Gegenschein 84 February 1999

Due North

A minor trip, and a short distance this time, being an account of a week driving Jean's vastly overloaded little Ford Festiva from Sydney, where I have lived almost all my life, to Airlie Beach in tropical North Queensland.

I spent my last week at work in July 1998 trying to find time to identify things to take home. Mostly books I'd overlooked, but there were gadgets I'd taken in over the years. Didn't work all that well. There was the end of semester lunch, and some partying after work. There was a lunch with Christina and Raymond from Action Computers. There was a farewell lunch for me on Friday 17th July, and some partying afterwards. The presents were most appropriate, and apparently suggested by my former partner Martin, who had left more than a year before; beach towels, and a large beach umbrella, which I fitted in the car with some difficulty when I finally did get home.

The quantity of "generic stuff" at home was more than considerable, despite various sales, two combined parties and sales, and lots of throwing out. I stuffed it all downstairs, somewhere, with an unfortunate quantity in the formerly empty garage from which all our stuff had been taken to Airlie Beach. I filled the entire back room with stuff to pack in the car; that wasn't a good sign. Emptying the water bed took so long that I couldn't pull it apart until the last morning. Then I discovered one of the downstairs room doors wouldn't lock, so I stacked lots of junk against the inside of it, and used the other door instead. There will need to be a final sale sometime of what remains.

Finally left Faulconbridge around midday on Monday 20th July 1998. Even the passenger seat was full, although I stopped and mailed the 21 kilograms of stuff filling it on the way out of Faulconbridge. Since the car didn't give any problems, I figured it couldn't be too much overweight, but I tended to keep to a cautious pace as I headed towards Sydney. Had to travel nearly 40 kilometres that direction before picking up the freeway north. Stopped at 2:45 at Wyong, 142 kilometres from home, and had a late lunch on cookies left over from my parties. The weather was poor, a wet, cold, dreary day, with fog everywhere. I really felt Sydney was giving me the proper type of farewell to keep me away for a long time.

The Pacific Highway lead me to Newcastle, but a strange pattern of streets soon had me lost and having to backtrack, not made easier by one way streets each time I wanted to head in a convenient direction. I stopped before 6 p.m. at Karuah, some 284 kilometres from home, staying at a slightly overpriced $45 cabin at the Karuah Jetty Village caravan park. Back through the rain at the highway, the restaurant at the Karuah RSL provided a very reasonable $8 roast lamb and vegetables, which was as close as I could come to health food in the place. Another rainy night, and I slept poorly with the noise of rain on the roof.

The shower I had that morning consisted almost exclusively of mist. It wet my hair fine, but evaporated before reaching my toes. Strangest shower I've ever seen.

Fourteen kilometres from Karuah, I came upon one of the stranger restaurants I've seen, done in the shape of Ayer's Rock. Must be something about that area. I snacked through the day on stuff from home, including Trolli Sour Gummi Beans, a very strange candy given me by Christine Nicholls for the trip (not bad, but where did she find them?) Some people were more organised. I saw a bunch of people camped outside Karuah, setting up what appeared a fine breakfast.

I turned off to the right and headed for Myall Lakes and Tea Garden, figuring I might as well look at beaches on the way up. Ocean Beach, just past Hawkes Nest, looked ok, despite the overcast conditions. A very helpful Tourist Information person at Bulahdelah, in the Great Lakes Visitors Centre, suggested driving along The Lakes Way. At their suggestion, I diverted to visit Sugar Creek Toymakers, an interesting toy shop, art gallery and cafe, where the owner hand makes wooden toys on his lathe. That was about 35 k from Bulahdelah. Lots of good views of the lakes to the right as you drive.

I turned off down a very muddy private side road to visit Sandbar. I eventually reached a caravan park with unfriendly looking signs, so I took my non-business away, and soon spotted the road I should have taken to the left, through a gate, and past a private golf course. There was a really nice littoral rain forest, with a newly constructed wooden boardwalk through to the Sandbar beach. I won't say the mud road was wet, but upon my return, two ducks were swimming in it.

By the time I reached Bluey's Beach there was a bit of sun, and I was feeling much more optimistic about the trip. At Kew, the 540 kilometre point, I turned off for the scenic drive via Laurieton and Port Macquarie. I stayed the Tuesday evening at the Star Motel south of Coffs Harbour, about 730 kilometres from Faulconbridge. The motel was newly taken over, and had been fairly run down, but was comfortable enough. What I lacked was dinner. I walked kilometres seeking someplace either open, or selling something I regarded as real food. McDonalds and KFC didn't count, as far as I was concerned. As on Monday night, I spent the evening reading the last box of Science News, and pulling out the interesting articles.

Wednesday 22nd July, and knowing there was scant food around for breakfast, I improvised up baked beans on toast from my rapidly diminishing left overs. I was delighted to find the old toaster in the motel still worked. I always like the old fashion kind (which Jean hates, and finally managed to dump when we moved), because you can repair them with a piece of nichrome wire. The fault with this one was no handle for the doors, so extracting the hot toast was a bit of an adventure. You can't win, of course. Cabins at caravan parks have no bed linen, but usually fine cooking facilities. Motel rooms generally have rudimentary cooking facilities (although they always have a fridge, and generally an electric jug and a toaster).

I drove to the local mall, got a bread roll to supplement breakfast, and then checked out Park Beach, north of Coffs Harbour. Of course I had to stop at that great tourist attraction, the Big Banana plantation, three kilometres past Coffs Harbour on the left. It had Disneyland tackiness, but is clean, has the nice little tourist trains, and souvenirs, a skyway, a cable flyer, a craft shop. Sure expanded since I last went through, probably more than a decade ago.

Turned right at Moonee Beach, and walked along the headland to get some photos of the deeply cut bay and sandbars. I went into Woolgoolga township, to see if I could spot anything I recalled from when I had stayed there as a child. Couple of places that might have been there, but most of it didn't raise any memories at all. Several things were new. The wonderful Sikh temple on a hill by the highway, looking beautiful in the sunlight. There were several Indian restaurants nearby, further along the highway, the Raj Mahal was by far the most decorative.

About 50 kilometres past Balina I stopped at Little Italy. A fine clean Italian industry pavilion, with an extensive history of Italy. The museum covered Italian settlement in the area since the 1880s. There was also a new Aboriginal Arts and Crafts centre, with a stereo playing rock and roll. Finally got back to the coast, past Balina and Lennox Point, where you could see the broad sweep of Byron Bay.

I stayed the night at the Calico Court motel outside Tweed Heads. Missed a bet there, as the hotel next door offered a spa as well. Took a 90 minute walk, but still couldn't really find suitable food.

By Thursday morning I was nearly 1100 kilometres from Faulconbridge. No rush now, as I had to meet Jean at Brisbane airport that afternoon. Wandered slowly along the coast, towards Surfers Paradise, via Palm Beach, Miami, Burleigh Heads and Southport. I arrived early at the airport, as it was only about 1200 kilometers from Faulconbridge. Parked on the outskirts until slightly before Jean's plane was due, and then went to their expensive car park.

I was able to start getting my mobile phone charged at the airport, but didn't need it as Jean spotted me as soon as she emerged from Qantas flight 881.

We got lost on the Sunshine Coast. We got lost in Noosa, but finally located the Noosa International Hotel, where Graeme and Susan Cohen were expecting us. Graeme is the deputy head of the School, and had suggested we drop in since they were in the area for a week. Had a good visit with them, ate at an Italian restaurant, and were shown over pretty much the entire town that evening and the next morning.

On Friday 24th July, having covered 1435 kilometres from Faulconbridge, we set out around midday, and promptly got lost in Noosa again. Eventually we got back to the highway, and made good time until we stopped at the Matilda truck stop, between Coogum and Gympie. We had some nice salad and settled down in the park, only to be mugged by a flock of renegade geese, who obviously didn't believe my threats that they could be turned into dinner if they didn't stop trying to steal lunch. "Don't let them see fear", I said to Jean, as she stood on top of the picnic table to escape them.

We reached Bundaberg rather too late for a tour of the rum factory, so after some searching, we settled into the Park Lane Motel. We had noticed that Sizzler Restaurants hadn't completely disappeared in Queensland since their unfortunate financial problem, so we partook of their salad bar. At last, the right sort of food! And I'd only had to travel 1672 kilometres to find it.

Saturday morning after breakfast, we made good and sure to get to the Bundaberg Rum place nice and early, so we could take the tour, buy the discount bottles, and get photos of each other standing by the giant bottle. We even got a book on the history of the place, which included the definitive wording of the song. US fans, ask Joe and Gay Haldeman to sing it for you at some con - they learnt it maybe 20 years ago (and I have the cassette to prove it).

God made the sugar cane grow where it's hot
And teetotal abstainers to grow where it's not.
Let the sin bosun warn of perdition to come.
We'll drink it and chance it, so bring on the rum.

Bundaberg rum, and it's overproof rum
Will tan your inside and grow hair on your bum.
Let the blue ribbon beat on his empty old drum
Or his waterlogged belly but we'll stick to our rum.

We're men who drink it, oh yes men indeed
Of the bushranging hairnecked olden time breed,
We shave with our axes, we dress in old rags,
We feed on old boots and we sleep on old bags.


Dull care flies away when our voices resound
And the grass shrivels up when we spit on the ground,
When we finally die and are buried in clay
Our bodies are pickled and never decay.


On the Morning of Judgment, when the skies are rolled back,
We'll stroll from our graves up the long golden track,
And our voices will echo throughout Kingdom Come
As we toast the archangels in Bundaberg Rum

Chorus (and repeat chorus)

In response to all this excess, we had a salad lunch at Sizzler, and then back to the road. Unfortunately about five kilometers before the Gin Gin turnoff onto the Bruce highway, we hit a pothole and blew both left hand side tyres. Given how loaded it was, we were lucky that the car didn't do anything dramatic as Jean moved it to a stop beside the road. Luckily we were in cellular phone range so a while later it was on a trailer and the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland tow truck driver had found us an open garage with tyre. When we set off again, we discovered the new tyres didn't actually fit. Well, they scraped one side of the wheel well at the rear, so it was back to town to have all the tyres moved, so the new ones (a different profile) were on the front. The car didn't behave all that badly with its mismatched tyres, but we eventually replaced them with the correct profile (which took a week or so to obtain at Airlie Beach).

Didn't get real far that day, and ended up staying at the Ambassador Motor Inn at Rockhampton that evening. Set off to look for food on foot, and had a long walk before returning to the Sizzler we had bypassed earlier due to the large queue.

