What’s up so far in 2014? Home buying, it seems

[N.B.: Mostly written 6 January with minor updates over next 2-3 days. Current follow-up follows.]

So what’s up in 2014 so far? 2014 got off to a great start. For one day.

Sara and I do a kind of annual review, along with a semi-annual review and weekly reviews using assorted tools such as calendars, OmniFocus and some text documents. Neither of us do resolutions but we do want to have goals for the year, and to check up on them now and again so that we might have a chance to actually accomplish most of them. We entered 2014 with this year’s annual review pretty much done. Mine was primarily complete except for final formatting as a document in Scrivener.

Then on the 2nd of January the mail was delivered. Our place was recently bought by some out-of-towners and we got notice that our rent was going up 15%! We are already stretched pretty thin and that is just ridiculous. We immediately jumped into “can we buy a house” mode. We have been considering that anyway but we figured it was at least 6 months to more like 2-3 years in the future for us. Nope. [We need to find out right now whether we can get a loan for enough to buy a house here in Bend or we need to find a cheaper place to rent until we can qualify for said loan. If we can get a loan then we need to be seriously looking for a house that meets all of [ok, much of, hopefully]  our criteria.

Either way, (update to follow)] almost everything I had planned for this year has now been indefinitely placed on hold. My 2014 annual review/plan has been scrapped by the second day of the year. Yay, me!

Thankfully a lot of stuff is still in boxes from when we arrived here in August 2012. That will make moving somewhat easier. But we also have not weeded out near enough stuff that we were supposed to have gotten rid of by now. And we have probably acquired more stuff than we have gotten rid of. My surgery in May put in a big damper on my weeding which I had hoped to do this past summer. Sara’s full-time job has prevented her from making any progress on her stuff.

I have jumped into weeding pretty heavy the last couple of days and hope to continue. We’re donating a bunch of stuff to the Humane Society Thrift Store, some of the better books to the public library, and recycling a crapload of stuff. There is, sadly, plenty more to go through though. As we free up a bit of room by getting rid of stuff I have a bit more room to get at and sort through even more. So I guess one can say it’s looking up.

It is, though, extremely demoralizing to have just committed to and documented one’s goals for the year and to then have to toss it all away on January 2nd.

So what were/are some of my plans for 2014?

  • Read 75 books http://marklindner.info/blog/2014/01/01/reading-goals-2014/
  • Wrangle our ebooks into some kind of order, usability, etc.
  • Do some more beer tastings
  • Help with Central Oregon Beer Week
  • Do another book talk this year for Central Oregon Beer Week
  • Meet some of the beer folks in Bend who I haven’t been able to yet
  • Do some beer trading
  • Finish my “article” on Prohibition in Bend
  • Perhaps work on my Cicerone certification
  • Blog some book reviews that I am way behind on
  • Learn to make better use of Evernote, OmniFocus, Scrivener, etc.
  • Meal planning
  • Get my new tattoo started
  • Track down a citation for that damned Paracelsus quote or show that it is not attributable to him
  • Exercise more and get back into some semblance of shape
  • Visit some places in Oregon: Broken Top, lava tubes, Crater Lake, etc.

23 January update:

We found a house, put in an offer, got their counter and accepted. We have the inspection set for Saturday a.m. and are meeting with the mortgage broker tomorrow morning to do more paperwork and get VA appraisal scheduled. If all goes well with those we’ll be moving late winter / early spring.

I have been in full-on moving prep mode for about a week now. I am so damned sore. But. I am much closer to being ready. I have a good idea of what is packed, more stuff was topped off and packed and many binders and articles were packed, it is mostly segregated from other stuff, and the inventory is updated. More books were weeded.

We should have a couple weeks to move in. It kind of comes down to when we close and the 30-day notice we give our landlord. Current estimated closing is March 17.

My only big concern is weather. Well, and will my aging body hold out: preferably for it to treat all the labor as weightlifting and other “good” exercise. Seriously though, moving in the rain or a snowstorm or having ice/snow on the ground are the worst for moving. So far our winter has included almost none of any of that, which is not good. We need snow, at least outside of town.

It is all moving so fast. Which, of course, has deepened even more the feeling of upended plans. Not all is a loss, though. I am reading some and not quite as slowly as I suspected. I am helping with Central Oregon Beer Week as a member of their team this year. If you need me for any Central Oregon Beer Week business feel free to email me at mark@centraloregonbeerweek.com. I am trying to figure out what I want to do as Bend Beer Librarian for COBW; not up for another book talk for this year. Considering things and talking with people but need to decide soon to save 15% as a returning sponsor.

