Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Just goes to prove: "Be careful what you wish for."

I could wax lyrical about the selfish, ego-centric and childish behaviour of both sides of the American House of Representatives - after all, when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold - but I'm restraining myself because I'm still gobsmacked at the on-going reprehensible attitudes and my temper has yet to subside.

So... the first sentence still holds true. There I was storing more stuff under the stairs. The box, square, the angle difficult, but with a little effort, I wriggled it in; and bashed my ring-finger in the process. I figured, "well, ow. That'll bruise." Then I had a look at the damage. Can you say... blud? Lots an' lots of warm blood.

Off to the bathroom and under a tap. It didn't hurt. Not even when I pressed down to stop the stream of red stuff to look. Kinda numb really, but I managed to cut a centimetre down my finger and another centimetre at a ninety degree angle, inconveniently, to the base of my finger. How do you wrap that sucker?

The cause? A square piece of glass from a picture frame that I managed to hit exactly on the corner. I haven't cut myself in ages so I guess I was due. And, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well!

* * *

Anyway. Something to give you a chuckle during these darkity-dark economic times sent to me by a sister o' mine:

All of these are legitimate companies that didn't spend quite enough time considering how their online names might appear and be misread especially all in lower case.

Check them out yourself...

'Who Represents'
is where you can find the name of the agent that represents any celebrity. Their website is:


'Experts Exchange'
is a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at:


Lookingfor a pen? Look no further than 'Pen Island' at:


Need a therapist? Try 'Therapist Finder' at


There's the 'Italian Power Generator' company at:


And don't forget the 'Mole Station Native Nursery' in New South Wales at:


If you're looking for 'IP computer software' there's always


And the designers at'Speed of Art' await you at their wacky website


Monday, September 29, 2008


"Tis better to be silent and considered a fool..."

No, that's not it. Umm. Oh, yeah: "If you can't find anything nice to say, don't say nuffink at all."

So that leaves out politics of any kind, though I'm tempted. Sport didn't go my way this weekend, so that's out too. Writing? Nope, not going well there either. The state of the world's finances? What can I say about Corporate greed that hasn't already been said? What about where I live? Anything new? Well a house across the road was taken down to make way for a new one. Does that count? No, I don't think so either.

Hmm... Weblogs? I did find this, if you're willing to download buckets of megabytes of data on UFO sightings in the United Kingdom. More for curiosity than anything else. You either believe or you don't. Other than that, I've not seen anything to really grab my attention.

Movies or books I've seen recently? Umm... haven't seen any movies recently and I'm still wading through the J.D. Robb collection. I live in the country so movies are a matter of logistics to get there. Though I am sorry at the passing of Paul Newman. What a guy. Handsome, talented and one of the true success stories of Hollywood. And since these things always happen in threes, I have to wonder who's next.

I guess that means there's nothing to chat about. Maybe tomorrow will be different...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Care package

Hmm... the blogger's acting up and wouldn't let me access for a while.

Anyway... it's that time of the year for me to put together a care package for my brother and his family in Denmark. I get to fill it with goodies he might not be able to get over there.

Things like Caramello Bears - chocolate Koalas filled with caramel, mmmm - Cherry Ripes, Violet Crumble Bars, Clinkers, Milo Bars, Bertie Beetles, Ovalteenies and the Australian Icons... Tim Tams and variations there of, and Minties! Yay!

I can't help but feel sorry for countries that can't get this stuff, but I also can't help feeling smug because... those countries can't get this stuff. Hah.

So. I've put another story on over at the The Takeaway. It came out of a writing exercise. Hell, it is an exercise!

Now, I have to go and post the aforementioned care package. Yeah, it's September, but sea mail leaves next week.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Curiouser and curiouser.

I received two e-mails today from long lost school buds. One, I haven't heard hide-nor-hair of since that last day of high school; the other sent me an e-mail way back in 2002. Now, each send me a message... on the same day???

One is a 'hail fellow, what up?', the other is announcing a reunion for next year. I figure they're both connected, but arriving on the same day kinda creeped me out a bit.

A reunion. A school reunion. My immediate reaction is nup, no-way, nuh-uh. The last one I went to involved questions about marriage, children and jobs. If the answers weren't satisfactory, then they drifted away. Since I'm one of... I think two or three who never married, I so do not want to go that route again, as if your only value is wrapped up in relationships, otherwise, you're not worth talking to.

Then again, I also found myself at a table with old friends - and their spouses - having an uproarious time while other tables looked on with frowns of disapproval (I liked that bit.) Talk was of what we'd been up to and the adventures we'd all had, with a few 'do you remember whens' tossed in.

