Monday, April 30, 2007

The Old Writing Game

Yes! I have finally finished my Open University course (A174: Start Writing Fiction). It was only a 12-week unit but it seemed much longer. I chatted with fellow students on an online forum, we did structured activities and posted it there, and we critiqued each other's work. All the way through I was thinking Yes, I want to be a writer and get my first novel published. Can't start yet though can I? Oh no, first I've got to focus on completing the course, THEN I can start being a writer proper.
I went out and bought a nice notebook to serve as my writer's journal, and I've made notes in it (about the course activities). I've even got a smart new Waterman pen that I won in the raffle at a recent Embassy ball. That's right, once this course is out of the way there'll be nothing to stop me. There I'll be, sitting on the grass in the shade of a large oak tree with my pen in my hand, crafting a masterpiece before tea...

Well the course IS over now and reality is very different. I've come to realise that writing is all about motivation, discipline, and staying power. Since the course I've lost my principal excuse for not writing, so I've been coming up with new ones. I'll just make a cup of coffee and some toast, then I'll start.... I'll watch a movie first to get me in the mood... I'll go for a walk to clear my head. If I put into my writing all the energy and creative thought that I put into procrastinating I'd be a bestselling author by now.

This is so frustrating!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Lost in Translation, Episode Five

Check out this coffee set we saw in a department store:

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Brings a whole new meaning to, "pop round for a coffee" !

A Touch Of Class

It may be a false economy but I just bought another of those cheap-as-chips DVD players, like the one I bought for the lounge last year. This one is for the children's TV room, because the one we had in there (brought with us from UK, bought at Tesco, just as cheap and nasty) has finally given up the ghost after six years' faithful service.

This time I decided to break with tradition and not buy the new player from a supermarket. Instead I went to Extra, a big electronics superstore chain (a bit like Currys in UK), determined to step up a couple of rungs on the quality ladder. I failed totally. The first thing Karen and I saw when we entered the showroom was a big stack of boxes advertising a play-anything, anywhere Taiwanese DVD player for 189 Riyals (about £25). Just like my other one, this has a usb port and slot for a memory card on the front, so you can view your digital photos on the TV screen, and this one even has a karaoke function, although I have yet to play with that particular feature.

The brand name is 'Class'. Says it all really.

It looks identical to my ATC player. Even the setup menus are the same!

You Hi-Fi snobs out there may be thinking I'm wasting my money on this rubbish, and that I can't possibly expect to get the ultimate movie-watching experience with something so cheap. You may be right, but I don't care. It's good enough, and so cheap that I can keep my options open for when HD is ready for primetime.

Off to watch a movie now...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Workout Cook-out

I'm becoming a bit of a lard-ass.

Too much food, too much of the wrong kind of food. Too much to drink. Virtually no exercise. All of these add up to weight gain, and my trousers are starting to notice. We all know that clothes sizes can vary enormously and that one store's garments "come up small" or vice versa, but when that happens to me I'm very subjective in the way I react. If I buy a pair of 36" waist trousers and they feel loose, I kid myself that I'm losing weight, but if they're tight I blame the store for getting the size wrong. Guess I'm not unusual in that...

So, after a long break I went out Rollerblading the other day, just for a few minutes to get back into the swing (roll) of it, and today, for the first time in weeks, I actually feel like going out skating. Right now there's nothing I'd enjoy more than a good 30 minutes' vigorous skate around the Diplomatic Quarter to get my blood pumping and some fresh air in my lungs. Also we're going to a black tie ball tonight so a workout would be good prepartion for a big night out.

Trouble is, it's 45 degrees centigrade outside!

Blow it, I'll go anyway. If you don't hear from me I've probably keeled over from heat exhaustion!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lost in Translation Episode Four

Blimey, I not only remembered that in my last LIT posting I started using episode numbers, I also remembered the right number for this one... scary.

I had to shoot up to the DQ mini-mart last night to get supplies for the childrens' packed lunches, and by the checkout I found this flyer for a special offer at the local Italian Restaurant.

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Oh No! It's all in Arabic: drat. How am I supposed to find out all about this great offer now? Not to worry: the nice people at Scalini have had the foresight to print the English version on the back:

click to enlarge

So, that's made perfect sense of it! All I now need to do is find out how a vagannzzzaaaa buffet lunch differs from an ordinary one, and whether the whole family will like it prepared in a live flam way. Still, at least the moods of sauces are combined with my taste to the pasta of my kind. You can't say fairer than that, can you?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A174 late!

Well, I'm back home in Riyadh after a hectic few weeks, what with a two-week trip to the UK preceded by my nine-day trip to Salt Lake City for Novell's BrainShare conference.

I had a great time, but unfortunately I am now behind with my Open University course A174: Start Writing Fiction. There are just under two weeks to go in this twelve-week course, and I reckon I'm about two weeks behind on the coursework exercises.

The bit that really matters is the end of course assignment. That's the bit you get marked on, and also the bit with a firm deadline, so I'll make sure I hit that and get it in on time, even if it means leaving some of the later exercises to do in my own time after the course has finished.

Once it's all over I'll post some of my assignment work here too, and maybe you'll let me know what you think of it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Do not adjust your set.

We're having a fine old time in Edinburgh: seeing the sights, lots of walking, good food and even a dram or two.

But, we have no internet connection where we're staying, so blogging has been a no-no for the last few days.

I can send posts like this from my Blackberry but it' not the same: no pictures, and it makes my thumbs sore too.

Got lots of things to talk about and will try to write again by the end of the week.