March 31, 2014

All change. This time it’s official.

 

I’ve been accepted for training by the Samaritans.  http://www.samaritans.org/

It’s a serious commitment in both time and energy:  the first training module is ten half-days in six weeks and begins in about a fortnight.  Then they start putting you to work.  You’re expected to rack up fifty-two duty shifts in a year—so one a week:  if you want to take a holiday, you have to squeeze a few more shifts in elsewhere.  There’s a second training module later in the year, and a continuing-training requirement of (I think) two half-days a year for as long as you’re a volunteer.

My initial interview process was made just a trifle more interesting by nine days without a car, and as a result I got in under the wire last Friday.  I received the email saying ‘you’re in, clear your diary’ on Saturday.

Done that.

And here’s the official notification:  I’m cutting back drastically on the blog.  No, really.  As of tonight it will NO LONGER BE DAILY.  I’m not sure what I’m cutting back to:  two days a week, maybe, plus or including KES.*

This has been coming for a while.  I know I keep saying I’m cutting back, and then I don’t.  There’s an ‘all change’ blog from a year ago January—and in fact I have cut back.  But not enough.  God** and commuting and three hellcritters take a lot of time.***

But that the blog as I have been insanely pursuing it is no longer tenable has really been written on the wall in six-foot letters of fire since the end of last year.  This is really dumb but it’s also dead common:  your spouse or partner or child or best friend has a stroke or a heart attack or is badly injured in a traffic accident or something and you go to pieces.  Peter had the stroke.  I’m knocked for six.  I’m not getting on with stuff—EBON, renting Third House—that I have to get on with.†  I want to do the Samaritans, and I think I can.  The blog is, however, ultimately, dispensable. ††

So.  It’s been real, as we used to say when turning on, tuning in and dropping out was cool.†††  And the blog has been real, in its smoke and mirrors way.  I’m hoping it will go on being real in a slightly streamlined, slightly reset mirrors and resignalled smoke way. ‡

We’ll find out.

Meanwhile . . . see you soon.‡‡  And thanks for all the fish.

* * *

* I still don’t know what happens when I reach the end of Part One.  I’ve been assuming I’m going to take a break, and I’m still assuming that, but I don’t know what having fewer Days in the Life to write may do to writing about Kes’.

Also please note I will be HAPPY to continue to post GUEST BLOGS.

** My applying to the Samaritans is God’s fault again, although the Samaritans, as they say on their opening page, are very much not a religious organisation, unlike, for example, the Street Pastors.  The funny thing is that it’s joining the SPs that has given me the confidence to try for the Samaritans—although the Samaritans have been on my radar for years.  I went through some very rough stuff when I was pretty young and spent some years in therapy, including group therapy, where you learn something of the non-judgemental listening shtick which is the Samaritans’ stock in trade—and how important having someone to talk to is.  But one of the Samaritans’ requirements is that you take an all-night shift every two or three months.  And I knew I couldn’t do that.  Then I went down with ME and volunteering for the Samaritans became as imaginary as anything Tolkien ever came up with.  Then I hit menopause and while insomnia is part of my personal package of hormonal horror . . . so is being able to get by on less sleep.  Oh.  Hmm.

And then I turned Christian and my dormant do-gooder came droolingly, rampantly, havoc-creatingly to life.  But I gravitate to the practical side of do-gooding:  handing out flipflops and cups of hot soup is practical.  But so is listening.  You may know that from having been in group therapy.  But you find it out all over again on your first pre-interview, pre-training observation night with the Street Pastors.

It wasn’t much over a month ago an ad for the Samaritans in the local paper caught my eye.  They were holding an ‘information evening’ for potential volunteers.  Yo, McKinley, said the bloke in the tatty blue jeans whom I first met 12/9/12.  This.

Oh, and the best thing about the Samaritans?  IT HAPPENS INDOORS.  YOU SIT IN A NICE WELL-APPOINTED OFFICE ON A COMFY CHAIR WITH A TEAKETTLE AT YOUR IMMEDIATE DISPOSAL. YOU’RE NOT OUT ON A STREET CORNER FREEZING YOUR BUTT OFF OR DISSOLVING IN THE FRELLING DOWNPOUR.

