Wednesday, November 3, 2010


So I promised a short story to an anthology a while back. Deadline end October. And I had a lovely idea.

Except it was a complex idea, with about three different themes resonating through it. And really, it coulda, shoulda probably been a novella. So getting it pared back to short story form was a real bastard of a job. A screaming bastard.

By the weekend, I had it mostly in shape, at least in my head. All I wanted to do was write, and get it done. But we had rain, didn't we? Fuckbuckets of rain.

That wouldn't have been so bad, except Natalie was on call for Saturday, and theoretically, not so much on call for Sunday. Which meant she was cranky on Saturday. And then on Sunday, when it really pissed down, she was even crankier because the kids were trapped indoors, and she is totally not adapted to the way the kids fight with each other.

It's a nightmare, really. When the kids start fighting, I just break 'em up and send 'em off with a few sharp words. But Natalie wants them to negotiate, and speak nicely, and so forth... and so she winds up deep in a four-way brawl, with the kids bitching at each other, and herself getting snakier by the moment.

It's not good.

Normally, when that sort of shit starts to rain down, I excuse myself from the study, go out, and quietly redirect some energies. Maybe take the crankiest kid off to the garden. Maybe haul out some forgotten toys. Maybe grab a couple kids and get the shopping done. I do it quietly, and it wasn't until the weekend that I realised: they don't know that I'm doing it.

I realised that because when I STOPPED doing it because I ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY HAD TO WRITE, I put up with most of a day of some of the stupidest, most petty infighting I've listened to in a long time.

It is very, very hard to write anything good with that kind of crap going on just outside your study door. I was up until three in the morning making that thing come together.


Monday was a lot better. We didn't do much, but the sun was out, and I had the story away, and we went into Launceston for the evening and ate at the new Korean Barbecue place. It's just a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Elizabeth St, but the food (it turns out) is inexpensive, and delicious, and according to a Korean friend of mine, not too far off what it's supposed to be. (Though the Kim Chi wasn't as spicy-hot as I'd hoped. Not that I've ever had Kim Chi before.)

Tuesday's dinner was good, too. Friend of mine dropped off a big, fat, wild-caught trout, and I baked it over the charcoal gorilla, with lashings of ginger, salt, pepper, lemon and curry-leaf. Woo-hoooo! Mind you, my mashed potatoes were too gooey. I had a brainwave, and made 'em with chicken stock and a little cream in place of the usual milk/butter/whatever. They were totally frakking delicious... but too damned runny. I used too much stock by accident. Ick.

And today? Today I got the job of being Natalie's tech guy for telephony. Which meant I had to go into Launceston with her, and with Younger Son and the Mau-Mau, and while Natalie and the Younger Son went to his first double bass lesson (did I mention Younger Son has now aced his first two violin exams? He did. Really well. But he doesn't enjoy the violin, and we promised him that if he took his music seriously, we'd look into finding an instrument he really enjoyed. So now he has a 1/8th size double bass. Which he loves to death.) I had to negotiate through the minefield of phone plans and smartphonery and so forth.

Natalie now owns an i-phone. Well, phine, that's her problem not mine. I'm sure it's a lovely, shiny toy. And it only took me an hour to set up an appropriate plan, and carve a path through the bureaucratic Telstra bullshit. And now that we're pulling out the old ISDN system (which we don't use any more), what with Natalie's shiny new phone plan and shiny new phone, we're actually... umm... ten dollars a month better off. And she now gets four hundred dollars of calls plus 500mb of data on her new phone every month. Locked in for two years, yeah, but since she was running on the $20 per month plan for the last five years on her old phone, I doubt she'll be too upset.

Of course, now that she's home with it, the fun has started. She's been trying to synch it with i-tunes and her i-pod since... ummm about 1800. It's now 2100. She's just done over a year's worth of updates to the i-tunes software, and finally reinstalled all the drivers for the i-phone, and I think she may actually be coming to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Of course, what would I know? I just use a shoddy cheap-ass MP3 player, a little old Nokia flip-phone... and I organise my own digital music. I'm just a primitive, I guess. But then, my computer is still working, isn't it? Whereas Natalie's had all but locked up under the strain of all the updates. I had to give it the old three-finger salute, dive into task manager and strip out a couple dozen minor functions and stupidities that were eating into memory, etc.

She will keep using Vista, though.


  1. VISTA For FRAK SAKE, WHY? Does she have a burning desire to play Halo 2 since that was only put out on that OS for PCs to make people buy it. Even Bill Gates admitted Vista sucked arse.

    Gnerrrghhh! that so should be the title of the short story for the anthology.

  2. I have a trak phone and no IPod and old not flat tv screens and am a tech avoider. Maybe it's cause i worked online for so long.
    Me, I don't have fighting children but a pup I'm teaching not to bark at squirrels and neighbors and distinguish at "that's something to bark at and that's not". It IS possible. have taught all my dogs to do so but it takes time and patience. Meanwhile she jumps on people...who yell and say "get DOWN." She does NOT however jump on me because I acknowledge her calmly and then walk on by and that's all she really wants.

    Dogs, kids, they're much alike, methinks. She just puked up something she thought looked yummy as a snack out in the yard. Runny, yellow, slimy stuff. Nice...

    good job getting your writing done...Me, I'm just lazy...

  3. You have my sympathy regards the dog. I had to resort to methods I dislike in order to teach my similar-breed mutt to stop jumping on the 3-year-old Mau-Mau.

    I could not teach her not to squeal and do three-year-old things when he jumped. That wasn't an option. I couldn't chain him up every time she wanted to leave the house. I could, and did, teach him that if I was around, jumping on her was not going to end well, so he stopped... whenever I was in the vicinity. And when I wasn't?

    Yep. He jumped on her again.

    Eventually, I bought a shock collar with a radio control unit. I set it up, and waited at an upstairs window. Every time the dog approached the Mau-Mau with jumping in mind, he got zapped.

    Took him less than an afternoon to get out of that habit. Smart dog. Too damned smart.

    Now... if only there was a shock collar for kids and wives.

  4. e'ffin Vista man! I've got it too and it's forever a thorn in my husband's side. What a piece of crap.

  5. how can she buy an iphone and still want to use vista? surel;y better to switch to windows 7?

    Oh well you living in Tassie an all, might explain it.......

  6. Chaz... I believe I've managed to convince her, purely by dint of telling her for the last two years: "No, I will not try to understand, improve, or repair your software as long as you insist on running Vista. I am using my brain for more valuable things than learning how to use that gigantic pile of auk droppings."

    However, since I've actually managed to move her on this, now I have to figure out whether it's possible to migrate from Vista to W7 without having to reinstall every frakkin' piece of weird folk-music software she ever installed...