Archive for March, 2014

March 31, 2014

A Guide for the Amateur Car Chauffeur and How to Become a Limo Driver

The Playground

Image Courtesy of William Creswell

Want to be an amateur car chauffeur? Or maybe you want to know how to become a limo driver? If you want the latter, then you’ll probably want to be an amateur car chauffeur first, to gain the experience you need to become the limo driver of your dreams.

For the Amateur Car Chauffeur:

First off, an amateur car chauffeur needs a car to drive. But it can’t just be any car. If you own the car you’re driving, then you’ve already failed in your role as chauffeur. Chauffeurs never drive their own vehicles, so you’ll need to find another person’s car. The easiest, fastest, cheapest way to get someone else’s car is to steal it.

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March 31, 2014

The 42nd Street Hawker

sketching a story


Author’s Note: This essay received honorable mention in Notre Dame Magazine’s 2013 Young Alumni Essay contest. It was first published at

I have walked past Geoff nearly every day for a year.

After getting off the bus in Midtown Manhattan, I need to cut two avenues east and seven blocks north. I always choose the path that goes down 42nd Street that passes Geoff.

Forty-second Street at 9 a.m. is one of the black diamonds of New York terrain. Commuters and tourists alike unload from buses at Port Authority — the busiest bus terminal in the world — and mix like oil and water on the streets. They mostly move in one direction, streaming through the city’s concrete arteries towards Times Square, its thumping heart.

I hit my stride as I walk down 42nd, expertly swimming through the crowds, spying then slipping into open pockets of space…

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March 31, 2014

Feminism, It’ll Make You Millions.

March 31, 2014

Children of Lafaek: The People and Culture of Timor-Leste

March 31, 2014

The Midlife Moment of Truth

Ephemeral Memories

The clock marks the flow of time,

A circle of segmented reminders

Seconds become minutes, minutes merge into hours

Every day the sun rises, and usual routines fill up our calendars

Each innocuous day adds up to months, years into decades,

Instance by instance, layer after layer,

Time moves ever so smoothly, a continuous river

Never stopping, never pausing

The lull of seamless sequencing

An unsuspecting mind holds on to an image

And yet a sudden revelation of age

The grey strands that show up one morning from nowhere

A slight paunch that refuses to go anywhere

Eyes that miss the fine print,  one fine day

That sudden onset of decay

Age, a discontinuous awareness.

A grudging acceptance

The pushing game of peaks and plateaus

An invitation to mature,

To shake off the illusion of repair

To  see through the myth of reversal

To embrace the illusion of renewal.


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March 31, 2014

Writing—So Easy a Caveman Can Do It

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Sodanie Chea Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Sodanie Chea

Recently a Facebook friend shared a post with me regarding Indie Musicians versus Indie Authors. It appears our culture has a fascination and reverence for the Indie Musician whereas Indie Authors face an immediate stigma. We authors have to continually prove ourselves, whereas musicians don’t (at least not in the same way). My friend seemed perplexed, but to me it’s very simple.

We’re not even going to address the flood of “bad” books. Many writers rush to publish before they’re ready, don’t secure proper editing, etc. But I feel the issue is deeper and it reflects one of the many challenges authors face and always will.

People give automatic respect to a musician because not everyone can play an instrument or sing. Simple. It’s clear that artist can do something many cannot.

As writers, we have an insidious enemy. People…

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March 31, 2014

Bad Feminism

Claire Lehmann

“Pop-feminism,” as a movement, valorises feelings above reason, cynicism above hope. It has regressed to a point where anything at all, no matter how irrational or how narcissistic, can be celebrated as ‘feminist’.

Articles such as: I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorryor How Accepting Leggings as Pants Made Me a Better Feminist are shared wide and far on social media as feminist political statements.

Anyone can identify as a “feminist”. Even men who openly admit to domestic violence, such as Hugo Schwyzer. There are no boundaries, no benchmarks and no standards to which feminism will hold itself accountable.

It was not meant to be like this. In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft publishedThe Vindication of the Rights of Women. Her basic hypothesis was that women are capable of reason; just as men are. Yet because women are denied a…

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March 31, 2014

A copy editor’s daydream

Little Stories

It’s easy to get lost in the microcosm of your job and think that the rest of the world should be operating within your work-day paradigms. Today, for instance, I was editing an extremely poorly written blog post, and instead of whistling while I worked and cheerfully improving the piece, my to-author queries just started getting more and more touchy; I was enraged that such a person could exist, someone with such a paltry ability to form a solid sentence! With such little knowledge of punctuation and the difference between an em- and en-dash!

