Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

August 27, 2013

Diagnosis: Murder!

Filed under: fitter/happier — Tags: , , — lexifab @ 4:51 pm

(NB: murder is not the diagnosis. I have not been diagnosed with murder, which is any case is not a medical condition. I apologise unreservedly for my attention-grabbing and nearly irrelevant title.)

The sleep news is in, and it’s not too bad, if not exactly good. “Moderately severe” sleep apnoea. Even though I am not suffering from the sort of arrested breathing that keeps a bedmate awake at night in tense anticipation that the next breath may never come, I’m still not doing it right. I vaguely recall there’s an idiom to the effect that a simple task is as easy as breathing. It turns out there’s a sliding scale involved, and I’m on the tilting end of it.

For yet to be determined biomechanical reasons, my breathing during slow wave sleep is inefficient. Which is to say, during non-REM sleep I wake up for brief periods as often as a few times every minute. The waking is rarely shocking enough to bring me fully to consciousness. I don’t open my eyes, I don’t remember waking up. My blood-oxygen saturation is low – like “badly out-of-shape sitcom character hyperventilating through a Zumba class” low.

Every morning I wake up after what feels like it should have been a full night’s sleep and I am already dopey-tired. It takes a couple of hours before I am fully awake on the days that I manage to clear that bar – there aren’t too many of them at the moment – and by lunchtime my head is spinning and I am ready for a nap.

You can see all this on the ECG readouts from the sleep lab. My sleep pattern looks eerily like the graphical representation of a disk drive in urgent need of defragmentation. You can also see it in my face, where the usual bags under my eyes have gone to a luggage wholesaler and picked up some really good deals on eye-bags. Or something. I dunno if my analogies are making much sense at the moment.

I’ve started preparatory treatment to clean upy sinuses as a first step – steroid sprays and saline drenching every day for a month, followed by another consultation to decide on next steps. Which could be more sleep monitoring, a CPAP mask designed to force air down my throat, a mandible retainer designed to force my jaw forward (opening up my oesophagus) or surgery to correct the deviated septum I’ve had all my life.

Yeah, none of those options sound great, do they? But they’re all better than feeling hammered all day every day.

So, onward. Pass me the squeeze bottle for nasal saline injections and stand back, yo.


August 20, 2013

Say after me / It’s no better to be safe than sorry

Filed under: news of the day — Tags: , , , , — lexifab @ 4:16 pm

I’m sorry if that title earwormed you.

The last iTunes update wiped out my playlists so when I synced my phone I deleted all my music so when I was walking at lunch I had to stream music from Pandora and for some reason it has corrupted my 70’s rock station with A-Ha so now I have “Take On Me” running through my head.

I love that that is a problem that could in no sense have existed for me even three years ago. (Except for the part where I hear “Take On Me” and then can’t get it out of my head, which has always been true).

I love that the world is tilting crazily in new and unforeseen directions and that everything changes and nothing need be terrible forever or even for very long.

In other news, happy birthday Chriplodocus X. Try not to feel old and wearied by the dizzying pace of change, old man.

August 16, 2013

AWWC 2013 – Review – One Small Step: An Anthology of Discoveries (edited by Tehani Wessely)

This is my 8th review for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013. I picked up my copy of the anthology at the April 2013 launch at the Australian National Convention, Conflux 9.

One Small Step: An Anthology of Discoveries is a showcase of Australia’s current wealth of women writing speculative fiction. These 16 stories cover a range of genres, from far-future science fiction to dark fantasy, fairytales – traditional and post-modern – to police procedurals, and the odd foray into the weird. All tie into a theme of exploration and discovery – emotional, intellectual and sometimes geographic.

My experience of themed anthologies is that the quality can vary considerably, usually with one or two outstanding stories balanced out by mostly good ones and a couple of duds. One Small Step is better than that. The standard here is very high. The worst that I could say about editor Tehani Wessely’s selection is that a couple of them are excellent specimens of styles that aren’t to my tastes. Even the very few stories I didn’t particularly like were undeniably worth reading. (In fact the story I enjoyed the least in the collection was probably the most strongly written. My tastes don’t always line up perfectly with storytelling excellence!) I would note that if your speculative fiction appetite starts and end with hard science fiction of the spaceships and robots variety, there’s probably only one story – D K Mok’s “Morning Star” – that will suit. But it is a good one!

I’m calling out a few of my favourites here, but take my word for it that I’m not papering over any cracks in the collection. I’m prepared to bet that every story here would make someone’s top three. One Small Step opens with Michelle Marquardt’s “Always Greener”, a child’s encounter with strange aliens on a hostile colony world, a setup that seems like it could go anywhere but still takes an unexpected and bittersweet turn. Jodie Cleghorn’s “Firefly Epilogue” is a colourful evocation of the Australian tourist’s experience of Malaysia, again tinged with a sweet sadness. I adored Tansy Rayner Roberts’ “Cold White Daughter”, a homage that nails its colours proudly and playfully to the mast, while re-examining a beloved childhood tale.

