Gardens, headaches and things of significance.

So, my head hurts.

I’ve no idea why, although possibly the 30 odd hours with an hour or so of sleep in the middle during which we gardened, shopped, I did a complete night shift at work, and so on, that might explain why every time I move my head it feels like I throw a large brick against the side of my head.

I did try going outside for a walk, and I’ve been drinking plenty of water, but it’s all not helped. Which is saddening.

Anyhow, I mentioned that we did gardening, we also went to the garden centre (to get plants to do gardening with) – this has resulted in our garden going from a huge pile of rubble (which sadly I have no photos of) to this:

We’ve got what we’re hoping will develop into a nice flower bed, and a also a nice veggie patch. The flowers already smell nice in the sun too; using a trick from Bristol, the path’ll be covered over with gravel (to hide the concrete), and we have plans for a small bog-garden, a raised bed (where the coal shed used to be, or possibly outhouse), and a bit of lawn. Decking is still part of the plan too.

Other than that; I’ve been around to the back-garden-adjoininger responsible for the slow collapse of the shed (the back wall’s giving up due to them undermining the foundations) and given them a letter saying I want a new shed. On the way back I was witness to a lot of high-speed driving by police and general bemusment of peoples because – I am unreliably informed – a youth was ‘waving a gun around’. I didn’t see any youths with guns, thankfully. But I did see a lot of people milling. Now, I’m sorry, but my plan on hearing ‘youth running around with gun’ wasn’t to stand there like some sort of startled dugong, but was instead to head to the house (not, I grant you with any particular urgency, but more because it was where I was going and I reckon being inside was better than being outside in such a situation). One imagines that lots of milling around people must annoy the police.

Of course, people do like to stare at things. On my last night, on my way to work there was an upside-down car and a lot of flashing lights on the opposite carriageway of the motorway; this, one imagines, was an accident. What this might require from someone travelling in the opposite direction is a quick glance (ideally nothing at all, but I’m human and my interest is piqued, especially ‘cos I like to know what might be at work waiting for me). What it doesn’t require is letting your foot off the throttle, dropping speed from 80->65, then actually braking to slow down more and get a better look, when you’re in the centre lane of the opposing carriageway. Doing this when I’m behind you leads to me hitting the horn, flashing the lights and also hurling abuse in your general direction. It’s dangerous and annoying… 

In other news (I might post about work in a bit, given that I’ve done 3 loads of laundry and we’ve not got any newspapers kicking around), Brick’s for sale. He’ll do ’til the end of the week with just posters in the car, and then come thursday I intend to run him round to the jetwash, take lots of photos of the clean’d brick and pop him on e-bay. The DAF Welder is coming on Thursday, so hopefully the DAF’ll be returning to the road shortly. Of course, he may turn up and give me a quote that’s entirely insane, in which case I’ll be calling the other welder.

It’s weird, I find it so hard to take time off. Today is basically my only full day off in a run of 9 shifts, and it was only yesterday morning I came off nights. But to take the whole day off seems excessive somehow. I guess doing laundry and writing a letter’s hardly challenging, but hey. I’m going to stop there because this post’s taken hours to write and been completely rambly. In other news, my headache’s gone :)


So, as I wait for my Viva’s exhaust to arrive I’ve been riding the ‘zed to and from work. Thankfully, given the extent of the rain yesterday, they let me come home early (to be fair we’d just had a faxed-through flash-flood warning) and the bair-hugger did a grand job of getting my boots dry enough for me to be able to ride (despite wearing my walking gear and my bike gear my arse still got wet though).

I’d hoped the exhaust would arrive today; not least because of the weather…

Anyhow, so I’ve been lurking around the internet today and I found this. Am I alone in being appauled that Mazda is crushing nearly 5000 new cars because there might be something wrong with them. Sure, if they looked and found that brakefluid’d leaked out all over the car, or that the engine bay was filled with oiley-watery-sludge then fine, okay, strip them for spares. But they’re destroying the *wheels*. Wheels? Do wheels mysteriously get damaged by tilting them at 60 degrees?

Interiors? Are they unsalvageable?

*le sigh*.

