two thousand and fourteen in review

2014 in review
Here we are, at the end of 2014... which has been a very different kind of year for me in all manner of ways. But more on that shortly...

As always, this time of the year means that everyone's thoughts turn to the year that's been more than the year ahead... and it's usually this time when I trot out the "first line of the first post of each month" meme I've been doing every year since 2006.

Technically I cheated a couple of times this time around... at least one month is not officially the first post (although it's the first post with proper content), and January, it's not the first line (but it's a more appropriate one than "Welcome to 2014"):

January: I definitely had an atypical New Year's Eve last night... I pretty much broke all of my self-imposed NYE rules/customs/traditions bar two... and I didn't even stay up until midnight.

February: Dear Rug Manufacturers, please go fuck yourselves...

March: The Autumnal blog template was inspired, loosely, by two people... the first of which was Ben Teoh's experiments in Lego minifig wall art, which led to me digging out almost all my old Lego Space figs with the intention of making artwork.

April: I'm pretty sure I'm suffering from an post-endorphins crash... my brain has turned a little bit to sleepy mush... but you get that after sitting through a couple of hours of tattooing.

May: You really wouldn't expect that a week that started out at 30°C with me wearing shorts would end at 12°C with torrential rain and me wearing a onesie (shut up, it's warmer and more comfortable).

June: It's been a very long and a very full day... and currently I smell like a nightclub (well, more accurately I smell like a smoke machine, but to me that's the smell of a nightclub).

July: Today didn't exactly turn out like we planned... kind of, but with differences.

August: Given how cold it's been today I figured a little knitted artwork was more than appropriate.

September: This has been a truly shiteful week.

October: This template has been a long time coming... at least in terms of the idea.

November: While we did have an instance of general "blah", today pretty much all came together with nary a hitch.

December: It's that time of the year again, where I go a little bit nuts with the Adelaide Fringe program and then spend a chunk of change on tickets.

This year definitely did not start out the same way that it ended, more so than any year in recent (and/or blog) memory. Mostly for good, but also slightly odd in some cases.

When the year started, I was quite literally surrounded by boxes, preparing to move out of the apartment I'd been in for seventeen years and into a brand new place. As it ends, I'm very happy (daily stair climbing, bouts of neighbourly dickheadery and a couple of major incidents of water leaking where it shouldn't be notwithstanding) in my new place, with twice the amount of space, a house full of new furniture and a lot less general house/neighbour related stress.

I also painted, stained and varnished a piece of furniture for the first time ever. True it was a basic IKEA pine dresser, and I didn't have any sandpaper so it's not as mirror smooth as it might otherwise have been, but overall it looks damn good and I'm proud of it.

When the year started, I was ungainfully unemployed with severely dwindling bank savings. As it ends, I'm back working in The Nut House, and making (slow) roads to clawing back some savings... and hopeful that my contract gets extended at the end of January.

I also had to unexpectedly replace my laptop this year when my old one just threw a tantrum and refused to function normally. Thankfully it didn’t completely throw in the towel and I was able to get all my data from the hard drive, but it could have picked a better time to throw in the towel.

When the year started Espionage Gallery was a physical place, which I visited regularly. As it ends, Espionage the physical space is no more, and it's now more of a... state of mind. Although it will take physical form again around mid-January for the second Alice in Wonderland inspired show.

I saw more of the inside of hospitals and doctor's waiting rooms than I would have liked this year. And travelled less than usual.

I also got laid a hell of a lot less this year. Or at least it felt that way, especially given the broken thumb, wrenched elbow, back pain, blocked ears and other random maladies that befell me throughout the year when the last thing I really felt like doing was getting jiggy with it as they say. But otherwise the general theme seems to be that the gentlemen callers that I want to return either disappear or are card-carrying mental cases... and the ones I'm not really bothered about are the ones that keep coming back.

This year saw a lot less blogging from me as well. The biggest casualty of the year was Random Hotnesses... which dipped out at 23 posts (which were all pretty much in the first half of the year) instead of the usual 50+, and I've retired the feature, at least for now, because if I'm being completely honest, it had become more trouble than it was worth (plus I think the energy that I used to put into RH posts is now being spent on my Tumblr account. I didn't even do a Christmas Hotness this year. I thought about it, but there just wasn't anything that I felt I had to post.

But this year was also the year that I got some photos "published"... it was only online on the (seemingly now defunct) Already Home website, but it was a thrill all the same.

We also wandered along to the January, April, May, July and August editions of Fork on the Road. But I think I frequented food trucks a lot less this year, since I started bringing my lunch from home (mostly) to try and save a little more cash. Through the majority of Autumn and Winter that has meant stews, soups and lasagne, but once the weather got warmer I've mostly been deconstructing salads, then reconstructing them at work.

Oh, and the other thing Ma and I did less of this year was go to the movies... or at least it felt like we took more weeks off than we spent going to the movies. And I watched less movies in general, partly due to watching TV series and YouTube content, but more so because of playing video games.

It's been a couple of years since I bought my PS3, and although I spent a good chunk of my unemployment last year working my way through Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, this year has definitely been The Year of The Assassin. Thanks to a random conversation with the lovely Herschel at work, I ended up working my way through all of the Assassin's Creed games (well, except for the first one... and the three latest ones, although I did get AC: Black Flag for Christmas and I'm already a few hours into that, and can see myself sinking a TON of hours into it with all the additional side quests and content).

At the beginning of the year I only had one tattoo, now I have a second, and I fall in love with it all over again every time I look at it. It also reawoke the tattooing bug that had been mostly quieted by time since my first tattoo. There are ideas for three, possibly four others, but one would require a trip to Melbourne for a specific tattoo artist, one is too vague a concept right now and the other two are fighting to claim my left shoulder/arm.

Oh, and I fairly major change to my year... when the year started, I was 39... now I'm 40. And I spent my birthday in Sydney having the time of my life at The Lion King.

And today is my fifth anniversary of joining Twitter.

Current Mood:

painless post-christmas shopping adventures

post christmas vacation
For a post-Christmas shopping excursion, today wasn't too bad.

Granted today wasn't Boxing Day, and we stayed far, far, far away from the city (because, honestly, you'd have to be batshit crazy to go anywhere near the city the first few days after Christmas), but the places we did go were fairly calm.

Ma arrived with a larger collection of the Christmas goodies for me. I didn't have much room in my fridge on Christmas Day, so I only brought a tiny bit of stuff back with me, but other than some extra Rocky Road, I'm happy with the stuff she brought down.

She also brought down my present from La Cousina and Co... I say present, but it was cold hard cash, which is always preferable... and I just suddenly had the thought that I may need to take a look and see who has the Emmett mech suit from The Lego Movie still available, since it wasn't too far off the money I got. Then of course I have to work out where the fuck I'm going to put the thing.

Neither of us necessarily needed a lot of stuff... I still had a bunch of stuff left over from earlier this week (not to mention the week before), so we pretty much made it out of there with much less shopping than usual.

And also, fuck all the supermarkets who were sold out of Brandy Custard... especially Coles who were selling it out for $1 and were sold out, but also Woolworth who had it, but were charging $4... I bought some anyway, but it was a little annoying.

We also had a poke around Target, for no real reason, other than the fact that I wanted to see if they had some of the Twinings Christmas Tea marked down. And they did... so woohoo. I have a feeling it's going to be one of those things where it smells far superior to the way it tastes, but if that's the case, I'll just put some in a little bowl and let the smell waft through the apartment.

After that we came back here, I had to play tech support as Ma tried to upload the new calendar wallpapers onto her phone (and I swear, I had to repeat the exact same instructions to her three times before they stuck), and then her buying a song on iTunes and syncing that to her phone (including her having a complete senior moment on how to sync, never mind the fact she'd already done it THREE times already within about ten minutes).

We decided to take our proverbial lives into our hands and head out to IKEA. We both needed frames for things we got for Christmas, and I also discovered that the one fucking year that we don't go out to IKEA in the lead up to Christmas, is the one fucking year that the majority of their Christmas decorations feature a FUCKING TOY SOLDIER! Grrrr.

