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1.  NaNoWriMo’s End

kslukfzfpi0iqqg8bumeThe end of November is here, which means that NaNoWriMo’s end is in sight.  For me, working on the second book in my Thimblerig’s Ark series, this has been one of my most positive NaNoWriMo experiences.  I’m hoping to actually win early, which I’ve never done before!  Heck, I’ve only ever even won NaNoWriMo once, so this is doubly a good year for me.

What’s made this year different?  One thing:  writing in community.

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 1.27.40 PMThis year I’ve been writing in several communities:  First, there’s my class of 6th graders at QSI International School of Shenzhen.  Second, there are the handful of teachers at my school who are also writing.  Third, there’s my online community through the NaNoWriMo forums.  And fourth, surprisingly to me, there are the new friends I’ve made on Twitter by using #NaNoWriMo and #amwriting in some of my tweets.  What a difference it has made to be writing with others!

I especially want to acknowledge Jessica, one of my 6th grade students, who made it a goal from November 1 to keep up with me.  As of this posting, Jessica has written 46,168 words!  She’s 11 years old, folks, and she’s writing at the adult level – and it’s pretty good writing, to boot!  Jessica has spent many days ahead of me, and when she’s behind me she’s caught up quickly.  But the most important thing to me is that Jessica has kept me on my toes, which I needed.   Thinking about Jessica, the QSI teachers who are also pushing me to finish, and the new friends I made last weekend writing in Hong Kong, led me to create this Tolkien-inspired ode to NaNoWriMo community and friendship.

Nano Carry

It’s with great pleasure that I acknowledge that I will reach the top of Mt. Doom because of the efforts of these various communities, and the encouragement of others who are also making the climb.  Sometimes they’ve carried me, and sometimes I’ve carried them, but the best news is that we will reach the top and accomplish our goals.  Happy end of November, my NaNoWriMo communities!

2.  Benjamin Watson’s Response to Ferguson

14041417-standardLiving in China, I couldn’t be much farther away from the recent events in Ferguson, but I have been watching and paying attention.  I even gave up social media for a day when I realized how polarized my beloved home country had become because of the decision of the grand jury, and I’d grown weary of all the fighting.

And then this morning I came upon a viral Facebook post by Benjamin Watson, who plays tight end for the New Orleans Saints, and I thought it had to be one of the most reasonable and reasoned responses to those events that I’ve read anywhere.  I’m going to post his comments in their entirety, but you can read it here.

At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.

I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.

I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.

What a fantastic post, full of common sense and fairness.  And God bless Mr. Watson for that last paragraph, because that’s where he gets to the heart of the matter.  Well said, Mr. Watson!

3.  Jurassic Parks and Recreation Trailer

Like a lot of people my age, Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park and the Spielberg movie were both seminal pop culture experiences for me.  I remember reading the book on an airplane, and I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough.  And then Spielberg came along and made an amazingly satisfying film adaptation of Crichton’s fantastic novel.

When I heard that we were going to get a chance to return to Isla Nublar, I was hesitantly excited.  As is often the case with sequels, Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3: No Clever Subtitle were exponentially less interesting than the original, and so I had a hard time being fully on board with Jurassic World.

However, having now watched the trailer, I can admit that I’ve had a change of heart.  This movie looks like it will actually be pretty good!  And it has some things going for it. First of all, the movie stars current Nicest Guy In Hollywood, Chris Pratt, and I’ve never NOT enjoyed something that Chris has done.  Second, Mr. Spielberg is executive producing, and so he’ll 1384423664_chris_pratt_jurassic_parkhopefully help shepherd the film in the right direction (although he did also executive produce 3, so that’s not necessarily a plus).  Third, it appears that director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) has decided to mirror the feel of the original, which will hopefully mean we’ll have a fun ride in store for us when the film opens on June 15.

So, I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving!  And Thimblerig’s Interesting Things will be back again next week.

T.Hanksgiving

 

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