All Hallows Read 2016 - aftermath

It was a good night. Quieter than the previous couple but they were on a Friday and Sat, so I expected this to be slightly more sedate.

My kids were a Creeper from Minecraft, and a zombie pirate respectively.  Daughter's zombie pirate said, "braaaaains aaaannnd treasure... braaaaaains annnnd treasure..."  Later she added, "If you don't give me treasure, I'll eat your brains!"

Son was very pleased so many people recognised he was a Creeper :)

LaZ 2016.jpg

As is the trend I've noted other years, girls usually go to a lot more effort than boys.  Better (usually home-made or cobbled together) costumes, make-up, etc.  Some boys make an effort, but for most they buy something.  Girls make stuff, or at least add on to what they have.

One of the boys who came around, and who'd made an effort, proudly told me he still had his book from last year, which was nice. One girl in a great, home-made spider costume, complete with eight eyes, was happy enough with the chocolate crackle. When I told her she could have a book as well, she screamed, "Books!" excitedly.  I let her choose hers, because I figured she'd earned the choice :)


This little group rocked up again. I remembered them from last year, and they remembered us. They offered us lollies before we had a chance to offer them books, but were all happy to get some reading material.


These were the last of the night.  First time they'd ever done the trick or treat thing, and were apparently voracious readers.  The girl at the front picked a book that she loved and had to keep borrowing from the local library - so now she's the proud owner of her own copy!

Needless to say, that makes me super happy!


And we have books left! We usually only have a small handful, but this time we have a few, which gives me a good headstart on next year.  Means I can look at the age-ranges I'm short on, and add more variety next year.

All up, it was a good night.  And I've already had a few people offer money and books for next year - Yay!
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The first photo is of tonight's set-up, the second is of the generous book donation from Guttermonkey! It's help to swell the number of books, and their variety, very nicely given I was a slack bugger this year!

All Hallows Read 2016

All set up for #AllHallowsRead!

Not as many books this year. Last year I had money troubles, but fortunately many generous people donated cash to help me purchase books.

This year I was simply short of time, because life got in the way, so my buying happened at the last minute. Still spent a couple of hundred, though it doesn't look like it. Most of the books I ordered arrived on time, but a handful are late, so I'll have those put aside for next year! :)

And I'd also like to thank both Katrine and Guttermonkey! Katrine for offering to give me money towards this year's All Hallows Read, and GutterMonkey for the surprise package of books that arrived.

Thank to all the people who have offered money to help out. Wondering if I should do the GoFundMe thing again for those souls who want to help give spooky books on Halloween.

Anyway, updates will occur later-ish

Tried putting photos in this post, but LJ wouldn't let me - weird!

Still Alive Ten Years On

So today marks the 10th anniversary, of the first day, of the two-week long basilar migraine that gave me a stroke equivalent. That took ten months to be properly diagnosed, because it is a rare and confusing thing, much like myself.

Ten years! Over one fifth of my life! There are people who I think of as good mates who have never known me before the stroke. So weird. I used to be a hyperactive little bastard, capering about and being maniacal. Now, somewhat less so.

Post stroke I got rather quieter.

I struggled watching TV shows. Even Doctor Who I found taxing. I just couldn't concentrate. Forget about films. Only thing I found I could watch was Smallville.

Much better these days. I still have issues with complex drama now, but only when mentally tired. Admittedly that happens more often now, but I can watch and appreciate interesting and challenging films and TV once more.

Books! Couldn't read them! Same problem as TV, I didn't have the concentration.

But years and many reread Terrance Dicks Doctor Who novelisations later, I can read again. I recently read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the first time. What a fabulous book! Getting in to a lot of older works in recent times. M. R. James, Jane Austen, that sort of vintage. And buy/reading a lot of Terrance Dicks' non Doctor Who work as well.

Writing. My ability to write fiction slowly vanished, robbing me of a hugely successful career as one of millions of authors who struggle along just trying to bring in less than half minimum wage. I used to be able to pump out 2000 words easily, and 4000 in a sitting was not uncommon. They may not have been great words, but that what editing is for.

