Smorgasbord–Variety is the Spice of Life, Sally Cronin’s Wonderful Site

We’ve been featured on Sally Cronin’s site, as have countless other authors. Her Smorgasbord site is the fifth link to writer sites featured in Eagle Peak Quarterly. This is excerpted from the October Quarterly. 

Sally Cronin’s fabulous site is indeed a smorgasbord. Colloquially, people apply this term to all sorts of things beyond the Scandinavian term for a buffet meal. Being of Norwegian descent in part, I know about the latter. Not so ironically, a fair bit of Sally’s site does deal with health and nutrition—i.e., food. But it also covers medical topics, travel and much more. We include it here for all the writing she does herself as well as the promotion of other writers through featuring their writing. There’s no pigeonhole in which to put this site—so the title is quite apt. It’s a fitting end (for now) to the category of links to writer sites.

Sally Cronin, from her website

In addition to much useful information on the site itself, Sally is a writer of many books. Look here:

See her books and reviews page for 2017. Go here for much more—including reviews, more buy links, etc.

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The Vietnam War on PBS and Other Things to Check Out on the Web

This is excerpted from the October Eagle Peak Quarterly.  In each issue the Quarterly suggests items it thinks are worth checking out on the web. In October 2017, first and foremost is the one below, on the recently aired film about the Vietnam War and its effects on both America and that country.

Here’s what PBS says about it on their site.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s ten-part, 18-hour documentary series, THE VIETNAM WAR, tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history as it has never before been told on film. Visceral and immersive, the series explores the human dimensions of the war through revelatory testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides—Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as combatants and civilians from North and South Vietnam. Ten years in the making, the series includes rarely seen and digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th Century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, and secret audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. THE VIETNAM WAR features more than 100 iconic musical recordings from greatest artists of the era and haunting original music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross as well as the Silk Road Ensemble featuring Yo-Yo Ma.

On a less politically and emotionally charged topic, you can also check out two beautiful photo montages on Nat Geo. Fall foliage and a trip to Norway.

Sunset over Senja Island, Norway. PHOTOGRAPH BY TOMÁŠ HAVEL, YOUR SHOT
View of Heart Lake and the Algonquin and Wright peaks in Adirondack Park, New York. PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL MELFORD, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE
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Planning that Trip to Walt Disney World

Now is a good time to start planning that summer trip to Walt Disney World next year. What–already? Yes. Take it from Juanita Maberry, whose article “Let’s Go to Walt Disney World,” appeared in the October Eagle Peak Quarterly.  This post is excerpted from her article. 

If you’ve never been to Disney World I really recommend it, no matter what age you are. [Note: While you will see people there with toddlers, bringing your own will complicate your life–requiring naps, getting tired and cranky, etc. You and they will enjoy the experience more after they’re six or seven.] I mentally feel 50+ years younger when I am there and I always have a great time. From your resort (if you’re staying on site, which I recommend), to the parks, restaurants, shopping areas, and lounges you’re surrounded by all things Disney. There is a wonderful themed pool at each resort. Some resorts have beaches, many have table service restaurants, others have lounges and some have entertainment.”

Those Disney critters are everywhere!

Disney World has four theme parks: Magic Kingdom (the first park to open on October 1, 1971), Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. There are also 2 water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon), 29 resorts and a campground, 5 golf courses, 2 mini-golf courses, many lakes (offering water sports, boating, and fishing), 2 dinner shows, an entertainment district (BoardWalk), and a shopping/restaurant district called Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney).

Each park is located in a different area of Disney World, which is massive?the size of San Francisco or 25,000 acres. Animal Kingdom Park is 500 acres, Epcot is 300 acres, Hollywood Studios is 154 acres, and Magic Kingdom is 107 acres. Just for comparison, Disneyland in Anaheim, California is 85 acres (they have now opened a second park there, California Adventures, 72 acres). So a vacation in Disney World means walking, walking, and more walking but you’ll love the free buses to get you from your resort hotel to the parks. There are also two monorail lines and boats along waterways. Each Disney World park is different with different attractions and shows.


