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Category Archives: Randomness

July 2016

CNW_Winner_1500-1

I get the distinct feeling I’ve done this before.

Well, July is just about done. The main thrust of the month for me has been Camp NaNoWriMo, in which I wrote 40,000 words—an amount which I’m quite pleased with, as it’s all gone into the second draft of The Teller’s Apprentice, my current writing project.

There was about a week in which I wrote nothing because I was sick. As a result I got to today and had to write 5343 words before tonight, as I don’t write on Sundays and tomorrow is the last day of the month. 5.3K is more than my usual cup of tea, but I managed it.

And with things apart from writing—this month I went on an adventure. With two of my brothers and a couple of friends I went on the buses through the city to visit a kid’s camp my older brother was helping to run. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like that, and despite a few planning deficiencies, I quite enjoyed the day.

Otherwise, life has been fairly normal. I’ve reread a few books, kept up to date with blogs and forums. Baby sister Rebekah is growing well. She’s had the same nasty cold I did, but she’s more or less over it by now, which is a relief. The younger kids have been excited today because another sister got the Lego set she’s been waiting for for months—very patiently too, I might add. All in all, life.

Wherever you are, whoever you are, I pray you’re doing well.

Matthew

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2016 in Randomness

 

Distraction Free Headset: A How-To

Recently I’ve discovered a new way to write without distractions. No, it’s not shifting my office. No, it’s not teleporting the family to a desert island while I’m writing. No, it’s not creating a magical silence shield around my head so I can’t hear anything.

Well, maybe it’s a bit like that last one.

The Distraction Free Headset is a customised sound dampener for your ears. It’s simple to make and easy to wear, and the components are very common. Sharing this secret might ruin my chances of making a fortune out of it, but here goes. Drumroll, please? The components are…

(dun dun DUN)

One beanie. Two socks.

And now instructions for setting up the Distraction Free Headset. Put the beanie on your head and pull it down as far as it will go. Fold up the front edge only to make your view better. Now take the socks. Small socks work better than larger ones. Please note that these socks do not have to be a pair, but having socks the same size is more comfortable.

Lay the socks flat. Fold them halfway, then halfway again. Lift up the side of the beanie and stuff the folded socks into your ears. If an edge of the sock goes into your ear, the muffling works better.

Congratulations! You now have a customised sound dampener to free you of distractions. Please write to me and tell me how well the Distraction Free Headset works for you. I plan to monetise this product, and the more feedback I get the better.

Matthew

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2016 in Randomness

 

Recent Times: NaNoWriMo

Last month I participated in NaNoWriMo. For those of you who read my blog as it is and not with an RSS filter, I’m sure you’ve noticed the NaNo progress widget in the sidebar. I wrote 31301 words in November and ended the month with a resounding success.

2015-participant

Success? It depends on your definition of the word. I also failed drastically.

The official aim of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in a month. The base level of success is about achieving NaNoWriMo by writing 50K. I didn’t. I wrote just over 30K and ended with a deficiency of 20K. In that regard, I failed, fair and square.

However…my aim in doing NaNoWriMo was to boost my word count on The Teller’s Apprentice. That’s where I succeeded. I began NaNo with 67,240 words and ended with 88,561 words, a total increase of 21,321. (You may be asking yourself where the other 10K came from. I wrote a few scenes which I then decided didn’t work. I also wrote an essay for my schoolwork.) Yes, I would have liked to complete NaNo and write 50K words—and I could have.

The reason I didn’t was because I had more important things to finish.

This month, I applied for a job. I completed my study with Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu: The Correspondence School. I achieved NCEA Level 2 and the literacy requirements for University Entrance.

Ultimately it all comes down to priorities. NaNoWriMo does not happen against a blank background, no matter how much NaNoToons implies that idea. I’ve had other things to do this month that I prioritised over NaNoWriMo—constructing a CV and cover letter, researching and writing my essay for Te Kura, planning for next year. I’m happy with what I achieved in The Teller’s Apprentice this month, so failing the official aim of NaNo is not a big loss to me.

