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@jrcornel ·
The Perfect Storm (Part II)

Continuation from Part I...

In all of the excitement that just had taken place, we hadn't noticed exactly how close that storm was getting to us. My first thought was that we need to get out of here, and fast. It was already cold enough without factoring in a winter storm rolling in. 

My dad, in all his wisdom, had other ideas though. When he looked up and saw the storm quickly approaching right about the same time the sun was started to set he said, "you know boys, this storm might be the best thing that could have happened to us today. It might send whatever geese there are to the west of us our way just before it hits, and you never know they may be a little disoriented from the storm and fly closer to the ground than they normally would."

My brother and I looked at each other thinking, "are you kidding me?! We haven't seen a single goose all day and now this guy wants to stay out here in what could be a blizzard because that will magically make the geese appear?! This guy has lost his mind..."

Instead of thinking about all the geese that could be coming our way from this storm I started bundling up even more and finding every blanket and bit of clothing I could muster up to prepare for what was to come. It was already cold but it was about to get a whole lot colder...

Just then, out of no where I heard what sounded like a honk... not a car horn but something else... If you have ever heard the honking sound that Canadian geese make you will know what I am talking about. Once you have heard it, you can't mistake it. There it was again. My dad quickly told us to be quiet as he must have heard it as well. There it was again. It was coming from the same direction as the storm that was quickly approaching. 

The honking started to get louder and more pronounced. By this time we were sure they were geese, but we couldn't see them anywhere. It was getting close to white out conditions as the storm was almost directly upon us, so visibility was limited to only about 10 or 20 feet. We jumped out of the goose blind and ran around on the bank of the river trying to see where these honking sounds were coming from. There were just getting louder and louder but still no sign of the geese. 

Suddenly, out of no where, a flock of geese appeared out of the fog and snow just feet from all of us. They were so close I could have hit them with a snowball. My dad had been right, the snow storm had completely disoriented them and they couldn't really see where they were going. They emerged from the storm right in front of us standing on the river bank. The geese immediately realized their mistake and tried to change course, but it was too late.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Shots rang out everywhere. I was so excited that my first couple shots were not even aimed at any particular goose but more just at the entire flock that was merely feet away from me. Geese started dropping out of the sky left and right. One of them nearly landed on me that my brother had shot. 

Bang! Bang! Bang!

I was running out of ammo as I just kept shooting and new geese just kept appearing out of the fog literally only feet in front of me. I was having the time of my life, laughing as I couldn't believe this was happening. I had never seen anything like this before, heck I had never even heard of anything like this before. I had goose hunted several times in my life and only gotten 2 in my entire life. 

It was so wild and frantic that I couldn't load my gun fast enough, the geese just kept on coming! The dog was running around frantically trying to pick up all the geese we had shot. Before I knew it I had shot all the ammo I had on me as well as the box of ammo I had set in front of me. So I started throwing empty bullet shells at the remaining geese that were flying over me, almost close enough to touch. 

All I could hear around me were the sounds of gun shots and my family members shouting in excitement as they were having the time of their lives as well. All in all, we shot 20 geese that we were able to find and retrieve. Which it turns out was a good thing we ran out of shells because the limit was 5 geese per person and there was only 4 of us, so we were limited out at 20 geese.

We quickly packed up our stuff and got the heck out of there as the blizzard started really bearing it's fangs. We enjoyed a nice goose dinner that night and then goose jerky for the many weeks to come. All of that activity took place in a span of 5 minutes or less. So after spending 12 hours in the blistering cold, 5 minutes of unbelievable excitement made for the greatest hunting experience of my life and one I will not soon forget.

I'm not sure how m father knew, but it had turned out that he had been exactly right. He knew that storm coming in would be a blessing in disguise. He knew that all the conditions were merging and coming together at the exact right time to create what we now refer to as, "The Perfect Storm".

I hope you have enjoyed reading my story. It was one of my favorite memories of hunting with my father and brother. 

Live well my friends!

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Follow: @jrcornel

*A portion of the proceeds from my posts will be donated to fund an outreach program promoting  

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@shenanigator ·
My Never-Ending Fight Against Thieves - Part 1

Roll the clock back about nine months ago. We were on vacation in Vegas at the time, and about to wrap up our trip. I got an email from Andrew Lee, the CEO of the San Franciso-based Bitcoin startup, He asked me to call him when I got the chance because he had something important to talk to me about. Not wanting to interrupt our vacation, I called him the following day after getting home.

They did what?!?

During our call the next day, he asked me: You didn't call me yesterday, did you?
Me: No, I did not.
Him: Okay, I didn't think so. I got a call from your verified number; the number you're calling me from now. The guy was pretending to be you and asking me to turn off your two-factor authentication (2FA). I didn't remember you having a thick accent, and he couldn't recall our previous conversation, so I kept the 2FA on.
Me: *Um, what the hell? How does someone call you from MY phone number?

I then went to my service provider, T-mobile, to figure out how someone was calling people from my phone number. While I never did figure it out, it turns out they had hacked into my T-mobile account and set up call forwarding. What was strange was that it was selectively forwarding calls and texts. Some of the communication would come to my phone, but others would get forwarded. Speaking to one of T-mobile's security specialists he told me he had no idea how this was happening. How reassuring.

Why would someone want access to your phone number?

If someone gets access to your phone number, it makes things a lot easier for them when they're trying to steal your identity, Bitcoin, Paypal funds, or whatever else they may be trying to plunder. When calling into many companies' service departments, you are required to go through much less security if you're calling from the phone number you have on file with them. Additionally, if you have 2FA set up on your accounts, having control of your phone number allows the thief to bypass many of those 2FAs.

Within the next couple days, 3 of my email accounts got hacked, my Facebook got hacked, my PayPal account, Authy, bank account, and about a dozen other accounts that I'm aware of.

The first order of business was to secure my email account. If someone has access to your email, that person can get into almost any other account by changing the password because password-reset links get sent to your email.

I went on to change my email passwords then set up 2FA on those accounts. Next, I had to take care of my cellular account.

Securing my T-mobile account

One of the security questions T-mobile would ask when you call in is your billing address. So I changed the billing address on my account. Additionally, to add an extra layer of security, I added a password that you'd have to know if calling T-mobile to access my account (this is how they were able to get into my account...the first time).

Authy hacked

Authy is a popular 2FA service. If using the service, when logging onto a website, you'll have to enter your username, password, and a 6 or 7 digit code from the Authy app. This code changes every 15 or 30 seconds.

Authy's entire security model is based on the user having sole control of their phone and phone number. I used it for both my Purse and Coinbase accounts, so when it got hacked, it was a big concern. Luckily, there was no damage done by the time I found out about the hack. Due to their security model, I have since stopped using their service.

Finally, they're leaving me alone!

After well over 100 password changes, many phone calls, and countless emails, it seemed as if they had stopped trying to get into my accounts. This was such a stressful time and was thrilled that I could finally relax.

My relief wouldn't last long...

all images are either my own or taken from pexels and require no attribution

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· @marconah ·
Enjoying the beauty of Goa Japan

Aceh became known as porch mecca country, in Aceh there are several attractions that are not less interesting than other areas, one of which GOA JAPAN, Japan Goa is peningalan past. When you visit Aceh do not forget to stop here, Goa Japan offers the charm that is so beautiful
In Goa there are also Japanese garden nging jioh or another name for a garden view far, in this park we could see the sea is so vast, birds flying over into a beautiful sight, the picture above shows the scenery on purpose.

Thanks for that've seen and read

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· @generikat ·
Mexico Honeymoon: 17 Years After The Fact

A Trip Adorned With Resplendent Gratitude

I've been married almost 18 years. The fact that my marriage has almost attained adulthood is of great amusement to me. The story of my connubial bliss is rife with drama, as an entire community was against the union. You see, my husband is 18 years older than I am. Now days this age gap doesn't seem to vex people too much (I think this might have something to do with the fact that I look early twenties in age rather than 12, but who knows). The funny thing about my story is that I had a full ride college scholarship waiting for me the fall after graduating high school, no boyfriend, and was ready to start my life with a minimum of a decade of schooling to fulfill my dream of being a virologist or epidemiologist. Then I met Tom. We never really paid much attention to each other, and wouldn't have gotten together had my parents not accused me of dating him. We thought that dating would be a good idea after we talked and laughed about the gossip that was spreading about us throughout our valley. I had no interest in being married at that point in my life, neither did he, but sometimes you just meet your person. A couple of months later we exchanged vows at the county courthouse, me clad in purple bell-bottoms and one of my friend's grandmother's polyester shirt (pre and post-high school, generikat had style).

