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Date:2016-09-25 02:27
Subject:Just occasionally

Just occasionally I feel slightly settled. I still have to catch myself and remind myself that I live here. This is home now.

Coming back to our apartment does feel like home, kinda. It’s not decorated the way we would decorate (I know Americans, at least in the PNW seem to love brown, I still don’t). It’s not our style of building. But it’s got our stuff laid out in a cozy way.

So that feels much better.

But now even outside, the americanness of it doesn’t make me feel weird, the post mail boxes on sticks outside everyone’s houses, the low-lying buildings, mainly single story… it’s becoming background to where I live.

I still flash back to random things, the railway station in Windsor, the streets of terraced brick, and have a ‘wow, I really don’t live in the UK any more’ moment. And they’re still pretty frequent.

But as I lay on our sofa I think, hey, I’m home. With my love. And that’s good.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-09-20 14:00
Subject:Uh, oh.

I appear to have traded a job where my availability was horrendous because my hours were all over the place, and where I was exhausted from switching from days to nights all the time to one where I am exhausted from working an improbable number of hours in each week. At least for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited by the new job, and it’s fun teaching. But I’m knackered already and it’s only day two…

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-08-30 20:14
Subject:Okay, maybe I should do more with it

So, on my night shifts (last for a good long time, I presume), I re-read my NaNoWriMo chunk – from 2013. It turns out I still don’t hate it, and I’d quite like to know what happens ‘next’. Which makes me think maybe it’s non-awful and potentially worth me fiddling with it some more.

I mean, there are problems, many and manifold, and there’s some continuity issues. But overall, I quite like it.


Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-08-30 20:11
Subject:Prolonged Wailing

So remember how last week I said we would be getting perc holes dug? Remember the proto-enthusiasm?


’bout that.


See, we called on Monday – agreed a rough time with our groundworks contractor – and then called the septic guy – and arranged a time. Then Kathryn called back our groundworks contractor – and couldn’t reach him. She tried 3 more times up to yesterday leaving messages each time. I tried this lunchtime – still couldn’t reach him.

Given that we were meant to be there tomorrow afternoon we finally gave in and rang our septic guy and said “we think we need to cancel, we can’t reach Chris”.

Our septic guy messages our groundworks guy and…gets an answer a few minutes later. Apparently he’s out of town now because ‘we didn’t confirm the time’.


So I think we now need a new groundworks contractor. Which is upsetting because we liked Chris. And he didn’t talk to us like we are idiots. Right at this point I feel more like going and renting a damn digger and doing it ourselves. I know that’s foolish, it would take far too long and wouldn’t be nearly the standard someone skilled would do. But it’s really, really frustrating.

So I’m feeling really demoralized. I realize this is just overflow stress because yesterday was my last day as an Emergency Nurse – which is what I’ve been for the past 9 years. And it feels weird to not be one, and to be technically unemployed* – and I’m having that whole existential angst thing related to my soul probably having made it about as far as Newport**, and me being here.

It’s not so much homesickness, it’s more trying to understand who I am when so many of the supports of the constituent parts of who I am have gone or are far away. If I wasn’t so set in being me, it’d be a great opportunity to reinvent myself.

* well, super-technically, I’m unemployed from Thursday – I’m just not working today or tomorrow.
** Arcturuan mega-camel speeds.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-08-28 03:02
Subject:Arr! Make it walk the plank…

So I have been trying to set up our Subsonic server so that I can actually listen to podcasts (and – I suspect – with a bit of cunning BBC radio 6 music, which would be amazing) while I’m in the car (via my phone). This, one might imagine, would not be difficult.

Open the relevant port on the router (which I always forget to do) – and lo, it registers the service on subsonic.org and you can connect. Only not.

