Friday, September 18, 2020

The future belongs to ... me?

 11:30 PM 3/08/2020
Things that made me roll my eyes last week:
1. The authors of a new book about tensions in the Royal family who say they've interviewed hundreds of people while writing their book.  I'm assuming this didn't include anybody who is actually part of the Royal family?
2. The Australian lawyer who had a falling-out with a Facebook group made up of female barristers and solicitors and sent them a message saying he'd sue them all and ruin their careers.  Even lawyers seem incapable of understanding you don't put stuff like that on-line  --  it can go all round the world and stay on the Internet somewhere forever.  Just don't do it.
3. And Donald Trump .... well, enough said.

THE SHARE-OUT (1962) - Mike's movie moment
Another concise little Edgar Wallace thriller.  Corporate crooks blackmail people into selling property at a cut price, but thieves will inevitably fall out.  Richard Vernon is one of the baddies, Bernard Lee is (of course) the man from Scotland Yard, and William Russell takes the lead as a shady private eye who keeps us guessing.  60 minutes of no-nonsense entertainment.

2:15 PM 12/08/2020
OK, this week was fairly busy.  Out and about after church on Sunday, then on Monday out with friends for lunch and drove around with them for a while, then out to dinner.  Tuesday afternoon there were 14 of us at the Croquet Club,  then four of us at the Quiz Night  --  coincidentally, lost both on a tie-breaker!  Wednesday doctor's appointment on-line  (still feels a bit unnatural to me but it is what it is). A bit quieter for the next couple of days, then Saturday the usual round of lunch and op-shopping.  

2:05 PM 14/08/2020
As we get closer to Spring, the weather becomes erattic from day to day.  One day this week it was so pleasant outside that the cat went out in the afternoon for a walk around the backyard.  The following day it was so dark and drizzly he didn't want to go outside at all. [The goose seems to have settled in under the carport as his permanent bedroom, in spite of being officially classed as waterfowl.]  At least wet days aren't as cold as recent weeks  --  one morning I was making breakfast and couldn't butter my toast because the cloud of steam above the plate kept fogging up my glasses.

1:53 PM 15/08/2020
Muldoon asked why they were doing so much work putting in those concrete buildings behind the car park in Argyle Street.  I told him "I don't know for sure, but I suspect the City Council are putting in a bunker where they'll retreat when Hobart traffic finally becomes permanently gridlocked."

2:03 PM 16/08/2020
After a couple of months, we were finally allowed to resume going to church on a Sunday.  It's a bit strange having every
second pew closed off for social distancing, and of course there's the ubiquitous bottle of hand-sanitiser at the front door.  Last week a friend gave me a lift down south past Kettering where half a dozen of us met for lunch, the first time since the pandemic hit.  This week I took to the stage to read from the Bible for the first time in months.  I thought I had prepared myself, but I hadn't counted on the new lightweight lectern which wobbled alarmingly every time I touched it!

1:36 PM 19/08/2020
Lateley I've been watching some ten year old episodes of NCIS on television.  Some of them I remember seeing, some I don't.  One I didn't recall was "Gone", episode 8 of the tenth season from 2012.  In this story, Agent Gibbs seeks information from an old contact Miranda Pennebaker (played by Alex Kingston)  --  you have to wonder if the scriptwriter had been watching her in DOCTOR WHO, because her character speaks and behaves in an almost identical manner to Professor River Song.  If she had called Gibbs "Sweetie" just once I would have marked this down as an unofficial cross-over with The Doctor !

9:57 PM 19/08/2020
This afternoon at home.  Ring-Ring Ring-Ring.  "Hello?"
"Hi this is Lucy from Tree Services.  I'm just phoning to see if you received our account."
"Oh yes.  I had rather a lot of bills this month so I'm paying them in alphabetical order.  You should get your money next week."
"Thank you for calling.  Goodbye."  Click.

