Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Wed, Aug 31 2005

People Are Looking Around At Katrina's Mess

I just talked to someone (via a borrowed cell phone) at an apartment building in Biloxi. They returned to the area and didn't get stopped on the way in. They used a major area road and got in just fine. But they said services are nonexistent so they are planning to leave again, since they can't get food or water. They do feel a lot of things are being misrepresented in some public announcements. It isn't just that services are nonexistent. It's that people attempting to distribute goods on their own were being discouraged by those providing security there. Their impression was that a push was being made to make it tough for anyone to stay in the area, at least for now.

posted at: 14:44 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Saving The Planet Involves More Than Hard Science

The problem with comments such as the ones that German's Environmental Minister (and others) made after a disaster like Katrina is that these comments don't usually serve to move listeners to postive action. Instead, they're likely to result in anger against the one making the comments. When people are faced with frightening, devastating circumstances they want to be comforted. Most of the people who have been directly affected by Katrina are not people who hate the planet or have been plotting its destruction. We have absolutely no way of knowing the circumstances and the political leanings of each and every person who lost a home, a loved one, a pet or a job in this situation, and for politicians to talk about blame instead of pitching in to help is very disheartening. Can we put this aside and get help to those suffering for now? When there's some degree of comfort and routine restored it would be appropriate to talk about the science of storms and the methods by which we might one day be able to minimize their affects on the planet.

If we do determine that human consumption of resources contributes to the intensity of hurricanes down the line we should work to assist every area of the planet. But when the chips are down and any part of the planet's inhabitants are suffering, the right thing to do is reach out a hand and help. If those criticizing the situation feel that politics caused more pain they can surely see that their own political remarks will also hold back efforts to relieve suffering and restore order.

If a fellow human citizen chooses to trample another's present feelings in the midst of a dangerous crisis in some attempt to take the opportunity to jump in and promote a pet theory, no matter how many facts that person has and no matter how good the intentions might have been, that person is going to come off as a rude, unfeeling jackass. Part of the delicate balance of this planet 's future should most certainly be to treat one another with respect and compassion in the here and now. Otherwise, why bother with tomorrow?

posted at: 13:08 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Survivors Should Register

Please help pass the word that survivors of Katrina should be sure to register with the American Red Cross so that their loved ones know they are all right. Phone service is spotty, but you can use 1-800-HELP-NOW either to register or to check on a loved one you believe may have been in the affected area. Those of us wanting to help can also use that same phone number to donate to money to help relief efforts.

posted at: 09:23 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Aug 30 2005

Small Boats Needed In New Orleans

A bit of streaming video my spouse sent me has information on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from the New Orleans area. If you are in the area and see this, and you have (or know someone who has) access to a small boat or personal watercraft, rescue workers would like to have use of it. There is too much debris for larger craft, so the smaller craft are invaluable. Pass it on!

posted at: 16:50 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Too Big To Describe

I have begun three different blog posts today and none of them seems to do justice to the enormity of what Hurricane Katrina has done. I'll just encourage everyone to donate to the American Red Cross or other relief organization of choice.

posted at: 14:28 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Aug 29 2005

The Mysteries Of An Underpaid, Overworked Freelance Writer

I was hoping for something more upbeat than I found in "My Life As A Hack" from Ben Yagoda. But I guess I knew it had to be that way. The article does contain a lot of truth. When you tell people you're a writer they ask you what you write. When you tell people you're a freelance writer their eyes glaze over and they don't even know what to ask. They usually mumble, "Oh, so you don't get paid to work for anybody?" (which is closer to the truth than they realize sometimes). Then they choose new words and try to ask you how you survive freelancing if no one hands you a regular paycheck? Then they get a look that tells you they realize they may have just insulted you, but they don't have enough real information about what you do in order to back themselves out of the major foot-in-mouth moment position they've created for themselves.

