About This Blog
A blog about my life, universe, etc. At any given time you might find something endlessly interesting or just me ruminating on something else, which no one (not even myself) finds interesting. That's the way blogs go, I suppose. Anyway, I was eleventh in line, and you weren't. Hah!

About Me
Columbus, OH
Political Score:
Temp @ JPMorgan Chase
Ohio State University
Political Science, International Studies
High School: Home Educated
Reading, standing in line for things, writing, research

About My Family
My mom is a
lawyer in Pickerington; my stepdad and dad are computer guys, and my stepmom (who works with my dad) is an engineer. My sisters are, in order of age, a photographer, an artist, and a person too young to have her own website. My brothers are, in order of age, living up north, and again, a person too young to have a website. At some point soon I'll be collecting links for my aunts, uncle, and cousins. ^_^

Message Services
(Please see the notes below the Comment Policy before sending me a message)

My CafePress Designs

Even More CafePress Designs

Star Wars: Episode 3 Line (Hollywood)
My Star Wars Line page

NaNoWriMo 2007:
My Novel: Cipere Lumen

Official NaNoWriMo 2006 Winner

NaNoWriMo 2006:
My Novel: The Manatee Conspiracy

Official NaNoWriMo 2006 Winner

NaNoWriMo 2005:
My Novel: Beyond the Cliffs of Kefira

Official NaNoWriMo 2005 Participant

NaNoWriMo 2004:
My Novel: sul Okyar tir taTz'ileea

National Novel Writing Month

Saturday, November 27, 2004
State of the Novel Report -- The End is In Sight  
Not the actual end, my friends, but something like it.

Yes. We have reached the 50,000 line. We are teetering back and forth like a petulant child about six inches from the line, whining about how it's way too soon to be done with this goal and aren't we still like 10,000 words behind or something? We're going to ignore that whining and teetering and just call it a win, for the purposes of this post.

It has been an illuminating journey, and the project is far from actual completion. There is still work to do. But hey, its party time. Will provide further details later. Yay us.


Friday, November 26, 2004
41k and a Frosted World  

 I woke up this morning with a 41,683 word partial novel on my hands, and a frost over the entire world.  Or at least the entire state.  I look out the window, and it's like looking at a cake you can buy at one of those really expensive bakeries, with the whole delicate powdered sugar coating on everything.  It's actually really cool; I wish I had a camera.  Of coures it'll be gone in another hour or two, but hey...

Meanwhile, the NaNo is coming along swimmingly.  I didn't quite meet my personal goal of 5,000 words on Wednesday, but I made up for that with over 6,000 on Thursday.  I am actually officially caught up with where you're supposed to be, on the "slow and steady, every day a minimum number of words" plan.  I only need to write 1700 words a day to finish in time.  I'd prefer not to take the risk, though, and plan to write another 3-6k tonight and Saturday.

In completely unrelated news, the warehouse that my department is in (I work in an office just down the hall from the warehouse door) has been chilled to something around 25 degrees Fahrenheit.  I have to wear gloves and a knit cap to get to my department's main office.  It's really, really cold.  Like, "the refridgerators we keep some of the plants in are actually warmer than the so-called ambient temperature section of the warehouse" cold.  We could lower the temp in the fridges if we kept their doors open.  Yuck.

I am so looking forward to CA temps and fake snow (Disneyland uses glycerin to make bubble snow, which is extra strange and therefore cool).  To think that 50 is "really cold" and worthy of a heavy coat... sigh.


Sunday, November 21, 2004
Well begun isn't half-done,  
But actually half-done SO IS.

The NaNo is now at 25,085 words. I'm 10,000 behind and catching up. Look out, November 30th, Sarah is on her way.


Friday, November 19, 2004
State of the Novel Report III  
So, there hasn't been a lot of news on this front, and for that I apologize. The last two weeks have been rough on the noveling process, and we're more than a little behind. But I'm pleased to report that almost 8,000 words have been written in the last three days, and we find ourselves now at 33% of our minimum goal.