The only congratulations that I got was a phone call that was really a one-sided tongue lashing about how I could annul my freshly minted marriage. People tried to run us off of the road. I was harassed constantly, always in some state of apparent pregnancy, and accused of being on drugs. Good times. One great lesson that I learned from that time is that if a person is very compliant with the demands of others all of the time, they should expect a violent reaction when they finally decide to do something that they want to do, especially if it is contrary to what the collective desires for their future.

That said, here I am happily married almost two decades later. Our elopement was anything but traditional. No reception, no gowns and tuxedos, no presents, no congratulations. I honestly wouldn't trade the experience as it taught me the true value of forgiveness, and that it's okay to follow through with your decisions, even if the world is against you. The excess trappings of a lot of weddings is not really my thing, but a honeymoon would have been nice, and we finally got one this last September.

My husband is a disabled veteran, and we are able to purchase vacations through a special military vacation site. They ended up giving us a free resort stay in Mexico, so off to Nuevo Vallarta we went. As we were always moving when I was a child; I have traveled a lot, but I had never went anywhere for the sole purpose of relaxing. It was rough, but I totally adapted to being catered too. Although, I will always cherish the looks that my behavior ellicited on our maid's face. I know that woman thought I was bananas because I kept the room so clean and also tipped her constantly. I loved that lady.

The resort where we stayed was definitely not an immersion experience culturally-wise, for you are completely isolated from the surrounding community. We were fine with that this trip, for a complete tropical sabbatical was what we were looking for. A pleasant surprise was that the resort was full of middle class Mexican families taking their vacations as well, and most of them embraced us as locals. Until we opened out mouths. I will always remember the group of elderly ladies that helped me practice my Spanish in the elevator. Everyone wanted me to help them practice their English when they discovered my lack of Spanish skills, I was happy to oblige. Plus, it gave me a goal for when I return, I plan to be able to speak some proper Idahoan-accented, conversational Spanish. I have no ego when it comes to looking like a complete idiot in the linguistic department; I just want to show the folks that I care enough to try!

One of my favorite things about where we stayed was the huge beach. I'm a bit of a rambler, so every morning I would slip out and walk a few miles. While out I would observe some of the greatest things. People raked the beach each morning. There were your fitness folks, jogging with their headphones firmly ensconced in their ears. My husband's spirit animal, the pelican, was always present coasting over the surf with that perpetual annoyed look on his beak. The resort's employees were busily readying themselves for the day with all manner of tasks, always pausing to say Hola when I walked by. I was secretly amused by this as they were so professional and sharp looking in their uniforms and I was always wearing baggy soccer shorts and some derelict tank top. I kind of wanted to wear a greasy burlap sack just to see if their reaction would be the same, and I imagine it would be, they were some of the most devoted employees I have ever witnessed.

Even though I took to relaxation like a pro, it was hard for me to be served by others. I always wanted to help out the staff in any way that I could. Tom was constantly laughing at me and my being-served awkwardness. It honestly blew my mind that I could pick up the phone and have lobster brought to my room. It kind of made me uncomfortable that I could go to a world class patisserie, select all manner of amazing nibbles, and just sign for it. I also probably ate far too much Nutella frozen yogurt.

My favorite thing about the whole trip was to just lie under a palapa in a chair next to my husband, reading a book, and sipping an iced tea with far too much lime juice in it. Fresh lime juice is the greatest thing ever! I put lime juice on everything, even my eggs.

There was also a really fun game of beach volleyball that I joined in, and I was the only person that didn't speak Spanish. The great equalizer was that I was the only person on the court that actually knew how to play volleyball, a fact that the resort employee leading the game eagerly latched upon. In between catching my breath due to dissolving into constant giggles from playing a game with a bunch of obvious soccer players, I actually had an amazing time. I am pretty sure that half the participants were miffed by the lack of foot to ball action.
I may not speak the language, but I know how to play the game! Sneaky picture taking husband obviously won this round.

The only negative in my opinion was the push when you arrive to sell you a timeshare. I just utilized my librarian skill set when it came to this inconvenience, for I am really good at saying no. The person trying to get us to attend a short breakfast presentation eventually got the idea, for I could care less if something is a really good deal. I mean, I like a bargain just as much as the next person, but I don't buy something unless it is a need. Timeshares do not fit in the need category of my budget.

Other than some mild harassment on that first day, we were treated like royalty. Every need that we had was met, and we were left completely alone to bask in that tropical paradise in peace. I'm sure that there were some clubs to go to, entertainment to experience, and things to look at that I missed. In all honesty though, I had exactly what I wanted: a magnificent setting, an outstanding room (hello patio pool!), wonderful food, and most of all, the person that I like best to share it all with.
Iguanas of all sizes inhabited the resort to our delight. One of my favorite moments of the trip was when a lady from Texas discovered the 3 footer that had been lounging under her chair for a good half an hour. That squeal of *BOY HOWDY** still brings a smile to my face*
We affectionately referred to this piece of beach art as Tom's house.

The Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta

As always the photos used in this post were either taken on my husband's sand flecked or my lime juice covered iPhone.

Written with StackEdit.

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· @therealpaul · (edited)
Out of the Valley With a Thundering Clatter

The serpent, Ralpheus. The scalawag! He'd crawled-- nay, he'd slithered up under the diesel engine, allowing that he had the knowledge and ability to fix my crippled speedometer. The needle was dancing-- nay, the punished gauge had been twitching in distress for miles, and many more longer miles waited ahead for me on that jewel of a day. 

The old blistering sun was filling up the valley now, it was time to climb out of the furnace-- it was past time, it was. The trouble: the serpent Ralpheus lay under the vessel, plotting my demise, a wicked length of coldness, coiled under the engine compartment, rattling on both ends; rattling a wrench around the components of the motor, and rattling a shivering tail in the sun on the baked asphalt where the discreet vessel had come to rest. Eager, is what he was. Ralpheus was eager to take a wrench to the vessel before my journey, and he did insist on it. 

The scalawag! The dark creature Ralpheus had planned my end-- twenty-five minutes had passed, or was it an hour? I knew not, and the horrid rattling had stopped now. A fierce sun, the very lord of that valley, whisper'd in the still air, and reminded me of my mortality as I listened for the sound of the wrench, the Wrench of Ralpheus, the tool that was sure to end me. 

Had the grisly snake died under there? Nay, this snake wouldn't die in it's natural habitat-- sabotaging the merriment of my travels-- this dangerous mischief was the very thing that the reptilian Ralpheus lived for at all, with the wicked poppy flower being his fuel and only friend. Ralpheus was had by that black tar, he was. The Good Pirate Bart had once gleaned this data, and carefully then he did warn me, keenly teaching me the ways of this serpent, studying particularly this low, venomous kind that slithered so deeply among the deadly flowers; ralpheus venomous

There was movement there was-- the tail had moved, if only a little. Was it a post-mortem twitch? Again, the poppies had re-animated the corpse of the conniving Ralpheus-- he was alive, and from eons of slithering he was sure of how to stay alive, while I, the mere child, could only guess at my own fate.  

 Three days earlier, The Good Pirate Bart had poked five hundred heavy coins into my kit, and had begged I use them if the slightest ill wind turned my vessel, but alas! There in the sun, and before I could ponder it further, that very ill wind Ralpheus then crept from under the same vessel, and did peer at me with certain venom. The curious pupils told more than he'd intended; that he would lure The Good Pirate Bart into a trap, and that I and my distressed vessel was to be the bait.  

 "I've fixed the damaged cable" he lied, but then he hissed that I should stay even longer in the vibrant shimmer of the day-- likely a bad idea, I did presume. No, the sun was screaming now, if I were to wait any longer, I'd never leave, much less reach that far dead man's chest that protruded from the wide desert floor above this valley, the harbor'd island that I'd marked as my destination before sunset. Verily, I was no match for the serpentine maneuvers of the diabolical Ralpheus, and the sooner I was launched, the better.  

 Leaving the hissing Ralpheus in the lot, I noticed right away that the speedometer was worse than before-- now it would only lay flat, nary a twitch, but there was no stopping now. The city was in the mirrors and I began to climb out, and finally did calm myself, taking the vessel along at a good clip to make the hill.

