Thursday, December 31, 2009

Yet another blog opened

Today, I opened a new blog "Competent Communicator", using the new title I just got from having achieved the ten projects in the Competent Toasmasters manual. I did like better the old title "competent toastmaster" because the new one sound a bit sufficient to me.

There is so much more to become really competent in communicating!

But nevertheless, I believe it is not a bad title if I want to speak about different aspects of communications, and also more deeply about my experience as Toastmasters. Not only did I already write my note to begin, but also my first note about my first speech for the 1st of January 2010.

I will put in this blog a link to it and also show whenever I write in it, which, in my plan is every day, or at least every week, but very regularly. So if any of you through the times want to know how I learned, how I failed, how I progressed, the details can be found there.

That is one of the steps of my goal of next year, helping others, as they helped and help me. You also can help me by asking questions and giving suggestions!

Have a very happy end of year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Early morning stroll

I went out to stroll in Granada alone, very early, one day.

The sky was still dark, the streets with some illumination, not too much but enough to walk. The day came up slowly, but the sky was clouded.

I did not have a map but took always a street, more and more narrow going up the small hill, until, I found myself in face of a wall, where I could not go any farther.

A monastery or Alhambra's one entrance, probably.

It was cold and I was not enough closed, and when I begun to go down, I found a big hotel. I asked to sit down there for a while. They were nice and let me sit in the room with only the woman cleaning, an elegant sitting room near the entrance.

I took the Le Monde and read a bit French news and warmed up.

Then I went down, back to my hotel where for the only time I had a warm breakfast. After the breakfast, we went out together to stroll more.

Now back to the great city of London, I decide each day to go out, and then, remain in the warmth of my apartment. Yesterday I did stroll a bit, but today, yes it is great to be home too.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I missed the red buses!

Happy to be "home" again, I did miss the red busses!

The snow melted here, the rain stopped, it was a mild and nice Boxing day.

But I did not know that ALL the shops will be closed and I will not be able to buy something to eat.

Finally I found an Indian original familly shop open, and did buy a few things for tonight.

Perhaps, tomorrow more will be open, but as it will be the sunniest day, after the journal at least, I'll try to go to centre of the town. I had a great day, alone: I love to be with myself. So much to do and to think about too!


Gordon Brown speech at US congress

That was a speech he did excellent and showing he can. And he did got lots of standing applause for it, too. I looked at it in direct, but could never find it, till today, to show to others too.

I'll copy this in my London blog, or make a Toastmasters Blog, and put all the good speeches I find. Perhaps, he still has some strange mannerism when he speaks, every time he does make a point, but what a speech!

Of course, for me, his reference, at almost the beginning of his speech to Ronald Regan and "we will not leave the Eastern European countries out of the free world (or something similar) did it, and I almost cried then, and when I heard it today, again.

It is said to often, "Gordon Brown can not speak" this is an example for me, that it is not true, he can. He did it. And got by it me, and lots of standing ovations.

Whoever wrote this speech for him, was excellent, as I assisted to the Speechwriters conference, and know that most (all?) their speeches are written by someone. They have no more time, once in the office to do it. But I am sure, he did have lots to do with it. And he did deliver it, with, seemingly, only a few notes.

It is a long speech and one has to go through a long beginning (perhaps the first three minutes of applause and greetings can be skipped)but it is worth, every 30 or 35 minutes of it!

Anyway, here it is.

Today is my mother's birthday and my bigger grand-child birthday too. And, I think, in UK the boxing day?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Granada discovery a rainy day

Saturday 19 December, it rained at Granada when in other cities the snow was falling, but it was mild, not cold, and from time to time the rain did even stop.

I took lots of photos, discovered great wall art and beautiful, as well as dilapidated buildings, narrow streets and main boulevards, people and troubadours.

The light was wonderful in that closed sky day, the houses more colourful, the graffiti great, and more people in the streets, because of Saturday.

Today, I had pleasure to look at them, change some of them, even have fun!

Here are some of the images I took. Come and stroll with me.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Feliz Navidad

 Feliz Navidad
Season's Greetings
Frochliches Weihnacten
Buon Natale
Sarbatori Fericite

Boldog ünnepeket kivànok

The same festival, but as I did not understand spanish introductions, I do not know which of the University group of the District of Granada was this one.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuna del Distrito Universitario de Granada

This festival Saturday, was one of the hightlghts of my stay there.

Here is a small part of singing, music and dance taken with my tiny Sony ohoto camera. I wish, I had with me a better vido camera, which, I left at the hotel, alas. But even like this, I think you get a taste of it.

Other videos will follow, I have taken at least 20 of them, all different, all great quality spectacle, and all enchanted with them!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ceausescu, 20 years ago, for me 50 years ago

Yesterday, I was watching CNN, it showed some 20 years old pictures, when the Romanian dictator Ceausescu finally fall, was captured, and then, after a short mockup trial, shot with his wife Elena.

