During the “cold war” I grew up hearing about the evil Russians who lived in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). The country’s shortened name was the Soviet Union and even that sounded ominous. People with enough money to afford underground bomb shelters had them built. There were discussions about the hard decision of what to do if during a nuclear attack a neighbor wanted to enter your shelter. What would you do was the question, since you likely didn’t even have enough supplies to sustain your own family for long. My family didn’t have to worry about that dilemma, but I worried about what would happen to us. Hearing of new threats on the evening news or hearing adults talk about the possibility of a Russian bomb was very unsettling for children. It didn’t help that we had bomb drills at school where we were taught to duck under our desks for protection from the falling bombs!
Communism came to Russia, then called a Socialist Federation, in a revolt led by Vladimir Lenin in 1917. Joining other Socialist Republics in 1922 the country became the USSR. Millions later died of starvation or while working in forced labor camps under the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. During World War II he led the Soviets in siding with Hitler but ended up losing over twenty-five million Soviet citizens. The Cold War between the US and the USSR followed this period.
The last leader under the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, introduced a new openness called “glasnost” around 1986. He was elected President in 1990 and led the reformation of the Communist Party, called “perestroika.” Up to this time, Communism had discouraged all religions including the most prevalent Russian Orthodox. Boris Yeltsin was next elected and took the country further into democratic reform and to a free market system.
In July of 1994, I visited Russia for seventeen days. It was worth every dollar spent, every inconvenience and every discomfort that I endured to learn that Russian people were not who I thought, who I had been taught. I will tell you more about what I learned in following posts.
“Things don’t have to change the world to be important.”Steve Jobs
It doesn’t take an investigative mind to prove that change happens regularly before our very eyes and ears. Some changes are significant but many are trivial. I suppose my mind today is on the latter, but I really want to share with you some observations. I’m curious whether you have observed the same changes.
Here are some questions for you:
1. Have you noticed that many celebrities when introduced on TV programs now walk onto the stage applauding, apparently, for themselves?Surely that is a fairly recent habit.
2.What about the experts interviewed on news or talk shows who when asked their opinion begin their response with “so” and then proceed?So, when did this trend begin and does anyone think it adds to the information provided?
Words are inanimate so they do not have the power to change, but we at times change their pronunciation for no obvious reason. The first time I noticed this was during the Vietnam War. Out of the blue, that country was pronounced differently for a while.
Let me make clear that I am not talking about the mispronunciation of words. I have the utmost empathy in such circumstances since it has never been a personal strong suit. I don’t know if teachers still have students read aloud in class, but back (way back) in my day it was expected. Like it was yesterday, I recall my humiliation standing in front of the class and reading in Ms. Miller’s fourth grade. Suddenly I came to a big word that I had not encountered before but I forged ahead and read, “She was deter-mind-ed to succeed.”
3. Have you noticed the different pronunciation of any of these words over time? Is there a big authority somewhere who arbitrarily one day simply proclaims, “We will henceforth pronounce __________ differently!”?
Please share some of your own observations with us.
Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.
It is now two days post total eclipse of the sun across the entire United States. It had been ninety-nine years (June 28, 1918) since the last such event, so it is no wonder this was a very big deal! Everyone, citizen or visitor, who experienced this event has their own story to tell. Each location, group composition, and degree of totality was different, but the one aspect of the narrative that has been consistent is positivity. I have talked with friends and strangers and have seen or read many interviews with the media and I have not heard the first complaint. Even those of us who averaged less than 17 miles per hour getting home after the eclipse have stated we would do it all over again. There was something extraordinary about this occurrence that seemed to bring people together and to make us comprehend our finiteness in the universe. I’ll leave the astrology to the scientists, the solar/lunar photos to the real photographers and the spiritual interpretation to the theologians and just tell you about our experience and my thoughts and recollections.
Preparations started months ago when my daughter, Dianne, and her husband, Floyd, traveled to Hopkinsville to scope out a place to witness the coming eclipse. They made reservations at Tie Breaker Park which provided a parking permit and a 15-foot square place to camp for the day, or as they like to call it “tailgating.” We expected the space to be crowded, but upon arrival Monday at around 4:30 a.m. the place was pretty quiet. Over the next few hours, folks arrived from many different locations, some as far away as California, Texas, New York and even Quebec, Canada. At daybreak, we selected a nearby site with a shade tree and set up our camp with Dianne and Floyd’s canopy and table that were quickly assembled.
My daughter, Allison, had borrowed Stan’s (her husband) extended cab diesel truck to haul us and all our gear. She and her daughter, Kate, had packed it with everything we could possibly need and then loaded up Dianne and Floyd’s cargo and mine. The two and one half hour trip down was uneventful except perhaps for the number of donuts that can be consumed by five travelers. It was a good thing at the time that Allison did not know she would be holding down that clutch and shifting those 6 gears for about ten straight hours to get us back home.
The pre-eclipse hours were spent discussing an upcoming wedding,
playing games, listening to a special playlist, meeting our “neighbors,” and eating.
There was a lot of eating. Dianne, whose enthusiasm was contagious from the early planning stages, brought creative food and snacks which included Planets, Meteorites, Space Junk, Moon Pies and Eclipse cookies. In fact we had two kinds of eclipse cookies since the Matriarch (guess who) had also baked them as a surprise.
