Friday, April 26, 2013

The Pillars of Creation

I don't quite know why, but this makes me sad. Look how beautiful they are, and to think they are probably gone. At least this is one thing that we can't blame the humans for. It's just the universe and how it works. Text is taken from facebook page The Universe

The pillars are active star forming regions in the Eagle Nebula, 7,000 light years distant; the largest of the pillars has a height of about 40 trillion kilometres (4 light years). They consist mainly of molecular hydrogen and dust. These pillars will be destroyed fairly soon either by gradual erosion from the strong stellar winds from new born stars within and around the pillars or from supernovae nearby blowing away the remaining gas and dust.

Scientists discovered a cloud of hot gas believed to be a shock wave from a supernova and thought to hit and destroy the pillars in 1,000 years’ time. As the light from the pillars takes around 7,000 years to reach Earth, the pillars likely have already been destroyed; we see the pillars as they were 7,000 years ago.

This image was taken in 1995 by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and highlights the pillars where new stars are thought to be forming.
Image credit: NASA, Jeff Hester, and Paul Scowen (Arizona State University)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Um, what am I missing?

Weapon of mass destruction definition from wiki: A weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans (and other life forms) and/or cause great damage to man-made structures (e.g. buildings), natural structures (e.g. mountains), or the  biosphere in general. The scope and application of the term has evolved and been disputed, often signifying more politically than technically. Coined in reference to aerial bombing with chemical explosives, it has come to distinguish large-scale weaponry of other technologies, such as chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear.

Boston bombing suspect faces death penalty over weapon of mass destruction charge.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Via Mr E. Just to get the bad taste of Australian politics out of our collective mouths, and make us cry

The Crickets Have Arthritis

Shane Koyczan | poet

The Crickets have Arthritis by Shane Koyczan

It doesn't matter why I was there, where the air is sterile and the sheets sting. It doesnt matter that I was hooked up to this thing that buzzed and beeped every time my heart leaped like a man who's faith tells him God's hands are big enough to catch an airplane, or a world. It doesn't matter that I was curled up like a fist protesting death, or that every breath was either hard labour or hard time, or that I'm either always too hot or too cold. Doesn't matter because my hospital roommate wears star wars pajamas, and he's 9 years old. His name is Louis, and I don't have to ask what he's got.The bald head with the skin and bones frame speaks volumes. The gameboy and the feather pillow booms like they're trying to make him feel at home because he's going to be here awhile.

I manage a smile the first time I see him and it feels like the biggest lie I have ever told, so I hold my breath cos I'm thinking any minute now he's going to call me on it. I hold my breath because I'm scared of a 57 pound boy hooked up to a machine because he's been watching me and maybe I've got him pegged all wrong, like maybe he's bionic or some shit. So I look away like just I made eye contact with a gang member who's got a rap sheet the length of a lecture on dumb mistakes politicians have made. I look away like he's going to give me my life back the moment I've got something to trade. I damn near pull out my pack and say, "Cigarette?"

But my fear subsides in the moment I realize Louis is all show and tell. He's got everything from a shotgun shell to a crows foot and he can put them all in context. Like, "See, this is from a shooting range", and "See, this is from a weird girl". I watch his hands curl around a cuff-link and a tie-tack and realize that every nick-nack is a treasure and every treasure has a story, and every time I think I can't handle more he hits me with another story. He says, "See, this is from my father" "See, this is from my brother" "See, this is from that weird girl" "See, this is from my mother". Took me about two days to figure out that weird girl is his sister, it took him about two hours today after she left for him to figure out he missed her. And they visit every day, and stay well past visiting hours because for them that term doesn't apply. But when they do leave, Louis and I are left alone. And he says, "The worst part about being sick is that you get all the free ice cream you ask for." And he says, "The worst part about that is realizing there is nothing more they can do for you." He says, "Ice cream can't make everything okay."

And there is no easy way of asking, and I know what he's going to say but maybe he just needs to say it, so I ask him anyway. "Are you scared?" Louis doesn't even lower his voice when he says, "Fuck yeah." I listen to a 9 year old boy say the word fuck like he was a 30 year old man with a nose-bleed being lowered into a shark tank, he's got a right to it. And if it takes this kid a curse word to help him get through it, then I want to teach him to swear like the devil's sitting there taking notes with a pen and a pad. But before I can forget that Louis is 9 years old he says, "Please don't tell my dad."

