12 October 2015

30 January 2015

title tbc

So apparently, there's a link between depression and binge-watching TV - binge-watching being defined as watching two to six episodes a day. (I'm not sure what more than six a day is defined as. Impressive? Bonkers?)

I miss being functional while depressed. I don't miss being depressed, because that hasn't gone away. it's the being able to go to work, brush my teeth, have conversations (not all at once) that I miss...

I miss earning my own living. I miss being excited about work, fed up with work, tired from work...

26 January 2014

Review: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Have I really not blogged for six months? Gosh. I know I'm slow, sporadic, spotty in my blogging, but that's a long time.

Then again, I moved house in the second week of December, after culling, packing & sorting my belongings, and arranging things at my new (old) home. (old as well as new because I've moved to my late mother's house, where I lived in my teens and early twenties)

I didn't read very much last year, and did even fewer reviews, but am getting back into reading, and recording my responses, now that I'm semi-settled into my new home (still a few boxes to unpack, which the cats think is a Good Thing).

Here are my thoughts about The Interrogaton Ashala Wolf (Tribe #1) by Ambelin Kwaymullina:

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (The Tribe #1)The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

very cleverly written novel, with layer after layer of the puzzle being gradually revealed. I thought it was a bit slow to start with, and thought the world-building and exposition were a bit clumsy, but that might actually have been intentional - it's a first-person narration by the central/titular character, and she's not feeling too well at the start, and the way she is thinking is affected.

and at some points I was thinking "oh no, not that YA romance trope of the central character hating another character but really underneath it all...", but even that was a nifty part of the puzzle.

I've seen this categorised as fantasy, but it's mostly dystopian SF young adult lit. the familiar tropes - young people with abilities, persecuted by an oppressive state - are given a different twist in this story. the state is trying to maintain the Balance, to keep society in harmony with itself and with its environment.

some very interesting echoes of contemporary Australian life - fear of the other, detainees being portrayed as a threat to "normal" people.

View all my reviews

24 July 2013

I don't think that proverb means what you think it means

One common gripe on the interwebz is people who know & appreciate correct spelling, grammar and punctuation complaining about people who either don't know or don't care about correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. What are they doing expressing themselves online if they can't spell?!

Often an assumption is made that people who don't know the difference between your & you're, or their, they're and there, are stupid, incapable of critical thinking, and just plain wrong. I do sometimes feel distress when I see incorrect spelling, sloppy grammar and overly creative punctuation, but I try not to assume that it reflects in any way on the writer's intelligence or common sense - it most likely means that they didn't have a great learning experience in their early education (and there could be any number of reasons for that), and/or they aren't all that interested in language (not everyone is), and/or English is not their first language (my grammar, spelling and punctuation in French are pretty amusing/appalling, I'm sure).

All of that is both something that I've been wanting to say for a while, and a preamble to a gripe of mine: the misuse of sayings and aphorisms.

There are lots of wonderful, sometimes mutually contradictory, aphorisms and sayings in the English language/s (I only know ones in English - if you'd like to let me know ones in other languages, with translation, in the comments - please do!).

He who hesitates is lost. Look before you leap. You can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Many hands make light work. The devil finds work for idle hands. A cat may look at a king. Curiosity killed the cat -

Okay, now let's look at that one. "Curiosity killed the cat" has been around for a while, and we all know what it means, right?

(It's not referring to the exploration vehicle on Mars)

(no cat was harmed in the making of this photoshopped picture)

It means that a cat who is curious will poke its nose into something that will kill it.
Or does it?

The original form is believed to be "Care will kill a cat" - 'care' here in the sense of sorrows and cares, the opposite of carefree.

A line from a Ben Jonson play is "Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care will kill a cat, up-tails all, and a pox on the hangman" (sourced from the Wikipedia page on "Curiosity killed the cat").
Shakespeare used it too - "What, courage man! what though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care." (from Much Ado About Nothing, and also found on Wikipedia, bless its little cotton socks)

As late as 1898, a Dictionary of Phrase and Fable had this entry:
Care killed the Cat.
It is said that "a cat has nine lives," yet care would wear them all out.
(from Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, again via Wikipedia)
Wikipedia helpfully says that it is not known why the phrase changed to give 'curiosity' instead of 'care' as the cause of proverbial cat's death. Doesn't that pique your curiosity? Before your interest reaches its peak, let's take a peek at some other possible meanings...