Should reunions be about how well so-and-so has done? Or the loss of someone? Or gossip? Do I want to 'catch up' with people I've not thought of, or seen, for years, to see how grey we've become, how middle age has settled on us?

On an intellectual basis, there are some buds I'd like to see, to chat to, to laugh with, but in reality... we didn't have alot in common then, less so now.

The reunion's just over a year away. I guess I've got time to give it some thought.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

When and where

I’m still working on individual character sheets (courtesy of PBW) for the novel to be written during NaNo.

So far, I still don’t have names, but more importantly, nor do I know when the piece will be set. I’m trying to decide between three: Medieval, Renaissance or Victorian.

All eras have their merits, the rough and tumble of knights and damsels, the refinement of artisans and the new era of science, the imagination and creativity of the industrial revolution.

Here are my brief thoughts.

A. Medieval: A time of turmoil. The church rules and heresy is usually accompanied by a rope or an axe. The economy is agrarian with the divide between rich and poor staggering. There are wars and not a lot of law and order. Travel was by horse – if you could afford it – carriage or cart, or on your own two feet. There’s the Black Plague, hard work, brigands, devout religion and fear. Social order is defined by the Lords who own the land and the taxes paid to the king. Only the highest class could read and/or write.

B. Renaissance: Everything is settling down after the blights. There are still wars and conflict between Henry VIII and the church. Still agrarian with lords and serfs, but there is burgeoning art and architecture, and a new middle-class too. Exploration of the unknown world is beginning with the advent of sail. Science is developing from alchemy. Very few could read or write and communication was by word of mouth.

C. Victorian: Modern warfare, sophistication and experimentation. The industrial complex is in full swing with the population moving off the land into the cities and factories. Mythology has given way to fact. Exploration is now of the past. New ideas of deportment and class distinctions, fashions. There are the mega-wealthy who live in mansions and the desperately poor who live on the streets or in pitiful one bedroom flats. There are newspapers, magazines and books. It is the age of the machine.

And I have other thoughts on each era. But the one question I have to ask myself is this: When would magic have had the most impact if discovered? A equals a nasty death by virtually anyone; with some serious torture if discovered by the Church. B. the same result. C. Well. The practitioner could end up in a circus, or exploited, or be sensationalised in the media, then disregarded as a sham.

I think I’ll have to do a bit more research on the eras. And on names. I have to find some appropriate names. This is the second most fun in writing – plunging into history and rolling around in facts. The actual story writing is the most fun.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


It being Spring, a little cleaning is in order. Cleaning, I might add, that should have taken place some… time ago.

Beneath the stairs has been a storage area since my parents moved into the house, um… a little over twenty years ago? Yeah, I know, but no-one – and I do have five siblings – actually got to it. Until now.

Now, I need the space and it seemed like a good idea… at the time. Man… the dust and cobwebs; a real big ‘ick’ there.

Under the stairs I found a couple of boxes. Inside those boxes were memories mixed in with old kitchen stuff; a pair of Russian tea glasses for example, bought for my mother for Christmas one year. Nearly a dozen soda bottles. Ahh, yes.

I can recall sitting near my Dad, in the kitchen on a hot Summer's day, as he poured in a little flavouring and then put the bottle into a Soda Stream – metal, in those days – and a ‘tssssst’ noise coming from it. He took the bottle out, and voila, fizzy drink! I have no idea what happened to the actual Soda Stream machine, maybe it’s hiding somewhere else in the house.

A heat lamp for when my sibs and I crashed and burned on some sporting field and needed some tlc for strains and sprains; still works, too.

Small toys that various nieces and nephews dropped through the steps, and a real treasure, wine!

Tragically, some of the corks leaked on the 1970s reds, but there’s wine from the ‘60s and one – I kid you not – from 1959; it’s some years older than me. Whether any are drinkable, I’ll leave to my brother/brother-in-law. There’s port, too. Unopened Hanwood and Galway Pipe, and a commemorative 1983 bottle, also unopened. Further rummaging revealed Black Douglas, Vicker’s Gin, Glennfiddich and still wrapped in paper, Dom Benedictine. There is also a mysterious substance in two cordial bottles – my mother thinks they’re home-made cumquat liqueur, but isn’t brave enough to try it; neither am I.

I can only think that since my mother isn’t a drinker – a sip or two is her limit – that the bottles have lain undisturbed since my father died eighteen years ago.

But, it’s all clean. Now, I have to vacuum and it’s ready for more storage – stuff that won’t lie about for another twenty years.

