Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I have never done this before, but what the hey.


1. Finish both my YA manuscripts!

2. Finish at least one of the titles in my middle-grade trilogy.

3. Blog five times per week.

4. Cover the windows over the couch in plastic. Soon.

5. Teach Sam to talk, walk, and eat solid foods.

6. Eliminate caffeine entirely. That is, from my diet, not the world in general.

7. Get an agent!

8. Stop buying coffees everywhere. Even decafs.

9. Get that pesky old cholesterol down where it belongs.

And, if I can do all that stuff, one final resolution:

10. Get my druid to level 80. What?! Not, like, next week, but eventually. Jeez.

Happy New Year!

If only December had been NaNoWriMo!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas is behind us. With it are also several dozen cookies, at least one turkey, three chickens, several imitation crabs, a bucket of mayo, five rolls, a quarter pound of sliced cheese, three portions of Grandma's potatoes, a liter of soda, two beers, six cups of decaf, and 6 hours of quality slick-road drive time. Woo!

Truth is, I made out like a bandit this season, with great eats and gifts and I should shut up. Also, the few gifts I either picked out on my own or had any amount of influence on were very well received, which is nice too.

In news more relevant to this forum, my writing for the last ten days has been fairly productive; it remains to be seen whether that productivity will prove useful to me in some way, namely monetarily! Ha. But seriously, I'm more than thirty-eight thousand words into YA MS 2 right now, and though I have already spotted a great many holes in its plot and timeline, which will need fixing in the revision stage, I'm still feeling pretty much good about it. The protagonist's voice feels fresh to me, and making her a gamer was huge fun. Plus, there's this really excellent feminist message . . . I think.

And speaking of gaming, I haven't played WoW in 46 days. But who's counting?

It's been a long time since the last update, so I won't try to cover every little thing, but I do want to add that Beth and I went to Good Earth for lunch again, and Chad was our waiter. AGAIN! It's starting to feel a little weird, to be honest. But I had the croque monsieur, which made me feel all oogy in a good way.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

The drifts of snow on windy nights like this, especially when the snow is dry and light, remind me of the dunes at Jones Beach on Long Island. In places, like on our own front lawn, tall perennials still stand, their tops reaching well above the reach of the accumulated seven inches, to deeper in the drifts, of snow, and look just like the thick-stalked grasses that managed to survive between the blacktop of the parking lot and the crowded flat sands closer to the breaking waves. Along the wood-plank path, on either side, where the sun made the sand too hot to walk, the dunes took whatever shape the wind gave them.

Tonight, I'm on the couch (what else is new?) and snacking on pickle chips, something of which I had never heard the last time I was at Jones Beach.

As my recent tweets and FB status updates have alluded to, I have begun a new MS. I am foolish in this respect, and have been for years. But sometimes some free writing has to happen to get my juices flowing again, and the YA MS had been running on fumes for a couple of days. So I free wrote. And free wrote. And free wrote some more. And now I'm 60 pages in and don't want to stop. It feels great that writing is fun again!

So far, it's still coming pretty easily, but this has happened before. Hopefully this time's a charm, and I'll get this title finished enough that I'll be able to go back and do some edits to bring it up to submission quality.

The real question is, when will I get back to YA MS? Ugh.

So, in future, YA MS is still YA MS, and this new one is, um, YA MS . . . 2?

WTB house in warm climate PST

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yesterday was a good day, in at least a few ways, but not so good in one way in particular.

On the plus side, I wrote a chapter and a little in Lily's section of the YA MS. It turns out she's a load of fun to write, and way smarter than I thought she was. Besides the productivity itself, I was able to do some writing during the day, while Sam was napping, which is always great. And all it took was a split-second decision*: I think I won't play Assassin's Creed right now. I think I'll open Word. Totally worked! Then Beth was nice enough to let me run out to DBC after supper and get even more done.

Sam was a pleasure to be with, too, for most of the day, and even let me shoot a couple of videos.

The negative side? Cold. SO COLD. PAIN COLD. I am so done with winter already, which is a huge shame, because (A) I live in Minnesota, and (B) WINTER HASN'T EVEN OFFICIALLY STARTED YET.

