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megpie71: Text: "My grip on reality's not too good at the best of times." (reality)
Friday, January 16th, 2015 09:57 am
Just to bring people up to speed on what's happening in my life and what I've been up to.

The good news:

1) I have a new smartphone! I've been saving up for this for most of the last couple of years, and the Telstra shop had a fortuitous sale. My old mobile phone was a little Nokia handset which had been a bit dodgy from the word go - one of its little quirks was that whenever I used it for phone calls, the "6" key somehow kept being pressed. No, I don't know how. Either way, calls were constantly interrupted by beeping and at the end of the call I'd have a page of 6's to delete. Plus it only had text entry from the keypad, which meant it was slow and fiddly to use, and meant I didn't really get much use out of the non-phone functions.

My new phone is a Samsung Galaxy Trend, and it seems to be a lot closer to what I was actually wanting (which was a replacement for my old Palm m515 which could also make phone calls). Certainly it's far easier to use the calendar, note-taking and contacts features than it was on the Nokia. I don't think I'm likely to be using the web-based features of it all that much, though - while I'm at home, I'll use my computer for web browsing, and while I'm out, I'll either be driving, or if I'm on public transport, I'll be working on crochet.

2) I've started to work seriously on improving my performance as a housekeeper. I'm using a combination of Chorewars (to track what I've done, and how much I've "earned" for it - at a rate of 10c per chore) and Habit RPG (to keep up with the weekly and monthly chores and try to keep me up to a couple of daily targets). I'm trying to do 20 "chores" per day on weekdays, and 15 per day on weekends (which, at 10c per chore, means I'd be earning about $13 per week for the housework. Given that by setting my own pace previously I was averaging about $10 per 8 days, this means I'll be saving up for things off my wishlist a bit faster than I was before).

The not-so-good news:

1) Himself was home earlier in the week with a nasty cold/cough combination which I appear to have caught off him. Woke up this morning with a scratchy sore throat, and I'm feeling a bit flattened and dull. Hopefully it will burn through in the next couple of days. In the meantime, lots of peppermint tea, and maybe some lemon and honey later on. Oh, and lots of feeling very sorry for myself, always an essential part of being unwell.
megpie71: Photo of sign reading "Those who throw objects at the crocodiles will be asked to retrieve them." (Crocodiles)
Thursday, December 26th, 2013 10:20 am
On YouTube:

I knew of two sisters whose name it was Christmas
And one was named Dawn of course, the other one was named Eve
I wonder if they grew up hating the season
Of the good will that lasts till the Feast of St. Stephen

For that is the time to eat, drink and be merry
'Til the beer is all spilled and the whiskey is flowed
And the whole family tree you neglected to bury
Are feeding their faces until they explode

There'll be laughter and tears over Tia Marias
Mixed up with that drink made from girders
And it's all we've got left as they draw their last breath
And it's nice for the kids as you finally get rid of them
In the St. Stephen's Day Murders

Uncle is garglin' a heart-breaking air
While the babe in his arms pulls out all that remains of his hair
And we're not drunk enough yet to dare criticize
The great big kipper tie he's about to baptize

His gin-flavoured whispers and kisses of sherry
His best crimble shirt slung out over the shop
While the lights from the Christmas tree blow up the telly
His face closes in like an old cold pork chop

And the carcass of the beast left over from the feast
May still be found haunting the kitchen
And there's life in it yet we may live to regret
When the ones that we poisoned stop twitchin'

There'll be laughter and tears over Tia Marias
Mixed up with that drink made from girders
And it's all we've got left as they draw their last breath
And it's nice for the kids as you finally get rid of them (rid of them!)
In the St. Stephen's Day Murders

The St Stephen's Day Murders. Elvis Costello & the Chieftains.

One of my favourite festive season songs. Speaks to the joy of spending the day shuttling from one family to t'other. Also dedicated to all the retail workers out there, especially those who don't get the day off, and are already dealing with the Great Refunds Rush.
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra says "Heee!" (Ha ha only serious)
Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 08:09 am
No, I'm talking about the Melbourne Cup. (Gods, there are places in this world which aren't participating in the US electoral cycle, and trust me, a lot of us are Very Happy Indeed about this. I get fed up enough with the Australian one, and that only lasts a maximum of six weeks).

