U.S. Citizen Unnatural Deaths Around The World

My fellow Americans, as we know the summer travel season is now well underway:

Screen capture of the U.S. State Department web site.
Screen capture of the U.S. State Department web site.

Turns out Americans die abroad much the same ways as at home. Most non-natural deaths are not a consequence of terrorism or war. Other than in certain places, they are due mostly to accidents and suicides.

At that State Department page, using the drop down menu you may choose a month/year period combination and country. After a click you’ll discover how, and precisely where, Americans there died of non-natural causes between 2002 and 2014. Isn’t our government helpful?

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A Short Stories’ “Sabbatical”?

I spent a good part of yesterday with new characters “Brad” and “Clémence,” as well as with a couple of “old timers,” and filling in additional details and description in several chapters. In the process, I dropped in a couple of thousand more words at least. I became so immersed in it all, I lost track of the time.

The afternoon flew by. As I finished up, I realized again just how unwilling I am to let go of “my friends” quite yet. I’m not “done” with them by any means.

I ended up again pondering what could follow immediately after Distances. I know there will be a fourth novel eventually, and I already know its very general contours. But I’m now pretty drained mentally from writing these first three, and I suspect I will need something of a “sabbatical” to recharge.

Free Stock Photo: A pile of antique books.
Free Stock Photo: A pile of antique books.

I had been mulling over the idea of taking “six months” post-Distances and declaring, “Eh, that’ll do for now.” It seemed reasonable. After all, three novels of nearly 100,000 words each over three years is nothing to sneeze at.

By comparison, my HarperCollins published uncle has written eight novels since the early 1980s. Uh, not that I’m comparing myself to him! Even if I am there, uh…. a little bit. ;-)

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Fear Of Flying

My first flight was on the Eastern shuttle between New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Washington, D.C. I was age 9, and traveling with my grandparents. We three made the short flight to visit for a week with my uncle, aunt and cousins, who were then living in northern Virginia.

I kept that Eastern shuttle’s ticket stub for something approaching three decades after. Do you think I can find it now? Of course I can’t! (I have flown on so many airlines that are now long out of business. The list is extensive: Eastern, Pan Am, TWA, Tower Air, Air Inter. There may be others, but I can’t immediately remember them.)

You may be similar in first flying young. Others start flying much later:

Screen capture of Yahoo.
Screen capture of Yahoo.

And yet others appear likely NEVER to fly. I recall my parents not joining us for that Washington, D.C. trip. The reason given was my then three year old sister and not wanting to take her along.

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“Are you a typical American?”

Last weekend, I searched British TV in vain for a Humphrey Bogart film. I was simply in the mood, and was depressed when I couldn’t find one. Naturally, I informed (as one does nowadays) everyone on the planet who happened to be reading Twitter.

And a Twitter friend came to the rescue. He pointed out this is on YouTube. Here’s 1953’s Beat The Devil in its entirety:

It is in the public domain, so you may watch it guilt free. Bogart’s production company held the copyright, but allowed it to lapse. It’s his only film that’s outside copyright.

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Alfred The Great Was Here (In The Vicinity Someplace)

I’ve been up here, near the Westbury White Horse, a bunch of times. However, I’d never taken any photos of this, but finally did yesterday. So how about some English medievalism/ Anglo-Saxon romantic legend for a Wednesday morning:

[Photo by me, 2015.]
[Photo by me, 2015.]
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“Because you are born on a farm….”

Emerging from “Valérie’s” car onto her parents’ Paris driveway….

Excerpt from
Excerpt from “Frontiers,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

I thought I’d share that bit from Frontiers. (You may be interested in the *note at the bottom of this post, about a line in that above.) “It” is “1995.” Not that long ago.

A Paris view. [Very old photo, by me, 1994. Look familiar? It's on the back cover of Passports.]
A Paris view. [Very old photo, by me, 1994. Look familiar? It’s on the back cover of Passports.]

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Social Media Overload

The way information flies at us is now unprecedented. Masses comes our way, and we “gulp” down lots. But it’s hard to know how much we honestly can process.

Moreover, social media conveys a happy impression that we all live, more or less, in the same “space” – if not precisely the same geographic place. We’re seemingly required as well to have opinions on just about everything happening, and everywhere. And we have to have them immediately.

Free Stock Photo: A beautiful Chinese girl sitting tired at a desk.
Free Stock Photo: A beautiful Chinese girl sitting tired at a desk.

You find yourself worn out now and then? I do. This weekend was one of those times.

Saturday morning, one of my Twitter lists had displayed this. All at the same time. Seriously:

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Roman All Over The Place

Took the nephew sightseeing to Bath yesterday as planned. From our front door, it’s 11 miles (says the sat-nav) to the city center. We made sure we got there early.

We got in ahead of the crowds. Arriving shortly after its 9am opening, there was no waiting: of course we did the remains of the ancient Roman baths (which we hadn’t had a chance to go with him back in January):

Upon entering the remains of the Roman baths, looking down from above. In ancient times, this was covered. [Photo by me, 2015.]
Upon entering the remains of the Roman baths, looking down from above. In ancient times, this was covered. [Photo by me, 2015.]

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The “Other” Glastonbury

Yesterday, we took the nephew to Glastonbury – no, not to the music festival, which is over. (There were trucks still clearing away post-festival.) I mean to the town, which is full of history and varieties of faith. He studies Classics at Oxford, and loves this sort of thing:

Part of the remains of Glastonbury Abbey. [Photo by me, 2015.]
Part of the remains of Glastonbury Abbey. [Photo by me, 2015.]

The Abbey is amazing.

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Free For Five Days

The British summer weather so far has been, mostly, superb. Today, here in Wiltshire, it’s supposed to be *hot.* I suspect we’re gonna wish we were still here:

Devon beach, with the wet hound. [Photo, 2015.]
Devon beach, with the wet hound. [Photo, 2015.]

I am also about 75 percent finished writing Distances. If I can keep this up, it will be completed by the autumn, which would be well ahead of what I’d hoped. Finishing that third volume has been a major target I’d been aiming for since I started writing in 2012-13.

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