My 2008 Year End Recap

December 31, 2008

Let me start off by saying that I do not make New Year's Resolutions. I never have and do not intend to start. If you're going to make a promise to do something different in your life why wait until December 31st to promise yourself that. Just do it.

This year went by awfully fast I have to admit. The two biggest things that I did was start this blog and do NaNoWriMo. I am certainly glad that I started this blog and I am glad that I have begun a reader base. It makes me happy knowing that you have enjoyed my content enough to subscribe. Doing NaNo and winning on my first try was a great experience. I hope you had as much fun reading about my triumphs as I did writing them.

In other news this year I became addicted to Lost all thanks to finding First On Mars. I started at season one and watched it all the way to the end of season four in record time. There were times when I thought I had things figured out or knew what was coming next, but then the writers yanked me in a different direction. I am really looking forward to season five. I actually can't stand the wait.

This year I saw gas go as high as $4.77 for premium grade, and if my memory serves me it stayed at the horrific price for nearly a week. We all know the troubles the economy is going through, so I won't beat that dead horse. But I will say that I hope never to see the Dow Jones drop as much as it did.

Here are some random events from 2008:
  • Fidel Castro announced his resignation of Cuba
  • The moon moved to its closest point to Earth
  • Bernie Mac, Paul Newman, Estelle Getty, Heath Ledger, Charlton Heston, Tim Russert, Bobby Fischer, and George Carlin all passed away
  • America elected the first African-American president
  • OJ Simpson gets thrown in jail
  • 67,000 Chinese people died as a result of a 7.9 magnitude earthquake
As midnight draws nearer we say goodbye to 2008 and welcome in 2009. I wish all of you a happy and safe New Year. I hope that you ring in the New Year surrounded by friends and family, a champagne glass raised in the air, and some one to kiss as the ball sinks to one.


I Quit Smoking

December 26, 2008

Exactly one year ago today I made the choice to quit smoking.

I started smoking when I was 17 years old. My best friend in High School looked 18 and she was able to buy cigarettes for us. This was right before they made it mandatory for store owners to card people that looked under 30. My very first cigarette was a Camel Light and we would smoke only a couple of cigarettes a day. Mostly when we hung out after school. We always blamed the other when our parents would ask why we smelled like smoke.

Three years ago when I bought a new car I made the decision not to smoke in it. Doing this was the start of my road to quitting. I soon noticed that I was smoking less because I would normally have two or three cigarettes when I was driving to and from work. In addition to not smoking in my car I was not allowed to smoke in my house because my landlord's would not allow it. I respected their wishes. After all, who wants their house to stink like nasty cigarette smoke? So, through the rain, the wind, and the cold I would stand outside in my backyard puffing away. After two years I was down to less than a half a pack a day.

As I thought more and more about quitting I became more and more scared. What would I do at work? I had a schedule to keep. My breaks were like clock work. At 10 o'clock I was out there with the morning crowd. At lunch I would smoke one or two and again at 3 o'clock I was back outside smoking away with the crowd. I knew I could break the habit, but I didn't know if I was ready for it.

Quietly, on the day after Christmas last year, I smoked my last cigarette at noon, put my trusty lighter away, and bought Nicorette. I carefully read the instructions and popped the first piece in my mouth. It was peppery just like it said, but satisfying at the same time. Every couple of hours I would chew a new piece cravings or not.

All my fears washed away after a week of chewing the gum. I hardly had any desire to smoke and actually was enjoying the fact that my clothes smelled like laundry detergent. I found new ways at work to take my breaks and after a month of chewing the gum I gave that up too. Nicotine had me in its hold for 11 years, but now I can proudly say that I am smoke-free and I will never take another puff.

Are you a smoker? Is it time for you to quit?


Wishing you and your family a wonderful and magical holiday!

A Letter To Santa

December 22, 2008

Dear Santa,

I know it has been eons since I've written you, but I felt compelled this year. I have been good, so I am confident that I am on your 'good list.' With that said I have a couple of Christmas wishes.

This year for Christmas I would love a Nintendo Wii. You might think that I am too old for such a gift, but let me tell you that the Wii is the BEST thing that Nintendo invented. I have to admit when I first saw it I wasn't impressed, but ever since I played it at a friend's house I am in love. Tennis is great, and even though I don't bowl in real life I love Wii Bowling. I would also like a digital camera. I think I am one of the last humans on this great earth that does not have one. Any make or model will do. I'm not picky. My cell phone just isn't cutting it anymore.

Thank you Santa for reading my letter. I hope that you will be able to deliver these gifts to me on Christmas Eve. My house doesn't have a chimney so you will have to use your magic and go through my sliding glass window.

Oh, and one last thing. Please make sure that my family gets their Christmas wishes granted too. If nothing else, that's what I would like most this year.

CJ Harley

Christmas for me as a kid

December 19, 2008

I grew up as an only child. My parents divorced when I was young and I was raised by my father. I don't recall sharing Christmas with my mother, father, and half-sister but I know we did because I have seen the pictures in our album. I was wearing a Santa hat in all of them and you can tell they were taken at night because the Christmas tree was lit ,casting a rainbow colored glow throughout the photos.

My dad and I lived in apartments most of the time, but when I was six or seven we rented a house on a busy corner. I remember sitting in front of the Christmas tree one year with my dad and asking him how Santa got into homes or apartments that had no chimneys because every kid knew that's how Santa got in to leave the presents. He looked at me and said that Santa could get in through the windows. That his magic let him walk right through them.

He and I would put out cookies and milk for Santa. Sometimes even carrots or sugar cubes for the reindeer. I chuckle now, as an adult, knowing that it was my dad who took the sip from the glass of milk the night before. And it was he who ate the cookies and removed the carrots and sugar cubes. Wasn't it so exciting to see that Santa had actually drank your milk? The milk you left for him?

