Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.
August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004]
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
First, a recommendation. Dive over to The Jonathan Day Fiction Site and try some of the stories. I love this author's writing - it's funny, bitingly witty, dryly incisive, chilling, and deliciously subversive by turns. Absolutely well worth a look!
Thursday, January 03, 2019
Kai transformed him for me yesterday...
The quality is extraordinary. The lower jaw on all the four supplied faces opens and closes, so he can show his fangs, and the eyes of the velociraptor (alt. mode) can be switched from wide open to squinting. (The face I chose has his trademark smirk, which makes me chuckle.) And yes, he has two thumbs on each hand.
SO chuffed! He has pride of place in the right hand display case - will get a photo when the light is better - so I only have to turn my head a little to see him.
Took Kai over an hour to do. You can see the process in the Youtube video if you're interested, but the person doing it there is a lot faster and has obviously done this before!
Tuesday, January 01, 2019
All in all 2018 was an interesting year...
I had my first solo break in forever at a Napoleonic fort in a part of Cornwall I'd never visited, which, even though cut short by two days by the Beast from the East, was wonderfully relaxing and fun. And of course it introduced me to the sheer joy of sleeping on a memory foam bed. (Our Casper mattress is still going strong and still allowing me the best sleep I've ever had.)
We had the window installation completed. So warm now!
The appallingly hot summer was not kind to my greenhouse plants: have now bought shading to put up if/when it happens again.
Took refresher driving lessons, bought a car, and had a drive (half)built.
Had a real shower installed and the bathroom tiled and decorated (though they still haven't fixed the shower curtain rail. Beyond a joke now...)
Had a snazzy new house alarm system installed. Motion detectors instead of door and window catches - much more efficient.
Finished redecorating the hall/stairwell/landing, and Ken has stripped all the layers of paint from the top banister. The wood underneath is actually gorgeous, quite dark but with a lighter grain that looks like feathers - very pretty. All that's left now is Ken's room (repainting and putting up a wall-full of shelves, then getting rid of the mismatched cheap bookcases), and the kitchen, which will be the last to be done as my old gas cooker is now playing up and will need replacing before next Yuletide. Seen what I want - AEG induction cooker (German of course, any of these will do nicely!) - and I want a cooker hood too, to cut down on the smells of cooking. Will need to be properly installed by someone qualified to disconnect the gas supply to the old one: the whole thing is going to be a little pricey but worth it.
And ended up with a great new washing machine (will be using for the first time tomorrow).
Actually not too bad for a year's improvements.
So, to do this year - get the kerb dropped (and Fixit sorted), get the shower curtain rail fixed, the old asbestos downpipe replaced, new flooring/carpeting laid, new cooker installed and kitchen redecorated, Ken's room sorted, and the garden a little more organised. All a lot less urgent than last year's goals (not to mention less expensive!) so I anticipate actually being able to make time to write.
Fingers crossed, anyway...
The London fireworks last night were as usual glorious. Yakuza Apocalypse is completely bonkers. Doctor Who this evening was... good I suppose, although it was the f%$*&g Daleks (again) and I really really hate them. I never found them frightening, not in the 60's and not now. You'd have thought they'd have taken the opportunity to redesign the damn things into something a lot more sleek and effective, but nooooo, we're stuck with that clunky, stupid, inefficient pepperpot look... GAH!
[grump] Anyway. Hope everyone's Yuletide went very well and you all start 2019 with optimism and hope.
Sunday, December 30, 2018
Later edit: washing machine delivered and installed - Kai currently adjusting the feet so it's level. It's very nice, and A+++ rating. Chuffed we are!
New Year's resolution - try to update more than once a month...
Currently waiting for the new washing machine to be delivered. The old one started making the most horrendous noise and vibrations to shake the kitchen apart on the spin cycle, but then again, we've had it for a good ten years and it gets used at least twice a week, so it's done us proud. Bosch make. I do like German engineering. The replacement's a Bosch too. Hope the quality's the same as it used to be!
