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July 23, 2011

New Website On The Way

You may have noticed that imagines.herstik.com has been a bit quiet of late. That's because I'm in the process of moving my stuff over to a new domain powered by WordPress. Don't worry; the awesome Marcus Herstik is still hosting and supporting it.

Continue reading "New Website On The Way" »

April 03, 2011

Sunday Diary Scan: Reading About Writing

Good evening all – good late evening, I should say – and welcome to Diary Scan #4! I think these have been working out well so far, especially when Vickie and I have been busy. Last week was a little on the ho-hum side, though; I'll just have to stay more busy!

On Tuesday, Un-United played the first official match of the current indoor season against a team called Hapless Tribe. As team captain I ought to sue the Tribe for misleading advertising in their team name; that was a real slog of a match (then again, our team is Un-United, so maybe the pot'd just be litigating the kettle). The first quarter closed with them leading five goals to two. We fought our way back and managed to claw a one-goal lead a couple of times, but they pulled ahead of us again in the closing seconds of the last quarter. Thankfully we equalised at the end for a nine-all draw! A great match and I was happy to shake their hands once it was done.

Continue reading "Sunday Diary Scan: Reading About Writing" »

March 27, 2011

Sunday Diary Scan: Soccer, Surgery & Sausage Rolls

Welcome to the third Sunday Diary Scan. This week has been fairly quiet, and I managed to rack myself up a seven day chain on my thousand-wards-per-day calendar before breaking it on Saturday. More on that in a sec.

The indoor soccer season officially started for my team, Un-United, with the receipt of our match schedule for the rest of the season on Tuesday. We also played our final pre-season match, but although we were able to field a full team, our opposition wound up three players short - so they had substitutes from a team at least one grade above us. We notched up two goals by the end of the match, while our opponents left the field with something like fourteen goals on the board.

Continue reading "Sunday Diary Scan: Soccer, Surgery & Sausage Rolls" »

March 20, 2011

Sunday Diary Scan: The Gastronaut

Evening everybody! It's Sunday, which means it's time for the second Sunday Diary Scan!

If there were one word that'd sum up last week, that word would be "gastro". No, not as in the wonderful pursuit of food; your humble writer was atually off sick for three days of the last working week (for you foreign readers, "gastro" is a typically Aussie abbreviation of "gastrointeritis"). Dutiful employee that I am (not to mention trying to maintain my rep for being The Guy Who Doesn't Come Down With All The Crap Everyone Else Gets), I tried going to work on the mornings of Monday and Tuesday, but went home shortly afterward on both days. Wednesday I just decided to put my feet up and wait the bastard out. I had a few twinges in the gut on Thursday and Friday, but overall I was good.

Unfortunately, Vickie came down with a dose of it too; see, they tell you to not pass it around to everyone at work, but what about the one you love at home? Said person could kill me for giving her my bug, and then where would my employer be, I ask you? Where?

Continue reading "Sunday Diary Scan: The Gastronaut" »

March 13, 2011

Sunday Diary Scan: The Inaugural

Greetings, gentle reader, and welcome to the first Sunday Diary Scan. Vickie and I bought these lovely big diary/planner/journals at a newsagent near the end of last year, and I've found mine so handy that I've been keeping pretty thorough records of what I've been up to. When I started thinking of ways to post more frequently on the blog, the diary came to mind immediately!

Let me open, therefore, by recommending that those in the market for a diary consider the 24Hr Home & Work Diary from Collins Debden.

With that done, what have I been up to this last week? Mostly grumbling at the rain. Yasi may have come and gone but we've still got a lot of nasty wet season cloud around. Still, I discovered on Thursday night that the sound of rain on a corrugated iron roof is great for just sitting and thinking! I made some progress in getting the ideas swirling about my noggin for Slamdance world-building out of my head and onto paper that evening.

Continue reading "Sunday Diary Scan: The Inaugural" »

November 27, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2011?

Almost forgot: You bet I'm entering NaNoWriMo again next year. I even promised folks on Facebook that I'd do some more Slamdance. I figure by then I'll have a lot of the things I need to iron out, well, ironed out by the time November 2011 rolls around and I'll be in a good place to write the silly, power-fantasy-driven action-adventure version I have knocking around in my head instaed of the semi-serious adventue SF it might wind up being.

November 26, 2010

… And It’s Done. But Not Yet.

At the end of last month, I posted that I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, an annual writing challenge that started in one corner of the States but, as is the way of Web-based things, spread around the globe. The aim of the challenge is to write fifty thousand words of the first draft of a novel with, at the most, only an outline to work from. You can’t continue a project that you’ve already started drafting; the most you can have done in terms of preparation is an outline.

So, with no idea whether I was capable of succeeding and with little forethought, I signed on to the NaNoWriMo website a few days before the end of October and built a chapter outline for a sequel to H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. On the morning of November the 1st, I got up at 5:30 in the morning and started writing.

Today, November the 26th, I achieved the 50,000-word goal of the project.

Continue reading "… And It’s Done. But Not Yet." »

October 28, 2010

The Man Your Man Could Write Like

Folks have been sending out Movember sponsorship e-mails all afternoon at work, so I sent this:

Hello, Posties. Look at the man in this picture. Now back to me. Now back at that man. Now back to me. Sadly, he was me. But I stopped growing facial hair and started using my razor, so he won’t look like he’s me again!

Continue reading "The Man Your Man Could Write Like" »

October 26, 2010

Why Grow A Mo When You Can Grow A Book?

Most folks in the western world are surely aware of the upcoming Movember, an event intended to raise awareness of and money for the cause of battling depression in men. It's a simple event: starting with a cleanly shaven phiz on November 1st, participants must avoid shaving until November 30th, ideally chronicling the progress of their hairy horticulture and tonsorial topiary in photographs as they go and getting people to sponsor them.

I'm not stranger to it; a couple of years ago I joined a team at work and grew a very mangy shrub above my upper lip before a very, very grateful shaving on December 1st. I felt as though I had a scab on my upper lip throughout, one I couldn't resist picking at. After that horrid, horrid month, I quoth-ed the Raven: “Nevermore!”

However – Well, not really however, but... This year, another charity event has caught my attention, and I reckon it's right up my alley.

Continue reading "Why Grow A Mo When You Can Grow A Book?" »

April 13, 2010

That Fresh Taste

Third reason to be cheerful? Continuing on the topic of computers, mine is back up and running properly! I mentioned in my last post that I'd discovered that the solution to some hardware faults is to strip the guts out of the PC and clean the dust and mould off the case interior and every component.

Mould might seem like an odd issue, but these are the tropics and we have just come out of the wet season; moisture is abundant and PCs have plenty of nooks and crannies for it to gather in. Although my case is well ventilated with lots of big-ass fans, I try to teardown / rebuild it every six months, twelve at the outside. Only a couple of rooms in our house are air conditioned, and the computer room isn't one of them.

Continue reading "That Fresh Taste" »

March 07, 2010

Air (Head) Gap

Whoops! Sorry, folks, false alarm. Turns out the cause of the screen-not-displaying problem wasn't my video card or anything else in the CPU case; it was an air gap between the DVI video cable and the screen. I noticed after I dragged Vickie's old PC down from the lot and tried running it, only to have it do the same thing.

So I'm currently re-installing everything under Windows, including Steam and Left 4 Dead, and will get to Ubuntu a little later.

Phew! Talk about an exhausting error-check, though. Getting the old PC down from the loft is a pain...

February 15, 2010

The Wonder of Electronics

In case you're wondering, I'm still without PC right now. No, I didn't clean it out as promised over the weekend; it was so stinking hot that I didn't have the patience or steadiness to fiddle with screws and static straps. Instead I ironed, and it was during the course of setting up to iron that I discovered that our DVD player has crapped out (yes, I like to watch DVDs when ironing; yes, I even like to watch Iron Man while ironing). I don't know how, but from the sounds of it (or lack thereof), the mechanism that lifts the disc off the tray and spins it isn't working.

Continue reading "The Wonder of Electronics" »

February 11, 2010

Still Out of Order

In case you're wondering, yes, I'm still sans computer at home. The realm of the quandary has shifted, seemingly, from software to hardware, as the same issue has manifested itself after reformatting my hard drive. It's unlikely the keyboard, as I've tried two, but it could be the mouse somehow. A USB keyboard may also provide a workaround (both the keyboards I tried had PS/2 plugs) but my suspicions are still settled on a short circuit somewhere within the box. I think I'm just going to have to pull my PC apart, clean every component and hope for progress after reassembly.

This weekend. Between other engagements and cleaning priorities (you know, household stuff).

(Yep, Vickie's gonna kill me.)

Oh, erm. Interesting chatter about the office today regarding my role as game reviewer and the company's expansions into the digital space. More when I feel safe divulging details.

January 24, 2010

Cyclone Season 2010 Has Started

If you find Vickie and I a little hard to get out of the house at the moment, it's probably because we're working to make sure we're ready should a cyclone come our way. For those of you not in the region, we've already had one, Neville, form briefly North of us; as I type another, Tropical Cyclone Olga, is intensifying in the Coral Sea east of us and slowly making its way toward the coast.

Continue reading "Cyclone Season 2010 Has Started" »

January 16, 2010

Help Bungie Help Haiti

In case you're not already aware, Bungie, developer of the Halo series of first-person shooter games, is putting some cash toward the American Red Cross' efforts to aid those affected by the earthquake that struck Haiti a few days ago. They have special T-shirts on sale and are donating revenue from the Bungie Store, but as they don't ship outside the US, they're setting up a way for the rest of us to contribute just by playing Halo 3 and/or ODST:

Continue reading "Help Bungie Help Haiti" »

December 06, 2009

FreeMarket: Great Minds...

Looks like Allan Sugarbaker of Ogre Cave and I are on a similar tack:

I think everyone who’s interested in the technology of roleplaying should have a look at this. It’s the first game I know of that truly reverses “kill them and take their stuff” – all the way into “no one can die and you want to give them all presents.” And yes, it makes that work, turning it into a tense, motivating, probably hilarious saga of social climbing and idealisms of all sorts.

November 16, 2009

Vickie Doing Well!

A quick break from my usual nerditude to let everyone know that Vickie came through today's surgery well! She should be out of hospital by the end of the week!

November 10, 2009

Local Gaming Editorial Content

Ladies and gentlemen, I am officially a published columnist. Click on the link below to feast your eyes on my article on what I like to call "got your back gaming"!

The Cairns Post, November 10th, 2009, Page 15

(Adobe Reader required.)

September 13, 2009

Heavy Gear Going Again

I mentioned on Friday that I'd been getting rid of my Heavy Gear books. Well, I've just re-listed all of my remaining Heavy Gear books on eBay. They're Buy It Nows, so if you're not interested or can't meet my price, please pass the word on to anyone you think might be. If they don't sell and you'd still like to take them off my hands, let me know!

September 10, 2009

The Nerd Report: September '09

Late last year, while talking with Vickie about What I Wanted To Do With My Life, I had the idea of starting up a sideline helping people fix computer problems. I haven't done a great deal with the idea since I suggested it; I put a couple of flyers up and got some sporadic work from a mate of mine, but that's about it. The next stage is to do up some more flyers to be placed strategically in the local area, but I keep putting it off or talking myself out of it; the only real reason is because it seems such a big step outside my comfort zone.

I'm way overdue to do a rebuild of my PC. Windows XP is doing some really odd stuff, and I think the only way to fix it is back up what I need and reformat the bastard. My flirtation with Linux continues, although it hit a speed bump when the latest distribution of Ubuntu (9.04) decided it couldn't play sound. I have no idea why and the bug report I filed hasn't generated any real interest. I want to dedicate a weekend to getting the rebuild (XP, Ubuntu 8.10, then see if the Windows 7 RC1 code I got a couple of months ago is still valid) right, though, and we've wound up with other plans lately – the last weekend I dedicated to it, I couldn't find a critical part until I finally looked in the place I'd put it (which seemed logical at the time). So sometime before Christmas, one hopes.

Continue reading "The Nerd Report: September '09" »

The Big Catch-Up Post: September 2009

You know, it's amazing how – not addictive, that's not the word I'm looking for – no, how criminally easy Facebooking is. Now, I know all you futureheads out there have probably ditched Facebook like it was MySpace and are tweeting away like crazy or somesuch, but I don't even do any of the funkier stuff like send Facebook posts from my phone and I still feel like I'm blogging without, you know, blogging. It's a good chunk of the reason why my last sizeable post on IMAGinES was, let's see... Yep, around a month and a half ago.

Out of interest, you futureheads, what are you using as your preferred social communication tool nowadays? Is it all about the Twitter? Does Facebook still come in handy for inviting people to parties? Should I have not closed my MySpace down?

Anyway, I'm going to try and bring you folks back up to speed on what's been going on at Chez Serenity lately. (Yes, we call our house Serenity. I have to tame some photos and show you exactly why.) I'll probably have to refer back to my list of Facebook posts as I go.

Continue reading "The Big Catch-Up Post: September 2009" »

August 09, 2009

Executive Organiser

Bought in a period of sheer, pointless self-indulgence, I now wish to be rid of this organiser for which I have no use. Please bid and/or spread the word to anyone who could use it!

Heavy Gear On Sale Again

Well, I'm glad to say that my Sorcerer stuff sold for way more than I asked for, which is bloody great, but the Heavy Gear stuff didn't. So I've taken another $50 off my asking price and thrown in both of the Heavy Gear PC games. Again, if you're interested, please make a bid; if you know anyone who's keen, please forward the link to them!

July 28, 2009

A Legacy of Cold Cathode

You know, it’s perhaps worthy of note that you’re more likely to find glowing blue lighting inside a PC case than you are in an actual game. I make this rather off-the-wall observation because Disney is celebrating the twenty-seventh anniversary of Tron, the movie that served as blazing blue neon gateway drug to games for Generation X, in grand style – by releasing the test reel for its promised-but-not-yet-delivered sequel onto the intrawebs in high definition.

Continue reading "A Legacy of Cold Cathode" »

May 06, 2009

Not Quite Working As Intended

With his Xbox 360 Elite with Customer Service (again) due to a DVD drive issue (similar to the one I had with my regular 360 halfway into the warranty period), Karl started getting withdrawal symptoms on Sunday. He called and asked if he could borrow mine for a few days. I said yes; after all, Karl loaned me his while mine was last in repair (although he was also away on holidays) and it'd be a good way to cut down on the gaming time.

But you know what? Instead of playing Halo 3 and Halo Wars on my 360, I've started playing Dawn of War II and Team Fortress 2 on my PC.

I'll just have to go and lift some weights when the Gaming Urge strikes next...

May 03, 2009

Long Weekend and Live (or Not)

Hello and I hope that you’re having a good Long Weekend, if your Weekend also happens to be Long. It’s the May Day / Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend for us here in Queensland.

We’ve got a list of things we want to get out of the way before Tuesday. Primary amongst these is the restoration of the garden bed. We spent some of our Pennies from Kevin at Bunnings a week ago on two bags of chook poo (a.k.a. Dynamic Lifter) that need to be forked into the bed, but first we must uproot the copious amounts of weeds that have regrown since the last weeding (three weeks, maybe a month ago, I think). It’s not bad work, and I’m glad it’s overcast – well, actually, as I look out of the window now, it’s pretty sunny, so sunscreen, plenty of water and a hat are definitely a good idea. Thankfully, I have all three! Once the weeding and fertilisation are done, we’ll plant the selection of herbs and other veggies we bought along with the chook poo.

Continue reading "Long Weekend and Live (or Not)" »

April 25, 2009

Fitness and Family

It's been a pretty darned good last few weeks. Nothing really hugely life-shaking has happened, yet still there is noteworthy change.

If you've been checking my Facebook profile out lately, you may have noticed the odd bit of bragging about me swimming at the Lagoon of a morning. For those of you who don't know, the Lagoon is a combination artificial beach and swimming pool (as Cairns proper has mudflats instead of a beach). Well, combine that with weight work, time on a treadmill we're renting and healthier eating habits and I reckon I should be looking and feeling better pretty darned soon. My main priority isn't weight loss (my seventy-five kilos gives me a body mass index of 23, which is apparently smack in the middle of the “healthy” BMI range) so much as weight movement; I want to curb the encroaching man-boobage before it gets any worse. Incline bench presses, here I come...

Continue reading "Fitness and Family" »

March 14, 2009

They'll Have To Drag Me Out Of The Cinema

A visit to the Apple Movie Trailers site today drove me to check the Coming Soon page of Birch Carroll & Coyle, one of our local movie distributors. Now how're these for some huge months?

  • April
    • 29th: X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • May
    • 7th: Star Trek
    • 14th: Angels & Demons
    • 21st: Night At The Museum 2
  • June
    • 4th: Terminator Salvation
    • 25th: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • July
    • 16th: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

What? No, I wasn't planning to - well, I suppose it's got Dennis Quaid and Christopher Eccleston in it. All right then:

  • August
    • 6th: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Who needs an Xbox?

Anyway, tomorrow night, Vickie and I are off to see Gran Torino. The five star meal before the fast food binge, if you will.

March 07, 2009

Too Humid To Write - Yet Write I Do

In case you don't already know, we have this season's second cyclone in the neighbourhood. Tropical Cyclone Hamish has been lurking north-north-east of us since Thursday, but after heading toward land it's taken a course roughly parallel to the coast. It picked up intensity, becoming a Category 4 this morning, but thankfully passed Cairns by (dumping a load of rain as it did so, though). Unfortunately, it's still out there; the most recent tracking map puts it east of Cardwell and it looks set to ground somewhere around Bundaberg maybe mid-week. The Bureau of Meteorology expects it to intensify to a Category 5 early tomorrow but believe it'll drop back down to a 3 by Monday night.

Continue reading "Too Humid To Write - Yet Write I Do" »

February 27, 2009

Who Watches the Wingers?

A couple of weeks ago, Vickie said, “Once the rain settles and the heat eases, we are going to get away from the computers and the game consoles and get our lives back!”

And funnily enough, we're suddenly being given opportunities! The social club at work organised a deal by which members could get free tickets to tomorrow's NRL pre-season warm-up match between the Cowboys and the Panthers at Barlow Park for themselves and cheap tickets for family and friends. There's a mixer beforehand at a local restaurant, which should be fun!

And just today, a friend handed me a double-pass to a preview screening of Watchmen on Wednesday night! Having never read the graphic novel it's based on, it's gonna be an interesting experience!

February 16, 2009

For Sale: Saitek X-52 Flight Control System

In order to get a little more disposable income, I'm getting rid of my Saitek joystick on eBay. With it will go Combat Flight Simulator 2, DarkStar One and X3: Reunion. If you're interested, please bid, and if you know someone who might be, please let them know!

[Update 7AM Friday Feb 20th:] You can stop looking - a lovely fellow in NSW bought the joystick and games for my Buy It Now price! I'm posting it of to him today!

February 01, 2009

Last Landing

I went out on Friday morning before work to check my T-shirt and couldn't see the bat there. When I called Vickie from work, she told me that when she went to take my shirt off the clothes line, she found it inside the T-shirt, asleep! Vickie took it out and put it on the tea tree in our garden so it can get a feed of ants. I went to check on it after I got back home on Friday evening,and found it fossicking away in the tea tree, presumably feasting on insects.

Unfortunately, the weather set in that night; we have a low out in the Coral Sea which developed overnight into a Category 1 Cyclone, dubbed Ellie by the Bureau of Meteorology, and she's been dumping the rain for the last forty-eight hours. I went to have a look at the tea tree yesterday, only to discover a small, wet, bat-shaped lump attached to one of the branches. The poor thing wound up staying for the rest of its life.

January 29, 2009

Just As Batty As Last Year

So about an hour ago, I'm in our backyard picking up the dogs' bowls for dinner when something chitters at me. I try and see what made the noise but can't locate it.

Vickie, who's also out there, asks me what I'm looking at. I tell her that I think a gecko was in Ziggy's bowl and is having a go at me for upsetting it from its pozzie. I'm about to take the bowls inside when I spot something very small moving in a very un-lizardlike fashion on the concrete. "It can't be," I say. "Can it?"

Continue reading "Just As Batty As Last Year" »

January 14, 2009

Rise of the Bile

Okay, I'm personally aware of:

Does anyone know of any others?

Continue reading "Rise of the Bile" »

November 27, 2008

Too Baked to Blog

Hi, everyone. Sorry the web log hasn't been the most active lately. Temperatures have been in the low thirties most evenings and the computer room is usually the hottest, most humid part of the house. While we know that's not particularly good for our computers, we don't yet have the funds to install a decent air conditioning system. So blue-glowy cooling fans and laptop chiller mats are employed to make up the difference.

Maybe I ought to install some cooling fans on my noggin (a'la Detritus); that way I might be able to form coherent sentences, let alone ones with syllablically-excessive phraseology. In the meantime, expect posts sporadically, especially as workload has picked up drastically at work (so no more midday sneaky-posts).

November 04, 2008

Steve Jackson Games Publishing Heavy Gear RPG 4th Edition

Well, this is certainly a surprise.

On a whim, I browsed into the web page of Dream Pod 9, designers and publishers of the Heavy Gear roleplaying game. in the last few years, they've moved from RPGs to miniatures, pumping out the Heavy Gear Blitz rules and a whole heap of metal Gears, Hovertanks, GRELs and the like. The RPG line has remained strictly on the back-burner.

Continue reading "Steve Jackson Games Publishing Heavy Gear RPG 4th Edition" »

October 17, 2008

Someone Smarter Than You

"After the war, cryptographers spent a lot of time thinking about (how Alan Turing cracked the Enigma code). The problem had been that Turing was smarter than the guy who thought up Enigma. Any time you had a cipher, you were vulnerable to someone smarter than you coming up with a way of breaking it.

"And the more they thought about it, the more they realized that anyone can come up with a security system that he can't figure out how to break. But no one can figure out what a smarter person might do."

Cory Doctorow, Little Brother

Last night I was working on a huge post in response to an article I saw on BoingBoing yesterday about how the Australian federal government is planning to force Internet Service Providers to install filtering technology with the intent of preventing Australians from accessing illegal and child-unsafe Internet sites (the initial testing is apparently already complete). The general gist of the article was that, although I admire the Government's intentions, they were blazing a highway straight to hell, laid with flagstones of innocent sites locked off due to false positives, crippled Internet response and money wasted on circumventable blacklists.

Continue reading "Someone Smarter Than You" »

October 13, 2008

Social Networking

The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that the link to my MySpace page has been replaced with a link to Facebook. This is because I closed my MySpace page down a week ago. It had become a site for my PMS|H2O Clan membership, and as I’ve been winding down my involvement with the clan (heck, I’ve not touched my Xbox in two weeks; just look at my 360voice blog) I no longer saw any need to maintain it.

I was going to maintain my abstinence from social networking sites in general until Vickie, of all people, created a Facebook sign-on in order to communicate with a friend of ours in Sydney. As said friend is a good one, I figured “what the hell” and made myself a profile.

Continue reading "Social Networking" »

October 04, 2008

When the student is ready…

You know, sometimes I think I can understand the belief that there’s some sort of guiding hand behind this insanely complex world. No sooner do I decide that I want to start concentrating on my friendships, opportunities materialise. Yesterday, I was walking up the road from work to the library on my lunch hour, when I run into David, the fellow I met on the bus at the beginning of last year. We’ve only seen each other sporadically since my 30th birthday party in 2007; life has been a bit hectic for the both of us since then. Anyway, rather than go to the library, I head to a local café and have a forty-minute catch-up chat with him, at the end of which he decides he’s finally going to have Vickie and I over for the cuppa that he promised back in 2007, tomorrow.

Continue reading "When the student is ready…" »

September 20, 2008

A Man's Not A Man Without A Bag

My step-granddaughter, the one who’s off to the Navy in a scant few days, got me the coolest birthday present ever a couple of weeks ago. Well, it’s not really a birthday present; she bought it for me on the understanding that if she ever finds herself short $40 she’ll call the loan in. But I’m exercising my right as a curmudgeonly old step-grannddad and calling it a birthday present anyway.

It’s a Colorado canvas shoulder-satchel, or as the vernacular has it, a man-bag. And it’s bloody awesome. It’s smaller than the one I used to lug around with me back in Sydney, but I think that works out for the better as I’m rarely carrying as much around in it. I take it virtually everywhere with me. It’s got lots of pockets but it’s still really easy to find stuff in it. Plus I’ve received several compliments on it since I bought it.

Thanks, Chookie!

September 04, 2008

Semi-Medium-Biggish News on Sunday

Yeah, er. A handful of my reading public know about this already, but there's one more person I want to tell before I whack it up here. This will probably be sometime Sunday.

So watch this space.

On Sunday.

July 29, 2008

TR2N

I must admit, I've not been following the buzz from this year's Comic Con. I usually don't, not being much of a comic reader. The odd bit of cross-media promotion grabs my attention now and again, but by and large, Comic Cons pass me by.

But it's one of those cross-media promotions that grabbed my attention by the short-and-curlys this morning as I read the latest Sci-Fi Weekly news summary. At the end of a Disney panel promoting the next Dwayne Johnson film, Race to Witch Mountain, Disney came out with a "surprise presentation" - which turned out to be no less than a three minute test reel for the sequel to one of my favourite movies.

That's right: after years of speculation and months of rumours, Disney has just announced, in spectacular fashion, that it's working on Tron 2 - or, as the trailer would have it, TR2N. I watched a very dodgy bootleg of the video, complete with light cycles, refashioned identity discs and no less than Jeff Bridges himself.

It's rumoured to hit in 2011. I cannot wait.

June 14, 2008

Good Things Come...

In the midst of rising interest rates, skyrocketing petrol prices and gross grocery bills, it’s nice when live gives you something to smile about. For starters, publishers have glutted the office with comp copies of new novels, so I’ve been helping out by reading and reviewing some of them. Through this I’ve been introduced to the brilliant work of Scott Lynch; I’ve read both of his novels (so far) in the Gentleman Bastard Sequence, which is fantasy like I’ve never read it – street level, with a Tarantino-esque flair. Not even Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories have as much wit as The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies. Okay, maybe I’m slanging off a master just to get attention, but I really do prefer Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen to Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser.

Continue reading "Good Things Come..." »

May 08, 2008

Thankfully, The Brain Scan Didn’t Reveal Anything

Okay, now promise you won’t laugh.

The renovations have been proceeding pretty well. This afternoon, I was helping re-hang a curtain rod in our room. It was somewhere between four thirty and five, I think, and I’d just done drilling holes for the mounting brackets. I turned around and hopped off the middle rung of the low ladder I was on. There’s a CLUNG!, a bright flash and a sudden throbbing numbness near the crown of my head. I land on my arse, cursing myself for an utter twit for forgetting about our chrome ceiling fan – our running chrome ceiling fan.

Then the blood started to pour down my face.

Continue reading "Thankfully, The Brain Scan Didn’t Reveal Anything" »

April 04, 2008

Movies and Movie-Based RPGs

In a little under sixteen hours, I’m going to be running the fourth session of my Star Wars: Tarmadan Sector campaign for my players. Naturally, I’ve saved all the prep-work until the last minute. I doubt I’ll be burning the proverbial midnight oil, as I have some shopping to do tomorrow morning, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be up until around twelve to finish things off.

Last week’s Feng Shui session was fun. If you’ve never played it, Feng Shui is meant to encourage the kind of frenetic, stunt-laden set pieces seen in Hong Kong action films. Our GM, Leon, stripped out the standard setting in Feng Shui for one of his own, a cross between Blade and The Terminator where we players (Tracey, Patrick, Tracey’s daughter and myself) are trying to halt a future vampire apocalypse. I found myself coming up with lines of dialogue for my character more readily than improvisational stunts, and it was a great relief to be sitting on the other side of the GM’s screen again!

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March 29, 2008

Midnight Mumblings

It’s quarter past midnight, I’ve got a busy day tomorrow – sorry, today – and I’m suddenly struck by the urge to write a new post. Jesus, there must be an author in here somewhere.

I’d characterise things around here as “chugging along”, but that’d be doing those things a disservice. “Chugging along well,” that’s better. Work is still work. I’ve been asked to start using up some of my accrued annual leave, so I’m taking the three weeks after ANZAC Day so Vickie and I can get stuck into the final round of interior renovations. We’ve given up on waiting for Karlos to do our computer desks – let’s face it, though, the poor bugger’s pretty damned busy at the moment, and on top of all that, he and his wife have a newborn son – so we’re going to get stuck into it ourselves. After that, I’m taking the week after my birthday off. What? Take leave on my birthday? And miss out on work cake?

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February 24, 2008

It's Run Forrest Run For The Win!

Yesterday was a busy one. I finally caught up with Karlos for some Halo 3 in the morning, and managed to get my Team Slayer ranking up to 12. He’s been putting some serious hours in lately, cranking his Team Slayer rank up to 22. We played for a couple of hours before I want to the local pub to help the Lions Club with a raffle draw. We didn’t have much luck; since the pub converted most of its lounge area into a restaurant, there’s little room for people to sit and relax, so midday custom has dropped drastically.

After that, Deena, Chooks and I went out for the grand final of our soccer league. Our team won 13 to 10, and we each got a trophy for it! I’m pretty sure it’s the first ever trophy I’ve earned for a sporting event! Ater that, it was straight out to Barlow Park to help out on the Lions Club food van for a couple of hours, raising money for the club through sales of chips, hot dogs and steak burgers to the crowd who'd arrived to spectate the Cowboys vs. Titans charity match.

February 13, 2008

It Was Very Nearly Murder

A close thing indeed. Over a week ago, I was enthusing about the then-upcoming premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Then I leafed through the week’s TV guide and discovered it was premiering in the exact same timeslot as Women’s Murder Club, a new crime show based on the novels by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. As you can probably guess, this was a show Vickie was not about to watch on the TV in the bedroom, let alone miss. It could have been war, I tell you. A struggle for the remote control the like of which would never before have been witnessed.

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February 05, 2008

Some Good News for February

The rebuild went okay. My system is, I think, quite a bit more streamlined. I’ve installed almost everything I want to put on it, save Transformers: The Game and Guild Wars, the former because I want to find the USB receiver which allows me to connect my wireless Xbox 360 controller to my PC and the latter because we’re at three quarters of our monthly bandwidth limit and updating the client might take a gig or two. Spyware Doctor is working again, thankfully, and I’m browsing the web with little trouble.

There’s one hitch; it’s not bothersome at the moment but it’s something I’d like to fix when the next rebuild comes around. For some odd reason, Windows XP is now insistent that my Seagate Barracuda 320GB SATA hard disk drive possesses only 130GB. The BIOS disagrees with Windows, of course, reporting the full size on its settings screen. But, apparently, the BIOS is a pitiful moron compared to XP’s all-knowing wisdom, even though the last build recognised the drive’s full size. I have the feeling it has something to do with the SATA drivers I used and that I perhaps plugged the drive into the SATA ports controlled by the Intel controller instead of the Gigabyte controller like last time.

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January 30, 2008

Going Batty

Vickie’s just recently put a new post up on her web log. One very noteworthy item she writes about is the visit we had on Monday evening. I'm only wishing we'd managed to get a photo of the tiny creature before he left!

January 15, 2008

Bring On the Co-Stars

We’re slowly heading toward the end of the ratings-blank period for 2008, and the TV stations are already running promos for this year’s new and returning shows. Two of these have caught my interest, but not (well, not just) because of the plot or the leads – it’s the co-stars who I want to tune in and see.

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December 27, 2007

Christmas 2007

Merry Christmas, everyone! Yes, I know I’m a little bit late, but you know, what the heck! I have no Internet or computer outages to blame it on, I was simply eating!

So, yes, good Chrissie. Good indeed. Big brekky, prepared by my lovely Vickie (note the buttering up as my trying to keep out of the way wound up with me not helping when it was needed). Then it was a nibbly lunch and after that, everyone was so tired out, they went home, and Vickie spent most of the afternoon and evening sleeping. Me? Oh, I spent it with Mass Effect. I was at the point in the game where - hmm. How to explain it? It's like, there's this awesome TV series, but you've only been watching it when it comes out on DVD. You've polished off most of the show's first season, which has been good all the way through, and it's been gearing up to a huge finale in the last two or three episodes. You can turn the DVD player off and wait for a few days - or you can blitz through the last three in one big hit.

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December 04, 2007

Starting the Summer with a Bang

I'm starting to notice a pattern to the recent days here. In Cairns, we've just had some of the hottest days in the past few years, and of course out where we actually live it's been even hotter. The evenings, though, have been rainy, and not just that; we've been switching our sensitive electronics off at night for fear of lightning-induced power surges. I have the feeling we're in for a cycle; the hot days will draw the moisture out of the ground, making the humidity a killer, and at night the humid air will make for whoppers of thunderstorms.

Last night was particularly nasty. It started bucketing down at around eight, and the sky was regularly lit with flashes. Ziggy, our red cattle dog, started getting very agitated, pacing up and down the house, never settling, even dashing underneath my desk a few times. This, it seems, is his chosen comfort spot when thunderstorms are about. I wouldn't mind, but for the facts that (a) behind my desk is an assortment of hanging cables connecting my PC and peripherals and (b) my PC itself is situated on the floor, and Ziggy sheds more than an airport hangar.

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November 27, 2007

Three Days And Counting

Only three more days and then I can shave this damned moustache (although calling it such is an insult to moustaches) off. I know it’s all in a good cause, but I just cannot wit for it to be gone. I mean, look at this photo. Look at it. Twenty-two days, three weeks of mo growth, and it’s still a pubescent straggle.

Movmeber the 27th

I promised a photo of myself and the rest of the work gang, and here it is, taken on the 13th:

Movember the 13th, with Colleagues

We've had one casualty already. The ginger-haired guy, second from the left in the top row? He shaved a couple of days ago; apparently his girlfriend objected to the handlebars. A shame; a week ago, he was looking damn impressive!

November 22, 2007

This Mo Is Now Officially Subsidised

Sponsorships! I has some! Props to Daniel O'Connor for his donation, as well as Jayne and Gail at the office who've doanted offline. Jayne's offered me her sponsorship again if I last until December 1st.

You know, it's a bugger, as I was actually tempted to shave the bastard. I will be very, very glad when it comes off!

Anyway, sponsorships mean photos! I'l get one done tonight, and I'll also post a couple taken by work.

November 12, 2007

What, No Takers?

I don't believe it! Six days in and so far nobody's figured me growing a moustache is a good enough excuse to part with a few dollars! Come on, folks, this is me! The whitiest guy you've ever seen! The longest I've been without a shave is (maybe) forty-eight hours! I figured at least some of you would be in just for the novelty value!

You don't believe me. That must be it. Rob'd never grow a mo, that's what you're all saying. Well, have a look at this:

Cheap Wine and a Six-Day Growth

Okay, fine, it's still not a mo yet, but it clearly has the makings! And it's had twice the number of days than Jimmy Barnes!

If you need a reminder, check out the instructions in this post. Oh, and if any of you lot are in Movember as well, I want to know about it!

