Back on the blogs!

Heya bloggies, I’m back!

After a week-long scramble being locked out of my account, I’ve finally solved the mystery.

It’s like this:  WordPress felt at risk, so they did a broad-scale forced password change.  (Did you experience this?)

I could remember my password, username (LOL) and my original login email address, but (as I found out mere minutes back)  my mail server bunged all reset notifications of mine straight into the trash!

So, seeing that my email isn’t the one I use every day, I didn’t see this and presumed that WordPress had either somehow lost my email address, or changed it, or (horrors) that I’d originally used a now-defunct address.

In the last case, there would have been (I’m informed by an admin) no way on Earth to retrieve my blog.  I would have had to restart and redirect.  Tedious, messy and sad.

It’s concerning that they don’t have a fall-back, secondary email for when one’s primary email account fails.    I don’t like using a mobile phone as a second identifier as a mobile phone is a tracker.  If I want the internet to know my exact physical location, I’ll jolly share it myself!

Anyway I’m back online.  🙂  And Land Under Wave is leaking…  water everywhere.

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Finally Darx Emerges into Lightz!

Darx Circle is ready to be ordered! Get your copy now before they expire! 🙂

Anyone who has read LHW Noble’s “Regina” and “Forest Circle Quest” and loved them as much as we did, is in for a treat! Darx Circle is a youth fantasy novel of note, a fine blend of breath-stopping adventure and teenage angst.

P’kaboo wants to thank our author/editor Les Noble for his immense tenacity and for taking on the task of the first distribution.

Leslie Hyla Winton Noble

Darx Circle has been the most difficult birth of a novel I have yet encountered. It was all-but ready for publication (or so I thought) when I made up the first proof in May, 2015. Then came all manner of circumstances to delay it yet further. I must say, though, that in the process it was given time to undergo some extra improvements and have a few subtle touches included. I truly believe that the novel is better now than it would have been if issued at that time.

At last have come the first professional proofs. I simply have to attend to a few more elements, and the South African printed version will be ready to go. While adjustment takes place regarding the tragic events affecting my publishers, I will be handling initial orders personally. A comment on this blog can start the ball rolling.

Overseas and e-book versions will be issued shortly — Amazon, Kindle, etc.

In…

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The tech/off-grid rift

One of the most human tendencies is to polarize issues.

So it has been predicted (I haven’t read those predictions myself) that humankind is splitting in two:  The technophile and the off-grid “bushwhacker”.  The former will be isolated individuals lost in the online world, with no “real” friends and estranged from their families.  The latter will live in little enclaves, ecovillages that have reverted to the lifestyle of late Stone Age.

I see several problems with this concept.  Firstly, every “technophile”, bar perhaps the most extreme games addicts, has a life “outside” the computer.  Yes, we can order stuff online, but we still do physically go to the shops to select our shopping ourselves.  And we could take e-tours around Blarney Castle (I did, in 2015) but while that is amusing and quite amazing, it has nothing on the actual experience.

Also, the off-gridders cannot survive in such small, isolated communities.  Alright, I guess they can survive.  But the trouble is, humans are a fine balance of social vs antisocial beings.  If you felt encroached in a mini community while living in a small town, just imagine how much worse it will be when you share every meal with neighbours around a large table in the community banquet hall.  And imagine the power of the community to excommunicate a member if they disapprove.  If you feel camped in by other people’s rules now, just imagine how it will be then.  A lot of problems arise from this “Underbergishness”.

In the middle ages, young adults would, after completing their apprenticeship, become a wandering bachelor, looking for fresh opportunities, fresh villages.  This is a natural human desire:  The wish for “something more”, for a place where nobody yet knows your name and nobody watched you be potty-trained.  Our culture and civilization arose in response to our need for “something more”.

Now that we have that “something more”, to an extent that we can communicate with lost family and friends across the oceans in real-time, I cannot see humankind abandoning this in a hurry.  Not even half of humankind.  Yes, ecovillages are a great idea and so is off-grid – as long as the off-grid doesn’t actually cut you off from all communications with the outside, and all our actual culture.

Some of the questions I would raise:

  • Literature.  So, we’ll be writing with goose quill and brewed ink on home-made papyrus again…  a novel of 500 pages that one can really get engrossed in?  And there is only one copy of it, because without technology it would take monasteries to copy out books – and as you know, they don’t necessarily like fiction.
  • Music.  Where are the orchestras, when in one village of 30, there are perhaps two fiddlers, a guitarist and one soul experimenting on the flute?
  • Art.  Canvas, paints?  The insects will eat it, because it cannot be proofed against them if it’s all organic.