5:23 PM 20/08/2020
Met Keith for coffee on Thusday afternoon then gave him a lift to pick up some artwork he wanted to buy.  While I waited for him in the car, I took advantage of the spare moment to write two Haiku poems.  Stay tuned.

See those words on walls:
A community haiku
For all Huon eyes.

-- Haiku for Huonville 2020

Robots a-scuttling
As a world goes to ruin,
The blind see again.

-- Haiku for War Of The Worlds
  5:23pm 20/08/2020

6:21 PM 25/08/2020
Agenda for Tuesday:
01 Feed poultry
02 Breakfast, feed cat
03 Check e-mails and Facebook
04 Croquet Club
05 Coffee and supermarket
06 Pay Taswater bill
07 Chicken Dinner
08 Quiz Night

4:47 PM 27/08/2020
A sunny afternoon and I spent the lunch hour at the table outside the back door enjoying the fine weather.  Even my hairless cat ventured outdoors for a few minutes.  I listened to a recent episode of the radio serial THE ARCHERS without a lot of enjoyment  --  the BBC reaction to the Coronavirus was to convert the show into a series of monologues and soliloquies.
A shower of rain came over about 4:30 and when I went out to feed the poultry I found a lot of them had taken refuge under the carport, disapproving of the first signs of wet weather.
I'll sort of miss THE WAR OF THE WORLDS on Thursday nights.  I know a lot of people found it boring or uninvolving, but it's the only television I've seen for a long time that's really drawn me in.  Not a straight adaptation of the novel, but I found it compulsive viewing.   

2:44 PM 28/08/2020
Some people apparenty report unsettling dreams during the pandemic.  Not usually a problem for me, but some of my dreams are stranger than others.  For example, this week I dreamed I visited a friend in an aged-care facility -- quite understandable since I have not seen her since the virus scare began.  But last night I had a dream in which I could only sleep on the left hand edge of my bed because the rest of the space was taken up with $500,000 in cash!  What's more, I have a vague recollection that it was originally a million dollars but I had to split with somebody.  

What ^has^ my subconscious been up to overnight??


1:28 PM 30/08/2020
It's nice to be back in church on Sunday mornings, even with the social distancing and hand sanitising rules.  But I can't help thinking back to the old days -- printing up the weekly bulletin, bringing in supplies for morning tea, and counting up the collection after the service.  All gone now, gone with the wind, swept away by the stormy blast of the pandemic.  Our old routines are gone, we need to get used to whatever lies ahead for us.  

Such stuff as dreams are made of ... (Yikes!)

 Friends stopped in, some with wings and some without.

10:31 PM 20/07/2020
Bought three albums of Harry Nile stories from the classic radio store, and finished downloading them at last -- last year I didn't download my stuff in time and it was a real hassle.  I've got HOUR OF MY DEATH (1994), PAID IN FULL (2007) and SILENT WITNESS (2006).  Now to find three months to listen to them all.

11:15 AM 21/07/2020
In Australia years ago, bestsellers used to be determined by surveying a dozen bookshops in a big city and extrapolating their sales.  So a new novel that was in high demand would get a good spot on the bestseller list.  It was a bit like television survey figures.  Then computerised cash registers and bar codes came along, and for the first tine you could know *exactly* how many copies had been sold of every title.  I think the first week the new system came in, critics were surprised to see the best selling volume was something like THE BIG BOOK OF STAIN REMOVAL TIPS.

A few days ago I was wondering if I was drinking too much coffee this winter.  I may have found a solution.  Going through the crockery, I found a mug that is 20% larger than the one I've been using.  That means I can have more than one mug of coffee without making a second one.  So I can have four of these instead of six of the other size  Problem solved..

Kerensky, the last Prime Minister of pre-Soviet Russia, fled to the US and married an Australian heiress.  A recent profile notes that "The couple later lived in a farmhouse near the New York-Connecticut border, living a social life and entertaining friends with croquet."  
(Hey, you need something to keep your mind off things when you know that both Hitler and Stalin want you dead.)