Stuff no one tells you about Disney World

It is huge! Each park is huge and you will do a lot of walking. It is important start walking months before you go to Disney World. You can easily walk miles a day at any of the parks. If you’re not used to walking, it can be a grueling experience. Don’t wear new shoes to Disney World, bring those that are well worn in, this is extremely important. You can also shop for stuff like ear hats and backpacks before you leave home; the Disney Store sometimes will even have sales. Stuff you buy at Disney World is expensive.

If you don’t want to do all this work yourself, many travel agents can help you with this. However, you still need to provide them with your budget, when you want to go, and other information as I have mentioned. I have heard that some of them will do everything for you at no cost to you and will apply any discounts and deals that pop up automatically.

One critical thing to know: you cannot do it all in one visit. You need to select what you can do or want to do and set your priorities. You can always go back. Be aware that things are always changing at Disney World. They will discontinue a ride or event and replace it with something else periodically.

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Acknowledgements: It's all Juanita Maberry

An Interview With Tony Goodlette

This an excerpt from an interview with Tony Goodlette, which appeared in the October Eagle Peak Quarterly. Tony is reluctant to take credit for successes that his contributions in government and the private sector have generated. With some difficulty, we pried them out of him.

Tony Goodlette is reluctant to stop working. At 73, he’s finally put in for retirement from the US State Department. He’s retired before, but after the 9/11 attacks he returned to work on security issues to protect State Department facilities from terrorists—including personnel and civilian visitors. He’s also a 37-year member of and senior leader within the SGI-USA Buddhist organization. His practice of Nichiren Buddhism has helped in surviving and transcending a variety of challenges to his health while contributing to successes in the workplace and the community.

Quarterly: You spent eight years in Vietnam, from 1967 to the fall of Saigon in 1975. That’s much more than the time that most US military personnel (including the generals) spent there during the war. Tell us what you were doing all that time.

T. Goodlette: I spent the first three years in the US military. I left the country for a day and came back in the employ of a variety of consulting firms associated with other elements of the US government, as well as the US State Department.

Quarterly: Can you be more specific?

T. Goodlette: Up to a point, without naming names. As you probably know, from history books and movies, most wars offer many opportunities for people to profit illegally—selling goods, materiel or weapons on the black market. You can read examples of that in a book by June Collins, a woman met while in Vietnam. I spent much of my time combating those kinds of activities working for a major defense contractor associated with a federal agency that will remain nameless. I worked closely with the US military, security and law enforcement, civilians and South Vietnamese government officials.

Quarterly: You were there until the fall of Saigon and helped evacuate people in 1975?

T. Goodlette: Yes, a very difficult and traumatic time. Over the course of six days, with limited sleep, I ensured the safe evacuation of hundreds of American families and South Vietnamese from various locations within the country.

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Acknowledgements: Tony's words are his own

The Global Solidarity of Youth: Ushering in a New Era of Hope

This is an extended excerpt from a recent article by long-time SGI member Michèle de Gastyne that appeared in the October Eagle Peak Quarterly. Her piece focuses on elements she found noteworthy in the 2017 Peace Proposal of the same title, published on January 26th, by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. De Gastyne’s thoughts are excerpted and condensed from a more comprehensive article on her blog. Unless otherwise indicated by a link, all quotations from Daisaku Ikeda are from his 2017 recommendations.

Essay, “on Nuclear Disarmament, Human Rights Education, SDGs and ‘Leaving No One Behind’,” by Michèle de Gastyne

Involve Youth in Global Programs

How many people feel there’s nothing ordinary citizens can do in the face of the 15,000+ nuclear arms that exist on our planet? If you fit into that large category, I’d like to share another way of viewing Humanity’s current situation. Without one trace of pessimism in his recommendations, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda asserts we must include youth at the forefront. He calls youth the “critical agents of change who embody hope” in finding and implementing international solutions, including the most intractable.

Many will be surprised to read that last statement. But the realization of its truth is already making its way within the U.N. system and hallways of governments. I hope after reading this piece, a few more people will be equally convinced there is a clear path forward for a safer world, which is also more just and harmonious.

Take this inspiring paragraph, for example: “It’s estimated there are currently 1.8 billion young people between the ages of ten and twenty-four living in our world today. If these young people, rather than resorting to conflict and violence, can come to uphold and protect the core values of human rights, I am positive that a path toward a “pluralist and inclusive society”–as articulated in the U.N. “Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training”–can be brought into being.”

