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08 Jan / Serial

I listened to the final episode of Serial today.

This has made me fairly happy and fairly sad. Happy because I’ve been waiting to find out what happens, and sad because they’re just saying it will be back in 2015 and that could be anytime in the next twelve months.

My family motto is “We solve problems by patience.” I don’t solve a lot of problems. I may be adopted.

I really don’t understand why people haven’t already made all of the tv programs and all of the books and all of the movies and all of the radio podcasts that I’d ever want to listen to and enjoy reading and love watching so that I had it readily available to do it all now. Or later, if I feel like it.

And why do I only ever want new things? There’s probably a ton of old movies and old programs and old computer games that would perfectly satisfy my craving to never be the slightest bit bored. But I don’t watch it.

And why does this only ever strike me when something good ends? I’m not left bereft and frustrated at the end of Project Runway or Hell’s Kitchen or The Amazing Race or Survivor. Even when the wrong people win.

Sigh.

Another thing to add to my list of stuff that isn’t coming soon enough for my liking. Along with the second seasons of True Detective and Happy Valley, and the first season of Utopia (the Dennis Kelly one, not the Aussie comedy. Or the US Reality Show. Do you people not check IMDB before you name stuff?)

Not to mention the sixth season of Breaking Bad and The Wire. I bet those’ll be a doozy.

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07 Jan / Brain Fade

I do believe that although my body has returned from holiday my brain may have overslept its alarm and is still safely on leave.

I do often stare out of the window; when I’m thinking, when I’m trying to remember something, when I would rather risk being fired for staring out of windows than face the computer screen with the spreadsheet on it one moment longer.

But at least on those occasions there’s some thought going on somewhere. For the last couple of days I’ve been staring out the window because my entire mind is wiped clean and my body is blankly responding to the light.

I tried to do something today. I told myself in my sternest internal voice to stop dithering and look up the information I needed before my concentration went on a merry-go-round and forgot to get off when it stopped. Did it listen?

Sadly it did but with little result. I stared in furious concentration at the computer screen looking at a folder listing without the slightest idea of which folder would be the correct one to double click on to do the thing connected with the other thing that I…

When I came back to myself I was staring out of the window.

I’m not helped in this situation by having no companions at work at the moment which has meant I’m doing the tasks for 1.7 people plus .5 of a person in my new role for a grand total of 2.2 people’s work. (Luckily I can still add!)

But I’m currently performing at only .337 of a person.

You can do the subtraction to work out the net failing of the demand yourself while I go back to staring out of the window.

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I have been hunting down widows and orphans for at least 20 hours over the last couple of days.

In case you’re worried that I’m armed and out on the streets (I wish!) the widows I’m talking about are the one-word sentences at the bottom of pages that you should never see, and the orphans are parentless children the one-word sentences at the top of a new page.

It’s possible you’ve never seen these, because it’s the job of the typesetter to ruthlessly hunt these down and eliminate them. In the absence of a professional typesetter I’ve found instead that I can rely on… me?

Ohhhhh. Make it stop. I’m going blind.

Possibly because I have my eyes screwed up in frustration at the moment, shutting the world out. Possibly not.

The saddest thing about the whole experience was that for the first two hours (Saturday, I remember you well) I thought this was going so much smoother than the first time I’d had to do it. I felt all experienced and knowledgeable. Right up until the moment that blank pages started to appear in the uploaded file where there were no blank pages in the original.

Who knew that going to page 127 and entering an extra line after a triple *** was going to render the upload conversion service unable to tell the difference between a line and a line break on pages 10-11. Or 10-15 as the upload would have me believe.

Just to prove I wasn’t going crazy I copied the entire book into a blank word document and uploaded it. The empty pages all disappeared. Yah! All of the headers turned into even page headers, rather than alternating even and odd. Boo!

Considering how much I hate the sight of books at the moment I find it rather hard to justify a career as a writer. Usually it’s the lack of ability to generate a profit that does that to me, but apparently this can too.

My darling just says to pay the nice company their $199 and let them worry about the formatting. He doesn’t understand that even if I pay them and they do it I would still have to check every single character because you can’t trust no one these days. No one. No siree.

And then I’d also have to suffer the indignity of knowing that I needed to sell another ████████-ish books in order to earn that money back. Before I moved on to selling the books to earn back the editing fee, and then the proofreading fee. And then the… we’ll just bring all that moaning to a halt shall we?

I would like to say that it’s all finally done, but I need to wait for 24 hours for the good machines at CreateSpace to verify all my cover art and then give me a big tick (you hear that machines? A tick, no declinatures allowed.)

