Tag Archives: Joan Didion

Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this week’s Monday’s Link Roundup, don’t miss I Will always be there with you. If you teach Ethical Will writing or are thinking of composing your own, this letter from an American soldier is a must read.  Given the recent destruction brought on by Hurricane Sandy, you’ll find some timely advice in Emergency Salvage of Flood Damaged Family Papers. Finally, someone has touched on what is missing for me with an e-reader. If you feel the same, take a moment to read Out of Touch: E-reading isn’t reading.

  • Joan Didion on Keeping a Notebook. “As a lover — and keeper — of diaries and notebooks, I find myself returning again and again to the question of what compels us — what propels us — to record our impressions of the present moment in all their fragile subjectivity. From Joan Didion’s 1968 anthology Slouching Towards Bethlehem (public library — the same volume that gave us her timeless meditation on self-respect — comes a wonderful essay titled “On Keeping a Notebook,” in which Didion considers precisely that.”
  • Social Media Isn’t Dead: It’s Boring. “Social media are a set of tools. They’re not all that interesting to talk about in and of themselves. The “gee whiz” has left the station. We want to talk about action– or if you’ll pardon the self-reference, impact. There are details and technologies you must master if you want to succeed. But that’s the keyboard-level and tactical part of what you’ll do. We wanted to give you something more encompassing.The strategies around and behind The Impact Equation boil down to 5 Cs.”
  • Emergency Salvage of Flood Damaged Family Papers. [National Archives] “During the mid-west floods of 1993, the staff of the National Archives developed some technical tips to guide individuals in emergency stabilization and salvage of damaged documents, photographs, books, and other personal papers. It is important to note that flood damage to some items may be irreversible. The treatment of objects of high monetary, historic, or sentimental value should only be performed in consultation with a conservator.”
  • New eBook: Bring Your Ancestors to Life Using Newspapers. “EasyFamilyHistory.com has announced a new e-book by Paul Larsen called Bring Your Ancestors to Life Using Newspapers. The announcement for the new book states, “Archived newspapers allow you to tap into a reliable source of hundreds of years of history, and give you the remarkable ability to see it through eyewitness accounts. You can easily explore your family tree and bring your family history to life for free using historical newspapers… if you know where to look.”
  • Out of Touch: E-reading isn’t reading. “Amid the seemingly endless debates today about the future of reading, there remains one salient, yet often overlooked fact: Reading isn’t only a matter of our brains; it’s something that we do with our bodies.”
  • Google engineer builds $1,500 page-turning scanner out of sheet metal and a vacuum. “For the past eight years, Google has been working on digitizing the world’s 130 million or so unique books. While the pace of new additions to the Google Books initiative has been slowing down, members of the team have come up with a new automated scanner design that could both make the project much more cost efficient and give everyone with $1,500 and a little know-how access to a page-turning scanner of their very own. In the video below, Google Books engineer Dany Qumsiyeh presents the prototype design that he and other teammates created during the “20 percent time” that Google (and now Apple, among others) allocates for personal projects, showing the design challenges he overcame along the way.”
  • I Will always be there with you. On May 1st of 2003, just weeks after being deployed to Iraq, Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens, of Springfield, Missouri was killed when his tank fell into the Euphrates river. He was 34-years-old. Shortly after his death, the following farewell letter was delivered to his bereaved wife, Melissa, and his 6-year-old stepson, Dakota (“Toad”).

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

This Monday’s Link Roundup has a site that will thrill the Über Grammarian. If that’s you, don’t miss The Online Dictionary of Language Terminology.   If you’re a Joan Didion fan, you’ll want to watch Joan Didion Reads From New Memoir, Blue Nights, in Short Film Directed by Griffin Dunne.  My favorite this week is How Friends Ruin Memory: The Social Conformity Effect. For personal historians it’s another reminder that the stories we record may have little to do with what actually took place.

  • 6 Ways to Sell Without Selling Your Soul. “Sure, you want to build a successful business, but not if it means losing who you are. Somehow, someway, you have to figure out how to make money without abandoning your values, and yet a part of you wonders … Is that really possible? The answer: Yes.”
  • The World Memory Project.The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has gathered millions of historical documents containing details about survivors and victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II. Ancestry.com has spent more than a decade creating advanced technological tools that have allowed billions of historical documents to become searchable online. Together, the two organizations have created the World Memory Project to allow the public to help make the records from the Museum searchable by name online for free.”
  • Joan Didion Reads From New Memoir, Blue Nights, in Short Film Directed by Griffin Dunne. “A mere twenty months after Joan Didion’s husband, John Gregory Dunne, died of a heart attack, Didion’s only child, Quintana Roo Dunne, contracted pneumonia, lapsed into septic shock and passed away. She was only 39 years old. Didion grappled with the first death in her 2005 bestseller, The Year of Magical Thinking. Now, with her new memoir Blue Nights, she turns to her child’s passing, to a parent’s worst fear realized.”
  • Framing a Creative Elevator Pitch. “The aim of an elevator pitch should not be to make a sale, get a job, or nab a sack full of money from a venture capitalist. Rather, it is to start a conversation. The ideal outcome of an elevator pitch is for the other person to look at her watch and say, “I’ve got a free hour. Let’s go have a coffee and talk about this.”
  • A Woman Of Photos And Firsts, Ruth Gruber At 100. “At the age of 100, Ruth Gruber is responsible for a lot of firsts. When she was just 20, she became the youngest Ph.D. ever at the University of Cologne in Germany. She was the first photojournalist, much less female journalist, to travel to and cover both the Soviet Arctic and Siberian gulag. She documented Holocaust survivors and the plight of the ship, the Exodus 1947.” [Thanks to Pat McNees of Writers and Editors for alerting me to this item.]
  • How Friends Ruin Memory: The Social Conformity Effect. “Humans are storytelling machines. We don’t passively perceive the world – we tell stories about it, translating the helter-skelter of events into tidy narratives… But our love of stories comes with a serious side-effect: like all good narrators, we tend to forsake the facts when they interfere with the plot. We’re so addicted to the anecdote that we let the truth slip away until, eventually, those stories we tell again and again become exercises in pure fiction.”

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The Year of Magical Thinking.

This past Saturday I attended the Canadian premiere of Joan Didion’s play The Year of Magical Thinking, based on her book by the same name. Both her book and play are extraordinary. The Chicago Sun-Times has said:

Unforgettable…Both personal and universal. She has given the reader an eloquent starting point in which to navigate through the wilderness of grief.

Didion’s work is a stark reminder of the frailty of life. In a heartbeat we can be  alone and bereft. And as she points out, this will happen to us all. I believe that personal historians are involved in important and soulful work. We make it possible to preserve the memories of those who will inevitably die. We create legacies that can be a part of the healing process for those left behind. Didion’s opening words to her book are achingly observant:

Life changes fast.

Life changes in the instant.

You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

If you haven’t read The Year of  Magical Thinking, I urge you to do so. If you have an opportunity to see the play, don’t miss it. If you haven’t yet started on your life story, begin today.

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