Today, Sam and I will very likely go to the MOA. You say, "MOA?! So close to Christmas? Are you MAD?!" Yes. But that's irrelevant. I don't think it will be too crowded during a weekday. Plus? Opa! for lunch. But we have some things we need to return to MOA-only stores, so it has to be done. And I could use a nice long errand to get out of the house.

*Anyone else remember the Split-Second Decision assembly in high school or maybe junior high? In that presentation, the split-second decision was of course saying NO to drugs! Yay, Nancy Reagan!

New favorite show

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A rare Saturday update! All right, a rare update in general.

Just got done with lunch at Good Earth. Yes, a late lunch. Anyway, our waiter was Chad* again, if you can believe that, and he convinced me easily enough to get the turkey sandwich special, which was on oat cranberry bread, with provolone cheese and granny smith apple slices. I recommend it. Not sure it was quite as good as the similar sandwich once served at St. Helen Cafe in Williamsburg, but hey, at least Good Earth is still in business.

The main reason for my post is a new obsession: The Guild! It's one of these Internet-only sitcoms, with episodes 3 to 6 minutes long; Beth sent me the link for it earlier today and I watched every episode available, which is exactly 14, I believe. The awesomeness, besides being usually genuinely hilarious, is made up of two things, as far as I'm concerned:

1. It was written by and stars one of the Potentials. 50 points.
2. It is about the members of a guild in an MMO. 50 points.

For extra credit, one of the guild members is beginning to think, Hey, I should probably quit--or anyway cut down. 10 points.

That is a total of 110 points, which is an A+ on any scale.

Sure, you will need to "get" MMOs to "get" many of the jokes, but most of the humor is pretty clear, even if you're not a recovering druid.

*Chad was our waiter during our first and only previous visit to Good Earth, well over a year ago. He is noteworthy for his muscles, tattoos, loquaciousness, and shorts, which he wears all winter.

Remembering Picture Books

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Internet feels kind of slow today, so I thought I'd better do my part.

The sky is blue here in Saint Paul, and the three or so inches of snow on the ground are light, fluffy, and generally pleasant under one's feet. This is the easiest snow to shovel, but if the sun has its way, soon some little melting will begin, and then the snow will become wet, and heavy. This is how heart attacks happen.

I've been giving the YA MS some additional thought. Not on purpose, you understand. These ridiculous thoughts come to me in the shower or in the middle of the night, when I'm completely unprepared for them. At any rate, I have a brilliant (ha!) idea for a middle section, and -- get this! -- a PART TWO! oh good.

What this means, to sum up, is a final MS, in the who-knows-how-distant future, nearly six times the size of the original draft, which was, I'll admit, quite short.

All that said, Dr. James Orbinski of Medecins Sans Frontieres was on MPR this noontime, and it made me feel like writing about any topic other than genocide is pretty much a waste of time.

I suppose I'll get over it.

Bought a copy of The Snowy Day for Sam today. It was one of my favorites as a child. Which reminds me: I need help finding a book! When I was a child, I had a few favorite picture books. One was The Snowy Day, one was Whose Mouse Are You?, one was Make Way for Ducklings. However, there was another. I cannot recall the title, nor the author, nor the illustrator. But I can remember what it was about:

A boy recalls a trip to the park, sometime around dusk. Shadows fall over everything, and the boy's recollections are skewed. He saw, for example, a man walking with a grizzly bear! But, maybe, that was just a big dog, after all.

Any bells ringing for anyone from that description? Any tips are appreciated, as I'd like to get a copy of that one for my boy (and, yes, for myself, too).

In other news, I managed to stuff a huge lunch into my gaping maw (shout out to Tom Sniegoski!), and now I feel like crap. Salad for dinner is definitely in order.


Monday, December 8, 2008

I've got a bad cold. I think Sam might have it too. He's had a fitful morning of sleep since his mom left. He wakes every 5 or 15 minutes and cries for a few seconds, then turns over and falls back asleep. This is pretty much how I slept most of the night, so I'm assuming it's a symptom of the cold.

In other news, my first-ever graphic novel manuscript is . . . late! But not by much, and I hope to get it done by lunchtime, or during lunchtime, depending mainly on Sam. I have 6 spreads left to go, and then I can spend the remainder of December concentrating on my YA MS, and pitching new ideas to my editors over at SAB.

