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megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
megpie71

April 2017

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megpie71: AC Cloud Strife looking toward camera in Sleeping Forest (WTF)
Sunday, January 3rd, 2016 08:35 am
We were in luck on Thursday, and managed to get hold of a repairman who came out and fixed all the various problems with our machine. Now, said machine is about 15 years old (I know we got it while we were living in Canbrrra, and brought it back with us when we moved back here) so I wasn't surprised that some of the problems turned out to be purely about age and wear.

So, the reason the machine was spraying water all over the floor was the water valve for the drum had a perished diaphragm. One replacement later, and I have a laundry floor which stays dry (although it still needs cleaning). The reason the drum wasn't turning was that the brushes on the motor which turned it had worn down to about 1/3 their original length. Replaced them, and the motor works fine. The other thing he fixed was the dodgy powder dispenser drawer, which had stopped working months ago. Turns out that one was because we'd inadvertently left one of the transit spacers for the machine (which are supposed to stop the drum from moving about too much while it's in transit for moves) in place after the last move, and that had been banging up against the edge of the tray, and snapped off a crucial little plastic dooverlacky that triggered the machine to recognise the powder drawer was shut or some such. So he replaced that with a bit of putty, and after we waited about 24 hours for it to cure properly (or in other words, no washing on Friday, what a pity, oh my) the whole thing appears to be working just fine.

So we're in a position to get another few years of use out of our fifteen year old machine, and we'll use that to save up a bit more money toward the cost of a new one.
megpie71: Slave computer, captioned "My most humble apologies, master" (computer troubles)
Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 01:13 pm
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.
megpie71: a phone, ringing. (anyone home?)
Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 08:47 pm
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.
megpie71: AC Reno crouched over on the pavement, looking pained (bad day at work)
Monday, March 18th, 2013 08:51 am
I got around to clearing through the pile of discarded clothing which has been accumulating for the past six or so years today. Basically, it was a process of going through, and sorting into two possible piles. One was the "Salvos/Sammies" pile - the stuff which was basically in good nick, but had wound up on the discard pile because it either didn't fit, didn't suit, or wasn't quite 100%. For example, one shirt on there used to have a pattern of studs stuck onto the collar area, but most of them have come off in the wash. The garment is still structurally intact, and someone who's willing to replace the beading or whatever could probably salvage it and get a number of years of use out of it. I haven't the skills or the interest, so out it went.

The other pile was the stuff which I'd been reluctant to throw out because even though there were things like gaping holes in the front, the rest of the cloth was still sound, and I might be able to make something useful out of it. Problem is, my interest in crafting in the past few years has petered out to around zero (and it was never that high in the first place) so the likelihood of me actually doing so is minimal. I'm not going to be making a rag rug out of old pairs of jeans, so today I decided "stop kidding yourself" and chucked the whole damn lot of them into the bin. Two laundry-basket loads of stuff which should have been chucked out bit by bit years ago.

(For those who read the last entry, it's the "malign Buddha" pile of clothes I've just tackled. So that's that anxiety dealt with, anyway).

Also on the "chuck out" pile were two freebie backpacks which I'd used to bits (one lasted about a year before the bottom wore through; the second had the top rip off after about the first six to eight weeks).

Incidentally - I found a bag of clothes which must have moved over with us from Canbrrra, and hadn't been unpacked since. So that's been unpacked, and most of the contents are in the washbasket, waiting for next week's washing round. I gain two vests, a couple of nice shirts, and a couple of flannies I hadn't seen in years.

The stuff for the second-hand shops all fits into one green reusable shopping bag. The original pile of stuff occupied a sixty litre plastic box, and couple of piles in other locations as well. I'm sure there's a lesson in that, but I'm not interested in learning it right now.
megpie71: Avon standing in front of Zen's dome, caption "Confirmed" (confirmed)
Friday, June 29th, 2012 06:13 pm
I can see I'm going to need to clear things out a bit more often.

