Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Journey of Otelius Grønli

Back in 2005, I was at Ellis Island with my late mother, her sister, and my wife. We were attempting to use the data base there to find information on my great-grandfather Otelius Grønli's transit through that location. And we were frustrated that there seemed to be no entries related to his name. 

I don't know whether the database at that time was not complete, but, using online resources, I have now been able to reconstruct my great-grandfather's journey in considerable detail.

First off, a Norwegian database documents his departure.

So, we learn the following. He was born in 1884. He departed on October 27, 1909. His stated occupation was that he was a painter (maler, of houses, not art). He was 25 years old as he emigrated.

Now, Norwegians at that time didn't really have last names. His father's name was Hans Corneliusen. And so he was known as Otelius Hilberg Hansen. Grønli is where he was originally from. 

He sailed from Trondheim, Norway on the Salmo. This was a ship that only sailed between Norway and Hull, England. Here's a newspaper clip from 1909 advertising this route.

On April 7, 1917, the Salmo was sunk by a German torpedo.

Migrants who arrived in Hull, England took a train to another port, usually Liverpool, for their onward travel. My great-grandfather left Liverpool and arrived at Ellis Island on November 12, 1909. Here's the record entered upon his arrival.

 He likely spoke no English and just handed some American official his travel documents from Norway, which were entered with errors, Othellius instead of Otelius and Gronlil instead of Gronli (or Hansen).

But what really struck my eye was the ship he traveled on. The Lusitania!!!! The ship he rode on from Trondheim to England was sunk by the Germans, and then the Lusitania was sunk by a German torpedo on May 7, 1915, with 1,962 fatalities.

My great-grandfather made his way to Wisconsin. On November 28, 1912, he married Dora May Thompson, who was born in America to Norwegian immigrants. 

On September 7, 1913, my grandmother Marie was born. Sadly, Otelius passed away on August 22, 1920. He was only thirty-five years old.

He had left behind everything he knew to seek a new life in the New World. He had just settled down, married, and started his family, when death suddenly took him. 

But what is the measure of a life? 

Today, there are scores of people descended from him and Dora. We are hard-working people in all walks of life. But we carry a spark of him and his energy, passed down in the manners of our own immediate parents. 

And I know that Otelius Hilberg Hansen (Grønli) is proud of us all.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Made in Wisconsin: The 2014-2015 Wisconsin Badgers Men's Basketball Team

As I write this, Wisconsinites await something that has not happened since 1941--the Badger Men's Basketball team plays tonight in the National Championship Game.

I'm proud to have been born and raised in Madison, WI. I'm proud to be a three degree alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

And, win or lose, I'm proud of what this basketball team accomplished this season.

But I'm precisely proud of them because, more than most teams that compete at that level, a significant portion of this basketball team are actually from Wisconsin!

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm well aware that without the contribution of Frank Kaminsky (from Lisle, IL), we simply wouldn't be there tonight!

But note the following comparison of the teams. 

Of the sixteen players on the UW's roster this year, seven of them are actually from Wisconsin! Another five, including Kaminsky, are from states that border on Wisconsin.

Compare those facts to the composition of the Duke team we will face tonight. Of the eleven players on Duke's roster this year, only one is from North Carolina. And not a single other player is even from a state that borders North Carolina.

Bo Ryan may not have been born in Wisconsin, but he has lived and worked in Wisconsin since 1976, so we're proud to claim him too!

I'll add the final point that athletes at the University of Wisconsin have a graduation rate well beyond most schools that play at this level.

 Good luck tonight, gentlemen. Win or lose, you have made us proud of our State and Our School.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

April, May, and June Can Change Our Lives: The Three Month Productivity Plan of the Ancients Begins!

Join me on a Three Month Campaign of Personal Productivity!

Me, in Iraq, in 2004
Join me and others in an April, May, and June running of the Three Month Productivity Plan of the Ancients, described
in my course Fortune Favors the Brave!

I discovered this plan while serving in Iraq in 2004. After three months of incredible productivity, I found that it was harder to maintain my progress once back in America. And my research explained why.

To help people participate,
I've made the entire section of my course on this plan available for free.  Learn about the plan and then get ready to make positive changes to your life in just three months' time!

Using the Three Month Productivity Plan of the Ancients, you really can endure three months of intense effort, provided you know that after those three months, you will get a respite. 

