Rare video of post-WWII Berlin shows war-torn city in vivid color http://mashable.com/2015/05/07/post-wwii-berlin-in-vivid-color/?utm_campaign=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial&utm_cid=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial&utm_medium=feed&utm_source=rss
He ignored the pain in his fingers and toes. Even through shoes, his feet were bruised, battered, and aching. He kept his eyes on the long sought and hard won view before him, avoiding the bloody fingers, nails torn and broken, dirt filling every crevice.
He held his knees close to his body, another body part to avoid looking at. He could feel the skin worn, tender bruises, and the chill of the mountain air teasing the gashes left behind by the rough basalt he’d scaled.
Was the view worth it? The wide wilderness of rock and pine before him reaching out and down for kilometers? Was the view of the sun glancing through the last of the late morning clouds to scatter shadows across the mountains enough to justify the body-battering?
Is it the view that made me climb up here, torturing bone and muscle? Or the journey itself, he wondered? Was it the goal or the journey to the goal? Why do mountain climbers climb? Adventure stories from childhood focused on the attempt, the struggle to attain, the courage to keep going, the self-discipline to see it through to the top. Few stories told much of the beauty after the attainment of the peak.
So it isn’t the goal that matters. He pulled his knees closer as he sat on the top of the rock he’d just scaled. It’s the climbing, the testing of the body, mind, and spirit to endure. It was the courage to face the pain as well as the view.
Well, I’ve done it. I’ve scaled the peak.
He stood up and pulled the camera from his pocket. Two quick snaps of the digital camera, flash going off automatically, would preseve the moment.
“John, get down from there.” He turned from the spectacular view. “We’re going to be late for the plane.”
Six feet below him stood his mother, a worn and wiry woman determined to spend her retirement years dragging him from one dream vacation experience to another, spending his inheritance and the pension money she’d saved up for years as a telephone company employee.
He sat down and slid, fell, his way down the rock, tearing a back pocket of his shorts.
“Oh, no. Look at you! We’ll have to clean you up before you get in the car. It’s a rental, you know.” She opened the blue Camry and fetched some wet wipes she always carried “in case of emergencies” in her purse.
“Looks like you had quite an adventure. Was it worth it?”
He didn’t say anything, just bit his lip as she attacked the scrapped knees with the stinging cloth.
It was worth it.
The following is another prompt from my writers group. The prompt was bullies. Please remember that unless otherwise clarified, all these stories are fiction.
I was rasised by bullies.
One sliced you to shreds wth the barbed blade of her tongue.
Another used charisma to convert violence into a forgivable action.
Another used kindness to stab you in the back even when your back was not turned.
Another came out of the hatch evil determined to bring misery to all in his path.
What do you do when you are surrounded by those determied that their way is the hghway, determined to prove they are right no matter how wrong their righteousness.
Stay out of their way.
Sit back and watch the show.
The following was based upon a prompt in my writers group. The prompt was to write out a step-by-step instructions as if you were spelling it out for a complete novice or someone who did not speak your native language. Then take those instructions and tell a story with them. Mine, of course, was on how to create a blog on WordPress.com.
Her fingers trembled on the keys. I can do this, she thought, chewing her lip.
Site name. Name of site.
The pain of the moment struck her chest, pressing the air out with a wheeze. Curling around the pain, each click of the keyboard a Morse code of dread, she typed the name.
The “Get a Blog” blue button pulsed a beat then drifted across the screen. She smeared her left hand across her watering eyes and stabbed the button with the mouse in her right.
“An email is flying across the web to your email inbox. Please check it to verify your site registration.”
The gentle, lighthearted tone helped her breathe a little easier, An unexpected kindness. She switched to the email tab in her web browser and reloaded the page, her new-found patience serving her well.
There is was. Confirmation of the moment.
A couple more clicks and the Settings Screen filled the dark room with brilliant white light.
It asked her to commit. To make this real.
She wasn’t ready. It wasn’t time. Too soon. Too late.
It had to be done.
It was done.
With courage she never knew before, strength she never thought possible, energy that rose from depths impossible to comprehend six months ago, six months in the past when she could wake up, heart filled with the joy at the fresh start of a new day, eager to plunge into new tasks, embrace new ideas, meet old friends and new strangers, hugs, laughter, meals shared, events toasted…six months later every moment is dark, filled with agony. A shared suffering but suffering all the same…
Fingers like sausages stuffed with lead she typed:
“Alexander Smith, educator, husband, father, kind heart. 1948 – 2013”
and clicked Enter.
I’m a Doctor Who fan. I’ve watched all the episodes from number one with Hartley in the very beginning of the Doctor Who run, through to the reboot currently with Matt Smith taking on the role of the Doctor quite well.
