Update on the Washing Machine
The nice man from the washing machine repair firm found he had time enough after finishing his last job of Tuesday to come out and deal with our washing machine yesterday evening, about 4-ish. Which means we now have a working washing machine again. No idea why it wasn't working, but apparently unplugging all the leads inside the machine and plugging them all back in again seemed to do the trick, so I suspect what happened is it essentially shook something out of contact. For a nearly twenty year old machine (we got it when we were in Canbrrra, so it's heading on for "old enough to vote") it's doing quite well.
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What Went Right - Admin Post
I'm not doing a "what went right" post today. Instead, I'm going to be talking about the future of the series.
I'm sure you have noticed the times the posts are going up have been varying wildly over the last few weeks. Essentially, what's happening is I'm discovering that being at university is taking a toll on my spoon level I hadn't expected - I'm winding up physically and mentally exhausted by study to a greater degree than I expected, and something has to give. The thing which is "giving" at present is my sleep cycle - I'm finding instead of being able to get away with about 6 - 7 hours, I'm needing the full 8, sometimes 9 hours per night. Given I put these posts up in the morning not long after I get up, they're getting pushed further and further back as my need for rest increases. There are other side effects of this physical and mental exhaustion as well - suffice it to say, I'm going to have to stop posting "What Went Right" because I need the spoons it occupies for other things.
I'm currently thinking of finishing up this series on 17 April. It will have been a four month run (from 18 December 2016) and that's a pretty solid duration for one of my projects. I'm disappointed at not being able to keep it going for longer, but unfortunately, between the demands of university and the constraints of mental illness, I'm finding the whole thing to be creating more stress for me than it's resolving. Again, something has to give, and this is the thing I can shed from my load with the least adverse consequences to myself.
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Administrivia/Meta: What Went Right
I've been asked how long I'm planning to keep up the "What Went Right" series of posts. My answer to this is "as long as is humanly possible".
I started this series in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, as a variation on a personal anti-depression tactic. The tactic, which I'll include here so other people can use it if they wish, was to write down, every day, three things which had "gone right" (in the sense of "not going wrong") in a notebook. Didn't matter how big, didn't matter how small. At least three things, every day.
In the wake of the Trump election, I noticed a lot of people were despairing and upset, and there was a lot of negative focus - people were looking at how terrible things were now (not that much had actually changed at that point) and getting anxious about how terrible things were going to be in the future. I was being affected by this myself - and as someone with depression, I knew I couldn't really afford to let myself be dragged down by it.
So I decided (following a bit of inspiration from a friend, and a link to an article about things which had gone right in 2016), to revive my old "three things" habit - with a twist.
I've found this has helped me in a lot of ways - I'm reading the news more than I used to, and I'm getting more informed. I'm also learning there's a lot more positive news out there than you'd think - it's just that we, as readers, need to build the habit of looking for it. So my plan here is to keep posting these posts, keep up the series of "what went right" articles every day, and keep boosting the signal on the positive stuff in this world.
It is not all doom and gloom, no matter how much you may feel it is, and no matter how much other people want to convince you this is the case. There are small things going right every day - you just have to look for them.
Now, on to the administrivia side of things: at present, I try to get the "What Went Right" post up as early as possible each morning (I wake up at 6am most days, I do about 10 minutes journal writing - I'm building up on this - and the "what went right" post is the next thing I start working on each day). However, come February, I'm going to be starting university study again (part-time), and also I may be required to perform Work for the Dole again. This means I may wind up posting later in the day on some days. If I have to change my posting time, I'll try and let you all know ahead of time.
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State of the Meg Update
A few things have been happening lately.
To start with, Steve and I have moved house. We are now living in East Victoria Park, rather than Yangebup, having done most of the actual "heavy lifting" part of the move over the past week or so - officially, we've been moved in for a week (picked up the keys and signed the lease on the 22nd of this month), practically, we'll be here for a week come Monday (movers did the furniture shifting and such on the Monday morning).
