Moments – When I saw the nuns… bang, the moment, period.

“When I saw the nuns, I thought it was an unusual group. I’ve never seen so many nuns together. That would make a nice shot. Then as I got close, it was difficult. I was being jostled. People were all around me. I have a Roloflex, and dangling. So, I had to be careful what the best shot I could get. It’s one shot I’ve always been proud of, because everything worked. Everything came together. And bang, the moment, period.” – Morrie Markoff

Los Angeles Times – A life in Pictures: 99-year-old photographer looks back

Morrie Markoff hasn’t been bored “one minute in my life,” he told LA Times columnist Steve Lopez. The LA-based photographer has raised a family, run a business, created art and cheated death in his 99 years – and captured much of it. Read more about Morrie: Thriving 99-year-old is right at home in today’s lively downtown L.A.


“If you love photography, shoot pictures. Keep shooting pictures. You’ll beging to notice a difference when you first started and two years later. Some people look, but they don’t see. Keep shooting pictures. That’s all.” – Morrie Markoff

Moments – Obstacle Turned into Opportunity


Sequin, Texas 2011 – In the fall of 2011 I was teaching four subjects in a Texas middle school. The one I enjoyed the most also offered unique challenges. That class was 6th grade fine arts; which encompassed visual art, drama and music.  I was so excited to teach that class because I love those subjects; the job was made for me.  My feet barely touched the ground, until reality set in.  It turns out that there were many obstacles in my way.  One of those obstacles was that I had nearly no supplies.   I was left agonizing over how to teach music without instruments.  I had no trouble teaching visual art and theater arts, using minimal art supplies.  For music I knew I wanted to have the students make their own instruments, but I was at a loss as to just how I would do this.  I wanted to build instruments that would be fun, unique and offer interesting challenges for this age group.

The answer came to me unexpectedly over Thanksgiving break.  I liked to relax on Sundays with a wonderful weekly TV show called “Texas Country Reporter” with Bob Phillips.  That day Phillips was interviewing a colorful gentleman who built cigar box guitars.  I had never heard of cigar box guitars before, and leaned closer to the TV, entranced by every word.  I had found my solution!  I spent the following weeks educating myself on cigar box guitar construction.  I built one and shared it with my students, who absolutely loved it.  The added bonus was that it offered a teaching opportunity to explore the instrument’s link to American history.

Unexpectedly, cigar box guitar building took on a life of its own.  After I left teaching, I continued to build guitars and sell them.  Some are even owned by performing musicians.  Ultimately, though, it helped to motivate me to pursue my dreams of creating art; both in a visual and a musical form.  I have gone on to reconnect with my creative side, long held dormant. I am growing as a musician and as an artist and crafts person.  I don’t know what is in store for me next on this journey, but it has helped me to meet some wonderful people, develop my creative potential and bring music back into my life.



Cynthia playing an original song titled “Just Trippin” one of her cigar box guitars, which was made from an Oliveros box – sanded, stained and steampunked.

Here’s the cigar box ukulele that Cynthia created especially for me with a maritime theme. More about Dinan cigar box creations at Cigar Box Nation and on Facebook.


Moments Contributor – Cynthia Dinan from  Sequim, Washington. She has worked as an educator, a luthier and now designs and builds custom cigar box guitars and ukuleles.

Taking a Year Off to Change the World? By Tori Pintar

“Take a year off to travel, work or volunteer abroad? The “gap year,” typically taken after high school and before university, is a long-held tradition in many European countries, and in Australia and New Zealand. But the tradition is unheard of in the United States. Author and committed traveler Rita Golden Gelman is launching a national movement to change that.

On June 20th, 2009 in Washington, D.C., Gelman held a brainstorming session with over 40 representatives of various organizations with gap year interests to discuss the formation of a national movement called Let’s Get Global. The project’s mission is to make the gap year experience an accepted and established tradition in the United States.

Let’s Get Global focuses specifically on international gap year experiences, with a goal of increasing Americans’ participation in the world community. Let’s Get Global plans to launch a public relations campaign to educate the American public about the benefits of taking a gap year. High school students and their parents will be specifically targeted. A detailed website will contain information about the programs available, the universities that support taking a gap year, testimonials of gap year alumni and their parents as well as information on funding. Integral to Let’s Get Global’s vision is that gap years be available to all high school seniors regardless of financial background. Let’s Get Global wants to find and create funding sources for potential “gappers.”

It appears that the Let’s Get Global project has arisen in a market ripe for change. America’s elite universities from Harvard to Tufts and Princeton already support their accepted students deferring admission to take a gap year. This Fall, Princeton will launch a new program in which 20 students will spend the year in service-oriented work abroad before starting at Princeton in Fall 2010. At the high school level schools have even begun to hold gap year fairs, according to USA Today.

Gelman and Let’s Get Global’s volunteers see themselves as an umbrella organization seeking to unite and intensify the gap year movement in the U.S. They believe that cross-cultural connections are the solution to decreased world conflict because those experiences develop increased respect and understanding of different cultures. “Connecting across cultures changes you, you’ll never be the same,” says Gelman. “When you sit in someone’s home, sit across the table from them and share their food, they’re no longer strangers, foreigner; you realize they’re the same as you. And you can’t drop a bomb on yourself.” For more information, visit Let’s Get Global: Crossing Borders, Sharing Lives.”

Tori Pintar for Ethical Travel News Team – July 2009. Reposted with permission.

To learn more, visit Let’s Get Global a project of US Servas Inc.