Category Archives: Marking time

Mixed blessings

Last week was pivotal in my life, as two revelations that will potentially change my life forever have come through — but it remains to be seen whether good or bad will come from it…

Firstly, my pay at work has gone up just enough to set me over the monthly gross limit that means Student Loans will probably deny me the chance to defer my repayments for another year.  They may accept the Jan-Mar payslips I’ve already sent them (I only found out my April pay at the end of the month), but if not, I’ll have no alternative but to start paying pack my debts, after so very many years of interest.  If so, it means my pay rise will be more than wiped out!

However, a Lannister always pays his debts, and if I’m on a very high pay rate now, it’s surely about time I started, instead of lingering on lower pay packets like I’m somehow gaming the system and am smarter for getting away with it.  So, if necessary, I will indeed start paying it back — but for my sake, not for that of the debt holders, who are private businesses now, rather than the taxpayer.  I’ll feel better getting the debt off my shoulders once and for all, and since my pay will still increase over the years, it’ll get easier.

(Besides, I don’t want to get in trouble for what they may perceive as attempted fraud, and have to pay back all three loans in one go, or else end up in gaol!)

The other mixed blessing recently has been the inexorable time it’s taken Charing Cross hospital to arrange brain surgery for me — something that was supposed to be set up, with a two-month waiting period, back in February.  Indeed, it’s taken so long that I was encouraged to ask for a whole new referral to a different hospital!  While I continue to worry about my brain condition, and wish I could stop taking medication (which doesn’t always prevent me from getting bursts of “mind static” at odd times, though nowhere near as bad as in December 2016), the delay has given me the chance to keep on living, and relax back into my normal routine.  Hey, I even bought new things — a printer (much faster than the one I got in 2012), and a Freesat digibox that I can use to record things!

However, this mixed blessing has now been entirely reversed: on Friday I finally received a phone call from the team my mother and I have been chasing up for months, and it turns out my surgery has been arranged for mid-May, with a pre-op assessment at the start of the month.  Everyone tells me I’ll live through it fine, and that it’s better to get it over with sooner rather than later, but still, I feel a great deal of trepidation — it’s so sudden, and I worry that my life will be on hold for weeks afterwards, as I slowly recover my strength.  And that’s assuming there are no complications, and I don’t need any significant post-op treatment (like chaemotherapy)!

Still, getting it done soon will at least reduce the time before I can start climbing again (if all goes well), and perhaps more importantly, start donating blood again some day in the next decade.  I was called by the blood donor organisation last week, having not been for a while, and the bloke on the phone confirmed that, as I’d suspected, the anti-epilepsy medication I’m taking does indeed disqualify me — worse, for three years after I stop taking it!  So, if all goes well with the operation and I can stop popping pills, it’ll be mid-2021 when I can finally resume making deposits at the blood bank, and thus appease Dracula help people who need transfusions of my rare blood type.

And finally, while this is a serious and intense period of my life, it’s made me realise just how many people I’ve got who care about me (even “boss lady” is being comforting and patient), and want me to get through it alive and with all my faculties intact.  It’s also a mixed blessing, as it means a lot of people would be sad if I died on the operating table, but I have no intention of doing so — I want to come back from this stronger than ever… and I’ll gladly agree to start paying my student loans back if it helps my karma!

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Advancing at rest

To my shame, I haven’t read any actual printed books during my time off

I should have posted here over the past week, since I had plenty of spare time, but somehow it’s just so much effort to write something coherent in this blog nowadays… but it’s worth saying that I’ve at least had a nice ten-day rest from my busy and stressful job, and have improved to the point that I am eager to get back to work!

I was originally going to take the Thursday before Easter off, to let British Gas in (just for an annual checkup, nothing else had gone wrong!), but one of my housemates was in that day instead, so I worked right up to the day before Good Friday; it worked out fine, because I was better off having all of the week following Easter Sunday off instead — the Northern Line was all but closed over the Easter weekend, with further organised chaos planned for the Tuesday and Wednesday (and even that went wrong — I wouldn’t have been able to commute on Tuesday morning at all!), and I had to be in on Friday morning to let in someone from Thames Water to examine our pipes (another general checkup, no problems reported).

