Thursday, September 25, 2003
Alix and Dave
The newlyweds arrived in town yesterday for Alix's brother Gav's wedding on Saturday (I will avoid a lengthy digression in which I raise a bemused eyebrow at the concept of Gav marrying someone, or vice versa). After the traditional viewing of the wedding video and consuming a few warmup beers, we wound our way out to Manuka and continued the beerage at Filthy McFaddens', the bar with the funniest name of them all.
After amusing ourselves with a couple of pints and some (we thought) hilarious discussions about the Rugby World Cup, weddings, and Miz Alix's roleplaying style (anyone for whom the phrase "Talk, you tongueless, crippled spastic!" has any meaning will know the anecdote I'm talking about here), we headed round the corner and had a profoundly yummy Indian dinner. If I could remember the name of the place, I'd plug it here, but I'd had a couple of stubbies followed by a couple of pints, so you'll forgive a lack of detail.
Dave is good value, by the way. I like him.
So, having been thoroughly cowed in neo-luddism by the tangle of wires, cables and connectormajigs inside the case of the new computer, we have pleaded with Fiona's coworker Justin to help us put it together. On Saturday we're heading over to his place with a carton of beer and some barbecue stuff and plying him with (light) alcoholic beverages until he installs the various bits and pieces for us. Soon we will have a functional PC, which I will not be spending every minute of the rest of my life playing games on, oh no... Yay!
Fiona and I are leaving on Sunday for five days in the Blue Mountains, staying at a luxurious B&B swilling wine, reading books and generally lazing about. We're getting in the celebrations for our first anniversary early, because it's impossible to book anything anywhere nice in NSW over the October long weekend. So instead we're having a ten-day weekend.
Home ownership musings
Ev's search for a place to own or at least live over the past couple of weeks, which I have been living vicariously through email, has prompted Fiona and I to start rethinking our short-term plans. We had up until now been sticking to the plan of first paying the house off, and only then looking for somewhere larger, more comfortable and less neighbourful than our current place (what we refer to as "our real house").
But Allhomes.com have a listing for a duplex house a few blocks away for somewhere between $50 and $75 grand more than we think our place can sensibly demand. In other words, the market at the moment is inflated to stupendous and infeasible levels. When the inevitable property market bubble bursts (as TV and IMF market analysts keep telling us it must), this is exactly the kind of stupidly over-rated pricing that will surely correct itself in a sudden catastrophic reversal. At least, that's what we fancifully picture happening, although reality is often quite a bit dumber than that, so we could be more than a little off base there.
But assuming that we aren't (and yes, we'll be getting professional advice), the sensible thing to do would seem to be to sell the place now while the prices are stupid and either buy our dream home - if it happens to be on the market - or buy a block of land, hire an architect and build exactly what we want. Either option seems scary and dramatic, but the idea of selling and moving soon rather than in four or five years time is kind of cool.
So, anyone want to frighten us into common sense with horror stories about shonky builders?
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Some assembly required...
...or actually quite a lot. We picked up the new computer yesterday, or rather we picked up a big box and several smaller boxes, plastic bags and shrink-wrapped packages. All of these had indescribably complex-looking widgets, gadgets and doohickeys in them. Some of them even included instructions. "Aha!" thinks we, "we can read instructionese, therefore we ought to be able to rearrange said doohickeys into a functional PC."
All such delusion evaporated the instant we took the side panels off the casing and looked with dismay upon the twisted bundles of wires, connectors, cables, packets of screws, blurry instruction sheets and, you know, stuff. Contrary to popular opinion, it is by now means apparent where everything - and by that I mean anything - is meant to go. I took a fair stab and guessed that the CD-writer and floppy disk drive probably go in the shelving frames behind the front panels, and that the fan probably goes somewhere near the grill at the back, but apart from that I'm stumped.
I pulled the motherboard out of its plastic bag for a quick look, and sure enough there are a heap of slots built into it that obviously accommodate things like the CPU, RAM, the sound and graphics cards and so on. If the motherboard was actually screwed in place, I could probably nut the rest of it out without too much difficulty. As it is, I can't even tell where in the case I'm supposed to put the motherboard.
Fortunately we have a backup plan or two. Oddly enough, they involve beer, and then leaving town for a week.
So Chris and I have volunteered to act as reserves players for an indoor team on Monday nights (Vincibles, as great a team name as any I've ever heard). So far we're six or seven games in and I've played nearly every game. So be it. What's interesting to me is that suddenly I seem to have been promoted, much against expectation, to the position of main strike bowler. I've bowled the final over in the last three games we've played. The final over is, if you've already batted, the one where a close game is won or lost, usually. It's normally reserved for the most reliable and/or quickest bowler. Before this team, that has never been a particularly good description for me (and even with this team it's debatable).