I loved Christmas as a kid. All the anticipation leading up to that one special morning when you wake up and see what Santa left you under the tree. My dad and I always opened one or two presents the night before. Then he would send me off to bed and of course I wouldn't sleep. How could I? In the morning there would be the unwrapped presents that Santa brought in the middle of the night sparkling under the Christmas tree.

I think my favorite Christmas present I got when I was growing up was a bicycle. It was my first bike that had hand brakes and I loved it. My dad and I, we did pretty good during the Christmas season for two people who just had each other. And I think that was the best gift every year...each other.

A Few Changes and "Would You Rather?"

December 17, 2008

Yesterday I spent some time updating and adding new things to my blog. I wanted my blog to have a more polished look and to introduc
e something new.

I added some links under my header: About, Contact Me, Blog Archive, and "Would You Rather?" I think the first three are pretty self-explanatory. I do encourage everyone to email me through my contact link if you have questions about my blog, see something a miss with the layout and/or pages not loading quickly, or if you want to suggest an idea.

Adding "Would You Rather?" to my blog is something that was inspired by a good friend of mine. We were out shopping last week and as we were driving up and down the aisles looking for a parking spot she said, "Wow that lady has short legs." I looked and sure enough she did. "Would you rather have short legs or a long torso?" I asked and the idea to put Would You Rather on my blog was born. "Would You Rather...?" was created by Zobmondo!! and since I get such a kick out of the questions I wanted to share them with my readers.

Every few days I will be changing the question. I invite you to stop by often to see the new "Would You Rather" question and share your decision. Some of the choices will be funny, some will be serious, and some will be bizarre, but they will all be fun.

Abbott & Costello - "Who's On First?"

December 15, 2008

I'm sure that most everyone has heard of the famous comedy team Abbott & Costello, and surely if you have heard of them then you have heard their most famous routine "Who's On First?"

I think I was about ten or maybe even as old as twelve when I first heard "Who's On First." If memory serves me I was sick and laying in bed when my father came in and brought me a tape. It was all white with black letters on it. He said that it was a comedy routine so I put the tape into my little boom box and hit play. For the next five minutes I could not stop laughing. I had forgotten that my head was stuffed up and that my throat was raw from coughing for the past two days. These two guys were geniuses, I thought. I played that tape over and over again until I cried from laughing so hard.

Years later I was on the phone with a friend of mine who wanted me to help her learn a little Spanish. We were just about to end the phone call:

Me: So, how about drinks after work tomorrow? Que Piensas?
Her: Sure sounds good. What was that you said in Spanish?
Me: Que Piensas?
Her: Oh, what does that mean?
Me: What do you think.
Her: I don't know. What does it mean?
Me: What do you think.
Her: If I knew I would tell you. I thought you said you'd help me with some Spanish.
Me: I am.
Her: Well then what does it mean?
Me: What do you think.
Her: I don't know what it means. That's why I am asking you!!

If you haven't figured it out yet Que piensas means What do you think in Spanish. My friend and I had a good laugh after I finally told her that I had been telling her the meaning the whole time. When I think about that conversation we had, I always think it sounded just like an Abbott & Costello routine.

Go on hit play. You'll laugh until you cry even if you have heard it a million times before.

First On Mars

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a website called First On Mars and now I just have to share it with you. The name intrigued me so I had a look. What I found was a vast array of TV shows at my finger tips and readily available for my viewing pleasure. I have always been a fan of being able to watch TV shows from the comfort of my computer, but have never settled on one particular site.

First On Mars is an unique site and that's what keeps me coming back. The layout is very user friendly, like nothing I have ever seen, and the graphics are wonderful. When you first open the web page you get a pop up saying you can add a mood to your favorites. This is a very neat tool. Say one day there is nothing on TV so you head over to First On Mars, but you don't really have a show in mind. You can pick a 'mood' and let First On Mars show you a list of related shows. I selected 'Futuristic' and got shows like Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and Heroes to name a few. I also went through the extensive library and picked out some favorites so I can find them easier.

A lot of the classics are on showcased here too. For example you can find Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Bewitched, and Fantasy Island. I absolutely love that anyone can watch these old shows that are not even being aired as reruns.

Ever since finding First On Mars I have been watching past seasons of Lost and have been utterly immersed in this spectacular series. Almost every night I find myself glued to my laptop until the wee hours of the morning telling myself that I will only watch one more episode and then go to bed. Ha! Five episodes later I am still watching it. I only have until January 21st to make it through 4 seasons before the new one airs on prime time. Think I can do it?

My crazy cat

All you writers out there had to know that I have a cat. I think it is a prerequisite; writer = cat. So, yes I have a cat. She is eleven years old but still acts like she's a two year old kitten. One of her favorite things to do is run up the stairs like a maniac, meow incessantly at the top of the stairs, and then tear down the stairs ending up where ever I happen to be.

Most of the day she spends sleeping in my closet When she's not sleeping you can find her in my lap so that it is impossible for me to use my laptop. She loves to lay across my right arm, rendering it immobile. When I nudge her to move she gets all huffy with me and tears off down the hallway.

The fun begins when it's time for me to turn off the TV, shut down my laptop, and head off to bed. Simple enough, right? Sure. No problem. I get my water and start my ascent to my bedroom. Typically, my cat is sleeping on the couch when I head to bed because she is waiting. Waiting for that perfect moment. The cat owners out there know the moment of which I speak. It's the moment when you have the blankets perfect, you're snug as a bug in a rug underneath them, and you have just begun to doze off into dreamland when "Meooooowwww. Meeeooowww." My cat is at the top of the stairs staring at me and crying. Why? I have no idea. All I know is it is the most annoying thing ever. This goes on for five minutes. In the meantime I am trying to get her to come to bed. Calling her name, using the sound I make to get her to come to me, but nothing works. She just sits there and cries at me. Finally, she runs and makes an acrobatic leap onto the bed. But the fun doesn't stop there.

