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"Last time I was in you asked if my car's timing belt had been replaced yet.  I said no.  I'm thinking of going on a driving holiday in spring.  Should I get the timing belt fixed first?"

"Yes, you should."

"Thanks!"

The occasion?  My car had died.  That is to say, it needed the attention of a mechanically-minded person who was able to administer electricity to the appropriate place.  I had intended to wait until Saturday, when I would not be at work and therefore at liberty to wait for the NRMA to come and get me started so that I could drive my mechanical baby in to get some much needed TLC.  I popped in in advance and was told that this weekend coming was the one weekend of the year that he wasn't coming in.  (I'm not even going to jokingly accuse him of being a selfish so-and-so, I like him too much.  Besides, it's his birthday on Saturday.)  I must have put on a disgruntled expression, though, because the mechanic who talked to me then asked me what suburb I lived in - and offered to drive out there and get the car started for me and bring it in.  (It was only two suburbs away.)

I said "Yes please."

It was done today.  What's more, it turned out to be the battery that was bad.  It had been replaced only 6 months earlier, which means that it was still under warranty.  So the whole episode cost me nothing more than the aggravation of having to go grocery shopping by bus this Saturday just gone!

And the lovely mechanic?  His name's Gordon, and he runs Mechanical Care in Belconnen, Canberra.  And he bloody well deserves a plug from me.
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I've never really cared all that much about Australian politics - when it came down to it, I could never quite bring myself to vote for anybody who had any real chance of getting in.  But now?  That's just changed.

I don't know what's been happening behind closed doors in the Labor Party, and I'm not sure I really care all that much.  All I really know is that the way they've treated Julia Gillard is really bad.  And the public comments from the Labor Party politicians disgust me.  You can see a selection of quotes here.  I've never been so emotional about politics in my life, and the fact that it has manifested itself as intense disgust at the behaviour of one party makes me feel really angry.

I don't like Tony Abbott at all.  But if the election was held tomorrow, I'd vote for him.

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Michael Buble, cocktails, and the internet is a combination that should be banned.  By law.  I'm on my second cocktail (what????  I've just realised that it's time to change my evening prescription.  Which means that I'm on my second cocktail for the evening instead of the first.).  So I'm a little bit tipsy.  And I'm drunk-posting.  Oh, well.  I'm sure it happens to most people.
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I stumbled across a recipe for Yorkshire Parkin whilst leafing idly through the cake section of my Cordon Bleu cookbooks recently, and decided that I really ought to give it a go.  I had to "grind" my own oatmeal flour (for which you can read "put it in my trusty electric coffee grinder" - so far, the only thing I have never asked it to grind up is coffee beans), and buy treacle, which, believe it or not, I've never actually baked wit before, but otherwise, it was all go.

The best thing about this recipe is that it is perfect winter fodder.  It is rich and spicy and sweet and you melt the butter with the sweet ingredients instead of putting it in unmelted (the way you do with shortbread), which means that I can make it in winter without having to heat the kitchen for a week beforehand (yes, I am exaggerating) to soften the butter.

The only irritating thing about making this recipe was the fact that my battery-powered kitchen scales didn't want to tell me how much golden syrup I was putting in.  Still, the batter tastes pretty good, so I reckon the results are going to be pretty nice.  I am definitely looking forward to eating the results.
cyber_moggy: (Default)

Title: A Mammoth of a Venue.

Series: Edge of Reality

Author: Cyber Moggy

Rating: G

Fandoms: Death in Paradise, Red Dward, Primeval, Top Gear

Disclaimer: Alphonse is my own creation. The others are all clones of other people's creations, and do not belong to me.

Author's notes: Edge of Reality first came about when I was writing Top Gear fanfic. Hence the presence of a collection of individuals who are definitely entirely fictional represenations of real people.

 

Read more... )

 

Chew toys

May. 25th, 2013 03:49 pm
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So.  I've watched the first two episodes of Primeval, and one thing is very clear:  Stephen is, quite obviously, the series chew toy.  Poor sod.  It's a wonder he survived as long as he did, if things continue on like this.
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I recently admitted to my old friend kristen_mara that I rather like Ben Miller, whom I have been watching in Death in Paradise, with the little baby angels of shippiness showing up and shooting their little arrows into my heart.  This is both exciting and dangerous, to my way of thinking, because I am now going to go out and buy at least the first two seasons of Primeval, and I know myself well enough to know that it isn't going to matter at all whether or not I can find it at my local second hand DVD shop.  I can always buy it new. 

