Thursday, March 31, 2016

So Many Australian Speculative Fiction Awards

The Aurealis Awards, Ditmar Awards and Tin Duck Awards were all announced over the Easter weekend. There are far too many for me to name and congratulate the winners individually so here is where you can find the lists.

2015 Aurealis Awards - includes the Sara Douglass Book Series Award and Convenors' Award for Excellence

2016 Ditmar Awards, Norma K. Hemming Award and A Bertram Chandler Award

2016 Tin Duck Awards

Again congratulations to all the winners.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


If you have followed this blog for some years you'll know about Swancon. This is a speculative fiction convention run under the auspices of WASFF (the Western Australian Science Fiction Foundation) in Perth. It's usually held over the Easter long weekend and has taken place since 1976 making it the longest running convention of its kind in Australia. Swancon is for anyone interested in science fiction and fantasy, whether they are writers, readers or gamers. It's not something I want to miss - but sometimes real life gets in the way as it did this year. Pisces has been sick and since I can't drive at the moment due to my knee problems - and to be honest I didn't really want to abandon him in his misery while I swanned around (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) - I couldn't get there. I was not a happy little camper.

But all is not lost. My friend, author, editor and reviewer, Satima Flavell, did go and has blogged about her experience here. She obviously had a great time and, if you are interested in things speculative, as a writer, reader or a gamer, and are likely to be in Perth at Easter next year I do recommend Swancon. It's a great way to catch up with folk with similar interests. The website for Swancon 42 is here if you'd like to check it out.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Don't Think This is Useful Advice

What am I talking about? Well, I have an ongoing problem with my knees. One in particular has become extremely painful to the point that, when x-rays showed the cartilage is completely worn away and I'm basically moving with bone grinding on bone, I asked my GP to refer me to a rheumatologist to see if I should look at a knee replacement, and a couple of months ago I phoned and made an appointment.

The rheumatologist is very popular and hence very busy so I had to wait until this week before I could see her. She had some information about what's involved with a complete knee replacement - not anything I hadn't heard before because, hey, it's major surgery and I certainly don't expect it to be a walk in the park but it needed to be said - and gave me a injection which she hopes will give me temporary relief. She also identified another issue that I will certainly have to address before I have the surgery.

So far so good. Then she gave the advice I'm referring to in the post title - and it didn't go down well with either Pisces or me. This was that I should lose some weight - two to three kilos - to ease the pressure on my knees. Why is this annoying? Well, my weight is right in the middle of the range of the ideal healthy weight for a woman of my height and, frankly, I cannot see that it would be healthy or desirable for my general well being to lose any more. It's not the first time I've been given this kind of gratuitous and unnecessary advice by a doctor - as far as I can work out it's something to do with naturally big boobs making you look like you are carrying more weight than you actually are - and, while I do understand that carrying extra weight does affect health, surely they should be able to tell the difference between healthy weight and overweight, particularly when they have just been told what that person actually weighs.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Stunning Images

A post by World Inside Pictures titled 15 Totally Incredible Photos Untouched by Photoshop turned up in my Facebook newsfeed today. Now, like most of us, I'm always more than a little sceptical of anything with the sort of headline that tells me something is incredible but what I could see of the images was spectacularly beautiful so I clicked on the post - and I'm very glad I did.

Why don't you have a look at them. They are certainly worth it. You can find them here.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Snapshot

1. This just came up on the TV.  I was watching Antiques Roadshow and someone came in with a collection of space memorabilia. It reminded me about the excitement when the first moon landing occurred. People were glued to their sets as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their first steps on the Moon. It was breathtaking and there can't be many people who don't know of the iconic statement of 'That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' - except that Armstrong always maintained he actually said was 'That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.' Apparently his version has now been vindicated by a computer programmer.

2. Someone is having something delicious for dinner tonight. There are yummy smells wafting in my bedroom window (I'm laid up having to rest my knee after treatment).

3. On the weekly satire program Clarke and Dawe tonight they are 'doing an interview' which views the news as an on-going soap opera. Biting satire which can be viewed on ABC iview here.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

I Haven't Forgotten You

It's just that things have been rather busy around here with a couple of health issues - not mine, family ones - that are yet to be resolved.

