I want a zebra

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 10:22 am
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am, for no adequately defined reason and after almost a year of absence, remembering my dreams again. This is a profound relief. I like dreaming; mine tend to the vivid and trippy and are always entertaining. I think it also means that I'm probably emerging from the loathsome embrace of depression at least to some extent, to which I say calloo, callay. Although Sunday night's little excursions entailed (a) being locked carefully in a room somewhere by concerned friends so that the giant, unlikely, terrifying cloud of bats couldn't get at me despite much fluttering at windows, and (b) trying desperately to find random objects in the old house which was slowly decaying and filling with water, so possibly a certain subconscious concern about dissolution of the structural coherence of my identity may be implicated. On the other hand, last night I dreamed an extended balloon trip in the company of Sherlock Holmes, which was about wish fulfilment on so many levels I actually woke up giggling. I've always wanted to go up in a balloon, I love flying, and flying dreams are a rare and particular pleasure. Also, BBC's current Sherlock. I have, shall we say, no complaints.

In other news, the EL appears to have achieved a girlfriend, although this is a conclusion drawn solely from observation of particular patterns in pewter-casting, he hasn't said a word about her. What's with that? Oh, wait. EL.

Subject line from the Magnetic Fields's "Zebra", chosen mainly by random association and the fact that it contains the line "We circled the Earth in a hot air balloon, So what?" I can't say I actually want a zebra, which for the purposes of scansion and rhyme in this particular instance is pronounced "zee-bra".
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Anyone who's been within an approximate radius or downwind of me recently will know that we currently have a Tomcat Affliction in House Evil Landlord/Lawful Good Tenant, as I tend to rant about it a lot. He's a slinking, stinking, ginger-and-white thing who leads a cryptic life of crime mostly on the roof, but who has developed a truly annoying habit of arriving punctually in the back courtyard at our cats' mealtimes and whinging because we haven't put the food out yet so he can muscle in and steal it. My life as the hapless object of eternal student complaints makes me a wee bit testy with even our own cats getting all demanding, and it's bloody well not cricket from an illegal immigrant. Also, said Slinky/Stinky Tom goes through phases of wandering through the house in our absence and spraying in the EL's bedroom, presumably as a direct challenge for territorial dominance to the house's Alpha Male. (In other news, it's nice to have it unequivocally established that the EL actually is the Alpha Male, as Hobbit clearly labours under the adorable illusion that it's him). Further to Macavity the Mystery Cat's territorial operations, Todal has become all insecure and discombobulated, and has taken to peeing in the EL's bedroom at random intervals. It hasn't been all olfactory joy around our neck of the woods, I can tell you.

The Hidden Paw aspect of Macavity allows him to, among other things, levitate mysteriously onto the roof from a standing start at the food-bowls the instant you think about coming within a sixty-foot radius of the kitchen, so he's near impossible to catch. We are going to have to do something sneaky with traps, and possibly decoy Admiralty papers or a femme fatale Peke with a blackjack in her garter. But it's becoming untenable, and I fear there's a short, sad session with the SPCA in Macavity's criminal mastermind future.

So last night I dreamed that I actually caught the bugger, with my bare hands, and stuffed him into a catbox, where he sat and protested his innocence while pretending to be cute and fluffy. (Even in the dream I wasn't taken in, probably because of excessive training on Hobbit). The dream then precipitated me into an extended argument with no-one in particular as to whether it was better to take the wretched cat to the SPCA to be put down after no-one adopted him, or to take him directly to Graham The Gnomelike Vet, and have him put down without recourse to meaningless illusions of reprieve. At the end of the argument I turned around to discover that the Evil Landlord had snuck behind my back and furnished the catbox with carpets, a tasteful array of expensive sushi in high-end paper boxes, and a miniature television set, on which Macavity was now watching cartoons.

Clearly I am still Deeply Scarred by the Ounce experience. Ounce was also a stray who attempted a similar Macavity-style invasion, which we steadfastly resisted until the point where I went away on holiday for three weeks and came back to discover that the EL had caved and Ounce was now part of the family. (Ounce was himself scarred by the preliminary rejection and still bloody well runs away from me in a pointed fashion if I do anything threatening, like existing). But I'm wise to the EL's ways now. Wise, I say. Macavity has it coming, and at the first hint of sushi or cartoons I will have him into the Liesbeek in a sack with lead weights tied to his feet. Metaphorically speaking. Criminal masterminds and quisling Evil Landlords deserve no mercy.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Time seems to go awfully fast when you're tired. I mean, it's October already, and the end of the semester, with its associated expectation of my return to work, is looming ominously. I feel as though I've hardly been at home for any time at all, and I certainly haven't achieved a fraction of the things I thought I would.