Mostly we just did the major loop upstairs, in fact we could have skipped it entirely, but they seem to have changed a bunch of stuff around since the last time we were there, and I kinda like seeing all the stuff laid out in little pretend rooms.

stala lamp
Ma slightly lost her mind when we got to their new little stationery section... they've got all these cute little notepads and gift bags and great little gift boxes you could use as regular boxes and whatnot. And stationery is our general family Kryptonite.

I got out of the whole excursion reasonably lightly... although I impulse bought the cutest little battery powered lamp (the Strala, as seen right)... I have no damn clue what the hell I'm going to do with it (although it may be useful as mood lighting the next time I get laid)... but it was too cute to pass up.

And although they didn't have the whole collection of toy soldier Christmasware, they did have some GINORMOUS red gift bags as well as some gorgeous gold and white paper with the same design on it.

I also bought a second rug to go under my other chair in the lounge... there may need to be a third one to actually have as a rug, although I'm not completely sure yet.

And weirdly there weren't anywhere near as many people in the store as we expected there too be... and because people are basically sheep, there were whole checkouts that you could just walk up to and be the next person served. So that was all pretty damn easy.

We'd talked about going to the movies, but to be honest I kind of wasn't in the mood to go and sit in a dark room for a couple of hours, plus there weren't as many good things that opened on Boxing Day than I thought there were going to be, so we'll save them for the next time we go to the movies.

Instead we came back here (and I saw my new neighbour from the ground floor, since I realised when I went downstairs last night to throw my rubbish out that someone has finally moved into the empty apartment under mine... took long enough), and then went to the North Adelaide Village to grab a couple of things we forgot this morning and then grabbed some lunch at Cibo before running out of the cafe after the most annoying woman decided to sit right behind us.

So that was pretty much the day... much less painless that I thought it might have been.

Current Mood:

post christmas round-up 2014

big gay rainbow tree with presents, 2014
This is usually the part of the post where I mention that this Christmas has been pretty much exactly like the Christmas before it and the Christmas before that and the Christmas before that.

And there's a degree of that, but this year was maybe a little simpler overall, and a little bit atypical.

I didn't bother adjusting my alarm clock last night, so I woke up at the usual weekday time, lay in bed for a while goofing around on my phone until I finally got up and went out for my morning walk.

It always feels vaguely post-apocalyptic going out around dawn on Christmas morning... and this year more than most. I didn't actually cross paths with anybody for the whole walk, which I think is essentially a record. I did see people at a distance, but right up until I was nearly home I didn't pass anyone. And there were very few cars out when I first went out... so, yeah, it was a little like the beginning of 28 Days Later.

When I got home I had a shower and got dressed in my new Gilles Bone Malefico's tee-shirt and the Almost Naked Dare jockstrap from Andrew Christian (which, even with it's extra straps and things is the most comfortable jock I've worn in a long while)... and jeans obviously. I was going to wear the plaid shorts I bought a while back, but since it was only forecast to be 22°C they didn't seem like a particularly good idea.

Then I packed up the car (and only needed to do two trips up and down the stairs, which was good) and was on the road by about twenty past seven.

The drive up to Ma's was fairly quiet... but as I said to her last week one of the issues with driving to her place first thing in the morning is the almost epilepsy inducing flashing of the early morning sun between the trees.

One of the things that was different this year is that we weren't heading out to La Cousina's place first thing in the morning, so once I got to Ma's place we had the entire day to ourselves.

We did a few bits and pieces, just general prep stuff and then put the croissants in the oven and had some breakfast.

Then after some clean-up... and possibly lighting the barbecue, I honestly don't remember when that happened... it was presents time!

I was right about Ma's reaction to the Joshua Smith artwork... I left it right until the end of the presents (actually I nearly forgot it entirely, because it wasn't with everything else) and when I got it out of the bag it was in and turned around, she was flabbergasted. I always enjoy being able to do that at least once with presents.

my presents 2014
When I'd finished unwrapping all my presents and had laid them all out I realised that while I'm a 40 year old man I most definitely had a man-child themed Christmas.

Not that there's anything wrong with that... it was just amusing. That is if you don't count the calendars.

But once I was done, my collection of things looked like this...
  • Warwick Rowers 2015 Calendar
  • The Art of Alfredo Roagui 2015 Calendar and art print
  • American Crew Daily Essentials pack
  • The Lego Movie Benny retractable pen
  • Disney Infinity 2.0 Tinkerbell figure
  • Bulbasaur plushie
  • Assassin's Creed: Black Flag PS3 game
  • Assassin's Creed The Collection novels
  • As You Wish book by Cary Elwes
  • Gold Lego minifigure keyring
  • Lego Chima Legend Beast Lion
  • Lego minifigure small storage head
  • Glass ampersand
  • Mini shears
And then the DVD's...
The other thing that ended up being different this year was Ma tried a different kind of fire-lighter in the barbecue... natural or organic or some other rubbish... what they turned out to be was rubbish. Okay it may not have completely been their fault, I know we've had some issues in previous years when it's been windy, which it definitely was today.

But after we'd left the coals to heat up we discovered that they just hadn't... so we ended up cooking everything in the oven instead.

It did mean that everything wasn't quite as browned as we may have liked, particularly the roast potatoes, but it also meant that the meat was all nice and tender and juicy.

While everything was cooking we did yet another round of clearing up, I did my usual present photos and then set the table up.

Then we had a well deserved sit down for a while.

christmas table with big chrissy salad
As the turkey and the sausage meat got closer to being ready, I started prepping everything else for the salad. And, with all due modesty, I made a fucking kick-ass warm dinner salad.

Along with the roast potatoes and the turkey and sausage meat there was basil leaves in place of salad greens, a gourmet tub of tomatoes in all manner of sizes and colours, green beans (because they're my favourite) and prosciutto and halloumi all fried up and crispy.

I tossed it all with a little white balsamic vinegar and we were good to go.

This is definitely a Christmas tradition I'm happy to hang on to, because it's damn yummy.

And of course, because I have no ability to make the appropriate amount of salad for the number of people actually intending to eat it (I always make more than I need), there was enough left over for Ma and I to split and have for dinner later in the week.

We were also both pretty full, so we decided to wait a while on dessert and instead sat down to watch Brave (which Ma bought for herself for Christmas)... or rather watch and listen to the audio commentary.

Of course, as usually happens after Christmas lunch, mostly because Ma goes to the midnight church service with her bestie every year and only gets home around 2am, she was a bit of a sleepy bunny and kept dozing off every now and again. But what else is after lunch for at Christmas.

At some point we'd digested dinner enough to make room for dessert, so we made up the same thing as last year...fruit mince ice cream (which was much richer than last year's attempt but just as delicious), crumbled up meringue, raspberries, blueberries and some chocolate shards I made last Sunday with leftover chocolate. So damn good.

Then once we'd finished Brave, we went with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2... and I think both of us were a little dozy during that one.

And once that was done we pretty much called it a day. We packed up my presents and some of the food stuff I was bringing home with me (I need to clean out my fridge before I can fit all the good stuff in, so Ma's bringing it down on Saturday) and I filled up the car, kissed Ma goodbye and headed home.

The drive back was mostly uneventful, except for when I got to the last stretch of Main North Road and the traffic had all completely crawled to stop. And it took forever (I don't know how long exactly, but it felt like about ten minutes) before I even got close enough to discover there had been a three car smash and two of the lanes were closed off. Whoops.

Hopefully no matter what kind of Christmas you had, it was better than the Christmas those three people had.

So that's it... Christmas is over for another year... roll on 2015!

Current Mood:

to all of you, merry christmas

to all of you, from all of me... merry christmas

Current Mood:

ma's presents 2014

ma's presents 2014 - beforema's presents 2014 - duringma's presents 2014 - after
I decided to wrap Ma's presents tonight, since we weren't going to the movies... and I figured I'd give myself tomorrow night off.

