Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It’s arrived

October 26, 2010

They are a quick bunch, those Kindle people.

I ordered the kindle at 6pm on Friday and it arrived to my door here in Australia at 10:30am on Tuesday.

So I started to  fill it up. First in there was the complete Jane Austen for my wife to read. Then ‘Fiction Writing for Dummies’ for me. Konrath’s ‘The Newbies Guide to Publishing – Everything a writer needs to know” was next. Alice in Wonderland, of course, ‘How to publish on Kindle’, other stuff.

I will check back after I’ve read something.

 

Kindle and all that

October 25, 2010

I’ve gone over to the dark side. I bit the bullet. I splurged and spent and am now awaiting delivery.

I ordered an ereader, a Kindle.

But that doesn’t make me a bad person.

Bundy Again

June 9, 2010

OK, I’ve been struggling with the character of Bundy. Or perhaps I should say I’ve been struggling with how to get his story onto the page. So I decided I needed some inspiration. I drew him.

I regularly engage an art therapist to run sessions with my clients. I sit in on them because they allow me some personal exploration that I value. Sometimes I take my cues from the meditation that the therapist leads, other times I follow my own plan. This time I decided to draw Bundy.

It’s ironic that the goal of the art sessions is for my clients to find the more positive things of the life that are so often hidden within, but my goal on this occasion was to explore how evil effects a person. Here is the drawing. It’s in soft pastel crayon, which is very nice to smudge around the page.

Bundy the firesetter

Beware Of Books

March 14, 2010

Beware Of Books is a schools initiative here in Australia. It aims to encourage reading and writing for school-age kids.

For the next two weeks I am their guest author, answering questions from school groups on a forum that we’ve set up.

If you have teenage kids and their English or Library class is not involved, send them in this direction –

http://www.ozprojects.edu.au/course/view.php?id=27

Books for Little Kids

September 23, 2009

Some years ago I wrote a story for a little kid’s picture book. I had two things in mind. I wanted to invent a new word. And I wanted the book to have a bitter-sweet theme. The inventing a new word was just a bit of creativity, a fun thing. The bitter-sweet edge was because not all children experience life as sweetness and light, love and kindness. Not even in a loving and caring family. I wanted to say something about that somehow.

The story is still sitting on my computer. It’s been waiting for something. I didn’t know what until recently.

A friend listened as I told the story some years ago. She is a very creative person and I trusted her judgement. I described each picture lightly and put in the text. The new word kept her engaged as she tried to figure out what it really meant – the story is not really clear in that and the reader has to sort out the ambiguity. But when I got to the end she erupted with anger. “That’s a sad story!” It was not a good response, it shut me down. And there I left the matter.

And I left the story. Until finding myself at an illustrator’s workshop at the recent CYA Later writer’s conference. The leader of the workshop had lots of little kid’s books, his own and other author/illustrator’s work. And guess what? There were books there with bitter-sweet themes, sad stories, not all sweetness and light, not all happy endings.

So I am on the up with this story. It needs work yet. But it’s not dead.

The conference had an illustrator’s competition. The first and second place winners were both extraordinary work. I loved them both. I looked at the first place entry and thought, “This style of art would be perfect for my story.” There was no name of the illustrator given so I resolved to find out who it was, but every time I ran into the organisers I forgot completely. At the end of the day I helped get things packed up and then a bunch of us went out to dinner. Imagine twenty people down both sides of a long table. My publisher was directly opposite and he greeted the woman next to me with, “Well, don’t just sit there. Show us the certificates.” And out came her certificates for taking first and second place in the picture book illustrator competition.

Sometimes things just fall into place. We talked about her work, and we talked about my story. So it’s back in the land of the living and with a bit of tidying up it’s going to start the rounds of submission to publishers.

Mental Health First Aid

August 26, 2009

I’ve worked for many years in an environment where a significant proportion of my clients have mental health issues. The environment? Prison chaplaincy.

Most prison inmates have, or have had, some kind of mental illness. And in my present work area, post-release support, the trend continues.

But one of the anomalies of this work is that there has been no training for recognising, understanding, or dealing well with mental illness. This week that changed.