I also went on the hunt for the previously mentioned TCO report on older cars – which I’ve heard of – from the SMMT of all places, which still said that owning older cars was better than buying new ones. Unfortunately, I can’t find my reference to it (which I think was in Practical Classics) and can only find the ‘green car’ booklet which alledges 10% of pollution coming from manufacture and 5% from recycling (although this from my quick scan suggests around 20% from manufacture). I’d like to find a good and at least less biased reference on whether I’m right about driving an older car. It makes sense to me that keeping it on the road longer is better than recycling it and driving a new one. Of course, not driving at all is better still; but until I live somewhere were nurses are actually paid a reasonable sum of money then I’m not going to be able to live near where I work, and thus driving is a necessity (unless public transport suddenly manages to cater for people who need to get to and from work at late and early times of the day).

Anyhow, now that rant’s over and done with. I’ve called a welder and am going to have to arrange for him to come around on monday to look at the DAF. I’ve also written the ad for the Viva – but I’ll go and fork out a few quid for a jetwash before I photograph it – and shan’t do that until the DAF is decided upon. I also need to make a run to my mum’s to collect the ramps and the jacks and suchlike.

Anyhow, I should go shower….

Huge house / holiday / car update

Oh lord alive, I’ve not updated for a while, and there is much to say… There follows:

So, let’s start at the beginning (since that’s generally a good place to start). At the beginning of the week (the one before the one before this one), as we commenced our ‘week of tormenting the house’ we discovered the availability of one, free, DAF44. Now, to those who are unfamiliar with the DAF, it’s a car with a constantly variable transmission driven by big belts. It’s really awfully clever, and now, apparently, Mercedes do something similar.

At any rate, I’d fancied one for a while and it seemed like the perfect (simple) vehicle to get Kathryn so as she had an automatic to drive to work. It does, however, need some floor.

It’s also not a runner. Ignoring this, at the beginning of the week we headed down to see it, and decided that for the cost of transporting it, it was worth it. So, at the end of the week Joggernaught (not Juggernaught) arrived outside our house, somewhat reluctantly, and covered in a 3 year accumulation of tree-gunk. Some scrubbing by Kathryn (and a little light helpfulness from me) and she was kind of off white. Not exactly going to win Concourse, but presentable. Which probably relieved the neighbours. J-g needs a service, some fresh petrol, and I spent a lot of time persuading the passenger side door to shut. It’s in need of a little adjustment still, but it does shut, which is altogether goodness.

Annoyingly, the idea was to get the car and decide later if it was salvagable, but it’s kinda cute and it’s burrowed into mine (and I think Kathryn’s) heart somewhat. But there’s a financial limit on what we can do, so we’ll have to see what we can sort. Kathryn’s devoid of driver’s licence at the moment anyhow, and we’ve not even got the Autodata manual to get it serviced, so it’s just sitting for the time being. Shots of the DAF are here

The week, however, was mostly spent gutting and redecorating the office and the bedroom. This did not entirely go to plan. Essentially, the idea was that we’d empty the bedroom and the office, sand and paint the office walls (which were already stripped), strip, fill, sand, paint the bedroom walls, paint both floors, varnish ’em and move back in. Oh, and construct a desk and a wardrobe at the same time.

Unfortunately, although it mostly went pretty well, we had two disasterous walls in the bedroom (which now await my attention to replaster), and some lazy sod had applied wallpaper over old wallpaper. This doesn’t come off unless you attempt to apply filler over it, at which point it leaps from the wall with reckless abandon. And the wall that used to have a fireplace in is also a complete state – one which requires us to attack it either with cloth or wallpaper, as it’s also a strip-and-replaster job otherwise.

But we achieved an astonishing amount (with some assistance from my Mum and Parmito, who popped down for the day and opted to spend the day sugar-soaping the walls in the office); the bedroom is so-much-nicer…


Bedroom, before decorating


After decoration, or at least part way through

A bit of a change, I hope you’ll agree.

To be fair, we’ve not spent the last year sleeping on the camp bed, but it does let you see how hideous the carpet was.

So yes, the office now looks like an office, too. This is awesome…[House reno photo sets]

Anyhow, because of the disasters we were a day late heading from there to Brizzy to see Nikki and Kate. But we piled in the car and headed down to see them having spent some time making the house liveable. Having got down there we headed down to Weston giving Pepper and Eddie a chance to run around like maniacs, and Kathryn, Nikki and I a chance to take photos of them running around like maniacs (and a few of each other). Despite the sun-shine the wind was cold, April this year feeling a lot like, say, November.

Anyhow, ‘cos I’m lazy, the photoset from Weston is here.

