onset.  Lane had asked Sir Edwin Lutyens, whom many critics considered the greatest of all British architects, to design the museum.  The Dublin architectural community was outraged at the idea that such a prestigious building would be designed by a foreigner, and blocked the project at every turn.  An exasperated Lane would later write, “I hate the place, the people, and the Gallery.”

By 1915, little if any progress had been made on the new museum.  Lane hoped that a trip to New York would provide the opportunity to renew interest in the project.  The Americans did not support the project in the way that Lane wished, but he was able to sell two of his most important paintings – Man in the Red Cap by Titian and Hans Holbein’s Portrait of Thomas Cromwell - to the American art collector Henry Clay Frick.

Lane booked his return to Britain on the cruise liner RMS LusitaniaThe Lusitania and her sister-ship The Mauretania were the most luxurious ships of the era, and perhaps in history.  In addition to the ships’ opulence, they were the fastest on the seas, regularly setting ocean crossing speed records.

Britain and Germany were at war in Europe.  On April 22, 1915, the German embassy in Washington, D.C., had issued the following warning:

TRAVELLERS intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travelers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk.
Washington, D.C. 22nd April 1915

Despite the fact that it was a time of war, and that the German warnings had been made public, few of the crew or passengers aboard The Lusitania feared for the safety of the ship.

On the eastward bound voyage Sir Hugh made a £10,000 contribution to the Red Cross war relief effort.  It would be the last of the 39-year-old’s many charitable acts.  In the early afternoon of the 7th of May, the German submarine U-20 fired a torpedo that hit The Lusitania starboard side right before the bridge.  There was a huge explosion, the ship stopped immediately, and keeled over to the starboard.  The Lusitania sank in eighteen minutes, taking 1,198 lives with her, hundreds of who were children. 

Sir Hugh Lane’s body was listed among the nearly a thousand which were never recovered.   Also lost on that day were the paintings by Monet, Rembrandt, Reubens and Titian that Lane had taken aboard with him. In 1994, diver Polly Tapson claimed to have located the container where these paintings were stored.  The paintings were being transported in lead tubes, and may have survived.  The Irish Arts Ministry has placed a Heritage Protection order on the wreckage, thus preventing recovery of these works of art.

Today the museum known as The Hugh Lane, in Dublin’s city center, houses one of Ireland’s foremost collections of modern and contemporary art.  It contains works ranging from the impressionist masterpieces of Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas to works by leading contemporary artists. The Hugh Lane plays a pivotal role in Ireland’s cultural life and has gained worldwide acclaim, both for itself and the city.

Adam Lowe Martin (son of) – Allen Lowe Martin – Margaret Persse (daughter of) – Edwin Theophilus Persse (son of) – Dudley Persse – Theophilus Persse – Henry Stratford Persse – William Persse (father of) – Robert Persse – Dudley Persse – Adelaide Persse (mother of) – Sir Hugh Lane 

Ruth Anderson, Bernice Madigan, and Elsie Ward

Ruth Anderson, at left, Bernice Madigan, at right, and Elsie Ward, who is without a photo, are currently the only living set of three supercentenarians with the same birthdate. All were born on 24 July 1899. Anderson and Madigan are both from the US, from Minnesota and Massachusetts respectively. Ward is from Nottingham, England.
Anderson is the world's oldest singleton twin, with her twin brother, Abel (1899-1900), who died at 1 year of age. Anderson has lived at the Avera Marshall Morningside Heights Care Center in Marshall, Minnesota since 2005, and still reads the newspapers and the Bible in both English and Swedish. She was reported to once read to her family in Swedish, and translate it almost at once into English. Despite having hearing difficulties, she still looks forward to every day. Born as Ruth Peterson on the Balaton farm in 1899, she learned English when she went to school. After secretarial school in Mankato, she was an office worker in Minneapolis for six years before returning home when her father became ill. At age 60, she married her (widowed) brother-in-law, in a marriage that lasted until his death at 90. A report mentioning her notes that the average life expectancy in the US is 78 years, with one in 6,000 living to be more than 100 years old and one in 7,000,000 living to be 110.
Bernice Madigan, who was sent to hospital in 2008 and recovered relatively quickly despite being sent home with hospice care, still keeps her mind active with puzzles and word games and continues to play the piano.
Madigan, who was generally healthy throughout life, never had children. On 1 July 2010, a video was made of Madigan as a pre-111th-birthday video. She managed to appear that time despite having recently fallen ill.
Elsie Ward, being a British, is still largely anonymous. She is, however, known to be the third-oldest living British following the 3 September 2010 death of Annie Turnbull, as well as the 51st oldest British on record.
All three women are currently the 43rd oldest living people, following the recent removal of several dead Japanese from higher up on the list (considering that September is the month where the bulk of Japanese supercentenarian updates come from).