I did the same thing I've done with Ma's presents since 2010, everything gets wrapped in tissue paper, tied up with a ribbon and then put into a larger container. But unfortunately, as I mentioned last year, the Matryoshka bag I've be reusing every year finally gave up the ghost... which is kind of sad.

So this year, I'm using the very lovely and shiny (but very cheap) box I snagged at Target a couple of years ago.

I had a tiny panic attack earlier today when I realised that I hadn't actually grabbed any of the tissue paper from Ma's place on Sunday, and while I knew I had a big bag of various and sundry bits of tissue mostly left over from Ma's birthday presents, I didn't think any of it was especially Christmasy. Thankfully it turned out I had enough green and red, plus some silver, to get the job done.

As always I tried to make sure that Ma had a bunch of things that were a surprise... then there are the "traditional" presents, the nougat and the calendar, which I make sure she has every year.

Other than that, it's pretty much a mixed bag of her interests...
  • Stephen Fry "More Fool Me" autobiography
  • Città Dalle Acque 2015 calendar and matching iPhone wallpapers
  • S.T.A.M.P.S Watch
  • Hallmark 2014 snowman ornament
  • Joshua Smith "The Dancer" print 
  • Tread and Pedals inner-tube feather earrings
  • Harajuku Lovers Wicked Style perfume (Music, Love and G)
  • Ghibli City tee
  • The Wind Rises DVD
  • Funko glow-in-the-dark Olaf vinyl figure
  • Haighs dark chocolate freckles
  • Cherry Cranberry Pistachio Nougat
Unfortunately because I didn't want to roll up the Joshua Smith artwork just in case I damaged it somehow, I haven't really been able to "wrap" that... I'm just going to have to wing how I give it to her... it'll either be the very first thing, or the very last thing. In either case I think it's going to get the biggest reaction.

Current Mood:

slathering on the christmas goodie chocolate

suck my candy cane
I'm not entirely sure if it's just a combination of sugar overload and general exhaustion, or if this is just the point of the season where I generally give in, but some of my general Christmas grump from yesterday has gone thanks to a day spend slaving over the food processor and melted chocolate.

Yes, it's that time of the year again when Ma and I pretty much lose all sanity and cover everything that sits still long enough in a layer of chocolate.

It's Christmas Goodie Day!

I basically rolled out of bed this morning, jumped in the shower, threw on a tee shirt that I knew was going to be covered in icing sugar, melted chocolate and who knows what else by the end of the day and headed off to Ma's place.

I got there just before 8, and Ma was deep into the land of Ham Hearts. And as much as other people love our Ham Hearts, they really know nothing as they haven't had them directly out of the oven when they're still piping hot.

So that was breakfast.

I would have preferred if the day hadn't been forecast to be 36°C, but once Ma had finished with the oven we rolled her portable evaporative cooler into the kitchen and according to the little magnet Ma has on her fridge it never really got above 28.

As always the first cab off the rank was my Rocky Road. I think it actually came out better than previous years... whether that was because we used a little more chocolate or whether the confectionery gods where just in our favour this year. And the technique I discovered when I made the Rocky Road for The Nut House back in June where I rolled the Turkish Delight out into sausage shapes before cutting it also served me perfectly and made life so much easier.

Once the Rocky Road was in the fridge, we did our usual technique of dividing and conquering, Ma took on the Chocolate Balls, while I attacked the new truffle for this year, the overly complicatedly named Cookies and Cream Candy Cane Truffles (we've already shortened it down to Candy Cane Truffles).

And it finally gives a use to those god awful candy canes that nobody I've ever met actually likes. But once you throw them into a food processor and blitz the living daylights out of them, it's not only the perfect smell of Christmas, it'll also clear out your sinuses.

It was a different recipe from the ones that we're used to since it all takes place in the food processor and I was a little worried that Ma's somewhat petite processor wasn't going to live through the experience. But it survived.

After that I went through all of the other recipes and processed all the things that needed processing, which of course included having to wash the processor several times.

Then since Ma had moved onto the Sherry Truffles, I started putting together a couple of the other truffles and rolling them into balls.

When everything had been rolled into balls appropriately and I'd spent half the morning washing and drying things, we completed Stage 1.

We stopped for some lunch, and a rest, since we'd both been standing up the whole morning. My back was also giving me some drama, even though I'd been doing as my Chiro recommended and standing in the "giraffe stance", as well as being very mindful of tucking my hips in. Thankfully I have another appointment tomorrow but at this stage I'm not all that bad.

Once lunch was over, it was time for Stage 2: Melted Chocolate Palooza.

As I said, the confectionery gods where very, very much on our side today... the chocolate worked better than I think it's ever done (the white abomination notwithstanding), and we didn't have any major dramas (other than the occasional lack of appropriate trays to put them on).

Granted, the topping we put on the Hazelnut Delights was chopped macadamia nuts and that didn't completely work. I think the chopped hazelnuts we've used before were a better idea, since they were a drier powder rather than the slightly oily macadamias.

But they all look pretty good.

christmas goodies as a hexagon 2014
Clockwise, top left: Hazelnut Delight, Chocolate Ball, Candy Cane Truffles,
Apricot Brandy Truffles, Peanut Butter Balls, Rum Balls
and my Rocky Road in the centre

Once everything was coated and had set, we boxed everything up before sitting down for a well deserved rest.

Then we ordered Chinese food. Which I've really had an unfulfilled craving for for some time, since my part of North Adelaide no longer just has a regular Chinese restaurant. I'll be honest, the food was okay, but wasn't spectacular, but it'll take the edge off the craving for a while again.

In previous years we've spent the latter part of the evening making up little boxes of goodies for everyone in The Nut House, but there's just too damn many of us any more (I can never remember the exact number, but there's somewhere between 23 and 27 of us on any given day). So instead we just parcelled up a general selection of goodies along with a metric ton of Ham Hearts and some Mince Tarts... enough to fill up one of those foil lined cooler shopping bags.

And that was really it... once I'd had another rest, I took myself home again.

Thankfully unlike previous years I don't have to get into work before everybody else and run around like a demented elf putting things on everyone's desks, but I will have to organise everything for a gigantic morning tea.

I also feel that little bit more Christmasy... not full Post Ghost Scrooge... but not Pre Ghost Scrooge either.

Current Mood:

pre xmas m'eh with shopping

merry criss-mas
I feel like I say this every year at some point, but I'm so not in the Christmas spirit this year. I know I've gone to Ma's and put the tree up... and fashioned a Christmas tree for myself that's over 30cms tall, and tomorrow is the annual Orgy de Chocolat goodie making... but beyond that... nothing.

I couldn't be bothered going through all the boxes under my bed and in my wardrobe to get any decorations out, which also meant that I didn't take anything to work to yule-ify my desk.

And other than a few manky bits of tinsel around the place, and a sad little Christmas tree in the foyer, nobody else at work has gotten overly inspired either.

So the fact that Christmas is in... five days doesn't feel quite real and I'm fairly ambivalent to the whole thing to be honest.

I also think part of it may have to do with the fact that except for the nougat I bought yesterday, all of Ma's presents have been organised for a number of weeks. And a bunch of stuff came via the internets, so there was even less effort involved. Granted there's still one last parcel that I'm waiting for... I was sure that I'd ordered it before the shipping deadline... but then I only got the email to say it had shipped at the beginning of last week, so that's a bit of a fuckover.

It also meant that I literally had nothing Christmas related to do today.

I have the whole day to myself because of the aforementioned Christmas goodie making tomorrow, but all I had was go to the supermarket this morning, buy 90% fresh fruit and veg and then come home again.

It did mean that I could spend a couple of hours tidying up the house since I haven't really been in the mood the last couple of weeks, so stuff was just kind of cluttering up the joint.

Hopefully the Christmas Spirit hits me some time between now and Thursday, but honestly I'm not holding my breath.

