Tag Archives: General

One of Those Days

I’m a bit swamped today, between Real Life, the Work in Progress and one or two other things I’m working on, so with that in mind let me do some quick sharing. We all love to share and blather about ourselves, right?

Things I Do Not Care About

To all media outlets, everywhere: Charlie Sheen’s apparent mental breakdown.
To people who comment on youtube videos: Justin Bieber/Lady Gaga/Katy Perry.
To amazon.co.uk: Bargains to be found on clothes airers. I clicked one link damn you!
To football broadcasters: The opinion of the vast majority of pundits you hire.
To our fridge: That funny whiff coming from behind you. I’ve learned to live with it, nothing can convince me to lug your heavy arse out of your cubby hole to find out what it is.
To our cat: I never liked the wallpaper in the passage that much, anyway.

Things I Do Care About

To my fiction writing brain: Completing my current work in progress, stop distracting me with the urge to write something else.
To the internet: Pictures of Bridget Moynahan. I don’t care if I’m shallow, vapid and guilty of objectifying an intelligent and talented actress, I just never get tired of looking at her.
To my reading brain: Reading the good stuff. Stop trying to convince me to reread bad stuff and post reviews of it.
To the world in general: Being too broke to afford Dragon Age II, so trying to figure out whether it’s worth trading in Heavy Rain, Fallout: New Vegas and a few less prestigious games to help finance the purchase.

That’s all for now. Drop a comment telling me what you do and don’t care about and I’ll catch you again soon.

Long overdue update

I can’t pretend I’m the most dedicated blogger. That being said, I’ve neglected this place for long enough now. Between the World Cup and some real world stuff, I’ve been entirely preoccupied of late. So, on to matters updatey without delay.

1. The World Cup blog. I’ve ditched it, quite unceremoniously and unannounced. I’ve learned something important from this. While I love football passionately, I don’t like writing about it. Writing fiction, or waffling inanely in posts on here and comments on blogs and fora (forums? fori?) feels like fun. Writing about football feels like work. Unpaid work at that. From now on, I’m just going to post my football or sports opinions that I simply must get off my chest on here. Those of you who don’t like sports shouldn’t worry. I think my love for footie and cricket in particular are how I switch my writing brain off, so those posts will be infrequent.

2. For no reason I can decipher, every piece of fiction I write of late is trying to expand beyond my initial intentions. This might be a signal from my hind-brain that it’s time to try writing something in novel length*. So much so, that my attempt to write a piece of fanfic (Don’t judge me! It was fanfic for one of the most awesome things EVAR!) of 500-2000 words in length failed dismally because the story I wanted to tell refused to tell itself in less than roughly 5000 words. My, quite frankly EPIC, entry is consigned to the dusty and neglected folder on my hard drive entitled “misc unusable projects”. It’s the same folder where I keep my Christopher Fowler/Joe Abercrombie explicit slash fic.

3. Mr Jake Kale continues to be more prolific and more talented than myself. He will pay dearly for this insolence. Oh yes, he will pay**. He has been warned…

4. The England performance at the World Cup has left me furious. More on this in a future post.

5. Dreamworlds continues to be an amazing forum populated with lovely and talented people, which I don’t spend anywhere near enough time posting on. Please to go there and sign up, if you enjoy fantasy fiction or role-playing even a little bit.

* More on this soon. I’m still planning.

** More on this also at a future date. I’m still planning this too, although this one will be far more nefarious. MWU-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

News on new story, plus added childhood memory defilement courtesy of John Scalzi

First of all, I must direct your attention to this item of, well, this. Words fail me. (Link fully, 100%, safe for work and eyes of any age. Unless you live or work with fans of either Star Wars or Judy Blume, in which case you may want to show them this at some point in the future, should they ever offend you deeply enough that you wish to damage their memories irreparably.)

