Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day

On January 11, we celebrate Morse code. First demonstrated on January 11, 1838, by Alfred Vail and Samuel Morse, Morse code soon became commonly used by the military and the aviation industry worldwide. Morse Code was one of the most important innovations of communications the world has seen, serving as the foundation of one of the first high-speed communications networks in the world.

Morse Code is attributed to three different inventors, Samuel F. B. Morse, Physicist Joseph Henry, and Alfred Vail, who all worked together to produce a system of transmitting information via Electric Telegraph. There is an International Morse Code, which is based on the ISO basic Latin alphabet with some additions, including extra Latin letters, Arabic numerals, and punctuation and procedural signals. The inventors decided which combination of signals was assigned to each letter. They studied how often each letter in the English language was used. The most used letters were given the shorter sequences of dots and dashes. For example, the most commonly used letter in the English language — E — is represented by a single dot.

A person who calls herself Brownielocks created the holiday quite recently. She hoped to stir up interest in Morse code, which is falling out of use. (By the way, if you have never visited her site, it is chock full of fun holidays and other things. You can find it here.)

Morse code was critical for communication during World War II. It was also used as an international standard for communication at sea until 1999 when it was replaced by the Global Maritime Distress Safety System.

See and hear how you name – or any other phrase – sounds in Morse Code here. Quotelady looks like this: –.- ..- — – . .-.. .- -.. -.–

Quotes about communication

Everyone who is human has something to express. Try not expressing yourself for twenty-four hours and see what happens. You will nearly burst. You will want to write a long letter or draw a picture, or sing, or make a dress or a garden.–Brenda Ueland

The goal of effective communication should be for listeners to say, “Me, too!” versus “So what?”–Jim Rohn

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.–Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Increase your personal power through positive and powerful communication. Recognize and eliminate negative self talk.–Caterina Rando

It is easier to communicate with spirits than for one university department to communicate with another.–G. Wilson Knight

Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.–Carl Jung

A loud voice cannot compete with a clear voice, even if it’s a whisper.–Barry Neil Kaufman

The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.-–Peter Drucker

Once a human being has arrived on this earth, communication is the largest single factor determining what kinds of relationships he makes with others and what happens to him in the world about him.–Virginia Satir

Our most common way of talking is telling: asserting the truth about the way things are and must be, not allowing that there might be other truths and possibilities. And our most common way of listening is not listening: listening only to our own talking, not to others.–Adam Kahane

Precision of communication is important, more important than ever in our era of hair-trigger balances, when a false, or misunderstood word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act.–James Thurber

Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.–Joseph Pulitzer

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Word Nerd Day

January 9 is a special holiday for me because I am definitely a word nerd. Some sites offer boring descriptions of this day, by saying it is a day to increase your vocabulary. But I think Adweek hits it on the head when they give clues for telling if you are a word nerd. “You love to read. You have at least one “Word a Day” calendar, app or e-mail subscription. You can’t look past spelling and punctuation errors on signs and restaurant menus. You may or may not carry a red pen on your person to correct egregious errors on the fly.” I don’t carry a red pen, but I can’t help noticing grammatical errors whenever they occur. It’s as if my brain is on automatic, correcting the mistake, though thankfully, it almost always happens internally, so I don’t annoy people! Of course, I also get Merriam Webster’s Word of the Day in my email box every morning.

Let me add a few other indications. You search a thesaurus either in print or online to find exactly the word you need, but often get sidetracked by following the relations among words. You are very particular about which dictionary you own. You always do the word or grammar quizzes on Facebook, and most often ace them. You are the go-to person at work to look over emails or other writing. You have a list of favorite words for various reasons. I love ubiquitous and verisimilitude because of the sound, and lath and dun because those are the words that set me on the course of word nerdiness. When I looked them up in the dictionary when young, it was a revelation to me how much richer it made the text when I actually knew what the word meant.

So whether or not you are a word nerd, this is a day to celebrate words.

