Oh hai, it’s January

So, it is traditional this time of year to look back on the past year and think ‘what did I achieve’ and discern whether it was ‘a good year’ or not. My vague notions about last year is that I didn’t really make much progress on the house, and that it was a quiet but not unpleasant year, for the most part. However, as with my friend’s recollections, thousands of miles away my general opinion wasn’t exactly the whole story.

It started well enough, with the discovery of Rise, the music store in Bristol, where I make infrequent pilgrimages and fawn hopelessly over the ranks and ranks of records. The fresh stacks of vinyl make me want to spend all the money. Every time I head in there I find my bank account substantially lighter on leaving, and frequently seem to pass from not knowing of a thing’s existence, to utter total desire without pause. It’s both terrible and wonderful simultaneously.

Not only that but I took my aged BBC Master around to my friend John’s, and he applied his L337 soldering skills and replaced the dodgy capacitors before they could expire. It functioned exactly as it should, lending hope to the possibility that I can inflict it on our child, when s/he is old enough to want a computer. Heh. Actually, I think our child will get something akin to the Pi. When I got my computer the deal was “here are some basic games, if you want more you’ll have to write ’em” which I think is a fair way to do things :)

Anyhow, so it was an auspicious start. Flicking through blog entries made me finally take stock of what I’d achieved on the house over the year, and perhaps I’d been unduly harsh on myself. Perhaps, when you look at it, I’ve actually achieved a fair amount. In the last year I:

– Finished decorating the bathroom (which was essentially decorating the bathroom and plumbing in the new shower)
– Painted the downstairs half of the hallway
– Built and installed the understairs storage
– Insulated under the house
– Designed and made the kitchen lighting
– Built the top surface of the deck, including sinking 4 posts in to the ground
– Completely decorated Kathryn’s office

Amongst that there were a number of smaller jobs like installing the telephone, adding a radiator to the central heating, adding in bits of trim, repairing other bits and bobs that broke throughout the house.

Y’know, given that I’m working full time and had various other projects ongoing last year, I don’t think that’s a bad list.

As I say I had a number of other projects ongoing, my beloved Minor’s disintegrated differential was finally replaced after months sat at the front of the house being sad. I’m still working on the Electric Minor Project, and have a potential sponsor to contact, which has led me to fawn hopelessly over Adobe In-Design. My background with Ovation Pro (which, assuming it still works in modern versions of Windows I highly recommend to anyone needing a cheaper DTP package for Windows) came in handy because it had many of the features of In-Design and works in fundamentally the same way. Playing with layout and design is quite delightful, and one of the few things in IT that I think I could get quite into if my career in nursing ever went south.

Anyhow, so the Minor is [touch wood] back on the road.

However, it wasn’t all sunshine and bunnies. Last year witnessed the death of our plan to move to Canada. Nova Scotia telling me in the politest way possible that I would need to spend thousands of Canadian Dollars if we wanted to land up there. The difference between UK and Canadian nursing registration was simply too great. However, the good news is that we plan to move to the States, which will put us closer to Kathryn’s family and some of the awesome people (Kathryn’s friends that I’ve met too) over in the USA. We’re maybe looking at San Francisco, although it’ll be a while.

We also found out that we can’t have the free solar panels installed. A fact which makes me very sad, because in all honesty, if the UK was like Germany our roof would be well within the benefit side of the cost-benefit analysis; solar panels in the UK being way more expensive than in Germany. This is because UK has decided that we’d like to pollute the planet and our local environment as rapidly and depressingly as possible, by fracking every last bit of this once green and pleasant land. Indeed, politically this has been one of the most heartrendingly awful periods I can recall. The Conservatives and their political lackeys, the Lib Dems, for whom, shamefully, I voted, have destroyed the few bits of Britain of which I was proud. The’ve pushed our xenophobic streak and also made this country hateful for it’s treatment of the poor, those with disabilities, the sick. They’ve divisively separated every minority group and demonised everyone who’s not rich.

I recently saw a quote from Aneurin Bevan, the awesome angry Welshman who rounded up the Doctors and Nurses and said ‘Fix the people’.

“Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, nor an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community.”

Which I think is a perfect way of describing illness. Mr Bevan rocked. Incidentally, he also said of the tories, this, which seems pretty accurate at the moment:

So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation. Now the Tories are pouring out money in propaganda of all sorts and are hoping by this organised sustained mass suggestion to eradicate from our minds all memory of what we went through. (1945)

Anyhow, enough depressing, because all in all it was actually a pretty good year.

