Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Third draft revisions and other stuff...

The other stuff is, What the fuck? Governor of Illinois has just won the award hands down, no contesto, for douchbag of the year. Pretty impressive when you consider O.J. was on the list.

On to writing type stuff, which is what this blog is for now that Please Delete This Blog is up. That little collaborative effort will be where I blog about the stuff that chaps my hide, and the occasional flash fiction pieces I write to keep my sanity.

From now on Charlie Horse will be all about the progress I'm making on my novels. So here goes.

Okay, so the mega outline/synopsis thingie that I decided to do based on the 2nd draft of Seed(s) is done. I'm now going through Cathy's stellar edits and addressing things like spelling dessert correctly. Then I'll look at the following list, pulled off of a thread over at Absolute Write, on things to search and destroy. I'll warn you now, it's quite lengthy and I'm not sure I agree with all or even most of it, but it's definitely worth noting and props to the person who put it all together. I know I sure couldn't have pulled anything like this out of my but.

Here's the list:

*-ing beginnings
a bit
a little
a little bit
a lot
and so
as * was *-ing
as *-ed
at least
began *ing
began to
continued to
could be heard, seen, felt, etc.
exist, exists, existed
grin, grinned
I (in a first person narrative)
kind of
make, makes
occur, occurred, occurs
proceed(ed) to
set out to
show, shows
smile, smiled
so (as a sequential word)
so then
sort of
started to
there was
tried to
waited to
was *-ed
was *-ing

Holy crap, that's a lot of searching, evaluating, and possibly destroying. I'll let you all know how this works out.

Hee Haw

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The process

So here I am in the middle. Not exactly according to plan but I got there, and now I'm sort of freaking out.

Only because I care.

After 100k words I've typed "The End" on the last page of 'Matthew Newman'.

It's time to do more revisions on 'Seeds', which has been sitting for near eight months. Now I have two, count 'em, two, novels in the draft stage.

I care deeply about both of these books and I want them to be not just good, but great, because great is what it takes to get published these days.

So here's the plan.

I've started creating an outline for 'Seeds', which in second draft form. Yeah, I'm proud of the fact that I don't outline much of anything but I saw this idea floating around about the benefits of doing this to a novel in the draft stage and I thought, maybe I should keep an open mind and see how it works. So chapter by chapter I'm writing a short synopsis in order to see how the story line progresses. I already know it drags a bit in the middle and although the ending is good, it may need a bit more punch. Plus, it's still a bit on the long side for a first timer writing YA so it looks like I got some work to do. I would love to start submitting this after the holidays, which seems reasonable considering the two weeks I get to take off from the day job at the end of the year.

By that time 'Matthew' will have set long enough that I can go back and start cleaning up that mess. Honestly, the way I free formed my way through that book, there's no telling what I might find when I go back and actually read it. Should be fun.

Should I remind myself one more time that writing is not for the impatient?

Allow me to lift a line from our newly elected Pres. just for a bit of inspiration.

Yes I Can!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Other End of the Horse

Hi, I’m Tim, and I’m a political junkie. I’m not sure if there’s a twelve-step program for us, but if so, at least I’ve got the requisite opening lines down. I’m equally unsure that you could effectively run a twelve-step program for us, because, for starters, we’d certainly want to conduct a series of straw polls over what steps there would be, and in what order. Not to mention organizing the committee to implement said polls. Further, we’d be so obsessed with the demographics of our group, the trends in messages shared, and the issues that drive each of us to such distraction, that I’m sure we’d just end up politicizing the entire thing. Imagine a ful-service bar attempting to treat alcoholism, and that’s about what it would look like.

As you probably noted, unless you read “The Horse’s Mouth” as a sleep aid, as I do (sorry David, but you know I’m not to be trusted!), I am not the originator of this blog. I have long wanted to start a blog of my own, but have never been able or willing to devote the time to it. But since I need a continuing fix for my politics addiction, what better way than blogging about it. Until I take the plunge and start my own, David has been gracious enough to let me occasionally hijack his.

This seems to me to be a perfect fit. We met online at a fan site of our beloved Lakers (although I was tempted to say it was a dating site, just to spice things up). Our politics are somewhat agreeable, and we are both men creeping into middle age, but still hanging on to the dream of being published writers. OK, truth be told, David’s been creeping into middle age a bit longer than I have, but he’s also actually finished a novel! Given the name of his blog, and my disposition, which should be readily apparent if I’m any kind of writer, perhaps I can function as the other end of the horse.

I am no stranger to being, or being called, a horse’s ass. In fact, my political addiction coupled with a contrary streak often leads to this behavior. While a staunch Democrat, if you put me in a room full of them, I naturally morph into the room’s Republican. I can even do a spot-on Sarah Palin, as I’m originally from Wisconsin, and her accent is faux Minnesota. Throw in a dollop of “Church Lady”, and voila!

But perhaps the most telling symptom of my addiction is the need to read all the numbers, analyze them, get the internal data, and roll all of it together to partake in the ultimate political junkie sacrament: prognostication. With me, it’s bad, real bad.

On Super Tuesday, while most observers were asking whether Obama could really win the primary, and if so, what his chances in a general election might look like, I was quickly organizing a “who is his VP pick?” contest. I chose, yup, Joe Biden. This doesn’t make me particularly prescient either. If you look at all the things Barack needed for the general election and beyond, how could you not pick Joe the Senator? Experienced insider with a vast pool of knowledge and respect in Washington? Check. Popular with white, blue-collar voters, especially in must-win Pennsylvania? Check. Not likely to run for President later, and thus not likely to derail the campaign, or worse, the administration for personal politics? Check. There’s a lot more, but you get the idea.

The week before the election, while most were sweating the polls, the Bradley Effect, vote tampering, turnout, and other such issues, I was busy organizing a state-by-state Presidential election pool. I’m happy to report that if North Carolina stays blue, I am a perfect 50 and 0. Of course, I also predicted Hillary Clinton would win the primary before it started (and was a John Edwards supporter, although not to the degree that some were), so I’m not infallible, merely so involved that I get some of them right.

But that’s the problem. Without a blog, I have nowhere to post these prognostications, insights, and other drivel, so I can claim credit later. So David, as part of my first post on your wonderful site, here’s a fearless political prediction:

In 2012, Joe Biden will not be the Vice Presidential nominee. Barring some major catastrophe, scandal, etc., that honor will go to Rahm Emmanuel.

OK, I feel all better now. David, thanks again for the opportunity, and I look forward to, hopefully, more substantive missives in the future. Oh, if you don’t approve this message, please delete this post...

Guest posted by Tim Johnson

Tired but happy (for once)

I don't have much energy to put into this today, but I did want to point out the obvious. History was made last night in a good way. The kind of history that will forever be remembered as one of those before and after moments. Where were we before, look where we are now. Not having great powers of divinity, I can't say exactly what will follow in the coming years, but I feel fairly confident we're heading in a new direction and that several of the rules most of us have lived with our entire lives will be rewritten in some form or another.

This morning I produced very little on my WIP, which I was really hoping to finish the first draft of last month. What I did get down was not only pivotal to the conclusion, but also inspired by the man now known as our president.

Here it is:

And with that his upper vest pocket began glow. Then sparkle. Then shine. And finally beam upward. And last but not least, do all those other things pure radiant light does when unleashed upon the shadows of doom—those things one can’t quite put a finger on. Into the darkened sky the light from the Eveningstar gem pierced the clouds in a display so bright, so brilliant it could have made a blind man squint and a fish’s eyes water. A beacon that, when reflected off the stratosphere, surrounded the planet spreading a message to all who were witness to it. A message unseen for more days than one can keep track of without the help of several 18 month calendars and a good secretary. A message that stated in no uncertain terms, “You are saved from the darkness.”

I like it, even though it's still first draft and subject to land on the editors floor.

Hope you're feeling good today.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election day special!

I know, here I went for months without posting squat on this blog and today I'm going to post twice. But hey, if you can't speak your mind on election day you may as well live in Texas. Am I right?

