Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The world's biggest gun show

 I got this from Amnesty International:



Dear Tracy,

Need an AK-47? How about 6,000 for an army of child soldiers?

The International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), which concluded last week in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, bills itself as one of the biggest arms bazaars in the world. However, among the more than 1,100 companies exhibiting at IDEX were manufacturers whose products have made it a lot easier for bad guys to wreak havoc. After all, there are currently no global checks in place to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

We've got less than a month to go before states convene at the United Nations in New York to finalize a historic Arms Trade Treaty. Take action now to make this Arms Trade Treaty strong so that no more weapons can fall through gaping loopholes and into dangerous hands.

Amnesty International has been able to trace the flow of weapons from manufacturers exhibiting at IDEX to the very weapons used in countries where serious human rights abuses have taken place.

There were no checks in place then to stop the free flow of weapons:
  • from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, even though the country was embroiled in a brutal civil war that lasted three decades
  • or from China to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where both armed groups and government forces alike use child soldiers
  • or from the United States to Bahrain, like the tear gas used by government forces against peaceful protesters
But we can ensure that there are checks in place now if we urge the Obama administration to support a strong Arms Trade Treaty.

All the while, NRA officials keep fueling a false #gunversation about the Arms Trade Treaty claiming that its purpose is to infringe on American gun owners rights -- knowing full well that it has no impact on gun rights within U.S. borders whatsoever. In fact, the gun lobby will be in D.C. today continuing to spread their misinformation campaign during Congressional hearings about gun control.

So if NRA officials have their way and the Arms Trade Treaty is weakened, then we would see more children recruited as soldiers, more women raped in conflict zones, more families driven from their homes and more senseless deaths.

We've got to make sure the record is set straight before March 18, when Arms Trade Treaty negotiations begin. We must do all we can to close dangerous loopholes, like the one that makes international gun shows an open bazaar for the suppliers of warlords and human rights criminals.

The Arms Trade Treaty has the potential to protect families from gun violence on a global scale. Show President Obama that you care about protecting families worldwide against gun violence by taking action now.

Your voice makes a difference in the global gun debate.

Thank You,

Michelle Ringuette
Chief of Campaigns & Programs
Amnesty International USA

It is THE Human Rights Conference of the year

I got this from Amnesty International: 


Dear Tracy,

I want you to Use Your Power!

From March 22-24, you're invited to do so in a major way during Amnesty International's Annual General Meeting and Human Rights Conference.

We'll gather just minutes away from Washington, D.C. in the beautiful city of Bethesda to tackle some of most pressing human rights issues and questions facing our world today. You'll be able to connect with leading human rights experts, organizers and mobilizers from around the world and gain essential skills in advocacy and community organizing.

Register today! Space is filling up quickly.

As Director of Events, I've had the pleasure of attending more Amnesty gatherings than I can count! But year after year, Amnesty's Human Rights Conference continues to inspire me like no other. There's no other event that combines activism through concerts, marches, lectures and workshops in such a powerful way!

Here's just a taste of who you could meet when you come to Use Your Power:
  • Lydia Cacho -- Mexican journalist, author and a feminist activist against violence
  • De'Jaun Correia -- nephew of Troy Davis
  • Laila el-Haddad -- author, blogger, political analyst, social activist, and parent-of-three from Gaza City. Her work includes Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between and The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey
  • Colin Goddard -- survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting in April 2007 and anti-gun violence activist
And you won't be able to deny the electricity that comes from having Congressman Jim McGovern, filmmaker Carlos Lascano, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, performer Luix Saldana and inspiring bands SOJA and Sins of the Loose Buttons all under the same roof! Get more details about Amnesty's Human Rights Conference.

Don't miss out -- there's no better time than right now to register.

Hope to see you there!
Rocio Diaz
Director of Events
Amnesty International USA

shopping/ Say No to Hunger/ political joke

Feb. 3 Shopping: I was at City Centre a couple of weeks ago.  The shoe store Aldo moved to across the hallway.  The Yoga store Key Lime closed down.  The Winners sign got renovated. 

The little store that is against the wall by Winners has closed down.  I have seen quite a few stores close down in that location.  There was a Culture Craze, then it sold jewelry, then it sold baths and soaps from Aboriginals, then it sold bags.

The little restaurant Get Fresh closed down.  It was by Second Cup.

Wedding as an ending: After watching the TV movie Love's Everlasting Courage, it reminds me of some romantic comedies, and season finales where they use weddings as an ending.  However, this also reminded me of this other TV show.

2gether: This comedy show is about a fictional boy band called 2gether.  They get sued by a woman who heard one of their songs and got so turned on she had sex with her boyfriend, and got pregnant.  Later they meet her and she tells them she got paid off by the record company of $80.  Most of it went to the lawyer.  Her boyfriend dumped her after she got pregnant.

The guys feel sorry for her so they let her stay with them.  Chad and Jerry finds the boyfriend.  It's either the Good Guy or the Bad Guy with the same name.  They say to each guy: "If you're the father, step up and take responsibility."

At the end, the Bad Guy comes in: "I was thinking about what you said yesterday and I decided to step and be the father.  So who's the girl I got pregnant?"  The Pregnant woman enters and she sees him. 

Pregnant woman: Oh hi there, I don't believe we've met.
They shake hands.
Good Guy enters.
Good Guy: I'm so sorry for dumping you, let's get married.

Kid's puppet show: This even reminds me of the time in 2010, I went to visit family in Calgary.  My four yr old cousin gave me a tour of her house.  She picked up a panda bear puppet from the basement and brought it upstairs.  She then gave me a puppet show.

Panda bear: I'm a panda bear.
Polar bear: And I'm a polar bear.  Let's get married!
Panda bear: Yeah!

