BenTha'er-Horizons

Old WWI Photos

I have mentioned similar information on the blog in past days about World War I. I have numerous books and photo books of the history of World War I, the war to end all wars. There was a recent story about some photos that have come to light about this War. These photos can be accessed here.
Many individuals experiences in that war shaped their future achievements-- C.S. Lewis, Rudyard Kipling, J.R. Tolkien. Novels such as by Sebastian Faulk can give a feel of what soldiers experienced in that troubling time.
Here is a description from C.S. Lewis:
Although Lewis rarely spoke of his war experiences, he did touch on the subject in his 1955 partial autobiography “Surprised by Joy:

Through the winter, weariness and water were our chief enemies. I have gone to sleep marching and woken again and found myself marching still. One walked in the trenches in thigh gum boots with water above the knee; one remembers the icy stream welling up inside the boot when you punctured it on concealed barbed wire.
Familiarity both with the very old and the very recent dead confirmed that view of corpses which had been formed the moment I saw my dead mother.
I came to know and pity and reverence the ordinary man: particularly dear Sergeant Ayres, who was (I suppose) killed by the same shell that wounded me. I was a futile officer (they gave commissions too easily then), a puppet moved about by him, and he turned this ridiculous and painful relation into something beautiful, became to me almost like a father.
But for the rest, the war – the frights, the cold, the smell of H. E. (high explosives), the horribly smashed men still moving like half-crushed beetles, the sitting or standing corpses, the landscape of sheer earth without a blade of grass, the boots worn day and night till they seemed to grow to your feet – all this shows rarely and faintly in memory. It is too cut off from the rest of my experience and often seems to have happened to someone else.
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Missed The Titanic

The Smithsonian also had another article on their site about seven important people who missed sailing on the Titanic and therefore, lived. One was Theodore Dreiser, an author of An American Tragedy, a novel that was the source for the movie, A Place in the Sun. I bring this up after seeing a web page that discussed who they considered the top 10 horrible of the horrible people in novels. The male figure in the Dreiser novel is one who comes to mind when he kills his fiancé to be with another woman he fancies better.
Also, one of the seven is Marconi, the pioneer in wireless radio signals. We visited the site on Cape Breton Island, Glace Bay, where Marconi had his wireless tower located on this side of the Atlantic. Read about it here.
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Into The Wild

Fascinating story online on the Smithsonian Magazine website about a family of Old Believers, a religious group in the Soviet Union, who retreated deep into the forests of Siberia prior to World War II. They were not noticed until 1978 when petroleum engineers were exploring energy producing sites. The family had not had contact with anyone in the outside world for almost 40 years. They lived off the land and often were starving as a result. The mother did die of starvation when a long, cold Siberian spring damaged any food crop they had.
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Cape Kiwanda

The rain is coming down hard today and it is snowing heavily in the mountains. So it makes for a nice thought to reflect back to a sunny day at the Oregon Coast. It is always striking to visit Pacific Beach and Cape Kiwanda. If there is time, the restaurant and brewery close by is a good place to relax and have tasty food.

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What Does It Matter Anyway?

Mark Steyn is one of my favorite people to read. He has a way of skewering people with a mix of subtle sarcasm contrasted with the truth. This article is a classic demonstrating how people’s lips are moving, yet what they seem to say is not back up by the reality of what they really do. It is all normal in our national seat of government. Sigh!
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Eradicate Cats?

Some fellow wants the people of New Zealand to make their current cat their last one. It is to protect the birds and native habitat. He is also fine with euthanizing them. I do not believe I will put him on my Christmas card list. You can read about this cat hater here.
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Vocabulary

Years ago, I went to see Charleton Heston speak in Walnut Creek. It was fascinating and he discussed at that time you need to know English to advance in this world (so much business and art occurs in English). This article talks about a version of that concept. Those who have larger vocabularies know and can do more.

So there’s a positive correlation between a student’s vocabulary size in grade 12, the likelihood that she will graduate from college, and her future level of income. The reason is clear: vocabulary size is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational attainments and abilities—not just skill in reading, writing, listening, and speaking but also general knowledge of science, history, and the arts.
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Motivation

Sometimes I feel a bad trait I have is lack of motivation (along with procrastination. I have to fight against both. I have developed techniques against procrastination. I cannot say the same for motivation. Here is a link to nine easy ways to stay motivated.
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Us Versus Them

