More importantly…stay well!
Dr John Campbell goes through the latest scientific data about the effect Omicron is having in South Africa:
There is too much information to reduce it to a few dot points so I strongly recommend that you watch the whole video.
For newcomers to my blog, I live on 1.6 acres in Warrandyte, a hilly, tree-covered, fringe suburb of Melbourne [Australia]. It’s a glorious place to live, in winter. Over summer, not so much. Eucalyptus trees burn, and we have an awful lot of them.
The potential fire danger in Warrandyte has been a recurring theme almost from the moment I first started this blog. In fact, one of the very first posts I ever wrote is called ‘2012 – practical tips to protect life and property from bushfires‘. This year’s post is going to be a visual treatise on why mowing is vital to reduce fire danger.
I’ll start with the area directly behind the house. It faces northish, pretty much on the top of a hill, and is the most likely direction for a bushfire. I have a roughly 15 metre space between the house and the trees:
This is how every inch of my block should look. Now for the reality check:
This shot is of the next terrace down. You can see exactly where the mowing stopped.
Some of you may recognize this area from the blog banner, or the cover of Miira. In the foreground is a gently sloping terrace held back by large field stones. The next terrace down is half mowed, and again, you can see the dividing line between mowed and not mowed.
In this screenshot you can see the same area from the side:
The unmowed grass is so tall, it makes the slope on the left of the pic look ‘flat’. It’s not. About a metre further down the terrace drops to another level.
So why is the mowing taking so long? And why am I soooo exhausted? Well, I’m mowing every inch of this block with an Ozito battery driven lawn mower:
I LOVE my Ozito. This little mower is not supposed to mow blocks like mine. It’s supposed to be a lightweight solution for little old ladies mowing pocket handkerchief lawns. You know what I mean, the pretty ones that have real grass instead of field grasses and weeds. And yet, this amazing little mower is getting through grass that’s almost knee high.
In my own defence, I have to say that I started mowing as soon as I finished burning off the piles of dead wood that had accumulated over winter. Unfortunately, I’d barely done half of the front of the block when we had a massive storm that dropped some very big branches and a shitload of smaller ones. I paid to have the big ones cut up and carted away, but I had to deal with the little ones myself. [Little as in under 2 metres long].
As a result of that storm, mowing had to stop while I walked up and down 1.6 acres picking up dead wood, putting it into piles – roughly 8 – and burning it all off again.
But it’s Spring, right? So while I was busy doing other things, the grass was busy growing. So here we are, Ozi and me, desperately trying to catch up because once that grass dries out, it will be like kindling to any fire that decides to come through.
Warrandyte is a wonderful place to live, but enjoying the ‘serenity’ is not enough. We have to maintain our properties so that they will be less likely to burn when the inevitable happens. And on that note I’d better grab the batteries and get out there.
I just submitted a review of ‘Right to Kill’ on amazon.com. Simply put, I loved it. Read on for the full review:
I’ve been a fan of John Barlow since first reading ‘Hope Road’ quite a few years ago. So when I was asked to write a review of his latest story, I knew it would be good, I just never expected it to be /this/ good.
Like all three books in the Hope Road series, the characters in ‘Right to Kill’ all feel as if you’ve known them, or people like them, for ages. Some you would never include on your Christmas list, but others feel so real you want to hug them, laugh with them, cry with them.
The main character, Detective Sergeant Joe Romano feels utterly real too. He’s smart and principled, a /good/ man, but he’s also a little bit broken and a little bit lost. The pillars of his life have shifted and he’s treading water, going through the motions in the hope that he’ll rediscover some meaning to life.
When Craig Shaw is found burnt to a crisp in his Mum’s old Corolla, it’s Joe Romano’s colleagues in the Leeds police force who seem to be going through the motions. Why? Because Craig Shaw is a drug dealer and general low life, and the world is probably better off without him.
But does anyone really deserve to die?
As far as Joe Romano is concerned, the answer is no and he sets out to prove it.
How Joe proves it will keep you reading long past the point when you know you should turn out the light and go to sleep. I know it had that effect on me, and I can honestly say I did not see the ending coming. And yet, Barlow told this story so well that there was a huge sense of ‘oh, of course!’ once the identity of the killer is revealed.
That fulfilling sense of resolution is why I call this story the perfect thriller. We learn as Joe learns, clue by clue. We may not be as smart as Joe in putting the pieces of the jigsaw together, but once he does, we know it’s right. It could be no other way.