She then puts them down, and puts up two other puppets.  They saw a few lines.  Then she pulls out tow other puppets and it goes on.  Of course, the writer in me was thinking: "Why do these two get married?  Oh what?  Because they're bears?"

Feb. 10 Post Secret: There were Valentine's day secrets.  There was an email at the end: 
"Dear Frank,

A year ago, you posted my secret right before Valentine's Day. It said 'I wish you still loved me the way you did when we drove down this road in Montauk.'

When I saw my secret that Sunday, I was both surprised and heartbroken. At the time it was posted we weren't speaking. But he saw it, and he knew it was mine.

Now, a year later, we are back together. I just wanted to thank you for letting me share my secret and allowing me to connect with not just him, but everyone who related to my postcard."

Feb. 11 Rant: This is a mild rant.  I was so used to taking the early bus over the weekend to get to work, that I took the early bus today when I didn't have to.  I got to work 30 min. earlier instead of 15 min. earlier.  Yeah, well it's better to be early than late.

Another mild rant is that I'm supposed to do some banking and it says I could do one of three ways.  Go on the internet, so I tried to, but it didn't' work.  Then I tried the phone way.  I called this woman there, and she sounded East Indian.  She was good and all, but I couldn't get my business done over it.

So I'll have to go to the last one, go to the bank in person.  I can do that after work.  It's good to stretch and try something new when I was on the phone.

Say No to Hunger: I was clicking on www.thehungersite.com.  If you click on it, it will donate food to charity.  I then found this link called "Say No to Hunger" in Canada.

Please sign this petition:

http://www.saynotohunger.ca/SayNoToHunger/Sign-The-Petition.aspx

Feb. 14 Fun calls: I remember working at Call Centre #1.  I used to get all these crazy phone calls.  Then at all those other call centres I worked at afterwards, none of them were funny or interesting.

Maybe a fun call other than from Call Centre #1, was someone saying: "I'm surprised no one hung up on you.  The questions are so weird."

Stress: I've been stressed out at work because I have increased my hours by a lot.  I don't have as much free time now.  I'm forewarning you that I won't be writing much about work or business news as much.  So don't expect the emails to be like: job email, writing email, and fun email.

It will probably be 2 fun emails and 1 writing email.  I haven't been writing much of my script and it's a bit more difficult to find time to write my emails.  I have cut down my reading of the newspaper to 24 newspaper on the bus.  I will try to read my other newspapers that I get if I can for articles I really like to read like book reviews.

Feb. 20 Music video: One of my co-workers is black and he is watching this music video, so I joined him.  It's called "Millions" by the rappers Pusha T feat. Rick Ross.  The beginning of the video was promising.

It looked like it was filmed for a movie with the kind of camera they used.  It begins with a SWAT team breaking into a motel.  A few min. into it, it reminded me of the action movie Miami Vice.  It starred Colin Farrel and Jamie Foxx.  There is a little bit of a story in this video with busting drug dealers.  It kind of inspired me to write.

However, I don't like the song.  Here's the explicit version if you want to hear and watch it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hU6VqlnrQhM

Earlier that day, an East Indian co-worker of mine was playing this song by a rapper named Kendrick Lamar.  I haven't heard of him, but if you like rap, check this song out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G0w3N-k91E

Political joke:
I got this from Daily Silly.  It sounds like something Jay Leno would say on his TV show.

"The White House announced that the theme for President Obama's second inauguration will be Faith in America's Future. The idea is to get our minds off of America's present."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Congress, we demand justice for all women – not some

 I got this from Amnesty International:


Dear Tracy,

Congress turned its back on women last year when it shamefully failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for the first time since 1994.

The reason? A group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives wanted to deny protections for three communities that face disproportionate levels of violence -- Native American and Alaska Native women, immigrant women and LGBT individuals.

But there is hope. Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a strong, inclusive and bipartisan VAWA that will help support all women facing violence and exploitation.

Amnesty is mobilizing an urgent effort to get an identical bill passed in the House. Please donate now and support our work to defend human rights.

The stakes couldn't be higher.
  • 1 in 3 Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped in her lifetime. When the perpetrator is a non-Native man – as in 86% of cases – a complex maze of jurisdictional issues can delay the judicial process or potentially even allow the perpetrator to escape justice.
  • Immigrant women often face higher rates of sexual harassment and domestic abuse – but when it comes to seeking justice, they have few legal rights and little protection from abusers who could exploit their immigration status.
  • LGBT violence survivors often face discrimination when attempting to access potentially life-saving social services – discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
An inclusive VAWA would put an end to these injustices . Stand with us and help pressure Congress to put partisan politics aside and protect the rights of all women. Donate now.

Your donation will help mobilize grassroots activists to pressure Congress through phone calls and office visits, educate the public about the current gaps in services that survivors face, and pressure key Representatives to muster the political will to support an inclusive bill.

If you believe in justice for all people – not justice for some – donate now.

Thank you for all that you do to protect human rights.

Cristina Finch
Managing Director, Women's Human Rights Program
Amnesty International USA

harassmap/ stress management/ helping people

Feb. 1 Harassmap: I read about this in 24.  Rebecca Chiao co- founded this app to help Egyptian women know where women get harassed the most at.  They can then either avoid going there, or if they do go there and get harassed, they can immediately report it.

In 24: "The data collected is used to break stereotypes as volunteers go out to ask people to guard their own streets against harassment.

