Holidays + Zombie Apocolypse = ....

I had originally intended to continue the look forward to 2011 (literally. Time travel will work. I found how on the Internets.), but then I discovered some vital information on Slice of the Blog Pie.

Good thing, too, because I have some cooking and baking left to do this holiday season.  I would have been woefully unprepared without this instructional video.  I'm reposting it here, so you can learn too. And remember - knowing is half the battle.


2011, Part II: Writing.

It's hard to pin down when I 'became' a writer, but it's something I've taken seriously for the last few years.  2011 will be no different.

One of the things I could not bring myself to do is submit work for publication this past year.  There are a couple of reasons why.  The biggest one is that I don't feel like I'm ready.  I have a lot to learn - an incredible amount to learn.  I churn out a bunch of words, and then I edit and edit and edit until it sounds ok, but not right.  But, here's the secret.

I don't really know what I'm doing.


2011, Part I: Races/Training.

Yeah... it is cold out there.
After the recap post from 12/26, I've been thinking a lot about changes. Goals.  Things I can hold up as motivation on mornings like today, when I sat in my car outside the Athletic Club, hunched over a mug of green tea while the wind whipped around my car and I wondered why I hadn't stayed in bed.

It's all about the motivation.  

That, and I wanted to test out my shiny new New Balance jacket.  I was kind of toasty once we hit mile 3.

That having been said, I've picked three major goals to carry me through the year:


Year In Review...

"You don't know where you're going if you don't know where you've been."

I looked for the original source for this quote, and came up with the following: cliche, 'old saying', 'they', and even Will Smith as 'Hitch' (though, unfortunately, I couldn't verify that).

Like crop circles or the origin of that plate of cookies in the conference room... just because I don't know where it comes from, doesn't make it less relevant/interesting/delicious.

Accumulation of food in said conference room.  Winter, 2010.

Cliche or not... this time of year, it makes sense to look back at what I've accomplished before I sit down and decide where I want to go.


One fish.. two fish... seven fish??

Don't be fooled by the Irish name; my mother's side of the family is Italian.  Extremely Italian.  Italian enough that I wish I remembered my grandparents, because I'm sure I would have loved them. 

Periodically I try to get in touch with my Italian roots.  I took an Italian class at HCC, but one evening a week after work is a really difficult way to learn a language.  I sometimes cook Italian - not just pasta and sauce, but regional favorites that usually end up just... amazing.  

And my family has some Italian traditions.

One of those is the Feast of the Seven Fishes, on Christmas Eve.


Ghost of Christmas-- zOMG!!!

I try to get my workouts in during the early morning, before work.  Really early.  Waking at 4:45am early.  

Getting up at that hour does take some adjustment.

It took me about three months to get on a consistent schedule, where I wasn't sleeping through the alarm.  This requires a few things...

  • Consistency... when I'm training regularly, I get up by 8 even on the weekends.
  • An early bedtime... to prevent Mo-Zombie mode. (like a normal zombie, only instead of brains I want "sleeeeep...")
  • Packing ahead... to cut down on the amount of thinking I have to do in the early morning hours.
I cut back the frequency of my workouts after the marathon, and recently returned to my normal schedule. Because I've failed in consistency (currently re-establishing the pattern) and the early bedtime (this also requires an adjustment in habit), for the last week or two the zombie-ness has been a little worse.  

But I found an unexpected cure last Friday.


Flash + Mob = Fun


There was a flash mob at the Columbia Mall tonight.

And who was there?  This girl.

And about three hundred other people. 

All of whom were enthusiastic, energetic, and really nice. What a great community. (hocoblogs@@@)

The Flash Mob's already hit the airwaves courtesy of HoCoMoJo (who in part organized the event), HoCoRising, A Tale of Two Cities, and Columbia Patch. (Full Disclosure... I wrote the account for the Columbia Patch. David caught the great video)

I'll add in more links as they come out, to the bottom of the post.