Sam is having a fuss right now, so I better check on him. Not much else to report right now, anyway.


'Tis the season

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Time for more.

It's Thursday, which means in a few hours begins my evening to work seriously on the YA MS. In related news, I pushed through about 2000 words of that sucker yesterday. I'm not sure how many of those 2000 were actually any good, however.

It snowed today quite hard for maybe 5 minutes. Of course, I was in the car, driving, during those 5 minutes. But it was very pretty, and Sam was out in a real snowfall for the first time, albeit briefly as we walked through the parking lot when the snow began.

By the way, despite the name of this blog, or perhaps owing to the scenario to which the name of this blog alludes, our Christmas tree is up, as is a wreath on our front door. I'll post a photo of the former soon, I hope; we're planning on having it in our holiday photo. Think we'll get a card printed up to send out this year? I have my doubts. We never seem to get quite around to it.

Your opinion, please: When I was on my way out earlier, I spotted a woman, very bundled up, with her toddler son (presumably) wandering from house to house. At first, it appeared she was collecting recyclables for their deposit value (do they do that in Minnesota? I don't even know), but upon closer inspection, I realized they were in fact going through the numerous bags and boxes my generous neighbors have left out for today's charity pickup (by the Epilepsy Foundation, I believe; they want your new or gently used clothing or household items). This woman's infraction made me angry, and a little confused as to whether I was right to be angry.

A mention in the blogosphere

Many thanks to "Get Johnny Reading" for this mention. The Mummy at Midnight is one of my favorites* I've done for SAB, so this is especially cool.

More later. . . .

*Due in no small part to the awesomeness of the art. Look at that cover!

Sam's first Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The holiday is over, and tomorrow morning brings with it the grind. Nearly 9 a.m. on Sunday morning now, and Beth and the Samster are still sleeping; Beth is entitled, since her cold had her up more than half the night, with the coughing and sneezing and blowing of nose. We fear Sam might soon have his first real cold.

Sam, by the way, was essentially a treat for the holiday. On the first flight, despite some fusses and musses and complications, things certainly could have been worse. And the return flight! My goodness. We could not have asked for better. He announced his presence as we boarded, and I'm sure most of the passengers we passed* were thinking, Oh, lord. Here we go. This should be good. But they had nothing to worry about. Because after he ate a little, he drifted off and barely opened his eyes or made the slightest peep until we were in the MSP terminal.

Beyond the flights, Sam's east coast debut was a smash, and he out-cuted every other baby in the Tri-State area, I'm certain. Of course, it was also very nice to introduce Sam to many of our friends back east, and we're looking forward to our January/SCBWI** trip so he can meet those he missed.

On other matters, Looking for Alaska is not the great achievement its follow-up is, but it's still good, and I will probably finish it with pleasure. I haven't written anything in a week or so, which sucks, and the writing I do over the next few days will be exclusively contract work, which means the YA MS is on hold for a few more days.

*A short note about the passengers on our return flight. There were four distinct groups: Our little family, another young family in the back of the plane, a huge group of nuns, and a HUGE group of the Long Island NRA. It was a little weird. But take note: if you see a little baby during boarding, and he's a little fussy, remember that a big group of gun fanatics is way more annoying. They march up and down the aisle, shouting at each other and passing magazines like "Outdoor Living" and "Rack" over your head, frequently threatening to wake the aforementioned little baby. And nuns, well, some of them are very old and probably shouldn't be flying, and they might pass out and need an oxygen mask and cause a small panic, including an over-PA request like, "Is there a doctor onboard?" and a stout priest leaving his luxurious first-class seat to come check on his ailing "sister."

**Why is the Winter Conference in New York City? Shouldn't that one be Cali or Miami?

Bookie Woogie

Monday, November 24, 2008

We're packing, getting ready for our first flight with the Samster, which happens tomorrow evening. But I wanted to real quick drop this link on you, because it is my new favorite blog.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Web Presence

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Friday update!

In the last month, I have really kicked my Internet profile into high gear. There's this blog right here. Plus I'm a twitterer now. Or a tweeter. Or I tweet. Whatever the hell it is.

