Thursday, January 29, 2009

The rule of three

As we all know, disasters come in threes. You have doubts? I present to you the evidence:

Yesterday, I broke the garden trimmers - it's now in two pieces; maybe it's fixable and maybe it ain't. Blew up the lawn mower, too. I understand that the belch of blue smoke does not bode well for repairing. The fates are obviously in a winter of discontent. I switched on the teev to watch the news with my morning coffee today and lo, the Red Screen of Death!

Yep. No picture and only the voice of a newsreader reading the Russian news... in Russian. Killed the television somehow. It's deader than the road kill up the street that's been lying squished under the summer sun for two days. (It remains unidentified - maybe Cletis knows.) Mmmm... fragrant...

But, with all things bad, sad or disappointing, there's a positive side. Er... I can't quite think of one for the trimmers; it means the lawn will go without a hair cut for a few more days (with the weather peeps predicting the heatwave to continue for another ten days I figure long grass will protect the roots - that's my story and I'm sticking to it!) and the television? Why, I guess a new one is in order. High Definition, digital, large. Definitely large.

As for the road kill... nope, can't think of anything good, especially for the beastie now pancaked on the road and cooking fast.

I'll think positive about tomorrow; maybe three interesting things will happen. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Well this sucks!

I've got a touch of 'flu. I know this because I have the achin' bones, the stab of pain every time I cough and I generally feel like a bucket 'o shit without the bucket.

I also figured I'd sweat the bug out - we are at the beginning of a four day heatwave - and decided to work in the garden before the temperature rose too high. First up, a bit of trimming off some... plant or other. (I'm botanically challenged so I've no idea what it was.) Somehow, I managed to break the long bladed snipper things. It wasn't as if the dead sticky-things were that thick! Right. Okay. I'll mow instead.

I worked up a nice sweat as I did row after row until... zzzt, pop, flash and a gout of blue smoke rose from the mower. Of course, it wouldn't start again and the lawn now looks like a failed attempt at writing something rude for the satellites.

Obviously, I wasn't meant to work in the garden today, but there's no way I'm taking to my bed and mope; I just can't do it. I do feel better for the effort in the garden though, not so... achy. Maybe there's something to this sweat cure.

So I sat in front of the computer and edited the Nano book - for which I still don't have a title! I discovered it's not a good idea when you're feeling under the weather. I suck at first pages.

I thought it was a good idea at the time, but nope. Sucks. Alot. Even the new pages I wrote aren't going to reach the luminary heights of literature - or pass my own strict protocols. sigh.

I think I'll just take some more medication and mooch in front of the telly before I have to go to work. Someone there gave me this heinous bug, but I'll be careful not to pass it on.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Australia Day!

Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We've golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea:
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare,
In history's page let every stage
Advance Australia fair,
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair.

When I was a kid, we sang this before starting our school day. For special assemblies, we sang the 'second' verse too. (The original version has five verses; the official version only two.) I'm guessing not many of our newest citizens know it because it's rarely belted out any more. But here it is:

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We'll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands,
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share,
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.

Sigh... makes an Aussie go all warm and fuzzy. By the end of the day, 13,000 people will be raising their glasses and celebrating their new citizenship.

It's all about celebrating who we are - whether indigenous or migrant - getting down to the white sandy beaches, throwing prawns, lamb or beef on the barbie or watching the cricket or tennis holding a cold one. It's the ferry races on Sydney Harbour, the Tall ships under full sails and sparkly fireworks. It's buying a beer for the bloke next to you, saying 'G'day' to a stranger and just being thankful you live here.

Whatever you're up to today, have a good one!

Friday, January 23, 2009

What do I like?

I love memes. You have to think carefully on your answers and thinking is an excellent way to start the day's writing or editing.

So. Jason, over at Scribblings of a Madman sent me this one:

The Rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Write down six things that make you happy
3. Post these rules
4. Tag six others (I'm tagging whomever wishes to play)
5. Notify me that you've tagged others - or that you're having a brain freeze...

Six things that make me happy:

1. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee on a cold morning;
2. The taste of Parmesan chicken;
3. Discovering something new while researching;
4. The smell of the rain after a hot day;
5. Watching the dolphins frolic in the Bay;
6. Writing 'The End' on a manuscript.