Likewise, Dr. David Nabarro, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, said:

‘[W]e have to make sure there’s space for young people everywhere to be part of this movement for sustainable development. . . young people want to work together with joy, they want to trust each other.’

Nabarro’s remarks came at “Youth Boosting the Promotion and the Implementation of SDGs,” an SGI co-sponsored UN event [SDGs or Sustainable Development Goals are a UN-developed set of 17 goals and 169 targets to sustain habitability of the World as development occurs].

For Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, End Deterrence and Empower Grass-Roots Involvement

There is a powerful case for “participative democracy” and transparency in this peace proposal. Ikeda encourages individuals and groups to publish statements indicating their commitment to a nuclear weapons-free world. Or to hold grass-roots events on the significance of a people-driven international treaty in the spirit of the Einstein-Russell Manifesto of 1955, which he quotes, “We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.“

Ikeda says the supposed deterrence of a nuclear umbrella is actually a “sword of Damocles” hanging over the head of humanity. He urges ordinary citizens to promote the idea through NGOs and Civil Society that nuclear conflicts must never be fought. He urges working hard to include participation of U.N. treaty negotiations for prohibiting the existence of nuclear weapons, reminding us that Japan has a particular responsibility. Never losing his optimism, he nonetheless warns that nuclear states would need strong encouragement from their citizens in order to move toward this goal because of vested interests.

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Acknowledgements: The essay is by Michele de Gastyne an more...

Vietnam and Waiting for Westmoreland–Two Anniversaries

This an extended excerpt from an article by John Maberry that appeared in the October Eagle Peak Quarterly.

Most people, I suspect, celebrate anniversaries as special occasions. They exchange cards or gifts and perhaps go out to dinner. These anniversaries aren’t like that. They are reference points in the tapestry of life. They’re signposts of events that have significantly affected the trajectory of my existence or describe it.

My arrival in South Vietnam came fifty years ago, in September 1967. Ten years ago in September, I published the memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland. (WFW)

This special feature in the Quarterly is more of an observance of those two anniversaries than a celebration of them. It’s also an announcement of a special tenth anniversary edition of WFW coming later this fall. It will feature a new cover, a foreword by an accomplished friend who’s known me for forty years, a brief preface and an expanded epilogue. Those ending words will include a few paragraphs from an update to WFW. My human revolution (a profound change in one’s character—a fundamental benefit of practicing Buddhism) continues so I must share it. The current plan calls for that book to be out two years from now but perhaps it will come sooner. I have a sci-fi novel to get out next year and another novel in 2020. This is my Third Age and I cannot relax too much.

The memories of Vietnam are as vivid as though it were last year—or even last month. Memories of sweating in the shade of tropical heat. Taking turns awake on the berm surrounding the base camp at Bear Cat, sleeping atop rock hard sandbags. Listening to the brothers talking about the two Mister Charlies they were fighting—the Viet Cong and Whitey. Watching how the drinkers and the dopers responded to nighttime alerts—the former in a daze, slowly, and the latter with no impediment. So a few months in, I joined the smokers—buying the shredded salad sized bags of marijuana that went for five dollars. Eventually I gave into the illicit sex too, in shacks with walls made of ammo crates from American munitions.

In WFW, I recounted my loss of innocence and the shattering of illusions about America’s virtue. We weren’t really there to fight for and protect those people. We were there fighting the Cold War by proxy. Fearing that the “domino effect” could mean the loss of all of Southeast Asia to Communism. Many soldiers and their superiors called the Vietnamese by racist epithets such as Gooks or slope-heads. Five American Presidents, I later learned, could have avoided the deaths of more than 58,000 Americans. But at every decision point, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon took the wrong turn. Then they lied incessantly about what was happening and why were there.

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The October Edition of the Eagle Peak Quarterly is Online

It’s here–in living color! The October Eagle Peak Quarterly. Read it all at once or a little at a time.

We’ll try something new in this promo. Today, the list of articles with short excerpts. Then, for the next two weeks, we’ll post more of each article every other day. If we don’t get to your comment, it’s because we’ll be offline for a few days.

