Zeppelin Mania: My Library

The LZ-114 completed after WW I, turned over to the French, and renamed Dixmude.

Many of you are aware of my love affair with the airship and the rigid airship in particular.

Some of you have made comments on the seeming dearth of information on the airship. Well, Virginia, I’m here to tell you that isn’t necessarily so. There’s quite a bit of material out there. One just needs to know where to look.

To that end, I thought I’d share with you today the portion of my library dedicated to books about airships. Because inquiring minds want to know! The list below is divided into non-fiction and fiction.

If you have any additions, please let me know. Questions and comments are always welcome. Until next time, happy reading!

My Airship Library

Non-Fiction

  1. Airship: The Story of R.34 – Patrick Abbott
  2. Airships: Designed for Greatness – Gregory Alegi, et.al.; concept and artwork by Max Pinucci
  3. USS Los Angeles: The Navy’s Venerable Airship and Aviation Technology – William F. Althoff
  4. Airship on a Shoestring – John Anderson
  5. Hindenburg: An Illustrated History – Rick Archbold (text) & Ken Marschall (illus.)
  6. Dr. Eckener’s Dream Machine: The Great Zeppelin and the Dawn of Air Travel – Douglas Botting
  7. The Giant Airships – Douglas Botting
  8. TransAtlantic Airships: An Illustrated History – John Christopher
  9. The Zeppelin Story – John Christopher
  10. Zeppelins of World War I – Wilbur Cross
  11. Zeppelin Hindenburg – Dan Grossman
  12. Airships in Peace and War – R. P. Hearne
  13. The Zeppelin Reader: Stories, Poems, and Songs from the Age of Airships – Robert Hedin
  14. The Log of H.M.A. R34 Journey to America and Back – E.M. Maitland
  15. Inside the Hindenburg – Mireille Major (text) & Ken Marschall (illus.)
  16. The Hindenburg – Michael M Mooney
  17. Giants in the Sky: A History of the Rigid Airship – Douglas H Robinson
  18. LZ129 Hindenburg – Douglas H. Robinson, with scale drawings by Richard Groh
  19. My Airships – Alberto Santos-Dumont
  20. Schütte-Lanz Airship Design – Prof. Johann Schütte
  21. Slide Rule – Nevil Shute
  22. The Great Dirigibles: Their Triumphs and Disasters – John Toland
  23. Airship Saga: The history of airships seen through the eyes of the men who designed, built, and flew them – Lord Ventry & Eugene M. Koleśnik
  24. Jane’s Pocket Book of Airship, ed. by Lord Ventry & Eugene Kolesnik
  25. Zeppelin: The Story of a Great Achievement – Henry Vissering
  26. Airship Aerodynamics Technical Manual – War Department
  27. “Zeppelin’s New Age of Air Travel” in Popular Mechanics, July 1994
  28. “Blimps: Billboards in the Sky” in Smithsonian, June 1998

Fiction

  1. Airship Nine – Thomas H. Block
  2. With Airship and Submarine – Harry Collingwood
  3. Seize the Wind – John Gordon Davis
  4. Lester Dent’s Zeppelin Tales – Lester Dent
  5. Death on the Empress – Stuart Harper
  6. Goliath – Richard Turner
  7. Beyond the Rails – Jack Tyler
  8. Wings of Fury – R.N. Vick

My Own Novels

  1. The Moscow Affair (From the Files of Lady Dru Drummond, Bk 1)
  2. The Golden Fleece Affair (From the Files of Lady Dru Drummond, Bk 2)
  3. Take to the Sky (The Rocheport Saga, Bk 7 – forthcoming)
  4. Rand Hart and the Pajama Putsch
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The 8-Fold Path-Step 2: Avoid Talking

 

Unless we are hermits or are living in an eremitic cloister, it’s going to be fairly difficult to avoid talking altogether. And I don’t think we should as long as we live in the broader human society.

Therefore step 2 on The 8-Fold Path for Living Daily in the Silence is to

Avoid situations where I’m obligated to talk.