In other, far less disturbing, news, I’ve been working on  a new story,  which I ought to have ready to post by next week at the latest. If I don’t have a rough first draft version of it up by next Wednesday, you have my permission to come to my house and poke me repeatedly with a sharp stick (Home address will be provided on request, to people able to prove they have no access to sticks, stick sharpening apparatus or the means of transport to my home address). It’s a little bit different from my other works posted on here. Is that a good thing? Time will tell. Is the idea original? In the words of the immortal Will Smith, “Aww, hell NAW!”. Hopefully though, it’ll be as much fun to read as it was to write.

Oh yes, make sure to go over to the master of his domain (link in the sidebar), that comic really does get better and better with each passing week.

Good grief! It’s like I’ve never been away…

Hello again. Life’s been a bit all over the place of late, but things are beginning to settle down a bit. A few general updates of what I’ve been up to… Real life stuff, which I’m not going to post about publicly because, well frankly anyone could read this.

I’ve also done a couple of online things, namely over at a web forum called DreamWorlds, I’ve posted a new story. A quasi-mythological “fable” with a pre-Celtic feel to it. That distant grinding sound you hear, is Robert Holdstock slowly turning in his grave. Go to DreamWorld via this link: http://www.dream-worlds.net/forum/default.asp sign up, because the story is in a members only area, then read it here: http://www.dream-worlds.net/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=580 and tell me how much I’ve trampled on Mr Holdstock’s tradition of story telling. Then go back, look around and join in, because they really are a lovely bunch of people. In time, I may run it here as well, but for now I’m going to leave it over at DreamWorlds because it’s a lovely community and they deserve as many new sign ups as possible.

In other news, I’ve begun a football blog, which can be found here: http://worldcupwaffling.wordpress.com/ If you’re interested in the beautiful game, then head on over, read my ruminations, then disagree vociferously in the comments.

Remember folks, sign up to DreamWorlds. They need the input of creative people and I know that everyone who reads this is a creative type as well.

Ten money saving tips for people who are already poor to start with.

First of all, apologies for the prolonged absence. Long, boring, story made short? Connection issues. Sorted now. Good to be back.

Anyway… I’m skint. Chances are, so are you. It’s a recession, and while the economics spods may tell you it’s over because that nebulous and barely understood thing called The Economy grew by a quarter of a percentage point, times are going to be pretty tight for those of us not suckling from the teat of the banking industry for some time yet. With that in mind I’m compiling a list of real world money-saving tips for those on the kind of budgets where switching energy suppliers isn’t really a practical option. The kind of people who can’t do that because the pre-payment scheme you’re on is always slightly in arrears and you won’t be able to pay the £50 or £60 shortfall from the last bill when the switch takes place. We’re a surprisingly large demographic, we’re just not that vocal because admitting to being poor, not cutting back on M&S ready prepared crab on the half shell poor, but actual honest to goodness poor, is something of a social stigma these days. I’m posting about not wasting money, so I’d best stop doing the same with words. Here’s the list.

1. Stop buying fancy toilet paper. I can’t emphasise this one enough. Without being too specific, we all know what it’s being used for. Why is that everyday necessity worth £2.38 per pack of four? Is your bottom really so sensitive and easily offended that it needs pampering with herb infused paper? Chances are, the answer is no. Own brand stuff is more than good enough for purpose. Your arse isn’t starring in a L’Oreal commercial, so therefore isn’t worth it.

2. Baked beans really are all the same. Shush! Yes they are. I know it and deep down, you know it too. Beanz does not meanz Heinz. It means cheap filler so you can put a bit less of that costly meat product onto the plate. Own brand alternatives are often literally half the price of the leading brands. Would you pay £600 pounds for something that’s identical to an item costing only £300? Then why do it with something costing £0.60 over something costing £0.30? Small savings mount up quickly, especially on items that get purchased a couple of times a week.

