91 of 4,000

I cranked out 4,000 words today on the Bangladesh chapter. Here’s 91 of them…

Three men wearing pink frocks are examining my “Jingle These” underwear. I mean really examining them. They pull them, stretch them, rub the fabric between their fingers, examine seams, hold them up to the light, pretty much everything but smelling them.

I packed light for this trip and the boxers still hold a place in my underwear rotation. As I watch the examination take place, I try and think of when I wore them last and if I had washed them since. I never expected them to come under such scrutiny….

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Helping doesn’t always help

I never got around to posting about the other two parts of the Dateline piece, I will eventually. Until then, I wrote about it today while working on my Bangladesh chapter.

In 1993, Dateline NBC aired footage from inside a garment factory in Bangladesh, featuring a Wal-Mart production line where kids as young as seven were operating machines and trimming garments.

Wal-Mart argued that the people of Bangladesh are extremely malnourished and that people that appear to be seven-year-old kids are actually adult Bangladeshis whose growth has been stunted.

Obviously this ridiculous spin of the situation in Bangladesh did nothing to falsify the accusations. “Made in Bangladesh” became synonymous with “Made by Children.”

The American consumer, out of concern for the child laborers of Bangladesh, took action the only way…

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A great weekend to be a writer

Writers’ conferences are depressing and they are uplifting.

The truth is always thrown in your face: how the slush piles are leaning towers of crappy writing; how slim the chances of you being published actually are. But for me this conference was mostly uplifting for a couple of reasons.

1) Every conference I’ve attended I leave feeling blessed to write nonfiction. There are a lot of places for me to publish my work and buildup the ever important “platform.” But the poor fiction writers carrying around their 858-page space/time travel romance fantasy novel they describe as “like Harry Potter, but with more sex and no wizards, and…you know…in space,” you’d have to be heartless not to feel their pain. There are very few magazines that publish…

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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…


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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