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Category: Ramble (Page 1 of 42)

black and white cat

Week 29: Too much, too soon

(July 16 – July 22)

It’s back to school for the Kinderbesten this week, which means back to the school routine for me. Namely: getting the beasts ready in the morning; making lunches in the evening; and enforcing a reasonable bedtime.

In the end, it turned out that I was so worried about mornings becoming hell again that I massively overcompensated. Lunches were made, clothes laid out, breakfast things left ready the night before. Consequently, we were a full ten minutes early to school on the first day. This over-efficiency mostly continued through the week too (helped, I have to say, by the Kinderbesten being pretty damn good at getting ready).

It made me realise that being too organised, that following a routine too aggressively, had partly de-anchored me from that very routine. Sure, we were all ready on time, which was a pretty big success—but we also ended up with a big chunk of time spent standing around in the cold waiting for school to open. Being too early for something is still, technically, poor scheduling.

Watching

After a few lengthy hiatuses, the Elderbeast and I finished watching Lost In Space (the new Netflix version) on Monday. It was really good and I’m definitely ready for more. I enjoyed that the show introduced a compelling family dynamic while avoiding the now-cliched dysfunctional family route: the Robinsons in this version are a highly functional family, albeit one with a few wounds to heal. Equally, giving both the robot and Doctor Smith a new spin allowed the writers an extra few layers of intrigue and threat, while including a number of other colonists gave this first series a much broader canvas series to play out against.

Of course, the downside of finishing (and enjoying) a series is that I, typically, haven’t felt like starting anything else new (TV-wise) this week. So I didn’t.

For Friday Horror this week we watched Train To Busan, which was astonishingly good. A zombie movie with all the thrills and a whole bunch of emotions thrown in for good measure. It reminded me at times of the classic 1970s disaster movies, particularly The Cassandra Crossing, but also struck me how well it could work as a 28 Days Later prequel. It’s a tad slow to get going, but once it gets down to business it’s truly relentless and doesn’t stop to give you a break until a closing scene that will have you weeping gently into whatever snack or beverage you’ve chosen to accompany the movie with.

Later in the weekend I continued my Dirty Harry marathon with the third instalment: The Enforcer (a.k.a The One With The Hippy Terrorists). It’s a perfectly decent movie, but definitely began to feel less like a Dirty Harry movie than the first two.

I was struck by two things on this viewing. Firstly, how much like a late seventies TV production it looks. Watching this film is almost like settling down for an episode of The A Team, obviously with added violence, gore, language, etc. I know we’re at a point now where TV and movie production values can pretty much pass for each other, but when I was growing up there was typically a much more profound difference: you only need compare the original Battlestar Galactica TV series and, say, The Empire Strikes Back to see it.

The second thing—which probably should have struck me years ago—occurred as I was once again trying to rationalise my appreciation for the Dirty Harry movies, their obvious right wing politics, and the softening of Harry Callahan’s character through these first three instalments. I realised that Eastwood almost always plays the outsider in his movies: a renegade (Dirty Harry); a rebel on the wrong side of a corrupt system (The Outlaw Josey Wales); a near-mythical figure who exists on the fringes, or beyond, of conventional society (Unforgiven, High Plains Drifter). Even when he’s unambiguously the hero (In The Line Of Fire) he’s still presented as someone out of his time.

The potential message here is that, whoever or whatever the antagonist in these movies might be, the real enemy—the real ‘other’—is, in fact, the rest of the world.

Reading

I’m continuing to read From A Certain Point Of View, the book of Star Wars short stories. I’ve been progressing in fits and starts, so I’m still at the point of the narrative where the characters are in Mos Eisley (remember, this book plays around the outskirts of the plot for A New Hope; or Star Wars, if you’re a purist).

The standout tale for me this week has been a caper following four or five barely glimpsed aliens from the cantina scene. They may not have been given names in the movie, but a quick look at Wookiepedia reveals that they not only have names, but remarkably detailed backstories as well. And we should all take a moment to remember those who gave up their time so that this could come to pass.

Anyway, this particular tale brings several of these characters to rich life, and depicts how the events that transpired in the cantina that day—specifically those revolving around Luke, Ben and Han—end up having a huge impact on those lives. I’m a big fan of coincidence when used well as a narrative tool (think: the butterfly effect) so that’s probably why this one was a big winner for me.

I’ve also started listening to Redshirts, by John Scalzi, on Audible. It’s mostly a delight: the story is hilarious; the narration by Wil Wheaton is spot-on (especially the bits that are definitely not in Klingon because that’s probably trademarked). The only thing that lets it down (slightly) are scenes like the below:

“Bla bla bla,” character said.

“Bla bla bla,” other character said.

“Bla bla bla,” character said.

“Bla bla bla,” other character said.

Basically there’s an excess of dialogue tags. Now, every bit of writing advice you’ll ever read will tell you to only use ‘said’ or ‘asked’ when writing speech because it’s distracting to the reader if you get too creative with that sort of thing. While reading, your brain is programmed to automatically skip through dialogue tags (which is why it becomes distracting if a writer does something different). However, the audio version really highlights the repetition because your brain can’t ignore the rhythm and repetition of spoken words quite so easily. It’s only a couple of scenes, but it’s almost comedic when it happens and I have to wonder how Wheaton managed it without rolling his eyes.

(Funnily enough, a short while after this, I saw John Scalzi tweeting about much the same thing. Turns out several of his novels were released before audiobooks became a big thing in his career. It was only after listening to the audio versions that he realised how jarring it could be, and now makes a conscious effort to write for listeners as much as for readers).

backyard toad

Week 28: Do Nothing

(July 9 – July 15)

This week slid settled naturally into the eternal conflict between doing nothing and the need to get things done. It began on Monday morning, as the week typically does, when I woke up with a thumping headache. It was so bad it pretty much forced me back into bed until the later afternoon.

