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Sat Mar 29, 2014, 5:32 PM
How's everyone?

Wordspill returns

Wed Apr 3, 2013, 10:06 PM
Hey,

So I'm back to run Wordspill-Central for a bit. There were quite a few notes in the old Wordspill inbox asking for a return, so I felt like I should oblige them.

The return prompt is 'restart'. You know the drill, get spilling. (:

<3 y'all.

In Absentia Ad Infinitum

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 9:00 PM
Hey all,

It's been a while and there's a bit of news to share. I've managed to find myself gainful employment, finally. It's been a very long journey (almost a year to date) of being unemployed, and all the horrible depression that comes with it. Thankfully I've had friends to get me through it, though barely. In any case, I'm now working as an analytical scientist in a nice little lab (three SEMS, an XRD, and literally a tonne of particle counting/sizing equipment, if anyone's interested) with some great people. Just got through my first week and I'm feeling the love there; lots of banter and everyone's just as big a nerd as I am.

That hobby of mine, writing, went out the window when the depression set in. I've written maybe one story in the last 18 months, a pretty bad record, I think you'll agree. But it's slowly picking back up, now that I have a routine to stick to. At the moment I'm writing purely non-fiction, most recently a pretty fun series of podcasts talking about science (I'll give the links later if you want to check them out).

Unfortunately DeviantART doesn't really have the allure that it used to. I'm not sure what the reason is, but I just don't feel as connected to the literature scene here. It's probably my own fault: I haven't really had the motivation to participate in whatever events are happening, chats just kind of annoy me now, and I still really don't like Groups. Which is pretty much code for 'I'm a grumpy old man'. I dare say I'll check in from time to time, to see how you all are going, but dA is no longer a bullet in the magazine of ctrl+T quick fire I loose every morning. As always, if you want me to read anything send me a note; I'm always up for giving critique to those who really want it.

If you want to keep up with me, I'm going to list all my contact details here. I update my blog at least once a week (with my dulcet tones, no less) and I'm pretty much constantly on twitter. Anyway, now that I've said all this I'll probably end up coming back here more often, as is the way of things. (:

<3 P.

My podcast.
My blog.
My twitter.

In Absentia

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 10:00 PM
Hey guys,

As you may have noticed, I've been afk for a while. This is due entirely to the fact that I haven't been writing for the past two months. Like, at all. This is, in turn, due to me needing to do stuff like organising a job and finding a place to live and all that adult stuff. Blech.

To balance that I've been playing a few vidya games and reviewing them on my Youtube channel. You can check it out here. I'm also back up and running with The Toothsoup Prize, open to Australian short story writers until the 1st of December and featuring a $150+ prize. So spread the word of that around here if you like.

Otherwise, pretty much numb. How's you?

Grumble grumble, gripe gripe.

Wed Jul 25, 2012, 2:14 AM
EDIT: Just occurred to me that I'm probably no longer qualified to bring up these points given how little I've been around here lately, but it doesn't seem like anyone else is. Perhaps there's something in that, i.e. I should shut the hell up? ;P

Alright, three gripes that I want to discuss here today. As per usual, I should disclaim that I AM NOT VIOLENTLY dA BASHING. Read the following in a helpful tone and you'll get how I spoke it in my head as I wrote it. And I want to know your opinions! Am I overreacting? Is there no foundation of truth at all in my discussions? Am I being needlessly cynical or is there some grain of rationality present? Let me know in the comments, please. (:

Premium content



I got a few replies to my initial reaction to the premium content thingo. And there was one particular argument in favour of the Premium Content system that seems quite dangerously ignorant, i.e.

"It might earn some kids a few bucks/it's harmless/why condemn them for a capitalist spirit/who cares?"

I care. Mainly because I don't believe it's harmless. It's my belief that the current dA environment is no longer a suitable place for writers who are looking to improve to achieve that goal. I may sound like an old grandpa saying this, but I'm convinced it's true: the cumulative addition of social aspects to the dA platform have been to the detriment of its ability to educate*. Chat, Points/Llamas, Groups, sharing mechanisms, Forum reduction, and now Premium Content are all things that distract from the improvement of craft.