However, we can’t always avoid talking. We have spouses or partners, parents and siblings, bosses and coworkers, customers or patients — and all of these folks generally expect us to talk to them. And to avoid them would probably cause us more problems than any amount of silence might benefit us.

Nevertheless, there are ways in which we can minimize getting ourselves into situations where we have to talk.

For example, with spouses and partners we can often substitute a non-verbal gesture for a verbal one. Touching can often communicate far more than words.

When my mother was alive avoiding verbal communication was nigh impossible. However, I could often go to a different part of the house or go for a walk. With my father, since he talks very little, there’s no problem living daily in the silence. Although, he does like music and he plays it rather loudly. That’s where those earplugs come in handy.

Work is perhaps the biggest challenge. But even there, we can pursue silence and we’ll get into this more in the next three points.

When I was employed, talking was part of my job. So it was difficult to avoid it completely. However, since my schedule was somewhat flexible, I could come in early when no one was around and leave early before the Chatty Kens and Cathys came around.

However, you may not have the luxury of a flexible schedule. If not, then over the next three weeks I’ll give you some tools that will at least promote the spirit of silence.

While work may be the biggest challenge, living with other people can be equally daunting if we want to avoid situations where we are obligated to talk. Non-verbals can help. But they can’t eliminate the fact that most people like to talk. It is then incumbent upon us to find ways where we don’t hurt feelings in order to promote silence.

Going for a walk or hanging out in a different part of the house can help. But if those don’t work, then you may just have to ask for some silence time and there’s nothing wrong with that.

As always, comments are welcome. Let me know if you have other ideas or other techniques that work for you. Until next time, listen to the sound of silence!

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Book Review: Finder, The True Story of a Private Investigator

I love private detective novels. But the biographies and autobiographies of real private detectives I find equally fascinating. I have a small collection of these books.

Finder: The True Story Of A Private Investigator is the autobiography of Marilyn Greene, co-authored with Gary Provost. In the book, Marilyn Greene relates her early interest in law enforcement and her disappointment at being turned down by the New York state police.

Sometime later she developed an interest in search and rescue and tells us how she became one of the best finders of missing persons using her air-scent trained dog. Because of limitations imposed on her work as a finder, due to her being a volunteer, she moved into licensed private investigator work.

We also get a glimpse into the personal cost of her pursuing her passion. The break up of her marriage and problems with one of her sons.

Marilyn Greene’s story generates anger at the bias and prejudice she faced being a woman in a field dominated by men, as well as heartache at what she had to go through to pursue her dream.

In one instance, she was asked by the State Police to look for a missing person. She found the body in a short period of time only to find out that the police only asked her to get the parents off their backs. She wasn’t supposed to find someone they couldn’t.

Another time she faced police hostility because her dog found the missing person, when the police dogs couldn’t.

Once, she was hired by the mother of a missing person. She discovered that the son’s best friend had killed the man because he was bullying him. It was a heartbreaking story of the victim suffering once again. This time in the legal system. Ms Greene’s point was that many real life stories do not have happy endings.

The book itself does not read like a thriller. In fact, it’s somewhat dry. Yet it’s packed with information telling us how a real private detective worked back before everyone had laptops and smart phones.

I recommend giving Finder a read. I read the book some 25 years ago researching what real PIs were like in preparation for writing my first mystery. For me, the book was fascinating and stayed with me all these years. Recently, I bought a copy and re-read it. It’s a satisfying, real life tale. Give it a read!

Comments are always welcome! And until next time, happy reading!

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The 8-Fold Path – First Step: Limit Talking

Talking. Some of us love to talk. Others of us talk very little. My mother was a great talker. My dad can go for hours without saying a peep. And if we aren’t talking there are certainly those around us who are. Then again, often our mouths might not be moving but we are talking a mile a minute in our heads.

To live daily in the silence, we must limit the talking. To enjoy the physical and spiritual benefits of silence, we must rein in our desire to talk — both to others and to ourselves.