So, other projects are the ongoing attempt to re-rip music and video. That’s sort of fallen into stasis, but I really should get that going again. There are still massively large stacks of stuff that need to be re-ripped. All the DVDs/Blu-Rays, and still stacks and stacks of music. Actually, that’s pretty depressing to think about. It was a good starter project but maybe I need one of those lego diskchangers. Unfortunately so many of our disks fail to pull down art, or fail to get listings… which completely screws up the rapid disk ripping.

Oh, actually, whilst we’re on depressing, I sold my motorbike. I, for the first time in many years, am without motorcycle for the long term. The thing is though, I’ve no excuse to ride them. And not enough money to just ‘have’ a motorbike kicking around. Nor the space. So… Yeah. But I do miss it. It’s like not having a bit of me. One day I’ll have a Zero or somesuch.

We also, on a more cheery note, sold Chester. We ran all over France, toured the place, and having pushed him really hard travelling down to the base of the Alps and back we sold him and switched to our much loved iMiEV. You gotta love an electric car, they’re just flipping awesome. Not only that, but it’s also managed to get me a little bit of fame writing as a guest writer on the Transport Evolved website. I need to have a ponder about more things to write about because I’ve enjoyed writing them. I also got featured, briefly, on the Kyocera blog. Not my writing, but a brief bit about our aged Kyocera FS-1030D which continues to provide sterling service and provides endless glee when it prints wirelessly.

And on the writing front, I also did NaNoWriMo. Didn’t finish it, but I’m still working on the book, which is interesting. I’ve never written a novel before, it may be awful, but it’ll be my bit of awful. I need to find some people to look at it, so if anyone wants to read a not very good first-half of a detective novel (be my Beta testers!) then let me know :)

I also, for the first year ever (I think) managed to push out a full year of Dead Bug Jumping. Something I’m quite proud of, because it’s actually a fair amount of work to produce new episodes.

Oh, and there were a few other minor achievements. I finished and passed my MSc. And I got a permanent Senior Staff Nurse position… so, job wise, that’s pretty good.

I think all in all I achieved a fair bit in 2013. Some things didn’t go at all the way I’d hoped. Some things went very well, and y’know, screw my sense of ‘I didn’t work hard enough’. I clearly bloody did. Stupid brain.

So here’s to 2014. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

Oh Canada!

So, we are waiting. I’d say patiently, but I’m not feeling terribly patient. We’re waiting for the answer from the Nova Scotia nurse’s board about whether I can take the Canadian Registered Nurses Exam. Now, we’ve not actually been waiting that long. But I’m not generally a patient soul (that’s why I work in the ED). However, it has come to the attention of the Nurse’s Board that my training, at UWE, was theoretical in some areas in which they like practical experience.

Now I’ve got post-qualifying practical experience, and I’ve got self-directed learning that I’ve done. See, looking after kids is terrifying if you’re trained in adults. So I took my (I think several hundred hours) of ‘Child’ training in an EU theoretical pack, and my knowledge gleaned from looking after kids in the ED when I trained, and I ran with that to more study and a child-pack from my workplace, and then looked after kids a lot. I looked after kids who were injured, I looked after kids who were a bit ill, and I looked after kids who were truly sick. Truly, terrifyingly sick. I looked after big kids and babies you could scoop up and hold in one hand.

But I’ve never bothered with a great deal of evidence on this. I’ve done enough training in my life to keep well above the ‘minimum standard’ for continuous training in the UK (Nurses have do do some fairly small number of hours to maintain their registration, given that I just completed a Masters I’m well over that minimum). Now the nurses board would like to know how I’ve addressed my largely theoretical obstetric, pediatric (argh, I hate spelling it with no a) and mental health nursing. And I’m not sure I can produce anything that will make them happy.

Which makes waiting more painful.

And of course, I sent back the e-mail on Thursday night, and it seems that Canada has the same Easter Bank Holiday (or just Holiday, who knows about the Bank-Holiday equivalency for Canada. I know the US doesn’t call them bank-holidays). So I’ve had 4 days of waiting to hear what they think. And there may well be more. I want to know gods-damnit. I’m not a patient soul. Bah.

A brief word about the news

I have become so disillusioned with my previously beloved BBC’s ‘news’ coverage that I can no longer stand to listen to or watch it. When it comes on in the car, I’m inclined to tune to another station. When I see articles linked to on the BBC site I half heartedly look but don’t expect balanced coverage.