Therefore, I’m in a good position to decide which Doctor is my favorite Doctor so far among all of them having not grown up with a particular Doctor like so many. For me, David Tennant is my personal favorite. He brought to the role all the comedy, wit, wisdom, and angst that defines all of the Doctors. He combined all of them and none of them beautifully. His passion for every role he takes on is a work of art, but his Doctor Who portrayal was truly brilliant.
The most difficult to watch and beautifully acted moment for me was during his last scene as the Doctor, saying his famous words that echoed what we were all thinking, “I don’t want to go.” Perfect passing on to the next Doctor.
We all have television shows and movies that we never want to end. While sequels fuel us, rarely are sequels as good as the original, but we want the characters and their stories to go on and on in spite of quality.
Doctor Who continues to get better, a rare thing in television and modern entertainment. This year is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who’s beginning, even though there was a good gap in the series. Fans, truly passionate fans of all types, even those in the movie and television industry, kept the spirit and demand for Doctor Who alive.
There are books, audio books, podcasts, radio shows, comics, all types of Doctor Who productions feeding the fandom of Whovians around the world in multiple languages.
I’m just one of the crowd loving the story of a mad doctor wandering the universe in a time machine shaped like a London police box of old.
From two prompts in a writing workshop. The first is a gift that changed your life and the second was based upon a participant arriving late and saying, “Waking up is hard to do,” a joke on the song “Breaking up is hard to do.”
In my marriage I have only asked for one thing. Sleep.
You may think this is a simple request, one typically found in many busy family lives, up at all hours of the night with the ills of young children, racing around between the commuter routes of workers, hobbyists, and sporting play fields. Late nights spent fighting or loving, working our way through the hills and valleys of a life loved and lived.
Alas, these are not the reasons I seek my gift of sleep. I actually don’t need much sleep. Yet I treasure every moment of shut eye I can get.
My idea of a perfect day is to rise before the sun and go to bed long after the sun sets. I live quite well on 4-6 hours a sleep, often barely getting three, though four or five is better. Gifted with the energy of a bulldozer and the enthusiasm of a hummingbird going after a feeder, I plow my way through life, awake the moment the alarm goes off, usually before, and dreading the time I have to stop for the day and lay my head down on the pillow.
My husband has other ideas on sleep. He workshops the sleep gods, and does an amazing job. For him, the best sleep comes early in the morning about two hours before the need to arise arises. It begins with the first beeps of the alarm clock. This is when his morning worship begins.
In the chill of the morning, my eyes fly open at the sound, totally awake. It is usually an hour or two before I really need to be awake, but the deed is done and my motor is running.
I watch as his arm creeps out from the warm cocoon we’ve created to bang the top of the clock. As the clock shakes with the impact, I see that it is six in the morning. I’m awake. Totally and irrevocably, no matter how hard I may try to return to a dream state.
He’s still asleep. Though the decades-long habit, he is barely conscious enough to accomplish this task. He’s started his early morning ritual of prayer to the gods of the night, sleep, and dreams.
For the next hour to two, I will watch him snore, hear the electronic beeps that go off with regularity every eight minutes. His arm slip out of the warmth to slap the clock as he sinks back into his “best” sleep of the night. I should get up, get moving, get my “go on” as my mother called it, but I’m fascinated by the ritual and determined to get just a few more minutes of my own.
Living with him, I wake up furious and impatient realizing I’ve lost those extra minutes when I could be in a mentally relaxing and healing state as the man is beside me with the quick trigger slamming arm.
Over the years I’ve tried everything to change his habit. I’ve switched from the beeping to annoying buzzers. I even tried annoying morning news radio then stopped. I don’t want the first words I hear in the morning to be reports on murder and mayhem by individuals and governments.
I put my foot down, literally, and poked and prodded him from the bed. I even hung my feet outside of the warmth of blankets to gather the cold within them before putting them to his backside to propel him from the bed.
Recently, I decided to change my attitude of battle about this denial of my rights to sleep to my appointed time to rise. Instead I lie in bed and watch my beloved morning snoozer snooze a little longer. I snuggle up against his warmth and think warm and loving thoughts. I grab my smart phone and catch up on my reading, email, or blog, wrapped in his warm embrace.
After twenty years of waking with anger and hate in my heart at the loss of a precious hour or two of sleep, I’ve found safety and comfort in these hours, listening to his soft snores and the rhythm of his deep breaths. While he snores, I realize that the greatest gift I’ve been given is time. Time to love, and time to be loved.
In one way or another, I’ve been writing every day of my life for…let’s just say decades. Now that I’ve put a simple task before me to write in this “journal” daily, I find obstacles every where I turn.
My days are filled with writing technical articles, social media commentaries and replies, and responding endlessly to emails. I’m glued to the computer, keyboard, and mouse continuously almost every waking hour. When I’m away from the desktop computer, it’s the laptop, tablet, or phone.