Now, I normally like sick days—I like the excuse to sit on the sofa, wrap up warm, and allow myself to do nothing. This, however, was not one of those sick days. This was one of those days when retreating to bed and attempting to sleep was the only answer. Naturally, I kept thinking of all the things I could have been getting done with a full day off work.

It’s the paradox of doing nothing: when we’re busy, we work towards the moment when we get to sit down and do nothing; when we have time to do nothing, we inevitably crave filling that time by doing things.

I had a peculiar echo of this later in the week: a day without meetings. This is always welcome: it’s a day where you finally have all the time you need to catch up on the things you’ve been too busy to do all week. Of course, you’re also faced with the mighty struggle against the inertia of not having to leave your desk and do something else in twenty minutes or so. It’s a challenge to structure your work around days that have no structure, and to maintain motivation when movement is at a minimal.

Watching

I finished the very excellent Killing Eve this week, which presented me with the dilemma of what to watch next. After much consideration, I eventually decided on: nothing. This was after continuing to be underwhelmed by a second episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. It’s weird: an eccentric, alt-history period tale about magic in Victorian times produced by the BBC is something I should love, but I’ve watched the first two episodes now and it just isn’t working for me. Oh well.

Over the weekend I had an urge to revisit the Dirty Harry films. I found enough time in my schedule to watch Dirty Harry (a.k.a The One With Dirty Harry) and Magnum Force (a.k.a The One With The Vigilante Cops; or The One With David Soul if you prefer; or The One With Starsky Or Hutch, I Can Never Remember Which, if you’re like me and can’t be bothered to use IMDB). I remember both films fondly from my formative years, and totally enjoyed revisiting both.

It did strike me, however, that these are both very right-wing movies, which is not something I would normally enjoy, and yet I don’t find them objectionable. I think it’s because the first movie, at least, posits such extremes (a terrifyingly insane serial killer, a ruthless cop, and a legal system that isn’t equipped to deal with either) that you really have very few qualms about siding with Harry. It’s a Spielbergian masterclass in audience manipulation. Of course, it also helps that the film is extremely well made and easily earns its Cinema Icon badge of merit.

The second movie, if anything, confuses matters even further by having a group of vigilante cops who could almost have been inspired by Harry’s actions in the first films. And yet, here we have Harry rejecting the judge, jury and executioner methodology and siding with the system—even though his solution, of course, is to kill off the bad guys rather than put them through that same legal system.

I shall have to catch up with The Enforcer (a.k.a The One With Cagney Or Lacey, I Can Never Remember Which) next week.

Reading

I was looking for an easy read this week and picked up From A Certain Point Of View, a collection of Star Wars short stories that caught my eye some months ago. I knew, going in, that it featured stories about various background characters from Star Wars (or A New Hope, if you want to be annoying). What I didn’t realise is that the stories also follow the chronology of that movie and gradually, piece by piece, fill in all the things that were happening just off-screen to characters that we glimpsed (or, in some cases, simply heard) throughout the movie. I’m mostly loving it so far, and the stories are just short enough that I keep falling into that “just one more” trap.

Yes. It’s a trap.

I also listened to another Audible freebie: The Despatcher, written by John Scalzi and read/performed by Zachary Quinto. It’s another damn good listen. Short enough and good enough that I wished it was longer once it was over!

fallen easel

Week 27: A break from the old routine

(July 2 – July 8)

It’s the second half of the year–already!–which means it’s time for a slight change of format on this blog. As usual, I haven’t quite decided what that new format will be yet, but my current plan for the rest of this year is to try and find one theme to focus on for each week. Or possibly to find a way of linking some disparate observation from my week into a single overarching narrative.

Or not.

Either way, if you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll already have a pretty good idea of the minutiae of my daily/weekly routine, so there’s no need keep on prattling about that any longer. Which brings me nicely to this week’s topic.

This is not only the middle of the year–and, most pertinently, the dawn of a bold new age on this blog–it is also the start of the school holidays. For many parents this brings a deep sigh of dread; heralding two weeks of having to find fresh ways to keep the kids entertained; two weeks of arranging and/or paying for daycare so you can continue going to work and pretending to be a productive member of society; two weeks of bored kids who have not had their energy reserves drained by a day at school.

For me, however, it means two weeks of not having to get three humans (including myself) out of the house to a strict deadline five days a week. It’s two weeks of not having to make lunches. It’s two weeks of waaaay less traffic on the roads. It’s two weeks in which I can take an extra half hour each morning to do writing if I want to.

It’s two weeks of awesome! Bring it!

Update: I’ve also, randomly, decided that each of my posts for the rest of the year shall be accompanied by an entirely context-free photo that I’ve taken during that week. For the first such example, see above.

Watching

This week I started watching Killing Eve, and loved it immediately—literally within the first two minutes. I’d been holding off watching it for a some time, mostly in case it didn’t prove to be as good as I was expecting. In the end it was every bit as wonderful as everyone had made out; way better, in fact, than I expected or even deserved it to be. A real treat.

The week was also capped off by a weekend of watching films with the Elderbeast, starting with Fridate horror (for which the Elderbeast was the guest of honour). This week we watched Final Destination 2 which was, if anything, even more fun than the first one. It had all the smarts of the first one, but with a knowing wink and a nod, and everything turned up to 11. Enormous fun.