Why?

Things they’ve not covered that really matter to me include:

– The privatisation of the NHS. If the s75 regulations are enacted into law the final nail in the NHS’s coffin will be in place (although all this is really horse-bolted-stable-door-nonsense now). Apparently there was one mention of it on the BBC’s today programme. I don’t plan to be here, but I love the NHS. Warts and all. Mid-Staffs disasters were largely caused by the government bringing business into healthcare. Healthcare has no place being a business. Jeremy *spit* Hunt witters on about compassion whilst slapping a price on every fucking thing in sight. Two-Faced little toad. You want to fix Mid-Staffs? Get enough staff in so that the staff aren’t drained at the start of their shift, let alone at the end. Throw money at training. Resource the hell out of it. Take the managers and such away and put them back making little plastic toys to go in cereal boxes. It’s meant to be a HOSPITAL. *sigh*. There will always be mistakes. There will always be disasters. We should learn from them. Mid Staffs is an example of everything that can go wrong being piled in a heap on one sorry excuse for a hospital. But taking the things that made it bad – targets and chasing money – and making them what the privatised-logo-slapped-remains of the NHS is about is going to make it worse, not better. Incidentally, the report mentioned nurse-patient ratios, don’t see Jeremy Hunt saying how the NHS is going to get enough money to pay enough nurses for that. No, we’re going to get fucking compassion training. In the words of the immortal Douglas Adams, Go Stick Your Head In A Pig.

– The welfare reforms that are causing hideous and disgraceful hardship to people. Indeed, killing people, or causing them to kill themselves. I was going to add descriptors like ‘poor’ or ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘disabled’, but the reality is they are all people. They are just people who society used to say should be supported, but who the media and the government have now vilified, just so they can save a few quid. A few quid which they have handed over to their 1% friends.

– Immigration. I’m weird, I’m pro-immigration. Because nearly everyone who wants to come to Britain (deluded though they are about what I am rapidly coming to despair of as a country) wants to come to work. And this bullshit they’re-taking-our-jobs attitude is a steaming pile of racist crap that should be exposed for what it is. When you actually look at the welfare figures, when you actually look at the employment figures, these new immigrants barely register. BBC’s coverage? Strangely pro-government-vilification.

– And a smaller one, in some ways. Electric cars. Look, they’re bloody good, alright. I’ve been in ’em, I’ve even driven a few, and they’re nifty. They’re not the answer to everyone’s problems everywhere, but they do what they say on the tin, and they’re a boat load cleaner than everything else around at the moment, except for cycling and walking. I’m quite bored of the BBC’s Clarksonian randomness on this front.

And it’s a shame, because I used to love the BBC. My belief in the concept of the BBC as a fair, largely unbiased news outlet was never that strong, but it was strong enough that I thought it was worth it. These days I’m left to wonder. Still, we’ll be in Canada, and the BBC will stop being funded by our taxes, and yes, I know Canada’s gone a bit insane over the last few years, but hey, everywhere seems to be depressingly mad these days.

Bother

So, ages ago I/we made the decision not to insulate under the floors. I can’t recall if we discussed it, but I certainly contemplated it and then thought it probably wasn’t worth the hassle, and anyway, where would I find the time. Because there’s no way we could afford to get someone else to do it.

Of course, winter has been pretty cold. The heating certainly can wind the temperature up further, but it’s expensive, and so we’ve suffered through having it set to progressively lower temperatures to save money (and not have it, essentially, running continuously).

But the winter has decided to continue the run of being cold, which means I’m now trying to work out whether we should suck it up and insulate under the floor – at least, maybe under the lounge and hall floors, which are neither insulated nor covered with any kind of floor covering.

The double problem is that the lounge is the one bit of the house that you can’t get to from the main under floor access – and to make it accessible would require two trips under there, with me arsing around with mortar to make one of the ventilator half-bricked sections have a complete sort of arch-affair so I can make a small hole for me (and then the insulation) to scrabble through. Either that or re-opening the hole in the lounge floor, which I don’t want to do, because our nice floor-people sealed it up really rather well. I kind of wish that we’d made a permanent access hole-and-cover, because it’s the kind of thing I find convenient.

Other people probably think I’m strange for that though.

Of course, the question then arises, is it worth it?

