There’s a change in the air…

“The time has come,” the Walrus said…

Way back in 2006, I invested quite a decent chunk of my hard-earned into a new computer. I was running my own business back then and needed to upgrade from what I had so that I could run some proper accounting software, as well as other business-related programs. The new unit was a Dell Dimension 9200 and from the minute I plugged it in, I thought I was driving the Rolls Royce of computers – it even had 2 cores, whatever that meant. Other than limitations on hard-drive storage space and available on-board memory, there wasn’t a whole lot wrong with my old pc; but the new one was out of this world and what I was able to achieve with it was unbelievable.

I’m no technofile though, and with all this new power at my fingertips I lost sight of what was going on in the technological world – which is strange, given that everywhere I went I carried my mobile phone in the palm of my hand and I upgraded that piece of equipment every year!

Jump forward 10 years and many things had changed. Computers had evolved so much… chips were far more compact and storage systems were going the same way, while at the same time becoming more expansive and far more transportable. In line with these improvements, regularly used software programs were doubling and tripling in size every few years and my old new Dell was struggling to keep up. I upgraded from the Vista operating system to Windows 8 in 2014 and the hardware I had on board was able to manage that, but when the automatic upgrade to version 10 happened in 2015, my old beast was pushed to a level beyond where it was ever meant to go.

I started writing in 2010 and managed to write 5 of my books on my old clunker – God only knows how! Had it not been for the help of an old hand-me-down laptop as backup, I might never have succeeded. From 2014 on, I started experiencing freezes at the most inopportune times and probably lost far more of my work than I care to think about.

Enter the new…

My old Dell is still working – I’m using it right now to write this post, but it’s long overdue for retirement and I’m long overdue in making the change. About a week or so ago, a friend pointed out the fact that the mobile phone I was holding in my hand right then had more computing power than my old desktop does – and it was only then that I realised I hadn’t yet let the old thing go because of some sadly misplaced emotional attachment. It’s been my comforter in times of need, a friend whenever things grew grim, a window on the outside world when I found it difficult to step beyond my front door… my companion, when my world grew so dark I thought I might never see the end.

I sat down to do some editing last Friday – just two days ago – and right in the middle of a really important sequence, my pc froze again and I had to reboot it to get it to work properly. No longer able to use a lack of available funds as an excuse, when it fired up, the first thing I did was go online and visit the Dell website – the way I figured it, the last product I bought from them lasted far longer than it was ever designed to last and that’s good enough in my books. I ordered a brand new replacement – once again, the moustache twirling, creme de la creme of what was available within my budget. It’s more stable, much faster, has more on-board memory, heaps more storage capacity – and it’s got 6 cores!!!

I received the shipment notice yesterday and I’m expecting the new arrival this coming week – and it won’t come a moment too soon!

gg… over and (control, alt, delete) out!

 

Home in time for Christmas :)

Here you go… they were still warm when they arrived, although the box was left sitting out in the sun for a while before it was discovered. Nevertheless, that minor detail didn’t stop me from announcing them as being quite literally ‘hot off the press!’

These are proof-only copies and, thanks to CreateSpace’s recently introduced revision to their rules regarding the number of proofs an author can order, they are in VERY limited supply. Two are already spoken for – so if you want one, get in quick!

GG… over and out!

Sorry Sister!

There I was, going innocently about my work on Milton Road in the wee hours of Friday morning when a friend tapped me on the shoulder and told me I was being observed. He pointed behind me and when I turned and saw this, for a moment I was scared absolutely shi—–!

Oops… sorry Sister!

GG… over and out!

Back once more from the point of no return…

Hi all!

I’ve just returned from another wonderfully relaxing long-weekend at The Fabulous Kirkley Manor. I always come away from the place reinvigorated and raring to go, and the posts I leave after my impromptu visits never fail to create some interest. I’m acutely aware that you would all like to know exactly where it is, but unfortunately, it’s hidden behind a veil of tight-lipped secrecy – I’m under threat of torture and a severe smacked-bottom if ever I reveal it’s true location.

However, for those of you who are eager to know more and like to play guessing games, on this occasion I was able to rattle off a quick snap of the inviting architecture from across the road when I went for a bit of a stroll, while mine host’s attention was elsewhere (see photo).

I’m not sure what they were up to at the time, but I think they were barbecuing something because the smell wafting from the garden at the rear of their secluded private quarters was divine. There seemed to be a lot of chanting and dancing going on as well and I have no idea what that was all about. Curiosity got the better of me though and I tried to peek in through the ivy-covered trellis as I made my way past, but my attempt was thwarted by some very aggressive-looking crows. I thought the whole thing a bit odd for that time of day, but left them to it… each to their own habits, right?