The bad news is that I’ve had no useful information from the NHS as yet — absolutely no indication of when my surgery will be taking place (the silver lining being that at least they hadn’t arranged one that I’d missed due to lack of communication, so I don’t owe any fines), and just the same ol’ popping pills to keep the static out of my brain — although I may still need to increase my daily dosage, as I still get dizzy spells now and then, albeit seldom as bad as before (though my mother’s looking into CBD oil).

The good news, however, is that, looking back over my diary from the mid-noughties, when I first came to London, I’ve come to realise I was a lot unhealthier back then than I am now — indeed, aside from an uncanny no-colds period in late 2004 to mid-2005, I seemed to be getting sick literally every other week, to say nothing of never getting enough sleep!  Perhaps whatever I have now has been growing in my grey matter since I first came to the Smoke: if this is the case, it’s taken a long time for my symptoms to become this bad, which is a good sign that it’s not a malignant tumour (and thus not cancerous), and that its removal will restore me to good health, once I recuperate from the surgery.

I will not be calling him “Capital P” again, at least not as long as he behaves himself!

There’s been other good and bad news concerning this household: although one of my housemates is moving out, the one who wants to take over her room (which is larger than his) is willing to find a replacement, as he wants to take her room and get a new housemate for his (small) room… and believe it or not, but the man he replaced — the one I’ve called “drummer-trucker” in this blog — is coming back to the Finchley area!  Don’t worry, he’s been restored to his cheerful, amiable old self, with no trace of the drunk, bullying jerk he was being before, especially in 2017.

(Perhaps leaving London for several months fixed his brain?  Do I need to do the same?)

And finally, our landlady might actually be about to do some repairs in our house, at long last: not just the the upstairs bathroom, but the big, gaping hole in the kitchen wall left by British Gas just before Christmas 2016, which oddly seemed to precipitate my (and “drummer-trucker’s” mental issues!  And, joy of joys, she’s willing to let me buy a new mattress for this room, to replace the two thin, uncomfortable mattresses I’ve had to use since moving in here, six years ago (and they weren’t only two years old in February 2012, so I’d say they’re well past the widely-held eight-year usage limit, possibly by a decade or two).

Don’t worry, I’ll try to write more frequently in this blog over the coming weeks: not just the posts I’ve planned regarding “cool things” (like Game of Thrones, and a band I got back into recently), but also, hopefully, good news concerning my health.  Perhaps someone in the NHS will finally be able to arrange my surgery, so I can endure that and get my head together (even if it means having to recuperate in dull old Worthing), and perhaps CBD oil will work better than levetiracetam in terms of repressing my mild epileptic dizzy spells, though I’ll need to check with my neurologist first.

For now, I need to get a good night’s sleep so I’m fully rested and ready to return to work tomorrow morning, and as enthusiastic as ever when it comes to fixing people’s computers!

Evenings off

Let down your hairs, forget all your cares
Kick off your shoes, here is the news
Take off your shirt, here is the dirt
Take off your pants, thanks!
—Opening theme to Lee & Herring’s This Morning With Richard Not Judy

This is not me playing Nidhogg against my mother

You might be surprised to learn that I’m not all that fussed about having to stop climbing, at least for the time being, as it means an extra evening at home each week — and thus the chance to do whatever I want, instead of feeling obliged to get out there and mingle.

Yes, apart from yoga on Mondays (which has replaced salsa, due to being a lot more calming) and personal training on Fridays, and very occasionally going with Shy London to help the homeless, I’m not doing much in the evenings: almost every day I find myself coming straight home from work, making my own dinner, and relaxing as much as I can — maybe playing video games (like the Evil Within series), or listening to newly-acquired music CDs (including Gorillaz, as depicted above), or looking up old and new music videos on YouTube (including Gorillaz, as, er…).

I’ve also been rewatching the works of Lee & Herring (Fist of Fun and TMWRNJ, hence the opening quote), and now I’ve finally begun season 7 of Game of Thrones (which will hopefully lead to a “cool things” blog post here).  However, despite having more evenings to myself and more free time generally, I still don’t binge-watch, instead enjoying an individual episode over dinner (or lunch at the weekend), savouring the experience and making it last as long as possible (much as I did with classic Doctor Who in 2011-2015, and then with the 21st-century series afterwards).