It doesn't help matters that a lot of us don't talk in detail about current writing works-in-progress. It's just a bad idea to do so, for a lot of reasons. But these "what is it you do, anyway" kind of encounters can actually be kind of amusing if you can keep from feeling any personal affront from the questions people ask.

Over the years I've learned to develop a whole set of expressions and descriptions that usually lets questioners gently off the hook. But sometimes it would feel good to tell them that I really can't discuss my work because it might put someone's life in jeopardy. Would that be true? Let's just say that's for me to know and you to find out.

posted at: 11:34 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Ad Gathering

Have you looked at Oodle yet? We small-town folks are still left out of the loop, but they are covering more than 24 major metro areas now. You can read more about the philosophy and mindset behind their work on the Oodle Blog. They find ads for sales and services and then present the bunch with each individual listing containing a bit of detail and a link to the original ad. Think somewhat of an aggregator, but one that does ads instead of news stories. You can also browse in specific sections or areas of interest, such as Los Angeles area job fairs. It looks as though some sections of Oodle also hook into Google maps for even better pinpointing of goods and services. You can even sign up to get email alerts that target your areas of interest.

posted at: 10:19 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Sun, Aug 28 2005

Exposure Of Exposure

(Please Note! This post contains a link to a story and photo that grownups should preview before allowing kids access.)

There's a story circulating online that has gotten increasing attention from print and other news outlets. From what I can understand in the matter a man boarded a train and, after a certain amount of attempt at eye contact, proceeded to expose himself to another rider. The story goes on to say that the offended rider reached for a cell phone camera and snapped the fellow's picture. The photo was later posted on Flickr and the hunt was on to find the accused man in the picture and prevent further similar incidences.

Comments posted beneath the photo and story range from being completely supportive of the offended person to being hostile. Many wrote that they had experienced similar encounters. Some didn't believe the person. Some who did believe felt sorry for the one exposing himself. Some thought it was funny. Some thought it was nothing worth reporting to police. Some suggested physical violence against the accused exposer. Some suggested physical violence against the one who took the photo. Some wrote that the one who posted the photo and story was seeking attention.

I have an opinion about the story and its veracity, but that doesn't matter. What I find most fascinating are the comments collecting beneath the photo and story. Those varied reactions say more about the mixed quality of life on earth than the photo and story could ever tell.

posted at: 17:48 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

A Sign Of The Moment

Someone near and dear to me recently moved within a few blocks of the oceanfront in Biloxi, Mississippi and has been keeping me updated on the placement of the guitar sign at the Hard Rock Biloxi Hotel/Casino. The claims are that the sign was built to withstand 180-mph winds. There may be a test of that special construction a whole lot sooner than anyone thought, now that Hurricane Katrina is bearing down on the area. The Hard Rock construction cam looks a bit spooky this morning with all activity at a standstill. Everyone has fled the area and with good reason. This is definitely no time to gamble.

posted at: 09:34 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Aug 26 2005

Huevos De Tortuga

Wildcoast is using eye-catching posters to try to keep sex-starved poachers from grabbing and gobbling down sea turtle eggs, but their campaign's not sitting too well with some folks.

Lime and salt, eh? Maybe the salt raises their blood pressure and they mistake strained blood vessels for passion. How do these odd beliefs get started? In any event, since the myth persists, I think it's safe to say that there is no evidence that consuming sea turtle eggs increases one's level of intelligence.

posted at: 13:07 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Black And White And Cute All Over

You have until the end of September to cast your vote on what to name the new baby giant panda at the National Zoo.

posted at: 08:29 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Thu, Aug 25 2005

"Stand Back And Take A Look" Is A Start

I'm pleased that Michael Chertoff is at least acknowledging the illegal immigrant problem. It seems unfortunate that it takes state governors to pronounce it an emergency and also takes individual citizens forming a militia watch group for our Homeland Security to get nervous and admit trouble. If our southern border is really such a dangerous place we ought to be willing to spend at least a bit more money on it at a federal level. It would be a lot more dangerous to allow things to continue in their present state of chaos. I hope politicians and legislators don't waste countless hours quibbling about the cost. The people patrolling our own borders deserve at least as much support and funding as our soldiers serving in many other countries.

posted at: 09:25 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Wed, Aug 24 2005

Renters, Buyers And Other Endangered California Species

This is Review crunch week, so time to write lengthy blog posts is minimal. I found a good link or you might enjoy in the meantime. It's the California Department of Real Estate Reference Book. (Chapters link to .pdf files). You can also order a printed version of the book.