They did look pitiful on the screen, but they hold enorm power and they abused it so much

I was at Lyon twenty years ago and had difficulty of believing that they did indeed die, finally, and instead of being shocked I was releaved, after thirty years of being afraid of her him and their Securitate men.

Fifty year before, when I was 25 and almost Chemical Engeneer after six years work and study I met Elena Ceusescu, she was unknown yet, other then inner party circles, her husband not yet become the dictator of all Romania under the name of Leader of the Comunist party.

She came in, and wanted to take my desk where I have worked for three years now, and as I resisted she become histerical, even more when I dared to tell her to calm down. ¨"I will ask my chief to give it or not" did not calm her, but finally she went out without the desk but revenge in her head.

Next day I had no work and even the most menial one was denied for me from then on and next week I found out as "ennemy of people" I was out of university, no diploma either.

I was afraid to tell anyone what happened to me, until after twenty years ago.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Portugaise folk dance in France streets

During a festival in Argenteuil, near Paris, the people original from Portugal and their children, from different folk groups around Paris, came to dance for us.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Some comments from TED.COM

Marc Pachter has conducted live interviews with some of the most intriguing characters in recent American history as part of a remarkable series created for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. He reveals the secret to a great interview and shares extraordinary stories of talking with Steve Martin, Clare Booth Luce and more.
About Marc Pachter

Marc Pachter has spent his career curating and creating intimate portraits of the lives of others.
Comments bout the video published by me yesterday, from different people (I edited them and taken out also their names)

But my comment that I did not add there, only here, would be:
YES! the advantage of asking about their private, not only public personality mostly aged people, is not only that we care less now, once retired about the opinions of others, but, as he pointed out in his speech : we know how the story finished and can then begin to think about how we got there!

9 hours ago: While it took a while to get into this talk, I thought his key points at the end were very interesting, especially the summarizing comment "Everybody in their lives is waiting for people to ask them questions so that they can be truthful about who they are and how they became what they are."

I believe that this is true, and also that it takes courage to ask such questions. Ill certainly be taking that point away and thinking about how to use it to understand people better.

2 days ago: A direct question can sometimes be like an arrow through a frozen heart - it may break it, but happy is he whose frozen heart melts away.

5 days ago: This was a very interesting talk. Does anyone know where to find video copy's or transcripts of the interviews that he does? Thanks!

4 days ago: Looks like the best you're going to get is these publications:

Also what seems to be snippits of interviews here:

4 days ago: Indeed, they must have been recorded, being portraits and all. One might expect to find them at the NPG's youtube channel, but no. Come on NPG, you've been on youtube for almost a year now, lets get with the uploading! pretty plz

3 days ago: I was thinking the same thing myself. I can only hope that we are given the full episodes online, or even at the Smithsonian, soon.

3 days ago: It is so sad that something so valuable and interesting is not more easily to access. In this era of free information those documents should be easily available to the public... not to speak the schools.

3 days ago: This made me sad about all the questions I neglected to ask my grandfather before he died. It's a mistake I won't make again though: I'm calling my mother immediately.

3 days ago: Wow - this is arguably the most interesting, eloquent, inspiring talks that I have watched so far on TED. Once I got past the fact that Claire Booth Luce was a right winger (I don't know how I missed that) this speaker had me with his liberal definition of what it means to take and sit for a portrait! Now someone needs to interview him!

5 days ago: I have always viewed my father as a hero and, unfortunately, been unable to find the courage to interview him on his life and his image of self. As he's approached his waining years I've felt the imperative that I interview him growing strong.

Marc's talk not only reinforced the need for myself and my family to conduct this interview, but the empathic perspective and ammunition of questioning styles as well. As this holiday season approaches I look forward to an interesting series of conversations with my hero: My father.

4 days ago: I was a recruiter for a few years and interviewed people for tech jobs. You come to realize that when you are in a position to ask questions of others, you have the opportunity to open up another person's channels of thought. As this would pertain to their careers, there's a lot one can learn about themselves through the choices they make in their work, and how they verbalize it to others.

I really like Marc's point about applying empathy in questioning with your friends and family. If applied to young folks, it doesn't hurt to probe deeply and ask people of all ages to examine their life's story.

5 days ago: From this talk, I learned the way to ask questions is artful. You need to ask "right" questions which can directly touches and opens the interviewee' heart. Thank for sharing! : )

5 days ago: This talk had a huge impact on me. I consider myself a curious, empathetic individual. I exhibit my curiosity by searching for innovative, fresh questions. On the side of empathy, I feel that my EQ is exhibited by being able to understand how others feel and think and share these experiences with them. The overlap presented by Mr. Pachter is so important for us all to understand.

The questions I take pride in having asked tend to be memorable in terms of cleverness. But now, after watching this talk, I will focus more on the questions that unlock new levels of interpersonal empathy. I cannot wait to see what this new balance brings to me and my peers.