The original form implies that it was curiosity in the sense of worry about whys and hows that killed the cat, so rather than trying to protect a cat from dying while trying to satisfy its urge to know things, allow your cat to explore and discover, and that will save it. As the rejoinder to the amended proverb suggests: "Curiosity killed the cat; Satisfaction brought it back".

So if your cat is pining with curiosity on one side of a closed door, open the door! The cat will probably wander back and forth, sniff around a bit, and then go back to where it started, satisfied - for the moment.

Nota Bene: this does not apply if the cat is curious about a closed door with HAZCHEM or DANGER: RADIATION warnings on it.

Another change of word-meaning that has led to conceptual misunderstanding is seen in the Biblical line which is translated as "Suffer the little children to come unto me" in the King James Bible. To suffer something meant to permit or allow it, in the English of that time, so that quote means "Allow the little children to come to me". No one is meant to be suffering distress or discomfort in this situation; not the children, not Jesus. Understanding definition and sentence structure makes a big difference.

My least-favourite misused saying is "No gain without pain", usually heard in the context of physical fitness. This makes me howl with rage (inwardly; I'm too polite and conventional to howl outwardly when people say silly things). I won't go into the difference between feeling muscles working or stretching, and feeling overstrain or tearing. Pain is a warning sign of illness or injury, not something to be ignored or an indication of success (unless your aim is creating pain, but that's a different story from achieving fitness).

The original version is "No gains without pains", and these pains are not labour pains or other forms of strong discomfort. Have you heard the word 'painstaking'? You may not have; it's less commonly used than it once was. Words with similar meanings are meticulous, assiduous, sedulous. To be painstaking, to take pains, means to be diligent, careful and thorough in your work. So the original saying means "No gains without being diligent, careful and thorough" - which makes a lot more sense than "No gains without ouchiness".

Obviously the "No gain without pain" version rhymes, is shorter, and is easier to say while leading an aerobics class - but it still means "be diligent, careful and thorough if you want to achieve your aims".

02 March 2013

So much happening, so little blogging...

I called my blog The Best Audience Award because, as well as feeling "not good enough" as a maker (writer, photographer, whatever I might otherwise post) I do actually believe that being an audience, understanding and appreciating (or disliking, or being puzzled by) natural wonders, the peculiarities of societies, and the amazing things that people make, is actually a virtuous thing to do.

The act and process of creation have meaning in themselves, but surely there's much more point to creating art if other people get to see and respond to it. Certainly it can be very valuable to learn another language, write essays, and study various subjects, but what about just taking the time to have a chat, listen to the radio, or read a book?

And sitting quietly and gazing into space is fine too. Restfulness (not just sleep, but being at ease and stopping for a while) is also necessary for our physical and mental health, as well as work, and play, and learning, and creativity, and interacting. I strongly believe this.

Since my last post on this blog in early December, I've:
done lots of baking (in December) for the first time in about six years - might post some pics of the biskits, Ninjabreadmen, and banana chocolate cashew loaf that I made;
my sister was seriously ill and I spent time taking her to a local hospital for intravenous antibiotics twice a day, often waiting for an hour or two, then the IV could take a while, as well as doctors being intrigued by the unusual tropical fungal infection with secondary bacterial infection that she had (in January);
then going op shopping (looking at clothes, books & knick-knacks in thrift/charity shops) with my sister when she was well enough (in February), and observing a Mental Health Connect course, preparatory to being a co-trainer of the course (also Feb, and I want to post about that in more detail); and now it's March.

For many of us, we have been taught to think that only making and doing are good, that appreciating something, whether natural or created (watching telly, listening to the radio, watching snow) is bad. And putting off doing things we need to do is very bad.

So I was very interested to read this blog post about why people procrastinate, by David Cain.

Cain argues that procrastination isn't caused by laziness or apathy, but is a protective strategy unconsciously used by people who are anxious about doing "well enough". See what you think...