On Saturday we watched Star Trek: Beyond. As I may have written previously, this was a movie that I had originally dismissed due to the marketing but am now thinking that it might be my favourite of the new Trek movies. It’s got the fun and action, it’s got the classic Star Trek values, and it’s kinda pissy that Paramount got themselves a perfectly good Trek film and then cocked up the marketing. Anyway …

On Sunday morning we went out to catch Ant Man And The Wasp, which was awesome and eminently delivered on the promise of the first movie. I’m already looking forward to the third entry.

Reading

I’m sort of in between books at the moment, having drifted away from Endurance (by Scott Kelly) after being irresponsibly distracted by Buffy Season 8 comics. I nearly started reading The Only Harmless Great Thing, the new novella by Bo Bolander (who wrote one of my favourite short stories of the last few years) but I opted at almost the last minute to continue with Buffy Season 8. Yes, I am weak. In my defence, I enjoyed the first half of season 8 so much that I decided it was best to continue riding that wave, safe in the knowledge that Bo would be waiting for me on the other side.

I’ve also been continuing an unplanned voyage of discovery into the world of audio books, thanks to a recent Audible promotion. My latest listen has been a dramatisation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses which, unbelievably, was absolutely free. It’s an abridged reading performed by the cast of a recent theatre adaptation and has immeasurably enlivened the drive to and from work over the course of this week. High point is absolutely Janet McTeer’s reading, dripping with haughty scorn as the deliciously wicked Madame de Merteuil (the role played by Glenn Close in the movie adaptation). I’m now keen to revisit the films (yes, films) all over again. Eventually …

Week 26: Halfway there!

(Jun 25 – Jul 1)

It’s midway through the year, and typically at this point I’d reflect on how the year has gone, what I’ve learned, where I am, why that drifter I’ve shut in the cupboard is still making gurgling noises, and so on. But, it’s been a fairly steady year so far. There have been some down weeks, but no terrible ones. Most of the time life has been pretty good. For now I’m content for things to just carry on as they have been, which is why this week’s diary is about a week just like any other.

Monday

It’s my TV night, but I can’t decide what to watch. I have many, many TV shows that I need to catch up on, but I can’t convince myself to start any of them. It comes down to a choice between A David Bowie doco on Netflix, or a rewatch of The Trip (since I enjoyed The Trip To Italy so much over the weekend).

I eventually settle for the Bowie doc, but it turns out to be pretty ordinary so I abandon it after 10 minutes and decide to watch The Trip instead. I endure frequent interruptions from the Kinderbesten, which are numbed somewhat by the particularly large glass of wine in my company (I had to finish off the bottle, you see). I finish the wine, but don’t end up finishing the movie.

Tuesday

I spend much time bidding on vintage ports on my New Favourite Auction website. I try out for one dated 1939, without much optimism, and also bid on a 1982 ‘vintage’. The idea of something from 1982 being vintage still tickles me, because 1982 definitely can’t be more than a few years ago. Right …?

My work done, and my fingers crossed, I retreat to bed to watch the rest of The Trip.

Wednesday

There is much rain today. So much rain. So very much. A real writer might even be inspired to write some words about the downpour.

In other news, with the end of term 2 approaching, the school reports arrive for the Kinderbesten. They’re much as I expect them to be. The Elderbeast doing competently, but not putting as much effort in as he should. The Kinderbeast doing well, but not listening as well as he should be. Much like at home, really.

Thursday

Tonight we had pie for dinner. It was a good night.

Friday

For the second Friday in a row I don’t open a bottle of wine. This is mostly because I’m out tomorrow night, and don’t want a fresh bottle of wine going to waste. But also because I didn’t actually mind not having wine last Friday, and I didn’t mind even more not waking up with a headache (only an occupational hazard, but still one worth avoiding). This is in danger of becoming a habit.

Saturday

As I’m heading out tonight, I decide to have a Day Of Doing Nothing (once I’ve gotten the food shopping out of the way). It’s a most excellent choice. I spend my time drinking coffee, eating waffles, watching a particularly long classic Doctor Who, and then head out.

Sunday

To make up for my previous Day Of Doing Nothing, today is a Day of Busy. One of the jobs hanging over me is reframing a few posters. While I’ve not felt the urge to put up any pictures on my recently painted walls, I do have some posters that either need to be put into frames, or need to be put into new frames. I work on three of them, and decide that’s enough for one day. I then get dinner in the slow cooker and do some baking ready for a colleague’s morning tea tomorrow.

Once that’s all done I finally decide I’ve earned some rest and settle on the sofa to watch Death Proof before the Kinderbesten return. It’s the final Tarantino movie I have left to watch in order to complete the set. It’s definitely not my favourite—it’s long-winded and takes too much time to get to the point (which seems to be a persistent Tarantino hallmark now) but it’s worth it for the last 15 minutes.

For the evening I get back into watching my ‘Netflix hidden gems’ (of which I will blog about shortly) and check out Orbiter 9. It’s not the movie I expected, but it’s a mostly rewarding watch.

Watched

Monday The Trip
Tuesday n/a
Wednesday n/a
Thursday n/a
Friday Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Saturday Doctor Who: Inferno
Sunday Death Proof
Orbiter 9

Read

A week or so ago I, a little indulgently, took advantage of a Comixology sale (as I often do) and bought a shedload of Buffy comics, including all of season 8 and 9. I read season 8 when it first came out, but revisiting it again this week has been a delight. I know the story goes a bit off the rails eventually, but I love how the wit and characterisation was captured perfectly in this first continuation of the series.

Eaten

Monday Freezer chicken & veg
Tuesday Cauliflower curry
Wednesday Lasagne
Thursday Pie and potatoes
Friday daal
Saturday Pizza
Sunday Roast Chicken

Week 25: Spring is in my step

(Jun 18 – Jun 24)

This week, in an effort to continue writing about mostly positive stuff, I will be writing about those things that put a spring in my step. This may be things I do every day, or every week, or it might just be something random that happened during my day to make that day shine a little brighter.

