Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ákat - as constructed by logoscript

This is an Ákat sentence, as rendered in the Ákat logographic script:

Want to know what it means?

Well, over the past few months I've been conducting an occasional teach-in on this very question over at the Scriptorium website, and tonight I've made the post that completes the exercise. Of course, the thread isn't finished - the above example is fairly simple. Next up, we'll be tackling this little bugger:

And people though Hallowe'en was scary stuff!

People occasionally ask me why I bother to conlang - invent my own languages. My response is simple: it's art. In fact, I think conlanging is where a person can really come to terms with the English language: who needs the Avant Garde poetics'n'stuff when you've got conlanging, huh?

It's ART! Enjoy it!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NaNoWriMo 08 ...

... starts on Saturday.

I've decided that this year I shall cheat, just like I cheated last year. By which I mean I will finish writing a book rather than write the first half of a new book. In fact, I shall attempt to finish the Rik's Blog Story thingy I was posting to this very blog earlier this year.

It shall be fun.

You have been warned!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mood music ...

... courtesy of Matt Bianco:

And just a bit more, as I'm in that sort of mood:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

On a brighter note ...

I got an email today from those hard-working folks over at the Shit Creek Review letting me know that they have decided to nominate my poem Coots (published in their inestimable tome last September) for Sundress Publications' Best of the Net thingy.

Many thanks, guys! That email really helped cheer me up - even if nothing comes of the nomination, it's greatly appreciated!

Alan David Roots

My brother Alan died at work last week; his funeral was yesterday.

I had the honour of writing his eulogy, which the vicar read out yesterday to over 100 mourners - family and friends from the village, the marsh and further afield.

Alan David Roots
20 June 1955 - 7 October 2008

In the front garden of the house in Orgarswick Way where Alan was born, you can find a stone with the following poem inscribed on it:

"He sits amongst the summer flowers
and only counts life's sunny hours;
for him dull days do not exist,
the brazen faced old optimist."

If ever a poem could describe a man, this poem describes Alan David Roots, whose life we have gathered here today to commemorate.

Alan was born in Dymchurch in June 1955, the fourth child and third son of Anne and Walter. The family was part of a tight community: Alan was baptised in this church and would later sing in its choir. He went to school at Dymchurch, and later New Romney. He never left the Romney Marshes for more than a few weeks at a time - this was his place, his home. He was a true Marshlander.

The defining moment of Alan's life came when he was just six years old, falling seriously ill with diabetes. For thirteen weeks Alan was hospitalised by the disease, where he became known - infamously - as the "red devil" for his constant running through wards and corridors in his bright red dressing ground, causing havoc and laughter in equal measures.

But it was not the disease that defined Alan, rather it was his determination to own his disease - to bend it to his will and not let it rule him - that made him the person that many later came to know and love.

Alan could never stick to a diabetic diet. He always preferred real chocolate over diabetic chocolate. And while his iron will on these matters led to some close medical shaves over the years (and worry for his Mother and siblings), nobody could overrule his determination to live his life as he saw fit.

At school, Alan discovered a passion for football, and for one team in particular - Manchester United. His greatest dream was to become United's goalkeeper. And while such dreams were not to be, Alan did win a national newspaper competition when he was seventeen; his prize was to travel to Old Trafford to watch United play, and to meet the team afterwards.

Beyond school, Alan was active in a number of areas, for instance joining the Army Cadets where he made the rank of Corporal. But his main love was exploring the marshes around the village - fishing, shooting, watching. He also took great pleasure in the beach and the sea, and was featured on one of the Dymchurch postcards in the 1970s leading a line of donkeys across the sands.

It's reasonable to say that Alan was fairly accident-prone as he grew up. He crashed his bicycle several times - once memorably managing to destroy the side of a car with the cricket bat he had wedged in the handlebars of his bike.

Driving was another of Alan's passions. Once he had learned to drive, little could stop him from getting behind the wheel and heading off - if only down to the local shops. He owned and drove a number of different cars over the years, but was particularly proud of his black sports car with its rigid plastic bucket seats.

When the time came to choose a career, Alan decided to train as a chef. Unfortunately, the heat and pressure of working in big town kitchens affected his diabetes - though in later life he returned to catering, working in a number of small hotels and pubs both in Dymchurch and further afield.

If there is one pub in particular that Alan will always be associated with, it's the Ocean Inn. He drank there, he worked behind the bar and in the kitchens there, he played darts and cards there, he was actively involved in the formation and running of the pub's very own football team.

