Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Olympics are over! Ta-ta! Bye Bye! See you later!

Yep, no more Olympics for four years, unless you count the Winter Olympics, then its two years. I have a slightly odd view of the Games. I quite like that Australia does well, though I contribute to that success in no way at all. I find it annoying that it takes over the TV for two weeks, unless the football is on, which I find slightly more annoying. Unless its Geelong playing, who I barrack for and contribute nothing towards their success either. Its not like the other stations don't have stuff on, its just that I'm not allowed to watch them. Not during the Olympics. I have discovered that my ranking in the "television watching decision making" is a lowly fourth. The top spot is pretty much held by DW, followed by Little Man, Princess and then me. I need to get another dog, just so I'm not last.

Then the Olympics finishes and it all changes. Well, at least it might. DW says we'll see.

Princess has loved watching the Games. She has really gotten into the spirit and if nothing else, she has learned that the medals are awarded AFTER the race has been run, not before. Those exciting numbers at the start of the race are just the lane numbers for the competitors. Princess is trying to decide which sport she would like to compete in and is currently hoping that the dodecathlon (12 events) becomes part of the Games in when she is old enough.

Little Man on the other hand likes cars. Not just the movie - which he watches obsessively - but anything with wheels. This includes trucks, buses, aeroplanes and wheelbarrows. His idea of the perfect movie would be dinosaurs battling monster trucks. He also loves dinosaurs, but mostly its cars at the moment. I don't think I'll let him watch Speedracer just yet.

Speaking of Little Man, you might be amazed to hear he has finally turned three. Yep, the little guy made it, and believe me, no one was more surprised than DW and I. To celebrate, he got an attitude. Strictly speaking, he had the attitude for several weeks before he turned three, but he has really refined it. He also received lots of presents and had a party at which he showed everyone his attitude.

DW did most of the work preparing the party but I got to make the cake. Ok, so it was a packet mix, but I must say, the mix we use is easy and turns out great almost always. In this particular case, it turned out nicely. The design was based on an idea given to DW by one of her Mum's Group friends, let's call her Shlinda (she should make a list - Shlinda's List). Because of Little Man's love of all things automotive, I designed an outdoor road scene, and the cake was my canvas. I needed a large canvas so I made a great big cake. DW suggested I make butter icing and in retrospect, plain coloured icing would probably have been easier to work with and neater. Anyway, I split up the icing and got hold of all the food colouring I could find. I made a grass coloured icing and a water coloured icing and even a bitumen coloured icing. The last took careful measuring of several, nay, all the food colours I had. As for the precision measurements, I was just lucky that the precise amount needed was also the precise amount that I had of each colour. What are the odds? As it happened, the colour turned out a perfect shade of "road", and also had a slightly authentic taste as well. On this I put tic-tacs for road lines and a couple of small cars DW bought. In the centre, was a Lightning McQueen candle. Ok, it didn't turn out perfectly, but everyone said it looked like I tried REALLY hard. Damn butter icing.


Thought for the Day: I am, you am, we

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Brace yourself!

Are you braced? Well do it then! I have discovered that I may in fact be some sort of superhero! The catch is... I don't know what my superpower is! Ok, we can all agree it's not my word-creation ability (cf. "kobberish" still has not entered common usage). Also I am not super strong and I can't fly. I can set things on fire using only my mind and a box of matches but technically willing things to be on fire by setting them on fire is pyromania, and not really super.

Now you might be wondering what makes me think I'm a superhero and not a pyromaniac. Well, for starters, if there's a pyromaniac in my family, its DW, but that's another story. No, I arrived at my conclusion using LOGIC! And no, logic is not my superpower as you will see.

Ok, we all know that superheros have super powers but they also have significant flaws. Either a terrible vulnerability (such as SuperMan and kryptonite) or a moral weakness (such as Batman and hookers). Now, although I haven't discovered my super power, I have evil little piggy toenail on my right foot!

