Monday, November 21, 2005

new world, a little braver

I did something today that I've have never done before, something I did not picture myself doing any time soon. I accepted an invitation to present a workshop at the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference. This is not the first time I have been invited to present at a conference but it is the first time I have even remotely considered it, let alone accepted.

I am not a public speaker. I tend to avoid presentations like the plague. I am not by nature a brave person. I am more likely to calculate a risk than to take one. But today my world was a little braver.

Several months ago I was having dinner with a friend who challenged me on my “no public speaking ever” policy. They suggested that I was squandering my skills, that I had the ability and simply refused to use it. I guess that’s stayed with me. When I received the invite the other day, those were the first words that ran through my head. I had to stop and think, “Am I really doing that? Just sitting here on something and refusing to do anything with it?” Scary thought.

Earlier today I read a quote that said simply “Don’t let what you can’t do stand in the way of what you can.” So I bit the bullet. I made the call. I put myself on the list of presenters for OCW Conference.

Brave new world indeed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

one for the books

I have discovered a new author to add to my list. I picked-up a Ken Follet novel at the grocery store last week-end because I was desperate. I got home Friday night only to realize that I had left the book I was reading on my desk at work and I can't be without a book. I get jittery. I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Whiteout but I was very pleasantly surprised. This past Saturday I grabbed a copy of Code to Zero and judging by the fact that it's now Tuesday and I'm finished, I'd say it was pretty good too.

I did a little research on Ken and it turns out he's quite a prolific writer. I found almost two shelves of his books at the used bookstore in town. I grabbed three novels hoping to have enough for my upcoming trip. If the other books are this good I may have to go back and restock.

It's a relief to find that there are so many books to choose from. I've read all of Michael Crichton. Maeve Binchy has retired. Tami Hoag's publishers seem determined not to release Kill the Messenger in paperback and I've read all the others. Pat Conroy's work is brilliant but he got married a few years back and the resultant happiness appears to have left him with nothing to write about. Ken Follet has written about twenty novels. Should keep me in pages for a while.

Friday, November 11, 2005

sempre fidelis

Never forget.

Every year on Remembrance Day I read two poems. "In Flanders Fields" is the obvious choice. The other one I read is a less well known poem by Wilfred Owen "Dolce et Decorum Est". Both speak of war in the voices of those who've been there.

I particularly like the ending of "Dolce et Decorum" which wisely points out that if we truly understood how horiffic war is we wouldn't be so quick to encourage young boys that "it is good and sweet to die for one's country." It is not good, or sweet. It is horrific and heroic and I dearly wish that it was never, ever necessary. But we do not live in a world of wishes. And although I cannot really comphrehend it, there have been those men and women who have stood up and said "I'll go." Sempre fidelis, always faithful. Never forget.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

sushi haiku

While enjoying some delicious sushi at lunch I was inspired to participate in ancient Japanese poetry form of haiku. You'd think that sushi would lend itself well to haiku but it's really hard to get the 6 syllable "California roll" into haiku's strict 5-7-5 syllable form. Still I did come up with this:

Veggie rolls are good
but teriyaki maki
is more fun to say.

Silly I know, but it's a word game and therefore fun. Wanna try?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

the future is friendly

Full points to Future Shop for providing excellent service. I went on a digital camera recon mission last night and was very pleasantly surprised by my experience. I quickly discovered that the feature I really wanted, a variable angle LCD display, was about $100 out of my price range but there was still plenty to choose from. I pointed out the Kodak Z740 that I came into the store to see and expressed a concern that it might be too much camera for a first foray into digital photography. The salesgirl agreed that it probably wasn't the best choice and proceeded to ask some really good questions about what I was looking for. I asked for a recommendation and she pointed out a camera of comparable price with a better range of features. Feeling well informed I asked her to write down the model number and headed off to store #2.

My second stop of the night was another big box store and WOW here was the cocky and remarkably unhelpful "help" I was expecting from a big electronics store. I went straight to the midrange cameras as before and picked up the Kodak hoping to attract some help. Over came the camera guy. He didn't know anything about the Kodak expect that it was "kinda big" and when I asked for a recommendation he choose a camera $100 more expensive than the one I had been looking at. He told me how easy it was to use and then couldn't turn it on. Seriously. For about 5 minutes. I asked a few questions about shutter delay and he had no idea. I asked him to write down the model # and he couldn't find a pen. It just didn't get any better after that.

So no points for guessing where I'll be shopping, and well done Future Shop. Looks like the future is friendly after all.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

half a post

I've been thinking about community this week. On Tuesday one of the guys in my small group said "The only way you can have an influence in someone's life is if you care about them and they know it." It's been rattling around in my head ever since being chased by a line from an Amos Lee song that says:

Sometimes we forget who we've got,
Who they are, and who they are not.

Now here it is almost a week later and I still don't have the rest of this thought. The two quotes are still running around in my head and I still find myself thinking about the roles of the people in my life (and my role in theirs.) I haven't finished thinking about it yet. I don't have the rest of this thought or even the rest of this post. So I'm posting this half a post now as a placeholder for myself. When the thought finishes itself I hope to be able to post the other half.