Born To Be Miserable

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The text below the ****** (stars) appeared on the Columbus Public Library site on November 2, 2010:

Great Reads

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October 30, 2010

A few nights ago, I was walking my pup through the leaf-littered Clintonville sidewalks in my neighborhood. It was after ten on a cloudy Sunday night, and the streets were empty. As we crunched through the dry leaves, I looked around, creeped out. Pup was jumpy, too, and I found myself thinking about the Halloween Ham scene in the Book That Changed My Life.

I stumbled across To Kill a Mockingbird when I was eleven; it was my first adult read, and from its opening line, “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow”, I knew I’d found a story that would hold my attention—at eleven, and through each decade when I’d reread this classic.

“Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it…A day was twenty-four hours long, but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with…” intones Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout. Along with Jem, her brother, older by four years, and seven-year old Dill, who visits next-door each summer, the three look for adventure in their Depression-era little town. A favorite activity is creating stories centering on their unseen neighbor, Arthur “Boo” Radley, a recluse. Boo stabbed his father in the leg years before, and was confined to the house by his parents. The house was the typical scary/creepy neighborhood house, so it provides great inspiration for their Gothic creations.

Jem and Scout’s father, Atticus, is called on to defend a young black man accused of rape. Although it is patently apparent that the charges are false, some in the tiny Alabama town don’t want to stand up to the racist father, who is obviously trying to cover up his own crimes of abuse, and possibly incest.

So where does the Mockingbird image fit in? Jem receives an air rifle for Christmas, with an admonishment from his father, “Shoot all the blue jays you want…but remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” When Scout questions that statement, Dill’s aunt explains, “They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.”

It is Lee’s amazing narrative voice that makes this Depression-era coming-of-age story so very compelling. Scout’s voice remains true, be she six years old, or telling her story in retrospect. There’s a gentle wryness to Scout’s voice, probably that of Lee herself, that softens the harsh themes of racism. This is a tale about growing up and discovering that adults can be racist and cruel, but it is also a tale about finding your own voice, and gaining the courage to face those who would try to deny anyone their basic rights.

A few fun facts about TKAM:
To date, this is Harper Lee’s only published novel.
The character Dill, was based on Lee’s best friend, Truman Capote. Like Dill, Truman Capote would spend summers with his aunts, next door to Lee. Early works by Capote have a very similar style to Mockingbird; there have been suggestions that Capote himself had a hand in the story.

Like Atticus, Lee’s father was a lawyer. Lee herself studied law and the University of Alabama.

Frustrated while writing the book, Lee tossed the work-in-progress out a window, and into the snow. Her agent convinced her to retrieve it.

Like the Radley’s, Lee’s street in Monroeville, Alabama had a family who lived in a boarded-up house. The son had gotten into some legal trouble, and the family kept him locked up in the house.

My comments: 

I could write a book like this also - because of happenings here in Ohio. My ex-husband was important, my fiancé was important, but I a female am supposed to think that I am not anything in Ohio because of this racketeering and crime influenced area. Truman Capote? Depression Era? To Kill a Mockingbird? Nope.

I laughed loudly when reading this, not even daring to cover my mouth to be more 'ladylike' because my story, which is not supposed to be told or published, or read or heard has to do with modern day people in Ohio like "the Al Capone policed gang" from Wooster, Ohio and other mobster tales that are current including real people who are still alive.

Shhhhhh. Don't talk. Don't think. Don't feel. Find a way to escape. Maybe you, this female author offer what people need in crime states - the opportunity to escape from reality, knowing that reality is not apt to change.

Thanks for your contribution. :)


Kimberly Koerber-Bauer-Koerber


Monday, November 1, 2010


November 1, 2010

First of five parts
In Russian folklore, the Volga River is mother and mistress, comrade and beloved companion and subject of tall tales.
For today's Russia, it remains all of the above and an important source of water, power and transport.
Stretching 2,300 miles, the Volga is about the length of the Mississippi and the longest river in Europe. It rises out of swamps northwest of Moscow in the Valdai Hills. Fed along its way by lakes and smaller rivers, it expands to become the mighty Volga, wending its way through Russia's heartland and eventually flowing south to the Caspian Sea.
According to a Russian proverb, the know Russia is to know the Volga. But looking at the river's slow, smooth-flowing water, it's hard to fathom what a huge burden it carries. The Volga basin makes up 8 percent of the vast Russian territory. It carves its way through European Russia, supporting more than 25 percent of the country's agriculture and industry. Some 40 percent of the country's population is concentrated within the river's vast basin.
In the 16th century, forces of the grand princes of Moscow moved south from the city, conquering the long reach of the Volga, creating what is now known as Russia. Eleven of Russia's 20 largest cities had their beginnings as Volga fortresses.
Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR

Through Russia's early imperial history and the rise of the Romanov czars, the river played a key role.
The bloody civil war following the 1917 revolution was decided on the Volga. During World War II, 1 million Russians died defending the river.

Ever-Evolving, And Ever-Necessary
But it is now much more than just a river. It also includes a complex web of lakes, smaller rivers and manmade canals stretching from the far north to the country's southern reaches.
"Thanks to canals, the Volga is now the main link in a huge system which has allowed Russia to be connected to the White Sea far to the north, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Caspian," says Rostislav Frolov, a professor at the Academy of River Transportation in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.
By the 20th century, Moscow desperately needed the Volga. When Russia was still but a collection of principalities, it had been founded on the much smaller Moskva River. Then, Russia's isolation had been its strength.
But the world had changed. Soviet leader Josef Stalin harnessed nature with prison labor in 1933, constructing a canal to link Moscow to the Volga 80 miles north. Unknown thousands died in the process.
On a recent day, schmaltzy music accompanies a cruise ship as it pulls out of a Moscow port. But one passenger cringes, saying, "We are floating on bones."
But without this canal, river expert Vladimir Debolsky says the expanding Russian capital could not have prospered.