So what I've been wondering during this entire election season is why in God's name has it been so difficult to see the clear advantages of one candidate over the other. Namely, how can anyone with half a brain cell left in their noggin honestly think that a McCain Palin ticket on Capital Hill would be preferable to an Obama-Biden reign? I understand the master plan of the Universe in that everyone needs to be different in order to keep things running smooth as Jello, and that you can't win over all of the people all of the time, but honestly people, this election shouldn't even be close, especially after the eight years of inept bumbling of the soon to be last Republican administration.

So I thought I'd go to the source. For the first time in my life, I turned on the radio and listened to Rush. All I can say about the experience is I'll probably have nightmares for months after listening to that moron. It's not that he's stupid. In fact, the scariest part about him is that he isn't. But the way he can take a perfectly intelligent idea and twist it to make it sound like it came from the mouth of Beelzebub himself is more frightening than a clown at a birthday party.

According to Mr. Limberger, us liberals don't want to work hard, that our sole motivation in life is to suck off the welfare system and that only good patriotic American conservatives want to work hard and get ahead in this world. Add to that the fact that under Mr. Obama's plan there will be no motivation for good honest American conservatives to get ahead because if you do become successful the government's just going to take your money and hand it back out to us liberal ne'er do wells. And that my friends is...gasp...SOCIALISM.

Okay Mr. Limberger, first off I'd like to say fuck you and fuck all your fucking stupid ass listeners for being so fucking ignorant. The human condition has nothing to do with wealth, nothing to do with who gets to keep what. An enlightened Humanity has an inherent need to feel useful and to spend our days on this planet making a contribution REGARDLESS OF HOW MUCH WE GET PAID.

Mr. Asshole, do you honestly think that people would rather collect welfare than work? That being on the welfare roles is a place people aspire to be? That if given a choice, people wouldn't rather have a job that pays them enough to live decently? If this is your belief, Mr. Asshole, if this is truly your belief, I pity your pathetic germ of a soul because you have missed the point of existence entirely. If this is not what you believe but spout this gibberish merely because it makes for good radio than you are scum and should have that golden tongue of yours ripped from your mouth and shoved up your sphincter.

There, I feel much better now.

This is a good thing, right?

It's that time of year again, when the days are growing shorter, the leaves are changing, and there's that woodsy smell hanging in the air signaling a change in the seasons. I think we all know what I'm talking about here...

I'm thinking of writing a short story.

I may not have said it here, or to anyone for that matter, but if there's one thing I suck at it's writing short stories, and song lyrics...

If there are two things I suck at it's writing short stories, song lyrics, and relationships...

If there's three things I suck at, it's writing short stories, song lyrics, relationships, and handling finances...

Okay, there's a lot of things I suck at, short stories being pretty close to the top of the list. So why on god's green earth am I thinking about taking another stab at the genre. Maybe I want to keep poking at it until it's dead, never to rear its monstrously hideous head again. Who knows. But one thing I know for certain: I will not substitute my short story writing for any progress I'm making on the two novels I'm pecking away at. And, (this is a biggie), I will not worry about the word count either. If the damn thing wants to grow into a novel or a novella (eew, not a novella) then who am I to stop it, although I don't see that happening. The idea I'm playing with just doesn't have enough meat to it to last 300 or so pages. That's not to say I wouldn't ever tinker with the idea of trying to find avenues in which this thing could travel. In fact, I've already got a few thoughts on that. But damnit, something is telling me not to be so quick to drive a stake through the short genre's heart, that a really good writer should be able to master several different styles, and my heroes, i.e. Vonnegut, Gaiman, Salinger, etc., never shied away from that sort of work.

Still, I hate the idea of doing something I suck at. It's so much easier to do stuff that comes naturally--like feeling sorry for myself, which, as it turns out, happens to be the very premise for the story I'm contemplating.

Shouldn't be that hard, should it?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Let's talk about books.

Because that's what this is supposed to be all about, right? In particular, I wanted to focus on one genre that I've decided I absolutely, positively detest (wow, check out that cliched use of adverbs).

Self Help.

The very description of these blights upon humanity is erroneous. If you were helping yourself, you wouldn't be following the advice of some fucking mind predator to begin with. A more apt description of this shit would be, "Buy My Book You Dumbfuck and I'll Tell You How to Think, Act, and Feel or: How You Too can be Enlightened to My Way of Thinking."

I could write one of these books. It would be one page long. On that page I would say, "Get the fuck out of bed, stop searching for someone to tell you how to live your life, find something that excites you, and fucking do it."

Have I made myself clear? People who glom onto this pablum clearly don't have enough self esteem to feel as though they can make their own decisions. The idea that you're helping yourself by following some unqualified quack's mandate is ridiculous. And aside from that, honestly, do you really need to read more than one of these tree killers? I mean, how many ways can you find to say the same thing. It would be like hundreds of people all trying to rewrite Stephen King's "The Shining." The original was good. The knock-offs, not so much.

"I used to weigh 300 lbs, was a fry cook at Macdonald's, divorced with homosexual tendencies. Here's how I turned my life around. (This is where the steps come in.) First I found God. Second, I sold my rottweiler to pay for my bariatric surgery. Third, I read a bunch of self-help books. Now I'm an authority on the subject and if you buy my series of DVD's I can show you how to create wealth and prosperity in your life. If you don't believe me ask my supermodel wife how many times I pleasure her in one day. All that in between speaking engagements I travel to in my private jet. Oh, and don't forget to pray."

If it's so easy, if that's the way we were all meant to live, why the fuck isn't everyone on board with this system?

You want to know why?

Because everyone is different.

If you want to know more, send me $20.00 and I'll personalize a plan for you. Or you can come to my $500 a plate dinner I'll be hosting here, here, and here. I promise you, you'll never be the same.

As always, I've probably gone a little overboard (another cliche and I don't care who knows it) with my ranting. I'm sure not everyone hooked on self-help books is as desperate as I make them out to be. Like vegetarians, I'm sure some are decent and very well-adjusted people. I might not even mind hanging out with them. Everything I state here on these pages are completely baseless when it comes to facts to back up my claims. I may, in fact, even feel completely different about this subject in the next day or two. But hell, what are blogs for?

How many steps is that? Three? Four? Seven? Twelve?

Like I said, in my book there would only be one.

Peace, and don't forget to vote for the candidate (cough, cough, Obama, cough, cough) of your choice.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Teknology? Love it ? Hate it? Can it be trusted?

What got me thinking about this techno trap so many of us seem to be caught up in? You guessed it: The election. You know, that thing we can't stop obsessing over? That thing where if we get it wrong, the balance of the Universe could be thrown into complete chaos? That thing where you'll probably have to make the most important decision of your life?

Actually, I may be exaggerating a bit here, especially if I adhere to my philosophy and remind myself that whatever the outcome, ultimately it doesn't matter, because you know what? The Universe shant be controlled by mere mortals, especially old farts with bad comb overs and steel rods up their asses who've been bought and paid for by corrupt wealth.

In fact, IF that does happen, things on this planet could get real interesting real fast.

But back to my original topic of technology. It seems some folks are afraid to use those new fangled computerized voting machines, laboring under the impression that they could somehow be fucked with. In other words, used to rig the election. Thus, here in Monroe County, you have a choice: new technology, or paper ballot.

When I first heard about this I seriously almost bought into it. Then I started thinking, hmmm...I pay my bills on line. Keep track of what little money I have on line. I'm an active participant in certain internet communities. I email, chat, connect, and network. I'm tuned in and turned on. Even my most precious work is done and stored on a computer that I trust will spit it back out to me next time I want to dabble around with it. So why would I fear using a computer to do something that in the long haul is so much less significant than the books I write or my personal identity? I mean, it's not like your single vote will be the difference maker in a life or death situation.

Or can it?

Oh, what the hell. Life these days is automated. That in itself is scary enough. But if you're going to give yourself over to it, don't do it halfway.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Poor neglected blog.

