Tag Archives: death

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

In today’s Monday’s Link Roundup, if you look at nothing else, I highly recommend Noah St. John’s ‘The Last Mile’ [Video]. It’s tour-de-force storytelling by a 15-year-old boy. And for some excellent scanning advice from the Library of Congress make sure to read Scanning: DIY or Outsource.

  • Protecting Your Digital Assets in the Afterlife. “Many consumers have gone down the virtual path, accumulating online store credits and using PayPal to buy goods and services. But digital assets, which include anything from social networking profiles to email accounts to websites, can have value far beyond money. So the question remains: What happens when you pass away?”
  • Rare color photos of World War I. “Photographer Anton Orlov recently discovered over 600 color images from World War I on “Magic Lantern” slides in a house in Northern California. The images depict snow-covered villages, train tracks, bullet-riddled buildings, and soldiers in trenches, by houses and on trains. The slides were hand-colored and are still in good condition.”
  • Scanning: DIY or Outsource. “At our personal digital archiving events, we get various questions about scanning family photos, slides, negatives and film. Questions like:  What type of scanner should I use? What resolution should I use? How can I scan negatives? While we’ve focused on developing tips and resources for saving personal digital materials created with software and hardware, we recognize that individuals have the both analog and digital materials and are looking for guidance on how to deal with both.”
  • Virginia Woolf on the Creative Benefits of Keeping a Diary. “A fairly late journaling bloomer, she began writing in 1915, at the age of 33, and continued until her last entry in 1941, four days before her death, leaving behind 26 volumes written in her own hand. More than a mere tool of self-exploration, however, Woolf approached the diary as a kind of R&D lab for her craft.”
  • My sons and I were linked in by Lincoln. “I was disappointed not long ago when my 21-year-old son, John, turned down my invitation to see the movie Lincoln. “I am not into politics, Dad,” he said over the phone. “Forget politics – think history,” I responded.”
  • Noah St. John’s ‘The Last Mile’ [Video] “This is the first of series of stories from a new partnership between The Huffington Post and NPR’s new hit storytelling program, “Snap Judgment,” hosted by Glynn Washington. And it’s a good one.” [Thanks to Sally Goldin of  Tell Me A Story for alerting me to this item.]

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup I couldn’t resist Photographer Turns His Grandmother Into a Not-Yet-Retired Superhero.  Forget the video and book legacies. It’s time to break out the spandex! And speaking of grandmothers, take a look at Arlington’s Martha Ann Miller, 101, publishes her autobiography, just as she said she would.  Now there’s no excuse not to start writing your memoir. If you’re working up a sweat over your work, take a look at Effortless. Seth Godin always seems to say so much in so little a space.

  • Untrack: Letting Go of the Stress of Measuring. “There are a few old management adages that seem to run like a current through our society, powering our work and personal lives: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” and “You are what you measure” and “You get what you measure”. And I’ve fallen for it myself…Measurement and tracking are tools, and there’s nothing wrong with using them. I’ve obviously used them many times, and still recommend them to most people. I just think we should consider whether there are alternatives, and question our dogma, and experiment to see what works best for us.”
  • Effortless. “Sometimes, “never let them see you sweat,” is truly bad advice. The work of an individual who cares often exposes the grit and determination and effort that it takes to be present.”
  • Photographer Turns His Grandmother Into a Not-Yet-Retired Superhero. “When most people try to lighten their grandmothers’ spirits, the effort often takes the form of Sunday afternoon phone calls and perhaps the occasional visit. Not so with Sacha Goldberger, however. After the French fashion and advertising photographer found out his nonagenarian grandmother was feeling blue, he came up with a rather adventurous solution for restoring her good cheer: spandex. He decided to enlist her to save the world, or at least depict her doing so on film.”
  • Arlington’s Martha Ann Miller, 101, publishes her autobiography, just as she said she would. “When a 100-year-old woman tells you she’s writing her autobiography, you nod politely and think, “Yeah, right.” So here’s Martha Ann Miller of Arlington, now 101, and here’s her polished, published autobiography: 255 pages with great photos throughout, featuring the inside story of how Arlington became the first district in Virginia to desegregate its schools. And how Miller was one of the first teachers to participate in that desegregation.”[Thanks to Pat McNees of Writers and Editors for alerting me to this item.]
  • Baby boomers are obsessing publicly about their mortality. “Not only are baby boomers getting old, many of them are hearing bad news from their doctors. And as with everything else that has happened to them – careers, marriage, children, divorce – they are obsessing about their mortality, and often in public. Many of them are even preparing pre-death testimonials so that they can control their posthumous images.”
  • Personal memoir as social history. “[The World in Our Time]… is a memoir par excellence. It recaptures the life-experience of one of India’s leading historians, who experienced the mutation of India’s rural society under colonialism and then witnessed his country’s birth as an independent nation, associated as it was, with some of the most painful facets of human experience. But each turning point in the author’s life is presented with a historical hindsight, which also makes the memoir a history of his time.”
  • Famous Canadians, revived by their obituaries. “As cub reporters, we felt sorry for the veterans of the newsroom when they were relegated to writing obituaries, presumably as a preamble to their own professional demise. Globe and Mail features writer Sandra Martin’s Working the Dead Beat: 50 Lives that Changed Canada, thoroughly demonstrates how wrong we were: Capturing the landscape of an entire life in a single column, on deadline, is among the most challenging – and sacred – of assignments.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

