Phew!

Oct. 4th, 2017 07:23 pm
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 Okay, I called the Passport Information office and the lady there said I had been wrongly informed at the post office. As I have had a passport in the name I want, they have the records and the PO people can ring them directly if they like, and confirm that it's okay. 

My sister suggests I try to find my old passport, just in case, and I will have a look for it. I can only hope that it is where I think it is. Thing is, I just haven't used it in years. After this, I will buy a metal box and keep my important papers in it.

Then I'll probably mislay the metal box.
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Today I got my tax done and went to the local post office to have my passport photos taken. While I was there, I chatted with the lady at the counter and asked her some questions. See, my birth certificate - and the naturalisation certificate under my parents' names has the name Zelda on it. When I was starting kinder, or maybe school, they were told that Susan was the translation of Zelda and that they should make my life easier in those days before multiculturalism was big.

The last time I was questioned about this - when I wanted a public service job, not for a passport - I just had to sign a statutory declaration. That's what the Department of Immigration said (before it became Border Protection - yeesh, I'd love to see the politicians with weapons in hand defending us personally from all those refugees...). I assumed that was all I had to do this time, but no. The lady said that the only thing they would accept was a change of name document - what on earth is that? I don't HAVE one, never even heard of it. 

And I must have that passport. They won't give me my superannuation without one. Never mind the fact that I've worked for umpteen years and paid my super contributions - without it, they might think I'm someone else, maybe Bette Davis taking her twin sister's place after murdering her...? 

A bizarre situation. I tried ringing the passport office and, after a lot of automated messages, got piped music. I could have been waiting for hours on my mobile phone and I had to take Mum out for lunch. I did send an email, but it says on the web site you have to wait five days for a reply. 

I know how I'm spending this evening. Sigh! And I am promising myself not to yell at whichever poor sod picks up finally. Not their fault. If I find myself getting angry I will hang up and wait for the email reply. In my email I explained and aaked, not what should I do, but what would you do if you were in my position. I hope that gets someone thinking. 
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I need a passport for ID. Getting a passport is harder than it used to be, much harder. You need a passport for proof of ID, right? But some of the items you need for your passport, you almost might as well use for your ID anyway, unless you want to go overseas. My birth certificate is in Hebrew. The last time I used it was when I went to do my compulsory jury duty. I showed it to the lady on the desk and she just laughed and let me through. Well, it wasn't me who had demanded to do jury duty, was it? I figured if they objected to being unable to read the certificate, that was their problem, not mine.  
 
Anyway, you have to get your overseas birth certificate translated for passport ID, and it has to be done by one of their approved translators. So, I found a lady, one of two in Victoria, who fortunately lives within easy tram distance of my place and I am on term break. I contacted her and she said that I could scan and send, or I was welcome to come to her place today. I decided on that. I don't have a scanner any more and although I could take a photo, I wasn't sure it would turn out readable. It's a very old, crumpled document - well, as old as me, anyway. ;-) 
 
Off I trundled on the tram to a small street off Hawthorn Rd, South Caulfield, and found it easily. The lady was quite a character, as it turned out. She was very thorough, but also had a lot of fun Googling things to make sure they were right. For example, the hospital where I was born was called the Municipal Maternity Hospital at the time. It is currently known as the Rabin Centre - we agreed it might be best to simply use the term on the actual certificate, but she had a lot of fun satisfying her curiosity. Likewise with the Hebrew DOB. According to Google, the year I was born the Hebrew date was August 29! And here I was finding it amusing that the certificate says September 3, when it's September 4. "August 29!" she exclaimed. "Forget about that!" But we agreed there had been a stuff-up. 
 
And then there was the doctor who delivered me. It was a Dr Kattab? Katib? Qatab? Katab? (That was how it was spelled in Hebrew, which I don't think does double letters). Anyway, he/she was an Arab, a Muslim. Which makes sense, because it was a Friday night, when the Jewish staff were going home or to synagogue for the Sabbath, while Muslim staff had finished theirs and were able to do a shift. But it hadn't occurred to me. So, now I know, and it will be fun to tell any Muslim kids at school who might ask that I was delivered by a co-religionist of theirs. I think they'll be tickled. 
 