I've just done a bit of a sort through of my various "PC media" storage boxes. What I discovered would probably be invaluable to any electronic archivist, or archaeologist of late 1990s PC miscellanea. The total included:

* Two plastic bags worth of PC magazine discs[1], dating back at least 10 years or so.
* Various install CDs for outdated versions of Linux
* Two Australian phonediscs (phonebook on disc), probably from the late 1990s.
* Various MS software designed for Windows 3.11 (Encarta 95, MS Ancient Lands, and the tragically misnamed MS Works).
* Game CDs for games which came with my first personal PC (bought back in 1995 - these are games which were designed to run on Windows 3.11) as well as games purchased subsequently. Some of them are compilation CDs of multiple games from back in the bad old days of 5.25" floppy disks - thousands of games on the one CD because they were designed to fit into Kb of memory, not Mb.
* Manuals for most of these game CDs.
* Driver CDs for hardware which is now obsolete (or at least no longer in my posession).
* Demos of games which never made it to mass market (or if they did, bombed badly).

As I say, a digital archaeologist, electronic archivist, or computing historian may be able to make some use of these. I'm going to see which of the games I can get to run on the current PC, which ones the antivirus rejects as malware (for some reason, AVG doesn't like certain bits of the Sims 2, and it also pings up Settlers IV as malware as well), which ones aren't worth the disk space (probably most of them) and which ones still interest me after all these years.

The rest... well, the rest I'll probably bin. If there are any archaeologists, archivists, or historians who are interested in this stuff, do let me know.

Footnotes below fold )
megpie71: Text: "My grip on reality's not too good at the best of times." (reality)
Friday, October 14th, 2011 11:33 am
I'm an accumulator. I accumulate things. Every so often, I go through the pile of things I've accumulated and clear out the excess. And every time I do this, I think "I should be more organised".

Today, as part of my standard thirty minutes of household chores, I cleared out the backlogged accumulation of glass jars in one of the kitchen cupboards. I pulled out about a half-dozen largeish glass jars with lids that I know I can find a use for, as well as all the small spice jars and the little dark glass ones that my medication used to come packaged in, and I put those into a plastic storage box. That about filled the box. Then I went through and started taking out all the other jars (and lids) and dropping them into our "items for the recycling" box. Once the "recycling" box was full, I emptied it into the recycling bin. I wound up making two trips to clear the backlog. Now, I have the storage box shoved into one corner of the shelf, and about a half-a-cupboard's worth of vacant space.

My next project is probably going to be the plastic stuff. Like everyone else who has any plastic storage stuff in their cupboards, my plastics store is a mess. So I'm going to have to do the standard sort through, find all the stuff, find all the matching lids, and figure out what I'm going to keep and what can be thrown out. I have a suspicion our recycling bin is going to be a tad on the over-full side next fortnight. My next project after that is likely to be the pantry.

Why am I doing this? Well, part of it is sheer irritation crystalised by the joys of having a rent inspection yesterday. Another part of it is realising that, to be honest, I can't find things in our kitchen. I know me. I know the way I work. If I can't find something when I want it, I get frustrated. If I'm frustrated, I get angry, and getting angry gets me depressed. So somewhere along the line, I have to take a step back and deal with the source of the frustration. At the moment, one of the sources of frustration is clutter.

I know why I have the clutter, too. I have the clutter because I'm coming out of a period of enforced poverty, where my instinctive reaction is to clutch onto everything that comes into the house with both hands, and attempt to save money wherever I can. I hoard things, and I'll buy up bulk and try to "save money" by attempting to reuse and recycle as much as possible. But the problem is, this hoarding is actually counter-intuitive, because I hoard so much stuff that I can't find anything. And if I can't find it, I can't use it. So how much money have I saved, really?

Something I need to keep in mind: if I keep something hanging around, but never use it, no matter what it is, it isn't cheap. It's expensive. It's taking up space, both physical and mental (the mental space is in the justification for why I'm keeping hold of it). If I buy food on special and wind up throwing it out because it passed its best-by date without being eaten, it was a waste of money. If I store something, and wind up buying three more of them because I can't find the original, again, it's a waste of money. Things are only economical if they're actually being used for a purpose. Otherwise, again, they're a waste of time, money, and brainspace.
megpie71: a phone, ringing. (hard at work)
Saturday, June 11th, 2011 10:22 am
Meds: 7/7

Another week of full compliance for the thyroid medication. I suspect at least part of the problem with taking things in conjunction with the psych meds was due to the psych meds themselves. This could prove to be interesting.

Knitting: 5/7 (but I haven't done today's allotment yet)

Current length is 90.5cm, which is about half the length of the dining table. The original plan called for casting off when it reached 2m even, but I think I'll just run it to the point where it reaches the end of the table instead, if only because the weight of the knitting is starting to get ridiculous these days.