The really tricky bit is, of course, the action figures.  I will /not/ go online and find Lester and Dave the Future Predator.  I have a small(ish) collection that don't get used as it is.  Books I can (and will) read.  DVDs I can (and will) watch.  Action figures are nothing more than stuff that I promise myself I will play with and then forget I ever said such a thing.  I don't /need/ more of them!
 
I'm just having real problems believing myself at the moment.

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I seem to have two major hobbies in life:  playing with my computers (yes - time to own up.  There's more than one.) and baking.

I'd like to say "I've been talking alot about my computer recently," but it's been more than just recently.  And it's probably time to mention another of my favourite activities:  baking.

I've been getting that magazine series "Baked and Delicious" (and would dearly like to know how much more of it there is going to be, and how much silicone/plastic bakeware they think that my kitchen can contain), and one of my recent issues contained a recipe for what they called Pepper Nut Biscuits which is really just shortbread sweetened with honey instead of sugar, and has added spices.  Including pepper, which was really interesting.  I call them "pfeffernusse," because my family background is German and that is what they seem like to me.  I thought they were delicious.

Having eaten the last of them yesterday, I went looking for a cake recipe that would be interesting, since I haven't made one for ages.  Leafing through my Cordon Bleu cookbooks, I found a carrot cake recipe.  Not having that many carrots, but having plenty of apples floating around that are right on the edge of being too old to eat, I substituted the apples for the carrots and added a few twists of clove.  The results are super-soft and moist.  This is probably only to be expected, since it is a dairy free cake.  (Seriously.  It was intended for carrots, and uses vege oil - I used canola oil - instead of butter.  Plus, the apples/carrots are definately moist enough to not require any extra liquid, so there's no milk, either.)

Does it taste like a traditional cake?  No.  Does that matter?  No.  It's yummy, full stop.

IT Win!

May. 17th, 2013 08:40 pm
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I've just had a win with Linux Mint.  I bought a bu-ray player for my computer and have spent several days (well - evenings) trying to install it, with the usual dubious assistance from the linux communities online.  For the record, they usually have the right answer, but they inevitably leave out certain important information.  They tell you that you have to copy a couple of files into a couple of folders - but don't bother to explain to you exactly where those folders are, or that they are hidden.  Leaving you (or me) wandering around vaguely wondering why nobody will tell you how to get permission to create a folder that doesn't exist, in a location that is completely irrelevant.

This evening, I have finally stumbled across the information I need, and have persuaded a blu-ray disc to play.  I still have issues - the image is very jerky, although the sound is perfect.  But that's okay.  I'll find the answers.  I've got the thing playing.  That's the important bit.
cyber_moggy: (Purrrr)
I might be developing a bit of an obsession with George, my new worm farm.  I flipped through the manual that came with him, and found something about his preferred operating temperature.  George was a bit sluggish when I pulled the lid off this morning and had a bit of a poke, and it seems that Canberra nights are already a little bit cool for the poor chap.  So I've moved him inside.  It was inevitable, really, given what kinds of temperatures Canberra generates when things cool down.  (Okay, so it's not as bad as it gets in the northern hemisphere, but Canberra's climate is still Cool, not Temperate.)

He is sitting on the lino next to the kitchen, where he periodically dribbles out some more wormy goodness for my pot plants and makes me smile again.
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My garden and I have been carrying on an on-and-off relationship for years now, mostly thanks to my own unwillingness to commit.  I come out with comments like "I haven't got time" and so forth, but those are meaningless, really.   The ultimate reality is that I have a garden, and it is a bloody shambles.

Now, I have brought on myself another garden commitment - I have bought myself a worm farm.  Why?  Because I can't keep the rats and mice out of my compost bin, and I refuse to feed perfectly good kitchen scraps to bloody not-at-all-mangy rodents.  For the last week or two, kitchen scraps have been going into the bin.  But that is something that deeply offends my ecological soul.  I couldn't keep doing it. 

So now, I have a worm farm.  They are my new pets.  I will love them and I will feed them and I will call them George.  And so forth.  The worm farm is sitting in what I hope is the section of my back porch that they will like best.  And they will reward me with worm castings and worm juice which will keep my pot plants happy.  And so I have made my commitment and I am a happy woman.
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Usually, when I get home in the evenings, I get changed, do whatever minor job that can be done in a minute or two that needs to be done, pour myself a cocktail, and settle down at the computer to check my email, RSS feeds, and surf the net.  Recently, however, there has been a change in my routine, and it is pissing me off to an increasingly large extent.  You see, I discovered recently that Avery are selling DIY business cards.  They come in a sheet of 8 in a small assortment of flavours (I went with "linen" - the most expensive), and you can download the template, make them look like whatever you want, and print them up as you wish. 

