Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #13

Thirteen characters from my story Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes which is part of my Fruits of the Spirit story-world, a multi-novel project:

1. Jubilee Faith Fairchild aka Faye Gardner. The POV character of this story which, though it can stand alone, is one chapter in the 'Faith' novel. A music teacher in her fifties. Has a habit of taking in strays. First it was cats--lots and lots of cats. Then it was people in crisis. Absent-minded and often anxious she wears on the nerves of her twin Julia. She is married to Inny.

2. Julia Love Fairchild. A physical therapist who once worked in a war zone and now is a high-school phys-ed teacher. She is strong-minded and often sarcastic with little patience for incompetence or hypocrisy. She glories in playing pranks. She bickers continuously with Wilma. (Julia has her own story in the 'Love' novel in the Fruits of the Spirit world.)

3. Wilma Grace Gardner. A high-school English teacher. She is a grammar cop in and out of the classroom. She a stickler for law and order. She seems hard as the steel color of her hair until witnessed in the presence of her twin Inny--especially after his 'bad trip'. (Wilma, too, has her own story in the 'Grace' novel)

4. Workman Innocence Gardner aka Inny. He was once a high-school shop teacher and an elder and teacher at a church until he was poisoned by an apple injected with an hallucinatory drug left on his desk by a student. He went on a bad trip that culminated in a years-long coma. Upon waking he spoke only in Biblical quotations. It was years more before Faye realized that the quotes were relevant to the moment and thus attempts to communicate. (Inny has his own story too. In the 'Innocence' novel.)

5. Mae Beatrice "Mae Bea" Morgan. A woman in her forties who has been making custom-designed rag dolls for decades. She also loves to play bingo and dreams of winning the lottery. She became the mother of Fancy at age fifteen.

6. Francine "Fancy" Morgan. A woman entering her thirties with a career as a country-western singer just taking off. She became the mother of Breezy at age fourteen but leaves most of the raising of her to Mae Bea. Her first hit, Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes, based on their life, was co-written with her daughter.

7. Briana "Breezy" Morgan. Just fifteen and already the mother of Brandy. She is angry and rebellious, flaunting authority. The father of her baby is a mysterious figure on a motorcycle dressed in black leather with a visored helmet who never shows his face when in public with her. Her hair is multi-colored and multi-lengthed with tinsel and beads braided into it. Faye discovered her extraordinary singing voice when she was five and became her voice teacher as well as mentor.

8. Cassandra Cosgrove. Childhood friend of Fancy. They once won a teen singing contest as a duo named The Rag Dolls. Now she is a highway patrol person who often brings people in crisis to Faye's attention. She often has dreams that seam to forecast the future but are given little credence by anyone--even herself.

9. Estelle Star. The stage-name of a woman who wanders in and out of Faye's and Julia's lives. She once acted in Shakespeare plays but now appears to be homeless. She appears ancient and communicates only through Shakespearean quotes. (I know her real name but giving it here would be a spoiler until I've written her story)

10. Mama Cat. She is the mistress of the house Faye is living in as caretaker. She takes in stray cats and finds them good homes--hence the nickname. Faye is also entrusted with the care and adoption of the cats while Mama Cat is on a mysterious quest. She pops in now and then (but actually not in this story where she is just mentioned in passing) and leaves with a litter of just-weaned kittens. (Again, giving her real name here would be a spoiler before I've written her story.)

11. Lawson "Brick" Travis. A policeman and scoutmaster who trains his scouts in search and rescue. He and his boys are instrumental in the rescue of five-year-old Breezy when she is stuck up a tree on a limb over a river with a kitten she attempted to rescue. (Brick is a major figure in the 'Love.' novel.)

12. Jerrica Holmes. A college journalist major who was doing an interview with The Rag Dolls when Breezy went missing. She stayed with the teen mother until the child was found and rescued.

13. Troll. Very tall--over 6 1/2 feet-- and mostly silent, he is Jerrica's cameraman. He filmed the rescue of Breezy and kitten. (I once knew his real name but lost it when I lost my note file on the Fruits of the Spirit stories. I'll have to rename him when I tell the story of Jerrica and 'Troll' who become a couple and travel the world making independent documentary films.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Tink 2. Rashenbo 3. Candy Minx 4. Chickadee 5. Jamie 6. Teena 7. Marcia

(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!


Friday, December 22, 2006


Echidne introduced me to Weffriddles in a recent post I just found Tuesday and now my brain is full of weird chants: Alf, I bet. The answer is waiting in the dark. 16 + 1. Google Eyes...

Weffriddles is not a typical riddle or maze game. Answers to the riddles advance you through the maze. But the maze is the website and the idividutal pages are the riddles. The answer to each riddle provides the url to the next level.

There is something about puzzle-solving that is so addictive. I love puzzles and riddles and puns and braintwisters. Partly because they usualy make me feel smart. You know, that rush that comes when the answer lights up your brain. I thought I was smart but now I feel stupid.

Echidne implied she was barely fazed before Batch 3! I was off to a roaring start when i solved Level 1 and 2 of Batch 1 in, like, 30 seconds. But then I was stuck on Level 3 for more than 4 hours!

So maybe I am stupid. I must be. My head feels like a brick it just knocked out of the wall!

