Friday, September 30, 2005

Book Review XIV

Book Review Title: Confessions of a "Wicked" Woman Author: Susanna Carr Genre: Chick Lit Summary: A small town girl hides from her past until it confronts her when her business partner reveals her roots. What was Good: The dialogue between the characters was excellent in supporting the story line. What wasn't: The story line was trite. Nothing made it different than dozens of other chick lit novels. The Take-Away: I'd probably check out the next one by this author, but only if I tripped over it in the library. Recommendation: So-so. Read it if nothing better is on your shelves.

Book Review XIII

Book Review Title: Life before Death Author: Abby Frucht Genre: Literary Summary: The journey and self-discovery of a woman with breast cancer What was Good: The writing was fantastic. It takes place in Oshkosh and I learned about the town I live in as well. What wasn't: The first half of the book was straight forward. The second half wasn't. The book contained both possible outcomes of having breast cancer. The timeline and story got confusing. The Take-Away: It was worth reading, but I struggled with it. Maybe my brain has become too accustom to easy reads. Recommendation: Take the time, but also check out some review sites.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Book Review XII

Title: Rules of play Author: Nora Roberts Genre: Romance Summary: Two previous Silohette or Harlequin novels republished as one book. What was Good: These are two of Nora Roberts early books. Her ability in creating great characters can be seen here. What wasn't: These are two of Nora Roberts early books. The story line is found in hundreds of others 80s "romance" novels. The Take-Away: I'm a fan of Ms Roberts. As an writer, I love seeing how her writing has grown and changed with her increased skills. Recommendation: Skip it, unless cheesy story lines are a favorite.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Book Review XI

Title: Riddles of Epsilon Author: Christine Morton-Shaw Genre: Fantasy Summary: A family moves into an old house far away from their teen-aged daughter's troubled friends. While exploring her new island home, the girl discovers a cottage that is the beginning of an adventurous summer. What was Good: The story was fantastic. As in many fantasy novels the crux of the problem came down to Good vs. Evil. The author made it better, however, through her illustration of the difficulty in deciding what is Good and what is Evil. What wasn't: The story was told through journal entries and online chat sessions. The chat sessions were nicely done. The journal entries were not realistic. I once was a 13-14 year old who kept a journal and know for a fact that journals aren't written as this one was. I'm a 28 year old journaller who didn't find it believeable either. I believe that the purpose of the journal was to add credibility to the narrator. It wouldn't have been necessary. First person limited, without the journal-like entries would have been as effective and more credible. The Take-Away: It could be said that every story has been told. The trick is finding what is new in the story. Ms Morton-Shaw accomplished this trick quite well. I'll be looking for the release of her next book. Recommendation: Buy a copy and read it. Then pass it onto your favorite teen reader.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Furthering the NaNo Effort

Earlier this week (month?) I posted about signing up as the ML for NaNo in the Fox Valley. A few links to help you decipher what, exactly, NaNo is. What is NaNo? Short Answer: An organization for crazy people who want to achieve the status of Novelist in one month's time. How it works Short Answer: Answers to the bulk of the weird questions of which you've been thinking. General FAQ Short Answer: Intergrity is the only thing that keeps the rule breakers in check. Technical FAQ Short Answer: Oh, so I don't need to feed my computer cookies. Attendance Record (and the approximate number of people that can be expected to join such an endevour) 1999: 21 participants and six winners 2000: 140 participants and 29 winners 2001: 5000 particpants and more than 700 winners 2002: 13,500 participants and around 2100 winners 2003: 25,500 participants and about 3500 winners 2004: 42,000 participants and just shy of 6000 winners