Sunday 26th July we awoke early due to what sounded like renovation noises in the motel. We toured the Central Queensland University campus before leaving the area. Lunch at a busy service station at Camellia, where we had some great salad sandwiches, so large I could barely finish my second one. Reached Mackay around 2:30, discovered the Frahm's Solar World store wasn't open, and decided to push on to reach home before dark.

Finally got to Airlie Beach, after about 2500 kilometres, around 5:30. Then it was many trips up the stairs to unpack the car, and add its loot to my totally overcrowded shambles of a room here. We shot off to the Sailing Club for dinner, rather than even trying to make something.

It wasn't until several weeks after I arrived that I managed to finally unpack most of the boxes of books, build the eleven bookcases that are all I can find space for, and get the confounded 157 boxes (mostly) off the floor and into some sort of order. I still had a half dozen boxes here not unpacked a month of so after arriving. But the table is built, and painted to match the surroundings, drawer units are in place, plastic filing cabinet assembled, and I'm gradually starting to find places to put everything.

Flap and Zap

It seems I neglected to mention in recent issues that I had the same "flap and zap" laser eye surgery as Jean. She had it in 1997, and I had it in late February 1998, just prior to returning to work. Like hers, mine was done by Dr Michael Lawless, at the Sydney Refractive Surgery Centre Pty Limited at Chatswood, who are one of the oldest such outfits doing LASIK excimer laser eye surgery in Australia. One of the three doctors there turned out to be the son of my old boss, Dr Gerard Sutton (now Vice Chancellor at Woolongong) at the University. Recently I found that Dr Lawless had become the first non-US President of the International Society of Refractive Surgeons.

I've been very happy with my results. Very little discomfort after the 15 minute operation. I no longer need glasses for distant vision, although I suspect I could possibly gain a little more if I were to get a pair. I was good enough to drive legally the morning after the operation, and things have simply improved ever since. I was told that I would need glasses for close up, and to some extent that is true, however even for close up, if there is sufficient light I can manage to read newspapers without my reading glasses. Before the operation I couldn't see anything more than 6 inches past my nose. SRSC had a web site at, but have now expanded and changed their name to The Eye Institute. URL

Top of Page

Life at Airlie Beach

Saturday 22nd August 1998 marks the end of my first month of being here at Airlie Beach. In the furniture department, I have made eleven bookcases, which is pretty much all I can fit in here, unless I can figure how to squeeze one more into the entrance. Finally got my computer unpacked, and the removable drive chassis fitted, and started installing all the software I wanted to try. As you can see, enough is done to at least prepare web pages. I remain in total awe of anyone who can move houses without finding it a totally traumatic experience. I wasn't even all that impressed by the week long drive up here from Sydney, although I did visit a bunch of neat beaches on the way.

I thought I would comment about what a terrible day I had, so that you all realise that my life isn't all beaches and bars. Normally I set off around 6 a.m. for a 40 minute walk along the beach path. If I go much later than that, the sun gets in my eyes during the walk. Today it was overcast, and there was some rain (as is traditional every Market day). Instead I installed the software for my sound card, producing frowns from Jean, who dislikes any computer that produces any noises. Given her one makes horrible grinding noises from its fan, I find this attitude perplexing, to say the least.

I wasn't in the finest of form, since I'd had a very good time at the Friday night free wine and cheese tasting at the Jubilee Tavern. Even the 25 minute walk home hadn't entirely neutralised the effects of all that cheese ... well, that is my excuse.

We shared the last grapefruit and banana, and had good old Aussie WeetBix and honey for breakfast, before I washed down my assorted vitamins and heart medicines with fresh orange juice.

By then it was eight, and time to walk down the stairs to the beach path, and the Saturday morning markets. As was traditional every market Saturday, it was overcast and threatening rain. Being the middle of winter, we had to bundle up with long trousers, and wear socks and shoes, although we didn't actually need a coat or jumper over our T shirts.

At least we weren't getting the mail. Jean once decided that the "direct" route to the Post Office included us wading along the beach with the little waves washing over our feet. I'm not exactly sure how the ocean got between us and the Post Office. I'm more a "let's check the mail as soon as it arrives" person. I may have mentioned that there is no mail delivery to Whitsunday Terraces, and indeed no mail boxes here either. Some other resorts did have mail boxes, so one day we may agitate for mail boxes. It does explain why we have a PO Box, and don't use a street address.

The local hippy who makes sand castles and dragons and other beasties on the beach during tourist events was only a little way into a fairly minor castle when we wandered along the beach path, so I reminded myself to come back and check progress later. There was no sign of the folks who had fresh coconuts this weekend.

We collected our weekly supply of seven super juicy grapefruits ($2.80) and passionfruits ($1 for 5) from the locals, plus fresh baked apple pies ($1), and I cheated and got a few lamingtons, while Jean got a fresh quiche. Today we managed to resist the macadamia salesman with his hot honey roasted macadamias. Jean stood in the queue at the general vegetable stall for tomatoes, corn, capsicum, lettuce and cucumber while I got a jar of local honey. We still had plenty of home made jams and conserves from previous visits. A quick stop at the local convenience store on the way back for milk and bread, and then up the many steps. Between us we had about 20 kg of provisions in our backpacks! (We checked by weighing the packs when we got home.)

It was warmer by the time we got back home so I changed into shorts and sandals. Being fairly high on a hillside, we get nice through ventilation, since the entire front of each of our rooms open onto the balconies. If we open the back door we tend to get a fairly decent wind tunnel effect if there is any breeze at all. If that isn't enough, we have ceiling fans and air conditioners, but being winter, we haven't needed them since I arrived.

I continued doing apa mailing comments, and pointedly ignored the newly found box of electronic components I really should unpack. I'm also pointedly ignoring the last six boxes of books I should unpack. I figure unpacking 151 boxes in a month is enough unpacking. The rest can wait a while.

During much of the past few weeks we had been entertained by the Hobie 16 World, a bunch of boat races (for which we didn't know the rules). We had a fine view from our balcony, so we tended to waste a fair bit of time watching the colourful sails through binoculars, and speculating on just where the course started and ended.

A pair of very bright and pretty rainbow lorikeets have been visiting our balcony and demanding to be fed. They were happy enough with breadcrumbs, but really seemed to like a mixture of honey and water. Mind you, we do have to clean a lot of bird poop of the balcony. They are said to be fruit eaters, but so far have rejected banana and rockmelon. Unfortunately, they fight all the other rainbow lorikeets, and one has decided his territory includes the whole row of balconies on our level, so they hop from one to another demanding tribute. Just as well the bush turkeys and the peacocks can't fly!

Feeding the lorikeets reminded us we were hungry. Chicken and salad for lunch for me, while Jean had quiche and salad. If I were a lorikeet, I wouldn't trust large people who eat chicken.

I'd been complaining about my NEC bar fridge, since the door didn't seal properly. It was leaving a gap I could shove a piece of cardboard through. While showing this fault to Jean, the entire door fell off in my hands. I was not impressed about having to unscrew the hinges and reseat the door, especially when I discovered there were only two screws holding it on, instead of the three the hinge seemed designed to take. My NEC Sportz II analog phone had died last week, although that was second hand, and I'd had to pay $60 to replace it with a second hand Nokia 100. I rather like the service I got from Nokia; the phone store didn't have a manual, but gave me Nokia's free number, and when I asked, Nokia sent me a complete manual for this obsolete second hand phone. A few months previous, my NEC TV had died, a few weeks out of warranty. You can bet NEC are now on my shit list.

We had hoped to see the partial solar eclipse, but light clouds prevented us from doing any viewing when we went for a walk. We walked down the road, and paused to admire the peacock that was diverting traffic by gobbling food at the edge of the road. For its part, it ignored us, even though we passed close enough to step over its tail. There are about a half dozen peacocks that wander around Whitsunday Terraces. It is a wonder they don't fall in the swimming pools or the spa. The spa near our building must be a constant menace to drunks also, as it is planted right in the middle of one of the paths and isn't fenced.

Magnum's pub had Peacemaker, an action adventure, as the first afternoon movie, so I dropped in and watched it on their projector video over a pitcher of beer. So much for getting away from movies!

TV reception in Whitsunday Terraces is pretty pathetic No SBS at all anywhere in the area. ABC is OK, and still on the same frequency. The three commercial channels are all on translators, all are frequency changed, so you have to retune your TV or VCR, and only 9 can be received reasonably, with 7 marginal and 10 mostly unviewable. The wiring to the units is pretty pathetic also, so I don't know how much of the problem is the old wiring and how much is the translators. The body corporate are talking about putting in cable (they seem to think guests need this), but the rewiring alone would be in the order of $40,000, so I gather there is some minor contention about this. I don't recall that there was ever much worthwhile on cable TV in Australia in any case, although it could hardly be worse than free to air. I joined the local Video Ezy, and got one of their 90 cent overnight videos once, and I'll probably do that again every week or so.

After dinner I wandered around town again, starting to break in a new pair of sandshoes, checked whether any of the pubs had anything interesting on (they didn't), and climbed the stairs again.

Sitting in the spa is an attractive alternative to doing anything energetic. They have cunningly mounted the timer on the wall, so every now and then you have to jump out and push the button again. I haven't been into the swimming pool; it is winter after all.

Watched a terrible Asteroid movie, continued with this piece, unpacked my recently found box of electronic gadgets, and grumbled about how little I was getting done. Especially when it turned out that the new piece of Windows software I was using stopped me from printing a file more than 64k long (due to inadvertent side effects), and I had to revert to DOS and vi to print this. Windows, bah, humbug!

Green Power

After years of saying that there was no demand for sustainable energy production from solar or wind generators, a Sustainable Energy development Authority (SEDA) was set up. They sought public purchase of renewable energy, by persuading power companies to offer renewable energy to customers, at a premium price.

Possibly to their surprise, a reasonable number of customers were willing to pay extra to be supplied with renewable energy. There is an audit program to ensure that power companies actually purchase sufficient green power to cover sales. This has lead to a direct demand for green power generation systems.

At present Australia has an installed green power capacity of merely 13MW, however even this small amount is probably as high per capita as in any area of the world. And demand is increasing. In June 1998, all six NSW power retailers have green power on offer, as do two in Victoria and one in Queensland. More will doubtless join, since it is cost neutral for the retailers, and irate customers yell at them if they don't offer to supply. For retail users, they agree to either pay full cost, or they agree to round up their bills by a fixed amount and take that amount of green power. Lots of people are willing to make such a $5 to $100 gesture, whereas financing a full self sustained power system is far too costly for them. I personally doubt that more than 5% of consumers will pay a premium, but even this vastly increases green generating capacity, and helps bring costs down.