I still have all the inspirations, I develop plots and characters and themes, but getting them down in pixels doesn't usually get beyond a page or two. Have started to have ideas to get around my issues, but I'm not pinning any hopes to them. While I refuse to accept that part of my life is dead, I also don't expect it to spring back to life.

Reading maps. Was good, now I'd be buggered without a GPS.

Remembering names. Was awful, now I can still name the entire family I met for one night in Eucla a few weeks back. Best new toy, ever! One of the advantages of brain having to retire around damage, and a huge bonus when playing Father Christmas! A child does a return visit a week or two later, you wave and greet them by name, it makes their day.

Same with my kids' school chums - I've had a few children be ridiculously pleased that I remembered their names, even though I've only met them once before. Makes them feel like they matter to an adult, which makes me happy.

Walking. Ended up on a walking stick because my balance was shot. Now, I've been off it for four to five years.

Headaches. I get these a lot. I describe them as migraines for the same reason I describe what happened to me as a stroke - because people understand the reference almost immediately without the need for lengthy explanations, and they're closely related enough in terms of the effects that it's still accurate.

What I actually get is cluster headaches, which sounds less intense until you hear that they're also called suicide headaches. I sometimes go months without any, but once they start I have to hope that the run will be short, because months and months of blinding headaches that make my skin hyper sensitive to all sensation, including clothes and air moving past it, is somewhat exhausting.

Fortunately my cluster headaches seem to be at the lower end of the spectrum. I can still function through the pain. Well, a bit. Some of the time. But they are still super tiring.

Depression. Managed to mostly handle this through exercise since my 20s, but stroke and becoming a parent removed most of my time and reserves, meaning it became more of an issue.

I've been on the lowest possible anti-depressant prescription for a few years now. It's enough to help me past the first hurdle to do the things I need to do to keep myself okay. I still have bad days, and occasionally bad weeks, where the self-loathing and depression fibs kick the crap out of me, but mostly I'm good.

Sensory Processing Disorder - this is new. Well, it's new in terms of I now know I have it. It's old in terms of the fact I've always had it. My son was diagnosed with it, and while talking to his physical therapist about him she listed a number of things kids with SPD might do to cope with the world, and basically listed a pretty solid range of my behaviours as a child and teenager. We talked about it, and she agreed that in light of my son and my history, it was 98% certain I had it.

Basically it puts one on or near the autism spectrum, though very high functioning in the case of Lex and I. A lot of reactions that I used to look back at, and wonder why I did (and do) certain things, become clearer in light of the new discovery.

I can't blame all my odd or inappropriate behaviour on it, but certainly my obliviousness to some stuff, urge to hug and cuddle people, and total confusion caused by people saying one thing then acting the opposite are parts of it and me. There's a strong need for comfort, and that can be gotten by physical contact, alone time, reading, or driving long distances on my own. Those things help feel at peace.

Even if many of the guys I hug get a bit weirded out, at first. Most relax into it. :)

So, ten years on from the stroke, that's where I'm at!

Currently sitting in Memorial Park, Bridgetown, West Australia, watching my kids play. It's day 27 of a trip across Australia, the first 18 days of which was only the kids and myself in my non-air conditioned 1970s Holden. It was exhausting, but great fun - I love travelling with them, even with all the dramas they create. Sharon met us in Perth, and we're driving back across the Nullarbor and home via Uluru.

The fact I can do a trip like this at all is frankly pretty darned wonderful. I still struggle a lot, but I'm also improving a bit every year :)

And getting prettier™, of course.

Mum's passing

My mum passed away on Wed 22nd, after a very short illness.

Basically her kidneys shut down, so she simply slept more and more until finally she didn't wake up.  Went into hospital on Mon morning and died Wednesday night.  Every time I visited her, she was snoring peacefully away in exactly the same way she tended to at home.  She'd wake briefly now and again, and so she got to tell the kids she loved them one last time when they gave her a hug.