Okay, I'll openly admit I suck at keeping up this blog. I'll also admit that the only reason I'm adding a new post at this time is because I realized that my signature over at Absolute Write has a link to this blog and I suppose there's a chance, albeit a slim one, that someone over there is getting a little ticked at me for allowing a two month lapse between posts with nary a whimper. Now I suppose this will go completely unread because anyone who may have at one time checked this spot for my pathetic words of wisdom has lost all faith in my ability to do so.

If it helps, I'm sorry.

So what, you might ask, prompted me to sit my ass down and spout off today? Well, there's a couple of things, the first being the very nice compliment I received from copeck at AW, who's been reading my shameless one liners. It's nice to know I have at least a one person fan base. And then there's that thing happening in just over a week. You know, that thing where the future of the world lies in the balance; where if the unthinkable happens we're all going to be mega-sad and there'll be protests nationwide triggered by an economy that's collapsed and the re institution of the draft. Being in an academic environment part of me wonders if massive anti-administration demonstrations and rioting might not be sort of an interesting thing to take part in. Maybe there'll even be some dope smoking and free love involved.

Wait a moment while I fantasize...

Okay I'm back.

As for the very nice compliment I received, I'll admit it's flattering and just the kind of thing a struggling writer needs to keep the fires lit. Actually, for the most part all of the comments I've had from readers on my 2nd draft novel that I'll soon be getting back to have all been puzzinglingly positive. Maybe I'm onto something. Of course I won't know for sure until I've gotten about 30 rejections but I've been told not to let those bother me. Even the greatest of writers have been rejected countless times and I'm sure I'm not the exception.

This is where I share my theory on how to be a success as a novelist, which is sort of along the lines of a reality TV show. Outlast, outwit, and outplay the other contestants even if they might be stronger, brainier, and better looking.

In regards to the early, vote often, vote for Barack.

That is all.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Observations from a college town

Greetings ET's:

Okay, so this blogging thing I do is probably in need of life support. Hey, I've been busy, so fuck off.

Yesterday was the day when all the dorm residents here at IU come streaming back into town. Like the swallows in Capistrano, in a single day the city of Bloomington transforms from a quiet, sleepy, Midwestern town to a city swarming with all the energy and rambunctiousness of an academic hotbed. So here's a random list of things I've observed on my daily treks about town:

1. I don't care where you're from or how old you are, you should never tuck your shirt into your shorts.

2. Any sport that requires you to wear spandex should be banned.

3. Dude, how much did your mom pay for that cleavage.

4. I hate to tell you this mister, but your daughter's going to a kegger tonight and will probably engage in promiscuous sex by the time you hit the interstate.

5. That poster you bought of Van Gogh's "Sunflower" doesn't qualify as art.

6. You're going the wrong way on a one-way street.

7. Stop signs generally mean you should stop.

8. MacDonald's doesn't count as "eating out".

9. You still drive a Denali?

10. Thanks a lot for taking my parking space.

Hee Haw

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Organic as it relates to several aspects of life

Greetings ET's

First things first. I never did get around to finishing off what I started last week, so let's just say Friday was frondiferous.

Glad I got that off my chest.

I've posted a lot on message boards and written out my own personal credo in my journals on how I go about writing a novel. Now it's time to officially share with the Universe.

For me writing is an organic process, meaning I allow my stories and characters to develop in as natural a way as possible.

Allow me to elaborate.

Mr. Author dude wakes up one morning and has a concept for a novel. Pixies are secretly taking over the 7-11, or an alcoholic estranged uncle discovers he has the power to make perfectly good soda go flat. Anything as long as it hasn't been overdone by one of those writers who have reached the point in their careers that they could type the member list of their local Masonic lodge, submit it, and it would still get picked up and placed on the front tables of every B & N or Borders on the planet and probably sell a bajillion copies.

So, providing I'm not in the middle of something, like sticking metal skewers up my nose or polishing my collection of turtle shells, I sit down at my decades old computer and begin typing.

That's it!

No outline, no months of research, no lengthy analysis of the meaning of names and how they relate to my main characters.

Just start typing the fucking thing.

The trick is to get a good first line. Something that doesn't have the word "was" in it. Something that when read, makes a reader go, "Fuck, I wonder what's going to happen on page 354?" Something like: It's not easy being the only person on the planet capable of unassisted flight.

Between 6-9 months later if all goes according to plan, I should have a healthy, happy, bouncing, baby first draft. Or as I like to call it, an 80 to 100 thousand word outline.

That's step one. If I don't totally slack off this week, there will be more written about some of the other things involved in the gestation period. Those hours and hours of slaving away before I can finally sit back and say, "I guess now I should write a query letter."

God, don't get me started on those things.

That's all
Hee Haw

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Searching for the point...Threadbare Thursday


Yeah, I put a bit of thought into this. When was the last time you used the word "threadbare" in a sentence?

I thought so.

Let's get this part out of the way first:

1. (of cloth, clothing, or a carpet) having the nap worn off so that the threads are exposed
2. having been used or expressed so often as to be no longer interesting: threadbare ideas
3. wearing shabby worn-out clothes

And from the thesaurus:
Adj. 1. threadbare - repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse; "bromidic sermons"; "his remarks were trite and commonplace"; "hackneyed phrases"; "a stock answer"; "repeating threadbare jokes"; "parroting some timeworn axiom"; "the trite metaphor `hard as nails'"

I like those thesaurus entries. Especially "hackneyed phrases" and "parroting a timeworn axiom".

Inching up the ladder in my quest for understanding the universe, I'm glad I found this word today. It's like a bird in the hand, good as gold, ripe for the picking, something to think about in the wee hours of the night.

You get the picture.

So I asked when the last time was you used this word in a sentence. Let me give it a shot:

In the waiting room of the tiny clinic, Johann paced back and forth on the stained, threadbare carpet.

Hmmm...not bad.

Hee Haw

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Searching for the point...Weary Wednesday

Of all the adjectives I could have chosen for today, this one jumped out at me as being most appropriate. Why? First let's get the precise definition thing out of the way, not that "weary" is an unusual or uncommon word. It's just that those are the rules I've established and what kind of example would I be setting if I turned around and flaunted my almighty ability to trample them?


1. physically and mentally fatigued; "'aweary' is archaic" [syn: aweary]

1. exhaust or get tired through overuse or great strain or stress; "We wore ourselves out on this hike" [ant: freshen]
2. lose interest or become bored with something or somebody; "I'm so tired of your mother and her complaints about my food" [syn: tire]

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

We all know that weary means tired, so that checks out with definition number one. Less common, but probably--no definitely--more appropriate to my current status as a human being on this planet is found in definition number two. I confess. I'm losing interest in many of the things that used to get me excited. "Stuff" if you will, just doesn't do it for me anymore. Oh sure, I probably wouldn't mind more "stuff", but then again, as long as the "stuff" I've got works, who cares if it's not the most current and up to date. I mean how much more do I need out of a (insert item here)? My (insert item here) does what it's supposed to do. So I guess you could say I've grown weary of always wanting newer and better "stuff", which for quite some time now has been one of the activities I always enjoyed. The latest electronic gadgets or a newer car or home. Maybe I'm just weary of not having money to buy new "stuff". I guess that could be it. But after all this time struggling and being poor, I've kind of gotten out of the habit of wanting stuff. I got tired of being frustrated. Now I just want to rest. Wallow in my weariness. Give in to the circumstances that surround me. I guess you could say I've finally decided to proclaim "fuck it all."

How's that for being weary.

Check in tomorrow to see what I come up with to describe Thursday.

Hee Haw

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Searching for the point...Tenacious Tuesday

In case you haven't figured it out yet, this weeks theme is focused on vocabulary. Each day I'll come up with a word an adjective that describes how I'm feeling within the boundaries of using a word that starts with the same letter as the day of the week.

Today's word:

Main Entry:

Latin tenac-, tenax tending to hold fast, from tenēre to hold
1 a: not easily pulled apart : cohesive b: tending to adhere or cling especially to another substance 2 a: persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired b: retentive

Now of course the first thing that pops to mind with this word is the fun little project band called "Tenacious D" created by Jack Black and Kyle Gass who rocked the show VH1 put on honoring one of the greatest rock bands of all time - The Who. Their rendition of Mama's Got a Squeezbox was magical.

