Tuesday, March 30, 2004
It appears that the certificates of compliance for the new house do, in fact exist, and the vendors have now located them. Assuming they are not shameless forgeries, we will be going ahead with the house purchase as of lunch tomorrow, when we sign the contracts for exchange. From here on in it will be a whirlwind of builders, electricians, plumbers, moving days, painting days, discovery-of-rotten-wombat-carcass-under-the-floorboards days, and whatever other joys newly-owned houses may offer.
We've both been unspeakably slack. Despite having a calendar marked with the birthdays of everyone we've ever met, Fiona and I have each managed to overcome meticulous forewarning and preparation to stylishly forget at least one birthday in the past week (and probably more - I know that Nola's got past me a couple of weeks ago as well. Sorry!). In my case, it was Sonia, for which I expect to come a deserved beating when I finally get around to calling her tonight, four days late. I will say only in my defence that I went straight from work to a D&D game that ended at three in the morning, so even if I had remembered, I'd still have missed calling on the day.
In Fiona's case it was Niall's birthday. As one of the few people I know who takes his birthday remotely seriously (he glories in the attention, you see, all the more so when it's an official occasion), I was rather surprised to discover that he would let (both of) his big sisters get away with forgetting it. He must have been busy.
Dammit, you're not listening! I don't want moreresponsibility!
Work has been plunged into chaos with an Executive decision to roll all of the Agency's current IT development projects back under one management umbrella i.e. ours. This simple expediency (which candidly could more usefully have come six months ago) has underlined a bitter simmering feud between various management factions, including ours, which would be all well and dandy and highly amusing if we did not now have to work in close cooperation with the same people we've been systematically undermining, dogging, blocking and otherwise inconveniencing for the better part of a year. Oh, bitter irony.
(By the way, you can tell, can't you, that I'm only making these pointed criticisms because I wasn't personally involved in causing or exacerbating said rancour, right?)
Anyway, the apparent upshot will be that we have more work and therefore I will have more responsibility. On the plus side, this means that I will be paid even more money. On the extreme downward face, I will be responsible not only for bringing a completely different project to fruition, but also for rebuilding the bridges my colleagues have been so efficiently torching like a crazed but surprisingly methodical mob.
Thursday, March 25, 2004
Happy birthday Mista Dean
It's Ev's birthday, y'all. He's the man. He's put the band back together and once again he rocks in an entirely official capacity. What am I talking about? I dunno, I'm just delirious with awe for this guy. Oh yeah.
Flying south for the winter
Big news this week is that Ian, Sonia, Flynn and Norbet the Deaf Staffy are moving to Canberra earlier than expected, and should be here by the end of April. Son is starting at Quarantine in the first week of May, and Ian's busy filling out applications for relief teaching work. The baby is, apparently, mentioning my name on a daily basis (Dave's status: favourite uncle! Take that, Yimmy!). I don't know about Norbet, but it's hard to imagine he's not running into thing in all the excitement.
The next couple of months are shaping up as a complicated logistical juggling act, with Jimbo moving back sometime in the next couple of weeks, the house and therefore accommodation situations still a bit uncertain (see below), and with all of us having to return to Brisbane in late May for our cousin Susan's (aka Frog) wedding. At least it should be easier to work on the gags for Ian's MC'ing gig if we're all in the same place and our wives ca glare at us until we get it done.
So is it habitable or not?
Still nothing back on the compliance and surveyor's reports yet, which is a bit worrying. The former, at least, was only supposed to take a couple of days to complete. I'm a little concerned that the lack of news is not entirely a good sign.
In terms of selling our place, we've pushed our Saturday open houses back to mid-afternoon to give us time to visit kitchen renovation showrooms in the morning and still clean the place. Last Saturday we actually had some reasonably positive feedback, though it was hard to tell whether it was entirely sincere, as the visitor in question had worked with Fiona at the ACCC, and might therefore just have felt obliged to make encouraging sounds. Certainly we haven't heard anything yet, but then we dithered about before we started sounding very serious about the Ainslie place as well. We've since discovered that our place is among the least expensive on offer in our suburb now, which ought to improve our prospects - assuming there are any buyers interested in this area to start with. We remain upbeat, despite the theft of one of our "House Open" signs last weekend...
