Saturday Night Genealogy Fun…News events during my lifetime…

It’s been another crazy week at work and I’m not sure I have an in-depth post in me at this point, so I’m going to play along with Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun instead Here’s what Randy posted for today:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1) What are the major news events that happened during your life that you remember where you were when you heard about them?

2) Tell us in your own blog post, or in comments to this post, or in comments on Facebook.  As always, please leave a link to your work in Comments.

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* The terror attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics is the first major news event I truly remember. In my mind’s eye we were in the car when the news came on the radio, but I can’t be 100% sure that memory is accurate. It was quite a shock. From those Olympics, I also remember Olga Korbut and thus my obsession with gymnastics began (it ramped up after Nadia in 1976), so at least my recollections aren’t all negative.

* The kidnapping of Patricia Heart by the Symbionese Liberation Army. As a pre-teen girl I was glue to the tv for that one, so worried about her and remember my shock when the images of her with the gun were released.

* The Yom Kippur War and Vietnam War – they both stand out for me. I was always aware of them. And then the refugees from Vietnam arriving in Canada in the late 1970s.

* In Canada I remember the various policies of the Trudeau (the elder) government (6 and 5; the National Energy Program) and the responses from the Western provinces (let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark) + Trudeau’s defeat and Joe Clark’s short-lived minority government.

* In Ottawa, the school shooting at Piux X High School in September 1975, in which two students died, as well as the shooter. This shock was followed closely by the kidnapping, assault, and murder of a girl around my own age. I remember both incidents frightened me a great deal.

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* The death of Elvis on August 16, 1977 is still one of my clearest memories – we were in the car outside Dominic’s Music Academy in Bells Corners (suburb of Ottawa) – I was waiting to go inside for my piano lesson. It was a hot day and my mum had the radio on when the announcer broke the news. We were all stunned.

* The marriage of Charles and Diana – I got up super early to watch it, being of an age to find it all terribly romantic, not realizing just how much of an arranged marriage it was and a true recipe for the ensuing disaster.

* The assassination of John Lennon on December 8, 1980 – again, a clear memory. I had just woken up to go to school when my mum opened my bedroom door – I hadn’t yet turned on the light, so it was fully dark as she told me the news.

* The assassination attempts on Ronald Reagan (March 1981) and Pope John Paul II (May 1981) so close together – I seem to recall hearing about both these while I was at school. I guess the teachers must have told one person, or someone heard on a pocket radio. I know my dad had to break the news about the pope very carefully to my Polish grandmother and hasten to assure her he wasn’t dead. She almost fainted.

* The explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in January 1986 – IIRC, I was home for a break between university classes and had the tv on for soap operas. The news broke and I can still remember seeing the image of the spacecraft breaking up, knowing there was no way anyone could survive.

* 1986 was a bad year as Chernobyl happened only a few months later, in April. I was still in Kingston at university, but can’t remember if I was at home when I heard about it or on campus.

* Ben Johnson’s positive drugs test during the 1988 Seoul Olympics – I was at a dinner with my fellow residence dons and the news broke there. I think someone came in and said they’d heard it on the radio.

* The Ice Storm of January 1998 – I didn’t so much hear about it as live through it. The whole thing began quite normally – I had been at an Ottawa Romance Writers Group meeting and drove home with some light freezing rain starting to fall. For Ottawa, in January, this isn’t unusual, so I thought nothing of it. But once it started, it didn’t stop. And it was heavy, heavy, ice – a transformer blew down the road from us in the middle of the night – we were awakened by the explosion and the bright light. Our power was out for about twelve hours. There was a brief interval at one point, and then it started again. Sean covered it for the BBC World Service: and We flew out on either the Friday afternoon or the Saturday morning to go to Oregon, via Vancouver. We were at least an hour waiting on the plane to be de-iced and I seem to recall they had to go around twice because by the time the trucks had finished the first pass, parts of the plane were being coated again. It was terrifying. We were one of the last flights to leave before they shut down the airport all together. Ironically enough, as we drove from Vancouver to Eugene, we heard on the forecast there might be freezing rain in Portland! Fortunately, it didn’t transpire, and instead we encountered a typical PNW rain storm – still not much fun to experience while on the I5. When we returned about a week later, we looked out of the plane at a surreal landscape – everything was still coated in ice and all we could see were broken trees everywhere. While Ottawa itself had power again, many of the surrounding areas were without electricity for up to three weeks.

* The mass shooting at Columbine in 1999, though I can’t remember where I was when I heard.