Now we have entered what I like to call 'The Patrolling of the Bed.' I'm awake now and flipping through the channels trying to find something decent to watch at eleven o'clock at night while my cat steps on me, purposefully blocking my view, and doesn't move an inch. I gently nudge her off and she walks up the side of me, onto my pillow causing my head to dip, and back down the other side of me. Then she steps on me again and thus creating the vicious cycle of her patrolling. This goes on for a few patrols before she decides to sleep at my side. Then the licking begins. She licks my neck, my cheek, anything she can reach. Her rough tongue hurts but after eleven years I am used to it. She will lick for a good five minutes before I tell her to stop, I swear I should buy her a salt lick, and then I can get some rest.

So, while I go to bed around 10:30 the truth is I don't get to sleep until a quarter after eleven because of my crazy cat.

A Frazzled Fraze - Worth One's Salt

I'm not sure about you but I have heard this phrase many times through out my lifetime and I have to admit the very first time I heard it as a kid I had no clue as to what it meant. Me being the observant and quiet person I kept my mouth shut and decided to figure it out later. When I was a kid the Internet was not as readily available as it is today, so I couldn't just go home and look it up on Google. It was probably not until I heard it a few times in the movies or heard a friend or two say it that I finally caught the meaning. Ah ha! To be worth one's pay or to be effective, but where does the salt come in?

Apparently salt was a pretty big deal before refrigerators were invented because it was used to help preserve food. In addition to preserving food, salt was also an important commodity. In the Roman days salt was used as an item of trade and for its health benefits. Back then soldiers were given salarium which was an allowance for purchasing salt. The sal in salarium means pay in Latin and over time the word was shorted to salary. So because the words salarium and salt went hand in hand, the word salt became associated with pay or worth.

Aren't you glad I cleared that up for you? Don't you feel more knowledgeable?

Good. Now get out there and prove your worth in salt to the world!

How many different ways have you eaten turkey since Thanksgiving?

It's been nearly a week since you put 'ol Tom Turkey into the oven and baked him to a fine shade of golden brown. Chances are you bought a turkey big enough to feed the family and to have enough for leftovers. I know I did.

So there you are the day after Thanksgiving standing in front of the open fridge at around noon wondering what to have for lunch. Tom is staring at you from under the foil blanket he has on and you think to yourself,
A turkey sandwich sounds good with some cranberry sauce on it. You pull out Tom cut off a few slices of white meat and throw in a little dark meat for flavor. Not bad. Not bad at all, you think.

Four hours later you find yourself standing in front of the fridge again and good 'ol Tom is staring back at you from beneath his foil blanket. You look and see that you still have enough of the fixings to have another Thanksgiving dinner.
Why not? you say. I'm not tired of turkey, yet.

As the days go on it seems as though every time you open that fridge Tom is looking at you from under his foil blanket, and he doesn't seem to be getting any smaller. By now you have eaten your fair share of turkey sandwiches at work and had enough turkey dinners at home. You have even made turkey tacos because you were getting tired of the old standbys and one morning you threw it into your omelet just because. Then one night after putting Tom back into the fridge it dawns on you. Soup! You smack yourself on the forehead with the palm of your hand and say
Why didn't I think of this fifteen sandwiches ago? As it turns out good 'ol Tom Turkey made an excellent soup and now every time you open the fridge you see that humongous pot of turkey soup staring at you, but that's another post.

How many ways did you eat your leftover turkey? Or are you still eating it?

NaNo Update - The Win!

On Saturday the 29th at 10:30 in the morning I crossed the proverbial finish line and claimed my first National Novel Writing Month victory!

The last 2500 words were the hardest to write. I reached 47,500 on Wednesday with the plan to take Thanksgiving completely off and resume NaNo on Friday to claim my win. It must have been the tryptophan still lingering in my system because I struggled to put down the 300 words or so I wrote that day. The last part of my novel is very intense and after a day off with family I had a hard time getting back my mojo. Thankfully I found it on Saturday and got out the last few words of my novel. In hind sight it might have been better for me to go for the win when I was in the middle of my intense scene.

I was amazed at how I was able to keep my inner editor at bay for so long. I hardly heard a peep from her the entire time. There were a few moments when I wondered if I had lost her completely, but then she would come back after a writing session and tell me what I just wrote was not my best work and we would have to surely revisit that piece in a month or so. My greatest fear when I started NaNo was not being able to turn her off or tell her to go on hiatus for 30 days, but I have surprisingly proved myself wrong.

I have learned in doing NaNo that I can write up to 4500 words in one day if I put my mind to it. I have learned that when writing the rough draft of your novel everything does not have to be perfect. That is what editing is for. I've learned that the power of the NaNo community is a huge driving force in keeping participants focused on that finish line and having upwards of 100,000 people doing the same thing at the same time can be very inspiring. And most importantly, I have learned that I can start and finish a novel. That treasure I will take within me and run towards my destiny.

I want to thank each and every person who stopped by my blog during the month of November and cheered me on whether by leaving a comment or just by reading my posts. You all have played a part in me being able to complete this challenge. I also want to thank my family and friends who stood behind me and told me I could do it.

I will most definitely be participating next year for another round of NaNoWriMo!

Black Friday - The Unofficial Holiday

Ah, yes Black Friday is just around the corner. On this day thousands of people will kick off their Christmas shopping. While Black Friday is not an official holiday many businesses give their employees the day off. I have had the misfortune of working for companies where I had to report back to work on Black Friday, and let me tell you it is no fun.

It is said, by Wikipedia, that the term Black Friday originated in Philadelphia when the police officers coined it Black Friday because of the heavy traffic that day. Now store and business owners are referring to Black Friday as the start of retailers turning a profit or being in the black. This unofficial holiday goes back as far as the 1960's, but the tradition of starting the unofficial Christmas season on the day after Thanksgiving dates back to the 1920's.