I've decided I need to embark yet again on a very formal and intentional period of Three Months of effort in order to simultaneously finish some long standing projects and improve my language skills. 

And I invite you to join me on this campaign with your own plan for personal betterment. Knowing that others are enduring this with you at the same time will help all of us to stay on track with our individual goals. 

Our Three Month Campaign will start on April 1st and end on June 30th. For information on how to join or if you have any questions, email me at the address provided below.

Your campaign can be anything you choose. Perhaps it's starting to learn a new language or a new commitment to exercise and/or weight control. Maybe it's finally writing that novel you've outlined in your mind or anything else of meaning to you for your personal enrichment.

If you decide to join me in this adventure, I will share with you the details and goals of my own Three Month Plan and I'll be interested in learning about your goals as well. If you have an idea for your campaign and would like suggestions on what exactly to attempt each day, I'd be happy to give you my advice.

I'll be regularly hosting a Google Hangout for people to meet others in the campaign and give each other moral support. If you're not comfortable with a Hangout, we can still encourage each other by sharing updates on our progress through messages in the course or email.

Just think, three months from now, if you have devoted a significant amount of time to your goal on a nearly daily basis, you will have an amazing outcome! It seems like a long time, but it's really not. We will get through those three months together--one day at a time--by encouraging each other to stay the course.

I've added a downloadable calendar as a resource for our April 1st to June 30th Campaign. You can find it under “Additional Resources.” I have found that checking off the day from a physical calendar gives one a gratifying feeling of accomplishment. And soon you will see that there is light at the end of the tunnel as the checked-off days accumulate.

Again, email me at the address below and I will send you information on when the Google Hangouts will meet and how you can prepare yourself to embark on Three Months of effort toward your own definition of personal success and enrichment. 

And please feel free to invite interested family and friends to join us, even if they have not taken the course Fortune Favors the Brave. Have them email me at  
keith [at sign]keithmassey[dot] com 
and I will send them all the information they need. No purchase will be necessary.

We are just a few days from the beginning of the Adventure! I hope to hear from you soon!


Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Lost Last Words of Julius Caesar

An action/adventure novel set in ancient Rome. Sword fights. Chases on horseback. A race to save the world. Click to read reviews and learn more.

What were Julius Caesar’s actual last words when he was being assassinated? In this article, I will propose that we can recover them. They were heard, but they have been misunderstood for over 2000 years.

On the Ides of March, the 15th, in the year 44 BCE, Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of conspirators which included Caesar’s close friend Marcus Brutus. Many people have been taught that his famous last words were Et Tu, Brute, meaning “You also Brutus?” But this Latin phrase was only popularized centuries later by William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 1, Line 77). The Roman historian Suetonius tells us that Caesar groaned at the first blow but then said nothing. (Divus Iulius 82.2: ad primum ictum gemitu sine voce edito) But then Suetonius adds, “Although some have handed down that when Marcus Brutus was rushing at him he said kai su teknon.”That’s Greek for “You also, child?” (Divus Iulius 82.2: etsi tradiderunt quidam Marco Bruto irruenti dixisse: κα σ τέκνον)

Now, the scene must have been pure chaos. Whether people were part of the conspiracy or not, they were all likely shouting and rushing about in the confusion of the moment. And so,  there were people who didn’t hear Caesar say anything. And perhaps that’s how some would have wanted Caesar to die--stoic and silent in the face of death. Other people apparently believed they heard him say something when Brutus was rushing at him with a dagger. And they reported his words as kai su, teknon.

If one were to compile a collection of what people tend to say when under a sudden and unexpected physical assault such as Caesar was experiencing, we would not be surprised to find that, in such a shock, a number of random things might be said. But many would certainly respond to such an attack by calling out things to the effect of “Please, don’t do this. Please stop.” And we may also find that many people, fearing death, might turn to prayer in that moment.

I theorized that perhaps Julius Caesar, despite all the battles he had endured in his career, might, in that unexpected attack, respond in exactly that fashion. And if he were to do so, he might have been more likely to respond in his native language of Latin and not in Greek.  And so, I looked at the sounds of the Greek phrase kai su, teknon to see whether they might match, in some substantial way, the sounds of a Latin utterance more in keeping with what a person being stabbed might say.

