Nerd

Just A Quickie…

By Kiki Keane

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and I wish you all the best for 2013!

I know it’s customary to make New Year’s resolutions. I only have a few:

1) Redo the 50/50 challenge and actually finish! (I’ll be keeping track in the “Kiki’s 50/50″ tab and on Goodreads)

2) Blog more often

3) Write!

4) Get a paying job

5) Try, try, try to get that paying job in journalism

6) Do my own NANOWRIMO

Ok. That’s it for today. I’ve got some stuff to do, but I’ll be back in a day or two with a decent post. Promise.

 

Categories: Books, Celebration, Goals, Journalism, Life, Nerd | Tags: | Leave a comment

Dear Readers, My Apologies Once Again. From, A Very Broken Record…

By Kiki Keane

Sorry for the very long absence, folks. Obviously I have not accomplished all my goals. What can I say? The holidays, illness and general laziness got the better of me. I did, however, accomplish one goal. I finished Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. I also read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre.

There really isn’t much to say. Egypt had a MB Pharaoh, there was protesting, gun waving, death and then there was no longer a Pharaoh. A few days later there was a constitutional vote and the people voted yes and the Sura Council has started. Tharir still has its die-hards, but they are not winning any fans in this part of the city, especially since the square seems to be surrounded by thieves. (This what everyone is saying, anyway.)

Unfortunately, I missed reporting on much of the protesting because of a particularly bad bug I picked-up along the way. Saw most of it play out on TV, though. I had a very interesting flash back to my J-School ethics class. There was a particularly heated discussion about showing dead bodies (particularly babies) on the news. I don’t way it was heated since almost everyone agreed that it was, at the very least, hurtful to the families. Those of us who disagreed knew it was losing battle, so we let it go after awhile. I remember thinking that for a country that has free speech as its very first amendment we do an awful lot of self-censoring, especially in the  name of hurting someone’s feelings. Here, in a country that has no such thing as free speech, there is no problem showing dead bodies, uncovered and uncensored. Sometimes there is even a guy poking all the dead man’s bullet-holes for the rapt public.

I do realize that I have pretty much written the same blog post three times. I swear I’m going to rectify that. It will be my first News Year’s resolution!

New Goals:

1) Read Anna Karenina 2) Write at least 2 blog posts 3) TOFL homework 4) Write non-fiction 1 hour per day 5) Write fiction 1 hour per day

Hope everyone’s holidays were great. Enjoy your New Year celebrations!

Categories: Books, Free Speech, Goals, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Procrastination | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

I Am A Lazy Procrastinator With A TV Addiction…

By Kiki Keane

So… I have been absent for awhile. Again. I think we have established that I am a lazy procrastinator with a TV addiction, so I won’t bore you with excuses. Nothing much has changed since the last couple of posts except that I have traded in forensics for a holiday movie binge. Also, I have a new kitten. Her name is Haniya. She enjoys sleeping on my lap and attacking feet.

Other than the above mentioned, it has been life as usual. “How can that be?” you ask. “You live in a country that has been in the news non-stop for weeks!” you might exclaim. “The man that rules your adopted country is being likened to a Pharaoh by, well, everyone! He made weird, ambiguous comments about Planet of the Apes!” you might argue. To which I can only reply with the following: I am a lazy procrastinator with a TV addiction. I will also add, though I hate admitting it, that awful parasite called Writer’s Block, which took hold of the fiction part of me ten years ago, has spread to the non-fiction part. Maybe I’m trying to hard or not hard enough. I don’t know. I take comfort in the fact that Fran Lebowitz has suffered from it for 30 years.

I decided to try and set weekly goals for myself again. I know what you’re thinking. Why bother? I didn’t finish a single one before, why would this time be different? It might not be, but I have to try something. And yes, I do know what Einstein said about insanity.

Goals for the week of 30 Nov – 7 Dec

1) Finish Fall of Giants

2) Work related writing 1 hour a day

3) Certification work 1-2 hours a day

4) Blog related writing at least 2x a week

5) Fiction related writing 1 hour a day

6) Clean something (you have no idea how hard that is for me)

Categories: Adventure, Books, Elections, Goals, Journalism, Life, Nerd, Procrastination, Work | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A Blog In Which I Admit That I Have A Productivity Problem. It’s Called Television.