Monday, September 26, 2005

Book Review IX

Book Review Title: Shopaholic Takes Manhattan Author: Sophie Kinsella Genre: Chick Lit Summary: Becky Bloomwood has a shopping problem that should have been conquered in her first print appearance in Confessions of a Shopoholic. While the debt was cleared away, she has been offered a trip of a life time -- to New York City. For Becky, her shopping dream quickly turns into a nightmare. Thank goodness one can wake-up from dreams. What was Good: I avoided reading this book, even though Confessions of a Shopoholic was superb. I feared it would just be more of the same, but I WAS WRONG. Ms. Kinsella was marvelous, simply marvelous. Becky's habits manifest in a completely different and equally funny way. New York allowed her shopping overrun her life, yet again. The recovery was even more amazing than her first instance of paying off her debt, which was referenced a few times. What wasn't: Becky has problems with the conversion between British pounds and American dollars from the start. It didn't work for me. The math is pretty basic; I've had to work it the other direction. The Take-Away: Becky's outrageous behavior makes me laugh and her solutions make me envy her. Recommendation: Take an afternoon and laugh at someone's else credit card debit. Be comforted that your's isn't as bad. Then start thinking of a Becky-like solution to absolve yours.

Book Review X

Book Review Title: Shopaholic Ties the Knot Author: Sophie Kinsella Genre: Chick Lit Summary: Becky gets to have her dream wedding and money is no object. The only problem now is to decide what her dream wedding is -- a ceremony at the Plaza or a service in her parents' backyard. What was Good: Becky still has her problems with shopping. Instead of being able to buy everything and run up her credit cards again, she cannot decide on any one thing. One dress, one cake and one wedding seem so limiting, when viewed through Becky's eyes. What wasn't: Even though Becky has a problem with buying too much, it would seem like she would be able to make decisions better than she did. The Take-Away: This was a fantastic break from the "normal" Shopoholic novel. It kept the character quite real. Recommendation: Read it the day after you read Shopaholic Takes Manhattan. There's no such thing as too much Becky.

Book Review VIII

Book Review Title: Getting Rid of Bradley Author: Jennifer Crusie Genre: Chick Lit Summary: A woman wants a divorce, but her husband simply won't go away. Neither will the cop who thinks her husband is trying to kill her. What was Good: Every bad thing that could possible happen to a woman while trying to seduce a man happens to someone other than yourself. What wasn't: The main characters fall in love and want to marry each other in a matter of two weeks. Not realistic in my world. The Take-Away: A semi-realistic, but highly entertaining story. Recommendation: This is one of Jennifer Crusie's first novels. While it shows how wonderful her characters always are, read a Bet Me first.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Blog News

We the Bloggers... begins an piece by Bloglines re: blogs, political campaigns and the Committee on House Administration.

As some of you may have heard, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is reviewing its regulations concerning political speech on the Internet, including blog activity. Bloglines is committed to the continuation of open exchanges of information and opinions throughout the blogosphere and the Internet in general. Today, the Committee on House Administration is having a hearing on this issue. In the spirit of these beliefs, I have provided the Committee with the following statement. We encourage you to express your opinion on this matter in any forum you choose.
Go to the website. Read the letter sent. The Congress will find out today how powerful blogs are and can be.

Michael Perry

Last night Michael Perry spoke to 135+ people in the Oshkosh Public Library. If you weren't there, you missed out on a fantastic speaker, a wonderful writer and a great story teller. This man played his audience, reading the room well and deciding which stories and jokes would be hits. He told ones I had heard before, but still made me laugh. The Oshkosh Area Writer's were his hosts, but really Ruth deserves much of the credit for his arrival. We merely filled in the blanks so she wouldn't wear herself thin. Mike grew up in northern Wisconsin, near Eau Claire, in a tiny town with the population of 485, hence the name of the book, Population: 485. I first heard Mike speak at the Aestival Festival Conference last fall. I bought his book, which brought frequent tears to my eyes. Sometimes because I was laughing, other times because I was crying. As a member of the Oshkosh Area Writers, I was privileged to escort Mike to and from the restaraunt and dine with him, along with a dozen or so of my fellow club members. The time spent with him, whether it be the few minutes in my car or the discussion at dinner, will be one of my favorite memories of this fall. Mike's books are available from his website or most local retailers. Paper Tiger has a limited number of autographed copies, if that would be prefered. Mike's book is non-fiction, about his life in New Auburn. About leaving as a farm boy and coming home as a nurse and poet. About spreading his wings and exploring his roots. It is the story of many, told by one.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

More Advertising

As if we aren't subjected to enough of it already.

