By now I know the answer’s always in the question

I’ve just sent the invoice for three chapters that I wrote for inclusion in a biochemistry textbook. It isn’t a heap of money, but it is the most I’ve ever been paid for writing. It always feels good making money for doing something that I love. Not that it is that common, mind, but nonetheless. Feels good. I think, in fact, that it was the exercise of structured, paid writing that allowed me to catch the blog bug again. When I stopped putting it off and made the time to sit down and write, I thoroughly enjoyed it and wanted to keep writing after my task for the day was done. Hence, the recent burst of blogging.

A part of my was a little sad when I mailed off that invoice today. I want to keep going, keep writing. The problem is that blogging isn’t satisfying me this time around. It all seems a little trivial, a bit of vanity writing. Sound and fury. I need something ‘real’ to write. That was what made the textbook writing so satisfying – the fact that it is going to be published in old school book form, that undergraduate students are going to be forced to buy it and that maybe, just maybe, it will help someone learn something useful. Unlikely, I know, but a guy can dream.

I want to write something real. But what? I love reading fiction but can’t fathom writing it and, as a friend in publishing told me – ‘nobody wants fiction from new authors, fiction doesn’t sell.’ Nonfiction it is then. But what to write and, more importantly, when? I knocked out 20,000 words in a week by taking some days away from work, but I knew that there was a payday at the end. I’m not sure I could convince Dr. O’C to get the kids out of the house on a Sunday afternoon on a whim. A fantasy.

On a tangentially related note, today is the first official day of summer.  I’m going back to four days a week at work over the next few months to get some time with the boys and so Dr. O’C can go back to work full time. I’ve stored up enough leave time to take every Wednesday from today through the end of February home with the boys. For the first year or so we were in Oz, I did that and generally enjoyed the time I had with Boy Z. Then Not Max came along and Dr. O’C was on maternity leave and my work got a bit out of control. And, to be honest, I was a bit scared to deal with the two of them on my own. But we’re doing OK today. We’ve spent the morning messing with marsupials and the boys have been charitable enough to take good long naps simultaneously. I reckon they realise I’m out of my league, here.

Behind you, mate!

I’m wondering how the glass will hit

The new dog, in a cyclone of sharp little puppy teeth and a flood of puppy pee, has arrived. Boy Z is besotted, Dr. O’C resigned and Not Max slightly confused. Along with the peals of laughter and declarations of love, however, have been fits of tears. Puppies nip. It’s what they do. Not Max has borne it with his typical aplomb. He’s spent the first year of his life receiving various injuries and insults from his older brother, so the occasional nip on the ear is nothing out of the ordinary.

Boy Z, on the other hand, is struggling a bit with a rambunctious pup. The new dog seems to have summoned memories of the old dog for Boy Z. After Timmins bit Boy Z we used the standard “gone to a farm with lots of other dogs” line. As we were driving back from the pet store this morning with new collar, lead, toys and other puppy paraphenalia, Boy Z asked “When is Woody going to go the farm?”

This isn’t something we’ve talked much about in the last six months, so I was a bit confused. “What do you mean, Boy Z? What farm.”

“The farm that Timmins went to, with the other dogs. When will Woody go there? I don’t want him to go there. I like Woody and I like Timmins.”

The cracking sound you heard from wherever you’re sitting in the world was my heart breaking.

Later today, after being nipped whilst playing with the pup, he moaned. “Woody bit me. Like Timmins bit me yesterday on the beach.”

It surprises me that the memory is so seared into his little brain, especially since he’s been so keen to get a new dog. It also brings all that back to the front of my mind.

But Woody isn’t Timmins. He isn’t really even a replacement for Timmins. He’s a new dog. A fresh start. But with any fresh start comes the, pardon the pun, teething pains. I just hope a bad memory and bit of playful roughhousing doesn’t turn Boy Z off the new dog. Any advice on quickly curbing puppy biting would be gratefully received.


