Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What to do about nothing?

Back in November, in my last Areaex post, I promised to describe the problems that accompany any attempt to build a suitable sequence of events. This post is dedicated to only one of these difficulties, and a relatively minor challenge at that. I'm trying to avoid overloading you right off.

The problem?

When dead verbiage gets in the way of a story.

In other words, I can create an absolutely lovely sequence of events, with great action and amazing interaction between the characters—but if it's not part of the story I'm telling, either it must die or part of the story dies.

I found one of these sections recently. Actually, I’ve been finding a lot—it seems to be the only thing I can do at the moment. With this particular selection, even though I liked how it fit into the story originally, once I changed an earlier scene, this 'encounter at an inn' became redundant. Worse, it began to impede the flow of the action. I killed it, therefore. Yes, I did it—mea culpa.

I thought briefly about posting the section here, so at least a few people could read it as a sort of literary obituary for dead writing.

Unfortunately, when I went back to look at it last, I realized it was very dead indeed, nearly as dead as a coffin nail, in fact. It has passed on, and it is far too dead to post here or anywhere else.

Rest in peace, poor dead verbiage.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Raining Logic

After trying to explain a logic concept this Wednesday—the truth value of conditional statements—I've been pondering the idea further.

According to the logic text, a conditional statement is true and valid if both halves are true (if it rains, then we will not have a picnic outside).

The conditional statement is also valid if neither half is true or if only the second half is true. There might be any number of causes, you see, that produce a certain result.

For example: in Oregon, if the sun shines, then it causes moisture to evaporate into the air and we get rain. Also, if the wind blows from the coast, then it brings moisture and we get rain. If the wind blows down the Columbia, it might bring cold weather and snow, but more likely we will get rain. And if the wind blows from the south, then it pulls all the moisture (which might otherwise have gone to California) north to Oregon and we get rain.

It's not raining at the moment, but that's not for lack of clouds.

Ultimately, our 40-year record flooding is just a minor blip on the national news, but it seems strange to watch this sort of major flooding occur almost in our backyard. If you have been watching our area, you’ve probably seen the photos. I think the strangest was the one of a metal swing-set that looks like a submerged fence-rail.

Then there are the paradoxes of nature:

In Oregon, it is possible to drive down a nearly dry road, while a dozen roads just three blocks away have been closed due to flooding.

It is also possible to drive down a nearly dry road while the McDonald's drive through right next to the road is flooded—been there, done that.

After it snows, it pours?

Monday, January 16, 2012


I bought my new camera—Saturday, just in time for the major winter snowfall in our area. We might have had a little more last year, but we aren’t complaining. In fact, while our temperatures are in the +30s, I just learned that the temperatures in Port Alsworth, AK, (where I worked last summer) are in the -30s. No, we really aren’t complaining.

The camera, incidentally, is a Nikon s8200. I picked it because I liked the format and the fact that it was on sale last week. It also has a 14x zoom and still fits into my purse, which is a major plus for me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Admitting Error

“Well, I didn’t understand that I had to…”

“Well, no one told me to…”

“No—no, I don’t need help.”

“I’m fine—no, I don’t have a meth problem.”

“I can handle it—I don’t need help.”

“I’d like to, but I don’t know if I have the time. I don’t know how I would get there. I can’t afford it.”

“Well, yes—last year I had a problem with it, but I don’t now. I’m fine now.”

No, I was not in court for any reasons relating to my own behavior—other than accepting a position as tutor to a homeschool co-op, that is, and going with my class on a field trip to visit the courthouse.

With no personal experience, I can’t say exactly what a defendant thinks as he’s called in and charged with an offense against the State. I can only imagine how hard it must be hard to stand in front of a judge and admit that you’ve not only messed up—you blew it. You stole, you lied, you drove when you were so drunk you saw aliens on the fence pole and tried to smash them with your flying saucer.

It must be very hard indeed, based on the responses I saw and the defendants’ utter unwillingness to admit an error—even when their lawyers urged them to take a plea bargain, even when the judge asked repeatedly whether they wanted probation and drug treatment to avoid prison time.

I can’t blame them. As humans, we don’t like to admit that we’ve done wrong. We prefer to shuffle our feet and say we can’t remember—no one told us the rules.

“Sin? I don’t have any sin. She—that woman you gave me—she was the one who did it.”

Unfortunately, we can’t ask forgiveness for sins we won’t admit.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Monsters on a Hike

Yes, we escaped from our last ramble. If you’re still waiting with baited breath to learn whether we arrive safely home after our visit to Paradise Creek—well, we made it.

The problem with safe escapes is that no one ever leaves well enough alone. We should have known better. We had all the warnings.

If it’s a dangerous business stepping out your front door, I shudder to think what dangers await a five-mile jaunt in the woods. Not just any woods, either.

We had only walked a short ways down the trail, you see, when we passed through the Gate. I hardly barely time to think “Narnia!” before the world blurred and we emerged into the far past.

Oops! Too late to go back. We could only hope to find our way out again.

In these woods, in the time of the far past, a person can find anything—at least, almost anything. You just have to look in the right places. We set out to find waterfalls, and we did. All along the trail, we saw hundreds of magnificent cascading streams.

We also found a few things we didn’t expect to see—waterfalls falling onto bridges, for example.

The most troublesome sight, though, were the monsters. What monster, you ask? There aren’t any monsters around.

Oh, yes there are—quite a few of them, in fact. Fortunately, my brother let me borrow his camera (I had nearly forgotten how much fun a camera is)…

We spotted the first giant just around the corner from the falls. The others crowded close behind.

We stayed on the path, though, and bypassed as many monsters as we couldn’t dodge. We also didn’t try to cross the Bridge to Nowhere on the island of nowhere in particular.

The road was long, the way hard, and it became tempting after a time to sit down and give up.

Not to mention that innumerable other doors beckoned us into other worlds, where the trees were far greener and the monsters more terrible…

enormous spidery creatures thrashing through the brush.

Oh—how did we get back? Very fortunately, toward the end of our journey, we arrived at the Net and made a successful time-travel trip back to the present (best described by Connie Willis in To Say Nothing of the Dog). So yes, we’re safely home again.

P.S. Should you happen to find yourself hereabouts, watch out for the sort of stray creatures that roam the woods at this time of year.