Saturday, March 31, 2012

What Is This Earth Hour Thing?





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Earth Hour
is a 60 second interval set aside when hundreds of millions of people, businesses and governments around the world unite each year to support the largest environmental event in history -- and it is labeled Earth Hour.

More than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour 2011, sending a powerful message for action on climate change. It also ushered in a new era with members going Beyond the Hour to commit to lasting action for the planet. And without a doubt, it’s shown how great things can be achieved when people come together for a common cause.

Earth Hour 2012 is set for Saturday March 31st at 8:30 P.M.

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While reading the rather boastful resume for an Arizona congressional candidate, I saw: "And that's why he's earned the support of over 200 local businesses." Being the curious grammar nosy-parker that I am, I wondered whether the phrase "over 200" might be better if replaced with "more than 200." So, as always when I wonder about something, I did an Internet search for answers.

Grammar Girl has what I consider to be the most concise and common sense answer to my question.

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Word For Today

tacit [ta-sit]
Adjective:
Understood or implied without being stated.

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In The Atlantic I read: "There are so many people that could come into existence in the future if humanity survives this critical period of time---we might live for billions of years, our descendants might colonize billions of solar systems, and there could be billions and billions times more people than exist currently."

That made me think about what such a future would be like both for mankind as a whole and also for the average individual just living a life day by day on the world where that man or woman was born. Now that would make a fine Science Fiction story, would it not?

Of course such stories have already been written. The first batch of them that jump into my mind was the Foundation series, by Isaac Asimov, possibly the first author who posited a galaxy wide civilization. Well... his were the first that I read, anyway.

Another was The Weapon Shops of Isher, a novel written by A. E. van Vogt, first published in 1951.

But going beyond early science fiction, there is a comprehensive data base of articles, facts, and wild conjectures regarding extraterrestrial life with many of its possible ramifications. This website can be enormously helpful to the Science Fiction writer.

The Rise and Fall of Star Faring Civilizations in Our Own Galaxy


That website can be found HERE.

WARNING!

One can easily disappear from the social scene and remain missing for a great length of time upon entering this intriguing website.

No Joke!

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Another Word For Today

elegiac [el-i-jahy-uhk, -ak, ih-lee-jee-ak]
adjective
1.
used in, suitable for, or resembling an elegy.
2.
expressing sorrow or lamentation:

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY


Born March 31, 1948


Also . . .



Born March 31, 1948

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Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don't know.
--Bertrand Russell

Friday, March 30, 2012

I Am What I Am



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A couple days ago a member of my Writers group submitted a 100 word story he'd written, and the title of the story was Homs. Making a fool of myself (as I often do) by not thinking before acting, I admitted that I did not know what Homs was and I asked him to tell me. He did, by saying something like "Homs is the city in Syria that President Assad is tearing to pieces trying to kill the people there was are protesting against him."

Figuratively, I slapped myself up side of the head. Of course I had heard the name on many TV News broadcasts and seen the name on maps of Syria time after time. But the town's name did not make enough of an impression for my memory to retain it. That probably says a lot (to the discerning reader) about the state of my aging brain's lack of power to remember facts. Or how little I have come to care about world affairs, about the fates of people of far off foreign nations.

Not a flattering picture of my self.

But, for good or for bad, like Popeye, "I yam what I yam."

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Grammarphobia.com, a website I visit every single day, received the following question: "I'm in the editing phase of a book and notice that the copy editor has added a comma before many (perhaps most) occurrences of the word "because." This seems to halt the flow of the sentences, but I wonder if a rule exists that I'm not aware of."

You can read the answer HERE.

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Bluegrass musician Earl Scruggs died Wednesday, March 28, 2012. He was 88 years old.

Earl Scruggs


With fellow Monroe sideman Flatt, he formed Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys in 1948. Their recordings of the theme to the television sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies" and the instrumental "Foggy Mountain Breakdown: (1950) -- heard during the car chases in the 1967 film "Bonnie and Clyde" -- brought bluegrass its greatest recognition.

