This is a barabara, a sod hut used by the Aleuts before the Second World War. Because the Aleutian Islands in Alaska are devoid of trees, the only wood available is driftwood or packing material – note the pallets used in the doorway.  I like this picture because you can see a telephone line extending into the barabara.  The visual lesson is technology moves faster than social or economic change whether you are ready for it or not. The children born in this barabara are now reading books on their Iphones – and that was less than a generation ago. To paraphrase Al Jolson a generation ago, “You ain’ read nuttin’ yet!” https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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I like this photoshop so much I turned  it into an electronic jigsaw. I love jigsaws because every single piece fits. If you’re a writer NOTHING fits. No matter how many times I rewrite, there is always something missing, poorly stated, something someone will say, ‘You know, that’s pretty dumb.’ Readers are blessed because they get a finished product. The best the author could do at that moment. And readers don’t have the anguish of looking at a paragraph and saying to themselves, “what could I have done better.” https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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The greatest power of writing is offering the reader a new perspective. ANYONE can write the same old/same old.  If you do not have something unique to offer, you have nothing. I was struck by this artwork – please watch it all the way through – because it is “something unique,” something I had never seen before. It is oxymoronic in the sense it is artwork which ‘moved’ without ‘moving.’ I like to think my writing takes the reader to ‘places’ she/he has never been without ‘moving’ more than pages.https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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No, it is not THE Louvre. It is the ‘Temporary Louvre,’ a saloon in Juneau during the Alaska Gold Rush. Of historical interest, see what the little boy on the left has in his hands?  It’s a toy wheel.  In those days – before parents could afford a bicycle – children were given a wheel and stick to keep it rolling down the street. If you will look on the upper right-hand side of the photograph, you will see houses built on a steep slope.  When the Alaska Gold Rush started in Juneau, the mountainside feel straight into the Gastineau Channel. Then, ore cart load by ore cart load, the overburden from the mines was dumped directly into the Channel.  Then buildings erupted from the dumped overburden and thus was the modern city of Juneau built.  Juneau is also incredibly wet and the street timbers you see in the photograph were necessary keep rainwater from pooling in front of the tavern.  I particularly like the advertisement for Lager Beer – as if an advertisement was needed.

https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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One hundred and 13 years ago, my 19-year-old grandfather arrived in San Francisco on his trip to ‘see the world.’ He checked into a cheap hotel and went out to see the town. Before he could return to his room, at 5:12 a.m., the earthquake struck. Fire quickly followed. The hotel where he had stayed burned to the ground. Unlike the mobs on the street who were sure the last days of earth were upon them, my grandfather was not a drinker. So he was drafted into service by the authorities. For the next ten days he was given a number of jobs. One was looking for bodies in destroyed buildings. He stacked the bodies in piles “like cord wood,” poured creosote on them and let them burn. He also worked as a “safe cooler.”  Because a safe is made of layers of steel, it was possible for the outside to be cool but the inside to be red-hot. Workers found that if a safe were opened when the interior was red hot, the sudden introduction of air caused an instant conflagration of all papers inside.  So, when safes were found in the debris, they were taken down to the dock area and placed on boats. My grandfather’s job was to tie ropes around the safes and lower them into the water where they would remain for several hours to cool enough to be opened safely. Another job he had was delivering milk to expectant and nursing mothers in what is now Golden Gate Park.  In this vast open space thousands of people were living in tents. He said that he spent those ten days working hard and that he too, lived in a tent in the park.  He ate camp style and drank only boiled water because of the fear of typhus. Among his belongings was the coarsely sewn Red Cross armband that had been issued to him which our family still has today. Until the day I actually recorded his reminiscences, all he would say of the Quake and Fire was a sad “So many, many people died.”  Thank you, grandad, for being a part of history. https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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I learned a new word the other day: syzygy.  It’s another word in English which has no vowels. It was originally an astronomical term which meant three celestial bodies in a line. On this planet, it means the three or more objects in a line.  (Alignment means two ‘things’ in a line but syzygy means more than two.) My father spoke five languages and said American English was hardest one to learn. In Italian and French, every letter in a word in pronounced.  Not so in American English. American English has words with letters that are not pronounced – knight, gnu and government – words that are spelled the same way but pronounced differently – read and read – along with words which sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings: too, to, two. Then there are words which are spelled the same and pronounced the same but have completely different meanings – does and dissipate – and collections of letters that spell words only if pronounced the way they appear in other words. For instance, there is the word “ghoti.” This is “fish” if one pronounces the “gh” is the “f” sound as found in the word “enough.” The “o” is “i” sound as found in “women” and the “ti” is the “sh” sound as found in “nation.” At the same time, there are words which have the letters in the same combination but are pronounced differently, as in “quick” and “Buick.” Hummm, https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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History is not the story of the past; it is the study of the future. This photograph was taken in Juneau during the Alaska Gold Rush. About 100 years ago. It would be hard to miss the “ALL WHITE HELP” lettering on the placard. But ‘white’ then was not what ‘white’ now means. “White” then did not include the Irish, Italian, Scandinavian and Russian – of which Alaska had plenty – and blacks, of which Alaska had  very few. In fact, during the First World War in Alaska, it was the Norwegians which were being lynched. Three of them when Alaska’s population was under 50,000. Every civilization and nation goes through periods of discrimination. The difference is that in America we ‘move on’ to different ethnic persuasions. Over the past 200 years we have hanged Quakers, whipped Baptists, massacred Indians and deported socialists. Then we moved on. 80 years ago, on April 9, 1939, Marion Anderson, a black signer, had to perform at the Lincoln Memorial because she could not sing in Constitution Hall. A generation later, we have had a black man as President, a black woman running for President, blacks on the Supreme Court and black movies and music making millions. https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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Yup, it’s a sea horse. (No Photoshop necessary.) The scientific name for the seahorse is Hippocampus which translates from the Greek as Hippos for “horse” and kampos for “sea monster.” But it is a small monster, ranging up to 14 inches and some can gallop through ocean at the astonishing rate of five feet an hour.  Oh, they also swim vertically, suck in their food, and the males carry the eggs. So why do I, as a writer, find the seahorse so fascinating?  Because in spite of their size, slowness and unusual food-gathering techniques, they have been around for more than 12 million years, longer than humans. Most intriguing, their eyes move independently so they see 360 degrees without having to move their head. Writers must be, at the very least, 360-degree visionaries. Then we have to ‘suck in’ the experiences were see and imbed them in our short stories and novels.  We’ll steal an experience, good idea or saying from anyone at any time from any point of the compass.  “You have the right to be silent,” the old writer’s saying goes, “but I have the right to use anything you say in a short story or novel at any time.” As readers, writer and just general folk, our greatest opportunities will come in through side doors we did not know existed – as long as we keep your 360-degree vision 20/20. https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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Until the movie PATTON, in 1970, General George S. Patton, was largely a forgotten hero. But he was a man who was at the forefront of every military action from the American expedition into Mexico after Pancho Villa in 1916 to the end of Second World War.  Ironically, he died because of a vehicle accident in December of 1945. He was also famous for his pitchy quotes including one which every writer, artist and actor should appreciate: “I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom” Anyone with connections can be successful But the real test of success is what you accomplish on your own. There is no substitute for hard work because you make your own luck.  https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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If you live in New York you will recognize this as the Flat Iron Building. It was the first steel structure building in the city. In 1903. EVERYONE expected it to collapse when it rose to the Third Floor.  Why? Because it was a NEW concept and people are S-L-O-W to accept change. Today, the Flat Iron Building is an historical relic and dwarfed by New York’s other skyscrapers.  What’s the point? The next time you see ‘different’ book, or are introduced to a different’ point of view, try it.  You just might like it. https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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