Alan loved people. He was always interested in meeting new people and catching up with other people's news. The needs of his friends was often more important to him than his own needs. He couldn't stay angry with anyone for long - friendship always trumped emnity in Alan's view of the world.

For a short while, Alan even represented the people of Dymchurch on Shepway District Council - nominally as a Liberal Democrat Councillor, though he had little time for tribal Party Politics.

Alan worked at Portex for over 25 years - he has a clock for long service from the firm to prove it; later he got a job as a warden on the Hythe Ranges - a job that allowed him to indulge his interests in bird-watching and ship-spotting.

It was at work, on the ranges, where Alan died, from a massive and totally unexpected heart attack. That he died so quickly and painlessly can only be a small consolation to those he leaves behind: Anne, his mother; Paul, Shirley, Andrew and Richard; his many uncles and aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces. His many, many friends and colleagues.

We shall never forget him; and it is with our deep love and gratitude for his time in our lives that we send him, reluctantly, into God's loving embrace.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rik's occasional PLM post

PLM, in case you're wondering, stands for "Poor Little Me". Join me as I wallow in my current fit of blue vapours ...

23 Sept - Maisie's funeral has been arranged for 26 Sept; we'll miss it as we'll be on holiday. Guilt trips ensue.

24 Sept - Off to Cyprus. They've shrunk the airline seats (again); the plane dinners continue to worsen in quality (thank you, Monarch Airlines); departure from Gatwick is almost as chaotic as arrival in Pafos. At least the apartment is nice and roomy.

25 Sept - Limassol sucks big time. Everything is expensive; the quality of the food is limited; every other nightclub is topless. At least we can console ourselves with the entire series 3 of Desperate Housewives.

29 Sept - Today it rained all day. On my birthday. In Cyprus. Not that we could do much: we both have food poisoning from the alleged taverna we visited the night before. At least we can console ourselves by watching the entire series 1 (new version) of Doctor Who.

1 Oct - the coach taking us on our day trip to Famagusta never turned up to collect us. Thank god for Vicky (our tour rep) who argued with the company and got them to send a taxi to collect and race after the coach - we finally boarded the bus on the motorway 10 miles from the borders. Even so, not enough time in Salamis or Famagusta to make the day really enjoyable.

2 Oct - Off to Pafos for a couple of days, travelling under our own steam. An adventure! With very uncomfortable seats. At least the apartment is nice and roomy, if a little jaded at the edges.

3 Oct - My partner gets an excellent birthday - Tombs of the Kings, mosaics, the works! The best day of the holiday so far!

4 Oct - We decide to take the regular bus service back to Limassol. When we finally find the bus station and ask when the next bus leaves, we're told "Monday". Aaargh! These people can't even organise a bus service on this bloody island! Luckily we manage to contact the service taxi firm and get a seat on their next run - which takes a very scenic route lasting 3 hours.

5 Oct - Our first burn day on the beach. We get burned. Very burned. Ouch!

7 Oct - Our second burn day on the beach lasts all of 40 minutes. Bloody clouds! At least we go home tomorrow.

8 Oct - Package travelling back to Gatwick. The airports at both ends are even more chaotic than the outbound journey. Two bastards checked their bags in but never bothered to get on the plane. Bastards! Another hour added to the pleasure of sitting in too-small seats on the planes while they remove the unwanted bags from the hold.

8 Oct - Back home - finally at 10pm. Cups of tea; rummaging through mail; listening to voicemail messages. Two phone calls from Mother - she sounded distressed so I phone her back.

8 Oct - My brother Alan died at work on Tuesday (7 Oct). Probably a heart attack. Very quick. Mum's distraught on the phone. Alan was 53 years old. What sort of fucking age is that for keeling over dead at work?

9 Oct - To Dymchurch by train. Hugs for Mother. Answering the endless phone calls. Talking. Arranging. Numb, numb, numb!

10 Oct - Sorting through my brother's papers - office work; easiest for me to do as I have the experience for it. Then visiting his home to search for more stuff, start sorting, start packing, start feeling again. In the evening I decide to go for a drink down the pub - but can't walk through the door. This was Alan's place, he won't be there tonight. Not ever again. This isn't a fucking joke.

12 Oct - Back in London and checking my money. Is there a crisis in the money markets? Probably: that bastard financial advisor who told me how to invest my redundancy money might not have given me the best advice. I wanted a deposit account; he sold me an investment plan. Eight thousand quid gone. It's nothing. My brother's dead: why worry about money when there's bigger perspectives to consider, yes?

ps: Maisie's funeral lasted all of 10 minutes. Some people in this world are more fucked than me, it seems.