Currently viewing the tag: "risk"

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On October 24, 1901, 63-year-old Michigan school teacher Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to go over the falls in a barrel as a publicity stunt; she survived, bleeding, but otherwise unharmed. Soon after exiting the barrel, she said, “No one ought ever do that again.” Before Taylor’s attempt, on October 19 a domestic cat named Iagara was sent over the Horseshoe Falls in her barrel to test its strength. Contrary to rumours at the time, the cat survived the plunge unharmed and later posed with Taylor in photographs. Since Taylor’s historic ride, 14 people have intentionally gone over the falls in or on a device, despite her advice. Some have survived unharmed, but others have drowned or been severely injured. Survivors face charges and stiff fines, as it is illegal, on both sides of the border, to attempt to go over the falls.

In 1918, there was a near disaster when a barge, known locally as the Niagara Scow, working upriver broke its tow, and
almost plunged over the falls. Fortunately, the two workers on board saved themselves by grounding the vessel on rocks just short of the falls.

Englishman Captain Matthew Webb, the first man to swim the English Channel, drowned in 1883 trying to swim the rapids downriver from the falls.

In the “Miracle at Niagara”, Roger Woodward, a seven-year-old American boy, was swept over the Horseshoe Falls protected only by a life vest on July 9, 1960, as two tourists pulled his 17-year-old sister Deanne from the river only 20 feet (6.1 m) from the lip of the Horseshoe Falls at Goat Island. Minutes later, Woodward was plucked from the roiling plunge pool beneath the Horseshoe Falls after grabbing a life ring thrown to him by the crew of the Maid of the Mist boat. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about someone who tempts fate at Niagara Falls.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the most dangerous stunt you’ve ever tried.

Art Prompt: Niagara Falls

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of daredevils at Niagara Falls.

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Lynne Cox made history by being the first person to swim across the Bering Strait. But her 2.3-mile (3.7-kilometer) swim was also notable because she crossed the border between the former U.S.S.R. and the United States. This was in 1987, during the Cold War.

Thankfully, she received a warm welcome when she finished the swim. A Soviet delegation greeted her, and both Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan later toasted when they met to sign a nuclear weapons treaty.

“Lynne Cox is known not just for distance swimming, but for swimming in unbelievably cold and open water,” Bier says. When Cox swam the Bering Strait, the water temperatures hovered around freezing (39°F, 4°C). Years later, she used her cold-water training to swim in Antarctica. –Six Epic Swims, From the English Channel to the Gowanus Canal by Becky Little

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of someone who undertakes a risky challenge.

Journaling Prompt: What is the most brave thing you’ve ever tried.

Art Prompt: Ocean swimmer

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of Lynne Cox’ history-making swim.

Photo Credit: US NOAA nautical chart of Bering Strait on Wikimedia

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Babette’s or Babette’s Supper Club was a supper club and bar at 2211 Pacific Avenue on the Boardwalk of Atlantic City, New Jersey. It operated from the early 1920s onwards and was sold in 1950. The bar was designed like a ship’s bow. In the backroom was a gambling den, which was investigated by the federal authorities and raided in 1943…

Though considered one of the city’s most upmarket clubs, Babette’s gained a reputation for hosting illegal gambling, prompting a federal investigation in the 1930s. There was a backroom at Babette’s containing card tables and horse-race betting, which was illegal at the time. The gambling den attracted the high rollers of the period; Astors, Vanderbilts and others from New York’s social register could be found in the rooms at Babette’s. Stebbins was able to protect his casino business by his connections with politicians and those in the legal profession. His niece Gloria Vallee recalled in 1980 that the venue was continually being raided by police, but they would tip her uncle off that there would be a raid, so he could protect his clients. The mode of escaping the police was to exit through a trap door in the horse betting room. This led to a staircase to the roof. The gamblers crossed the roof and came down another flight of stairs on the side of the building which led into the Stebbins’ home. In 1943, Babette’s was raided by the authorities and booking equipment was confiscated. Stebbins was fined several thousand dollars for facilitating illegal gambling. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story set in a back room gambling parlor.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about gambling for money?

