Thursday, August 11, 2016

As requested on Quora: elaborating a letter to impress a famous person

Our Quora person chose their verbs well.

"Elaborate" in particular gets into the search engines.

And "to impress" a famous person - don't we all want to do that?

Here is what I wrote, based on what I remembered in this wonderful book by Ann M Martin called Stage Fright which is about Sara and her attempts to reach famous people.

Read Adelaide Dupont's answer to How can I elaborate a letter to impress a famous person? on Quora

Someone else who is good at writing letters would be Jill Brenner and her entertaining letters to the stamp company. These are what we would call more functional letters.

A lot of English language learners do try to elaborate or embellish as is frequently used as a term of art.

Other people who wrote in are Colleen McLaffarty

Steven Silz-Carson

and Mirasol May Manriza.

I think that is an effective spread of backgrounds.

What other letter writers said: they seemed to have a healthy suspicion of elaboration.

Friday, July 01, 2016

#majellaproject #campnanowrimo schedule and days

Monthly Calendar for July 2016: iCal
1-30 July 2016: three sessions of the Majella Project

Monthly Calendar for July 2016: iCal
10-31 July 2016: 1100; 1700; 2100 sessions of the Majella Project

At the moment I am very excited about the CampNaNoWriMo write in which is at 6pm Pacific Standard Time [the home of the Office of Letters and Light where NaNoWriMo is based].

On the first day of #campnanowrimo I wrote 2898 words of The Majella Project.

Started with the prompt I never thought I was so good at and filled in doctoring for the main character/protagonist Majella.

Sister Majella has been in a great many projects ever since she was a child and teenager in Albania.

A few years ago she started working for Doctors without Borders in Juba, South Sudan.

Her medical specialism is paediatric medicine.

I set three alerts to make me write: one for an hour before and the other for 15 minutes before the writing time.

Two other people in the cabin spoke up as well.

Now I must try to feed my mouse with BlueTooth ... the battery is so very very low.

Right now Majella is on a cruise in the Comoros. And I am thinking of her going to Swaziland too.

Respect and best wishes ...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Technical Work and #CampNaNoWriMo cabinmates

Rainforest Reload: four trees with orange trunks; one with a semiblue/semiwhite trunk

Hello again! This is the third post I've written this year. 
As an IT person once said to me, "Isn't it great when you have your own Mac at home?"
The technical difficulties first: on the 20th and 21st June I could not comment on other Blogger/Google blogs because there was a pull-down menu with an empty profile.
When I clicked on the pull-down profile I did not see my name or account. I could still get into Halfway up Rysy Peak and still write in and on my GooglePlus account, so where that applied, that is what I did.
A technical opportunity was the chance to try out the new StumbleUpon interface.
[I can still pull away from it if I want/have to through the Beta settings]
  • Grids and lists are now standard for the profile pages
  • The "Add this page" is now on the right - click on the button and paste the link in the dialogue box
  • The toolbar is fresh and clean
  • We can see now how many likes we have exactly [this for me is 85,500+]
  • The lists are now in alphabetical order when things are first being sorted
  • When adding to lists, they are still in chronological order
International Studies drawing. A butterfly; a hill; a pyramid and a Peruvian and lots of musical notes and staves

I personally created a new list - my first in the new system.
It was Small Beginnings - the series where Sophie Masson is interviewing writers.
Looking for a great new way to embed it:
  • There is a "Report Bugs" feature in the profile menu.
  • Notifications are neater and tidier - in the last release they were a bell symbol
  • The "Contact Other Stumblers" interface is different
  • The followers and following are now in alphabetical order rather than in chronological or frequency order
  • In the grids there are now 10 pages/links in each row

Monday, June 20, 2016

Passion for unicorns? Latin can propel your obsession forward

First link is a set of flashcards to get you comfortable and competent. Quizlet does a great job - you can make your own cards.

I'll talk first about -sess

as it came up on Google Plus and

Someone's friend has an inordinate passion for unicorns.

The word many people use to describe this inordinate passion is obsess.

In this case sess is a suffix on words you might see such as assess.

This website - tells me that sess is part of a set of Latin roots which mean sitting.

So you sit with your unicorn obsession.


These words and concepts are not easily learnt phonetically - at least for me.

Even now when I break out a syllable or two ... and it can be very stressful.

Would I say OBsess or obSESS? Or is the SE in the middle and do I say THAT?


Perhaps the word the person might have been trying to get was abscess.