For my part, being tenacious means I'll persist in my endeavors despite the fact that I may get beat down time and again. This is something I have to remind myself almost daily, and from now on especially on Tuesdays, because the only way to be successful as a writer to keep plugging away no matter how frustrating things might get. I'm poor, have a distinct lack of social skills, and can barely dress myself, but if I give up on this writing thing then I'll literally have no plan for the future.

So that's it, extraterrestrials. Whatever you're doing with your alloted time here on the planet don't give up. As they say in Galaxy Quest, "Never give up, never surrender."

Hee Haw

Monday, August 11, 2008

Searching for the pont... Maudlin Monday?

Okay, so it's Monday, some things in my life a really sucking right now, and I'm trying to figure out what the hell I can do to make myself happy.

So far I've got nothing.

This has led me to label today Maudlin Monday, but before I went ahead and made it official, I had to make sure I: a)spelled the word maudlin right (which I did, thank you), and, as long as I was looking up the spelling, I figured it wouldn't hurt to b) check the true definition of the term. Not exactly how I was thinking of it, but close enough. Here it is:

1. tearfully or weakly emotional; foolishly sentimental: a maudlin story of a little orphan and her lost dog.
2. foolishly or mawkishly sentimental because of drunkenness.
[Origin: 1500–10; special use of Maudlin, ME Maudelen ≪ LL Magdaléné < class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_4">Magdalén Mary Magdalene, portrayed in art as a weeping penitent] —Related forms
maud·lin·ism, noun
maud·lin·ly, adverb
maud·lin·ness, noun Unabridged (v 1.1)Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Well, I'm not drunk and I'm not tearful (at least not on the outside), in order to make this concept work I guess I'll have to describe my down in the dumps attitude as being foolishly sentimental. Hmmm...let's see...what kinds of things do I get all maudlin over?

Music - Sometimes
Movies - Rarely
Old photos - maybe
Revisiting old haunts - Bingo!

How's that for grasping the meaning of a word?

Of course now I've set myself up for having to write a new post tomorrow with the additional burden of carrying on with this theme. Let's see, what groovy new word can I think of that starts with the letter 'T'?

Hee Haw

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

About Fair Trade

I'm a coffee drinker. Not the kind that will swill a cup from Denny's or some other crappy franchised sub-mediocre dining establishment that I wouldn't step foot in even if I had a $100.00 off your next meal coupon. Nor am I a big Starbucks fan, deciding that the pros definitely don't outweigh the cons when it comes to price and social conscionability. I don't even drink the coffee at work, of which I am solely responsible to provide and charge for (one of my more important job functions). What I do like are the great Equal Exchange beans I buy at Bloomingfoods, which I grind just prior to brewing in my fabulous Melita coffee maker. It's good coffee and I feel good about drinking it, being organically grown and fair trade certified.

So as I mentioned, I buy the coffee that we use here at work. When I took the job I was given a Sam's club card and shown the ropes on how to make the coffee service we provide sustainable. I have since expanded the service to include snacks and occasionally beverages. I turn a small profit so I guess whatever I'm doing is working. But being all about social consciousness, and good taste, I found it hard to continue buying the jumbo sized cans of Maxwell House that had set the standard for office coffee years before my arrival. Imagine my surprise, when I discovered that Sam's Club sells their own brand of ground coffee that is certified fair trade in the same jumbo sized cans that Maxwell House did. There even wasn't much of a difference in price between the two.

But I had to look at this objectively. I mean c'mon, this is Sam's Club. You know, the big warehouse store owned by the same demonic powers that have almost single handedly destroyed our American culture. What's the catch.

So I did some research. Apparently there isn't any. Unlike the hazy standards set by the FDA regulating organic produce and dairy products (one day I'll get into the whole bullshit surrounding Horizon dairy products) it seems as though there are no loopholes when it comes to fair trade. You either are or you aren't End of story.

Here's what I learned by going to the The

Member's Mark Premium Ground is a medium roast, Arabica coffee grown and hand harvested by 3,678 small-scale, independent farmers. After harvest, farmers sell their green coffee to democratically-run cooperatives for a set, guaranteed minimum price. The coffee is roasted and packaged by Cafe Bom Dia, a Brazilian company with four generations of experience in the coffee industry.

Sam's Club will also partner with Cafe Bom Dia and TransFair USA to offer a summer 2008 week long study grant opportunity for junior high and high school teachers interested in teaching about Fair Trade. Teachers can enter the national essay contest and apply to win one of 10 expenses-paid trips to visit Fair Trade cooperatives, farms and communities in Brazil next summer. For details, click here.

The I found this detailing a bit more of the fair trade process. Apparently the FDA has nothing to do with it, which makes me fell better already.

From reasononline

TransFair USA certifies Fair Trade products and audits the chain of custody from producer to finished product, verifying that Fair Trade standards are met by everyone along the line. But it relies on the Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International, a global group based on Bonn, Germany, to certify coffee farms. TransFair is one of 20 members of FLO, an umbrella organization that has channeled ideas about social cooperation into pages upon pages of mind-numbing certification standards. The FLO defines a fair farm as a family farm that is a part of a large democratic cooperative. Farms cannot be "structurally dependent on hired labor," which means that hiring even one laborer year-round makes a farm ineligible for certification. Even more controversial is the cooperative requirement. Rather than deal with individual farms, the FLO exclusively certifies large cooperatives composed of hundreds of small land-owning farmers, each with a single vote on how to best spend the Fair Trade profits.

Sounds fair to me. I guess I can stop beating myself up over going to Sam's Club and buying their brand of coffee. Not great, but not terrible either.

Hee Haw

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What if?

Hey Extraterrestrials:

So here's what I've been pondering today, something that I have every intention of developing into my next piece of

What if the Industrial Revolution never happened? Let's say, just for the sake of expanding our minds, that rather than the urge to invent machines, and other contraptions designed to make our life cleaner, easier, and more efficient, the collective known as the human race developed their intellect instead? I'm talking about a mental revolution. Would this improve the living conditions on our planet, or would we be screwed? If this epiphany of the species began around the same time as the industrial revolution, thereby replacing said revolution, could we hypothesize we might reap relatively the same benefits from this alternate path toward advancing civilization?

Communications is the first thing that comes to mind. Without the distractions of gadgets and gizmos, how much more of our brain pan would be available for us to focus on the areas of ESP, telekenisis, mental telepathy, and learning how to spell words like vacuum? I mean really, couldn't we build the same big buildings, create really cool music and other entertainment options, and move about the planet just as easily using the power of mind control? Think of it. Teleportation, astral projection, walking on water, all of these facets of everyday life, with the proper attention to cranial development, would be possible. In fact, I'll even go so far as to say our civilization might even be more advanced than it is now.

If anybody's out there reading this (really, who am I kidding) I'd like your thoughts on the subject. But please, all you would be writers out there, don't steal my neato premise. I look forward to creating this world on the printed page someday. Now all I need is a plot and about 6 months to finish the first draft of my current WIP, get my other WIP, Forbidden Seed(s), into good enough shape to find a publisher, and hopefully resist the urge to down many mouthfuls of sleeping pills to make the pain go away.

Until then,
Hee Haw

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Hey Extraterrestrials:

I don't know why, but I find this fascinating:

No jail for boyfriend of woman stuck to toilet
He gets probation in case, though he did get jail time for separate lewd act

Pam Babcock was found stuck to a toilet in this trailer home in Ness City, Kan. She lived there with Kory McFarren, who on Tuesday was sentenced to six months probation.

NESS CITY, Kan. - A man whose girlfriend sat on a toilet for so long that the seat adhered to her body will spend six months on probation.

Kory McFarren pleaded no contest last month to a misdemeanor count of mistreatment of a dependent adult. A judge sentenced him Tuesday to six months in jail but granted the probation after the victim, Pam Babcock, asked for leniency.

"She didn't believe that her circumstances were his fault," Ness County Attorney Craig Crosswhite said.

Babcock's plight became known in February when McFarren called the Ness County sheriff, expressing concern about his live-in girlfriend. When authorities arrived, they found Babcock physically stuck to the toilet.

