Friday, October 31, 2003
End of a horror day, beginning of The Month of Nightmares, so that I can replace Chris and Amanda's amusing little fantasy bibliography with details of, y'know, my actual writing. Not that I have done any recently, but hopefully it will serve as a motivation to actually finish. If I can work out why Dreamweaver does all those weird little thing it does with rollovers in time, I will be posting up a couple of new pages tonight - or soon after - which will house my (ahem) magnum opus.
Ironic that Hallowe'en has been a complete frigging nightmare of a day - wrangles with colleagues, contractors and files at work, don't ask. Or maybe it isn't ironic. I suspect I don't have any better idea of what the word means than Alanis Morrissette does. Whatever. Where was I?
Today is the last day before the commencement of National Novel Writing Month. I spent last night doing a bit of work on updating the LexifabWriting page
The novel's working title is "Bard Wars", by the way. And that's pretty much all there is to tell at this point. I have recklessly decided to walk the purist NaNoWriMo path, and not do anything resembling an outline, character development or plotting. I have a vague storyline in mind, but we'll see how long that survives contact with the enforced deadline of 30 November. I also haven't really decided whether it's going to be a gritty noir-ish thriller, or a comedic pastiche thereof, or if it will have some other tone I haven't imagined yet. That will, I daresay, come out in the wash (although my expectation that I will be doing most of the work in the vicinity of midnight leads me to suspect that the tone will tend towards the idiotic).
Andrew, if you're wondering, that's why I think it's gonna be gibberish.
Anyway, from the NaNoWriMo website, I've managed to get in contact with a few of the very large local community of participants. We're going to get together at the Wig and Pen in about fifteen minutes, presumably just to meet and boast or weep and curse our fellow NaNoWriMos. I've not had any contact with Canberra's surprisingly large amateur writing community (well, why would I?) so I am a little nervous about coming off as...well, even more amateur. It wouldn't be an unfair assessment after all - I have a pretty lazy attitude. It's a good pub, though, which brews its own beer, so if worst comes to worst, and my claims for writerhood are scorned and dismissed, then at least there will be beer. And the big stack of Buffy DVD's that just arrived.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Okay, I think I'm going to do it
I've almost, but not quite, decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Not that I have an idea for a novel at the moment, beyond the sketchiest notion of the setting and the vaguest idea of what the central conflict will be. Possibly some characters, I'm not sure.
But that is not, I am led to understand, the point. The point is not to write a good novel. The point is to churn out 50,000 words of what will most likely be turgid rubbish: incoherent plotting, inconsistent and cliched characters, nonsensical situations. Doesn't matter. Just get it out onto the page. 30 days at an average of 1,600 words per day.
I really shouldn't do it. We've got stuff to do this month. This morning, Fiona declared a "Doing stuff around the house" project for this weekend. At any moment, we might decide we want to sell the house. Cricket and cricket training have just started and I am trying to get back in shape. I just started playing Neverwinter Nights, for pete's sake.
And I really will have to end up doing this at nights, so I can see myself pulling quite a few dusk-til-dawners to make up for the inevitable occasions when I miss my daily word count quota, either because I'm too tired from the night before or I decide I really do have something better to do with my time or I actually get ahead of the word count and then spend too long resting on my laurels. So it's going to be a month of late nights and probably a fair amount of distractedness and fretting and undoubtedly more than a few visits from the Fairies of Self-Doubt and Recrimination (pricks!).
But now is when it is happening, so really, now should be when I just damn well do it. I feel like I should be doing some preparatory work, like doing up a special web page to post up the novel as it churns out, or setting up one of Andrew's cool "How much am I beating my word count goal by?" graphs, or coming up with an outline, or even just remembering to mention it to my wife. Having not done those things, I can only assume that I am subconsciously less than 100% committed to the project. Or perhaps just lazy, but surely that's not a good sign either?
But it would be really cool to have a finished novel (or even most of one) in the bank. Even if it kind of sucks. Although come to think of it, if it does suck, the bank is probably the best place to leave it.