Monday

Monday is never the funnest day, but there are a few things that help me get out of bed. First is my ‘morning shift’, that bit of time I carve out for myself, in between getting up and getting ready, for my writing. Today I’m rewriting a story I wrote about a year ago, but could never quite get right. I’ve been editing it again of late and now have a good feeling about where it might have gone wrong, and how to fix it.

The next thing that gets me going is—surprise, surprise—coffee. We have an exceptionally good coffee vendor on campus. It’s about a five minute walk from the office, but the distance helps turn the mundane process of getting a coffee into something more of a pilgrimage. We typically walk down in a group and use the time to chat and catch up. It makes for very pleasant way to start the working day. Best part of all: it always ends with coffee.

Tuesday

Today I have no meetings. Not a single one. Not even a catch-up or one-on-one with my team. While my calendar isn’t typically booked out with meetings day to day, having absolutely no meetings at all is a rare occasion and absolutely one worth celebrating.

That said, it’s a slightly mixed benefit. No meetings means an entire day sitting at my desk with nothing to break up the trudgery except occasionally going to off to make a cup of tea, or going for a walk. On the other hand, no meetings at all is a rare enough break from the usual routine to be worth celebrating. And, as much as I appreciate routine, I appreciate even more the opportunities we get to break free of it.

In a slightly less fortunate, but unexpectedly comedic turn of personal ineptitude, I open up my lunch box later in the day to find … the Kinderbeast’s lunch waiting inside–a single vegemite sandwich and a baby bel. This is a shame as I was really looking forward to the leftover meatballs that I’d packed for myself, and which will now be going to waste in the Kinderbeast’s bag (along with a perfectly ripe avocado). I double check and, sure enough, have the correct lunchbox, I’ve just put the wrong food inside it.

Later, I find that I’ve engineered an even greater disaster than previously suspected. My lunch ended up in the Elderbeast’s lunchbox, while the Kinderbeast ended up with the Elderbeast’s lunch. Impressive. On the upside, the Elderbeast, albeit slightly baffled, did at least eat the avocado, while the Kinderbeast was far more amenable to eating the cheese and vegemite sandwich that he would have found in his own bag than the meatballs I thought I’d lumbered him with.

Wednesday

I wake up and the house is shrouded in fog. It’s awesome! Fog is perhaps my favourite weather phenomenon. Despite having had many fog warnings of late, it’s typically dissipated by the time I get up, let alone when I make it out of the house. This morning, however, the fog is persistent. I get a photo of the end of our road, everything white and hidden, then make time to stop at Bibra Lake on my way to work. The lake looks spectacular: the fog turns the trees into ghosts, and the lake into a scene out of a winter wonderland. My photos barely do it justice, but I’m glad I got to at least see it.

When I get home I have a long awaited package from Amazon awaiting me. It contains the fruits of the birthday voucher I got some months ago. It doesn’t contain actual fruit. It contains some UK release blu-rays of awesome films which are superior in every way to the Australian release equivalents, as well as some nicely priced Doctor Who DVDs to help bulk up my collection.

Thursday

So one of thing things I haven’t written much about is that I have a working oven again, which is hugely exciting. So far this week I’ve made a cottage pie and a cauliflower cheese, and have confirmed that the oven is behaving exactly as one would expect an oven to behave. It please me greatly to have access to these basic facilities (and, let’s not forget, these are privileges) of a domestic life.

Tonight I am using said oven to make chips, eggs and beans (only the chips are going into the oven). It’s my grandmother-in-law’s favourite dinner, and it’s a chance for me, in a way, to say thanks for everything she does for me and the boys each and every week.

Friday

It’s the first half of a double #chidlfree weekend—which is a complicated way of saying I’m #childfree both this weekend and next weekend. While I typically look forward to opening a fresh bottle of wine on a Friday night, I spend much of the day feeling headachy and potentially grim. I wonder if I’m finally coming down with one of the various diseases that has been afflicting the office. I start to feel better later in the afternoon, but I decide not to tempt fate and hold off on opening the wine, opting for tea instead. Which, of course, is the perfect accompaniment for tonight’s chosen viewing of Hellraiser.

Hellraiser is one of the blu-rays I recently bought from Amazon UK, partly because it’s a classic and came with an excellent selection of extras, but also largely because it has a lovely sleeve design. It’s a film I’d seen before, but until I rewatched it tonight I’d forgotten quite how many times I’d seen it. There were frequent lines, moments, even simple character actions that I was surprised to realise were seared into my memory. It’s another one of those films that I grew up on, but get to enjoy all over again decades later.

Saturday

I get up with a beautifully unfuzzy head (thanks, no wine) and head off to do the shopping. For the most part it’s a classic #childfree Saturday of cleaning, tidying, drinking coffee and watching classic Doctor Who. I’m also treated to a visit from a friend for the afternoon—we’ve been planning to complete our somewhat accidental, much delayed viewing of Kill Bill today with the long-awaited part 2. It proves to be every bit as good as part 1 and, once again, I could almost sit down and watch it all over again. We follow up our screening with some dinner, and I’m then left to my own devices with enough time to watch another film before bed. I opt, somewhat randomly, for The Trip To Italy (I loved it’s predecessor and had all but forgotten there was a follow up waiting to be watched). It proves an excellent end to an excellent day.

Sunday

It’s Pathfinder day, which is as much fun as usual, although our numbers are somewhat depleted—due to both real life absences and in-game death.

I realise as I go to bed that I’ve had a weekend completely free of headaches. They’re not a thing I have to endure often, but the combination of cold weather, heating, wine and late nights often means I’ll have a mild headache to tackle at some point over the weekend.

