Tuesday, 14 February 2017

What's Eating Gilbert Grape?


Unfortunately it's not Mrs. Grape.

If you were to inquire why recent posts seemed to be getting more laconic, sardonic, and biting, even to the point of damaging relationships, up until recently I would have come up with some as equally biting and cleverly cynical reply.

However, having had some further time on my hands recently, I had become aware of an underlying black anxiety and sadness, and a piece of advice a good friend gave me this time last year was resounding and rebounding around my head.

'Don't underestimate the amount of stress this will put you under.' he said and I nodded solemnly and did actually tuck it away and maintain awareness.

The 'this' he was referring to was the news that my mum, as you may have previously read, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about this time last year.

Having spent a good portion of time last year helping arrange the care and life changes mum needed, and being gently mindful of my career and finances, once mum was sorted in her wonderful new home, I thought that was the end of the stress my friend had warned me about.

But having only worked 80 hours in six months and having just not been able to get my shit together for that next contract, I started to wonder what was going on.

Sure I haven't always left bridges totally intact after every contract, fair point, and sure it really does look like there is no contract market in Canterbury in the IT portfolio, programme, and project governance and management space, and OK we've just been through the Xmas/NY contract lull, but that shouldn't have prevented me finding work in Wellington or Auckland - or even Ausy by now.

Something was going on, something I didn't want to acknowledge.

My mum has Alzheimers and it is a time-cosuming and energy-draining devastation, and I can't face the fact that to actually work in the area of my chosen career, I will have to move cities again.

I freely admit during the arrangement of her Advanced Care Plan, the Enduring Power of Attorney, the Health Board assessment, finding a care facility, moving her in and basically closing out her life (seriously it was like handling a deceased estate), that upon any day when these activities were taking place, a bottle of red may have also been consumed the same evening.

What I didn't want to admit was that, after she was settled and on any day I went to see her or helped her with something, I was coming away feeling that grim emptiness that watching someone's brain melt before your eyes inevitably brings, and a bottle of red was continuing to be consumed.


So at present mum rates about a 3.5 on the above scale as I've noted that the duty nurses have begun to help mum with some of the tasks associated with 4 above, not because she can't do them physically but because the confusion and memory issues are effecting her ability to understand them without an associated routine.

The weirdest thing is that mum can have good days and bad days. Family members have even indicated that they don't understand why she needs to be in a home at all. They occasionally visit her, which triggers her remaining memory facilities, she puts on her best 'face' and she's as right as rain, for an hour or so.

Spend any longer with her, try arranging a basic life task like shopping or see the gradual decline over regular visits, and you end up with a different picture.

The picture that fortunately for me as her EPA, is supported by the doctors and that CT scan. The CT scan doesn't lie, so I don't have to argue with family members - which is a bonus.

CT Scan examples of Alzheimer's.

Lots of people ask me if mum's got dementia to which I reply 'Yes, she has Alzheimer's.' leading to much confusion.

So here's the deal, Dementias are a set of symptoms and behaviors caused by many brain related injury's, diseases and in some instances, old age.

CT Scan examples of Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's is a specific disease which will cause dementia.

It is a build up of plaque in the blood vessels of the brain which prevents blood flow, leading to areas of the brain atrophying (purple and black areas in the scans above). As areas of the brain atrophy so to the relative brain functions begin to degrade, leading to dementia and ultimately death. That's right Alzheimer's is terminal and currently without cure.

In laymen terms its 'brain rot'.

What people also aren't probably aware of is that from the time of around 3 on the timeline above, the sufferer needs a good deal of support as the ramifications begin to hit home and the frustration continues to build.

I get about one or two calls a day from mum and at least one call a week from the home. Sometimes I get up to three calls a day when she forgets she's rung me.

Mostly her calls are about seemingly trivial things which are 'all important', as the underlying anxiety and need for support, resulting from the confusion she increasingly feels, are projected onto these everyday things.

Sometimes its about maintaining her dignity in a personal matter she isn't ready to share with the home staff.

This is all good with me but what's going to happen if I have to move away for work? On the other hand what's going to happen to my career if I don't?

This is what's eating Gilbert Grape. That right right there.

My friends and family are saying its a no brainer, I should move, but I can't stomach the fear that mum would basically be left alone to cope.

I am torn and the tearing is causing such a black-hearted, frustrated, cynicism that the term 'grumpy old man' just doesn't cut it, fluttering about like a trapped bird in a cage.

Putting relationships on hold because I don't know where I'll be in a year. Firing off expressions of interest nationwide for shit I don't really want to do, but still holding out for a non-existent Christchurch based role. Then realising that I'm completely out of time and money. Then getting one of those calls from the home or mum, requiring, normally, immediate attention.

Tough times - meh, don't shed a tear for me, I don't have Alzheimer's, but if you're unfortunate enough to have a close friend or family member be diagnosed with Alzheimer's, do take my friend's advice.

Do not underestimate the amount of stress it will put you under, otherwise you'll end up writing increasingly negative blog posts!

And in reading back over several of them I can mark the time that my positivity went south... right after the 'Stuff I'm Grateful For 2016' post - actually during it by the looks of things... 😆

Fact is I'm not grateful at all, trying to put a 'good face' on things, grasping at straws and silver linings, surely a practice of the inane and emotionally retarded.

