Monthly Archives: July 2012

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Fighting over Waffle Fries

I haven’t said much on the Chick-fil-A controversy. I’ve enjoyed reading the thoughts of my friend Patrick. The main reason I’ve refrained was that I saw it all as part of our process. People disagreed with the position Truett Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, took and encouraged their friends to not eat there. They also objected to some of the organizations Chick-fil-A chooses to support with its profits, and again encouraged their friends not to eat there.

I have so much respect for someone who is willing to stand up for their beliefs, especially when it’s going to cost them something. I have friends who loved Chick-fil-A, but now refuse to eat there. I have great respect for those who choose not to eat at Chick-fil-A because of an objection to Chick-Fil-A giving to organizations they don’t want to support, or an objection to the CEO of Chick-fil-A stating he believes in a traditional view of marriage.

I also respect Truett Cathy for taking a stand he knows will be unpopular. He runs a company that closes on Sundays, sometimes incurring a fine from the malls they are in. He believes in something and are willing for it to cost him something.

Everything so far is nothing more than a free republic and individuals acting by their conscience, even when they disagree. Again, all part of how our process works.

But there are two recent developments in the Chick-fil-A controversy that I’m disturbed by.

Abuse of Power?

The first is the move by the mayors of Chicago and Boston to no longer allow Chick-fil-A to open any more restaurants in their cities.

We now move beyond the realm of individual people speaking their minds, and their conscience. In this case, we have two mayors bring the power of the state to bear. I’m not taking about the state of Illinois, or Massachusetts, I’m talking about the political state whether that’s a city, county, state, or country. Essentially, these mayors are seeking to take punitive measures against a business because its CEO doesn’t agree with them. This, to me, seems like a very bad precedent to set.

If you can, put aside the specific issue and just thing through the abstract idea. A politician disagrees with a private citizen’s opinion on an issue, and therefore feels empowered to curtail that individuals right to buy and sell within his political power sphere. Imagine for a moment the political power doesn’t agree with you. Is this really something we are okay with?

Let me say this another way. How would you feel if say the mayor of Montgomery announced his city was going to give all its catering business to Chick-fil-A in order to support their stand? The way I see things, both this action, and what the mayors of Boston and Chicago are doing are equally wrong.

In addition, these cities are experiencing high employment and while I imagine working fast food isn’t high on many people’s list of jobs they want, a paycheck is a paycheck, and when you don’t have one, the prospect of one is mighty nice. It seems to me to be a little short sighted of these mayors. Are they trying to score political points at the cost of someone’s job?

We do bring political power to bear when there are issues surrounding hiring and firing, or a business discriminating against a certain class of customers. I have yet to see the first lawsuit even claiming Chick-fil-A discriminates against LGBT people in hiring or firing, nor I have seem anything that indicates that they refuse to serve LGBT people as customers. I have someone in my circle of friends that is openly LGBT and works at Chick-fil-A. They have never treated him any different. Chick-fil-A doesn’t appear to have done anything that rises to the level that would require political intervention.

Tolerance?

This brings me to the second development that disturbs me. We have seen a remarkable lack of tolerance given to Chik-Fil-A. The message, sent by the mayors and others, seems to be ‘agree with us, or we will destroy you’.  This doesn’t seem like it would create an environment for healthy debate. Apparently, we can tolerate no dissent.

I have to wonder what is so dangerous about Truett Cathy and his company that he has been singled out to be attacked this way. His only crime appears to be espousing a position different from those attacking him. The same position held by many Americans including none other than President Barrack Obama  up until about two months ago.

This is supposed to be a land of majority rule and minority rights. Majority rule means that if you can get 51% of the populace to vote with you, you can pass a law that makes same sex marriage legal, as many states have done. Minority rights mean that the other 49% don’t have to agree with it.

To me, this seems a battle better fought in halls of State Senates and State Houses than in your local chicken sandwich shop.

 

What is your take on this whole controversary surrounding Chick-Fil-A? How is it impacting you?

 

As a post-script, I have written my own views on the same sex marriage issue. You can read them here.

 

photo: http://www.chick-fil-a.com/

 

Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will be posting 31 times during the month of July, 2012. Since that is a ton of content, I made a page on the blog where you can see all my entries.