Someone added up all the articles I typically wrote and came up with an average 1,975 articles a year. Yet I can’t seem to get to this journaling business more than a couple times a week.
I’ve started to study the art of the journal, especially memoir and family history journaling in preparation for the Family History Blogging course I’ll be teaching in Spring Quarter, and I’m so impressed by those who wrote great letters and journals, recording their thoughts on paper. Sure, they didn’t have a computer nor the near desperate panic of work ethic we have today, but they found time to record their thoughts. Why is it so hard for me.
Sometimes I think I have no thoughts – well, nothing original. Or my words fall flat with lackluster language.
Discussing journals with friends during our recent Thanksgiving holiday party, they spoke of the power in the written language to preserve a moment with flowery, descriptive words. One person told of focusing on a single subject, like a tree outside the window and start to describe that every day, commenting on the changes, weather, and eventually the things on it, around it, then about the world, all linked together.
A couple told of their long distance romance in the early years and how they wrote journals more than letters to each other. They’d exchange them when they got together and write responses in each other’s journals. What a magical way to romance.
Yet, for the first time in my life I look at the blank screen before me and the words won’t come.
Instead, I write about how all of this is just too hard.
It will get better tomorrow.
Soon I will have new equipment that will allow me the ability to capture what I see in my mind. While that sounds technologically prophetic, technology today is finally able to recreate what I could do with my analog professional camera gear.
I’m not talking about special effects, so easily used, to the point where “real” is only a concept. I’m talking about photographing what I really see and having the end result on film, untainted with special effects.
Looking out the window as the heavy rains ceased and the sun burst through the clouds for a moment, our forest burst into sparkling gems – gems in motion as they spilled from the wet moss and last of the autumn leaves, giving in to gravity.
My ability to describe with words the scene before me is slowly evolving as I expand my rhetoric to include descriptive and not just technical language, but my eyes and spirit race back to the familiar, camera in hand, analyzing the scene to make the best choices to capture the moment as I see it.
I would set the camera on the tripod and frame the single tall Douglas Fir in the foreground to isolate it from the busy surroundings. I’d close down the aperture as far as light would allow to maintain the speed in which to catch the drops and create a star burst effect with the sun-drenched drops. My eyes see this, but cameras have to be set to properly to recreate what I see.
All I have with me is my phone, so the end result, while decent quality, shows a wet forest backlit by the sun coming through the clouds. The drops are invisible, the details are lost in the clutter of too much of the forest in focus. The phone camera is top notch, but digital still lacks the ability in that class of camera to capture contrast and detail. The light overwhelms its meter, so the shift towards neutral to compensate takes away the punch.
So I’m stuck with words. No matter how technical our lives become, words still matter. Our ability to speak and be heard drives us to constantly improve our ability to communicate – well, it should.
And I’m stuck with memory to preserve the moment. These moments in nature happen in a split second and are gone, sometimes reproducible, sometimes not. I hold them as long as I can in my eyes, feeding the memory cells deep in my brain, so when I need a peaceful image in the future, this will be one of a select few that will rise to the surface on demand.
Since I know my own swiss cheese brain well, I wish I had a better quality camera instead.
Lightning Paper. That is the Cherokee word for email.
I’ve encountered many languages thought to be dead or dying. Hebrew, Swahili, Cherokee and other Native American Indian languages for example. While thought to be dying, many of these languages are being reborn through technology.
A story tonight on NPR’s Hear and Now featured a team from Google and the Cherokee Nation talking about their projects to create a Google Search and now Gmail in Cherokee, helping to not just introduce the language to young people, but also to help older native speakers communicate with modern technology with their friends, family, and younger generation.
With the revival of Hebrew with Ben Yehuda’s work in Israel, words had to be created to accommodate modern words and technology. They weren’t driving cars nor playing on computers or drinking out of plastic bottles during the time of Moses, so the language needed to adapt. The base word for computer is “machine” which fairly represents what it is. Other words like “auto” for car were adopted from other languages as needed, creating a similar mishmash lexicon similar to English, which steals from just about every language in one way or another.
I loved the phrase “lightning paper.” It perfectly represents the concept of an email, better than the word email. It makes me reconsider the words we use today and how they should be changed to be more poetic and apropos to their intentions.
“Blog” is one of those words I’d love to change. Originally they were called online journals then weblogs for a company now defunct called WebLogs. Blog is such a vulgar sounding word, closely related to the sound one makes when they vomit. I’d love to go back to online journals, or even dynamic website, a term I use in my classes on web publishing to explain the difference between a static HTML website and a database driven site.
I’ve fought over naming things and the abusive use of metaphors in the American English language most of my life. My mother had thousands of them at her disposal to make her point.
“Don’t be a bump on a log.” That meant don’t be lazy or just sit there waiting for something to happen.
