July 31, 1914: Lightning on the Horizon

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, July 31, 1914 (3:30 p.m. edition)
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, July 31, 1914 (3:30 p.m. edition)

While World War I officially began on July 28, 1914, it took American media until July 31st to catch up to what was going on–likely in part because that was the day Imperial Russia announced its vast army was mobilizing in preparation for war.

Also, dispatches from foreign correspondents were still relayed by telegraph in some places, so transcription and copyediting naturally took some time. What’s interesting when surveying lesser-known papers like the Honolulu Star-Bulletin above is how much work they put in to their front pages announcing the beginning of hostilities. If anything, they were much more visually interesting (at least to a modern-day eye) than the staid and text-heavy New York Times or Washington Post (though these papers, in their defense, were often using the words of their own foreign correspondents, not press services).

The Star-Bulletin must have had a pretty hard-working staff, as the right side of the page above looks upon close inspection a lot like a live-blog, using reports aggregated from the “Associated Press Service by Federal Wireless”:

Detail from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7/31/1914
Detail from the front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7/31/1914

Another of the many small city papers that used eye-catching graphics to bring home the gravity of developments in Europe was Missoula, Montana’s Daily Missoulian, which published this striking and (to me) oddly modern graphic meant to illustrate the relative sizes of the armies of the initial aggressors:

Graphic from Missoula, MT Daily Missoulian, 7/31/1914
Graphic from Missoula, MT Daily Missoulian, 7/31/1914

Much closer to the action, old line English papers like the Daily Telegraph soldiered on without much obvious drama, though the Telegraph’s coverage was comprehensive. This map published in the July 31st, 1914 Telegraph illustrated known Austrian and Serbian troop movements:

Map from the London (UK) Daily Telegraph, pubbed 7/31/1914
Map from the London (UK) Daily Telegraph, pubbed 7/31/1914

Though the media worldwide had paid close attention to the June 28, 1914 assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, it seems like July 31st was the moment everyone realized the size and gravity of what was happening on the Continent. They saw the lightning, and even as far away as Honolulu, Hawaii, they were waiting on the thunder.

Keeping it brief–a dumb post about working out

Image from 12 Minute Athlete
Image from 12 Minute Athlete

When I started exercising regularly again at 43, I quickly learned whatever I thought I knew about fitness in my teens and twenties–and I thought I knew a great deal–was either hilariously limited or just plain wrong.

That is, I had some hardened ideas that were actually working against me. One was the idea that it wasn’t a workout unless you were busting ass for at least 30 minutes. No wonder I’d think about getting back in shape in my late twenties and throughout my thirties, consider how much work I might have to do, and usually decide I had other stuff that might need my attention.

Once exercise did become a habit again, I had to learn that just for purely practical reasons sometimes a workout needed to be short, but hopefully intense. Especially if I wanted to work out frequently. Otherwise, at some point my body would just stall and say NOPE, WE’RE DONE. (It’s done that to me, so I speak from experience.)

Once I learned to love the fast-paced, brief workout, I discovered there are a ton of good resources for them online. Many are CrossFit-related, but there’s also the excellent 12-Minute Athlete, a frequently updated blog that plainly lays out well-balanced 12-minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts with simple, pleasing graphics and videos.

All of this is preamble to note the 12-minute workout I did tonight. Even though I’m making it a point to give a shout-out to 12-Minute Athlete, I actually found this on a CrossFit site. Here it is as posted there:

Complete as many rounds as possible in 12 mins of:
8 Burpees
10 Kettlebell Swings, 24/16 kg
12 Air Squats

I used a 70-lb kettlebell but otherwise did the workout as directed and completed 5 rounds, adding up to 40 burpees, 50 swings and 60 squats. And when I was done, I did all the sweating, for a while. It felt like an excellent workout both for the range of muscles hit and for the level of tiredness I felt when done.

I think my point is to recommend to anyone who might read this that if you’re stuck in the old “I MUST DO THIS FOR AN ETERNITY OF SUFFERING” mindset as I once was, well, there are definitely excellent alternatives.

 

The Unbearable Writeness of Blogging

I have, for a long time, hated blogging. What I hate about blogging is not the act of writing for public consumption. It’s the heavy load the words “blog” and “blogging” have carried for a few years now. In my mind, and I suspect the minds of others as well, the moment something you’ve researched, edited, and labored over moves from an “essay” or any other form of writing to a “blog post,” it feels somehow diminished. This is both a subjective attitude developed from peculiar, personal experience and something I’ve noticed in pop culture and the media. Tell someone you’re a journalist and they won’t blink–it’s a long accepted job, even if it’s one people sometimes reflexively dislike. Say you’re a blogger–even if it’s a paid gig–and watch many people try to put the brakes on a bit of a sneer.

So as other posts in this blog indicate, doing this is a frequent source of internal conflict for me. A lot of things figure into that, including the question of ‘why bother?’

After this post about my weight loss and many of the factors that led me to do it was highlighted by WordPress’s “Freshly Pressed,” I discovered something surprising: a ton of people are still happily blogging away, just because they want to. I found this out from the ongoing response to that post, and from reviewing the blogs of many who liked it and then chose to follow me.

If you listen to the nimrods who blog for popular sites (certain tech blogs, etc.) about social media, you might get the impression that tools like Twitter and Tumblr have killed old-fashioned blogging (a ridiculous term itself, since blogging isn’t even 20 years old, really) just for the heck of it.*

I think the response to my post featured on “Freshly Pressed” opened my eyes to the fact that blogging hasn’t really died out at all, and there are still plenty of people doing it because they feel compelled to. It may have begun to re-legitimize the act of blogging, in my eyes.

As a result, I’ve decided, after a silly amount of hemming and hawing, to focus much more of my writing in general in this space. A problem with the wealth of choices available to anyone wanting to publish much of anything online now is that very wealth…if you’re as ADD** as me, it’s often irresistible. I want to try that new Tumblr idea. I want to give that funny Twitter parody idea a shot. I want to check out this tool and see if it’s better than WordPress, or use that other one and see if it’s got better Google search penetration than Tumblr.

I want to, but I think rather than be distracted by the “oooohhh shiny,” I’m going to remain resolute and put it here, come hell or high water. I’m committing. It’s disturbing, and makes me uncomfortable.

That will mean a wide variety of weirdness, including pointless talking to myself posts like this. Something I try to not do, but continue doing. Thanks for following along, hope it’s worth your time. And mine.

*Backtracking: in 2005 I had been blogging for 5 years ‘just for the heck of it’ and someone invited me to write for their site for pay. That was news writing, not precisely blogging, but it led ultimately to, among other things, paid blogging, including launching and anchoring a blog about crime for Village Voice Media. After that blogging was officially a job, and that probably was the main reason I underwent a huge change in attitude about this endeavor.

**Medically diagnosed ADD, dammit, not self-diagnosed based on some online tests. The internet has provided innumerable tools for allowing people to glibly determine they are impaired or dying.