Jobsearch: 0/8

It was a short week today (Foundation Day public holiday was on Monday) but come Tuesday I just couldn't be bothered with trying to look for work. I heard back about the job I was interviewed for - I didn't get it. Their reason was that I didn't have access to a car. Given I'm able to see the bus stop I'd've been getting off at from the front door of their office, the job I was applying for was an in-office clerical job, and the nearest post office is also clearly visible from the front door of their office (and about the same walking distance away as the bus stop) I've no idea why having access to a car was such a necessity. My guess is the lack of car is very much about "we don't want to have to mention anything which might sound discriminatory".

Other minor achievements: cooked up a melt-and-mix fruit cake (which turned out quite moist, very full of fruit), although our oven being what it is, the cake wound up scorched on the bottom and around one edge. However, I'll try out the recipe again, and see whether I can lower the temperature to the point where the cake will cook without scorching. I also made up some vegetable soup yesterday in the slow cooker.

The basic recipe consisted of three litres of vegetable liquid stock (from the pantry, one of which was low-salt, all of which were past their "best by" date), two diced onions, two finely diced cloves of garlic, four sticks of celery, four small spuds, three large-ish carrots, 1/4 of a large turnip, 1 parsnip, half a small savoy cabbage, 2 440g tins of tomatoes, a handful of green beans cut into 1.5 - 2cm lengths, a lidful of pearl barley, a lidful of red lentils, and a half-cup of macaroni. The onions, garlic and celery were turned into a bit of a sofrito (basically by chucking them into the slow cooker with the lid on while I chopped up everything else) and then I added the next batch of ingredients (stock, root veges, grains and lentils) once they'd softened up enough to be fragrant. Then simmer for an hour, then add the next batch of veges (cabbage and beans) then simmer for another couple of hours, then add the macaroni, simmer for another hour and serve. Turns out rather like minestrone, thick enough to require a spoon when taken from a mug, and very tasty. It's currently being brought up to boiling point again in the slow cooker, and then I'll just leave it simmering for the rest of the day.

Winter is soup time, as far as I'm concerned.
megpie71: Denzel looking at Tifa with a sort of "Huh?" expression (Tifa you have weird friends)
Thursday, May 26th, 2011 10:36 am
This is my adaptation of the method for the Patak's Oven Bake Biriyani sauce. I love biriyani in general because it's a one-pot meal which doesn't require me to be constantly watching over it, or fussing about it, plus it comes in a hot and spicy variant, and is therefore my kind of curry. I adapted the recipe for the stovetop because it cuts the amount of washing up I have to do by at least two items (casserole dish and lid).

What you'll need:

* A large saucepan, preferably heavy-based, with a tight fitting lid.
* At least two burners free on the stove (particularly if you're using an electric stove).
* 1 jar Pataks Oven Bake Biriyani curry sauce (look in the "Indian foods" section of the supermarket)
* 3/4 - 1 cup basmati rice
* Water as per instructions on the jar
* Meat of your choice sliced thinly.

Optional extras:

* 1 coarsely chopped onion
* Veges to taste or preference, chopped (there are two broad groupings here to consider. The first is the vegetables which can be chopped up and fried up with the onion; the second is green leafy vegetables which don't require long cooking and can be added in later. I've not tried adding root vegetables, mostly because I don't know whether they'd work properly)
* 2 teaspoons sambal olek (I add this because I prefer my curries very hot - even the "hot and spicy" recipe can be a bit mild for me).
* Extra water, if necessary (if you're adding extra rice compared to the recipe, you'll need extra water).
* 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (cilantro, for folks in the US) - this is *very* optional, and can easily be left out. However, I've found it does work well with the flavour of the biriyani sauce.

How to do it:

* In your large saucepan, fry up your onion and fry-able vegetables (if you're using them) along with the meat, until the meat is sealed. This takes about five minutes maximum, at a high heat.
* Add in the rice, the Biriyani sauce, and the water (I use the water to rinse out the inside of the jar of biriyani sauce). If you're adding extra spices, such as sambal olek, add them now.
* Stir to combine.
* Bring to the boil and boil for approximately 1 - 3 minutes, stirring constantly. The aim is to get the process of cooking the rice off to a very strong start.
* Now, put on the lid, reduce the heat to the absolute bare minimum, and leave it alone for at least 20 minutes. You're cooking using the absorption method here - the lid needs to stay on, and the heat needs to be as low as you can get it without turning the stove off. I actually change burners on my (gas) stove, doing the initial cooking up on a fairly large burner, and then moving to the smallest burner of the four at the lowest heat it can manage for the rest of the cooking.
* After 20 minutes, turn the heat off, remove the lid, and stir your biriyani. Try to get the stuff which has stuck to the bottom of the pan off the bottom of the pan, but don't be too worried about it if you can't. Now is the time to add green leafy vegetables, and the coriander, if you're using it.
* Put the lid back on, leave the pan off the heat, and stand for another 10 minutes.
* Stir once more, serve and enjoy.

