Monday, October 31, 2011

Yershi's Going to NaNoWriMo

So, perhaps it’s not cheating to have a nearly 8,000-word head start heading into National Novel Writing Month. At least that’s the implication I get from Nathan Bransford’s post on the topic, so I’m going to go with that feeling.

Can a book be written in thirty days?

Better yet: Can a good book be written in thirty days?

It’s possible. The first one at least seems achievable. The second one, well, there’s the real challenge, isn’t it?

I’m going to do it, though. With Yershi the Mild.

So maybe I feel a little guilty, coming into it with that 8,000-word head start. Should I? It doesn’t appear I should. NaNoWriMo’s Codes of Conduct is explicit about explicitness and not feeding the trolls and such, but they don’t say I can’t come into this with a head start. So I’m gonna.


For the challenge. For the fun. For the opportunity to kick myself in the butt and actually get Yershi the Mild into nearly-done territory by the end of the year. See, I was in this same kind of situation this time last year with “Considering How to Run,” which I decided to write and edit at least once in 2010. I did that. But it’s not gone beyond that, given that it’s crap and the first novel ought to sit on the shelf for a while anyway while the second novel comes out and is much, much better. So that’s what I’m telling myself.

And I’ve got to confess I’m on a little bit of a writer’s high right now. Reading Terry Pratchett novels will do that to you.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thys Endris Nygth

“You have a choice,” Yershi said. The first snow of winter fell that morning, portending a long winter as it fell before the last of the apples dropped from the backyard tree. He at the washtub cleaned the breakfast dishes. He never let me wash dishes. He did them in a certain order: cups, bowls, plates, earthenware; and in a certain way: dip, scrub, dip, scrub, dip, rinse; and with a certain swishing motion in the water that he did not have the patience to teach another. For him I chopped the wood and fetched the eggs and water.

“Your choices are these,” he said. “You leave” -- this he said every morning – “second, you hide in the woods nearby for a fortnight, or, third, you pretend to be a mute while my guest is here.”

He would not tell me who the guest was to be. When I pressed, he raised his eyebrows and pointed out through the back door to the world.

I went mute that morning.

At dinner, he said, “You are a good mute. Not a sound. You would do better to lower your eyes, to shuffle rather than stride. To be more meek. My guess, I surmise, will expect such from a mute house-servant. He is an insufferable fop, I am sure. Do not look him in the eyes. If he kicks you, just get out of the way. You do not need to suffer a beating, but striking servants is what he is used to. I will know what he does, how he behaves, even if I am not around when he mistreats you. Fear not,” he said. “He will not be here long.”

That night, Yershi unrolled a thick bearskin from some hidden corner and spread it on the floor, covering the trap door that led to his den below. Daggers and a crumbing mace appeared on the mantelpiece. He silently rolled my bedding and bade me stow it in the chicken coop, where I knew I would be spending the nights while his guest slept on my pallet.

I grumbled a bit as I shoveled manure, spread straw in the coop.

“I hear you,” Yershi called from the darkened house. “He will too. A mute is not allowed to grumble.”

He fretted over his squirrels. For weeks now, he tied apples and small pumpkins and squashes and carrots from strings and dangled them from the branches of the apple tree. The squirrels came in droves, leaping from the tree branches to the ground to snuffle among the snow and leaves to eventually find the vegetables and fruit and dance and stretch and strain and climb to eat what hung there. Many mornings he sat at the table staring out the open Dutch door to the apple tree, laughing at their antics.

“He will not understand such frivolity, from a killer,” Yershi said. “What credibility I have could flee with those squirrels. Cut the strings.”

I cut the strings and tossed the fruit and vegetables to the pigs. The squirrels scolded from the treetop, but soon turned to the apples still on the branch.

A grand carriage arrived as the sun set. I watched from a naked beech across the lane; Yershi bade me disappear until morning. The carriage was black and trimmed with gold and burgundy. The horses, too, were black and clad with black leather. The footman was silent, obsequious. He thrust a wooden step below the carriage door, adjusted it, adjusted it again, then rapped smartly on the door three times. A voice from within shouted. The footman pulled the door open. After a long pause, a figure emerged. Tall. At least a head and a half taller than I. He would tower over Yershi, squat and fat. He stalked towards the house, crunching leaves and twigs under his impossibly small feet. The footman and carriage-man lowered bags and a trunk from the roof of the carriage, carrying them one at a time into the hut so as not to soil their bottoms in the dark snow.

The conversation was quiet, but I could hear the occasional shouted word or phrase. Rough road. Slow. Complaint. Tell. Never. Hanging.

There was much going back and forth from the hut to the carriage. Packages and bags, boxes of stuff. Yershi might have to roll up the bearskin and sleep in his den for want of space, I chuckled from the treetop.

With a trot of hooves and rattle of livery, the carriage left. The footman calling loudly to the carriageman: “This Yoshi will have a rough time with The Pup, no question of that.” They both laughed.

A cat wandered down the lane, sniffing at things, stepping over the frozen ruts.

Though it was cold, I stayed in the tree, silent as an owl, watching the stars come out. That milky band of stars and dust stood out like salt poured on a black cloak. The Evenstar rose, higher and higher. My breath came in billows, but still I perched in the tree, recalling the lullaby, the lullaby I know my mother sang to me as a babe:

Thys endris nygth
I saw a sygth,
A stare as brygt as day;
And ever among
A mayden song
Lullay, by by, lullay.

As I hummed the words silently, another voice joined in. The voice rose and fell, gentle as a mother cradling her infant. The stars seemed to jump and dance at the melody. The cold fled.

“Hush that row, fool! I’ve had a long day!”

The voice stopped. A breeze rattled the bare breech branches. Owls hooted to each other in the distance.

Yershi emerged silently from the front door of the hut, stared up into the sky. He glanced this way and that, then stared up at the beech, at me, through me. In the cold night, I heard him whisper: “That is one.”

Always Steel and Glass is Future . . .

I, for one, have my doubts about the future. Oh, it'll arrive; we can't stop its arrival. I just have to wonder: Why does the future always involve so much stale, sterile, glass and steel?

Irony: I've tried to watch this Chef of the Future video, but it keeps skipping, getting stuck, playing the music without the video and otherwise being stubborn to play.

I see the future still looks pretty much like today: Zoned-out zombies staring into computer screens or walking around not interacting with anyone around them but using their smart-whatevers to grok all the announcements and things around them. All the while talking about some expensive green wall thing meant to improve hospitals and office buildings without realizing that, hey, we've had this green wall technology since caveman days -- it's call the outdoors. Or houseplants. Really, the future is just as wasteful with its resources as is the world today? Yeah, yeah, I know: Urban. Everything is urban in the future as well. Well, the future can stuff it.