Its led to me blaming the lack of work, sorry state of Christchurch, friends, family, colleagues, society, and even that idiot Trump, for my increased negativity and situation, anything but the thing actually causing it; a likely random selection of - possibly but probably not hereditary - causality streams leading to a family member developing Alzheimer's.

"It is a uniquely devastating disease, not only destroying memories and cognitive capabilities, but robbing victims of independence and joy. For families, caregivers and society at large, Alzheimer's and related dementias are emotionally and financially ruinous. There is neither a cure nor a means of slowing the progression. Cases of the disease are skyrocketing." Jill Lesser and Trish Vradenburg

Alzheimer's - it just sucks balls!

So looks like I've got some tough decisions to make over the next week or so - gah!

BTW, please put the word out: I will manage multi-million dollar IT portfolios for food. 👍😃

Image Sources: http://Scienceblogs.com, http://belairecare.com


Monday, 30 January 2017

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Have you ever had that feeling that you're being watched? That undeniable and creepy feeling that someone or something wants your attention?

Surfers refer to this feeling as 'sharky'. Still, overcast, the perfect environment for predation.

Spiritual people, well on the way to achieving super-creamy centers of heightened, autonomous, cosmic consciousness, refer to this feeling as their 'sixth sense' ("...sshhhhh, I see stupid people... walking around like regular people... only they don't know they're stupid...").

Only yesterday did I get this feeling, intense and close, like some alien being was probing my mind.

There I was sitting, checking FB and waiting for the chiropractor, when that feeling descended on me with some force.

It ws so quietly intense that my spidy senses forced me to look up, and I saw the creature depicted to the left, looming over me.

'I wish to commune.' came the overwhelming telepathic message, 'Whatever it is you are doing with that small, glass-covered, black box, please cease while I initiate the appropriate communication protocol.'



SURRRRP!

'Ah man! You're not tied up, you can go and eat grass.' I implored.

'I have chosen to commune with you instead, puny human. Consider it an honour.'

'But there's grass...?'

Slurrp, 'You taste salty, mmmmmm!'



'Urrrgh...'

'You don't understand and how could you, I have travelled light-years to attend here. To inhabit this vehicle you see before you, in order to commune.'

'But you're a horse!' replied I incredulously.

'Hah! A simple trick to fool you hapless humans. I am Nanthor, leader of our kind and ruler of Equis VII. Tremble before me.'

Slurrrp!


'Erm...'

'We placed these vehicles here long ago in order to inhabit them on occasion. Lulling the witless humans into a false sense of security.' Slurrp!

'Uh huh...'

'I can inhabit this horse, as you call it, at will to plan our eventual return.'

'What to conquer us by licking us to death?"



'Quiet! Foul and petulant human. It is time!'

'For what...?' I asked, fearing the response.

'For the mind-meld...'

Suddenly a deep blue light descended and such fear gripped me that I almost wept - pure tears of laughter.

But even in my desperation was I able to flick my phone to 'selfie' and capture the horror of what happened next.

I warn you, its not for the faint hearted.









'To be fair,' I began, replacing my hat as the blue light began to fade, 'that was just more licking.'

'Quite possibly.' Replied Nanthor, 'But I have achieved what I came for.'

'A good lick?' I ventured.

'I have probed your mind hapless human and know it is time.'

'For more licking?'

'No,' and here Nanthor paused and looked me straight in the eye, 'for the invasion to begin!'

You never know when its going to happen. When an animal will show such trust, curiosity and grooming skills, that one could definitely be forgiven for anthropomorphising just a little, and calling it affection.

Enjoy it in any case!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Apologies For Being... Er... Late


Dear Ms. Jones

I hope this letter finds you well and rested for the coming year.

It has come to my recent attention that my reference to an underlying theme and indeed a punchline from your story, as the premise for this blog, had indeed caused some confusion.

It appears that the majority of people, while able to assimilate word based double entendre of base sexual content, are not certain when it comes to entendre that is triple or multiple; especially when abstract.

It appears that the mental whiplash caused by the several drastic and not always diametrically opposed juxtapositions this brings, breeds a cautious worry and uncertainty in hairless monkeys, rather than humour; even I have to admit to not always being completely certain of the destination these paths have lead to - nor indeed caring.

It would seem that any indication of vulnerability from the male of our species makes most pointedly uncomfortable and leads to social awkwardness. Unsurprisingly it seems that the countries which we inhabit would sooner their male hairless monkeys express themselves violently, with leather clad pig's bladders than honesty and candor; such is the sorry state of evolution.

However, I would like to assure you that my commitment to this particular dead horse is as inane as ever and its practice is intended to continue - mostly because the discomfort factor is too good an opportunity to miss.

Forsooth even, only in these last past weeks was I 'pimped out' by a well meaning friend to a lovely young girl, who by the looks of things was looking forward to heading back to school. The offer of which of course, I graciously declined, despite assurances that she was 'used to old guys'; such is the full ignorance of youth, that the point of my decline was indeed missed.

This has however, following on as it does from a prolonged period of singleness and as you may be familiar, triggered a rather drastic retake of my situation.

Spending one new years eve alone was a bucket list item and resoundingly achieved.

Spending two new years eves in a row alone was a stoic and Gothic undertaking with not a great deal of personal cost - mainly because I didn't finish with the horses until 8:30 that particular eve.

Spending three new years eves in a row alone, bereft of invitations when in one's home town, causes one to pause and wipe the sentiment from their eyes - the adage that one does not choose their family is no soothing ointment alone on NYE midnight I can tell you, and indeed wonder if one spent enough effort nurturing support structures in the previous months - or indeed if one is actually a C-bombCensored.


