Blogging 201

The next class from the folks at The Daily Post tomorrow: Bogging 201.

Unlike the Writing 101 class that finished up a couple weeks ago, this one isn’t necessarily writing assignments. But there are likely to be a few posts related to it in the next few weeks. (You’ve been warned.)

P.S.: It didn’t snow today after all, in spite of the predictions.

First Snow

The TV weather people are gleefully predicting snow for tomorrow.

I was going to rake leaves, but I guess that will have to wait until spring, now.

But I will take in the hammock before dinner.

A Couple More Reading Suggestions

Here are a couple more books I’ve been reading (simultaneously):

  • John Updike, Picked Up Pieces. An anthology of Updike’s essays and reviews. It’s out of print, but there are plenty of used copies on Amazon. I got it for 22¢ (plus $3.25 postage).
  • Anne Lamot, Bird by Bird: Some instructions on Writing and Life. Entertaining enough to read even if you’re not particularly interested in writing.

Always do what’s best for the client.

We have a client, a big client, who earlier this week asked us to do a really big web project.

We couldn’t do it. We wanted like crazy to have that business, but to say yes would have landed us in over our heads. We would have been unhappy. Our client, maybe our biggest client, would be unhappy. Bad.

We referred our client to another web development company. We know a few people at the company we referred our client to. They’ll do a great job. Our client will be happy. But it was like watching $100,000 walk out the door.

But it was the right thing to do. As it turns out, the big web development company we referred our big client to was looking for a place to refer some jobs that were too small for them. Guess who’s going to get those referrals. It won’t be $100,000 all in one job. But it could be enough to turn a sleepy little web design shop into a humming business.

And, our client, our big client, is still our friend. It’s good to have big friends.

Always do what’s best for the client.

Always.

Honey, Stephen Hawking Called for You

The man on the other end of the line sounds like Stephen Hawking.

“Is this the res-i-dence of the Rev-er-end Brooke New-ell?” he asks.

“Yes, but she’s not in at the moment,” I say.

He’s the chaplain at the medical center in West Podunk Lake. “I’m cal-ling to in-vite Rev-er-end New-ell to a Cler-gy gath-er-ing on No-vember 4th in the Red-ford room,” he says.

I’m wondering if he’s going to start explaining the Big Bang.

Instead, he begins to describe a luncheon event to me.  He seems to think I’m Brooke’s secretary. I suppose Stephen Hawking might make an assumption that clergy have secretaries. I play along.

He goes on and on, describing the event. How they’ll have lunch served. How there will be a top surgeon who will speak to the group following the luncheon. He seems to think that if I’m in the mood for lunch and a talk from a top surgeon it may increase the chances of Brooke’s attendance. I’m picturing the big bang. It was like a hospital luncheon for clergy. I’d always pictured it as something more exciting, but if Stephen Hawking says it was this way, who am I to contradict him?

I write down: “Rev Dave. W Podunk Med Ctr. November 4. Noon. Clergy Lunch. Surgeon talk.” I take down his phone number.

He’s still talking at me, like Stephen Hawking. I assure him the I’ll pass the message on to Brooke. We hang up.

Then it occurs to me, maybe I missed the big bang.

Good Grammar

I never thought I’d recommend a grammar book as interesting reading.

Over the weekend in Saratoga Springs I spent a half hour on a lunch break rummaging through the book tables at Barnes and Noble. (There are no bookstores in New York north of Saratoga.) I found The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker sandwiched between the cookbooks and teenage vampire romance novels. I’ve been thinking a lot about writing ever since the Writing 101 course, so I picked it up.

It’s not your ordinary grammar book. It’s about how cognitive processes work to turn strings of symbolic representations into thoughts, and what it takes to translate ideas from one mind to the next. So, even though it’s in the form of a style manual for writers, it reads more like an adventure novel. Nouns turn out to be so much more than just “a person, place or thing.” There really are no such things as conjunctions. Dangling participles and split infinitives aren’t the menace to society your 8th grade English teacher told you they were.

If you ever had to diagram sentences and the experience has left you scarred for life, this book will restore your faith in the English language.

10 Months!

As of yesterday Sunday Epidemic has been up and running for 10 months.

The idea was to post once a day for a year. With two months to go, I’m considering what to do with it once the year is up.

At this stage, I’m thinking of keeping it around as a practice blog, for posting things like the recent Writing 101 assignments. I’ve rehabilitated iCaspar with an eye to making that the blog for “real” posts — whatever that means.

Stuff Overflow

We’ve officially maxed out the capacity of our house to contain stuff.

I’m not sue how it happened, but it did.

In order to use one room, we have to pile up all the stuff and stash it in another room. Then when we need to use that room for something, we have to pile it up again and move it to yet another room. On it goes.

Over the weekend we started throwing stuff out, sending stuff to the thrift store, putting stuff in boxes. But where to put the boxes?

It might be time for a (gasp!) yard sale. But don’t hold your breath. Neither Brooke or I have much talent for selling stuff. Even when it’s good stuff and we’re not asking much.

WordCamp Saratoga

I’m at WordCamp Saratoga today.

It’s close enough to home that I can get there and back again all in one day.

And I can have lunch at the Putman Market. Bonus!

It’s the first time Saratoga has hosted a WordCamp. It’s a smaller gathering. Just two rooms, and not sold out. Easier to find people you want to talk to.

Session 1 was about using WordPress for public school websites. I’ll have to talk to some people in Keene (currently a Google Site, and could be a lot better) when I get back.

Treasure

I’ve been reading and pondering Zen for the past couple weeks. Zen emphasizes letting go of attachments. Now, the final assignment for Writing 101 is to tell the story of the thing I most treasure. Irony.

As I think over all the possibilities, it’s hard to come up with anything. I can think of a lot of things that have come and gone: my computer, my next computer, my computer after that, my purple pen (it was a disposable, but I still liked it very much), the Batmobile I got for Christmas when I was 10 (and lasted six hours before my little brother broke it), various power tools, new car and my next new car.

I can think of a few things that I’ve managed not to lose or break: my wedding ring, my monogrammed mahogany box where I keep pins and buttons, nail clippers, old money clips and Silas’s baby teeth. (Yes, I was the tooth fairy.)

I suppose it’s a few of those things in the box that are my most treasured possessions. There’s plenty of other junk in that box, too. Anybody else going through it would never pick out the treasure from the clutter. Some of it probably ought to be thrown out. But among that stuff I’ve kept just a few things. They’re what I hang onto, one move after the next. They remind me of people I treasure: my wife, my son.

In the case of my grandfather, I have several other things handed down after he died in 1998. I still have a couple of his white handkerchiefs, now worn thin. Last summer my mother passed on a couple topographic maps of the Green Mountains and Adirondacks she recovered from his basement. They’re old and brittle now, and despite their being tightly wrapped in a cardboard sheath, I’m not sure how well they’ll survive the next moves. It’s his silver money clip in the mahogany box, though, that I remember him by. It’s the one thing I have from him that’s not likely to break or wear out. It’s something he carried every day and took on an element of his personality by its proximity to him over I don’t know how many years.

If there is anything I really treasure, it would be that small collection of useless odds and ends in the mahogany box. I could live without it. I open it only occasionally. But if it weren’t there I’d miss it. That’s the proof.