Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Would you buy a house from this man?
We're officially in the property sales business as of this morning, with our house now appearing on Allhomes.com.au. Now all we have to do is sit back and wait for the buyers to be enticed by the "modern designer colour scheme"...
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
What I Did On My Weekend, by Lexifab
I might as well just come out and admit that I only ever find the time to update this blog at work, and generally only in the first couple of days of the week when I am unmotivated to knuckle down and do what I'm paid for. So, in that enlightened spirit, here's what I got up to in the past few days:
- First thing I did on Saturday morning, I went and had my first "real" haircut in about twelve years. The ponytail's gone, replaced with a wave of floppy spikes on top and shortish curls at the back. It still freaks me out every time I look in the mirror.
- Fi and I spent the rest of Saturday looking at about a dozen open houses, seeing some with potential and many with none, but nothing that really gave us a reason to call the banks first think this morning. We have decided that we will accelerate the house-selling program, though, simply because having the cash in hand will put us in a better buying position. As I understand it.
- Saturday night we visited ChrisT and linbot along with magicdog and der Simonster (anyone here not have a kewl virtual name? Apart from Fiona, I mean?). We ate sushi, we watched Iron Chef (which this week featured a guy cutting tuna steaks with I-kin-you-not a fucking sword, and another guy who grilled tuna eyeballs and served it to people, because he isIron Chef Michiba and if he says you eat grilled eyeballs then that's what you goddamn eat), we watched anime of sorts and drank beer and chatted. It was pretty damned amiable. Ted's leaving the country in April or May, which will be kind of sad, but his little monkey heart burns for the uber-bustle and shiny lights of Tokyo, so who are we to stand in his way?
- House: The Cleaning
- Sunday we gardened. And gardened. And gardened some more. We actually thought that it wouldn't take all that long to clean up the outside of the house, but - would you believe it - we were wrong. My new hairless neck became sunburned and glowy, and now I have blisters on my fingers because I don't use the hedge clippers that often...
- CanCon: Little more than an afterthought
- More to visit the stalls that with any real intention (or time) for gaming, Chris and Simon and I made a quick lunchtime detour to CanCon to check out the roleplaying scene. Okay, so we already knew there was no gaming scheduled, but we figured there would be the odd little pickup session happening around the place and we had half-formed plans to shake a few hands and see if we couldn't find a couple of recruits to swell the numbers for our Thursday night games (which we will need in order to keep it alive during their respective overseas holidays this year). Cancon, as you may or may not know, was as recently as the mid-90's the premier roleplaying convention in Australia, attended by hundreds of roleplayers from around the country (including our various selves, travelling all the way from Townsville on several occasions). In those days it was a grand affair, attracting inventive and fun gamers and designers from all corners, enjoying a number of exciting events and boasting cool guests (including Terry Pratchett, Greg Stafford, both of whom I got to game with...).
So what was the roleplaying action at CC 2004, tucked away in the upstairs lounge? One lousy game. Three guys playing a dungeon crawl and a fourth reading a Player's Handbook, obviously for the first time in his life. We were offered a chance to sit in, but instead we wrote down a contact number and beat an o'er-hasty retreat, lest the taint of Fallen Greatness besmirch us too.
But I did get a sweet deal on the Imperial Lunar Handbook for HeroQuest, so it wasn't a total waste.
- Later on Sunday...
- Once the garden was finished, we started cleaning the kitchen. If there is a fouler job in this whole world than cleaning dirty ovens, I don't want to know about it.
- And then on Monday...
- Guess how we spent the Australia Day holiday? More cleaning. Kitchen walls and cupboards. It doesn't sound like much, but it was a pretty busy morning trying to get everything washed down before Sonnie and Billie and Flynn arrived to carry me off to...
- The Zoo
- Canberra, as it turns out, has a pretty good zoo and aquarium. Especially if you like big cats, as I do. We went at midday, which is when pretty much everything except the monkeys and the fish are lying around doing as little as possible. And Flynn, being a two year old, was hyper-excited and needed constant new stimulation in order to avoid boredom (which leads to crankiness, which leads to suffering), so we didn't get a close look at much of anything. And the otters were nowhere to be seen, the little bastards. But apart from the fact that it was more an exercise in physical endurance than thoughtful contemplation, it was a fun trip. Flynn liked the monkeys, the emus and the big blue fish (a half-tonne maori wrasse with a penchant for showmanship).
- More housework
- The reason for the frenzy of primping and preening of the house was that the photographer for the CanReps house sales web site was coming at 4 pm. We finished with about six minutes to spare. He arrived, gave us some good advice (like offer to take the trailerload of garbage in the neighbours' frontyard to the dump for them so that prospective buyers are not scared off. While we took his point, I do think that it's better than the three to four half-finished cars that are usually sitting in their yard) and then snapped some shots. It should be up on the Allhomes.com website before the end of the week, at which point we are officially On Sale.