I would have liked to finish NaNoWriMo. If I’d reshuffled my priorities, I could have written 50K. But I’m satisfied with 30K, and I’m also satisfied with the other work I got done in November.

Matthew

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2015 in Randomness

 

That igloo I mentioned…

I went outside today and took photos of the igloo per reader request. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture a picture of the igloo in all its glory—it’s had a few holes melted in it by now. But what you’ll see should be sufficient to show you what it would have looked like once.

In its creation, I stuck a largish snowball on top of the igloo and shaped it to look like a head, adding rocks for evil-looking eyes and such, but that was knocked off a while ago. One of my brothers suggested that I should have put the eyes above the igloo entrance so that the entrance looked like a mouth. We also considered sticking icicles in the entrance for teeth, but we never got around to that idea.

Without further ado, I present that igloo I mentioned.

The igloo while under construction.

The igloo while under construction. I’m shaping the head.

igloo-1

The roof is the part where most of the melt has occurred. Just imagine it smooth and unbroken.

igloo-2

This is the view from looking up from the base at the igloo’s ceiling.

That’s the igloo I mentioned. I expect it to last the longest out of all of the snow constructs still remaining in our section—there are a few broken snowmen, a snow fort, and this igloo. I think the igloo will last the longest.

Have you ever built an igloo?

Matthew

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2015 in Randomness

 

Wordstrings

Words have intrigued me for as long as I can remember. As a proofreader—and even before I proofread my first paper—I look at how words are constructed. That’s the reason I can spell and pronounce the words I can. And something I’ve noticed is that many words could potentially bleed into one another—which is the heart of wordstrings. Wordstrings are something I invented months ago, and I don’t remember my first one, but I wrote it in my mind as my family and I were driving home from…I guess it was from a Saturday in the city to buy groceries and restock, but I don’t remember exactly. Wordstrings are a long line of words with the last few letters of the first becoming the first few letters of the next. Let’s take a look at one of the wordstrings I created recently:

Tablethalassickleptomaniacidentityphoonerousingerbiliousteddystopianoleg

At first glance, you might think this wordstring starts, “Table, thalassic, kleptomania…”—but it doesn’t. There are five words just there. Table, lethal, thalassic, sickle, and kleptomaniaLethal and sickle were just hidden inside the other two. This full word string is composed of these words: Table, lethal, thalassic, sickle, kleptomania, maniac, acid, identity, typhoon, onerous, rousing, singer, gerbil, bilious, ousted, teddy, dystopian, piano, anole, leg Acid, gerbil, ousted, and anole would also have been invisible at a quick look. Here’s a few more wordstrings.

Orphantasmorgasborderogatoryeomandrakeyearnestableacheddarknessenceasegregatease

Orphan, phantasm, smorgasbord, border, derogatory, rye, yeoman, mandrake, key, eye, yearn, earnest, stable, bleached, cheddar, darkness, essence, cease, segregate, tease

Interestingerminatechnicistaplebiannualkalinenchanteloperationiseafoodiousurperchance

Interest, sting, germinate, technicist, staple, plebian, biannual, alkaline, linen, enchant, antelope, operation, ionise, seafood, odious, usurper, perchance The best wordstrings, in my opinion, are those that hide words. This next one has 24 words. See if you can find them all. (I’ll keep the answers safe and see who can find them all. Just have a look at dystopian in my first wordstring—stop could potentially be hidden inside that word, but since it’s bordered by other letters on both sides, it doesn’t count.)

Vertexturedeemediumbraggarterriblesseditionionicheatingleefulfilledgeradicationlinearwigwam

And if you’d like to create your own wordstrings, here are a few starter words. You have to use at least two letters in your second word.

  • Blunted
  • Raider
  • Medic
  • Submersible
  • Traverse
  • Ballet

Yes, this is an odd post. Bear with me and my weird interests. Although I probably shouldn’t be apologising for this. I’ll attribute this post to Owliburd. Or Malcant Darkdeath.

