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avoiding housemate hell

“Everything will go swimmingly at first – they’ll laugh at your jokes, and be totally cool with it when you admit that you’ve got a party planned for the weekend after they move in. But a few weeks in and the picture starts to look a lot less rosy. See that thing surrounded by a pile of dirty dishes, half-read magazines, video cases and tissues at the end of your sofa? That’s your flatmate. And they’ve finished off the milk. Again.”
- Guardian’s Find-A-Flatmate Quiz

If you’ve ever shared an apartment or looked for a flatmate, then the Guardian’s Find-A-Flatmate quiz is for you.

Hauntingly familiar, scaringly true and milk-stealingly funny. Take the quiz here.

And remember: if it doesn’t work out, you can always move.

ego check

Writing up a storm these days, with more Max Finder Mysteries in the works and another picture book for Soundprints almost complete.

So, basking in the glow of satisfied writing, I took a bloglines break and had my writing pride knocked out of me.

bgliterary is Barry Goldblatt, a literary agent who blogs some seriously useful advice for aspiring writers. He represents some good writers, so it’s not surprising that his main complaint is about the number of bad manuscripts he gets sent (literally hundreds per week – ouch!) The other day he posted about referral abuse by submitting authors (saying that you know someone when you don’t, or when the referee doesn’t even know the referer.) It’s a good warning to anyone who thinks that they can trick an agent or a publisher into accepting their work. There seems to be the belief from many writers that their work is so exceptional that publishers or agents will forgive them for breaking the rules or being deceptive. They won’t.

From bglitery’s blog, he pointed to this litany of advice to would-be writers on John Scalzi’s blog whatever. It’s a bit callous, a bit coarse and extremely funny. Scalzi makes no apologies and the advice should be heeded by anyone who is looking to get published.

Okay, with my ego firmly back in its place, time to get back at it. Scribble, scribble!

cars are great/i hate cars

“You care about nature, so you recycle, buy organic food and have even taken David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge. But now you’re faced with a dilemma: you need a car.” – David Suzuki Foundation

Last year, I was living in a medium sized city ruled by cars. Buying one was a looming reality and I knew that the only automobile I could afford would be a beat-up, gas-guzzling, carbon-emitting nightmare. It was one of the reasons why I moved back to a big city with a decent transit city that gave me the freedom to travel without being chained down to four wheels.

The people at the David Suzuki Foundation realise this and have released a Green Guide to Car Buying. The guide gives you the good, the bad and the dirty on new and used cars. It also gives you the tools to talk to car manufacturers and them the to clean up their act.

If you’re not familar with David Suzuki and his organisation, then check this out.

If you’re in Canada and you’re concerned about the environment, then think about taking the Nature Challenge. The Challenge is a commitment to apply 3 environmentally friendly habits to your life. If you’re even remotely environmentally conscious, chances are you’re already doing at least 2 of the challenges.

The thing I like about Suzuki is that he knows we must live in the real world. Not everyone can afford organic vegetables or live in complete harmony with nature. The suggestions from the Foundation are realistic, easy to apply and often require little adjustment to your life. He makes living green a whole lot easier.

doin’ dial-up

“Who cries for the wired?” – Liam O’Donnell

Is it redundant to quote yourself in your own blog?

My life has been one big plane-boarding, bus-riding blur lately, so I don’t know the answer to that question. What I do know is that surrendering my DSL connection has given me a bad case of the digital shakes. But it’s also increased my writing productivity and boosted my offline reading.

And being back in the big city means a return to some great comic book stores (here and here) and chance to enjoy few new(ish) graphic novels, like Joe Sacco’s The Fixer and James Kochalka’s hilarious Monkey vs Robot. If you’re looking for a reading change these two are worth checking out.

Maybe this dial-up thing isn’t so bad (somebody slap me – quick!)

berg blastin’ with ratboy

Because of my move, I’ve been away from my trusty game console for over two weeks and the callouses on my thumbs are getting soft. It may only be a Playstation 1 but I love my classic games and I’m going through some serious gaming withdrawal.

But, today I got my gaming fix and it’s all thanks to Tony Walsh and his newly redesigned site, SecretLair.com. Tony surprises me each time I visit his site. In addition to being a sharp writer, he’s a great illustrator, a top blogger and the creator of the weekly comic strip, He Is Just a Rat.

And now I discover that he’s a great game designer as well. Ratboy gives the classic game asteroids an icy twist with IceBreaker. It’s fun, it’s free and it’s addictive. What more do you want in a webgame?

Check out the whole list of Tony and Ratboy’s games and get those thumb callouses back into shape.