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Flash Fiction Challenge: Must Love Time Travel

I decided to participate in Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction challenge this week called “Must Love Time Travel”.

 

Here were the rules:

You have 1000 words in which to write a story where “time travel” is a prominent feature.

Anything and everything else can feature –

As long as it has time travel.

 

I posted my story on Google Docs. It’s called The Marshall Judgment.

 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1u7DJok5RbYubKjaiyFlBgESC56SSwsyUFCEGVMgsYzY/edit

 

photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TARDIS

 

Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will be posting 31 times during the month of July, 2012. Since that is a ton of content, I made a page on the blog where you can see all my entries.

Questions from Aurora

As I heard about the tragedy in Colorado this weekend, my mind went back to a hot summer night in 2005. That night I was the one sitting at midnight in a dark theatre, waiting for a blockbuster to start showing. My beautiful daughter, just five years old, was asleep at home with a baby sitter.

It could have been me in that theater. We look at a tragedy like this and after the initial shock, we wonder why. Even now, police are looking for explanations that go beyond just this single killer. They are searching for his political affiliations, religious or philosophical beliefs, hobbies, or writings. We will learn /much about this man over the coming weeks, but what will we learn of will fail to satisfy.

President Obama, speaking in Florida said, “Even as we learn how this happened and who’s responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this.”

I’m afraid he’s all too correct this time.

But our human hearts and minds cry out for a why. We want someone to explain the unexplainable. We want it make sense. It’s as if we believe that if we can just answer that question of why and lay this vicious attack at the feet of the Tea Party, or 2nd amendment lobbyists, or OWS, or gun control lobbyist, then we will be truly safe.

This is from Former FBI senior profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole :

The biggest question remains motive. Will the letter Holmes sent give any insight into that? Other cases, like the rambling video sent to a TV network by the Virginia Tech shooter have shown us that even when the suspects try to explain their actions, it rarely makes sense to anyone else.

“I can guarantee you, we will find it unsatisfying because there’s nothing that this individual could say to us, the general public, to sit back and say now I understand why you did this”

 

Despite our searching, somewhere in our hearts we know we won’t understand what caused this man to commit these horrific crimes. We know we aren’t as safe today as we were yesterday.  Our world changed again in Aurora, Colorado, just as it did in Columbine, and in New York on 9/11. When we tell our kids that things are just so different than we grew up, it is because we are all affected by tragedies like these.

But even if we discover his motive, it wouldn’t bring back those lost.

 

photo:http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will be posting 31 times during the month of July, 2012. Since that is a ton of content, I made a page on the blog where you can see all my entries.

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Saturday Six #432

This is my friend Patrick’s weekly meme where he asks six seemingly random questions, and people, like me, answer them. Some in the comments on his blog, and some, again like me, on our own blogs.

1. Have you ever been to a drive-in theater?

Not that I can remember, however; my parents claim to have taken me when I was too small to remember. Given that they were there, and I have no memory of it, I’ll have to take their word for it. Perhaps Cathys Voice can clear this up.

2. What movie would you most like to try watching in a drive-in theater?

Since I’ve never been to a drive-in, I’m not sure which movie would be best enhanced by the experience. Since drive-ins were big in the 70s, perhaps a move from that era would be nice. I would most like to watch Star Wars, in its original form that played in 1977 before George Lucas made all his “enhancements”.

3. Which sport do you feel you are best at?

I have the athletic skill of a drunken marmot. That said, I’m a decent bowler, and that’s probably the sport I’m best at, if you will allow me to stretch the definition of the word sport a bit. But just because I’m not good at sports doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them. I love playing touch football in the fall with Paul and some of the other guys from our community.

I also love to play Frisbee golf with my daughter. We have a course within walking distance of the house.

4. How many devices (count monitors, printers, phones, etc.) are on your computer desk now?

One of each: my monitor, printer, and cell phone. I also have my router, my external hard drive, and my wireless mic.

5. Are you more likely to charge your cell phone at home, at work or in the car?

If I’m near an outlet, my phone is usually plugged in. I got the cheaper Droid Razr, not the Droid Razr Maxx. The Maxx purportedly has the longest lasting battery of any smart phone on the market. The regular Razr does not. It’s not quite as bad as the Droid Charge, but my phone still drains pretty quickly under even moderate use.