*** I’m also sitting here thinking about how the more I’m managing to put into my singing the more frelling shattered I am after my voice lessons.  I’d gone back to Dido’s Lament^ and Nadia said she’d like to hear it.  I’ve got like eighty times more voice than I did when I learnt it the first time and—I realise how deafeningly ridiculous this is—the volume I’m now capable of scares me.^^  Siiiiiiiiiiigh.

^ It’s interesting, this business about repertoire.  If you’ve gorblimey worked to learn something you don’t want to lose it.  You can’t keep too many things on top at once, but you can circulate.  On the face of it this is obvious.  In practise this is yet one more unexpected skill you have to learn.

^^ Remember, however, I’m still talking about making the walls rattle in Nadia’s mum’s small low-ceilinged dining room.   Not the Royal Albert Hall.

† I think I’ve done one doodle from my bottomless backlog in the last four months.  Maybe two.

†† Even if there are a lot of hours of my life I’m not going to get back that I spent writing it.

††† Which probably doesn’t actually mean ‘get stoned and stay that way forever’ although my generation in our mad youth sure thought it did.

‡ There’s another aspect to this decision:  I’m generating less blog material by the choices I’m making about how I spend my time.  There’s an awful [sic] lot about the God thing I don’t feel like trying to explain on a public blog, for example.   And while I can at least talk about the weather on Street Pastors nights, there’s an absolute black-out confidentiality requirement with the Samaritans^.  You can’t talk to anyone about what happens on a duty shift except another Samaritan.^^

^ Which, as previously observed, takes place indoors.  I suppose I could blog about the night I drop the cup of tea on the computer keyboard . . . I’d rather not be given this rich, golden opportunity. . . .

^^ And, just by the way, debriefing at the end of every shift is required.  They take care of their own.

‡‡ MY NEW WASHING MACHINE IS ARRIVING ON WEDNESDAY . . . I hope.  Let’s say it’s scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool, Part 1, guest blog by blondviolinist

 

“Hey, I’m going to Wisconsin Sheep & Wool to pick up a spinning wheel. You guys want to come along?” asked my friend Carol. Silly question! Of course we wanted to come along to one of the biggest sheep & wool festivals in the central US!

So in mid-September four knitting enthusiasts packed up our travel knitting and our water bottles, and headed for Wisconsin. The festival is held in Jefferson, a small town near Madison, WI (a few hours north of Chicago). A sheep & wool festival isn’t just about knitting. It’s about everything related to sheep, including herding, shearing, baby lambs, and (most importantly for Carol & me) spinning wool into yarn!

When we made it through the front gates of the fairgrounds, our first goal was to go through the barns where the vendors were set up. So much brightly colored yarn! So many squishy braids of wool waiting to be spun!

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Though many vendors were local, there were also vendors who’d come from across the US to be a part of Wisconsin Sheep & Wool. There were spinning wheels and spindles and buttons and ceramics and finished shawls and pretty knitting notions.

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There were even spinning wheels made from PVC pipe!

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The aisles in the vending barn were crowded, but if you accidentally bumped into someone it wasn’t usually too bad, because most of us were well-padded by our purchases!

After I’d wandered through the sale barns once (you have to scope things out before you commit to purchases!), I headed out to watch the sheep dog trials.

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I’d only seen sheep dog trials in arenas before, so it was fun to see them in a big field. It made photographing the trials a bit challenging, however!

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(“You’re not REALLY going to make us go in that pen, are you?”)

While I sat & watched, a man & his border collie came over near the bleachers, and started answering the crowd’s questions about herding dogs and herding trials. It was especially interesting to hear him explain how shepherds use dogs’ natural pack-hunting instincts to train dogs to herd. I knew about the slinking-low-to-the-ground being a hunting thing, but I didn’t realize the dogs bring the sheep back to the shepherd because in the wild they would bring the sheep back to the rest of their pack. It made sense, though!

Still unable to decide what I wanted in the sale barns, I wandered off in search of food. On my way, I found the rug displays.

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Who wouldn’t want a wooly hippo wall calendar?

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The felting projects in the crafting competition were also fun.

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Then it was time to head over to the sheep shearing demonstration!

(To be continued!)