Given that I have been lurking in my study for whole chunks of the day (i.e. when not collapsed on the sofa), and will continue to do so for a few weeks yet, it's just as well that my study is a nice place to lurk. Last year's Return of the Bride of the Revenge of the Army of Reconstruction achieved wonders in the way of extra space, a lovely built-in desk and acres of shelving which fended off the book crisis for at least a couple of months. (It's back in full swing. I estimate that the separate piles of books all over the study rack up to about four metres of height.) In the last few weeks, though, the finishing touches have been applied: I scored a perfectly spontaneous kelim rug, courtesy of Vi, in appropriate size and shades, and today the Evil Landlord actually put up the wooden blinds I ordered for the window about three weeks ago and which have been languishing in a corner of the study in a sort of quantumly indetermined state occasioned by the wrong size of screws. The result is, though I say so myself, luvvely.

Please note (a) the inevitable Hobbit, who has for once abandoned his little ottoman hobbit-throne in order to lie heavily on the pile of papers in my in-tray, and (b) the plethora of Ursula Vernon artworks. The blind is lovely, all wooden and warm-toned, and it allows me to adjust it so I can look out of the window and watch my tomato plants visibly stretching skywards in the current ridiculously warm weather. It certainly beats the hell out of the previous "blind" arrangement, which consisted of a fast-fading Malawian cappulana, featuring black and blue butterflies, draped over the burglar bars.

Now that I have this perfect working space, all I need to do is some work. Hmmm. The weekend has been a washout owing to toothache, but these excuses are starting to wear a bit thin.

upsy/downsy day

Friday, 15 October 2010 02:51 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
So, on the downside, the large red notice on my door which says "I am not available for curriculum advice today" has been productive of several students cheerfully knocking and asking a question, prefaced with an airy "It's not curriculum advice!" It always is. On the upside, a recent foray into the admin office reveals that I have insidiously infected at least two of the nice admin people with the tendency to refer to students as "dingbats", giving rise to the "classic dingbat problem", wrong class numbers on a change of curriculum form. My word-fu is mighty. I smirk. Evil Gazelles 3, Word Fu 3. We shall fight on the beaches.

On the downside, the Evil Landlord, who actually does seem to have been ridiculously busy at work, forgot to pay the phone bill, and they cut us off two days ago. I would barely notice the lack of telephone, but it also cuts off the ADSL, which is cruel and unusual. This morning, in a frenzy of irritation and internet deprivation, I paid the bill online and phoned Telkom (ritual ptooey) to demand reconnection. Time on hold with abhominable hold music: 3.5 minutes. Time in conversation with consultant: 30 secs. Time taken for her to check the status of payment: about four and a half seconds. She promises it'll be reconnected this afternoon. Of course this remains to be seen, but the rug was pulled from under my feet with sufficient force by this complete failure of inefficiency that I startled the poor woman considerably by carolling "you are a marvellous, wonderful woman and I love you!" before ringing off. Forces of Chaos: 5. Forces of order: at least 10, and several millyun if they have, in fact, reconnected the phone. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets.

On the extreme downside, I had a middle campus meeting this morning, and got ticketed for illegal parking, which particularly narks me as I honestly thought I was legal. On the mildly upside, there was just enough silver in my wallet to allow me to acquire a chocolate bar from the vending machine this afternoon. I love vending machines: we never had them in benighted Zim when I was a kid, and the exciting clunking noises and automated moving arms still make me very happy. (And even more inclined to buy chocolate). Annoyance 10, Consolation 6. We shall fight in the hills, and I think I'm still ahead on points.

Edited to add: millyuns ahead on points. Home internet restored. Telkom Strikes Back, however, in that the only time they've ever phoned me with a quality control survey was after today's phone call, which is also the only one ever where I had no reason to froth at the mouth. Most Misleading Survey Ever. Bastards.
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I appear to be living in something that resembles, in odd moments, an episode of The A-Team. This was vouchsafed to me at 3 this morning, at which time I was startled out of a sound slumber and Interesting Celebrity Dream by a full-scale police car chase charging past my bedroom window, sirens wailing and engines gunning; it ricocheted off into the suburbs on a sort of descending howl. No actual shooting, but I suspect it was a matter of time. I am consequently frayed and tending to take offence at minor issues, such as gravity and the existence of students. It's also been an annoying couple of days work-wise, which doesn't help. Hence, a rant list! Rant lists always make me feel better.

Things Which Are Narking Me Off Right Now:

  • Committees. Committees expressly designed, in a friendly, woolly and vague sort of way, to take out of my control the orientation info booklets I produce with ruthless efficiency every year, and turn them into a single, committee-designed, giant info booklet to which the entire faculty cheerfully contributes, in a jolly, happy spirit of let's-be-nice-to-students-in-horribly-inefficient-ways. Ongoing attempts to (a) determine exactly who is going to do the actual work in all of this, and (b) stop grinding my teeth audibly, have failed. My inner jack-booted fascist is stomping around with a ginormous scowl, moodily kicking at my cerebellum.

