Archive for June, 2009

He sort of softened up at the end…

June 30, 2009

This is a real news article from the Australia Times, August 15, 2007.  Got to love the poignant directness of the Aussie stockman. (Go to bold text for best parts.)

A QUEENSLAND stockman who was left bleeding and dazed after being thrown from his horse spent seven nights huddled in a tree without food or water, trapped by crocodiles circling below.

David George, 53, climbed the tree and built a platform of branches after finding himself in the middle of a swamp infested by nesting crocodiles.

“Every night I was stalked by two crocs who would sit at the bottom of the tree staring up at me,” Mr George said yesterday.  “All I could see was two sets of red eyes below me and all night I had to listen to a big bull croc bellowing a bit further out. I’d yell out at them, ‘I’m not falling out of this tree for you bastards’.”

Mr George, a father of one, set out alone on August 1 from the remote homestead on his Silver Plains cattle station in Cape York, in far northeast Queensland, to start burning scrub across the vast property.

Late in the day his horse stumbled, throwing him to the ground and knocking him unconscious.

When he came to, hours later in the pre-dawn darkness, he found his horse waiting nearby and mounted it in the hope that it would take him home. Instead it took him deep into a swamp infested with crocodiles.

“I had to get off the horse and fall on the 2.5m swamp grass to clear a path. I fell straight into a crocodile nest,” Mr George said after being discharged from hospital.

“That spooked me. There were some monstrous tracks and the big ones are never far from the nest. I couldn’t go back, it was too far and too dangerous, so I headed to the nearest high ground and stayed there, hoping someone would come and find me before the crocs did.”

He climbed into a tree and tied himself to a branch with rope, later building a platform higher up on which he could rest. Over the next few days he tried to attract the attention of airborne search teams by reflecting sunlight off his tobacco tin, waving his shirt on a stick and spreading lavatory paper in the branches.

“The scrub was that thick they could not see me. It was very frustrating – they flew within 20ft of me at one stage,” he said.

After three days his food – two meat sandwiches – was gone. “If I hadn’t seen the crocs circling me, and if I hadn’t fallen into the croc nest, I would have made a push for it. But I knew the safest thing was for me to sit tight and wait,” he said.

For several more days George continued to hold out hope, shouting at the prowling crocodiles and praying to Aboriginal spirits. But when his entreaties yielded nothing, he finally resigned himself to his fate, writing a poignant farewell letter to his son.

“Surrounded by crocs and snakes,” he wrote, etching the note onto the back of his tobacco tin. “See choppers every day, flying too low – can pass a footy to them, blind pricks. Love you, my son.”

On the eighth day, he was found. The search had involved the Australian army, police and Aboriginal trackers who were alerted to his disappearance by his wife. He was winched from the tree by an army helicopter crew who spotted him from the air.

“They gave me a chocolate bar after they winched me up to the chopper – it was like a gourmet meal,” Mr George said.

His wife, Elizabeth, said that she had prepared herself for the worst after her husband had been missing for a week. “The main thing was that it is croc country out there. Every time one of the search parties would fly back in they would talk about how big the crocs were,” she said.

Mr George said that he spent a lot of his time yelling in an attempt to keep the crocodiles away from his horse, which remained near by until the day before he was found. It eventually wandered home.

Visitors.

June 29, 2009

I don’t mean aliens.  I mean in-laws.  The visit just ended – W is taking them to the airport, and it’s over.  Whew.  Too wiped out to report anything – other than the visit was fine, the anticipation was what was killing me.  Am exhausted, though.  I need some time to recover.

There is no time, however.  Now, we got to do this all over again next weekend.  Got to start gearing up to clean (it’s amazing how a couple of extra people require an exponentially large amount of cleanup – on the front and back end of any visit.  Of course, that could just be the plaster dust talking.).

This wouldn’t be so bad if we had a kitchen!  I have to say, I had no idea we had the amount of room we actually have in this house until we lost about 1/4 of it due to the renovation.  We were startlingly inefficient about how we use our space – but maybe you just get used to living a certain way until you’re forced to change it.

It’s not even 9am and I need a nap.  Eesh.

Edited to note:  I guess a career as a B&B owner is out of the question now as the reality of my personality and that job’s requirements seem to be clashing somewhat.

I knew it!

June 26, 2009

There was a reason I liked and felt at home with the one-shot format!

From Wikipedia, “konglish” entry: won-syat (원샷 “one shot”) – a form of toast, roughly equivalent to “bottom’s up”. It challenges the drinker to finish his drink in one gulp.

*Ahem, not that I drink or anything.  (No, really, I don’t.)  It’s really a commentary on my preferred writing length.  And now you know how I spend much of my ‘writing’ time – on the web (hangs head in shame).  I repeat – on web, not drinking.  I couldn’t type if I were drinking….