I have never been one to rush out the day after Thanksgiving and go Christmas shopping. I refuse to fight with all those people, drive around the mall parking lot looking for a parking spot, and battling those gigantic crowds. If you are wondering where I will be on Black Friday it will be right here in front of my laptop squeezing out the last few thousand words of my NaNo novel, because at 5 AM when those retailers open their doors to the masses I will not be standing there bright eyed and bushy tailed. No sir. I will be in my nice warm bed with the covers pulled up high waiting for the sun to gently wake me up.

For those of you who will be braving the mad rush on Black Friday, may someone pull out of the coveted parking space the moment you get to your destination, may nothing you really want to buy be out of stock, and may there always be a Starbucks where ever you are to keep you going, 'cause 5 o'clock in the morning comes fast! Here is a link to the Official Black Friday site to get you ready for the big day.

Since I will be with my family tomorrow I want to wish all of my readers, visitors, and passersby a Happy Thanksgiving!

May all of us eat until we cannot eat anymore, and then have dessert until we bust.

NaNoWriMo Update - The Home Stretch

With less than six days to go I've got a little less than 10,000 words to write before I can claim my first ever NaNo victory. And I intend to do so.

Other writers out there doing NaNo talk about what kind of rewards they give themselves after writing a hard scene or doing a session of really good writing. Some give themselves a piece of candy, chocolate, or other food item. Others reward themselves with a new video game or movie they just bought. When I sit and think of what I do to reward myself after doing a writing session, nothing comes to my mind. I guess I don't reward myself in ways that you can see. I get my biggest reward in knowing that I am a thousand or two thousand words closer to my goal. Sure I flip on the TV after writing or go play a game on my computer afterward, but I wouldn't consider that my reward. That is more my down time after writing.

Ever since I crossed the halfway mark I have been even more motivated to get to the finish line with my 50,000 words in tow. I wake up, perform my morning rituals, and get to my laptop for the days writing session. The word count from the previous day motivates me to write more. Now that I have just over 40,000 words, the drive to reach 50,000 is stronger than ever. Coming this far in this challenge only to fail is not an option.

Yesterday I got through a difficult scene for me to write and I must say that if I was not doing NaNo I would have stalled there. I would have found excuse after excuse not to complete my novel and remain stuck at that one junction. Thanks to NaNo and my desire to get to finish what I have started, I pushed through and out to the other side.

The next time I provide a NaNo Update it will be to tell you that I have claimed my victory and completed my novel. See you all on the other side!

The best way out is always through.
Robert Frost

Trivial Pursuit

A few days ago I was playing Trivial Pursuit with a good friend of mine. Every now and again we get together to play, and every New Year's Eve we play with a group of friends while we wait for the ball to drop. So, getting together with my friend and playing was sort of like a little practice session. I personally love trivia of any kind.

Have you ever noticed the odd words that are used in the questions? Seriously, who uses the word warbled? I have never once in my life heard someone say, "Hey have you heard that new song that 50 Cent warbled? It's the shizzle!" No one I know uses that word in everyday conversation.

A question taken directly from a Trivial Pursuit card:
What dog breed's four billion olfactory receptors let it track a trail of single cells left by its quarry?
Say what?! Who talks like this? If they wanted us, really wanted us, to understand the question they would have worded it something like this: What dog has the greatest sense of smell known to man? That I understand. Not all this olfactory receptors and single cell craziness. I believe that one of the reasons the questions are written in that manner is to trip up the players, and it really works especially after a few cocktails.

So you've been playing Trivial Pursuit for hours and hours. Finally you have just answered a question that has earned the last pie piece to complete your token. "Yes!" you exclaim pumping your fists in the air but then your opponent reminds you that in order to win you have to make your way back through the wheel and land exactly in the center. Then you need to answer a question of their choice. No big deal you say to yourself. And now the real torture begins. It wasn't enough with the odd words and the questions you had to decipher. They didn't even give you a decoder ring. Or the grueling hours you have put into this game. No, that wasn't enough for the creators of Trivial Pursuit. Now your focus is getting to that middle hub, as they call it, and answer one final question that no one on the planet knows the answer to. So you land in the hub for the first time after five attempts and your opponent being the person they are reads you a question from the category you are the worst in:
What gigantic estuary was formed when rising sea levels flooded the mouth of the Susquehana River?
What is an estuary? And where in the world is the Susquehana River? Does such a river exist? Smacking your palm to your forehead because you know it's going to take another two hours of rolling the dice to get back into the hub, you yell out in desperation "Oh hell I don't know. The Hoover Dam!" Wrong, of course. Eventually you manage to answer a question correctly in the hub and are declared winner. It's now the year 2010, but hey you are the Trivial Pursuit master.

I love this game, even though it gets on my last nerve with the crazy way they word questions and how they seemingly do not use words that come from the English language. I always have a blast playing and this year I think I will be purchasing the Seinfeld version to mix it up a bit on New Year's Eve.

Are you a Trivial Pursuit fan too or a trivia buff?

Answers to the above questions respectively: A. Bloodhound B. Chesapeake Bay

NaNoWriMo Update - Moving into Week 3

Over the past seven days there was only one day I did not write and that was Monday. I just was not in the mood and could not get myself motivated to move my novel along. Wednesday and Friday I got my butt in the chair, BIC as the Absolute Writers call it, and wrote as if my life depended on it. Those days I pounded out 3211 and 4352 words respectively. I was really impressed with myself.

It blows my mind every time I think of how I am writing a novel. When I finish this challenge and claim my victory on November 30th this will be one of the greatest accomplishments I have ever done in my life. And one that I have dreamed of doing since I was a teenager writing in my room upstairs.

One of my friends asked me "How do you know what to write when you sit down in front of your computer?" My first reaction to the question is to chuckle because I really don't know. Everyday I take my laptop put it on my lap, open my novel and just start writing where I left off. More often than not I do not have a preconceived notion of where I am going next. I just write and the ideas come to me.

