October's Non-Fiction Challenge

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Thread: October's Non-Fiction Challenge

  1. #1
    WF Veteran H.Brown's Avatar
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    October's Non-Fiction Challenge

    Hello and welcome to the open entries thread for the new looking Non-Fiction Challenge.

    This months challenge is to write a journalistic article using the prompt: Troubled times...

    Have you been affected by the recent weather troubles? Political struggles? Or faced a moment that was troubling? Then why not try your hand at writing an article based upon that time.

    The winner will recieve The LM Pulitzer award.

    However there are a few rules to abide, please read the challenge guide Here.

    There is a maximum word count of 700 words, including the title.
    All entries have a 10 minute grace period for editing, however any editing done after this time will be disqualified.
    To read the Judging criteria that our judges will be using please read this.
    Only post your entry here if you don't wish to protect your first rights, for the secure challenge thread please post your entry Here.

    This months challenge will close 12pm on Sunday 22nd October. (Bst)


    • All forum rules apply. The NF competition is considered a creative area of the forum. If your story contains inappropriate language
      or content, do not forget add a disclaimer or it could result in disciplinary actions taken. Click here for the full list of rules and
      guidelines of the forum.
    • No Poetry! Nothing against you poets out there, but this isn’t a place for your poems. Head on over to the poetry challenges
      for good competition over there. Some of us fiction people wouldn’t be able to understand your work! Click here for the poetry
    • No posts that are not entries into the competition are allowed in the challenge threads. If you have any questions, concerns,
      or wish to take part in discussion please head over to The Roadhouse Diner.We’ll be glad to take care of your needs over there.
    • Don’t post threads in the NF forum. Same as the above. Any questions, concerns or comments, you take those to the roadhouse diner.
    • Editing your entry after posting isn’t allowed. You’ll be given a ten minute grace period, but after that your story may not be scored.
    • Only one entry per member, per challenge.
    • No liking entries until the scores go up.
    • The word limit is 700 words including the title. If you go over - Your story will not be counted.
    Last edited by H.Brown; October 15th, 2017 at 02:34 PM.
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  2. #2
    Tough Times
    (698 words)

    The phrase “tough times,” is a relative term. It could certainly be said that those who lived in the 1930’s, experiencing the dust bowl and the Great Depression, were going through tough times. The Vietnam War forced many to survive the loss of irreplaceable family members, some never being able to fill that hole in their lives. In more modern days, no one in this country was untouched by the trauma of September 11, 2001, and many probably still are. Tough times for all indeed.

    Tough times are what happens after a catastrophe, after an event so horrific that it changes people’s view of their own life, of their feelings of confidence and well-being. There are huge losses involved, whether they be tangible or intangible, and the possibility, or probability, of not being able to recover those losses is a constant worry to those who are experiencing them.

    Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, is a small, impoverished country. We do not often hear of this little island community, unless it comes into the cross hairs of some political agenda, or the weather. The recent dual hits of hurricanes Irma and Maria have laid this tiny country low, and has become the topic of many recent news reports.

    Our government initially stepped up. They said they would help until there was no longer a need. They sent food, supplies, and personnel. Across this country, we breathed a sigh of relief because we knew that help from our government was a solid thing. That those tough times mentioned above were met with support and compassion from the powers that be for years and years, and this event would be no different.

    Then the tough times became even tougher for the beleaguered Puerto Ricans. Those in power began to argue. Even though all Puerto Ricans were affected by these horrible events, the leader of the United States wants them to work harder to bring their country back from the edge of disaster. He wants them to leave their starving families and drive trucks of supplies; help rebuild. Before anything is even accomplished, there comes threats of our help being withdrawn, because not enough Puerto Ricans are willing – or able – to do the job our President feels they should be doing. There is no electricity, no running water, and no place to sleep at night, but somehow Puerto Rican men are supposed to think of the general good before their own families. There is no food, no gasoline, and no way to get anywhere but that is not good enough for our leader. Puerto Ricans heard him say the little assistance they have received could be going away, that the US “won’t be there forever.”

    Well, I thought. I looked around my small apartment and wondered what I could send. I briefly wondered how much it would cost to fly to Puerto Rico, but knew immediately that was beyond me. I have little money to donate. All I have is myself. But because I am an American and have grown up knowing that the United States always takes care of their own, and many other countries, this new position was almost unbelievable. Americans take care; we know of no other way. So what is going on?

    After World War II, the Marshall Plan[1] was devised for the US to send over 13 billion dollars to West Germany, France, and the United Kingdom to help rebuild and stop the spread of communism. In 2014 the US sent $35 billion[2] in aid to countries like Israel, Egypt, Afghanistan, Jordan and Pakistan. But when it comes to little Puerto Rico, whose residents do not pay taxes to the US government because they are a territory, not a state, our position seems to have changed.

    We did not ask the survivors of 9-11 to help rebuild the towers. We did not demand the residents of the Florida Keys rebuild their own homes, damaged by the same storms as Puerto Rico, before help would come their way. Why is this stand being taken by the most powerful country in the world on one of its smallest communities? Shame on us.