Because it turns out that the Xfinity Arris router is, shall we say, “well known” as a point of failure in anything which needs port forwarding. There have followed several days of trying to work out what I was doing wrong – I’d opened the port, and when I tested it at home it showed as open – but I couldn’t connect when I left the house. I discovered today that it just randomly re-closes the port. It’ll be fine and open for a while and then will suddenly close. It still says that the port is open. It still reports that the port is open. But it isn’t.

If you tell it to close it and reopen it then it will reopen it, for a bit. For an unidentified random period of time.

So that’s a quality piece of hardware.

Having checked the Xfinity forums, the answer is “buy another router, these don’t work”. Which reminds me muchly of my experience with a BT router. The funny thing is that if you are using the port (so if it’s open when I leave the house and I hit play on Subsonic as I’m leaving) then it works until I pause playback. Then at some point after that it’ll get bored and close the port.

Which leads me to think that perhaps I’ll have to add a router to the list of stuff to buy, which is irritating, because frankly, this is a pretty basic router feature and it really, really ought to work.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-08-27 11:40
Subject:And that’s some quality homesickness

So for work we’re having a potluck. And I am bringing in clotted cream – assuming I successfully make it – and I was hit by this blinding desire to be sat in a rain drenched cafe in the Lake District, damp kagoul on the back of the chair, watching the rain streak down the windows… Hot steaming cup of tea and a scone with clotted cream and jam in front of me.

Sometimes being so far away is remarkably hard.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-08-25 23:30
Subject:So next week (house updates start here, we hope)

So when we got our septic design done, we failed to communicate sufficiently well that the giant, old, big leaf maple tree was one of the trees that we were absolutely committed to saving. Since then we’ve moved house and got new jobs, and furnished our new apartment and so on. This has meant our house has been on hold. Given that we can’t put it up this year, that’d taken the pressure off anyway…

But now? Now we want to get moving again which is always tricky. Getting momentum going for something as big as a house project is challenging.

With that in mind, next week we are hopefully* going out to cut a little pathway so that we can move the septic. The first step in getting our house built. We also really need to go out and fill back in the original perc holes.

The original plan** called for the septic to essentially lie into the roots of the maple tree:


The new plan:


See the beautiful modifications. Actually, this was done as a very quick sketch to explain to our septic guy what we want to do. He is, shall we say, ‘reluctant’ to be drawn on whether there will be any problems doing this, although we’re unsure why there would be, or why the soil 50 ft to the east of the current perc holes would be dramatically worse than the soil in the place they dug the first lot. And we both are of the opinion that there’s a lot of land we’re currently planning to leave ‘as is’ and just maintain, all of which we could consider for septic sites…

Anyhow, this time we’re going to be there in person so we can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We’ve also marked out roughly the route of the drive (which we’ve kinda-sorta-sketched on the map). We’re also hoping to put the septic near the drive so it can be emptied, when that time comes.

Once the septic and well are in… we can actually start moving forward. Septic, well, power, foundations… then we get to design the building. The yay.

* While our groundworks guy gave us the suggested day, he’s not yet confirmed that we’re booked in with him for the time we said.
** We’re actually building a 2 bed house, but putting in a 3 bed septic

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-08-25 05:35
Subject:ElectraWoman and DynaGirl

So, tonight we watched ElectraWoman and DynaGirl.


It was fun, funny, and at times had some great, great jokes.

But it really needed a waaaay tighter script. I dunno if this harkens back to the original, but seriously, it was slow moving. Which is a shame, because like I said, fun and funny.

I think it was worth getting and watching.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-08-24 18:16
Subject:Org Failure

So my theory, such as it was, with setting the training class for 1200-1500 (rather than 1500-1800) was that I would grab lunch before hand. BUT I didn’t count on me actually hauling my ass into the outside to do exercise*, but which mean that because I didn’t get back until 9:30, and I spent 10 minutes faffing around warming down and drinking water… and then I spent another chunk of time trying to work out whether I was going to start baking bread before breakfast or after**, so I didn’t get breakfast until after 10.