 Upwards I plunged, and the diesel engine did churn, but not half-the-way out of the valley, an ominous gurgle began to report from it, and I eyed the temperature gauge with some concern. The air upon the glass outside was already getting cooler, and the motionless needle agreed, but the shock for my eye-- the oil pressure gauge now lay flat like my speedometer needle, and the punished engine had begun a thunderous clatter. 

Upwards, there was no other choice. Five more minutes before the engine ceased, or two? I knew not, but an exit appeared, sloping downward slightly, and I found then that I could stop torturing the vessel's motor, at least for a moment. Through the evergreens ahead, a filling station appeared, and with much relief, I turned off the key and coasted into a shaded bay.  

 Below the vessel, the ticking engine gave up the last of it's oil onto the cement slab with a sad drizzle indeed. Leading to the craft was the trail of oil which had gushed out after I'd cut the engine-- and then a ribbon-- a thinner trail of oil leading to me, and away down into the shadowed valley from which I'd just left.

 The scalawag! The serpent. Now I did crawl under the vessel myself, where Ralpheus had been a'tampering, and there was the speedometer cable, flapping in the breeze, and worse-- the very plug which had held the motor oil in the massive engine was missing. Gone, it was-- loosened or yank'd from the engine by the cruel hand of Ralpheus, that cunning, coal-hearted creature.

 Five cans of oil I did purchase at the station, and plugging the hole in the motor with a wad of paper towels, I started the poor craft again. There was a sad rattle at first, sure-- but then it gurgled like any diesel would, and having located a parts store nearby, I there purchased a new oil-pan plug. 

Once installed, I was again on the highway plunging upwards, now with only four thousand feet to go, and the same sun that had screamed in the valley now sang with the high evergreens. A quick look in the mirror found no oil trail, no cold serpents, and no trouble. My luck! Was it the lizard hat upon my lucky skull? The Good Pirate Bart would surely say, 'plain as the tall blowing sky', he'd allow-- it was the charmed hat that had foiled the wickedness of Ralpheus.  

 The demon! With bad intent and worse behavior, Ralpheus would sink his own vessel in this wilderness of dangerous winds. Here was a sorcerer who would sacrifice a child, and I was that child. What had saved me? I knew not, but perched in my sunny wheelhouse, day spent, I knew I wouldn't be able to reach my targeted island before sunset, that much was sure now. Verily, I'd dodged some high-grade evil, and evil was not going to be happy about it. 


thanks for reading  

all images by me

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· @bontonstory · (edited)
Snow, Snow, Snow / Life Photography / Voice Greeting

I feel like it's winter now.

It wasn't easy to get out all this week because it was too cold enough to freeze. It looked like it's going to snow, but it was just too cold. Finally, it snowed in large flakes. I wanted to leave a greeting for steemit with a snow news.

Everything was white and light gray without vivid colors. I love that feeling when it snows. Snow, Snow, Snow...

It was a day I visited my friend's office. I had to wait until seven o'clock. I was drowsing. The snow was a good news. While I was waiting my friend to finish working, I went out to walk through the falling snow. The snow didn't stop until dawn.


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Researching a story...

How far do you go to do your research?

Google? Wiki? BBC News? CNN or Fox News? (Yeah, ok I put those in to see if you were paying attention...)

So far, I haven't really had to do much actual, factual research because I write fiction - I make just about everything up.

I research historical fact because I like to weave my stories into historical events. The War of the Roses, Jack The Ripper, The Battle of Blore Heath, they were all intensively researched. I have walked battlefields on a few occasions - Blore Heath has stuck in my mind since and I dare say I'll return to that one.

@s0u1 took me to Scotland to Bannockburn for my birthday and I thoroughly fan-girled at the birthday presents he bought me!

A hog-faced helmet, replica of Henry 8th's battle helm and a Hand and a Half 'Bastard' sword - BEST. BIRTHDAY. PRESENTS. EVER!

I suppose it's because I adore history.

I digress!

Now I have an idea for a story that's current. It has a lot of background and more detail than I'm used to.

Do I go at it like a bull at a gate and just write?

Do I keep with popular myth and legend and throw random interesting snippets of my imagination in there for added colour, or do I immerse myself in research - library, wiki, google, books, papers, documents?

I suppose you'll just have to wait and see...

No, I'm not telling you what the story is about. I'll keep you guessing... I may not finish it today. I may not even finish it this week...

AND, I may not even tell you whether it's part-fact, part-fiction...

You see, I'm a little bit evil like that.

I can give you just enough to get you interested and then leave you hanging...

Was that a clue?... Who knows...

Keep watching.

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· @alienbutt ·
The Switch Foundation, where the mind is immortal.

In a future world the elite of humanity live in isolation from the rest of the world, living in a luxury unimaginable to the masses. There is no social ladder to climb, you are born elite or you struggle in a world stripped of it's wealth.

 photo IMG_0235_zpsylcxmgqy.jpg

Only The Switch Foundation has any dealings with the larger world, an educational charity that provides full scholarships to hundred of children every year. The chosen children are taken to study at large academies and will be set up for a life far beyond anything their parents could give them.

What isn't known by the masses is how those children are chosen and what they are really being chosen for.

The academies take in children from the age of eight and health and fitness plays an equal role to education. The children, both male and female are moulded to become perfect human specimens. Chosen for their looks and health rather than their brains, Switch academies produce hundreds of perfect eighteen year olds every year for their elite clients.

As the elite people of the world withdrew from the wider society taking the bulk of the worlds wealth with them the one thing they found that money couldn't buy and science couldn't provide was a way to stop themselves growing old. Medical science couldn't prevent every disease or repair fully an injured body.

What The Switch Foundation did discover was how to map and transfer the human mind, everything from emotions to memory could be uploaded from the mind onto a computer. Everything that made that person who they were could be stored away so the elite would never truely die.
It was then that The Switch Foundation expanded it's charitable academies to produce more perfect subjects. If you could upload a persons mind into a computer then you could download it again to a new, younger, perfect body. With hundreds of pefect bodies produced each year by the academies the elites could trade in their bodies as they wished and at a price set by Switch.

The Switch Foundation, where the mind is immortal.

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· @karenmckersie ·
Heres A List Of 25 Passwords TO NEVER USE !

📵 In this day and age it is now more important then ever to have a strong password ! We already know just how easy it is for hackers to get at your information, so dont make it any easier for them by useing a simple password ! which im sure many if not most of you do , that are reading this post right now !
specops Software

📵 Now as I was laying here in bed blogging away on my tablet and reading some news in flipboard , before falling asleep for the day ( Nightshift Worker ) , I came across this great article I wanted to share , of the 25 worst passwords you could ever use ! And heres a link if you want more information on this ! :

📵 This is a list which is released yearly by Slash Data ! To help protect people in todays digital age .

1 ) And the worst password used from more then 5 million leaked over 2016 is ??? !!!! 1,2,3,4,5,6 Surprise Surprise ! Lol ! 😂

2) And the second worst is !!!???? password ! Lol !😂

3) 12345

4) 12345678

5) Football

6 ) qwerty

7) 1234567890

8) 1234567

9) princess

10) 1234

11) login

12) welcome

13) solo

14) abc123

15) admin

16) 121212

17) flower

18) passwOrd

19) dragon

20) sunshine

21) master

22) hottie

23) lovme

24) zac1zac1

25) password1
DegiCert blog

📵 So there you have it ! And im guessing some of you are on this list ! Lol ! And if you are I sugest you change you password ! The crooks are onto you, and dont say I didnt warn you ! And lets not forget useing the same password on multiple devices ! Alot of these are the same year after year , as we are creatures of habit and tend to think its never going to happen to you untill it does ! Now your screwed ! Steem on and good luck ! 👍😊
Zoho Blog

📵Please feel free to follow me if you like ! And if you leave a comment I will follow you back as soon I check my blog !

