This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #131, Patti invited us to focus on Emotion. We choose the photography or a theme that evokes emotions. I could think of many situations for this theme, but for this post, I narrowed down to a couple of thoughts.
The latest excitement for us was on January 3, less than three weeks ago, when my husband Lynton turned 65. He retired in November 2016 and had an extension of health insurance for another 18 months, and then just paid cash for prescriptions without paying the premium for full coverage. He started the Medicare on the first of this year. It has been less than three weeks, but he had a Zoom visit with a family doctor, got all the prescriptions filled, and made all the other doctors’ appointments to establish a baseline of his health. He was like a kid in a candy store.
My friends and I arranged a surprised birthday party at their house for him. I told him they invited us for brunch but hearing me talking on the phone and running to the store; he wanted to know what was going on. I’m not good in keeping a secret, so I told him it was a surprised party. He had to act as if he was surprised to see the guests.
There were eight of us meeting at our friends’ patio. We didn’t go to any parties for ten months and were hungry for chatting with friends of thirty years. We were in no hurry to finish the meal. Even when we did, we continued to talk, and the party lasted for four and a half hours.
My daughter Mercy, and her husband Will, enjoy outdoor adventures. They regularly go cross-country skiing, camping, kayaking, to name just a few. They are in good company with a core group of friends who have the same passion. In June 2015, Mercy, Will, and their friend took part in the triathlon–swimming, biking, and running. Two other friends who didn’t enter the race but rode their bikes along the trail to cheer them. Will kept Mercy in sight all the time. The last leg was running, and they ran side by side. At the last stretch they were holding hands, pushed through the finish line together. Their proud smiles were ear to ear.
Friends came with signs of cheering messages. It was my honor to be there to join the cheering team and photographed the event.
In early 2017, I had a strong emotion connection with Mercy and sensed that she was pregnant. She didn’t say too much when we talked on the phone. In February, I couldn’t withhold my feeling and asked if she was pregnant. She changed the subject. My husband and I scheduled to visit them late in March, but early in the month, she and Will skyed us and showed us the ultrasound. She was going to surprise us during our visit, but their excitement couldn’t wait for another two weeks.
It is a blessing for them to have two adorable and intelligent girls. The three-year-old Autumn is a toddler nerd. She started reading by herself in her bedroom when she was 15 months old. For the first two years, she preferred books than toys. She now loves to play with problem-solving toys. Like parents, like daughter, she is a daring rock climber, hiker, and biker. She is her mom’s proud helper in cooking. Nora is an all time happy child with a biggest smile.
I’m delighted to Welcome Breakfield and Burkey to Day 9 of “THE ENIGMA THREAT” Release Blog Tour! @enigmaseries @1rburkey @4WillsPub @4WP11 @RRBC_Org #RRBC
Please leave a comment to win:
(1) $25 Amazon Gift card
(10) e-book copies of the “shorts” in the Enigma Series
I invited my guests to introduce themselves and their book to you.
We want to talk about our inspiration for writing.
The paradox about being a writer is that you must be a reader as well. Inspiration for Breakfield and Burkey comes from the daily consumption of written words for work and pleasure, as well as thoughts from other writers and podcasters.
Each of us receives a daily stream of material for blog posts, correspondence from colleagues, technical presentations from vendors, and books from other authors. We read, listen, and see a great deal of material during our work week. We use these three media types then aggregate the data onto the idea conveyor belt that feeds our imaginations. Current events from streaming media, voice actor audio reviews, reading reviews on our work, and non-technical publications discussing world economics or security are all excellent sources of ideas for our storylines.
Each of these informational feeds provides a level of research snippets into the real world. These are not like deep-dive research with cross-checking you might require for a historical novel, but they often capture our imaginations and drive us to research further. This is especially true with emerging technologies we are exposed to for solving our customers’ problems.
A perfect example of real-world input that impacts one of our novels was the buzz around cryptocurrencies, built on the underlying blockchain technology. This is a complex subject that is applied in multiple ways. However, we were interested in all the speculation of the various currencies, which made us do some more in-depth research into the history of it and how each operates.