I met a few more Bend beer people, including one I wanted to meet in person, but, intriguingly, we met them in Portland. We attended the 1st Big Woody put on in Portland and a boatload of Bendites were there as attendees, volunteers, brewery folks representing, and event organizers/staff. That was nice and I finally met Matthew Ward (Bend Brew Daddy) and his wife Lisa. Definitely hope to hang out more with them. We also got to spend some time with non-Bendite but extremely nice guy Christopher (PortlandBeer.com) at Hair of the Dog. So possibly future trading and/or nice bottle swaps as it sounds like his are the kind of quality we are looking for. Maybe we can get Christopher to Bend, although we explored so little of Portland last weekend.

Blogging and other forms of writing have been practically non-existent, book reading is way down, research for either major topic of current interest is on hold, and most other projects listed above or not are pretty much forgotten about.

I hope this place works out and we can get settled in quickly. I’d like to get back to some of my projects recently put on hold and others, many of which have been a long time coming.

It is an adventure, and so far easier than expected, but its timing seems a little sudden.

 

 

Reading goals for 2014

For reading goals in 2014, I have decided to set myself up a short list/challenge. I will probably set my goodreads 2014 challenge number at 75 books since this year’s was so low. My TBR shelves are overflowing to no end but I pulled together 26 books of which I hope to read 12.

That’s my goal for 2014: read 12 of these 26 books plus whatever else comes my way for a total of at least 75.

Beer and Brewing

  • Beer: The Story Of The Pint: The History Of Britain’s Most Popular Drink – Martyn Cornell
  • Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (Brewing Elements) – John J. Palmer and Kaminski
  • Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Home – Sam Calagione
  • The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food – Garrett Oliver

Language and Related

  • Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks – Keith Houston
  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English – John H. McWhorter
  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention – Guy Deutscher
  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything – David Bellos

Literature and Literary Theory

  • Why Read the Classics? – Italo Calvino
  • The Literary Mind – Mark Turner
  • Tolkien on Fairy-Stories – J.R.R. Tokien
  • Imagination in Place: Essays – Wendell Berry
  • Dog Songs: Poems – Mary Oliver
  • Maidenhair – Maikhail Shishkin

Western World History

  • The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community – William H. McNeill
  • The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment – Roy Porter

Assorted/Too Lazy to Classify

  • Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction – Susan Cheever
  • You Must Change Your Life: Poetry, Philosophy, and the Birth of Sense – John T. Lysacker
  • Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight – James Atlee
  • Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants – Wolfgang Schivelbusch
  • Information: A Very Short Introduction – Luciano Floridi
  • Shaming the Devil: Essays in Truthtelling – Alan Jacobs

Philosophy

  • Real American Ethics: Taking Responsibility for our Country – Albert Borgmann
  • Tragic Sense of Life – Miguel de Unamuno
  • The Power of Ideas – Isaiah Berlin
  • How Philosophers Saved Myths: Allegorical Interpretation and Classical Mythology – Luc Brisson

That’s it. Try to read 12 of these books, several of which have been on other lists before. It would be nice to read (at least) one from each grouping but whatever. As always, more books than I can possibly read will come my way and my TBR shelves will continue to grow.

 

Books Read in 2013

My book reading goals were modest for 2013. According to last year’s books read post I had committed to 50 books read on the annual goodreads challenge “because that ought be easily doable.” Well, yes, that was. It seems I even met part of another goal: I read a bit less than half as much poetry, but I believe I failed to do any reading about poetry.

Seems I started 147 books and finished 141. Three came into 2013 as being read but they were all really on hold and never got touched in 2013. I am still reading 3, have 1 on pause and have given up on 5.

Of those books started, two were read and re-read this year but only counted once, and one was a re-read of something from a previous year.

For assorted reasons, none of my lists are perfect but I hope to simplify things in the future. I keep a spreadsheet of all books read (“definitive” document), a goodreads account which gives me a list by default, a shelf at Open Library, and a folder in Zotero. Here are this year’s goodreads and Open Library shelves. I have 138 things in goodreads, 142 in Open Library, 144 in Zotero, and 155 in the spreadsheet.

Neither is perfect but they give a great feel for what I read. The only things missing from both are a short graphic novel in pdf and a pdf about WordPress and responsive design.

Category-wise:

  • Fiction: 82
  • Nonfiction: 41
  • Poetry: 15
  • Graphic novels: 67 (most are also F, but several are NF)
  • On-pause: 1 NF
  • Gave-up: 5 (2 NF, 2 GN/F, 1 F)
  • Currently reading: 3 (1 ea P, NF/translation, NF)
  • Together: 11 (6 NF, 3 F, 1 F still reading, 1 NF on pause)
  • Same author: Charles Bamforth 3 + 1 re-read + 1 edit + 1 co-edit; Michael Lewis 1 + 1 co-edit; Gail Carriger 2 F; Michael Jackson 2; Carolyn Edwards 1 NF + 1 F; K.W. Jeter 2 F (Excludes graphic novels/comics)
  • Translations: 5 (4 F, 1 F/GN) (+1 NF/Ebook on pause, 1 NF currently reading)
  • Ebooks: 7 finished (Kindle 3, PDF 3; Overdrive 1; Together 2 + 1 OH; 1 on pause; 1 still reading)

Things learned:

In goodreads if a book has a begin and end date then it is considered read if on any home-made exclusive shelf, such as gave-up. (Not tested if only has ending date.) But even if you have a start date, if you don’t have or clear the end date then it doesn’t show up on the provided yearly reads shelve (see Stats page).

