Starbucks opened their first branch in Hobart this month. It's in the old bank building on the corner of Collins Street and the Elizabeth Street Mall, where the MBF office used to be.
Passing by, I dragged my sister in for a coffee out of curiosity. I'd never even seen a Starbucks, let alone been inside one, but you can't not know about the chain unless you live under a rock.
It was comfortable enough inside, but they need a little tweaking. For example, there was a rack of CDs that had no prices visible, the cappuccino had no chocolate on top(this may be a cultural thing) and Julie's Flat White was much too milky in spite of a special request for not-too-much-milk.
It wasn't an unpleasant experience, but I don't see any need to repeat it. I'd rather patronise shops like Ephah in the Bank Arcade.
I was surprised (but pleasantly) to discover that you can now get free copies on-line of nearly all the stories of H. Beam Piper, one of my favourite authors of the 1960s. (One of his stories was on the cover of the first issue of Astounding Science Fiction that I ever bought.)
There's a whole shipload of great science fiction at sites like Many Books.
Meanwhile if you want to write your own novel, it's almost November. That means that it's time for NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.
How many novels have been written through NaNoWriMo?
1999: 21 participants and six winners
2000: 140 participants and 29 winners
2001: 5,000 particpants and more than 700 winners
2002: 13,500 participants and around 2,100 winners
2003: 25,500 participants and about 3,500 winners
2004: 42,000 participants and just shy of 6,000 winners
2005: 59,000 participants and 9,769 winners.
A "winner" is anybody who successfully writes a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
I thought about it in 2004 but chickened out. In 2005 I took a deep breath and started typing on November 1st. By the end of November I'd completed my 50,000 word novel with a couple of days to spare.
It was a strain but I got it finished. I was glad I took it on; it seemed that I'd accomplished something even if nobody but me ever read the story (a science fiction story titled "Scorched by Darkness" – it took me about six months to notice that I'd borrowed a lot from Shakespeare's "The Tempest" for the basic plot).
Will I go in it again this year?
Last week I knew that Kay was very concerned about her power bill and the threatening letters she'd received from the power company. I tried to make some enquiries on her behalf, but I couldn't get her on the telephone to discuss the matter.
Finally I went round there and rang the doorbell. I've been trying to ring you, I said. "I haven't had any phone calls for a couple of days," she said in puzzlement.
I walked over to her phone and picked it up. "There's someone talking on it," she exclaimed.
Yes, I said, it's the television set in your bedroom – you didn't hang up the extension.
She looked surprised. I suggested that it might be a good idea to check the phone for messages every day, perhaps at breakfast or before she went to bed.
"I don't eat breakfast," she said.
Yes, but you could....
"I never eat breakfast."
In any event you might want ...
"I haven't eaten breakfast for 46 years."
I'M NOT SAYING YOU SHOULD EAT BREAKFAST, I bellowed. I'm just saying you should check for messages regularly!
ABC Roadshow comes to Tasmania
Saturday 21 October: York Park gates, Launceston
Monday 23 October: Campbell Town main street
Wednesday 25-Saturday 28 October: Royal Hobart Show
Monday 30 October: Huonville
"The ABC's Roadshow Trailer is coming to Tasmania, and will be travelling to communities across the state. Come along and visit the trailer: experience the magic of making TV and Radio for yourself, meet ABC faces and voices, all free of charge. The Country Hour will broadcast their program from the trailer from Monday 23 October; meet ABC Northern Tasmania's Shane Foley (Breakfast) and Roisin McCann (Drive) for a free BBQ during the Country Hour at Campbelltown; bring your children to meet the teddies Amy, Lou Lou and Morgan at the Royal Hobart Show."
I might go out and see them at the Show. Geoff Richardson from the weekend radio show The Coodabeen Champions will be broadcasting from the trailer.