Writing Your Way Through a National Tragedy

When tragedy strikes a nation you cannot escape it, living in the country you have to face it along with your fellow country men and women. You feel the sorrow and look for hope like many others but since you are a writer, you have words to express your grief and extend support. In times of tragedy the strength of words is what preserves the national grief for the future generation to read and reflect and it is also a way to share the pain and grief.

So how can you get out of the grief and write your way through a national tragedy? First step would be to reflect. Think about what happened, all the people who suffered and how the nation handled the pain and grief. You have to be able to feel for the people and understand their position before you even begin to write a word on the tragedy. Make that human, emotional connection. Rushing to write at times of national tragedy without proper reflection could result in “half baked”article which lacks depth and understanding of the tragedy and the people who suffered.

Taking time to reflect, you will be able to feel the common sentiment of loss and also be able to come to terms of what you are feeling about the tragedy. Begin writing about the tragedy keeping in mind that there are real people facing the tragedy and you have to be considerate and humble. Trying humor is a total No because there is a strong possibility that even good natured humor could be taken the wrong way at a time of national tragedy. Just imagine what would have happened if someone had tried to use humor while writing about 9/11 just days after the event?

In you writing express your feeling too so that people can know that you share their grief. Write objectively about facts and details, using emotions will make your writing even more appealing because at times of tragedy people look for emotional bond.

If the tragedy is man made, like terrorism, you have to be balanced on issues like race, religion and public sentiment. You don’t want to write something that is racist or biased which will further the divide the nation and add to the tragedy.

Remember that you need time to deal with your own personal grief. So don’t hurry towards writing about the tragedy. Always be clam and balanced, express your emotions but don’t go overboard and remember to be respectful. Words are powerful, use them with caution because at times of national tragedy few misplaced words can make deep hurting cut into the community which will take years and years to heal.…

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David Cook Gives Another Outstanding Performance on American Idol

I was very interested to know how David Cook would do on Andrew Lloyd Webber night. I was interested in how all of the performances would turn out. I was thinking, is it going to sound like I’m at an opera. Also I was thinking how they were going to do with making these well known songs their own. Andrew Lloyd Webber is the guy who is famous for writing songs for Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. I know that there is a lot of talent left on American Idol so I figured that most of the performances would be good.

David Cook came up and I was excited to see what he would do with the song he picked. He picked the song, “Music of the Night” and I know that was a powerful song. I was very interested in how he was going to sing. I think that David Cook did an outstanding job singing that song. He was really good. I think that David Cook was the best one on American Idol Tuesday night. David Archuletta and Jason Castro were not far behind though. They were all excellent. They are stepping it up week after week. David Cook has a lot of talent but I already knew that from the beginning, as you probably knew also. He is doing a great job of keeping his uniqueness on American Idol.

I don’t need to say that David Cook needs to step it up because he really doesn’t need to. I think that he is doing exactly what he should be doing. Keep in mind that he is doing all of this with a very sick brother at home. He has a lot to deal with. David Cook has the talent to go far and I know he will. I think that the final two are going to be David Cook versus Jason Castro. What do you all think?…

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St. Louis University Alumnus John Cook Gives Lecture on Humanitarianism in Business

After giving a small guest lecture on business and philanthropy, the administration at St. Louis University convinced alumnus John Cook to structure a University-wide speech in which all students and faculty could take part and learn. This Sept 12th endeavor was held at the Anheuser-Busch Auditorium and began at 7 p.m.


Motivated in part by his desire to give back to his fraternity Delta Sigma Pi at S.L.U., Cook based the primary foundation of his speech on how he was able to build his professional career through honesty, integrity, compassion, and hard work. He proceeded to advise fellow S.L.U. students to pay attention to opportunities for community service in both the corporate and private sectors.

While a devoted student at Saint Louis University, John Cook also worked full time for a local department-store called Stix, Baer & Fuller. While in their employment he discovered that a fellow employee had been stealing close to a thousand dollars from the company each day over the course of several years. When asked about this experience, he replied, ” as the story goes, in my sophomore year … I was working at a St. Louis department store, and I got curious on something. [I] ultimately discovered the greatest fraud in the company’s history.”

Cook then chose to expose the scandal to his superiors, which inevitably led to his promotion to internal auditor within the company. As a result, in 1991 Cook founded his own successful company called The Profit Recovery Group, that thrived on helping companies find and regulate theft or inaccuracies within the financial aspects of the business.