The explanation for my new introvercy is simple: I socialise a great deal at work, and so feel better keeping myself to myself when I get home.  Speaking to people at work takes a lot out of me (the stress, and head vibration, may be part of the cause of my dizzy spells), and public transport is an ordeal at the best of times, so it’s good to get some peace and quiet, and the chance to recover.  The same goes for the weekends (aside from last weekend, when senpai took me to work to help with a major task), with me barely even going to the shops, and this will also apply to the Easter break coming up (partly due to the Northern Line being effectively closed throughout) — I intend to do as little as possible, and chill out.

(Having to be in for British Gas to come and give us our annual checkup also means I get the day off before Good Friday — “boss lady” is good to me, at least for now!)

Don’t worry, I’ll still go see my folks this weekend (the once chance I’ve had in ages) — after all, who else will set the clocks forward in the spring?  Seriously, though, I’ll need them to take care of me after my surgery for a few weeks (if I ever get informed of the date), and I’m grateful that I have them — and that my mother’s pledged to get us a new dog, which my grandmother has finally approved.  I’ll certainly need a sweet little friend to help me recover… assuming I don’t have a major personality change as a result of brain surgery, and lose interest in dogs!

I have a feeling that once I’ve recovered from surgery (assuming there are no complications, including personality changes), I’ll finally be over the biggest hurdle of my life, and things will change for the better.  However, what if I really do lose the ability to rant about subjects that make me angry, like the Conservatives appearing to hold the disabled in contempt, the closeness of WW3 thanks to Trump, or people calling the monster “Frankenstein”?  I’m no less obsessive than I was in 2014, and perhaps even more so; but if this thing in my head is causing it through cerebral pressure, will removing it make me a lazy git who doesn’t do his job properly, feels unenthusiastic about anything, and just lets things slide?

My mother (no offence, Mumsy!) thinks I am indeed obsessive, her evidence being that I’m reading the works of Stephen King in chronological order — but that’s not the result of some nameless compulsion, it’s because I’ve read bits and pieces of his work before, and want to experience all his stories from the beginning, in more or less the order he wrote, so I can see how his “Kingiverse” evolves (especially the “Dark Tower” series).  I did similar with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels in 2011-2014 as well: I’d read many of them, but mostly not in order, and it was good to go through them again and fill in the gaps — especially since the first time I read The Fifth Elephant, I had no idea who the Night Watch were, and had to read an earlier novel (and then an even earlier one) to get their backstory!

The fact is, I like to experience epics from beginning to end (or at least in the order of production, like with the Star Wars films) — that’s not OCD, it’s the same as wanting to read an individual book from the first chapter instead of peeking at the ending (and spoiling the surprise, which is a cardinal sin).  It’s also a way of establishing a mindset: I didn’t enjoy Babylon 5 until I watched the original pilot movie, whereupon it made sense and I was able to get into it — whereas one time I saw the end of an old Doctor Who story on UK Gold, and found it cheap and tacky, despite having greatly enjoyed watching the exact same story (The Hand of Fear, if you must know) from the beginning some years before!

(I should add, I intend to rewatch 24 from beginning to end during my convalescence — though that’s partly because I’ll have a lot of free time… so much that I’ll probably binge-watch it!)

Well, enough digression — the important point I’m trying to convey is, I’m cutting down on socialising these days, but I’m not lonely or regretful, and I’m enjoying my solo activities (ooh, Matron!).  I know I called the recent Christmas holidays “hibernation”, but this part of my life might be that instead, with the surgery and convalescence that lie ahead being my metaphorical emergence from a chrysalis that I’m now forming around myself, after which I’ll be back to cheerfully meeting new people, and hopefully the love of my life.

Of course, it won’t happen unless I chase up the NHS and get them to tell me my appointment date — it’s a sad irony that I’ve had better luck getting British Gas to come and fix our hot water (yet again!), even though they still can’t consistently tell our address apart from that of a flat up the street — but I’m in no hurry, as my medication’s keeping my dizziness under control, at least for now… I’m not exactly obsessive when it comes to arranging to go under the knife!