Matthew

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2015 in Randomness

 

Don Quixote

Last week, my grandmother and I went to the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s rendition of Don Quixote (don kee-ho-tay). I enjoyed the entire outing, including staying the night at my grandmother’s. Since watching the ballet, I’ve been thinking about what in particular I liked about it and what I thought could have been improved.

First and foremost, I was amazed at how the dancers could move. I began ballet this term, so I know that ballet takes great strength and control—yet the ballet dancers moved as if every movement was effortless. They could leap and bend far higher and farther than what I would have expected possible. Yet in all these magnificent movements, you never heard more than the swish of their shoes on the stage. They could land without making a sound. Amazing. If anything, their ability doubled my love of ballet. I’d like to do that someday.

The acting itself was excellent. Every one of the main characters had their own personality. Don Quixote is an eccentric old man, loyal to his books and easily distracted. Sancho is a clumsy, accident-prone geek with glasses; Kitri and Basilio are two young lovers; Lorenzo, Kitri’s father, is a hot-tempered, pompous fellow who is alternately jumping around in rage, screaming at his waiters and flapping his hands, or acting as a fawning sycophant to Gamache. Gamache himself is an rich, uninterested nobleman being dragged around by a fluffy white dog on a leash. Each character presents their personalities excellently throughout their involvement in the dance, which really lends itself to understanding the story.

The scenery was done very well. Every scene gave the impression of being real life. Besides the background and stage props, there were quite a few background characters, who were moving realistically, acting as if talking among themselves—but only as part of the background, unobtrusive to the main story. The special effects were also excellent for a live play. In the second act, mist fills the dark stage and a cloaked monster twice the height of Don Quixote enters, one ominous arm outstretched, rumbling as if growling at that small human. These are just a few examples of the excellent acting and presentation.

Story-wise, however, the dance was lacking severely. Although publicised as a ballet of Don Quixote, the dance was only about Don Quixote in the first scene of the first act. The ballet begins with the Don climbing out of bed, finding a book among his clogged bookshelves, and climbing back into bed to read it. Later, Sancho arrives, and the Don tells him the stories contained in the book, being carried away at times. He even puts on a helmet and breastplate and picks up a sword at one point. This was probably the most accurate part and only accurate part in the entire ballet. After that, Don Quixote never wears his armour or carries his sword again, and the story becomes a tale of two young lovers, Basilio and Kitri. Kitri’s father Lorenzo is opposed to the suit because Basilio is poor. The rich nobleman Gamache, who is supposed to be the person Lorenzo wants Kitri to marry, seems completely uninterested in her. After a prolonged flirting session, Don Quixote finally enters the scene, but this introduction is nothing more than another obstacle to Basilio and Kitri. Soon after this, Basilio and Kitri run away together, ending the first act.

The entire second act switches back to the Don and seems completely out of place. While searching for Kitri and Basilio, the Don is beaten and knocked unconscious by a group of gypsies after they find his money. In a dream, he sees first a monster representing a windmill and then Cupid and a group of dancing fairies. He attempts to show the fairies and Cupid his book of the tales of the knights, but none of them are interested. To end the act, Cupid shoots the Don with one of his arrows. Nothing comes of any of this. The Don’s dream has no effect on Basilio and Kitri; the Don never falls in love as a result of having been shot by Cupid; and the Don never finds another audience who listens to his book, which is what he seems to want all along. (The gypsies had listened to him earlier, but all they really wanted was for Don Quixote and Sancho to be distracted so they could steal the money in Sancho’s satchel.) In the third act, the climax lacked a climax. Two bumbling policemen drag off the drunken villains, neither of whom can do anything more than struggle helplessly, while Don Quixote presents a bag of money to Basilio. Now that Basilio has money, Lorenzo has no further objections. If a bag of money is all it takes, why didn’t the Don give Basilio the money earlier and solve all these problems? Ultimately, this rendition of the story of Don Quixote is nothing more than a great deal of needless fluff, endless flirting, and unresolved subplots.

