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29 March 2018

I have been irked recently by one of these ads that says if you suffer from motion-sickness all you have to do is take one of their tablets. Yes, well, there’s a couple of problems with that. One is that in small print, it says – right down at the bottom of the page where most won’t notice it – that you shouldn’t be driving after using the stuff, as it may cause drowsiness. VERY helpful if you are a driver.And some people who DO read that, are going to assume that if you are doing something else, it won’t affect you. IT WILL! But that isn’t mentioned.
Then there’s the other problem – If, like me, there is a physical reason for motion sickness then all the fancy tablets in the world won’t help. But does this ad suggest that you see a doctor? A specialist? Noooo, why would they do something so commonsense as that? Yes, I can get very badly sick, (On one occasion when I was about 11 and put on a train from Palmerston North to Auckland, I had to be carried off, too weak to stand or walk.) in my case I have motion-sickness from a physical reason that was established in the 1970s, when I took part in a study.
The fluid in my inner ear is thinner than is usual, hence on a winding road if the vehicle is moving fast, the fluid ‘sloshes’, causing nausea. (I am not affected by air travel, or in a boat since the motion, being at a different angle, doesn’t seem to provide the same reaction.) And how may you diagnose this problem very easily? Ask if the person has very good hearing too. If so, then that may be the problem. Can you do anything about it? Nope, although I find that growing older has improved it. I no longer get sick in cars or trains, but I still can during a long-distance bus trip. (And yes, my hearing is still far better than most my age) So this ad which promises to fix all forms of motion-sickness, is both wrong and misleading. And, IMHO, dangerous too.

7 November 2017

old age is rather like a drought year. It sneaks up and you don’t really notice it – until things start dying on you.

4 August 2017

sigh, it seems that I am a bit busy these days. At the start of the year I signed five contracts for books already written – and assumed that I could now get on with writing more. What I’d overlooked was revision. Six months later I’d completed the revision, and am now up to my eyebrows in writing the ‘more’ I’d planned. However either because of age, or sheer busyness, I keep forgetting to blog. For anyone regularly accessing this blog, please forgive me. But there are only so many hours in the day.
Something that has NOT been helped by problems with my new computer – which resisted the attempts of three different technicians to get me either onto dial-up again, or, when that consistently failed, to get me on to broadband. In fact things are still not quite sorted with the latter, but may be so in another few days. However there are times when I long for simpler days of word processing. (Of course, in those days the alternative problem was editors or the PO losing mss, so nothing is perfect) however I still think that computer technology could be made more user-friendly, and what I’d like to know is – why isn’t it? Because this user doesn’t find it all that ‘friendly.’

3 May 2017

Back about forty years ago friends and I really enjoyed a TV series called FAME. It was great, good dialogue, characters, and plot and the singing and dancing was superb. I wished for years that it would come back. And then I accidently caught a TV programme, “Victorious,” this morning. It seems to be an updated version of Fame. Arrrggghhh. That has to be one of the most pathetic shows I’ve seen in a long time. Fame felt real, the characters felt real, this seems to be a frothy confection of all singing, all dancing, (all endlessly squealing) plastic robots. Every movement is phony and exaggerated, every speech is as if they’re reading it from a teleprompter. Makes me wonder who MADE this mess, and why they bothered – and why Prime wanted to show it. Wouldn’t it have just been far better – and a lot cheaper – to rerun the original?

22 April 2017

A while back I was asked if I planned to retire any time soon and I said didn’t have time. Then earlier this month I turned 71, and another friend asked me if I felt older. No, I don’t have time for that either. Which makes me think that someone I read once who said that a real interest in something keeps you young, may have been right. Of course they were speaking metaphorically, a pity that. Bceause if it was literal I think my enthusiasm for my writing could keep me alive for a very long time indeed!

24 March 2017

Sigh, temperatures were down again this morning and I’ve lit the fire. Thunder is – as usual – parked in front of it and I am blessing having a fire on behalf of both of us. It’s something I never considered when I was younger, that I’d feel the cold more when I got old. And, of course, my damaged leg has its own comments to make on any chill, particularly the sort of dank day when wet and cold combine. But the fire is going, I’m happy and so is the cat, and I don’t really mind getting old. As they say, it’s a heck of a lot better than the alternative!

15 March 2017

Like a bullet our world spins down the rifled barrel of change. I’ve watched change for 70+ years now and come to the conclusion that the bullet isn’t aimed. It’s sent in random directions, and we can never be sure what any direction will bring.
Change fired us up into the air,
we think we know both when and where,
but this suggestion I can project,
we’re bound to land where we didn’t expect.