  • Meetings generally. Meetings are created to fill up space so that you can't actually complete any of the work the meeting was created to discuss. There are 11 meetings in my diary this week, some of them in happy clumps where I have three, one after the other, with no break in between. I am consequently horribly behind in orientation planning, marks processing, curriculum advice, marking and, most importantly, Earl Grey consumption.

  • My eyelids. They're doing that scaly, itchy thing that suggests part of my levels of narkitude may be attributable to the fact that I'm turning into a dragon. Again. I hate this time of year, it's all pollen and eczema and sneezing. My body hates me. It's the Circle of Hate! *holds up baby dragon on giant rock while admiring gazelles look on*.

  • Evil Landlords. The Evil Landlord has overnight become a model of washing-up-doing, but is apparently still Cross with me for Mentioning Ze Washing Up, and is being monosyllabic and refusing to eat anything I cook. The atmosphere in the house is somewhat thunderous. It's all made worse by the fact that I'm assuming all of the above: it might be nothing whatsoever to do with Ze Washing Up, but since he refuses to discuss it, it's difficult to tell. I'm stomping around moodily kicking my own cerebellum in default of what I should actually be doing, which is kicking his.

  • Being at work, which means I don't have my DR & Quinch collection to hand, which means I can't find a nicely homicidal subject line. Bleah.

  • Parcelforce. I am contractually obliged to include this in any rant list under the terms of my agreement with Scroob. They've undoubtedly done something evil recently and deserve rantage.
I feel marginally better now. Before dashing off to lecture perpetrating undergrads on the evils of plagiarism, I'm going to fortify myself with chocolate, disdaining all health issues, which will undoubtedly make me feel better still. Also, I love the mental picture of my inner jack-booted fascist being all placated by chocolate. Grumpy thing that she is.
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Need I say what an enormous and wonderful boost it is to my inner fangirl to share a birthday with Joss Whedon? It's fate. It's Kismet. It's the Cosmic Wossnames, telling me that I have every reason in the world apart from my recent acquisition of Still Flying to re-watch Firefly yet again (once I can tear myself away from the script iniquities of STNG), and in fact I should get my shit together and actually track down a copy of Dollhouse sometime, or surrender my fangirl buttons to the hollow square of drummers.

So, this birthday thing. I wasn't going to do anything about it this year, I'm still a bit shellshocked from my dad's death and the debt issues and the three-week glandular fever attack and what have you, and definitely don't feel partyish. However, the dread jo&stv persuaded me to do a small, spontaneous dinner thing this evening, so we're going to trundle into town and pig out at Jewel Tavern, my all-time favourite Chinese place. This is not a birthday celebration so much as an excuse for crispy duck with pancakes - I'm really not expecting presents from anyone this year.

Except ... I bumbled out of my bedroom door this morning, more than usually dazed after another night of sleepwalking (woke at 2am and 4am, turned bedside light on and off in sleep twice, and switched on heater for no adequately defined reason), and stubbed my toe on a large, square, gift-wrapped box sitting mysteriously outside my door.

"Hmmm," I thought.

The envelope on the outside was inscribed, in the Evil Landlord's characteristically precise capitals:

"Hmmm," I thought. Cute.

Inside the envelope was a copy of a certain recent XKCD strip, annotated thusly:

"Meanwhile, on a train in Glasgow..."

"OMFG!" I thought.

In side the box was a brand new netbook. Packard Bell. Black. Cute. Tiny. Just what I'd been planning to acquire for myself sometime towards the end of the year when I've placated my credit card and all, and very similar to [livejournal.com profile] d_hofryn's one that I drooled all over a couple of weeks back. Will allow me to stay connected to Teh Internets during this UK trip, and look up actors on IMDB while I'm actually watching TV, and not fool anyone when I take it to a coffee shop, and the whole thing. Did I mention, ineffably cute?

I have simply to say, eeeeeeeeeeeee! Best birthday present EVAR!, which is saying a lot given my significant history of incredibly cool presents from my lovely friends. I have a deeply, absurdly generous Evil Landlord who not only gets my cultural references 100%, but also clearly listens to my burblings a lot more than I think he does, as I don't think I've mentioned wanting one of these more than once in his hearing, in passing. I am a very happy Extemporanea, and have been joyously fiddling with it all morning in default of actually doing any work.

I also have to say, modern tech has revolutionised birthdays in more ways than one. Today I have received:
  • One Netbook;
  • birthday greetings via email from my mother, co-workers, the university Alumni association (with animated fireworks) and a whole bunch of friends;
  • birthday greetings via Facebook and Twitter from a whole bunch more of friends;
  • SMSes from three stores where I have accounts and even more friends (mad props to [livejournal.com profile] librsa for recursive self-referential email/sms greetings); and,
  • three cellphone calls from friends in two cities.
Thank you all! I was trying to more or less ignore this birthday, honest. Doomed. In a good way.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Phooey. Last night was one of those horrible nights where my stomach hurt, my right eye was randomly all scratchy and sore, and a persistent and pestilential mosquito with a particularly penetrating whine relentlessly dive-bombed me for two hours the instant I put the light out. (Callously ignoring, may I add, the various anti-mozzie preparations with which I'd liberally bedewed the air and my person, resulting in undiminished enthusiasm from the mosquito and a racking cough in my chest this morning. Clearly I am part-mosquito and the mosquito is a robotic facsimile). I thus got to sleep sometime on the dark side of 1am and am particularly undead this morning, and singularly unsuited to the task of processing late-registering students without biting their heads off. On the upside, sleep dep always makes me more ruthlessly efficient in the early morning, and I'd organised the life out of the faculty with a particularly fascist series of posters by 9am.