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan

    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_foreign_aid
    Last edited by SueC; October 15th, 2017 at 02:43 PM. Reason: add number of words

  3. #3
    Food for thought

    Pick a trouble, any trouble, and I probably know something of it. Everyone has money issues or relationship issues or health issues or … something. Ifwe had perfect lives, we’d bore ourselves to oblivion.

    So I’ll write about food. Due to the aforementioned money issues, I have to feed a family of four adults on a limited budget. Yet, I’m trying to eat healthy and lose weight. This is not easy, as the cheaper food tends to be full of calories and mostly empty of other nutrients. Food like rice, potatoes, and pasta.

    Each week, I make a meal plan for dinners with the idea that breakfasts would be leftovers, yogurt, or skipped. Store-brand yogurt is forty cents a carton, and they have a low-carb version, to help make up for the high-carb dinners. Lunches are mason jar salads. They cost twenty-something a week to make for my husband and I but when the alternative is my husband buying cafeteria lunches at work, it seems reasonable. There’s also an economy of scale if I make them for me,too. My son eats soup because he has welding class and a thermos is more easily transported than a mason jar and a bowl to eat the saladin. My daughter typically eats lunch at work— she works at a pizza place.

    Here is next week’s meal plan.

    Sunday – Four-pound French Onion Soup. Made with water instead of beef broth, it’s really cheap. It takes over three hours because caramelizing four pounds of onions takes time. French bread costs about a dollar and a half a loaf. Swiss cheese to top it costs about two for the store brand. The bread is toasted and floated in the soup with grated cheese on top. Skipping the bread, it’s good for weight loss. Beef broth costs a couple of bucks for two cartons,so I added it to the shopping list.

    Monday – Fried Cabbage with Bacon, Onions and Garlic. What it sounds like. It takes most of an hour, because rendering the bacon and wilting the cabbage are both long processes. Cabbage is inexpensive, less than one-fifty for even the biggest head. Bacon is only a few dollars per pound, and it stretches into several meals.

    Tuesday – Red Beans and Rice. Basically, a can of kidney beans, a cut-up kielbasa, a can of diced tomatoes, some onion, bell pepper, seasonings and cooked rice. Rice won’t help you lose weight but it’s cheap.

    Wednesday – Bacon Baked Beans and Cornbread. Beans are cheap and cornbread is too. I have homemade barbecue sauce in the fridge and some of that bacon. My bean recipe calls for a half-pound of ground beef and multiple kinds of beans. Beans are high in protein but they’re also starchy.

    Thursday – Pasta and Pantry Sauce. A one-pound box of pasta costs a dollar. We have tomato stuff in the pantry and a half pound of Wednesday’s ground beef. And bacon. A bit of bacon is amazing in pasta sauce.

    Friday – Lentil Sausage Soup and Quick Beer Bread. Lentils are beans. Sausage for the soup is less than three dollars and there’s also an onion. The bread is flour, baking powder and a bottle of beer from the pantry (we don’t drink beer, only cook with it, but I tend to have a few bottles around).

    Saturday – Bourbon Brown Sugar Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, and Corn. From the freezer, a 2-pound chunk of pork loin cooked in the crock pot. The glaze has brown sugar, soy sauce and bourbon. Potatoes tend to be cheap whether you buy them from the produce section or the prepared food section.

    My store has a shopping list feature where I can select the quantities of specific items and it calculates the total estimated cost and making the shopping list for this meal plan I would spend under $80 including my mason jar salads and yogurts and my son’s soups.

    The trade-off here is time. If I didn’t have the time to make these foods, we wouldn't be eating as well. When my children or my schoolwork were taking my attention, we ate a poorer diet. Which is how I gained the weight.
    699 words, including the title.
    Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.
    — Robert G. Allen

  4. #4
    The Unofficial Guide to Driving in Portugal (695)

    Observing driving standards in Portugal as a passenger was stressful but once behind the steering wheel the word stress took on a whole new meaning.

    My first driving experience was almost my last as I gripped the steering wheel in sheer terror. Cars drove at me from all directions and I wondered why they were using me as target practice. Mental note: did I have a bulls-eye painted on my car which I had previously failed to notice?

    Although I was a confident driver in the UK, driving a left-hand instead of a right hand drive car meant everything was the wrong way round which challenged both my confidence and coordination skills.

    Automatic actions, such as changing gear, became a challenge as I crunched painfully through the gears. My only consolation: the brake and accelerator pedals were still in the same place. One moment I was stamping on the brake to avoid hitting a pedestrian - who was so preoccupied chatting away on her mobile phone she failed to realise she was crossing the road - and the next accelerating to avoid a head on collision.

    Here are my Top 5 Survival Tips for driving in Portugal - based on personal experience and observations:

    1. Never Assume: Forget the driving etiquette learned in your home country, in Portugal it’s every pedestrian, cyclist, motorist for themselves!