Erring on the side of caution, assuming the last statement is indeed correct, this brave new year of 2017 Ms. Jones, sees me in no real position to satisfy any justification of joy, as the realisation that the profession I have chosen may just not exist in my home town, comes crashing down around my empty coffers.

With only the merest blip of a shadow on the horizon in terms of date prospects and given the above, I have resolved to throw an enormous sulk for the rest of the year, further isolating myself from the machinations of mediocre.

'Hell in a hand-basket' is the motto for 2017, as people hope that it'll be better than 2016: about that, it's filled with the same people that made 2016 such a joy, so yea, about that.

And I remind you that this potentially all-time blistering hyper-sulk follows on from the all-encompassing post-quake mega-sulk of 2011-2014, triggered by people so passive-aggressive, you hardly noticed they’d spoken until the blood began to drip and you wondered why you’d done it yourself.

Which itself lead into the wide-reaching post-dumped meta-sulk of 2014-2016: death comes quickly to all on this plane of opposites, and everything, everything turns to dust.

Acknowledging having once more regressed into a level of adolecent angst and hostility that even teenagers would be hard pressed to match, I can only feel sorry for any date prospects for the coming year...

...That's right... Fish and Chips, no expense spared - as long as the budget is under $20... no, I'll eat next week.. er.. later, no I'm not bitter... haha, no I don't hate everybody, that would be stupid... more wine? Yes... just lift the carboard tab and squeeze the plastic thingy... mmmmm, voted best vintage of last month...

Apt that a generous xmas present, an eight-year-old single malt and close companion these past weeks - but alas now consumed, was named 'Trails End'.

Verily does this seem the case on so many levels.

Yet despite these carfangling particpals Ms. Jones, it is with some significant comfort that I find in our mutual mindsets, but no wonder that I too remain,
Yours - perhaps soon if I'm lucky - destined to die alone,
Eaten by cats.


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

A Crisis of Species: How to Save the Planet


Credit: kwest/Shutterstock.com

Now it's true I have been labelled a doom and gloom merchant before. Mostly by people who don't have the fortitude and resolution to accept things as they really are and fix root cause issues.

I've known this labelling is just social pettiness and passive ostracism, but this was borne out when I moved to another, larger, more sophisticated town and I was repeatedly told I was not direct enough and to 'call things as I saw them' - which was refreshing and vindicating.

But - and some would say its a big one - everything's relative I guess and the underlying social principle - avoiding the truth to avoid uncomfortable change, is significant in the context of saving our planet.

And man our planet is screwed. We're all doomed. Its over. We're all going to die!

Nah, don't cry, its still savable - just - but if I'm concerned about our planet then seriously you should be too.

I mean really, me caring about the planet? What's that about? I'm a selfish and un-evolved arsehole at best.

Previously I just couldn't give a hoot if pressed on the subject, pass me the wine and another 100 gallons of petrol why you're at it.

I have no interest in seeing humanity survive because I didn't succumb to the biological drive to breed. In fact at the risk of triggering your ire and ostracism (further), at this point in time I'm actually doubting humanity really has what it takes or deserves to continue on as a species in any case. The term 'dumbarses' comes to mind.

But then over the last few months the facts and figures being spewed out by some pretty credible sources have made me feel sad and angry, and ashamed at being human. I used one of the facts in a previous post - 40% of species extinct in last ten years - but in the last few weeks I've read different statistics, so in this post I thought I'd just check different sources to get a more rounded view.

The post itself was prompted by a bunch of Vegans posting on Facebook about how their lifestyle requires less land to be intensively managed to support their Vegan diet. What? That's selective. If you drive a car and have a pet dog or cat - which because you're a bunch of psuedo-intellectual, starry-eyed, hippies you will - then the associated land mass required to support your lifestyle is as intensive and large as any one else's. Dumbarses. It makes me mad. Go eat a fricking steak and stop wasting our time.

Also with the celebrations of the new year still ringing in our ears and bravado-filled resolutions still resounding around the halls, considering what we can do to help save the planet once again becomes a thing we feign interest about.

Because of these things and like those Vegan-hippie-dunderheads - seriously go eat a fricking steak - I thought I'd give you my unsolicited, five cents worth of advice about how to save the planet.

First lets check out some different, more conservative sources to see what's going on with our planet.


If its a democracy your government has most likely, officially recognised 'climate change', there is no debate any more.

For instance the New Zealand government has an international policy on climate change, it has published information regarding impacts to its regions, it even has information on how specific communities need to prepare for the coming changes.

The only debate regarding this official recognition by governments is the conservative models they've used, which forecast drastic change only past the end of this century. So now the 'crazy-arsed' scientists are imploring them to consider more dynamic climate change models with forecasts of 20 to 30 years.

But these scientists are just trouble-making doom and gloom merchants I hear you say. Actually these were the same scientists who warned us about climate change in the first place. But no matter, you know best.

So heading over to NASA now because they are a conservative organisation who aren't materially invested in flying the climate change flag. What are they saying?

Well here's what they are saying: "Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities..."

Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.

Man, the sheer amount of material these guys have researched and collated is staggering, the body of evidence is breathtaking, and just look at the current level of atmospheric CO2! Once again there is no debate.