Out of hibernation

I wish I could say I’d had a nice Christmas getaway, but sadly this year wasn’t as nice as last year, or the year before, or 2012 or 2013, though at least better than 2014 and 2011 — and despite the terrible journey down to Worthing to stay with my folks, which normally earns me a good stay…

Oh yes, I have to go into detail every time Southern (named and shamed) jerks me around!  At least they didn’t cancel my train outright before I even got on (as happened in 2012 and 2015), and at least their network wasn’t completely suspended (like in 2013); it  looked like I was going to have a nice, quiet, untroubled journey (like in 2014 and 2016, and possibly 2011).  But no, at the exact time I left home to make my way to Victoria, there was a problem on the Brighton line that meant the train I ultimately caught, despite leaving on time, became more and more delayed as we approached the south coast, to the point that it got stuck behind a stopping service — which makes it ironic that my train later announced it wasn’t going to stop at my station!

Normally I get off at Goring-by-Sea (because I’m a boring guy, see?) to visit my folks in Ferring, and I’d called home to let my mother know I was getting close; however, she forgot her mobile when she set off on foot to meet me, so I couldn’t call her to say I would be getting off at Durrington-on-Sea instead.  My grandmother, learning this from me over the landline, went to the station on foot to fetch her; realising this (from unanswered calls), I felt I had to run from Durrington to Goring in the hope of catching them.  No sign of them at Goring, and I worried I’d have to go searching after I dropped my stuff off at home… but fortunately, I caught up with them just as all three of us got back to Ferring!

After that ordeal, I was dishevelled, knackered, and coming down from a panicked adrenaline rush — which is probably why I spent this Christmas visit to my family home doing as little as possible, and suffering from more minor “brain fuzz” issues.  It didn’t help that some nights I couldn’t sleep (not unlike when I was in Michigan during the summer, though presumably not due to jet lag), and drinking caffeine in the mornings and alcohol in the evenings probably didn’t help — but I had no real exercise (not even Wii Fit Plus), so that’s not been the root cause of my dizziness.

I always feel bad when I don’t do the things I planned during my Christmas getaways: I barely watched any films (despite bringing them on a USB hard drive), hardly played any games against my mother (despite setting up Wii Sports Resort), and did no real practice on the guitar (despite lugging that thing all the way home).  It even took me until the weekend after Christmas to listen to the CDs I’d been bought (yes, the new Eminem and Gwar albums, well guessed), rather than me putting them in the machine right away on Christmas Day — and despite receiving Japanese presents, I did no Japanese translation…

Fortunately, I was able to install my old computer components in the PC casing I have down there, so I can play advanced games while visiting my folks (instead of old stuff), and I was able to put together a crystal puzzle (which became an ornament for my grandmother, and thus was effectively a present for both of us!).  Moreover, by taking things easy and not worrying too much, it seems (according to Fitbit) that my resting heart rate went down considerably, in comparison to how it usually stands here in London, when I have to get up for work at 7am even if I’ve had a restless night.  It also helped that my wonderful mother and grandmother prepared my meals for me, so I didn’t have to fuss about food preparation.

(Phew, that’s reassured the old crones I’m on their side… wait, did I type that or think it?)

Nonetheless, my life felt like it was “on hold” while I was staying in Worthing, and thus it felt good to come back to London today.  Okay, so I’m back at work tomorrow (albeit without “boss lady” for the first day), twice this week I’ve got to visit a hospital in Paddington to get checked over (just in case it’s something more sinister than stress or neck strain causing my dizzy spells), and it’ll be a couple of weeks before my personal trainer is back in town — but never fear, I still intend to make the most of my life in London, as a new year begins.

For example: another level of guitar classes begins next week (in an easier location than Walthamstow), which I might even be able to do on the same day as salsa; and this Friday, which I have off work, I might just be able to go climbing with “best mate” for the first time in months…

Congratulations: you are more alive than ever

“Hello Dave-ros; I want to play a game…”

Yesterday (the 12th) was the sixth anniversary (though Monday would be more precise in terms of weekday) of that day in 2011 when I felt so depressed, I actually planned to end it all on my 35th birthday, 300-odd days in the future, if I couldn’t turn my life around.  All these years later, suicide is something I’m no longer willing to contemplate (terminal illnesses aside) — and all I had to do was change just about everything in my life!

