Monthly Archives: January 2014

Status update 2014

–Bob Fleming, The Fast Show

beavbuttsickYes, folks, I haven’t posted much so far in 2014, but unfortunately I’ve been battling a nasty lingering cough, either the same one I’ve had since Christmas, or a close relative that’s taken over from the original.  So much for being healthier and getting sick less often!  Mind you, there’s a lot of it about — especially in my office, where even the indefatigable Aussie woman (my de facto boss on laptop matters) spends all day coughing as badly as me.  The worst part is, I’ve been taking antibiotics since Wednesday, and although it was better on Thursday, it got worse again on Friday — so is my quack trying to ruin my life?

Naturally I have a date on Sunday evening, though this time I might be wise and postpone it rather than hope Lemsip Max Strength etc. can hold back the symptoms… and that brings me onto the main thrust of this entry (ooh, Matron!) — how I’m getting on with my list of quasi-resolutions for the New Year: (excuse me while I copy and paste from the original post…)

  1. Get laid: obviously incomplete as yet, due to my cold-related misery, though I am at least meeting and talking to young women, and hope to have formed closer ties (i.e. second base) before too long.  The girl I’m seeing on Sunday is one I managed to chat up at a meetup event, and I’m hoping she hasn’t friend-zoned me already and actually wants our meeting to be a date.  There’s also a Japanese woman raised in America (ah, that sounds like a nice combination!) who has gotten in touch with me via after I met her friend in, er, June, so maybe I’ll get to meet her as well. However, it’ll probably be February at the earliest that I can see anyone, unless Beechams have found a cure by Sunday evening!
  2. Get a new job: since I hope to wait at my current workplace until I can be made redundant, this one’s also on hold — but rest assured I’m studying for my Windows 7 exam, which is a necessary stepping stone.  I’m even managing to do well at the mock exams, as instead of bitching about it, I’m researching the stuff in questions that isn’t in the study material (e.g. the Scanstate switch /efs:copyraw)!
  3. Get rid of my books: haven’t made any progress on this per se (got no reply from Friern Barnet People’s Library when I asked if I could donate), but have started getting Kindle e-books to read on my gigantic smartphone, and may put the credit I got for my old phone towards a proper Kindle.  Pratchett’s on Kindle, and so are some free out-of-copyright books (such as my favourite novel of all time, The War of the Worlds — no, it doesn’t have Tom Cruise on the cover!), so it’s the right time to switch.
  4. Get buff: although the mucus in my lungs is restricting my breath, I have at least continued seeing my personal torturer regularly, who reckons I’m still doing well, and that I most certainly have my strongman great-grandfather’s genes!  A pity my weight continues to hover around 13st. (that’s about 180lb. for our American readers, and some number of kilograms for everyone else), but perhaps it’s muscle.
  5. Get better at climbing: again, due to my illness, I’ve only been climbing a couple of times — but I’m definitely making progress towards doing 6a routes, thanks to the Session instructors at the Castle.  And now that “best mate” lives in Manor House, I hope to be able to climb with him a lot more often, as he at least won’t have to worry about getting home afterwards!
  6. Get more Gwar: sorry, Oderus, I haven’t even ordered War Party yet — but don’t cleave me in twain with Unt Lick, for I still go “yyyes!” whenever your mighty group of alien barbarian demigods come on in my musical rotation.  I’ll order it once this damn cold’s gone, how about that?  Release the cure to the vile disease you created, and I’ll pay you money so Sleazy can buy you some crack!
  7. Get a guitar: no, not catarrh, I’ve got enough of that already!  I bought a cheap guitar from Cash Converters (decent enough to practice on), and have learned to tune it thanks to an app; I’ve been strumming with middling success, and am learning to switch between A- and D-chords, thanks to a “learn the guitar” book that the previous owner had left in the bag.  However, I don’t have much time to practice at the moment, what with everything else that’s going on — and I found out I can’t approximate the opening to “New York Mining Disaster 1941”, because even though I know how to play an A-chord, Barry Gibb tunes his guitar Hawaiian-style, rather than “normal” fashion!
  8. Get a driving licence: not begun, as I want to get my new job in the bag first.
  9. Get in touch with my father: I’ve got too much else going on to even begin this one!
  10. Get the hell out of here: another one I won’t begin until earlier ones are done (at least getting rid of excess books so I have less to transport, and finding a new job so I know where I should live).