We then spent a few hours the next day (monday) mooching around Bristol. I love Bristol, it’s a great city, and were I staying in the UK it’s one of the places I’d be happy to live (and could actually afford to live). Oxford is beautiful, but way too expensive to stay; Brighton (the last place we visited) is another I’d happily live in… Anyhow, I wanted to show Kathryn what I mostly feel is ‘my city’, so we took a bit of a wander. Mostly around the St. Nicholas market area; we were going to head up into Clifton but unfortunately, no one warned us that Fopp has reopened. Sucked in as we were by the sound of cheap music and cheap books calling us, we ended up spending far too much time and money in there… and thus Clifton and the Camera Obscura and such shall have to wait for another day.

So the photoset from Bristol is here… (see, really blindingly lazy, but you’re getting an update, what more do you want?!).

Anyhow, we then headed up to the Lakes, this was for somewhat of a working holiday in that we had 7 hotels to visit to check out as wedding venues. In the end, what we thought might be a hard decision turned out to be astonishingly easy; in that one hotel really stood out as being just the most gorgeous views, the nicest staff, and just really the hands-down winner. After some trecking we did come up with a second, but it’s not really in the area of the lakes I love. It’s a beautiful place, and quite definately a fantastic venue. Had we not have seen the one we’ve fallen for then it’d’ve been first. But yes. So I rang the Registrar today; there’s not many times available, so when I get home from work today we’ll have to sort it, hopefully.

Because my birthday fell while we were in the Lakes, we did take a day off from venue hunting, and wandered up to Easedale tarn. Kathryn got me a shiny shiny book (and it turns out a Suzanne Vega single, and something that’s not arrived yet…). It was wonderful to be up in the fresh air, on a mountain, in the quiet again. Just looking out over the vista was beautiful. Being as we’d not done lots of walking to build up to it, we just went up to the Tarn and back down – but that alone was a fair walk – and the weather though cold was clear and sunny most of the day. It rained for literally a couple of minutes (really lightly) just after we got back, and while we were preparing to head out for Dinner. Kathryn also took me to dinner at an italian restaurant in Grassmere which was just lovely. The food wasn’t anything to write home about (it was fine, not unpleasant or anything, but definately itallian as cooked by the english), but the company was excellent :)

The next day was back on the road, touring more venues. Poor old Brick’s exhaust’s temporary repair started to give up; I suspect the road up to the hostel was to blame, but he soldiered on; slightly more throaty and distinctly more rattly than is ideal… and we headed, after touring venues, down to Manchester.

The lakes photos are here.

Kathryn’s friend Helen lives in Manchester, and she showed us the city a little (We toured Ontario basin in Salford before heading in to the city); we spent lots of time chatting to her and her housemates, and had a very good chinese takeaway. I had a thoroughly nice time – and it was really really nice to sleep in a proper bed. It was also fantastic to meet one of Kathryn’s friends. I’m not very good at being not-shy, but I tried… No photos from Manchester because, well, most of the things I wanted to photograph were inconveinently located in the kinds of areas where taking a camera out is an invitation for someone to take the camera…

So, huge thanks to Helen for showing us some of Manchester and putting us up for the night :)

Then onward again, this time to Brighton. 

Brighton is one of my other favourite cities; although I’ve not spent much time there, that which I have has been good, and it has a thriving music and culture scene. Unfortunately, it’s also home to West Pier, something which I have watched disintegrate since my youth. I love West Pier, I think it’s the most damning inditement of our Listing laws that there is a Grade I listed building lying in the sea. One which could, and rightly should, have been saved.

Anyway, ignoring the ranting, the plan was to chill out in the afternoon, get some food, head to the hostel to book in and go clubbing. All of which we did. We headed to the museum too, and encountered work of a very cool musician called Al Start; we also risked life and limb entering a variety of bookshops and other-small-thing shops, but the clubbing bit? Friday night at the Candy Bar was quite empty. Even come 11pm there was not much life there. We did have a game of pool, which was excellent, and then headed back to our Hostel. Finally we spent Saturday Morning touring the shops and going down to see Brighton and West Pier. We’ve already had the rant, so you could just have the photos

So, finally we get to the Car. Poor old Brick has racked up 1000 miles this week; he’s burnt virtually no oil, but he’s dumped around 3 – 5 litres of coolant. Flushing the radiator was inadequate, it seems. And while short journeys are conducted fairly reasonably, long ones are only okay as long as you are very, very gentle with the throttle. And no suddenly stopping for fuel or you’ll get that coolant explosion.