You pick up a phone. You dial a number. You hear a ringing signal that will continue until the call is answered or you hang up. You are listening to a "ring back" signal that is currently being replaced by music and eventually, advertisements. Today, major telecoms like AT&T and Verizon have introduced ring back replacement with customized music. Kind of like a higher-end ring tone where the caller hears the music, not the person receiving the call. If Perceptive Impression has their way, the music will be replaced with targeted advertisements the company creates. Perceptive Impression claims that "ring back" ads are the newest advertising platform. According to consultancy Ovum, the worldwide market for "ring backs" is projected to grow from $148 million in 2003 to $2.4 billion by 2008.
If they do this, would it be the provider? Specific companies? For me it would be enough reason to not renew a contract or seek another provider. via J-Walk

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Book Review VII

Title: Secret Life of Bees Author: Sue Monk Kidd Genre: Literary Summary: A teenage girl runs from her father after learning the truth about her mother's death. Her journey take her to Tilbourn, South Carolina, a pink house and three black women. Her story is set during the turmoil of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. What was Good: The interaction between "Normal People" and the "Events of History" is my favorite way of learning about history. The tension of the Civil Rights Movement is told on the peripheral of the story, but affects all of the characters, just as today's history does for us. The personal story of Lily was told in a wonderful voice that rang with truth. What wasn't: Personally I would have liked to see it taken further. The author's goal was achieved with Lily's story and some of the subplots were wrapped up, but I wanted more at the ending. The Take-Away: In one scene, Lily discovers that June doesn't like her because Lily is white. Discovering that racism works both ways is an eye-opener for Lily. It made me pause, and think about those that I've judged based on whatever shallow criteria may have passed through my mind. Were they doing the same to me? Recommendation: Settle in for a good read. The story and character appeal on a number of levels.

Book Review VI

Title: How to Meet Cute Boys Author: Deanna Kizis Genre: Chick Lit Summary: A columnist for a woman's magazine (think Cosmo or Elle) uses her dating life for fodder. She meets a wonderful (younger) man who isn't ready to for a real relationship. What was Good: The book was populated with the articles that XXXX was writing. The way that they were placed in the book added and showed how the lines between her professional and private life often crossed. What wasn't: The ending sucked. It ends, but doesn't resolve. I hate books like this. The Take-Away: If I had known the type of ending, this book had, I would have had to weigh the cutsy columns vs. the lack of an ending. Recommendation: Weigh the lack of an ending vs. the greatness of the column inserts. Decide which you like most.

Book Review V

Title: Sushi for Beginners Author: Marian Keyes Genre: Chick Lit Summary: Three different women, with very different lives, discover their strengths and weaknesses in Dublin, Ireland. The bonds of friendship are tested between the woman and their strength is discovered by the book's end. What was Good: Marian Keyes has a fantastic way of layering the development of her characters so that you think you know them and then BAM! something new, and totally believable, is revealed. What wasn't: Usually the author has a goal for telling the story. This one didn't seem to have much of one other than entertaining the reader. It ends well and doesn't leave an unresolved feeling in my mouth, but I'm not exactly sure what the goal was either. The Take-Away: I loved the description of the looks of a character that receives Botox treatments. Because all three women take turns telling the story, the reader finds out not only what the reasons that the Botox is used, but the cover that is told and how it is received by the other women. Recommendation: I'd recommend other titles of Marian Keyes' first and save this one for last.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Spy vs Spy...

