Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

Had a great Xmas with all the little nieces and nephews. There was that great moment of silence when every kid was off playing with his/her new toys. The eldest nephew on the distaff side got a pair of spring stilts, a fantastic present for an 11-year-old boy. Even if a trip to the hospital seems an inevitable consequence. I don't know why I never got something like that: the materials technology doesn't seem that advanced. I guess it's a testament to the ingenuity of mechanical engineering. Even in that ancient field we can still learn new things.

The weather wasn't too hot; it never reached 30 degrees like the forecasts said. The only thing consistent about Melbourne weather is that the forecasts will be wrong.

Some things to look forward to: 5 job interviews lined up for Feb, and simplified taxes. Since I didn't make any money in Australia this tax year, it will be easy to file my US taxes. See - I can look at the bright side of anything!

Oddly, people work on Christmas Eve here. They take Xmas day and the day after (boxing day) off. Apparently they used to get more time off, but that was before things were Jeffed. (Jeff Kennett pulled a Reagan back in 90's and canceled a bunch of state holidays.) More and and more I am seeing the cracks in my Socialist Paradise - it's more like America than it is like Sweden or Germany. Australians are alternately pleased and annoyed to be compared to America, usually at the same time.

Edit: I almost forgot the best part - I've lost 4 kilos since I got here. And no, I'm not looking to get them back.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Criminal Ineptitude

I received a spam email on my Lulu account offering me the wonderful Christmas deal of 25 reviews of my book for only $15. Wow! What a deal! I mean, paid reviews are worthless, but at least here you get to throw away your money slowly.

Their website contains several amusements. No sample reviews, but the testimonials include broken English, and one fellow reporting how happy he is that he could get reviews he didn't agree with changed.

On their contact page they only list their email address, but they also helpfully provide office hours. And a map. Yes, a mapquest link to their office. Which appears to be a real office building, although their company doesn't seem to occupy it.

Their order form asks you to send the first few chapters of your book, and click a box promising to pay. They won't bill you until you've gotten all your reviews. See? It must be on the level!

And perhaps it is. Perhaps they have assembled a cabal of friends who have agreed to read a few chapters of stuff for fifty cents or so. I assume that they didn't, that they just dash off comments with random names attached, but perhaps the scammers are not only scamming idiot authors but also their putative friends. Only a idiot would buy this service, and only a bigger idiot would agree to read the ravings of idiots for 50 cents a chapter.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trilling experience

I just went for a walk at twilight. The cicadas are so loud it was physically painful. Hasn't this country heard of the miracle known as DDT?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Family Estate

My family does have a spot of land named after it.

The Planck Family Estate

Fortunately, I won't be claiming my inheritance any time soon.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A bit of good news

TOR will be publishing my little SF novel in March 2012. And in hardcover! So now we will have two writers in the house.

Don't ask me how I pulled this off; I haven't a clue. Sara told me to write a story where everything was blowing up on the first page. Apparently she was on the right track. Also, my agent deserves massive credits for doing that agenty magic stuff they do.

Now I can use the advance money to fix the ceiling that tried to eat my baby.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

When ceilings attack

This is what appeared over Sophie's playpen.

(for pics of the damage see Sara's blog)

Fortunately I had picked her up five minutes earlier because she was complaining. Lest you think she was prescient, she is always complaining if no one is picking her up.

This is what comes of living in an environment where water falls out of the sky. Things get water-logged and fall apart. I can't understand why the Socialist Paradise government here doesn't do something about the miserable climate.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The War on Terror

I'm posting this because it's an interesting plot for a D&D game. Really, it has nothing to do with current politics: it is in no way a comment on what is happening right now. Simply an interesting historical incident that could be re-created as a plot of a D&D campaign.

That's all. Really.

The War on Terror