“Need a kick in the head?” Not sure where that one came from but it usually translated to “you need a kick in the ass” or “please think before opening mouth.”
“I stayed out until the dogs were hung.” When challenged on this one, she didn’t even realize how violent that expression sounded. In fact, it dates back to when England owned much of Europe, building great walled towns. Aggressive dogs were literally “hung” with chains and hooks on wires between in the outer and inner walls at night. You had to be through the gates and into the inner walled and protected areas before the dogs were “hung” on the runs or be left outside the walls unprotected for the night.
While traveling many years ago through the southern United States, a man in Georgia exclaimed to me, “Well, ice cream don’t grow hair!”
I wanted to argue with him, yet when I paused to consider each word, I realized that I couldn’t argue with him. He was right. Ice cream does not influence hair growth in any way, shape, or form. Not sure the origin of such a bizarre commentary which represented awe and wonderment, but it is certainly colorful.
Found out this morning that the husband of a friend of mine had died a few days ago.
I’d battled the blustery rain and wind to this meeting, braced with the first breath of winter in the Pacific Northwest, then stunned by the news. I’ve tried all day not to think about it, but the storm had other plans.
I fought to handle the car in the stiff side winds after the meeting. I dashed through pouring rain into the store to pick up some items for our two Thanksgiving dinners, one for us on the official day, and the holiday party we were throwing a few days later for friends. Leaving the store, the pouring rain had gotten braver and I was drenched through my coat within two minutes as I unloaded the cart and filled the back of the car.
Kalon, our house mate, texted me that the lights were blinking on and off and asked if he could park his new BMW car in the garage as there “branches falling from the sky.” Before starting the car, I replied affirmative and asked him to meet me when I drove in to help unload the groceries.
If I didn’t have a clock in the car, I would have thought it was near sunset. The dark clouds blocked out the sun and the rain took care of the rest. Branches were on the road everywhere, but small and easily ignored. The water alongside the road was threatening to cross the road, but the current swept it downstream.
As I climbed up the foothills towards home, I came to the T in the road near the pallet mill. Water gushed over the drain pipe and onto the road, a gray mass of slit and sludge. I swung wide at the shallowest point and drove through, water spraying outwards, tires whizzing under me.
Thrilled to be past it, but nervous about the onslaught of the storm, my mind flipped to my friend. She’d made a serious life-changing decision a while ago to put her 95 year old husband in a care facility, but it was gut wrenching. A few weeks ago, she’d gotten a call from the facility informing her that her husband was on the way to the hospital as he’d fallen down in his room and had laid there for many hours before anyone found him. He’s injured himself quite badly but had retained consciousness. No one had responded to his cries. In a place like that, sometimes it’s all you an do to ignore the cries, but this was unconscionable.
He’d been repaired and was recovering, last I’d heard. Rehab and some good care and he’d be back to normal, as normal can be with those injuries and that age. She’d spent every minute she could with him, helping him, feeding him, reading long hours to him. Another friend told me that they’d really hoped it would make it through Christmas, but life had another plans.
My heart broke for her and her family, but it also weighed on me as it does when you face morality in others. My father died a few years ago, leaving the family a mess with poor planning and bad behavior by family members. My mother, on her second (or third?) husband, just finished a few weeks in Hawaii to celebrate her 75th birthday in style (and warmth). My step-mother works hard in Arizona caring for her daughter and her children as well as aging neighbors, and she’s not a young thing. Many of my family members are aging, and I wonder what the future holds for them, as well as my old self.
I send a voice text to hubby to warn him to be careful of the water on the road and turn the corner on the street towards home to find small tree branches on the road. I get out and clear them, and drive on, wetter than I was before.
I turn down the long hill of our driveway, thankful to see that it is clear so far of trees. I check the neighbor’s driveway that Ys off from ours for fallen trees and it looks clear. We keep an eye on our older neighbor, helping where we can, but secretly. He is fiercely independent and wants to do it all himself, so we pick up tree branches and keep the driveway clear when he isn’t around.
I turn the corner and there lay a huge tree across our driveway, a couple hundred feet from my door. I texted my husband about the tree and then our house mate to get him to come help me. I grabbed purse and umbrella, finally giving up against the downpour, parked the car and made my way over the tree and towards the house to change into working clothes.
Kalon and I tried to get the chain saw to start while carrying on a third-party conversation via text messages with my husband. He kept insisting he’d come home and deal with the tree, but I was a veteran of the chain saw, so why bother. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the saw started, so I gave up and told him to come home. He wanted to anyway. A chance to chop up a tree? Are you kidding. I’d hate to spoil his fun and do it myself.
Then I realized how much I still needed him. Sure, I always needed my best friend and husband, but I realized how truly precious he was to me. I always need that reminding.
Don’t we all.