To my surprise, I found out this was not the first time Columbia had been flash mobbed. How had I missed the Michael Jackson tributes of 2009??

I do have to say, the experience was pretty awesome. Thank you so much to Erinn at Something Else to Distract Me for spreading the word, I had a great time with her and Cindy at Thoughts From a Swimmer

And of course, thanks to the organizers of this event - Pam Land and and Sally Livingston from HCPSS, and the Bittners from HoCoMoJo.

Cindy, Erinn, and Mo at the rehearsal for the Flash Mob Event of 2010.

HoCoMoJo's Video of the flash mob

Updated links (12/24):

  • Check out the preview post on Something Else to Distract Me. And here's her full recap - great breakdown of the whole event.
  • HoCoRising does a nice recap post along with Thursday Links.
  • Conversation about the flash mob with a bystander (and Queen Anne's Pretzels) on Tale of Two Cities.

Did you see the flash mob? Did you participate? Tell me about it in the comments below!


Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest

A holiday post inspired by Erinn at Something Else to Distract Me.  Blogfest brought to you by Unedited and Through the Looking Glass!

The Rules:

  1. Blog Post to be posted on December 20th (whatever time you desire)
  2. Show pictures of your decorations, holiday lights & Christmas tree!
  3. Share your favorite treat (Recipe included, chance for others to steal the yumminess!)
  4. Share your favorite drink (Recipe included, chance for others to steal the alcohol – or non)
  5. Last but not least… visit others!!! Take part in their holiday cheer!


Call me Writer.

During my internet travels recently, I read something interesting. And because I can no longer recall the source (I really, really wish I could)... I'm going to resort to clumsy paraphrasing.

The person said that a writer should introduce himself or herself as a writer. Not as an aspiring writer.  Not as a bartender.  Not as a sales clerk.  Not as a graduate student or anything else, but as a writer.  

The point was that when I say "I am a writer," I'm actualizing that goal. I'm making it a reality.

At least, I am if I say "I am a writer" and I actually write.  That is sort of key.

But when that's offered as a career, there are questions that come along with it.


Food versus Food: O come, all ye Bagels.

That's right, it's Friday! Time for Happy Hour.  The Weekend. And (most importantly) Food versus Food!

Last week I sidelined my plans in favor of the Battle of the Beef, which was quite tasty! Now is the promised Bagel Edition of FvF.

First, a word about bagels.  I heart them.

They are delicious, but they're also the perfect breakfast food (for me). When I work out, it's usually in the morning.  And while I do have something before I hit the road, after 90 minutes of activity, I want need calories.  Bagels - though some might call them junk food or a luxury - clearly provide that.  And they're satisfying enough to get me through the morning and to lunch.

I know that people carry strong feelings about what a bagel should be.  My needs are few: 

  1. It should toast well
  2. It should be chewy on the inside
  3. It should have a nice, crisp crust
  4. It should not require toppings to be edible


Cookbook or Nookbook?

This morning, WYPR ran the last segment of a series that examines the future of books and publishing - a very relevant topic given the growing popularity of Ebooks.

This program looked at cookbooks, which is interesting.  I'd never really thought about cookbooks when considering the publishing industry.  You can read (or listen to) the story here.

As I was listening to the program in my parked car, I also took a moment to savor the warmth check my Twitter feed. I noticed Mark Bittman, one of my favorite food writers and Runners World blogger, had posted about the conversation just a few minutes before - he has a successful app based on his How To Cook Everything, which is a go-to book in my own kitchen.  Check out his comments section, where a similar discussion is underway.

The story brings up some really interesting points.  It mentions that cookbooks are considered a mainstay of the publishing industry, although this is somewhat debateable in recent times. Lynn Neary interviews several people who point out that they're not always used for their intended purpose. 

Women Bloggers Unite!