Cook continued on with his humanitarian efforts by devoting a great deal of time to helping needy children in Nepal. After finding inspiration from a Catholic priest helping people in Thailand, John Cook has since built several buildings to house schools and medical facilities for families in foreign nations. In response to this effort, Delta Sigma Pi President Nicole Puhl stated “I was really impressed by the fact that 35,000 children in Nepal have gone through his literary schools and that he has affected that many people. I think that [Cook’s] service upholds the Jesuit ideals.”

The focus of the speech however did not end with Cook’s good works. The point of his presentation culminated in the final half of his lecture. He began to discuss the charitable and humanitarian possibilities ahead for students at Saint Louis University. He primarily discussed the impact that a caring attitude can have on business and on coworkers. He stated that empathy is a key point to building a successful leader that can understand and have compassion for his subordinates, while learning to manage important tasks and successfully direct individuals as well. One proclamation rang true above all others when he said, “You start realizing how fortunate you are and how much you have. “When you start thinking this way, you’ll find that the rest of the world wants to follow you and wants you to be successful.”

After his speech, Cook continued to answer questions, and shared his personal passions for volunteer work, and his goals for charity work. As the evening finally came to a close, students rose from their seats to give a standing ovation to this unique man who had over the course of the previous two hours become a professional and compassionate mentor.…

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Top 10 Philharmonic Orchestras Worldwide

Definitively ranking philharmonic orchestras (or any other type of musical group, for that matter) is an impossible task. Each and every listener will have a unique experience while listening to a particular performance from any given philharmonic orchestra, and therefore each listener will have a different opinion. Personal musical and aesthetic taste also plays a role. However, there are certainly some philharmonic orchestras that stand out from the pack, whose excellence no one can deny. Here are ten, in no particular order, that are more than worth listening to.

NY Philharmonic – This orchestra has been wowing audiences for the past 6 years under the baton of Lorin Maazel. This is my hometown philharmonic, and they seem to get better every time I hear them. Alan Gilbert takes the reins in 2009 – will the orchestra continue to impress?

Cleveland Orchestra – George Szell brought this orchestra to the forefront during his 24 year tenure (1946-1970). Though Cleveland is not one of the biggest cities in the US, the orchestra attracts some of the finest players and conductors from all over the world.

Berliner Philharmoniker – This award winning philharmonic orchestra was led by the legendary Herbert von Karajan for an astonishing 35 years, from 1954-1989. The current conductor, Sir Simon Rattle, is also held in high regard. However, the orchestra will be replacing Artistic Director Pamela Rosenberg in 2010.

Wiener Philharmoniker – Since 1933, this philharmonic orchestra has relied solely on guest conductors rather than employing a single chief conductor, which makes its consistent high quality all the more remarkable. It has often been cited as Europe’s finest.

National Symphony Orchestra, Washington DC – Though this orchestra may not make anyone else’s top 10 list, it’s a personal favorite, due largely to conductor Leonard Slatkin. I’ve never seen anyone fire up an orchestra the way he can. He will be sorely missed when he retires at the end of this year.

Boston Symphony Orchestra – Another personal favorite, although Boston is widely regarded as one of the finest symphonies in the world. It was led by the incredible Seiji Ozawa until 2002, at which time the incomparable James Levine took over – who could ask for anything more?

Philadelphia Orchestra – This American powerhouse is well known for recordings and has always managed to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. Charles Dutoit will be taking over in 2008.

Israel Philharmonic – With legends like Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta at the helm, how could this NOT be one of the great philharmonic orchestras of the world?

Chicago Symphony – Recordings by the Chicago Symphony have won 58 Grammy awards – need I say more?

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam – Since its inception in 1888, this philharmonic orchestra has had only 6 chief conductors, which contributes to its consistent, distinctive sound.…

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Six Christian-Themed Writing Projects for Kids

If you’re looking to add a creative project to your Sunday school or homeschooling lessons, or want to give the kids something faith-related and fun to do on a rainy afternoon, consider a Christian-themed creative writing project. Simply put, these are writing projects which allow kids a chance to express their ideas and feelings about their faith. Writing projects can ask kids to explain bible stories, apply their faith to certain situations, or express how they feel about the Lord. At the same time, writing projects help kids hone important skills which they will need in school.

To help make these writing projects more fun and special, give your kids colored pens or markers and special stationary or notebooks to use as they write. Keeping these special writing items in sync with the Christian theme of the projects (think Veggie Tales) can help kids get into the spirit and realize that writing about church, the bible, or lessons from Jesus can be a fun and joy-filled experience, not just a boring lesson or drill.