One Small Step is worth picking up for a good idea of what the current renaissance in Australian speculative fiction looks like at the moment. Smart, heartfelt and a little bit otherworldly. It works for me.

August 6, 2013

You had one job to do

Filed under: geekery,news of the day,property magnatism — Tags: , , , , — lexifab @ 2:57 pm

This is the 600th post on this iteration of Lexifabricographer [1]. For reasons I am not well equipped to examine at the moment, I have had this idea that I should mark the occasion with a special post. Yes, despite the fact that this could not possibly be a more meaningless milestone. All week I’ve been trying to think of a suitably worthy discussion topic. Each time I’ve failed, then gone off and found something else to do.

Obviously, what I should be doing is a classic Lexifab post of context-free observations and underdeveloped comments about two or three unrelated topics that occur to me as I type them. because everyone loves those, don’t they?

(Well, they might, but until I do a few and then examine the new analytical tools, how will I know?)

The Next of the Doctors

So they announced that <spoiler>Peter Capaldi</spoiler> will be taking the part of the twelfth-or-thirteenth Doctor when Matt Smith departs at the end of the year. So, the Doctor will continue to be a white bloke for the next three to five years. Once again my desperately unrealistic hopes of a Helen Mirren, Chiwetel Ejiofor or Sophie Okenedo Doctor will have to be shelved, as such hopes ever are. I find that this time around I am too tired of making the argument for a female Doctor, much less the surely-not-all-that-controversial possibility of casting a non-white actor, to even bother engaging in the discussion much.

That said, I like Peter Capaldi very much as an actor and I am sure he will be just as marvellous in the role as everyone else who ever got the job. He has an expressive face with the capacity to do both “angry” and “concerned” and his comic timing appears sound. What’s of more interest – and I have to say concern – is whether the hyper-fluid, breathless and often incoherent storytelling that has marked the Moffatt era so far, will continue after Matt Smith’s departure. That style of drama has its positive points but seems to favour being clever over being smart a little too often for my tastes. [2]

If it were me – and let us be honest it never will or should be me in charge of Doctor Who – I’d take the opportunity of casting a slightly less spritely-appearing actor (Capaldi is 55, which is OMG as old as William Hartnell was when he took the role) to extend the metaphor into the meta a bit. I think it would make a nice change to enjoy a period of slightly less rushed and deliberately confusing storytelling, where the exploration of character has a bit of space to happen naturally in amongst the exploding space-skyscrapers and timey-wimey shenanigans.


Deadlines whoosh by

I still haven’t finished my novel manuscript. July was almost a complete washout, thanks to sleepiness and, I’ll be honest, a solid spoonful of disenchantment with both the story and my ability to tell it. In the last week or so some of the wind has returned to my sails and the manuscript-so-far, while undoubtedly riddled with structural defects and rookie errors, doesn’t look all that bad. I’ll put a fair chunk of the blame on the tiredness for that one.

My novel critiquing group is owed a finished manuscript in eight days. They’re not going to get one. Even if I took the next week off work I doubt I could get to the finish line on that one. Lucky for me, they’ve all been extraordinarily patient and have generously agreed to read whatever I have done at that point. It would have been good to be able to hand over something with THE END typed on the last page. I’m disappointed that I didn’t make it (and sometime soon I’ll need to take a much closer look at everything from my approach to outlining, my writing session discipline and the reasonableness of my self-expectations to see where improvements can be made in future).

But the crit group have been ruthless in their dissection of each others’ work over the course of this year. Weak characters, inconsistent settings and rambling plots have been unearthed in even the most polished of manuscripts. (Not by me, I might add – I fear I was among the softer, less helpful critics in the group. Most of the time I couldn’t spot an error in plot logic even if you explained it slowly with flowcharts). They are going to have a field day with mine – but the crucial part is that they will probably identify problems that I don’t already know about. And they might very well come up with ideas that are better than mine.

So I have one week to go through what I’ve written so far and at least fix all the typos so they don’t have to deal with those…

Tax time

Back in real life, however, what I have to spend the rest of this week and probably some part of the weekend doing is getting my tax documents and spreadsheets together. While we have highly paid accountants to work out the intricate tax details of our investment property empire (such as it is), we can’t really afford to just throw all our receipts at them and let them do all the work. Which means that around this time every year I have to pull together a ten-page spreadsheet of itemised income and expenditure statements, together with the usual huge bundles of invoices, bank statements and income summaries.

So far the only fun thing about preparing this  year’s spreadsheet has been adding a line item in my income statement for income from writing. First step on the long and probably neverending journey to a professional career in writing! If nothing else, it gives me a target to aim at for next year.



[1] The previous iteration still exists, mostly unlinked-to, like a confused and irritable ghost meandering about the halls of an orange-hued gothic manor. Do not attempt to engage it, for its ill-focused ennui is both parasitic and contagious, a bit like all the comment spam that has nestled in it for warmth and nutrients.

[2] That said, I found more to like than dislike in the eight stories of Season 7B than in any previous stretch of the Twelfth Doctor run, even though those very qualities have been wound up to Ramming Speed.

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