Open Library is doing a lot less maintenance or importing of records, so I keep having to add more and more of what I read. Much of it. It has grown tiresome. Sad to hear coming from a cataloger, if I say so myself, but it’s the solid truth. I am probably not worrying about Open Library next year.

There’s no grand lessons from any of this or from my reading. I have gotten a lot out of many of the items I read (and perhaps re-read) this year. I guess this post is just a continuance of something I have done for a while now.

Previous Books Read posts

What are my reading plans for 2014?

I have decided to try a little “challenge” of my own for 2014. Although, honestly, it is more like a nudge in a general direction than like an actual I care whether I achieve it or not. See next post for details.

[Updated several minutes after posting}

Beer and Brewing: Realized I ought comment on this as it was a large part of my leisure reading and personal and professional learning reading this year. I finished 24 books on beer and brewing across diverse angles and approaches. One was an Overdrive ebook from the public library, one was fiction (also from DPL), one was a re-read of a book from late last year, two were re-reads of books first read this year. One other I am still reading, and two others were given up on.

Gelman, Dark Times Filled With Light

Dark times filled with light: the selected work of Juan GelmanJuan Gelman; Open Letter 2013WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder
Saying that I enjoyed this book is true but also must be expanded upon. Juan Gelman, of Argentina, has been writing poetry for decades and, according to the introduction and back jacket is regularly “on the short list of Nobel Prize candidates” (xi).

His early poems were the ones I liked the most and they are small commentaries on life, love, the act of poetry, and the typical mundane aspects of life. His middle and later poems are more focused on the Argentine reign of terror and the “disappeared” and his decades of exile in Europe. These are powerful poems that address a heinous period in Argentina’s and its people’s history that needs to be known more widely. His poems of exile are especially powerful. I marked all four included poems from Under Foreign Rain (footnotes to a defeat) (1980) as ones that spoke to me in an utterly heartrending manner.

The poems come from 26 different books and, I assume, give a good idea of his writing across time. Some of the books only had one poem in here and sometimes I found myself wishing for more if what was included particularly resonated with me.

Thank you Open Letter and the University of Rochester for these wonderful poems in translation. If you have any interest in reading (and supporting) literature in translation—all kinds of lit from all over the world—then do yourself the favor of looking into Open Letter. I have a subscription to them and have enjoyed the couple I have managed to read so far, with the added bonus of having several other translated works sitting at my fingertips when I am ready to dive in.

One of the many poems that particularly spoke to me:

I Sit Here Like An Invalid (from The Name of the Game (1956-1958))

I sit here like an invalid in the desert of my desire for you.

I’ve grown used to sipping the night slowly, knowing
you’re in it somewhere filling it with dreams.

The night wind whips the stars flickering in my hands,
broken-hearted widows of your hair, still unreconciled.

The birds you planted in my heart are stirring and
sometimes with a knife’s cold blade
I’d offer them the freedom they demand to go back to you.

And yet I can’t. You’re so much a part of me, so much alive in me
that if I died, my death would kill you.

Books Read in 2012

2012

In 2012, it appears I started 97 books, finished 86 books, am currently still reading 6 books (some far more actively than others), have 3 “on pause,” and have given up on 2 books.

The two assorted places to find good first approximations of which books I read in 2012:

Open Library has 10 more books and I could go in and pull out those I failed to finish or still have ongoing but I am not going to. As for books I fully finished, goodreads is pretty darn accurate.

Assorted Breakdowns:

  •  Fiction: 13
  • Nonfiction: 12
  • Poetry: 32
  • Graphic Novels: 29
  • Continued from 2011: 1 poetry, 2 nonfiction
  • Rereads: 1 fiction and 1poetry 2x in same year (but only counted once) (Moonstone and Blueshifting)
  • Ebooks: 3 fiction, 4 poetry
  • Still reading: 3 fiction, 4 nonfiction, 1 ebook
  • On Pause: 1 each fiction, nonfiction, poetry
  • Gave Up: 2 nonfiction
  • Books by male authors: 52
  • Books by female authors: 27
  • Books by multiple authors: 7 [too lazy to differentiate this year]

Same author, multiple books:

  • Mike Carey & Peter Gross: 5 graphic novels
  • Gail Carriger: 4 fiction and 1 manga
  • Joe Wilkins: 2 poetry
  • Hubert & Kerascoët: 2 graphic novels
  • mpMann (with different people): 2 graphic novels

Previous Books Read posts

What are my reading plans for 2013?