As this was in progress, we started looking at the vulnerabilities blockchain has around cryptocurrency applications. Finally, we explored how their adoption in different locations around the world would affect our global economy. After we completed that research, we launched into the fictional aspects of what could happen when the cyber bad guys drive toward their specific agenda of power and greed.
We then took this research a step further to create an intriguing story of competing cryptocurrency providers. We introduced bad actors from the Darknet that had motives of corruption, power, greed, and control. Voilà, you have the concept of our TechnoThriller, story The Enigma Source. See how easy that was? J
Admittedly cryptocurrency is an easy technology to find greed lurking nearby. Money and materialism tend to work together. The whole focus of artificial intelligence and machine learning captured our attention as more vendors were offering solutions with those technical capabilities at the foundation. The promise of we’ll do that for you sounds the alarm bells in our minds. The evolution of technology takes aspects and then builds upon them to be more and do more.
Machine learning is best accomplished with oodles of data to learn from. We have that in bulk with social media today. Think about the content of social media. If this is being used as the classroom for artificial intelligence, what is it learning? If the computer creators using these capabilities goals are misaligned to societal norms, then the end game could be unexpected.
We took this as the foundational basis for our newest story, The Enigma Threat. This book has cyber heroes battling cyber thugs from the Darknet, both with supercomputers as resources doing their bidding. It is a battle of wits from machines, some have guardrails, and some do not. You’ll need to read to learn all the details or listen as the ebook, paperback, and audible will be available on January 8th, 2021. We also have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help start work on a screenplay for this book. We invite you to check it out to support or share it with your friends. The campaign has additional information about the story and a book trailer you might enjoy.
Make no mistake, we are inspired by the world around us and the technology we use to live, work and play.
In the new digital world, there is no tolerance for privately owned supercomputers. Globally, computers are hunted and destroyed for the greater good, by the new cyber police CESPOOL. The information this group receives is manipulated by subversive hidden machine learning devices, the MAG running on the dark net.
Judith and Xiamara are freebooters who steal machine time for their PaaS, porn as a service business. The machine they chose for delivery is the last untapped supercomputer not in the hands of a sovereign. Their activity is spotted by the MAG, but the renegade R-Group steps in to alter the outcome. Leroy teams up with Zara to help these opportunists escape prosecution. They are drafted as reluctant participants in the fight.
Jacob and Quip are trapped in the Chihuahuan Desert trying to reconstruct the base of ICABOD’s logic core. The stress of their isolation is taking a toll. Their wives and children are safe in Brazil for the time being, but Interpol is prowling for answers.
The R-Group has assembled a way to communicate with orphaned satellites. While the next R-Group plans the ultimate honey pot to trap their nemesis who is driving their corrupted agenda. The odds are against R-Group’s success, but they have creative surprises on their side.
The stakes have never been higher. The R-Group young and old must rise to defeat the MAG.
About the Authors
Breakfield is a 25+ year technology expert in security, networking, voice, and anything digital. He enjoys writing, studying World War II history, travel, and cultural exchanges. He’s also a fan of wine tastings, winemaking, Harley riding, cooking extravaganzas, and woodworking.
Burkey is a 25+ year applied technology professional who excels at optimizing technology and business investments. She works with customers all over the world focusing on optimized customer experiences. She writes white papers and documentation, but found she has a marked preference for writing fiction.
Together they create award-winning stories that resonate with males and females, as well as young and experienced adults. They bring a fresh new view to technology possibilities today.
To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the authors’ tour pageon the 4WillsPublishing site. If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please clickHERE. Thanks for supporting these authors and their work!
I enjoy reading quotes. I used to memorize them for encouragement and motivation. Lao Tzu is known for his wisdom and I believe our doing begins with our thinking.
I read 100 best New Year’s quotes for 2021 and included 10 here.