So I had to stop. Put it away. Breathe. Realize that I live in a weird, underground world that is detached from most people’s everyday reality. A world in which editors obsess over language precision and the correctness of a word for hours. A world in which you strive not to betray an author’s trust by…

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March 31, 2014

Radio XXXII, side A, track 12: “We Don’t Have To Be Over 21 (To Fall In Love)” by The Jackson 5

Mixed Tape Masterpiece

The Jackson 5 Oh, The Jackson 5 , I love this track for so many reasons, the main reason being that it kinda stinks.  It’s a crappy recording of another crappy recording of a song that’s not particularly good.  And I love it.  Of all the songs that were featured on the Now and Then Weekend , this is my favorite.  It’s the rawest and maybe even the rarest of the songs that were featured lo those many years ago, and were you a gambling man, if someone had bet you that the lead singer on this tune was going to be one of the biggest pop stars, if not THE biggest pop star, of all time, you would not have taken that bet, The Jackson 5.  The kid was all right, but the harmonies were rooooough, and coupled with the poor sound quality and a fairly mediocre song in general, there’s no…

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March 31, 2014

Am I Ms. Marvel?

Reviews by Lantern's Light

When I heard that there was going to be a new Muslim Ms. Marvel, I raced to my e-mail and requested it on WCBR. To be honest, I’m not completely sure why. You can find my review of the series here, but, if you’ll forgive some navel gazing, I wanted to take a moment to put down some more personal thoughts.

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March 31, 2014

Marlo Thomas: Free to Be… All These Years Later


It was only a giggle and five words, but it told us our work was cut out for us.

The year was 1974, and my friend, producer Carole Hart, and I were deep into creating a TV special based on our children’s LP that celebrated gender and racial equality. Filled with songs and stories and poems, the project encouraged kids to realize that their dreams were not only boundless, but achievable. Our title for the project: Free to Be…You and Me.

For one scene in the special, we’d decided to interview children about how they envisioned their lives one day. This segment, we felt, would underscore that people had to be taught to be sexist; and that little children had not yet been socialized with gender stereotypes.

“What would you like to be when you grow up?” we asked one precious, curly-headed preschooler, the tape rolling as we waited…

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March 31, 2014

Resignation Letter, Or, ‘The World’

The Philosophunculist

I just quit my job. Weeks before I knew I was going to quit, I wrote this resignation letter. Then, in the excitement of finally being able to quit, I forgot to bring it with me when I actually did quit. Balls. Not a big deal, though: it was purposely designed to confound, flummox, and bring about the general idea that I was somewhat unstable, thus making my hasty departure a point of concern rather than indignation.

The highfalutin verbiage and esoteric references would have been lost on the audience anyway. I mean, the one guy has had the same handlebar moustache for at least two decades. And last year, he didn’t even tell us when one of our coworkers was murdered by his girlfriend (Sadly, I didn’t make that up. She ran him over with her car. Management said not one word about it, to avoid giving people a day off for…

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March 31, 2014


March 31, 2014

God is….

Source of Inspiration

perfect flower5

The message is so
simple that we don’t
“get it!”

God is love
nothing more
nothing less.

And as we are
from God,
we are Love,
nothing more
nothing less.

“but, but, but…”
you cry, “so much
horror in the world.
How can we
be love?”

The seed is planted
in the ground and waits
to come forth
in all its beauty.

Water your seed
with Love and Light
and you will blossom
into a flower of love
in all its beauty

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March 31, 2014

#776 – This Ain’t Westeros

Sketches From Memory


It snowed again Sunday afternoon. Enough is enough, winter. Give it up already.

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March 31, 2014

The Readers — Alberto Magnelli

March 31, 2014

Climate Change Consensus Cools

PA Pundits - International

Bolt New 01 By Andrew Bolt ~

In time more scientists will not want their reputation sullied by association with alarmism:

One of the authors of a U.N. draft report on climate change pulled out of the writing team, saying his colleagues were issuing unfounded “alarmist” claims at the expense of real solutions.

“The drafts became too alarmist,” said Richard Tol, a Dutch professor of economics at Sussex University in England…

Mr. Tol was part of a team of 70 authors working on revisions to a U.N. report on climate change, to be issued in Japan on March 31. The final draft, which is the copy that Mr. Tol found objectionable, included findings that a warming global temperature will lead to disruption in food supplies and stagnating economies — and that coral reefs and lands in the Arctic may already have suffered irreversible damages…


I can see why Tol has quit. One…

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March 31, 2014

Lethally Cute


n6dUyfR I sure hope that this family does not have children because they just got some serious competition for the will.

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March 31, 2014

Dog teams searching mudslide debris given two-day break as death toll hits 21

March 31, 2014

Get Your Protein Up!