It’s worth considering just what the prospect was back in 2011 of me actually taking my own life… I’d say no chance whatsoever — if anything, that melodramatic outburst (which I concealed from everyone at the time) was necessary, and dare I say it, cathartic?  If I hadn’t gotten it out of my system, I might have been too satisfied with keeping my life just as it was (albeit in a different house, or possibly even back with my folks in Worthing) — but threating myself cajoled me into action.

How is my life in 2017 better than my life in 2011?  Let me count the ways:

(It’s been a while since I did this… hasn’t it?)

  1. I now live a long way from Caledonian Road, in a relatively peaceful area on a reliable Tube line, and while this isn’t exactly the best house in the world, at least I’ve got housemates I get on with (well, since July this year), a heating system that works properly (well, since last month), and a landlord that actually cares about our problems (well, compared to the last two) — and being in Finchley Central, I can get a seat on the Northern Line when I commute.  Speaking of which…
  2. I’ve finally got a job I actually enjoy, using my brain and IT skills to help people — professionals, not members of the public — with the computer side of their jobs, instead of tapping away at data entry all day.  Not only am I the only IT Helpdesk employee in the world who’s happy to be doing his job, I get a lovely pay rate as well — the UK average!
  3. I’m physically healthier than I was even in my twenties, thanks to taking up climbing, seeing a personal trainer, eating better diet (well, slightly more vegetables), and generally feeling less stressed (aside from the occasional dizzy spells that I’m getting the NHS to look at in January), perhaps due to escaping the annoying woman.  I’m even getting more sleep these days!
  4. I socialise a lot more — instead of just Japanese classes once a week (which had stopped by late 2011 anyway), and sitting at home by myself every other night, I go to Meetup events, meet people climbing, and act as the “face” of my IT team at work — if anything, I need to slow down and stay in more often, much as I did in 2013.  However, I’ve more chance of finding someone special — and on that topic…
  5. After going on more dates in the past few years than I’d gone on in the entire rest of my life, I might finally have a couple of potential girlfriends — don’t worry, I’ll be loyal to one woman (at a time), but considering how my love life in the first 11 years of the 21st century was a whole lotta nuthin’, I’ve definitely made progress here, and no longer feel so pessimistic that I wish I could just give up on ever finding love.
  6. Although I still enjoy a lot of “childish things”, I’m taking more responsibility for my life, collecting my household’s bills on my housemates’ behalf, behaving myself in my job and getting things done (allegedly more than at least one of my teammates), taking care of my health (as per no.3 above), and even buying expensive presents for my folks, to thank them for all the years they’ve taken care of me!

This blog entry was inspired by one of the “possibilities” in no.5 above: when I told her I’m not religious (she’s a lapsed Catholic), she asked me, outright, why I hadn’t killed myself.  She knew nothing of my former depression, and was genuinely intrigued (though she phrased it awkwardly, perhaps due to her Polish cultural heritage?); I told her that I’ve got too much good stuff in my life for me to even consider stopping living.  She seems to have accepted this, and so should you — I’m not checking out any time soon!

On that basis, why am I still posting in this blog?  If I’m over depression, and I’ve sorted my life out, what more do I have to say here?  Well, how about the fact that I still seem to have anxiety, which might even be the source of the weird “brain fuzz” dizzy spells I’ve been getting — like a burst pipe spraying into an unrelated room, instead of piping its contents to the correct destination — and this could be partly because I have a good life now, and worry about losing it all and reverting to how things were in the bad old days.  Going back into the dark after having seen the light is worse than never having left the dark, after all.

And yes, I fully intend to soapbox about the despicable behaviour of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic… stay tuned!

Winter welcome?

As long as no White Walkers turn up…

Until yesterday, I was — for very weird reasons — looking forward to winter, and the temperature going down.  Obviously January and February are always uncomfortably cold, but I recall last year’s November and December being refreshingly mild (especially compared to 2014), and I’ll be glad, for once, to see the end of hot weather.

No, I’m not an imposter, I’m still your friendly neighbourhood Dave-ros — it’s just that, for one thing, I’ve been finding it harder to sleep in hot weather, waking up itchy (apparently due to overheating) and unable to get back to sleep for ages.  Since it began cooling, however, I’ve been a lot more able to sleep, with only adrenaline waking me up during the night (after a few hours), and seldom keeping me awake.