Technology is great, that I will admit. Just today, in fact, while I was in church, I tapped out a few paragraphs for the novel I'm writing. And emailed them to my desktop where i can do some real wordsmithing. But I could just as easily have written those paragraphs out longhand on a bit of paper and then moved them to computer via the magic of the keyboard -- or just write those novels longhand, in notebooks. Would technology have made the plays of Shakespeare better? (Not that I'm a Shakespeare.) I don't know. But the future is just that: The future. The passage of time. What we do with that time, whether it's spent with smart-thingies surrounded by greenwalls in a bleak steel and glass urban landscape, or sitting in the half-basement of an old-fashioned dumpy old house in the sticks, is what matters.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stifling Creativity

So, how creative do you feel?

Once I'm done with this blog post, I've got work to do on a novel I'm writing. "Yershi the Mild," of which I've posted a few samples here, is my latest creative endeavor. I'm having a ball writing it. I know I"m having fun because I've got ideas for it flying at me constantly, and I have to find little bits of paper or my iPod Touch so I can write them down before I forget them.

I've already written one complete novel -- it needs a serious edit; anyone out there interested? And I've started on a third novel, with the fourth and fifth also started or in the developmental stages. I don't know where all this energy is coming from, but I'm glad it's here.

So I want to talk about creativity. This talk right now is making the rounds:

I won't argue with the premise that much of what goes on in school stifles creativity -- attention to standardized testing, the ungodly urge to complete world history from Cavemen to Eisenhower by the end of the year (at least that's how it worked when I was in elementary school) and other pressures are shoving creativity out the door at school.

So I have to wonder: What's the problem? Encourage creativity at home.

No one at school is teaching my kid about comic strips. They don't even have much of an art program at the intermediate school he's at. But at home, once the rote learning is out of the way, he's drawing away, making new comic strips, reading my comic books, and doing whatever he can to absorb the world of comics. He just started a new comic adventure today:

I would love to see him encouraged in comics and art at school. But we're not going to wait for that to happen. We'll provide that creative atmosphere at home.

Does that work for every kid? No. It works for ours, though, so we'll encourage it.

Encouraging creativity at school and freeing students and teachers to take on creative pursuits -- from art to writing or whatever -- is a great thing. Encouraging creativity at home is just as good, and since that's where we can have the most control, that's what we're doing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Conundrum

I do not pretend to understand politics or people who vote for politicians.

I do understand some salient facts, however:

Gallup tells us in September that job approval ratings for Congress is at 15%, up – if you can call 15% up – from a tying-record low of 13% in August 2011.

Approval by party is equally dismal. In September, only 13% of those polled had favorable views of Democrats and Independents, with 19% approving Republicans.

Sixty-five percent of those polled by Rasmussen Reports predict politics in Washington will continue to become more partisan and believe that both parties are to blame – with 51% saying the Democratic agenda in congress is too extreme, and 47% saying the same about the Republican agenda.

Yet there is ample evidence that when it comes to picking politicians, factions of these same voters tend to want candidates and elected officials whose loyalties lie more with toeing the party line than actually doing anything to end partisanship or make Congress more effective.

Witness here liberal grousing over the independence of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has the temerity to talk with and – gasp – endorse Republican candidates, though he hails from a “blue” state that has elected him as an Independent since 2006. Here’s what Lieberman has to say:

“My ultimate loyalty is to do what’s right for the country. I don’t mean that to be self-righteous; I just think that’s what my job is.”

Witness here conservative grousing over the party-crossing of Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, who dares – gasp – work well with those of different political beliefs and look for ways the parties in Congress can work together to make things better. (By the way, it’s interesting that the names that come up in this column: Hawkins, Rammell, and Heileson are familiar to many in the area as strictly conservative individuals, unwilling to be less partisan. I think Eastern Idaho’s sending Mike Simpson back to the House since forever indicates how well partisan politics is appreciated in this neck of the woods.

We want one thing: Less partisan, more effective government. Yet the parties, the national media, and certain groups of partisan voters on both sides of the blue/red fence seem bent on making sure we have more partisanship – and thus less effective government. What is wrong with this picture?

Oh yeah. This:
Nevertheless, they did not long maintain an entire peace in the land, for there began to be a contention among the people concerning the chief judge Pahoran; for behold, there were a part of the people who desired that a few particular points of the alaw should be altered.

But behold, Pahoran would not alter nor suffer the law to be altered; therefore, he did not hearken to those who had sent in their voices with their petitions concerning the altering of the law.

Therefore, those who were desirous that the law should be altered were angry with him, and desired that he should no longer be chief judge over the land; therefore there arose a warm adispute concerning the matter, but not unto bloodshed.

And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land.

And those who were desirous that Pahoran should remain chief judge over the land took upon them the name of freemen; and thus was the division among them, for the freemen had sworn orccovenanted to maintain their rights and the privileges of their religion by a free government.

All of this seems pretty familiar, doesn’t it?

Cognitive Surplus and the Simpsons

Maybe I don’t feel so bad “wasting” my time on blogs like the Treasury of Laughter and the Cokesbury Party Blog.

Here we see the efforts of an individual, albeit uninformed on the ins and outs of “The Wizard of Oz,” working as hard as he (and I have to hazard a guess it’s a he, and I think I’d be right) can to chronicle the vast array of cultural references in The Simpsons.

Clay Shirky talks about this kind of thing – clear evidence of a cognitive surplus (which is defined as individuals in today’s digital society finding more constructive ways to spend their free time than watching television, which he posits was the cognitive sinkhole of the post-World War II era).

There's lots of debate out there, however, over producing versus consuming and then when it gets to producing, the quality of what is produced. I'm not so sure I buy into the "quality" portion of the argument, because there's lots of stuff of dubious quality that gets published without ever first touching the Internet. The Internet has just opened the floodgates for all producers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Your Subject Matter Expert

So, again Scott Adams demonstrates he has spies somewhere at the RWMC where I work, because we have SMEs to which the reaction is like this -- myself included, I'm sure, in some circles.

It's a mix of strengths, weaknesses, and personality clashes. Some of us carry around reputations for both good and bad -- and I mean both good and bad, because each of us has our good qualities and our bad qualities that make working with us an individual joy and terror. I know for myself sometimes I'm dumb as a rock, and those I work with know it and take pity on me for it.

The better part of valor, of course, is getting to know each others' strengths and weaknesses and building defenses and strategies to work with them or aound them, as the need may be. Soemtimes it works through reassignment, but most of the time each party in the group recognizes that they're just going to have to work with each other, grit their teethm, and get the job done.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Full-Time Obligation?

