Monthly Archives: April 2014

More annoyances

And another thing!
–Prince Charles as a cabbie, Spitting Image

gmgWell, it had to happen eventually in 2014: a moany post in my blog.  A number of things are bugging me at the moment, and they’re probably all my fault somehow…

(Don’t worry, no girl troubles this time around — my efforts continue…)

First of all, our fridge-freezer seemed to be working again on Monday morning, but today has stopped, like, being cool inside, just like it did on Friday and Saturday.  I and the other housemate who uses the fridge part have tried turning it off and on again (the tried and tested Microsoft method, which I’m going to have to tell people to use when I’m in tech support, no doubt) to no avail, so I’ll have to let the landlady know tomorrow that we still need a replacement.  Of course, my crazy drummer housemate may have done something to it, as he was claiming on Tuesday that it’s “supposed” to turn itself off for 48 hours every so often in order to defrost the freezer — apparently without warning, so you have no way to avoid losing all your refrigerated and frozen food.  I think we can safely say the thing’s broken and be done with it… I certainly won’t be buying Zanussi products for myself if this is how long they last — and even if we’d registered it and gotten a year’s warranty, we got it 13 months ago…

I confirmed the thing was kaput this evening after coming home from a Japanese meetup event (side annoyance: the Central Line to Liverpool St. was horrible thanks to the strike, even though the Northern Line is business as usual), and moreover after walking into my room to discover that the archive boxes I’d neatly stacked in the alcove behind my computer had all come crashing down… fortunately my PC is fine (otherwise I wouldn’t be blithering on my blog tonight, would I?), but the bottom box is clearly crushed beyond utility.  Oh well, I should probably have been using the plastic tubs I used in my house move anyway, so I’ll put my books and back issues of Private Eye in those instead, rather than keep them stacked on top of my wardrobe.  There, one problem solved…

My other annoyances are computer-related.  First of all, Mozilla have updated Firefox with a look and feel that is very different from how it’s been for ages, with no easy way of turning it back.  I’m investigating “classic” themes that have understandably sprung up, made by people more skilful than me to combat a problem that didn’t need to be… and on the same day, I note Microsoft issued a “patch” for Windows 7 that’s supposed to aid “upgrading” to the latest version of Windows.  As if I would ever consider touching Windows 8 with a bargepole!

(Ah ha ha ha, touching, because it’s a touchscreen-focused OS… no?  Oh, please yourselves!)

And finally… I may have gotten into an online argument with “female best friend’s” husband regarding marriage.  I saw he’d posted in some thread in some group on Facebook (yes, I know, Internet discussions, whatever), and felt the need to contribute: it was decrying the notion of polygamous marriage, with the usual Daily Mail-esque sarcastic comments along the lines of “oh, I suppose people will be marrying inanimate objects next, it’s the thin end of the wedge!”.  I tried to post reasonably, but it seems the thread initiator (as well as my quasi-brother-in-law) doesn’t object to this, or to gay marriage, as long as they’re not called marriage, because he feels that to do otherwise would lead to marriage meaning “anything”, and therefore “nothing”.

I posted that I was disappointed it was just an argument about semantics and “ownership” of words, and that it would have been for women to be told, when they got the vote, that they couldn’t call it “voting” because that would reduce the value of voting, and the discussion went all quiet… maybe I was being a bit emotive with my argument, but hey — if it was a debate then I was debating; and if it wasn’t, and was just one of those “post how much you agree with me about this sort of thing” threads, then it deserved to be, ahem, “trolled”, because fixed, entrenched ideas about tradition need to be challenged!  Not automatically swept into the dustbin of history, just challenged — as above, I am against change for the sake of it, and do feel that only truly committed couples (or trios etc.) should get married.  But hey, how many “normal” marriages are shams…

Ah, one final annoyance has presented itself this evening: my mother’s trying to scan a letter from the Stupid Loans company, since they’re so stupid that they want me to respond within 14 days to a letter dated 15 days ago.  (Is it the fault of second-class post?)  Naturally, her printer/scanner’s chosen this exact moment to not work properly, so I may just have to call them tomorrow to let them know I definitely want to defer again, and that maybe, if they want me to reply within 2 weeks of the date on the letter, they ought to send it less than 2 weeks after the date.  Which I can, of course, do after phoning my landlady to say that we need a new fridge-freezer after all — and that this time, we need to register it for the guarantee!