Finally lets go visit the World Wildlife Fund, in this context we would consider them a biased source of information as, at our most cynical, we would consider them as having a financially vested interest in supporting  the 'save the planet' agenda - but then again they are experts.


"Humans are behind the current rate of species extinction, which is at least 100–1,000 times higher than nature intended. WWF’s 2014 Living Planet Report found wildlife populations of vertebrate species—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish—have declined by 52 percent over the last 40 years..."

Oh shit! 52%! We're all going to die. Alarm! Alarm! Save yourselves! Women, children and dashingly handsome middle-aged bachelors first!

Unsurprisingly the WWF has screeds of information about the climate and various species, and environments. It turns out putting actual numbers or figures on extinction rates is a hard thing to do but while the facts are all there, WWF has a very positive focus and uses really small words to convey its messages, so go take a look, you should enjoy it.


Now lets get a more contemporary view from everybody's favourite fashion magazine.

Even Vogue has recognised climate change and provided a list of the 9 most endangered wilderness sites to visit in 2017.

There's a part of me concerned that people are being encouraged to place further strain on these environments because its fashionable but it really is about increasing tourism with controlled visits to help conservation efforts. Good on them all.

So there is no debate, the facts are in and verified, and the human driven impacts to the Holocene extinction and climate change are beyond doubt - and are even fashionable.

But if you think I've been a doom and gloom merchant in the past, hold on to your petticoat because my pragmatic view of what you can do to save the planet is terminally dismal.

The answer, that you can't do anything to save the planet, we're all doomed, its time to kiss your arse goodbye, is not completely accurate or helpful.

This is because, more importantly, the answer is that because of present human nature you, most likely, *won't* do anything to save the planet; not before its too late.

It's not just about reducing emissions and carbon footprints. It's not about doing your part to recycle, the time for individual action has passed. Its not about canvasing governments and organisations to change because despite our sheltered western upbringing, the 'other guys' aren't democracies and don't give a shit about the west.

It's about the fact that we are facing a crisis of species.

Edward's Dodo - as in soon we will be dead as it.

Its only by acting as a species that we will prevent the changes in our environment. This is why I wrote a whole lot of weird solutions, most not remotely related to the environment, in my previous post, listed here again because as a species we should be:
- replacing money with an alternative form of exchange
- supporting the rise of enlightened self interest
- replacing cities with the reestablishment of smaller self-sustaining, technologically interconnected social communities
- supporting and legislating the fall of bigotry and actual rise of equality
- arranging the fall of the world's remaining despots and supporting the next evolution of democracy
- developing the exchange of organised religion as our primary 'moral' compass with the establishment of scientifically based and legislatively defined personal and interpersonal standards
- ensuring a focus on equal resource distribution around the world and eradicating greed
- developing a programme to control our breeding habits - without reverting to totalitarianism
- breaking the breeder-consumer cycle

Why do we need to do these things?

Because all of them, if left unchanged, prevent humanity as a species evolving. Because we have stopped adapting and are now protecting an unsustainable lifestyle.

When a species stops adapting it goes extinct.

Without making inroads on the solutions above, the threat of uncontrolled change to our breeding and consumption-based lifestyles is too significant. That's why we've become complacent and apathetic. These are signs that we are avoiding change and having to actually and materially do something to change *how* we live. Encouraging the status quo.

This is why as a species we haven't stopped the rising temperatures to date.

But the solutions above are the things that will be necessary for us to survive as a species and to slow down, retard, and ultimately revert rising temperatures to a level sustainable for subsequent generations. We will have to evolve socially, otherwise - as a species - we just won't cut it.

There's no point half the world agreeing to make changes and there's no point in making changes unless we address the fast approaching oil, fresh water, and food shortage tipping points. We can't address these until we make a change in our current modus operandi as a species.

But then thinking and envisioning change at the level of our species is almost impossible. Its hard, what with the kids, work, relationships, money troubles, mortgages, debts... and the car needs a service... And on the surface changing as a species may seem to contradict our basic human rights. This is unacceptable - or will be until we run out of oil, water, and food, then human rights will be the last things we think about as society degrades into something like a Mad Max movie - I am the Night Rider! Oh yea!

The Night Rider R.I.P - will not be around to see the social degradation caused by likely tipping points.

But if history tells us anything its that we will go to war for resources and territory... and religion. We also have a history and culture of not doing things until something tragically bad makes us. Of not making changes and sacrifice today to make something better tomorrow.

So what do you think will happen when as humans we actually approach the tipping points?

"So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate." Theoden.

Ironically it will be another temporary solution to climate change - a drastic reduction in the number of humans.

This is why I think World War Three is highly likely in the next twenty years but not necessarily inevitable.

This is why I see a near future of conflict, struggle, and war as humanity retrospectively fumbles in making the changes necessary to evolve as a species. In this context the continuing fall in 'world' trends regarding armed conflict merely reflect a Western viewpoint - why is this significant? Hint - most of the oil isn't in the west and at the moment we have some.

However, in this context the rising temperatures and sea levels are just nature's way of telling humans to evolve - or die out. It doesn't care, this is the sixth time nature's most dominant life form will have died out - and its recovered from all five previous mass extinction events.

So I ask myself why I'm so angry at the state of the planet if I don't really care about its ultimate doom in terms of supporting humans. The answer has surprised me.

I do actually care - go figure.

It turns out I am tired of the dunderheads and dumbarses, blustering and billowing in their attempts to sort things out by trying to fix the symptoms.