Now you might think I'm an idiot and you might be right but hear me out. This little bugger is evil, I tell you. It haunts me during the day, it wakes me up at night, it torments me in my dreams. It sits in the back of my mind whispering things like "whir, buzz, zzwweeee, whhooo". I mean, how frikken unclear is that? At least if it were telling me to "kill, kill!" I could make an objective assessment of the merits of the suggestion depending on where I was. It makes me have crazy dreams! I'd tell you about them but you'd think I was crazy.

I've toyed with the idea of pulling it out but it would just grow back, 'cos that's what evil toenails do! I wondered if I should just chop off the whole toe but that would hurt and I'd be worried about falling over every second step. Also, the power might simply be transferred to another nail. I should mention that I do not actually believe that the toe itself bears me any ill will or is in fact evil itself, just its diabolical spawn.

I don't really know how it happened. Maybe I said something wrong or ate the last cupcake or kicked a wilderbeast in the nuts. It could have been caused by anything. There's no real way of know for sure now. Its just a burden that I have to live with. But it doesn't have to be long. The toenail I mean. I've cut the little bugger down to size, which has only really succeeded in raising the pitch of the whispering in my head, but I know how to hurt it, and it knows I know. And so on.

The most disconcerting thing was, when I cut it's little head off and looked at the piece, it seemed, almost innocent... until I realised it was smiling! On the plus side, I'm still waiting for my super powers to kick in.


Thought for the Day: Great writers are truly original. Good writers cleverly plagiarise great writers. Hack writers aren't so clever, but there are so many hack writers that no one considers it plagiarism.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wallow free zone...right here.

Ok, so I've wallowed enough and today I am going to choose a new agent. Wish me luck.

For long time readers of this blog (lol) I should provide a quick update of the goings on in the lives of my children, Princess and Little Man (not their real names). Well, Princess absolutely loves school and its extremely gratifying to see how well she has taken to it. Her reading is going ahead in leaps and bounds and she is soaking up knowledge like the proverbial sponge. Is there a proverbial sponge? None of the proverbs I know have sponges in them. I'll fix that in my Thought for the Day. So Princess loves to learn and while the topics are far and wide, the current favourite is the Olympic Games.

Princess has a new computer game that she loves. Its called Google Earth and with her new found enthusiasm for the Olympics, she can actually find not only China, but also Beijing. Once she has found these targets, she then likes to search the oceans for the tiniest islands she can find. I don't know why exactly, but she seems a little obsessed. Still, its better than playing Duke Nuke'em or some other "blow-things-up" type of game. That's best left to the professionals.

That also reminds me. She was watching a kids education program the other day when the main character relayed a fallacy as fact. She said that the Great Wall of China is the only man made object that can be seen from space. Apparently many people believe this to be true. It is not, I tell you. The Great Wall of China is an engineering feat to be sure, but it is mostly bloody long, and while it is pretty damn solid, it is not more so than a dam or major freeway. Also, I'm pretty sure dirty great big shopping malls don't grow in the wild. So I did some research and found Wikipedia had some interesting things to say about the subject (other sites too but mostly Wikipedia). Being able to see the Great Wall of China from space would be like being able to see a single strand of human hair from 2 miles away. It MAY be possible, and I stress the "may" part here, to see the Wall from a low Earth orbit (which is technically not "space") but the seeing conditions would have to be nearly perfect. So far there have not been any confirmed sightings from those in such a position (though there have been a few claims - see the Wikipedia page), it is technically possible. Aha! you might say. It is possible depending on your definition. Not really. The main point of interest is the uniqueness of the Great Wall of China's visibility from space and from a low Earth orbit, there are lots of man-made objects that could be seen. Sure, none of them are as long as the Wall, but that wasn't the claim, now was it.

Ok, on to Little Man. What a pain in the butt he can be. Today might not be the best day for me to write about that little punk as he played up something shocking last night before he went to sleep, and then woke me up several times during the night. Oddly enough, he seems to have had a really good day yesterday. While he has yet to start Kinder, it seems to me that he is VERY ready to go. Granted, not more than we are ready for him to go, but very ready nonetheless. His little mind is absorbing almost as much as Princess', perhaps more, and he is trying to verbalize every damn thought he has, whenever he has it. Mostly this is amusing and reminiscent of the kid on TV whose legs went one way and even his head went the other. At 2am, it is mostly annoying.