Now before you accuse me of being a curmudgeonly old fart who is just daydreaming about the Good Old Days, I should assure you: this is all fine. dA was never, ever about education. It's stated goal is to be the biggest online art community. And it most certainly is that, for sure. There's never been (AFAIK) any official, stated objective to improve people's art, only to share it, and build relationships between people. So I can't and don't blame dA for this tendency towards distraction. It's not its fault or responsibility or goal to improve its users. Which does happen: small groups of people, such as those that lurk the #CRLiterature channel, often give genuinely beneficial lessons/advice/critique. But for a new user--not necessarily a new writer, but a new user--dA would be a minefield of distractions with no clear way forward to begin learning.

Again, on its own line for emphasis, this is fine.

But to say that Premium Content is harmless is ignoring all that and saying writers--and especially the young writers that predominantly make use of this site--are not going to be influenced by that little 'Sell as Premium Content' checkbox on the Submit page. And I don't believe that's true. I think it's yet another thing that will contribute to the overall degradation of quality literature on this site. Maybe not by much: maybe it'll only be those who wouldn't have persisted with their craft anyway that will fall to the sidelines after not selling their Gabe Newell/Michael Bay slashfic by the thousands. But I think there will be an appreciable amount of folks who will be more concerned with sales figures than finding a particularly poignant or original metaphor.

Anyway, possibly I'm reading too much into this. I just know that had I come into dA right now rather than eight or so years ago, I would never have improved as much as I did. And that makes me feel kind of sad for those that won't get the opportunity to cut through the crap and get access to some of the most kind and talented writers on the 'net.

Community activities



Is there any chance of doing something regular other than Chat Tours for the community? I think they're a great idea, but I wouldn't know what they're like because I've never been able to attend one. I often wake up on a Saturday or Sunday to eleventy journals and umpteen polls asking me to join a chat that ended five hours prior. What happened to good old-fashioned regular competitions, or even prompts? Something chronologically untethered?

Sta.sh



And finally, in news that will surprise exactly no-one, sta.sh writer still really sucks the big one. I tried using it this afternoon to upload something and just gave up. Seriously dA higher-up people, can't we just have a kitchen-sink type editor on ordinary Literature deviations? Rather than having to learn how to code up CSS in order to get the background white, the other background white, then the heading different, linespacing sorted, etc. etc. et-fucking-cetera.

I repeat the same cry that thousands before me have: Bulletin Board-type forums have had this functionality for literally decades now. What the hell is so hard? Even the retention of copy/pasted italics into the text field would be a light year step forward.

A web-page content editor is not a word processor. Give us Wordpad in a web browser and trust me, we'll be effing ecstatic!

OKAY. I'm done. Congrats on getting this far if you did. Let the flaming and/or reasoned responses begin.

---

*I could even go so far as to say that these have been to the detriment of the literature community in general but I'll reign that particular horse in.

  • Listening to: c65
  • Reading: The Great Gatsby
  • Playing: Puzzle Agent
...if you would like to leave a message, please speak after the tone. When you are finished with your message, hang up or press the hash key.







...TONE.
  • Listening to: c65
  • Reading: The Great Gatsby
  • Playing: Puzzle Agent
Based on the results of my recent poll, I'll continue to be the woefully misspelled apocathary. Never let it be said that I'm not a man of the people. ;P And like I said to StJoan on le fb, it'll remind me that I can be a total fucking moron at times.

Still searching for jobs. Still failing at searching for jobs. Feeling rather out of control of my future, but there you go. I imagine there's an analogy to be drawn between university campus and prison here. A Stockholm syndrome of lifestyle, rather than captor. There's probably a name for it, but I honestly cannot be bothered wiki-ing it.
  • Listening to: c65
  • Reading: The Great Gatsby
  • Playing: Puzzle Agent
Hey all,

Okay, so I'm prefacing this with the admission that it's going to sound awfully selfish to start with, but bear with me. I'll reason it out. So here goes:

I am un-watching deviations for everyone in my watch list.