The Deseret News has published a rather staid three-day series looking at how Brigham Young University-Idaho is “pushing the boundaries of higher education.” The crux of the series’ focus is best summed up in this paragraph, taken from the series’ first installment:
Over the last decade, the school has morphed from a two-year junior college into a four-year university with an international reach and an enrollment nearing 24,000. The school's focus on students and teaching (over faculty and research), a year-round schedule, innovations in online learning (including the use of remote online instructors), and a program for distance education called Pathway have turned the conventions of higher ed upside down. Within the ivory tower of academia, traditionalists see the school's methods as heretical. Others think the school might be the most innovative thing this side of Harvard.
As will happen, the comment section of the articles have been much more interesting than the articles themselves, and bring to the forefront a question that’s pretty pertinent as the economy continues to struggle: Is BYU-Idaho’s growing reliance on part-time online instructors causing more harm to instructors than good for students?

Full disclosure: I am one of those part-time online instructors at BYU-Idaho. Have been for the past two semesters. I fully admit that my experiences and expectations of this part-time job will color what I say next. But for what it’s worth, I think I’m right.

First, we look at the fundamental question: Is BYU-Idaho obliged to create full-time jobs with benefits? Some commenters on the second installment of the series emphatically insist the answer is yes. By shifting teaching duties to part-time people and by not offering benefits, the university is neglecting those who teach several different online courses at many universities, they say.

I say they have to look back at the reason the university expanded its online offerings in the first place:

[I]n 2008, a novel idea surfaced that would change their approach to online learning. What if the faculty on campus didn't teach the online courses? What if qualified instructors, those with master's or doctorate degrees in relevant disciplines who were out in the workforce taught the classes remotely?
Every class would be offered online, and every student would take an online course. This, more than anything else, would allow the university to expand its enrollment and reach.

"When I first heard about it, I knew it was right," Clark said. "If you looked at the number of courses we wanted and the number of faculty, it just made sense. Our campus faculty were already swamped, and we hired them for their skill and excellence in [classroom] teaching and in developing courses."
Hiring full-time teachers and offering benefits is of benefit to the teacher. But hiring more part-time instructors and not offering benefits keeps costs lower and benefits the students.

So to answer the question: No, BYU-Idaho is not obliged to create full-time jobs with benefits.

I admit I am fortunate that I have this part-time job to go along with my full-time job, which does offer benefits. But up until a month ago, I’d worked (for 5 ½ years) for a company that did not offer benefits. They did offer a stipend I could use to buy my own health insurance, but nothing else.

So why did I get the part-time job, if not for benefits?

Well, the money is nice, I will admit. But more important is the experience. I’m contemplating pursuing a doctorate in professional communication. Finding out if teaching is something I enjoy doing is essential to planning this out. I could think of no better way to get my feet wet in teaching than to get on as an online instructor at BYU-Idaho. So from my point of view, BYU-Idaho’s online program is serving my needs well.

(Update on that post: I’m to talk Friday with the guy in charge of doctorate programs at USU to see if this idea will fly. Not got my hopes up, but I will go in as a wide-eyed optimistic soul with nothing to lose.)

I don’t blame those who are in other employment situations from lamenting that BYU-Idaho is not creating more full-time jobs with benefits, but to claim the university is doing so on the backs of its instructors is spurious. They’re looking for professionals who can fit the bill for their students’ needs.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Monster Update

Here's an important example of why it's important to take photos when you've got the opportunity. The irony of it all will be revealed in a moment.

On Friday, we took our scout troop on a hike through the lava fields west of Idaho Falls, and included 17-Mile Cave as part of the trip. The cave is the home of the Monster, which features so prominently on the banner of this blog.

He has been altered somewhat in the few years since I took this photo. Unfortunately, not for the better, in my opinion. Also unfortunately, I forgot to bring a camera to document the trip so I have no proof to post here. Someone, however, has taken orange paint and tried to make him look more dinosaurish, but in an amateurish way taht detracts from the overall effect, rather than adding to it.

He has been joined by other monsters, however, which add to the overall spooky effect of the entire spooky package. It's likely I've got to drive to work one day next week, so I'll be sure to smuggle a camera with me so I can get some photos of the guy to post here later.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Stinky Side of Teaching

Some of my regular visitors may know that I teach a basic English class at Brigham Young University-Idaho, a second job that I started officially this summer. It's been an adventure working with these young students (and some of them, like me, going back to school and not so young) and sharing in their learning experiences. Many of them are excited about the challenges that lie ahead and dive into the assignments we do with lots of energy.

Then there are others.

Tonight, I had to call a student on the carpet for plagiarism. It's a big worry in the back of my head as I grade essays, because I know -- from hard experience as a young writer -- how tempting using someone else's words in the place of your own. But you get in a pinch, an assignment is due and suddenly you think you've stumbled across the perfect way to do it: Cheating.

It's an ugly word, and it's one I don't relish using in relation with my students. But call this student on the carpet I had to, else the student won't learn the lesson that you have to be honest. The BYU-Idaho honor code calls for it, and expressly discusses plagiarism.

Over the summer, Alan Murray, my compatriot over at Uncharted, taught a writing class to up-and-coming high school journalists at Columbia University in New York City. He had me work alongside him to grade the essays the students wrote. We found that one of his students had also plagiarized, in this case a bit from the New York Times. The Internet made discovering the plagiarist's sources a matter of typing in only a few key words. That was the same case with my student tonight.

So now we wait to see what happens. I gave the student the option to re-do the assignment for a better grade. I also contacted by teaching supervisor to put him in the loop so I've got a backup opinion on the matter. Here's to hoping that this student realizes the error and comes clean with a new assignment. I'm not relishing the next 24 hours, though. They're not going to be fun, for me or for this student.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Occupy Ethics

Here’s a conundrum for our overly-sensitive days: How deeply can your employer delve into your personal life – particularly your personal politics – when you’re off the clock?

I raise the question because of the firing of Lisa Simeone, a freelancer who works on classical music- and opera-related shows that, while not produced directly by National Public Radio, are distributed nationally by NPR.

Why was she fired? Because she’s serving – off the air – as a spokesperson for an Occupy DC organization.

As far as I know, no one has accused her of politicizing her commentaries. I hear her nearly every night introducing classical music as I drive home from the bus stop, and I’ve never heard her stray from the world of classical music in her commentary.