Quotes about words

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.–Robert McCloskey

As a poet and writer, I deeply love and I deeply hate words. I love the infinite evidence and change and requirements and possibilities of language; every human use of words that is joyful, or honest, or new because experience is new. . . . But, as a black poet and writer, I hate words that cancel my name and my history and the freedom of my future: I hate the words that condemn and refuse the language of my people in America.–June Jordan

Be careful of the words you say,
Keep them short and sweet.
You never know, from day to day,
Which ones you’ll have to eat.—Anonymous

A great many people think that polysyllables are a sign of intelligence.–Barbara Walters

I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.–Emily Dickinson

I like good strong words that mean something.–Louisa May Alcott

If words are to enter men’s minds and bear fruit, they must be the right words shaped cunningly to pass men’s defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds.–J. B. Phillips

It’s always a bit of a struggle to get the words right, whether we’re a Hemingway or a few fathoms below his level.–Rene J. Cappon

Kind words are a creative force, a power that concurs in the building up of all that is good, and energy that showers blessings upon the world.– Lawrence G. Lovasik

My task which I am trying to achieve is by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel – it is, before all, to make you see. That – and no more, and it is everything.–Joseph Conrad

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Old Rock Day

On January 7, we are not celebrating Rock ‘n Roll, but rather actual old rocks. It is a day when geologists and others celebrate rocks and fossils. As most of us learned in school, there are three main classes of rocks, sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous.

When I was young, we had a cottage on Lake Ontario. The shore there was made up of sedimentary rocks, that is, rocks formed from sand, shells, and other fragments. Our rocks were mainly sandstone, a reddish stone formed when the area was all underwater.

Where I visited in Ireland along the shores of Lough Foyle, the rocks were metamorphic, part of a shelf of such rocks which extend out from Scotland. They were rugged, but not as hard as granite, for instance.

Volcanic areas like Oregon are rich in igneous rock, molten material which has cooled and hardened. Some, like granite, are rough and useful for building, but obsidian is a beautiful natural black glass.

For the geologist, rocks are useful in several ways. First, by using radiometric dating, they can tell us the age of a particular outcropping. They can also tell the history of an area, particularly in places like canyons where different ages can be seen by studying the walls. Fossils tell us what an area was like long ago.

The graphic I chose for this blog is Stonehenge, aanother fascinating look at old rocks. It is amazing how ancient people managed to build something so massive. Even more than trees, rocks tie us to the past, since they existed long before we were here, as places like Stonehenge attest. It is awe-inspiring to realize stone age people looked at the same rocks.

So appreciate the rocks around you today.

Quotes about rocks

There will always be rocks in the road ahead of us. They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones; it all depends on how you use them.–Friedrich Nietzsche

Rock is a great master of life. It teaches us this simple philosophy: Stay firm!–Mehmet Murat Ildan

We have forgotten what rocks and plants still know – we have forgotten how to be – to be still – to be ourselves – to be where life is here and now–Eckhart Tolle

In matters of principle stand like a rock.–Thomas Jefferson

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Geologists have a saying – rocks remember.–Neil Armstrong

That memorable day died in purple and gold, and just as the last traces of the sunset faded in the west and the star-lilies filled the sky, the full moon looked down over the rim of the valley, and the great rocks, catching the silvery glow, came forth out of the dusky shadows like very spirits.–John Muir

Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything – even mountains, rivers, plants and trees – should be your teacher.–Morihei Ueshiba

All the lessons are in nature. You look at the way rocks are formed – the wind and the water hitting them, shaping them, making them what they are. Things take time, you know?–Diane Lane

As with other phases of nature, I have probably loved the rocks more than I have studied them.–John Burroughs

One billion grains of sand come into existence in the world each second. That’s a cyclical process. As rocks and mountains die, grains of sand are born. Some of those grains may then cement naturally into sandstone. And as the sandstone weathers, new grains break free. Some of those grains may then accumulate on a massive scale, into a sand dune.–Magnus Larsson

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National Screenwriters Day

January 5 we celebrate the folks who write movies, television shows, video games, and other such. Although in one sense a writer is a writer, when you write for the screen, there are different challenges. When you write a novel, everything is done through the power of words and imagination. In writing for the screen, words and visuals work together to make the story. Also, of course, the several media all require something different from the writer. Writing a television show with established characters is very different from a standalone two hour movie, which is very different again from the complexities of a video game. Another difference is that the writer is not writing to please him or herself, but must work closely with others to create a shared vision for what the finished story will look like, and what the budget can handle.

Those who write for the screen face some other challenges. One of them is that the story must fit the rhythm of the show, particularly for television. Each show is put together in a different way. For instance, a particular show may have a few minute teaser before the beginning credits, then each act will be a certain length between commercials. The writer must get the story across in approximately 42 minutes for an hour length show, and approximately 21 minutes for a half hour show and most of that will be dialog. There is also a particular style of putting the story together using particular words and ways of writing. For instance, you may begin a scene with the words INTERIOR SUSIE’S LIVING ROOM.