So, happenings since I last posted. I finally had to fire the cowboys from Fixit, twelve weeks after they started the job: now waiting for A & G Surfacing to get back to me with a date for the kerb to be dropped. Will update on action against Fixit as and when I can: first priority is to get Derpy safely on to the drive.
Kim and I went out to Congresbury Garden Centre. They were setting up their Yuletide decorations - including these...
... life-sized reindeer heads that sang carols a cappella. The heads moved from side to side and the mouths and eyes opened and closed as they sang. Impressive - and creepy.
GoodTwin and Sue visited before Yule to exchange gifts (many thanks!) and we had much fun with several new quizzes and catching up on all the news.
The 25th was pretty low-key, with presents, chocolates, films and food. Dawn came over on Boxing Day for a Japanese-themed day, with My Neighbour Tortoro and Space Battleship Yamato (the former went down well, the latter less so), and sushi and yakitori chicken for lunch, chicken with chestnuts for dinner (became an instant family favourite, but next time I'll skip the chestnuts). All very enjoyable. And the Oriental supermarket just down from City Hall (where Ken works) is really excellent. Even had instant dashi, and bonito flakes! Going to experiment with a few Japanese recipes in the coming year - getting fed up with making the usual all the time.
Minimal decorations this year, just the tree in the lounge -
And the one on the shelf over the stairwell.
Kai and I finished watching MilleniuM... bit of an odd ending, vaguely dissatisfying. Glad we persevered though. Next up is The Night Manager (reduced price at Sains), which I watched by myself when it was first shown and enjoyed immensely. We've caught up with all the DVDs I found at Westbury back in October except for Yakuza Apocalypse: Kai really enjoyed Aqua Teen Hunger Force (I found it less fun than when I first saw it, unfortunately). Cried my way through A Dog's Purpose (beautiful, beautiful film). And remembered that I collected the complete Primeval (missed half of season three, all of season four, so didn't bother with season five on TV), so that's on the list to watch in the next few months.
Finished redecorating the hall/stairwell/landing. Last job is to strip the paint from the upstairs banister back to the wood, which Ken is doing. It all looks rather nice. Now just Ken's office and the kitchen to do.
No delivery yet. I was up at 6.45: delivery is free if you opt for any time between 7 am and 7 pm. Want to bet they arrive just before 7 this evening?
Friday, November 30, 2018
Taking a break while the first coat of paint dries...
Hectic as ever. Quick run down: -
Health: still coughing and spluttering, but not badly enough to stop me swimming (skipped two weeks because of the bug and really missed it). Kai had venection on the 18th, but his veins refused to co-operate (for the second time ever) so I had to make another appointment for the 25th, which went a little better.
Watching: on the third and last season of MillenniuM now. Still enjoying it, though it's got darker and darker. As usual watching Strictly Come Dancing, which as usual is fun.
Pets: Rosa successfully off to her new home on 12th of this month. She'll be going to a couple who have a good few other tarantulas and are pretty much experts in their care, so I feel happier now. Tyjer is still going strong, though beginning to show his age now, bless 'im - not so fast, and it's not so easy for him to jump up any more. Though he is growing more cuddly in his old age (fell asleep on my lap yesterday evening), which is rather nice.
Car: [sigh] I left her so long when I tried to start her on Monday the battery was completely dead (my own fault, I'd been advised to turn the engine over at least once a week. Blame my feeling lousy for two weeks). Luckily, we'd bought a new, automatic battery charger a few years back, to charge up the battery in Kai's train engine, so (with Kai doing a bit of research online as apparently Renault batteries don't lift out of the car like the old ones used to do, and there are rather more varieties than there used to was...) To my amazement and delight, it only took two and a half hours to charge the battery from completely dead with errors and alarms flashing all over the dashboard to starting with a growly purr and all the indicators back to normal. Beats the overnight charge the Petal took! I did a little gardening while she was recharging (as it had to be done in situ) so we're about ready for a nice small evergreen tree to be planted in the house-ward corner (BND has had work done on his cameras recently and there's now one that looks down on to our drive. Bloody Peeping Tom). As for the drive... Highways confirm the excavation licence was issues on the 22nd of this month. I emailed Fixit yesterday evening and am now waiting for them to get back to me to say when they're coming to finish the work. They're now seven weeks overdue...