KES, 124

ONE TWENTY FOUR

They had forgotten why they were there, if they had ever known.  But the Lady of the Keep wanted this grey, flat, foggy stretch of nowhere patrolled, and so the duty rota for certain of her companies included a tour at the Black Tower.  There were jokes about the turning of the year at the Black Tower, that in spring it was grey, flat and foggy, in summer it was grey, flat and foggy;  and then in autumn it was . . . grey, flat and foggy.  In winter there was usually a little snow for variety, but even the snow was grey.  The companies came, they patrolled, they were bored out of their minds, they went away again.

It was an unpleasant sort of boredom however.  You were never quite at your ease at the Black Tower billet;  if the roster hadn’t stipulated a twenty-four hour watch they’d have set one up or no one would have ever got any sleep.  You still tended to wake up at odd hours and lie there listening to the silence—or straining to hear a cough or a clink from whoever was officially awake and watching the flat grey nothingness for . . .

No one knew for what.  And they didn’t talk about it much, but everyone from the oldest seen-it-all to the youngest eager recruit knew that the flat grey wasn’t quite nothing.  Wasn’t quite empty.  You tried to tell yourself well, of course not, or why would the Lady want it watched?  But it wasn’t a reassuring answer.  And it didn’t help you sleep.

There were stories.  Of a Gate.  Of a Defender.  The peculiar—and disturbing—thing was that no one ever said those particular stories had anything to do with the Black Tower watch, but it was on that watch that those stories were told.   Maybe it was because of the huge ominous black figure that loomed in the background of these stories, a man-shaped creature, but as tall as a tree, as tall as the Lady’s castle, as tall as the sky, with a black sword as long as it was.  Maybe it was because the Gate was a wavering, grey, uncertain, nothingness sort of Gate and no one knew where it was or, perhaps, where it might appear.  Maybe it was the inconsistency, or the transience, of the Defender, who was sometimes a bent old wizard, sometimes a heroic young archer—the stories usually included that to cross swords with the black giant meant death—sometimes a proud stalwart leader like their Lady.  Sometimes the Defender was a great bird of prey, for even the strongest human archer could not send an arrow high enough to pierce the black giant in the throat or the eye, which, it was said, were its only vulnerable places.

But there were no stories of its destruction, of its defeat.

There were other watches, like theirs.  There was a river where the weeds at its margins were so thick and entangling, and the current at its centre so savage, that even a black thing as tall as the sky might hesitate to attempt passage.  There were islands in that river where there were watchers like themselves at the Black Tower—although the stories did not say how, or if, they got on or off their islands.

There was a forest where the trees watched—you lay awake sometimes hoping that the trees took turns, watching.  Trees, even guardian trees, didn’t get up and walk around—so far as you knew—didn’t go back to regimental headquarters when their tour of duty was over and get sent somewhere else where there were only werethings or rogue magicians or marching armies seeking conquest and empire to worry about.  But even trees (you hoped) had time off.  If they watched like you had to watch you hoped they had time off.

And there was a desert.  There weren’t any stories about the desert;  when a story about the Gate and the Defender stumbled into the desert whoever was telling it might stutter on for a few words, but would then fall silent, and a heavy gloom would fall on the audience until someone roused enough to suggest a song, or declared wasn’t it nearly dinnertime?  The desert was maybe a little like the foggy grey not-quite-void around the Black Tower, but as ‘like’ as the black giant was ‘like’ an ordinary human soldier.

The Falcon company had only arrived two days ago, and the handover from the Eagles had gone as usual but every member of the Falcons felt more than usually on edge by the first nightfall.  When Durmain dropped his tankard on the stone floor of the mess there were two swords and three daggers out and ready before the tankard banged up against a table leg and stopped.  Everyone sighed—Durmain got clumsy when he was nervous;  fortunately he had no nerves at all in battle—and the rest of the evening, and the next day, were uneventful.  Except for the buzzing in your ears and the way even the oldest soldiers tossed the dice oddly, as if their hands were shaking.

That second night very few people bothered to go to bed, to pretend to sleep.  Usually their colonel made them bank all the fires and blow out all the lamps after supper, to preserve fuel, except for the small grate and a lantern or two in the duty room.  Tonight she just shook her head, and the dice games, the whittling, the mending of gear went on.  It was a muggy almost-warm night so they built a fire outdoors, and brought benches and lamps outside.