Thank you so much Marc!

5 days ago: At first I found this man arrogant and annoying (especially his frequent use of 'energy').
Then as I continue'd to listen I slowly changed my opinion.
Especially his examples helped me solidify the idea that this man knows what he's talking about. I realized that his message was worth listening to.
I'm actually really impressed by this man and we can all learn from his empathy and interviewing style.
As a society we don't listen enough to our elders...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Some of my books about Public speaking

Books for panorama-24
And those are not all! Some others are near my bed as I read and rearead them, mostly about Storytelling, which is also part of Public Speech in my opinion, and about which I am more and more interested these days.

I learned so much on the way of preparing for the next or after next speech!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My diary: 10 to 14 years old so far

I have published my diary, in French, from 10 years to 70 years old.

Now I decided to translate and publish it in English too.

Google Translate does the most of the work, not so bad after all, I am in awe! Then, of course I have to read and correct it, as much as I can, because a machine cannot understand some things and phrases. So far, did not understand either that I am a woman!

Anyway, I did add a link, now to this blog, having already put my first diary, from 10 to 14 years old. Was I right or not, you'll have to tell me, that instead of putting it by small chunks, as I did with the French, but alas, they come one upon the other, I decided to put more in one note.

Of course, I'll have to cut in chapters those who have a lot more text then the first one.

I never wrote day by day, but when I could or had something to express, also I never stopped, I still like to discuss certain things with my diary.

I also added in French and translated in English, some Memories, written just a few years ago, about things that happened or I went through and I did not write about at that time.

10 years old child, in the war under shells in Budapest: that is when I received my first small but beautiful diary.

At 14 I become adolescent and regretted not being treated as a child any more, in Cluj, Transylvania, I did not know yet that in very short time, we'll move to Bucarest, were my father begun to work, and that my life was going to turn again.

I'll continue to translate, next year.

What we learned already

The speaech and its transcript: Marc Pachter on -
Is it "entretainment"? we for sure can learn from it too!

Talks Marc Pachter: The art of the interview

Marc Pachter has spent his career curating and creating intimate portraits of the lives of others.

Marc Pachter is a man of many talents, and it seems he's used every one of them during his 33 years at the Smithsonian Institution. Although he has devoted most of his career to one organization, with the single goal of capturing the lives of great Americans, to do so he has played multiple roles. He began his time at the Smithsonian just after a five-year stint at Harvard, where he earned a master's in history and taught Colonial history.  Since that time he has served as acting director of the National Museum of American History, chaired the celebration of the Smithsonian's 150th anniversary, created the first national portrait competition, organized the first national conference on biography and created an interview program called "Living Self-Portaits" which earned him the title of Smithsonian "master interviewer."

In his final years at the Smithsonian, Pachter was director of the National Portrait Gallery Director, retiring in 2007 to work on his writing. Pachter has authored two books, Telling Lives: The Biographer's Art and A Gallery of Presidents, and is editor of several more. In addition, he holds an editorial role at the peer-reviewed journal Biography and was senior cultural advisor to the United States Information Agency for some years.

Interactive Transcript

Click on any phrase to play the video from that point.

The National Portrait Gallery is the place dedicated to presenting great American lives, amazing people. And that's what it's about. We use portraiture as a way to deliver those lives, but that's it. And so I'm not going to talk about the painted portrait today. I'm going to talk about a program I started there, which, from my point of view, is the proudest thing I did.

I started to worry about the fact that a lot of people don't get their portraits painted anymore, and they're amazing people, and we want to deliver them to future generations. So, how do we do that? And so I came up with the idea of the living self-portrait series. And the living self-portrait series was the idea of basically my being a brush in the hand of amazing people who would come and I would interview.

And so what I'm going to do is, not so much give you the great hits of that program, as to give you this whole notion of how you encounter people in that kind of situation, what you try to find out about them, and when people deliver and when they don't and why.

Now, I had two preconditions. One was that they be American. That's just because, in the nature of the National Portrait Gallery, it's created to look at American lives. That was easy, but then I made the decision, maybe arbitrary, that they needed to be people of a certain age, which at that point, when I created this program, seemed really old. Sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties. For obvious reasons, it doesn't seem that old anymore to me.

And why did I do that? Well, for one thing, we're a youth-obsessed culture. And I thought really what we need is an elders program to just sit at the feet of amazing people and hear them talk. But the second part of it -- and the the older I get, the more convinced I am that that's true. It's amazing what people will say when they know how the story turned out. That's the one advantage that older people have. Well, they have other, little bit of advantage, but they also have some disadvantages, but the one thing they or we have is that we've reached the point in life where we know how the story turned out. So, we can then go back in our lives, if we've got an interviewer who gets that, and begin to reflect on how we got there. All of those accidents that wound up creating the life narrative that we inherited.