Knock Knock. Who's there?  404.

And this after just two days. Well, just 16 straight hours. I haven't dared to go back since I ripped myself away Wednesday afternoon having reached Level 16 whose clues are in the form of mathematical equations of the sort that glaze my eyes and raise the hackles on my neck as though I am feeling the piercing gazes of three dozen classmates fixed on it as we all wait for that inevitable moment when the teacher, voice oozing with contempt or pity, commands me to hand the chalk over to someone who has been paying attention.

Maybe the math formulas are red herrings and the real clues are something else, somewhere else in the make-up of the page. In the text, in the title, in the text formatting, in the colors....

I can hope!

But how likely is it seeing how the creator claims to be an engineering student. And only 19!!  Yeah, he's probably the son of that kid in my sixth-grade math class whose hand was always threatening to wipe the light fixtures off the cieling like so many cobwebs as he vied for the honor of grabbing that chalk out of my sweaty hand.



Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fireflies in the Cloud: The top 10 most ridiculous products for babies

This is a must-see for about-to-be-parents. Especially first timers. But anybody who knows or has ever known a baby will be just as tickled.

Be prepared to laugh til the tears flow. And other stuff too.

This guy is funny. Check out the rest of his blog. I just blogged this post because it gave me the first rollocking belly-laugh I've had in a long time. I snorted!! and I don't snort. No, really, I don't.

I'm so glad I was alone in my room with the door closed and only my two cats to witness it. I'm sure it was that unattractive. It would have traumatized my mother to see.

HT to Rashenbo at Writing Aspirations for sending me to the site.

I think I may have finaly got a grip on the holiday spirit. I got to play Santa this morning with my Thursday Thirteen list. And now I'm doing a pretty good jolly. I'm the right shape. But I don't have a red suit. Will a red T-shirt do?


Thursday Thirteen #12

Thirteen Web Gems I've gathered for you.
From useful to fun. Either free or with a free trial.
Merry Christmas!

1. Chaos Manager 2 Besides To Do lists and other jottings, I use the notebook function as a clipboard for shuffling info between applications. Indispensable! Not to mention free!

2. Open Office Suite six gifts in one. Free and open source. Write is a powerful word processor and desktop publisher that can save in HTML and PDF. Impress with presentations and side shows. Draw and edit graphics including photos. Base excels at organizing data and generating reports. Calc manages money, time and tasks with spreadsheets, analysis and calculations. Math allows you to create and edit scientific and mathematical formulas. I can't use this yet but would like to learn.

3. WhizNote Organizer I used this for NaNoWriMo the last two years. It is ideal for organizing large projects like novels. This older version is free but it will probably make you want the upgrade. I know I do.

4. Literary Machine Similar to WhizNote in some ways but very different in others. You can store info in a less formal manner that almost seems disorganized but as the cross-linking among the data matures you will find patterns that inspire. It works with a creative mind instead of making it conform to a formulaic application. I was going to do NaNoWriMo with it this year but did not learn my way around it in time. This version is free but there is an upgrade that I already drool over.

5. Windows Live Writer Free. Can't imagine blogging without it. It lets me create hover messages for links. Be sure to check them out on all thirteen items here.

6. The Psychedelic Screen Saver Free trial. Have to see it to believe it.

7. Gnod. The Global Network of Dreams Free hangout with other music, movie and book lovers. Find out what else is liked by others who like what you like and you might find something new to like. Is that clear? No? Spend an hour or so on the maps and it will come clear. I, of course was especially fond of the literary map: Gnod Books

8. My Way Games No banners. No pop-ups. No kidding. Play most of your favs online for free. (Hint: For those on dial-up, some of the games will continue to play after you disconnect if you don't close the game window)

9. Pretty Good Solitaire Free trial. So many games! Multiple player profiles under which you can personalize backgrounds, card backs and favorites lists. You can also use a wizard to create your own games.

10. Moraff Games graphics are always candyland for the eyes! There are both freeware and free trials on this page. I am most familiar with, and thus wholeheartedly recommend, the mahjongg games--some of which are free.

11. Sokoban Free. You can push but you can't pull so watch out for those walls.

12. Jigsaw Puzzle Lite Free. Sure they want you to buy packs of stunning digital photos to turn into jigsaw puzzles and I would if I had the discretionary income for it. Meanwhile it allows me to input pictures from my own files.

13. Weffriddles. Free online riddle maze. Each page is a riddle the web site is the maze. Don't leave your mind behind. I just discovered this Tuesday HT to Echidne one of the blogs I haunt. Warning: highly addictive for anyone who is into puzzle solving. Um. I meant the game, not Echidne. Tho, come to think of it, if the puzzles you are into solving are sociological in nature, then yeah, Echidne is addictive too.

Finally, I feel as though I have done something in the Holiday Spirit. It didn't cost me anything but time but if any one of you finds half as much value in any one of these web gems as I have then I have given gifts that will keep on giving. If you fall in love with anything you find here, pass it on.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Chickadee 2. Caylynn 3. Cindy 4. Tink 5. Candy Minx 6. Rashenbo 7. Jamie

(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!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Save the Internet!

Why should net neutrality matter to you?