It's sad, as any passing is, but she was 79 which is a good age.  And she lived with us for over a decade, so she was well-looked after and got to see her grandchildren almost every day.  The last few years she went travelling with the kids and I during school holidays to see relatives and visit places like Broken Hill, Parkes, and Phillip Island.

We're having a small memorial on Monday 4th May at 11:15am.  It will be held at the Wilson Chapel of the Springvale Botanical Cemetery, 600 Princes Highway Springvale (GPS -37.944778, 145.174582).  It will be quite informal in tone.  If anyone has something they'd like to say at the service, just let me know.

Afterwards, Sharon's mum Carol has kindly offered her place in Aspendale for chat and finger food, so those who wish to can head back there.  Contact me directly for address details, or you can get them on the day.

Please remember if you're contacting me, email is the least effective way as I'm a slack bastard who never checks it.  SMS, phone calls, or Twitter (DannyDangerOz) are often the most effective ways.

Thank you to everyone who has expressed offers of help and their condolences - it means a lot.

Thank you especially to my fabulous wife Sharon who has done most of the heavy lifting on this, allowing me to sit and be numb - I couldn't want for a better or more supportive partner.
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Belated April Health Update

This year I didn't manage my usual yearly post-stroke health update around April, mostly because I was running around madly and then caught the nasty virus that keeps knocking one about in different ways for six to eight weeks.

It had been a bad year, healthwise. From just prior to Christmas, colds, other viruses, and just as I was starting to feel human and capable in April, evil virus of doom. Bloody thing went right through the town – there were so many sick parents. We actually thought our next door neighbours had gone away for the school holidays, but it turned out they were all home and sick with the blasted thing.

So yeah, been super run down. Not going for walks since December. None of that good stuff. And had doctor say they were fairly certain I wasn't getting migraines, but 'cluster headaches.' When you look those bastards up, most people who get them and migraines, prefer the migraines, and they have earned the nickname of 'suicide headaches.' Fortunately mine seem to be right down the low end of the scale.

Which all sounds kinda bad, but really isn't. Because somehow, in the background through all the viruses and headaches and feeling continuously rundown, I've been improving. It was hidden by all the other stuff going on.

I was sick right up until a few days before our recent trip to Melbourne, then the killer virus dropped away and I felt good for the first time this year. I mean, really good.

On our second day of travel, we stopped at two different parks. Both had a big range of play equipment, including flying foxes, and I chased the kids around lots and played on aaaaalllllll the things! And didn't pay for it later, which is even more remarkable. I was tired, but it was the normal tired, not the bone-numbing, ready to cry, utterly exhausted tired.

Couple of days later, at another park, I climbed a pole. More than once. Eight months ago, I wouldn't have been able to climb it once.

At Continuum I had myself put down for a couple of panels every day, because if they were going to make me a guest, I had to bloody well work. And Shaz is not a panel person, so I wanted to carry a bit extra for her.  Any other con I'd been to since the stroke, I'd have needed to rest for an hour or two before each panel, and I'd have basically been in bed for the majority of the time between panels. And after panels.

Basically at cons where I haven't had much to do, I've spent most of my time in my room. I invite people back for one-on-one talks because socialising exhausts me. I rest in the room so I can go to a panel, singular, or be on one.

Continuum X I was trying to help look after kids, actively preparing for panels rather than just resting beforehand, socialising a bit, running up stairs three at a time, and generally a lot more like my old self than I've been... well, since the stroke.

It's been a phenomenal shift. Post trip, we got home last Thursday and yeah, I sort of stopped, but after two weeks travelling with small children, that's totally acceptable. But even the last couple of days, I've got a lot done. Quite a bit of running about and doing things.

Today, not doing anywhere near as well, but I was fighting a migraine last night (I'm still calling them that because we don't know they're cluster headaches, and even if they are, people get what a migraine is), and again today. So I've got the slightly blurry brain, sensitive skin, phonophobia, inability to concentrate, and incredible tiredness – and I still feel better than I've felt in a long time.

It's really pretty cool. And if I'd been able to do my usual April update, I would have sounded awful. So I'm kind of glad I wasn't up to it before now. I was so good on the trip that even falling back to half what I was like would still be an overall improvement, so yeah, pretty happy.

