Thursday, January 23, 2014

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.,_Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born Jan. 15, 1929. He died 39 years later, on April 4, 1968, victim of an assassin's bullet.  In his lifetime,  he was a son, father, husband, brother, pastor, humanitarian and world-famous civil rights leader.  He lived his beliefs and in living them, inspired millions.
Now, more than 45 years after his death, his example continues to stir hearts.
Ceremonies, speeches and solemn moments celebrate the life of Martin Luther King’s Jr. Every year on the third Monday in January, we set aside a special day to remember him. I’d like to join in honoring this great American by devoting today's post to MLK quotes that speak so eloquently to us. I hope today's look-back will uplift you, as it did me.

  1. “If you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run, then walk.  if you can’t walk, then crawl -- but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
  2. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’ ”
  3. “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”
  4. There comes a time when a person must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.
  5.  “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”
  6. “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”
  7. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
  8. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
  9. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”
  10.  “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
  11.  “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
  12.  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
  13. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle."
            Thank you for joining me in remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.  I appreciate being able to share with you.                                                                      


Friday, January 10, 2014

Undead Resolutions

New Year, new you. At least that’s the goal, right? Something about the changing of the calendar makes us want to change ourselves as well. But what if that change is a little harder to bring about? The ability to make resolutions and work towards enacting a positive change is a privileged notion. A privilege of the living.

I spend a lot of time with the undead (when writing them, at least). This got me thinking. Let’s say zombies have the cognitive ability to recognize the changing year (and, you know, let’s say zombies exist). What do zombies resolve on New Year’s Eve?

Happy Gnaw Year, everyone!

Here are my guesses for 2014 zombie resolutions:

  1. Brains! Eat more of them, but choose judiciously. Humans holed up in a McDonald’s are probably eating the food served there. Skip the trans fats and target those who’ve taken shelter in Whole Foods. 
  2. Don’t lose weight; keep all limbs firmly attached. Your excitement at seeing your goal weight on the scale will be hampered by the realization it took the loss of 2 arms and a leg to achieve it. 
  3. Exercise. A moving zombie gathers no moss. Seriously, no one wants moss growing on them. Shamble on. 
  4. Quit smoking. Smoke is a sure sign you’re on fire. That’s bad. Fall into a body of water as quickly as possible. You can’t drown, but you can melt. Remember that. 
  5. Go back to school. Schools are generally big with lots of hiding places. Chances are survivors will congregate there. The more you know. 
  6. Take a trip. Somewhere south of the frost line is ideal. You don’t want to become a zombiesickle with the first temperature dip. 
  7. Spend more time with family. Your zombie family, that is. It’s easier to hunt in packs. 
  8. Beware of low lying obstacles. Sure, you can survive any injury occurring below chin level, but do you really want to spend the rest of your existence dragging yourself along the ground because of a torn ACL? 
  9. Reduce, recycle, reuse. Today’s quick snack can become tomorrow’s BFF if you avoid eating the brain. Make all the friends you want, one bite at a time. 
  10. Avoid head shots. Learn to duck and weave, or at least shamble and fall, more effectively.
Any resolutions I forgot? Have your own additions to the list? Are you planning to borrow any of these from the undead?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Yep, It’s Freezing or Revenge of the Polar Vortex

            This Monday, in Milwaukee, the temperature ranged between -4 and -14 Fahrenheit. Never even made it to zero. ... A local weatherman hung a wet T-shirt outside and it froze in a matter of minutes. Newscasters advised viewers to wear layers, cover all exposed skin and limit the time they spend outdoors.

            Schools and businesses were closed. The Smithsonian’s blog announced that the chill was actually colder than some of the daily temperatures on Mars. So I stayed inside and researched the cold.

            I’m eager to share what I’ve discovered.

            Apparently, a polar vortex is causing this cold snap. A polar vortex is a system of swirling winds that usually sits over the Arctic and holds the chill there. Sometimes the vortex distorts and the winds travel a good distance beyond. Currently they’ve come south and it’s bitterly cold, but… how do our brutal temperatures compare to other chills?

            Here’s a list of 13 of the world’s coldest recorded temperatures.

  1. Vostok Station, Antarctica  -128.6 °F,  on 7-21-1983. [This is not the "chill factor"; it's the actual temperature.]
  2. Amundsen-Scott, South Pole Station, -117.0 °F, on 8-20-2010
  3. Dome A, Antarctica -116.5 °F, in 2005         
  4. Verkhoyansk, in Sakha Republic, Russia, -90°F, on 2-6-1933
  5. North Ice, Greenland, -87°F, on 9-1-1954
  6. Snag, Yukon, -81 °F, on 3-2-1947
  7. Prospect Creek, Alaska, United States, -80 °F, on 1-23-1971
  8. Mohe County, China, -62.1°F, on 2-13, 1969           
  9. Kittila, Lapland, Finland, -60.7°F, on 1-28-1999
  10. Van, Turkey, -51.5°F, on 1-9-1990
  11. Jõgeva, Jõgeva County, Esonia -46 °F, on 1-17-1940
  12. Litvinovice, Czech Republic, -44°F,  on 11-02-1929
  13. Slavnom, Vitsebsk Voblast, -44°F, on 1-17-1940

            Although I’m tempted to add Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the -2°F temperature reading as I write the list, I know it doesn’t rate very cold in comparison. Still, it’s brisk and I’m in the mood to talk about the weather.

            Here's no great surprise:  Five of b-r-r-r-r list occurred in January.

            What’s it like where you live?  Please share.



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Hundred Years of Distractions

It's 2014 (no matter what we may absent-mindedly write on our checks, and probably will for a few more months). It's been a full century since World War I began, and we have to remind ourselves that WWI--also referred to as the "Great War"--plunged humanity into an age of modernity. We didn't think of it that way at the time, of course. That war was also referred to as "the war to end all wars," only proving that we were optimists in the extreme.

What does this have to do with anything? Nothing much, really. I was at the dentist this morning (one of those things you want to get over and done with before the new year, but this was the earliest they could work me in) and I was musing about the science of dentistry and its advances. I come from a family of bad teeth; the fact that I have any teeth LEFT is a miracle of modern dentistry. A century ago, I don't think I would have had as many teeth as I do now (and two centuries ago, I would be gumming food by now). But back then things that people took for granted were very different from what we do.

Distractions, for instance. What distracted the citizens of 1914 don't have much in common with what distracts us. They barely had electricity, and concepts like the Internet were the stuff of imaginative authors like Jules Verne.  

But we have plenty in common, 1914 and 2014. After all, they worried about war (and for good reason), and so do we. There are questions that were posed then that have never been answered (was George Washington an alien in disguise? Okay, that may be a question that's specific to me). So I ask you this: What will 1914, 2014, and 2114 have in common? What won't they?

Questions to ponder (and to distract) as you get used to signing "2014."

Eilis Flynn,
DANCING IN RED, on sale now