Laughter is therapeutic. In this Monday’s Link Roundup you’re sure to brighten your day by watching, Who Says Machines Must Be Useful? Another whimsical piece to make you smile and think is The Bookshelf Rethought: 5 Innovative Designs.  Be sure to check out Master brings books back to life. Paul Tronson, a master bookbinder, has spent 30 years trying to bring traditional bookbinding back as an art form.

  • A social media update from beyond the grave. “While virtual memorial websites have been around since the mid-1990s, traditionally they’ve helped the living venerate the dead. The latest crop, including I-Postmortem, a Silicon Valley start-up launched last fall, encourages the living to commemorate themselves, essentially writing their own obituaries.”
  • How To Work From Home Like You Mean It. “I’ve been working from home, a few different homes, since late 2007. And the biggest thing I’ve learned during those four years is that working from home doesn’t have to change how you get work done, but it does change nearly everything else about your gig.”
  • The Secret Bookstore. “Watch this beautiful video about Brazenhead Books, a secret bookstore that’s been tucked away in Michael Seidenberg’s apartment on the Upper East Side ever since the rent for his original retail space in Brooklyn was quadrupled.”
  • Who Says Machines Must Be Useful? “On the roof of a small row house in Brooklyn, a black powder fuse flared brightly against the gray sky. Hissing and sparking, it burned through a platform installed inside a repurposed Ikea bookshelf, sending four colored balls into action, lighting camp stoves, swinging fly swatters and knocking over books in a frenetic burst of organized chaos. In less than a minute, the final ball had dropped to the ground and was pocketed by Joseph Herscher, 26, the kinetic artist behind this real-world Rube Goldberg machine.”
  • An Author Explores Unique Codes to Enhance Memoir Experience. “Last week, Women’s Memoirs published an interview with memoir author Jenny Lynn Anderson, author of Room 939: 15 Minutes of Horror, 20 Years of Healing. When we looked at her book, we loved the innovative use she made of Quick Response codes.”
  • The Bookshelf Rethought: 5 Innovative Designs. “We love books. We love design. And we love the intersection of the two. Some time ago, we looked at five examples of public library innovation. But what about the personal library? Today, we’re turning to five gorgeous bookshelves that put a twist on your home library with ingenuity and design innovation.”
  • Master brings books back to life. “At the top of a narrow staircase on Sidney’s Beacon Avenue is a studio filled with vegetable-tanned leathers, tall glass jars of fermented dyes from plant extracts and a handcut lay press dating to about 1540.These are the tools and materials that master bookbinder Paul Tronson uses to bring rare books back to life.”

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Marge Curtis, May 1,1918 ~ December 18, 2011

Mom at twenty-three

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that every Monday is devoted to Monday’s Link Roundup. This Monday is different. Yesterday Mom died at Victoria Hospice at the age of ninety-three.

Mom always believed that when she transitioned to that other side, she’d be met by my Dad,  Ed Curtis, who died in 1990. I like to think she was right.  And whether by coincidence or design her death took place on their seventy-second wedding anniversary. They were married December 18, 1939.

Throughout my life Mom was one of my biggest fans and supporters. In many ways she introduced me to story telling at an early age. An avid reader, her favorite activity before going to sleep was to read a few pages from her latest book. Every morning I would eagerly run into her bedroom to sit by her bed. There, she would relate the latest installment – no doubt censoring some of the racy bits for the ears of an eight-year-old.