Some of my friends have asked me if I am going to try and get this NaNo novel published and the short answer is, Yes. As I said in my last update I will not be working on my second draft until next year, but I do plan on it. I think for some people doing NaNo does not mean that the novel they write will be publishing material or even that they will want to publish it. There are so many reasons people do NaNo.

I am doing NaNo to force myself to do something I had neglected for far too long: writing.

Why do you NaNo? And for those who are not NaNo'ing, would you ever?

If you could live in any time period what would it be?

I'm sure you have guessed that I like the future considering my favorite childhood cartoon was The Jetsons. Ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated the future. Watching Back To The Future II and being a Star Trek fan has also fueled my curiosity for this unknown time period.

I marvel in the idea of the future because it holds uncertainty and the promise of new inventions. The possibility of flying cars, a wrist watch that is actually a phone, and food that comes out of a machine on command would certainly be worth seeing and owning. The idea that we can really transport people from one place to the next like they do in Star Trek would solve so much of our traffic congestion. The adventure of flying into space, exploring new worlds, and making friends with aliens from other galaxies is both scary and exciting.

I have always said that I want to see the year 3000. I would love to be around for that turn of the century, but it's obvious that will remain a dream of mine. Why the year 3000? I'm not sure. Maybe because it is so far away from my own time line and I just cannot image what our world will look like. In the year 3000
will there be skyscrapers as tall as the eye can travel? Will people get around with jet packs? How much will a McDonald's cheeseburger cost? $30? Will we finally have the cure for the common cold? If so, will other diseases be cured too? The questions are endless.

The concepts of flying cars, transporters and, watches that are really phones are not too far fetched considering what mankind has done in the last thousand years. In 1900 no one ever thought there would be things called cars driving around city streets and they certainly did not think we would be transporting people by plane from one side of the country to the next. Thirty years ago no one thought people would listen to music on a CD. It was not until 1974 that computers became available to the average everyday person and look at us now. Nearly every home has at least one computer in it. Twenty years ago if you told some one that almost every human being would be carrying around a little portable phone they would have laughed at you.

I know I will never see the year 3000, but I will be around long enough to see the year 2040 and beyond. The only thing I want is to own a car that can fly. A DeLorean would do just fine, thank you.

Do you have a favorite time period? What is it?

NaNoWriMo - Update Part Duex

With just over 15,000 words under my belt translating to 30% complete, I survived the first week of NaNoWriMo. There were times when I didn't think I would make my quota for the day, but something inside kept pressing me on. I took election day off so I could watch the race unravel and the next day I was able to catch up adding 4,000 words to my novel. A few more days like that one and I will be well on my road to success.

I have found that doing 30 minute 'word wars' with the other NaNo'ers at Absolute Write is an outstanding way to make me focus and really get to work. In doing these 'word wars' my story has taken a few twists that I did not plan or even think of. The words just came to me as I feverishly typed. And, in the sprint of keeping my inner editor at bay, I ran with those ideas.

Many NaNo'ers are talking about starting on their second drafts in December, but I think I will be following the advice of Stephen King. He waits a minimum of six weeks before he goes back to a manuscript to make his first edit, or second draft as some call it. I want to be completely objectionable when I read my manuscript. I may not be able to wait six weeks, but I'm going to wait at least until the first of the year. It has been very hard to not start reading the novel each time I open the document. I tell myself that I will get a better idea of where I need to go, and then I get slapped back to reality by the writer in me. Write, write, write. Reading is for later. Much later.

My goal for the coming week is 12,000 words or an average of 1715 words a day. If I manage that I will be a little more than 50% done. I will have to kick it up a notch in the third week, but I can do it.

A big Thank You to all who have commented on my previous NaNo update. The enthusiasm and support is appreciated.

What's Your Favorite Childhood Cartoon?

My absolute favorite cartoon as a kid was The Jetsons. By the time I was a kid The Jetsons were already off the air and the shows I was watching were reruns. I loved that show because I wanted to live in the future. I wanted a car that flew and an apartment with a conveyor belt just like they had at the airport. Instead of eating dinner and sitting around a table they swallowed pills. The elevator was really one of those tubes like they used at the drive up bank. Astro, the family dog, cracked me up with the way he spoke. "I ruv you Rorge." Slurp! But I never understood George's job and even as an adult it still makes no sense. George's job was pushing a button. Now isn't that a great job with no stress? Oddly enough George had his share of stress from Mr. Spacely. He was always getting yelled at through the huge screen in his office. Yelled at to get to Mr. Spacely's office so he could ask George to do some daunting task that no one wanted. I love The Jetsons so much that when I get a text message on my Blackberry it plays The Jetsons doorbell.

Then there are the old stand by's like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Bugs was always escaping Elmer Fudd and when he wasn't doing that he was picking on poor Daffy. I loved watching Wile E. Coyote chase the Road Runner all over the desert. Although I wondered why he didn't just give up and chase something else. The looks on his face when he fell and how he turned into an accordion when he got up always gave me a laugh. Porky Pig and Foghorn Leghorn come to mind, but I didn't care for them too much.

Inquiring minds want to know what your favorite cartoon was when you were a kid?

NaNoWriMo - Update

I had to change my word count widget because the one I choose was not loading properly and not keeping up with my word count updates. The one you see over there seems to be the least temperamental. The actual word count is at the very top in teeny letters beneath my name. At the bottom of the counter is a red bar that moves along as my word count goes up.

So, for the first three days I have clocked in 4491 words. Not quite where I wanted to be on day three, but I am still pleased. My goal was 2084 words per day and if I had stuck to my goal I would have 6252 words right now. In fact I am really close to the bare minimum of 1667 words per day. I got stuck once, and managed to get through it by telling myself to move forward with the storyline. It is a tougher challenge than I thought, but I know my determination will see me through it.

I went to the library to return Duma Key and got Third Degree by Greg Iles. I figured that since reading helps motivate me into writing I had better get a new book. I have read most of Greg's books and really like his style. Highly recommended.

