Rachel's Blog

Mon, 31 Oct 2005

Happy Halloween!

Thu, 27 Oct 2005
Nano Calculator

As a service to person-kind, and as witness to the fact that you can procrastinate as well as finish 50,000 words in 30 days, I present here the Nano Calculator I created during last year's NaNoWriMo. Appleworks format (.cwk) 50kB

To see its magic, just run a word count on your NaNovel and plug the total into Column C (End of Day Count) beside the appropriate date. I think the rest is self explanatory. Let me know if you spot any problems. There are probably better ways of doing the equations, but I'm not a mathemagician. (Although I think I'm in love with the graph a little bit.)

Here's what mine looked like at the end of NaNo04.

Wed, 26 Oct 2005
Mighty Gift

I think this is the best story I have ever read on the internet. (Scroll down to 10.21.05)
Also - jealous!

Tue, 25 Oct 2005
Cardboard Robot Worshipping in the Name of Pi

I'm not claiming anything to do with this one. I found it via Ms Fits. Beyond that I think it leapt fully formed from the depths of the Internet, Intelligent Design-style. It's far too complex to have evolved.

Now it will simply be enough to have you become as confused as I. (Work Safe. Brain Damaging.)

Tue, 18 Oct 2005
The Happiest Story of them all

You couldn't get a more feel good story than this if you made it up. This article on the highly intelligent, science-award-winning yet dyslexic, eight-year-old boy who invented an infrared water-saving device to supply his rare Asian cat with running water, is the kind of delightful "And-before-we-go" piece news is made of. And he lives in Reservoir. (via Make)

Sun, 16 Oct 2005
Spice, Buffy, Women and Identity

I was just digging through an old notebook - I'm trying to come up with something to write in November - when I came across these notes. They're pretty random, but I thought they were interesting enough to type up for you, dear reader. Dates from about mid-2003.

Where the Spice Girls have lied to us:
The notion of Girl Power (not Woman Power) is a false positive for women. Baby, Sporty, Posh, Ginger and Scary (who can be read as Sexy/Exotic Spice) are all passive non-threatening characteristics. Where are Intellectual or Mother Spice? Note that male pop singers can be paternal - Puff Daddy, Daddy Cool, but you don't find maternal ones.

Even Buffy is a false idol. Her "power" is given (forcibly) to her by a group of men. No other identity for Buffy - or any of the other females on the show - is ever throroughly explored, apart from that as girlfriend or weapon of war. She never even cracks a book that has nothing to do with demons, and even then rarely.
Joyce - positive role model - killed off, ditto Tara.

Willow has a talent she can't control and spends a whole year being as self-deprecating as she was as a high school student.

Villains - are the worst always women? Drusilla, Wilow, Faith, Professor Walsh (played God), Sunday (wanted to take Buffy's identity.) Those with power are always men - from The Watchers to The Master and Mayor Wilkins.

Creator Joss Whedon, self-described feminist, has received almost as much media exposure as the show itself. By giving her such an effeminate name as "Buffy" then saying it's OK, she's really powerful. But this is physical power only - she is never portrayed as any kind of intellectual genius ("Nice girl, not too bright"). Created by a guy, but that's OK too - he's a feminist i.e. One of us.

Labelling child-rearing and domestic chores as work is intended to satisfy women and keep them "out of harms way" in terms of society as a whole: art, culture, international relations, university tenure, news gathering...
Yet they remain unpaid jobs - so the satisfaction is supposed to be in what Miriam Dixson calls "substitute gratification".*

What about the natural human desire to find out more about the world and oneself?

It's to do with suppression of identity. Trapping a woman in her home to be subjected only to the messages that the media can give her - which are all about keeping other people happy.

The number of women who compulsively clean and care for others in order to suppress their personal pain - which they believe is unique because of the patriarchal tendency to destroy small community.

Men wage wars on societies which are unlike the ones they find themselves miserable in.

In that same way women are beginning to turn against each other for speaking out against the status quo. Naomi Wolf for example gets her head bitten off every time she suggests that the common social structure is not good or good enough for women/mothers/teenage girls/children.

Outcast groups from society set up thier own elitist universes, marked by highly restrictive codes; snobbishness, intolerance, feelings of superiority. In particular I am thinking of goths, punks, geeks, artists - in short and group with a specialised knowledge and traceable history.

I did warn you it was a random collection of notes. No test, but please feel free to Discuss.

*I'm pretty sure this quote is from Dixson's book The Real Matilda.

Sat, 15 Oct 2005
Liner Notes

I'm feeling a bit better today, I can see the end of my cold on the horizon. But in the throes of disease I seem to have signed up for Nanowrimo again. Mad! Mad I tell you!

I have also discovered a confluence of items that makes the world a little crazier than usual. The liners I purchased recently are wrapped in a thin plastic that has little Odd Spots printed all over it. I find this disconcerting. I'm not normally the kind of person who likes to have something to read while on the toilet, but I'm also the kind of person who reads anything that passes before her eyes.

So. Feminine hygiene fun factoids. Or are they liner notes? I'm not sure what the correct terminology is. They are the kind of facts that you find in cheap non-fiction books for ten-year olds: "Wally's Wonder Book of World Knowledge" or "Facts to Amaze and Astound Your Friends". For example Odd Spot #20 Tells me that
From the age of 30, humans gradually begin to shrink.
Which is great, because while I'm unlikely to grow taller than my mother in the next four and a half months, one day she'll overtake me going in the other direction.

Or how about Odd Spot #149
The poison-arrow frog has enough poison to kill about 2,200 people.
Which leads to the question, how does it carry all those arrows? Odd spot #42
An iguana can stay underwater for 28 minutes.
I'm not sure how this will prove useful, unless your mortal enemy is an iguana and you're trying to take him out by drowning. Good to know.