I really have no idea. I plugged in 50 as the number of books I will read at the goodreads challenge for 2013 but only because that ought be easily doable. I want to back away from so much poetry. I coarsely gave a reason why on my review of Adrienne Rich’s Later Poems at goodreads and I may write about my reasons here. Or I may not. I do want to devote more time to reading about poetry–I have several books I should dip into already–and I should work more on writing a few more poems myself. But reading the poetry of others is doing little for me right now.

This is the first year in several that I am not entering the year already embarked on a specific reading challenge. My physical To Read shelves are literally overflowing and they do not include many others already in our possession that I want to read, nor those in goodreads marked as Want to Read, nor those I will come across, and so on. I really need to get my physical To Read shelf(s) under control so I hope to do a better job at that.

I also have a couple new personal learning projects in various states of formality that I am undertaking so some of my reading will be concentrated there. More on those later.

Otherwise, for now, I have no specific plans for reading in 2013. Except to do it!

Hysteria (movie)

[This, too, is a late DigiWriMo post.]

Thankfully, later after watching The Tree of Life we watched Hysteria, which we have also been wanting to see after seeing the previews a couple years ago. It by no stretch came to conservative Sioux City so we missed it in the theater. We couldn’t even find it in Omaha, although we could be wrong on that count but we had looked repeatedly while it was in theaters. Ninety miles one way is a long way to go for a film but we would have.

After we watched it I tweeted,

Cleansed my movie palate with Hysteria, based on this most excellent book by Rachel Maines http://marklindner.info/blog/2011/02/02/maines-the-technology-of-orgasm/ [tweet]

The next morning, Karen Coyle tweeted to me:

@mrlindner One of my favorite books. See: bit.ly/UYGA8X [tweet]

Check out her review at that link. It is much better than mine.

We saw the preview for the movie in the cinema shortly after I read Maines’ excellent book and I knew that it was (somewhat) based on Maines’ book immediately. It looked hilarious and as The Technology of Orgasm is one of my favorite books of all time—which I had discussed a fair bit with Sara as I read it—we really wanted to see it. It did not come to Sioux City or environs and time went by. We moved and even more time went by. Sara got it from the public library finally and we watched it last night. The movie was as good as we hoped and we are in the process of watching the documentary (actually excerpts from Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm) that comes as an extra feature on the DVD. It is also pretty good and features a lot of Rachel Maines, along with a couple of others, so I am happy to be able to hear her talk about her research also.

The Technology of Orgasm The Technology of Orgasm: “Hysteria,” the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual SatisfactionRachel P. Maines; The Johns Hopkins University Press 1998WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder  
Katherine Young (Ph.D. and author of Presence in the Flesh: The Body in Medicine) puts forth the idea that the Copernican Revolution was revolutionary in another way than is typically thought. She had been outlining some long time ideas on human sexuality in that males were thought to be of the elements of fire and air, thus hot and light, and that women were of earth and water, and thus heavy, cold and wet. When the Copernican Revolution replaced the Earth (female) as the center of the solar system/universe with the sun (male) then female sexuality as a topic disappeared from discourse.

It is an extremely interesting idea but I would really like to see some good supporting evidence. If anyone knows of any books or articles that address this idea I would be most grateful. My initial skepticism leans toward the shift having started well before and that the displacement of the Earth from the center was perhaps the final straw. And even if the idea as presented is true, then I imagine it is hingeing on a highly condensed version of reality, in that the Copernican Revolution involved an awful lot of historical, political, societal and religious changes that were highly intertwined and influencing each other in multiple ways. Symbolically this idea is highly interesting, but I imagine the reality of the shift away from a supposedly fairly prevalent knowledge of female sexuality and needs to one that pretty much discounted female sexuality would have to be far more complex than a shift in symbols.

I would love to have my skepticism discounted though so please do pass along any sources you may be aware of that address this issue. [I went back and re-watched that section and got her name and the name of the book she wrote, Presence in the Flesh: The Body in Medicine, which Sara has requested for me.] So, if you are aware of any other sources that address this intriguing topic please do pass them along.

Synopis:

Hysteria: Good romantic comedy based on an excellent and important book.

Follow-up: Tonight (3 December) we watched the full documentary, Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm, which we got through ILL. It was good but it was only 74 minutes vs. the 47 minutes of excerpts on the DVD of Hysteria as an extra. The additional material was interesting but probably not worth going out of one’s way to acquire. You can find more information about it here.

Young’s book has also arrived by this point in time and I look forward to having a go at it, but I am highly disappointed to say that neither Copernicus nor Copernican Revolution are anywhere to be found in the index. I want to know more about this symbological interpretation but am remaining highly skeptical as to its actual explanatory depth.

 

Mathieu, The Museum Vaults

Museum Vaults Museum Vaults: Excerpts from the Journal of an ExpertMarc-Antoine Mathieu; ComicsLit 2008WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

The Museum Vaults: Excerpts from the Journal of an Expert is an excellent, short graphic novel set in a very Kafkaesque Musée du Louvre. It is volume 3 in a series co-published with the Louvre, which if Goodreads is correct includes 6 titles.

