Desert Of Zin

The occasional blog of Alistair Bain – Writer, Husband, Father and Chief Techno-Arcanologist at the Institute of Giant Robots, Spaceships and Wizards. None of these positions pay well.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Pencil, Ham

Does the pencil trump paper, is broken by rock and sharpened by scissors?

And does the ham… mutters under breath… the paper, is… mumbles incoherently… and… ham. Ham.

HAM.

The spawn and I were playing vanilla Rock, Paper, Scissors yesterday and she introduced a few new factors. 

Pencil.

Ham.

Pencil I can rationalise. But ham?

When the alarm woke me up at 6, the first thing in the early morning maelstrom of consciousness was where ham fits the the puzzle, knocking the usual bladder capacity warnings into second place.

I’m at lunch at work right now and no matter what I’ve done today, my concentration tends to swing back to ham and how it works in the new game. 

Paper wraps ham? Ham makes rock taste of ham? Scissors get clogged with ham? Pencil draws ham, revealing ham’s true intentions and vulnerabilities?

Does ham ham ham?

September 27, 2016 at 12:23 pm | General | Tags: , , | No comment

Could this be our last Eurovision?

You know that referendum we’re having? The one to stay or leave the EU? (Clarification: I live in Glasgow, Scotland and there soon will be a referendum to see if the United Kingdom will withdraw from the EU. Clear? Good.) Will that mean that if there’s an overwhelming leave vote that Eurovision won’t want us in their wee gang?

Or if we vote to stay they might not want us in Eurovision to teach us a lesson?

Or, what if we win tonight? AND there’s a leave vote?

Or we might get no points to teach us a lesson in for daring to think of leaving the mighty New European Empire?

Maybe none of these things.

And, when it all comes down to it, does it even matter?

I’m glad I could share these thoughts with you.

And in closing: Go Armenia! Whoo!

May 14, 2016 at 7:27 pm | General, Watching | Tags: , , | No comment

So. Nits.

Today has been a nit hunting day. Aurora is rife with them. This is the problem with school. If it’s possible to catch something, they all catch some thing. One day it’s a cold, the next it’s a sickness bug, now it’s nits.

And the thing with wee hair based critters is that it is maddening to get rid of them.

And it’s not like I have anything to fear…

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… nowhere for the little blighters to hide.

In an attempt to cheer her up, she’s allowed to stay up and watch Eurovision tonight with us. I know, I know, it’s hardly a treat. But I’m all about teaching her the reality of life. This is tough parenting at its best.

Some days are all about My Little Pony and running round the garden with her friends. Others are nits and Eurovision.

May 14, 2016 at 6:54 pm | General, Watching | Tags: , , , | No comment

Happiness is…

Peace and quiet, despite being on a 8am to 8pm shift, and Sailor On the Seas Of Fate by Michael Moorcock.

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And a couple of notebooks for scribbling my ill advised attempts and fiction. And a kindle. And my bottle of water.

Happiness. Without being anywhere other than work, I reckon things could be worse.

December 22, 2015 at 7:07 pm | General, Reading, Writing | Tags: , , , | No comment

Aww, man.

Christopher Lee died today. He reached the grand old age of 93.

Tonight I’ll watch what is by far the best film he ever starred in: The Devil Rides Out. (and after that, if I have time, The Wicker Man. Just, you know, because.)

June 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm | General, Watching | Tags: , , | No comment

Never too early to get your advent calendar…

24th of October. Not too early at all.

I couldn’t help myself. It’s a classic Star Wars “Milk Chocolate Calendar” with “24 Festive Milk Chocolate Shapes”. And with a Death Star game on the back!

October 24, 2014 at 11:42 am | General | Tags: , , | No comment

State Of The Al

(I’m using Aurora’s oversized green keyboard for this post. It’s not as easy as you’d think. :) )

 

I know it’s popular to review things at the end/start of every year and as loath as I am to share these days – have you noticed the tumbleweed blowing across the site this year? – perhaps it’ll do the ol’ noggin some good to commit things to the blog.

Writing

It’s the ever-present elephant in the room, isn’t it?

Writing last year has happened in fits and starts. Still more than the previous year, but nothing finished to a standard I was happy with and nothing submitted for consideration. I have, however, attended the last Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Circle meeting of 2013 and I’m thinking it’s a good idea to keep going. I know a few people who regularly attend and they’re the good sort. Next meeting is Tuesday the 7th of January. If I get something finished in the next day or two I might submit it for their review process. They don’t seem to have anything currently set for that day and I’m tempted to do something for this month’s submission theme for Crossed Genre Magazine. The theme is food. I have an idea. If I can get the bones of it done tomorrow, as Aurora is at the in-laws tomorrow and I don’t yet have a shift for work then I’ll let them have at it.