First off, the final syllable, non, is the Latin word for ‘no’, or ‘not’. What if his last actual word was simply, No! The rest of Kai su, teknon seems to echo the Latin phrase quaeso te which literally means “I beg you.” But quaeso te can also mean, simply, ‘please’.
Quaeso te is attested in a prayer in the writings of the Roman playwright Plautus, who writes:
Apollo, quaeso te...   “Apollo, I beg you...” (Mercator 678)

So, let’s imagine in the chaos of that situation, Caesar has already been stabbed several times. Now his friend Brutus is rushing toward him with a dagger. And Julius Caesar, in shock physically and emotionally, blurts out, in Latin: . “ I beg you!  No!”

In Latin, what he would have said was Quaeso Te! Non!  

As Brutus was rushing to kill his own friend, people who understood the emotional impact of this act were predisposed to hear Caesar’s words as somehow a reflection of that moment.

And thus it happened that people in the crowd misheard  Quaeso Te! Non! as Kai su, teknon.  

In the end, we’ll never know. But I suggest that a reinterpretation of the sounds that were reportedly heard from Caesar that day can indeed be reconstructed into a Latin phrase that Caesar plausibly could have uttered as his actual last words.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

BOSCH - Must See TV That's Not On TV

As Amazon Prime Subscribers, this weekend we binge watched the new Amazon series Bosch (pronounced with the same vowel as in "gosh").

It's based on the best selling police action-drama novels by Michael Connelly. And since Mr. Connelly is a producing and writing credit for the Amazon series, we may assume he approves of this version of his character.

We had already watched the Golden Globe awarded Amazon series Transparent, and we were expecting to see the same level of award winning quality programming.

It wasn't the same.

It was a quantum leap better.

Don't get me wrong, I adored Transparent. I can't wait for new episodes.

But Bosch was something apart. It was transcendent.

Why is Bosch so good?

1) Titus Welliver

Titus Welliver is downright brilliant in the titular role. Expressive and yet reserved, he brings Harry Bosch to full life. He needs to win best actor next year at the Golden Globes for this role or there is no justice in the Universe.


2) The Writing

The dialogue throughout is just so real. The story advances as much through meaningful conversations as through the intense action scenes so well portrayed. Following some heart-stopping action sequence (and there are many!), never was I disappointed that the scene cut back to Police Headquarters, because I always knew that wickedly clever conversation would ensue.

3) Jason Gedrick

If Jason Gedrick does not win Best Supporting Actor in the Golden Globes, I will be stunned in disbelief. No spoilers coming, but he portrays the principal "bad guy" in the series. And he's just incredible in the role. 


4) Production Quality

If you have not yet watched an original series produced by Amazon or Netflix, dismiss any assumption that you are going to see something less than the quality of what the so-called major networks are churning out. Transparent proved that Amazon is in the production business to compete. Bosch proves they're in it to win.

Again, I am waiting for the second seasons of these amazing Amazon shows.

The only problem with binge watching Amazon shows like Transparent and Bosch is that I have no episodes of Transparent and Bosch to watch right now...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Learning Latin with Pope Francis - February 3, 2015

To visit my archive of Latin Papal Tweets, go to my main page.

February 3, 2015

I'm very disappointed to report that this contains a clear typo in the Latin. The gerund form should be convertendum, not convertedum. 

I forgive them. Indeed, as the post asserts, I am certainly a sinner. But when you put out the Pope's Latin tweet, you have a responsibility to make him look his best. I don't understand how this can happen.

Look, I'm Eastern Orthodox but I love this Pope. I stand willing to serve the Vatican as proof reader for the Latin Tweets of His Holiness the Bishop of Rome. Call me.

Literal translation of the Latin: We are all sinners. There is no one who is not called to conversion in his whole heart.

Here's how the Latin works:

Grammar Points
nom. pl. masc. adj.

we are
1st pers. pl. pres. ind. verb
sum, esse, fui
nom. pl. masc. noun
peccator, peccatoris
No one

(there) is
3rd pers. sing. pres. act. ind. verb.
sum, esse, fui
who not

is called
3rd pers. sing. pres. act. subj. verb
voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum; subj. in indirect question

convertedum (sic)
acc. sing. gerund
converto, convertere, converti, conversus
(in their) whole
abl. sing. masc. adj.
totus, tota, totum
abl. sing. masc. noun
pector, pectoris