November 07, 2007

Movember Sponsorship Info

Here's what you need to know, folks:

During Movember (the month formerly known as November) Rob Farquhar is growing a Mo to raise funds and awareness for men's health and the fight against male depression and prostate cancer. Why...


  • Depression affects 1 in 6 men...Most don't seek help. Untreated depression is a leading risk factor for suicide.
  • Last year in Australia 18,700 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 2,900 died of prostate cancer - equivalent to the number of women who die from breast cancer annually.
  • Men are far less healthy than women. The average life expectancy of males is 5 years less than females.

To sponsor his Mo please go to http://www.movember.com/au/donate, enter his registration number which is 160452 and your credit card details. Or you can sponsor him by cheque made payable to the "Movember Foundation" clearly marking the donation as being for his Registration Number: 160452. Please mail cheques to: PO Box 292, Prahran VIC 3181. All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

The money raised by Movember is donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue - the national depression initiative which will use the funds to create awareness, fund research and increase support networks for those men who suffer from prostate cancer and male depression.

Movember culminates at the end of the month at the Gala Partés. These glamorous and groomed events will see Tom Selleck and Borat look-a-likes battle it out for their chance to take home the prestigious Man of Movember title. If you would like to be part of this great night you'll need to purchase a Gala Parté ticket.

More info is available at www.movember.com.

Movember is proudly grown by Commonwealth Bank, Holden, Schick and VB.

Movember is proud partners with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue - the national depression initiative.

November 06, 2007

A Passion for 'Tache-ing

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, observe ye this greasy skinned, sleepy-eyed visage carefully:

6th.jpg

'Cos over the next few weeks it's gonna be changin' like it's never changed before. Why, you might ask?

I've signed up for Movember.

Continue reading "A Passion for 'Tache-ing " »

October 04, 2007

September '07 Catch-Up

Hi, everybody. Another week-long break between postings. There’ve been a few reasons for that – busy-ness at work, a bout of illness and a dose of “OMG T3h n3w g4m3zz0rz!”.

On the work-related front, things have been in catch-up mode since Amateurs, the local equivalent of the Melbourne Cup. As my counterpart Imi (now there’s a thought – which of us is C-3PO and which is R2-D2?) was tied up with organising the invitation mailout, which had its own share of problems, things like entering ongoing ads in advance fell behind. Then I racked off for a week to go see Steely Dan (more on that later, maybe over on the MySpace), and shortly after I got back, Imi racked off for a week herself, touring and recording with some band friends of hers. So with only one of us on for two weeks, things got even further behind.

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August 26, 2007

It Took Me Eight Years...

... but I finally saw Dogma.

Ask anyone who's already seen the movie, especially fans of Kevin Smith's work, and you'll get a laundry list of reasons why the film should be seen by everybody. For me, reason number two is that, for all the profanity and gross-outs, it's honestly entertaining.

But then there's reason number one: If you've seen Alan Rickman in anything, you probably like him. If you've seen Galaxy Quest or Die Hard or Love Actually or Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, you almost certainly like him a whole bunch. But this little film does something that I'd never even conceptualised, let alone considered possible: It gives you the opportunity to love him.

August 25, 2007

Wonky Woofers

Our poor dogs haven't had a good time of it lately. A couple of weeks ago, we noticed that Zelda had started - well, not frothing at the mouth, so much, but her saliva had thickened, and she was licking her chops a lot, so her muzzle was covered in spit. She was also often scratching her right ear and eye. Vickie managed to get her into the vet's, who diagnosed her with a yeast infection and prescribed a daily regimen of pills, eye drops and ear drops. She's still on it; we still have a while before the pills run out.

Then there's Ziggy, who's been hacking away like he has a nigh-constant hairball. He's also vomited a couple of times, most recently last ngiht/this morning in the laundry where he and Zel sleep nowadays. We have the feeling that it might actually be worms, and Ziggy's regular medication covers heartworm only, so tomorrow Vickie will put an order in for some more dog-meds and I'll stop by the vet clinic on Mulgrave Road to pick a pill up for Ziggy's immediate consumption.

August 09, 2007

Channel Ten: The Good And The Bad

Did anyone else think that Julia Zemiro was robbed of an Honourable Mention in last night’s Thank God You’re Here? She was having a serious “on” night with that whole medical sketch. Just because Gleisner used to mock the usage of “stat” in that Medico Point radio comedy he used to do is no reason to expect Julia to do so as well, I say!

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July 10, 2007

Only An Hour Of Youth Remaining

Today was my second day of leave, and it's been a busy past few days! Jacqui and Kate arrived from Melbourne on Saturday; they're staying at the Colonial Club until tomorrow, so the past few days has been busy with getting the place ready for both their arrival and Friday night's big party. We've got around twenty people coming, and we've struck the idea of having a theme party - it's getting too damned cold up here of an evening for anyone to want to spend any length of time outside. On Thursday, we're taking our visitors on a trip to Port Douglas, followed by an evening screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (for young Kate's sake, you understand; no one else is particularly interested in it, especially not Vickie or myself).

And tomorrow is the big day itself, the day I turn thirty. Jesus, I know I have absolutely nothing to worry about - by any modern measure of age I'm still a good decade away from the halfway mark - but I do wonder where the hell the last twenty-nine years went.

Anyway, there shall be pictures, I'm sure, which I'll organise and put up on the MySpace photo album. Heck, I still owe you all those photos of me at Rhys' 21st, valiantly trying to down a yard-glass of bourbon and Coke.

Please note that I do not have the infromation required in order to give a certain response to the question of whether there will be a yard glass at my party. You'll have to wait and see. Or not. I'll probably be burning the negatives and erasing the memory cards.

June 29, 2007

Good Review News and Bad Review News

Well, the good news is that Transformers is getting some positive press. I've not been hunting down reviews, mind you, but I couldn't resist going to the website of At the Movies, a TV show hosted by long-time movie reviewers David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz, and they both gave the film a three-and-a-half stars out of five, along with some nice comments in the actual review. Mind that (on their ABC show at least) they've only both ever given five-star ratings to Brokeback Mountain and Good Night, and Good Luck; a joint three-and-a-half puts Transformers in the same league as Before Sunset, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie and Serenity.

For you American readers, David and Maragert occupy a similar cultural space here to that of Ebert & Roeper; most Australian urbanites know who "David & Margaret" are. Heck, Wikipedia tells me that both duos' shows share the name!

Continue reading "Good Review News and Bad Review News" »

June 14, 2007

You Only Live Once

Further to my last post: Vickie and I decided, "What the hell?" and splurged on two tickets (silver; the golds had all sold out) to Steely Dan. We're flying down to Brisbane on Sunday, September 16th, seeing the concert, staying overnight in a nearby hotel then flying back again on Monday. Naturally, I'm taking Monday off.

We figure, there's a chance Jeff will bring the tour out here again sometime, whereas Don Fagen and Walt Becker are such a pair of contrary bastards that we have on idea if/when we'll get another Dan album, much less when they'll tour again - if you're a Danfan, you'll know that they quit touring in the middle of their seventies career to concentrate on writing and recording and didn't tour again until the mid-nineties (the next album was still five, six years away). Besides, I've added all of the War of the Worlds tracks we own to my iPod nano's memory.

Plus, there's an upcoming development or two which makes taking more than a day or two off in September impractical. More on that as soon as some paperwork gets reviewed and probably signed.

June 08, 2007

Mynock

I dropped the car off at the local authorised Ford service centre yesterday morning – and promptly got a “she’s ready for pickup” call at midday. Turns out the ABS problem was caused by rats chewing through the sensor cable leading to one of the front wheels.

I was disappointed by the bill, though. I'd been dreading the repair work for a good few months because of the hit I was expecting we'd take to the mortgage, but I was really not expecting it to set us back one whole hundred dollars. This is going to change the spec for that upgrade I was planning quite severely. I might even be forced to get a more powerful laptop than I was originally planning now, maybe even a faster CPU for my PC as well. After all the drama I’ve had with our computers lately, it’s almost heartbreaking that, thanks to this bill for the car, I won’t be able to go ahead with my original plan.

Only almost, though.

May 14, 2007

Dangerous Dog

When I called Vickie earlier on, she told me she’d had another visit from a Council inspector. Ziggy has been officially listed as a dangerous dog, and we need to get the fencing situation sorted out as soon as we can. We also need to buy a muzzle, which he’s not allowed off our property without.

Vickie’s called some fencing places, and most reckoned they wouldn’t be able to get out to us for at least another six weeks, and that’s just to provide a quote. Thankfully, one place is sending someone out to take a look on Wednesday, so with any luck we should be able to move quickly. The inspector was happy with Vickie's assurance that, when not inside the house, we can keep Ziggy safely in the side run, so that's bought us some time. Still, we need that fencing done sooner rather than later.

Continue reading "Dangerous Dog" »

May 01, 2007

We're Gonna Need A Bigger Fence...

I just remembered; a very disturbing incident happened last week. A few weeks ago, a young couple purchased the house whose yard borders on the back of ours (a low fence with a gate separates them). We’ve met them once, after our dogs went spare at them while they were trying to get the place sorted out; they’ve yet to properly move in.

One weekday afternoon (I was, naturally, at work) Vickie chatting with the young bloke, Glenn I think his name is, over the back fence during one of his visits to work on the house. Our dogs were inside, and Brook, who’d just come home after school, opened the back door. Ziggy, our red cattle dog, immediately raced out, charged the back fence, vaulted the gate and lunged at Glenn, biting him on the arm! Vickie had to wrestle Ziggy back through the gate and into the dog-run at the side of our house. From what Vickie told me, Glenn was pretty badly shaken by the attack, and we all – especially Glenn – are very, very lucky that Ziggy only got his arm (instead of, say, his throat or face), and even then not deeply.

Nonetheless, we’ve had a Council inspector come around and serve us a notice that we have insufficient fencing around our yard to properly keep Ziggy within it, as he himself ably demonstrated. We’ve since made some room in our renovations budget for new, tall fencing panels, front and rear, and Vickie’s looking for quotes. We’re also keeping a much more careful eye on Ziggy in the meantime.

April 09, 2007

Frank's Two Thousand Inch TV

It all started on Saturday. We had our three, maybe four-stop shopping trip all planned out. First to Sportscene, for some new joggers for me (the lining of my last ones had come loose and were rubbing against my feet); next to Haven & Space (homewares store) for a browse; then Bunnings for soil and other garden supplies and possibly Melsonrock Garden Centre for some plants and herbs.

Things started to go awry, as they tend to, in Haven & Space. Vickie pointed out the complementary coffee table for our lounge suite (purchased from H&S last year, per the previous comment re: things going awry), which I said we'd think about getting. Then we spotted an entertainment unit nestled under a set of drawers, which went perfectly with our CD cabient in the living room (the entertainment unit, not the drawers). I figured the existing, multi-part, chipboard unit was due to be replaced anyway, and the one-piece looked the goods.

Then Vickie made the fatal mistake of jesting that we'd really need a flat screen TV for it.

And I took her semi-seriously.

Continue reading "Frank's Two Thousand Inch TV" »

April 04, 2007

Random Acts of Libraryness

Well, as I think I merntioned recently, I've been going through the Cairns Library's stock of SF novels at a rate of knots. I polished Eisenhorn off last night - an entertaining and gripping read, much more than just a product tie-in; it really made the Warhammer 40,000 universe human - and, as I had a little time today, wandered back into the Library at lunch to see what else I could get.

I suddenly found myself in the mood to broaden my palate a bit, and, eschewing my habit, browsed the non-fiction shelves instead of my regular haunt. I decided to just pick up four books that caught my interest. I nearly picked up an autobiography of John Glenn, but decided to stay away from space stuff for the moment. In the end, I walked out with:

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April 02, 2007

Shakin' Stevens

Well, I get into work this morning to discover that there's been an undersea earthquake this morning near the Solomon Islands, and that Cairns is at risk of a tsunami. Apparently we're supposed to start feeling any effects at around ten to ten this morning.

Of course, this'd have to happen on my first day of jury duty, wouldn't it?

Wish us luck...

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March 30, 2007

This Post Brought To You By The Colour Blue

That's right, folks; I'm typing this at you via my very own PC! I'm back up and running again, and all it cost was $200! On top of that, my PC is now glowing more blue than ever! How is my PC blue? Let me count the ways...

  • The original 12cm air intake fan on the front of the case, which glows blue.
  • The additional 12cm air extraction fan I installed on the rear of the case, which glows blue.
  • The 12cm air intake fan on my new CoolerMaster RealPower 550-Watt power supply unit, which glows blue.
  • The power supply monitor panel nested in my case's 3.5" drive bay, which glows blue.
  • ... and, er, the 12" cold cathode tube I bought with the PSU and mounted on the floor of my case (look, it was fifteen bucks, and I was buying the PSU from PC Case Gear anyway, so I thouht, hey, why not). Which. You know. Glows blue.

March 28, 2007

Give My Library More Good SF

I've been spending a bit of time at the Cairns Library lately, especially since discovering that it's actually rather well-stocked with good SF. Most recently, I've been gorging on the work of David Weber. He is awesome. My carnal lust for this guy knows no bounds. He is a master of mixing stories of warfare, with tactics, strategy, hardware and politicking, in with very enjoyable human stories. I got into him through his stories set in the universe created by Keith Laumer, the universe of the Bolos. In my opinion, of the many authors who’ve tilted at the Bolo windmill, his work has been the best.

As a side-note, it’s my firm opinion that the Bolo stories are the best anti-Terminator fiction I’ve ever read. You know what I’m talking about, right? All those thrilling tales about Man’s hubris and how his technological children will strike him down, from Big Arnie to the new Battlestar Galactica? Well, the Bolo stories could well be about that, given that Bolos are massive, self-aware tanks built to fight Man’s wars – except, in pretty much every case, it’s the Bolos, and the humans who command them, who teach Humanity about loyalty, duty and sacrifice.

Continue reading "Give My Library More Good SF" »

March 27, 2007

The Week That Was: March 2007

The new loan I mentioned a couple of posts ago came though, so we spent around a grand and a half on Sunday. First, we dashed off to the annual Home & Lifestyle Show, where we bought a new vacuum cleaner and a back massager (which I think Vickie will find invaluable). After that, we nipped over to Bunnings where we got a petrol-powered whipper-snipper, some new towel rails for the bathroom and down-piping for the gutters on our entertainment area. On that last, it looks as though I’ll be doing some digging fairly soon; we want to try and re-run our guttering from the backyard to the road. It’s already cracked in at least two places.

Continue reading "The Week That Was: March 2007" »

March 15, 2007

Crime Must Be Stopped - No Matter What The Cost

When I bought the Collector's Edition re-release of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds a year or so ago, I remeber being very surprised to discover that the most well-known song from that album - "Forever Autumn," performed by Justin Hayward - actually started life as a jingle that Jeff Wayne wrote for a Lego commercial. It was originally given lyrics by Paul Vigrass and Gary Osbourne after the jingle became so popular that people wrote in, asking whether there was any more of it (the out-takes CDs even feature the original jingle and the Vigrass & Osbourne single). As Jeff Wayne noted in the making-of DVD that came with the set, he was trying to write a tune like "Forever Autumn" for that moment in the Musical, but eventually gave up and used that tune instead (why not? It's a perfect fit).

In a curious parallel, I was reading a recent interview with Eighties power-rocker Stan Bush, a man beloved by Transformers fans because of his tunes "Dare" and "The Touch", which appeared in the Transformers animated movie. In the interview, he relates that:

We originally wrote "The Touch" for a Sylvester Stalone movie called Cobra, but the record company got the songs in "Transformers: The Movie" instead.

So all this time, when we thought Stan was singing about Optimus Prime, it was really Sly Stallone who had the "mighty hands of steel"?

I don't think I'll ever be able to listen to that tune in quite the same way again... :-D

March 09, 2007

The Local Gamers' Curse

You know, there must be a curse of some kind on Cairns gaming. When I called Vickie earlier this morning about something else, she mentioned an e-mail sent by Cristel, Simon's missus and fellow gamer. Turns out poor Simon's been felled by a stomach bug, quite possibly similar to the one that knocked me about last week (not that I've been within a kilometre of their place for a month or two). So no MegaTraveller tomorrow.

Seriously, did some gamer brutally murder some other gamer's PC, steal the character sheet and bury it in an unhallowed grave at some point? Because any concerted effort to get a semi-stable regular game going keeps getting flushed down the tubes.

Ah, well. At least it'll give Vickie and I the chance to get some shopping and yard-work out of the way.

March 02, 2007

Something In The Water

It must be, I'm sure of it. This ache in my gut that I've had for a week gets worse whenever I send a glass of water down to clear things up. I've seen the doctor, who say's it's something viral, with an outside chance of it being giardia. Anyway, I've spent Monday, yesterday and half of today off work; the two and a half days I was there weren't particularly fun.

I've got my first meeting with my mentee tomorrow, and after a day of rest (occupied mainly with Burnout 3) I should be okay for it. I can't really tell you how it goes afterward, as part of the mentoring arrangement is an agreement to privacy - I can't even tell Vickie. Speaking of my darling, she's finally received her blue card in the mail, so with any luck she'll get a call from CYMS about a potential mentee soon.

With any luck, Tracey, Patrick, Scott and I will be getting together on Wednesday night to get some more prep done for Burning Empires. Poor Scott, it turns out, was missing the week before last due to a sudden, extended trip to the hospital!

Continue reading "Something In The Water" »

February 23, 2007

Slogging Uphill

The past few days haven’t been really bad or anything, but I’m still wishing that the universe would stop trying to teach us something for a little while.

It’s been raining pretty heavily up this way lately. I’m not sure why I mention it, as the rain really hasn’t been giving us much trouble, but it’s been there.

We’ve not had much luck putting some cash aside for a new power supply for my PC. We’re already behind on saving for quite a few bills, and the rates – five hundred or so dollars of them – are due this coming Thursday. We can cover them, but we’ll be short a bit for a while, and we’re already overdue on heartworm medicine for our dogs.

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February 13, 2007

Feeling Very Milli Vanilli

Well, so much for the movie. As soon as we hit the Bruce Highway the rain hit us, and heavily. I started slowing down to ten, then fifteen kph below the speed limit so that I could have some confidence that my tyres were actually touching the road; even then I wasn't trusting that road conditions would hold to Cairns. After a quick discussion with Vickie, who made the point that we could well get cut off from home while we were at the cinema, I took the first turn-off leading back toward Gordonvale proper.

So we missed out an a free, probably very fun movie. I know what I'll do: Blame it on the rain.

Downs and Ups

As you might’ve gathered over the last few posts, it’s been a little hard going at Riverstone Road since the New Year. Christmas was immediately followed by a spate of birthdays, so what little post-Xmas cash we had was rapidly drained by even more presents. The gamers’ get-togethers over the past couple of months went ahead, but Vickie couldn’t make the Janaury one due to illness and we both had to bow out of the February one due to the aforementioned money squeeze – I wound up owing one of my workmates twenty dollars for the farewell lunch thrown for another of my colleagues, and I still owe Gav $15 for some comics I asked him to scrounge up for me.

Let’s not by any means forget Vickie, who had that horrid double-attack of neuralgia and toothache. The auction of my Heavy Gear books on eBay in order to cover some dental surgery managed to attract several watchers but no buyers. Thankfully, both of Vickie's pains eased – leading us to think that the toothache was just another symptom of the neuralgia – but with the heat over the last couple of days, Vickie’s getting pains around her abdomen. My poor love has no luck sometimes!

Vickie’s not the only one with heat-related ailments. As previously reported, our computers have been suffering under the heat and mine has committed suicide. So, yet more money.

Finally, Brook, who arrived in town last Tuesday evening, had her first day of school yesterday and is finding it pretty dull.

Continue reading "Downs and Ups" »

January 13, 2007

Leaving Over Christmas

Hello everyone! Apologies for the lack of posts recently; it’s just been so quiet and hot lately that I’ve not been at the computer too often – and when I have, it’s been to sate a new addiction. More on that later, though. This post is a little sombre, and I don’t want to switch moods in the same post.

Christmas was good. We spent breakfast and dinner at Karl and Jodie’s, coming home in between for a spot of light lunch. There were no family dramas, thankfully, although I think that may have been due to the family crisis. Rather than dwell on the details, let me just say that Jodie’s brother-in-law Kent suffered an aneurysm on the Friday before Christmas and passed away on the Thursday after. He left behind his wife Sheree (Jodie’s sister), daughters Tennille and Teagan and son Isaac. Teagan had only been born a few months earlier. The funeral service was Friday week ago, and most of Aloomba, the town just south of Gordonvale where Kent lived, turned out for it.

Continue reading "Leaving Over Christmas" »

December 18, 2006

Cairns Youth Mentoring Scheme

After rabbiting on about RPGs and PCs for a while, it’s time I posted about something else.

Firstly and most importantly, I’d like to give Vickie some public love; it’s two weeks and two days since her last cigarette and she’s been going great guns so far!

Secondly, Vickie’s most recent post on her website discusses our plans for next Christmas. One of her bullet points mentioned that the both of us are getting involved in a youth mentoring programme, and I’d like to write a little more about that.

Continue reading "Cairns Youth Mentoring Scheme" »

December 14, 2006

Live Again

Well, the good news is Internet connectivity was retored mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, my dicking around with the router and my IP address caused said connectivity to be extremely slow. I managed to get everything fixed up around an hour ago.

Telstra, We've Had A Problem...

Something screwy is going on in our ADSL modem. Before I left for work yesterday morning, it was working fine; by the time Vickie got up and went to her PC, though, its "always-on" connection had switched off and powring the modem off and on again didn't get it back. It seemed like general network trouble, and the automated phone message Vickie received when she first called BigPond's tech support line mentioend there were problems, but we still couldn't connect after those were resolved.

I spent some time on the phone last night with Telstra BigPond's technical support to no avail; they've kicked the issue up to Level 2 tech support who'll get back to us in the next two business days. In the meantime, the only Internet access either of us has is my work access, which I must be careful with.

So if you don't see either of us on Skype, ICQ, Yahoo! or MSN over the next few days, or your e-mails go unanswered for a bit, we're not ignoring you.

You could, of course, give us a ring if you have our number...

November 06, 2006

Standoff

Two of the Band of Brothers and the first mate of Serenity.

Does it get any better than that?

November 05, 2006

My LJ Friends Page

So it would seem that I don't need an active LiveJournal to have a Friends page, as long as I have a TypeKey ID. Which is cool, because this right here is my LJ, and having an active Friends page means I can access all the protected LJ posts I otherwise wouldn't see. I mean, there I was thinking Gav couldn't be arsed with his LJ because he seemingly hadn't posted since Stormtrooper Detachment Epsilon stood down (November 28th), but after becoming his LJ Mutual Friend, lo and behold the posts that suddenly revealed themselves!

So, yeah, if anyone else wants to be my LJ friend, just look for "ext-2136" or "imagines.herstik.com"

November 04, 2006

Confidence Trick

Work’s been picking up quite a bit lately; with the impending seasonal Holiday, we’ve had sales reps out with clients and clients calling in for ad space. Since Wednesday things have been moving at a cracking pace – and I’m rather enjoying it, to be honest.

I think it has something to do with actually trusting myself with the authority I have. It may not seem like much, but a few days ago, while one of my team was asking me to do something, two others approached me for my time. I actually told them “Ladies, I need three minutes.” They both said, “Okay.” and went elsewhere. I got what the first person wanted done out of the way fairly quickly and followed up with the other two. A small thing, yes, but for someone who’s not the best at standing up for himself, it was a significant thing. I’ve been working through the past couple of days with quite a bit more confidence.

Continue reading "Confidence Trick" »

October 29, 2006

Dining Rooms, Dogs and Fences

It’s been a busy week. I managed to put the finishing touches on the kitchen painting – there’s a little more we need to do, but we have to wait on Karl’s help with another sheet of Villaboard before we can really finish off. In the meantime, though, we shifted the furniture back into the dining room, which we’ve laid out in a much better fashion; the dining room table, formerly up against one wall, is in the middle of the room and we can get around it and the other furniture without a problem! Vickie made some very nice pictures for the dining room wall, and we had a minor splurge on Thursday night on some good picture frames. I’ll get some photos of the new setup!

Continue reading "Dining Rooms, Dogs and Fences" »

October 06, 2006

Happy Birthday, Vickie!

Well, with under two hours left to go in a day where I've let the kitchen and RPGs dominate my mind, I think I'm barely in with a chance of living out the rest of the day by saying:

Happy Birthday, My Lovely Sweetheart!

Now, to give her some more of that fantastic Turkish Delight from the cafe in Cairns...

September 28, 2006

Holy Shit - Halo: The Console-Only RTS!

Just found out about this today: Microsoft and Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires) are working on a real-time strategy game set in in the Halo universe, and it's only coming out on the Xbox 360!

But that's not all, it seems: Peter Jackson is getting into the games business. He's started a company called Wingnut Interactive and has announced a project with Bungie that will create "another chapter in the Halo universe".

Intersting times for Halo...

September 23, 2006

He's Still Alive.

This Just In: Top Gear's Richard Hammond has reportedly been moved out of intensive care and is making good progress.

Phew! Right when I was just starting to worry about a hat-trick, too. Not that Richard is an Australian celebrity, but - oh, you know what I mean.

Still, I can't help but wonder what sort of deal he cut with The Devil Of Motoring...

September 21, 2006

Richard Hammond Injured In Car Crash

You British viewers will likely know exactly whom I'm talking about: Richard Hammond, co-host of the BBC's Top Gear motoring programme, was seriously injured yesterday whilst filming for the show.

Vickie and I love the current incarnation of Top Gear and its three hosts; we watch the show (7:30PM Monday nights, SBS) almost as religiously as I watch Doctor Who. Hammond is great, and I hope he comes out of this all right.

UPDATE: Hammond has reportedly suffered a brain injury due to the crash, but a good recovery is still "reasonably optimistic".

Also: A brief history of Top Gear, and if you ever wondered what happened to the old Top Gear, check out Fifth Gear.

September 11, 2006

King of the Mountain

It’s been a busy few days:

Friday and Saturday was the Cairns Amateurs, a horse racing carnival treated with all the pomp and pageantry of the Melbourne Cup (on a local scale, of course). Naturally, The Cairns Post has a big representation there, and as every business who’s any business is also present all of the Post’s ad reps spent Friday there, with a rotating schedule for Saturday. Yours truly was left to man the phones; thankfully I had a backlog of bookings to keep me busy. I was asked whether I could help out on Saturday, but with a weekend of renovation work on the cards, I had to decline. So everyone else went and got pissed without me.

Continue reading "King of the Mountain" »

September 04, 2006

RIP Steve Irwin

I thought this was just idle office rumour, until a Brisbane Courier Mail article confirmed it: International celebrity Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin died earlier today at Batt Reef, Port Douglas (about an hour and a half's drive from where we live).

I was never a fan of Steve's but I doubt anyone had seen a celebrity of his energy and passion in a long while; the fact that he devoted it to the world about him made him even rarer.

I'm still hoping that a mistake's been made somewhere.

September 01, 2006

Where The Hell Do I Know Him From?

Here's a question for you lovely readers, especially those of you who enjoy TV crime fiction: Tonight on ABC screened the last episode in the latest series of the British psychological crime drama, Wire in the Blood. In this episode, the subject of lead character Dr. Tony Hill's first case is released from prison and questions are asked about Tony's interrogation of the man. Now, this character, Jason Eglee, is played by a man whose name (I think, from the glimpse I got of the cast list) was Gerry Conway. And I swear I've seen him on TV before, but I cannot remember where.

Vickie and I are doing a web search, but so far, we have had zero luck finding anything out about this guy, let alone finding a complete bleeding cast list for that episode (even ITV's website is utterly bleeding useless). So I'm hoping you fine folk out ther reading this posting can tell me precisely what this guy's done in the past so I can figure out where the fuck I know him from.

Anyone? At all?

(NOTE: We're both now pretty sure "Gerry Conway" isn't right; he's either a comic book artist or the drummer for the Grateful Dead.)

August 16, 2006

A week of ups and downs...

... and we're only halfway through.

Or more, maybe. I think.

On Saturday, Vickie and I took a bit of time out from the ongoing renovations to meet with Tracey, the dissatisfied gamer I met at Reefcon. We had a nice lunch at the Buckin' Mex Restaurant, during which we talked about games, Cairns, study, Canberra and a shared acquaintance (I'm looking at you, Sim). She'll be coming over our place on Friday to GM us some Shadowrun (which edition, I'm not sure). Yes, you read right, I'm going to shut up and play for once!

And of course, the day after is the next session - hopefully the concluding half of the pilot episode - of The Spillane Way. Got a few things to do to prep for that. Still: Lotsa gaming! Tracey's not so keen on the setting for The Shadow of Yesterday, unfortunately, so I might see if I can organise something with Simon and Cristel once the chaos from the renovations has settled down some.

Continue reading "A week of ups and downs..." »

August 02, 2006

Lt. Farquhar, You Are Go For Drop!

Hey, everybody: I just got published! The latest issue of Mongoose Publishing's Signs & Portents PDF magazine is avalable, and my article on drops and drop capsules for Starship Troopers: The Roleplaying Game is in it, starting on page twenty! Woohoo, I say!

August 01, 2006

About Frakkin' Time!

Boy, am I going to be grouchy on Thursday mornings for the next twenty weeks!

Of course, season three starts in the US in October. Hope we don't have to wait long for that!

July 17, 2006

I'm Get-tin' Thin-ner! Thin-ner, Yeah...

In another item of good news, it looks as though, in the past month or so, not only have I been getting stronger but I've also been getting lighter! I recently stepped on the scales at Vickie's behest to discover that instead of the expected 82 and a half kilos, I'm now only seventy-nine!

Vickie's been commenting lately on the disappearance of my gut, which is odd, because I thought I was gaining more weight. Around my face, anyway. Maybe that's where it was all going?

All that salad Vickie's been serving with her dinners lately must be doing me good!

Best Laid Plans, Or Lack Thereof

Well, my birthday came and went with minimal fanfare. As I had no real idea how the heck I wanted to celebrate it, I left planning a bit late; by the time I realised what a great idea a dinner out in Cairns on the Saturday after my birthday would be (nice and central for everyone), I only had a week to send invitations. By then, of course, everyone already had plans. So we had a barbecue dinner at our place instead!

I got some very nice presents from Vickie (two new pairs of shoes and The Whitlams’ new double-album, Little Cloud – woman spoils me, she does) and Deena and Rhys (The Polar Express on DVD) and my Aunt Heather (a neat shirt that’ll look good both smart and casual). I also received some birthday money form Dad and my aunt Trish that I’ve since splurged on various things, including a few DVDs, some RPG books (on the way from the States) and a copy of the massively-multiplayer online game Guild Wars.

Continue reading "Best Laid Plans, Or Lack Thereof" »

July 11, 2006

30 Minus 1

Birthday Desk

I took this using my Nokia 6101's camera, so I blame any lack of sharpness on it. Anyway, in case you can't tell, that's my desk at work, festooned in "Happy Birthday!" pennants and streamers. The folks at work threw me a great little morning tea (two cakes!) and fun was had!

I'm at home with my wonderful wife, step-daughter and two ratbag dogs. Wife and daughter are in the kitchen at the moment, trying to find cooking utensils. I've got a six of Heineken from the bottle-o and tomorrow off work.

It's good to be me!

July 07, 2006

The Prime-al Urge...

DISCLAIMER: The proximity of this post to my birthday should NOT, in ANY FASHION, be construed as a hint. I do NOT want any one, two or three of these as a present (or a not-present or whatever weaselly twist of words you might be thinking of using in order to get away with spending your money on me).

You've got that, right?

Good. On with it then!

On the general topic of toys, every now and again I find myself wanting to splurge on a new Optimus Prime. I wound up losing part of that Armada Prime I bought a few years ago in the move north, and the poor 'Bot has been languishing in one of my drawers ever since. Since then, new versions of the classic Autobot Leader have popped up to tempt me. Not so long ago, it was the Cybertron Optimus Prime, complete with trailer for $80. He looks pretty cool, right? Still, there was something about the design that, in the end, put me off. Maybe it was the mouth? I mean, Optimus has been so long with that steel shield over his mouth that he looks a little silly without it (especialy as the Cybertron Optimus still has a strip over his nose). And $80? I don't care what David Willis might think, that's a bit much for a freaking toy...

Continue reading "The Prime-al Urge..." »

July 05, 2006

Now For Some Of This "Planning" Shit...

So this weekend, we want to:

  • See Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. (Superman Returns can wait until next week.)
  • Do some shoe shopping, as well as any necessary regular shopping.
  • Paint the risers on the front fence.
  • GM The Shadow of Yesterday for Simon & Cristel (an "I" thing, not a "we" thing, which means a bit more juggling).
  • See the first epsiode of the new season of Doctor Who when it screens on the ABC at 7.30 on Saturday night.

This is gonna be a little tricky...

What - I'm Fit?

Yeah, it's a surprise to me, but it seems like I'm actually not only physically healthy (which I shouldn't really be surprised about, considering the diet Vickie keeps me on), but strong! I don't know when that happened, as I still have a minor case of H.M.T. (Gav, you'll know what I mean) and my six-pack looks more like I've had a six pack too many, but I'm actually mightier than my twenty-year-old, lean-and-toned step-grandson!

Let me explain:

Continue reading "What - I'm Fit?" »

June 15, 2006

This Website's The Wrong Colour

Thirty-Six to Six! Heh heh! You know, I like this whole "Being a Queenslander" business. Not enough to potentially wreck my blog by futzing with the style sheet, but still...

Definitely looking forward to Origin 3!

June 13, 2006

Good Start, Lads!

No, I didn't stay up to watch last night; I could barely keep my eyes open after last night's Boston Legal (not that it was boring, I was just weary). When I went to bed, we were one-nil down.

But Vickie, who did stay up, made sure to wake me (grr grumble mumble) and let me know the final score: Australia 3, Japan 1.

Go you good thing!

June 05, 2006

The Weekend of Gratuitous Spoiling

Last week, Vickie's daughter Deena moved out of the White Rock (yes, it's a suburb) house that she and her ex-husband sold recently. As she's between residences at the moment - she's thinking of renting, but she has study to do and the place she gets must take a dog - she's moved in with us. Her son's dog, Ziggy, a four-year-old mongrel (ahem, sorry, red cattle dog) who has more than a little dingo in him, has taken up residence in our dog run down the side of the house.

The spoiling started on Saturday. We went into Cairns to get some shopping done, and Vickie and Deena went to Rusty's Markets for fruit and veg while I pottered around the usual stores (Angus & Robertson, EB Games, Sanity, QBD The Bookshop, HMV) in the Cairns Central shopping arcade. We agreed to meet back up in half an hour.

