Saturday, 30 May 2015

The great wardrobe realignment of 2015

When I was on holiday (ah sweet holiday where did you go?) I started a mammoth task in the front room. Over the past year it's steadily become a giant wardrobe for my ever-burgeoning selection of clothing in multiple sizes due to weight changes.

From being a giant wardrobe it then started to resemble a teenager's bedroom.

I had clothing spread across the sofa. I had clothing in piles on the floor. I even had a few items of clothing in my spare wardrobe, but it was outnumbered there by food and electronic equipment, because what else is a wardrobe for?

I've tried to keep pretending that it's all fine, it's not out of control, but this lie has become harder and harder to tell myself.

Finally, I gave in and confronted the fact that I needed to organise the front room. And since most of the stuff was mine, this was going to be a solo journey.

I created more mess, briefly, as I sorted out all of my belongings into groups. Tops, bottoms, dresses/jumpsuits, undergarments, overgarments.

Once everything was in piles I took a little break, because that was a major effort, and then started on the next part of the experiment, which was seeing how I could store everything in its separate piles inside of the wardrobe.

I got most of the way through this new journey of discovery, when I discovered something rather unhappily against my plans.

The wardrobe I'm referring to is a mobile wardrobe. Or, to give it another name, a cheap piece of crap.

It's basically an assembly of thin metal pipes that slot into (or hammer into if you want to be closer to the truth) little plastic joiny bits that hold it all together in a framework that resembles shelves and hanger space.

At one point there was also a cloth cover which zipped up along the front so I didn't need to see the mess that was forming inside.

Perhaps I should have put the word cloth in "" because cloth doesn't usually disintegrate in sunlight so that you can vacuum it up as powder. Powder with a couple of long zips in it.

The naked bones of the wardrobe looked cooler in a bohemian dream type of way, so I never bothered to try to find something else to take its place.

However, it's possible that the "cloth" served another purpose in that it lent stability to the overall structure. Without it the entire wardrobe started to lean in different directions. After a time the plastic jointy bits started to crack where the pressure was now applied unevenly.

So, getting back to the major cleanup, I started to pile my piles into the shelf space that remained around the shelf space already reserved for electronic bits that may come in handy one day. I was down to my last two piles when there was a loud crack and the wardrobe started to lean to one side.

Well, it had been leaning to that same side for a while now, but it had some serious intent behind the lean now. It was leaning in a pay attention to me type of way.

I paid it attention by stopping what I was doing and announcing that I couldn't complete the clean-up until I had purchased a new wardrobe.

There was no real incentive for me to buy a new wardrobe. I'm trying to save money at the moment, and the room looked a little bit cleaner and easier to navigate as it was. There was no hurry.

Monday night there was a large cracking sound and a thump. My darling jumped off the couch to investigate. I followed more slowly as I had a good idea of what we were going to find.

The purchase of a new wardrobe moved up my to-do list.

So after scanning the pages of Trade Me for hours, I now have a new wardrobe. It's made of a lot of cubes that I assembled this morning, then disassembled when I was halfway through, then assembled once more in a structure that made a bit more sense.

I've tried to pour the entire room into this little collection of cubes, and I'm now most of the way there.

I'm ignoring for the time being the fact that the wires and plastic joiny bits remind me very strongly of the start of another piece of furniture that I once owned.

I'm sure it will all be fine.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Those who can't, teach

It's been a while since I performed the two core duties that the majority of our unit performs.

When I was performing these duties, I kicked arse. Or, if you're a citizen of the United States of America, I kicked ass. Now I only have the memory of kicking arse (ass).

When asked specific questions, about a specific situation, I can usually stall for long enough by typing in numbers on a computer screen to bring up views that I probably don't need in order to internally trawl my memory for the few cells that contain information relevant to the problem at hand.

There is nothing that a few brain cells with a tad of memory can't fake to reliably impress upon someone that the situation they're striking is nothing new, we've been down this track before, and don't worry we can solve it.

Sometimes these things are even coincidentally true.

However, when new young minds are entrusted to my care and long hours are to be filled with the knowledge of how to do their job...

I'm not sure I can show my face again tomorrow.

A brief memory filtered through to my subconscious about three minutes into the training session that there was a reason I'd run full tilt screaming away from training as a career.

It wasn't the humans, although they're a definite drawback.