Another way I remember how to write obsession is that it has session as its chief. Ob provides emphasis as obvious or obdurate might do.

The way I understood the ob is that an obsession takes you away or into the activity or the behaviour.

Or the thought. An obsession is a set of ideas more than it is one thought - even a thousand thoughts.

Thank you Annabelle Greig and

PS: I noticed one of my favourite words assiduous [written like deciduous] is one of the first on the list.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

"Without people; nothing is possible - without institutions nothing is enduring": Jean Monnet

When I was reading the Pacific Standard's interview with Ralph Nader - the US consumer advocate - near the end there was this Jean Monnet quote which it is good to remember.

I made two graphics.

Calligraphic representation of Jean Monnet's quote "Without PEOPLE nothing is POSSIBLE" plus significant dates 1888 and 1952.
"Without people nothing is possible" - Jean Monnet
1888 is when he was born
1952 is when the European Coal and Steel Commission started his work.

Calligraphic representation [medium size] of the second half of the Jean Monnet quote: "Without institutions nothing is enduring". Graphic by Adelaide Dupont 9 June 2016.
"Without institutions nothing is enduring"
Jean Monnet
The "without" is bordered with a hexagon
The "institutions" and "enduring" are written in upper-case
"Nothing" and "is" have two separate borders in the same colour

Thursday, June 02, 2011

For Nisha of South Africa, clean water for all means all!

On the 28th May 2011, I was surfing on the #cerebralpalsy hashtag of Twitter when I caught Nisha of South Africa's eye. I was very impressed with her 360-degree commitment to turn things around for herself and for the world. Clean water is one of the planet's biggest needs. As of the 2nd June 2011, she is 59% on the way to her campaign goal of $6500, with nine months to go. (The campaign was anticipated to take two years).

I leave you now to allow Nisha to tell her story:

1st August 2010
My name is Nisha, I am a twenty-year-old from South Africa and this is the story of how I became who I am. WARNING: My life has more twists in it than a rollercoaster.

At six months I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP) - an umbrella term encompassing a group of non-progressive, non-contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development, chiefly in the various areas of body movement. As a result of having Cerebral Palsy I am unable to walk and my right-arm has reduced functionality. Growing up I used to watch other kids playing on the playground I used to be so envious and as I grew so did my anger towards God.

When I was 13 I was diagnosed with advanced Scoliosis – a medical condition in which a person’s spine is curved from side to side – and within weeks I was on the operating table undergoing surgery in which a metal rod was placed between my vertebrae to keep them from fusing together and was subsequently bedridden for a year after that. As you can imagine being bedridden wasn’t exactly fun - I got into a mini-depression and put on a bit of weight – until a family friend of ours – who is now passed on God bless his heart – came to visit and told me I looked a little ‘plumpy’ – at first I was really hurt and then I took a good look in the mirror and realized that there might have been some truth in what he was saying and I made some changes in my life.

The year flew by in the blink of an eye and it was time for me to go back to school. I went for about a week before I realized that my body was never going to be as it was before the surgery – just sitting in class for eight hours was difficult – so my parents pulled me out of the public school system and made alternative arrangements.

At that point in my life everything was going according to plan school was going great and everybody was healthy and ‘happy’ but, I still felt as though something was missing – like everything in my life was mediocre. I had no clue what I wanted but, I did know that I did not want to lead a mediocre life. A few weeks after I had had this profound realization I was watching The Oprah Winfrey Show – as I always did – but this particular episode featured a young woman by the name of Kendall Ciesemier -one day after watching an Oprah Winfrey special: on the AIDS epidemic in Africa she took all the money that she had, put it in and envelope and sent to WorldVision to ‘adopt’ an orphan and in 2007 Kendall founded an organization called Kids Caring 4 Kids – an organization which aims to raise awareness and money for AIDS orphans and other highly venerable kids in Africa and to inspire kids to care for others in need. My mouth literally fell open when I heard Kendall’s story but, after watching the show I switched off the TV and went on with my normal life convinced that I could never do something so spectacular.

