Nothing to do with Brexit or the lack thereof tonight, though I’m sure one thing that can bring Remainers and Leavers together is universal loathing of our Conservative government, which will give us neither a second referendum as demanded by millions of marchers, nor a no-deal departure from the EU on the scheduled day, but just keep voting on the same deal, unchanging, over and over again… oh, sorry!
(And yes, I fear that no-deal would lead to us metaphorically fellating Trump’s America anyway, which would be unmitigated, especially in affordable medication terms!)
No, I’m instead going to focus on entirely personal matters, this being my blog about recovering from depression and anxiety (the brain tumour completing the trifecta, of course). Although recently I blogged about items I’ve long owned and used pretty much every day, it’s worth noting that I’ve also stopped using a number of things over the past couple of weeks, recognising when something’s no longer of use to me, and in need of replacement or outright abandonment.
Not just clothes, which wear out, or cookware, which… er… wears out — no, sometimes I got hold of things which sucked. Take, for example, the keyboard and mouse I bought year — yes, time for naming and shaming: Corsair, where although they worked well at first, my computer kept losing one or the other — the mouse sometimes at startup, and the keyboard almost every time I locked Windows. Yes, I could still type and mouse around, but the system tray-based program, iCUE, stopped controlling the keyboard’s lighting system, returning it to the default flowing rainbow pattern, and unplugging/replugging, even while holding down certain key combinations, didn’t work every time.
This went on for months, despite numerous patches, and so eventually I gave up and started looking for a new manufacturer — but every PC World I went into seemed to have only affordable gamer keyboards with loud, clackety keys… or worse, media control buttons that are just the F-keys combined with Fn (or equivalent), rather than separate ones sitting at the top of the keyboard, with a volume dial or roller!
Hmm, this sounds rather petty, doesn’t it — hardly as bad as having a dead-end job with a lousy salary and the prospect of homelessness (or worse, having to move back to Worthing), but I’m grateful to $DEITY (or possibly ka) that I’m earning well enough to do such a thing; suffice to say, between this and other purchases I’ll go into below, March has been an expensive month, because I’ve given in and bought a better keyboard and mouse (which actually store their lighting settings internally, the iCUE counterpart only being needed to set them up initially), and all is good now.
(Don’t worry, the Corsair equipment hasn’t gone to waste — it’s now down in Worthing, working rather more consistently with the Frankencomputer, which also has my previous motherboard and processor! And all other mice and keyboards work, and can go to charity…)
Okay, here’s something rather more serious: Fitbit. Yes, that sentence clause doesn’t require a verb, does it? I’ve been using one or another wrist-mounted step-counter and pulse “monitor” since the start of 2016, and for all I know, having its Bluetooth signals so close to me virtually 24/7 could have contributed to my cerebral catastrophe (though I think my periods of horror in 2011-2 and 2014-5 are more likely to have encouraged the “space invader”).
That’s not the worst part: aside from charing up regularly and replacing the strap several times, the thing has angered me even more than the Corsair equipment: my pulse rate all too frequently showing up as “- -” (and quoting Groucho Marx’s “either this man is dead or my watch has stopped” got real old real fast), leading to me hitting the thing in frustration; the unequivocal evidence of my broken sleep patterns last summer as I recovered from surgery, which only depressed me even further; and recently, as a final touch, my obsession with getting 250 steps per hour, 8am-6pm (except at the weekend, me not being quite that obsessive), which was broken last Tuesday when I had to sit through a longer-than-usual staff briefing at work, simply because I was making sure the Skype equipment was running properly (it was).
I’ve thus, with my mother’s permission, finally taken the damn thing off, and although I haven’t smashed it to pieces with a hammer (which would be ill-advised on my carpet), or deleted my account, I wonder if I’ll ever go back to wearing it (or a less-battered replacement) ever again. Don’t worry, though: I’m still recording my weight every night in Wii Fit Plus, and I’ve got a different wrist-mounted device to wear instead: the movement-powered watch I got 19 years and a week ago, which had run out of power due to me not wearing it for the past three years, but which still works fine, and with which I may one day be buried!
