Just watched Four Corners’ “Debtland” episode, a thoroughly disturbing report on the debt crisis facing Australian households.  I’ve not done any research, so I don’t especially want to regurgitate theirs, but it strikes me that in the face of what is considered an enormous economic boom we are facing terrible economic times on a personal level.  Here at Coode Street, things are stable, but not wonderful.  The day job is reliable and capable of supporting the family, though we are faced with some belt tightening.  Long distance work is proving less and less lucrative as the collapsing American economy guts the exchange rate.  We have some things going for us, though.  The house is in good shape, the mortgage is modest, and we have the capacity to increase income.  So, no panicking here.  Definitely strong moves towards frugality, sensible economic management and so on.  These are difficult times, and we’re doing okay.  It would be nice if more people in Australia were in the same position as we are.

Books, books, books….

I was talking with CHARLES on the weekend.  Up to that point I was focussed on short stories and such, happy with all that I had to read.  Suddenly I’m intimately aware that there are piles of novels too.  He was trying to decide whether to read the new Neal Stephenson, the new Paul McAuley, or one of handful of others.  I need to read novels!!!

A quick public thank you to Nicola Pitt at Orbit.  I need to drop her a private thanks for the present she just sent, but herewith a public one.  You’re wonderful.

REM accelerate….

There’s a cleanness to the sound of the new REM album. Buck’s playing is crisp and urgent. There’s energy and direction. You can hear it most obviously in “Supernatural Superserious”, which is this album’s “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”. The album also has the benefit of being short. About 35 minutes, I think. Sometimes, most times in pop, brevity is best. I sometimes think about listening to their live set to see if they overcome the muddiness of the past three studio albums, but I can’t quite bring myself to. It’s enough that, fourteeen albums in, they’re still alive. That they sound like they care, and that we might, is remarkable.

Listening to Elbow. Not mine.  The group. Has anyone else noticed how much these very serious Coldplay / Snow Patrol / whomever types all seem to sing just a little bit like Sting?  I have the flu.  It is doing its job most effectively.  Head is stuffed up, feel nauseated, and less than generous of spirit.  Dinner is being cooked, and looking out the patio door I can see six of the next door neighbours’ ten kids playing with Jessica and Sophie.  If I had more energy, I’d go look for stick.  Sniff.

Piscine disaster

So Orangey, who had been mauled by Tony the Tangerine Barracuda, died yesterday.  We’re a sentimental family, so now that Orangey is sleeping with the fishes, we set out to get a replacement.  We came home with an unnamed black molly, an unnamed speckled fantail, and a second water snail called Pliny the Younger.  You can guess who named him.  His job is to help keep Tony’s tank clean, which he seems to be setting to with vigor.  There’s little for him to explore, but hopefully he’ll cope as well as Geoffrey (aka Nyarlothotep) has over in the main tank.  Hmm. I think I can see a larger tank in our future.