That’s two days of my life I won’t get back

Yep…

I just spent 26 and a half hours in planes and in airport terminals getting home, and lost two days in the process.  The 15th of January just didn’t exist for us.

This is what happens when you fly from Vancouver in Canada to Brisbane Australia, via Shanghai.  The thing is, everywhere way, way overseas is a two-stop run.  We have to break our journey somewhere, like Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, and for the sake of managing delays at the originating end, we usually end up with a mid airports stay of five to ten hours.

It all means that when you finally arrive in Australia, you are tired, and look it.  I feel sorry for the Immigration officials who must rarely see people looking good on their arrival.

This time we were fortunate to get back in the morning.  To save being picked up by relatives we arranged for a limousine service, and it worked out well.

I couldn’t say the same for some of the pickup services overseas, but that was more the fault of the travel agent here than anything else.

It only reinforced my thoughts on travel agents, some are excellent, and some are complacent, relying too much on travel wholesalers whose knowledge of the products they sell is appalling.

The original bookings were fine, the agent we used knew her stuff.  But she left and someone else took over, and not so good I’m afraid.

However…

On the whole, it was an incredible expedition, from temperatures of 30 plus celsius to temperatures of -21 degrees Fahrenheit, and rarely above 6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The highlight:  Lake Louise in Canada.  Everyone should see this place in Winter at least once in their lifetime.  Certainly, my wife’s 65th birthday, spent there, was something she will never forget.

And the sleigh ride, in -14 or -15 degrees, well, we might be eligible to be declared start staring mad, but seeing the frozen waterfall was just another of those magical moments that reinforces why we should be preserving the planet, not trying to destroy it.

But…

We’re back home and glad to be so.

 

 

What means this ‘every cloud has a silver lining’?

People use this expression a lot, and despite their best intentions, what does it really mean?

Perhaps, literally, it means that bad times are like dark clouds, blocking out the sun, but we can see the lights rays behind them, and that is the silver lining.  This seems to be the most common explanation.

Where did it originate?

It is said that John Milton used the phrase ‘silver lining’ in his ‘Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle in 1634, but it was not until much later, in Victorian England that it was expressed in more uplifting language in The Dublin Magazine in 1840, in the review of a novel, Marian; or, a Young Maid’s Fortunes.

But, figuratively, we like to think that in the event of something bad happening, there will always be something better to come from it.

It probably goes hand in hand with two other interesting expressions, things can’t get any worse, maybe because I’ve hit rock bottom.

Of course, in the first instance, you say things can’t get any worse, but they generally do, as in bad things happen in threes.

We tend to believe, for whatever reason, that if it has happened twice then it’ll happen again.  So, while we may think lightning never strikes twice in the same place, in fact, it has.  What are the odds it’ll happen to me?

Then, misfortunes never come singly, which tends to suggest that bad events or situations always come in groups.  That’s why when one person dies, it’s unfortunate, two people die, it prompts the notion that there will be another.

We always hope it doesn’t, but we are not necessarily surprised if it does.

In the second instance, rock bottom is said to be caused by poor lifestyle choices.  Can you go any lower, supposedly not, but…

There’s another saying which came out of an old movie I was watching one night, very late, and that was ‘he’s lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut’.

Wow!

Just saying.

To compound this line of thought, let’s add one more, ‘It never rains, it just pours’, with several variations on the wording, but the intent is the same and suggests that unfortunate events happen in quantity.

Sadly, it happens more often than not.

 

 

 

 

In a word: Key

So, as we all know, a key is used to lock or unlock a door, gate, or something else.  It’s either made of shiny metal, brass, or rusty iron, it can be small, or very, very big, as is the key to a dungeon.

We can have one key or we can have many or even a master key that unlocks everything, very handy if you have a house full of locked rooms.

People always seem to want to steal them, especially in crime shows.

There is also an item called a key card.  Not the metal thing, but a plastic thing, that opens doors.  Odd that it’s called keyless entry!

Then there’s what is known as the key to something, i.e. you might have the key to his or her heart, metaphorically speaking.

And in that metaphorical sense, it opens up pandora’s box with a plethora of different meanings.

He had the key to the puzzle.

I wish sometimes I had the key to be able to write better, that that one particular key eludes me.

There are keys on a keyboard, the ones you use on computers and calculators.  They were originally on typewriters.  You can also find keys on a piano, or an accordion, and some other musical instruments.

A key can also be a master index field, or unique identifier, in a database, particularly those kept on computers.

And,

there’s a host of other uses for the word key, such as

roughening a surface

describing the shooting area on a basketball court

a group, or one, of small coral islets

matching words to pictures

or, you’re just too keyed up to sleep.

 

 

 

Past conversations with my cat – 41

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This is Chester. He had been shocked by my transformation into someone he least likely expected to find in his domain.

After a chastisement, I told him he could expect more shocks in the days to follow.

Why he asks. All I want is a peaceful life lying in the sun by the window, and no pesky mice to chase.

Sorry, I say. I’m playing roles for my next book. Trying to get the feel for the character.

A drunk, a fool, and a man who does household chores. You’re failed in all three, just in case you want to know what I think.

I don’t.

The cat doesn’t have a sense of humour, or if he does, I’m not seeing it.