Watched

Monday Jonathan Strange 1×01
Tuesday n/a
Wednesday n/a
Thursday n/a
Friday Hellraiser
Saturday Doctor Who: Carnival Of Monsters
Kill Bill Volume 2
The Trip To Italy
Sunday Fahrenheit 451

Read

Still going with Endurance.

Eaten

Well, what can I say. Another week where I failed to take adequate note of my dinners. Gutted, right?

Week 24: Writing week

(Jun 11 – Jun 17)

One of the things I do almost every day–other than sleep, eat, drink coffee, and generally decide that this is a perfectly acceptable way to pass most days–is write. I get up almost every morning (I take Saturdays off) and write for around 30-45 minutes. I log my writing progress in these sessions (what I’ve been writing, how many words, etc), and have been doing so for the last few years. However, I’ve not done much writing about my writing in these diary posts, so this week I’ve decided to focus largely on my writing endeavours for the next seven days.

Monday

The Elderbeast climbs into my bed during the night and spends the rest of it sleeping blissfully, all while routinely kicking me in the back. As such I am barely in a fit state to get out of bed when the alarm goes off, much less to sit down and write. Nevertheless, I don’t like to start the day without writing something, so I take half an hour to catch up on my diary posts (which I am more or less keeping up with, but really need to dedicate some solid weekly blocks of time to if they’re going to ever make it onto the blog).

Later in the evening I make up for things a bit by attempting a read-through of the first few chapters of my sci-fi novella. I’ve been working on this one for a month or two now, and the story and tone are shaping up nicely. Where I want to get to now is having a fairly solid first few chapters, so I know exactly what I’m building the rest of the book onto.

The read-through turns into a line edit of the first couple of pages, which is no bad thing, but doesn’t progress me as far as I’d hoped. On the plus side, I’m keen to sit down tomorrow morning and carry on with the edit.

Tuesday

I wake up at 5am and lie awake for a bit. Or maybe I don’t. I tell myself I’ll get up early and get in some extra writing time if I’m still awake after half an hour. It doesn’t feel like I get any more sleep, but the next time I check my clock it’s 6:20–ten minutes before my alarm goes off.

I take the ten minutes, then dutifully get out of bed when the time comes. I start to write but am continually distracted by the Elderbeast playing Fortnite in the room next door. The game itself is silent, courtesy of headphones. Unfortunately, the Elderbeast’s mouth has no such protection.

I do get some decent writing in, but unsurprisingly my concentration falters throughout…

Wednesday

I wake up earlyish again, long before my alarm, but somehow still manage to get out at bed when the alarm eventually goes off. I manage a bumper editing session (over 1,000 words) which pleases me greatly. Still on the first chapter of the sci-fi novella. Might even have something readable before too much longer.

Thursday

I accidentally turn my alarm off instead of hitting snooze (I smart, me), and wake up half an hour later than planned. Nevertheless, I still manage to wrap up the edit of chapter one. Decent. Ish.

Friday

Writing progress today is steady, but not mind blowing. I begin a rewrite of the third chapter of the novella with a 762 word chunk edited before I have to get ready for work.

Saturday

Saturday is my regular day off. I’ve found that the daily writing becomes a burden when I do it Every Single Day, so I long ago decided that I would reserve Saturday for a lie in–or, at the very least, to have one day in the week where I didn’t have to force myself to get up early. However, in latter months, Saturday morning has become my preferred time for food shopping. I like to get in there as close to 9am as I can manage, before things get too busy.

And, while it may not be writing related, the rest of the day was pretty awesome. I had a friend come round for the afternoon with her dog, and the Kinderbesten had an absolute blast. As did I, if we’re being honest here. Then, I had totally another friend come over for the evening to eat burgers, drink whisky, and watch Aliens.

You don’t typically get a better Saturday than that.

Sunday

I did not write today either on account of being sociable (my friend from last night having slept over).

The rest of the day was, once again, pretty awesome. We had the opportunity to visit some friends at their very first market stall, selling homemade treats for pets. Naturally I took the opportunity to buy several bags of tasty goodness.

After that I took the Elderbeast to buy some soccer boots, which was mostly exciting because it’s cool to see him getting into something that isn’t Fortnite, but also because the shop was having a sale and we got a sweet discount on some boots that the Elderbeast was very happy with.

Then, later in the the afternoon, some (qualified electrician) friends came over to install my oven. Yes–I now, once more, have a fully functioning oven! And it is SHINY!

So, not much writing, but a top weekend otherwise.

Watched

You’ll observe that I’ve gotten out of the habit of watching things during the week. I do, however, have my other weekly traditions. Friday remains horror movie night. Saturday is, as often as possible, Awesome Movie Night. Meanwhile, Sunday is reserved for ‘hidden gems’; typically Netflix movies that have missed the cinema (or me, up until now) and have gotten good word of mouth across the internet. Tonight, by request of the Elderbeast, we enjoyed a repeat screening of Carrie Pilby.

Monday n/a
Tuesday n/a
Wednesday n/a
Thursday n/a
Friday Tales of Terror
Saturday Aliens
Sunday Carrie Pilby

Read

Still reading Endurance by Scott Kelly. And, yes, still enjoying it.

Eaten

This week I completely I failed at my note taking in this department, so now we’ll never know what I ate.

Week 23: tbc

Most weeks, when prepping these diaries, I jot down notes for each day and come back to them some days later and fill out the details. For some reason this week slipped under my radar during the last month and all I have now are the notes. I could, of course, fill out the details as best as I can remember, but I thought it would be more fun (i.e. easier) to post up the notes as they are and let you all use your imaginations…

(June 4 – June 10)

Counting down to the weekend. Another five day week.

