there is no catchup

Yesterday’s blog title was supposed to be about today’s content but then I went off on a tangent. Perhaps I should try again. I was thinking that I never seem to catchup on all the books I mean to read, tasks I assign myself, movies and TV to watch. All the things, none of things.

I still haven’t got round to watching my box set of The Avengers. I am reading a bit more. I am behind on Masterchef and filmfest is about to start. If I get behind on masterchef, I made a conscious decision not to catch up and simply accept that I missed some shows. I remember having an increasingly large collection of VHS tapes, back in the day, of shows taped that I meant to watch. I recall we were able to buy blank tapes fairly cheaply which simply meant that more stuff got taped without ever getting watched.

Peter Pan

It was interesting to read back through this post from 2018 on things I’d get round to on holidays and see where I’m at now:

  • watch Twin Peaks – still hasn’t happened
  • Install internet mesh – finally did this a couple of weeks ago and it’s running fab
  • fix TV cabling – we did fix it eventually. Then we moved house and set things up differently. The PVR is refusing to play nice but catchup services are better these days. Also, I have new hearing aids and I can indeed use them with the TV and it’s made a big difference – did take a bit of work to balance the sound so that I could hear the TV and chat to the fam
  • enjoy life – so far so good
  • visit Bankstown Library – this happened and it was lovely and I got to see old friends and colleagues once more
  • web archiving tools – conference in NZ in 2018 was fab. Haven’t played with tools much lately and I want to play with jupyter notebooks too.
  • watch the last Tomb Raider – managed it eventually and it was ok
  • drive somewhere – this is not happening at the moment for some odd reason :)
  • watch The Avengers – still no
  • sew buttons – almost happened a couple of times but still no
  • listen to my ipod – being doing this more in lockdown
  • do some reading – I seem to be reading daily which is a plus

as behind as always

Time passes both faster and slower. Last week, I could have sworn it was week 11 of lockdown but perhaps I miscounted. Counted again today and this week 11. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that next week is week 12. I’d like to think that’s not too optimistic.

I went into the physical library today which I think is my first time since the start of lockdown. I needed to look at the history of a renewal in a physical file to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. Happily, my email archive covered what was in the print so all was well. There was a special deal for parking in The Domain so I booked in for a 2 hour time slot. Ended getting in later than I wanted to, then spent 20 odd minutes driving around in the carpark, looking for a spare spot to park my car. Was successful eventually but only had an hour left to do what I needed. Next time, I might try public transport afterall as it seems less stressful with less reliance on time limits :-)

bitumen

It was nice to say hi to the few folk that were there. Even tidied up my desk a little. A small miracle.

shannara marches on

Somewhat timely that we finished watching season 2 of The Shannara Chronicles on netflix shortly after the limited edition of book 4 arrived in the mail. I remember finding the original trilogy in paperback a long time ago in a secondhand bookshop in Sydney’s CBD, possibly Ashwood’s. There used to be several clustered down near Goulburn St.

2020-06-07_05-10-00

I recall Ashwood’s had a bunch of SF on display down in the back righthand corner and piles on the shelves beneath. I would studiously go through each of those piles looking for interesting titles and so it was that I first read Shannara, a trilogy initially, then as more books were published I ended up with 12 in a mix of secondhand and new, mass paperback and trade. Trade paperbacks were about the same size as hardcovers and of better quality than the regular mass paperback.

I think I lost track at some point, or moved on, perhaps lost interest. Looking at wikipedia, I see there’s over 20 now. A specialist press, Grim Oak, has been publishing nicer editions with hardcover, slipcase, placeholder ribbon, not to mention signed matching numbers for around US$100 each. Pricier than a new release but not stupid money either. As each has arrived, I have been re-reading them. I enjoyed the first and second again though found the third a little slow going. The writing was ok and the story a little reminiscent of the third book of the Lord of the Rings, in that sense of “would you please hurry and get to the end”. That’s possibly an apt comparison as Shannara was often seen as bit of a ripoff of the Tolkien books though these days, many things are.

A thing I liked about the Shannara books was that they seemed to be set in a post apocalyptic earth. This world contained remnants of buildings and technology, odd science and tracings of 20th century life; a fantasy world modelled over an actual world, that sense of back to the farm and disconnected communities. That was one thing I did like about the TV series that it really brought that sense of overlapping worlds to the fore though I found the dialogue and story progression rather laboured and forced.

brekky in a cafe

Brekky

Seems odd being able to say that: brekky in a cafe. At a table. Lockdown eased a little a couple of weeks ago which meant the idea of sitting in a cafe become possible once more. On the first weekend after the announcement, my usual cafe continued to maintain takeaway only. I wasn’t able to make it last weekend as we visited my partner’s mum for the first time since start of lockdown. Was so nice to be able to visit another person.

This weekend my cafe had dine-in as an option, with 5 tables set up for diners. I was quite happy to continue with brekky in the car as I take a long time over brekky and didn’t think it would be fair for me to take up a table in the current climate. However only table was full and I thought buggerit, why not. It was fine, as 3 tables were empty most of the time, with a third occupied as I was finishing up. Meanwhile there was a regular stream of takeaways. Good to see the cafe continuing to survive.