Here's an article in Zeenews.india.com if you want to read it.  You can report anything like: "verbal harassment, groping, stalking and indecent exposure."
http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/new-harass-map-helping-egyptian-women-to-fight-against-sexual-harassment_818304.html

Here's Harassmap, translated:

http://translate.google.ca/translate?hl=en&sl=ar&u=http://harassmap.org/&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dharass%2Bmap%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26hs%3D7R7%26tbo%3Dd%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official&sa=X&ei=YloMUZ7HF4PkiwK92YCYDw&ved=0CDkQ7gEwAA

ihollaback.org: This reminds me of an article I read in a Seventeen magazine.  It was about www.nychollaback.blogspot.com.  I typed it in, and didn't get it, but instead found this.  It's basically women getting harassed for just walking down the street.

You can post pics of guys who harass you, and the story of what they did.  This is a good site, check it out:

http://www.ihollaback.org/

Call centre #1: When I read that 24 article, it brought a flashback of 2005 when I was working at Call Centre #1.  I was talking to this guy at the beginning of the phone call, and then he said he had a question.  I said: "Sure."  I thought it was going to be the usual "How long is this going to take?"

Instead he asked me what kind of underwear I was wearing.  I then said: "Wait a moment."  My supervisor walked by me and I stopped him: "This guy is sexually harassing me on the phone."

Supervisor: Just say, thank you for your time, and hang up.

I didn't say anything to the guy, and just hung up on the guy.  I expected my supervisor to be outraged and be like: "What?  What did he say to you?  I'm going to give him a piece of my mind."  Supervisor would then get on the phone and be like: "Don't go sexually harassing my employees!  You should be ashamed of yourself!"  He didn't, and I didn't either.

Feb. 14: My friend Sherry emailed me back about this email I wrote.

Me: Jan. 14 Good news: I found this video on Yahoo.  This 6 yr old boy was kidnapped by his paternal grandparents 19 yrs ago when they fought for custody.  Now the boy is 24 yrs old and will be reunited with his parents.

It's kind of sad that the parents missed out on seeing their kid grow up, but at least the kid was raised by grandparents instead of a child molester.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/video/kidnapped-indiana-boy-found-19-120550791.html

Sherry sent me this link and there's more to the story:

http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2013/01/michael-landers-dad-breaks-silence-about-sons-abduction-says-he-forgives-parents-for-taking-him/


Stress management: Lynda Albertson had sent me a article called "30 Blogs with the Best Self-Help Advice."  Now I'm reading about stress management because I have been under a lot of stress lately.  For the past few weeks I've been working way more hours.
http://www.nannybabysitter.com/blog/30-blogs-with-the-best-self-help-advice/

Self-help Stress Management: Healthyplace.com gave some tips:

1. Keep a stress journal.
2. Learn to relax.
3. Breathing effectively.
4. Coping techniques.  (Meditation, visualization, mindfulness, and yoga.)
5. Exercise.
6. Avoid stimulants.
7. Try aromatherapy oils.
http://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/articles/self-help-stress-management/

Feb. 23 Undoing Stress: I clicked on it and it leads to a stress test.  It asks about physical things like do you exercise frequently, do you neglect your diet?  Then it asks some psychological questions like "Do you frequently spend a lot of time complaining about
the past?"


http://www.lessons4living.com/stress_test.htm

Stress self-help: I clicked on this link, and it's a blog from Anne Whitehouse who has a Phd.  She gives these self-help energy exercises.

http://lifealchemyblog.com/articles/stress-self-help/

Stress reduction and meditation centre: This leads me to Self help Magazine.  I click on "Stess management" and it says "No results found."  However, there are other articles for things like raising teenagers. 

http://www.selfhelpmagazine.com/stress-reduction.php

Self-help: stress management:
Now this website is pretty good.  Here's a good tip:

"Plan for change: Coping with the unexpected is a great source of stress; however, you have control over many elements of your life. Whenever possible, plan to avoid too many big changes coming at the same time, and try to accept and prepare for the inevitable changes."

Sometimes change can be good, and sometimes it can be bad.  Bad like getting unexpectedly laid off.  Then it can be good when you get a good job.

http://www.utdallas.edu/counseling/stress/

Zellers: I found this article that Zellers shut down their Facebook page.

http://www.torontosun.com/2013/01/18/zellers-to-shut-down-facebook-page-monday

Mercan Recruit: Have you ever heard of them before?  I haven't until I applied to this job ad and it turns out it was for this staffing agency.  They emailed me and then I declined.

Feb. 24 Helping people: My sister had said: "You can't help people who don't want to be helped."  I was thinking about how I haven't been to counseling in awhile.  By the end of Feb. I haven't gone to counseling in 3 months.  I've been really busy with work, and I feel fine.

I have a co-worker who smokes, so I cut out an article for her about how smoking is bad, especially for women.  She kept the article, but she's still smoking.  I have another co-worker who has an energy drink everyday.  I was reading an article about how they're bad for you because there is so much caffeine and sugar in it.  He read the article and gave it back to me.  He says he's still going to keep drinking it.

I'm not nagging them.  I'm giving them these articles that are from doctors and scientists, and reputable sources.  I'm not really angry that they didn't change or anything.  I have planted the seed into them thinking about their habits.

The website Putin doesn't want you to see

 I got this from Amnesty International:

 http://pussyriot.amnestyusa.org/?msource=W1302EAIAR3

Dear Tracy,

Last night, Amnesty activists rocked out for human rights in Washington, DC, steps from the Russian Embassy. We gathered to mark the one-year anniversary since Pussy Riot performed a protest song in Moscow's main Orthodox cathedral -- the performance that landed two members of the feminist punk group in prison.

We came together for Pussy Riot and freedom of expression in Russia. We were LOUD. The Russian authorities would love to sweep us under the rug. But they can't hide the government's continuing assault on human rights -- and they can't hide us.

Be loud. Tell the Russian government to respect free speech and free Pussy Riot when you join thousands of others -- including famous rockers like Sting, Roger Waters and Pearl Jam -- on our Pussy Riot world map!

Check it out -- our Pussy Riot world map doesn't lie. Thousands around the world have taken up Pussy Riot's case and joined our solidarity map. And hundreds of thousands have called on the Russian authorities to release Maria "Masha" Alekhina and Nadezhda "Nadya" Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, immediately and unconditionally.

Masha and Nadya need our help, especially now. Sent to brutal penal colonies hundreds of miles from their families, both women face a difficult two-year imprisonment. Nadya is currently in the hospital for a chronic illness, and Masha has been threatened by other inmates.

Russia's authorities seem to think they can scrub Pussy Riot away. While Pussy Riot's performance one year ago was caught on video, the Russian authorities banned it as "extremist," based on a loosely worded law intended to crack down on dissent and freedom of expression. The group's videos have disappeared from the Russian Internet.

We can't let the Russian authorities just erase Pussy Riot's story. Last night, when crowds recreated Pussy Riot's performance in full sight of the Russian Embassy, we showed that we will NOT be silenced.

We're turning up the volume to 11 for Pussy Riot, and we intend to keep it there!

Get on the map and get on the Russian government's human rights radar in support of Pussy Riot and freedom of expression!

Sincerely,

Jasmine Heiss
Campaigner, Individuals and Communities at Risk
Amnesty International USA

P.S. We'll be headed back to the Russian Embassy on March 4 to make a big statement with our Pussy Riot solidarity world map on the 1st anniversary of Pussy Riot's arrest. We need as many people as possible to stand up and be counted for Pussy Riot -- don't forget to share with your friends!

Heart warming words of thanks

I got this from Amnesty International:


A family visit for Gao Zhisheng and heartwarming words of thanks to you!
Our 1.8 million letters are getting results

Gao Zhisheng was allowed a visit with his family in prison
Read more successes and words of thanks from Write for Rights
Thank you for responding to our urgent action on Gao Zhisheng, the prominent lawyer who has been detained and tortured in China for his human rights work.
I'm pleased to share with you the good news that Gao was granted a visit by his family on February 12th! I'd also like to pass on to you this message from his wife Geng He:

"Following a Letter-Writing Marathon ('Write for Rights') organized by Amnesty International at the end of last year and the international community’s actions, the family of the Gao Zhisheng was granted a second prison visit on 12 January of this year. It is a small improvement, but it could not be achieved without the international community’s concerns and the effort and support from the membership of Amnesty International, for which my family and I feel most grateful. I hope Amnesty International will continue to promote this activity, allowing more people to come to know my husband’s situation, until he gains his freedom."


While it is very difficult to know exactly what led to the prison visit being granted, the huge amount of action generated by the Write for Rights may have contributed, and has definitely been greatly appreciated by his family.

Your action on Gao was part of an incredible worldwide letter-writing effort leading up to December 10th, International Human Rights Day, where Amnesty International supporters in over 80 countries wrote 1,852,679 letters and messages on twelve of our highest priority campaigns, including our efforts to release Gao Zhisheng.

You know that at Amnesty International we always campaign with passion and determination on behalf of individuals who are experiencing human rights abuses around the world. And you can count on us to keep campaigning for freedom and justice for the individuals we featured as part of Write for Rights.

I hope you will be with us throughout 2013 as we share updates on these priority cases, and call for additional help in protecting other individuals at risk.

Today, I have the additional privilege of sharing more good news and words of thanks from several people whose cases were part of our worldwide campaigning effort on Human Rights Day.

These heartwarming words of thanks are for you!

Yours sincerely,


Alex Neve
Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

P.S.  Thank you for taking action for Gao Zhisheng. His case is very close to my heart, since we both use our legal training to advance the protection of human rights. The difference is that Gao Zhisheng has pursued his work in China and has suffered tremendously for it. Please help us keep working on his behalf by sharing his action.



MORE SUCCESS AND HEARTWARMNG WORDS OF THANKS TO YOU ...


In Canada, nearly 30,000 participants wrote persuasive letters to authorities, urging an end to human rights abuses. Many of you also chose to write letters of hope and solidarity directly to the people featured in our actions. These are some of their words of thanks, upon receiving your letters...

"Thank you from the bottom of our hearts"
Claudia and her son from the former Coastei community in Romania
Photo @ Laurent Ziegler

Claudia, from the Coastei street community, Romania:

“Thank you very much to everyone for the letters that have been sent to the mayor, and also for the letters of solidarity that we received. We feel very much supported and we have confidence that with your support from around the world we will succeed. We do not give up because we know we have so many people that are standing by us in the fight for justice. We are really touched to know that people from all over the world are thinking about us and have written to us. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”
GOOD NEWS! On February 13, the new Minister of Regional Development, Liviu Dragnea, met with delegates from Amnesty International, the European Roma Rights Centre, and Fundaţia Desire. He said that the meeting was a strong signal that there is a desire from within the Ministry to resolve the issue of access of Roma communities to housing. The Minister committed to creating partnerships on technical, financial and conceptual aspects with local authorities to address the issues. The Ministry also signaled it was open to cooperation with NGOs. Amnesty International and the other NGOs welcome these commitments from the Ministry.
Two years ago, 350 people from the Coastei community in north-western Romania lost their homes when they were forcibly evicted by local authorities. They were not given any written or detailed communication or sufficient notice. The evicted families were only told that they needed to move themselves and their belongings within two days!

Thank you for making International Human Rights Day a day of justice and hope for people like the Coastei community in Romania!
Read more successes and words of thanks on our website.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I was an innocent man on death row

I got this from Amnesty International: 

http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=6645049&aid=519342&msource=W1302EADP2

Dear Tracy,

My name is Kirk Bloodsworth of Cambridge, Maryland. I am the Advocacy Director for Witness to Innocence, but I also have another distinction. I was the first death row inmate exonerated by DNA for a crime I did not commit.

