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Preview: The Chronicles of Tewkesbury

The Chronicles of Tewkesbury



One friend calls this "The Louvre of the Internet." Others think I'm subversive. Most art is like that.



Updated: 2017-02-08T05:52:59.185+01:00

 



Perspective...

2013-02-08T09:31:25.370+01:00

Line of Sight : Chesapeake Bay : Photo copyright: Janet M Kincaid, 4/2008Space: The Final Frontier...Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is currently doing a stint aboard the International Space Station, is tweeting photos of the Blue Planet from outer space. This has me noodling an idea for a photo project I may undertake. Stay tuned to this real estate. In the meantime, enjoy Astronaut Hadfield's photos of the place more than 7 billion of us call home.America: No Longer the Greatest Nation on Earth?A clip from Aaron Sorkin's Newsroom is currently making the rounds on the Internet. I haven't seen a full episode of the show myself, though it is on my want-to-see list. This clip echoes many of the thoughts I've had in recent years about my home country. Are we really the greatest nation on Earth? Don't get me wrong. I love my country and I'm pleased to be from the United States, but I'm also seriously concerned by what I see and hear in our nation. We seem to have lost our enthusiasm and curiosity for discovery. We belittle those who seek intelligence and intellect as elitist. We get our news from sound bites and express our opinions through memes. Our reputation as a people who can be truly compassionate and giving is undermined by our incongruous politics and excessive consumerism. Yes, we have been and can be a great nation, but at the moment, I'm not so sure. And the question is, how do we fix it? First World ProblemsAnd speaking of greatness: living in countries where we want for nothing, how many of us find ourselves put out by what we consider to be inconveniences? The other day, I was bemoaning my desire for cinnamon toast, but I had the wrong bread. The wrong bread. The wrong bread?! I had bread. Shouldn't that have sufficed? In some parts of the world, people are lucky simply to have bread, if they're even lucky to have that. And yet, here I sit in my warm, dry, structurally sound apartment with a view of the French Alps, living on the edge of one of the richest cities in the world, complaining about not having the right bread. Water is Life put together this video of people in developing countries -- places where there is real need. Where poverty, starvation, and disease are the norm -- reading first world problems. Many of them are jarring. Each of them begs us to have some perspective and get our priorities straight.A Final Bit of Food for Thought, So to Speak...From Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia: "The notion that we could have a functional planet if people did not eat animals indicates a profound ignorance of ecology. Animals would soon overpopulate the earth... Plant destruction could lead to population collapse. Erosion and soil destruction would follow... With little vegetation, temperatures increase, the rain stops, and the earth is destroyed...."I would certainly hope that anyone placing animals on such a high pedestal would not spend more on his or her dog or cat than on making sure hungry children in Africa [or America] got fed. This is a litmus test of priorities. Americans spend more on vet care for their dogs and cats than the entire continent of Africa spends on healthcare. As a culture we have Bambified ourselves into foolishness, and it's reflected in our values and day-to-day activities." (Sowing Dissent: Lunatic Farmer Joel Salatin Digs In. Tracy Frisch, The Sun Magazine, October 2012, Issue 442, p 9.)[...]



A Little Good News Today...

2013-02-08T11:25:41.771+01:00

Crack of dawn : Photo copyright: Janet M. Kincaid, 12/2012


Going for something a little more upbeat today: myth busting, award winning photography, survey results, new technology for predicting events, and film!

It Wasn't Scarlet Fever...

How many of you read the Laura Ingalls Wilder series Little House on the Prairie when you were children? My parents showered us with books as children and this was a series I distinctly remember spending evenings with my siblings listening to my father read to us before bedtime. We loved it. Recently, though, scientists have discovered that sister Mary's blindness wasn't caused by scarlet fever, but by viral meningoencephalitis. I love science and research!

NatGeo Kid Photography Winners

Have a look at the winners of the 2012 National Geographic Photo Contest for kids. Some of these are really outstanding. I know National Geographic isn't without its faults and flaws, but I love this magazine and the way their work can inspire us all. It inspired me as a child and continues to do so as an adult.

Quality of Life

The Quality of Life Survey is out listing the top ten best cities in the world. Not surprisingly, Washington, D.C. ranks 43. Surprisingly, Vienna, Austria, ranks No. 1. I say surprisingly only because so many people barely give Austria or Vienna a thought. Having lived there, though, I'm thrilled to see this. It is a great city to live in and visit! In fact, I'd love to live there again, if only I could find a job there.

Using the News to Predict the Future?

An interesting article from the Beeb. Predicting disease outbreak is not as cut and dried as it looks. The 2009 pandemic and WHO's declaration of a Phase 6 pandemic certainly brought this to the fore, especially as some in the media accused WHO of manufacturing the pandemic for financial gain for themselves and the pharmaceutical industry. (An accusation that has been soundly refuted by a committee of international influenza experts.) Recently, however, researchers have developed software that tracks news headlines and predicts future public health events.

Hitchcock's Wife

Dame Helen Mirren stars as noir filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock's wife, Alma Reville. It's the first time Mirren and co-star Sir Anthony Hopkins, as Hitchcock, have ever done a film together. (That fact alone is astonishing! How is this possible?!) I'm excited to see this film and to see the woman behind some of the greatest films of our time.