March 30, 2014

Russia sees no need for Ukraine incursion, Tatars seek autonomy

March 30, 2014

Florida Mom Starved and Tortured Her Eight Children: Cops

March 30, 2014

How sweet it is!

Russel Ray Photos

I livew in my own little world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I can’t tell y’all (that’s Texan for “you all” or “you”) how good it is to be able to go blog camping again.

Three months without a campout was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long!

The extreme speed of Internet Explorer 11, coupled with my reading speed (courtesy of Evelyn Woods back in 1973) and Dragon Naturally Speaking means that I might soon be back visiting 120 blogs each day and leaving LIKEs and comments all over the place.

Goodbye 2014 first quarter, hello 2014 second quarter!

Pelargonium (geranium) from my back yard garden yesterday:

IMG_3364 collage (Custom)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.


Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

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If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray

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March 30, 2014

Syrian rebels allowed to attack Latakia from Turkish soil under Turkish air cover. Iran raises Cain in Ankara

Syrian rebels allowed to attack Latakia from Turkish soil under Turkish air cover. Iran raises Cain in Ankara .
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 29, 2014, 10:45 PM (IST)
Intense fighting for Kasab in northwest Syria
Intense fighting for Kasab in northwest Syria

Turkey has ratcheted up its intervention in the Syrian war to an unprecedented level, according to exclusive debkafile military and intelligence sources.

For the first time in the three-year conflict the Turkish army is allowing Syrian rebel forces, including the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, passage through Turkish territory for their offensive to capture the northwestern Syrian coastal area where the Assad clan’s lands are situated.

Ankara’s support for the rebels is inclusive: Turkish troops are posted at the roadside with supplies of ammo, fuel, food, mechanical repair crews and medical aid for rebel forces as they head north. The Turkish air force gives them air cover and Turkish agents arm them with surveillance data on…

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March 30, 2014

Darina – Fun Wid Us

Fun wid us Blog

Photo Diary; _____________________________ Customizable Photoshop Actions for Amateur and Professional Photographers
by gokhanbartuportfolio
Entertainment Guaranteed

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March 30, 2014

PYRA-MIND – Fun Wid Us

Fun wid us Blog

View on BLACK is my recommendation. -Transamerica Pyramid – the tallest skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline. I’d been in San Francisco lately on business. I didn’t have much time to shoot, but tried some long exposures in the city. This is one of them. The first try failed due to lack of clouds. Gahh! S,F, had too good sky to long exposures. But the day before I left the city, I visited again there and there was some good clouds, and luckily I could managed to shoot some nice blurred sky. I am Happy the result. I’ll up load a few more shoots from S.F. in next. Hope you enjoy….
Entertainment Guaranteed

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March 30, 2014

Two-legged dog has time of his life during first trip to beach

March 30, 2014

Sinucigaș duminical


M-am cocoțat
Cu coatele pe fereastră
Și ascult gândurile
S-a muiat pământul
Și ele ies ca aburii
Din mațele lui
Doi se ceartă
Și-au crăpat capetele
Cu băutură
Unul plânge
După mă-sa
Ce femeie !
Parcă l-ar fi legat cu lanțuri
De țâțele ei
Unii încă sforăie
Și într-un colț
De Iad
Câțiva râd
De mine
De gândurile mele
Urlând după tine
Chiar și când zâmbesc
Ce femeie !
Parcă m-ai fi legat cu lanțuri
De frumusețea ta

Băăă !
Va ia mama dracu !
Dacă sar acum la voi
Până jos praf vă fac !

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March 30, 2014

Eat Me! Fail – LOL

Ralphie´s Portal

From Diane Macfarlane:

Oral hanky-panky could be difficult for this guy!!! (Proboscis Monkey)


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March 30, 2014

Who’s ready to Dance? :: Home made music videos for family time

Casey Darnell

“Me Without You” – by Toby Mac   *This was part of a daddy-daughter date

We have a fun thing going the last several years of making music videos.
They keep getting more involved as I get better at IMovie but mostly we make the motions up, then randomly drop what we’re doing, flip the iphone around and press play on iTunes.  It’s that simple.
I posted more below but here’s a few reasons why we do this:

ONE.   It’s silly FUN and a super easy activity to do with your kids.
TWO.   My wife is Canadian and her family all lives there, so this is a way to keep them involved.
THREE.  Ava helps me lead these kind of songs at Lighthouse Family Retreat,  so it’s a learning moment for her, making the BIG picture connection with what her dad does, the content of the…