I also joined a writing forum called Absolute Write Water Cooler and have been chiming in on the NaNo discussions. There are a lot of fun people there. One writer, Jen at Scribbling, has a NaNo Catch Up Calculator on her blog. According to the Catch Up Calculator I have to write an average of 1686 words per day to meet my goal. For a new comer to NaNo I am very pleased that I am keeping, somewhat, on track. What does the Catch Up Calculator say about about your progress? How many words per day do you need to succeed?

With the rain drumming the windows outside and the fireplace blazing I think it is time to get comfortable and crack open my book.

The Electoral College

You have all heard of it. They even tried to teach you this in school, but what is this Electoral College really?
"The Electoral College is a controversial mechanism of presidential elections that was created by the framers of the U.S. Constitution as a compromise for the presidential election process. At the time, some politicians believed a purely popular election was too reckless, while others objected to giving Congress the power to select the president. The compromise was to set up an Electoral College system that allowed voters to vote for electors, who would then cast their votes for candidates, a system described in Article II, section 1 of the Constitution."
The entire process goes something like this: We the people of the United States of America get up, go to work on the second Tuesday of November, and then before going home we stand in line at our favorite voting booth and vote for our next President. We race home and eagerly watch the numbers unfold and watch the map of the United States turn red and blue. Ultimately someone is named the victor. But, this victor may or may not be the next President. On the Monday following the second Wednesday in December the electors of each state meet and vote for President. Those votes are sealed and sent to Congress where they are read on January 6th. Then the new President is sworn in on January 20th.

I am sure that most of you remember the infamous 2000 election between Al Gore and President George W. Bush. Gore received 537,179 more popular votes that President Bush on that Election Day but after the Electoral College met they awarded President Bush the state of Florida and he won the presidency. There were three other instances in which the Presidential candidate with the most popular votes did not win the presidency. They were:

  • 1824 John Quincy Adams received fewer votes than Andrew Jackson. Adams was awarded the Presidency after the House voted on it.
  • 1876 Rutherford Hayes lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden. Hayes received 5 of the 6 smallest states electoral college votes along with Colorado to win.
  • 1888 Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland, but he won the electoral college by 65.
Throughout history it is easy to see that in most instances the Presidential candidate who wins the popular vote on the second Tuesday of November will be named the victor. So this begs the question: Why have an Electoral College? I personally believe that if we the people of the United States all vote for our favorite candidate and he/she receives the popular vote that person should be named President.

What do you think? Is the Electoral College a good idea or do you prefer electing a President by popular vote?

NaNoWriMo - Here I come!

Less than 2 days before NaNoWriMo officially starts, and as the day gets closer I find that a lot of the writing blogs I follow are posting their words of advice and great tips for the new comers to NaNo. I am doing my best to take all of their advice and use it the best way that I can. These tips come from veterans of NaNo and even people who have published a book or two.

SamProof over at The Path to Publication wrote a post on NaNo that really made me think. He called it Nanowrimo How to Schedule Your Time. The first thing I remember about NaNo in the beginning was someone saying that if you just write 1,667 words a day you'll get to your 50,000 by November 30th. While, in theory, this is correct (divide 50,000 by 30=1,667) it is not the best way to approach NaNo. SamProof points out the obvious in his post. What about taking a day off? What about Thanksgiving? I'm pretty sure my family would be fairly unhappy with me when I excuse myself for a few hours because I have to get my 1,667 words out that day. Besides, the fingers and the brain have to take a break at some point. Sam suggests taking at least one full day off from writing a week and definitely taking Thanksgiving off. In short my new goal will be 2,084 words per day, and I am comfortable with that. By no means am I going to stop writing for the day once I hit my magic number.
Got 2,084 words and it's only 11:00am. I'm done! That would be plain silly. I will be using it as a marker and should I be faced with writer's block at least I'll know how many more words I need to put down to make my quota. Then I can focus on something else for a bit and return to my writing.

I promise that during the month of November I will not start any posts off like
I wrote a few thousand words today and I feel great. Or I have horrible writer's block and I don't know what to do. How boring would those posts turn out to be?! I will, however, update you from time to time with my progress, but you will be able to see it any time you visit. I'm sure you have noticed my word count widget over there on the right side of my blog. That's the best place to look when you are interested in knowing how I am doing.

I hope I am able to achieve my goal and that this experience will be both fun and become a tradition with me. I have my family and friends supporting me and all of my new NaNo writers to help me in a bind.

I wish all of you good luck and I'll see you at the finish line! And remember, those 50,000 words could be the next best seller.


Have you seen this little gadget yet? It's Amazon's latest and greatest thing and it was just featured on The Oprah Winfrey show last week. Kindle is a wireless reading device that allows the user to store thousands of books on it. The wireless connectivity allows you to shop directly from your Kindle. So now you can download a book within minutes. Kindle can also download magazines, newspapers and even songs. It is certainly the next generation of the book world.

My knee-jerk reaction of Kindle was dislike. I didn't like it when I first saw it or heard the concept of the whole thing. Sure we have become technology driven, trust me when I say that I love technology and all the gadgets that come with it, but I have to say that being a writer and an avid book reader I am disheartened by the whole electronic book idea. When I think of Kindle I imagine a world that has no libraries and no bookstores. A world where a person can't step into a bookstore with the smell of new books dancing around them and peruse shelf after shelf of imagination. That first step into a bookstore is intoxicating and full of adventure. Gone will be the days of having bookshelves in your home to show off your collection. Gone will be the day when an aspiring writer gets their first novel published and hands their family one of the first prints. The moment when the writer can hand someone a book they have toiled over must be exhilarating. Instead they'll be sending emails telling them to download it to their Kindle. No more will people be able to say "That book was a real page turner." What pages are there to turn on a Kindle?

