Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNoWriMo- Novel Excerpt

An Excerpt of the novel I am writing for NaNoWriMo 2012 entitled: Welcome to Green Idaho

           David parked his car and walked up the short sidewalk to their single story house, he could hear Benjamin coughing miserably as he unlocked the door and stepped inside. Charlotte looked up from the couch where she was holding their son wrapped in a blanket. He coughed a heart wrenching cough and held his hands out to be picked up. David set his bag on the end of the sofa and picked up Benjamin who snuggled close.
            “Has he had his medicine at all today?” he asked Charlotte.
            She shook her head, “No, the power hasn’t been on long enough, I just get the nebulizer set up and it goes out again.”
            “It went out a work several times, but it came back on pretty soon, we must be on a different leg of the grid.”
            Benjamin wheezed again and began to cry. David rocked him gently and sang softly in his ear until he drifted off to sleep. Charlotte got up and began to make sandwiches in the partially darkened kitchen. Once he laid little Ben down in his bed and covered with an extra blanket, David joined her and began hunting through cupboards for a flashlight.
            “David, if these outages keep happening, we may have to go out to your parents until Ben is better. He can’t keep missing his medicine.”
            “I know, I wish the power company could get their act together.” said David pulling a flashlight from under the sink. He flipped the switch, but no light came on.
            “Do we have any more batteries?” he asked.
            “Check in the medicine cupboard, otherwise we are out.”
            David opened the cupboard and went through each combination of batteries until the light finally came on. It wasn’t a powerful light, but it would have to get them through the night. After a quick supper of sandwiches and chips, they sat and talked about what they should do. Every so often Ben would start coughing again, and they would both stop and listen to see if he needed help.
            “If the power isn’t back on tomorrow, take him out to my parent’s house. They will at least be able to keep him warm.” said David.
            “True, your mom may even know some home remedies that will at least keep him comfortable so he can get some sleep.”
            “There must be something we can do, so that when the power is out Ben can still get his medicine, and we can have a little electricity.”
            Ben began coughing, and they both listened intently until he stopped.
            “I think we need to get Ben feeling better before we try to figure something out.”
            “You are probably right,” said David, but the thought would not leave him.
When 8:00 PM rolled around, they decided to call it a night and get ready for bed by the light of the flashlight. Fortunately there was always a pitcher of water in the refrigerator, so they were able to brush their teeth and wash their faces without too much discomfort. When they had read their scriptures and prayed as a couple, David went to check on Benjamin. His room was still cold from the late winter/early spring air, and his coughing seemed to be getting worse. He carefully picked Ben up and placed him between Charlotte and himself so he would stay warm through the night.
            Around midnight David woke up. There HAD to be something he could do for his family. He looked at the alarm clock to see if the power had come back on, it hadn’t. David tucked the blankets tightly around Benjamin and went into the front room. He looked out the window and saw all the dark houses across the street. It seemed the only light in the area was the full moon as it peaked through the clouds from time to time. He began to pace the room as his brain strained to grind down this problem to a solution. They could get a gas powered generator for backup power, but if the outages continued for more than a day that would cost too much for their meager budget. After some time he heard a dog bark, and he looked out to see whose it was. The black lab sniffed around the porch of the house two doors down. That was the Watsons. Soon a light turned on and Steve Watson opened the door to let the dog back in. He glanced up and down the street, then closed the door and turned the light off.
            David paced around the room two more times before he realized what he had just seen. He turned the light on and he turned it off! David flipped a light switch in the front room… nothing happened. David examined the houses across the street one more time, they were all still dark. Somehow, the Watsons had power even when the rest of the street was in the dark. Perhaps there was a solution to their problem. He would go talk to Steve tomorrow, and find out what he had. There was no sound of a gas powered generator, and even if they had a generator why would he turn it on just to let the dog in?
            David found his way into the bedroom and climbed back in bed, Ben coughed, but David wasn’t as worried this time. If the Watsons had found a way to deal with power outages, they could too. If nothing else, they would probably let Charlotte and Ben come over long enough for Ben to get his medication. As he drifted off to sleep, the hint of a smile crept onto his face for the first time since he arrived home that afternoon.

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaNo Month Day2

So far things are going well with NaNoWriMo 2012. I have written 5,002 words in 2 days. 