So, we're having the annual Festival of Silly Hats (otherwise known as the Spring Racing Carnival) and the centrepiece of this is the Melbourne Cup. The race itself is run at about 3 - 4pm Melbourne time (Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time, or effectively GMT +11) which means over here in Western Australia (GMT +8), it runs at about 1pm. One of the great traditions of the Cup in every state except Victoria is the Melbourne Cup Lunch. Here in WA, it's just that - it happens at lunchtime, we watch the race, and by the end of the lunch break, it's all over and back to work, folks. Over east, the working day pretty much grinds to a halt around 11am (first lunch breaks) and the rest of the afternoon is spent waiting for the race to be run and not getting any work completed.

In the spirit of the day, however, I offer my tips on how to pick a Melbourne Cup Winner:

1) Make sure you've picked a horse. No Melbourne cup as yet has been won by anything other than a horse.

2) Make sure the horse has four legs. No three legged Cup winners yet, either.

3) Make sure the horse you've picked is actually running in the Cup (that makes things a lot simpler).

4) Ensure there's actually a jockey involved. For some reason they get picky about things like having jockeys on the horses.

5) After that, you're on your own. I tend to just take a number in the office sweep and see how I do.

By the bye - by the time I've posted this, you've missed your chance to contact anyone on the Australian east coast south of Brisbane.

(To our USAlien friends: best of luck, and those of you who haven't voted yet, please do so. If you're annoyed with your compatriot's choice of president and want to emigrate, please remember to arrive by plane rather than by sea. Although, if a bunch of you want to charter a boat to carry you here to Australia, feel free to do so, if only so we can watch the convulsions our immigration people are going to launch themselves into. Pack for sunny Nauru, however, because that's where you'll be spending your first two or three years.)
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (says it all)
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 08:31 pm
I get all carried away and try and synch up the bookmarks I have in Firefox with the bookmarks list I have on AO3. 175 bookmarks later (about 20 of which were extant before I got home this afternoon), and I'm all done.

I have no idea what I'll be doing this time next week.
megpie71: AC Tifa Lockheart looking at camera, very determined (Give me the chocolate & nobody dies)
Monday, June 11th, 2012 10:54 am
As those of you in the Perth metro area may well be aware, things got a bit stormy last night. We lost power at about 2pm (I'm currently writing this in the Murdoch university library, having headed in early to take advantage of their power points), and we also lost the boundary fence between our place and our next door neighbour's place (right hand side as we look out the front door) at around the same time. The poor guy next door not only lost the fence on his left side, he also lost the back fence as well - not good, since he's planning on selling the place and moving out.

Himself and myself are both alive and well, but my mobile phone appears to be able to predict power outages - this is the second one we've had in about twelve months, and both times they happened when my phone was just about out of battery (the other reason why I've headed in to the uni to take advantage of their power points). Once it's charged, I'm going to be calling up his parents, my parents, and of course the landlords (or at least their real estate agency) to bring everyone up to date on the situation. I also have to upload some pictures from my camera and send them off to the parent of the guy next door, so they can use them in the insurance claim. Fortunately both the stove and the hot water system at our house are both gas powered, so I was able to put together something for dinner last night (fried cheese sandwiches), make myself some tea and coffee, and also get a hot shower this morning.

Now to settle down and brace for impact for the one coming through on Tuesday night or the early hours of Wednesday morning. Hopefully the roof will remain on the house. Oh, and I also have to hope that my clothes dry out a bit (I got pretty drenched on the way from home to the railway station this morning - got about 10 minutes out in the journey, and the heavens opened).
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra says "Heee!" (Ha ha only serious)
Saturday, April 14th, 2012 11:04 am
I'm still alive and well and living in suburbia. Himself is employed again (starts the new job on Monday), so we have income (or at least, income greater than the dole) to look forward to. Mostly I've been wandering around making comments on other blogs.

I've taken to playing Echo Bazaar again - they're letting people create accounts even without Facebook or Twitter accounts to link to them. If you're on there, have a look for Hepzibah Murgatroyd - that's me. At present, I'm busy dealing with an invasion of rats in my lodgings, which is leaving me quite nicely set up for a few other storylines (for a start, I'm looking at having accumulated at least half the purchase price for a route to another part of Fallen London).