By Kiki Keane

I must admit that once again I have been completely unproductive. I should be working. I have lots of writing and editing to do. I should have written a post or two or three for my other blog. I should have come up with something to write for this blog. I should have read some of my book club book. I should have written something for NaNoWriMo project.

So what have I done with my time? Watch television. I sat down to eat something and thought I’d watch an episode of CSI. Six hours later…

So, I’ve decided to try and actually divide up my day so that I can get something done. I know. I know. I’ve done this before and I came back with big red F on my forehead. But didn’t someone once say that if at first you don’t succeed you should try, try again? So I’m going to hope that my stubbornness and determination to be productive will win out over my tv addicted brain.

Also, for some reason I have a sudden urge to own a bookstore…

 

 

Categories: Books, Life, Media, Nerd, Procrastination, Work | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Excuses, Excuses, Or Why We Are LAME!!!!!!!

 

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Sorry about the long absence, Ladies and Gents. We have been busy (Yes, even Kiki!), sick and perhaps a bit lazy.

Kiki:

I spent the week writing, tailoring, shopping, buying lots of crappy free ebooks from BookBub to load my Kindle with so that I have something to waste my time with while away and reading (Oh yes I am!). I am reading Odd Apocalypse (don’t judge!) by Dean Koontz to review for Toonari Post and The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes for my book club. Don’t let my productivity fool you. I am still my TV obsessed self. I have watched a whole season of Lost Girl. It’s not really my thing. I mean I don’t really do the whole orphaned-P.I.-Succubus-meets-Wolf-and-human-doctor-while-solving-murders-and-saving-the-Fae-from-war thing. But I just can’t stop watching it.

Anyway. Goals. I think I accomplished half of one goal. I finished my book club book. No word on the Visa, so I think we are going to wing it.

New Goals: 

1) Read a fiction and non-fiction book 2) Watch less TV (I gotta kick the habit!)

Rachel:

I am sick! Sick, sick, sick! I just knocked my water onto the floor dramatically because I was attempting to sweep up crumbs on the table. That is how coherent and smooth I am. So my goals.

I did complete one book: The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins, I sort of solved my credit card issue in a roundabout way, and I did complete moving in. Hurray me! 2.5 out of three!

New goals:

1)Read another book! 2) Get everything sorted for the trip 3) Get healthy.

 

Categories: Adventure, Books, Life, Nerd, Procrastination, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lot Of Nothing In The Name Of Procrastination And The News…

By Kiki Keane

Rachel is still MIA. She has moved into her new place, but is without internet until tomorrow. I have been busy shopping for the trip and trying not to die in this terrible heat. I am sitting in my Papasan trying to protect my cup of coffee from my caffeine loving cat, Alia Atreides (Alia or Ollie for short) and studiously avoiding reading my book club book, Istanbul Passage. I want to read it. I do. I just … I’m a champion procrastinator. And lazy. (I think we have more than established that fact on this blog.) In fact, I am writing this post not because I have anything to say, but because I am avoiding the 133 pages I have to read today. If the procrastination goes as planned, I will have 266 pages to read tomorrow or the entirety of the book to read on Saturday.

I finished my orientation, or onboarding as the folks at Toonari call it, on Tuesday, which means that I can/should start turning out stories. I might try to get that War Tax piece we mentioned a few months back published on Toonari before I go. No one else seems particularly interested in it.

Besides shopping and studiously avoiding the things I should be doing, I have also seriously considered and decided to get rid of my Facebook account. I really love social media. I love being able to connect with all kinds of people all over the world. However, Facebook has been making me claustrophobic lately. Also, it’s a time suck. I sometimes feel that way about Twitter, but Twitter has been more useful than Facebook. Twitter has allowed me to connect with journalists, activists and others around the world, most of whom seem willing to help each other with their various pursuits. That does not mean that I won’t be purging some accounts that I follow. I will be sticking to a few friends, the news, activists and journos. That may only get rid of 100 or so accounts, but probably a 1000 or more tweets a day. I love Scott Baio, but I don’t care about his, or any of his fans, junk drawers.