But Taly(translator) and I did a bit of Googling to check spelling and while there were many possibilities, we decided on Khattab, the name of an Aussie Muslim doctor we found on line. It was closest to the original. 
 
I told Taly that my sister, who was about five at the time, had to be left behind when Mum hitched a ride to hospital on a bakery van. She said, "Oh, that happened all the time back then. It happened to me. Nowadays they'd call it child abuse." She grinned. But there were neighbours and Dad came along soon enough and also had to hitchhike, because it was Friday night, no public transport. 
 
Anyway, I felt Taly was well and truly worth the small fee I was paying, and more if she had asked for it. She had a series of templates to use - " Here's one I prepared earlier..." But all the research and careful thought about her translations was quite a bit of work. And afterwards she printed out - we proofread and I found one inconsistent spelling - and then printed out again, two copies, plus a photocopy of my original, which she suggested I take to the PO and get certified. And she emailed me a PDF for my files which, however, had her stamp and signature on it. So it will be safe, even if I mislay the original. 
 
And then, all done, she enthusiastically showed me a website called,"On The House" which gives away free tickets to shows, as long as you don't mind what they are. She had grabbed a free double pass to two shows while my translation was printing out. 
 
Who would have thought such a humdrum, necessary activity would turn out to be so entertaining?
 
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 This is about the Marriage Equality postal survey, in which we get to vote as to whether or not same sex couples can marry. 
 
I know it isn't really a vote. Even the newspapers are calling it a postal survey. A survey for $122 million! After which the politicians might get a conscience vote. Might, if the answer is Yes. It isn't binding. But we are voting anyway, because Malcolm needs the support of the right-wing to keep his job. So I'll call it a vote. It's only people who are of voting age who get a say.
 
A few things. My nephew's younger daughter, Rachel, rang from Sydney last Friday, to ask her father - and the rest of her family, as we were there - how we were all going to vote.  She is thirteen going on fourteen and a passionate young woman. (Amazing, the predictive software threw up the word "dinar" instead of "woman".) She can't vote yet, but wanted to be reassured we were going to vote yes. We all called out that we were. I can imagine Rachel, at university one day and involved in student politics. 
 
Rachel's Dad is divorced. His wife threw him out of the house on Father's Day, when their first child was a toddler and she was pregnant with Rachel, so he has thoughts on these things. He will be saying yes, but he had a thought that hadn't occurred to me. If you can be married, you can be divorced, right? So those gay men and women who choose to commit to each other in that way will have to deal with some stuff that  heterosexual people have had to deal with for a long time. Mind you, heteros who live with each other are generally treated as a married couple for legal purposes anyway. Live with someone with a child for long enough and you have to pay child support if the other person can claim that you are the only father that child knows(I say father because the mother almost automatically gets custody). I remember when I worked for Social Security, now Centrelink,  that you were asked a LOT of questions if you were sharing a home with someone of the opposite sex: do you do his washing? Do you share a bed? A lot of things along those lines. If you were deemed a couple, you were treated as a couple. The individual pensions were lower. If your partner was earning too much, it was considered that they could damned well support you without the taxpayer being involved. That wasn't an issue for people of the same sex sharing a home, who were assumed to be just flatmates. It would be now. I admit it has been a long time since I was in the public service, things might have changed. 
 
But that is their business.  And they might consider it worth the trouble. See, it isn't just about love. It's about legalities. Like not being allowed to visit your partner in hospital if it's "next of kin" only. And wills - what if the rest of the family challenges in court? And plenty more along those lines. 
 
