Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sick Child

It's the fearful, terrible side of parenthood. It's hurtful, and horrible, and intense beyond words.

Genghis is sick.

There's all kinds of colds and infections sweeping through this part of the world right now. Everyone I come across is coughing and sniffling. All three kids are down. I'm on my way back up, though there's a lingering sinus infection giving me some grief.

But little Genghis... with his overactive immune system, his tendency to asthma; this stuff hits him hard. It has done so since he was just a baby. I remember a horrible, high-speed drive at four o'clock one morning, so I could pick up some prednisolone from the hospital at Natalie's order so that six month old Genghis could get some relief from croop -- that hideous, barking, knife-painful cough.

Sick adults are part of life. But sick children are unbearable, at least for me.

This time round, Genghis is running a fever - night and day, which is bad, because these things spike at night, and he's already hot. His face is pale, except for the bright pink-red spots on his cheeks. His eyes are dull. He's coherent, and he's not terribly unhappy, but when he coughs... oh, shit.

And he coughs in bouts all night long.

It sounds like croop. Nat says that it's not technically croop, since it's also associated with buckets of mucous, whereas croop is a dry cough. But it sounds like croop, and it hurts him the same way: that sharp, searing, cutting pain in the throat that makes you think you've swallowed a knife. But because of all the mucous and phlegm, he can't stop. He coughs, and coughs, and gags, and coughs some more, and we check the clock and figure out which medication he can have now, and when he had his last dose, and he coughs some more, and the sound of it makes my skin crawl.

I hate not being able to help. But there's fuck-all I can do.

No, that's not true. He wasn't eating, so I figured out a way to make Oysters Kilpatrick without a grill (since I took the oven into Launceston this morning for repairs and an overhaul.) He ate five of them, which is pretty good going. I've also figured out how to make something resembling a lemon tart using the stove-top and the microwave oven... the filling tastes damned good, but the crust is -- well, it's commercial shortcrust that's been microwaved, isn't it? Best I can do, under the circumstances. Anyway, it should be all right with a little whipped cream, following on from the steamed prawn dumplings and the pan-fried pork dumplings.

I'm not a doctor. But I bet I can get him to eat, at least a little.

He's in the bath right now - a big, hot, steaming bath, under the heater-lights. He hasn't coughed in half an hour or more. The paracetamol is doubtless helping, but eventually he'll h ave to get out of that tub.

I hope he sleeps a little better tonight. I hope the fever doesn't do what fevers do and climb higher still. I hope his throat eases a little.

I really hate this.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Is It Too Early For Christmas Crap?

To which the only sane and civilised reply must be: yes. It is too early. It is ALWAYS too early.

Unfortunately, girls of six years old (going on seven!) are neither sane, nor civilised. Today, Natalie and I received this... list of demands. For Santa.

I like to think the image will expand if you click on it. But what would I know? Blogger is... blogger.

I added translations, by the way. Just so you'd understand the full depth of the Mau-Mau's convictions regarding her role in "Chissmiss".

...a fucking hovercraft? REALLY?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Some Things Aren't Meant For The Toaster

I have a cold. It's tailing off, but the snot lives on. And believe me: it lives!  It's winter. The dry days are really dry. We also run a wood stove for heating, as well as a reverse-cycle AC unit, or 'heat pump', as they're locally known. That makes for really, really dry air at night, and if you happen to have a dose of snot, as I do, then you wake up wondering how your kids got so much green play-doh, and why they shoved it up your nose during the night.

I woke up this morning at 0600. Generally I try not to do that. My usual routine is 0700, and a dose of stationary bike. At 0600 it was still black outside, and Natalie was asleep. Sleep is important to her. She complains about it a lot. I figured I'd better let her sleep, so the stationary bike was out of the question.

I came downstairs, and amused myself leaving snarky comments on peoples facebook statuses. (See how modern I am? See my withittitude?) A while later, I heard the Mau-Mau on the move, so I checked her room.

The Mau-Mau also has snot. She had climbed out of bed, and was dutifully collecting the night's rich harvest of mucous-encrusted tissues from her bedroom floor, loading them into a plastic bag for deposit in the bin. Very good of her. I offered her some breakfast, but she didn't want anything except a chance to sit on the couch, in the dark, and watch the dawn. I brought her quilt down so she'd be warm.

Next to move was Genghis. He toodled into the kitchen, and I offered him breakfast. Fried egg in an onion-ring. He liked the idea, and went looking for something to toast. Unfortunately, he missed seeing the entire loaf of bread in the pantry, and decided to ask instead if he could toast a rice cake.

I thought about it. And why not? What was the worst that could happen? I do culinary "what-if" games all the time, and sometimes they turn out to be completely delicious. (Example: the day I looked at a big, thick onion ring, and thought my, doesn't that look like an egg-ring! I wonder what would happen if I tried to fry an egg in it?)

My curiosity was piqued. I agreed to the experiment. Genghis loaded the toaster, and wandered off to the toilet.

Approximately five seconds later, I smelled smoke. Turning away from the egg, frying nicely in its buttery onion confinement, I noticed a reverse niagara of white smoke pouring out of the toaster.

Oh, poop.