He asks me if I believe in angels. And before I realize I don't have the heart to tell him, I tell him, "Not lately." and I just lay there waiting for him to hate me. But he doesn't know how to, so he never does. Louis loves like a man who lived in a time before God gave religion to men and left it to them to figure out what hate was. He never greets me with silence, only smiles and a patience I've never seen in someone who knows they're dying. And I'm trying so hard not to remind him I'll be out of here in a couple days, smoking cigarettes and taking my life for granted. And he'll still be planted in this bed like a flower that refuses to grow. I've been with him for 5 days and all I really know is that Louis loves to pull feathers out of his pillow, and watch them float to the ground. Almost as if he's the philosopher inside of the scientist ready to say, "It's gravity that's been getting us down."

The truth is: there's not enough miracles to go around, kid. And there's too many people petitioning God for the winning lotto ticket. And for every answered prayer, there's a cricket with arthritis. And the only reason we can't find answers is because the search party didn't invite us, and Louis, right now the crickets have arthritis. So there is no music, no symphony of nature swelling to crescendos, as if ripping halos into melodies that can keep a rhythm with the way our hearts beat. So we must meet silence with the same level of noise that the parents of dying 9 year old boys make when they take liberties in talking with heaven. We must shout until we shatter in our own vibrations, then let our lives echo and grow, echo and grow, grow distant. Grow distant enough to know that as far as our efforts go, we don't always get a reply.

But I swear to whatever God I can find in the time I have left, I'm going to remember you kid. I'm going to tell your story as often as every story you told me. And every time I tell it I'll say, "See, there's bravery in this world. There's 6.5 billion people curled up like fists protesting death, but every breath we breathe has to be given back. A 9 year old boy taught me that." So hold your breath, the same way you'd hold a pen when writing Thank You letters on your skin to every tree that gave you that breath to hold. And then let it go, as if you understand something about getting old and having to give back. Let it go like a laugh attack in the middle of really good sex, the black eye will be worth it. Because what is your night worth without a story to tell? And why wield a word like worth if you've got nothing to sell?

People drop pennies down a wishing well, so the cost of a desire is equal to that of a thought. But if you've got expectations, expect others have bought your exact same dream for the price of a 'hard work, hang in, hold on' mentality. Like, I accept any challenge so challenge me. Like, I brought a knife to this gun fight, but the other night I mugged a mountain so bring that shit, I've had practise. Louis and I cracked this world wide open and found that the prize inside is we never lied to ourselves. Never told ourselves that we'd be easy or undemanding. So we sing in our own vibration, and dare angels to eavesdrop and stop midflight to pluck feathers from their wings and write demands that God's hands take the time to catch you. So, even if God doesn't, it wasn't because we didn't try.

I don't often believe in angels, but on the day I left Louis pulled a feather from his pillow and said, "This is for you." I half expected him to say, "See, this is the first one I grew."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Going a bit mad here

So no news on publishing front. It seems that my work is defo 'under consideration' but there are unforseen delays. My agent can't tell me more, and I can't tell you more either.

People, it's been 11 weeks since my thing was first sent out and while people are saying I have a bright future ahead of me and that I have an amazingly strong voice, fluid writing style, am a 'great writer' that I'm a real find etc - there are elements in play, obviously that I don't know about. Probably stuff like: yeah, but we can't sell a book like that OR oh another family saga? yawn OR Hmmm. This doesn't work so I can't sell it. Oh well.)

I am being calm and still and centred, as much as I can. But I've had a few dreams. In one, there was an email from my agent telling me this particular publisher who loves it had passed on it with regret. Another one where they made an offer and I couldn't get to a computer to read the email. Then other types of dreams, non booky ones but clearly anxiety dreams. In one, someone was wearing the exact same jacket I got in LA - a Calvin Klein orange puffy jacket, but so light, as light as air. I couldn't believe this person had my jacket. Otherwise I'm sleeping so well.

I'm also going a bit mad in other ways too. These flight benefits I've got at the moment are temporary and so 'to feel like I'm making the most of it' I've booked a trip to Hong Kong for me and Clokes next month for our anniversary and also a day trip for me to Brisbane to attend a writing workshop at the end of this month.

I'm walking every day and we have a new lead for the Gigi. I swear, she's 8 years old and has never walked well on a lead. I know now, because we got last pick of the litter, that she is the bad egg. She's a beautiful girl and lovely-natured and sociable; never shown any aggression BUT she is pig-headed and dominant and wants to walk out in front, thinking she is in charge. So I have one of those extendable/rectractable jobs which makes me feel like she's a fish on the end of my line and sometimes I have to reel her in, and sometimes I give her her head. It's working well. So P and me are walking every day and it's making me fitter and this, along with my stopping milk in coffee and 'avoiding wheat especially pasta' I am feeling really good and energetic.

Shit is happening overseas and at the moment, it's hard to filter it out, or filter it at all. Shit is happening here too. Tony Abbott is getting positive headlines to do with same-sex marriage? WTF is Gillard doing? Why oh why won't she go there? I don't get it. I bet personally she's okay with it. Good on NZ for doing it. I've said it before but really: NZ is the place to move to if things get too bad here.