* The 9/11 terrorist attacks. This is another one of my crystal clear memories. My sister was staying with us and we were about to go out for a walk when we heard the report about the first plane. I was in the kitchen – the radio was pretty much always on, and CBC broke in with a news bulletin. We went out for the walk and by the time we returned a couple of hours later, the enormity of what had happened became had become clear…my husband was working as a news anchor at CBC Ottawa at that time and was late home from work (he did the early morning news run). We went over to my parents’ house later that day and continued to watch the coverage. It was the last major news event my dad witnessed before he died – we watched up in the bedroom with him, including my young nephew.

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* The Great Blackout of August 2003. Again, something I experienced, rather than heard about. It was just after four o’clock when the power went out. We lived in Kanata then (another Ottawa suburb) and it was known for having an unstable power grid as it had exploded in population without a commensurate upgrade to the power grid. I figured it would be on again in a while. Not so much. We always have a battery operated radio, so I tuned in – Sean was once again at work, this time doing the afternoon news run and once again thrown into the middle of a changing situation. It soon became clear that this was more than just a local blackout – it covered parts of the Eastern Seaboard (US) and Ontario. In the 9/11 world, I have to admit I worried about terrorism and with Sean at work in the iconic Chateau Laurier, I have to admit I was frightened until it became clear that it was a huge technical malfunction. Sean remained at work well into the night and I sat out on our deck with the cats. It was a hot summer evening, but at least there was a bit of a breeze. As night fell, the stars were incredible – never had I seen them so bright over any of my houses on Ottawa as there’s always light pollution. It was so peaceful with few cars about and less air traffic (nowhere for them to land in Ottawa and flights cancelled as Pearson Airport in Toronto – one of the main Canadian hubs – was closed as well). When Sean finally got home at about 12:30 am, I greeted him with a glass of whisky for a job well done. He’d been on the air all evening updating the situation. At that house we had air conditioning, but with the windows open, we still managed to sleep as the night cooled somewhat (often in Ottawa, the nights are almost as hot as the days at the height of summer), and woke to find the power was still off. It was restored around 11 am and I went to the grocery store to stock up as we’d been warned there might be rolling brownouts. The lines were long, but most people were calm and orderly. I seem to recall we did have to throw out some meat from the freezer as, after almost 24 hours, it was likely not safe anymore. But we came out of it well – there were a few temporary power losses, but they didn’t last long.

* The London tube and bus bombings on July 7, 2005, tube and bus bombings. I was awake early that morning, tuned in listening to Sean and Anthony (Germaine) on the morning show, when the news came in. Having relatives and friends who either lived in or visited London frequently, I felt sick, worrying to much. We heard soon enough that everyone we knew was safe, but as the casualties continued to mount, the horror remained. Much later, here on the Coast, I learned that my doctor (at the time) had been in the midst of it all, and that it haunts her still.

* Finally, I’m going to return to 1972, where I started. The final game of the Canada/Soviet Union series on September 28, in which Paul Henderson scored the winning goal to lead Canada to victory. This is a vary Canadian moment, one that many of my generation can relate to. I was listening on my transistor radio – a little silver one, IIRC. We had followed the series avidly as it was a huge rivalry and the tension was high, with many workplaces quiet as everyone listened or watched. It’s an iconic moment and I wanted to end with something positive, a moment in time I’ll never forget.


I’m sure if you asked me this question on another day, other events would come to mind. So much has changed in the world since I was a little girl – I used a rotary phone that was connected to the wall; changed the tv channels with a pair of pliers because the knob cover had fallen off on our old console tv set; bought 45s and played them with the little thingamajig for the centre; wrote letters to keep in touch; watched slide shows and picked up processed photos from the camera stores; ran around for hours outside in the summer with my friends; sat in a car without a seat-belt all the way from Ottawa to Toronto, Ottawa to Washington D.C., and Ottawa to St. Louis; had to stay inside when the DDT fogger came around to spray for mosquitoes; moved from record albums and audio cassettes to CDs, to MP3 players, and then an iPod; lived in a world where the Internet wasn’t a public thing and watched it develop from my days on Prodigy to now; remember the Apollo missions (except 1969) and the entirety of the Space Shuttle program; and so much more.


As genealogists and family historians, we are (naturally) obsessed with those who came before us and long to uncover as many details of their lives as we can. However, must also remember that we too lived through history, and that writing down our own memories is just as important, especially for those who will follow us. Many of us have lived through the same events, yet each of us has a unique perspective on it – one that should be recorded.

What news events from the course of your lifetime stand out for you?

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.