...recently posted an entry about what happens to a book when it is seen by an agent and by an editor. The blog's tag line is

Agent 007 on Publishing: A book editor becomes an agent and tells it like it is.
The agent's point of view
SPY… Good day, Sunshine. La la la… Agent 007, here, and it’s a great day. I’ve just signed a new author, and here’s how it happened: 1. Received a very interesting, well-written (though perhaps a little too long) email query on a great topic that I can relate to. Googled author and his credentials are every bit as good as he presented them, if not better. He hasn’t already self-published his book and tried to hide it. Plus, he’s gorgeous.
The editor's point of view
…VS. SPY Haven’t had a dream in a long time. See, the life I’ve had can make a good man bad. So for once in my life, let me get what I want… Lord knows, it would be the first time… Editor 007, here. It’s yet another day. I’ve just signed a new author. Here’s how it happened: 1. I had editorial meeting this morning, a two-hour lunch because I had to travel to midtown, and an afternoon marketing strategy meeting for one of my books on an upcoming list. Now it’s 5:30 and I haven’t returned the stack of phone calls or the inbox full of emails, let alone read the cover letters for the five submissions that came in today. I’m beat. I’ll grab the shortest one from the agent I like best and take it home tonight.
What I loved about the bits that I didn't post was the honesty in the evaluation. The entry really shows the importance of the timing - right agent, right time of day, right level of enthusiasm. No wonder wannabes are told to expect rejection and try again. And again. And again. The entry doesn't discourage me in the slightest. Since I understand the complications behind acceptance of my "perfect" novel, I'm more willing to send it out. Again. And again. via Words of a Writer

Monday, September 19, 2005

Book Review IV

Title: The Last Suppers Author: Diane Mott Davidson Genre: Mystery Summary: Goldy finally accepts Tom's proposal, plans the wedding and is at the church on time. Tom isn't. He disappears shortly after the phone call to Goldy. Her only clues are Tom's notebook and her ability to find information. What was Good: The recipes (of course) and seeing the different paths that Goldy trod before coming across the correct one. In her prior books, Ms Davidson had a pretty straight forward discovery method. This novel switches the pattern. The reader is given the clues but the full meaning of them isn't revealed quite as quickly. What wasn't: Perhaps it was because of the mystery's effect on Goldy, but there seemed to be "extras" in this book. Scenes took too long at times and didn't always seem to be relevant. The Take-Away: The author experienced some growing pains in this piece. The previous books were good. I'd still check out the next one. Recommendation: I'd read it, but I wouldn't necessarily re-read it.

Book Review III

Title: 4th of July, 4th in the Women's Dective Club Series Author: James Patterson Genre: Mystery Summary: After responding to a lead on the most recent case, Lindsay Boxer is prosecuted for her reaction to a situation that went from bad to worse. Until her trial, she moves out of town, only to be haunted by an old cold case that may no longer be cold. What was Good: Fantastic characters that continue to grow in their fictional lives. It's easy to think of them as friends living across the country. What wasn't: Two separate stories are really taking place in this book. First is Lindsay's trial and the crime spree that led up to it. Second is the crime spree that occurs while she is on leave. The connection between the two, even at the end of the book, felt stretched. At times, it didn't even seem plausible. If the whole thing with the trial had been removed, I would have missed meeting her lawyer, but nothing else. The Take-Away: This book completely focuses on Lindsay, leaving the remaining members of the Club in the wings. The gap from the last novel is filled by Lindsay's lawyer. The subplot of the trial develops her character nicely and shows that she will fit in as well as Jill did. Recommendation: Send everyone out of the house for a few hours and read it in one or two sittings. The pacing of the action and storyline keeps you wanting more. Note: My husband, a picky reader if there ever was, recently finished 3rd Degree and liked it. He might even read the other three, he stated.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Let the Insanity Begin