There have been a number of articles about how the administration wants to push more for a state of collectivism. We ALL work together to achieve our goals and do great things. I disagree that there is a collectivism theme. I think there is more an “us versus them” theme. Splitting into different interest groups and pitting those who count against the stupid, little people who don’t. It is sad and it is discouraging. We lose our liberty and freedom, our sense of who were are. One discussion of a similar vein is found here.
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Smart Cat

I like to believe that people know how smart cats are. They just don’t like to rub it in and let us in on the secret. This webpage shows how smart one cat is in the shell game. We should send this cat to a baseball game and let it pick the right “shell” when this is done on the Jumbotron. I also went through the 10 videos of cats opening doors. I liked the one where all the little dogs stood around eager to have a door opened and can’t do it, while the cat present finally does it for them. See, they know how to show their value when it is necessary.
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Stuck on Stupid

Today is the inauguration ceremony day. This is the day of parades and parties in Washington DC, speeches and public involvement. I will not be viewing, celebrating, or participating in any manner. This is a day to me that demonstrates we really are “stuck on stupid” and picked a man who will reap on the American people what he sows in policies. I see a drift in totalitarian type government and a makers versus takers entitlement culture. Our constitutional freedoms are up for grabs as we go along. If we don’t know what the rules are, we will be adrift as a country in time and will only know the rules put down by the Leader-In-Charge. Scary thing. A number of articles came out today on how our economy and politics are being driven to look more European in nature. One such article is here, another here. Will many of the people living in the United States come to look like this.
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They Vote

I noticed an interesting blog about that had video showing how when some people were interviewed about the inauguration days before it happened (today is the official day), they could describe what the inauguration was like the night before. This is disconcerting because these people vote and their votes could count toward serious policy issues and changes in this country. Yet, they are not paying attention nor are aware of what is happening around them or just make it up. The blog piece is here.
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Single Malts

An interesting story about how they found rare bottles of scotch whiskey beneath the floor boards of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s expedition base. It is an interesting story about what they did with them.

Talk about whisky on ice: Three bottles of rare, 19th century Scotch found beneath the floor boards of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackelton's abandoned expedition base were returned to the polar continent Saturday after a distiller flew them to Scotland to recreate the long-lost recipe…..Bottled in 1898 after the blend was aged 15 years, the Mackinlay bottles were among three crates of Scotch and two of brandy buried beneath a basic hut Shackleton had used during his dramatic 1907 Nimrod excursion to the Antarctic. The expedition failed to reach the South Pole but set a record at the time for reaching the farthest southern latitude. Shackelton was knighted after his return to Great Britain.

old scotch whiskey
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Vocabulary

A note on some old and very much less used collective nouns. These are legitimate uses and have been written up and used in the past. A few prime examples……..
1. Business of Ferrets
33. Parliament of Owls
43. An Impatience of Wives
47. A Neverthriving of Jugglers

You can read all about the list and improve your knowledge and vocabulary here with 50 collective nouns.
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General Lee

I have written in this blog about General Grant. His opposite in the Civil War was General Robert E. Lee. No question another leader who inspires leadership and devotion from the people he led. An example mentioned….

To invoke such a presence, to feel it like old music always new, invariably gives pause. The young officer in Stephen Vincent Benet's "John Brown's Body" pauses before he enters Lee's tent to deliver his dispatch. Looking at the shadow of the figure within bent over his papers, knowing that The War is inevitably winding down, the messenger can only wonder:

What keeps us going on? I wish I knew. Perhaps you see a man like that go on. And then you have to follow.

To read more about this, look here.
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19th Century Germany

To look at some fascinating images/photos from 19th century Germany, the webpage can be found here. I have visited Germany and the city of Berlin. I will have to scan my slide of the Brandenburg Gate to compare to the photo of the Gate from that older time period.

Brandenburg Gate
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Romany History

In the 1990s, Bob and I made a trip to Devon by way of Salisbury and Winchester. We traveled down a busy main 2 lane road that headed toward Exeter. We were faced at one point with a fascinating spectacle not seen here in the United States. In the opposite lane approaching us was a Romany wagon being pulled by 2 horses and lead by a Romany man, young, with his family in the wagon. Behind the wagon, there was a long line of cars waiting for an opportunity to pass. The present rushing to meet the past and go beyond. A clash of cultures. I will never forget that scene because of the contrast and seeing history coming up to meet us.

For an interesting discussion of how the Romany migrated from northwest India to Europe and how they have been able to track that migration through genetics, please read here.
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Greenland

Being a fan of history and also having visited Scandinavia, I found this article on what archeologists have discovered what they believe are the reasons the Viking settlements were abandoned in Greenland in the late 15th century. They do not believe it was due to starvation and disease but more due to economic and identity issues. For the full article, go here.