Browsing through the DVDs in the op shop, I was momentarily transfixed by one movie whose leading lady rejoiced in the wonderful name of Shonda Whipple.  I thought this was such a great name that I was tempted to write a story featuring her, but I believe she's still alive and with my luck she would sue me.

FLAT 2  (1962)  --  Mike's Movie Moment
A victim's boyfriend sneaks into a blackmailer's flat to sort him out, but another man's already there.  Neither of them realise the crook is already dead.  Then Scotland Yard arrive.  John Le Mesurier, Jack Watling and Bernard Archard star  and there's some nice crisp black-and-white photography in this Edgar Wallace B-movie.

3:16 PM 29/07/2020
Last weekend it was three years since my sister Julie died.  Doesn't seem possible.  Is that twelve months since the second anniversary?  Sunday afternoon I drove Ian & Pat out to the cemetary so we could put some flowers on her graveyard and reflect on her passing.  Flights of white cockatoos wheeled overhead as we stood there in the winter sunshine, talking over our memories.  In the evening, I dug out a packet of Russian Caravan tea I came across in the kitchen recently;  it was one of Julie's favorites, so I made a pot and raised a cup of tea to her memory.  
As they'd say in Esperanto, "Ripozi pace, Julie."

1:51 PM 30/07/2020
The "to do" list for Tuesday

  • Doctor's appointment  -- still can't get used to consulting my GP by phone, what happens if I want to ask "what's causing my hand to look like this, Doc?"
  • Croquet club -- have to say I didn't realize how much I'd missed playing until we'd had a couple of weeks back.  Although I didn't plan on spending an hour and a quarter on the first game, it just worked out that way.
  • Quiz night wasn't bad either, though we didn't finish in the money.  It was fun just being there, in spite of the questions we got wrong.  Asked to say which element was named after Ernest Rutherford, I wrote down "ruthenium"  --  not right.  Our table is just next to the quiz-master, who continues to be amused by the banter and discussions in our team.

12:30 PM 31/07/2020
I'm not often troubled by nightmares or bad dreams, but I had an odd experience the other night.  I woke, got up and started going about my day, then found myself back in bed and realized it had only been a dream.  So I got up -- then found myself back in bed.  And again, and again.  I even said to myself "This is crazy.  That kind of thing only happens in the movies.  When I finally did wake up for real, I felt exhausted.
A little research told me this is called "false awakening"  --  there's even a name for what happened to me, it's called "nested dreams", dreams within dreams.  
It wasn't that upsetting.  I don't know what caused it, maybe I was under more stress than I realized.  I'm just happy if it's a one-off.

Friday, September 04, 2020

Tiring times in Tasmania

 6:14 PM 1/06/2020

Much discussion in the weekend press about the effects of the Coronavirus lockdown.  Stress, depression, insomnia, etc.  Recent discussions with a friend suggest that old-school science fiction fans might not be feeling the effects as much as other people.  Remember these were people who went through a phase where their main social outlet was reading fanzines and writing letters.  In those days, fans went through long spells between having anybody to talk to about their interests.  And if a fan is  stuck at home for days or weeks, he can always entertain himself by cataloguing his collection or re-shelving the books in his library in a different order.  
He or she might even emerge from lockdown with a vaguely disappointed "Over already?  I thought I would have got more done in my time at home."

2:12 PM 3/06/2020

Muldoon has never shown much interest in American politics so I should have been wary when he raised the subject.  "Even back in the Nixon era", he said, "an unpopular president had the benefit of an experienced foreign policy adviser like Henry Kissinger.  I've been trying to work out who the modern equivalent would be..."  (About there I realized where he was going, but it was too late to stop him.)
"... I wonder who's Kissinger now?"