Notes:

* As far as the meat goes, I've tried this using beef, chicken, seafood salad extender (the sort of red and white mock crab stuff you can buy frozen at supermarkets), and pork rashers. The key is that the meat needs to be able to be fried up quickly, and then able to handle the long cooking time of the rice without falling to bits.
* The oven-bake version is pretty consistent with this, except that once you've boiled everything up, you transfer it all to a casserole (with a tight-fitting lid) and bake it in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes before stirring, adding any leafy green ingredients, and leaving to sit for 10 minutes.
* The curry sauce itself comes in three different variants, depending on what sort of curry you prefer - there's mild and fruity, hot and spicy, and a medium variant. I love the hot and spicy, and I haven't really tried any of the others.
* If you're finding the flavours to be too bland, add a bit of salt with the rice and sauce.
megpie71: Kerr Avon quote: Don't philosophise at me you electronic moron; answer the question (don't philosophise)
Thursday, April 7th, 2011 08:14 am
Washed up the dishes (and cleared the backlog of dirty dishes, yay!)
Collected the junk mail delivery from the driveway, read it, and dumped it all in the recyling box
Thought about making a chocolate mud cake (and decided to put it off for a bit)
Told the local JWs I wasn't interested in a copy of the Watchtower (or whichever publication God is pressing them to sell at present)
Brought in the washing from the clothesline
Added a few more cookbooks worth of data to my ongoing list of "recipes I'd like to try".
Noodled around on the internet a little
Answered a phone call

(really glamorous way to spend the day, huh?)
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra says "Heee!" (Ha ha only serious)
Saturday, March 26th, 2011 06:40 pm
And the kitchen table. And the receipt for the new printer and the expansion drive which didn't work. And a whole heap of paperwork from the past three years.

The thing which triggered all of this was installing a new printer (well, all-in-one device really - it scans and it prints and it photocopies and although it doesn't fax things, it's connected to a computer with an internet connection, so it can perform the equivalent of faxing too) and discovering that the only place I had where the printer would actually fit on my desk was (at that point) covered with an ever-increasing stack of paperwork. So, I got the printer installed (and working very nicely, thank you) and then realised I really had to do something about the piles and piles and piles of stuff which had been occupying the space on my desk where the printer had been. Mostly because it was now occupying the space on the kitchen table where the eating spaces had been, and I really did want to sit down and enjoy a proper dinner at some point in the next couple of days.

So, I decided to get started by clearing a bit of space to put down my little hand-crank shredder (handles 2 pages at a time, and is also capable of chewing through credit cards and CDs) and started shredding all the obvious crap as it all came to hand. End result (before I got bored) was two plastic bags of hamster bedding. Then I pulled out the ring binder/portfolio I'd been using to store all my corro and stuff from a couple of years ago - it was a system which had worked for me right up to the point where I stopped being dilligent about it, at which point the backlog took over and it disappeared under the mess. So, pull out everything for the past couple of years from that, and grab three envelope-style folders from the storage cupboard - one for 2009, one for 2010, and one for 2011. The 2009 and 2010 stuff just got dumped into the folders, and the folders go into the filing cabinet for further action later. The 2011 stuff got put into the appropriate categories in the portfolio binder (and I wrote up a new index for this binder, so I can find what I'm looking for).

Meanwhile, I looked at a couple of file trays I had on top of the filing cabinet, and decided they could be re-used in a more constructive manner. One now has a pile of stuff in it which needs to be shredded - and a label saying "to shred". The other is currently empty, but there's a (smaller) pile of stuff to sort on top of the filing cabinet, and I figure I may as well use the capabilities of my nice new scanner to scan those things which I want to keep, but which I can't figure out a decent "away" for. So it has a label saying "to scan". My eventual aim is to get to and scan all the hundreds of recipe leaflets I've collected over the years, so I'll have a permanent record of them, and then I don't have to bloody well keep the silly things! Yay! More storage space!