Archive for January, 2009

Transcending the political

January 30, 2009

American politics isn’t just ugly . . . it’s disgusting. 

I suspect that’s true of politics just about everywhere, but since American politics happens just outside my window (figuratively speaking), I tend to notice it more.

Since I started this blog I’ve managed to keep my entries to “Thoughts” and “Candles,” and though I’ve been tempted to throw a few “Curses” out there, so far I’ve found a more productive use of my energy.

With some difficulty, I’m going to try and keep doing that today too.

As I once observed to someone with dramatically different political views that I, it’s difficult to convince most people there might be something wrong with their livelihood, and it’s even harder for most people to act in a way that threatens their livelihood.  If one political party sees something that strengthens the other, they are going to tend to attack it without apology or remorse because their livelihood is at stake.  Frequently people suffer in the crossfire as the sides wrangle, which is why I call it disgusting, but it’s not particularly unusual.  Nor is it unusual for pundits whose livelihood depends on being heard via radio, television, etc. to fan the flames because they earn their bread by being obnoxious and aggressive in their opinions, but even so I have to wonder exactly at what point the United States of America officially became just “The States.” 

Bottom line people, you want to stop the leaks in the ship of state, you HAVE to work together and return to the idea of “Hanging together or hang separately,” . . . or you could just keep fighting and bickering over your territory, your labels, and your fears because that is OBVIOUSLY working so well.

Your call . . . that’s why they call it democracy, you know.

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A scientific warning

January 29, 2009

Recently, after years of research, and with literally THOUSANDS of years of case studies to back up the results, science has concluded that you can eat (or not eat) whatever you wish, just like you can drink (or not drink) whatever you wish.  In the end, death remains the inevitable result in every case studied so far.

I’ll keep you posted if that changes.

More airport saga

January 28, 2009

It shouldn’t come as any surprise out there that when I agreed to drop someone OFF at the airport the other day, I ALSO agreed to pick them up when they got back.

They’ve been trying to get a flight out since nine this morning, actually ARRIVED at six this evening, and spent WAY too much time in an airport for a flight that only took about two hours.

But at least I always knew the status of their flight, so . . . as a public service, please allow me to present to you http://flightaware.com.

Because it helps.

Rest in Peace, Rabbit

January 27, 2009

I read today that John Updike had died.

Some people deeply admired his work, other people passionately despised it, but as I read the article about his death, I noticed in particular one word:

“Iconic.”

I think there’s a description that both sides can agree on.

I know time was saved . . .

January 26, 2009

. . . it just wasn’t mine!

Suffice it to say that it remains a source of wonder to me how much of an all day event it can be to get someone else to their midafternoon flight. 

So today’s topic is airline flights (also a source of wonder for me, just a different type of wonder than when I was a kid), and in the words of Paul Theroux:

“You define a good flight by negatives: you didn’t get hijacked, you didn’t crash, you didn’t throw up, you weren’t late, you weren’t nauseated by the food. So you are grateful.”

He’s right.

I’m just not sure he SHOULD be.

Quick Followup

January 23, 2009

And now I see the Pope officially has his own YouTube channel.

The times they be a changin’.

In other news . . .

January 23, 2009

(In an effort to not focus on the “What have I gotten myself into?” feeling I’ve got now that I’ve publicly challenged myself, here’s something completely different.)

No matter who the current pontiff is, I don’t always see eye to eye with the Pope (I’m sure he’s not losing any sleep over it though), but I have to admit that this time I’m impressed.  Pope Benedict XVI has stated that he welcomes as gifts new technologies like social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, recognizing they can foster friendship and understanding, but he cautioned they can also lead to marginalizing some people by excluding them, and actually interfere with real social interaction should digital interaction cross the line into obsession.

Wow.

If the man hasn’t actually BEEN online, then someone who advises him DEFINITELY has!  So this candle is for Pope Benedict XVI for his insight on a subject I wouldn’t have guessed he would have even been aware of. 

And while I’m at it, here’s another candle for all the people out there I know that find their digital world more real and important than the world outside their window.  Maybe they’ll notice the candle and walk away from the keyboard for a while.

Here’s hoping.

