Sunday, December 23, 2012

Your Christmas baking

Well, we're still here. Good thing I'd already bought the Christmas presents. Anyone know when the next apocalypse is supposed to arrive? Just so I can prepare myself...

It felt like I'd discovered a black hole - at least with the internet access. All I can think of is that the heat and onshore breeze is messin' with the wireless signal. Morning access is fine, but once the wind comes in off the Bay, reception turns very dodgy indeed. It may get worse given the storm and strong wind warnings we've got for the next couple of days.

Your next Christmas... amusement:

Holiday Fruitcake Recipe

1 C Water
1 C Sugar
4 Large eggs
3 C dried fruit
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 C Brown sugar
Lemon juice, nuts
1 FULL bottle of your favorite whiskey

Sample the whiskey to check for quality.
Take out a large bowl.
Check the whiskey again to be sure that it is of the highest quality.
Pour 1 level cup and drink. Repeat.
Turn on the electric mixer; beat 1 C of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
Add 1 tsp. sugar and beat again.
Make sure the whiskey is still OK.
Try another cup. Turn off the mixer.
Break two geggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
Mix on the burner.
If the fried fruit gets stuck in the beaters, pry it loose with a screwdriver.
Sample the whiskey to check for toxisisticity.
Next, sift 2 cups of salt.
Or something. Who cares? Check the whiskey.
Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
Add one tablespoon of sugar or something...whatever you can find.
Grease the oven. Turn on the cake tin to 350 degrees.
Don't forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out of the window.
Check the whiskey again. Go to bed.
Who the hell likes fruit cake anyway???

Friday, December 21, 2012

The End is... sigh

Today's the day, so what's the world saying about it?

"And now The Mayan Channel forecast. Thursday: cloudy, chance of showers, high 39. Friday: volcanoes, asteroid strikes, apocalypse." –David Letterman


Certain people are already set with their explanations:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Take a Taxi

This would be a community service announcement, but...

Hi family and friends!

With Christmas celebrations upon us, I would like to share a personal experience with my friends about drinking and driving.

As you may know some of us have been known to have brushes with the authorities from time to time on the way home after a "social session" out with friends. Well, two days ago I was out for an evening with friends and had several cocktails followed by some rather nice red wine.

Feeling jolly, I still had the sense to know that I may be slightly over the limit. That's when I did something that I've never done before - I took a cab home.

Sure enough on the way home there was a police road block but since it was a cab they waved it past. I arrived home safely without incident.

This was a real surprise as I had never driven a cab before, I don't know where I got it and now that it's in my garage I don't know what to do with it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Pearly Gates at Christmas

We had our office Christmas party today.... 'nuff said.

Number... something or other; how can you expect me to remember after the day I've had? Okay, the afternoon, but I still managed to get some audio editing in. It's amazing what you can make people say with a few judicious cuts of the file and pasting it where it shouldn't be. I wonder if I posted it to our intranet or not... Anyway. Three days to go until the End Of The Werld!!!
Three men die in a car accident Christmas Eve. They all find themselves at the pearly gates waiting to enter Heaven. On entering they must present something "Christmassy".
The first man searches his pocket, and finds some Mistletoe, so he is allowed in.
The second man presents a cracker, so he is also allowed in.
The third man pulls out a pair of panties.
Confused at this last gesture, St. Peter asks, "How do these represent Christmas?"
The third man answered "They're Carol's."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Technical Night Before Christmas

I found this one earlier on in the year - of course too late to post for last Christmas. As a writer and journalist, I find this hilarious, although you have to be patient and remember the original. I also think someone had wa-ay too much time on their hands...

Number six:

'Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including that species of domestic rodent known as Mus musculus.

Hosiery was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the wood burning caloric apparatus, pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an imminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose folkloric appellations is the honorific title of St. Nicholas.

The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective accommodations of repose, were experiencing subconscious visual hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically through their cerebrums.

My conjugal partner and I, attired in our nocturnal head coverings, were about to take slumberous advantage of the hibernal darkness when upon the avenaceous exterior portion of the grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose of ascertaining the precise source thereof.

Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing this fenestration, nothing thereupon that the lunar brilliance without, reflected as it was on the surface of a recent crystalline precipitation, might be said rival that of the solar meridian itself - thus permitting my incredulous optical sensory organs to behold a miniature airborne runnered conveyance drawn by eight diminutive specimens of the genus Rangifer, piloted by a miniscule, aged chauffeur so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent to me that he was indeed our anticipated caller.