That doesn’t mean we have to give up being friendly. Heavens no! Silence produces joy and happiness. Which means we should be friendly, sharing that joy and happiness with others. Instead of talking, our entire demeanor should be radiating joy and happiness.

But isn’t talking being friendly, you may be asking. And, yes, it frequently is. I’m not saying to eliminate friendly or positive conversation. I’m saying we need to be mindful of our talking and eliminate the unnecessary chatter.

When I was on retreat and walking the grounds or was in the library, I’d encounter others. Sometimes I’d come across a work crew. The understanding was there was to be no talking. We waved and smiled. There was no verbal communication. Those physical signs communicated plenty. There was no need to add words.

The same in the workplace. How many conversations are just idle chatter or, worse, gossip? Talk that is not positive. Talk that is not life-giving.

The goal of living daily in the silence is to better your life: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And the easiest way to begin is to cut down on talking. Talking out loud and talking in your head.

Talking creates a lot of noise. It is however very often necessary and we’ll address more about talking and situations in the next four posts. Today the goal is simply to cut down on the amount of chatter we are putting out of our mouths and allowing in our minds. So how do we do that?

The first step is to resolve to not talk unless you have to. Resolve is important. You are telling yourself what you want.

The second step is to listen more. If you are listening — really listening — then you can’t be talking. So when you say, “Hi! How are you?” Listen to what the person tells you. Tune in to the other person. Don’t let your brain run ahead with what you want to tell them.

The third step is to put the focus on the other person, and take the focus off yourself.

Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People tells us the secret in doing so is to let the other person talk to you. Get the other person to tell you about him or herself. Which means you have to truly listen. And listening means no talking.

Talking puts the focus on us. It’s an essentially selfish act. It strokes the ego. The real prize, though, is letting the other person talk and perhaps he or she will praise you.

Because no one listens anymore. If you stop talking and listen, people will notice — and they’ll think you’re the best person on the planet.

There are times when we must talk. But just as often opportunity will present itself so we can then let the other person do most of the talking.

Step four is to clear the talking in our heads. This is the more difficult step. Because our brain doesn’t like to sit around and do nothing. It will pick up a snippet of conversation and begin worrying it like a dog worrying a bone and suddenly you’ll find yourself getting all worked up or agitated or angry over something that is most likely nothing.

We will deal with the mind in more detail in steps seven and eight of the 8-Fold Path. For now, when your mind is running away with interior dialogue, stop focusing on the dialogue and instead focus on something around you: your work, the clouds, a picture you like, your breathing, anything that will for you break that mental chatter.

The path to silence in our everyday lives, and reaping the benefits silence gives,  begins with quieting our own noise machine: our mouths and our minds. For some of us, that will be relatively easy. For perhaps most of us, it will be a difficult task. Difficult, but not impossible. In fact, very possible.

As always, comments are welcome. Until next time, encourage others to talk while you listen. And don’t forget to redirect that chatter in your head. Cheers!

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Goldrush

We’re familiar with the California Gold Rush of 1848, or the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, or the Victorian Gold Rush of 1851 in Australia, or the Witwatersrand Gold Rush of 1886 in South Africa.

Today we are in the middle of another gold rush. It’s called self-publishing.

Every gold rush has a life-cycle that moves from low investment, high return to high investment, low return. The key to success is to get in big at the beginning of the cycle. When panning and placer mining are effective. Simple tools and big returns.

Amazon introduced the first Kindle on November 19, 2007. It sold for $399 US and sold out in 5 1/2 hours. On April 2, 2010 Apple released the iPad and sold 300,000 on the first day. These two devices were the game changer that spawned the self-publishing gold rush.

Authors such as Amanda Hocking, John Locke, JA Konrath proved self-publishing was a viable money making enterprise. Now the ability to become a millionaire was for the first time in the hands of the self-published author. No need for agents and no need to battle publishers over draconian contracts. The gold rush had begun.

All one needed in those early and heady days of self-publishing was to offer your book permafree or for 99¢. And write your series as fast as possible.