3. A biscuit is a biscuit. Accept the fact that a branded custard cream costing £1.10 a pack, tastes much the same as a saver branded custard cream costing £0.45-55 a pack, depending on where you shop. What’s more, putting all your biscuits into a barrel will prevent choosy friends or judgemental in-laws from turning their nose up at the sight of the unattractive packaging. Without the packaging to tell people which one is the fancier, a branded Bourbon biscuit tastes no different from a cheap one.

4. The television is not your friend. I know, it comforts you in times of stress. It gives you the latest instalments of your favourite shows. What it doesn’t do is tell you anything useful about living your life. Adverts are shiny things, intended to trick the weak willed into buying things they can’t afford and telly chefs have no concept of a low income life. Feeding a family of four for a fiver is not economically sound when your entire weekly shopping budget is £20. The next time a telly chef tries to make you feel like a bad parent for feeding your child a Turkey Twizzler, hunt them down and poke them with a sharp stick. Really hard. In their posh, mockney genitals. If you’re genuinely worried about the damage a chicken nugget is doing to your 5 year old’s arteries, then 1. Get a grip. They’re 5 years old! Children of that age are not in a high risk group for cholesterol problems, and 2. Put them in the garden with a football, a bit of running around will soon burn off those calories.

5. Get re-acquainted with your DVD collection. Yes, I’m aware of the fact that the big supermarket chains are selling the latest blockbuster for £8.99. I want a copy of it too. But you know what? You’ve got some really excellent films on that shelf already and you haven’t watched some of them in years. Don’t pretend you haven’t already got good films, you wouldn’t have bought them if they weren’t good films, would you? You know your taste is impeccable, since you only buy the good stuff that you enjoy. Enjoy it again. English Literature snobs will tell you that you need to read the classics three times to absorb all of their meaning and nuances. Exactly the same thing applies to Breakdance 2:  Electric Boogaloo.

6. Learn to cook properly. I’m not kidding. Not that fancy gubbins you’ll see on telly with chicken breast fillets wrapped in prosciutto, that’s no use to people in our situation, is it? I’m on about real cooking, not showing off for dinner party guests. Soups, stews, casseroles. You know, the kind of thing that gets prepared for not much money and, most importantly, lasts for more than one sitting. Everyone likes to brag about how Bohemian they are, by eating last night’s take-away leftovers for breakfast. Stop buying take-aways and cook something that lasts for several days, in large enough bulk to spread over several days. Which leads into…

7. Frozen meats and vegetables are OK. No really, they are. Put aside your silly notions and snobbery. It really is OK to use them, especially in soups, stews and casseroles. You already knew you could save a bundle by buying frozen chicken portions for about £3 for a bag containing 10 of the things, rather than the fresh ones for £2.50 for four. I’m just letting you know it’s OK to do it. When meat is cooked slowly, even the cheapest cuts are delicious.

8. Bland cereals should not cost as much as ones with honey or sugar on them. Accept that fact, deal with it and move on. If you’re paying more than two quid for individually bagged portions of porridge in batches of ten, rather than 80 pence or so for a 2.5kg bag of porridge oats that will provide your breakfast everyday for a month, you may be beyond help. The same thing applies to the eaters of muesli and corn flakes. There’s no good reason for paying a lot of money for those items.

9. Learn to shop properly. What’s that you say? You already know how to shop? It’s just a case of putting things into a basket or trolley and handing over money? HA! That kind of thinking is what put you in a situation to be reading this list and me in a situation where I need to remind myself of it by writing it all down. Certain shops sell things at massive discounts. Those discount shops where everything miraculously costs a pound often have stock of decent quality teabags, coffee or toilet rolls for a pound. That’s right, a pound. Instead of buying everything from one place because it’s convenient to do so, shop around a bit. If like me, you’re needing to implement the advice on this list, then convenience is a luxury, not a necessity. Shopping around for bargains is a good habit to form and one which will end up saving you a lot of money over time.