We actually do need to wake up to what's necessary to save our planet before our species goes the way of the dinosaurs... blah, blah, blah... ah man, I need to get out more, I'm turning into a grumpy, opinionated old man.

At least when I'm on my deathbed I can look back and feel good about making an effort to save the planet.

No I didn't stop driving a petrol-driven car, no I didn't really do my bit to recycle or reduce my rate of consumption, but at least I pointed humanity in the direction of solutions to all its major problems 😀

So I remain yours, destined to die alone from hunger and thirst, eaten by cats.

PS: when you're standing there urinating on my grave, just remember I was even willing to step up in a constructive and supportive environment and help develop those solutions. I even got off my arse and wrote this blog. What did you do to save the planet, because after all your personal effort, it turns out the real issue had nothing to do with carbon-footprints and CO2 emissions?


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Why After 40, Love Often Lies Bleeding


"...and now I'm going to make your silver pants blue..."  Movie: Forty Year Old Virgin, painting toy soldiers sequence.

Perhaps we are nothing but our biology and once the time for breeding has come and gone, so too our need for strong pair-bonds diminishes, until it is caught on the wind and lost forever—like youth and taut skin. Perhaps.

But—and some would same its a big one—I would not only suggest that for some of us 40-plus singles, not only does our love lie bleeding but also that rotting smell is a result of love's jugular being so cleanly severed, that it crawled off somewhere nearby to bleed out and die; and having found a safe haven underneath our battered egos, finally collapsed and stopped breathing.

Sure the majority of those with school age kids, who still need the safe warmth of our breeding farms - the suburbs - won't be out of relationships for long if they can wrangle it. That's fine, we will not detract from their unconscious drives to maintain a decent environment for their offspring.


But what about the rest of us?

Well there's Tinder for a start.

For some of my friends this has been the real revolution, freedom and NSA sex with multiple partners at the swipe of a finger. For others it has been a totally demoralising experience dealing with people who are not what they say they are and who are often carrying a few more pounds or wrinkles than their pictures suggest.

To be fair, swinging websites have been around since the turn of the century and used to be the bees knees for casual hook-ups with NSA, but nowadays are infested with people 'just looking' or looking 'for the one'. Wait. Hold it. You're looking for 'the one' on a swinging site? Are you sure you're on the right site? I don't think so - and for those Tinder members who swear blind your casual hook-ups aren't classed as swinging - yes, yes they are, and for those that insist Tinder is a dating site - LOL!

So then there's the actual dating sites which came in with a bang, then seemed to peter out, then had a bizarre staying power until they've almost became the norm. But my own personal experience has not been good - there's a lesson here for everyone. Don't give your address out until you are certain that the person receiving it is not a psycho-hose-beast. There was wine, I was drunk, it was late. Won't do it again. Enough said.

But I was surprised when talking to a mate the other day, only to find that, like me, he was taking advantage of the spare time his long term singleness was affording him, not rushing headlong back into a relationship, and that we were both seemingly content yet turning into very grumpy old men.

For instance we agreed we're not on Tinder or dating sites for one reason: we just couldn't muster the kind of energy and enthusiasm required to pretend to care about what a prospective partner is talking about...

...Wow, really, three kids? Great. Uh huh, you unconsciously want to pair-bond again, with me as the provider, so they get a family environment again? Completely understandable. No, sorry, I don't follow insertsporthere but its impressive how you've adopted a pseudo-fondness for the game to make you seem more like one of the guys. Ah no, unfortunately I don't like dancing, going out to clubs, or having to see your dumbarse ex at weekends and holiday time. Yes, that's right, I don't get out much, aha, aha, ahahahahahaha. Why no, thank you for asking, but surprisingly I never wanted to have kids. Not once, ever. No, no real reason, perhaps I just didn't want my offspring to have to play with yours...

Hmmmm, OK, that was maybe a little harsh... but after we've sat through the riveting run down of how it was all their ex's fault and banged our knees on the recently reestablished virginal pedestals—wanna get to Tinsel town? Better start prepping for Dante's journey my friend—my mate and I would still feel the need to buy dinner, not because we're chauvinist, but because it really is still the expected norm by all genders - and we're broke.

So biological drivers aside I guess the other reason we pair up is for companionship, but this is perhaps more insidious than it first may seem.

What we're hoping for is that someone with a low enough self-esteem will stick around and put up with our shit long enough to become our interdependent mirror. Relying on someone who will become a familiar reference point for us to cling to during the storms and gales that blow through our lives across time. Then the game becomes who lives the shortest and leaves the other poor sucker behind to deal with their own life-sized broken mirror.

This does not strike me as something to look forward to particularly.

More so, at my age I've recognised and can appreciate that certain pair-bonded quality that only time can provide - an intimately common and shared experience across decades. Its a facet of this kind of relationship that is often overlooked, yet is deeply vitalising and stabilising.

But as grim as it may sound, I have to face the fact that I've got 15 - 20 years left max. So I'll be dead before I achieve those lengths of time in another relationship - so I ask what is the point and am I really turning into a terminally miserable bastard?

I guess what we're seeing here is a failure to find the right motivation and approach back into a pair-bonded relationship and someone who is - finally - over casual sex and the messes that are friends with benefits - really, you want me to stick what, where? No I don't want to sleep with you and your friend. No, thanks for asking but I don't want to sleep with you and your ex either; and please, please stop making sounds like an American porn star! Isn't there something on telly you want to watch? No? Can I drop you somewhere?