The house we've moved into is an older place - I suspect it was built around the 1950s or 1960s as a worker's cottage, and it doesn't look as though it's been substantially renovated or upgraded since about the 1970s, when someone upgraded the kitchen and bathroom (to add an internal toilet, a bath/shower combination, and put in new benchtops/door fronts in the kitchen). Since then, the place has, I gather, been pretty constantly rented out, generally to students. The suspicion from the real estate agent is that the owners are waiting for the market to improve sufficiently, and then they're going to sell the place to a developer, who will put a bulldozer through the house and build at least three units, probably more, on the block.
(My guess is they have to wait for someone in their family to die off before they can sell, since quite frankly if that were going to be the case, they would have taken advantage of the last boom cycle in the local real-estate market).
The rent is $35 per week lower than the (subsidised) rent we were paying on the last place, and it looks it. External laundry space, an outside toilet, crumbling brickwork on the back steps down to the laundry, crumbling brickwork on the back steps down to the clothes line, and the entire place is pretty much over-run by oxalis (soursob). I have an interesting few months of garden work in front of me (starting with killing off the existing weed cover using the poor man's glyphosate - boiling water).
To add to the fun of the move, I wound up coming down with 'flu at the beginning of the final week in the Yangebup place (just what you need when you're moving house, right?). So I'm recovering from that while I continue with the whole business of unpacking and putting things away.
Steve is starting study at Curtin University (which is the reason we've moved - so he's closer to uni, and doesn't have to travel such a long distance for classes and such). I'm currently contemplating doing the same (he's studying full-time, I'm considering part-time), although for me the planned starting date would be first semester next year at the absolute earliest. As far as I'm concerned, there is absolutely no point in me contemplating study as a way of improving my employability (as a mentally ill, middle-aged woman who isn't particularly pretty, I have all the employability of a me-sized piece of granite as far as the average Australian employer is concerned), so if I do study, I'm going to do a course which is something I'm actually interested in.
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Finding Me Elsewhere
I've just started up a Steam account (had to get one in order to be able to download and play Final Fantasy VIII on PC, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered). I'm Megpie71 over there.
I'm also Megpie71 on Tumblr, Megpie71 on Twitter (although I only use it about once in a blue moon), and Megpie71 on either Livejournal or Insanejournal. I'm registered on Disqus as Megpie71 too.
Actually, if it comes right down to it, if you see a Megpie71 anywhere around, it's probably me. If you're not sure, ask.
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Crash Boom Fizzle
There was a thunderstorm yesterday morning. Which I don't mind - I'm not one of those people who gets freaked by thunderstorms (the ones which are more likely to worry me at the moment are hailstorms accompanied by heavy wind - our place has no eaves, so the windows are vulnerable). I lit some incense for the thunder gods, and got on with the day.
Unfortunately, however, the router for our home interwebs decided to die, which may or may not have been connected to the thunderstorm (we're dealing with a lot of second-hand tech here - it may have decided to die for Reasons of its own). However the nyetwork card for our gateway box died at the same time, so it's more than likely to have been a consequence of the thunder gods having their fun and games.
At present, I am on the internet via a rather ancient router (found in Steve's Collection Of Assorted Tech Bits And Pieces He's Never Thrown Out Because We Might Need Them Some Day) and my errand for the day is to find a computer shop and see whether I can get hold of a PCI network card (preferably the oldest and cheapest of their stock, since that means it has more of a chance of fitting into our rather ancient gateway box).
So there's another thing to add to my long-term goals and plans... get enough money together that we can afford to replace all the various discards and spares we're calling our network infrastructure.
Updated later: Apparently PCI network cards are a thing of the past. I managed to get one by heading all the way out to Cannington (from Yangebup) after calling around all over the place to try and find a supplier. Eventually I wound up giving up, phoning the local Dick Smith and asking if they had the part, and when they said "nope", asking if they knew anyone who did. So they referred me to one firm, who referred me on to another group, who referred me on to a third, who wound up having the part. Austin Computers, in Cannington, if anyone's interested.
