Friday, October 27, 2006

Permission to Make a Mess

I was just over to Karen's blog leaving a comment on her Thursday Thirteen where I confessed that I was panicked at the thot of the fast approaching go date for NaNoWriMo. I said, 'Only six days left before the starting gate and I don’t even have my shoes on yet.'

Well, I've just realized I don't really want to wear shoes and I'd rather not run on a paved track with carefully drawn lines. I want to run barefoot in shallow surf with the wind blowing my hair in my face so I can barely see where I am going. I want to listen to the stories the breeze exchanges with the waves and learn the wisdom of 'letting it flow' from them.

Those of you familiar with my guest posts on Write Stuff will know that I am at war with the Harpies of Perfectionism. What you might not know is that I have approximately twenty novels stuck in the planning stage with a couple of hundred vividly visualized characters stuck in notes and in my head where they are constantly chattering and occasionaly moping.

It seemed pointless to start another project. And I hated the thot of setting ongoing projects aside while I started yet another one that would probably just get stuck like all the rest.

This is my third year participating. I haven't won yet. In 2004 I reached just under 5000 words. In 2005 I reached just under 12,000. Both years I was distracted by daily events at the time. But what writer isn't? The most viscious distraction tho was my obsessive rewriting, editing, tweaking and researching of obscure information so I would not make factual faux pas.

Every five-year-old with fingerpaint knows that you have to make a mess in order to make art. This is what I need from NaNoWriMo this year: Permission to make a mess.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #4

Thirteen Things I enjoy besides Reading and Writing

1.Fine needlework

2. Daydreaming

3. Meditation/Prayer

4. Holding a sleeping baby--but its been a year

5. Laughing with a laughing baby--its been too long to remember.

6. Roller Coasters--but its been six years sigh

7. Watching kittens play

8. Watching stories on stage or screen in the many formats now available

9. Listening to Music

10. Walking in the surf--but its been five years

11. Bouncing and Jogging on a mini-tramp--but again, its been six years

12. Walking in a scenic park--but its been two years

13. Playing a variety of computer games: Puzzle, Logic, Strategy, Solitaire, Maze, Word

Links to other Thursday Thirteens! 1. Chelle Y. 2. ...my 2 cents 3. Caylynn 4. Kathy 5. Mama Duck 6. JO (leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Note: This is the third attempt to make my TT list. The first two were abandoned each in turn because they got too involved and were going to take too long to get in shape because of the amount of writing or research required. I was about to just give up and succumb to the need for sleep--I've been awake for nearly 24 hours--when I flashed on this idea because I was frustrated with how much time I had spent on this project and started considering the things I would rather be doing--other than sleep, read or write.

Because of this late start, I probably won't get to visit other TTs or respond to comments until late afternoon or even late evening Pacific Coast Time. I hope you all will understand.

At least I have a major head start on two more TTs, which will be a big help during NaNoWriMo :).

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A History Lesson From Our Edward R. Murrow

Last Thursday Keith Olbermann delivered another passionate rebuke of the president over the signing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.  I encountered it only late Saturday via the transcript posted on Commondreams.org.  This is the same way I encountered the one I blogged on a couple of weeks ago.  I have not watched MSNBC since they pulled Donahue's show three years ago.  I have watched CNN rarely other than by accident since they pulled Aaron Brown.  But after reading this second stirring commentary by Olbermann, I was prepared to go listen to him so I could at least learn the cadences of his voice and thus be able to 'hear' him speaking the next time I read a transcript.

As I re-read the transcript, The Beginning of the End of America, I began to notice there was more missing than the sound of his voice.  Knowing how television presentation works, I suspected that there had been visual images to accompany the short history lesson that followed the phrase, 'We have been here before...:  And in the case of the reference to the individual who had been silenced by President Wilson and subsequently ran for president himself--from his jail cell, I am ashamed to admit, I did not have a clue as to who that could have been.  So on Sunday afternoon, as I prepared to write this post, I went looking for a video clip of this commentary.  I immediately thought of Crooks and Liars.

Once there, though, I had to work backwards through several pages of newer posts to find the one for Olbermann's Thursday commentary.  I watched a number of video clips on my way.  When I finally found the one I went after, it was well worth the hunt.  I got much more than an answer to my question as to who once ran for president from a jail cell--Eugene Debbs, by the way.  I got much more than the ability to 'hear' Olbermann speak the next time I read transcripts of his commentaries.  The impact of the whole package--the video clips running continuously, the passion in his delivery via both voice and body language--brought me to tears.  Finally there is someone with a national platform who is speaking for me; who is addressing my most core fears.  The fear of being once again subsumed by a totalitarian groupthink; the fear of being gobstopped by the fear of unbearable reprisals for speaking or thinking from my center; the fear of being complicit just by dent of being American in atrocities on a par with the Japanese internment camps or the napalming of thatched hut villages.