What if the rules of the road changed such that stop signs were manned by bribe-takers? Or the freeways were only for the rich or big corporations? Or there was a toll at every intersection and on/off ramp?

Still don't get it? Watch the video!

I spent the last ten days contemplating being locked out of my public library in 2007! It seems some are arguing I should be locked our of the Internet too!!!

If you are not someone who can afford significant fees to insure that your emails download in seconds rather than minutes, this must matter to you too.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Blah Crumb Blog

Tis the season to be:


anything but cheery.

I'm having a harder time than usual finding a holiday spirit this year. Could be because I've been sick since the evening of the 3rd. As has my husband since several days before that. We have two 30 minute windows of opportunity to speak to each other each day--just before he leaves for work about 6am and right after he walks in the door, whenever that is. In spite of feeling miserable and occasionally fevered, he hasn't missed a single day. And those days are ten to twelve hours long. Not counting the commute. And today is the sixteenth* of a planned 19 in a row. The good part is that puts him on overtime by sometime on Wednesday each of the three weeks. The bad part is that we can't do any Christmas shopping until the Saturday morning before Christmas and the beginning of the family's celebration starts that evening in deference to members who have other family commitments on Sunday and Monday.

This has essentially been the pattern each year since he got this job on the shipping docks of this major, seasonally-driven, national specialty-gift company six years ago. One of the perks is that we can shop in the company store with his employee discount that knocks off a significant percentage of the original 80% mark-up. Somehow this has always felt a little bit tacky to me. Maybe because the products are mostly of the kind that time-harassed executives pay assistants to select and buy in bulk to present to clients, colleagues, customers and secretaries as tokens of appreciation that may or may not, in fact, exist. Maybe its because I know too much about the actual contempt held between ranks, departments, divisions, and plants.

Then there is the fact that we continue to live with my husband's family after five** years and I question whether we should be spending the holiday bonus and overtime money on Christmas. But on the other hand, how can we not buy gifts for those we know are buying for us?

I would rather be a giver than a receiver and have often been ashamed that the things we bought others (with too little money split too many ways) were cheap and/or poorly chosen. I tried to rectify this after 1990 by making needlework gifts for at least a few each year. I lost over a dozen such projects and all of the accumulated materials for dozens more when we lost our stored belongings in 2001. That was a huge demoralization and the holiday season serves to remind me of that.

But even these challenges to the holiday spirit are minor compared to the ambivalence toward them created by the indoctrination against them that was an integral part of my childhood. We were taught that all 'keeping of days' was pagan, including birthdays and modern remembrance days. Whenever such days afforded time off from work, our assemblies would assemble for Bible Conferences or Youth Camps. We didn't decorate or exchange gifts and we spoke with pity or scorn of those who did.

I married into a family who does celebrate the holidays. It was important to my husband and because the dictum that a wife submit to her husband was stronger than the one against 'keeping special days' I went along though my spirit always lagged. Shame and guilt would often plague the lead-up and let-down for each holiday. I consciously repudiated the teachings against holidays several years before I broke with the fundamentalist doctrines entirely. I gave my full blessing to having a Christmas tree and decorating for the holidays for the first time in 1992. Before that my husband had deferred to my sensibilities. Since then, I continue to struggle with the sense that the 'bad' things that happen are 'chastisements from the Lord' because I did not 'keep the faith'. Half the time I feel shame and guilt over it. The other half I feel angry that I feel that way. Either way, there isn't much room for the Holiday Spirit.

* I started writing this last week when it was the 'tenth' day.

** Updated to correct. August 2001 to present equals five not six years. Must have been a bad day when I wrote that line!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #11

Thirteen Things I can do to compensate if Jackson County Library Services shuts its doors:

Read the books I own, neglected in favor of library book due dates:.

1. Of the backpack full of books that I managed to bring with me when we fled the Silicon Valley streets in August 2001, I have yet to finish at least 50% of those which are not primarily reference books.

2. There are a couple dozen books that I picked up cheap over the last six years or were given to me by those who took pity.. A few of them are even novels.

3. There is the 1999 World Book Encyclopedia set which I bought from the library at $1 per volume. Sure some info would be dated but not a very high percentage. I used to love to read encyclopedias and the World Book was my favorite from an early age. Which is why I bought this set in 2005 by dipping into the funds I was saving for my laptop. The drawback is that I always ever used encyclopedias as curiosity wetters, a jumping off place--anything that grabbed more than momentary attention sent me running to the library card catalog.

4. The creme de la creme is the Britannica Great Books set, also bought at $1 per volume from a library book sale. In this case it wasn't pre-owned by the library but donated by a patron who had never taken the shrink-wrap off more than ten of the volumes. We used to own the set and I got hooked on the Syntopicon which indexes the Great Ideas of several millennia of literature and allows you to follow the centuries-long dialog/debate on a great many topics. I bought this a week or two after the World Book set out of the same funds. The major justification was the use I had been making of them since 86 to inform a major fiction project (multi-volume) whose theme is the fruits of the Spirit.