I do have to admit defeat, however. The system finally wore me down. There’s an error on the last page. I couldn’t get it out. I’m hoping that nobody notices.

Of course, reading this you’ll have a heads up if you did want to grab a copy of the book and search for it. Or, better still, BUY a copy of the book and search for it.

It sounds like fun to me, but what would I know? I’m a writer who can’t stand to look at a book.

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05 Jan / Trees

I have been subsumed by work today, so coming home I wanted to think about my garden and the lovely weather we’ve been having, rather than the little cubicles in which I spend a lot of my waking life.

To that end here is a lovely picture of a tree:

It’s a Eucalyptus tree, which you’ll be able to tell from this photo which points up where the leaves are:

And just in case you need a point of reference for its size:

They grow ’em big down South.

BTW this is not one of those pictures that always seem to surface in the police search of the bedroom of the aggreived partner where the head of the dearly departed is scratched out. No! This is just a measure to protect the innocent.

This tree is not native to New Zealand, but does seem to pop up all over the place. If you want to see it flourishing in its Native Land I’ve helpfully attached a photo below:

Ha-ha. I laugh at your puny Eucalyptus and your giant, cuddly rodents.

Now that my trans-Tasman rivalry has been sated I can show you a picture of a gigantic rose:

A pleasant memory from wandering around the Queenstown Botanic Gardens on Boxing Day, back when I was on holiday. Sigh.

And yes you’re quite right to point out it’s not actually a giant rose, it’s a standard size old-fashioned full-olfactory rose in close up. That’s as zoomy as my phone gets.

Well, wasn’t that a nice walk through the garden? I almost feel relaxed enough to think about going back to work tomorrow.

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04 Jan / Ugh Monday

Back to work. End of holiday. Grumpy. Go away.

And now I’ve got that off my chest, I’ve had a rather pleasant day today.

First off, I woke up reasonably early. Early enough that I wouldn’t have needed an alarm, although the actual getting out of bed added another twenty minutes onto that.

Throughout my holiday I have managed to sleep between ten and eleven hours every night, despite the fact that the previous night I will also have slept ten or eleven hours so couldn’t possibly need it again.

For the first few nights it seemed fine, but after two weeks it seems rather odd.

The likeliest explanation is that I put on a whole lot of weight, and now I’m sleeping all the time, because my body has decided to go into hibernation. In Summer. Yes, the likeliest explanation.

Next, we went food shopping and I bought fruit and vegetables. I know, right? They’re like plants but which you eat rather than kill slowly in pots. I even restricted my meat purchases to full-price venison on account of its low-fat content.

Then, and you’ll never believe this, I went for a walk. A full walk. Up and down hills. Down and up hills. The full trek that me and my darling used to go on, and which I haven’t quite managed to do for quite a while now.

Phew.

I must have been calling on the good luck genies because then I got home and checked my Kindle Sales reports to see that I was having my best-ever book sales day.

All of this must somehow be related to the fact that I must don my uniform and make my way into the office tomorrow.

What is the coded message? What could it be?

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03 Jan / Dogs

Next door has a large English Mastiff that gets very lonely very quickly. As soon as its owners go out of the house he’ll start to howl. He’s a big dog with abandonment issues.

The only thing that snaps him out of his open misery is when something or someone strays too close to his territory, whereupon he turns into a ferocious bark-monster.

When it seems like he could figuratively die of loneliness my darling or I helpfully go outside and walk near the fence to snap him from one inappropriate mood into another.

Because of his strange habits, and added ability to throw himself at the dog fence with gay abandon, I’ve gotten into the habit of looking next door every time I’m out in the garden scrutinising my vegetables. And no, that isn’t a euphemism.

And now I’m forever grateful, because this evening I saw a dog driving a car.

Okay, that may be overstating the matter somewhat. The vehicle was parked at the time. But the border collie was sitting in the driver’s seat, and his paws did appear to be at ten and two, so he could’ve been about to start the vehicle and put it in reverse.

I’ve heard people say that border collie’s are smart before, but this is the final proof.

The only drawback is that I’m slightly embarrassed that a dog next door has learned how to drive a car before I have.

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Come on, right! Some of us don’t have social lives – whether by choice or accident – and we’re kind of reliant on a certain instrument that’s become the focal point of many a lounge room.

I am, of course, referring to the laptop computer.

When I was a child I was restricted to one channel on our television, later expanding to two. It took many a long year before some company decided to invest, and lose money, on a third channel. Then a fourth. Then some more. Then you could get Sky TV and watch many, many channels (though oddly no more television programs.)

Now there are so many different channels available for viewing on your computer, or your computer hooked up to your television, or your television’s own on-board computer, that it seems like we’ll never run out of entertainment.