The sign-up for National Write a Novel Month opens soon - October 1st, to be exact. Last year I took on the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. I did it. I'm going to do it again this year. I spent time in October of last year outlining the book I was going to write. It was somewhat autobiographical. My one-sentence description was: A young widow returns to her midwestern hometown to pick-up the fragments of her life. The widow was me. The people I ran into throughout the book were people I knew as a child. At times it was really fun making extremely bad things happen to them. Others I was equally pleased to give them good lives and to be nice to them. I've never felt so devilish as I did writing that book. Since the goal is quantity, not quality, I'm sure it is perfectly dreadful and have only minute plans to edit it. Or even re-read it. I never read more than the last paragraph before starting a new session.. This year, though, I signed on to be the Municipal Liason for the Fox Valley Region (Appleton to Fond du Lac and all point inbetween.) I'd like to do some really fun things, but need to wait for the forum boards to renew for the new year so I can see who is in the area and get some of their imput. I want to have weekly writing goals, prizes for those who have met them, and such. If you are interested, if you aren't in the Fox Valley, go to and sign-up. Celebrate when you start and when you are done. If you think 50,000 words in 30 days is crazy, try these folks. They give you a mere 3 days to get it done.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Declaring a Purpose

My writer's group Oshkosh Area Writers recently celebrated its two year anniversary. It seemed like a good time to review the purpose of the club. One of my favorite writer's blogs, Holly Lisle had some advice for the foundation of a writer's group. It includes, but doesn't limit itself to, the following points:

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, or How to Choose a Writers' Group Does the group have a clearly defined goal, preferably in writing? Does the group have any interest in the type of writing you want to do? Does the membership arrive and get to work, or does everyone just stand around and talk about writing? Are there any rules for people who are criticizing each others work to follow? Are there any rules for people whose work is being criticized to follow? Does the group have set guidelines for behavior, and a way to remove troublesome members? Do the people who are there like each other? Does everybody bring work to each meeting, or do you hear from the same three people? Is anybody happy to see you?
She also posts the rules for a group that she was (is?) a member of.
Schrodinger's Petshop Members' Handbook Schrodinger's Petshop Rules of Order 1) No throwing of objects not actually owned by you. 2) No duelling indoors. 3) Absolutely no blood on the carpet, or on any latex flat-painted surface. 4) Anyone making allegations of questionable parentage about another writer must be prepared to provide proof. ... Schrodinger's Rules of Critiquing 1) Critique the writing, never the writer. Never say, "You are..." or "You should..." Instead say, "The writing is..." or "The story should..." 2) Find what is right in each piece as well as what is wrong. ... General Information... Benefits of Membership...
While I like many of the suggestions and rules, I'm a single person and cannot (will not!) make rules for the whole. I'm trying very hard to refrain from imposing my will upon them all. My group does struggle with some issues. Differences in goal and purpose seems to be the cause of many of them. Some are there simple to have an audience and seek praising comments. Others want critiques to improve the quality of their writing. The third group has the ultimate goal of publication. As you can imagine, meeting the needs of all three hurts some weeks. Some of us are poets. Others write short stories. Some have long pieces or finished novels. A few have the promise of bringing something some day. I feel that we are doing a good job filling the need of critiques, in our Saturday morning sessions. A once a month workshop has been added in order to assist with the technical aspects of being a writer. But I feel that we lack in encouraging those who have not been writing, to continue to write. Maybe we need a 12-step program. Any thoughts or experiences to share?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The End of the Road

If I ever plan to abandon my blog, I'd look into Blog Binders. Yep, they bind your blog into a book. I've flipped through the site quickly. It's expensive, but comparable to other print on demands that I've seen. LuLu is better priced, but this company takes out much of the work that would be involved with a blog to get it to format right.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Little Guy Fights Back

And thank God for that. Maybe hospitals and insurance companies will get it. If not, the lawyers will. Woman Charged $1,133 to Clip Toenail

SEATTLE (AP) -- A lawsuit spawned by a $1,133 bill to clip a toenail and run some tests at a hospital has been certified as a class action. The ruling this week in King County Superior Court could raise the stakes by millions of dollars in a consumer protection case brought by Lori Mill against Virginia Mason Medical Center. Mill is challenging a $418 fee included in the bill for "miscellaneous hospital charges" because she had the work done at Virginia Mason's downtown complex rather than at one of the medical center's satellite clinics
That's a hell of a pedicure.