Current Mood:

photo friday: beach snaps

between the flagsbeach boy trio

hair. phone and boardiesbeach road, bondi

manly pipeswatching the waves

beach soccerwhite tiles and blue sky
This week has been a vast improvement on last week... if only because I didn't feel like I was lurching from one disaster to another the whole week.

My ears have improved a fair bit, they're still not perfect but they are definitely on the mend. Now I just need to remember to actually use my nasal spray and hopefully it will be all cleared up before I'm supposed to go back to the ENT.

My back is still a little problematic, but I've been to the chiro twice this week and I have another appointment on Monday to try and whip it into shape before they go on Christmas break until mid January.

Work has been... up and down. I go for half the day with my new jobs coming in, and then like this afternoon, suddenly there were four jobs in the space of five minutes. Then the Powers That Be decided that the Friday before Christmas is exactly the time that something needs to be desperately urgently done at 3:30pm. Fortunately I got to do half of it and then leave the rest of it in H-San's capable hands... but still... WTF.

There was also work drinks tonight... and up until all my ear and back related drama, I was excited to go, but even at the end of last week I just wasn't feeling it. So I let everybody (well, the people who were actually at work today, and were intending to go... which was a much smaller number than the actual number of staff) go off and do their thing and I dragged my tired little butt home.

This Thursday was also my pre-Christmas haircut... as well as being proof of the power of positive thinking... or something. I've been thinking on and off for the last week or so that it would be nice if Baby Tink wasn't quite settled when I rocked up to see Tink, since I've only seen her the once and she was tiny and grizzly and I had a cold so I didn't want to hold her and pass it on.

But this time I got mucho baby cuddles. She's such a serious little thing, but I did make her laugh a few times, which is always nice.

We did the usual thing with my hair... shorter and blonder... and just generally chatted about this, that and the other.

I'd also taken some presents for the kids, all books, and Tink was very appreciative. She said I didn't have to... and I know that, but it's nice to be able to buy things for little kids, it gets much harder when they're older, but when they're still little it's fun. And I don't really have little kids in the extended family any more, so it's nice.

Oh, and I just booked my tickets for the Brick-A-Laide, the Adelaide LEGO convention next April. Yes, it's a while away, but given how quickly the tickets sold out for the Bricktopia event this year, and the fact this one is going to be in a much bigger venue, so I'm not taking any chances.

Current Mood:

honor the creed

"Nothing is true... everything is permitted"

This year was definitely the Year of the Assassin in my house. Thanks to the Good Game Top 100 list (where Assassin's Creed II came in at number 19), and a random conversation with one of the girls at work about the fact she'd picked up the first two games, the combination of which led me to do the same.

And it all snowballed from there.

I was going to wait since I'm getting Assassin's Creed: Black Flag for Christmas, but these five games are all part of the "Desmond" story arc, so it makes sense to keep these thoughts all together and deal with the later games one at a time.

Also, these aren't necessarily "reviews" as such, they're more my associated thoughts around the games.

assassin's creed
Assassin's Creed

Technically the first game in the Assassin's Creed series is sitting on my Pile of Shame.

I finished Brotherhood last year (the third game in the series but my first foray into the world of AC), and then earlier this year bought both AC1 and AC2 at the same time. I started playing AC2 and then thought that I would just try out the first game before I got too deep into AC2.

I played a few hours of it and haven't gone back... at least not yet. And, if I'm being honest, it probably won't happen at all (and the more games in the series I play, the less I want to go all the way back to the beginning).

Part of the issue is that by comparison with both AC2 and Brotherhood, the controls feel SO DAMN CLUNKY. Add to that the fact that the guards all seem to be ridiculously sensitive compared with AC2, and I really didn't like the way the game felt as a whole.

I'm sure there is some basic rule of the universe that says that you should never go backwards in a gaming series!

assassin's creed ii
Assassin's Creed II

Everybody with an internet connection already knows that AC2 is the best of the AC games... pretty much just full stop, end of story.

I do have a tendency to lump this and Brotherhood together in my head as Part 1 and Part 2 of the same game. I very much feel like they were most of the way through developing AC2, looked at the amount of content they had, the scope of story they wanted to tell, knew that the multiplayer wasn't going to be finished in time and went "well, if we take these things and the multiplayer and cut the story here and then develop these other things that were on our original wish-list, we can make two full games".

Maybe at some point in the future they will re-release AC2 and Brotherhood as one giant game (and remastered, naturally... damn that would be awesome).

So, given all that, it's a little hard for me to talk about AC2 on it's own.

Because I'd played Brotherhood first, I dove in at the deep end. In fact I rage quit Brotherhood for several months because I couldn't follow Uncle Mario through the streets of Rome without losing him or running up walls I didn't intend to. But AC2 has a brilliant, gentle introduction to all the skills, both things new to AC2 and things that carried over from the first game.

And unlike AC1 and AC3, the hero of the AC2 trilogy, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, is a likeable character with an actual sense of humour, even if everything around him is turning upside down. From what little of AC1 that I've played, I didn't actually like Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad all that much. He comes off, at least at the beginning of the game, as a complete arrogant douchebag (he was better in Revelations, but that takes place after the events of AC1). And Ratonhnhaké:ton aka Connor from AC3 was, for the most part, entirely too busy being serious and lacked a sense of humour or lightness (there were a couple of very rare moments, such as some of his interactions with the folks at the homestead, and he grew on me as time went on, but overall, he's a much more dour hero).

It's also not just Ezio that has a sense of humour... the game in general has a lightness in certain parts... like the fact that they introduce Ezio's uncle by having him say "It'sa me, Mario" literally had me laughing out loud.

AC2 just gets it all right... the combat, the difficulty, the missions and all of the additional content. There were some spots that were challenging and missions I had to do a few times before I got things right (and I did end up hitting the internet for some of the solutions to the Subject 16 quests that didn't make any sense), but I never felt like I was out of my depth like it did at certain points in later games of the series.

assassin's creed: brotherhood
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

As I've already said, this really does feel like the natural sequel to AC2, especially given that you literally start the Ezio part of the game in Brotherhood in the exact same location that you left it in AC2.

And, for me anyway, I feel like they took everything in AC2 that I loved and just +1'd it. The tower missions being more of a puzzle than a straight climb, having the whole of Rome to conquer and free rather than the multiple locations of AC2, the additional missions and tasks you could undertake... all of it just worked for me. True, it was the first AC game I played, and that probably factors in rather heavily, but other than the aforementioned steep learning curve and rage quit at the beginning of the game, it really did hit all the right notes for me.

Also, because it was the only AC game I owned at the time, I was a bit of a completionist freak... I think the only things I didn't finish were a couple of the racing challenges, since the one thing I hate in AC games more than almost anything else is having to do timed runs... I completely suck at it.

Brotherhood is also the only AC game I've played where I've dabbled in the multiplayer mode. To be honest it was what got me past my initial rage quit... I taught myself how to climb, how to assassinate, how to find a target, how to just exist in the world, all from a handful of multiplayer sessions. But it gave me enough confidence and desire to eventually go back and restart the single player campaign.

Once I finally got into it, one of the things I did love about it was the assassin recruits (and it's something I really missed when I went back to play AC2). In fact I've loved it in all the games since Brotherhood, and it's been interesting to watch the development of how you recruit the assassins from the initial idea of random people on the street in Brotherhood, to the mixture of random citizens and specific missions in Revelations to the story based missions of AC3.

I can totally understand why people found the story and the story missions as "more of the same" in Brotherhood after playing AC2, but because I really enjoyed both games (and the aforementioned thought that they're essentially one big game) I never had that issue.

assassin's creed: revelations
Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Rounding out the Ezio Trilogy is AC Revelations.

I do have a confession to make... when I started this game I was just so damn happy to be out of Italy and into somewhere that looked different and felt different. Sure, after a while of running around the city I realised that it's all essentially the exact same people and building models, just with different skins on them, but it was a welcome change after two games worth of the same "Italian-ness".