"Oooh bae-bee, oooh bae-bee, oooh bae-bee..."

Crivens!

I know, lets break it down and do the math. Science!

There are 3.6 billion women on the earth and roughly 909 million of them are in the age range I would consider for establishing a long term relationship.

Of those women only 10% would have the same or more earning potential as me, so that’s 90.9 million.

Because of the salary discrepancy between men and women, something I’ve never understood—us men really seem to be an insecure bunch of dunderheads, who can identify only with their profession, car, latest house extension or power tool—at a discrepancy of around 21% less in total dollars earned, its more probable that only around 60 million of those women would earn the same or more than me (that’s not a harsh criterion, just fair).

Now of those 60 million only 25% would be single and straight/bi, so that’s 15 million.

Of those 15 million an astounding 35% would be interested in horses; take it from one who has, in the past, acted like a complete and total arse because of this, with horses the commitment level creates a situation ripe for resentment.

So that leaves 5.25 million women in the world that are potentially available for yours truly, oh yea giggady!

Of those lucky ladies only 47.6% would not have children, leaving a veritable smorgasbord of roughly 2.5 million women on the planet, which still fit into my rather loose and flexible potential partner criteria.

Now I reckon on the attractiveness scale I rate as 'not completely hideous' and understandably this is why you gals have made it perfectly clear over the years that at least 99.999% of you clearly aren’t fxxxxxx interested... leaving me with approximately 25,000 women who might be, remotely, interested.

Apportion that across the countries I can feasibly live in then, to allow for the possibility of actually meeting these special women, at 0.88% of the world’s population, that’s 220 hoes of hope.

But subtracting from that the number of those women that would be voted most likely to boil a bunny, leaves only 22—and I hasten to add that I would expect the same proportion of men to come up psycho trumps if the entire equation was inverted.

Then subtract from that those women that wouldn't put up with my shit for more than a week and we’re left with 6.

Subtract from that the women I’d lose respect for after a month or two, for putting up with my shit for more than a week in a manner that compromised their integrity, and we’re left with maybe 2 or 3.

And this doesn't even take into account my preferred criteria: educated, professional, at least one semi-professional art or craft, and a deep fascination about the universe.

Which just leaves snoring, fingers crossed!

But I'm sure you'll agree it's become clear that biology, psychology and population distribution, not to mention the very fabric of space-time, are the mountains which prevent the fluid achievement of meaningful relationships post 40 - which I guess is good to know because I thought it was something to do with my sunny personality...

PS If you indeed are that special lady and don’t snore or mind someone who occasionally does, then please apply PO Box 555, Sunnyvale Mental Care Institution, Sunnyvale, Canterbury.

PPS in the deep of the night not five days ago, I was awakened by a fearsome sound. I really thought something or someone had broken into my house. I was scared, it was such an unusually fear-instilling sound that had urged me from my slumber that my whole body had tensed. I even thought about grabbing my phone in preparation for calling the police. But after straining to hear what had made the sound in my half awake state and on hearing nothing more, I was soon drifting back into sleep. No sooner had I relaxed however, then was I again awakened by that deep, resounding, and terrifying noise - it was me, snoring.

So I remain yours, single, destined to die alone, eaten by cats 😀


Sunday, 18 December 2016

A Novel Way to Publish: Close But No Cigar


"... you didn't miss by far, you know you came so close." T. Dolby

During the long dark of winter and the early cold haze of spring I did something that is rare for me. I finished writing a novel.

This was surprising on two counts because I already had two other novels on the go, a gothic horror nearly finished and a crime novel about two thirds of the way through. But no I had to go and start another novel. Its a wonder I get anything finished.

Then I thought "well I'm broke, so lets stick it up online for free as a blog and see what happens."

The Serene Giant: a pulp science fiction novel completed in the dark of winter 2016

Then I started reading a novel I'd written in 2007 and found the grammar, paragraph structure, and general writing were just awful! But I still liked the story so a complete revamp occurred using the skills and experience I'd gained in the nearly ten years that preceded its original creation.

So I stuck that up online as well as a blog and thought 'well, we'll see what happens.'

The Sol Dichotomy: a ripping Earth Invasion novel

Well nothing happened, due to the mix of the wrong media, no marketing or advertising (I can't do everything!), and a simple lack of interest.

Day after day the stats for the blogs sat at zero, no one was reading them, although there's a slim possibility that someone in France is reading a chapter of the Serene Giant every week - but I think this is in reality a netbot.

So after crying those hot tears of disappointment my arrogance knew no bounds and I decided to supply the manuscripts as unsolicited entries to Double Dragon.

After another serious round of editing to adhere to the submission formatting guidelines - where I re-learnt what polishing a novel really means, off went the Serene Giant. Answer - thanks but no thanks.

Then I fired off the Sol Dichotomy and waited. I waited a while. This was odd, what could it mean? They had a lot of submissions? They were actually reading the book?

Then the answer, we would have published your book but won't be because its already up online - but the story is 'seemingly good'.

Ahhhhhgggggg!

After the sobbing and floods of tears had stopped, and the heart-wrenching dissappointment subsided, a little voice inside my head whispered soothingly, it said 'don't give up, they thought your book was seemingly good, seemingly enough to have published it if it hadn't been online... they would have published it... it was seemingly good...'