I will be saying yes, but am angry that I'm being forced to do this. It's none of my damned business!  It shouldn't be up to me to have a say, just so the head honcho can keep his job a bit longer. (If there is anything good here it's that a LOT of 18 year olds have registered to vote and they will be there next election). It doesn't affect me. If I don't vote and a whole lot of others don't vote, we will be letting down our gay friends. I have four of them, not counting the trans folk, but now I think of it, I've known two of those. Two of my gay friends aren't partnered at present, because, having come out later in life, they couldn't find anyone their own age and felt uncomfortable with the twenty-somethings they were with for a while. Two of them are like comfortable old married couples, except ... they aren't. I don't know if they want to marry.  But they should have that right.  And it shouldn't be up to me to allow or not allow them. 
 
And there is the hateful campaigning, which was predicted and is happening. Idiots going on TV talking about "and the kids will be given a lot of sexual scenarios at school if we let this happen" and even more bizarre stuff. "Kids need a mother AND a father." Well, yes, they do. Try telling that to divorced and separated hetero couples. Tell it to the kids who have been abused by their mother's boyfriend. 
 
As it happens, there are plenty of gay folk with children, kids who have two mothers or two fathers. That is already the case. Why is it going to be worse if their two same sex parents are allowed to marry? Especially since those who make the most noise about it are those who disapprove of unmarried hetero couples and call their children "illegitimate", in this day and age. Surely it will be better by their standards? 
 
I had a cuppa with one of my partnered gay friends the other night. He was stressed out about this whole business - and he is no victim type! He is a funny, lively man and absolutely capable of looking after himself verbally and every other way. But now he has to deal with the hatemongers who are being allowed to have their public say about something that is none of their business. As someone who has had to put up with the so-called "free speech advocates" who want to get rid of section 18C of the Racial Vilification Act, so we can all have a nice reasonable argument about how horrible my people are, I totally get it. He's had to put up with idiots and their general opinions on gays as having chosen to be what they are - and now this. 
 
I told him that while I would be saying yes, because not to vote would be to let him down, it was none of my damned business if he wanted to marry.
 
To any of my Australian friends reading this, I urge you to vote, however angry you are about this matter. Not to vote is to let through the No campaign. If you're old enough, you will remember the Republic referendum. The question was carefully worded to make sure it would fail, because the PM of the time didn't want a Republic - and if, by some remote chance, it did get through, it would be so little different from now that it wouldn't matter. The question this time requires simply "yes" or "no." It can get through, but only if those who think it's a farce vote anyway. Then the politicians can have a careful thought about whether they want their jobs back. 
 
If you are a No voter, ask yourself first how your gay friends must feel. And you are very likely to have some, whether you know it or not. Think about individuals, not "them". 
 
In the end, the politicians get to choose, whatever we say. But if enough people say no, they won't bother at all, and if nothing else, that's your tax money that has been wasted.
 
Think about it. 
  
 
 
 
 
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Reposted from my blog, The Great Raven, and written in a fit of whimsy! 
 
First, I’d like to make one thing quite clear: as a female fan of Robert E. Howard’s work, I have no desire to be crushed, panting, to Conan’s mailed breast, and never did have. If I was going to go out with a heroic fantasy hero, I’d rather have Tolkien’s hero Faramir, thanks. He’s a guy who’d not only be able to protect you from the baddies, but would remember your birthday and take you to some nice Minas Tirith restaurant for a birthday dinner, where you’d discuss art and music. If Conan remembered your birthday, he’d probably bring you a treasure from some ancient cursed tomb and you’d spend most of dinner watching in terror as he battled a slimy monster from before the dawn of time, come to take back its possession.
 
No - Conan wouldn’t be my idea of a boyfriend.
 
 
But he would make a very good next-door neighbour. He might not mow your lawn, and probably he’d have noisy feasts every other night, but he would make you feel utterly safe. Any stalker or burglar to invade your property would find himself hanging in midair, staring into a blazing pair of blue eyes under a long black mane, probably the last sight he ever saw. Any ex-boyfriend who tried to keep up a relationship you no longer wanted would be shaken thoroughly to make him understand that no means no and that a man of honour should understand this - then would be kicked down the street like a football. He would also knock on your door when you came home late from work to make sure everything was okay, or even come and pick you up from the station.
 