Despite the flaws in the story, the ballet was worth it. I mean, I didn’t go for the story. I went to see the movement, the grace, the control; I went to be amazed, to be inspired. I loved the movement; I thought the story could have been significantly improved. But for all this, I would have gone again.

Matthew

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2015 in Randomness

 

The Emperor of Aderland

Lord Malcant Darkdeath, emperor of all Aderland, is a truly terrifying villain, draped in black with his glowing red eyes glaring under his hood. His evil laughter strikes terror into the hearts of his enemies, and the ebony raven that sits on his shoulder does the job when its master is silent. Flanked by a million imbecilic orc minions, Lord Darkdeath is well capable of protecting his gigantic empire against his former mentor Theogwynne and his own son Reene Silverblade, both of whom have rebelled against his rule of pure, insane evil. When faced by incompetence or opposition, Lord Darkdeath’s favourite hobbies are killing cringing minions and shocking his enemies by revealing his murderous goals and revenge-inspired motivations.

Matthew

(P.S. If you’re a writer, read this.)

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2015 in Randomness

 

An Update on Life

Life here has been busy. Not quite the going-out busy, but the busyness that comes with schoolwork and a few extracurricular activities.

That’s not an excuse for why I haven’t been posting, by the way. It’s merely an introduction.

Since the most exciting things have been fairly random, I’m going to stick them in a list and let you read them in random order.

  • Yesterday, I was practicing my driving when two of my brothers were having music lessons. I’d been learning to check crossroads and train tracks for approaching vehicles so I could stop if they decided to abandon the road rules and drive straight through. A second before I reached some train tracks, the warning bells blared and the lights flashed on. I revved the engine and blasted off the tracks just in time to miss the thundering train, which had been hiding behind a tall hedge. Shook me up for a while. (Okay, the near miss is a bit exaggerated. It wasn’t that close.)
  • As you can likely see in my sidebar, I passed 10,000 words in my OYAN novel. I’m still on the second chapter with quite a bit to go, so it looks like this book is going to be a long one. I’m building up to a skirmish between my good guys and bad guys, and a larger skirmish—well, not a skirmish—will occur in Chapter 3.
  • I also plotted out the main conflict of each book in my OYAN novel series. The two titles for the series I’m currently balancing are The War of Tellers and War of the Teller. Not sure which one I’ll be using yet. I think Book 3, Crowns of the Eldir, is the most emotionally damaging of all five because of the unexpected resolution, one even I didn’t expect, and the emotional consequences carry on into Books 4 and 5. I hope my readers cry, to be true. If I can make my readers laugh, cry, smile or gasp, I’ve achieved one of my goals in why I write.
  • This week, my grandmother and I are planning on going to watch a ballet on Don Quixote. (When I heard that name pronounced for the first time, I thought it was Donkey-Oaty. That’s how it’s pronounced. I always thought it was pronounced like Don Quicks-oat.) I’ve been doing ballet for the past few weeks, and my ballet teacher told me and my grandmother about it last lesson. I’m excited, not only for the ballet itself, but also that I get to stay the night at my grandmother’s house.
  • The song The Last Goodbye, which is the one at the end of The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, has decided to implant itself in my brain. I can sing the whole thing without words or music now. My favourite line is from the first verse: “As the snowflakes cover my fallen brothers…” I wonder what my brothers think of that.
  • I cannot think of anything else to go in this random list aside from updates on my writing. Besides writing my OYAN novel and plotting out the series, I’ve also been brainstorming for the overall story of the entire world of Valdegurd. This particular world is characterised by trilogies and pentalogies, and I’ve currently got five trilogies and three pentalogies listed. Yeah, I’m an optimist.

Highlights of my life over a fortnight, one week in each direction. If you’d like to share something of your own life, go ahead. I’d love to read what you’re up to.

Matthew

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2015 in Randomness

 

Fire in the Grey Skies

Today's hot air balloon.

Today’s hot air balloon.