And the news:

1) Herehere and here are Richard Engel’s latest on Syria. And here is a piece by CNN’s Ben Wedeman. Also, Assad has picked a new PM. This article is from NBC News (formerly MSNBC) and includes a few other pieces on Syria. And Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to replace Kofi Annan as the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria.

2) Libya has picked Magarief to be president.

3) The murder trial of Gu Kailai started and ended today.

4) Here you will find the hottest places on Earth.

5) In Mali militias train to oust Islamists.

6) This isn’t news, but it’s an interesting article written by Douglas Preston about the time he spent in Italy trying to solve a string of 14 murders committed by a serial killer dubbed “The Monster of Florence.” He wrote a book about it called The Monster of Florence.

 

 

Categories: Adventure, Books, Life, Media, Nerd, Procrastination, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Is A Truth Universally Acknowledged That When One Is In Need Of A New Pair Of Pants No Store Within A 300 Mile Radius Will Have A Single, Solitary Pair In Your Size…

By Kiki Keane

Ugh! I’ve dropped several dress sizes this year, which means that I have to do the thing I dread the most: Shop. I hate shopping. I really, really do. I thought I would love it. I thought things would be easier. Sad truth is, it still takes going to every store within a 300 miles radius to find a single pair of jeans in my size! Where did they all go? Everything below an 8 that does not show one’s ass-crack or cut off one’s circulation have disappeared from the shelves of New Mexican stores. Also, size 6 shoes. They have all vanished. I suspect everyone has been replaced by body snatching pod-people with large feet. Or maybe (Gulp!) I’m the pod-person…

Okay. Enough grumbling.

I really wish that I had something interesting to write about, but my life is currently uneventful. (I know. I know. Enjoy it while I can!) One would think with all this downtime, I would find something productive to do. I have not. I have not studied Arabic. I have not read more than 30 pages in a book. I have not read my book club selection. I have not exercised. Mostly, I just move from my bed to my Papasan and back with a few trips to the kitchen. Okay. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. I’ve made some trips to the library for books I most likely won’t read. I have also gone on a wild book hunt for used mass market copies of my favorite noir novels. (I can handle anything except an extended period without my hardboiled private dicks and femmes fatales.)  I came up mostly empty. I can find them in trade and ebook form online, but trade are big and sometimes heavy and I just can’t carry all that with me on my travels. And there is just something repulsive about reading classic noir on a kindle. However, I did find my favorite Science Fiction novel, Invasion Of the Body Snatchers, in a first edition Dell mass market. It’s a little musty and little worse for wear, but at least I’ll be able to take it with me! I’ll also be able to have my favorite spy (007) with me.

Needless to say, all this moving from bed to chair to bed has left little time for news gathering. I am not proud. However, I have been paying some attention. Here and here are the latest from Richard Engel who is still in Syria.

Categories: Books, Life, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Are Back! No, Really! We Are! Promise!

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Okay. We have been really, really, really bad at this whole blog thing as of late. Rachel is still in the process of moving into her new place and I have been busy reducing my life into a backpack and medium sized duffle bag and watching a truly terrible show called Femme Fatale. It’s like driving by a car wreak; you know it’s wrong to look, but you do it anyway.

Also, I would like to share some happy news. I will be working for Toonari Post. It is unpaid and I still have to go through orientation, but I least I will have a place to publish and an extra set of news credentials. Yay!

For our first collective blog in weeks we are going to share our new goals. I don’t remember what mine were, but it’s a safe bet that I didn’t do them. I swear I’m going to get better at this whole followthrough thing.

