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The book process had become circular.  It kept coming back around to editing.  As this is my first published novel, it’s all been a learn-on-the-job method of writing and editing.  The majority of the editing was done by me and a few very smart friends.  Then I erroneously thought we were done and sent it to typesetting.  There, a professional editor got a hold of it and suggested some rather major changes.  It took me six weeks to make the changes, exactly as long as I guessed it would (there was some satisfaction in that).  And now, after having another person read through my massive rewrite, I believe it’s ready to go back to typesetting, although I am a little nervous – but, I’m always a little nervous, so that’s nothing new.  That professional editor is lurking somewhere and who knows what could come of another pass through.  I, frankly, don’t think I have another rewrite in me.  I wrote this book during the month of August, 2010 (it took a total of twenty-one days) and have been rewriting it ever since.  I know that each revision made it a better book and they all add up to a big difference since the first draft.  I’ve learned that it’s all a part of the writing process.  Unless you’re brilliant, you’re probably going to have to rewrite and then rewrite some more.  Write a book, then rewrite it twenty times and you’re done.  And, then we’re back to typesetting.  This part of the process should be brief, get the typesetting done, proof it a couple of times and hit print.  It finally is what it is.  Available soon.  (Fingers crossed ‘til my hands cramp.)

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Did anyone else expect the deficit to be turning around by now?  Were my expectations too high?  I’m loathe to admit my disappointment in the present federal administration.  I do hate to disparage President Obama and his cohorts.  I vote Democrat and rarely “like” what the Republicans are up to, as well.  I know President Obama has been working on his health plan, and he caught Bin Laden, and I’m certain that he has been run ragged with all the other issues and items on his agenda.  I know he’s worked at bipartisanship and created the gangs of six, but the Republicans don’t much like him, which sort of defeats his purpose.  I guess I expected something along the lines of a moral Clinton, a man with decency, honesty and genuine hard work who would balance the budget and turn the deficit into a surplus.  There would be other great accomplishments along the way, Bin Laden, to name one, but the surplus would solve so many other problems.  And I know that the times are different from when President Clinton served; real estate still bottomed out, gas prices through the roof, the unemployment rate sky high and the economy in the dumper are just a few of the problems President Obama faces. I really shouldn’t blame the president; it’s more the circumstances that I dislike.  I’m sure no man or woman could do better and it’s not really fair to judge him against President Clinton’s accomplishments (and failures).  It’s apples to lemons and guess who got the lemons.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the man still, it’s just the accomplishments, or lack thereof, with which I am a bit sadly disappointed.  I still would very much like to see President Obama serve a second term.  I hope the luxury of not playing for the votes would allow him to get creative, think outside the box, and make good stuff happen.

Activated in 2011, the current gang of six was appointed by President Obama to focus on the “compromise over the U.S. public debt from the National Commission of Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.”  The gang of six is presently reduced to a gang of five.  Sen. Tom Coburn (R. Oklahoma) has stated that he “needed to step away from negotiating.”  There is some hope among the other members that he will eventually return, but, so far, it looks unlikely.  The gang of six had produced a plan to reduce the deficit by 4 trillion over the next ten years.  According to sources, the group believed it was close to a tentative draft of a deal about three weeks ago.  Coburn found it necessary to review the details over the Senate’s Easter recess.  He returned to Washington with five or six new demands.  While Coburn was away with a family emergency, the remaining five reviewed those demands.  Upon returning, Coburn insisted on a further $130 billion in cuts to Medicare beyond the $400 billion proposed by the deficit committee.  And that’s when all communication fell apart.   Sen. Dick Durbin (D. Illinois) thought Coburn’s demands for further cuts to Medicare went “too far.”  Durbin is under pressure from his party not to dramatically reform Medicare.  The party had already attacked Rep. Paul Ryan (R. Wisconsin) for proposing to turn Medicare into a private health care system for future beneficiaries.  The original gang of six seemed ready to jump on domestic discretionary spending cuts and tax reforms, but instead, they left it up to the House and Senate committees to identify where to cut under their own jurisdictions.  Coburn intends to present his own package detailing how to cut $9 trillion in ten years.  Democrats responded that Coburn was making it difficult for the gang of six to obtain their goal of cutting $4 trillion over the next decade.  As it stands now, Vice President Joe Biden has his own bipartisan group (Blair House talks), commissioned by President Obama to come up with a deficit reduction plan to go along with this summer’s debt limit vote.  As of May 27th, Coburn still has not rejoined the gang of six, but the remaining five are “close to an agreement,” reported Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R. Georgia) on Wednesday.  Bipartisan groups are good in theory, but difficult under any circumstances.  I admire President Obama’s desire to initiate bipartisanship and to ease the tension and allow for constructive and productive talks, but I’m just not sure that it’s possible.

