Thursday, November 21, 2013

Process of Journey (poem)

Brook by Andrea E. Feeser
If I told you what I see,
Would you believe me?
If you opened-up your ears,
Would you hear?
The world is all around you.
There is nothing left to fear.

Reach-out your hand, I'll guide you.
The colors are so bright.
Don't lose the path before you
To the darkness of your sight.


Faith, it was forgotten,
Or distorted in the glass.
Beyond the water's surface,
You'll find your moor, at last.

In time, to cast adrift
Into the fresh unknown.
Unfurl the sails and loosen
All knots that held you stone.

Embark upon the ocean
Into the starry night;
Through the stormy tempest
Onto breaking light.

If I told you what I see
Would you believe me?
If you opened-up your ears,
Would you hear?
The world is all around you.
There is nothing left to fear.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Octavius Catto - Why have I never heard of him?

I was looking up a location on Google Maps for the Philadelphia area, when I found a marker for "Octavius Cato grave". It was the only specific marker in the list; the others being cemeteries and public transportation stops. Curious, I clicked on it (especially since I've never heard of Octavius Catto).

The top of his memorial stone reads "The Forgotten Hero", and this is definitely true. I wish they would have at least mentioned him in high school American history class. He was a leader of the civil rights movement of the 1800's, tirelessly fought for voting rights for blacks, was headmaster of what is now Cheyney University, served as a Major in the Union Army in the Civil War and was assassinated on election day in front of a polling place in Philadelphia! If all that isn't enough to keep him off the "forgotten" list, I don't know what is. Yes, I got all that information from his memorial stone. But I intend to learn more about him. I have found links to a book about Catto (Tasting Freedom by Daniel R. Biddle and Murray Dubin), information about him on ushistory.org, and a biography of him on Temple University's website. All of which I intend to read, the latter two as soon as I am done typing this blog post.

His sheer volume of accomplishments is astounding. (My glances at the other links have gleaned the additional information that he was a founder of an all-black baseball team.) If not for the Internet, I may have never heard of this great American hero!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Notable Movies of 2012



Best Movie: Act of Valor


Best Comedy: The Watch

Best Horror or Thriller: The Cabin in the Woods

Summer Blockbuster: Prometheus

Best Cinematography: Skyfall

Best Special Effects: Prometheus

Most over-hyped: Cloud Atlas

Disappointing sequel: Skyfall

Pointless Remake: Red Dawn (still enjoyable, though)

Just for Fun: Rock of Ages

Most Innovative: The Cabin in the Woods

Better than expected: Seven Psychopaths

Best Car (and Motorcycle!) Chase: The Bourne Legacy

Best Actor: Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)

Best Actress: (No Entry)

Best Animated Film: Brave

Best Action Sequence: Fight between the USS Missouri and the mothership in Battleship

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Technology, at a Cost

There's something that's been on my mind for the past several months. It has been constantly gnawing at me. The resulting ache has left me with two choices: give-in to the hopelessness or try to do something about it. The latter comes with a myriad of questions. Not the least of which, how can anything be done about so huge a problem?

What is this all-consuming issue? Intelligence...or the lack thereof. It is becoming increasingly obvious that our society is becoming, for lack of a better term, stupid. Our modern technology, at its increasing advancement, is enabling this stupidity. Of course, it's not happening all at once, but in small turns (the proverbial frog slowly boiling in a pot of water).

Just consider this one set of examples. First of all, cursive handwriting has been slowly dying-out. It is not taught in many schools. Two of my sons (only one of whom is still in high school) have never been taught handwriting. They cannot read cursive handwriting. That's fun for me, of course. If I want to write something that I don't want them to be able to read, I just write it in cursive.

This, in itself, seems harmless enough. Indeed, most communication is done electronically and, therefore, typed onto a keyboard or similar device. It is harmless, until we consider the next progression. Technology's main goal has always been to make processes easier whenever possible.

There is a recent Windows 8 commercial which depicts users tracing photographs with their fingers. They are using a photo password. The user can chose to create a photo password instead of a keyed-in password. Sure it is a far cry from illiteracy, but it is another step on the path.

Modern Western culture values immediacy. The ability to look-up anything at any time on the Internet gives the illusion of intelligence. The knowledge is there, if you know where to look, but the mind must be trained in logic, deduction, history, etc. Knowledge without intelligence is flat and dead. What can you create with knowledge, if you do not possess the intelligence to explore it, test it and consider new options?

I'm not saying there is immediate danger, but I don't like where this is headed. How to fix it? What to do about it? I don't know. Is there a viable way to promote the pursuit of intelligence? Is there a way to make it more desirable than its effortless alternative? Can we ensure that our progeny will continue that pursuit? I don't have the answers, but I'm looking. Otherwise, I'll just forget about it and keep playing my video games.


References:
Windows 8: Sign in with a Smile - commercial
Boiling Frog Myth
Mom, What was Handwriting? - article/interview of author Philip Hensher, Boston Globe,

Friday, October 05, 2012

Who Won the Presidential Debate?

Who won the presidential debate? That seems to be the main question bandied about in the wake of the October 3rd debate between President Obama and Governor Romney. And the general consensus seems to be that Mitt Romney won.