So, if it wasn't starvation or disease, what triggered the abandonment of the Greenland settlements in the second half of the 15th century? The scientists suspect that a combination of causes made life there unbearable for the Scandinavian immigrants. For instance, there was hardly any demand anymore for walrus tusks and seal skins, the colony's most important export items. What's more, by the mid-14th century, regular ship traffic with Norway and Iceland had ceased.

As a result, Greenland's residents were increasingly isolated from their mother countries. Although they urgently needed building lumber and iron tools, they could now only get their hands on them sporadically. "It became more and more difficult for the Greenlanders to attract merchants from Europe to the island," speculates Jette Arneborg, an archeologist at the National Museum of Denmark, in Copenhagen. "But, without trade, they couldn't survive in the long run."

The settlers were probably also worried about the increasing loss of their Scandinavian identity. They saw themselves as farmers and ranchers rather than fishermen and hunters. Their social status depended on the land and livestock they owned, but it was precisely these things that could no longer help them produce what they needed to survive.

Although the descendants of the Vikings had adjusted to life in the north, there were limits to their assimilation. "They would have had to live more and more like the Inuit, distancing themselves from their cultural roots," says Arneborg. "This growing contradiction between identity and reality was apparently what led to their decline."

Greenland stone home
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Guns and Tyranny

So much focus has been recently on guns--whether we need more control and more laws doing so or whether we should hold to our rights under the Second Amendment. I am not a huge gun person, especially handguns. I am known in the family to want less of their use for protection of myself or others. Yet, I am concerned about our rights under the Constitution and the impact of losing them slowly or quickly. It is easy, unfortunately, to see how tyranny can take over. Many do not understand that it can happen and scoff at the possibility. I saw this blog article that showed how not only it can happen here, it has happened here in some form or another. The most recent example is the man who posted the YouTube video about Mohammed. They came for him at night and he is quickly in jail for probation violation. Not the usual suspect for quick incarceration according to those in the legal field, yet there he sits.
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Energy costs and poverty

2011 seemed to be the year of the 99% versus the 1%. I am totally opposed to class warfare in any way shape or form or language. I did read this interesting blog article about what the poor and truly poor live with day in and day out. Almost all of us who live in the United States are in the global 1% based on this article’s premise. The poor survive on so very little in money and that when our leaders talk about how it is OK for energy prices to rise, they don’t think about how that rise can have such a true impact on the poor. It is not rhetoric but reality. Well written and food for thought, the article is here.
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Cats and Women

This study is from 2011, though I only noticed it in a blog article today. Anything that relates to how cats and humans interact is of interest, especially even better if related to women. This article is about how cats adore and manipulate their female owners. Now who would say that!

While cats have plenty of male admirers, and vice versa, this study and others reveal that women tend to interact with their cats — be they male or female felines — more than men do.

“In response, the cats approach female owners more frequently, and initiate contact more frequently (such as jumping on laps) than they do with male owners,” co-author Manuela Wedl of the University of Vienna told Discovery News, adding that “female owners have more intense relationships with their cats than do male owners.”


kitten
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More Family Beach

While at the Oregon coast I like to take a lot of photos. The ocean waves look great though photos also need interaction and activity, so getting photos of families or pets can add a bit. One set of photos I took the first day where of a family with two little boys who were enjoying running in the sand with their father (when they weren’t hanging close to mom). Enjoy!

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Land and Transport

Being a history buff and married to a person who has a Masters in Agricultural Economics and background in transportation, I found this article fascinating to read. In Canada, farms were laid out in ribbon-like pattern along a transportation route. This was developed by Cardinal Richelieu in the 1600s.

The transportation-centric layout of ribbon farms in North America traces its roots back to medieval times. When France was trying to stabilize its colonial foothold in the New World back in the 17th century, Cardinal Richelieu (an adviser to the king and powerhouse in French politics) hatched a plan. To encourage more intensive settlement, he parceled the land similarly to the way it was divided in France: in long, thin strips oriented perpendicularly to a transportation route – which in Nouvelle France was primarily the St. Lawrence River.

This concept was different in the United States where the land was plotted and the transport systems brought to it as described here……

Much of arable North America, however, was not allocated in ribbon farms. The Public Land Survey System carved up large portions of the United States into one square mile sections, each of which were subdivided to create farms and aggregated to form townships. Canada adopted a similar system, the Dominion Land Survey, for its prairie states.