However:

Please comment on this journal if you would like me to read and comment on your pieces.

Pretty selfish, right? But the thing is, right now I'm basically ignoring my message centre because it grows to triple digits if I leave it for even 24 hours. So in order to ensure that I read at least someone every time I visit here, I want to make my message centre manageable again. And I'd like to prioritise those who are at the very least, bothered enough to comment on a journal. Of course, if you don't want to comment here now, you can always note me individual pieces and I will do my best to read them.

Oh, and I'll be retaining everyone's journals, because I like stalking you all.

Anyway, that's my reasoning. Sorry if it still seems selfish, but I figure it's the best way to get back into the habit so that, in time, I can actually handle the torrent of deviations all you amazing people put out.

:heart: p.

P.S. Ta to Tense for putting the idea in my head to do this.
  • Listening to: c65
  • Reading: The Great Gatsby
  • Playing: Puzzle Agent
Oh for heaven's sake.

I'm really sick of these threads that have users requesting people on the Internet give them ridiculous advice (e.g. 'How should my hero react?', 'What story should I write?', 'Which plot should my characters follow?', 'Can you write my entire story for me?' etc. etc.).


As I've apparently gotten myself into trouble engaging with these people before, I'm going to go ahead and temper myself by adopting the practise of posting a single ':leetcrab:' emoticon whenever this kind of thing comes up. That way people know exactly what I think and I don't have to go into the same arguments again and again.


Cool? Cool.


:leetcrab:
  • Listening to: c65
  • Reading: The Great Gatsby
  • Playing: Puzzle Agent
So I just announced a mini-comp on my blog that you can check out here:

Wicked awesome contest, yo

It's for Aussies only, but don't let that get you down. I'm also contributing to a couple of awesome contests to be announced here on dA soon which will be international, so I'm not neglecting you lovely folks from different continents.

I've wanted to give back to the lit community in Aus for a while now and, while the money prize is relatively small, I think it's enough to get some decent entries in. And hopefully people will pump up the prize by donating when they submit, who knows? An interesting experiment on the side, anyway.

So yeah, calling all Aussies who want a pineapple, step right up. (:
  • Listening to: c65
  • Reading: The Great Gatsby
  • Playing: Puzzle Agent
Hey all,

So techgnotic has a new article entitled "The Future of Storytelling" which you would have seen pop up in your notices centre. It's a well-written article with quotes from a bunch of different members of the comic, film, game, and book industries. I was asked by techgnotic for some copy to take quotes from, and I obliged with the note you can see below. While I think I was represented more or less correctly, there was a 'but' directly after where the quote from me ends in the article. So I thought I'd reproduce it here so you can see it in its entire context.

"Hi techgnotic,

Sorry I'm late with replying to this, I've been out of internet reception range for a couple of days so only seeing it on a machine capable of extended written reply now. (:

The thing that I see as being an important aspect to consider in the debate about communal vs. individual storytelling is that, with community input, there is a risk of averaging out of viewpoint. When I read a book by a great author, I am seeing the world through their eyes. The images that they choose to include, the way in which they take the plot to places that I never would expect, the their thoughts and feelings on the place in the world in which they have grown; these are all things that are in danger of being lost if too much regard is paid to external advice. I don't think that the 'new way' that you talk about, and that has already been used by an Australian author, Max Barry (see maxbarry.com/machineman/) will replace the 'old way' of internalisation and presentation of an author's unique voice. There will always be astounding stories that pay no regard to what an audience wants and are all the more richer for it. And I'm bloody thankful for that. I want to be challenged by stories (no matter the medium they appear on, be it within video games, movies, or novels), and an audience, especially a rabid, fan-crazy audience, rarely demands that.

I suppose this is a modern aspect of the oft-asked question of 'Should I write with an audience in mind?'. And I think the answer is roughly the same in this case: if you care for the opinions of an audience, then take input from that audience. I certainly care for the opinions of my readers, and I have kept them in the front of my mind during one story or another. But in others I have disregarded them, or deliberately tried to turn them off. An audience is a tool in the writer's toolbox like any other.