..or at least, check out a group that formed on Meetup: Women Bloggers.  From the meetup site:
This group is for women bloggers to get together in an informal setting to talk about blogging. Let's share our ideas and talk about blog promotion, ads, creativity, tips, and more.

I made it to a meeting last night with two other women bloggers, both from the HoCo area: Elisa, from Things That We Love and founder of the group, and Sara, from Art Sense.

I really like the idea of the group, and the chance to network face to face and get ideas.  Everyone comes to the table with different levels of expertise in different areas.  And it's nice to be out and social.  If you are a lady, you blog or want to blog, and you're in the general area, check 'em out! (if you're not part of Meetup, shoot me an email)

Another great local blogger outlet that offers some of the same is hocoblogs, which hosts Blogtail parties from time to time (I hope to make the next one in January!). 


A White Elephant Christmas

I do like the holidays, even if it sometimes means stress.  I like the lights and the decorations, I like getting together with my family and the smell of food.  Now that I'm older, I love that the friends that have dispersed across the country drift back through town.

And I like parties.

One popular activity is a white elephant gift exchange, which combines the joy of gift-giving with ruthless, cutthroat strategy and stealing.

Of course, I'm only joking.  Sort of.

This year, the HoCoBoCo (Books and Cooks) club did a comfort food potluck (which was amazing, but not part of this post) and an exchange.  My contribution was a picnic cheese board which slid open to reveal cheese-carving-implements.  And I attached the gift receipt, so at worst, the recipient got a trip to the exchange line at BB&B.

I picked number 13.  Each person who went before me selected a new gift, took great care in opening it, and was excited about their gift.  And they were all very gracious.  Paraphrasing slightly, it went something like this...


A Slight Imbalance.

I had a slight breakdown this evening.

It happens every so often.  I'm chugging along, pushing through, feeling a little flustered but otherwise fine.  And then the stress hits.

Usually it's set off by something I've been neglecting.  When I get swamped, I let little things go.  I'll do the laundry, but I won't put it away.  I'll stack non-essential mail off in one corner, ignore emails that I probably should answer.

And then the piles get too high to ignore.

Last year, right around this time, I lived on coffee and about three hours of sleep per night.  I lost something like fifteen pounds.  It was not the ideal diet plan, and I was glad when it was over.

I nearly hit the edge, when at 8:15 I was still in the lab.  I felt like the only one in the building.  And I had very little to show for my eleven hour day, nary a dent in the staggering amount of work I need to get done in the next six months.  

At the last minute, I took a step back.  I took a moment to breathe.  And I thought about how to put all of these 'MUST DO NOOOOOW' things into perspective.


FvF Friday: Where's the beef?

Alright, I know at last week's Food versus Food, I said something about dueling bagels. Well... I changed my mind.  Fortunately my super readership (that's you... and maybe my mom) is very adaptable.

Just to review, Food versus Food drives me out into the wilds of Howard County (hocoblogs@@@ ... and maybe, sometimes, beyond...) to pit food or drink items against one another.  This week, my constant search for cheap, delicious eats brought me to two local establishments.

I give you...


Tapping the Kegs at Frisco Tap House

Frisco Tap House opens at a new address: 6695 Dobbin Road Columbia MD 21045

Last night was the first 'official' night that Frisco Tap House (formerly Frisco Grille) opened for dining in Columbia (hocoblogs@@@).

Frisco Grille has always been one of those neighborhood gems - tasty, cheap food, and an incredible (and more importantly, rotating) beer selection.  Sure, sometimes I would forget about it, tucked away in the Standford Road shopping center, but then when I did remember it was discovery all over again.

Well, no more.

Frisco Tap House has opened just a few blocks away from the old site, directly off Dobbin Road (6695 Dobbin Road).  The new place features a bright sign (see above), a sleek, modern, and spacious interior, and the comforts of the menu I know and love.

Mmm. Chorizo Burrito with everything.  Paired great with a Rogue Dead Guy Ale.
I got there around five, scored a spot out front, and found myself in the bar with maybe half a dozen other people.  It filled up quickly, however.  I caught interesting snippets from my seat at the bar.