I don’t disagree with the notion that in this day and age when we’re linked to our employers via Facebook and are out in the public more often than we are in private that we ought to be cognizant that our extracurricular activities could, in some eyes, detract from the reputation of our employer. But I have to agree with Simeone and TIME Magazine writer James Poniewozik when they express incredulity that this situation led to a firing.

Says Simeone (per NewsBusters, which is altogether too gleeful in this situation):
I find it puzzling that NPR objects to my exercising my rights as an American citizen -- the right to free speech, the right to peaceable assembly -- on my own time in my own life. I'm not an NPR employee. I'm a freelancer. NPR doesn't pay me. I'm also not a news reporter. I don't cover politics. I've never brought a whiff of my political activities into the work I've done for NPR World of Opera. What is NPR afraid I'll do -- insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?
NPR’s code of ethics, however, appears clear on the matter:
VIII. Politics, community and outside activities

1. NPR journalists may not run for office, endorse candidates or otherwise engage in politics. Since contributions to candidates are part of the public record, NPR journalists may not contribute to political campaigns, as doing so would call into question a journalist's impartiality.

2. NPR journalists may not participate in marches and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers, nor should they sign petitions or otherwise lend their name to such causes, or contribute money to them.

3. NPR journalists may not serve on government boards or commissions.

4. NPR journalists may sit on community advisory boards, educational institution trustee boards, boards of religious organizations or boards of nonprofit organizations so long as NPR does not normally cover them and they are not engaged in significant lobbying or political activity. Such activities should be disclosed to the Senior Vice President for News or their designee, and NPR may revoke approval if it believes continued service will create and actual or appearance of a conflict of interest.

5. When a spouse, family member or companion of an NPR journalist is involved in political activity, the journalist should be sensitive to the fact that this could create real or apparent conflicts of interest. In such instances the NPR journalist should advise his or her supervisor to determine whether s/he should recuse him or herself from a certain story or certain coverage.
This kind of code of conduct is not alien to the world of journalism. Wise journalists should recognize that any conflict of interest – even one that is perceived and one that may not “leak” into one’s professional duties – is still a conflict of interest.

But the blanket approach to how NPR handled this situation is puzzling. Simeone as a journalist for Soundprint, which produces news and commentary, should have known better than to involve herself with a political organization after hours – in clear violation of any newsroom ethics policy. But as for her being fired from shows that are not political in nature, that is what I question, especially when the news/commentary and opera/classical music programs are produced by different entities. This all or nothing approach is draconian.

Nevertheless, it may be warranted. Says Julie Moos over at the Poynter Institute:
Questions about politics have dogged NPR in the last year. The public radio network’s new CEO Gary Knell hopes to depoliticize its image; incidents like this clearly will not help.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Big Book of Dad Doodles

Yeah, once and a while I get bored and do some doodling too.

Apologies to Gary Larson for this one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A New Comi: Buni

I kind of the like off-beat. That probably why in the corner penthouse of conservative Madison County, I’m a Democrat. Or at least a wishy-washy independent with leftish socialistic commie leanings.

That’s probably also why I like Ryan Pagelow’s Buni comic strip.

Reading Buni is almost like watching those silent movies, where the actions have to speak louder than words because the words have to be written out on a card and pasted on black pages between the action. It adds that bit of Chaplinesque humor mixed with a bit of surrealism, as in the following examples.

The rainbow unicorn one while he’s riding the broken-down kid toy in the slum is my favorite. I like the drunken bum bear especially.

Trusting Your Sources. Or Not.

Thanks to Richard Thompson over at Cul de Sac, I have an excellent comic to use with my students when we talk about finding legitimate sources.

Ernesto here has all the trappings of a legitimate guide: The hat, the bullhorn, the official maps and the GPS. But Petey rightfully expresses his doubts as to Ernesto’s ability when he points out that his materials aren’t what they seem. And I also hope Petey recognizes that Ernesto’s hat is a cylinder of construction paper held together by some tape at the back. Ernesto has all the trappings, but upon closer inspection, Petey would be better off being guided by an errant butterfly as he searches for his portable classroom than this self-appointed expert who really is no expert at all.

The Internet leads us to all sorts of different sources of information. Some of it is good. Some of it is patently bad. But it’s up to us, even when we’re looking at something “good” to find evidence to support our good feelings or to find the tells of propaganda being passed off as information, or something even worse being passed off as information.


I have two degrees, for which I paid cash – with the exception of a single $1,500 student loan.

I have two jobs. Both are great. One provides affordable health insurance for my family. The other keeps me up late at night but helps with the soul.

I’m writing two novels right now and editing a third.

I’m a volunteer with my church and with the Boy Scouts of America.

I have a wife and three kids, a camper, a home in a quiet little town, and two vehicles.

I’m a little worried.

Some day – sooner rather than later – I’d like to retire. We’re trying to build an investment portfolio as my father-in-law has done so we can do so. But you know what? I’m pessimistic. I feel like we’re throwing money down a rat hole. Because since 2008 – that’s three years now – we’ve lost money. We keep putting money into the system, and we keep losing it. And the funny thing is, during the years we were gaining, I had to wonder: Why do the gains come so slowly, yet the losses cut so deeply and so quickly?

So when the Occupy Wall Street protests began, the inner cynic said, “Well, good luck with that, hippies. Nothing will change.” But I begin to wonder. Doing nothing but throwing good money after bad hasn’t done anything. My new employer offers a 401(k), and I’m not sure at this point whether to jump into it or not. I don’t want to lose any more money. I know they say you’ve got to ride the bad years with the good, but these are the same people who also say they deserve big bonuses no matter how their company performs, no matter how many of their investors are getting soaked, no matter how much government bailout money they may get.

I’m tired of that.

I’m like those who believe I, myself, and me has to work to get ahead. But at the same time, I look at the way “business as usual” is run, and I have to wonder if I, myself, and me is going to be enough.

I write to my elected officials about health care. I get back robot emails. Writing to them about the financial crisis, well, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be effectual. Maybe it’s time to join the protest.

Yet there is hope amid the fear. As President Boyd K. Packer said at October conference:

You must learn to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” You must be trustworthy and surround yourself with friends who desire to be likewise.

Sometimes you might be tempted to think as I did from time to time in my youth: “The way things are going, the world’s going to be over with. The end of the world is going to come before I get to where I should be.” Not so! You can look forward to doing it right – getting married, having a family, seeing your children and grandchildren, maybe even great-grandchildren.

Have faith. Be spiritual. And ring that doorbell.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Word it Up

This Dilbert comic gave me a pretty good chuckle this morning because, in many ways, it describes my life for both good and bad.

