Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Yep. This is the last night in which I sleep quietly, in an otherwise empty house. (Ignoring two pet cats, three pet rats and two fish, of course.) Tomorrow evening, Nat and the spawnage return to the fold, and levels of noise and chaos rise appropriately.
It's been a good break. Sunday night, for example: I invited a number of the older ju-jitsu students to turn up and watch some classic films with me. (Okay - they're classic to me, all right?) See, while the boys would watch anything if they had the chance, Natalie has seen The Princess Bride and Blade Runner often enough that she'd just roll her eyes and groan at me for watching them again. On the other hand, it turned out that the posse of teenagers in the martial class hadn't seen either. (Barring the redoubtable Amy, who had actually seen The Princess Bride, but was completely happy to see it again.)
It was a good evening. I made pizza and popcorn, and we watched The Lost Thing first, in the grand old tradition of cartoons before the main feature. Everybody enjoyed The Princess Bride appropriately (although April used the word 'ridiculous' so often that eventually, I replied to her with the Montoya Response to an overused and potentially incorrect word. And if you don't know the Montoya Response... no. That's just inconceivable!) and the encounter between Inigo and Count Rugen, with all the repeats of the famous "Hello! My name is..." speech went over exactly as it should.
Blade Runner also provoked the right responses. I have to admit: I really like the current crop of young students. There's some wit and insight there. It speaks well of their families, and of a community that can bring up young people like this, even when the economy and the long-established customs are faltering.
And what else? Well, I've also shopped for a replacement computer for the boys. They've got my old one, but it runs on XP, and it's about five years old. It's slow to start, and it's reaching its capacity in terms of functionality. Natalie is particularly cranky with it, because she likes to use it to consult the Internet, rather than disappearing off to her study.
On the other hand, it really does look as though replacing it with a useful faster model will cost at least $600, which is more than we want to pay for mere convenience. (And six hundred will only get a machine with Vista. There is no conceivable way I will permit another Vista-driven machine into this house, so I'd have to load one of my copies of XP onto the thing... and really, that's not much of an upgrade, given that their current machine operates under XP.)
Hmm. I've also bought and planted four apple trees. The species is Malus gorgeous, believe it or not, and it's theoretically a crab-apple. However, there are a few mature trees in Launceston, and Genghis and I raided a couple. They fruit very heavily indeed, and though the apples are small and tart, they're quite tasty. The trees are genuinely gorgeous, and the jam I made from the apples -- flavoured with clove, cinnamon and honey -- was wonderful. Oh, and Genghis ate an entire bagful of the things. So, yes: I think that putting four of them in the ground around the Giant Killer Playground Fortress is a good plan.
What else? Oh, I've slothed. And it's been good. I watched a couple movies I'd picked up ages ago, and never managed to find time for: Zombieland and Taken. The former was quite entertaining: Woody Harrelson's turn as the redneck master zombie-killer 'Tallahassee' was lovely, and the little knife the writers stuck in with the backstory of the death of his son was unexpected and affecting. Bill Murray's appearance as himself was comedic platinum.
Taken, on the other hand, didn't do nearly so much for me. Liam Neeson did what he could with the material, but it was... not pleasant. Annoyingly patriarchal. Irritatingly xenophobic. Depressingly prone to racial and cultural stereotyping, and underpinned with that godawful American righteousness that Hollywood loves to jam down our throats. Corrupt French police, vicious Albanian drug- and slave- traffickers, decadent, cowardly, salacious Arab sheikhs... and over it all, Neeson's Righteous Fatherly Rage.
Fuck it. That is really not a movie I needed, and I'll be glad to get it out of the house.
The break from cooking has been nice too. Other than Sunday night's pizzaganza, I've subsisted on leftovers and toasted sandwiches. The fridge is now down to a state where I can meaningfully clean it out tomorrow, and restock it. I'm not looking forward to that, I admit. Eyyeuch.
Of course, there's been the inevitable irritation from those mindless pricks at Telstra Bigpond. Those of you who read this regularly know it took me nearly five months to get NextG broadband here, owing to reception problems. You may also be aware that in order to minimise the cost, the account is linked to Natalie's mobile phone number.
Note well: I'm the one who set up the account. Me. Personally. At the Telstra shop in Launceston. I created the account, and with the help of a Telstra functionary, I linked to Natalie's mobile.
So - the first time I tried to contact Bigpond to ask about account details, I was told I had no access. Because, of course, it's Natalie's mobile. And even though I'm listed on the home phone, I'm not on her mobile account. No matter that the existence of the Bigpond account was down to me: because it's linked to Natalie's mobile, I can't ask about details, or do basic maintenance.
Here's a note for you Telstra: no way NATALIE is going to check the basics. She doesn't know how, doesn't have time, and depends on me to handle that shit -- as I told you when I set up the account. You cretins.
Anyway, Natalie finally got around to ringing Bigpond, and adding me to the account. She did it on Tuesday last week. And yesterday, I rang Bigpond to adjust the password to the account, because for some reason it doesn't respond online - so I can't check our data usage.
Guess what? The Indian-accented woman at the Telstra Bigpond call centre informed me that I'm not listed on the Bigpond account. Apparently Natalie needs to ring Billing and tell them to add me...
... gosh. I wonder what she actually did on Tuesday? And more to the point, I wonder what f__king drugs the Telstra employee she talked to was on when they told her that they were adding my name to the account?
I am so f__king tired of Telstra and Bigpond that I would pay twice as much money to any other carrier for an equivalent service.
Shame there aren't any other carriers out here, eh?