Energy Australia recently built a $2 million solar farm at Singleton, in the NSW Upper Hunter Valley. The largest mains connected photo voltaic grid connected system in the Southern Hemisphere, it is rated at 200kW and generates 250MWh per year. By the time this reaches anyone, capacity should be doubled. Energy Australia had previous experience with rooftop solar, and with the aid of a long term loan from SEDA, decided to increase their experience with a greenfield installation in a 1.25 hectare field next to a sewage plant (where industrial development potential was otherwise limited). The site did not require levelling, thus avoiding any dustbowl effects.

The mountings were fixed rather than tracking, to ease maintenance problems, facing north at 30 degrees to the horizontal. The 3,456 Solarex panels each have 36 polycrystaline cells and are rated at 60 watts. This is exported to the grid at 11kV after conversion to AC via a single 50kW and three 4kW inverters from Power Solutions Australia, and 34 4kW inverters from CSA. This enabled performance comparisons of various inverter options.

Even this small installation provided some interesting lessons. Like install during the cooler months, as working among the panels is far too hot in summer. There was also a concern with reflection from the array at planes landing at the local airport. The current update to 400kW includes bird guards, an automated security system with dial up facilities. The new panels are amorphous silicon from Canon, and they slide into the mountings, rather than being screwed on and wired.

Pacific Power did a conversion of a GM Holden Rodeo 2.3 litre 4 cylinder 5 speed manual gearbox petrol car to electric. They used a 15kW AC induction motor on a 200V battery system and no gearbox, with design and development by the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Sydney under a grant. The motor was a 4-pole squirrel cage induction job, 15kW continuous rating, 75kW peak, with 590Nm torque at 800 rpm and a maximum speed of 6000 rpm. They naturally used IGBT (insulated gate bipolar transistor) inverters with pulse width modulation and an 80C196 microprocessor controller. Regenerative breaking. Batteries were thirty two 6 volt maintenance free lead acid gel 160AH monoblocks. they had an on-board 200 volt charger for use with a standard 10 amp domestic power outlet.

The 1993 Aurora entrant in the across Australia Solar Challenge had some interesting design ideas. One related to the need to have each series connected solar cell receive the same amount of sunlight. This is a difficult trick when mounted on a curved car body. They overlapped the "buried contact" solar cells to provide a larger surface on curved areas than on flat, such that from above, each cell appeared the same size. The suspension suspended the car body from the triangular frame in which the wheels were rigidly mounted. The solar controllers came from Queenliness Stuart Watkinson, well known for power controller design.

Pacific Solar recently commissioned a pre-production pilot plant to make solar cells five times larger than its development centre could produce. They are thin film crystalline silicon on glass, with each cell 30x40cm. Commercial production expected by the end of 2000. The first factory will produce 20 mega Watt of modules a year, sufficient for 7000 homes. Each module will be about one metre square and include a modular inverter for direct wiring into the house mains.

Year 2000 Bug

It isn't a bug. It was a conscious (and correct) decision to save what was then scarce and valuable computer memory and processing, by having year dates occupy only sufficient space for two decimal digits, namely 00 to 99. The problem was, people didn't give up using the programs after a few years, while the people who wrote them were expecting to rewrite programs as needed.

Conceptually, solving Year 2000 problems is simple. Identify everything that uses a short date, and change it. The trouble is, many of the systems that will have this problem are no longer documented. There may well be no-one still alive who knows what was done with them.

Small business owners have the biggest problem, because they are responsible for solving the problem for their own business, but don't have the time and specialist knowledge to do so.

You could try to get insurance against Year 2000 problems, but most insurance companies haven't considered providing cover. Probably be expensive, if they do agree, and they will almost certainly demand a great effort at avoiding the problem. The insurance company I have my house insurance with now explicitly excludes anything relating to calendar problems from their house insurance policies.

You should write to all your suppliers, and the manufacturers of all the equipment you use, seeking assurances that there are no Year 2000 issues with their service or equipment. You may not like the answers, or you may not be able to get answers.

You can seek contracts with alternative suppliers, or fall back arrangements.

You can test equipment with known ways of changing dates, by doing so. Some problems dates may be 1st January 1999 (because calculations may range a year ahead - recall that for the past few years credit card expiry dates never exceeded 1999). 1st July 1999, because the financial year carries into 2000. Some people think 9 September 1999 may be a problem, as some old programs used 9999 as the end point for inputting data. Obviously 31 December 1999 and 1st January 2000.

Some programs will have the leap year wrong. The rule is every year divisible by 4 is a leap year, unless it is divisible by 100 when it isn't a leap year, but it is if divisible by 400. That makes 2000 a leap year. If you don't believe spreadsheets get this wrong, check how well your current spreadsheet does on February 29th 1900.

Incidentally, this is not a Millennium bug. The first year AD was year one, not year zero, so only 99 years had passed at 100 A.D. The Millennium occurs at midnight 31st December 2000 (however I'd suggest celebrating it on the incorrect earlier date anyway ... and have the true party on the real Millennium).

I briefly thought there might be some work to be had in patching Year 2000 code problems. However upon looking at the reactions from insurance companies and lawyers, I now believe the law suits will be flying. I wouldn't even give free advice on Year 2000 problems now, in case someone sues me.

Down to Earth

If anyone else were writing this, it would be about sensible advice. However I'm writing about whether your hifi amplifier should be earthed (grounded).

When I was young, all appliances were earthed, as a safety measure. The idea was that if a short developed between an active power line and the (metal) case, the current flow through the case to the connected earth would blow the fuse, thus protecting the user. In any case, high gain amplifiers seemed to essentially need an earth to reduce hum, and help decrease external electrical noise pickup. You did need to be careful about ground loops, but that simply meant having one master earth via the amplifier for the whole system. I wasn't the only one who thought that way. Jim Rowe, editor of Electronics Australia thought so, and so did Neville Thiele and Cyril Murray, who know more about speaker and amplifier design than I ever will.

If you double earth the amplifier, then the stray capacitance in the power transformer can cause the amplifier to `float' at a high voltage with respect to earth, which gives a real good chance of inducing hum via the pickup cartridge, cassette head wiring, etc. They do float. Connect a CRO or a digital volt meter between chassis and earth and see if that isn't true. As well, RFI filters don't work all that well if not connected to earth.

Now it is difficult to actually earth a double insulated appliance, according to Standards Australia regulation 3250, section 5.2, since Class II (double insulated) appliances must not be provided with an earthing lead. However, single insulation and earthing (Class I) are regarded as equivalent for safety reasons, so it is up to the manufacturer to decide which method to use. Speculation arises that two wire double insulated hifi is now more common because some designs originate in the USA, where two wire mains power outlets are common.

Personally I think dropping earthing is an incredibly silly idea.

Top of Page

Party List

Hobie 16 Races

Hog's Breath Cafe and Whitsunday Sailing Club put on a week of Hobie 16 catamaran races. There are a standard size cat, all absolutely identical, so only skill makes you a winner. Indeed, Hog's Breath supplied all the cats, all brand new, and they were assigned randomly to the teams. I learned later that they had pre-sold all of them at a good discount off the normal $10,000+ price, and shipped them all over the world the week after the races. I wonder how much of a deal they got for buying more than 60 at once?

We were nicely positioned to sit on the balcony with a cool drink and watch them through the binoculars. Would have been even better if we knew what the rules were, or precisely where the course ran. A few weeks later we got to watch the races again on TV during a sports show special.

When the prizes were awarded and the final set of parties were held, there was yet another set of fireworks in the evening, and as usual we had a box office view.

Hogs Breath Beach Party

Monday 7th September, way up the other end of town, where Hog's Breath backs onto the beach. But they were noisy enough to hear just about everywhere.

Whitsunday Vista Cup

Held September 10-11, with Maxi yachts like Matador, Condor, Apollo, Ragamuffin, Hammer of Queensland, The Card and Siska. The trouble with the maxis is that they rapidly zip out way towards the horizon. Fireworks from the Sailing Club in the evening, with bands and the works, and us with our usual fine view of it all..

Great Whitsunday Fun Race

Saturday 12th September. Actually there are races and parties the whole Fun Race week, commencing the previous Saturday. There were also more police patrols than I've ever seen before in the town. The Saturday night was decidedly the most active I've seen here.

Hair of the Dog

The 13th annual Hair of the Dog was held Sunday 13th September, the day after the Fun Race. Chicken and champagne breakfast at the Whitsunday Sailing Club, Airlie Beach hotel contributing specially labelled champagne. The party at Hook Island started when the racers arrived, and seemed to continue all over Hook and Airlie all night. The winner's name was drawn from a hat, and there were prizes for Best Galley Slave, Most Chaotic Boat and more. Race organiser was again Ding Fox.

Big Gig

End of September. A leukemia fund raising party, for Townsville General Hosptal, in conjunction with Whitsunday Sailing Club. Lots of neat fireworks, and bands until late in the night. We had a great view from the balcony.

Airlie Beach Party

This was a rock concert on the beach on October 17, organised by TNT backpacker magazine and Airlie Beach Backpacker's Association. Lots of giveaways for your $3 ticket, lots of noise into the Saturday night. Lots of beer on tap, with Victoria Bitter a co-sponsor. Lots of mess around the streets, but at least at the beach the council made the promoters organise a cleanup crew, and a dozen people were removing every trace of rubbish at dawn on Sunday morning. Well, all except the dozen or so people who were still asleep along the beach. We got to hear it pretty well up here, but they were only allowed to continue to midnight.

Oktoberfest at Reef Gateway

This excuse for German brass bands and German beer would have worked a lot better had it not been for the torrential rain. A tent big enough for 600 is all very well, but not when it rains.


Everyone had Halloween parties on Saturday 31st October. Hog's Breath was redecorated in Gothic, Charlies Sports Bar had changed all the street lights into Halloween pumpkins, Beaches had a party, as did Magnums. Tequila Willies chef had carved pumpkins. Even the staff at Brumby's hot bread shop were wearing black witches hats.

Burton's Circus

Burton's Circus was in town as well, with the big top directly across Boathaven Bay from our balcony. Performance at 7 p.m until late, and another one on Sunday afternoon. Couldn't stick around for the Sunday, since I had to pick up Jean at the airport at Mackay.

Melbourne Cup Day

Tuesday 3rd November and every place in town was having a party, or special food event for lunch. All at pretty silly prices, given you can pick up a $3 roast or fish and chips, with a (small) pot of beer included, for lunch most days.