Over the weekend I was ranting to a few of my friends about Kindle and one of them stopped my rant dead in its tracks. The moment I mentioned that Kindle held audio books she interrupted me and reminded me there are people in the world who are sight impaired and cannot read. They live on audio books. She also reminded me of people who prefer to listen to books. To have something that is portable for those people is so liberating for them. Now they can be anywhere and hear a story. Further into the conversation she even said that with Kindle, when I publish my novel, I will be able to reach a whole new audience that I otherwise could not have.

Walking away from our conversation I realized that while I prefer the smell and the feel of a book in my lap as I sit in my reading chair, not every human being out there does. And just because people will buy this gadget and download their favorite books does not mean that bookstores and libraries will cease to exist.

How do you feel about Kindle? Will you be buying one?

Duma Key

After I read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft I went back to my library and checked out The Time Traveler's Wife. I wanted a fantasy/science fiction book. It got good reviews on Barnes and Noble so I took the 500 plus page monster home with me. I won't go into too much detail as to why I returned it the very next day and got Duma Key, but I will say that reading a book that is written in the present tense is hard to get used to. Coupled with strange sentence structure and filler words I didn't get past chapter two. While I thought the book had a great theme, a person who floats in and out of time, was great, I just couldn't bear to read it.

On with Duma Key.

I took Duma Key home in part because it was Stephen King's latest novel and in part because it was sitting on the "New Arrivals" table. At just over 600 pages it was another monster I took home with me. I began to read that night and managed to get 140 pages in. I would have read more but my eyes were begging me to stop. I have always enjoyed Stephen King, although I have never read any of his horror books like Cujo or Carrie. I prefer his supernatural books such as The Stand or Dreamcatcher.

The inside jacket of the book gives a brief summary of the plot. Mine will be briefer still. Edgar Freemantle has a terrible accident that leaves him with no right arm and scrambes his memory. He moves to Duma Key on doctors orders and begins to paint; something he has never done before. Once the neighboring town discover his masterpieces and put them on display, things on Duma Key begin to unravel at an alarming pace.

King managed to take me on a wild ride filled with the twists and turns I have come to love and expect of his writing. Duma Key is mysterious. He delivers a novel to get lost in. From the very beginning, leading you into his world, all the way to the end. And never once, eluding to the circumstances in the end.

Worth the 600 plus pages you have to turn to discover the secrets of Duma Key.

Left-handed People

I have always been fascinated with left-handed people. Maybe it's because my mother once told me that when I was a kid she noticed I was becoming left-handed and made me do things with my right. When I asked her why she said "Because it was evil to be left-handed in my day." Whether that story holds water, I have no clue, but I do have this odd curiosity for southpaws. I find that when I am watching TV I point people out who are left-handed to my friends, who could not care less if Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander are both left-handed. What a coincidence that two left-handed actors just happen to be on the same show. They say that only 10% of the world is left-handed.

My very good friend is a lefty and she has given me some great insight into the world of southpaws. Did you know that pens and pencils are even designed for the right-handed world? They are. Go get a pen or pencil. I'll wait. Take that pen or pencil and put it in your right hand, as if you were going to write, so you can read the name brand. No problem, right? You can easily read it. Now take the pen or pencil and place it in your left hand so you can see the brand name. Not so easy to read the name now is it?! We all know one of the most obvious pet peeves of any left-handed person. The old school desk. Those puppies were, without a doubt, made with the right-handed person in mind. Little things like putting a knife back into the block make all the difference for left-handed people. At my left-handed friends house the blade of the knives face left. Go on. I'll wait while you jump up and check yours.

My friend, unlike some left-handed people, writes like a right-handed person. She doesn't turn her arm into a contorted shape when she writes. You've seen lefties write. Their arm practically covers the entire paper and they are almost writing upside down. My friend says left-handed people do this so they don't get ink on the side of their hand. In fact I've seen someone literally write upside down. This woman came into my office one day with an application and I noticed she forgot to write something down so I scooted the paper across my desk, upside down, and when she got it she turned the application around and started writing the most beautiful handwriting you ever saw. I was astounded! The application was facing me and there she was writing on it. Upside down!

Here is a short list of famous left-handed people:
  • Brad Pitt
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Robert De Niro
  • Judy Garland
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Oprah Winfrey
Six of our United State Presidents were left-handed too. And did you know that Bart Simpson is left-handed?

Why Do I Blog?

Inspired by a post from ProBlogger...

I started blogging because I love to write. Writing was such a huge part of my teenage years. It was my creative outlet. I don't remember who gave me my first computer, but I do remember how it looked in the corner of my room. It sat on a wooden desk that was made to fit in a corner. The desk had one drawer and I'm sure I threw anything and everything into it. I escaped into my own thoughts when I sat down in front of its screen and wrote whatever came to mind. I even remember writing my first, and only, story on it. I'm sure that computer is long gone. It had Windows 3.1 on it for Pete's sake.

Writing began to trickle out of my life after High School and the only time I would ever write was to send an email or to write a business letter. I wanted to get back to writing, but I always made excuses for myself. I would tell myself I didn't have anything to write about, or that I was too critical of my own work to make it through a story. I didn't have the confidence that I could just write. I told myself time and time again that I had no inspiration. It was a shame, really, what I was telling myself because I enjoy writing so much. Every person in this world has something, I believe, that is given to them when they are born. A talent. It may not be a million dollar talent, but a talent nonetheless and writing is my talent.

One day, in early October, something came along and told me to quit listening to that nay-saying voice and get out and do what I love. My Muse, lost as she was, found me after a decade of searching. Or perhaps she was waiting for the perfect moment. I will never know.

Tell me, why do you blog?

And away I go

All right, I'm going to do it. Why not? It makes sense to me. I am an aspiring writer after all and what better motivation is there? I am going to put 50,000 words down on paper, figurative paper because I'll be using my computer, and turn it into a novel all in 30 days. The people over at National Novel Writing Month do this every November and this year happens to be their 10th anniversary.