Read about Earl Scruggs HERE.

Listen to Flatt and Scruggs play The Ballad Of Jed Clampett

Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs - Foggy Mountain Breakdown

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The progressive weakening of my memory (mentioned above) weighs heavily on my mind. There are certain words that I have looked up many times because they will not stick in my conscious mind. Direct recall is impossible no matter how hard I try. One of these words is dystopia. I search out and find its definition (a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding) whenever I see the wretched word in print before my eyes, but then the next time I encounter it on the page, its meaning is gone, and I have to look it up again.

I suppose I could devise some kind of trick to remember that word's definition. Tricks, in strengthening memory, are surprisingly effective.

Many years ago I (being a Science Fiction Fan) was embarrassed because I seemed unable to memorize the names and positions relative to the sun of the nine planets of our solar system. (There were 9 planets back then.) I read that the trick to remembering lists is to use mnemonics, to make up a nonsense verse with the first letter of each of the verse's word echoing the first letter of each word to be remembered on the list. And supposedly the sillier the verse the better. And you must use the first verse you create. So I gave it a try.

The verse I came up with is: Mickey Very Early Married Jupiter Since You Needed Pluto -- Get it? Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.

It seemed like a ridiculously stupid verse. But, it worked. I have never forgotten that verse, not the corresponding planet names and location relative to the sun throughout the years of my life.

So far.

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George Will in his Washington Post column speaks out about how big government and big business conspire to keep the average man, the little guy, from advancing their income and their social status by clandestine conspiracies.

You can read George's column HERE.

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Word For Today

Luddite [luhd-ahyt]
noun
A member of any of various bands of workers in England organized to destroy manufacturing machinery, under the belief that its use diminished employment.

In modern usage, "Luddite" is a term describing those opposed to industrialization, automation, computerization or new technologies in general.

More . . .

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About midway along the first mile of my daily walk I spied a wounded critter lying on the street beneath the McGuire Middle School's overhead pedestrian highway crossing and snapped a couple of quick shots of it.

A young rattlesnake



Earlier, on the local TV Tucson morning news, the local anchorperson had warned that many such creatures were being spotted, having left their winter dens earlier than usual this year.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY


Born March 30, 1937

__________

"Children are still the way you were as a child, sad and happy in just the same way--and if you think of your childhood, you once again live among them, among the solitary children."
--Rainer Maria Rilke, (Letters to a Young Poet)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Notes From My Underground


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I have grown to despise the phrase "born of working class parents" -- I don't know why I find it so downright offensive... I just do. Perhaps I'll do some self-analysis on the subject and report on my conclusions at a later date.

Perhaps . . .

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At The Writer's Almanac I recently read: Virginia Woolf committed suicide on this day in 1941. A lively, witty, productive, creative person, whose life was overshadowed by her death.

How can that be? How can the work of a lifetime (however short) be counted as less important than how a person died? To me, that is ludicrous. It demeans, not only the woman, the talented writer, but indeed the general public itself.

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Guess what! The rich are getting richer.

An opinion writer for the Washington Post, Harold Meyerson reported that according to a study published this month by the University of California economist Emmanuel Saez, in 2010, 93 percent of income growth went to the wealthiest 1 percent of American households, while everyone else divvied up the 7 percent that was left over. Put another way: The most fundamental characteristic of the U.S. economy today is the divide between the 1 percent and the 99 percent.

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In The New Yorker I read: Since 1996, according to Gallup polls, between thirty-five and forty-seven per cent of Americans have described themselves as "evangelical" or "born again"; two-thirds mostly or wholly believe that angels and devils are at work in the world.

Unbelievable!

Well, not really.

A combination of reading about the religious beliefs of ordinary people and my own personal observations of the same leads me to believe that human beings are either biologically wired to equate their faith in the existence of Divine Parental Figures (God The Father and Mother Mary) with their emotionally impressed Earthly parental experiences during their infant years, or they are powerless in the face of their emotional need for peer acceptance.

