Monday, November 29, 2010

Not to toot my own horn but... I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!

Warning, gratuitous exclamation mark usage ahead!

Ladies and gentlemen, join me in cheering, shouting, and honking horns in celebration of my first-ever completed novel! Today, while listening to TetaBean study with the kids (thanks TetaBean!), I finished my novel. In just 50,300 words, I finished a novel that will set the world on its ear... or not, teehee. But, it is a novel and it is my first. Just saying, woohooooooooo!!!!!

For those who took me up on my challenge, show me your crappy prizes. For those who didn't, sad to be you. Those who took me up on my challenge one month ago and wrote 50,000 words in November, dinner is ready when are you?

And for those who have no idea what I'm talking about, once again MommaBean has done something counter-cultural (call the papers!). In the month of November, I joined in the National Novel Writing Month challenge. In their own words...

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.

Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

This year, for the first time, I participated in and won nanowrimo. On the way, I found out some things about myself. Some of the things I learned:
  1. I like to see smaller achievable goals. I didn't write 50,000 words this month. I wrote 1667 for 30 days.
  2. Even within the smaller goals, I like flexibility. My chart looks something like this, no progress, no progress, no progress, 5000 words. Then, 1667 for three days running, then no words, no words, no words, then 3000 words.
  3. Being part of a group doing something slightly crazy makes it more fun.
  4. Jordan has beautiful young ladies (some of whom are teaching our kids, how lucky are we!) who are crazy too.
  5. Even in a place where people don't like to read, they will write novels. About 300 people signed up across the Middle East region. Regardless of how many complete their novel this month, the number is encouraging.
  6. Jordanian kids are competing in the Young Writer's program, how awesome is that?!
  7. I'm not sure what to do with my spare time anymore... but I'm sure I'll figure it out.
  8. People are more encouraging than you expect, even when what you're doing sounds as crazy as it is (thanks to all of those who have been Facebook encouraging me).
  9. People seem to want to read the awful novel you wrote in a 30 days period... even when they know you only took 30 days to write it...
  10. Nanowrimo is fun and everyone in Jordan should be required to participate at least once
Now I'm off to read some stories with the Beans, they've had much more rushed reading schedules this month and deserve some devoted time and attention today. MommaBean signing out with the relief of a job done (regardless of how well)...

Happy madness!

Monday, November 22, 2010

America's McTravel Options: Full bodies on the internet or strip search over clothes? Something just seems wrong here...

I've been waiting and waiting focusing on the novel, but just can't wait any more. I am truly and deeply disturbed by the changes going on in airport security in the US. I read this article yesterday about a retired teacher with an ostomy bag (an external urine collection device for those who have suffered from, among other things, bladder cancer. This man was given the "enhanced pat down" after going through the full body scanner because of his medical prosthesis. Unfortunately, the highly trained and skilled TSA agents refused to listen to him explain that he has a medical condition. How insensitive and disgusting could their behavior be?

Then today, I saw the following video.

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You know, what's truly troubling to me is that most Americans don't seem to care. Once we take the fear to this level, we've lost already. When we say no one is human in order to catch inhuman predators, we've lost our own humanity. Mind you, I don't have a particular issue with pat downs. In Jordan, this is par for the course for women. Somehow metal detectors are not adequate (I won't even go there), so we get patted down twice for each trip.

Yep, that's right. Double pat downs in the course of getting to my plane. Yet, somehow dignity is retained. I've never had an issue with screeners at the airport here. They ascertain what they need to (I have no weapons and no bombs) without making me feel like I've been violated. What worries me is that the media is listening to hacks like the Israeli guy. Really, THIS is the model you want to hold up?

Note in the video that he's encouraging profiling (which doesn't work) and talking about loss of privacy. Unfortunately, it seems to me that in Israel only one class of non-citizen is subjected to such inhuman behavior... and it's created suicide bombers. So, maybe that's NOT the model we want to follow.

And, as for full body screens, is there anyone in the world who doesn't foresee these pictures ending up for sale on ebay? Anyone at all? I can see what this will become, whether they can see your face or not. Oh, and do you really think there are no cameras that are taking video of the screeners at all times? How hard is it to match these up? I don't think all TSA screeners are bad, but there is some percentage that is. There is ALWAYS some percentage that is...

Personally, I plan to say no thank you to "full body screening" and live with the pat downs. But, hopefully by the time I travel to the US again, they will have a more appropriate option available. And, I'm sorry but dial down the fear rhetoric and search for real solutions. I feel the same way about this as the Patriot Act, if you want live in a police sate there are many to choose from. Maybe we should keep America as America... I seem to recall something about it being the land of the free, but that WAS before 9/11 I guess. Perhaps we should change our national anthem to, the land of the kind of free in some ways and the home of those who live in fear. Seems more appropriate these days. So, to Secretary Clinton and President Obama, yeah you really need to think long and hard about that "balance" you've been treating so cavalierly. I find America beginning to slide down a slippery slope and I don't think I like where the end of it is...

Happy Imbalance!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Repost: Exciting Outcome of the Jordan Election

Reposting as blogger is having some issue with the previous post...

So, in case anyone missed it, the Jordan Times has reported the election results from Tuesday's elections here. You may notice that the brown-haired party candidate (tongue firmly in cheek) Reem Badran won. I am proud to say that I had a hand in electing her. There was something actually quite special about her performance in this election. Many readers may be unaware that Jordan's electoral system has a built in "quota" for certain minorities. These include specified seats for Christians, Circassians, and women. So, the fact that a woman was elected in the third district isn't particularly newsworthy. But let me tell you what is... Reem Badran did not win as a woman. She beat her male opponents in direct competition hands-down.

1. Mamdouh Saleh Abbadi 2,131 Muslim
2. Reem Mudar Badran 3,792 Muslim
3. Abdul Rahim Fathi Biqai 2,309 Muslim
4. Ahmad Mohammad Safadi 3,099 Muslim
5. Ghazi Farid Misharbash 3,198 Christian

The next closest opponent competing for an open seat only posted 3,099 votes. Reem beat him by nearly 700 votes. And, ladies and gentlemen that's something. The result of this, much to my happiness, is that Reem takes one of the 5 seats for the third district. She does NOT take one of the women's seats.

This article details Reem's win and notes that she is the FIRST woman to win a seat outside of the quota system. Amman should be proud. ** Side note, I have been assured that she may be the first woman in the THIRD district, nut is not the first in the country. There is a woman who has managed this several times outside of Amman. Maybe some fact checking would be appropriate for JT? **

However, the second thing that I am not seeing anyone talking about is the fact that the candidate with the second most votes in the District is a Christian candidate. Unfortunately (from my perspective only of course), the Christians do not run in a quota system like the women do. Rather, they run for a specific Christian seat. Unlike in Reem's case, Ghazi Musharbash does not take one of the 4 non-Christian seats leaving the Christian seat open to the next highest Christian. However, it would be interesting to see if a Christian can, in fact, run in open competition. It's certainly an idea for the next election giving the scores in this one. I'm both surprised and impressed at the results for District 3.

I remain glad that I went out and voted (once again a painless and smooth process). We did not experience any incidents and had only very nice people politely handing out election materials. For those who didn't vote this time, get out and vote.

In my house the rule is: If you don't vote, you don't get complaining rights. I suspect it's the only reason El 3atal voted, honestly. He knows if he didn't go and vote and then wanted to whine about anything Parliament related, I'd have made him stop ;). Because after all, if you give up your right to make the choice, you don't care enough to complain... 'nuff said.

Happy results-oriented voting!