I've also got my bloglines account up and running, finally. I had the account for ages but never added any subscriptions. But watch out, 'cause my list is growin' like, um, something that grows fairly slowly!

I also dropped this blog onto Google Analytics, which is a pretty fun little tool, but it leaves me with one question: Who the hell is checking my blog on a daily+ basis from Sterling, Virginia?? I get Maine. I get NY. I certainly get Minnesota. But Sterling, Virginia?

I wouldn't ask, but (A) it's been driving me crazy, and (B) it's very close to DC, so it makes me a little paranoid, and (C) I use lettered lists instead of numbered lists in running text nowadays because I feel like John Green should enjoy a monopoly on numbered lists for the time being.

Enjoy your weekend.

An Abundance of Footnotes

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I finally finished reading An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green, besides the math appendix, which I will read. I just fell asleep before I did. But I will.

This YA novel is an achievement the likes of which I have never before read, in or out of YA lit. The work that went into this book . . . it boggles the mind. I can only imagine the behemoth effort it must have been, even for a lifelong nerd like Mr. Green, to work not only with math, an obvious enemy to English majors the world over, but with obsessive palindroming, several languages, plot intricacies so deep and unexpected . . . Mr. Green either had to go back and fit these pieces together as they occurred to him, thereby requiring draft after draft and revision after revision and research upon research, or else he is a man who should play a lot of chess, seeing dozens of moves ahead when most of us struggle to see two.

The story itself, though a bit contrived (it would have to be to let the pieces Mr. Green built fit so seamlessly together), is delightful, and the voice is unexpected in YA, kind of an intelligent and American Arthur Dent. But most impressive is the utmost respect the book has for its readers.

I hope I develop some of the traits he's already mastered. Now I'm on to Looking for Alaska, I think.

So this is what Mondays are like.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Well, today has been one crazy ride. Samster the Hamster was a whirlwind of fussing, grumping, and shrieking his little tonsils out, and, get this, all without any discernible cause! I know! How rude.

(I hear him stirring from his afternoon nap, but I really want him to hold out until Beth gets home in about 30 minutes. It might happen.)

So yeah. Rough Monday. So it's an especially good thing that I had a fairly rejuvenating weekend. I spent much of Sunday at Bruegger's, getting some freelance writing done, and working a bit on the ol' YA Ms. I think I might have finished a chapter of one of the new novellas. It's kind of . . . I don't know, lewd? But I think it's fairly appropriate to the character. Digressing.

Anyway, post Bruegger's, I was off to Menard's, which is one of the classiest places to buy plastic sheets to cover your windows for the winter. They have a live pianist between the moving sidewalks. Super, super swanky.

I also investigated that paint that turns any wall into a chalkboard. Did you know they can tint it any color you want?! We're going with black. We're that crazy. (For those wondering, this is for the tiny section of wall in the kitchen just as you enter. It will be a chalkboard, corkboard, to-do list, grocery list, coupon board, menu type of thing. I think in a few years, Sam will get a kick out of drawing on the wall, too -- in nice, eraseable chalk.)

Mmhm. He's waking up for reals. Wish me luck.

Sylar as Spock=Awesome

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pretty much.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This is the winter of MY discontent

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Now it's really winter in Saint Paul, and it's just how I remember it: terrifying.

Not like "Oh it's so cold I might die." Not at all. That comes in February, when Harry's paws nearly freeze to the sidewalk on his nighttime walk, and I have to carry him home lest he suffer permanent foot damage. This is the terrifying one might feel before walking into a conference room for a production meeting, let's say; or maybe right before a Kevin Costner movie starts.

Today, the earth is a grayish white: the combined colors of the muddy grass and light dusting of snow. The sky, too, is grayish white, nearly the exact same tone. These are the days I dread most. Complete and total sensory flatness. Flatitude. It makes my eyes go numb. (See above, Kevin Costner movie reference.)

Meanwhile, I can't get any work done. I'm not blaming Sam at all this time, either. This is strictly the numb-eyes thing. Everything has a sheen over it, and not in a pleasant way. More like a window covered in Vaseline.