I've stopped reading certain online periodicals - mainly the ones from the "Gawker" stable (so Jezebel, Kotaku etc), and any others which insist I have to have Javascript turned on in order to be able to view content on their website. Yes, I'm a web purist - I have this insane notion that I should be able to see web content using an HTML viewer (such as a web browser) without needing to enable fifty gazillion different add-ons (or run through a list of approximately twenty different JS hosts in NoScript in order to figure out which ones are going to need to be enabled so I can see what's on the page). It's quite easy: they aren't going to show me something worthwhile in plain HTML, I'm going to take it as a declaration that they don't have any worthwhile content.

So far that seems to work just fine as a sorting algorithm.

Hmmm... other things, other things. I've been reading through this post by Nick Mamatas about Geek Pride and Geek Culture, wherein he points out that, among other things:

"Yes, a fascination with the strategies of Pokémon or Magic: the Gathering is just like someone else's fascination with RBI averages. That doesn't raise your interests up; that helps let us know how silly too minute an interest in professional sport is.

Which makes me think about my latest bit of statistics neepery. I've long realised I like playing with numbers and statistics. I enjoy compiling huge reference sheets of this, that and the other thing, and usually I'll do that with things from role-playing games (you should see the spreadsheet I have for the monsters in Eyangband!). It's something which keeps me happy, and gives the more neepish side of my personality something to do. This year, I've decided to go back to a tried-and-true old favourite source of statistics, namely the AFL football. It's fun, really. I "watch" the game via the ABC's Grandstand AFL Scores app, refreshing every so often and updating the spreadsheet and the text file I have with summary stuff as required. It's interesting coming up with a "story" for what I'm seeing (for example, my ongoing explanation for long periods where there's not been a scoring kick made by either side is that the umpires have confiscated the ball; if one side hasn't scored for a long period in the first quarter, maybe they're not sure where the ground is) and it's a lot more fun for me than watching a bunch of blokes run around a muddy paddock to the sound of other blokes telling me what's happening right in front of my eyes, with regular interruptions for commercials for beer.

(This round's match to watch is going to be the West Coast Eagles vs the GWS Giants. Top of the ladder vs bottom of the ladder, and the previous two matches the Giants have been in they've pretty much been walked over. However, they do have a few chances of winning. Possible strategies include: telling the Eagles that the game's been moved to a different ground, whoops, sorry, didn't you know?; locking the Eagles players out of their changing rooms; or locking the Eagles players into their changing rooms and "losing" the keys until about three-quarter time. I should explain for non-AFL fans that GWS are the newest kids on the block, they're from a non-traditional AFL state, and they're not really expected to do more this season than try their hardest and walk away with the wooden spoon anyway.)

Oh, and it all gives me numbers to play with. Which is also fun.

We have a rent inspection coming up (sigh) which means this weekend we're cleaning the place up so it looks nice and shiny for the nice person from the real estate company when they visit on Tuesday. At present, I'm tackling the kitchen and the main family areas, and my system is fairly simple - thirty minutes straight of work, followed by one hour of futzing around doing whatever else I fancy.

I find this works better for me than just ploughing in with a sustained cleaning frenzy does. For a start, it means I'm allowed to stop and rest for a time, and it's not "giving up" - and "giving up" is something which inevitably kills off my cleaning frenzies. Also, thirty minutes is a nice, comfortable time interval. It's long enough to get several tasks done (for example, I can dry up one load of dishes, wash a new load, and move on to clean up bench space or wipe down the stove or whatever) and see some progress. It's long enough that I can feel like I can take my time on things and do it Right (whereas fifteen minute bursts make me feel rushed - gotta do it all NOW!), and I can also feel like I've achieved something at the end of the thirty minutes. The one hour gaps in between the thirty minute bursts mean I don't feel put upon or martyred by having to do the jobs, and it also means I'm not storming into Himself's den to demand he does something too (so he can be as miserable about the whole mess as I am). Contrariwise, having the bursts of activity between the breaks for other stuff mean I'm not feeling guilty about not helping out with the cleaning. Plus, it means I have enough energy left at the end of the day to do things like cook dinner (an important consideration).