(Konglish (for those not in the know, and really, why would you be?) = mash of Korean+English.  What amuses me is the matter-of-fact way that Wikipedia comments: “Generally people who speak immigrant Konglish lack full fluency in either English or Korean.”  Yeah.  That’d be me to some extent, of the broken similes and inability to grab for the right word at the right time and the incomprehensible puns that are funny only to me.  No really.  That’s me.  If you ask W, he’ll confirm I’m always complaining about English being my third poorly understood language and my broken speaking/expressions.  I’ll always wonder if I’d be so much better at one language than I am with this one if my brains weren’t so scrambled so early…wistfully looks off into a distant alternative universe where I am amazingly linguistically good and people throw metaphorical flowers (and real money) at my feet for any cunning bit of verbiage that falls from my rosy lips.)

You’re asking moi?

June 25, 2009

Someone just contacted me for writing advice:
“btw, is it ok to ask for advice?…. i don’t know how to get started..i already have thoughts on the events that i would want to happen in the story but putting it into words is turning out to be a hard task for me..also, i’m not sure if i should just start with a one-shot or go with the multi-chapter story already..help would be much appreciated..”

I have no idea what to say in response.  I tried to be nice – and give them support – saying things like writing is hard, and I’m still learning myself, and this is why people post stuff online – because of the feedback that’s possible, and to find your own voice.  How generic is that?  It’s all true – but that doesn’t stop it from being generic.

Not certain what else to say.   I suppose it is possible to suggest using spell-check and a beta-reader, as that is something that often comes up in the rants about online stories – but that seems, um, a little less than nice.  (It’s like telling them to learn how to type and use proper punctuation.  Isn’t that their English teacher’s job?  But this person did ask for advice….)  Plus, since I only write short stories – any specific advice seems useless.  Didn’t I just post how I can’t write stories of any length without crying out for mercy?

I had no idea people would ask for advice when I started this writing thing.   I really didn’t.  Frankly, I’m always asking for advice myself – I’m hardly in a position to give others anything – if there was a more specific question, or if I had offered myself as a beta-reader, that might be easier to answer this question.  And those beta-readers, they’re like saints of the unpaid fic world.

Also, because I think I’m more of an instinctual writer than a trained one (this is not a slam on trained editors – this is more a slam on me) – I don’t know why I want to do lots of the changes I want to do – I just do it.  I just write and change until it seems right.  All that stuff real editors are trained to do – elements of style, understanding various genres,  trimming and book/story doctoring – I can’t do it.  Not nicely.  It would drive me crazy to edit somebody else’s writing – in part, because I would have a hard time not fiddling with their stuff to the point their voice disappears.  I’m a pushy editor with my own stuff – never mind somebody else’s.  I know my own (evil) limitations.

I suppose it’s a compliment to my own writing that someone asked my advice.  It’s nice other people like it.  I just feel uncomfortable telling people how to go about writing – because I just sit down and write, even if I might be unhappy with the end results.  I really don’t understand my own process very much.  Sigh.  Maybe I just should have just said ‘sorry.’  But that doesn’t seem very nice.  For someone as snarky as myself – that seems a little weak, but I guess I want people to think I’m nicer than I really am, maybe.

In re-reading this, I can only this this is an extended writing wank.  Sorry.

Research for writing is my oxymoron.

June 22, 2009

Writing a piece – historical fiction.  Stressful.  I want to get the details right but I don’t want to beat it to death.  Don’t want to get beaten, either.  I wish I had the impetus to write that regency romance I’ve been mulling for years instead of this thing.  The research is interesting – it’s just a pain in the butt.  (I suppose I’d be like this for the regency as well – only I’ve got a fantasy about how easy that’ll be compared to this thing, out of a time period I know zilcho about.)  Maybe I love doing the research, my problem is just doing something with it all, and pounding it into shape.  Also, I hate discarding some of the interesting things I’ve learned – maybe that’s part of it.  Maybe I’m just lazy.

Dang it.  Why do I always do things like this?  All enthusiasm, and then I’m tired, and then it’s time to return the library books.  I’m not talking neighborhood library either – these are from the university library – so that means I’ve had them for most of a term and the summer.  Need to start flogging the flagging, sagging will to write.  Still nowhere near ending.  I’ve written – what – 7,500 words with no ending in sight.  That’s the first three out of possibly double-digit number of scenes.  o_O.  I really relate to that emoticon right now. 

You’re talking to someone who only really likes writing short, short stories – like 3000 words.  I want to be wrapping this up, like now.  This length is beating me.  I want to use this as a good exercise in writing – in making longer pieces, in riding the long distance wave, as it were.  But I’m wiped out.  I’d like to post it – but I really don’t want to until I’ve at least got the first draft ready, so when I put it up, the edited chapters will just come up quickly and it’ll look effortless.  (Right?  And not the Marine-commando style slog is feels like now.)  Plus, I don’t want to put something that I don’t know if I’m going to finish – because I hate reading something and then realizing it hasn’t been updated in 3 years or something. 

Grits teeth.  Oh yes.  I will finish this, though.  But it’s just weighing me down, and sort of constantly nagging.

