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5 November 2013

Yup, my mind went off on a wander of its own a few weeks back and I ended up with a short article on uses for onions other than in food. Sent that to the newspaper to file for next time they had a gap, and – they had one almost at once. So my discussion on onions appeared the other weekend. That makes a nice symetry as it was my 44th article in that venue.

2 November 2013

I know computers are Wonderful. That progress is Wonderful, and that I should approve computers and progress. There are times however, when I’m not sure not sure if computers and progress are Wonderful, and not sure if I do approve them. Such a time arrived on Monday two weeks or so back. I connected up the Compaq, (I’m way way out in the country and on dailup.) And instead of the cheerful tweedle tweedle of a connection being made, I got a click, then a tick tick tick and the information that my modem was improperly configured or something like that. I cursed, fiddled about and finally got a connection which promptly shut off again about an hour later. I said something more vehement, managed yet again to get it working, got all the work done that I wanted, and on Tuesday decided to do something else since I was finding this problem stressful. It was a lot more stressful on Wednesday morning when no matter what I did I couldn’t get the internet connection to establish because – or so the gadget said – I had no dial tone. Really? Funny that the phone worked. So I used that, wailed at the computer shop in town who said send the connection bit in and they’d check it out. The mail car arrived, collected the gadget and departed for the computer shop to drop it off there. The shop would phone to tell me their conclusions once they’d had a chance to check it out. They did. The modem was fine and being returned with a section replaced since it was pretty ancient anyhow and replacement would cost peanuts. I was happy with that. It got back, I plugged in, checked again and found, nope. same result, so it hadn’t been that item…

Okay, go via phone to ISP and find a very pleasant helpful chap called Terry. Patiently he worked through every possibility with me as to why I was getting this problem and after about two hours of meticulous hard work, he came to the conclusion that whatever the problem was, it wasn’t the computer or his ISP either. Sigh. Which left one possibility. It had to be my wiring. Hmmm. At which point it occured to me that my landline phone jacks in to a larger control panel thing. If I hauled the computer over, plugged it in there and it worked… I did and and – wheeee – I was on line again. very uncomfortably however and it was a nuisance doing it there. So I went on line, discarded or answered 90 emails that had accrued, logged out and phoned my phone people for someone to come and fix the wiring fault. It took several days because they’re busy, and, as stated, I’m out in the wop wops. However a nice chap arrived, greeted Thunder who was making desperate overtures, and started in on the wiring. Apart from being somewhat hampered by Thunder who was anxious to assist – and who at one stage was head down in the technician’s tool kit – we were back up and running very quickly. Fortunately I while I hadn’t been on line at this point for around 10-11 days, I’d been continuing to write in a blog file and had only to drop those into my blog once I was on line again. The really interesting thing I noticed was that I’m not addicted to the internet. It was mildly irritating to be off-line when I knew emails would be coming in. It would have been very irritating not to be able to submit on-line if I’d had work I wanted to get out urgently. But really, it didn’t bother me that much. I did even more reading that usual, filed a fair bit of writing and made a submissions list for when I was back on-line. But 10-11 days without a connection didn’t worry me that much. In which I suspect I may be unique…

well, as I put it, the geese have gozzled. One gosling, and only one, but that’s better than nothing and before Christmas its feathers should have started coming in and I’ll know what sex it is. (My geese are part Sebastopol and feather colour is sex-linked.) If it’s a boy I’ll have to find it a new home as three ganders will definitely be one too many. If it’s a girl I may let her stay as four geese to two ganders won’t be a problem, although I’ll have to see if the grazing they have where they live will be sufficient. But it’s good to have a possible addition to the gaggle since it’s been around 4 years now since I added a younger bird.The baby is thriving thus far. It’s fortunate that the adult geese impressed on my friend’s puppy that they are not to be trifled with since Duke was interested in the baby the other afternoon, but too well instructed to approach close enough to upset the gaggle. Instead he sat far enough away not to to bother anyone and he and the baby eyed each other with great interest. I was a bit worried the baby might approach him instead but it didn’t – seems the adults may have impressed that on s/he/it too.

Softcover published BAEN August 2013. Reviewed by Steve Johnson.

Second in what may be a trilogy, or possibly a longer series ultimately. This goes back to the founder of Honor Harrington’s House and tells the story of Stephanie Harrington, first to bond with a Treecat. Lionheart saves her life, she saves his, and that’s it, bonded. The first book, A Beautiful Friendship was great, this one, while I felt it wasn’t quite so engrossing, was still very good, and that may be the usual trouble for the middle book of a trilogy. It’s the bridge between a smashing start, and an exciting finish. But it still did hold up very well even if read as a standalone. I didn’t like the cover however, it was too dark, too diffuse, the girl looks far older than the fourteen that Stephanie is, (more like 24) and Lionheart looks vicious as well as it not showing that he is hexepedal, a major part of the ecology. The story is good, with a strong ecological background dealing with the dangers of fire in forested lands, and how casual humans can be about fire precautions. At this end of the world we see that every fire season, not quite so much in New Zealand because our greener wetter bush doesn’t burn quite so well or so easily but in Australia where a high percentage of their wildfires are started by human halfwits. (Ours are too, it’s just that they are mostly less catastrophic.) But in Oz, some of the wildfires aren’t just massively destructive of wildlife, vegetation, and property, they kill people as well. And it’s that sort of wildfire that Stephanie and her friends battle in the book. The ‘people’ in danger being not only humans, but also a treecat clan directly in the path of one of the wildfires. There is a strong sub-plot of Stephanie’s problems with other teenagers of her own age, her growing interest in a newcomer, the newcomer’s father’s ignoring of necessary rules, and Stephanie finding that those she dislikes may still have redeeming features. It’s a good book all in all, but the cover really put me off. I see that it was done by the same artist who did Lyn McConchie’s The Duke’s Ballad, which cover I also really disliked. I hope either someone else does the cover for the next book, or the cover of the next is less drab and more accurate.

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