Talk about clutching at straws.

I then remembered about Stephen King and his words from his non-fiction book 'On Writing' - in summary 'just keep going'. He had a notice board above his typewriter covered in rejection letters before Carrie was published.

But - and some would say its a big one - to be fair, and after the first round of rejection in 2007 from New Zealand publishers because "it wasn't about New Zealand" - what? Its a science fiction novel you twats!- with this level of rejection statistics it surely won't be too long before someone publishes me and I did get so very close after only seven abject rejections.

You see I'm an old traditionalist. I will not accept that I'm a 'real author' until a publisher actually publishes one of my novels. Harsh but fair - as I am to others so unto myself. I've been through the 'vanity release' stuff with the music videos and singles, that's the bar I've set.

So there you have it, I would have been a published novelist by now if it wasn't for the blogs, close but no cigar - just fucking typical.

But should you want some seemingly good and free reading over your break:
- try the Serene Giant if you're looking for a hard science fiction epic with quantum and temporal weirdness that will blow your mind, and that is full of AIs, swearing and black comedic cynicism.
- try the Sol Dichotomy if you're into strong female leads, characters with real feelings, facing the tough and grim fact that the world as they knew it has ended.

If you prefer to read on your reader, just message me or leave a comment here, and I'll produce a PDF for you. 

Otherwise its OK, I understand, you're busy.

And to those intrepid pioneers that have consumed my novels in varying states of edit - Chris, Brendan, Spiro, Natty-J, to name a few - I thank you for your time and feedback.

I suppose I better get back to banging my head against the wall and finish those other novels...

...one of them ties in with that album I've been demoing... 

...I need an agent/manager...

FML

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Xmas 2026


Xmas 2026: View from the south-west across the Canterbury Plains towards the foothills of Banks Peninsular

My nephew has just returned with the water rations, manhandling the huge containers full of this world's most precious liquid, up the steep slopes, using the yoke my brother made for the job.

I'm not really surprised at this action, its just that ten years ago it wouldn't have taken me two days to travel the thirty kilometers to my brother's house to spend xmas with him, and water came out of a tap. For me, a bit slow to assimilate new stuff, it all still seems a bit weird.

My nephew grins at me watching him, 'Keeps me fit Uncle.' he says with a wry smile, wresting the yoke from his back as my brother rushes to steady one of the containers.

He's still single at twenty-six, having spent a good portion of those last ten years fighting in the middle-east, before the oil reserves ran out and we nuked the place... and realised that it wasn't oil that was the world's most precious liquid after all.

Funny how things turn out.

But I'm still concerned and have been for some years about my brother and his family.

'I still reckon you should move out to the country, to the Alps.' I say to him, we have a good mode of sorting through life's problems with easy rhetoric, shooting all manner of troubled breezes in an almost breathy air of non-commitment,  'No one rations the aquifers for domestic use, not yet anyway.'

Xmas 2026: Some of the last remaining natural greenery, on the last remaining, usable, tar-sealed road, heading into the Southern Alps.

'Yea, maybe.' he responds, 'Just gotta wait till the rains come and we'll be back on supply, and we'll get next month's petrol ration after xmas.'

But I know he's not keen to leave the house that's been his home for the last twenty years, rebuilt after the 2011 earthquake, as much as we all know the rains won't come for months, and that when they do they'll be torrential; further destabilising the hills around Banks Peninsular.

'Yea I guess, its just seems easier than waiting on the Council to manage the supply.'

'You've turned into a fricking hippie.' he replies, jibing me at the village life where my wife and I live in a small collective community, where I now help run the communications infrastructure for the local region, nestled in the foothills of the Southern Alps.

'Haha, reckon, who'd a thought?' I say helping my nephew with the second container.

'You're a hippie-dippie Uncle Dave, power's on Dad.' says my niece, coming down to see what we're doing and to let my brother know that the promised power over the xmas period seems to have enventuated.

I turn and see her smiling, proud at the woman she has grown into and the fact that she and her husband have travelled for over a week to get to my brother's for xmas.

'Yea, that's me, a fricking hippie.' I say returning her smile, 'Still, at least we can generate our own power.'

I see my my brother flash one of his grimaces as we all head back upstairs, letting me know he doesn't agree with me, but I can't shake the feeling that his days next to the crumbling ruins of Christchurch are numbered. 

Xmas 2026: Christchurch sunrise from the old estuary, can just see the sea in the distance.

It only took ten years for the world to go to pot, for the cities to fail, for the droughts and floods to hit so hard they took out eighty percent of our infrastructure and caused massive loss of life, something even the earthquakes failed to do for the years they were active.

Despite predictions from most environmental modelling of the first few decades of the 21st century and everyone's expectations, the sea level actually dropped. There were no giant tsunamis, no giant power waves wreaking destruction on coastal areas, just the gradual receding shoreline, unending droughts, and rain filled weather bombs.


Combined with the gradual change in overall weather patterns and fiercer and fiercer extremes of weather events, the dearth of water quickly caused once arable land to sour and become arid. Most of us think these changes started way back in the early naughties, but apparently the remaining scientists - when we hear from them - say the changes were occurring even before that.

But apparently the sea level is still due to rise, so at least that's something to look forward to.

Xmas 2026: Lake Lyndon, a water reserve of the Otira Region settlement. In the distance the desert conditions, which seem to creep forward a few meters each year and each year the lake levels drop a few more inches.