29 September 2010: Elsie Ward has died. Her death on 21 September 2010 means she finishes her life at 111 years, 59 days old.

Geert Boomgaard

Geert Adriaans Boomgaard, the first validated supercentenarian ever recorded, was a Dutchman born on 21 September 1788 and who died on 3 February 1899 at age 110 years, 135 days. There would not be another supercentenarian after his death again until 1902, with Margaret Ann Neve (b. 1792), who died the next year at age 110 years, 321 days. There is also the (questionable) case of Thomas Peters (1745? - 1857), 111 years 354 days, also from the Netherlands. Boomgaard's case is the earliest completely undisputed case of a human being reaching age 110. He was born in Groningen, in the Netherlands, and also died there.
His father captained a boat, and reports also stated that Boomgaard did the same. He married twice, first on 4 March 1818 to Stijntje Bus and again after to Grietje Abels Jonker after her death on 17 March 1831.

Shige Hirooka

Shige Hirooka is a supercentenarian from Osaka, Japan. Due to concerns about whether or not she was alive, she was relegated to limbo status in August 2010.
Born on 16 January 1897, Hirooka was last known to be alive on 1 September 2009, at age 112 years, 228 days. Yet, no photos or reports of her were ever released.
Following discussion after a report by the Japanese authorities in August, Hirooka was relegated to limbo status on GRG's Table E. Hirooka, known to be the oldest living person in Osaka prefecture, was apparently indirectly implied in the report as being deceased, as the report listed a 106-year-old woman as Osaka's oldest person.
A loophole in the report lent weight to the possibility that Hirooka may still be alive. The report had failed to specify if the woman was Osaka City's or Osaka Prefecture's oldest resident (Hirooka was known to be the oldest person in the Osaka Prefecture prior to this.) Given that there was not even one 113th birthday report of her in January 2010, the question of whether or not she indeed is still alive remains to be answered.
Update (15 September 2010): Concidentially, around the time of the writing of this post, a report was released mentioning Shige Hirooka; the report has confirmed that the oldest in Osaka Prefecture is an anonymous woman, born 1897-01-16, who is almost certainly Shige Hirooka. As of today, she has been restored to GRG's Table E as a Living Supercentenarian.
Update: Ms. Hirooka passed away on 29 March 2011, aged 114 years, 72 days, as the world's sixth-oldest living person.

Tome Takaoka and Hina Shikawatari

Tome Takaoka, at left, and Hina Shikawatari, at right, both of Japan, were born on 1 January 1899. This photo of Takaoka was taken when she was 108 years old.
Takaoka currently lives in Ibaraki Prefecture, Kantō. Shikawatari lives in Ishikawa, Chūbu. Both women are tied as the 30th oldest validated living persons since the death of Annie Turnbull of UK on 2 September 2010.
They are currently the oldest validated living persons to have been born in the year 1899, the 11th oldest validated living Japanese citizens, and tied as the 72nd oldest living Japanese people on record.
12 September 2010: Hina Shikawatari is confirmed alive as of September 2010.
17 September 2010: Tome Takaoka is still alive as of September 2010.