In the meantime, Fiona's paint swatch experimentation has continued to evolve the kitchen (and by extension the rest of the house) through a range of colour schemes and now appears to have settled somewhere in the vicinity of yellows, plums and greys. As soon as the viability of our buying the place is established, we'll march an army of designers in to quote on supplying us with the kitchen renovation of our (cheaper) dreams.
It's still Christmas somewhere, right?
We're finally getting around to spending the CD voucher Linda gave us for Christmas. For the (unnecessary) record, we will be buying George's new album Unity, and the one by Ani di Franco that has Untouchable Face on it, which I've forgotten the name of.
We've ordered our digital camera, using up our accumulated credit card award points before we switch to an entirely different bank. Now it remains to be seen whether we have the patience to learn how to use its approximately 10,000,000 features, or if we'll just point it and press the button once in a while.
Friday, March 19, 2004
A Short List of Stuff I Want
In an attempt to escape my desk of a lunch hour, at least once a week I stroll into the city centre (all of thirty metres away) and peruse a few favourite shops - Logical Choice (games), Impact Records (CDs, comics), Revolution CD (new and used DVDs, CDs and computer games). But now that Fiona and I are attempting a new age of Austerity and Commonsense, I am morally obliged to forcibly throttle my consumerist impulses. So instead I am cultivating my window-shopping prowess, and amusing myself instead in consideration of Stuff I Want:
DVDs - The Firefly collected set (assuming it is ever released in this country, though presumably the odds have improved with the announcement that a feature film version is on its way). All four seasons of Futurama. Pirates of the Caribbean. Master and Commander. Buffy Season 7 and Angel Season 4 (but I can totally wait until the price comes down). Many, many other things (these are just the ones I have an almost overpowering urge to throw cash at.
CDs - More Bowie. More Tom Waits. Fortunately I have this particular compulsion relatively under control, and generally only ever want to accumulate the works of one or two artists at any given time, rather than...well, everyone (not naming any names, here).
Comics - There's new volumes of Strangers in Paradise and Amazing Spider-Man out. I don't own any of the Sin City trades yet. And look, there's more Planetary and For Queen and Country and Authority and Powers and... Damn. I could easily spend $400 at Impact and still not walk away with everything I want. One day I am totally treating myself to a mad splurge in there...
Games - Nearly have this under control, too, thanks to the large number of games I already have that I'm not playing. Even so, there's no shortage of stuff I would like to poke around with, from the revised D&D to HeroQuest supplements, Exalted, and...and...and...oh, I forgot all the computer games I want, like Temple of Elemental Evil and Warcraft: Frozen Throne and Knights of the Old Republic and NWN: Hordes of the Underdark and Unreal Tournament 2004 and...gak! Stop it!
Stupid id. (Or is it one of the others that make you irrationally want stuff? Whatever...)
Note that I am in no way fishing for gifts here. This is purely for my own distraction.
Gifts are, needless to add, always welcome.
Which reminds me to again lavish praise on their Armidalic Majesties, Chris and Amanda, for loading me up with extra helpings of Neverwinterly goodness. Rather than whine about stuff I don't own, I should be knuckling down and bashing my way through stuff I already have, shouldn't I?
There's a snag. No, not a sausage, nor a thoughtful man who knows his star signs. This is an old-fashioned "Oh bugger" problemo. Our solicitor has informed us that the vendors' solicitors have tendered a contract with all of the usual clauses about compliance with local building statutes crossed out. Which is a big warning sign that reads either "We don't know whether the house extensions are approved" or "We know they're not approved". Either way, if it's going to cost us a fortune or several months to get council approval, it could be a deal-breaker.