Later this month Little Man turns 3, and we are still pretty confident he will make it. The odds waver a little during the night. Still, 3 was a bit of a turning point for Princess so we are hoping it will also be so for Little Man. He needs kinder and the stimulation of other kids and while they don't really teach kids much in the way of formal lessons, a lot is learned. Its only twice a week for two hours and while that doesn't seem like much, it is a nice gentle introduction to school life. Mind you, this is only three-year-old kinder. It gets slightly more intense at four-year-old kinder. So now we just have to make it through to the end of the year. At least he will be three soon and I can buy him a whole new range of toys.


Thought for the Day: The sponge holds more water than the hand.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It's a great day!

Welcome to a new era of my life. I am officially an author! Oh, I don't mean I am getting my book published or anything trite like that. No, I am officially an author because my rejection letter starts "Dear Author". I know, pretty cool, yes?

The first rejection letter is a rite of passage for fledgling authors, even dear ones, like myself. So how does it feel to have put myself out there and been smacked in the mouth, I hear you ask. Actually, its not all that bad. The form letter they send back to tell me have decided to pass on my fantastic masterpiece starts with the aforementioned "Dear Author" and goes on to say that my writing sucks and they wouldn't represent me even if I was the last "author", so-called, on the planet, and clearly I'm a git who couldn't write a coherent story and my general formatting is that of a three-year-old. And I'm stupid most likely ugly. And they have received so many other manuscripts that are all better than mine and they have to publish every single one of them so they had to draw the line somewhere and it was easy to cut mine, 'cos it was crap. Don't call us, we'll call you (as if). Kindest regards, Not Your Future Agent.

Ok, I was reading between the lines and possibly projecting a bit, but you get the drift. Oddly enough, if I had received the above letter, it would have been better than what I did receive. Well, maybe not but at least I could have been sure that they actually read my writing. The real letter is so... empty, that they might have just decided to throw a hundred submissions in the bin and send back a politically correct and completely non-committal form letter to those "Dear Authors". Don't get me wrong though. I don't really blame the agent. I'm sure that if they thought they had a shot at selling my book, they would have called. And if they didn't like it, or didn't read it, they aren't looking to alienate themselves by telling me what they really think and causing offense. Its the nature of the publishing industry.

I'm told that I'm in good company. JK Rowling was rejected several times before she got an agent, and now she is JK Rolling In Money. Most authors get rejection letters and I knew I would get mine, and now I have. So its time to have a bit of a bitch, lick my wounds and send the book to someone else. What you are reading now is the me-having-a-bitch part of the process. Its quite cathartic. And I won't name the agent because they haven't done anything wrong. Its just the way it goes. I guess I'm lucky insofar as I can publish my rant to the world thanks to the wonderful Internet. Sure, probably only DW will read it, and clearly I'm not above playing the pity card, but it feels better than staring at a list of new agents or a blank document hoping a better novel will miraculously appear that won't make people reject me. There's that pity card again.

What would really suck would be not having any other ideas. If I had written this novel and I had quit my job to "make it as a writer", things would be pretty bleak right now. But I have more ideas than time to write them. I have a solid job and a wonderful, supportive family (OK, DW is supportive but Princess and Little Man don't yet care what I do when I'm not with them). And I can always produce an EBook.

EBooks have a bit of a stigma insofar as most people don't actually want to read a novel on their computer or EBook reader, however, I believe that this will change. With the advent of electronic ink based readers, the text looks the same as on paper (or near enough) and so doesn't cause eye strain. You can fit all your novels and newspapers and email and PDFs and Word documents on them, bookmarking as you go. Your whole library will fit in your bag, along with your entire music collection. So, an eBook is a very real possibility for my novel, but I will try a few more agents first. Another good thing about eBooks is you can actually afford to sell them for a tiny amount, like one dollar, because it costs nothing to produce. Unlike a published book which has a significant upfront cost. But the stigma remains - you are not a "real" author until your book is on the shelf at Borders or can be ordered through Amazon. Well, the year is not over yet and there are several agents that haven't had the chance to reject me so I had better get cracking.


Thought for the Day: Poor me.