I also found myself surprisingly fond of the whole new bomb mechanic. Usually with things like that I tend to forget about them or else use them only when absolutely required. But in this game I used them all the time, granted not always well, but I definitely gave it a red hot go. And, once I moved on to AC3, I actually really missed them... especially given the limited bomb capacity (both in terms of choice and number that could be carried) in that game.

And, secondary confession, I much preferred Ezio's relationship with Sophia Sartor in this game to the flashback memories of Cristina Vespucci from Brotherhood (and to be honest all I really remember of those is that Cristina comes across as a bit of a bitch for the most part). But he and Sophia are just sweet together.

Maybe it's the change of city/country, maybe it's an updated game engine, I don't know, but I did find Revelations to often be a more attractive game than either of it's predecessors. Not that AC2 and Brotherhood were ugly games, far from it, but I found myself more likely to stop and just take in a sunrise or sunset vista in this game than I was in either of the previous two games.

As with Brotherhood, there aren't really that many major changes to the gameplay from the Brotherhood game. You do get a new hidden blade weapon, the hook blade, and there are some new take down moves for the blade that you can use on guards. But like the two previous games, I'm essentially a button masher at heart and essentially just mashed my way through all of the combat, with the occasional use of the kick to break things up (which is something else I miss in AC3).

One of the things that I hated in Revelations was the decision to "force" players into a "tower defence" section if they spend too much time being wanted by the guards. Other than the introductory sequence that showed you how to play (which I had to play twice before I got it right), I didn't succeed once. Fortunately all that meant was recapturing the tower again, which was the much less painful option. I'm very glad it's a mechanic they abandoned in AC3 though since it was pretty damn annoying, at least until you get your assassin recruits up to the required level and they held the towers for you.

Overall, Revelations had the weakest story, there's no real reason why Ezio needs to get that worked up about the plot in this game, and to be honest, he kind of doesn't... it's more of a "really, I've already done all of these things and now I have to stop them from finding these discs?" kind of vibe. The stakes are generally pretty damn low.

It's also the game with the most annoying "Desmond" storyline/gameplay. The switch from third to first person gameplay in those sequences and the difficulty spike of the Desmond story missions made me abandon them about halfway through since they weren't vital to the overall game.

Just as an aside, one of my favourite moments from the main game comes from when you visit Cappadocia. At the end of the sequence you confront the main villain for that location and he has a big soliloquy about why he's doing what he's doing before the game gives you back control of Ezio. When you get control back, the bad guy keeps talking and you're supposed to have a big fight with him while he, presumably, talks the whole time. I'd forgotten that I'd equipped the crossbow earlier on and once the cut scene was over the first thing I did was pressed the attack button and shot him straight in the face, fight over. You had to be there, but I was amused.

assassin's creed iii
Assassin's Creed III

AC3 was definitely a mixed bag for me. There were things about it I liked quite a lot... a new protagonist, a completely new time period and location completely unlike any of the previous games, plus the overall look of the game... but the things that I didn't think worked as well as previous games tipped the scale a little more that the things I loved.

I get what they were trying to do with making you play the opening sequences as Haytham Kenway before switching to the real main character several hours in... it sets the whole landscape, introduces a large number of the characters quite quickly, sets up conflict and gives motivation for the main story (well, kind of). But all it really serves to do is clog up the first several hours of gameplay with a character who isn't the lead. And it's not even like the "revelation" that comes at the end of the Haytham chapters is in any way surprising.

*Here there be spoilers*

Having played all the previous games in quick succession, the one thing I know about Assassins as a group (at least as they've been presented to me thus far) is that they can't seem to shut the hell up about BEING Assassins... it's all Brotherhood this and Assassins that. Haytham never says it once... everything he talks about is cloaked in an extra layer of subterfuge and even if I hadn't known he was a Templar when I started (thanks to damn internet spoilers), I'm pretty sure I would have been damn suspicious after the first couple of hours.

*End spoilers*

I think overall, my main complaint is that AC3 doesn't actually feel like an Assassin's Creed game. Or at least not like the Assassin's Creed games that I'd become used to. It's a decent enough game for what it is, but it's changed enough of the core mechanics and game-play that the things that made the Ezio trilogy feel properly "assassin-y" are nowhere to be seen.

On the positive side, I love the ability to free-run through the trees, and not randomly jumping off in the wrong direction (well, unless you really screw up) once you're in one of those "branch corridors", but the free-running in the cities just doesn't feel the same. The buildings are all the wrong shape, it feels like there are no flat open roofs, there are far too many soldiers with rifles who can just snipe at you from what seems like miles away without you knowing they're even there and on the whole the buildings are just too damn far apart.

A lot of the time in previous games I have just run through the streets, shoving people aside as I go, but I pretty much did that ALL the time in this one. That is when I wasn't using the Fast Travel system, which was a godsend.

And I absolutely hate the regenerating health bar. Hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it.

That, combined with the lack of health potions in this game as well as the fact that the guards are much more difficult to take down (plus their lack of floating overhead health bars and their annoying combo breakers and Connor's fighting controls), means that any large amount of combat and I was desync'ed before I knew it (and don't even get me started on the number of times I've been killed and eaten by bears, bobcats, wolves and cougars due to the stupid "push this, now this, now this" mechanic for repelling them... I did get a better handle on it towards the end of the game, but overall, hated it). I worked out over halfway through the game that the best way to cope with large groups of guards is to use the smoke bombs, but since you're restricted to carrying three bombs for a lot of the game and you can't craft them yourself like in Revelations, that tactic isn't always a viable option.

Another contributing factor is that there's no armour and no progression, stats and equipment-wise, that I really noticed anyway, to the amount of health you have. In previous games I've tended to start the story missions, then at a certain point go off, do a ton of the side quests and extra things until I either unlock or can afford the best armour available, and then I can take on all of the enemy types with much less trouble. And the fact that you have to craft the upgrades to your belt pouches (after having found or purchased the items to do that) rather than just spending cash on them is just frustrating beyond measure.

Overall, I really didn't have any use for the cash I collected. Sure, I used it to buy all the maps, and I bought all the different dye jobs for the outfit, but there was no other real incentive to spend cash. I didn't feel the need to buy additional weapons beyond the sword I bought fairly early in the game with what appeared to have the highest overall stats, as every new thing that I unlocked seemed to be in some way less effective than the weapons I started the game with. Once I'd finished the game I immediately went back and bought them all, just to appease the completionist in me, but it didn't seem to be required for the game.

Also, there's no shops to buy, no paintings or books to collect (the pirate treasure tinkets and the incredibly annoying floating pages... which I don't think they ever properly explained the purpose of, although I did mostly work it out towards the end of the game... but all of that stuff just wasn't the same)... and to be honest, while I could've wasted cash on the boat (and did on a couple of occasions), I didn't really feel a need there either.

Weirdly, all of the things that made the combat harder also made me more likely to do sneaky assassin-y things. And yes, I'm aware of the inherent contradiction in that given what I said before. But there was lots of sneaking around and hiding and whatnot. But even there the game felt much messier. More often than not there was no real obvious "path" from one hiding spot to another, and there were multiple occasions where I got to an area, jumped into the first patch of straw or brush or whatnot and looked around and looked around and looked around, and there was no obvious way to progress without being seen.

And don't even get me started on the entire end mission and the following end sequence...

*Here there be more spoileriness*

Not only was the final mission/task almost impossible to do without desyncronising, but once I managed to get to a certain stage, there was no clear path of where I was supposed to go, yet again. I literally only made it through because I accidentally flailed my way onto the right place at the right time and was able to run after the villain.

But the thing that REALLY irked me was the fact that ALL control is taken off you. You don't even get a "Press X to stab", it's all cut scenes. Then you're forced to lumber very slowly up a path and into a tavern, you trigger another cut scene, but once again, aren't given any agency or ability to DO anything, other than watch it all play out. The thing that really shocked me though was the very last foe you kill, there's no "pre-death conversation/send off" moment... maybe it was an intentional thing, Connor has nothing he wants to say to the villain, he isn't going to offer him forgiveness or even send him on his way with the traditional prayer of his people like he's done with every other foe, bear, deer and bunny he's killed along the way.