Monday

Public Holiday. Rains incoming. Started watching Collateral, realising why I got out of the habit of Monday night TV (so many interruptions)

Tuesday

Overnight rain. Wake up loads. Morning tea. Die Hard / Jurassic Park book. New sim.

Wednesday

Up late, no writing. Early meeting. Elderbeast forgets his bag. Leave early. Cook burgers. Dishwasher and oven!

Thursday

Decent writing shift. Rain all day. Leave early. Trousers (not heater). Feeling flat.

Friday

Feeling much better. Bonus kids weekend. Kinderbeast playing excellently with Seb. Final Destination.

Saturday

Shopping, then list of task for Elderbeast. Setting up chicken coop. No Fortnite. Playing Destiny.

Sunday

Lazy morning of writing, then Gateways. Shoes left in the rain. Boost juice. Present for Emma. No coffee canisters. Elderbeast tidies his room, hoovers, helps with the kitchen, does wall chart. Plays Fortnite. Slow cooked chicken. Spectral.

Watched

Monday Collateral 1×01
Tuesday Collateral 1×02
Wednesday Collateral 1×03
Thursday Collateral 1×04
Friday Final Destination
Saturday Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
Sunday Spectral

Read

More Endurance.

Eaten

Monday Chicken soup
Tuesday Meat sauce
Wednesday Burgers
Thursday Beans
Friday Pasta & veg
Saturday Steak
Sunday Chicken

Week 22: Winter chill to warm the soul

(May 28 – Jun 3)

It’s the start of of winter which, absurdly coincides with me starting to feel a lot of better about things in general. Or, maybe, that was just due to my positive week last week. In lesser news, I manage to spend lots and lots of money.

Monday

It’s frikkin cold today. Truly, really, bastard cold.

In exciting developments, the chicken coop I ordered arrives. Appropriately, I cook the kinderbesten chicken fingers for dinner, but because I’m unused to frying (following the death of my oven) I burn them. Irony?

The first item in my week of mass spending is a Star Wars drone for the kinderbesten. The purchase is prompted by the kinderbesten trying (and failing) to get an old remote control car working. I reason that a drone would be a much more fun remote control toy. We go three ways on it and it’s heavily reduced (down to $47) so it ends up a relatively minor expense.

Later, The Elderbeast and I finish watching Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (the BBC series). It’s been a joy to be able to introduce him to this, and to see how much he’s enjoyed it too. One of the privileges of parenthood.

Tuesday

I’m distracted all day, and all evening by my foot, which feels like I’ve either dropped something heavy on it, or have kicked something solid with it. I have, incidentally, done neither.

I do manage to pick up the drone on the way home, which we play with later in the evening. It’s noisy, has hideous flashing lights, and flies like a bastard, but it’s undeniably cool. On its first flight, the Elderbeast promptly crashes it into the LEGO Tower Bridge far on the other side of the room. It tumbles down, crashing into a lamp along the way. I have a go at him for not taking due care then promptly crash the drone into the kitchen counter, knocking a bottle of water to the floor.

This will clearly take some practise.

In today’s purchase news, I finally order myself some chinos. The Ben Sherman shop have a sale on, with chinos down from $120 to $50. I reason that they must be decent trousers and take a punt. I’ve only been dithering over buying some chinos for about a year.

Wednesday

My foot appears to be better today. Which is good.

I start the day with a meeting, which means wearing a shirt. Because of this I am reminded that I need to buy myself some new shirts and make a mental note to keep an eye on the YD store for their next sale. I get home and—surprise, surprise—find out that they currently have a bunch of stuff on sale. I order three new shirts, with a another $80 added to this week’s bill.

Thursday

The Elderbeast claims to be sick and, for once, he genuinely looks sick. So he gets to have the day off school. He’s still looking pretty rough after I come home from work and ends up going to bed early. Definitely not himself.

In light of the news about Amazon shafting Australian shoppers, I decide I should probably spend my birthday Amazon vouchers. I end up with quite a haul (augmented by some of my own cash) including all the Mr Men/Doctor Who books, a bunch of awesome blurays that aren’t available in Australia, and some additional pop classic kids books including bedtime retellings of Back To the Future, ET, and a ‘kids’ book of Die Hard that definitely isn’t for kids.

Friday

The Elderbeast is off school again. It’s arguable as to whether he’s genuinely sick, but I reason a second day of school will ensure he gets better for the weekend.

A friend at work suggests I look at auctions for a cheap replacement oven. I do some hunting around and find a local place auctioning off some brand new Indesit appliances. I put a bid in on an oven and cross my fingers. While browsing I also put in a bid on a dishwasher, reasoning that my current dishwasher has been sounding distinctly unhealthy of late.

The only genuine purchase of the day is cinema tickets for a trip to see Solo on Sunday morning. Somehow I managed to book tickets for Saturday morning by accident. I email the cinema (Reading cinema in Belmont) in a flap and they not only reply almost immediately, but switch the booking to Sunday with minimum fuss. Awesome people.

Saturday

It’s a classic family Saturday. We get the shopping out of the way then chill for a bit before settling down for a viewing of Kubo And The Two Strings (spoiler: it’s really good). Later, the Elderbeast scores himself an afternoon Playstation ban. Once he’s settled down we end up having a pretty awesome time: we watch an episode of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on YouTube, and he’s inspired to make some toasted pizza bread (which turns out to be delicious). Once the Kinderbeast has gone to bed, we share some Brie and check out the Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy movie—its not terrible, but a fair bit of it just doesn’t feel quite right.

Sunday

I take the Elderbeast to see Solo in the morning. It’s fun, not remarkable, but perfectly good in a pretty ordinary way—much as you’d expect from Ron Howard. In the afternoon we build the chicken coop, which comes together nicely. A fine end to a pretty good weekend.

