Monday, 30 May 2016

Sleep deprivation

A fellow staff member was complaining at work today that she only had five hour’s sleep the night before.

Five hours! Sheer luxury.

For me, that’s the sort of sleep I sometimes crave to get. The kind of sleep I ache for. The kind of blissful, lengthy slumber that actual dreams can be made of.

Unless I’m taking a sedative to force the issue, that’s the kind of night’s sleep that can keep me going during the day’s when I’ve not been quite so lucky.

Eight hours I’ve long assumed is a myth propagated by an evil genius who wants to downplay the achievement of receiving any sleep in consecutive hours at all.

If it weren’t for viewing my darling achieve this same thing effortlessly, night after night, I would think it an imaginary proposition much like giving up sugar or eating a low-fat diet.

Damn my a-type personality that tries really hard to achieve things. Trying to achieve sleep is one of the things destined to make it stay far away.

Much like trying to knock it into my own head.

Doesn’t work.

Leaves bruises.

Leads to hopeless sobbing.

Until. . .

Finally. . .

Another successful night down. Only forty more years of this to go!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Introversion and appointments

You know the old phrase, “Your mouth’s writing a cheque that your body can’t cash?”

OK. Perhaps it’s not that old and perhaps you don’t know it, but I’m sure you can figure it out if you take a minute.

As an introvert I have a constant war raging inside of me. My brain is often thinking up sarcastic and witty retorts that have a way of flowing straight out of my mouth before I can stop them.

The downside is that as soon as the aforementioned retort is out of my mouth, people have a habit of turning and staring.

My brain likes being the centre of attention. Right up until the moment that it is, whereupon it remembers that it hates being the centre of attention and would like to crawl back into the dark hole it came from.

This is exacerbated by writing.

I like sitting alone at home typing out a whole lot of words. It’s fun. Even when it’s hard work that I complain bitterly about.

The great thing about a page full of type is that it doesn’t turn and look at you when you’re feeling vulnerable. A page of typing never dropped by when I was in a non-peopley mood and sat down on my couch to chat.

The sad thing about a page full of type is that nobody knows it’s there by accident.

If I want somebody to actually read the pages, I have to announce it to the world at large. Quite frequently. Far more frequently than my non-peopley soul would find comfortable.

Some of that “promotion” is okay with me. A lot of it is online, where I can happily pretend that all the other people are just more pages of type written by another introverted soul (and a lot of the time I’d be right).

Sometimes, though, I just have to bite the bullet and actually appear in public places and do things in front of other human beings.

Things like talk. About writing and stuff. And how there are books out there that you can buy for money that I can then redeem for food and electricity and wifi.

Usually when I agree to do these things the actual events are months away and I’m fine with the prospect of appearing in front of a crowd.

(I should note here that a crowd is what I call more than one person. More than two people if one of them is my darling because he doesn’t count-in the most wonderful way.)

So, I’ve agreed to things like appearing on TV or talking in front of rooms of people because my imagination likes to pretend that those sorts of things are just fine.

As the time for the actual event draws closer however, my brain reasserts a thing called reality and has to reluctantly agree that although it imagines itself an extrovert it would like to be that while living under a rock.

One such event is fast approaching. I am graciously being hosted, along with two other Christchurch crime writers, by the Christchurch South library at an event called “Murder in the Library.”

It’s next Wednesday at 6.30pm and that is now less than a week away. It’s becoming dangerously close to being soon and that will inevitably lead to it being tomorrow and then this evening.

My mouth has chosen yet again to write a cheque that my jittery nerves aren’t sure they can cash.

The good news is that, at the moment, there are three acceptances on the facebook events page. This nicely coincides with the number of authors who will be on the panel. I’m half-hoping that isn’t a coincidence.

I’m also hoping that “Murder in the Library” won’t turn out to be “Nausea and Stammering in the Library” but only time will tell at this point.

If you’d like to join me, and change the number of acceptances to four, then feel free to register for free tickets on the following events page Murder in the Libary – June 1st.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Rescind my admin rights, immediately

Sometimes, it feels like I’m doing something that should be good but turns out to be bad.

For instance, on Friday I was poking around my hosting site and saw they had a special on premium DNS.