They say that all of these names are nothing but anagrams of the museum’s real name, which has been forgotten. For my part, I’d say that its name hasn’t yet been found, for if it’s true that one only definitively names things that one can grasp, then the museum must be the most difficult to define.” (6)

Contents:

  • Day One: Conservation
  • Day Three: The Foundations of the Summit
  • Day Thirty-Three: Technical Galleries
  • Day Forty-Six: The Flooded Gallery
  • Day Two Hundred Twelve: The Repository for Molds
  • Day Six Hundred Fifty One: The Fragments Room
  • Day Nine Hundred and Sixty: The Restoration Workshop
  • Day One Thousand Four Hundred and Thirteen: The Department of Copies
  • Day Three Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty-Five: Painting Storage
  • Day Five Thousand Eight Hundred and Nine: The Archives
  • Day Nine Thousand Seven Hundred and Twenty-Seven: The Old Expert
  • Day Ten Thousand: The Frame Depot
  • Day Eleven Thousand Eight Hundred Ninety-Four: Bricabracology
  • Day Fourteen Thousand Five Hundred and Seven: The Icon
  • Day Sixteen Thousand Six Hundred and Ten: The Truly Grand Design
  • Day Eighteen Thousand One Hundred and Thirty-Four: The Final Chapter
  • List of works cited (includes Great Sphinx, “Hammurabi’s Head,” a Piet Mondrian, and others)
  • The Louvre: From a castle to a museum

The Musee du Revolu, as it is now called, hires an expert, Eudeus Volumer, and an assistant, to evaluate the collections. The story follows their progress through the labyrinthine museum, along the way skewering art and art history. Or, as the back blurb says, “Mathieu, an artist who marries Escher with Kafka, brings stinging irony to the pompousness of art history.” All of the various sections comment on different aspects of art, criticism, and art history. Just a few of the tools are anagrams, and other word play, and meta-commentary through the use of the graphic medium and the devices in some of the areas of the museum to comment on some aspect of art. The Mona Lisa is used to make an important point about copies and almost identical works and what the arrival of the daguerreotype means for art. Picture frames poke fun at Piet Mondrian and hint at the coming of the cartoon panel layout. There are others and, no doubt, I missed a few.

All in all, I found this an excellent, and extremely quick, read but one that bears contemplation. I will probably re-read it before returning it and then looking into whether our public library has the other volumes in the series.

Highly recommended.

Stern, In Beauty Bright

In Beauty Bright In Beauty BrightStern, Gerald; Norton 2012WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Another book I grabbed off of the new books shelves at Deschutes Public Library. I figured if it was written by an old guy with 17 other books of poetry under his belt and several awards, including a National Book Award, a National Jewish Book Award and a Wallace Stevens Award, he must be reasonably talented.

Talented? Perhaps. I had to force myself to read it from the very beginning. I cannot explain why I simply did not give up. Perhaps it was because I added it not just to Goodreads but to Open Library and Zotero (all my assorted documentation) at the start instead of at the end like usual, and when I did I sort of jokingly told myself it was so that I would finish it. Bah!

This may be great poetry and the author may be extremely talented. I could not stand it. It is basically stream of conscious run-on sentences that meander and loop back and abuse the reader’s sense of complex sentence structure. That is, he (except for one poem, I think) only ever uses a period at the end of a poem and the rest is full of commas and em dashes, mostly, along with semi-colons and the occasional colon. This I can do; I do it myself in my normal writing. But he also jumps to whole new clauses (really sentences!) in the middle of a clause with no punctuation or other indicator whatsoever. It truly is often stream of conscious writing.

It might be for you but I could not stand it. Still not sure why I forced myself to finish it; it would have been far simpler to remove it from my Open Library list and from Zotero.

I wrote the above at a bit past half way through as I wanted to get down what I was feeling and thinking about it.

The back half did improve some for me. There are a couple poems with more normal sentence structures and even a couple that that I liked. Here’s the one I liked the best:

Slow to Learn

Sarcasm came down on me like red dust and
contempt like the street lamps they lit after school
so we could find our way home in the dark.

I lived in fear that I would lose my colored bookmark and
shame at the laughter coming from the front seat of the Pontiac.
And I hate that I was the truest of all balloons
You beat for the sweet and delicate things inside.

But I’m fed up with bitterness

and I learned from Brecht that anger at injustice
makes your voice hoarse, and hatred of vileness
distorts your features, but I already knew it.

All in all, can’t say that I enjoyed it but perhaps you might. Perhaps I’ll look for one of his earliest works to see if his style has changed or whether it stayed pretty much the same.

If I Don’t Reach My Goal – Have I Failed?