6. Do you tend to get most of your news online from a news site or social media like Facebook or Twitter?

I tend to get most of my news from my Twitter feed. By the time I can check Facebook in the evenings, most stories have already broken. Twitter gives instant news as well as reaction. Sometimes that reaction isn’t filtered much (if at all).

We don’t watch TV news because we didn’t want to expose our young children to some of the stories. We feel that, as parents, one of our responsibilities is to filter our kids media, and also to teach them how to filter for themselves.

 

Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will be posting 31 times during the month of July, 2012. Since that is a ton of content, I made a page on the blog where you can see all my entries.

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Book Review : This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti

Last night I finished reading This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. As one of my friends pointed out, I really went old-school with this one as the book was released in the mid 80s. It was recommended to me by a different friend, and I’m glad he did.

Inner Critic

The book takes a little while to really get going and right around page 50 I was having serious doubts as to whether I would continue with it or put it down. I’m glad I stuck with it. By the time I got to the last third of the book, the story flew. The night I finished it, I became completely engrossed and could not put it down. It consumed my entire evening. I haven’t gotten into a book like that in ages.

I tried to read this book more critically than I’ve read in the past, but there were times where I just got lost in the story. There was one scene in particular that was a similar event to one that happens in my current Work In Progress. I was particularly interested in our Peretti handled it.

Even as I throughly enjoyed the story, I was struck by lack of craft in some of the writing. I spotted things in the book that wouldn’t get past a round of Saucy Ink critiques. Adverbs were used early and often, and at one point he even used a double adverb with very something-ly. To be verbs and passive voice were used often as well.

Were standards that different in the 80s?

From a story standpoint my only major quibble was during the last half of the book. I hate it when characters act dumb.

Let me explain.

One of the protagonists is the editor of the local paper. He’s a smart guy, and used to work for the New York Times. By this point in the book, they have already figured out that they should be suspicious of new people in town replacing someone who just decided to leave or was having financial or martial problems. Yet, when his own secretary suddenly leaves, he hires a new person from out of town and isn’t the least bit suspicious of her. It’s not until near the end of the book that he finally suspects her. The big reveal of her true allegiance lost any punch because I already figured it out 10 chapters ago. The character should have too.

What is stunning to me is that despite the issues with the writing and characters, This book remained on the Christian Booksellers Association’s top ten best-sellers list for over 150 consecutive weeks, and has currently sold over 2 million copies worldwide.

Loved It

What I loved about the book was how it gave the reader a look into this mystical world we never see. There was action, adventure, intrigue. You see the action happening to the humans, but then you see the machinations of the spiritual realm, and the two realms interact, even though the humans can’t see it.

It’s been called a modern day Screwtape Letters. The comparison fits well.

The highest praise I can give is that I just couldn’t put it down last night. The characters were unraveling this huge conspiracy and all the mysteries and questions in the book were finding their answers. The climatic battle set up at the very beginning found its resolution. There were twists and turns, and one minute I think the story is going to end one way, and then something happens, and I start thinking it is going to end a completely different way.

Suggestions?

Do you have any suggestion for good books? I’m particularly interested in Christian fiction that incorporates the an element of fantasy or the fantastic like “This Present Darkness” did. Bonus points if they are available on the Nook.

But I’m open to any books that are well written. One of the key things I need to do to learn to write better is to read better.

Here’s my Goodreads profile, or if you want just hit me up in the comments.

photo: http://frankperetti.com/?p=69

Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will be posting 31 times during the month of July, 2012. Since that is a ton of content, I made a page on the blog where you can see all my entries.

How Verizon turned my Razr into a Brick

Pushing the Button

Sunday afternoon I was out getting lunch for the family when my phone buzzed at me. There was a message on the phone saying it needed to perform a system update, and a countdown timer. I pulled into the restaurant and noticed the timer had gone down to zero. The screen was fuzzed out and all that was clear was an Update Now button.

I pushed the button. I so wish I hadn’t.

The phone turned itself off and when it turned itself back on there was the little green android guy next to a box and a line going across the screen. I figured it must be downloading and installing the update. I waited about 5 mintues, and the little bar was still working its way across the screen.