McFarren told police Babcock had refused to come out of the bathroom for two years. Medical personnel estimated she'd been sitting on the toilet for at least a month and said the seat had adhered to sores on her body.

She is now under the protection of a guardian who was appointed through the legal department at the hospital where she received treatment.

Also Tuesday, McFarren was sentenced to six months in jail for an unrelated charge of lewd and lascivious behavior for exposing himself to a teenage neighbor in March.

I think it's that last bit that really makes this story fascinating. Maybe due to the fact his girlfriend was stuck on the toilet, he simply had to find another place to pull out his winky.

Hee Haw

Monday, July 28, 2008

Poor little neglected blog.

Hey ET's...

Yeah, I'm a bum. I've slacked off completely on keeping this blog thingie up, but to be fair, some of the thoughts I've got going round in my head are just too personal to share with the internet viewing public and besides, it's just too hard to gather up all those little scraps of paper I've got lying around and determine which of my scribblings make sense and which don't.

Here's a quick recap of my glorious return tour to my home town. As much as I enjoyed the visit, whoever said you can never go home again was the most fucking brilliant person that ever lived. The one person I actually attempted to look up appears to be recently deceased, my in-laws don't really give a shit if I live or die, and I didn't run into Kobe Bryant or any other Laker players not even once.

So, Mr. Great novelist author dude, what's up with your puruit of publishing nirvana? Answer, I'm working on it while telling myself it's not about the destination, it's the journey that really matters. You know what, I'm getting really sick of this new age psychobabble bullshit. I've been on the journey, and it's all well and good, but what's the point of going on a journey if you're never going to get anywhere? Why is it that the only ones preaching about the fucking journey are the ones who are charging huge sums of money to talk about the journey. Why, if taking this "journey" is such a natural process, is it so much damn work? And how can there be so many self-help guru's out there preaching the same crap only using different terminology? Four steps, 12 steps, 7 steps, can't any of these guys get a consensus on how many steps it takes to reach enlightenment? Couldn't they just get together and write one book? Oh yeah, they already did. I think it's called the Bible.

Let's face it, if you didn't ultimately think you were going to become wealthy by taking this journey, would anyone really care?

Like P.T Barnum once said: There's one born every minute.

Oh yeah, Facebook is kicking Myspace's butt.

Hee Haw

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The waiting room

Day 2:

"Can I get an update here? This waiting is going to drive me nuts. They said it would take 2 hours and we're going on four. Why do I have a feeling that something's gone horribly wrong? Where's that damn liason anyway."

"Dad, Dad, DAD."

"What Daniel?"

"I'm bored. When are we going to the beach?"

"Okay, just let me see if I can get some answers from someone around here. I'm worried about your sister right now and I'd hate to be gone if there's an emergency."

"Go ahead and go. We'll call if you anything happens. It looks like they're still going to be awhile."

"I swear I haven't felt like this since since Daniel was a baby going through open heart surgery, which, by the way, didn't take this long. A parent should never have to got through this even once, let alone twice."

"I think they're done."

"Is she okay? Was it a success."

"I'll admit, it was touch and go for awhile, but you can see her now. I think she's responsive and will be just fine."

I leave my spot in the waiting room and walk down the long hallway to the room where I left my daughter some 4.5 hours ago. I hesitate slightly before entering, looking for something to grab onto should it be necessary. My feet feel like lead weights and have gone numb from all the pacing. When I finally do go in I have to blink a few times to make sure what I'm seeing is actually real.

Thank God, I think she'll survive.

Hee Haw

Friday, July 11, 2008

Day one Charlie Horse's trip log

Greetings Extraterrestrials:

Hung out in Whittier after nearly 24 hours of no sleep other than what pathetic amount I got on the plane. Typical flight from hell. Stuck on the runway for god knows how long (electrical difficulties) while somebody's toddler screamed bloody murder at the top of her lungs. Aging stewardesses trying to overcharge for a few pieces of fruit, a bag of chips, and a granola bar. Watched part of a Jack Black movie before I drifted off into a restless sleep. Woke up to some never ending show detailing how wonderful the Beckhams are. Finally arrived in L.A. only to find out it's nearly as humid here as it is back in Indiana.

After a nap, I saw my old school (Whittier College, which seems to have added quite a few new buildings but still looks like J.C. compared to IU). Saw my old house, old record store I used to hang out at, things change, yet they still remain the same.

I suppose the good news is my daughter decided against a naval pierciing when she found out she wouldn't be able to swim for 3 months. Of course I was very consoling.

I have to admit, it's good to be here in the place where I was born and raised. No matter how long I stay away, this place will always feel like home.

Hee Haw

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

So here's the plan (if you can call it that)

Greetings Extraterrestrials:

So the day after tomorrow me and the kids (or should that be the kids and I, I'm not sure what's correct anymore) hop on a plane bright and early and head to L.A.

Now some people plan a vacation as though they fear that if a single minute of it is wasted then their not getting their money's worth.

Here's my plan:

1. Go to the beach
2. Eat an In n Out Burger
3. Eat a Tommy's Burger
4. Go to the beach.
5. Knotts' Berry Farm
6. Write

Yes! That's correct. I do intend to write. I hope to take at least a few days hole up in my sisters house with the goal of adding significantly to my latest first draft.

Other than that, let the cards fall as they may.

Hee Haw

Monday, July 7, 2008

Is it really summer?

Hey ET's

The fourth of July has come and gone and the kids and I did this...

That's us marching with a Greepeace group to raise awareness to the threat to our planet of global warming. Of course it was pouring rain and we were soaked (well, if you look real hard I'm the dude in the middle of the picture with the black umbrella so I wasn't quite the drowned rat that Audrey was), but surprisingly there was still a pretty good turnout of hearty Hoosiers and I think most of them were supportive of our efforts.

Later that night it was all about the fireworks and there's nothing funner (yeah, that's Hoosier for "more fun") than oohing and ahhing with the townies over a cheap pyrotechnics show on a muggy summer eve. Seriously, no one hardly got shot at or nothin'.

Myspace or Facebook?

So here's a little update on my internet networking pursuits. Facebook - 16, Myspace - 2. I'm not writing Myspace off just yet, but obviously Facebook has jumped out to an early lead.

Hee Haw

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What's the difference?

Hey ET's

Did you ever ask yourself, when trying to decide on two very similar products, what's the difference? In a side by side comparison, what are the things that makes one product stand out from another. For example:

I'm a guy, who lives with a couple of females; my wife and my daughter. On occasion, I'm asked to go buy female products for them (you know what I'm talking about). Is it just me, or is this task way more difficult than it needs to be? I mean, how many different products do you need to perform the same task? My god, there's one's with wings, without wings, with little adhesive strips, thin ones, thick ones, long ones, short ones, big ones, round ones, crazy ones...wait, I've slipped into an Eric Burdon song from the 60s.

Today, in order to bolster my presence on the internet, I decided I need a Facebook page. Or do I need a Myspace page? What's the difference?

In an effort to make my point clearer, I'll consult with the internet and see if the wisdom of "Family Guy" can help out.

Stewie: What the hell is this?
Lois: Sweetie, that’s tuna salad.
Stewie: Oh, is that what it is? Really? Because I could have sworn it was mayonnaise and cat food.
Peter: What the hell is he talking about?
Englishman: Oh, it’s Cricket. Marvelous game, really. You see, the bowler hurls the ball toward the batter who tries to play away a fine leg. He endeavors to score by dashing between the creases, provided the wicket keeper hasn’t whipped his bails off, of course.
Peter: Anybody get that?
Cleveland: The only British idiom I know is that “fag” means “cigarette.”
Peter: Well, someone tell this “cigarette” to shut up.
Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there’s a message in my Alphabits. It says, “Oooooo.”
Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.

Okay, this clearly isn't helping. So I guess I'll just sign up for both.

Now if I could just figure out how best to utilize these marvels of modern technology.

Stay tuned...
Hee Haw

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Now this is what I'm talking about

The magnetic levitating train, or "maglev," can travel at up to 310 mph, and could compete with commercial airplanes, which cruise at about 550 mph.