And that’s a difficult question. I’ve no idea. I suspect not, although 50 quid would probably do the lounge floor and poossibly some of the hall (maybe all of it) (in sheep’s wool, which would be a bit nicer for me since I’d be scrabbling about under the floor in close proximity to it). Only to 50mm thick, but that *should* be enough. Mainly what we need to stop is the drafts coming through the gaps.

Anyhow, I remain unsure about what the best route is on that front. Ideally, the cold snap could end, and I could stop thinking about it.

As for the minor I’m still looking for a cheap second hand diff to put in that’s in ‘fair’ condition. She may eat it, or not, but hopefully it will last until we get to Canada. However, given that she might well eat it I’m disinclined to spend too much money on it.

Once I’m a bit more thoroughly over my cold I’m hoping to get a bit more enthusiastic about finishing the house…

Post nights delight

So, whilst I was on my nights I came across this sign, which actually caused me near physical discomfort. It made parts of my brain really, really uncomfortable and I came away from it with that kind of flickering twitchyness that comes from something inherently wrong existing.

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Yes, yes! Fear the kerning disaster. I just want to run over and *FIX* it. I’m guessing it ‘looked fine in word’. I blame this on my graphic-design-in-my-youth-to-20s/technical writing history. This is why we don’t use word people, because it’s a bucketload of shit*.

Thankfully, there were nice staff on shift to take my mind off the horror ;)

Also, Bristol decided to bless me with a gorgeous (if cold) day as I cycled home…

Home time (@fuckyeahbristol)

Insanity is just seconds away. (@fuckyeahbristol)

Today is my post-nights day off, and then tomorrow is the joy of painting. Hopefully I can get it all finished tomorrow, (if two coats are sufficient for both the ceiling and the walls), then Sunday I can put the light up… Tuesday, when Kathryn’s home, we could pop the phone on the wall – then it’ll be the shelves under the stairs after that. But finishing the major work in the hall means we can properly clean the house, apart from Kathryn’s office… which will be awesome

Nikki is suggesting she may be free for a bit on Sunday, which may mean that I finally find the time and energy to remove the diff from Rebecca, so she can get back on the road.

I also need to resist this. If we were staying here, that might actually be impossible. But I keep reminding myself that whist it falls into the category of ‘we could get it going for under 3k’, it would not fulfil the “could replace Chester for Kathryn’s work” requirement – which requires a top speed of at least 60 and a range of at least 40 miles. Also, as time goes on, the 3k requirement becomes a smaller and smaller value, because the amount we’d save by having an EV drops since we won’t be here as long to recoup the funds…

But a Reliant Rebel EV, that’s pretty cool. Not as cool as the DAF EV, but much better converted, looking at it. Mind, that’s not hard.

* Personal opinion, YMMV.

Painting queen

So, the last few days have been awash with exciting sand-paint-filling joy.

The original wallpaper – textured as it was:

IMG_0434

covered, as usual, a multiple of sins.

I’d started filling it months (and months) ago – but had paused whilst I did my course. Returning to it and sanding it back revealed some more areas where the plaster was gently crumbly, so those were scraped out and filled.

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Then it had a coat of basecoat, then more filler to just catch the few bits that still stood out. I could spend an endless amount of time trying to make our walls look completely smooth, but they are now ‘acceptable’. I’ve also fillered the joint between the two bits of picture rail that I put up, and caulked every last joint between ceiling and wall, and between walls and picture rails and door frames. I’ve still got some lamb’s tongue strips to put on around the frame when I finish fitting the door, but otherwise it’s going fairly well so far.

Despite it taking a little longer than expected, it’s now ready for top-coating:

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And very, very white.

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You can also see the jauntily unsquare frame and the door which is currently ‘hung’ (it gets it out of the way until I take it down and plane it a bit). I fear whatever I do – the frame is so far off square that it’s going to look a bit odd. I’m going to shave a bit off both sides of the door, mainly (obviously) at the bottom) and then we’ll see. I’d like to have a stained glass section in that door, but I don’t think it’s realistically worth the effort. It’s no-where near as dark in there as I thought it was. It has, however, had the odd effect of making the kitchen marginally warmer, and the rest of the downstairs much colder. Upstairs is also a bit chilly – I guess the heaters in the kitchen were gently heating the rest of the house. Also, it’s (weather wise) got colder, so perhaps we should just suck it up and wind the thermostat up a bit.