Conan appreciates an attractive woman, as we know from most of his adventures, and is only too happy to accept an offer from a charming lady - or a buxom wench - but never, ever forces himself on one. (You can’t really count the Frost Giant’s daughter - she’s just a challenge like any other, and Conan never turns down a challenge). It’s a part of his barbarian honour. In story after story, his behaviour is contrasted with that of arrogant, depraved noblemen of decadent civilizations. (I’m getting these visions of Conan showing his contempt for chardonnay-sipping yuppie males... Probably not a good idea to invite him to your dinner-party, though the backyard barbecue should be safe.)
 
I always liked it that the love of Conan’s life was Belit, a pirate queen. He had no problem with strong women, just with the ones who were trying to sacrifice him to some ancient demon, but the same applied to male priests who were doing the same. So he should have no problem with a strong professional woman living next door, as long as she showed him courtesy.
 
Well, Conan isn’t my next-door neighbour, alas, though the gentleman who lives in the next flat is nice enough. I can only find him between the covers of a book - in my case, one of the old Lancer editions which I first picked up on a remainders table, many years ago. I remember the wonderful Frank Frazetta covers, with Conan battling some monster or other, and the sheer joy of losing myself in his adventures. He may not be sitting with me in my study when I write, but I would probably never have had a go at heroic fantasy if not for those tales, or have joined the Society for Creative Anachronism, where I learned, at least, what you can’t do with a sword (it would have been much more fun to learn from Conan. I think he’d laugh at the idea, but help you out if you really wanted to learn). 
 
The only thing is, if Conan moved in next door, he wouldn’t stay long. He would become restless for the next horizon - and probably run out of money and need another job. I think I’d miss him, too. Then again, he would probably leave you a souvenir ... such as a treasure from some ancient cursed tomb from before the dawn of time...
 
END
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The interview was on the ABC radio program Overnights, about my book Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly. I have to take my hat off to those folk who do this nearly every night and act as if it's the middle of the day! They're amazing. That's both the presenter, Trevor Chappell(no, not the cricketer!) and the producers.

Was it worth getting up in the small hours on a weekday? You bet! And I had already told my daily organiser at school that I was going to go back to bed and sleep in. She was fine with that - I have plenty of leave and I don't have classes on Monday anyhow. She even wondered why I was coming in at all, but I have things that need to be done. which can't be done at home.

So, what was it all about? My lovely publisher Paul Collins arranged it. He did an interview about something else a couple of weeks ago(his own version of Henry Lawson's dog-themed stories). They asked him if he could recommend someone else and he recommended me. Which goes to show how right I am to believe you will always get more support from small press than large.

He sent them a copy of my book(which I think they will be giving away to a listener who rang to ask how to get a copy for their children) and I really believe it was read, or at least skimmed.

Then I heard from a producer who said they were interested in doing the interview this morning. She suggested I focus on the Batavia story and the nineteenth century stories, which I did, and made voluminous notes, just in case. You never know, and it has been a while since I wrote this.

So, I got up at 3.30 a.m to make sure I was awake enough to be able to answer questions. I put on the kettle for honey and lemon - I've been sick recently and still have a hacking cough, which I hoped a hot honey and lemon drink might soothe, at least during the interview.

I kept a copy of the book beside me just in case... and sure enough, some questions were about later chapters, but no big deal.

There were questions about the stories themselves and about how you go about choosing stories for a children's book on this subject and how much you have to leave out - and I had no problem with those. Mr Chappell seemed to get it that this is storytelling as much as fiction, and we discussed that too.

To my delight, one of the talkback listeners referred to a story about "an elderly woman, I don't remember her name, who poisoned her family..." which gave me the excuse to talk about Caroline Grills and how I'd once met a member of the prison staff of the time, who called her "such a sweet woman!" despite knowing exactly what she had done. And about how I had once told a bunch of kids too young for the book about "the very naughty nana... I bet your nana wouldn't do that!"

