Absence Makes Blogs Shorter

Brick has been sporadic for some weeks. With luck, it will be more active in December.

National Novel Writing Month
National Novel Writing Month

Want an excuse? How about National Novel Writing Month. It’s 50,000 words to create a first draft of a novel (around a 200-page book) in 30 days. November is the one. My third try, and I went past 50,000 by midnight Nov. 30. It contains parts that might work as a beginning, climaxes and conclusions for the end, and scene upon scene to fill the middle. It will take another year or three to revise it to where I could show a savvy friend. The surprise for me is that I thought I’d be creating characters from people I know, but the cast is amazingly fictional.

So that explains November. What about only 10 postings in six months? There’s explanations and excuses. But why not look forward? Besides, my self-editing prevented real junk from littering the shoulder of the Information Highway. Even if that never bothers other people.

Isn’t that always the case on the road?

Turning the Economy Takes Time

Apparently, it’s not just the banks.

It’s not just the automakers.

Not just the newspapers.

This, from today’s Wall Street Journal:

Shoppers continue to pare back spending even on basic household staples, resulting in lower-than-expected sales for Procter & Gamble Co. and Colgate-Palmolive Co. The consumer-products giants are responding by raising prices to keep profits from plunging.”

Ellen Byron’s article goes on to say that consumers increasingly are buying private-label (store) brands, or cheaper brand names: P&G’s Gain and Luvs are bought instead of its Tide and Pampers, respectively.

But increasing prices as the solution? The Journal continues:

Analysts said higher prices could backfire.”

Analysts, go to the head of the line.

Blog, Column Contest Ends Sunday

The 2009 deadline of a long-running column-writing contest, now open to bloggers, is less than a week away. Entries for the seven categories of the annual contest of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists need to have a postmark — or time-stamp — of Sunday, March 15.

Five of the categories are traditional: humor and general-interest columns published in either large or small newspapers, with the fifth being for items or “dot-dot-dot” columns. This year the NSNC has broadened the online column category to pieces published on any Web site, not just those of newspapers. Blogs have been added for the seventh category. Sample columns must have been published or posted in 2008. Rules and the entry form can be downloaded here.

Not the usual Brick, eh? I’m just giving a shout-out to folks who might be interested. As a matter of fact, I have submitted a blog and a online-column entry and fees for both. I know I’ll get beat, but I want to lose to the best, and that’s possible only with millions and millions of competitors. Come get me.

On the Wall

Should I get back into more frequent or even regular Brick postings, it will be in part because of waking today to an image of the artistic caveman.

It may have been the last scene of an otherwise forgotten dream, or just an isolated visual, conjured just before sitting up.

The fellow chooses a charred stick from the previous night’s cook fire. On the wall of his cave, above his bed of leaves, are his life’s works.

“Another day, another antelope,” he grunts.

I’m just saying, I’m just saying

Copyright 2008 Ben S. Pollock

An evaluation of the run-off candidates for mayor of Fayetteville, Arkansas. The election is Tuesday the 25th, and early voting is under way. Though not today: The courthouse is closed.

Brick never makes endorsements. Still, comments I’ve avoided should be made. The incumbent Dan Coody wants a third four-year term and faces a surprisingly strong battle from Alderman Lioneld Jordan. I have good friends who strongly and publicly support both. I respect both guys, but an analysis does cost one of them. In a quote that from the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction, in a rather different context, “I’m just saying, I’m just saying.”

I like the way Fayetteville has been run the last almost-eight years, Dan Coody having been first elected mayor in November 2000. Yes, I’ve only lived in the city since January 1999. The balance of residential development and retail growth with environmental concerns and, crucially, the aesthetic and cultural interests of a full-tilt college town was shaky before January 2001 and has been smooth since. Fayetteville is not simply a home to a large land-grant liberal-arts university with well-educated faculty and sophisticated support staff — a major employer. This is also a city that in recent elections, where party affiliation is declared, consistently votes Republican or the more-conservative Democrat (with exceptions largely among state legislators).

Here is a personal story about incumbent Dan Coody. In the first months of his tenure, Dan effusively greeted me, as well as My Beloved, anytime we ran into him. I was a city editor at The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas with a weekly column. At the end of 2001, a time of national economic tremors (mild compared to the current), I was downsized. A few times in 2002 MB and I were at public events also attended by Coody, and he no longer made a beeline to shake our hands. He even looked past us or through us. Though still a voter, I no longer was a player. I’ve been a journalist for nearly three decades so while this took me by surprise, it did not shock me. I returned to newspaper work in 2003, and after Coody saw me in the newsroom of the Northwest Arkansas Times — he is an official who “happens to drop by” such offices regularly — we were back to the hi-how-are-yous.

Vice Mayor Lioneld Jordan represents Ward 4, wherein lies the manse Shady Hill of MB and myself. In 2005 I was on the board of Temple Shalom of Northwest Arkansas, which at the time was shopping for a property on which to establish a house of worship. The first serious contender for a home was opposed by its neighbors, an issue that came before the City Council. I contacted both Ward 4 delegates. Only Jordan returned my call. He wanted to know the whole story; Continue reading

The Server Ate September

OK, kids, here’s a lesson — back up even files other entities are saving for you. Here’s what I learned from my service, Hosting Matters:

The primary drive on this server failed over the weekend, and all sites were restored [on Sept. 22] from the last error-free backup, from Aug 29, which would account for both the stats and content gaps.”

Missing from the message were both an official or informal apology and a promise that steps are being taken to prevent this admittedly rare occurrence — never in the four years I’ve used this company — from happening again, or if it does that the most recent automatic back-up be one week or 10 days, not nearly a month.

I had drafts — minus varying amounts of polish, and all the hyperlinks — of the month’s three Brick essays in my Mac’s trash, which I deliberately don’t empty very often. Just in case.