Books Read

As usual, much of what is appearing is bad fantasy, masquerading as science fiction. I suspect some of these authors, like Harding, just don't know the difference. Others, like Harland, know the difference, but it doesn't concern them at all. Both at least know how to tell a story, but it is a Hollywood type of story, with a seeming lack of internal consistency. Movie magic novels.

Acts of Conscience by William Barton

Warner, Feb 1998, 386pp, US$5.99

Competent twenty sixth century orbital mechanic uses the nanotech tools of his civilisation well, but his social life is not going well. Corporate power plays and lucky investments leave him owner of a faster than life spaceship. He starts travelling the universe, following a childhood dream, but as he sees how humans have destroyed alien cultures, his dreams begin to die and he wonders if the human race is worth saving.

He is not the only one to wonder. An incredibly old race is contemplating using the weapons of a 400 million year old war to wipe out all humans.

While some sections flag, overall this is way ahead of most sf novels in looking at tough questions.

Slant by Greg Bear

Tor, June 1998, 505pp, US$6.99 A$14.95

Set in the USA in the 2060's, this reminds me of Brin's Earth in terms of the realistic feel of the society and technologies. Nanotech is a well established, mature technology. Disease is all under control. Workable psychological methods, based on nano monitors, allow everyone working beyond their natural limits to remain mentally stable. The workday pressure on many people is so intense that these techniques are needed. However there is still prejudice in favour of "naturals". Artificial intelligence works, and there are a small number of (exceedingly expensive) "thinkers" assisting corporations.

Green Idaho rejects the modern world, nor are they the only ones. Some think therapy is a crutch, and want to remove it.

The story is akin to a police mystery, and moves along at a good pace, helped by some nice satire.

Foundation's Fear by Gregory Benford

Harper Prism, March 1998, 608pp, US$6.99

Asimov's Foundation trilogy is one of the most loved set of novels in science fiction. In a grand sweep, owing much to Gibbon's Decline and Fall, he told of the end of the Empire, and the rise of the Foundation, all guided by the dead hand of Hari Seldon's Psychohistory. Some neat sweeping concepts there. Asimov later attempted, surprisingly well considering, to fit together all his novels into an even grander single framework. He explained the disappearance of the robots, for example.

In this "second Foundation trilogy", Gregory Benford, Greg Bear and David Brin fill in more on Seldon's Plan.

Benford's long novel covers the politics and dangers of the period when Seldon becomes First Minister under Cleon. Seldon becomes a real action figure, more so than I expected from the academic approach his character is given at the start. Benford actually makes psychohistory sound much more plausible as a theory than did Asimov, possibly due to his close attention to academic ideas. He adds some absolutely lovely subplots. I particularly enjoyed the Voltaire simulation, and the satire on post modernists. This was a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it. If the two following novels are in the same class we will have a sequel that exceeds the original trilogy.

Moonrise by Ben Bova

Avon, March 1998, 560pp, US$6.99

Moonwar by Ben Bova

Avon, March 1998, 501pp, US$6.99

Moonbase is a reality, thanks to the Masterson Corporation, but internal power struggles make its continuation chancy, even before a world wide rejection of the nanotechnology that provides the lunar colony with oxygen from regolith. A thirty year family struggle, ending in war, all to keep the colony going. Epic in scope, but curiously flat in parts.

Shards of a Broken Crown by Raymond E Feist

Harper Collins, Dec 1998, 417pp, A$24.95 TPB

Volume four of the Serpentwar Saga.

Masters of Reality The Gathering by Traci Harding

Harper Collins Voyager, October 1998, 658pp, A$14.95

Book Three in The Ancient Futures Trilogy, this fantasy sports a well done science fictional cover by David Harding, which even illustrates a scene from the novel. And it is (mostly) set in the next fifty years. However humans are only spear carriers, all the action is handled by gods (from elsewhere, from Atlantis, etc.) When science is mentioned it is butchered ("inferred vision", p534 ok, maybe that was a type), parsecs used as a measure of distance (must have watched "Star Wars"), and then in a comparison with light speed, makes an orders of magnitude error. The main weakness seems to me that, having billed one character as someone who gets things done, she rushes into all manner of minor action, gets lots of things wrong, and then, in the final climatic scenes, the senior god steps in and fixes everything, using knowledge of events that indicate it could have all been done thousands of years previously. It just didn't hang together.

Taken by Force by Richard Harland

Pan (Macmillan), 1998, 551pp, A$15.95

Sequel to The Dark Edge, continues the adventures of Inspector Eddon Brac and Vail ev Vessintor, in yet another isolated group of more than passing strange people, with yet another set of serial killings. It is a murder mystery, with heaps of fantasy in the actions of the character Vail.

This has the surface trappings of science fiction, however it is embarrassingly bad science fiction. It has all the scientific plausibility of Space Train, if any of you recall that klunker. The author either never took any sort of science course, or else is deliberately treating his audience with contempt. Asteroids with high surface gravity? Ships that drift from the galactic rim in not more than a century. Lots of ships wandering past an unpopulated solar system so pirates can capture them. The story underpinnings are bullshit.

However Harland obviously knows this, and is more intent on exploring his characters in what is more like a mystery horror tale than SF. Decidedly not to my taste, but your mileage may vary.

Last on Earth by Marilyn Kaye

Avon, Oct 1998, 186pp, US$4.99

Twenty five teenagers inherit the earth when everyone else disappears. Teenage angst, little Hitlers, and not all that well done at that. First in a series to avoid, I'd say.

Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt

HarperPrism, April 1998, 403pp, US$5.99

Although this has elements of "quest" stories, McDevitt brings fine writing to each of his stories. This evokes a fine picture of a group seeking an understanding of the Roadmakers, whose ancient ruins dot the American landscape. They come across other groups who have advanced somewhat beyond what they had in their wilderness area, and clues to a store of lost books, in a location known as Haven.

Myst The Book of D'Ni by Rand Miller with David Wingrove

Bantam (Transworld), Dec 1998, 337pp, A$15.95

For Myst fans.

The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

Doubleday (Transworld), June 1998, 281pp, A$35, ISBN 0385409893

The wizards at Unseen University were having a little problem with morphic instability, manifested in the Librarian (not his True Name) morphing from an ape (which was not his original form) into other objects. Rincewind had been assistant Librarian at the time the Librarian originally changed, and therefore may know the Librarian's True Name, of great aid in changing the Librarian to some more stable form. Even the author doesn't mention whether Rincewind might have, however inadvertently, been responsible for the original change. However Rincewind appeared to have ended up in EcksEcksEcksEcks, and no-one knew where that was. As a wizzard, Rincewind was totally inept (he also couldn't spell "wizard"), but he did seem to have a certain talent for survival under the blazing sun of 4ecks, even if it was by falling into waterholes whenever he needed a drink.

I have no idea what Pratchett's UK and US readers will make of this particular Discworld novel, however for Australian readers, it manages to include many icons of Australian existence. Watch Rincewind learn to make thongs. Watch him invent Vegemite. Watch him deal with drop bears (even though they don't exist). Watch him meet Mad Max. Watch him outdo Ned Kelly, and watch him be the swaggy in Waltzing Matilda. Look for the particularly sensible approach taken to politicians in 4ecks. Australians, get this one (but try not to read it anyplace where those around you will be bothered by your rolling on the floor laughing).

User Friendly by Spider Robinson

Baen, February 1998, 282p, US$5.99

Collection of short stories plus a few articles and speeches from the ever entertaining Spider Robinson. Short stories are very often the best showcase for science fiction, and at his best Spider Robinson is very, very good indeed.

Splashdance Silver by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Bantam (Transworld), Sept 1998, 386pp, A$14.95

Young writer, winner of the recent George Turner prize. A fast paced and funny fantasy in the Terry Pratchett style. Bigbeard's daughter didn't want to be a pirate, but it is the family tradition. She didn't want to be a witch, and have to save the World, but when your grandfather turns out to be a God, sometimes you have to do your part. Of course, she shouldn't have caused all the trouble in the first place, but it wasn't as if it were deliberate. She certainly shouldn't have trusted Aragon Silversword, Champion of Emperors and betrayer of them also. In fact, none of the pirate crew could be trusted, and especially not the apprentice.

Illegal Alien by Robert J Sawyer

Harper Collins, 1998, 319pp, A$12.95

Aliens arrive on earth, they seem friendly enough, but then one of their first friends is horribly murdered, and it appears one of the friendly aliens did the deed.

Most of the novel is courtroom drama, although there is a SF subplot. In the fast paced story, Sawyer makes some telling points about the nature of the justice system, jury trials, the purpose of lawyers, and their essential conflict with the stated nature of justice, and much else we take for granted in our society. There have been calls in Australia recently for a rethink of the judicial system. A novel such as this makes one think the problem is more widespread than in just one country. Sawyer has done a previous novel The Terminal Experiment, making similar points. I believe this is a better work.

Zodiac by Neal Stephenson

The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988, 283pp

An eco-thriller, second work (the first was The Big U) by Stephenson, who later became very popular in SF circles with Snow Crash and The Diamond Age.

Features a smart ass, technically aware, eco-saboteur who really has a mean and nasty mind, up against a corporation that really will try anything, provided they can get away with it. It had some pretty neat scenes, and foreshadows some of the nature of Snow Crash.

The Searchers - City of Fire by Chet Williamson

Avon (Transworld), Aug 1998 (Oct 1998), 340pp, US$5.99 A$14.95

CIA team assigned to debunk psychic events find this is a cover for a larger deception. Obvious play for the X Files market. Seems well enough written, but not aimed at science fiction readers.

Top of Page


Luke McGuff

luko at oo net Tue Oct 7 04:32 EST 1997

Please add me to your update list. Thanks!

I do an online journal -- you're one of the people I'd send a zine to if I did a zine, would you be interested in getting my update mails? I usually post something a couple times a week.

Lucy Schmeidler

Tue Oct 7 13:18 EST 1997

I received your email re Gegenschein when I logged on at 5am this morning, after which I looked up the website and browsed through the recent issues; and then, when the mail arrived in the early afternoon, I received the hard copy of the same. I also saw that ascii versions of the zines were listed but not actually available. I suppose on that basis I'm best off just getting notified of new zines and looking them up rather than asking for ascii versions to be emailed. {{ I really have to find a decent HTML to ASCII converter, that will keep a little more of the formatting intact. EL}}

It's interesting to read of all your convention activity in the US. At the moment I'm looking forward to meeting you again in 2 years in Melbourne, but I wouldn't mind running into you somewhere else in the meantime. This year I'm planning to take in one con outside the Northeast Corridor, though still in the Northeast: OVFF (a filk convention) in Columbus, Ohio. And then probably nothing else outside my usual orbit until Aussiecon 3.