It wasn't the hours of preparation, because lets face it who can be bothered with preparation when winging it will do.

No, it was the intense sensation of loneliness you can feel when all eyes in the room are on you and you're somehow expected to know stuff.

Hey, I know stuff. I don't need to be cross examined about it every day by some wannabes, okay?

Thank goodness that tomorrow I'm going back to my good old 'Oh yes dear, don't worry, we've all had THAT error message before.'

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Dentist

The last time I visited a dentist he examined my teeth (well, duh) and announced that there wasn't a lot of room for my growing wisdom teeth, and I should probably have those out the next time I visited.

That was twenty three years ago.

In my defence, it turns out that there was almost enough room for my wisdom teeth. Almost.

My perfectly straight bottom teeth now have a slight snaggle to them, but that sort of stuff just adds character. Right?

Lucky for me I grew up in a suburb that embraced fluoridated water, and I haven't had any problems that necessitated a visit before now.

Throughout all the visits of my young years the worst thing that ever happened was that I received one small filling. And when I say small, I mean the dentist didn't even offer me pain relief because it was over before I even knew it was happening.

Usually I wouldn't bring up dentists, because I don't think about them that often. Absence has not made the heart grow fonder. But tonight dentists are on my mind.

My tooth is very sore.

That sounds a bit weak compared to what I'm experiencing.

Very, very sore. Indeed

My tongue keeps going for an exploratory journey to see what's happening in sore toothland, and then snapping back to the front when it finds out that it's still a pain swamp back there.

The edge of my tooth is so rough that I've even started to consider that I may have broken it somehow. Between the soft cheese and the chicken I'm not sure what it found to break itself on, but I'm not thrilled at the direction my mouth is going.

There is a dentist on the corner. I always cross the street just before I have to walk past it because superstition.

Another day or two and I may just have to book myself a visit.

No more than a month or two, anyway.

Monday, 25 May 2015

What holiday?

Last year I experienced the best holiday I've ever had the pleasure to laze my way through.

There was sun and sand. There was good company and good food. There was no work and plenty of play.

If I close my eyes now I can still picture key moments from that holiday. I can feel the sun on my shoulders as I read on a lounger after taking a dip in the pool. I can feel my teeth saying NO and my belly saying YES and them fighting it out over a bowl of ice cream. I can remember walking in the sand in my bare feet, and the feel of my rough skin being worn smoother and smoother each day.

Last week I was on holiday. I can't even remember what we did.

There was a trip to Hanmer Springs and a dip in the hot pools, but aside from that and an excellent Butter Chicken and Naan Bread I can't pinpoint a single moment.

Where do they go?

I scrimp and save my holidays, and when it comes to the glorious days when I spend them wildly, I can't even recall what I paid them out for.

I'd say it was like gambling, if I ever spent money on gambling and could therefore personally relate the two experiences together in a believable way.

I'm not complaining, and I'm certainly not forsaking any future holidays in some gesture of despair, but wouldn't it be good if holidays could be ordered over the internet (I mean metaphorically; I am aware you can book and pay for holidays over the internet) that catered exactly to your needs?

I need as least three days of being so relaxed that I can't tell where the couch ends and I begin. I want a pool so enticing that I won't get out even when my fingers pucker up like a young dog's asshole. I'll pay extra for vanilla ice cream that's melted just enough to let your spoon run through it with no resistance.

Oh, and I'll take eight pounds of weight gain that I'm too happy to care about, thanks.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

One year older

Today is my darling's birthday. He's one year older.

He's also pretty sanguine about the whole thing because he's had a week off to prepare himself. I also took a week off work, purely in support of him.

He's returning the favour when I turn a year older in a month and a bit. He's taking a week off in support of my birthday. It's a bit annoying really, because I'm only taking 3 days off, but who am I to complain? He's so much older than me he needs the extra time off work.

In honour of his birthday month this year (and yes, that's a real thing if you're a white privileged male in the minority world with too much time on your hands) I've got him...

Absolutely nothing.

Honestly, it's what he asked for and the fact that I was only too willing to oblige was purely to do with supporting him, not because I'm a cheapskate who's about to take an unpaid break from work.

These things aren't even close to being related.

At the back of my mind all day long I have harboured a slight worry though. You know those people who say 'Don't throw me a birthday party, I couldn't stand it if you made a fuss,' and then when you don't they get all upset?

