The Grand prize winner…Batman!

Some of you may remember that Kyle won the ultimate super-spectacular grand prize from the Create Your Own NGO contest, which was a personal visit from yours truly. Besides the big winner, Kyle is also my brother who graduated with PhD while I was in Cambodia. I missed his graduation party, but sent this slide show message.

Anyhow, I spent 5-days with Kyle on his new home, the island of Galveston, Texas, which Kyle, now after having his bike stolen, affectionately calls Galvatraz.

Galveston is a strange place. In places it’s Key West, in others it’s the hood. We rode bikes around, tossed the football on the beach, sweated our butts off, and ate lots of good food, including apple pie ice cream. …

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Thoughts on my WV interview

First off, if you haven’t listened to my interview, you stink.

Now that we have that out of the way…my thoughts on the interview:

The interview lasted about 40 minutes and they cut it to about six, which I’m fine with. It’s not like it’s the Kelsey Show or anything.

They did a great job making me not sound like an idiot.

I would believe anything that Peggy, the host, tells me – there’s just something about her voice. So, by association you should believe everything I tell you.

The interview was the most difficult one of the three because the connection was so bad. There was a major delay and it was hard to banter back and forth with Peggy. Editing took care of this awkwardness.

They had to…

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Touron Controversy

Someone responded to a discussion on the use of the word Touron in a WorldHum post the other day.

Here’s what she had to say:

I Find the use of the word Touron rather ridiculous in the short form of Moron – Tourist. Did anyone stop and think to look up whether that word was someones last name! Did they stop and think that maybe the French Touron family would be pretty upset to find their good name slandered in slang!! I cannot believe the stupidity of some people who make up words and believe they are the creator of the next best thing. This is truely moronic in itself.

As the self-proclaimed Great Touron King I felt compelled to respond:

I have a friend who’s last name is Butt. …

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Aboard the Pirate Master ship

Picton Castle

Last year I went on the Picton Castle for a story for the short-lived Glucose Magazine. This summer the ship starred in the CBS-flop Pirate Master. It only aired for a few weeks. Don’t blame the PC’s crew or the PC because, for the most part, they rock. I expect if they show would have featured the crew instead of nut-case, attention-starved contestants producers find to be on reality shows, it would have been a success.

I viewed an episode online and at first I didn’t recognize her very much. She’s got a new, meaner looking Black-Pearl-like paint job and the decks been outfitted to appear more pirate-y.

Read the feature, Before & After the Mast, I wrote…

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8/9 Child labor in the bizarro world of Bangladesh

How complex can human rights and labor issues be? Consider this…

A good argument can be made that factories who employee children are the humanitarians and the westerners who call for an end to child labor are actually harming the children.

Personally, I wouldn’t argue this. I would say that both parties are being unrealistic and stubborn. But the important thing to understand is that in Bangladesh/garment industry/the globalized world, what’s bad might be good and what’s good might be bad. Kinda. Maybe.

I’m writing a scene on the labor industry in Bangladesh today and came across this interesting article on that hashes over some of the complexities. Note, that has not been updated since February of 2006. Maybe they just threw their hands…

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A thought on H-O-R-S-E

When I was in China I tried to teach some fellas to play H-O-R-S-E. There was just one problem. They didn’t know how to spell “horse.” I eventually gave up….

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Where am I eating?

Last night while driving home, I passed a young boy selling tomatoes along the side of a back-country road. Having been raised on a back-country road myself and having had a lemonade stand and having had slung tomatoes at passing cars, the site struck several cords of nostalgia with me.

I pulled in a lane just past him to turn around and buy him out of his stock, but alas, I only had $2. Damn my credit card reliance!

I’m sure the tomatoes would have been tasty and, if asked where they came from, he probably would have turned around and pointed to a nearby field or garden. It’s nice to know where your food comes from. The thing is that we don’t have a clue where most of our food comes from.

Food doesn’t come stamped with a “Made in” label. I never knew how scary all of this was until I listened to this story on NPR’s Here and Now. Countries exporting food to the USA don’t have to meet any certain standards. It is the responsibility of the USDA’s 450 (that’s right only 450) inspectors to make sure the food we’re getting isn’t laced with rat poison, or feces, or the feces of poisoned rats. In total, they inspect a fraction of one-percent of all foods imported into the USA.

The scariest part of the Here & Now interview is the discussion about China. China was shipping us something, and that something had too-high levels of something not good for us. The USDA informed the Chinese company. What did they do? Instead of taking out the something that’s not good for us, they added another chemical that would fool the USDA’s test.

As for the Chinese killer dog food – the Chinese company was trying to cut a corner by including less protein (apparently protein is expensive) in the dog food, but more of a chemical that would fool tests into thinking that there was a sufficient amount of protein in the food. This chemical just happened to be lethal to Fido.

If food came with “Made in” labels, I would be looking at them and thinking twice before I bought something “Made in China.”

For more on where our processed food comes from, you should check out “Twinkie Deconstructed” by Steve Ettlinger. Steve traces all of those multi-syllabic ingredients on a Twinkie wrapper to the places of their origin, a sort of “Where am I eating?” quest. I just started the book and, for me, it’s a bit too technical for my enjoyment, but it is pretty cool to learn that Twinkies and bombs have more in common than that they will kill you. They share ingredients!

And if you are looking for more Ohio produce Nostalgia take a peek beyond the cut.

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Will write for orphans

Casa Guatemala

No, not that if I write I will be given orphans. But that I will write for the benefit of orphans, specifically this orphanage in Guatemala known as Casa Guatemala. Angie the director writes a letter in the best English that she can and then I try to polish it up a bit for her.

You can read the latest update/please-give-us-money letter below the cut.

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The not sucking has begun


The Bangladesh chapter is about 90% complete. I’m in the process of pulling at and strengthening the narrative thread to make it stand out a little more. I’ve also been toying around with the Honduras chapter, which I’m completely rewriting from the “Made in Honduras” chapter you’ll find to the right, and also the introduction.

Several agents have requested the book proposal and it’s my goal to get it to them before the end of the month. Apparently, the publishing industry is dead in August, which means agents have time to read proposals, but there is not much they can do with them until September.

I’ve posted the rough draft of my intro below the cut. I’m not sure it’s the wisest thing to encourage people to not read your book in the introduction, but in this draft I did.

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