We had plenty of room to spread out, go for walks, visit nearby vendors and enjoy watching children play. A large group of dancers was spotted a little distance away in an open field. Their colorful costumes and dancing style made me think they might be Native Americans. When we joined others to watch the dancing we saw they were a group of men and women who appeared to be of Polynesian descent dancing and singing Christian songs and celebrating the day. When asked about their activity they replied: “The angels in heaven are dancing and so are we.” This communal spirit permeated the crowd that included a diverse group of fellow eclipse enthusiasts.
The actual eclipse, the event we had come to witness is the most difficult to describe. You have seen the photos and videos. Many of you, using special glasses, watched the phenomenon transpire. We understand the mechanics of this rare occurrence, but the emotions are more complex and really need to be experienced first hand*. As the moon’s shadow gradually overtook the light of the sun, dusk arrived in the middle of the day. Shadows took on different shapes.
The horizon gave an appearance of the setting (or rising?) sun in every direction, encircling us. Cicadas, which I had not been aware of before, were now droning shrilly and loudly as in the middle of the night.
Suddenly, with totality, a brief hush came over the crowd who up to now had been laughing and loudly exclaiming with excitement. As I looked around it was nighttime, but not as dark as midnight.
It was a unique kind of darkness that was slightly opaque, grayish and almost otherworldly. It was simultaneously familiar and peculiar. For two minutes and 40 seconds, we were able to look at the total eclipse of the sun without protective eyewear. That brief time was adequate for considering important questions about beliefs, hopes, memories, about this life and the possibility of an afterlife. No, I did not come to groundbreaking conclusions about any of these things, but I did feel a deep sense of peace and hope for humankind.
As I observed people over the next several hours, I believe most had similar feelings. On the way home there was much laughter and love among loved ones and strangers. While waiting in line for about 30 minutes to use the restroom on the way home at a McDonald’s in Central City I heard not one complaint. Those in line were sharing about the great eclipse experience. The workers in the restaurant were ceaselessly filling orders with a smile and were receiving from customers gratitude for their work.
Back on the interstate we saw a group of people standing on an overpass and wondered what might be happening. As we approached bumper to bumper with other vehicles the young folks standing along the bridge railing were smiling, waving and making signs of peace and love to us as we slowly passed underneath them. Travelers were responding with horns blowing as we received what was an obvious “Welcome” demonstration above. As our family slowly progressed toward home we laughed, compared feelings and thoughts and of course texted Stan who was working in Jeffersonville and Elizabeth, my other granddaughter, who was attending the first day of classes at IUPUI, in Indianapolis. While we missed them all day, each had experienced a partial eclipse in their respective locations and can begin to make plans for the next total eclipse to hit the US when Indiana will be the spot for prime viewing.
For now, my goal is to maintain the positive attitude I experienced on August 21, 2017, near Hopkinsville, KY. Recalling the hours of laughter, family interaction and unfathomable solar system display was a good diversion from current world crises. Somehow though I must meld that sense of peace with continued action. It is not enough to silently hope for the greater good of all of humankind. Promoting love and mutual respect, helping those who need it and resisting hate require movement, not simply “thoughts and prayers.”
*Start planning! You can experience this (or repeat it) on April 8, 2024. There is no excuse for not arranging to take the day off, obtaining needed reservations, composing your group and getting protective eyewear. You have seven years so start the groundwork now.
Please share your recent eclipse experience with us in the comments. If you are planning for the next one tell us your strategy. Let’s keep the sharing going! Thank you.
Dianne’s email on behalf of our family yesterday to Eclipseville, a.k.a. Hopkinsville:
“My family and I wanted to thank you for a wonderful time in Hopkinsville. Your town was wonderfully represented by everyone we met. They were all helpful and polite. We rented an area in the Tiebreaker Park. The event was well planned in that everyone was helpful and courteous and we knew what to do and where to go. The park was clean and the restroom facilities were clean and adequate. I’m not sure how you pulled this off with so many people arriving at once! Your emails before the event were helpful and fun. The eclipse itself was awesome and we’ll never forget it! We wanted you to know that we appreciate your efforts to make this event so memorable.”
Dianne prepared a Time Capsule for us to forward to our younger family members. We were so busy and involved that we hardly got it started, but will continue to add our momentoes, written thoughts, memories and pictures to the eclipse glasses and armbands and other items waiting for a total eclipse sometime in the future when the time capsule will be opened. It will hold memories and no doubt some comparisons of how things were in 2017 versus whatever year the star spangled box is opened.
Note: unless otherwise stated photos by my iPhone.
When we hear of a theft from a hospital most of us immediately think: “drugs.” We hear of employees who slip syringes and pills into their pockets for self consumption or for sale and know they do this at great risk of being caught and punished. Addiction is at powerful epidemic proportions in Kentucky at this time, so hearing a news report of a hospital theft is not shocking.
Once though, twelve years ago I read of a theft at a hospital in Owensboro, KY that was of more interest. In fact, so unique I clipped the article from The Courier-Journal and still have it today to share with you. Here are some of the facts, perhaps you can help me to understand what might have been the motive of this particular hospital heist. The theft took place on Christmas Eve, so perhaps the culprit just needed something to give her family members on Christmas morning? Or maybe the loot was going to be sold at a late night pawn shop to support a drug habit? It is sad to imagine this individual desperate enough to risk being caught by surveillance cameras watching her as she committed this crime.
Those electronic eyes did their jobs well and saw this person clearly as she lifted 50 artificial eyes from a lobby display case. And, the best part of all in this tale? The person arrested was Melissa Jane Wink.