With his ungulate motive power travelling at what may possibly have been more vertiginous velocity than patriotic alarm predators, he vociferated loudly, expelled breath musically through contracted labia, and addressed each of the octet by his or her respective cognomen - "Now Dasher, now Dancer..." et al. - guiding them to the uppermost level of our abode, through which structure I could readily distinguish the concatenations of each of the 32 cloven pedal extremities.

As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was performing a 180-degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved - with utmost celerity and via a downward leap - entry by wary of the smoke passage.

He was clad entirely in animal pelts soiled by the ebony residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had accumulated on the walls thereof. His resemblance to a street vendor I attributed largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he bore dorsally in a commodious cloth receptacle.

His orbs were scintillant with reflected luminosity, while his sub-maxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging amiability. The capillaries of his malar regions and nasal appurtenance were engorged with blood which suffused the subcutaneous layers, the former approximating the coloration of Albion's floral emblem, the latter that of the Prunus avium, or sweet cherry.

His amusing sub- and supra-labials resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and their ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like small, tabular and columnar crystals of frozen water. Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smoking piece whose grey fumes forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were suggestive of a decorative seasonal circlet of holly.

His visage was wider than it was high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal region undulated in the manner of impectinated fruit syrup in a hemispherical container.

He was, in short, neither more nor less than an obese, jocund, multigenarian gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me visibly frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being. By rapidly lowering and than elevating one eyelid and rotating his head slightly to one side, he indicated that trepidation on my part was groundless.

Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the aforementioned appended hosiery with various of the aforementioned articles of merchandise extracted from the aforementioned previously dorsally transported cloth receptacle. Upon completion of this task, he executed an abrupt about-face, placed a single manual digit in lateral juxtaposition to his olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a gesture of leave-taking, and forthwith effected his egress by renegotiating (in reverse) the smoke passage.

 He then propelled himself in a short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds of burden, and proceeded to soar aloft in a movement hitherto observable chiefly among the seed-bearing portions of a common weed. But I overheard his parting exclamation, audible immediately prior to his vehiculation beyond the limits of visibility: "Ecstatic Yuletide to the planetary constituency, and to that self same assemblage, my sincerest wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and dawn.”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The... Politically Correct Christmas

Or how to suck the fun out of Christmas... and have a suitable moral at the end.

Number Five

'Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck...
How to live in a world that's politically correct?

His workers no longer would answer to "Elves,"
 "Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.

And labor conditions at the north pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.

Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
 Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.

And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.

So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.

And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their roof-tops.

Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.
His fur-trimmed red suit was called "Unenlightened."

And to show you the strangeness of life's ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose

And had gone on Geraldo, in front of the nation,
Demanding millions in over-due compensation.

So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she'd enough of this life,

Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.

And as for the gifts, why, he'd ne'er had a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.

Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.

Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.

Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.

Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that's war-like or non-pacific.

No candy or sweets...they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.

And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.

For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.

No baseball, no football...someone could get hurt;
Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.

Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passe;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.

So Santa just stood there, disheveled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.

He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,
But you've got to be careful with that word today.

His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.

Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.

A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;

Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere...even you.

So here is that gift, its price beyond worth...
"May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth."

 (c) Harvey Ehrlich, 1992

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jingle Bells - The Ozzie Way

It gets hot here, damn hot. So while the northern hemisphere freezes during the Christmas season, we down in the southern hemisphere are lazing by the pool or at the beach trying to cool off.

Needless to say 'dashing through the snow' brings the occasional lip curl from we Aussies.

Australians being Australians, we came up with our own version of 'Jingle Bells':

Dashing through the bush in a rusty Holden ute,
Kicking up the dust, Esky in the boot,
Kelpie by my side, singing Christmas songs,
It's summer time and I am in my singlet, shorts and thongs.

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer's day,
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a dusty Holden ute.

Engine's getting hot, we dodge the kangaroos,
The swaggie climbs aboard, he is welcome too.
All the family is there, sitting by the pool,
Christmas day in the Aussie way, by the Bar-b-cue. Oh!

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer's day,
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a dusty Holden ute.

Come the afternoon grandpa has a doze,
The kids and Uncle Bruce are swimming in their clothes,
The time comes round to go, we take a family snap,
And pack the car and all shoot through Before the washing up. Oh!

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer's day,
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a dusty Holden ute.

Santa's Replacement: Bubba Claus

Here's a question: if the Mayan calendar ends on the 21st December, does that mean the apocalypse will start at the International Date Line and work it's way around the world or is this a simple mass extinction event and it will be the 22nd for some of us as the clock runs out in Maya-land?

