2017 Year in Review

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Wow this has certainly been a busy year, and a very very social one. I left writing up the friends and family section til last because it just seemed to go on forever and ever!

Our year began at home, with Ben and EffanC over for nibbles and a small party. Annie and the family came over the next day for chaos and Turkish food. Saw Scott and Kerry and the kids on the first day back at work before they went home.

We had one holiday this year - a cruise on the Queen Mary 2 out of Hong Kong (with a couple of days in Macau beforehand). I was super excited about it, and it lived up to expectations. Although I felt like we didn't quite belong there, on account of not being retired highly paid executives. We never made it to Queensland this year - things were just too *complicated*. I did do two day trips to Sydney to inspect my flat. And there was a work trip to Melbourne for two days.

At work I swapped teams after not quite fitting in with the old team (I'm too dumb for that team!). Still doing much the same work, but with different technology. The project I joined had been going for about two years, and I figure I have about two years of work to clean up the mess that has been made! I had a little bit of weekend work doing upgrades to various things and monitoring of some events. The majority of my new section is in Melbourne, so we went down in September for a two-day planning session. The highlight of the trip was the amazing flight down, and catching up with David twice. We ran a trivia night in March. Unfortunately the winning table weren't going to be around to run the next one, so we asked the second-place getters if they'd do it. They said yes, but never did it. So I'll probably run another one in February or March. We had a whiskey night in June which was a bit of fun. I went with the sweetie to SplunkLive! and I'm *still* bitter that a big data company couldn't get the distribution of tshirt sizes right. We had a DAIS video night in August, as it had been way too long since the last one. Finally, I ran our annual floor barbeque at the lake for forty people and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

I was pretty healthy this year. I had a bit of a cold in February, and then another one picked up on the Queen Mary 2 (it was going around the entire ship), but after that I didn't get any more colds all year. The other thing we got on the way home from our holiday was a bout of gastro, which hit Stu just after we got home, and me a day or so later (although I seemed to only get a fairly mild case of it). I went to the dentist after one year instead of twenty and will probably keep going regularly now. I did battle with insomnia quite a few times during the year. Usually for no apparent reason, although it tended to be associated with a sore spine and/or a brain that wouldn't shut up. I rage-quit on Stu's bed earlier in the year and more often than not sleep in the spare room. That room has the bed Yvonne gave me in 2005 which has a much firmer mattress than Stu's. I don't get a sore spine *as much* in that bed, and my restless legs don't play up nearly as much there either (don't know why that is - different fabrics??). We've been meaning to go shopping for a new king size bed, but we just haven't gotten around to it yet.

We saw a lot of F&C (EffanC) this year which was really nice. Went to their place a number times and had them over here as well. Also saw Scott with them a few times. We saw quite a lot of Kit, with various combinations of Serena, Ben, Sarah, Anita and Pete. David came to stay in January, April, August and December, and Mum came to visit in February and August. Only saw a little bit of Annie the family - they came over for a Turkish feast in January, we went to their place for dinner in March, had them over here in April, their place for cake for Noah's birthday, and them here for Christmas dessert. Saw even less of Potty and the family - seeing them at the beginning of the year before they went home, Kerry brought over sick kids in July, then everyone came at Christmas (twice). We met Chrissie's new boyfriend in January, and by July they were living together with a baby on the way. I've gotten to go to a few of the ultrasounds which has been pretty cool. They came over for our first hanami party, and we had Zac come and stay in December so Chris and Mike could celebrate their anniversary. Nat and Andrew came over for our second hanami party, but sadly that was the only time we saw them all year. We had Damien and Amanda over for dinner in May, and went with them to Olive at Hawker in July, and saw just Damien for drinks in August. James and Rachel came down for a cake decorating course in May and they stayed with us which was nice. James also came down for work in November and we caught up for dinner at Bella Vista. We met up with Jenn at Chong Co in January, and had Jenn and Nick over in June for dinner. Jenn was getting set for a foodie trip to Mexico, which she went on later in the year and we got copies of her travelogue which was pretty cool. Had dinner with Luc and Cynthia and the boys when they came down in January, had @Chrispycon and Anne over for dinner in June, went to a barbeque at @CLBradley's in June, had dinner with Luc when he was down for work in September, and went over to Lachie's for darts (which I was crap at) and Jenga (which I didn't lose at) in November.

At "the club" we went to a couple of swim nights, and several socials at the club. One of them we did pea and ham soup, and another we did Christmas in July for forty people.

Pretty quiet year for the fish. I got some more danios for the two foot, and a couple of bristlenose catfish for my big tank and the two foot. We did get another tank from Chrissie as well which is quite a nice little tank. In the big angel tank is the angel, two big (probably female) danios, a cory, the bristlenose I bought, and a big bristlenose I got off Chris. In the upstairs two foot there's five danios, four rummy nose tetras and a bristlenose. In the little tank from Chris are her two clown loaches. They're really too big for that tank but haven't decided where to put them yet. It could really use a bristlenose as well, as the tank gets direct sunlight so there's lots of algae starting to grow. Downstairs there's four danios and the platy I got off Chris two years ago. Stu has two guppies in the little tank on his desk, and heaps of fish in his four foot. We bought expensive LED lights for two of the tanks instead of regular fluoros, but one of them died after only eight months which is very disappointing. Hoping the other one we bought doesn't die as quickly.