Telling enough but not telling too much is a tightrope without a safety net. Walking that tightrope is damn hard, but John Barlow makes it seem effortless.
This is a story I would recommend to anyone. I wish I could give it a 6 out of 5.
The link to ‘Right to Kill’ on amazon.com is below:
Have a great weekend everyone!
The Offspring and I went OUT today. Armed with masks and 1/2 a litre of hand sanitiser, we spent four hours visiting two local plant nurseries and indulging our love green stuff.
Now, we’re pooped. lol And my feet hurt! I’d forgotten what it was like to walk around for pleasure. Not complaining though. This has been the best Mother’s Day in a lot of years.
I hope you have a wonderful day as well.
If you are not in one of these Amazon marketplaces, you can find the Omnibus by going to the Amazon search box and typing:
Innerscape Omnibus acflory
While you’re there, perhaps you could check out some of the wonderful books written by Sue Vincent: https://www.amazon.com/Sue-Vincent/e/B00F2L730W?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1617227018&sr=8-1
The Omnibus is free on Amazon now, and I’ve provided some of the major links to the various Amazon market places below. As with the first five books, the Omnibus will be free for 5 days [ending April 3, 2021].
I left the Omnibus until last because I intend to unpublish it on April 14, 2021 which is two days after I first published it on April 12, 2020 – an almost-anniversary. I know we’re not in the clear from Covid yet, but at least there’s light at the end of the tunnel, so I feel it’s a good time to retire this particular version. I may drag it out of mothballs for the odd special occasion, but for now it will enjoy a well earned rest. 😀
I would love everyone to grab a copy of the Omnibus while it’s free. I’d also urge anyone who hasn’t grabbed a copy of the other books to do so now, while they’re still 99c. On April 3, they will all return to their normal pricing.
I’ve tried not to check the Amazon reports too often so I’ve been gobsmacked by how many people have downloaded the books. I’ve also been incredibly heartened by the wonderful reviews they’ve all received. That was a very pleasant surprise as I’d only been hoping for a couple of reviews for Miira and Vokhtah. Thank you, all of you. -hugs-
First and foremost, Miira is now free on Amazon for five days from January 19 to January 23, 2021! You should be able to find Miira on your local Amazon. For those in the US, the link to Amazon.com is below:
And in case you’re still wondering whether you should add yet another book to your bulging TBR list, here is my last ‘favourite bit’ from Miira. This scene is shorter than the previous one, but not by that much, so apologies again!
Before you read the excerpt, you will need a little bit of context about the ‘suit’. It isn’t a jacket, vest and pants! Gaming in 2101 involves the use of full body ‘suits’ that contain sensors which help create a biofeedback system for the wearer. For example, if the Gamer stubs his toe, he/she will feel the bump.
The Teslasuit, shown on the left, is almost available already, but by the start of the next century, the best quality suits will have so many sensors embedded in the material that the Gamer is fooled into thinking he/she is experiencing the real thing. The top of the range ‘suit’ is the RT69 by Real Touch.
The rat-tat-tat of someone knocking on the door woke Lennie from a nap, and he started awake, heart pounding. Wha’ th’ fuck?
Nobody ever visited him at home. He made sure of that by keeping the address of his flea bitten kennel a close secret.
Rolling off the mattress, he grabbed the small table next to his bed and hauled himself upright as he tried to shake off the alcoholic fog that still clouded his thoughts. The only person who knew where he lived was the local pizza guy, but he had not ordered pizza. At least, he could not remember ordering pizza…
Gotta lay off the sauce a bit, he thought as he shambled towards the door, one hand scratching his crotch, the other rubbing the stubble on his chin.
When was the last time he’d shaved?
Lennie could not remember, but was not overly concerned. Life had been a very pleasant blur since the money came through, and he was not about to look a gift horse in the arse-
Bang, bang, bang.
“Okay, okay!” he cried. “I’m coming!”
Alcoholic fog notwithstanding, Lennie retained enough sense to check the view port before unlocking the door.
A woman wearing the bright red uniform of a courier stood outside, one hand raised to knock again. She would have been quite attractive had the red of her hair not clashed so badly with the red of her uniform.
She should dye it, Lennie thought as his eye dropped down to the woman’s other hand. It was holding the handle of a bright yellow trolley. On the trolley was a very big package with Real Touch written on it in electric purple lettering.
My suit! Lennie thought in delight as he quickly unlocked the deadbolt and the two padlocks securing his door. It was a cheap neighbourhood. It paid to be cautious.