It's quite challenging. There is more pressure than at any other time in the game to produce a result and get a couple of wickets. My bowling has never been subjected to that kind of pressure before, and I suspect that if it had it would have collapsed in a gibbering heap. But to my great surprise, I am instead flourishing. My bowling has never been quicker, more accurate or harder to hit. I'm still not getting quite as many wickets as perhaps I should be (I guess the batsmen do occasionally get a say in whether they get out or not), but I am definitely, clearly getting better.
Just in time for the outdoor season, which requires a different action and is probably going to be hopelessly corrupted by my indoor style.
In other jaw-dropping news, I still can't bat.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Doh! I wanted to be Tom or Sylv!
You are the Fifth Doctor: Your youthful exterior
belies your centuries of experience, and even
you have a bit of difficulty rectifying these
two aspects of your personality. You are
compassionate, introspective, and deeply
troubled by injustice. If you occasionally seem
to display more vulnerability than your
predecessors, it's probably because you're more
openly human than they were. Are your
companions finally rubbing off on you?
Which Incarnation of the Doctor Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
So, which Doctor are you?
The personal touch
So this is one of those email viruses that make their way around the internet by infecting the minds of the gullible, the impressionable and the bored. This particular one was sent to me by my cousin Susan, who should know better, but presumably has enough time to be bored. On a strange whim (I really did have better things to do) I filled it out and sent it back to her. And then I decided to post it up here to Lexifab, possibly to avoid having to think of anything remotely interesting to say.
It's all about me
- What time is it? 3:51 pm
- Name: David Versace
- Name as it appears on birth certificate? David Andrew Versace
- Nicknames: One wag in the ARES used to call me "El Professori" because I could read, but that's about it. Oh, wait, my Spit name is "Rabid Vicious Bastard"
- Number of candles on your last birthday cake: I got a cake? Nuh uh! But it would have been 33.
- Birthday: 29 June 1970
- Pets: 1 estranged cat, Printy (aka Squinty, Sprinty)
- Hair color: Brown, unless you're my wife.
- Piercings: No
- Any Tattoo's? No. And what the hell is that apostrophe doing there?
- How much do you love your job? More than I used to
- Hometown: Townsville, I guess
- Birth Place: Gladstone, Queensland
- Favorite food?: Food is my favourite food. A specific answer is impossible for me.
- Been to Africa? No
- Been toilet papering?: Not unless you mean "Have you ever used toilet paper?", in which case the answer is yes.
- Love someone so much it made you cry?: Yeah
- Been in a car accident? Not really
- Croutons or bacon bits?: Bacon bits. The salty soy ones that have, like, no pig in them.
- Favourite day of the week?: Either Saturday, or any day I flex off work.
- Favourite word or phrase?: I invented "lexifabricography", so let's pretend that's my favourite. Otherwise, refer to the Food question.
- Favorite Restaurant?: Rama's in Pearce, Canberra (I'd say Dijon in Ainslie, but as meals there start at about $70 per person, I'll try to pretend I'm not a snob)
- Favorite flower?: They're all nice, I guess.
- Favorite sport to watch?: Cricket
- Favorite Drink?: Coffee from my cappuccino machine.
- Favorite ice cream?: Chocolate. The more kinds of chocolate at once, the better.
- Disney or Warner Bros.?: Warner Bros. Daffy Duck, yo.
- Favorite fast food restaurant?: Kingsley's, but I'm kind of embarrassed about it.
- What colour is your bedroom carpet?: A kind of dirty white colour.
- How many times did you fail your driver's test?: Much to my surprise, I didn't.
- Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?: Any place that sells roleplaying games or cut-price DVDs.
- Most annoying thing people ask me?: What's a "stymie"? (Gaming in-joke, forget about it)
- Bedtime?: Pretty early or quite late, depending
- Who will respond to this survey the quickest?: I doubt anyone will, since I'm not sending it to anyone.
- Who is the person you sent this to that is least likely to respond?: To reiterate, I'm not sending this survey to anyone. Do you have a problem with that?
- Favorite TV show?: Now? Futurama. Ever? Doctor Who.
- Last person you went out to dinner with?: My wife and both my brothers.
- Chevy or Ford?: Who cares?
- Time you finished this email?: 4:33 pm
So there you are. No great insights, but it didn't take me very long either.
Monday, September 15, 2003
Weekend of wonders
Actually, that kind of overstates the case, but I'm going for a stream-of-consciousness thing here because I'm feeling rushed and lazy.
The weekend started badly with an email from Ev telling me that he and Sam have broken up. Which came as a hell of a surprise, and obviously not one of the good kind. They seemed really happy together, and none of our recent encounters gave us any reason to think they weren't going to be together for the long haul. It's a damn shame, and it makes me feel bad that I'm too far away at the moment to get together and cheer him up or get him drunk. I'll see him pretty soon - it's only about four weeks to the Weird Al concert in Sydney, and he told me today that he's still planning to go - but for the moment all I can do is long-distance consolation, which is never enough, under the circumstances.