On the even further upside I have been driven to essaying the can of V left for me last week by [livejournal.com profile] wolverine_nun, angel of mercy in maths-lecturer form, and am happy to report that, while it still has that subtle and unappetising guarana bite, it's vaguely redolent of lime and not nearly as vile as Red Bull. So score.

Further happy randomness: the new colour of the living-room walls matches the Hobbit's coat rather beautifully, which may not be random so much as the result of concentrated feline thought-waves. Also, have reached a compromise on kitchen tiles with the EL, bar a minor ongoing wrangle about whether we put the line of bronzy green mosaic tiles on the top of the cream strip, or two-thirds of the way up. Of such earth-shattering decisions is my life made.

Today's soundtrack courtesy of the Whatever, which featured a rather lovely cover of a Finn tune.
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I love blogging. Yesterday I post a deliriously happy-making video featuring Jane Austen movie parody and Darcy espousing the cause of free-style disco, and what happens? a flurry of comments based entirely on a throw-away footnote about tiles. The unpredictability of blog responses is curiously pleasing to me.

Today is the last day of Hell, in the sense of the most difficult month in my year, and I'm in that slightly reeling state of realisation: I survived, I didn't kill anyone, I haven't actually dislocated any limbs. (Yet). From here on, it can only improve. Yay! Of course, there's still a bunch of admin left, and I'm running late orientation tomorrow morning, but my sanity is slowly being restored by the fact that I can actually spend more than ten minutes at a time alone in my office, catching up, cruising the internet and otherwise recharging. While I enjoy interacting with students and making their lives better, it's also continuous and incredibly draining, and I am firmly an introvert in the sense that I need time alone to recover my energy.

The home front is also on the up: have resolved tile argument with EL1, the ADSL has miraculously started working again, and apparently the plumber installed the bath backwards for good and sufficient reason which makes actual practical sense. Also, I really like all the paint colours.

This weekend my Princely Hosts are buggering off to Knysna, leaving me to water the cats, pet the garden and play incredible quantities of Zelda, so score. Tonight I have supper with [livejournal.com profile] wolverine_nun, which is another chance to see [livejournal.com profile] starmadeshadow, so double score.

And, in the Department of Brass Bands Make Me Cry, the new OK Go music video is simply delightful. Notre Dame marching band. Silly uniforms. Trumpeters camouflaged in fields. The whole song recorded live in the open air while they were performing, which is rather impressive and gives it a particularly rough and plausible edge. (Context: OK Go were the people who did that amazing video with the treadmills).

Memo to self, must acquire some OK Go, the music is also muchly fun.

1 Well, we've agreed that glass-finished mosaic tiles in a much calmer colour than the bronzy green ones we're using for edging will work, since we are united in liking none of the varying shades of oatmeal offered by the larger stock. The EL has degenerated into threatening to choose tiles in electric blue, which usually signals that he's run out of viable arguments. Since habituation has granted me a +10 saving throw vs. Electric Blue Attack, I shrug and move on.

freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Grumpy today. Grrrr. Toe throbbing. Arguing with EL about tiles1. Really, really tired. You know that bit where it's been completely mad for a month and things start calming down, and suddenly you realise you're actually dead and have simply been shuffling around going through zombie motions for the last week or so? That. Warning, Zone of Imminent Collapse, Please Wear Hard Hat At All Times.

I had to go forth and find medicinal linkery in a determined effort to cheer up and not actually bite students, or at least only the ones who really, really deserve it. Fortunately I found this:

Courtesy of Pajiba, whose psychotic assaults on the manifest stupidities of Hollywood keep me sane. As do my friends, so thank you.

1 Not on aesthetic grounds, since really it's his house, but on practical, since I'm the one who ends up doing as much cleaning as is not done by Margaret, Ace Cleaning Lady, and I'm extremely dubious about excitingly textured faux-stone surfaces and the likelihood that they'll collect greasy kitchen dirt in the same way Pigpen does. (Obligatory Peanuts reference, nothing to see here, move along). Tile people think I'm right! Come on, EL, see the logic! are you German or not?!

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Aargh! Staggered home last night at about 7.30 after the First Day Of Orientation, of which I shall not speak, dreaming gently of a quiet poached egg and bed, only to be met on the ruins of the patio by the Evil Landlord, palm up in a "You Shall Not Pass" sort of way. He'd clearly been lying in wait for me.