For another thing, my new supercomputer.  Yes, that sentence didn’t need a verb — it’s going great (aside from having to re-register Windows 7 by phone, as it wasn’t working online!), and I have a good feeling it’ll pump a nice amount of heat into my room when I play intense 3D games (even if my new casing isn’t big and black like my previous ones, which my mother mistook for space heaters!).

Finally — and most spuriously — cooler weather means I can wear my new coat to and from work without sweating like a porcine mammal (especially on the crowded Underground), and this in turn means I can keep my phone in my hip pocket instead of my backpack, and thus look at it easily to see the title and artist of the track I’m listening to — necessary with unfamiliar songs, which often come up as I keep finding CDs in charity shops of bands I either want to hear more of (Jamiroquai, R.E.M.) or try getting into (Franz Ferdinand, Travis).

On the other hand, the meetup event I attended last night makes me worry about winter for the sake of others: I joined Shy London for their monthly linkup with Pavement People, who walk the streets of London looking for homeless people, in order to (a) offer simple supplies like food and toiletries, and (b) listen to their stories.  We avoided anyone who seemed to be high (or was asking for money instead of food, since they’re more likely to be on drugs), but anyone we met who was sane, we made a point of treating like human beings instead of street furniture, talking instead of ignoring.

I’m glad I took part (at least partially because I vowed I would back in June, if my mother found my dropped USB thumbdrive on the train platform), but it’s reminded me of how precarious our situation is on a daily basis — how everyone below the millionnaire class is, as they say, one paycheque away from poverty, and that you can end up homeless no matter how careful and honest you are.  I’m lucky that — for now at least — I can return to Worthing to live with my folks if London goes wrong for me, but what if they lose their home, through no fault of their own?

It wouldn’t be quite so bad if this country had a hotter climate, but it feels like we’re overdue for a genuinely cold winter (it’s been a long time since I last saw snow), and if that came to pass, those unlucky enough to have no place to stay would find it almost impossible to survive — and the way things are now, the only way to secure a hostel place in some areas (especially Westminster) is to have been there for three months or similar, without moving (even though those out-of-work are nagged to go search for jobs around the country)!  And the NHS also appears to be unable to treat people of “no fixed abode”.

It feels like our government du jour would welcome a nice cold winter, as a way to mitigate the increasing homeless problem without having to shake the magic money tree, or — heaven forfend — change policies to stop penalising people severely for honest mistakes (like missing a single Job Centre appointment, or even  clicking the wrong tickbox in an online form when applying for dental treatment).  It’s almost as though they want to be able to punish ordinary people at any time…

Sorry, I know, no sense going into an angry rant on this occasion (I’ll soapbox about that subject another time) — the important thing is that I got involved and met real people less fortunate than me, the sort of people who aren’t worried about trivial things like computers and gadgets, and while I can’t resolve all their problems (any more than I could for people closer to me), at least I can help them a little, keep them going longer — and look them in the eye.

It’s certainly better than simply claiming that the best way I can help the homeless is to not increase their number by one…

Out with the old…

I know Shady’s in his forties now, but I’m nowhere near as mature as him, am I?

It’s my birthday today, but never mind the number… let’s just say 30 and be done with it, what with my actual 30th in 2007 being a very unhappy day, and occurring during one of the ten years I wasn’t really “living” as such (2000-3 hibernating in Worthing with my folks, between my undergrad and postgrad days, and 2005-11 for reasons I won’t go into here — maybe another night?).

No, the main thrust of my blog tonight is that, around the time of my birthday this year, I’ve been making plans to get rid of some old stuff, and replacing it with new stuff — in many cases with the assistance of people in my life.  However, unlike Eminem in 2002, I’m cleanin’ out my closet without insulting my mother, since she’s a large part of the reason I made it this far in my life!

And my mother and grandmother helped me this weekend: finally I’m rid of the coat I got in 2014, just at the start of my decline into serious anxiety.  I know objects supposedly don’t exude positive or negative karma, but still, the left zip pocket broke earlier this year, and the new one’s not only got red lining inside (red being “my colour” at the moment), but a spider motif!