The good news is PE Obama has set some very nice (albeit not strict enough) rules against lobbyist involvement in the transition.

Is it winter? The conference and snow say, "Yes."

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's a new day in America! But we know this.

What is exciting today is registration for the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. Just think: I get to take a long weekend trip to NYC, and write the whole thing off! I'm flipped with joy over the prospect.

This weekend, I hope to get done a big chunk of work on the YA MS, take two. Beth will let me escape from fatherhood for a few hours on Saturday afternoon to get some work done at a coffee shop, I expect. I do my best deadline writing at such places.

It's snowing here today. First substantial snow of the winter, which, I'll grant you, hasn't actually started yet. Which brings to mind the little-known fact that our accepted meteorological start dates for the four seasons are fairly new ideas, and not remotely internationally accepted truths. There's a great Straight Dope column on it.

Beth is working from home today, so we can split time with Sam. She'll be doing this every Friday thanks to an excellent deal she worked out with her employer. I am relieved.

That's Entertainment!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sam likes his mobile to a degree I never could have predicted. Seriously. He's as close as he knows how to get to hysterical with laughter, which at this point is mostly smiling and going "Unnnh!"

Pss . . . my secret identity:

Now this is pretty cool.

Of course, being me, I am also worried about it, since I'm fairly sure none of my Impact titles are even on shelves yet. Won't the students pick up the newest Impact titles, start reading, and be all, "Um, this is a totally different vibe. I'm not interested in reading this at all"?

Nothing is scarier than a blank Word doc

Friday, October 31, 2008

Beth's working from home today, which is nice. My cold, however, is no better, and maybe slightly worse. I was up a couple of hours in the middle of the night coughing.

The bright side? I think I may have figured out where to go with this YA MS, and if it's not completely a rip-off of As I Lay Dying and/or Shortcuts, I think it might work. And of course the solution came to me in the middle of the night. I hastened to my laptop to get down a quick outline.

Now, in the clear light of day, the real work begins. And staring back at yet another blank Word document always makes me run right to Facebook. Or Or Jacketflap. Or anywhere I can alt-tab real easy.

Oh, also happy Halloween.

Sam's up from his nap. I'll see what His Lordship needs.

Home Alone 4: Pig in the City

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not much to report, as usual.

Today was the Fourth Day Alone with Sam. It went fairly well, I think. It was a long day, certainly, but I am getting better at picking up Sam's signals; I can identify hungry, tired, and post-evacuation pretty easily--almost always before the deafening high-pitched streaking begins. It doesn't usually last long, though, if it does start; my throat starts to hurt, you see.

I'll be alone with Sam again tomorrow, and Thursday. Beginning in two weeks, it will be every day when B starts her normal work-at-the-office-every-day schedule. Shame. Why aren't we more Canadianesque?

I haven't touched my YA MS since the meeting last Friday. I just don't know where to start fixing this thing. I mean, I can pad it; padding I know. But I don't feel like that's what it wants. A few ideas I've had include an opening passage that completely breaks the fourth wall and sets up the piece a little better; opening with a poem is fine, but the scene at the clothing store feels a little in-the-middle of things. B suggested adding another, shorter novella, connected but not, a la Franny and Zooey. I don't know what to do!

Also we went to BN last night and I picked up two books by John Green: Finding Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines. I'll read them in my normal slow fashion and get back to you.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Well, I had my meeting (over Two-Hearted Ales, I'm happy to say) with the aforementioned editor last night. I wish I had something concrete to report, but I really don't. Not that I expected to walk out of there with a book deal, contract in hand, whistling my way home. But I guess I was hoping for something along the lines of an if-then statement.

Instead, I learned he definitely loved the book as it is, but thinks of it as not quite a novel . . . yet. He gave me some of his notes, and promises to follow up with a full editor letter next week. I'll look forward to that, and hopefully I'll have a better idea of where he'd like to see this book go. Generally, it was pretty cool to hear that a rising star YA editor liked my YA MS. That's the biggest thing I got out of the night.

He also recommended I send the MS off to another editor, who he is sure would also love it, so I'll most likely to do that on Monday morning. I'll probably also read the book again and see if anything comes to me.