The road ahead is unlikely to be entirely pleasant. But it is one we are committed to taking. So, with 33,533 words to go, I bid the world good night.


Scarred for Life  
I just saw a girl, maybe 18-20 years old, wearing pink flip-flops and yellow
and pink striped leg warmers. I may never fully recover my sanity.

On a related note, I have to work tomorrow morning. Let's all take a moment
to send me happy
get-done-before-noon-so-you-can-watch-the-OSU-Michigan-game-kickoff vibes.
There you go. That's it. Thanks, everyone!


Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Home Education and Screedish Reporting  
I sent the following to the editors of the Akron Beacon-Journal. Hat tip: Homeschool and Other Education Stuff.

I was homeschooled for 11th and 12th grade in the Bucyrus City Schools district, which is right by Galion's. We were in the Naugatuck (CT) schools area for two years before that, and the Auborn Hills (MI) area for the year before that. What utter rubbish, is what I have to say about claims that less than 13% of Galion's homeschoolers are educating their children in this manner for "the right reasons." It is even more apparent as to what class of rubbish that this is (namely, self-serving, finger-pointing, "please please don't look at how utterly disastrous public education in Crawford County is" rubbish) when you actually go and see what homeschooling and public education are like in these actual districts. That kind of rubbish which your anti-homeschooling screed of an article series is, alas, defies the possibliity of a civilized name, but I'm working on it, and will keep you posted if necessary.

To you, the newspaper reporters, and the academic researchers you talked with: Spend a week going to all the homeschool activity meetings at the Bucyrus library. Visit with the girl scout troops where a third of the girls homeschool. Walk down our old street -- our next-door neighbors homeschooled their boys at the same time my sisters and I were there, and were doing a fabulous job. Meanwhile, Bucyrus high school had exactly ONE AP course (English) during my senior year, and when I was asked to go take the 9th grade proficiency test (they were going to see if I could get a diploma from Bucyrus High), most of the kids in the high school auditorium who took it with me, were taking one or more sections for the third, fourth, or fifth time. They were seniors, like me, only they'd been taking that test every six months since the end of ninth grade. Honestly. Visit the high schools and the middle schools and the elementary schools, and go to a PTA meeting or three. Talk to me then about how misguided and undersupervised the homeschoolers are.

I received a 1380 on the SAT, and 29 on the ACT, and was accepted as a direct enrollment student in Ohio State's Engineering Honors program (I was the only female Computer Engineering student so admitted that term). I doubt very much that I am all that unusual, especially seeing as how my sisters are also performing at above-average levels, and so are the majority of the actual homeschooling students I know. How many actual homeschoolers do you know? How many have the reporters who wrote this entire series actually met, and spoken to? How many of the children have you seen, and had an intelligent conversation with? Moreover, seriously, how much scrutiny have you given to the parents and teachers and students associated with the public schools in Ohio and elsewhere? Have you made a serious effort to determine how well they're really doing, and whether they get their textbooks and standardized exams (which, incidentally, are the only sort of exams that Bob Jones provides -- SAT 9 and the like, the good old-fashioned normed tests you're probably very familiar with) from a source you feel you'd be able to hang out with and have something to say to? Dare I say that you are uncomfortable with the idea that people would want to get their educational materials from an overtly religious institution, and rather than say that, you're relying on an entirely irrelevant but far more scandalous-sounding point: some people have accused them of racism!!!

Speaking of racism, I find it interesting that National Merit Scholars and honors students and spelling bee winners are hardly indicative of any kind of a trend, but one racist child is a clear indication that homeschoolers are dangerously sheltered and without proper perspective. Actual students admitted to specific universities are a nifty anomaly, but unsubstantiated claims by schools -- many of which have extremely prejudicial admissions policies for homeschoolers (Notre Dame wanted five $100 SAT-II subject exams with my application, in addition to my SAT-I score and the application fee, and all the other things they require of everyone -- I chose not to apply) -- that homeschoolers are "underrepresented" (what does that mean, precisely; do they mean that the total proportion of their class that claims to have been homeschooled has gone down, and have they accounted for students whose parents did things like form "private schools" for just their own children?), is a sign that homeschoolers aren't very accompished.