A while into my browsing I looked at my watch - hang on a sec. What time did we split up again? Was it half an hour ago? Three quarters? Maybe - a full hour? But how come no one's called? I pulled my mobile out of my pocket - and the rotten thing had switched itself off. It's been doing that irregularly for a year now; in fact, I'd commented on it on the way into Cairns that day after Deena mentioned that she wanted to buy a new mobile herself. I had decided it could wait, though.

Continue reading "The Weekend of Gratuitous Spoiling" »

May 27, 2006

Welcome, Seth

At around 1.30 AM Friday, young Seth Bowman was brought into the world by his mother Jodie. At birth, he weighed 2.72 kilos (6 pounds, 9 ounces) and was (and probably still is) 52cm long.

Here's a picture taken not long after Seth was born, with the bub in the arms of one of his proud grandmothers.

Continue reading "Welcome, Seth" »

May 21, 2006

Monster Rock Smashes Eurovision

Holy shit. Lordi. Lordi, right? Been in the news lately? Finnish monstermetal band? Went into the Eurovision Song Contest, whose luminaries have included Abba, Bucks Fizz, Johnny Logan (you know, "Hoooolld me now, don't cry, don't say a word, just hooooolld" yeah, him), even Celine Dion?

Won. Fucking won.

I say, if they can do it, let's export TISM to the UK, see if they can get a foot in the door.

May 20, 2006

New eBay Auction: Feng Shui RPG Pack

Once again, I'm selling off some more of my RPG stock on eBay. This time, it's my collection of books for the Feng Shui Action Movie Roleplaying Game. Please take a look; if you're interested, have a bid, and if you're not but know someone who might be, can you forward the link onto them, please?

UPDATE 28 May 06 6:35PM: As the set didn't move, I've relisted it with a starting bid of $75 and a Buy It Now price of $90. Please click on the above link if you're interested.

May 10, 2006

A Name For A Granddad To Be

Here's a little something that'll bring a smile to your face, I hope.

On this web log, I don't often mention our Queensland family, simply because they don't often intersect with the portion of my life that I tend to ramble on about in this web log, i.e. gaming. So let me break from tadition and tell you a little more about Vickie's youngest child and only son, Karl. I've mentioned him now and again on here (do a search for his name on the log if you like). Back at the beginning of 2004, he married his longtime girlfriend Jodie, and seven or so months ago, Jodie discovered that she was pregnant with their first child (yes, you remeber right, it was Jodie's baby shower Sunday week ago). With the bub due to drop in the next couple of weeks, Vickie raised the question no one else seemed to have thought of, which is, "What does the young 'un call Rob?"

Now, according to Vickie, Karl and Jodie's baby will be my first official grandchild. I'm not quite sure how that works, as there's no connection by blood. Still, Vickie's not fond of "grand-dad" or "grandfather", mainly because I don't look like the stereotyped image either term conjures. Vickie mulled a few alternatives - I think "Da" was in the running for a while - until she hit upon the perfect name:

(You ready?)

Continue reading "A Name For A Granddad To Be" »

April 14, 2006

Shit. Yay! Shit.

An Easter Story: Folks, I have passed a milestone, I have endured a rite of passage, I have become, if you will, a man: I changed a tyre all on my own yesterday evening.

I went down into the casino parking lot last night after work to find the car listing over to one side. The back driver's side tyre was flat! (Shit #1.) Now, as I'd only brought the tyres back up to pressure a couple of weeks ago, I assume that there's some kind of puncture somewhere, although I've not checked yet. Anyway, as I was meant to pick Vickie up from the supermarket here in Gordonvale, I called her and let her know about the problem. Amongst other things, she told me to make sure that I tightened the nuts in an X pattern once I'd put the spare wheel on. So, I opened the boot, organised my tools and set to work.

I was getting worried when, after loosening two of four nuts, the third was absolutely refusing to budge; in fact, the handle of the ratchet wrench I was using was actually bending under the strain. Thankfully, Christine, a friend from work whom we will be visiting this Sunday for lunch, happened by, and she had one of those - you know, that tool that looks like an X, and at each point of the X there's a different socket? One of them - which made short work of that last argumentative nut.

After that, it was jack the car up (although I was worried that I didn't have any wheel chocks), remove the flat tyre (during which time Kristin from work, who's moving to Brisbane next week, drove by and asked what was up), put the spare wheel on (after unfastening the bolt that holds it down in the back of the car), tighten the nuts in an X pattern, secure the flat, put everything away again, went back up to the casino ground floor to wash my grimy hands, met Belinda from work who asked what I was still doing there, washed my hands, got into the lift, met Liz from work who asked what I was still doing there, got in my car and drove back to Gordonvale to pick Vickie up. (Yay!) Naturally, I had a nice shower after I got home; I must've left a gallon of sweat on the carpark concrete!

Continue reading "Shit. Yay! Shit." »

March 31, 2006

Figging Hell...

Unfortunately, we've had to postpone that Starship Troopers playtest lined up for tomorrow. And it's all the fault of this thing:

fig_2.jpg

A gent from a tree-lopping service is coming over tomorrow morning to take a chainsaw to that fallen fig. Which is a good thing, frankly; the sooner it's gone, the sooner we can tell the insurance company to get to work on fixing the fence up. Only problem is, we don't know how long the job will take, which leaves our players hanging. So, rather than risk my life by tapping my foot impatiently whilst looking over the shoulder of a guy working with a chainsaw, I reckon it's best to put the game back a week.

Frankly, though, I will say this about the insurance company (CGU, by the way), the tree-lopper (Bumblebee Tree Lopping), the antenna guys (FNQ Same Day Antennas), and the aforementioned electricity and phone companies and emergency service folk: Our personal experience with all of the above is that their responsiveness has great, especially considering how busy they must all be at the moment.

Besides, it gives me time to get those Bugs and MI miniatures painted up...

March 24, 2006

Phew! That Was Close!

Some good news today. Firstly, Tropical Cyclone Wati has been steadily moving away from Far North Queensland for the past couple of days, keeping a rough parallel with the coast as it goes. So it seems we're not in for a repeat performance any time soon!

Secondly, we just had our aerial fixed today under insurance, so we're back with television! Okay, you can argue that that's not necessarily a good thing, but so far we've missed out on Commander In Chief, some Law & Order episodes and the Thursday re-run of The West Wing, so it's not entirely a bad thing to have it back, either.

Thirdly, the debris and most of the fallen trees in our yard were chopped and hauled off by our next door neighbour Mick and his kids on Wednesday. We owe them a great big debt of gratitude, which we intend paying back via two slabs of beer and a barbecue lunch or dinner.

March 21, 2006

Ah Gat th' Paawah!

(Bop bop b-b-brrrm bop bop bop b-b-brrrm bop oh oh oh ohhhh... ah gat th' - er, ahem)

Yes, anyway, enough of the cliched Snap! references (not Black Box as I originally thought) and onto the good news: We not only have power back here at Riverstone Road, but after an initial delay, we now have land line and Internet again!

Power came back at around six PM, and I immediately rushed around switching lights and ceiling fans and fridge and freezer and PCs back on. What? The TV? You must be joking. Sunday week ago, the new aerial was pushed out of kilter a little during a storm; we lost signal on most channels, and the remaining one (Seven) was flaky. Yesterday morning, we had a cyclone. Whaddya reckon?

Continue reading "Ah Gat th' Paawah!" »

See You Larry, Oh Look, There's Wati

Ho, everyone. Thanks to all you folks who got in touch. I wish we were easier to contact, but we're pretty much incommunciado at the moment, as I'll explain below. (This is a sneaky-post from my work PC.) The most important thing is that Vickie, Zelda and I are very much alive and well, as is our house.

We were both pretty much up all night; we'd try to relax and sleep, then remember/think of one more preparation we could make; when we did get everything done, we'd usually get woken by the hourly cyclone warnings on the radio. Power flickered a few times, then finally went early in the morning. (Not on the radio, though; we made sure we had batteries in it.)

The gales really sterted to hit around six or so, and after seven we were both patrolling windows, keeping an eye on our trees. It was nerve-wracking, I can tell you; the rain was coming down so hard that not only was it coming in under the front door, but through the joins in the heavy wooden door itself! Judicious use of towels on our front door and louvred windows kept us nice and dry inside. We were really woried about the back patio, which is not only lower than the rest of the yard by an inch or two but also almost on a level with the back door, which leads straight ino the main living room. Thankfully, the concrete rail sleepers we put down around the edges of the patio directed the rainwater away from the door.

Continue reading "See You Larry, Oh Look, There's Wati" »

March 19, 2006

Inbound Hot

We've been through this house like a dose of salts today, getting windows taped, the garden cleared of anything that could become a projectile (or at least making sure any such are low to the ground and/or weighed down, packing the shed (which is now capacity) and making sure we're all right for batteries, food, water and other supplies. I've also helped Vickie's son Karl and his wife Jodie move house.

All the while, Larry has continued his steady course across the Coral Sea toward the coast. He's intensified from yesterday's Cat 2 to a Category 4, and is expected to intensify further before he reaches shore sometime between 7 and 9AM our time tomorrow, somewhere between Innisfail, around 60 Km South of us, and Mission Beach. The Met Bureau are releasing updates every hour on the hour, although there's usually new news only every three hours.

Continue reading "Inbound Hot" »

March 18, 2006

Come in, Sir L - wait, you're not Sir Laurence!

Vickie has been monitoring the Met Bureau site for the past few days. A low that's been hovering out in the Pacific has developed into a full-blown cyclone, currently Category 2, dubbed Larry.

I just checked the site again. Larry is moving slowly westward, and the coastal region from Cape Tribulation to Mackay has been put on alert. We're close to the Northern end of the zone, but as Larry has been scribing an irregular curve, there's no saying he won't continue to swing Northward.

Continue reading "Come in, Sir L - wait, you're not Sir Laurence!" »

March 14, 2006

Not Yet Required

So I went into the Courthouse yesterday, got shown an information video, went into the courtroom and came out of it about fifteen minutes later. My service wasn't needed at that particular time.

I'm still on the lists for the rest of this week and next week, though, so it's still possible I might wind up on a jury before the month is out.

Continue reading "Not Yet Required" »

March 10, 2006

The Call

Folks, my jury number has been drawn - looks like I'm one of fifty people off to the Courthouse on Monday.

Yes, the Courthouse - No, I won't sink a pint or two for you, it's not the Courthouse Hotel, it's the actual Courthouse! The - yes, I know the Courthouse Hotel used to be the actual courthouse, but -

Oh, bugger it. I'll fill you in as best I can later.

February 25, 2006

Meeting Simon and Cristel

Well, we didn't get any gaming today. And you know what? It didn't matter.

We headed out Edge Hill way at around half past one, and arrived at Simon and Cristel's just after two. Simon and Cristel are a good pair of folks, very warm and personable, and definitely make no bones about their RPG interest. Of course, they were talking to known gamers, but when they have at least one of their living room bookshelves dedicated to AD&D and other assorted RPG stuff (including some fun books filled with traps to make dungeon-exploring PC's lives a misery, not to mention short) I doubt they'll be particularly backward on coming forward about their hobby to non-gamers.

We spent at least three-and-a-half hours talking about all sorts of stuf; gaming histories, current tastes in RPGs, old friends left behind, Cairns, why Brisbane sucks, SF, movies, I even sumarised my usual Starship Troopers rant pretty ably. We met Simon and Cristel's four girls (a handful whom the two manage pretty well), got a tour of their place (which has a fantastic covered patio area just ripe for some gaming) and had a generally great time. Oh, and Simon and Cristel are WWE fans.

Continue reading "Meeting Simon and Cristel" »

February 17, 2006

RIP Andreas Katsulas

I know it's a little late, especially as Gav broke it on the IMAGinewS group a couple of days ago (thank you very much, by the way, Gav, I wouldn't have known for a while otherwise), but I'd just like to forward the news to anyone else who mightn't have got it yet of the death of actor Andreas Katsulas on Monday, February 13th. Best known for his role as the passionate, complex, warrior-priest named G'Kar, Ambassador for the Narn Regime, on the science fiction television series Babylon 5, he was 59 at the time of his death.

Creator and producer of Babylon 5, J. Micahel Straczynski remembers his friend here.

Rest in peace, Andreas. You will be very sorely missed.

February 16, 2006

New Monkey in Japan

Fans of that seventies kids' action seires, Monkey (I know one IMAGinewS member at least who as the DVDs), may be interested to know that an eleven-episode remake has broken viewing records in Japan and across Asia.

According to the BBC, a British company has secured the rights and will screen the show in the UK later this year.

By the way, anyone remember how I was saying a few years ago how the anime Cyber City Oedo 808 was another take on the original Monkey story? Three heroes / crims - a smartass, a calm and detached one and a big, tough one - serving a priest / cop under duress? Plus the fact that, according to this resource on the new series, both the lead characters have the same name (Son Gokuu, The Monkey King / Officer Sengoku)? Doesn't seem as much of a stretch...

February 03, 2006

A Very Browncoat Top 10 (and Top 20)

I was just browsing the Sci Fi Wire site again and noticed they had Amazon.com's top-selling genre DVDs as at January 27th. It looked a little like this:

  1. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  2. Corpse Bride
  3. Serenity
  4. Firefly complete series
  5. Lost season one
  6. Battlestar Galactica season 2.0
  7. Lord of the Rings trilogy
  8. Dune (Extended Edition)
  9. Star Wars: Episode III
  10. The Time Tunnel volume one

Continue reading "A Very Browncoat Top 10 (and Top 20)" »

February 01, 2006

Firefly Season 2?

I first heard about this through Mandi, who e-mailed me a URL to an interesting site intended to gain support for a second season of Joss Whedon's cancelled-far-before-its-time show Firefly. I will confess to some skepticism about it, as Joss Whedon has gone on public record to say that "We'll never make Firefly again, because that was a thing that existed and is now gone."

Of course, the entertainment industry is littered with "nevers" that became "okay, maybe just once more"s, but considering that on the "Here's How It Was" making-of documentary, Joss said that Firefly "was the source of more joy and pain" than anything else he's done, I can certainly understand an unwillingness to revisit that territory for fear of getting horribly burned once again.

Still, this article on SciFi.com's SciFi Wire news service is making FireflySeason2.com look a little more credible. The guy behind it doesn't seem like Just Some Passionate Fan; it seems he has money and organisation, and perhaps the ears of some important folks.

And I know for sure that I'm one fan who wouldn't object at all for paying for a DVD of each new episode as it came out.

So, if you like Firefly or Serenity in the slightest, give FireflySeason2.com a shot. You never know; every little might just help take a certain Firefly-class transport back out to the Black again...

January 29, 2006

Aaaaand Cyclone Season is On!

Well, ladies and germs, it's official: The first tropical cyclone of the '06 Cairns Monsoon Season has been identified. Tropical Cyclone Jim is one thousand kilometres off the Innisfail coast and slowly heading out to sea. He's a Category 2 at the moment, and forecasters reckon that as Jim proceeds East he'll build into a Cat 3. Whether he'll about face and come back West again, we'll leave to fate.

January 23, 2006

My Civic Duty

Vickie called me at work today to let me know that the Queensland Government had sent me a letter in the mail: It looks as though my name's been drawn out of the hat to serve jury duty sometime in the next few months.

Vickie asked whether work would continue to pay me while I was on jury duty; if they didn't we would have serious financial difficulties and would likely need to claim ineligibility. But I checked with payroll, and they said they'd continue to pay me as long as they received my juror's payment ($30/day).

One of the first things I was asked by my supervisor when I told her was, "Do you want a letter?" I said no. I figure if I ever (God forbid) wind up in front of a jury, I'd prefer the jurors were there because they believe in their duty to our system of law, not because they couldn't get a decent excuse or because (and this might be snobbish of me) $30/day was better than what they'd get otherwise. How can I ask that of someone else if I'm not willing to do it myself?

Beyond that nothing goes beyond the courtroom, I have no idea what the legalities of the situation are, so I may well be limited to posting "Yeah, I went today." And I mightn't even do that; even if the case is minor, I'd prefer no one decided a good way to serve themselves would be to threaten either of us.

January 01, 2006

Happy New Year 2006!

I hope 2005 has brought you joy without too much pain, and that 2006 brings you everything you need!

December 29, 2005

Serenity Movie Marathon Tomorrow Night!

Greater Union and Birch Carrol & Coyle have announced movie marathons in NSW and Queensland, only this Friday night, December 30th. The good news is, Marathon 2 features King Kong, Four Brothers and Serenity!

You can find more info here. If you missed your chance to see it during its run, don't miss this one - even if you'll probably be waiting until four AM Saturday to actually watch it. And if you're a Browncoat, you owe it to yourself to go see it again!

December 28, 2005

RIP Vincent Schiavelli

This might seem small potatoes in the wake of the death of media mogul Kerry Packer, but I just spotted an article in the Sydney Morning Herald's website on the sudden death of actor Vincent Schiavelli on Boxing Day.

Now, you probably won't know who I'm talking about. Vincent was one of those guys who's Always Been Around, usually playing the creeps, kooks and weirdos. Let's see: The ghost on the subway in Ghost who misses cigarettes. John O'Connor, one of the evil Red Lektroids in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. Dr. Kaufman, the comical, cultured torturer in Tomorrow Never Dies. What I didn't know was that he'd also directed stage plays in Italy (which wasn't too surprising) and written three cook books (which was).

Rest in peace, Vincent. You will most definitely be missed.

December 27, 2005

Commence The Splurge!

UPDATE: Due to a local dispute over appropriate use of irony, the spelling in the post title has been corrected. Future use of "teh" will be reserved for use in conjunction with "l33tspeak" or other Internet-related irony. We now return you to our regular posting.

Well, now that Christmas and Boxing Days are out of the way, I reckon it's time to get materialistic. Dad sent me some money in the mail to spend on something I'd like. So, the first of the post-Xmas splurging has commenced:

Continue reading "Commence The Splurge!" »

December 25, 2005

Merry Xmas 2005, Everyone!

I think this will probably be too late for some, what with the traditional large lunch and / or consumption of gross qauntities of alcoholic beverage (considered traditional for the period) performing their usual separate and / or combined inducement of somnolence. It may even be (gasp!) early for those others in timezone-deprived locations.

Nonetheless, I wish you all a Merry (which I've been told actually meant "blessed" in the old tongue) Christmas. I hope your Day is as minimally drama-filled as possible (we've had our share of friction around the dinner table today, let me tell you), and the same goes for the rest of the holiday, whether (like me) you're just taking the public holidays off work, you're using some annual leave or even if you must (double gasp!) work today.

As it's nine PM and the free-to-air channels have their usual selection of dead-ratings-period carp, I'm off to watch a film that was gifted to me on DVD. I believe it captures the spirit of the season with unique verve, warm-hearted wit and family oriented charm. That's right: I'm going to watch War of the Worlds.

(Don't worry: I got Vickie the Harry Potter films.)

December 17, 2005

RIP John Spencer

I just found an article on BBC news about the sudden death by heart attack of actor John Spencer, four days short of his birthday on December 20th.

I've been aware of John for quite some time, usually for playing hard-asses - heck, he even had a part in the computer game, Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom. It's why I was so glad to see him get such a broad, nuanced, at times downright hilarious role as Secretary of State Leo McGarry on The West Wing.

Yes, that John Spencer.

Rest in peace, John. We'll miss you.

November 16, 2005

Closing the Wiki Down?

Speaking of wikis: A little earlier, I went into the IMAGinES Wiki to see whether anyone had made any changes recently. I also wanted to make a couple of updates myself: it's been a few weeks since our last attempt at getting together for Stars on the Move and with Christmas fast upon us I don't think anyone will have time until after New Year's, so I thought I'd adjust the SotM pages accordingly.

I discovered that several updates had been made, but not my myself or any of my friends. An individual or individuals unknown had created four user-IDs and used them to vandalise the site, removing content and substituting it with hidden code, presumably intended for Google-spamming or some other hit-boosting exercise.

Continue reading "Closing the Wiki Down?" »

November 07, 2005

Christmas Lockdown

In case the last post has you wondering, yes, from here on in I am on Pre-Christmas Lockdown, which means no more spending on myself until after the 25th. At the moment, Vickie and I will be looking at the last round of renovations on our house - specifically, the kitchen splashback and the power points - as well as the panelbeating work on the car.

Not to mention Christmas presents for family and cards for friends.

November 01, 2005

evil horse ceremony happened

they gave me thirty dollars

help

don't know how much longer i have

they're evil

the people i work with they're possessed or something

THEY'RE TRYING TO GET ME DRUNK

keep coming up to me with bottles of beer

keep saying it's got something to do with some horses or something

i don't believe them

they want to get me inebriated

then do horrible things to me

they're gathering around big-screen projector in loading dock

evil ceremony sure to start soon

sos

need evac

er... stat

yeah it's light beer so what

October 23, 2005

Thank You, Nan!

Once again, another week sans updates! So here's a nice big one for you, and thankfully, it is, as the kids say nowadays, all good.

The pressure is off for the time being at the Cairns Post. Our newest special publication (i.e. a separate magazine not printed as part of the regular paper), eat. drink. tropics. has just been published with great results, and it gives the ad reps a bit of a breather between now and Christmas.

Which will probably end next week; weve already been informing clients of our Christmas special ad packages, and therell be a rush on those soon.

As youve probably noticed when I announced Id be buying RAM and the Serenity RPG and then decided to hold off, Vickie and I have been feeling a bit of a money squeeze lately. But Vickie called me at work on Friday and asked me whether I was sitting down. Shed received a letter from the solicitors that my aunt Trish works for. Theyre handling Nans estate, and Nan had bequeathed me some money for me in her will! Without going into specifics, it's enough that we can now do some things that weve been meaning to for months. It's a bit of relief right when we needed it, and if Nan were alive, I'd hug her thoroughly!

Continue reading "Thank You, Nan!" »

October 15, 2005

Do Rob's Thinking For Him: Mobile Plans

A few months ago, my AAPT mobile contract expired, and since then, I've been thinking on and off about renewing. A quick look at AAPT's current call plans, though, largely disabused me of that notion, though - either 15c or33c for 30 seconds is just too damned expensive. So, I'm now thinking of switching to another mobile phone service provider.

Therefore, my question to you, my readership, is: What plan or plans would you recommend, either through personal experience or friends who swear by it or them? I don't use my mobile phone that heavily - say, 5 minutes total talk time per week. If it makes any difference, our current home phone and Internet provider is Telstra.

Continue reading "Do Rob's Thinking For Him: Mobile Plans" »

October 13, 2005

Shitty Mornings

Thids morning and the last couple of mornings, I've been waking up at around five o'clock, an hour and a half before the alarm's meant to actually ring (well, play a local FM radio station), and when I've stepped out into the hallway, I've been assailed by this awful smell. We're still keeping Zelda in the living room at the moment, and when I walk down into it - well, let's just say the poor girl's got something of a bowel problem at the moment. It got especially bad this morning, so much so that we had to put our two carpets out on the clothesline. I wound up spending about half an hour cleaning and mopping up, and by the time I was done, it was still before six.

Continue reading "Shitty Mornings" »

October 12, 2005

Bats.

If you live in any metropolitan area in Australia, you probably hear about how local bat populations are decreasing in numbers due to the encroachment of the urban sprawl, etcetera.

Have you ever wondered where all those bats go?

If so, I have the solution to your pondering:

Like Vickie and I, they moved to Cairns.

Almost every dusk over the past week, huge, and I mean HUGE flocks of bats go flying over Gordonvale, from the mountains to the East to the valley that leads up toward the Atherton Tablelands. It's an airborne RIVER of bats, I'm telling you, and it just keeps coming! You don't notice when it stops, because it's already too dark to see the little blighters anyway!

It is quite probably the most incredible thing I have seen since I moved up here! The only thing that comes close is the sheer volume of rainbow lorikeets in and around Cairns proper. (There's a whole lot of Lesser Varicoloured Shittybird around the joint.)

If the bats are airborne again tomorrow night, I'll get the damned camera out.

October 08, 2005

Re-Listing Delta Green Novels

Well, putting Feng Shui up for auction wound u being a little harder than I thought it was going to be. So instead, I'm trying my luck again with my Call of Cthulhu / Delta Green novel collection. I've changed the description around a bit, so hopefully it'll be more attractive to people not already familiar with the Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game or Delta Green.

Again, please have a look, and if you know someone who might be interested, please let them know. Please be aware that all proceeds from this auction will go toward the Get Rob A Copy Of The Serenity Roleplaying Game And Some More Dice Fund, so your money will be spent in a good cause, not to mention helping the continued existence of probably the best SF franchise to be born in the last ten years!

Continue reading "Re-Listing Delta Green Novels" »

September 27, 2005

Would you believe - a lung infection?

Vickie just e-mailed me at work to let me know the sad news that Don Adams, best known for playing Maxwell Smart, Agent 86, in the TV series Get Smart, died today. He was 82.

He'll also be fondly remembered as the voice of the bumbling cyborg policeman, Inspector Gadget, in the 1980s cartoon.

We'll miss you, Don.

September 25, 2005

Yee Ha.

Sydneysiders are probably in shock after the surprise, blitzkrieg win by the North Queensland Cowboys in this evening's rugby league semi-final match against the Parramatta Eels. Vickie and I kept half an ear out last year when the Cowboys made it into the preliminaries - if I remember rightly, they actually got all the way into the semis before some poor refereeing did them out of a final spot - but it's good to see them in the finals this year.

Of course, they're going to be up against Wests Tigers, a.k.a the Balmain Tigers, and having a family affiliation (the Maloney/Serio branch of my family - my Nan, my Mum, my aunt Trish and my grand-uncle Joe - came up in the Balmain area) I'm firmly behind them in their first grand final since, I think, 1989.

Which means my life expectancy can probably be measured in days.

So if anyone has a spare Large-size Tigers tee or jersey, any chance you could bundle it into the mail and send it to me ASAP, please? If I'm gonna die on Sunday, I want to go out wearing the colours.

(By the way: In an interesting irony, the most recent Tigers import Scott Prince is from Mount Isa, about as Far North Queensland as you can get.)

September 03, 2005

William McInnes is a nice guy.

The above opinion is based on about fifteen minutes' personal observation. The Post received some complimentary tickets to a local premiere of Look Both Ways, a new Australian film starring Mr. McInnes and penned by his wife, Sarah Watt, who also directed.

The film itself is good. Seriously good. You may be expecting a quirky art house film, and actually that's what you'll get, but only because the actors never compromise on being as "real" as possible - there are no "performances", not even the of the slightly-realer-than-real kind common to a lot of modern mainstream drama. There's a lot of evident discomfort, people almost but not quite saying what they mean all the time. They're quirky, but in the same way the rest of us real people are quirky, if you know what I mean. It's well worth going out of your way to watch.

The good thing about the premiere was that William McInnes was, as you've probably gathered from the above, actually there. He introduced himself and the film before screening commence, and came bachk in and sat with us afterward for a Q and A. He's very friendly and quick-witted, and has some strong opinions about our pollies. Were we not both pretty exhaused by the end of the Q and A, I'm sure we would have stuck around wth the rest of the cinephiles to chat with him.

September 02, 2005

City Beneath the Sea

I've wanted to go to New Orleans for a while now. I'd hoped that after the current turmoil died down - probably after a couple of administration changes - and we had some more money, Vickie and I could make a fairly uncomplicated trip to the States. New Orleans was about the only place I absolutely wanted to visit. (Now, before anyone gets riled up, I'm talking about places here, not people, which is another matter entirely.)

It's all Harry Connick, Jr.'s fault. I borrowed the title of this post from that of the second-last track on his Star Turtle album. Now, I know you might argue (and so could I, frankly) that I'm being too smart-alecky for my own good considering the current state of the city. But it was that tune that enamoured me with the idea of visiting New Orleans. I know muse-os have been waxing lyrical about places they love for centuries, but there was something about Harry's love for his hometown in the song which made me feel like stopping in one day.

So rather than try and slap together some sort of "heartfelt understanding" message to people I don't know for a city I've never been to, I hope Harry won't mind if I quote you his own response to the results of Hurricane Katrina's visitation upon the City of New Orleans:

It is hard to sit in silence, to watch one's youth wash away. New Orleans is my essence, my soul, my muse, and I can only dream that one day she will recapture her glory.

I will say this to any reader who is in, or has family or friends in, New Orleans: I hope for the best for you.

August 27, 2005

Getting Up Even Earlier

The first week at my new job with the Post is over, and Im getting a better idea of just what it is Im going to be doing. Basically, as sales administrator, I help ensure that the advertising sales team can do their jobs as smoothly as possible. This means taking messages and liaising with clients when necessary, but most (I think) of what Ill be doing revolves around ensuring adverts are booked and prepared properly. As such, I was given a fairly thorough tour of the various departments involved in advertising this week, including the design, proofing and layout areas. I was also taken on a tour of the actual press building yesterday, which was very interesting (and noisy); somehow, though, I thought itd be bigger than it was!

Im still getting used to the hours. As the only parking available is either on the street or at the nearby casino, Im commuting by bus. Its not bad; I get to relax and read on the way into and out of work. The only problem is that the only bus that gets me to work before eight thirty leaves Gordonvale at a quarter to seven and gets into Cairns at twenty past. Again, its not bad. Theres something nice about being in a city before hours, when few people are around and everythings closed. I noticed that once in Sydney, and although a fair few people are up and moving at half past seven, Cairns is still fairly quiet (even the big chain supermarkets dont open any earlier than eight). Still, it means I get up at five thirty.

I finally got assigned to a desk yesterday, and the last full-time person to have it left quite a few things behind, including a big bowl and a spoon. So I might just buy myself a box of cereal at Woolworths one morning and have breakfast at work, so I can get up at six (as I did when I was driving in for Centrelink) instead of half five!

Unfortunately, it looks as though Ive caught another cold, quite probably from the Posts air-conditioners, so Im sucking on VapoDrops today and trying (not entirely successfully) to avoid passing it on to Vickie. In fact, if youll excuse me, Im just going to make myself a Lemsip Max

August 17, 2005

At the Local Rag

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's official: I am now a permanent, full time employee of the Cairns Post! I commence in my position of Sales Administrator on Monday. My job will to assist the ad sales team sell column inches and keep on good terms with their clients; this will include such duties as maintaining schedules, taking phone calls from clients, proofing ads and that sort of thing.

I finish up at Centrelink with a not undue sense of relief. While I'll miss everyone there, the work itself was getting pretty darned repetitive, and the systems troubles over the past couple of weeks were driving everyone batty. (Not that there's any guarantee that the Post will be an improvement in the latter regard.)

Of course, as the Post is News Corporation's local rag, this means my soul is now wholly owned by Sir Rupert Murdoch...

August 13, 2005

Almost there... Alllmost therrre...

So I went to the second interview at the other job I applied for on Thursday, and things went pretty well. I met the person I'd be working for, and the details of the job were explained to me. It sounds quite challenging, but after almost six months of doing the same stuff over and over, I'm definitely up for a challenge, and said as much.

That evening, before the Radio for the Print Handicapped broadcast, I had a phone call from the recruiter. The firm is keen to have me on, and she wanted to make sure I was still keen once I'd had time to mull over what the position entailed. I told her I still am. She told me she'd do a reference check on Friday, and if my references were positive, she'd give me a call on Monday to go in and sign a contract of employment, with a start date of Monday week.

I had a minor heart attack when it turned out that the mobile number of one of my referees had changed, but I managed to track her down on Thursday night and got her new number, which I immediately e-mailed to the recruiter. The other two still work at my old firm, and the one I was able to reach, aside from still being amenable to providing a reference, said he'd let the other know to expect a phone call.

Things are looking good!

August 03, 2005

Movement on the Job Front

Well, well! After months with nary a twitch, it looks as though I now have two strong possibilities on the job front!

Centrelink are looking at expanding their Cairns call centre staff, with roughly twenty permanent CSO positions advertised in today's Cairns Post. Applications are by phone only (presumably to test out your phone manner) so I whipped up a quick summary, rang in and left a message.

Also, I applied for another job online last week. I had a response within a day; the person running recruitment for the firm worked at the Cairns job agency I first signed up with before we moved. She remembered me and had put me on the short list! I finally got a call from her earlier today, and I'm off for interview tomorrow at one!

So, it looks as though I might just have my pick and choice of jobs...

August 01, 2005

War of the Worlds on the Wiki

As I can't seem to get access to the Cylon Alliance forums any more, and since the last few revisions I sent to the guy who runs the website have gone unanswered, I've posted the most recent re-write of my War of the Worlds retrospective on the IMAGinES Wiki. It's been revised to include information on the Spielberg/Cruise film. A lot of that revision is drawn from my review, and I intend to go back to that sometime soon and try and discuss it more broadly.

July 21, 2005

In London

One thing I've not posted about are the recent bombings in London, mainly because I didn't really want to - for want of a better phrase, impinge on those events. Although I wish the best to those who were lost and those who had lost in those explosions, I didn't want to detract from that loss with any knee-jerk cliched displays of sympathy.

But when the news of what appear to be another round of attacks came in, I couldn't help but think of my trips to the UK in 1996 and 2003.

In 1996, the IRA parked a truck bomb outside Manchester's main shopping centre. Mum, Dad and I had been there in 1995 for Christmas, and the bomb went off on a street we'd been up and down many times. Heck, my aunt Heather was actually in Manchester when the bomb went off; if I remember, she was in the other end of the shopping centre.

In 2003, Vickie and I went to the UK so that Vickie could meet my UK family. We of course made a quick trip to London, and one of the first things Vickie said after the bombs went off a few weeks ago was that that was the area we'd been travelling around. Had our timing been different, that could've been us.

But you know what my thought was? The effect on the financial situation aside, why do these bombers think they could achieve anything in terms of influencing the sympathy of the British public for the war effort, when the IRA's long campaign of terror in Ireland and on the English mainland didn't achieve their goals? They must have been desparately insane.

RIP James Doohan

Well, you've probably heard this already by now, but I just wanted to put something up: Actor James Doohan, best known for his role as Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineer of the Starship Enterprise, died today. He was aged 85.

We'll miss you, sir.

July 12, 2005

Belated Birthday Wishes to Myself!

Cakes and Dog

Hello all! I know it was my birthday yesterday, but I decided that, as it was my birthday, I'd have a slack evening. So, no post until today!

Let's see: The last actual news update I provided was about the trip to Sydney last Tuesday. Thanks to you folks who offered lifts/get-togethers etc.; they weren't needed in the end. Everything went as well as one would expect for a funeral; Nan was laid in the same grave as her husband, Eugene Maloney (which surprised a lot of the family; almost everyone just new him as "Mac"). Most of us went to Hornsby RSL afterward; although I remembered my RSL club birthday vouchers, I forgot to take my membership card, so I couldn't use them anyway. I got to have a good chat with some mebers of the family I'd not seen in a while, and thankfully no grief was given. I even gave my number to a couple who will be up around Cairns soon and told them to give us a call when they got here!

I finally got back into Cairns a littlle after ten, feeling pretty buggered; thankfully, Vickie's son Karl picked me up from the airport and dropped me home.