Precipitously Speaking...

2013-02-08T11:30:01.854+01:00

Precipitous : Gorges de la Diosaz : Photo copyright: Janet M Kincaid, 7/2012When Twitter Goes Rogue... I read what I should see as a disturbing article about a volatile recent exchange on Twitter. I say "should see" because I've been blogging and reading the news online for a number of years now and I've been using Facebook for about four years or so. While I am often gobsmacked by some of the comments people leave on blog posts, in online news comment sections, and on Facebook, I'm less and less surprised by the lack of manners, etiquette, and intelligence displayed by many commenters. Perhaps it's more disheartening than actually surprising. In fact, I confess that I have not been immune to leaving inappropriate comments or expressing opinions that were hurtful to others. In the last election cycle alone, I'm pretty sure I burned a bridge or two with some friends I value. I regret that and it has made me pause and think more about how I want to interact via social media and how I wish to be publicly received. Which is why I struggle with the idea of using Twitter. In an effort to stay professionally relevant as a communicator (writer, editor, photographer, comms-go-to person), it's one of those things more potential employers are looking for on résumés. And yet, I have no interest in experiencing the kinds of exchanges like Clara Jeffrey at Mother Jones (and many others) recently experienced. Our inability to exchange meaningful, well-thought out, constructive dialogue is what shocks me most, I guess. I have no problem with a differing opinion. But when the conversation devolves into ugly name calling, death threats, and foul language, the battle -- whatever it may be or how we may feel about something -- is lost.****The Dart of Love1 That May StrikeMeanwhile, over in Great Britain, Parliament has voted in favor of a bill that will legalize gay marriage. The bill is strongly supported by Prime Minister David Cameron, despite heavy opposition within his own Conservative Party. Meanwhile, the Church of England, in a pique of irony not lost on the rest of us, is balking at legislative attempts to redefine marriage. Apparently, they have failed to remember their own sordid, start-up history? I think this meme captures it well, don't you?1. Henry VIII in a letter to Anne Boleyn in 1528. Boleyn was Henry's raison d'être for severing ties with the Catholic Church. She was the second of what would eventually be six wives.****Extending Rights to U.S. GL ServicemembersIn related news, the U.S. Pentagon is about to begin extending some domestic partnership benefits to its gay and lesbian servicemembers. The benefits are limited by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), though, and initially will only include a few things like base privileges and relocation packages. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on DOMA in the coming months. If the court strikes down DOMA, the Pentagon will then be free to extend the same benefits to its gay servicemembers as it does to its straight ones. This follows on the heels of ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the State Department's extension of benefits under recently retired Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.****Richard A. Herman: Who?Richard A. Herman died recently. "Who?" you may ask. Precisely. Seems that's how he lived his life and wanted it. In the meantime, he was a millionaire who bequeathed his money to a few charities and the arts in D.C. I love this story. It's the quiet, unexpected kindnesses that often make all the difference.****If You're Happy and You Know It, Fake a GrinSeems the GOP still doesn't get why it isn't winning over the hearts and minds of American voters, but seems they've decided if they do it and say it with a smile on their faces and in a happy voice, we'll all see their brand of the light and elect them to absolute power across the land. Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) may be right. The GOP really may be "the party of stupid."****P45: Making SmartCar Look SafeFinally, from Slate, this bit on Jeremy Clarkson'[...]



Omit Needless Words, Omit Needless Words, Omit Needless Words

2013-02-05T14:42:35.459+01:00

Mont Blanc as Rothko : Photo copyright: Janet M Kincaid, 2/2013

Years ago, I was a prolific, verbose blogger. Long entries were my forté. With the adoption of the time suck known as Facebook, I found myself engaged in truncated prose.

Cleaning up this blog's side nav bars the other day, I clicked on every link I had for other blogs or sites I visited in my previous blog reading and writing days. I discovered several things: 1. Some blogs no longer exist; 2. Many bloggers, like myself, tapered off writing in 2009/2010; 3. Those who are still writing are writing lengthy pieces; and 4. I find my attention span for long pieces isn't what it once was.

What I'm wondering personally is, who's still blogging? Why? If you're no longer blogging or you blog in fits and starts, why? Is this medium no longer relevant as a conveyor of ideas and opinions?






Reflective

2013-02-05T14:34:43.103+01:00

Reflective : Plitvice National Park, Croatia : Copyright: Janet M Kincaid, 6/12

Not a lot of news today. At least, none worth posting. The photo above, though, I love. It's one of my favorite pictures from our trip to Croatia last summer. 

That's all.