I think you’ve got it wrong. Not a drunk, a man with physical disabilities, not a fool but a clown who’s lost his will to perform, and yes, I am the one who does the cooking and cleaning,

And who’s in charge of feeding you?  Anything else you care to add?

Looking good, keep up the good work, but how about fresh fish rather than that packet stuff.

“Echoes From The Past”, buried, but not deep enough

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What happens when your past finally catches up with you?

Christmas is just around the corner, a time to be with family. For Will Mason, an orphan since he was fourteen, it is a time for reflection on what his life could have been, and what it could be.

Until a chance encounter brings back to life the reasons for his twenty years of self-imposed exile from a life only normal people could have. From that moment Will’s life slowly starts to unravel and it’s obvious to him it’s time to move on.

This time, however, there is more at stake.

Will has broken his number one rule, don’t get involved.

With his nemesis, Eddie Jamieson, suddenly within reach, and a blossoming relationship with an office colleague, Maria, about to change everything, Will has to make a choice. Quietly leave, or finally, make a stand.

But as Will soon discovers, when other people are involved there is going to be terrible consequences no matter what choice he makes.

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Waiting, perhaps, for the robots to come to life – maybe?

It seems that we spend nearly as much time waiting as some of us do sleeping.  In fact, I’ve been known to be sleeping while waiting.

What is it in this era of mechanization and computerization that we still have to wait.  Is it the human element that is still holding us back?

But, hang on, isn’t it the human element that creates the mechanization and computerization?  Perhaps we are building in redundancy so that we are not replaced by the very things we are creating to make our lives easier?

We don’t have robots who can perform the same tasks as a GP doctor because we still need the human factor, and since one size does not fit all, no consultation can ever be fit into a specific time frame so there will always be waiting especially as the day wears on.

We cannot completely automate phone call answering except for the part where you are put in a queue and told your call is important and then you sit there listening to some awful music, seemingly forgotten

There will always be hundreds of calls in a queue for the most important services. or when you need an answer in a hurry, because only a few people are available to answer the phone.  Robots will not be able to answer calls either, because once again, only a real person can respond to the randomness of callers questions.

Artificial intelligence only works in science fiction.

Then there is the time we spend waiting at traffic lights, and then, even when the lights are with us, in traffic jams.  We are still stumped by trying to find an all-conquering answer to moving masses of people, either by the roads or by public transport.

The latter is all too frequently suffering delays and congestion due to the number of services needed and decaying networks and infrastructure, all of which is only going to get worse, with, of course, longer delays and more waiting.

Maybe the answer is to work from home but sadly the internet, that so-called answer to all our off-site networking, is not going to cope, and in fact, in this country, our latest update is a retrograde step on speed and availability, ie more waiting and less work.

Waiting, it seems, we are stuck with it whether we like it or not.  Good thing then our lives are longer.  But, if we delve into the mystery of longer lives now against what they were back when there was less waiting, maybe we still have the same amount of life, and the fact we’re living longer is negated by all the waiting.

I’m sure we didn’t have to wait very long for anything a hundred years ago.

Just saying.

Writing about writing a book – Day 18

It’s time to go back to working on Bill’s backstory now that we’ve filled in some of the gaps.

Like some TV shows and books, some of the action sometimes takes the form of flashbacks.

In Starburst, Bill has a complete backstory, of a time that he had mainly forced into the deep dark part of his memory, waiting for something or someone to trigger it.

This whole back story, from the moment he entered the war zone, to the moment his war ended, and those that participated throughout that time, will be in the form of flashbacks, the first of which is triggered by the painkiller Bill is given after being shot in the Aitcheson incident.

These flashbacks will not necessarily be in any sort of order, but I have been thinking about this part of the story and produced an outline of the sequences I will require, give or take.  There may be more, or less, depending on how the story progresses.

 

Part 1 – From arrival in the war zone to being assigned to Davenport’s squad

Being sent to, and the first patrol in Vietnam

Death and mayhem some months after sent to Vietnam

First meeting Barry in army mobile hospital

R and R in Saigon, with the first of the Vietnamese girls

Psychiatric help, time in the stockade

 

No soldier who trains for war, nor can they have a real idea what war is like, and certainly a war in the jungle, on the enemy’s terms.  Bill is like any other soldier, happy to go into service, but soon the reality, and death becomes apparent.

Endless rain, endless heat, endless and sometimes needless death, and a deep mistrust of those whom you are supposed to protect, start to work on the mind of a person young enough not to understand what is going on.

Then, when trying to blot out the memories of death, enemy and friend alike, something has to give.  Of course, the last place you want to end up in the stockade.

 

Part 2 – A lifeline, and a pass into the so-called Davenport Operation

Training as a spy?

Colonel, calling Bill into a briefing on the Davenport operation

Talking to the Commanding officer in Stockade, as a preliminary to Davenport service

 

Was Bill sent to the stockade because he committed an act of folly, or his incarceration a part of a much larger plan, a plan to have an inside man to report on Davenport?

It’s not the first time someone higher up the chain of command has had ideas of trying to find out what Davenport is doing, and where only rumors abound of his ‘interests’.  Agents had been sent in before, and those agents had disappeared.

Was Bill about to be the next, or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time?

 

There is more, but I’m still working on it.

 

© Charles Heath 2015-2020