Finding a home in this state can turn into a full-time job. There has been a scarcity of homes to buy, but lately we've seen more For Sale signs going up in our area. But the prices are still really high. So if you are looking for something affordable you may continute to be very disappointed for some time to come.

Most of the people currently selling their homes in this neighborhood are moving away to areas where housing will be cheaper. But they're trying to sell at top price. I really wonder if they'll get what they're asking.

Earlier this month We had our own home appraised in the process of refinancing our mortgage and I can tell you that supply and demand is alive and well when it comes to California real estate. We laughed at the inflated numbers. But if expectant home can't come up with an income to qualify for a mortgage, it does mean the market will have to either adjust downward or become stagnant.

Rental housing is increasingly sold out from under renters by owners eager to cash in at top prices. Many units are converted to condos and sell in a short time, leaving renters high and dry. What's going to happen when many of the renters can't find rental housing and can't qualify to buy? I hope we're not forcing more people into a very strange new kind of homeless situation, but it does look more and more like that could happen.

posted at: 10:57 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Aug 23 2005

Pushing The Boundaries

I was pointed to a blog with another whole take on the difficulties with Illegal immigrants from Mexico. (A tip of the Stetson goes to VDARE for the link.) Mark has lived and worked in Mexico, unlike most of us who type comments on the situation. He describes, in brief form, the type of government Mexico has had up to this point. His description is not without sarcasm, but he's blunt about the country's present and deadly serious about its future when he talks about the crowds of people trying to leave Mexico and come to the United States. He does suggest that we think about accepting the fleeing people as refugees and begin to blend them more thoughtfully into our society with education, jobs, and housing strategies that prevent huge concentrations of slum-like conditions.

The section he writes about pushing southward caught my attention because I was involved in a discussion a few days ago, in which this same idea began to unfold. We all wondered where actual control of our border should stop. We spoke of taking a strip on the U.S. side (by eminent domain, where necessary) all along our border states, to be used by our government to begin better control, with the express cooperation of Mexican officials (a wild idea in itself at this point). The problem was that we knew, once underway, the control would have to keep moving further into Mexico in order to have any results. It seemed pompous and invasive, and also sad and daunting in the face of the huge amount of work it would require. After reading this man's blog entry, it sounds as though it might be all of the above, and more. Furthermore, it does nothing to take care of the problem of the drug cartels. There would be no peaceful end to this type of action. As long as there are profits to be made from drugs, people would continue to try to move them and sell them, no matter how far we pushed their trade into Central America and even into South America. And if we choose to take over territory after territory how does that make us any better than any other forced, invasive form of government on the planet? I also wonder about the writer's answer for the refugees who come here and decide not to follow the rules. If they are permanently ejected from the U.S. where will we send them once we've pushed so far southward that there is no land left in which to eject them? Who will take them then? Will they walk a plank off Tierra del Fuego?

I have no real answers. But I do know that trouble is coming, one way or another. And at some level or another it's going to involve bloodshed and violence, either on this side of the border or the other side, no matter where that border is placed. We can delay it, but I'm not sure we can stop it when greed and power fill so many selfish hearts.

posted at: 09:48 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Extremism Is Extremism

Everybody's quoting him and talking about him. Even the soccer world's Goal.com had a comment about Pat Robertson's suggestions to do away with Venezuelan's current president, Hugo Chavez. Science Daily chimed in with its story on the matter. It quoted Robertson, as did many other news sources, as saying that Mr. Chavez was trying to make Venezuela "a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent."