"Before you enter the house, I think you should prepare yourself," he said, in friendly but slightly doom-laden tones.

I wibbled slightly. Or possibly slightly more.

"The electrician's slightly ahead of schedule," he said.

I braced myself and peered around him through the fog of exhaustion. The house seemed to have suffered the involuntary descent of what appears to be a post-punk minimalist Goth sensibility. In the aftermath of my 12-hour day, it seemed curiously appropriate.

"Worst of all, I don't think we can get to the tea supplies," he said.

It's all a bit hazy from there onwards. Things went black. All I know is, the furniture is piled into heaps and shrouded in black plastic so the electrician can cut holes for wiring without saturating everything in dust. The 'fridge, the stove, the cupboards and the bookshelves are taped shut: I cannot access food, drink, utensils, the TV or the sink, the latter mostly because they've disconnected the U-bend without telling us. My study is moved into my bedroom, where it's causing me to have interesting nightmares about glowing red eyes because of all the computer lights. The cats are distraught, with brief breaks to enjoy the piles of felt all over the floor. As the crowning insult, the electricity is off today and tomorrow so there won't be any hot water.

My address for the next two days will be, when not imitating the action of the orientation tornado, chez [livejournal.com profile] smoczek and [livejournal.com profile] maxbarners, who promise to feed me and wash me and stroke my head gently. That is all.

Lhude sing cuccu!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010 01:00 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Yesterday was suicide hot. Ungodly hot. Possibly apocalypse hot. Hell may have opened, briefly. The English cricket team folded completely against South Africa, it was that bad (SA innings 312/2. Gawsh). Today is better, cloudy and slightly cooler. It's also the Evil Landlord's birthday, so anyone who knows him, please do the usual email thingy! it's his big 40 and he's trying to pretend it isn't happening. To which I say, bollocks.

Yesterday's heat also means I retreated cravenly into the arms of the air-conditioned cinema as soon as I finished work. It's a bit difficult for me to review 500 Days of Summer because I think the Pajiba review nailed it so cleverly, but hey, it's that or actually get on with reviewing excluded student transcripts, which is uniformly depressing. 500 Days, despite being a cute, quirky movie about falling in love, watched by me, single for the last 8 years, all on my own in the cinema1, surprisingly wasn't.I don't think you can actually spoil this film, but have a cut anyway. )

This has been a good decade for indie whimsicality. Shall add this one to Eternal Sunshine, Waitress and the rest on the Must Acquire list. The one Pajiba identifies as "whimsyquirkalicious", and about my fondness for the movies on which I am completely unashamed.

1 This is a rhetorical whinge, I actually love watching movies on my own.
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It has become traditional to do that thing where you mark the end of the year by running together the first sentence of your first post from every month, resulting in pleasingly surreal and surprisingly representative dadaist gibberish. Thusly:

I have to report quite the nicest new year wish I've had so far. Hello, February, who the hell let you in? Oo, er. Arrived safely in France. I love the bit where I tell a room full of anxious first-years that it's actually significantly difficult to get thrown out of the faculty, they're fine if they pass three courses in their first year. I was going to review Wolverine, honestly I was. Back at work, alas. Hooray, my dreams are back! Wheee! new words! Good grief, it's October. Gawsh. Oh, happy day!
Doing my mystic gypsy bit, I divine the following about 2009:
  1. I still habitually start months with surprised exclamations.
  2. France loomed large in the year.
  3. I still enjoy the bit where I make students' lives better.
  4. Other than that I hate my job.
  5. Disappointing year for Hollywood popcorn movies. (Yes, I didn't like Star Trek either.)
  6. Still get high on words.
  7. For a year which really presented hitherto-unsuspected magnitudes of suck, I actually sound quite determinedly upbeat. That, or extremely sarcastic.
Today, in wanton retreat from all the orientation material I've been updating, I played Zelda in short, compensatory bursts in between packing up the booze cabinet so the Evil Landlord's sister could spirit it away. This necessitated rearranging (and incidentally New Year-cleaning) the kitchen to fit in all the cabinet contents, and thereafter constructing a map so the Evil Landlord could find it all again, although I admit it might have been more amusing to let him bumble around for ever before discovering that all the tall booze is now stashed in with the catfood.

The Zelda thing has re-started after a two-week hiatus after I had to call in stv as a consultant to get me through the horrible bit of the fire temple where I kept falling off the curving ramp trying to run it before the time limit, which he humiliated me utterly by doing first go, without touching the sides. In revenge I have subsequently kicked the butts of the bosses for both the fire and water temples, first go without touching the sides, and in the last one without even using up my healing potions. Currently hung up on trying to catch sufficiently large fish: got annoyed, watched more Supernatural, which (towards the end of Season 4) is extremely angsty and in which angels are bastards and Sam is being a dingbat. On the upside, meta episode is meta. In-episode slash references make me strangely happy.