Really, this was such a good promotion, and the presenter was pleasant and relaxed and chuckled a lot at the colourful characters in my book.

I am very happy to have done it. If you're interested in hearing it, here is the link:

http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/overnights/crime-time-australian-true-crime-for-kids/8629676
I don't know if it will work outside Australia, but give it a go. I'm going to download it from iTunes and save it to my computer.


And here's the Ford Street website!

http://www.fordstreetpublishing.com/ford/index.php/ford-street-titles/books


Have a great day, readers!
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The last two days I have attended Continuum 13, the annual Melbourne convention, which was also the Natcon this year. Unfortunately, I had to miss about half of it due to family commitments, but at least I can say I have been to all of them.

Interestingly, there was one panel with a friend whom I haven't seen at a convention in quite some time, because he is strictly a media fan and objects to the other kind of cons because they don't have actors as guests. I tell him till I'm blue in the face that actors cost money, much more money than the average con committee can raise nowadays. They used to manage, years ago, but it was a different world then. Let's face it, the actors now go to events like Supanova and the expo that used to be called Armageddon, where the entrance fee is in the double digits, not the triple, as is the average fan-run convention. The fannish cons simply can't compete. As it is, they have to raise the money to pay for the air fares, accommodation and entertainment of a writer, without also having to pay an appearance fee. (I should add, I don't blame the actors for their appearance fees; it's the way they make a living, it's just another gig, and if they accept your invitation to a convention, they can't accept another gig, like a film or a TV show. It's just that we can't afford them).

So I was very surprised to see him there. I must ask him for details when we next meet on Thursday, at a mutual friend's retirement celebration. I did go to his panel, which was "Queering science fiction", about the obvious. I didn't really enjoy it - there was rather too much complaint about not being represented, which would be fair enough, except it was from people who had just told us that there have been queers in space opera since the beginning. And there was the person(gender-fluid) who complained because poor Ivan, in Lois McMaster Bujold's A Civil Campaign didn't throw himself into the arms of the now-male Lord Dono(formerly Lady Donna) on his return from Beta Colony after a sex change. Well, why would he? Number 1, he's totally hetero; the woman he had an affair with is no longer available, but after his initial shock he helps Dono with his campaign to become Count, something he couldn't have done as a woman. Number 2, Lord Dono is not upset; he thinks it's hilarious, and Number 3, doesn't actually WANT Ivan to continue the relationship. He has other plans. Being a woman on the male-dominated Barrayar is no fun, and by the time Lady Donna left it, she was fed up with dealing with men. She became one without regret, though. Of course, then the panellist might have complained because Lord Dono is now a hetero male, but that would be another matter. The way it was decribed was, "Someone he(Ivan) had lusted after and..." Wrong. He had had an affair with her; she had been his sexual mentor. There's a difference.

There was a mention of the Trill from Star Trek and the assumption made that they take over the bodies of their hosts and squash the personalities. In fact, in Deep Space Nine, it was explained that far from being parasites, they were symbionts, who more or less had to beat off applicants with a stick.The successful ones got access to the memories and skills of all the previous hosts, as I recall, in return for the use of their bodies. In one episode, Jadzia was challenged by an unsuccessful applicant, who got her symbiont off her, and she was not at all happy!

My friend said afterwards that the panel hadn't turned out quite the way he had in mind.

Likewise, there was a lot of whingeing from a panel called "The Forgotten Mothers Of Science Fiction". Thing is, many of the women mentioned, such as Diana Wynne Jones and Andre Norton, are far from forgotten - and their works are still in print. I had read nearly all of the women whose works are supposedly forgotten. It may be because I'm older.