1. “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. “The magic in new beginnings is truly the most powerful of them all.” ―Josiyah Martin
3. “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” —J.P. Morgan
4. “New year—a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately, we write it. The choice is ours.” —Alex Morritt
5. “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” —Thomas Jefferson
6. “Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.” ―Germany Kent
7. “As we grow older and wiser, we begin to realize what we need and what we need to leave behind. Sometimes there are things in our lives that aren’t meant to stay. Sometimes the changes we don’t want are the changes we need to grow. And sometimes walking away is a step forward.” —Unknown
8. “Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.” —Francis Bacon Sr.
9. “This year, be structured enough for success and achievement and flexible enough for creativity and fun.” —Taylor Duvall
10. “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” —Frank Scully
Our New Year’s tradition used to be watching the fireworks beginning at 15 minutes before 9:00 p.m. PST (12:00 a.m. EST) for the countdown in Times Square, New York, then watching the fireworks around the world. Many countries didn’t have fireworks this year. We watched the video clips of a few countries where they had fireworks. Here is a short BBC clip.
Wishing you a Happy first day of the best possible new 365 days of Year 2021!
This year, my husband and I cancelled our trip to be with my daughter’s beautiful family. I know this social distancing is a temporary condition.
The State of California is in a worse than ever situation at the present. Many hospitals ran out of ICU beds. The news on Saturday, December 19, said that if someone had an accident or heart attack, the hospitals may not treat them because there were no rooms in the ER. Many families will suffer the losses of their loved ones to this horrible disease. We remember them in our thoughts and prayers.
The United States on Monday, December 14 administered the first shots of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to health-care workers, marking a pivotal moment in the country’s long march to bring the virus under control. Initial shipments of the second vaccine Moderna authorized in the U.S. left a distribution center Sunday, December 20 and the first shots were administered on Monday, December 21. About 20 million of people in the US will receive vaccination by the end of the year. Combining the two vaccines, there will be 400 million shots for 200 million people available by the end of July 2021. Help is on the way!
We look forward to a better, healthier, brighter, and shiner 2021!
Here are two more of my favorite Christmas music.
Winchester Cathedral Choir performed For Unto Us a Child Is Born from Handel’s Messiah
O Holy Night. Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Choir
Stay safe and enjoy your beautiful holidays wherever you are!
Silent Night is one of my favorite Christmas Carols. I would like to review some of the stories behind this 202 years old popular Christmas music.
“Silent Night” (German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas Carol. The lyrics were written by Joseph Mohr in Salzburg, Austria. The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf.
Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment. The first performance of the carol was on December 24, 1818, in the Christmas Eve mass.
Over the years, because the original manuscript had been lost, Mohr’s name was forgotten and although Gruber was known to be the composer, many people assumed the melody was composed by a famous composer, and it was variously attributed to Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven. However, a manuscript was discovered in 1995 in Mohr’s handwriting and dated by researchers as c. 1820. It states that Mohr wrote the words in 1816 when he was assigned to a pilgrim church in Mariapfarr, Austria, and shows that the music was composed by Gruber in 1818. This is the earliest manuscript that exists and the only one in Mohr’s handwriting. (Source)
The Story of the World War IChristmas Truce of 1914 by Naina Bajekal
In 1914, just a few months into a war, Pope Benedict XV, who took office that September, had originally called for a Christmas truce, an idea that was officially rejected. Yet it seems the sheer misery of daily life in the cold, wet, dull trenches was enough to motivate troops to initiate the truce on their own…
It’s hard to pin down exactly what happened. A huge range of differing oral accounts, diary entries and letters home from those who took part make it virtually impossible to speak of a “typical” Christmas truce as it took place across the Western front… Nevertheless, some two-thirds of troops — about 100,000 people — are believed to have participated in the legendary truce…
Most accounts suggest the truce began with carol singing from the trenches on Christmas Eve, “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere”, as Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled. Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it in even greater detail:
“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”
The next morning, in some places, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Allied soldiers came out warily to greet them. In others, Germans held up signs reading “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Over the course of the day, troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons, and hats. The Christmas truce also allowed both sides to finally bury their dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on “no man’s land,” the ground between opposing trenches.