I'm going to bed now, I seem to be babbling.
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The Department of Non-Evil Evil strikes back! My Evil Landlord ambled amiably into my study on Saturday morning, announced "You won't let me buy you a computer so here's something else instead", and dumped a large, flat box in front of me. This, it transpired, contained a 32-inch flat-screen TV which is apparently mine, mine, mine and never leaving. The whole thing appears to be the result of the weird Germanic self-guilt-trip the EL seems to have embraced since that time the house was robbed because he'd wandered out without setting the alarm or locking the security gate. Both our computers were nicked; I replaced mine without too much hassle since I had the money at the time, and I also decline to point fingers at actions taken under the influence of the early-morning fog. (One time I accidentally joined the navy before my first cup of tea). But there has apparently been Brooding. Now there is transferred guilt on account of the ridiculously expensive nature of the gift, even a jointly-enjoyed gift. This, however, is mostly eclipsed by a large helping of girlish glee. I have ordered the DVD set of The Middleman in celebration. I have a sexy, sexy TV into which I shall crawl happily for the foreseeable future.

Now all we need is for Telkom to get off their butts and install our home ADSL. The absolute lack of home Internet for the last week and a half is making me extremely twitchy, particularly since a DNS glitch in the cardboard-and-string systems of my Cherished Institution wantonly deprived me of internet access for most of yesterday. Techno-jinx still prevailing, apparently. Damned cosmic wossnames. There is a small but real possibility that when the Telkom guys do actually arrive, their mutilated corpses will be tactfully buried in the garden just as soon as they've activated the line and I've ripped them limb from limb with vigour, aplomb and a cheesegrater. Also, internet withdrawal seems to give me backache. Well, phooey.
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When I was eight years old I gave up biting my nails. I remember the occasion quite vividly: one day I looked down at my nibbled-at hands, thought "that's ugly, I should stop that", and did so. I haven't bitten them since. This suggests that, while in later life my willpower seems to be a small, mad, fluffy thing crouched on a rock in the depths of my subconscious, refusing to stir when prodded with sticks, technically it does exist and should be in there somewhere. Consequently, in a spirit of enquiry, a few days ago I randomly decided to give up saying "fuck", just to see if I could - while I have a just appreciation for its Anglo-Saxon bluntness, I lard my conversation with it far too heavily, and occasionally can't help using it in a professional context, upon which people look at me sideways. So far so good - I've involuntarily uttered it once in the last three days, and that while slightly sloshed. I shall watch my own progress with interest.

The weekend seems to have been a bit of a mad social whirl. We (jo&stv and Evil Landlord and I) took my mother out for lunch to Overture on Saturday, as a thank-you for her entirely saintly energies in looking after my dad. She is an Amazing Person, TM, and richly deserved Overture's view, good-humoured and attentive staff (the manager was hilarious), flowly-freeing wine, kick-butt pumpkin risotto, hake with mussels, and pork belly with pork rillette beignet, the latter pretentious-sounding concoction being a sort of pork stuffing in a thin deep-fried pastry baggie, and frankly delectable. She possibly didn't richly deserve the lunacy levels of the conversation, but hopefully it was at least entertaining.

The EL has also recently had the counter in the dining room flung out and replaced with a fitted version with room for the bar 'fridge, and in the course of unpacking the old cupboards and repacking the new we found no less than four bottles of champagne. This means we lugged two of them plus the Cointreau over to jo&stv's for potjie last night, and made French 75s (Cointreau, gin, champagne, lemon, hold the sugar, I like them dry). These are evil. In a good way. And get you very sloshed very quickly. Then again, it's been a hellish couple of weeks and I think I deserved to get slightly drunk and almost say "fuck" several times. But only almost!

Now, onward! to arrange internet connectivity for my dad at his new frail care institution, into which he moves on Friday. [livejournal.com profile] friendly_shrink's nice husband has, bless him, sorted out the Windows install problem on dad's computer by giving me a legal copy, and I am fiendishly scheming to persuade the Evil Landlord to let me install an ADSL line, so I can hijack the Iburst and haul it over there for Dad. Since this entails allowing Telkom over our threshold, I may be making a hell of a lot of creme caramel in the next few weeks. Will the Evil Landlord accept Telkom sweetened with creme caramel? News at 11!
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You know, there might be a zeppelin in the garage and elephant catapults on the roof, and he still cannot master the complex topographical processes of loading the dishwasher, but I still have a damn fine Evil Landlord. Apart from his cheerful acceptance of lawful-good-tenants-in-law occupying the house for months at a time, the fact that he keeps the chocolate jar continuously filled and his uncomplaining situation of the internet connection in my study rather than his, he is also a Lesser Demon of Carpentry of notable unselfishness. I worked out the other day, of the approximately three hundred miles of fitted bookshelves he's installed in the house, at least 200 miles of them are for my benefit. Memo to self, must put my rent up again.

