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Oh Google voice!

So David received this fantastic message from the "Louisiana State Bar Association" today, but if google voice is to be believed, they were rather high when they left the message.

Check it out here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=9595779&l=30041b2e60&id=648430760

(because I'm too cheap to pay for LJ these days)

For more giggles see these:

We're thinking that pophanger or failblog should definitely have a google voice transcription fail page by now...

Apr. 10th, 2011

You ever notice that most stories about "What a bad time I had at this Thing that was supposed to be Fun" start out with some variation on: "So I had these (insert unreasonable expectations)..." and end with "... I couldn't believe how awful it was! I am so surprised!" ... btw: I include myself in this comment upon humanity. It's true that expectations are the root of all disappointment, but I think that's kind of like saying being alive is the root of all hunger. True but not useful. Unreasonable, poorly educated or just plain damn picky expectations are the root of a lot of disappointment.
Last night I had a great idea and then immediately learned to my joy that someone had already done it.
Behold, Twilight, Lolcatz Vershun:


I wish I could go to this

But to all my fabulous friends in Vancouver who can possibly manage to go to this, I highly recommend it (if it's anything like the seminars were in New Orleans). Plus it's 1/3 the price.


Hopefully it will be just as raucous, fun, filled with boozahol (minus the copious drinking in the streets of course :( )

Christmas Hippos!

I have just uploaded pictures of our front lawn. The pictures are awful but the decorations are the best christmas decorations evar!

Please note the (jury-rigged) nose on the lead hippo, Rudolph.

Yes, that is oscar the under-represented christmas octopus riding the sleigh.


Nov. 11th, 2010

Look what they're doing in Port Moody!

(There's actually funnier fails up there, but this one just caught my eye because I know where it is)


My issue with NaNoWriMo

When it comes to NaNoWriMo, there is one arbitrary rule that I roundly reject. And I'm astonished to see that people across the internet don't notice this problem? Why is everyone such a sheep?

NaNoWriMo, the most effective tool of peer pressure to make me and thousands of others write 1667 words a day for 30 days has a rule that states:
You must start a new novel from scratch, not continue work on an existing work.

Their rather weak explanation for this is that you couldn't *possibly* have the necessary abandon to write that much if you already know the characters, the setting, if you obsess over plot points and it has to make sense or if you are (gasp, the worst sin!) EDITING!

No! Instead you must start fresh, abandon many good writer habits (plotting, thinking, editing, revising) in favor of JUST WRITING (which is, to be fair, the most important habit of all).

Well, I choose to reject this rule. I have rejected it every year so far and I have "won" twice and plan to do so again this year (and no this post does not count towards my word count. I'm just procrastinating right now).

The rule is not entirely misguided, but I believe it is aimed at a particular crowd, and I do not fall into that group.

First and foremost, this is a contest aimed at getting amateur writers over their fear of writing and their tendency to place writing in the realm of "some day". The contest urgest you to "just do it". Which is good and necessary advice for those new to writing.
(As an aside, though, I admit to being an elitist in Laura Miller's camp where she argues that most of these amateur writers just shouldn't do it because most of what they write is total crap and they'll write whether we want them to or not.)

But the thing is, writing 1667 words in a day really isn't that big a deal. "Real" published writers do it all the time and more. You have to if you're going to produce a book, rewrite, edit, revise and publish in a year.
So setting this up as the biggest thing EVAR is a little like a new runner running a 5k or a 10k. I'm not taking anything away from them. I'm still a pretty amateur, slow-ass runner. And when I started out running, 5k was a BIG DEAL. So is 10k. So was my first and only half marathon. But restricting NaNoWriMo to new work and proclaiming it such a huge deal is a bit like restricting a 10k race to only new runners. To experienced runners, that same 10k might be a good challenge, a goal to practice with, a way to self-motivate, but not the end-all be all of their running lives.