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March 19, 2014

The faces of highly followed philosophers on Twitter

March 19, 2014

The Wisest Movie of Last Year Isn’t Nominated for Any Oscars

god is not elsewhere / some conversation about movies, art, politics and spirituality with gareth higgins


There’s a moment toward the end of ‘Stories We Tell’, the Canadian actor Sarah Polley’s hybrid reconstruction-documentary-group therapy session, that I think may stay with me forever.  At least I hope it will, so wise is its appreciation of the work of being human, the hope of moving beyond past failures and sorrow, and the invitation each of us receives to make a life as a participant in something much larger than ourselves.  Call it the out-working of the redemption of humanity, call it being etched into the Panorama of Being, call it the pursuit of happiness – whatever it is, Sarah Polley’s dad knows what he’s talking about when he says ‘You can’t outrun the mask of comedy.’

An actor with distinguished theatrical form, Michael Polley had reached the beginning of his ninth decade when Sarah decided to make a film about their family experience.  The less you know…

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March 19, 2014

Why The Oscars Do Not Matter, or: A Look Back at 1975

Hollywood in Retrospect


Voting has closed.  Price-Waterhouse is counting the ballots.  On Sunday night, we will find out who won the 86th annual Academy Awards.  On Monday, most people will forget who won, except for the people who make it their business to never forget (Harvey Weinstein, I’m looking at you.)  And given the hurt feelings, rivalries, and “How-the-fuck-could-they-ignore-XYZ-but-award-ABC” reactions that will become inevitable over time, I need to remind you guys of something really important:


That’s right.  You heard me.  I, the person who in fifth grade memorized every winner in just about all the major categories, am here to remind you all that these awards do not matter.  Sure, they matter in that it’s fun, and that getting them means you’ll be king/queen for a day, and you have a beautifully designed trophy to put on your mantle.  But seriously, whether or not the person…

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March 19, 2014

Exploring regional listening preferences

Music Machinery

In previous posts we looked at how gender and age can affect listening preferences. Today we take a look at how the location of a listener may affect their listening preferences.


For this study, I sampled the listening preferences of about a quarter million listeners that have a zip code associated with their account. update: Listener data is drawn from a variety of music streaming services that are powered by The Echo Nest. I aggregated these listeners into regions (state, regional and all-US). To compare regions I look at the top-N most popular artists  based upon listener plays in each region and look for artists that have a substantial change in rank between the two regions. These artists are the artists that define the taste for the region.

As an example let’s compare Tennessee to New England. If we look at the top 100 artists listened to in Tennessee and…

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March 19, 2014

Why I still don’t think Russia wants to annex the Crimea

In Moscow's Shadows

RussiansCrimea It’s a risky thing, making such predictions in the middle of a fast-changing and frankly confusing situation, when we have reportedly a couple of thousand troops being airlifted into the peninsula and local premier Aksenov claiming control over all forces in the area (does he mean Russian ones too? I very much doubt it, or if he thinks he controls them then I imagine it means “he controls them so long as he happens to be telling them to do what Moscow wants them to do”). Nonetheless, let me stick out my neck and say why, excitable headlines notwithstanding, I don’t think Russia is about to annex the Crimea, let alone occupy eastern Ukraine.

1. Russia already ‘has’ Crimea in the ways that matter to it.Crimea has considerable autonomy, the Black Sea Fleet presence is guaranteed by treaty until 2042 if I remember correctly, and there is massive political…

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March 19, 2014

My fish are dead*

Escaping Elegance

Art by Allie Brosh Art by Allie Brosh

WARNING: If you are my mother, you may want to skip this post.

March is next week and I’ve just uncovered a pile of unopened Christmas cards in the kitchen drawer. I had a rough winter and things that I couldn’t face were pushed aside. If I open those cards, I’ll have to acknowledge the relationships they hold. Concede that there are people who care, have to care for them in return.

Life isn’t as easy to shove away as those colourful envelopes.

There have been too many lies in my life. I lie to cover-up my feelings and I lie to make people go away. Eventually the lies become too many; too many to keep track of and too many to care about. The lies are my shield, but they make me tired.

When I get too tired, I just want it all to…

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March 19, 2014

The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying

The Accidental Missionary

*Writers note:  After reading your comments, I have been moved to revise the following piece.  In a post where the main point is to encourage others to be aware of how our choice of words can get in the way of conveying our true intent, I realize the irony that my choosing to refer to my lack of understanding of God’s purpose as “dumb luck” caused some folks to miss the meaning of the post itself.  Silly me.  While people may still disagree, I think this slightly revised version better captures my honest intent.

I was on the phone with a good friend the other day.  After covering important topics, like disparaging each other’s mothers and retelling semi-factual tales from our college days, our conversation turned to the mundane.

