Another Novel Writing Month?

National Novel Writing Month begins tomorrow and for some reason I have a burning desire to do it again—a desire that took shape today. I had a lot of fun last year, so it’s not like it’s a bad thing. But it is a big commitment and I don’t want to approach it half-heartedly.

My big problem is what to write about. Last year I didn’t know the plot, but I did know the characters, the setting, the time period and a vague sense of where the plot might go. Basically I had enough pieces to get started, but enough left unresolved that the story could unfold on its own.

So far this year I’ve got nothing. Part of me wants to just pick some interesting characters and a pseudo-plot and go with it. The result would be some sort of character-driven drama type piece like I wrote last year. That’s what I enjoy reading, and I think that’s what would be fairly do-able to write. I’m sure each story would have its own challenges, but I’ve done that before and I know I can do it.

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Free Burritos at Chipotle

Dress like a burrito and get a free burrito at Chipotle today. It’s part of their “boo-rito” Halloween special. I did it two years ago with my all-out burrito costume and I did it today with tin foil wrapped around my thumb–a “mini burrito.”

And if you live in the Twin Cities I’d highly recommend the Grand Ave. location. For some reason they never have a crowd. I didn’t even have to wait in line, which sure beats the out-the-door line you usually find at the Highland Park location.

What’s My Blog Worth?

AOL bought Weblogs Inc. for around $25 million. So what’s my blog worth? Leave it to the web to give us the answer. Plug in your url and this site will tell you how much your blog is worth based on the same links to dollars ratio as the Weblogs deal. So what are the blogs I write for worth?

I also thought it’d be fun to look at some of the blogs I read:

It doesn’t mean much, but it’s still fun.

Heating our Home this Winter

Well, I finally broke down and turned on the heat. It was 55 degrees in our living room this morning and the dogs kept shivering. Last year we turned on the heat October 5 and the year before that it was September 29, so I’m really amazed we lasted this long.

But with natural gas prices expected to be 150% higher this year I’m not looking forward to paying for that heat. We’ve tried to better insulate our front door and we’ll be putting plastic on our living room window to try to minimize the heat loss. We’ll also be relying on candles, down blankets, the laptop, lap dogs, layers, slippers, baking and just about anything else to keep warm and minimize those triple digit heating bills.

Welcome back to Minnesota winters.


My friend Neals has a post on nicknames. Apparently he doesn’t like them, even the seemingly innocuous Neals. It made me think about some of the nicknames I’ve been called in my life and some of the nicknames I’ve used for others.

With the exception of a few playground taunts, I think most nicknames are terms of endearment. It shows a certain affection and familiarity that I have my own name for you, or a name I share with a close group of friends. Sometimes it’s not the affection you’re looking for or it’s not something you’re particularly proud of, but I think nicknames are evidence of a bond.

I was Nevinin in fourth grade and hated it, though I secretly wanted to ask that girl to dance in sixth grade. I was Jimi in high school, which I grudgingly accepted, though at first I didn’t get it. I was the Jammin’ K-Man to my air guitar buddy Adam, a nickname that came from many Friday night air guitar sessions to Petra.

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Runaway Dog

Today when the Simon Delivers man came with our groceries both dogs bounded out the door. Speak actually stopped to jump all over the Simon man, but Mazie noticed the gate was open and bound down the driveway towards the street and freedom.

When my calls didn’t even phase her I rushed back into the house, leaving the Simon man holding Speak, grabbed the entire treat jar in the kitchen and booked out the front door to cut Mazie off.

I came out the door to see her chasing some poor girl on rollerblades and my sharp cry of “Mazie!” actually made her turn around, though I imagine it was the sound of the treat jar I was shaking that made her come back.

I scooped her up in my arms and rushed her back inside, amazed that she didn’t wriggle free, all while the rollerblade girl laughed. I set Mazie and the treat jar down, not together, noticed that Speak was already calmly back in the kitchen despite the fact that the back door was still wide open, and went outside to get my groceries, firmly shutting both dogs inside.

The Simon man didn’t even register the high drama that just took place. I hate to imagine what could have happened. Is this what being a parent is going to be like, only ten times worse?

The really funny thing is that whenever Mazie escapes the confines of the backyard unleashed (it’s happened once before) she makes a mad dash for anything and everything. She’s like a rocket missing a fin, whizzing about in every direction. The few times I remember Speak escaping he just strolled along the driveway in no hurry to get nowhere in particular.

Where Does the Time Go?

October is more than halfway over. Bah. Where does the time go?

The last few months have been a blur, a very busy blur. I haven’t blogged as much as I like to, I’m drowning in e-mail, and I’m drowning in projects. I feel like there’s a bit of a light coming, but it’s a long ways off. On the e-mail front, I did manage to clean one box out last week, but another is still out of control. On the blog front I’ve got so many entries stacking up it would take days to finish them all. On the project front I finished a big one last week, which is a relief, though a much bigger one kicked into high gear today. As stressful as that should be, it feels like more of a relief. At least that’s how I feel now. I think it feels like a relief because kicking into high gear means it will eventually have an ending, and that means I can say this too shall pass.

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Apple’s Video iPod & iTunes Video Downloads

The new video iPodJust when you thought the iPod Nano was incredibly cool, Apple tops it with a new video-capable iPod. We knew it was only a matter of time, but now it’s here.

The new iPod still comes in 30 and 60 GB varieties, now they offer black in addition to white, and they boast a capacity of 15,000 songs, 25,000 photos or 150 hours of video and up to 20 hours of battery life. You can also hook that bad boy up to your TV with an optional S-video cable. And if you turn to the new iTunes 6.0 you can download music video and entire episodes of TV shows, like the latest episode of Lost the day after it debuts on TV.

This all sounds incredibly sweet, but before we get too excited let’s take a reality check.

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Movable Type 3.2 PHP Problems

If you’ve had problems viewing my blog or commenting the past week or so, it should be fixed now. It was an odd problem with the new Movable Type 3.2 upgrade I installed and my .php files not working properly.

After using it for a week, I still really like the new features, though I’m not as thrilled with the comment protection. I still don’t understand how it works, which means I have a hard time tweaking it to make it work better. MTBlacklist seemed to be more straight forward. I suppose it is saving me time–I just wish it was saving me more time.

Waiting Around After Vandalism

You know, I was really starting to miss these late night trips to the King CDC everytime the security alarm goes off. Good to be back. In blog form.

My wife is a teacher at the King CDC, a daycare center operated by Bethel University in a building owned by the Union Gospel Mission in Frogtown, a low income neighborhood of St. Paul. About a year ago there were break-ins and vandalism all the time. A rock thrown through a window, people carting off really crappy boomboxes, people trying to steal sub-standard printers. Fun stuff.

After a while they installed a security system, which helped. Of course it hardly stops someone from breaking a window for fun. It happened again tonight, and the security company started calling people on the list. The call finally came to us and we came down to check it out. Talked to the cop, called the right people, and now we’re waiting for someone to come board up the window. And I’m blogging.

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