The weather was (just barely) warm enough on Saturday to convince us to get stuck into the garden again. We planted some jasmine, replacing the plants assassinated by the burrowing puppy, and knocked a little herb garden together. The weather's been varying between clear and bright days and gusty, rainy days for the past couple of weeks, so everything in the back garden is looking cheerful and growy.
The front is another matter entirely. We're just not sure what to do with it. Nothing much seems to want to grow very fast (probably because of the two big trees sucking up all the nutrients and putting everything in the shade) and we're scratching our heads trying to think of ways to make it look as good as the back yard without spending money on a fence, a hedge, a deck, an extension or anything else that would cost a fortune. If we were planning to stay in the place forever, we'd just spend the money and do something elaborate (probably extend to create a bit more living space), but as we still don't consider it our "real house", we're trying to tart it up and make it presentable without sinking any more money in.
We're probably going to fail. The real question is, how much does the dowdy front yard affect the overall value of the place? Dunno.
Played another fast-paced game of D&D on Sunday. It was pretty much entirely taken up with a commando-style raid on a tower full of evil cultists. Many cultists were slaughtered (don't worry, they had it coming). I'm trying to power through this with indecent haste so that I can offer up some sense of closure for Jimbo before he moves up to the Gold Coast, sometime around the end of October. I don't know that I can make the deadline, but it will be fun to try.
I ordered our new computer late last week. It's a PC, which we will be kit-bashing together ourselves from a large pile of separate parts. We've ordered it online from a local firm, and in spite of the fact that they offer an assembly service, we have for mysterious and inexplicable reasons chosen to attempt the task ourselves. Now, everyone tells me it's a piece of piss and that any idiot can do it and there's usually only one place that any given piece can go (it sounds like a jigsaw, but I suspect the consequences of trying to mash two pieces together to make them fit would be profoundly regrettable). However, as neither Fiona nor I have ever so much as inserted a RAM chip, the prospect is daunting.
Finally caught up on some movies I've been meaning to watch for a while. A Beautiful Mind - not much to say about this one, except that (a) I thought Donnie Darko did a better job of depicting schizophrenia (at least while it looked as though that was what it was about), (b) Jennifer Connelly is still hot (but we knew that), and (c) I finally got to see Paul Bettany in something where I knew who he was. The reason I wondered is that he will be starring alongside Russell Crowe in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World pretty soon, which I am looking forward to seeing. I'm in the middle of one of the books on which the film is based at the moment, and I'm excited to see whether Peter Weir can pull off the authentic feel of 18th century naval engagements. And whether Big Russ can play a convincing tubby, occasionally doltish British sea captain.
No, wait. Scratch that last thought.
We also watched Insomnia, which was okay without being anything too special. Good performances from Pacino and Williams, especially in the scene on the ferry where they subtly jockey for dominance by deconstructing each others' characters. The direction was a bit disappointing considering it was Christopher Nolan, who'd previously done Memento.
I just heard today, by the way, that Nolan is directing the next Batman movie. They cast Christian Bale in the lead role over the weekend. Interesting. He's already been an American psycho, so playing Young Bruce Wayne oughtn't be too much of a stretch.
Oh, and the Doctor is back...
The ABC are showing repeats of Doctor Who from today. All of them. From the very first episode of An Unearthly Child, presumably through the final episode of the ironically-named final story Survival. At least, that's the plan as I understand it. I expect that somewhere along the way they'll lose their nerve and give up - otherwise it will take them roughly two and a half years (maybe less, since a lot of the Hartnell and Troughton stories are permanently lost now).
On one level, this is kind of non-news, even though it's great that Auntie is helping to celebrate the 40th anniversary (23 November 1963 it all started, and no, I didn't have to look that date up). I could go over to Chris' and watch nearly all of the stories that still exist any time I wanted, in any order. But on the other hand, sitting down to watch at 6:00 pm every week night, religiously...the thought of that raises something very primal and compelling from the lower recesses of my brain.
I can't wait. Even though the early stories are often quite dull and shoddily put together. I. Can't. Wait.
Friday, September 12, 2003
I'm being pretty lazy about now...
It's that sort of a day. I ate too much at lunch. On top of that, I'm still kind of ill (having had Tuesday and Wednesday off due to sudden onset of Spring Lurgy). And I don't really have anything urgent to do (I tend to get a little more fired up in a crisis). So I would rather just sit here (or better still go home) and laze about. If I can be bothered searching for a solution, it will almost certainly involve caffeine.