“So, how’s work going?” he asked.

For those of you who don’t know, I make money by teaching leadership skills and…

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March 19, 2014

A Muslim Response to Barbie’s Open Letter

March 19, 2014

A Muslim Response to Barbie’s Open Letter

March 12, 2014

Date Ideas That Will Tell You Exactly What Kind of Psychopath You’re With

March 12, 2014

A Break-up Letter to Matt Walsh

The Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism

mg5gfcsDear Matt Walsh,

It’s not you. It’s me.

Or was it the other way around? Yeah, that. It’s totally you.

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March 12, 2014

In a Kiev that might as well have existed one thousand years ago

Natalia Antonova

I realized that outside of time, the Kiev that exists today and the Kiev that existed a thousand years ago is the same.

I also realized the other day that you need a glimmer of happiness inside you to be able to tell sad stories – so that you have perspective.

The act of telling itself is dependent on timing. It’s the wrong time to tell the story I am about to tell you.

Of course, it helps that it isn’t really a story. It’s just another pattern stitched somewhere on the sleeve of the universe.

In this pattern, I am younger and I am a blonde instead of a redhead. There is a hand holding my blond ponytail. That hand is twisted away by another hand.

It’s summer in Kiev, it’s a national holiday (or there was just a concert downtown, or football – right away, there are parts…

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March 12, 2014

The F-word: Then and Now

Katherine Miller

In 1968, Gloria Biggs was the executive women’s editor at TODAY, a Gannett newspaper in Coco, Florida. She wrote a column headlined “To Catch a Woman” for a trade publication in which she provided advice about how women’s newspaper sections could cater more successfully to target readers. In the penultimate paragraph she noted:

I’d like to emphasize that I’m not a feminist. I’m not like that early 20th Century suffragette leader who gave a discouraged follower some advice: “Call on God, my dear! She will help you!” I’m not a feminist. I’m glad to have men run the show.

Years later, when Gloria donated her papers to the Women and Journalism archive at the University of Missouri, she affixed a post-it note to this page that read, “Nancy – I wince when I read the lines above on not being a feminist but then realize that in 1968…

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March 12, 2014

Somebody Saved Me Today: But Who?


I was driving innocently today. I had just dropped off my two oldest children in Stafford, VA to go back with their father. I was in my Prius compact car, enjoying the winter wind through my window, while listening to Zak Bagans’ song “In My Dungeon”…

Sidebar (see brilliance below):

I noticed out of the corner of my right eye – an 18 wheeler on the exit ramp coming onto Interstate 95 South.

Have you ever been to Virginia? On Interstate 95? Wacko drivers. Avoid it. 

Still enthralled in listening to my favorite song of my very brilliant idol I noticed something was off.

This 18 wheeler had nothing on the back of his bed. His bed was high. He was coming off of the exit ramp at a good 50 MPH. I was in the middle lane. It struck me then like something out of an 80’s sitcom when…

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March 12, 2014

Reflections on the Ukraine

From the mind of Chris Terry

Own Photo The Maidan in Peace. Own Photo

Like many of you, I am now watching the videos and images coming out of Ukraine, following it on my twitter account and watching it on youtube links.

The images of fire and smoke, Ukrainian flags flying, protesters chanting and tents of the Euromaidan are all the more potent for me because I have seen Independence Square in peace.

In 2012 I went to Ukraine to observe the parliamentary election. The election had been quiet and boring, with a sense of resignation of an inevitable victory by President Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

I went to Independence Square.  I saw a quiet and beautiful square, with people wandering to and from shops. Underground there are further shops, and I got lost nearby looking for some friends who’d gone to a nearby restaurant.

I went further afield, being posted to Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine’s third largest city, an…

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March 12, 2014

Google Is My Co-Pilot.

The Lemonade Chronicles


How did anyone survive without Google?  I almost can’t fathom it.  

If I think about my own, personal use of Internet searches, the bar graphs would be short at first.  Little toes in the water here and there, mostly for fun or curiosity.  No real conception of how powerful is the tool.  I’d searched on Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves, Altavista, Hotbot, Excite, and probably some others I’ve long since forgotten.  But those searches were sure so mundane.  So pedestrian.  “Good Halloween Costume,” maybe.  Or, “Red Sox Schedule.” 

I didn’t realize the unbreakable magnetism Google held over my life, really, until we got a puppy last May.  That little black furry creature brought a whole bundle of “what the hells” with her.  And a whole new epoch of ridiculous-in-retrospect search queries began.  

I’m savvy enough to have long-since discarded lengthy queries with proper sentence structure and punctuation.  I haven’t asked…

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