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Archive for December, 2012

A classic but important poem – A soldier’s night before Christmas

soldier's Christmas

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,

He Lived All Alone,
In A One Bedroom House
Made Of Plaster And Stone.

I Had Come Down The Chimney
With Presents To Give,
And To See Just Who
In This Home Did Live.

I Looked All About,
A Strange Sight I Did See,
No Tinsel, No Presents,
Not Even A Tree.

No Stocking By Mantle,
Just Boots Filled With Sand,
On The Wall Hung Pictures
Of Far Distant Lands.

With Medals And Badges,
Awards Of All Kinds,
A Sober Thought
Came Through My Mind.

For This House Was Different,
It Was Dark And Dreary,
I Found The Home Of A Soldier,
Once I Could See Clearly.

The Soldier Lay Sleeping,
Silent, Alone,
Curled Up On The Floor
In This One Bedroom Home.

The Face Was So Gentle,
The Room In Such Disorder,
Not How I Pictured
A United States Soldier.

Was This The Hero
Of Whom I’d Just Read?
Curled Up On A Poncho,
The Floor For A Bed?

I Realized The Families
That I Saw This Night,
Owed Their Lives To These Soldiers
Who Were Willing To Fight.

Soon Round The World,
The Children Would Play,
And Grownups Would Celebrate
A Bright Christmas Day.

They All Enjoyed Freedom
Each Month Of The Year,
Because Of The Soldiers,
Like The One Lying Here.

I Couldn’t Help Wonder
How Many Lay Alone,
On A Cold Christmas Eve
In A Land Far From Home.

The Very Thought
Brought A Tear To My Eye,
I Dropped To My Knees
And Started To Cry.

The Soldier Awakened
And I Heard A Rough Voice,
“Santa Don’t Cry,
This Life Is My Choice;

I Fight For Freedom,
I Don’t Ask For More,
My Life Is My God,
My Country, My Corps.”

The Soldier Rolled Over
And Drifted To Sleep,
I Couldn’t Control It,
I Continued To Weep.

I Kept Watch For Hours,
So Silent And Still
And We Both Shivered
From The Cold Night’s Chill.

I Didn’t Want To Leave
On That Cold, Dark, Night,
This Guardian Of Honor
So Willing To Fight.

Then The Soldier Rolled Over,
With A Voice Soft And Pure,
Whispered, “Carry On Santa,
It’s Christmas Day, All Is Secure.”

One Look At My Watch,
And I Knew He Was Right.
“Merry Christmas My Friend,
And To All A Good Night.”

Written by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986. Printed in Leatherneck (The Magazines for the Marines) in December 1991.

Another useful online photo editing option

Anyone who does even basic work with photography probably realizes that Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard when it comes to photo editing. However, it can be a bit cumbersome and also tends to be quite pricey. This being the case, some people have opted to use online photo editing tools to do the job when possible.

A while back I mentioned several interesting and effective options for working with your images that can be used as an alternative to the aforementioned Photoshop. However, I just randomly came across another the other days and decided to test it out.

fotoflex

FotoFlexer

This application can be found at www.fotoflexer.com and while it isn’t free, it does offer a 30 day free trial. If you decide to continue to use it, the cost is less than $4.00 per month which seems pretty manageable compared to some of the other options out there.

Pros:

– Fairly user friendly layout.

– Allows importing images from a number of popular sites like Facebook, Picasa and Flickr for example.

– Offers quick fixes for basic problems like the redeye effect.

– Allows for various effects, the inclusion of text, animations, work with layers and more.

Cons:

– Grabbing images from other sites sometimes fails to work properly.

– Some elements are a bit simplistic.

Check it out for yourself if you like.

The two most overused words in English (or any other) language

As a writer, I consider myself a student of language. This includes both the uses and abuses of words common to our everyday communication. And while many words are overused all the time, in my opinion  there are two that stand out among the others. These words are “love” and “hate.”

Having written two books of poetry to this point, obviously a genre of writing that deals in emotion, I can understand the tendency to use such words quite often. However, I can also understand why doing so can essentially devalue them to some degree.

Let’s take some examples.

Love

Love is the strongest and most powerful positive emotion any being is capable of experiencing in their life. So while you may really enjoy pasta or are a huge fan of my hometown Pittsburgh Steelers, you neither love Italian food or the legendary football team.

Hate

Maybe this actor or that one may not be your favorite, or a specific song rubs you the wrong way. However, I am willing to bet that you do not actually hate either the movie star or that particular tune.

Moral of the story – think twice before using such strong words in either your writing or casual everyday speech.

The real essence of electronic dance music

Guest Post By Courtney Cummings

Trade you glow sticks for some actual knowledge, candy kids. – Courtney Cummings

Though there are candy kids everywhere claiming to be devoted lovers of drum and bass, few know what they are actually talking about. Electronic Dance Music has just become a phenomenon to the mainstream music loves throughout the United States.  To them a rave entails buying a ticket online, putting on neon and yelling PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect) for the entire world to hear.  This is not the true essence of a musical form that took decades to create.  For the true lovers of electro, the overly sampled mainstream radio hits are truly a disgrace.