There is much that can be accomplished with writing. At work right now we’re preparing the operational paperwork to open a new waste processing facility, so we’re deeply involved with words. We have to put bows on it all too – but we can’t just word things up willy-nilly because these documents will actually be read and used and revised and revised again as we all work to make them as perfect as they can be.

I’m doing the same with the novels I’m working on. The first drafts, it appears, are plot and character development laced liberally with spots where I word it up and put a bow on it. The editing process means to cull the wording up and to make sure the bows are all in the right place.

Readers, I have to remind myself, are astute individuals. They can tell immediately the difference between something that’s bee worded up with a bow slapped on it and something that’s been carefully crafted and edited. I’m learning as I get older that while the initial writing process might be the most satisfying, the ongoing editing process is the most necessary. Sometimes when we word things up and put bows on it, the wording and bows just get in the way of the central message. I can see that with “Considering How to Run,” and I know now – having put some emotional distance between the book and myself – that some of the bows I’ve got in the book need to be taken off. I know the ones – those that smack of any “modernity,” those that recall us from the fantasy world I’m trying to create to the real world in which I exist now. Those real-world things have got to be cut. And the novel won’t suffer for it.

Again, this may be why – I’m a slow learner, I know – that many editors advise would-be book writers to write two or three books before they actually get serious about asking someone to read and edit what they’ve written in a professional, potential-to-publish capacity. I’ve learned enough about writing that first novel to know what kinds of mistakes to avoid, and I’m sure I’ll discover new, fresh mistakes – and encounter some old friends – as I write the second and third (which are both underway right now, by the way). Maybe after three or four (or five or six) novels written, I’ll finally get to the point where I’ve written one that shows I’ve finally learned a thing or two – that I’m not just wording things up and putting a bow on it.

No! Not The Works!

Speaking of cartoons we would act out as kids, here's one. I remember many times chasing one of my siblings down and having them holler "No! Not 'The Works'! Anything but 'The Works'!" before I tickled mercilessly, or got tickled myself.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


The Deseret News has no sense of humor.

And also, it appears, the need for better copy editing.

They've started a series of articles on BYU-Idaho and, in their first installation, wrote "Rick's College" twice in their article. A minor flub, but one that should not have been missed in either the writing or editing process, since this is a common mistake made by many when Ricks College bore that name and anyone associated with a church-associated publication like the Deseret News should have known this.

I put in a slightly snarky comment, which I will produce here for all who care to read it:

Who is Rick, and why does he have a college?

A common question asked whenever anyone in this neck of the woods wanted to point out that it was Ricks College, not Rick's College.

I got the following reply from the Deseret News editorial team:
Dear Brian Davidson,
Thank you for commenting on On the frontier: How BYU-Idaho is pushing the boundaries of higher education on
Unfortunately, your comment was not approved for one or more of the following reasons:
   * Comment included name-calling, epithets, racial slurs or personal attacks.
   * Comment contained obscenity, vulgarity and/or profanity (including symbol-replaced words).
   * Comment contained over-use of punctuation (e.g. !!!, ???), ALL CAPS SHOUTING and/or was considered incoherent.
   * Comment included a Link to another website.
   * Comment was considered commercial promotion.
   * Comment was intended to provoke or inappropriately addressed other readers by name.
We would invite you to edit and resubmit your comment using the following guidelines:
   * Comments should be thoughtful and helpful to your fellow readers with additional insight or counterpoints to the article
   * Avoid personal attacks and other inappropriate responses to fellow readers.
   * Treat other readers as you would if you were speaking to them from a microphone, looking them in the eyes, then passing the microphone cordially to the next contributor.
If you would like to revise the following comment to comply with policy you may resubmit it by logging in and commenting directly from the story again.
Who is Rick, and why does he have a college?
If you have further questions about comment moderation, please visit our Comments FAQ Page
Deseret News Editorial Team
This email was automatically generated by Please do not reply. To unsubscribe from further comment notifications, click here.
Bunch of wimps.

Sure, they went and edited the story to expunge the "Rick's College" mentions -- but the should have said that in the reply to my comment, rather than suggesting in any way that it was uncalled for, as this email does. I'm not upset they didn't post my comment, and I'm glad they fixed the error. But anyone doing social media these days ought to know that reaching out in a positive way to someone who points out an error -- even a tiny one like this -- is going to be better off than someone who dismisses a poster like they're swatting a fly.

Even better was that earlier I got this message from the same editorial team, or so it seems:
Dear Brian Davidson,
Thank you for commenting on On the frontier: How BYU-Idaho is pushing the boundaries of higher education on
This message is to inform you that your comment on On the frontier: How BYU-Idaho is pushing the boundaries of higher education was approved. Thank you for your participation in keeping our dialogue civil and enlightening. We hope you'll continue to engage in the online conversations on and look forward to seeing more from you in the future.
Deseret News Editorial Team
This email was automatically generated by Please do not reply. To unsubscribe from further comment notifications, click here.
Can't seem to make up their mind?

I know why it happened -- they fixed the error then realized, "Hey, nobody's going to understand this comment now that w'eve fixed our boo-boo. Better delete the comment, too."

Oops. That's two errors now, Deseret News.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Again with the Angry Internet Mob . . .

Fury, the old saying goes, is a woman scorned.

Fury, then, is Victoria Liss.

Liss, a bartender in Seattle, launched into full-bore linear hate mode on the Internet after a man stiffed her by leaving no tip except for the “you could stand to loose (sic) a few pounds” scrawled on the bottom of his sales receipt. She ranted, found the offender on Facebook, then poured out even more rage as news of the stiffening spread and blogs and other media outlets picked up on the story.

But she outed the wrong guy – instead unloading an Internet’s-worth of hate on some poor guys in Texas who had no idea anything untoward was happening until he wandered over to Facebook.

The worst part of the story is that Liss and those who hopped on the bandwagon with her likely haven’t learned a thing from the episode. They’ll eventually find the correct individual and unload an Internet’s worth of hate and rage on him, without realizing that this kind of vigilantism is just as objectionable as the scrawled note that started it all.

I’m not saying that she was wrong to get upset. We all get upset, and this episode is certainly something worth getting upset about – what the man did was rude. But to fully unload the Internet on the first guy you find who has the offender’s name without really checking that it was the right guy was dumb. To even try to hunt the guy down in the first place was even dumber.

Yeah, we can rant and rave. But it’s appealing to the better part of human nature to get over the rant and chalk it up as just one of those things that life does to you, then move on. Liss, apparently, couldn’t do that – and once she fed the Internet Mob, there was no turning it off. Where cooler heads could have prevailed, a mob mentality took over, sweeping in people who really had no business getting involved except for some vague ideal of crowdsourcing justice over an event so insignificant it would have been better ranting over it in private, then leaving it at that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cheese Moved

Note to myself: Next time my BYU-Idaho classes insist I break my students up into groups, I’M NOT GOING TO DO IT.