Two Sides

2013-02-08T11:35:01.593+01:00

Early Rain, Reflecting : Photo copyright: Janet M Kincaid, 12/12There are always two sides to every story or issue. It's part of the nature of being human and interacting with humans.I may not agree with or fall on the side of an issue in the way some people would like, but the beauty of democracy is, we can each have an opinion about something and they can be opposing opinions. What I always hope for in a debate is healthy respect. I may not agree with your stance, but I respect your right to that stance and I'm willing to hear you out. Doesn't mean I'll change my stance, but it also doesn't mean I'm closed off to the possibility of changing my opinion. That said, the Washington Post was full of all kinds of good, opposing-viewpoint reading today. (Opposing viewpoint meaning, may or may not reflect my opinion. For those that don't, though, I still find value in them, because I believe it's important to understand the opposing views of others. It's the only way we'll arrive at meaningful opinions and dialogue, in my humble opinion, of course!)In Rhode Island, not far from the devastating mass murder of 20 children and six teachers in December, lives a man who blogs and owns guns. This is his story. He used to be a car fanatic. Now, he's all about guns. P.S. When did America become a country that is afraid of its neighbors and the apocalypse? We claim the corner market on Christianity and tout ourselves as Christians, but are we really going to be so Christian as to shoot the man who tries to steal our bread a la Cormac McCarthy's The Road? The mere thought depresses and saddens me.Meanwhile, in Russia, people are trying to do good and help each other out, but the government of Vladimir Putin is wary and wants to ban volunteerism. Those who grew up in the grip of Communism are affronted, because they still believe the government should provide everything. A younger generation is realizing the power of social media and lending a helping hand. Must one prevail over the other or can both work for the common good of humanity? Certainly we see the benefits of both in places like the U.S. Surely Russia can make it work, too, nyet?The issue of gay rights continues to create waves in the U.S. In the current immigration debate, there's some question whether gay foreign nationals married to U.S. citizens should, like their married heterosexual counterparts, be allowed to apply for visas in order to stay in the U.S. Of course, the Left says "Yes" and the Right says "No". The Obama Administration is caught, it seems, between two constituencies that put it in the White House: Hispanic voters, for whom immigration is a serious matter; and gay voters, for whom equality is a serious matter. Will the President have to throw one group under the bus in favor of political expediency and a win?In a similar vein, the Boy Scouts of America are considering lifting their ban on gays and lesbians in their vaunted ranks. Some troop chapters of the BSA have taken a stand and are already inclusive, but others refuse to budge until an edict is issued from HQ. Switching gears, it seems nowadays what was once called cheating is now called collaboration. Or, have we all at times been collaborating and were told we were cheating? Should these Harvard students have been suspended or should they be rewarded?Finally, get out the Kleenex. This next story is a five- or six-tissue read. I'll let it speak for itself: Spend one, last, perfect day with your dying dog.That's all I've got for today.Oh, wait. No, there's this: GO NINERS! And happy birthday, Mom![...]



Pre-Owned and Creaky

2013-02-02T15:18:35.337+01:00

 Fly by the Wire : EasyJet.com and Mont Blanc : Photo copyright: Janet M Kincaid, 12/12

I'm getting old(er). I'll be 45 this year. Things are starting to creak and I end up with pains from innocuous things like sleeping. For example, I woke up yesterday with a sore right shoulder. Last night, while getting out of bed to get a drink of water, I did something to further aggravate the shoulder. It's everything I can do to type this. I think I've pinched a nerve or dislocated something. The bummer is, I'm right-handed and currently have a very limited range of motion in my shoulder, which makes doing things difficult. At the very least, I have a whole new appreciation for one-armed individuals.

Without health insurance coverage at the moment, though, there's little I will do about it except try to spend the weekend engaged in minimal activity. I even cancelled dinner plans with friends, because pounding out pork shoulder to make schnitzel seems impossible and may make things worse. If things aren't better by Monday, though, I guess I'll drag myself to the doctor and pay out-of-pocket.

Anyway -- enough about me and my woes. Remember my mention of the Super Bowl yesterday? Tomorrow's game in New Orleans won't come cheap to anyone. America's obsession with this game results in some pretty big outlays. An article in USA Today gives the math. The 47th annual Super Bowl by the numbers.

And, getting back to the matter of illness, it seems this year's influenza outbreak is particularly vicious. One journalist takes a sarcastic, but slightly hilarious tone about this year's epidemic as it plays out in Washington, D.C. Here is Scenes from the Illiad: Flu outbreak causes epic tales of woe across Washington region.

That's all I've got today. It's all I can manage with my gimpy shoulder. Here's a painful toast to all of my one-armed friends out there. You know who you are! xo