Of course it is, as always, a personal choice. And there are graduations of how much you do it. I wouldn't change a plot point unless someone made a very, very compelling case against it and I could see that it would make the story stronger. But I might make smaller adjustments without feeling like the story has been compromised.

Anyway, thanks for the thought-provoking topic. I hope this wasn't too late, and I look forward to the article. (:

Cheers,
Phill"

As a sidenote, I believe that altering a story in the fundamental manner discussed in the article, based purely on satisfying audience feedback just feels a bit wrong to me. I don't know what it is, but I don't think it would ever be something I would contemplate doing. Other than perhaps an experimental piece that was designed to make full exploratory use of a reader's input.

Anyway, just thought I'd clarify that in case anyone was interested. Happy writing to all, and I promise I'll be announcing that contest I've been banging on about for the last six months soon.
  • Listening to: Bastion soundtrack
  • Reading: Reality Is Broken
  • Watching: Portlandia
  • Playing: D3
:new: Hey, so I updated my blog's theme and completely restructured it to include a portfolio of creative stuff I've done over the years (including published short stories, vlogs, podcasts, and articles). There's also a bunch of new blog posts in the list. Have a poke around the portfolio and see what you think! Any feedback on the visual style and ease of navigation would be appreciated.

I update my blog quite a lot more than I update my journal here, so I figured I'd start keeping a list here again like I used to a while ago. These entries are generally more personal, so if you aren't interested in my life ramblings, steer well clear. (;


:new: :bulletblue: 1st of August -- Traction

:bulletblue: 22nd of July -- Velocity

:bulletblue: 18th of July -- Gradient

:bulletblue: 12th of July -- Average

:bulletblue: 1st of July -- Edge: A Penny Arcade Adventures Episode 3 Review

:bulletblue: 27th of June -- Primeval: A Diablo III Review

:bulletblue: 22nd of June -- Furry: an addendum

:bulletblue: 20th of June -- Taste

:bulletblue: 19th of June -- Prize

:bulletblue: 11th of June -- More

:bulletblue: 10th of June -- Skin

:bulletblue: 7th of June -- Ray

:bulletblue: 5th of June -- Furry

:bulletblue: 7th of May -- Goals

:bulletblue: 30th of April -- Midway

:bulletblue: 18th of April -- Contest

:bulletblue: 8th of April -- Tales from Kalgoorlie: Moonfall

:bulletblue: 3rd of April -- Tales From Kalgoorlie: Boss

:bulletblue: 30th of March -- Stable

:bulletblue: 7th of March -- Bound

:bulletblue: 5th of March -- Return

:bulletblue: 12th of February -- Callus

:bulletblue: 28th of January -- Mines

:bulletblue: 6th of January -- Aspiration
  • Listening to: Terry Cavanagh
  • Reading: Job advertisements
  • Watching: EPL
  • Playing: VVVVVV
I checked my phone last night and found that I had a few more favourites than I ought to, but put it down to being featured somewhere random. This morning the number had climbed dramatically, so I went straight to the suspected culprit and, yeap, the darling wreckling has struck again.

Thank you very much to Trevor for featuring my wee horror story 'Death and Taxes' as a DD, and to Memnalar for hosting the contest that led to its genesis. It's a heck of a nice thing to wake up to when facing a day that contains little other than trying to sell myself to faceless industrial corporations (i.e. writing cover letters and trying to find a job).

Some might groan at the fact that it's me again (again again again again again), but I just want to explain that it still means just as much to receive one of these DDs now as it did around five years ago with my first one. While the number of actual comments from receiving a DD these days have diminished dramatically (8 in total from this one, down from several hundred on that first one), it's still a heck of a nice feeling to know that people are at least glancing at your work. And given the writing slump that I've been in for the past six months or so, it's a welcome glance; no matter how askew.