And then the ANZAC thing is coming up again as it always does every year but this year it's making me sweaty in the armpits because I have a work in progress (my Turkish novel) that is concerned with Gallipoli and I'm thinking there'll be so many people trying to capitalise on next year being the 100 anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign. I was there at ANZAC Cove for the 75th anniversary. I shook Bob and Hazel's hands (his: limp; hers: firm and friendly.) I feel I have so much material in my head, so many things I could write/can write but MAN it's hard to settle.

I need a list, and a plan. I have a new fascination with all things airline too. Did you know that on some of the Gulf State airlines you can take a falcon on board with you? As long as it's hooded, and tethered and only in Economy, you can travel with it on your arm. Limit of 6 per cabin though, on Qatar. This stuff is real in the world and it blows my mind.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Well, the news is still bad

but TGIF.

And while I'm here, check this out. I love it. I've been seeing photos around the traps of earth and her lights, eg Berlin below and how east and west still show a differentiation because they tend to use different light globes:

These pics are all credited to a Cmdr Hadfield. And now here's a clip of him - yes, he's an astronaut - doing an experiment for some school kids up in space. It's great and made me think that if I'd been a kid seeing this, it would have been one of the most fantastic things in my life. Maybe it still is.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Oh, isn't it loverly? Melbourne's weather has been brilliant lately, those gorgeous rich tones of colour and the sun low in the sky when I go for my walks. Just beautiful.

Went to a launch last night, at Readings in Carlton. It was Krissy Kneen, she of the Furious Vaginas blog. This is her third book (I think) and I've read the other two, a memoir and then a trio of connected novellas. Her stuff is full-on, I suppose you'd call them pornographic, especially the last book Triptych. She writes beautifully though and with sincerity so there is nothing louche or lewd or lascivious; not negatively anyway. And she is really prolific, they seem to be published at a rate of one a year. Or more?

Just dropped P and her friend at a party. I'm tired, so I'll have a shower and go and read in bed. Wait for the text: Mum can you come and get us. Lucky they are only ten minutes away.

Happy weekend. Go Cats.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I'm back

It was great. I got to see and learn a lot and walked sooo much. Since getting back my blister has healed (heeled) and I've kept up my walking with P, and taking the Gigi too. I caught up with a friend yesterday who I hadn't seen for months - we were at risk of dissolving our friendship over a kerfuffle from last year and I'm glad it seems smoothed over. Maybe going to a book launch tonight - I think I should. Never been to one before and it's for a book I'd like to buy, by an author I'd like to meet/see, whose two other books I enjoyed reading.

I'm also planning some other trips, possibly HK with Clokes for our anniversaire next month and then also possibly something with Princess in September. Remember that ad: Tahiti looks nice? Anyone been to Tahiti? I don't think I've ever met anyone who has. We have a family trip to Bali in the middle of the year, it was already booked and paid for last year before this 'travel opportunity' came up.

The writing: hmmm. Still waiting to hear. There is one of the Big 6 publishers who 'loves it' and who had a 'really positive reader report' (whatever the fuck THAT really means) and wanted to pass it around others in the pub house to read. This means she will be championing the novel and hoping to garner support for it from the PR and marketing people, and whoever else, like other editors. This IS exciting, but after nine weeks of pulling at the skin around my nails and telling myself to be patient, calm and 'that it will all turn out, you'll see' it's getting a little old. Then there's a second publisher who my agent V gave the thing to only recently, by way of a second round. This person is from a large independent (all these publishers are Australian btw) and she was keen to read it and said she would be quick about it. Also my agent thought this person would love the ms. I haven't heard any response from that one (let's call her Second) and nothing more from the previous one (let's call her First). When I met my agent last week - which was a thrill and great - she told me she was expecting to hear from First that same week. Last week. We met on Tuesday. SO, nothing since but since nothing is not a NO, then nothing is OK.

The family were happy with the shopping I brought them. A billion shirts for Clokes, lots of sports stuff for our son (you know, baseball caps and basketball tops). Bags for the girls (I kind of failed at guessing what they'd like but the other day I sent mum home with a funky metallic backpack and little metallic bag on a long strap. She was pretty happy.) The girls took a backpack each and so I'm left with four. Two that I got for myself, and two that are leftovers. Maybe my niece would like one. Then I got lots of tops, and a pair of jeans for myself (I can't remember if I already wrote this.) Shoes. Books.