05 December 2012

Bookapalooza, and Slow Crime Fiction

I have bought so many books recently, what with booktopia.com.au's Booktoberfest, and ClickFrenzy (which was a promotional event intended to get Australians to buy online from Australian retailers, but as the ClickFrenzy website crased, I don't know how successful it was. I just went to Booktopia again), and then amazon.com e-book specials on CyberMonday...
So manhy new paper books, so many new e-books. And of course the many many paper books I already have.

I re-read the Familias Regnant sereies by Elizabeth Moon, which I plan to write a separate post about - seven books of wonderful, thoughtful, hard-SF/military space opera, with believable, empathetic characters, a rich, complex world, and some kick-arse action.

Now I'm reading a classic crime novel - Hamlet, Revenge!Hamlet, Revenge! by Michael Innes

I read several of Michael Innes' Inspector Appleby novels in my teens and really enjoyed them. Re-reading this one 30 years later, I notice how different the pacing of the book is from any contemporary detective/crime fic/mystery novels. there's a prologue, that gives a lovingly detailed description of the history of the (fictional) Crispin family, from Tudor times until when the book was written (the 1930s), including the changing architecture and landscaping of their estate/manor house, Scamnum Court.

Then there are introductory scenes where the author names and describes to the reader the cast of characters as they appear at Scamnum and begin to interact with each other.
Not sure what page I'm on, because I'm reading an e-book with the font increased quite a bit, but a couple of chapters in, and I could think this was a country house comedy of manners, not a crime novel, but for a few vaguely threatening typed-out quotes from Shakespeare that a few of the characters have found inexplicably in their possession.
the past truly is a different country.

and I've just started reading Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Cecelia and Kate, #1)Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede

I first heard of Sorcery & Cecelia - a Regency romance with magical elements, in epistolary form - and the other books in the series some years ago, and was most intrigued. Any reviews I'd seen of them had been positive, and they sounding like something that would tickle my fancy. So when I found them in the specials on amazon during Cyber Monday, I bought the first three as e-books. and then I saw that Sorcery and Cecelia is the December selection for the Smart Bitches book club. So now I can read it and discuss with others, some also discovering the series for the first time, some re-reading a favourite.
Have only read a few pages so far, and already I'm delighted with the style, characters and world.
I foresee a vast deal of amusement.
View all my Goodreads reviews

18 November 2012

Going to the supermarket - woo!

I'd been needing to go grocery shopping for aaaages - maybe six days since I ran out of milk and four since I ran out of bananas & yoghurt, three since I ran out of bread (all my staple foods - except I still had cheddar cheese, and dark chocolate). So I'd been drinking lots of water (exciting! but I'm grateful to have safe, drinkable water on tap) and eating my way through the packets of rice cakes and VitaWeats in the cupboard.

Another pertinent point is that I had run out of my cats' favourite food: Whiskas dry food. They actually prefer Science Diet Original dry food to any other biskits, but we hadn't had that for a while - I have Too Many Cats and not enough income to keep them in the food that they'd like to be accustomed to. We do still have a wee bit of Science Diet Oral Care, which comes in big chunky biskits that do marvellous things for one's fangs, but for some reason the only fur-person who likes that is Ember (aka Good Girl, an aspirational name), which is an excellent choice on her part, as she has need of Care for her teeth and gums. So we were having tinned food instead. Tin (sic) food is normally a Treat, even though it's usually cheaper than standard dry food, simply because I'm too lazy to wash the cat dishes after every meal, as I really should when serving tin food. With dry food, I can get away with just wiping the old crumbs and smears of grease out with a paper towel (save water, use paper *shrugs*).

So I was very excited to break through my lethargy and Aversion to Going Outside which had gripped me for some reason this week, and drive the few blocks to Ashfield Mall. My flatmate is away at the moment, so she wasn't amazed by my going to a supermarket on a Sunday evening. Perhaps because she grew up in a small country town, perhaps because she's blind and doesn't go to supermarkets much, preferring to use smaller shops where she can get to know the layout and the staff are more able to assist her, my flatmate is constantly astonished when I go grocery shopping at night.