On the Salutory Topic of Seagoing Bandits and Zombie Simians
Some time ago I mentioned that I was looking forward to seeing the clumsily-titled Pirate of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Little did I know that what I was looking forward to was the SINGLE GREATEST FILM EVER COMMITTED TO CELLULOID! .
You may think I exaggerate. I do not, sir. I will submit no evidence in defence of my position beyond the following. If you do not see this film, replete as it is with (a) campy Johnny Depp With Eyeliner and Knee High Boots, (b) Orlando Bloom with a Determined Look and an Ostrich-feather Hat, (c) Bend It Like Beckham veteran Keira Knightley playing the Heroine who Overcomes All Obstacles Except a Corset, and (d) Geoffrey Rush and his undead pirate monkey sidekick, then you are lame and you've let the terrorists win. I who have seen it, on the other hand, am in a state of heightened transcendence and certainty that all is right with the Universe, because I have looked upon the face of a really entertaining pirate movie, with zombies as a bonus. I can be no plainer than that.
Except to once again mention the undead pirate monkey.
Monday, September 08, 2003
I'm sick. Must be spring
It's amazing that I can manage to get through an entire winter without so much as a sniffle, but as soon as spring rolls around, here I am running a temperature, nose running uncontrollably and sneezing like an electric sneezing machine set to "sneeze".
Bleah. I only came in today because I had some vague recollection that there was work that needed doing urgently, and I was too fuzzy to remember exactly what it was. Now that I'm here, I realise that I need to work with another person to accomplish it. And she's away from work with the flu today.
I haven't been updating Lexifab as much as I should have lately, mostly because I usually do it during spare lunchtimes at work. We're pretty busy, so I haven't had many of them lately, and when I have I've usually decided to actually get out of the office and enjoy the decent weather instead of staying inside and doing more typing to no great artistic effect.
Plus I haven't been doing much outside of work to warrant a record for posterity. Most of my evenings and weekends lately have been fully occupied with working my way through five seasons of Babylon 5 with Fiona, who's never seen them in order before. I've watched the whole series through about three times (and individual seasons a couple more) so I have few new insights of any note except the following: Exogenesis, Ship of Tears and Racing Mars aren't quite as bad as I remember them, and Gray 17 is Missing and A Late Delivery from Avalon are worse. And to my great surprise, not every single Season 5 scene with Byron in it makes me want to hurl things at the TV (but most of them do).
After years of flirting with trivia competitions and other avenues for showing off the breadth of my worthless knowledge in all fields except those pertaining to any sport and Australian political history, Fiona's work trivia night on Friday finally saw me actually win something. We came third, and were duly rewarded with chocolates. I was particularly proud of some profoundly uninformed guesses that turned out to be right, although it was a little embarrassing for my geek credentials that I thought a picture of April O'Neal from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon was "maybe one of the chicks from Star Blazers?" Ah well, not to worry. The important thing was that we got chocolate.
Saturday night we had another one of our fabulous wedding-cutlery-and-crockery-and-four-courses-and-buckets-of-wine dinner parties for Kath and Hector and Brenda and Soozie. Part of the occasion was to congratulate her on (finally) turning in her thesis (don't ask me what it was about, something genetic and botanical, I think). Also we had to get it before Brenda and Soozie disappear over to Europe for six weeks of riding motorbikes around various Italian-Austrian Alps. Bastards.
Much fun was had. All courses successful. Ate and drank too much as usual. May well have been primary contributing factor to current condition...
Multiple celebration day
Yesterday was Father's Day, but rather more importantly it was also Mum and Dad's 35th wedding anniversary. It's never seemed all that remarkable to me that they should still be together and happy after all this time, but Fiona keeps reminding me that her family experience is very different, with separation, divorces and so on. I have quite a few friends whose parents have divorced, and several whose marriages have been rocky at least.
If my head wasn't swimming with near-delirium, I imagine that I would be able to take a better stab at explaining how grateful I am to have them as parents and thanking them for the wonderful example they set raising three loud, expensive and troublesome boys.
Love you, Mum and Dad.
(Even if I didn't actually get you anything this year, mainly because you didn't manage to instill in your children the elusive and miraculous power of insight that would help us choose presents that you would actually like).
Screw this for a joke
I just had a fifteen minute conversation with a colleague of which I did not understand one single word, and managed to hear maybe one word in three. I'm going home.
Monday, September 01, 2003
Meagan's made it back from her intrepid overseas venture, looking none the worse for wear in spite of the heat and humidity, a horde of uncooperative animals, the general lack of familiarity with road rules of the average Hong Kong driver and a variety of SARS distribution centres (or airports, as they used to be known).
It's official that she is now heading back to Tassie in November, after she's finished painting Brenda's place. So if you need her to, oh, say, fix your car or watch tens of thousands of hours of Japanese anime with you, now's the time to call...