Still, if you have a keen eye for detail, I’m sure you’ll be able to work out where it is.

On arrival, I was immediately impressed by the physical appearance of my wonderful friends and couldn’t help but admire them for the effort they’ve obviously been putting into their diet and exercise regimes. They’re none too keen on having their photos taken and I’m running the risk of upsetting them by doing this, but I caught them by surprise in this snap (below) when they came out to wave goodbye as I was leaving. Don’t you think they look great? I guess it all comes down to the way we see things as individuals, but it just goes to show the results one can achieve when you truly put your mind to something!

I was sitting at their table one evening, sipping away nonchalantly on a rustic old ale while they slurped on a fruity little blood-red number from  stone goblets – circa 1400’s? – trying to recall the last time I was there and figured it had to be at least a few years ago. My bad of course… too many distractions lately and too much wasting of time.

I’ll be back again early in the new year no doubt… perhaps I’ll make that the first stop on the long-awaited road-trip I’ve been planning, which I hope to begin mid next February.

Until next time…

GG… over and out!

Save The Box!

Not long now before this mother and daughter combination head off on an adventure of a lifetime. I know them personally and support them wholeheartedly in their attempt to raise awareness of and raise funds to help further research into these specific women’s health issues.

Every day on average in Australia, 4 women die as a result of some form of Gynaecological cancer. With successive governments restricting funding for such research programs, it’s up to us all as a community to plug the gaps and help in any way we can.

Please, give till it hurts! This link provides all the information you need to know in order to help.

https://www.facebook.com/Brony-and-Erin-Saving-the-box

I wish them godspeed on their forthcoming journey. I hope they have a whale of a time, that the trip enriches and changes their lives in immeasurable ways and that they return safely.

 

GG… over and out!

 

A change for the better…

My life took a dramatic turn a few weeks ago. After spending several years on a pile set aside for rejects and with the file listing my skills and knowledge gathering dust in the too hard basket, I was thrown an employment lifeline. The personal changes I’ve experienced over such a short period since then have been tremendous.

This afternoon, I received a short note containing some very positive feedback from my new employer and immediately, it reminded me of how it’s often the simpler things in life which can have the most life-altering affects.

As a result, I recalled some of the things I believe are the most important to keep in mind when it comes to holding it all together in the face of adversity. I’d like to share them with you.

Never let go of your sense of humour. There will always be something out there, or someone, that will always be trying to feed off what little energy you have left in reserve. Push them into the background, turn down their volume knob and ignore them. Instead, find a source that will provide a moment or two of laughter every day and better yet, give others a cause to laugh.

The reward from achieving this is priceless!

The day we stop learning is the day we start dying. Learn something new every day – whether it’s about yourself, about someone close to you, about the world you live in, about the people you share the world with or about the environment which surrounds you – and when you are planning your tomorrow, try to put something you’ve learned today to good use.

Learning is continued evidence of your connection to the outside world. Never forget – knowledge is power!

At the end of the day, in that wonderful period of silence between when you lay your head on the pillow and when you start to drift into the sub-conscious ether, take a few precious moments to reflect on the day, on your attitudes and behaviours and on the effect they had on others. Take note of the positives that came from what was and use them to plan what will be.

Each day must constitute a step forward in some way, even if your progress can only be measured in fairy-steps 🙂

When you wake each morning, go straight to the bathroom. If you share your home with others, it’s important that you lock the door behind you to ensure a minute or two of uninterrupted selfishness.

After completing your morning ritual, before you unlock the door and leave, take a good look in the mirror and say 4 complementary things about yourself. These could be based on your reflections of the previous evening and concentrating on any positives arising from the previous day will make it easier for you to approve of yourself.

You are worthy! Your life means something to someone! Setbacks are only ever temporary; and the only way you need to be looking is forward.

Life is full of hard-work experiences and frustrating dilemmas. Welcome them and embrace them. Break large challenges down into more manageable chunks and if there’s too much on your plate, remember the following: do one thing at a time, do it to the best of your abilities and try to get it right. What is absolutely forbidden is beating yourself up if you make an error. Mistakes happen and if nothing else, they are evidence that you are still human and haven’t yet become a vegetable. Things can be fixed easily – people can’t!

The question here is, how do you eat an elephant? The answer, in very small bites!