Monday, October 27, 2003
No more Strangler Ponds
Jimbo's gone to the Coast (not a euphemism) and now Simon has moved out of the Bonython house on the shore of tranquil Stranger Ponds (which I prefer to call Strangler Ponds for reasons best known only to everybody I have ever met).
Saturday was a blitzkrieg of emptying everything from the garage into the three tonne truck and either cramming it into his new place near the Isabella Plains shops, offloading it at our place or (miraculously) taking it to the dump. Fiona and I missed the current round of the Dump Olympics. This is a Moving Day ritual wherein the main event involves swinging electrical appliances by their cords and attempting to break them spectacularly. This time there was apparently a scientific side to the DO, in which the participants discovered that, contrary to popular understanding, the screen is the most unbreakable part of a computer monitor.
Important and violent scientific research aside, the whole thing went reasonably smoothly. No fingers were lost, nothing valuable seems to have been broken and - although he can't move for boxes, and may yet die in some sort of New Scientist-related avalanche incident - Simon is now installed in his new bachelor pad. And we finished the day by watching Iron Chef (bizarre, hilarious, compelling and more than a little disturbing) and the first three parts of Terror of the Zygons (pretty much as solid as Doctor Who ever got, although we did skip out before Part Four, which is when it kind of falls apart.
I hope you like your cricket soggy...
Game was called yesterday on account of the wet pitch. Apparently there are people who are scared of breaking parts of their lower body if they lose their footing. Pfah! If I cared about that sort of nonsense, I'd never do half the crazy, dangerous crap I enjoy (skiing, rock-hopping etc). And now they have rescheduled that game to a date when I have something else on. Damn.
I was forced to spend the afternoon with my feet up, reading and playing computer games. It was raining too hard (a couple of times) to do any garden maintenance or exercise.
What? It was!
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
It's Jamie, not Jimbo
Jimbo and the cats made it safely to Coolangatta airport and seem to have settled in nicely. The cats are apparently noisily and violently making friends with Norbert the Deaf Staffy and the neighbourhood cats, and Flynn is slamming Jimbo's feet in doors and stuff.
But note well - now that he's back in Queensland (for all intents and purposes, though technically Banora Point is in NSW) and back with family, he is officially James, Jamie or Jimmy again. Disconcerting but true.
Walked to work
Stole the title from Anotherblog, but I can't quite work up Andrew's enthusiasm for walking a hemi-demi-semi-marathon to work. For one thing, my work is only about four kilometers and it only takes half an hour to get here. For another thing, three hours of physical exercise before a day of meetings is hellish and insane.
I do feel better though, for the fact that I've actually done some exercise rather the exercise itself. Assuming the weather stays bearable, I will continue tot walk or ride to work, although that does leave me to wonder when I am going to fit in some motorbike-riding time. Now that the weather is coming good again, the pressure on me to actually take my damned test will be back soon.
Oh, and it wasn't Ted's birthday yesterday
He used a dirty lying Subject line and fooled me good.
I hate it when I get punk'd. Oh yeah.*
* - Gratuitous misuse of catchphrase from recent Sydney holiday. Sorry 'bout that.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
An exchange of correspondence
- hola el davebot!
you wuz robbed on two accounts -
1. no more jimbo!
2. non-selection in the touring side for the upcoming one day internationals.
since, by my reckoning, the only remaining fit (&, okay, i use the word loosely) bowlers (ditto - hey, it's not sledging, it's mental disintegration) in the country are you & the old guy who works in the office downstairs from me, & he's like, really old & doesn't
travel all that well...
robbed i say!
can't wait for the lexifabbygreen cricketing reports to start, nosirree... (aw, c'mon umpy, he started it!)
- deer meesa toad
I understand it to be your birthday, from such subtle hints as the one you dropped like a sitter at midwicket. Well, hell, that's pretty good news, except for the fact that (a) you're probably at work and therefore having a sucky time of it, and (b) I once again clung to the old reliable Rock of Ignorance and didn't get you nuthin'. Pretend it's because I'm a bastard, because I have a rep to maintain.
They wanted me for the touring squad but it turned out Kasper was poisoning the selectors behind my back by spreading rumours about me and Warnie and a shipment of Peruvian small arms, which was only half true at best, and they picked him instead. Jammy little fucker.