Camping Out

I wasn’t too concerned when Harold Camping predicted the end of the world on May 21st, 2011.  In his prediction, Camping said 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven and the rest of us, well, we’d be SOL.  When the day came and went without any apocalyptic action, Camping apologized for not having the date “worked out as accurately as I could have.”  Now, this is not the first time Camping has predicted the end of the world as we know it (and, apparently, it’s not to be the last).  He previously predicted the Apocalypse would come in 1994, but later said his math was wrong.  This is a man who has a major math malfunction.  According to Camping, instead of the rapture, May 21st turned out to be “a spiritual judgment day, which places the entire world under Christ’s judgment.”  With the math corrected and the Apocalypse again scheduled, Camping reports a five month discrepancy in his calculations.  The planet will cease to exist on October 21st, 2011.  Camping did not give away his vast fortune or possessions before May 21st in anticipation of the rapture as so many followers did.  As much as I refuse to take these predictions seriously, I’m beginning to get annoyed.  Too many followers do take the apocalyptic predictions seriously and they keep wiping out their financial status in order to be prepared for the rapture.  Camping is taking advantage of their faith and reaping the monetary benefits.  I’m tired of this man leading the pack and getting news coverage to do it.  It’s about time we ALL wised up and removed the guy from our radar.  Believe me, the man is a KOOK who doesn’t have a clue about much of anything.  Save your money for something really important like dental work, or car maintenance.  You’ll need that while you’re here.

I saw somewhere that snakes can see through their eyelids and that they never stop growing, which is why they need to shed their skin.  This made me curious about other animal anomalies and oddities.  I did a bit of research and came up with the following facts.  In Switzerland, twenty-eight cows leapt off a cliff over a three day span.  There is no known cause for this action.  In Jatinga, India, hundreds of birds from several different species dive to the ground to commit suicide every year.  It is believed by Indian scientists that atmospheric conditions in Jatinga confuse the birds, which causes them to lose their sense of direction and fly straight down, crashing into the ground.  Another interesting fact was discovered when scientist viewed aerial photos of cows grazing.  All of the cows faced the same direction when eating, either north or south.  It is believed that it has something to do with the earth’s magnetic field, which the cows are able to detect.  Why they face the magnetic pull when eating is anyone’s guess.  Most animals (and toads) have the ability to predict earthquakes.  Some can even know of an imminent earthquake a week in advance.  The animals will evacuate the area where the earthquake eventually hits.  Some other interesting facts about animals are that beavers can hold their breath for forty-five minutes underwater and a hippopotamus can stay underwater for thirty minutes.  Polar bears are left-handed and a crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.  Flamingos eat with their heads upside down in order to strain the water out of their food.  They are pink because their main source of food is shrimp.  The huge rock python of Africa is known for eating whole crocodiles and even children.  Finally and maybe most interesting is the Turritopsis Nutricula, a jellyfish that is essentially immortal.  It reaches adulthood and then transforms back into infancy and begins its life again.  Old age cannot kill it, although it is still susceptible to disease and fatal injuries.

What’s to talk about?  Nothin’ but the weather, which is spectacular, by the way.  Regardless of another short storm coming through tomorrow, it’s looking like spring.  The official first day of spring came in during more of Mother Nature’s dumping.  It’s been another hard and long winter and spring is just moments away – and most welcome.  Struggling through the difficult mountain winters in order to enjoy the rest of the year is wearing and tearing.  However, spring marks the onset of three seasons of usually, typically, sometimes, gorgeous weather and good times.  It’s fresh.  It’s new.  It’s spring.  Everything is beginning to bloom, flowers popping up everywhere.  The acacia trees are in full yellow glory.  And people are wearing smiles.  It’s a joy to be fresh, new and alive.  The air smells good and the trees bend and sway in time with the wind.  It’s a vision, outside.  It’s proof of life and love and the pursuit of happiness.  All of the tension and stress melts away.  Spring has sprung and summer and fall follow.  But, no matter what the weather, wet or dry, one of my favorite things is to clean around my kitchen sink and stare out the window at the redwood trees, the ivy growing everywhere and everything green on the ground and blue in the sky.

Why do beavers build dams?  That’s just one of the many questions that pester me, so I made it my business to find out.  Most articles will tell you that beavers build dams to create a body of water that is relatively safe for the beaver family.  Since they are good swimmers, the deeper water allows them more protection against predators.  While that may be true, I found another study that determined a different reason behind the dam-building beavers.  Beavers pick the narrowest part of a stream to build their dams, illustrating intelligence and engineering skills.  Beavers living in ponds, lakes and along rivers do not build dams.  In testing why beavers build dams, dam-building beavers were captured and let loose in different environments.  Burrowing in the bank and setting up housekeeping seemed to be it for those released in ponds, lakes and big rivers.  Those released along streams found the narrowest part of the stream and proceeded to build dams.  The “investigator” got to thinking.  He set up tape recorders along the streams, lakes, ponds and rivers.  The tape recorders played the sound of water rushing over gravel and rocks.  In all cases, the beavers covered the speakers with sticks, gravel and mud, silencing the noise.  The beavers covered the speakers until they could no longer hear the sound of rushing water.  The investigators believed this solved the case of why beavers build dams and why they always pick the narrowest part of the stream.  They hate the sound of rushing water and build dams to cover up the noise.  “Beavers build dams because they like peace and quiet.”