Here are some Christian-themed writing project prompts you may want to use to get your kids started.

Writing Project #1: Being Like Jesus 
Ask your child to consider which trait of Jesus he or she wishes she could have. Why would they want that trait? What would they do if they had it? Some kids may say they wish they could be kinder and more loving and forgiving while others may focus on how Jesus had the power to heal people and perform miracles that helped people. This is a good project for helping kids to think about all the different aspects of Jesus and see ways they can try to be more like Him in everyday life.

Writing Project #2: Jesus At School 
Ask your child to write about a situation they might see at school (or another setting where they’re with their peers) where something unChristian is happening – maybe a kid is picking on another kid, or a fight is about to break out, or someone is considering cheating. After they describe the situation, ask your child to put Jesus in the mix to resolve it. This project encourages kids to consider “What would Jesus do” in the context of a situation they would really encounter. Older kids can be encouraged to use bible verse in their writing, or to write the story as a play with different characters speaking dialogue.

Writing Project #3: A Question For God 
Part of being a Christian is learning to talk to God. Sometimes, both kids and adults have questions they’d like God to answer. Ask your child to write a letter to God asking him something they wonder about. Whether it’s serious, like why a bad thing happens to a good person, or silly, like why He created something like the duck-billed platypus, your child’s question can reveal a lot about what’s on his or her mind and may encourage him or her to be comfortable asking the Lord for help in understanding things which seem confusing. An alternative to writing a letter would be to have a child pretend he or she is walking or sharing a meal with Jesus and posing the question to Him face to face. Encourage your kids to not try to answer the question in their writing, but rather encourage them to be open to getting an answer from God in His own way and time.

Writing Project #4: A Prayer 
There are as many ways to pray as there are people. Writing a prayer down instead of speaking it out loud can be a very powerful way to speak to God. Ask your child, young or old, to write a prayer from the heart. It could be a prayer for a special intention, a grace for a family dinner, or something else your child would like to address. Encourage them to think of all sorts of prayers in the bible and in church including psalms, song lyrics, formal prayers, rhyme, and informal, conversational prayers, and then use any style they like. They may want to begin with thinking about what they want to pray about and then coming up …

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Kristy Lee Cook Sings Mariah Carey’s Forever in Country Style on American Idol

Kristy Lee Cook is a country girl. She sang Proud to be an American and brought the house down a few weeks ago.


Tonight was Mariah Carey night on American Idol. Kristy chose the song Forever. She put her country mark on it tonight. Mariah said Kristy gave her goose bumps when she listened to her.

I enjoyed the arrangement she sang. I think Kristy has a strong voice and is enjoyable to watch. She always looks beautiful and I am sure appeals to the country crowd.

I really didn’t think Kristy had staying ability, but she has surprised me. The first couple weeks, I really expected her to be voted off the show. She has gotten better every week and I actually think she might outlast the other two girls.

With all that being said, I think that beating David Cook and David Archuleta will be very difficult. They have powerful voices and the ability to be very versatile. David Cook can sing ballads and rock while Kristy is mostly country. I think Kristy could end up in the top three.…

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American Idol Winner David Cook Snags Another Prize

So I didn’t watch the two plus hour American Idol finale, I admit it. I don’t particularly like watching people butcher songs that were made popular by the people that were meant to sing them, and Paula, Simon, and Ryan Seacrest just really get on my nerves.


That being said, I really find America’s obsession with this show rather amusing. It’s interesting that the pseudo-celebrity American Idol winners always get so much publicity right after they win and America cares so much about their personal lives, but then the next season of American Idol comes along. Then the winner gets on with their seemingly boring life, if the tabloid coverage of the past American Idol winners is evident of their lifestyles. I guess they just don’t have great publicists like Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears and all of the other tabloid darlings that can always be found hanging out around the checkout lines at grocery stores tempting you to peek inside to see what kind of huge mistake they’ve made this time or how horrible they look without makeup.

David Cook is at least making somewhat of an effort to keep his name in the headlines, by going on a date with ex-Idol contestant Kimberly Caldwell. Judging from his remark “We’ll probably hang out again”, it sounds like this relationship is really going to last. No girl wants to hear a guy say they want to “hang out” with her. That usually means they want to have sex as soon as possible and move on, which is exactly what Cook will do.