Events this weekend led to two more replacements, but amazingly, one desire to stay. For Mothering Sunday, which I spent with my folks, I bought my mother a new PC monitor to replace the small one she’s had for almost exactly 11 years (and my old one, which I brought down to Worthing but which was too big for her to look at… ooh, Matron!), and she’s happy with the result — in size terms, it’s juuust right. Worth noting that she herself also did away with the computer desk she’s had since, probably, Christmas 2003!
Secondly, at the same place I bought a replacement alarm clock radio for myself, to replace the one I got in a sale back in 2017, which can’t keep the time properly (it updated to account for British Summer Time, but never gets the seconds right, thus turning on before or after the “pips” on Radio 2 at 7am). This in turn replaced the older alarm clock radio I brought from home back in November 2013 (with a built-in CD player, upon which I listened to MMLP2 the first time), but I only replaced that because the buttons weren’t working properly: I liked it a lot more than the DAB one my folks got me for Christmas in 2007, but which made a thud noise at 1am every night as it checked the time, but still somehow missed the correct night for the clocks to go back or forward.
(The new radio is DAB, so maybe I can find the radio station upon which Chris Evans is now doing the breakfast show, and break away from Zoe Ball? Damn, I miss him… well, slightly, considering how tired I am in the mornings, and not as much as when he hosted The Big Breakfast in 1992-4!)
Thirdly, this weekend “best mate” let me know that a letter had come from our energy company, E.on, in my name — thus showing they’ve finally transferred our household’s account from our late (RIP 2013) landlord’s name, in which it had apparently been since he and his wife (our current landlady) bought the property in 2010. To demonstrate why I’ve named and shamed them, this required me to make TWO phone calls to them in February (during working hours, thus getting me told off mildly by “boss lady”), both giving me different information (and repeatedly asking if I’m the new property owner, no matter how many times I said I’m a tenant).
I did this because when “best mate” took over paying our bills last summer (while I was convalescing in Worthing), instead of simply doing a one-off payment online (effectively on our late landlord’s behalf), like I did each quarter, he accidentally set up a full online account (in our late landlord’s name), and under their system, this defaults to “no paper bills” — hence we weren’t getting our quarterly bills in the post, and were only receiving late reminders, threatening us with fines! This was clarified only when he made a rare check of the seldom-used e-mail account whose address he gave to the company on that occasion (don’t worry, he apologised for his mistake).
Although one of the phone jockeys last month said they’d make “my” account apply from this month, the other one actually backdated “my” account to start in February 2012, when I first moved here (even though I’ve only been the one directing our collective housemate money to their online payment system since “drummer-trucker” moved out in mid-2017) — but something wonderful may have happened: I don’t want to jinx it, but “best mate” called them to confirm, and for some inexplicable reason, it seems we’re now over £2,000 in credit! If all goes well (i.e. they haven’t made a mistake, or they have in our favour and they won’t realise it later), we won’t have to pay an energy bill again for a year or two… and on that basis, and that basis alone, I won’t be breaking away and transferring our account to a different energy company, despite my folks recommending it because they’d had their own bad dealings with this shower.
One final thing to note is that not one, but two housemates are about to break away from our household (and so won’t benefit from reduced energy bills); one is the current female occupant of the large back upstairs room, the fifth person to live there in my time (the original being our household “leaderene”, and the bill organiser in those days), and the fourth being someone who was there for two months last summer (mostly while I was convalescing in Worthing). It’s up to her to find a (hopefully female) replacement, and with luck, our landlady won’t object and make us all move out (or increase our rent to the level she claims is common around here).
The other is the bloke who moved in to replace “drummer-trucker” in 2017, and who was moved out of the tiny box room and into the full-sized downstairs lounge (which increased his rent), but it’s been arranged by “best mate” for one of his friends to move in there when the bloke moves out. In the meantime, “new guy” will be staying with us in the aforementioned box room (despite it being legally too small for our landlady to have a sixth housemate living there as she’d planned), and his possessions are in the house already.
Perhaps he’s going through what I went through when I broke away from Caledonian Road in 2012, and moved here, my stuff in the lounge for a week while I couch-surfed…?
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P.S. I’ve also been taking a break from the dating scene (I won’t name-and-shame my dating app as it’s worked fine), partly because I’ve been almost constantly suffering from colds since Christmas Eve, and partly because I feel a certain hope regarding “Polish female best friend”, who’s been on a break from Britain, but will be back here before Brexit!