Books, Books, Beautiful Books


I just saw a picture of my brother’s first grandchild, Teddy, with a pile of books entirely coverering his lap. It was part of a message from his Mum announcing that she has decided to become an Usborne sales consultant.

The picture reminded me of the important place books held in my childhood and the place they hold, thanks to me, in my daughter’s life.

When I was a small child I suffered from constant, chronic asthma. I was always missing school and my Mum often had to take me along to Uni lectures and tutorials as she juggled a sick child with study.

My family are all big readers. Mum swears I taught myself to read on summer vacation in Surfer’s Paradise almost out of boredom. Mum would buy my brother and I magazines and books to keep us occupied while she and my Dad read on the beach. My father wasn’t as big a reader as the rest of the family but on vacation he read Ian Fleming, Len Deighton and John Le Carré. I would flick through picture books and picture magazines (Treasure was my favourite, Graeme had Look & Learn that had less pictures and more text). So one vacation, when I was a little over three and a half, while flicking through Treasure on the beach I apparently managed to connect the pictures and words in “Treasure” well enough to start reading.

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Hiding From The Heat


Here are some notes from two days hiding from the heat in shopping centres.

First, bigger shopping centres have better air conditioning and better food courts. Marrickville Metro might have free parking but Broadway is a better hiding spot. It also has more stores for “window shopping”. The Australia Post outlet at Broadway is open 7 days, which is why I went there today.

Talking of parking, the man punching tickets at Hoyts will let you sneak in and get your parking ticket stamped for an extra free hour even if you haven’t seen a movie if your cool about it. I had my parking ticket in my hand and said “Excuse me, I just need to get my ticket stamped” and he let me walk the few feet to the machine. Oh, and I did it before I had my bags of shopping. I guess he doesn’t care if I’m scamming a few bucks off the parking company.

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A Smaller Life


Today’s Daily Prompt is “The Things We Leave Behind”.

Over the past four weeks I have left behind a grat deal.

I moved from a three bedroom house to a small bedsit and many years of accumulated “stuff” had to go.

Letting go of furniture was easier than I thought. I had several pieces from my parents that I thoughtI had an emotional attachment to but when the decision came it was easy to let them go. They are just objects, large ones at that, and memories persist without them.

A number of smaller objects stayed because they strongly invoked not just memories of people but memories of them at a particular point in time or space.

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Summer Storms


Today’s Daily Prompt is “Storm”. The moment I saw the word I thought of the summer storms of my childhood. The Newcastle “Southerly Buster”.

A day in the summer school holidays. Scorching hot. The air would be hot and dry, the sky clear. It didn’t slow down my friends and I, we would continue playing with sweat pouring off us, though if one of the yards had a sprinkler going it was hard to resist playing in the water. If no sprinklers were available then perhaps we would climb into the huge oak tree in the empty block of land near the start of the street, perhaps we would retreat into the bush behind the houses on one side of the road to find a cool corner.

Some time after lunch you could start to see the Southern sky becoming darker and darker, starting to threaten. Then late afternoon it would come. First the cooling southerly wind the a few minutes later the pouring rain. Huge drops of water splashing into the quickly forming puddles. Gutters already running full.

We would stay out watching the storm approach and when the rain started pouring run for home, often soaked by the time we arrived there.

The simple joys of a bunch of young boys.

Home, Sweeter Home


One of his best known works, a product of his ...

One Mondrian’s best known works, a product of his De Stijl period. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) – A garage door in Newcastle, NSW perhaps!

Today’s Daily Prompt was “What are the earliest memories of the place you lived in as a child? Describe your house. What did it look like? How did it smell? What did it sound like? Was it quiet like a library, or full of the noise of life? Tell us all about it, in as much detail as you can recall.”

I have no memory of the absolute first home I lived in, the family left when I was only one and moved into a brand new home in a quite new suburb. I lived in that house for almost eleven years.

My parents could probably have been described as a young, upwardly mobile couple with a couple of kids. That could apply to several of the couples with new homes close to us. Nobody knew the term “yuppy” and Australia was full of young couples riding the post war success of the country. This was the time that Prime Minister John Howard used as his yardstick of the “lucky country”.

When I returned to the house after an absence of many years the first thing that struck me was how short the street was. In my memory it extended a long way with a huge hill for billy carts. In reality the hill was only a hundred metres long or so, the whole street less than five hundred. Continue reading

No, I Won’t Post Once A Week


WordPress

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

There is a large bunch of bloggers who have put a graphic on their blog proclaiming that they will post once a day or once a week for the entire year.

I’m not one of them.

Sorry, but I like to publish posts that have value and meaning. I can’t do that every day or every week. When I post I like to think it is worth reading and there are times that this depressed, worn out writer can barely manage to drag himself out of bed and put in a day’s work.

Lately I’ve been suffering. Four weeks ago I stopped taking my anti-depressants and stopped seeing my therapist and the one real change was that my energy levels dropped. Getting to work was hard enough, writing and editing a blog post impossible.

One of the things I decided a while ago was that I’m not going to make any promises about posting to this blog and I’m not going to feel guilty when I don’t. I think quality is more important than posting too often.

