10.31.2010 Halloween 2010


Once again, we joined the throngs of Halloween costumers in the Gaslamp, with our friends Mike and Jocelyn. This year our theme was vampires. Tamara had a great vampiress costume. I went as Dracula from the most movie, though almost everyone thought I was Ozzy Osbourne, Prince of Darkness, so I played along and did my best vocal impression. A few people were very confused, thinking I was either Mr. Hyde (with Mike being Dr. Jecyll), or Willy Wonka. It was a lot of fun.


General | Main Blog

10.16.2010 Novel 2nd draft

I recently completed the first draft of my novel. Yay! I am very relieved to have the bulk of the work behind me, All of it has been run through my weekly writers group so has been polished and improved at least once.

I am now working through the 2nd draft, which I estimate to take about a year. As I worked through the first draft, I purposely didn’t make major edits, not wanting to be distracted. Instead I made copious notes, which are coming in handy now. Some scenes need totally rewriting, some just a tweak or two and most scenes require a moderate amount of editing, reworking and polishing. I’m finding it slow at the moment, since I am in the first couple of chapters and obviously my writing back then wasn’t as polished and entertaining as the latter half of the book. Editing will speed up as I go along.

I’m excited because the 2nd draft is going to be a lot better than the first, with more rounded characters and improved storyline and pacing.

General, Writing | Main Blog

09.01.2010 Holiday in England

We had a great and relaxing holiday back in dear old Blighty. We spent a week in Cornwall with my sister, my nephew Bradley and my Mum. Of course we ate plenty of fine British food like Cornish Pasties, Proper fish and chips, cream teas… yum. See the Cornwall Photos.

Then I wanted to show Tamara two of England’s finest castles, so we went to Royal Windsor castle and Warwick Castle. See the castle photos.

General, Travel | Main Blog

07.17.2010 Emergency Preparedness Kits

Even if you find it hard to accept that there might be a social or economic collapse in our future, it makes sense to prepare your family for any kind of emergency, be it a flood, earthquake, wildfire. The government, red cross and many other organizations are actively encouraging that we all create emergency survival kits.

Using a combination of resources, I created an ideal list for the contents of such kits.

General, Survivalism | Main Blog

06.06.2010 Bad drivers again

As you know, I abhor bad driving, and selfishness on the road even more so. I have two rants today:

1. Turning right on a red should be outlawed. It might have worked when most drivers respected the right of way of others, but now it is just plain dangerous. I can’t count the number of times cars have pulled out on me when I had the green, forcing me to brake. Can no one judge the speed and distance of an oncoming vehicle, or do people just not care? It seems a case of “I can’t be bothered to wait at this red, so I’m going to pull out and pretend I have the right of way. To hell with you if you have to take evasive measures to avoid hitting me.” And if I dare to honk or otherwise signal these rude individuals they seem to genuinely think that I am in the wrong. Just the other day I was on a 50mph stretch of road when a woman pulled out on a red when I was right on top of her. She even looked at my car before doing so. If I had not swerved into the left lane I would have smashed into the back of her. Good job no one was in that other lane! Sheesh.

2. Why do people speed around parking lots and then honk at me when I have the audacity to be reversing out of my space long before I saw them whip round the corner like an Indycar? I confess it is debatable who has the right of way, the reversee or the person driving along, but it is only common sense and defensive driving to know that someone reversing has very limited maneuverability and vision. Slow down people and realize that person reversing may not see you speeding along, particularly if edging out of a space between two enormous trucks.

General, Rants & Opinions | Main Blog

01.30.2010 Disaster Skills #1: Firearm safety

Some colleagues and I have been reading up on disaster preparedness. Modern day society is a very complex and fragile system that could collapse at any time. Someone once said that man is only 3 meals from barbarism, and it only takes the loss of power, an epidemic, or food and water shortages to cause a partial or complete breakdown in so-called civilized society. As more of our resources get scarcer and natural disasters get more prevalent, which some believe will happen as climate change accelerates, the possibilities of a breakdown of society increase. The media often grapples with this issue, usually in a sensationalist way, but if you wade through the hype you can find some informative TV shows on disaster preparedness.

OK, so this all sounds very grim and depressing. Actually I have a lot of faith in humanity over the long term, I really do, but I think that we will face some severe challenges as a species before we ascend to the next level, hopefully one in which we bring our societies back more in line with the needs of nature and the planet. We can’t rape its resources forever. Like insurance policies, I believe it is only prudent for each of us to recognize the possibility of a social disaster and prepare for it. What have you got to lose?

