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October 2014

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The Magic of a Seventh Game

October 29, 2014

Tonight the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants will decide this year's baseball championship. It is the World Series and the ultimate treat for baseball fans - a seventh game!

The World Series is Major League Baseball's premiere event. The Fall Classic has a ton of history and the first team to win 4 games is the champ. Some best-of-seven series are over after four games. Known as a sweep, the winner takes out the other team in four straight games. The other possibilities depend on how many games are won by each team. When it comes down to this, both teams having won 3 games, it is the ultimate drama. A winner-takes-all event.

Although both Kansas City and San Francisco made the playoffs as their respective wild card game winners, the Royals are the surprise team this year. After all, the Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012 and are trying to keep that every other year pattern going with their third championship in five years. Both teams got hot at the right time, in October with playoff baseball.

The game this evening is in Kansas City and the fans are rabid for a win. The last time KC was in the World Series was 1985 and they won the championship that year. It's been a long dry spell since. I wrote a few days ago in my latest newsletter about connections with Kansas City, baseball and weddings. Just another peak inside my personal history. It's going to be interesting to watch the game and see how it all plays out. There is a certain magic in a seventh game and I'm looking forward to it!

Doorway Memory

October 20, 2014

Do you ever get up to go into another room intent on doing something...and once you are in that room you've completely forgotten why you went in there? Me, too! It happens more than I care to admit.

Well, before you get too upset at your fading short-term memory, you might want to read this blog post by APH member Jean Sheppard. She's had this problem and thought maybe it was just getting older and forgetting things when she discovered that science has been researching this and that there is actually a name for the memory lapses. It's called "the Doorway Effect" and it has something to do with how our brains process information when we go through doors into another room. I kid you not. Personally, I'm kind of glad I have something to blame it on, instead of just being forgetful.

Bill Cosby used to call it "butt memory", as in you have to go back to where you had the thought, sit down, and voila! Your idea returns to your brain's resident area memory (a little computer humor - RAM). Ori if you prefer, butt memory. 

Read Arch Support by Jean Sheppard. It's clever while passing on this useful information. Jean is another personal historian doing valuable work, and if her blog writing style is any indication she probably could help you add clever and interesting wording to your story. Her website is (and no, I'm not getting anything for mentioning her site except for perhaps satisfaction that more people will discover the benefits of life story preservation).

The Cockpit Camera Shots of World War I Pilots 

October 18, 2014

Some terrific photos of pilots-in-training for World War One, snapped in the cockpits of their biplanes, gives an interesting look back in time. A popular small camera from Kodak, the VPK (Vest Pocket Kodak) was used for many of the shots. I love the smiles and shining eyes of these young men clearly enjoying the flights. See more at mashable, courtesy of Retronaut.

Halfway Through Family History Month

October 15, 2014

Did you know that October is Family History Month? Yes, it is true - and if you are now just getting clued in to this you still have half of the month to do something about it.

Genealogists are more responsible for designating October Family History Month in the US than Personal Historians (who like to point to May as Personal History Awareness Month). But it is all basically the same thing. Find some way to research and preserve family history. There are many options, from a family tree to a photobook, write a memoir, record a video or interview an elder. Check out some of these tips and more at the FamilySearch Blog (more here).

Focus on Small Things and Build Your Story Around It

October 14, 2014

One of the challenges of many memoir writers is the "I" trap. Too much "me" in your narrative can make readers tune out. We don't want to sound too self-absorbed, even if the story is our story and mainly about us!

Sarah White, a Personal Historian and current President of the Association of Personal Historians (APH), gives a good tip to avoid this potential trap. She suggests you focus on certain objects and build around it. Find an heirloom or meaningful possession. Take the time to really examine it. Use your senses to describe it, the shape, texture, color, purpose and, most importantly, its significance to you and your story. It is a good writer's tip. Sarah shares her personal insight and experience with this technique in a post for the APH blog, Go a Big Way.

Griot - Traditional Storyteller Title Now Becoming a Personal History Term

October 9, 2014

"Jambo, children!" Thus starts a story in the textbook I use for my 5th graders. It is a West African greeting by a village storyteller who relates the tale of a trickster in West Africa who tries to fool villagers into giving him some of their wares when they come to the river and want to cross over the log bridge. His attempts to fool them into thinking the log is too shaky and they must put down their things by the riverside (where he intends to take them) ends up backfiring on him. But it is a wonderful story with a moral lesson told in the style of traditional African oral storytellers known as griots.

Thanks to a tip by APH member Dick Margulis (he specializes in book creation and printing) I discovered that the word griot is starting to be applied to those who are electronically recording and storing personal history stories on digital files, computers and "in the cloud". An interesting comeback of the word as noted today by When you link over today you will go to the definition - future times linking you will need to bring up the October 10, 2014 date).

I might begin referring to myself as teacher, writer, personal historian and griot.

Personal Historians Heading Back to St. Louis

October 8, 2014

Just like the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team trying to get back to the World Series, hundreds of Personal Historians are heading back to St. Louis, the Gateway City, for an annual conference.

In 2012 the Association of Personal Historians held their annual conference, Turning Points, in St. Louis. This year the conference returns to this Midwest city for a few days of great networking, sessions, presentations and to find ways to further the precious mission of preserving our life stories (October 22-26).

Although I would dearly like to attend, my teaching schedule won't allow it. However, I continue to follow the discussion on the APH Listserve. The conference will offer some great information, so if you are someone involved in the ever-expanding field of personal history, or thinking about doing this kind of work, I highly recommend this not-for-profit organization and the conference. More information is available here. If you decide to join please mention that you heard about the APH (The Life Story People) from me, Tom Gilbert.

Since I am not going to be able to attend the conference I have decided instead to put the spotlight on the APH and some of the members with their work and related news items. Watch this blog over the next couple of weeks.

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