However, we seemed to get away with just topping up the coolant regularly; but what we didn’t get away with was 1000 miles on top of the 12 or so thousand miles on the temporary exhaust repair. It snapped sometime up in the lakes, and unforunately the hostel near Brighton was actually up an unmade track, and that spelt the end of the front section which, it seems, also had a temporary repair at some point.

Unfortunately, about 40 miles from home the exhaust gave up completely, shearing into 3 separate pieces; and the RAC bloke couldn’t bodge them back together. Thankfully, the very nice RAC bloke towed Brick home (despite me only having roadside assistance) – his argument being that it was freezing cold, and it’d take him as long as it would to wait with us. He was an absolute star, and will mean that the RAC get my recommendation and continued custom. They rock.

Unfortunately+, I can’t seem to get hold of a new exhaust for Brick. Well, I can get a stainless steel one, but I deem that somewhat excessive. Especially when Rebecca’s looking at being finished fairly soon…  I’ve got to head to work now, so we’ll save the rant about cars and money for later, shall we?

And for a change, we went to Oxford :)

So, having examined the pros and cons, we headed off to Oxford yesterday for a few more Oxfringe events; in the end we only made it to two; mistiming it and arriving after the other exhibition had shut…

We did: Things on the wall (both venues). In both cases there were paintings I really liked (see, I am a sucky reviewer); beautiful images and images that made you pause and think. Several that I’d’ve happily hung on the wall, were I paid rather more than I am. I did buy a book, though, from @183, which cost me all of a pound. It’s a copy of Stasiland – a book I wanted to read when it came out (but which, oddly enough escaped going on the wants list). It looks, from the beginning of it, very interesting. We also stopped off in a comic / video store, where we didn’t buy anything (possibly to the distress of the owner). It turns out the Scott Pilgrim in the window is but one of a huge shelf-load of Scott Pilgrims. What is going on? I know it’s awesome, but it’s meant to be my bit of Canadian Awesome! Ah well, I s’pose I can share with the world. I did however pick up a free Oxford music magazine, so I’ll have a nose at that for free events….

We tried to do: Illustrators and Book Artists  – this is in the O3 gallery, which we somewhat belated located inside the Castle development. Not that it really mattered, we’d been wandering around being touristy and enjoying the freezing cold, and thus arrived some time after it shut. Peering through the door, it looked interesting. Better planning is called for next time, on our part, obviously.

We then meandered around the city taking photos. Well, I took photos until my camera had a strop about the batteries being flat. Given that they were immensely cheap rechargables, which have been hideously abused, and it was fecking freezing out there yesterday I’m not entirely suprised. I’ve taken some shots of Kathryn while she’s asleep on the sofa today (it’s lushously sunny, if also bloody cold) and the batteries are happily displaying ‘full’ so I suspect it really was just the cold that’s upset them. Anyhow, we then made it to various bookshops, and in the end landed up in Borders, to check if there was anything else we fancied doing. Having spied various ‘stage’ type things we um’d and ah’d and were as traditionally decisive as we were, in the end picking “Do something, Martin!” (Martin White) because it was late enough that we could go and get something to eat first.

It turned out that our choice could have been much less limited by time, because the Mexican Grill at which we got Burritos was the quickest Burrito provider I’ve encountered, and we were fed and on our way with plenty of time to sit in the bar at the theatre/college… which was nice, because it was one of the few warm places we’d been.

Do Something, Martin! turned out to be excellent, if very very odd. It’s essentially a one-man story with accompanyment on an accordian, and some rather odd little songs in there. Kathryn mentioned a slight Tom Lehrer-esqueness, which I can agree with. 

Do Something, Martin! also turned out to be where 

was that evening (Oxfringe hoodie in evidence), and after some prodding from Kathryn (I have this vague fear of looking like some kind of stalker when I meet people off Livejournal) I said Hi. It’s always nice to put a face to a journal – although we were somewhat hurried – she had more Oxfringe things to do, and we had to go freeze our arses off getting back to the car.

Of course, Brick having had all of the previous day being played with, declared that he wasn’t going to have any rear lights. Brake lights were fine, indicators just dandy, but no rear lights, no number plate light, and just for real top-level-Vauxhall-Viva humour, no dashboard lights either. Of course, the only thing I actually knew we didn’t have was dash-lights, until we pulled into a petrol station where a recovery truck driver mentioned it.