The fanfic is still going up at AO3, although I'm starting to run out of stuff to post to plump things out to the 10 items per week thing. Oh dear, I may have to either slow down posting, or start writing again. Oh noes.
megpie71: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (Head!Tardis)
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 12:04 pm
First up, some context. I'm studying a couple of psychology units this semester in uni. For my Introduction to Psychology unit, I'm currently reading up in our textbook about the naure of the way that visual perception is handled by the brain (we're covering brains, sense and perception this week, yays!). So I'm reading through a whole heap of stuff about visual processing in the visual cortex.

Then I come across the bit about the various groups of cells which make up feature detectors in the brain. Here's the exact text I'm reading:

"Simple cells are feature detectors that respond most vigorously to lines of a particular orientation, such as horizontal or vertical, in an exact location in the visual field [...]. Complex cells are feature detectors that generally cover a larger receptive field, and respond when a stimulus of the proper orientation falls anywhere within their receptive field, not just at a particular location. [...] Still other cells, called hypercomplex cells, require that a stimulus be of a specific size or length to fire." (Burton, Weston & Kowalski, 2012, p143)

My brain immediately went to point due smut and produced an analogy with gaydar. Simple cells only detect "lines" of their particular orientation in specific circumstances - they can only be chatted up in a bar or at a club or wherever. Complex cells notice everything and anything that fits their particular orientation (and can presumably be propositioned anywhere). Hypercomplex cells are picky size queens, given they're requiring their stimulus of a particular size and length before they can fire...

I then had to stop and tell my brain to behave so I could continue on with my study.

I suspect I may have to ease off the slashfic for a while. It's hard enough trying to study psychology as it is (my brain keeps getting all intrigued by the various processes described in the textbook, and tries to slow down so I can watch things happening...), I don't need my brain talking with my ficbrain and bringing in my libido from gods know where (it certainly isn't talking to my reproductive bits) to giggle at things.
megpie71: AC Reno crouched over on the pavement, looking pained (about that danger money)
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 09:02 am
This semester, I've decided to pick up a couple of psychology units, because I'm interested in tacking social psychology (or indeed any psychology) onto the side of my computer science degree as a way of making things a bit more interesting. I figure the computer science will teach me the what and how when it comes to dealing with computers, while the psychology side I'm picking up in an effort to try and figure out why they've become the sort of mega-meta-tool they are now.

So I'm up to week two, attempting to recover from the massive kick in the hip pocket I've taken by purchasing my textbooks (two subjects, textbooks coming to the better part of $300, we're on the dole... oh well, I didn't need to eat anyway), and attempting to keep up with the reading. Thanks be to the gods I'm only studying part-time, since that means I have two days a week where I can pretty much devote my time to things like setting up a decent meal in the slow cooker, then spend the entire day scribbling down notes.

Today, however, I am functioning on approximately 5 hours sleep, if that. Why? Well, through an interesting concatenation of circumstances last night, I wound up browsing my way through my LiveJournal archive. It was interesting seeing where I'd been (I was also digging through old posts on fanficrants, because I can't for the life of me remember what I did there - it was over five years and two computers ago, and I've long since lost the email archives which record these things), but I got so distracted that before I knew it, it was 2am, and I realised I needed to get some sleep. I set the alarm to wake me for 7am, and I'm now drinking my first cup of coffee in months before I get back to writing notes from the textbook for one of my subjects for the next couple of hours before diving out the door to go to today's lecture and tutorial.

I think when I get home tonight, it's going to be a case of "dig out some frozen leftovers from the freezer" (the slow cooker is a godsend, because I can cook up large meals, serve up some of them, freeze the rest, and save myself from having to try and think about cooking on my Uni days), have dinner, and then collapse and sleep. Particularly since I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow at 7.30am (because that way I'll hopefully get in before my GP has had a chance to get massively behind in her schedule).
megpie71: Text: "My grip on reality's not too good at the best of times." (reality)
Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 10:15 am
These past few days I've been feeling like crap. Hence no post yesterday. I'll try to get one out for tomorrow.
megpie71: Text: "My grip on reality's not too good at the best of times." (reality)
Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 04:48 pm
First up, have a read of this entry and the comments thereupon.