It’s good to de-clutter, to clear out stuff that hasn’t been used, and never will be used to make space available.

Hmm… try the wine or wait? Try the wine or… wait…

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And then...

Ideas arrive in their own time and at their own pace. Damn it! But there are ways around it, and around writer’s block at the same time.

No matter what genre you write in, the urge to write can be overwhelming, as can the frustration of not knowing what to write.

I like to play the ‘and then…’ game. It goes like this: take an innocuous situation. A young boy sits outside under a starry sky and watches a meteor flare. I ask “and then…” A number of scenarios spring to mind: does he hear a sonic boom indicating it might not a meteor after all but something more sinister? Does he dream of one day becoming an astrophysicist or an astronaut? I’m guessing the first, because the others have been done already.

The kid is sure it’s the beginning of an alien invasion, ‘and then…’ all the lights in the street go out? He has an asthma attack at the thought? He jumps to his feet and runs inside to tell his parents? The lights; more intriguing.

Now he’s frightened. He’s not afraid of the dark or he wouldn’t be sitting outside, but he looks back at the darkened house, hears his mother cursing – dinner was almost ready. ‘And then…’ another meteor flares, and another, another, until there are dozens lighting up the sky. Or he hears the jets from the local Air Force base take off, sees the landing lights strobe towards the mountains where the meteor fell. Or his best friends contacts him via the two-way he got for his birthday asking if he saw it.

Hmm… divergence. The first two can take the story in different directions. (And this is where plotting for me mostly fails.) The third slows the story unless the two boys become integral in saving the world. A hero and his side-kick, maybe?

Anyway… by playing ‘and then’ you can slowly build your story or you can build your plot by exploring which ‘and then’ has the most impact. You can also toss in a few curve balls later on. Who says the boy is human, for example; maybe it’s a sign for him to go to the rendezvous point for rescue. Or it’s a sign for his brethren to start revealing their true alien selves. Or a number of scenarios.

It could even be the beginning of a lifetime relationship between a boy and girl. Because you have the genesis of a story, you can choose.

‘And then…’ a simple idea became a book; I’ve been doing it a lot lately.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


When it comes to world-building, it’s the bigger picture that we see: the system and how many planets or what the main body is. Dwarf star, M-class, binary and so on. Then we get to the world itself: flora, fauna, atmosphere, land and sea masses, axial tilt for the seasons, how a moon or two will affect tidal shift. Then it’s down to the aliens or the characters and how they interact with their world, what they look like, the history, social and cultural structure, religion and its’ taboos.

But what about the micro-climate? This affects all characters whether they are modern earth, or an alien subspecies, or the eight-legged miniature dragon a boy called Henjak has for a pet.

A micro-climate can be as simple as the area between skin and leather jerkin, inside a domicile or how close the pet is to the ground in relation to its’ master.

If you bundle up against the cold with six layers of clothing to keep warm on a frosty morning, what about the pet you’re taking for a walk that is much closer to the icy ground. Your climate is warmth and comfort, well-being; the pet’s climate is chilled air reflecting off the ground and crunchy ice between the claws, unhappy without fur. Does your character even think about such things or is he/she feeling too smug about being outdoors getting some much needed exercise?

Further out from your own personal climate: how will the cold air affect an arrow in flight, if your walk is interrupted by the ravening hordes pouring over the hill toward your village? Or the fireball shot from a trebuchet mounted on the castle walls in a rain storm? Will hurricane winds be enough to subdue a tactical strike from orbit or will it cause a ten-fold debris field? Will the missile be blown off course and destroy the capital?

In War of the Worlds a simple virus wiped out the invaders. The Martians had advanced technology and weapons and yet it was the smallest thing that brought them down. In X-men and Heroes genetic alteration has global implications. At the battle of Stalingrad during the Second World War, thousands died because they couldn’t keep warm during the most bitter winter seen in decades. The Black Plague – both in the 14th century and 17th – killed so many because of a lack of personal hygiene. If King Henry VIII had eaten pottage – a porridge made up of grains - like the poor peasants, he wouldn’t have had digestive problems and become obese.

Micro-climates are just as important as macro-climates. Compromise a micro-climate and the results can be just as catastrophic as changing the macro-climate.

Most authors write about micro-climates without realising it. A character catches a fever is the most used; poison is another.

So when you’re writing, don’t forget the small stuff along with the world at large. One small virus, one fed-up and cold small dragon, can ruin your day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Half-assed democracy

And so I have done my civic duty.