Title unabashedly borrowed from this post by Jane Boyd, the timing of which couldn’t be better. I have been thinking about this more and more lately the last few days as it becomes more than apparent that despite getting off to a great start and keeping up for the first half of the month that I now will probably not make the goal of 50,000 (counted) words for DigiWriMo. As I write this (27 November AM) I need a tad under 10,500 words to reach it.

 So the question is this; by not reaching my original goal – have I failed?  Perhaps yes….perhaps no.  I’m not going to agonize over it.  Instead, I’m celebrating the various things that I have done and that I will continue to do in the days to come.

Now, I told myself before I even committed that not making it would not be an issue as long as I had actually begun writing again. So, thankfully, there’s that.

And I most certainly have been writing. You (whoever you are reader, and from whatever venue you are reading my words from) have probably not seen all of those words. And did I really not make 50,000? It depends on how one counts. So, how (and what) did I count?

I have been using Scrivener to draft in and/or store what I am counting. Scrivener provides a great tool—Project Targets—that not only counts your total but lets you set a timeline for your project and then gives you daily writing goals and tracks your progress toward those along with total progress. There are also ways to simply count your words without using the Targets but this suited my purpose better.

My Scrivener desk top

A screen shot of my Scrivener desktop with some folders collapsed and the Project Targets window up.

You can see the full-size picture on Flickr.

Counting

Blog posts – I draft in Scrivener, including pasting in all of the URLs I need for the post, and then paste the complete draft into the WordPress editor and get to work formatting. A fair few words end up not getting counted because they are “behind the scenes”—link text; alt descriptions, titles, etc. for photos. Once the post goes live, I highlight everything from the last tag or keyword up to the title of the post and copy that and then paste it over the draft in Scrivener. Any comments I make on the post—usually in response to someone else’s comment—gets copied and pasted into Scrivener at the bottom of the post; just mine, not others comments.

I have several potential posts drafted. Some may get posted—in November still, or later—some may not see the light of day. But I wrote them—whatever they amount to—so they count.

Tweets – At first I was only counting tweets that were directly DigiWriMo related and carried the #digiwrimo hashtag. I copied the text of each tweet and pasted it into a single Scrivener doc called “Tweets sent” that had a small rule placed between each date. I also pasted in the link to the tweet, which made up for the loss of link text, etc. in blog posts and other things not counted but nonetheless written digitally.

Eventually I noticed that I was having serious conversations—short as they may be—with others via Twitter that were intended to convey or ask for information about topics important to the participants, so I started counting those also. Not every tweet I sent was counted though since some were just goofiness. Still, it could be argued that all should count as they were written digitally. I say “Count what you want.”

When I post to my blog I routinely send out a tweet about it. I also post that same content into Google+ and Facebook for those folks in those venues who might be interested but for whatever reason don’t use RSS. Believe me, in Facebook anyway, I can get a lot of comments regarding my blog posts; more than on the posts themselves usually. ::sigh:: I only counted the tweets though, not the duplication into the other two venues. I could justify an argument for doing so but I don’t want to.

I also did not count retweets or favorites. Favorites I mostly use as a bookmark feature, although I do use it sometimes as a “Well done!” comment to the poster. Retweets are trickier since I am usually throwing them out there as a potential aid to conversation/commentary. Nonetheless, they take so little work that I chose not to count them.

Poems – I did not write many poems but a few were written (or co-written) and posted in assorted places. I took part in the DigiWriMo midnight launch party joint poem writing. Of the rest, two can be found on the blog—a poem written a couple years ago but I that had failed to put up after it was published and the rights reverted to me and one about my experience in the first #digped chat. One was my vignette for the group-written novel and included a doggerel poem written as a fan letter to Digi the Duck, one was a Twitter poem, and two were posted to Facebook since they were in response to a prompt given to me there by a friend (Jess). I have one in draft that is based on the Twitter Trending Topics during the midnight launch party but I never got very far with it.

Book-spine poems, inspired by Andrew McGregor, made up another five blog posts, including one that was a meta-poem about book-spine poetry. Compiling my list of book titles for possible use—only ones I own so far—provided me with 1885 words. I also have a few (very rough) drafts put together. I definitely hope to do more of them.

My journal – I am counting my journal, which I keep in Word, although with any luck no one will ever see it. I write it digitally and I do consult it on occasion, besides whatever benefit the writing of it provides. It used to serve as the genesis of  what became ~20 mix CDs that served as musical journals, many of which I gave away copies as gifts. So I paste my journal entries into Scrivener every couple days to be counted.

Book reviews – Many of these end up as blog posts but some only get put in Goodreads. I did not count both versions if they are in both, only the blog version. I also have a few draft reviews started. Sadly, these are the ones I came into the project with. One is long overdue. Oh well.