At around 7pm on a late spring evening, the car park on the roof of the Mall was balmy and tranquil unlike the middle of the day when it would've been hot and crowded. The aisles of the supermarket still seemed quite busy, and the main indication of the time was that they were Out of Bread (i.e. all types of bread from the two brands I usually buy had sold out), and it must've been end of shift for some of the checkout staff, because twice I joined a queue only to be told by the person in front of me "they're closing" or "I'm the last person" (both of which seemed unnecessarily dramatic to me - the *shop* wasn't closing, just that checkout, and you're not the last person on earth, buddy. ahem.).
(does that bit of punctuation look like boobs? .). Maybe more so with another parenthesis
.).) I may be a little high on sugar right now... :-D )

But I bought a lovely loaf of unsliced dark rye, plus the essentials: yoghurt (several types, including a very nice vanilla one with Added Sugar - woohoo! - a bribe to get me to go shopping); bananas; the aforementioned bread; some double chocolate chip mini muffins (or as I like to call them, chocka chip muffins) which were on special, so I got two packets, one to eat quite soon and one to freeze; six litres of long-life lactose-free milk (I usually drink a litre a day); some Cadburys milk chocolate (Fair Trade, and on special - ethical but not spendy); four tins of cat food (which I hadn't planned to buy, as I still had plenty, but it too was on special); and three packets of Friskies dry food (cos that was on special also! and Trezhy really likes Friskies. such happiness).

So I was quite pleased with my purchases, which helped me maintain my equanimity when twice being told the queue I was standing in was Closed.

Then I found a check-out where the operator was not only continuing his shift, but was the most charming, polite, friendly and helpful checkout operator I've encountered in a long time. I might even ring Woollies and give some Positive Feedback. I should. Ali (I'd guess early middle-age) was efficient in packing, while also asking if the customer had any preferences or objections to which items were packed with what; he greeted everyone while he was still serving the person in front - Hello, ma'am, shouldn't be too much longer - and looked customers in the eye as he took their payment, and seemed to actually mean the standard wish for them to have a good evening.

When he greeted the two young people behind me in the queue, they didn't respond, as they were rather preoccupied with each other - their words and actions led me to deduce that they were A Romantic Couple. A tall young man and a short, curvy young woman, who I overheard saying "but I don't have a big nose". When I turned to look, I saw that she in fact had a cute small nose. Her young man explained that he thought he could hang a keyring on the end of her nose because it tilted up at the end (he tried; the keyring fell off). I was tempted to say to her "you have a cute ski-jump nose", but realised that conversational input from anyone outside their Couple was completely irrelevant, so I didn't, and instead shared a smile with Ali.

[sadly I can't include a photo of the Cute Young Couple, because it would be creepy to start taking pics of people in the supermarket queue. wouldn't it?]

Ali wished me a good evening, after putting my bags carefully in my trolley (most unusual for a checkout operator, and I didn't take it as an aspersion on my strength/lack thereof, just as kindness), and I enthusiastically wished him a lovely evening too.

It was a challenge driving home into the setting sun, because a) I'd been unable to find my sunnies* before leaving home, and b) my windscreen was covered in dust and patterned with paw prints, making it very hard to see the road, cars, pedestrians, etc, when the sun hit the dusty glass at an angle. But we made it home safely, the food and I - it was almost like when I used to buy albums** as a teenager, and walk home from the record shop, hugging the album and thinking "must watch where I'm walking; mustn't get hit by a car before I can get home and play this".

So I got home, carrying Wonderful Food for me and the fur-persons. I have nommed some of the lovely vanilla yoghurt, and one (so far) mini chocka chip muffin. The cats were not as excited as I expected them to be by the New Dry Food (for heavens' sake, they'd been surviving on Woollies Select dry food! but I guess the tin food had out-rated the New Dry Food). They did all eat some though, and seem satisfied. Now I'm blogging about this delightful expedition, with Trezhy sleeping, fluffy-tummy-side-up, on my lap, both of us content with our yummy snacks.

*sunnies: noun, plural (but referring to one composite object) Australian vernacular for sunglasses.
**albums: noun, plural. Recordings of music on vinyl disks.