Lexifabbygreen is go! Happy birthday Mister the Toad!
After nearly five years and three houses, Jimbo's finally had enough of Canberra and is succumbing to the lure of life on the Gold Coast. He and the cats are leaving this afternoon and heading off to stay with Ian, Sonia, Flynn and Norbert the Deaf Staffy in Tweed Heads.
We had a farewell dinner party on Saturday night and then farewell drinks-and-Japanese (with exactly the same people, mind you) last night. Both were kind of low-key affairs, and I guess it hasn't really sunk in yet that he's going away for good. Fiona and I will, of course, see him reasonably regularly because we head up that way for holidays at least once or twice a year. Hell, this will probably motivate us to make the trip more often, although the choice between a thirteen-hour drive or a not-that-cheap-when-there's-two-of-us plane flight is a bitter one.
Our loss is Ian and Sonnie's gain, though. They pick up a witty and occasionally charming conversationalist, a pretty decent cook, a cheap babysitter (whose self-appointed mission to turn their son into an internationally-renowned jewel thief is sure to provoke much hilarity and therapy in later life) and a challenging matchmaking and employment placement project all at once.
Okay, that last one's a cheap shot, not a compliment, but did you really think I was going to let my baby brother go without a diss? I think not.
Houses houses everywhere
There are two houses for sale in our street. We haven't been inside either of them yet, but both are reasonably well-positioned and attractive, and the appeal of having to move about 150 metres as opposed to miles and miles is not lost on us. We plan to make some enquiries this week (after the trauma of getting Jimbo on a plane is behind us, and before the trauma of helping Simon to move on Saturday arrives). If it turns out that either of them is what we are looking for (or close enough to what we are looking for that we can transform it via the magic of expensive renovations and extensions, just like on TV), things could start to happen pretty quickly. It's even possible we'll bring forward our "leave it until after Christmas holidays" plan.
We had a real estate guy come in and give a rough valuation of our place on Saturday, and it looks like we can probably get something in the vicinity of $400 grand. Which is just a stupid amount of money for a duplex, but will be the sort of cash that we will need if we're going to buy back into the same area, which is what we want to do.
Yes, it's late spring going on summer, and we all know what that means, don't we? That's right - it's the return of the interminable cricket reports on Lexifab! Witness the bone-numbing tedium of self-recrimination-laden post-match analyses that excruciatingly dissect the precise moment at which the game was lost because of me! Startle to laboriously detailed commentary on how many runs were scored off my bowling and thrill to the comparison to my batting, catching and fielding! Be vaguely surprised when I express satisfaction at some aspect of my performance!
All this summer! Starting this Sunday! Right here on Lexifab!
Don't miss it.
Friday, October 17, 2003
New house ahoy!
Fiona and I had lunch yesterday with her friend and ex-AusAID coworker Colin, who happens to be the only millionaire businessman either of us knows. We were picking his brain for some general advice on investments and whether we needed to invest in property or negatively gear or what have you. He suggested that we should probably avoid investing beyond what we were planning to do anyway (ie sell our place and buy a more comfortable house), mostly because tax laws relating to property investment are likely to change in the next couple of years and will probably erode any benefits. The details went in one ear and out the other, of course, but it is reasonably reassuring to know that the best thing to do at the moment is not take out a large loan and invest it. We weren't sure we were really comfortable with that idea anyway.
On the other hand, he could see no good reason for us not to go ahead with our plan to sell the duplex and buy something else. We have a half-arsed notion that we will probably look to sell soon after our Christmas holidays, and then start looking (because we don't want to take out a bridging - or "gouging", to be more accurate - loan) for our "real house".
This is pretty exciting, really. Until we realised just how over-inflated the market is around our area, our plan was really to stay where we are for another two or three years, until we had paid off the mortgage. But the current state of the market is just too good an opportunity to pass up. So we're talking to a real estate agent about getting a rough valuation on Saturday morning, which will hopefully give us a good idea of what we can expect to get.
Understand that this is a pretty big deal for someone who has never had more than five or so grand in a bank account in his life.
Bill's killed, baby. Bill's killed.