10. Stop buying crap you don’t need. I’m not saying don’t buy anything that isn’t essential to your everyday survival. A life without pleasure is a life barely worth living. I mean stop buying the stuff that isn’t essential to a basic but acceptable standard of living. Most people like cake, but why does it have to be the brand named lemon slices? Buy an own brand sponge cake instead. Do you honestly need that football, T.V. listings or gossip magazine? You obviously have web access, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Go to a sports or showbiz gossip site instead. Lord knows, there are plenty of them. Think before you spend, is what I’m saying. You’d be amazed how much stuff you can cut out of your weekly spend without really missing it.

Implementing the tips above can save you at least a tenner a week, easily. There are those who think that saving a tenner is neither here nor there, but that’s not the audience I’m aiming this article at. I’m aiming at the people for whom a tenner is the difference between sink and swim. There’s more of us than you think and if you aren’t one of us, you probably know someone who is, but is embarrassed to admit it publicly.

So… Today is Monday, right?

I know, I know. I said I’d be back inside the Series Of Tubes™ on Monday, but I got delayed unavoidably. I’d like to tell you it was because of some kind of personal crisis or something. That would make for great drama and I’d get lovely wishes of things working out soon from regular readers… However, this is not what happened. What happened is Fallout 3. If it was legal (or indeed possible) to marry a video game, I would do so and polygamy laws be damned! I make no excuses, beyond the fact that until you’ve turned a Super Mutant from a rampaging green-skinned horror into a smoking pile of ash with the Firelance, you’ve never known true happiness.

A Day at the Hospital, or Why the N.H.S. is Still Awesome

First of all, let me say this. Hospitals suck. This isn’t the fault of the frontline medical staff, who are as friendly and helpful as it’s possible to be when you’re working as hard as they are; nor is it the fault of the support staff, who let’s face it, the public rarely see, let alone deal with. Nor is the fault of the administrative staff, who simply do their job as best they can while the tabloids go out of their way to insinuate that the grand institution of the N.H.S is somehow crumbling into ruin and the admins and managers are to blame for all of it. No it is, in fact, the fault of the body of you or a loved one, for doing something weird, and most likely painful, which means you have to visit a strange place filled with people you don’t know while you or someone you care about is in agony. This tends to colour your perception somewhat.

Yesterday I was in Wansbeck General Hospital pretty much all day, while my wife was being poked, prodded, scanned, looked at, mulled over and generally investigated by nurses, doctors, more nurses, other doctors, scanning machine technicians, still other doctors and various other people whose job it is to figure out why your body is broken and how best to fix it. My wife was in agony with a chest pain and having had heart difficulties in the past, as well as a leaking heart valve in the present, this was considered something rather worrisome.

During the prolonged time we were in Accident and Emergency and then the Medical Admissions Unit I had the opportunity to watch at close hand how the staff of the N.H.S. go about their everyday business of saving lives, fixing broken bodies and generally being far more awesome than a lazy word-botherer like myself could ever hope to be. Let me say this to you (whoever you are), the press (as if they would ever notice this very quiet part of the Tubez), the Tory Party who insist the N.H.S. is a white elephant and thoroughly outdated and broken (like they would care, anyhow) and indeed anyone else who happens to drop by. The N.H.S. and the people who work for it are AMAZING.

I watched as – quietly and without fuss – people were  sorted according to severity of injury and condition, brought in and treated, made as comfortable as possible under very trying circumstances, moved from one department to another with speed and efficiency, examined by competent and thorough doctors who leave no stone unturned or base uncovered in their determination to get to the bottom of anything mysterious, while being skilled and speedy in their treatment of the obvious injuries and illnesses. I saw nurses and healthcare assistants who were skilled, efficient, courteous and good-humoured despite being absolutely swamped by people needing treatment and care. I saw multiple cleaners and support staff making sure the hospital was as clean and as free of infection sources as such a large public building can be. My wife, who was the reason we were there at all, was given excellent care and always treat with the kindness and understanding a person who’s frightened and in great pain should be afforded. Meanwhile I, as worried relative , despite being little more than a bystander and quite probably a nuisance, was always treated with good-natured compassion and never made to feel like the pain in the backside I no doubt was.

