Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hope: a Fundraiser For the Victorian Fire Victims

Taken directly from Satima's Blogspot:

Hope is a new multi-part fanzine raising money for bushfire relief in the Australian state of Victoria. Issue #1 is now available in a PDF edition in return for donations. How much you donate is up to you - a minimum of AUS$5.00 seems reasonable.

If you wish to subscribe to the entire series (it looks as if it's going to be five issues long) then maybe a donation of at least AUS$20.00 would be appropriate. You're getting a great collection of stories from some fine writers. Hope #1 contains contributions from Mo Ali, Sophie Ambrose, R.J. Astruc, Lyn Battersby, K.K. Bishop, Matthew Chrulew, Stephen Dedman, Mark S. Deniz, d.n.l, Paul Haines, Simon Haynes, Kathleen Jennings, Ju Landéesse, Damian Magee, David A. McIntee, Simon Petrie, Andrew Phillips, Gillian Polack, Robert Shearman and Daniel Smith. The cover is by Rebecca Handcock.

Hope #1 contains 46 pages of fiction, non-fiction, artwork, and even a comic book script excerpt! You can make a donation to the project via Paypal by clicking the link below. (Funds are being collected by Grant Watson, one of the many caring fans and writers who are trying to help the victims of the bushfires.)

The link to Paypal is on Grant's LJ: (I couldn't get Blogger to accept the code, dammit, but you won't mind visiting Grant, will you?)

Once you've made a donation, please confirm it by e-mailing Grant at to let him know whether you were after just the one issue or the whole series as it's released.

Limited print copies are available, if dead trees are your thing. If it's a print copy you're after, let Grant know in your e-mail along with your address. He'll handle the postage. (Obviously he'd prefer you went for the PDF, but the option is there.)

If you want to promote Hope on your own LJ or blog, please do so - the more the info spreads, the more money we may raise for the people of rural Victoria.

I couldn't get the link to Grant's LJ to work either so please go http://angriest.livejournal/ for the Paypal details and other information about Hope. It's a very worthy cause.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Moving house

I have now moved other people's household effects four times in less than a year. I have learned a lot from these experiences. First, we all have far too much "stuff" and second, I am staying where I live now until I drop and they have to carry me out. I think I've done my share of packing and unpacking.

To be fair, every time I've helped pack up someone else's life I have realised the need to cull my own possessions so the amount will not be as great as it would have been. But I take no responsibility for Pisces' conglomeration and I am sorry for whoever has to take on that task.

Or I could order that skip...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Country.

Australia can be a hard land. Much of the continent is desert and nearly all those enticing looking lakes on the map are dry saltpans, hence names like Lake Disappointment. Droughts and water shortages are the norm with only a relatively small portion of land where grazing is lush or water intensive cropping is possible. Many of our trees are high in volatile oils so when a fire breaks out it spreads with terrifying speed. While most of us get just enough rain, in the tropics the volume can be enormous and so can the devastation.

The climate of Australia is changing. I can see this in my own little corner of Western Australia. Less rain in winter - our rainfall comes largely in that three month period - and more humidity in summer for starters. Australia's population continues to grow and the areas that can supply our needs shrink. The irrigation areas along the Murray-Darling basin we have relied on so heavily are suffering acute water shortages and elsewhere crops are having to be modified to cope with the changes.

There is a poem by Dorothea Mackellar, My Country, which is taught in our schools. It’s also been set to music. The words sum up Australia and Australians so eloquently I don’t know why it wasn’t made our national anthem. They stir me every time I hear them, tapping in as they do to the reality of this continent. Mackellar wrote it while she was in England and compares the soft, lush green of that land with the harshness of the countryside where she lived in Australia. She knew the dangers of the Australian landscape – but like her countrymen and women, forgave them. We know we live where vicious bushfires threaten life and property every summer, where floods can come without warning, where years can go by with barely enough rain to sustain life. We do what we can to survive all these natural disasters because Australia is also a bountiful country. In the good times she gives us enough to live well and if the price is the bad times when we have to struggle, that’s the way it is.

But, having said that, there is no reason why we shouldn’t improve our use of what we have. We need to start finding and implementing solutions, learning from other dry land cultures and creating innovative ways to care for our land and ourselves. We have the ability. Now we have to act. Even without climate change we have known for many years that these problems exist. Dorothea Mackellar was writing about them in 1908. We need to start to deal with them.

To read the poem and find out more about this gifted poet go to the Dorothea Mackellar website.

Friday, February 13, 2009

So much tragedy.

The magnitude of the Victorian fires have distracted us from the other natural disaster unfolding, fortunately with less loss of life, in north Queensland. There the problem has been massive flooding. The town of Ingham was inundated twice in a week and other towns have also been affected. Roads are still cut in many places. Now the thunderstorms are delivering torrential rain further down the coast around Mackay and Rockhampton although major flooding is not expected there. The flood waters are bringing other problems. Saltwater crocdiles are able to venture further inland by following swollen streams and a child was reported to have been taken by one. As well there is an outbreak of dengue fever as mosquitos breed in flooded areas. My heart goes out to you all.

But even in this tragic situation there is some benefit. The flood waters are slowly making their way through the river system bringing much needed water to some of the pastoral areas and in about three or four weeks they may reach Lake Eyre. If we are lucky this usually dry inland sea in the centre of the continent will fill. This is a rare event but when it does occur it becomes a massive breeding ground for waterbirds, feasting on the fish and other creatures carried in by the flood waters. How they know there is water available is a mystery but they flock in thousands from all over the country. It's been one of my dreams to see this. I'll keep you posted if or when it happens.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Victoria Ablaze.

