A Brief Respite

As ever, I made a list of things I wanted to get accomplished during my time inbetween jobs. And, just like normal, I’ve done less than a third of that. In my defense, the amount of time I had off was shorter than I expected - I was planning on a week; I got two days. But still, there’s a sense of ‘I should be doing more!’ nagging at the back of my mind.

Having said that, aside from getting things organized for the housewarming party on Saturday (are you coming? You should! Email for details if you haven’t got them yet), I have finally, finally managed to make a set of gummies that I didn’t want to throw away in the dustbin five minutes after finishing them. They’re chewy and shiny, and with the help of the confectionery funnel that my sister bought me for Christmas a couple of years ago, they were pretty easy to deposit into their molds. What I need now is a 3D printer to make custom starch-imprint molds, and a room dedicated to storing cornstarch-filled frames. The former might end up being an easier accomplishment than the latter, I think.

gummies

(I have idly thought that the back of the garden has promise for a multi-level kitchen / library outhouse. When I say ‘outhouse’, though, I mean something like this, which is somewhat more grandiose than your usual outhouse. So if somebody would like to give me all the monies to start building that, I’ll get right on it, but for now, it’s strictly living in my head. The library has a great view of the warehouse chimneys of Durham, I assure you)

Anyway, today has been mostly spent on going to USCIS to get my biometrics taken. A twenty-minute visit that sucked up pretty much my whole day. A visit to the DMV was also on the agenda today, but Google Maps lied to me, and I won’t be able to make it to either of the ones that do exist before they shut. So the learner’s permit renewal is still some time off. While I’ve been living here for two years now and have survived without a car, it’s clear I am going to need to do something about that. Or get an ELF.

(Yes, in Durham, they’ve rediscovered the Sinclair C5. And they’re serious about it. Sir Clive would be proud. And then try and flog them the back stock of Hoover motors he probably has squirreled away in a warehouse in Essex)

Quiet evening ahead, and then a new day, a new job, tomorrow. But with familiar faces, which makes things easier.

That Big News

Sorry for the missing update last week; I had planned to tell you all about my surprise return to OSI, but it got delayed a little due to a few issues behind the scenes here and there. And then I scooped the blog by announcing it on Twitter. So you probably all know about that already. Not much more to say, I think - I’ve really enjoyed my time at ReverbNation, and I wasn’t looking for a new job at all, but the OSI was in the end too tempting to pass up. I start next Wednesday as a Senior Developer. Quite excited.

Hmm, so what else did I do this week? Oh, that’s right, I finished writing my book.

And I started and finished Red or Dead, the new novel by David Peace. It’s something. It’s a 700 page hagiography of Bill Shankly. Now, Peace has a reputation for repetition in his writing style. Red of Dead takes that style and stretches it out to breaking point…and then kicks it in the back of the net. At home, at Anfield. Here’s a sample:

One week later, Liverpool Football Club travelled to Bramall Lane, Sheffield. And Liverpool Football Club drew nil–nil with Sheffield United. Liverpool Football Club then beat Blackpool Football Club away, Liverpool Football Club then beat West Ham United five–one away. And Liverpool Football Club then beat Fulham Football Club. At home, at Anfield. Liverpool Football Club then drew one-all with West Ham United. Three days later, Liverpool Football Club travelled to White Hart Lane, London. And Liverpool Football Club lost two–one to Tottenham Hotspur. That evening, Liverpool Football Club ..

It goes on like that for seven hundred pages. Every fixture, every goal. At home, at Anfield, or away. It’s quite hypnotizing, in its own way. And polarizing. I loved it wholeheartedly, and it made me realize how much I miss football being just there. I don’t watch it, I moan when my sister puts on another game and manages to find games even after the season has ended, but it has always been there. The FA Cup. My granddad talking about Sheffield Wednesday. My birthday. 1989. Fantasy Football. Watching the World Cup Final in ‘94 in a hotel room in America, yet probably no closer than if we were watching it at home. The night Man Utd beat Bayern Munich in 1999, winning the Treble. All the World Cups, and how every Kinder egg in ‘86 had that Mexican mascot inside.

Red or Dead reminded me of that. And winter, and the night-time.

No you won't, said Bill Shankly. You'll see me at Anfield, John. And Anfield is not in England. Anfield is in Liverpool. And Liverpool is not in England. Liverpool is in a different country, John. In a different country, in a different league.

Stolen Watermelons

It’s an odd thing to steal, but it wasn’t just the watermelons. Somebody came into our garden on Wednesday during the day and had a good rummage around. They trampled on our tomato plants, cut out a ripe watermelon and some nearly ripe ones, and also made off with quite a few unripe apples. Which was less than pleasant to come home to, especially since Stacie was going to cut the melon that night and take it to share with some other people that don’t despise watermelon (it’s just nasty!).

We’re at the intersection of a fairly busy road, so it could have been anybody, really. We had been idly thinking about getting gates to close off the driveway entrances to let Mukhi roam free, but sadly, it seems they’re going to be obtained somewhat sooner than we planned to keep people out as well as keep our dog in.

Meanwhile, Oscar seems to have taken up residence in the room full of boxes and meows loudly any time you come near him. Not sure what that’s about. Maybe he’s signalling that he wants to build a cat adventure playground with the leftover cardboard. I, however, am thinking about bouncy castles for a housewarming party, so I guess I can’t criticise him too much about wanting adventures.

Today saw my first attempt at making chocolates in the smaller kitchen space in the new home. I miss Trinity’s kitchen. Things were somewhat cramped, even after I made a makeshift island out of leftover boxes (and yes, Oscar did give me a filthy look as I took some of his boxes away), but I eventually managed to get a batch of strawberry ganache chocolates made and packed away for tomorrow. I’m thinking that one large island and one smaller cart may be a good idea for adding work surfaces but not cluttering the kitchen up too much. And! I’ve just put the dishwasher on for the first time.

I have become a middle-class bore. I might have some interesting news for you all this week, though.

Life In East Durham

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Turns out that moving house can suck up quite a bit of time. Though the actual move didn’t take too long in itself; TROSA came early on a Saturday morning, picked up all the boxes and unpacked them across town in just over two hours. What takes the time is unpacking. Especially when you have twenty-seven boxes of books. Ahem.

It took a weekend to get them together and the house in a position for being able to sleep and shower. And it wasn’t until this weekend that we unpacked most of the kitchen things and used the purple oven for the first time.

No really, it’s very purple.

purple oven

It’s starting to feel like home. I’ve worked out the route to work (it takes about three times as long to walk, but there’s buses, and heck, I could use the extra few steps), clothes are unpacked and have been washed, Transformers are out, and books are arranged into something resembling order. Oh, and I now have chocolate shelving.

chocolate room

And I have a special chair. A Dazzle Chair.

dazzle

It’s a housewarming gift from Tammy, who has sadly left us this week to go live again with her family in South Carolina after graduating in her Pathologist’s Assistant programme at Duke. And no, she is never allowed to talk to Bonnie to swap tips. It would not be good for my health, I think. Anyway, it’s very dazzling, and I don’t think it’s possible to have a chair more suited to me. Unless it was made from concrete as well. Maybe for Christmas? Maybe? Maybe?

So, settling in. And hopefully, updates will be better from here on out…

Mold

It started innocently enough. I was attempting to start packing up the copious amount of books that occupy the WALL OF BOOKCASES in our current house ready for the movers to take across Durham this upcoming weekend. And, as you might remember from a previous installment, I packed everything into boxes back in Bicester almost two years ago, and those empty boxes were in the basement. Oho! This wouldn’t take very long at all.

Except, when I got downstairs and started checking out the boxes, there was a slight problem. Well, not so much slight, more of an increasingly panic-stricken realisation that almost all my boxes were exhibiting signs of mold growth. Some of them had quite a considerable amount of it.

I ripped open boxes of CDs, pulling out jewel boxes that were showing signs of damp and mold spores. I pulled out old papers that were damp to the touch. I grabbed a box of Transformers, including my boxed European Overlord. The box started disintegrating in my hands as I pulled out the styrofoam, white beads of foam having turned to black.

These are just things, of course. But they’re not just things - a CD collection that took decades to amass, where each and every CD has a memory associated with it, from almost freezing to death walking into town to buy Don’t Look Back In Anger, to buying Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada in the high humid heat of Wilmington, straight from the set of Dawson’s Creek. There are notebooks, legal pads full of the writing I did from 2002 until 2011, including all the notes for my interviews and reviews when I was working for Static. Almost every Transformer I have ever owned. And other boxes full of irreplaceable items and memories.

Let’s just say, I didn’t take the possibility of losing all my childhood and teenage things very well. Everything that could be potentially saved is now in plastic tubs and drowned in rice. We’re hoping that this will be able to kill the mold and dry everything out (and thanks to Tammy, who happened to be dropping by to wish a happy July 4th, and instead ended up going on a late-night adventure to Wal-Mart to buy all the rice. So much rice).

On the bright side, we do finally have a washer and drier over at the new house, so we don’t have to venture in the basement here ever again. Which is one of the few bright spots of the week (along with getting the Nest connected, so we can now control our thermostat from our phones. It’s like the future, but only without hoverboards and jetpacks)

Happy Canada Day

Remember, Canadians - next year we can all celebrate two hundred years since we burnt down The White House. I do plan on making a cake. But only if I get my permanent green card in the meantime. Don’t want to unnecessarily chance these things, you know.