⤴🆙⤴ All my posts are 100% Steem Powered Up into my Retirement / Pension Fund Wallet ! Thanks for the support ! ⤴🆙⤴

Thanks for my Banner @son-of-satire ! My Badges @elyaque ! And my Signature by @merej99 !💙

Thank you for following my blog

All comments are greatly appreciated!
Thank you in advance for your upvotes.
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· @peskov ·
Wrangel Island (featuring Vasily Peskov as author)

To begin with, General Wrangel of ill-fame is in no way connected with Wrangel Island, which was named after the Russian explorer Ferdinand Wrangel. Early in the 19th century the Russian government appointed twenty-four-year-old Lieutenant Wrangel head of an expedition whose aim was to check the information that there was land to the north of the Chukotka Peninsula. For four consecutive years Wrangel's expedition set out across the ice fields only to return again and again, for the bitter Arctic cold and the hummocky ice made the going impossible for both men and dogs. Still, Wrangel went back to St. Petersburg convinced that there was land to the north. Indirectly, from Chukchi legends and stories the Chukchi people told him, he was able to predict its exact location.

For many years after no ships could reach the forbidding area. Then, in 1867, an American whaler, T. Long, sailed within thirty-five kilometers of an island whose location coincided with that predicted by the Russian lieutenant. Long considered it only just to name the island after Wrangel.

Sergei Kiznertsov, an 18-year-old veteran islander, is a reindeer breeder.

Your first step upon the crunching pebbles or soft grass of an unknown land is always momentous. Six huge walruses flopping into the water from an ice floe were our welcoming committee at Wrangel Island. Two snowy owls perched on the high rocks watched unblinkingly us as we disembarked. A dull brown expanse sloped upwards from the water and then skyrocketed into purple and dazzlingly blue cliffs. The mountain range was belted by a smoky strip of fog. The stillness was overwhelming. Suddenly, we saw a man running towards us and from this great distance could hear the rocks clattering under his feet.

A cold, forbidding island.

The entire island is made of rock. There are round boulders polished by the sea and flat slabs of dun-colored rock that resemble shale. Certainly they made the early explorers exclaim that the island contained tremendous deposits of coal. Higher up in the mountains the rocks appear as gray, purple or brick-red monoliths. On a clear day the colors, intensified by the sun, impart a truly majestic, royal grandeur to the mountains.

What is life like here? There is hardly a trace of human activity save the tracks of a land rover leading off in various directions and a gallery in one of the mountains where a group of Americans mined rock crystal in times past.

In the mountainous interior of the island you feel you are on some distant planet, for all that meets the eye here are the hills of rock, the cliffs and dead water in the half-dry streams. There are no fish, no bugs or other creatures in these streams fed by meltwater. Nothing in the landscape but the blue sky and the white owl on the knoll remind you that this is your own planet Earth, after all. I am sure that everyone who has been here has experienced this uneasiness. Even the name places on the map of the island reflect the anxiety of the first explorers: Treachery Bay, Doubtful Harbor, Unknown River, Sudden River, Point Beasts of Prey, Misty Mountain and Two-Headed Mountain.

Our land rover splashed through pools of clear water and clambered over great fields of rocks. Suddenly the driver stopped and jumped down. He pulled a curved log from the water. It was a cracked and yellowed mammoth tusk! However, I did not notice a trace of surprise on the faces of my fellow travellers and was told such finds are not unusual on the island.

When flying over the Arctic Ocean all you see is ice. But there is life here. You may spot a polar bear or rookery, where seals congregate on an ice floe like this.

This feeling of deserted wasteland is dispelled as soon as one descends to the foothills and the plain. A skinny, mottled polar fox watched intently as we jounced across a rocky ford. Some birds were flying low over the tundra. A bumblebee zoomed in through the open window. When we stopped by a tiny stream to stretch our legs I became convinced that life here was a party for bumblebees: the ground was covered with a veritable blanket of flowers. They were all very small, but there was such a great variety of blue, red, orange and purple blossoms. The many mosses and lichens were just as varied. Short-stemmed poppies and reddish clumps of wild sorrel were sprinkled about. There were low willow thickets growing along the banks of the stream, so low that at first I thought it was tall grass.

We drove back to the beach and headed towards a lone light. Two bearded botanists from Leningrad were sitting by a campfire. They had camped here in a tent for eight weeks, collecting specimens for their herbarium. I jotted down the following: "There are 200 varieties of flowers on the island and 100 other types of vegetation." This is really amazing if we recall that there is still frost here in summer and no soil as we know it, nothing but rocks.

As we bid the botanists farewell we mentioned the white patches on the mountain. "Is that snow?" I asked.

"No, geese."

We took off our fur hats to hear the birds communing softly with each other in the dusk.

This was the time of year when the white geese known hereabouts as Canada geese were getting ready to migrate. We often see migrating birds, but these were just getting ready to fly south. The young birds still had to develop strength in their wings and so the old geese would take the flocks up on frequent trial flights along the coast. Sometimes they would come down to rest. On one such occasion we set out picture-hunting. I hid in a dell while the land rover circled. The flock took to the air. I was dazed by the flapping avalanche of snow-white wings edged with black.

Thousands of birds spend the summer on Wrangel Island. Geese are quite helpless during the nesting period and especially when they are moulting. At this time they can be herded into enclosures with a twig, much like sheep. This is exactly how they are caught for zoos or for food. People on this distant island who have so little of life's pleasures find it difficult to resist the temptation. However, the local population is growing steadily, and if there are no strict laws to stop them, the geese will eventually become extinct. There was probably a time when white geese nested all along the northern coastline. Now this distant island, and only because it is unaccessible to man, sustains the flocks. They head for it unerringly, though it is lost in the icy wastes beyond the Arctic Circle. The geese fly over the island to their nesting grounds along a once-established course, over the pass between two mountains. The number of empty cartridges that cover the ground here once again raises the question of the future of these white birds.

While flying in an ice-scouting plane to the north of the Chukotka Peninsula, we spotted a polar bear. The yellowish beast was swimming through the ice floes towards Wrangel Island, which has for centuries served this species as a maternity home. Late in August or in September, having ended their wanderings in the ocean, the females come to the island. After a short period on the island the animal hollows out a chamber in the snow in which to bring forth her young.

In the 1930s the first teams of winterers on Wrangel Island would shoot up to seventy polar bears in a season. Such hunting is practically devoid of risk. Perhaps, to counteract the feeling of having an unfair advantage over the beast, man would look for danger. This is what one of the first winterers recalled :

"Whenever Zvantsev's first shot just wounded a bear and it would head back into its lair, he would lay his gun on the snow, pull out his Colt, cock it and crawl right in behind the crazed and wounded beast. But the female was not only wounded, she was defending her cubs and was therefore twice as vicious. Zvantsev would crawl through the blue gloom of the chamber, Colt in hand. When the animal saw it was trapped it would lunge at him. Then he would fire point-blank. He must have shot a dozen bears that way."

The risk was indeed senseless. Yet, there was so much senseless shooting in the Arctic regions in those days, shooting that involved no risk whatsoever! Polar bears were shot from the decks of passing ships, and more often than not the quarry was left on the snow. The bear had been killed for pleasure and in order that someone might say: "I shot a polar bear." According to the latest count, there are not more than five thousand polar bears left in the Arctic. As before, Wrangel Island serves as one of the main breeding grounds. Naturally, the presence of human beings frightens the animals, yet a primeval instinct draws the pregnant females here each autumn. Hunting polar bears has now been prohibited. At times a game warden might search for a lair in order to pick up a cub for one of the many zoos which clamor for them. I missed the island's game warden by two days. He had flown to Moscow with a cargo of several polar bear cubs, snowy owls, foxes and geese.

Man has not been on Wrangel Island very long. In 1916 it was proclaimed Russian territory. In the early 1920s, taking advantage of the fact that the young Soviet Republic had more important affairs to attend to on the mainland, Canada and, later, the United States, attempted to colonize the island.

A Soviet gunboat which arrived to restore the Soviet rights to the island found a party of trappers here.

The story of the first settlers is very interesting. All during the flight to the Chukotka I was engrossed in Mineyev's book Five Years on Wrangel Island. He had lived on the island for five long years! Three years were spent there according to plan and two more because no ship could break through the ice packs to take the men off the island. Mineyev was in charge of the party of winterers. His account of those dramatic five years is fascinating. I believe he is still alive, for I recall having heard an elderly voice on one of the broadcasts for the Far North and the announcer then saying, "You have just heard a report by the polar explorer Mineyev." I believe that Zvantsev is also alive, the very same one who crawled into the bears' lairs. He was one of Mineyev's party.

A ship can only drop anchor here once a year, in the middle of August.