I sat. I smiled. I ordered. I relaxed with a coffee and the paper. I ordered an extravagant brekky of dukkah eggs and chorizo. I enjoyed the space, the paper, the food, the people. Read a lovely article about all the wonderful food in Bankstown that made me salivate. I will go one day but not quite ready for casual shopping yet.

filmfest where are thou

Sydney filmfest 2016

It’s Saturday. The start of the long weekend. In years gone by, this was the starting weekend of the Sydney Film Festival. True, it used to start a night or three earlier but it didn’t really feel like filmfest until you hit the weekend. Previously a film, maybe two a night…after work; films but one of several events in the day. Come the weekend, and filmfest is the thing around which everything else revolves; it is the focus, the destination, the journey, seemingly everything that matters. Films in the morning, films in the afternoon, films in the evening.

Actually that’s not quite true. I don’t do films in the morning anymore; I value the importance of sleep. I like to think this means I am approaching filmfest in a healthier space. Mostly, it’s the weekend and sleeping in trumps all.

This year it’s a bit different. Filmfest is on but reduced. It starts after the weekend not before. Filmfest is online and at home. Like olden days I get to sit in the same seat for every screening, though it will be my comfy armchair. Not this year will I need to worry about the dash from Opera Quays, through the Vivid crowd, to wherever the next film is on, in the fastest possible time. We can watch the films at home, at the times we want to watch them while sitting in our comfy chairs. We don’t need to smuggle bottles of wine into the cinema, just grab one from the wine rack nearby. Luxury.

I will miss the people. Running into friends, old and new. The people I used to sit with. Folk from long ago. Casual chats. Queues. I will actually miss the queues whether it be for film or food. Queues are a sort of pause, a time out, where you can be stuck with your thoughts.

This I think, will be my 28th filmfest. How time flies.

one after the other

So many things seem to be in series, sometimes things that should only be one are often more. It seems like everything in SF and fantasy is coming out in multi-book epics these days. Then I stop and think, this is not a new development.

I remember reading early Asimov stories and he had his robots series and his Foundation series, not to mention his attempts to unite them all, and of course Tolkien and Middle Earth.

shelf 1

Even one of my favourite books as a child, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ended up being a series. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett seemed to be a standalone, then he wrote some more and some more and suddenly it wasn’t for which I remain ever grateful – speaking of which, I don’t think I’ve read any since I first read them. One day, I must embark on a full Pratchett re-read; re-reading the entirety of Pratchett seems somewhat Odyssean.

Comrades in Arms

Speaking of childhoods, I read so many series: The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators, Trixie Belden, Biggles, and many, many Enid Blyton books. In fact, speaking of Biggles, I have finally acquired Comrades in Arms by Capt W.E. Johns which includes stories from each of his main character sets: Biggles, Gimlet, and Worrals.

A couple of years ago I read a then newish SF writer, Becky Chambers and her first novel, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which in turn has had a sequel, of sorts. At what point do sequels become series? Speaking of which I need to read more from her one of these days.

Oz author, Daniel O’Malley wrote The Rook – which was turned into a TV miniseries -and then a sequel, Stilleto. I am eagerly awaiting the 3rd book and have been for a long time. Though Book 1 came out in 2012, book 2 in 2016 so I have some hope that book 3 may appear in 2020. Some. 

a little order

When lockdown commenced, my workload increased and for a few weeks there was a lot more email too. Things did settle down to a normal of sorts eventually. I am fortunate that my entire job can be done online and that I have worked from home before. My last couple of years at Gale was spent exclusively working from home though interspersed with visits to the Melbourne office and libraries around Australia and New Zealand. This time round, there are no visits anywhere…other than to the takeaway up the road and brekky on the weekend.

My days have been much the same minus the commute, in fact the commute has transitioned to an extra hour sleeping in. Curiously I am starting work more refreshed both from the increase in sleep and the lack of travelling. This will be hard to give up though I have experimented in the past with going to bed earlier. One thing I found was that regardless of what time I started, I still tended to finish around the same time at the end of the day.

Finally moving on from milk crates. Cables are somewhat sorted and accessible.

This does mean I haven’t done much beyond what I normally do. I’ve not commenced writing the great Australian novel, nor learnt a new language; I’ve not taken up further study nor undertaken any large projects. Thanks to Ms19 I have taken up roller skating again and I have been walking occasionally.