The sense of oppression grew worse and worse.  The third time Durmain stabbed himself with his needle, shuddered and cursed, he laid his mending down;  and he was not the only one.  It was hard even pumping your chest in and out to keep breathing.  While there wasn’t much wind, and what there was was damp and sullen, the clouds were boiling overhead, and everyone kept glancing uneasily skyward.

The clouds slowed and settled.  The sky seemed to clear, but it was still a louring grey, not night-black, and there were no stars.  As you stared upward the clouds began to look like a landscape, bleak and barren, pitted and treacherous.  Eventually your eyes made out that there were people—people on horseback—in that landscape.  The horses were standing still, stiff and prick-eared, they and their riders all facing as if staring somewhere over your left shoulder.  At their head stood a horse made even bigger, you thought, by the slightness of its rider:  a pale slender woman, with long tangled hair, riding bare-legged and barefoot.

You didn’t know who shouted, only that it sounded like it came from someone standing with you, some Falcon, and that the voice was rough with both joy and terror.

“Defender!”

 

If it works, do it again*

 

B_twin

. . . to force BT to put a landline in, since there isn’t one in this centre-of-town, eighty-year-old house with the phone jack in the kitchen.
This is so eye-wateringly insane for me as an outsider that I can only imagine

No, no, you don’t want to imagine.  Really you don’t.

how you can manage to prevent yourself tearing strips off the wall and frothing at the mouth over it.

Hey, I’m not going damage my walls.  But the hellhounds and I do hunt down carelessly parked BT vans and write things like BT DOES NOT RULE on the windscreen in blood-red lipstick.

What did the electricians find behind the phone jack in the kitchen?? (presuming that it is the same system there in that the phone jack has a plastic plate and socket over the hole in the wall where the wires come in to)

Oh you poor creature, hampered by rational intelligence and an assumption of logic.  There has been no electrician/BT technician.  They’re making all these pronouncements by reading their computer screen and making patronising noises at me down the, er, phone.  If they sent a BT operative to Third House it would cost me over £100.  Just to say hi and let him/her in the door.  It costs extra if he/she actually looks at plate and socket . . . and I’d probably have to get a second mortgage if they took the illusory phone-jack plate off the wall and examined whatever is behind it, before declaring that it’s all a fever dream and I should try to get more sleep, sign here, the invoice will follow.

. . but eventually I managed to find the very small print in the handbook that SAYS you can’t turn the ring off the portable handset. It does not, however, tell you why.

There is a radical solution. Next time you want to turn the ringer off (like at night etc) – take the battery out of the handset….          

MESS with the thing?  Give it MORE EXCUSE to misbehave?  And besides, dropping it on the sofa and then flattening a heavy blanket*** over its face is strangely satisfying.

Gwyn_sully

Although for hysterical-making LOUDNESS, any of you have back-up batteries for your desktop computers?

Mrph. We have a whole office full of them. I have insufficient words to explain the delight of them all going off at once.

Oh . . . my.  Sympathies.

Cmarschner

… There aren’t bluebells yet, are there? My mom and I carefully planned our late April/early May England trip to try to intersect with bluebells somewhere – south or north, we’re not fussy.  ::chews nails::   But we’ll be happy with whatever we get. I bet there will be, you know, flowers. Maybe even roses by then…

There will certainly be flowers.  I’m interested that Rachel recommends Gloucestershire for bluebells the beginning of May, but they are that little bit more north than us—ours are mostly going over by then.  But for breathtakingly fabulous spring gardens down here in the south I recommend Wisley http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley . . . camellias . . . mmmmmm . . . camellias.  And also Savill Gardens and Windsor Great Park http://www.theroyallandscape.co.uk/gardens-and-landscape/the-savill-garden which will certainly have bluebells although I’m not sure what stage of out or over they’ll be in.  Unless April is 80°F all month—which I pray most earnestly it will not be—you’re unlikely to see roses yet:  a few of the first species or species-type roses maybe.  Oh, you may have them in London!  London is crazily early—all that ambient fossil-fuel heat brings stuff on.  You can get roses flowering all winter too sometimes.