Read the books loaned to me:

5. I borrowed a couple dozen books from my Dad's library after his passing last year. They are mostly from the fundamentalist/dispensational viewpoint. I wanted them for reference for the same Fruits of the Spirit fiction project which is concerned with contrasting dogma and piety with the actual behaviors of individuals rooted firmly in the fruits of the Spirit. I haven't looked at these books much since I brought them home. It has been too painful on too many levels. I'm still not sure I'm ready.

6. My niece loaned me the first 12 volumes of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Harry Potter and The Half-blood Prince last July and I've only read the first three Lemony Snicket's.

Make better use of the Internet:

7. Read the free e-books I have downloaded and go after more. A lot of classical fiction is available this way.

8. Explore the web for more free resources. College and University sites are one good jumping-off point. I've been collecting them in my favs for years but not making much use of them. It is the personal pages of professors that are often a goldmine.

9. Use the free resources I've found online to study HTML and Webmistressing--design, managing and promotion--and turn Joystory, Joywrite and Joyread into the awesome sites they were in my first dreaming of them. All three currently fall seriously short of my aspirations.

Write more:

10. Write more stories. (the fiction in my collection--not counting that in the Great Books set--won't last more than three months so I would have to write my own stories to get my fiction fixes)

11. Post more regularly to Joystory, Joywrite and Joyread.

12. Return to the serious journaling and writing exercises that were often the source of insight and fodder for my more formal writing--fiction, personal essays and poetry.


13. Get more balance by increasing activities unrelated to reading and writing: fine needlework; meditation--a creativity stimulant among other things; daydreaming--the wellspring of my stories which must be primed months if not years before a word is committed to paper or screen; mentally stimulating games; listening to music--another creativity stimulant; walking--something will have to replace my weekly trek to the library if I'm not to become bed-bug fodder!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Tink 2. Rashenbo 3. JohnH985 4. Gattina 5. dawn 6. Jamie 7. amy

(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!


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Shocked, Stunned. Undone?

I am still reeling some fifteen hours after receiving news that ranks right up there with the major losses in my life: learning I was loosing my sight; learning I would not be able to return for my final year of college; learning that I was infertile; learning my manuscripts, research notes and personal library were unrecoverable along with all our other belongings after payments on our storage unit fell behind; learning I could no longer acquiesce to the belief system of my childhood and loosing the pure fellowship of that faith community; learning that the building that was once the Bible Chapel in which I went to Sunday School and later taught Sunday School and later yet was married in had been burnt to the ground as a training exercise for firemen; learning that the high-tech company my husband worked for was closing shop instead of going public just weeks after his stock options had vested; learning we were being evicted from the first nice house we ever lived in and then five months later from the motel room we'd exchanged it for onto the street.  And yes, this ranks right up there with learning that my Dad was loosing his battle with cancer--tho not with the actual moment of his loss.

What could be so dire?  Our public library system lost it's funding and will most likely be shutting its doors next month.

I had already been awake for 24 hours at the moment I learned this about two yesterday and I have yet to sleep.  I think I've been in a full-blown anxiety attack ever since.  I developed a migraine about six hour ago.  This has prevented me from writing the thoughtful explanatory piece I had planned.  But if I don't post something about this event, I'm afraid I will never post again.

Understand, it is not just that this story addict is loosing access to her regular fixes.  Everything I have planned for Joystory, Joyread and Joywrite is dependent on free access to good resources.  I have dozens of projects in various stages of unreadiness that cannot be completed without access to the resources.

How many times can the reincarnation of my hopes and dreams be kicked in the teeth before they stop rising from the ashes altogether?


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #10

Thirteen Things about the past week
(this is more story than list for which you can thank my NaNoWriMo trained fingers)

1. NaNoWriMo ended last Thursday at midnight and I rewarded myself by watching four Gray's Anatomy episodes in a row on Followed by two Ugly Betty episodes. The beginning of the story binge I'd been promising myself.

2. On Friday, I finished the short novel, Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote and read the three short-stories bundled with it.

3. Having encountered other TTs last week who confessed to addictions to the game Zuma, I had to try it out. Played fifteen games between Friday and Sunday morning. I can see why it would be addictive but it is too frustrating for me with my RP as the field of play is too large and I often can't differentiate between two similar colors--like yellow and gold or green and aqua.

4. Saturday was my 28th wedding anniversary but we didn't do anything special as my husband had to work and didn't get home until after nine. Tis that season. Began the novel, Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut Saturday evening.

5. Sunday was to be the last day off for my husband until the Sunday before Christmas and I planned to spend it with him even if I had to give up sleep to do so. But he came home sick Saturday night and tho he got up at his usual pre-dawn hour, by eight o'clock he was crawling back in bed. I sat on the edge of the bed playing Zuma until I got sleepy. I was just drifting off about eleven when the phone rang. My husband recognized my sister's voice on the answering machine and went to try to catch her before she hung up. She and her son and my mother were about five miles from the Phoenix exit on their return to Longview, Washington from Gerber, California--delayed nearly a week by the snow and fog in the passes. I hadn't seen them since we had gone to my Mom's twin sister's funeral the week after Thanksgiving last year. We visited until after four when they hit the road again

6. I slept from eight Sunday night until four Monday morning and woke with a raging sore throat. I had the virus my husband brought home from work. Tis the season. I watched the DVD Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, after my husband left for work. It was among the items due at the library Monday. As was Slaughter-house Five which I was only half finished with.