Fiction – I wrote a very short story (218 words) comprised entirely of one syllable words based on a prompt my friend (Jess) provided. I am also working from another prompt given to me by my daughter to write something based in the Girl Genius universe. At first I shrunk from that one a bit because as much as I love Girl Genius I don’t think I can do it justice. But then I had a brilliant insight as to how to write a mashup of Girl Genius and Gail Carriger’s The Parasol Protectorate series. No! I am not saying what it is. I want it to be a surprise since whether or not I pull it off successfully the idea itself is brilliant. Brilliant, I tell you. I kind of think it won’t be done for DigiWriMo either but that is OK. I want to make it as good as I can since I really enjoy both series.

Assorted – Not counting: As I said above, many tweets did not get counted, nor did much of what (little) I did in Facebook. I also did not count text messages of any sort although they clearly constitute digital writing and often mundane but nonetheless important communications to me. I also do a fair bit of data entry in a couple of spreadsheets for books read and books purchased and am starting a beer purchase history one. None of that has gotten counted. Also, my entries in the Untappd ap  take a fair bit of work with all the selections and ratings to be made even if in the end not that many words are actually typed. Not counted. Oh, no email counted.

Other things that I am counting: I started a list of issues for the new doctor will be going to visit soon since we moved; draft blog posts on liminality in my life, a comment policy, a review/commentary on two movies, draft book reviews, moving to Bend, Facebook promoted posts and businesses that primarily rely on Facebook for reaching customers, digital scholarly editions, and a few other odds and ends; and poem drafts.

Projected stuff – I had hoped to write a short Twitter novella but never found a story line and I had hoped to write more Twitter poems—haikus and similar short things.

Branching out – I was fairly successful in branching out by trying my hand at a group poem, a group novel, the Twitter vs. Zombies game, book-spine poetry, short fiction (of one-syllable), and an intended fiction mashup.

Prompts – I culled prompts, actively and passively, from many places. Some came from DigiWriMo directly, like the opening night party’s group poem, and later Twitter vs. Zombies and the group novel.

I started the month with a list of ideas, which my wonderful wife also contributed to. Some of the things she suggested were that while writing about moving to Bend that I try to answer the question,” What would I show to visiting family/friends?”, a list of areas for growth/learning over next couple of years, and some commentary on things not read, that is, things acquired with the full intention of getting to quickly but that fell by the wayside.

Other DigiWriMo participants contributed some through their own efforts or by directly putting out prompts. The idea for book-spine poetry came for Andrew McGregor. A poem and commentary came from the first #digped chat. I saw a few other prompts from DigiWriMo folks in various places but never got around to acting on them. A few days ago I goaded Jeff Brackett into posting the list of 51 that he had on Twitter and culled the following in a first pass:

  • Prompt 2: Select one Tweet & expand into blog post #DigiWriMo
  • Prompt 3: Choose one #DigiWriMo participant; comment on work and encourage them
  • Prompt 4: Why are you *not* writing? #DigiWriMo
  • Prompt 5: Turn ideas from one song from playlist (or radio) into Blog post #DigiWriMo
  • Maybe you can substitute some words/topics to generate new prompts #digiwrimo // thanks!

I also put out a request on Facebook on Black Friday and these are the responses I got:

Jess:

  • Pick a line/syllable restriction that appeals to you (3 lines/7ish syllables per line usually feels do-able to me even when I’m stuck) and poem it up. Tell me what you see, what you smell. Be a reporter in verse.
  • Write a short short story (I’m not picturing more than a double-spaced page, here) entirely in one-syllable words.
  • Write a creative non-fiction short story, but from the point of view of one of the other people involved.

Stacey: How about a blog post on Why the Humanities matters? ;-)

Sara (daughter): Something in the Girl Genius universe?

Laura:

  • When I was a child, I loved…
  • Whenever I smell ____, I am reminded of…
  • I first learned about sex from…

I took on a few of those, as mentioned above, and am working on some of the others. I want to heartily thank everyone who has directly inspired me, challenged me, and supported me this month!

I have a fair few things in the pipeline ready to post but I think I will spend the next few days primarily writing. The goal is to write 50,000 words digitally and make some of them available and not to post 50,000 words. As of these words that I am currently typing, early in the morning of 29 November, I have 44,268 words. I am so very close. This post itself may or may not get posted before midnight Friday as it contains an awful lot of links and formatting in WordPress still takes a fair bit of time and effort.

Final words:

I actually made 50,000 words at 3:20 pm 30 November during the last #digiwrimo twitter chat with this tweet:

These 20 words will reach my #digiwrimo goal of 50k words on Friday afternoon, 30 November 2012. Go me! Win!

It also include this picture:

Success!

I had a good time, met lots of interesting people, many of whom I look forward to interacting with again, learned some things, have a ton of things drafted up and ready to post to the blog, and also have some interesting projects to work on further.

I send a hearty “Thank you!” to all partcipants but especially to Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer), Sean Michael Morris (@slamteacher), and all the others at Marylhursts’ English & Digital Humanities program for hosting, driving, and inspiring Digital Writing Month.