That’s pretty much been it in my little world. I’ve recorded the next Dead Bug Jumping podcast, so that will, in fact, be up on time. I’m trying to get a smidge ahead, so that holidays aren’t an issue… And our router crashed, which in some way deeply upset the Pi. The pi then died, and I had to dump the disk image back across again. This has culminated in me leaving the Viewsonic box in situ, and giving the Pi it’s own input. The idea being that the Viewsonic can be a backup. I’d like to replace the router, since that seems to be the source of some of our grief, but I’m not convinced it’s wholly worth it since it’s just more crap to move. Mind you, that didn’t stop me picking up more vinyl… :-/

Progress (apace)

So, today was definitely one of those days where progress was made. Indeed, between yesterday and today much progress in a forward direction has occurred. The Pi is now working (although it has had to be overclocked to get enough performance to play my 30 gig HD Blu-Ray rips), I now just need to knock up a case for the LCD. For some reason some of the shows haven’t quite been picked up right to the library – and some shows have some episodes missing for no apparent reason. The naming conventions are fairly reasonably adhered to, so I’m not quite sure what’s up with that.

Anyhow, it’s working. I need to work out how to turn on two audio interfaces simultaneously (or maybe get it a USB audio interface, apparently the standard one’s a bit sucky). See, when we’re watching TV, in general we listen to the audio through the TV, but when we listen to music, that’s through the amp. The amp does not sport an HDMI connection, because it’s a proper hi-fi amp, not a home-cinema amp. It’s one of my favourite purchases, actually, that amp. Because after years of crappy amplifiers, of using my family’s cast-off Technics to replace my very repaired Eagle amplifier (which I’ll grant was a very nice amp before it was repaired, twice), the modern Cambridge Audio amplifier and Gale speakers do sound gorgeous. And yes, after watching When Albums Ruled the World I am playing my parent’s copy of Sergent Pepper. Why do you ask. Uh, sorry, so the having audio output on both the HDMI and analogue audio outputs of the Pi would be handy. I don’t know how to persuade it to do that yet. I know people have persuaded it to do that though, so I need to look that up.

So that was a good start to yesterday. Today I actually used it as intended and watched a fine rip of Blackadder (the fourth) over breakfast. Then whilst I was working on the house (I’ll get to that) I used Airplay. This Pi business is ace, to be honest. Although my phone’s working far harder than it ever has before.

Then yesterday continued well, with a trip over to see the illustrious John. I took the opportunity to take the much maligned m-audio interface with me. This has been giving me grief again, or so I thought. It turned out I was wrong. It was a poor connection in the (brand new) Maplin 1/4″ jack plug – which was making the microphone into an aerial – and picking up all the hum that was available (which is quite a lot given that it’s surrounded by lots of computing stuff). This was exacerbated by the fact I appear to have gone insane. I am convinced that I’d been using it to capture audio from the record deck. Only either I am mad, or I something very odd was happening. Because it’s only got a mono input. Err, so, yes. Either we’ve been recording the difference between the two channels for records, or..err… perhaps I’m just misremembering. It’s so long since it worked (and tbh, the connector (it turns out) died so promptly when I started trying to record the show after John fixed the M-Audio interface last time), that I’ve forgotten what it was like to use it!

Anyhow, having traced the fault, which it turned out was nothing to do with either my craptastic soldering, or the (unfairly maligned) m-audio interface (problem is, it’s actually failed twice, and so now is highly suspect whenever anything goes wrong), we lopped the jack plug-and-socket off, and I soldered the XLR connector straight onto the mic. Which is probably what I should have done in the first place, but does mean that if the m-audio does fail again then I’ve no easy way to connect the mic to the Mac. So, all pray, eh. It was however, generally, a nice social day. Spent lots of time considering a bench multimeter – since it appears that I’m going to go doing stuff I’d sort of forgotten that I loved doing. I really do rather enjoy dinking with electronics. I’d obviously help if I was good at it, or actually could remember the stuff I was taught and learned as a kid, but eventually it’ll come back to me I’m sure.