It’s extremely important that you reward yourself regularly for your achievements – however small. My personal preference is to tidy myself up and head out to a coffee shop for a flat-white and a muffin, but really, it comes down to whatever floats your boat. If you ever pass by my coffee shop of choice and see me gorging on something unhealthy, as long as you don’t poke fun at me, I’ll extend the same courtesy and forgive you your little peccadilloes 😉

In closing this one down, I’d also like to say that very little of what life throws at you is going to be fun. In most instances, my most fundamental rule is: keep calm and try your damndest not to hurt anyone!

We can’t control the curve on the ball that’s heading our way, so there’s no point in worrying about it. What we can control and what we must control is, what we do each day with what is presented to us. As I shut down each evening I ask myself three questions: did I do the best I could do today with the gifts I was granted; what little self-improvement will I concentrate on tomorrow; and most importantly, when I achieve what I set out to do, what flavour muffin will I choose 🙂

 

GG… over and -mmmmmm… muffins!

Walk a mile in my shoes…

I really feel Joe South said it best when he penned the lyric:

If I could be you and you could be me for just one hour
If we could find a way to get inside each others mind
If you could see you through my eyes instead of your ego
I believe you’d be surprised to see that you’d been blind
Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes
Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes

I’ve been on the receiving end of a bit of thinly-veiled criticism on a few occasions recently and I’ve been stewing on them since they were delivered. To be honest, I really don’t mind if you pull apart my work and criticise what I do… that’s to be expected when I put my stories out in the public arena. I really don’t mind if you have issues with the way I go about doing things, if your opinion is contrary to mine or even when you vehemently disagree with my point of view – because beneath the surface, we’re all different.

What I will not stand for, however, is when people jump to conclusions and open their mouths without taking time to find out the truth first, and in particular, when they choose to turn their criticism into a personal attack. Do you not understand that when you do that, it says far more about you than it ever will about me?

I’m not a perfect person. At different stages of my life, things may not have turned out quite how I’d hoped they would and I might not now be in a position you believe I should be in – but that shouldn’t be taken as an admission I should be held responsible for all of the things which have gone wrong. The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, and all that.

I’m generally a quiet and decent man who always tries to do the right thing by everyone I come in contact with – and if that isn’t good enough in your eyes and if in some way I don’t meet your expectations, tough! It’s who and what I am.

So again, in trying to do the right thing by those I’ve come into contact with, I’ll leave you with just a little bit of advice – a lesson, if you care to look at it that way. It’s free, gratis and comes directly to you at no cost.

Before you abuse, criticise and accuse, try walking a mile in their shoes!

 

gg… over and out!

This is bad… VERY bad!

No, no, no… this just won’t do at all! Some things in the Universe are just not meant to be tampered with – the formula which led to Doctor Who being one of the all-time great Sci-fi TV shows is one of them.

It’s true… I’ve cheered on the good ones and thrown my old shoes at the screen when they brought out the bad ones, but until now, they all had at least one thing in common.

Look, I get it – I really do. I’ve stood in front of many a group of corporate employees over the years, championing a culture of equality and inclusion in the workplace and beyond that, in society in general; and I’d be one of the first to applaud when anyone representing a minority group, or one which has been subjected to gross forms of discrimination since history began, rises to the top and is duly rewarded for their efforts. In this case, however, I have an issue with the choice for the new Doctor for the 2018 series’ and it has nothing to do with Jodie’s acting abilities.

I suppose, now that I think of it, the root cause of my issue can be traced back to when Elizabeth Sladen was playing the role of Sarah Jane Smith alongside Doctors 3 and 4 – Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker (1973-1976). It might have begun before the introduction of Sarah Jane, in that her predecessors may have had their own ways of reining in their own wayward Doctors, but my first memory of one of the time-travelling alien’s companions outsmarting and outwitting their guide on their respectful jaunts through time and space sits firmly with Elizabeth’s character. In my mind, she laid the groundwork for the many companions who followed… to the point where companions were no longer limited to just being companions, but took their own place in the spotlight and became major contributors in plans for survival, and oversaw the downfall  and destruction of such evil aliens as Daleks, Cybermen, Silurians, Ice Warriors, Sontarans (my personal favourites) etc, and who could forget the Family Slitheen, from Raxacoricofallopatoria?

Don’t worry… I’m coming quickly to my point and it’s this – the new (female) Doctor is, no doubt, also going to select her own travelling companions for the duration of her time at the controls of the Tardis and unless the BBC has gone completely troppo, one would have to assume the majority of them will be male. So now we’re going to be faced with the situation where a female will once again be continuously upstaged, outfoxed, belittled, berated and suffer the indignity of being forced to stand in the shadow of her lesser male companions.