*Here endeth the spoileriness*

And then there's the 900 hours of credits you can't skip through before they throw you into a new, incredibly badly explained sequence. Don't get me wrong, once I worked out what the hell I was supposed to be doing, I kind of enjoyed it, but like a lot of the game I just felt that it was badly explained.

There were two main things that really, really bugged me throughout the game... firstly was the fact that more often than seemed usual in Assassin's Creed games, control was taken away from you and turned into a QuickTime event... and secondly, but more importantly, the total and complete lack of appropriate information before you go on a mission, and even worse when it's any of the additional content... for example, I had absolutely no idea what to do with the "find these things around the place" missions (aka Delivery Missions) without having to look it up online.

The same with the assassination contracts and the like... without knowing that you needed to go and look at the map for additional markers, the game doesn't do a very good job of signposting things, or just flat out telling you what the hell you're supposed to be doing.

The other issue I have is the appalling menu design. Previous games haven't had the BEST menus, but this one is next to useless. There are three icons devoted to returning to the mission, restarting the mission from the last checkpoint and quitting the mission entirely, but no ability to go straight from the menu to the map via the menu, and the things that are there are hidden inside a layer of badly described user interface that doesn't help.

Maybe it's just that I'm not great at the game, I certainly don't consider myself any kind of kick-ass guru, and 98% of the really, really cool things I've done in all of the games, but especially this one, have often been done completely by accident. It just felt like the difficulty curve really, really spiked between Revelations and AC3.

Having said all of that, there are a lot of things I do love about the game. Firstly it's a really, really good looking game. Even with the occasional visual glitch (and that's more about the AI putting characters in places they shouldn't be than about how the game actually looks... I had more than a few instances of seeing characters appear a foot off the ground and then drop into place, once humorously, straight into the ocean for some reason) and the slightly weird way that foliage just seems to instantly sprout out of the ground or unfold as you run forward... it's still very pretty. Especially with all the new weather effects, there's nothing quite like stalking a target in the middle of the night while a thunderstorm rages around you.

And even though it was often trying to bite, claw, stab, maul or eat me, having the world be alive with all manner of animals was fantastic too.

In addition to the new story based missions to recruit the small group of assassins (which were problematic only because of the combat mechanics), which I did enjoy once I got my head around them, the addition of Connor's homestead and the tradespeople he finds and assists is a great dynamic, and one that I really enjoy (well, maybe not the bit where you have to round up the very stubborn pigs and get them back into their pen... although Conner's mutterings while he ran around did amuse me). I kind of wish that there were more of those to be honest, and I also wish they had been released more gradually between other missions as they make less sense when you did them all in one giant hit like I did... but that's the way they're given to you... and so that's the way I played them.

I also enjoyed the idea in this game that the Templars aren't this band of evil, moustache twirling villains only out to cause trouble and mess things up. There's a great ambivalence to this particular set of Templar villains where they tell Connor exactly why he's screwed up and why him trying to stop them has instead caused him to make things worse than they were before, at least from their perspective. I was never completely sure how truthful they were being, or whether the game was trying to set up the idea of this being how you turn an Assassin to the Templar cause... slowly, seductively, by convincing them little by little that your goals aren't so different. But either way I did enjoy that element of ambiguity (and I'm wondering how it will play out in later games if at all).

I think this was also the game where I enjoyed the Desmond missions and storyline (except, again, for the way it ended) more so than any of the others. The little I played in AC1 was fairly straight forward story set up, AC2 was better and did have a couple of sequences where you were allowed to run around as Desmond. Brotherhood ramped that up with the modern day Monteriggioni setting where you could run around like a madman and climb all over everything as well as the final sequence through the Colosseum. Revelations was the worst of the bunch, although some of the Desmond backstory was interesting, it wasn't enough to actually make me struggle on through the gameplay. But in AC3, they really give you the chance to go on missions as Desmond, and while the lack of the "Animus" HUD information kinda bugged me (as it did in all the other Desmond portions of the games really), this really felt like the first time I really got to get out there as Desmond (beyond the Brotherhood sequence). And I liked it.

I am very much looking to see what they've done with Black Flag... and while I don't know that I'm ready to upgrade to the PS4 any time soon, I wouldn't mind checking out Rogue.

Current Mood:

the last of the christmas saturday shopping

beach santa
Today's refrain went a little something like... "I'm too old for this shit".

By which I mean, too old for my body to find continual ways to sabotage me. Honestly, I've just been exhausted all damn day. Part of that is to do with my back... but this general lethargy is something I'm not a fan of.

Anyway... I stayed in bed as long as I could this morning to try and make up for the lack of sleep over the last couple of days... I'm not entirely sure it was successful, but hopefully I get another run at it tomorrow morning.

Our supermarket run was both slow (mostly due to me) and more expensive than normal, mostly due to buying things for Christmas goodie making next week. I didn't really end up with a whole heap of stuff though, since I really didn't have much of anything after the last week and my total lack of desire to cook anything.

And sadly our regular check-out girl wasn't on today... so we had to suffer through a dufus who knew nothing... but it's not like there's a lot of choice at that time in the morning, they only tend to have a couple of check outs open, which seems dumb to me.

 We only had a couple of errands to run today... mostly things Ma wanted. If I hadn't been feeling so incredibly flat I might have suggested a ride out to IKEA, but between the flatness and not wanting to sit in the car for all that long, it seemed like the better plan was to skip it.

Our first stop was the Flinder Street Markets. We missed out on their big Christmas market last weekend unfortunately... in fact I only discovered that it was on on Saturday night, so that was a bit of waste. The specific stall Ma wanted wasn't there, but we wandered around briefly and had a look at what was there.

Since we were headed past Victoria Square we decided to stop off and have a look at the little Market thing they had set up there. It was more food with bits of craft and stuff than a proper market, but fortunately the stall Ma had been looking for at Flinders Street was actually there and she found the things she'd been looking for.

There wasn't much else of interest there so we headed down to Arndale, sorely in need of a beverage break. After a quick Boost, we had a general wander around Arndale, Ma found the things she was after, I found a couple of really nice looking and cheap Disney story books for Tink's girls (it's an All Book Christmas for them this year), and a stuffed Bulbasaur that Ma ended up buying for me to put into the Christmas abyss.

And that was it really... we'd done the full wander, gotten all the things, so we called it a day and Ma shuffled off home.

Thankfully we've already reached that tipping point with Christmas stuff... I'm just waiting for two parcels to arrive from the Internetz for Ma, and I have to get her some nougat like every year, and that's it.

Current Mood:

photo friday: rough and uncomfortable

things that are uncomfortablerough statue
This week has been... problematic, but improving overall. And pretty much follows on directly from last week.

After seeing the doctor last Friday and putting up the Christmas tree on Sunday, I was improved... I still couldn't hear for shit out of my right ear, but the left one was improved. Although sitting on the floor to put the tree together and/or sitting on Ma's slightly uncomfortable dining chairs was a mistake.

So Monday I arranged another doctor's appointment for the following morning since I still couldn't hear. Went back to see the slightly vague but lovely 106 year old doctor on Tuesday morning. He poked around my ears, then arranged for an appointment with the ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) specialist that afternoon at 4:15, gave me a referral letter and sent me on my way.

Tuesday afternoon I left work early, bussed it home (although I'm pretty damn sure it took me the same amount of time on the bus that it would have done if I'd walked home, okay probably not, but it certainly felt that way), then took the car to the appointment in Kent Town.

I should have realised that since he was an ENT, a large portion of his audience would be little kids... and for some reason I also didn't expect the waiting room to be quite so chocker-block with people at 4:15 in the afternoon. I also kind of thought he might be on time, but I realise that's really pushing the proverbial up hill. So between every single sound echoing around in my head, sitting (once again) in uncomfortable chairs and having to wait around for about 20 minutes (again, not really arguing, they got me in at the last minute, which I appreciated), I just wanted him to do his thing and then to, you know, be able to hear again.