This is exactly how I depict transportation in my forthcoming novel "Forbidden Seed(s). This picture even shows fall foliage in the background a la what you would find in my Vermont setting.'s nice to know I've got a direct line to the collective consciousness of the universe.

And pretty soon we're going to be seing these in the sky.

It's way past time to radically alter our views on transportation. Fossil fuel burning automobiles have outlived their usefulness and the only reason we keep driving them is because the guys that make them and make millions suckering us poor consumers into buying them are scared stiff that if we explore the alternatives we're going to kick them to the curb and give our hard earned money to someone else who's smarter.

Of course the more of these I see around Bloomington, the happier I get.

Hee Haw

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Just how I pictured...

Amidst all the other stuff going on in my life right now, I have to marvel at the things that happen to me that can only be explained as the collective consciousness of the universe at work in full force.

This morning I spent my hour or so of plodding away at my latest novel crafting a scene in which my main character, Matthew, in his present incarnation as a World War II soldier, is lost and alone in a forest somewhere in Germany. In my mind I pictured him dashing from tree to tree until he comes upon a large stream. When I wrote about it, I had no idea if this place really existed, but after doing a search of Google images it turns out it does.

Exactly as I pictured it.

Is that weird or what?

Hee Haw

Friday, June 20, 2008

This is interesting.


Just to illiterate on the notion that you never know what to expect, this is what I saw when I heard a noise and looked out my front door yesterday.

That's right. A freakin' hot air balloon landed in my yard.

Oh well, I guess I'd rather have a hot air balloon in my yard than a meteor or some other form of space junk.

Here's some more photos.

I just wonder how long it will take NASA to decided to use my lawn as a landing strip for the Space Shuttle.

Hee Haw

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Write this down

Extraterrestrials -

Sometimes I need to write things down, just to remind myself of my belief system. One of the primary tenets of this concoction is that everyone needs a belief system. Not that anyone else needs to buy into my belief system. You've got yours (you do have yours, don't you?) I've got mine, and as long as we're all satisfied with what we got, wholeheartedly and 100 percent, it's all good. Right?

So let's start with my belief system that life is organic. Everything you do should come naturally. In my writing, for example, I have to let things happen. I can't force anything I write to happen anymore than I can force someone to agree with me.

That's why I don't plan much, or outline, or any of that other crap. When I allow my writing to develop naturally it will always come out better than if I try and force it into being something it's not.

This morning is a good example of this. I know that in order to be successful as a writer I have to instill a certain amount of discipline on myself and stick to my schedule of writing for an hour each morning before I hit the day job. What I have to accept is that some mornings will be less productive than others. Once I'm aware of this happening, I need to realize that it's probably a good idea to step away and move on. I still have the rest of the day ahead of me to deal with and one little setback isn't going to fuck it up. That's just the reality of existence. Life is composed of unexpected occurrences. How you react to them is what makes you who you are.

But what happens when those setbacks aren't so little?

Now I'm not advocating we should live life in fear, in fact I'm going to say just the opposite. There's nothing to be afraid of. But you (and I mean 'you' in the broadest sense of the word) need to be aware that big things, major life-changing things, both good and bad, can happen at anytime. And when they do, it helps to be aware of how you react to them. And part of that awareness is that resistance is futile. (That's twice today I've made a Borg reference. Am I a geek or what?)

Of course that's just part of my belief system. You can do whatever the fuck you want.

I'm sure I've preached this to others before, and I'm sure I've been guilty of not fully living according to this belief. I'm human and react badly to the things that happen around me as much as the next person--maybe even more.

That's why I need to write it down, probably on a regular basis, so I don't forget. Maybe one day it will sink in.

Hee Haw

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Greetings Extra t'ers.

Depression has officially set in. No crowning achievements to crow about, no "but look on the bright side," the feeling I had this morning simply sucks. I have no motivation to do anything at the moment because what's the use?

Wait, you say. Aren't you the guy who says there's always hope. The guy who says live for the moment. The universe is self correcting and will right itself in its own course. There is no success without failure. Perseverance is key.

Of course I know all those things are true, but right now I just feel like saying...

Fuck that.

I don't want to be happy right now. I want to wallow in my misery. I want to embrace the dark side of my soul and shout out "nothing matters."

"But there's always next year," you say, and, "time heals all wounds."

I don't want to hear that right now. Just let me wallow for god's sake. Wallow! I don't ask that you wallow with me, just don't make a big deal out of it. Let me be, I tells ya.

I'll move on when I'm good and ready, which may not be for quite awhile.

Until then...
Hee Haw

Friday, June 13, 2008

Openining up an old wound...

Greetings Extraterrestrials:

Man, if I was a horror writer I'd have a real go at creating some nice imagery to go along with the title I've given today's rant fest. Festering wounds and the like are great fodder for wordsmiths such as myself--especially if you write in the horror genre. I'd go with something along the lines of "oozing pustules" and "maggots converging for a picnic on scabby surfaces until there's nothing left but the shiny red tissue normally covered by my pasty thin skin."


Crimson inflamed infections eating away at my flesh like an obese family at a Chinese buffet.

That's why I don't write horror.

But that's pretty much what last night's game reminded me of. The nightmare of Larry Bird stealing an inbound pass and hitting the game winning shot in the last seconds of game seven in 1984 came flashing back in a blind fury as I watched the devil spawned Celtics come from 24 points back last night to take game four, all but extinguishing our hopes of winning it all this season.

I think I still have scars on my knuckles from that 1984 series, and emotional scars that will haunt me forever, the result of a lifetime of watching the Celtics cheating their way past us to get to the top. (And by cheating I mean selling off their souls plus the souls of their children and their children's children. Note to Danny Ainge: Those contracts are not easily broken. Remember Len Bias and Reggie Lewis?)

As I mentioned to someone today, it's a good thing I don't own a gun because I probably would have shot something (or someone) and definitely regretted it this morning.

Yes, despite tossing and turning in what little nightmarish sleep I did get last night, I still dragged my fat belly and bony ass out of bed this morning and managed to conjure up 5 or 6 hundred words to add to my gestating baby.

Listen: I'm not giving up hope. On Monday I fully expect to be back on here writing about how possible it is to take two games from Boston in Boston.

Until then,

Hee Haw

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's botherin' me today?

Greeting Extraterrestrials...

You might think I'm nervous about tonight's game. Surprisingly I'm not. I hate to stick my neck out but I'm pretty confident about tonight's outcome. Look for big games from LO and Pau as well as more contributions from our role players.

But there are other venues for this kind of chatter.

Here's what's really bothering me...

Same stuff that's probably bothering anyone else possessing an ounce of moral indignity. Energy.

There are many types of energy out there, some good, some bad. The good kind I can live with. Spiritual energy, positive energy, the kind of energy that keeps an 8 year-old going at full speed 16 hours a day. Those are fine.

The other know what I'm talking about.

Check this out from

If you don't feel like reading all of this then here's my summary. The huge agri-foods corporations along with their buddies in Washington are now touting Agro-fuels as the answer to our current energy crisis. Seems to me that in spite of significant fallacies, we are being fed (no pun intended) a load of crap. ADM, Cargill, and Bunge are chomping at the bit to cash in on an industry they see as being the next big boon in energy - if they play their cards right. The part that incenses me the most is that they are marching under the banner of creating a cleaner environment and sustainable energy while relieving our dependence on foreign oil.

Don't worry, in the end they'll all burn in hell.

Myth #1: Agro-fuels are clean and green
Because photosynthesis from fuel crops removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and can reduce fossil fuel consumption, we are told fuel crops are green. But when the full "life cycle" of agro-fuels is considered -- from land clearing to automotive consumption -- the moderate emission savings are undone by far greater emissions from deforestation, burning, peat drainage, cultivation and soil carbon losses. Every ton of palm oil produced results in 33 tons of carbon dioxide emissions -- 10 times more than petroleum. Clearing tropical forests for sugarcane ethanol emits 50 percent more greenhouse gases than the production and use of the same amount of gasoline.