One of the events that always causes a stir in this family is the appearance of hot air balloons.

Imagine this scenario. Contented play defines the household. (I can’t say peace, because that’s not always accurate.) All the younger children are up, a few of the older teenagers too; several teenagers remain in bed, sneaking a few more moments of the typical teenager’s favourite activity.

Then—

—someone yells, “Hot air balloon!”

Cue a mad, excited rush to the windows, to the front door—kids piling over one another to see and exclaim over the hot air balloon.

That’s typical here. When there’s a hot air balloon, at least.

Early today, I opened the window next to my desk to allow the cool breezes entrance. My chair doesn’t face the window, so I saw nothing. Until I heard a very familiar roar…

Fire in the grey skies.

The hot air balloon was close. Very close. Apparently it had already drifted over the house without the little kids spotting it. (Maybe its vector hid it behind the house. I don’t know.) But yes, the above scenario occurred. This time, the younger children even went to the extreme of heading outside into the cold to talk to the balloonists, who were actually in speaking range. The predominant theme of their conversation can be summed up in two phrases: “Hello!” and “Can you please land in our section?”

No, the balloon did not land in our section. I think it would be the highlight of the year for those little kids if one did.

What sort of occurrence causes a stir among your family members?

Matthew

(P.S. The roar, and the fire in the grey skies, is from the balloonists launching a spurt of flame into the balloon to give it more hot air and thereby more lift. Just if you’re not familiar with hot air balloons. :P )

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Friends and Family, Randomness

 

Yubê

This month, I have come into temporary possession of a Fitbit Flex. This wristband device acts as a step counter, and with its current settings I am meant to walk 10,000 steps per day.

Being…well, a sedate sort of person who likes working at the computer, I don’t walk 10,000 steps on a normal day. To remedy this, I started walking around our section multiple times every day to achieve my goal. Twice I’ve counted how many steps it takes to walk my usual path—488. This means I would have to walk around the section 21 times to reach 10,000 steps.

While walking this path, I’ve discovered a host of tiny details I would never have discovered had I not left my computer. For example, the brown leaves on the driveway only rustle softly when they’re wet; that a lizard lives in the tall yellow grass bordering the section’s eastern bank of trees, and maybe another on a hill covered in tall grass to the northwest; and that one particular young hedgehog has decided to become diurnal.

Yubê, I named him.

yubë

This is Yubê. You pronounce that YOU-bee.

That was the one photo I got of him before he turned tail and made for the pile of sticks and leaves in the upper left corner. Since discovering his existence a few days ago, I’ve encountered him nearly every day. He has a bad habit of planting himself just outside our front door. I nearly stood on him once. (Yes, I was wearing footwear.)

Another bad habit of his (although I’ve only encountered it once) is his apparent liking for the hen run. Apparently he was found there yesterday. (Oh yes, and I’ve taken up a new quirk. It’s lecturing a young hedgehog out loud while I make my circuit of the section.)

I named him Yubê on impulse. The pronunciation of the name came first. I was originally going to call him “Yuar”, but then “Yubê” came to mind, and I prefer that pronunciation.

Yubê’s cute. I like him, and I like his manner of walking—trundling or waddling, I’d call it. I may not like his bad habits, but I like Yubê, at least. I’ve taken to calling him my wild pet. I look for him every day. Well, I don’t really look for him. I listen for him and prepare to look if I hear an anomalous crackling. That’s also how I found the lizard. Especially now, when the grass is dry and crackly (or at least was, before today’s rain shower), it’s not hard to listen without looking, nor is it hard to pick out a crackling that was obviously done by SOMEONE.

As with any other current thing, Yubê has inspired a story. It’s about a young hedgehog named Yubê who enters the world of Diurnia, leaving behind his homeworld of Nocturne. Yes, those two worlds are nothing more than day and night, but I think it would be interesting to see day and night from a hedgehog’s perspective—especially diurnal little Yubê’s fictional perspective.

Are there any wild pets in your property?

Matthew

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2015 in Photography, Randomness