Julie Vaux

Tue Oct 7 15:03 EST 1997

Oh I'm definitely on the mend - I'm down to about three tissues a hour instead of a dozen even with medication!!! and the hot acid drip sensation has gone - thank god or your choice of deity - guess the fact its clearing up so quickly proves its an allergic reaction which is good - I won't have to go to the docs for antibiotics or other treatment - anyway I posted a note to Janice - if the rain doesn't destroy it ... at least we made contact !!!

If you're looking for a good sf novel to curl up with I recommend SLANT which I managed to acquire temporarily via library loan ... not so much a sequel as an accompaniment to Queen of the Angels!

Steven Paulsen

paulsen at au1 ibm com Tue Oct 7 16:24 EST 1997

Subject: Re: Gegenschein on web site

Yes, please, keep me on your mailing list. Many thanks. BTW, my new address is paulsen at au1 ibm com although any e-mail sent to the old address will be forwarded for some time yet. Also, I would be interested in seeing a list of your books (not that I can afford anything much at the moment as I'm about to head off to the World Fantasy Convention in London).

Gayle Lovett

Tue Oct 7 16:59 EST 1997

Please let me know when a new issue of Gegenschein is out, via e-mail, and I'll check the site. Paper is definitely on the way out! By all means drop me off the paper list. Gaslight Books ph/fax (06)282 5995 formerly

Pamela Boal

PJBoal at aol com Fri Oct 17 04:49 EST 1997

Subject: Thanks for Gegenschein 75-79

Although I find e-mail most useful I am still not a fan of the web. I find it time consuming, frequently frustrating (because I can't find things), costly (in phone charges) and hard on the eyes. Though when we come home from our final trip this year (we are just home for today) I will try to find your web page. I can well understand your reluctance to pay out such astronomical sums on snail mail. Selfish me though hopes printed on paper Gegs will still come my way now and then. {{ I can send the web version on disk for fans with problems or high costs getting web access. A floppy costs me the same as getting two sheets of paper photocopied. EL}}

Sympathy for your sadness that your Mother is no longer alive. I hope all the organisation and settling of the home helped you concentrate on the good memories of her. Thus while you grieve for your loss you can be thankful for her sake that she didn't loose her independence and suffer the indignity of being in the care of others.

I can really understand your feelings while in the ICU waiting room. Our elder son Steven has just been in intensive care for five weeks, on kidney machine, ventilator and with various drains in lungs and round heart. Then another ten days in the recovery ward. He has recovered enough to be allowed home, the healing will take some time yet but it is progressing. What made it worse for Derek and I was the fact that we could not visit him. While the operation was a serious one the complications took every one by surprise (a very rare reaction to one of the anesthetics) and Steven had arranged for his brother David to be there to help him in the recovery stage and to help his wife by looking after the children when she visited. With those two the recorded next of kin and visitors, the doctors did not want other people there to add to the risk of infection and although Steven was unconscious they believed he could hear voices and he did come round occasionally. Hearing us would have added to his stress. We had to sit by the phone waiting for reports when ever David or Gill (Steven's wife) left Steven's side and to be ready to go to the hospital (in London, depending on the time of day up to two hours drive) if the doctors declared there was no more hope. When Steven moved to the recovery ward we stayed in a BandB while we visited with him. Now we are back on the boat trying to unwind and recover before we lay up for the winter.

Forgive me for not commenting on all the other interesting items but I suspect you understand.

Ben Zuhl

From BenZ7 at aol com Fri Oct 10 14:55 EST 1997

Subject: Re: trufandom and SF

I rarely get out to cons these days. Most of my travel is overseas for 2 - 3 weeks at a time as part of my job. I've been to London, Hanoi, Geneva, and Rome on the last 4 trips.

Just got the paper versions and will LoC when/if time allows.

Tara Smith

tara at ois net au Sun Oct 12 15:53 EST 1997

"Just send a negative response and I'll remove you from the email list.

Don't you dare! I thoroughly enjoy each edition.

Makes sense. I would be perfectly happy to receive either ascii or htm by email (unfortunately, postscript is not much good to me)

Enjoy! I am mightily envious. If you stop by Perth at all, call in an stay a while.

Knowing Ralph, I am sure I am going to regret this. But please do send me a list (of books). {{ I'm way behind in producing a list of the books that made the move to Airlie. Still on the Real Soon Now pile. EL}}

Alan E and Carmel Brain

aebrain at dynamite com au Tue Oct 21 17:06 EST 1997

Ta for putting us on the mailing list.

There's a bit of a gap after issue 77 isn't there? Still, what the heck, better late than never.

I see by your reviews of his latest works that you've forgiven Joe Haldeperson for blowing your head off messily.

Since I've been out of Sydney Fandom, what's happened? Let's see, Carmel narrowly missed being heavily irradiated by Chernobyl (though we picked up more than a few milliRem in Scotland). She was booked on a tour passing through Kiev. Because of security problems, I advised her not to go.

I went to Germany just as the Wall came down and we lived there for 2 years, then I was there 6 months a year for a further 3. The Cold War ended. We won. So did they.

Right now, I'm teaching part-time at ADFA, and contract programming wherever I can. Been Netsurfing since about 89 on CompuServe, if only to telecommute to Bremen (Germany).

On that note, fair thee well, and more later.

Moshe Feder

moshe at dorsa org Tue Oct 21 18:27 EST 1997

Hi, just back from a month in Israel and London and saw your message. Sorry I won't be making it to Ditto and that you won't be coming to NY. It'd be nice to see you.

Go ahead and send me a list of the stuff you're getting rid of. Although this place is too full already, I suppose it's just possible you have something it'd be worth shipping up here from Oz.

Got to see my first Australian Rules Football game (an exhibition match between the Magpies and the the Eagles) while in London. Don't know if you're a fan, but I think I could become one. Is there anyone in Aussie fandom who _is_ interested in it?

Lynn Maudlin

maudlinlynn at earthlink net Thu Oct 23 18:02 EST 1997

Eric, I found your site through Mike Glyer's FILE 770 and I opened up the first zine with an "htm" extension - turned out to be the issue about your mother's death. I appreciate your sharing; I too look around my house and think, "oh no--- where will this lead?" The report will help to motivate me to save my son by throwing more away now.

Most amazing, however, was reading the word "Faulconbridge" and thinking, hang on - my friends Jane and Paul Simmons (now separated, sadly) live in Faulconbridge; I was fortunate to visit them in October of 1991 for about 5 weeks.

Incredible about the hail and ice storm in December of last year (don't think Jane and I spoke about that). I'll be back and read more later - hope you've enjoyed your trip to the states and perhaps we'll meet one day at a con.

Tonia Walden

Wed Oct 29 17:15 EST 1997

Thanks very much for sending me Gegenschein. I've got pretty good web access at the moment, so I could read it on the web and save you the postage of sending the paper copy.

George Laskowski

Thu Oct 30 22:53 EST 1997

I infer from the message I got from you that you are busy -- well, is there anything new? The most active fans are always busy. My fan activity has diminished, mostly due to my credit card companies catching up with me. I am publishing, but slowly. There is a new Lan's Lantern out which I will mail to you soon.

I am working on the next LL which is dedicated to and all about Bob Tucker. If you or Jean have some tidbit of a story about him, or a tribute, or some comment you want to make to him, send it/them soon. I am hoping to have the issue out by our Thanksgiving.

I hope that Ditto was fun, and you had a good time seeing all your other fan-friends. I do miss seeing you, but because of money being very tight (see first paragraph again), I am traveling less and doing what I can close to home.

Take care, and enjoy the rest of your stay in the States. And say hi to Jean for me.

PS I am not very adept at accessing web sites, but I'll try. Is it possible to send an electronic version to me directly? I would appreciate it, but if it is too much trouble, I'll see what I can do from my end. Thanks. {{ I can send a copy of the HTML by email, although at 100k it may be a bit large for some email clients. EL}}

Neil Kaden

Mon Nov 10 11:29 EST 1997

Subject: good stuff in G-->

Good Seeing You Again at Ditto, and glad we had a chance to chat, natter, and catch up.

Finally got the chance to to look at the url for G-- that I had bookmarked from your past eMail, and I was part way thru printing it before I remembered that you had handed me a 2-column, litely illo'd real one! Yes, after 10-12 hour days talking into a phone while staring at a monitor I definitely still prefer hardcopy, even with the limited reading window of my new trifocals (really gradient, but it still is really 4 focal lengths: books, computer monitors, TV/real-world, and out-of-focus).

I forgot to mention that if you find yourself stranded in the States for a length of time my own CTI lab is still looking for a temp contractor to run our lab, I know you could do the job, and one of our temp agencies is quite creative with immigration matters (and only marks it's people up $3-7/hour, depending on who pays the taxes). And if you find yourself stranded in Dallas a shorter time, be sure to drop in for a tour (as well as the always-open invite to our house to break bread, dip salt, and consume grog).

Give my best to Jean on your return, and hope your westward trip after we left was good.

Neil Kaden

kaden at flash net Wed Nov 12 14:49 EST 1997

Subject: Ditto-X pics

I may not yet have a trip report for Ditto-X/Octocon-34 in a zine, but I already have the photos to illustrate it on my web site. Check out the on my web pages (access via my Home Page for a frame-based index to all my pages). I think I got at least 80% of the attendees (and *all* the participants who were at the ultra-exclusive Dead Dog Party). A resounding THANKS to Roger and Pat Sims, Bill Bowers, Bill Cavin, and all the others who made it possible. Note also info on [about] the next Ditto on my skiffy topics page.

Edwina Harvey

e.harvey at unsw edu au Thu, 13 Nov 1997

Subject: Books and Geg

If you still have books looking for a new home, I'd be happy to take on a box or two and endeavour to sell them at various functions to raise money to donate to Juvenile Diabetes for FOLCC (or the Friends of Linda Cox Chan). Your readers might remember Linda; an active Sydney fan who passed away from diabetes complications in late 1991.

Through the sale of a large donation of books from John Tipper we were able to donate $140 to the charity earlier this year. It would be nice to keep the fundraising activities ticking over.