Nice one, Chris Chibnall et al. I can’t help but wonder – did you really think this choice through, or did you just cave to the pressure being exerted by a mostly fleeting audience?

 

GG… off my soapbox… over and out!

 

All in a day’s work…

Sometimes, sitting down to write these posts is kind of like entering a confessional.

I’ll admit it, I’m a wordsmith – always have been. My fascination with words, their construction and derivatives etc, can be traced all the way back to the days of learning the alphabet from flash cards at the Haulgh County Primary School in Bolton, Lancashire, in the early 60’s. Oh my God, that was so long ago!

Later, I became a huge fan of the colour-coded SRA Cards – each being a test of reading ability and comprehension. These were the tools of education and learning, but for me, they were something else. For a young boy seeking every opportunity to escape the horrors of the world that surrounded him, when the SRA box came out, I was instantly transported to my happy place.

Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”was required high-school reading in 1971. This was the first time I recall reading beyond the story and seeing the cleverness of the writer. I left school a few years later and read “The Lord Of The Rings” while sitting on a train, doing a daily 2-hour commute to and from work. At the time I believed Tolkien’s skill, particularly in the first few chapters, was a continuation of where he left off in “The Hobbit”. However, from the commencement of Frodo’s journey, Tolkien’s maturity as a writer and the application of his skill went through the roof. From Bombadil right through to the end, I was captivated not only by the story, but by the obvious shifts in the writer’s ability.

I discovered King in my late teens and having not long emerged from a particularly dark place myself, immediately found myself drawn to his chosen genre. Stephen is another writer who, like Tolkien, shows a constant shift in his level of maturity as a writer. When you look a little deeper into the works of both men, it’s very difficult to reconcile that what they offer up later in their careers was written by the same hand that delivered their earlier works – such is the change in their abilities as writers as they honed their craft.

The changes they achieved are the same changes I aspire to. With each novel, each chapter and even each page, I try to do better than I did the day before and I can only hope my level of maturity as a writer emulates theirs.

I like to play when I write. I like to play with my characters and play with the emotions of my loyal reader. I like to write the kind of character you might hate one minute, but then when you turn the page, suddenly find yourself cheering for them and championing their cause. And then, on the very next page, you might find yourself hating them again – because I try to make my characters a true and realistic reflection of the people you meet in everyday life. They’re your friends, then they’re not your friends, and then they’re your friends again.

Back to wordsmithing… I enjoy resurrecting old classics, dusting them off and breathing new life into them. Today, for instance, I used the word ‘pugilist’, and recently, words like ‘shenanigans’, ‘gormless’ and ‘cretin’ have all had a run. It’s my way of injecting a humorous aspect into my writing, although taken in context, you might never know.

It’s getting late and I’m bordering on somnambulistic, and on that note…

GG… over and out!

Houston, we have a problem!

 

The dreaded #13 curse has struck again!

I probably need to take a longer look into it, but I’m sure there’s a pattern emerging in the process I’ve adopted for writing. It seems every time I get to chapter 13 in my books, something beyond my control conspires to derail my plan and sets me back in terms of projected completion – sometimes, by months!

I don’t know whether it’s a psychological thing in that, having turned the corner of the story I’m writing and being on the straight run for home, I take the foot off the gas and get lazy, or whether it’s more of a coincidental matter and that the problem will iron itself out when I’m finally able to take full control of my environment. One thing for sure is, it has nothing to do with creative flow because my brain just simply won’t stop working. I have a very clear picture of where the remaining chapters have to go and how they need to be structured, but I just can’t seem to climb into a decent physical groove or find the right headspace required to get it done. At the moment, my ‘other’ job is a major contributor to my frustration and I can only hope I’ll be able to mesh the two pursuits together more smoothly in the not too distant future.

Incidentally, have you ever wondered how Triskaidekaphobia – the fear and superstition synonymous with the number 13 – became as culturally widespread as it is? Invariably, when you go looking for patterns, you pre-program your brain in such a way that you find find what you’re looking for quite easily – like when you work out the solution to a word-find puzzle, or Sudoku. Looking for patterns in the occurrence of numbers is no different; however, some of the root-causes of superstition surrounding the number 13, and their cross-cultural similarities, are really quite fascinating.

Other factors in my life may well be contributing to the temporary stall of Chapter 13, but at least, dear reader, I’m still scribbling stuff here for your amusement.

GG… over and out!