There are two settlements on the island now, one at Somnitelnaya (Doubtful) Harbor and one at Rodgers Harbor. Ships can always reach the island during the months of navigation, for planes guide them through the ice. Thus, the two hundred inhabitants of Wrangel land are supplied with all the necessities of life. There are Russians, Chukchi, Eskimos and Ossets living here. The island is an important meteorological outpost. However, reindeer-breeding and trapping are the main occupations. There were no reindeer on the island before the first ten animals were brought here by boat from the Chukotka Peninsula after the war. The herd now numbers five thousand head. It is an unusual herd, neither wild nor domesticated. It grazes untended in the valleys until autumn, when the time for slaughtering comes. Then the shepherds set out to search for it. I noticed that these reindeer were twice the size of those on the Chukotka.

"That's because they have good pasturage here and there are no midges. And no wolves. The reindeer have a good life here," an old Chukchi told me.

The island's trappers hunt polar foxes and walrus, which appear near the shores late in autumn. The hunters set out on scouting expeditions every day, steering their tiny walrus-hide boats through the floes.

On the shore, a bit to the south, you may see smoke. This will either be a lone hunter, some shepherds and a reindeer herd or a geologists' campsite. Though you rarely come upon human habitation, people do live here.

Meanwhile, the geese were getting ready to migrate to Canada. One morning it began to snow. This was the signal they had been waiting for. The flocks took to the air. Long lines of birds winged over the shore, flying over the settlement with anxious cries. The geese that had been penned in summer began honking loudly at the sound of the flocks overhead. People came out of the houses and stood bareheaded in the cold, watching silently as the white birds flashed across the snow-flecked sky. In the course of a week the island became deserted. Two steamers in the harbor called to each other in low voices as they unloaded provisions and coal. The long polar night was just around the corner.

Vasily Peskov

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· @johnjgeddes ·
the rose garden of dreams Part 1 of 3

Footfalls echo in the memory,
Down the passage which we did not take,
Towards the door we never opened,
Into the rose garden

—TS Eliot

I watch other people and envy them. Their lives seem safe and predictable. Not mine. I’m always at the center of a storm. Mind you, it’s a storm of my own choosing.

It’s my fault I was very nearly killed in an auto accident—drinking far too much and popping pills—so, I suppose there’s a reason why I long for an ordinary life, just as there’s a reason why I obsess about dead people.

I look at Elias and he’s smirking—of course, he’s a shrink and doesn’t buy half of what I say, especially statements that begin with ‘because’ and end with a contrite look on my face.

“You tend to see yourself as a victim, Leon, but everything that’s happened to you is the result of choices—your choices—Maya included.”

I don’t know why he always keys on Maya. Yes, she’s the storm in my life, and yes, my lifeboat is swamped in a maelstrom, so I guess he figures he’s a lighthouse. But he’s not—he’s not a light to me—more a foghorn continually emitting warning blasts.

And maybe that’s why whenever I see Elias, it rains.

It’s past five when I exit his office and head back to my Rosedale manse—an Art Deco home formerly owned by Jessica Skye.

Jessica was a Thirties’ actress with Garbo looks who haunts me continually—partly because of her huge dark eyes staring at me from her portrait above the mantel—and partly because she inhabits a virtual wing of my house.

I know it sounds crazy but the closest I can get to explain it is to compare her ethereal abode to Wonder Woman’s airship—partly invisible, but real. I access her hideaway through a portal in my basement that outwardly appears to be a wine cellar, but actually is a Thirties’ speak-easy. Behind some swing-out shelves lies a second door that leads to a part of the house that is not of this world.

I still can’t quite wrap my mind around the whole experience but when you live in a Cubist house once owned by a Thirties screen star, I suppose anything is possible. Really. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable.

Besides, Einstein said the Past still exists, around a bend in the river of Time—so, I’m not crazy if I believe it’s true, and I’m not just taking the word of a genius, because I know–I’ve been inside Jessica’s shadowy apartments.

That’s right, I’ve seen the Mobled Queen and she’s haunted me ever since.

In my mind I picture her extant wing of the mansion as a Cunard liner from the Thirties ran aground on a desert island. The ship’s crew and waiters, all in white, wait upon her while she throws elaborate island parties replete with exotic fruit and drinks the color of water. She and Amelia Earhart live on in a perpetual sunny afternoon beyond the ken of the world at large.

I know—I sound insane, but as I stand here in the rain outside my manse, it all seems so clear. Somewhere in time, there is a sunlit garden where beautiful people are whiling away a June afternoon—it’s not something I hallucinated—I’m inner-directed and know what I know. That sunlit garden party is real. I stumbled upon it once, and fully intend to go back and prove it exists.

But just how I’m going to do that, I have no idea.

I eat a light supper sitting in the front room by the light of the fire. It’s basic, if not a Spartan repast—Swiss cheese on rye and a glass of Shiraz.

I know—with my history of alcohol abuse I shouldn’t, but ever since I explored the basement speak-easy and stumbled upon that portal to the past, I’ve needed the occasional drink to calm my tremors.

No, they’re not DT’s—they’re more a distant thunder—a reverberation that pulses inside me every time I remember the dark surprise in Jessica’s eyes.

I can see her still.

Sometimes, I tremble so much, I have to squeeze my fingers tight into a ball and scrunch my eyes closed and try not to see that white petal in a dark sea—Jessica's face in the garden below, staring up at me.

I admit–it challenges belief. A second-floor room in a turret that doesn’t exist in this time or space—I mean, how can that be? But I was there! I know it’s real—as real and palpable as this longing for a woman that’s been dead half a century but nevertheless has managed to ignite a conflagration within me.

The rain has stopped and I wander outside and stand on my front lawn. It’s cool and there’s a slight breeze. I look up at the manse Jessica built—a monolith towering above me—a Cubist house with curving lines, now illumined with the aura of a full moon about to crest the roof line.

It’s romantic standing here beneath the dark oaks, listening to the rustling leaves, and watching the Moon break free of shadows and beckon to me.

A wild delight surges through me. I can sense Jessica near. She’s on the grounds with me and the darkness provides just enough obscurity to soften the stark actuality of everyday and liberate her spirit.

I begin to shiver and have to go in. I force myself to shut the door on my fantasies, but it’s futile—I know I can’t shut her out completely, because nightly, she haunts my dreams.

image credits:-,,
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· @keuudeip ·
Lhokseumawe city; a bride of Malacca Strait in Aceh

I thought, you want to see a city on the coast of Malacca Strait which is situated on the island of Sumatra. Well, here's Lhokseumawe city, a bride of Malacca Strait in Aceh. The city has a long history in the maritime world in the past. Port for export and import has just disappeared in the last decade of the 80s, and its aftermath people rarely know that in this city there once international trading port in the past.

And this is how looks of this city right now viewed from hills that had been a protection for vessels and provider of cool air for the sailors.
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@isteemit · (edited)
The power of storytelling and possible reasons why we like stories.

What is a story? defines a story as a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale. Let's shift our focus to those bold words; interest and amuse. A story without the elements of interest and amusement would be really boring even if they were instructive enough to communicate a message to the hearer or reader.
Interest binds the reader or hearer to the context of the story; not letting their attention deviate from the chronology of events and the characteristics of the character. It helps in empathizing with the situation presented in the story. Amusement keeps the reader or hearer cheerful at the end. It's really interesting how stories can make people cheerful ,sad, surprised, confused or disgusted.

Why are we so fond of stories?

Out of so many reason fishes that we could pull out of a reason pond, a few ones might be of keen interest. Telling stories were one of the most ancient ways of recording historic events. That's how our ancestors must have done it before the inception of well formed written languages for communication. Then, we have evidence of other ways of story-telling/writing as seen on the caves via paintings and drawings.

It is one form of communication we all have grown up with. Religious books are the best examples of stories. We are told stories about the events that supposedly occur and how it all unfolded. Be it a mythology, epic or a hearsay - all tell us a story in some manner.
We must be fond of stories for reasons more than just because we, as humans have senses with which we can perceive the texts or words. May be that's the only reason but looking at other animals with same sense organs, I guess we are the only ones which tell stories - either for survival or for entertainment.

Interesting! So, what exactly is the power of story telling that you mentioned in the title?

Let me tell you a story to explain the power of stories.