It's hard to believe the news coming in from Victoria. Every news broadcast there are revised estimates of the dead and injured and towns destroyed in the fires sweeping through approximately a third of the state. The latest figures I have heard are 181 confirmed dead and that is expected to rise to over 200. The number injured is just as grim. Whole towns have been completely annihilated and in some cases, where the fires are suspected to have been started by arsonists, they are being treated as crime scenes. There have been terrible images of razed buildings, dead animals and blackened skeletons of trees. The speed of the fires and their intensity has meant that even the best prepared have struggled to survive. There are high temperatures forecast again in a few days and the hope is that the fires will be brought under control before then.

The outpouring of sympathy and practical help from all over Australia is amazing. During the sitting of Parliament yesterday more than one politician was close to tears over the scale of the disaster and loss of life. Firefighters and police officers are being sent from all over Australia and NZ to relieve the weary locals and assist in identifying bodies. Appeals are being launched to raise money or supply needed goods for those who have lost everything, ranging from the large scale by national organisations to the local like the quiz night being arranged by one of my neighbours. It's times like this, when people open their hearts and wallets, that I truly appreciate how generous Australians can be. So many people are doing so much.

With family and friends in Victoria - fortunately not in the affected area - this is close to our hearts. Thank you to everyone who is doing their bit.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

No I Won't Rant About Daylight Saving

I'll just say:
I'm sick of getting up in the dark. It's summer for Heaven's sake.

I'm irritated by ending up going to bed just after I've eaten dinner which was late because I judge time naturally - by the sun not the clock.

I'm fed up with the waste of electricity from having the house lit up like a Christmas tree in the mornings because it's dark and everyone is getting ready at the same time - in different parts of the house. In the evenings there are usually fewer lights on because we do things like eat and watch television in the same room for at least part of the evening.

I'm beyond tired of people telling me they get more time with their kids because the clock has been messed with. Really? You'd rather spend an hour or so playing with kids who are cranky and tired in the evening instead of - oh I don't know - taking them with you when you walk the dog in the cool of the morning, going to the beach for an early morning swim, spending an hour playing at the park before breakfast while they are alert and full of energy - and yes, it is quite possible to do any of that before you go to work or take the kids to school when there is no daylight saving.

I'm angry that kids have to walk home from school in the hottest part of the day instead of when it has started to cool down.

I'm really annoyed about the way those who advocate messing with the clocks denigrate those who don't. If anyone ever actually said that they were worried about their curtains fading without being set up, which I doubt, it has no relevance to the debate.

I object to the fact that changing clock time favours only one part of the community, those who like long, light evenings, and disadvantages the other half, those who function better in the mornings. Why? Time untampered with both gives both a fair go.

I resent that, because I run out of energy towards the end of the day, I have less exercise and my fitness decreases because I am too tired to walk in the evening and it's too dark to walk in the mornings.

I protest too on behalf of my dog who feels the heat badly and so lasts about half the distance she needs to keep fit and happy when she has to be walked in the late - actually mid - afternoon heat or miss out completely.

Yes I know it's all about business and has nothing whatsoever to do with social benefit however much those in favour of it try to convince us it's otherwise. I might be more sympathetic if I hadn't worked for an organisation based on the east coast. I've tried but I can't think of one occasion when something was so vital that it couldn't be dealt with first thing the next morning. If there had been such a critical situation there was always a contact with senior management to cover emergencies anyway.

Daylight saving is workable in some parts of the world. I've lived in England where changing the clock by an hour really makes no difference due to the way summer nights become shorter and days longer the nearer you are to the Pole. But Western Australia is not in that climatic zone and it does not work that way here. All it does is push the start of day back into darkness.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Guest Blogging.

Have a look over at The Battersblog, Lee Battersby's blog, for my take on Week Three at Clarion South 2007. Six of the 2007 graduates are sharing their experiences.

Monday, February 02, 2009

And it's already February!

Where has January gone, that's what I'd like to know. There was much barking at the front door this morning with Jaz getting highly stressed. When I went to look out there was a bunch of kids in school uniform and on bikes. You know what this means, don't you? School has gone back. School Has Started Again! Do you wonder why I wonder where January went? Scary, that's what it is - especially as not very much seems to have happened during the month.

Well some things have, I guess. Some of it good, some bad. As the bad is connected to the global economy I can hardly do anything about it. The good on the other hand is a series of small joys - a bundle of books bought with my Christmas and birthday money. It's taken years but I've finally convinced most of my family that book vouchers or money are the way to go for me. That gives maximum pleasure in the browsing, the choosing and the reading - and, of course, is where much of my time has gone, it being too hot to be outside.

This year the list is (plus some supplementary purchases that I am not convinced Pisces believes were essential):

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. What can I say? Wow!

The Riven Kingdom by Karen Miller. Another Wow!

The New Space Opera ed by Gardiner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan. Thoroughly enjoyed it

The Awakening by Bevan McGuiness. I'll be interested to see the rest of this series.

The Aware by Glenda Larke. The first book in the trilogy The Isles of Glory. I missed it when it first came out and so came back to read it after I had enjoyed the following two books. I'm glad I did.

Dreaming Again ed. Jack Dann. A collection of speculative fiction stories well worth reading including several by some of my Clarion South mates - Ben Francisco, Chris Lynch, Christopher Green, Jason Fischer and Peter M. Ball.

On the still to read pile are:

The Daughters of Moab by Kim Westwood

Cosmic Logos by Traci Harding

Royal Exile by Fiona McIntosh

A Forest of Stars by Kevin J. Anderson

The Accidental Sorcerer by K. E. Mills

And just to show I do read other than speculative fiction sometimes:

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson