A NaNoWriMo Update and Other Thoughts

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We’re closing in on halfway through NanoWriMo and my word count is over the 22K mark. I’m a touch ahead of the minimum word count, so that’s OK for now, but I need to get far more ahead, because Thanksgiving is coming…

I found an interesting technology tidbit today. I’m fairly certain that I’ve never mentioned I am a Type I diabetic, at least not in anything published on this site-maybe on a previous site. I’ve been diabetic since I was thirteen years old, so that is creeping up on thirty-five years living with an incurable, but treatable disease.

As with most incurable diseases, especially ones that affect millions of people, there is a sizable support community on the Internet. There are multiple foundations working hard to find a cure, but they are all hampered by the need for any commercial solutions to be approved by the FDA or other regulatory bodies before they are available to the public.

Well, open source technology is trying to make an end-run on this bottleneck. It is succeeding to some degree. Before I dive into how, let me explain the mechanics behind diabetes, particularly Type I diabetes. To simplify this explanation, I will take some shortcuts that medical professionals might feel are inaccurate, but I’m not writing a dissertation, just trying to explain what is broken.

In Type I diabetes, the pancreas, which is responsible for producing insulin (among other things) stops working. This is the root cause of the problem. Without insulin, the body’s cells cannot process sugar, or more accurately, glucose. Levels of glucose build up in the blood, causing a condition called hyperglycemia, or elevated blood sugar. The short-term effects are intense thirst, excessive urination, lethargy, and a craving for sweets or food in general. The long-term effects are damaged organs and bodily systems from dealing with the excessive amount of glucose in the blood.

When a pancreas functions normally, it can react to higher levels of glucose in the blood and produce more insulin to allow the body’s cells to process the glucose. In diabetics, this doesn’t happen. Unless the body gets insulin, a person will eventually slip into a coma and die. There have been dozens of attempts to replace a damaged pancreas – transplants, insulet cell (the part of the pancreas that produces insulin) implantation, and other weirder methods have been tried, all in an attempt to bring the glucose cycle back to normal – a person takes in carbohydrates, the digestive system breaks them down and the pancreas produces insulin to process the resulting glucose.

Insulin therapy, whether shots or pumps, has always been complicated to balance because to properly dose insulin you must know your blood glucose (bg) level. This requires, for most diabetics, pricking their finger and using a test strip and an electronic meter to determine their blood glucose level. They then can use a formula to determine how much insulin to take. Unfortunately, taking insulin after eating, when bg levels are high, has been determined to be less effective at preventing long-term complications of diabetes, which are many, some of which are more dangerous than the disease itself.

It was discovered that the better way to treat with insulin is to determine how much insulin to take prior to eating, to keep bg levels from rising too high. This requires knowing how many carbohydrates are in your current meal, and also knowing how much insulin it takes for your body to process that amount of carbohydrates, which varies from person to person.

The ideal system would eliminate the finger sticking and insulin calculations and coordinate information from a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and feed that directly into a insulin pump, so that the pump can automatically determine how much insulin to deliver. This would essentially create an artificial pancreas. That’s exactly what two open source projects are doing now. Check out the main website for these amazing projects. They do a much better job than I would in explaining what they are doing.

Here is the Looping website and here is the OpenAPS site, both of which are making strides toward creating an artificial pancreas system. Pretty exciting stuff.

I’ll check back in once I top 30,000 words.

The Obligatory (and Tardy) NaNoWriMo Announcement

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Here it is day 2 of NaNoWriMo 2019 and I am just now announcing my intentions to participate. Thankfully, I did not forget to start writing and I am now over 5000 words in.

I’m back in the thriller genre for a fourth or fifth time, depending upon how you count it. I have started four thrillers for NaNoWriMo, but one of them I had to split into two novels, so five is more accurate from a WIP perspective, but four is the correct number of NaNoWriMo attempts. Let’s just say it depends upon your “point of view” (an oblique Star Wars reference, in honor of Episode IX coming out soon).

Today was the third annual Northwest Georgia Writers Conference, held in Calhoun, Georgia. I did double duty at the conference, running the NaNoWriMo Write-In room and speed presenting on NaNoWriMo – what it is and how to prep for it. It was a great day, with some great authors and speakers. You can check out all the details at their website – nwgawriterscon.com.

I wanted to mention a bit about the featured image for today’s post. I usually find some (free) stock photography for my featured images, but this time I am posting this photo from a cruise excursion I took several years ago. It was a forest zipline and because of the lighting in the shot, you can’t really see the other end of the line very well. I see this as a symbol of the NaNoWriMo experience. You can’t see the end very clearly, or at all, but the journey should be great fun!

Until I post next…

Repost – My First NaNoWriMo Attempt Announcement

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This is a reposting of the announcement of my first NaNoWriMo attempt in 2011, the year I started on the 15th of November and did not manage to pump out 50,000 words. It’s the first post I’ve come across that didn’t involve substantial ranting about the state of politics leading up to the reelection of he-who-will-not-be-named, the 44th president of the United States. I’ll refrain from reposting those, as they display, for all to read, a coarser and very sarcastic side of me that I am not particularly proud of. There was not much else in those posts aside from updates on my NaNoWriMo progress and promises of things that never came to pass, so I will let them slide into the digital dustbin.

Here goes…

Writing, Writing, Writing – originally posted November 21, 2011

I am 10,000 words into my book now… oh, I didn’t mention my book before?