For if safety comes at such a price...I can't bear the cost.  Life itself would be a shame too deep to surface from; a prison as dark and confining as a coffin.

I watched that video clip three times before I decided that I needed to go look for more.  Starting with the one for his commentary that I referenced in my previous post about Olbermann,'We Do Have Our Own Edward R. Murrow.''  I began by googling Olbermann and one of the first sites that I encountered was this one: Keith Olbermann.  He has a fan club!  And it was on this site that I found more clips and links to even more clips on MSNBC.com.  I spent the next several hours watching video clips of Olbermann.  Not just the special commentaries he started the last week of August but interviews he conducted on Countdown.

In the process, I became so immersed in the sound of his voice and its cadences that I suspected that I would not be able to write my own post in my own voice until I allowed some time to pass.  Besides, I had worn out my eyes and needed scotch tape to keep them open. Then on Monday, I began work on this post by attempting to collect links on my reading regarding the Military Commissions Act, which was what triggered Olbermann's commentary and mini history lesson last Thursday.  I can see now that the material I gathered on that belongs in its own post.  This one is long enough.  Besides, I have run out of time again.  I need to get ready to go sit with Grandma for the afternoon and when I get home I need to start work on the next Thursday Thirteen post and if I don't post this now, I will, once again, have zero posts between two TTs.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Harpy Shampoo II

 

This was my guest post at Write Stuff yesterday.  It is the third in a series on wooing the muses.  The first two can be found here and here  They have all been cross-posted here at Joystory too but I'm too lazy to chase down their permalinks right now.  Someday I'm going to put them in the sidebar.

What better technique for banishing the harpies and wooing the muses is there than music? I've never found one that was more reliable. It works on several levels. Most superficially, though not negligibly, it blocks out low level random noise in an otherwise quiet place. The louder you can tolerate the music and still think your own thoughts, the more surrounding noises will be subsumed by it. Unless, of course, it is loud enough to disturb other people who might come knocking on your wall--or your head, if they can't get your attention by sound alone. A good pair of headphones can substitute for lack of enough privacy to blast your speakers.

There are a number of qualifications: the music must be wordless unless it is a foreign language. Radio with its occasional commercial breaks and DJ banter is especially worthless for keeping your muse engaged. I mean, think about it. Imagine trying to tell a story to someone on the other end of a telephone line while someone else is chattering or singing unrelated verbiage into your ears. Most mothers will not have to imagine. So, I recommend classical, jazz and blues w/o vocals, instrumentals of all kinds. Operas are OK if you don't know the language they are singing.

A deeper level of effect can be achieved by matching the mood of the music to the mood of the story or scene on which you are working. Music is well known for its ability to induce mood states. Take advantage of that. Pay attention to the moods different pieces of music put you in and make note of them and keep a searchable index--a card file or database.

I discovered over time that it is best, once you have started working on a certain scene with a particular piece of music, to not switch to another one--even one evoking the same or similar mood. I did not understand this phenomenon completely until recently after reading novelist Robert Olen Butler's book, From Where You Dream, in which he talks about functional fixedness. This is apparently a know psychological effect that comes into play when certain objects or places (or sounds?) are associated with one, and only one, task. Engaging those things only when occupied with that task can condition you to instantly flip your focus back to the task at hand.

There are more ways in which functional fixedness can be achieved. But I will leave that for next time.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #3

Thirteen Things about Living With RP aka Retinitis Pigmentosa aka Tunnel Vision

1. I've always got a garden of bruises in various stages of bloom. No inch of my skin is safe anymore--from eyes to thighs and nose to toes and lips to hips and breasts to all the rest.

2. It doesn't mix well with being absent minded.

3. It doesn't mix well with being clumsy.

4. It doesn't mix well with an anxiety disorder.

5. Any light source equivalent to less than 100 WATT unshaded bulbs might as well be candle-light.

6. Wearing 3 pair of eye-glasses while carrying a white cane invites funny looks. Which doesn't mix well with social anxiety. But on the other hand, wearing dark sunglasses gives me a free pass to stare and observe people without seeming to and that is a plus for a writer.

7. Reading font sizes of less than 12pt on or off the computer screen requires magnification. As does the fine needlework which comes in a strong third under reading and writing in my favorite pastimes list. I suffer constant eyestrain because I insist on doing these things I love way beyond the first signs of distress.