Anyhow, today was similarly productive. Having cleaned the kitchen a bit, and done some washing up, I set to work on the house. I’ve sanded the filler in the hall way (it’s ready to paint now), and the plaster’s primed, and I’ve also spent a bit of time running a bead of caulking around the ceiling-wall joint (old-new plaster). I’ve cut and fitted the small piece of timber to replace the original bit that had warped and fallen down. I’ve hung the door in the hallway (after nearly two years with no door to our kitchen we now have an extremely ill fitting one). Unfortunately, it became (rapidly) apparent that the doorway to the kitchen is hilariously far from square. As in, ‘oh that’s a witty joke’. I mean, I know that having been built on a hill in the 1930s our house has only had a passing acquaintance with right angles. Indeed, one of the things I noticed when we first looked around was that I thought the stairs were not horizontal. They’re not. But the unsquareness of the doorways is… challenging. Now, before I hung it I took off the 1960s modernism which had been applied to one side (a layer of hardboard). Confusingly, all the doors in the house have a layer of hardboard on one side – I’d understand if both sides had been tormented in this way, but it is only the one side.

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More oddly, it’s the side inside the rooms. So rather than walking into the house and being hit with modernist simplicity, it’s only when you’re inside the rooms. Except, because this door’s been moved and turned around, you would have been assaulted by a non-matching door when you walked into the house. So I attacked it, and attacked it…

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And as expected, underneath lurked a perfectly good door. It could do with a little filling – if we were staying then I’d get them stripped and just leave them bare with their faults. As we’re not, they’ll get a light sand and fill, and then be painted.

I also cut and put up the missing section of picture rail.

The hall’s looking really rather a lot better now. Tomorrow I shall start actually painting the hall, which is quite exciting. I also need to mount our A-B payphone on the wall and knock up a cover for the fuse box. Then I need to find out how to wire it up – my dad did try once, having had a quick look at the ‘circuit’, but never quite got it right (you could dial/hear, but not speak, even when you’d paid the requisite number of pennies/six pence/shillings). ISTR there’s a newsgroup / forum for vintage phone fans, they may well know the correct way to connect it…

That will probably max out our line’s ring-capacity.

I’ve no idea what the ‘REN’ is for phones of this age, but ISTR that when we got up to 5 phones in my parents house the phones started auto-answering, because the ring-current required was so high, that attempting to ring them made the phone system think that the phone had been answered…

Heh.

Anyhow. So, tomorrow I start the painting festival. I also need to drop off my ‘new’ bag to be repaired. And I’ve been ripping music for the last… age, and I’m continuing to do so. I’ve now made it well into the DJ box (holds 300 CDs or so). I need to have a bit of a think about this, I need more sleeves, I think. I took the DVDs out of the other box, and put them into a DVD-specific DJ-case, so the other small DJ case should be empty. This means I can start the strip-down of the CDs (so we can keep the artwork and recycle/offer the boxes up on freecycle, saving us from transporting them to Canada). Whee. So, onwards we go.

Working hard or hardly working?

So, I had mentally scheduled (indeed I’d actually scheduled) today to work on RebeccaMog. Having sucked it up and accepted that we’re not going to have her EVified before we go to Nova Scotia, she needs to be made roadworthy again and today’s plan was to strip out the diff. However, you may be aware that it’s snowed here. It’s snowed, and the temperature is indicated to be -1 (“feels like -3”). Given that the gas cylinder in the heater ran out a while back and this would involve significant lying on the floor I decided that discretion was the better part of valour*. There’s also the factor of the GT550. It is on e-bay and will hopefully be whisked off by the next time I have a couple of days off so there should be some more space in the garage to work, which will be nice. Although I’m really going to miss having a motorbike. It’s one of those things that’s become part of my identity and not having the bike is kinda weird. Dyke with a bike, only no bike**. Meh.

Anyhow, so, that not being on the list, the vacuum was instantly filled by many other little jobs. So I spent some time (quite a lot of time, really) fixing the old Dead Bug Jumping podcast. Whilst I couldn’t find a speed changing plugin for Ardour, I could find one for Audacity. And while Audacity feels very…basic…now, after Ardour, and I spent quite a lot of time going “Argh” as things work differently in each application, Dead Bug Jumping now sports a complete set of updated podcast episodes with the first track playing at some approximation of the right speed. It is only an approximation – but given the variability of gramophone playback, I’m not too worried. The new episodes are recorded at a stroboscopically checked 78rpm, so that shouldn’t be a problem again.

That essentially took up the morning, but I did take a moment to put our meter readings on our utility supplier’s billing page, and then saw a ‘how do you compare’ kind of thing. And if you’ll forgive me a moment’s smugness:

Mmm, smug much?

Mmm, smug much?