As I recall, one of the earmarks of Communism is the desire to silence, and even eliminate, those who do not agree with your particular form of idealogy. Mr. Robertson's remarks, if quoted correctly, sound a lot like that to me.

Regarding the "Muslim extremism", Mr. Robertson has made an excellent choice of words, if you really think about it for a moment. If you've ever tried to teach a child the meaning of "the pot calling the kettle black" you will not find a better analogy than his statement. Mr. Robertson represents, at least to me, the epitome of Christian extremism with his comments, and I would like to say with complete confidence, in public, that Mr. Robertson does not speak for Christians everywhere. Personally, I can find no place in Scripture where we're admonished to "pluck that fellow's eyes out way before he gets any ideas about plucking anybody else's eye out".

I'd also venture to say that politics in Venezuela is a lot more complicated than Mr. Robertson realizes. If he thinks he can take some early strike against a leader there and solve real problems, he is showing himself to be not only arrogant, but ignorant. Fortunately, at least one of those attributes is correctable, if a person is willing to be enlightened.

posted at: 08:07 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Aug 22 2005

Terrorism Isn't Just Over There Somewhere

While our troops fight terrorism half a world away we have cities on our side of the border, and on the Mexican side, that are being turned into communities where drug runners control the space while police try to stay alive and keep peace. Frightened citizens, including land owners along both sides of the border, have to deal with property damage, crops being destroyed and cattle stolen and killed. The El Paso Times ran a story on what is happening in the border area of Columbus, New Mexico. The governor of that state has declared a state of emergency in several border counties, as has the governor of the state of Arizona. It's likely that Governor Schwarzenegger will soon do the same in the state of California.

Border states' resources are strained and acknowlegement of the seriousness of this issue has been slow in coming from a federal level. Some citizens, along with a few representatives and senators, are beginning to stand up and demand that Washington's war on terror include help for our own Southern border.

Tempers have flared following the case in which property owners in Hebbronville, Texas ended up giving up their property to pay two illegal immigrants who filed a lawsuit with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The case is complicated and stems from claims that Casey Nethercott pistol-whipped at least one of the immigrants. A jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict in that charge, but Mr. Nethercott was convicted of felon firearm possession after his arrest. Controversy continues to surround the arrest, in which an associate of Mr. Nethercott was reportedly shot by an FBI agent. Some see Mr. Nethercott as a hero, while others view him as a vigilante or a racist. The land owners along the border are being told the U.S. Border Patrol can't suppress the illegal immigrants, but the land owners are also being told not to take action on their own. These are heart-wrenching, emotional issues that bring out the best and worst in people.

I have maintained for some time that most of our politicians seem to have no real concept of the rising anger over illegal immigration. The sheer numbers of people pouring over the border are beginning to frighten the people who live and work here legally. And frightened people are more likely to become angry and start taking matters into their own hands. Many are compassionate only toward people who are willing to take steps to come into this country legally. And many are compassionate to those who run over the border illegally. Still others want to put a hold on all immigration. Politicians do at least note that there is enough opinion for them to use to give speeches on the whole issue in order to be elected or to keep their particular party in a majority position. But they don't seem aware of the fierce feelings and the increasing number of grassroots groups forming to take a stand. Some politicians say we should make it easier for people to come into the country legally, but that will in no way stop the chain of drug smuggling and other illegal issues.

Of course, all the open discussion is great. Free speech is a wonderful thing. I'm using it right now as I write this post. But we all know that free speech can incite riots. For instance, how long is it going to be until someone puts one of these bumper stickers on their car and we end up with arguments and even violence as a result?

California residents are circulating a petition to put an initiative on the ballot that could result in the formation of the California Border Police. The Police would be trained to act as extra security at our California-Mexico border. It's not a perfect solution. But our U.S. Border Patrol is not keeping up with the rush of illegal immigrants coming into the state. The cause may be monetary or political or a combination of factors. Whatever the cause, or causes, our taxpayer money is not doing the job and politicians need to acknowledge that so it can be taken care of.