So, I thought okay, now, what is it going to take to make this work? There are many kinds of interviews. We know them. There are the journalist interviews, which are the interrogation that is expected. This is somewhat against resistance and caginess on the part of the interviewee. Then there's the celebrity interview, where it's more important who's asking the question than who answers. That's Barbara Walters and others like that, and we like that. That's Frost-Nixon, where Frost seems to be as important as Nixon in that process. Fair enough.

But I wanted interviews that were different. I wanted to be, as I later thought of it, empathic, which is to say, to feel what they wanted to say and to be an agent of their self-revelation. By the way, this was always done in public. This was not an oral history program. This was all about 300 people sitting at the feet of this individual, and having me be the brush in their self-portrait.

Now, it turns out that I was pretty good at that. I didn't know it coming into it. And the only reason I really now that is because of one interview I did with Senator William Fullbright, and that was six months after he'd had a stroke. And he had never appeared in public since that point. This was not a devastating stroke, but it did affect his speaking and so forth. And I thought it was worth a chance, he thought it was worth a chance, and so we got up on the stage, and we an hour conversion about his life, and after that a woman rushed up to me, essentially did, and she said, "Where did you train as a doctor?"

And I said, "I have no training as a doctor. I never claimed that."

And she said, "Well, something very weird was happening. When he started a sentence, particularly in the early parts of the interview, and paused, you gave him the word, the bridge to get to the end of the sentence, and by the end of it, he was speaking complete sentences on his own." I didn't know what was going on, but I was so part of the process of getting that out.

So I thought, okay, fine, I've got empathy, or empathy, at any rate, is what's critical to this kind of interview. But then I began to think of other things. Who makes a great interview in this context? It had nothing to do with their intellect, the quality of their intellect. Some of them were very brilliant, some of them were, you know, ordinary people who would never claim to be intellectuals, but it was never about that. It was about their energy. It's energy that creates extraordinary interviews and extraordinary lives. I'm convinced of it. And it had nothing to do with the energy of being young. These were people through their 90s.

In fact, the first person I interviewed was George Abbott, who was 97, and Abbott was filled with the life force -- I guess that's the way I think about it -- filled with it. And so he filled the room, and we had an extraordinary conversation. He was supposed to be the toughest interview that anybody would ever do because he was famous for being silent, for never ever saying anything except maybe a word or two. And, in fact, he did wind up opening up -- by the way, his energy is evidenced in other ways. He subsequently got married again at 102, so he, you know, he had a lot of the life force in him.

But after the interview, I got a call, very gruff voice, from a woman, I didn't know who she was, and she said, "Did you get George Abbott to talk?"

And I said, "Yeah. Apparently I did."

And she said, "I'm his old girlfriend, Maureen Stapleton, and I could never do it." And then she made me go up with the tape of it and prove that George Abbott actually could talk.

So, you know, you want energy, you want the life force, but you really want them also to think that they have a story worth sharing. The worst interviews that you can ever have are with people who are modest. Never ever get up on a stage with somebody who's modest because all of these people have been assembled to listen to them, and they sit there and they say, "Aw, shucks, it was an accident." There's nothing that ever happens that justifies people taking good hours of the day to be with them.

The worst interview I ever did: WIlliam L. Shirer. The journalist who did "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." This guy had met Hitler and Gandhi within six months, and every time I'd ask him about it, he'd say, "Oh, I just happened to be there. Didn't matter." Whatever. Awful. I never would ever agree to interview a modest person. They have to think that they did something and that they want to share it with you.

But it comes down, in the end, to how do you get through all the barriers we have. All of us are public and private beings, and if all you're going to get from the interviewee is their public self, there's no point in it. It's pre-programmed. It's infomercial, and we all have infomercials about our lives. We know the great lines, we know the great moments, we know what we're not going to share, and the point of this was not to embarrass anybody. This wasn't -- and some of you will remember Mike Wallace's old interviews -- tough, aggressive and so forth. They have their place.

I was trying to get them to say what they probably wanted to say, to break out of their own cocoon of the public self, and the more public they had been, the more entrenched that person, that outer person was. And let me tell you at once the worse moment and the best moment that happened in this interview series. It all has to do with that shell that most of us have, and particularly certain people.

There's an extraordinary woman named Claire Boothe Luce. It'll be your generational determinant as to whether her name means much to you. She did so much. She was a playwright. She did an extraordinary play called "The Women." She was a congresswoman when there weren't very many congresswomen. She was editor of Vanity Fair, one of the great phenomenal women of her day. And, incidentally, I call her the Eleanor Roosevelt of the Right. She was sort of adored on the Right the way Eleanor Roosevelt was on the Left. And, in fact, when we did the interview, I did the living self-portrait with her, there were three former directors of the CIA basically sitting at her feet, just enjoying her presence.

And I thought, this is going to be a piece of cake, because I always have preliminary talks with these people for just maybe 10 or 15 minutes. We never talk before that because if you talk before, you don't get it on the stage. So she and I had a delightful conversation.

