November 25, 2009


I'm not fishing for affirmation, really I'm not.


No, really. You don't have to comment to say how much you all love me. That's not why I'm posting.

You know when it's that big rivalry game, like USC vs UCLA or Harvard vs Yale or whatever your alma mater is vs whatever school your alma mater hates? And there's six minutes left in the fourth quarter and your team is down, like, 65 to 3, and you're saying things like, "Just a TD and a 2-point conversion, then all we need is seven successful onside kicks!" and "Stranger things have happened!"

Yeah, that's what NaNoWriMo was like for me, about two days ago.

Today, I let the denial end. It's always a sad moment when the inevitable is acknowledged. I am not going to get my 50,000 words in November, 2009. It's possible I'll top 30,000 before December. But this ain't youth sports. There's no medal awarded for finishing tenth out of 14, which my U12 soccer team did this season. (We came 4th in the 8-team tournament of the bottom half of the league. Which won us a medal.)

I could, as some do, give one of my characters a sudden, astonishing affinity for reading the New York Times aloud. Or I could just go gangbusters on knocking out "plot notes" for the remainder of the novel. Either way, it would be throw-away word count. And what's the point of that? Garbage time points by your starters against your rival's walk-ons may be points, but it's hard to feel good about them.

And so I resign myself to failing at NaNoWriMo in 2009. I gave it a good college try, including a 7,000 word day, but ultimately life defeated me. I did learn some valuable lessons, however. I learned how I want to structure my novel. I learned what motivates my main characters. I learned how the story will come together in the end. And I now know I can write it over the next year or two, little by little. Now that I've got the first 30,000 words down.

And the only other thing I have to say is..



November 24, 2009

NaNoWriMo technology time saver!

A lot of people trying NaNoWriMo for the first time wonder how they can get 50,000 words written in just 30 days. Some people keep a notebook with them all the time; others write in the wee hours (i.e. on the toilet). Wherever you can steal a few minutes to boost your word count.

Personally, I love mobile technology. Four years ago I bought a Palm TX and a wireless keyboard because my laptop had a seventeen minute battery life and took nineteen minutes to wake up from sleep mode. The Palm is instant-on, and I only have to wrestle with the bluetooth keyboard connection for a few seconds before I'm banging out eighty typos a minute. I have written about 20,000 of my current 27,000 words on this little baby. Great for airplanes, coffee shops, and anywhere that everyone else is crawling around under tables on the filthy, gooey floor looking for electrical outlets. And because it uses an SD card, I can pop the card right into my laptop. And since the TX has wifi, I can connect at most hotspots. Very cool setup.

But NOW I find out about this new product, which is perfect for all us NaNo-ers to steal some writing time while we're on the road. It is a steering wheel laptop table, and I can't wait to get one and put my TX on the dashboard, my keyboard on the table, and hit the highway. One of the best ideas ever.

You must go to this product's link right now. Be sure to look at all the product photos and read, at a minimum, all of the five-star reviews.

November 16, 2009

what are we recovering TO?

The number of people without sufficient food in the United States hit 45 million this year.

45 million.

That's nearly one in every six people in the United States going without sufficient food at least sometimes or frequently in the past year.

45 million is more than the population of 194 of the world's 223 countries.

Going without sufficient food doesn't mean that you ran out of chocolate or that you decided not to buy popcorn the last time you went to the movies. It means that you ran out of real food before payday. Or that you could get food, but it wasn't sufficiently nutritious. (I presume these statistics do not include former NBA head case Latrell Sprewell, who apparently found it difficult to feed his family on $7 million a year.)

This is acceptable?

The problem looks even worse when you talk about America's children, and it looks absolutely dire for specific populations when you break it down by race. (Read the article linked above.)

This situation is an indicator in so many ways it's difficult to count them all.

Only about half of the 45 million hungry people are actually considered in poverty, with household income at or below the federal poverty line. This means that our poverty and unemployment statistics are woefully inadequate and that a huge amount of the population are underemployed. It likely means that these households are not saving for the future. How can they? Why should they? The future has no opportunity for them, even with a trillion dollar "stimulus" package designed to shock new life into the DOW. We should call it the DOWfibrillator package.

Hunger also leads to health problems. The current Health Care Reform debate is all about whether the USA will become the United Socialists of America or we let the free market wreak its wonderful magic and keep the rich getting richer. Meanwhile our city hospitals are overrun by hordes of the poor looking for free medical care in the emergency room--bandages, cough syrup, Tylenol. Not only do they not have health insurance (who can afford that when you can't even keep Cheerios in your cupboard?), but their health suffers from lack of proper nutrition and overabundance of stress. We're worried about Death Panels in our health care reform? Why bother? We're already starving to death the people who would have to go in front of the Death Panels.

Our failing education system is another case of the rich getting richer and the poor falling into the abyss. Our top colleges, high schools, and primary schools continue to turn out some of the best educated people in the world. But on average, our school systems are sliding farther and farther behind other countries in critical areas such as creativity, analysis, and even the basics of reading comprehension and essential math. Yet the money continues to pour into the richest schools where property taxes are highest or where the richest donate to their own children's schools. I won't go into all the other things I think are fatal flaws in our system (tenure, centralized curriculum, NCLB, etc.). Instead, I'll just point out that children can't think clearly or retain knowledge when they're hungry. If we don't properly feed the children, how can we possibly expect them to learn how to lead the world in thirty years?

We've got a "recovery" that only a statistician could love. The DOW is soaring. Meanwhile, more people than ever in this country are going hungry.

We may be recovering, but to what exactly? How will we know when the recovery is over and we're back to normal? What is normal, and are we satisfied with it? If so, why are we satisfied? We were suffering and backsliding for decades before the bottom fell out of the financial industry and the economy.

November 4, 2009

haiku wednesday - November 4th, 2009

This week's words are

I was psyched when I saw three short words this week. Only six syllables, giving me eleven all to myself! Well, guess what? This is a really tough trio. I'm not sure why. I think it's because karma is very specific, and obey and wither are both verbs... neither of which karma can really do or have done to it. Plus, this being NaNoWriMo, I am distracted and funneling my creative energy elsewhere. But here goes anyway.

grow, age, wither, die
leave all but karma behind
obey life's cycles

make your own karma
don't wither under pressure
but, obey your mom!

they obey conscience
bodies wither, karma soars
prison hunger strike