And tomorrow, of course, the annoying woman is back at work… lucky I have a tedious desk-based job to do, so I can listen to music!

Good news and bad news

Hello again — the reason I’m writing on Saturday morning is that there’s some important stuff to report.  I’d have written about the good news on Thursday evening if I’d not been out at a meetup event, or on Friday evening if I hadn’t been hanging out with “best mate” following personal training, but it’s a good job I waited, because now, as of 11am on 26/4/2014, there’s bad news to offset the good news…

beavbutt

As per tradition, I indicated my success on Facebook by posting a clip of these lads playing “Iron Man” on the air guitar… duuun duuun dun-dun-dun etc.

The good news first, obviously.  As you’ve no doubt been hoping, I did indeed pass my Windows 7 exam on Thursday; indeed, I got to the venue so early, and completed the test so quickly, that I’d finished by my arranged start time!  Considering I only got 90% of the 700 pass mark in 2012, it was quite gratifying to get 914 (presumably out of 1000?) this time around.

After having taken two days off to study/worry, I returned to the office on Friday with celebratory Krispy Kremes, and discovered I’d received a bonus: the annoying woman was on annual leave!  I also impressed my personal trainer in the evening, despite, you know, over-indulging in sugary doughnuts…

Of course, the real reward for passing a Windows 7 exam is simply not having to study for it any more, like, EVER, and so I’m just glad to get it out of the way.  I’ve got Server 2008 to worry about as well, but I can take that a bit more slowly, and focus on other things for a while.

(Maybe I’ll finally take guitar lessons?  Maybe I’ll work on chatting up women and socialising?  Or maybe I’ll just stay home and play games…)

fcnoooHowever, the bad news this morning is that our fridge-freezer, the one we got last March (as mentioned here), has gone kaput, bitten the dust, rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.  This is NOT a good thing, as I had quite a bit of frozen food in there, as did others, and the landlady’s not happy about it either, especially since it was her late husband who arranged delivery of it in the first place (and that’s probably dredged up bad memories for her as well).

We don’t seem to have registered the thing with Zanussi (I’m naming and shaming here) at the time of delivery, so I don’t know what’s going to happen next, whether we’ll have to pay for a full replacement, or if we’re even under warranty… but it’s notable that the last fridge-freezer (for which this was a replacement) took a long time to die, considering the freezer door couldn’t be closed properly due to all the ice, so what the hell went wrong with this one?  And it took well over a week for the new one to be delivered last March, and while we at least have another fridge, we have no working freezer yet again… so I guess it’s lucky I’ll be eating out for much of next week, due to some rather busy evenings!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and play Mass Effect 2 until Tony Blackburn comes on the radio.  That’s unless my good news and bad news are followed by ugly news: is the house going to burn down?  Are the ConDems banning video games and music?  Or, worst of all: do I have to tidy my room…?

Need another holiday

Yes, yes, all right, I know, I didn’t write anything during the Easter weekend, naughty Dave-ros, slap on the wrist.  I’d like to say it’s because I was too busy studying, but really, it’s because (despite my previous optimism) I didn’t have anything interesting to say, even by the standards of this blog.

However, I have certainly been studying for my Windows 7 exam on Thursday, and indeed am taking tomorrow off to prepare for it, as well as all of Thursday so I have time to make my way to the venue, which isn’t central except from the point of view of someone in Essex, or possibly the North Sea.  I guess it’s because everyone in convenient locations are going over to Windows 8 exams now (even though no-one actually likes it)?

Oh, I know: I’ve had one day back at work, and I need another two-day holiday!  Well, I still have precious little to do at work, and in any case I had an upset stomach today (possibly due to having mistakenly poured Olbas rather than earwax remover down my lughole last night, or possibly just a standard 24-hour bug), which made me a bit snappy with a social worker, so I’m not sorry to not be going in tomorrow (and I’m sure said SW isn’t either).  What I am sorry about, however, is that I had dinner at Nando’s this evening, as I didn’t have time to go home for dinner before my salsa class, but also didn’t have enough to do to kill time before it started, because I discovered once I got there that it had been cancelled anyway, so I could have eaten more cheaply at home.