So when the U.S. started with square farms, the process and the results were the exact opposite from ribbon farms: We plotted the farms first and then pondered the logistics. It’s therefore no surprise that Americans feel transportation should come to us instead of the other way around. We pick a place to live and then figure out how to get where we need to go. If no way exists, we build it: roads, arterials, highways, interstates … and so on.

ribbon farms
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When Do We Get There?

Most people who have children should know the refrain, “When do we get there?” My children, especially Scott, was great at asking that question about every 5 minutes on a trip from our home then in Walnut Creek California to family in Oregon.
It is amazing how quickly we can be in one place and later in the day, it seems halfway around the world. London in the morning and San Francisco in the early evening, when it would take days or weeks in the past. Of course, with all the TSA headaches of flight in these days, it can seem to be drug out and exhausting when it is so much better than in the past. I noticed a webpage that showed how long it took to go from one location to another at different times in our history. The information can be found here. Happy journeys!

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Best Sitcoms

Conversation can be a lifeline and lifeblood within our lives. One can learn so much about people and new ideas through stimulating conversation. Listen to the person next to you, don’t overlook them or dismiss them. A great way to get conversation going is to ask a “Who is” or a “What is” type of question. Certainly, I would imagine there would be a lot of discussion over what are the top 100 sitcom episodes of all time. Certainly, one writer has a list here. Number One on his list is a good one: Never Bathe on Saturday from the Dick Van Dyke show in 1965.

His Number Two is actually my favorite and part of a series that I saw in a British paper listing the top British comedies of all times--Fawlty Towers. The episode in question is titled, “Communication Problems”. I was dying laughing watching this the first time. Basil Fawlty’s interaction over “missing money” with an older woman with a hearing problem was superb. The other episode in their list from this series is “The Germans”. Bob and I still will look at each other and say, “Don’t mention Z-War!” We stayed in the late 1990s at the Lewtrenchard Inn in Devon England. There were two German men eating dinner in the hotel’s dining room who could substitute for the German men in this episode. Basil Fawlty brought it all in focus for us. Life is the basis for sitcoms, just look at Seinfeld.

The Conversation
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A Little Bit of Sun

The sun did come out this morning and it feels so nice. Yesterday was a gray, gloomy day. David came out with Nicolas yesterday and Nicolas, the Pirate Master, had fun playing pirates and swords with Grandpa Bob. I was beaned a few times during the battles. Now, I need to wonder if Oscar the Cat is doing any plotting based on what was noted in this following photo.

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Hello, Bookstores Again

Are printed books dead? Is reading left to just e-readers? Have bookstores gone the way of the dodo bird?
While I think e-readers have their place and I like to use them, I do talk to people about books and many still love the feel of a printed book. When you drill down discussions about what is successful as a business, one thing that always seems to stand out---relationships. if you make it about relationships and what is unique, you have a chance to make your idea or project work. People want to connect and also feel they are doing so with what was special to them at some point in their lives. I enjoy the art of reading (though I seem to achieve less of it these days) and have linked to an article here about reading. I also noted this wonderful article about how an author opened with another book enthusiast a newly successful bookstore in Nashville when two prior bookstores had closed. She was told bookstores are dead and no longer will exist……..e-readers and Amazon is the future. She is showing the fallacy to that and how people are looking for the unique relationship books can have in our lives.

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Visitors

A couple of interesting shots while staying at the coast. Our room faced a vacation home on the side of a dune hill next to the hotel. The family had placed a couple of “Andy” and “Annie” figures in the window much as if they were looking back at the snoopy neighbors, like us.

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A beautiful wave roll…………..
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Coast Goodbye

Packed up the latter part of the morning for the trip home. I did try to keep my eyes open for some photo opportunities. While I got the colors of the sunset in the waves last night, we also had a bit of a colorful sunrise and colors in the waves this morning. The moon was also on the descent above the sunrise and made for an interesting take for the morning.

_DSC5270Sunrise through the waves


_DSC5254Sunrise moon
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Birthdays

Today is a big 61 for me. A quiet day at the coast going down to Depoe Bay to get fudge and salt water taffy. Later after lunch we drove up to Pacific City and Cape Kiwanda. It is always beautiful there. Sunny today though windy and cold when out on the beach. The rock is so iconic for the Oregon coast. The end of the day brought Les Miserables, the movie. What a sad joy the story and music are. One Day More………….I Dreamed a Dream…

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2013

We rang in the New Year with those people in New York City. Probably with those in Chicago though not with those on the West Coast. Pretty quiet here out on the farm.
We are going to spend the day enjoying some personal interests and trying to relax. A foggy start to the day though it is to be sunny at some point. Happy New Year!

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