7. Sat with my husband's grandmother Monday afternoon while my in-laws went grocery shopping for both households. My mother-in-law dropped me off at the library on the way home and waited for me to check out. The librarians were dressed as if ready for the ski lifts. The library's heater and given up the ghost. They were on the phone calling patrons with reservations on the computers that evening to let them know they were closing early

8. I hung on to Slaughter-house Five, hoping to finish it before morning so I could drop it off on the way back over to grandma's house, but I got caught up in the news reports of the Kim family that had been missing and feared stuck in the snow on the bad roads between Grant's Pass and Gold Beach just north of us. The same area another family had been lost last winter. I was hoping the Kim family's story would end as happily as that one and it seemed to be heading that way when news of the rescue of the mother and two young girls broke Monday afternoon. But the father was still missing, having attempted to walk out for help over the weekend.

9. Sat with grandma again Tuesday morning. Had not finished Slaughter-house Five in time to return it on the way over. Hoped to finish it in time to return it on the way home but still had about fifty pages to go when the time came. My mother-in-law suggested she drop me off and come back for me in an hour and a half. She had driven off before I remembered the broken heater. The sign on the door said Emergency Closure. Although chilly, it was blue-sky sunny and I was bundled warm so I sat on the raised brick flower-bed box next to the drop box and read.until my mother-in-law returned. She was five minutes early and I had two pages left. She waited for me.

10. Tuesday evening I again followed the story of the Kim family. It was not looking hopeful for the still missing father, James Kim. I wanted to cry for his wife and baby girls. I was too caught up in this local story to start another novel or movie or online TV episode or play games. At any rate my cold symptoms were escalating to the point my eyes weren't working very well. I was ready to have the light out when my husband was at eight.

11. Woke with my husband at four Wednesday morning and fixed coffee for us but had to go back to bed before he left for work. I slept until two in the afternoon. Discovered upon waking that James Kim's body had been found at noon. So sad.

12. Began the novel Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce Wednesday evening but read fewer than ten pages before fatigue overcame my eyes. Once again, I slept the same hours as my husband.

13. Woke with my husband at four Thursday morning and sat with him over coffee. As he checked his email and played Bejeweled 2 online, I started reading Trickster's Choice. I kept on reading after he left for work shortly after six and, interrupted only by a pesky cough, was still reading at nine when I suddenly remember TT...

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. K T Cat

(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!


Saturday, December 02, 2006

NaNoWriMo Conclusion

My final word count, when I threw in the towel about eleven-thirty Thursday night, was 25,411. This is about double my results from last year, which were about double my results from the previous year, my first attempt. So I am 0 for 3 but I'm seeing an encouraging pattern here--if I double it again next year I will cross the finish line. Especially since I more than doubled my word count in the final five to seven days, which means that I had hit the stride in the final week that, if reached the first week and sustained throughout, is the one needed to make it to 50,000 in four weeks. I learned a lot about method and mindset that I can apply next year. I hope to muse about some of those here over the next couple of weeks.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #9

Thirteen Things I'm looking forward to doing after the NaNoWriMo deadline tomorrow night

1. Reading more fiction

2. Watching more movies--stories again.

3. Catching up with three to four weeks each of Ugly Betty, Gray's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Six Degrees and The Nine--the only TV series I've been watching this season because I can watch them online for up to three weeks after they air. (I may also catch up with Boston Public and Medium during prime time rerun season. They aren't available online so I gave them up so as not to be tied to the TV schedule during NaNoWriMo

4.Cleaning my room--arrrrrgh. I can't stand it. If I could actually see it better I think I would put out my eyes. (Ah, but no, that would make stories so much harder to read, watch and write. I guess tunnel vision can have its plusses--as long as I stare at the lighted laptop screen, I can't see anything else in the room.)

5. Write on some of the stories I set aside for Storyteller's Spouse, my NaNoWriMo novel..

7. Post more often to Joystory

8. Refresh my HTML skills so I can start posting to Joywrite and Joyread again.

9. Do serious promoting for Joystory, Joywrite and Joyread

10. Go for walks (and not just to the library)

11. Start working needlecraft again.

12. Play relaxing and or mentally stimulating computer games

13. Daydream--without feeling obligated to keep focused on Storyteller's Spouse

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Katia 2. Caylynn 3. Gattina 4. Southern Girl

(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!


NaNoWriMo Progress Report #3

This is mostly just a place setter because it completely demoralized me to realize that I was about to stack a third Thursday Thirteen on top of two others with zero posts sandwiched between. This sad neglect of Joystory is due to NaNoWriMo pressures among other more normal life and seasonal pressures--migraines, family duty, holiday commitments, the intrusive drama from the lives of those close to me that I found difficult to disengage from and which crowded out my story's drama..

Equally demoralizing is the realization that with all that I neglected in order to invest in NaNoWriMo, I am not going to reach the finish line once again which makes it 0 for 3 for me. I can only say that it has been worth it anyway. I will go into more detail in the coming week as now is not the time to be waxing analytical.