In a week and a half, health permitting, I grab mum and the kids and do another trip. Broken Hill, Cohuna, Melbourne. Be another longish one, and travelling with mum is always harder, but she'll get to see some relos she's overdue to see, and I get to see how I'm holding up while having more adventures with the kids.

Allowing for the wear and tear of an extra eight years, and two children, I feel like I'm about 80-90% of where I was at pre-stroke. This con, I got to remember how it used to feel to be me. I wasn't the hyperactive ferret of old, but I was active in more than fits and starts.

So yeah, life is good :)


Climbing out of my hole, and blinking in the light

Been a little bit quiet.  Partially life, partially... well life.  Mostly depression kicking my arse. But seem to be mostly back to an even-ish keel at the moment.

Depression's funny, in that definition of funny that includes unexpected bowel surgery with no anaesthetic.  Oh the ways I find to beat myself up because of a little faulty brain chemistry. Oh the hilarity!

There's a whole bunch of stuff I've been wanting to write about for ages.  This post will not be any of that.  I think one of the reasons I don't get to LJ when I'm depressed is because here is where I like to talk about my life - and when down, I don't want to talk about me or my life because I'm not happy in those things.

For stuff I have been talking about you can check out  Posted, and am posting, a few bits up there, including ongoing reviews of films that fit into the broad and hard to define 'cosmic horror' genre.  And lots of Doctor Who, of course.

Took the kids to Canberra to see The Day of the Doctor in 3D on the big screen.Collapse )

Oh the pain

So, do I win my award for father of the year yet?

One of the things I like doing is introducing my kids to all sorts of different stuff.  They've been exposed to a variety of artists, song, and music styles - classical, Dutch progressive metal, pop, rock, The Beatles, Elvis, Big Pig, Jean Michel Jarre, blues, show tunes, Indian, Celtic, The Residents, the KLF, country and western, a good range of stuff from the 1930s to now...  It's all in an effort to let them find their own loves and likes by giving them the broadest possible base.

And it's worked well.  They like a big range of stuff, but I've been aware of a couple of big gaps.  So I've done some research, and am starting to go through a chunk of stuff I'm unfamiliar with in order to have some around for them.

I'm speaking of... rap. Collapse )
Serious Thoughts

What's the bloody point of having laws then?

So yesterday I was out in my car, taking it to get its rego check done.  It was out of rego because I had it in getting work done on it that took longer than expected. That's fine. I had it booked in for the rego check yesterday morning.

Had to drop my son at preschool, so plan was, drop him at preschool, take car to get checked.  I knew it would pass, it's a formality, no more.

Wouldn't you know it, I get pulled over by the police.Collapse )

This sure as hell sends a bloody clear message that some people are more equal than others.

So thanks to all those involved for helping solidify that in Australia, it is about us and them.  The connected versus the unconnected.  The haves and have-nots.  That some people are deserving of compassion and leniency, and others, you can sentence them normally.

Thanks for making the task of being a police officer doing their job to keep our streets safe that little bit more dispiriting.

Thanks for making a parent's job of teaching their kids about fairness and the difference between right and wrong that little bit harder, and more thankless.

Scammer, meet Bastard

So, we had a scammer ring us yesterday.  Apparently because our computer was booting up in 2 to 4 seconds, that was proof that our machine had a virus that this Microsoft person had detected.

Also asked did my computer seem to take longer and longer to boot up.  I like the psychology behind this.  Lots of folks sit there waiting for their machine to boot up - so of course it seems to take ages.  Very clever of them to play on that bit of subjective time.

Unfortunately for this scammer, rather than telling him to piss off like I normally do, I had the time to actually keep him going.Collapse )

I can highly recommend the small public service of keeping a scammer busy, if you have the time.  Always meant to do it, and now that I've done it for the first time, it's actually really fun!  I'm already planning more elaborate things, including getting the sound file of an old style modem connecting to the net for when he wants me to connect.  I may have a whole new hobby :)