Last Thursday was also a first for me. One of the other readers on the Radio for the Print Handicapped broadcast, Trish, wasn't in and couldn't be reached (Trish told me later her son had been hit by a car; he's rather banged up, but okay), which caused a minor panic as Trish usually runs the control panel during the Thursday RPH broadcast. There was another gentleman there who had volunteerd if no on else could do it (although he'd already handled his own broadcast and half of the previous show, which Trish also does), but after having had prior instructionand a quick shot at queueing ads the week before, I thought I'd give it a go, even though I'd forgotten to bring the crib sheet I'd written with me again. I did pretty damned well, if I do say so myself! I do need to check how to use the track-program feature on the CD players, as I thought I had a track queued up properly, but it went on to the next track instead of stopping after the programmed track finished. I also managed to replay the weather report intro halfway through the broadcast instead of the RPH disclaimer ("The articles read during this broadcast do not reflect the views and opinions of station staff, etcetera.") thanks to a fingerslip. But the broadcast went to air successfully!

I don't have the chance for more practice this week, though. Everyone on a family tax benefit is calling Centrelink to get their estimated income for 2005/06 updated. I've put my hand up for the overtime they're offering, which means I'll be working back until 7 PM tomorrow and Thursday at least. I'll probably know only a couple of days beforehand whether they'll have work for me during the rest of the month, which will probably bugger up reading for RPH.

The overtime's also buggered up Karl's evil plans to get me fighting fit. He's got a fitness thing going at his place three afternoons a week, where he and some friends run up one of the hills around here (and do some general gym-equipment workouts as well, I think). Considering 98% of the work I do involves sitting in front of a PC, it's a good idea; the only problem is that I'm an inveterate slacker who hates exercise (I'll even skive off walking the dog if the opportunity presents). So this overtime is an almost perfect way to get out of it (it'd only be perfect if I could get paid to do it *and* stay at home with Vickie).

As I was working yesterday, Vickie organised a birthday barbecue for me on Sunday. The local family came along, as well as some friends from work and the folks we met at the first (and only) Cairns Roleplayers Meetup. Vickie laid on a fantastic spread, and I got to stand in front of the barbecue in an apron, tongs in one hand and beer in the other. I wish I had a photo, but, as usual, we made sure the camera had fresh batteries and then forgot about using it. The only photo we took was the above pic of the cake. It was a great get-together, and Vickie and her daughter Deena put a phenomenal amount of work in the kitchen, for which I owe them a heap of thanks! It was a lovely birthday present from them both!

July 03, 2005

Holy Shit - ANOTHER One?

Okay, you already know about the Spielberg and Cruise film. If you've been reading this site and the IMAGinewS postings, you know about the Pendragon Pictures effort (which seems to have gone straight to DVD now) and the Jeff Wayne CGI picture due in a few years.

But - and you're not going to believe this, I didn't - there is actually yet ANOTHER film based on H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds, produced by Asylum Entertainment. Like Spielberg's effort, it's a modern re-telling, but it stars C. Thomas Howell (Gettysburg) and Jake Busey (Starship Troopers), and according to its website it went direct to DVD a day before Spielberg's pic opened in theatres. (The credit summary at the end of the trailer shows it as having the name "Invasion", so maybe that's how they got it in under the radar.)

Based on the trailer, we're back with Martians landing in cylinders (well, pods) instead of buried machines and lightning strikes, and the CGI SFX look a touch better than Pendragon's. The walkers look more like crabs, though, and have six legs instead of three.

I'd be tempted to watch/buy it, mainly because I like those two leads. The poster/DVD cover looks very Independence Day, though, which doesn't exactly bode well.

June 29, 2005

RIP Joyce Maloney

I had a phone call from Dad after I got in from work today. After her condition progressively deteriorated over the past few days, my Nan, my Mum's Mum, Joyce Maloney, finally passed away in her sleep at around midday today. My aunt, Nan's daughter Trish, was with her at the time.

As I think I mentioned a few posts ago, it's been a hard few years for my family. Nan took Mum's death particularly hard, which probably didn't help her condition any. However, I'll always remember her as the quiet, yet bright woman who put Mum, Dad and I up while we looked for a home of our own after we emigrated to Australia. Nan had a strong heart; she loved her family and her home rugby league team, the Balmain Tigers. She taught me that, no matter where you lived in the metropolitan area, Sydney was always "town".

I miss you, Nan. I love you.

June 27, 2005

RIP Richard Whiteley

I was very surprised and saddened to discover that a fixture of British television, a gentleman by the name of Richard Whiteley, passed away in hospital on the evening (UK time) of Sunday, June 26th.

In the UK, Richard was probably best known for hosting a show called Countdown on Channel 4, and before my Australian readers start rolling their eyes, Countdown isn't a pop music show (the UK equivalent is Top of the Pops). It's a puzzle game where contestants are given a random selection of nine letters and challenged to assemble the longest dictionary word out of them in thirty seconds. It sounds dry, and, well, it is, but I found it good fun compared to the bright lights and big noises of the "Price Is Right"s and "Family Fortunes/Feud"s of the time. Countdown was an honest intellectual challenge, with no prize other than returning for the next day's show (and, hopefully, building up a respectable run of shows before being topped by the next challenger). Contestants could be and often were from all walks of British life.

Richard was with Countdown from the beginning and never missed a show. Also with the show from the beginning was co-host and "letters girl" Carol Vorderman, who showed that she was more than a dab hand with math challenges in the two to three "numbers rounds" of each show, where she herself would demonstrate tot he contestants and audience several ways to get a computer-calculated result from a random selection of six numbers (in other words, she was calculating on the fly at the same time as the contestants).

Countdown was one of those things I missed after Mum, Dad and I moved to Australia, and when my aunt Heather started sending us video tapes of UK TV, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that not only was Countdown still going strong, but Richard and Carol were still running the show, still thoroughly enjoying their day jobs. I made sure to sit Vickie down for a couple of shows during our trip to the UK in 2003 (even though she doesn't remember them now).

With Richard gone and Carol quite understandably shaken by the death of her colleague of twenty-three years, the show's future seems uncertain, but if Countdown does continue, the only surety is that it won't ever be quite the same without Richard's presence and often puntastic wit behind the host's desk.

Rest in peace, Richard. Even though I've not seen much of you these past few, I'll miss you.

(Readers can find more information on the show's format and presenters in this Wikipedia entry and this Hitch Hiker's Guide entry.)

June 20, 2005

Extension Granted!

Ladies and Gentlemen, some good news: Centrelink have decided to extend the contracts of all temps until mid-August! Which is bloody marvellous; takes quite a bit of pressure off, thank you!

The good bit is, I'll actually have something new to do. In addition to starting people on claims for looking-for-work payments, we're being trained in advances; i.e. determining whether people on existing payments are entitled to gettign some of their pay advanced to them. It's more like a loan, as they have to pay it back in installments across twelve months (the installments are deducted from their regular pays). Thankfully, the process is largely computerised, but it'll be a break in the sort-of monotony.

June 18, 2005

Update: June 18th, 2005

Hello all! Its been a little while since I did a full news post, so let my try to bring you up to speed on whats happening up here.

I have a little less than three weeks left in my contract at Centrelink (which has already been extended once), an Ive been keeping an eye on the papers and the Internet job boards for more jobs. Im finding more jobs that I reckon Im capable of on the Queensland Government website (they seem to need a lot of admin folks, and Im hoping its not just because some middle-managers need to justify their existence) than anywhere else, but Im also keeping a weather eye for something a little different. Im also looking at getting some MYOB experience under my belt, as many office-related jobs in Cairns require experience with the application for book keeping and/or payroll purposes.

The Horizon: Virtual WikiProject that I set up over on RPGnet is gathering a bit of steam. I seem to be making the most contributions to it right now, but a fine gentleman who goes by the handle Lord Igtenio over the Web has done quite a hefty chunk of grunt work in formatting the rewrite lists by class section. Thereve also been some additions to the waker dictionary which, Ill admit, I dont think quite work, but well see how we go. I still like how its shaping up overall.

Continue reading "Update: June 18th, 2005" »

June 12, 2005

I Don't Want Fries With That

You may already be aware of this, but the Austalian branch of McDonald's, who has bought its potatoes entirely from the Simplot company in Tasmania for the past several years, has recently decided to halve the amount of spuds it buys locally for its local branches, instead buying from McCain, who will supply potatoes from overseas. Tasmanian farmers are already protesting.

Vickie and I were thinking of boycotting Macca's; hell, we've not been buying from there in a while anyway (most of our fast food purchases have been from Red Rooster lately), but someone had a better idea: next time you go to Macca's, simply don't order fries! That way, you're keeping the cattle farmers and the young 'uns behind the counter in work while still making your displeasure known the only way that a company can understand!

The Wiki Is Back!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to announce the return of the IMAGinES Wiki! That's right, thanks to the easy-to-set-up MySQL database feature on the marvellous server Marcus set his hosting service up on (goddamn genius, that man) and the incredibly easy-to-install MediaWiki (which the RPGnet folks have been using to power their wiki), I was able to get a working wiki going!

Now, those of you who were a little turned off by having to learn the old wiki's markup will be glad to know that, while the markup itself is largely the same, the page editor has a nice little toolbar across the top that allows you to modify text as though you were using a word processor. It's not WYSIWYG, and things like hyperlinks take a little more time, but all is still good!

So sometime soon, we might have another Lexicon game, and if I have any luck getting a planned Primetime Adentures game going with my Sydney crew across the Web, I plan to use the wiki to store and develop the show bible and episode guide!

May 25, 2005

i'm alive!

Ladies and gentlemen, let me be honest here: I don't know how the hell I survived today. I am talking about survival in the literal, physical sense here. You are reading the words of a person who has found a new appreciation for the sheer experience of being alive.

You see, this morning, I pulled a work shirt out of the wardrobe without really looking at it. It was short-sleeved, it was crease-free: good enough. I got dressed, did the rest of my final pre-departure preparations, got into the car and drove to work.

Half way there, I was listening to the morning crews on the local radio stations talking about tonight's Origin match, and I realised what I had done to risk my life so:

My work shirt was blue.

So I get to work, and there's not only a preponderance of maroon tops, but also one of the teams is actually inflating maroon balloons as well.

But somehow - ask me not how, for a clue have I not - I got through the day unharassed and unmolested.

It could have been the fact that the woman I let in ahead of me was not only wearing a blue top, but an actual New South Wales rugby jersey.

I don't remember seeing her on the way out. Admittedly, I wasn't exactly looking for her, but still...

I tell you what, though: If New South Wales gets the first two and I front up at work in a blue shirt on the day of match three, it will be painful and horribly slow.

(Those overseas readers who have no idea of what I write should click here.)

May 23, 2005

His name's Dozer.

And his owner picked him up not half an hour ago. Turns out Dozer lives a few houses behind the Caltex, with his owner, Mark, the wife and two young girls who've been missing him terribly.

Mark reckons the Doze has a tendency to go walking, so we've given him our number (and taken his) should that dopey mutt ever go walkies again.

We've also told Mark that if he ever needs a place to put Dozer for a while, he's welcome here.

So that story has a happy ending, thankfully! :-D

(As a side note, our original weight estimate seems off by a few kilos. Vickie called the vet's this morning, and Lourgina who works there had also seen him wandering around. She estimated his mass by eye at between seventy and eighty kilos.)

(Considering how the suspension on Mark's 4WD/ute dropped when the big lunk got into the caged flatbed, I'd believe it...)

May 10, 2005

Yeah, but... Why?

Cribbed from the SciFi Wire news website:

Alien Vs. Predator II Is A Go

The sequel to Alien vs. Predator is happening... 20th Century Fox Film Co-Chairman Tom Rothman told SCI FI Wire at the Saturn Awards in Los Angeles.

"We will do another one of those for sure. It was a big success," Rothman said in an interview before he received a Life Career Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.

"In the new Alien vs. Predator they will finally actually really come to our world," said Rothman. The previous Alien and Predatormovies took place in the future, and Alien vs. Predator took place in a remote Antarctic location, though in modern times. The new film could bridge the gap between all the movies and the two horror film franchises, Rothman said.

Aside from the geek-factor quibbles (Both franchises set in the future? Excuse me? Did someone not watch Predator? Hell, Predator 2 was set only five, maybe six years in the future from the year it was released. Was this the Co-Chairman or SFW getting it arse about face?), I am seriously wondering how AvP merits a sequel. Did it really do that well? I mean, from my perspective, it wasn't horrid, just unrelentingly mediocre.

Then again, I thoroughly enjoyed Predator 2, an admission tht seems to earn me weird looks no matter where I say it. Probably becuase I actually saw it before I saw Predator.

April 30, 2005

If only I'd known...

In early November, I decided that, as the odds of finding fellow players in Carins were slim and as I'd not actually played it since long before I'd moved in with Vickie, I'd sell off my Necromunda gear.

Turns out that Paul, one of the gamers I met through the Meetup group, not only plays but is organising something of a tournament with a friend.

I think the word I'm looking for is "bugger".

April 24, 2005

All Quiet on the RPG Front

After the recent promise shown by my initial foray into finding/creating a tabletop gaming presence in Cairns, things seem to have slowed down a bit. The Meetup Group isn't really active, and hasn't been since the first (and last) meetup. Now that Meetup.com has introduced monthly fees, I'm debating whether to just let it die in a week or two (otherwise I'm paying $11 to $25 a month depending on how quickly I start paying).

One of the gamers we met tried to hook up with us again, but unfortunately conflicting schedules put paid to that. It's got to the point that I'm starting to suffer withdrawal symptoms! :-)

Still, there's a little recent light at the end of the tunnel. I joined a site called Fantasy Sci-Fi, an Australian outfit dedicated to finding and organising local gamers and fans, over a year ago. It too has been a bit quiet of late (heck, I hardly ever used my ID since I first signed in). However, after reactivating my ID (thanks to Trent, the owner/operator), I did notice a post by a gamer who lives up the Gillies Highway from us, looking for fellow gamers in Cairns. I replied, and so did he, so I'm privately hopeful things might eventuate soon...

I have, I think, another editorial coming up on the general gaming subject. It's prompted by this post over on the 20' By 20' Room. It's still percolating some right now.

Oh, and Vickie and I will probably spend most of Anzac Day playing Hordes of the Underdark.

Temp to Permanent?

This might be getting ahead of myself a bit, but Centrelink has advertised some local permanent positions with the call centre. I've sent my resume to the appropriate contact, so here's hoping.

The work itself will be in a slightly different area than I'm in at the moment, and the hours will be shorter - but it'll still be a permanent position, so we can relax a little more!

April 21, 2005

Live at Five (past Five)

Yes, indeed, folks: If you were in the Cairns area this evening with an FM radio tuned into 89.1 FM between just after the five o'clock regional news and before six, you would have heard the voice of yours truly coming out of your speakers! There was a little uncertainty as to what I was meant to be doing when I got there (no one talks to anyone these days), but Trish and (I think) Pat (I'm very sorry if I got that wrong!) at Cairns Community Radio were more than willing to let me have a turn on the mike.

The show was Reading for the Print Handicapped, which selects articles from the day's Cairns Post to be read out for those who have trouble reading. The articles were read in clockwise order, and the ladies were very impressed with me; it looks like I'm part of the regular slot from five to six on Thursday nights!

April 09, 2005

April 05 Update

Okay, little overdue for an update, website looked like crap for a little while. Still gotta fix that soon. Anyway: on with the update!

Firstly, things are looking up on the work front. Right about the time we got socked with some rather largish bills that would have otherwise depleted our reserves, Centrelink announced that the contacts of the temp crews (including yours truly) will be extended out to June. Concurrent with that announcement was the news that our existing hours were incorrect; we should be working from 8 AM to 4 PM instead of to 4.30 like everyone else (well, everyone else gets shifting schedules, but they only work seven and a half hours per day as opposed to our eight). We keep our existing hours until the end of April, as those were the terms negotiated with the employment agency, but after that, the contract extension will see us work two-and-a-half hours less per week.

I'm still kind of hoping that I might wind up wth a more permanent job there after the extension ends, but I am trying to keep my eyes open for other work (although it's a little tricky to look when you only get a half hour for lunch).

You may be glad to know that our dog Zelda is responsible for me getting more exercise than I have in a while. I've actually taken to walking her twice a day - well, she only got walked once today. But Zelda's decided that walking just isn't fast enough; it's a rare walk that she doesn't grab the lead with her teeth and try to get me to pick up the pace!

I'm glad of the exercise, as working at the Centrelink call centre is pretty much a sit-down job.

Continue reading "April 05 Update" »

March 23, 2005

And a Face for it, Too!

Since I started The New Job, Ive had several people tell me that I have a voice for radio. There doesnt seem to be a day at the call centre when I answer an incoming call with Thank you for waiting. This is Rob. How can I help you? and theres at least a seconds pause, followed by an Oh, Im actually speaking to a person? There was even one caller early this week (or was it last week?) that stayed this far from believing I was a real person and not a sophisticated voice response system for at least a minute.

Which is a worry, I think

Anyway, one of my colleagues suggested I get in touch with a local talent agency. I sent off a tentative e-mail almost a month ago, and got a response within a day or two. Between work and business at home, Ive been too busy to follow it up with a response, but Vickie and I composed an e-mail this evening and got it on its way.

If anything eventuates, Ill be sure to let you all know!

March 08, 2005

Tropical Cyclone Warning: Ingrid

For the past couple of days, we've had a tropical cyclone haging around off our coast. The Bureau of Meteorology has christened her Tropical Cyclone Ingrid, and she's pretty much my first experience of living in Cyclone Country.

I don't know where she was born, but Ingrid was raised in the ocean around the Cooktown area, and since then she's been slowly making her way south. Right now, the coast north of us from Lockhart River to Port Douglas is on cyclone warning, and the watch region was all the way down to Innisfail (Cairns is pretty much smack in the middle of Port Douglas and Innisfail) until not long ago. Ingrid is heading southwest at around 8km/hr, so it seems likely that if she hits, she'll keep going inland.

Of course, the main thing long years of cyclone watch has taught Far North Queenslanders is that cyclones are damned unpredictable. So Vickie asked me to stop on the way home and bought some supplies; bateries, tape for the windows, bottles of water, that sort of thing. We're pretty much set, and from the looks of the business the local supermarket was doing this evening, so is half of Gordonvale. We're also keeping an eye on the Bureau's Queensland Cyclone page and an ear on the radio for updates.

Continue reading "Tropical Cyclone Warning: Ingrid" »

February 22, 2005

First Cairns Job!

Newsflash: Tomorrow morning, I'll be going into the Centrelink Cairns call centre to start two months (two weeks' training, six weeks' work) as an enquiries call centre operator. From what I've been told, it's eight until four, five days a week, at around $20 an hour (including tax, I think).

If it doesn't lead to something permanent, it's definitely a local job for my resume! Thanks to Leanne at CHR for getting me the work!

Oh crap - I have to get up at six AM again, don't I?

February 20, 2005

Moving In: The Great Job Hunt

After a week or two of settling in, I started looking for a job in earnest. One of the major local papers, the Cairns Post, includes Career Ones job listings for the area, and Id been perusing the Career One website since before we left. Id tried applying for a traineeship at the Cairns Courthouse, but didnt hear back, so two Tuesdays ago I went for an interview at one of the local corporate recruiting firms. My big goal at the moment is to get something similar to the administrative work I was doing at EDS, but it looks as though thats not likely at the moment, as Precruitment hasnt called me since the interview (I did make a follow-up call myself last Tuesday and will again the day after tomorrow).

A day after my Precruitment interview, I got a phone call from the Courthouse; it turns out that, while I didnt make it to their short-list for the traineeships, I was being considered for some temp work. I went in for an interview two Thursdays ago; things seemed to go well and I was told theyd be making their decision this Friday gone. Ive not heard, so it looks like I missed out there, but well see.

Speaking of this Friday gone, I also went for an interview at another employment firm. I went in, handed in my resume and was given some forms to fill out, and as soon as I was done, I was told one of their officers had a temporary job they reckoned Id be a good fit for! We spoke about it; its call centre work, but it pays well, and its a foot in the door of an organisation, not to mention local experience. The officer said she should get back to me on Monday, and if things went well, Id have an interview on Wednesday and with any luck be working by Monday week!

There are also a couple of TAFE jobs that look very interesting, one of which looks to be a good fit for my skills and pays pretty darned well. I have to phone them up about the position, and will do so tomorrow. Heres hoping

Moving In: The New Kitchen

One of the things that happened to our Gordonvale place while we were living in Sydney was the near-wrecking of a kitchen thanks to a burst water line outside the house. It wouldnt have been a problem had the tenants closed the kitchen window before going out as standard rent conditions specify; because they didnt, the water came gushing through the kitchen window and saturated all the chipboard cupboards and worktops.

Thankfully, weve got a cheque from the insurance form for the damage, and weve spoken to the cabinetmaker who provided the company with a quote. For an extra two grand, hell re-design the kitchen instead of just restoring it to its prior condition, so well be getting new cupboards and a decent pantry. Weve chosen colours and handles, and hell be coming over on Wednesday to knock the old fittings out and install the new ones.

In preparation, weve been taking all of the old wallpaper off the walls. The glue-paper between the wallpaper and the walls has been giving us a little grief, but thankfully, weve discovered a fairly easy way to get it off the wall that involves a paint-scraper and a spray bottle of water. Were also planning to tackle the dining room, but thats not quite as high a priority.

Weve also taken off most of the wallpaper covering the front wall of our living room as well; were planning to give the kitchen and living room a new coat of paint (the kitchen will be white, while the living room will be some form of beige, I think).

Other renovation plans including installing a decent wall between the master bedrooms walk-in wardrobe and the computer room (the current divider is just a flimsy sheet of wood).

I know several of you have been asking for photos of the current place. I'll take a couple of the front tomorrow morning, once I've had at the front lawn with the whipper-snipper. I think Vickie would probably kill me if I tried taking photos of anything inside before we renovate!

Rob and Vickie's Big Trip North

This will be a long one, so Im breaking it up over multiple posts.

We were planning on the journey from Sydney to Cairns taking two to three nights, and at first it looked as though we were on track. We spent the Thursday night after the removalists had turned up and the frantic clean and tidy we did on the now-empty house at Fraser Road at the Ascot Motor Inn on the highway. After breakfast, we met with the man who ran the real-estate agency for the final inspection, and aside from some dust spots wed missed (on top of a cabinet and in a wardrobe) things went well. We finally finished up around midday, and found out the new tenants were moving in bare hours later. We went up the highway to just outside Newcastle, then headed northwest. We made it all the way to Narrabri, and stopped in at a nice motel with a good restaurant (best garlic bread Ive ever had).

We pressed on the second day, and I got to see quite a bit more of country New South Wales. Even through we were a few thousand kilometres northeast fo where the movie was filmed, I started feeling like we were in Mad Max country. Something about those empty two lane country roads over rolling hills, I suppose. Maybe also because we actually turned off the air conditioning and wound the windows down; it felt a little less like we were in a cocoon or playing a Road Trip video game.

Damn, this country can be a broad, flat place. I dont think Ive ever been anywhere aside from ear the sea where there arent mountains or trees to get in the way of the horizon. You realise at moments like that that the Earth is curved, and that everything else drops away behind and below that broad, flat line. Some great country, although its easy to get bored with if youre not driving. (Thankfully, I drove for most of the trip; as much as she hated not sharing some of the load, Vickie wound up with blurred vision and pains quite quickly when she got behind the wheel.)

As the light started to fade, we pulled into a town called Taroom, near the south side of the border. We stopped at the first motel we saw by that stage, my lower back was killing me and got a room easily. This time, we made sure we got a breakfast menu in quick smart. (We did a lot of lunches at Maccas on the way up. Did you know almost all of the northern New South Wales and Queensland branches sell Frozen Coke?)

We got a fairly early start in the next day, and by mid-morning we were over the border. You could see Vickie visibly relax and cheer up; she even yelled Yes! at the sight of the Welcome to Queensland road sign! Once again, it was a Maccas lunch, at Rockhampton this time. As we approached the town, we could see the clouds pressing in, and made the decision to stop in Mackay rather than try and press on all the way up to Cairns.

Even if wed tried to make the rest of the journey in one hit, the decision had been made for us. It started raining halfway between the two towns. By the time we got to Mackay, visibility had dropped phenomenally and I was running the wipers on maximum speed just to get a glimpse out of the windscreen. It was the worst rain Id ever driven in, and we definitely decided to stop at the first motel we found. That was the Mackay Motor Inn. I remember it well; the overnight stay wed planned on wound up being stretched to three nights. The rain had flooded almost all northbound roads out of Mackay, and it was at least a couple of days before even four-wheel drive vehicles could get through. There are definitely much worse places to be stuck for a few days, though. We finally felt safe leaving Mackay on Australia Day, and thankfully, there was almost no water on the roads (aside from a broad patch on the way out of town, where I very nearly had my first experience with hydroplaning).

The rain did indeed close in again as we continued north, but never in enough volume to prevent safe driving. Vickie started seeing familiar mountain ranges in the early afternoon, and as evening moved in, we finally spotted Walshs Pyramid, the large, conical mountain that dominates Gordonvale. We arrived at our place around half past six, had a quick look around and then bunked in with Vickies son Karl and his wife Jodie. That was, of course, where we met the Doberman pup that Karl rescued, who became our new pet, Zelda.

Vickies post on her web log chronicles Zeldas story, as well as our wrangling with the real estate agent the next morning over the state that our place got left in by the last tenants. I wont go into it here as I rally dont feel like digging around in that angst again. The removalist truck arrived around midday, and we spent the better part of a week getting everything unpacked and where we wanted it.

We had our digital camera with us, right there in the glove box, for the entire trip. Of course, we didnt take a single picture.

February 11, 2005

Rest In Peace, Mr. President.

I had my chance, I made the best of it, Im highly satisfied, and trying to find a dignified way to get off the stage without bumping into the furniture.
- Ossie Davis, The Making of Bubba Ho-Tep

Ossie Davis, an actor distinguished for roles dealing with racial injustice on stage, screen and in real life ... has died at the age of 87.
- Yahoo!News, Friday February 4th, 2005

Well miss you, Ossie.

February 09, 2005

All Moved In!

Hi everyone! Just a quick post to let you know that Vickie and I made it North safely. We've only just had our ADSL connected up this very morning, and have both been cleaning phenomenal amounts of mail out of our inboxes - most of it notifications of spam comments and, in a new twist, spam TrackBacks. My weblog tells me I have 556 comments, and I don't even have that many postings. So we'll probably be doing a bit of cleaning up.

Anyway, more news soon!

January 19, 2005

Off the Air for a While

Just a quick notice to let everyone know that Vickie and I are in the final stages of packing - which means that my PC will soon be packed away. With any luck, we'll be live again around the 28th.

January 07, 2005

I Don't Envy Their Luck...

In an earlier post, I mentioned that British firm Pendragon Pictures had completed shooting of a true-to-the-novel film of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. Since early December, I've been waiting with baited breath for the first special effects trailer, in which, hopefully, we would get glimpses of director Timothy Hines' take on Wells' Martians and their Machines. The original date given was "Late December", which became January 6th, which came and went (at least, in australia) with no new trailer. I checked again this morning; still nothing.

Then, just now, I had another look. Where the trailer's release date was, there's now a link that states "Click here for a word about the new THEATRICAL TRAILER". My heart fell. Obviously, no new trailer yet.

Then I clicked on the link.

Now, if you've been following Pendragon's effort as closely as I, you'll know that Hines, like Spielberg and Cruise, originally opted to do a modern re-telling of Wells' work. He was in pre-production on September the 11th, 2001, but felt he couldn't continue when his plot included planes falling from the sky as the Martians detonate EMP bombs across the globe. So he revamped his production from the ground up as a direct adaptation of Wells' novel in its original early-twentieth-century setting.

Without intent of downplaying or degrading the tragedy of either the World Trade Centre attack or the recent tsunamis in the Indian Ocean - you'd just hate to be in Timothy Hines' shoes right now, eh?

January 04, 2005

Auction: Robotech Collector's Cards

Yet another eBay auction: This time, I've put my collection of Robotech trading cards up. These were given to me as a gift a few years ago and I've kept them in good condition ever since. As I've barely even looked at them in that time, I thought they'd be better going to the home of a collector rather than moving with us to humid Cairns.

January 02, 2005

Auctions: TV and Books

Now that Christmas is out of the way, I've relisted the Delta Green books and put a new auction up for our old 68cm TV. Please wander along and have a look!

January 01, 2005

Closed for Holidays

If you've been to our place on a regular basis, you probably know about the Normanhurst Pizza Cafe and the bloody wonderful pizza they make. God knows I've mentioned them enough times on this web log.

Vickie and I were hoping to have one last get-together feast there before we left for Cairns, both for the people who couldn't make our Christmas party and everyone else we like. Unfortunately, though, they're closed until January the 24th, fully three days after Vickie and I commence our move North.

Let me just say that Joe, Helen and the crew of the Cafe all deserve all the holiday they can get. It's just a bugger for us greedy bastards, is all.

So where else can we drag everyone to?

December 29, 2004

Merry Halo Day er, Christmas 2004 Everyone!

I know Im a few days late on this I offer stress and Christmas busy-ness as an excuse but Id just like to wish everyone here a Merry Christmas. I hope your day was smooth, easy and fun-filled. The New Years Best Wishes will be delivered on time!

We spent most of our Christmas Day at Dads place, braving the Family one last time. There was an unavoidable tension in the air unfortunately: it was the first Christmas since Mum died, and she loved this time of the year. Dad was, of course, really feeling it, which meant that he got inebriated and took some pot-shots at me again, but I wore them as best I could. Im not always good with other peoples pain, especially when the relationship is as strained as mines been with my family since Vickie and I moved in together, so I didnt handle some things as well as I could have. But, we managed to leave in the evening on fairly good terms.

Continue reading "Merry Halo Day er, Christmas 2004 Everyone!" »

December 17, 2004

Yeah, and a Merry Fucking Christmas to You, Too.

So, yeah. I'm home a bit early today. Call it a protest against the management of the firm I'm resigning from.

See, a couple of weeks ago, my new manager holds his first department meeting. At the end, he talks about plans for Christmas Eve, and says that he'd like to organise a Christmas lunch. However, the company won't chip in; we have to fund it ourselves. Afterwards, we can all rack off early.

Now, I figure this is the closest thing we're going to get to a Christmas party this year. We had one last year, but the company Social Club funded that, mostly on staff donations. The Social Club hasn't had too much luck this year, and there's been no word from them. There have also been stories of Christmas parties over the last couple of years, being funded entirely on the empolyees' dime, getting canned by management.

So just after I have lunch, one of the guys from another department pops around to our area. It seems he couldn't get in touch with half his team, who work in North Sydney, via regular channels - and when he finally got in touch with one of them, he found out that all of North Sydney and the City offices, plus the Account team for our largest client, had all been invited by the new head of Asia Pacific South to a Christmas party at the Domain from lunchtime onward. Not one person at the Burwood campus - four buildings' worth of people - had been invited. I managed to confirm his story, thanks to a colleague in one of the city offices.

I suddenly thought, "I'm buggered if I'm sticking around here for the rest of the day."

In the middle of redundancies as jobs are outsourced to Malaysia and record-low morale, upper management pulls a stunt like this. From my perspective, it's just the latest in a series of events that have convinced me that my decision to take Vickie and I back to Cairns was correct.

December 11, 2004

The Other War Of The Worlds Movies

Well, this is intersting! Back in 2001, a small UK film studio named Pendragon Pictures was working on a War of the Worlds film, doing a modern-day adaptation like the Cruise/Spielberg one. After 9/11, though, they decided to re-vamp the production to be more faithful to the original novel.

When Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg announced their War of the Worlds project, I assumed that the Pendragon Pictures venture woulld probably have quietly faded away, especially as there was nothing new on their website on it. Not so, as it turns out - principal photography has wrapped on H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, and they're expecting to have an FX-inclusive trailer later this month.

I was hoping that one or the other would have Jeff Wayne's soundtrack - but now it looks as though neither will, because Jeff's working on his own bloody movie, entirely computer generated and also set in Victorian England.

Plus, his Musical will be remixed by Sony in 5.1 for re-release and, it would seem, presented in an Interactive Theatre Experience!

They must be invading! I mean it! It's sorta like what New Jersey said: it's the ultimate cover!

Continue reading "The Other War Of The Worlds Movies" »

War of the Worlds Trailer Up

That's right, Martians: The teaser trailer for Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds has arrived. And boy, is it a teaser. It gives almost nothing away, while setting a suspenseful mood and promising action.

I like its handy paraphrasing of the first paragraph of Wells' novel, although I think they could have done better with their choice of voice-over guy. I'm not too sure abut the poster, though - either it's an early homage to the 1950s movie or they're going to be using that movie's Martian design over Wells' Martians. And I'm also a bit miffed that there's no music so far - I have no idea whether Jeff Wayne's score is going to be used or not. (It probably won't, but I'm still holding out hope.)

December 10, 2004

A Solution to the Surround Sound Stumper?

Interestingly enough, it was a piece of comment spam that hipped me to the little gadget that could be the solution to my surround sound problem. I had around five spams to clean off the web log this evening, and one was entitled "Creative Labs Creative DDTS-100 Decoder". My interest was immediately piqued. If anyone would have an unamplified digital decoder, I figure it would have to be Creative, makers of sound cards and PC surround sound speakers (which are also powered by an amp in the subwoofer).

I cleaned off the comment spam, but immediately went to Creative's web page and started browsing. Sure enough, the dingus exists, and if the online PDF manual is any indication (which it jolly well should be), it does look as though it will accept digital input from several sources and output it to unamplified 5.1.

A few Australian web retailers sell the gadget at around $300-350, which is still $150-200 cheaper than the lowest commercial hi-fi amplifier/receiver/decoder.

So, yeah, Boots: Any chance yould order me one of these with the Netgear wireless bridge after Christmas, mate? Buddy? Pal? Absolutely awesome, y' know, righteous dude? (Is this enough sucking up? I can always provide more...)

November 28, 2004

Comfy Chairs 4 Sale!

Vickie and I just bought ourselves a couch on eBay. It'll be going in front of our TV where our green armchair and rocking chair are now - which means we need somewhere for our green armchair and rocking chair to go.

Rather than just put them straight on eBay, we're wondering whether any of you folks would like them. Most of you have sat in them at one point, so you know how comfy they are.

Would you be interested?

November 25, 2004

Okay, now you really must be joking...

Species was a pretty good thriller with an interesting SF/horror angle, a nifty design by H. R. Giger and some decent actors.

Species II was a cheesy horror sequel with horrid dialogue and woeful misuse of said decent actors. At least H. R. Giger's design was kept fairly intact.

Now it seems MGM has gone and made Species III, and it hasn't even made it to theatres. From what info I've seen, the only recurring cast member is Natasha Henstridge - and even then, it looks like she's only in it for the first minute. From the photos, it looks like they've even managed to cheapen H. R. Giger's design.

