In a word: Cell

For those who break the law, they will be very familiar with the eaning of the word cell.  It’s a room a jail, not very big, with an uncomfortable bed, and no sharp edges.

And I’m sure the prisoners are not supplied with knives so they can dig through the mortar and remove bricks on their way to the great escape.  That, I’m sure only happens at the movies.

A cell can also be a building block in the creation of humans, animals, fish, and plants.  No doubt there are a million other things that require cells.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this cellular activity is whether or not there is life, and therefore cells, on Mars.  I’m guessing we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out.

We can have a cell phone, which in some parts of the world is also the name of a mobile phone.

Don’t get me started on what I think of cell phones, or how intrusive they are on our everyday lives, the number of people who seem to be continually glued to the screen, or how many near misses there are in the street and crossing the road.

On the other hand cell phones in the hands of a writer are very useful because when we get flashes of story or plotlines in one of those once awkward moments, we can now jot it down on a cell phone scribbling pad.

A cell can also be used to describe a smaller unit within a larger organisation, or, if you are a thriller writer who dabbles in espionage, you will be very familiar with the concept of a sleeper cell.

Who knows, in reality, there might be some living next door to us and we would never know.  Oops, been watching too much television again.

Digging deeper into the more obscure definitions of the word cell, we come up with a single transparent sheet that has a single drawing on it, one of many that make up an animated film, or film.  If a film runs at 32 frames per second, that means there are 32 cells.

There are fuel cells

There are dry cell batteries

And as a general warning, don’t go too near cell towers or you will be a victim of radiation that might be extremely harmful to your health.

Digging into the past

It seems rather strange reading letters that were written by my parents before they were married.

They’re not love letters, but just words, words that knowing my father and mother as I do, seem so totally at odds with that knowledge.

The thing is, I never knew anything of that era existed, even though I knew my mother was a hoarder, and we didn’t discover the extent of that phobia until it was time to move them from their last residence to the retirement home.

There were cases and boxes filled with papers, letters, cuttings, and everything else in between.  Nothing had been thrown out.

And whilst I knew those letters existed, there was the yuk factor involved, such that I would never want to read them because, well, that was my parents’ stuff.

So, all of it was sorted, most of it thrown away, and only what we thought was of any intrinsic value was kept.  Those letters were part of the ‘keep’ pile and ended up in an old metal steamer trunk, and there they have lived for about ten years.

With the recent cleaning of my office, much to Chester’s disdain, the trunk suddenly looked out of place in a clean room.

My grandchildren ‘found’ this trunk and started looking through the contents and finished up with the letters.

And, being the curious people, they were, they started reading them, of course, stumbling over understanding the handwriting, which was based on what we learned in school, cursive script.  That meant I had to interpret the writing for them.

Talk about morbid curiosity!

And like I said, in reading them, formed the impression that these two correspondents were nothing like the people I knew growing up.

These letters dated from 1948 and 1949 when they were married in June of 1949.  There was no doubt it was a different time, and they were different people.  My mother came from a country town and went to work in Melbourne around that time.  I know that during the war, those years from 1939 to 1945 she was a student at Dandenong High School.

It was odd to realize that considering we eventually moved to Dandenong, and that may have had something to do with it.

My father served in the war till 1946, and then after being discharged from the army, worked as a projectionist until he went overseas for nearly a year, ostensibly to see how the war had affected Europe.  After that, he went back to being a projectionist at the Athenaeum in Melbourne, and later on, not knowing much of his work history, he would always tell us about the movies, especially those that came up on television.

There’s more I’m sure, like the fact my mother had another chap on the go at the same time, but it seems he was not interested in settling down.

Perhaps more will come to light in further reading, but like it said, it seems very strange to be reading those letters, much like walking over a grave; it gives me the odd shiver down the spine.

No doubt, the next time the grandchildren visit there will be another installment.

They, at least, think the story is fascinating.

Conversations with my cat – 80

20160907_135509

This is Chester. We’re back watching the Maple Leafs.

This isn’t going to be pretty. While they have won a few in the last week or so they have also lost, and by large numbers.

I know this is a mistake watching it with Chester, the eternal pessimist, because his initial statement, ‘You know Anderson’s going to let you down again’ even before the match started, is a sign of things to come.

Yep. There it is 21 seconds into the game the other side scores.

Damn.

He turns his head and gives me the look, “I told you so.”

Double damn.

Nothing worse than a smart-ass cat is there, and especially when he’s right.

The game progresses, and then the internet dies on me, leaving a frozen screen. Bigger fish to fry now, with the internet provider, where we are, the NBN, which is little more than a joke. Try streaming anything…

It’s the same result.

Pixellation, blank screens, endless loading signs and then a seized screen.

Good.

For once I don’t mind because I don’t have to listen to the negativity.

Yes, they score again. And again. And yes, once again we’re looking down the barrel of another huge loss.

“Just what is wrong with your goalie,” Chester asks.

“Too many games and not enough faith in the backup, I guess.”

It’s hard to explain wat’s going wrong. I don’t know the ins and outs of the Toronto team because we’re not there. It’s the lot of a supporter whose 12,000 miles away.

Perhaps our year will be next year.

Chester doesn’t think so. Halfway through the third period, he walks off, the internet giving up the ghost. We all know how this end, don’t we, he says.

Yes. We do. The food you hate the most is in your tray.

Revenge doesn’t sound as good as it did in my head a few minutes ago.

Triple Damn.

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

20160907_135509

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.