Well, actually not yet. Presumably we have to wait for Kill Bill Volume 2 for that. But in the meantime an awful lot of other people are killed in the first instalment, which we watched last night.
It's great. Right from the cruddy "Feature Presentation" cell, the amusing Shaw brothers reference and the act of surprisingly shocking violence in the first thirty seconds, I was in awe. This is a film that absolutely eschews depth or complexity of plot (which is, in its entirety: Protagonist takes revenge on those who wronged her) and largely foregoes decent dialogue (the main characters are all cardboard-cutout caricatures spouting sub-literate action movie dialogue, though Tarantino can't help but slip a couple of scenes in with the witty naturalistic dialogue he's best known for). But for all of that, this film is absolutely mesmerising and visually compelling.
And violent. Oh my, this is a pretty violent movie. There's a lot of people running around with swords. How does that old saying go? "Where there's swords, there's dismemberment". Okay, so that's a new saying, but this movie practically demands to be immortalised in aphorism.
It does stop in the middle, but the "end" isn't as jarring as I was expecting. I suspect if I had watched a full three and a half hour movie last night, my head would have exploded, and my bladder certainly would have, so maybe there is some small virtue in having to wait six months for KBV2.
Quentin Tarantino is a bastard. He made me wait six years for his next movie and then only gave me half of it. And it was worth the wait, dammit. (It wasn't worth missing out on his version of Modesty Blaise, but fingers remain crossed that that will happen one of these days. It would kick all sorts of arse).
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Too busy to blog
I've got a lot to catch up on from the weekend in Sydney - which included highlights such as Weird Al Yankovic, Yobtoberfest and getting repeatedly murdered by rockets in Playstation deathmatches - but work is flat out today. It probably wouldn't be had I actually been at work on Monday or Tuesday, but I was (a) later back from Sydney than expected, and (b) too tired and lazy to get up, so here I am on Thursday and there's a goddamn metric shitload of work to do.
I spent most of Tuesday installing all of Fiona's software onto the new PC, which was mostly painless. I wanted to start tinkering with the Spit master recordings which Andrew gave me while I was in Sydney, but he neglected to include the actual software, so that will have to wait too. In the meantime, I will have to console myself by getting repeatedly murdered by fireballs in Neverwinter Nights.
Although we've had Windows XP installed on the new PC (because I am basically too lazy to make an effort with another operating system, and I think Fiona just doesn't care), we are not entirely marching in the Microsoft Army this time around. For our word processing and spreadsheeting requirements, we are using OpenOffice1.1, an open-source office applications package that does pretty much everything MS Office does, at an infinitesimally small fraction of the price (well, nothing). Looks pretty good, and from all reports works fine. More reports if I can actually be bothered to use it to, like, write anything or do a spreadsheet or presentation or something.
Actually, now that I come to mention it...
I came across another reference to National Novel Writing Month today, and I have to admit it's tempting me. Even though I know for a fact that I would invariably prefer to be doing almost anything else apart from anything that begins to resemble work - which of a certainty would include hammering out a 50,000-word novel at an average rate of 1,666 words per day - there is something sneakily appealing about this approach. NaNoWriMo (pronounced NA-no RYE-mo, according to the helpful FAQ) cheerfully acknowledges that the intent is to apply subtle-but-constant peer pressure to produce a crappy-but-complete work of fiction. It doesn't have to be good (one would think that it would be verging on impossible for it to be anything but jumbled and semi-coherent nonsense), it just has to be finished.
The appeal is obvious to me. All my previous attempts at writing have come spectacularly unstuck well before I reach the four or five thousand word mark, because I am continuously in a mode of self-editing, second-guessing uncertainty. (For the record, that's one of the main reasons that most of my recent writing has been on song lyrics. Laziness also plays a not-insignificant role). If I can pull off the trick of convincing myself that I needn't give a damn whether it's any good or not, there's the faintest of outside chances that I'll stick to it.
Andrew's participation last year resulted in a not at all bad Monastery novel (which he has since procrastinated massively on editing and submitting for publication). You can read all about his efforts here. Now I am now going to say "If Andrew can do it, then so can I", because clearly he can do rather a lot of things that I can't and will never have any interest in learning (that coin thing, for one). But I reckon I could do this, and maybe I will.