The knowledge that we simply can't allow drug runners and human smugglers to have free rein is beginning to overshadow the compassion for those immigrants who are simply seeking a better way of life. Some Californians are saying it's time to figure out how to make legal entry work better for those who want to be here and make illegal entry impossible for everyone else. And some Californians are so fed up with the problem that they're willing to keep almost everyone from coming over the border. It's not going to be easy to figure out. But the problem is not going away. It's getting worse. Each news story that involves illegal immigration sparks new debates. The time to address the issue is now, before it becomes more than just a topic of conversation and results in violence between people who are passionate on whatever side they take. Maybe the California Border Police initiative is a good start for people in the state of California.

posted at: 10:22 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Fri, Aug 19 2005

Unauthorized Furniture And Other Home Decor Problems

The use of one company's boxes as furniture has resulted in a bit of trouble for at least one person. This showed me a growing dilemna. On one hand, we have companies that go so far as to promote creative use of their products and even showcase that use on their own web site, which is what happened with Duck Products. On the other hand, it seems that we have other companies wishing to exercise quite a bit of control over the use of their products and name.

To further complicate things, I know of at least one taxpayer-supported agency that provides a product which clearly forbids its use as anything other than shipping material. But I also know that there are quite a few crafters using it creatively in ways not sanctioned by the agency. And some have proudly presented pictures of their creations online.

This all gets into some pretty complicated legal issues, none of which I'm qualified to take on. I did note with amusement that, in the case of the company whose boxes were being used to make furniture, someone from a rival company suggested to the rogue furniture builder that its own boxes were much more colorful and would make far superior decorative pieces. Some people do have a knack for turning anything into a marketing program.

When in doubt, I suppose the best thing to do is ask before making making use of a company's products in a public way. But it's getting harder and harder as our lives become so full of products. I sometimes place the likeness of a cartoon character on my desk as my web cam runs. I guess I could be in trouble for showing his little green body that way. It does all get pretty wearying when you have to second-guess every bit of fun you want to have, doesn't it? I do long for a world where we seek to boost one another up instead of tear one another down, and where we all seek first to presume that boosting was the intention before we start attaching negative motives to others in a haste to prove our own self-worth, be it legal or personal.

posted at: 13:03 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Getting Creative With Cans

Call your engineer and architect friends, clean out the cupboards and build some art. Canstruction is using friendly competition and cans to put more fun into food drives. A tug on the Stetson brim goes to lonita.net for the link.

posted at: 08:09 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Thu, Aug 18 2005

Cows And Effect

I do love puns, and this one from Siftin' could keep me smiling 'til the cows come home (which might be awhile, if they end up that far out)

posted at: 17:20 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fifteen Minutes Of Name?

The auctioning of fictional character and place names is an interesting way to raise money for charity. Naming something, or someone, in a fictional story is usually a highly internal process for a writer. A name tends to grow in the subconscious and then leap to the forefront of the mind, as though it had actually been there all the time. It was the writer who had to come to the right place to know it.

Part of me wonders if this will spark lesser-known writers to begin selling names as a way of funding future writing projects. I do know that names are powerful things. A tavern named The Establishment brings to mind a set of associations that are quite different from those a reader would get if you named the pub Corner Cavern or Red's Ruckus.

posted at: 09:46 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Aug 17 2005

Free Credit Report-Not Free Credit Score

I guess there is still a lot of confusion about what comes on one's free annual credit report. The FTC put up an information page that outlines consumers' rights in this area. We've had free reports available in the West for several months, but as of September 1 folks in all states and U.S. territories can get a free report. The FTC is cautioning that only one site, AnnualCreditReport, is the official web site from which to request your free report.