"We have six menus."

"Did they throw out the high chairs?"

"The kitchen is OPEN!" (I was relieved)

They only had a handful of beers on tap, but the huge 50-tap setup still looked impressive.  And never fear - the flat screen TVs with scrolling beer lists are still in place, although they weren't working smoothly.

Just a few of the working taps they had on hand when I arrived.
The menu looks exactly the same, although if Frisco chooses to go in a different direction (the video pre-tour said pizza?) I fully support that.  As long as they keep the guac.  Mmmm.  Guac.

I do have a few thoughts...

There's not enough parking.  Maneuvering my tiny car (Honda Fit tiny) out of that front space was far scarier than it should have been, because people parked along the edge of the lot.  Half of our group had to park across the street.  The lots were crowded at 5, when the restaurant was empty, probably because of the other businesses.  If they hope to draw the crowds the space seems to expect, this might be an issue.

There are only two stalls in the ladies' room, and just from looking, when the changing table is in use, the adult standing in front of it blocks the door to the handicap stall.  Picky?  Yes.  But it's... one of those design things that could have been better thought out.

Outdoor seating area?  Not yet, obviously, but I hope they set one up when the weather warms up.

Cool feature: there was an outlet on the wall about head-level with our table (I think the booth on one side interfered with the plug).  Potential for an informal business meeting spot? or a writing group? Um... yes! Bonus points for that detail.  I wonder if they have WiFi.

Finally, although the 50-tap system is cool, I wonder if it's going to affect the quality of the beer.  Sometimes large number of taps means the lines are cleaned less often.  Since Frisco has in the past rotated their selection pretty steadily and they have a lot of know-how behind their beer, I'm not sure that they'll have this problem.  I am curious if they will slow their rotation down with so many offerings.

I'm really psyched for the new place - Frisco Grille was a great restaurant, and the Tap House seems to bring the same friendly character with a shiny, modern setting.  We'll definitely be back, and you should check it out too!.

While you're at it, check out the Baltimore Beer Guy's post about Opening NIght.  And if you've been to Frisco Tap House or plan to go, leave one in the comments below!


Cold winter days, Colds, and... yeah.

I can't quite deal with the cold.

It's always like this.  I'm not a winter person, even though I like snow.  It's not actually the driving, I can handle my car in the snow. It's not the shoveling.  

It's the cold, the feeling that I'm not going to be warm again until May.

My strategy for dealing with the cold has evolved and grown.  I used to layer.  I still layer. For the last week at work, I've taken to wearing fingerless gloves (for the sitting at the computer part, not the Science part), a scarf, and even a poofy vest (thanks Target).  At home, things get more intricate.

For example, I own a Slanket.

Full Disclosure: I ceaselessly mock the Snuggie commercials.  I do this for two reasons.  The one time I wore a Snuggie, I didn't really want to move.  The material was so cheap I was convinced a spark of static would ignite the fabric and turn me into the human torch.  But mostly, I mock the Snuggie for the commercials and spinoff products.

My Slanket is a nice, heavy fleece.  I like to wrap myself up in it, and then crawl beneath another blanket.  That's item number two, a down throw blanket from Target.  I twist around until I've got a personal cocoon.

Other items in my anti-winter arsenal include down socks (sorta like these - they're amazing) and an electric blanket.

I am a native Marylander, by the way.  

For all these things, though, the most effective way to combat the cold this week has been through food.  I don't mean prepping to hibernate.  I mean good, cold weather food.  It's been a really busy few days and I wasn't feeling well for most of them.  Last week, Matt threw together some crockpot chili.  It was awesome to walk in the door after a long day and smell slow-cooked chili.  He did a great job.

To the right, chili with sour cream and cheese, over rice. To the left, bulldog that wants to know where his chili is.