Readable Round-Up

2013-02-08T11:40:47.746+01:00

Full Moonset above Crozet, France : 29 December 2012 : Photo copyright: Janet M Kincaid It's February. That's a good thing. February means we're heading into the downhill from dark, dreary Winter into warm, welcoming Spring.Okay, maybe I'm jumping the gun a little, but the days are getting lighter again and the temperatures are fluctuating slowly upwards. My job search continues, but I gotta tell ya, I've had enough of being jobless. Seriously. And, I've said it elsewhere, but job searching sucks. Still, I persevere and am confident I'll find something, either on my own or through the kindnesses of friends. Speaking of whom, chapeau today to friends Everett and Natasha for sending me two possibilities. I appreciate all of my friends and former colleagues who continue to keep me in mind and send leads, ideas, and encouragement my way. It is received with gratitude and depths of affection beyond measure. I've been up since 6:00 AM, which means I have been reading and have lots to share. If you're interested, here is a brief selection. Click and read as you want.*******Johns Hopkins hoping to revive east Baltimore neighborhood on its borderIt's Super Bowl Weekend in the U.S. Next to Thanksgiving, it's the biggest eating holiday in America. This year's dust-up will feature the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. In the Raven's hometown, Johns Hopkins University is directly involved in urban renewal in East Baltimore -- the section of the city wherein their world-renowned campus lies. It is an effort worth watching and one that hopefully bears replicating in other urban, suburban, and rural areas. Shootings keep gun debate firing; gamers deny cupabilityIn the last 72 hours, shootings have continued to headline the news out of the U.S. The murders of an attorney in Arizona, a district attorney in Texas, a student in Chicago who only last week participated in President Obama's inaugural festivities, a school bus driver in Alabama (and subsequent hostage-taking of a 5-year old), and a student in Atlanta have all occurred with rapid fire succession and continue to underscore the need for sensible gun control measures in the United States. All of this has been unfolding in the midst of testimony before Congress by gun rights and gun control advocates. The National Rifle Association (NRA) continues to clamor the loudest for Americans to retain the right to bear any and all arms. Meanwhile, those seeking reasonable restraints on certain types of guns and the ability to sue manufacturers in an effort to make guns safer are thwarted by NRA-backed legislation that prohibits litigation against gun makers. If we can regulate the safety of automobiles, fertilizer, air transport and travel, and alcohol, why not guns? It only makes sense.In the same debate, the entertainment/games industry decries its role in gun violence and the mental health sector asks gun control advocates and legislators to exercise caution and thoughtfulness when considering laws targeting the mentally challenged and gun rights.Positive News is Also Nice, Say Readers...In other, lighter news, today is World Hijab Day -- an effort started by New Yorker Nazma Khan to foster understanding among Muslim and non-Muslim women about wearing hijab and destigmatizing what is seen by many as a tangible symbol of the oppression of women. Also from the Beeb, an article on why some countries regulate naming. The very thought in a place like the U.S. is anathema to America's cherished First Amendment Rights (freedom of speech) and would never fly, but in many European countries, there are specific rules about who can be named what. Not to be BBC-centric, but this article also caught my eye, because No. 5 in this list mentions the Italian Futurists -- a group of forward-thinking artists, writers, and architects from the early 20th century who included people li[...]



Puddle Time

2013-01-13T17:48:04.991+01:00

There are so many fabulous things to love about this video. Take a moment. It will make your day, guaranteed.

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Crime and Forgiveness

2013-01-13T17:39:53.532+01:00

This incredibly powerful article that appeared in today's New York Times magazine is powerful and begs the question, is it possible to forgive a heinous crime and can it play a role in justice?

Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?



Facebook, Thou Wretched Wretchedness

2013-01-13T17:37:56.052+01:00

So, according to Social Me, I spend a lot of time on Facebook. So much time, in fact, I could have written 2.75 novels of a length similar to The Hobbit. That's depressing. What a waste.

On the other hand, I suppose I can honestly state on my résumé that I am familiar and comfortable with social media, particularly Facebook. Boo.




It Isn't Rape, If You're Single

2013-01-13T17:32:46.899+01:00

This news out of California:

Calif. court orders new trial in rape of sleeping woman

Seriously?! There oughta be a law.



Good Riddance

2013-01-13T17:30:36.985+01:00

 Hallstatt, Austria : Am Hallstattersee

Good riddance 2012, hello 2013. The past year wasn't what I would call a great year, but there were a few things here and there for which, on this last night of the year, I am grateful.

1. Seeing new places like Croatia and Puycelci and Hallstadt.
2. Finally returning to Austria and reconnecting with dear friends Christine, Hellmut, Daniella, and Sonja, and meeting their families. In fact, I would say our trip to Austria was the absolute highlight of 2012 for me.
3. Traveling to the States for a month and seeing friends and family, making some new friends, staying with good friends, and enjoying time in Flagstaff, Seattle, NYC, and DC.
4. Finding and moving into a fabulous new apartment.
5. Enjoying another year of new places and new adventures with Maya and Charlie.

Photo copyright: Janet M Kincaid, 6/2012



Guilty as Charged

2013-01-13T17:25:37.376+01:00

On this last day of 2012, this is the news out of Malaysia: George W. Bush and Richard Cheney have been convicted by a Malayian court, under the rules and regulations of the International Criminal Court, of war crimes and crimes against humanity.