'Drink?' 

Back upstairs in the living room, my brother hands me a class of crystal clear and cool water, which I take gratefully and then plonk down on his sofa as he heads back into the kitchen. Its like receiving a glass of wine, something to be savoured, as I don't really need it.

I stare out across the haze at the panoramic view of the Canterbury Plains that my brother's living room affords. I must be a little depressed or down - it is Xmas after all - as I cannot but try and fathom the changes, as I take in the desert landscape before me and the memories come flooding back.

There was a point where I watched the stream of refugees from Chirstchurch head West to the Army run camps set up in the foothills of the Alps, during the exodus back in 2021, and had thought I'd never see any of my family members again.

It's not as though the city collapsed overnight or anything remotely as dramatic, but there was just a point where the city's infrastructure could not sustain the population and a slow evacuation had begun. A point where the fighting over food and water, looting, depleting water supply and general unrest became too much for anyone to bear. 

A gradual trickle became a flood as sevety percent of Christchurch's population made their way away from their homes and streamed across the blistering plains on foot to get to the camps, driven by the need for water.

Xmas 2026: Lake Hawdon, slow progress in decreasing the Ph and associated toxin levels, but local scientist says it'll be a usable water source by 2028. 

The dramatic part if any, is that none of them were ever seen again. No one really knows what happened to them, although the rumours suggested massive riots and an associated death-toll, the official line from the government at the time was that they had been evacuated to the North Island.

But having already relocated deep into the foothills of the Alps years before with my wife, I can distinctly remember watching the shuffling hordes day after day, in the hope that if my brother and his family were among them, we'd catch sight of them through the huge clouds of dust and haul them back to our place. I remember my lovely wife had tears streaming down her grimy face almost every day, christ I had tears streaming down my ugly mug almost every day. It was a bad scene.

My brother and nephew come and sit next to me.

'The girls say dinner will be soon.' says my brother budging up next to me to make room form my nephew.

'Cool, did those lettuces travel well?'

'Yep, really appreciate you bringing extra, we haven't had any since last year.'

Xmas 2026: Rain clouds at sunset over the central Alps, now a localised phenomena and in stark contrast to the plains only kilometers away.

'No problems, we planted extra for you guys.' I reply and again my concerns come to the fore, 'Why don't you guys come out and have another look round Otira after xmas? Just to, you know, look around. again, and feel actual rain, it'd be like a holiday... you guys look like you could use a break.'

'Yea, I suppose it wouldn't hurt and we have been talking about it.' says my brother in a resigned breath out.

'That wasn't so hard now?' I say and nudge him playfully and catch my nephew's eye as he nods almost imperceptibly.

'We could definitely use your guy's skills, we have a drone programme starting up. The Aerials are almost complete but they're having problems with the tech.'

This is unfair of me and my nephew, a set up, both of us knowing that my brother is a whiz with and passionate about anything that flies; both of us know that the ever decreasing number of people living around my brother and sister-in-law on the hill, means he doesn't have the 'just staying coz our friends are here' reason to wheel out this year; and I catch my brother's wistful yet unfocused stare.

'Cool, my stuff hasn't been working for ages...'

'Cool, sorted, you can come out in January, we can play wargames.' I say to cement the deflection away from the setup.

'Great.' he replies sarcastically.

Again my nephew nods and gets up to head back into the kitchen, leaving my brother and I sitting staring out at the desert.

Xmas 2026: West Melton on the way to my brothers, can't believe I used to live here! Where are all the houses?!

'It's still crazy.' I venture.

'Yea I know, seems like only last year we moved up here.'

'Yea, who'd thought we'd fuck it up so badly?'

My brother laughs, 'Reckon, been thinking about it. There was so much we needed to be doing, not just the eco, green bullshit stuff.'

'Yea, I know what you mean, we kinda needed to get our shit together in so many ways.'

My brother nods.

We are referring to what's commonly known as a HAONPU or a hindsight application of no practical use.

In the years leading up to the relevant ecological tipping points we should have been working on replacing money with an alternative form of exchange, and supporting the rise of enlightened self interest. We should have been replacing cities with the reestablishment of smaller self-sustaining, technologically interconnected social communities.

We even should have been supporting and legislating the fall of bigotry and actual rise of equality, while arranging the fall of the world's remaining despots and supporting next evolution of democracy.

Even developing the exchange of organised religion as our primary 'moral' compass with the establishment of scientifically based and legislatively defined personal and interpersonal standards.

Xmas 2026: Only one dust storm for the entire trip to my brother's house, bonus!

All of these things were needed to prevent the endless cycles of consumerism and the rape of the planet, and none of which were directly related to ecology.

But this would have entailed some discomfort and a real change in our consumer cycles - like ensuring a focus on equal resource distribution around the world, eradicating greed, and ultimately developing a programme to control our breeding habits - without reverting to totalitarianism.

So we didn't change a thing, even in 2016 when we realised we'd wiped out 40% of the world's species in just over ten years, we still did nothing.

As I stared across the now arid countryside of the Canterbury Plains, infrastructure stripped for use elsewhere - even the roads - trees long since gone, I relaised that we probably couldn't have made the social and cultural changes in any case, not without a real impetus, and that hindsight really was a useless bitch.

And later that night, as I listened and joined in with the 'Here's to xmas 2026, cheers!' resounding around the sparsely provided xmas table, I wondered what we were all actually going to do next.