Now, it’s not wholly accurate, because our last months reading was much higher than expected (although, to be fair, it’s been sodding freezing, and our heating is struggling to keep pace (one heater down, missing internal doors, it’s all not good for it). But I’m quite pleased about that. We’re doing quite well. Combine that with our reduced car usage (Kathryn commutes in it once a week) and my fairly committed cycling to work (although the cycling through the snow probably suggests I should be committed, rather than am committed), local food shopping, and habit of buying most things second hand and so on, and I’m feeling that for once we’re actually starting to do our bit. There’s much more that we could and should do, but until we get moved and settled, I don’t feel this is a bad place to be.

This is obviously the appropriate moment to segue directly into my consumerism. Heh. So, I am weak. Whatever… ;)

No, seriously. The Superpad III has continued it’s previously unsullied run of disappointment, continuing to be crap and randomly not working very well. I have to say it’s the worst piece of tech I’ve ever owned, and I really, really, really wish I could have found a solution that used the (now sold) iPaq. But the plan was (at least in my head) to pick up a slimp3:

slimp3

I’ve even had logitech’s Squeezebox Server running on the music server in the optimistic hope it might attract a slimp3 to the house. Now, I’d given in and started considering that maybe a Squeezebox 1 would do. It is no-where near as pretty as the slimp3, but it would work, and it would mean I could free up that end of the book shelf, and get rid of some trailing wires, and also flog off the Superpad. All a win.

I’ve been trying to win one on e-bay to no avail, really, and then I came across this. Which is disappointing. See, logitech, you nearly had me. I may well still pick one up, because I’m not relying on it for internet radio, and obsolete technology’s pretty much par for the course in our house. But for once I was nearly sucked into a modern device. Granted, I reckoned the first iteration, long discontinued, was the one I wanted. But Logitech have handily saved me from that slippery slope.

Anyhow, most of the day has been spent doing paperwork. I’ve reapplied (for the third time) for the tax relief allowed to nurses (and a reclaim for the past 6 years (working up to 7)). You’re only normally allowed to claim for 5 years, but since I applied in 2008, and in 2009, and in both cases they lost the form, I’ve stated that I still want my tax reclaim to go back to 2006. I’d put it off so long because it means actually trawling through bank statement after bank statement – although I realised after a bit that my subscription to the Emergency Nursing journal, whist it changes price, it only changes once a year, so I only needed to find the cost for each year. And then having checked my UNISON subs, and found they’re the same in the first year as they are now (bargain!), I just stuck the same amount in for each year. That, therefore, did not take near as long as I thought it would (although there was still a fair amount of trawling). Also, thankfully, it turns out the NMC registration price has apparently remained unchanged every year. Which surprised me, because I thought it had gone up. But the website I found said ‘same price every year, back to 1996, when there was a massive price hike. So that all made life simpler. Of course, then I had to have 4 stabs at writing a letter to say what I wanted which didn’t say “I got heartily sick of pissing around trying to get you to contact me on a day when I was at home, since you refused to give me a direct dial number and would only do a ‘we will ring back within a few days’ thing”.

I managed to get it down to faintly irritated with an apology for being slightly irritated. Which I thought wasn’t too bad.

So that’s now in an envelope awaiting the tender ministrations of the post office.

I’ve also faxed various documents to Canada (to WES). I don’t know if you’re allowed to fax documents to them, but it seemed a bit pointless to mail them photocopies. I can do it if they want, but hey. It doesn’t say you can’t fax them.

I also sent the NMC more money, because I love them so. Or alternatively because they wanted more money to send things to Nova Scotia. As I suspected the “we’ll send it to multiple places’ only applies if you do them all at the same time. Feh. Feh, I say.

All in all, it’s been a wildly dull day, really. And now I’m sat ripping CDs again, before cooking dinner. I’ve managed to make myself feel that faint unwell that comes from spending the entire day inside looking at a computer with a fire going. And then I’m back at work more than normal this week (this is one of the make-up-shift weeks for the slight under-hours I do by working 12 hour shifts). Which is why I’d put off starting the hall until this week is done, because after Sunday I should have enough days off to get the hallway finished. Which would be really a very nice treat.

* or calor, given that it’s a calor gas heater….
** Unless we include the 1930’s pushbike collection, which brings to mind an entirely different dykey image.