Whew! Now that is a long sentence.

Meaningful though.

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Pray With Me is a request from Martin S. Pribble to read and understand his heartfelt prayer to God. Martin (a writer I much admire) is sincere in his prayer, whether you are inclined to believe that or not.

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Word For Today

rabbet (RAB-buht)
noun
A rabbet is a recess or groove cut into the edge of a piece of machinable material, usually wood.



No, not a rabbit

A rabbet


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I viewed a YouTube video that will, in itself, change absolutely no one's mind as to whether there is or is not a Christian god. But it might make some viewers think.

Or it might not.

It's entertaining, though.

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Born On This Day In History


Born March 29, 1916
Died Dec. 10, 2005


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__________

"A certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery."
--Nelson Algren

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just The Facts Ma'am . . .



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A Delancey Place review of the book, 1616: The World in Motion by Thomas Christensen contains the statement taken from the book: "...Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) had compiled decades of data from his celestial observations..."

This made me wonder if the phrase, "had compiled decades of data" is correct or not. Is decades, being a measure of time, a proper container for compiled data? Or maybe it should be something like: "had compiled decades worth of data?"

I should look up the answer to that question.

Probably won't though.

Too lazy.

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While playing around with Photoshop Elements 2.0. I scanned into my computer an old black and white 5-by-7 picture containing images of four people. One of those people asked if I could crop out and feature only two of them. Below is the result.


There is no need to label the identities of the little boy and girl in the circa 1960s photo. They both know who they are.

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At The Writer's Almanac there is a fascinating short piece about Typhoid Mary. I had, of course, heard of Typhoid Mary but had never known the factual details behind the story. Give it a read and you'll see what I mean.

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There has been much written about the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman that took place on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Not all, but a great many facts about this incident have been revealed. And these publicized facts have sparked a great deal of controversy.




I would caution those who have had their ire aroused to wait a while before forming a definite conclusion about who is actually at fault for the situation. Frank Lloyd Wright (and others) have said, "The truth is more important than the facts."

To prejudge is to jump to conclusions, to make a hasty assessment, to presume, to presuppose -- and those who prejudge are, by definition, prejudiced.

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Word For Today

prejudice
noun
1.
an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
2.
any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
3.
unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.

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Davis-Monthan AFB wins installation excellence award. It is all over the local TV news -- Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, won this year's award and will receive $1 million for quality-of-life improvements.

WOW!

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On TV station KOLD news 13 Tucson, a headline banner displayed: Extra equipments from Iraq. I thought about it and wondered if the 's' at the end of the word equipment was a typo by the banner writer, a product of the banner writer's ignorance, or perhaps that the use of equipments has now become grammatically acceptable.

Not that it matters, I suppose. Who else but me would even notice? Or care?

There is more to life than picking nits.

Isn't there?

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY


Born March 28, 1955

__________

"Doubts often beget the facts they fear."
--Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Just The Bare Bones



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I am presently trying to write a 100 word story, not a 99 word story, not a 101 word story, but an exactly 100 word story . . .

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No time for blogging at the moment . . .

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. . .

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Word For Today

discomfit (dis-KUHM-fit)
verb tr.:
1. To confuse or embarrass.
2. To thwart the plans of.

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Born On This Day In History

(The Fugitive)

Born March 27, 1931
Died on Feb 13, 1980

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__________

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
--Anton Chekhov

Monday, March 26, 2012

Evolution Persists, Believe In It Or Not


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Life on Earth originated and then evolved from a universal common ancestor approximately 3.7 billion years ago.

Evolution is no longer a theory; it's a fact.

Charles Darwin was the first to formulate a scientific argument for evolution by means of natural selection.

Virtually all serious scientists now know (whether or not they openly admit it) that the process of evolution is a natural force.

Extinction is the disappearance of an entire species. Extinction is not an unusual event, as species regularly appear through speciation and then disappear through extinction.

