Archive for January, 2007

The Mystery resolved

The guests have left, bodies litter the landscape. I get to gather up the crumbs. Literally.

Offspring #1’s Mystery Party was a success. Yes, the plot was lame, but the guests got into the spirit of the thing with some enthusiasm, committing several additional “murders” over the course of the evening.

And believe it or not, there was food left over; not what you expect from a healthy bunch of late teens. Thus I took away a large amount of left-overs. But no cake, of course!

The concept (the murder/mystery party) is a good one, and there’s certainly a lot of work in setting up all the characters and scenarios. If I were organising one again I’d first spend a fair amount of time checking the track record of the game and feedback from previous players. (there’s a forum for the “Dinner and a Murder” customers). As for writing one yourself – a formidable task, probably best not commenced on a tight schedule!

Offspring #2 and his girl celebrated their 6-month-iversary today.

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Agatha Krusty

The Writer-and-future-filmmaker-in-training is having a 1950’s themed 19th birthday bash tonight.

It’s a Murder Mystery party with a prepackaged kit from “Dinner and a Murder” . This one’s “Class of ’57“, set at a high school reunion. One of the classmates was recently murdered. It’s up to the guests to figure out whodunnit. It’d be interesting to see how 20 Gen-Y’s interpret the 1950’s. (If I were going.)

I had the job of reformatting most of the character packs so they could be emailed to the guests beforehand; thus I know who done it. I also got to read most of them.

Of course you don’t expect Agatha Christie in the plot or the writing. Nevertheless, the character packs leave a lot to desired. They’re hard to read and not very engaging. Worse still, they’re formatted very badly (supplied as PDF files) The writer doesn’t seem to have heard of paragraph breaks.

As for the”mystery”; not very exciting. It would be nice to have a real clever whodunnit – in the vein of the old puzzle (of course you remember it!) about the man found hung from the lightbulb in an empty, internally locked room. There is a wet patch on the carpet.

Scaring up some fun

Got my arse kicked on Friday.

It’s been a while since my soaring trike has seen any airtime. There were some cobwebs on the exhaust! I needed some thermals.

I’d been looking at the weather forecast all week, and for days the long range view said “fine and light winds” on Friday 26th . Which is of course, a public holiday.Of course, I get up early on Friday and the latest forecast is less encouraging. “Light winds turning west-southwest and strengthening”. But it’s the only day of the weekend that might even possibly be flyable!

On the road then, to Locksley bright and early. There’s no wind to speak of as I drive, but a bit of high cloud. When I arrive, there’s a light westerly; a bit worrying so early. But I set up anyhow. By the time I’m ready, it’s a tad stronger.

I launch at about 11:30am and climb-cruise out to 1km from the field where I contact light lift. It’s disorganised. I can’t get established. Too early perhaps? I spend 1/2 hour bumbling about, at one stage climbing to 2000 ft, but decide to go back, refuel (as I launched with only 1/3 tank) and see if things improve. Back at the field the windsock is showing more wind. My landing is rough and difficult; I have to land diagonal to the runway because of the crosswind.

I rest for a while and have some lunch. There’s a sailplane being dragged out to be winched up, so I refuel and then push the trike out to the end of the strip to save fuel. I watch the sailplane get towed up. He works a little lift for a few minutes, which is encouraging, but then he comes back and lands. It’s 1pm and things should be working. The sailplane lines up again and launches. I move to the flight line and take off as soon as he’s clear.

As I lift off I see the sailplane coming back on downwind leg to land already, and he’s really, really low. I find out why – there’s massive sink all over the strip area. By the time I overfly the winch, I’m still at less than 200ft! Rather than continue on over trees, I turn early and head at right angles to the strip and quickly exit the down air.

There’s more lift now, and I actually get the chance to kill the engine. But every time I get to about 2500ft, it gets really, really rough and the thermal gets torn apart. I know what’s happening. There’s a strong westerly up there above an inversion and it’s ripping the thermals apart at the interface.

I bang my head against this barrier again and again. This is ceasing to be fun, and it’s scary. Clouds begin to form at about 3-4000ft. Obviously some of the stronger thermals are getting through the inversion. But these clouds show streamers and raggedness. The wind is tearing them apart too.

An hour of this is enough. I land. The wind in the teardown area has picked up substantially . I can hear it roaring through the trees. I decide that that’s my limit. I pack up.