House: the hall/stairwell/landing is a little more than half way done now. Planning to finish that lot, at least, by the time GoodTwin and Sue come to visit in a couple of weeks. I think the kitchen will have to wait until after Yule though.
Off to put a second coat on the woodwork. Fingers crossed for a good weekend, all!
Friday, November 09, 2018
Phew! (Later edit)
Tyjer's new perch. Off the cold wet ground and catching the autumnal sun.
My garden is a beautiful array of glorious colours, even on a wet, cold, autumn morning...
All is going well. The excavation licence for the dropped kerb HAS now been applied for, according to Highways, and should be authorised soon.
Watching: we're coming to the end of Millennium season 1 - ye gods it's good! Very disturbing, frightening in places, but a damn fine phenomenon. Ken and I watched Fireflies in the Garden, which is a fine, understated but very well-acted film. Ryan Reynolds continues to surprise, charm and delight. We've also recently watched Little Buddha which is strange but interesting... and Dangerous Liaisons (both to indulge my Keanu Reeves guilty pleasure!): the latter is an amazing film, best described by one of the comments on the IMDb - "Costumes and sets are beautiful. Watch this one if you are in the mood for betrayal, deception and characters that you want to slap."
Ken and I went out to Westbury-on-Trym last week - Ken to visit the library there and me to scour the village's excellent charity shops. Came home with a pile of DVDs - Groundhog Day (haven't seen it in years but Kai likes it and Youtube's Looper recommends it as one of the 8 films to see before you die...), The Light Between Oceans (I like Fassbender's acting), A Dog's Purpose (saving that one for Yule), Green Wing season 2 (for the hell of it), The Story of the Total Eclipse (the 1999 one we saw in Babbacombe), Red Dwarf's Back to Earth (should be fun!), Yakuza Apocalypse (because after Wild Zero I have a hankering for some more Japanese "demented brilliance", as the YA cover says), and Aqua Teen Hunger Force Vol 1. I watched some eps of this on Adult Swim back when we actually had decent cable channels and want to see if it's as insane as I remember it to be...
Celestial Geometry is being printed as a paperback! This is great news. Even better - or possibly worse - is when we were forwarded a letter from a US university member pointing out a truly awful error on page 124 of the hardback: a letter that was sent in Feb 2016!! [sigh] There are very good reasons why we've only just got it but it looks very bad to any outsider...
Anyway - she complained that the caption made no sense, and when we checked she's absolutely right. The correct caption for the pic is:
To our horror, we found that some idiot editor at the publishers had changed it to:
Which is, of course, a cack-handed partial description of lunar ECLIPSES and absolute nonsense when referring to moon phases... Not at ALL happy...
AND it was changed AFTER we'd OKed the final proofs of the book. [headdeskheaddeskheaddesk] The publisher has apologised but has no idea why or how it happened: we've stressed that it needs to be corrected for the paperback: I've written back to our American commenter to apologise and explain. (The upshot is we've asked for her name to be included in the Author Acknowledgements on the last page.)
Oh, and we're rehoming Rosa. I finally just got fed up with being wholly responsible for her. It's been 15 years and she was never my choice of pet in the first place. It'll be a shame to see her go but I want to shed responsibilities at this stage - Ken and Kai agree. I joined the Tarantula Hobbyist Facebook page and posted a general query, and had 19 replies in the first hour! Anyway, a member of the Invicta Arachnid Club (over Kent way) is collecting her next week, so I think I can be sure she's going to a good home.
