Sunday, March 24, 2013

Goal #2124: Take a Picture of Someone Who Doesn't Want Their Picture Taken

You wouldn’t typically think that taking a picture of someone is a big deal. When I had my photographic moment, I was in a small village on Panay Island near the town of Ilo Ilo in the Philippine Islands. In most of the places I’d been to on the island, folks loved to have their pictures taken. This was especially true with the kids. The kids were always hamming it up for me. They would crowd around me in hopes that I would take their picture with the promise of seeing a copy of it someday.

But old people didn’t tend to react the same way the kids did. I think they were just too steeped in their old traditions. I was new enough to the island and I didn't realize that many of the really old people grew up still believing that spirits could be captured and controlled by strangers with cameras.

I found several very very old women who rolled their own cigars and smoked them with the lit end in their mouth. I thought it would make a great picture to show friends, but apparently they didn’t. They throw a royal tantrum and demanded that I give them my camera. They were just about to unchain their dogs and let them after me when I finally decided that if I valued my life I had better bow to their demands. Just one look at them was enough to convince me that it wouldn't have bothered them in the least to see their dogs tear me apart. They unceremoniously opened my camera, tore out the film, threw my film into the fire and begrudingly gave me back my camera. I was then invited to leave their village and never come back.

Lesson learned: Beware of old ladies who smoke their cigars with the lighted end in their mouth. Anyone who does that has got to be a bit odd and dangerous.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Goal #1688: See the Midnight Sun in Alaska

I have always heard about the midnight sun in the far north but I’d never seen it. I got my chance when I went to Alaska with my brother and his son to visit my two sisters who lived in Anchorage. It was in June when the salmon were running and the sun didn’t set.

My sister and her husband decided to take us to the Kenai Peninsula to do some serious salmon fishing and see what the Alaskan wilderness is really like. It was so great!  We sat around the fire until 2am talking and enjoyed the light. I kept looking about me thinking it was so strange to have it so light outside at such an early hour in the morning. It wasn’t bright like it is in the middle of the day. Instead, it was more like that dusky time on a summer day after the sun goes down over the mountains but it’s still light out. You can see great without any need of a flashlight or any other light source. For someone who loves light, this was wonderful.

As we talked I could hear that sad lonely call of the Loon off on the lake. My body said it was tired but my mind kept telling me that it was not time to go to sleep because I was getting all that natural light stimulation. It was such a funny feeling. I loved it. I can only image what this place is like in the winter when they get only a few brief hours of light each day. No thank you.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Goal #2253: See if There is a Book so Awful That I Can't Finish Reading it

Originally, I thought this goal was going to be accomplished by reading a book that was written so poorly that it would be too laborous and painful to read. I have read many books and only a few of them were so badly written that I couldn't finish them. Some were so self-serving that I knew the only intent the author had in writing the book was to brag about how awesome he is. Others were so poorly researched that it was embarrassing to think someone would write and publish such trash. Some quickly established the fact that the author had no clue what he was talking about.
But there is one book that I will always remember as the absolutely most horrifying book I ever tried to read. I will not give the title of the book because I want no part in getting anyone else to read such a horrible book as this one. It was written by an author who interviewed men who had served as guards in German Nazi concentration camps throughout Europe during WWII. He wanted to get a picture of what happened at these camps from their perspective of the men who served as guards.
What I read in this book was some of the most horrid and gruesome accounts of man’s inhumanity to man I have ever encountered. In some macabre way, I was fascinated to read how these men justified what they were doing. Many actually believed that Jews were a subhuman species and needed to be destroyed so as not to pollute the superior human race. Others went mad because of their involvement in carrying out such inhuman orders given them by their "superiors." Some took such great joy and delight in displaying their brutality. This book gave me an insight into the tortured minds of men who knew they were doing the most awful things they could possibly do to other people.
I read about a third of the book and finally had to stop because it was simply so awful. I was literally getting sick to my stomach. Months later when the trauma wore off I picked up the book to see if I could finish it. After only a chapter or two I had to quite again. This continued until I got about two thirds of the way through the book. I finally had to just throw it away. I was so disturbed by what I was reading that I tore the book to pieces and burned it so that no one else would get hold of this book.
Now, you have to understand that I am a bibliophile and I don’t destroy books. And I NEVER burn them!! But I did NOT want anyone else to read this mind numbing book. I felt I would be doing something morally wrong by donating this book to any place that would make it possible for others to read it. It was an amazingly powerful book; powerful in a tortured terrible way.