Doesn't help that putting "computer parts" into the Yellow Pages brings up a thousand and one entries for "Geeks 2 U". Geeks 2 U are a mobile computer service franchise, and the bane of my job-seeking life. When I go searching for part-time work in IT on Seek, about once a month their ad trying to recruit more consultants shows up (they aren't looking for staff, they're looking for sub-contractors with an existing IT repair business to glomp under the umbrella of their franchise). So I start off averse to them to begin with - and I wasn't particularly happy to have them showing up as the major listing for the whole damn category.
It annoys me, because if we want computer parts, we want the actual *parts*. Himself is perfectly capable of wielding his own screwdriver, thanks very much. We don't need to pay someone else a ghastly hourly rate just to drive out here and wave a rubber chicken over the carcass of the gateway box while they plug in a new card. But I couldn't find the place that sold the parts, because it was buried under all these listings (suburb by suburb) for people who'll come and install the wretched things.
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How To Make A Nice Cup Of Coffee 
(I'm having one of my periodic fits of "I should try and post something every day to get into the habit again". So this is something I've had sitting around on the hard drive for a while now. Enjoy).
Take a mug. Into it put 2 teaspoons of drinking chocolate powder. Add 1 teaspoon of Moccona Hazelnut flavoured instant coffee, 1 teaspoon of Moccona Classic medium roast instant coffee, and 2 teaspoons of coffee crystals (large crystal form raw sugar - you could substitute raw or brown sugar to taste, but white sugar doesn't quite taste right). Add about 2 tablespoons boiling water - enough to basically cover the bottom 1/5 of the mug, in other words. Stir until everything is pretty much dissolved (it won't be, and you'll find this out later, but it'll all look dissolved anyway).
Now top it up with milk. Whole milk, for preference (I figure if I'm going to have myself an indulgence, it's going to be a proper indulgence, thank you very much). If you have one of those fancy coffee makers which can froth the milk, top with hot milk. For the rest of us, use cold milk. This is the point where you'll discover your components haven't properly dissolved. Stir well, until things are pretty well combined, anyway.
If you've used cold milk, you now turn to the miracle of modern engineering which is the microwave. Put the mug in there for one minute at standard temperature. Take it out. Stir some more. Put it back in for another minute. Stir again. By this time, the coffee is hot, smells wonderful, and tastes great when you drink it. If it isn't hot enough, you probably need maybe another thirty seconds or more in the microwave. Stir after each cooking period.
Drink, and enjoy. Limit yourself to one per day, lest the caffiend visit his hallmark of the withdrawal headache on you the following morning (also, it's hard to get people to take you seriously when you're bouncing off the walls).
(The big secret here is making the coffee with milk rather than water. The milk smooths out a lot of the bitterness, and it adds a bit of extra sugar of its own. This is another reason for using whole milk. This is also at least part of why the coffee you get from a coffee shop tastes better than the stuff you make at home - watch the baristas sometime, and you'll see they tend to be making the coffees mostly with milk rather than water).
 In my opinion, anyway.
 Coffee tastes better with the touch of molasses in either raw or brown sugar - it seems to smooth out a bit of the bitterness. White sugar adds sweetness without the smoothing effect of the molasses.
 Although, if you have one of those fancy coffee makers which can froth the milk, you're probably not going to be faffing around with instant coffee in the first place. In which case, mine's a hazelnut mocha with two sugars.
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I Love My Fsckin' ISP...
... and it appears my ISP loves fsckin' me, too.
Our (phone and) internet connection went out on Thursday afternoon (around 12 noon to 1pm). Given our nyetwork at home tends to be somewhat picky about matters of temperature, and also given Thursday was a fairly sultry and humid day, I figured the most likely problem was that one out of the modem or the router had decided to throw up their little hands in horror at the heat, and collapse. It's happened before, and Himself keeps them in a cupboard without much air circulation in the hottest room in the house (his bedroom). So I opened the cupboard, and being unable to reach the silly things (they're up on a shelf) I decided to wait for Himself to get home.