Huh. And why am I spending buckets of money on prezzos if we're doomed?

Number Three:

To: Southern USA Residents
From: Santa
RE: Replacement Santa

I regret to inform you that effective immediately, I will no longer be able to serve the Southern United States on Christmas Eve. Due to overwhelming current population of the earth, my contract was renegotiated by North American Fairies and Elves Local 209. I now serve only certain areas of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. As part of the new and better contract I also get longer breaks for milk and cookies so keep that in mind. However, I'm certain that your children will be in good hands with your local replacement who happens to be my third cousin, Bubba Claus. His side of the family in from the South pole. He shares my goal of delivering toys to all the good boys and girls; however, there are a few differences between us. Differences such as:

1. There is no danger of a Grinch stealing your presents from Bubba Claus. He has a gun rack on his sleigh and a bumper sticker that reads: "These toys insured by Smith & Wesson."

2. Instead of milk and cookies, Bubba Claus prefers that children leave a RC Cola and pork rinds (or a moon pie) on the fireplace. And Bubba doesn't smoke a pipe. He dips a little snuff though, so please have an empty spit can handy.

3. Bubba Claus' sleigh is pulled by floppy-eared, flyin' coon dogs instead of reindeer. I made the mistake of loaning him a couple of my reindeer one time, and Blitzen's head now overlooks Bubba's fireplace.

4. You won't hear "On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen..." when Bubba Claus arrives. Instead you'll hear, "On Earnhardt, on Wallace, on Martin and LaBonte. On Rudd, on Jarrett, on Elliot and Petty."

 5. "Ho, ho, ho!" has been replaced by "Yee Haw!" And you also are likely to hear Bubba's elves reply, "I her'd dat!"

 6. As required by Southern highway laws, Bubba Claus' sleigh does have a Yosemite Sam safety triangle on the back with the words, "Back Off!" The last I heard it also had other decorations on the sleigh back as well. One is Ford or Chevy logo with lights that race through the letters and the other is a caricature of me (Santa Claus) peeing on the Tooth Fairy.

7. The usual Christmas movie classics such as "Miracle on 34th Street" and "It's a Wonderful Life" will not be shown in your negotiated viewing area. Instead, you will see "Boss Hogg Saves Christmas" and "Smokey and the Bandit IV" featuring Burt Reynolds as Bubba Claus and dozens of State Patrol cars crashing into each other.

8. Bubba Claus doesn't wear a belt. If I were you, I'd make sure you, the wife, and the kids turn the other way when he bends over to put presents under the tree.

9. And finally, lovely Christmas songs have been sung about me like "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" and Bing Crosby's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". This year, songs about Bubba Claus will be played on all the AM radio stations in the South. These song titles will be Mark Chesnutt's "Bubba Claus shot the jukebox"; Cledus T. Judd's, "All I want for Christmas is my Woman and a Six-pack", and Hank Williams Jr's "If You Don't Like Bubba Claus,You Shove It."

Sincerely Yours,
Santa Claus (Member of North American Fairies and Elves Local 209)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Corporate Memo

One day closer to Christmas... or the Apocalypse. So here's number two:

To: All Staff Date:
December 1
Subject: New "Twelve Days of Christmas" Policy

The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole.

Streamlining is due to the North Pole's loss of dominance in the season's gift distribution business. Home Shopping TV channels and mail order catalogues have diminished Santa's market share. He and the Board could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through purchase of a late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer, who summered at the Harvard Business School, is anticipated. Reduction in the reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has received unfavorable press (gas and solid waste).

We're pleased to inform you that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole!

Management denies, in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose get red, not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time of the year when they are known to be under 'executive tress'.

As for further restructuring, today's global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" music subsidiary:

1) The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree, which never produced the cash crop forecasted, will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance;

2) Two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are, therefore, eliminated;

3) The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French;

4) The four calling birds will be replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked;

5) The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals, as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks, appear to be in order;

6) The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day was an example of the general decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that, from now on, every goose it gets will be a good one;

7) The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes, thereby enhancing their outplacement;

8) As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching;

9) Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps;

10) Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords, plus the expense of international air travel, prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressmen. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant as we expect an oversupply of unemployed congressmen this year;

11) Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms, will produce savings which will drop right to the bottom line;

Overall we can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and related expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.

Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney's association seeking expansion to include the legal profession ("thirteen lawyers-a-suing"), a decision is pending.

 Deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to remain competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the right number.

 Happy Holidays all!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 12 12 and 12

It's twelve, twelve, twelve with twelve days to Christmas Eve.

So, since I've finished my Christmas shopping, twelve... written pieces shall I post, one every day. (Unless, of course, we all die in an apocalyptic inferno on 21 December, in which case, I probably won't be posting the rest.)

Number One:

The Unknown Reindeer

The game show contestant was only 200 points behind the leader and about to answer the final question - worth 500 points!

 "To be today's champion," the show's smiling host intoned, "name two of Santa's reindeer."

The contestant, a man in his early thirties, gave a sigh of relief, gratified that he had drawn such an easy question. "Rudolph!" he said confidently, "and, ...Olive!"

The studio audience started to applaud (like the little sign above their heads said to do,) but the clapping quickly faded into mumbling, and the confused host replied, "Yes, we'll accept Rudolph, but could you please explain... 'Olive?!?'"

 "You know," the man circled his hand forward impatiently and began to sing, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glowed. *Olive,* the other reindeer..."

Saturday, November 03, 2012


Some interesting sites for those taking up the challenge of Nano:

Nano Bootcamp

The Only Writing Rules you'll ever need

I'm sure there'll be more, but I'm werking here!

Tempus Fugit

How is it that this year is passing in a blur?

I seem to be dashing from one thing to another, trying to accomplish stuff that needs to be done. (I blame working in an office in an environment where budget cuts have been extreme. Let me just say that the department I work for should not be used by the government as an ATM when they want to fulfill a lunatic promise. I was not employed to do the work of two and a half people; my own job keeps me occupied for long enough thank you.)

Okay, political bit finished.

It is day three of Nano. The first two days have been a struggle. Actually finding time to write has been near impossible, and midnight? Pfft! The damn day turned over and cut me off from finishing that day's word count.

Fortunately, it is now the weekend and I went off to a write-in, the first I've ever been to. I'm not saying it wasn't fun, but was interesting.

(Note: to certain people - bathing is not an option, it's essential when interacting with a reasonably large group squashed into a cafe. I'm just saying.)

So. I arrived rather cranky because of all the stuff I had to do, all the interruptions. Writers, it should also be noted, do not like real life interfering in the creative process - and November is when we are short on patience and long on frustration.

I guess I'm off to a reasonable start. I've caught up on the two days of miserable performance and a good shot of Sarah Brightman has soothed the inner Snarly.

Time for more words.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Deja Vu all over again

Nano is looming large on the horizon and so is a feeling of deja vu.

I'm set to move house again... in November, just like last year. Seems the landlady isn't above raising an already high rent even higher. It's a game I'm not willing to play. The place was empty for about nine months when I moved in, it can be empty again for equally as long for all I care.

Of course, the annoyance is finding new digs and then shifting the parent again. I really, really don't need the stress but life has a way of throwing curve balls when you least expect it.

What's interesting is the fear that this year, I'll not be able to complete Nano. I am time poor. The new job doesn't allow for any goofing off, the internet at work is restricted - no private email and no forums - and no personal computers allowed. With the current... budget constraints, there is a staffing freeze on, so my colleague who left last month isn't going to be replaced. That leaves two of us to do the work of three at a professional level and me to still deal with the admin work. The learning curve is steep, regardless of how much I enjoy the work.

As a challenge, 2012 Nano is right up there. I have no ideas, not even hints, bubbling away. There is nothing - which is new for me - in the ideas cache. Zip. Nada. Zero. It's as if the Universe is saying 'not this time, you have other business'. Or it's presenting a challenge, testing my resolve to be a writer.

I recall way back when I first did Nano that I had nothing right up until the 1st of November. What came out in December was the first draft of the Huntress series, on which I'm still working - or trying. For all my good intentions on getting writing/editing stuff done, nothing has been accomplished since May.

As I said previously, work and parental care take up nearly all my time.

But I'm not giving up writing. Regardless of what's going on in real life now, writing is what I love doing. Having people read what I write is gravy: rich, thick, flavoursome gravy.

So. Nano. I have my eye on you. Meet me halfway or I'll you down.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Still around

It's hard to believe it's been months since I wrote a blog; five months of online silence.

Not because I decided to ignore the blog, but because I've simply been that busy. Real life suddenly blotted out everything else. I am ten months into a new, full-time job in addition to caring for the parent, so I'm time poor.

Something had to give and in the end, it was writing.