Having spent about 10 minutes prodding bits, but foolishly assuming it must be the fuse (made of unobtainium) that I’d blown and bodged (because they are, in fact, made of unobtainum, or in my car 30A fuse wire soldered across the fuse body) I gave up, and we ran the last stretch home with the left indicator on permanently. Not ideal, but it was fracking freezing, and waiting for a recovery truck seemed unappealing).

Today, of course, I checked and it’s Fuse 4, not Fuse 3 (the one I’d been fiddling with) which does the back lights. Taking it out and putting it back in seems to have cured it, I suspect though I need to find that emery and clean all those fuse connectors :-/

Today is of course, Kathryn’s birthday. Kathryn’s been dozing in the sun, seems happy with her prezzies and her Pancake breakfast, and so we shall probably have a nice chilled out day before commencing the world of work we’ve planned next week. 

Picture post

So, today’s been a day of doing car jobs. I had been intending, for a while now, to sort out Brick’s so called coolant. Having nearly had him overheat heading in to Oxford, and again heading into Reading I reckoned that nearly was close enough and it was time to bite the bullet and pull my finger out and get a round-tuit, as it were.

Oh, just before we do that, we saw a hedgehog last night, it was lurking ‘twixt the front door and the window. Awesomely cute, it was :)

So, I lifted the bonnet, having nipped first to Halfrauds to get some fresh coolant, and I drained out the most revolting brown gunk in all brown gunkydom.  

gunk in a bucket

That was *blue* when it went in. Not only that, coolant generally has similar consistency to water, this was a bit like soup. And that’s not even what came out with the radiator flush. So; a flush with plain water, and then a load of radiator flush went in. I also noticed that somewhat disconcertingly one of the bolts that hold the alternator on had wandered off somewhere. So I fished around in my toolbox and found something just-about-long-enough, and threw that in, tightening the thing back up. That was actually somewhat alarming, but never mind.

Anyhow, while the car idled (to get it warm and allow the stuff to work) I tackled the non-functional indicator; the nearside one slowed down a while ago, and then stopped flashing completely. Having opened the cover, I thought the cause of this was instantly apparent…

indicator lens

I was completely wrong though; the inch of water sat in the indicator wasn’t actually the cause of the problem; the bulb had just gone. And the connectors were covered in shite, too, which I imagine can’t help. The offside one was just the same. I’m thinking of switching to LED bulbs now, actually, and having located the indicator relay am quite tempted. Especially after seeing the price of the normal bulbs in Halfrauds

Anyhow, having at least located the fault I headed back to working on the cooling system, and in a fit of insanity whipped the radiator out. The radiator, rather distressingly seems to have been attacked by Radiator Moths, which probably also goes a long way to explaining the barely adequate cooling the car’s had since I got it.

I need to make a decision on Brick’s future soon, because I suspect that if I want to keep him then I’m going to need to sort that radiator out. I straightened out some of the bent over fins, but really they’re disintegrating rather easily now…


Finally I put together the 8-track hack. I’ve got a little bored of travelling and listening to my MP3 player; it means I can’t have music on and chat to Kathryn, I have to have uncomfortable little earbuds in all the time, and I can’t here the noises the car makes to maintain my paranoia appropriately.

So, yesterday I started stripping down the 8 track; gone is the motor, gone is the tape head and most of the selector mechanism. Today I guestimated where I think the line-level part of the circuit starts (I think. I’ve connected it the other side of the preamp, I think) and connected that to a pair of phono connectors (because the in-car-entertainment project had to cost nothing at all, ideally).

Having butchered a broken 8-track tape to mount the phono connectors on (the least tidy external bit of the job), I put it all back together and threw it into the car. It looks very 70’s in there, and apart from the slightly distressingly not as good as I’d like job I’ve done of the phono connectors (really I wanted to do something much more complex, but I’ll save that for when I’ve got a bit of money), it’s all in and done. Unfortunately I blew the aux fuse on the car while I was fitting it, due to a moment of sheer unadulterated stupidity (having found the ‘auxillary’ line on the connector block, connected it up, and then gone to check the voltage at the other end, I neglected to turn the ignition back off before attempting to connect the tape player.