Well, he's not of those (I'm still with him) but there was the concern that when he said 'Don't buy me a present,' he actually meant, 'Don't buy me a large present,' and he was going to expect something nice and thoughtful and heartfelt, but cheap.

I am nothing if I am not a person who takes things literally.

There is no present. None. Nada.

I baked some chocolate cupcakes and put far too much butter icing on top of them. I gave him a headrub when he asked for one. I even did the dishes after baking because he likes a clean bench.

This is my present.

Happy birthday, and best wishes for the next year. I'll have half those cupcakes too, thank you very much.

Thursday, 21 May 2015


Tonight I'm celebrating being in the final scene of the final chapter of the first draft of my new novel. Concurrently, I'm also watching the final of Survivor.

I feel these two things go together, though I'm reluctant to tease that simile out any more in case it all falls apart.

What I definitely feel like I need is some Champagne. Isn't that what you're meant to celebrate these small positive life experiences with? Mmmmmmmm Champagne.

Unfortunately, a life of debauchery lived in my teens and twenties has put that option off the table.

I'd substitute it with the next best thing, fizzy grape juice, but there are currently two drawbacks.

One: I don't have any fizzy grape juice in the house, and

Two: Even if I did it has a whole lot of sugar in it and if I'm throwing around sugar calories I'm imbibing them in raspberry licorice or icecream, thank you very much.

I guess I'm stuck with my default position, sugar-free chocolate.

I'm quite amazed that I've managed to make chocolate, one of my all-time favourite food groups, sound like a plate of vegetables. Simply by the virtue of wanting something more.

I'm also quite amazed that I've managed to spend the last twenty minutes typing this out, rather than going ahead and finishing my first draft.

Oh man. There are so many themes of regret, and parallels between writing and food, and overarching story lines playing themselves out in these few paragraphs.

I could make this into a full-blown story about adult regrets and lost opportunities, but then I'd just start writing something else in order to avoid finishing the first draft.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Lost forever

A day ago we returned from our big holiday in Hanmer Springs. The trip was an exhausting hour and a half drive, so in order to make sure we made it home before nightfall my darling insisted that we leave our unit by eight o'clock.

In the morning.

We couldn't even check-out because the office wasn't open. It opens on the dot of eight am, but that would've meant staying in their beautiful large furnished apartment for a good ten minutes longer.

Well. Not having that sort of restriction on our holiday, are we?

So we locked our front door key into the apartment, and hoped that they understood our need to scurry away before daybreak really got broken.

I don't necessarily understand myself, but you don't get to twenty years of unmarried bliss without blindly accepting your partner's foibles.

It's been a number of years since we last paid a visit to Hanmer. We used to go at least once a year, at least it seems that way now, but counting back we both worked out that we haven't been since the earthquakes, which mean about five years or so.

Still, much of the place is the same. Jolly Jack's is empty at the moment, which was a bit of a shock, but it's been through changes of hand in the past without harm.

The fish 'n' chip shop we remember down the side lane has also changed hands and cuisine, but we weren't in the mood for fast food anyway so it didn't bother us none.

Driving back to Christchurch however, there were a few things that made me a bit sad.

The hill next to Balmoral Forest, where your stomach always used to end up lodged somewhere in your lower jaw, has been flattened out to a shadow of its former self.

The bungy jump out over the old bridge doesn't even seem to be in operation anymore. If it is, then the signage around it is sadly lacking.

And worst of all is the travesty that is Frog Rock.

That was always the landmark that used to tell us we were truly on the road to or from Hanmer. The giant old rock worn by years of wind into a sculpted frog squatting on a hill; leaning out over the road as thought it were keeping watch.

I remember when some department or other confirmed it was necessary to blow it to smithereens in order to avoid it deciding to part company with the hill one day, and potentially smashing some poor unfortunates passing on the road beneath.

I'm sure it was in everyone's best interests, I certainly have no wish to be squashed to death in the car by a giant frog, but couldn't something else be done? Maybe just carve out another bend in the road?

So now we pass the old shed proudly proclaiming FROG ROCK and there's not a frog in sight.

The only joy comes from imagining carful after carful of people speeding past, squinting and trying to make out a natural frog sculpture that's no longer there.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Join the Cartel

Today I've had my new book Skeletal approved for launch on Story Cartel. So I launched it.

