The Children’s Blizzard

blizzard_cover“The 12th of January, 1888, is, and long will be, remembered, not only by Dakotans, but by many in the northwest, not for the things we enjoy, love, and would see repeated; but for its darkness, desolation, ruin and death, spread broadcast; for the sorrow, sadness and heartache that followed in its train”.
-Caleb Holt Ellis, 1909

Considering that horrible events transpire on a regular basis, each and every one of them relative to one’s direct involvement in them, I’m not sure if many people remember this event and/or continue to discuss it’s impact on turn of the century Prairie life. This is not a derogatory sleight by any means, only more of an observation.

We remember the things that matter to us, plain and simple.  Unless you have a vested interest in the history of the weather service, the advent of frontier pioneering, or your bloodline includes someone effected by this tragedy, you may have no idea that it even happened. As for me, I’ve heard the story through the years of the school teacher who roped her children together (turns out this is actually disputed on both sides as to its veracity) to traverse the snow storm but had no idea this was “that snowstorm”.

This book, although tragic, was an incredibly rich read. The author, David Laskin, has created a narrative for this tragedy that intertwines the stories of multiple people involved. From the immigrant families attempting their luck at homesteading to the military officers in charge of weather forecasting (in its infancy here), this is an absolute page turner. Laskin does a fantastic job of breaking down, in layman’s terms, the conditions that both led to the storm and continued to feed its ferocity.

As a quick summary, this book is about a  blizzard that occurred across the Midwest on January 12th, 1888. Striking fast, and without warning (one of the sharply contested arguments about the weather service and it’s shortcomings back then was the inability, for a multitude of reasons, to relay the danger in time), over two hundred people froze to death. Referred to as the “Children’s Blizzard”, due to the large amount of school children unable to make their way home from school before being overtaken, this was a tragedy that had not been expected or seen before.

As a gift a couple Christmases ago, I finally got around to reading this. For those whose To Be Read list is ever expanding (like me), you know the struggle of not having enough time to read all the books you’d like and the “SQUIRREL!!!” moment when you get distracted by a book that must be read immediately, skipping to the front of the line.

Bottom line is that I would definitely recommend this one if you can get your hands on it.

In Defense Of Reading

hammockIn a world where technology has improved our lives and continually increases its own ability by leaps and bounds, humans have had to adapt to living at a constantly moving pace. With the instant accessibility of information now, reading a good paper-and-glue book seems to be less and less given its proper due (not that I have a problem with ebooks; on the contrary I enjoy them even though you can’t sniff them). I felt moved to declare my love affair with reading and point out the glaringly obvious fact that people do a good amount of reading, whether they will admit it or not. Now, you may think that reading doesn’t need anyone to defend it, and you may be right, but I have to get it off my chest. To anyone who knows me personally (or even has read this blog for any amount of time, just look at the previous blog post), you know that I am a firm believer in the power of a good book. I have been reading since I was a child, and have always preferred the company of a good book to a reality tv show (or most television for that matter).
Continue reading In Defense Of Reading

2015 in Books (Part 1)

shelf

So last year, I decided to get some thoughts down on each and every book I had finished reading. Since I started a little late in the year, I had to do a reverse chronological order and work my way back to the beginning of 2014. It was a pretty major task, trying to remember in December what I’d read twelve months prior.
Continue reading 2015 in Books (Part 1)

Devil’s Knot

d-knot-coverDuring one of my six month cruises in the Navy, I read American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I’m not necessarily going to pontificate on that book in detail, other than to say that some of the violence in its pages was graphic enough for me to set it down periodically and go find pictures of rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns to remind me there is good in the world too.

Devil’s Knot is the first book since then to receive the same treatment. I am in no way demeaning the book and actually would recommend it to anyone interested in the following subjects;

1) True Crime
2) Miscarriages Of Justice
3) Wrongful Imprisonment
4) Freedom of Speech
5) Societal Outcasts
6) Artistic Expression

Continue reading Devil’s Knot

Destiny Of The Republic

dotr_coverAs a lifelong reader and writer, I have had the opportunity to read books of nearly every genre, length, and caliber. Although I planned on including each of the books I read this year in my summary (2014’s summary), this biography of one of our lesser known Presidents left enough of a mark to warrant its own individual thoughts. As we might say in Internet speak, it “got me right in the feels bro“.
Continue reading Destiny Of The Republic

Facebook Free February 2015

junkieWell, it’s that time of year again. For the third year in a row, I’m declaring the month of February “Facebook Free February”. OK, it’s not official or even public, it’s just my thing.

That being said, I’ve got a couple more observations from this past year regarding Facebook. In an attempt at avoiding the rehashing of stuff from my previous postings on what feels to be a necessary evil, I’m trying to keep it fresh.

Continue reading Facebook Free February 2015

2014 In Books

shelfEver since 2012, I’ve set a yearly reading goal on Goodreads (if you are not on there yet and call yourself a reader, you may want to rethink that!). I have gradually increased my goal every year and as we bring 2014 to a close, I’m happy to say that I surpassed my goal of 35 books for the year. As of “press time” here, I’m at 57 out of 35.

In the same vein as my post about my favorite books, I’d like to put some of my own thoughts out there on the literary highs and lows of this past year. Keep in mind, of course, that these are only my own thoughts and opinions. Occasionally my opinion of a book is way off the general consensus, both good and bad. I welcome discussions and recommendations from all folks so pipe up in the comments if you’re willing.

Let’s go…