Author Archives: acflory

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes...

Hail storm turns Warrandyte white

Warrandyte was hit by the mother of all hail storms yesterday afternoon [January 19th, 2020], and I have to admit, we were scared. The roof is corrugated iron, and the hail stones, some as big as golf balls, sounded like machine gun bullets trying to smash their way in. And that’s without the thunder and lightning adding their bit. And it just wouldn’t stop.

Mogi [dog] was shivering like a leaf and Golli [cat] was yowling in terror. The Offspring and I just stood in the kitchen, peering out at the devastation and muttering ‘I don’t believe this’.

These are some of the photos I took once the worst of the storm had eased:

Mist rising from the hail
Mist starting to roll up the hill

As odd as it may sound, the humidity after the hail storm was intense, and the temperature was actually warm, so the layer of icy hail stones created a mist that became heavier as it flowed up the hill towards the house. Very strange.

Hail piling up against a window
Hail piling up against the back door

Just realised that some of the hail was bigger than your average golf ball! Those are full sized bricks on the side of the last picture, yet look at the size of some of those hail stones by comparison!

The corner of the deck showing how much hail had piled up

We never get snow, but I found myself having to shovel hail stones off the deck as if they were snow. And this, in the middle of one of our hottest summers…wtf?

A very large terracotta pot, embedded in hail stones

We’ve since learned that Warrandyte was pretty much at the epicentre of yesterday’s storm and suffered quite a bit of damage. In low lying areas, some of the houses suffered broken windows and flooding. And every car left out in the open, is now pockmarked with dents.

Personally, we took very little damage. The Offspring’s car is dented, and one small tile broke on the small side deck, but other than that, we came through the storm surprisingly well. It’ll take me forever to rake up the carpet of shredded leaves and branches covering the ground, but my baby apples survived, and I’d harvested most of the apricots already, so I think we’ve been very lucky.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a pic of the apricot cake I made two days ago. It’s garnished with apricot compote, and all the apricots came from my own tree. Can’t complain. 🙂

Bon appetit 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Vokhtah has 16 reviews!

When D.Wallace Peach [Diana to her friends] said that she was going to read Vokhtah, I warned her. I said that the story was nothing like Innerscape. I told her that there were no humans in it, that it was all about these weird aliens on another planet…

And then I promptly forgot about it because I didn’t expect her to finish Vokhtah, and I certainly didn’t expect her to review it. But she did, she did. 🙂

Forgive me for posting Diana’s review in full, but Vokhtah is my firstborn, and I still think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.


D.W.Peach – 4/5 stars


This is a hard book to describe. “Pure Alien” is a good start, and I’m impressed by the author’s ambition and execution. Vokhtah is an alien planet and the characters are insect-like (my impression) creatures who engage in their own sort of political intrigue, espionage, and social caste system. They’re clever, dastardly, selfless, and selfish – much like humans – but there the similarities end.


The world-building is rather amazing and humans won’t find much that’s familiar here. Even the speech is different. The iVokh and Vokh are genderless “its” and don’t have names, referred to by their role in society, their ranking, and their talents. Social norms are dictated by groups and reinforce variations in dominance and subservience. It takes about a third of the book to get used to.


The story unfolds from multiple points of view, all alien. Flory doesn’t pamper the reader with backstory or explanation, but tosses us right into the strange world – sink or swim. The experience is immersive, but it requires patience to figure out who these aliens are and what the heck they’re doing. I enjoyed the story-telling, the fascinating world, the author’s imagination and writing skills. The pace was excellent and kept my interest.


I did spend a fair amount of the book confused about the characters, though. This is primarily, I think, because they don’t have names and, in many cases, go by multiple designations. For example, there are a number of Sixths and Sevenths. A Blue is also a Messenger who is also a Healer. A Teller is also a Trader, and is sometimes an Apprentice, so sometimes they’re the same character, sometimes not. There are a lot of identically designated characters as each location/eyrie in the story has the same basic social structure, and the book involves travel. I struggled to keep them straight until about 50% through when the plot began to narrow down the action and further define the characters’ personalities and motivations.


But then, I struggled to keep Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon straight. That one I gave up on; this one I didn’t. And it was worth it. By the end, I was ready for the next book in the series. I highly recommend Vokhtah to readers who love pure alien sci-fi, love a reading challenge, and want to engage with the work of a wonderfully creative imagination.