However, there is more to this debate than that simple question. Clearly President Obama could have done a lot better, but the big surprise is how well Governor Romney performed. He had been vague on his campaign policies, and that vagueness did show-up in this debate, but he had a better over-all strategy for his policies than in the previous several month. And, I'm sure, his recent release of semi-candid remarks had sparked many people to watch the debate simply to see if he would verbally misstep again.

President Obama, it was evident, was prepared to debate on some of the few points of policy that Governor Romney had brought-up along his campaign trail. However, that was no help to the President and he was found floundering, as Governor Romney debated in favor of his new policy ideas.

All this being said, Governor Romney showed himself to be a much better contender than was previously evident. If President Obama prepares himself better for the next debate, which I am sure he will-and with the help of his aids-then we should have a quite interesting and lively debate when they meet again on October 16th.

A side note: It was very refreshing to see how the candidates were so congenial with each other at the debate on October 3rd-a definite change from previous years. Let's hope that continues.

Links: 2012 Presidential Debate Schedule

Monday, August 13, 2012

He or She? His or Her?

Which is correct? Or are both correct? I am writing an article in which I reference the reader's child. I am finding myself writing "his or her" and "he or she", etc. It used to be the practice to write the masculine form to include both male and female. Somewhere around the 70's or 80's, "he/she" and "him/her" began to crop-up amongst the "he"s and "him"s. Then, in the 1990's, writers began using the feminine to refer to both. Is there an accepted form for modern writing? What does the reader prefer, generally? If I settle on a particular set, am I making a statement (if inadvertently)?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Looking for Advice on Anecdotes vs. Generalities

I am working on an article about patient advocacy. I have come to a point in the article where I am not sure which "road" to take. I can either give anecdotes from my personal experience or just write in general terms. There are pros and cons for each, but I am particularly curious about two things.

The first, which do readers relate to better. Would they feel an affinity with my story and understand what I am trying to convey through that means? Or would they have difficulty relating it to what they may be experiencing? If so, does that mean generalities would communicate more effectively?

Secondly, which approach does the audience actually prefer? In other words, is there any data that shows which technique leads to greater readership.

I welcome any and all comments on this subject. I will continue in researching this on my own, as well.

Back to writing...

Monday, August 06, 2012

Writing

I'm trying to streamline my writing process-or, at least, get it going on a regular schedule. I just cleaned-off the desk in my bedroom and set it up with the tools I need for writing. Of course, I have pens, pencils, reference books, a desk lamp and space for my computer. But I also have a few things that inspire me: three antique books, my Baby Ben clock, and some hand-made items from my kids.

I picked-up a book called Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen. Of course, I have been doing some freelance writing for a while, but nothing that could be considered close to living wages. When I paged through the book, I saw many things I already new about (such as writing query letters, basics of writing articles, etc.). However, I also saw a few subjects I could use some improvement on (finding timely subject matter, exploring the market), as well as others that I had previously not considered (for example: strategies for marketing articles).

I am hoping that, by blogging about this process, I will encourage myself to continue and not give up. Perhaps, it will encourage others as well.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Prometheus: The Questions it Inspires

Warning: Spoiler Alert regarding the movie Prometheus.

My husband and I went to see the movie Prometheus yesterday. While the story was, for the most part, predictable, I found it incredibly fascinating. The stunning cinematography and the realistic visual effects drew me in, but the psychology of the story and the interaction of the characters are still haunting my thoughts.

One of the questions I have from viewing the film is centered on the character David. David is the artificial life form that watches over the crew during the years-long voyage of the ship Prometheus and aids the human members in various tasks. While he can emulate the appearance of different emotions, he supposedly does not experience them. Also, we are led to believe, he does not do things based on his own decisions. He can make decisions, but they are always to serve the programming and mission requirements that are given him.

At one point, he finds a black, organic, viscous material. After a conversation with Dr. Holloway, he puts a small amount of this material into a drink that he gives Dr. Holloway. My question is this: did he do this because he was instructed to (or in order to accomplish his mission, etc.), or did he choose this action as an experiment on his own-to see what would happen?

My husband thinks that it was part of David's mission. But I could find no support for or against this theory in the movie. I keep thinking that David wanted to see what would happen. I find I attribute an intrinsic curiosity to every android in popular movies and television. Wouldn't it be a vital part of the nature of an artificial intelligence for its creators/designers to include intellectual curiosity as part of its learning functions?

If David did perform this action out of his own curiosity, did he have an idea of what might happen? Did he have a personal agenda? Did his own "survival instinct", coupled with the philosophical questions raised by the crew of potentially meeting their own "makers", lead him to the decision to put the strange material in Dr. Holloway's drink?

There are other questions that have arisen in my mind, after view this film. But the question above is the one I have been continuously turning over in my mind. Of course, I may never find the answer to any of these questions. However, the fact that the movie has inspired so many questions is a tribute to the importance that movies have in our lives and their ability to inspire creativity.

I welcome any comments in regard to this question. If you have anything to add, please do. I would love for this to evolve into a dialogue.