Nearly all animal and plant species that have lived on Earth are now extinct, and extinction appears to be the ultimate fate of all species.

All the above statements can be found (and much more) at Wikipedia under the topic of Evolution and the site is highly recommended to any intelligent seeker who wishes to read and learn more about the subject.

But I read somewhere (or heard somewhere) that the present generation seems to be evolving in a peculiar direction -- that men are becoming more feminine and women more masculine. Could that be true? If so, why? Perhaps because of the introduction of some modern-day flavor enhancing additive into our food supply. Maybe something as seemingly innocuous as the ubiquitous sugar substitute, aspartame. How about high fructose corn syrup?

Or some other USDA approved ingredient.

Who knows?

Might be the seed of a Science Fiction story.

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Word For Today

bacciferous [bak-SIFF-ur-us]
adj.
bearing berries; fruitful

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY


Born March 26, 1931



Better known as Spock
(From Star Trek)


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__________

"I'm no biologist, but how many cells do single-celled organisms have?"
--Harry Block
(played by Orlando Jones in the movie Evolution)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Word About Politics . . . Ugh!


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George Will's Obamacare constitutionality column in Sunday Washington Post exposes some points that the Supreme Court just might take into consideration... or then again, it might not. It seems to me that these points are valid, and should not be ignored.

But that's just my opinion.


Bob Schieffer announced that starting next Sunday Face The Nation expands to a full hour.

'Ugh!'

And that's my last word on the subject of politics.

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Word For Today

maar
n. volcanic crater without a cone, usually filled by a lake.


The maar at Birkat Ram, the Golan Heights


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HAPPY BIRTHDAY


Born March 25, 1965


On May 19, 1997, she married actor Matthew Broderick
(May 19 is my birthday.)


Sarah Jessica Parker and spouse Matthew Broderick


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__________

"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher."
--Flannery O'Connor
Note:
I found the above quotation at The Writer's Almanac

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Can't Think Of A Title



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While downloading a picture of Steve McQueen for this morning's blog entry, a Norton Anti Virus warning, a flashing display, popped up on my monitor indicating that a number of serious threats had invaded my computer. I immediately initiated a Full-Scan of all files, which took a long time, a half-hour or more, I think... I didn't actually time it but took a short nap while the scan was running. After it was finished, it reported that 56 threats had been detected and removed.

That is not the first time this has happened. That good old Norton 360 has paid for itself time and again. And I am going to be much more careful where I go to select celebrity birthday pictures for my blog. This time, after all that trouble, I just used the one from Wikipedia.

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This entry is pretty darn short, but I can't think of anything else at the moment. Maybe I will come up with something interesting to write about before the day is over. If so, I'll append it... if not, I wont.

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Word For Today

twee
adjective
affectedly dainty or quaint

The Urban Dictionary
has a comprehensive definition of twee.

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Born On This Day In History


Born on March 24, 1930
Died November 7, 1980

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__________

Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.
--Omar Bradley

Friday, March 23, 2012

Weather Outside Is Delightful



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Okay . . . I am back home now from my dog-sitting chores in the desert. Not that keeping company with Eva is a chore; she's a real sweetheart.

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Short Note Regarding Atheism

Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless is a video description of the new book written by Greta Christina -- I know that the announcement was previously posted on quarkscrew but I am repeating the announcement here in case some might have missed it.

Greta Christina is pictured in our own Writers Photo Album (she's not a member) posing alongside BT Murtagh (who is a member) and who, as I am sure all our members know, is an extremely talented fiction writer. The recent 6X6 exercise pretty well proved that.

The picture is HERE.

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Word For Today

procatalepsis

rhetorical figure by which an opponent’s objections are anticipated and answered.

The Grammarphobia blog posted several examples. Here are a couple of them: "Someone who begins by saying No offense, but … or Nothing personal, but … is about to step on your toes, and both parties know it."