I have about twenty more hours to cram word-count--but can probably only count on ten awake hours. The meter to the left is not reflective of the reality as I stopped updating it three weeks ago. I have only a vague notion of the true word-count because, when I cut loose I stopped differentiating between narrative and notes. When a thought grabbed me while I was in the middle of writing a scene I just wrote about it from right where I was so in order to get a true word-count I would have to wade through and cut and paste those into separate files. It's easily triple what that meter says though and I hope it is more than that.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #8

Thirteen Things I am Thankful For

1. Life

2. Belonging to Family and Community

3. Stories--for their role in co-creating self, community, and culture; for the weaving of stories is the weaving of the fabric of life.

4. Home--the place of refuge and its amenities--having experienced two weeks living on the street I can never take such for granted again.

5. Regular meals--again, having experienced on several occasions their lack, it is natural to feel grateful.when they're available.

6. Libraries--how else would I gain access to several thousand dollars of books and videos every year.

7. The adoration and companionship of my two cats, Gremlin and Merlin.

8. Computer and Internet technology because it gives me the tools I need to follow my bliss and to accomodate to the various challenges my life circumstances have handed me.

9. My laptop--ditto and because it gives me 24/7 possession of and access to my projects.

10. Both Nature and Civilization in equal measure.

11. Music

12. The Fruits of the Spirit with which I have been gifted and charged with nurturing and manifesting in my life--love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, temperence, faith, and meekness as well as grace, wisdom, justice, mercy, hope, courage, abundance, gratitude, liberty of mind and conscience, balance, awe, compassion, and wonder among others.

13. That which is my Source and Sustainer and the Animating Spirit which Breathes me and seeds within me its Fruits--not to be confused with any posited supernatural entity for it is not a being but very Being, it is not noun but verb and must not be named for naming defines and delimits and thereby creates things which can be no more than idols

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!


(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!


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #7

Thirteen Things That Elder-Caregivers Need

1. Naps

2. Patience

3. Privacy

4. Sense of Humor

5. Breaks

6. Help

7. Extra Time

8. Extra Hands

9. Listening skills

10. Persuasion skills

11. Kindness

12. Gentleness

13. Sleep

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Carol Bradley Bursack 2. Incog & Nito 3. Norma 4. Gattina

(leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Just got back from taking care of my husband's 92 year-old grandmother since last Monday. Was going to just let TT go this week but then thought of this at the last minute--litterly fifteen to midnight! Won't get to visit other TT until I get some sleep.

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!


Monday, November 13, 2006

NaNoWriMo Progress Report 2

well i finaly have word count as you can see in the side bar if i got it installed right.  almost 2300 words.  but it is a mess much like this post is going to be because i have been typing for hours and haven't slept and now must get ready to leave for my husband's grandma's house where i am staying until Thursday while my in-laws take their vacation over to the coast.. No internet so I won't be posting but maybe i will get more writing done now that i have made a breakthru.  it was when i realized that i had quite a bit of material in my notes that could qualify as narrative and dialog.  so what if it started and stopped in the middle of nowhere.  so what if it was mostly in third person when i intended to make this first person.  but i was tired of trying to find my POV charachter's voice and decided that i would leave that for later.  if it doesn't come on it's own by the time i have 50,000 words... well, i don't know.  but i won't worry about it anymore until then. or at least until the end of the month. i have a lengthy list of intended scenes and i started jumping around among them on a whim. so they start and stop in the middle of nowhere.  i also stopped worrying about punctuation.  especially quote marks and commas.  i also stopped pausing to find the 'right' word.  when i couldn't settle on one immediately i just listed all of the options that came to me.  like i's a mess. but it is flowing now.  i hope i don't stiffle it again by expecting too much out of it.  i hate posting this mess but will as another exercise in subduing the harpy's that plague me.  perfection ain't all it's cracked up to be.  idolizing perfection is a crak-up waiting to happen.  or so i've often found.  there is a time and place.... NaNoWriMo is neither.  A blog post can be anything it's author so desires and right now I desire to post this more than i desire to perfect it.  i feel like celebrating and there is noone else to celebrate with.


My Birthday Means? What Now????

Your Birthdate: November 13

You're dominant and powerful.  ROTFLOL

You always need to be in charge. Is this why I prefer babies to adults?

While others respect your competence, you can be a bit of a dictator. Too busy holding the whip over myself to accomplish much else.

Hard working and serious, you never always let yourself down. Now I'll buy it.

You are exact and accurate - and you expect others to be the same way. The former--yeah, OK.  The latter--not so much.  Wish-maybe.  Expect-no.

Your strength: You always get the job done   Ha!  Well, maybe when someone other than me is depending on it.

Your weakness: You're a perfectionist to a fault   I'll cop to this one.  And how!

Your power color: Gray Bleh!

Your power symbol: Checkmark  Is this why I like To Do Lists?

Your power month: April  If I stop laughing by then, I'll let you know.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #6

Thirteen Things I feel like right now because I still have zero qualifiabale word-count on my NaNoWriMo novel

1. a fiasco
2. flustered
3. flighty
4. farcical
5. a faker
6. fumble-fingered
7. fidgety
8. flummoxed
9. a flubber
10. fatuous
11. foolish
12. flushable
13. a fraud

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Caylynn 2. Uisce 3. MommyBa 4. Norma 5. Nathalie 6. Chaotic Mom 7. Melissa 8. amy 9. The Imperfect Christian 10. Susan

(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!