A few weeks later, I found myself laying on my bed crying because my back was hurting and all my muscles were stiff I remember asking God: Do you love me? Do you hate me? Do you even know I exist? Why me? A gentle voice replied: Why not you? That was like a slap in the face because I always thought that God had it in for me and that response made me realize that the world didn’t revolve around me. I paused for a moment before I asked: Why am I here? The gentle voice again replied: To show the world that anybody can make a difference and change the world. I remember thinking to myself: I can’t even go the bathroom by myself how in the hell does he expect me to change the worldand then as if on cue I had a flashback to Kendall’s story and what Oprah said to one of her other guest’s once Kendall left the stage: Kendall is proof of what people can do from their hospital beds even – Kendall had just undergone a liver transplant and she asked her visitors to ‘adopt’ an orphan instead of bringing her flowers and candy. Watching that show and hearing Kendall’s story taught me that to change your reality all you have to do is shift your perception and that is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

A few months later I tried to raise $1 000 for a well -known organization called UNICEF - long story short I only raised $5 for the most part because I was naive an didn’t know what the hell I was doing. However, that experience did teach me what not to do and on March 5th 2010 I started my Clean Water for All Campaign. The objectives of the campaign are as follows:

  • To raise $6 500 for The Water Project, Inc – an organization that provides clean water to communities all over the world who suffer needlessly without it – by March 5th 2012 and build a well somewhere in the world.
  • To highlight the plight of those who don’t have easy access to clean water.
  • To prove to the world that anybody can make a difference and change the world – even me: a twenty-year-old girl in a wheelchair.

Log onto, make a contribution to my Clean Water for All Campaign and be the change you want to see. I’ve raised $3 855.85 so far :)

And I hope you have a watery day, with outflows of one kind or another.

Hope you find it within you to support Nisha's campaign. She is spiky, ambitious and a change agent!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

[Helen Keller Mythbusting Blogswarm] "Where do I live again?" Orientation

Some time ago I discussed with a fellow blogger about Accessibility and Universal Design.

This happens to be a big focus on the Second Life Helen Keller Mythbusting Day, from which it has sprung. Last week (the 11th June 2010) Anna of FWD/Feminists with Disabilities thought that a blogswarm might be the way to go.

The American Foundation for the Blind's Helen Selsdon wrote about her visit to Helen Keller's first home, Ivy Green.

Shortly after Anne Sullivan became Helen Keller's instruction, she felt it instructive to do some mythbusting, as we would now call it.

When she and Helen moved into the first house, she created an environment which was focused on learning: both academic and social.

On the 11th March 1887, Sullivan wrote a letter to Sophia Hopkins, her own mentor and housemother at Perkins.

Sullivan would say later: "Crocheting and sewing are arts of the devil".

Here is the section of the letter describing Sullivan's decision - in consultation with Kate Keller - and its consequences:

"I had a good, frank talk with Mrs. Keller, and explained to her how difficult it was going to be to do anything with Helen under the existing circumstances. I told her that in my opinion the child ought to be separated from the family for a few weeks at least–that she must learn to depend on and obey me before I could make any headway. After a long time Mrs. Keller said that she would think the matter over and see what Captain Keller thought of sending Helen away with me. Captain Keller fell in with the scheme most readily and suggested that the little garden-house at the "old place" be got ready for us. He said that Helen might recognize the place, as she had often been there; but she would have no idea of her surroundings, and they could come every day to see that all was going well, with the understanding, of course, that she was to know nothing of their visits. I hurried the preparations for our departure as much as possible, and here we are.

The little house is a genuine bit of paradise. It consists of one large square room with a great fireplace, a spacious bay-window, and a small room where our servant, a little negro boy, sleeps. There is a piazza in front, covered with vines that grow so luxuriantly that you have to part them to see the garden beyond. Our meals are brought from the house, and we usually eat on the piazza. The little negro boy takes care of the fire when we need one; so I can give my whole attention to Helen. " (Sullivan 1887)
The new arrangement would seem to have satisified both Keller and Sullivan's needs. It was their first experience of living together as teacher and student, and the first time Keller was separated from her family.

There are probably a lot of myths about this. The way I was introduced to it was some time back in 1989, when I first read Margaret Davidson's HELEN KELLER'S TEACHER. There are reconstructed conversations (I don't know how accurate they are or were, or how far they were constructed to tell the story to the readers) in which Helen is referred to as a "tin god".

The myth this may or may not be alluded to is that people with disabilities might make their families into slaves: something particularly relevant given Keller's Southern childhood. The "negro boy" is Percy, and he, like Martha Washington, was one of Keller's acquaintances.

Joseph P Lash (HELEN AND TEACHER: 1980) said: "It is doubtful how aware Helen was at the time [the mid-1880s, some years before Sullivan came] of these clashes.