In reply to Richard Faulder's letter in Geg 80, I have no qualms at all with being described as a neo-fan. At the time of A in 85, I was fairly new to attending conventions; certainly more naive about fandom politics. (I often wish I could return to that state of grace). I was peripherally aware of the splintering he referred to.

The positive and long lasting effects I mentioned was seeing a number of my contemporaries become more active fans. Ian Gunn and James Allen in particular have contributed a lot to fandom in the past decade or so. As I recall, they were both "blooded" at the Worldcon in '85 and jumped in boots and all to try new fandom activities (MSFC and ANZAPA among others). There were others who were similarly affected in a myriad of other ways, trying their hands at costuming, publishing, writing and artwork for example, because they saw others doing it and were encouraged to "get in there and have a go."

Okay, so a Worldcon isn't everybody's cup of tea. And yes, Karen Herkes is right when she says "a new solo-interest fan probably wouldn't be interested in attending a Worldcon", but why can't we leave the door open? Let them make the decision for themselves. Show them what a con is all about and maybe they'll want to join in ? It seems a much better policy than slamming the door in the faces of potential Worldcon attendees, and telling them they're not welcome; which you seemed so intent on implying in your original thoughts on the subject.

I believe in it's *purest* form - without the personalities, politics and egos getting in the way (though they seem inevitable, and these days I have a better understanding of why) a Worldcon hosted by Australia is a positive thing for Australian fandom.

Bill Bridget

Sun Dec 14 17:22 EST 1997

My wife has fixed me up with a mailbox of my own that I no longer have to share with her. I have her old Netscape 3, and she's using Netscape 4. I am using a copy of Netscape 4 as my word publishing program on my own machine, however. I have been reading Geg#79 and Geg80 tonight...your zines are the only ones I've found so far that I could accept as being "real" electronic fanzines. You pulled it off, but I have given up and gone back to paper hardcopies. However, I'm happy to continue to send you the paper ones even though I have the ability to send an email version. In fact, I'd prefer to send you the paper ones and hope that is okay with you. Anyway, congratulations on doing what I could not and I admire you for making it work. Ned Brooks said that you were a computer guru, but I had no idea just how much. Anyway, I wanted to see to it you had the new email address. The paper zines you sent earlier this year were wonderful too and will be treasured by my daughter Kathleen the family writer. Happy greetings of the season to you, but my wife insists I go up to be with her now.

Neil Kaden

Subject: Re: Heart Attack

GOSH WOW! Sorry to hear that, but at least it didn't occur while you were in a strange hemisphere living out of a box. Hope that friends and family are making the recovery comfortable, and Cris and I wish you a speedy recovery. --neil

Michelle Hallett

From mhallett at comtech com au Wed Jan 14 EST 1998

I was really surprised to hear about your heart attack, you're the last person I expected to have a heart attack. I'm glad to hear your feeling better, probably you won't receive this until you're back at work and so you should be much improved. Do look after yourself, I had a friend who found himself back in hospital because he thought he could do too much after a heart attack.

I hope to be able to come and see you at your party on the 24th. My car doesn't like to travel very far these days but if I can borrow my aunt's car I will come up. Meantime, thanks for all the fanzines and news, I really don't get around in fandom much these days. It's even been a while since I heard from Terry Frost.

Things are fine with me, I'm currently working for Com Tech as a tech writer in the networks division and learning lots of things, all of which are called by their initials. Nothing exciting is happening in my life which at this age is probably healthy.

Jonathan Scott

Sat Jan 17 EST 1998

Subject: k.i.t.

I did not reply to Jean's original email about your attack, thinking that she would be inundated with stuff neither of you would want to be bothered hearing. Also, I figured I'd wait a polite interval before venturing any wise cracks, in case you kicked the bucket, as the expression so delightfully goes.

Now, however, I have read your own ill-health reports, it is mid January, you seem out of danger, and I feel that the time has come to point out one significant thing to you...


It is doubtful that Kay and I will get to your 51st party, though I'd like the opportunity to catch up quietly. (We already have a conflict between Mitsubishi's annual blowout and a visit to Taree.)

In life-general terms, I am most keen to hear about your plans to evacuate Sydney, and especially to live via internet at Airlie (sp?) Beach. The word `live' in that last sentence carries the word's wider meaning: I have applied for a job at HP in CA, and if we go I expect to do a lot of "living" (social contact wise) via internet and international visitor, and otherwise I currently have a job, very excellent except that is based in Hornsby... a place that is ridiculously distant in every way from the Newtown I love, and a place that I succinctly describe as being surrounded by people who "do not know that they are alive". I do not relish the prospect of living in such a region, yet I detest travel, especially wasting my life by repetitive commuting. (Although I can do my email on the Palm Pilot on the train.)

Justin Semmel

Mon Jan 19 EST 1998

Subject: Lie long and prostate

Well I take it on assumption that you're still alive to send me fanzines from the one that rocked up in my letter box. What a dreadful thing to happen.

I'm glad it was mild enough that you can at least do a rethink of what you're doing and where you're going. A rethink can keep you alive for the next forty years (according to my friend, Gen, whose dad had a nasty heart attack while young. He went off to become a specialist photographic consultant, doing stuff I don't know much about).

I've seen a few people come through pretty drastic situations like this, so I think you will too, though from your fanzine it might be time to cut back on the physical labour. My dad had quite a heart attack about ten years ago. He was thought to have 6 months to live, because a tumour had grown inside his heart, and he had lost 75% of its function, and it had become very weak. But he's still up and kicking now, a very active man, who rests twice a day for half an hour, and does a lot of want he wants. (The fact that he's a bit obsessive compulsive should be noted too. It means that he is almost always working on something, and has the same sort of wiry frame that you do. This gives him and you the advantage of fairly low blood pressure, and a heart that probably will recover nicely)

So, hang in there mate. There's a nice bottle of bourbon I want to share with you!

Lloyd Penney

Mon Jan 26 EST 1998

Subject: Loc to Gegenschein 75, 76, 77, 78

Here I am on-line through Yvonne's work server. This loc is an ASCII file, because too many people hate WordPerfect v5.1 files.

Take care, and I look for more Gegs, be they paper Gegs or e-Gegs.

1706-24 Eva Rd. Etobicoke, ON CANADA M9C 2B2

Just got a package from you...I've been getting packages of fanzines from a lot of faneds lately. Now, Paul Ewins is getting into the act with several issues of A.M.D ... but here at hand are issues 75, 76, 77 and 78 of Gegenschein ... and a loc is needed. I will be sending this letter electronically via Yvonne's work e- mail address, and you can e- mail me the next few issues, but if it's okay with you, I'd also like to receive a paper fanzine, to see what the differences are, and see for myself which of the two I'd prefer. A simple printout just doesn't have the personality a personally designed fanzine and page has. I suspect I won't even be on the local freenet for some time. I'm working on it, though...

75...So many nice fans in Seattle, and so much geography in the way. I need a good excuse to get out there and mingle with folks like Janice Murray and Alan Rosenthal and Victor Gonzalez and the rest ... Hope Leibowitz usually does appear at CorFlus and Dittos, and usually nowhere else. She does come back with wonderful stories of these cons, but never offers to take us there, tsk, tsk ... What I said above of the Seattle fans applies to the Las Vegas fans, too. I want to go visit them as well, and if had some extra money (ha), I'd look into a cheap flight to Vegas, and party down.

Even though it happened about a year ago now, Maia Cowan's letter is the first complete description of what happened to Maia and Lan, and finally, I know. I hate to hear of these things, but I guess want to know full details so I know all of what happened.

Irwin Hirsh reminds me that I recently read a zipfile version of Chris Priest's The Last Deadloss Visions. It's laughable to see how Ellison is so vocal about being treated fairly, but won't treat the writers fairly, those who sold stories to Ellison years ago, some of whom have passed away with their work left unpublished. George Alec Effinger told me at a local convention some years ago that his writing career started with his first sale to Ellison for Last Dangerous Visions, and that he's grateful that subsequent work did see the light of day.

Edwina Harvey brings up some cogent points on Worldcon ... I've probably told you this story already, but whatthehell ... in 1994, several of the local fanatical Trekfen grouped together to go to the Winnipeg Worldcon. Some of them arrived and were disappointed to find that the place was not swarming with Star Trek actors. They expected the World Star Trek Convention, and were sorely disappointed. They went home early. The rest stuck around, and had their eyes opened and minds expanded by the variety of interests, activities and people the Worldcon covered. One even told me that she was beginning to see why I liked going to Worldcons so much. Some of these people have taken the step of participating in other local fannish activities. Edwina, I hope other Australian mediafen will take that opportunity to see what goes on beyond the small corner of fandom media fandom occupies. However, tradition does dictate that a World Science Fiction Convention is largely literary, and will cater mostly to that crowd, with some attention paid to surrounding and associated interests.

Good thing Rich McAllister didn't go to Calgary in 1994 for Worldcon ... it wasn't there. It was in Winnipeg.

76 ... A Worldcon is an expensive proposition, no matter where it is. Expectation have been built up over time as to what a Worldcon included, and as you're finding that out now, the Toronto in 2003 bid is already discovering the costs involved. Reading about all the other bids is sending us to school, and will make our efforts (should we win) a little easier. Fortunately, we do have some allies in the tourism industry, and they are giving us invaluable information and assistance.

And, a grin, a laugh and a tip of the tattered hat to Leanne Frahm for her wonderful poem on the Battle of Worldcon in '96...

David Thayer says web sites and e-mail will take over fandom? Say it isn't so! The Glades of Gafia will beckon many of us at that time. Right now, the Net and Web are responsible for conventions and clubs declining in numbers. Give me a good paper fanzine and fun convention any day.

77 ... my condolences. The death of a parent is not an experience I've dealt with yet, but I have been able to help Yvonne over the death of her father some years ago. It helps to have people close by to hold you up, but I look to that day with dread.

78 ... On your next trip to Las Vegas, you'll have to go see the new Star Trek theme building. I gather it looks like a starship or DS9-type space station, with Ferengi, Cardassians and Klingons wandering about.

Of all the books you list, there's one I have read ... The Transmigration of Souls by William Barton. You're right, it is a strange book, but with some smooth explaining, the book actually holds together, and creates a high, hard-SF adventure that was a lot of fun to read.

As I'm sure you've found out by now, the Boston in 2001 bid committee has decided that it's now impossible to run an affordable Worldcon out of Boston, so they are now looking to stage that Worldcon in Orlando. We all know the abilities of the Boston fans to make Worldcons happen, no matter where they are, so I hope the change in location won't hurt their chances, at least, not the way the Nashville in '94 bid was hurt when they shifted their location to Knoxville.

