What the future holds for family; thought provocation from journalist Liz Jones

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I noticed an article in the Mail on Sunday today; it was by Liz Jones, the self-deprecating journalist who lives with her life on her sleeve. She was talking about mental health and depression, particularly in women over 60, resulting from the stresses of trying to balance their lives, looking after grandchildren, children and ageing parents. However, perhaps their concern is to do with the realisation that their own life is possibly coming to an end soon and the worry of, ‘Have I done enough for everyone; have I passed enough information about life on to my kids to ensure that they have an easier passage through it than I did?’

In reading Liz’s article, http://dailym.ai/1bzgXu3, I realised that without having consciously considered it, I have finally taken on board, (with my wife’s assistance of course) how very different Man and Woman is. Men tend to see a problem and want to fix it and then move on, whereas a woman will analyse the problem, project it forward infinitely and worry about possible future problems. I realise this statement could be considered both sexist and glib, however in real terms, both approaches are absolutely necessary to provide a balanced solution to family life.

My novel, The Greatest Gift, considers the future in terms of probable increased life span and improved intelligence and it’s my take on what might happen if humans were to live for far longer than they do at present. In it, I explore the possibilities of a much longer life and the difficulties that might raise. I further this ‘exploration’ in book two, Drifting Sands, which I am currently writing. However, with time being plentiful, disease under control and intelligence vastly increased, what would Man do? Imagine then, 20-30 generations all living at one period in time; it’s a bit of a worry!

Ken Balneaves wrote, The Greatest Gift, available at http://amzn.to/QF7RLd (US), http://amzn.to/O12kgX (UK)

School holiday time, let’s stop hiking

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I read in the #SundayTimes today that at present Mr Gove has restricted parents from the previously accepted 10% withdrawal rule; to allow parents to avoid expensive school holiday periods. However, “From 2015, schools will have the option to alter term dates to avoid peak-season holidays.” Is this not, putting the cart before the horse?

These days, I am not affected by school holiday hikes in charges as my kids are grown up and until they have children, I can avoid these busy periods. However, that said, it has never been clear to me why prices should be increased at school holiday periods as it is grossly unfair on families, ours included in years gone by.

Surely, the answer is not to cause massive disruption to school terms, with the inevitable, one child off and the other not, due to differing school holiday policies. The answer is for government(s) to legislate against travel companies that increase their prices during school holiday time.

So Mr Gove, as Education Secretary, ever concerned about budgeting, how about understanding the pressures families are under and allow parents to keep their money by driving legislation to prevent price increases by holiday companies during school holiday time. In my view, that would be a far better use of your and Government’s time than restructuring school terms.

Until then Parents, follow the lead of the train drivers and vote with your feet; a one year embargo on companies who hike prices would soon see prices tumbling.

Ken Balneaves wrote, The Greatest Gift, available at http://amzn.to/QF7RLd (US), http://amzn.to/O12kgX (UK)

Frack to the future, or the past?

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So, Fracking. Is it the incendiary for further seismic activity that will ultimately screw our planet, or is it the short term answer to our energy crisis? Answers chiseled on an tablet of stone please.

Methinks we need to solve fusion and fast.

Ken Balneaves wrote, The Greatest Gift, available at http://amzn.to/QF7RLd (US), http://amzn.to/O12kgX (UK)


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Star Trek; facts about fiction.

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As a science fiction writer, I always try to use correct science; I think it makes my books more believable. However, as a science nut, it’s easy to become sidetracked when researching science facts. Recently I found this, non-relevant but nevertheless fascinating information about one of the best science fiction programmes ever, Star Trek.

Take a look,

Find out how Star Trek's fictional high technology works in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Ken Balneaves wrote, The Greatest Gift, available at http://amzn.to/QF7RLd (US), http://amzn.to/O12kgX (UK)


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Ever wondered how the auroras borealis lights phenomenon happens?

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When I’m writing I always try and use correct science, even though I write science-fiction, it makes it more believable. In my research, sometimes I come across other, non-relevant but nevertheless fascinating information. Here’s an explanation of the auroras borealis that I read recently; just amazing.

Leave me a comment if you’ve been to see them in the North; I’m proposing to go later this, or next year.

Find out where to see sky-filling aurora lights, in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source: SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Ken Balneaves wrote, The Greatest Gift, available at http://amzn.to/QF7RLd (US), http://amzn.to/O12kgX (UK)


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History made today; International Space Station now only 4 hours journey time.

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This is really interesting. Expedition 36 to the the Soyuz space capsule has today reduced the time it takes to reach the International Space Station by 87%; from 2 days to just 6 hours (including 2 hours decompression time for the astronauts), quicker than from London to New York! Vertically, it’s only the equivalent of about 60 mph but horizontally, that’s more than 25,000 mph for the four orbits round earth that it takes to catch up with the ISS, which orbits at 17,240 mph.

If you’re a space nut like me, that’s progress. Check out the following details.

Learn all about Russia's workhorse Soyuz space capsule in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source: SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Ken Balneaves wrote, The Greatest Gift, available at http://amzn.to/QF7RLd (US), http://amzn.to/O12kgX (UK)


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Time, the scarcest commodity in life and one that evades me.