New Goals:

Kiki:

1) Read a fiction book 2) Finish one of the trip related books 3) Make a Visa decision (they still aren’t answering the phone or responding to email)

Rachel

I do not remember my previous goals either but it is a fairly safe assumption that I have completed few to none of them.  Here are my new goals:

1) Complete a book either fiction or non-fiction 2) Work on my credit card issue (the issue is I don’t have one!) 3) Complete the moving process 4)Relax a little bit

Moving is really no fun, I can only console myself with the fact that soon I will be in a new home. There are 5 or 6, no joke, FOR RENT signs up in front of my house so at least once a day somebody comes by poking their head into the windows and asking me 5o questions about the place. Couple that with the fact that the tiny widow air conditioner is so completely ineffective that I cannot sleep  more than a few hours a night due to the stifling heat and you have a very cranky Rachel indeed. Yesterday I rode the bus for an hour simply because it was air conditioned.

In Other News:

I (Kiki) thought I would have to avoid the news for the duration of the Olympics, but thankfully news organizations have been good about putting other news on their websites. So, I have been able to avoid that jock-fueled, Nationalist weirdness as I read/watch the news. Although, I haven’t been able to filter out the Olympics completely. As it turns out this is the first time that all nations taking part in the games have women on their teams and there are two Saudi Arabia women able to participate.

Here are some stories I’ve been following:

1) Syrian rebels finally got a couple of missiles and Assad is rallying the troops. Also, Foreign policy experts urge US to get involved in Syria.

2) Is Mali a haven for Al Queda?

3) Clinton will be making her first visit to South Sudan.

4) The situation is deteriorating in eastern Congo.

5) Violence nearly at two-year peak in Iraq.

6) Netanyahu told Panetta that time for a peaceful solution to the Iran nuclear dispute is running out.

This isn’t news, but I love this article (the book is about to come out). It’s a wonderfully articulate article (with lots of examples) about why some of the most touted “literary” writers are actually bad writers. He makes a very valid point: just because you don’t understand what the heck they’re saying, doesn’t mean they’re literary or that your stupid. Actually, it most likely means they are actually bad writers.

 

Categories: Adventure, Books, Goals, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apologies But Life Avoidance Was Necessary, Or Why Are Women’s Sneakers So Annoyingly Colorful?

By Kiki Keane

I apologize for the long absence. Rachel has been busy getting ready to move into her new apartment and I have been very distracted by Blossom and Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place. I had no idea they had been put on DVD. I became obsessed. It was real ugly there for awhile.

The daily 90s sitcom marathons were no doubt an exercise in avoidance. Between dancing along with Blossom and Six and swooning over Nathan Fillion and Ryan Reynolds (together!) I had little time to freakout over the Visa situation (no one answers phones or emails), the lack of decently colored women’s sneakers (Why is everything white or neon and pastel? Whatever happened to just plain black?), the lack of “modest” but attractive dresses (Why are the only options skintight and Daisy Duke short or grandma?), the lack of real jeans options (again, skintight or mom or grandma), the fact that my Amazon purchases for the trip have been delivered but have not actually been delivered (they supposedly arrived a week ago) and I am six weeks away from the biggest life change I have ever had (and I have had a few) and I have no idea what I am doing. I’m not someone who “wings it.” I am planner and worrier and a freaker-outer (silently) and there is just no way to plan this kind of thing. Not really. Not in any kind of detail.

Okay. Enough of the drama. How about some actual important drama? Forgive me if these stories are out of date.

Here is the latest on Syria: Richard Engel is in Syria and here are his reports for Nightly News on Tuesday and Thursday and on Today. Richard Engel’s analysis of the situation and on the Shabiha and the rebel’s justice. Al Jeezera’s latest on Aleppo. CNN’s latest on Damascus and Aleppo. Here is the latest from NBCNews. This one is a bit old, but just in case you haven’t seen it: Richard Engel’s Rock Center report on his last trip to Syria a few weeks ago.

Here is a bit about Iraq: There were a 103 people killed in Tuesday’s blasts and according to CNN, suspected Al Qaeda militants clashed with security forces on Thursday.

Here is some news out of Egypt: Morsy appointed a new Prime Minister on Tuesday.

Here is a domestic story:  A short NBCNews story on the massive synthetic drug bust that happened recently. I put it here only because one of the stores that was raided is a local one. I always find it amusing and annoying that the only time New Mexico makes the national news is for something bad.