My challenge

January 22, 2009

As most of my work this week has been dealing more with “non-writing” business, I keep finding an idea coming back to me.  For a lot of reasons it took me a LONG time to write the damn book . . . not all of them good reasons either.  Yes, I was breaking new ground for me, learning along the way how to do certain things, there were various family emergencies, etc. etc. 

BUT there were also times like this week where other things chewed up my writing time, some were unavoidable and some (to put it delicately) were not.  At least as I write my second book I have a better idea of the REAL time involved in me writing a book WITHOUT it becoming an obsession and consuming other aspects of my life.  I’ve also gotten a pretty good idea what it looks like when it DOES become an obsession with me . . . and it is NOT pretty.  

Even so . . . I envy writers who seem to be able to write quality work easily and quickly.  So long as I can keep a healthy balance, I want to be able to do that too.   So . . . I’ve decided to challenge myself.

Some authors out there seem to easily manage 2-4 books a year under various pen names, so the way I figure it, it should be within my capabilities to produce a ‘measly’ one good book in a single year.  With that in mind, if I give myself two weeks (one week for draft, one week for polish) to spend per significant component of a book (initial outline, introduction, prologue, chapter, etc.) and figure my target is roughly 24 total components (the damn book ended up with 22 chapters (instead of my original target of 18), plus introduction, prologue, and epilogue for instance), and taking into account some components will take less time overall meaning I have some cushion on the inevitable parts that will take more . . .

That’s 48 weeks, with 4 weeks left over for vacation, emergencies, overruns on time, overall editing/polishing/rewriting etc. (It’s the last part that makes my stomach drop, since that’s what took me so MUCH of my time with the damn book.  This time around I’m trying to write MUCH cleaner than I did with the damn book so I have less hasty scrawl to decipher when I go back after telling myself I’m ‘done.’) it sounds . . .

Possible.  (Though to clear, I’m shooting for the book to be completed and submitted for publication in that 52 week time frame, NOT getting it published in a year per se.  The publication process is on a different time frame.) 

But it wouldn’t be a challenge if I was sure I could do it, now would it? 

Entering into the spirit of the challenge, I’ll keep everyone posted of my status via the blog on WordPress, and via Facebook.

Current status is (even with the delays this week), I have outlined the book, completed the Introduction and Prologue, and drafted out chapter 1, but it remains in serious need of polish.  Even so . . . backdating this challenge to start at the first of the year, I’m STILL ahead of schedule, which is one of the things that makes it easier to start today.   To keep things neat, I’m giving myself until next week to finish the polish on chapter 1 WITHOUT losing any writing quality.

*deep breath*

Wish me luck.

Tweaks completed . . . for now

January 21, 2009

My computer seems to have been repaired without a hitch, and I’m done with my tweaking of the site.  I’m still not sure I am adequately conveying the “Eureka!” moment of enlightenment I felt as I made the transition from thinking of the book I was writing as “book” to the “damn book,” but the page I have up about that moment will have to do for now. 

As it has been said “After ecstasy, the laundry.”  In one moment everything about the way I was looking at the book changed . . . then I sat down to start editing it so other people could read it too. 

“After ecstasy, the laundry.”

Philosophy that makes you smile knowingly is the best kind.

WordPress site tweaks

January 20, 2009

My original plan was to, and I quote, “overhaul” my WordPress site this past weekend.  The bad news is that my plan didn’t come even slightly to fruition, which is why I’m working on it today.  The good news is that as I look at it now, the site doesn’t really require an overhaul . . . just a few tweaks like including an update schedule on the ‘about’ page because I’m chatty enough it’s not really reasonable to expect people to dig through the archives to find where I mentioned that.  I’ve a few more tweaks in the works (like creating a page summarizing why I call the book “the damn book” since there’s something else I don’t expect people to dig through the archives for) which may or may not get done before I run out of time today.

With luck I’ll get the rest done tomorrow, but I may NEED luck, because tomorrow afternoon my computer is getting serviced in the hopes of eliminating some bothersome glitches.  If that DOESN’T work, then I shall be sans computer until I can make other arrangements, so if you don’t hear from me tomorrow . . . at least you’ll have a good idea why.