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Markdown Comes To Wordpress


markdown-example-w-preview

markdown-example-w-preview (Photo credit: ChrisL_AK)

I have a confession to make. I’m a total nerd when it comes to text and text to HTML conversion systems. You see plain text is just so easy to type and plain text files never cause problems years later when save formats change. Then you just need a way of encoding format in the plain text files.

If you work in a good command line environment there are also a large number of tools that work on plain text files. Unix was actually developed as a document management system – that was how Thompson and Ritchie got the funding to do it from their bosses at Bell.

It was a Unix system, man and mm files, that was my first introduction to specifying formatting in a text file. The drawback of systems such as those that we used under Unix was that they were hard to read – here’s an example of a man file:

\&\fIperldoc\fR looks up a piece of documentation in .pod format that is embedded
in the perl installation tree or in a perl script, and displays it via
\&\f(CW*(Cpod2man | nroff \-man | $PAGER\*(C'\fR. (In addition, if running under HP-UX,
\&\f(CW\*(C
col -x*(C’\fR will be used.) This is primarily used for the documentation for
the perl library modules.
.PP

This is a particularly convoluted example but you get the idea – not easy to read.

When web pages came along several projects struggled with a way of making it easier to write web pages with systems that allowed the user to write in simpler syntaxes that were easily translated into HTML. BBCode, from the Universal BBS, was one of the first.

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In The Name Of Love


KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Today’s Daily Prompt, “Tell someone you’re proud of just how proud you are.”, comes for me at an opportune moment. In a little more than a month my daughter Jessica will be turning 21 and I will be giving a couple of speeches. These will, of course, be tales of love and pride.

I am immensely proud of Jessica and have been for many, many years. Read my post ‘Person of The Year’ for an example of my daughter’s capacity for love.

I look at Jessica now and see a strong, intelligent, capable young woman whom I love deeply.

It does seem a little strange to feel pride at her and her achievements. What did I do? Dictionary.com defines pride (in one instance) as “pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself” and I think it is the reflected credit we are talking about when we say we are “proud” of someone.

Is my pride a pride in achievements? Jessica has achieved many things in her 21 years, she has been a success in such things as debating and dance aerobics and I am happy and pleased at these but my pride lives at a deeper level than achievements.

Is my pride a pride in actions? Jessica acts as a good person, a good friend and a loving daughter and grand-daughter. I am happy that this is my daughter but my pride is more than this.

I see the whole person in front of me and it is this image that fills me with pride. Despite she has not lived with me since she was 3 I spent many years doing a lot of driving between Sydney and Newcastle so that we could spend time together and I would like to think that during those weekends and holidays I had a fair amount of influence on Jessi. I tried to show her a wide and varied world, I tried to show her an accepting, caring and loving person.

So when I look at Jessica and see a fine woman with a strong sense of self, a loving heart and a fine mind with much promise and the energy and skills to carry herself forward to anywhere she wants to take herself I feel a strong sense of pride. More than this I know that no matter what she chooses to do and where she goes in the years to come nothing will shake my love and pride.

Rubbish Retail


dick smith

dick smith (Photo credit: sensesmaybenumbed)

All you people who complain that it’s the GST and the Aussie dollar that makes us all buy online, I’ve got a story for you.

I broke my Kindle. I tripped on the back step and, as well as collecting some bruises, I slammed the Kindle on the floor and got coffee all over it. I thought it was going to be OK, but two days later it refused to charge.

Wednesday morning I gave up and went looking to buy a new one. Unfortunately Amazon only sells through a small number of retailers locally and none of them offer overnight delivery.

Dick Smith does carry Kindles, but my favourite Dick Smith store was out of stock. The young man on the phone suggested I try “Click and Collect” — where I buy on the web site and it tells me which stores I can pick up from. (That might be why it’s my favourite Dick Smith: good staff there.)

“Click and Collect” told me that a nearby store had them, so I paid my money and set off to the shopping centre for my morning errands and shopping.

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Déjà vu


English: WordPress Logo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I guess it has to happen. Coming up with a Daily Prompt seven days (or is it six?) a week must be a hard thing to do and a constant strain. I don’t envy “michelle w” the task.

Today’s Daily Prompt is “If you had the opportunity to live a nomadic life, traveling from place to place, would you do it? Do you need a home base? What makes a place “home” to you?”

Back on the 7th, just two weeks ago, the Daily Prompt was “If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?”

Not identical but quite similar.

While we are looking at prompts lets go to the site ‘Plinky’ which also offers a prompt every day. Scroll down and have a look at the prompt for July 14. Look familiar? Yes, there it is, our Daily Prompt for today with exactly the same words.

I’ve also seen this happen in the opposite direction where Plinky “borrows” a prompt, sometimes changing a word or two, from our Daily Prompt.

I’ve seen the similarity on a few other occasions, though this is one of the few times I’ve had a look at the date stamps to attempt to sort out exactly what happened.

I wonder if what has happened here is that after the first Daily Prompt about the nomadic life Plinky borrowed the idea, changing the words a little, and then Michelle saw it and thought “That’s a great idea” and in her hurried state didn’t recognise her own handiwork?

What do you think? Is it OK for this borrowing to be done, particularly without credit? Did you notice the similarity? Do you think my theory might be right?

Oh, and by the way, I answered the first nomadic Daily Prompt here.