The new plan is to wildly build a 1m-extension onto the main bathroom so he can fit in a proper shower; when I jokingly suggested that he should do the same to my study (the extension, not the shower), he said "Good idea!" with some enthusiasm, and is proceeding to double the building costs by doing exactly that, recking not my guilty expostulations about not being serious. I am forced to conclude that, unless he's doing all this for a new, improved Seekrit Tenant he's planning on installing, he's probably not going to throw me out into the snow any time soon. On the downside, the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Army of Reconstruction is scheduled for the end of next month, producing the alarming side-effect that the EL will have to use my bathroom for the duration, and it's un-separated from my bedroom by any vestige of door.

His most recent project has been the construction of a new cabinet thingy to house the television, sound system and my ever-burgeoning DVD collection, which has seriously outgrown its bookshelf. The last few months have been notable for the EL vanishing into the garage at frequent intervals, therefrom to produce sound effects of sawing, sanding, hammering and faint thuds I think must be the result of bumping into things while high on varnish fumes. We moved the cabinet into the living room on Sunday, thereby completely reconfiguring the living room and making me very happy (I love rearranging furniture, it's like taking a holiday). It's a damned fine cabinet. Viz:

I draw your attention in particular to the four-panel cat portrait effect on top of the cabinet. This photo is important for [livejournal.com profile] short_mort to see, since she hasn't yet witnessed the fate of the beautiful cat-photos she sent me (two out of the four, the Ounce and Golux ones), and she needs cheering up.

In other, completely random news, "enjoyed a mild success in Purgatory" is my new, favourite catch phrase. Courtesy of Pajiba. Even more randomly, Purgatorial movie notwithstanding, isn't it nice to see Sidney's BF get some famelove? He's cute in a kinda goofy way.
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We have new kitchen lights, lots of focused spots, which is good in the sense that I'm less likely to cut my fingers off while chopping onions in stygian gloom. On the other hand, we also now have an interesting foot-shaped hole in the living room ceiling, where the Evil Landlord, engaged in muffled installation noises, stepped on a beam that turned out not to be a beam. I was peaceably reading on the comfy new couch below at the time. The sudden appearance of a disembodied foot where no foot should be is strangely interesting, as are the attendant Germanic curses.

Busy packing for the flight tonight, having acquired new suitcase and wrestled with the Virgin Atlantic online check-in for slightly over an hour. The wretched thing will not let me change the seat booking it randomly allocated me in place of the one I actually requested. I'm going to have to fight with them when I arrive at the airport, I travel seldom enough that I get seriously petulant when denied a window seat. Currently the major problem facing me is which of the Bookshelf of Unread Reproach gets to travel with me. It's tricky, because I can't read properly on planes, my attention is always faintly distracted, so it needs to be something fluffy. In pursuit of this, and in defiance of all the BoUR resolutions, I have achieved a copy of the new JD Robb. This is a seriously flawed plan, I can whack through one of those in about two hours. Let's hope there's something good on TV.

Random Linkery, to close tabs before I bugger off: Superheroes. Of an alternative and rather poignant variety. Also, USA's economy as third-world analogue. It's all horrifyingly familiar.

In other news, Ounce has finally decided that the new couches are not actually going to swallow him whole and are, in defiance of paranoia, rather comfy. (The baleful glare says "The couch may not be killing and eating me, but don't think I don't know you're about to.")

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Good grief. I just scored a completely random University Avenue parking disk. That is, I am now legally permitted to grab the closest possible parking to my office, behind the booms, requiring card access, and generally reserved for deanly gods, HoDs and those admin bods who cling with limpet-like tenacity to the highest possible rung on the ladder. I fall into none of these categories, and have for fifteen years grimly climbed six flights of stairs to reach my car. The Cosmic Wossnames are clearly setting out to compensate me for a job which I do well but reluctantly and which is currently turning me into a lizard.

The Dynamic Duo, viz. jo&stv, came round to visit at an advanced hour of last night, rescuing me from swearing at the TV (Roswell is being more than usually silly with more than usually ridiculous marital plots1), to say happy birthday to the EL. He was, of course, out, being fed birthday dinners by his dear old silver-haired German mother (a very sweet and slightly scary lady). Disturbed by his absence, jo&stv proceeded to fill the temporary void by raiding his bedroom and constructing an unreasonable Evil Landlord fascimile, thusly. )

Oh, yes. That. The subject line is courtesy of Charles Stross, who is an Odd Man, TM.

1 Marital plots are always more or less ridiculous, especially when teenagers are involved. Honestly.

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This is a public service announcement. Today is my Evil Landlord's birthday. Eschewing all pretence at being a Lawful Good Tenant, I am announcing this to the four winds of Teh Internets, wilfully disregarding his preference for sneaking this unGermanic birthday business in under the radar in the hopes that everyone will ignore it. It would make me strangely happy if as many people as possible would email or phone him with birthday greetings, which would (a) simultaneously annoy and amuse him, and (b) go some way towards assuaging my guilt at not having been able to think up a present for him. He's hell to buy for, and my inventiveness kinda dried up after the sizzling inspiration of the original Star Wars theatrical releases on DVD for Christmas. There should probably be a law against birthdays occurring too close to Christmas, it's wearing on the gift-provisionally-challenged. I'll wait for something to occur to me randomly at some later stage when he's least expecting it. Heh.