1:17 PM 8/06/2020

Things that made me do a double take last week - seriously.
On the air, the TV newsman covering Vatican City who said "The Pope went into the chapel to pray to a higher power."  The customer at the coffee shop who wanted a cappucino with no froth. People who still can't pronounce the word "nuclear."  

9:58 PM 11/06/2020

This week we saw the lifting of some restrictions - it's almost three weeks since we had a new case of the virus in Tasmania.  I was able to go out and play croquet on a fine winter afternoon, though maybe I should have turned down the invitation to play a third game.  I was even able to stop at my favorite coffee shop on the way home.
But the winter is starting to bite.  Thursday I woke up and wondered why my fingers felt swollen.  It took me a few minutes to recognize the symptoms of chill-blains  --  haven't had a bad case for years.  I usually rely on the Gingko Biloba tablets to keep my circulation up.
And the evening was ominous.  I came home from the shops and checked the temperature -- it was 5 degrees at the Weather Bureau, but the "feels like" was only 1 degree.  My breath looked like a volcanic cloud as I went back and forth bringing in the groceries (we were right down to the last of the cat food, so staying home wasn't an option!).  
Listened to some episodes of THE ARCHERS podcast.   I am nearly to the end of the stories from the pre-Covid19 era, the next batch will be the "new look" episodes where both the actors and the characters will be facing lockdown.  :(
4:02 PM 23/06/2020
Monday was a really strange day.
 I was woken up at 3 a.m. when the smoke alarm had a tantrum and I had to get up and take the battery out.  Cast a wary eye around the house then went back to bed.
When I did get up later it was raining outside and I dug out my heavy boots for the first time since last winter.  Walking out into the back yard to feed the chickens, I had to detour around a four-foot long pool of water that wasn't there last night.
Then when I walked into the house, a fuse blew when I switched on the lights in the back of the house.
There was a meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. today down at Dynnyrne.  I don't enjoy driving in the rain, but I felt I had to make an effort -- I ended up steering with my right hand while I tried to clear condensation of the windscreen with a cloth in my left hand.   (Furthest I've been from home for a couple of months!)
Driving home wasn't too bad, until I pulled over to  let an ambulance pass me in Macquaie Street.  I sat there for a while before I decided there was no way I could get back into rush-hour traffic at twilight in the rain.  I wound up walking to the nearest restaurant and enjoying a hot bowl of soup before I managed to drive home, arriving at 7 p.m.
I fed the poultry but the goose didn't like the muddy conditions in the yard.  He got out and I found him comfortably curled up on the front lawn the next morning.
And it wasn't even Friday the 13th !!

11:34 PM 24/06/2020
Wednesday I went out to a meeting after lunch.  Then drove from Sandy Bay to Derwent Park for dinner with some friends.  Keith phoned and we talked about Saturday.  Message came in regarding the re-launch of the quiz team next week.  E-mails from Bocce Club and Croquet Club about their activities.
I'm beginning to miss the lockdown already.

5:27 PM 30/06/2020
One thing about last week's wet weather, it kept us from shivering.  One rainy day, the temperature hovered around 12C all day.  Even when it cleared up,  Sunday and Monday it was mild enough for me to let the cat out into the backyard in the middle of the day.  (He's not so keen about going out at night since he discovered the goose is sleeping under the table in the carport.)    Monday I stayed in, so a good time to pay some bills on-line;  during lockdown it was easy to push these things to the bottom of the "to do" list since every day felt like a long weekend.  But comes the time of reckoning.

Tuesday I went out for a couple of games of croquet.  I hadn't played for two weeks because of the weather, but strangely it seemed to help rather than hamper the standard of my play.  And it was nice to see a few familiar faces that hadn't been around for a while.  Speaking of which, tonight sees the resumption of the weekly quiz night, which has been in suspension for the last few months.  Let's see how rusty (or not) everyone is when the questions start flying.

Keith phoned.  Apparently he has a crisis. (Crisis On Infinite Earths that is!)

And so to bed...