"" Writer's Wanderings: October 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Courage--Michael J. Fox

Caught in a maelstrom of criticism and controversy, Michael J. Fox has exhibited the courage it takes to face some of life's most difficult challenges--first, his disease; second, public opinion. Issues aside, he has had to deal with a disease that will probably continue to gnaw at his quality of life and in the end, his very life. It's not a pretty disease. Putting yourself in the public eye when you can't control your body's physical movement takes an extraordinary amount of courage. No one wants to be that kind of poster child and yet, because of the public awareness he has brought, there will be greater understanding of the ravages of Parkinson's.

Public opinion always has two sides. One is supportive and the other tears down and can become ugly. No matter what side of the issue you stand on, you have to admire his determination to pursue his belief that this type of stem cell research is the answer. I wonder how many of us would have the fortitude to put ourselves in such a position given the same circumstances?

Agree or disagree, he deserves a round of applause for his courage.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Segway to the future?

Last week we were privileged to go on another cruise. (DH can't pass up a good bargain.) In Cozumel, we had the opportunity to try out the newer mode of transportation on foot: the segway. It was a real hoot!

We learned how to start it up and step on without wiggling back and forth. Then our instructor had us practice on an obstacle course of cones to get the hang of turning. Your natural inclination is to turn the handle bars but the turning mechanism is actually in the left handle bar. You rotate the handle left or right--slowly.

After about a half hour of practice we were ready to head out on an excursion. He took us down to a blue hole and then on to a beach where we had the option to snorkel. The sensation of moving along by simply leaning forward a bit and stopping by leaning back was exciting. After a while, we were actually able to stand in one place by balancing our weight--sort of like on a bike.

Unfortunately I would have to pass on a segway as my mode of transportation. It didn't exercise your legs much and I don't do well standing still for long periods of time. My toes started to fall asleep. So much for segwaying my way into the future.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Difference a Word Makes

We toured the Kennedy Space Center today. It made me feel old. . .very old. The tour guide told the kids and their parents about how people back in those days watched on TV as Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. Yup. That was me. We watched with our neighbors from the upstairs apartment.

Apparently there was a lot of consideration given to what he would say when he placed that first foot in the moon dust. NASA officials had actually written the words, “That’s one small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong however, decided that he didn’t want to focus any attention on his accomplishment alone. It wasn’t just a man who was landing on the moon, it was representative of thousands of men and women working years to get to that point. When he stepped off the ladder, he omitted the little “a” before man and made it “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” In doing so, he included all those who had worked on the space project as well as those of us with him in spirit as we watched on TV.

What a difference that one little word made.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Word of the Day--oeuvre

Are you like me? Do you read along in books or articles and come across a word that makes you stumble? Depending on the level I'm reading, I often have to sit with a dictionary at my side.

Well, this morning, I was enjoying a second cup of coffee and perusing (I looked that up--impressed?) my new copy of Writers Digest. There was a great story about a new book, fiction, that gives an account of the mysterious death of Edgar Allan Poe. It uses the author's extensive research to propose a theory of why he died. I was intently reading, or perusing, when I suddenly fell flat on my face as my eyes hit the word, oeuvre.

At first I thought it had something to do with hors d'oeuvres. After all, it has the word oeuvres in it. But no, they weren't talking about food. I tried to fit it into the sentence to figure it out and failed. Webster was all the way in the den and even though I called out to him, he didn't answer.

I shrugged it off, finished the article and went on to read another. Bam! there it was again-twice in the same magazine! Well, that was too much. I hauled Webster out of the den and flipped him open. Sure enough, there was such a word without the appetizing reference to food. According to Webster, oeuvre means a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer.

Hmmm. Makes sense. I was reading about writers. But it's close relationship to hors d'oeuvres has me craving chips and salsa. Go figure. Guess I'll peruse the pantry next.

Monday, October 09, 2006


It's election time. Are you tired of the ads yet? I am.

They are beginning to get down and dirty now. The other guy is never any good--doesn't matter how many other elections he won or what he may have accomplished on the way to the election, he's just no good. It amazes me the amount of money that is spent to tell me how bad the opposition is. Did it ever occur to the campaigners and their managers that I might want to know what makes them so good that I should vote for them?

We have one ad in our area that says some people just aren't right for the job and shows an obese man sitting in a chair, eating a donut and leading an aerobics class. Another says that the opponent had the audacity to defend child sex offenders. Huh? I thought everyone had right to an attorney. Isn't that what the public defenders' office is for?

Wouldn't it be interesting if for some reason--a law say--candidates were required to state only what their plan is should they be elected? They would not be allowed to say anything derogatory about their opponent only what they themselves have done to prepare for the job. The voters would actually have to make a decision based on whose plan of action, whose experience might be best suited for the job.

Wow. Now that's really dreaming.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Holy Hypocrites--Not These People

This morning I was reading about how the Pharisees were up in arms over Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath--a no-no. It broke the laws that said no one was to do any work on the Sabbath. As I read on I saw in his response the true hypocrisy in their claims. Whenever it came time to circumcise their sons, they did it right to the day--even if it was on the Sabbath.

Examples of hypocrisy are what often kept my parents from church. Once such incident was when a neighbor's son was scratched by another neighbor's dog. The dog was a companion to a thirteen year old boy, severely crippled by cerebral palsy. The neighbors who were faithful church-goers, threatened to sue. In addition to wanting the dog taken care of, they were trying to get money from a family that had little to spare.

When it was discovered that my grandfather had witness the incident and saw the boy teasing the dog with his jacket, the issue faded. But it had spawned a nasty phrase in our house, "Go to church on Sunday and punch your neighbor in the nose on Monday." Needless to say, it did not draw my family to church.

There was an incident this week, one in a terrible series. A gunman shot and killed five young Amish girls in Pennsylvania. I have been amazed and encouraged by these loving people who have lost so much--one family lost two daughters. In their grief and pain they have told a world of onlookers that God is good. They have reached out to the gunman's family and recognized their pain as well. They are living out their faith from Sunday to Sunday.

It makes me want to examine what I'm doing on Monday. Holy hypocrite? I hope not.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Word Surgery

I have been terrible about posting to my blogs lately. Part of the reason is that I am embroiled in word surgery. I need to cut close to 30,000 words from a novel I wrote and is being considered by a few houses for publication. One house said it was too many words (they prefer 60,000) and if I cut it down, they would reconsider. I'm always up for a challenge, I thought, and I've never had a problem cutting back on word content.

Well, it's been quite a journey in the "operating room" so far. I am having fun. I actually laughed out loud the other day at something I forgot I wrote. The trouble with word surgery is trying to decide what to cut out and what to leave in. I certainly don't want to kill the patient by cutting out a vital part and I don't want want to leave something in that is best cut out like a cancer. I have to truly ask a lot of questions before the "scalpel" selects and deletes. Maybe I should consider liposuction instead--just remove the fat.
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