Currently viewing the tag: "decisions"

S. A. Andrée’s Arctic balloon expedition of 1897 was an effort to reach the North Pole in which all three expedition members perished. S. A. Andrée (1854–97), the first Swedish balloonist, proposed a voyage by hydrogen balloon from Svalbard to either Russia or Canada, which was to pass, with luck, straight over the North Pole on the way. The scheme was received with patriotic enthusiasm in Sweden, a northern nation that had fallen behind in the race for the North Pole.

Andrée ignored many early signs of the dangers associated with his balloon plan. Being able to steer the balloon to some extent was essential for a safe journey, and there was plenty of evidence that the drag-rope steering technique he had invented was ineffective; yet he staked the fate of the expedition on drag ropes. Worse, the polar balloon Örnen (The Eagle) was delivered directly to Svalbard from its manufacturer in Paris without being tested; when measurements showed it to be leaking more than expected, Andrée refused to acknowledge the alarming implications. Most modern students of the expedition see Andrée’s optimism, faith in the power of technology, and disregard for the forces of nature as the main factors in the series of events that led to his death and those of his two companions Nils Strindberg (1872–97) and Knut Frænkel (1870–97).

After Andrée, Strindberg, and Frænkel lifted off from Svalbard in July 1897, the balloon lost hydrogen quickly and crashed on the pack ice after only two days. The explorers were unhurt but faced a grueling trek back south across the drifting icescape. Inadequately clothed, equipped, and prepared, and shocked by the difficulty of the terrain, they did not make it to safety. As the Arctic winter closed in on them in October, the group ended up exhausted on the deserted Kvitøya (White Island) in Svalbard and died there. For 33 years the fate of the Andrée expedition remained one of the unsolved riddles of the Arctic. The chance discovery in 1930 of the expedition’s last camp created a media sensation in Sweden, where the dead men had been mourned and idolized. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of about an adventurer who takes unnecessary risk and the consequences.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the riskiest thing you ever tried and what happened.

Art Prompt: Hot air balloon

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of a doomed expedition and the lessons it teaches us.

Photo Credit: Eagle-crashed on Wikimedia


…destiny permits no one to continue in blissful happiness. Fate could not tolerate it. Something trivial, a glance, a word, a touch, could shatter a friendship. A love deemed deep and lasting was so fragile it could disappear like straw in the wind. –The Contessa’s Vendetta: A Novel of Betrayal and Revenge by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or poem inspired by a twist of fate.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when your happiness was shattered suddenly.

Art Prompt: Fragile fate

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a touching story about a twist of fate.

Photo Credit: masaru minoya on Flickr

wed papal conclave

A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a new Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope. The pope is considered by Roman Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church. The conclave has been the procedure for choosing the pope for almost a thousand years, and is the oldest ongoing method for choosing the leader of an institution.

A history of political interference in papal selection and consequently long vacancies between popes, culminating in the interregnum of 1268–1271, prompted Pope Gregory X to decree during the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 that the cardinal electors should be locked in seclusion cum clave (Latin for “with a key”) and not permitted to leave until a new Bishop of Rome had been elected. Conclaves are now held in the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story set during a papal conclave.

Journaling Prompt: How do you believe spiritual leaders should be selected or determined? How is that done in your spiritual practice?

Art Prompt: Papal conclave

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the intrigues surrounding one of the papal conclaves.

Photo Credit: Bendicion pio X.JPG on Wikimedia

Monday confidence

Washington State University researcher Joyce Ehrlinger has found that a person’s tendency to be overconfident increases if he or she thinks intelligence is fixed and unchangeable.

Such people tend to maintain their overconfidence by concentrating on the easy parts of tasks while spending as little time as possible on the hard parts of tasks, said Ehrlinger, a WSU assistant professor of psychology. But people who hold a growth mindset–meaning they think intelligence is a changeable quality–spend more time on the challenging parts of tasks, she said. Consequently, their levels of confidence are more in line with their abilities.

Ehrlinger’s research, conducted with Ainsley Mitchum of Florida State University and Carol Dweck of Stanford University, appears in the March edition of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

“A little bit of overconfidence can be helpful,” said Ehrlinger, “but larger amounts of overconfidence can lead people to make bad decisions and to miss out on opportunities to learn.” The researchers note that overconfidence is a documented problem for drivers, motorcyclists, bungee jumpers, doctors and lawyers. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Add to your character sketch. Does your character have a growth or fixed mindselt? What areas is he/she overconfident in?