Things don't often go according to plan.

He poked around, I told the SAME DAMN STORY I've told to every single person I've seen (and he had like two other versions of it from the ER doctor and my "regular" doctor already), then he got me up on the table and, essentially shoved a tiny vacuum cleaner in my ears. It was a somewhat weird experience, although it didn't hurt as much as the time the ER doctor Macguyvered one out of spare parts.

The news wasn't the worst possible news, but it also wasn't the best news. I have fluid behind my eardrums, which is why the ears feel blocked and I can't hear so good. Great, so we know the WHAT. Unfortunately there isn't a follow up from the what. He thinks that there were perforations in my eardrums, hence the original issue with the ears weeping, but they fixed themselves, but unfortunately when they did the fluid got trapped behind them. Now I need to keep taking the antibiotics my regular doctor gave me, and hope that my Eustachian tubes (which sounds like part of the London Underground to be perfectly honest) unblock and allow the fluid to drain out of the big holes in my head that are supposed to be full of air.

He "prescribed" some nasal sprays, I say prescribed, but they're over the counter medication, so it's not like it's especially hard hitting stuff.

And at the end of that, after essentially telling me that it should sort itself out within a "couple of months" (hopefully it sorts itself out by the end of the course of antibiotics, because otherwise I may lose my mind), he charged me $300 for the privilege. Insert reference to wounded bulls and the charging thereof.

Of course between the fact that he didn't actually "fix" me, and the fact that I was in a degree of pain from sitting, plus the fact that I turned all the way left when I should have turned not quite as left on the way home I ended up having to come back through the city. At 5:30... it's actually very fortunately that I didn't just start ploughing into pedestrians and other cars left right and centre. Because I wanted to. A lot.

But even though I was grumpy about the overall lack of action with my ears (which sounds wrong somehow), there has been overall improvement. I can hear a little more out of the right, and at least I have a reason and something to work towards (which is not going back to the next ENT appointment in February because I don't need to). And it's not painful any more, which is also a bonus. Somehow come Wednesday I also didn't feel so completely lacking in energy as I've done since this whole thing started.

Come today and I'm generally "better"... I'm sleep deprived, grumpy, my back hurts and my ears still aren't right... but relatively speaking, I'm better.

I wanted to sneak in and see one of my chiros on Wednesday, but I called up just that little bit too late (totally my own fault, but D'OH!), I did managed to snaffle an appointment on Thursday morning though. And it helped... a bit... for a while.

For some reason that I don't entirely understand I just crashed on Thursday night. Or tried to. I couldn't be bothered cooking, so went out to get takeaway and when I got back and had eaten I just crashed out on the bed. And probably would have fallen asleep there and then had the Trust Fund Babies (as we've taken to calling them during my frequent rantings about them at work), my backyard neighbours, not been standing around screaming at each other drunkenly. Add to that someone somewhere downwind of me has been playing music for the last three nights, but that has stopped around 10:30 or so each night, which is fine... except for tonight, where it just won't shut the fuck up and is seriously working my last remaining nerve. And the TFBs shut up around the same time yesterday... so I officially crawled into bed and gave up about then.

But then 2:22 this morning rolled around... and the TFB's came home from whatever drunken shenanigans they'd been indulging in all night and went back to screaming at each other in the backyard/their gigantic open plan kitchen/lounge/outdoor area. And every time I thought they'd settled down and wandered off, they'd start up again. I would have called the police earlier, and should have, but I wanted them to shut up on their own, plus I hadn't summoned up the energy to reach for the phone, dial and talk. But I did eventually.

By the time somebody came out and then they actually shut the hell up, it was somewhere close to 4am... so I would have to say that I dozed fitfully until my alarm went off an hour later, and then ignored the alarm until after 6am.

So it hasn't been the best of days... especially since either the lack of sleep or the abrupt awakening or just the way I was laying last night has tweaked my back in some new way.

I know some of this (the additional stupid band music coming up the hill from the cricket earlier in the evening, and music that stops at 10:30) is the price of living in North Adelaide. But the TFBs are just inconsiderate wankers. Their drunken yelling up to 10:30 I don’t like but can cope with... but this early AM bullshit isn't, as they say, cricket old chum.

Current Mood:

little rainbow tree

rainbow colourblock tree
Last year when we put up Ma's new white tree for the first time, I wrote a note inside the bauble box that said something along the lines of "In just have one thing to say... 'rainbow'" or something similarly twee from 2013 Me... well, to 2013 Me I say... "Achievement unlocked bitch!".

But if I'm being honest, if I wasn't suffering from an ear infection and had low energy, then it may not have happened.

Going back to the beginning of the story though...

There was no post from yesterday, because essentially there was no yesterday... Ma did her own thing and I went to the supermarket in the morning, then came home and pretty much did nothing for the rest of the day. I just couldn't summon up the energy for much. And there's not really much point trying to watch anything important since I can't hear that great, and doubly so if I wanted to lay on the bed to do it, since I can only get comfy on one side, and that makes me functionally deaf. Not to mention, likely to fall asleep.

So I didn't do much of anything.

Roll on this morning, I wasn't up and out the house as early as I would have been normally, because mornings are just too damn hard... I'm mostly wandering around with a head full of fluff, and I feel like the fever part of the infection is worse in the mornings. So it's an effort just to feed and bathe myself, let alone getting out the front door.

I didn't rush, I just took my time and I think I was at Ma's a little over an hour later than "previously". Which is still early, but not regular early. And it did feel like it took more of my concentration than normal just operating the car.

Anyway, there was also more dithering around once I got to Ma's place, even though I'd eaten at my place (for the antibiotics, of course), but I dithered, she dithered, we dithered.

Eventually we got down to it.

First the white tree went up. And mostly due to the aforementioned lack of energy, I did 90% sitting on my butt on the floor. Usually I switch between sitting and standing or there might be standing and bending (with the old tree anyway), but not this time... effort, not currently on speaking terms with me.

But it still worked.

I did notice the aforementioned note inside the lid of the baubles box and was ruminating on that, and the fact that it would also mean that I wouldn't have to be bending and stretching and choosing different heights and levels for each bauble, this was a pure "start from the top and work down" kind of idea.

First, however, there appeared to need to be math. Math is not my friend usually, but my mushy little brain at present and math... forget it. I worked out that we had five different colours of baubles and there were potentially seven "layers" of tree (the giant top cone, then six sets of branches)... this was where my brain and math parted company.

But given that we only have a minimal amount of blue baubles, I knew that could only be one row... and we have SO many red baubles that those should be the top cone... so after some discussion with Ma... as well as the fact that while I was okay with the idea, it's her tree and she has to live with it every day, I just need to visit it once again when we do Christmas goodies, and again on actual Christmas.

Eventually (and honestly, fuck only knows how) a decision was reached that, yes, we would do the rainbow tree.

It's definitely a weirder experience doing it this was from the way I'm used to. Normally it's all "don't get this one particular colour to close to other examples of that same particular colour in the overall colour schematic of the tree" kind of thing... this is all "bugger that shit, if it's red, it's on the top cone, gold, next two rows, and so on".

I did have a moment just after we were done when I really wanted to unwind the twisted coloured fairy lights we have and regrouping the colours to match the tree... not seriously or anything... just an idle thought. A more serious thought was that if we do this again then it might be an idea if we get a set of white lights.

I will say though, a little like the surprise I had that the white tree worked in the first place, that it worked as well as it did. I wasn't sure until it was finished, because it needs to full effect for it to work at all... but it just looks really good.

We tidied up somewhat, had some lunch and then got started on wrapping presents.

I'm not on my A game, clearly, so it took me a while to really find my design game for this year. And as usual Princess T and Miss Oh both came under the gap. I don't have an issue with how we arranged their presents from an engineering standpoint, but we've done a whole lot better in previous years, design-wise.

We really didn't have that much stuff to wrap... but even so we didn't finish up until around 5:30, then there was the usual slightly headless meanderings in ever decreasing circles to get everything tidied up (but so that Ma could still get to it all) before we had some dinner.