Greetings to Leif Bloomquist ... there are a lot of fans around the Waterloo area, and I know most of them. Contact me, and I'll see if I can help with names.

That's comment on four fanzines. And now, the personal news...

This past fall was a wonderful time for my and Yvonne ... in the summer, we found we'd been nominated for Aurora Awards, Canada's only set of science fiction awards. With that happy thought in mind, we set out for Montrealal in September to be the FanGoHs at Concept, that city's annual convention. The committee were all old friends, and they treated us like king and queen. In October, the Canadian National Convention, or CanVention, took place in Toronto at a local mediacon (there's a story), and the Auroras were handed out, and WE BOTH WON! I won in the category of Fan Achievement - Other for my fanwriting, and Yvonne won in the category of Fan Achievement - Organizational for chairing a one- day convention in 1996 called Science Fiction Saturday. I haven't picked up my copy of Locus yet, but the Aurora winners should be in a photo in one of these issues. November saw a book launch by Robert J. Sawyer. His latest novel is called Illegal Alien, and I'm a character in it! In one chapter, there's Dr. Lloyd Penney, a forensic psychologist with a penchant for Hawaiian shirts. Ah, Robert's seen my wardrobe... Also in November was a special event ... John Millard's 80th birthday party. John was the chairman of Torcon II in 1973, and is the chairman emeritus for the Toronto in 2003 bid. It was a fine time, and a surprise visitor was Ned McKeown, the chairman of the Torcon of 1948. The whole day was a fanhistorian's treat.

Well, that's about it. The news is coming on in a few minutes, and tomorrow, Yvonne returns from a business trip to the wilds of Michigan. Take care, I hope all is well, and I look forward to future issues, no matter what form they take.

William. M. Breiding

From wbreiding at juno com Thu Feb 12 EST 1998

Subject: Loc (?) to Gegenshein

On Monday, Feb 9th I received Gegenshein 75, 76 and 79 as well as "A Death In The Family". The stamps weren't postmarked, so I haven't any notion how long the sea mail took.

Actually, I was floored to get these--I wasn't even remotely aware that they might be coming, as I have never been, in my admittedly bad memory, on your mailing list, that I know of.

I will let you make the hard decision of whether to keep me on the paper mailing list; I am, at the moment, unconnected to the web and have no idea when I'll be going on. Probably not in the near future. On the other hand, the astounding $600 postage bill you have for overseas mailings makes me feel a bit guilty in adding to your burden. I VERY much enjoyed these Gegensheins, and find your writing to be absorbing and entertaining, but I doubt that I will ever be able to loc you satisfactorily enough to justify the burden I would be on your wallet. I find the Gegs to be very self contained, and as I don't know you, nor have read any of the books you are so charmingly reviewing, the niche for chatting with you is very small. I would very much like to continue to receive Gegenshien, but I just don't know if the return from this quarter would make it worth your while. So I leave the decision up to you.

I have had little contact with Australia fandom; in fact only with Irwin Hirsh when he was in Apa-50, but I have always found down under fandom to be of interest when I have run across it. Has anyone done a history of Australian Fandom?

The sustained trip report in #79 was probably my favorite, closely followed by the doings in "A Death In The Family". This has been happening to many of us, both with old time fans and our own parents. I think the single most prevalent thing that ties all of these deaths together is the fact that our parents accumulated so much *stuff*. These reports will probably be a preview of my own parents, who are divorced and living separately in the same small town in West Virginia. Although I have been trying to prepare myself for the passing of my parents (Dad 81, Mom, 77, both living independently and both still very sturdy) there is literally no way to do such a thing and I know it will be difficult. I appreciated the history lesson very much, in the P.E. Lindsay and Ancestors sections. Thank you.

I was slightly disappointed that when you were with the Haldeman's they didn't take you to Cross Creek, Florida, the home of Marjorie Rawlings, the author of "The Yearling" and many great short stories about rural Florida in the nineteen thirties. It is just a short jaunt from Micanopy. There is also a rather incredible Pet Cemetery just outside of Micanopy. The next time you visit Joe and Gay, be sure to impress upon them that you want to see these things!! As many times as I had driven through and/or visited Micanopy when I was staying in Gainsville (total of a couple of months) I never stopped to eat at Mildred's -- from your report I'm sorry that I hadn't.

The next time you find yourself in San Francisco, spend a little more time exploring! As you seem to be a walker, shopper and window shopper, that's a hell of a town to do it in.

I hope that you have recovered well and that things are back at full tilt for you. Please give my best to Jean.

Jose Luis Regueiro

From maverick at adinet com uy Fri Feb 13 1998

Subject: C.O.A.

Hi. Changed my Email address to maverick at adinet com uy. All mail sent after 28 December 1997 was not read by me (I haven't checked yet if it gives a bounce msg or not).

Sent you "something" for your birthday by mail; suppose it hasn't arrived there yet (actually I had to send it twice because it bounced here at the post office because I used a nice silver-plated envelope. Sigh). I have (for the first time in three years) 10 days free of work starting the 16th February. Hope you have some time for chatting by Email. All the best, Jose Luis ...

William Breiding

Thu Feb 19 1998

I can not tell a lie. I am not a computer kinda guy. I do know that Juno can handle about 65k; it doesn't allow for file downloading or text conversion. Bill Bowers is on Juno and has experimented around a lot more than myself. You might want to query with him and see what he knows: xenolith at juno com Bill's a neep-neep kinda guy at heart! Or you can just try to send the next Geg and see what happens.

Carolyn Doyle

Fri Feb 20 1998

I was talking to Gary Grady last night, and he said you can send your zine to him via email as a Postscript file, and HE will get it printed up. His email is (supressed)

I am looking forward to reading your observations of hospital life and heart attack recovery!

I do love the Mac, and am sorry PCs have taken over. If Mac folds, it will leave a big hole in the printing and graphics industries, which depend on it heavily.

If for some reason the arrangement with Gary won't work out, let me know, and I'll be glad to print your zine here from copies you could send me. (They can be on Aussie paper as long as the type is sized to fit a US paper window). I'll give you rates on request ... will have to check!

Judith Hanna

jehanna at gn apc org Tue Mar 10 1998

Concerned to hear about your heart attack, but cheered by reports that you are recovering satisfactorily. We'd hoped to get in touch with you and Jean when we were in Sydney last month -- staying with my sister and her babies in Manly for a few days, but didn't manage to phone you and Jean any time you were at home.

Joseph somewhat disappointed by the mild balminess of Sydney, when he was craving baking debilitating Mad Dogs and Englishmen heat. Mind you, I kept him away from the steamy interior and we concentrated on harbourside Sydney, riding the ferries about -- including a river-trip to Parramatta, visiting Balmoral where I used to live, and taking the kiddies swimming in a sheltered bit of Manly Beach. Then in Canberra, Kojonup and Perth, JN got the real heat he craved, and sat in it -- to the concern of us real Aussies who kept asking if he was alright, if he wouldn't rather come into the shade, if he was slathered with sun-block, etc...

Hope to catch up with you next trip -- or if you and Jean make it over to here. Best wishes to you both,

Joseph T Major

From jtmajor at iglou com Fri Mar 20 1998

Subject: Gegenschein 80 LoC

I meant to get this done after Ditto, but I let it slip and found out why I have to get everything done the moment I think of it.

New Books:

You comment that character development is somewhat inhibited in "SW novels using the Lucas characters". Which is generally true of media adaptations. TV episodes are normalizing; the characters are expected to come back to the way they were in the beginning so the writer of the next episode can start from a known basis. And so with adaptations of TV shows and movies.

Back in the eighties, when it looked as if shared-world fiction was going to be the coming thing, I noted that this, for all its alleged superiorities, had the problem that every contributor had a number of characters who could not be changed -- the other writers' characters. And indeed the writer could not make any definitive change to the setting, only the editor could do that. All which served to vitiate the writing, and it is not surprising that they did not survive. I think _Wild Cards_, the superhero SF shared world, is the only one left, and then comics have that sort of media setup.

That is, they could not use my image of Jabba the Hutt being chased across the sands of Tattoine by Chewie, Han, Leia, and Luke carrying above their heads a giant salt shaker, until he crosses a dune and finds a swimming pool full of beer, which inexorably draws him until he climbs on the diving board, falls in, and blisfully dies.

Did you know, by the way, that Rudy Rucker is from Louisville?


Birkhead: I have a Darwin fish bumper sticker which I bought from the Electric Eggs table -- there are enough hard-shell Baptists around here that I did not put it on, though.

Did a Russian invent radio? There always seem to be claimants coming out of the wilderness after any great invention, claiming to have done it first but never bothered to get proof. E.g. Whitehead, Ader, etc. claiming to have usurped the Wright brothers.

Kentucky has a similar claimant for radio, a fellow named Nathan Stubblefield who lived in the western part of the state, near the Mississippi River. As usual, he was the local hero who never bothered to go national, probably because he would have had problems supporting his claim.

Michael Hailstone

Fri Jun 12 1998

Just in case you've sent me an electronic letter commenting on Three Boys on the Road, I should let you know that I have so far been unable to get onto the Internet owing to technical difficulties. I have my email address but cannot use it until I have the right hardware with enough memory, but for the time being I can be reached at the above address. {{ An ordinary 8088 IBM PC XT computer can handle email, with the right software (PopMail, NetTamer, Minuet, etc.) I don't understand why great numbers of people believe they require a brand new Windows PC for simple email or web browsing. EL}}

Just a trivial comment here really, something that fascinated me in an earlier Gegenschein some time ago. I'm so hopelessly swamped in reading matter and am now about eighteen months behind, so I hope you will understand when I let on that I just recently unearthed Geg #74 and red of one of your untold trips to the United States. (How do you manage to go so often? I feel like a real untravelled home-staying hick beside you.) I don't know about you, but I find it fascinating that we both crossed the Pacific on the same day, albeit in opposite directions. As I sed in Busswarble #28, Thursday, 17 November 1994, hardly existed for me, being only about six hours long, whereas it must have lasted about 39 hours for you, as 29 October had been 38 hours long for me. No doubt this is all old hat for you as a seasoned traveller and frequent flier, but I found the homeward westbound flight far pleasanter and more bearable than the outbound eastward flight, which involved a very short night. Let's construct a table here. Since the times are so confusing when jetting such great distances across the globe, I have to use the times of different zones. Since you don't give the time you took off from Sydney, I have made an informed gess.