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Well, it’s been awhile. I haven’t had time to write a blog in ages; months. Fact is, I haven’t had time to write my sequel either, until I went on holiday recently that is. Three weeks away from the humdrum of my day job and my mind is sparked into life. I wrote about 15,000 words in that time, whilst cruising round the Norwegian fjords and then the Mediterranean; I’m now two thirds of the way through writing, Drifting Sands, the sequel to my first book, The Greatest Gift, a tale that until last week, I didn’t know where it was going. But, despite a gap of nearly five months in my writing, it still came to me. As soon as I sat down and allowed my mind to wander, it flowed; it’s as though my fingers have little tongues, licking the keyboard into submission, telling a story that sometimes even I haven’t heard. Well now I do, the story is formed. Take a look, see what you think,

“When, from beyond the grave, Sir Stuart Harper introduced the SHINE programme, he never expected such cataclysmic consequences as a result of his procedures, but the immense augmentation to human lifespan and intelligence caused a demoralising and self-destructive effect on mankind. Richard Harper, Sir Stuart’s grandson, the receiver of the plan and implementer of the enhancements, had had misgivings when he rolled out the programme in 2012 and ever since, on occasion, he sensed all was not well. Now, 200 years on, the utopian world Sir Stuart had foreseen was no longer there, its path had deviated and man’s very existence was seriously under threat.

Young Stuart Harper, Richard’s son, was a troubled soul, desperately unhappy with his life. Sure, he had been given the option of having his intelligence and lifespan vastly enhanced and to that he had willingly agreed at the time, but he was only a child then. Now, with his superior IQ, which still remained substantially higher than his peers, after 200 years, he was finding his longevity tiresome, an ordeal. He believed there must be more to his being. His scientist father, Richard, was the main target of his dissatisfaction, blamed by his son for meddling with nature.

Stuart wasn’t alone in these thoughts, there were others. Many were so disaffected with their lives, they couldn’t cope and committed suicide to escape their terminal tedium. Others, less overwhelmed by the futility but nonetheless disconsolate, vented their feelings by rebelling against Stuart’s father and the authorities. But Stuart’s own escape was achieved in a very different manner, no contumacy from him. He decided to use his vast intelligence, in a positive way. He chose to explore times gone-by to see if history could teach him something he could use to advantage in his own time, something to rejuvenate his interest in life and as he delved into the past, he found it. He discovered a young woman who quickly became the focus of his intense scrutiny, someone who would change his life, forever.

But the journey of love is a difficult enough path to tread under normal circumstances, a challenging affair at the best of times. Add class and cultural differences to the mix and the probabilities of its success diminish. Add to that, different time zones and surely a relationship is doomed to failure?”

It’s ironic really, I haven’t enough time, to write about time. However, watch this space, it shouldn’t be long now and let me know if you like the concept.

Cheers for now.

Ken Balneaves also wrote, The Greatest Gift, available at http://amzn.to/QF7RLd (US), http://amzn.to/O12kgX (UK)


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How many o’s does it take to say too?

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It seems to me that too many people don’t know when to use ‘to’ and when to use ‘too’. In Facebook posts, I constantly come across incorrect usage of both words and I find it quite irritating.

‘Too’ means, in addition; also; to an excessive extent, i.e. too sick to travel, whereas ‘to’, is used for expressing motion or direction toward a point, person, place, or thing, i.e.they came to the house.

One way to choose is to think, do I mean in addition; also or to an excessive extent? If so, an additional ‘o’ is required. Otherwise, ‘to’ will do.

I’m not aware of any rhymes to remember this but I’d be pleased to hear from anyone who is.

Ken Balneaves wrote, The Greatest Gift, available at http://amzn.to/QF7RLd (US), http://amzn.to/O12kgX (UK)


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Sometimes, as I write, it all becomes clear.

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So, November nearly over and I’ve had the worst month in this past year for blog views. Okay, I’ve surpassed last year’s November figures but that was before Triberr. Something’s not right. Even my book sales are struggling. The woes of a self publisher who also has a day job. Not good. In fact I’ve not even had time to blog recently.

Ah, Eureka moment, maybe that’s why my blog views are lower than I would have expected. Right, early New Year’s Resolution, ‘Must blog more often’. Let’s see how long it takes to break that one!

Ken Balneaves wrote, The Greatest Gift, available at http://amzn.to/QF7RLd (US), http://amzn.to/O12kgX (UK)


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For a writer, is there a place for the Red Herring?

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I’ve just read in a newspaper that, as a result of 50 shades, a couple have decided to divorce. It seems that sex is the problem; the woman wants to spice it up a bit but, the man doesn’t want any of it. Now, I can’t believe of any man, that he wouldn’t be up for a bit more adventure in the bedroom department, or anywhere else for that matter, so I’m surmising that the journalist has it wrong (no surely not, I hear you say) or, that there must be a deeper reason for their divorce, 50 Shades being only the trigger.

In a similar vane (okay, not that similar, but equally ridiculous), I once heard of a couple divorcing over stollen mushrooms. That is to say, she was preparing dinner and he kept stealing and eating the raw mushrooms as she peeled them. Very irritating I’m sure, if she’s in the wrong mood, but divorce material? I don’t think so.

These two examples show how people in real life make up reasons for why episodes happen in their lives; the ‘red herring’, and it seems people are prepared to accept them.

This all helps when writing, leading a reader down a path that might have little bearing on the actual plot. This could be particularly useful when trying to draw a story out, if you’ve got too close to the conclusion too soon in a story, and could save hours of rewriting. However, I think it would have to be used carefully; if you feed your reader too much bull, they will not thank you for it, but a well written diversion could be fun. Or would it? Perhaps, in the way that I read between the lines on the 50 Shades reason above, the reader will accept it only if they just don’t care? Actually, on reflection, as I write this piece, I don’t believe that at all! If you have to ‘fill a story’, it can’t be a very good one. So, bite the bullet, ditch that work and re-write it.

Ken Balneaves wrote, The Greatest Gift, available at http://amzn.to/QF7RLd (US), http://amzn.to/O12kgX (UK)


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