And that was pretty much it... after dinner I headed home.

homemade plastic slot together tree
On a related note, I finally got around to making my little "slot together" Christmas tree from the green corrugated plastic I bought a few weeks back. Close up it's as wonky as hell, but overall it doesn't look too bad. And amazingly, you can actually out presents "under" it and it doesn't look TOTALLY ridiculous.

Although given the size of the box I'm planning on using for Ma's presents, I think it will literally need to be "under" the tree... as in, it'll have the tree sitting on top of it.

Anyway, I should take myself off to bed soonish...

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photo friday: shell like

glass sandcastle and shellbubble shell

little scoopshell weeds
I read an article today about knowing what your spending triggers are to stay on budget. I didn't need to read it though, I already know my spending triggers are online shopping, and currently, online teeshirt stores. I did resist the urge earlier in the week to get Ma something that was adorable but fairly pointless, but then went looking on Tee Fury this afternoon and saw that their shirt of the day was Lego themed... yeah...

In other news, this week has been SHITEFUL!

It seems like every year around this time the wheels tend to fall of the universe. Last year it was potential homelessness, but this year... joy of joys, ear infection.

It all started on Monday afternoon, just before I was due to leave work my ear started feeling weird, and then by the time I got home it was blocked and a little painful. I mean I was feeling a little below par all day, but just assumed that that was from the lack of sleep and general dancey-ness of Saturday night.

I got some sleep Monday night, although not a whole hell of a lot, came into work Tuesday, it cleared a little so that I could at least hear things again, and then I left work early and Ma and I were headed off to see the second of the Ghibli movies we had tickets for, The Wind Rises.

Normally there would have been a movie review that accompanied that excursion, however I think I slept through about half of the movie. I'll admit, as much as I like SOME of the Ghibli catalogue, there are other movies that just have the ability to put me to sleep, and that's when I'm not sleep deprived and battling an infection/fever. So I napped my way through the movie and then after some dinner, Ma dropped me off at home around 6:30.

As soon as I got upstairs, I got straight into bed. Which should have been fine, and was clearly what my body needed, and would have been great if I could have actually turned over like I normally would. It is, however, one of the few times I've been glad to be 50% deaf, given the noisy party my "backyard neighbours" threw until 3am. I don't think I heard that much of it, as I couldn't roll onto my left side at all during the night, so I was "deaf side up" all night... but I ended up sleeping fairly fitfully and I think I woke up either every time I wanted to roll over or every time the neighbours made excessive amounts of noise (which at one point did sound like they were hurling bottles around the place). Fucking cashed-up bogans (which is literally the only explanation).

I finally gave up on the whole concept of sleeping and got up around 5:30am, had a shower then caught the very first bus of the day into the city and wandered down to the Emergency Room at the Royal Adelaide.

I got seen relatively quickly, since it was coming up on change of shift and I think they weren't really all that busy... not really surprising at 6:45am.

But because it was the change of shift I ended up being seen by three different doctors... first a dude who was cute but who was clearly a junior (because he didn't seem to know that much all on his own, plus even with the beard he was about 12... that's clearly the sign of getting old, when doctors seem like teenagers), then someone more senior (but not very much older) but who was coming up on the end of shift and didn't really want to make any decisions (he literally said that aloud about three times), then a female doctor who actually ended up doing most of the actual doctoring... and who's name may or may not have been Dr Bunny... seriously.

Mostly they left me sitting in a somewhat uncomfortable dentist's chair in the ENT "zone"... the same chair I'd sat in like a dufus after sitting in the waiting room for like seven hours (okay, technically three, but it felt longer) way back in 2011 when I didn't seem to make a habit of visiting the Emergency Room. Given that they gave me some lovely Panadene Forte and I'd had very little sleep for the past two nights, I was more than a little dopey and very sleepy when people did actually come and ask me things.

So much so that I completely vagued out on the fact that even though it was a completely different scenario, I'd had "otitis externa" once before (which is just the fancy name for "Swimmer's Ear")... whether that would have been useful information in the general scheme of things or not, I don't really know. I do know that with all of the medical professionals I've seen this week, the majority of them didn't always necessarily seem that interested in chunks of the story, and because I had to tell the story a number of times, I don't think any of them got the total and complete version with all the bells and whistles.

Anyway, Dr Fluffy... err, Bunny... (and yeah, she was the least kind of Fluffy Bunny woman you could picture) poked me with a stick, mostly figuratively, for a while and then decided that she wanted to send me for a CAT scan, just to check it wasn't an infection in the bone... which is definitely a new one for me, even after all the times in the recent past I've ended up in the emergency room.

Then in the end she shoved an "ear wick" in my ear (essentially we're talking about an ear tampon... stick in hole, apply liquid, it swells up... c'mon), gave me a letter for my GP (which would be great if I'd had a GP at that point that I didn't completely despise), some drops and a prescription for some Panadene Forte and sent me on my way.

I got home around 10:30 or so, got back into bed and actually slept the rest of the day away. I ended up getting out of bed around 6:30pm... had some fruit and messed around on the laptop watching YouTube videos for a few hours before going back to bed again.

I have spent a bunch of time wondering exactly what the hell triggered this, but unfortunately the list of suspects is too long rather than too short... I was already having some issues with fluid in my ears, but then:
  • I went out dancing for six straight hours and mostly stood right in front of the speakers
  • I bought new over-ear headphones
  • I slept in the living room under the aircon after said the dance party
  • I was running on less sleep than usual all of last week
  • plus about three or four other less specific things
But maybe it was just that element of wishful thinking gone awry, where I'd been wishing everyone would just shut the hell up, and then suddenly, I'm mostly deaf. Yeah, not likely I know, but still...

Thursday was a tiny bit comical, in that my left ear was totally blocked, but I could still hear fine out of the right ear... so while I needed various people to say things CLEARLY AND SLOWLY a few times, I did okay for the most part. Less fun was the fact I needed to go to the Medicare office and replace my lost (or very safely located, which amounts to about the same thing) Medicare card. I'd been running around using an expired card for months without even realising it, and it was only when the woman at the hospital pointed it out that I realised I had no clue where the new one was. I won't even go into why a government agency decides that noon is the appropriate time for three quarters of their staff to all go to lunch... not that they were all working when I got there in the first place... however WTF!

Anyway... while I've had no appetite all week long, I did start craving weirdly specific foods yesterday, so I had pork dumplings for dinner... just that, with some soy sauce...

Towards the end of the day yesterday my right ear started feeling a little hot and swollen, so I was pretty sure that when I woke up I was going to be pretty damn deaf. Whether I was "legally deaf" or not, I have no idea, but it did feel very much like I had a sofa cushion shoved in each ear, and I know that it was very, very difficult to understand what various people were saying, between the muffled hearing and the incredibly loud white noise blasting in my head.

Fortunately I managed to find a doctor's surgery relatively close to work, so I took myself off to my appointment this morning, saw a doctor who was 106 if he was a day (he was nice, just a little old and crusty), who poke around in my ears with various things, pulled the ear wick out, which was looking pretty damn gross, then essentially jammed some rolled up tissue in each ear for a while until I could partially hear out of the left ear.

He also wrote me a prescription for some strong and frankly gigantic antibiotics and some better quality ear drops than they gave me at the hospital and sent me on my merry way, with the happy thought that the lovely drugs should have well and truly kicked in by Monday, and if I was still having issues on Tuesday to come back and he'd arrange some sort of Emergency ENT specialist appointment.

So here I sit... I've had two of the antibiotics thus far, I'm waiting until bedtime before I put the new and improved drops in, and I'm essentially functionally deaf in my right ear and can kind of hear out of my left.

Of course, because I haven't felt like doing much of anything all week long, the apartment is a bit of a disaster area (relatively speaking) but I just can't summon up the energy to be bothered. A little bit like how I'm not sure exactly how bothered I'm going to be about heading down to Ma's to put the Christmas tree up on Sunday... that's going to be A Very Trying Day.

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