The novel I am writing is about David Keltson, and how he wants to "go green" without going over the top. His son Benjamin is sick, and the power keeps going out so he can't take his breathing treatments when he is suppose to. So in an effort to help their son, David and his wife Charlotte decide to try out some easy on the budget green solutions. They talk to their neighbor from two doors down to help them get started. So far they have toured their neighbor's home, and with his help made a Zeer pot. Next they are going to decide how much they want to get into these solutions and if they are willing to shell out the money for a solar panel system for emergency power during the blackouts they have been experiencing. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year. The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  The object of this event is to help writers get a complete rough draft out in a short amount of time. To turn off the internal editor that makes you write slower. (Get the story out on paper, then edit.) I will give updates throughout the month on my progress. 

 For more info see:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

First Snow

I don't know why, but during the first snowfall of the year I always want to write. The stark change in season jumpstarts my brain and all sorts of ideas which have been floating around in my head seem to come together. As the snowflakes float softly to the ground, I am reminded how gentle change can be. Things are quieter in the winter, homes are cosier. My mind feasts on the inspiration that lies in a wall hanging, small boots and gloves by the door, and the smell of cinnamon and hot chocolate. I live in Southeast Idaho, and we had four inches of snow fall over night. Writting season is now open.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I Subtract When I Add

Insights into the world of “broken math”

My wife is a certified math teacher, and I am a web developer by trade. Initially this statement seems rather bland and not out of the ordinary. But when I say the result of this combination is: “I subtract when I add,” people tend to look at me funny, first and foremost my wife!

1 + 1 = 2, that part doesn't change, what does change is when you cross a power of 10. For example, most people would look at the problem: 6 + 7 and count up on their fingers (or in their head) from seven, (8, 9, 10, etc…) ending up with 13. I don’t.

When I see this problem, I think 7 is 3 less than 10 so 6 – 3 = 13.

Welcome to the world of “broken math.” Broken math is math that works, but they don’t teach it to you in school. These are the shortcuts that we create in our minds using mathematic principles in a non-standard way to get the correct answer. Here is another example:

If I am baking and the “1 Cup” measuring cup is dirty and I need to measure 2 cups of something, I simply reach for the 2/3 Cup and dump three measures in the bowl. “How does that work?” you ask. If you take the denominator (in this case 3) and pour that many in the bowl, you will get the numerator (in this case 2) of the size of your measure (in this case cups). This works with all fractions. (My wife explained it this way: 3/1 * 2/3 = 2. I just know it lets me continue baking bread when the ideal measuring cups are dirty.)

Another reason they don’t teach broken math in school: it is a lot more complicated to explain.

When most people need to count something, they usually start at 1. When you start working with computers, this is not necessarily true. One type of variable (called an array), begins counting at 0. So, if I am writing a calendar program for example, 0 = January, 1= February, and so on. If I want to loop through the year and do something to each month, I start my count at 0, not 1. (I believe this is leftover from Binary, but I’m not 100% certain on that. If so, computers use broken math too!)

Am I wrong for using “broken math” to get through the day? I don’t think so. What I do believe is that when a student asks a teacher “When am I ever going to use this?” they should think twice about the math they already do on a daily basis. You can’t fill up your car without knowing subtraction (and if you do, you learn about negative numbers real quick!). You get a job because of addition, and you invest because of percentages. I may not use math the way it was taught out of a text book, but broken or not, I use it every day.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Guardians of Agen Sea

I printed off an old manuscript from 2007 and started working it over. It is extremely metaphorical and a bit too epic, so the challenge for me has been to tear apart my own story and retell it using more realistic word choices, and more relatable characters. Most of the descriptions I have left intact, though I know toward the end I will need to revisit some descriptions to make them more audience appropriate. I would like this particular story to be published as e-book by the end of the year. I will have to see if my schedule will allow. I have already designed a cover, and I am debating whether I should paint it, or if I should try to do a CG rendering. Overall I have really enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and I hope it turns out well.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Review- The Work and the Glory: Pilliar of Light

The Work and The Glory was an excellent read. I found the characters interesting and the tension apt. Gerald N. Lund does an excellent job of introducing not only the beginnings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but also the lifestyle of the early 1800s. The discussions of the family on building a farm out of virgin forrest, what constitutes an honorable profession, and what niceties the characters desire provide a great insight to the demeanor of those who lived during that era.

I enjoyed the detail the author included about building the Steed farms (both Benjamin's and Nathan's). How the homes were built, the daily tasks each family member had, and what causes friction between the different family members.

I also appreciated how Lund handled sacred experiences, especially Joseph's reluctance to answer questions. This showed maturity in Joseph after the initial reactions he received when sharing his experience in the Sacred Grove. He held true to his calling to translate, but held his spiritual experiences in reserve for those who were ready to accept them.