I’d love to tell you that it was out of concern for my wife and kids that I decided to leave the phone in the car and go get lunch. The truth is I was just getting hungry. When I came back to the car, the phone was still at it. Merrily, I drove home.

So It Begins

After lunch, I grabbed my phone and noticed it was on the Motorola screen. When my phone turns on, the first screen that comes up is the Motorolo screen, then a little Droid animation, and then the phone is ready for use.

I waited and waited, and yet, nothing changed. Normally at this point, I would pull the battery to sort of reboot the phone. That seems to be the answer to many problems with technology. The only problem is, the Razr  doesn’t have a removable battery. I guess the city of San Francisco won’t be buying any.

We were headed over to my sister’s place, ironically to give her my old Droid Incredible. On the ride over, I called Verizon tech support. They theorized the update had not finished. They walked me through rebooting the phone, but it didn’t fix the problem. The next step in the troubleshooting would be to do a factory reset. This would wipe out all the data on the phone. But before we could do that the tech told me something that made my blood run cold. The pictures and videos on the Razr are stored on local memory, not the removable SD card. Wiping the phone would erase those pictures.

The Pit of Despair

I have dozens of videos of my kids on my phone including my son’s first steps. I have 100s of pictures. The thought of losing them all nearly made me sick. I had to at least try to get them off before I wiped the phone (or told my wife). I got my case number and hung up with tech support.

That night after we got home, I plugged the phone into my computer. The phone and the computer weren’t talking. It seems like the Razr needed the phone to be able to boot up before it could figure out how to talk to the computer.

I had to tell my wife what was going on and about the possibility to losing all those pictures and videos. I’ve got to give her credit, she handled the news pretty well. Of course at this point, there was still that small chance I wouldn’t lose them.

It was late on Sunday by this point, so I decided to go to bed. I went all Monday without a phone. That was an almost surreal feeling. I felt the weight missing from my hip, but the thought that my wife couldn’t get in touch with at a moments notice was unnerving.

20 Seconds

When I got home Monday, I called Verizon and sat on hold for over half an hour. When I finally got a tech,  I could tell he had been getting beat up pretty good all day. He kept saying stuff like ‘I know how much of an inconvenience this is’ and ‘we are very sorry this has happened to your phone’

I’m a geek. I love my Droid. I had been on hold for over a half hour. I had every right to be mad. But  I sensed this guy needed a breather. I decided to give him 20 seconds.  I told him, ‘sure it’s a bummer, but really, it’s just a phone.’

I gave him the case number, and reluctantly told him I was ready to wipe the phone. He walked me through the steps. He told me that the pictures were likely on the sd card, in direct contradiction to what the first tech told me.

We rebooted the wiped phone but still nothing. He told me they would have to send out a refurbished replacement phone to me. He said they normally overnight them, but given the time of day  it was, the guys in the warehouse might have gone home already. Instead of getting Tuesday, I wouldn’t get it until Wednesday.

I really didn’t want to go another two days without a phone, but getting mad at the tech wasn’t going to get my new phone to me any faster. I could tell my response surprised him. I said, “I’m sure those guys want to go home, too. Wednesday is fine.”

I was pleasantly surprised to find an email from Verizon the next day stating the phone had shipped and I would get it on Tuesday. The tech must have been able to catch the warehouse guys before they went home.

I got the new phone Tuesday night and switched over the SIM card and the SD card. It came up. I had a phone again!

Moment of Truth

Now it was time to see which tech was right about my pictures and videos. My hands were literally trembling as I hit the button to bring up the pictures.

They were there, all there.

The techs at Verizon were all very nice, and I appreciate them shipping my new phone out next day. I have no idea if my kindness to the tech influenced him to ask a favor of the warehouse guys or not. I’m just glad to have my Droid back.

A special thanks to JD at @VZWSupport for all his help in getting me a phone again. He was great.

 

P.S. As a Star Wars geek, the fact that I can say my Droid makes me all kinds of happy. Verizon, that licensing was money well spent. I just wish I had been able to get the R2D2 when it came out.

 

photo: http://phandroid.com/2011/08/12/verizon-intros-20300mb-data-plan-for-mid-atlantic-region/

 

Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will be posting 31 times during the month of July, 2012. Since that is a ton of content, I made a page on the blog where you can see all my entries.