Anyway, my thanks again, and happy writing to everyone. (:
  • Listening to: Sleigh Bells
  • Reading: Job advertisements
  • Watching: EPL
  • Playing: Nothing
  • Eating: Weet-bix
  • Drinking: a lot
'ello 'ello,

Well I'm back from my first two-week stint out on 'The Mines' as they are known here in Western Australia. So far it's been okay. The work is very hot, very tough labour, but there are moments of respite and a rather large pay day every Thursday. The benefit of which is that I can start feeling less shitty about my inability to do anything social that requires a couple of bucks in the bank. Some good news while I was away was that my supervisor has found me some temporary work writing up a literature review after I finish doing this mines job, so that'll give me maybe a couple of months' worth of extra experience that I can add to my resume. Every little bit counts.

I am a little bit curious as to why my pageviews have spiked like crazy recently. Anyone else noticed the same thing? My thoughts turn immediately to spam crawlers, since I haven't actually put anything up that is so fantastic as to earn me the kind of attention that the numbers reflect. Especially when I literally haven't been online here during that period. In any case, hello to anyone who has stopped by lately.

Okay, time to have something to eat and check the job listings again. Talk soon (probably in #CRLiterature).
  • Listening to: The War on Drugs
  • Reading: Job advertisements
  • Watching: EPL
  • Playing: Bastion
  • Eating: Weet-bix
  • Drinking: Coffee
EDIT: WOOOO 60,000 VIEWS. Captured by the darling WyvernLetDie with just one of his many internet-related skillz.



So apparently I've developed the super power of sarcasm so obnoxious it causes people to deactivate.

Someone stop me. :fear:

I don't understand the thoughts behind people blatantly not going through the stickies when they first post in a forum, and then complaining when others don't indulge your ignorance. Are these the same people that cause the "DO NOT SWALLOW" stickers on clothes irons? I sure hope so.

In, as they say, "IRL" the job hunt continues. There isn't a whole heck of a lot out there for my specific discipline, so I've started expanding my parameters a bit. If I were an environmental scientist, or perhaps a food scientist, I'd be positively drowning in job offers. But as it stands, I'm stuck in that most frustrating of Catch-22s: I need experience to get the jobs, but I can't get experience until I have the job for which I need experience. In the meantime, I'm doing casual work for a company that requires science trivia questions. It's harder than you'd think, given the age groups involved, but it pays okay and I can work form home, wich is a bonus, given the above 'looking for work' scenario.

Writing-wise, you may have noticed I'm starting to get back in the swing of things here after a long hiatus. Breath Test, Booming Sales, and Construct are all products of short, intense writing exercises (much like another gorup which I hope to revive whenever the help desk gets back to me) that I'm using to force myself to write. I'm also reading Stephen King's On Writing and finding it a good kick up the bum, with some practical advice delivered as per how your no-holds-barred Uncle might disperse it. It's very nearly making me want to read one of his books to see how he employs said advice. Nearly. God, I'm such a bloody snob, aren't I? Maybe after I've finished reading Dave Eggers and Alexie Sherman I'll pull my head out of my arse and read something truly entertaining.

Anyway. What are you guys reading? Can you recommend a King?
O.K. so there was that other forum thread that kind of blew up after I commented on it. I've already apologised to Beccalicious and I've made my reparations to the OP in a reply to my previous journal. If this is the response to some gentle trolling (and I mean really gentle: I even included helpful advice!) then perhaps I should reconsider the sensitivities of the newly worded and shut my damn trap. *Edit* He responded, we're all good now.

In other news, I went to the wedding of two of my friends on Saturday and it was wonderful. It's the first pair to be married from anyone in my age group, so it was particularly awesome. The service was short but sweet, the food was plentiful and the drinks even more so. It's a strange thing to see two people commit to loving and caring for each other for the rest of their lives. The cynic in me can come up with all kinds of reaons why it's compeltely the opposite of what you should be doing if you hope to actually achieve life-long partnership, whereas the romantic in me is all "OMG FLOWERS".

