A Higher Call – Courage and Humanity Above All

When I first heard of the book, A Higher Call by Adam Makos, Larry Alexander, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this book. War time stories don’t appeal to me too much, but I did enjoy the book Unbroken, the WW II story of Louis Zamperini, another WW II pilot risking his life in Japan written by Laura Hillenbrand.

After realizing that this book was quite a hit on the NY Times Best Seller List, I thought I would give it a try and I am so glad that I did. Franz Stigler, the German ace pilot, exhibited a humanity beyond belief. This book is a tribute to him and to all acts of chivalry and heroism during times of war. There are undoubtedly many stories that will never get to be told so let’s celebrate this one and recognize the glory of true courage and conviction.

The title and subtitle of the book: A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II says it all.

The videos below will give you a sense of the book, but cannot not replace it.

If you want a slightly different take on the story, you can watch the next video below with many different photos and clips.

While these videos provide some of the story, as usual, the book is much, much better! If you like history or stories with heroes, this book is a very good read. I can recommend it without reservation. Read some reviews and more about the book at the goodreads website.

The Meaning of Life in a Paragraph and a Book

I recently read the brainpickings article about the book “When Breath Becomes Air: A Young Neurosurgeon Examines the Meaning of Life as He Faces His Death”

The first paragraph of the article, beneath the quote from the book, is one of the most targeted and poignant statements on the subject of the human condition I have read in a long, long time. It encapsulates the essence of the “meaning of life” for me. It may be that I am more sensitive as I near my seventh decade, but it surely hit home! The section from the review and to which I refer is:

“All life is lived in the shadow of its own finitude, of which we are always aware — an awareness we systematically blunt through the daily distraction of living. But when this FINITUDE is made acutely imminent, one suddenly collides with awareness so acute that it leaves no choice but to Fill the shadow with as much light as a human being can generate — the sort of inner illumination we call meaning: the meaning of life.” [emphasis is mine]

The book has been very well received, but I have ordered it with mixed emotions. I am anticipating powerful insights, inspiration and guidance with the knowledge that I will be emotionally involved and perhaps burdened by the experience.

Visit the website to read the entire review of the book and if you order the book via that site, they receive a small commission.

You can read more about the book, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, at goodreads

Baby Polar Bear Cub Dreams – Video

Most of us have had pets when they were young, i.e. puppies and kittens, and even older pets who moved around when they slept. And, many of us, I am sure, wondered:

“What are they thinking or dreaming?”

This cute polar bear cub exhibits those same behaviors. What dreams is this baby having?

From the YouTube Video Website:

“At 5 weeks old, the polar bear cub is doing very well; she weighs a little over 4 pounds and measures 16 inches long! Both eyes have started to open as of yesterday, but they are not fully open yet. The care staff says the sound that she makes in the video is of contentment. Her motor skills are improving each day and she has started trying to stand up on all fours, especially when she’s ready for her next meal! She is on six feedings a day, every four hours. The team has been evaluating her daily needs and provides care 24/7.”

Frozen Kitten is Life in the Raw via Go Pro

I enjoy photography because it enables me to capture a moment in time that will never be exactly the same again. Videography, however has not appealed to me, but when I see footage like the video below, I appreciate how a live action cam enables us to witness life in its raw form.

Although this is an advertisement for GoPro, let us assume that it is true and because of that provides the viewer with a first-hand glimpse of nature, emotion, caring and human kindness. That’s the key phrase,; “first-hand!”

From the notes accompanying the video:

Published on Dec 14, 2015

“On a cold Thanksgiving morning, Branden Bingham and his family stumbled upon a seemingly frozen kitten buried in the snow. In an attempt to save his life, they rushed inside and began performing CPR on the lifeless cat. ”

My Homage to Trees

Trees have always been magical or should I say mystical to me. My first true relationship with a tree was with that of a large chestnut tree in the Bronx, NYC. It was near our elementary school and grew tall alongside a hill we used for sledding in the winter and for rolling down in cardboard boxes in the spring and summer.

I was very young, perhaps seven years old. It was a very large tree as I remember and the chestnuts were a beautiful; a rich dark brown and so very smooth. Each Chestnut pod held two rather large half-domed seeds that were shiny and precious.

I was in further awe of nature when I realized that a huge oak tree could be brought forth from the growth of a small, seemingly innocuous acorn.

I agree with Joyce Kilmer. Trees are very special. The video below is an ode to trees. It ushers forth many of the feelings I have toward these living sentinels who retain their footholds at the behest of man.

NOTE: The reader has an accent which may make it difficult to understand all of the words, but I don’t think words are needed.

The Silent Friends

The Silent Friends from Kauri Multimedia on Vimeo.

NOTE: I first came across this video via an article, The Silent Friends: A Beautiful Short Film Celebrating Our Abiding Bond with Trees, from the brainpickings website. If you are in search of intellectually stimulating and far reaching topics, you might enjoy stopping by.

Giving Thanks – Thanksgiving Reader: A New Tradition

We had a very good, 90 year old plus friend named Nat who served as the patriarch of our family during Thanksgiving dinner. Each year we asked him to prepare a few words appropriate for a Thanksgiving commemoration with family and friends. For a number of years he would read his newly written words of wisdom. I can’t explain why, but we archived these memories and kept them in a safe place.

Thanksgiving Reader

Now that Nat is no longer with us, each year we read one of his past statements. This has become part of our Thanksgiving tradition. I have written about Seth Godin a number of times on this blog. Seth has been generous and kind enough to make available what may become a new holiday tradition for us.

He has provided a series of thought provoking readings that may be read by individuals or in a responsive format. Here is his post and free download of a Thanksgiving Reader. Even if you don’t read all of it, there are certainly some readings which will draw attention to the real meaning of the day and help focus a family or group of friends on, what I think, is the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday; gratitude.

We will be using at least one of the readings at our gathering this year right after Nat’s words! I think you will find the Reader poignant and meaningful.

Poignant Photo of a Faithful Dog’s Last Ride

Pets are very loving and give us something that is hard to find; unconditional love. Doges especially would willingly give their lives to save their masters. That is what makes it so heartbreaking when it is time to say goodbye.

This picture of a dog’s last ride opens our emotions as we see how much it is enjoyed even with the wear-and-tear of old age.

old dog's last ride

Picture Via

First seen on Mashable where you can read more of the story.