Not a huge amount to report this week. Well, a few things, I guess. Our current house appears to be rented from August as of this evening, I managed to donate three entire boxes of things to Goodwill today, which I think absolves me from hoarder status for another ten years, we finally have an Internet connection at the new house, and I finally finished watching I’m Alan Partridge. Only late by over a decade.

Oh, and I started working on a book that will be published later in the year.

(nothing too fancy - but it will be in English this time, which is a step up from the last one!)

So that was my week, mostly. I feel like these weekly updates end up being little more than a few disjointed sentences about things that have happened, and I never up saying anything of use. Not that I did much more before, but they seemed to have more of a purpose. Even if I was just going on about Johnny Boy.

Now, though, to bed and Ambien. For I need to sleep for the new week.

Various Beards

The beard The beard The beard

The Beard

Warning, this post contains a horrible excess of hair.

Normally, pictures of me would be fairly well hidden, but I’ve been told there needs to be some documentary evidence of The Beard. So, then, after a week, here we are:

The beard

The only reason it exists is because I was worried that the cellulitis could have spread to my face if I cut myself shaving. So the reasonably sensible thing to do was stop shaving until I was sure that the infection had passed. I now have a beard of many colours (seriously, I have bits of jet-black and ginger in this thing. WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?).

The decision has proved almost universally popular with everybody in Durham except for me. I’m looking forward to this upcoming weekend, wherein I will take a fresh razor blade and shave the entire thing off. And then in a bid to re-establish my hipster credentials, I shall make cronuts, perhaps with a bourbon vanilla pastry cream filling. Oh yes.

(also, yes they are new glasses, but they’re not that much different to the older ones, only slightly more hipster, coming from Warby Parker.)

Back to work tomorrow, and for the first time in over a week, I will wear shoes! AND SOCKS! Standards have slipped around here, I tell you.

Two Wednesdays

There were two potentially life-changing events last Wednesday. The first happened in the afternoon when I signed lots of bits of paper and then became the owner of a house over four thousand miles and an ocean away from where I was born. The second was the period between 20:00 and 22:00 where I was running a high fever and we were wondering whether I would have to be rushed into the hospital on a suspected MRSA infection.

Thankfully, the latter, while stubborn and annoyingly impervious to the first round of drugs, doesn’t seem to be MRSA. Hurrah for keeping a foot. Still, I’ve spent most of my first week of homeownership confined to bed, with incidental trips back to Urgent Care and then Duke ER when it looked like the infection was spreading up my ankle. I haven’t quite got over the craziness of handing over a credit card whilst laid up in a hospital bed (this past week has cost me over $300 so far), but thank goodness I have health insurance, I guess. Also, I don’t think I’d have got through the week without Tammy watching out for me - even if her medical diagnoses were somewhat hampered because she couldn’t simply cut me open like her normal subjects (she’s a pathologist’s assistant, so most of them tend to be on the dead side, too).

In my absence, work has begun on the house - contractors started today on the foundations and the fireplaces, while on Thursday, the entire roof will be ripped off and replaced with shiny new energy-efficient shingle. And apparently, it’ll take at most two days unless they uncover something hideous under the existing roof. After that, it’ll be pretty much done. We have a few shinies that we’re splurging out on, but we’re not trying to go too crazy. Indeed, our new couch didn’t cost us anything except the petrol between Durham and Cary.

We hope that after we’ve got things set up (and the water gets turned on!), you’ll all pop by @314Driver sometime soon…

Hard Drivin'

I think I’m almost over the jetlag now. Took a lot longer than expected, and my lunch-time encounter with a person that wanted help building a computer that could interpret his out of body events to predict the future did make me wonder if I was hallucinating after being awake for about forty hours. Fun times.

Barring any unforeseen complications, I will own a house from Wednesday at 2pm. Stripping the roof starts a week Monday. If all goes well, we’ll be moving at the end of July, or if things go really well, a little before that.

(on that note, if you happen to be living in the Triangle area and are looking to rent a three bedroom, two bathroom house that’s merely a block away from Fullsteam and Motorco, why not get in touch with me?)

The new house will be taking over our current house’s Twitter account in the coming days - follow along at @houseofpi. I’ve been picking up little sensors here and there with the idea of creating a tweeting, data-collecting house. And then Tom Coates got there first. Damn his eyes. But I figure that there’s room on Twitter for a few tweeting houses, so get ready for a feed full of temperatures and humidity values. I know that’s what you want. It’s also quite handy that our new house has the same number as our current one, so I don’t have to come up with a new name.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to trawl Amazon to try and find a decent deal on a mattress in the Memorial Weekend sales. Who knew that they were so expensive?