One project I did take on was organising all my cables and this was a task I’ve been putting off for some years. They’ve primarily been kept in an overflowing milk crate, maybe even some in a second crate. Several years ago I did go through and spool each cable tying them off either with a wire tie or rubber bands. Sadly the rubber bands have not stood the test of time and in many cases were a nasty, sticky mess to clean up. An initial task was to replace all the rubber bands with new ties and clean them. I did get rid of a few cables though I suspect the household had hoped, somewhat optimistically, that I would get rid of a lot more :-)

I ordered a deck of coloured drawers from Officeworks and separated my cables into 5 loose categories: ethernet, power, audio, USB (various types), hardware (including my old Eees). There were a few other odds and ends that ended up in the top couple of drawers eg a couple of HDMI cables have ended up in the top drawer with the ethernet cables as that’s tidier than the drawer with the different types and sizes of audio cables which includes speaker cables, various playstation cables, and sound systems I don’t remember. There’s even several metres of telephone cable which I originally used to run a dial up connection in a terrace house in Newtown with the cable running from the phone port in the loungeroom, up the stairs and through a door into a study space. I suspect I could possibly get rid of that cable at least though remain reluctant…just in case.

picture books

Absolute Sandman Vol 1 by Neil Gaiman

When I was in Bowral last Christmas, I started re-reading Volume 1 of the Absolute Sandman as I was conscious that I never got round to reading the entire series. It was published as 4 volumes initially and later there was a 5th volume and a volume devoted to Death. I figured it was a good time to read them all through and made good ground initially. I took a break and read other things, recently finishing Volume 1 and anticipating continuing with Volume 2 in the near future. Dark stories well told; at times ethereal as they soak into my imagination.

A few weeks ago, or was it months, I managed to find a good edition, “as new” of the Omnibus edition of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I recall seeing the movie version many years ago and while not blown away, it retained a certain charm and I wished there had been a sequel with a little more depth. The movie felt more like an introduction, of sorts, rather a complete tale. The omnibus is occasionally available through secondhand retailers but tends to be a little pricy due to weight and consequently higher delivery costs. I recently found a nice edition, reasonably priced and bit the bullet. It too, I am enjoying, having finished part I and soon to embark on part II. I believe I should also but the Black Dossier for further tales.

The League of Extraordinary Gentleman: Omnibus

Other enjoyable graphic novels in recent years include:

And The Umbrella Academy Vol 1 (deluxe edition) by Gerard Way. I’d been waiting a while for the deluxe edition to be published. I first came across this when the series appeared on netflix last year. The timing was sorta right and my partner and I binged it all. I loved it both for the creative story telling and outlandishness of sorts. One of the better things I’d seen in a long while. Needless to say I went hunting for the original graphic novels and while I did find them, they were a little pricy on the secondhand market so I thought I’d wait and see if some special editions appeared and sure enough they have. There’s 3 volumes with each releasing every few months so I pre-ordered them all with the first arriving just prior to lockdown.

no moving, no travel

I commented in February on my joy in reading the travel section of the weekend papers, finding new places to visit, a chance to travel in my mind, without moving. I joked later that the Italian lockdown would be a fab time to visit Venice as there would be but locals, no tourists, piazzas empty. Naive I was, oblivious, lacking awareness of what was to come. I watched in shock as Italy increased their shutdowns and quarantine and the spread of COVID-19 rose while the death toll climbed horribly.

Now is not the time to travel.

I am in lockdown too. This is week 11 of working from home. I am thankful that I am a public servant with a fulltime job and no mortgage. We moved house a few months ago, downsizing from a 2-story 4-bedder to a 1-story 3-bedder. I’m enjoying the new house but with four adults stuck at home all the time, I miss the space of the old place a little.

Brekky in car.

On the weekends, I continue to maintain my ritual of going to my usual cafe for brekky with newspaper. For the last two and a half months that has meant takeaway food and piccolos, consumed in my car nearby, with people walking by. Initially I tried eggs on toast but the knife/fork thang felt awkward so I’ve gone with a bacon and egg roll since.

The weekend travel section is no longer published in print.

While I have been able to continue with my ritual, it is missing a key part, travel. The SMH continues to publish some travel material online but it’s not the same. The idea of travel and being able to travel has become problematic. I renewed my passport and had plans for a big trip this year, saving my leave, preparing for a 6-8 week trip in Europe across August. No more. Those plans are cancelled, my partner’s Churchill project postponed. Maybe next year.

I want a holiday and I want to go away. Not yet. I remain hopeful that New Zealand may open as destination later in the year. I have been many times and would love to go many times more. Perhaps there is a little hope.

#blogjune #11

Here we go again. Why oh why, do I do this to myself. Blogging every day of June, or attempting to. As a thing, it peaked in the early years, around 2010-12, and has dropped off substantially in the years since, maintained by a few hardy souls.

My iso workspace.

I s’pose it will at least provide an opportunity to work out how wordpress’s block approach works. The last time I created a post and added a video, it took a few attempts to get an error free version published. Looking at it now, it looks ok and you can play the video from within the post. Successfully added a picture to this one with only a little fuss. Once in, it was actually easy to move the image “block” up and down.

I’m happy enough working from home, missing people occasionally though more missing the casual freedom of wondering over to someone and chatting. From home, chats with workmates need to be booked, lined up, scheduled.

The view out the window is good, trees in the street, browning as autumn slides toward winter. I have given up on winter though today is technically the start; Sydney has not had a proper winter in a long time. On the other hand, it remains ever pleasant.