Once he got home, he did a few diagnostics, determined the problem wasn't with the router or the modem, and also determined (by the highly technical expedient of picking up the phone) that we didn't have a dial tone. So, pick up the phone and call up our ISP.
We're using iinet in WA. Just so's people know.
( Saga below the fold ) we now have temporary internets.
And himself is no longer twitching and shaking... as much. The connection is via Orac, so he has to figure out a way of getting Orac and his PC to talk to one another (and share the internet connection nicely). But that's minor stuff.
I have no fewer than four copies of the iinet technical support customer satisfaction survey in my inbox (I'm tempted to forward them on to Himself so he can have the joy of replying to them).
Oh, and I've worked out an update for that lovely quote by Susan Ertz: "Millions long for immortality who don't know how to cope with an internet outage."
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Falling off the Internet (again)
Just a quick update: I'm moving house tomorrow, and we may not have internet at the new place for another 2 - 3 weeks after that (why it might take 2 - 3 weeks to update some switches and hubs is beyond me; presumably the network admin at the ISP is a busy bunny and can't spare the Copious Free Time to add new users). So, if you don't hear from me, that's why.
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The State of Things 07 APR 2013
So, just a bit of an update to let everyone who's interested (and anyone who's reading this) know where we're standing at present.
* Our car has just returned from having two CV joints and the muffler replaced (courtesy of Steve's parents, who heard about the problems and offered to pay for the work to be done by the mechanic they've been using for years).
* We have to be out of our current rental accommodation by Monday 15 APR 2013 at the absolute latest. We've asked about getting the lease extended by a week, but apparently the owners have contractors coming in to do things pretty much immediately after that, so we were turned down.
* We had an application in with a real estate agent to rent a 2-bedroom flatlet in Mandurah (Silver Sands area) at $200 per week. We heard back from them regarding whether our application has been successful yesterday - it hadn't.
* On Monday (08 APR 2013), we're heading down with Steve's parents to visit some friends of theirs who have access to some storage space in Yunderup. If it looks okay, we've then got somewhere to store all our excess furniture and goods.
* On Friday (12 APR 2013), we're getting a removalist to move our gear out of our current location in Parmelia. Current destination for us is the caravan at my parents place for a week or so, and then the downstairs rooms of Steve's parents place.
* We'll have to spend at least the week from 12 APR to 22 APR 2013 staying either in my parents' caravan, or in a motel room, because Steve's folks are expecting one of their sons and their grandson to visit for that week from NSW.
* The plan at present is that Steve's folks are planning to do a bit of a tour of various friends and rellies during the winter (sort of doing the grey nomad thing, only in a bit more comfort, from what I can tell) and they'll use us as house-sitters during the meanwhile.
* We're still both on the dole. Steve's looking for work. So am I, officially (although given I can only do about three days a week at most before the stress starts getting to me, unofficially I'm pretty damn certain I really should be looking into the various hoops I'd need to jump through for Disability Support Pension to see whether I'd be able to get it).
* I've wound up withdrawing from study (again!) because while I thought at the beginning of the semester that I'd be able to cope with everything, it turns out that I'm not. I would have had a major essay due about a week from now, and I really wasn't coping with keeping up with things for that, so rather than try and fail (which the uni tends to get a bit icky about) I decided to just withdraw. My withdrawal was after the HECS census date, so I'll still be paying for this attempt at the unit. To be deadly honest, I couldn't give a monkey's. With regard to paying off HECS, it's a case of first I need a job, then I need a job which is going to be paying me more than the HECS repayment threshold for three days a week, and then I'll start worrying about the size of the debt I have to pay off.
