What’s Been Happening? Part II Sunday, May 1 2011 

Since the events of last post, it’s been relatively clear sailing.

Old friend Adam R rather nicely invited me to see Sir Terry Pratchett speak at the Sydney Opera House, and a good time was had by all and sundry. I’ve been meaning to catch Pratchett ever since I was wee lad in Canberra, and was glad to get the chance before his Alzheimer’s exacts too great a toll.

I’ve had a short story published in Issue 19 of The Unspeakable Oath, which you can pick up in PDF, or in PDF and in print. Look for Dying Sunlight at the back of the magazine. To my knowledge, it’s the only Call of Cthulhu-related magazine currently in print, so if you’re you’re a fan of the game, please give it a look.

(No word on the fate of God Wills It Thus, however. I’m not holding out too much hope, but stranger things have happened…)

I’m also bandying about an idea for Chaosium’s 2011 Halloween Adventure Contest. Hopefully, I can get something written and playtested before the July deadline. (I also have an idea-and-a-bit for one or more MULA Monographs, but they’ll be well down the track: I need to establish a regular gaming group first.)

In other gaming related news, I attended Eyecon 2011 on Easter/ANZAC Day weekend, in and around long train commutes and the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Martin Place. Not much sleep was to be had, but the games more than made up for it. Aside from my usual staple of D&D4e Living Forgotten Realms modules, I also played the vaguely OD&D-inspired Gencon 1976 and got my first taste of GUMSHOE-powered Mutant City Blues with Law & Order: Heightened Crimes Unit.

(Katana Geldar gives a good summary of the con over at Level 1 GM, incidentally. I played Law & Order and a D&D4e game or two with her, and yes, that is my shiny pate at the bottom left of her con photo. My male-pattern baldness is famous now.)

Starting from June, I’ll be helping run Living Forgotten Realms games at Blacktown Games Day. They’re running a little short of GMs at the moment, and well, it suddenly struck me that it’s been nearly six friggin’ years since the events of the Three Years of Sundays (here and here) burnt me out.

I need to hop back on that particular horse. And besides, I’d like to get a fortnightly group going. Playtest some stuff. Maybe even run an epic Warhammer FRP 2e campaign.

And that’s about it, so far. We still need to get the rest of our stuff from Young and Cowra, and now that there’s actually work available, I need to get myself a job. Mim needs to recover from her ailments. Charmaine needs to adjust to the madhouse she’s found herself in. And the cats need to settle into their new home.

I don’t know how much time I’ll have to blog in the near future, but you can always keep track of me via Twitter.

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A Message of Peace Wednesday, Feb 9 2011 

Well, it’s taken me a few months to blog about it, but back in September, I wrote a poem. And it won a prize.

Every year, the Australian Chapter of the World Peace Bell Association, headquartered in Cowra (where Australia’s Peace Bell stands), holds a poetry competition. This year’s theme was “A Message of Peace.” This was my entry:

Silence reigns, our arms laid down, and flames now cooled to ashes,
No frenzied screams, nor violent words, nor blood to vex the senses.

Borne through desperation to tarry, eye-to-eye,
To plot conciliation and bury wounded pride,
Two men sit and weigh their words,
And watch and wait and ponder—
For neither wish to give their ground,
Nor relinquish any plunder—
Their tongues, concealed, like blunted swords,
Their brows are knots of anger,
But their armies are exhausted,
And their terms now put to paper.

With a flourish, sowed the seeds of battles yet to come,
Divided lands and chattels by means which flattered none,
For though rhetoric named them enemies, they wilfully conspire
To enact a foul betrayal, to kindle smothered fires—
As we watch and wait and wonder at the aftermath of war,
Rebuild our lives and learn to live, bereft of cannon’s roar.

Perhaps, then, comes a time for a betrayal of our own:
To smash the fears of hollow men; to tear their ruses down;
To wound their wiles with whispers; to shamelessly unite
To thwart their plans for bloodshed; to quench their flames of hate;
To raise no hand in anger, nor with heedless words condemn
The innocents of other lands to sate our violent whims;
To stand with pride and honour, and pardon past abuse;
To boldly cleave together to advance the cause of peace.