We were on the stage and then -- by the way, spectacular. It was all part of Claire Boothe Luce's look. She was in a great evening gown. She was 80, almost that day of the interview, and there she was and there I was, and I just proceeded into the questions. And she stonewalled me. It was unbelievable. Anything that I would ask, she would turn around, dismiss, and I was basically up there -- any of you in the moderate-to-full-entertainment world know what it is to die onstage. And I was dying. She was absolutely not giving me a thing.

And I began to wonder what was going on, and you think while you talk, and basically, I thought, I got it. When we were alone, I was her audience. Now I'm her competitor for the audience. That's the problem here, and she's fighting me for that, and so then I asked her a question -- I didn't know how I was going to get out of it -- I asked her a question about her days as a playwright, and again, characteristically, instead of saying, "Oh yes, I was a playwright, and blah blah blah," she said, "oh, playwright. Everybody knows I was a playwright. Most people think that I was an actress. I was never an actress." But I hadn't asked that, and then she went off on a tear, and she said, "Oh, well, there was that one time that I was an actress. It was for a charity in Connecticut when I was a congresswoman, and I got up there," and she went on and on, "And then I got on the stage."

And then she turned to me and said, "And you know what those young actors did? They upstaged me." And she said, "Do you know what that is?" just withering in her contempt.

And I said, "I'm learning."


And she looked at me, and it was like the successful arm-wrestle, and then, after that, she delivered an extraordinary account of what her life really was like.

I have to end that one. This is my tribute to Claire Boothe Luce. Again, a remarkable person. I'm not politically attracted to her, but through her life force, I'm attracted to her. And the way she died -- she had toward the end a brain tumor. That's probably as terrible a way to die as you can imagine, and very few of us were invited to a dinner party.

And she was in horrible pain. We all new that. She stayed in her room. Everybody came. The butler passed around canapes. The usual sort of thing. Then at a certain moment, the door opened and she walked out perfectly dressed, completely composed. The public self, the beauty, the intellect, and she walked around and talked to every person there and then went back into the room and was never seen again. She wanted the control of her final moment, and she did it amazingly.

Now, there are other ways that you get somebody to open up, and this is just a brief reference. It wasn't this arm-wrestle, but it was a little surprising for the person involved. I interviewed Steve Martin. It wasn't all that long ago. And we were sitting there, and almost toward the beginning of the interview, I turned to him and I said, "Steve," or "Mr. Martin, it is said that all comedians have unhappy childhoods. Was yours unhappy?"

And he looked at me, you know, as if to say, "This is how you're going to start this thing, right off?" And then he turned to me, not stupidly, and he said, "What was your childhood like?"

And I said -- these are all arm wrestles, but they're affectionate -- and I said, "My father was loving and supportive, which is why I'm not funny."


And he looked at me, and then we heard the big sad story. His father was an SOB, and, in fact, he was another comedian with an unhappy childhood, but then we were off and running. So the question is: What is the key that's going to allow this to proceed?

Now, these are arm wrestle questions, but I want to tell you about questions that are more related to empathy and that really, very often, are the questions that people have been waiting their whole lives to be asked. And I'll just give you two examples of this because of the time constraints.

One was an interview I did with one of the great American biographers. Again, some of you will know him, most of you won't, Dumas Malone. He did a five-volume biography of Thomas Jefferson, spent virtually his whole life with Thomas Jefferson, and by the way, at one point I asked him, "Would you like to have met him?"

And he said, "Well, of course, but actually, I know him better than anyone who ever met him, because I got to read all of his letters." So, he was very satisfied with the kind of relationship they had over 50 years.

And I asked him one question. I said, "Did Jefferson ever disappoint you?"

And here is this man who had given his whole life to uncovering Jefferson and connecting with him, and he said, "Well ..." -- I'm going to do a bad southern accent. Dumas Malone was from Mississippi originally. But he said, "Well," he said, "I'm afraid so." He said, "You know, I've read everything, and sometimes Mr. Jefferson would smooth the truth a bit."

And he basically was saying that this was a man who lied more than he wished he had, because he saw the letters. He said, "But I understand that." He said, "I understand that." He said, "We southerners do like a smooth surface, so that there were times when he just didn't want the confrontation."

And he said, "Now, John Adams was too honest." And he started to talk about that, and later on he invited me to his house, and I met his wife who was from Massachusetts, and he and she had exactly the relationship of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. She was the New Englander and abrasive, and he was this courtly fellow.

But really the most important question I ever asked, and most of the times when I talk about it, people kind of suck in their breath at my audacity, or cruelty, but, I promise you, it was the right question. This was to Agnes de Mille. Agnes de Mille is one of the great choreographers in our history. She basically created the dances in "Oklahoma," transforming the American theater. An amazing woman.