Silver lining: the big Co-op opposite the venue actually had some of their animal product-free anti-dandruff shampoo (and also not tested on animals, unlike Head & Shoulders, which I haven’t used since 1999), which was a nice discovery since the one near my folks’ home in Worthing doesn’t stock this particular product (neither does the one in Friern Barnet), and the one near my workplace is closing down and so doesn’t sell much of anything any more.  Alas, the Co-op as a whole seems to be going through all sorts of problems at the moment, and I’m thinking very strongly of ditching my account with their bank, and joining the Halifax instead, if only to get the free £100 for joining — and ahh, I’ve got a day off tomorrow, so I have time to pop into the one on my high street!

(Ethical banking is all very well, but not if I end up losing money because some cokehead couldn’t keep his eye on the ball and bought a dodgy building society… or, er, whatever non-libellous thing actually happened!)

Tomorrow and Thursday aren’t my only days off in the near future, however: apart from two Bank Holidays in May (and to think, I used to resent them when I was at school!), I also intend to spend a week in Worthing keeping my grandmother company while my mother takes a well-earned holiday of her own (if she can find a package that appeals to her, of course).  I can study or play games while having my meals cooked for me, but I’ll have to upgrade the computer in my Worthing room if I want to do anything online, thanks to Windows XP having become a liability — but hey, I have the skills now, I could create a customised WIM file with all the updates, Service Pack 1 etc., and install it from a USB thumbdrive with an Autounattend.xml file so I don’t need to sit there tapping away while it does its thing.

See?  There’s a practical use for this stuff after all!  But I’d better save up my remaining annual leave, in the hope that I’ll be able to quit a few days early in June, and not have to run out the clock doing, er, all that work I don’t have because I keep doing it too quickly…

Welcome to Dumpsville… again

ForeverAloneHi, I’m here after all, as my legs ached too much after the weekend (not to mention climbing on Thursday and personal training on Friday) for me to even think of going to yoga tonight — but rather than spend all my time playing Mass Effect 2 studying Windows 7, I thought I’d tell you about the end of the latest chapter of the ongoing disaster of my love life.  But don’t worry, it’s not a depressing post for a change… well, you might be depressed on my behalf, but I’m actually slightly relieved…

To start at the beginning: another woman asked me out via that dating site where I’ve been asked out at least four times already (but haven’t myself successfully asked anyone out), and she seemed nice, though (a) about my age, with a married younger sister, and (b) possessed of a strong South London accent that made her sound altogether too similar for my liking to Janet Street-Porter.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with people from “sahf Lahndan” (as such), but voice is very important to me, since I always want to talk!

Despite all this, she was nice, and I was willing to give her a chance — and during that first date, we seemed to hit it off, and kissed good night after having held hands while I walked her to the bus stop.  We met again on Saturday, down in the Docklands area, and again we had a good time together (watching Muppets Most Wanted — which was hard for me as I hadn’t seen the first one and so couldn’t follow the complex plotlines — and walking around a museum); I even began hugging her on the DLR home, and again, we kissed goodbye…

But I heard nothing from her until this evening, even though I’d texted her twice!  She’d seemed perfectly happy when we parted, and had said she liked me for my gentlemanly behaviour; alas, it seems she didn’t feel a “spark” between us (could have fooled me), and has now ended it, though she’s happy to be friends.  As opposed to other failures, however, on this occasion it was a relief, because not only did I get closure after less than a couple of days (unlike that previous occasion you may remember, where it took ages to get a response, or other occasions where she just disappeared from my life entirely), but hey, I wasn’t that into this relationship anyway… which sounds like I’m making excuses, I admit!