Now, were I still back in Brizzle I’d go and grab a yummy but not too big lunch food from Hart’s***. But because I’m not, and I don’t yet know where to get a yummy but not to big lunch food (around here. I could in town, I think).

The only place I know near me that does a decent lunch is Bagel Brothers. They do a yummy bagel, but it’s not really small lunch before CPR training sized.

So today’s lunch shall be a banana, a plum, 3 crackers, a small piece of Welsh cheese, and a Lara bar.

Which is one way for me to lose the few kilos of weight I’d like to lose. But not really ideal.

I perhaps should have thought through the timing of my run a bit more.

* which I did, go me.
** neither, I cleaned the breadmaker and then discovered that we’re too low on yeast. But there were several vacillating moments of “I’m hungry” and “but the bread won’t be ready in time” and “I’m hungry” and then “it won’t be ready in time whatever I do” and “oh, shit, there’s no yeast”.
*** Mmmm. Pastie.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-08-18 05:32
Subject:Enter title here (because I’ve not)

The last few months have continued the stressful theme, with us moving to an apartment/cottage/small place having concluded that the amount of building that we’re going to get done this year is – well – less than we’d hoped. We’re still hoping to get the septic, well and possibly the foundations and drive / access road in. However, any building of the house is conclusively off until next year.

When we realised that we decided to move, and the last month has been a fairly urgently toned attempt to get our apartment to somewhere comfortable and relaxing. We trekked down to Portland to order our sofa*, and we found a book safe, which is beautiful and turn of the (last) century, and is filling up with our books, and looking delightful.

It’s facing our 1896 piano, which seems appropriate, albeit a little odd in what is clearly most commonly a student/bachelor pad.


So last weekend we decided to say stuff the world and spend some time looking after ourselves. We had a massage, we used our gift tokens to go and buy tea and spices (we’ve had only salt and pepper since we moved in here), we had lunch at Darby’s, played board games, we watched Ghostbusters (2016)**, we went swimming in a lake, and we went and sat in a park eating icecream, reading the paper and enjoying the view of the inlet. It was pretty much awesome and wonderful and really necessary because Kathryn and I have seen each other only in passing so far this month – and will for the rest of the month because of my working hours.

And at the weekend we got a call to say that our sofa was ready. Up until now we’ve been using camping chairs, which are reasonably comfy but have no snuggling capacity. And then today, thanks to our lovely friends lending us their minivan, I made the run to Portland and back to get it. Sadly I couldn’t drop in on friends down there although traffic was so bad coming into and out-of Portland, I probably could have done without actually impacting the journey back substantially.

We even managed, after some trepidation and somewhat inept failure, to get the sofa into our house (it just fits through the door). And now we’re sat on a delightful modern take on mid-century and it’s suuuuper comfortable.

And y’know what? It’s starting to feel more like home.

I still have internal conflict about leaving the UK, or leaving the UK for the US (and not somewhere more liberal and lefty – and that would be more challenging for us both linguistically and culturally – like, say, Iceland****), especially as the debate continues to rage around Trump (you won’t be able to unsee that link) and I worry that the US will follow the UK’s deathspiral into rightwing insanity. But, at this point, I’m sat on the sofa, with a cup of one of my favourite teas, and I’m with the person I love, and y’know what, it feels pretty good to be in this moment.

* 4 to 6 weeks for delivery… being as it was handmade in Oregon – just a block or two from the store in which we saw one design and said “we like that, but we prefer the fabric on that one”….
** Which was awesome.***
*** I’m really disappointed to find that Kate McKinnon seems to have some significant transmisogyny in her recent past, because I was busy adoring her and her character.
**** Which I’ve never been to but is, I’m given to understand, very pretty

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-08-11 21:26
Subject:I’m not sure if it’s better or worse

So, the media server has been reinstalled. It has a shiny clean ubuntu install on it.

Yesterday’s endless stream of disasters seems to have slowed to a steady stream of awkwardness.