I chose this arrangement of Silent Night performed by the Winchester Cathedral Choir on December 27, 2010
Winter solstice 2020, the shortest day of the year and the official start of winter, is on Monday, December 21.
The science and timing behind a winter solstice
The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun appears at its most southerly position and the beginning of summer, whereas in the Southern Hemisphere in places such as Argentina, Australia, and South Africa. There, the December solstice marks the longest day of the year.
What causes the winter solstice to even happen?
Because the Earth is tilted on its rotational axis, we experience seasons here on Earth. As the Earth moves around the sun, each hemisphere experiences winter when it’s tilted away from the sun and summer when it’s tilted toward the sun.
Many cultures and religions celebrate a holiday — whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or pagan festivals — that coincides with the return of longer days.
Ancient peoples whose survival depended on a precise knowledge of seasonal cycles marked this first day of winter with elaborate ceremonies and celebrations. Spiritually, these celebrations symbolize the opportunity for renewal, a shedding of bad habits and negative feelings and an embracing of hope amid darkness as the days once again begin to grow longer.
Many of the ancient symbolsand ceremonies of the winter solstice live on today or have been incorporated into newer traditions.
On the night of December 21, the two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, are coming closer together than they have been since the Middle Ages. They appear so closely aligned in our sky that they will look like a double planet. This close approach is called a conjunction. It’s happening just in time for Christmas — hence the nickname of the “Christmas Star.”
Through December 25, they will become even cozier. Look for the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction low in the western sky for about an hour after sunset each evening during this time.
How to watch?
“On the evening of closest approach on December 21 they will look like a double planet, separated by only 1/5th the diameter of the full moon,” Hartigan said. “For most telescope viewers, each planet and several of their largest moons will be visible in the same field of view that evening.”
While these two planets may appear close, they are still hundreds of millions of miles apart, according to NASA.
Live events around the conjunction
If you miss this conjunction and want to see the planets with the same proximity, just higher in the sky, it won’t happen until March 15, 2080 — and then not again until after 2400.
In case weather conditions in your area aren’t agreeable to witnessing this celestial event, several livestreams will be available.
The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, will host a program beginning at 7 p.m. ET, showcasing live views through its telescopes. The stream will be on the observatory’s YouTube page.
The Virtual Telescope Project in Rome will also share live views on its website.
Hello! My friends and visitors! Welcome to my blog!
I’m excited to have Jan Sikes here today. It’s my pleasure to share with you the great news of her new release. The holiday is upon us and her book is the best holiday gift ever! Please join me to welcome Jan.
Hi Jan! What an honor to have you as my guest today. Please tell us about your new book.
Hi, Miriam! Thank you for sharing your blog space with me today so that I can talk about my new book. I deeply appreciate it!
One of the scenes in Ghostly Interference included Jag Peters purchasing a book of poetry for Rena Jett. He wanted something that would help comfort, and start the healing process after losing her brother, Sam Jett, in the war in Afghanistan.
As I am sure you know, you cannot quote someone else’s work within your own body of work. So, I had to create a poem to include in a specific scene.
I had to do the same thing with song lyrics as you also cannot quote someone else’s song lyrics within your work without their written permission. With the song lyrics, I only had to create lines, not the whole song.
Excerpt 1: Poetry
She filled her coffee cup and sat down at the table. The poetry book Jag had bought her lay at one end and she reached for it, lightly running her fingers over the cover.
The book fell open to a poem entitled “Next to You.”
You cannot see me or touch me
But I’m standing next to you
Your tears can only hurt me
Your sadness makes me blue
Be brave and show a smiling face
Let not your grief show through
I love you from a different place
Yes, I’m standing next to you.
As she read the words, tears flowed. “Oh Sam,” she whispered. “You’re here. I just know it. But I can’t help but wish your body was here too. You’d get along great with Jag, even though he’s very different from us. He said he loves me and I think I’m falling for him too.”
Excerpt 2 – Song Lyrics:
The years of working at Granite Technology seemed like an eternity ago. Quitting that job was perhaps the best thing he’d ever done.
Almost colliding with Rena had been totally out of his control and yet a life changing event so big he could never have imagined it.