Well, that’s twice I’ve gotten to a second date and then been let go… maybe next time I’ll get to a third date, and perhaps “full closure”?  Well, I’m not going to worry too much: I’m going to salsa dancing tomorrow evening, and an event run by the dating site on Thursday evening, so it’s not like I’m sitting at home every evening wishing a woman would appear in my life, like I was in 2010 when I was also playing Mass Effect 2 studying Windows 7…

A forewarning

M.C. Hammer in “U Can’t Touch This”, because, er, I couldn’t find a better picture to use

Yes, sorry, I haven’t posted in over a week… and I’m unlikely to be posting during the coming week, due to having foolishly arranged something for every day.  Indeed, Wednesday will be my least busy evening, and that involves visiting the dentist!  (Or as I call the role, “tooth-quack”…)  Even on Good Friday I’ll be seeing my personal trainer during the day, and (hopefully) going on a date in the evening… and this’ll be “date no.3”, so you never know, I may have good news to report during the Easter Weekend, when I’ll be writing from my folks’ home in Worthing!

What other updates can I give, other than the prospect of a love life (and it is only a prospect, as one thing I can make clear is that she isn’t “the one”, but nonetheless I’ll take things as far as I can)?  Well, I have new glasses for the first time since 2011 (so another legacy of that year is gone), but on my way to pick them up, thanks to the Sun (a welcome return to British skies) reflecting off my phone screen, I didn’t realise it wasn’t turned off and so accidentally switched playlists when I was less than 200 songs away from completing another general run-through of all my songs, which I could have finished just in time for Easter.  I reacted to the Universe screwing me over this way by, inevitably, putting Gwar on rotation again (which reminds me, must get Beyond Hell at some point).  Perhaps I’ll write about OCD this weekend, and how I need things to be “just so”… mind you, anyone who saw my room, especially the state it’s in during my current move-around, would imagine I can’t even spell OCD!

Oh, and while my weight remains significantly above 13 stone, despite my best efforts, it may well be muscle mass, as I’m eating lots of protein and my strength keeps increasing, much to my personal trainer’s amazement (not unlike Bruce Willis in Unbreakable)… did I mention my maternal grandfather was the son of a travelling strongman?  Well, guess who British Pathé! just added to YouTube today… this might be me in the future!

Cool things: Gwar

Through the space, through the stone
Where the Master grows his clones
Where legions wage eternal war
We were born in this place
Slaughtering race after race
We were part of the Scumdogs of the Universe!
–Gwar, “Death Pod” (Scumdogs of the Universe)

L-R: lead guitarist Flattus Maximus (RIP), bassist Beefcake the Mighty, drummer Jizmak da Gusha, lead vocalist Oderus Urungus (RIP) and rhythm guitarist Balsac the Jaws of Death

Yeah, c’mon, you didn’t really think I was serious on April Fool’s Day when I said I’d faked being into this band just to be “ironic”, did you?  After I did that touching tribute to the late Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus?  I’m frequently too lazy to post in this blog, yet could I really have managed to weave such a web of deceit over the past year just to sneer at a band that’s not even famous outside the USA?

Okay, maybe part of their allure is the fact that virtually no-one in Britain has heard of them (and most of those who have, heard of them from me) — but perhaps I got into them the same way I got into the Bee Gees: they were bigged up on a beloved comedy show.  With the Brothers Gibb it was that Kenny Everett sketch; with the Scumdogs, however, it was Beavis and Butt-head.  An “air guitar” section in their book, This Book Sucks!, inspired me to listen to some tracks from their second album (and first decent one), Scumdogs of the Universe, and I ended up listening to the whole thing, and eventually buying it on CD!  (So there, all you anti-piracy people — they actually got a sale because I tried before I, er, buyed!)  Before this, I’d seen them review two of their music videos, “Jack the World” and “Saddam a Go-Go” (which I also watched on YouTube in their original form), but I recognised the band at the time because even before that, in 1996, they’d featured on The Big Breakfast one morning, performing “Meat Sandwich”…

(It’s not on YouTube any more thanks to damn inconsiderate copyright vultures, but the Internet equivalent of a white line around a corpse indicates that the exact date was 22nd February 1996, which was a… let me check… Thursday!)

(Oh, and even more creepy: searching Google for “big breakfast 1996 gwar” leads right back to this blog… I’m on Google!!!)