For a tiny, upfront annual fee, I could hook my websites up to a premium service that guaranteed my websites would be impervious to all kinds of internet nasties and would NEVER go offline.

Even if anonymous decided that my tiny website advertising me and my books to the world was worthy of their wrath and they launched a full-scale denial of service attack on little ole me, my website would stand up to the onslaught and retain its cyber presence.

I know that seems unlikely, but never say never.

So I signed up to the service and followed the email instructions to connect my websites up to their new, super-dooper, always-on, premium big-pants DNS.

Gosh, I felt like a grown-up.

After hooking it up I entered my website address into my browser to see if I could notice any difference.

I certainly could.

The whole thing was gone.

I then checked out my website that I haven’t quite got around to launching yet, so should have been showing a handy message from wordpress saying is under construction.



Apparently, when I hooked up to the new premium DNS, this took my existing DNS service down and I had to wait for between 48-72 hours for my new premium DNS to take effect.

So, in attempting to stop a theoretical outage sometime in the future, I caused an actual outage. Now.

This would possibly have been strikingly obvious to somebody who actually knew what they were doing, but my approach to website building and maintenance is haphazard at best.

I basically do stuff to stuff until it looks kind of like it did in my head, or I give up. Whichever comes first.

To be honest, this sort of approach usually ends in tears, with occasional bursts of joyous exclamation along the way.

But, it’s no way to run a business. The CEO should revoke my privileges and take my keys off me. Now.

The only thing I have going for me, is that my labour is free.

(That’s free for me only, everyone else has to pay for my services)

Weighing up chaos against cheapness, cheapness has won out every time.

So, until I start earning enough to fire the volunteer worker who doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing and hire someone who needs to be paid, with actual money, I’m just going to have to put up with it.

Job security is nice, no matter how it arrives.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Z stands for New Zealander

I don’t know why it happens, but if a New Zealander sees the letter Z in a page of text their eyes flick down to it immediately to see if it’s mentioning our country.

The word “new” causes little interest, it’s too common to draw attention, but the letter Z is just odd enough to be arresting.

This is usually a slight nuisance rather than a problem, but today I was reading a paragraph about a girl named Zoe at the same time as someone on the radio said “New Zealand,” so spent the next fifteen minutes reading and rereading the text trying to find the name of my home country.

I was absolutely sure it was there but did have to concede eventually that my brain had confabulated it.

Fifteen minutes. I could have… ehm… I don’t know? Maybe played five lives worth of Scrubby Dubby, or something else enjoyable.

But my stupid national identity made me search fruitlessly for some words instead.

It’s not as though I get something out of it. Reading “New Zealand” in a page of type isn’t nearly as satisfying as I may have led you to believe.

For a start, the word New is misleading. I’m fairly certain that our country is approximately the same age as the rest of the planet.

And Zealand? I’m sure it’s a lovely place to live. Apparently 45% of Denmark’s population think so and who am I to disabuse them of that notion?

Of course, we’re not even named after Zealand. Don’t be stupid. We’re named after Zeeland. Obviously. Our second wave of founding fathers couldn’t spell.

Zeeland, whose claim to fame is the highest death toll in the North Sea flood of 1953.

I wonder if people in Zeeland have the same compulsion with the last letter of our alphabet. Or folks who hale from Zimbabwe.

Q is another odd letter. Do people from Qatar find themselves needlessly scanning rows of text in homage to their home country? Or does it happen to people from normal capital letter countries too?

So many questions. There’s another fifteen minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Airplane Mode

So, I don’t know if you’ve seen this or not, but a pilot went on Quora the other day to answer an innocent question about why we have to put our phones on airplane mode when we fly.

Over the years there have been vague rumours of it mucking up the controls, or other rumours of it interfering in the plane’s ability to stay up in the sky, but the pilot had a different point of view.

They’re annoying.

No, really.

If mobile phones aren’t switched to flight mode then they cause interference in the cockpit. Rather like phoning in to your favourite radio talk back channel at 3am while you mistakenly leave your radio on in the background, tuned to the same station.


No, I’m not in an old-person’s home. Why do you ask?

If there’s just one or two then it’s not such a problem. Multiply it by however many passengers you can fit on your local airliner-in cattle class at least-and you can see their point.