Update (14 April 2012) - It has been reported that Tome Takaoka passed away on 12 April 2012, aged 113 years and 102 days. Confirmation of her death can be found here.

 Update (17 April 2012) - Hina Shikawatari died sometime between 15 February and 14 March 2012, at the age of at least 113 years, 45 days. Confirmation of her death can be viewed here, in a condolence listing in PDF format.

Florence Knapp

Florence Knapp, born in Pennsylvania, U.S. on 10 October 1873 and who died on 11 January 1988 at age 114 years, 93 days, was the world's oldest person as recognised by the Guinness World Records, holding that title for just 15 days following the death of Anna Eliza Williams, age 114 years 208 days, on 27 December 1987. Williams, incidentally, was the oldest undisputed person to have ever lived, a title she held for only two years before being overtaken by Jeanne Calment in 1989.
Knapp came from a surprisingly long-lived family; eight of her siblings reached age 80 and beyond, and one sister lived to be more than 100 years old. 108 years old, in fact.
Knapp's death left Carrie C. White (18 November 1874? - 14 February 1991, 116 years 88 days?) as the new oldest living person. However, White's claim may be discounted, as there is evidence that she may have been admitted into a mental institution at age 21, rather than 35, making her only 102 at death, not 116. If White's claim is discounted, Jeanne Calment would have been Knapp's successor to the title of oldest living person, at the sprightly age of 112.
Knapp is currently the 61st oldest person on record as well as the 29th oldest American ever, both records tying with Elena Slough of New Jersey, U.S. (1889-2003).

The Greatest Knight That Ever Lived: William Marshal (1146 – May 14, 1219)

Civil war raged throughout England, and the period that would become known as The Anarchy was entering its thirteenth year.  John Marshal, who had once been the staunch ally of King Stephen, had switched allegiance and was now guarding Empress Matilda’s retreat by holding Newbury Castle.  In a ploy to save time, John agreed to surrender the castle to Stephen. He gave the King his five-year-old son William as collateral.  John had never intended to surrender and used the time to fortify the castle.  When Stephen realized that he had been duped, he demanded that John surrender immediately, or watch William be hanged in front of the castle gate.  John replied, “Do your worst. I still have the hammer and the anvil to make more and better sons!”  Stephen could not bring himself to slaughter the young boy.

William was the second of his father’s sons, and as such had no land or title to inherit.  At the age of twelve, he was sent to a wealthy cousin’s estate in Normandy to learn combat skills.  In 1166, at an unsuccessful street skirmish at NeufChatel-en-Bray, he earned his knighthood.  Two years later, in a battle with Guy of Lusignan, William was taken prisoner, and then ransomed by Eleanor of Acquitaine.  Eleanor was impressed with the young knight’s tales of bravery, and she entered her new charge into tournaments.

It was in the tournaments that William found his true calling.  Tournaments in that era were dangerous staged battles that were often fought to the death.  The financial rewards for the victor were substantial.  In his later life William claimed to have won over 500 battles, and to have never lost a contest.  History shows that, although his record was unparalleled, William did occasionally lose, and he did not take losing lightly.

After earning a name for himself on the tournament circuit, William Marshal became a tutor to the son of King Henry II.  The relationship between William and the King’s son was a tumultuous one.  William was  a gifted guide and mentor, but his ambition caused friction between him and his master.  William’s personal motto, “God Aids The Marshall”, was seen by many to be disrespectful to the royal heir. William was at his master’s side when the prince died at Limoges in 1183.  He fulfilled his dead protégé’s crusade vow, going to Jerusalem with the approval of the bereaved King Henry.

When William returned from the Crusades in 1186, the king immediately rewarded him with numerous titles and substantial estates.  His greatest prize, however, would not come until after the king’s death.  Henry’s successor, Richard, gave approval for the 43-year-old William to marry Isabel de Clare, the 17-year-old daughter of Sir Richard Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke.  This marriage made William, who had once been a landless knight from a minor family, into one of the richest and most powerful men in the kingdom.