There are plenty of bigger, better babes he can bang out there, and he better do it while he’s still got all the attention from winning American Idol. If he waits too long, all the Jessicas and Britneys and Jennifer Anistons will find someone else who’s more tabloid-worthy. Kimberly Caldwell better milk this for all its worth before David starts thinking of all of the hypothetical attention-grabbing situations he could get into with single twenty-something celebs, whose relationships seem to get shorter and shorter as they get older. It seems that, when it comes to dating in Hollywood, the women have become just as bad as the men about having sex with as many famous guys as possible. I guess it’s just the culture that Sex in the City has created.

So enjoy getting laid, David Cook. Even when your celebrity status wears off somewhat with the coming of the next American Idol, you’ll still be able to get yourself plenty of groupies, or perhaps Britney Spears (maybe even her sister). Enjoy your prize.…

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David Cook First, David Archuleta Second: American Idol Top Five

In a season of American Idol known for pulling out all the punches, the contestants have now been whittled down to five. While it might not be the five that the American Idol viewing audience expected, it is a diverse group that will be vying for the top spot. Still, even with strong competitors, it is obvious that some contestants are more deserving of the title of “American Idol” than others.

It is going to be a tight race for the top five on American Idol. There will be a lot of clawing for the top spot, but in the end, it will be David Cook that is victorious. He has star quality and is actually a real musician instead of merely a singer. Out of all of the American Idols, David Cook is the one to look forward to week after week. With each performance, David Cook infuses his own personality and gives the audience something that hasn’t been played time and time again on the radio. It is that uniqueness that will bring David Cook to the front of the top five on American Idol. Last week, David Cook managed to cement his position even further by giving American Idol viewers the biggest surprise of the season. His performance of Music of the Night was straightforward, sang as written, and showcased his voice. That was a smart move for David Cook. It allowed the American Idol audience to see that not only can he mix things up, but he has a wonderful vocal range.

David Cook has taken a lot of heat throughout the season. It has come out that his musical arrangements have not always been his. They have been lesser known arrangements that can be found online. Still, one must give the guy credit. By not singing popular radio songs, a risk is being taken. The key to American Idol is to not allow the songs to come across as singing karaoke. Whether you love or hate David Cook, you have to admit that his music is not the type that would be heard in a karaoke bar. It is not all that relevant who came up with the arrangements. Many musicians do not write their own music, and it is certainly not a prerequisite for being a star on American Idol. What is important is that David Cook has managed to step outside of the American Idol box. He truly is different, even if the arrangements are not his. He is contemporary. David Cook is not lost in 1988 like many American Idol contestants are.

Many will not agree with this, but David Archuleta is going to finish in second place on American Idol. Honestly, his gimmick is wearing thin. The doe eyed seventeen year old has secured a huge fan base, but in a head to head competition with David Cook, Archuleta will lose. While he put originality in Andrew Lloyd Webber night last week, it will probably be one of the few times when David Archuleta crosses the boundary between “singer” and “musician.” He is definitely talented enough of a singer to make it to the top two on American Idol, but his lack of originally will keep him from getting the coveted number one spot. David Archuleta has a lot of growing up and maturing as an artist to do before he can be considered the best. He is incredibly good, but he is not the best. He is not contemporary. David Archuleta is more of an easy listening, song playing in the elevator, type of performer.

The American Idol audience is buying into what the judges say about him. Week after week, David Archuleta can do almost no wrong when it comes to Randy, Paula and Simon. He is incredibly over praised by the judges and fans alike. It is as if people are afraid to give David Archuleta a real critique. He seems to be a sweet, passionate guy, and his personality is derailing his critics. People need to look past his sweet nature and truly critique his performances. When David Archuleta forgets the words to a song, it needs to be mentioned. Forgetting the words to songs does not …

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Fun Things to Do with Your Kids in Boston

Living only 2 hours from Boston I can honestly say that there is no other city so close to central NH that offers so much for kids and their families. You could stay in Boston for years and never see it all. I have gone there once or twice a year for my entire 36 years of life and I still haven’t seen everything as of yet. As a matter of fact, today, I was searching the web for open times and pricing for this article when I came upon an interesting website, http://www.gobostoncard.com/ . This website not only tells you all about the 70 or so partner locations around Boston that are perfect for children but it also offers you a discount card that will get you into those locations!! These cards start at only $54.99 for adults and $34.99 for kids 12 & under. A bargain since you can use it at any of their partner sites for 1, 2, 3, 5 & 7 day increments. Since almost all of my top choices for children are found at their site I would recommend starting there first when planning your getaway. Now for my top choices for children in no particular order.

