SJB Gilmour Writes

…and rants and ruminates…

Category: My Two Cents

Three Star Reviews Are Bunkum

C’mon people.  Either you like a book or you don’t.  A three star review is the lit evuivalent of meh.  Let’s be honest.  If the book is meh, you’re not going to keep reading.  If you can’t finish it, it’s not a three-star; it’s a one or two at best.

Case in point – Now I know lots of people love it, but I can’t stomach Moby Dick.  I’ve tried.  I’ve given that damned thing multiple, I mean a good six or seven tries over the years, and I’ve never made it past the first ten or fifteen pages.  It’s boring!  I can’t keep reading it.  It’s MEH, and that’s why it gets a single star from me.

I confess I’ve rated books three stars, in the past, but really, I just can’t be stuffed any more.  It’s one, two, four or five.



I’m An Adult Now, Dammit

It’s taken me a while, but I’ve figured it out.  I know my brain hasn’t progressed much past the mental age of 16, and the body has kept going.  That happens to everyone.  Some things never change.  One of them is my sense of rebellion.  The thing is, I’m no longer rebelling against my parents… well not too much anyway.  Instead, the authority figure in my life who is now the target for my need to break the rules, is my doctor.

Every six months, she marches me into the nurse’s office, get said nusre to stick a hole in me, and then a week later, tells me my cholesterol is too high.  What do I do?  I go and eat more hamburgers.

Surely there must be some balancing effect here.  R & R is benefitial.  Whether it comes from massage, yoga, chocolate, or burgers, has to be good for you, right?  Granted the last two back there can be bad for you if you eat too much of them, but a little sure relieves the stress.

That’s my story, and I don’t care if I’m deluding myself, I’m sticking to it.


What I’ve Learned From Pintrest

I’ve been active on Pintrest for a few weeks now, and so far I’ve learned a few things:

  • There’s a chart for everything.  From diets, to gardening layouts, to exercise, to what you should before, during and after sex, to what to wear with what.
  • People will believe almost anything if it’s on the internet.  One pin even espoused the crushing of watermelon seeds, boiling them, then drinking the water as a way of dieting, while another told me to eat nothing but one hard-boiled egg a day for a month and “be amazed” and my weight loss.  Oh man, what a load of crap.
  • People love to pin and re-pin delicious-looking recipes in the hope others will think they’re masterchefs.  My mac ‘n cheese never looks anything like the touched-up little masterpieces on Pintrest, but the kids wolf it down like there’s no tomorrow.

One day, there’ll be a real-life version of PIntrest that will launch spectactularly, run for a short while until the users realise how mundane their lives are, then it will fall in a heap as those users swing back to perving vicariously at things they could, but will never, do.




I Get Where Veganism Starts, But Where Does It End?

Okay, now before I begin, just let me point out I’m not attacking vegans.  Not in slightest.  I don’t agree with them, but that has bugger all to do with this little piece.  I don’t agree with socialists, or just about every form of organised religion in which fanatical zealots are groomed either, but, like I said, I’m not attacking them.  Vegans, zealots, pinko commie bastards…  … they can all go their merry way and I’ll not lift a finger against them unless they try to shove their point of view down my throat.  Then we’d have a problem, but I digress…

Vegans used to be fringe dwellers.  Now, they’re pretty-much mainstream.  That’s fine.  I think I get veganism as a general ethic; don’t eat anything that was once a living animal, or came from an animal.  No meat, poultry, or seafood.  No dairy.  Okay, that’s cool.  But these can all be seen with the naked eye.

What if we look though a lens?  Take bread and beer.  They both use yeast.  Wine also uses a fermentation process where a living organism turns sugar to alcohol, and then dies in the process.  And don’t even start me on tofu or soy yoghurts.  The whole process is riddled with bacteria.

See the bubbles in the gunk in that jar?  (It’s not my jar, by the way.  I found the pic online, and pinched it for this post.).  That’s the gaseous byproduct (basically yeast farts), of yeast bacteria consuming flour, while living in the mixture of flour and water.  It’s a living thing, guys.  I have a similar, through less photogenic, container of gunk in my fridge.  We call it Walter.  I can tell by his smell, and viscosity how his health is.  I feed him every few days with more water and more flour.  He gets a mix of rye, wholemeal, and white flour.   Then, on weekends, I bake sourdough bread, and sometimes pizza bases for home-made pizza night.


