Saturday, January 28, 2017

Kaliningrad Oblast

While doing research on Immanuel Kant. The political guru – yes, how else would you refer to the 18th century German philosopher? J and L found something interesting in the area called Kaliningrad Oblast.
In the midst of a whole lot of countries - Geeez
It seems that Kant – the wise one, who is considered a central figure in the modern philosophical model, was born there. He believed that perpetual world peace could be achieved through universal democracy and international cooperation.
Sounds easy enough!
Nah, not really - that piece about universal democracy may become a stumbling block for most countries on this revolving ball through the universe.
We can buy into this idea - sounds happy.
Of course, he also utilized his so-called atheism for the ontological argument of God’s existence thus believing he (Kant) destroyed the whole idea of God. This concept was thus poo-pooed by Friedrich Nietzsche who said Kant was actually religious – being brought up in a strict religious household and was just trying to make an apology for the traditional Christian beliefs.
Nietzsche went so far to state: “Kant wanted to prove, in a way that would dumbfound the common man, that the common man was right: that was the secret joke of this soul.”
And how many times have we heard this one? Sound advice.
Okay – enough of the philosophy but sometimes that is where research takes the researcher.
How about the mention of Kaliningrad Oblast?
This blog is about the area located on the Baltic Sea where Kant was born and raised. It was once a German province but then again it has changed hands many times since the Middle Ages.

Home to the Prussians in the western sections and the Lithuanians in the eastern sections. The good old Teutonic Knights decided they wanted a piece of this sea coast and destroyed the Prussian settlement of Tvanksta and soon realized that name couldn’t stand since almost no one could pronounce it so they changed it to Konigsberg.
Yeah, that’s much easier than Tvanksta!
Anyway, as history goes,  the territory went through different peoples for hundreds of years – so much for Kant’s idea of global peace through cooperation. So, even though the folks living there were more Germanic than anything else, because of the Teutonic Knights, other countries fought over the real estate including but not limited to the Germans, Polish, Lithuanians, and the Russians - some of them more than once through the ages.
But we can't forget about the Nazi’s role in this piece of land.
Adolf Hitler decided in 1938 the area of Konigsberg should be part of the Third Reich. With that said he also thought the Slavic and Jewish populations should be eliminated. Thus started a genocide which nearly wiped these two cultures off the face of the coastal regions.

The round-up in Kaliningrad
After WWII and the supposed death of Adolf Hitler in his bunker in Berlin (there are many stories saying he fled in the last days of the Reich to South America and we do love our conspiracies) the land was now up for grabs between the big three victors – Russia, Great Britain and the United States.
Joseph Stalin won the debate and by 1948 all German speaking peoples were asked to leave the area - rather forcibly. Half the population went to the port and exiled themselves.

Soviet Union control meant 'Control'!

A picture is worth - what - everything

The Hell of World War II

Not much of the city was left after the war, but over the decades, it was rebuilt and people began moving back in -- not those Jews or Slavs or anyone else not wanted by the Soviet Union, but people did move back.

In 1946, the area was renamed Kaliningrad -- and thankfully, everyone can pronounce it!

It was rebuilt beautifully through the decades
The Cold War – where many countries threatened to destroy each other with bombs which would vaporize a human with a millisecond took place for nearly sixty years started mainly between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Luckily no one inputted the secret code.
Now this lovely province lies on the Black Sea unharmed and once again a tourist attraction for those living in Eastern Europe.

Modern days just laying in the sun on the Baltic

As with all stories this one is not finished – Kaliningrad is the only Russian sea port on the Baltic Sea which is ice-free all year round. Thus the reason the Soviets wanted it so badly at Potsdam.
But then again – J and L do our most never to get into politics.

Never does not mean never – a story is to not finished until it is done.

The story of Kalingrad seems never ending. Hmm, "The Never Ending Story" -- sounds rather catchy.

But wasn't there a film with that title?

Maybe -- but that is the true case with this gem on the Baltic.

The research continues and so does the quest for the truth.
A deep piece for J and L but wouldn’t Kant demand that?

Philosophically that is.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Operation Scorpion

What if? That is one of the questions writers of all genres must ask themselves before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards).

What if? That's a good start...
 It's true that there are not always answers to every question one can come up with but with the premise of looking - delving into such a question as 'what if' gives the researcher more than ample ammunition in doing a good deal of looking for evidence.

A person can not write without wondering what they are writing about. Sounds confusing but in reality it is not. If we all knew the answers to everything then there wouldn't be anything to write or read. It is the job of researching to see if knowledge can be gained to satisfy the quest. Some of the answers are welcomed and some are not - but that is life.