And, I was going to forget, I had created two e-books this year. That was exciting. The process was pretty straightforward and I have it in mind to do a few more, of greater lengths, this year.  Given inspiration and time, of course.

I keep meaning to promote the bloody things but there have always been reasons not to. Often these reasons are fear and doubt. It’s amazing how much anxieties stop you from achieving what you want, isn’t it? More on that later perhaps.

But what’s the worse that can happen if I push my own work? People wont like it. Oh, well that’s a shame. However would I cope? ( I really should have enclosed those last sentences in a < sarcasm > tag, eh?) I’m fully aware that i don’t write stories that everyone would like. That’s fine. I don’t like a lot of what passes for popular these days anyway.

To be honest, I’m kind of concerned that my breakthrough “giant snakes” novel will be well received. I’m not sure the world is ready for giant snake fiction. Perhaps, just perhaps, the world IS ready.

;)

Work

I’m going to have to do something different this year.

At the moment, work is an issue. And I’m talking about the lack of it.

I do care work for an agency, filling in where required across Glasgow for a variety of other organisations. Often they have asked for me to return, which is brilliant as it shows I’m not totally useless at the job, but there just isn’t enough work to go round. With the slashing of care budgets for vulnerable people there are less shifts to cover and I can imagine they are snapped up by their own staff with an increased eagerness before they are farmed out to an agency. Don’t get me wrong, despite the lack of work the agency are a good bunch but there’s only so much they can do.

This week I have one shift. It’s a day shift, which is always a winner, but it’s split between two service users across north-east Glasgow. A shift or two a week does not do much for the home financial situation. And as Ruth only works part time, earning barely enough to cover the bills, it falls upon myself to magic up work from somewhere.

Have I been applying for new jobs? You bet your arse I have. As yet, not even an interview but as I increase the rate I’m sending out my C.V. and application forms, something has to break. As long as it’s not me.

Today I’m cautiously optimistic but with no reason to be while yesterday I wasn’t optimistic in the slightest with many reasons not to be. Go figure. Where there’s life, there’s hope.

Mental Health

This is always fun… :)

Life is good today. The first day of the year has gone well. So far, 2014 is a winner!

The first half of the year was patchy, with small ups and downs littering the months. The latter half was a different bag entirely. After Ruth left her job in the Whitench Centre the mood in the flat IMPROVED DRAMATICALLY. Okay, so we’re even tighter for funds than we ever have been but I’d rather that than have her in the bloody place any longer.

I’ll only say of the place that it’s a badly managed shambles and the management committee are a disgrace. They have stumbled from one poorly thought decision to another. It’s a shame as the place has so much potential. But I’ve said more than I meant to.  Heh.

Also, Alan McWilliam, my arch-nemesis from Whiteinch Church is on the committee. No small wonder it’s a shambles.

On that note, Whiteinch Church. Four years since our unceremonious departure from that cult. I had a wobble that lasted about a week at the end of November, the anniversary of the whole bloomin’ thing. It’s not good that I’m still dealing with the fallout from leaving there but it IS good that it only lasted a week.

Anything else?

I’m not sure. I dare say that once this has been posted to the blog something else will occur to me but that’s all for now.

I suppose I AM positive for the future. Isn’t that the best any of us can ask?

Right, I’m done. Can I have my keyboard back please?

January 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm | General, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | No comment

So, I’m off this week…

With Christmas and Aurora’s birthday within days of each other it’s a damn fool idea to worry about what shifts I can scrounge from my current employer. As much as they’re a decent bunch, care work only has so much appeal. Less so when I’ve been working elsewhere for the lest two weeks and have quite gotten used to the golden fleece that is full time work, 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. Ah, yes. You don’t really appreciate it until you’ve been working back shifts in Kirkintilloch with an hour and a half travel home, returning shortly before midnight. And you wonder why few people want to do those shifts, eh?

So what? I hear you cry, the echo resonating across time and space…

So, while finances are tight, with money always being an issue, especially in these times of austerity, I really can’t find myself overly worried about leaving my availability open while there are other things to do.

But it’s not all Christmas and my daughter turning four. Oh, no. I think to myself, “Hmm, there’s a story needing edited, others needing finished, and I actually have some time to write!”

Steady on Bain, you handsome fool you. How can writing be achieved when you’ve just reinstalled Guild Wars? Rookie mistake, sir. Rookie Mistake!

In reality, there are always stories needing editing or finished. Like that’s ever going to change. Heh.

I do have something on the go, that’s needing done by the end of the week.  Remember the ghost story I might have mentioned before? Well, it stopped being a ghost story. And, realising that Crossed Genres magazine are looking for stories with the theme of Runaways, I’m editing it *again* in order for it to fit. Fortunately it’s a very light edit. Which is handy as I’m getting sick of the story and I’m gagging to get a move on to something else.