There are other environmental problems as well. Industrial agro-fuels require large applications of petroleum-based fertilizers, whose global use has more than doubled the biologically available nitrogen in the world, contributing heavily to the emission of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

To produce a liter of ethanol takes three to five liters of irrigation water and produces up to 13 liters of waste water. It takes the energy equivalent of 113 liters of natural gas to treat this waste, increasing the likelihood that it will simply be released into the environment. Intensive cultivation of fuel crops also leads to high rates of erosion.

Myth #2: Agro-fuels will not result in deforestation
Proponents of agro-fuels argue that fuel crops planted on ecologically degraded lands will improve, rather than destroy, the environment. Perhaps the government of Brazil had this in mind when it re-classified some 200 million hectares of dry tropical forests, grassland and marshes as "degraded" and apt for cultivation. In reality, these are the bio-diverse ecosystems of the Mata Atlantica, the Cerrado and the Pantanal, occupied by indigenous people, subsistence farmers and extensive cattle ranches.

The introduction of agro-fuel plantations will simply push these communities to the "agricultural frontier" of the Amazon where deforestation will intensify. Soybeans supply 40 percent of Brazil's biodiesel. NASA has positively correlated their market price with the destruction of the Amazon rainforest -- currently at nearly 325,000 hectares a year.

Myth #3: Agro-fuels will bring rural development
In the tropics, 100 hectares dedicated to family farming generates 35 jobs. Oil palm and sugarcane provide 10 jobs, eucalyptus two and soybeans just one half-job per 100 hectares, all poorly paid. Until this boom, agro-fuels primarily supplied local markets, and even in the United States, most ethanol plants were small and farmer-owned. Big Oil, Big Grain and Big Genetic Engineering are rapidly consolidating control over the entire agro-fuel value chain.

The market power of these corporations is staggering: Cargill and ADM control 65 percent of the global grain trade, Monsanto and Syngenta a quarter of the $60 billion gene-tech industry. This market power allows these companies to extract profits from the most lucrative and low-risk segments of the value chain -- hundreds of thousands of small farmers have already been displaced by soybean plantations in South America.

Myth #4: Agro-fuels will not cause hunger
Hunger, said Amartya Sen, results not from scarcity, but poverty. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, there is enough food in the world to supply everyone with a daily 3,500-calorie diet of grains, fresh fruit, nuts, vegetables, dairy and meat.

Nonetheless, because they are poor, 824 million people continue to go hungry. If current trends continue, some 1.2 billion people could be chronically hungry by 2025 -- 600 million more than previously predicted. World food aid will not likely come to the rescue because surpluses will go into our gas tanks. What is urgently needed is massive transfers of food-producing resources to the rural poor, not converting land to fuel production.

Myth #5: Better "second-generation" agrofuels are just around the corner
Proponents of agro-fuels argue that current agro-fuels made from food crops will soon be replaced with environmentally friendly crops like fast-growing trees and switchgrass. This myth, wryly referred to as the "bait and switchgrass" shell game, makes food-based fuels socially acceptable.

The agro-fuel transition transforms land use on a massive scale, pitting food production against fuel production for land, water and resources. The issue of which crops are converted to fuel is irrelevant. Wild plants cultivated as fuel crops won't have a smaller "environmental footprint." They will rapidly migrate from hedgerows and woodlots onto arable lands to be intensively cultivated like any other industrial crop, with all the associated environmental externalities.

Agro-fuel: a new industrial revolution?

The International Energy Agency estimates that over the next 23 years, the world could produce as much as 147 million tons of agro-fuel. This will be accompanied by a lot of carbon, nitrous oxide, erosion and more than two billion tons of waste water. Remarkably, this fuel will barely offset the yearly increase in global oil demand, now standing at 136 million tons a year -- not offsetting any of the existing demand.

The agro-fuel transition is based on a 200-year relation between agriculture and industry that began with the Industrial Revolution. The invention of the steam engine promised an end to drudgery. As governments privatized common lands, dispossessed peasants supplied cheap farm and factory labor. Cheap oil and petroleum- based fertilizers opened up agriculture itself to industrial capital.

Mechanization intensified production, keeping food prices low and industry booming. The last 100 years have seen a threefold global shift to urban living with as many people now living in cities as in the countryside. The massive transfer of wealth from agriculture to industry, the industrialization of agriculture, and the rural-urban shift are all part of the "agrarian transition," transforming most of the world's fuel and food systems and establishing non-renewable petroleum as the foundation of today's multi-trilliondollar agri-foods industry.

The pillars of this agri-foods industry are the great grain corporations, including ADM, Cargill and Bunge. They are surrounded by an equally formidable consolidation of agro-chemical, seed and machinery companies on the one hand and food processors, distributors and supermarket chains on the other.

Like the original agrarian transition, the present agro-fuels transition will "enclose the commons" by industrializing the remaining forests and prairies of the world. It will drive the planet's remaining smallholders, family farmers and indigenous peoples to the cities. This government-industry collusion has the potential to funnel rural resources to urban centers in the form of fuel, concentrating industrial wealth. But this time, there is no cheap fuel to drive industrial expansion and there will be no jobs for the masses of people displaced from the countryside. Millions of people may be pushed farther into poverty.[end]

Hee Haw

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How long can you hold your breath?

If you watched last nights game you, like me, probably have a pretty good idea of how to answer that question.

Memo to David Blaine:

Dude, your 17 minutes is jack compared to the collective amount Laker fans stopped breathing during the last quarter of game 3.

Of course, given the proliferation of nonsense on Lakersground today, I'm sure many of those fans suffered irreperable brain damage. Then again, there were those fans who already didn't have much to lose going into the finals.

I won't mention any names.

As sleep deprived as I am at the moment, that's as deep as I'm gonna get today.

Hee Haw

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The expansion of the Universe

Greetings Extraterrestrials:

Used in the loosest sense, I've grown accustomed to referring to the almighty authority that we all answer to, for lack of a better term, the Universe. I don't think I'm unique in this sense nor do I think it's very original--it just seems to make the most sense. The Universe is the most mysterious thing I try to wrap my brain around. I know I'll never understand it fully. It's scope is unimaginable and it's origins, while not scientifically a total mystery, are unexplainable in the broader context of 'why' over 'how'. Physicists can offer a fairly plausible, although incomplete version of 'how'. I'm not sure anyone can explain the 'why'.

Okay, enough of that crap. I just thought of it because I was watching something on the History Channel last night and it was pretty fascinating. What really made me scratch my head was the current theory of where the Universe is going and how it will end up.

Several trillion earth years from now, at some point will the Universe cease to exist? I find that hard to fathom, especially since my take on the Universe is that of not only physical, but spiritual energy. So where will all that spiritual energy go?

A new Universe maybe?

My brain's too tiny to know for sure, but my imagination would like to believe in a scenario that has endless possibilities in terms of what a new Universe would look like.

Too bad I don't write sf/fantasy.

Wait a second...maybe I do. Just not in the scope of anything that extreme. much to write about, so few skills.

If any of you extraterrestrials out there have any theories on this or know of any sources which might expound on this area of thought, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

Oh yeah...big game tonight.
Go Lakers.

Hee Haw

Monday, June 9, 2008 worry?

Greetings Extraterrestrials:


I need to rectify something in my shout out to PDTP last week. Just as I predicted I forgot to mention JMK (that's JerryMagicKobe for those of you about to cut a vein). Please forgive my feeble mind. I have no excuses for my actions, they are unforgivable.

Moving on...

So you're looking down on this tiny planet of ours and you've gotten the impression that things are pretty fucked up down here. Entire regions of the world trying to wipe each other out pretty much for no other reason than financial gain. Despite dire warnings, the blatant abuse of natural resources continues, again strictly for financial gain, with no regard for the future. Torture and social injustice on the masses by heartless rulers abound, and the fucking Celtics are up two games to none on the Lakers. My response is simply "It's nothing we can't handle. We're fine. Really. Seriously. No need to jump in and try and save us or, probably more likely, wipe the whole stain out and start all over again. Let's everyone calm the fuck down let things work themselves out."