Why do we call him Walter?  Well, one day I was describing how he lives, my youngest daughter, who had just recently been reading the series of books by William Kotzwinkle and  Glenn Murray, about a flatulent dog called Walter.  Miss5’s  (now6,), eyes lit up and she exclaimed ‘Like Walter The Farting Dog!’   Here’s another pic I nicked for this post:
Now, if wanted really not eat animals, or animal bi-products, I think I’d have tough decision to make when it comes to yeast.  It’s certainly not a plant.  Sure, it’s only a very simple organism, but it’s alive, and usually killed in the process of making some our foods like this:


I baked these loaves of light rye on Sunday.  They’re my lunch bread for this week.  Just food for thought…



I’m One Of THOSE Guys. Tha’s Why My Prices Are So Low.

Let’s do the maths together.

The cheapest plastic pots for seedlings I can buy in bulk is $0.162

Potting mix in 10KG bags is $3.95 (which makes up about 50 pots = $0.079

Water etc comes semi-free thanks to our grey water system.

The seeds cost about $1.00 per packet, thanks to The Seed Collection. Each packet holds about 100 seeds, I use about 2 seeds per pot, = $0.2

So, $0.162 + $0.079 + $0.20 = $0.441.

So, if my starting COGS is $0.441, and I want to get a decent return, I need to charge $0.85.  Mind you, some of the plants are totally free.  Tomatoes Of Mystery, Oregano, Mint, & Thyme cost me nothing, as I just dig them up out of my garden.  I’m also collecting Basil and Parsley seeds, and soon will be collecting Corriander.

Now, and this is where I’ve become one of those guys, I collect 75% of my pots by dumpster-diving for plastic drink bottles.  I cut them in half and drill holes in the bottom, and voila, I I have free pots that could have cost at least $0.162.  This makes the sum $0.0405 + $0.079 + $0.2 = $0.3195.

Now let’s also assume a good 25% of my herbs a self-sewn, I’ve propagated for free, the sum becomes $0.0405 + $0.079 + $0.15 = $0.2695. This means I can sell them for $0.50 and still quite well.

So, if anyone has a gripe about my prices, please feel free to take a swing at this calculation, and if you reckon you can beat it, let me know.

Oh, I’ve also got a vertical wall planter made from a recycled forklift pallet ready for sale:


Just $35, and it’s yours.  I can deliver it for an extra $20, anywhere within 20KM of Chadstone.  It’s poly-lined so your plants won’t die of thirst, and looks it and a bit on a wall when filled with your favourite herbs and or flowering plants.  I’ve advertised it on Gumtree, and Facebook here, here, here and here.

Weekdays, I’m open for business between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM, and weekends between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM.





Is It Just Me… …And Stay Safe Out There.

Is it just me or is there something sadly ironic about Nativity Scenes which represent a refugee Middle Eastern family being taken in, when that same Nativity Scene is in a country that is turning Middle Eastern refugees away from its borders?

I’m not pro any religion at all. If anything I’m more a Jedi or a Pastafarian.


 However, I just think wouldn’t it really be the Christian, or any truly caring religion’s (after all, radical zealouts aside, don’t most religions  preach a lot about peace and caring?), thing to do to, to take these people in, instead of locking them up?  I think it’s pretty clear that the loony terrorists are funded well enough that they don’t have to risk long boat trips only to be detained with nothing but the shirts on their backs.

Anyway, I’m off my soap box now.  I’d also just like to wish good tidings to everyone.  Please, please, please stay safe over the silly season.  One branch of House Gilmour’s extended family has already been struck by tradgedy this year and if I were a prayerful man, I’d be praying for them and everyone else right now.

So, for this holiday season, and for the new year to follow, May The Force be with you all.



Why I Don’t Like The Term “Strong Female.”

Now before you reach for the burning oil and pitchforks, lemme explain.  I don’t dislike strong females.  Quite the contrary.  I married one, I’m the son of one, and I’m doing my darndest to help  my two daughters become strong themselves.  I write about strong females in my fiction.  In real life, I enjoy the company of many I know in my personal and professional life.

What I dislike is that the adjective “strong” sets the females described apart from those who, by the definition,  are not.  Joss Whedon’s famous speech sums up pretty much how I feel, though with a bit more angst thrown in.

I write.  Some of my writings are short stories.  Some are full-length novels.  And, many of my protagonists are female.  They wouldn’t be much in the way of protagonists if they weren’t strong, now would they?  I’m almost tempted to try writing a story where my protagonist is a weak, dim-witted and hapless-though-incredibly-lucky, Mary-Sue…  oh wait.  Stories like that already exist, with both males and females in the lead roles.  They’re called comedies.