I put my mother in the car and drove to the local primary school, had my name checked off and voted. I looked around for the ballot box and a helpful... helper directed me to a brown, non-descript cardboard box; with blue pen written on it. Here I could dump my oh, so valuable democratic vote.

A cardboard box that looked like it had been scavanged from the local supermarket. And blue pen. Stuffed to the gunnels with other people's democratic votes.

I didn't see any other boxes - cardboard or otherwise - and I have to wonder whether it was to be recycled. The only 'officials' I saw were marking off the names and when I looked at the lists, there were precious few signed off for the Ward.

In other government elections, both State and Federal, there are more people with badges proclaiming officialdom, tall white ballot boxes with someone standing guard.

Not so today. That box was disappointing to see. The lack of officialdom disappointing too, even as the people handing out their candidates 'how to' forms were as enthusiastic as ever.

Voting is compulsory here, but the ballot box presented to us today would, in no way, take all the votes. I can only hope that honesty and fair play are adhered to. From what I saw, there's too much opportunity for the incumbent to... influence the count - and it is his ward.

I guess we'll have to wait and see...

Thursday, September 11, 2008


And here I thought the local council elections were going to be deadly dull and boring.

Nope. The mayor's wife has had a few things to say that do not cast her in a good light. Abusing the volunteers of your rivals, in public, does not win you friends and makes you - yet again - a laughing stock. Nor has the mayor, for that matter, pressed his cause:

"However Shoalhaven Mayor Greg Watson said he “didn’t see anything”.

“I wasn’t aware of what happened, if anything happened at all,” Cr Watson said.

He said allegations of abuse “sounds like a political stunt”.

“It’s of no interest to me personally.”
(South Coast Register, 10.9.08)

His wife verbally abuses people and it's of no interest to him? It's witnessed by a number of people and yet he describes it as a political stunt? His political group is also in trouble with the Department of Local Government for distributing false advertising information - which his wife approved. He's also accused of threatening legal action against a community newspaper, accused the local paper South Coast Register of bias against his political party and used an emergency siren as a precursor to a patently false advertisement. And that's just in the last week.

It might be a small area, but I also noted the nastiness creeping into the American presidential campaign. You'd have to be brain dead not to get the inference when Mr Obama spoke about "put lipstick on a pig and it's still a pig". Anyone who heard Ms Palin's joke the previous week would see Mr Obama's comment as insulting and sexist. Is this a mis-step? And why is slamming the critics of the comment when he repeated it? He could have used a number of other metaphors. I think he should fire his speech writer. It was neither witty nor clever.

It's like a Miss World competition; Mr Obama wants world peace by talking people to death, and Mr McLain's going for Miss Congeniality with his charming affability. I had no idea a Presidential campaign was about popularity.

Where are the policies? The solutions? The progressive ideas? Where are the genuine efforts to solve problems without taking a swipe at the other side? A true candidate would have these, and not worry about the small, inconsequential and, eventually, irrelevant stuff like who looks prettier together.

After this weekend, I'm over politics. It's too much like cats fight in a sack.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Caution: spleen venting

What is it about politicians that they have to spout lies and half-truths to get elected? What is it about them that they have to whinge and gripe and groan about the unfairness of media exposure?

Our current mayor is a perfect example. The last time I saw such tripe was... hmm, last election.

None of the bad stuff that's happened over the last four years is his fault; but every damn good thing, he'll take credit for. The guy only got in via preferences from his nasty little cronies.

And cronies they are given I spent a couple of months going through the council voting trends; there's a lot of block voting going on. The mayor, of course, denies caucusing - that's deciding how to vote before the meeting.

That kind of voting becomes apparent in the ease with which his lordship voted. On some issues, he could lodge an opposing vote, assured that his cadre would see the issue through.

The worst of it is he could wiggle through again with preferences. I sincerely hope not, otherwise, the waterfront will be blocked with six and seven storey buildings - a result of his group voting on a particular building against staff recommendations and against legal advice that's going up in the neighbourhood.

I'm not against development here; but I am against no consultation with the residents. This is a quiet, family orientated tourist area. Come summer, the place is packed with caravaners, campers and families. But in the winter, only those of us who live here wander the empty streets - and that suits us fine.

Erecting multi-story buildings not only reserves the view for those who can afford it, but ruins the laidback, relaxed atmosphere which is why people come here; a fact the Mayor denies.

I genuinely hope he loses the election; both as mayor and as a councillor. The man has dubious connections to developers, ignorance of what the people want, and is just plainly an asshat. He's a liar and a cheat, but a brilliant details man. We don't need the likes of him, we are fed up with the likes of him, and I hope defeat is a truly bitter pill for him.