My own spouse misunderstood all this when he got his free report and noted that they had omitted his credit score. It turns out that the credit score is not part of the free report. Your credit score information must still be purchased, either from AnnualCreditReport, or from one of the three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.

posted at: 08:08 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Aug 16 2005

War Is Hell

The Times Online had an article today mentioning Cindy Sheehan's protest and the rising cost of war to her family's personal life. The end of the article referred to the increasing death toll of U.S. troops and how it is affecting Americans' support for our current administration's actions.

This isn't really a surprise. Global Security shows a March, 2003 article from the Chicago Tribune. That piece did a good job of showing how rising casualties in war tend to turn public opinion in a negative direction. When the military deaths from the war in Iraq reached 1000 last year there was more talk that public support for the conflict might begin to wane. Earlier this year NPR offered perspectives from David Segal and others on what might cause Americans to support, or not support, continuing military actions in war.

I would suggest that the waning support for war does not come from just a set of numbers. Our own little neighborhood was witness to the turmoil of a family who lost a beloved son in battle. When a child is killed there are other things that happen in families. Emotions are raw and any other difficulties in the family unit rise up and become extreme and make wars of their own. Family members polarize and take sides as they attempt to "do right by" the fallen son or daughter, mother or father. As a war continues, more and more of us either have these things happen in our own families or learn of these things as they happen to someone in our neighborhood, our church or our place of work. The changes to all our lives become heavier and heavier burdens as more and more people attempt to go on with life as usual, but can't. And it becomes difficult to watch those in office tell us that it's worth it all in the end when we can't see the end. Some of us can't even see tomorrow, or look forward to tomorrow.

The reason we hear such heated opinions on Cindy Sheehan's actions, even though almost none of us has ever met her personally, is that she's become a symbol for the passion of Americans everywhere.

We certainly all want to "do right by" our fallen troops. We just don't always agree on exactly how that should be done. It hurts. And maybe it should hurt. Maybe we should listen to one another vent and scream and cry and apologize and hold onto one another and do whatever it takes to get through it together. War costs something. War costs all of us something sooner or later. None of us go through it without severe consequence. Let's at least be honest about that.

posted at: 10:06 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Aug 15 2005

His Mesmerizing Eyes On The Oval Office?

I have to admit that the Christopher Walken campaign page caught me off guard this morning. I guess it shouldn't. We have plenty of folks who make the transition from acting to politics. I guess it's just that actors usually seek some another political office first. In any event, I do want to tip the Stetson to Donklephant for the information.

posted at: 10:17 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Sun, Aug 14 2005

More Water In Them Thar Hills

My spouse and I said our vows at a waterfall in Tennessee, so the news of the newly mapped Whiskeytown Falls in California was delightful to me.

The area was prime gold country in its time, and the nearby town of French Gulch once bustled with hopeful miners and those who made their living selling goods and services to miners. French Gulch's one remaining historic hotel was nearly destroyed last year in a wildfire that took homes and other local buildings. The thought of a new trail to a new waterfall will give locals there hope for keeping alive an interest in balancing our country's ecological and social systems.

posted at: 09:00 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Aug 12 2005

Language And Education: Powerful Weapons

The Monterey Bay area is still hoping that both the Defense Language Institute and the Naval Post Graduate School (which I hear people call the Post Naval Graduate School all the time) will survive the military base closures.

I hope the two facilities stay open. I've always thought that at least as much defense money should be spent on language, education and communication as is spent on weapons. With more countries looking to develop nuclear capabilities we're coming into a world where we'd better keep talking to the enemy as long as we can, because when the talking stops and the nuclear firepower begins, it will be too late to talk. And there might not be anybody left to listen anyway.

posted at: 09:25 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Thu, Aug 11 2005

Soft: Pharamceutical Marketing Genius

I got some spam this morning from some machine in Germany, and I had to laugh at it when I saw the graphic. Isn't this sort of descriptive term for the pills kind of an oxymoron?
tada soft

posted at: 09:43 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Aug 10 2005

Eating Lunch At Your Desk Again?