HOUSE FOR RENT -- UPPER NW DC

2012-12-27T12:03:30.831+01:00

FOR RENT -- AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY720 TEWKESBURY PLACE NW, WASHINGTON DCThree bedroom, two bathroom, unfurnished semi-detached rowhouse in NW Washington's historic Brightwood community. This recently renovated home includes the latest in kitchen amenities and an open floor plan on the main floor, as well as a fully finished basement with plenty of interior and exterior storage space.This home has central heat/AC, Brazilian cherry wood floors on the main level and original pine wood flooring on the bedroom level, a finished basement, cable and satellite hook up, washer/dryer, dishwasher, convection oven, flat-top stove, microwave, refrigerator/freezer with ice maker, garbage disposal, and off-street parking for two cars. The city provides garbage and recycling pick up. On-street parking does not require a permit.Located less than a mile from Metro's Red Line (Takoma Station) and less than two miles from the Green/Yellow Lines (Fort Totten). Four blocks from the No. 70 Express bus on Georgia Avenue and seven blocks from the S2 and S4 buses on 16th Street, as well as the 54 on Butternut Street. Twenty minutes from downtown by car. Access the Woodley Park/American University/Embassy Row area via Military Road and Rock Creek Parkway. Access to Capitol Hill and Eastern Market via North Capitol Street. Easy access through beautiful Rock Creek Parkway for quick getaways to 1-66/Virginia/George Washington Parkway as well as Kensington/Bethesda/Rockville. Accessible to all airports: IAD via Rock Creek Parkway to 66 or the GW Parkway to the Dulles Access Road; DCA via Rock Creek Parkway to the GW Parkway; and BWI via the Beltway or the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.Within walking distance of a full-service Safeway, doctors' offices, U.S. Post Office, gas stations, CVS Pharmacy. Minutes from downtown Silver Spring, including restaurants, movies theaters, and Whole Foods. If you're a church-going person, this home is close to the many churches and religious offerings on 16th Street NW. If you enjoy nature, the house if within minutes of Rock Creek Park/Woodley Park; access to the C&O Canal; kayaking on the Potomac River; and many nature trails in neighboring Silver Spring. Blocks from a DC Branch Library. Near Calvin Coolidge H.S. and several elementary and charter schools.This home is available for rent immediately for a minimum 12-month lease. Rent is $2,700.00/month (not including utilities: electric and water) + a month's full rent as deposit. (Second month's rent will be prorated if the move-in date is not the first day of the month.) Cable, satellite, phone, and internet are also the tenants' responsibility. Credit check, proof of renters' insurance policy, and application required. Please bring a copy of your credit report and renters' insurance policy.An open house to view the home will be held on Saturday, 5 January from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Or, to make an appointment to visit the home and submit an application, please contact Janell Kincaid at (703) 255-6521, at jbkincaid@yahoo.com or Janet Kincaid at janetmkincaid@gmail.com. Agents welcome.Note of disclaimer: Photos of the interior were taken in 2009 and are provided merely to give prospective renters an idea of how the main floor can be furnished. They are purely representative and do not reflect the current color of the walls, which were recently painted white. The house is available unfurnished. View on the main floor from the front door: living room, dining room, kitchen. Similar view also showing the staircase to the upper level.View from the kitchen looking back into the dining room and living room. The door on the left leads out to the back alley where off-street parking is[...]



The More Things Change...

2012-11-24T03:41:21.983+01:00

The more they stay the same. I don't know whether reading back over years'-past blog entries is inspiring or depressing. Of course, life changes and, hopefully, we move onward and forward. At the same time, it seems very little changes, particularly with regard(s)* to one's hopes and aspirations.*** Somewhere the other day, Maya and I read that some writers' most creative hours are early in the morning, when it's quiet and no one else is up. Or maybe it was an article about people who get three or four hours of solid sleep and are then wide awake in the wee hours and who use that time to be productive. Or maybe it was an article about both. I can't remember. It doesn't matter. The point is, I'm up. I'm a writer. I used to use these up hours to write, but I'd stopped doing that because of my iPod Touch and an addictive, time-wasting, soul-sucking app called Facebook.After reading that article -- whatever it was about -- Maya said, "Maybe you should use those hours when you're up and can't sleep to write." So, that's what I'm doing. Writing. She also suggested that, in order to accomplish this, I would have to leave the iPod Touch in the other room. It's currently sitting on the coffee table in the living room. I am in our office/studio.Now, if I could just figure out how to block access to Facebook from my computer. Perhaps it's time to look into parental controls...***Night Photography : Bike Path : Ferney-Voltaire, FR / Janet M. Kincaid 2012***Maya's friend, Irene, sends her a subscription to The Sun magazine every year for Christmas. It's a scrappy little periodical with no advertising and an unvarnished view of the world. It's sort of like The New Yorker -- provocative, thoughtful, well-written, but less verbose.** The magazine's editor, a guy called Sy Safransky, has a section near the end of the magazine titled "Sy's Notebook" or something like that. It's where he rambles on in seemingly random, but often interconnected thoughts. Back when I was a more prolific blogger, I used to do this a lot. I don't know what the official term for it is, but I called it free form writing. A friend called it stream of consciousness.I wonder if Sy does his best stream of conscious writing in the wee hours?***I live in an apartment in France. It's on the fourth floor. In the States, that would be the fifth floor. Anyway -- it's got a view of Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest mountain. As it's the middle of the night, though, the view is currently darkness and three really annoying streetlights. Why haven't we figured out better ways to manage light pollution? Why aren't the streetlights hooded, so the light shines only on the street below it and not glaringly into my eyes when I look out on the darkness.***Off in the distance, I can see traffic lights in Switzerland. It's a quirky thing to live in a border area. It's neither really France nor really Switzerland. It's sort of Franzerland. It's an in-between-ish place where you can be saved from doing math when counting in French, because the Swiss don't tolerate that "quatre-vingt-dix-neuf"*** business and have invented a shortened version that is easy to remember. It's called "nonante-neuf". On the other hand, the French know there is more to cuisine than variations on melted cheese. It's a great place to live, this in-between-ish place.***I'm not always sure where any of this is going. I'm just meandering right now. It's an hour later than it was when I started. I've only looked at Facebook three times while I've been sitting here contemplating the lint in my brain. And why? Who knows. It is as much a mystery to me today as it was when I signed on three or four years ago.***He[...]