Now, while you may find this list disappointing, remember it is only January, and I’m feeling generally lousy — and going out frequently doesn’t help.  Why, on Monday evening I’ve got to go to a singles yoga event, because the yoga guy is playing host to my dating coach — so that’s two of the people who have helped me in one place (my personal torturer won’t be there too, he’s already married!).  I’ve also got personal training on Friday, but I hope to leave the rest of the week free to recuperate, or at least ride out the worst of it… and, of course, to study.

And despite my miserable condition, I’m still doing amazing things: er, like replacing the hard drive in my mother’s computer (the miniature one I got her for Christmas in 2012), which had begun clicking loudly, even though it would work perfectly after being turned off and on again (an increasing number of times), and not even give any S.M.A.R.T. status errors.  Because the new one is a Western Digital, I was able to use their free version of Acronis to clone her hard drive across (as I did with my own when I got the SSD — even though my WD drive isn’t the system drive!), and thus obviated having to reinstall Windows 7 from scratch, and download her personal files from Dropbox.

(This will mark the third time I’ve had to return a hard drive to Seagate under warranty… and, I think, the second time it’s not a Seagate drive I’m returning, but one from a different company that they bought out and then somehow caused to fail through telekinesis!)

And that’s all from me tonight — I should to try to sleep now, but I’d still have to get up at midnight for my antibiotic, and probably a cold remedy as well.  And I can’t drink alcohol… Oh Dear, How Sad, Never Mind!

And if no.1 on my list is crossed out by Monday, I’m lying, okay?  (Unless this girl has a catarrh fetish!)

Excessive worry


No, it wasn’t this episode

I worry too much about things.  Yes, I know, big discovery, “epiphany” isn’t just a name black people call their daughters, but I’ll live a happier life if I can sort this out.

(A joke from a 2008 episode of “American Dad!”, so please don’t write in to complain…)

At least today one big worry’s been lifted from my shoulders: my mother’s PC hasn’t died, so I don’t have to go home this weekend to fix it for her (judging from the symptoms she described, it would have been a dead hard drive — so a new HD and a full Windows reinstallation there, not to mention sending the dead one back under warranty…).  Now, while I’m always happy to go home and have the chance to climb with Mumsy (and eat my grandmother’s cooking), this weekend I shall very likely be helping “best mate” with the resolution of his own great worry: he’s finally found a new place to live (indeed, it’s close to the Castle, so we’ll be able to climb together a lot more!), and will need assistance moving his stuff, though he’s hoping to borrow his brother’s van.  Good for him, his four MONTHS of couch-surfing is coming to an end at last!  And it was a similar worry I had in early 2012 that made me physically sick (except I had a definite time limit), so I have some sympathy for his condition.

However, there are other things that I tend to worry about for ages, sometimes having unpleasant conversations in my head, before discovering that I was making a fuss about nothing.  The other night I came home from seeing my personal torturer, to discover that my “Ethernet over powerlines” connection (which enables you to have a wired connection to your router via the powerlines in your house — essential for me as the wireless signal sucks up here) had mysteriously connected me to a completely different router than the one we have in our lounge.  Leaving aside the prospect that our powerlines are somehow connected to those of next door (!), I knew that my housemate — yes, the problematic one — had unplugged the one in the lounge, and I began worrying that he’d thrown it out, and would grin smugly at me in the belief that I couldn’t do a thing about it… but in fact he’d just not known what it was, and barely knew once I’d explained it, but actually had no problem!