Journaling Prompt: When are you overconfident?
Art Prompt: Overconfident

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about growth vs. fixed mindset and how that affect their confidence.

Photo Credit: Chris & Karen Highland on Flickr

Don’t be stuck thinking that there’s only one solution to your problem. –Communion of Dreams by James Downey

Fiction Writing Prompt: What options does your character have to solve his/her problem? What options is he/she not aware of? How could he/she become aware of them?

Journaling Prompt: What problems are you struggling with? What options do you have that might not seem possible. 

Art Prompt: Options

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell  your audience about the idea that there are always more options available than are readily apparent. Give them ideas for brainstorming more options.

Photo Credit: BK on Flickr

We’ve known each other since high school, where he and I had been close friends. Eddie went on to marry his high-school sweetheart, Olivia, a girl who had been my sweetheart as well. Secretly, of course. Eddie and I had met Olivia on the same night. We both liked her, although I suspected that I liked her more. As I had been working up the courage to go talk to her, Eddie had beat me to the punch. I had hated him for that at the time, but went on to accept it. Eddie and Olivia hit it off, although once, when she had been drinking, Olivia admitted to me privately that she wished I had asked her out instead of Eddie. –Silent Echo by J. R. Rain

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about jealousy of a best friend.

Journaling Prompt: What makes you jealous?

Art Prompt: Jealousy

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a humorous story about being jealous of a good friend.

Photo Credit: Markus Vollmer on Flickr

Then Brodar caught his axe and rushed upon Brian. Taken unawares the king nevertheless rallied his strength which in his day had been greater than that of any man of his time, and still only half risen from his knees he smote the Viking a blow across the legs with his sword. The other thereupon lifted his battle-axe, and smote the king upon his head, cleaving it down to the chin, then fled to the woods, but was caught the next day and hacked into pieces by some of the infuriated Irish. So fell Brian in the very moment of victory, and when the combined league of all his foes had fallen before him. When the news reached Armagh, the bishop and his clergy came south as far as Swords, in Meath, where they met the corpse of the king and carried it back to Armagh, where he was buried, say the annalists, “in a new tomb” with much weeping and lamentation. –The Story of Ireland by Emily Lawless

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a hero who leads his army to victory but dies in the process.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you had to sacrifice something in order to get something else you wanted more.

Art Prompt: Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about setting priorities and making sacrifices to achieve a large goal.

Photo Credit: Jakub T. Jankiewicz on Flickr

“People seem to have no idea how biased they are. Whether a good decision-maker or a bad one, everyone thinks that they are less biased than their peers,” said Carey Morewedge, associate professor of marketing at Boston University. “This susceptibility to the bias blind spot appears to be pervasive, and is unrelated to people’s intelligence, self-esteem, and actual ability to make unbiased judgments and decisions.”

They also found that people with a high bias blind spot are those most likely to ignore the advice of peers or experts, and are least likely to learn from de-biasing training that could improve the quality of their decisions. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story with a protagonist who has a high bias blind spot.

Journaling Prompt: What are some of your biases? How do you think they affect you?

Art Prompt: Blind spot

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about blind spots and biases. Give them some strategies to notice their own biases in order to root them out.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk on Flickr


A young man in one’s hotel bedroom is capable of being explained, but a corpse is always a hindrance. –Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

Fiction Writing Prompt: Start a story with the protagonist in a hotel room with a corpse. What happens next?

Journaling Prompt: What is the worst thing you ever had to explain?

Art Prompt: The Corpse in the Hotel Room

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a humorous story about a time you were embarrassed.

Photo Credit: Daniel Zedda on Flickr


Suicide is the third most common cause of death among American adolescents, and poisoning is the leading method of attempted suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unlike more violent methods, survival following self-poisoning is common, providing an opportunity to prevent subsequent suicide. However, little progress has been made in suicide prevention in the past 50 years. In fact, hospital admission rates for suicidal ideation and attempts by American children have more than doubled in the past decade…

Factors associated with suicide included recurrent self-poisoning episodes, being male and psychiatric care in the preceding year. Adolescents hospitalized for self-poisoning were also more likely to die from accidents than youths in the general population. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a suicide attempt.

Journaling Prompt: Have you ever considered suicide? What do you feel about suicide?

Art Prompt: Suicide attempt

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Teach your audience the signs that someone may be considering suicide, and give them strategies for handling the situation.

Photo Credit: Jason Kuffer on Flickr