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Book Review: The Republican Playbook


OK OK OK *gasp* I think I can at least type now. If not speak.

Before I tell you what this book is about, I have to confess something that might give you cause to question my capacity to review such a book as this if not my intelligence itself. I believed, when I ordered this book that it was exactly what it’s title said it was. Nor, did I immediately comprehend the true nature of it once I held it in my hands and caught sight of the bright red front cover with the gold embossed title and the black diagonal band across the bottom left corner declaring the book to have been stolen from the White House by Andy Borowitz. Even after opening the book and thumbing through the pages and noting the grayed out shade of many of the pages consistent with photocopying; the doodles, the smudges, the thumbprints on the edges of the pages and the handwritten notes scattered in the margins throughout I did not catch on. I always was the last one to get the joke, often laughing at the punch line several minutes, if not several hours, after the fact. Knowing this might give you pause as you consider whether to read on, committing your precious time to a critique of a political satire book by someone with an obviously low HQ (Humor Quotient). But I believe in full disclosure.

Does it help to know that I had been anticipating something more on the lines of this memo acquired by Raw Story last August and downloadable in PDF format here? I didn’t think so.

If you are still with me, I am grateful but I must tell you I would be given pause in considering you for any task dependent on good judgment. Because it does not cast any the least bit less of a shadow on my credibility to know that before I encountered this book I had never heard of Andy Borowitz, nor read or even heard of any of the half-dozen or so titles he had previously published. But now that we’ve established a relationship of complete transparency maybe we can at least have a bit of fun as we take a quick romp through the pages of Andy’s wickedly funny Republican Playbook masterfully reverse engineered from meticulous observation of GOP behavior while running the offices they had successfully run for.

This little book is replete with talking points on major issues, keys to victory in a number of key states, leadership lessons for George Bush, suggestions for tricky uses of new technology to advance their domination of the elections, the electorate and each branch of government and musings on lessons learned from the past, some of which are in the included forwards by previous owners of the manual--Nixon, Reagan and Papa Bush. Every page is a minefield of guffaws and adding to the piquancy of the jokes are the scattered notes to self in the purported handwriting of GW.

Among the amazing things you can do with new technology is the hard to detect manipulation of photos for campaign mailers and ads. Such as, for alarming their base, create a pic of the Dems Dream Supremes--Bill Clinton as Chief Justice, the three Dixie Chicks, Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Bruce Springsteen, Barbara Streisand, and horror of all horrors, Michael Moore. Especially helpful is the ability to take a photo of any Dem and morph it into the Demon of the Day--Osama, Saddam, Kim Jung Il, Satan. Then there is the ease of pasting a pic of a Dem into a background that associates them with criminal or treasonous activities.

Wicked fun with Wikipedia is another thing new technology has made possible: anyone can creatively embellish any Dem Pol’s bios, giving them illustrious careers in the (recreational) drug industry and porn, credit for passing laws that endanger children, or fingering them for the unsolved murders of celebrities.

Advice on running elections includes diabolic diagrams of proposed voting machines that dynamically enhance GOP results; reminding everyone of the etymology of the word Democrat --conflating of the Greek demos, meaning demon with cratos, meaning creature gives demonic creature; countering the Dems demonic Rock the Vote by spreading the word on election day that Wal-Mart is giving away free Sony PlayStation Portables and Ted Nugent and Kid Rock are throwing a free keg party; and motivating the base with reminders of the Dems sinister message machine promoting gayness for all--cartoons! (Take the Flintstones--Barney and Fred spend more time with each other than their wives and never wear pants. And, well, the theme song says so!)

The one that had me in hysterics as I set out to attempt to describe in my own words the experience of encountering this uproarious romp through the GOP mindscape was GW’s attempt to make sense of the disaster of Katrina. The PR disaster that is. His attempt at independent analysis of that debacle led him to conclude that we needed a Disaster Preparedness plan. He resolves to create a new cabinet level position with the mandate to prepare all future catastrophes ahead of time in minute detail so that the GOP would be in complete control and could take credit for all catastrophic successes. And no, I did not inadvertently omit the word ‘for’ between the words ‘prepare’ and ‘all’ in the previous sentence. That was all GW. Or at least Andy Borowitz’s concept of him. Based on his careful observation of his past behavior, of course.



Friday, November 03, 2006

NaNoWriMo: Progress Report 1

No word count yet. But significant progress in other areas. Areas that should have been established before the 1st!

I had settled on the story idea by the time I wrote the post 'Permission to Make a Mess' but I had little in the way of notes on that story. Which was supposed to be a plus for the purpose of cutting loose. And, since I have been dreaming this story intensely since early spring, I still think it will be once I get a few things established.

Two things especially have been snagging me: 1. No names for my two main characters. 2. No voice for my narrator(s).

I settled the first by the wee hours this morning after spending hours at this baby naming site which includes etymology of the names and alternate spellings. I am picky about names. I have to like them. And whenever possible the name needs to point to the theme via its etymological meanings, or via connotations arising from the sounds of one or more of its syllables, or associations with a famous living, historical or fictional holder of the name, or a nickname, including nicknames made from the three (and occasionally more) initials of the names.