It happened earlier this year, with someone I actually like: during my post-holiday blues, the nice lady at work (the one whose support got me through the bad times in late 2011/early 2012 — I was fortunate she was “between pregnancies” at the time!) wanted me deal with some files in our archive; when I discovered that they were in a totally rubbish state (how did social workers even use them before passing them down to us?!), I was expecting an argument or a telling-off… but in fact she agreed with me, and we passed the task to the two admins upstairs, who had provided the things to us in the first place!

And then there’s the apprehension I feel about fictional things that I think will horrify me… such as “The Great Escapo”, a Kenny Everett sketch from 1983 in which he plays an escapologist (with the obligatory comedy German accent) who gets ground up in a cement mixer, minced in a mincing machine and liquidised in a blender, the idea being that his lovely assistant will then drink him, “and zen, I shall escape!”.  I was deeply traumatised when my folks let me watch this as a five-year-old (my mother telling me it was just a dummy, ice cream etc. didn’t help), and I was still disgusted as a young adult when I saw it again on my friend’s compilation tape.  So, in 2012, back when I still used to fink off to the toilet to watch things on my media player, and I was working my way through the works of Cuddly Ken, I felt a great deal of trepidation as this, S3E3 of The Kenny Everett Television Show, approached… and, as usual, I’d worried about nothing, because I didn’t puke, or even feel nauseous!  It’s almost as though I’d become a different person…

(Neither did I when I watched the Japanese anime movie “Akira” for the first time in years… though the awful “dubtitles” may already have deadened me to nausea!)

So, I’m going to avoid worry from now on, if I can — yoga will certainly help, and perhaps I can thus stop feeling apprehension whenever I’m on a 12m. wall at the climbing centre (which I can be more often now, thanks to “best mate” moving nearby!).  And, of course, I’ll try not to worry about what girls might say to me if I try to chat to them, or what they might think of me if I only chat up one girl and not another… yeah, good luck with that, Dave.

What I won’t worry about, however, is the notion that even though I said “Hatred” would be the last negative emotion I explore, I’m still using the same category in my posts — I might do one on “Sadness” too, if I can find enough YouTube clips about the moments in fiction that make me teary-eyed.  Perhaps sadness and worry aren’t entirely “negative”, but ambivalent?  Or maybe this blog is being written piecemeal and would undergo a shedload of editing and rearranging if it ever became a book — which it won’t, “e” or otherwise!

History regurgitates itself

sisyphusRemember the horrible time I had in January 2012 trying to find a new place to live, exacerbated by my landlord having wrongly let me believe he could get me into one of his single-occupant places on Caledonian Road, which meant I didn’t even start looking until it was almost too late, and ended up with terrible, crippling nausea?  Well, it’s all happening again… except this time to “best mate”, as though that’s any consolation.  It’s worse for him, though, because he’s been enduring this for months now — and he really did have the perfect place in his grasp until around 6pm this evening…

It would have been very nice to have him living locally — in fact, in the next street over from the Tube station — as even though it lacked an Internet connection, it would have been cheap, I could have kept an eye on him, we could hang out more often than him driving up from Willesden Green would allow, and above all, his housing problems would be over.  He’s been couch-surfing in his brother’s flat for months now, and apart from the pain that comes from sleeping on a settee, he just wants his own room again… but finding out tonight, as his phone ran out of power, that the landlady was giving it to someone else because he didn’t have £100 on him at the time, left him feeling physically sick and unable to have pizza with me, so he went home in disgust and depression.

Rather like my finding an excellent flat in Hornsey in January 2012, only to discover a couple of days  later, after the guy had been ignoring my texts, that the place had “gone”, don’t you think?  That was undoubtedly the very worst time of my life, and the nausea I’d felt every day from Friday the 13th onwards, as a result of the horrible studio flats I saw on the 12th (a month after the infamous “Twelve-Twelve”) didn’t help my situation.  There were times I truly wanted to end it all, or worse, move back to Worthing with my folks (though at times I wonder if that might have benefitted me in other ways, e.g. giving me the chance to learn to drive outside London), and it was only through sheer determination — and, perhaps, a touch of bloody-mindedness — that enabled me to last to the end of… well, that WEEK, when I was finally offered the chance to live where I am now.