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Ten Opening Sentences

Idea stolen from Tami and Bre.

The opening sentence is key to any story or novel. Tami and Bre have been talking about some of their favorite opening sentences, and I decided I would add my own.

“Who is John Galt?” – Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I read this book between m senior year in High School and Freshmen year in college. It is an epic tale and showed me how powerfully a well done story could impact people. Atlas Shrugged started me on a journey that led me to eventually read everything Ayn Rand ever wrote.

“Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.” – The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

I think for many people who choose to become lifelong readers there is a book that starts the love affair. For me, that book was The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I didn’t understand much of the symbolism the first time I read it as a 7th grader.  Okay, I really didn’t understand any of it, but I immediately identified with Edmund, and then wish I hadn’t. I couldn’t see myself as a Peter. Never when I was growing up did I ever picture myself in the leaders role. I always wanted to be Robin to someone else’s Batman. It made me pretty popular on the playground.

I wound up reading the entire series, and much like Ayn Rand, Lewis’ fiction led me to his non-fiction. If Rand was the guide on my journey away from God, Lewis was my guide on the journey home.

“”Captain Pellaeon?” a voice called down the portside crew pit through the hum of background conversation.” - Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

I am a huge Star Wars fan.Timothy Zahn was given the task of continue the Star Wars saga in novel form. He had to stay true to the original, while breaking out into new territory. He had to take characters his readers knew so well like Han, Luke, and Leia and continue to grow their character. His three book trilogy was a huge success and launched the expanded universe of Star Wars.

“Tika Waylan straightened her back with a sigh, flexing her shoulders to ease her cramped muscles.” Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragonlance CHRONICLES VOLUME ONE  by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Knights riding dragons. I was hooked. The Dragonlance novels captured my imagination, and I devoured them. I remeber sneaking one of the Dragonlance Chronicles books into my Freshman physics class and reading it right until the lecture started. Weis and Hickman created this world that I kept wanting to return to. The charcters were vivid and memorable.

“He walked with the assurance of stature, and most others deferred to him subtly.” – Split Infinity, Piers Anthony

There’s that moment when the aspirant meets the work of a master. The first time an aspiring artist sees a Monet, or when a young basketball star watches clips of Michael Jordan, or when the aspiring sci-fi/fantasy author reads his first Piers Anthony. That was me starting to read Split Infinity. I read the entire Apprentice Adept series, and loved each one in turn. It was so hard not to write a story about Neysa for my unicorn story, but I didn’t feel like that would be a good idea.

“Dragon!” - Beyond the Moons by David Cook

And so opens the first book of the Cloakmaster Cycle set in the world of Spelljammer. The book is a largely a chase with main character Teldin Moore running for his life. In the process he goes on an incredible adventure that takes him far beyond his simple farm. It’s the story a simple man thrust, largely against his will, into the heroes role.

I was probably one of the few people who actually enjoyed the Spelljammer setting, and the books gave me a chance to revisit it long after TSR stopped supporting it. It was, much like Anthony’s work, a love for the blending of science fiction and fantasty that attracted me to Spelljammer. Later it would lead me to to RIFTS (not the MMO, the pen and paper game by Palladium).

“Rayford Steele’s mind was on a woman he had never touched” -Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins

I came to the Left Behind series a little bit later than most, but once  I started reading the books I was hooked. The more I read the more I cared about the characters. The premise captured my imagination. It’s a series that after you finish being completely engrossed by the story forces you to look at your beliefs and ask yourself what you really believe.

“I never liked jazz music because jazz music didn’t resolve.” - Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

I loved Blue Like Jazz. It was recommended to me by my friend Paul. Blue Like Jazz isn’t a novel, but it’s a collection of essays by Donald Miller. He is similar in many ways to Anne Lamott.  He provides a view on Christianity that is so unorthodox and yet completely orthodox at the same time. Many of his ideas resonated with me, as did his experience of walking away and then walking back to faith.

 ”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – The Gospel according to John by John the Apostle

Again, not a novel, but John is my favorite book in the entire Bible. In fact, if you were only going to read one book in the Bible, my recommendation would be John. Each gospel gives a slightly different angle on Christ, and John concentrates on Christ’s ability to love.