We've ordered compliance checks and a surveyor's report (because, you know, if the extensions aren't legal, then there's a good chance that the garage isn't either, and if it isn't within the legal bounds of the property - often the case with unapproved structures - then that could also cost us a bundle later on). Needless to say, we didn't sign any contracts yesterday.
We're not giving up hope, of course, but there's that slight sinking feeling starting to creep in that maybe we just threw away a few thousand dollars in deposits, building and pest reports etc etc and will have nothing to show for it. Intellectually it's sensible to weigh that against the rather more significant sinking feeling that would appear if we bought an absolute money-pit turkey-shed, but my insufferable little inner consumer keeps reminding me how many books, DVD's and other unnecessary trifles we could have had for the same money.
Shut up, impious voice! I don't have to listen to you even if the Pirates of the Caribbean two-disc special edition did come out this week!
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Edited highlights, if you can call it that
No real time to do a proper update, but I hate letting Lexifab go for more than a week without putting something in here (and that's enough from you wags at the back, pointing out how long it's been since I promised another chapter of the Attempted Novel. Just let it go...) so here's some more of the patented Dot Points.
- Very long weekend
- Last weekend was a long weekend for Canberra Day (why they had the Canberra Show three weekends earlier is still mystifying, and I suspect I can never become a true Canberra until I understand and appreciate such esoterica). Fi and I were babysitting her dad's house, step-daughter and dog, not necessarily in that order of priority. It was kind of awkward, not least because it's on the other side of town and we still had our usual weekend routine (cleaning, open house, visiting kitchen shops, weekly grocery shopping) to accomplish, in addition to ferrying Tori to and from work. Lots of cross-town travel, little time for relaxation. We called it quits early on the Monday and escaped home, but it was still not the lazy long weekend we might have hoped for.
- Another serious case of them on Tuesday and Wednesday, manifesting as occasional nausea and a committed and passionate desire not to be weighed down with the burden of paid employment. I feel better today. Or rather, I feel otherwise, since I quietly assume my natural state to be one of fundamental opposition to the concept of working for a living.
- My life as a cricket captain
- Part of the stress comes from the agony of trying to get a team together for this weekend's game against the "Sri Lankans" (still no clue as to who these SL's might be affiliated with - best guess is that they're either from the High Commission or some Australia-Sri Lanka Friendly Society). Everyone on the team is otherwise committed or is in serious post-cricket-season mode, leaving me to range wider afield to get the requisite XI. It looks like it's coming together today, but I have a gnawing fear of last-minute no-shows which is causing me more tension than I need at the moment. The game itself ought to be a breeze in comparison.
- We still own a house
- Unfortunately. Still no offers, or signs of an offer. I mean, we're borrowing enough to cover the additional mortgage repayments for six months or so, but life would be so very much easier and less expensive if we could just get a buyer in and settle the sale and purchase of the respective houses simultaneously. Time's starting to run out for that magic event to happen, though, which means that we're likely up for the more uncomfortably costly option. Sigh. We're signing the contract with our solicitors this afternoon, so at least on the purchase side of the ledger things are moving smoothly.
- The colours! I can taste the colours!
- Fi's been playing with several kilos of paint swatches and laminate samples in her implacable search for the perfect colour combinations for the kitchen and, by extension, the rest of the house. It will be bright. No, wait, make that BRIGHT! She likes her colour. Me, I'm amiable, as long as the kitchen has all the cool appliances I want (all of which, after several window shopping expeditions, we have now chosen precise makes and models) and the living room has comfy couches. Now we really need to get back into the house and measure the available space, get builders in to give us quotes on ripping out walls and installing the kitchen and our new bedroom. Unfortunately, much as we might like to get all of that done as soon as possible, we're rather constrained by the sale of our house. the longer it takes, the more of the loan we will have to use on extra mortgage repayments and the less will be left over for expensive renovations. It's a balancing act.
Friday, March 12, 2004
Uh, where did the week go?