Caramel Cream ale - Homebrew, courtesy of our dwindling stores.  Look how clear it is!

Oooo. Shiny.

And of course, I can't forget the baking.  There are big plans in the works to do a day of cookies this weekend, but tonight I couldn't resist starting pumpkin bread with chocolate chips.  Here's a picture through the oven door, about half-way through.

The whole house smells like pumpkin bread!

How are you staying warm?  Or are you glad the cold is here?  Tell me all about it in the comments below.


Food versus Food: Holiday Latte

Welcome to the first post of the Food versus Food Friday series, in which I pit food(or beverage) items from Howard County establishments (hocoblogs@@@) against each other.  This week, just in time for both the cold weather and the holidays, I'm sampling coffee drinks!

Due to a technical glitch, there are no pictures this week. 

In the interest of not consuming 400 extra calories/day, I made the following adjustments to each drink: skim milk, no whipped cream. 

Contender #1: Gingerbread latte from Starbucks (Dobbin, Columbia)
Large, skim, no whip.

Contender #2: Sugar and Spice Latte from Seattle's Best (Borders in the Columbia Crossing shopping center, Columbia)
Medium, skim, no whip.

Starbucks actually owns Seattle's Best, so I was curious how different their espresso drinks could be.  And yes, I know these are two different flavors of lattes.  I tried to keep that in mind during the review.

The Starbucks Gingerbread latte was my first holiday drink of the season, and I was pretty excited.  It came in a nice red cup, toasty warm, and smelled like the holidays.  I have good memories of the gingerbread latte from Christmases past.  I even had a coworker bring in a bottle of Starbucks' gingerbread syrup for coffee a year ago, and we made our coffee festive all winter.  So I was looking forward to the latte, and I was disappointed.

Despite a nice gingerbready aroma, the latte just didn't taste good.  To be clear, I love gingerbread and gingersnaps.  I like spicy strong ginger, the dark molasses, and just the hint of sugar.  I know that gingerbread is not supposed to be sweet like a cake. 

Maybe it was the skim milk.  I did get some molasses.  And a strange, vaguely-cinnamon taste - cinnamon like atomic fireballs.  Not in a good way.  But mostly, the latte tasted like someone had soaked bandaids in it overnight.  I can't describe the taste any other way, except to say "Gross."

I wasn't sure what to expect from Contender #2.  The displays at the Borders Cafe are festive, but there was little to show for what 'sugar and spice' is.  Nutmeg?  Pumpkin pie spice?  Cinnamon?  Though I opted out for the extras, I will say that Borders makes a pretty drink.  Without the cloud of whipped cream, my drink looked like a standard latte.  That changed when I took a sip.

The Sugar and Spice latte has a fairly light aroma that becomes much more pronounced after the first sip.  And it tastes exactly like the name: there's sweetness, maybe like a dark brown sugar, and a lot of the spices I associate with the holiday. Nutmeg. Cloves. Cinnamon.  In fact, it almost reminded me of eggnog, only it wasn't as thick.  The sweetness was definitely not cloying, and it made the drink taste richer -- more so than the average skim latte.

I didn't record the prices this round, but they were comparable - Starbucks and SB/Borders are big chains, and their prices are pretty standard across the city.

When enjoyment is factored in, though, things change.  I had to choke the first half of the Gingerbread latte down.  After that, it became a little easier to drink, but not enjoyable.  In contrast, I really enjoyed the Sugar and Spice latte from Borders.  It was pleasantly sweet, but not too much, and tasted like an indulgence even though it was a slimmed-down version.

So the winner is.... Sugar and Spice Latte from Borders!

Next Week: Seasonal Bagel Death Match.  Without the Death part.

Food versus Food Friday: About

Welcome to a new weekly segment on SwimWriteRun: 

Food versus Food (FvF) Friday!

I know.  You can be excited.  The cheers are nice.  Ok...  Stop clapping now.