And speaking of dogs, or Dawgs if you prefer, it is college football season. At long last it is college football season. Another few months of late nights/early mornings spent listening to football games on the internet that are being played 10,000 miles away. If there’s one thing besides my family that I miss from the U.S. anymore it is Georgia Bulldogs football. Since I escaped in 2004 I’ve spent many an autumn (or spring) Saturday (or Sunday) . I’m not going to lose any sleep tonight, however, as I don’t expect the University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns to give my boys in red and black much trouble. But the season gets interesting starting next Saturday when the Dawgs roll into Columbia, S.C.

Go Dawgs!

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright


It is winter in Australia which means that it is football season it Australia. And by football, I don’t mean steroid stuffed giants in full body armor standing around for three plus hours, nor overpaid Brazilians kicking a round ball around for an hour and a half in the quest for a nil-nil draw. No, I’m talking about that odd game that you may have seen during a spell of insomnia that involves thirty skinny Australians occasionally kicking a rugby ball in between bouts of beating the crap out of each other.

Ah, footy. For a couple of years now, I’ve been trying to develop a passion for the game with only minimal success. Why bother, you sensibly ask? A couple of good reasons. First of all, tea time conversation topics. I work for a pretty ‘blokey’ school and was advised early on in my employment to choose a team as it would make Monday morning tea conversations flow a lot more easily.

True that. Most of the words bouncing around the walls of the tea room on Monday morning are ones like ‘Crows‘, ‘Power‘, ‘Cats‘, ‘Magpies‘, and so on. Over the last couple of years I’ve been able to learn the jargon well enough to feign interest, but I still don’t care that much about who’s atop the ladder or the weekly Crows crisis.

Secondly, and more importantly, I’m on a mission to give my kids a true blue upbringing despite being the children of immigrants. They’re boys. Aussie boys like sports. Aussie sports are cricket and footy (at least in SA and Victoria). Now we’ve got no problem with cricket, I took to cricket straightaway. It’s baseball, more or less, so no problems. (No worries.)

But this damned football, or footy as the locals call it, is just a bit too bizarre for my taste. Far too much punting. And I don’t understand why they haven’t developed the forward pass. I mean, I know Australia tends to lag a bit behind their North American and European cousins in adopting technology, but the forward pass has been around since 1906.

Whatever. We need a team. How to pick a team if you don’t really care for the game? Well, I figured it out – let the kid decide.

Now, without getting too inside footy, we’ve got a couple of AFL (major league) clubs in Adelaide – the Crows and the Power – both of whom suck. They also play in one of the worst stadiums I’ve ever seen and charge an obscene amount of money to sit in the rain and watch bad teams lose badly.

But we’ve also got the South Australian National Football League, a collection of local teams that would be kind of homologous to a AAA baseball league. They play at smaller ovals around the city, charge $10 for adults and nothing for kids and, best of all, let you go out on the pitch during the quarter breaks and kick your ball around. The latter, for a two year old, is the clincher.

A couple of weekends ago, Boy Z and I headed off to watch the Sturt Double Blues play host to the Glenelg Tigers, the two closest clubs to our house. I made the decision before we went that whoever won this game would be ‘our team’.  But while we were watching, I had a moment of genius  – ask the boy who he liked.

“Boy Z”, I said, “the blue ones are the Blues and the black ones are the Tigers. Who do we like?” Maybe an unfair question, because Boy Z knows that ‘tigers’ are fierce giant cats and ‘blue’ is just the colour of our Mazda hatchback.


Ti-ers it is my boy. Ti-ers it is. We’ve got ourselves a team.

We’ve been to a handful of games now and everything is now Tigers. He wants to wear his ‘Tigers’ shirt every day. We’ve hunted down ‘Tigers’ socks, although a few sizes too big. Stupid Australian sizes. He sleeps with his ‘Tigers’ football. We have endless conversations about the next time we’re going to see ‘Tigers football’. (Answer – the next time it isn’t raining on game day).

And I’m actually starting to like the game myself.


Image credit:

Glenelg Tigers