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Born On This Day In History


Born March 23, 1912
Died on Jun 16, 1977

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__________

Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
--Oscar Wilde

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just A Short Note



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I'm not at home today... I am dog-sitting out in a mansion in the desert with Eva so there is little time for writing. The owners of the house are in Los Angeles for a few days. I did want to post an entry though, even if it is a short one.

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Word For Today

Kerfuffle
Disturbance or Fuss

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY



Born March 22, 1931

__________

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Began Yesterday




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Yesterday was the first day of Spring but the weather here in Tucson was disappointing; cold winds blew a succession of drizzling rains up and down the streets and across the boulevards of the city. I heard, though, that a great many areas of the nation were favored with abnormally high temperatures. Illinois, Minnesota, and some other states suffered through days and nights of summer like conditions. The news people grabbed onto it to reinforce this as further evidence for man made climate change. They lamented the lack of familiar snow and cold and ice in Northern regions. Who ever heard of such balmy weather in March?

Whine, whine, whine.

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Is there a right way to write? Must one adhere to formalized rules in order to produce a publishable piece of fiction or an acceptable fact filled memoir? It does seem so.

To be considered worthy of appearing in print, it is well established that a submitted manuscript must contain material that a goodly percentage of the population will want to read. Why else would a publisher wish to accept it if not to please a book-buying audience?

But I wonder, if that is so, if that is a commandment chiseled in stone, then why do editors cry out for original writing? And why do the readers themselves grow weary with the same old same old and complain that there is nothing new and exciting available these days?

I am convinced that truly innovative works, especially in the field of creative fiction would, if accepted by publishers, be heartily welcomed by the general public. But sad to say, this will probably not come about. Readers (and publishers) must have their Harry Potters.

Who then might submit new forms of fiction? I can think of a few. Me? Oh no! I am too timid to expose my seemingly shameful 'secret' stuff to the culturally conditioned eyes and minds of the properly educated and morally unforgiving masses of properly compliant law-abiding folks. And so it seems, does another writer of my acquaintance, although he will probably never admit it, to others... nor to himself.


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Once again, using Photoshop Elements 2.0, I merged three pictures I took of the Santa Catalina mountains while facing North at the intersection of Speedway Boulevard and Pantano Street to construct a panoramic view of the range. There is a crown of snow on some of the peaks.


(Click photo for full size view)

The change of lighting intensity caused by altering the little camera's direction relative to the sun for each of the three shots created a triple light variation in the finished product. It was immediately visible to me, but the casual viewer should not notice it. I suppose it could be fixed but I'd rather not spend the time on doing so right now.


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Word For Today

Bombast
arrogant, pompous language


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Although I did not take the picture below, it fascinated me so much that I decided to post it on the blog anyway. The photographer (Dessert Survivor) back home in Indiana has given me permission to do so.

Link to Rensselaer Adventures http://rensselaeradventures.blogspot.com/

The fascination I feel for that glimpse of swampy scenery must be related to some lingering mental whiff of Hoosier boyhood memory. Can't think of a better explanation.

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Happy Birthday

(Bueller . . . Bueller . . . Bueller . . .)

Born March 21, 1962

By the way . . . Matthew Broderick is married to Sarah Jessica Parker


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__________

"Either write something worth reading
or do something worth writing."

--Ben Franklin

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If You Will Kindly Indulge Me



_____


If you can start the day without caffeine,

If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,

If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without alcohol,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs . . .

Then You Are Probably



The Family Dog!


(The above was sent to me in an email from my son.)


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While sorting through some photographs from the closet, I saw the old and faded one below, and it illustrated (to me) -- something or other -- can't remember what it was.

My grandson, Tim, born in 1984, with his
Great-Great Grandma Morris born in 1898


Now what was it that provoked me to include that photo in today's blog entry? Probably something to do with time . . . life spans . . . family, or something like that.