Yeah, I only had to face a week of it (though the months before and the period after were no picnic either), and “best mate” has been going through this madness for months now — ever since I kept his big incense-smelling box of stuff in my room for a while in the early autumn (in order to free space in his car before he could put stuff into storage).  Now that he’s mentioned painkillers, or worse, moving back to Ireland just to have his own room, I feel despair…

I was told during my own worst period that February is the best time to look for a place, as lots of people start changing their minds about their lives and move on to pastures new, so I can only hope “best mate” hangs in there a bit longer, and that I can help him find somewhere to live, preferably not on the other side of London.  After all, what would I do without him?  I know I wouldn’t have made it this far, that’s for sure, so I want to do whatever I can to stop him going through the same stuff that happened to me.

My friend’s housing isn’t the only way in which 2012 badness has repeated on me like a foul-smelling belch: tonight I took a Windows 7 exam and failed dismally, because the questions bore no resemblance whatsoever to those that came with the course material.  At least this time I was accessing an online question dump as practice, rather than paying to take an actual exam — I haven’t arranged the big one yet, so I’ve got as much time as I need to figure out how I’m going to pass, but it’s discouraging, to say the least.  It doesn’t help when someone tells you you’re wrong but doesn’t tell you how you’re wrong — because how are you supposed to improve?  (A problem I had at school when I tried to do the javelin and everyone laughed at me, but never mind that now…)

At least tonight I recaptured a bit of 2010’s optimism, as the webinar I was constrained to attend tonight was based on Windows Server 2008, which reminded me of studying the 2003 version during my MCSE course, and even encouraged me to get out my old notebook and realise I understood the stuff I’d noted down back then (even if I hadn’t written it down properly!).  Maybe I didn’t make the best of the situation back then, nearly four years ago, but I can correct that now, at least… but between the webinar and waiting in vain for “best mate” (I ended up having beans and veggie sausages out of a tin for dinner, just because it was quick), I wasn’t able to go to yoga this evening, which is a shame.  I wonder if things would have turned out differently if I’d been there with my pal, perhaps with an offer to run to a cashpoint…

Oh, and I suppose getting a new smartphone is a rehash of 2012 as well, but a rather better experience thus far than getting a Nokia N97 and then having it die after a couple of weeks!

Plans for the year ahead

Okay, this’ll be a quick one (though check back in case I think of anything else in the next couple of days) — instead of making new year’s resolutions to give things up, which traditionally get broken around the 3rd, I’m going to vow to do things during the year ahead:

  1. Get laid.  Yeah, I said it — but it’s true, I need to undergo this “rite of passage” and stop waiting for my future wife to somehow appear in my life and sweep me off my feet, which is stupid.  Although I didn’t get lucky in 2013 (which is a pity, as 13 is my lucky number), the fact that I dated six women means I feel optimistic that 2014 will finally be “my” year…
  2. Get a new job.  Well, this one’s been an aspiration for almost as long as no.1, but in 2014, assuming I don’t choke and blow my chances completely, I will finally be able to undertake my unpaid IT work placement and then, hopefully go into something full-time that can pay the bills and not totally stultify me.  However, I’m going to try to stay in my job until they make me redundant, which would mean mo’ money to sustain me during the intermission.  Annoying woman notwithstanding, of course.
  3. Get rid of my books.  No, I’m not becoming an anti-intellectual — but now I’ve got a phone with a big screen, I’m going to read e-books instead.  And if the phone doesn’t work out, I’ll get a cheap Kindle… yes, Kindle, I’m throwing my lot in with Amazon, because even if they screw us as taxpayers, at least they pass the savings on to us as customers!  (Starbucks, on the other hand, can go f*** themselves…)  Hopefully I can give all my “dead tree” books to Friern Barnet “People’s Library”; it’s certainly better than giving them to a charity shop, where they’ll never get sold (especially the paperbacks).  I hope they’ll take all my back issues of Private Eye as well, so I don’t have to recycle them!  (Dear Lord Gnome, any chance we might pay to view your mighty organ online, rather than having to manhandle it in the real world?)
  4. Get buff.  Even though my weight’s rebounded to almost 13 stone thanks to Christmas, that’s still a stone less than this time last year, and with the help of my personal torturer (even if he’s got to increase his prices soon), I think I can turn myself into a chiselled hunk of a man.  I won’t get the guns out for just anyone, though: only women who agree to help me with no.1 above.  (Whaddaya mean, I’ll need a better inducement than that?  Obviously I’ll buy them dinner as well!)
  5. Get better at climbing.  I’ve been stuck at 5+ for too long; it’s high time I did some 6a and 6b climbs, isn’t it?  It’ll also help with no.4 above, obviously, and perhaps I’ll meet someone to help me with no.1 as well.  I also want to help my mother get back into it, so hopefully (if the trains aren’t totally screwed up) she can join me here in London one weekend soon, for a visit to the Castle!
  6. Get more Gwar.  No, don’t groan, you knew this was coming!  I’ve got five albums to get before I’m fully up to date, and though I wish I could find the rare live albums like You’re All Worthless and Weak, it looks like I have to settle for the mainstream stuff — War Party, Beyond Hell, Lust in Space, Bloody Pit of Horror and Battle Maximus.  At least now I’ll be able to hear Cory Smoot as lead guitarist Flattus Maximus!  (Oh great,now I’ve got “Immortal Corrupter” stuck in my head yet again… no, Oderus, it won’t help if you behead me!)
  7. Get a guitar.  Yes, seriously!  I’ve enjoyed listening to metal so much that I want to join in — I may not get good enough to jam along with Gwar (see no.6), but if I can play anything intelligible, I’ll be quite pleased with myself.  My first milestone will be to play the opening to “New York Mining Disaster 1941” by the Bee Gees; if I can do that without constantly retuning or complaining about calluses, I’ll have passed the test…
  8. Get a driving licence.  I’ve got to study IT for now (see no.2), but once I’m finished with that, and assuming I’m not spending all my free time becoming a rock god (see no.7), I’ll be able to correct a glaring oversight in my skillset.  Well, I’ve been living in London for ten years, and before that I was saving all my money for university, so I’ve never had the chance until now — but if I decided to live outside London in the future, and especially in some parts of Surrey, I’ll need to be able to control an internal combustion-driven transportation device to adequate specifications.
  9. Get in touch with my father.  This is something I didn’t even begin to sort out in 2013, but we’ll see if I can do it in 2014.  Perhaps I can drive to see him (see no.8), but if not, maybe “best mate” will agree to make a road trip of it, and then take me to the pub afterwards to cry into my cider or whatever when it turns out he wants nothing to do with me, or worse, has gone bald and tells me it’s hereditary.
  10. Get the hell out of here.  Once I know where I’m working (see no.2), I fully intend to move nearer my new workplace — perhaps sharing with “best mate”, if I can help him sort out his own working life.  Our landlady’s putting up the rent as a result of doing up both our bathrooms, and what with my problem housemate (really glad I wasn’t here for New Year, judging from what he got up to!), it’ll be good to move on, especially if I’ve got less to transport this time around (see no.3).

Yep, it’s my ten-step programme to a brighter future in 2014 — or, as I call it, “ten gets for a git”!  Let’s meet back here in 12 months and see how many I achieved.  Of course, if by then I’m an overweight, unemployed, fatherless woman-hating loser, still stuck in this very room and surrounded by piles of paperbacks… well, hopefully I’ll at least be listening to some new Gwar songs and learning the guitar chords?