At any rate, I am going to let the idea bubble and stew away for the next couple of weeks and see whether the idea takes hold.
Kill Bill Volume 1
While it still seems to me that the decision to cut Quentin Tarantino's new movie in half and sell it in two volumes is greedy and artistically corrupt, I'm still going to go see it tonight, because it will be my last chance for a long time to see a film with samurai sword-wielding ninja assassin chicks and multiple decapitations with Jimbo. And that's pretty much his favourite film genre right there, so tonight should be a ball.
Friday, October 10, 2003
Jesus fucking wept
This just about constitutes mass fucking murder. Ruthless, totalitarian control that serves no good to anyone but an ideologically corrupt few.
Fuck you, Vatican. This is the last straw.
Busy with other stuff
Busy morning? Oh yeah. As I type this I've been on hold for twenty minutes, navigating the treacherous reefs of trying to book Jimbo and two cats on flights to the Gold Coast. At this rate they'll be lucky if they just get lost at Sydney airport. The way this is going, some or all of them are going to end up in Hong Kong rather than Coolangatta.
After that's done I have to go to put in a claim with the medical insurer, organise a cricket training session I won't be attending, start organising a cake drive to raise money for the cricket team, remind the indoor cricket captain that he hasn't organised the team for next Monday's game yet, return some tupperware and then maybe I'll get a chance to do some work before I go to lunch.
Don't worry, I'm as disgusted as you are.
Hard at it
Work's been a bit of a drag this week. Pretty unsurprising given that I spent the last week being relaxed and happy. It was always going to be hard to get back into the groove. But things are also going from tense to worse with the contractors, and I'm not sure the stance we've adopted for the negotiations - which I would characterise as somewhat uncooperative - is going to help smooth things over.
The one saving grace for me is that at least nobody seems to expect me to take the part of bad cop. So yeah, the stress is still there, but at least I'm not having to actively contribute to it.
Weekend Of Al Hilarity
- or WOAH, as I like to call it. Simon, Fiona and I hit the road as soon as possible this afternoon and drive to Andrew and Anna's place in Sydney. Hopefully we will arrive before the kickoff of the opening game of the Rugby World Cup, as Sones is rather keen on seeing it. Unfortunately I have just remembered that Andrew's television isn't actually tuned in TV stations, so there may be a problem there.
The rest of the weekend will be spent doing Fun Stuff with Evan and the Sydney crowd, leading up to the Weird Al Yankovic concert at the Enmore on Sunday night. I am getting progressively more excited about this with every passing minute. So much so that I can barely concentrate on doing to oodles of actual work I have to finish before this afternoon.
Grr. Bad Dave! Focus! Focus!
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Today is Der Simonster's birthday. I would like to do something spectacular for him on his birthday, but The Best News Ever has completely destroyed my ability to think creatively. Aiee! Perhaps his Amazon wish list will give me some ideas...
Hmm...Yep, that'll work...
What? Hmm? Oh, yeah: Happy Birthday, Mister Der'Monster!
Okay, so I could talk about how fine our holiday in the Blue Mountains was: how fabulous the B&B was, with its spa and open fireplace and cooked breakfasts every morning and champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries on arrival, or how cool it was to go caving at Jenolan Caves, with the helmet lights and crawling sideways through narrow gaps between boulders and the Soul-Destroying Penetrating Darkness of the Cthonian Depths (ahem) or how invigorating and painful was our day of abseiling and rock-climbing, what with the leaping off perfectly good cliffs and the horrible feeling of numbness and self-doubt that creeps into your heart and fingers when you're clinging to a rock face and trying to convince your twitching right foot that it just needs to stretch one more inch upwards, or - well, I could go on.
I could talk about all those things, or I could just slap down a link to the best (non-real life) news ever. Ever! Thanks to Andrea for drawing my attention to the Best News Ever! (Did I emphasize how Best Ever this news is? Don't make me use bold print! PS: Best Ever!)
Spare me the Doctor Who/Queer as Folk jokes, though. I've already had that conversation twice today.