Now that I'm thinking on this, there are other things that make me happy, but we'll leave it at six.

What makes you happy?

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Gah...!!! I'm am so not a fan of hot weather!

I know some people are, those who revel in the prickling heat, the slickness of sweat, the burn of the sun... me, I'm all for air conditioning. But me 'ouse ain't got none.

The local wildlife, though, are emboldened by it. This afternoon, I sat watching Band of Brothers and out from behind the book case comes a mouse, small and brown with twitching ears. It wandered around for a while and ducked back. Next thing, it was atop the wing-back chair across from me give me a right looking over. No point in trying to catch it and it zipped off with a sniff.

Downstairs, I continued editing the Nano novel - for which I still don't have a title - and I see movement out of the corner of my eye: a blue tongue lizard. The beggar wanted in, where it is marginally cooler.

I picked his warm body up and settled him behind some pot plants - then realised lizards are cold-blooded. Give you an idea of the heat here. Five-thirty in the p.m. and it's still 35 degrees celsius and no hint of the promised storms or cool breeze.

The dog, I should say, just lies there; I don't think she's interested in moving at all. I think I'll join her...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's all new

There's a lot of 'rah-rah' today, what with the new President an' all, so I thought I'd post some new words to go along with the new guy in the Big House, renewed hope and all the other new stuff:

New Words for 2009

An excellent phrase for an overweight person.

A deeply unattractive person.

Waving your arms around and talking bollocks.

Sitting round in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die.

An office filled with cubicles.

When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on. (This also applies to applause for a promotion because there may be cake.)

Single working girls. Single income, no boyfriend and desperate.

One who has bleached/dyed her hair but still has a 'black box'.

The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it
to work again.

That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake (e.g. you've hit 'reply all').

A very short skirt, only an inch from the hare.

A young man of substandard intelligence, the typical adolescent who works in a burger restaurant. The 'no-stars' comes from the badges displaying stars that staff at fast-food restaurants often wear to show their level of training.

The contents of a Wonderbra, i.e. extremely impressive when viewed from the outside, but there's actually naught in there worth seeing.

A bath so hot, that when lowering yourself in, you go: 'Oo! Oo! Oo! Aa! Aa! Aa!'.

The bus that arrives at the pub on Friday night while you're in the toilet after your 10th pint, and whisks away all the unattractive people so the pub is suddenly packed with stunners when you come back in.

Bottled premixed spirits, regularly consumed by young women.

Tattoo on a female

A woman whose knickers are too small for her, so she looks like she's got 4 buttocks.

Thanks to my sister, C., for sending this.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Choices, choices

Last week, Trooper Mark Donaldson was award the highest honour for courage under fire: the Victoria Cross.

Trooper Donaldson of the SAS was awarded the medal (you don't 'win' combat medals because the action ain't no game to 'win', there is no competition other than to stay alive) after drawing enemy fire away from wounded soldiers and the rescue of a wounded Afghan interpreter left behind. The story is here.

He did Australia proud - as do all our serving troops; he had a choice of continuing to fight, or to expose himself to machine gun fire and rescue a wounded colleague, to be more than another soldier following orders.

Well done, Trooper Mark Donaldson, you are an inspiration to us all.

* * *

Ahem... yes, well, I did pick the Eagles and they should have rolled the Cardinals. Obviously, no-one told Arizona they were supposed to lose. But I also picked the Steelers! (Although I didn't tell anybody - maybe that's the secret of my, failures.)

It presents a problem. Former Aussie Rules star Ben Graham punts for the Cardinals and he becomes the first Aussie to play in a Superbowl. I should support them - I know the rest of Australia will be - but the way the Steelers played today... I'm keeping my mouth shut on who I'm supporting; it's better that way.

And now, onto the big one: the Superbowl. I shall make ready with popcorn, hotdogs and a caffeinated beverage. Sure, it will be about 10.00 in the morning, but who cares?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Well, wow! There's hope for us wanna be writers yet!

I read in the weekend paper of an online Canadian bookstore, AbeBooks, who posted an interesting list: The most expensive books they sold in 2008.

Of interest is that all but two are 19th century works - as you'd expect. Number three on the list is: "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling - $12,874
Rare first edition signed by JK with the dust wrapper panels signed by the cover artist Cliff Wright. The first issue has a misaligned block of text which was corrected in the subsequent issues."