For the next three weeks it'll be available for free download in formats for Kindle, Kobo, Nook and whatever knock-off brand of e-reader you've managed to get your hands on. Or their tablet app equivalents.

Free download. What could be better than that?

Well, the better bit is that once you've read my wonderful haunting novel that's both tough and delicate, you get to toss your opinion of it about willy-nilly.

In fact if you pop a review on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks (or another digital bookstore that takes your fancy) you will earn entry into a draw for a whole lot of excellent monthly prizes which I can't be bothered to list here but you can find on the Story Cartel website.

Interested? Check out the FAQs here then sign up and download your free copy of my book here.

Or, you could help out a starving artist and purchase a copy. Up to you. Even if you do pay for it you can still feel free to toss around your opinion of it. You may find people will pay it even more attention.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Winter holidays

This morning when my alarm went off I didn't have to worry about getting up. My Saturday alarm is only set for 6.00am anyway (an hour later than normal), and for the sole purpose of waking me up so that my darling can get to the Supermarket before the standard human beings arrive to begin shopping.

This usually entails me spending yet one more day of the week being woken early and getting up before any bone in my body actually thinks it should.

But not today.

My holiday officially started on the dot of three-thirty on Friday afternoon, and I don't need to worry about getting to the supermarket early, because there's plenty of non-standard human being hours that the supermarket is open when you don't have to go to work.

Tomorrow we're even heading away for a couple of nights** so we can relax in the beautiful pools of Hanmer Springs, and maybe think about walking up Conical Hill. And then maybe not walking up Conical Hill.

That's all the plans I have so far. I may do a bit of writing, a bit of blogging, a bit of crossing things out angrily and then typing them back in almost exactly the same.

I may look into a bit of World Domination if I have the time. That sounds like a right bit of fun.

But most of all I'll be shaking all of the work thoughts that cram into my head all day every day while I'm at work out of my head so that I can reset, recharge, and relax.

Who's a good little holiday, eh? Who's a good holiday? You are. Yes you are. You're a good holiday.

**if you're a burglar that was a joke and we have a dog

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Robot love

There's a pinboard in our office that is blatantly discriminating against me. Everyone is allowed to put up their pictures, if they want, except for you-know-who.

I've tried to sneak pictures up when the sirens who patrol the area are otherwise engaged. When they return to circling their board of pins, they immediately spot my offerings and tear them down.

When I return to my desk it's to find my beautiful pictures with rude phrases, derogatory slang, written in caps (CAPS!) across the cutest bits.

You'd think in this day and age there would be a tolerance of people's life choices. But instead we're judged by the paths we've taken, or by the paths thrust upon us.

I mean, really? Do I actually need to own a pet to get my picture up on the friggin' pet wall?

I tried putting up a spontaneous photograph of my beautiful white and back rabbit fur leg warmers.

My picture was returned and I was scornfully told that 'it's not alive.'

I pointed out that the long deceased pet cat that takes pride of place in the middle isn't alive either, and that didn't stop the team leader putting it up there.

Apparently there are "differences" that are "beyond" my level of "understanding."

Honouring the new policy I placed a wonderful picture of a peacock spider on the wall.

Spiders are not pets.

Some people are so narrow minded.

I know for a fact that people have chimpanzees as pets, but suddenly there was a new rule that the pet had to "belong" to you.

As if that means anything at an existential level. I ask you, can one carbon based life form ever truly belong to another?

According to the rigid parameters of pinboard appropriateness, it can.

I pinned up an ugly dog meme, and it was returned even though I made a good argument that anything posted freely on the internet did in fact "belong" to all of us.

Specificity of ownership is now a condition.

I'm starting to get the feeling that they're picking on me. Probably just because they're jealous I don't have to clean up after any house imprisoned animals.

I'd given up. If I don't participate at all then they can't practice their tortuous discrimination. Not on me, anyway.

And then a miracle. A pet I can actually get on board with. One that won't mind being left alone all day while I'm at work. One that won't require expensive kennelling when we want to travel overseas.

A robot pet.

Even better, it's pink! Pink is the best colour for a tiny robot kitty to be!

You wait. 4-12 working days from now I'm going to have my own official pet. And if I get any nonsense about how it isn't "alive" I'll just give a little demonstration of a modified Turing test.

I'm pretty sure a robot can exhibit the intelligence of a kitty-cat.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Treadmill Blues.

