Monday writing wire - Svengoolie edition

What I'm reading

These days I always have one audio book, one tree book, and one ebook in progress, all at the same time. I wonder if I should seek professional help... nah!

Currently I'm listening to The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, which is about the University of Washington rowing team and their quest for gold at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. I had heard a lot of good things about this book, and it ought to have had some interest for me since I went to UW for several years, and also rowed for about half a year (unfortunately, I then decided I was more interested in partying)--but I avoided reading it because despite being a fitness dork, sports stories generally aren't my bag. Then a friend gave me the audio book (through Audible's One Book program), so I started listening--and was drawn in right away to the story that weaves the struggles of a United States caught up in the Great Depression, the burgeoning power of Hitler's Germany, and the fight of nine rowing underdogs from Washington to compete in the Olympics. The book goes into extensive detail about the training and races leading up to the Olympics as well as personal details of people's lives; if I were reading a print version, I think it might verge on too much information--but the narrator makes it all exciting, despite the fact that we already know the outcome.

My current tree book is Dersu the Trapper. Between 1902 and 1930, Russian naturalist, ethnographer and explorer Vladimir Arseniev made twelve expeditions to the Siberian Far East and wrote many books, but this one (published in 1941) occupies a special place in Russian literature, telling the story of his friendship with Dersu Uzala, a native trapper from the Goldi tribe. If you've ever watched "Survivorman" or "Man Vs Wild"--well, that was just normal everyday life for Dersu, an expert hunter, tracker and survivor who became a guide for Arseniev and his men, and whose knowledge and expertise saved their lives numerous times. His was a dying breed, even back then. Akira Kurosawa made an awesome film version of the story; there's also an earlier and lesser-known Russian film version, which I'd love to get my hands on.

In the world of ebooks, I recently finished Lock In by John Scalzi. It's a great old-school science fiction story in the tradition of Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick, coupled with Scalzi's trademark snarky humor and a really intriguing premise. Due to a contagious disease called Haden's Syndrome, 1% of the population has been rendered "locked in"--alive and fully aware, but unable to move their bodies. Technology has responded to allow the "Hadens", as they're called, to fully participate in society. This includes robot bodies (called "threeps" in honor of C3PO) and a virtual community known as the Agora. In addition to the Hadens, there are also people called Integrators, whom the virus did not lock in, but instead gave them the ability to let others "borrow" their bodies. When a murder occurs and the #1 suspect is an Integrator, rookie FBI agent Chris Shane, who happens to be a Haden, is assigned to the case. It's an entertaining, thought-provoking, and highly readable tale.

What I'm writing

I recently passed the 50,000 word mark on The Free City. There's a light at the end of the tunnel! Hopefully it's not an oncoming train... har har. As I've mentioned more than once on this blog, summer is my most productive writing time because of the Sekrit Picnic Table at my work place. When it starts getting cold out, I have to retreat to my car or other places, and as I work in the stupid suburbs, most other places require driving, which eats into my lunch hour of writing time. So right now, as we head into October, I've been starting to get antsy because I've been on such a roll and I want to keep it up. 

What else I've been doing

The hubs and I recently made a trek out to one of those pumpkin-patch, hayride, fun farm type places so that we could meet Svengoolie. A Chicagoland favorite who recently went national & can be seen on MeTV, he's the host of the "Svengoolie" program which shows horror and science fiction movies, interspersed with funny skits and parody songs. We got a photo with him, as well as an autographed pic. Too cool!

Rubber chickens of the world, unite!

Rubber chickens of the world, unite!

What's inspiring me right now

This Saturday, my friend Sue and I did a half-marathon length "Cheapskate Ruck" which took us a little more than halfway around Lake Geneva, WI. There is a path which allows you to follow along the entire lakeshore, usually through people's back yards (and there are some palatial mansions there with enormous back yards!). We called it a Cheapskate Ruck because we had originally intended to sign up for a trail half-marathon and ruck it, but we're too cheap to pay the $85 entry fee, so we decided to make up our own event and spend the $ on beer and food afterward. Next time we'll walk around the whole lake (about 22 miles).

Me in front of some random boat docks.

Me in front of some random boat docks.

Just rucking through somebody's back yard.

Just rucking through somebody's back yard.

Along with some other folks from my gym, I'll be participating in "The Frozen Otter", a 24-hour, 64 mile race in the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. That's right, 64 miles in 24 hours. In January. It's a very tough race and only 1/4 of the participants finish. I know, I'm insane... but it's not just me. Other people are insane too. That makes it less insane... right? Brrr!

Last but not least, Real Mail is always an inspiration :)

Thanks for helping me keep the old ways alive!

Thanks for helping me keep the old ways alive!

i made a picture frame

Forgot to post about this before, but I spent most of the 4th of July weekend making this frame for my Bataan Memorial Death March certificate, photo & dog tag (with a lot of help from the hubs), out of some pieces of walnut he had lying around in the shop. We cut the mat, cut the glass, prepared the wood to be all the same thickness using a joiner, planer & table saw, cut the rabbet & a small profile using hand planes, cut the miters, cut biscuit joints & glued the frame together, sanded it, then applied 2 coats of Danish oil, & finally put in the contents & added a wire on the back. It was a *lot* of work & it ain't perfect but I'm super stoked at how it came out. 

BataanPictureFrame.jpg

If you're wondering what all the stuff in this picture frame is, go read My Big Bataan Post.