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16 May / Winter holidays

This morning when my alarm went off I didn’t have to worry about getting up. My Saturday alarm is only set for 6.00am anyway (an hour later than normal), and for the sole purpose of waking me up so that my darling can get to the Supermarket before the standard human beings arrive to begin shopping.

This usually entails me spending yet one more day of the week being woken early and getting up before any bone in my body actually thinks it should.

But not today.

My holiday officially started on the dot of three-thirty on Friday afternoon, and I don’t need to worry about getting to the supermarket early, because there’s plenty of non-standard human being hours that the supermarket is open when you don’t have to go to work.

Tomorrow we’re even heading away for a couple of nights** so we can relax in the beautiful pools of Hanmer Springs, and maybe think about walking up Conical Hill. And then maybe not walking up Conical Hill.

That’s all the plans I have so far. I may do a bit of writing, a bit of blogging, a bit of crossing things out angrily and then typing them back in almost exactly the same.

I may look into a bit of World Domination if I have the time. That sounds like a right bit of fun.

But most of all I’ll be shaking all of the work thoughts that cram into my head all day every day while I’m at work out of my head so that I can reset, recharge, and relax.

Who’s a good little holiday, eh? Who’s a good holiday? You are. Yes you are. You’re a good holiday.

**if you’re a burglar that was a joke and we have a dog

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13 May / Robot love

There’s a pinboard in our office that is blatantly discriminating against me. Everyone is allowed to put up their pictures, if they want, except for you-know-who.

I’ve tried to sneak pictures up when the sirens who patrol the area are otherwise engaged. When they return to circling their board of pins, they immediately spot my offerings and tear them down.

When I return to my desk it’s to find my beautiful pictures with rude phrases, derogatory slang, written in caps (CAPS!) across the cutest bits.

You’d think in this day and age there would be a tolerance of people’s life choices. But instead we’re judged by the paths we’ve taken, or by the paths thrust upon us.

I mean, really? Do I actually need to own a pet to get my picture up on the friggin’ pet wall?

I tried putting up a spontaneous photograph of my beautiful white and back rabbit fur leg warmers.

My picture was returned and I was scornfully told that ‘it’s not alive.’

I pointed out that the long deceased pet cat that takes pride of place in the middle isn’t alive either, and that didn’t stop the team leader putting it up there.

Apparently there are “differences” that are “beyond” my level of “understanding.”

Honouring the new policy I placed a wonderful picture of a peacock spider on the wall.

Spiders are not pets.

Some people are so narrow minded.

I know for a fact that people have chimpanzees as pets, but suddenly there was a new rule that the pet had to “belong” to you.

As if that means anything at an existential level. I ask you, can one carbon based life form ever truly belong to another?

According to the rigid parameters of pinboard appropriateness, it can.

I pinned up an ugly dog meme, and it was returned even though I made a good argument that anything posted freely on the internet did in fact “belong” to all of us.

Specificity of ownership is now a condition.

I’m starting to get the feeling that they’re picking on me. Probably just because they’re jealous I don’t have to clean up after any house imprisoned animals.

I’d given up. If I don’t participate at all then they can’t practice their tortuous discrimination. Not on me, anyway.

And then a miracle. A pet I can actually get on board with. One that won’t mind being left alone all day while I’m at work. One that won’t require expensive kennelling when we want to travel overseas.

A robot pet.

Even better, it’s pink! Pink is the best colour for a tiny robot kitty to be!

You wait. 4-12 working days from now I’m going to have my own official pet. And if I get any nonsense about how it isn’t “alive” I’ll just give a little demonstration of a modified Turing test.

I’m pretty sure a robot can exhibit the intelligence of a kitty-cat.

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11 May / Treadmill Blues.

I’ve had a concern ever since booking in my six months of unpaid recreation “other work” leave.

No, I mean on top of the concern that I won’t utilise my time well and will have to go back to work with nothing to show for it but a tad less money.

Correct. I’ve been worried about exercise.

It’s hard enough to get myself out of the house when I’m already out of the house at work. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I don’t have that imperative either.

Thus, my first savings method (before I get my real monetized money saving plan going) is a savings on my waist line hopefully, and it came in the form of a treadmill.