I am one of 142 people nationally who have faced execution and were later proven innocent, and there are likely more like me out there who haven’t been so lucky. I am living proof that states with the death penalty are taking unacceptable risks with human lives.

This year we have an unprecedented opportunity to make sure this nightmare never happens to anyone else in Maryland. Governor Martin O'Malley has thrown his weight behind making Maryland the 18th state in the U.S. to ban capital punishment. But as death penalty repeal works its way through Maryland's legislature, I need your help - and now's the moment for action.

Help me get Maryland out of the execution business once and for all.

We've had some good news - just yesterday, death penalty repeal passed the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee! This means that in just a few days, the entire Maryland Senate will have a chance to vote to abolish Maryland's death penalty.

Trust me, this is BIG - death penalty repeal has never made it this far through the Maryland legislature before. Now's our best chance to make repeal happen – but I need you to speak out and push us over the top.

This Senate vote will be very close. I need you to act NOW.

Maryland may not be your home state, but your voice has influence. Maryland’s legislature needs to know the world is watching.

Tell Governor O'Malley to keep the pressure on Maryland's legislature - and that you expect him to keep pushing for death penalty repeal until Maryland becomes state #18!

I know better than anyone about second chances - but we might never have another chance like this to end the death penalty in Maryland. Join me and make sure this is the year - the year that Maryland does the right thing for both victims and the wrongly convicted.

Thank you,

Kirk Bloodsworth
Advocacy Director, Witness to Innocence
Born and Raised in Cambridge, Maryland

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

writer rant/ Do No Harm/ jokes

Feb. 9 Writer rant: The EPL Writer in Residence Omar Mouallem said my Rain script was kind of predictable and the dialogue needed work.  I'm not mad about that, because lots of writers and producers have read it, and they all said that.

I guess I'm kind of mad, because Omar said I should start over.  Okay, I can take criticism, no problem.  I guess I have to write about it, to get over it.  Let's get to the bottom of this.  He said "start over" and I don't feel like I should have to start over.  I have done so many changes and rewrites at the beginning of the script.  In a period of 4 yrs, I would say this is the best 43 pages.

He should take a look at all the changes I made.  I mentioned it before in my other emails/ blog posts of: how the bad guys were supposed to be introduced the next day.  Then I decided to make it sooner, like that night.  This was in 2010.

In 2011, the EPL Writer in Residence Marty Chan read it, and said that first morning scene seemed arbitrary.  So I rewrote it, to straight to the night scene.

Feb. 13 Do No Harm: This show is like the modern version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  It's about a doctor by day Dr. Jason Cole, and by night he becomes Ian Price.  I saw the first two episodes and I thought it was really good.  Today I read in the Globe and Mail's article by John Doyle that the show got cancelled. 

Here's some more info about it:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/nbc-cancels-do-no-harm-417513

Me: What?  It got cancelled?  What about Elementary?  That show is the modern version of Sherlock Holmes and it came out in the fall.  It's doing well.  I only saw the pilot of that show, but I thought it was good.

I read the rest of the linked article, and it's not about old characters from novels being brought into modern times, it's about "dual- universe dramas":

"Do No Harm continues the broadcast networks' struggles with dual-universe dramas. Despite positive reviews, NBC canceled underperformer Awake after one season, and Fox axed Lone Star after two episodes. In 2008, NBC canceled Christian Slater's split-personality series My Own Worst Enemy after a handful of airings."

Writing article: I was checking up on The Golden Vanguard.  Their website was being remade and now I'm on the staff page.

I read the article "5 Ways You're Limiting Your Writing" by Jessica McHugh.

1. Ignoring your issues.
2. Writing is an ART, not a business.
3. Going against your gut.
4. Ignoring feedback.
5. Copying your favorite story.

http://thegoldenvanguard.ca/2013/02/10/5-ways-youre-limiting-your-writing/comment-page-1/#comment-103

I then left a comment at the end of the article:

"Hi, I really like your article.  Good advice and I already have taken some of it before like the line 'Trust your gut, and don’t be afraid to cut. But don’t throw those chunks away. Save them–for years, if need be. Just because you drop fat from one story doesn’t mean it won’t be the meat of another.'  (#3 tip). 

That happens a lot to me.  I write a scene and then think: "I like it, but it doesn't fit in this story" and I save it for another story.

I'm going to mention your article on my blog."

Feb. 17 Jokes: I've been under a lot of stress lately because I've been working a lot of hours.  Here's a way to unwind by laughing.  I got these jokes from Daily Silly:

"If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea... does that mean that one enjoys it?"

Me: I never thought of it that way.


"Here's a bumper sticker I'd like to see: 'We are the proud parents of a child who's self-esteem is sufficient that he doesn't need us promoting his minor scholastic achievements on the back of our car.'"

"Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY and they meet at the bar."

Me: That has angry tone of voice.

"What do you call a duck in a box? Quackers."

Me: I thought that was kind of cute and funny.  It's a simple joke.

Laughing about death: "I hate it when old people poke me at wedding and say 'You're next!' So I have started doing the same thing at funerals."

Me: That's pretty dark.

Feb. 18 Dog jokes: I got this from Daily Silly.

Four workers were discussing how smart their dogs were. The first was an engineer who said his dog could draw. His dogs name was "T-Square", and he told him to get some paper and draw a square, a circle and a triangle, which he did with no sweat. The accountant said he thought his dog, "Balance", could do better. He told him to fetch a dozen cookies and divide them into piles of three, which he did with no problem.

