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About Merkin

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    Virginia USA
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    breathing in...breathing out

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  1. Can't agree to writing off Joe Biden. Seems to me 78 is the new 56 in this modern era of medical advancement. (At least I hope so.) Joe Biden is one of the few seasoned pro politicians left with blue collar roots and an expert understanding of how Washington works. He just might be able to pull this fractured nation back toward the center.
  2. I did that burnout routine once upon a time myself, Jason. You've got to back off it, delegate, divide the workload. Easy to say, very very hard to do, but sanity is at stake here.
  3. I am glad to see this pushback catching on. It is high time that headmasters and head teachers stopped thinking that they are almighty god and started thinking about the welfare of students in their charge.
  4. Do you have a link for this, Joe? Although the Scots solved this problem centuries ago, they continue to make the mistake of using wool instead of cotton.
  5. I, too, have come to enjoy those wonderful advantages of word processing, now that I have taught myself how to use all the features. But, like my initial hand-made drafts, the last step for me is as Rutabaga says, to print it out and do my final edits manually. The formatted and printed page can reveal many a slip between hand and keyboard (and also shows how dumb-ass automatic spelling correction is). Correcting the printout also gives me the opportunity to read my final versions aloud, to catch errors in rhythm and pace and awkward construction. If something leaves me tongue-tied and bewildered as to who is saying what to whom, then I can safely bet the next reader will be just as confused and something needs fixing.
  6. As a lifelong devotee of writing draft manuscripts with a pen on a ruled tablet, then correcting by hand, before (nowadays) entering a more polished draft into my word processing program, I was struck by coming across these comments by famed novelist Ian McEwan. How many of you, if any, still write anything by hand? Or do you start everything out on your keyboards? I had thought my way was the more intimate and trustworthy way to relate to my wordsmithing, but Mr. McEwan has a persuasive argument that I think I would do well to consider: When asked how his writing process has changed with the onset of technology, McEwan answered: "In the seventies I used to work in the bedroom of my flat at a little table. I worked in longhand with a fountain pen. I'd type out a draft, mark up the typescript, type it out again. Once I paid a professional to type a final draft, but I felt I was missing things I would have changed if I had done it myself. In the mid-eighties I was a grateful convert to computers. Word processing is more intimate, more like thinking itself. In retrospect, the typewriter seems a gross mechanical obstruction. I like the provisional nature of unprinted material held in the computer's memory - like an unspoken thought. I like the way sentences or passages can be endlessly reworked, and the way this faithful machine remembers all your little jottings and messages to yourself. Until, of course, it sulks and crashes." (McEwan's comments are from The Writers’ Almanac for 6/21/17)
  7. Good one, James. (tress = trees, right?) In my neighborhood the sound of summer is backhoes.
  8. Yeah. Who knew he was using some other kid's picture all this time.
  9. Well said, Joe.
  10. Thanks Chris R for that wonderful bit of film, it brought a tear to my eye. I wasn't there in SF in '77 for Gilbert's unveiling, but as soon as we learned of the flag here in the east we embraced it. I remember thinking 'That's what Dorothy would have wanted for us!'.
  11. Peter, I’ll second what Cole said above, and add my bit. As an ‘old codger’ I’ve been there and done that, and have experienced all the various angsty moments you’ve described so well. But as with most brooders, I’ve come to wince at stories that dwell on the dark side, since my own particular brand of escapism demands hopeful moments and small fulfillments throughout to hold my attention. I’d like to experience your protagonist succeeding pretty soon at something besides an aesthetic moment, and I’d like your story to be involved, also pretty soon, with another, contrasting, character. Maybe even a teen. Not too much to hope for, I trust? (BTW, with 18-inch grass, I’d hire some kid in a heartbeat to hack at it). James
  12. I think so too. Actually, this was the first story written by Cole I ever read, back in 2005 on Nifty. I remember vividly that I read the first chapter when it appeared and thought that was the whole story and I just sat and wept. It was only later that I caught on that it was a serial story so wrote and berated Cole for making me wait for more. He gently suggested I look at his other three stories (!!) to pass the time, and that led me to “8th Grade”, “Prom”, and “Tim”. By then I was hooked, and have resigned myself to waiting endlessly for new Cole Parker chapters ever since.
  13. I want an Aide like that! If Cole would be so kind as to pass on the name of that hospital, I want to book a room. I'll even walk there if I have to.
  14. It is possible that the world could be saved by twelve year-olds like this young man. Perhaps we should give the vote only to pre-teens, before their idealism is shattered by hormones.
  15. Good news: Geron Kees has written a sequel to Thrift Shop Nation, "The Second Time Around", posted over on IOMfAtS as an entry in a competition there. Your vote for it would no doubt be appreciated.