But have a spectacular trip.  It’s rather a nice country, England†, I’m very fond of it . . . and it’s pretty frelling amazing for gardens.

And in small personal garden news:  my snakeshead fritillaries are coming out.   http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/07/plant-offer-snakes-head-fritillary  Yaaaaaaaay.  It doesn’t get much better for a fumbling amateur gardener in the south of England:  now if only my mysteriously-alive meconopsises stay alive and produce flowers . . . oh yes and all my roses rush out dazzlingly. . . . It’s hard to remember sometimes that I’d only put stuff in the ground for the first time that very last summer in Maine before Peter happened.  Nostalgia?  Not really.  I’d rather be here.

* * *

* Also, I am tired.  For various reasons I’ve been in Wolfgang way too much today but I found myself in Mauncester before the bookshops closed.  And as if sleepwalking I discovered I was striding through a doorway surrounded by bookshelves.  I was looking for something frivolous . . . or possibly knitting.  Which is, of course, not frivolous.    THEIR KNITTING SECTION WAS TERRIBLE.  But I was already upstairs in nonfiction so I caromed from ‘hobbies’^ to ‘music’ where I picked up, not without effort, Michael Steen’s nearly a thousand pages of LIVES AND TIMES OF THE GREAT COMPOSERS and from there, all bent over from the weight, lurched to ‘religion and philosophy’ where I picked up over a thousand pages of Diarmid MacCulloch’s A HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY . . . for balance.  I then fell downstairs, paid, and crawled out the door.  GET REAL, MCKINLEY.  Oh, okay  . . . so I stopped at the yarn shop on my way back to the car park and bought TWO KNITTING BOOKS . . . but they were on sale.^^

. . . Also, in my defense, I’ve been listening to the MacCulloch on Pooka and really need a hard copy crib.  The subtitle is ‘the first three thousand [sic] years’ and a thousand pages isn’t enough.  The stuff just streams by and you’re staring either at your knitting or some assortment of hurtling hellcritter butts and thinking, What?  Who?  When?  Where?  . . . What?

^ I should have realised that any bookshop that categorizes knitting as a hobby will have no clue.

^^ I narrowly escaped buying some yarn also on sale . . . I gave up CATALOGUES+ for Lent, I didn’t give up yarn, books or sales.  Maybe I need to draw the contract up more carefully next year.

+ Yes.  I did this last year.  I need to do it again.  It’s the negotiating that’s so frelling slippery:  a lot of us, myself included, live by catalogues and the internet, and if you’re buying dog food or black cotton socks or The Art of Song Grade Seven for High Voice so you can give your teacher her copy back, it’s fine and great and a time saver and all that.  But browsing . . . especially because I hate paying full postage on only one item . . . which of course the evil red-eyed drooling site proprietors are counting on.  The latest development, or at least I’ve only just begun seeing it, is these frelling little pop-up boxes that say, Only £1,000,000.06 more and you’ll get not only free postage but an aircraft of World War I tea towel and a stuffed penguin!  —GO AWAY. . . . no, wait, I can always use another tea towel . . . STOP THAT.

*** The heavy blanket, in fact, that is still going with me to the monks’ every Saturday night.  You know it’s supposed to get up to SEVENTY DEGREES [F] tomorrow?  I wonder if I dare . . . noooo, the chapel will still be freezing. . . .

† Barring the politicians, the road signs, the broadband availability, and all the other usual things that are wrong with first-world countries in the twenty-first century.

Regular Forum Day

 

I should declare a dedicated Regular Forum Day.  I read the comments and think oh, yes, I want to answer that . . . and then I get distracted and the comments I particularly want to answer pile up and pile up and then I can’t find the ones I was thinking about and I fuss about this one or that one which would overlap with what I wanted to say about this other one if I could find it/them and then I stress about the ones I miss out, especially the interesting and amusing ones that I meant to get back to but they didn’t fit with the hare I was pursuing right now and then of course I LOSE THEM . . . .

No, I’m not safe to cross the street alone.*

B_twin

Or – when the power is out – [smoke alarms] chirp despairingly** at you. Which I figured meant the back up battery was dead. I had presumed that the battery was what they ran on. Turns out that ours must be wired in. And no, the spare, little square battery wasn’t there. Must have used the spare last time.