So next time you watch your favorite movie or television show, give a thought to the talented folks whose imagination created the story that gives us so many hours of enjoyment.

Quotes about screenwriting

To make a great film you need three things – the script, the script and the script.–Alfred Hitchcock

Scripts are what matter. If you get the foundations right and then you get the right ingredients on top, you stand a shot… but if you get those foundations wrong, then you absolutely don’t stand a shot. It’s very rare–almost never–that a good film gets made from a bad screenplay.–Tim Bevan

There’s nothing more important in making movies than the screenplay.–Richard Attenborough

Film’s thought of as a director’s medium because the director creates the end product that appears on the screen. It’s that stupid auteur theory again, that the director is the author of the film. But what does the director shoot—the telephone book? Writers became much more important when sound came in, but they’ve had to put up a valiant fight to get the credit they deserve.–Billy Wilder

Once you crack the script, everything else follows.–Ridley Scott

Give me a good script, and I’ll be a hundred times better as a director.–George Cukor

What has always been at the heart of film making was the value of a script. It was really the writer who could make or break a film.–Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

There’s no question that a great script is absolutely essential, maybe the essential thing for a movie to succeed.–Sydney Pollack

Screenwriting is the most prized of all the cinematic arts. Actually, it isn’t, but it should be.–Hugh Laurie

I could be just a writer very easily. I am not a writer. I am a screenwriter, which is half a filmmaker. … But it is not an art form, because screenplays are not works of art. They are invitations to others to collaborate on a work of art.–Paul Schrader

You can dress it up, but it comes down to the fact that a movie is only as good as its script.–Curtis Hanson

The script, I always believe, is the foundation of everything.–Ewan McGregor

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As we begin a new year, I thought it might be interesting to look at the month itself. As the second month of winter (northern hemisphere) or summer (southern hemisphere), January is either the coldest month of the year, or the warmest. Where I am right now, it is definitely cold, and the temperatures don’t look like going up anytime soon. Brr!

The month is associated with the god Janus, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys; doorways were often named after him. The worship of Janus traditionally dated back to Romulus and a period even before the actual founding of the city of Rome. There were many jani (i.e., ceremonial gateways) in Rome. These usually freestanding structures were used for symbolically auspicious entrances or exits. The beginning of the day, month, and year, both calendrical and agricultural, were sacred to him.

Conventional wisdom says that January was named for Janus, It was the first month of the Roman calendar, as it is of our current one. It was added to the Roman calendar around 700 BCE, replacing March as the first month of the year around 450 BCE.

In January, besides New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Day, we celebrate such holidays as Buffet Day (2), Drinking Straw Day (3), Trivia Day (4), Bird Day (5), Epiphany (6), and Bobblehead Day (7), during just the first week. It is Book Blitz Month, Get A Balanced Life Month, International Brain Teaser Month, Hot Tea Month, Polka Music Month, and Soup Month to name a few.

So stay warm (or cool) and celebrate this first month of the year.

Quotes about January

January has only one thing to be said for it: it is followed by February. Nothing so well becomes its passing.–Katherine Tynan

The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer.  Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change.  It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.–Vita Sackville-West

January is the quietest month in the garden. … But just because it looks quiet doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.  The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall while microorganisms convert tilled-under fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants.  The feasting earthworms tunnel along, aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come.–Rosalie Muller Wright

Bare branches of each tree on this chilly January morn look so cold so forlorn. Gray skies dip ever so low left from yesterday’s dusting of snow. Yet in the heart of each tree waiting for each who wait to see new life as warm sun and breeze will blow, like magic, unlock springs sap to flow, buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.–Nelda Hartmann

To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June.–Jean-Paul Sartre

It is deep January. The sky is hard. The stalks are firmly rooted in ice.- Wallace Stevens

The Old Year has gone.  Let the dead past bury its own dead.  The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time.  All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months!–Edward Payson Powell

Come, ye cold winds, at January’s call,
On whistling wings, and with white flakes bestrew
The earth.–John Ruskin

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World Day of Peace

January 1 is designated at the World Day of Peace. It is a feast day of the Roman Catholic Church and was established in 1967 by Pope Paul IV. Generally, the pope uses it to give a message about social issues of the day. In years past, some of the messages have been entitled, “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace,” “To Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation,” “Non-violence, a Style of Politics for Peace,” and the 2018 message, “Migrants and Refugees, Men and Women in Search of Peace.”