You have to worry when even the clips have extensive disclaimers.

November 21, 2004

Vipers, Clear To Launch On Ten

Okay, so Vickie and I were watching the Australian Idol Grand Finale this evening. We've been enjoying this year's competitin, and have been pretty much behind Anthony Callea ever since he knocked both our socks off by performing The Prayer as his Idol's Choice. (I wish I had a voice like that.) All our best to Casey Donovan, though, and frankly, considering her talent, hers is a well-deserved win.

But anyway, the last commercial break before The Big Announcement is made, Channel Ten puts on its "Big Event TV 2005" ad, and in amongst the announcements of next year's Big Brother (does anyone really need to ask why I don't believe in an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god) and Australian Idol (and this new talent show, The X Factor) they not only announce that there's going to be an ongoing series of The 4400 (not entirely surprising, as the miniseries did wrap with this very "it's really a pilot" feel), but...

THE NEW
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA


IS COMING TO
AUSTRALIAN FREE-TO-AIR TV!

Yes, I am fucking stoked.

Continue reading "Vipers, Clear To Launch On Ten" »

Garage Sale December 12th

On the general topic of selling stuff, Vickie and I are having a Garage - well, Carport - Sale on Sunday, December the twelfth, starting at 9 AM and ending at 5 PM or when all the items we have up for offer are sold (whichever is earliest). We'll have gardening books, clothes, craft books and materials, household items, cookery books, novels, magazines and the odd computer game. Please wander along with your cash and take away a bargain!

If you need our address or contact details, please send me an e-mail. We'll have signs posted in the area, so you shouldn't have much problem finding us!

New Auctions: Novels and Tie-Ins

Hi, everyone,

Just a quick heads-up: I'm getting rid of some more stuff on eBay. Nothing actually RPG, but one lot of RPG tie-ins and three other lots for sale: my Call of Cthulhu/Delta Green novel collection, the WorldWar alternate history/alien invasion series by Harry Turtledove, an abridged Star Trek: Spaceflight Chronology from 1979 and a 1983 British annual for the Thunderbirds 2086 animated series!

November 19, 2004

Nothing More to Confess

A bit of bad news today. Mitch Evans, the Doc who owns and operates Docs Blog: Confessions of a Game Addict, has decided to close his web log down. I've been finding less and less enthusiasm for the blog, he writes. I have a high article to response ratio. That tells me that the topics I cover must be a bit off-target... Talking to myself isn't what I had in mind. :)

Mitch goes on to write, If there's anything you would like to keep, I suggest you archive it now.

Continue reading "Nothing More to Confess" »

November 17, 2004

Eight Weeks' Notice

I forgot to mention: on Monday morning, I handed in notice of my resignation at work. I was going to wait until mid-next month, but our decision was already made and I was getting sick of sitting on it (and not doing a particularly good job of it either).

The reaction from my colleagues has been very positive. They've wished me the best of luck, reckoned I shouldn't have much trouble finding work in Cairns and have often asked whether we have a spare room!

Now all that's left is to tell Dad. That'll be this evening; I'm meeting him at the RSL after work.

Wish me luck, eh? I'm not exactly looking forward to it.

November 09, 2004

Firefly on Australian TV!

"Time for some thrilling heroics..."
- Jayne, "The Train Job"

Had a phone call from Dan earlier on; seems he was looking through the TV guide earlier today when he chanced to come upon Firefly screening past midnight on our very own Channel 7!

The NineMSN TV Guide and Channel 7's guide has it at 1 AM Wednesday. The episode is "The Train Job", the second pilot for the show, so if you've not seen Firefly and you feel like staying up, I heartily encourage you to experience it!

November 07, 2004

No Chrissie Pressies!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the announcement of our 2004 Christmas Party on the web. We've not yet sent out the invitations as we promised we would - they'll be going out via snail mail and e-mail this week - but there's one thing that Vickie and I would just like to make known, in the spirit of peace and good will.

Vickie and I have had a long-standing policy when it comes to Christmas presents, and that's that they're for family. We know that we have a top group of friends, and we love yas all; a seasonal card with your autograph (hey, it'll be worth a lot soon) will make us just as happy as an inexpensive or even expensive present! Save your money for your parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, kids and January sales. We'll feel much better knowing that your money is going toward staving off the emotional blackmail your families reserve for when you don't get 'em something (or get 'em enough)!

Your love and good-will is present enough for us. If you must give us a gift, the only one we ask for is the gift of keeping in touch after we've moved to Cairns.

November 06, 2004

Anyone got a Ute?

Over the next couple of weeks, Vickie and I are going to be getting some furniture that we've won from eBay. Our little car, of course, isn't going to be big enough to carry these pieces from where they are to our place. So we're wondering: Do any of you have (or know someone who has) a ute that we could get access to (driving it ourselves isn't mandatory) for a day or two?

October 24, 2004

Goddamn Right Ear.

Hi, everyone! Another week and Im overdue on another update; once again, the web page looks wonky. So whats been going on? A few ups and downs. Lets start on an up, with Thursday.

Gav is a common poster on a segment of the RPGnet Forums called Tangency; basically home to discussion of anything and everything not specifically RPG-related. (I think it was there he picked up on Firefly.) Also a regular poster is a gentleman by the name of Steve Darlington, a Brisbane resident who happens to be a mad gamehead. Hes held in high regard by the RPGnet crew and the RPG community in general; until recently, he edited the online gaming zine Places To Go, People To Be and wrote his own free roleplaying game, There Is No Spoon, set in the world of The Matrix (which many have gone ga-ga over). Myself, I reckon hes a wizard at deconstructing items of popular culture specifically movies to find their tropes and how to best incorporate them into a roleplaying game; his rules for Deals and Fates in There Is No Spoon and his notes on how to bring that Star Wars flavour into your Star Wars RPG sessions in Issue 22 of Places To Go, People To Be are prime examples.

Anyway, a little while ago he announced he was heading down to Sydney for a week and wanted to hook up with as many Tangency-ites as possible. He managed to scrape together three: Gav, myself and Belinda (whom I think I recognise from the Sydney RPG con scene). We had a pleasant dinner at the Normanhurst Pizza Caf, discussing games, Cairns, popular culture and the like, then rocked back to my place for a little of Gavs Star Munchkin.

There was talk of Steve turning up to the planned Firefly Day on Saturday, but as he was getting back from the Jenolan Caves that afternoon, he wasnt sure whether hed be too buggered to turn up. In the end, as we had so few people coming along, and as Vickie and I were going to be heading into Bondi that morning to pick up some chairs wed bought on eBay, I canned the Firefly Day. (I also got snippy with Sim for what I thought was double-booking, when wed actually never firmed up her coming over here; for some odd reason, her e-mail account doesnt seem to like messages from the IMAGinewS group. I made sure to apologise.)

My right ear has been giving me trouble again since the middle of the week, and on Friday afternoon it plugged up, so I left work early. I nipped out in the evening to get some food and some videos for Vickie and I, and on coming home from one of those trips, I managed to put a nasty dent in the cars right rear wheels fender while coming into our awkward driveway. We cant afford to get it fixed right at the moment, so well get it done when we get to Cairns (where its likely to be quite a lot cheaper).

[CAUTION: Too Much Information Warning! Please skip ahead to the next paragraph if unfortunate bodily functions disturb!] At the moment, the ear is still giving me grief. It's had repeated treatments of Waxsol and peroxide, and although we've got heaps of gunk out of my ear, there seems to be a hard chunk that refuses to move; it's quite painful. I'll probably be off to see the doctor tomorrow, see if I can get it cleared.

Vickie and I made the aforementioned trip to Bondi yesterday morning, sweating for a good quarter of an hour to fit six high-backed chairs into the back of the car. We spent most of yesterday afternoon cleaning the cushions and polishing the wood, although there seem to be some stains that unfortunately refuse to come out. Also, the chairs are still a bit too low for our table, so were thinking of selling the table and getting something new (before we leave or after we get to Cairns, Im not sure)

Sim and Jason dropped over during the afternoon; as Sim works as a dockmaster, she has a nigh-unlimited supply of boxes, some of which shes donating to our cause. We also managed to show them the first half of Serenity, the pilot episode of Firefly, and theyre definitely hooked especially as we stopped it right on the cliff-hanger mystery!

A while after they left, Gav dropped over for a few hours. We finally got to show him the rest of Equilibrium, which he liked.

Oh, yeah, thats right: those DVDs I got out from the video store. They were the Disney animated film Brother Bear, which we watched on Friday night and found most enjoyable, and the British comedy/true story Calendar Girls last night, which was hilarious.

October 17, 2004

Season 3 Has Commenced!

That's right, all you fellow Red Versus Blue nuts out there: the lads at Rooster Teeth Productions have released the first episode of Season 3 for your viewing enjoyment!

No word as yet on if/when they'll be starting the donations scheme again, but as soon as they do I'll be donating a chunk of my hard-earned!

October 16, 2004

Moving Sale: Geek Stuff Galore!

After deciding that a move to Cairns was to be more than just talk, the first thing Vickie and I needed to determine was the when. The main limit is the tenants at our place in Gordonvale; we need them out, of course, before we can move in. Our paperwork tells us we have to give two months notice to our tenants, and we think we need to do some planning and organization before we take that step, so that puts our move up to Cairns in mid-January.

So with moving on our minds, were starting to look around our possessions here at Fraser Road with an eye toward deciding what will come with us and what can be sold or disposed of (mainly because it will be too costly to move, but also because we likely wont need it). Wed prefer to actually sell; Vickies going to be emptying her super to pay for the move and the required renovations when we get there (considering the state of the place at our last inspection in January, the existing tenants will doubtlessly be leaving the place in a shambles).

Continue reading "Moving Sale: Geek Stuff Galore!" »

October 13, 2004

End of the Campaign - and possibly an Era

My players already know this, but a couple of days ago, I decided to close the Corsairs Campaign down. It's been disappointing for my players and I, but with the pressures of late, I didn't see it continuing intact.

The campaign may have not been long for the world anyway. As I said in last blog post, with recent events Vickie and I have got rather sick and tired of Sydney. Yesterday, I found out that my manager, who has been long overworked and underpaid with little sign of reprieve, has finally decided to resign from her position. This on top of everything else has stopped Vickie and I from just talking about going back to Cairns; we've actually started to plan.

I'm not sure how long it'll be before we finally make the move, but we figure I've got better odds of finding a job in Cairns if I'm actually there to be interviewed.

We've made a good home at Fraser Road for over three years, and we've been glad to welcome our friends here - but we see TV shows talking about cancer caused by microparticulates in diesel fumes and realise we live right next to a main truck route. We read about the drop in water levels and realise Sydney might become a dust-bowl in the next couple of years. We feel our jobs drive us up the wall and realise that we're not likely to get any kind of raise that'll allow us to keep up with the rising cost of living in Sydney, let alone allow me to accomplish my dream of being able to support both of us on my income alone. We watch this city chew people up and spit them out, and realise the only way to get ahead in its rat race is to become a rat yourself. We see what rats do to other people in order to stay ahead, and realise that's not what either of us wants to become.

The only thing we really don't like is that, while we'll keep in touch, we won't be able to see our good friends much any more; even now we don't see them as often as we'd like. And that thought hurts - but Vickie and I don't see any other way to keep our health and our sanity.

It's time we got out of here.

October 11, 2004

Blah.

Youve most likely noticed that Ive not really done much posting over the past few weeks. With all the recent pressures, Ive been in something of a funk when it came to sitting down in front of my computer and hitting the keys. Sometimes, Ive felt that Ive not had anything in particular to say; at others, Ive just not been able to stand the sight of my keyboard. A colleague at my first IT job told me once that he couldnt stand computers, that he avoided them. Recently, Ive actually started understanding his viewpoint.

Since our wedding, Vickie and I have been hoping for a little us-time so that we can just settle into being a married couple. Unfortunately, life seems to have had other plans. The most recent crisis has just settled down somewhat, but its got to the point that were starting to seriously consider getting the heck out of Sydney and moving to Cairns. Its pretty much reliant on me finding a decently paying job up there, and weve not had much luck so far. Weve missed the birthdays of my great-aunt and uncle, mainly because weve just not felt like bearing my family not exactly the most sympathetic attitude on my part, considering the loss of my Mum, but then again, none of them have been in any particular hurry to keep in touch with us.

Were slowly easing into our new banking arrangements, and we havent quite been able to put away as much as wed hoped over the past couple of weeks in fact, weve had to do some more juggling in order to get the major bills paid but thankfully I get paid on Friday, so we should be okay after that.

I'm still running behind on uploading the old posts. Also, I've had a request or two for the re-establishment of the Wiki, but unfortunately our webmaster is holidaying in Vietnam at the moment, and as I wouldn't know how to handle the server back-end, it'll have to wait until he gets back. I've also been falling behind on Doc's Game Dreams - must catch up on those sometime.

Changing the subject, Ive been playing through more of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on the Xbox lately. Id got stuck at one particular point a while ago and left the game aside, but not long ago decided to have another stab at it. Now (with a little help from Dan) Im pretty close to the end of the campaign, and I tell you what: all those comments I read about the plot of Knights of the Old Republic being better than the Prequel Trilogy are pretty much on the mark. It even has a twist worthy of Star Wars. I cant wait to see how it ends, and Id like to play it through again and I cant wait for Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. It looks as though it may well be an all-round improvement on the original.

I also did something potentially very publicly silly recently. Some of you know this dark secret; the rest of you will have to wait and see or perhaps not.

Oh, and go see Wimbledon sometime. Its another Working Title romatic comedy, true, but its got Paul Bettany as the leading man, and what can we say but about bloody time!

September 25, 2004

Speaking of posthumous continuations...

I just entered an "I Own It" check-mark and a rating against Amazon's catalogue entry for The Great Book of Amber, and all of a sudden I'm getting recommendations for a series of books by John G. Betancourt, called Roger Zelazny's The Dawn Of Amber, a trilogy set prior to the original novels, establishing the rise of Oberon. Reviews appear to be mixed, but generally positive.

Doubt I'll bother, though.

September 23, 2004

September 2004 Update

Hi, everyone. Im quite a bit overdue on a general update post; Ich bin ein slackbugger lately.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who called or wrote or dropped over or sent a card or otherwise gave emotional support over the past few weeks. Life really seems to have been dealing some body-blows lately, and we (Vickie, me, Dad, family, friends of family) have been trying to roll with them as best we can.

By and large, Vickie and I havent been doing too much aside form working over the past few weeks. A little while ago, we went to see The Bourne Supremacy. Ive been meaning to write a review, but in the meantime let me give you the short version: Knowing what I was in for, I enjoyed this film more than the first film, and would have thoroughly enjoyed it had it not been for the motion-sickness-inducing handheld camerawork.

With general angst a little bit behind me, I got around to knocking over the novel trilogy by polishing off the heavy fictional angst of The Bourne Ultimatum. Let me just say now that if the Bourne novels are any indication them and The Parsifal Mosaic, in fact Robert Ludlum loved putting his characters in the pressure cooker. I mean, seriously, the novels didnt let up until the end, sometimes not until the last ten pages!

After that, I bought Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Legacy, the new novel written by Eric van Lustbader at the behest of the Ludlum Estate. It was an interesting read, but there was a definite difference in tone, and van Lustbaders portrayal of Bourne is often jarringly at odds with how Ludlum wrote him. Still, it kept me interested if not as hooked as Ludlums original novels to the end, which left me with a smile.

Lauren will be glad to know that I purchased The Great Book of Amber all ten of Roger Zelaznys Amber fantasy novels and pretty much ploughed through it during our honeymoon. Fun, but kind of odd; never quite what I was expecting, even though Id picked up the general details of the Amber universe via osmosis from the RPG crowd.

Speaking of RPGs, Dan ran another session of his Bubblegum Crisis campaign last Saturday, which was fun; it looks as though the next one will probably be on Saturday week. Ive still got to sort out whats happening with the Corsairs Campaign; I want to get an e-mail out to my players by Saturday at least.

Also on the same topic, I happened to notice that one of Military Simulations current crazy specials is the entire Blue Planet v2 product line, going for $75. Its an interesting acquisition to consider, especially as Fantasy Flight Games discontinued the line, and it might be worth a bit more than $75 on eBay in six months to a year but there are also a couple of fun-looking computer and video games on their way at the moment: Evil Genius and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. (Im not including Halo 2 as I already have a pre-order on it.)

However, all of the above (excepting Halo 2) are on hold until after Christmas. Vickie and I are instituting a restructure of our bank accounts that will cut down on impulse spending of money that should be saved to pay off the bigger, more irregular bills (like rego and repairs, electricity, subscriptions, etcetera).

Speaking of impulse spending: in the same purchase as The Bourne Legacy, I picked up the second, third and fourth DVDs in the Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles series. Vickie and I had good fun watching through them, and Im still looking forward to the RPG!

We also have a fair few birthdays coming up in October that wed prefer to divert our disposable income toward. Unfortunately, were going to be a bit too exhausted to attend Laurens party on Friday night, but we plan to swing by her place on Saturday and help consume the leftovers.

On the general blogging front, I know I still have to add in the rest of my absent history, especially as the activity log shows a few searches for old posts that aren't back up yet. I should have done some over the past few days while Vickie was working, but I decided to slack off instead! :-) I'll get to 'em!

September 14, 2004

Just Glad It Wasn't Worse

IMPORTANT BREAKING NEWS

Just went over to SimLauren's LiveJournal and found this bit of bad news.

Lauren, I know you'll probably have seen the comment and the SMS by the time you read this, but Vickie and I send all our best and are very glad that you managed to escape relatively unscathed and very sorry to read that Dorothy will probably be written off.

September 10, 2004

Volunteers Required Tomorrow Night to Eat Food

After a small family dinner this evening, Vickie and I have a heap of leftover roast pork and other grub that need to be eaten. All you need to do is turn up at our place tomorrow evening after, say, six.

For an added incentive, I can do a screening of Seasons 1 and 2 of Red Vs. Blue or even Firefly (which more people must watch).

We have enough for us plus anywhere from two to five, so e-mail or call us if you're interested and available; first come, first served. Transportation can be provided if required.

September 08, 2004

Last Night's CSI and Cold Case

I know, I know, I'm posting dring work hours, but this is a matter of life and death. For some reason God only knows, I set everything up last night - properly - tape was rewound, program set up, I even made sure to switch the VCR off with the remote (which is what actiates the time-record) - and still the damned VCR didn't run. I have no idea why.

As a result, Vickie missed CSI and the premiere episode of Cold Case, which she was very much looking forward to seeing. So is there any chance any of you taped them last night? If so, can I get my mitts on them ASAP, please? I can even drive around and pick them up from you tonight or tomorrow night.

September 06, 2004

Rob Is A Married Man

Now, I think almost everyone who wanders in here on a regular basis already knows that Vickie and I got married on August the 14th. I've been a little hesitant to make the news public on my own website, as my family didn't know, and as they aren't particularly keen on the whole idea of my relationship with Vickie, I wasn't sure when would be a good time to tell them.

After recent events, though, I told Dad last Friday, so I figure it's now safe to publicly acknowledge the union of Vickie and I! I'd also like to say here and now that it's probably the best thing I've ever done (it's up ther with moving in with Vickie in the first place).

Vickie's latest posting on her website tells you all about the wedding and the honeymoon. You can also follow the link to her online photo album and see the event for yourself!

I love you, my darling wife Vickie!

August 28, 2004

RIP Anne Farquhar

Most of the IMAGinewS group and my close friends already know about this, but I figured it was about time I posted something on the website.

Early yesterday morning, my Mum Anne died in her sleep.

We have no idea what took her. She was strong and healthy up until about a week ago, when she came down with something that seemed a combination of the flu and a migraine. I spoke with Mum on the phone on Tuesday, trying to figure out a Dad's Day present for Dad. She mentioned that she was in bed with the flu, but otherwise seemed quite fine; I figured Mum was well on her way to recovery.

It seems Mum took a turn fo the worse on Thursday night. She was up all night and finaly got to bed when Dad got up to take the dogs out for their Friday morning walk. When he got back in, she'd already gone.

I think those of you who had the chance to meet her know what a strong lady my Mum was; she was fun to know, a fellow science fiction nerd and totally in love with my Dad, who returned that love without reservation. Needless to say, Dad's in pieces right now.

I'm doing okay at the moment. Vickie and I went to Mum & Dad's as soon as we could after getting the news, and I got to see Mum and say a good-bye before the coroner removed the body. I think the rest will come out at the funeral.

Thank you to everyone who's been in touch with condolences and best wishes.

I love her. I miss her.

[UPDATE 8 December:] After three months of waiting, Dad finally got a report back form the coroner, who's given cause of death as a form of pneumonia.

To say Dad's angry is an understatement; Mum saw visited a doctor once a week before she died and once again within twenty-four hours of her death. Neither visit picked up any indication of fluid in the lungs. It seems that either the doctor made a mistake or the coroner has given an incorrect cause of death.

Dad's going to pursue it.

August 23, 2004

Firefly

I think I mentioned on one of my more recent posts (which isn't available at the moment) that Mitch Evans, the owner and operator of Doc's Blog, was planning a Play-By-Forum RPG (the forum in question being the one on his site). He finally decided to set the game in the universe of Joss Whedon's short-lived science fiction TV show, Firefly.

Having never seen Firefly (it never aired in Australia), I figured I might be at a disadvantage, until Gav mentioned that not only was the DVD boxed set of the series available in Australia, but that he'd bought a copy. Gav brought it with him Sunday week ago when he dropped over to house-sit for Vickie and I while we nipped off to the Hunter Valley for a holiday, and we managed to squeeze the two-hour pilot, "Serenity", in while we were doing the last of our preparations. We liked what we saw so much that I bought the whole boxed set after we got back from the Hunter.

Vickie and I have watched the whole series through. I have to wholeheartedly recommend this to any sci-fi nut out there. It's well-done and has a fantastic sense of humour. It's what you would probably have got if you crossed a Star Wars: Millenium Falcon - The TV Series with a western.

As mentioned, Joss Whedon and his team only managed to produce fourteen episodes before Fox pulled the series prematurely (only ten of them actually saw air). However, there's still enough interest in it to warrant Universal committing to a full-length feature film starring all the original cast and directed by Joss. Serenity is due to hit the big screen early next year.

I'm definitely looking forward to Mitch's PBF.

August 05, 2004

Pressies and Pissed Pile-Ups

Hi, everyone. Yes, I know; no new postings in quite a while. No wonder the site looks a little all-over-the-place! My own fault; Ive been a little depressed since Saturday evening. As a result, over the past few days Ive been spending a little time in front of my PC as possible. Thankfully, I have a rather nice distraction: The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Thank you very much to those responsible; you know who you are!

Well, in case you dont know, we have a new car; a silver 2002 Ford Laser GLXi hatchback (were going to call her Argenta). Shes a very nice little car, and a very welcome gift from Dad, who sourced her from his works fleet. Were planning to give her a good run on the weekend; probably up to the Central Coast. Were long overdue for a visit to my Aunt Ned and Uncle Joe (hell, we still owe them a bloody Christmas present) and are thinking of surprising Ben Lucas. (Wait a minute hes on the IMAGinewS list, isnt he? Damn.)

There was also some consideration between Boots and myself of seeing The Chronicles of Riddick (the movie, not the game) this weekend, but were still feeling the crunch from my most recent abuses of my credit card, so I think well wait a couple of weeks.

Dan and Gav dropped over on Sunday for a little while, and we played some Burnout 2. It turns out race mode is two-player only, so we stuck with Crash mode and had some fun. Now, Im not entirely sure about this like I said, I wasnt feeling great after Saturday night but after comparing Sunday evening to when Dan popped over earlier in the week, I think Crash mode is more enjoyable after consumption of alcohol. Not lots, mind you; just enough to get you a little tipsy and silly. You find yourself falling into Commentator mode much more easily, and wiping out a whole intersection full of cars, trucks and buses is just more fun somehow.

Anyway, I shall leave you with these musings. I have more to come, but its on a separate topic entirely, so I think its better to have it in a separate post.

July 23, 2004

The End of the Splurging - I Hope...

Well, folks, after swearing off it, I must confess - I'm guilty of credit card abuse again. Just yesterday, I splurged on a copy of the D20 mini-RPG Horizon: Virtual, the closest thing to a TRON roleplaying game I've ever seen. It's got a really intersting spin on the "other side of the screen" concept, and as it's meant to use the D&D rules, the gameplay focus has a little D&D flavour to it, but I'd still like to run it sometime.

And as I've been splurging on myself, I figured it was about time I splurged on Vickie; I bought us two tickets to see British comedian Lenny Henry at the State Theatre on August the 2nd. He's bringing his new live show, So Much Things To Say (which opened in the UK just after we left last year) to Australia and is kicking the tour off in Perth, then going around the nation and buggering off to New Zealand. We have two seats in the front row! Woohoo!

July 19, 2004

Birthday Burnout

Hello everyone. The server was down yesterday, so Im sneaking in during my lunch break to post this. Vickie and I had a very relaxing weekend in well, for most of it, anyway. I finally broke down and had my usual post-birthday splurge, which I hope is the last time I abuse my poor, overworked credit card in such a fashion. Vickie and I went grocery shopping on Saturday, and discovered that the paperback of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is finally out, so we bought that at Borders for $10; while I was there I also nabbed all eight of the Calvin & Hobbes collections that were going cheap (discounted and 4 for the price of 3). We missed some supplies on Saturday, so I nipped out again on Sunday and discovered there was a ninth collection of Calvin & Hobbes on the Borders cheap book stalls on the lower floor of the shopping centre. (Ill give you the list after I get home; so far Ive laughed my way through Something Under the Bed is Drooling.)

Continue reading "Birthday Burnout" »

July 11, 2004

27 in 2004!

Well, yet another Happy Birthday to me! Big Snugglies to my Vickie for getting me not one, but both of Donald Fagen's solo albums! I was naughty and listened to The Nightfly last night, but I'm cruising to the smooth tunes of Kamakiriad right now, and have/am thoroughly enjoyed/ing both!

And a quick reminder to everyone who said they'd come (and everyone who's intending to come but didn't reply) - the bash is on this afternoon at the Greengate Hotel in Killara from 4 PM until 10 or whenever everyone wanders off, whichever's earliest. I know the weather is shit and they've got the CBD out for trackwork, but I'd love it if you can be there!

July 02, 2004

Back In The Big City

Hi, everyone. Thanks to a series of workshops, it looks as though I'm going to be working in the city again for all of next week. We're trying to hash out process for a major project in the works, so they're getting everyone together at a central location near the client. I've been there the past three work days already, and before you ask, no, I haven't gone browsing the game stores yet; we've been finishing later than five most days, and as we were only given a storage space for our laptops on Thursday night, I've been lugging the heavy equipment in and out.

As a result, I've also had even less impetus to write my entry for the Lexicon thsi turn. The deadline's already been blown, and we've gone past the day that a full-turn extension would have ended on. Out of boredom, Sim started playing with the Fortune Cookies page on the Wiki, a page that gets used as a repository for random quotes. It was such a good idea that not only did I start putting some aphorisms in, but I also set a Random Quote macro up on the Wiki's front page, so that every time it loads, a different aphorism is selected from the list. I wound up sourcing quotes from Buckaroo Banzai, Shawn Mullins' Soul's Core album, H. G. Wells and even an aphorism Vickie came up with this very evening!

So if you know a decent quote, why not create yourself a Wiki log in, familiarise yourself with the Wiki formatting, practise in the sand box and add one to the Fortune Cookies page?

Tomorrow Vickie and I are going to see whether we can squeeze two admissions to Spider-Man 2 out of our meagre funds. It should be fun!

June 19, 2004

DVD Days Doomed?

It seems as though the theoretically popular DVD Days suggested a week ago have garnered very little interest indeed. Sim reckons she can drag up a few attendees for the Red Vs. Blue Day and Mad John is keen as well, and I know Dan would like to see Pitch Black sometime. But no one else on the IMAGinewS group has reacted to the idea at all. Is something up? Is the e-mail not getting through? Is the malaise thats generally set in getting to everyone else as well? Or do you just want me to pick a day so you can check your calendars? (I did specify a week range for Pitch Black, but even that didnt seem to drum up so much as a sorry, too busy.)

Continue reading "DVD Days Doomed?" »

June 11, 2004

DVD Days and Long Weekends

I thought that after the last couple of postings on very specific topics, Id get back to a general news update. First off, good news: Trent dropped Red Vs. Blue Season One off earlier this week. (Thanks for stopping by, Trent, and we really ought to see you again soon!) Yes, this means theres going to have to be a Red Vs. Blue Day soon. I know Sim and Mad John are keen, and Sim reckons she can rustle up at least a few others. How about the rest of you?

Ive had another expression of interest in the new Battlestar Galactica. John T from work wants to borrow the DVD, but frankly, I want to use it as an excuse to get him out of his house; its been ages since Vickie saw him. The little Boots saw of BG before Heavy Gear a couple of weeks ago has whet his interest, although as has been previously mentioned, hes head-down-bum-up with uni work for the time being. Again, anyone else interested?

Continue reading "DVD Days and Long Weekends" »

June 01, 2004

Obligatory First of June Posting

Its the first of June already. I swear, it feels like we should still be in February. Time has no right to rush past like its doing, I tell you. I havent been having that much fun! or have I? Maybe Im a masochist

Ive mentioned in previous posts that the week of Saturday, May the 22nd to Friday, may the 28th was the week from hell. That neglects the high points, though. On Thursday evening, Vickie and I got together with Pierre, Jane and their two youngsters at the Blackbird Caf in Cockle Bay Wharf. We did, of course, forget our camera actually, I believe we didnt even think of taking the camera along in the first place so we have no pictures. Nonetheless, it was a good night out, and it was great catching up with Pierre and meeting his family for the first time!

Continue reading "Obligatory First of June Posting" »

May 26, 2004

Stuff Happens.

Hi all. Its been a slow posting week, I know. I can't go into detail here, so let me just say that bad news comes in threes.

Saturday night went well. Lauren enjoyed the new Battlestar Galactica more than she thought she would, and I think Jason and Christian did also. The series is going to be airing in the US in January 2005, and hopefully well start seeing it sometime soon after. If not, theres always the inevitable DVD release!

The Lexicon is still ticking along well. The last turn was a little slow, with both Peg and myself not posting entries. With the Black Talon game coming up this weekend and some stress from recent events, I have the feeling Ill be missing this turn also; trying to get the session ready for Saturday and doing an entry at the same time feels a little like pushing things uphill right now. Still, we had four full and good entries last turn.

Dan is working on the next session of Bubblegum Crisis, and looks to be setting the session up for either the first or second weekend in June. Boots is getting thoroughly stuck into his thesis (best wishes, mate, and I still have those magazines for you if you need them), so he probably wont be able to make it. Ive done some work on Vickies and my characters (God love the Hero System rules), and itll be interesting to see how they shape up. I did up a cheat-sheet for Vickie based on Bryant Durrells introductory D&D character sheet (if theres any system that needs a cheat sheet, its Hero), as well as ones for both Vickie and Charisse for Black Talon.

Pierre should be back from the Sunshine Coast sometime today. Vickie managed to get tomorrow night off (she's working Friday instead), so I'll try calling him this evening before getting stuck into Wednes[DA] night to organise tomorrow.

It appears that Madam Lash's smoking problem may have been fixed. We checked her oil a couple of days ago, and she was almost totally dry. I nearly emptied our bottle of Valvoline into her, and the smoke seems to have disappeared as a result. We definitely need a new bottle of oil soon...

I think that's about it for the moment; I can always put another post up if I remember something else. In the meantime, all the best.

May 22, 2004

RIP Hilda Farquhar

I got a phone call from Dad about an hour ago. His mother, my Grandma, passed away in hospital.

You might remember a post in December of 2002, when my Grandad passed away. I like to think that wherever they are now, they're giving each other grief. :-)

Rest in peace, Grandma. We'll miss you.

May 18, 2004

Just When We Thought Our Car Problems Were Over...

Got a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency today. Seems someone reported our car for producing excessive smoke on the Pacific Highway at 4PM, Saturday the 8th of May, probably when we were driving home from shopping. It seems I'll need to put the Madam in for a service or else face a $200 fine if an EPA officer lodges a smoke report on her after the third of June.

They sent along a book of suggestions to help make sure the car is in fact producing excess smoke, including driving five kilometers across varying conditions. I might have to ask the Cazman to follow me around in his car sometime in the next week or two, just to check.

The Mad Catch-Up Update of May

Darn it; yet another long time between posts. I hate it when the sidebar stretches across the whole window like that. Its always a good reminder that I need to put a new post or two up.

Its also been a while since I put any new reviews or editorials up, which is a worry. Im really slacking off. Still, were coming into the Winter stretch now, so you can expect some cabin fever-inspired bouts of prose over the coming months. Including that next fragment of Slamdance Ive been promising.

Still, its not like Ive not been keeping my fingers exercised. The Lexicon of the Whisperers At War is still on Turn E-F; as the entries were trickling in and Marcus needed to do some server maintenance yesterday, I extended the turn a day. It was a decent buffer for Vickie and I, as wed been slacking off enormously over the weekend. Were still producing some interesting stuff, so please drop by and have a read!

On the topic of exercise, Vickie picked up an un-used piece of gym equipment called a Power Rider for $40 on eBay. It gives us the opportunity to work out whilst remaining indoors, which I quite like. Frankly, I do find exercise tedious, which is probably why I dont do push-ups or even use the skipping-rope as Ive intended at various times over the past year or so. Being able to do three sets of forty repetitions of stand-up-rowing-thingies whilst watching TV is a bonus in my book.

And another tangential similarity in subjects allows me to segue from buying stuff on auction at eBay to the auctions Im running on eBay. As I write this, they should be about to complete, and it looks like each one is going to earn me $50 after postage. I was hoping for a little more for Night City, as its something of a collectors item, but I did pencil those street names on the page maps. (Not including street-names on those zone maps was a criminal oversight by the designers, I think; I like the idea of being able to look up one of those places and just say Its on the corner of Williams and Varney.)

From selling to buying: I mentioned a little while ago that I bought the Hero System SideKick for $20 at Games Paradise, and that the game store near where I work was getting a copy of the main rulebook in. I had a phone call last week from them, to let me know they hadnt been able to get any copies in, so I asked them to cancel the order. Then I get a call today; they werent able to cancel the order, and it turns out a copy just arrived. They did assure me they could put it on the shelf if I declined, but theyre offering it for $75 instead of the $90 it normally goes for, so what the heck, eh?

From one RPG to another: I bought a pre-owned copy of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for the Xbox on Saturday. I know, I know, I said I was going to wait for the PC version so I could get patches and bug-fixes, but I figure my Xbox has languished un-used for long enough. Besides, the pre-owned copy I got was in pretty darned good nick, so Im happy with my purchase. Gameplay is very reminiscent of Neverwinter Nights (not surprising, as BioWare developed both), and Im keen to complete it as theres a sequel on the way next year.