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Word For Today

Crepuscular
adjective
1.
of, pertaining to, or resembling twilight; dim; indistinct.
2.
active at dawn and dusk
3.
Zoology
appearing or active in the twilight, as certain bats and insects.

Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight, that is during dawn and dusk.

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Here is another old picture I found in a crushed and broken shoebox.

Charles Gene Chambers
(42 years old)

Graduation Night May 1982 --
Valparaiso Technical Institute


A friend and former classmate who is planning to write an article for a historical journal asked my permission to use a pair of my archived pictures from our fifth grade photo. Of course I agreed readily. Below is section 1, which is the section containing your's truly... me. I am in the bottom row, wearing my cub scout uniform.

(Click photo for full-size view)

The tallest girl in my row, near the center is Darlene Robinson. She was to later become my date three years later for the eighth grade prom. I have been told, sadly, that she has since passed away.

Below are the links to the two class pictures just in case you are of a curious bent. They feature the full-size photos with the names of all the students.

http://www.genechambers.com/5thpart1.htm

http://www.genechambers.com/5thpart2.htm

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY



Born March 20, 1922

According to Wikipedia:

On December 24, 1943, Reiner married singer Estelle Lebost. The two were married 64 years until her death in 2008. At the time of the marriage, he was 21 and she was 29. His wife Estelle is probably best remembered for her line "I'll have what she's having" in the deli scene of their son Rob's 1989 film When Harry Met Sally. She died on October 25, 2008, at age 94.

Reiner, who is Jewish, has described himself as a Jewish atheist.He says, "I have a very different take on who God is. Man invented God because he needed him. God is us."

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We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.
--Shirley Abbott

Monday, March 19, 2012

What Is A Successful Blog?



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According to the owners of several successful bloggers, it is important to have a focus -- in order to build a 'brand' one must be associated with an idea. Aha! So that is why I have so few readers, or at least so few that bother to comment on my unfocused renderings of random content.

A successful blog attracts readers who agree with what is offered, but I tend to write about too many conflicting ideas on too many different subjects.

And I do that very thing . . . every day.

This lack of focus is something I believe I can conquer, but to do so I would have to give up the idea of posting to the blog every day. I am just not that prolific a writer. Or else I am not that skillful or intelligent enough.

Or do not care enough.

And . . . do I even want my blog to be successful?

I'll have to think about it.

_____


I read an online newspaper's headline that stated: Thai state media: Thai billionaire who created Red Bull energy drink dies at 89.

And this brought home a fact that I have almost always known --

Everybody dies!

_____


Gene Weingarten: Publish and perish is the title of a column from The Washington Post that might (or might not) be of interest to new writers hoping to be published.

Weingarten wrote: This is excerpted from a speech I gave last week at the Tucson Festival of Books -- and then he went on to give his opinion about the modern literary scene. Below are some of the highlights:

". . . books do not sell."

“. . . jacket copy, which is the material on the book jacket, lavishly complimentary about the author, and often written in the third person by the author himself."

"Publishers love blurbs; it’s their system of influence peddling. The dirty little secret about blurbs is that they are often written by someone who not only isn't familiar with the writer, but sometimes hasn’t even read the book. He is writing the blurb as a favor to his publisher."

The column is supposed to be an insider's somewhat comical rendition of what book publishing is really all about.

I doubt its veracity, and I didn't think it was funny at all.


By the way . . . I did not attend last week's Tucson Festival of Books but a member of my family did, and she had her picture taken with author Terry Brooks, a famous American writer of fantasy fiction.


_____

Word For Today

inveterate
(adj.)
stubbornly established by habit

_____


HAPPY BIRTHDAY


Born March 19, 1955

_____

Now that I have started thinking about becoming a successful blogger, I can't seem to let the thought go.

Damn!

__________

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.
--David Brinkley

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog"



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I have mentioned many times in earlier blog entries that I was born in 1939, but did you know that there were a great many noteworthy events and subjects of great interest at that particular time in history? Well, it's true.

