Friday, February 19, 2010

Outside, Looking In

Moving to a new city is daunting to me, especially since I had to go a new city for school. That might be why some, maybe more, feel highly vulnerable when visiting Ada, Okla. for the first time. Compared to Prague, my hometown, Ada is huge.

Being an outsider myself, I was curious as to what other people thought about this campus town. The most common responses I’ve received are, “I definitely wouldn’t live there,” or, “be careful for those inconsiderate loons at the Crazy Corner,” even, “for it being such a big town, there is absolutely nothing to do there.”

Being from a small town I find very little activity, I rely on watching my neighbors tend their gardens or stepping outside to see where the flashing light and screaming sirens are coming from. I can relate to the idea of living in a boring town.

In Prague, Okla. there are only seven choices of restaurants to dine, and a single bar that only serves draft beer. Ada offers over 100 varieties of small eateries, large chain restaurants, and a plentiful supply of fast-food mayhem. The main entertainment in Prague is a seasonal public pool, volleyball and tennis courts, and a small park where pedestrians can enjoy a small stroll or bring their children to play. Not only does Ada have these small town enjoyments, but more. A movie theater, a bowling alley, bars that serve liquor, and many other forms of entertaining ventures that I have yet to discover.

So far, mostly from residents, I’ve heard that Ada is boring and dull with nothing to do, and I try to hold back the urge to invite them to live in my town for a week or two if they want to know what a boring town is really like. I am very proud of my boring town and the boring things it has to offer. I don’t complain of what it lacks or what it has. Perhaps, the bigger the city, the bigger the minds are of the citizens. So when I hear a resident of Ada complain about their boring town and how they can’t wait to leave, I began to wonder of what they will complain about when they move to their newer, boring city or town.

Haiti Then, Haiti Now

Haiti has been a country overwhelmed by political instability. In 1915, the United States invaded the country. Despite the protest of the Haitian people, the U.S. was able to rebuild the roads and the infrastructure improved. The United States left the country in 1934 when it appeared the country could prosper on its own.

The country’s future took a dramatic turn in 1957 when Francois Duvalier “Papa Doc” became president. Duvalier terrorized the country with his voodooist beliefs and as a result, over 50,000 Haitians were killed under his rule. Duvalier also changed the constitution in order to make himself president for life, up until his death in 1971. After Duvalier’s death, his 19 year old son “Baby Doc” took over as president. At that time, Haiti was the poorest country in the world. Baby Doc was exiled to France in 1986, and the U.S. briefly becomes involved in Haiti once again to help restore political stability.

Nothing compared to the murderous regime of Duvalier until January 12, 2010, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rumbled in Haiti. Buildings crumbled in seconds and an estimated 200,000 Haitian lives were lost. Children become orphans, and people took to the streets in search of loved ones. Broken bodies are still being thrown into mass graves, and survivors of the Haiti earthquake are in desperate need of food, water, and shelter. International intervention is needed now more than ever before.

Relief for Haiti is underway on a massive scale. The American Red Cross is accepting whatever help they can in the form of donations, volunteers, and basic supplies for the people of Haiti. A star-studded telethon was aired on major networks which accumulated over $61 million dollars. Cell phone providers joined together and customers can donate $10 by texting “90999.”

The biggest difference has been made from the smallest organizations. In Ada, on the East Central University campus, a meeting by representatives of organizations developed a plan to raise money for Haiti relief. The group hopes to involve a large segment of East Central students to provide any kind of help that they can provide in order to help the people of Haiti through this devastating time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Best Meal I Ever Had

The best meal I ever had was with the best company I could ever experience. It wasn't exactly top-notch or at a grand scale, but it wasn't the usual fast food commodity either.

Imagine walking through a jungle, greeted by 300 pound gorillas baring teeth that were dripping saliva, and a lion that could maul and kill within 5 seconds. Every few minutes, someone is shouting "VOLCANO!" Sometimes the bank of the waterhole will shoot out mists of steam.

I didn't mind being in the company of hairy and angry animals, nor did I mind the many different distractions coming through the room, because the oversized plates filled to the brim that could feed an army is what was worthwhile. I don't exactly remember what was on my plate that day, but whatever it was, jolted my taste buds with a variety of flavors provided by the freshest ingredients! Spicy, sweet, and bitter with a tang, I wanted to devour the entire plate of food that weighed in at 5 pounds like a the lion that was peeking over my head, sometimes letting out a purr or a growl along with the tacky shaking of rainforest plants.

My mammal instincts kicked in and I surrounded my plate of food with protective arms, I didn't care if the animals were one month away from becoming extinct, they weren't going to get a single morsel of my precious food.

I left The Rainforest Cafe in Dallas, Texas with a full stomach, two boxes of leftovers, and around $25 dollars short for a single menu item. Not only did I pay for the wonderful, fantastical, helluva dinner, but I paid for the jungle safari as well. I can't wait to go there again.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book Publishers and Literary Agents are Leaning Toward a Greener Market

I'm excited to see that publishing houses, even literary agents, are going green. I mean, we are talking about a big industry that relies heavily on press with copy by copy of books being printed by the millions! They've tried recycling older materials for their latest releases, but with the transition into a more digital and enviromentally consious year of 2010, they are going digital.

Majority of literaty agents are abandoning the long process of snail mail queries and submissions, and are asking for EMAIL ONLY queries which recieve faster responses than that of snail mail. Some of the more polite agents send form rejections via email when they aren't interested in an author's material, instead of the "silent treatment" which leaves a writer wondering, "what happened with my query?"

In these tough economic times, publishers are trying to save a buck. Well, who isn't? Therefore, they are publishing newer titles via e-book, instead of having to pay those outrageous cover charges to have books put in print. Although, the bigger publishers like S&S, Penguin, and Harlequin are still putting works in print, they also have the same bestselling titles available electronically.

Yet, shadowed by these larger giants are the small publishing houses. How are they doing? E-books? Duh! I've recently heard of a new e-publisher called Carina Press who've just opened their inboxes for electronic submissions. They are only offering works in electronic form, do not expect to find these titles in your local bookstore, but this is good news for authors. Normally, the cover charges are taking from the earning that the book sells, leaving only a little bit of wiggle room for royalties. With e-books, those fees become nonexistent, and that means a larger percentage of royalties go to the author.

Readers are also leaning more toward electronic reads instead of print. E-books are more convenient to access and order, and with newer devices such as the Amazon Kindle, eye sore is lessened due to a more eye friendly screen, almost resembling print.

I'm very excited about the upcoming digital age for the publishing indusrty.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Do you think your essay is worth money?

B.S Lewis and Friends are hosting their annual essay contest, where ECU students can submit their perfected prides to be judged for cash prizes. 1st place is worth $500!

So, if you have an essay that you deem worthy for other eyes besides the teacher who initially graded it, submit it now.

The deadline is April 20th, 2010.

(More details coming soon)