 Event                     PST        AEST        GMT (UT)
Hailstone left LA          1045 16/11 0545 17/11 1845 16/11
Lindsay left Sydney        2100 16/11 1600 17/11 0500 17/11
Hailstone reached Sydney   0300 17/11 2200 17/11 1100 17/11
Lindsay reached LA         1000 17/11 0500 18/11 1800 17/11

Okay, I can't make a great deal of sense out of the above; the times are so confusing. On my outward flight I left Sydney at 2000 29/10 AEST, 0300 PDT, 1000 GMT and reached LA at nearly 1700 PDT, 1000 AEST 30/10, 0000 GMT (we were still on standard time and the USA on summertime). Our flight was slow, unlike yours, so we were a bit late. I don't understand how my homeward flight took so long, more than sixteen hours. Yes, we stopped over in Honolulu for an hour and a half, but that's not enough to account for it, other than that westward flight is markedly slower than eastward. Well, it does actually, since the outward flight took 14 hours. You were impressed by doing more than 1000 km/h, but we did that easily on the trip to New Zealand in 1992. I think that homeward trip took an hour longer than the outward. We did only 440 mph for most of that, whatever that is in kilometers. (I'm afraid I've never successfully converted to metric.) (That's agenst 640 mph on the outbound.) Anyway, we passed somewhere over the Pacific on 17 November 1994. Since you're a mathematician, maybe you can work out just when and where. I'm buggered if I can. Too long since I last studied the subject. Oh, it's easy. We passed about three hours out of Sydney, that would be somewhere north of New Zealand, probably around Fiji. Oh well, I hope you find this bit of trivia interesting.

PS. Just thought I'd add that I sympathise with Patricia McKinlay about fandom. Clearly I don't fit into that subculture. I was toying with the idea of going to next year's Worldcon, but I don't think so, not now. Part of the trouble is, if I ever happen to meet one particular fan face to face, I'll smash his ugly face in. (No, I'm not referring to Bruce Gillespie, although I must own that I'm not all that keen on going to a con that has him as gest of honor.)

Allen J. Baum

Mon, 6 Jul 1998

I just got your stack of fanzines, and browsed through them the other night. I guess a heart attack really is a wakeup call.

"I don't have a phone (Jean stole my line for her fax), and have no current plans to get one."

Wow, I thought that bit about no phone, TV, email account, etc. was joking, but I guess I was wrong.

I know what you've been through. My youngest brother just had a massive heart attack while on his usual 15 mile weekend run in the hills above Palo Alto. His running partner was a doctor, who ran fast enough to call for help, then ran back and did CPR long enough to keep him alive for the paramedics, who couldn't get his heart restarted with the defibrillator, so they called for the Stanford Medevac helicopter, which did have a drug that got it going. It was about as close a call as you can have. He was sedated for a week while they waited for his lungs to clear up (really nasty pneumonia caused by aspiration of vomit), and then didn't wake up when they took the sedation off. A couple of days after the doctors said he probably wouldn't wake up, he did. So, he's back with us, even back running again (he did 7 miles on Sunday)-- but still has a fair amount of brain damage- primarily long and short term memory. He can't remember much from day-to-day, so he's kind of stuck in a time warp. Some of this will clear up, but never completely. His personality is changed, slightly. He was always a complete penny pincher, but seems to have mellowed a bit now- that's not really so bad. It's still a 3-4 months before we know how much he'll recover, so hope is not lost- but I suspect he isn't going back to work at Apple....

Ugh, sorry for the rant, but this (and his 18 mo. old daughter) have been occupying us nearly full time lately.

In other interesting news... they had a lottery at work to get rid of some 533 Mhz Alpha ATX cards, and I got one. Now I have to put a system together around it and figure out what the hell to do with it....

F M Busby

Fmbusby001 at aol com Fri Jul 10 1998

Subject: Re:Keeping in touch

Yes I've owed you a note or loc or commiseration or SOMETHING, since half-past the beginning of time. Have been glad to read of your progressive improvement since your cardiac caper. Meanwhile, back in March I turned myself in to the chop shop for a couple of new arteries to put my legs back on the circulation route. It seems to have worked rather well, but don't ever go into Seattle's Swedish Hospital unless you are in superb good health at the outset. If you intend to get out alive, that is. That place is run in the classic tradition established by Torquemada.

Okay then. All best wishes to you and Jean for your move and changing activities. And please do keep me on the loop. --Buz.

Phyllis Eisenstein

phyllis at ripco com Fri, 10 Jul 1998

Just a note to say hi. I heard you'd been ill and hope you are much better now.

Jane Dennis

fopaws at iglou com Fri, 10 Jul 1998

I have made notes of addresses etc. Good luck with all the moving, we'll see you sometime in '99 if not sooner. Jane and Scott Dennis

Judith Hanna

jehanna at gn apc org Tue Jul 14 1998

Subject: All the best with the new home

Good to hear from you -- thanks for the address change info. Once you're settled, we look forward to hearing what your new place is like. And whether either of you is getting involved in rolling back the tide of Pauline Hanson threatening to engulf Qld in a new wave of Bjelke-Petersenism holding all that lovely weather to ransom once again.

You should soonish receive by snail mail a copy of my Aussie trip report -- we failed to make contact with you while we were being engulfed by family-catching-up in Sydney. We realised once we reached Melbourne that this was because you must have been caught up with Eric's heart attack at the time.

Perhaps next time (neither of us has visited the Barrier Reef, and my only visit to Qld was half an hour at Brisbane airport on the way back from New Guinea when I was about eight), or if you make it over here?

All best wishes for a trouble-free move,

Wendy Weller

Tue Jul 14 1998

Subject: Re: your mail

Keep me listed. I may be non-communicative, but I still voyeur some. I'd like to read about the move. Good luck. Weller

Terry Dowling

Tue Jul 14 1998

Subject: Re: Missing the 11th

Thanks for your email and the recent fanzines. Things certainly have been happening for you two. I truly meant to be there on Saturday 11th, but, wouldn't you know, my Dad had a bypass (five grafts) done on Thursday and it kept me looking after Mum. Dad is 77, so it was a delicate time. Things seem to be okay now though. But I wanted to call in and pay my respects, just see you both. Sorry. I hope this is paradise for both of you, going north, and please know my thoughts are with you. It's just a shame it's going to have to be conventions before we see one another. I hope it all goes smoothly. Eric, you rest, y'hear?!!!

Tim Jones

timothy.jones at vuw ac nz Thu Jul 16 1998

Subject: Re: Change of address

It may already be too late, but ... thanks for the copies of Gegenschein and the recent messages. I'm glad to hear your recovery is going so well, and I wish both you and Jean well in your new abode!

Lloyd Penney

1706-24 Eva Rd. Etobicoke, ON CANADA M9C 2B2 August 31, 1998

It's been some time since I'd last heard from you, but I've certainly heard about your current health problems...I hope your heart is at least working better, and you're feeling better. In the meantime, I have the package of Gegenscheins you sent, issues 80, 81 and 82. Issue 82 leaves me uncertain about your e-mail address, so I will send this letter to Jean's e-mail address.

80...I don't I've yet read much of Janice and Alan's trip report. I'd love nothing better than to come and visit with the lot of you, but only the national lottery's burdening me with untold wealth could ever make that come about.

I have not read Spider Robinson's Lifehouse, but I had it highly recommended to me for a strange enthusiastic reader said there are two characters the spitting images of Yvonne and myself. After your review, Eric, I'm no longer certain this is a good thing. However, I have ordered the book from Bakka, so I shall make that judgement for myself.

I believe that Garth Spencer did send me issue 7 of SerCon PopCult LitCrit FanMag, and I did respond to it. Now, Garth is on to another title, The Royal Swiss Navy Gazette.

It is hard to believe that senior fans like F.M. Busby, Bill Bowers and even Mike Glicksohn are on-line. I suspect, though, that they use the Internet as I would...simply as a way to avoid postage costs, and to make the mail move much faster.

81...I had considered myself a candidate for a heart attack, given my own stressful work situation...I have just changed jobs to one that is fairly stress-free, but the old boss can't take the hint. He's threatening to sue me. I'm almost certain that he can't, but he's manic enough to keep trying.

Wish we could have been at that Ditto. The first Ditto was in Toronto, and I haven't been to one since. One Ditto was in Ann Arbor, MI, but at the time, we barely had enough money for bus fare.

Another fan who loves Ethiopian food! It has wonderful taste, as long as it stays hot. Once it cools down, there's a strange aftertaste I don't like. So, the only solution is to eat it fast.

Jeff Schalles was at the Baltimore Worldcon, but Geri was not... the pressures of work kept her at home. I missed her this year, and we've only met once.

82...All non-American currencies have taken a beating against the US$. The Canadian dollar stands at 64 cents or so, and I gather the Australian dollar hangs at about 60 cents.

The public response to the Internet seems to be on the wane. Many people are giving up their Internet accounts, even the free ones, and their web sites as well, finding that the least enjoyable part of maintaining those websites is updating them. It's cooler to have the site than to have anything to put on it. You may be getting away from an awful lot, but you are going to a more restful lifestyle. I suspect that should you semi-gafiate, you may miss fannish follies after a while.

I will wrap up and fire this off electronically. I hope there will be more issues, with more updates on your health, and descriptions of the new home in Airlie Beach. Take care, and be well, and keep in touch.

Yours, Lloyd Penney.


Susan and Graeme Batho "... wish you both the very best in your new home."

Sheryl Birkhead 15 July 1998 "congrats on the new digs; Ghood thoughts for health. Sheesh - you try to keep those risk factors minimal and it can still happen to you... You say you found a builder, etc. I presume that means your home is being built for you?" {{ No, just renovated. EL}}

Andy Porter's Science Fiction Chronicle is a monthly Hugo nominated newsmagazine, essential reading for those interested in the SF field.

A science fiction fanzine from Eric Lindsay, who moved to PO Box 640, Airlie Beach, Qld 4802 Australia. Jean's phone number is (07) 4948 0450. I don't have a home phone. Jean stole it, because I wasn't there. Then she stole the phone line (07) 4948 0435 for her fax, because I wasn't using the line. Then she stole my modem, because I wasn't using it. Then she borrowed time on my desktop computer when her one broke. Then she borrowed my laptop computer, since she wanted to run Windows 98 and Office 2000 (beta) for an editing job. I think my Psion is still safe. It reminds me of the time Dorothy Parker was asked by her editor why she wasn't in the newspaper office, and she replied "Someone was using the pencil". Commenced late August 1998, unlikely to be finished until February. You think you get more time when you don't have a job? Hah, have I got news for you!