Next up, we pause for a note on context and perspective - that of a chronic perfectionist with an anxiety disorder to show for it, plus chronic depression which feeds into the anxiety and vice versa.

Those two things considered, might I offer an alternative path toward the great goal of Getting Things Done.

TL,DR - Years of strategy below the fold )
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
Saturday, July 30th, 2011 06:14 am
It sucks. I hurt. Could it please go away right now, kthanxbye?

[A slightly longer comment: I've been coughing now for about three days, my chest aches, and I really didn't need to wind up with a trapped nerve in my right arm overnight just to add to the fun. Feeling very sore and very sorry for myself, but not emphasising this because Himself has been barking away for about two weeks straight with this while attempting to carry out his job and find us new rental accommodation. I may not be dead, but boy, it's starting to sound like a fun alternative at this point.]
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!
megpie71: a phone, ringing. (hard at work)
Monday, March 14th, 2011 07:07 am
I'm in my second-last week of the contract down in Bunbury, and I'm starting to really get fed up with travelling to and fro for five days out of every seven. I'm also tired as, and I've been missing my meds because it just slips my mind. Aside from all of that, I'm fine.

I'm trying to think of something witty (or at least interesting) to say here, but my brain isn't working at this hour of the morning, so all I can say is that I'm fine, and our little corner of the world hasn't experienced anything catastrophic lately. Gods willing, I'll be able to keep saying that for a while longer.
megpie71: Denzel looking at Tifa with a sort of "Huh?" expression (Are you going to tell him?)
Friday, October 22nd, 2010 10:02 am
I think John Nicolaou should be asking the ABC to remove the photo on this article, if only because it does nothing to improve his public image. They've clearly caught the poor man mid-blink, mid-word, and honestly, it makes him look like a member of the Drones Club - if I was wanting an image to point to as an example of who to cast for a similar role, I'd be pointing to this one and saying "like that, only slightly more vacuous".
megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (squee)
Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 08:09 am
It be my birthday. I am now 39 years old. Yay.

So, what do I have planned for my birthday? Well, to start with I have to drive up to uni and drop in a couple of assignments - the maths one is due today, and the computing one is due tomorrow (but I spent yesterday getting them both finished because I don't feel like having to make two trips there during a study break week). Then I'm heading home, and we're expecting a friend to visit this afternoon. Tonight, Himself is going to be taking me out to dinner (Hog's Breath Cafe in Rockingham - one of those places that does food, rather than cuisine).

The computing assignment was a right whatsit, and took most of about three days to do. I'm not sure I'm going to get high marks for it, since I know there's at least one bit of the main function code which could have been a lot more efficiently done if I just knew how arrays functioned (my position is that we haven't been taught arrays yet, so I'm not even going to try and use them; I was always confused by them in Pascal, and I don't fancy trying to teach myself how to use them in C. Instead, I'll wait until we're taught them in class in Java).

Tomorrow, I'm planning to head up to my favourite clothing store and get myself some new clothes (because I've been asking people for money for clothes as a birthday present). Mostly I'm planning on getting some more t-shirts and maybe another pair of jeans since my t-shirt collection is starting to look a trifle threadbare, and I've at least one pair of jeans which are starting to look just a tad over-worn. I'm also planning on dropping in to see my parents while I'm in their district (my favourite clothing shop is just a couple of suburbs over from where they are).

Thursday and Friday I'm planning on using to collapse in a heap and recuperate. I'll probably empty out my bag I use for uni and do all the filing of notes and things. Oh, and write up a formulae sheet for the maths test we have coming up on the Friday of next week. But I suspect I'll probably devote most of my time to re-reading manga and working my way through my latest effort at completing Persona 3.
megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (sit down and drink your tea)
Thursday, February 4th, 2010 02:38 pm
I got a nice letter from the university I went and attacked dracolichs at on Monday. They said "yes, we'd love to see you here this year, here's a web address, now get cracking on your enrolment, O Week is next week!"

So I am now enrolled as a full-time student (I hope... I have a funny feeling that because I don't have to do a Foundation Unit[1] I may just be scraping in a little below the "full-time" course load radar). But I'll go along there tomorrow (bus and train again) and then over to the nice people at Centrelink some time soon (oh crap... I've just realised, the best time to go and talk to them would be NOW! before they get mixed messages from Murdoch, Transperth and everyone else they get information from, and decide on an Alexandrine solution to the whole Gordian mess by cutting off my payments altogether! Excuse me while I grab the phone...)