Yes, I managed the Forward Motion Story-a-day Marathon, but the work left a lot to be desired and I finished very much disappointed in myself.

From Friday, I'm on leave. Yay! For two, glorious weeks. Bigger YAY! And it's going to be busy... ish.

First up is Conflux, the local sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction festival. Paranormal romance writer, Keri Arthur is the guest of honour.

On Monday, I'm heading down the coast. Walks along the beach, basking in sunshine after a long Canberra winter, the making of the yearly Hypocras batch for Christmas. Just... relaxing... with the parent.

Still, I'll be editing. I'll be considering what to write for Nano, maybe read a book or three.

I miss the words. I miss creating stories and worlds and characters and conflicts. I miss reading stories, nutting out the who-dunnits, cheering the good guys, imagining the landscapes, feeling justified at the villain's comeuppance. I miss it all.

Trying to find a work/life balance is nigh impossible at the moment and writing has taken a back seat. Eventually, I'll find that balance and return to the words. As a writer, the words will come out anyway. With Nano, at least I can manage the 'when' if not the 'what'.

So. I may not have time to post daily, or weekly, but I'm going to use the lure of Nano to provide impetus to practice, to think and to post when I can.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lest We Forget

 They were sons, husbands, fathers, uncles.

They went for glory, for adventure, for duty, to escape.

They found stinking death, swarms of flies, thick, cloying mud, greasy filth, rampant disease, lakes of blood and a four year nightmare of horror.

Through scorching heat, frigid cold and torrential rain, they fought against the Turks, the Germans and British incompetence.

And when it was done, they came home, forever changed and chose not to speak of it - heroes, every one of them.

On this day, we commemorate the 97th Anniversary of the Landing at Gallipoli and the eight-month long campaign. We also commemorate the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in all wars.

On this day, I think of my paternal grandfather fighting at Passchendaele, of my great uncle, severely wounded rowing British soldiers ashore at Gallipoli, of my maternal grandfather, not yet twenty, losing his leg - and of his brothers, none of whom came home uninjured. But return they did, scarred in body if not in mind.

And then, the next generation found themselves called to arms to once again fight against the tyranny and arrogance of Germany.

Korea soon followed the end of the Second World War, and then Malaya and Vietnam. Iraq, too.

Now, we're involved in Afghanistan, but soon to come home.

For more than a century, our armed services have bravely done their duty, no matter the odds or orders. Australia's fighting forces have earned the respect of all other armies by doing, not just sayin'.

Today I thank all those for their sacrifice, I thank them for the courage to do what I cannot. And I raise a glass to them.

I will not forget.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rue Britannica

After 244 years, the 32 volume Encyclopedia Britannica is ending - at least, in print form.

Content is now shifting to the online environment. Not everyone can afford 32 volumes ($1490 per set) of hardbacks!

"I understand that for some the end of the Britannica print set may be perceived as an unwelcomed goodbye to a dear, reliable, and trustworthy friend that brought them the joy of discovery in the quest for knowledge." Jorge Cauz, the president of Encyclopaedia Britannica, said.

"In fact, today our digital database is much larger than what we can fit in the print set. And it is up to date because we can revise it within minutes anytime we need to, and we do it many times each day."

"In spite of our long history with print, I would like to point out that no single medium, neither books nor bits, is at the core of our mission," he wrote.

"That mission is to be a reliable, up-to-date, and scholarly source of knowledge and learning for the general public, and I believe that 200 years from now, this mission will continue to be vital and relevant and that the people of the future who are committed to it will use the best available technology to fulfil it."

It is indicative of the times we live in that such a revered volume has shifted its focus to keep up with fast technological changes and demand for instant accessibility to information. The modern generation has no time to open a book and search for required information, it poses a question and expects an answer.

I'm a little saddened, but understand the need for Britannica to keep current and the need for information accessibility.

I can still look up Britannica Online for information, and find myself happily digressing into tangential topics.

So, for Britannica, it is not the end, merely the beginning of a new and exciting future. One that will become an even larger repository of information than the print version.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Release... the snuggie

Here it is, the last day of Summer and I'm breaking out the Snuggie. It's a leopard print and I'm not ashamed to use it - in the privacy of my own home, of course.

It's raining and there's more coming, including flood warnings. Nothing I can do about that except watch the wet stuff come down. Queensland is still trying to dry out and the Outback is getting a soaking - that's La Nina for you: wet one day, damp the next.