8. Walking in unfamiliar territory feels life-threatening. Running? Which used to be forth on said list? Forgedhaboudit.

9. There are an amazing number of drivers and pedestrians who do not seem to know what a white cane means.

10. Every task takes more time and forethought.

11. Teamwork is difficult and takes a willingness on the part of all members to be proactive about compensating measures. My mother and I had to forego working together in the kitchen over a decade ago as I could not seem to learn to look before I took a step and she could not seem to learn to stop talking with her hands while holding a knife.

12. Dogs and cats have a quicker learning curve than people when it comes to learning to watch out for me. Iron ducks are another story.

13. Non-verbal communication cues are nearly impossible to keep track of since I cannot see the whole face of a speaker anymore, let alone any body language below the chin. My attempts to scan for it seem to make people nervous--I assume because my lack of eye contact gives a non-verbal cue that I'm not listening. Mostly I have to watch lips since I have 50% hearing loss as well.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Katia 2. Caylynn 3. Addie 4. Norma 5. Colleen Gleason 6. Chaotic Mom 7. K T Cat 8. Jane_of_art 9. crygibb 10. Kathy (leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

For those of you wanting to know more about RP, I linked the term Retinitis Pigmentosa in the title of the list to the Wikipedia article about it. There you can find more links and also a pictorial representation of a view with normal vision juxtaposed with the same view as seen by someone with advanced RP. I debated whether to answer the questions about it left in comments directly in comments or write a separate post. The latter wins because then I can controll font size and spell check. :) So watch for a more typical rambling style post about it in the near future. Now that I know there is genuine interest, it won't feel so much like whining to talk about it.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in other's comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #2

Thirteen of the bazillion books I have bookmarks in. Being of those which I've cracked open in the last month.

1. The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard. This is the only novel I am reading right now. Even I can read only one novel at a time. :) It is a novel of suspense with literary flavor as it address big themes like faith, trust, innocence and redemption. I should have left it for last on this list for if I don't put it down again right now, I won't get this posted.

2. What God Wants by Neale Donald Walsch. This is the author of best selling series, Conversations with God. He is a local, his home base being a few miles down the road from me.

3. From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler. This is a re-read actually. I read this last summer but am refreshing my mind with the advice in preparation for NaNoWriMo and a book review to be posted here soon.

4. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf. Also a re-read. It is a book that has had a lot of influence on how I thought about being a woman writer. I used to own my own copy. This one is checked out of the library in order to prepare a book review. I am re-evaluating Woolf's thesis and how much or whether I still buy into it.

5. God Laughs & Plays: Churchless Sermons in Response to the Preachments of the Fundamentalist Right by David James Duncan. I loved his novels, The River Why and The Brothers K. He also writes kicking nature essays with a spiritual flavor and environmental activist rants.

6. Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor by Joseph Campbell. Campbell introduced me to comparative religion and comparative mythology. He also gave me the framework of story which you find me rhapsodizing about here often enough. I don't feel that I took the concept from him and made it my own as much as I feel that he gave a name for something that I already intuited.

7. The Soul of Christianity: Restoring the Great Tradition by Huston Smith. Smith is another of the experts in comparative religion whose writings guided me through the turbulent exodus from fundamentalism onto the spiritual quest path I traipse today.

8. In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest by David A. Neiwert. I am reading this as research for a novel I am writing, in which the Patriot and Militia movements play a prominent role. I also use Neiwert's blog, Orcinus, as a reference. He is a journalist living in the Puget Sound area who has a well earned reputation as an expert on the rhetoric and activities of the far right.

9. Slam Dunks and No-Brainers: Language in Your Life, the Media, Business, Politics, and, Like, Whatever by Leslie Savan. The title about says it all. I love to read and think about language as much as I do story.

10. Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism by Eric Burns. Before the 2000 election, I paid very little attention to news in any forum; since then I've had a hard time making space for the pastimes and passions which used to occupy me. I've been thinking for over a year that it was about time I learned more about the history of journalism and then along came this book.

11. The Assassins Gate: America in Iraq by George Packer. A journalist for The New Yorker, Packer made four tours of Iraq after the fall of Baghdad. His reporting from there earned him an Overseas Press Club award. The story about how the gate guarding the green zone got its name is particularly telling of American cluelessness of the culture in the Middle East and of how much language matters in cross-cultural communication. It is a faux pas on a par with President Bush's use of the word crusade in a major address.

12. The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley. Essays by a scientist, naturist, anthropologist, and poet. His writing triggers awe and wonder for the subject of his focus and then for his talent as observer and word crafter.

13. Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story by Kurt Eichenwald. Being the story of the rise and fall of Enron based on many candid interviews with the principal players. Besides reading like a suspense thriller this story is informative about corporate culture. The main point I've taken from this story so far is that if all households in America could keep their books by the same rules as the big corporations we could all be billionaires. And I'm not talking about the blatantly illegal shenanigans Enron and others got caught up in. I talking about the rules made for corporations that constitute the envelope which Enron and other players pushed to the breaking point, bankrupting hundreds if not thousands of households on their way up as well as on their way down.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens! 1. amy 2. Susan 3. Shoshana 4. Tink 5. Skyelarke 6. The Mistress of the Dark 7. Kathy 8. Christina 9. Brony (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Book Review: How Bush Rules


In the closing pages of the 23 page essay, "The Radical President", in which Sidney Blumenthal both introduces and sums up this collection of his columns published between November 1, 2003 and April 27, 2006, there is a paragraph which sums up the Presidency of George W. Bush:

"Bush’s presidency has been uniquely radical in its elevation of absolute executive power, dismissal of the other branches of government, contempt for the law, expansion of power of the vice president, creation of networks of ideological cadres, rejection of accountability, stifling of internal debate, reliance on one-party rule, and overtly political use of war. Never before has a president shown such disdain for science and the constitutional separation between church and state. None of these actions seemed to be in the offing on Bush’s inauguration in 2001; yet they were not sudden impulses, spontaneous reactions, or accidental gestures. They were based on a deliberate strategy to change the presidency and government fundamentally and forever. And these decisions have deep historical roots."

This conclusion is supported by the evidence in the actions of the Bush administration as recorded and analyzed in these essays written for Salon.com and The Guardian as events unfolded. Presented here in, How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime, in chronological order, these short essays--each one delineating a fresh scandal, any one of which should have been the undoing of the administration and would have if not for the arrogant and shameless disregard of law, tradition, reason, and decency of a small cabal--read in rapid succession, set one’s head spinning with outrage over the steady relentless shredding of our national dignity along with our civil rights, our laws, our Constitution, our moral authority, our economy, our environment, our infrastructure, our privacy, our security, our schools, our middle class, our scientific competitiveness, our health, and our honor.

It is tempting to direct a self-righteous venom towards the power-grubbing perpetrators of the unprecedented traducing of all our most sacred values. But, in the end, that outrage is forced to encompass more than the small cabal, more than the ’true believers’ and loyalists who support or excuse their radical policies and egregious failures, more than the corrupt political machine that enforces party discipline, more than the propaganda machine that most of the American media has become, because, as the essays proceed one after another and the evidence contained in them piles up under their original datelines, one is forced to acknowledge that, in spite of all their efforts to suppress them, enough facts and reasoned analysis putting them in historical context did reach public forums to have put the ball in the people’s side of the court. More disturbing than the acts of this administration, which in aggregate serve to dismantle this Republic of ours, is the willingness of so many to sit on the sidelines and watch the ball bounce. For, as Blumenthal notes in the final paragraph of his introduction: "Ultimately, a people is responsible for its leaders. Bush’s legacy will precipitate a crisis over democracy that only the American people can resolve."

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Friday, October 06, 2006

We Do Have Our Own Edward R. Murrow

Crooks and Liars has the transcript and the video of Olbermann's lates commentary.  Go read at least.  Watch if you have broadband.

After calling the statements Bush made at three fund raisers this past week outright fabrications--statements accusing Democrates of preferring to wait until we are attacked again to take action--Olbermann goes on to express is outrage that, in the name of protecting our freedom the President is doing all in his power to shred our Constitutional liberties.

Olberman reminds Bush of his plea to all Americans just 25 days ago on 9.11 to work together in a new unity and then goes on to say:

You have dishonored your party, sir — you have dishonored your supporters — you have dishonored yourself.

But tonight the stark question we must face is - why?

Why has the ferocity of your venom against the Democrats, now exceeded the ferocity of your venom against the terrorists?

Why have you chosen to go down in history as the President who made things up?

In less than one month you have gone from a flawed call to unity, to this clarion call to hatred of Americans, by Americans.

If this is not simply the most shameless example of the rhetoric of political hackery, then it would have to be the cry of a leader crumbling under the weight of his own lies.

You have to watch and listen to it though to really get the full flavor.  The passion and fierce contempt for the hypocracy and blatant lies upon lies upon lies do not come through in the transcript..

Finally!  We have our own Edward R. Murrow.  But is it in time?  Will enough people listen and finally see through the veils of deception and stop letting this fearmonger terrorize us into shreading our Constitution, our dignity and our credibility?