At the time that I proposed to her that -- by the way, I would have proposed to her; she was extraordinary -- but proposed to her that she come on. She said, "Come to my apartment." She lived New York. "Come to my apartment and we'll talk for those 15 minutes, and then we'll decide whether we proceed."

And so I showed up in this dark, rambling New York apartment, and she called out to me, and she was in bed. I had known that she had had a stroke, and that was some 10 years before. And so she spent almost all of her life in bed, but -- I speak of the life force -- her hair was askew. She wasn't about to make up for this occasion.

And she was sitting there surrounded by books, and her most interesting possession she felt at that moment was her will, which she had by her side. She wasn't unhappy about this. She was resigned. She said, "I keep this will by my bed, memento mori, and I change it all the time just because I want to." And she was loving the prospect of death as much as she had loved life. I thought, this is somebody I've got to get in this series.

She agreed. She came on. Of course she was wheelchaired on. Half of her body was stricken, the other half not. She was, of course, done up for the occasion, but this was a woman in great physical distress. And we had a conversation, and then I asked her this unthinkable question. I said, "Was it a problem for you in your life that you were not beautiful?"

And the audience just -- you know, they're always on the side of the interviewee, and they felt that this was a kind of assault, but this was the question she had wanted somebody to ask her whole life. And she began to talk about her childhood, when she was beautiful, and she literally turned -- here she was, in this broken body -- and she turned to the audience and described herself as the fair demoiselle with her red hair and her light steps and so forth, and then she said, "And then puberty hit."

And she began to talk about things that had happened to her body and her face, and how she could no longer count on her beauty, and her family then treated her like the ugly sister of the beautiful one for whom all the ballet lessons were given. And she had to go along just to be with her sister for company, and in that process, she made a number of decisions. First of all, was that dance, even though it hadn't been offered to her, was her life. And secondly, she had better be, although she did dance for a while, a choreographer because then her looks didn't matter. But she was thrilled to get that out as a real, real fact in her life.

It was an amazing privilege to do this series. There were other moments like that, very few moments of silence. The key point was empathy because everybody in their lives is really waiting for people to ask them questions, so that they can be truthful about who they are and how they became what they are, and I commend that to you, even if you're not doing interviews. Just be that way with your friends and particularly the older members of your family.

Thank you very much.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

round-table reading in Tokyo

From Sekihan, photographer, taken in a library far away.

Reading, I love reading.

That is why a few years back, the first group I created on Flickr was "People Reading".

People reading in different countries, different moods and surroundings, positions too, but most of the time, absorbed in the written word. So many people from all around the world!

Some things remain with us, all our lives, one is my love of books, connecting through a book with other people, the writer, the characters, and other worlds too.

I always looked at the narrator as to a friend to discuss with, not an authority to believe or fear. Often even writing my opinion and answers in the pages of the book. And some of the characters live with me as the people I met personally.

Internet, the World Wide Web, takes sometimes the same function for me, connecting, informing, entertaining too. I look at this picture from Tokio, and instantly Japan is no more a far away country for me, a strange place, but something familiar and warm.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Face painting art

The mother was invited to offer face painting at the Christmas selling fest. She did buy lots of different colours, paints special for small children, to be sure, no one can be hurt by them.

Home, they experimented, with her two children, days and days. More in the evenings, after school, probably.

The hour arrived. A special tiny room where it took place a bit more quiet that the bigger room where cakes and books and toys were sold. And song rose.

A few children arrived, timid, and choose from two books the motifs they would like on their faces. But it was not the mother, it was her daughter, of 10 and her son of 9 who finally painted the great flowers and masks on the faces of the others!

From 2 years old to 76, many of us come home with paint art on our faces!
Face painting art-19Face painting art-78
A great event!
From now, I will look differently to the art of painting on faces!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Books for writing

I did it to try out a simple panorama, and through it begin to understand a bit how it works.

Made with the panorama studio, who, unhappily put its name through the pictures as I did not pay for it. And will not do it.

When I used the flickrtoys, they did make me mosaics from my pictures, on low res, but without wronging my pictures. Now, after years, I paid them a year, even if I will not, or will use them to make hirgh res pictures.

There are elegant ways and less elegant ways of dealing with payments.

Anyway, I just wanted to understand how works stitching a panorama, here from two pictures. I looks a bit strange, and I could have done it with Photoshop elements, without the white band on it, but I wanted to try an "automatic" one, to see how it works.

I understand a bit more now about it.

And no thanks, automatic stitching is not for me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fog in London

It is only the second time that I find a fog as I always imagined London had, also, some say it is not a "real" fog!

This is only "mist"

But it is not a mist in my opinion if it stays, and stays.

Of course, I could see before my eyes and even to drive, but it does not mean it was not fog!

I do not know, how much I should correct or not the pictures taken, in bigger size one can "see" better what is on them, in small size, all seems "in fog".