Once upon a time, there lived a man who went out on a desert with a futuristic gadget to hide it from his enemies. The gadget could be thought as something very similar to the smartphones of today. And the applications in that smartphone weren't virtual like how we have it in our phones, those applications were real life elements. The element atoms could just be downloaded and played with. The type of gadget we are talking about is Godly. The application when run, would produce tangible, physical response exactly two meters away from where the person was standing in the direction the gadget faced. It had been a hot and tiring day in the desert and he was feeling thirsty. He would have died there but his curiosity about the gadget had him fiddle with it. To relate with today's world, we could say that he download the atom applications. He downloaded one Hydrogen atom and one Oxygen atom. He didn't know what he was doing though. He ran both the applications on the gadget and he was not satisfied with the result. He hadn't selected the quantity of each atom to be downloaded. So, this time he downloaded 1 more atom of Oxygen and 1 more atom of Hydrogen, making it 2 Oxygen atoms and 2 Hydrogen atoms in total. And guess what happened when he ran the application - there was water! He had just created water out of thin air using that gadget. The quantity wasn't enough though. So, he figured out that two molecules of hydrogen react with one molecule of oxygen to form two molecules of water. He quenched his thirst by making water and drinking it.

The message here is that one can put across complex events or mechanisms to make it interesting via stories. Sure, they come with some level of abstraction but the more details you put in your stories, the more interesting and less abstract it becomes. Try it with your children, younger brother or even your students, you'll surely have them listen to you with all ears.


Image source:
cave paintings
Mind Blown
Water application

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@profanarky ·
The Dragon's Blood (Part 89.4)

During which arguments continue...


     Deep within he knew, Trakaan did, perhaps Zorrak could be reasoned with, perhaps a Dragon as well known for his honor as for his fury could be convinced, but this one, this being of darkness could never be reasoned with. In time he would have to kill Karanthus, between them it would have to be to the death, he knew it with a certainty. 

     “I defend a MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL!!!” Millenius the Grand at last spoke, and when he did, even Zorrak backed away a step. He was copper, just like his daughter, just like Domina. His copper wasn't as brilliant as hers, wasn't as gloriously beautiful, but it was as grand as his reputation. He rippled with power, not just from his great muscular form, but from his very presence. This Wyrm absolutely commanded honor and respect and it was simple to see how he had kept this Council of such diverse individuals in check all these millenia. 

     Next to him stood a Dragon so immense it dwarfed even Zorrak, who mere moments before had been the largest of his kind Trakaan had ever seen. This was Tarasque the fearsome, Lord of the Swamps, King of the Emerald Dragons. If there was one even Trakaan himself feared face in battle, it was this one, and his heart couldn't help but soar if even a little at this great warrior's apparent defense of his actions. 

     “A member of the Council!!!? This is an outrage... never have we allowed an ENEMY of dragonkind anywhere near Crysallis, yet you call this vermin a member!!!??? An OUTRAGE, Millenius, that is what this is!!! An OUTRAGE and nothing more!!!”

     “The outrage, Zorrak the Blue, senior member of the Council,” Millenius continued, not backing down at the great Blue Dragon's assault. “The true outrage is the attempted murder of a Council member, the husband of my own departed daughter and senior member herself of this very same Council, by two other elder Council members. THIS is an act unseen by any of our kind in twenty millenia.... this is what should outrage you, what should truly outrage you!!!”

     And then he gave the Shadowdragon a glance, just one and it was so full of such venom, such utter contempt that it made Trakaan wonder what history, what dark bloody past, Millenius, Chief Prolocutor of the Council and Karanthus, Lord of Shadows, shared. 

     Meanwhile, Zorakk actually appeared taken aback by Millenius' outburst. His baleful glare passed between them all swiftly, from Millenius to Tarasque, to Tiamat and  Trakaan himself, and finally back to Millenius. When he had at last met the Prolocutor's yellow eyes again, he was different, some of the fire, or the thunder, had gone out.

     “Then nothing will be done then... is that it, Millenius? We will protect him as your daughter protected him. We will---”

     “I NEED NO PROTECTING, YOU MISERAB---” And he was cut off yet again by Tiamat's vice-like grip, this time it was painful, this time she allowed no compassion. 

     The others turned their gazes over to him briefly as he struggled with great futility, before returning to their argument. He understood why Tiamat did this, he could even empathize with her after all, but there was just so much he could take and bringing sweet Domina into the equation, outright mocking her in fact, was about as far as he would be allowing Zorrak to go.

     “Yes he will be protected, Zorrak, in the same way we protect each other,” Millenius went on with a sigh, the fire beginning to leave him as well. The old Wyrm was tired, and only now that he was beginning to calm did Trakaan see that. Only now did he see how dull this great Dragon scales truly were. Domina's passing had weighed heavily on more than just his own heart.

     Both Zorrak and Karanthus hissed at Millenius' words, their wings spreading, their crests widening with fury. 

     “There is more, Zorrak, there is more,” Millenius held up one talon in a nonthreatening manner, ceasing their complaints if only momentarily. “There are more that need protecting in these … trying times.... many more. The incident with Andvari's gold, the curse it befell upon Trakaan Astranax and his family has changed everything for our race. No longer can we lapse in our vigilance. We are hunted far and wide now. We are no longer honored, we are no longer respected. We are now feared and hated. We are a target for every would-be human hero. Those we have lived beside for countless millenia, who now grow stronger, more numerous by the day, are now our sworn enemies.”

     End Part 89.3
If you find yourself interested in the whole damnedable thing and wanna throw me a few bucks, here's a link to it on Amazon.   

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· @teukumukhlis ·
A Conversation About Someone's Death - 2 (Fiction)

Part 1

"When going to be buried?" Asked Caucasians who crouched behind the desk, looking for something on the floor. "This afternoon," someone replied. "Where?" "Garden Avenue. But soon his body will be taken." "Where?" "To a chapel, not far from here. Already hundreds of mourners waiting there." "He was godly, perhaps? You're going to get there?" "If there is time." "Too bad." "Well, we just pray." "Do you often pray?" “Sometimes.” "Also for the dead departed from this funeral home? So much every day? Then, have you ever felt your prayers be answered?" "I hope my prayers ease the pain of their close relatives. God answered? I dunno. If my heart is moving, every time the bodies were transported from here, I whispered to myself, to God, before I die someday, maybe you're escorted to a place there." His friend smiled. "Maybe he was pious. Both are also praying for him even if only silently. At the very least, to calm the heart, as he waited as you say." "We're ready or not, a long train is waiting for us. In the terminal time. Departure time we do not know. Tickets are already available there. Never run out. Anytime." Both Caucasians were standing in the doorway. Both nodded to the mourners who slowly passed. Melancholy songs in different languages filled the chapel. The chapel was filled with mourners from various tribes. Asians dominate, some sympathizers of white people scattered among them. Open coffin was placed near the altar. The bodies were buried in it seemed quite like a sleeping person. Quiet as a freeze when the pastor was in the pulpit. With a deep voice and heavy, he greeted the audience who mourn. Conveying greetings and prayers prosper. Then he invited the choir to sing a song of sorrow and hope. All eyes to the members of the choir who wear black robes. People gasped when the word amen long reverberate. Long silence. Pastor took a deep breath before he could begin his sermon. ## To be continued
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@missslulu · (edited)
My Maternal Instinct Awakening in a Dream

She was watching them fuck. He was ugly and had a big nose, she was young and pretty - he pulled her hair and growled. The scene reminded her of some French movie, until, all of a sudden, he pulled out his dick and started pissing all over the pretty face. Certain urgency came over her while watching the girl trying to cover her face under the stream that seemed stronger than it was. At once, she stopped being a silent observer, because he started to piss all over her as well. She started running. The whole situation started evaporating while she was swiftly walking down the street. She wasn’t sure if it actually were her who was fucking him. How rude! It was malicious, and rude, and indecent, really, just inappropriate. She was not happy at all. She saw him walking behind her, in no rush. From afar, he look like Serge Gainsbourg, his face wrinkling in a mean smile. She was trying really hard to move away from him, but the street was rocky and up the hill, covered with a thin layer of snow and ice. Her feet were sticking to the ground, and she had to hold her knees and put them one in front of the other in order to move. She wasn’t panicking, but she really wanted to get as far away from him as possible.