From video game on DVD to movie on DVD: the Battlestar Galactica Day is still a firm go for this coming Saturday. Sim is a lock, unless shes gone and double-booked or work's swapped shifts on her, but the other respondents in the affirmative to the original invitation have been conspicuously silent. One wonders what theyre up to?

And finally, from local friends to international ones: Pierre of the IMAGinewS list and usually of San Diego is at this very moment over here! I just called him earlier, and we had a quick chat; his wife and kids are still battling the jet lag, and tomorrow theyre off to the Sunshine Coast for a few days. Vickie and I are planning to hook up with them sometime next week. It should be fun; I'm looking forward to catching up with Pierre and finally meeting his family!

And to take us out this evening, heres a little linkage that might elicit a little laughter!

P.S.: The Night City auction just ended, and a very nice gentleman squeezed in at the last minute with a winning bid of $81.00! Well, that covers the Hero System!

May 01, 2004

Bale as The Bat

Check him out.

And again.

Car Trouble

Morning all! Just had to clean out four pieces of comment-spam from the archives. Wish there was some way to turn comments off on my older posts without having to go through all almost-290 of them... which reminds me, I still have about eight months of entries to go before I've brought all of my 2002 news items into Movable Type.

Had to take Madam Lash into the shop yesterday and last Friday; when she wouldn't start for Vickie in the shopping centre carpark on the 22nd, Vickie had to call NRMA Road Services, who reckoned we needed a new condenser and set of points. As Kmart was already booked until the next week, we got her in at the Bobbin Head Garage on Friday. Also, the rego check report had said she needed a new oil filler cap and PCV grommet, and that the front brake hoses were cracking. That got done at Kmart yesterday.

Lately, though, it seems the Madam has had some transmission problems; specifically, when going up a hill or around a corner, she'll slip out of gear, rev high, then lurch back in as if I'd dropped the clutch on a manual car (the Madam's automatic). It looks as though we'll need to take her to a transmission specialist, so I'll start making phone calls today and see who we can book her in with.

Anyway: Today I'm going to give the Madam a thorough wash and clean-out before we dash off to Dan and Lesley's this evening for Dan's next Bubblegum Crisis session. We'll be back there tomorrow, as they need the young 'uns babysat for the morning/afternoon; Dan's working and Lesley's going to be at the market, selling her dreamcatchers and other craft pieces.

Also, at the moment it looks like I'll have four players, including myself, for that Lexicon game. A couple of others have expressed interest, but haven't made up their mind whether they want to be in. What annoys me is that almost everyone who's been into Jake's and Robinson's lately has either ignored my posts on the subject or read them and not responded. I hope it's just because they're waiting to see how the first one turns out.

Oh, yeah: Boots, Vickie and I reckon we've found a great comedy for you. It's on Friday nights on the ABC at around ten, and it's called Posh Nosh. It's meant to be a husband-and-wife cooking show, but not only are the husband and wife filthy rich, but the husband (Richard E. Grant) is as gay as a picnic basket and the wife has no idea (seriously, in general). The dialogue is fantastic. You will love it, we're sure, probably as a send-up of the petty bourgeoisie. Heck, just go to the website; they've got RealVideo clips and all!

April 24, 2004

Happy Birthday 2004, Gav!

Last night, Vickie and I went to Soup Plus for an evening gig for the first time in a while - in fact, last night and Rog's farewell dinner-and-drinks late last year have been the only times Vickie and I have been to Soup Plus in the evening! The occasion was Gav's birthday party, the date and venue chosen because it was the Moods Band's monthly Friday Night Soup Plus Spectacular.

We turned up on time, and were rather surprised to find not just Gav, but Gav and Dan and Boots there before us! JP (formerly known as Baz) and Mandi's mate Kerin turned up later on, and a fun night was definitely had - helped, and I apologise to any smokers reading this, by the fact that there's no smoking in the Soup any more. Seriously, virtually any time I've been to the Soup before, the smoke has made enjoying the evening a little difficult, and its absence was definitely an asset (even if Vickie had to go up the steps once or twice for a quick ciggie, unfortunately).

I'd not actually been to a Moods gig in an little over three years, mainly as Vickie was working the Wednesday and Friday evenings when they usually play the Soup, and when the place closed in late 2002, I thought I'd lost the chance to attend a Moods gig at the Soup permanently, so although the party was for Gav, it was something ofa triple treat for me - (a) a Moods gig, (b) at the Soup and (c) introducing Vickie to the wonderment of a Moods gig at the Soup! Fans will be glad to know that the Moods were on form; great music, awful jokes.

It's interesting to note that one of the Harris Brothers - Nigel, who plays trumpet - has left the band to seek fame and fortune, and taking over from him (very capably, I might add) is Todd Hardy. Joern Harris is still there, as are Shane Cranney and Chris Perry. The Moods website still lists Duncan Archibald as being the drummer, although he was absent last night, with another drummer whose name I didn't catch filling in (I assume - no offense to the drummer who was there, but I've always liked Duncan; he was the most approachable of the band, and I appreciate how cheerful and polite he was to the person craving attention and approval that I was a few years ago).

We, of course, made sure to let the band know there was a birthday boy in the crowd - Joern kept calling Gav "Brett", though. Anyway, Joern told Brett - er, Gav - that he had to get up and do the "birthday dance" (to the tune of "Happy Birthday" Moods-style, of course), and Gav - er, Brett - grudgingly obliged. I have photos, but under threat of retribution from Gav or Brett or whoever he is, am keeping them private - for now.

Dinner was very nice, helped along by the pitchers of Hahn Premium Light that Dan and Boots splurged on, and Dan, Vickie and I had a go at Gav for buying himself one of the presents we'd originally bought for him.

Today, we're relaxing and recovering, saving up all the housework for Anzac Day (as a sort of remembrance to the fallen, I suppose; no slouching on Anzac Day, lads). I picked up Vickie's pre-order of the Love, Actually DVD (which came with the DVD of Four Weddings and a Funeral as a pre-order bonus) and we'll probably watch it this evening. Monday, of course, is the big Dad's Army WAN Party. I'm definitely looking forward to it!

April 11, 2004

The Quick Tour of Sydney

Morning all! How's your Easter Long Weekend been so far? Got your Easter eggs yet?

We're having a bit of a relax before we head off to Taronga Zoo. It looks like it's going to be a nice day out; the forecast is for sun, so it should be very pleasant.

There's still talk of late showers during the week, but it looks like it might clear up by Wednesday - I hope so, as we're going to have to get to the show next Thursday. Turns out Thursday's the last day, not Friday as we thought. Vickie and I are going to have to try and re-jig our work schedules - I doubt I'll have much trouble, but Vickie has to switch shifts with someone.

The trip to the city was nice yesterday; Brook wasn't particularly interested in the landmarks a great deal, and did a little nit-picking (the Harbour Bridge is an ugly grey, it should be painted white; the Opera House is too dirty on the inside of the shell, and the brown window-tinting is ugly, not to mention the restaurant's interior decor and green carpet). We spent a fair bit of time at the Rocks Markets and the bead-shop in the Metcalfe Arcade, then took in lunch at the Swagman's Post and wandered over to Darling Harbour via the Opera House and the Monorail. On the way, we learned something that could've made Brook's visit easier had someone thought to tell us beforehand - she likes museums. Sydney is literally packed with museums, and we could've taken Brook to half of them instead of sitting in and waiting for the rain to pass, but we didn't know! We even tried to call Brook's mum and ask her what Brook liked to do, but she'd changed phone numbers and - guess what - hadn't told us. So we couldn't reach her before Brook arrived.

Oh, well. At least we know for next time. (And next time we might actually have some money to spend on trips and outings.)

After that, it was a quick trip on the tram from Darling Harbour to Central - flat-panel TVs have been put in the trams now, a move I'm not particularly fond of; the additional aural interference isn't exactly pleasant if you're just trying to enjoy the ride - and then back home to get ready for the Cazman's party at his place. It was nice seeing him and Linda again, and we got to catch up with EvilHayama and Pirotess, which is always nice. As Brook and I had attacked the leftover pizza from Friday night, we ate sparingly (Brook actually didn't have anything).

Brook and I did go and see 50 First Dates on Friday, and there's definitely a review coming, but let me tell you two things right now: (a) it's not your typical Adam Sandler movie - I think it outdoes even The Wedding Singer, although personally, that's not too hard an ask - and (b) I'm taking Vickie to see it as soon as I can. Yep, I enjoyed it that much.

April 09, 2004

Brook's Visit, Week 1

I'd like to start this post with the obligatory linkage. You've probably seen one of those "All I Ever Need To Know, I Learned From..." lists at one point or another. Allen Varney, game designer and main contact point for the development of Paranoia XP, has one of his own, "All I Ever Need To Know, I Learned From Roleplaying Games". Yes, Gav, I'm fully aware of John Kovalic's one; I find Allen's a little more poignant and broadly appealing.

It's been almost a week since Brook arrived, and we've already had to cancel a couple of our plans for her, as I mentioned in Sunday's post. I've switched my day of annual leave to the coming Friday; with any luck, the weather should be fine for a trip to the Easter Show then.

In the meantime, Brook's spent the majority of her time here watching evening soapies, Popstars (she's voting for Don) and our DVDs; not exactly the Sydney holiday experience we were hoping to give her, but Brook doesn't seem to mind. Although Brook's quite intelligent, she has the tastes of the fifteen-year-old girl she is, so it's safe to say she wouldn't be particularly interested in a game session - heck, she reckons all computer and video games are boring, even The Sims (so between the weather and Brook, around eighty percent of our ideas for entertaining Brook while Vickie was out at work have been scotched). She's not too fond of SF either, but will watch it if nothing else is avaiable.

Vickie's working a day-shift today, so after dropping her off at work, Brook and I are going to catch 50 First Dates. I'll confess, I'm not the world's biggest Adam Sandler fan; Happy Gilmore was only intermittently funny (not helped by watching it with someone who'd already seen it and kept saying Sandler's good lines a second before Sandler) and Billy Madison, Big Daddy and The Waterboy haven't even made my "Might Rent" list. However, The Wedding Singer was quite enjoyable, and (a) it looks as though Sandler's not playing a thug or a dumb-arse and (b) Drew Barrymore's back as well, so it might be fun. I'll be sure to write a review up.

Tomorrow, we're making another trip into the city, after which we have a friend's birthday party in the evening. On Sunday we're taking Brook to Taronga Zoo (she immediately chose it over going to Manly; she hates the beach). I have the feeling Brook might find it a little underwhelming compared to Melbourne, but it should be a good day out anyway.

Gotta go; Brook's just put Alien in the DVD player! Woohoo!

April 07, 2004

The Beat Goes Ever On And On

After a hiatus of at least eight months, the Steely Dan tribute band known as the Bodacious Cowboys (after a lyric from the song "Gaucho") are once again playing the Basement on the fifteenth of May. Needless to say, Vickie and I have tickets for dinner and show, and as I get paid the day before, I might even be able to splash out on a good bottle of vino.

On a general news front, I'd like to direct you all to SimLauren's new LiveJournal, Simulated, where she's already committed excessive acts of postage. All I can say is this: "Hi Loz! Fun, innit?" :-D

Making a smooth segue to gaming, Dream Pod 9 have announced their Book and Miniature Release Schedule for the year. I think I've finally discoverd a must-buy Third Edition product: what they call the "Storyline/Black Talon Companion", due Winter (our Summer) 2004. Only seven or eight months to wait...

While you're there, I must direct you to this lovely image of a painted Vortex-class Landcarrier miniature. Is that not cool? I want one...

And finally, to bookend this posting with references to the header (the Bodacious Cowboys used to be known as The Beat Goes On, while they were still doing a combined Dan and Toto tribute), I'm sure there are some of you out there who will be pleased to learn that I finally finished J. R. R. Tolkien's mammoth work, The Lord of the Rings, today. Yes, I liked it. While I don't think I could do a Christopher Lee and slog my way through it once a year, I have to read through it again a few times at least. And, frankly, reading it takes little away from the movies - in fact, I appreciate the differences in format better now than before. Worth reading? Yes. Would I recommend it? You betcha.

April 01, 2004

Isn't It Always The Way?

Here I was, planning to put an April Fool's gag up on the IMAGinES site, only to discover that Marcus' server was down. I e-mailed Marcus, but in the hope of getting the site back up so I could post something before the traditional midday deadline for pranks I tried to call him also. Unfortunately, his mobile was off and no one answered his home phone. (Sheesh, Marcus, what sort of personal secretary is Nell if she doesn't keep regular office hours?) And wouldn't you know it: when I checked at quarter past twelve, the site's back up.

Oh, well. There's always next year.

Speaking of the site, I've been doing a little looking around at solutions to the comment-spam problem Vickie and I have been having lately. I must confess, I've not been looking too hard, as Six Apart are working on options for Movable Type Version 3.0 (no mention of a final release date, but they're about to release a beta test version) and I'd prefer nto to put a third-part applet in that ends up conflicting with the new version.

Six Apart's main thrust is TypeKey, a universal blog-comment sign-in hosted on one of their servers. It reads interestingly, and I reckon I'll include support when it rolls out, but I'd also like legitimate commenters to be able to add their thoughts without having to go to another site and step through the "your user-ID is already taken, please enter a different one or select one of the options below" process we're all familiar with whenever we go somewhere new that has cool stuff on the other side of a login text box. You know what a pain in the clacker that can be, right?

(An aside: Someone once told me that, to some, "clacker" meant a woman's front-bottom rather than the meaning I thought it had, i.e. the gender-neutral rear-bottom. So ladies, please don't be offended - well, no more than you would if I were making a colloquial reference to the anus. Which I was.)

This merits some serious study (anti-comment-spam devices, not anuses), but I have a lot of rented DVDs to watch before they go back on Saturday, and Brook's going to keep us both hopping for the next couple of weeks (oh, yeah, and the guys are going to be charging over for Star Wars Episode II - ahem, I mean Sesssion 2, tomorrow night), so you can expect an update on this hot issue sometime near the end of the month - and a bit more comment-spam in the meantime.

March 23, 2004

Remind me to stay the heck away from the Cajun Sausage and Beans.

That was the lesson I took away from the anniversary dinner Vickie and I had at the New Orleans Caf on Saturday evening. I thought I could handle them - Vickie's been slowly upping the spice content in my food for the past three years - but although it wasn't too strong, the sheer quantity of hot stuff in the main course I had was overpowering. Next time, I'll stick with the chicken.

It was a great, relaxing evening out for the both of us, even if the waiter did bring our main out before we'd even finished our entre (he did apologise later). We sat there for ages after we'd done with our food (I say done with, not necessarily finished) and compared notes on the clothing and styles (or lack thereof) of the Saturday evening Crows Nest crowd. I tell you, if someone had told me this time last year that I would soon be able to converse fairly fluently on style and fashion, even with Vickie, I'd have looked at that person blankly.

It's all the fault of that bloody show, you know. Vickie and I positively loeve it to bits, and we loathe most reality shows (although I suppose this is more in the vein of Burkes' Backyard or Ground Force; a lifestyle show). I even own the book, and have given it at least one thorough read-through. I've started using facial cleanser and exfoliant, I went through my drawers and wardrobe, reorganising both (I keep forgetting just how many good shirts I have) and I've even annoyed Vickie with talk of re-arranging our main room (of course, we can't afford the required furniture right now, what with rego and green-slip just paid). It's scary: by the time Aussie Queer Eye gets going (if it ever gets going), I won't need to call on the Local Fab 5 for assistance!

Then again, considering my track record, I might.

Got the Ryobi line-trimmer back from Butler & Smith yesterday; even though it wasn't a warranty fix (we have no idea where the purchase docket is), they put it back together for free. I'll likely be taking to the garden with it this weekend. Did I mention earlier that the Ryobi is our third line trimmer? Our third? Our first oen was a fairly cheap Razorback, which used an odd bump-spool head which was a royal pain to re-spool with new line. The second was a medium-sized Ryobi with disposable spool head, but we suddenly discovered that, while it seemed a bargain when we bought it at the Macquarie Centre, no one stocked the correct replacement spools after a couple of months. So you can imagine our joy and delight when the Big-Arse Ryobi (I mean that literally; it's a large electric job with a hefty motor at the back) suddenly fell neatly into three (the drive-train came spiralling out of the shaft when the head fell off), possibly four (if you count the absent screw) pieces? I'm sure you can, especially if you've ever done a from-scratch installation fo Windows XP, or even Linux in the early days before the fancy GUI distributions, when you were just learning how the command prompt worked. You'd know that wonderful feeling of "Oh, no not again" whenever you witnessed your installation halt with a Blue Screen of Death or kernel compiler error.

My Battlefield 1942 play is picking up quite a bit. Boots and Gav directed me to the forum for the slowly-rebuilding Battlefield Australia clan. We tried, with moderate success, to get together for a couple of games last week; we're having another go tomorrow evening, if there's a server around with enough free spaces and a low ping. I've downloaded a couple of pieces of software at the suggestion of the BFAU guys that come in quite handy when organising and playing games; Teamspeak, which is sort of like Internet Relay Chat with voice instead of keystrokes (it'll even run in the background while your game's up, making co-ordination and tactics so much easier), and All Seeing Eye, a competitor for game-matching programs like GameSpy Arcade that has a free trial version. It's very natty, in that it allows you to queue for an empty spot on any given server.

March 18, 2004

Cruising Through the War

Well, folks, the papers have confirmed what's been rumoured for a little while: Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg are working on a new War of the Worlds movie.

All I can say is, they'd better have hundred-foot-tall walking engines of glittering metal with Jeff Wayne doing the music or I'm not watching it.

And having it set in the early twentieth century London of the novel would be a plus, too.

March 14, 2004

Galactica Region 4 DVD Due In April

On Dan's advice, I checked out the Australian release of the Battlestar Galactica miniseries DVD; it hits stores on April the 21st. I fully intend to pick a copy up, and depending on interest, I might try to set another date for that viewing aprty I had planned. Of course, if you can get it at your leisure from your local retail store or video rental, you might not be particularly interested. Which is cool. Still, would those of you who previously expressed interest still be keen on getting together on, say, Saturday, April 24th?

Green Thumb, Sore Back

Hello all! I noticed the main page is getting a little sparse. When the right-hand column spreads out across the bottom of the screen, I know I'm overdue to put an update on here. Speaking of the site, you've probably noticed a few minor tweaks; the removal of the calendar on the main page, some re-categorising of the links and the other odd bit and piece of "optimisation" here and there. Hope you like; if you have any strenuous objections on the grounds of aesthetic appeal or functional impairment, please let me know, won't you?

Continue reading "Green Thumb, Sore Back" »

March 10, 2004

Hey, man, I wanna do another Coen...

Oh, heck, I'm on a movie kick tonight anyway; I might as well mention the latest Coen Brothers film - starring Tom Hanks.

Yes, yes, I know a few of you have a low opinion of Tom Hanks, but this little piece of celluloid looks like a sidesplitter! Just you view that trailer! Go on!

March 07, 2004

Looks like they linked me after all...

I was doing a vanity search on Google (using my name as search criteria) and, aside from my pages coming up several times, I discovered a news article over on halo.bungie.org from last year. I e-mailed Louis the URL to my review of Halo, and didn't get a reply - fair enough, I assumed, as most of the reviews they linked to seemed to be part of either professional or videogame-focused review sites. Nor did it pop up in the Latest News or the Reviews sections while I was looking. But, lo and behold, there it is.

I'm going to put a comment under the review with the URL, as well as my responses to Louis' comments.

March 05, 2004

Andrew Hilton to Shave Dreadlocks. Next Up: Four Guys on Horses Show Up at White House.

That's right, ladies and gentlefolks; Andrew Hilton is losing his hard-earned hair in a good cause. He's looking for people to donate to The World's Greatest Shave for a Cure; you can either search by his name or his volunteer number, 137902. Get in quick; the shaving (or shoud that be shearing?) will occur on the afternoon of Friday, March the 12th. If you wish to witnes the miracle, you'll need to get in touch with Andrew (and maybe take an hour or two off work).

I'm sure he'll have more donations than anyone; many of us have been offering to pay him to cut his dreads off for years...

Andrew Hilton to Shave Dreadlocks. Next Up: Four Guys on Horses Show Up at White House.

That's right, ladies and gentlefolks; Andrew Hilton is losing his hard-earned hair in a good cause. He's looking for people to donate to The World's Greatest Shave for a Cure; you can either search by his name or his volunteer number, 137902. Get in quick; the shaving (or shoud that be shearing?) will occur on the afternoon of Friday, March the 12th. If you wish to witnes the miracle, you'll need to get in touch with Andrew (and maybe take an hour or two off work).

I'm sure he'll have more donations than anyone; many of us have been offering to pay him to cut his dreads off for years...

March 04, 2004

Galactically Inclined

Well, the Battlestar Galactica miniseries has finally been released on DVD, in the UK at least. I'm definitely tempted to splash out after next payday...

Flip/Flop

It's been an... interesting week for TRON.

Firstly, the TRON 2.0 comic series, to be produced by 88MPH Studios, has suddenly been cancelled, mere weeks from the first issue's release date. The closest we'll ever get to it is this Newsarama interview, featuring pencil art from (what appears to be) the first issue, plus a cover.

Secondly - and I just stumbled across this today - TRON 2.0 is being ported to the Xbox, complete with all-new Live content. The Xbox version is to be called TRON 2.0: Killer App.

Dunno whether I'll pick it up - I'm not a Live subscriber and I've already finished the PC version - but the thought is tempting...

February 26, 2004

Couple o' Things Today, Ladies...

Firstly: One of the things I forgot to take off my hard drive before the reformat was my ICQ contact list. I've signed back in under my ID, so that's no problem; I just don't have an up-to-date list of names.

So if I pop up on your ICQ contact list, can you send me a request to add you to mine, please?

Secondly: The Cazman has finally turned word into action and made himself a proto-website! He's learning HTML and how to manipulate photos right now, but what he has (best viewed 1280x1024 maximised) is pretty damned good!

Being the righteous dude he is, he's given me some linkage. I'll have to return the favour - maybe set up a Friends header in the Links section.

February 25, 2004

I'm Back.

This missive is to let you all know that I've successfully rebuilt my PC, and can now access my regular e-mail address via my regular e-mail client. So you can stop using the AliensCP one!

Assuming you have been using the AliensCP one...

February 24, 2004

Building Back Up

Well, I've got the trickiest part of rebuilding my PC - swapping all the hardware over onto the new motherboard - out of the way, and the PC is now booting up at the hardware level (which goes to show what one slip of a pair of pliers can do to a computer). However, just as predicted, Windows XP isn't loading. Most likely, the motherboard drivers Windows XP installed at the last setup don't like the new mobo, and as they're pretty much the foundations of Windows XP's interaction with the hardware, there's not much I can do short of a full reformat and rebuild.

Before I take that drastic step, though, I want to copy all of my data off my hard drive and onto Vickie's PC. This means taking the hard drive out of my PC, setting it up as a slave on hers (much as her old drive is right now - in fact, as Vickie hasn't mentioned any gaps between the stuff on it and the stuff on her current HDD, I can pretty much take her old HDD out safely) and copying the data I want to keep across, dragging it back over across the network once I've put the basic WinXP build on my hard drive.

After stuffing around with my motherboard and bits tonight, I think I'll leave that for tomorrow.

February 21, 2004

Off the Air

Last night, in an effort to get all of the computer stuff out of the way before Dan rocked over (and because I knew we'd be too busy today preparing for the market tomorrow), I tried putting the fanless chipset heat sink on my motherboard. Unfortunately, in doing so, I managed to scratch the underside of the board, and now my PC refuses to boot up.

Thankfully, I do have a spare motherboard, and considering my other components, I shouldn't have much, if any, of a performance hit using it. Still, as it's a change in motherboard, Windows XP will probably throw a tantie, necessitating a rebuild (again).

So for the moment, I'm off the air (I'm posting this from Vickie's PC), which means I won't be checking e-mail regularly (I can get to it via Yahoo, it's just a pain in the arse to do so).

By the way: I vaguely remember loaning my Animatrix DVD to someone, but I can't remember whom. Is it one of you? And if so, can I have it back soon, please? (If it's you, Gav, I'll give you back The Gamers at the same time.)

February 20, 2004

A Couple of Vickie-Related Items

I've already posted the details of our FantaC Jewellery stall at the Frenchs Forest Markets over on Vickie's website. Please rock on along; we'll be there from 8 AM until 1 PM.

Also, as of the beginning of March, Vickie's work shifts will be changing to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This means we'll have Friday night free to hook up with you cats, should you wish to dash out and do something (that includes the Noodle Market, Boots)!

February 11, 2004

Galactica Goes Green

Well, ladies and gentlefolks, it's official: SciFi Channel has announced the green-lighting of thirteen hour-long episodes of the new Battlestar Galactica. Some of the principals - Edward James Olmos (Adama), Jamie Bamber (Apollo), Aaron Douglas (Tyrol) - had already announced via e-mails and fansites that their contracts had been picked up, and from the official announcements, it seems that Mary McDonnell (Roslin), Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) and Tricia Helfer (Number Six) will also be back.

Vickie and I find this good news, as we did enjoy the pilot. For those of you who are wondering, I have seen all of the original first season, including the pilot, and while it was fun, and I would see a continuation if one were made, I have no objection to the remake's darker direction going to series.

February 07, 2004

General February Update

We've been hoping to get Vickie's jewellery business up and running, and Lesley has helped us organise a stall at the Frenchs Forest Markets. The problem is, it's the twenty-second - the day immediately after the planned Battlestar Galactica/Red Vs. Blue day. Getting ready for the markets is going to eat into Saturday, and if we want to get enough sleep, we can't stay up late.

So, after my ranting and raving in that posting a few weeks ago, it looks like it's time I ate my words - I'm cancelling the Battlestar Galactica day. If you're still interested in organising it sometime later, gimme a hoy.

I also got a phone call from Mum yesterday mornig; my Gran in the UK had a fall in her driveway and broke her hip. She's in hospital at the moment, andfrom the sounds of things, she hasn't been feeling too good lately. Vickie and I got her some flowers and chocolates, and we'll give my aunt Heather a call tonight.

In lighter news, I've been keeping an eye on a mysterious project Jared Sorensen (Mr. Memento Mori) has been working on, called Lacuna. It's premiered in Daedalus, a new online roleplaying e-zine, and it looks like a really spun-out little RPG. You can download the issues (as PDF files) for free from the Daedalus website (although they do accept PayPal donations), so you can check it out easily.

Dan popped over this evening, and we played some Crimson Skies. I didn't have the utter meltdown that I did the last time we played, and I actually had a fairly solid game, but the dice let me down once or twice. At the beginnign of (I think) the fourth turn, Dan had lost one plane of five, whereas two of my five were down, including my ace, and one was Shaken. I conceded then.

Gav's still organising his Star Wars campaign, although we've yet to settle on a venue. He's organised six players, and while half of us live around the Hornsby area, the other half and Gav are much closer to the city. So we'll have to sort something out.

Continue reading "General February Update" »

February 02, 2004

Scientific Exploration, My Arse (... actually, Church's)

This evening, I direct you to the newest Public Service Announcement from the gentlemen at Red Vs. Blue - actually, it's more of a cry for help.

We didn't wind up going to Ned & Joe's yesterday, as they weren't home from Crescent Head yet. Instead, I nipped out to pick up some supplies, then dropped over Mum & Dad's for a while, where I introduced them to the wonderment that is Red Vs. Blue. Strangely, they didn't seem impressed, alhtough it was the first episode and things had yet to really warm up (it also helps if you're familiar with those odd little gaming paradoxes known as first-person shooter multiplayer arenas).

Or perhaps they're just Philistines. (And in case you read this, Mum: ;-D )

I also nipped out to Dan and Lesley's to grab my Revised Edition Star Wars D20 rulebook. Gav's working on his Jedi Academy campaign, and is keen to kick off as soon as some details get ironed out - like characters and where we're going to play. While I was there, Dan showed me this amazing Excel spreadsheet that some German lunatic has come up with; it's a character sheet generator that outputs its results in a form surprisingly similar to the official Star Wars character sheet. You can download it in .zip form from here.

And not only does it give you a character sheet, it also gives you a supplement-style stat block, in either plain text or HTML. Here's my character so far, and all I had to do was select the "Stat Block" worksheet after putting the figures in.

Dessen Tass: Male Gungan Soldier 1; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Defense +15 (+3 class, +2 Dex); Spd 10 m; VP/WP 13/16; Atk+3 ranged (3d8/19-20 or DC 15 stun, Blaster carbine, range 20 m) or -1/-1 ranged (3d8/19-20, Blaster carbine with Multifire, range 20 m); SQ Hold Breath, Low-Light Vision; SV Fort +5, Ref +3, Will -1; SZ M; FP 2; Rep 0; Str 13, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 11, Wis 9, Cha 10, Challenge Code A.

Equipment: Blast helmet, vest (DR 2).

Skills: Computer Use +1, Demolitions +2, Knowledge (tactics) +1, Knowledge (world lore) +1, Pilot +4, Repair +2, Ride +4, Treat Injury +2.

Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Force Sensitive, Weapon Group Proficiency (blaster pistols), Weapon Group Proficiency (blaster rifles), Weapon Group Proficiency (heavy weapons), Weapon Group Proficiency (simple weapons), Weapon Group Proficiency (vibro weapons).

That's just bloody excellent!

Oh, and while we're on the topic of Games, Vickie's gone and got herself hooked on a new web game from our old friends at Popcap (who've just recently revamped their site, too). It's called Zuma, and right now, she's trying to get me hooked on it as well!

Continue reading "Scientific Exploration, My Arse (... actually, Church's)" »

January 30, 2004

Very Very Fright'ning

This may be the understatement of the month, but the Sydney skies havent half been nasty lately, have they? We already had to miss out on the Noodle Markets with Boots last week, and it hasnt been an evening at home in the past ten days without at least a little thunder.

Vickie and I have been up to stuff, as usual. Id like to point you at Vickies website, where she has some nifty new pieces of jewellery up for your browsing pleasure. And if one (or more) of them take your fancy, why not drop her an e-mail and ask how much shes willing to part with them for?

Im still working on Vickies PC. Ive noticed that its not restarting properly; when Windows shuts down, the PC sits there rather than rebooting. Also, it seems to be not quite performing right when I connect up the front USB and audio ports with the new hard drive in. I have the feeling it may be power related, so Ive bought a 400-Watt power supply unit which will go into Vickies PC tonight.

There may be some movement on the Black Talon front soon. I dont want to say any more for fear of jinxing things, but I thought Id give you a heads-up. On the topic of Heavy Gear, Im also thinking about assembling musical playlists, much as I did for octaNe. Of course, the musicll be quite different from the playlists for octaNe, which are assorted rock n roll. Tracks from the Heavy Gear computer game CDs ought to give it a failry good orchestral, martial action backbone, but its tempting to aim for a non-English, almost tribal motif. Some of the tracks from Halo and Homeworld2 leap readily to mind, but I dont think Sierra have published a soundtrack album for Homeworld2, and Im worried about recognition with Halo.

As a lot of the action in the first few sessions will probably take place in the Badlands, something written for deserts would be nice the soundtracks for the movie and the SciFi Channel miniseries incarnations of Dune come to mind. Im less worried about the North or South, as I have the feeling the players wont be spending too long in either. Future playlists are for the Caprician highlands (again, desert, but darker, with a tribal theme for the Liberati) and Gomorrah (something fast-paced and urban).

With all this thought about playlists, Im working on an article for RPGnet about using them. Im hoping to address some of the usual issues Ive seen people take with the idea and execution of music in gaming, rather than the almost-ubiquitous "tracks for genres" list. I have a fair few notes together, and theyre taking shape into an article, but they need some more hashing out first. I ought to e-mail Sandy and ask whether hed be interested in it.

Well, Ive watched the Red Vs. Blue Season 1 DVD through, and its interesting to see the changes theyve made. The basic series material is largely intact, although theyve done away with most of Sarges impromptu rambles at the end of some episodes. The Microsoft PDC public service announcement is also absent, which is a bugger I suppose it was either left out due to space constraints, or they couldnt get away with charging money for something with footage from a Microsoft presentation in it. On the other hand, it has some pretty funny line recording session out-takes, and its interesting to see the number of times they tried to get certain stunts right.

Gavs dropping over this evening to pick his DVD up, and if Im lucky, I might be able to get some more Battlefield 1942 action in. Gav, Dan and I tried to hook up last night, but it ended in disaster Dan needed the v1.5 patch, which was taking ages to download at his end, and I was SMSing Gav until his mobile reception suddenly cut off. I wound up playing a couple of games on the OzForces server.

Heres hoping the lightning doesnt move in again

January 26, 2004

Teh Sh0pp1ng

Yesterday Vickie's PC started acting... weird. It sort of shut itself down, and only hitting the reset button got it working again (that's why I say sort of - had it actually shut itself down, the Power button should bring it back up, not Reset). This morning, I powered it up so that I could log on - and for some unknown reason, it stopped sending data to the screen. The little green power light turned orange, and no matter what I did with the keyboard or mouse, it wouldn't go green again. I wound up holding down the power switch so it would power down, and when it resterted, there were no problems.

I've been meaning to get Vickie a new hard drive for a while (her 20GB is running dangerously low on free space, even the defrag tool's complaining), and as it turns out this month is a regular, two rent payment month (February's going to be the triple-hit), I'm finally going to get around to it - and buy her a new case.

I was tempted to get Vickie a Shuttle XPC kit like I've been talking about since my last big upgrade, but we really can't afford it right now - besides, I have the feeling that the new case, which will have much better airflow than her current one, and a cleanup and dustoff of the parts when I transfer them between cases, will pretty much lick the problem.

And it leaves me some cash to pick Battlefield 1942 Reload for the PC and/or Burnout 2 for the Xbox up this month.

January 23, 2004

Well, shit.

That's sort of how Vickie and I are feeling right now. See, we wound up right under a big lightning-cloud during last night's thunderstorm, and with this morning's forecast of "late thunder", we thought it'd be a good idea to stay in this evening rather than brave the weather for Boots' get-together at the noodle market tonight.

So you can probably understand how we feel after looking outside at the only semi-cloudy sky to the East.

It's a little too late to dash around and try and meet up with Boots now; besides, he said something about how everyone else he invited cancelled out for the same reason, so he's taking his lady out for a meal isntead. And there is a rather large, thick bank of cloud massing to the West; had we gone out, we might have been caught on the way home.

Tonight, we're going to just have a relaxing evening in; myself, Vickie and that early Tom Cruise flick, Risky Business (which I've never actually seen). Vickie usually works on Friday nights, so I don't intend to waste this one.

That being said, I'd better be off. Here's hoping your Australia Day Long Weekend's a good one!

January 22, 2004

The Diet's Working...

