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Who knew that obituary writers could have such well-honed senses of
humor? I think many people might automatically assume that an "obit"
writer is serious and dour, much like the common misconception about
those who work in funeral services. But nothing could be further from
Obituary writers are actually fantastic talents who are often writing
mini-biographies of the deceased. The obituaries are avidly read by
many who subscribe to newspapers and those whose job it is to write the
tribute and essence of someone's life in the short space they are
usually accorded often do it with pathos, flair and style.
The recent annual conference for obituary writers, the 8th great
obituary writer's conference, attracted many of these talented writers
from around the world. This year's gathering was in Las Vegas, New
Mexico (that's New Mexico, not Nevada) and Cathy Dunphy
wrote an entertaining and enlightening article about it for that is
posted online by the Toronto Star (here). This article gave me
newfound respect for these writers and also led me to the obitpage.com.
Carloyn Gilbert (no relation to me) heads the
writers' group and her web site has some really interesting information
about obit writers. I recommend a vist - go
The fact that you are on this website reading items about personal
history shows that your are among the growing population both aware and
interested in this subject. I've seen over the past there years steady
growth in media coverage and interest among people about the growing
trend of telling and preserving our stories. This is great!
Could it be that we are reaching a tipping point — a time
when critical mass pushes the subject into the mainstream? I certainly
hope so. More evidence is at the Newsweek magazine
online site with the category "My Turn Online" and Andrea
Gross' submission "These Stories Will Change Your
Life: What hearing my family history taught me about my mother and
Ms. Gross (a fellow APH member we
all know as Andy) writes in a compelling and conversational way that
reels the reader in instantly as her opening paragraph demonstrates:
"Dad is laughing so hard that everyone else in the room—all
32 nieces, nephews, cousins and long-time friends—is laughing
too. This strikes me as strange since no one knows what he’s
laughing about; he hasn’t yet reached the punch line."
You can read the entire article here.
In the past week you probably have been watching the news about the war
in the Middle East between Lebanon (Hezbollah faction) and Israel. This
area of the world has been a hot spot for a long time, and I suspect it
will be for years to come. We can all hope and pray for peace, but
there is much to be done on both sides for that to occur.
The most distressing aspect, like in all wars, are the innocent
civilians that are caught in the middle. Every day must be filled with
fear and concern whether the violence will hit home.
History has shown us, however, that even in terrible situations like
wars and violence there are stories of heroic proportions. Personal
historians have the opportunity and responsibility to help preserve
those stories when they can. If you are currently going through great
hardship, or have in the past, I urge you to write a journal, save
notes and photos and find a way to pass on your story. It can be very
encouraging and helpful to others, as well as cathartic to you. It
might be that your dark past can be a life changing event.
Many people enjoy the open road, especially riding on two wheels. The
joy of motorcycle riding is a downright passion for a lot of people.
This past weekend in the small town of Grants, New Mexico
the 6th annual Fire and Ice Bike Rally
was held. I was there (although I don't own a motorcycle or ride
— not yet anyway) and thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts
enjoyed a weekend of riding, activities, good music and fellowship.
You might have an image of motorcycle rallys as drunken and rowdy
gatherings of outlaws, but it's a misconception for most events. This
rally was family friendly and safe. I didn't hear of one bad incident.
As some of you may know, I work for a radio station (96.3
The Buzzard - Real Classic Rock) and we were on location
broadcasting. It was fun to meet people and hear their stories.
Once you have written your life story you are faced with how to have
the book printed. There are lots of options and it can be a bit
overwhelming. You certainly want to find both an affordable and
professional means for printing your memoir, autobiography, or life
I really think the iMemoryBook
is a great way to go because you can both build your book online with
ongoing revisions and additions and then when you are ready have the
book affordably printed. The quality is great, there are many options
for size and quantity, and it's turnkey. More
Another option are POD houses — print on demand —
publishers. Here's a link to a recent article
from the North Jersey Media Group about Timothy
Hall and his company, Long Dash. He's a fellow APH
is familiar with AARP — an
organization devoted to seniors and "young" seniors (you can join at
the age of 50, which means I'm now eligible). They have a widely
circulated magazine filled with interesting articles — see AARP
The other day I came across an online magazine dedicated to the 50-plus
looks to have some interesting articles. I particularly enjoyed reading
about a group of 60+ men who all grew up in the same Brooklyn
neighborhood and a few years ago started reuniting every couple of
years. While only one still lives in New York City they all have lots
in common and they've found that they can share their lives, their
feelings and grow as men with their bonds of friendship.
There is also an article on Don Johnson, the actor who shares the same
birthday as me, albeit he's one year older. Mr. Johnson has learned
from his life experiences, especially the struggles, to find peace and
contentment. That's not easy to do in the entertainment industry.
There are more people in the 50 plus demographic than ever before and
we "Boomers" want to live full lives with health, personal and
spiritual growth, and, if possible, financial freedom. These two
magazines are helping me keep in touch with that.
I grew up reading a lot of science fiction and I've always loved the
genre. The stories are key and putting characters in challenging and
"other wordly" situations allows your imagination to soar.
I like the Internet for many of the same reasons. Thoughts and
philosophies can be shared online and we have an incredible library of
resources at the click of a mouse.
A man who understood the importance of the science fiction and fantasy
genres (he supported many writers, often giving them their first shot),
and knew how to utilize the Web to expose gifted writing to readers
worldwide has passed away. Jim Baen didn't believe
that electronic publishing needed to be encrypted (to protect against
readers getting it for free). He embraced publishing for everyone, and
despite the traditional wisdom that tells you don't give it away, he
A pretty good article about Jim here on Keith Ferrell's blog at TechSearch
(he was a one time editor of Omni Magazine) and a terrific from David
The 4th of July is an important holiday for those
of us in the United States. Independence Day recognizes the birth of
our country, the day when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration
of Independence. This country's founding fathers signed the
document declaring independence from the kingdom of Great Britain.
Today the holiday includes parades, picnics, hot dogs and barbeques,
and other summer pursuits. And, of course, fireworks. Spectacular
fireworks displays are common in cities from sea to shining sea. This
celebration was actually envisioned by John Adams. According to Wikipedia (a
pretty cool Internet free online encyclopedia), he wrote his wife
Abigail on July 3, 1776:
"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most
memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it
will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary
festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by
solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with
pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and
illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this
time forward forever more."
I hope your celebration was enjoyable. The freedom we
have in the USA should never be taken for granted. Nor, should your
life. Holidays and special occasions are often rich veins of memory
ready to be mined for your life story — and to be shared with