I’m not used to seeing that bright light in the east in the morning – I guess it’s the sun. The winter was so long that I’ve probably lost track of where things are supposed to be. As I’ve said before, we’ve had more severe winter weather in past years but this one just seemed to last forever.
Anyway, I’m going to take advantage of the dazzling day and catch up on some writing obligations while the mood is right and I don’t have to sit shivering by the keyboard. It is for sure a beautiful day. Blue skies, mild breeze, temps in the mid-70s. For a day or two, Nebraska will be almost sub-tropical. I’ll probably wait awhile, though, before I market the house as beach front property. But, with climate change and all, you never know when Stevens Creek or the Platte River might appear before my door step.
Writing-related news #1: The colleague that I am co-writing a book with has finalized a contract with a small independent publisher that specializes in military, military history, and veteran-related stories. I am fine with the choice, although it would probably not have been at the very top of my list. For various very good reasons, though, my friend wants to get the book out soon. If things fall into place it should be on the streets by August or September. It is titled – tentatively at least – Fire in the North: The Minnesota Uprising and the Sioux War in Dakota Territory. The book traces the story of his family – German immigrants in Minnesota – through a major Indian war that erupted suddenly in August, 1862. He has located an impressive cache of family correspondence, diaries, newspaper articles of the time, etc., that describe the family’s involvement. Very interesting stuff; several family members were direct participants; one died during the fighting at Fort Ridgely. The major writing is done and the photos, maps, and battlefield sketches with associated captions have been submitted. There is still quite a bit that remains to be done, though – the biggest items will involve checking the final printer’s proof and selecting the cover art. There will be paperback as well as hardback with dust cover versions.
Writing-related news #2: I received an invitation to speak at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago later this month. The Pritzker is a prestigious place and I was beyond totally surprised to be asked to talk there. The general topic will be the latest book, In the Shadows of Victory II: America’s Forgotten Military Leaders, The Spanish-American War to World War II. This being the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the Pritzker’s focus through 2018 is on a retrospective of the war. So, I will talk most about the World War I section and the “forgotten leaders” from that conflict. In a former life I used to speak to large audiences on a fairly routine basis. It has been some years since I have done that though, so I hoping that I won’t trip going up on stage, spill water on my notes, or stutter uncontrollably.
Other stuff: When Dr. Stephen Hawking, the great British scientist, died recently I bought another copy of his book A Brief History of Time. When I read the original version in 1988, I remember admiring the way he described very complex matters in easy terms -- although even with that support I confess I still did not understand some of the concepts very well. Last year he published an updated version, so that was the one I read this time. It is not a long book but there is new information on things like worm holes, string theory, etc. Must admit once again, that while he does a really good job of laying things out in laymen’s terms, I still have lots of questions about many of the concepts he discusses.
Hawking wrote in a very easy, relaxed manner and the book contains some interesting bits of humor. When he talked about time travel, he included the following limerick:
There was a young lady of Wight
Who traveled much faster than light.
She departed one day,
In a relative way,
And arrived on the previous night.
Other stuff: My daughter Laura recently did some research for a paper on East Germany (the German Democratic Republic/communist-oriented nation that existed from the end of World War II until Germany was reunified in 1990). She ran across some humorous stuff related to the Trabant, which was sort of East Germany’s national car. For those not familiar with it, the “Trabi” as it was called, was a mechanical disaster. You could almost tell at a distance when one was approaching by the exhaust fumes coming from it as it chugged down the street, often with doors, windows, or hoods, not fully closed, or fenders ready to separate from the chassis. Comparatively speaking, the Edsel was a Maserati. Still, it was almost the only thing of that nature that East Germany produced and eventually there developed a certain charm about it – a lovable loser sort of image that became part of the country’s folklore.
In lieu of poetry for this month’s newsletter, I thought you might enjoy a few Trabi jokes:
Why are the rear windows of Trabis heated?
So you can keep your hands warm while you push it.
Why is the Trabi named Luther?
Because Luther said at the Cathedral at Worms, “Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.”
A Trabi driver goes to a store to buy a radio:
“I would like a radio for my Trabi.”
“That’s a pretty bad trade for us.”
The Trabi: zero to 60 in 15 minutes.”
Hope you enjoyed the stories. Have a great summer.