(No, nothing to do with Spider-Man — I’m not quite that geeky when it comes to my day-to-day clothes!)

I also have a new pair of boots bought for me by my folks, to replace the pair I was given by my “second family” in Michigan many years ago, but which I haven’t used since early 2014, due to them being caked in mud while I was watching my mother take part in a mud-run challenge.  It’s a pity, but I feel no real attachment to them any more — and being American boots, somehow I wonder if they were as leather-free as claimed?  The new ones certainly are, judging from the symbols, and I have a feeling I’ll be needing them now that winter is coming… I just have to hope the three-year cycle doesn’t happen again, and that this winter is better for me than those in 2014 and 2011 — which as you know (in the former case because I was writing this then, and the latter case because I keep going on about it) were depressing times of my life.

Speaking of 2011, the most important changes concern my computer — the PC of Theseus is undergoing further replacement, and soon, aside from the Windows 7 installation itself (but not the physical drvie it’s on), nothing will be left of that year.  My “boss-lady” has very kindly (and surprisingly, in light of what happened before) bought me a new sixth-generation i7 processor, in lieu of buying me a laptop so I could work from home.  I was already planning to get one, but she’s saved me quite a bit of money on this operation!  I’ve bought a new motherboard to plug it into, along with DDR4 memory (since I can’t reuse my own DDR3 in it), and a cooling fan for the processor (since one didn’t come with the processor itself, oddly).

I also bought a new computer casing a couple of weekends ago — smaller, sleeker and whiter than the yuge black Cooler Master casing I got in 2011, which fortunately I was able to give to charity (rather than needing someone to drive me to the dump).  Installing my old setup in the new box has paved the way for the new setup: all I have to do is put the new components on the new motherboard, swap that out wholesale with the old motherboard, and plug everything back in!  Positioning the drives (including the Win7 SSD) and running cables through the casing was the hard part, so this bit will be, relatively speaking, nice and easy…

(Says Dave-ros, hoping he’s not jinxing it by being over-confident!)

Once that’s done, I can take my old third-generation i7 (snugly in its motherboard, but with memory and fan removed for the journey) down to Worthing, to replace the creaking old Core 2 Quad (with DDR2 memory) system I have in the Frankencomputer.  I originally bought that ten years ago for use here in London, only upgrading from it in 2011 — which brings us around to that year again!

Since I got rid of the big casing I brought down from London in 2011 (the one with the big green “not handles” on the front), and put the components into a smaller white casing that my mother had originally planned to have me build her new PC in at Christmas, the Frankencomputer is also becoming a PC of Theseus, though still with plenty of “original” components left in it (since it’s not something I worry too much about upgrading, due to only using it when I visit my folks in Worthing).  I know I set it up with Win7 in 2014, but since I upgraded that to Win10 last year, perhaps I’ve driven the 2014 out of it too?

Okay, I know that’s not an acoustic guitar, but I’m workin’ on it!

And finally, there’s the guitar I bought cheaply in 2014… no, don’t worry, I’m not getting rid of it along with other stuff from that year!  Quite the opposite — I’ve started taking guitar classes, coincidentally starting on my birthday today.  One thing I’ve learned repeatedly in life (Japanese, computing etc.) is that I learn a lot better from actual people, with structured classes, than I do trying to study off my own back whenever I can be bothered.  It happened to be a one-to-one session in this first wek, as the other guy who signed up through Meetup.com was off sick!

My teacher’s certainly helped me with holding a guitar properly, and he was impressed that I already knew the basic D-A-E chords thanks to my previous studies, not unlike my personal trainer in 2013 and my Japanese teacher in 2008!  Unfortunately, five years of climbing (which he said many of his other students are also into) still haven’t left the fingertips of my left hand sufficiently calloused to endure the pain of holding down the strings, so good job the class was only an hour long.  And good job he has spare guitars, so I don’t have to lug mine all the way to the end of the Victoria Line!

However, maybe now in 2017, with this guy’s help, I can achieve what I failed to do three years ago: learn to play my guitar skilfully, and one day rock out with the Antarctic rock gods themselves, Gwar…

(What, did you think I’d grown up and given away all my old Scumdog merchandise?  I’m not a boring old fuddy-duddy yet, and hopefully never will be, you… bohab!)