I was a tad worried at Christmas, remembering long hours of boredom as a child where there would be absolutely nothing worth viewing on TV and we would have to play bored board games instead. But it appears that the British remember this as well and produce a wonderment of television viewing to get you through a long day with your relatives.

I’d started to relax somewhat. There was a new series I was interested in released all at once (which is the best idea in entertainment for a long time) and we had a couple of old reality TV shows stored on the hard-drive (so we can reproduce the same sensation by ourselves.)

And then the New Year hit. We’ve gotten so desperate that today we watched an entire free movie from Vimeo and actually watched it through to the bitter end even though it was sick and disturbing and that was just the people attempting to act.

Sometimes a shoestring budget is a hindrance, sometimes it’s an impetus to brilliance, and sometimes it’s more than they deserve.

There’s still another long week of weirdness before all the networks around the world decide that everyone’s over the holidays and ready to sit down and pay some proper attention again.

Let’s hope I can hold out that long.

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01 Jan / Resolutions

Traditional, isn’t it?

Make a resolution on New Year’s Day, break it by February.

I have been trying to find some resolve somewhere, but it lacking somewhat.

I did think about dieting, but since I was already on a diet that fell somewhat flat. As a contribution towards lower-carb living however, I have now cleaned the house out of carbohydrates by eating all of my (yes, my darling and I do have separate supplies) remaining sugar-filled chocolate, and all of the cruskits.

Of course, up until then I had successfully managed to not eat any of these things just through self-control or something so in making that plan I appear to have stuffed up my diet plans instead.

Oh well, onto another one.

I already know that I’ll be publishing a book at the end of this month, so that option is out of scope (unless I want a given.) I could make resolutions to publish more, but I’ve already started the next so it feels like it’s all ticking over nicely.

I received a promotion in my day job at the end of December so there’s another big tick already gone. I’m also trying not to think about work and about how I have to go back to it shortly so I definitely don’t want to make any work plans on my last few days of holiday.

There’s something wriggling around in the back of my head about how I should probably do more exercise, but as it would be almost impossible to do less than I currently do that doesn’t really count for anything. And no, I’m never going to compete in a marathon so get away from me with your big-goal suggestions.

I do need to plant the feijoa tree in the front garden tomorrow so that it has a chance at a happy life. Will that work? I feel that’s on par with resolving to cook tea tomorrow though. Just another chore that needs to get done otherwise a living thing will die.

Sigh.

This, of course, is miles better than the good ole years when every year I could announce I was giving up drinking and smoking and never really mean it.

Maybe not having a plethora of resolutions at hand is actually a sign of progress and I should embrace it.

I resolve to do nothing because I’m pretty much perfect as it stands.

Yeah. 2015. Bring. It. On.

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Well I have to admit I’ve started already. I’ve begun watching movies on the telly. To be fair I do have to start early because I’m planning on finishing early as well. It’s been many a long year since I’ve been able to stay awake until midnight.

If I was really serious about the whole tradition I could always do a Mr Bean and wind the clock forward a few hours, but that seems too much effort just so I can count back from ten alone (my darling would never join in) and then yell happy new year, and go to bed.

Easier to just play it out in my head now and not risk putting all the clocks in the house out of sync.

In a celebration of a faded memory I did have jelly and cream for dessert tonight. Followed an hour later by my latest crop of ripe cherries (five, two of them untouched by birdlife.)

We are also trying to get some sort of New Year’s Day family celebration thingee going. Cafes in Christchurch haven’t been very compliant so far, so at the moment the plan is to have a picnic somewhere.

The botanic gardens has been suggested as a suitable spot, maybe the Port Hills if it doesn’t get too windy, or the front yard of someone’s house. All equally fine suggestions as long as the house isn’t ours. It would be nice to venture slightly further afield however, maybe even Nunweek Park if we’re lucky.

In honour of the traditional picnic basket spreads from my childhood I’ve baked a bacon and egg pie. I’ve eschewed the various fancy recipes on offer throughout the internet, in lieu of the traditional one that I keep in my head.

It stays in my head largely through simplicity. There’s pastry (or else it wouldn’t be a pie) and bacon and egg. I occasionally go all out and sprinkle on some pepper and salt, depending on the salinity of the bacon chosen (on special of course!)

The main problem with this sudden display of domesticity is that the smell of a beautifully cooked bacon and egg pie has permeated the entire house. The entire house where I’m currently not eating many carbs, and my darling is not eating much fat.

I say it smells beautiful, but it’s more like torment.

Never mind, it’s nearly nine o’clock so I’ll be heading off to bed shortly and wake up tomorrow with the smell dissipated and the New Year here.

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