Also, I wanted to extend an open invitation to my watchers to note me (or comment here) with any pieces you might like to see critique on. Prose only please, although you can link poetry only if you acknowledge that anything I have to say on the subject may be completely wrong. I'm open to any genres, any length, as long as it's not fan-fiction (sorry). Go wild!
  • Listening to: Ghostly International 2012 Preview
  • Reading: Game of Thrones
  • Watching: EPL
  • Playing: Cave Story+
  • Eating: Pad Thai
(Rambling) Forum thoughts

So there was that forum thread that I posted yesterday, regarding the numerous occurences of people wandering into the forums and essentially asking people to write a story (or part of it, which amounts to the same thing) for them. It got a lot of responses, the majority of which had obviously had enough with them and wanted some way of dealing with it.

I think it's kind of odd that this is even a thing, really. My personal feeling is that not everyone can be a (good/accomposhed/moderately talented/whatever) writer, otherwise we'd all be writing, right? So when people who have no real interest in helping themselves before they reach out to the hivemind wander in, I can't help but think we should be either be telling them to go away and try again, or deriding them until they do the same. I'm not alone in that opinion, as one of the suggestions was to troll the people involved. If we were truly an open forum it'd be fine to rip the piss out of these people, hijack their threads, and make some kind of creatively funny thread. That hasn't happened in a long time. All the spontaneity has gone. It's all carefully curated questions or asking for the most obvious and cliched bits of advice. It's just...oh, I don't know what I'm even saying any more.

Anyway, one of the observations from the thread was that we are still able to have long, interesting, thoughtful discussions about topics between people. phoenixofthenet, SRSmith, KyteGlory and raspil all had a lot to say on the topic and responded to each other regarding it. They even disagreed with each other and went, *GASP*, off topic! So I think there's room for stimulating discussion on the boards. A community is what it is, and at the moment it's a bit fractured. But we'll get there eventually.

Some pimpage:

A few things happening around the place that I think are rather neat:

:bulletgreen: transliterations is hosting a rather loverly competition regarding modernising myths.
:bulletgreen: There's a great critiquing contest being run by GrimFace242 at this journal.
:bulletgreen: and of course there's still a wee while to get in entries for the Christmas Traditions comp.

Of course, you can check out wreckling's CR update for even more info and happenings.
  • Listening to: Ghostly International 2012 Preview
  • Reading: Game of Thrones
  • Watching: EPL
  • Playing: Cave Story+
  • Eating: Pad Thai
Hey folks,

Just wanted to say hello and check in. I've not been getting up to much in the way of writing lately, so there's really not too much new to report on that front. I have, however, been lucky enough to be published alongside the inimitable zebrazebrazebra in the latest issue of dotdotdash, a lit journal produced here in Perth. If you feel like ordering it and lapping up our delicious words, you can order the magazine here: dotdotdash.org/?page_id=18#3 . It takes international submissions as well, so you should submit if you think it's somewhere that your words could find purchase. I can personally vouch for their submissions process as being easy, and they read blindly (i.e. no names on manuscripts), so there's no chance of being rejected because you're unknown or unpublished.

Besides not writing, I've been busy finishing off all the admin stuff required to receive my Ph.D. and then falling into the quagmire of unemployment. The depths of that bog have been more than adequately described by others here at dA so I'll not be adding my adjectives to how much it really sucks. Long days filled with very bloody little other than the occasional excursion out to shop for Christmas with the few pennies I still have to rub together. Of course I've had games to keep me company; Skyrim, for example, has already sucked two days into its vortex of epic questing. I can't say I like it as much as I did the previous TES iterations, especially not as much as Morrowind. I think it's due to the quests feeling rather...grindy. Go here, get this, go there, kill ten of these, etc. And killing dragons eventually turns into an 'Oh, this again' rather than the 'HOLY CRAP OMG OMG' that it was the first time. Don't get me wrong, it's still an amazing game, but I feel there are some missed notes in the overall choir. Having the time to watch EPL matches has made me into more of a couch potato than I ordinarily would be, but the action at the top of the table doesn't let me miss a second of the race. Should be an entertaining end to the season.