I choose to reject this arbitrary notion that in order to win NaNoWriMo your work must be entirely new.
Writing 50,000 NEW COHERENT WORDS on any large fiction or non-fiction work is a WIN.
Writing 50,000 new words on an existing document in a month is even harder and more fruitful. At the end of November I'd rather have a better edited mostly complete novel I care about than a half-novel of crap that I didn't want to write in the first place.

Again, I think it's the difference between people who've never tried this before and people who are more experienced. They should maybe have a secondary stream for people who've actually finished a novel before or who are published/have an agent/can write well. Perhaps you should have to be peer reviewed to be admitted into the professional stream. I would willingly put my prose up before an audience of my peers to prove it's not garbage. Then again, perhaps we should have intelligence tests before people are allowed to vote or breed. Perhaps I am arguing merrily for the path of eugenics...

My background: I have completed, edited and revised 4 novels, and am finishing/editing 2 more at present.
I have received critical positive reviews from professionals who are not my friends.
50,000 words doesn't scare me. What I need is the discipline to sit down and do this every day. That and nifty API widgets to see my word count.
And that's what NaNoWriMo gives me.

I'm not an absolute elitist. Anyone who wants to write, should. I applaud them for it. But to continue my analogy, just because I ran a half-marathon, I'm under no illusions that I can be a professional runner. I suck and I know it. I'm short, slow and lazy and always will be, even if I continue to run for my own pleasure.
Amateur writers shouldn't assume because they really like their own prose that they are good or can be professional. After you write a first draft, you need to be able to edit and have a critical eye on your own work, or you will always be an amateur. Which is fine. Just don't assume that anyone else will want to read it.

One other beef: 50,000 words isn't a novel. It's a novella. Or rather, it's just a round number that's achievable. So why the emphasis on half a novel of garbage?

Off and running


Movie Review

I just saw The Social Network and I am somewhat surprised to say that it exactly fit my expectations, though I was less annoyed by it than I expected to be.

That something should surprise me when it fits my expectations is the meta-nature of life.

The reason I didn't want to see it was that I expected to be reminded of a very unrealistic yet low level resentment that I still carry that I was there at the dot com boom, I lived in the Valley, in SF, passed by people who knew these people, went to those clubs and knew people who dated those people... made what was an astonishing amount as a free wheeling coder for a time... and yet somehow didn't manage to come away a dot com millionaire.
Unreasonable? Yes. But it's there.
But the movie didn't leave me with an overwhelming amount of personal resentment.

Instead, it was a bright, shining, whizzing display of Aaron Sorkin's too fast and too clever dialogue where women show up to make that very perspicacious emotionally driven comment at just the right time and men make clever witty remarks and then fuck each other over for millions of dollars.

I thought that implying rather unsubtlely throughout the film that the force behind Mark Zuckerberg's monomaniacal drive was his frustration with women, and/or his heartbreak over one woman. Even if that were true, men never admit that, not to themselves and certainly not to other men. It was too bad, because the portrayal of Zuckerberg as a blindingly intelligent but borderline Aspberger's savant did ring very accurate to me (I know many people like this, though much softer less assholely type people), so to lay the blame for a "nerd"'s behavior at the altar of trying to be cool with women does nerds, women and assholes all an injustice. I think people are a bit more complex than this.

Was it 97% tomato-meter fresh? No. Was it well done? Sure. D. agreed as both an accomplished coder and lawyer that while the tech and the law stuff was stretched at times (even without QA no one adds two fields, writes the UI, modifies the database schema, and writes the CRUD in 5 lines of code and 7 seconds)... but on the whole still reasonably accurate.

I'm still (again) not on facebook. And I'm not sorry.

And the one thing I learned from this movie was something I already knew. Start a company with women. Who fucks over a friend out of 30% of a company? Even if deserved... without *TALKING TO THEM FIRST?* Not the women I work with.
OK, I just reread that and realized it's pointlessly sexist: Not the men in my life either. Not real friends.
I guess I learned: Don't start a company with Mark Zuckerberg or Sean whatshishead Timberlake. Don't work with assholes.