When speaking of the evolution of this musical trend, four major locations come to mind:  Jamaica, Detroit, Chicago, and the UK of course.  Spanning all the way back to the peace-loving counterculture of the 1960’s the electronic era made its first major appearance in Jamaica.  Dub music was created from a simple combination of reel-to-reel tape players that were overlapped and used to form this new, well known deep and hypnotic rhythm.

dance music mix board

Throughout the 1970’s, the next phase of electronic music came in the not so glamorous 313. As most people imagine house music being blasted by fist pumping macho men, think less Jersey Shore and more Eminem in eight mile.  The Detroit native, Godfather of House, music developed this genre with two turn tables and a mixer.  Instead of tapping a beat machine and sampling other artists, house music came to be as R&B records were sped up and layered to construct sounds of a completely different sort.  Traveling south to the port city of Chicago, house music took off.  The windy city nearly tore the house down.

After taking a break from the US for a while, EDM only became popular due to the role of the international buddies from across the pond.  Taking the fundamentals developed through dub and house music sped up tracks and poppy samples were introduced to music lovers throughout the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.  An international dance culture popularized the genre and created this culture of drum and bass.

Everyone believing that Deadmau5 and Skrillex created what is now known as electronic dance music is beyond comprehension.  Only being popularized in the 90s, the United States falls behind Europeans on their love for lights, music and this explosion of youth.  Get your facts straight!

Differences in writing styles

Writing is writing…

is something you might hear when the different styles and genres of this skill are part of a discussion. However, one thing is for sure, such a statement could only be made by a non-writer.

The fact is, there are many different types of writing, virtually all of which have their own distinct characteristics. Of course, it would be very difficult to cover all of these in a single post or even a series of posts. That being the case, I’ll delve into the  differences between  three genres below to give this bog’s readers an idea of what I’m talking about.

person writing

Let’s take these three:

Journalistic writing

Academic writing

SEO-based writing

Perhaps the easiest way to distinguish between them is to do so in a chart:

writing styles

The bottom line

All types of writing are not created equal and involve a particular set of skills.

 

The variations of Goth

The term “Goth” is pretty generic.

It tends to conjure up certain images for the typical, mainstream individual. However, as a photographer who spends a lot of time working with alternative models, I can assure you that there are a number of different sub-cultures within the larger category we typical define as Goth.  These sub-sections each tend to have a cool, artistic style of their own. With that being said, I give you a few of the many faces of the Gothic community.

Old school, traditional Goth:

goth girl

Cyber Goth:

cyber goth girl

Raver Goth:

raver goth girl

Punk Goth:

punk goth girl

Gothic Lolita:

gothic lolita

 

 

How to write an effective essay

Guest post courtesy of York Notes

For many people there is nothing more intimidating than having to sit down and write an effective essay for a piece of coursework or an exam. It is a concentration of so many things learnt that the actual managing of all that information into a succinct and readable essay can just become overwhelming.

marker and page

One way to make life easier when faced with this kind of task is to break the job down into manageable sections. In this article we will look at how to make the introduction as good as it possible can be, because if you start well you will feel much more confident going into the rest of the essay.

Before you start any essay you need to make an outline of what it is that you are going to do. Every piece of written work should be founded on a plan and never written from cold.

In an essay, it is essential that you have a “grabber.” This is something that will grab a hold of the reader’s attention from the beginning. It could be a joke, a shocking fact, a proverb or a quote. You need something special to set this piece of work apart.

The next element of the introduction is for you to introduce your topic or subject. It is not however to simply state what your topic or subject is. You need to give the reader reasons for wanting to know about what it is that you have decided to talk about, or how you are going to talk about it.

girl working

A good way to break down the reasons for you to talk about your topic is to ask yourself five questions about the topic: who, why, what, where and how. If you systematically break down the topic into these easily understandable aspects, then your ability to write clearly about it will also begin to flow more naturally.

Once you have understood what it is you are going to talk about and why, it is necessary for you to understand whether you are going to be writing from a positive or negative point of view about your topic.

It is important because once you have decided what your point of view is going to be in your own head you do not then go and present your argument in a one-sided way. A good essay always looks at two sides of an argument and you must always keep this in mind no matter what your personal opinions on the topic are.

Once you have taken the time out to consider your essay in such a methodical way, you will see how the actual writing of it becomes so much easier.

thesis

Of course, understanding how to write an essay and how to implement a plan about your writing is a great step towards writing better pieces of work, but it does not mean that your English literature revision books can be forgotten about now that you have the perfect essay writing method.

If you do not do the study that gives you the information you will need to write, then you are never going to have any knowledge base from which to write.

Essays do not need to be the most difficult things in the world, but you have to work at them in order for this to be true.

Info from: Revision notes, Chapter summaries and books on English Literature

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