I won't go into statistical validity, and I won't go into basic principles of liberty, and I won't even mention (beyond this one time, and only in passing) the rather sordid history of public schooling in this country. I will take a moment to remind you, the Akron Beacon-Journal, that for most of its first 100 years, this country was run by homeschooled kids. We didn't call it back then -- we said that Lincoln was only able to go to school for a year, and that he had to read out of law books to become a lawyer. We noted that John Adams went to Harvard at 12, and never mind what his parents taught him before that (or what he and Abigail Adams taught their sons and daughters, in their home). We obsess about accountability now in large part because there is such abundant and plentiful failure. Show me the homeschooled children who are neglected and maltreated and given over to minimally academic pursuits, and I will say "give them a standardized test, and allow them to prove that things aren't what they seem -- or counsel them to change their methods." Show me the public schools, and I'll say the same thing. Show me Eton, Polytechnic in California, the Columbus School for Girls, and close to a million highly successful homeschoolers, and I will say "great! more power to them, let's give everyone a tax cut because the government isn't having to do more recovery work thanks to these people who've taken the initiative."

To the superintendents and board of education members, especially those who gave quotes to these articles: Worry about your public school students. That's where the limited stewardship of our government school supervisors actually is: the government schools. If the parents in your area have decided they're not doing a good job, you should look to your own methods and your own standards and your own policies and your own employees, rather than trying to find fault with those parents. Or in other words, don't shoot the messenger.

I said they could quote me and warned them not to mangle my name (it's SARAH PARKER-ALLEN, already -- there's an "h" and a hyphen and both have been sorely neglected by the news media in recent years) or my words. I doubt they'll mangle anything because I doubt they'll quote anything, but at least I got that off my chest.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Bah humbug  
I'm going to bed. I can't get more than a nap at this point; Bush is ahead by 150k in Ohio according to the Secretary of State's website. I was hoping to stay up till some kind of speech was made, but it looks to be a while before that last 6% of results come in.

Will likely blog more tomorrow, during my NaNoWriMo time. Argh.


Round on the sides and high in the middle!  
From a post I wrote at LiningUp.Net, with some minor editing for context and a few fixes, including a parenthetical statement that became four paragraphs... I started this post at around 11:30pm EST.

First, for those who, like me, are without remote controls:



[NOTE: in the half hour since I started writing this, the totals have changed, though the proportions haven't; I STRONGLY suggest actually looking at the data in the SOS link below]

My county has so far gone 63% for Bush. It looks so far, from the Ohio SecState's website, like only Cuyohoga Co. (Cleveland) has a Democratic advantage that's of significance within the state as a whole (150k for Kerry, 90k for Bush). Butler is closer but with smaller numbers (23k Kerry to 20k Bush), as are Erie (20k vs 18k), Franklin (222k to 200k), Loraine (59k to 47k) Lucas (29k to 17k), Mahoning (63k to 42k), Monroe (4k to 3k), Montgomery (99k to 97k), Portage (16k to 14k), Stark (41k to 39k), Summit (96k to 70k), and Trumbull (52k to 32k). All the remaining counties (there are 88 total, but Cuyohoga and Franklin are the biggest by a fairly big margin, as they are the homes of Cleveland and Columbus) are going for Bush (I could be wrong, as I'm running short of sleep -- verify on the links below). Hamilton (Cincinnati) and Lucas (Toledo) are next up in terms of population; Dayton is in Montgomery county.

Of the four largest counties by population (and those four are MUCH larger than their neighbors -- Fairfield is next to Franklin, and it's about 15% of its size in population terms), all but one -- Franklin -- are at around 30% reporting. Franklin's at 80%. And all four are pretty much going the way most people in Ohio would expect those counties to go, with the possible exception of Lucas (Toledo), which might go more conservative (but probably not, it's been hit pretty hard with factory closings).