Even more unfortunately, it’s a 35A short glass fuse, of a type which Halfords apparently Does Not Sell. They do up to 7.5A in that size, so I grabbed some of them, as far as I know it’s the only item on the Aux circuit, so hopefully it’ll be okay. I need to pick up a new spare anyhow, because it turns out the 35A spare fuse is blown too… 

Anyway, it being dark and cold outside I’ll test it all tomorrow… on the trip to Oxford :)

[All the photos from today are in the Viva Set]

le sigh

So, yesterday was a good day (apart from the transient death of a laptop. It seems the power connector’s gone now (in addition to the cable and the case, the screen’s occasionally flickering too. I think it might be time to take it apart); tiring but everything went remarkably well. Despite the 6 miles travelled in the last year, Rebecca aquitted herself beautifully; carrying me the 120 miles (with the brief stop at my mum’s to collect new wings) without any untoward experiences (apart from a petrol leak, which I was faintly aware of, but only actually checked up on once I’d got up there).

It was a gorgeous day, and oddly, for someone who’s lived in the UK all their lives, the sunny-but-cold air reminded me very strongly of Canada. I guess, doing Rebecca is largely a step towards Canadification, and having thought about it getting Canada out of my head was hard. Poor old Rebecca though, her engine sounded so sick by the time we got there – running essentially on 3 cylinders except at higher revs…

Anyhow, Jonathon of JLH is very friendly – and we chatted for a while and looked around at the Zetec engine’d minors, and the minors undergoing major structural rehabilitation, and chatted of rebuilds topping £50,000… And I looked at my poor tired Rebecca, her subsistence motoring existence having taken it’s toll; rusty wings, rusty doors, knackered engine and such, she won’t be getting one tenth of that; but she her reliability is something which has left me with no small measure of respect for the engineering behind her.

Anyhow, at the end of the day we headed to Leamington Spa; unfortunately getting stuck behind a learner driver – my train ticket was for 1800, and as he suggested 2 sets of (red) traffic lights from the station, I sprinted from the car and made it to the station at 1803, fortunately, my train was delayed and came in at 1806, just as I scrabbled up the stairs to the platform. I probably had about a minute to spare – and y’know what, I felt sick as a dog as I sat on that train. I sat there reading Scott Pilgrim (vol 1, I needed to start again at the beginning); and drifted off to Canada in my head again.

I was back, sitting on the GO heading back to Mississauga, new copies of Scott Pilgrim in hand, from a day in Toronto. As the train pulled into Oxford (where I changed) I was thoroughly in that headspace. Finally got back to home just after 8, stopping at the Kebab van for dinner…

Today, theoretically hasn’t gone badly. I’ve paid the council tax bill (after some argument with the home hub and the hub phone). Internet Exploiter didn’t want to start today, and Firefox is still doing it’s “i think I’ll stop and rest for a bit” at random moments. The laptop is however working after some wiggling of cables and connectors, so I guess reparing that is something I can look forward to. I may well switch it for a standard power connector, since then I can ditch my mini-adaptor. I just really don’t want *more* jobs to do. The fan heater in the lounge also needs stripping down and repairing, and this time I’m peeved with I&A car services.

They’re great, in-so-far as being a garage I actually trust. But they’re slow. Or at least, when I booked my car in before they had it for several days and didn’t do anything, none of the service was done. This time, they collected the car (although it was no longer booked in), have had it for 3 days, and now want it for another 3. 6 days is a hell of a long time to have a car.

Colour me unimpressed.

Come the spring it’ll be back to car servicing I fear. It’s cheaper and it’s quicker. I’m down a car for a few hours, rather than days. Le *sigh*.

I guess I should get on with the house, but I’m just somehow feeling really fed up. Poot.

Variously titled, but fundamentally the big, late update

Welcome to the combined Kate’s Life 2007 update package. This package will update your Kate’s Life Information on the following issues:

– Thanksgiving
– XKCD is in my head again
- Stuff of a housey nature
– Random photographics
– Other sundry informatorial updates may be included.
Click here to install this update