How could he not have known he needed something more than just the job security and safe circle of family and friends? And yet someone somewhere in the Universe knew.
Knew that he and Rena Jett needed each other. He was grateful that their two worlds had collided. Grateful for divine intervention.
Inspired, he reached for pen and paper. With one hand on the keys and the other holding the pen, he composed the beginning of a tender love song.
“I didn’t know I needed you. I didn’t have a clue. I imagined I was happy, but my window had no view…”
Hours passed before he stopped and stretched. He flipped the switch and covered the instrument.
“Let me hear you sing something. I’ve got a feeling you have a good voice.”
“Okay. I’m more than a little nervous, but I’ll give it a shot. I’ll sing something I wrote just the other day.”
Damien raised his eyebrows. “You write too? That’s fantastic. Let me hear it.”
Jag avoided looking at Damien while he played and sang the song he’d written for Rena. He tagged the ending. “And you can’t see tomorrow through yesterday’s eyes.”
Damien clapped. “Oh hell! That was great! Do you have more? I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I can get them heard by some heavy-hitters if you’re interested.”
“I’ve written quite a few over the years. I hadn’t thought of trying to do anything with them. I just write to express my feelings.”
“That’s all any of us do. With every song I write, every guitar lick I play and every performance, I give a little of myself away. That’s what music is. And the key to the whole deal is making people feel it. Then they become a part of the song and a part of you.”
“That’s beautiful, Damien.” He stared at the man who’d walked into his life.
Damien laughed. “Don’t get too serious on me. But it’s true. Hey, let’s play some more.”
Have you ever had to create poems or song lyrics to weave into your stories? I’d love for you to share it in the comment if you have.
You’re so talented, Jan. You not only write books, but poems, and song lyrics also. I loved the excerpts you included here.
Here is the book information.
Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.
Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?
I’m excited to join Linda Bradley, Mae Clair, Sandra Cox, and M.J. Mallon at Sally Cronin’s Blog where she hosts the Christmas Book Fair showcasing the indie authors and their books. Please join the fun and support the authors. See you there!
Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair where I will be featuring all the authors currently on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.
The first author today is Linda Bradley with the romantic first book in her popular series – Maggie’s Way (Montana Bound Series book 1).
About the book
Middle-aged, Maggie Abernathy just wants to recuperate from cancer during the solitude of summer vacation after a tiresome year of teaching second grade. Maggie’s plans are foiled when precocious seven-year-old Chloe McIntyre moves in next door with her dad, John. Maggie’s life changes in a way she could never imagine when the pesky new neighbors steal her heart. With Maggie’s grown son away, her ex-husband in the shadows, her meddling mother’s unannounced visits, and Chloe McIntyre on her heels, somehow Maggie’s empty house becomes home again.
This week, as we are approaching the end of 2020, Amy invited us to share some of the precious moments we have had, before or during the pandemic.
I love travel. I know I won’t return to many places I had been and always treasure the experiences of being there and seeing those places. Yet if I must choose between travel and spend time with family and friends, I choose the latter. It is the relationship that makes the moments precious.
Our family photo which was taken in 2006. One young girl on the left got married a few years ago and now has a baby daughter. The other one on the left just got married last month. The three little ones are in college. Lynton’s dad, second from the right, died 12 years ago.
Eight years ago, we took our family trip to China and stopped by Hong Kong to see my family. Seven of us were in the middle of this photo, with my siblings and their families on the left and right sides. Will’s mom (behind Will, in green) died three years after the trip. My sister, third from right, died last year when we were in Hong Kong for my nephew’s wedding.
This is a group of my lovely lady friends celebrating Christmas in 2019. We missed each other tremendously.
“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” — Elisabeth Foley
Many of my friends and I were in this chorale last year singing in the annual performance of Messiah. The past weekend would have been the usual schedule for the performance. It didn’t happen this year.
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” – George Moore
This precious photo was taken with my daughter Mercy and granddaughter Autumn last year. We cancelled our trip this year because the Covid cases were worse than when it started.