Saturday, November 28, 2009

SCRABBLE - Part of the writing game

Writing is an ever-learning journey.

When writer's block hits (especially when I'm on the computer), I am tempted to fritter away time on a myriad computer games or wander about the Internet. Sometimes I need a jump start to get the words flowing.

One of the best motivators installed on my computer is the game Scrabble. When stuck, I take a short breather playing a game or two.

My computer opponent sometimes displays unfamiliar words. These times, the handy dictionary on the board is at my disposal, so I can easily look them up. And I learn some new words for the day! After a game, words start to flow, again.

And the other up sides? The computer does not get mad when I win. I don't feel guilty playing this computer game. And it gets my mind on words, again.

What games - computer, mind, otherwise? - do you play for writing inspiration?

Related links:

Photo from Scrabble

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Timeless Thanksgiving

Millennia before Europeans discovered the New World, people celebrated Thanksgiving. Undoubtedly, the Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock were most familiar with this well known Psalm:

Psalm 100
(King James Version)

1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

At Mom's Bible Journal, I found an excellent verse by verse commentary of Psalm 100. The journalist makes the comment that "all" are invited to "enter into his gates with thanksgiving."

The Book of Psalms is the ancient Hebrew hymn book as we are encouraged to "come before his presence with singing." And whether or not you can sing, the psalmist invites all to - "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord..."

How did Psalm 100 sound when it was first sung perhaps by King David? The musical slideshow below may give us a hint. The words of the Hebrew Text shown with its transliteration and translation are sung in the ancient melodic line, accompanied by a Celtic harp.

The Music of the Bible Revealed - Psalms 100
(The music starts about 1 minute after the introduction.)

May your Thanksgiving in the year of our Lord 2009 be filled with worship and praise.

For all those traveling during the holidays, be safe!

Other Thanksgiving and Psalm 100 links:

Treasury of David by Charles H. Spurgeon

The Thanksgiving Story

The Real Story of Thanksgiving

Related Links:
photo from : praise

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Trinity Site: Where the First Atomic Bomb was exploded

Twice a year, the Trinity Site in New Mexico is open to the public, the first Saturdays of October and April. October 2008, I visited Ground Zero where the first atomic bomb was exploded on July 16, 1945.

My memoirs and some pictures of that visit are published in the online magazine TRAVEL THRU HISTORY.

Please feel free to check out my article: The Trinity Site: Where the First Atomic Bomb was exploded.

Walking about Ground Zero and the McDonald ranch house, where the first bomb was partially assembled, was a somber experience.


Photo: by S. K. Smith (that's me)

Note: As you see in my picture, "where the toilets are" is very important to us vistors.

For another travel article that I have written from BeatenPaths:
A pilgrimage to the Big Horn Medicine Wheel

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Catch a Falling Star out of Leo?

When I was active in Amateur Radio, we Hams got excited about the Leonid meteor shower.

This time of year, the earth passes through the debris left behind by the Temple-Tuttle comet. The particles passing through the earth's atmosphere result in a delightful cosmic light show that appears to come from the constellation Leo. Hence, this meteor shower is often called the Leonids.

Since the meteors ionize the air, radio waves reflect off the upper atmosphere. When this happens, the Amateur Radio Operators (Hams) love to get on the air and talk around the world .

Also, for those who like to wish upon a star, this is a good time.

Here are some pictures of past Leonid meteor showers, courtesy of environmental graffiti: Meteor Showers!!!

For stargazers: Happy viewing this Monday and Tuesday of the Leonid Return.
For Hams: May your talk be heard around the world: As the World Turns Ham Radio News.

For more information, check out:
The 2009 Leonid Meteor Shower at the NASA site,
Heads up! Leonid meteor shower is next Tuesday at the Kansas City Science News Examiner site.
Major Meteor Showers in 2009 at

Photo from Meteor Shower

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Veterans Day - World War One Soldiers Remembered

When my grandmother passed away in 1975, I collected a metallic shaving mirror inscribed with a sergeant's name. The sergeant was her fiance. His mother sent her the mirror after he was killed in action during the Great War, which we now call World War One.

My grandmother later married a veteran of the Great War, an immigrant from Denmark. (I still have his dog tags.) For his service to his country, my grandfather earned his US citizenship.

My mother said her father talked little about the devastation of the mustard gas that he had witnessed or his life in the trenches, which affected his legs for the next 50 years. It was an experience he wished to put behind him.

This Veterans Day, in memory of the World War One soldiers like my grandfather and my grandmother's first fiance, the following scene is my tribute to their sacrifices as well as the sacrifices of all the men and women who serve their country.

One BBC comedy that I have enjoyed is Blackadder, whose four seasons span various periods of English history. The last season, Blackadder Goes Forth, is set during the Great War. After three weary years in the trenches, the British soldiers finally get the order to "go over the top."

According to BBC news, "The poignant finale of sitcom Blackadder has been voted the best farewell episode of a TV series."

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

- Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

Other links from

In Flanders Fields
(tribute of music and images set to the words of the poem above.)

Over There: Remembering WWI
("Vintage Antique Classics" presents "Over There" patriotic music by George M. Cohan, sung by early 20th century Pop sensation Bill Murray.)

photos from
photo of poppies

Monday, November 2, 2009

Review - Eva Galuska and the Christmas Carp: A Novella

Halloween is over! Now thinking about Christmas?

Last year I had purchased the novella by Kathleen Clauson - "Eva Galuska and the Christmas Carp." It is a great Christmas book.

In 2008, I wrote the following review at -

Kathleen Clauson’s writing first got my attention on AuthorsDen with one of her short stories “Night Owl”. I read her excerpt from “Eva Galuska and the Christmas Carp: A Novella” and was intrigued. Then, I recently purchased the novella and read it.

The story is full of detail and rich with description of superstitions and traditions - especially around Christmas - in the lives of immigrants and their children, who settled in the great melting pot of the Chicago area. It takes place in modern times, and yet the Old World influences them as they pursue their American dreams.

In a short time, I got to care about the characters and got to know them. I experienced their life, their culture, their short-comings, their triumphs, and a unique slice of Americana. I regretted when the story ended, for I wanted to know more, especially some of the mystery about Eva Galuska.

A parallel is Earl Hamner’s “The Homecoming”, another tale spun about Christmas. This novella became “The Waltons.” Who knows? There is a basis for a script in “Eva Galuska and the Christmas Carp.”