I suppose I could try my hand at comedy.  I’ve done science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, crime, paranormal, and adult fiction.  I have certainly had fun with some of the supporting cast in some of those writings which may count as comedy.  The problem is I’d probably write about a female funny character, and that could get me in all kinds of trouble.

Ahh, what the hell.  I might just give it a go.  I’ll let you know how I get on.


There’s An Election Coming And I Couldn’t Be Happier. Why?

Here’s why.  For me, even though I do have a preference, it’s not really about who wins or loses.  Aussie battlers like us have survived bad governments before, and we’ll survive them again if and when they come.  No, for me, and millions of other Australians, either born here or naturalised, it’s about the freedom to choose.  It’s about being part of a process many around the world cannot enjoy.

We call ourselves the Lucky Country.  Indeed, like many others we are.  We have freedom to vote.  More than that, we have the responsibility to vote.  This freedom; this responsibility, is one of the many reasons many of us, our parents, our grandparents and so on, fled other countries to come to this one.  Others still fought in wars, many to their deaths, so they or their families would be free.

My parents in-law fled Poland in the early eighties with just a suitcase and two young girls.  One of them became my wife and we are blessed with two beautiful daughters.  I cannot express my admiration for Babcia and Dziadek (Grandma and Grandpa in Polish) enough.

Generation after generation of Australians have similar stories to tell.  Sure, there’s still — thankfully — a strong indigenous population despite the awful things the early settlers and the resulting governments did to them.  But walk down your local shopping strip.  You’ll see faces of people from just about every corner of the globe, and you can bet your arse not all of those places allow (ed) their people the freedom to select who sits in the big chair.  Hell, even we didn’t give our indigenous peoples that right until relatively recently.  Thank goodness we’ve seen sense.  Not everyone is so lucky.

So, when ballot time comes, whether it’s here or anywhere else where free elections are held, don’t waste your right.  Be cynical about politicians of course; it’s what they deserve, but they don’t deserve to just march in and take over.  Only you can invite them.

Your freedom to vote was not cheap.  Don’t not vote.  Don’t donkey vote.  You have a voice.  You owe it to those who fought and or fled oppression for you to have that right.


Travel – Some Do’s And Don’ts

As part of my day job, I travel a bit.  Some is domestic, some is international.  I’ve been doing it a while now, and I reckon I’ve got a pretty good handle on things.  Here are my little lists of Do’s and Don’ts.


  • Travel LIGHT.  Pack your bags, then take out about half.
  • Cut out all your liquids and gels.  Really.  You can get most of them at your destination very easily.
  • Try to select your hotel close to places or things you might need, like train stations, and or a laundrette.  Trust me.  An hour or so at your standard fluff ‘n fold is worth it if it means you’re not carrying an extra suitcase.
  • Wear cargo pants on the plane.  Those big pockets are great for keeping phones, wallets, passports etc all on you in case you need to move quickly.
  • A hoodie is also a great item.  Just that little bit of coverage over your noggin can block out some sound and most of the light, making it easier to sleep.  It also tells the flight attendants you’re not to be disturbed.
  • Keep your shoes on at all times.  I travel in Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars.  They’re soft enough to sleep in, yet robust enough to wear anywhere.   And, I don’t have to take them off at airport security.  Even better, on long-haul flights, sometimes you need to use the bathroom in a hurry.  That’s not the kind of floor you want to stand on in socks or bare feet.
  • When it comes to security, C’MON, PEOPLE!  We all know the routine by now.  Don’t act so surprised; you’re not fooling anyone.  Get that laptop out.  And the phone.  And the wallet.  Take off that watch and those bangles (Why the fuck are you wearing all that shit on a plane anyway?), and your belt.  THEN go through security in a nice, orderly and speedy manner without holding up the folk behind you who have already done all the things you were supposed to do in the first place.
  • On the plane, avoid booze, and eat light.  Hours of just sitting there means you’re not burning off alcohol or calories.  You’ll feel better on the ground.
  • If you wear glasses, instead of packing your best pair, which might get busted on your flight, try to pack some cheap generic magnifiers you can get just about anywhere.
  • Pack a torch (flashlight).  In every hotel, the damned light switches are all over the joint, so a torch on your bedside table is very handy.  Same goes for on the plane.  If you drop something…  Who am I kidding?  When you drop something, or when you’re trying to find that damned laptop power outlet, a torch is bloody useful.
  • Pack only one or two international adaptors, but in your checked bag, pack a power board for all your devices.
  • If you have a smartphone, set your hotel location as home in whichever gps or map app you use.
  • Pack a pocket knife in your checked luggage.  Even better, put one of these babies on your keyring in your carry-on.  I’ve only ever had it examined once, and that was by a German security agent who then nodded in approval and gave it back to me!

