Contest Entry: Three-Minute Fiction

On Sunday evening, I entered my first writing contest.  It's short...literally.  "Three-Minute Fiction", put on by National Public Radio (NPR), has a simple premise: tell a story in 600 words or less.

The very notion of being forced to squish my writing style down like that makes me want to start chewing my nails.  It is not unlike - as my mother tells it - when I was punished as a child.  My mother knew better than to send me to stand in a corner...there I would simply daydream, perfectly content.  Having come up with a much better world in my head, I would become completely disinterested in this one, especially whatever it was I got in trouble for in the first place.  No, she knew better than that.  The best way, it turned out, was to make me sit still.  Just sit there, not moving from my seat.  According to her, I would crawl right out of my skin in frustration.

Which is exactly why I chose this contest. 

I wanted a challenge.  I wanted to stretch my abilities and see what I could come up with when made to step away from the habits which sometimes work for me, but just as often steal my wallet and fly to Vegas...metaphorically speaking, of course.  I wanted to crawl out of my skin.

The contest, however, was not going to be that easy.  There are other strictures each round.  For this one, the story had to begin with the line "Some people swore that the house was haunted", and end with the line "Nothing was ever the same again after that." 

Here's the explanation for the choice from NPR:
Those lines were written by the judge for this round, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham. He tells NPR's Guy Raz that he wrote the opening line because he's a huge fan of ghost stories.
"Though I don't expect everyone to write a literal ghost story," he cautions. "There are all sorts of hauntings, many of which do not necessarily involve the spirits of the dead."
The last line was inspired by the great Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. Cunningham says Gogol "didn't actually use that line, but said that every good story should come to such a definitive conclusion that its true, unwritten last line is 'Nothing was ever the same again after that.' I want my writers to use it literally."

Fair enough.

The winner will be declared on November 30.  I won't post the piece until after it's over and they announce the winner.  I'll let you know how it turns out, or you can go to the site and follow along.

© Content property of Andromeda Ross, all rights reserved.

><(((*> BM07: Tasseograph Trash Tea Temple

Tasseograph Trash Tea Temple

I took this photo my first year at Burning Man.  I had gotten my camera the year before, and was getting kind of good at this whole picture-taking thing.  As I was headed out to one of the more extreme places you can take a camera, I had learned how to keep her safe from the playa, and my photographer's eye was eager for the eye candy rumored to abound.  I was not disappointed.

It should be noted that there were two absolutely gorgeous temples that year, and I loved each of them for different reasons.  [By the way, if you're not familiar with Burning Man, you should definitely go here now.]  For the last couple of weeks, I've been featuring a picture of the larger temple (don't worry, it will be back).  The large temple was zen style, so peaceful you felt you could melt into the ether or some such thing.  For aesthetic purposes, however, my favorite was, by far, the TTT Temple.  It had this whole eclectic gypsy vibe and I'm a total sucker for that.  It also provided some really nice perspectives to work with and gave a nice contrast to the large temple.

© Content property of Andromeda Ross, all rights reserved.

><(((*> Tricky Fish Photography introduces its first official logo!

It has been a long time coming, but after numerous delays, I hereby unveil the official new Tricky Fish Photography logo!

Tricky Fish Photography - new logo (version #1)

I will definitely be tweaking some aspects of this logo, as well as creating other versions to go with different types of photos, situations, etc.  But for now?  I'm one happy fish.

© Content property of Andromeda Ross, all rights reserved.

Find: BYKI

If you're into language study and can't afford Rosetta Stone or other similar language learning software, I have an alternative solution: try BYKI.  BYKI, or Before You Know It, has a lot of great stuff to help with language.

You can go to There you have two options.

  • FREE DOWNLOAD:  That's right.  FREE.  There are only about 12 lists to study, but it's not a trial that goes away or asks you to buy in 30 days.  You can use them over and over again whenever you want.  It's a great taste of a language and a nice basic reference.
  • DELUXE EDITION:  You can get the deluxe edition for something like $70 .  I did not purchase this, and have only used some basic functions on Rosetta Stone, so I could not say which one, cost to benefit ratio, is the better value.  Still, any time I can save cash and achieve at least part of my goals makes me happy.
I recommend trying the free download first, and see what you think.  If you like it, try the Deluxe Edition, and then please post your final verdict on the software in a comment on this post.  It seems that you can download as many as you want.  You just input your email (I always recommend using a junk email account for any new site you sign onto), check or uncheck the options, and then click on the permissions from that email.  The first language you download installs the software in general.  Each language you download after only installs that language's set of lists, which is nice, because really, who wants a hundred sets of the same software?  To date, I have added lists for Russian, Spanish, Italian, French German (the main languages I study), as well as Japanese and Irish (which I want to start studying next).

  • No Spam: As a novice computer nerd, I know a lot more about how to take care of my computer than most, but I'm no genius.  So I always try to be careful when downloading anything from the net.  I checked out some reviews on BYKI off-site, and the general consensus at this point seems to be no spamming or corruptions of any kind.  If anyone hears different, or encounters something icky as a result of downloading it, I would very much like to know.
  • PRACTICE & REVIEW/TESTING SECTIONS: The software has steps, first having you practice the lists and then testing you on them.  The software notes where you have trouble with specific phrases and keeps throwing them at you until you get them down.
  • ORAL/AURAL: The great thing about most software as opposed to books (even those that include a limited CD) is that you get to hear the language, a vital aspect to learning it.  How can you speak it if you don't know what it sounds like? 'Nough said.
  • WRITTEN:  So they show you the word or phrase written out, including special punctuation and pronunciation accents.  When you have to do the answers in written form, there is a keyboard so that you can get used to writing with accents and in different alphabets (like Cyrillic).
  • COMMUNITY: It seems you can get an account on BYKI in order to take part in the online community and create your own lists.  I just now discovered this as I was getting more information from the site to write this post, but I intend to check it out more fully when I get time.  I imagine that part of this community will include discussion boards and possibly finding like people to meet up with in your areas.
This is a sort of preliminary review, but overall, I like what I see from this software.  I will more than likely post again in a few months when I have a bit more experience with it.  For now, I will say that, overall, this software is pretty awesome.  I'd love to hear any other thoughts on this software: experiences, likes, dislikes, etc.

Best of luck!

© Content property of Andromeda Ross, all rights reserved.

Form vs. Function: Phase 1 - The Poll

Hello, all.

 I'm preparing an essay on Form & Function, specifically in how they pertain to image & how we look at ourselves.  Always the amateur scientist [Tangent: aren't all scientists amateur?  I mean, is the point of science monetary gain?  Too easy.], I decided to start with a big of statistic gathering.  I posted a poll on  my LinkedIn profile [see above link], and so far I've gotten a few responses and some interesting data....

 Still, I need more.  The poll is a single question, and should take no time at all.  Just click the question below.  Also, feel free to leave comments, either on LinkedIn or here as to your thoughts on the matter.  I love free input.

© Content property of Andromeda Ross, all rights reserved.