I love the Oshkosh Public Library's online reserve system. I look-up the book I want, tell them I want to pick it up in Oshkosh and wait for the email saying that it is ready for me to pick-up. To make it even better, they went to placing these books in a patron area so I can now use the self-checkout machines too. No more waiting in line, especially as few use the self-checkout. I was relaying my enthusiasm to a friend who works for the library. In turn she let me know that the new system that I love meant that one person lost their job. In a word, I was crushed. The library relies on public funds. With budget cuts being toted by tax payers, local and state representatives, along with those boys high up in Madison, something had to give. I don't know who the person was. And I'm sorry that my elation cost you your job.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Book Review II

Title: Terminal Author: Robin Cook Genre: Medical Summary: The astounding results of a medical center attract the attention of a medical student who discovers more than the surface reveals. What was Good: Good pacing and loads of action. The explanations of technical aspects were easily followed and somewhat believeable. What wasn't: A summary statement for this book could have been accurate enough and generic enough to fit a dozen of books. Some of the plot movers were too coincidental. The entire subplot with the janitor should have been left out. It did not enhance the main plot in anyway other than to add confusion to the various groups watching the medical student and his girlfriend. The Take-Away: A pretty generic medical thriller, but given its publication date (1992) and the strides in the mystery/thriller genre add to the trite plot lines. It was a struggle to finish, because of the predictability. Recommendation: Skip it, unless compact answers are thrilling.

New Ways to Steal

Collision Detection comments on a new wave of theft.

Antivirus companies have recently put out an advisory for a piece of malware called "PWSteal.Wowcraft". And what does this computer virus do? As Symantec describes it: PWSteal.Wowcraft is a password-stealing Trojan horse that attempts to steal the password to the "World of Warcraft" game and send it to the creator of the Trojan. This is ever more evidence that the economy of virtual worlds is becoming so lucrative that crime -- in all its variants -- is moving there.
Basically what happens is an online gamer (yourself, your kids, etc.) play and acquire objects valuable to the game. Someone hacks the system, steals your virtual posessions and sells them online. As Clive points out:
At first, when I heard of the Wowcraft trojan, I thought hmmm: Virtual-world crime is considerably easier to pull off than real-world crime, because role-playing games are filled with virtual items that are easy to steal. When you steal someone's World of Warcraft password, you can go in and force their avatar to hand over all their goods and in-world currency to the criminal's account, then quickly sell the stuff on ebay or any online game-merchandise site. It's very easy to make game-world stuff liquid. But then I realized, hey, how is this different from real-world digital crime? A Russian cracker gang gets the information to your bank account, goes in pretending to be you, transfers the money to a foreign bank, then extracts it and washes it clean. Sure, role-playing games are rife with possibilities for identity theft. But the real world of commerce and finance is itself, by now, almost indistinguishable from a role-playing game.
My writer's brain overloads and fries when I start thinking through the various scenarios that could come of this.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Words of Wisdom from a Simple Man

Something a bit fun and light-hearted for the week's end. Will Rogers, who died in a plane crash with Wylie Post in 1935, was probably the greatest political sage this country has ever known. Enjoy the following:

