Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Starting A Project

On Friday I started my reading for the reviews I will write for the United Methodist Women Reading Program 2012.

I narrowed my choices down to the books that were available as ebooks to start. I picked two from the Spiritual Growth group and discovered two more, in different categories, were available as digital downloads from the National Library Service as Talking Books.

Next, I sampled the two ebooks from the Kindle store just to be certain they are text-to-speech enabled and I would like them. The web site said they were, but I wanted to be certain.

I am new at writing reviews. Further, I haven't read many books on the Kindle which require my complete attention so this is a new reading experience for me.

I will digress here to talk about the experience of using the Kindle Keyboard as a blind person.

  1. The Kindle Keyboard is the only accessible Kindle. Not all Kindles can utilize text-to-speech, most notably the Kindle Fire. I would love it if I could access my books on my Android smart phone using the Kindle app. Unfortunately, the app does not include this feature. Shame on you, Amazon!

  2. Not all the functions are voice-enabled on the Kindle Keyboard. I cannot page through a book while having text-to-speech enabled. This means I can only listen to a continuous reading of the book. I must stop the continuous reading and turn off text-to-speech when I want to navigate a book.

  3. Not all the controls speak. For example, I wanted to check out the discussion questions at the back of the book after I read the first chapter. I decided not to page back to the table of contents. I paged forward, turning on text-to-speech occasionally to hear where I was in the book. I learned the discussion questions begin ninety per cent of the way through the book. There is no way to bookmark my place. I will have to make note of where I stop reading by page in the text and where to go by location to pick up my reading to read the questions. I can type in a location or page number to navigate there although I cannot hear if I have typed the number correctly. It is sometimes a hit or miss project with a lot of retyping, remembering and note taking

  4. The advanced, and very cool, features of highlighting, note taking and sharing are not available to the blind user of a Kindle. Curiously, I cannot shop in the Kindle store either. I can buy a sample book from my Kindle.

Nevertheless, reading my first UMW selection is a pleasurable experience so far.>

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Marathon, 1908

In 1908, the Olympic marathon in London was extended by 1.2 miles to accommodate the royal family. It began on the lawn of Windsor Castle so that Princess Mary and her children could see the start of the race from the nursery window. The course was extended further to Queen Alexandra's royal box so that she could watch the conclusion of the race.
London Marathon Runners go extra mile for royalty

Marathon, 1908

I run.
Princess Mary and her five children watch from the castle nursery window.
"Good-bye, runner, good-bye."
"Run fast."
"Run far."
I run.
Feet fly.
Steady breaths .
Stay alert.
Run fast.
Run far.
The course is long.
Feet fly.
Steady breaths.
Stay alert.
Run fast.
Run far.
The course is long.
Twenty-five miles.
"God save the queen!"
I shout when the race should be done.
Another 1.2 miles to go.
Haughty queen.
So fatigued..
Feet no longer fly.
Uneven breaths.
The royal box: where is it?
A pretty picture for your daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
A pretty picture for you at the finish line.
I stagger.
I fall.
;I die.
"Good-bye, runner, good-bye."
Tell this to the children in the nursery.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share-Alike license.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

OT Writing in c++

As well as being a writer and a reader, I prepare documentation for Vinux, a Linux distro for the visually impaired based on Ubuntu. In this community there are many talented people. Storm Dragon is teaching a c++ class via Mangler.

I worked as an applications programmer for eighteen years. I taught myself a little C. Now I am learning to program in c++, compiling and running my own programs on my own computer. It's fun.

I enjoyed programming because it was writing. Instead of writing paragraphs, I wrote blocks of code. I wrote in a structured form and as clearly as possible so that someone else could update my code quickly and easily when necessary.

Now that I am assigned programs to write for class, I am again faced with the necessity of choosing meaningful variable and function names, writing concisely and clearly and learning the correct syntax. Consistency counts just as it counts in pros. A well-chosen variable name is like choosing the right word in a poem.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Writing Opportunity

I have been invited to write some 200-word reviews of books in the UMW Reading Program for 2012. Happily, some of their books are available for Kindle and a few are available from NLS. I have two books as samples on my Kindle and I have downloaded two Talking Books. I'm looking forward to doing this.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Label Poem

I wrote this poem in response to Rochelle Melander's writing prompt on her blog.