I'll be working on competition rules/regs, etc. for the thing I plan to run at the start of the year. Still not entirely sure about what format it'll take, but I'm sure I'll figure something out.

Alright, back to it. (:
p.
  • Listening to: Ghostly International 2012 Preview
  • Reading: Game of Thrones
  • Watching: EPL
  • Playing: Cave Story+
  • Eating: Pad Thai


Hey guys, just wanted to give you a heads-up about a rather cool project that's been put together by the marvellous techgnotic. It's a story that you can contribute to, with chapters being chosen by techgnotic and published every Wednesday and Saturday in December. Each chapter will have an accompanying artwork, all presented in some of the best journal skinning I've ever seen. Seriously, go have a look:

Click here to check it out!

You can click on the 'How can I contribute to the story?' button to read more info about word counts (not completely solid at time of writing) and such.

It's an amazing framework, I think you'll agree. I can imagine future competitions following this kind of structure, so I'd really love for all of you guys to have a go and submit to at least one of the chapters to help techgnotic iron out the wrinkles and make this project shine. I'm definitely going to be participating and I want to see you guys in there as well! GET ONTO IT. Also spread the word in journals please, it's a pain but with News gone (a thing I may post another journal on soon) that's the only way to get this kind of activity out there and noticed.
  • Mood: Tired
  • Listening to: Sleigh Bells
  • Reading: Crash
  • Watching: Buffy
  • Playing: Chrono Trigger
  • Eating: Bacon &amp; eggs
  • Drinking: Beer

Thailand update

Tue Nov 8, 2011, 5:21 PM


Hey all,

So Lou and I have been scooting around Thailand for almost two weeks now, and it's been a blast. Some highlights so far:

:bulletgreen: Getting to know Chiang Mai with its amazing Wats (temples) and easygoing people.
:bulletgreen: Thai cooking class, where we ate ourselves silly on awesome Thai food that we made ourselves
:bulletgreen: Visiting an elephant conservation park (no riding, no tricks, just feeding and washing the elephants and learning about their various heartbreaking histories)
:bulletgreen: Tearing around on a scooter through the Thai countryside to see canyons, waterfalls, more Wats, and getting lost in a night market
:bulletgreen: Staying at the legendary Cave Lodge, within walking distance to some absolutely spectacular caving sites. We did an intense 4km trek underground, saw some truly amazing formations, as well as bats, massive centipedes, snakes, etc.
:bulletgreen: Kayaking down the river on a beautiful day, and getting ambushed by local kids near a dam
:bulletgreen: Being led through a Thai woman's rice fields to another cave, whereupon on exiting she gave us a bunch of fruit to eat with our dinner (Thai people are seriously the nicest ever btw)
:bulletgreen: hooning around yesterday in a big pickup truck to see a long neck Karen village, as well as waterfalls and even more temples.

Today we're slowing down a bit, as the hectic pace has left us both a bit knackered. We were going to go see about a mud bath 16km north of our current town (Mae Hong Son) but apparently it's completely shit according to tripadvisor. So we might just go hire a scooter and have a bit of fun flinging around the countryside again. We have a couple more nights here, during which a big festival happens, and then we swap sides of Thailand for the islands in the South. Still tossing up whether to do a dive course down there, but we'll see if we have the time. Should be fun!

As well as updating you all on what I'm doing, I also wanted to wholeheartedly thank Memnalar for running his Halloween contest, and for the judges in awarding me 3rd place. dA contests are always the place that I find myself challenged to write outside my usual style. I'll be using all the points proceeds to run a competition of my own soon after I return, either in December or January next year. Perhaps a New Year's resolution contest? We'll see. (:

Hope everyone is keeping well. Good luck and happy writing!
Phill

  • Mood: Tired
  • Listening to: Sleigh Bells
  • Reading: Crash
  • Watching: Buffy
  • Playing: Chrono Trigger
  • Eating: Bacon &amp; eggs
  • Drinking: Beer