What do I like about them?  Well, I could go on about the hideous costumes, the offensive lyrics, the disgusting stage antics and the bizarre backstory (they’re evil alien barbarian demigods with a base in Antarctica, yet they have a mailing address in Richmond, VA?), but really, it’s the music that I love — the rip-roaring guitars, bass and drumming that make me go “yyyes!” whenever they come on in my general music rotation, and sit there bobbing my head and tapping my feet while I’m typing some drek or other into my computer at work.  Eminem may help me with my emotions, and inspire me to carry on when things are at their worst, but Gwar just basically rock out, and cheer me up when I’m down.

gwar_charity

Flattus and Balsac in the movie “Skulhed Face”; note the older versions of their costumes (and that Flattus was played by a different person back then)

I’ve already spoken at length about how I listen to them in a cycle with my other music, so there’s no need to go over that ground again, but suffice to say, when I was waiting in the cold for my mother to finish her Nuts Challenge mud run, I had them on rotation as a way of staying (in)sane.  I also had them on rotation when I was in America last year (even though I only had four albums at the time), and found they helped me get to sleep when my fellow trekkers were staying up late.  Hey, I found myself drifting off during “The Obliteration of Flab Quarv 7”, a song in which Oderus sings so loudly and incoherently that Balsac the Jaws of Death has to translate, so there you go — I’m not saying they’re boring, I’m saying they’re soothing!

(Yes, there’s a couple of songs whose lyrics have caused me a little ethical dilemma, being of such a nature that Ian Watkins of Lostprophets would doubtless consider “mega lolz” — put it this way: the “B” in “B.D.F.” stands for “baby”, and the “D” and the “F” also stand for four-letter words… I wouldn’t play them in the car for my mother, but hey, they’re just songs sung by fictional aliens, get a sense of perspective!)

Of course, Dave Brockie dying means I’ll never be able to see him in concert as Oderus Urungus, but I’m too much of a wuss to go to concerts anyway (and being sprayed by the Biledriver, or worse, the Cuttlefish of Cthulhu, sounds like more of a spectator sport to me — blood is, ironically, the least disgusting fluid they dispense).  However, after I’ve bought their last few albums there’s still the prospect of tracking down their live albums and concert DVDs (such as You’re All Worthless and Weak)… and who knows, perhaps the band will find a replacement for Oderus, as they did for Flattus?  A band this awesome can’t be allowed to die, merely to mutate…

———

Oh, you want me to post an actual video?  You are never satisfied, are you?  All right, here’s one of my favourites — it’s from their early days, and features early versions of their costumes (and indeed, two different versions of Flattus Maximus!), as well as some characters who left later, Sexecutioner (the one who looks like an orc in bondage gear) and Slymenstra Hymen (the girl in a metal bikini).  This is a song Dave Brockie used to like on stage because it meant the show was over and he could finally rest, and it’s also a song my mother enjoys…

Not going out?

Just a quick one tonight: I didn’t go climbing after work, as it looked like “best mate” was going on Saturday, though he’s since called to say he may not be able to after all, due to getting weekend work (which he always needs to focus on as he gets paid more, and I’d be bored in London if he ever had to go back to Ireland!).  Thus I did some Wii Fit Plus-based cardio, and… well, I’m on to BioShock Infinite at the moment.  Don’t worry, I’ll study at the weekend, though really I just want to get Windows 7 out of the way, for better or for worse!

Yes, I need a girlfriend, what useful and sage advice you are dispensing… but I need to find someone with whom I have a real “spark”, rather than going on a date and then never seeing her again.  At least I’m talking again to two females in my past: the one who broke up with me because she thought I was too much like a teenager, who’s still fun to communicate with, and — amazingly — the Taiwanese girl who asked me out through a dating site, but who I seemed to put off me with post-date texting!  In both cases, ironically, it was seeing them post on Facebook that prompted me to communicate, so Mark Zuckerberg, thank you.  Now please stop spying on me…

And that’s all for tonight — but don’t worry, “cool things” post coming tomorrow; I’ll start it tonight and finish it off tomorrow night after personal torture.  And yay, then I’ll have posted every night during the working week!