Vanishing Beauty.

It was the night of the Supermoon, when Luna is at its perigee, and my wife and I went out to stroll through the bush in the moonlight.img_0649

We parked the car in the industrial estate a couple of kilometres from our house and set off to get some peace and perspective about life. In that blue monochrome world, under the full moon light, we strolled the concrete path that ran beneath the melaleuca and eucalypts. As we walked, I explained how this was one of the last green strips in the area. img_0660

In the nearly 20 years I’ve lived in Queensland, I’ve watch the greenspace vanish, bulldozed to make room for housing development or light industry.  Our local councils have worked hard turning the green bits on the map brown, while out here in the real world  we watch all these little pockets of wildlife and bushland vanish. img_0656

In our haste and our greed, we are ripping out the lungs of the world, and if we don’t stop, we will all choke on our fetid dying-breath. But there is hope, I’ve seen it once or twice. Like the people who are willing to replant native trees, remove weeds and restore greenspace to some of its former glory. These people deserve to be paid, yet they receive no fanfare, they just get on with making the word a better place.

Local governments see only dollar value when it comes to these last few remaining pockets of bush. The larger ones near my home are sealed off, one being a military firing range and a couple of others are Housing Dept. Land, earmarked to be sold off and bulldozed like all the rest at sometime in the near future.

When I moved to my current address, there were farms and large stretches of green where I could walk and think and attempt to retain my sanity. I would be dead if  not for those little  parcels of nature.

In that monochrome world of last night, under the light of the moon, I clung to that  little patch of green between the industrial park and the main road and breathed a little easier.  img_0655

When the Supermoon comes around again in 2034 I wonder what it will see. Will we have changed, or will we have turned the planet into a carpark as we fight each other to steal the last of the oil. img_0654We stand at a crossroads, every single day. At each new decision we help or harm each other and the world in which we live. Talk to each other. Share each others dreams, and fight for what makes the world a better place for everyone.

Chris K

Urban Wildlife

All of these animals I’ve encountered on my morning walks.

Ringtail possum, living in the middle of an industrial park. Nested  in a bush of cane surrounded by factories.wp_20161026_10_23_40_pro

Mama Poss and this years babe just peeking out from behind mum.img_0587

Poss moved in to our roof about five years ago so I found the hole she was accessing the roof cavity through and closed it up while she was out one night. That day I’d built a nesting box and placed  it in my shed near where the hole into the roof used to be. img_0589

She’s live in the box ever since.img_0590

Each year she has a new little one, and I have seen the single baby grow from pouch to mother’s back and then they leave when fully grown.img_0591

But mama poss stays behind, already pregnant with the next bub.img_0593Last years Possum baby taken on a phone, sorry about the qualityimg_0872

Forest Lake Brush Turkey (Bush Turkey, Scrub Turkey they have a lot of names.) They build these large mounds to lay their eggs in, similar to dinosaur behaviour. Over the incubation of the egg they will add or remove litter to control the eggs’ temperature.output_k6rcjwpython-eating-possum

Why I never use the terms, Political Correctness or Patriot.

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(Note. If you want to argue with me in comments feel free, but know that debate is  welcome, vacuous abuse will be ignored. Learn how to justify your opinions.)  Rant starts here.

Let me begin with the fact I don’t have a problem with terms like, POLITICALLY CORRECT or PATRIOT. My problem is that the meaning of these terms has changed. The terms nowadays are used mostly by Right Wing Nut-Jobs who seem to think that these terms are a defence of their right of free speech.

“You’re anti war? You’re not a patriot.”

“How dare you take me to task about my rape joke. Oh, you’re just being politically Correct.”

That’s not a justification people, that’s a cover for your inability to defend your beliefs.

I love my country, but the term patriot is used by so many racist groups now, who seem to think a lack of melanin in their skin makes them somehow superior, that I refuse to use the term to describe myself.

On Twitter, Facebook, etc. you’ll find these terms almost exclusively used by people who want to be racist, misogynist, homophobic  or anti anyone different. They are used by people who want to shut down debate. I keep coming across people using these terms in place of a balanced and reasoned argument to support their opinions. This is not about people being offended by “Naughty words,” this is about people who never step into anyone else’s shoes. This is about people who refuse to show any kind of empathy. As my friend Katie Taylor wrote recently, “There is a BIG difference between being crude and just being an arsehole.”