So, this year, we all decided that each month we were going to engage in learning a skill that might help us in dire times, and just might broaden our minds and allow us to have fun too. :)

Working on the basis that the USA is a gun-mad culture and that given a social breakdown or lack of food and water or other resources, the crazies with the guns are going to seize control, or at least wreak havoc; it made sense to us to learn basic firearm safety and proficiency. Now I’m not a proponent of guns at all. I would be totally happy if they didn’t exist in modern society. I would love not to have to think that my future safety, or that of those I love, depends on understanding firearms. But that is a little naive in my view. The USA has guns and there are a lot of people, good and bad, that own them.

So, we recently went to a local gun range and received excellent training in the safe handling, loading, disarming and firing of handguns. We fire various types of automatics, from 9mm to .45’s. It was an education and a skill set that I now have, but hope never to have to use. At the risk of destroying all the disclaimers in this article, I must admit we had a lot of fun. :)

General | Main Blog

01.24.2010 Replica 1 computer

It’s been a long time since I actually built a computer by soldering the components to the board, so I thought I’d have a go at a replica of the 1970’s Apple I, called the Replica 1. It’s now up and running and I look forward to some nostalgic 6502 programming. Man, I haven’t done that for 20+ years. Here’s the account of my construction and some photos, or you can just see the photos on Flickr.

Computers | Main Blog

01.03.2010 Avatar: Do NOT consider this movie on DVD!

Yesterday, I finally got around to seeing the Avatar movie in the theatre, in 3D. I expect most people have seen it by now, but if you have not, do not under any circumstances consider waiting until it comes out on DVD!

Why? Two major reasons. The first, is that the epic visuals and vivid colours are made for the movie theatre and you will never experience the same level of absorption into the world of Pandora on even the most expensive 65″ LCD TV. The second, and more important reason, is the 3D experience. Forget everything you think you know about gimicky, and unrealistic 3D films that are typically shown at theme parks. This is a genuine, natural 3D that quickly makes you forget that you are watching a movie and that you are not right there in the world. On a DVD you will never appreciate how much of the movie you are missing without seeing the flora, trees, mountains, wildlife and aerial flying scenes in 3D. I firmly believe that if you watch this movie even in Blue-Ray, you will miss as much as 60% of the experience. Don’t pass up the awe you will have of this movie in its intended, 3D theatre format. Seriously!

I am thrilled that James Cameron is taking the lead in the future of entertainment with his declaration that all his future movies will be 3D. I am sure other directors and studios will follow, and all movies will be in 3D less than 5 years from now.

Coming out of the movie, my first reaction was that the world of Pandora and its scenery and creatures would make an amazing Online Roleplaying Game. The fact that the Na’vi (indigenous humanoids in the movie) were blue-skinned just made me think of dark-elves in EverQuest. I would not be surprised if the game rights had already been sold. Sign me up for the beta!

My later thoughts were that the technology used in the movie to implant the mind and senses of a human into the alien Na’vi, is sure to be the future of entertainment and gaming 20-30 years from now. How amazing would it be to “log on” to a game, and to find yourself in the body of your character with every sense telling you that your alien body is your own and the experience is unrecognizable from real life? This theme was explored earlier this year in the “Surrogates” movie, and I am sure once science finds a way to interface computers directly with every part of the conscious mind, this form of gaming/entertainment will at last become reality.

“May you live in interesting times,” a Chinese philosopher once said. I think we do.

General | Main Blog

09.20.2009 New kittens

Our cat population has expanded to 6 now, with our latest additions: Bella, a seal-point Siamese, aged 6 months, and Lilith a torty, aged 4 months. They are so cute, wrestling and running around all day until they finally collapse and sleep. They sure can eat too!

Photos of all our cats

General | Main Blog

07.03.2009 Kids are status symbols now?

Something has been bugging me for many years now - those little stickers on the rear-windows of cars, you know the ones depicting a mummy, a daddy, ‘n’ kids of different sizes, maybe even a dog or two. They come in a variety of flavours and styles, but the message is the same: here is my family.

Why? Why do we care about the size and makeup of your family? The only conclusion I can draw is that it is yet another declaration of your so-called superiority. I imagine it goes like this: My family is bigger than yours. Look, I have 4 kids, you only have 2 on your window, ergo I am better than you. Wow, look at that car - he has 6 kids, he must be so virile and powerful. I don’t get it - since when did our kids become status symbols?

I don’t see any benefits of the family stickers, but I do see a negative. Why would you want to advertise that you have kids at all? In this creepy day and age, do you really want the pervert driving behind you to think “ooh look he has three young girls/boys - I’ll follow him to see where he goes”

Rants & Opinions | Main Blog

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