I darted across to the electrical switch, but it was too late. With a faint 'poof' noise, the ailing rice-cake gave up, and burst into flames. There in the dark of the very early morning, I watched flames thirty centimetres high (a foot to you eejits who don't do metric; a little under a cubit if you favour that kind of thing) leaping merrily from the toaster slot.

First thought: blow it out... nope.

Second thought: smother it with a teatowel... nope. Teatowel starts to scorch. Damn.

Now I began to wonder: should I yank down the fireblanket? I'll never repack the fucking thing if I do, and frankly, it seems like overkill. And there's no fucking way I'm unlimbering the little extinguisher. Not for a fucking rice cake!

At this point, the toaster takes matters into its own hands. Turns out that in the dark, I'd hit the wrong switch, and the toaster still had power. Having duly toasted that rice-cake into something inappropriately Dante-esque, the toaster decided that, yes, its work was done. With a little mechanical chank!! it popped the rice-cake upwards.

Now, if that had been a piece of bread, it would have been fine. The toaster is calibrated for bread. It's designed for bread. It handles bread, yes. But rice cakes are lighter than bread. And rice cakes that have been burning merrily for thirty seconds or so are very much lighter than bread. Can you see where I'm going with this?

It was quite beautiful, actually. Still flaming, the carbonized core of the rice cake leapt vengefully from the blackened heart of the toaster, arcing through the air with a trail of smoke behind it, to fall with a quiet, flaccid little pfut! into a small puddle on the sink next to the toaster.

The toaster still works. We made crumpets, and then toast for the Mau-mau.

But rice cakes do not go into toasters. Nope.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Told You All That "Airport Security" Was Bullshit!

Something like ten years ago, I pointed out very loudly and clearly that additional "security" on commercial air travel was utter bullshit. The act of 'hijacking' as we understand it became nearly impossible about the time a bunch of passengers on that last September 11th jet got together to fuck up the plans of the men who'd taken the aircraft with a bunch of boxcutters.

In the intervening years, the dickheads in power have made air travel less and less palatable, and "security" more and more invasive. And as far as their efforts go, I can't think of a single fucking success.

On the other side of the scales, though... there was that froot loop who tried to 'jack a flight from Melbourne to Hobart. Remember him? He smuggled wooden stakes onto an Ansett (I think) jet in his jacket, and tried to get into the cockpit. He was convinced that Satan lives under the Walls of Jerusalem (in Tasmania) and he was determined to crash the plane into the Devil's own private retreat.

The outcome? One froot-loop, overpowered and restrained by passengers and stewards.

Then there was the infamous "shoe-bomber", who made an utter fucking hash of setting his bomb-shoes alight in an international flight. Passengers noticed him dicking around with matches and his shoes... and yeah, they jumped the bastard and laid him out.

Now we get this, out of China:

Like so many news articles coming out of China, it's a mess. Were they "hijackers"? Or was it just a "brawl over seats"?

Who knows? Who cares?

Hijacking aircraft is a dead art. The only way it could be carried out with any real chance of success would be by stacking the passenger list with martyrs... or perhaps by arranging to kill 90% of the passengers with gas or poison before launching your attack. Otherwise, the moment you stand up and announce your intention to redirect the aircraft to the destination of your choice, the passengers are quite reasonably going to assume that they have nothing to lose... and they are going to beat five kinds of squishy pink fuck out of you. If you're lucky. (If you're unlucky, the passengers will include someone like me, and when you get to the ground, you'll be screaming to be arrested and taken away to a nice cell in some third world country where the worst that will happen is a little electricity through your gonads)

I wish to hell the inbreds who handle the so-called "security" for air travel would wake up and smell the roses. The bullshit they carry on with costs us all a shitload of money, wastes an enormous amount of time, and pisses off millions of people every week all over the world.

You want airline security? Issue every passenger with a single-use taser as they get aboard the plane. Collect it from them again as they leave.

Problem solved.

Monday, July 2, 2012


I encountered the delightful Amanda Pillar a while back, and she let on that there was a collection coming from Ticonderoga Press which called for mythological beasties in modern fantasy.

I've never really understood my own idea-catching process. It just sort of happens. But - tip for editors here - if you want a story from me, just tell me the theme of your anthology. I don't know why, but my brain latches onto these things and inevitably coughs up the bones of a tale.

I'm not complaining, mind you. I may not understand it, but it's nice to know it works.

Meanwhile: look out for Bloodstones, from Ticonderoga Press. The list of authors is out already, and it looks good. My own contribution is called "The Bull In Winter", and it involves several mythic critters, most notably a Minotaur with a lot on his mind...

Sunday, July 1, 2012


And the Wikipedia entry is here: Grabbers!

Pure. Fucking. Genius.  

It's the central concept that won me over. Irish fishing village, plagued by tentacular monsters, discovers the monsters don't handle booze. It's toxic to them. Obviously, the villagers will have to drink their way to victory.

Damn but that is a beautiful idea. No doubt it will not be showing at my local BlandMart Cineplex in Launceston, but that's okay. I'll lay hands on the DVD as soon as possible, and we will have a late-night showing in the cinema shed, with lots of drinkage for those over the age of drinkabilization.