Now, I know what you may be thinking.  FvF?  What is that?  Are you confused and trying to do something like Man Versus Food?

Answer: No.  That guy is crazy.  There are lots of foods out there that could beat me.  Maybe.

Instead, I'm going to sample and compare foods from all around my usual stomping grounds (this is mostly Howard County).  I will select two similar items from different places, try each, and blog about them.  I might even declare a winner.

Here are the rules:

  • Items must be similar (ie, two salads; two bagels; two chicken sandwiches, etc)
  • If substitutions are made, they must be noted
  • Food should be reviewed on how it looks, smells, and tastes.
  • Prices and serving size should be recorded
  • Overall win is based on both tastiness and value

Sadly, there will be no cage match.

If you have any suggestions for contenders, please feel free to leave them in the comments, tweet me, or drop me an email!


Censure? Are you sure?

Ok blogreaders, it's time to talk about something I haven't brought up much on SwimWriteRun.  Let's get political.
(You're welcome.)
(Yes, I know they're British.  It was way better than the American vid I found.)

So, Charlie Rangel has been in the news a lot recently. Congressman Rangel, recently re-elected, is a 40-year veteran of the Senate who was, until March, Chairman of the influential Ways and Means Committee in the House.  He has been under investigation for violations since 2008. 

In case you're not familiar with the case, the formal hearing by the House Ethics Committee began in November to investigate several alleged ethics violations.  Rangel was accused of multiple violations, including failure to fully report and disclose income/assets and improperly using his position to raise money for private parties. Shortly after the trial convened, he was found guilty of all but one original count (11 of 12, since 2 of the original 13 were combined). His leadership of the Ways and Means Committee, which influences tax law, is especially significant with relation to his violation of those same tax laws.

Rangel argued that he was unable to properly mount a defense because he could not retain his lawyers, who had to date collected roughly $2 million in fees.  

I'm actually not blogging to debate whether he was guilty or not.  What I've been thinking about is the consequences.

I'm not a lawyer, so I can't speak to the legality of what Rangel did.  There do not seem to be criminal charges pending, which is interesting.  I did listen to an interview where one expert pointed out that private citizens who make omissions on tax forms (within a certain extent) are often given the opportunity to pay restitution to the IRS.  They're not automatically sent to jail.  This touches lightly on another debate: should political figures be held to a stricter standard than private citizens?  

I'm also not sure if Rangel's use of Congressional letterhead to raise money for a private party through which he received some benefit walks the fine line between unethical and illegal.  Another possible factor is that a criminal conviction would require evidence that Rangel acted deliberately with criminal intent. 

There seem to be a range of consequences when a member of Congress is found in violation of ethical policies.  The most mild is a letter of reprimand, the most extreme, expulsion.  One possible outcome for Rangel is censure.

In a censure, the censuree (?) stands in the 'well' of the House (basically in the front of the room), in front of all his colleagues, while the Speaker (still Nancy Pelosi) reads the list of violations.

Apparently, there has not been a censure of a Representative in the House since 1983 (there have been censure of a publication, and censures of individuals such as Mark Sanford at the state level, however, since then). At least one interview has suggested that individuals in Rangel's position resign rather than face censure.

There is also an ongoing campaign to reduce the punishment to a letter of reprimand.

What bothers me about this is that I can't fully understand 1) How this is a matter of so much public debate, and 2) How Censure is so scarring for those involved.

Let's deal with #1 first.

There are a lot of issues we face as a nation.  We are struggling with health care reform, employment, the economy, the national debt.  Every day we march closer to disaster (or austerity measures, or both).  We have a split House and a Democratic president who (and I say this as a supporter) says he is above the system of politics-as-usual, but doesn't seem to understand that he's going to have to work within it.  Republicans are already threatening to stall all progress through the lame duck session unless certain concessions are made over the tax cuts set to expire this year.

And yet, every time I've turned on the news this week, I hear about Congressman Rangel.