So you’ve just done away with art, music and literature – the three things that define a human culture.  The very heart of what makes us tick.  Is Stone-Age living really worth that?

The Glue

I volunteer, in that post-apocalyptic horror vision of a world, to be the glue between the two sides of humanity.  Who is joining me?

Humans love stories, we’ve always thrived on them.  Books, reading and writing, are treasures.  We shall continue to produce paper books and move the techno world into mass-producing them – or at least, have the possibility to produce the paper book on demand.  I’ll be vending them to the off-grid guys.

Music.  I guess I could get into my off-roads vehicle with a number of other music teachers and go around the ecovillages giving lessons.  I know they have a lot of time in their idyllic lifestyle, so they will practise (because they are bored).

Art.  Organizing workshops (with transport arranged) for those poor young people stuck in the eco-villages who crave to be artists, to explore their souls and the world that way.  Supplying them with materials.  Heck, I’ll take gold nuggets or home-crafted tablecloths in payment and vend them back to the techno crowd – because, peeps, no matter how techno we are (see which world I clearly belong to), we still love adorning our homes in lovely colours and eating fresh, wholesome foods.

I’ll be the Rover.  The Trader.  The Glue.  Who’s with me?

And TBH this leads me to wonder if there wasn’t such a situation before (not quite as technological but as divided) where the travellers (gypsies and other travelling tradespeople) were actually acting as the glue.

 

Our Very Own Treasure ~ Wenlock Books

Luckily there are still such shops around.

Tish Farrell

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Aren’t we lucky to still have our own independent bookshop when across Britain such places are sadly becoming a thing of the past. So here it is, Wenlock Books, a landmark on the High Street, and housed in a wonderfully restored 14th century building. Its owner, Anna Dreda, is passionate about book selling, and has nurtured it and us for over twenty years, creating a haven for book lovers of all ages, from infants upwards. Downstairs the shelves are brimming with crisply published new books, while upstairs you can sit in cosy corners surrounded by ancient timbers and read the pre-owned and antiquarian books. Or if you are nosy like me, you can look out of the window on to the street below and surreptitiously see what Wenlock’s citizens are getting up to.

Also when you pop into Wenlock Books for a good browse, don’t be surprised if you are offered a cup of tea, or…

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Another independent bookshop comes to The End —

Another beautiful bookshop has closed its doors… Durban, South Africa.

Colonialist's Blog

— and the cups will run dry.

In 2009, a young girl named Kerry returned to Amanzimtoti from Cape Town, where she had first been employed, filled with experiences of boutique bookshops found in that area and determined to start one of her own. With the help of her parents and her own entrepreneurial skills the dream was realised as ‘The Book Boutique’, which became a thriving business combining excellent selections of books with fine coffee and cakes.

Book launches and Saturday readings of books to children became regular features.  At one of the former, some five years ago, I met ‘Spud’ author John van de Ruit. He was fresh from the success of the movie made from the first book, and with great tales to tell about interactions with John Cleese. I bought his latest Spud book ‘Exit, Pursued by a Bear’, which he autographed for me.

Anyway, this month came…

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Omphalos, or the Last Thursday Philosophy

I think I’m going to convert to Last Thursdayism.  It solves all problems!

“What, you say I owe you money?  When did I supposedly borrow it?  Ah, no… in May the world didn’t yet exist, you have false memories.”

“What, you say I wronged you?  That is not possible, the world only came into existence 5 minutes back, you remember wrong.  And that is not your fault.  You were created with false memories.”

Dear Bloggies, could you please post historical events, reflected in buildings of the era, that date back to between the year of Christ and 1650?  Stuff that happened during the Middle Ages?

Why this sudden madness?

Because while there clearly are quite visible and in-your-face political wanglings that have been going on for a long time (think about it:  How can 1 family claim all the diamonds in Namibia, including the ones that have not yet been found?) that kind of twisting does not reach all the way to a postulated creator.

It would neatly excuse everyone from what they have done, right?

But consider it:  Let’s postulate that there is 1 spirit.  1 single, solitary being.

The spirit is alone.  Living high, in a pretty star mansion, but alone.  So he (it will have to be a “he”) gets bored, or maybe lonely, whatever; seeing that there was nothing before him, he can’t really know what it is that motivates him.  Does he feel?  Seeing that he is the first entity experiencing whatever it is, that drive not-to-be-alone, we really can’t tell.

So he decides to make more than there already is.  Maybe he makes stars, planets, supernovae;  maybe he makes a flat little pancake world.  Seeing that the sphere is probably the most stable shape in the universe, and also happens to be what clay keeps returning to when a child plays with it, the possibility of planets is actually higher than that of a pancake world; but whatever, it doesn’t really matter, let’s run with this.