At the old house we had this diabolical system where whatever you did . . . was wrong.  They were (apparently) BOTH wired in and had batteries, like yours.  There was the additional factor at the old house however that it was LARGE.  You could wander for days through the winding corridors and up and down stairs looking for the particular smoke alarm piping forlornly.  And if it started at two/five a.m., forget it.  Put a pillow over your head.  Put several pillows over your head.  Oxygen shortage will make your heart thud in your ears louder than the frelling smoke alarm.

Although for hysterical-making LOUDNESS, any of you have back-up batteries for your desktop computers?  So if the power goes out you have a few minutes to save and shut down?  I have never heard anything so loud in my entire life as that thing.  An entire chorus line of Wagnerian sopranos couldn’t make so much noise (HOJOTOHO HEIAHA-HA!!!!!!  etc).  AND IT’S A MAJOR RATBAG TO TURN OFF.  MAAAAAAAJOR.  It’s hammering you with that noise and you CAN’T THINK what you did last time to make it stoooooop—no, you can’t think, THAT’S ALL.  YOU CAN’T THINK.  I don’t believe the power has ever gone off while the desktop was on so I haven’t tested the likelihood that I’m incapable of focussing through the cacophony to save and close down which kind of destroys the point, doesn’t it?  The wretched thing is now years and years old so maybe I could replace it.***  No, better not, my even more ancient desktop, which at present is bizarrely rather reliable†, would probably pine.

Angelia

Your luck is rubbing off–my oven gave up the ghost this morning–sigh.

Oh dear.  Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . . Whimper.  Please may my Aga go on working.  Did I tell you that my central heating packed in several weeks . . . um . . . quite a few weeks ago?  Since I spend most of my time crouched by the Aga downstairs it’s not crucial although I should perhaps get it mended in time for next winter, just in case it’s more like winter and less like spring in a rainforest.  But these last two nights when we’ve had frost I do kind of pelt downstairs in a hurry to get dressed by the Aga.  In lots of hairy, fluffy layers.††

Hearthrose

I’ll see you a peacefully chirping smoke alarm in need of a battery and raise you a screaming (yes, the dragons reference is accurate) carbon monoxide sensor… which is a plug-in… and the power goes off… and it screams… and you eventually stash it in the garage, under something large, until your husband can come home and eviscerate it temporarily but thoroughly. Or until the power comes back on. Which ever is first.

So at least it’s portable?  My frelling computer back up battery weighs more than a hellterror.  Probably more than a fat hellterror.  Not to mention that little ‘not making your neighbours hate you’ thing.  I have at least one fairly scary neighbour—Phineas, Atlas and I tend to hide when we see her coming.

Carbon monoxide?  Is this something to do with your furnace/boiler?  As I recall when I was still in Maine they were starting to have screaming radon alarms.  I had no need for one, since I had entire weather systems tooling around through my charming, but aged and leaky little house.  Since it sat on granite and had two one-and-a-half storey granite boulders in the back yard I’m sure there was radon around, but it didn’t settle in and get comfy.

Diane in MN

Pooka continues to refuse to pick up the internet when we’re away from our home wifi. I can have all the little ‘signal’ bars that there’s frelling room for dancing the fandango and singing ‘I feel pretty’ and Safari just sits there saying ‘Nope.

. . . is it supposed to connect automatically to any network anywhere? Or do you have to tell it to locate all available networks, then specify which one to use? . . . Another possibility is that the bars you see are for a wifi network that’s password protected, and if you don’t have the password, you’re toast.

No, this seems to be pretty genuinely a FAULT.  The bars are to do with the automatic if-the-default-wifi-is-not-available alternate system.  Raphael has come and wrestled with it twice and all the ‘settings’ say the right things, they just don’t do what they’re told.  Tech.  Arrrgh.  Speaking of default:  tech = arrrrrrgh.  The problem I see slowly and relentlessly coming into focus is that everything except, for the moment, my elderly desktop, is getting increasingly unreliable:  Pooka, Astarte, the laptop.  I can’t replace all of them.  I wish they’d get together and offload all the nonsense on one piece of kit.  But that would be much too easy.