The facts seem clear.  Evidence was presented that he violated ethics.  He was found guilty.  Let's move on to the real issues, then?

Like #2: the impact of a Censure.

The impact of something like Censure probably comes in two parts: personal humiliation and political fallout.

To be clear, Rangel's list of wrongs has already been made public.  Unless he has his head buried in the sand, or unless he ascribes to the belief that it doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks (I have yet to see a politician that does this), he has already been 'humiliated'.  Everyone (who pays attention) knows what he did.  So on one hand, it can hardly make anything worse.  On the other hand, going to the trouble of announcing the violations in a Censure almost seems childish: like the kid who has to stand in the corner for breaking a school rule. (do they still do that?  Hm.  Maybe not.)

On an interview on NPR's Morning Edition (you can listen by clicking the link at the top of the page), it was suggested that many of Rangel's colleages are embarrassed at the idea of condemning their own colleague.  They would rather see him resign, or see him receive a more private reprimand.  

I understand that members of Congress form relationships and work closely together over many years.  Congressman Rangel has served for roughly half his life.  That's a long career.  But... really?  You can't call someone out for obviously making some bad choices?  How are you possibly going to address the hard questions we face now?

The other side of Censure is the political fallout.  This violation comes at a hard time for Democrats, when the general public seems hostile to any political party that is perceived to have the 'upper hand.'  Hence the roots of the Tea Party Movement.  The attention a Censure would garner (although I don't see how it could be more than what's out there) is negative publicity for Democrats and for Rangel, who is up for a primary run soon.  Democrats also run the risk of appearing the 'corrupt side' of government if they're too lenient on such a public case.

The debate on whether or not to censure Congressman Rangel begins at noon today.  I only hope it can go quickly, so that the people in office can move on to the jobs they were elected to do.


Wednesday Weeklies

Hey everyone, here are some highlights from the week and points of interest for the upcoming weekend...


Did you know that Ellicott City hosts a literary pub crawl on the first Thursday of each month?  Me neither!  More info here.

Don't forget the Howard County Library's holiday music Coffeehouse on Dec 2.  Are you a musician yourself? Register in advance with Jean Salkeld at 410.313.7766. 

This weekend is Breakfast with Santa at the Columbia Mall.  I remember going to these as a kid when they were held at Woodward & Lothrop.  It was awesome, and instilled in me a deep love of pancakes rolled up and stuffed with apple filling.  Now it's held at the Nordstrom Cafe, at a cost of $10/person, proceeds to benefit the Howard Hospital Foundation.

Saturday, the Supreme Sports Club will be holding an 'Iron Fitness Challenge' - 140.6 minutes of activity. The breakdown is 20 min swim, 80 min bike, 40.6 min run = 140.6 min.  (Full disclosure: I teach lifeguarding for the Aquatics Department at Columbia Association)  (Second Full Disclosure: although this seems like a cool event, I'll probably just do Bagel Run)

On December 4th and 5th, consider attending an art show to benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund.  View the work of local artists.  RSVP 410-461-3400 or email dulman at connext dot net or cherylduvall at mac dot com. 

The Columbia Orchestra will be performing an event called "Earth and Sky" at the Rouse theater in Columbia on December 4.  For more info and ticket prices, check out their site.  I've seen them several times and they're really good.

Just in case you need more arts, the Columbia Pro Cantare group will be performing Handel's Messiah at Rouse theater the next evening, Sunday December 5, at 7:30pm.

The Columbia Jewish Association is holding a Latke Potluck and Auction on Tuesday, Dec 7. Click here for more info.  Can we say... yum?


C2.0 covers Ken Ulman's plan to transform the county.  Recap and video available.  Also, HoCoRising listened to Ulman's weekend Q&A.

HoCoRising also points out that the economy is on everyone's mind, and HoCo is not immune.  Sarah at Sarah Says posted an interesting recap and analysis of a discussion on the federal deficit. 