Hindsight may acquit the men—their aims may turn out faithful,
Their virtue unimpeachable, their tongues be naught but truthful—
But how great the cost, should we be wrong, our hope and trust misplaced,
Our soldiers marching back to war, our lofty ends disgraced?

No! We are better than the hollow men! The burden falls to us
To bear upon our shoulders our just and solemn trust,
For in our darkest hour, our deeds alone affirm
That amity shall rise once more, and peace, undaunted, reign.

For some arcane reason the Australian chapter of the World Peace Bell Association chooses to separate entries from its local area into a separate category (possibly *ahem* due to its close affiliation with the local Council…), which meant I couldn’t qualify for the big, Fairfax-sponsored prize in the Open category. Nonetheless the Poets Union (who judged the competition) had this to say:

Commencing with a well-constructed image of the peace-makers at the negotiating table, the poet lets us know in no uncertain term that, though enemies, these leaders ‘willfully conspire/ to enact a foul betrayal to kindle smothered fires’ of war. He emphasises the possibility of betrayal of the people by the leadership and calls on us all not to blindly hope and trust, because the result will be ‘our soldiers marching back to war’. His final triumphant stanza uses all the power and muscle of rhyme and rhythm for its persuasive strength to bring the poem to its superb conclusion.

And I won first prize in the local category. Better yet, though, were the expressions of the local National Party dignitaries as they squirmed through the obligatory reading…

So! What have you been up to??? Monday, Nov 1 2010 

In answer to the question….

The other day I was asked, Where have you guys been and what have you been up to the last few months??? “Well it has been busy” was my response… The I tried to explain just what we had been up to and it seems that things have been happening on so may levels it has been hard to keep track…

I suppose the main thing is we are no longer living in Cowra… This is a very good thing, let me assure you… It seemed every week we lived there we had another disaster of some kind on our hands.

Multiple car breaks downs requiring the extended use of hire cars sent us broke, Dave was working for Centrelink until his contract expired during the caretaker government period and they could not renew it… He reapplied for a role in the same office doing basically the same job, we are still waiting for an answer… the role was supposed to be filled by mid September at the latest, it is now the beginning of November and still no answer… we have given up waiting now and have decided to look elsewhere for work here in Young… health issues for both Dave and myself, multiple hospital trips, idiot issues, neighbors and real estate agent issues, house heating and cooling issues were the least of our problems… that damn town and house just about trashed us… I can’t believe the power bill for less than a year was over $2500… as the place was literally falling apart it was impossible to cool and way past impossible to heat…

Centrelink screwed us over multiple times as customers as well causing massive flow on effects… this was exacerbated by the fact we could not go into the local office as Dave having worked there meant everyone in the office could not look at our files as it was deemed as a conflict of interest… I am hoping my last call screaming down the phone at them last week finally has it sorted…

I went back to TAFE to finish a Business Admin course… I had decided to wait and see if Dave got his job back or if he would be working locally when we moved, so I had put off transferring until I knew for sure… we are into week 3 of this semester and I have yet to have an answer so tomorrow I am off to transfer to the local TAFE… I think I am more pleased about this than I realised as things were getting hinky at Cowra TAFE anyway… 2 bottom of the barrel teachers got me to the point that I refused to attend their classes and then there was the issue with one of the girls in the class…

We befriended each other early on in the piece and apparently in the first week of the holidays her partner was approached in town and told to watch his back as I was “after” him… YOU MUST BE KIDDING ME… WHAT IS THIS PRIMARY SCHOOL??? Seriously… he and his girlfriend had been having other problems and it all blew up into a huge fight… What I actually said was IF he was hitting her or keeping her there against her will I would take Dave out there and get her… as in pick her up, bring her to town, seek medical/police intervention if needed etc… apparently in someone who was listening in’s mind that translated to I was going to go out and kill this guy, then it went through a Chinese, drunken whispers thing and the poor boyfriend in question took it as gospel that I was after him and it made things worse for them… REALLY PEOPLE… GROW UP AND GET A LIFE!!