And now for the DON’TS

  • On the plane, don’t keep your seat reclined while the poor bastard behind you is trying to eat.  Unless you’re flying in business or first, in which case do whatever the hell you want.
  • Don’t be a loud or annoying fucking chatterbox. Keep your voice down and let your fellow passengers be.
  • Don’t expect the country you’re visiting to conform to your customs at home.  Watch out for bike lanes on footpaths (sidewalks), look the other way when crossing the street, and for god’s sake, never EVER drive slow in the fast lane.
  • Don’t be the guy in the hotel breakfast room that everyone regrets sitting near.  Chew with your mouth shut.  Also, your breakfast is almost certainly not a bowl of noodles.  DON’T FUCKING SLURP YOUR FOOD!!!
  • In your hotel room, don’t leave your valuables lying about.  Either take them with you, or use the safe.
  • Do the math.  Hiring a car for a week might be easy, but if you’re travelling for work, the cost of a few taxi fares might be a lot cheaper than car rental.
  • If you must hire a car, don’t skimp on the insurance, even if you have great travel insurance.  If you can, get full insurance, just in case the folk signing the car back in are more attentive than those signing it out.
  • Don’t be picky when it comes to food.  The locals are surviving quite well, wouldn’t you say?  Whatever they’re eating isn’t killing them.  If the menu isn’t in English, just point at something.  Remember:  It’s.  On.  A.  Menu.  People pay to eat it.  It can’t be that bad, and you might just discover something new and nice.
  • Don’t engage in conversation with pan-handlers.  They often work in teams.  One may distract you while another might lift your wallet or relieve you of your suitcase.  A firm “No!” is all you need at the very most.  Simply ignoring them completely is the best.
  • When it comes to personal security, don’t for the love of God, walk through a busy train station with your headphones blaring while you’re hauling your luggage.  Being able to hear someone walking too close behind you can also prevent your stuff being stolen.

There.  That’s all I’ve really got, but it might help make your next trip a little easier.  Cheers!


I Know! I’ll Write The Most Objectionable Crap I Can, Offend Everyone, And Make A Fortune.

Duck!  Rant coming!

I’ve never met Professor Adam Swift.  Quite frankly, I hope I never do.  Even listening to him for 4:01 minutes makes me want to gouge out my ears with a spork.  If the anti-vaccers aren’t bad enough, along comes this guy, justifying his nonsense with the old “Oh it’s nothing new.  Even Plato was saying it!” rubbish.

Plato was wrong.  Getting rid of the family dynamic, even modern variations, and having all children raised by the state, is the worst possible idea I can think of.  That said, it could make classic dystopia (remember Logan’s Run, anyone?) so much more attainable than we thought.

Professor Swift claims parents who read to their kids are giving them an unfair advantage that is greater than the difference between sending kids to a private school instead of a public school.

We send The Wonderkids to a private school.  Why?  Because, well, duh!  We want our kids to have an advantage.  We want them to have the best possible education so they have more options available to them once they finish school.  We want them to be able to go on to University if they want to.

We wanted all this before Professor Swift came along…  Okay, Plato did come a long first, and maybe I could have read his stuff, but somehow, he’s never made it to my nightstand.

Her “What’s that book you’re reading, babe?”

Him “Oh, just a bit of light reading before bed.”

Her “Plato!?!”  (cue heavy breathing)  “Oooh, honey,, you are sooo deep!”

Gags all round.

Whenever possible, Superwife and I have always read to The Wonderkids.  We knew it was good for them, but we also treasure time we spend doing it.  Now, thanks to Professor Swift, I’m going to do more of it, for longer.

You may have noticed this post is relatively short on link links.  Just hold your horses, will you?  I’m getting to that, and the reason for my rather long-winded post title. He’s released a book in which he expounds this grand plan among other offensive rot.  To top it all off, it’s priced at $28 and change.  I’m not going to buy it, and I’m sure as hell not going to read it unless someone hands me a copy they’re pinched borrowed.  But some people will pay for it.  Probably enough people will be so offended by his opening teasers that they’ll happily fork over the moolah to be further offended, not really realising they’re playing right into Swift’s hands.

Don’t buy his bullshit theory, and whatever you do, don’t buy his book.