A Question of Peace

2012-11-24T02:06:38.316+01:00

Last night, I held a three-week old baby. A wee little guy named Victor, who at one point screwed up his face and looked like he was about to let out the kind of ear-piercing wail characteristic of a pre-verbal humanoid, only to then smile a little and settle back into my arms.

On the one hand, I look at the world around me and am astounded that anyone would even consider bringing a child into this crazy, messed up place we call life. I read the news filled with rhetoric and discord, anger and hate, and I think, it's only getting worse; a world where fear, unkindness, selfishness, conflict, partisanship, and death seems to be the norm. Out of seven billion humans on the planet, how can one little, infinitesimal human being possibly make any kind of difference. Abysmal thinking, isn't it?

On the other hand, holding a baby overwhelms and fills me with hope, and I admire people who are courageous enough to create something of themselves. A someone they hope will be somebody. A someone they hope will contribute positively to the world around them. A someone who embodies the innocence and hopefulness we all want to be and feel, but seem to have forgotten.

For one little moment last night, I held peace and felt hope.

Photo copyright: Rebecca Mudrick. All rights reserved.



The Gratitude Challenge

2012-08-16T08:17:35.530+02:00

For the last 15 days on Facebook, I have been participating in friend Jana Riess' Gratitude Challenge. I'll continue to do so through the end of August. It's easy enough: List five things you are grateful for today.

It's Thursday and today I am grateful...

1. For the prospect of going kayaking on Lake Geneva this evening. (This assumes it stops raining first.)
2. For a meeting I had yesterday afternoon with a new client that could lead to long-term work and a meeting I have with a prospective client this morning that could also lead to the same.
3. For the efforts by dedicated men and women all over the world working in global public health on issues like tobacco cessation, finding a cause and cure for nodding syndrome, polio eradication, improving sanitation, and increasing access to life-saving vaccines. (To name only a few.)
4. For Google search and the ability to learn about people like this man, Brother David Steindl-Rast.
5. For this video...

allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/nj2ofrX7jAk" width="560">



Sometimes, the Real View is Behind You...

2012-08-15T20:31:34.469+02:00

Facebook has turned out to be an interesting adventure. It's a place of quick jabs and soundbites, where all of us post quirky little quips and LOLcats in an effort to amass as many "Likes" as possible. It's a venue where instant gratification is the currency of every minute. It's a pseudo-social setting where thoughts we would have normally kept to ourselves or shared with a limited few in our immediate vicinity become available to hundreds, if not millions, of other Facebookers depending on our settings. It's a place where we frequently talk and share as if we're living, breathing bumper stickers.

For me, it's been a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's a lot of fun to stay in touch with friends near and far and to do it in nearly real time. It's a place where you see the joy and happiness and gratitude of so many friends and loved ones. It's also a place where you experience a lot of whinging and bitterness, anger and snarkiness, passive-aggressive jabs and just downright ugly slugfests. While I try to keep the things I post fun, uplifting, informational, and intelligent, I don't always succeed. I also know, I really struggle to keep my own snark, backstabbing, and passive-aggressiveness at bay.

I can't tell you how many times a day I'll start to write a comment on somebody's status update and then I'll delete it, because I know I'm being unkind or judgmental or just plain rude. It's everything I can do in some of those moments to not reach out and cyberly bitch slap someone and yell, "Snap out of it, you whiny, boorish prat!" or say something snide. Seriously. And, truth be told, I'm sure there are friends, real and friended, who want to do the same to me.

All of that is a long-winded way to say, I've decided to step away from Facebook for a little bit for the next week. Aside from posting my gratitude list each day, the occasional Instgram or Streamzoo picture, and articles of interest from the WaPo, CNN, the Beeb, the New York Times, etc., as well as links to these blog posts, I'm running silent and deep for the next seven days. I won't be liking anything. I won't be reading the latest in everyone's lives. I won't be posting the latest in my life. I can't imagine what that will be like, but I know at one time, that's what life was like. I'm going to try it again and see what happens.

Reflections : Plitvice, Croatia : May 2012

Photo copyright: Janet M. Kincaid. All Rights Reserved.




Romney-Ryan 2012

2012-08-11T16:37:49.454+02:00


This cracks me up! Obviously Team Rom-RyRy, Team GOP, Team RNC, and the rest of the Right Wing have forgotten the last time a Republican stood on or near a Navy ship. "Mission Accomplished" anyone? Dorks.

Photo credit: Screenshot taken from the front page of the WashingtonPost.com.



Ten Things I Don't Understand...