During the reign of King john, William was one of the few barons to remain loyal to the crown and he was present at the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede on June 15, 1215.  When King John died, William was entrusted to oversee John’s nine-year-old son, Henry III’s, ascension to the throne and the regency.

William’s health eventually failed him, and he died at his estate at Caversham in Oxfordshire at the age of 73.  Shortly after his death, his eldest son commissioned a biography.  This book, entitled L’Histoire de Guillaume le Marechal, solidified William Marshal’s place as one of the most legendary figures in English history.

Adam Lowe Martin (son of)- Allen Lowe Martin-Margaret Persse (daughter of)-Edwin Theophilus Persse (son of)-Dudley Persse-Theophilus Blakeney Persse-Henry Stratford Persse-Col. William Persse-Elizabeth Parsons (daughter of) -William Parsons (son of)—Sir William, 2nd Baronet Parsons- Frances Savage (daughter of)-William Savage (son of)-Sir Arthur Savage-John Savage-Lawrence Savage-Ann Bostock (daughter of)-Elizabeth Dutton-Anne Touchet-James Touchet , 5th Baron Audley (son of)-JohnTuchet, 4th Baron Audley- John Tuchet-Joan Audley (daughter of)-James, 2nd Lord Audley (son of) -Nicholas, 1st Lord Audley-Nicholas of Aldithley-Ela Longespee (daughter of )-William Longespee  (son of)-Ela, Countess of Salisbury (daughter of)-William, 2nd Earl of Salisbury (son of)–Patrick, 1st Earl of Salisbury-Walter of Salisbury (father of )-Sybil of Salisbury (mother of)- William Marshal

Although not an historical documentary by any means, "A Knight's Tale" (2001) did draw on many events in William Marshal's life.

Onie Ponder

Onezima Ponder, better known as Onie Ponder, is a supercentenarian currently residing in Florida, U.S. and who celebrated her 112th birthday two days ago.
Born on 3 September 1898, Ponder remembers the appearance of Halley's Comet 100 years ago, and has also appeared in TIME magazine. A faithful Christian, Ponder was the fifth of eight children born to Louis and Nita Chazal.
Ponder states never having ever thought of age, even as she reached her sixties and seventies.
Ponder, who attended the University of Florida and worked as a bookkeeper in her youth, was widowed fifty years ago. She has travelled twice to Europe and wrote her life story at 80. Since being given the chance to vote, she has never missed a presidential election, apart from when she was giving birth to her son, Carswell Ponder, who is now 74.
She has lost her eyesight to macular degeneration, an age-related eye condition, and was hit by a car in 2004 at 106.
She is currently the oldest person in Florida, the ninth-oldest validated living American, and the 23rd oldest validated living person.
4 January 2011 - Onie Ponder sadly passed away on the last day of 2010, 31 December, at the age of 112 years, 119 days, after a bout of pnuemonia.

Violet Wood

Assuming she is still alive today, Violet Wood, born in England, UK, on 2 September 1899, will celebrate her 111th birthday today.
Wood grew up in Dargate with two sisters on a farm, and married her husband, Henry, in circa 1919, when she was 20. Her husband died at age 92 after 62 years of marriage.
Currently ranking as the oldest out of all of her siblings, Wood outlived her sister, Bertha, who died at the age of 106, and Marjorie, who was in her 90s when she died.
Wood commented that there was lots of fresh air in Graveney School, where she studied as a child and where her father studied as well, and that it probably benefited her.
She drove until she was 80, quipping that she would probably have gone on longer had her car not broken down on her. Her favourite meal was reported to be pickles, toast, cucumber, and chips.
She has commented that "after the (110th birthday) party, things will settle down, or I will fly off to heaven to be with the girls and Harry."
Wood, the oldest living person in Kent, was validated by Melissa Page, a GRG correspondent based in the United Kingdom. She currently ranks as the 52nd oldest living person, fifth-oldest living British, and the 55th oldest British on record.
Update (9 March 2012): Ms. Wood passed away on 29 February 2012, aged 112 years, 180 days.