More Blogs to Check Out

Skippy's List:

The author of the one and only Skippy's List (213 Things Skippy is no Longer Allowed to do in the US Army) writes the very good and very funny blog.  Includes an expanded (and expanding) Friends of Skippy section, for yet more Military wierdness.  Some of this is very topical, written by soldiers who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Qosmiq for the people:

Ghislain Barbe is the artist who produced that beautiful manga-esque work in the early Dream Pod 9 books.  This is his doodles page, and he is quite prolific about it.  The side links have introduced me to a whole range of artists.  Also checkout his side project, The Book of Aliens:

Random Acts of Reality:

Tom Reynolds' ground-breaking blog about his life and times in the London Ambulance Service.  Possibly the most famous UK blog.  A genuine rollercoaster ride through the issues facing the service, but London and the wider population as well.

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Writer's Block: Home Alone

What happened the first time you were left home alone as a child?
It was much more normal in the seventies, when I was a kid.  I loved it, it was an awakening for me.  I was scared of everything, but I hardly ever felt lonely.  My mother would happily leave me alone when she went to the shops while my father was at work.  I was hardly ever babysat.

That day, I just played out in the sun all day.  We had a big back garden that looked out across Royal Meadow to the railway line.  I just played and waved at the trains in the distance.  It was a magical time.



"Change means movement.  Movement causes friction." Saul Alinsky, 1909-1972

Tomorrow, I start my new job.  Same place, same people, just different work.  I've been asked to consider applying for the role when it goes permanent next month.  I'm sure I will.

This means a substantial career change.  No longer will an admin job be just a fill in until I get more VFX work.  It will be the mainstay of my working life.  I'm scared.  It's like standing in line for a rollercoaster ride.  I want the ride, but at the same time I'm apprehensive about what it will be like.

It hasn't been a great weekend; in fact, it's been pretty bad.  But that's OK.  It's OK because I have depression, and that means that there will be bad days.  As Ogrek said last night, "That means there doesn't  have to be a good reason for a bad day."

I live with depression, and have done so for more than 25 years.  That is changing, I have made changes to my life that have reduced my SI to a manageable level, and I am starting to find other ways to cope with the feelings.  I am not taking any more drastic solutions; no big leaps.

I'm starting to sleep again, but I have more nightmares than before.  Some of them are truly disturbing, haunting me through the next day.  Friday night I woke up twice.  Both times with my nails digging into my palms.  I don't remember the dream, though.


Playing 'House'

It's five-to-six on Friday afternoon.  Back last Sunday, I felt an od sensation in my head and fell over.  This happened again later on, and then all through Monday.  On Tuesday morning, I'd had enough and headed for the Doctor's.

The second GP surgery I went to (I'll blog about the first one another time) dealt with me very professionally.  They sorted me an appointment ASAP, passed my symptoms to the GP (this has never happened for me before, receptionists never ask or pass messages like this) and let me turn up rather early - because I told them I wanted to make it while I could stand.

The GP was puzzled, she rang the hospital for advice, then sat me back in the waiting room awaiting an ambulance to Weston General Hospital.  The Ambulance (St John) crew were great, even if they were having to put up with playing Big White Taxi to a confused patient.  En route we picked up a RTC patient who had been knocked off her scooter near the hospital.

I spent the rest of the day at the ATC (Assessment and Treatment Centre?) being examined by 'medics', 'orthopods' and surgeons.  I was admitted about 8pm that night.  Thus began 3 days on Uphill ward.

The problem was that I was missing a symptom.  I had:

Pressure at the top of the spine
Chill in the same area
Sudden weakness in my limbs

If you add dizzyness and nausea to this, it becomes simple to diagnose and fairly easy to treat.  It's either inner ear, or low blood-pressure.  My blood-pressure is pretty low anyway, though still safe, and my hearing is a bit screwed-up with hyperacusis.  There was only one problem...I wasn't getting dizzy or nauseous.

Hence, three days of an experience aptly portrayed by the TV series 'House'

More later...too tired at the mo.
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Your name is Dave.  You claim to be a supporter of Liverpool FC.  On Saturday, you walked into the pub you call your local, to watch Liverpool play Sunderland.  But the pub was showing England v Wales Rugby Union.  You told, not asked, but told the barman to change the channel so you could watch the football.  The barman refused.  He told you that there were people, including other regular customers watching the Rugby.

For the next twenty minutes, you hurled abuse and threats at the barman.  You threatened to assault the barman, the throw the TV through the window, to assault other customers.  You insisted that the big TV in the pub was only for watching football.  The barman and the customers disagreed.  But eventually, with the barman telling the other customers that he feared for his life - FOR HIS LIFE - if he kept refusing you, the others acquiesed and went to the pub down the road to watch the second half.
As they left, you threatened to beat them up again.  By this time your mates were there, so you felt safe.  You continued to abuse the barman all this time, even after getting your own way.  Your mates, eventually calmed you down.  Everything you did in that pub is unnacceptable in British society.  But you claim to be British.  You are an ordinary white male.  You drink cider, with a slice.  You sport your LFC hat with something you think of as pride.

You are a violent thug.  Don't imagine for a second that any Liverpool player would feel honoured by your behaviour on Saturday.

After the match, the people you threatened came back.  They chatted with Wales fans they'd met in the other pub.  They congratulated them on Wales' victory.  This is what sports fans do in Britain.  They watch and enjoy sport.  They leave any umburrage on the field, at Twickenham or Anfield.  They respect each other.

But we have one thing to thank you for...

The landlord returned to the pub later on.  He apologised to the other customers for what had happened.  He assured them that it was not acceptable in his pub.

You had a go at him too.  So he told the whole pub, that he would show every Six Nations rugby match live.  Those who didn't like it were free to go somewhere else.

You threw a snit and left.  Thank you for securing us the right to watch good rugby in a good pub.


50 SF/F Books List - Cribbed from PhoenixAndy

Bold the ones you've read
Strike-out the ones you hated
Italicize those you started but never finished
**and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.
(underline those on bookshelf in the nearish future piles)

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
**6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
**12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
**37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute (love the Australian TV version)
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

Recommended Reading

Finally bought Tom Reynolds' Blood, Sweat and Tea. It has become the house bog-book-of-choice for January. I'm pretty sure I read all these posts online, after discovering the blog Random Acts of Reality a while back. Although, as Chazymyr points out, it is good to read the additional comments. Plus, I do prefer print to screen.

Chazymyr and Ogrek's Christmas present to me was the anonymously-penned Book with No Name. Described as Tarantino does The Da Vinci Code, I find it more like a collaboration between Steve Aylett and Robert Rodriguez. It keeps forcing me out of the Quiet Coach of the train, I'm laughing to much. It's an amazing satire, very over the top and very funny.

Particularly, Kyle and Peto, the Monks.