Mental Health First Aid is a program of education similar to medical first aid courses. Instead of teaching people how to deal with physical accidents, it aims to teach people how to recognise mental health issues, how to respond in a crisis, and who to call for follow-up treatment.

This week I spent two days learning the basics. Perhaps I should say, trying to learn the basics. The course was packed with information and I came away, not only with the standard book produced by the training organisation, but with more pages of additional resources than I can get through in a week.

Perhaps the most profound thing for me was learning the extent to which such things as MRI scanning have contributed to understanding what goes on in the brain, thereby enriching research into mental illness treatments. The course was filled with references to dopamine, seratonin, SSRIs and such things. But underneath it all was the passion of people who’s goal is to see the fine balance of brain function restored to those who suffer in ways we outside can’t really understand.

The people running the course are www.mhfa.com.au
Check them out for courses running in your area.

The Rear View Tourist

August 21, 2009

The traffic to work recently has been a bit slow. I think it’s because the school holidays are over and everyone’s back on the road. And with the slow down there’s more time to do stuff in the car. That means that there’s more to see in the rear view mirror.
For example, in the last week.

A woman doing her hair with a pencil.
She had what in a previous age would be an Afro, or what the Pacific Islanders call ‘big hair’. It was bunched up through a head band so it all pointed upwards and spilled out over the top. There’s probably a name for the style. And the woman had the pencil poking into her hair and spiking it up and out. It was a complicated thing to be doing with her head tilted over to one side so she could see herself in the mirror, and all the while slowly drifting along with the traffic.

Man in bright yellow gloves.
I mean bright. Fluorescent worksafe yellow. It was a cloudy day with a grey overcast. His car was dark grey. The inside trim was dark grey. And in the middle of all the greyness, two hi-vis yellow gloves on the wheel.

Woman flossing her teeth.
It was not a pretty sight. Nuff said.

Driver hitting little sister then bursting into tears.
This was as I was driving home from work. The driver on red Ps, probably 18 years old. The little girl junior high school age, 12 or 13. The younger one sitting sullenly. The driver getting more animated and ferocious, until she leaned over and started bashing into the younger one. I was about to get out of my car and do a bit of “You bash little kids you get reported” when she burst into tears. The traffic started moving again. Some things leave me with that feeling of not doing what was needed at the time.

Man putting on tie at traffic lights.
Luckily it was not a windsor knot, the lights don’t stay red long enough at that intersection.

Woman on phone.
We’ve all seen people on the phone while driving. Here in Australia it’s illegal. This woman was using a novel ‘hands free’ approach. She had the phone sitting on her shoulder and her head tilted at an extraoardinary angle to lock it into place. That must have been more dangerous than holding it in her hand.

Kid swinging a shovel.
Yep, you read that right. He was in a booster seat in the back and waving a little kid-sized garden shovel around. It was easily long enough to hit the driver in the back of the head. I saw no blood, so I imagine they both got to where they were going.

You know you’ve been away for a long time when your blog forgets your login deets.

March 31, 2009

Long title, eh? Gotta love a long title, it means a short post.

Been on holidays.

Been learning the art of making Kinetic Typology videos.

Been searching for the voice for a video voiceover.

Lots of beens.

But mostly, I wanted to get a post up before April Fool’s Day. Just seemed important somehow.

It’s About Motorbikes Again

January 13, 2009

Sorry Folks,

But you know what it’s like with a one track mind. Well, some of you do. I’ve been riding motorbikes for more than forty years, seems they just won’t stay away.

The next door neighbour came home from holidays. The wagon was packed, and the trailer was packed. And in there was a little Thumpstar dirt bike. One of those noisy things that scream up and down suburban streets before the kid is old enough to hold a license and go far from home.

I noticed the bike. The neighbour said it wasn’t running properly. He’d just bought it from a relative for his boy for Christmas but so far it was a bit of a disappointment. I asked what it was doing, he told me, I suggested a couple of possibilities.

The next day he asked me to have a look at it. And so before long I was teaching his ten year old son what makes the wheels go round on his bike. Most of the problems that develop with these little bikes is caused by some bloke who thinks he knows what he’s doing. Mostly he doesn’t. And he makes it worse. That is what had happened in this case. The problems were all home made by the previous owner. At least my neighbour knew enough not to try to fix it himself.