I did see the point about Grania Davis, whose work needs hunting up, and who is only remembered as the wife of Avram Davidson. And I did enjoy the panel despite the complaining about something that really isn't true, IMO. The subject matter, about women in SF, was interesting to me. Mind you, I was surprised that an urban fantasy writer like Seanan McGuire mentioned YA fantasy without mentioning Melissa Marr, whose urban fantasy stories with fairies(or, rather Faeries), the Wicked Lovely series, were based on a lot of research and traditional stories, by a PhD university academic - they were very popular in my library at one stage. But I guess she can't read everything. None of us can.

I was disappointed with the panel on fan fiction, which was run by four young things who were probably not born before the Internet and certainly would never have seen a printed media fanzine. I should have gone to the panel on "Humans are special." But I had such fond memories of fan fiction back in the days when I was writing it - I wrote about 150 fan stories!

My favourite panels for the con were "Kid Stuff" (on books that had inspired some authors on the panel, including the delightful Michael Pryor) and the one on filking, plus I thought Seanan McGuire's GoH speech was delightful. Also, the one on fairy tales and the Dr Who panel, the only one that had a chance for audience to interact - no, the filking one did too, now I think of it.

Anyway, I had a good time in general and met up with some friends I hadn't seen in some time.
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Today, I learned a new word. It was written up on the whiteboard of a classroom where I had taken my EAL class, as "word of the day". The word was "ultracrepidarian." Of course, I had to Google it.

I have quite a good vocabulary, but that one was new to me, and I'd love to know which teacher wrote it.

It sounds like a long, over-the-top word, but the meaning is such an everyday one, concerning something we all have feelings about. It means "shooting your mouth off about a subject you haven't a clue about." Apparently, it was first used in about 1817, to have a go at a literary critic. It came from a couple of Latin words referring to a shoemaker who had the nerve to criticise, as it happened, a famous painter for getting a foot painted wrong. You know - "Cobbler, stick to your last." Personally, I'd think someone who had to make sure shoes fitted a real human foot would know enough to be able to say, "Hey, that foot is all wrong!" But what do I know? Maybe the artist actually said, "Everybody's a critic!" But it's a good word, eh?

I'd love to use that to have a go at someone who has given me a bad review for one of my books.

"Mate, you are such an ultracrepidarian!" you could sneer at some blogger or, if it was a magazine, your letter of response could read, "Sir, I refer to the critic whose comments on my novel's background show a distinct flavour of ultracrepidarianism."

Actually, the reader could be forgiven for thinking it was some form of religious cult...

I'm betting we all know at least one ultracrepidarian, eh? I sure do!

I must find an excuse to use the word in the next few daysM
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For the third time in about six weeks, I've fallen over, this time outside my own home. The same idiot who has been parking a ute in the driveway outside the door - right into the street, so illegal - has done it again. So I had to step around it, so, on an admittedly slippery morning, I tripped over a little ledge that is to the side of the driveway, and banged my knees yet again. I have NEVER tripped over that ledge, in all the years I have lived here. And one of my knees has been hurting for weeks now, due to a bruised bone, plus now it also has a graze. I can't kneel on it, and haven't been able to, for six weeks. The doctor says I just have to be patient and wait for it to get better. No fractures, fortunately.

I will be seeing my doctor in about half an hour, mainly for a medical certificate, as I just couldn't cope with a day at work after the shock, but I haven't wasted my time in the meantime.

I've been catching up with the episodes of Dr Who which I missed the last couple of weeks. I must say, this season is very good so far, and I'll be missing Peter Capaldi. His Doctor is almost as zany as Tom Baker, though he can get more serious. And I thought Thin Ice a particularly Tom Bakerish episode, though I can't see Baker calling his companion "boss".

What a nice surprise to see David Suchet in Knock Knock!

I also like the new companion. Bill is a companion who won't let the Doctor get away with any nonsense, though she also enjoys teasing him.

The scene in Thin Ice where she asks him if he's ever killed anyone, and challenges him, reminds me just a bit of Donna in The Fires of Pompeii.