Oh, I will do it. I’ll send out a sheet that divides the students into groups, and tell them – implore them – to only worry about commenting on the papers in their own group. But I won’t use BrainHoney to physically divide them into groups, because it just causes too many headaches.

Some students end up in groups with people who don’t participate until the last minute. Some get confused in trying to figure out which group they’re in, and whether their posts are displaying correctly. And last semester, when I tried to fix things, all of their posts mysteriously disappeared when I pushed the fix button. So I won’t do that again either.

Yeah, I know they should be used to having their cheese moved. I know that despite the explanation of the group work in this week’s folder, plus what explanation or obfuscation I offer, there will be confused students. I’m beginning to wonder if not physically dividing them into groups will fix that problem.

So maybe I’ll do this: I’ve got two sections. Next time I have to divide them into groups, I’ll do one the physical way and one the paper way, and see which functions the best. That’s not really a fair test, however, since they’ve already had to go through the discussion group thing this week. They’ll be better prepared the next time.

And, for the most part, I’m not getting questions on the group discussions. That’s likely for one of two reasons:

1) The explanations offered are clear enough already.
2) They’re just posting as they normally would, disregarding any instructions.

Given my experience over the summer, I’m going to bet heavily on No. 2 – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At least they’re getting their assignments turned in. That’s what counts, right?

But there’s more. They ought to get used to having their cheese moved – because it’s going to happen an awful lot to them as they get older. Happens to me all the time. I don’t like it any more than they do, but experience and the college of hard knocks has taught me just to roll with the punches. Kinda like this guy:

Areva Gets NRC License

No real surprise here that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted Areva the license to build and operate its Eagle Rock uranium enrichment facility – but it’s significant good news for folks worried that current economic conditions and corporate mind-changing would stall or stop Eagle Rock’s construction and operation.

The news release from the NRC may be read here.

The Snake River Alliance is still using the tsunami damage at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant as an argument against the Idaho facility. Read more of their reaction here.

As Idaho looks to strengthen its energy economy and as the nation works towards greater energy independence, this comes as good news. There have been rumblings both locally and internationally that Areva was reconsidering the Eagle Rock plant. Getting the NRC license – though not a guarantee the work will go forward – is certainly an encouraging step forward for the project. Additionally, as an agreement with Russia to convert weapons-grade uranium into low-grade uranium for nuclear power plants expires in 2013 – leaving he US looking for fuel for its existing reactors, let alone any new reactors that come along.

Dan Yurman at Idaho Samizdat maintains – and for what it’s worth I believe him – that Areva isn’t walking away from Eagle Rock any time soon:
This blog asked Areva spokesman Jarret Adams, based on Bethesda, MD, for some answers. Here's what he said,

"It is normal for a new management team to review the company's major planned investments around the world. However, Eagle Rock is but one of many such investments. We do not know why this article chose to focus on this project. From our perspective, the Eagle Rock project is moving forward as planned."

While Areva is a heavily top down organization in terms of its management processes, it is unlikely the U.S. enrichment team would be left in the dark on such a significant decision. This leads me to believe that Adams knows what he's talking about and that the French financial newsletter is trading in gossip.

Nice Photos there, Opportunity

Dammit, I want to go to Mars NOW! Come on, where's all the space cars and flying saucers and junk that were supposed to get us there? I fully expected to travel to Mars within my lifetime when I was a kid. I am disappoint.

But not by this video, which is a montage of 309 horizon images the Opportunity rover took while on its three-year, thirteen-mile voyage across the Martian surface. More details about the voyage are here.

This is the kind of thing that drew the Hermit of Iapetus off of God's green earth to wander the cosmos. Or at least the immediate confines of the solar system. That haunting staticky noise keeps him awake at night, wondering what he might himself hear if he had ears to listen to the universe. He longs to leave tracks like this little rover, to be slowly blown over by alien winds pushing alien soil.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Now, the first App-Album

I wrote here recently about my disaffection with the so-called hypertext novel.

Now Bjork (yeah, that Bjork) is releasing tomorrow what's being called the first "app-album" described here by the scriveners at

So, why does this sound more promising than the hypertext novel? (Aside from the narration by America's Favorite Old Fart, for one, and Bjork's music, for another.)

I think it's more than the eye candy.

When I clicked through the links to Paul LaThingy's hypertex novel, I didn't feel compelled to read. Or participate. Or even try to figure out why the author was taking me down these little segues. This app-album concept, however -- and I'll have to pass further judgment when I download the free thingy (no way am I paying for any of her music, however) -- has a different feel to it. There's interactivity there. There's that mix of sound and visual that could definitely be there in a hypertext novel that just isn't there in LaThingy's attempt at the hypertext novel. Maybe there can be a merging of the two genres.

I know, for example, that the stories I write are getting more visual and aural cues to them as I progress. There's a lot of song to them. I have one, set on Iapetus, where the Patsy Cline version of "Rose of San Antone" is going to play a pretty big part. Another is going to have what I hope will be a good mix of old-timey Christian music (and I mean 15th to 16th century old-timey. Need to research that) in it. There are possibilities there, in a hypertext novel, of introducing sounds, images, original video, that Paul LaThingy just doesn't approach.

Changing My Mind

I’ve decided not to let the insanely Internet-connected heinemakkefraus frighten me off. The new blog is a go.

I was set yesterday to return the subject of this new blog to its rightful owner yesterday when I decided to give it one last look.

Immediately, the artwork sucked me in. I flipped through the pages, chuckling at every drawing, even sharing a few with my wife who rolled her eyes at each one and finally said, “You know, if you don’t do something with this, maybe I will.” So I took the book back home.

Parody will be my defense. And it won’t be total snark – but perhaps a little updating is required, given changing views on the subject among younger generations, especially among younger generations of some males.

And, yes, it’s still going to be blue. And, right now, it's very beta. Just signed up for the name.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Good Wight

The Good Wight.

It has a nice ring to it, I think. It combines the idea of a wight -- the old English word for a creature brought back from the dead but in thrall to a sorcerer -- with goodness, implying, I hope at the end, a being brought back to life but in full control of its faculties, its will, and its freedom.

It could be a good name for "Yershi the Mild," the book I'm working on.

Or the follow-up book.

I'm excited about this one. Oh, I was excited about "Considering How to Run" as well -- that one still has possibilities -- but The Good Wight might be something that I can pull off satisfactorily.