Blantant Self Promotion

“King Jeho lovingly stroked his wife’s hair as he stood by her bed.” – Authenticity by Ted Atchley

Authenticity is the story I submitted to the first Saucy Ink Short Story collection.

“Lorrilyn’s heart pounded.” – Rebellion by Ted Atchley

Rebellion is the story I’m submitting to the second Saucy Ink Short Story collection. It’s not available yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as it is. Based upon what I’ve seen so far, it’s going to be a fantastic collection.

“David sat in the middle of his efficiency apartment and looked around for the last time.” – Dream Chaser by Ted Atchley

Dream Chaser is the novel I’m working on. Currently, I’m revising the first draft, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it after that. I will probably just table it for a while as it is a very long way from anything I would pursue publishing with.

 

photo: http://vixstar1314.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/closed-book/
Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will be posting 31 times during the month of July, 2012. Since that is a ton of content, I made a page on the blog where you can see all my entries.

Saturday Six #431

My friend, Patrick, has another episode of his weekly Saturday Six meme.

1. How often do you actually smile for pictures?

I don’t smile for pictures very often, at least not the big grin you normally see. I’m actually somewhat self conscious about my teeth. Usually, I am the one taking the pictures, so I’m rarely in them to begin with anyway.

2. What is so embarrassing about the most embarrassing photo ever taken of you?

I’m sure my sister would have a heyday with this one.

Understand that I’ve gone to great lengths to ensure there aren’t any embarrassing photos of me, and if there were, I’ve made sure to destory the evidence.

My sister has one of the few still remaining in existence. It is a photo of me is from when I was in 4th grade. Our school was putting on The Wizard of Oz, and I was playing a munckin. The picture is of me in green leotards and tights. I don’t find nearly as embarassign as my sister thinks I do.

3. If you could only read one single magazine for the rest of your life, which magazine would you most likely choose?

ESPN, the Magazine. I’m a huge sports fan and while I throughly enjoy the work of Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, on the whole, ESPN produces a better magazine than SI. Plus, I have a feeling ESPN will have their magazine around longer than SI.

But I think magazines are something of an endangered species. There’s nothing a magazine does that can’t be done better by reading the content on an iPad or Android Tablet.

4. How often do you visit a brick-and-mortar local library?

Only about four times a year. My wife and kids go about twice a month and I usually ask them to pickup the books I’m interested in. I’ll send her with my “To Read” books from Goodreads. More often than not, she doesn’t have much luck with the books I’m after. Our local library is somewhat sparse on books, espeically newer ones, but we can and often do put in requests to have books moved from the main downtown library up to our neck of the woods

5. When borrowing books or renting movies, what percentage of the time do you incur a late charge?

For books, it’s about 50% of the time. My wife handles all of this work, and her plate is so full with kids, schooling, housework, I’m amazed it’s not higher.  For videos, we only use RedBox these days and we’re about 50% with them too. We may plan on watching a movie but my eighteen month old son might have other ideas. With Redbox (and its the same with Blockbuster) you only get one night, so even keeping it a second night incurs the fee. When I was younger, you got to keep your movies a whole week. Of course, you also silently wept if the previous customer had not reworund it.

6. What’s something you do on Saturday that you generally don’t do any other day of the week?

Yard work. Saturday is about the only day I can get it done. I work during the week, and my Sunday is devoted to church, and very soon football. If it doesn’t get done on Saturday, it’s nto getting done.

Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will be posting 31 times during the month of July, 2012. Since that is a ton of content, I made a page on the blog where you can see all my entries.

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Story Ideas Part 3: The Lump of Clay

Last week,  I talked about how I come up with my story ideas, and this is one of the first lessons I learned as I started studying the art of storytelling and reading more advanced writers.

Part 1 Light the Fire

Part 2 Light the Fire

Before we begin learning to write, we think the value is in the story idea. It’s not. The value is added when the idea becomes a rich story with memorable characters and an emotional impact.

Giving a lump of clay to my 18 month old, and giving that same lump of clay to a sculptor would produce drastically different results. For one, my 18 month old would probably try to eat it. The sculptor would work the clay into something far more valuable than he started with.