The second afternoon of working on the thing we got it running hot and strong. The boy took it out the next day and rode it from lunch time to almost sundown. The next day he took it out again but only lasted until the locals couldn’t stand the noise any more.

I suggested that he will be able to ride it longer at a time if he gets a quieter muffler. That’s a tough call for a little kid who is rapidly getting addicted to noise.

I’ve added to the noise pollution of the area a bit, but I’ve also got a ten year old thinking about what is really going on in that carburetor. All in a day’s work.

Jesus Crashes Speedboat

September 2, 2008

… and gets away before his Dad finds out.

It’s about Whales

August 15, 2008

Just a nice story that I was reading in a waiting room boating magazine.

First, perhaps I should give a gold medal to the waiting room that had a boating magazine in the first place. It’s a bit of a cosmic anomaly, considering that every other waiting room in the cosmos only has women’s mags filled with photos of how fat film stars are in daily life. So there you are, Mr Anonymous Waiting Room, take a gold medal.

And now to the story. It’s about whales. And about a sailing race in the Whitsunday Passage.

Above the waterline a bunch of sailors try to concentrate on things like windshifts and windward legs. Below the water line one mother whale frolics with her calf, and another mother whale gives birth. Who could concentrate on the race with that happening beside the boat?

Every Point Counts

August 12, 2008

You know the trouble with the Olympics? It’s that we get bombarded by sports commentators. There is no more inane group of people on the planet. There orta be a law…

I’ve just watched Michael Phelps winning his next gold medal. The sports commentators comment? “Michael Phelps is the Tiger Woods of swimming.”

So I changed channels. Call it survival.

The other channel was showing the badminton, Korea vs Indonesia, mixed doubles. After one very fast play the commentator scored another win for inanity by putting on her most profound tone of voice and saying, “Every point counts”.

Where do they get them from?

Not another blog on Beijing’s Opening Ceremony

August 10, 2008

‘Fraid so.

But not a long one.

It was spectacular. It was entertaining. It was choreographed. It was synchronised. It was of the essence of Chinese culture, we were told.

It was empty of personality. It was empty of individuality. It was the attack of the clones. It was of the essence of totalitarianism.

There, that should to it.

So many reasons

December 30, 2007

It’s Christmas time and I have to arrange all this Christmas stuff for work.

I’m moving to a new job in another city early in 2008 and it takes lots of time/worry/effort to do that.

I’m trying to sell a house and buy another one so we have a place to live in the new city. Heaps of time/worry/effort in that pair of activities.

I had to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race.

My son and his wife are on holidays and we are looking after their four year old daughter. Grandparents have heaps of time — but only for going to the park or reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar several times a day. Today we went down to see the newborn foal not far from here, that took a bit of time. He’s very friendly, so is his mother and older brother from a few years ago. Just the kind of family we needed to introduce the world of close up horses to a four year old.

Oh yeah, the dog ate my homework.

So there you have it, all sorts of reasons why I haven’t added anything to the blog for two weeks. And soon it’s New Year, and then we’re going on holiday, and then we’re moving house (as long as we can find a house to move into) and then the new job starts up with a vengeance. So it might be another gap before I post the next time.

So have a Happy New Year y’all out there.

Selling

December 5, 2007

It’s true. Nine years here and we are on the move. It’s the longest we have lived in the same house for the past 32 years.

house 01

See more here — http://users.tpg.com.au/kkmiller/House/

And we’ve decided to see if a couple of old dogs can learn a new trick. We are selling the house ourselves without using a Real Estate Agent.

Can’t be too hard. We’ve sold a car or two without professional help. And we managed to sell the children off for scientific experiments a while back. But that was when such a thing was fashionable. That fad seems to have gone the way of the Edsel.

Oh yeah, also sold Grandma as I recall. It was my business partner put me up to that. “You’d sell your own grandmother,” he used to say whenever I got the best in a deal. I could never figure out why he complained, after all he shared the profits.

Anyway, now it’s the house. Any takers?

What I really mean is, “Any buyers?” We are not really interested in people who want to just turn up and take it. Please don’t take offence.