Lastly, Ambit Security are booked to come and rejig our alarm system in Dec (replacing all the old magnetic catches and fitting motion detectors as well), then in Jan we're having an external camera fitted to watch over the garden (and the fence area specifically. Since BND can't be trusted not to cause more damage to our property, and lies continually about his actions, we have no option but to record what he does, either with the fence paint or anything else). The camera will be standalone (integration with the internet makes hacking a possibility), with its own monitor and a 1 terabyte harddrive (holds about a month's worth of recording before starting over, and sections can be taken off on a pendrive - should do the job).
Oh look. I did manage a proper post anyway! Need a lie down now...
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Interesting. When I headed off to Sains for a small shop this morning, there were yellow painted lines on the pavement and kerb where the drive access is going to be. They weren't there yesterday morning...
About to settle down with caramel lattes and salted caramel cookies to watch Justice League - nice colourful action for a Saturday matineé.
Friday, October 26, 2018
So, two (working) weeks after their last visit, I'd still had no news about the drive's dropped kerb, so I rang Highways again. Surprise surprise, no licence application had been made.
So I sent them an email - text copied here as I'm now keeping a proper public record of events:
Then I rang them to say it had been sent...
Exactly four minutes later I got an email back - "It is all in process". I assume he means progress.
It's the weekend now. I'll ring Highways again on Monday, and if the licence still hasn't been applied for we'll consider firing them and getting someone else to finish the job. Then we'll consider what to do next. Applying for a refund through the small claims court is a possibility, as is making a complaint to Trading Standards. And of course, there's always review sites - not just at bark.com. There's a very useful facebook page called Name and Shame Cowboy Builders which is open to anyone to join and post to.
Will update as events unfold...
Onto more pleasant things... Wendy visited yesterday! Had a fantastic time, as always, and she brought up Deja Vu, which we've never seen but which looks very good - might watch that tomorrow.
It was great to see you again!
Ken and I watch Little Buddha (Kai was working with friends on the uni site so opted out). It's a strange but interesting film. Won't be to everyone's taste, but surprisingly thought-provoking.
I've never mentioned it, but it's always annoyed me that if you want caller number display with VirginMedia you had to pay for it - until just recently, when suddenly I noticed numbers appearing on the screen! It's now been introduced into our area, and it's great. We're being plagued with scam TPS calls at the moment: I'm now making a list of numbers NOT to answer (we could get call blocking but you still have to pay for that. This works fine for now.)
That's probably about it for now. I need to nip over to Tesco, but there's rain forecast for the next couple of hours, and If I'm to use the wheelie, my walking stick and an umbrella I need three hands. Which I don't have, honest... Will wait til after lunch.
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Later edit: - forgot to say I emailed a letter of complaint over the weekend and got a reply back, so at least someone there is tech savvy. Though not overly literate...
11 am bully shows up with two men from the co he uses for licence application - I think he said it was Greentree, which does exist according to the web. No apologies, just 'assurance' that 8 weeks is the absolute maximum it'll take to get the licence. It should be much much quicker for us. Though since I refused outright to shake his hand at the end of the conversation and shut the door on him it'll probably be delayed...
Onto more pleasant matters. Since we no longer have a gate the only house identification were two small, very inconspicuous numbers that we screwed into the wall to the right of the porch when we first bought the house. (There was a number painted in black on a scruffy white patch on the left but I tried to get rid of that as it was ugly.) Really not great for identification, especially since the numbering in this part of the street goes from 59 to 77 with just a lane in between (we tell people there's actually a row of 8 houses in between but you need a Hogwart's spell to make them appear...) So I found a rather nice slate no. plaque on amazon and ordered one for us. It took a while to reach me as the number on the package was only half of our real number (a mistyping, I guess) but it arrived on Sat and I'm really pleased with it. K&K put it up on Sun afternoon and it looks very smart. Combined with the work we're doing on the front garden, the house will have definite kerb appeal by the time we've finished.