Might be an idea to check your own copy.

$12,000. I'm shaking my head because it outsold a 1949 first edition, first printing copy of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four which went for $6,780.

All manner of comparisons just pop up, don't they. Which is has more literary value? Will HP still be read sixty years from now? Will it be considered a classic like George Orwell's masterpiece? How much will a signed, first edition of HP be then? And so on. I consider George Orwell a more insightful social commentator, but JK a more readable one.

If you look further down the page, there's a list of three HP books that were signed and sold for between five and twelve thousand dollars.

I guess the good news is, if you're fortunate enough to write something that has universal appeal and hits the market at just the right time, you don't have to be dead for your signature to be worth a lot of money - even if you don't see one red cent of it. And a signed book - a signed anything, really - is only worth as much as what another is willing to pay for it.

How much will you be worth once you're in print?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What's my custom worth?

You know, I'm all for supporting local businesses, but not when they try to hose me. In evidence:

I went to the local bookstore (who shall remain nameless) to order Lynn Viehl's Stay the Night. I knew I could order it from a Sydney bookstore and it would arrive on Monday, but I figure, support local businesses. Not on your Nellie!

"Yes, we can order that in for you, madam." Madam? Who's he calling 'madam'? "It will cost between 15 and 20 dollars..." He continued. "And we charge an eight dollar postage fee."

"Excuse me?"

"Fifteen to twenty dollars and an eight dollar postage charge. It comes from America you know."

"Yes. But I'll get it from Sydney thanks."

To give you a comparison, the book from Sydney will cost $18.95; the cost from the local store: $28.00. For a paperback. In American dollars, that's $18.47 (I checked). I don't care who the author is, I'm not paying that much to support a local business.

So, by next week I'll have the book in my hot little hands. (Bit of a pun there, for two days the temps been over a hundred fahrenheit.)

Finally, my sister sent me this:

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:


(1) They live here. You don't...
(2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.
(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they
(1) eat less,
(2) don't ask for money all the time,
(3) are easier to train,
(4) normally come when called,
(5) never ask to drive the car,
(6) don't hang out with drug-using people,
(7) don't smoke or drink,
(8) don't want to wear your clothes,
(9) don't have to buy the latest fashions,
(10) don't need a gazillion dollars for college, and
(11) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children...

After reading this, I found my happy place again...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Unexpected consequences

Well, who knew being environmentally friendly could be so dangerous?

The waters off the east coast of Australia are much cleaner thanks to the efforts of the government and individuals. This has lead to an increase in fish! Yay! But... it's also given rise to an increase in bait fish close in shore. And what follows bait fish? Why dolphins... and sharks.

There have been three shark attacks in two days: one off Tasmania and two off New South Wales. Shark sightings have increased, too. Big sharks, giant sharks and today a hammerhead cruised off a popular Sydney beach, fat and happy.

Most swimmers and surfers aren't concerned, it is, after all, the sharks' natural habitat and if you go in... you take your chances.

Me, I don't go in at all. Yes, I'm a wuss, but for good reason. Some years ago I did dip a toe in, swam around and stood up to look around. There, swimming between me and the beach was a long, dark shadow, indolently gliding through the water.

Did I panic? Nah, I was too frozen with fear and I watched until I thought it was far enough away. Then I moved and moved fast since exploding into action turned the shark around.

I got to the beach before it got to me. I think the damn thing scared my suntan away I was so white - or so my sister said.

So no, I don't go into the water anymore. That's not to say this area is dangerous, it's not.

The problem I have is when news organisations (not pointing any fingers Channel Ten) call it a 'shark plague'. Sharks are an endangered species; there aren't enough to make a 'plague'. With more people in the water, a cleaner environment and shark breeding season, of course there'll be more sharks sited!

I'd like to say 'if you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone', but all three attacks were sudden and unexpected with the sharks disappearing soon after. And a shark isn't going to leave you alone if it thinks you're food.

So, I'll say that, statistically speaking, you're more likely to have an accident on the way to the beach than get bit by a beastie.

Me, I'd rather not tempt fate and to hell with statistics. I'm staying on terra firma.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Modern vamps

So there I sat, depressed at the football results; ye-es, I picked the Giants and Chargers... sigh... and at the end of the latter game, channel surfed.