- And then, late last night...
- We played indoor cricket. Honestly, if it hadn't been Jasper's last night before he goes back to Sydney, I'd probably have piked altogether. As it was, I batted like I was already asleep and bowled two incredibly good overs that still went for thirty runs and no wickets. Sigh. But at least we won for the first time in about ten games, so that was a nice sendoff for Jaz.
- And then, late late last night...
- I played NeverWinter Nights for about and hour and a half, while I cooled down from cricket (it's impossible to sleep straight after a game, I've found). Killed me a lot of bugbears and trolls, you betcha.
- And now?
- I'm tired. I could really use a day off, and with luck I'll be able to take one tomorrow to watch the Prime Minister's XI cricket match (Australia vs India) at Manuka Oval. But I just don't know yet whether I will be able to manage it. There's a lot to do at work. So look, I'd better go and actually do it, otherwise I'm going to be trapped here forever...
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Hmm, Lexifab is going through another dry patch, I see. Much too much work at the moment to steal much time to blog at work, and much too tired afterwards to do it from home.
Stuff's going on
Excuses aside, it's not as if there isn't plenty of stuff actually happening:
- Bad Teeth - Fiona's got a wisdom tooth coming through which looks like it wants to take out one of its neighbours. She's being in pain for a week and today she's going to the dentist, which just means she's going to be in more pain. Hopefully not for too much longer though.
- New House - We spoke to a mortgage broker yesterday who, amongst other things, assured us that our current income and equity situation is sufficiently sound that we can basically go out and look for another house without necessarily having to wait for our current house to sell. So as of this weekend we will go back to looking for Our Real House, as we like to call it. In the meantime we're doing all sorts of financially-responsible stuff like writing wills and organising various kinds of insurance and so forth, which is necessary preparation for going into the kind of debt where death would actually be an even bigger pain in the arse than it is already.
- Cricket - Going nicely, thanks. Okay, so you didn't ask, but there you are. Now you know.
- Family - Dad's a bit up and down at the moment, and Mum isn't getting as many hours work as she wants. On the plus side, their place actually looks green at the moment, thanks to tonnes and tonnes of rain. Sonnie and Billie and Flynn are visiting Canberra at the moment, so we had a nice dinner party on Saturday night. They're around for a few weeks, so I get added bonus Bonding Time with The Golden Nephew. He's really that good, yes.
- More Marshes - Two of my cousins had babies in the past fortnight. The middle two Marsh sisters - Marney and Rebecca - and damn me if I haven't already forgotten the babies' names. Both girls, I'm pretty sure.
- CanCon - Crap. I told myself I was actually going to go and play games at CanCon this year, but I've just realised that it's on this weekend and I am pretty much fully booked. Crap. I don't quite understand how I can continue to be near-constantly obsessed with roleplaying and still not actually do any gaming (Alastair's game aside, which I should really drop out of because I don't enjoy it that much). Crap. (Actually, CanCon is really only about the wargaming and cardgaming these days, neither of which interests me at all, but there's the odd bit of RPG on offer which I really did plan to check out, if only to meet some new gamer types. Maybe after the cricket season is over I should go back and see if there are any real humans at the Uni club...)
Today's example of genius being sprayed worthlessly about the internet (This isn't a direct link, so you may need to look in the Archives for the entry "What is 'The Coop'?").
Friday, January 16, 2004
Not at all the best day ever
Yesterday put my week of low-grade whining about how much I didn't want to be at work into pretty brutal perspective. One of the members of my team had to leave just after lunch because her brother had been rushed to intensive care with meningococcal septicaemia. Six hours later he was dead.
Tamara is back at work today, trying to hold it together by sticking to her normal routine and trying to find a place to be where she can avoid the sympathetic crowds at home. I suspect it won't work for long. That's too much in too short a time to keep your equilibrium, and that's before you look at how chaotic and frustrating the actual work is at the moment. One of our other coworkers has offered to take her out to her farm for a couple of days and that sounds like a much better plan to me.
I spent a pretty sleepless night worrying (I didn't know that he hadn't made it until I arrived this morning). I worried that he might not live. I worried that he might live but suffer major debilitation. I worried that the infection might spread (and I actively suppressed the medically unlikely but still nagging possibility that she was herself infectious and had unknowingly brought it to work). I (selfishly) worried that I wouldn't be able to manage our combined workloads and beat myself up with semi-valid self-recrimination that I have wholly ignored all the contract negotiation stuff and might now have to scurry to pick it up.
Yes, most of the fretting was self-centred. I'm guessing that most people confronted directly or indirectly with sudden death will spend an awful lot of time privately commiserating about their own inconvenience rather than someone else's real pain.
