Tidying up

Eight years since I last posted on this blog, that I'd almost forgotten existed. Time to perform some digital necromancy, and see if I can resurrect this thing before Blogger gets turned off. More than half the posts on here were done via Posterous - a service that no longer exists, so the posts themselves make little sense any more (no images if they were hosted on posterous, links that go nowhere). From what I remember, Posterous' big selling point was being able to send blog posts via email and have it do all the formatting and presentation for you. It would also then syndicate out that post to whatever other sources you wanted  - like Blogger, for instance, or Facebook. They got into the blogging business just as everyone moved onto social media, and they never worked out how to make any money. I'll go through and delete all the useless posts over the next few days. So many online services are dead and gone (or dying), that at the time I thought were great. Remembe

Things I have done instead of starting NaNoWriMo

I've made a list of things I need before I can start writing properly: * a coffee * a nicer chair * a nicer desk * a laptop, so that I can work at a different desk * a different word processor * different music to listen to, music that's more "writer-y" * another coffee * a biscuit * a plot * some talent * command of the English language I've suddenly found all manner of interesting things that need investigating on the internet: * ABC's iView, never needed to look at it before, but now... * what my Flickr contacts have been up to * their favourite photos * their favourite's favourites... * places one can buy obscure British sci-fi in Australia * a review (with spoilers) of the next Dr Who episode * articles about vaccination and dodgy science * the NaNoWriMo website ( ) * articles about strategies for avoiding procrastination * people twittering about Hallowe'en costumes * other people twittering about NaNoWriMo and how they

Let me bore you about time travellers and zombies

The Internet made me buy "Boneshaker", by Cherie Priest. Much lauded by electric curmudgeon Warren Ellis, geeky actor Wil Wheaton, amongst others, this steampunk/zombie adventure proved to be a good read. Exciting, different, fun. I'd steered clear of "The Time Traveller's Wife" for no particularly good reason other than that stupid form of snobbery that dictates that the popular isn't cool. I'd read reviews that essentially said this was science fiction that's ok to like even if you're not a sad geek. I'd also read reviews from the other side that said it wasn't SF enough, and merely recycled old tropes. Usually, people who use the word "trope" are wankers. It happened to be on prominent display, thanks to the film I suppose, when I wandered into Borders so I gave it a go. It is good. Really good. Funny, likeable characters. A simple love story complicated and enlivened by the main character's temporal disability. P

Review: Pirx the Pilot and other stories

I've just realised that I've got on the train still carrying the book I finished yesterday. Nothing to read, so I'll write a review. I picked up "Tales of Pirx the Pilot", by Stanislaw Lem, in the same stack of secondhand books from Woodend that I got the classic Fritz Leiber Lankhmar book and Chalker's Well of Souls. This one I picked up because I'd loved "The Cyberiad" by Lem. It's a compendium of three of Lem's books from the Sixties: the Pirx the Pilot stories, "Return from the Stars", and "The Invincible". The Pirx the Pilot stories are closest in tone to the Cyberiad, and have a hint of the same gentle mockery of human silliness. They're a set of short tales about the career of Pirx, a spaceship pilot. Similar to some of Asimov's early works ("ingenuity and applied science save the day"), they differ in that Pirx is no super-competent science hero - he's more of an everyman. Most are funn

Day 4 of bringing civilization to the kiwis

Day four began with the breakfast of champions, coffee and a pork pie: Thing2 thoughtfully sent us a text to let us know that the clocks had gone forward. Which was handy, otherwise he'd have been waiting an hour for us to turn up for Yum Cha at Big Thumb on Allen Street. Tasty treats were had by all, apart from Owen who seemed a bit scared by the squid tentacles and rubbery looking dumplings. We bade our friends goodbye, and headed for Te Papa again. Outside the museum the Wellington Porsche owners club had decided to congregate. We had a quick look, then nipped inside, where a band was playing: Which was nice. We wandered, pondered, examined, until we'd all had enough and went for some pudding at Strawberry Fare (a place that specialises in desserts): Feeling stuffed and slightly sick, we waddled home. Tomorrow we get up early and catch the ferry to Picton. There may not be any internet on the South Island, so you might not get to find out what happens next for a whil

NZ will be mine: day 3

We arranged to meet up with the confusingly named Gareth (henceforth Thing2) this morning. Last night's attempt to get hold of him having been thwarted by his having an actual life and going out of an evening. Weirdo. We drove through Wellington's hilly streets, only getting lost once. Not bad considering we were running on cached maps on my iPhone (it's a work phone, so no international roaming for me). Thing2 and his lovely lady friend Dorrit took us around the corner to the beach: Lunch was had at the Bach cafe: greasy fry-up for me, eggs on toast for the missus, pancakes and noodles for the kids, along with several litres of milkshake. Then we spent some time throwing stones around the rockpools, while Owen built up a collection of rocks: We drove along the coast, a kind of mini Great Ocean Road - only without the busloads of tourists, then scaled a small hill with the Ataturk Gallipoli memorial on top. More driving, until we got to the top of Mount Victoria, for a

Day two of our NZ campaign

We started with a walk along the sea front: We found a play park, a restaurant that used to be a boat, and a swimming pool. We wandered further into the city. Lunchtime, so we selected a cafe based solely on what was on all the tables: Turned out to be yummy. We accidentally found the cable car and so took a ride to the top: Great views, botanical gardens, bit of a stroll, cup of tea, job done. Back down, bit more of a wander. Found the civic centre where Wendy squeezed some giant kiwi balls: We wandered around the museum for a bit, but by then everyone was knackered so we headed home. Up the cable car: Had a cup of tea while Wendy slipped into a coma and the kids watched Cartoon Network. Then a trip back to town for a curry at Massala on Allen St (very tasty), where they also serve this: Very light, refreshing, almost a sweet taste. Returned home, failed miserably at getting in touch with a friend, although we did find out that text messages sent from Australian phones can t