The story idea is like that lump of clay. I could give a more accomplished writer the exact idea for a story, and she would execute it so beautifully,and people would love the story she wrote from the idea. I couldn’t take any credit at all. You might be thinking, but ‘you gave her the idea’. Sure, but it was her skill and talent that turned that little spark into a beautiful story, and for that, she would deserve all the credit.

In a way, that’s what we’re doing with Dragons. We’ve all taken the idea of a dragon and written a different story. It would work the same even with a more detailed prompt. Each artist would bring their own history, and their unique way of looking at the world, and write a different story.

It’s only when you get to the level where everyone has honed their craft that you see the difference an idea can make. The publishing world tries very hard to make sure we only see people at that level. That’s why we think the idea has such value because we don’t understand the process, talent, and skill it takes to turn that lump of clay into a beautiful statue.

 

Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will be posting 31 times during the month of July, 2012. Since that is a ton of content, I made a page on the blog where you can see all my entries.

 

photo: http://potteryblog.com/2008/03/the-quarter-trick/

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image2381

Boot Scootin Boogie: 18 months

It’s been entirely too long since I did an update on my son. My original goal was monthly updates, but that didn’t happen.

My son is now 18 months. He weighs 24lbs 8 oz, and is 2’8″ tall. According it his peditrician, he’s right at the top of the bell curve for height and weight, meaning he’s exactly in the normal range.

Walking

He’s taken his first steps, but isn’t completely walking yet. He still likes to cruise (hold on to furniture as he walks around), and loves to hold onto my finger as we walk around the house. He doesn’t really need to hold the finger anymore, but I think he likes the security of it.

He still prefers to crawl most of the time. He’s must faster crawling than he is walking. I come to the piter patter of little hands slapping the hardwood floors. He’s taken a few spills, but nothing serious. For the most part he just springs back up and keeps on trucking. He can get up and down our stairs pretty well, but we still keep a close eye on him.

Talking

He only says about four ‘words’. Yes, words in quotation marks. His vocabularly consists of “MaMa”, “DaDa”, “BaBa” (his bottle), and “NighNigh” (go to bed). Our peditrician says that four is on the low end of normal for this age, but normal is all they look for right now.

He’s recently added “GaGa”. Originally this was how he said Goldfish, but now it refers to any snack we give him. Basically GaGa means “Feed Me”.

My wife and I had this brilliant idea to teach him sigh language when he was younger. We taught him the sign for ‘please’. It’s basically rubbing your tummy. Now he rubs his tummy and points. Sometimes, he’ll rub his tummy, point and grunt. Then there’s the rub the tummy, point and whine. That gets old pretty quick. I don’t think he actually knows that he is saying please. He just figured out if he rubbed his tummy we gave him stuff.

He also says near words, and his favorite is ‘Zuh Zah’. I have no idea what it means, but he says it alot.

He sleeps pretty well most nights, and has a somewhat regular nap schedule.

Eating & Allergies

He’s completely off baby food. He loves green beans, carrotts, various pasta and tomato sauce conncocations. His favorite though is the mac and cheese. He still refuses to eat meat. I don’t know why.

He’s still allergic to apples, and apples or apple juice is in everything they make for kids. It’s a fairly rare allergy so sometimes the apple juice won’t even be properly labeled. Luckily his allergy is no worse than a skin rash.

We get a ton of advice for his allergy rash. One of the ladies from our church hand made some soap for him. That seemed to help some, and I was overwhelmed someone would take the time and effort to do that for my son.

Outside of his rash, he’s in very good health.

Playtime

He’s learned how to sort of throw this inflateable ball he has. He got it at a birthday party one of our friends threw for their baby. Inside the ball is a giraffe. He loves to throw it around, and he even caught it a couple of times. He loves his shape sorter and the musical table my late grandmother got him this past christmas.

He also loves to sit on the couch watching his older sister play Wii. We give him the nunchcuk. After he chews on it, he sits there and rocks, and watches.

 

In some ways I’m amazed by what he’s mastered in just 18 months, but in others I’m stunned by just how much he still has to learn.

 

photo: http://mannor.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/holding-three-fingers/

 

Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will be posting 31 times during the month of July, 2012. Since that is a ton of content, I made a page on the blog where you can see all my entries.