It was the kind of meeting where your fearless leader decides that you should start with something that makes you talk to each other. [ . . . ] The first thing on the list was: ‘knits’.

I’m not a big fan of these exercises, and if this is typical of the list, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about this one. Just as an example, I’ve found that “I knit” might generate a comment or a question, but will only start a conversation with another knitter.

I pretty much detest all pointless social flimflam.  Either let’s do something or let’s go home.  If I’d gone into the kind of career that started developing Team Bonding Seminars and Group Hug Retreats—which were rare when I was a young thing and I’ve watched proliferate alarmingly as I pursue my cranky, fortunately solo way through life—I think I might have had to change careers.  Or, possibly, had them changed out from under me when I failed the Group Hug Weekend.  In this particular instance, however, the list was long enough you didn’t have time for a conversation, you were busy tracking down the next thing on your list.  Anybody who plays a musical instrument/ knits/ likes Marmite/ would like either to DO SOMETHING or go home, please wave your hand.  I, of course, being able to get stuff wrong even when I’m not trying to get stuff wrong managed to strike up a conversation with the wrong people and had to be chivvied back into the central melee.   Sigh.

Rikke

I think this little fire-movie from Norway is quite funny.

 The geeky person starts by saying “In the beginning it felt really strange. I didn’t understand – why did they want me in their home, when they didn’t respect me at all…?”

http://www.forglemmegeifilm.no/

::falls down laughing::  Yes.  And while it’s more or less clear in context I’m grateful for the translation.

Rachel

I did the fire marshall training at my work. It was very entertaining. How often, these days, do you get to let off a fire extinguisher ON PURPOSE?

::ENVY::

 Among the other gems that stick in my mind, I remember the trainer saying that he changed the batteries on all his smoke alarms every Christmas. Presents, Queen’s speech, change the batteries. He said that way you remember to do it. He acknowledged that some people might want to do it on their birthday instead.

Oh, feh.  That battery had lasted SEVERAL YEARS.  I’m supposed to WASTE SEVERAL YEARS of battery?  I suppose I could buy a five-year diary for batteries  . . . um, no, I don’t think so.  Although I did write down, and put in Wolfgang’s glovebox, when I was obliged to buy him a new battery two (!) years ago.  So I’d know.   Hmm.  Actually I could put ‘Mar 14’ on a sticky label and tack it to the smoke alarm. . . .  maybe that’s too obvious. . . .

Shalea

YOU CAN’T TURN THE RING OFF ON MY NEW PHONE/ANSWERPHONE. . . .

 Grrrr. My husband wants us to continue to have a land line, so we have a phone/answering machine plugged into it. I work from home and no longer answer the land line (anyone I actually want to talk to calls the mobile), and so I wanted to turn the ringer off so I’m not disturbed every time someone calls wanting to sell me something or ask me to donate money to their cause.

Yes.  I am continuing to fail, speaking of failing, to get my act together to finish the process of renting Third House, and one of the obstacles I keep swerving away from is spending the several hundred pounds to force BT to put a landline in, since there isn’t one in this centre-of-town, eighty-year-old house with the phone jack in the kitchen.  Do I have to have a landline?  Unfortunately rental agencies are still kind of traditional about this.

 There is no “ringer off” button on our machine. Or on either handset.

 I think we figured out that for ours, at least, we can silence the ring on the handset but it took some digging and poking in the menus (and I’m usually good at figuring this stuff out).

Well I feel better that the insanity is general.  I am NOT usually good at figuring this stuff out . . . but eventually I managed to find the very small print in the handbook that SAYS you can’t turn the ring off the portable handset.  It does not, however, tell you why.

* * *

* Fortunately I rarely am crossing the street alone.  Usually I am accompanied by hellcritters.

** Just by the way I am interested that Australian smoke alarms make the same dying-battery noises as British smoke alarms.

*** First I have to buy a washing machine.  I’m still whining and wincing.  I need to get on with it though.  The extra-years’ guarantee deal is only till the end of the month.  Not to mention that Peter is threatening to divorce me if I don’t get my stuff out of his washing machine.

† No, no!  I didn’t say that!  Never use the “r” word about computers, it makes them nasty!

†† No, the hellcritters come after the dressing.  Although some of the hairy-and-fluffy kind of migrates.

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