So, yes, I’m behind again, aren’t I? So, we’ll do things in kinda an order. First up, XKCD is in my head; I’m now at a state where I have no properly working computers. The laptop’s power cable is fubar, so I need to find the spare supply for it (which is probably in the attic, fortunately, and not in the ‘spare room’ which is currently full. The G5 still needs a new power supply; I’m hoping to sort that out this week, if at some point before friday I have a working car. The PC downstairs still falls off the wifi, it is to be fair working in all other respects. And the hackintosh remains without network. There was no small degree of frustration after spending hours on it, I realise now that I need a USB WiFi dongle *anyway* (my brain kept saying, no you don’t; you won’t need one when you get the G5 working because you’ll just stick the homehub up there as a wired / wireless router – but it’d just be easier if everything can be wirelessed). So, yes. We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, so, Thanksgiving. We celebrated thanksgiving with friends (thank you for coming Jordax!), producing a not-quite traditional (but real) chicken (there were only 3 of us though, and we still had *loads of food*), stuffed with home made stuffing consisting of (veggie) sausage, raisins, celery, onion, and herbs; sweet potato and pecan casserole (that was delicious, if mostly sugar :) ), US style biscuits (very yummy), green beans, carrots, brussel sprouts, mashed potato and cranberry sauce, all washed down with some rather nice red wine. This was followed by an excellent Lemon Icebox Pie made with real proper Graham Crackers imported from the States… (and this is the best description I can imagine of a Graham Cracker: “…if a Digestive were ever to get a Ryvita into trouble, possibly at a wild party behind the cheese board, then the resulting progeny may well end growing up to look a lot like Graham Crackers“). Anyhow, proper thanksgiving tradition being followed we attempted to watch clips of the Macy’s day parade, but they were a bit short and required more attention than we wanted to give them (next year, can someone please post the whole damn thing to YouTube or GoogleVideo? That’d help. Ta), so we switched and watched the Peanuts / Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special (1973) :)

And then we settled down to play Squabble for a bit (Kathryn won :) ), chatted, drank and whiled the hours away before heading to bed. Sunday was spend doing absolutely nothing useful whatsoever (apart from some laundry and all the washing up in the entire universe).

Anyway, I know it’s rather bleached from the flashgun, but here’s the thanksgiving dinner…

And here’s a bit of old news; I drew a person…


So, stuff of a housey nature (Which I should, really, be doing now) – the bathroom has water. Water! The taps work and everything. Well, the cold ones. Jobs left for us to do are (in order, ish):

– Cut and prime wood for behind toilet cistern.
– The rest of the grouting, most importantly finishing the shower and polishing the area behind the radiator.
– Painting the woodwork behind the radiator.
– Continue to strip radiator.
– Seal sink drainer (because it’s leaking….le sigh).

Day 2
– Paint wood for behind toilet cistern.
– Silicone sealing around the shower.
– Continue to strip radiator.
– Sand radiator and paint… hopefully.
– Silicone seal around toilet

Day 3
– Switch over to chrome flush lever / chain / etc.
– Mount toilet cistern, connect up, pray it flushes okay.
– Connect radiator.

Other non-urgent jobs are to finish the rest of the grouting elsewhere, put a second coat of paint on some areas that missed out on the walls then mount shelves on those walls, and to – once the plumbing’s all connected up (hot water, specifically), fill in the last segment of tiles (over the currently removable panel work) and to grout everywhere that’s left.

It’s close, but this made me ridiculously happy:

And finally, for various reasons I’ve been trying to get some artsy shots of the Viva (well, one specific reason) – so, here’s one or two:

Uh, so there you go, closing with pictures. I’m going to end the update there, hopefully that’ll sort people’s complaints about lack of pictures ;)

There are advantages…

Being able to do work on your own car, because it’s a classic and thus nice and simple does come with certain advantages. While I struggle unevenly against the reliabilty of modern ‘equivalent’ parts, when I can obtain them (which isn’t always) at a pinch I can fit them myself. So the dead alternator whilst annoying (very) is at least not as much of an issue as it might be; for whilst the last couple of days have been a little fraught – not enough sleep and somewhat stressy driving to work (because I was running there and back on one charge of the battery) having got the replacement alternator it’s been fitted in an hour.

I’m quite pleased – one hour to strip off the old alternator, walk to Halfords (wait five minutes for a manager who could do refunds and exchanges), exchange it, walk back and put the new one on. I did this all in weather cold enough to give me an ice-cream headache as I was walking back as fast as I could. I also got a stitch from walking as quickly as I could, which was entertaining.

I’ve just stuck the battery back in, but I’ve not tested it, so let’s all cross our fingers shall we – ‘cos I’d like to sleep in tomorrow. While last night wasn’t horribly busy; it was gently constant until 5am meaning that I (we) didn’t *really* get a break until then. So….