Although specifically a Catholic holy day, the first day of the year is an appropriate one to think about peace. Our world can be a very troubled place, and to set aside at least one day to think about peace is a good thing.

If this seems like a hopeless thing, r a dream, there are ways to start small to promote peace. Here are a few ideas.

  1. Work on your own inner peace. Peace starts within. Become aware of your mood, and direct it towards peacefulness. Meditate, or stop to breathe deeply or focus your thoughts.
  2. Look for ways to spread kindness to friends, family, coworkers, or even strangers. Pay attention to what would be helpful to those closest to you.
  3. Try to balance work and life. Don’t spend so much time making money that you forget to live.
  4. Watch out for prejudice. We all have them, but the more we can eliminate prejudice and see people as simply people, the more we will treat folks as human beings.
  5. Choose your attitude. We may have no control over circumstances, but we do over how we react to them. If we react with calmness, it will add to the peace in the area.

May today and all of this year bring you peace.

Quotes about peace

The arms race can kill, though the weapons themselves may never be used … by their cost alone, armaments kill the poor by causing them to starve.–Vatican statement to the U.N., 1976

The basis of world peace is the teaching which runs through almost all the great religions of the world. “Love they neighbor as thyself.”–Eleanor Roosevelt

Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.–Martin Luther King, Jr.

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.–David Friedman

Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.–Mahatma Gandhi

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.–Dwight David Eisenhower

Five enemies of peace inhabit with us–avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride; if these were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace.–Petrarch

I would like to see every single soldier on every single side, just take off your helmet, unbuckle you kit, lay down your rifle, and set down at the side of some shady lane, and say, nope, I ain’t a gonna kill nobody. Plenty of rich folks wants to fight. Give them the guns.–Woody Guthrie

If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.–Thich Nhat Hanh

There is no way to peace, peace is the way.–A. J. Muste

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Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute

December 30 is the strangely named Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. It is a day that looks both forward and back, right at the end of the year.

It looks back, to the resolutions made last January. Didn’t quite meet them? There are two days left in the year to get busy and make those changes. There might not be time to meet them totally – such as losing ten pounds – but you can make a change today that points you in the right direction.

It looks forward, in that the day encourages people to think thoughtfully about resolutions for next year, rather than make them in the heat of the moment on January 1. Think about what you really hope to accomplish next year, write it down, and make a plan to change. It is important to create a plan to make that resolution a reality, because as Napoleon Hill said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

Of course, the big question is why is this called a festival? You usually have a festival with a group of other like-minded folks. New Year’s resolutions are usually written alone. There doesn’t seem to be any satisfactory answer. So here’s my suggestion. For you extroverts, invite friends and/or family over and have a party, discussing and planning your resolutions for next year. For you introverts, have an introvert’s favorite kind of party, just you, snacks, and something to record your thoughts – pencil and paper, computer, or however you work best.

So put on your thinking cap, and make a plan for the next year, either alone or with others. What do you want to accomplish? Think it through and record it. May next year be the one where dreams become goals and get accomplished.

Quotes about goals

Acquire purpose, rather than possessions. Fulfillment is not found through the achievement of goals.–Michael Rawls

An average person with average talent, ambition and education, can outstrip the most brilliant genius in our society, if that person has clear, focused goals.–Brian Tracey

Committing your goals to paper increases the likelihood of your achieving them by one-thousand percent!–Brian Tracey

A commitment without a goal is like a trip without a map: odds are you won’t get where you want to be.–Mark Sanborn

Don’t set your goals too low. If you don’t need much, you won’t become much.–Jim Rohn

A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. A goal is what specifically you intend to make happen. Dreams and goals should be just out of your present reach but not out of sight. Dreams and goals are coming attractions in your life.–Joseph Campbell

The easiest way to set goals is to answer the following questions: What is it I want to achieve? When do I want to achieve it? Where am I today and what action do I need to take to achieve my goal?–Catherine Pulsifer

Even if you can’t just snap your fingers and make a dream come true, you can travel in the direction of your dream, every single day and you can shorten the distance between the two of you.–Douglas Pagels

A goal is created three times. First as a mental picture. Second, when written down to add clarity and dimension. And third, when you take action towards its achievement.–Gary Ryan Blair

The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.—Michelangelo

The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.–Ben Stein

Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer to your goal.–Elbert Hubbard

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