I think the only companion I haven't really cared for was Amy, but then I didn't much care for that Doctor either.

Anyway, off to my own doctor(not Doctor!)
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Okay, I did it on Blogger. It was a fascinating experience. The idea is, you choose a theme and you write about it on your blog over a month, using the 26 letters of the alphabet. I chose the theme of Spies and Spying, because I'd written a children's book about it and so already had some background. I'm happy to say I managed to get ALL the letters in, though I did cheat a bit with X, writing "X is for eXtras." All things considered one bit of minor cheating in 26 entries was not at all bad.

Mind you, I discovered that some of the people I've written about have had their achievements questioned over the years since my book came out. History does change, no matter what you may think. I left out Jasper Maskelyne, whose boasts about saving Alexandria with magic tricks have been questioned, but then read that, in fact, he had helped with an incident in England where they needed the Nazis to think the Havilland factory was damaged. So, he could do iteksewhere, whether he did or not.

Then there were those web sites that argue that Herbert Dyce Murphy either never did the things he claimed(he was a spy who disguised as a woman before WWI)or that despite having lived quite comfortably as a man afterwards, marrying, etc., he must have been trans. Maybe - but it isn't mentioned in such sources as the Australian Dictionary of Biography on-line. I think the only thing you can do is look up several sources and make up your own mind.

For example, I researched Chang and Eng, the Siamese Twins, for an article I was working on. One said they had worked for Barnum and Bailey, another source said they hadn't. I decided to go with the latter, because from the other info I had about them, they were good businessmen who would be unlikely to agree to be ripped off by Barnum.

Anyway, A to Z was fun and I made some new on line friends and wrote something every day. And I am thinking of reworking a few of the posts and see if I can sell them to a children's magazine...
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I'm an over enthusiastic blogger. My Blogger blog, The Great Raven, is about books, mostly children's and YA books, which I review, writer interviews and guest posts. I love speculative fiction, especially space opera, but sometimes hard SF, and light fantasy like Terry Pratchett's rather than deep and meaningful heroic fantasy. It all turns up on my book blog. As I write this, I'm using it for the A to Z Challenge; my theme is "Spies and Spying". My other Blogger blog is "Sue Bursztynski's Page" which people tend to stumble across and comment on now and then, but I set it up as an experiment and these days mostly use it for my thoughts on my teaching.

My Livejournal is my general blog, for everything else going on in my life. This will be a bit of everything. Sometimes I'll copy and paste posts from here to The Great Raven and vice versa.

My first post will be about baking.

I have a passion for baking, though I'm just a decent amateur cook. You'll never see me in The Great Australian Bake-Off, or My Kitchen Rules. My philosophy is to get the maximum result for the minimum of effort. I will try a recipe that interests me, but if it takes too long or involves too many steps, I won't make it again. If it is something I'm willing to try again, I'll type it into my recipe files. That way I can get back to it and I can share it with anyone who asks.

Until recently I had no oven, my old one having died on me. For a long time I was working out how to avoid baking by using sort-of-baking recipes that you could make on the stove top or the microwave - and you'd be surprised how many those are! You can make pita bread in a frypan, for example, and crumpets.

Then I started to look for a convection oven - and a friend who had recently moved house to somewhere with a new kitchen said, "Here's one I bought on an impulse and never even opened the box. Have it."

I was back in business. I've been making bread, cake, biscuits(recently macaroons and amaretti for Passover), pizza. I have had to work out temperatures and how high the shelf should be. A convection oven has to be cooler than a regular one and my first few attempts were either burnt or soggy(my honey cake, dammit! An expensive cake, so it will be a while before I try again). But I think I've more or less got the hang of it. I will try muffins soon - haven't done those in years! And when I finish this post I'm going to make some Anzac biscuits, with Anzac Day tomorrow. If they work out, I'll make some more for my Year 7 students.

If you've followed me here from Livejournal, let me know and I'll make sure I follow you too.

Cheers!
Sue
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