“Lennie Huffnagel?” the woman asked.
“Yup, that’s me.”
As Lennie bent to press his thumb into the tablet held out to him, a whiff of his own body odour made him wince. He would have to have a shower before he tried out the suit. Bugger.
“Where do you want it?” the woman asked.
“Um, just sort of in the middle,” Lennie said, suddenly very conscious of the piles of dirty dishes, and even dirtier clothing, that covered almost every available surface. “Hang on, I’ll clear a space.”
“It’s okay,” the woman said with a quick grin. “My brother’s room is just the same.”
Matching action to words, she set the trolley down in the middle of the room and began feeding the dirty dishes into the recycler.
Lennie gave her a quizzical look but did his part by throwing the dirty clothes into a pile by the wall. Soon, an empty rectangle of floor beckoned to be filled.
Spinning the trolley around with a quick flick of her wrists, the woman deposited the box in the middle of the newly cleared space and stood back to admire her handiwork.
“Got a cutter?” she asked.
“It’s okay,” Lennie said, suddenly a little uncomfortable. “I can manage.”
“Oh,” the woman said, her animated expression drooping into disappointment. “Sorry. It’s just…I’m a gamer too, ya know? I saw the label and I was kinda hoping I could get to see the RT69 for myself…”
“You play?” Lennie asked, unease forgotten. “Whadya play?”
“Mega Dome,” the woman said with a slight blush.
“Nice,” Lennie replied, working hard to keep a condescending smirk off his face.
Mega Dome was billed as a full contact martial arts game, but in reality it was just a fancy dating venue with a bit of slap slap thrown in to get people in the mood. He’d played it himself, before the agency picked him up and introduced him to real gaming. Still, the Ranga* knew enough to recognize a top of the range suit when she saw one.
Lennie gave the courier a quick but very professional appraisal as she stood in the middle of the room, clearly hoping to stay. She was not his type, far too fem with a small nose, small mouth and huge green eyes, but it would be fun to share the moment with someone who knew how awesome the suit really was.
“I’ll get the cutter,” he said.
The woman’s face lit up with pleasure, and Lennie suddenly felt quite warm towards her. If she played her cards right he might just give her a bit of slap slap himself.
My good deed for the day, he thought with a quiet chuckle as he ferreted around in the tiny food preparation area for the cutter.
When the woman finally left an hour later, Lennie lay on the mattress, his brand new suit fully connected and a look of terminal surprise on his face.
So why is this one of my favourite scenes? It’s because I’m fiercely protective of those I love, and I love Jaimie Watson, the only 18 year old Resident in Innerscape. Lennie Huffnagel betrayed Jaimie for money, so killing him off with his own ill gotten gains is poetic justice in my book. But I also love the colour red and characters with depth, so don’t expect the Woman in Red to be a simple anything. 🙂
A word of warning: I don’t write erotica or anything even approaching it, but I don’t pull any punches about ‘body functions’, so an earlier scene with Lennie may shock some people. Apologies in advance, but those scenes highlight the chasm that exists between the lives of the super rich, and those like Lennie who survive by exploiting them. Contrast is the key to everything.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing ‘Miira’ through my eyes. If you want to read the whole story, Miira, book 1 of Innerscape, is now free on Amazon until January 23, 2021.
All my science fiction books have now been reduced to 99c, and they’re now on Kindle Unlimited as well. As promised, I’ve also set up the free book schedule on Amazon. Starting January 19, 2021, Miira will be free for five consecutive days. The other five books are scheduled to be free as per the following table:
As you can see, the last book ends its free run on April the 3rd. I had to mess around with the dates a bit to make sure it didn’t finish on April Fool’s Day! -cough-
The 99c price point is so no one who wants a book misses out. If possible, though, please grab the book[s] during the free promotion. And it goes without saying that I would love reviews, any kind of reviews, even critical ones.
And finally an apology. I’ll be talking about these books a lot in the weeks ahead. I’ll try not to bore you silly, but there’s only so many ways of saying ‘read my book’. Bear with me!
This is an important video for everyone to watch as Dr John Campbell explains about the adverse reactions recorded for the Pfizer vaccine. He then goes through the first peer reviewed paper published for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
As Australia has aligned itself heavily with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, it’s very reassuring to know that it is both safe and efficacious! Just as a matter of interest, Australians won’t be getting any vaccines until some time in March, 2021. As we have the virus under control [knock on wood], we can afford to wait.
Feels great to get some good news on the virus front for a change. 🙂