I came across the History Channel and the program, Vampire Secrets. It deals with the history of vampires, from the 12th century and earlier, right up to the romanticising of the vamp as an object of irresistible lust. It covered myths, forensic science and fact: Vlad Dracule of Romanian (a local hero there) and Hungarian Baroness, Elizabeth Barthory, who bathed in the blood of virgins (ick!). The last hour of the program was of interest to me because it mentioned 'psychic vampires'.

Most people know someone who is 'toxic' or an 'emotional vampire', ie, those who seem to suck us dry of energy with passive-aggressive tendencies or sensitivities too easily offended.

But the psychic vampire... the more I watched, the more I felt my interest peak, and I grabbed for a notebook. Why? Because the parallel with my Nano novels was too close to miss.

Yeah, I had an idea and ran with it, never knowing something similar was a current description of a vampire. During further research, I came across Sanguinarius, a web site for modern day vampires.

The information is fascinating. Within the archives are articles like, Donor Courtesy, Aftercare for Donors and The Ethics of Psi-Vampirism. All genuine articles for the modern day vampire. Some of the information, I suspect, has been taken from Wicca and blended into the Vampire mythos to make it more acceptable.

So now, I've got articles to read and information to absorb. I'm thinking it's going to lend an air of authenticity to my work with the books. Yay!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's been a big weekend for family - that is, they're here.

I don't care what anyone says, I cannot write/edit with children looking over my shoulder, demanding "what'cha ya doin'?" I get resentful if I'm only checking my e-mail. I think it's to do with the uninvited invasion of my space. I love them all dearly, but sometimes....

Anyway, I did nufink. Tomorrow, I may be more fortunate given most have now gone home.

In more... odd... news, this week the Elvi descended. The what? I believe 'elvi' is the collective noun for a group of Elvis impersonators. Four hundred are currently whooping it up in Parkes, in central New South Wales. I can only imagine what the locals think!

Sadly, my record with the American Football continues with the defeat of Okalahoma, Tennessee and Carolina. What's up with that? How can I be wrong on so many occasions? With the next two games, I'm not going for any team, that way, I shan't be disappointed!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Here I am!

Yes, it's been a week since I posted. Between various family members and a trip to Canberra, little of my time has been my own. But I'm back now.

My rellos got a Wii and I couldn't resist playing it, although saying I won the boxing by knock out over a seven year old kind of weirds me out a little. But the little tyke beat me at tennis. Almost every game. What's up with that??? But I worked up a sweat. I have got to get me one!

It's also been stinkin' hot; the kind of heat where you just don't want to move or you'll be swimming in your own sweat. Yes, I live near the beach, but no, I don't go near it or the sun - not since I had a skin cancer removed and not since the water off the coast is cleaner than it has been in years that the sharks are moving closer to shore. Nup. No. Way. I'm happy not to move thanks ever so much. Where's that chocolate?

Next week, I genuinely hope to be back at the keyboard editing a book or two or three. It's got to be done and I've spent enough time wallowing in holiday cheer and family. Time to move on with the yearly plan.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


For the past week, I've been enjoying the College football Bowls. I've no idea why they are called 'bowls', I just like watching them (and let's not mention the Dallas Cowboys ever again!)

It's a good thing I don't bet on the games, every single team I've been going for has lost. Every. Damn. One. Even when I changed allegiance. So I'm not going to mention who I'll be cheering in tomorrow's Rose Bowl. I have no wish to be responsible for the weepin' an' awailing of millions.

The whole situation reminds me of when I was first visiting the U.S. with my sister. The team of every city we went to, lost. Including the Washington Redskins who were 10-0 before we turned up! Man... we kept that record to ourselves! And said nothing when we arrived in Atlanta during the last game of the baseball world series...

I don't know what the fascination is with the game, I truly don't. Every year, I take a day off to watch the Super Bowl. I have my popcorn and soft drink and hot dogs, and the game is on mid-morning here. Most people I know are bored with it, especially the constant breaks. Two hours or more to play a game that's really only an hour long? What's up with that?

Anyway, tomorrow the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl are being televised, so good luck to... all teams! There, now the weeping won't be my fault.