Days off

Days off still feel a bit of an oddity. I allowed myself a break between the slog of the bathroom and starting the hallway, because I thought this is probably good for my sanity. In it I’ve cleaned the house, I’ve moved the website (wordpress used to be in a subdirectory, it’s now not) and upgraded wordpress (and applied a new theme, which I’m not sure about at the moment, but is the theme that I’m trying. It’s a suck-it-and-see approach*). I’ve listed my Kawasaki GT-550 on e-bay (*whimper*). I’ve been to Two Day Coffee and got more coffee. I’ve been to Maplin and got possibly the worst power tool I’ve ever owned – a battery dremel clone (and been slightly stunned to find that it’s got an AC-adaptor**, rather than a DC adaptor, which means I’ll have to look at the guts of the charger to see if I can take it to Canada. The only reason I got it, rather than any other Dremel clone, is I thought it would be useful to take to Canada. I didn’t get an actual Dremel because Kathryn already owns one, so spending twice as much on something that duplicates what we’ve already got, not handy. Although, as we’ve already considered, probably vastly better quality).

I’ve worked on the clock*** (which I’m going to continue doing after this) and I’ve tried to rejoin the nursing agency. I’ve written some more of the next episode of Dead Bug Jumping, and I’ve installed and started to toy with a new media server. I’ve ripped another 10 CDs and done 3 loads of laundry (and am pondering a fourth).

I’m not quite sure I’ve got the hang of this ‘Days off’ concept.

* The result of which may be that it sucks. I’ve got through four themes so far today.
** Which outputs 6volts at 50hz. What’s up with that? I’m assuming that, somewhere in the guts of the hideous plastic base object, there’s a rectifier.
*** Which is for-why I bought the dremel clone. Because the new clock mechanism doesn’t fit in the space previously occupied by the old clock mechanism.

Onward

So, today’s progress report from the house…

Sealant in around bathroom window; it’s not as neat as I would like in a couple of patches, but I’ve definitely got better at it (also, this is way nicer sealant than the grot I’ve got previously from B&Q. Much smoother to use, but dries hella-fast).

I’ve managed to break the new toilet seat, however, standing on it to reach the window. This is upsetting, and means I’ll have to fix it tomorrow :(

In other news, the roof has (hopefully) been fixed. The company said that while long-term it’ll need the zinc replacing, the repair should last a good while. There are some slightly sad tiles up there, but nothing else needs immediate attention, which is good news.

I’ve also been ripping music like a good’un – I’ve got through in the region of 50 CDs. I’ve also been ‘tidying’ in the video and film directories, coming up with something like a naming scheme. I’ve also added a specific username for the media equipment to use (Herbert Shuffle*). I’ve also started moving media around to have one disk full of Audio and the other full of Video. Obviously it’d be nice to have a nice shiny RAID system with backup on it… But not yet, eh.

I’ve also registered for assessment of and organised sending of transcripts for both my Bachelor’s degrees to Nova Scotia, for to have them decide that I can take the exam which will hopefully lead to us exiting this country. Ironic, really, because we’re trying to work out if Kathryn can get Citizenship here, so that we can come back later. Maybe. For a bit :)

And finally, I’ve ordered an FD to Micro 4/3rds lens mount for my Lumix G1. Because**. If anyone wants to give me decent or fish-eye or ultra-wide-angle FD lens (or spots them realllllllly cheaply somewhere, or better still, free), let me know.

Uh, so I think that’s it for today. I was hoping to put up the light in the bathroom, but I was informed by Kathryn that I wasn’t doing that because I was yelping and having great difficulty moving my left arm. She was, of course, right. Although I think I could do it now, it’s probably worth letting my arm have the rest of the day off, especially because lying in bed last night and trying to turn over, I kind of looked like a beached fish as I flapped my body trying to avoid using my arm. Abduction is a bugger, adduction less so. Circumduction isn’t happening. I’m just praying I don’t have to do CPR at work because I may end up in worse shape than the patient… :-/

In other, other news, I need to sort out putting DD-WRT on the other WAP54G; this is because the WAP54G’s feeble wireless output isn’t quite enough to reach our garage (our old Belkin 802.11b router could just, just reach the garage, but was painfully unreliable and only did WEP encryption***). So I might as well sort the other power supply for it… which is something to do tomorrow.

* Bonus points if you can name the source of the username. But not many bonus points, because… obviously.
** Because I have a few FD lenses, and there’s no way I can afford any new Micro 4/3s lenses at the moment. Yes, I know this makes the pretty/shiny/small argument for buying the G1 invalid. Yes. Shut up and go away.
*** And whilst I do support the concept of open WiFi, our ADSL is so sick that sharing out the weedy connection we’ve got seems foolish.