From Weakend Productions comes a little fun for those of you involved in tech support.

posted at: 09:37 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Tue, Aug 09 2005

Skip The Air Freshener And Do This Instead

Lately it's become a very big thing to "stage" your house when you put it up for sale. You may add fresh paint, pack away extra accessories to give a feeling of spaciousness or add bouquets of fresh flowers during an open house. But what about the way the house smells? You might think it's fine, but if you really want people to follow their nose to sign on the bottom line, there could be a particular scent you want them to pick up on when they walk through your home. What is it? We-buy-houses thinks they have the answer.

posted at: 13:00 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Who Knew It Could Be Fun This Much Fun To Look For A Job?

There are a lot of job search sites out there, but Simply Hired also has a forum, a blog and other goodies. Did I mention that their site is easy to navigate, simple in design and asks for user feedback whether it's negative or positive feedback? Did I mention that they have a sense of creativity, fun and even humor?

Some financial backers believe in Simply Hired enough to plunk down some money. I can certainly see why. I don't have a sweet million to plunk their way, but I do have this humble space. So I'm taking the opportunity to encourage you to give them a good long look. I think you'll be glad you did. If you're self-employed, go and have a look anyway. Their forum has a place for entrepreneurs and free-lancers to drop by and exchange information and solutions.

posted at: 12:37 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Manners And Mannerisms At The Table

The online edition of the Akron Beacon Journal shared a food story that originally appeared in the San Jose Mercury News. I can identify with the person taking the dinner roll from the incorrect side. I know someone who does that all the time, but it isn't because they're ignorant of table manners. It's a symptom of a dyslexic difficulty with knowing left from right. It becomes especially troublesome when seated at round banquet tables.

The same article noted that few of us today regularly use the many kinds of forks and spoons which would be laid out for multi-course meals. Even very practial items, such as knife rests, have become more of a collectible than part of a basic table setting. But you can occasionally still find a special utensil. The strange-looking marrow spoon presented to diners in some upscale establishments is actually still available for home purchase.

posted at: 11:55 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Mon, Aug 08 2005

How To Really Rebel Against The Establishment

I was a teen when hundreds of bands got started. It was usually four guys with some guitars and a set of drums. Other instruments crept in and out: pianos, harmonicas, saxophones, tambourines. A "music video" was the band playing their music and having fun doing it. Band promotion was creative, interactive and often cost little or nothing to produce. The best of the best aspiring muscians worked long hours and developed their own sound. If you didn't see them playing you still knew who they were by their sound.

Now young music hopefuls are sent to the gym to work to make their butts look sexy while sound engineers work to make one singer sound remarkably like another. I had almost resigned myself to the fact that the recording industry now contracts and controls singers the same way the movie industry once contracted and controlled actors. It's been as though the two industries changed places and recyled control to the next generation of a few elite people who control creative choices. And only a few performers who can be molded to fit the idea of the recording company executives' cash cow will have big money spent on them and be marketed to the public. This recycled monster that once stood as part of the evil "establishment" reaches right into consumers' wallets and even attempts to limit our music choices by pouring advertising and marketing dollars into fewer artists' work. It starts to sound pretty bleak.

But life is, after all, essentially a series of cycles where only the details change. And every generation has its true artistic rebels, who see past the crowd mentality. They don't rely on what everyone else is doing. Marketing is whatever is "in", but hard work and heart never go out of style. To my absolute delight, I think I ran across at least one bunch of guys who are helping to revive the creative scene of rock. And instead of just working on their butts, they work their butts off making music. Ok Go.

posted at: 10:03 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Fri, Aug 05 2005

The Art Of Danny Hoskinson

Check out the best-looking buckets you'll ever see.

posted at: 10:43 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Writers: We Are What We Read As Children