In many ways it's been a horribly trying and arduous week, but in spite of that it still seems to have passed by in a blur (possibly something strident and staticky from the 13 album). Work, in particular, has been a bureaucratic nightmare of bitter office politics, confusing technical discussions and repetitive administrative busywork made worse by my decision on Monday to cut out my automatic morning half-litre cappuccino. I have been mildly cranky and headachy all week as a result. This has only served to reinforce my determination not to drink it, because I resent being forced to cave in to my addiction by mild but constant reminders.
Perversely, this morning I felt fine, so I went and got a coffee. I think, in retrospect, that I may have been blindsided by the addiction adopting new tactics...
I beg your pardon - what did you just call me?
Adding to the tension, I have been elected more or less at random as the next captain of the AusAID cricket team. This is at best a mixed honour, seeing as my selection was based more on the fact that I am willing to do the necessary administrative tasks than on the basis of any competence as a tactician or leader. Also, several better qualified candidates either don't want the job or are so strongly disliked by some or all of their fellow players that to choose them would result in some violent uprising or acrimonious schism.
But as my predecessor Gus points out, poisoned chalice or not, at least this way I can make sure I get a bowl every game.
Amanda and Chris have very kindly donated me a spare copy of the Neverwinter Nights expansion, Shadows of Undrentide (no, I have no idea as yet what an Undrentide is - a place, presumably). Hopefully this will accelerate my plans to join in their regular Monday night NWN online games, although I don't know how my forthcoming participation in home renovations will affect that.
But anyway, thanks guys! Thank you thank you thank you! It's a wonderful surprise and I look forward to many happy house of getting the crap kicked out of me by umber hulks and dwarves with ridiculous accents.
So this is supposed to be some sort of reward?
So I gather that the banks are revising their position of credit card rewards schemes, so that now you have to spend up to twice as much to get reward points which can be exchanged for goods and services (cheap flights etc etc). Fi and I have been ruthlessly spending as much as we can through our credit cards for the past two years in the distant hope of being able to make our plans for a European holiday (somewhere in the theoretical future) a little cheaper. Now it looks as though between the reduced rate of point accumulation and the increased fees for the privilege of being in said scheme, that particular dream is now not remotely achievable. Damn.
Instead, we're going to blow our current load of points on something cool which we might never otherwise buy for ourselves. Our first thought is to get a digital camera, but they only offer a limited range through the rewards scheme, and the only one I've been able to check out so far has not exactly had sterling reviews. More research required. If the camera doesn't work out, Plan B is to blow it all on restocking the wine "cellar", which is tragically depleted at present.
Which reminds me - the new house doesn't have a cool dark storage area for cramming lots of bottle of wine. Horrible design flaw in a Canberra home, if you ask me. Must rectify that immediately.
Sunday, March 07, 2004
The new kitchen
After yesterday's open house (still no bites, but hope abides) we went on a tour of Canberra's havens of industry and porn, Mitchell and Fyshwick, looking for kitchen display showrooms. Surprisingly few were open on a Saturday afternoon, odd considering that we're supposed to still be in a housing boom and I would have figured that Saturday afternoon would be the only time most busy public servants would have to go exploring for renovation supplies.
We found a couple that we poked around though, and discovered two things: 1) we still can't and may never be able to afford a kitchen worthy of my talents, let alone my delusions, and 2) virtually every oven available on the market was clearly designed by someone who never had to clean one (we found one - repeat, one - that hinged at the side, in such a way that you could swing the door out of the way in order to scrape and scrub the back panels. I may be willing to pay the extra thousand bucks or so just to have one with a sensible design...)
We're going to arm ourselves with paint and laminex swatches today, and go hit the discount warehouses to see if we can find relatively cheap appliances that will mean we can spend a bit more on the rest of the fixtures. Yay. Shopping.
