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May 31, 2010

Teaser

Here's a very little something I kinda wrote today...

They built him to kill.
They built him to rule.
They never planned on him falling in love...

May 06, 2010

New Halo Within Reach

My latest gaming article for The Cairns Post was published today in both the timeOUT lift-out (page 14) and on the cairns.com.au website. It's about the public beta test of the multiplayer component of the upcoming Xbox 360 game, Halo: Reach.

I'll have to find out which Cairns gaming stores are doing the inevitable midnight launch...

May 03, 2010

Shifting Dead Trees and Culling Dead Plans

I might whinge and bitch about hard work sometimes, but it's great for clearing my head.

It's the Labour Day Long Weekend here in Queensland. Vickie and I had some undefined plans, including Iron Man 2 and the local Blues Festival which a friend had given us tickets to. But when my stepson Karl showed up on our doorstep on Saturday afternoon with chainsaw in hand, we seized the opportunity to tend to our yard, neglected and overgrown with all the rain of late. (Remember how I mentioned that the rain had finally gone in my last big posting? Spoke too bloody soon.)

Well, when I say “we”, I mean “Vickie”, because I'd been wanting to get her out of the house for the Blues Festival. But Karl not only had Saturday afternoon off but Sunday also, and Vickie reckoned we wouldn't get a chance like this for a good while. Judged honestly, we really needed to put the work into our garden. Some of our taller trees have been slowly rotting out; left untended they would have posed a danger to ourselves and our neighbours.

However, this meant yours truly was tasked with schlepping cut tree trunks and branches to Karl's ute and having vaguely-defined plans of a going-out-good-time kyboshed in favour of hard labour didn't put me in a good mood. Had I reasoned it out, I'd have realised that as we're skint right now, I'd have been worrying myself over the cost of drinks and nibblies. But I'd been guilt-tripping myself recently over how Vickie'd been trapped at home by some chronic pain, and hey, when does logic ever get in the way of a good grump?

So I was out the front yesterday, hauling hunks of wood about and digging myself into a darker mood. I think I'd somehow grumped myself onto the topic of all the things I ought to be doing that I hadn't had the chance to because of garden work, like my mate Ray's PC. If you remember the parable of Ray and Ron from a few weeks ago, you'll know that Ray gave me his PC to have a look at (as part of my whole home-tech-support-business-as-a-sideline-job idea) while we loaned him an older one of ours. I'd set aside a day to strip it down and clean it out, but on that day the weather cleared after a long spell of rain and I figured I'd better mow our overgrown lawn before Vickie committed a justifiable homicide.

The next time I tried getting Ray's PC working Vickie was a bit grumpy, although I think that was because I had to borrow her monitor to check his PC (there's a whole issue with monitor ports I'll explain later if you're interested). Still, this was bothering me. How come Vickie would prefer I not do something that could help us out financially, especially as we're a little hard up money-wise right now?

Then I realised something. I'd been working to a rudimentary plan for the past while: Take up tech support as a sideline, turn it into a full-time, own-boss job that ought to pay better than my current one, then take up writing as a sideline.

Only yesterday, after hauling some weights about, did I see the obvious flaws with this plan:


  • As much as I like to dabble with computers, I don't enjoy tech support. I really don't.
  • Writing is what I really want to do. And I know I enjoy it. Hey, I'm enjoying writing this right now, even though I'm writing about my grumpy mood of yesterday.
  • If I honestly reckon I can make some money off doing what I like, why am I planning to chuck in my job at a freaking newspaper company, which by definition involves making money from writing, to try to make money from doing something I don't like? (Let's not forget that I've been reviewing complimentary copies of not only books, but also video games for the paper.)

I will admit, having a plan, even a bad one, feels better than not having a plan at all (as was the case for most of my adult life). But I think that's why Vickie was grumpy when I was fiddling with Ray's PC: She knew I was forcing myself to do something I didn't want to do in the name of some overall goal and that the only thing she could do was wait and watch until I clued into it myself (you can lead a horse to water and all that).

After that, I had a great rest of the day helping clean up the yard.

I've since spoken with Ray, and we've decided that we're going to go to Hardly Normal's and The Good Guys on Saturday to shop for a new PC that'll meet his requirements rather than slog on trying to get his PC or our loaner working properly. I've also got to sit down and start doing the kind of thinking I was previously only doing for my tech support sideline (well, actually, meaning to do, as I was largely avoiding any serious thought about it), like thinking about my work as a product, making it (and myself) attractive to audiences and publishers, finding out what opportunities are available to me at The Cairns Post from a writing standpoint. Scary stuff, to be sure, but it still feels better to think about than trying to work out how to make a living off computers felt.

Yard looks much better, by the way. Well, some leaf detritus is lying around, but a few trees less has made a huge difference.