December 23, 2013 at 5:40 pm | General, Writing | Tags: , , , , | No comment

…the screaming chaos…

Ruthy and I were discussing this morning the anti-Christ-like ways of the ever watch-able Jeremy Kyle, and the celebrity scandal episode with the wonderfully crazy Brigitte Nielsen.  We thought that she’s a good match for the prince of darkness but another name was invoked who we thought would be a perfect match.

Grace Jones.

According to Ruthy, Grace Jones is “the screaming chaos that awaits us all at the end of time”.

Perfect.  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

August 27, 2010 at 2:25 pm | General | Tags: , , | No comment

So, happy new year! (a quick tour of 2009)

So, happy new year!

It’s been a ‘interesting’ year, full of ups and downs.

It started well, with me riding high off the relative success of last year’s NaNoWriMo.  It was an important milestone with my writing, the first time I ever got around to actually finishing something in a short time that I even remotely liked.  So, that was Planet Of Snakes (a sequel to the unfinished Desert Of Zin) and very happy I was with it too.

(Not that it matters what’s finished and what’s not, things have changed in that quarter.  More on that in a mo.)

Then, shortly after the new year, my mother had a cancer scare.  Not good, not good at all.  But she had it removed, went for her radiotherapy and everything is currently peachy keen.  (It’s amazing how you can get all of the angst, worry and relief of a time like that and boil it down to a couple of sentences…)

Then a few months into the year amazing news arrives.  Ruth is pregnant!  I still remember how excited I was when I found out.  We had been trying for a while and finding out really was a gift.

Then we hit the summer.  And intimidation and bullying at work.  Not good seeing as I worked for the my church.  With the benefit of hindsight, and plenty of counselling, there is definitely an element of a culture of dishonour about the way some Christians act despite the ‘Culture of Honour’ that is advertised.

Anyway, it wasn’t a sudden thing.  Using the same old hindsight as before it’s clear that my self-esteem and confidence were being ground down over a long period of time.  More on that later as well.

There was a welcome break in there called Summer’s End, a progressive rock festival in the small town of Lidney, by the Forest of Dean.  Myself, The Psycho Chicken, Bruce and (when she felt like she could endure all that glorious prog) Sharla enjoyed Steve Hackett, Pallas, Pendragon and all the wonderful bands in between.

But then back to work where the situation continued to get from bad to worse…

The months of September, October and November were back to the growing depression, anxiety, stress and suicidal tendencies.  This really was the worst part of the year for me.  I was being intimidated and harrased by my line manager (who, unfortunately, was also my minister) and despite already letting people in authority know the situation he was still my line manager and still intimidating and harassing me.

Now, I understand that in the cold light of day it might not seem like much, but when your church is your work and the only feedback you get from your minister/line manager is negative and your interests and thoughts are open to ridicule, it tends to affect you poorly.

NaNoWriMo arrived in November, right at the height of how bad things were getting.  With panic attacks and ‘The Fear’ growing almost daily it was a miracle in itself that I was able to get over 24k words.

This was the ‘All-New’ Desert Of Zin story.  I felt like the existing one was going nowhere.  I had no plan or interest in keeping it going and any ideas I did have just seemed tired.  But then I thought that it might be an idea to take the core concepts I still had in mind for the story and just start afresh.  Different setting, different characters (although with the same names) and with a narrow scope, at least initially, than the original attempt.  And for the most part I’m a lot happier with it so far.  Lots of stories to tell though, which is good.  Stops me from getting too bogged down with any one story.

But it wasn’t finished in the month, so there we go.  I’ll try again with something new next year.

It was the second-last weekend in November when everything hit the fan.  Angry threats were made at work and that was the straw that broke back of it and I handed in my notice.  Better that I was unemployed and healthy than employed and suicidal.

And I haven’t really regretted it once.  It’s a no-brainer that I have not been back to Whiteinch Church of Scotland for the Sunday Celebration and I don’t think I ever will.  I do wish them well for the future but if they ever want to see this ‘Culture of Honour’ fully realised they’ll have to really look at sorting themselves out.  One thing that going though my own counselling process has shown me is that there are a good few of Whiteinch Church leadership who need counselling of their own.

But with a month of the year left, two wonderful things happened.

A story, Whiteinch In Flight, was accepted for a local anthology…

…And my daughter was born, late for Christmas, but in plenty of time for the new year.

I have big plans for 2010.  It really feels like I’ve been through a lot this year and I’m confident and a feeling a lot more prepared for what I’m planning for the year ahead.

There are books to write, a wife to keep happy and a daughter to raise.  No problem.

January 2, 2010 at 8:18 am | General, Listening, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No comment