I got on the scales this morning for the first time in two weeks; I'm down from close on eighty-nine kilos to around eighty-six. I knew all these Lean Cuisines and Healthy Choices must have been doing something. (Thank you, my darling Vickie!)

The exercise helps as well. I'm occasionally using the lift, but mostly, it's four flights of stairs up and down. I'm also walking to and from the further train station from work almost every day. I've discovered a route that keeps me out of the sun, as both ways I'm walking into it, so it's a slightly more comfortable trip now - at least, on the going to work leg.

Anyway, I had another look at the Side-Projects site earlier on. It's going to need more work than anticipated, especially as a few pages are missing. I also want to make the pages quicker to load and less bandwidth-intensive (not that they were particularly in the first place); this will mean getting rid of the topic heading graphics (bye bye Galactican font) and putting the page styles onto CSS (which will likely cut a fair bit of code out of the pages, as well as making them easier to update).

But all of that can wait for a few days. As Vickie has worked three straight nights, tonight's going to be an "us" night, and tomorrow night we're dashing down to the North Sydney Friday Night Noodle Market to meet up with Boots and a possible new player for Black Talon.

January 17, 2004

Hugh Jackman Gets His Mack On

Our Hugh finally gets the archetypal male action role, complete with James Bomd attitude and one-liners.

Looks like fun.

Oh, by the way: Here's something (Pick One: Odd / Too Geeky For Words / Worthy of Admiration and Awe) by way of the ALpha: The Kustom Kar mod from George Lucas' Personal Hell.

January 13, 2004

Separated At Birth?

While Vickie and I were watching the Appendix DVDs for The Two Towers before we went up to Cairns, I was struck by the resemblance of yet another star to one of our friends. Once again, I ask you to examine the picture below and answer the question:

Were Rog and Andy Serkis separated at birth?

Yet Another Remarkable Resemblance

(Gollum included for comparative purposes also.)

His Long Lost Grandson?

On Sunday, Vickie and I decided to spend the day languishing in our air-conditioned hotel room, watching TV. On Channel 2 was a repeat documentary about the only supergroup Sweden has ever had, and Vickie couldn't help noticing a resemblance of one of the band's songwriters to a good friend of ours.

We invite you to peruse the picture below and decide for yourself:

Is Boots the long lost grandson of ABBA's Benny Andersson?

An Uncanny Resemblance

Season 2 Has Commenced

Considering the job I've done hipping as many people to Red Vs. Blue as possible, most of me readership is probably already aware that the first episode of Season 2, Everything Old Is New Again, is now live on the RvB website.

If you're not, go download it now. I have, and it's a hoot.

(Two hundredth posting! Woohoo!)

It's Not the Heat that Kills You...

Well, were back from a rather exhausting weekend in Cairns. Four days of trying to fit as much catching up in as possible, plus a wedding on Saturday night, all in horrid humidity. Erk.

Aside from the humidity, Cairns is a nice place; the worst of the tourist areas is sited firmly out of town, at Port Douglas. Theres something comforting about not having to worry too much about traffic (unless youre in it, of course, as half the other drivers are even less worried than you, so much so that theyre not even worried about doing things like indicating lane changes or pulling into intersections while youre waiting behind them).

Vickie is currently working on a long and angry e-mail to her real estate agents right now. We did an inspection of her place, which shes rented out, on Friday morning, and it was in a sorry state. The current tenant has made a mess of it, so much so that Vickies considering taking out an additional loan so she can afford to fix it up.

Catching up with Vickies family was good. I was a little worried about how well things would go, especially with Karl, Vickies son (who was the one getting married). Still, although Karl gave me the obligatory Treat Vickie bad and youll answer to me hes very protective of the females in his family we got along okay, and I think he and I will probably head out on a Blokes Day the next time Vickie and I go up (probably August/September this year).

Of course, it helps that hes got an Xbox as well

The wedding went off fantastically, and we managed to get some great photos. Vickies planning to post them up on the Harvey Norman web service that came with our digital camera, and when she does Ill be sure to link to them here.

While we were away, we had a phone call from Lesley, who wanted to know what we were doing on Sunday the 11th. It was Dans birthday that day, and she suggested that we pop over and do some gaming. We were, of course, in Cairns that day, but Lesleys idea was a good one, so Ive managed to rope Vickie, Gav and John the Mad Norwegian into heading over to Dans this coming Saturday night and playing some octaNe with him. It should be fun; Ive had an adventure idea brewing for a while (no, not that one, Boots, Im saving that for a con sometime). I was hoping I might even be able to rope Lesley in, but shes going to be out that night.

Vickies grandson Rhys and I got to chat some while we were in Cairns. I showed him the trailers for Halo 2 that I had on the laptop, and he reckoned that it was going to get held back for a little longer, much like Half Life 2. As Bungie hasnt been hacked for the Halo 2 source code I dismissed the point, but it looks like Rhys was very right; after I got back, I found a news item on Gamespot stating that Halo 2 may indeed be put back indefinitely. The Chief Xbox officer is already making id-like when its ready noises, so its April 03 date (itself a push-back from the original Holiday Season '03 release) doesnt seem to be good any more.

And to end this post on a gaming note, I discovered this morning that our local convenience store stocks Magic: The Gathering cards now. Apparently, theres a young lad in the area that asked for them, and the storeowner got some in. Although this youngster comes in every day to buy boosters, the owners carrying them at a risk, because if this kid decides to quit the habit, hell be carrying a heap of stock that just wont move. So if youre in the Normanhurst area and play Magic, why not support your local businesses and start buying your cards from the convenience store on Denman Parade, opposite the train station?

January 08, 2004

One of Those Mornings

Hi, everybody. Vickie and I are up and about (barely). Were getting the final packing done for our dash up to Cairns. We have to be out of here by nine, which gives us about an hour and a half, but most of the hard work is done already.

Couldve been a better night, though. Seems I was snoring like nobodys business last night, and as a result Vickie got around two hours sleep. (Why she doesnt, at times like these, say Darling, I love you, but keep that up and youre spending the rest of the night in the spare room is beyond me.) We were out of milk, and I forgot to pick some up from the shop near the station yesterday afternoon on the way home from work (you know what its like; you get off a hot train on a humid day and your thoughts are only on getting home, getting out of your sweaty shirt and pants and relaxing for a while), so I got up, had a shower and discovered that the shower head was broken. The plastic connector that joins the hose to the head had finally cracked enough that it wouldnt hold the hose in under pressure from the taps any more. Fortunately, I was able to get a shower and rinse before it went, but Vickie will have to utilise other means of washing this morning.

(There have been a few times when weve had guests stay over and discovered that theyd rammed the shower head so far down in its mounting that it wouldnt come out without a lot of work, so if that reads like something you've done while here, can you be more careful with our new shower head, please?)

Anyway, the milk situation was rectified with a 600ML carton (no sense in buying larger if were going to be out of town for a few days) from the petrol station down the road, breakfast has been had, and well be doing some more sorting out of luggage once Vickies had a shower. Ive got to polish my black shoes, too; dont want them looking mucky for the wedding.

January 03, 2004

Laptop 4 Sale

Me old mate the Cazman is looking to sell his Dell Inspiron 4100 laptop. He's too lazy to try eBay (besides, there are so many flogging laptops on there he'd get lost in the crowd) so he's asked me to see whether anyone in me readership would be interested in taking it off his hands.

The specs are:

  • Pentium-iii 1.2 GHz Mobile Processor
  • 512Mb RAM
  • 32 MB GeForce 2 Go Nvidia Video Processor
  • 14.1" TFT XGA screen, with 1400x1200 maximum resolution
  • 30GB Hard Disk Drive
  • DVD Drive
  • 1.44Mb 3.5" Floppy Disk Drive
  • Connections for Phone Line (Modem), 10/100 Ethernet, LPT (Printer Port), COM, USB, 2x PC Card Slots and TV-Out

It comes pre-loaded with a Dell installation of Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Money.

Cazman's asking price is AU$1,800.00. If you're interested, let me know and I'll pass your e-mail address or other preferred contact details on to the Cazman.

Continue reading "Laptop 4 Sale" »

January 01, 2004

Happy New Year '04!

Morning everyone! We've just sat up and watched the fireworks on TV. Very impressive; even more so when you consider that there wasn't a real theme throughout. I liked the ending, though; I think it's the first time I've seen anyone actually use the Bridge as a motif rather than a mounting point/launch platform. Very funky indeed!

Looney (James Lownie) popped over at just past seven, catching me mid-shave. We did some catching up and played a little Halo, during which Notlih and Notlih, Snr. arrived! We sat around, consumed the Heineken Looney so thoughtfully provided (Thank you again, Looney!), chatted for a bit about the companies we work for and some of the fun stuff Notlih's older brother gets to do for a livin', and around ten thirty everyone decided to depart. Looney headed north for a party in Wyong (we don't call him Looney for nothin'), and the Notlihs headed home for a New Year's in.

Thankfully, Vickie was home ten minutes before the fireworks started (she had to work this evening). Not so long ago, we called Boots to wish him and his party a Happy New Year. He passed us on to Gav, and although Dan and Lesley were talking about going, I think they'd gone home by that stage, as I wasn't handed on further. (Or maybe Boots was just saving on his mobile bill.)

We're having a browse at the moment, and marking our 2004 calendar up with our important dates.

A Happy New Year to one and to all! May your headaches when you wake up later this morning be less strong than the ones that may come later this year, even if you drank more tonight than you usually do!

December 27, 2003

For Your Attention

In the post-Christmas period, I'd like to draw the attention of me readership to a few things:


  • Firstly, as you all know, New Years Eve is coming up. I know that a few of you are planning shindigs at various spots, and considering the hosts, they're going to be bitchin'. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, Vickie and I can't make them. However, we will be holding an open-door New Year's party at our joint for anyone who'd like to come along. It's going to be BYO nibblies and beverages (alcoholic or otherwise), as we're a little strapped post-Christmas, and it's probably going to be small and comfortable, with the option of watching the fireworks on TV (spotty reception and all) at midnight. If you'd like to spend a comfortable, (comparatively) quiet evening with friends, please give us a call or e-mail.

  • With many thanks to Michael Z in Canberra, I have my hands on the Scifi Re-Imagined Mini-Series of Battlestar Galactica.Vickie and I have seen it, and we reckon it kicks serious arse. SimLauren suggested organising a Viewing Day sometime soon; it'll mean connecting my PC to our TV screen, but I'd like to do it. Is anyone interested? (And does anyone have a cable that connects a standard stereo headphone jack to the red/white audio ports on a TV?)

  • Still on the get-togethers topic, but moving from physical to virtual, I'd like to direct your attention to an MSN forum known as Jakes Bar. Vickie is a moderator there, and as we've grown dissatisfied with a lot of other forums we've spent time on (they've gone from social chat to political bitching), we want to give Jake's a kick-start. We need more regulars, though, so if you have an MSN Passport, please wander over, sign in and say hello!

  • And finally tonight, I'd like to suggest that those of a PC gaming bent check out a little game called Star Chamber. It's this odd, addictive hybrid of turn-based strategy and collectible card game. Not only is this 10MB download really good, but it's also entirely free - although that only gives you some sample star-maps and card decks for five of the major races. If you want to seriously get into it (which I'm not yet), you're looking at buying virtual starters and boosters, which are still much cheaper than most collectible card games on the market today. Even so, the sample stuff really gives you a good taste of how the game works, and you can probably play with those for a while. If you download it, give me a hoy, and we can organise a few games (it's strictly two-player).

Post-Christmas Ramble

Hello everyone! There�s nothing I particularly want to focus this post on, so I�m going to ramble between a few topics. I hope you don�t mind � and speaking of hopes, I also hope you all had a Merry and Safe Christmas.

Presents-wise, I�d like to say a big thank-you to my Vickie, who picked out a great pair of sunglasses for me (I�ll supply a photo when I�m looking a bit better), to Mum & Dad, Trish, Nan and Aunt Heather for the shirts (all of which not only fit but look very natty), to my Mum and Dad for the Borders vouchers (How the hell am I going to spend them all?), to Grandma for the cash (which was retroactively spent on our digital camera), to Dan & Lesley for the hamper-ful of goodies, and to Dan & Gav for the Battlestar Galactica Original Series DVD Boxed Set (you bastards). Dan also chucked me a copy of Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield, which I�ve been told Boots and Gav also have, so that gives us something we can all play online! (Once I finish the training�) Thank you also to everyone who sent us a Christmas card, whether physical or e-card. We're very glad you thought of us, and it really is the thought that counts!

Taronga Zoo was lovely, if hot, on Christmas Day, although we managed to tour the place surprisingly quickly. It probably helped that we�d been there a few times before during the year, plus there were renovations for the new elephant enclosure and a caf� plaza, which meant that several enclosures simply weren�t there. We got to see the two new lion cubs dozing with their Dad, while Mum looked on regally, but unfortunately the tiger cubs were hiding. Vickie�s adopted kids, the dingoes, were also crashed out for the afternoon. (You'd think they'd be more active for their sponsors, but there you have it.)

Today, we had SimLauren & Jason over for the afternoon. We treated them to pizza, and Vickie and Lauren traded jewellery beads and drooled over online catalogues while Jason and I talked RPGs. Jason has had a 7th Sea game running for a long while, and some of the things he implemented for it in terms of character creation and plotting were very funky; the way he tells it, he's been able to incorporate a sensibility of legend into his character backgrounds and plot development. I showed him an idea I had for an octaNe con game, which I think he was either impressed with or scared by; the man keeps his cards close to his chest, so it�s hard to tell.

We were thinking of going to see Return of the King today, but we think the queues for it are going to be hellish. As I have the whole week off work, we�ve decided to leave it until later. Dan & Lesley are going to catch a session on Monday night, so we�re babysitting Emily & Gabrielle; we traded a couple of sittings for Dan & Lesley�s three-drawer filing cabinet, which has already made our lives much easier.

December 25, 2003

Merry Xmas Everybody

While we were in the UK, I read a newspaper article which mentioned that you couldn't avoid knowing that Christmas was coming up as all the radio stations started playing Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody".

I don't know why - call me what you will, even a tasteless twerp - but that's what I've always missed about English Christmases.

That aside, it's 8 AM, it's a bright, sunny day, and Vickie and I were up at midnight last night opening our prezzies. (We have a good excuse; we thought we'd be busy making food this morning for our trip to the zoo, and I'd just picked Vickie up from work.)

So a Merry Christmas to all of you! Here's hoping your day is fun and relaxing.

December 23, 2003

Enforced Early Holiday

So I overslept this morning. My fault; I assumed the alarm was working when I hadn't even switched it back on after yesterday morning (in my defense, the little Alarm On light was indeed on). I got up, got myself sorted and got out of the house at half past eight. I dropped off some presents and cards on the way to the station, and arrived at twenty to nine, five minutes before the next train was due to arrive. And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And all of a sudden, at around five minutes to nine, this announcement comes over the PA; there's a rail strike on, and no more trains will be running until three.

Vickie's going to work tonight, so I can't take the car (not that I'd particularly want to), and I was due to start annual leave tomorrow anyway. So, looks like I'm on holidays as of today!

Which is good, as we have some shopping to do and prezzies to deliver.

December 20, 2003

Kostya and the Tree

As promised, here are a couple of photos of our new (toy) dog, Kostya.

Kostya by the Tree
Kostya Himself

Isn't he cute? :-D

Oh, yeah, about the camera: It's a Fujifilm FinePix A205s. It's only a two megapixel job, but considering the piccies above, we're well please with the results we get from it.

December 19, 2003

Shopping and Food (Not Food Shopping)

Hi everyone! After a few days of random stuff, I thought I was high time we caught up on some news.

Well, thankfully things werent too out of order on Sunday after the party. Wed taken a look at the food situation earlier that morning (before we went to bed) and realised that we had heaps left over, so much so that a lot of it would spoil before we had any hope of having it for lunches and dinners. Mid-day Sunday, we hit upon an idea invite some friends over to help us finish it off.

After making a few phone calls, we decided to spend the afternoon in Chatswood, doing some Christmas shopping. I picked up my comics, Vickie picked up some more beads, we browsed through the BaySwiss store for some crockery and incense, and we made a venture into Toys R Us to get something for Vickies grand-sons in Brisbane, Troy and Jake. While we were there, Vickie set eyes on a near-life-size plush boxer pup and fell in love immediately. When she told me she couldnt afford him, I took him from her, pulled out my credit card and said, Merry Christmas, darling!

In a conversation with the people ahead of us at the checkout, we decided on the name Kostya. Right now, he has pride of place, sitting beside our Christmas tree. Ill have to take a photo with our digital camera and put it up on the site tonight.

Oh, yes, the digital camera! We managed to wangle Boots into coming over and eating our food (not that thats really a hard sell with Boots, but anyway). As we were in the area, we told him wed pick him up after work and then decided to go in and have a browse ourselves. As a result, we walked away with a new 2 Megapixel Fuji digital camera and some handy accessories, and Boots was able to give us a quite affordable price on the lot. Itll come in handy when we dash off to Cairns in January.

So anyway, we had Boots, SimLauren and Jason over for food on Sunday night. We pulled out the salad, the rest of the turkey and some left-over pastries (provided by Mum & Dad the night before). Jason and Lauren forgot to bring the leftover won ton from Saturday night back with them, but that wasn't a big deal; we had plenty anyway.

I also sat them down to watch Equilibrium, which I reckon they all liked. Afterwards, we were all discussing the ideas of Utopias and Dystopias and the ideas presented in the film, and Boots had the idea that he and I ought to do movie reviews. If I remember his idea correctly, hed be the belligerent, vehement one, while Id get to be all calm, rational and reasonable. Tempting little thought, that. I think he was talking about something web-based, and Ive had a few ideas around that; maybe with a new Movable Type blog with us as authors and using Categories (which wed post under) for the movie titles. Either that, or doing it as a daily thing. Anyway, Boots is coming over here again tonight, so we might hash it out a little more then.

Maybe hes trying this as a back-door way of getting me involved with his film club

After all that talk about invitations for Christmas Day, Vickie and I finally remembered last night what wed actually planned several weeks ago for Christmas: Pack a picnic basket and go to Taronga Zoo. Weve not taken advantage of Vickies Zoo parenthood since I gave it to her for her birthday in early October, so were going to actually have a Christmas out.

December 03, 2003

They Just Can't Get Enough...

... of our Mandi, it seems! Earlier today, we got an updated e-mail from a friend saying that Mandi's departure date was moved forward from after Christmas to mid-December. An hour ago, I got an SMS from Mandi, saying that the date had come forward again; this time to a week from now!

I called Vickie (she's at work), who'd just got off the phone with Mandi - it turns out that her employers-to-be couldn't get her on the originally promised flights, so they kept looking for earlier bookings.

If this keeps up, tomorrow Mandi will have already left two weeks ago...

December 02, 2003

Bon Voyage and Best Wishes!

As everyone on the IMAGinewS list already knows, our loony friend Mandi has gone and scored herself a new job as an administrator - in, of all places, Beijing. She departs our fair nation just after Christmas, and will be returning sometime around the end of next year. We wish her the best of success and bags of fun!

November 27, 2003

Truth in Advertising

So what I want to know is this: If the Red Vs. Blue DVD is being billed as a Special Edition with bonus features and the like, where's the Regular Edition for cheaper?

I have to agree with their point about this Peugeot concept car, though.

November 23, 2003

Early Wet Sunday

Morning, all. I was up after half past five this morning, and Vickie was actually up before me. I was also second to bed last night. This jet lag is really monkeying with us; I’m usually first up of a morning and first to bed. The weather since Friday has been almost constant rain. I feel as though I should apologise or something; it’s as if it wanted to come back with us from the UK and only just caught up with us on Friday. Still, it does mean that the dreaded mowing of the lawn has been postponed to next week...

Not much planned today. I’ll be making a dash into Hornsby soon; I need to buy a new monthly train ticket for when I go back to work tomorrow (got to get ready for that too), and the film from our holidays that I dropped off yesterday should be ready to pick up today. We’ll start scanning them in and get them posted where possible.

Continue reading "Early Wet Sunday" »

November 22, 2003

It's not pink! It's lightish red!

I know, I know; I'm getting post-happy today. But I would be absolutely remiss if I didn't let you all know that Red Vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles walked away with three of the six awards it was nominated for at the 2003 Machinima Festival.

The RvB lads themselves are acting all humble, of course, and recommending that browsers check out the other entrants as well. As most of our download limit for this month remains un-used, it's tempting...

Oh, yeah, on the general subject of Halo: Boots, how'd you enjoy my Xbox? And can I get it back sometime soon, please?

Timed Out: Vickie & Rob in the UK Part 1

Vickie's beaten me to it! She's posted the first part of her memoir on our trip to the UK on her website! We still don't have any photos yet, but please take a look!

I Hate Jet Lag

I really, really do. So does Vickie; in fact, she hates it more than I. It’s monkeying around with what was meant to be a relaxing four days before we got back to work like nobody’s business. We were planning to spend most of the time playing through Shadows of Undrentide, but we’ve been back in the country for forty-eight hours without firing Neverwinter Nights up even once.

What have we been doing instead? Well, there’s been sleep, unpacking, sleep, watching a DVD, sleep, shopping for basic supplies, sleep, eating, sleep, watching some telly, and more sleep.

I mentioned before that we’re not travelling any long distances by air without getting at least one stop-over. Here’s why: We got in at nine on Thursday morning. Vickie and I went to bed at around two, after I put that last post up. I was out of bed again briefly at three, when the Cazman dropped his set of house keys off. We slept until eight thirty. I crashed again at one AM Friday, woke up when Vickie came to bed at three AM and couldn’t get to sleep again. I came out and did some stuff (I think I played Homeworld2, but I’m not sure) until about five thirty, when I made an abortive attempt to get to sleep again. I gave up at seven, when Vickie and I both got up again.

Continue reading "I Hate Jet Lag" »

November 20, 2003

Back from Old Blighty

Hello all once again! Vickie and I have returned home from the UK. Our plane landed at ten past seven this morning, and we walked in our front door at nine! We've yet to do any serious un-packing, and boy is there a lot of it awaiting us.

We're both very jet-lagged. Vickie's sleeping it off right now, and although I've been using the intervening time to check out my purchase of Equilibrium and catch up on my regular web sites, I can feel a wave of tiredness bearing down on me, so I probably won't be too far behind.

Continue reading "Back from Old Blighty" »

November 10, 2003

Good Hotel Hunting

Afternoon, everyone. I'm back at Prestwich Library again. It's Sunday, and I'm foregoing (or at least postponing) a Sunday Roast Lunch in order to look up some hotels near the Victoria Coach Station that we can book a few nights at. A quck search on Google turned up a site that Vickie found shortly before we left (but, although she bookmarked it, neither of us thought to write the URL down in our trip notebook), and there are a few promising places, but no phone numbers for them - the only booking option is an online system. Still, I have their names and addresses, so a phone call to the local directory service this afternoon should see us right.

At the moment, we're planning to head down to London tomorrow morning via coach - which means we need to get the room bookings and coach tickets sorted out pronto. We want to spend a full day in London if we can (at this stage, that's looking like Tuesday) and then pop off to see the Roger (Wednesday). Afterward, we're going to head up to Bristol to hook up with a web-friend of Vickie's, Maurice. We were hoping to get together with some of Vickie's family in Gloucester on Friday - except Friday is when they all head off for some holidays themselves, so instead we'lll just be going straight back to Manchester from Bristol.

I'll probably be back on in a week to let you know how we did.

November 08, 2003

Ruddy English keyboards...

Morning (or evening, as the case may be), everyone! I'm writing this post at the Internet terminal at the Prestwich Library! One of the first things I discovered is that, for some unknown reason, the quotation marks (") and the @ symbol are swapped around. It made putting up a new comment on my own website awkward until I figured out what was wrong.

I made a page of notes on the things I wanted to put in this post, but left the notebook back at Gran's place. So I'll have to work from memory here - which might just result in a tighter post.

Continue reading "Ruddy English keyboards..." »

November 03, 2003

Heaving On A Jet Plane

Well, my bags are packed, I'm on the plane
I have to eat airline food again
I hate to bring it up, but it won't stay down (won't stay do-own)...

- Loosely attributed to the Scared Weird Little Guys

Suitcases packed - check.
Backpack packed - check.
Toiletries bag packed - check.
Money for dinner at the airport - check.
British currency for our arrival - check.
Lawn mowed - check.
Vital and emergency phone numbers - check.
House keys to the Cazman - check.
Backups done - check.
Plane tickets - check.
Computers powered off and unplugged - in a minute.
Dan to give us a lift to the airport - on his way.

Well, everyone, this is it - we're hoff to Hengland for two wheeks. I'll see if I can sneak a few posts while we're there, but photos are going to have to wait until after we get back, because I doubt we'll have use of a scanner. If I don't get near to a computer long enough to put something solid up, our best to you all, and we'll see you after the twentieth.

Continue reading "Heaving On A Jet Plane" »

November 01, 2003

Run, Talon, Run

Morning everyone! Well, it's evening still, I suppose, as I'm kicking this posting off at half past eleven on Friday night, but by the time I'm done I think it’ll be Saturday morning. Just so’s you know, I am officially on leave from work for the next three weeks; I’ve tied up all the loose ends in my queue and given the bloke who’s taking over from me while I’m away some thorough and updated documentation on my job – and when I arrive back, I fully expect it to be filled with revisions and corrections.

We fly out of Sydney on Monday evening, so if there’s anything you’d like to borrow from me in our absence, you’d better get in pretty quickly.

Continue reading "Run, Talon, Run" »

October 31, 2003

It's Official.

Alien Versus Predator

October 27, 2003

Wonky Monday

Evening everyone. I was feeling a little ill last night and this morning, so I spent the day at home to recuperate. I'm feeling okay at the moment, so back to work tomorrow; there's still some hand-over that needs to be done so that the others in my area aren't left in the lurch when we rack off to the UK.

Boots loaned us his six-DVD collection of Band of Brothers on Saturday night; we watched a fair chunk of it on Sunday and finished it off today. Did we enjoy it? Let me put it this way: We're thinking of picking a copy up for ourselves when we get back from England.

I used my sick-time to finish up transferring the rest of the material from the old site over to MT. The RPG Stuff, Reviews, Short Stories and Editorials sections are as complete as I'd like in terms of old material. There are some old RPG Stuff items I don't want to bring across, and I've also decided to leave the older-than-2003 News where it is; just putting all the News back to the first of January this year has been work enough. I'll probably put a December 31st, 2002 post in with a link back to the old stuff.

Vickie's been to the dentist's today and has a full smile again! She'll be going back in February to get a little more fix-up stuff done.

October 24, 2003

Gear on the Brain

Afternoon everyone! I've not posted anything new for three days (except for some new musings still in draft), which has allowed me to build up some material. I'm still yet to drag some the rest of the material from the old site, unfortunately; I'm not sure whether I'll import all the news posts (which will take ages) or just get all of 2003 (leaving 2002 and 2001 behind). The RPG Stuff is the next biggest deal; there's a lot of table-format info that I'll need to look at the HTML code for, and I'm wondering whether some of it could be left behind anyway.

It looks as though this evening may be rainy, but I'm going to be spending most of the evening working out the details of tomorrow's Heavy Gear: Black Talon session anyway. With any luck, Dan and I should be able to get his blue booking session out of the way this evening as well. Mandi won't be able to make it tomorrow, so it'll just be Boots, Dan, Gav and Vickie playing. I pretty much know how things are going to go down, although I want to try and define some of the NPCs a bit better before then. With a bit of luck, I should be able to referee a session of cracking Geary action (if only in simulators) with a few plot points thrown in for good measure.

Continue reading "Gear on the Brain" »

October 19, 2003

Weekend Wind-Down

Well, another weekend almost over and done with. Aside from further tweaks to Vickie's web site, I've stayed away from posting here; it's a knock-on from that Quantity over Quality posting I did a couple of days ago.

It has, thankfully, been a restful weekend, which is rather ironic when you consider how busy we've been. For starters, it's been a real garden weekend for us both. In between work and Dan dropping over on Friday, I mowed the grass verge and some of the front lawn. Saturday morning saw me finish most of the lawn; I left the edging until today. Vickie spent a good chunk of today hacking away at our bougainvillea in the back yard, with me helping out now and again. It's but a stump of its former self, and the cuttings have been put into two wheelie-bins for pickup on Wednesday. It's a bastard to manage; Vickie's very scratched up from all the thorns on the rotten thing.

... yeah, Dan. He tried to get some Crimson Skies going on Friday night, but Gav had a prior engagement, Boots had been called into work and I, I must confess, wasn't really feeling in the mood for any clicky action, so instead Dan just hung out here for a while. I played some more Red Vs. Blue for him; he only has four episodes left to see.

Continue reading "Weekend Wind-Down" »

October 16, 2003

Quantity Over Quality?

Hola muchachos. (That is right, isn't it? I've been watching Episode 19 of Red Vs. Blue again.) I just had a quick look at the website, and noticed that my postings calendar has a bold date for every day since I got this blog running. I think I've put up two rants/editorials this month (the latter of which was going to be a straight news post until it got too long), and on the other days, there have often been two news posts per day. I'm beginning to wonder whether my IMAGinewS members are getting annoyed with the quantity of postings. On the other hand, my news posts back on the old site were often as long as my longer editorials anyway, simply because the annoyance that was updating my site meant I'd only update once per week, and usually less frequently than that, so I had a lot of news saved up between posts. Still, that "quantity over quality" thing is bugging me; I fear that I might start posting for the sake of it (instead of doing things like short stories, etc.) and wind up driving readers off.

Continue reading "Quantity Over Quality?" »

October 04, 2003

Labour Day 2003

Hi everybody! Vickie and I had a nice long lie-in this morning. God, I love Long Weekends... Oh, for those of you out-of-state/country, this weekend is the Labour Day Long Weekend. Of course, in Sydney, this means that Necronomicon is on. Neither Vickie or I will be there, though - see, the first weekend of October is unusually rife with birthdays. My Uncle Joe's is tomorrow, and as Aunt Ned's is Thursday (yes, they're married), the family tend to have the dinner for them on the same day. And, of course, the birthday of my lovely, esteemed Vickie is on Monday. So, I'm very much too busy for con-going. It's nice to have a legitimate excuse...

Best wishes to Gav and Boots, who are entering the Crimson Skies tournament on Sunday, and especially to Boots, who's continuing his trend of public self-flagellation by writing and running yet another freeform. I think if a con occurs in Sydney without Boots running something, the Sydney gaming community will be wondering whether he's had a nervous breakdown.

Continue reading "Labour Day 2003" »

September 28, 2003

Poker in the UK

Evening all! Today, I put a deposit down on two airline tickets to the UK. Flight Centre gave us a good deal with Emirates. We'll be popping over for the first two weeks in November to catch up with family. Although we arrive back on the nineteenth, I think we'll be so jet-lagged that we're not likely to be available for anything until the weekend anyway!

Marcus and I are still ironing out some issues with Movable Type and the hosting on his server. I've been bombarding the poor bloke with e-mails, to which he's responded as best he can. I have the feeling he didn't quite realise what he was taking on with me! :-D Anyway, I have a new rant ready, but I'm going to hold until the new site is up before I post it.

You may also have noticed that the last news-post, dated last Monday, didn't go up until Wednesday. That was because, for some God-unknown reason, Telstra wasn't letting me into my own webspace via FTP. No, I have no idea why. The great part is that the only way I can get in is by using an FTP application; Telstra doesn't offer any kind of site-building or uploading tool on their website. So if WS_FTP can't get in, I'm stuffed.

Continue reading "Poker in the UK" »

September 22, 2003

The Illuminated Name of the Rose is TRON 2.0

Evening! Been a good couple of weeks since the last newspost - you know, this is beginning to sound like "It has been two weeks since my last confession." I think I ought to just step up the pace or shut up. I've also noticed that there's been a fair bit of whinging in my news posts lately. I think there's a rant in there somewhere; it just needs some teasing out.

Anyway. One of the reasons, or excuses, why there haven't been any news posts for the last couple of weeks is the visit of Melissa Resch, a talented artist and poet whom Vickie met up with on the about.com poetry boards. I think I mentioned in the last news post that Melissa is a U.S. native (currently based out of Provincetown, in Massachusets) who was in Perth for four months to expand her palate. She wanted to see Sydney before she went back to the States, so Vickie offered to put her up here for the week. I didn't really know Melissa before she arrived; we only spoken once or twice a couple of weeks before she was due to leave Perth.

So after only a week of shared time, I can safely say Melissa is one of those quality people whom we feel lucky to be able to call friends. She's a very pleasant, easy-going, cheery person, and frankly we wouldn't have minded having her around for the one week of her time that we did have. With any luck, she may be back in Australia on a more permanent basis. I won't say any more for fear of hexing things for her, though.

Continue reading "The Illuminated Name of the Rose is TRON 2.0" »

August 31, 2003

Going Once, Going Twice...

Morning everyone! It's been a pretty good weekend so far. Vickie and I did some shopping in Chatswood yesterday, and I managed to sell my RPG stuff on eBay for far and beyond over what I was expecting to get! After eBay deducts its fees for posting items for auction and its cut of the winning bids, I'll be walking away with a little over $160!

I'm still debating whether to put some of the other stuff up for auction. Not for sentimental reasons; it's just that I'm not sure whether it's worth paying $2 to post something that I doubt will sell well. You know, stuff like the Lawnmower Man RPG, the Men in Black RPG, my first and second editions of the Mutant Chronicles RPG. I'm even debating putting some of my comics collections on eBay; mostly the stuff I don't read any more like Azrael, Iron Man, the first couple of Darkminds mini-series and maybe some of the TransFormers stuff. (Oh, yeah; I don't think that I mentioend that I've cancelled a lot of my Phantom Zone subscriptions. However, I'm still staying with Phantom Zone; as there's a good bead shop in Chatswood, Vickie and I both have reason to pootle down there on a monthly basis.)

I also managed to sell off most of my Star Wars D20 stuff to Gav. I'm keeping the Revised Edition rulebook, because that's all I'm ever likely to need, but Gav now has my Dark Side Sourcebook, Rebellion Era Sourcebook, Alien Anthology and Living Force Campaign Guide, plus the first edition Star Wars D20 rules (I'm pretty sure he has the Revised Edition rulebook already), and he purchased all that product for $100!

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August 23, 2003

Panik Orchestra

Hi folks! I know I've not exactly been posting prolifically lately; chalk it up to my other job as professional worrier. Vickie reckons it's the Scots blood in me - those with the blood of the Haggis (my great-grandfather was a Scot) tend to be very possessive of money and worry about it a lot. I've been working myself into a depression lately over paying for the trip we'll be taking to Cairns for Vickie's son's wedding in January, as well as a trip to the UK I want to organise for mid-next year. See, I've been kicking myself for splurging on an Xbox when I had a perfectly serviceable PC, not to mention over-indulging during the Last Big Upgrade (which I still have a largeish credit card debt from). I'd talked myself into that upgrade so that I could have a system worthy of Tron 2.0 when it hit the shelves, and the problems I had with the Radeon 9700 enabled me to justify (to myself) taking it back and getting a PRO. I'd also got an e-mail from Boots, who wanted some advice on upgrading a freind's PC. The whole "guilt about the overkill upgrade" bit took hold, and I wrote back, saying if the friend was interested, he or she could buy my current mainboard and the Radeon 9700 PRO for a reasonable price.