  1. Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.
  2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
  3. There are 2 theories to arguing with a woman...neither works.
  4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
  5. Always drink upstream from the herd.
  6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
  7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket.
  8. There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.
  9. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  10. If you're riding' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.
  11. Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back.
  12. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
Growing Older First ~ Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it. Second ~ The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for. Third ~ Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know "why" I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved. Fourth ~ When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra. Fifth ~ You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks. Sixth ~ I don't know how I got over the hill without getting to the top. Seventh ~ One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young. Eighth ~ One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been. Ninth ~ Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable. Tenth ~ Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it's called golf. And finally ~ If you don't learn to laugh at trouble, you won't have anything to laugh at when you are old.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thoughts on Katrina

I've avoided posting anything about this subject for some time, but really need to talk about it, rehash both the good and the bad that is coming from it. I work in the Transportation department for my company. Technically, I administer databases, generate reports and act as an administrative assistant for my supervisor, among other things. My background has little to do with my current position, but I find that I enjoy this more than I enjoyed what I was trained to do. I also help our Transporation suppliers with rate negotiations and problem solving. We don't have many suppliers in the disaster area, but my carriers do. They've been sending me pictures and updates from their employees. For me, these are more moving than the pictures of people crying on the news. For me, these pictures show that the people who will be needed to bring the supplies won't be able to. Their trucks are under water. The roads are under water. The goods waiting to be shipped in their terminals have been ruined, or at the very least, severely damaged. It is good that donation stations have been established. The Red Cross, Google, Amazon are responding to the needs of those affected, whether physically or emotionally. Dozens of others are as well. A lovely woman who already owned the domain has turned her web designer business homepage into a means of helping everyone find answers. There was no doubt in my that the people of this country would jump in and help. After all, when the people of Iraq were looking for relief from their dictator, we went in. When the Tsnami victims needed help, we pledged money as a country and as individuals. When the towers in New York fell, we continued to support our economy in the best ways we knew how. In the face of adversary, Americans stand firm and fight back. Our methods differ, but the motiviation remains the same. What does disturb me about the situation is the number of people who simply disregarded common sense and stayed. They were told to evacute. It was mandatory. The warnings were ignored. A bad situation was made worse by people who did not listen to common sense. Why didn't the city step in and help out? Could they not have used school buses and other forms of public transportation? The problem has been compounded by disease and filth. The means of getting people out or getting others have been destroyed. The long terms effects are much bigger than whatever pundit currently talking on the television really knows. Not only have fleets of trucks been destoryed, those that remain will have to cope with regular loads and with disaster relief loads. The truckload industry is already suffering from a shortage of drivers and regulations that severely restrict driving time. Add the work related to rebuilding this region and the problems multiply further. When the "Runaway Bride" was found, she was sued by the city for the tens of thousands of dollars that the search incurred. Should the people who stayed in the face of a mandatory evacuation be charged for their rescue? If I lived anywhere near this area, I'd be thinking two thing about my future. Where should I live and what company can I work for? How much industry was destroyed? How many companies will be forced to fire people because the business they worked for no longer exists? An even bigger question is insurance. Most property owners will have it and cash in on the lottery that insurance really is. Big picture wise, though, if someone doesn't want to stay, they may be forced to because of their insurance company. A member of my family lost their home and possessions to fire (none of them were in the house at the time.) They wanted to rebuild the house differently than it had been done originally, but in equal or greater value. The insurance company demanded that it be rebuild exactly as before. If you are a home owner, lost your house, decide to move away, it is very possible that you could be "stuck" there because of something as simple as insurance that is supposed to protect you. What options do these people have? The complexitity of the problem has only begun to surface. Traditional answers are not going to work in the face of this disaster. Creative solutions will be required. I know we have the right people in this country to provide them.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fun Articles to read

The Tail That Wags the Blog They behave like fun-loving slackers, but they're secretly staging a coup Screwtape's Advice

We’ve often imagined ourselves giving a talk that would have a title along the lines of “How to Get Yourself Rejected.” The target audience would be new writers, though we think everyone could stand to learn something from these tried and true secrets for ensuring rejection. In fact, if everybody applied these lessons to their daily lives, they’d be able to avoid that first date with a person to whom they’re attracted, that lucrative and promising job, that bank loan essential to achieving a dream, or whatever it is they claim to want—in other words, all those forms of success that complicate lives unnecessarily.
I know that it's lame, but it's just that kind of day.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Book Review I