We then tried to help a friend of a friend with some legal issues and housing issues, but lack of communication put paid to that… I was also considering getting back into Karaoke etc… but the lack of reliable long term partners and potentially unreliable venue managers was enough for me to put that away and lock the door on it… I really am not going to waste my time again with that sort of thing if I do not have a good feeling about it…

I was working as a volunteer for the local PCYC… lets just leave it as this… As long as certain people high up in the management structure of NSW PCYC remain there, nothing productive will happen and that is such a shame given the potential for good…

Dave and I threw up our hands and walked away in disgust after much conversation and soul searching…

As some of you may know I am Secretary of the Australian World Peace Bell Association… things were pretty busy there for awhile too… We had the annual Peace Day celebrations and I was extremely busy organising that, a big thank you to my good friend Johnny Burrows for coming through at the last minute with an awesome musical number for the event and to my wonderful Dave for putting up with it all…

The poetry competition had some wonderful entries and the guest speaker Professor Stuart Rees of the Sydney Peace foundation was awesome…

I was invited to participate in a forum, 10 big ideas to grow the Central West… What a waste of my day… Duplicate/extra committees/boards to do the same job as the ones already there but incompetent… a waste of resources… Sorry, but it is… A couple of geniuses from the Orange area put forward that we provide public and community transport for the ill to go from all around the central west to Orange as it has this great new medical service instead of getting the services to the people… so if you are terminally ill, elderly, post surgery etc… lets just send you on a bus to your specialists up to 3 hours away… I rather loudly made the case against this, but ended up walking away in disgust… Never again… To all my friends in the various levels of government, good luck, I hope you can do more for these people out here, they desperately need the help… The fact that I was rushed to Cowra hospital and could not even get an ultrasound as they did not have the equipment and the radiology place in town did not have anyone who could use their one was a joke… I mean, yes, my suggestion of reviewing and making changes and having people actually accountable for their jobs/roles might be a bit of a pipe dream, but seriously…

OK, so by now you have probably guessed we have moved to Young… what a wonderful little place this is… so much better than Cowra… We have been out to the movies twice… it is an older cinema called the Southern Cross and our tickets are a whole $9 each… wow, expensive hey…

I can eat out as there are many restaurants here that supply gluten free meals… the IGA supermarket here is simply amazing with the largest range of gluten free products I have ever seen… So all in all we are more than happy.

It is cheaper, nicer and a much happier place to be…

We are living out of town on a farm, we share the farm with the owners, they have the main house and we have the secondary residence… The owners of the property are wonderful people… so kind, helpful and welcoming… These are really good people and I am so happy that when I put it out to the universe that we needed help this was the response I got… Our cats still are not allowed out as I think it is better for them to be indoor, less vet bills that way, but we are in the process of setting up 2 large enclosures for them to roam freely in… 1 is weatherproof and about 10m long x 3m wide and 3 meters high and attached to the house, the other is off the back end of the house and is about 7m x7m and 3m high again, but not weatherproof… I think they will be happy with those, they love the one attached to the house already so that is great news…

The farm also comes complete with animals and orchards… Cherries, Peaches, Olives, Strawberries, Blackberries and eggs (courtesy of the free range chooks) are all abundant.. there is plenty of room for my much longed for vege patch and we have befriended some of the animals here too, Ebony the little dog who likes to come for a visit and see if I have left the cat food down for her to eat (which I actually pick up before I open the door except for about a dozen cat biscuits so she thinks she is getting something special)… the cats are terrified of her… it is so funny as he is half their size… Earl, the cat… comes in and demands inspection daily…( just quietly, Chloe has fallen in love with him and follows him around, sadly he does not even acknowledge her). Cookie, the BIG dog…. Our little Holly sits there every day pining for him as she has fallen in love…

There are also the horses, Gus and Giggles… beautiful animals, I love sitting there watching them run and play in the back paddock and I had forgotten how much fun chooks are… they LOVE the tea leaves I put in with the vege scraps for them… so cool…

oh I forgot the goats… Timmy keeps wanting me to take him out the back to look at them… he is so confused as to what they are… I love watching him nose to nose with a goat, meowing and wondering why they wont meow back… the first time one of them bleated at him he nearly wet himself and ran inside… LOL…

and I forgot the frogs… as we are on tank water here.. you go into the bathroom at night or look at the bathroom window/kitchen window, don’t be surprised if there is a frog or two looking right back at you!… LOL… love it… I am not too sure just how Dave feels about that… I think it is great… our environment here is clean enough that we can support frogs… YAY!!