James Wood made me want to get busy and play with words when he wrote about Saul Bellow. The piece also reminds me how much we're influenced by what we read in our early lives, while we're developing a sense of language and its flow. I loved hearing the way one writer's familiarity with the King James Bible gave his later writings a richness of form that edged into the most mundane details of his characters. I plan to dive into Saul Bellow's Seize the Day as soon as I get a chance.

posted at: 08:12 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Aug 04 2005

The RNP Shows Their View

I realize that Mexico is a neighboring country and all, but the photo gallery on the RNP site does seem a bit biased. It doesn't upset me, but it does make me wonder who the RNP is targeting on their site.

posted at: 12:17 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

First Lines

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2005 Results are online. I forgot about the contest this year until our vigilant Dan Gillmor mentioned it on his blog.

posted at: 09:47 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Aug 03 2005

Blog Birthing And Its Aftermath

I suppose, at 80,000 new blogs a day, one might call this whole blog thing an official form of mania. They can collect lots of statistics and numbers, but what will be tougher to measure will be friendships and alliances formed, money generated and careers enhanced (or trashed, as the case may be).

I've deleted a lot of blogs from my bookmarks because they seemed to be abandoned by the owners after the initial "this is going to be the best blog ever" mentality gives way to lack of discipline or boredom. It will be interesting to see who stays in this for the long haul once the novelty has worn off and the trend-chasers move on to other things. I've learned from working in other areas of online content that sometimes one gains a certain amount of success by just refusing to quit and being willing to stay with it while more fickle humans give up and look for fame and quick fortune in the next hot fad.

posted at: 11:49 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Outspoken Fervency Often Seen As Arrogance

It didn't take them long to come up with this one, did it? I do have to say that maybe some good will come out of all the backlash over the recent public remarks made by Mr. Cruise. Christians have been ridiculted for so long that I find it interesting to see a person from the Church of Scientology speak publicly about his personal beliefs and then watch people get riled up.

The truth is that I have heard many fellow Christians speak out on certain beliefs in just as adamant a fashion as Mr. Cruise did when the topic of chemical imbalance came up in that now infamous interview. Maybe we should all realize how really didactic we sound at times. We could all learn to speak with more gracious delivery and with the idea of including, not discounting, the life experiences of those with whom we would hope to share the riches of our own particular faith.

posted at: 09:16 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Tue, Aug 02 2005

Since 1882

Grit has entertained many generations with its positive outlook and was still sold door-to-door when I was a kid. It looks like Grit is still around, and the editors still invite submissions.

posted at: 13:01 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Telly Ads

From Great Britain: Videos of TV Commercials from the 1970s to the 1990s.

posted at: 08:59 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Mon, Aug 01 2005

We've Gone Upscale

We live in a modest, older subdivision that was based on the housing boom that followed WWII. The area is semi-rural, with land not far from us still in use as orchards, farmland or horse property. Though modern developers are encroaching, the general atmosphere of the area has been tasteful, median-priced, and not at all ostentatious. So, many of you reading from other states will gasp when you read the following.

Yesterday we went to an open house for a duplex listed for sale in our immediate neighborhood. It was an attractive, though not elaborate, two-bedroom, one-bath and one-bedroom, one bath combination that could be used as either a large family unit or as two entirely separate residences. The lot size was roughly the size of the lot our own little house sits on, and there was a one-car, unattached garage with a long driveway for additional parking or RV storage. The duplex is listed at $779,000. And it's one of a very few places that have even been for sale on that street in the past year. In the past couple of weeks For Sale signs have gone up on at least two more houses in the neighborhood.

It's beginning to happen. People who have lived here for many years are cashing out their homes at record prices. And they're going--where? If they buy in this area they'll be paying top dollar, plus they'll be stuck with property taxes on that higher amount. We can only surmise that most of them are getting out of town, and probably, out of state, taking their tidy little profit and retiring elsewhere.

It's going to be interesting to watch the next phase of this monster in California we dare to call real estate.

posted at: 10:26 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!