Still no writing done... yes, okay, I have a new cable channel to watch which has The Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels and Justified; then there's Fringe, Alphas, Sanctuary and Warehouse 13 - so much stuff. And the TBR pile isn't shrinking at all.

I need to prioritise, get organised, carve out some time (somewhere) to curl up in my favourite chair, put some mellow music on, grab some chocolate and a glass o' vino and just... read.

And since it's going to rain this weekend, me and the snuggie are going to get comfortable. All I need do, is pick an author.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Year of Reading

This week saw the launch of the National Year of Reading. 

According to the website, "Nearly half the population struggles without the literacy skills to meet the most basic demands of everyday life and work. There are 46% of Australians who can't read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle." On the face of it, 46 per cent is a staggering number for a sophisticated Western Democracy, until you consider the migrant population.

Government, libraries, media, bookstores, schools and community groups are banding together for events to encourage children to read, and to share their passion for the written word.

Australian author, P.D. Martin blogs about it over on Murderati

The Australian Women Writers website has a twelve month reading and reviewing  challenge

Elizabeth Lhuede steps into controversy on gender bias in the decision-making process of Love2Read's (host of the NYR) "Our Story"shortlist.

Mrs Mac's Library  has a list of events and ideas.

And then there's this: The Joy of Books, an animated sequence on You Tube - a lot of work and a lovely ending.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Not so Patriotic

Sigh. I was so hoping the New England Patriots would stop fooling around and win the Super Bowl. Apparently not.

I feel for Wes Welker missing that catch, but... the Patriots had plenty of opportunities. One missed play by one player does not a loss make. It's a team sport. And I will admit - grudgingly - that the Giants worked hard for the win. (Scuffs foot.)

Okay. I really don't like the New York Giants; they keep knocking my Cowboys around.

In the end, it was the last football game for a while and I'm going to miss it. September is a long way off.

Still, I have the cricket and the rugby union isn't far off; but cricket will soon end.

Guess I'll be off to write for the Winter; and I'm all for that.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Dazed and confused and out of sorts

And here it is, February already.

A month has passed since my last post but it doesn't seem that long. I suspect it has something to do with working (long hours in a secured location on secure things, so I have no real internet access) and trying to get the house and parent in order. I've succeeded with the latter, but not necessarily the former.

It's been a long time since I've worked in a scheduled environment - meaning, every duty is required and has a short deadline, as in by the end of the day; no slacking off here.

Writing fiction - for me - is a butt in the chair and write, or research, or edit; that's it. I don't need benchmarking, or report status, or a number of other things I can't talk about. (Which is weird, since I'm working in a public affairs area.)

I'm looking at this time of turmoil - and it is when you're yanked out of a nice, safe, comfortable environment - as a break from all things writing and reading. I doubt I'll be back at it until March.

It could be sooner, given the story ideas floating around, rather than the lists of things to do. Some days, it feels like a day off to do something... that doesn't involve others and their needs, seems like a long way off. Obligations come first.

It's not all bad: I heard a small child today, in the book section of a department store. He sighed heavily, and then said: "Mum, I so need a book!"

Made me smile and my world settled down a little bit more.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Bran Nu Yeer

I think I've finally got everything sorted in the new abode, and the internet connection seems to have settled down to a more than irregular service - although I'm guessing that is subject to change with whatever conditions causes the wi-fi to drop out! And I can say it's pretty annoying when trying to post something or check the e-mail.

The new job is going well, too, but it can be tiring focusing on Defence matters all day, even if some of it is historical research. Not that I can say anymore than that (shhh, it's a secret!) And because it's a restricted area, I can no longer access all the websites I like to visit. That all has to wait until I'm home.

Already, I miss the cool sea breezes that blew in the afternoons. I'd forgotten that Canberra can be nastily hot and dry, with no breeze to speak of until well after sunset. Of course, Canberra also becomes bitterly cold in Winter, so we get to see the changes of the seasons in a more dynamic way.

We now have air-conditioning, but for a while there... I suspect the place doesn't have insulation, which is going to make winter interesting.

We're also waiting patiently for the cable service to be connected. The free-to-air viewing... sucks. It's awful, which gives me plenty of time to rummage around in the files for stuff to edit, yes, and there are books to read.

Last year was... difficult, with the parent's illness and everything surrounding her care. I didn't read or write nearly as much as I would have liked. Still, change happens and you can either accept it or accept it. There's no point in ignoring it or railing against it.

I think this year will be a much different adventure; I will have to find a new balance between paid work and writing. I know what I want, but achieving it will take determination so it's a good thing I love what I do.