Watched

Monday Hitchhikers 5,6
Tuesday n/a
Wednesday n/a
Thursday n/a
Friday Don’t Knock Twice
Saturday Kubo & The Two Strings
Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
Sunday Solo
Anon

Read

I finish The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet (finally). It was really good, and I’m glad I gave it a second chance. It’s rare for me to enjoy a story that doesn’t really have a plot as such—just a series of things that happen to a pretty well-crafted range of characters. My next book is Endurance, by Scott Kelly, who spent a year on the ISS. It’s ostensibly research for my sci-fi novella, but it’s a damn good read so far.

Eaten

Monday Chicken fingers & veg
Tuesday Slow cooked beef stir fry
Wednesday Cauliflower Korma
Thursday Sausage & mash
Friday Pasta and veg
Saturday Slow Roast chicken
Sunday Chicken Soup

Week 21: Positivity week!

(May 21 – May 27)

I have a nagging feeling that a lot of my diary posts have been bordering on the negative. Not so much “oh, life is terrible!” but certainly a lot of headaches, tiredness, struggling towards the weekend, and so on. Just, you know, weekly life.

To counter that, and to note the fact that life actually is pretty good, I’ve decided to spend this week focusing only on the positive things that happen. So, let’s see how that goes.

Monday

The week starts off well with a day off! This is so I can attend a presentation the Elderbeast is doing for his PEAC class later in the day, but it also gives me lots of extra writing time in the morning. As an added bonus I’m able to get the beef (that I didn’t have time to cook yesterday) in the slow cooker.

Tuesday

The day starts of with a few Christmas photos showing up on one of my feeds—a pleasant reminder of an excellent Christmas dinner last year with friends. After school, the Elderbeast has been invited to attend a session at a local high school where he has to pretend to solve a crime. It’s all part of the gifted and talented program, and a nice opportunity for him to do something different.

Later in the evening I’m mulling over the sci-fi novella I’m currently writing, and a few plot holes magically fix themselves in the process. I love it when that happens.

Wednesday

It’s Wednesday (see above), which is always good: it’s the part of the week where you can comfortably feel the weekend sliding nearer. As an added bonus someone brings cake into the office. At the point I can’t remember who it was, or what type of cake. But I remember that there was cake, which is, overall, the important thing.

I get home and I have two deliveries waiting for me. One is a box of books for the Kinderbeast. He’s been developing quite the temper lately—just a growing thing—and I thought I’d buy him a book to help him understand how to deal with it. But, instead of just one book, I ended up buying a whole box set of books about feelings.

My other delivery is my latest case of wine from Naked Wines, which I mostly ordered (still being reasonably well stocked) because they threw in a very tempting looking Pinot Noir. I scored a second free bottle in a buy one get one free deal, so it’s pretty well filled case all in all. I take great pleasure in unpacking it and relocating the bottles to my wine rack. There’s nothing I like better than a fully stocked wine rack. Except, of course, the work that goes into emptying it again.

Thursday

First highlight of the day is making some decent headway on the sci-fi novella I’m writing. Progress has been a bit on the patchy side, so it’s good to feel like I’m getting somewhere with it.

I leave work early to collect the kids from school and find the results for the Elderbeast’s GATE (Gifted & Talented Exam) waiting for us. It’s a tough exam, so I was never going to be too disappointed if he hasn’t passed. But I open the envelope and find … he passed! It’s a relatively narrow pass—just 8 points above the threshold—but it’s still a pass, and his score places him somewhere in the top 35% of everyone who took the test, which is a pretty decent way of looking at it.

Now we just have to wait and see if gets any offers for the Gifted & Talented programs at his chosen schools.

Friday

I’ve booked a half day off due to the NBN coming at some point between 1-5pm to (finally) fix my internet. This is the third appointment, the first two having been cancelled by NBN without notice, so I’m half expecting no one to appear and nothing to happen. The technician ends up calling me at 11:30am—early!!—to see if I’m home. I tell him I can be there in 30 minutes and, miracle of miracles, my NBN is fixed not long after that. The technician confirms that it’s a known problem at the node, which NBN Co have thus far not bothered to fixed properly. It makes me question why I went through six weeks of NBN Co knocking back my requests for them to fix my service. Mostly, however, I’m just glad to have everything fixed.

With a bonus afternoon ahead of me I get through most of the tidying and cleaning that was on my todo list for the weekend. Awesome!

Saturday

It’s my #childfree weekend. I wake up with a headache, which lingers for the entire morning and makes it very hard to find a positive to reflect on for the day. I do, however, manage to find two. First is watching an early Doctor Who (Edge Of Destruction) that I’d never seen before and which turned out to be great. Second is realising that because I’d done so much yesterday, I could afford to rest on the sofa all morning without actually needing to do anything at all, including leaving the house to go shopping. So I count that as a win.

I’m recovered enough by the afternoon for some moderately successful guitar practice. Then I spend my evening watching Interstellar. I’d avoided it to date due to the middling reviews, and also the length, but I end up really enjoying it. It’s got a decent story, enough action and drama to make it a good Saturday night choice, and plenty of meaty stuff to keep me thinking after the credits roll.

Sunday

I enjoy a fun day of gaming with friends (it’s my turn to cook lunch and everyone seems to enjoy the veggie chill I’ve made for them, which puts it on the list of good things for the week). I hurry home after that so I have time to make the roast potatoes to go with the beef that’s been in the slow cooker all day. I few minutes after I get the spuds in the oven there’s an abrupt absence of noise: the oven’s turned itself off. I try switching it back on again. No dice. I figure that the fuse has popped, go outside and, sure enough, it’s off. I put it back on, return to the kitchen, and the oven works again.