Art Prompt: Gambling

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of Babette’s Supper Club.

Photo Credit: Viri G on Flickr

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A ship full of feverish passengers couldn’t land in the United States, which didn’t want to take care of ailing paupers. Many ships traveled up the St. Lawrence River to the quarantine island of Grosse Île, near Quebec City. In the summer of 1847, thousands of Irish immigrants crowded into the small hospital there; many of them died quickly, which freed up beds for the next round of sick people. Bodies were stacked high in the hot summer sun. Towns on the river would try to send boats to the next place upstream; no one wanted to keep these crowds of sick Irish. –Ryan Hackney and Amy Hackney Blackwell, 101 Things You Didn’t Know about Irish History: The People, Places, Culture, and Tradition of the Emerald Isle

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about someone who is dying to immigrate.

Journaling Prompt: What would you be willing to sacrifice for a better life?

Art Prompt: Immigrant

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the risks that modern day immigrants are making to escape danger in their homelands.

Photo Credit: Mortuary Crosses on Wikimedia

sat creation

This will be the beginning of a new age. Or I will fail. Again. –Interstellar Transit by David Williams

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the first line of the week as the starting point or inspiration for a scene, story, poem, or haiku.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a big risk you took that changed your life.

Art Prompt: Beginning

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Share a new beginning you made that involved a risk. Tell your audience what lessons you learned from the experience.

Photo Credit: Jeff Simms on Flickr

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The garrison of the Vellore Fort in July 1806 comprised four companies of British infantry from H.M. 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot and three battalions of Madras infantry: the 1st/1st Madras Native Infantry, the 2nd/1st MNI and the 2nd/23rd MNI.

Two hours after midnight on 10 July, the sepoys in the fort shot down the European sentries and killed fourteen of their own officers and 115 men of the 69th Regiment, most of the latter as they slept in their barracks. Among those killed was Colonel St. John Fancourt, the commander of the fort. The rebels seized control by dawn, and raised the flag of the Mysore Sultanate over the fort. Tipu’s second son Fateh Hyder was declared king.

However, a British officer escaped and alerted the garrison in Arcot. Nine hours after the outbreak of the mutiny, a relief force comprising the British 19th Light Dragoons, galloper guns and a squadron of Madras cavalry, rode from Arcot to Vellore, covering sixteen miles in about two hours. It was led by Sir Rollo Gillespie – one of the most capable and energetic officers in India at that time – who reportedly left Arcot within a quarter of an hour of the alarm being raised. Gillespie dashed ahead of the main force with a single troop of about twenty men.

Arriving at Vellore, Gillespie found the surviving Europeans, about sixty men of the 69th, commanded by NCOs and two assistant surgeons, still holding part of the ramparts but out of ammunition. Unable to gain entry through the defended gate, Gillespie climbed the wall with the aid of a rope and a sergeant’s sash which was lowered to him; and, to gain time, led the 69th in a bayonet-charge along the ramparts. When the rest of the 19th arrived, Gillespie had them blow open the gates with their galloper guns, and made a second charge with the 69th to clear a space inside the entrance to permit the cavalry to deploy. The 19th and the Madras Cavalry then charged and sabred any sepoy who stood in their way. About 100 sepoys who had sought refuge inside the palace were brought out, and by Gillespie’s order, placed against a wall and shot dead. John Blakiston, the engineer who had blown in the gates, recalled: “Even this appalling sight I could look upon, I may almost say, with composure. It was an act of summary justice, and in every respect a most proper one; yet, at this distance of time, I find it a difficult matter to approve the deed, or to account for the feeling under which I then viewed it.”.

The harsh retribution meted out to the sepoys snuffed out the unrest at a stroke and provided the history of the British in India with one of its true epics; for, as Gillespie admitted, with a delay of even five minutes, all would have been lost for the British. In all, nearly 350 of the rebels were killed, and another 350 wounded before the fighting had finished. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story where servants rebel.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about the “justice” meted out in this incident? Would you have done anything differently?

Art Prompt: Mutiny

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about Vellore Fort mutiny and the lessons it can teach us today.