Rill's Warning Label

Beware: talented writer on duty inside this apartment.
Words may saturate your feet when you step inside.
Images of fictional characters may cloud your objective vision.
You may experience an elevated heart rate when heroines encounter villains.
Risk of cutting flesh from writer revising.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution non-commercial Share-Alike 3.0 license.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I have received mixed messages about wealth all my life:

  • It's something to aspire to.
  • It's not what life is all about.
  • It's something that can make you unhappy.
  • It's something that makes your life much easier.
  • It's not a bad thing in and of itself.
  • You should amass it and pass it onto your children.
  • You should give it all away and live frugally and humbly.li>You need to stay focused so you can get it and keep it.
  • You shouldn't obsess over it.
  • It's not having the wealth that is bad; it's what you do with it that counts.

With all of these contradictory messages, what do I really think about wealth?

I secretly covet wealth. I daydream about what wealth could bring into my life:

  • better medical care
  • the latest gadgets
  • a more spacious place to live
  • a more generous spirit
  • freedom from worry about my financial future

When I finish indulging this fantasy, I am back
to my every day life. Recently, I wrote to the agent who manages my apartment: "I love living here."

My apartment is small. I do not have a dish washer. I do not even have enough counter space to keep my microwave in the kitchen. I cut vegetables at the table which is outside of the kitchen. I let dishes pile up in the sink and struggle to fit them all in the dish drainer. I have piles of possessions stacked about my bedroom in no particular order. And yet, I love my apartment and where it is located.

As I write this, the clouds have been moving about. Working at my standing desk to write this, I am alternatively standing in shadow and light. Nature reflects my engagement with wealth.

My satisfaction with my relationship with wealth is my attitude. If I think I lack wealth and I am financially hard-pressed, I am unhappy. If I think what I have is sufficient, I can live each day happily.

And isn't that one of the reasons to have, or not have, wealth: to be happy?

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Monday, April 16, 2012

The All Pro


Before I begin, let me say that even though "Go Packers" was the first sentence my grandson spoke, I am not a football fan. I know enough about how the game is played to follow a play-by-play and listen to a sports show when the topic is discussed. Further, let me say that this is the only series I have read by Scott Sigler I am not a fan of horror either.

Having said this all first, let me talk about The All Pro, the third book in Sigler's Galactic Football League series. I listen to the first book, The Rookie in Scot's podcast feed. This meant I listened to a chapter every week and listened to other announcements and comments along the way. I purchased The Starter when it became available in audio and the same with The All Pro.

I tell you this because I can't imagine why you would buy this book in print or as an ebook. Part of the fun is listening to Scott read. There are sound effects, too, so you know what species each character belongs to. The crowd goes wild; the hits are audible.

In some ways The All Pro is a departure from the first two books in two ways:

  1. These are now young adult books. The Rookie as I recall, was definitely classified as adult language and themes.

    • The language has been cleaned up from the first two books in audio.

    • There is a teaching element to the story. This may have been in the two earlier books, but it is pronounced in The All Pro At first, I thought this was just clumsy writing. When I learned these were YA books, I thought the writing was then less clumsy but the emphasis seemed distracting. We want our hero to do the right thing, but the decisions Quenton makes are over simplified. In my experience, figuring out what is right and being able to do it is much more complicated.

  2. Although the earlier books did not resolve all the story threads, the The All Pro is a cliff hanger. We have to wait until MVP to find out what happens to our team.

I am also puzzled by the title. The previous book titles described Quenton himself. This title does not. Nor does it play a significant role in the thoughts of the characters and their actions in the story. Admittedly, <All Pro is a football term. Would Play Off have been more descriptive?

By now, you are probably asking yourself why I enjoy these books so much-enjoy them enough to purchase them and anticipate the next book in the series. This is quite simple:

  • It's a good tale.

  • The characters are well-drawn.

  • The species are different from humans and from each other with distinctive values, shapes and sizes.

  • Names are descriptive and easy to remember.

  • Although there are explanatory sections, they are relatively short and inventively inserted into the story line:

    • Excerpts from larger works

    • A sports call-in show

    • A summary of the standings -- the set-up for this is amazing.

    • Play-by-play -- I would have liked more of this in this book.

  • The universe in which the GFL operate is fleshed out though mysteries remain--mysteries which I hope get resolved in the course of this seven book series.

  • The book is hilarious.

I also hope that other books and stories will be recorded which take place in this universe.

Note: As of this writing, The All Pro is currently in Sigler's podcast feed.

,em>A good read when you've read the first books in the series.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

What I will do.

I will use this blog as a writer's journal. Here I will post book reviewss, my thoughts on what I write and the writings the selves.