Apr. 16th, 2009

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Last month I flew to Perth in Western Australia.  It was the first time I’d been to Perth in 22 years.

It had changed a lot since I was there.  Apparently it had even moved states.

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Perth is a really nice city.  It’s the most isolated capital city in the world (the nearest capital city is over 3000 km away).  I met up with one of my Clarion friends and we went to Wave Rock, a giant rock formation shaped like a wave.

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I also visited Rottnest Island, a beautiful island off the coast of Perth.  I rented a bicycle and rode around the island.  The weather was great and I stopped at a few beaches along the way.

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Then I took the Indian Pacific - the train that runs from Perth to Sydney.  It’s a 4352 km trip and takes 65 hours.  There are different travelling options, including cabins.  I took the cheapest option, which is a reclining seat.  There are showers and a dining carriage aboard the train.  Such a long trip isn’t for everyone, but I really enjoy travelling by train and I was happy talking to other backpackers, admiring the scenery and reading.

The train stops for a couple of hours in Kalgoorlie, Adelaide and Broken Hill and you have the chance to get off the train.  In Broken Hill I visited an art gallery that has one of the largest paintings in the world.  A single artist painted a circular painting that wraps around the room and is over 100 metres long.  It depicts the landscape near Broken Hill and is very impressive.

In Sydney I visited some more Clarion friends.  It was great catching up with people from Clarion again.  We went and had a look at the Powerhouse museum’s Star Wars exhibition, as well as an exhibition by a Japanese artist.

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Originally published at Aidan Doyle. You can comment here or there.

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Brazilian fan recreation of the Masters of the Universe cartoon.

Weird stuff …

Originally published at Aidan Doyle. You can comment here or there.

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This week I got my 200th rejection letter.  It was for a story I’d originally written long ago (1998) and revised over the years.  I did a major revision after Clarion, and since then it’s earned me a couple more rejection letters.  I suspect it soon shall be confined to the Abandoned section of my writing folders.

I submitted my first story to a magazine way back in 1991, when I was still at high school.  I like keeping records of things, so I’ve kept track of the number of submissions (both fiction and non-fiction) I’ve made for every year since then.   I’ve also kept track of the number of rejection letters.  It’s at least an indicator that I’m still working on my writing.

I’ve also been doing a bit of reading in the last month.  After seeing the Watchmen movie I read the graphic novel, which I was suitably impressed with.

I read Ian McDonald’s Brasyl, which was a very ambitious book, but didn’t really grab me.  I’ve been to Brazil a couple of times and I’m really interested in Latin America, but found the novel’s characters hard to sympathise with.  And I’m a bit tired of reading stories where Frank Tipler’s Omega Point plays a role.

I read Summer Knight by Jim Butcher.  It’s the fourth Harry Dresden novel, and as usual, was a fun, enjoyable read.

I read Vampire Loves by Joann Sfar.  It’s a quirky graphic novel about a vampire and his relationship problems.  The start was great, but it started to drift a bit after that.

I’m halfway through Accelerando by Charles Stross.  Amazing ideas but hard to get into.   It’s a good example of why some people prefer fantasy to sf and why some people prefer sf to fantasy.  Me, I love both genres.  A sample paragraph:

New discoveries this decade include the origins of the weakly repulsive force responsible for changes in the rate of expansion of the universe after the big bang, and on a less abstract level, experimental implementations of a Turing Oracle using quantum entanglement circuits: a device that can determine whether a given functional expression can be evaluated in finite time.  It’s boom time in the field of Extreme Cosmology, where some of the more recherche researchers are bickering over the possibility that the entire universe was created as a computing device, with a program encoded in the small print of the Planck constant.

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time.  The topics it covers -

* Chapter 1: Discovering cheating as applied to teachers and sumo wrestlers
* Chapter 2: Information control as applied to the Ku Klux Klan and real-estate agents
* Chapter 3: The economics of drug dealing, including the surprisingly low earnings and abject working conditions of crack cocaine dealers
* Chapter 4: The controversial role legalized abortion has played in reducing crime. (Levitt explored this topic in an earlier paper entitled “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime.”)
* Chapter 5: The negligible effects of good parenting on education
* Chapter 6: The socioeconomic patterns of naming children

Originally published at Aidan Doyle. You can comment here or there.

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November 2009

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