My main problem with this is that, as the user of  a Linux computer (running Linux Mint, before you ask) and a seriously out of date Canon printer (ie it is more than a year old), I am having real problems actually printing any of them up.  My printer keeps crashing in the middle of printing them up.  To the extent that I actually have to uninstall the damned thing to get it to dump its print queue, since it won't do so when I hit all the relevant buttons.  I even tried buying myself a cheap Epson printer, in the vain hope that it will do the job instead.  (For the record it's an XP-100, and the computer thinks it's a dot matrix printer, and I can't even print a test page on the damned thing.)

This evening, I deleted the avery template, and built my own from scratch.  Result?  Same as before.  It crashes half way through the print job.  Am I happy?  Of course not!  I don't even know what I should do next!

Yes, I know I will probably never use the damned business cards.  That's not the point.  I love the idea of being able to say "here's my card" whenever somebody wants my contact details.   I love the idea that they can be made to look incredibly sophisticated.   At least I was able to print up a few of them!
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Being an almost-home-owner (it's complicated), I am responsible for looking after the place.  And that, unfortunately, includes the garden.  These days, I consider it to be something of a drag.  To be honest, though, that wasn't always the case.  To borrow a food metaphor, when we got the place, my eyes were bigger than my stomach.  I wanted a garden.  I wanted it badly.  Now, of course, I am struggling to chew it.  What are the bits I have troubles chewing?  Well, here's the list:

Roses
Trees that are dying and need to be professionally removed
Environmental Weeds that need to be professionally removed
More roses
Garden beds that I haven't got time to weed
Environmental weeds that I can take out
Yet more bloody roses

All of the above need to be removed.  Yes, the roses have to go.  Mostly because I hate roses.  They are ridiculously showy, and the previous owner planted them en masse.  I could be using all that space for other things.  Like a herb garden, which is what I intend to plant in what is currently an overgrown and weedy rose garden.

Actually, I am in the process of sorting out all of the above.  The dying trees and the large environmental weeds will take some time yet, because they will need professional attention, which is expensive.    The rest will only require me to have enough time, energy, and enthusiasm to haul them out.  Roses cannot be removed without poison if you don't cut out the entire root ball (which at the moment is encased in a heavy clay soil that is like concrete thanks to the lack of recent rain) - if you just cut off all the branches and hope for the best, they will sigh with relief and utter a thanks for the haircut by regrowing more thickly and beautifully than ever.  As I learned the hard way some years back.

The best thing I have done for myself when it comes to the garden is that I have finally bought myself a new line trimmer.  That not-so-little gadget is probably the most useful thing going in a garden.  It means that I can clean up around the edges of the garden, and demolish another garden bed, and even clean up the paved courtyard out front.

The biggest problem of all, though, is probably the temperature.  It is uncomfortably warm.  (Well - it is summer.)  It is draining me of all energy and making it very difficult for me to be willing to go out and actually do any of the above.  Still, I'll get there in the end.
cyber_moggy: (kitten flu)
I decided that the crochet projects that came after my sister's long-running Christmas Blanket were going to be for me.  The first one - a freestyle, patternless tunic with short sleeves that look a bit like droopy flowers (because those are ridiculously easy to make - all you need is to make them really generous) - worked rather well.  It wasn't perfect, and I learned quite a bit about what I can and can't get away with in a pullover, but it worked well enough that I wore it to lunch on Christmas Day.

The second one - a cardigan based on a vest worn by Annie Hall - came from a back issue of Crochet Today, and it hasn't been working at all well.  I got the body made and sewn together (minus the edging), and one sleeve done.  So, curious to see how it was all going to work (and if it was going to work - I'd already discovered that they'd got their mathematics rather badly wrong in the body and had made appropriate alterations to make it work better, so I didn't have high hopes for the sleeves), I sewed the sleeve on.  It didn't fit without me stretching the sleeve and compressing the body like mad.  Not a good sign.  But I pulled it on and checked it out in the mirror.  The fit was pretty horrible, and as I was walking back down the corridor the cardigan actually fell off me. 