Categories: Adventure, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chaotic Thoughts, Enduring Friendships, Change, Unlocking The Shackles Of Home, Spies And The News, Or Happiness Found…

By Kiki Keane

My thoughts have been chaotic lately. I fly from one lame thought to another, never staying long enough to get comfortable, which is kind of how I live my life and is a core part of who I am. You could probably call me a quitter. I mean how many novels and stories have I left unfinished, movies half watched, books unread? How many colleges and universities did I attend and how many majors did I have? How many friends have I happily let drift away because to keep them was to much work? How many places have I left because to stay was to be shackled? Why shouldn’t my brain work the same way? That is a long-winded way of letting you know that the following post will be about whatever things my brain chooses to vomit. You have been warned.

I was talking to my oldest friend about a week ago. We have known each other for ten years, which is no small feat considering my commitment phobia and that my longest previous friendship lasted maybe two years. One reason our friendship has endured is because I feel no real pressure to keep it going. For example, I know that I could (though I wouldn’t want to) go for a year or more without speaking to her and it would be no big deal. And if we should see each other again we would treat each other the same. Time and distance is nothing, really. Anyway, we were talking about how much we’ve changed over the years. She has seen me turn from a shy, rainbow scarf wearing, romantic, heart-on-my-sleave idealist complete with rose-colored glasses and a penchant for falling into one unrequited “relationship” after another and into the somewhat jaded, snarky, emotionally unavailable, relatively assertive, decidedly unromantic, eye-rolling, soon to be adventurer that is before you. And she’s changed just as dramatically. So, I guess it’s change that I’ve been thinking about. Not just how we change or that we change, but how we don’t. I’m still an idealist, I just understand moral ambiguity and grayness and impossible choices now. I still want a grand romance, I just don’t need it. I’m still nice, but I’ll be damned if I let you dismiss me.

We also talked about our nomadic lives. Neither of us can stay in one place long without experiencing depression, anxiety and, at least for me, physical pain. We even experience a kind of claustrophobia on behalf of others who have never experienced the freedom and happiness that comes from leaving behind “the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many cares and the Slavery of Home” (Richard F. Burton). Don’t get me wrong. I envy those who are content in their lives, those who don’t feel shackled and enslaved by obligations, family, friends and their local physical boundaries. I envy those who have never wondered what it would be like to ride a camel through the Sahara, or never needed to touch the Pyramids for themselves, or experience first hand the wars we see on TV and all that comes with it, or require nothing more than a picture or a travelers words to experience the greater world, or those who do not need to know for themselves why the wonders of the world are so…wonderful. I like to pretend that a nomadic life style is one of true freedom, but the truth is that every nomad is slave to the wind. Whenever it blows we are compelled to follow it to wherever it may lead us.

On a different note, I have also been thinking great deal about spies. Why? Because they are fascinating people and because I could never be one. I prefer fictional spies though, especially the outlandish ones, like 007. Of course, 007 may have been based on a real person. Geoffrey Gorden-Creed claimed to be the inspiration for Ian Flemings, James Bond. If he is to believed, I would say that my previous statement was wrong, or at least not entirely informed, as Gorden-Creed was perhaps more fascinating than his fictional counterpart, certainly a less discriminating seducer (if what he said is true than he would make Casanova look chaste). Here is The Daily Mail‘s article on him. Here is Alan Furst’s @Google talk. Lastly, here is Jennet Conant’s C-Span talk/reading about Julia and Paul Childs time in the OSS.

And not to disappoint, here are some news stories I’ve been keeping an eye on.

1) Richard Engel just got back from a trip to Syria and shared what it’s like there at the moment and also some analysis of what Clinton’s criticism of Russia means if anything.

2) Some DRC news

3) Libyans vote

4) New commitment to Afghanistan 

5) I may have shared this and this before, but the destruction of historical sites really angers me. I especially have a fondness for Timbuktu and grieve for the destruction that it has suffered the last few weeks.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Elections, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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