I had more I was going to write about that but it's been a long day.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Back to work this week, and the aforementioned have hit hard. After spending three very busy weeks away from the place, it's been pretty difficult to get the gears rotating back up (or down) to Work Speed. All the jobs that were left hanging in the last-minute frenzy to get the hell out of here at the end of last year are, unsurprisingly, still hanging, and there's various added bonus pains around. In the ordinary course of events, these wouldn't be anything particularly troublesome, but to my want-to-be-anywhere-but-here mindset, they're impassable mountains, uncrossable rivers, bloody great molehills of an offputting magnitude indeed.
Soon I will not doubt return to the contented tedium of my regular working life (except for The New Obsession, see below) but right at the moment its a goddamn monster effort getting out of bed of a morning.
That was a holiday?
Okay, so Xmas and New Year have come and gone. Fiona and I travelled north to Tweed Heads to visit Ian, Sonia, Jimbo and Flynn (not to mention Printy and Manson and Norbet the Deaf Staffy, who is adorable and thick). The first week or so was pretty relaxing, doing the Christmas family thing and doting on the nephew and watching videos and playing frisbee and generally relaxing. All quite normal.
Then we went up to Ev's new unit in Brisbane and helped him paint his living room. Three days of washing, prepping, painting and sanding. Dirty, tiring, hard work, and probably the best, most satisfying part of the holiday. The place came up a treat and looks, oh, I don't know, about a million times better. After we saw what the new colours looked like, we renamed the old paint colour "Misery" and agreed that it must be scourged from the sight of mankind. Bleah.
As an added bonus, Jill was in town, so we went out with her to dinner and a show. The show, as a matter of fact, was put on by Evan and his friend Owen, a little acoustic guitar gig in a small (no, really, it was tiny) place in Fortitude Valley. It was a really good night. Jill looked fabulous (yachting is obviously good exercise) and seems really to be doing fine in her apres-Cory life. She made kinda-sorta speculations about maybe moving to Brisbane sometime in the near or distant future, which would be nice because we hardly ever get to see her otherwise, but it sounds like she's too fond of Perth to pack up and relocate just yet.
Ev was pretty down for most of the time we were there, but he had certainly turned a corner by the last day. I put it down to the good company and the fact that he was no longer enclosed from all sides by Misery (it really was a dismal colour). We got a letter from him on Monday and he's sounding very positive, so cool. He's in Melbourne with his mum and sister at the moment, and when he gets back, I must remind myself to nag him to finish working on his kitchen. We've also made a mutual "finish the novel by the time the Olympics start" pact. Well, it was the time of the year for making implausible-sounding resolutions, wasn't it?
After another couple of days in Tweed, we came home (picking the absolute worst conceivable day of the year for southbound travel on the Pacific Highway - it took about four hours longer than usual thanks to traffic backed up roughly 80 kilometers) and started work on the house. It didn't sound like much - bit of garden work here, a bit of wall washing and paint patching there, clean the shed...
It was a tough week. I kept saying (quite humourously, you understand) that I was looking forward to getting back to work so I could get some rest and take it easy. Well, that particularly lame joke was on me, because now here I am back and I am already catching myself daydreaming about sanding and painting. Very disturbing.
Still, the house is looking great and it's nearly ready to go on the market. We still have to do the odd bit of research and we are not sure whether we should talk to an accountant or someone before we start (my guess is, if you're unsure, then you probably do need to talk to an accountant, and if you are sure, then you probably really need to talk to an accountant). But anyway, sooner or later (late January, early Feb) the house will be adorned with For Sale signs...
So, to the latest obsession
No, it's not cricket (that's an old one I still have) or Geena Davis or Jennifer Connelly (ditto). It's property investment, believe it or not. My barely-suppressed pathological aversion to my chosen career, plus the clear and indisputable fact that the likelihood of becoming rich through good fortune is vanishingly remote, have led me to conclude that if Fiona and I are to become gentlefolk of leisure, travelling the world in idle luxury and drinking champagne on yachts (no, wait, that's Charlene, who I imagine is even now being undressed by kings and seeing some things that...but I digress), we're going to have to be, like, pretty rich.
I understand that the best way to achieve this with no real money of one's own is to borrow a lot of someone else's, buy something that gets more valuable over time (as opposed to yachts and champagne) and then live off the money a third part pays you to use that thing to live in. Residential property, as these expert fellows are calling it.
Ev got me started on this kick, by recently becoming a wealthy landowner himself (er, well...). We started talk about the prospects of getting together a little property-buying syndicate, and as of the last few days I've started doing some actual research. On the surface it looks like the real secret is to just not be afraid to be massively, overwhelmingly in debt, provided it's a debt you can actually keep making interest payments on. This sounds pretty scary, but I have to admit the upside - owning millions of dollars of property which gets constantly more valuable - is pretty attractive.
Anyway, it's early days yet and Fiona and I won't be doing anything at all with the idea until we are comfortably settled into our new home (wherever that might be). So I've got plenty of time yet to lose interested, become disenchanted about future financial security and go back to imagining playing a straight bat to Jennifer Connelly's looping off spinners.