2012-07-17T10:41:22.001+02:00

I've been keeping a list for a few weeks now of some random things I just don't understand. Thought I'd share.1. Household garbage cans that hold more than a couple of days' worth of trash. Gross.2. In hand with that, neighbors who set their garbage out in the common area and let it sit for a few hours or a couple of days rather than immediately walking it to the communal trash receptacle. Hello, neighbor? The dumpster is down the hall, through the lobby, down four stairs, and through the door on the left. What is that? Like 15 steps farther? Don't be so lazy.3. People who are crazy makers. I'm talking about the Jekyll/Hyde types. One minute, pissed at you and biting your head off, then sweet as sugar and cozying up to be your best friend the next. That's not working for me so much anymore.4. Defacing things. I don't get it. Okay, some graffiti is cool and looks like art, but just straight up tagging or writing your name and number on the bathroom wall or carving up a tree, so very uncool. It's right up there with littering for me. You litter, or deface something, and my respect for you drops about eight notches out of ten. Really. (As an alternative, why don't you get that someone you love a pair of these rather than leaving your public display of affection on the wall of a smelly bathroom in the middle of Nebraska or Italy?)5. People who can't text, comment on Facebook, or spell out words completely. Especially if you're over the age of 35. (Frankly, there's no excuse at any age, but if you're a grown-up, you really should know better.) I'm tired of reading stuff like this: "Hope yur dad luvd yur pressie." Really? Is it so hard to spell correctly? Is the O on your keyboard not working? And what about the E? That's all of four extra letters and a dropped U. I'm even willing to overlook "pressie" for "present" if you'll simply spell "your" and "loved" correctly.6. Not returning things in the same condition (or near same condition) you found them in. (Yeah, this one is very personal at the moment. $10,000 personal. Motherf*ckers. Y'all know who I'm talking about.)7. Hand-in-hand with #6, people who don't have enough self-respect for themselves and/or respect for others to treat each other and things they have the way they would expect to be treated. Blatant disregard and disrespect are beyond my realm of comprehension.8. 50 Shades of Grey. Nothing more to say about this one. 9. Planned obsolescence. Completely and utterly wasteful and wrong. I don't want a new fill-in-the-blank every 6, 9, 18 months or 2, 3, or 5 years. I like the one I have right now and I want it to keep working, thank you very much!10. Hot waffles and cold syrup. Seriously do not understand this one. If I wanted cold waffles, I would order or make cold waffles. But I don't. I want hot waffles. Ergo, I also want hot syrup. Why is this so difficult?Photo copyrights: Oscar the Grouch, The Children's Television Network/Sesame Street; tagged urinal, The Best Graffiti blog; tenant-trashed house, Janet M Kincaid; and waffle with melted butter, Unknown/MyConfinedSpace.com.[...]



44

2012-05-14T08:00:01.187+02:00

Hi all. I know, I know. I haven't been around these parts in quite a long time. Mea culpa. I've let Facebook replace blogging, which is kind of sad and pathetic, because I love writing and blogging.Today is my birthday and I'm this many (visualize me holding up 4 fingers on my left hand and 4 on my right hand. If you think I'm eight, all I've got to say is "No thanks!" Third grade sucked!)Being as I'm older, wiser, and more mature than I was whenever the last time was I checked, I decided to come up with a list of 44 truisms I've learned over the years. (At least, they're truisms for me. For you, they may be bunk and bullshit.)1. Walk slower; you'll see more.2. Never ask a woman her age. If you are asked, say "Old enough to know better than to ask that."3. Most meetings are a waste of time.4. So is Facebook.5. Your parents love you, but not unconditionally.6. Life shouldn't be measured by the stuff you have, but the people you love. You can't take stuff with you, but you can take love.7. Also, life shouldn't be measured by who you are, but how you love yourself and others. At the end of the day, judging is still judging and isn't love.8. Don't let a single label define you. You are made up of many facets. The most important, all-encompassing one is this: I am a human, being. (And yes, that comma is correctly placed. Think about it.)9. Simplicity is liberating.10. Travel outside your national boundaries--it's good for your citizenship in the world.11. The American way isn't the only or right way. 12. Most people really don't care to know your life story, which means they also may incorrectly judge you.13. Being compassionate and forgiving may be naïve and simplistic, but it's better than being bitter and angry. 14. No, that shirt does not look good on you and never did. If you insist on keeping that shirt, make it your I-only-wear-this-on-the-plane-traveling-long-distances shirt.15. Buy bras that fit and are comfortable. It will make a world of difference.16. If you have siblings who are younger than you, they are no longer "my little sister" or "my baby brother". They are grown-ups you admire. For example: This is my sister, Janeen, and my brother, Phillip. They're both really cool! Full stop.17. You are never going to please your parents, especially your mother, 100% of the time.  If you're lucky, they'll be pleased 50% of the time.18. Following off of #15, every morning I look in the mirror, I know I am a disappointment to my mother, because I didn't/don't live up to her hopes and dreams. I also know she loves me and I love her. Somewhere in there, I have to split the difference and live my life.19. Learn a second language. And then a third. And then a fourth. And a fifth... It will change your worldview. Also, it will make it easier to ask if the toilet in the pub or gas station or rest stop is a genuine toilet or merely a hole in the floor before you commit.20. Inequality for one means inequality for all. If you think it's okay to exclude others, I suggest you stick around and see what inclusion looks like for a change. You might find you like it!21. Bullying is never cool. Full stop.22. In-laws can be lovely people, but at the end of the day, it's often better to keep your mouth shut than to get in the last word. (The same applies with your own parents.)23. Don't let anyone ridicule you for your love of ice in your beverage. It's perfectly normal and okay. (It's also okay to not have ice.)24. Politics suck. So does shopping.25. Never be duplicitou[...]