The street was leading to a small square. She found herself in a village on the seacoast, it seemed. The square was old, surrounded by pretty houses such as in a fairy-tale, each different than the last, recognizable by something special. She realized she would have nowhere to sleep that night, after the situation with her lover. She realized all of the houses were b&b, so she went looking for a bed. She turned left and went up wide, white stairs, it seemed as though she was climbing forever. She pushed the door and found herself in an atrium. It was all glass, all white, all beautiful. There was a blond man waiting for her. He seemed nice but reserved. She asked about accommodation, but he didn’t seem to understand her. Now she started panicking, because she knew Serge wouldn’t give up, and she needed to hide as soon as possible. The man seemed really slow. She asked him if there was anyone else at home, and his mother appeared, smiling for days. The woman was carrying ten different kinds of cakes, so she started doubting this situation. The woman said they could accommodate her, but she realized she didn’t have any money. In that moment, she saw Serge sitting in a cafe next door, looking at her through the window of an atrium, with a mean, mean smile. She couldn’t stay there, of course, but the woman insisted. She said she was hiding, but he found her - the woman said they could protect her. She didn’t believe them, because the man was slow and the cakes were many. She took a turn and started walking behind the houses, so the sun was hidden. She saw the entrance of the last house in a row, the one made of red bricks. She climbed the narrow stairs and found herself beneath the attic doors. She peeped in, and saw three black men inside, playing cards. They noticed her, and the youngest got up, pulling out a gun. What the fuck, she thought, and started running, but he caught her hand and said, don’t worry, this is a fake one. He showed her how his toy worked, and she started laughing, they were both rolling on the floor laughing. She told him she was broke and running from her lover, she had nowhere to sleep. Up the stairs again, she found herself in a room that looked like an abandoned warehouse. Inside, there were rows and rows of girls sitting and painting, with a blank expression on their faces. He took her to her mattress and painting spot. She met a few girls there, and one of them started talking to her as if they knew each other forever. But they had never met, and she told her that. The girl claimed they did, and she tried to make her remember her name? Clementine? Whatever, she was now aware they had indeed met before. Life carried on in an orderly fashion, as much as that is possible in a room full of girls. They were left to their own devices, black men were nowhere to be found again.

One night, they were at some party. As the dawn was cracking over her boredom, she walked home. The street was again covered with a thin layer of ice. In front of her, a man and an old woman were walking. Everything was in slow motion. She saw two astronauts walking as well, and she remembered someone told her today was National Moon Day. Suddenly, out of the snow, an old man jumped out, and started shooting in their direction. They were too far so he couldn’t hit them, but she was scared. She started yelling at the man and the old woman, telling them to run away, but they ignored her. She couldn’t see what happened with them because she hid behind a street sign. Under the gunshots, she ran into an entrance of some old, communist building and climbed the last floor. She knew it was Serge shooting, he reappeared. As she was thinking what to do, two of her friends appeared.

They told her she was late, they were waiting for her to go to the beach. They gave her a towel and took her out. On the other side of the building, afternoon soon was shining, and many pines were lined by the beach. She was still in shock. Her friends were talking non-stop, talking about how excited they are to go to the beach. They came about a building made of wooden terraces. There was a large pillar in the middle of it, and around it in rectangle shape, there were plateaus. There were 8 floors. They sat at a table on the first floor and ordered coffee. It was a pleasant afternoon, but she was still nervous. She wondered if Serge could go through the portal and find her. The waiter came to her and told her that the sun was very bad for her and it would be best if she left. Her friends became angry with him, but she realized he was warning her of danger. As she realized that, they understood as well, and suddenly they stopped talking and became action heroes. They told her there was a ship waiting for them at the port, and they started running towards it. There was a big, yellow, shiny egg swimming in the water. Her friend jumped in, and she was at the deck, eating lasagna. The danger passed. Her good friend from a past life appeared and asked her for a bit of lasagna. She gave it to him, and he threw it away. She started explaining the danger Serge posed for her, but he didn’t agree with her. He started to annoy her, and then she saw Serge appear on the beach. She asked her friend to help her close the egg, which he did. She was now alone, inside a golden egg. She felt nice, carried by the waves, safe in the dark.

*Edit: I noticed I got a downvote, and I assume it's due to the language. I understand that it can be offensive to some. How can I make my post NSFW and avoid this issue? Anyway, I used this tag, so hopefully that is enough.

**Edit: I checked out my steemd and noticed I was downvoted by He's on a meaningless spree! Hopefully this issue gets noticed and resolved asap. In the light of this amazing discovery, I've removed the tag. However, I'd like to ask you what do you think - language - offensive or not?

I was lucky to find these illustrations that perfectly compliment my story! Check out the source:

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· @richq11 ·
A Case Of Murder: Chap II

[Auth. Note] After getting a bunch of flack about the picture I used in Chap I, I decided to change it. The girl in the previous picture was A dead girl, not THE dead girl. After perusing Google for half an hour I settled for that one. Please remember, the picture is just to tell the reader what kind of story it is. The story is NOT fashioned around the picture. Similarly, this is a photo of A police car. It is not THE police car in the story, so please don't send comments telling me that it might not fit the's just a picture to put in the icon column. Thank you.

It had been two days and still not a clue. They had run the girl's prints through NCIC and nothing- apparently she didn't have a record. There was some skin cells that Sgt. Lindsey had scraped from under her nails, but there was no match in the DNA database. It was going to take a miracle to solve this one, or so it seemed. There was something fishy about the Patel guy, he knew something he wasn't telling, but he didn't seem the type. Probably just didn't like talking to cops. Jim Garvin, one of the detectives came in and told Matt, Chief wants to see you and Bubba. Is he around?

No, he's out running down a lead, Matt told him. I hope someone comes up with something soon.

Chief Arnold Khilling was a big man who sat behind his desk chewing on an unlit cigar. You could no longer smoke in public buildings, but it didn't keep him from chewing on his favorite Macanudos. What have you got, he asked. The papers are all over me on this and I gotta give em something.

Nothing yet Chief. Bubba's out running down a lead. Something came back on the tire prints and he's out checking it out. Matt didn't like it any better than the Chief. If the papers had it, pretty soon it would be all over TV and then the crazies would start showing up.

Let me know just as soon as you got something. The Chief went back to reading his paper. These assholes are making us look like a bunch of idiots.

Matt headed back to his desk. Garvin was waiting for him. You got a call, some guy who calls himself Reverend Shackelford. He says it's about the case you're on. At last! Maybe this was the break they were waiting for. He got the number from Garvin and went to his phone. First Methodist Church, the voice on the other end of the line said.

Reverend Shackelford, please. Matt tried to keep the excitement out of his voice. If this panned out, it would at least give them something to give the papers and get them off his back. May I ask who's calling please?

Tell him it's Det. Brooks from Police Headquarters. I'm returning his call.

Oh, yes detective, he's been expecting your call. I'll put you through.

Hello detective, the voice was warm and friendly. I may have some information about your dead girl. Such a pity. Would it be convenient for me to come see you right away? I believe I may be able to help you. After exchanging the appropriate pleasantries, they hung up and Matt called Bubba. He wanted him there to size the Reverend up, Bubba was good at these things. Bubba said he was already on his way back.

Reverend William Bill Shackelford was a tall man in his early 60's Matt guessed. They shook hands and Matt showed him into one of the interview rooms where Bubba was waiting. I'm detective Brooks, we spoke on the phone and this is detective Horowitz. Please have a seat

The girl came to see me a few days ago. I would have called sooner, but I didn't know whether you had found the culprit or not. When I read in today's paper that you had not, I called. The reverend's demeanor was calm, fatherly.

Did she tell you her name, Reverend? asked Matt. We really don't have much to go on here. She had no identification on her and her fingerprints didn't match any on file.

She said her name was Deb...Deborah, Deborah Combes. That's a Biblical name, Deborah, detective.

Did she tell you anything else Father? Bubba asked. Anything else that might be helpful?

Not Father, detective, Reverend. I'm Methodist, he said.

Sorry, Bubba said. I get you guys mixed up. Matt knew that Bubba was fishing for a response, sizing the reverend up.

Yes, said Reverend Shackelford. Are you familiar with a cult around here? It's called the Hand of God, or something like that.

The Right Hand of God? Matt asked. Is that the one?

Yes, that's it. The Right Hand of God. Do you know it?

The Right Hand of God was a bunch of religious nuts that had an old farm about 30 miles East of town. They came in from time to time but never started any trouble that Matt knew anything about. He looked at Bubba who shrugged his shoulders.