Lack of being in the mood

So, todays been one of those days when I’ve just not really felt in the mood. I gave in and replaced the electric radiator in the lounge; the panel one I’d borrowed from my brother in law. It’s been leaking oil gradually and I got fed up of that – and suspected that it’s efficiency was somewhat lowered by the leaking oil. Unfortunately while I was exploring the oil filled radiators (why exactly is it that the come the winter all of the stores heater ranges disappear) Brick decided to leak coolant all over the car park. Having checked it looks like one of the clips was loose, but the pipe it’s connecting looks pretty past it; so I may add that in to my incredibly huge set of jobs for the garage…

So far we’ve got:

– Replace Servo

– Service and tighten head bolts (if necessary)

– Change rear brake shoes

– Fix passenger side window winder and door locks (rear one doesn’t work, front one only locks with the key, window winder ceased to descend).

– Try and see why the heater does absolutely nothing whatsoever.

I need to order the bits for the service; but it’s being one of those months where I started off doing quite well, and I’m ending the month wondering where in hell the money’s going. Mostly on the house or the car, or petrol, to be brutally honest.

Unfortunately the Viva parts place is closed today, so I can’t book the car in because I don’t know when the bits will arrive. And for some reason I’m bloody cold again. See, I’m really just not in the mood. I feel tired and cranky; and generally slightly out of sorts with the world. I’m not even sure why; I had a really *really* good evening last night – I suspect it’s just the prospect of 6 days where I’ll barely get to see Kathryn, and 6 night shifts in the cold.


late night ponderance

See, nights. I always try and swing my body round to night shifts by staying up insanely late the night before; thus allowing me to sleep late into the day before my night shift. That’s the *idea* anyhow. Which means staying up late at night, which means pondering and thoughts and kind of wondering about things.

So, I’ve got various things lurking in my brain; the Viva project (which I’ll unveil at some point when Zesthost have sorted out the problems with billing which may be internet explorers, my, or their fault (I don’t know how it happened….)) lurks in my mind distracting me during the day; the house – obviously – continues to be cold and I keep thinking about the bills (including the TV licence :-/ ), and trying to work out whether it’s better to fork out 80 quid on a tool that we need, or leave it and rent it (at 40+ quid a day); and funnily enough I’ve got a strong desire to make a Super 8 film again.

A couple of days ago I finally showed my cine films to Kathryn and it’s left me with a strong urge to get the camera out again. I’ve been missing the video camera – having played with John’s camera my little Aiptek which shoots at less than half tv resolution it just feels – well – exactly what it is, a cheap point and shoot which does video. But cine film has a certain quality to it; not so much a timelessness as a feeling of being fixed in time. Having hunted e-bay I can see a variety of options; well, two really. The Ektachrome colour film (I need to check any of my cameras will take this), or a black and white film.

Either way, I have a distinct urge to get the camera out; only I’m not quite sure what to film. Anyone got a script that can be shot in 5 minutes (or so)?

Anyway, the plan for tonight, such as it is – having watched Long Way Down (which I was seriously beginning to struggle with watching until about 2/3rds of the way into this episode when suddenly it became much more about the journey and the people than just an endless struggle to get the miles in), is to go and sort out the Mac. The only problem with that is that it’s in a room that’s cold. Cold and upstairs. So, thought for the moment is that when I’ve done this I’ll make myself a little cup of tea, grab my nipod, my copy of Accident and Emergency Nursing and head upstairs – taking with me a fan heater (well, I’ll use the bathroom / workshop heater). It’s a shame, ‘cos the gas fire’s just made the lounge nicely habitable. But hey.

I need to get the Mac up and running really, because I’m fed up of using IE on the laptop – but I daren’t reinstall the laptop until I’ve got one other machine working. I’m slightly concerned about the Mac also because when I switch to the BeBox, as I intend to, I’ll have to pick up a wireless card for the Mac… and so far the ‘it works perfectly’ squad of Hackintosh people have produced for me a machine which has never worked the way they said. I’ve still no sound… and the latest Hackintosh software’s only succeeded in giving me more problems (that had no sound or networking). I don’t have the skills / interest / time /energy to care enough or to fix it; so it’s back on an earlier revision which just left me with no sound. Something I can deal with thanks to the nipod, and the existence of the laptop. But it’s not something I have any urge to live with permanently. Thankfully, my life behind the technology curve just got much better, with the addition of a G5 Mac. Only teeny little problem – it’s a dead G5 mac. So if anyone’s got a spare G5 power supply kicking round it’d sure come in handy right about… now.

Anyway, I should get on :)