Title: Eleven on Top Author: Janet Evanovich Genre: Chick Lit, could also be Mystery Summary: Stephanie Plum decides that it is time to grow-up, get a real job and stop embarassing her mother. The criminals out to get her missed the memo as the continue to blow-up her car, break into her apartment and send to running to Joe and Ranger for protection. What was Good: The struggles of finding and keeping a job are retold in a funny way, that even while it is true, it makes me laugh. What wasn't: The ongoing saga of Ranger vs. Joe needs to end. If it does, though, will the series? The Take-Away: As much I have enjoyed this series, it's stretching awfully thin. Certain passages make me think that the author realizes this as well, but doesn't know how to solve it. It doesn't work as a 10+ book series as part of the tension and intrigue is Stephanie's indecision about men. This installation, however, is much better than some of the other. Recommendation: If you haven't read the Plum novels, put them on your list to read. Even better, check out the audio books and listen to them while cleaning your kitchen. I believe that Barbara Rosenblat is the reader. Whatever her name, she does a wonderful job. Ever time I've read a printed copy I hear her in my head as Grandma Mazer and LuLu.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Sexy Tractors

My husband has this thing about country music. (I really don't know what else to call it since it isn't so much that he likes it, but you'd have to hear him talk about it to truly understand.) One of the songs that he really, really, really likes is She thinks my Tractor's Sexy by Kenny Chesney. The song goes something like this:

Plowing these fields in the hot summer sun
Over by the gate lordy here she comes
With a basket full of chicken and a big cold jug of sweet tea
I make a little room and she climbs on up
Open up a throttle and stir a little dust
Just look at her face she ain’t a foolin me

She thinks my tractor’s sexy
It really turns her on
She’s always staring at me
While I’m chuggin along
She likes the way it’s pullin’ while we’re tillin’ up the land
She’s even kind of crazy ’bout my farmer’s tan
She’s the only one who really understands what gets me
She thinks my tractor’s sexy

Full lyricks can be found at While I may not appreciate the full depth and meaning of a sexy tractor, I thought about people who might. So I wrote a short short about the encounter between a man, a woman and a sexy tractor. Since I'm aspiring to do something with the short, I don't want to ruin any first time publication writes. But I'd like to share it with you, if you are interested in reading it. It's 777 words long. Email me and I'll send you a copy. By the by, the invite was the whole point of this post. Talk about making a short story long.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The 3-Day Novel Contest

Thought I was crazy for writing a novel in a month last year (with the intent of doing it again this year) did you? These nuts are going to do it in three days. I love these people.

No More Secrets

I've got a bit of a reputation for fixing problems at work. Not the big ones like how to reduce costs, but the little ones like, why is this MS Word Table all funky? In part my skills relate back to my first job at my current company. The remaining portion relates to my ability to search forums and read news letters such as Tech Trax.

TechTrax, a premiere learning source!
Tech Trax is a monthly eZine that publishes once a month, around the first. Every time I learn something new, whether it will save me gobbs of time or just something really cool, I make someones day a little better. Sometimes it is mine. Maybe it will be yours next. Now, if they'd only offer a section for MS Access. Hey, maybe I should write-up some article about MS Access...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bookworm Report, August 2005

My oldest started school today. I'm trying new things with my book reviews and bookworm reports. It's September and welcome to my reading list.

Bookworm Review
For the year, I’ve read 76 books, or 27,728 pages, which averages to 10 books a month, or 3,466 pages per month, and an average book length of 365 pages. Next month I'm going to devote more of my reading to non-fiction, particularly writing-related books. I've got several sitting around that I've been meaning to read and just haven't yet. Have a great first day of school!