Yeah, the further away I get from "Considering," the more I realize it's turning into one of those proverbial first novels that have to be written to get the gunk out of the system. And that's okay. Something may still come of it. But it's right now too much a jumble of ideas without a good central thread to it. I can see The Good Wight bridging that gap.

Also, this is more YA literature, meaning I'll have a tighter story, a shorter one. And that's okay. A shorter tale will give me the concentration and oomph to make it good. With "Considering," I felt like I was in the shipyards of Deimos as described by Arthur C. Clarke in "Imperial Earth," where they make ships by the meter and cut them off to the length the customer desires. Instead of doing that with "The Good Wight" (I have to keep trying the title out to see if I like it) I'm going to set a limit of no more than 45,000 or 50,000 words. And make each one of them count.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Disconnect Continues

You know what – I think CEOs get paid way too much. Though I roll my eyes at the overalls-wearing yahoos #occupyingwallstreet at the moment, I understand the emotion. I’d rather see people who are struggling to find work or working away at jobs that don’t pay a living wage get the jobs and the money they need to live more fulfilling lives than to see rich people get richer.

But there’s a subtle disconnect, I think, between raging at CEO pay and, in turn, raging when others “don’t get their due” as they or we think they should.

Right now, voice actors for “The Simpsons” and Fox Studios are in a battle over pay in which the studio is threatening to Kancel Krusty if the actors don’t agree to a 45% pay cut.

On paper that sounds completely egregious. If my employer asked me for a 45% pay cut, you can bet I’d don overalls and have fun storming the castle. But when you’re talking about a pay cut that would drop an actor’s pay from roughly $8 million a year to $4 million a year, I have to ask, in that smarmy C. Montgomery Burns voice, “Oohhh! And I’ll bet they were going to buy that ivory-handled back-scratcher. Blast their hide to Hades!”

Even in California, a guy could live on $4 million a year. I know I could.

But, you may counter, the greedy, greedy studios are making money money money while asking for the actors to take a pay cut. Yes they are. But that doesn’t mean the overpaid actors have any more need of the money than do the greedy studios. Note I said need, not right. By right, well, I’m not going to argue who ought to have the money. Pay the writers more. Pay the animators in South Korea more. Pay everybody associated with the production more so that, by golly, they all have better lives. Let’s all go to the lobby and have ourselves some snacks. But do the actors really “need” $8 million a year, just as do those greedy banking CEOs need their multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses every year? Not hardly.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More Email

One of the unanticipated events of switching contractors where I work: I now have a completely new email address I have to check on a regular basis.

Part of this is pretty nifty – I get a professional email address to use on my resume and in official correspondence; much more professional than the current Yahoo! email address I have on my resume at the moment.

But that now makes a total of six email accounts I have to keep track of on a regular basis. Trying to remember the passwords alone will kill me.

I’ve tried making checking my email as easy as possible. At least it’s not another frickin’ gmail account. I have two of those, and I hate checking both of them. First of all, Google wants everything in my life to be with them, and since I have blogs that I use under a different email address, they get all snippy with me every time I log into gmail. Second of all, their current app for the iPod Touch (I’m still out of it and don’t have a tablet) is absolutely horrible to use. They ought to be embarrassed by it – it takes forever to open up, asks for my password every time though I’ve told it my password each and every time I use it and ask it, nay, beg it to save it so I don’t have to put it in again. Yeah, it’s a security risk. Tough noogies. I’m going for ease of use here.

This new email address does present one additional bonus: I’ve now got another email address I can use that isn’t bombarded with spam.

Hypertext Novels. Really?

Already, I kinda feel like Mr. horse, reading this novel: “No, Sir, I don’t like it.”

Why? And what am I talking about? Well, this. Apparently this fella Paul LaBarge is trying to revive the best-forgotten "hypertext" novel which was, apparently, all the rage back in the early protean days of the Internet. Basically, it's a novel with little itty-bitty links embedded in it so you can wander off down other strange roads as you're reading the novel.

And that's what I don't like about it.

Part of my dislike smacks back to my derision of the basic premise of "web" writing – short, scrappy little bits of text that are really part of a longer text byt are broken up solely because it’s badd, baaaaaaad, baaaaaaaaaaaadd, as Al Gore might say, to make people have to scroll. Why scrolling is a sin when clicking over and over and over again isn’t, I’ll never figure out.

And then part of it is this: I’m already prone to getting bored when I read, even when the reading is exciting. I don’t need the distraction of, say, clicking on a link that takes me to some other little snippet of story, as LaFarge’s novel does – only leaving me with the choice: Do I go back to where I started clicking on the segue, or do I follow the further segues until I come to some end (maybe) (then again, maybe not)?

I see the appeal: This is kind of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure,” the books I enjoyed as a kid because, as a reader, I had a choice in what happened to my character, even if those choices led to being eaten by some alien because I made the wrong choice. Then again, sometimes I picked up those books and read them cover to cover without paying any attention to the choices offered because, well, that’s what I chose to do. That’s what reading LaFarge’s novel feels like.

I'm willing to give hypertext novels the benefit of the doubt. I'm willing to read this one (although the mention of drug use in its opening blurbs (it's hard to call them pages) aren't promising). I think, though, that a commenter on LaBarge's defense of his novel at hit it on the head when he/she said this:
I think theres [sic] also a big difference between non-linear story telling and something where you stop in the middle of a paragraph to follow the link.

Having hypertext breaks up the flow of reading, and to me anyway would be very distracting. I'd also be wondering why, if the links contained important information, they weren't in the story itself.
But maybe they are part of the story itself, where, as you follow the links, you're taken on the adventure of reading a different story each time you read the book. But then again, who wants to read a different story each time someone reads a book? Tolkien does this throughout his work, but in a way that lets you read narratives as you want to read them, not as the author wants them read. That might be the biggest objection I have to hypertext novels: The author is trying to take too much control of the characters and story.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


It's not every day you come home and see a wanted poster like this stuck to your front door. Today was my day for it.

I have no idea who CoCo the dog is.

I have no idea where "the office" might be, either.

The signs are also posted all over the interior of the house, too. I love coming home.

Another Sample: Yershi the Mild

NOTE: Want to read the rest of the story? Shoot me an email at misterfweem(at) and you can join the Targhee Writers Blog, where I've got the rest of the story It's also a place where you can post your stuff if you so choose.

There is more you need to know about Yershi the Mild.