I've had a concern ever since booking in my six months of unpaid recreation "other work" leave.

No, I mean on top of the concern that I won't utilise my time well and will have to go back to work with nothing to show for it but a tad less money.

Correct. I've been worried about exercise.

It's hard enough to get myself out of the house when I'm already out of the house at work. I don't know what's going to happen when I don't have that imperative either.

Thus, my first savings method (before I get my real monetized money saving plan going) is a savings on my waist line hopefully, and it came in the form of a treadmill.

There was a 3-5 day window for delivery, and after only 11 days it was actually delivered.

The ad said 'conveniently to your door' but it didn't quite make it that far.

'Anywhere inside the front door,' I instructed, and watched as that was interpreted as 'on the driveway where I have it already.'

By the time I realised that was where it was being left, I'd already signed the slip, and the two big grown men were heading back to their big grown truck.

Leaving me to manoeuvre it inside the house. By myself. A tiny woman.

(not really but my strength equates to a tiny woman, or maybe a big girl, so I'm gonna let that one slide)

It weighed 71kg.

That's the same weight as a fairly standard sized person. Not me, that's why I need a treadmill, but a standard person.

I'd always operated on the assumption that if a person was mysteriously murdered on my doorstep (not necessarily by me, that's what trials are for) I would be able to drag it inside to dispose of it using a blender, grinder, and a hell of a lot more elbow grease than breaking down a chicken requires.

Now I realise I'd have to murder the person discover the body inside in order to be able to break it down for easy disposal later in loosely tied supermarket bags in local parks which are frequented by dogs.

Even in an easily slideable box that treadmill was hard work. The delivery guy who distracted me while his mate dumped my box on the driveway had indicated as he left that it would be easier once the box was off.

He forgot to say easier than what.

Nevertheless, I persevered. And to show for it I now have a treadmill in the front room.

I was so excited to have unboxed it and connected it up correctly, that I even jogged on it for half an hour. The timer needs a bit of work because it insisted that it was only 3 minutes and 40 seconds, but I can just ignore that for the time being.

The best bit is that I can now safely ignore it and not feel guilty, because I'm not starting my new adventure into unpaid employment until September. Woo hoo.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Ahhhhh! It follows.

There was no blog post yesterday because I was too entranced by trying to work out if any of the people in the movie I was watching were walking in a straight line towards the protagonist (or her partners in sexual congress).

I'd heard wonderful things about 'It Follows' and I must say that having been a horror movie fan for many a year, horror movies are not one of the genres that you tend to hear good things about.

You occasionally hear something about special effects, or how a movie had someone in it before they received an acting job, or how good a movie was before they did that remake which was not only terrible in and of itself, but was so awful it managed to knock a few stars off the rating for the original.

I'd also gone to the trouble of downloading the movie trailer, and not being completely put off by it.

I was pumped. I was excited. It was dark. I'd already watched two episodes of the Enfield Haunting in the afternoon so I was well psyched to jump at the slightest thing.

Well, I'm not going to say anything about the plot but when it gets to that bit where that big guy is in the background, then I started to lose my detached observer status.

I started scanning for real then. Prior to that it wasn't really that hard. That person who looks like grandma when the quad should be full of teenagers. The young woman dripping wet, missing one sock, and with eyes that were so deepset you couldn't really be sure they were even there. And who was standing in the main character's kitchen.

There were some which it was never even revealed if they were or if they weren't. Was I right? In the absence of any evidence to the contrary I presume I was, but who can be sure.

And there were a few foils thrown in for good measure. To trick me. I find being tricked more horrifying than horror movies. So good call there.

I'm still looking for those things. It's given me another reason to be suspicious of strange people (and by that I mean people not known personally to me which when you get down to it is basically seven billion minus some).

It follows. Should be called it lingers.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Gotta get down on Friday

Finally it's Friday.

After an extraordinarily long week during which I did an awful lot of things that I didn't plan to do at all, and none of the things I had planned to do, I have finally reached the end.

It's not quite the end. Not for some of my co-workers. Money has overtaken sense and they've decided to do the unthinkable.

Working on a Saturday.

Yeah, sure. You get paid more. A bit of the day at one and a half times normal, and then a bit of the day at two times normal.

It sounds good in theory, but I've had the money in my bank account before and I can attest to the fact that the loss of a Saturday hits me harder than the gain of digits in my bank.