Sarah also recaps her CSA experience.  I'm really hoping Matt and I do a split-share in a CSA for 2011.

HowChow mentions bubble tea at Ichiban Cafe, a place in Columbia that just opened.  As I understand it, they offer free WiFi, so this is a spot I've been eyeing for writing later in the month.  Look forward to trying it!

Did you know that Merriweather Post Pavilion ranks in the top three venues in the world?  A shame that Jimmy Buffet doesn't play there anymore.  Check out the story on Patch.

Erinn re-posts an entry about holiday decorating, something we've not even begun to do (but we are doing!  See future post.)

Finally, Cindy posted about her Marathon experiences on Thoughts from a Swimmer.  It was so awesome that they're looking forward to Shamrock fest in 2011!  The highlights, particularly about how they ran it together, are a really nice read.

Post-Black-Friday, enjoy your holiday shopping.  Don't forget to look for the generic and/or scary holiday presents out there.

It's over...

And just like that, NaNoWriMo comes to an end.

Alright, it was yesterday that it ended.  I was pretty wiped out from the final sprint to the finish (almost 8000 words) and didn't have much energy for blogging afterwards.

So how did it go?

Well, I met my personal goal of 80,000K.  Unfortunately, it was not all the original story.  You might recall I reached 50,000 about a week early, and decided to pick up a second novel.  I ended up writing a mystery/Lovecraftian horror thing that's approximately 1/3 finished at about 23,000 words.  I may go back and try to finish it in January, but it was pretty fun to write.

There is a long editing road ahead of me.  I'm actually looking forward to it.  I plan to read - A Lot - in December, and maybe work on some chapters for the novel I abandoned at the start of NaNoWriMo.

In January, I plan to re-read the draft and start making notes for the rewrite.  There will be a long rewrite, but I'm hoping to have it done by March.

Why March, you say?  Well, March is National Novel Editing Month (you guessed it... NaNoEdMo), in which writers commit to 50 hours of editing time over 31 days.  Less glamorous (and probably less attended) than NaNoWriMo.  But I think it will be fun.

Negatives from NaNoWriMo 2010

  • I had hoped to write every day, and that just didn't happen.  There were about 4 days out of the month where i did no writing at all, and a few more where I did small amounts.
  • My story is less a first draft and more an extended outline.  It needs a lot of work.
  • I had a hard time balancing life, work, and NaNoWriMo this month.  I had a lot less things competing for my attention last November, and was really able to hide myself in the writing.  Not so, now.

Positives from NaNoWriMo 2010
  • I reached my goal.
  • I had a good time at the writeins (though I missed the Laurel Panera group from last year)
  • I hosted writeins! Yay!
  • There were some days I forced myself to write and broke through the 'I don't feel like it' barrier
  • I came up with a few ideas for novels I'd like to develop in the future - including that historical fiction.
  • I had a really, really good time.
Overall, Maryland had 388 WriMos finish out of 2841 signed up.  MD WriMos wrote 38,009,732 words (22,883 avg, including non-finishers.) - 6th out of all 540 regions in the NaNoWriMo Word Count scoreboard. Maryland WriMos truly are an awesome group of people.  Check out the article I wrote about them for the Columbia Patch.

This year, I also participated in a Word War Challenge with MD versus Texas/Austin-Houston (Blue Crabs vs. Lushguins).  The Blue Crab team averaged 45,017.711, but the Lushguins kept ahead with an awesome finish with 58,829.475 words.  Great job everyone!

I'd like to thank everyone for their support.  Erinn put up a lot of encouragement on her blog, Something Else to Distract Me.  My writing buddies, old and new, sent messages throughout the month.  The NaNoWriMo community was really active on Twitter, which was also an encouragement.

There's talk of monthly writeins among the HoCo WriMos, just to get together and continue writing.  Hope that will happen!  Until then... I'm going to go read.  Happy December everyone, TGIO!