By the time I got involved with self-publishing, in late 2014, the easy money was gone. Now, like the old Smith-Barney commercials, if you want to make money writing books, you have to earn it.

As with any gold rush, once the easy money is gone, the people who begin to profit are the ones who do so at the miner’s expense. These are the people who sell things to the miners. The infamous middleman.

We see it in the self-publishing world. Writers, hungry for virtual shelf space and recognition, are making loads of money for the middlemen. Everywhere I read about this, I read figures such as $500 or $600 (or more) for editing, $500 for a cover, a couple hundred for formatting. And the list can go on.

That’s a lot of pressure to put one’s self under coming out of the gate. To date (2 years of receiving royalties), I’ve made $533 with virtually no advertising. I made back my investment in initial website cost and copyright fees. If I had editing and cover fees for 20 books to add to my expenses, I’d have to seriously consider becoming a middleman to “help” writers instead of being a writer.

The people who are getting the “easy” money today are:

  • Editors (often self-proclaimed)
  • Cover Artists (many using nothing more than stock photos and Photoshop or Gimp)
  • Review Services (like Kirkus and Reader’s Favorite)
  • Other authors “selling” the secret of their success so you can be successful (usually by means of high-priced courses)

And success hungry writers, dying to leave their day jobs, are shelling out big bucks for all of the above.

So let’s be honest, shall we? The easy money is gone. We now have to earn it.

How We Earn The Money

The path to self-publishing’s success in 2017 is not unlike trying to drop the ring into Mount Doom. It’s simple, but not easy.

I am obviously not making big bucks writing. But I’m retired. I’ve already dumped the day job. My monetary goal is a bit more humble. Nevertheless, the path is the same for all of us.

Mindset. The first thing we author-publishers must remember is that we are writers and publishers. We must think business. And the first thing we must realize is that self-employment ventures generally take 3 to 5 years to get established — if they even survive.

The second thing is we are direct mail marketers. The mailing list has now replaced permafree and 99¢ books as the building block of our business.

Mail order businesses can’t survive without their mailing lists. And we author-publishers are at base mail order businesses.

Once we have that mindset, we can start to go places. There is no quick money anymore. But there is money to be made. Mark Dawson makes around half a million from Amazon. A nice bit of pocket change that.

My Plan For Success

Plan your work and work your plan. Based on my observation of what universally works for authors, coupled with sage advice from the greats, this is my plan to work:

  1. Write well. This should go without saying and yet needs to be said. Write a good story. Many writers forget to do so.
  2. Write lots. Prolificity is key. No backlist = no sales over the long haul. All successful writers, traditionally published and self-published, say this.
  3. Publish frequently. The reading public that buys indie books tends to be voracious readers. Feed their habit. Frequent publishing also helps to keep you in the forefront of the reader’s mind.
  4. Follow Heinlein’s Writing Advice. The master said it best. In a nutshell — persevere.
  5. Build your mailing list. We are essentially mail order marketers. I wish someone had told me this 3 to 5 years ago. It makes sense, but the reality was obscured by the early success of writers in the Gold Rush. Now that the easy money is gone, the mailing list is the direct marketer’s — and indie author’s — best friend.
  6. Don’t resort to gimmicks. Today there so many authors I never heard of who claim to be New York Times, USA Today, or Amazon bestsellers that the claim is virtually meaningless. There are so many authors winning so many awards, the words “award winning” are equally meaningless. I’ve read plenty of crappy best-selling and award-winning books. And some that are really good that made nobody’s list and have received no award.

That’s my roadmap to success. Which for me is pretty modest. I don’t need beaucoup bucks. Anything from $25K to $50K a year will be just jim dandy. Those of you who need more than that to quit your day job — well, it’s just going to take a bit more work. But you’ll get there.

As always, comments are welcome! And until next time, happy reading!

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The 8-Fold Path: What is it?

The 8-Fold Path for Living Daily in the Silence is an 8-Step program for quieting our world — the world without and the world within.

