Grey Matter


//For the geek:

ultimate_answer_t deep_thought(void)



return 42;


For the office: "This isn't an office. It's HELL with fluorescent lighting"

Age of Content

The winter of my discontent has abated today. You could say I'm feeling gruntled (if such a word existed). I'll steer clear of disgruntled grumpiness about headaches, winds, procrastinati, motivation and "palap"s that never came to exist.

I snooped through the cellar again to see if there were any disintegrating manuscripts. Here is one that was posted in a "Who am I?" thread in October, 2002.

I am a disembodied brain,
a rock of consciousness floating freely
in an ether of security-seeking cries.

I am a warped, compulsive rhythm,
a humorous hint in a minor mode,
a lilt in a light-hearted dance.

I am an opera-house enigma,
an echo behind the backdrop,
a brooding wraith aching to uplift and consume.

I am Cyrano and Quasimodo,
Horton, patient beyond reason.
I am an immutable frog-prince.

I am Smaug,
protecting my precious treasures,
content to watch them sparkle.

I am an onion,
with layers to be peeled,
eventually exposing...

more layers.


From Utah: Vikings and Islands and Tsunamis, Oh My!

For the office: "Therapy is expensive. Popping bubble plastic is cheap. You choose"


These Greg Egan short stories (Axiomatic) are good - short enough to fit my limited attention span. By my estimates they average just over 400 calories long. (This becomes less confusing when you understand that I like to read during a brisk walk on a treadmill.) Each story explores a potential future scenario and highlights the effects on real people in a believable, concise plot. In each one I usually catch a couple of glimpses of his dry wit hiding in the drama.


It may sound like an idle fantasy but I'd like to be able to write for a living. A number of people whose opinions I respect have encouraged me a lot and taken a particular interest in what I write. (There are others who appear uninterested, but I know I can't please everybody.)
So what's stopping me?
There is a little voice of realism saying: "You have a family and a mortgage. You can't give up a full time secure job unless you have alternate means of support. The most you can devote to writing is a small part of your time. You would be trying to compete with authors who have devoted their lives and risked their futures on a writing career. For you, it is just a hobby and can never become more than that."
There are a babble of voices of self-doubt saying: "You can start things with bright ideas, but it takes a finisher to see them through. That's not you. Are you going to put in the huge effort required to write a book, only to have it rejected by publisher after publisher? Sure, your writing gives a few people a chuckle. Why do you think there are people who aren't interested in what you write? There are heaps more where they come from. In fact there's a world full of them."
Every now and then I hear from a little analytical voice. It says: "You will need to change. You can't afford to take a softly-softly approach. You must be prepared to promote yourself. While it's a hobby you can post your writings and let anyone who's interested read them. If you want to be a writer, you have to make people read your work or else be swept away in the torrential flush of words on its way to the treatment farm."
For anyone who's still reading, my current focus is on light humorous verse. I think I'm capable of writing a collection of verse and/or short stories targeted at the 8-12 year old market. If I'm wrong, then at least it shouldn't take years of toil to find out. I need to improve my writing habits, or even this foot-in-the-water approach will dry up. The gymnasium wall asserts: "Motivation is what gets us started. Habit is what keeps us going." It would be nice to think that inspiration and burning passion were the drives that kept me going. In reality I either need habit or external encouragement to keep me going, and until I get some better material completed it's only one or two close friends who provide the latter.

Queen's Birthday Holiday

Time to raise our glasses and toast our glorious monarch. Yeah. Right.
Well, it was a public holiday. I thought it'd be a good day for some creative writing. I planned to sit quietly and free my head of mundane thoughts... but no. Instead I'm the homework Hitler - the Anti-Fun. I did some housework. I read for a bit. It was easier to put thoughts in than to try to get them out. I was chuffed later when I got an apology from the current leader of the procrastinati. But where had the day gone?

A little bit different

".end the at start to like just I, No"
"?dyslexia with write to
sexier was it think you Did
?comprehend can't we that verse with
trend new a start to trying you Are"


One of the biggest disappointments in the English language is the word "palindrome". Talk about a missed opportunity. It really smacks of laziness - ripping off the Greeks - stealing a hard-earned word that they had been using for a slightly different purpose. (Mind you, it could have been weeks before they even noticed it missing.) With just a little bit of effort we could have had a much more palatable word like "palindromordnilap" or even a short, punchy word like "palap".
Is there a word for a word that fulfills its own meaning? How can we describe words like "polysyllabic" and "mispelt"? Maybe there should be a special name for the class of oxymoronic words that defy their own meanings. "Palindrome" could feel right at home in this group, along with "abbreviated", "inelaborate", "monosyllabic" and "unprintable".

Depressed light verse

I've tried writing a humorous tragedy and a nightmare love poem, so now it's time for some depressed light verse.

There once was a poetic thug
who wrote about needing a hug.
It was pitiful verse
and it made him feel worse
so he dumped the idea with a shrug.

There once was a grease-painted clown
who painted a smile on his frown.
He used this expression
to hide his depression
but his friends still knew when he was down.

It's not hard to see why there aren't too many published works in these genres.

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We went to see Whale Rider this evening. It was an enjoyable, feel-good movie. It had whales. It hed Kiwi eccents. Inter-generational tension started at the beginning and dominated the film, but was very credibly performed. The fairy tale plot was highly predictable and seemed to be just a vehicle for telling a character interaction story. The pacing was a little slow for me.

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