The Midwest Writers’ Conference Day 1

One thing not so great about writers’ conferences is that they make you do silly exercises. Like this one I did in the workshop of Crescent Dragonwagon (yep, that’s her name. I took this session on “how to writer with the emergency brake off mostly because I wanted to meet the person behind the name. If you were wondering, she has red hair and wears a lot of black.)

The goal is to write your name vertically down the side of the page and then writing a few paragraphs using the letters of your name. The only rule is that you should try to have more than one word associated with each letter and it should be words that just pop in your head so you…

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The USA Exports T-shirts?

In fact we do. But not brand new ones.

40% of the world’s used clothing exports originate in the USA. This is why if you’re in Romania, you could see a faded Deloit Dragons Little League shirt on which the letters have fallen off to reveal unfaded shadows of them, being worn by a wrinkled grandma.

This is also why in Africa the Buffalo Bills are one of the greatest NFL Dynasties of all-time.

Read Far away, Super Bowl’s Losers Will Be Champs

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The Hash

The Hash House Harriers is a drinking club with a running problem.

One person is appointed “The Hare” and lays out a trail using flower or spray paint. The group attempts to navigate the Hare’s trail trying not to get distracted by various false trails and dead ends. When the trail ends the drinking begins.

I went on my first hash in Cambodia after reading about an opportunity to “run through the countryside surrounding Phnom Penh” in the newspaper. I went. It poured. It was awesome.

Imagine that you live out in the countryside and you are sitting on your porch waiting out a torrential down pour. And then a string of soaked foreigners splashes by in running shorts. Trust me. You’ve never seen…

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"Lightning Bugs" in the CS Monitor

In my neck of the woods we call them Lightning Bugs. So you can tell the editors assigned their own title in my most recent contribution to the CS Monitor, Fireflies illuminate summer memories.

I like the title, but to me they’ll always be Lightning bugs. Lightning vs. Fire…which one sounds cooler? I thought you would agree with me.

And if you were wondering, I caught some lightning bugs since I’ve been home this summer. And let me tell you, it’s not easy catching them when you’ve got a dog following you snapping them out of the air….

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On Rickshaws…

Rickshaws

From today’s writing…

The Bangladeshi rickshaw is a bicycle-powered, poor-man’s chariot.

A rider perches themselves on the narrow seat that requires sitting with the most perfect of postures. The drivers, known as a wallahs, push at the pedals with their skinny legs and pull at the handles with their veined arms to get the creaking contraptions rolling. The chain runs from the bike to the wheels beneath the carriage. There are no gears. Faced with much of an incline, drivers dismount and pull their rickshaw. Lucky for them, Bangladesh is one of the flattest countries in the world.

It’s not uncommon to see families of five on one rickshaw – a Bangladeshi mini-van.

The drivers pedal in the offensive heat and humidity. …

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Digging a hole all the way to…America

Colby Buzzell has an interesting piece, “Digging a hole all the way to…America” on China in this months Esquire. He writes about American flags Made in China, Starbucks, Wal-mart, and the great migration to China’s new megacities.

For the piece, Buzzell visits Shenzhen, which is very similar to Guangzhou (where I was) in its batty-ness over capitalism and, in fact, is only about 1.5 hours from G-zhou (that‘s what the cool kids call it).

Some interesting facts about the population of Shenzhen: In 1980 it was less than 100,000. In 1990 it was 900,000. In 2000 – 6.5 million. And today – 11 million.

This map about the great migration ran with the story. There are more than 90 cities with a…

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Cosmo Kramer in Cambodia Contemplating Cosmos

Are you a celebrity? Did your image take a nose dive after you were arrested for giving underage midgets shots of Tequila intravenously while attending a folk music festival in Alaska? Or maybe you were doing stand-up and completely lost your cool stringing together a long chain of racial slurs captured on a cell phone?

Forget rehab? Travel. Get away, to somewhere exotic where you can talk to the press about things like the spirituality in stone and walk around the slums holding HIV babies.

Michael Richards is the latest celebrity to escape. I would be interested to know if the fella who wrote this story found Richards or Richards found him. Is Richards trip an image-cleaner campaign, a vacation, or spiritual search for the…

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Ron Artest died for our sins

Saint ArtestThe Sacramento Kings Ron Artest is in Africa doing things and feeling good about it. In his own words (from espn.com):

“I am doing many positive things this summer. … Me, Maurice Evans, Theo Ratliff and Etan Thomas are holding HIV babies and walking around in the slums where kids have no running water or electricity and no shoes on their feet, feeding rice and beans to kids.”

Sounds like Ron might be onto something here. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all walked around the slums holding HIV babies? Really, wouldn’t it?

Ron’s cause might give my own NGO a run for its money and maybe even Kyle’s….

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