Dave is writing again, I am reading and blogging again as well as motivated to cook and do housework… these are all minor miracles when you consider just how beyond giving a stuff we both were and how little we felt like being productive a few weeks ago at the old place…

My industrial kitchen is awesome too… 2 stoves, 4 ovens, heaps of bench space and a walk in pantry… YAY, a dream come true… I am already happily cooking up a storm and Dave has made a comeback to the kitchen as well.. WOOT!

Dave and I sat down and had a long talk yesterday. I am off to the TAFE tomorrow to transfer, we are both going to look for work locally and things are really looking up, we pick up the last load of our stuff from the old place this week and all will be well in our world…

We are hoping to see some friends from Sydney down in the next few weeks as we have missed everyone so much but have just not been able to get there because of everything else…

Life is good!

So, What have you been up to????

Delta Green: Targets of Opportunity has Arrived! Thursday, Oct 21 2010 

After more than two years, Delta Green: Targets of Opportunity finally appeared in my mailbox yesterday. It’s been a very long and anxious wait, but nonetheless worth it. More detail when I get a chance to flick through it.

In other news, I’m in the middle of a very protracted house move, and it’ll be a couple of weeks yet before I have a reliable Internet connection. (I’m writing this via Safari on my iPhone; WordPress’ app doesn’t want to play.) Lots of stuff to tell when I can get that up and running.

A Rough Choice Saturday, Aug 21 2010 

It’s the eve of the federal election, and I’m still no closer to deciding who to vote for than I was a month ago.

I have seven choices for the House of Reps: Family First, the Australian Democrats (lurching back for another election, like something out of a George Romero movie), Labor, the whiggish Liberal Democrats (whose candidate, incidentally, is serial killer Ivan Milat‘s sister-in-law), the Greens, the Christian Democrats, and the incumbent Liberal, Alby Schultz.

(And then there’s the 84 candidates for the Senate, arranged in 33 groups…)

The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Vote-a-matic quiz tells me that I should vote for Labor, but I’m still not convinced, so I’m going to go through this handy spreadsheet, issue by issue, to try to decide. If I agree with a party’s standing on a particular policy, they get a +1; if not, they get a -1.

I had hoped to deal with each issue individually here, but it’s a pretty Herculean task. Instead, here are the tallies (parties with candidates for the seat of Hume are in bold):

  1. Socialist Alliance (+35)
  2. Greens (+32)
  3. Secular Party (+19)
  4. Sex Party (+17)
  5. Democrats (+15)
  6. Liberals (+11)
  7. Liberal Democrats (+10)
  8. Labor (+6)
  9. Nationals (+3)
  10. One Nation (-6)
  11. Family First and Christian Democrats (-11)
  12. Democratic Labor Party (-17)

The problem here is that the Greens and Socialist Alliance have policies on everything—perhaps a symptom of endless caucusing—which skews the results in their favour. If we take this into account, we get the following order. (In effect, I’m giving the parties the benefit of the doubt.)

  1. Sex Party
  2. Secular Party
  3. Socialist Alliance
  4. Greens
  5. Democrats
  6. Liberal Democrats
  7. Liberals
  8. Nationals
  9. Labor
  10. One Nation
  11. Family First
  12. Christian Democrats
  13. Democratic Labor Party

I’m not sure I feel comfortable with the top end of that order—I’m not a huge fan of either Socialist Alliance or the Greens, although the Sex Party has impressed me, despite their moniker—but the bottom end looks about right. With any luck, I’ll have this nutted out by morning.

(Incidentally, if you happen to be voting in the seat of Fowler or in the ACT, please consider voting for Thomas Dang or Senate candidate Matthew Watts, respectively. They’re both old friends and exemplars of integrity and industry. You could do far, far worse than be represented in parliament by these fine, young gentlemen. Good luck, guys!)

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