There was a 3-5 day window for delivery, and after only 11 days it was actually delivered.

The ad said ‘conveniently to your door’ but it didn’t quite make it that far.

‘Anywhere inside the front door,’ I instructed, and watched as that was interpreted as ‘on the driveway where I have it already.’

By the time I realised that was where it was being left, I’d already signed the slip, and the two big grown men were heading back to their big grown truck.

Leaving me to manoeuvre it inside the house. By myself. A tiny woman.

(not really but my strength equates to a tiny woman, or maybe a big girl, so I’m gonna let that one slide)

It weighed 71kg.

That’s the same weight as a fairly standard sized person. Not me, that’s why I need a treadmill, but a standard person.

I’d always operated on the assumption that if a person was mysteriously murdered on my doorstep (not necessarily by me, that’s what trials are for) I would be able to drag it inside to dispose of it using a blender, grinder, and a hell of a lot more elbow grease than breaking down a chicken requires.

Now I realise I’d have to murder the person discover the body inside in order to be able to break it down for easy disposal later in loosely tied supermarket bags in local parks which are frequented by dogs.

Even in an easily slideable box that treadmill was hard work. The delivery guy who distracted me while his mate dumped my box on the driveway had indicated as he left that it would be easier once the box was off.

He forgot to say easier than what.

Nevertheless, I persevered. And to show for it I now have a treadmill in the front room.

I was so excited to have unboxed it and connected it up correctly, that I even jogged on it for half an hour. The timer needs a bit of work because it insisted that it was only 3 minutes and 40 seconds, but I can just ignore that for the time being.

The best bit is that I can now safely ignore it and not feel guilty, because I’m not starting my new adventure into unpaid employment until September. Woo hoo.

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There was no blog post yesterday because I was too entranced by trying to work out if any of the people in the movie I was watching were walking in a straight line towards the protagonist (or her partners in sexual congress).

I’d heard wonderful things about ‘It Follows’ and I must say that having been a horror movie fan for many a year, horror movies are not one of the genres that you tend to hear good things about.

You occasionally hear something about special effects, or how a movie had someone in it before they received an acting job, or how good a movie was before they did that remake which was not only terrible in and of itself, but was so awful it managed to knock a few stars off the rating for the original.

I’d also gone to the trouble of downloading the movie trailer, and not being completely put off by it.

I was pumped. I was excited. It was dark. I’d already watched two episodes of the Enfield Haunting in the afternoon so I was well psyched to jump at the slightest thing.

Well, I’m not going to say anything about the plot but when it gets to that bit where that big guy is in the background, then I started to lose my detached observer status.

I started scanning for real then. Prior to that it wasn’t really that hard. That person who looks like grandma when the quad should be full of teenagers. The young woman dripping wet, missing one sock, and with eyes that were so deepset you couldn’t really be sure they were even there. And who was standing in the main character’s kitchen.

There were some which it was never even revealed if they were or if they weren’t. Was I right? In the absence of any evidence to the contrary I presume I was, but who can be sure.

And there were a few foils thrown in for good measure. To trick me. I find being tricked more horrifying than horror movies. So good call there.

I’m still looking for those things. It’s given me another reason to be suspicious of strange people (and by that I mean people not known personally to me which when you get down to it is basically seven billion minus some).

It follows. Should be called it lingers.

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Finally it’s Friday.

After an extraordinarily long week during which I did an awful lot of things that I didn’t plan to do at all, and none of the things I had planned to do, I have finally reached the end.

It’s not quite the end. Not for some of my co-workers. Money has overtaken sense and they’ve decided to do the unthinkable.

Working on a Saturday.

Yeah, sure. You get paid more. A bit of the day at one and a half times normal, and then a bit of the day at two times normal.

It sounds good in theory, but I’ve had the money in my bank account before and I can attest to the fact that the loss of a Saturday hits me harder than the gain of digits in my bank.

That could be because I don’t value money enough, or it could be that being paid these days is simply watching some numbers on a computer screen turn into other numbers.

Where’s the fun in that?

Perhaps if, instead of getting paid in computerised digits I was paid in physical pleasure and luxury, I may value it more.

Work on a Saturday and leave the office dressed in mink. Stay late every night this week, and have a deposit a beer guzzling, daily massaged, freshly slaughtered, wagyu steak supply left in the fridge.