He decides that whatever shape this world is, it needs squiggly things on it that move.  So he creates a wealth of species, all in one go (what an imagination!). Boom!  Because, whether it happened last Thursday or 5 minutes back, there really wasn’t time for much beyond “boom”.

Okay, so now we are all here.  But here comes the rub:  This childish, Loki-like deity has decided in his singular “boom” to create everything with the appearance of vast age and memories.

What a prank!  How he must be laughing up there while down here, serious scientists (whose serious characters he, too, created) dig around in the “evidence” and prove beyond reasonable doubt that Earth is about 4 mil years old; while people feel deeply about a past, growing up, loving people, sunshiny childhoods (or irreversible childhood damage) influencing their very actions, missing people who died, when all those memories didn’t really happen!

He goes further than that and creates dispute about creationism vs evolution; watches people fight, laughs out loud to himself.

TBH, who would want to live in a Last Thursday universe?

The very trick of Last Thursdayism is that it cannot, by its own definition, be disproved.  You can’t prove that this model is false.  We instinctively know it is false, but… give it a shot, try it?

Now, to top that, one should marry solipsism to Last Thursdayism.

That is, if one really never wants to achieve anything again in one’s life.  What’s the point, in such a set of philosophies? All it does, is take all other arguments ad absurdum.

I need to go sleep again, good night!  I am presuming that you are really out there and reading this, not that I’m only imagining this.

La revedere.

gipsika

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital heroin

http://nypost.com/2016/08/27/its-digital-heroin-how-screens-turn-kids-into-psychotic-junkies/

Scary article of how overexposure to screen time turns kids into zombies.

A generation back I spotted telly addiction in a family and decided not to have a television in my house.  Ever.  A decision I have not regretted.  Later, with computers, both Hubbs and I got pretty screen-addicted – in his case, designing websites and writing little app-like games in VB, in my case, writing and publishing the books.  He also loved his games, and I must say I also enjoyed especially one or two of them.  I watched him and my son play GTA (violent but somehow funny) and Assassin’s Creed (amazing) on the big screen in the Haunted House, and I enjoyed watching.  But it gets a bit boring if one is the watcher and not the player.

However, when the kids were small, at some point a benevolent relative brought them electronic gifts – little Nintendo DS’s.  A while later my son (then only 8) came to me and informed me that his little sister, my Wildest One, on whose “amazing imagination” he had commented previously, wasn’t playing at all anymore, only ever on her DS.  Well, the inevitable happened and that little blue machine went mysteriously missing, and the imagination was found again.

I also had a pretty strict rule with the kids that during the week they were not allowed any electronic media – with the exception of a pre-screened video at their grandmother’s place, occasionally, as a treat.  They turned into readers, musicians, chess players etc.  The parameters have changed (our lives are still pretty much in limbo, and for the moment their smart-phones are crutches, both socially and keeping them sane in an environment where nothing is currently predictable), but this will be remedied as our lives steady out.  I believe the worst is behind us, it is now only a matter of finding our own place to stay and me raising enough of an income to steady out our situation.  Nobody tries to come in through the window at night, here.

So once things are back on an even keel, those electronic media will be returned to their rightful spot – as a social connector, a research tool, and occasionally a bit of entertainment.  In contrast to Manfred Spitzer, I as layperson do believe that electronic devices can be part of a child’s growing up – as a toy and a tool, not as a babysitter or an addiction!  And as for that tantrum – ohmy, any toy that triggered a tantrum immediately “went away” for a good while because it was a naughty toy.

Of course, there is another thing:  Every child (and every adult) reacts differently to electronics.  This is where parents have an actual job to do, discerning, and being “unfair” about it while explaining to the respective offspring that they are only allowed 2 hours of screen time a week and their brother gets 7, because their brother doesn’t get addicted to it as easily.  Parental discretion plays a large role here.

Wishing you all strength with that.

Web decisions & a cute bit of history

When Hubbs first got into website creation, he discovered and shared a principle with me.

It is based on the old-hat concept that there is no free lunch.  If a server offers you free web hosting, it means that they pop their own advertisements on your site, advertising someone else’s commerce on your effort.

This does not seem to have changed in any way.  Even the “cheap” hosts are only “temporarily cheap” and often more expensive than the immediately higher-priced ones.

I was reminded of why we built our websites from scratch, in html, css, php and javascript rather than “borrowing” from the drag-and-drop sites.  It is this:  Web places that have “preformatted”, easy-to-update web templates usually charge per gadget.  Want a dropdown menu? $10 please.  Paypal button (so your customers can actually order something)?  $10 per button please.  Oh, you’d like an extra div (little interactive box)?  That’ll be another $29 “hosting” fine.  I mean, fee.