One big Helen Keller myth I would like to deal with is the nature and extent of her wildness and how much that may or may not have been tempered by language and communication.

Even John Macy fell for it, when he said Keller was "the lucky victim, fortunately, of the good phrase". And he himself a writer. Many of his conclusions post-hoc in regard to Keller's style in general...

As a journalist and activist, Keller made the written word her home. After she went to Radcliffe College, and while she was writing her autobiography, she worked from home, whether that was Wrentham in New York; Forest Hills several years later; and her last home Arcan Ridge. Arcan Ridge was burnt down, and that was a loss to the archives.

Equally as structured as the indoors was the outdoors. There were, for instance, walks made by smell - through the flowers - and there were many statues to enjoy.

One of the big myths - and a feature of many jokes - is the one about moving the furniture, and Keller would not know where she was.

At the start of 2010, I finally read a book I had wanted to read for a very long time (since I discovered it in December 1997): Deaf-Blind Infants and Children: a developmental guide.

There are several books about independence, and also there are blogs. One is Pipecleaner Dreams. Ashley, a woman in her mid-teens, contributes a great deal to her household. She first became well-known for her pipecleaner creations. Over the years, her mother has done a great deal to make the house accessible to all its members. Another blog I have read is A Place among the Stones, the writing of a Dutch woman who is deaf-blind.

One of the most interesting points of Keller's life was also in her teens. When I read Lash's biography for the first time in 1995, many of her diaries struck out, especially in the chapter My Teacher, My Self and the ones afterwards.

Lash talks about how she melded with her times - which was the end of the Victorian era (1837-1901).

Someone said and I paraphrase: "She is just 16, and this is a sweet time in her life. Now is not the time to push her into serious academic work..."

Keller's social conscience is one of the features of her life, and was very active.

Coverage of it through the years has created various mythic imports.

For instance, that she was pushed into it by Sullivan or Macy.

It is probably as important to talk about the failures as much as the successes.

In the 1890s, Ida Chamberlain suggested to Keller that they and several of her benefactors create a school for the deaf-blind and train people as much as Annie Sullivan was trained, with similar techniques.

This may or may not have been encouraged by Anagnos, who had an ambigious position in Keller and Sullivan's lives. Again, HELEN AND TEACHER has some information. The second chapter, in particular, is titled BOSTON, PERKINS AND SAMUEL GRIDLEY HOWE. Anagnos' early life and motivations are described, personally and professionally.

One important thing that Howe did and Anagnos continued was to try to make books accessible to the blind.

Some fifty years later, when Miguel tried to make talking books, Keller opposed it. Some people think that was because she could not enjoy them herself without assistance.

Many times while Keller was studying and before she became famous, she would have trouble trying to get important texts, especially the ones with mathematics and science, and other not very common books.

A Keller house would often be a library.

One of her poems explicitly talks about the built environment. "Song of the Stone Wall" is an experimental poem which combines influences from literature and legend with her observations. It is an emotionally moving poem.

Macy said: "The greater the medium the greater the writing".

One of my favourite stories of Keller reading is probably the one about water.

One of the books she really loved when she was coming into her teenage years was Frances Hodgson Burnett's LITTLE LORD FAUNTERLOY, which I am reading just now.

By the time of MIDSTREAM, Keller was a traveller. Some of the trips I remember reading about were to Japan, Australia, South Africa and Israel. In South Africa it was said, "You have aroused the conscience of many".

One instance in which Keller's conscience was aroused was when some Israeli people wanted to make a special village.

The issues of separatism versus inclusion are widely argued today.

In Keller's last years - well into her 80s - she wanted to have fun. Over time, her household companions had changed. One of them was Katherine Corbally, who talked about how Keller liked hotdogs.

A biographical friend was Nella Braddy Henney. Many of her observations were reported in The Dupe of Words, the HELEN AND TEACHER chapter which perhaps has had a lot of impact on my thinking. It covers issues which were brought up in discussion of THE WORLD I LIVE IN (I have read one extract of that book, and it is THE SEEING HAND), of how Keller described her world, especially concepts like "horse" and "pink".

Several other books talked about this too, especially the ones by Thomas Cutsforth and Pierre Villey-Desmerets.

One of the first books which did some myth-busting was probably Selma Fraiberg's INSIGHTS FROM THE BLIND.

One of the basic concepts of home is having a place and a space which is yours, and which you are able to share with others.

Home can be on the margins or the centre of a life.