The “Path” grew out of my own experience of silence and solitude retreats and my attempt to duplicate the peace and tranquility of the retreat environment after my return to daily life.

The 8-Fold Path does work, but as with any lifestyle change it takes work and perseverance to make sure it does work for you.

Why 8-Fold?

When I analyzed what made my retreats successful, I discovered 8 elements worked together to ensure that my time of silence and solitude was productive.

Those 8 elements are:

  1. Talk as little a possible
  2. Avoid situations where I’m obligated to talk
  3. If I must talk, be brief and to the point
  4. In group settings, remember even the fool appears wise when he says nothing
  5. My speech should be infused with the odor of silence
  6. Value silence over man-made sounds
  7. Focus on the immediate to promote silence
  8. Practice shikantaza during “downtime”

Notice the first five points of the path are about talking. If we control our talking, both verbally and mentally, those times we spend talking to ourselves, we can achieve a large measure of quietude with that alone.

Silence Starts With Us

We have total control over whether we live in a noisy world or a [relatively] silent world.

Bertrand Russell, the late British philosopher, wrote in his book The Conquest of Happiness:

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.

We all want happiness. We all want tranquility in our lives. We all want to feel at peace with ourselves and the world. It is the quiet life that enables us to experience joy and happiness.

To achieve that quiet life for myself, I formulated The 8-Fold Path to Living Daily in the Silence. And now I’m sharing it with you.

If we want to be happy, we must take charge of our lives. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the last of the great Stoic philosophers, wrote that life is what we make it to be. We are the key to what can be a fabulous future.

Daily

Russell notes a happy life must be … a quiet life. Implied in the word “life” is daily experience. This is not something one does once a month or only on the weekends. For the 8-Fold Path to produce its fruit, one must practice it every day and throughout the day to produce the silence, the quiet, which in turn produces joy and happiness.

In that sense, I’ll be the first to say silence does not come easily. Old habits die hard, as they say. However, persistence does win the day. And in a couple weeks you will begin to notice subtle differences. You might be calmer. Or less disturbed by people and situations around you. You might find your mind is less prone to chatter; less prone to worrying things, like a dog a bone.

 

The 8-Fold Path to Living Daily in the Silence can gain for you that quiet life Russell wrote of and with it joy and happiness. And who doesn’t want that?

As always, your comments are welcome. Until next time, take time to enjoy the silence.

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Movie Review: The Before Trilogy

The plotless movie. The plotless novel. The plotless story. How can a movie or a work of literature have no plot? Well, the answer is simple. It can’t. All stories have a plot of some kind, because the plot is nothing more than what happens in the story.

Plots are fairly simple. They are, broadly speaking, some manner of:

  • Adventure or Quest
  • Love story
  • Puzzle
  • Seeking of Vengeance or Justice
  • Pursuit or Escape
  • Self-Discovery

What makes a story, however, is not the plot. It’s the characters. As Ray Bradbury advised writers: create your characters, let them do their thing, and there’s your story.

Recently, my wife and I watched the movies Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. The movies were written by Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy, and directed by Richard Linklater. They tell the story of Jesse and Céline who meet by accident on a train and eventually become parents of twin girls.

The movies are described as “minimalist” because nothing much outwardly happens in them. Each movie focuses on Jesse and Céline talking about life. The only movement is that in each movie the action, such as it is, takes place in the span of one day. Which means the storyline is driven by the shortness or brevity of the time factor. A standard technique used to induce suspense or a sense of urgency.

Personally, I think the movies are brilliant examples of what the “plotless” tale is all about. Which is the characters. These movies are in depth character studies. Through dialogue alone — often what isn’t said being as or more important than what is said — the writer tells a tale that is profoundly moving.

In Before Sunrise, Jesse, an American tourist in Europe, accidentally meets Céline on a train bound from Budapest to Vienna, where he will catch his flight back to the states. On a whim, Jesse asks Céline to spend the day with him before he has to catch his flight. She agrees.