So until things are back on track, at least a little, here is a cat - a serval named Harriet to be precise - and her friends at the Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary outside Harare in Zimbabwe.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Mystery

I woke this morning just after sunrise to a cacophony of bird calls from the park we back on to. There were the easily recognised - the chuck-chuck of the red wattle birds, resident willy wagtail furiously jitty-jittying ( he reminds me of the old cartoon characters that were prepared take on someone or something vastly bigger because nothing fazes this little fellow, he'll attack anything he sees as a threat), the pink and grey galahs screeching, rainbow lorikeets shrilling alarms - and many not so easily recognised whistles, trills and chirps. One thing was certain was they were all very upset. Surprisingly the only bird calls missing were the magpies and ravens, who are the ones usually at the forefront of any disturbance.

This went on for some half an hour and then, apart from the irate willy wagtail who was still venting his anger on the back fence, the noise muted to the normal sounds of birds going about their daily business. Obviously there had been some kind of threat but what it was I have no idea. An hour or so later and the magpies were having their usual morning skirmish with the ravens so why they hadn't both been involved when the smaller birds were so distressed remains a mystery, too.

I went to the park later to see if I could see anything amiss but it was calm and peaceful, with not so much as a leaf out of place. Strange. 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Little Brown Birds

When I put on the sprinklers this morning we were visited by dozens of small brownish birds of assorted sizes darting through the spray then landing on the wire arch for just long enough to shake their feathers before they launched themselves into the water again. There were at least three different species because I recognised western gerygones (which I'd never noticed in our garden before although they are known to breed at Lake Karrinyup Country Club which is only a short distance from where I live), singing honeyeaters and brown honeyeaters but I'm pretty sure there were others - and all so intent on their shower bath that they were paying no attention to the others.

Then, once the sprinklers were off, the brown honeyeaters put on a spectacular display of aerial acrobatics swooping in elegant twists and turns as they snatched insects out of the air. It was a rare sight and extraordinary to watch.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Fun? I Don't Think So.

Today I had some business at the local shopping centre. I needed to make a couple of purchases, have a haircut and renew my driver's licence plus have lunch with an old friend - the last was the fun bit. Sounds fairly simple, doesn't it. At least that's what I thought.

Things started well. I had my haircut - and ended up looking considerably better than I have for some months. Then I went to the Post Office to renew my licence. While I was standing in the queue I noticed a 16 GB USB stick on sale. Half price and just what I was looking for. Brilliant. I handed over my money and lined up to have my photo taken and sign the form.

With my USB stick in my handbag I set off to make my other purchases before catching up with my friend. As I went into the supermarket the alarm screamed. I didn't take much notice because I wasn't the only one going through at the time. I wandered off to find the moisturiser I needed. No luck. Okay, I'll try somewhere else and besides I need to put some prescriptions in at the pharmacy. I go past the alarm which screams again. Why? I have nothing from the shop. Oh well. The girl on the checkout ignores the noise and waves me through.

I walk across to the pharmacy and the alarm screams. This is getting ridiculous. I leave my prescriptions - and find they don't have the moisturiser I want either. There's a space for it on the shelf but there's none there. So I decide to try the other pharmacy - and as I leave the alarm ... Well, I'm sure you know what it does. I'm a regular customer so they wave me through anyway.

You can guess what happens at the second pharmacy, can't you. Screaming alarm, no sign of the specific moisturiser I want but helpful suggestions as to where else I might try and more screaming alarm as I leave.

Okay there's still Big W to try. Nope, they don't have it, either, but they do have alarms. I'm fed up by now and head off to meet my friend for lunch at David Jones restaurant and, guess what? Yep, more alarms, but at least I'm going in so no-one's interested. I'm sitting there telling my friend my tale of woe when it hits me. It's the USB packaging. For some reason the barcode is setting off the alarms. Oh goody.  Okay I'll take off the packaging and leave it inside the shop and it'll be fine, won't it. Except there are instructions on the inside of the packaging and I'll need them when I get home - and I still have at least two shops I need to go to before I go home.

Finally I decide to take out the packaging whenever I go into a shop and show whoever is on the checkout the problem. It works and then the wonderful lady on the checkout at one shop says, "I know something that works sometimes.' She performs a little sleight of hand using her barcode register then tests it on the alarm and magically it's stopped. The relief -  although I still haven't found the one essential product I've been looking for.

I go back to the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions and no noise. Bliss. Maybe I should ask if they have the moisturiser I couldn't find before out the back. 'Yes, we have that. Here it is' and where before there was an empty space there it is. Success at last and I can go home.