A friend of mine posted a meme recently which read “POLITICALLY CORRECT. A term used for whiney, overly sensitive pansies who need everything sugar-coated for them.”
I’d like to respond with this. POLITICALLY CORRECT. A term used predominately BY privileged white males who can’t handle being told they’re being an arsehole.
I’m kind of sick of people using the term to excuse treating other people like Shit.

The sheer cognitive dissonance involved in defending free speech by telling someone they’re being PC and should shut the F. up would be hilarious if it didn’t make me cringe so much. Like, really, that’s the best you can come up with? If you want to justify your racism, misogyny  or whatever other prejudice you hold, you better have a logical argument because otherwise I will dismiss you as a fool, though I will harbour the fear you could also be dangerous. “Words never hurt anyone, ” I hear them say. Ignoring the irony in how hurt they sound being called out for their prejudices, This is not always the case. Tell someone who’s suicidal they should kill themselves and see how much those words hurt. Tell someone who has been sexually assaulted that someone should rape them and see how harmless your words will be.

If you use terms like PC and Patriot to hide behind, to reinforce you hate, then understand just how you appear to me and expect me to give you nothing but logical, thought out arguments that prove you’re an arsehole.

Is that PC enough for you?

 

The Kingfisher moment, Or Why I don’t support the MRAs.

azure-kingfisher-ct280-280x220Today, as with most days, I spent an hour walking in one of the pockets of bushland near my home, just trying to take a breath and remember that not everywhere is concrete and steel, and that beauty is still around me. It gives me a chance to think, to create, to dream and to contemplate this crazy world we live in. This morning however I observed something about myself that I felt I should share
As I walked along a track, surrounded by grevilleas, Tea trees and gums, the sound of birdsong in the air, I heard the familiar sound of crows up ahead, calling to each other and I knew they were talking about somebody up ahead on the track. Soon I saw a woman, I’m guessing in her 40’s, walking away from me.
Now I walk quickly, a product of bushwalking with my brother as a child, his motto being, “Keep up or get left behind.” At my less-than-leisurely pace I would catch up with her quickly. Then this conversation happened in my head.
“Slow down. Your in the bush, alone, and having an old fart come up behind you could be a little frightening to a woman on her own in the bush.”
I slowed and stopped, and spent a few moments just watching a kingfisher going in and out of its nest, having tunnelled into a termite mound up a tree nearby.
After this I continued on my way, never seeing the woman again.
Did she notice? Would she ever realise I had given her space so she’d not feel uncomfortable? Almost definitely no, but that’s not why I did it. I did it because at the cost of a couple of minutes watching a royal blue kingfisher in it’s natural habitat,(Not really a cost at all), I ensured I didn’t perpetuate the air of danger that has become commonplace for women today.
Now the MRA brigade would howl, “Why should I have to change my habits just so some uptight woman doesn’t feel threatened. It’s her hangup not mine.”
To the members of my gender who still don’t understand we live in a world where the next President of the US can laugh about sexually assaulting women. If you can’t see that kind of world puts all women on the defensive, then I don’t know what will. To you I say, who the hell made your feelings more important than anyone else’s? When did giving up a minute or two of your precious time become more important than ensuring others feel secure.
I think a lot about this world we live in, and as an observer of people, I find it’s important to stop sometimes, take a breath and step into other people’s shoes
Who knows? In the space of that breath, you might find your humanity.

Last time I checked, I was definitely Me

An interesting thing happened on the way  to filling out US tax forms for Amazon. Old farts and  Technology… What could possibly go wrong.

I’ll try to keep the dry and dusty details to a minimum so I can get to the sheer frustration.

While doing said forms, I somehow created a new account, under the same email address, as my original account but with different names, the new one Chris, in line with my more chilled attitude and the original one, Christopher with all that I’ve published for the last five years.

Now I admit I should be better at keeping passwords, but I’ve had everything wanting new passwords lately and I can’t remember exactly how to access Christopher.

Of course I have no idea how I managed to open the new account in the first place and now it seems there’s no undo button on Amazon. What I need is someone to talk me down from the ledge, tell me I’m not going to lose control of my last five years work and walk me through untangling this mess. What I’m getting is stressed help desk workers who seem to reach a point of impasse and hang up. Neither were rude, though the first was kind of like talking to a wall.

All I want is to delete CHRIS and access CHRISTOPHER, if you catch my drift.