Now, there are some nearby neighbor trends you want to look at: Lake County is right next to Cuyohoga, and is far more conservative (60k Bush to 57k Kerry). It's relatively small (118k votes total), but remember that's worth 7 or 8 other counties. That's how my county, Fairfield, sometimes works -- it's a +20% boost for whoever gets that little "R" by their name, [compared to our neighbor's totals]. But [then again,] Loraine is the little-yet-big neighbor to Eerie, and it's actually slightly more Kerry-leaning today (and Democrat in general) than Eerie is (Kerry is leading by 55%, 59k to 47k).

I point this out because while we have 35% type reporting levels in the biggest counties, their neighbors are at 70% or higher, and you can make rough predictions based on how the neighbors are behaving. [This is] in part because unlike with the larger counties, the neighbors are more likely to be uniform across precincts -- there's no notable difference amongst Pickerington A-G, the Bloomfield Township and Canal Winchester districts, etc. -- to compare, I just look at the differences in the OSU area, where neighboring precincts include the Ohio State dorm area (there's quite a few for the 10k dorm residents and 15k apartment/frat dwellers; it takes 4 or 5 different buildings to distribute all the kids, and that's despite the fact that so many of them vote absentee in their home counties) and Upper Arlington (a very conservative upper-middle class area). When you can get a rough idea of how much more conservative or liberal (I hesitate to use the word in Ohio, where the Democrats are often Republicans with the support of organized labor) a smaller neighbor is relative to a larger county, you can to a limited extent predict how big the difference between the parties will be.

Blech. That was annoying to write. For Ohio Election returns broken down by county:

And for a quick map of Ohio's counties:

and one that tells you where people live, but has difficult to read county names (that's why the one up there is the one I like better):

(the large one is easy to read, but HUGE:

Anyway, look to the neighbors, if you really want to see how some of those big counties with small responses will go. I'm pretty confident the rates won't change much, except that trends expressed will get stronger (that Kerry leads will get bigger, and so will Bush leads). Since I started writing this, for instance, Kerry's lead in Franklin county has increased by 1%, with an additional 13% reporting.

In other words, I'm not seeing surprises here. If Kerry does win, it'll require an absolute landslide in ALL the counties he's leading in, plus the largest possible gain in all the counties we're still waiting for (including ones where that's unlikely), which seems doubtful as all the counties are already at leads I was expecting. If it does go for Kerry it'll be something like 3.1 million to 3 million. And it'll be a move, with 70% reporting right now, of 5% -- Bush is leading 52% to 47%

Possible, but I wouldn't go putting a lot of money on it right now.

I'm really interested to see how the actual counties break down soon. I was planning to go to bed (I slept for the entire 8pm-11pm "oh my gosh polls are CLOSING!!!" thing, and it felt nice, and I was thinking of doing some more sleeping before leaving for work in 4 hours) but this is a lot more interesting than I thought it would be.

Oh! Something I just noticed that's helpful: for trying to figure out those mystery "0% reporting" counties and seeing if they matter, try the list of counties on this page:

Jackson and Huron I think are the only offenders remaining. When you click on them you can see they have very very VERY small populations.

EDIT: I forgot to add, the biggest Bush lead in any county is 75%, in Holmes county:

(woohoo, they have an airport!)

I don't know for sure, but it's hard to see the rather larger and more diverse Cuyohoga getting that kind of support level for ANYone (Kerry's at 62%, with 62% of precincts reporting as of this edit).


Monday, November 01, 2004
State of the Novel Report 2  
My fellow Netizens, good evening and welcome. Today my message is brief, and to the point: we have begun!

So far the novel has proceeded admirably from the state of a poor blank page to that of 10 pages covered with more than 3,000 individual words, many of which are indeed worthwhile and may even find their way into the final work.

I have taken the liberty of posting a section of today's work in a public forum, that others might see my words and decide to write some of their own. Go forth, my friends, and read. Read, and think, and choose to write.

Thank you, and good night.


Because only so many people can be eleventh in line.