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thusday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Joy

1. This is the first time I've done a meme and I'm sure it will show.

2. If it takes me as long to do this as it does most of my posts, it won't be Thursday anymore by the time I post it.

3. Stories are my passion. Reading and Writing them. Fiction and NF. Poetry and News. It's all story.

4. My office is my bedroom.

5. My bedroom is the guest room at my in-law's.

6. Said room is shared with husband and two cats on leashes so they can't get into the closet or out the door. (The cats are on leashes not hubby! LOL)

7. Cats stats: Gremlin is a female Siamese, Tabby, Abyssinian mix born in 93. She is a Geisha disguised as a cat. Merlin is a male Orange Tabby mongrel we rescued from the pound. He is an ox masquerading as a cat. When I take them outside on their leashes Merlin about yanks me off my feet trying to get to the next blade of grass while Gremlin prefers to ride on my shoulder singing invitations to the neighborhood toms. As soon as I get a digital camera I will share pics of them here.

8. I've been blogging for almost two years. Intermittently at times.

9. I just got a DSL and WIFI connection eleven days ago and have been on a click spree ever since, going where no dial-up ever dares to go. Sooooo many You Tubes!

10. I finish an average of 100 books per year. I start three or four times that many. I'm going to come in waaay below the average this year though if I don't re-learn how to close the lid on my laptop again.

11. Needlecraft--Needlepoint, embroidery and counted cross stitch are another of my passions. I'll share pics of my needlework once I have a digital camera.

12. Whether it is reading, writing or stitching I have a bad habit of starting waaaay more things than I finish.

13. I'm planning to participate in NaNoWriMo for the third time this year. If I reach the finish line it will be the first time. I would like to make the 50,000 word quota even if the novel is nowhere close to finished. To do that I will have to learn to let a rough-draft be rough. Is three weeks enough time to conquer a 40+ year nemesis?

Links to other Thursday Thirteens! 1. Tink 2. Skyelarke 3. MommyBa 4. amy 5. Judy Callarman (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here! I appologize that it took me so long to get your links added here. I will do better next time.)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


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So what can I do?

Just found this cool site So what can I do? They post suggestions for simple things that anyone can do to make a difference in the world. They also solicit ideas from their readers for future posts. So if you would like to see what you can do to improve your life, community or world, or if you have an idea that hasn't already been posted there pop on over to check them out.

Or even if you would just like to wish them Happy Bloggerversary as next week marks the end of their second year on the web.

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Hope This Works

Just downloaded a new  toy.  It's a WYSIWYG blog post platform that allows you to write and edit your posts and then publish them to your blog.  What I like about it--if it lives up to its promises that is--is the extra formatting options, including inserting pics and videos while allowing text wrap, strike thru characters and font color.  I especially like having the spell-check--at least if it works, I haven't tried it yet--because I have been unable to use the spell check in blogger without loosing the post I'm trying to spell check.  So I've almost always had to draft my posts in my word processor and then copy/paste them into the blogger platform where they then loose half or more of their formatting which I then have to redo.  This is such a hassle at times it makes me think twice, thrice and plus each time I consider posting about something.  I can't tell you how many post drafts I've got in word processor files that never got posted because I balked at the need to redo the paragraphing, italics, bold and underline.  Forget spontaneity!

So, I just tried out the spell check and it worked like a charm.

I feel right now like a tuckered kitten who is all played out, having gotten herself all tangled up in a ball of yarn--an endless string that loops and criss-crosses and weaves a web that enchants and lures.  Yes, I'm speaking about the web.  Ever since I got my dream-come-true--broadband with WIFI so that I can work any hour of the day or night from any room of the house or even the porch or yard--I've online every spare moment and then some.  Even In my dreams I continue to click the links.

So many times, I've been moved to blog about things I've encountered on the way but just hated to take the time to do it right and couldn't bear to throw a sloppy post out there.  I mean, I am a terrible speller.  Really terrible. A terrible speller with bad eyes and a compulsion to write coupled with a perfectionism that is equally compulsive--not a fix I'd wish to hex a fiend with let alone a friend.

Well, if this works, maybe I will be encouraged to post more often. Maybe even on a whim.

If you are reading this, that means it worked.  So I guess I better name the application and link to it:

Windows Live Writer

It is free!  At least it was for me.  I can't seem to verify that it is free for everybody and not just for an MSN member.  It claims to be compatible with several of the blogging platforms, including Blogger, Word Press and Live Spaces.  It appears to be able to switch from one platform to another for those intrepid bloggers with multiple blogs.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Painting Hate on Churches

Longview, Washington, the town of my childhood, is being plagued by scoundrels painting swastikas on a church pastored by an African American, a grocery store that recently hired a black person, and parks and playgrounds across a several square block area. This disturbs me on more levels than I can count.

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