That was the end of that, as far as I was concerned.  I took the sleeve back off the body of the cardigan, and went to fetch one of my Christmas Presents - a lazy daisy, which is basically something designed to make life easier when turning skeins of yarn into balls of yarn, and was perfect for winding unravelling yarn onto when I didn't have time to turn it back into a ball straight away.  Whilst I was fetching it, it occurred to me to make the cardigan into a vest instead.  I've never put fitted sleeves onto things before, you see, so I don't actually know how to fix the sleeves for that particular pattern.  The pattern was based on a vest originally anyway, and I'm rather curious to see how that edging looks on the vest, and if it makes the fit as better as I think it will.

All I have to do now is to remember that I have plans for the evening that do not involve searching the internet for my first pullover with fitted sleeves, and actually shut this beast I'm using down.
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I got dragged into my senior manager's office (I have a supervisor who is all but my manager, and he reports to a senior manager.  It's complicated in the way that only a small business who can't afford to employ as many managers and support staff as it actually needs can do) today, for a very belated, somewhat hurried, and very off the cuff performance review.  That said, I was not complaining.  He said that I was one of only four of the people who reported to him who was performing above average.  (He also mentioned in passing the existence of a number of underperforming staff members, without naming names, but I know which one exists in /my/ department.)

The bit that made me happiest was the bit where he acknowledged that I was second in command in the Packaging department, and that I'd been doing very well in that role.  Not that I am going to be silly enough to relax after hearing that.  A bit of confidence is a good thing, but one does need to /think/ about the decisions one makes.

Do I expect to get any bonuses out of this?  To be honest, no.  I don't.  My senior manager has promised me that he will do his best to get me and the other above average employees some bonuses out of this, but I know better than to actually expect anything.  After all, we are accountable to a parent company, and we aren't actually making a profit at the moment.
cyber_moggy: (Default)
So.  Overtime today.  Check.

Emergency call to NRMA to get my car going after discovering that there was so little battery power left that even the doors were unlocked.  Check.

Battery replaced by my friendly mechanic who opens on a Saturday morning and is happy to help a damsel in distress for considerably less money than the NRMA would charge for a new car battery.  Check.

New handbag purchased after discovery that the handle of my current one had pulled out of its mooring.  Check.

Breakfast consumed at 10.30am instead of 8am thanks to car shenanigans.  Check.

Oddly enough, I am more irritated about this last one than I was about any of the others.
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Mint is making me play Moria in the terminal.  It refuses to open except in the terminal.

I don't like using the terminal, even though when I was a kid you had to master the terminal before you could use the shell. 

Using the terminal isn't as easy as using a mouse to click on things.

Hmph.

(I'll do it anyway, of course.  Moria was the first game I lost an entire game playing.  I like it too much.)
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I decided that, after reading a review in Linux Format pronouncing that the brand-new Ubuntu 12.10 needs some work done to it, that what I will tolerate in Windows (because 1 - the poor loves don't know any better and 2 - the rotten sods have made themselves largely indispensable as Bill Gates has somehow not become the Antichrist in my mind whilst Steve Jobs has.  Goodness only knows why.) I will no longer tolerate in Linux, I have changed my computer's operating system from Ubuntu to Mint. 

It's probably too early for me to give a proper verdict on how I feel about Mint.  I should specify here that I chose it because a) it knows about Telstra and I don't know enough about the command line etc to be able to connect my prepaid wireless broadband without some nice, helpful wizards to show the way and b) it keeps getting good reviews from Linux Format.

It was a breeze to install, and took waaaay less time than Ubuntu did.  I was actually a little surprised at how little time it took.  (For the record, I don't care too much what the desktop looks like, as long as I can find, do, or install everything I want.  I have never had any problems using any desktop, regardless of whether it was produced by Windows, Apple, Gnome, KDE, XFCE, or Ubuntu.  And I happen to like Unity, thanks.  But I can live without it.)

That said, I opened Banshee (which comes prepackaged with Mint) once, fiddled with it a bit, and then ditched it in favour of Rhythmbox.  I like Rhythmbox.   Okay, so it let me down when I had it in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, but I may have been farting around a bit too much with other media players, so I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt.

And when I tried to do a bulk-copy of my files from my memory stick to the computer, it quickly decided that it couldn't be arsed with all that work and tried to fob me off by making empty files with all the file-names intact, but I've seen computers do that before and definately know better than to delete my backups just because I think they're all good.

Also, I'm not going to install Google Chrome again.  Sure, it was nice not having to remember all those passwords and suchlike, but the sheer volume of updates was ridiculous!  It seemed like I was having to download 40MB worth of internet browser every other week!  That's just stupid.

That's about it, really.  Next time I have some opinions on the subject, I shall be sure to report in.

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