He is good to his word. When he promised I could apprentice in the giving of life rather than in the taking of it, that is what happened. “If you follow me on a killing,” he said, “even more than fifty paces from the front door, I will chase you back to your mine and throw you in the deepest shaft.” I followed him once forty-nine paces and when I stopped, so did he. He turned, scowled, shouted: “Imbecile!” Then he marched off, leaving me where I stood. “One more step and I would be rid of you!” he shouted. “Take that step! I do not have time for stupidity!”

I did not take that further step forward. I went back to the hut to tidy. Counting my steps along the way, hoping I had not miscounted and gone fifty-one.

He let me live in the hut, from the day he took me on as his apprentice. I slept on a rug at the hearth and, for a while, missed the warmth and companionship of the chicken who used to sleep on my back. Yershi snored and talked and called out in his sleep, so the first few weeks inside the hut were not restful. But as autumn gave way to fall and the snow came, I was glad to be out of the coop and into the relative warmth of the hut.

Yershi is not trusting. When he left, he bolted and locked the room underneath the hut, where he took the chickens after they were plucked, where he stored his herbs and bark and flagons that came by wagon to the alchemists’ in Alderny. “Your world as my apprentice exists down there,” he said. “But you have work to do above ground, first. Above ground,” he said, “before you enter the Grave.”

He came back with a grim expression.

“I saw his widow,” he said. “They had two children. They wept bitterly when they found him dead. And the alderman who had him killed gloated, gleeful, revenged on the poor man who dared to say he would not sell his acre to the man who has a thousand acres. A benefactor left a pouch of gold hanging in the tree above their well, with directions to a place where an honest farmer, recently widowed – a decent chap by most accounts – would welcome her and her children. Along with instructions on how to deed the land the alderman wants to the church.”

Yershi the Mild came with no payment; no bag of gold at his waist.

“I am no Robin Hood, Shadow,” he said to me. “I may rob the rich to feed the poor, but I also rob the poor to feed the rich. My good gestures must be accepted anonymously, with tears only softened and hearts still broken.”

He sat by the fire that night, straining to read from a book through spectacles clinging to the tip of his nose:

Father, I thank thee that thou has heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

“Then from that day forth,” he said to the dancing flames, “they took counsel together for to put him to death.”

He gazed long into the fire, forbade that I should renew it with logs though the night grew colder.

When I woke he sat still in his chair by the fire, a shawl around his shoulders, staring into the dead grey ash.

He looked at me with distant eyes. “What think ye?” he asked. “That he will not come to the feast?”

I stared back. I could not read. I did not know the book from which he read. My father had no books, nor did they in the mining camp. Jans, laughing at my ignorance – he knew how to spell his name and the name of his village in large block letters – called me a pagan. I did not know what he meant, nor did I ask.

“Light the fire,” he said. “I am cold.” He moved slowly from his chair and rolled himself in his blankets on his bed in the far corner of the room.

Just outside the window, the cock crew, loudly welcoming the cold sun of morning.

“I, Yershi the Mild, am not welcome to the feast,” he said.

A sour mood descended with the snow. Bartholomew, who raised the pigs to whom I fed the windfall apples, warned me. “October is not a time to be intimate with Yershi the Mild,” he said. “He’s never jolly by any account, but in October, man, his moods turn especially dim. Sometimes as swiftly as blowing out a candle. Years ago, one day toward the end of September, one of my sows jumped the fence and snorted her way into Yershi’s hut after he’d put out his light. I did not know of it until the next morning when Yershi brought her home, a rope tied gently around her neck. ‘I am accustomed to whiskers in my face when I sleep,” he said, laughing, “but not to the pig nose behind it. Except once in Kettering. Mary was her name. Warm, but ugly as this sow.’ We laughed heartily.”

Then his face fell and his voice lowered. “It happened again a week later. He brought the pig back on a rope, but in the form of hams and bacon, with half the meat gone. ‘Kindly keep your sows to yourself,’ he said. My wife dared not eat the meat. I had to burn it. She feared it was poisoned. No,” Bartholomew said, “Yershi is not pleasant in October. Ware, son, ware.”

Monday, October 3, 2011

Changing How Journaling Occurs

For a long time, I was a faithful journal writer. Especially through my mission and post-mission college years (and on into the first several years of married life) I wrote almost daily in a personal, private journal, evolving from pasting cut-out comics and pictures onto the physical pages to scanning everything into a computer to add to my typewritten entries.

In the last few years, not so much.

Oh, I have on occasion written a journal entry and categorized it as such, but in the last few years I’ve dropped from daily to, if I’m lucky, biweekly. This year, this bit you’re reading now likely classifies as my first journal entry.

What’s going on?

Embarrassingly, most of it’s going public, not private. And while that’s fine in some cases, in others it’s not because I’m not as inclined to share private thoughts in public – ranging from my blogs to Facebook and Twitter postings – leaving the private thoughts to the wayside.

That, in the words of Radar O’Reilly, is not so nifty.

My posterity can still get a good feel for who I am, I think, from reading my public posts. And given what President Boyd K. Packer said this weekend at conference – that those of us listening will enjoy grandchildren and great-grandchildren without being interrupted by the apocalypse – there’s a good chance there will still be people around reading this drivel after I am dead and rather pungent.

But what of those private thoughts? I’m not willing to post everything online.

So this is where this blog entry stops and the journal entry begins.

Incoherent Fembot

NOTE: The fembots appear to be getting more incoherent.

Cathie Mesa

I liked up to you’ll
obtain performed right here.

The comic strip is attractive,
your authored material stylish.

Nonetheless, you command
get got
an shakiness
Over that you want
be delivering
the following.

Unwell indubitably come more
in the past once more as
the same nearly a lot
continuously inside
case you defend this hike.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

This is A Bad Idea

Okay, so those of you who are familiar with Facebook, explain this to me. There are these cute little quiz or query things out there, letting me know, for example, who may have viewed my profile or what my Facebook grade might be.

Recently, they've added this new wrinkle: They want to post to Facebook "as me."

Not kosher, Facebook. Not at all.

And I don't even really know what this means. What, pray tell, are they going to post to my profile "as me?" Do I get pre-approval of what they want to post? Are they just going to post the result of the quiz or query, or are they, fifty years from now, going to be posting crap to my profile, totally unrelated to the stuff for which I originally gave them permission?

Until I know, my answer is no, no, and no.

I know this is an age of oversharing. Call me an old fart if you like. But I post enough stupid stuff to the Internet without third parties doing it as a proxy just because I gave them permission. That these things seem to be proliferating must mean that either they're not pernicious or that people are so used to giving up what privacy they've got left they don't mind if someone else takes over the onerous duty of regular Facebook postings. I'd like to have faith in humanity that it's the former, but in all truth it's probably the latter.