I think, the fog gave my pictures taken today a dreamlike quality. So I did not go out for nothing!
Fog on the Heath-33

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A slope to slide

This kind of slide would have been great for sliding, in the snow time, when I was kid, many great memories about that time! We had a sloppy street not far away and no circulation whatsoever around it.

But we also did have snow, from end October to end March almost, as I remember, never melting at that times.

So I do like slopes.

This one is a long way down to Greenwich East, but well entertained. The park will be an Olympic site, ok, but I hope, they will not touch to the slopes!

I am not so well aware to live "up" the hill until arriving at the view, then I can see to slopes and roads going "down" toward the city and the Thames, not far away. That gives us at that point also a great view, and it was great even yesterday, in the mist.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Misty Greenwhich park

Lot of pleasure, today in the misty Greenwich Park, and even with the mist, what panoramas!

Some trees, but very few, have still their leaves on, they are even more interesting between all the other nude trees.

I took more then hundred photos, but did not have yet the time to look through them other then very fast to decide which I put first on flickr.

A bit tires, not of my walk, but because this morning I woke at four am, what did I do until two, until Klara came to pick me up for the walk?

I read mostly.

I received a new very interesting book by Doug Lipman, wich was in fact the first I think, at least about Storytelling, it is about how to Coach, how to help storytellers or speakers to prepare, to "evaluate", how to listen, be a "helper".

Just begin to read it, but like it a lot. "The storytelling coach" is its title. Reading it, I'll learn also to be a better mentor and evaluator at the Toastmasters club. I hope. And learn to listen, interrupting a lot less, alas, that is not my strength in private conversations.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rochester Rail station a year ago

I had a great day in Rochester a year ago when I went to see the Dicken's parade.

One of the pictures taken there, alas, for once not the one I did prefer, was taken and used for the article of Culture24 about me and my photographes.

It is always a joy, to discover newly, old photos I have taken, and to see how different each people reacts to some of them.

On my screen also, when I do not use my computer and do not close it yet, pictures of old times come up that I forgot even, causing me joy, but not even knowing how to find and catch them.

Here is a slideshow of the Dicken's day last year, in the order I have taken them.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I missed it almost

I already forgot about the interview, it was talking through gmail with Isabel, that I remembered it and looked for "Culture24 Julie Kertesz" and discovered it.

May I add it here? Courtesy to the writer? as he did with my photos? but at least, I do link it! alas, the photos there are not linked, but he did give my flickr address! thanks!

Talking digital photos with Culture24 Museums at Night Flickr photo winner Julie Kertesz

By Ed Sexton

Published: 24 November 2009

a photo of a large nose emerging from a pond

(Above) "Strange things can be seen in Luxembourg garden"

When photographer and silver surfer Julie Kertesz was announced last week as the winner of the Culture24 Museums at Night 2009 Flickr competition, it probably came as no surprise to her friends and online Flickr colleagues who appreciate the 75-year-old's talent for taking a good picture.

The Culture24 competition, which asked amateur photographers to snap away during a Museums at Night event in May 2009, resulted in some lively and striking photographs, not to mention a burgeoning Flickr community of its own.

But it was Julie's photograph of a young couple in the National Portrait Gallery which was voted the best photo of them all.

Taken during a whirlwind visit to the Gallery, the photo is just one of thousands featured on her lively Flickr page, Joy of Life, where Julie shares a love of photography which began five years ago, in 2004, when she was taking writing classes in Paris.
a photo close up of a carousel
"Nuit blanche à Paris"

"They said my French was not good enough and I should try photography where I didn't need the language," explains Julie. "I joined a class and bought myself a digital camera.

"I went to the market and took pictures of what was going on and spoke to people who were there. I would talk about myself and they would tell me about their lives. I felt quite lonely at the time so I really enjoyed the contact – even if it was just a few minutes."

Julie fell in love with photography because it helped her to express herself without using any language at all. Now she takes her camera out whenever she leaves the house.
a photo of medieval city walls and round roofed buidling
"York Sunday..."

She has clocked up 35,000 images on Flickr over the past 5 years, and thousands of people look at her photos every day.

"I find it hard to believe but Flickr tells me it's true," she says. "I love to read the comments and talk to people around the world. The other Flickr users really influence my work."

Julie started blogging in 2005 and found that Flickr was the best way to publish her photos. She is currently heavily involved in a handful of groups and also teaches on the photo-sharing site.
a photo of a person dressed in cream gowns and wig
(Above) Rochester Christmas

"I really like romantic pictures – people holding hands and leaning on each other. Sometimes people who don't seem that interesting at first see that you want to take a photo and begin to beam with warmth and suddenly come alive," she adds.

"I find my inspiration in pictures and paintings that I have seen and I think even without knowing I use things from pictures I have seen in my own photography."

Museums at Night 2009 also encouraged Julie to go out and explore more of the culture on offer in the capital.
a photo with a statue of a man looking skyward in the foreground and canitlevered structure in the background
St Pancras before Christmas

"I have recently discovered the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and have to go back. I went to see an Andre Kertesz exhibition, who I share a name with, at the Photographers Gallery, and they have some good things on show."