And thankfully after endless updates which failed to fix the graphics card issue (which I’d forgotten about until yesterday when I foolishly applied an update in hopes it might fix other problems) the graphics card now works. This is because while I used to be a fairly adept Linux sysadmin I’m now somewhere between n00b and foolishly, dangerously, overconfident.

“Oh yes”, I think, “I remember how to do this.”

Yes, possibly back in 2001. But now you’ve just removed a foundation block and the whole edifice is trembling prior to falling over.

Anyhow, I’ve got the slimserver on there, and I’ve got the subsonic server on there, and there was a positive whirlwind of excitement. I’ve got the disks automatically mounting. Oh, the thrill.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that for reasons not yet fathomed by me, that after about 10 minutes it disconnects from the WiFi network if I’m not logged in. I’m tempted to just go for the really easy lazy and insecure fix of saying ‘auto log in’ for me, or at least testing that solution. Because tweaking it to say ‘keep connected to this wifi network’ didn’t fix it. Despite the fact it was streaming music over the wifi using Logitech’s software it still logged itself out.


Still, it’s a step forward, and now back to studying.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-07-28 16:18
Subject:The one thing that faintly amuses me about the Brexit situation

Is that the rest of the world has finally got the chance to say to the UK “No, you’re a shitty small country with no real power”. Europe pandered to our whims because having Britain in Europe looked good. And because we were part of Europe – and Europe listened to us – other countries around the world still put up with our shit.

…but now, lots of countries are finally getting the chance to kick the bully while it’s down.

…and all the f’kin racist Brexit politicians are suddenly discovering nobody gives a shit what the 3rd rate little country in the atlantic thinks.

It’s a hideous disaster, but watching their pride in Great Britain’s important position in the world disintegrate is one of the few slightly redeeming features.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-07-19 00:12
Subject:Unnecessary whinging

Cut for unnecessary whinging.

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-07-15 17:57
Subject:We have an apartment!

Of sorts. It’s kind of a studio-garage-partial conversion. It’s 500sq ft of tiny, but it’s our space that we shall unpack some of our stuff into.

Of course, that means that we have fun activities planned for the weekend like “Oh, we’ll need furniture” and “a mattress would be handy!” and “ah, yes, we got rid of the printer before we left” which Kathryn finds very useful for her job.

To be fair, our old printer wouldn’t have worked for her job anyway.

But I have just commenced the massive spending spree that will be us – 6 months from moving – sort of moving in*.

* We move in Thursday! After the EV capable socket gets installed. Wheee.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-07-06 22:24
Subject:Oh, well this is super fun.

So, I realise that having admitted to myself that yes, I do need a root canal, and that the tooth that they filled in England just before I left rotted enough in the 6 months in between the ‘you should get it checked in 6 months, or if you get any more pain, because I think you might need a root canal’ and the 6 months being up that I now definately need a root canal I might not be in the most positive of moods. Especially since I’ve already fore-spent $700 on the dental work already and this is now going to be more expense on top of that.

…and I managed to bite deeply into my lip after the last dental treatment which then got infected, which then made me spend Sunday lying down and exhausted and so ill I didn’t actually want to do anything. Not dinking on the computer, or watching TV. I just felt like absolute crap.

…and my allergies are kicking my arse *spectacularly* this year.

…and given the $700 bill which needs paying for the incorrect septic design that – and the $300 more for the new PERC holes and the $400 more for the new design work…

So I might not be feeling super positive right this instant.

But trying to find a 6 month rental is proving to be super difficult. Most of these people want 1 year’s lease, which we don’t want. And we don’t really want carpet because we suspect that carpet is what’s driving my allergies to be worse than normal (the UK allergy advice is ‘get rid of carpet’ as step one). Add in the requirement for somewhere to park the EV (with ideally a 40A outlet – although we’ve been running the gauntlet with a 30A outlet here) and it feels like we’re on to a losing streak.