5 March 2017

There are times when I get reminded that we age in different ways. Several years ago I was about to have a general anesthetic, I’d been given the pre-op sedative and was drowsy when the quite young nurse arrived, and tried to open my mouth. I blinked up.
“What’re you doing?”
“I need to take your teeth out.”
“They’re mine,” I mumbled, reasonably as I thought.
The response was in a tone suitable for replying to a rather dim three-year-old. “I know, dear. I won’t take them away, they’ll be right here beside your bed when you come back.”
“You don’t understand, they’re mine.”
The tone was now definitely patronising. “Yes, dear, of course they are…”
A burst of irritated adrenalin woke me right up. “No, I mean they really are MINE! I don’t have false teeth.”
I received a rather disbelieving look. “What, not even a bridge?”
The nurse left – slowly – giving the impression she’d like to pry my mouth open and double-check that just in case. She would have found that it was. Unlike a lot of those of my age/generation I have my own teeth, not all of them, I’m missing half a dozen but I find no need for a bridge. However it seems that it may not be usual and the the default assumption seems to be that anyone my age automatically doesn’t have their own teeth. Otherwise why wouldn’t she ask, instead of trying to open my mouth and stick a hand in. And, considering my being somewhat sedated, she was lucky I woke up and asked, or she might succeeeded – and lost a finger.

17 September 2015

I’ve never known how true it is, but there’s a story about Ralph Nader (American car safety enthusiast) from some decades ago. He insisted that new cars should all have a system where you couldn’t start the car engine until your seat belt was properly fastened. A new line came out with this feature, and the first was purchased by a father for his daughter, starting her first year at university. Some months later she worked late at the university library and headed for her car, now the last one in the library car park. There she was attacked by a would-be rapist as she opened the car door, she managed to fight him off long enough to get into the car, lock the door, and attempt to start the car to flee. The car refused to start of course, since she wasn’t wearing her seat belt. Before she could fasten that the rapist broke the car window, dragged her out, beat and raped her. Her father sued the car company and won a huge settlement. Now that story may or may not be true.
What concerns me is the latest possibility of similar kind. Recently on TV there was a brief item about a new type of computerized braking system they want to fit to cars. It stops your car slamming into the back of the car in front because you weren’t paying attention when that stopped. The point is that once you get within a certain distance of something static – like another car or perhaps a wall, the brakes come on and refuse to allow you to advance by any distance at all so long as the obstruction remains. One very dangerous possibility dawned on me at that point. Picture this. A driver crosses a railway line just as the car in front for whatever reason stops dead. The car behind it is now trapped on the railway line because the braking system refuses to allow it to move closer to the other car, or even to drive past it at very close range. And you know people, there’s a good chance the driver will stay in the car trying desperately to get it to move forwards – right up to the moment the train hits it. And I can think of other scenarios of that sort that could be caused by a computerized braking system of this type. Computers do not reason, they act as programmed. I don’t think a system like this is a good idea, and it could kill people. Wonder if ALL the possibilities have been considered by the makers?
(And I should add for a friend who asked about reversing the car, that often when one stops at a railway crossing, there is a line of vehicles behind you. You’d have to go to the back of that line and persuade the last in line to reverse, then all the others, up to the front of the line. Then too, while the material I saw on this system said only that you couldn’t go forward aginst an obstacle. It may be too that the computer will not allow the car to reverse against something behind. And if so, that could leave the car stranded for reversing as well if the barrier is down behind the vehicle and the computer refuses to allow reversing through that to escape the train.)

16 July 2014

Back in 1990 I saw that a new book was out from Katherine Kerr. I ignored it. For some reason I have never enjoyed her Deverry books and without even reading the title I assumed that this was more of the same. A year later I observed the same book, this time in a UK hardcover and paused long enough to look it over. Ah, not fantasy, this one was SF and it looked interesting. I borrowed my local library’s copy, read it, went straight out and bought my own hardback. POLAR CITY BLUES had me hooked. I loved the characters, the background, and the situation – Polar City is the capital of Hagar, one of the few worlds on which the tiny, human-dominated Republic sits, squeezed between the Interstellar Confederation and the enormous Coreward Alliance. (Known to the inhabitants of Hagar as ‘the cons’ and the ‘lies.’) When an alien from the Confederation Embassy is murdered, Police Chief Bates faces an explosive situation. The main characters are neatly balanced. There is Lacey, human and female, involved in assorted semi-legal and definitely illegal activities, Mulligan, human, male, psychic and hates it. There is Buddy the comp(uter). An intelligent machine, a genuine characters in several ways, and good value, and there is Nunks, an alien, friend of Lacey and Mulligan, and telepathic but unable to speak verbally. I loved the book, read and re-read it for years (and am still doing so) and mourned that there didn;t seem to have been more than that one.

Then in 2005 and quite by accident I ran across a sequel that had been published in 2000 and must not have been that widely publicized since I’d never heard of it. POLAR CITY NIGHTMARE was a collaboration with Kate Daniels, and yes, it’s just as good. All the original characters, new and original problem being a mystery with political twists. The investigation of smuggling, blackmail and murder on two planets uncovers a plot that may unbalance the political equilibrium between the human dominated Republic and the two major alien dominated governments. Set both in Polar City on Hagar and on the capital planet of Sarah, Polar City Nightmare develops themes from the original book: machine intelligence, prejudice, and human relationships, along with a consideration of what is ‘alien’. And it’s a very good read! It took ten years to produce book two, and it’s been fourteen years since that one. I guess that book three won’t be out any time soon and for that I am truly sorry because I enjoyed the heck out of both books. They are warm, clever, excellently written, and I fell in love with the characters. The author is regularly writing new books so it isn’t as if she couldn’t do a third of this series. Ms Kerr, won’t you please do another Polar City book for those of us out here who loved the first two. Please

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