Thus, for my novel, Storyteller’s Spouse, which explores the theme of story and through that the themes of fact/fiction, truth/lie, reality/imagination, myth/history, perception/actual and so forth, there are two main characters:

Lorinda Iris Learner married to Brayden Lysander Teller

Lorinda goes by Lor most of the time, which is meant to imply, lore as in story. She is both lore learner and lore teller. She is a published fiction writer. Her stories have been aimed at evangelical and fundamentalist Christian children and young adults. A traumatic event will force her to call into question everything she ever thought she knew and eventually break irrevocably from the doctrines and world view she was raised under. She has lost the tether of the faith of her fathers and is afloat on a sea of mystery which often feels like insanity. She feels like she is losing her mind. And maybe she is.

Brayden is known as Brayden only by Lor. He acquired two nicknames built from his initials, Bull and Bullet, the first as early as grade school when he became known as a teller of tall tales. He is a born raconteur who weaves his stories out of the fabric of his daily life. He is the star of his stories which often depict him as saving the day like the hero of action-adventure stories whether the events transpire on the playground, at work, at home, at the bar, or on the field of battle; the second was given him in boot camp in reference to his fast-talking and sharp-shooting and quick and accurate appraisal of tactical situations in the field. Both nicknames also call attention to his stubbornness and his intense focus on whatever is at hand.

For more clues about theme hidden in their names visit Think Baby Names and plug their first and middle names in and explore their etymology. Of course, if you are participating in NaNoWriMo yourself, you may want to wait until next month as exploring names there is addictive.

As for the second snag, the voice: Aside from the fact that exploring my character’s voice requires writing narrative, which by the rules of this game mustn’t be done before day one anyway….

This story and it’s theme requires that it be told in first person. I’ve never, in all the dozens of stories I’ve started since high-school tried to use first-person POV. My stories before then were juvenile in all senses of the word and at some point I made such a strong association of first-person POV with amateur and childish I was afraid to try it again.

Then too there is the problem of confusing my ‘I’ with the ‘I’ of my fictional narrator. There are two parts to this. My own ‘I’ getting subsumed by my character and fear of certain readers conflating the two and assuming autobiographical content where there is none. Fears of the first are compounded by the mental and emotional instability of my character, Lor along with my memories of my own instability at the time of a similar crisis in my life fourteen years ago. One of the titles I considered for it, and may still use as either a subtitle or a chapter title, was, The Untied States of a Maker’s I.

My fears of the latter are grounded in experiences of a family member or friend doing just that. Once an uncle was reading over my shoulder as I typed and exclaimed, ‘What are you talking about? Your mother isn’t in a coma.‘ When I tried to explain that this was a fiction story he couldn’t understand why I wanted to waste my time telling untrue stories when there were so many true ones. His unstated implication was that I shouldn’t be using my God-given talent to tell made up stories when I could be using it to tell true stories that could bring souls to the Lord. (Think Guide Post.) That exchange precipitated a nearly ten year writer’s block.

This is complicated by the fact that many of my stories are inspired by events in my life or the lives of people around me. A few of those with intimate knowledge of my life who have read some of my stories have made a point of picking out the references to my real life experiences in them as if it was some kind of game like the popular, How Many ______ Can You Spot in this Picture? Switching to third person POV did not immunize me from that so I stopped sharing my stories and I started second and third and forth….guessing all of my story ideas. So this issue has contributed a great deal to my tendency to keep most of my stories in the planning stages indefinitely.

All of these considerations went into my decision making process as I tried to settle on the story I would work on for NaNoWriMo. The deciding factor was when I realized how much this issue had been dogging me and keeping my creative output at bay. I needed to face it. And this story, which grabbed me and would not let go last spring, is forcing me to in more ways than I can count. Because it is rooted so deeply in my personal experience, I don’t think it can be told without unabashed reference to real events in my life. But at the same time it is neither autobiography nor memoir. Because I intend to give the characters their heads and experiment with ‘what ifs’ that never happened. I guess I’m just going to have to accept that some people are going to want to play the, How Many Joys Can You Find in This Story game. Let them. If that’s the level they insist on reading it, they will be missing the point. But then, maybe I want them to. Then again, maybe I just won’t share this one at all. Maybe this is just for me. All I know is that I have to tell this story. Lor is insisting.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday Thurteen # 5

Thirteen Things November means to me:

1. Joystory was born on the 2nd in 2004.

2. NaNoWriMo month!!

3. The month begins with leaves like fire against a saphire sky.

4. The month ends with branches like charcoal against smokey grey clouds

5. I have to stop going barefoot even indoors

6. Elections first Tuesday every other year.

7. Don't forget to vote on the 7th!

8. Wind, Rain, Storms Sometimes snow.

9. Getting warm after getting chilled. One of the most plesurable sensations ever!

10. Christmas themes--decor & music etc--start popping up everywhere.

11. My mood gets on a roller coaster sometime in November and does't get off until after Easter.

12. Thanksgiving on the last Thursday

13. My birthday is the 13th

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Chelle Y. 2. Tink 3. amy (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!


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.


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. 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!


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  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  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.


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.


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!


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!


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 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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