I know, I haven’t mentioned it, sorry, but I had to open this post with something interesting. I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) event about halfway through November, which was kind of silly, since the goal of the event is for people to craft 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. Yes, that is 1,667 words a day, a somewhat challenging goal for anyone who is not a professional writer or seasoned veteran of journaling (my spell-check tells me that is not a word, but I know some of you do it).

The idea is not so much to have a “finished” work by month’s end, but to have that pile of 50,000 words to mold and shape into something potentially publishable. The event is in its 13th year if I count correctly and has produced many published novels including Water for Elephants, a best-seller by Sara Gruen that was made into a movie. I am not so egotistical that I think that I will have a best seller (although that would be ultimately cool). I realize that probably 7,500 of those 10,000 words are either passively rendered, misspelled, repeated too often, or just bad prose, but I am plugging on in hopes that I can at least say I tried.

So, I am 10,000 words into my book/novel/whatever. I have pieces of several chapters, but no completed chapters. My goal for the end of the month, since there is no way I can achieve the 50,000 word goal of NaNoWriMo, is to have at least once chapter completed with all scenes in place.

As I am a complete beginner at this and have no real idea what I am doing, the book I am writing is constantly morphing. I see where I am overly descriptive and bog down in details. So I edit and move and cut and modify so that the novel fits my new mental framework for it each day. If I don’t finish the manuscript it will be because I never quit editing or I get so tired of editing that I finally give up the goal of writing a book.

My attention span is not my strongest character attribute, so I hope that this project gives me a challenge and teaches me to stay with a task until it is complete. No sneak previews of my book right now. I will tell you the (working) title is “Opposition” and it is a suspense, thriller, action novel (not sure how much of each will survive the edits) set in present time. Maybe I will post a snippet of one of the chapters in December. That is pretty dangerous to do since it could all change before/if it gets published!

So wish me luck on my book if you don’t mind. I will need it.

About Life Getting In The Way…

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It’s funny how the life you want to live keeps getting interrupted by the life that is. Or maybe, it’s not that funny for you. I have to admit, it’s not that funny for me, but I’m set on moving forward.

It’s been months since I have posted, as usual. When last I posted, we were looking for a house, I was looking for some old blog posts, and everyone was looking for some sanity to come out of Washington D.C.. We did at least find a house, but as for those old blog posts and sanity from D.C., those have yet to be found.

Peter Mayhew and Rutger Hauer were still alive, but nobody knew Jan Michael Vincent was already dead (that was an odd one…).

I was determined to finish a book before NaNoWriMo kicked in again, but here it is, the cusp of October, and there is no way I will finish a book before November. Will I start a new one in November? Probably.

I am going to re-post some of my old entries. Actually, I have already done that. I dropped three re-posts right before writing this one. More to follow.

For the two of you who read this, I want you to know that I am re-dedicating to posting more consistently. I have a fairly full head right now, and in the absence of a pensieve, I’ll need to blog to remember it all.

A separate post is coming right up after this one, detailing some moderately deep thoughts about what I have been learning in my Christian walk over the past few months, from searching for a house to going through the life ordeal of seeing my daughter get married.

After that is another post, potentially quite controversial, about how I feel we as a church do a disservice to new believers before they even accept Christ. I will be opening up comments on this post as I really desire to know what others think.

What does the image above have to do with this post? Absolutely nothing…

Stay tuned.

Writing, writing, writing

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This was originally posted November 21st, 2011, the first year I attempted to write 50,000 words during National Novel Writing Month. It is here mainly for historical purposes. I started late and didn’t get 50,000 words done that year, but have every year I’ve tried since then.

I am 10,000 words into my book now, oh… I didn’t mention my book before?  I know, I haven’t mentioned it, sorry, but I had to open this post with something interesting.  I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) event about halfway through November, which was kind of silly, since the goal of the event is for people to craft 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.  Yes, that is 1,667 words a day, a somewhat challenging goal for anyone who is not a professional writer or seasoned veteran of journaling (my spell-check tells me that is not a word, but I know some of you do it).  The idea is not so much to have a “finished” work by month’s end, but to have that pile of 50,000 words to mold and shape into something potentially publishable.  The event is in its 13th year if I count correctly and has produced many published novels including Water for Elephants, a best-seller.

I am not so egotistical that I think that I will have a best seller (although that would be ultimately cool).  I realize that probably 7,500 of those 10,000 words are either passively rendered, misspelled, repeated too often, or just bad prose, but I am plugging on in hopes that I can at least say I tried.

So, I am 10,000 words into my book/novel/whatever.  I have pieces of several chapters, but no completed chapters.  My goal for the end of the month, since there is no way I can achieve the 50,000 word goal of NaNoWriMo is to have at least once chapter completed with all scenes in place.  As I am a complete beginner at this and have no real idea what I am doing, the book I am writing is constantly morphing.  I see where I am overly descriptive and bog down in details.  So I edit and move and cut and modify so that the novel fits my new mental framework for it each day.  If I don’t finish the manuscript it will be because I never quit editing or I get so tired of editing that I finally give up the goal of writing a book.  My attention span is not my strongest character attribute, so I hope that this project gives me a challenge and teaches me to stay with a task until it is complete.

No sneak previews of my book right now.  I will tell you the (working) title is “Opposition” and it is a suspense, thriller, action novel (not sure how much of each will survive the edits) set in present time.  Maybe I will post a snippet of one of the chapters in December.  That is pretty dangerous to do since it could all change before/if it gets published!

So wish me luck on my book if you don’t mind.  I will need it.