    2. Psychic Powers: You WILL need to develop psychic powers to survive. Why? If the driver in front is indicating they are about to turn left, they may well turn right at the last minute. Or even go into reverse because they have overshot the turning. Worse still, they may not indicate at all and just suddenly veer off. Be prepared for every eventuality

    3. Pedestrians should be approached with caution especially in tourist season. They walk four abreast with their backs to oncoming traffic and step without warning and without looking off the pavement. Don’t bother to beep your horn or curse at them in frustration; they are on holiday, and as such, are indestructible – unlike your nerves.

    4. Concentrate at all times. Drivers overtake on blind bends, the brow of the hill or just pull out to overtake regardless of whether they have clear vision or not. Don't be surprised they then try to ram you off the road because they've either run out of space or are suddenly desperate to avoid a head on collision with oncoming traffic. Plus, if you flash your lights or gesture they become enraged. I am intrigued, do these drivers have X-Ray vision or a sixth-sense that nothing is coming? Why are they in such a hurry to meet their maker?

    5. Finally, don’t be intimidated. For example, a crazy lorry driver attempted to overtake as we were approaching a blind bend. He pulled out and then travelled alongside me but didn't have the power to overtake. I glanced across at him in sheer disbelief as he furiously blasted the horn and gestured, not too politely, for me to move out of his way!

    Realizing I was not about to evaporate into thin air he pulled back and sat just inches from my rear bumper whilst furiously flashing his lights and hand still on horn. As you can imagine I was absolutely terrified by this madman. Frustrated he pulled out again narrowly missing an oncoming car.

    The journey continued in this manner for a further 20 minutes and I genuinely feared for my life. How dare he try to barge me off the road by using the sheer size of his vehicle to intimidate me! I then hatched a cunning plan...

    Fortunately, I knew the road and that we were approaching further bends and a very steep hill. Gradually, I reduced my speed so the lorry driver lost his revs. By the time we reached the steep incline ahead he was just crawling along. At this point I hit the accelerator, waved goodbye out of the side window, flashed my lights and was gone.

    Although this guide is written with a humorous slant, drivers in Portugal do play by different rules, so forewarned is forearmed.
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  5. #5
    Member bobo's Avatar
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    Oct 2016
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    [Well, I was told to write a JOURNALISTIC contribution called ‘Troubled Times’ – which also is what is mentioned in the October month’s challenge,
    - and that’s what you’ll find beneath.
    Here in the last minute I discovered it should have been an essay - so bear with me if it’s not especially entertaining or charming.
    But I’m going to upload anyway ]

    [It is thought written as a contribution to ‘Les philosophies des medias’, a French media for the medias about the philosophy behind the words and expressions the medias are using – just for your info ]


    There is no such thing as troubled times.
    People can be troubled, but not a synthetical notion as times.
    ‘Times’ in itself is a neutral word.
    ‘Troubled times’ is a clear anthromorphism.

    Life is filled with challenges, personal challenges and common challenges – and so it should be, because without challenges we as human beings wouldn’t develop.
    And after all, that’s what the whole charade is about.

    Trouble is a challenge not well received, a word loaded with negativity,
    As in an unwanted challenge - and will normally mean something unforeseen, something coming from the outside hitting without or with little warning, something which has the power to unbalance or even destroy the way of living for one or more persons.

    So, those unwanted things, initiated by others, coming hitting you, and forcing you to change your lifestyle – at least for a period - of course happens.
    For everybody in person, and for a lesser or bigger group of people – but don’t blame it on the times.
    In different places on the earth’s geography ‘the times’ will be perceived differently – even ‘the times’ in itself are the same.

    It’s mostly human beings, who create the for other humans unwanted challenges – not the times.
    Or it can be nature which initiates violently departures from known balances.
    To blame those things on the times would be wrong.

    But don’t forget that ‘what is one man’s loss is another man’s gains’ – meaning there’ll normally be persons who can see other people’s unforeseen challenges as a way to better their own lives one way or another – and that goes for wars, natural catastrophes, revoltes, epidemics etc. etc.
    As for the more personal challenges, it’ll be oneself who will be the benefactor of more strength and discipline in the affected area … when setting out for overcoming the challenge.

    Tough ?? – maybe .. that’s all depends how it’s taken.
    Times cannot be troubled, but they can be perceived as troubling – or as challenging, depending on the attitude of the perceiver.
    Some get very angry, sad or depressed seeing the challenge as a cloud over the normal contentment, others will see the challenge as a change to express and use their inborn qualities, to show themselves (and may be the world) … they can overcome.
    Which way to perceive is a personal matter.
    After the initial shock the decision to overcome gives a lot of positive energy, which again brings life.
    To stay in the trauma, perceiving it as catastrophic .. is dead.

    It’s advised the medias not to stir up people’s emotions unnecessarily by using such senseless expressions, placing blame where no blame can be placed.

    444 words
    Last edited by bobo; October 23rd, 2017 at 07:50 AM.
    BOBO is an abbreviation for BOurgeois-BOhème Hidden Content
    Lighten up, there – things look different in Light than in Shadow Hidden Content


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