I’ve had repeated disappointment over the last couple of days with people saying “rented it already” or “we need a longer lease”. So yes. Going well this is not.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-06-28 21:52
Subject:God damn

So, our PERC holes had to be dug on a day when we weren’t available to be there. That’s because we were running to meet the ‘if we want to build this autumn’ deadline — which we found out a few days ago is actually unachievable.

It turns out that even had we got all of our ducks in a row (which they are pretty much) then we couldn’t have hit it because the permit approval process for the septic is way longer than we were told by our septic designer. Of course, just before we found this out we had a great chat with the house permitting guy who told us that he ended up reviewing it – his current timeframe would mean we’d be able to make our build-date targets (based on the septic designer’s estimate of times). Of course we were super excited – then we find out that the permit process is at least double what our designer said… and sadness.

So, anyway, to get back (at least vaguely) to the point. We find out it’s not doable and are then out on the plot with our to-be-arbourist planning where our house will be and find that the oldest, largest tree in the entire 5.5 acres is the one they’ve decided to stick the septic right in the middle of the root system for.

This would, unsurprisingly, kill a beautiful tree.

Seriously, we talked about needing to protect the place with our guy-the-excavator – who dug the holes for our septic guy, and I expect that conversation happened with the designer too, although I wasn’t there. But Kathryn and I always rave about this beautiful tree.

So we go out with our arbourist who is first up horrified at the potential damage done already, then we realise that the system is pegged out right in the root system – and the alternate is also in the root system of the same tree.



So now we’re faced with nearly $700 of costs for relocating it because we took our eye off the ball and thought that people might actually give a shit about their environment. When we talked about it before hand the septic guy was all “oh, we’ll look at the site and dig some test holes and pick the best location”. All the holes are within about 40′ of this one poor tree.

Let me remind you again, 5.5 acres.

Oh lord. This is not something we need.

In other news, we’re off to look at some lettings to see if we can find a short term, uncarpeted 6 month lease so that we can do our building planning through the winter and put it up in the spring.

Also: The cake I’m baking erupted in the oven. Cue hideous burning smell. Also, in the 35 minute cooking time it’s come out like jelly. I’ve no idea why – it’s staying in there longer, but seriously? And also yesterday’s trip to the dentist turned out to be the first of 2 (on top of the original 2) – as my tooth had rotted out enough that removing the filling left me with a crown, instead of a filling, and he still is wondering whether I need a root canal. Yay.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-06-25 12:16
Subject:Oh crap

Identity is a funny thing. Before we moved I didn’t really consider the impact that not living in Britain would have on my own identity. I mean, I considered myself British – my friends often remarked that I was one of the most English people they’d ever met: driving a Morris Minor, listening to radio 4, drinking copious quantities of tea.

But I also considered myself a European. Really, fundamentally, right down in my heart that’s what I felt.

It kind of came to the fore moving to the US – because people ask where I’m from – and my desire is to say “Europe”, which is dreadfully uninformative. Sometimes it’d end up with me saying England as I scrabbled for an answer, but usually I’d settle on ‘Britain’ or ‘the UK’, but I’d stumble around mentally before uttering it. Yes – specifically I was born in England – and that’s definitely part of my identity, but my dad was from Wales, my mum is from Sri Lanka. Not only that, but my family have always been global in our outlook. We have travelled around as much as funds would allow and from a very young age I experienced the world outside the parochial boundaries of England’s green and pleasant lands. I very much felt that I was a product not merely of my birthplace, but of my heritage, my experiences and my upbringing.

I like to look outside the small box that is England and remember that diversity brings strength and vitality to communities. That the places I’ve least liked are the ones where diversity is lacking.

And so I cried this morning.

Britain – well, England and Wales, have decided to withdraw from the world.