If you look at Julie's Flickr photostream, it soon becomes clear that wherever she goes – and she appears to travel all over the country taking photos of interesting places and people – she is someone with a natural eye for a good picture.

Peruse Julie's world on Flickr and explore the Museums at Night winners gallery.

All photographs copyright and courtesy Julie Kertesz.

The text I could copy, finally the images, I'll have to add: I did like the diversity they found and put it with my papers. And if you go to flickr, you may search by the photos title, if you wish, or even better, go the the place where the article is published and read it as it is on the Culture24 web site.

A special place

I found wonderful to offer such a place, for adolescents, under the bridge, in centre of London!

I could have stayed more, made more pictures, even so, I had difficulty to go farther on, also so many things are happening at south bank this days before Christmas and New Year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Today, I went to an interesting workshop, at Greenwich centre's Viewpoint gallery.

Beside an interesting exhibit, of a snowy parking lot in Czechoslovakia, with lots lots of huge snow, and some great show crystals too, and some great pictures taken just before and in the darkening blue hour, we went to take our own pictures, inspired by the pictures.

One textured pictures, as much as possible, around us.

I took reflections of blue sky and white clouds and early winter leaves and trees, others doors and windows and so on. Very interesting pictures and I could say, I learned as much from looking at them too.

I'll have to go out, next time, just before the "blue hour" arrives, to try to take a series of pictures, at that time, very similar pictures even not the same, with the background going bluer and darker as the time passes!

Coming home, I realized, I did take yesterday, some almost monochrome pictures. This part of paintings on the Wall under the Waterloo bridge, but also art build on the river bank from sand.
Great art, but really "build on sand."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Today I met Isabel, phtographer from Flickr, from Rio, and walked with her from Charing Cross station, accross the footbridge then along the Thames until Tate.

I specially liked the kids, playing and drowing under the Waterloo bridge.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Living with a story

Preparing a story, living it for days and days, thinking about it, writing it down then putting it aside and thinking more, embodying a story, gives me a lot more then "just a story to tell."

Most of the time, I understand more connections, understand more about myself too, then did at the beginning.

As usual, there is something with propels me to take up that story or that episode of my life. This time, it goes far into Archer's very political speech for the May's contest, and then, telling me last time "we do not do politics here", but also the Red Scarf so proudly worn by the nice Ukrainian woman, telling us how happy her childhood and the Pioneers camp times were, where all ported Red Scarf, like her showed us at the meeting.

Where is "my red Scarf?" - I decided to tell that story next time. No, not "politics" just a personal story of what and how it happened to me, personally. Will it please that to Archer, that is another matter, because we are too much sometimes in our own beliefs to consider anything else valid.

No, it will be not about the Iron Curtain having lifted up 20 years ago, as I wanted to speak, nor the fall of the Berlin wall, just a bit of the life of some youngsters, in fact two young girls, one 16 the other 8, in Socialist's Bucarestl: "to everyone what she deserves" as they pretended and I did believe we'll all have.
"One night, after as usual I went to bed, with the portrait of Lenin across my bed and the books of Marx, Engels, Lenine and Stalin over my head, just a few hours later, I woke up, to some noise. Heavy boots seemed to be walking in our usually very quiet living room. Am I dreaming? I pulled the edredon tighter to my thin nightgown my heart drumming. What can it be? Then, the steps come toward my room's door."
That is how the story will begin, I think.

I am still working on it, and day by day I understand more of the meanings it conveys to me, perhaps, to others too, way beyond the incidents that provoked its creation and telling. I do understand mostly about why, now, helping one from time to time, is the important thing for me, not changing the whole world.

And of course, when the story will be ready and ripe, and I'll find my Dictaphone or buy a new one, tell it, I'll put it here to so those of you who want, can listen to it. For the moment, it is too long, and even more important I have to let it "ripe" a bit more. To take from it all it can offer me, and to others.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fall's end after rain, Panoramas

This month is Panormas, on my Afterclass group.

I hope, I'll learn a lot in this week.

This one is done very easy: I just cut the parts that were not useful.

But there are so many more sophisticated ways to do it.

It still rains outside, yesterday as we prepared to go out for a walk, it even poured. Later, I wanted to go out: my car did not start.

It is good for what?

Telling me not to count on my car the day I want to travel early in the morning, catching a plane. Yes, every weather or problem can lead to something good. Almost all do.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

7 days in Marocco

 That was about two years ago, going with a bus from place to place, market to market, village and city. I took photos and showed them with a popular marrocan music I bought there in the background.

Why this become so popular?

Web is an interesting place. I can hardly believe that 33 500 people looked at this long slide show so far!

Perhaps, I will try to do another one, about my next visit, to Grenada. But even when "only" 50 people looks at some others, waw, it is great!