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For more on anacondas and other snakes, go to factzoo,com, http://bit.ly/zYwf6e
In 1983, my 11-year-old son and I spent a few weeks in Panama, exploring the length and breadth of that beautiful country, thanks to some friends who worked for the State Department. They had been there for quite a few years, so knew all the great places to go, from the rain forests in the north to the jungle in the south.   

We decided to go off for a few days on a little adventure of our own, and I had my heart set on a dugout canoe trip into the Darien peninsula with native guides. We could drive into Darien, but not very far. Eventually, the road would turn to jungle.  

He wanted to go to Contadora, one of the resorts on Islas de las Perlas, off the Pacific coast. We could fly there from Panama City.  


The deciding factor was anacondas, as he so graphically pointed out in a conversation that began with “Are you nuts, Mom?” 
He was always a smart kid. 

We went to Contadora, where I'm happy to say we didn't run into a single anaconda. 

I thought of that trip today when I read this story in the Washington Post about pet-gone-feral pythons and anacondas taking over the Florida Everglades: 

http://wapo.st/y7Cn59
(Warning: Accompanying photos are not for the faint of heart.)


 
 
I know, I know, the economy is showing signs of life. Wake me up when it's dancing around the block! Until then, remember these words, reposted from last July, when the future looked especially bleak: 

Several once-comfortable, highly educated, high-salaried, middle-aged friends of mine were caught in today’s perfect storm of deep recession, real estate bust and offshore outsourcing. If you have followed their demise over time on Twitter, here’s what you might have read:  

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Late 50s, still fit, married 25 yrs, 2 grown kids, mortgage almost paid. Life is good!   

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Will work another 10 years, then semi-retire to sunny condo life.  Ahhh!  

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Lost 1/3 of IRA on Wall St but can recoup over time. Must be careful w/$. 

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Boss promises big raise this yr. Got 30-yr pin @employee recog dinner 2nite! 

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Important project at work so cancelled vacation, but big $$$ ahead.   

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This just in: Company lost contract/was sold. Job went pffft!   

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How can I compete for work against 30-somethings w/0 mouths 2 feed?  

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Signed up for unemployment today. Job prospects dim. Spouse blue.  

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COBRA expired. Bought lousy insurance @$1,000/mo/pp! Don’t get sick! 

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Goodbye vacations, motorcycles, condos, golf, tennis, fun. Trying to stay hopeful.  

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How long can this go on?

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UI ran out. Took PT job at less than ½ usual pay, but working, at least.  

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Our neighborhood turned chic so taxes sky high. Home value tanked.  

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Taxed out of our house + underwater!  Can’t believe this is happening. 

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Almost 65, so going on Medicare. Never thought I’d really, really need it.   

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Finally old enuf for SS. Medicare $ taken from monthly check, thank god. 

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GOP rattling sabers over entitlements. Spouse worried

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Biggest fear: 75 yo + eating dog food. SS hasn’t kept up w/COLA. 

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Is all of this just a bad dream? Can I wake up now?  

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Trying to look on bright side: more time w/kids, simple pleasures, etc. 

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Took kids/grandkids 4 pizza + walk. Learning 2 love Monopoly. Spouse unhappy.   

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Not what I expected for my “golden years” but will make do. Still healthy

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Thank goodness, college kid will finish + married kid got great job nearby. 

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Kid graduated but NO jobs. He’s stuck w/huge college loan. I’m stuck w/him. 

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New grad landed job in Tokyo, other son transferred to Brazil. Spouse walked.

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I’m looking for a little space on a passing ice floe. 


 
 
Anne Trubek opines on writers interacting with readers through social media, in a recent New York Times story.  Once, writers sought seclusion from the clatter of the real world, but today many reach out through the Internet for interaction with readers and other writers. Author and humorist Mat Johnson -- who boasts 39,712 followers on Twitter—says “the people I follow, they are my dream party guests, interesting strangers whose wit keeps me coming back.”

Do you use Twitter or Facebook to reach your audience and/or promote your book? I know Archer Mayor, Leigh Russell, Jacqui Christodoulou and Bill Campbell do, because I follow them.  (You can reach me on Twitter through a link found in the right-hand column.)

If you use Twitter, what does it do for you?

See below for Trubek's Why Authors Tweet.
http://nyti.ms/xFBsFQ



 
 
Snow? Yes! Not much, but enough to cover everything and make the world beautiful. Here’s a little promo video Mount Snow produced last week, showing what it was like on the slopes on Martin Luther King Birthday weekend. (Notice how empty the trails  are! ) And, yes, that’s me doing all the fancy downhill moves. 
I lied. 