Photo Credit: Vellore Fort moat, Tamil Nadu on Wikimedia

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The Jeannette Expedition of 1879–81, officially the U.S. Arctic Expedition, was an attempt led by George W. De Long to reach the North Pole by pioneering a route from the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait. The premise was that a temperate current, the Kuro Siwo, flowed northwards into the strait, providing a gateway to an Open Polar Sea and thus to the pole. This theory proved illusory; the expedition’s ship, USS Jeannette, was trapped by ice and drifted for nearly two years before she was crushed and sunk, north of the Siberian coast. De Long then led his men on a perilous journey by boat and sled to the Lena Delta. During this journey, and in the subsequent weeks of wandering in the Arctic wastes before rescue, more than half the ship’s complement died, including De Long. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about an arctic expedition gone wrong.

Journaling Prompt: If you had unlimited resources and time, where would you like to explore?

Art Prompt: Arctic exploration

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience of the Jeannette Expedition.

pony express

The Pony Express was a mail service delivering messages, newspapers, mail, and small packages from St. Joseph, Missouri, across the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento, California, by horseback, using a series of relay stations.

Officially operating as the Leavenworth and Pike’s Peak Express Company of 1859, in 1860 it became the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company; this firm was founded by William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell, all of whom were notable in the freighting business.
During its 19 months of operation, it reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about 10 days. From April 3, 1860 to October 1861, it became the West’s most direct means of east–west communication before the telegraph was established and was vital for tying the new state of California with the rest of the United States. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story involving the Pony Express.

Journaling Prompt: What do you depend on for your news? 

Art Prompt: Pony Express

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the history of the Pony Express.

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of the Interior on Flickr

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During the final deportation action of early August 1943, the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB) in Bedzin staged an uprising against the Germans (as in nearby Sosnowiec). Already in 1941 a local chapter of ZOB was created in Bedzin, on the advice of Mordechai Anielewicz. Weapons were obtained from the Jewish underground in Warsaw. Pistols and hand-grenades were smuggled in perilous train rides. Edzia Pejsachson was caught and tortured to death. Using patterns supplied by the headquarters the Molotov cocktails were being manufactured. The bombs that the Jews produced – according to surviving testimonies – were comparable with those of the Nazis. Several bunkers were dug out within the ghetto boundary to produce and hide these weapons. The attitude of the Judenrat in Bedzin to the resistance was negative from the start, but it changed during the ghetto liquidation.

The revolt was a ultimate act of defiance of the ghetto insurgents who fought in the neighbourhoods of Kamionka and Srodula. A group of partisans barricaded themselves in the bunker at Podsiadly Street along with their female leader, Frumka Plotnicka, age 29, who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising several weeks earlier. All of them were killed by the German forces once they run out of bullets, but the fighting, which began on 3 August 1943, lasted for several days. Most of the remaining Jews perished soon thereafter, when the ghetto was liquidated, although the deportations had to be extended from a few days to two weeks and the SS from Auschwitz (45 km distance) was summoned to assist.
Posthumously, Frumka Plotnicka received the Order of the Cross of Grunwald from the Polish Committee of National Liberation on 19 April 1945. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene about doomed freedom fighters.

Journaling Prompt: How far would you go if your freedom was taken away?

Art Prompt: Freedom Fighter

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the dramatic story of one of the ghetto uprisings in Berlin.

Photo Credit: Halibutt on Wikimedia

world war i soldiers

I don’t know how I can write it. Perhaps I can because I can’t believe it’s true. I want to wake up and have that wonderful feeling you do after a nightmare: it didn’t happen, it wasn’t real.
But this is real. Mogens came home this evening to tell us he has enlisted. He is now a private in the Third London Battalion, the Rifle Brigade.-Anna’s Book by Barbara Vine

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a young man enlisting for a war from the point of view of the mother.

Journaling Prompt: Consider someone close to you. How would you feel if he/she enlisted for a war. Write about your feelings.

Art Prompt: Going off to war.

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a touching story of a mother’s sacrifice.

Photo Credit: Mike Steele on Flickr