I fear for friends and family there – almost every piece of LGBTQ protective legislation has been forced on the UK from Europe. Job protections, civil liberties, they’re all a result of Europe saying to Britain, no you can’t treat your people so badly. And as many of you are aware I’m not white – and nor is my mother or my sister – or her children. And they’re living in a world where the minority of Brexiters who are deeply, deeply racist are under the impression that the majority of Britain is with them. I don’t doubt that most ‘Leave’ voters aren’t vicious, xenophobic, small minded thugs. I don’t doubt that many of those who supported Britain’s exit either didn’t really believe it would happen, or were just voicing frustration at a dysfunctional political system and the austerity plans that have failed to improve their lives.

But like those who laugh at racist or rape jokes – giving ‘that kind of person’ tacit support – the bigots who shout at minorities and who would see the clocks turned back to the 1950s? They’ll take this situation as proof that everyone agrees with them. They’ll hold this pyrrhic victory close to their hearts and endeavour to embed their vile, hateful message deeper in British society.

And so I cried.

I don’t know what will become of the UK. I don’t know whether it will survive as ‘the United Kingdom’. Scotland and Ireland clearly have every right to sod off and leave England and Wales to sink in the mire of what may happen. I faintly cling to the tiny hope that the clear reluctance of the politicians in the UK to actually press the big red article 50 button is a sign of some partial get-out. Something which may leave the UK at least lurking like Norway on the outskirts of European integration.

But as to what actually happens next, I don’t know. I hope I’m wrong, but I side with those who think that this is a massive, massive disaster for the UK. I’ve often commented that I didn’t really understand why anyone listened to the UK anymore – it’s not like we actually still have an empire. In Europe we had amazing levels of influence. But now we’ve thrown that influence away. And now they don’t need to listen to us whine, or give us special vetos and get-outs. No one needs to give the UK special treatment, because we are just some cruddy little island off the coast of mainland Europe. So while I hope I’m wrong, I have little optimism to accompany that thought.

When we left for the US I thought the UK was going to hell in handbasket. I’d no idea it’d get there quite so quickly though.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-06-22 01:35

So I’m still working on some kind of bread recipe that’s a bit like decent British bread, until I feel like doing something more sourdoughy.

After various experiments I’ve had the most success playing with this recipe.

1 cup warm water (tepid)
2 tablespoons sugar (trying a variety of things – thinking I might try molasses next)
2.5 teaspoons active dried yeast

1/4 cup oil (used vegetable, as in the original recipe – now trying olive)
2 cups white bread flour
1/2 cup (ish) brown bread flour
1/2 cup (ish) spelt flour
Perhaps a dash of wheat gluten
1 teaspoon salt

Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan. Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes. Add in oil, flours, gluten if using, and salt to the yeast and press start.

This makes a lightish loaf which isn’t structurally great but tastes nicer than the stuff we’ve bought. It’s kind of like a fair-quality UK supermarket loaf. Hardly amazing, but nicer than anything I’ve managed to find in the supermarket here.

I killed my sourdough, largely because it never seemed to be very exciting. I’d like to get in to making sourdough properly, rather than in the breadmaker, but haven’t quite summoned the energy. With shift work, sourdough’s a little tricky to keep alive and enthusiastic.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-06-13 17:59

So, this morning – after many discussions with my beloved – I called our realtor and said yes, we’d like that land.

We’re spending an enormous chunk of our cash on it.

We can only actually build on it if we get the loan which we’re only income approved on. So this is quite scary at this point…

We may be about to be come long-term campers, but hopefully we’re about to become builders.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Date:2016-06-08 17:09
Subject:It’s been over ten years

But I still deeply want to get a copy of the white label Punk-a-wallah’s remix of Desi on the Streets of Calcutta. I heard it once on Radio 1 – then ran home and downloaded the show and saved that segment, thinking (foolishly) I’d just buy a copy of it on vinyl. Then I discovered it’s a whitelabel remix. Then I found out how hard it is to get hold of.

I’ve wanted it for 10 years, and I’m aware it’s going to remain an unscratchable itch.

The only copy I’ve ever seen is my own. And I’ve looked.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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