Here’s a link to a site Hubbs built a long while back, and kept updating until the restaurant closed its doors in 2003.  The mailing lists and online ordering continued for a while longer.  It is an impressively large site if you consider that every week for years, another recipe was added to the archives.  He even had a Links page leading to other holistic sites and to joke sites – some of which are actually still around.  I’m amazed what he achieved with very primitive means, very rudimentary graphics programs (we didn’t have the “latest and greatest”).

The Crazy Nut Restaurant

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The William Saroyan quote scrolls, and the little peanut man does a cartwheel on the home page.  All done in basic html.  Hubbs certainly bet on the right horse concerning the freeservers server, as they are still around today.  His own site, Moncrieff Web Design, was not so lucky.  Parked with 8k.com, it was first entirely cluttered with ads, and then the server disappeared.  (Of course if you look it up, today you will find a Gary Moncrieff Web Design… no relation.  Turns out Moncrieff isn’t such a rare name, only in South Africa.)

I am still considering how to approach the P’kaboo and Honeymead sites.  A lot of thought and design has gone into both.  But it goes beyond that.  The way people read, has changed.  Clearly a restart and a relaunch is indicated.

Now that I am here, I see bookshops, libraries and actual readers. In SA, there were readers… but the economy was so bad that they crowded into the one bookshop that sold only remaindered books, living, so to speak, on carrion. It is a self-limiting system.

Here, too, I see the e-revolution – teenagers squinting at tiny cellphone screens instead of reading books.  I bought two magazines today – I was the only one on the train station who was reading magazines.  (Sorry:  Journals.)  To my surprise there aren’t even proper bus plans – little map books outlining which bus goes where.  It’s all on Google, and if your smartphone battery is dead, you are phooked…

Take it a step further (“your ebook is reading you” etc) and you have the fact that Google is an AI.  An AI that watches and records our every move.  Are you comfortable with that?

Come, peeps, give some input.  Do you think reading is good for teenagers, and should be promoted, or is it obsolete in the world of online gaming and social media?  How do we go about this, rekindling a love for the (original) written word?  Humankind lives on stories.  It is who we are.  C’mon, this can’t be that complicated!

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Prehistoric Graffiti

Wedding anniversary

Today, 20 years back, I married my soulmate.

It was a fairly small wedding.  7 people in total, at the reception (including the 2 of us).  Still it was amazing.

My cousin and I created the wedding cake, the 2 days previously.  It was so damp that the icing flowers refused to work, so we decorated with – wait for it – white freesias and red cranberries.  My dress was borrowed, and maroon, not white.  Our photographer was actually a professional photographer, my cousin’s tenant. She took amazing photos; only I have not yet digitized them.

We made a turn in Bristol after that; Hubbs had a 1-weekend job there.  We spent some time in Weston Supermare (weird place) because I wanted to be at the sea.

TBH, this move to Ireland is not proving easy in any way.  My inlaws have helped tremendously, but actually they don’t want to stay here, and they want us to move with them when we’ve just arrived here.  I have no idea what the options are in the rest of Europe or whether we’d even find a foothold.  Here, at least, we speak the language and the kids have a birthright.  But the bureaucracy proves tough – things that ought to be either legal rights or not, are “discretionary”.  Stupid little loops, like a PPS number:  My oldest, R, has her full citizenship, but because she was not born here, now she has to get her PPS number (basically, tax number) separately.  Every Irish citizen here gets his PPS number at birth; why did she not get hers at the point she was registered?  They want all sorts of excuses why she should “deserve” one.  To do a driver’s license; to study; to have a job.  But the colleges won’t let her sign up without one, and the employers won’t employ her without one.  And without one, they won’t let her do anything.

In that case, what does the citizenship mean at all?  This is ridiculous.

When I left Africa, I had to content with no end of admin rubbish.  South Africa is over-regulated to the teeth.  They use admin to exert power over people and breach people’s constitutional rights.  I had not expected the same attitude here!

I think today I must take the kids somewhere and just take a day off worrying and wondering.

 

Lili und Iain auf dem Rasen vor Ou Lettere - bei Lilis Graduation 199yy

At my graduation, 1991

Unreal colours, light, Ireland is gorgeous

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Unfiltered!  This was the actual colour the phone captured of these deeply purple flowers.

Colours don’t come out the way they look. The light here is different.  I suspect that there is a general undertone in the light (red? violet?) that our eyes get used to, so it “normalizes”.  Then we wonder why our cameras (objective, you see) don’t pick up the colours the way we see them.