Thing is, I love historical fiction, if done well.  And by well I mean not meeting every leader of the free (and not so free) world by the time the story is done – and some people throw in all the scientific/religious minds of the day.  That’s overkill for me.  I like stories where regular people do their thing in their regular way.  Maybe the only place where it’s not egregious is Forrest Gump, because he has no idea who he’s meeting, at least as far the movie goes (can’t speak to the book).

And oh, yeah.  I’ve got a completely unrelated longer piece also sitting there – the funny piece to this historical one.  The switching back and forth thing…not working right now.

Twitted.

June 22, 2009

So, was I called on it on what?  Twitter is actually socially relevant – it’s all over the news.  Good for them.  As I wrote previously -the revolution is not going to be led by people like me.

Who knew that my Facebook account would be better used for freeing nations than say, whining about whether or not Nad’s is actually any good as a depiliatory.  And blogging – well, apparently, some bloggers get invitations to things like the White House Press Corps dinner.  Not expecting one to show up in the mail anytime soon.

This reminds me of a story (most likely apocryphal) of a college essay to some Ivy League school.  The question was “Are you a leader?”  Apparently, out of the thousands of applications, there was exactly one who indicated she was a follower.  She got in.  The rationale was there needs to be some followers in the sea of leaders at the place.

Kitchen confidential

June 20, 2009

The kitchen demolition/remodel starts on Monday.  So we’re clearing out the old kitchen, laundry room, and attached garage.  Holy cow, Batman!  We’ve got a buttload of crud-ola to figure out what to do with.  Old books, a semi-junky kind of huge coathanger, some gardening materials, garbage pails, etc.

Just thinking about it makes me tired.

I was chatting about this with a friend recently, and I realized I made some mistakes.  I should have:  1) stopped buying pre-packaged/canned food a while ago; 2) thrown out a lot of junk before now; 3) maybe not have the kitchen redone.  And oh yeah, in anticipation of this new kitchen, like a dummy, I bought a new set of pots and pans.  (I’ve never had an entirely new set before – it’s sort of exciting – and now I know who buys these sets – newlyweds if they don’t have anything, and people who are redoing their kitchens.)  But it is dumb – like I need one more big box of stuff to put away until the shelving is complete in the kitchen.  Duh.

For once, the contractor is moving pretty quickly – so we had to pick out everything within a couple of months.  That seems like a lot of time – but it’s really not, considering the number of trips we’ve had to make to the various suppliers (round-trip is 2 hours long not including actual showroom time), arranging for babysitting, and actual just consideration time of whether or not this whole thing is going to be worth it (and where the money was going to come from).  But we need to do this – the part of the house where the kitchen is located is not exactly, umm, decrepit, but it isn’t very nice and we want to re-do the siding and the windows, but we can’t do that until the interior is settled and fixed, so one thing led to another….and we’re getting a new kitchen and siding and windows.

I get cold feet pretty quickly, and this is just another manifestation.  I think.  I just want the end to come so I can be as happy as everybody says I’m going to be with a new kitchen/laundry room.  I’m closing my eyes, clicking my heels, and thinking, “There’s no place like home with a new kitchen, there’s no place like home….”

Sap

June 20, 2009

Henry has a very strong ‘H’ aspiration – so when we go home, he says, “Goin’ my HHHouse.”  I’m feeling I should try to correct this, and other things (like his saying “what doin’ umma?” to “what are you doing umma”) but it’s so endearing, I’m tempted to just let it go.

I was thinking about this, and how much vocab he’s obtained, and then, with virtually no prompting on my part, something awesome happened.

Henry and I were just hanging out on the couch, doing a little pillow fighting and hugging, and he was talking about being happy.  So I said, “You make me happy.”

He said, “You make me hhhhappy.”  Then he reached over and took my face in his hands.

I just started to blubber like a baby.

Broken ears.

June 19, 2009

I heard the news exactly like this “Senator from Nevada…sex scandal…black male.”  I started to get interested – “really, a gay political sex scandal with racial overtones?  Republican or Democrat?”  But then W clarified.  “Hetero sex scandal, involving blackmail – like exhortion.”

Oh.  Oops.  My bad.

Semantics – proxemics

June 17, 2009

The character’s name is SpongeBob SquarePants (the main character of a children’s cartoon show on tv).  Somehow, my 4-year old nephew calls him Spongy.  And my mother, even weirder, calls him FrenchBob.  (Which makes me wonder what she thinks of the French.  If she even thinks about it that hard.  Okay, this is where I admit her English isn’t great, but still.  She knows who the French are.)

Weirder still, I caught a snippet of the news where the talking heads were discussing what I can only imagine was the same show.  They were talking as if the show were a crazy figment of drug-fueled late-night imagination – imagine, a character who is a sponge that is square who wears pants!

This isn’t like the waterskiing squirrel or the prisoners in orange jumpsuits who are dancing to “Thriller.”  SpongeBob is not a fad or viral video (all judgements on content and quality are suspended for the sake of this conversation).   Maybe I know too many kids in the past 10 years or so – but SpongeBob is a real staple of childhood now.  I guess these guys are too busy with their jobs and don’t know anyone with children.