She also regaled me with stories from her teenage years when her family homesteaded in the wilderness of northern British Columbia.  Eagerly absorbed by a young boy were tales of encounters with grizzly bears, hunting, and snowy winter nights, hunkered down in their log cabin.

People have remarked that it’s sad that Mom’s death came so close to Christmas. In part that’s true. I certainly haven’t had time in the past few weeks to think much about the holiday season. But central to this time of year is the message of peace, comfort, and joy. And I’ve experienced all of those in a personal and profound way. Mom and I were surrounded at Victoria Hospice by loving and compassionate care. Her final days brought her comfort and her death was blessedly peaceful. And we had joyful moments – reminiscing about Christmases past, enjoying cups of her favorite tea from her favorite cup, and laughing at this comedy called life. One of the last things she said to me, opening her eyes briefly was, “Having fun?”

I miss her dearly. My world has changed forever. But surrounded and supported by my loving partner, friends, and colleagues I’ll carry on doing honor to those values she tried to instill in me – kindness, loyalty, grace, and a good sense of humor.

Thanks, Mom.

Warning: Documenting Your Life Story Could be Fatal.

grim-reaperNot really but we’re a superstitious bunch. Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. The number 13, black cats and walking under a ladder – all unlucky.  We can add another – writing your life story means death is imminent.  It sounds absurd but from my experience this fear is alive and well.

I’ve had adult children of aging parents approach me and say, “We’d like to get Mom’s life story recorded but we’re afraid she’ll  think that her time is almost up.” I’ve also had some folks in their 70′s tell me, “I’m not dead yet! I’ll get around to my life story later on.”

So what’s the basis of this reluctance? I think that none of us really wants to confront the fact that we’re mortal. Of course, we know that one day the lights will go out -  but not today, thank you very much and hopefully not for a long time. So when the idea of recording one’s life story comes up  it sounds as if we’re doing a wrap up – kind of like writing your will and pre-arranging your funeral. As I said, we don’t want to be reminded of our mortality.

What’s the solution? You need to confront the elephant in the room. Don’t skip around the question of mortality.  You might say something like, “You know Mom, you’re not getting any younger and sadly some day you won’t be around to tell us the wonderful stories of your life. You know so much family history. I know that one day your grandchildren and their chidren will be so grateful that you took the time to record your stories. Right now you’re in good health and able to do this. What do you think? Can we get started this week?”

If you encounter some hesitancy, ask Mom if there are questions she might have about the actual work itself.  She might want to know how long it will take or whether she has to remember dates and names and so on. If you answer all her questions and you still sense some reluctance, don’t push. If you push too hard she’s likely to dig in her heels and you’ll get nowhere. Just say something like, “You know Mom, let’s leave it for now and next week I’ll check in with you again. I really hope you’ll say yes to this. It would be such a wonderful gift.”

The time to begin a life story is now because we really don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

Photo by Robert Simmons

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The Life Story Quote of The Week


If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.

Isaac Asimov (c. 1920 – 1992)  science fiction writer

Any of us may be only six minutes away from dying. We don’t know. Yet we live our lives as if somehow it will never come to an end. I frequently encounter people who keep putting off writing their life story or helping a parent with theirs, thinking that there will always be a tomorrow. Sadly, many of those stories never get told. I think we all need to “type a little faster” and get our stories down.

Photo by kev needham

Life Stories Not Just For People

For all of us who’ve ever lost a faithful pet, their death is a terribly painful experience. Now there are a growing number of companies who produce memorial pet videos. Most combine your favorite photos with music and deliver these on a DVD. Some of these pet legacies are more elaborate. Family Legacy Video a Tucson, Arizona based company can produce a documentary style video on your pet. Here’s what they have to say:

The foundation of your Pet Legacy Video™ is you – an on-camera interview where you recount your favorite memories and stories and talk about what your pet has meant, and continues to mean, to you. If your pet still lives and hasn’t crossed the Rainbow Bridge, he or she can appear on camera with you. Then, Family Legacy Video will tape you and your pet enjoying quiet times, having fun or doing whatever you most like to do together.

Other sites you might want to check out are Thomson Films and Diotte Video Design.

Photo by Roger H. Goun