 
 
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Sabrina Cohen works with many support groups, including ones for people with spinal cord injuries like her own. Photo: Charlotte Libov
Birds reader, health book author and public speaker Charlotte Libov urges everyone to vote for health activist Sabrina Cohen, a finalist for an award from America Inspired, the national contest that celebrates extraordinary people across the US. 

Sabrina was one of five nominees chosen from more than 900 nominees.  After voting closes on Jan. 27, the finalist with the most overall votes will win $50,000. Charlotte urges everyone to vote for Sabrina in the Overcoming Adversity Category. You may vote once a day until January 27.

Paralyzed at age 14 in a car crash, Sabrina went on to graduate from the University of Miami and open her own public relations business. Inspired by the hope of stem cell research, she closed her business in 2004 to devote her life to raising money for stem cell research and helping others who are paralyzed. In a few short years, she has raised more than $75,000 and donated it to the top researchers in the field seeking cures for not only paralysis, but also stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, MS and more.

Read more about her amazing life in a story Charlotte wrote for examiner.com.
http://www.examiner.com/health-in-miami/paralyzed-as-a-teen-sabrina-cohen-fights-for-a-cure

If Sabrina’s story inspires you, too sign up for examiner.com, then vote. Good luck, Sabrina!

Here’s an excerpt from Charlotte's story:

Sabrina Cohen has performed stand-up comedy from a wheelchair, rolled the catwalk as a fashion model, and donned scarcely more than a bikini's worth of body paint, all in the name of raising money for medical research. She's also lobbied Congress, hobnobbed with Bill and Hillary Clinton, strategized with Michael J. Fox, and has proved an inspiration to  Dr. Sally Temple, winner of a MacArthur genius grant for her work as a neuroscientist. 

But Sabrina's most satisfying moments come when she's called upon to provide hope to newly paralyzed people whose lives, like hers, have changed in a flash. "These are people who are going through their darkest days. They need to talk with someone who can give them hope. Not false hope, but realistic hope," she says.

Paralyzed at the age of 14, Sabrina knows about dark days. But she also knows about hope. And, for this, she's been honored many times. But she's never lost sight of her true goal, which is overcoming adversity and teaching others to do it too.
_____


Read more about Sabrina's amazing life in a story Charlotte wrote for examiner.com. 
http://www.examiner.com/health-in-miami/paralyzed-as-a-teen-sabrina-cohen-fights-for-a-cure

If Sabrina’s story inspires you, too sign up for examiner.com, then vote. Thank you, Charlotte, for letting us know about her. Good luck, Sabrina! 


 
 
What a prophetic message! It was taken from Dr. King’s Nobel Prize Lecture, delivered December 11, 1964. For the complete lecture, go here.


 
 

Martin Luther King led extensive civil rights sit-ins  throughout the South in the 1950s and 1960s. He was pastor, for a time, at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where he helped coordinate sit-ins at lunch counters and boycotts of businesses refusing to serve all people.  

As a clergyman preparing sermons, he drew heavily from the Bible for words that would be meaningful to his congregation, including this quote from the book of Amos, chapter five, verse 24. 

A reference to the "mighty stream" of justice is found in a number of his sermons, as well as in his famous I Have a Dream speech, given before a crowd of more than 100,000 people gathered on the National Mall on August 28, 1963, for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 

Here is how he uses the stream image in his I Have a Dream speech:

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

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Go here for the full text and audio version of the I Have a Dream speech. This is the only place where I was able to find a video version. 


 
 
These lines are taken from King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” written April 16, 1963, and addressed to fellow clergy. Here is the passage, in context:

 I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. 


 
 
The sixth in a series of quotations from the sermons, speeches and letters of Martin Luther King, Jr., inscribed on the wall behind his statue at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC.

King was said to have used this sentence in numerous sermons, but also in his address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (August 16, 1967), as published in the book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community.”

For an excellent resource site on Martin Luther King, go to  http://www.civilrights.org/resources/mlk/



 
 
Quoting Georgetown University Professor Anthony Clark Arend:
Dr. King made these remarks in a speech to 26,000 African-American high school and college students on April 18, 1959. The students had come to Washington, D.C. to demonstrate their support for the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. The Board of Education, outlawing racial segregation in public schools. (The speech can be found in I Have  Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World (James Melvin Washington, ed., 1992, p. 34).

For an excellent resource site on Martin Luther King's life and work, go to  http://www.civilrights.org/resources/mlk/