Maybe then the Shire can get back to being run properly: the council made up of the people's representatives, not the developers yes men.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Politics... pitooie

Well, it's a busy week - politically speaking - here in Oz.

Last week, the deputy grand poobah of NSW, John Watkins, resigned. Then grand poobah of NSW, Morris Iemma, resigned yesterday and there's a cabinet shake-up which will be announced on Sunday; West Australians go to the polls to elected their grand poobah with the current Labor Government there in trouble and there are two separate elections for former ministerial seats in NSW and South Australia. Next weekend is the local council elections - and I'll be voting for someone other than the current manipulative, arrogant Mayor (much as I'd like to vent my spleen with harsh language, this is a public forum).

In a week, the whole face of local and State politics will undergo a radical shift. It will also indicate how the people of those States involved view the Federal Government - and current polls suggest not very kindly. Two State governments, the Northern Territory and West Australia have gone to the polls early, something Australians see as cynical and opportunistic. NT Labor came exceptionally close to losing; WA may well be lost for Labor.

With one political disaster after another, Iemma and his treasurer Michael Costa, are gone now, but the problems remain. Worse, these are the same problems that Iemma took over from previous NSW Premier Bob Carr, who jumped ship early amid congratulations and severe back patting. Iemma was left holding a poison chalice.

But... he did little or nothing to fix the rail system, hospital waiting lists, education, roads, traffic, presided over cross-city tunnel that is sucking taxpayers dry because too few people use it and many other failed-to-solve issues. The now former treasure said this morning that NSW is basically 'insolvent' with revenues collapsing, budget blowouts and money squandered as if the people of NSW have bottomless pockets.

In two years, New South Wales Labor will go to the next election with two newbies: Nathan Rees and his deputy, Carmel Tebbutt. The tough decisions he's going to make will not enarmour him to the people. Times are tough already.

Mr Rees has already sacked Iemma's 'strategic' team and has said he won't be influenced by factions. So not true. Any Labor leader in this country is leader only at the behest of the factions who support them. Withdraw that support and you're gone, as Morris found out yesterday.

It gets worse. Mr Rees was was chief of staff to the convicted paedophile and drug offender, former Member of Parliament, Milton Orkopoulos. What does Rees know about that and what else is he hiding?

The only bright spot in this whole political mess is that Quentin Bryce, former Queensland governor, lawyer, academic, sex discrimination commissioner and child-care campaigner, became Australia's first female and 25th Governor General - the direct representative of the Queen in Australia.

Let's hear it for Grrl Power!

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Queen

I'm reading J.D. Robb. Yes, all of them and in order.

There's something compelling about them. I don't know what; maybe it's the intricacies of crime-solving told smoothly, sometimes with humour.

It's all the more amazing when you consider that J.D.'s alter ego, Nora Roberts - the undisputed Queen of romance - doesn't use an outline or character profiles. She also writes in sets of three. Three J.D. Robb; three original Nora's. And is a year ahead of the publishing schedule.

In a reply to a question (19/9/2007), Nora said:"I don't do outlines, but I figure if a character doesn't surprise me or go in a direction I might not have planned, they're not real enough--for me or for the reader."

I am in awe of such a talent, but I think I have a clue has to how she does it - over and beyond the sheer concentration it must take to hold all that information in mind. Am I going to share? Well, not yet. I'm nowhere near the master she is. Hell, I'm barely a neophyte at this writing gig. But if my theory plays out, I'll tell.

What I can say is a number of writers 'how to's' are finally beginning to gel. If I can wrap my head around it all, then maybe I'll have the answer to why my stuff isn't as good as I want it to be. And that will be so-o cool!

Maybe it is as easy as A.B.C...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

On the other channel

I want to comment on Sarah Palin and the on-going 'controversy' so much it hurts. But... I won't. Nut'in to do with me or anybody else.

There's a new story over on The Takeaway though; if you're interested, that is.

Now, back to the plot...

Monday, September 01, 2008


Today is a mild, almost warm day. An excellent start to Spring.

I spent the weekend away from the computer - didn't turn it on at all. Instead, I scooted off to the southern highlands for some window shopping and lunch with a sister. Very relaxing.

Yesterday, another sister visited and I just had to make chocolate cake. She has a new toy, a laptop, so we played.

Overall, it was just what I needed. No worries about lack of progress in plotting, no guilt at not putting fingers to keyboard.

And now, finally, the cobwebs are cleared away and I'll be posting a new story on the Takeaway, which has suffered from lack of attention. That's for Wednesday. For now, I have a story to edit.