For those not familiar with ‘Gardens of the Moon‘, the book is the first volume in Steven Erikson’s mammoth Malazan Book of the Fallen series. It has an eye watering 1,221 ratings and an overall ranking of 4/5 stars.

To have something I’ve written even mentioned in the same sentence as ‘Gardens of the Moon’ makes my heart swell to epic proportions. But to have Diana say that she didn’t give up on Vokhtah when she did give up on Erikson’s first book…gods, I think my heart is going to burst!

To Diana, and every one of the amazing readers who read Vokhtah, and left a review, thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

Meeks


Uploaded to Vimeo!

‘Take that, Google!’

I did start the account creation process with Google [so I could upload my videos to Youtube], but when I was asked to verify both my email address and my phone, I started to get goosebumps, and not in a good way. This is a small part of Google’s privacy [sic] statement:

It was about this point that my survival instincts kicked in again and I aborted the process, or at least I tried to. I very much fear that my phone number is forever in Google’s possession. Given that it’s an Android phone I’m very glad I have GPS turned off. 😦

Anyway, with Youtube no longer an option, I went looking for alternatives and discovered that WordPress.com allows Vimeo videos! Yay and double yay. 🙂

So here is my rather ambitious Plotagon video entitled ‘Prepare for Induction’:

Go on, you can laugh. I won’t mind. 😀

cheers

Meeks


Playing with Plotagon

Plotagon is a program that allows you to create cartoony animations by using stock ’emotes’. In gaming, these would probably be called ‘run cycles’, except for facial expressions.

Basically, what you do is you add a sequence of these run cycles to a ‘scene’. When you play the scene, the run cycles merge together to create a short animation.

WordPress will only allow me to upload a Plotagon video [mp4 format] if I subscribe, so, here’s a gif that I can upload for free. 🙂

I had to split Innerscape to ‘inner’ and ‘scape’ so the computerised ‘voice’ could say it without mangling the unfamiliar word. And yes, in the video, Miira is talking out loud!

Plotagon provides voices to speak the dialogue, or you can use your own voice. As I don’t have a mic., I’m making do, at least for now. The app. also provides a ton of sound effects and free music, so you can imagine how much fun I had choosing those. 😀

If you want to have a play yourself, go to:

https://www.plotagon.com/

You can download a free, trial version for 7 days. That’s what I was playing with last night. It’s a good way of testing out whether the app. is for you or not, but there’s a whopping big watermark right across the screen that is rather annoying. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to subscribe for a month [cost US $13].

I’m calling this a marketing investment as everything I produce can be saved to either mp4 or gif format, or both. That means whatever I create remains ‘mine’ if I decide to unsubscribe at the end of the month.

If I manage to produce something genuinely worthwhile, I may sign up with Youtube again so I can upload the videos I produce. For some odd reason, WP allows me to place Youtube videos in my posts but not home made ones.

Unfortunately, Youtube is now owned by Google so I can’t create an account without signing up for Google as well.

I’m very ambivalent about Google for security and privacy reasons, but as the blind man said, ‘we shall see’. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


loss (of everything) and sleep — Frank Prem Poetry

Frank Prem gives voice to the common man, the one so often forgotten after great tragedies disappear from the news cycle. This is a poem about what comes after the fire.

he said

 

well

I thought

I had enough

insurance

 

I’d covered the place

for more

than the cost

and I thought

for sure

that would be enough

 

but

it seems as though

it is never

quite as much

as you first thought

 

and

it seems as though

the costs

are always

more

 

the bank claimed

first

to get money back

for the mortgage

 

then

well

they change re-building rules

you know

 

just

to make things better […]

loss (of everything) and sleep — Frank Prem Poetry

The car of the future

My thanks to SV3DPRINTER for posting about this amazing 3D printed innovation!

I’ve had a love affair with 3D printing since I watched a video of the first, primitive 3D printer create a toy, layer by tiny layer. Designing, prototyping and manufacturing cars using 3D printing is an order of magnitude more complicated than anything we could have imagined back then, but the technology is almost here. It’s almost a reality.

But what will happen once this technology becomes commonplace? Once it becomes as mainstream as the microwave oven? These are the kinds of questions that trigger wild flights of fancy in this thick noggin of mine.