"The Moscow River, which often dried up, could not supply the capital's growing needs. Now, 90 percent of water for this city of 10 million comes from the Volga," says Debolsky, of the Institute of Water Problems, part of the Academy of Science in Moscow.

"Many died building this canal. I have no love for Stalin. But there was no other way to do it, given the conditions of the time," Debolsky says.

As the cruise ship moves through a wide canal into the Volga, it passes a half-drowned bell tower, where villages were flooded. And then there's the first of many reservoirs checking the river's flow south. Under Stalin, the river was also tamed to provide hydroelectric power. He pulled the river into a noose and put it to work. There are now eight vast reservoirs, among the largest in the world.
The Russian flag hangs from a cruise ship traveling down the Volga River from Moscow.

The Russian flag hangs from a cruise ship traveling down the Volga River from Moscow.

Political, Economic Uncertainty

In winter, the Volga ices up. River transport shuts down. But until the frost forms, sailboats and speedboats ply the waters. Fishermen in more modest craft bob along the low-lying forested shore.

What's not visible lately is much commercial traffic — even in what should be the busy season. For long stretches, it seems the cruise ship owns the river.

Passenger and cargo transport is way down. In 1989, Russian inland river transport was 600 million tons, about equal to the U.S. It's now down to 100 million tons, according to government statistics.

In the chaotic 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, ships were broken up for metal and quick cash.

Efforts are being made to restore the fleet, but rebuilding what was so quickly destroyed is difficult and expensive.
 biologist Gennady Rozenberg, at the Russian Academy of Sciences in the Volga city of Togliatti, says the political and economic crises have brought some good news — at least for now.

"There's much less industry now and pollution is therefore less," he says. "However, this improvement has nothing to do with environmental measures. Now that the government says it is going to double the GDP, we can expect a lot of new serious [pollution] problems," Rozenberg says.

Without adequate study and regulation he anticipates the river's delicate system will be overwhelmed.

Scientists studying the river have watched their funding drop. Debolsky, at the Institute of Water Problems, is alarmed.

"I am old. After me, there is only one person left in my department. There are no young people following on. And we need time to train them," Debolsky says.

Anne Garrels for NPR

Trash is the bane of the Volga shoreline. Commercial traffic has slowed and pollution has decreased in recent years but a push for more commerce has many fearing another rise in water problems.

Protecting The Nation's Pride

But if the fate of the river is uncertain, its place in Russia's national consciousness is assured.

There isn't a Russian who doesn't know the song of the Volga boatmen and the words "Volga, Volga, you are our pride."

If the Volga is to remain the nation's pride — and lifeblood — it needs care. Forests along the river are being cut, affecting runoff. Smaller rivers feeding the Volga are drying up. Like the Mississippi, there are looming problems with decreasing water levels and stagnant, tainted reservoirs.

Environmental groups such as Protect the River have stepped into the breach to help with monitoring and public education.

Elena Kolpakova, who heads the branch in Nizhny Novgorod, has been working on these issues since 1991. She says valuable contacts with more experienced Western organizations have been officially discouraged. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's government has made it extremely difficult for outsiders to support and aid Russian non-governmental organizations of all types.

She regrets these new complications because she says foreign groups have helped a great deal in the past. She says it's still hard to get financial support in Russia, though it's slowly improving.

Green movements, evident in the U.S. and Europe, have yet to gain momentum in Russia.

With the push to develop, those worried about the Volga say Russians are more concerned with other issues.

'Where Are We Going?'

The Volga also reflects Russia's patchwork of ethnic groups. Many who live along the Volga were once violently subjugated. But they are now rediscovering their roots, most noticeably in the Volga city of Kazan, where new minarets and gilt Orthodox copulas compete for prominence on the city's skyline. Half of the 1 million residents of this oil-rich city are Tatar Muslims.

So far, Kazan has been an example of prosperity and peaceful co-existence. But Valiulla Yakukov, deputy mufti of the government-backed Muslim religious board of the Republic of Tatarstan, says the Muslim establishment has not responded to the interests and desires of young Muslims.

He worries the extremism and violence that has torn apart other Muslim regions of Russia could erupt here. He fears that an influx of conservative ideas from abroad is beginning to undermine local traditions of tolerance and could threaten the stability of the region.

"I am not an optimist," he says.

The soothing sound of the river as it flows through Russia is deceptive.

Along the Volga, historians fight over the country's legacy, environmentalists struggle to get people's attention, politicians vie for power and ordinary Russians ask the eternal Russian question: Where are we going?

Up Next: Headed downriver into uncertain times in Russia's heartland

Anne Garrels for NPR


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Governor Strickland and Ohio.....

According to researchers, there were no new jobs brought into Ohio during the Strickland Administration, yet there is a 65 minute wait to use the internet at the main library in the downtown hub of Columbus for a second hour. 
Something to think about!

Episcopal/Anglican Church Shield in blue

Episcopal/Anglican Church Shield in blue
"I have been a member of the Episcopal Church all of my life"

About Me

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Hello! I am a Social Worker (since 1990) and a writer. I am seeking writing jobs, funding for my Writing business called "the Indigo Drum" and a way to run an office again, plus a car.