Theoretically, if I write just over 1,667 words a day I can achieve my goal. I figure that's 2 hours of good, solid writing a day. And maybe more if I am on a roll. I haven't picked out a title. That I think will come later. And I'm not sure what to write about, but I am getting very excited about this challenge. I have joined a group at Blog Catalog . Come over and join us!

For those who are not going to participate in NaNoWriMo you can follow my word count progress right here on my blog.

On Writing

A few weeks back I read an article on Daily Writing Tips about a book Stephen King wrote. On Writing is half memoir and half how-to. The first part of the book chronicles his early life and how he got his start as a writer. The second half of the book is where King goes into details of what he perceives is the best way to write.

After finishing this book I felt renewed and ready to write. I did my best to soak in what King was trying to convey to me. In this book King tells the reader to read, read, and read some more. This, unfortunately, is something I have fallen behind on. I enjoy reading very much, but have let the TV and internet entertain me. I have realized that reading inspires me.

I think the hardest concept for me to grasp and run with is telling myself to stop editing as I write. Even as I sit here and pound at the keys, I find myself wanting to go to the top and re-read what I have written.

In his book King also tells us that he dislikes the passive voice and adverbs. And I must admit that after reading the pages and chapters about the passive voice I fall victim to writing that way. He writes "With the passive voice, the writer usually expresses fear of not being taken seriously..." Adverbs are those words that end in "ly." King says "With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn't expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point across." Looking back at my style of writing I can see points in my work where I did use adverbs to show the reader what I meant. If I had been telling the story, then my reader would know exactly what I meant and there would be no need for clarity.

This was the first book I read on writing and it has given me some great insight into the mind of such an accomplished writer. I would definitely recommend any writer or blogger, for that matter, to pick up this book.

Finding your hidden Superhero

Last night I picked up the September issue of Oprah's magazine that my friend gave to me after she was finished with it and came across an article entitled "Are you on the right course?" The article follows a life-coach who takes three ordinary women and helps them see the Superhero inside.

It was the second woman that I identified most with. The life-coach called her a "Clever Critic." This person has numerous ideas, but always finds a good reason that they cannot happen. I am constantly writing in my head, but never actually put those thoughts, ideas, or stories to paper because I think to myself that there are TONS, literally tons, of authors out there, and even more bloggers, so I ask myself "Why would anyone want to read my stuff? I'm a nobody and besides my writing isn't that great." And then all my creativity, my desire to write, and to express myself ceases in that moment. I switch my mind to something easier and less reveling of myself and ultimately never write.

The solution to my problem is a simple one, in theory. Write. Never stop writing no matter how silly I think it sounds or how many other people out there have blogged about it, or written a story similar to it. I have realized that by asking myself "Why would anyone want to read my stuff?" and telling myself I am not worthy of sharing my writing with others that I have crippled my ego and lessened my self worth in my own eyes. I have become the worst critic; I stifle creativity before it has a chance to live. So, I must take off my critic glasses and write just to write. They always say write your first draft with your heart. I spend far too much time critiquing my first draft that it never makes it to the final draft.

I don't know that being an author or writer or even a blogger is my hidden Superhero, but it sure is a good start.


Now that I have tweaked, changed, and manipulated my blog I think it's time to let the world know I am out here writing a blog. I never knew how intent I would be on changing the look and overall style of my blog. I went from a very simple template and turned it into something I like and proud to say "I made that." I never imagined that I would be lurking around the HTML code of this web page or adding things to it such as subscribe buttons and the like. I had to do quite a bit of searching to figure out how to add a second column to my blog, but I got it done. I wanted the freedom of adding more widgets (A component of a graphical user interface with which a user interacts - Wikipedia. Or in lame-man's terms: A cool little interactive thing you put on your blog.). I luckily found information on how to do this and am very happy with how it came out. Even though I am satisfied with my blog as it stands now, trust me when I say that I will be adding new features and tweaking it even more down the road.

Now that I have spent the entire day combing the internet for ways to make my blog my own, and now that my eyes feel like they will never blink again I think I shall go and play some online poker. I can see already that this blog is going to be addictive. People like me who absolutely love to customize things (i.e. my Blackberry) can spend hours and hours on the internet looking for the newest item to add.

My Very First Post

Okay, so I have been deathly terrified of posting anything on my blog. Hell I've had this blog for months now and haven't done a damn thing with it. I downloaded Viigo for the third time to my Blackberry. I uninstalled it twice because it is a memory hog and it slowed down my Blackberry. The makers of Viigo said after the latest update they have corrected some of the memory hog issues. We shall see. So this prompted me to search for RSS feeds and/or blogs to add to my Viigo so I would have something to read on my Blackberry. I ended up coming across three really awesome blogs that, I guess you could say, have inspired me to post something on my own blog.

So a big thank you to Daily Blog Tips, Daily Writing Tips, and Daily Bits for making me get over my fears and actually post something!!!


I started this blog in October 2008 as a way to encourage myself to get back into writing and to do something constructive. I had actually had this blog for well over 6 months before I published my first post. I was literally terrified of pushing that button, but in hind sight I am so glad that I did.

Other than blogging I enjoy reading because after all one can never become a writer if they do not read. I enjoy playing online poker, but as of late I have been focusing my efforts on my budding blog. My favorite movies include Twister, Back to the Future, Roxanne, Finding Forrester, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and anything Pixar makes. I have a Blackberry that I cannot live without. If you do not have one I highly recommend getting one. Some of my favorite TV shows are American Idol, Lost, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, Seinfeld, and Three's Company.

The Would You Rather...? link at the top of my blog was an idea I wanted to incorporate into my blog. It was
created by Zobmondo!! I tossed around a lot of different ways to do that and finally decided on making it a separate page. The idea is simple. Every couple of days I post a new scenario, a choice, for you to contemplate. Some will be funny and others could be serious, but I encourage you to post your answers. Post anonymously if you feel the need. It's all in good fun. Remember to check back often to see the new question.

I encourage you to comment on my posts and send me feedback using my Contact Me link.

Thanks for stopping by!