Except it doesn’t. The lights come on and some warmth happens, but it’s definitely not enough to cook with. I end up having to fry the potatoes and manage to get them just barely edible.

So where’s the positive? It’s hard to end a supposedly Positive Week with the death of one of your major appliances. However, this does finally give me the reason I need to buy a new oven, which means I will once again have a working grill, which means I can eat endless cheese on toast!

That’s the way I’m looking at it.

I end the day watching Shaun Of The Dead with the Elderbeast. He loves it, but it’s about 98% less appropriate for him that I remembered. The movie virtually starts off with someone asking: “Do any of you cunts want a drink?”

Top parenting win there.

Watched

Monday n/a
Tuesday [yet another Monty Python thing on Netflix]
Wednesday n/a
Thursday Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy 1×03, 1×04
Friday Midnight Meat Train
Saturday Doctor Who: Edge Of Destruction
Interstellar
Sunday Shaun Of The Dead

Read

Still making my way through The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet.

Eaten

Monday Slow roast beef
Tuesday Beans
Wednesday Teriyaki beef stiry-fry
Thursday Salmon
Friday Daal
Saturday Traditional Child free
Sunday Slow roast beef

Week 20: Back on the up

(May 14 – May 20)

Do I finally get my internet working again? Read on and find out …

Monday

The saga of my faulty nbn continues nice and early, with the telephone company coming out to repair my phone socket—which has left me without any internet at all since they first ‘fixed’ it on Wednesday. My attitude in these situations is not to focus on the mistake–since we all make mistakes with reliable regularity–but to look at the fact that they’ve acknowledged there was a mistake made, and they’ve come out at the soonest possible opportunity to fix it.
The icing on the cake is that I plug my modem back in once the work is done and find that I’ve acquired a potential 20mbps speed boost since connecting it to the main socket!

Tuesday

I start writing a story inspired by a nightmare I had on Sunday night. I don’t have nightmares very often, but this one was intense enough for me to wake me up and leave the light on for about 20 minutes before re-attempting sleep.
The resulting story is more or less a straight translation of the nightmare—slender on the narrative, heavy on the imagery—but I’m hoping it will make for decent read when it’s done.

Wednesday

It’s Late Start Wednesday, which means two things: I have time to finish writing the first draft of my nightmare story, and we get to have breakfast at Macca’s. This is either a treat or a punishment, depending on how you view Macca’s breakfast foods.

Thursday

I start the day with a three-hour workshop, which is far from my ideal vision of how to start my day. In the end, it’s not bad at all.
When I get home the Elderbeast and I start planning a podcast we want to make together. I’ve been researching audio equipment, and he’s been planning out the shows. I’m hoping it’ll be fun, but it’s mostly way of giving him a project to work on, and devising something creative that we can do together.

Friday

A friend lends me his mic to test out—one that comes highly recommended, but is out of my price range for this probably-not-going-to-go-anywhere podcast project. I’m very excited. The Elderbeast is even more excited and immediately takes it to the PS4 to set it up for his online gaming. He has a few false starts, but his persistence eventually pays off and he is somehow able to get his gaming headset and shiny new mic to work in concert for him. I’m impressed while also being largely unimpressed.

Saturday

The Elderbeast seems determined to spend $450 on a new gaming headset (for his birthday, later in the year). I am, inevitably, determined that he doesn’t. As a compromise he finds a $40 headset, and then impresses me even further by finding it for $30.
We head to the shops to pick up said headset. On the drive there we find ourselves talking about heist movies, mostly inspired by the Elderbeast’s love of Ocean’s 11. I suggest we should look up a list of the greatest heist movies of all time and watch some of them. I do so, only to find that we’ve already seen many of the candidates. One that does jump out, however, is Inception, which I’ve only seen the once and am keen to watch again. I tell the Elderbeast about it, and the conversation goes something like this:

Me: “We should watch Inception. It’s basically a heist movie.”
Elderbeast: “Okay cool. What’s it about?”
Me: “Well, the premise is about these people who can get inside other peoples’ dreams—“
Elderbeast: “Oh dear …”

Despite his understandable reservations, primarily concerning the imminent state of his brain, we watch the movie and it is much enjoyed. I’m, again, impressed that he can sit through a 2 ½ hour movie, especially one as mentally demanding as Inception, and follow the concepts perfectly.

Sunday

We all head off to a friend’s a house for a tabletop gaming session. The kinderbesten settle [mostly] quietly with their iPads, while we adults try [and mostly fail] to work out how to play a new game about saving books from the burning Library of Alexandria.
The kinderbesten, once again, are so good that I end up staying later than planned. As a consequence I get home too late to put on my slow roast beef. Never mind. There’s always tomorrow.
The Elderbeast has been asking about the answer to life, the universe and everything of late. So, naturally, I introduce him to The HItchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. It’s a trepidatious moment—I love the show, and have been meaning to give it a rewatch for a long time. But will the Elderbeast shrug and therefore need to be escorted promptly from the premises?
The good news is he loves it, and nearly dies from laughter during the extract about poetry. He demands more after the first episode but is half asleep by the time the second one wraps up.
I do enjoy getting to introduce him to all of this

Watched

Monday Monty Python: Almost The Truth 1×03
Tuesday Monty Python: Almost The Truth 1×04
Wednesday n/a
Thursday Monty Python: Almost The Truth 1×05, 1×06
Friday The Gate
Saturday Inception
The Lorax
Sunday Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy 1, 2

Read

A little bit more of The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, but not very much more.

Eaten

For some reason I failed to note down my menu choices for much of this week, so this one will have to remain a mystery for the ages.

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