The chemist said that was a very good stunt, but that his dog, "Apothecary", could do better yet. He told his dog to get a quart of milk and pour seven ounces into a ten ounce glass. Apothecary did this without a hitch. All three men agreed their dogs were equally smart. They turned to the Civil Servant and asked him what his dog could do. The Civil Servant called his dog, whose name was "Coffee break", and said, "Show the fellows what you can do, old buddy."

Coffee Break then strolled over and ate the cookies, drank the milk, crapped on the paper, screwed the other three dogs and claimed he injured his back while doing so. He then filed a grievance for unsafe conditions, applied for Workers Compensation, and left for home on sick leave.

Me: I would call this a dog joke, and also a job joke.  I thought it was creative.

Here's another one:

Late one night, a burglar broke into a house he thought was empty. He tiptoed through the living room but suddenly he froze in his tracks when he heard a loud voice say: "Jesus is watching you!" Silence returned to the house, so the burglar crept forward again. "Jesus is watching you," the voice boomed again. The burglar stopped dead again. He was frightened. Frantically, he looked all around. In a dark corner, he spotted a bird cage and in the cage was a parrot. He asked the parrot: "Was that you who said Jesus is watching me?" "Yes", said the parrot. The burglar breathed a sigh of relief, and asked the parrot: "Whats your name?" "Clarence," said the bird. "Thats a dumb name for a parrot," sneered the burglar. "What idiot named you Clarence?" The parrot said, "The same idiot who named the Rottweiller Jesus."

Me: Good story with a plot twist.

Cop joke:

A cop stops a man for running a stop sign and the subject gives the cop a lot of grief explaining that he did stop. After several minutes, the cop explained to the gentleman that he didnt stop, he just slowed down a little. The gentleman said "Stop or slow down, whats the difference?" The cop pulled the guy out of the car and hit him with a nightstick for about a minute and then said, "Would you like for me to stop or just slow down?"

Me: I think when real cops reads this, they will say: "I should use that the next time I pull someone over."

Die Hard: Alex Hillsberg sent me this fun infographic called "5 Reasons Die Hard 5 will Earn Hard Cash."  I will always associate this movie to The Simpsons joke.  The FBI are looking for Homer's mom Mona so they go through Homer's mail.

FBI agent: People write to movie stars, but he (Homer) writes to movies.  "Dear Die Hard: You rock."

According to the infographic, Frank Sinatra was offered this part.  Bruce Willis was the 6th person this part was offered to after Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, and Mel Gibson. 
http://financesonline.com/infographic-5-reasons-die-hard-5-will-earn-hard-cash/

Friday, February 15, 2013

job joke/ Post Secret/ money TV shows

Jan. 19 Job joke: I got this form Daily Silly.

A company, feeling it was time for a shake up, hires a new CEO. This new boss is determined to rid the company of all slackers. On a tour of the facilities, the CEO notices a guy leaning on a wall. The room is full of workers and he wants to let them know he means business. The CEO walks up to the guy and asks, "How much money do you make a week?" A little surprised, the young fellow looks at him and replies, "I make $300.00 a week. Why?" The CEO takes $600 in cash from his pocket and screams, "Here's two weeks' pay, GET OUT and don't come back." Feeling pretty good about his first firing, the CEO looks around the room and asks, "Does anyone want to tell me what that goof-off did here?" With a sheepish grin, one of the other workers mutters, "Pizza delivery guy from Domino's."

Jan. 20 Post Secret:

"I don't want to see dead people anymore!"- a paramedic

Me: Maybe you should go into a different medical profession.

"It makes me angry that you got pregnant on accident and I can't do it on purpose."

Me: I saw that on a teen pregnancy ep on the Tyra Banks show.  This 13 yr old girl got pregnant by accident.  She was doing a pregnancy test with her 13 yr old friend who wants to get pregnant.  The pregant 13 yr old girl said: "So my friend was mad that I got pregnant and she didnt."

"I call my hometown's automated weathereline when I'm homesick."

Me: There's nothing wrong with that.

"I waited 43 yrs to get on anti-depressants.  I love life so much now I use it's name for my computer passwords."

Me: Good for you.

"I feel like I need to be famous to be happy."

Me: Maybe you want recognition for your achievements.

"An Iraqi insurgent tried to kill my husband by blowing himself up.  The bomb didn't harm my husband but left the insurgent injured.  My husband shot him.  In the face.  Now I feel like my husband is a murderer.  Is that wrong?"

Me: Well he did kill someone so that's murder.  However, he is a soldier and it was in self- defense.

"It's about fighting for the things that make you happy.  For me that's you."

"Every time I cut and paste, I think of my mouse eating up all of my words and then spitting them out when I right- click."

Me: I never thought of it like that.  Creative.

"I don't need him."  -A picture of a happy woman.

Jan. 21: Here's another job joke from Daily Silly.  This time it's about a job application:
 An applicant was filling out a job application.

When he came to the question, "Have you ever been arrested?" he wrote, "No."

The next question, intended for people who had answered in the affirmative to the previous question, was "Why?"

The applicant answered it anyway: "Never got caught."

Jan. 22 Syncopation: I was reading my horoscopes in 24 today, and it said: "Pay attention to the surrounding syncopation to discover something new."

Dictionary.com says:

"Music . a shifting of the normal accent, usually by stressing the normally unaccented beats."Jan. 26: Here's another job joke:

"Do you believe in life after death?" the boss asked one of his employees." Yes, Sir," the new employee replied. "Well, then, that makes everything just fine," the boss went on. "After you left early yesterday to go to your grandmothers funeral, she stopped in to see you."

Me: What are the chances?

The Color: This is the name of a rock band.  I heard a song on the radio, and there was a bit of an interview with them.  It's not Top 40.  I went on Youtube and put in "The Colours Band."  This isn't the band I'm looking for, but they do a good cover of "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5envhWeVo04

Shopping: I was at Mountain Co-Op a couple of months back.  It's the 124th street location.  They were selling these cards with these nature pictures on it.  There were inspirational quotes on it.  It was a really good product.  It was kind of interesting to see it in an outdoors activities supply store.