That could be because I don't value money enough, or it could be that being paid these days is simply watching some numbers on a computer screen turn into other numbers.

Where's the fun in that?

Perhaps if, instead of getting paid in computerised digits I was paid in physical pleasure and luxury, I may value it more.

Work on a Saturday and leave the office dressed in mink. Stay late every night this week, and have a deposit a beer guzzling, daily massaged, freshly slaughtered, wagyu steak supply left in the fridge.

Hmmmmmm. Maybe not. Maybe I'll just stay home on Saturday and live my life without the culling of animals. No matter how good I look in them, or how good they feel in me.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


Continuing onwards from my discussion yesterday about purchasing new gadgets (and yes it counts as a discussion if it's one sided, that simply reflects my truth at home) I received a couple of updates this week from projects I've funded on Kickstarter.

I remember back in the day when I first came across Kickstarter and thought that all my dreams had come true. Getting in on the ground floor of projects that looked sweet. Gadgets, not only before anyone else gets them, but cheaper too.

And there were amazing ideas on there, with incredibly quick estimated delivery times.

I kept it casual at first. I purchased some jewellery which looked like leather but was made out of paper. I paid. It was sent. It arrived. I could never work out how it fastened, but it looks cool on my bedside table.

I became a bit more adventurous. I splashed out on a Mo Mug. This is a reusable coffee mug with a variety of moustaches on it, which was issued in honour of Movember for when you can't compete (by virtue of gender discrimination, or a lack of appropriately hair promoting testosterone).

So far, so good.

And then things took a slightly different turn.

There was the Pebble incident. Long delays, but it was so awesome when it came in the end I didn't care. And by the time it wore out, Samsung had got their act together and produced a much better 2nd gen of watches for my selection.

I am still waiting for Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa. Apparently some time during the campaign they decided instead of a short movie they'd go with a full-length feature, and then didn't actually tell anyone. Sure, we can laugh about that May 2013 delivery date now...

Now that we're at May 2015 and still waiting. So funny.

Here is a quick screenshot of the latest projects I've backed:

Homesick: July 2013. This is actually going okay. It's into final testing now. I'm kind of over it, and I'm not sure that the game with horror graphics which looked awe inspiring two years ago will still be relevant, but I still look forward to playing it through. Sometime. In 2015 maybe?

Watch Jewellery: On time.

Yolkr: A few months late.

NKV Watch: Ditto

Barmes Freebase: the most expensive piece of luggage I've ever purchased, if I've purchased it. A year later, still waiting.

Once the trend started, I eventually wised up. Jewellery, yes. Anything else, no.

I even went so far at to not order something on indiegogo because I was learning. I waited until they were about to send out their first orders, and then I pre-ordered it on their website. For my birthday. July 2014. I'm hoping it will be here soon. That would be a nice surprise gift.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


I want one.

I don't know if you've seen or heard or smelt one yet, but you probably want one too.

Ever read a book and thought, 'What this really needs is the scent of the pine forest the character is walking through?'

I know! Right?

I can't remember what a pine forest smells like either.

Or imagine reading Winnie the Pooh and smelling the sweet scent of honey. Like you'd stuck your head right in the jar and couldn't get it back out.

And you get all of this out of your phone!

Well you don't really. But until I read the details further down the page and realised that you have to buy a large device with towers where smells come out I thought you did. And that moment was magical.

As was the moment what I realised that if I didn't want to buy the large smell accessory I could buy a bangle version instead.

No I couldn't.

404 yourself!

I want one, I want one, I want one, I want one, I want one, I want one, I want one.

Why is it that when I can't buy something immediately I crave it more? That doesn't seem very fair at all.

Down the bottom of the page there is a sign-up sheet to assess whether you're a suitable candidate.

A suitable candidate to what, you ask?

To buy their product.

I remember once upon a time if you were nice enough to test products for manufacturers you were given what was commonly referred to as a job, with a hefty side benefit of pay.

Now, thanks mainly to people like me, you get to pay more for a buggier product, and to fill out feedback forms and/or spend hours on your computer detailing whether that new fix got it. Then this one? This one? Oh, that made your gadget stop working altogether? Interesting.

And rather than just be able to do that at your leisure, you have to fill out a form describing why you'd make a better candidate than the next person.

Is it wrong that I still want it?