Hope you're eating right
I haven't been. Further to the bit about cleaning ovens, ever since we did ours for the purposes of having a presentable, saleable house, we haven't wanted to cook anything in it and make a mess that would necessitate cleaning it again. So we've been eating takeout, and sandwiches, and toasted things, and basically garbage. But strangely enough, the novelty has worn off after four or five weeks, so we're resigning ourselves to the likelihood of having to do more cleaning, and going back to preparing our own meals again. Now that we've bought a house, we can't really afford even cheap garbage, anyway.
A secret message from Fiona's teeth
Fiona has to get three wisdom teeth out in April, because some of them are coming through at ramming speed and threatening some sort of mid-gum collision. I never quite realise how extensive the surgery is to get rid of wisdom teeth, though - she'll be getting general anaesthetic and spending a week in bed afterwards. She'll even need constant care for the first couple of days because she won't be able to chew her own food, or something (haven't really absorbed the details of the carer's brochure yet...)
One major details is that she basically has to give up smoking for at least a week either side of the operation, and she's decided that now is the time to try and give it altogether. At which I am all, like, yay. But she's gone pretty much nuts and declared that she will also have to give up coffee and alcohol as well, because those are the things she normally associates with having a fag. And because I am basically a sap, I will also have to give them up in sympathy for some undefined period (probably at least until she is off the nicotine patches...).
Just fair warning in case you're going to see us sometime between April and June - we're probably going to be inexplicably cranky. Make us a power juice or stay out of our way...
Thursday, March 04, 2004
It's official. We're poor now.
The vendors accepted our offer on the house in Ainslie, so our days of low mortgage repayments and the freewheeling purchase of luxury consumer goods like food are now officially behind us. Instead, we can look forward to at least a couple of years of solid renovating, a return to the semi-permanent houseguests (Jimbo and Meagan are both staging dramatic returns to Canberra in order to complete their informal degrees in renovatology and redecoronomy) and actually being able to live with my cats again. Most of these points are things I'm looking forward to, although Fi's quite sus on the cats.
Still no offers on our place, but I have a good feeling that this weekend is going to be the one when everything comes together. Someone will see our place, make an offer on the spot and the pieces will fall into place like a great big scaffolding collapse, but with less screaming. Well, hopefully with less screaming. Certainly it would be nice if the neighbours toned it down.
Mister the ChrisT is off on his Euro 2004 tour today, flying out to sunny (-2 degrees Celsius) Tokyo, and thence to the warn embrace of London (-5 degrees Celsius). Apart from the dubious weather prospects (did I mention he's also planning to visit Iceland?) it should be a fab little excursion. Lucky bastard.
What, me manage?
So Monday and Tuesday I went to a course to learn how to be a better manager. Not that I'm any kind of a manager now, nor have I ever wanted to be (I don't think that I can be trusted with even a little bit of power, and I'm betting there are a lot of people reading this who would be inclined to agree). But all the same the course has been very useful in helping me identify my work preferences and how I should be dealing with my own...uh, lack of a consistent work ethic (exemplified by writing blogs when I should be writing a contract).
But I still don't want to be a manager. I wanna be a rich retiree...
The big bludge
While we've been trying to sell the house, we haven't been cooking for ourselves much, because frankly we never want to have to clean that sodding oven again (and the oven in our next house will be specifically chosen on the basis of how easy it is to clean). Anyway, the lack of need to prepare meals and clean up afterwards of late has been like a big dreamy holiday, but lately it's been hard to even work up the energy to do anything constructive at all after work. Vegetating in front of the television or trying to beat the final Undead stage in WarCraft III (I hate the timed mission stages. One of them's what killed my interest in StarCraft as well) just seem like better ideas than writing anything or mixing Spit tracks or even prepping for gaming.
I know what's going to happen though - I'm suddenly going to get a big burst of enthusiasm for one or more of the above projects at the same time as all my leisure time disappears into the great sinkhole of fixing-up-the-new-house. Gah! Need to get my shit together. I promised Ev I'd have a finished novel by the start of the Olympics, and right now six months is sounding pretty damn soon...