Liberty Fleet Tall Ship Adventures Where else can your kids actually sail a tall ship? I didn’t think you could answer that one and that is why I included this fun cruise on my list. I haven’t tried this yet but as an avid boater I can tell you I will be on the next boat out!! They allow adults and kids alike to set sails, take the wheel and throw tea into the harbor. They are located at 67 Long Wharf, Boston. For more information call 617-742-0333 or go to www.libertyfleet.com .

New England Aquarium No introduction required on this fun classic. If you live in or near Boston you have probably been here a million times or more. I know I have!! Unlike when I was a child, they now have Imax!! I truly enjoyed my Imax trip under the ocean on my last visit. However, my daughter thought it was boring so I will leave the Imax portion of this trip to your discretion. No one disagreed on the fun we had watching the various fish and playing with the assortment of hands on activities. They are located at Central Wharf, Boston. For more information call 617-973-5200 or go to www.newenglandaquarium.org .

The Mary Baker Eddy Library/Mapparium This fun little museum is a new find for me but it sounds like a must see. According to Go Card you can walk across a bridge that spans the interior of a three story stained glass world globe!! So why not bring your kids to the center of the earth while teaching them a thing or two about world geography!! They are located at 200 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. For more information call 617-450-7000 or go to www.marybakereddylibrary.org

Franklin Park Zoo This one is yet another classic. Bring your picnic lunch and make a day of watching all the exotic animals, 160 different species to be exact. Best yet, if you are from the city, you can get a taste of life on the farm at the petting zoo. They are located at One Franklin Park Road, Boston. For more information call 617-541-LION (617-541-5466) or go to www.zoonewengland.org

New England Sports Museum Some people find this exciting but I find it a huge bore. If you are a big sports fan like my husband and kids then you wont want to miss this one. They are located at TD Banknorth Garden, Causeway St, Boston and their admission desk is located at the Box Office. They can be reached by phone at 617-624-1235 or on the web at www.sportsmuseum.org .

Fenway Park My kids and husband love this one so here it is for all of you Red Sox fans. According to the Go Card website you can get a tour of Fenway Park by visiting 4 Yawkey Way, Boston or by calling 617-226-6666. They also have a website of www.redsox.com/tours.

Tomb by 5 WITS My daughter and I read about this fun locations interactive special effects and …

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How to Encourage a Teenage Driver to Wear a Seat Belt

Although a well known law and regarded as one of the best safety measures that can be taken to protect one’s self while driving in an automobile, many people still have not made buckling up with a seat belt a regular habit. Teenagers can be especially reluctant to use a seat belt since they regard this safety measure as being “uncool” and restrictive. When teen drivers first take to the road, parents have enough to worry about without being anxious that a minor mishap while driving can become an unbearable tragedy due to their child’s refusal to use their seat belt. Read this article to see how you can ensure your teenage driver adheres to this rule each and every time they get behind the wheel.

Always Wear Your Seat Belt. Children learn acceptable behavior from watching their parents. If you buckle up every time you get in the car to go somewhere and refuse to start driving until each and every passenger is buckled up as well, your teen driver will instinctively follow your lead. Bu setting a good and proper example for driving safety, you have already won half the battle.

Make Always Wearing A Seat Belt A Contingency Upon Your Teenager Receiving their Driver’s License. Being extremely clear on the expectations you have on your teenage driver well before they receive that little piece of paper will leave no room for argument. Insist that your teenage driver buckle up while driving and require their passengers to do so as well before you even take them for their driver’s exam. Do not assume that your teenage driver takes this granted. As mature and responsible as parents hope their new teenage drivers are, common sense and basic safety rules can take a backseat during the excitement of becoming a licensed driver. The more times your teen driver gets behind the wheel of a car without wearing their seat belt, the more this unsafe habit takes root.

Be Prepared To Suspend Driving Privileges If Necessary. If you catch your teenage driver driving without a seat belt, issue a stern warning and make sure they know how seriously you take this issue. If the rule is disobeyed again, be prepared to take away the keys for a specific amount of time. Unfortunately, losing the privilege of driving may be the only thing that gets through to your new driver. It is far better to deal with a teenage driver who sulks and complains about having their driving privileges taken away for a week or two, than to pay a visit to your child in the hospital with severe injuries from an auto accident that occurred while they were not wearing their seat belt.

In plain and simple terms, seat belts save lives and are required to be used by law. Failure to use a seat belt while driving can on a small scale result in a traffic ticket, and on a much larger scale cause great physical harm. Show your teen driver how much you love and cherish them by insisting they wear their seat belt each and every time they drive.…

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