The really interesting things though (apart from how I can apparently go on and on about the wrapper of a sanitary pad) are the facts that are half cut off. It's all been printed on one big sheet you see and then sliced up willy-nilly. (Willy-nilly! - get it!?). So Odd Spot #72
The average human body contains enough potassium to fire a toy...
A toy what? What toys run on potassium anyway? Odd Spot #109
...'s eye is bigger [that it's] brain
Whose eye? Running through a mental list of particularly stupid or large-eyed animals gets me nowhere.

My favourite though is Odd Spot #68 (or part thereof)
... expands as a person looks at...
You can fill it in with almost anything. A stomach expands as a person looks at a cake. Consciousness expands as a person looks at a sunset. Boredom expands as a person looks at paint dry. Fear expands as a person looks at the inside of their eyelids. The universe expands as a person looks at anything.

I'm not about to give the company free advertising, but if you're wanting to join in the menstrual-flow-control-product-fact fun, look for the lime green packet.

Black Juice

I'm reading Margo Lanagan's Black Juice very slowly because I don't want it to end. I reached the half way mark today with a story about a ... well I won't tell you. Just read the book.

Tue, 11 Oct 2005
Cotton Concrete

My head is full of concrete-soaked cotton wool and I can't think and there's nothing on television. I was very disappointed with the first two episodes of Vulture and I don't feel bad about missing it and going to bed early tonight. It's like being stuck at a dinner party with only the worst kind of self-aggrandising, interrupting, patronising people (except the one guest each week who refuses to speak at all). Not that watching TV about Australian culture is any substitute for engaging with or creating any, but still.

Mon, 10 Oct 2005
Movie Guessing Game - The Answers

Answers to the movie meme.

Wasabi. No plot, but Jean Reno is so so cool.

Return to Oz - Fairuza Balk's first and best film role.

Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead. Dishes are done, man.

D.A.R.Y.L. Ummm.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The films are better than the books. There, I've said it.

Goodbye, Pork Pie. To be honest I've only seen this once, about 20 years ago. I remember laughing a lot and I've been trying to track down a copy recently. (Yes, I can get it on DVD from New Zealand, but $30+ dollars on a possibly dodgy movie?) The most obscure film in this list.

American Splendor. Only saw this last week. I'm not at all familiar with the man himself (Harvey Pekar) or his comics, but it's a great film.

A Patch of Blue. Don't know what appeals to me so much about this film. It's a great story and Sidney Poitier is brilliant. It's a story with few characters and on the surface, only small scope, but the theme is huge. Most obscure screenshot as it contains neither of the main characters.

Charade. Best mystery ever - plus Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant in their only film partnership.

The Third Man. My favourite "grown up" film.

Alice. If you are a fan of fantasy, animation, weird horror, Alice in Wonderland or the gothic aesthetic you must see this film.

The Time Bandits. Possibly the grubbiest fantasy film ever.

Back to the Future Part III. It runs on steam!

The Neverending Story. My favourite film until I saw the next one.

Heathers. My favourite film.

A quick check of the release dates of these films reveals that these are largely from my "formative" years. That's the only way I can explain the presence of D.A.R.Y.L. -- I was young and impressionable!

Wed, 05 Oct 2005
Where's my community?

Maybe I'm missing something. There's probably a really big boulder just over there that I haven't looked behind yet. Please, let me know if you stumble across it. I'm talking about people. My kind of people. Only I don't know where they are, or even if they exist in substantial numbers.

The Internet is supposed to be good for communities, isn't it? Well I keep coming across groups of people that only partially fit. I was described yesterday as a "renaissance person". Is that the problem? Are my interests too specific or not specific enough?

Let's break it down (cue the beats). I'm a mother. I'm a Mother Who Thinks. But I'm a Mother Who Thinks About Things Other Than Being a Mother. And I'm Not American, I like it here in Melbourne.

I'm a Writer. But I am not a Romance, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Fantasy, Literary, Children's, Non-Fiction or Poetry Writer. I'm all of those and none.

I'm a Crafter. But I don't Sell What I Make. I'm also Pretty Thrifty

I Read. Graphic Novels, Film Scripts, Histories of Europe, Cookbooks, Essays, Magazines and the TV Guide. (I am addicted to libraries)

I'm Not Religious.

I'm both Frustrated and Bored by Politics.

I like Scary, Gothy things, but I'm Notagoth. I might be a Hipster. (Only another hipster knows for sure.)

I'm Well Educated and Unapologetic.

I'd make a good Recluse, but I like Gardens too.

So why is it that I can find all of these groups that fit some of these criteria, yet none that I'm comfortable hanging around in for the long term? Am I a Snob too?

Tue, 04 Oct 2005
Comments Working

Unbeknownst to me, comments to this weblog have been inaccessible for about the last six weeks. This has been amended. Apologies and cake.

NaNoWriNO! Not Again!

I've been throwing the idea around inside my skull of doing some more post-graduate study - particularly research. The thing is, I could go back to Deakin with my grad dip and fill out the right form, do one year-long subject of 8-10,000 words and be granted a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature). But I already have two bits of paper from Deakin.

I could go to the University of Melbourne and spend a year writing 30,000 words and get the same piece of paper only with a different header.

But today I realised I could just do a little research, churn out 50,000 words in one month (again) and have just as nice a certificate to hang on my wall. Possibly nicer.

Mon, 03 Oct 2005
Movie Guessing Game

Because I did so poorly on Ken's Movie Guessing Meme, I've created my own. One that shall baffle and astound. Or confound. If any one person gets all of these I shall take my hat off. I'll put one on first. Then take it off.

The idea is that I choose 15 of my favourite films and you recognise them by the vague screenshots I have provided. Leave your guesses in the comments. Good luck.