I suspect that sometime soon, 3D printing will invade the home, becoming the must-have tool for everything. Or perhaps there will be a number of specialised 3D printers – one for food, one for clothing, and yes, one for personal transport. 🙂

In tandem with the spread of 3D printing, I can see shops becoming obsolete; retail is already dying thanks to e-commerce. The bricks and mortar shops that remain will be antiquated curiosities selling hand-made articles that people buy for their uniqueness, not necessarily because they’re ‘better’ than what they can buy at home. And yes, real shopping will occur at home. We’ll browse for ‘patterns’ and download them straight to our in-home 3D printers [which will be called something else by then]. Those printers will then print off a copy of the object for us to use.

Given how e-books and e-music already works, we won’t own these 3D patterns; we’ll merely lease them for a limited time, or a limited number of reproductions. Once the limit is reached, the pattern will disappear.

The only thing I can’t work out is how the poor will buy ‘stuff’. If they can’t afford the printers and/or the patterns, will they be forced to buy second hand items printed off by the rich?

If this future is as wasteful as the present, the second hand business could really boom. Or perhaps the darknet of 2020 will become a digital black market selling stolen 3D patterns, amongst everything else…

Not sure I want to live in this future I’m imagining, but I’d definitely love to visit. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


The Irishman special FX

I haven’t seen The Irishman, but the video detailing how it was made has me absolutely enthralled. Watch, and see for yourself:

Cool tech, right? But it’s not just the tech that has me jiggling up and down in my chair. It’s the fact that another piece of Innerscape is becoming a reality! -dance-

If you read book 1 of the Innerscape trilogy, you may remember the scene, early in the story, in which Miira finally gets to see the ‘avatar’ she will use once she has been inducted into Innerscape. That avatar is based on her 29 year old self. In other words, her avatar has to be ‘de-aged’.

To make the story work, the Innerscape AI had to be sophisticated enough to create avatars so real looking that none of the Residents can tell the difference. That was one of the key pieces of tech in the story, and now I know that it’s possible, actually possible.

I cannot tell you how good that feels.

cheers

Meeks


Some tech for 2020

In between watching the bushfire catastrophe unfold in real time, fire proofing my own block as much as possible, and translating one of my how-to books into blog posts, I don’t have the energy for anything creative so…

Here’s a future focused video clip that looks at ten of the most interesting tech breakthroughs likely to become mainstream in the near future:

If you’re in the cold, stay warm. If you’re suffering from the heat and smoke and ash…stay safe.

cheers

Meeks


Drones instead of fireworks!

In a recent post, I raged about Sydney staging New Year’s Eve fireworks when so much of Australia is burning. This is a fantastic alternative for New Year’s Eve 2020 and beyond:

My thanks to Carol Cooks 2 for bringing this amazing video clip/technology to my attention.

cheers

Meeks


Windows

Eyes may be the windows to the soul, but windows are the weakest link in our homes. Because they’re fragile. Because they break.

It seems like such an obvious thing now, but I remember how shocked I was when an expert pointed out that the inside of our homes is the driest place on earth. Once a window breaks, even one ember is enough to burn the house down from the inside out.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Yet how many of us have adequate protection for our windows?

When I built my house in Warrandyte, I had to put metal mesh screens over all the windows that could be opened. But my house has double barrel windows where the top pane opens but the bottom pane is fixed. The top pane is protected by the required metal screen [basically an ordinary fly wire screen but made of metal]. The bottom pane is not.

Now, imagine a bushfire scenario. The wind is howling, and the gums are dropping branches large and small. One of those branches is blown towards the house and slams into one of my windows. The top pane may remain intact, but what of the bottom pane?

Yes. Exactly.

I solved my window problem by investing in fire resistant shutters. These shutters cover the entire window area, top pane, bottom pane and the wooden frame. They look like this:

The shutters roll up and down inside the frame [like vertical sliding doors] and are rated to protect the windows for about 20 minutes. That’s the length of time it usually takes the fire front to pass.

The regulations have been tightened up a lot since Black Saturday, and I believe that new houses in fire prone areas must have toughened glass instead of ordinary glass. But what of existing houses? As far as I know, there are no regulations about retrofitting toughened glass to houses built before 2009.

Does that mean there is no danger to those houses? Of course not.

If you live in a bushfire prone area, please think hard about your windows, and what you can do to protect them.

Stay safe.

Meeks


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