A sailplane launches. He finds a thermal and climbs away, but he’s drifting downwind at a great rate. Too strong for me though.

So, back on the road. Days like this are frustrating.

Shame, Reilly, shame!

(A contender for the worst book I ever “read”).

A couple of years ago, on a long drive to a fly-in, I made the mistake of borrowing the Audio book of “Ice Station” by Matthew Reilly ( a young Australian author), to keep me amused. It’s 12 cassettes long.

Matthew, I want those wasted hours of my life back!

Reilly writes like a cross between (bad) Dean Koontz and RL Stine at his most cliffhangerish (and I’m talking “Goosebumps” here!). His books are “fast paced action” with nary a pause. I don’t think he knows what a pause is.

Which is a shame, because he, his proofreader and his editor should have taken a long one to consider their credibility before they published this book.

Put bluntly, Reilly tried to write “techno fiction” without a technical clue. It’s blindly obvious that at the time, Reilly was operating on one part 6th grade non-physics to nine parts of caffeine.

You can (grudgingly) accept stuff that’s obviously science fantasy that he’s made up and warned you about before using it (like scuba diving on air to depths of 3000ft with just some magic pills to save you from the bends, oxygen poisoning and the like). But when you encounter real world objects you expect them to work the way real world objects behave!

I’m about to give you an example, so if you really want to read Reilly’s book (not recommended for anyone who has a scientific clue and wants to stay sane), tune out now.

In a climactic scene, the hero and his nemesis are in a diving bell way down deep. The bad guy forces the hero out of the bottom of the bell (open to the water as diving bells are). Then the hero cracks the window of the bell. The bell implodes, squashing the bad guy to death.

The more perceptive among you will no doubt realise that the air inside the bell and the water are already at the same pressure, thanks to the hole at the bottom. All that’d happen is that the air would bubble out through the broken window.

The book’s riddled with this sort of stuff – real world objects that work in strange ways; abberant behaviour that’s pivotal to the plot and action.

Matthew Reilly is now famous. But I can’t forgive him.

Oh how we danced…

“Oh, how we danced on the night we were wed….
we danced and we danced ’cause the room had no bed…”

Ms Canada and I have returned from our first dancing lesson at the Ritz Ballroom suitably cowed.

We tried though. We tried hard. Our little group, 4 middle-aged men, their partners and about 5 extra women “of a certain age” shuffled in approximate step . Eventually we were actually allowed to shuffle with a partner instead of doing the waltz as a kind of individual line dance. It wasn’t pretty. It didn’t get prettier either.

Let’s just say that wearing  sneakers was a good idea.

I really don’t think they should hold beginners lessons right beside the folks practicing their choreography for dance competitions. Especially couples doing the whole Latin thing.

That’s just cruel.

Looking at the sharp end of the chicken

OK,  I can’t deny it, business is getting slim.  The marketplace is changing as the “ultralight” aircraft disappears in favour of heavier and heavier machines that “qualify” as ultralights.  That’s thanks to the ultralight organisations pushing the definition up the weight scale so they can administrate an even greater swathe of the light aviation market.

So the market for stuff designed for open cockpit high noise planes is contracting.  So it goes.

It’s nice to work for yourself, especially from home as I do, but I wonder how long it can continue unless I diversify.

sigh….

Tripping? the light fantastic

Tomorrow night, Ms Canada and I are off to a ballroom dancing lesson, just for fun.

This is in response to the appalling showing we made at Ms Canada’s work Christmas party where the Company supplied a “band” (basically a singer, a drummer, guitar player and a backing tape – you couldn’t tell when the real performers decided to pause) and a couple of annoyingly competent Arthur Murray dance instructors to teach us the basics.

If I tell you that after a few minutes we were forced to abandon our shoes in favour of keeping our toes intact, you’ll have some idea of our standard.

I’ve never been a fan of “dancing” as my generation practiced it. Just doing whatever you felt like seemed like a cop-out. I was never sure if I was doing it “right”. My parents’ generation had the ballroom stuff and while I was approaching puberty in the 60’s, there seemed to be a whole bunch of named dances with formal moves – the swim, froog, the Wat/Batusi, whatever. But suddenly it was “do your own thing”, leaving a whole generation of boomers basically embarrassing themselves on the dance floor prior to Disco Fever. Not that that wasn’t embarrassing too.

With a bit of luck, we’ll learn enough not to get toe damage if there’s any dancing at Ms Canada’s mothers 90th birthday party in a few months.

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