 

Graphic novels read in 2012, so far

I realized that I have only posted one review on my blog of a graphic novel that I have read this year, Bloody Chester. I have, though, read around 17 of them this year so far. I generally don’t have much to say about graphic novels since I am relatively new to the art form. So, I thought I might collect them here in case anyone is interested.

Daytripper – 4 stars

Daytripper DaytripperGabriel Bá and Fabio Moon; Vertigo 2011WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Found browsing the shelf at Deschutes Public Library.

A man dies repeatedly as he lives his life. Brás de Oliva Domingos is a writer of obituaries and this is his. Writing, friendship, family, love, death, it is all written—and exquisitely drawn—here.

Cairo – 4 stars

Found browsing the shelf at Deschutes Public Library.

Ancient myths and legends, Arabs and Israeli soldiers, do-gooder and potential jihadist Americans, and an enchanted Jinn-containing hookah all come together in a tale of good vs. evil, sacrifice, and love set in Cairo and surrounds.

I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Bloody Chester – 4 stars

Recommended by: Unshelved

I’m not going to copy my review here as I wrote a bit more in my blog post.

Luba – 3 stars

Found browsing the shelf at Deschutes Public Library.

It was kind of odd but I did enjoy it. Sometimes there seemed to be too many characters and I’d get lost in who was who or what their relationships were. Also, the stories and vignettes are not in strict chronological order so it makes it difficult to fully grasp. Lots of sex.

Mnemovore – 4 stars

Found browsing the shelf at Deschutes Public Library.

This was interesting; very dark. I like how it is self-contained. There may be a follow-up some day but this is it for the nonce. It is complete while remaining open.

Addresses memory and its mutability.

American Vampire, Vol. 1 − 4 stars

American Vampire American VampireScott Snyder; Vertigo 2010WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Found browsing the shelf at Deschutes Public Library.

Found this at the library today when I discovered their graphic novel shelves. I enjoyed it and may try to track down further volumes.

Miss Don’t Touch Me, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 − 4/3 stars

Recommended by: Unshelved

Quick read of murder and intrigue in a Paris brothel in the 1930s. I hope the library has vol. 2 available soon.

Cow Boy – 4 stars

Recommended by: Unshelved

Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood – 4 stars

Recommended by: Unshelved

Hark! A Vagrant – 3 stars

Recommended by: SQT

I mostly enjoyed this. Some (most?) of the Canadian history was lost on me but I had at least heard of most of the folks. My favorite bits were the literary ones although some of the historical ones were pretty funny also.

I found it a fast read.

Are You My Mother? – 3 stars

Recommended by: SQT

This was OK. Sara got it from our new public library so I read it. It is fairly narcissistic, to say the least, but some of the info on D. W. Winnicott was quite interesting. Like any psychoanalyst’s views they are sometimes immensely enlightening while generally being more like, “Seriously WTF?!” Far more interesting for the we all have these kinds of issues angle (not explicitly in the book) than the specific issues or analysis Bechtel gives us.

Page by Paige – 4 stars

Recommended by: SQT

The Odyssey – 4 stars

The odyssey The odysseyGareth Hinds; Candlewick Press 2010WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Recommended by: Unshelved

I thought this was a very good adaptation. Of course, having read the Odyssey twice now makes it somewhat difficult to judge this as a standalone. I know what happens and may be filling in details that would leave one who hasn’t read it baffled or perplexed.

Sara read it a long time ago and hardly remembers it so perhaps she can provide some commentary on the above. I last read it last fall for a class in which she discussed it in a fair bit of detail.

Based on an author’s note in the book he seems to know his translators and editions so it seemed pretty accurate and complete.

Habibi – 5 stars

Recommended by: ?

Feynman – 4 stars

Recommended by: Margaret Heller

Wonderstruck – 5 stars

Wonderstruck WonderstruckBrian Selznick; Scholastic 2011WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Recommended by: Reading his previous book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which I also gave 5 stars.

Not really a graphic novel but close.

What can I say without giving the book away? Not much.

It is lovely and has many items we librarians will love, including an homage to the Dewey Decimal System. I wish I could say more but most anything I did say would give away far too much about this wonderful, slowly intertwining tale of two kids who lived 50 years apart.

I will say that it is very sad in several parts. If you are not crying you may not be human.

Thus, recommendations so far this year: 6 via Unshelved, 5 via browsing public library, 3+ via my wife (SQT), 1 via Margaret Heller, 1 via reading the author’s previous book (and SQT and Jen!!), and one unknown.

But I’m betting that several of the ones recommended by my wife were recommended to her by Unshelved. I know I read about them there before she got them from the library. If you do not follow Unshelved Book Club then you might want to consider it; they cover a lot more than graphic novels.

Horror stories, westerns, Egypt, ancient Greece, the Arab world, Brazil, Hispanic culture, memory, life and death, vampires, brothels, Canadiana, physics, psychiatry and psychology, big egos, and more. A fairly diverse group of reading materials, if I say so myself.

I am looking forward to reading several more before the year is out.