Seems that could be impossible. I’ve just sent a third email response to continue this circular dance of depression, and I await the response with some trepidation bordering on panic.

The saga will continue in the comments.

 

Chris K

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Future Swears

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Okay, this is my game face. The feedback has come  back, mostly positive,  yay, and so the next round of edits and rewrites begins. A full rewrite of the Prologue, a few hours of edits and sifting through the feedback, (sincere thanks to Meg, Talitha and Russell.)

One thing that’s come out is how the first couple of chapters has been polished to within an inch of it’s life, only needing a few minor things, but it’s been pointed out that the use of 2099CE slang is strong at the beginning but tapers off. The upshot is a bunch more slang is needed to season this world  of words.

Now I have always been fascinated by the evolution of common language. Some words come into use and never leave, for example the ubiquitous F-Bomb, whilst others fall by the wayside like Groovy, Ace and Choice. (What you still say that?!) So with this novel it’s been fun inventing new ways to call someone an Arsehole. (Yes Arsehole not Asshole.)

So come on a little journey to where someone might call you a Sphinct, Triangle or Whack, where something can be completely Fracked Up, and only Westies say  Wuks.

When creating a language, any language, whether it be for Sci-Fi or Fantasy, you should bind the vocabulary with rules, give a sense of logic to what your characters say. Every word should have a reason for coming into that particular use.

In Harmony, I’ve attempted to weave the words into the dialogue, to have the characters speak  in the tongue of 2099 Australia, and Sydney specifically. One thing you realise as you study how languages grow and change, is the more isolated the place, the more the local lingo becomes unique.

In the present day, mobile phone/internet obsessed  world, the language is slowly homogenising to an extent. What I’ve done with the story is created a logical timeline of language (much of it swearing or insult). I’ve thought long and hard on what would happen if there was a major catastrophe in 2048 and that inter-connectivity we take for granted today was lost for the next 40 or fifty years. Every word or expression needs a reason.

Fracking for fuel through the 2020-30’s caused major toxic problems, ie things can be really, really,  really fracked up.

This is the letter A, note the hole in the middle is a triangle,  therefore an A_Hole is a triangle. Sphinct should need no explanation.

Drug users,  like the small packets of Happy available from a licensed Spence, have their own labels. A good Spence will have a wide variety of merchandise, servicing the pharmacological needs and desires of those who partake in such pleasures. Skank to ease the pain, Scream to touch the sky,   Kick to keep you going and Bluies ‘fore you party. Pay the Spence and it’s yours.

And the people of Sydney and Kings Cross, they all have their labels, Head-Kickers and Night Walkers, Ragers and Ravers and Toolies, all are welcome if they’ve got  the Creds to blow.  The Trogs and the Roaches, inhabitants of the desolate old business end of Sydney, barely ever come to the Cross. It’s no place for the poor.

As you can see, language tells a lot about the world of Harmony. I look forward to you all getting to read the finished book.

Sydney flooded by Chris Kneipp small

 Chris K

The Part Time In Part Time Lunatic

WP_20150727_17_39_33_ProLife gets busy sometimes and I forget to update this blog. My bad.

Among other things, (Being a dad and husband,) there are responsibilities that come when you pass the 50 year mark of your life, (I’m fifty one.)  I work part time as my gross income from writing at present is Zero.  I write when  I can, in between the aforementioned responsibilities, in the hope of one day becoming a full time Author. (Writers average incomes are woeful) . I don’t write because I think it will make me a fortune, I’m far too pragmatic for that, but I do hold on to the idea of one day making a living with words.

I do hope one day to be able to look back at the things I’ve written and feel proud. My series, Parallel and The Immortal Darkness were penned when I was just starting out taking my writing seriously and hindsight now four years later makes it clear they could have been so much better. I’ve learned so much since then, mostly from other writers. The community of Speculative Fiction writers is incredibly supportive here in Australia. Especially here in Queensland. There is a close knit community of SciFi, Fantasy and Horror writers that feed each other with encouragement as we strive for the same goal, to make the best stories we can.

Now I’ve finished Harmony, my third novel, I feel like I’m gaining some momentum. Along with that come the fears, what if it’s not good enough, what if people don’t like it, what if I can’t find a publisher? The head gets full of doubts around this time. Having the writing community behind you is a good way to keep your sanity.

So there it is, Part Time Lunatic indeed. I work part time, write part time, do what I can to keep a household going, part time and occasionally, lose my mind.

Chris K