Life is a bowl of cherries this morning. Fresh cherries are reasonably cheap in the shops at the moment, and there's something curiously satisfying about cherries for breakfast. Although I have to restrain my impulse to spit the pips out of my third-floor window at passing students. Students have no business cluttering up campus at this time of year, they're probably writing supps or doing summer term courses, and are therefore academically dodgy and deserve aerial pip bombardment. Although the Dean probably wouldn't like it, so I merely think wistfully about it, instead. Lawful Good, that's me. Occasionally.

Edited to add: stvil has updated the Evil Landlord's blog, a sort of Baudrillardian simulacrum written by lots of people not including the Evil Landlord, with a fine and vintage display of Goon Show pseudo-German. Bring your own pickelhaube, and read at your peril.
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So, indexing. Gawsh. Turns out indexing is a great, flubbery, tentacular, flailing brute of a process that has to be mastered, pinned to the mat with carefully alphabetised and sub-sectioned logical pins, and it grows and shrinks appendages even as you're wrestling it. I don't have the final page proofs yet, but I've spent the last weekend and quite a lot of the evenings of the last week inventing indexing terms, and I'm starting to dream in sub-entries. It's a surprisingly demanding and subtle art, as you end up having to assess quite stringently what you're actually doing at any point in the work - what the focus and nub of the argument is. It seems to be an organic, inter-related, intuitive sort of thing, which is pretty much how my mind works, so lucky there. Even so, I can't help feeling that passing by my study at the moment runs the risk of being startled by a giant tentacle suddenly crashing through the window, with me trapped and flailing at the end of it, like that bit with Will Smith in Men In Black. If this book turns out to be a cute alien baby who throws up on me, I'm going to be a bit miffed. Also, intrigued.

Not watching much Farscape at the moment, being as how me and the Evil Landlord are locked into some kind of stupid cold war in which neither of us will be the first to suggest it. He's ahead on points by virtue of the fact that he's spending his evenings sitting in the living room so I can't watch X-Files either. On the upside, lots of indexing. Also, I may be able to grab him with a flailing tentacle next time he wanders past my study and beat his bloody uncommunicative head against the wall.

Last Night I Dreamed: I'd just moved into a huge old Victorian house with my family, and had an amazing bedroom with attached library and door into the garden, plus enormous bathroom occupied by some sort of hob or brownie who nicked the soap. My sister was annoyed because I had the bigger room. There was also a lift going down to the basement, which contained a giant room knee-deep in water, hosting a knitting convention.

dreams, 16-19; floods, 21-22; house-moving, 16; invasion, 18, 19; knitting, 19; sibling rivalry, 17.
home, 16-19; anxiety about, 18-19; dream about, 16; flooding of, 19; space for books in, 17; invasion by fey, 18; invasion by knitters, 19; theft from, 18.
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Today I finally found time to work through the sample edited chapter of my book the nice copy-editor sent me. She is on record as saying that it didn't need much editing, as I write very well (preens), but she's bloody well gone through the entire thing and changed "which" to "that" throughout. I am reconciled to the American spelling, although the word "marvelous" in the title is going to look extremely odd. I will even put up with her refusal to hyphenate sensible words such as "re-explorations" or "pre-eminent", and I positively approve of her tendency to swoop wholesale upon the egregiously unnecessary commas with which I am prone to sprinkle my writing, and to expunge them ruthlessly. But "which" is NOT incorrect in a relative clause. The desperate need to replace it with "that" is a popular grammatical urban myth which I deny, disbelieve and excoriate. It's nonsense. It's an incorrection. Language Log agrees, and they know everything. I shall fight this to the bitter end, in the teeth of editors and worse. *plants grammatical flag, glowers threateningly*.

In the Department of My Evil Landlord Is Completely Insane (In A Good Way), he has madly constructed a beautiful little piano stool, only to inform me that it's the mock-up and "not very well made". The real one will be made in cherry wood, presumably to some exactingly Germanic standard of perfection. (This has not prevented me from seating myself upon the mock-up for an hour and playing Beethoven. Badly). He has also made something of an epic record for belated birthday goodness in presenting me with the first six volumes of Girl Genius, which are by some bizarre happenstance apparently available on Take2. I mean, overkill much? There's generosity, and then there's wow, insane. I am a very, very happy pseudo-Victorian spark-fancier. A favourite web comic is somehow different, and much realer, in hard copy.

And, in the Department of Belated Linkery, I promised various people last night to link to Passive-Aggressive Appetizers. Courtesy of the Whatever. These are amusingly evil-minded.

Now off to brief my next year's cohort of orientation leaders, about to begin training. This will end at about 7pm, thus presenting me with a perfect 12-hour day. Phooey.


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