Tracey is still in hospital. The reason for this is that the doctor’s aren’t 100% convinced she’s well enough to come home. Think about that for a second. They’re pretty sure she’s not going to explode into a human fireball if she comes home, yet despite heavy pressure from parliamentary guidelines, budgetary constraints and the general impression of ineptitude, inadequacy and bad management that the N.H.S. is becoming synonymous with in certain quarters, their first and only concern is that my wife doesn’t leave their care until they are absolutely certain that coming home is the best course of action.

All of the above is why the National Health Service remains one of modern Britain’s crowning achievements, why the much maligned (at local level, anyway) Wansbeck General Hospital rocks and why I’m able to spend the time it takes to write this, rather than chewing my nails down to stumps with worry about the woman I love. Because I sit here at home, still worried, but comforted by the fact that my wife is receiving the best possible care.

Dear N.H.S. and staff of Wansbeck General Hospital, you guys are AWESOME!

Thank you.

Blog traffic confuses me.

In a fit of boredom (and yes, I’ll admit it, ego) I decided to check out my blog’s stats. I was wondering how many people were viewing my site and which posts were the most popular. I have to admit to being a little surprised by the results. The top five posts are as follows…

1:  https://waffleandwrite.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/greetings-fellow-writerly-types/

2: https://waffleandwrite.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/the-horror-will-be-unending/

3: https://waffleandwrite.wordpress.com/2009/11/07/sometimes-google-scares-me/

4: https://waffleandwrite.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/the-twelve-days-of-halloween-part-eleven/

5: https://waffleandwrite.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/a-procrastinators-internet-toolkit/

The only one of the few pieces of original fiction I’ve posted here so far came in at number six.  Why should these particular posts be so favoured compared to the others I’ve made? I haven’t the foggiest idea. I think number three on the list was quite fun to write, but I have no clue as to why the others are amongst the most popular. My favourite posts are all of my fiction posts (except Redcap, which sucks like a black hole), the post about stuff I’m too old to still be doing and the post about Father Dowling.

As far as I can tell, the internet likes cheery hellos, people singing really badly, pictures of werewolves, snark and websites that act as time sinks. Considering my sarcastic nature, love of procrastination and dreadful singing voice I’m well placed to become the next internet superstar. I can only post an introductory message once and I can’t draw worth a damn, so I’m not in the best position to capitalise on those things. Maybe I should hire a “ghost artist” and create a bunch of sock puppet “guest bloggers” to give a cheery greeting? Then I shall rule the internet! MWU-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!1!!!!one!!*

*At least until the tenth dan masters of blog fu that are Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi smite me for my impudence. Until that point, my evil laugh remains valid and I shall stroke my goatee beard in a menacing manner to prove it.

Busy

Hi again, folks. I’ve been supremely busy of late, so my blogging and writing have fallen to an output of virtually zero. I’ve barely had time to check my RSS feeds, never mind keeping up with everyone who I’ve lost touch with over the past six weeks or so. Anyway, I’m back online now and once my traditional post-holidays fugue state clears up, I’ll be right back on schedule. I’ll be an email answering, comment posting, blog writing, fiction creating MACHINE people. Speak to you all again soon, just as soon as I’ve thought of something to say.

Old dudes sing messed up lyrics. Fact!

Last night I listened to some Aerosmith for the first time in quite a while. Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing was one of the tracks. That line at the beginning? The one about laying awake to watch her dreaming? All you budding lotharios out there, take heed of your uncle Daniel. Don’t do that; seriously, just don’t. That’s some creepy shit, right there. As for kissing her eyes… Really? What were they thinking? “Hey baby, I love you so much that I’m gonna give you pink-eye.”? Anyway, the woman’s asleep, you shouldn’t be kissing any part of her, let alone her ocular cavities. Being woken suddenly to find a fish lipped O.A.P. looming over you is enough to give anyone a start. I’m just saying, that’s all.