 

Vietnam and Waiting for Westmoreland–two anniversaries

Most people, I suspect, celebrate anniversaries as special occasions. These are different. They’re reference points in the tapestry of life. Signposts of events that have significantly affected the trajectory of my existence or describe it. Arriving in Vietnam 50 years ago. Writing a book about what transpired and how it changed me for the better.

 

The Global Solidarity of Youth: Ushering in a New Era of Hope

Franco-American writer and professor Michele de Gastyne offers her views and agreement on SGI leader Ikeda’s proposal to put youth in the forefront of dealing with the problems of nuclear proliferation, refugees, xenophobia and more. It’s a long and densely worded article, reflecting both the thoughts of Daisaku Ikeda and de Gastyne’s consideration of them.

 

An Interview with Tony Goodlette

Tony Goodlette spent eight years in Vietnam from 1967-1975. He still suffers health effects from that time. But the Buddhism he began practicing a few years later has enabled him to make even more valuable contributions to America and the world, with humanism and compassion. Read the interview for details of this man’s interesting life.

 

Let’s Go to Walt Disney World

It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. Be advised: this is not a “wing it” vacation. Planning is essential if you’re to make the most of your family’s time and money. Juanita explains it all–well much of it anyway.  But she tells you where you can find out more.

 

Worth Noting (8) Things We Think You Should Check Out on the Web

Did you watch the PBS series on the Vietnam War? This 10-part, 18-hour film is among the best and most comprehensive feature on that war–with interviews from both sides and more. Stream it from the web and much more on the PBS site. Or take a peek at some beautiful travel photos from Nat Geo.

 

Previews of Articles Coming in January

More on financial planning (boring or droll–it’s important). Weight-loss techniques that actually WORK–the publisher can prove it! You won’t believe how much he’s lost. Building that dream home–realizing a boomer fantasy; another true-life experience. We’ll explain some alternatives and offer tips on buying a house. Plus the usual: Like an interview and items worth noting.

 

Smorgasbord, Variety is the Spice of Life–the fifth of our links to writer sites

Sally Cronin’s fabulous site is indeed a smorgasbord, with a potpourri of posts across a broad topical spectrum. There’s health, nutrition medical news. She freely promotes fellow authors. Most importantly, Sally tells readers about her own books–providing reviews and telling us where to get them. She’s been a storyteller most of her life, she says.

 

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Guest Post on CHRIS THE STORY READING APE’S BLOG Today

Writing prompts–I love them. I love using them and love sharing them.  So here’s some from my guest post on Chris the Story Reading Ape’s Blog today.

You’re struggling to come up with a story line. You want your character to say something that establishes his or her persona. Of course it shouldn’t be a throwaway, but help develop the character and advance the story. Words or phrases from nearly anywhere can help break the mental logjam. You don’t have to spend time on books or websites that specialize in them, you can find them on your own. You are creative right? So where then?

  • Quote sites can stimulate your mind. You can sometimes use a direct quote itself to introduce a chapter or a scene

  • Memories of events, conversations and more will help—also known as “writing from life,” even as you’re writing fiction. Just change names and enough about any real person to avoid problems.

  • Conversations overheard in cafes, public transportation, on the street or wherever you encounter strangers. Take a snippet as inspiration.

Get the rest of the post here.

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Vietnam–a 50th Anniversary

It’s September 21, the day I arrived in South Vietnam. Fifty years ago today. Ten years ago, on September 7, I published Waiting for WestmorelandThat memoir provides an explanation of how the loss of innocence and the shattered illusions I experienced put me on a quest. A quest that wound up providing me the tools to tend my garden, as Candide did by the end of Voltaire’s famous book. But that’s a post for another day.

In a wonderful coincidence of sorts, Ken Burns 18-hour Vietnam War series began showing on PBS this week. I don’t know if those of you in other countries around the world will have ready access to it or not, but it’s well worth watching. 