The rest of the movie is nothing more than the two walking around Vienna talking and sharing little experiences together. In the course of the day, they fall in love, and promise each other to meet at the train station in six months. They also agree not to exchange any contact information.

Before Sunset picks up the story nine years later. Jesse is in Paris on the last day of a book tour. He is now married, with a son, and is an acclaimed author, having turned his one day love affair with Céline into a successful novel. Céline learns he is in Paris and shows up at the book shop where he’s giving a talk and autographing books.

After his talk, he and Celine leave the shop with the intention to get a cup of coffee and catch up on what has happened with each other. The shopkeeper reminds Jesse as he leaves he needs to be back in one hour to catch his flight. The two walk to a coffee shop and then begin walking around Paris talking about their lives. In the course of their conversation, we learn Jesse flew to Vienna to meet Céline. She, however, didn’t show because her grandmother had died. Eventually they end up at Céline’s apartment and Jesse misses his flight back to the States.

The final film in the trilogy, Before Midnight, takes place eighteen years later. Jesse and Céline are in Greece. They are now a couple with twin girls. Jesse’s son from his ex-wife flies home at the beginning of the movie. The parting of the father and son sets up one side of the conflict. On the other, Céline wants to take a new job with the French government, feeling unfulfilled in her current job.

The couple have been given a night in a hotel for a romantic evening. However, the night turns into a battle of angst and wills and agendas, climaxing with Céline saying she doesn’t love Jesse anymore and leaves.

Jesse finds Céline after a time. She wants to be alone but he asks her to listen to him and she relents. He tells a story and Céline eventually thaws. The ending of the movie is somewhat ambiguous, but we’re left with the feeling they stay together.

What I love about these movies is that through dialogue alone we learn of the hopes and fears, the dreams, and the failures of two ordinary people. How chance events can change one’s life forever. And that no matter what, we always have choices.

I think the movies should be seen close together, much like the Mad Max movies, in order to keep the story flow fresh in ones mind. They are fabulous films. A testimony to the power of character over plot.

As always, I appreciate your comments. And until next time, happy reading!

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8-Fold Path: Silence, Where and When

Silence is the gateway to better health, both mentally and physically, as well as being the gateway to a richer spiritual life.

However, we are so busy and noise is everywhere. Where and when can we get in a little silence? I’ll cover this in more detail when I get into the eight steps themselves. For now, though, I’ll give you a few ideas for where and when you can practice silence.

Where

This is probably the easier of the two. Because you can practice silence anywhere. If you have in hand a good pair of earplugs, then you can have silence wherever you are and wherever you go. Just pop those little wonders into your ears and, voilà!, instant quiet and peace.

One place that’s easy to enjoy silence is in your car. Just turn off all the noisemaking gadgets while you’re driving. Aside from road noise, your car is a fairly quiet place. And if your house is too noisy, you can always go sit in your car. Tilt the seat back a little and enjoy the quiet.

There are also places in your house that are fairly quiet. Go there. If kids or spouse have a tendency to interrupt, tell them not to bother you for the next 10 or 15 minutes, or however long you need.

Noise is distracting. Even if it’s your favorite song. And even more so if you’re driving and talking on your phone, or dictating, or listening to a book or a report. And distracted driving has been known to kill people.

When

Where you can practice silence is rendered fairly easy thanks to earplugs. When is a bit more restrictive.

Obviously there are times we must be social. The dinner table, for example, or a team meeting. A business meeting or social gathering. And that’s okay. After all, we are social creatures.

There are, though, many opportunities in a day when one can practice silence.

Early morning or late at night are excellent times to do so. Or when one is alone. I find an early morning walk in the neighborhood park to be very conducive for experiencing silence. The mothers and their children have not yet descended upon the place.

I had times at work where I could spend a few minutes in an empty room to get a bit of quiet.

The 8-Fold Path

Next week I’ll begin going step-by-step through the 8-Fold Path. Each step will enhance our appreciation of silence, as well as gain us the peace and tranquility that comes with silence.

If you’ve had experiences with silence, I’d love to hear about them.

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