And having done that, I've discovered I can't actually sign up for their customer disservices online, because I don't have (wait for it) a receipt number from Centrelink for some time in the past eight weeks. I'm on delayed lodgement through my Job Services Australia provider (my next form isn't due in until about the middle of March) and this means I generally go three months at a stretch without seeing the inside of a Centrelink office. The last time I went in there was when I went to find out why the heck the nice people from the government agency who were handling the bond assistance hadn't managed to get things set up to take the money directly from my payment (which apparently needed a different piece of paperwork from the one I had in my hot little hand, and therefore couldn't be dealt with right there and then).


And now I'm back again, stressed out, tired out, shopped out, and about ready to strangle things. And I still have to head back to the Centrelink office tomorrow to actually get the bloody stuff submitted and handed in (because although I can *print out* the form from their online page, I can't actually submit it online (or at least, that's how I'm reading things - and since just *finding* the bloody form took about six go-rounds of their website, because I still had my mind in dealing with the university mode, where they go for "sensible and logical" as a default, rather than bureaucracy, where the default is "bloody-minded to the extreme", I'm not going to push my luck). My only worry is that there's apparently rules which say the government is only going to support me for so many years of study (and this is equivalent to the length of the course plus one semester). Now, over the past twenty-two years, since I finished high school, I've spent at least eight of these engaged in either full-time or part-time study. Of those eight years, Centrelink was supporting me for an absolute maximum of four (and three of those four were when I was working for them, so I strongly doubt they count!). But I am in full "dealing with a government department" paranoia mode at present. So I'm going to head down there tomorrow, tidied up and ready to face the worst they can throw at me.

Meanwhile, since the paranoia module in my brain is kicking out in full throttle at the moment, I'm currently panicking that I'll bomb out in the first semester, crashing and burning and failing horrendously. Ah, the joys of going back to uni.

Wish me luck, folks.

[1] Foundation Units are a Murdoch University speciality for students who have never been to university before - basically "uni in a box 101" for kids who are just learning how to put things together. Since this will be my fourth attempt at an undergraduate degree they figure I already know what I'm doing with regard to things like writing essays, attending lectures, and showing up for tutorials.
megpie71: Simplified Bishie Sephiroth says "Neat!" (Enthuse)
Friday, December 18th, 2009 01:33 pm
So today I read something on Charles Stross' blog (pointed there from Making Light) for the first time in months. Then I started reading back through the prior list of posts on the front page, until I got to Designing Society for Posterity, an ideas post about the nature of society which would need to be created in order to handle Generation Ships (extremely long distance - interstellar - colonisation). Which sucked me in massively (not just the post itself, but at least the first eighty of the three-hundred something comments which followed). So, after pulling myself away from that for long enough to get the next batch of truffle mix into the fridge and chilling (prior to rolling things into balls and chilling again, then choc-dipping), I switched over to Shakesville - and promptly got pulled into another enthralling comments thread.

This has not been a good day for the housework. It's losing out in a major way to the distractions of teh intarwebs.

So today my readers get to have a mini-linkspam, along with reflections of my own.

First up - social engineering won't really be possible until we really have the tools to do the equivalent of performing maintenance on a social system while it's still running in such a way that the participants don't find such maintenance obtrusive or intrusive. At the moment, the only tools we have are fairly blunt ones, such as advertising, war, legislation and suchlike. They all have an effect, but often all they do is pass the problem on down the line for future generations to handle (to get an idea of how effective this isn't, consider that we're still dealing with fallout from a war which happened in Palestine in 69AD, and another which hit Afghanistan in roughly 325BC). So first we need to be able to fix potential problems fairly early on, before they expand outward with chaotic effects.

Second up - The issue of "who is a good guy" is one which highlights some of the current problems in our society - particularly our love of simplification and easy binaries. Humans are always going to be more complex than a mere binary axis can pinpoint, and so are human problems. This is why I always tend toward the notions of multiple solutions to a single identified problem, simply because there are always going to be underlying factors in every problem which aren't considered in an easy fix. For example, imprisoning people is the "easy" fix to the problem of crime - but it brings with it a range of different issues (such as the cost to the state as a whole of maintaining prisons and a justice system, dealing with the simple logistical issues of keeping them functional, and also coping with a society where prison culture is starting to shape a significant fraction of your population over time).