For one thing, 1939 was the year when World War II began in Europe when Adolph Hitler's German army troops invaded Poland. Also, a Douglas DC-4 began passenger service between Chicago and New York carrying 40 passengers. A refrigerator cost $22.98 - A man's suit cost $13.95 - A washing machine cost $39.95 - A bicycle cost $28.95. And only 3% of Americans qualified to pay income tax

In 1955 I turned 16 and the Hot Songs were: Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley and The Comets - Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White by Perez Prado - Sincerely by The McGuire Sisters - Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford - Love Is A Many Splendored Thing by the Four Aces - Yellow Rose Of Texas by Mitch Miller - and The Ballad Of Davy Crockett by Bill Hayes.

In 1955 the popular movies were: Battle Cry with Van Heflin - Blackboard Jungle with Glenn Ford - Marty with Ernest Borgnine - and To Hell And Back with Audie Murphy. More than one person (teenage girls) at that time told me that I looked a lot like . . .

Audie Murphy


Who was I to dissuade a teenage girl?


Also in 1955 (when I was 16) came the debut of . . .

THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB


And speaking of girls . . . I was captivated from the beginning by . . .

Annette Funicello


And my awe of her lasted through the years, all throughout the later Beach Movies (I was always so jealous of Frankie Avalon.)

Annette as an adult


Here is a link to a Youtube video of the Mickey Mouse Club singing "Now it's time to say goodbye."

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My hometown back in the so called good ol' days.

Rensselaer, Indiana, mid-twentieth century
(Notice the old cars parked along the street)

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Two Words For Today

bathos
noun
1.
a. An abrupt, unintended transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect.
b. An anticlimax.
2.
a. Insincere or grossly sentimental pathos.
b. Banality; triteness.
Synonyms:
sentimentality, gooeyness, lovey-doveyness, mawkishness, mush, mushiness, saccharinity, sappiness, sentimentalism, sloppiness, soppiness.


pathos
[pey-thos, -thohs, -thaws]
noun
1.
the quality or power in an actual life experience or in literature, music, speech, or other forms of expression, of evoking a feeling of pity or compassion.
2.
pity.
synonyms
desolation, emotion, feeling, passion, pitiableness, pitifulness

Pathos is a word that throughout my lifetime I have pronounced 'PAH - those' but now (at age 72) I find it should be pronounced 'PAY - thaws' -- Oh well, live and learn.

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BORN ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY



Born March 18, 1886
Died Sept. 29, 1970

Edward Everett Horton narrated 'Fractured Fairy Tales' on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, and in a scene in Friz Freleng's cartoon Hare Trigger, Yosemite Sam (in his debut) calls himself "the meanest, toughest, rip-roarin'-est, Edward Everett Horton-est hombre what ever packed a six-shooter!"

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I prefer the mystic clouds of nostalgia to the real thing, to be honest.
--Robert Wyatt

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Today is A Green Holiday




I don't know if my forebears came from Ireland or not. Don't know for sure whether they were Irish or not. I was told by someone in my early years that my ancestors had once resided in County Mayo, in the North of Ireland. Who knows?

View The Chambers Family Crest

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During my daily walk yesterday I took several pictures of the Santa Catalina mountains and when I got back home I decided to do some experiments with them using Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0. So I did a Photomerge with 3 separate photos, thereby creating a single panoramic picture. Below is the result.

(click the picture to view full size)

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When I arrived at the Fry's Supermarket loafers' area just outside the front entrance, I snapped a quick shot of the smoker's bench. I know, I know... Ive posted a shot of it before, but maybe some new readers have now joined as followers of the blog and have not seen it before.




No one else was around at the time so I sat down on left bench and took a picture of the parking lot and the mountains in the background.



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BORN ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY


Born March 17, 1895
Died Nov. 22, 1955


My mom used to tell about taking me to the movies when I was a little squirt and how I would start to cry when The Three Stooges came on because they would always hit each other with hammers and stab each other with swords and shovels and pickaxes and the like. But I do not remember it, of course, since I was somewhere between the ages of 1 and 2. Later in life I developed a taste for their antics. Still watch them in old re-runs. Occasionally.