Money TV shows:

Til Debt Do Us Part: Have you ever seen this?  I have seen 3 episodes.  Once when I was waiting for dinner to start, so I decided to check it out.  Another time back in 2009 when I was at a friend of a friend's house.  A couple of months ago, I saw some of it during my break at work.  We had finished setting up and had a little downtime before we were to open again.

The show is where money expert Gail Vaz-Oxlade help these couples who are in debt.  She has written books about money.  The methods on how to save money on this show is to budget and see really how much money you make a month.  Use jars, use cash, and put the money in the jars for the things you need. 

Follow her rules, and if you achieve the goal of being able to save this amount of money and follow the budget, she will write you a check.  The couples learn more about mindful spending.

One episode had a man say: "I used to want to buy 2 lobsters for dinner.  Now when I go grocery shopping, I don't just pick what I want.  I really think about stretching my money."

In the same episode, the woman was really overwhelmed with debt that she was crying a bit, and saying: "We may be only to get out of debt within 5 yrs."  Gail gave her the news that if she follows her financial plan, they will be out of debt within 1 yr.

So ignorance is not bliss.

My Shopping Addiction: I saw a promo for this show.  I only saw a min. of it when I was watching one TV show and there was a commercial on it.  An addictions specialist talked to this woman.  This is a paraphrase.

Specialist: Why do you want to be like Barbie?
Woman: She seems to have all the clothes, cars, money, and friends.
Specialist: What is Barbie made out of?
Woman: Plastic.
Specialist: So why do you want to be something that's not real?

Cut to the Woman talking to the camera.

Woman: To hear that, kind of hurt.

The Specialist wasn't trying to hurt her feelings, he was trying to help her.  This is the plain truth.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Woman severely beaten by police in Egypt

I got this from Amnesty International: 

 http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1770&ea.campaign.id=18668&ea.url.id=127298&ea.campaigner.email=4PH318B4QP8bTUURO9nMPBFFMe9grgD0&ea_broadcast_target_id=0
 
You will no doubt remember the hope for human rights that surrounded uprisings in the streets of Egypt during the Arab Spring. These events led to the eventual fall of Egypt's government 2 years ago. But do you remember that one awful moment during the subsequent police crackdown when someone captured on video the scene of a young woman being beaten by police?  Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman is the 49-year-old Egyptian woman who was beaten unconscious for trying to help that young woman.

Amnesty International is calling on all supporters to speak out for justice for Azza.
Please join our call to action for this vital case for women's rights.
This is what happened: On December 17, 2011, as Azza and a friend were leaving a sit-in near Cairo’s Tahrir Square, she saw a group of soldiers beating a young woman. The soldiers had pulled the woman’s clothes down to expose her, and had beaten her badly. The soldiers told her and her friend to go away, but Azza did not want to leave the woman. She, her friend and other protesters tried to carry the young woman away.

The soldiers knocked Azza to the ground and an army officer shot her friend in the knee with a pistol. The soldiers beat Azza until she lost consciousness and continued beating her even after she lost  unconsciousness.

Activists captured the attack on video and posted it on-line. Egyptians were outraged at the video, and protested against the attack. The undressed female protester has not revealed her identity to the public, although her close friends say she participated in the Cabinet sit-in.

The authorities have not held any member of the armed forces to account
for attacking her nor have they given her any assistance to help her recover.
Please join Amnesty International's urgent call for an investigation into the beating of Azza
Thank you for sharing my concern for the rights of Azza Suleiman.
Sincerely,
alex_portrait.gif
Alex Neve,
Secretary General,
Amnesty International Canada


P.S. This case is so important for the future of women's rights in Egypt. If those responsible for Azza's attack are not made accountable, it sends a clear and dire message to women across Egypt that they will not be protected if they speak out for their rights. Please take action today.

Send a naughty or nice valentine to the NRA

 I got this from Amnesty International:



Dear Tracy,

What kind of valentine would you send to NRA officials - naughty or nice?

They have repeatedly said they were interested in making "meaningful contributions" to preventing gun violence. Maybe a nice message will get their attention and get them to drop this ridiculous misinformation campaign against the Arms Trade Treaty? OK, nice it is.

On the other hand, they have also been pretty ruthless in their continued lies about how the Treaty would impact Americans - definitely naughty!

Amnesty International is asking its supporters to help send a mix of naughty and nice Valentines to NRA officials. But what kind of Valentine will you be? Click here to find out if you'll be a naughty or nice messenger for human rights!

When it comes down to it - whether you send a naughty or nice message to NRA officials, what we're asking for is the same - an Arms Trade Treaty that protects common sense values:
  • We DON'T want guns in the hands of warlords likely to use them to recruit child soldiers and terrorize communities
  • We DO want background checks on international arms sales
  • We DON'T want guns in the hands of rapists and others who would likely use them to fuel human trafficking and other grave human rights abuses
  • We DO want a strong Treaty that will make a significant and meaningful contribution in protecting children from gun violence on a global scale
Show NRA officials how you feel - send a naughty or nice Valentine now.

We'll say it again and again - the Treaty has no bearing on Second Amendment rights. This is one of those NRA lies that breaks our heart a little more every time we hear it because it stands in the way of giving some much needed protection to families who face daily human rights abuses fueled by the irresponsible arms trade.

Think Mali. Democratic Republic of Congo. Somalia. Yemen.

This Valentine's Day, we want officials of the NRA to know that their lies will cost lives.

We all deserve better and it's our right to demand it.