Today, I’ll offer a glimpse of my arrival and first night in Vietnam. Next month I’ll have an extended feature on these anniversaries, the book and more in the October Eagle Peak Quarterly. In the meantime, I’ll be offering excerpts from the book on John Maberry’s Writing. So if you haven’t yet subscribed to John Maberry’s Writing, now’s the time. I don’t use a hated popup but you’ll easily find the subscription box on the sidebar. Later this fall, I’ll publish a slightly revised and updated tenth anniversary edition of Waiting for Westmoreland with a foreword, a preface and some snippets from a sequel of sorts to be published in 2019.

Here’s the book excerpt:

On the ground at last, after the long flight from Guam, the plane taxied past sandbag-clad heavy steel revetments surrounding bombers and fighters on three sides. As we rolled to a stop, the flight attendant popped the door, allowing the cool cabin air to escape. Tropical heat—asphalt-softening, frying eggs on a sidewalk heat—washed in like a sunny surf, carrying unfamiliar smells. It was Saigon in late September 1967. A throng of cheering khaki-clad soldiers in loose formation waved and beckoned to us from the tarmac at Tan Son Nhut. They laughed and shouted as kids on a playground, all the while looking about as secret service agents do during a presidential walk on a crowded street. A year later, I would better understand their uneasy excitement. Barring a last-minute attack, they had survived their year in Vietnam. They would fly back to “the world” in the plane we exited.

Wasting no time assembling here, we went straight from the ramp onto a prison bus. At least it looked like one. The kind of bus that hauls convict work gangs around some places in America, guarded by shotgun-shouldered Bubbas in Smokey hats. Only we weren’t the criminals. The bars and mesh covering the windows were there to protect us. How odd, I thought, we were here to protect the Vietnamese but we must be protected from them. Yet, on the busy streets we traveled, other military personnel walked freely about or rode in jeeps while Vietnamese civilians sped about on mopeds and bicycles. Other locals fearlessly shopped at the colorful stalls crowding sidewalks along the narrow streets. It was the first of many incongruities, in a year filled with them.

Wealth and poverty, filth and beauty fought for my attention along the 16-mile route to Long Binh for in-country processing. Shacks of wooden ammo crates topped by rusty tin roofs stood next to trash-strewn alleys plied by scavenging birds and occasional cats. Nearby, women emerged from stone buildings of faded grandeur, wearing brightly hued pastel ao dais, snug from neck to waist but billowing in the breeze over their black silk pants. People of all ages carried huge loads on bent backs—bags from the market, bundles of straw or wood. Nearing a river away from the city, workers with conical straw hats strapped under their chins and pants rolled to their knees waded in muddy rice paddies. Further on, we passed the lush green of a rubber plantation, its opulent mansion only slightly tarnished by this or previous wars.

I don’t remember at all, the afternoon arrival at Long Binh. So much of military existence is filled with an unremitting and unremarkable sameness. Hurry up and wait. “Assemble in a column of twos. Close it up ‘til your buddy smiles!” I do remember that first night in-country bunked under the cover of a circus-sized tent. Intermittently throughout the night, bright flares fell from the sky on parachutes, illuminating the nearby countryside as they swung to and fro. Muffled sounds of rifle fire, far away artillery and other ordnance unfamiliar to my ears rumbled through my head. Adrenaline-fueled wariness overcame weariness, shorting my sleep. Later, I would learn there was no fighting nearby and the flares were just routine. On the first night, however, fear filled me with dread.

 

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Retrograde–a Book Review

Been a while since I’ve done a review. When I have, I often do two or three at a time. I’ve been so slow at reading the past several months, I only have this one today but it’s a way of getting my reading and reviewing feet wet again.  😎

Retrograde: Some Principles Are TimelessRetrograde: Some Principles Are Timeless by E.J. Randolph
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Borrowed a copy of the paperback edition. Didn’t know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the writing and the story-line. Randolph keeps the plot moving in this sci-fi tale of diplomacy made dangerously difficult on an intentionally backwards and backwater planet. Conflicts among various factions keep things challenging. Randolph makes good use of a history degree with a focus on diplomatic and military history (according to her profile). Interesting interactions among crew members set up future books about up-and-coming Federation diplomat, Kate Stevens.

The book is available widely in both paper and eBook. You’ll find it on Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc. But here’s the easy link: Amazon.

View all my reviews

Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions

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