The first movie I can remember viewing at the old Palace Theater in Rensselaer, Indiana was when my Grandpa Morris took me to see his favorite cowboy, Hopalong Cassidy, played by William Boyd.


William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy

Early 1940s

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Saint Patrick was a gentleman
Who through strategy and stealth
Drove all the snakes from Ireland
Here's a drinkee to his health!
But not too many drinkees
Lest we lose ourselves and then...
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see them snakes again!

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There are only two kinds of people in the world, The Irish and those who wish they were.
--Old Irish Saying

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Bit Of A Hotchy-Potchy



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In The Writer's Almanac I read that Robert Goddard received a grant from the Smithsonian Institution that enabled him to do research and publish a paper on "A Method for Reaching Extreme Altitudes" in 1920. In the paper, he speculated that rockets could be used to reach the moon. The New York Times heard about his paper and ridiculed him. He went from being a relative nobody to a laughingstock literally overnight. But he persisted, and on this date, March 16, 1926, he completed the first successful launch of his liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, Massachusetts.

Perseverance sometimes conquers all sorts of interference from outside forces, or so it seems to me. But persistence in the ever-sneering face of self-deprecation is surely the most difficult of obstacles to overcome.

God! I am such a weakling. Such a whining, shiftless, incompetent, wastrel. A quitter. Gutless.

A writer? Me? Hah!

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Word For Today

execrable [ek-si-kruh-buhl]
Adjective
Extremely bad or unpleasant.
Synonyms:
abominable - odious - loathsome - abhorrent - detestable

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BORN ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY




Born March 16, 1906
Died on Feb 24, 1998


One evening back in the 1960s (I think it was) while strolling through the coffee shop at Las Vegas's The Mint casino, I spied Henny Youngman seated at a large table filled with drinks, surrounded of course by a bevy of beautiful female casino employees. I paused and eavesdropped on the conversation (monologue) for a minute or so. Sure enough he was easily as funny as he always had been on TV. And all of his jokes were snappy repetitions of the old reliables, such as "Take my wife... please!"

Note: I deleted the word "babes" and inserted "female casino employees" so as not to ruffle the feathers of overly sensitive feminists. As if I had any feminist (or any female) readers.

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George Will's latest Washington Post column reveals a possible halt to taxpayer funding of union salaries. Of course, if you do not care for the Washington Post or for George Will's opinions, you can just ignore it. But it is somewhat informative, in my questionably humble opinion.

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While admiring some of Dmitrii Lezine's beautiful photography I ran across the following phrase, "...because I thought it was cool and unique in its own way."

Since the maddeningly ubiquitous misuse of the word unique (which means one of a kind) is such a fiercely long-held obsession of mine, especially when adding a modifier of degree such as very unique (how can something be very one of a kind?) I was immediately driven to question the expression unique in its own way. So I hastened to get the opinions of others I trust for the question: Is unique in its own way grammatically correct?

Here is the most convincing response I received:

"Consider a stack of brand new one dollar bills. They all differ, but only by serial number. They are all unique in the same way.

"Now let Hanna von Goeler have one of the bills to work her magic on, converting the banal slip of linen into a bespoke art piece.

"Is this bill more unique than before? No, unique is unique... but in contrast to the rest of the stack, it is now unique in its own way."

That response was from the owner of Quarkscrew and in light of that clear and lucid explanation, I now believe unique in its own way is grammatically correct.

So, 'nuff said.


By the way, one of Dmitrii's many compelling photos caught me eye.


Seattle At Night

(Click photo for larger view)

A truly magnificent sight to see is that striking photograph.

Don't you agree?

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For NASA, space is still a high priority.
--Dan Quayle
Note:
The quote was originally meant as ridicule.
But it's not so ludicrous these days - right?