She told me that they were holding her against her will- making her do things. You know. And they made her take drugs. The reverend started talking faster now.She told me that she had witnessed something bad. A murder, I think and that she just barely got away.He was visibly upset. Matt could tell he was uncomfortable talking about this. He took out a handkerchief and wiped his brow.I gave her money for a motel room from our relief fund and she said she would contact me the next day, but I never heard from her again."

You've been very helpful, Matt told the upset clergyman. Is there anything else you can think of right now?

No, that's about all. You will find out who did this won't you? She seemed like such a nice girl, not at all like someone that would do those things they made her do. Not willingly at least.

We'll find them alright. You can count on it, Matt told him. The reverend rose, shook hands with both and departed. When he had left, Matt turned to Bubba. You don't suspect him do you?

You know me, I suspect everyone, Bubba said with a laugh. Even you.

Matt had a problem. He couldn't go to a judge for a warrant based on what the Reverend had told him. He needed evidence. He had suspicions, but no probable cause. They were stuck. He made up his mind that they would go have a talk with the Right Hand of God, tomorrow. They didn't need a warrant just to talk

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· @maxjoy ·
Film Review: "Mission Impossible 2" Tom Cruise, Hong Kong and Anthony Hopkins

Welcome to the second instalment of the “Mission Impossible” reviews.

I decided to watch them all just for some numbing entertainment … in process I realised they are quite good. They do care somewhat about the quality of the film… something very nice for a franchise of this scope.

Proof of this, is the directors Tom Cruise, hires. He is the producer and this is sort of his thing.

Today we are going to look at the second film, directed by Action Master, John Woo.

This film is also the one who differs the most. I think it could even be called something else, and just have it as a stand alone action flick.

I remember when the movie came out, it was a huge hit, everyone saw it and was singing the music from “Metallica” and “Limp Biskit”. It was one of the summer events.

Now a days the movie does get some hate… and while it’s different from the franchise, I think it’s pretty good.

We have John Woo at the peace of it’s skill directing a gigantic hollywood movie, with one of the world’s biggest starts and with 100 million plus american dollars to express his vision. Should be a nice step up, from his Hong Kong, “low budget” action classics.

He did this while maintaining his integrity.

The film has all of his characteristics, the double guns, the doves, the fire, the operatics, the occasional slow motion…

Ving Rhames, shows up … his the only character present in all the movies, other than Tom Cruise.

The main thing I would point out as a negative is, the “Mission” itself. The film is part of the “Mission Impossible” series and there is not much of a mission at any point.

The mission in this film is basically Cruise jumping from a helicopter while the rooftop is not opened yet… and then they must take the cable out in 2 min or something…. again… it is a different movie and it could have been called something else.

In Short

I would say it’s a cool movie. If you want to have some action packed to see, have a go at this one. If you want to do a MI marathon, do not skip this one. Different but worth it.

Personally I must say I have some of Woo’s Hong Kong movies as my favourites (Hard Boiled, Better Tomorrow) But this one deserves it’s place in his filmography.

And hey, Anthony Hopkins is in it… so… take that one…

Upvote and Follow for all your film interests.

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· @theowlhours ·
Fancy a Game? [Story #3]

Dear Steemians,
Without further delay, here is Story #3! For the previous two stories, you can click here and here. Feel free to tell me your preferred story in the comments below, and may the best story get an ending.
Yours Truly,

The Owl Hours

Story #3
Marie’s first reaction when she saw the nutcracker was absolute horror.

She didn’t let this show on her face, of course. Instead, she gave her aging Uncle Drosselmeier a kiss on the cheek and murmured something about how nostalgic it was. She listened politely as her mother told Dieter, her fiancé, about the time “dear, sweet Marie kept saying her nutcracker was alive!” And her smile never slipped as she saw the guests out at the end of the evening.

Then she went up to her room, yanked up the window sash, and held the brightly-painted nutcracker above the cobblestones of the alley below. She stood there for a long time, stray snowflakes drifting through the open window. Finally she sighed, closed the window, and set the nutcracker on top of her bookshelf.

“You deserve to be smashed to bits, you know,” she told it sternly. “You got me into a lot of trouble last time, and I don’t plan on repeating it.”

She turned away from the nutcracker to pull out a nightgown, but then turned back.

“I mean it. If you try to pull me into the Kingdom of Sweets or anything like that, I actually will throw you out the window.” She went about getting ready for bed, trying to ignore her rising panic. But memories of one particular Christmas kept washing over her, and they did not fit the story her mother had told about an imaginative child.

When Marie had first started telling people about her adventure with the nutcracker, her mother had not thought that it was a harmless childish fancy. She had been twelve at the time, and she was supposed to be growing up, not insisting on imaginary friends and magical worlds. So her mother, instead of doting on how sweet her daughter was, had sent for the doctor.

She could still remember eavesdropping on her parents as Dr. Haussman told them she might be “mentally unstable,” and how he had suggested that they send her to the country for a while. She remembered sitting in her room later that evening, as her parents argued over what Dr. Haussman had said. Their voices had been loud enough that she hadn’t needed to eavesdrop. She also remembered the sick feeling in her stomach when her parents had called her into their room and explained to her that she was going on a trip. An “adventure,” they’d called it, as if she hadn’t already had the adventure of a lifetime with the nutcracker.
She’d been sent to live with he aunt and uncle, who owned a sprawling estate a few hours outside Nuremberg. Most children loved the countryside, but Marie was not one of them. Banned from playing outside with any of the other village children or reading any of the books in her uncle’s library, Marie had been insufferably bored. The doctor had told her family that she should avoid anything that might encourage her “overwrought imagination.”

But, kept from anything that might provide entertainment, Marie’s imagination had been her only consolation during that dreadful year in the country. She had spent a lot of time thinking about the nutcracker, having one-sided conversations where she begged him to take her back to his kingdom. When she got tired of arguing with the nutcracker (she had been convinced he could hear her, although she’d had no evidence to support this), she would sit in the backyard and talk to the flowers, pretending they were grand ladies in the royal court. At night, she would stare up at the stars and wonder what secrets they held. She would often fall asleep in the garden, the light of the stars imprinted upon the backs her eyelids even as she slept.

Marie was a smart child, though, and she soon realized that the fastest way out of the countryside was by pretending that she was a perfectly normal 12-year-old girl. She pretended to grow tired of her toy crown and gave it away to a younger cousin. She said she’d “lost” the nutcracker, although in truth she hadn’t seen the nutcracker ever since she’d returned from the Kingdom. To fool her aunt, she pretended to discover a great passion for needlework and ballroom dancing.

At the end of that interminable year, when the doctor had approved her return to the city, she’d nearly cried with relief. But even once she’d returned with the doctor’s stamp of approval, her parents had continued to hover. They treated her like a perpetual invalid to this very day.

But she would be a married woman soon. Perhaps she would be married to Dieter, perhaps to someone else. It hardly mattered. Soon she would be out from under the watchful eye of her parents, and she would become a wife and a mother -- just like every other sane woman in Nuremberg.

What had Uncle Drosselmeier even been thinking, giving her that... that... that thing as a present? She was finally about to escape the nightmare that his last gift had brought upon her. Why would he want to remind her of it?
Still feeling uneasy, she crawled into bed and pulled the covers up to her chin.

“That’s done,” she told the nutcracker forcefully. “There’s no such thing as a nutcracker who turns into a prince and leads you to the Kingdom of Sweets. It’s impossible.” And, as if to prove what a sensible young woman she was, she buried her nose in the book of astronomy that her brother Fritz had given her as a Christmas present. No nutcracker would dare work its magic on such a factual, scientifically-minded person, Marie thought to herself.

After all, magic didn’t exist.

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· @starttheart · (edited)
My wife and daugher laughed at me,they said I bought the ugliest slippers

I told my wife I need a new slippers.We went to shopping.

We visited several shopping centars.Offer is very similar everywhere.I wanted slippers for the winter,something that will keep my feets warm.I found one very ugly.And I told my wife.We both agreed about that.

When we returned home,my daughter started to make jokes on me and my new slippers.

The slippers comes with shoelaces.After my wife and daughter told me the slippers look like a shoes is decided to remove it.Every few minutes they look at me and laughed at me.

I told my wife"You told me to buy these slippers,why are you laugh at me now?"

Regardless,the jokes have not stopped. 

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