Hmmmmmm. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll just stay home on Saturday and live my life without the culling of animals. No matter how good I look in them, or how good they feel in me.

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06 May / Kickstarter

Continuing onwards from my discussion yesterday about purchasing new gadgets (and yes it counts as a discussion if it’s one sided, that simply reflects my truth at home) I received a couple of updates this week from projects I’ve funded on Kickstarter.

I remember back in the day when I first came across Kickstarter and thought that all my dreams had come true. Getting in on the ground floor of projects that looked sweet. Gadgets, not only before anyone else gets them, but cheaper too.

And there were amazing ideas on there, with incredibly quick estimated delivery times.

I kept it casual at first. I purchased some jewellery which looked like leather but was made out of paper. I paid. It was sent. It arrived. I could never work out how it fastened, but it looks cool on my bedside table.

I became a bit more adventurous. I splashed out on a Mo Mug. This is a reusable coffee mug with a variety of moustaches on it, which was issued in honour of Movember for when you can’t compete (by virtue of gender discrimination, or a lack of appropriately hair promoting testosterone).

So far, so good.

And then things took a slightly different turn.

There was the Pebble incident. Long delays, but it was so awesome when it came in the end I didn’t care. And by the time it wore out, Samsung had got their act together and produced a much better 2nd gen of watches for my selection.

I am still waiting for Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa. Apparently some time during the campaign they decided instead of a short movie they’d go with a full-length feature, and then didn’t actually tell anyone. Sure, we can laugh about that May 2013 delivery date now…

Now that we’re at May 2015 and still waiting. So funny.

Here is a quick screenshot of the latest projects I’ve backed:

Homesick: July 2013. This is actually going okay. It’s into final testing now. I’m kind of over it, and I’m not sure that the game with horror graphics which looked awe inspiring two years ago will still be relevant, but I still look forward to playing it through. Sometime. In 2015 maybe?

Watch Jewellery: On time.

Yolkr: A few months late.

NKV Watch: Ditto

Barmes Freebase: the most expensive piece of luggage I’ve ever purchased, if I’ve purchased it. A year later, still waiting.

Once the trend started, I eventually wised up. Jewellery, yes. Anything else, no.

I even went so far at to not order something on indiegogo because I was learning. I waited until they were about to send out their first orders, and then I pre-ordered it on their website. For my birthday. July 2014. I’m hoping it will be here soon. That would be a nice surprise gift.

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05 May / oPhone

I want one.

I don’t know if you’ve seen or heard or smelt one yet, but you probably want one too.

Ever read a book and thought, ‘What this really needs is the scent of the pine forest the character is walking through?’

I know! Right?

I can’t remember what a pine forest smells like either.

Or imagine reading Winnie the Pooh and smelling the sweet scent of honey. Like you’d stuck your head right in the jar and couldn’t get it back out.

And you get all of this out of your phone!

Well you don’t really. But until I read the details further down the page and realised that you have to buy a large device with towers where smells come out I thought you did. And that moment was magical.

As was the moment what I realised that if I didn’t want to buy the large smell accessory I could buy a bangle version instead.

No I couldn’t.

404 yourself!

I want one, I want one, I want one, I want one, I want one, I want one, I want one.

Why is it that when I can’t buy something immediately I crave it more? That doesn’t seem very fair at all.

Down the bottom of the page there is a sign-up sheet to assess whether you’re a suitable candidate.

A suitable candidate to what, you ask?

To buy their product.

I remember once upon a time if you were nice enough to test products for manufacturers you were given what was commonly referred to as a job, with a hefty side benefit of pay.

Now, thanks mainly to people like me, you get to pay more for a buggier product, and to fill out feedback forms and/or spend hours on your computer detailing whether that new fix got it. Then this one? This one? Oh, that made your gadget stop working altogether? Interesting.

And rather than just be able to do that at your leisure, you have to fill out a form describing why you’d make a better candidate than the next person.

Is it wrong that I still want it?

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03 May / Soup

‘Tis the season for chicken frames and bacon bones. With the first frosts nipping at our heels in the mornings the supermarkets have been fulling up with a whole lot of ingredients that can only be used for making soup.