Sam the man, bein' Sam, doin' things without a plan

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sam's been a little harder to please ever since he got his shots on Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon is noted in a previous entry. Yesterday, Sam was sort of on the verge of crying or crying pretty much all day. We didn't see many smiles from him.

This morning has been a little better, but the last hour, hour and a half has been on the rough side. I think he's feeling overtired. Hopefully I can get him to sleep.

Over all, though, I'm starting to think that getting any writing done when Beth isn't home might be a pipe dream.

Today, Idaho; tomorrow, Wyoming!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Okay, it ain't the New York Times, but at least for this book I used my real name.

(Scroll down a short way.)


Interesting article in today's Times, and it mentions my original home town in paragraph one.

Shots and hopes

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

First, some Sam news.

His two-month birthday was yesterday, which means two-month well visit. Sam had his at 10:30 this morning, and now he is one very unhappy little boy. Three shots in his two legs, and now the violent fits of crying come every 2 minutes or so and last about ten or twenty seconds each. Shrill, painful crying. Truly difficult to be around. My heart is breaking constantly. But the reaction is normal, unless it goes on for three hours in a row. So for now I'll just be glad that he hasn't had a severe reaction.

I can't wait for next month for some more shots!

The stats: 23 inches long (nearly two feet!) and 11 pounds.

In other news, one of the editors to whom I sent my YA MS yesterday has already read the whole thing. Apparently he just couldn't put it down. Naturally, I'm buggin'. We're meeting Friday to discuss the book. I might not sleep until then. Which will be fine, since Sam, it feels like right now, might be crying until then.


Monday, October 20, 2008

I finished my first full-length (if you can call it that at under 35k words) young adult novel this morning. This is a project that began as a 7-page short story in my college Creative Writing for Children class. I was inspired to augment it years later, and finally feel like it's a finished book now, 14 years after first sitting down to bang out a final project. Even more ironic is how many books I've started and finished since then. What, like twenty, twenty-five?

Right, so, I've sent it off to two editors, one who enjoyed a draft a couple of years back, and one I met recently and who must have been impressed enough with my resume and a summary of the MS to ask for it.

Now I guess I'll wait six months and continue to toil away at my chapter books.

In Sam news, he's a regular smiler the last week or so, which is nice. Caring for an infant before he can give you any real reactions -- smiles, gurgly attempts at speech -- can be a little frustrating. Now that I can pretty much always get a smile if I try, it's still frustrating, but less so.

Discrimination is A-OK, as long as it's good, clean, Christian discrimination

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Bush administration has decided that taxpayers' money can go to groups that practice discriminatory hiring.

What have we got left, like 3 months of this clown?


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today is my first day as a full-time stay-at-home dad. It's so far not very difficult. As a matter of fact, most of the stress I'm feeling comes not from Sam, but from this sense of foreboding in my chest: Things might get very difficult any second now.

Like when Harry wakes up and needs to go for a walk. That might be complicated.

Or there's the writing deadlines I set for myself; one to finish by end of day Friday, the other to finish by end of day next Friday.

But mostly Sam's been a picture of easy baby. Right now he's asleep. The two fusses he's busted today were easy fixes: eat, and change. That's easy. It's not like he's screaming in my ear and exploding diapers.

For now, I'll just be thankful he can't walk yet.

Which reminds me. The Times says I better stop forgetting to add the vitamin D to his bottle.

Good morning.

Monday, October 13, 2008

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending my first ever SCBWI conference; it was only about two miles away at the U of M St. Paul campus, so excuses were hard to come by. But it was definitely a good experience. I met some good people and was socially not too terribly uncomfortable.

And they served lunch! With cookies!

I mention this because it inspired me to finally post something on this cobweb-covered blog, which I opened who knows how long ago and, after creating a few images in the sidebar, never posted on.

Now I've done things like this before, and then never showed up again. You should see the journal I kept after college. And, with my still fairly new son at my side, it may be harder than I think to update this thing--while caring for the boy and keeping up with house work and my writing contracts. But I maintain hope.

The focus here will be writing, of course, and reading, but I tend to ramble and digress, so expect some personal beeswax, ranting about the state of the nation, and complaining that the best we can do is Al Franken.