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July 31, 2003

Telstra Vs. iiNet and Poet of the Week

Before I write anything else this evening, I'd like to start by apologising to Gav. In yesterday's post, I took a jesting swipe at Gav and Boots ("ingrates" was the term I used) for having double-booked the Saturday evening in question; I had forgotten that just the night before, Gav had had a death in the family. Gav, I'm sorry. Next time, I'll try and think before I write.

The Telstra vs. iiNet battle still continues, and it looks like iiNet may winn my dollar. While it may cost $300-450 to shift over to iiNet (mainly in the cost of a new ADSL modem), the fact that, for less than the base monthly rate of my current 3GB cable connection, I can get a superior download limit, equivalent bandwidth and a larger web-space that meets Movable Type's requirements (as confirmed by iiNet's helpful tech support team, unlike Telstra's, who direct me back to their BigPond Hosting page that woefully neglects to provide more than a brief, incomplete features list) is making me seriously reconsider paying Telstra anything more.

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July 20, 2003

Dog Soldiers and Dog Day After

Morning all! It's nine o'clock in the morning; high time for another newspost!

Boots' Friday Night Birthday Party went off very well. We were at the Commodore Hotel on Blues Point Road from six thirty onward, and had a pretty good turnout. Some of Boots' uni mates, who are all good folks, were there; we spent most of the evening sitting, chatting and drinking. The smoky atmosphere, even outdoors, got to me after a while, and I had to beg off at around ten. I think it was a good thing I did, as later on, the party moved to Metropolis in North Sydney, where a mate of Boots' was giving the party free drinks. The Rog of Evil took full advantage of the situation, getting Boots to down shot after shot of tequila. The party broke up at around three AM yesterday, and while Boots gave me a rather thorough report last night on his post party condition, I shall refrain from repeating it here; let it suffice to write that he's sworn off alcohol. Well, for the next few weeks, anyway.

I dropped Vickie off at work at half past eleven yesterday for the commencement of her twelve-hour shift, then picked up my comics subscription from Chatswood. I'm actually thinking of cancelling a lot of my comics subscriptions. It seems I'm just losing interest in the characters and what they're up to. I'll probably keep up with Dork Tower, because that's always good, not to mention very relevant to myself. :-) But aside from that, I think Iron Man and the various Tansformers subscriptions are probably going to go (although I must admit, I'm not too sure on the Transformers front; with Simon Furman on board as writer, the stories have suddenly picked up). I'm ambivalent about Ultimate X-Men; it's sort of got my interest but at the same time I'm sort of thinking I could still drop it anyway.

Continue reading "Dog Soldiers and Dog Day After" »

July 16, 2003

Post-Birthday Spendage

Hi all! Yet another work from home day. I'm using my lunch break to do a little posting and updating.

Well, the shopping trip on Sunday was a success: I picked up those two copies of Shadows of Undrentide and the bonus DVD edition of Steely Dan's new album, Everything Must Go. I had to go to both Electronics Boutique and Kmart for SOU, as EB had only one copy; I also traded Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance in at EB for a discount (I recently found myself utterly disinterested in finishing it). We've played through some of Chapter 1 of SOU, and I've been playing the heck out of Everything Must Go. It's fantastic, and if you like jazz with a little bounce, you'll love this.

Clean-up after the party didn't actually take long (most of the washing up was done by Vickie and the dishwasher the night before). I actually got an e-mail from Notlih on Monday: the bastard clean forgot about the party, so Vickie and I are taking him on a guilt trip. We've yet to hear anything from the other non-attendees; it looks like they're keeping a low profile at the moment.

Continue reading "Post-Birthday Spendage" »

July 13, 2003

Post-Party Postage

(yawn) Morning everyone! I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing awake at the moment, especially as we didn't get to sleep until something like half past three this morning, but here I am, feeling very awake at ten thirty and writing another newspost!

The party was great last night, although most people were fashionably late - Gav turned up at six and the next guests, EvilHayama and Pirotess, didn't show until half past seven! Thankfully, they were the start of the trend, with a lot of the guests turning up not long after. We got to catch up with a few people we've not seen in a while, especially Lauren, and the Xbox, semi-surprisingly, hardly saw any use (I fired it up once to show off the Agent Smith cut scene from Enter the Matrix). Much love must go to my Vickie (not that it doesn't usually, but you know), who was rushing around like the proverbial blue-arsed fly (someone will have to explain that piece of Australianism to me at some point) yesterday and Friday making food and cleaning up the place for the party. She's having a nice, long and much-deserved lie-in this morning.

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July 03, 2003

Moves, Demos and Drivers

Evening all! My apologies; I was working on a news post on Tuesday, but I got distracted. Only eight days 'til me birthday! Yahoo!

The biggest news in the past couple of weeks is that me mate Gav has moved out of the family domicile in Berowra and into me old mate EvilHayama's place within spitting distance of the CBD. As some (including Gav) have commented, this puts him within half an hour's walk from Games Paradise, which, I am sure, will allow him to keep up the levels of exercise he maintained on the daily trek from his old place to Berowra Station and back. I must claim some credit for this, as it was I who suggested Gav to Hayama when the Evil One was looking for a third housemate (after Evil and Dane's last one moved out). It's been five nights so far and they don't seem to have killed one another yet.

My Tron 2.0 itch has been scratched: Monolith and Buena Vista have released a multiplayer demo, including a single Disc Arena/Tournament level and a signle Lightcycles level. I downloaded all 160 megabytes from Gamespot on Tuesday, and damn I'm glad I did; it looks positively spiffing on my new graphics card and the gameplay is challenging but fun.

Continue reading "Moves, Demos and Drivers" »

June 01, 2003

Pinch and a Punch

Morning everyone! Pinches and Punches for the First Day of the Monthses and all of that.

Vickie and I have been naughty little stress-monkeys this week. I've been stressing for a while about giving a PC to Dan, as I wanted to do it both in a timely fashion and within budget. My upgrade didn't go as smoothly as intended; the Radeon 9700 drivers kept arguing with my system and crashing it for some unknown reason (I noticed the latest Catalyst drivers insisted it was a 9700 PRO, giving me the impression that this was a faulty card). After doing a reformat-clean install in the first place, I did another one, and still the bastard kept crashing. I took the card back to where I bought it, and after a little arguing (as the mounting metal on the card had a screw-head mark on it from where I'd fastened it to the machine as one is supposed to; they argued that they couldn't re-sell the card, and I wanted to know why they couldn't simply retun it to their vendor as possibly faulty, whch they insisted they just couldn't do), they agreed to give me a credit toward another video card. I ordered a PRO, forking out an extra $100 to cover the price difference (under the reasonong that if the latest drivers were inisiting the Radeon 9700 was a PRO, then a PRO would work fine), and still it kept crashing.

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May 05, 2003

Like Giving Jack The Ripper a Chainsaw

Morning all. Feeling a little crook today, so I'm staying home. It feels like a dose of the cold; you know, sniffles, sore throat, sore sinuses, etcetera.

Hope you all enjoyed your Mother's Day yesterday, especially you Mothers out there! Vickie and I took Mum and Dad out to lunch at the Blu Water Grill in Hornsby. It was packed with other families celebrating the same occasion, so we didn't get our meals for an hour, but we didn't mind; it was a very pleasant arvo. We're off to the RSL this evening with the family again; it's my Nan's birthday today.

Yesterday also gave me the chance to exercise my new CUA Mastercard, which, despite my request for no credit, has a $2,000 limit on it. As I'm broke at the moment, it covered lunch and a small shopping spree at Electronics Boutique. I bought Vickie a copy of Myst III: Exile, going cheap at $50, and myself a copy of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance for the Xbox. Vickie and I (well, mainly Vickie) made a little headway into Exile with only some minor checking of the Prima Strategy Guide that came with the game. Substance is good, just bloody tough on Normal difficulty (which, I discovered when I actually read the fucking manual, is meant to be for veterans of the prior game; I've since restarted on Easy difficulty).

Continue reading "Like Giving Jack The Ripper a Chainsaw" »

May 04, 2003

An IMAGinewS Public Service Announcement

Over the past few weeks, Vickie has been plagued with dialogue boxes that pop up intermittently, advertising ad-banning services, diplomas and (of course) porn. I've been at a loss to figure out what it is; I've tried tightening our firewall, yet the damned things still get through. As the dialogue boxes had "Messenger Service" in the top bar, we at first thought it had something to do with MSN Messenger, but even with Trillian shut down and logged off, the messages kept popping up.

Yesterday, I did a little searching in the web, trying to find whether anyone had identified the cause of the problem and found a fix. It turns out that a few places had; the best explanation of the problem and how to fix it that I've seen so far is at the helpdesk of the University of Birmingham.

I think that if Vickie's having problems (and I think the only reason I wasn't was because I share Vickie's Internet connection, so I'm hidden behind her IP address), some of you folks may also have been having them. The fix above is easy to apply and doesn't harm your system in any way (if you're using a work PC, though, I recommend seeing your tech services department before making any changes).

Continue reading "An IMAGinewS Public Service Announcement" »

May 03, 2003

Where Does All The Time Go?

I turn my back for one second, one miserable second, and suddenly it's May. I mean, May. It was only yesterday that it was February, for crying out loud. What's going on, here? Time seems to have started speeding up somewhere in my early teens, and it hasn't shown any sign of slowing down since. It's not like I've not been spending the same amount of hours and minutes around here, but somehow, it seems they've gotten shorter.

If there's one good thing about this time speeding up thing, it's that the good stuff gets here more quickly. X2 has now hit our screens (two days before it opened in the US), and it's barely two weeks until The Matrix Reloaded, as well as the Enter The Matrix computer/video game. I'm suddenly contemplating getting my hands on the latter; primarily because of the additional one hour of movie-quality footage shot for it by the Wachowski Brothers themselves and starring Jada Pinkett-Smith and Anthony Wong (not to mention the odd cameo from the Main Four from the movies [Reeves, Moss, Fishburne and Weaving]). Not only that, but Larry and Andy have been involved in the game's design from the word go. If there's one problem, it's that the in-game character models do look a little dodgy.

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March 25, 2003

Do you realise how cool you all are?

I think it was Trent who brought a certain fact to my attention a few months ago: there aren't any flame wars, trolls or generally impolite or unsociable behaviours on the IMAGinewS group. Lately, with an undeclared war commencing, rudeness and ignorance has been pandemic on the Web; some of you have experienced it personally. So far, all I've read in postings to the group have been statements of belief, almost always prefaced by "This isn't intended to start a flame, I just need to speak my piece." It amused me that the posters felt a need to put up such a disclaimer, especially considering the aforementioned lack of flames in the group... but then I realise that the members of the IMAGinewS group are doing so because they care enough about the group - about each other - to actively ensure that it stays that way. I'm also glad that they feel that my little corner of the web is a safe enough place for them to make such statements. To each and every one o' you cats: Thank you for making IMAGinewS what it is.

Continue reading "Do you realise how cool you all are?" »

March 10, 2003

Sim Sickness and Movies

Good evening everyone! We have had a busy past few days around here. Madam Lash got dropped off at Kmart again on Thursday for her new seals, and Vickie picked her up on Friday night on the way to work. Unfortunately, she's back there again right now; on Saturday afternoon, after doing some shopping in Thornleigh, we noticed a puddle of oil on the concrete underneath her. I changed parking spots and watched as more drops fell onto the concrete. One of the guys at Kmart says it might be excess oil from the engine wash they gave her, but the engine temp and that hot metal smell on the way to Kmart imply a different cause. We're hoping that they'll actually get her fixed by tomorrow so we can book her in for a rego check soon.

Whilst browsing Electronics Boutique on my Friday lunch hour with John T (in anticipation of Freelancer's Oz release), I saw a copy of Star Wars: Jedi Knight II - Jedi Outcast sitting on the shelf for $50. Having played the demo, and having a little cash to spare, I decided to give it a shot - but after an hour of trying to get through the first level, I had to shut it down, un-install it and put it back in its box. Once again, my case of First-Person Shooter Motion Sickness had kicked in, and I knew I'd never finish the game. The default mouse sensitivity was far too twitchy, and when I tried to tone it down, I could barely keep up.

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March 05, 2003

Testing the Waters

Good evening everyone! It seems like the Dreaded Lurgi is doing the rounds once again - one of our team-members at work was down with it last week, and Boots is recovering from a bout. We were going to have our flu shots tomorrow, but Vickie's had to delay because, ironically, she has the flu. Only I, with my superhuman immune system, remain untouched by the ravages of this disease! Instead, I've had ear problems (ouch). Wax up your boards...

The weekend was good, if not entirely relaxing. We bimbled over to John T's house party on Saturday night, and were treated to some good food and a Balinese dancing show by John's wife, Sani, and a friend. Our respective health issues had us heading for home by about ten, though. (sigh) The next morning, I was up mowing the lawn, doing shopping, and doting on my poorly Vickie. (I secretly think that's why she "gets sick", you know - she loves the pampering.)

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February 28, 2003

An Oily Situation

This Saturday, at the very least, is going to be a busy one. With all the rain we've had lately, the grass on the lawn has exploded; I'm getting stuck into it tomorrow morning with the mower. John T's house party is on that afternoon / evening, so we'll need to pick up some supplies for that as well. I might use some of Sunday to do some catching up on work stuff; we're going to be a man down for a while, so I need to sort out where we are and what'll be coming up.

Vickie picked Madam Lash up from Kmart this arvo. Thankfully, the bill came in at $50 under the initial estimate, but the fat lady hadn't sung yet. Kmart identified not one, but three separate oil leaks. We've booked the Madam in for another session next Thursday, where they're going to replace all of her seals. Kmart estimated the cost at $500. So, after Friday, we'll have spent around $750 on the Madam, and she won't even have had her pink slip inspection yet (which, plus green slip and re-rego cots, will take us over the grand mark). As her rego is due at the end of March, Freelancer and those Heavy Gear miniatures might have to wait just a little longer...

And speaking of the Heavy Gear miniatures, Boots piked on our painting session this week; apparently his Gear Krieg players decided that they wanted a session on that day. Knowing that getting players in one place is like herding cats, I can sympathise with the guy.

Enough of my rambling. Time to get dinner and do some serious relaxing.

February 10, 2003

Fond Farewell

Hi, all! Last day of leave today; back to the old grind for both of us tomorrow. As today's the first day we've had alone for two weeks, we decided to spend it together. I shot an e-mail off to Boots with our apologies; thankfully, he was all right with it.

We got Jillian to the airport at half past twelve and had a relaxing lunch with her for an hour. While she was packing, Jillian started asking me about the cost of setting up a cheap, 486-type PC; her intention was to give Vickie a "glorified typewriter" to start seriously writing on, without the distraction of the Internet and her PC's other functions. The issue of space came up, until Vickie had the brainwave of getting a cheap, used laptop - and then Jillian gave her some money to buy one. We've been cruising eBay this morning for one that will capably run Win98 and MS Word 97, and we've put a bid down on a used Toshiba.

After lunch, we saw Jillian to the entrance to the departure gates and said our goodbyes. We miss her... but, we must admit, we still don't mind having the place to ourselves again.

Continue reading "Fond Farewell" »

February 06, 2003

I'll Take a Hotel on Mayfair...

Good morning, everyone! It's been a busy week thus far. The Board Gaming Day went bloody well; I just wish it could have gone on longer, but being a Sunday, several folks needed to get to work the next day. Still, we managed to squeeze in some Before I Kill You, Mr. Bond..., Monopoly and a card game that Mandi introduced to us called Bartok. Gav loaned me a couple of his CanCon purchases: the Delta Green: Dark Theatres anthology, which I just polished off last night, and Cthulhu Live: Delta Green. In return, I loaned him my two Delta Green fiction books; Alien Intelligence and The Rules of Engagement - I have the feeling that if I ever actually run any Delta Green, Gav will be playing the grizzled veteran who knows most of the secrets.

The Jillian's Visit schedule has been chopped and changed a few times. Monday's Rocks, Gardens & Chair day became a strictly Rocks day, as we (well, I should say, Vickie and Jillian) prowled the Rocks looking for bargains. Jillian wound up buying a rock opal frog, as well as various items from an Aboriginal craft store. We had a very nice lunch at the Swagman's Post Café on George Street. I absolutely have to recommend it; if not for the good food (which it is, by the way), then for the lovely courtyard they have at the back, bounded by the rock wall that runs behind the North end of George Street. It's great for getting away from the noise and bustle of the main stretch. If you want to find it, the address is 35 George Street, The Rocks. I recommend the Swagman's Breakfast, even if the plate is too small for the amount of food they put on it.

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February 02, 2003

To Our Pioneers

At approximately 1 o'clock this morning, Australian Eastern Daylight Time, contact was lost with the Space Shuttle Columbia sixteen minutes away from her scheduled landing as part of Flight STS-107. For reasons yet to be determined, she disintegrated midair over Texas. All seven crew died on board. Our thoughts go out to the families and friends of the crew, as well as the good people of NASA, who are even now looking for the accident's cause. Our hopes also go out to the worldwide space effort, whose uphill battle to get us to the stars has just become much steeper.

January 27, 2003

Water and Fire

Well, a fine good afternoon to you all, and a Happy Australia Day for yesterday! It's my second working day on annual leave, and I just did a quick dial-in to work to send John Tuggey some stuff. However, I fully intend to not use my laptop again for the next fourteen days (except in case of emergencies). After all, Jillian has come all the way from the States to see us!

We crawled out of bed at five thirty on Saturday morning to pick Jillian up from the airport. Her plane arrived at seven thirty, and thankfully she was able to get through customs within half an hour. We stopped off in Hornsby on the way home for some breakfast at the Café Florence, then spent the rest of the day getting Jillian settled in. I set up her digital camera's CompactFlash card reader on my PC, and we're using it to store her photos on until we can burn them onto a CD for her. We also sat her down and forced her to watch A Knight's Tale! We seem to be doing that a lot...

Continue reading "Water and Fire" »

January 18, 2003

Pre-Orders and Preparing for an Arrival

Morning all! It's a scorcher up our way at the moment - which is doubly aggravating, as we're going to be having a day in the garden! We're hiring a ute from Kennards at eleven, and we'll be loading it up with garden waste, our queen-size mattress and a whole heap of the boxes we used to move in and taking the off to the tip in Ryde.

I splurged on MechAssault for the Xbox on Thursday. It's good fun so far, if a little difficult; I'm on the third mission at the moment and I've failed about four times. That'll do me for computer/video games... until mid-March, when TRON 2.0 and Freelancer arrive. I've already got a pre-order on TRON 2.0 at the Electronics Boutique near where I work.

Continue reading "Pre-Orders and Preparing for an Arrival" »

January 12, 2003

Babysitting and Building Adventures

Morning everyone! Today's going to be a big housework day today. On my front, the lawn needs mowing and the car needs another good wash (and I still need to book her in for a service). Vickie's going to be tending her garden a bit, I think, and probably going crazy on the inside of the house. We need to squeeze a shopping run in there somewhere; we're getting low on fruit and a few other things. On top of those, we also have to watch 3000 Miles to Graceland today; it has to be back at Video Ezy by eight.

I forgot to mention on Wednesday: When Vickie and I went shopping on Saturday, she suggested that I get my eyes tested. I've always been rather hesitant taking turns across roads and on T-junctions; it simply looked like cars were a little closer than perhaps they were. So I went in for the tests, and the optometrist reckons I have a very, very slight short sightedness. It's so slight that he reckons any prescription he could write me for it would get laughed at wherever I tried to get it made up. It's good to know that it's there.

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January 03, 2003

Analyse This

(yawn) Evening all! It's been a bit of a long day for the ol' Bob F. today. As I had a lot of analysis work to do, I decided to have a work-from-home day today. I needed to go over some large lists of assets and figure out how many were due to be replaced under my company's contract with our client. It took bloody hours, I tell you. I started in at eight thirty, got my e-mails and routine items out of the way, then got stuck into the first of the big lists. It was actually fourteen separate lists of assets that needed checking, and I couldn't put them into one big one as they were all organised slightly differently, and the people who sent them through wanted them back arranged as they were when they were given to me. In between some other issues that cropped up and an hour for lunch, I wound up finishing at seven PM - and even then, I hadn't done everything I'd wanted to. Still, at least what was left over was comparatively small; barring any incidents, I should be able to knock the remainder over on Monday.

We're still on track for dinner and The Two Towers tomorrow. Mandi asked whether she could come along to the movie, but after we said yes, remembered she had something that might get in the way. We'll see what happens tomorrow night.

Nick was hoping to start off his funky Hot Seat GM idea this weekend. Unfortunately, with the abovementioned plans, I couldn't make it along, although I have the feeling it's still a go-er for everyone else he invited anyway. Best of luck to yez all, but why you bother even trying to make it fun without moi is incomprehensible. ;-D

Anyway, I have a nice tomato soup cooling on the table, so I'd better be off. Catch you all soon!

December 23, 2002

A Pressie from Aston Martin and Q

Evening one and all! Two sleeps to Christmas! Are you counting down the days too? We've got almost all our Christmas stuff - cards, pressies and decorations - done; I think we just have one more pressie to buy tomorrow and we'll be all done! (Thank God!)

Die Another Day was fun. The attempted use of camera-rushes and Woo-esque slow-mo largely detracted from the film, and the tech sometimes stretched the suspension of disbelief, but Brosnan was in form, Berry was having a ball and John Cleese was perfect as the new Q. Oh, and the final few minutes showed us something we thought we'd never see... What really surprised me though, was that Madonna's cameo performance was better than her theme song.

Nothing much to report this evening. Response to the Spirit of Christmas v-party on Christmas Eve has been low, but I was expecting that - after all, I only posted the notice yesterday, and I don't think there are many on the list who actually own Neverwinter Nights (Philistines). Still, I'll be fiddling with the network tonight, as an experiment and a learning experience. Please, though, I'd still love to read your e-mail/vote if you plan to drop in. Once again, the Spirit of Christmas hakpak can be found here. The primary pak is a little over 12 megabytes in size, and the supplementary one is closer to 1.2 megabytes. I'd love to see you there!

Oh yeah, by the way: For all you cats out there waiting for the PC version of Halo, GameSpot have an update from Gearbox, who are working on the port.

December 21, 2002

Requiescat in Pace, Alexander Farquhar

Dad called me at seven AM. My Grandad - his Dad - died a few hours earlier. Grandad had been admitted to hospital with chest pains, and while Heather (my aunt and Dad's sister) went home to get some things for him, he suffered a massive heart attack.

It's sad news, and it probably would've affected me more if I were still living in the UK. The last time I actually saw Grandad was in 1995, when Mum, Dad, Trish and I went back for a Christmas, "high school's over" holiday. I've spoken to him on the phone occasionally, but over the past several years, he became a little crotchety and hypochondriac, pestering Grandma and Heather and being generally trying.

Still, I have fond memories of Grandad. I'll miss him - and I hope Dad's coping okay.

December 20, 2002

Sayonara, Soup Plus

Evening Ye Merry Ladles and Mentalmen! Don't you love how we Aussies adopt the European Christmas iconography (snow, etc.) during the hottest part of the year? I find it doubly ironic as Bethlehem, the pace where it's all reputed to have started some two thousand years ago, is bloody hot this time of year as well! We have had some hot weather lately; thankfully, it's not been so warm that we haven't had some nice cool evenings - like this one! Vickie's home with me this evening - she's not feeling too crash-hot at the moment, so she's taken a sick-evening.

Have any of you cats and kitties taken a gander at the IMAGinewS web site lately? 95 posts! Ninety-bloody-five posts! That's over double our previous record (September this year). It's very heartening to see this group being used for the sort of general chat that I was hoping it would. As this post will bring the total to 96, I think we'll easily crack 100 by New Year. What do you reckon?

The Photos section is finally getting some use (I'd quite forgotten it was there); Vickie posted a photo of me at work a couple of days ago (I'll have to take a camera to her place one night and get even), and I decided the photos section would be an even more appropriate place for Peg's HeroMachine portrait of Trent. The section is open for members, and there's 30 megabytes of photo space for people to upload pictures of themselves, or themselves with other members of the group.

Continue reading "Sayonara, Soup Plus" »

December 05, 2002

Feeling the Heat

Evening, folks. If, like Vickie and I, you're in the Sydney area, you have our hopes that you're not in an at-risk fire area; if you are, our best wishes. At the moment, we know that Gav and family, and Dan, Lesley and their littlies, are close to a big blaze that jumped Berowra Creek this afternoon; we also strongly suspect that Notlih and his family may be at risk, as Galston Road has been closed. All our hopes to you. We'd also like to send a special wish to Baz, who's a volunteer firefighter; I think he'll have been called in by now. Don't eat too much smoke out there, bro.

There's a fire burning in Wahroonga, not far from us, but we had ones there last year, and they didn't climb the valley to get to us. There was also another fire in Thornleigh a day or two ago, but it appears to have either burned itself out or been extinguished.

Continue reading "Feeling the Heat" »

November 30, 2002

No Idle Hands Here

Hello there! Looks like November is going to be a rant-free month; I couldn't think of anything to harp on about.

It's been a fairly busy week, especially for Vickie. She's been going mad about the house; last Sunday, we bought some curtain fabric, and on Monday, while I was at work, Vickie did the big bedroom swap, clothes, furniture, beds and all. Our bedroom is now the previous spare room, and the spare is now our old bedroom. The new one is a little larger and quite a bit brighter of a morning.

Between Tuesday and Thursday, Vickie did quite a bit of tidying. She's put hooks up in our hallway cupboard, so we can hang up brooms, vacuum cleaner hoses, backpacks and the like. She's re-curtained our new room and the computer room. She's re-organised the computer room cupboard, so that everything is neatly sorted away. (She's even fixed up the loo roll holder in the bathroom!)

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November 22, 2002

Making the Bed (in the Garden)

As the French national TV host once said, "Evening, Gaul!" Pretty busy week, especially Wednesday. Three meetings in the city; two client meetings and one with a project planner for a major client relocation. You'd think I was becoming important or something...

Steve arrived on Sunday and put the border around the garden bed. He didn't have any soil himself, but he'd ordered some in for Monday. It arrived in the afternoon, and although Vickie said she'd leave some shovelling for me, I arrived home to find it all in the bed. So, I helped with planting the roses. We also spread sugar cane mulch across the new bed and both of the existing beds at the front of the house. We think that'll protect the beds from the elements and the exhaust fumes from Pennant Hills Road.

The real estate agent called; the inspector who was going to be stopping by on Tuesday suddenly had a very full itinerary, so was it all right if another inspector stopped by on Thursday instead? We said fine; it gave us another couple of days to get the tidying up done. The inspector was mightily impressed, and we presented her with a list of things that need fixing up, including some tiling that's coming away from the kitchen wall and a dry rot problem in the back porch. We'd also like a line put in for an aerial; our set-top job gets shitty reception. Considering we've just spent roughly $750 to a grand on improving the value of the place, we think the landlord will be amenable.

Continue reading "Making the Bed (in the Garden)" »

November 17, 2002

Two Redheads

Morning all! Big tidy-up day today; our real-estate agent is due over tomorrow to perform the mandatory bi-annual inspection. Steve the Handyman is also due to turn up today with a load of soil and assorted garden stuff.

Well, yesterday was good fun. I had my haircut in the morning, and the girls at the hairdresser's down the road insisted on putting some colour through my hair! They decided on red, as they thought it'd match Vickie's. So I came out of there with a nice shade of mahogany, which surprised both Vickie and Notlih! Vickie actually thinks a cobalt blue would suit me better. I tell you what, though; having a bit of colour in my hair was fun! It washed out in the shower, though (which I had before going to bed last night).

Continue reading "Two Redheads" »

November 09, 2002

Pre-Inspection Jitters

Hi everyone! It's been a sweltering past few days, as anyone else in the Sydney area would know. You know that saying, "it's not the heat that kills you, it's the humidity"? Bullshit. We've been making a few attempts to spruce this place up, as we reckoned it's about time for another inspection from the real estate. Also, we have Steve the handyman dropping over sometime soon to put some soil down for us in the bed on the slope by the driveway; we want to try and breathe some life back into it. We were pulling up the lilies in that bed on Thursday, and once that was done, we started seeing to the dying honeysuckle that runs along our fence. Our next-door neighbour saw us trying to get into it with a couple of secateurs, asked us to wait, and brought his brushcutter around! (He runs his own garden-trimming business.) Needless to say, he made short work of the honeysuckle, even stamping it all down into the garden waste bin with his garden boots (I had sandals on at the time, so I wasn't game to try). We're very thankful to him.

It's been a good week at work, what with having two new people in our area; I'm training up one to handle the lower end of my workload, while the other (the aforementioned John Tuggey) is getting stuck into the neglected, complex areas of our function; he's actually writing a lot of processes from scratch.

Continue reading "Pre-Inspection Jitters" »

November 06, 2002

Try feeling the pea under this!

Hello and good evening! Dan and Lesley's party - well, actually, it was their daughter Gabrielle's party, but she's not the greatest conversationalist yet (being one year old) - was good fun. We met a whole bunch of their rellies and friends, including John from D&D's wife and kids. John's got out of real estate and into software sales, and he looks happier and healthier for it.

I nipped home from work early today, although it still took me about two hours to get home; I had a meeting in the city, so I went up the North Shore line planning to get a connection at Hornsby - and I had to wait twenty-two minutes for it. Why did I leave early? Oh yeah: Vickie ordered us a new bed, and it's huge. It's a queen size, like our old one, but the base and mattress are so thick that the upper surface is nearly three feet off the floor! Vickie's going to need a step up! We're thinking of swapping bedrooms with the larger guest room this weekend, so that'll keep us busy.

This means we have an old bed ensemble that we want to get rid of. The base is still good, and although the mattress is giving a bit, it's still sleepable. If any of you cats can come in and take them away, they're yours.

Continue reading "Try feeling the pea under this!" »

October 29, 2002

Slamming the Debate

Hi everyone! Sega Soccer Slam finally came in yesterday, and by crikey, it's fun! It really is - it's three-on-three (not counting the goalies, but then again, who does) football with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. I don't know whether it can be played multiplayer, but if so, I think it'll make a great party-game.

I've been doing some fiddling with the Black Talon site, mainly turning character sheets and backgrounds into write-ups. I still have to do that report for Saturday's session. I'm not sure when the next session is going to be; as getting everyone together over the next few months is going to be tricky, my players suggested having sub-sessions for the two fireteams. It's a good idea, but I'm looking forward to doing some writing for Honour and the Regiment, a module I'd like to run at Macquariecon in December. I need to have a blurb in soonish, so I need to decide which to do - I'd prefer to do one or the other rather than try and do both.

Continue reading "Slamming the Debate" »

October 18, 2002

I know what I want for Christmas.

Check him out.

Just got in after a couple of hours in the city with some work friends. I got dragged off to the Slip Inn by Mary, along with Craig, Kylie and Anthony; we met up with a few others along the way. It was nice to do a bit of socialising, although I did my usual social gathering thing - shut up, stood back and listened. I seem to be pretty good at that. Still, the conversation was by and large about cars and people I don't know, both of which lose me fairly quickly.

It was interesting to go back there; I used to go semi-regularly back between early 1998 and early 2000, when I was still working for Advantra. I don't really think it was my scene then, before I even started drinking socially, and now that I do - well, it's still not my scene really. Too loud, too crowded and, to take a page from Notlih, too Square John. The main redeeming feature was the free alcohol. Between 6PM and 8PM Fridays, the Inn has a list of six beverages which are absolutely free. On the list this evening was Heineken; my favourite beer. Guess how many I had?

Two.

Continue reading "I know what I want for Christmas." »

May 01, 2002

Dream Pod 9 Stuff

Evening all, and a happy May Day to you! I don't believe I know any Maypole dancers, but if you happen to be one, I hope you didn't get yourself tied up in all that ribbon today! Nothing much new to report today, except that I'm working on a review of SimGolf for the site. Cameron was wondering why I bought it (he didn't seem impressed), and I hope to be able to explain why it's such a fun game.

Continue reading "Dream Pod 9 Stuff" »

January 22, 2001

Taking Out the Trash

Good evening! Only one more day of work, and then I'm on leave for two weeks! Of course, Friday's going to be busy with cleaning and tidying, and then Saturday we have to be up early; Jillian's plane arrives at around half past seven, Saturday morning.

Our rubbish-shipping day was a heavy one. We made two runs to the tip, the first with all the cardboard boxes in the shed, the mattress and Vickie's old 17" monitor (the one that mysteriously bit the bullet last year), and the second with the garden waste (quite a lot of it, after Vickie went at the lilies and the bougainvillea out the back during the weekend before) and the bed base. The ute from Kennards was great.

We were both tired afterward, and we still had Dan's Champions game that night. Vickie was so exhausted, though, that she decided to stay home and relax. Unfortunately, it was the night when everyone else actually turned up! It was a good game, with the demented mind of our GM, Dan, coming up with a cunning - or should I say, cudding - adversary: a herd of carnivorous cows! The puns were flying thick and fast that night, I tell you.

Continue reading "Taking Out the Trash" »

January 04, 2001

Good with the Bad

Evening everyone! It's been one of those days, it really has, when something good happens, but is soon followed up by something bad, or vice versa. It's odd, the way karma like that can balance in the one day.

The bad thing happened first. Vickie and I were planning to hook up with Boots at Hoyts Chatswood this evening so we could catch a 7.30 session of Return of the King. I get to work this morning (first day back after Christmas leave) and discover, lurking in my inbox, a meeting invitation.

For this evening.

From five until six.

Now, with Boots and RotK to look forward to this evening, I was so very tempted to say "Screw you guys and your short notice, I have prior plans." However, this was a client strategy meeting, on a matter that required a presence from my department, and as my manager was in Coffs Harbour this morning, on her way back from a well-deserved holiday in Queensland, I was the only person in my department with enough background and knowledge to fit the bill.

So, I accepted the meeting invitation, accepted that there was no way I'd be able to get home, get changed, have dinner with Vickie and then dash the both of us down to Chatswood to catch the showing (the next session at 8.30 would have finished just too late for me, who needs to be up at ten past six tomorrow to sort myself out for work), and called Vickie and then Boots to let them know what had happened. I'm not sure, but I think Boots is still going this evening.

The good thing is that the auction of my Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green stuff finished earlier today - and I made what I was hoping to make! Which is great, frankly, as this'll actually give me some readies for the trip to Cairns on Thursday (bloody Christmas, bah humbug). Thanks to the winner, and comiserations to our Rog, who had a bid in.

Anyway, I'm off to do some ironing. Gotta have pressed clothes for the trip, you know.