It's the second week of the holidays and I can't wait for next week when I get the house back to myself. I can't write like this, so I'm wasting too much time on the Internet, watching the Kardashians at night with Princess (AND Clokes, he likes Bruce Jenner. So do I actually) and managing to slowly tidy up after exploding back into the house on Saturday with my travel stuff. Also managing to slowly tidy up my study. I realise I have too much stuff and not enough space so it's become an out-of-control zone where work stuff competes with writing stuff and it's just a hideous mess. I'm out of control with book buying too. Some people have addictions, well I have a few and buying books is one of them. I suppose there are worse things.

The weather in Melbourne is gorgeous. All is well with the world. Life is good.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

OK funsters

I am in Orange County, at a place called Costa Mesa or Cosa Mesta, I'm not sure which, I think the former. I'm on the hotel computer paying like FOURTEEN CENTS AND MINUTE FFS so have to be quick, even though I've checked email, facebook and twitter and you, my friends, all three of you, are next on the list.

So it's Monday. The flight was pretty ok but not business class, long story, but basically every fucker in Sydney decided to fly to Los Angeles. We got in, I decided not to go on my tacky Hollywood tour. I knew I'd be so tired and not just that, but after 4.5 hours of bussing around, prolly with my head asleep against the window and dribbling onto myself, then I had to meet P's friend for a walking tour and THEN have dinner.

As it turned out, I ditched the tour, went on the crew bus to the hotel. My bag was last out of the carousel thingy, fark. At least it arrived, the boy I was sitting next to, his didn't. P and I got to the bus - a tired crew including the 4 people who flew the plane - all sitting there patiently waiting for us. I found a seat next to a girl not wearing flight attendant gear - she was a pilot. SHE WAS A PILOT and we chatted for the bus ride. It was great to ask her questions like: Did you always want to be a pilot? and How do you become a pilot? I'm serious. As we pulled away the captain looked over and asked me if my bag had turned up. It's like they all knew about me and my sitch. On the plane, as we were flying through the night and my resolve to go on the tour started to dissolve, I had flight crew coming up to me and saying things like: So I hear you're getting little lukewarm on the tour, harden up! and So you're thinking not to do the tour, I thought that was ambitious myself.

We got to the hotel, settled in and then went and picked up a hire car at the John Wayne airport. Drove into LA and parked at the Concert Hall, the place where they used to have the Oscars, the Dorothy Chandler Centre which was where P was going to the Opera. Cinderella. It was funny watching him approaching overdressed LA women to see if they were scalping tickets. One woman said: I'm selling it because I don't like an empty seat next to me. ? She went from $200 to $100 to $50 in about 60 seconds.

So he went in and Scott and I went off on our tour. We saw buildings, we walked Broadway, we went to 4 places and had wine, beer, Prosecco and then finally a margherita. Hmmmm. Then P and I got the car and drove to Hollywood Boulevard and parked about three times, jumping out to see the stars, trying to find Marily. Saw everyone but. Saw Bette Davis twice within about 20 metres. Weird. Went to Grauman's Theatre and saw the handprints in the cement. It was great, I mean really. The traffic was light so we could drive and park, there were people out and about, walking, clubs, tacky souvenir stores etc.

Then we got on the freeway and drove home and I was so tired my eyes felt like they were underwater, with that shimmery almost passing out feeling. Like when they give you a general anaesthetic. Got back to the hotel and showered and almost went to sleep on top of the covers on my back. I never go to sleep on my back.


This morning up at 8, breakfast. Then drove to a shopping centre down towards Newport Beach, called Fashion Island. It's not an island, it's a very bland kind of sterile shopping centre. But they had a book shop and I stocked up, also got some other stuff. Then to Newport Beach, and to Balboa Island. This was trippy because it was so OC, and we had Balboa Bars and saw a frozen banana stand, not quite like the Bluth's one, and the weather was lovely. Then I drove back home, we returned the car to John Wayne airport and caught the shuttle back to our hotel. On it were two Southwest (or Northwest) pilots, can't remember but one had a leather bomber jacket and a normal tie and the other one had a FUCKING AMERICAN FLAG TIE. Anyway they were like fanboys talking to P about the A-380 and the one with the bomber jacket was saying how a Qantas pilot had shown him around one - All I wanted to see was the flight deck but he showed me everything! It's nice to see people obsessed with things.

We had a rest and then walked to a place near here called South Coast Shopping Plaza and I went mental in a place called Ross Dress for Less - designer gear and great stuff for really cheap. Then we went to an Italian restaurant and ate and drank ourselves silly - then walked home dragging these huge shopping bags.

We leave early for NYC tomorrow. I have packed all my shopping into a spare bag and will leave here. I have my business class outfit 'laid out' (oh, there are some stories about my footwear and blisters) and then tomorrow night, we will be in Brooklyn, oh yeah.

Got to go, so tired, and need sleep. Probably won't check in again until home.