I’ve never actually questioned this request before because if I’m told to do something, I do it. Mein fuhrer.

That’s mostly a lie. If I’m told to do something and I’m in a tin can full of people that a person on a salary so low they qualify for a government rebate is attempting to propel into the air and keep there by magic or “physics” for at least a couple of hours, I do it. Without question.

And if the only reason I’m doing it is so that impoverished pilot who thought he was getting into a glamorous career (ha-ha) doesn’t end up with a headache, so be it.

I was only following orders.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Lazy meals

Friday, I came home to a lovely meal of sirloin beef crusted with peppercorns and cooked medium (just like I like it). It was served with a side of wholegrain rice, a colourful medley of vegetables, and a serving of Portuguese sauce.

This evening I dined on a thin-sliced roast of venison on quinoa with a selection of green vegetables and topped with a light gravy.

Mmmmmmmmmmm. Eating food that I didn’t need to prepare.

All this comes courtesy of a new food service operating in town. They call it fitfood. I call it lazy food. In exchange for hard-earned money they send me complete meals ready to heat in the microwave for much longer than they indicate on their website.

They even go so far as to issue handy instructions on how to shake the bags halfway through. Thanks, fitfood. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known to grip the corners and jiggle the bag back and forth.

Of course, the supermarket also gives me food in return for my cash but they usually insist on me spending a lot longer doing stuff to it, before I can sit down to eat.

Not fitfood. They’re not into all that wasted energy. No, just heat and eat.

I really do think they should consider changing their name. I’m sure lazy food would attract more like-minded people to their website than the title they bestowed upon themselves.

Appealing to the health conscious crowd just alienates my sort. It was only by a happy accident that I discovered they actually sent you nice tasting food. Left to my own devices I would never have investigated them that in-depth.

So here’s a shameless plug for lazy food. Order it today and the prices should go down, then I can afford to be even more lazy.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Verbal Pictures

Last week when my darling and I made our weekly pilgrimage to the Supermarket, I noticed there was a sign on the ground next to the underground parking entrance.

It was in the branded colours of the main Supermarket signs but had been taken down and tossed to one side because it was broken in half.

A sign above the entrance to the underground carpark was gleaming white with a new sign look. The dust buildup that would soon mar its surface like it does every other sign in the mall parking lot lay in its future. For now, it was the closest to pristine that a sign in an outdoor area could ever be.

The new sign proudly proclaimed that “vehicles over the height of 2.1m won’t fit into the underground parking garage.” It is hung off chains that I presume allow it to rest at a height of 2.1m as a physical warning.

I thought to myself, ha! Someone with a vehicle over the height of 2.1m tried to get into the underground parking building and wrecked the sign.

I further thought, they’re just lucky that the sign was there to begin with and that was all they wrecked.

I took another step and saw the writing on the first sign stated “vehicles over the height of 2.2m . . .”

As my woodwork teacher always told me, “measure twice, cut once.”

Or, in this case, “measure once, accidentally cause someone to wreck their vehicle by not putting the correct height on the sign and pay a higher excess on your insurance for the next year.”

Of course, I could’ve taken a picture of this scene and let you discover the delicious revelations for yourselves, but I forgot to take my phone out and snap the scene.

It did occur to me later and I reminded my darling to remind me to snap a photo on our way in this week, but I was too late. The old sign has been cleared away.

Just a reminder that it’s always better to take a photo and delete it later, than try to explain to someone in a thousand words what you could’ve just shown them. Dangnammit.

Thursday, 12 May 2016


The joys of running a new trial at work are quickly becoming lost to me.

For a start, I’m not running the new trial. Somebody else is. Somebody who is doing everything in a way which I wouldn’t choose to do it. Or “wrong” as I prefer to call it.

Secondly, I’m currently on the 4.0 version of the training notes for the new process and guess what task I like least of all tasks involved in implementing a new process.

Go on.


Thirdly, our current problem solving practice is similar to pressing down on bubbles in wallpaper. You think you’ve solved it but if you just move your eyes slightly to the left…

Fourthly, writing this was meant to be therapeutic but instead I’m just getting riled up. That’s not what writing is meant to do. It’s meant to be a release.

The trial has broken my release!