Third up - Every single time I see anything about the US political systems I wind up having at least one massive "WTF?" moment. The issue spoken about in the link is one which would be far more difficult to achieve here in Australia - mainly because the average Aussie tends to trust political parties about as far as they could heave the collected membership thereof, and therefore hasn't left anything significant in their hands. Voter data here belongs to the Commonwealth and State Governments (or in other words, to the Commonwealth and State public service) and there are some very strict rules about what can be collected, what can't be collected, what can be done with the data, who has access to it, who they can give the data to, how it can and can't be stored, and what's allowed to be done with it in the meantime.

Fourth up - Currency, cash flow and crime and the relations between all of these. One of the most basic things about money is that it devalues - this is a universal. It doesn't matter how solid the currency is, it will wind up devaluing in one way or another. To put it another way, all money is ultimately inflationary, whether legitimately acquired or illegitimately acquired. The process of resetting the value of $CURRENCY is generally nasty, since it gets started at the top of the tree, and winds up hurting everyone all the way down - those at the bottom of the heap get the worst of it. One other small reflection: I started to think the US economy had effectively gone down the tubes when Australian dollars were very near parity point with the US dollar - given the Australian economy is approximately 1/15th the size of the US economy, it's probably a pretty good indicator.

Finally - Girl Genius is still my favourite web comic. Endless fun, drama, suspense, thrills, action and, of course, Mad Science!!!
megpie71: Cloud Strife says "Meep" (Meep)
Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 06:45 am
Yeah, we've moved. Almost two weeks ago, in fact (first Thursday in December was the move in date); all over save the unpacking now. Himself seems to have most of the networking problems sorted out (for a while there we had two out of three of internet, working wireless network, and working gateway) so while I don't yet have a desk (it's on the list of furniture to purchase at some stage) I'm able to turn a corner of the dining table into my computer space.

The new place has a lot of good features about it, but one of the negative ones is there's approximately one-third the storage space of the old place. On the positive side, it has a bedroom more than the old place, so we've turned the final bedroom into a storeroom. It's also holding my chest of drawers, since the bedroom I've chosen turns out to be just large enough to hold my bed (queen size) and that's about it. The main bedroom of the house has been turned into Himself's den, so he's in another of the secondary bedrooms for sleeping. The secondary bedrooms all pretty much face east, so I get a nice early wake-up in the morning (as you'll probably have figured out by the posting time of this update).

At present we're still learning what's available where (neither of us have lived down in the extreme south of Perth before - Himself was based in the western suburbs, I'm from the south-eastern corridor) and sort of finding our feet. Our local shopping centre is reasonably comprehensive - two major supermarkets, two discount/seconds/reject shops (no regular stock listing, but lots of weird and wonderful variety, all of it cheap), a greengrocer and a butcher, plus a bookstore which immediately won my approval by having a range of merchandise including one of the Twilight/Buffy crossover t-shirts ("Then Buffy staked Edward. The end."), along with a chemist, a discount shoe shop, and a pawnbroker. This last is confirmation we're in social security recipient heartland. The nearest regional centre (Rockingham) has a larger mall which I visited yesterday to find out what was available, and the main cinemas are just across the road from the mall.

Since I haven't had the opportunity to start putting books up onto bookshelves, I've been filling in time by playing games on the Xbox. Mostly "The Last Remnant" - I've discovered if I sit a bit closer to the screen, I can make out enough of the text to get a reasonably good idea of what the words are. So I've restarted playing through (I'm up to the first runthrough in the Catacombs, but I'm busy doing a stroll through all the other areas I've opened up first... have I mentioned I over-grind something 'orrible? Battle level 60, and counting) and I'm doing my usual note-taking and such (I'm now up to about a dozen different pieces of paper, each covering different things). It's a good game to be fiddling about with - nice bishounen heroes, easy battle system, standard Squeenix battle frequency (walk walk attack), and it keeps my brain busy enough to get through the hottest hours of the day.