* In the meantime, we're in the process of packing things up, handing on the excess to the Salvos or the Sammies, and either selling or Freecycling the stuff which is in good enough nick to get rid of. If anyone in the Perth area has a whole heap of packing boxes they want to get rid of, we're on the lookout for them, since it's pretty clear we're not going to be able to fit our entire household into the boxes we have even after thinning things out. Contact me by email (megpie71 at yahoo dot com dot au) if you're able to offer 'em.
* Either way, from about 12 APR 2013 until we have a fixed abode again, don't expect to be hearing from me - 'net access is going to be patchy at best, I suspect. I have plans to drop in to the nearest Centrelink to wherever we wind up on Monday 15th and use their self-service facilities to make my fortnightly income report (because hey, they've got them handy), as well as bringing them up to date with either our new address, or the best available postal address for us.
 Good Samaritan Industries - a charity group which provides a lot of jobs for the intellectually less abled in the WA region. They do a lot of work reprocessing second hand clothing.
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So, I Got Myself One of Them Tumblr Thingies
At present, it's pretty much earmarked for headcanon, overthinking, and plotbunnies in whichever fandoms take my interest right at that moment.
It's over at megpie71.tumblr.com. Go take a dekko. Ask me a question, leave a comment, talk to me about the weird places my fic brain goes.
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A Request for Information
Oh internet, great font of knowledge, aid me in my search for enlightenment on this subject: I wish to be able to organise and back up my bookmarks in Firefox, and also use them as a map to interesting little corners of the 'net (where "interesting" is defined as "deemed interesting by me, rather than by a social network").
Trigger: Losing 6 - 8 years worth of bookmarks in one hit due to a computer meltdown on Wednesday night. I'm busy re-creating them as I go, but I want to be able to organise them too.
What I'm using at present: At the moment, I'm using the all-in-one sidebar in Firefox, which tends to sit open to my bookmarks (a feature of Internet Explorer's that I liked and adopted). I have some bookmarks sitting loose, but the majority of them are in folders. The folders at present are all loose in the top level of the bookmarks hierarchy, but I know me, and I know eventually they will be nested. Probably anything up to six layers deep in some cases. (Finding individual bookmarks started getting slightly trying at that point, but by then it was too late to do anything about it.)
I'm also starting to use the "tags" feature of Firefox bookmarks, because I think they'll wind up helpful as a searching aid. (I have the tag searching add-on downloaded and waiting on a restart to get going).
What I Want:
* I'd like to be able to limit certain tags to a certain folder, rather than having all the tags in the wider cloud. For example, I have a folder called "Fanfiction" - I'd like to be able to have tags for specific authors, characters, fandoms and so on limited to that particular folder, rather than having to wade through them to tag something which isn't fanfiction related.
* I'd like to be able to back all of this up on a regular basis to my 1TB expansion drive, rather than having it on my computer's hard disk drive (since this is what killed my last lot of bookmarks). At present, my plans for this involve mumbling through Firefox's settings to find out where it stores this data, and manually making a copy once a month or thereabouts (ditto with my email archives - guess what else I lost in the crash), but I'd love to know whether there's something I could use to automate the process.
What I Don't Want:
* Offline backups accessed over the internet. Call me picky, but I really don't trust cloud computing at this stage - there's too many ways for my data to go walkabout.
* Having to keep at least one tab of my browser constantly reserved for bookmarks - I have the sidebar because I like being able to see them all, right there, when I want to go looking.
* Anything which tempts my tendency to fiddle with things to the detriment of actually doing anything useful (such as Pearltrees - seriously, I took one look at the description of that particular plugin, and knew it would eat not only one day but dozens of them).
* Anything which requires me to be constantly signing in somewhere else in order to access my bookmarks.
* Anything which requires a duplication of effort (i.e. I create the bookmark in Firefox, and then I have to create it again somewhere else). I want to click once to create a new bookmark (and ideally speaking, I'd love to have the option to tag things as part of the bookmarking process, rather than having to go back and alter the bookmark's properties to add them).