Okay, possibly I can’t blame the trial for that. I should perhaps blame my overactive, anxiety-ridden brain.

But why is my brain anxiety-ridden to begin with?

Well, yeah, genetics. I blame the parents. If I weren’t riled up about this, I’d be obsessing about the spider in the corner of the bathroom that I only ever see after I step out of the shower, which means I’m practically naked and not in a position to take a fighting stance.

Dang. And now I’ve just revealed that I shower naked. Like a pervert, or something.

I’m going before I get myself in any more trouble. After all, I’m already naked on the Internet.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Autumn leaves

Well, it would be nice if it did. Leave, I mean. It would then be nice if winter left as well. But no, I have another four months of this sort of joyous weather to get down and dirty with before there’s any chance of a crack in the grey sky to let through a beam of sunlight.

This is the worst part of the autumn weather. In winter there’s the promise of icy mornings and clear crisp air. There’s the first signs that the whole shebang is coming to an end when the daffodils poke their green sprouts up through the frozen earth and announce that it’s time to move on, buddy. A new season is in town.

Still, there’s some beauty to be had along with the constant shivering.

Today, I watched a flock of leaves fly across the sky, swooping and diving and circling in unison. Our patchy lawn has disappeared beneath a colourful display of yellow, brown, and brilliant red. Dead leaves are now sheltering all that weeding I never got around to, from sight.

Holy s**t. An earthquake. No, literally. Right now. Hold on for a minute and I’ll get you a Richter scale reading…

4.7 and it was only 7km deep so it has a Mercalli scale of 6.

Phew. Well, that got the heart going right before bedtime and now my darling has to listen to the news every half hour until he receives confirmation that earthquakes in Christchurch still make it onto the national news framework.

Yay. A long, sleepless night ahead.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Karma takes its time

Reading the newspaper today, which is what I call looking at a news site on my laptop, a story caught my eye. A sixty-seven year old man pleaded guilty to the sexual assault and murder of a seventeen year old girl.

Luckily, this was in the UK so I didn’t need to triple check my door. And the lock on it couldn’t keep out a determined child, let alone a full grown adult.

I double checked the pictures again. Yes, he was a fully grown adult.

Reading on further, I discovered this crime occurred in 1984. When I was in standard four. Which is now year 6, or something equally confusing (why can’t things just stay as they are forever?)

Apparently, there was a teenager brutally murdered 32 years ago and no culprit was ever found. No leads, no evidence. Samples were taken from the body and kept on file and when DNA started to be routinely tested, her presumed assailants DNA was typed and entered into the database. No match. Still no leads.

Then a forty-four year old woman had an argument with her boyfriend and broke his necklace.

You did read that correctly.

She was hauled into the police cells (because you can’t have dangerous necklace-breakers just wandering the streets) and so her DNA was routinely checked against the database, and it found a familial match.

When her father was tracked down and tested, bingo. There was the murderer. He pleaded guilty and will serve at least twenty-two years, which for the US among you is a very long time indeed in a Commonwealth country.

I often think that every citizen of every country with access to DNA testing should be routinely DNA tested at birth. Horrible invasions of privacy aside, I think this would go a long way towards making sure that criminals have a much harder time staying uncaught. And if everyone had to do it, then it shouldn’t grate too much against the national or international conscience, should it?

If we started with the people already incarcerated for crimes they possible didn’t commit and worked our way backwards, the system may even start to pay for itself.

Then I think, how would a murderer get away with their crime? How would they evade capture? Would a crime writer even be a thing any longer?

So, ignore my theory above. Terrible invasion of privacy that we shouldn’t, as a society, allow.

Monday, 9 May 2016

The big tick

Today was one of those days that are few and far between. The type of day where I got to tick more items off my big list of things to do, than I added to it.

Yep. A net loss. Or gain. It depends on whether you’re my free time or my workload.

I can’t reveal what those items were, of course. They’re heavily guarded secrets that my workplace would kill to protect.

Hah! Good one.

Truth is, I can’t reveal them because you’re probably already half asleep and you might hurt yourself or your laptop if I push you over the edge.

Today was the kind of day that I prepare to-do lists for. Most of the time I’m disappointed, and often I’m left wondering if I should just let demands pile up haphazardly while I get on with whatever-the-hell-I-like, but this makes it all worthwhile.