That insatiable appetite for wanting more is what makes a writer, researcher, explorer and reader continue on their quest. To learn what they may not have known before.

What would be the reason for libraries or museums if that were not true?

As is the case of John's 3rd  novel, Operation Scorpion, being released by Black Opal Books on January 14th, 2017.

Operation Scorpion has been a long project that took years to research and write - each of John's works entails traveling to the locations written about and deep searching. As with our blogs we want our readers to understand that we, as the writers, are trying to deliver the best research and exploration we can - albeit with some humor and silliness occasionally. But it is important to us and hopefully to you also.

Author busy researching his next work!

Though Operation Scorpion is a work of fiction it still depicts a sense of reality and what if questions. Would a rogue military officer truly hide nuclear waste under the very noses of his commanders? Would that same officer consider selling the waste material to terrorist groups planning harm to the United Stated? Would an ex-cop turned private detective accidentally stumble onto this evil mission and dissolve it while all the time being a patsy for a federal officer under ground?

These are the questions J asked himself while writing his newest novel. Hopefully the work will suffice in answering those same questions for the readers.

That is his hope.

Hunted - 2013 Black Opal Books
Soft Target - 2014 Black Opal Books
Operation Scorpion  - 2017 Black Opal Books

Thanks for reading - we truly appreciate it. J and L

P.S.: You can also see John's latest short story being released later this month at

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Along the road less taken
We had planned a easy, relaxing first day of the new year with friends near the water. We'd stayed up late the night before to ring in the new year -- something we actually rarely do, being early birds rather than night owls -- and thought we'd spend our day walking, talking, and taking it easy. Uncharacteristic. So, we should have known something would happen to alter these best laid plans...

John's Polar Plunge Victory Pose

First, John felt the need for a Polar Plunge wake-up. Exhilarating in 49 degree water temperatures. It seemed like a great idea until the fears of hypothermia started to set in. Well, at least John and his buddies were awake.

Next, as Laureen began to make preparations for our New Year feast, our buddy decided he wanted to go for a hike. Not relaxing, but a healthy way to start the year, so we were game. We even met some friends along the way -- not real talkative, but quite friendly.

A right down friendly gent

It wasn't any time at all before we had worked up an appetite for that feast we'd been dreaming about and as usual, no one was disappointed.

Walking off dinner, we were struck by a most beautiful sunset. There had been a brief rain earlier in the day, unusual in this part of the country, and the residual cloud coverage had made for a remarkable coloring in the sky. 

Watching the sunset, we noticed a "star" near the moon and the raucous debate began. Was it Mars? Venus? A satellite? The Russians? Laughter.

Hesperos and Eosphoros
Unable to leave well-enough alone: the research began -- we are J and L RESEARCH and Exploration, after all, are we not?

So here it is: Eosphoros is Greek for dawn-bringer. As Astra Planeta, gods of the stars or planets, Eosphoros and his half-brother, Hesperos were paired with the planet the Greeks called Aphrodite.

Enter the Romans. Aphrodite becomes Venus. Hesperos becomes Vesper. You remember your vespers -- saying your evening prayers as Vesper (Venus), so close to the moon, is the evening star. But as times and tides shift, and the moon rises and sets with Venus in a different Earthly perspective, Venus becomes a sign of dawn and morning, rising with the moon. And Eosphoros becomes Lucifer. Yes, the dawn-bringer is the Morningstar. 

Lucifer Morningstar - actor portrayal 
The Latin word lucifer means brilliant, bright or shining one, hence morning star or day star, even shining star through modern translations, rather than a reference to Satan. Even in the book of Revelation 22:16, Jesus is referred to as the morning star.

Appearing as a morning star, Venus, whose orbit lies between the Earth and the Sun, can be seen in the eastern morning sky for about an hour or so before the Sun rises and dims it. As an evening star, it appears in the western evening sky for about an hour or so after the sun sets before Venus itself, sets. At that point, it is the brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon, outshining the giants Jupiter and Saturn. And herein enters the mythology once again. While Jupiter and Saturn rise high in sky, Venus never does. It shines so very brightly, striving for the highest place among the gods,but has been cast down?

Lucifer is the light-bearer, the light-bringer. How appropriate then that on the first day of the new year we were fortunate enough to capture with our eyes, this fallen star shining brightly, a reminder that we, too, though fallen, burdened by guilt, politics, debt, depression, whatever has ailed us in the past, may rise up in the new year and begin anew.