So, if anyone can help - either by letting me know whether this sort of thing already exists; letting me know I'm asking for the moon and a pony (or in other words, "not happening; can't happen!" stuff); offering possibilities for places to look for information, either as direct links or search terms; or failing all that, commiseration will be appreciated too.
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To: The anonymous nitwit who left the one-line comment on my IJ fic archive
I don't particularly disagree with your sentiment, numbnuts. What I disagree with is your choice of venue for posting same, your choice of anonymity as a vector, and your use of my fic archive page as your personal bulletin board. If you want to be saying that sort of thing to all and sundry, get a fucking blog of your own.
If it was meant as a personal message, you need to check out my back history a bit further. Christian, I ain't.
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A Busy Day
Our next-door neighbours have a dog of very little brain indeed. It's a small animal, and I suspect it doesn't have much by way of memory, since it tends to have a couple of daily rituals. One of these has just finished (furious barking to alert the world the sun appears to have vanished, taken by person or persons unknown), and the other is just beginning (plaintive yelping because it's still outside in this strange new world with no sunshine). I suspect it sleeps through sunrises, since I don't recall being woken by the reverse sorts of barking in the morning (or else it has a different ritual to deal with the apparent reversal of such a terrible trauma). If nothing else, it means I didn't sleep through from my after-bureaucracy nap today.
( Yes, I did say after-bureaucracy nap )
All in all, a fairly satisfying day. I got a new driver's licence out of the whole mess, as well as a number of completed tasks on my calendar. So I'm happy enough.
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I Love Centrelink - Part 2
More on my ongoing argument with the Australian government regarding money. I was due to be paid this week. It was a public holiday on Monday, and there's usually a bit of a quirk or two about the way payments are processed on public holidays (it's still set up for the pre-computerised days, where you actually needed staff in the building to handle the transactions). So when I couldn't see any money in my account on Monday, I didn't curse or swear. I checked my account yesterday - still no money.
Now, this is where things get interesting. Being the logical creature I am, I decided to troop off down to the local Centrelink office to find out what the heck was going on. Well, it was a busy day yesterday - day after a public holiday, plus I think the computers might have gone down for a while fairly early on, since the queues were just about out the door when we got there, and hadn't really dropped much by the time we left about an hour or so later. I found out why they hadn't paid me, though - while my Newstart had been suspended, pending the processing of my Austudy claim, the claim hadn't been processed. They booked me in for a walk-in appointment, warning me it could be up to a 2 hour wait.
It wasn't. I think I might have waited about three-quarters of an hour. So that was one good thing, anyway.
When I finally got to see the CSO (Customer Service Officer) who was dealing with my case, I discovered the reason why my claim hadn't been processed. They'd lost it.
No, really. They had lost my claim.
Now, I'd handed in this claim form in person, at the same office I was talking to about the whole issue, about three weeks previously. I had given it to one of their staff. She'd presumably put it into the internal mail, and sent it off to be processed by whoever the Austudy experts are (and wherever they are). And somewhere in all of that, the whole thing had somehow got lost.
The end result is I have to submit a whole new claim form (complete with proof of ID and enough bits and pieces of evidence to sink a small battleship) and start the whole process again. If I'm lucky, they'll backdate my payment, so I get paid for the time spent waiting for the whole shemozzle to process.
Remind me again why I wanted to go back to university. I keep forgetting.
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Happy New Year
*escorts 2009 out the back door*
"And stay out!"
*flings baggage after the departing year* (No, it wasn't a particularly pleasant one, why do you ask?)
*Welcomes 2010 in the front door, looking disapproving.*
"I hope you're going to be a better houseguest than the last one, that's all I can say."
[Best wishes for 2010 to all the folks who follow my journal either on Dreamwidth or on InsaneJournal.]
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Yup, I got one of these Dreamwidth thingies too....
A big thank you to stopthatgirl7 at IJ, who gave me the invite code.
I don't know whether I'll be using this account regularly, or whether I'm going to be sticking with the IJ account for default posting. We shall see.
Now to go looking for all the folks I know who might be on here and see whether I can find them.
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