Archive for October, 2007

Time check

October 29, 2007

For posterity:

28 days overdue (+694:39:32)

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Rainbows End and the next social network

October 17, 2007

I’ve been on a Hugo Award winner kick of late. Just finished Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End and prior to that Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin. Science Fiction is not as I remember it. (To be honest, I was more a David Eddings, Stephen R. Donaldson, Terry Brooks kind of kid.) In particular, Rainbows End offers a glimpse of a very possible near future: the world’s populace connected by overlapping networks and near complete immersion in a computer generated virtual reality. I thought it was a terrific read. Then I read this Wired post that describes a similar, probable, scenario. The Wire post linked to Chris Messina’s blog and Tim O’Reilly’s, O’Reilly Radar, and several others, when all of the sudden, it occurs to me. Tracking one idea all over the place makes me tense. It’s great to create associations and all that (see how I slapped in some links there? It’s intentional to give you the same who-said-what experience). I’ll stick to reading the Hugo Award winning books where all the postulation is bound together in one location with pages that turn without a single mouse click.

16 days overdue (+396:46:00)

Rainbows End and the Next Social Network

October 17, 2007

I’ve been on a Hugo Award winner kick of late. Just finished Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End and prior to that Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin. Science Fiction is not as I remember it. (To be honest, I was more a David Eddings, Stephen R. Donaldson, Terry Brooks kind of kid.) In particular, Rainbows End offers a glimpse of a very possible near future: the world’s populace connected by overlapping networks and near complete immersion in a computer-generated virtual reality. I thought it was a terrific read. Then I read this Wired post that describes a similar, probable, scenario. The Wire post linked to Chris Messina’s blog and Tim O’Reilly’s, O’Reilly Radar, and several others, when all of the sudden, it occurs to me: tracking one idea all over the place makes me tense. It’s great to create associations and all that (see how I slapped in some links there? It’s intentional to give you the same who-said-what experience). I’ll stick to reading the Hugo Award winning books where all the postulation is bound together in one location with pages that turn without a single mouse click.

Don’t need sleep? Try Gingivostomatitis!

October 12, 2007

Our two-year-old son picked up gingivostomatitis, a wouldn’t-wish-this-on-anyone canker sore nightmare. It’s a virus little people can contract that causes raw, painful sores in the mouth and throat. Fortunately, it is unlikely he will experience this level of discomfort again. There is no medication to be prescribed. It’s a grin-and-bear it infection.

For our son, it was bad for six nights. The virus typically runs its course between 3-10 days with a chance of lasting up to 3 weeks. Janet and I traded off comforting the little guy. He was in pretty good spirits through the day, but at night…sheesh. He is finally on the mend, sleeping without howl or whimper for 8 hours.

In other familial/parental news, Janet and I started a positive discipline parenting course. Janet gets course credit, I get help with my Alfie Kohn issues. The class is based on the Adlerian approach to child development. The root tenant is encouragement to motivate and empower the child, rather than praise and instill a need for external approval. Or something like that. If you’d told me that I’d be sitting for two hours every Thursday in a portable classroom at the technical college…well, it’s just funny what being a parent does to a person.

I haven’t written a damn thing since September 29. Eleven days, 16 hours and some change past my deadline. What have I been doing? The Day Job has been at full throttle. Plus, I completed a side project for the Washington State math program. Grew and shaved a beard. Caught a cold. Watched and continue to enjoy Pushing Daisies. Watched and forgot about Life. Watched and rejected Bionic Woman. Then Netflix delivered Deadwood Season 3, Disc 5, and that’s been about it. On a side note, ever since Comcast pushed new software through to our Comcast DVR, our DVR records Alias for no apparent reason. We didn’t schedule it. We don’t want it, but boy, it sure is on A LOT. It will fill up the hard drive with ‘em.

See, this book writing is a very cerebral endeavor.

11 days overdue (+280:36:58)

And I thought I was writing fiction

October 2, 2007

I started writing my book during NaNoWriMo 2005 (specifically on November 5, 2005). I discovered the NaNoWriMo site because of a headline I saw on Google News (before the days of iGoogle and it’s time-evaporating excellence). It was the motivation I needed. I had my kernel idea: the sick and the scared. I was off like a rocket.

I wrote each night after the children had gone to bed and did my research during lunch at work. I researched viruses that cause the white of an eye to turn red. I found tuberculosis to fit. Tuberculosis can cause coughing fits violent enough to burst capillaries allowing blood to seep between the conjuntiva & sclera (the white) of the eye. With a little creative license, I could bend the traits of the virus to meet my storyline.

Then I found this December 2003 press release from the University of California at Berkeley. It turned out that during an experiment to test a latent strain of TB, the researchers created a mutant form more deadly than the counterpart.

“These findings came as a complete surprise to us,” said Dr. Lee Riley, professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health and principal investigator of the study.

The test was to disable a collection of genes believed to impair the pathogen’s efficacy. As they discovered, disabling the collection made the virus more deadly.

“This is one of the very few hypervirulent organisms ever created,” said Lisa Morici, a lead author of the study who received her Ph.D. in infectious diseases from UC Berkeley in May.

The premise of my book: Research continued, fueled by government paranoia and the race to patent genes for profit (tip of the hat to Michael Crichton’s Next) with catastrophic results. My novel, Strain, follows the lives of a small group of people as they struggle to survive after the collapse. The fragile peace of the frontier town is shattered with the arrival of the first healthy newborn since the outbreak. The town’s power brokers tear the town, and one another, apart to gain control of the child and his mother. The child and mother’s only chance for freedom and survival is with one man, the last uninfected person in town – an outsider who lives in the shadows in fear of the virus, but who will risk everything to…

You get the idea.

Then today, I read this article on Wired listing the unnerving system and protocol failures at our nation’s laboratories handling the deadliest viruses and toxins known to man.

“It may be only a matter of time before our nation has a public health incident with potentially catastrophic results,” said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich.

Even with all the research I’ve done, the story still gave me the shivers. It was as if Wired had plugged into my back story. Crazy.

So I need to finish the first draft. I’ve eclipsed 70,000 words with my ending in site. I took the last several days and nights to track down where everyone is in the story. I really needed to get my head around all the threads to test their strength; found a couple of weak ones and gave ’em a tug. Found a lot of strong ones and felt much better.

I’m overdue on my October 1 deadline, but I did manage to create a story that is tense and well crafted. The second draft is going to be just as challenging, but with the solid foundation, the finish work should go smoothly.

Fingers crossed.

2 days overdue (48:47:30)