I got stuff done.

And if anyone questions my statement, I can point to the writing on the list that shows where the stuff used to be and where it now isn’t by virtue of a horizontal (-ish) line.

Who am I kidding? No one’s going to question me. Sigh.

Back to the still-to-do part of my to-do list.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

What a headache

Ever since Easter arrived and departed this year, in all its hot cross glory, I’ve had a headache.

I’m fairly used to headaches. Being a highly strung individual brings with it a number of benefits. Knowing how to keep on trucking with a tight band of tension wound across my forehead and teeth clenched together to keep them from gnashing are some of them.

But this wasn’t like that. For a start, it was in the wrong location.

Tension headaches are easily ignored bands across the front of my head. I can work through them, which is yet another reason they’re pointless. (I wish my body would learn these things.) They’re also nicely balanced across both sides of my head, as pain should be.

But this new headache was located in the back of my head and only on my right hand side. That’s on my right hand side if you’re standing behind me and looking forward, not my right hand side if you’re looking at me. If you’re not in the room at all, you’ll just have to guess the side I’m referring to. In the grand scheme of things it probably doesn’t matter.

There’s another downside to this new ache of my head as well. I can’t work through it.

When I’m at home and it starts, I weep gently on the couch. When I’m at work, I put my head down and try not to move until the painkillers kick in.

I would weep but that wouldn’t look great in the workplace. Imagine if they drag a group of hopeful employees about the floor trying to sell them on a career in insurance and they see me weeping at my desk. Believe me, insurance is a hard sell as a career in the first place.

My only consolation in the first few weeks was that it was a headache. It couldn’t last forever. Two doctor visits and three prescriptions later, my only consolation is that when I die at least my head will stop hurting.

And if you’ll excuse me now I’ll attempt to perform some neck exercises that are failing to stem the tide of pain each day in exactly the same way the headache preventer doesn’t prevent them, and the anti-inflammatory fails to anti-inflame anything.

(whine of the week over and out)

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Blog Neglect

When I first started up my blog I was going to write an entry every single day. I know, I can hear you laughing from here.

It may surprise you to know that I did exactly that for much (not all) of the first year of my blog. I was a good little blogger, regularly blogging about the things that filled my little blogging mind. Some of them were even of interest to other people.

Then I started to resent the thirty minutes of time I spent writing my blog in the evening. Why, I could use that time to do actual writing for books that I could sell!

So I gradually tapered my blogs down to every other day instead. It may surprise you to learn that I did not use the freed up time to write. I used that time to watch more telly and Face more book.

Then I discovered that every other day comes around almost as often as every day. It’s like, every day with only one day in-between. So I thought about investing even less time in my blog (because, after all, I could use that time to write real books yada-yada-yada).

During my sabbatical I made the final call to seriously decrease, and after tapering off to once every three days or so, I abruptly moved to once a week.

Once a week is fine, I told myself. It’s often enough to keep me in the habit, but not so often that it feels intrusive. Why, I bet that after a week of not blogging I’ll look forward to writing my blog!

I know. I can hear you laughing from here.

So, I reduced it down to once a week. I also started up a newsletter that I sent out to my newsletter subscribers once a week. That’s two things a week I was writing.

After a month I felt justified dropping it back to once a fortnight just to even things out.

Then, the other day at work, someone was looking at my blog. They were looking for something specific and complaining that they couldn’t find it because whoever designed my website had neglected to install a search button on my blog. I countered that I couldn’t be bothered installing one and building a website from the ground up is a much bigger project than they realise, thank you very much.

I also tried to remember the last time I’d written a blog entry. Like my old blog entries. Not one of my, “I have a book to promote,” blog entries.

It was hard to recall and I didn’t want to embarrass myself by looking it up, but I thought that I should probably get right on that.

So, here I am. Getting right on that. After a pause of a day or two to collect myself.

In the brilliance of late night decisions that I’ll no doubt regret in the morning, I’ve decided to go back to blogging every day. I doubt this will curtail my writing, although it scares me that it may claw seriously into my gazing blankly at Facebook time.

If you don’t want to receive an entry every single day, you may want to get out now. I mean to keep this up!

Yeah, I know.

I can hear you laughing from here.