I’ve been taking advantage of this trend because it’s amazing how much meat you can get off a chicken frame that’s been boiled in lightly salted water for a good fifteen minutes. Certainly more than you’d expect from the price tag of six for $1.00

It’s also the only time I willingly eat a vegetable that isn’t a potato that’s spent its short life being cut into small pieces and coated with oil. And maybe tossed in seasoning. Do the herbs on seasoned potato wedges count as vegetables too? I’m sure they must.

My usually vegetarian averse lifestyle gets thrown out the window as I happily chop up leaks, celery, onions and carrots to toss them into a merrily boiling broth.

Once the vegetable to broth to meat ratio reaches the magic formula of thick and chunky, I let it boil away to enhance the flavour, and because you can’t overcook meat and vegetables.

Last week I was being austere and only purchased the chicken frames. This week I went all out and added a hearty serving of bacon bones on top.

It’s hard to describe exactly how much better the addition of bacon makes everything taste, but since it appears to be pretty universal I don’t think I need to try too hard.

Suffice it to say, mmmmmmmmm bacon.

I now have a second weeks supply of soup to accompany or be the focus of my lunch and dinners. If I get especially bored with it, I do have some emergency back up sausages, but they may just be headed for the freezer instead.

When I like a food. I really, really, really, like it.

In a week, or a fortnight, or a month, I may take my soup out of the microwave, look at it bleakly, and exclaim that I’m buying my lunch instead. But until then, soups up!

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02 May / True horror

I don’t experience terror much in my line of work. Either sitting on the couch writing, or sitting in the office typing. Either way, the only real fear I’d experienced lately was when I lost my USB stick and had to face the prospect of retyping thousands and thousands of words.

And when I found the USB stick again, in a place I’d already checked and rechecked, and discovered that I needn’t have bothered retyping all that work.

At least, that was the only real fear until Friday night.

A train came along when the bus indicator said my next bus was only two minutes away. The traffic immediately stopped (dead in its tracks LOL) and my bus stayed two minutes away for six minutes.

When the train finally passed it left jam in its wake. Traffic jam.

Although the bus pulled level, it didn’t make any great progress anywhere for another five minutes. So much so, that by the time it pulled into the next stop the bus scheduled ten minutes behind it was pulling in alongside.

The bright side to this was the bus behind pulled in front, and so we didn’t collect any new passengers at the next few stops. We may have continued not collecting them, but I stopped concentrating on anything other than the Franz Ferdinand song that I started to play over and over again compulsively because… I don’t know. I’m not wired right, maybe?

Anyway it was a fairly smooth bus ride. It turned into the street that my stop’s on, but five stops down from where we were. That’s my cue to perk up and start paying attention in case I go into a reverie and miss my stop altogether.

Four stops away I turned off my music and prepared for landing. I turned to look behind me, just because you do, and saw that the bus was entirely empty.

A cold chill swept through my body.

I have never, and I mean NEVER, been the only passenger on a bus. In fact the only time I remember seeing only one passenger on a bus was towards the end of Nightmare on Elm Street Two and it didn’t end well. Unless you’re Freddy whereupon it ended very well indeed.

I looked back one more time in case there were passengers, and they were just so short that I couldn’t see them over the seat backs.

Nope. Still empty.

Well this was probably okay. It just meant that everyone who’d been on there when I came on board had just gotten off at various stops along the way, and no one got on because the other bus was travelling so closely ahead.

I’d just sort out which button I was going to press to stop the bus, because I like to plan ahead, and then I may get off a stop early just in case.

There were no buttons.

At some point there had obviously been buttons. The poles they’d been attached to were still there, along with the holes that showed where they’d been mounted.

Where they’d been mounted until someone removed every last one of them. Perhaps whilst disposing of all the other passengers. Or, all the other passenger’s bodies.

There was a bell pull along the roof of the carriage beside me. It was hanging loosely, and ended in some weird slinky type spring, but I just went for it and pulled as hard as I could.

I felt a bit silly when the Bus Stopping light came on. Feeling a bit silly sat right alongside being so scared that I felt almost as though it was a dream. Maybe one of those ones where you don’t wake up.

So I ended up walking three bus stops further than I needed.

And at every step I counted myself lucky.

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