There is a delicate balance of being too preachy and not covering the material about the church enough, and Lund does an excellent job of striking that balance. He still covers the history, but maintains his story line as spectators to those events. Information is dispensed in a conversational manner, rather than a "my way or the highway" attitude. Readers are also set at ease by characters not accepting everything at first encounter. Some characters are skeptical, while others are more accepting. I think this helps the reader to understand the turmoil surrounding the events he covers.

Overall I would recommend the first volume in the serries to anyone interested in early American lifestyles, love stories, or who have an interest in learing about the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints without getting preached at.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mother's Day Collages

Two collages I made for Mother's Day 2012. My wife found places online where these were selling for $50 and up. We figured we could do something similar for much less. It was really fun going around our hometown looking for natural letters in our surroundings. We ended up spending only about $6 per picture including the frames.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Of Cowbirds and Starlings

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I noticed several birds on my front lawn. Three in particular drew my attention. Two were brown and rather large, and the third was sleek black and about two-thirds as big. The smaller bird I identified almost immediately as a Starling, as it had the tale-tell yellow beak and yellow streaked feathers. The other two puzzled me for some time.
As I watched the trio wander around my front yard, it was obvious the Starling was hunting for food. The two brown birds were tagging along and, appeared to be bullying the Starling. It wasn’t until the Starling found a big juicy bug and rammed it down one of the other two’s throats, that I realized what was going on. The Starling was trying to teach these two juveniles to hunt, the problem? They were juvenile Cowbirds.

 Brown Headed Cowbirds lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and rely on the other birds to raise their young. This often involves the death of the host bird’s young, as the infant Cowbird takes an immense amount of time and food to raise. If the host bird rejects the Cowbird egg, the adult Cowbird may retaliate against the host’s nest or eggs by smashing or destroying them.
While I am not overly fond of Cowbirds, I am also not entirely thrilled about Starlings either. Starlings are one of the few invasive species that we can identify their introduction onto a continent. 60-100 Starlings were released in Central Park in New York City in the 1890’s. From there they took over the continent, and are known to be aggressive at taking over native birds’ nests. They are also known for unloading all their fecal matter before landing in their nests. While growing up, a pair nested in our garage and plastered my dad’s car every time they flew in. In short, most of the poop that pigeons get blamed for is actually the result of Starlings.
Knowing all this, I paused to reflect on these three birds on my front lawn. The Starling, an invasive species, was now being pressed by a Cowbird to raise her young. I didn’t know whether to be thrilled or disappointed at the predicament. Both types of birds cause damage and additional stress on their surrounding species. Both species force their way in and take over otherwise peaceful situations.

As a society I often wonder if we are not like Starlings and Cowbirds, imposing our will on those around us regardless of the consequences. Do we put our fellow men at a disadvantage by pushing our agenda without consideration for those who are already there? Are we destroying the traditional family by forcing the acceptance of an alternative lifestyle?

As an individual I am very protective of my family, I also believe in being as self-reliant as possible. After watching this scene unfold in my front yard, however, I stopped to examine myself. Do I force my will on the rest of my family? Do I accept input from my wife and my children when it comes to activities and how we spend time together? I know that I am not perfect, but that is no excuse for not trying to improve how I treat my family, my community, and my fellow man. 

Kendall Purser

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Review- The Freshman Detective Blues

The Freshman Detective Blues by P.J. Petersen

I was quite surprised at this one, I read it many years ago and I forgot a lot of the story. There is enough about relationships in the plot to keep girls interested. As the title implies it is written for high school age children, though I really enjoyed it as a twenty-something year old. Eddie and Jack discover a skeleton in the bottom of Muir Lake which opens up a boatload of questions about what happened at the marina nine years before. At the same time Eddie attempts to woo Wendy Westfall on a scrounger's budget.The character dynamics I found quite entertaining, and the descriptions of boating, scrounging, and tinkering accurate.

I read this for a better idea of how to write scenes that involve boating and docking in different environments.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Book Review- The Fireball Mystery

The Fireball Mystery by Mary Adrian

A good book for young readers. The main topic of the book is astronomy, although the plot does take place in a boathouse community, so boating is also a major theme. The two children (Tim and Vicki) who are the main characters have a canoe and their father purchased a nearby island which they visit regularly with their new friend Joey whose dad owns a rowboat which is terribly slow. The children are stargazing on the island when a small meteor strikes nearby. They return to the island to find that Tim's new telescope is missing, and so they embark on a number of investigations to find both the meteor and the thief, not to mention the source of the mysterious lights seen at night out on the island.

My main purpose in reading this book was to get a taste of how authors portray boating for a book that I am working on about a mouse who learns to sail (Voyages of the MS Rodent).