On that subject, Kai came to Hurran's with me on Sunday morning - I had £28 worth of vouchers to play with. We found three lovely conifers - two, silvery ones, will grow to 6 - 8 foot, the other one is low and sprawly, and a few Yuletide bits - and with the vouchers it ended up costing me exactly one pound, as although we didn't see any notices the conifers were on a 2 - 3 offer! Dead chuffed. Less chuffed at the fact the garden centre is closing, as it's been sold off for housing although we don't know when. Going to try to get back there early next month and see if the offer is still on, as it would be good to get a few more evergreens while we can.
Autumn is finally here. Winter downie went on the bed last weekend, and I've just put the heating on. The house is a lot warmer since we had the double-glazing done, but it's still a little too cool for comfort. And it's very difficult to get washing dried...
Ken picked up Agents of SHIELD: season 5 on his way back from work the day it appeared in the shops, and we watched the whole thing in less than a fortnight. Gods it's good! The phenomenon has gone from strength to strength and we're all completely hooked. Alas, season 6 isn't even showing yet (well, no summaries on the IMDb so I assume it isn't) which means it won't be available to buy until next year at the earliest. At the moment Kai and I are watching the whole thing from S1;ep1 onwards to try to cope with the withdrawal symptoms!
That being said, Legends of Tomorrow season 3 is now out, as is season 3 of Lucky Man, so will buy those in the near future. To our relief, amazon picked up The Expanse, so there will be more, although season 3 won't be available to buy until next November. Eh well, something to look forward to when the nights draw in next year!
I've managed to paint another wall, so the redecorating is coming along, if extremely slowly. Though it has been a bit of a manic year.
And Kai is doing well so far - easily able to keep up with and even get ahead in all of his subject units this year.
So, all in all, despite the irritating hassles, to date this year has actually been quite good! I would rather like next year to be a little quieter and more easy-going, though. Fingers crossed.
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Next time it comes to choosing workmen I'm letting Ken do it. I opted for Fixit Landscaping and Driveway Contractors because they had good reviews on bark.com, and their 'mission statement' reads -
On the plus side, the younger guys work extremely hard and have done a good job. On the minus side...
They cost £1K more than three of the other quotes we've had. Yes, I should have challenged that at the time, but I hadn't read the statement at that point. The verbal agreement was no payment until after the work was completed, they estimated they could get the excavation licence in two to four days, and the entire job should be finished in around two weeks. They were able to start the same week, and I was happy with what they did. So when Luke asked for a deposit - to pay for materials and so they could pay for the licence I very stupidly said OK and arranged a BACS transfer (to his own account rather than a business account. Hm. Does that seem fishy to anyone else?) They said they'd be back on Monday: when they didn't turn up I rang and was told they were organising the licence that day but would be back on Tuesday. Which they were, then again on Friday to finish the drive. At which point the older guy - the boss, I assume - started up...
Have you ever had to deal with a whining brat who will not shut up? Add bullying and shouting to that and that's what he's like. Ken listened in and agrees with me, he is HORRIBLE to deal with, and eventually I gave in and BACSed another part payment for the licence. Because he was apparently lying when he said he was sorting it out on Monday. He then said it would be applied for the following Monday (Oct 1st).
Monday 8th I'd heard nothing, so rang Highways at Bristol City Council, only to find that no licence had been applied for either for the house or by the builders. So I rang him back and told him, and he apologised ans said he'd get onto his men and get it sorted. Yesterday he rang me to apologise again, telling me that the father of the guy who was supposed to be arranging it had died and had been uncontactable for a few days. Yeah right - I'm going to believe that after all the other lies he's told me...
They're coming back on Tuesday next week, supposedly to get the measurements for the kerb dropping and no doubt to demand more money. I've contacted a few other kerb-dropping specialists to see if I can use someone else instead, then I can just fire Fixit and get professionals. I'm tempted to use my phone to film next Tuesday's meeting in case of repercussions. I am absolutely going to use what I've typed here to post brutally honest reviews everywhere I can. I took a photo of the crew - perfectly legally, stood in the porch, announced I was going to take it and told them to smile. They didn't, but neither did any of them object or turn away - which shows the faces quite clearly. Always useful to have backup!
I really don't need this stress.