Sunday, 3 May 2015


'Tis the season for chicken frames and bacon bones. With the first frosts nipping at our heels in the mornings the supermarkets have been fulling up with a whole lot of ingredients that can only be used for making soup.

I've been taking advantage of this trend because it's amazing how much meat you can get off a chicken frame that's been boiled in lightly salted water for a good fifteen minutes. Certainly more than you'd expect from the price tag of six for $1.00

It's also the only time I willingly eat a vegetable that isn't a potato that's spent its short life being cut into small pieces and coated with oil. And maybe tossed in seasoning. Do the herbs on seasoned potato wedges count as vegetables too? I'm sure they must.

My usually vegetarian averse lifestyle gets thrown out the window as I happily chop up leaks, celery, onions and carrots to toss them into a merrily boiling broth.

Once the vegetable to broth to meat ratio reaches the magic formula of thick and chunky, I let it boil away to enhance the flavour, and because you can't overcook meat and vegetables.

Last week I was being austere and only purchased the chicken frames. This week I went all out and added a hearty serving of bacon bones on top.

It's hard to describe exactly how much better the addition of bacon makes everything taste, but since it appears to be pretty universal I don't think I need to try too hard.

Suffice it to say, mmmmmmmmm bacon.

I now have a second weeks supply of soup to accompany or be the focus of my lunch and dinners. If I get especially bored with it, I do have some emergency back up sausages, but they may just be headed for the freezer instead.

When I like a food. I really, really, really, like it.

In a week, or a fortnight, or a month, I may take my soup out of the microwave, look at it bleakly, and exclaim that I'm buying my lunch instead. But until then, soups up!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

True horror

I don't experience terror much in my line of work. Either sitting on the couch writing, or sitting in the office typing. Either way, the only real fear I'd experienced lately was when I lost my USB stick and had to face the prospect of retyping thousands and thousands of words.

And when I found the USB stick again, in a place I'd already checked and rechecked, and discovered that I needn't have bothered retyping all that work.

At least, that was the only real fear until Friday night.

A train came along when the bus indicator said my next bus was only two minutes away. The traffic immediately stopped (dead in its tracks LOL) and my bus stayed two minutes away for six minutes.

When the train finally passed it left jam in its wake. Traffic jam.

Although the bus pulled level, it didn't make any great progress anywhere for another five minutes. So much so, that by the time it pulled into the next stop the bus scheduled ten minutes behind it was pulling in alongside.

The bright side to this was the bus behind pulled in front, and so we didn't collect any new passengers at the next few stops. We may have continued not collecting them, but I stopped concentrating on anything other than the Franz Ferdinand song that I started to play over and over again compulsively because... I don't know. I'm not wired right, maybe?

Anyway it was a fairly smooth bus ride. It turned into the street that my stop's on, but five stops down from where we were. That's my cue to perk up and start paying attention in case I go into a reverie and miss my stop altogether.

Four stops away I turned off my music and prepared for landing. I turned to look behind me, just because you do, and saw that the bus was entirely empty.

A cold chill swept through my body.

I have never, and I mean NEVER, been the only passenger on a bus. In fact the only time I remember seeing only one passenger on a bus was towards the end of Nightmare on Elm Street Two and it didn't end well. Unless you're Freddy whereupon it ended very well indeed.

I looked back one more time in case there were passengers, and they were just so short that I couldn't see them over the seat backs.

Nope. Still empty.

Well this was probably okay. It just meant that everyone who'd been on there when I came on board had just gotten off at various stops along the way, and no one got on because the other bus was travelling so closely ahead.

I'd just sort out which button I was going to press to stop the bus, because I like to plan ahead, and then I may get off a stop early just in case.

There were no buttons.

At some point there had obviously been buttons. The poles they'd been attached to were still there, along with the holes that showed where they'd been mounted.

Where they'd been mounted until someone removed every last one of them. Perhaps whilst disposing of all the other passengers. Or, all the other passenger's bodies.

There was a bell pull along the roof of the carriage beside me. It was hanging loosely, and ended in some weird slinky type spring, but I just went for it and pulled as hard as I could.

I felt a bit silly when the Bus Stopping light came on. Feeling a bit silly sat right alongside being so scared that I felt almost as though it was a dream. Maybe one of those ones where you don't wake up.

So I ended up walking three bus stops further than I needed.

And at every step I counted myself lucky.