So... what does CH do when confronted with these and other crises du jour? Well, If you're here looking for answers to these problems and any others that may be weighing heavily on your hearts, then I'll tell you right now, this isn't where you'll find them. When Charlie Horse finds himself confronted with matters of a serious nature, he slips on his headphones and immerses himself into his little word of fictional tales and absurdities. The time for inaction is now. When it comes to the world's problems, for today anyway, I'll deal with them later.

Well, you say...

But gee willikers dude, isn't that the wrong approach? Shouldn't we be trying to do what we can to make our planet a better place to live? To try and avert the dire predictions on the future consequences of our careless actions? Shouldn't everyone be trying to do their part?

Of course.

And for my part, I think I'll try and stay out of the way for a little while. Yeah, I'm trying to drive my car less, trying to recycle, trying to eat local, trying to understand my fellow humans and all the multitudinous ways in which we live according to the customs we were brought up with. But in all fairness to me, which is really what this is all about, I've learned that sometimes no matter how hard you try, if you're bucking the master plan for the universe there's nothing you can do.

The trick as I see it is to figure out as much as possible how you as an individual can best fit into the plan. Figure out your part.

Here's my belief system in a nutshell. God, or whatever you want to call the all powerful entity that created this show, is like the composor of a great symphony. And as we all know, the composor has no control over how good or bad the performing musicians are. That part's enitrely up to them and to some extent the conductor.

Who's the conductor, you ask? Well, as is true in some instances, the composer conducts his own piece. So the the conductor could be this same higher authority of whom I'm speaking (notice the gender neutrality). But I believe the conductor could be something else entirely. Perhaps this is what I commonly refer to as our collective consciousness. The energy built up over eternity that guides us without our even being aware of it's existence. But no matter what, there will always be those screwoffs in the percussion section who just aren't paying attention and those few that no matter how hard they try, can't seem to play in tune to save a boxful of cute little kittens.

Okay, I'll stop now and leave you all with this one suggestion. Take it to the hole and guard the three-point line. Oh, and don't let something you can't control like bad officiating affect your game. Be strong, persevere, and stick to what you've been doing all season long that got you here in the first place.

Hee Haw

Friday, June 6, 2008

Can't win 'em all...

Hey Extraterrestrials:

You may think by the title of today's transmission that I'm going to ramble a bit about last night's game in which the despised Celtics took the first game of the championship series. Or maybe you didn't catch that at all and have no idea what I'm talking about.

Too bad for you.

I got an email just now from a friend of mine in Utah. It reads: I was thinking about you as I watched the game last night. My wife was so happy to see the "Devil" lose.

I replied with this: The Celtics destroyed the Lakers 148-114. The game was a profound embarrassment for the Lakers. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had only 12 points and 3 rebounds in his matchup with Robert Parish. Magic Johnson pulled down only one rebound. Danny Ainge of the Celtics started hot, scoring 15 points in the first quarter. Scot Wedman made all 11 shots he took from the field. The lopsided final score caused the game to be dubbed the "Memorial Day Massacre." Afterwards, Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar apologized to his teammates for his terrible performance.

For those of you who don't remember, that's how the 1985 Lakers/Celtics finals began. I don't think I need to expound on how the series ended. However, I will say that when all was said and done that year I was extremely relieved.

Now I'm no great predictor of the future. In fact, I suck at it. I've given up on trying to figure out what's going to happen from one moment to the next let alone who's going to win a series or when the next great planetary disaster is going to strike. I'm an idiot when it comes to planning. What I am very good at is reacting to events as they unfold. I don't crumble in the face of defeat. More like I find an escape hatch and jettison my ass out of harms way.

I don't think I'll get much into the discussions on Lakersground today revolving around last night's game. I'll stick with my pals on PDTP (don't worry if you're confused, there's really no understanding of what I'm talking about).

But this does beg a shout out to the contributors of that fine nonsense of whom I have found an unexpected and unexplainable bond. To re4ee, 24, MB, Alpha, Aloha, Unggoy, Exick, Kobe Queen, and they guy who started it all The Big Ruski, (oh, I just know I'm going to forget someone) thank the higher power for you laddies and lasses. You all make my days as a life form on this planet just a little more enjoyable.

Hee Haw

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day Two - Plenty of Social Dilemmas on the Horizon

Hey Extraterrestrials:

It's been brought to my attention that there are two major events on the horizon. These being: a)Hilary Clinton has conceded to the inevitable and b)Lakers/Celtics epic battle for NBA supremacy resumes today after a 21 year hiatus. Which one plays on my mind more? Hmmm...let's see...I'll put it this way, I won't be losing sleep over the elections.

Other matters of planetary importance:
Since I'm contributing thoughts to the universe, it seems these thoughts ought to fall more into the positive and uplifting category rather than the negative and destructive. Of course this may change daily. Tomorrow I may feel like blowing everything the fuck up.

I'll start with the challenge:
Like a spreading fungous, it seems no matter where you go there are signs of an attempt by the corporate superpowers to takeover and homogenize our way of life. Blatantly obvious are the areas of restaurants (e.g. Applebees, TGIF, Cracker Barrel), clothing stores (Kohls, TJ Maxx), general merchandise (Wal Mart, Target), and sporting goods (Dicks). Less obvious are the attempts to control our food source by placing patents on seed technology, effectively putting the squeeze on our nation's farmers to fall in line with this corporate mentality. The single purpose behind these corporate pirates are to suck us hardworking folk into handing over our hard earned cash for inferior quality goods, with fewer choices for stuff that we never really needed in the first place.

The good news is...
There seems to be a growing awareness of the need to counter this invasion with a determination to keep local business strong; even if it means paying a bit more for the things necessary to our survival. There's a dedicated resistance to the homogenization of our country as seen in local food co-ops, restaurants and coffee houses (brewing up excellent blends of fair trade beans I might add), among other things. The push toward locally grown organic produce and other grocery items is becoming more widespread as well (check out the 100 mile diet gaining in popularity around the continent at I'm fortunate enough to live in a place with a positive, pro-active attitude toward local business and healthy living. Downtown Bloomington still maintains its community atmosphere with many local merchants digging in and holding on (curse you Panda Express and Dunkin' Doughnuts) despite being sandwiched between corporate strip malls on both the east and west sides of town. I'm sure there are many other cities and towns around the country that are doing just the same, willing to fight to keep their identity.

Keep this in mind next time you decide to drive through a Starbucks for your morning caffeine jolt or think that an 89 cent beefy burrito is a suitable option for lunch. Isn't there another place owned by locals you could patronize that would serve you up something even better?

Hee Haw


Wednesday, June 4, 2008 this thing on?

Tap, tap, tap...

Excuse me, I can't tell if this is on. Can you hear me?


Okay, the guy in the front row just opened his eyes for a second and flipped me off so I guess I got your attention.

So what's happening on our planet today? Extraterrestrials, if you're reading this I'm here to say, how in the hell did you learn to read English so well? Well, if you are indeed out there and are able to translate using your universal language translation device (only $19.95 during this special television offer), give me a sign, preferably one that won't cause my heart to explode or blood to come gushing out of my eyeballs (I know how you extraterrestrials are).

On to the business at hand.

Just received a copy of "New Issues and Paradigms in Research on Social Dilemmas". I can tell already that this baby's going to keep me up well past my bedtime. I mean the message contained on these pages make the drama of a Lakers/Celtics championship series seem like a playground game of foursquare. And at $89.95 per, it's certainly a bargain on today's market compared to other comparable works. I'll chime in more on this later as I delve deeper into the mystery of paradigms and dilemmas and such. I know you'll all be on the edge of your seats waiting for further revelations on these and many other fascinating subjects as I pathetically attempt to create a blog that is both unique and intelligent. Many have tried, most have failed, and I'm sure everyone who jumps into this thinks they're going to be the next big thing in this freaky world of connectivity.

Myself, I have no delusions. I already know mine's going to suck like a Hoover. And I already know the Lakers are going to kick the Celtics butts. If they had big time betting pools on the planet Uranus I would definitely be plunking down my spare change on the purple and gold.

Hee Haw