Michelle Ringuette
Chief of Campaigns & Programs
Amnesty International USA

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

quote/ Love's Everlasting Courage

Feb. 3 Quote: I found this quote while reading the Globe and Mail life section.  There was an essay by James Drummond and he mentions it.
“Read beyond what you want to write.  So if you want to write romance…read science fiction, read classics.  If you aspire to be a literary writer… to be the next John Updike, read Harlequins.” –Yann Martel, Life of Pi author

Romantic comedies: I was at City Centre mall, and I was sitting in the food court reading the newspaper.  I was biding my time before I had to work at Call Centre #6.  I looked up and see the last 20 min. of the movie Chasing Liberty.  It stars Mandy Moore as the daughter of the President, and it's hard for her to date people because of who she is.

I did like the ending.  Most romantic comedies are the same.  I remember watching this Saturday Night Live sketch with Meghan Fox talking to a mom.

Mom: I like those movies where a guy and girl fall in love.  Then the guy does something bad, but not so bad that he can't redeem himself afterwards.
Fox: Yeah, that's called a romantic comedy.

I did like the ending to Chasing Liberty because it reminded me of the other romantic comedy called The Prince and Me.  If you guys don't want to be spoiled by both movies, skip to the next paragraph.

In both movies, the couples toward the end have to end things.  A few months have then passed, and they spend time apart.  They then get back together.  I like the reunited feeling.

The Duff: I was reading Seventeen magazine while I was at City Centre.  I read an article about the author Kody Keplinger.  She wrote the book The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend.  She got published at 19 yrs old.  Now she's 21 yrs old and she's making a living off writing. 

She got the inspiration when she heard of that name.  Then the story came to her.

Conflict: I was reading some old notes from the Writer in Residence at the Edmonton Public Library, Marty Chan.  It was in 2011 when he read The Vertex Fighter.  He then read Parts 3 and 4 (30-50 pages) and his notes mentioned that my script tended to shy away from conflict.

A character says something in this scene, but they don't go and extend it to a bigger conflict.  I thought I did, but I was looking at the big picture.  I set up a conflict in one scene at the beginning of the script where the lead character hides something from a character close to him.  In the middle of the movie, the character finds out and there's a big blow out. 

There's another character that hides something from the bad guys, and when the bad guys find out, there's a huge conflict at the end of the movie.

Love's Everlasting Courage: In Oct. 2012, I saw the TV movie Love Begins.  I only watched it because Wes Brown was in it.  I didn't really like it because it was boring without much conflict.  Here's the review:


One week later, I went on Youtube, and saw the sequel.  The only reason again was Wes Brown.  This time, the TV movie improved a bit because there was more conflict and things happening in it.  This story is set in the 18th century.  I guess I will use the quote from above as a way to use this TV movie so I could learn about writing.

Clark (Wes Brown) rides a carriage with two horses.  It stops because the wheel is broke.  A snake appears and scares the horses, so they run.  Clark chases after it, and stops the horses.  They go back home. 

Clark and Ellen are now married with a 6 yr old daughter named Missy.  The Banker comes and says: "You have to pay back loans to the bank.  You missed more than one payment, we'll seize your land."  Good, some conflict is set up.

Ellen becomes a seamstress even though Clark disagrees because men should be working.  His parents are coming to help out.  The grandparents disapprove that Ellen is working.  Ellen thinks of setting up two widowers Sarah and Ben together.

There's a drought and it affects farming and their livelihood.  Clark and his dad Lloyd go and find some land to start digging for water.

Ellen coughs to foreshadow she's sick.  They have dinner with Ben and Sarah to get them to know each other.  Ellen later collapses.  The doctor is away so Sarah is a mid-wife and checks on Ellen.  She diagnoses her as having scarlet fever.  Clark tells daughter Missy that her mom is sick.  It could be contagious so has to stay away from mom.

There was a good scene where Missy takes a picture of her mom and sleeps with it.

Another good scene shows that Wes Brown is a really good actor.  He is crying with his wife.  He comes out with tears in his eyes that shows that Ellen has died.  This should be used for his acting reel.  There is no words as he looks at the grandparents and Missy.  You know she just died.

The grandparents decide to stay longer.  The Banker shows up again to ask for money.  Clark is about to punch Banker in the face when he asks for money, when his wife just died.  Reminder of money conflict.

The grandparents don't have money.  They think of taking care of Missy while Clark stays.

Clark is frustrated that he can't get water.

Throw in Missy cooking chicken, and a fire starts.  There's smoke and excitement.  They put out fire with a wet blanket and hits the fire with it.  The house is still standing and they sleep in the barn.

The subplot of Ben and Sarah are that they're dating.

The conflict of the house being burnt is solved pretty fast.  Ben says: "I'll give you some leftover wood from building my barn.  A whole crew of people volunteer to help.  The house is rebuilt.

Grandpa: Instead of looking at the burden of your home, think of it as a blessing.
He continues to give a pep talk to Clark about faith, God, and family to support you.

Clark pumps water and water comes.  He's all happy.

Throw in some conflict again when Missy eavesdrop on the adults talking.  Clark says it's easy to live with you and I hit water.  Missy runs away thinking she's going to be sent to live with grandparents, when if she stuck around Clark was going to have them stay with him.

The Banker shows up and the Grandparents say: "I put up my land as collateral so you can have an extension.

They can't find Missy and they start looking for her. Ben joins them.  It will be dark soon, so add some tension here.  Missy is lost and Clark finds the doll she was holding.  He finds her.

Ben then proposes to Sarah after what happened with Missy: "Life is short.  Will you marry me?"  She says yes.

It starts raining so you know the crops are going to grow.

I felt this TV movie was kind of forgettable.  There's just stuff happens, no antagonist- maybe the Banker.  The characters were likable, but bland.