FOR SALE : 550+ Acres of Productive Farm Land with Buildings

2010-10-31T14:14:11.283+01:00

 FOR SALE : 550+ Acres of Productive Farm Land with BuildingsTired of urban living? Sick of traffic in the 'burbs? Want to get your hands dirty and live off the land?Tuckered out virtual farmer seeks to sell 550+ acres of productive farm land with well-kept buildings, pristine machinery, gorgeous orchards, and healthy animals. Property includes the following:558 acres of land1 large beehive1 large dairy farm   - 17 black and white holsteins   - 20 chocolate cows   - 1 bull   - Room for two (2) more cows1 super chicken coop   - 28 golden chickens   - 17 Cornish hens   - 8 Rhode Island Reds   - 7 Scots Gray hens1 nursery   - 8 holstein calves   - 2 brown and white calves   - 1 chocolate calf   - 1 cream draft foal   - 1 buckskin foal   - 1 red foal    - 1 brown foal   - 2 black foals   - 4 gray foals1 horse barn   - 18 black horses   - 8 gray horses   - 3 cream draft horses   - 1 white stallion1 pig pen   - 9 black pigs   - 8 ossabow pigs   - 1 white pig   - 1 strawberry pig    - 2 piglets   - 1 spider named Charlotte :-)1 animal feeding trough 1 farmhouse with two clothes lines1 garden shed   - 30 bunches of sunflowers, tulips, irises, and edelweiss with capacity for 100 bunches1 red barn, 1 shed, and 1 cellar with capacity for 340+ objects   - Items stored include a post office, a mini villa, a French maison, a greenhouse, a mini Dutch windmill, 3 pink cottages and 4 black cottages, a Swiss cabin, a school house, various and sundry yard decorations, and some extra fencing1 biplane, good for instant growing1 harvester1 seeder3 tractors1 combine1 Adobe dwelling1 large Swiss chalet1 small Swiss chalet1 Lighthouse1 five-star Winery5 market stalls2 windmills20 farmhands11 arborists9 packages of Fertilize All2 dogs1 catA menagerie of goats, donkeys, sheep, and turtlesMore than 1,000 gallons of gas2.6 million coins6 Farmville bucksVarious awards and ribbonsNumerous collectionsSmall orchards comprised of fruit and nut trees1 squirrelThis beautiful farm has been extremely productive and has mastered: carrots, artichokes, potatoes, corn, rice, onions, pumpkins, pineapples, strawberries, white and red grapes, cranberries, blueberries, watermelons, tomatoes, pink roses, sunflowers, daffodils, red tulips, irises, candy corn, and cupcakes. Also, level two master of red table wine, level one master of white sangria, and level one fruit wine.All this can be yours for a bottle of prosecco and a plate of oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies. Oh, and happy (photo) Friday![...]



Bigotry, thy name is... Me?!

2012-11-24T02:08:37.351+01:00

There's been a lot of brouhaha this past week over the firing of NPR news analyst Juan Williams. People are outraged and convinced that the supposedly liberal media establishment is out to get conservatives. The ne'er-do-well, one-time vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is demanding NPR's head on a platter in the form of no more federal funding and several (Republican) members of Congress are adding their voices to her chorus.1

In the midst of all this kerfluffle, we seem to have forgotten that other notables have recently had their voices clipped for expressing bigoted or personal/non-partial opinions. Cases in point: Helen Thomas (Hearst), Rick Sanchez (CNN), Don Imus (MSNBC), Doug McKelway (D.C.'s ABC 7), and Octavia Nasr (CNN).

Should they all have been fired?

On the one hand, I think yes.

While bigotry, racism, homophobia, and hate in general may ignorantly play out in the day-to-day lives of private citizens in our country, this same vitriol has no place in the public square.

At the beginning of the last presidential race, one of the candidates characterized another candidate as "clean... and articulate." The implication was, people of color are not intelligent, are unclean, and can't string a proper sentence. Joe Biden's remarks were correctly deemed racist and he paid dearly for it. Sure, eventually the candidate he disparaged, Barack Obama, chose him as his vice president, which hardly seems like a punishing outcome, but still Biden's comment was inappropriate, bigoted, and racist and he deserved to fall out of the race as a frontrunner.

People who are in the public sphere--politicians, journalists, professors, religious leaders, actors, and the like--are rightfully held to a higher standard and should measure their words with care and correctness. They are a source of information for millions of Americans and influence public opinion, policy, and elections. Bigoted commentary should be kept to oneself.

1. What Palin fails to understand is, NPR receives only 2% of its funding from the government, which includes the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The remainder of their $154 million annual budgets comes, as they say, "from listeners and viewers like YOU."



Photo Friday: Columbus Day in Spain

2010-10-22T14:52:23.590+02:00

Yes, you're seeing correctly. This is a new post on The Chronicles of Tewkesbury. I do still live and breathe, contrary to popular belief. For those out of the loop, I moved away from Washington, D.C., in April 2009 to live in Langley, Washington, just north of Seattle. Before I arrived at my new home, I was offered a short-term, 45-day gig at an international organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Fast forward to today and I'm still in Europe and loving it here!

I want to get back into the groove of writing by way of blogging, so I thought I'd start with something easy like Photo Friday. A week and a half ago, my partner Maya and I were in Madrid on Columbus Day weekend. Turns out the Spaniards celebrate Columbus Day, too. This gentlemen and his compatriots were playing mariachi music in the Puerta del Sol and I snapped his photo.

Mariachi : Puerta del Sol : Madrid, ES

Happy (Photo) Friday everyone!

Photo copyright: Janet M Kincaid, 10/10