I didn't get any new Lego this year, although I did get a Nanoblocks Empire State Building for Christmas. I did a bunch of jigsaws throughout the year including a very cool 3D one of the Sydney Opera House. I finally assembled the 24000 piece "Life" jigsaw, because I figured I *had* to before I could get going on the 40320 piece "Memorable Moments" Disney jigsaw! I had fun with papercraft as well, making some Villarceau circles, completing a geodesic dodecahedron and two geodesic octahedra (or hexahedra), making a four frequency geodesic icosahedron which is pretty spectacular (and I had this hanging from the roof at work for a while which is probably how they noticed ceiling cat), and an icosidodecahedron and a geodesic icosidodecahedron.

For some reason I always mention the weather in my year in review posts. This year seemed quite cold in winter, but the pool only froze over a couple of times. We had hail and snow on the same day in August which was pretty exciting. October seemed like a very cold month, and as per usual December had its fair share of cold days as well. Not that I'm complaining, I'd prefer it to be cold than hot. Our evaporative cooler works very well, although I swear last summer was the most humid summer in Canberra ever (the evaporative cooler doesn't work very well when it's humid). This summer we've used it a little and it's quite lovely. I'm even noticing a temperature inversion now - often it's cooler upstairs than downstairs! But the best part is being able to use it on fan only to simply bring cool air into the house once it's cooler outside than in. In the past it could be quite cool outside, but still hot inside simply because the air is so still and there's no crossflow ventilation. Having the fan bring it in is wonderful.

At the end of last year I was considering getting a backpack vacuum cleaner because I *hate* dragging a barrel vacuum cleaner around. David suggested we get a cordless one instead. I was a bit reluctant because they are essentially glorified dustbusters, and all the ones we saw had rollers that just tangle up hair. But we ended up getting one anyway. It sat unused for probably six months, but I've finally gotten into the habit of doing a room or two per day, and now the house is actually getting fully vacuumed every week. Amazing! Our Cisco switch died while we were on holidays in March. And we never did get the NAS working again with it - it's still going through a little old 100Mb switch. Our home internet has always been bad here, and getting steadily worse. When we got back from holidays it was completely unusable. We called Internode to have a look. They got Telstra to have a look, and confirmed a problem with the line something like 400m away. They fixed this and things did improve somewhat, but our internet is still painfully slow (2Mb down). Netflix seems to buffer relatively well but Stan is abysmal. We're hoping NBN will improve things a little, but given that our node is like a kilometre away I doubt it's going to be amazing. My blog and hosting/email was offline for a few days while we were on holidays. Possibly a DOS, but don't know if it was ever explained. Then Vic sold everything off and retired. I'm wondering how long it takes them to figure out this hosting is a freebie and either shut it down or make me start paying for it. I really really need to move this blog off, but it's such a huge beast it's going to be very difficult. Even backing up the site via FTP takes a couple of days. I might have more luck tarring up the whole thing into one file which would transfer more quickly and efficiently, but I'm hampered by not having any shell access. And I couldn't find the perl script I used to have which lets you run commands interactively via the website (yes I know - super dangerous, which is why it's not online, and hence I can't find it). We had dramas with our dvd players. The video on my old dvd recorder kept dropping out, and it was getting worse. The PS3 dvd part stopped working years ago. I even had issues with my old Toshiba. So in the end we spent $80 on a new player that will play everything including media on usb stick. The remote is faulty - any time you press a button it fires off the action multiple times. But we got it working with our Harmony remote, so in the end didn't bother to swap it (especially since JB HiFi price matched it with Big W). The old Android of Stu's that I used for Ingress got so old that the Play Store wouldn't work anymore, which meant I couldn't update Ingress, so the thing essentially became a brick. Maybe I could still use it as a media player, since my phone doesn't have space for that sort of thing. I upgraded my five year old iPhone to 10.3.3 without any dramas. It's faster after unlocking than iOS 9 was which is pretty cool.

Around the house, we discovered our shower was leaking, probably from old cracked grout in the corner. We scraped it back (mostly) but still haven't regrouted/siliconed. It's on the todo list for our staycation! The snifter valve exploded on our hot water system, but I still haven't gotten around to calling up Aquamax. It's on the todo list for our staycation! We had a heap of pool dramas this year. At the beginning of the year there was way too much stabiliser (sunscreen) which meant the chlorine didn't work at all. Got that under control with a bunch of water changes (dear Adelaide: you're welcome), but then this summer the pool has been unbuffered and unstable and keeps going green, even with adding plenty of chlorine. Sad times. Possibly the pH has been too high, so have adjusted that, vacuumed the last batch of algae to waste, raised the total alkalinity and added a bunch of chlorine and *hopefully* it'll settle down now. The tenants of my flat in Sydney moved out after seven years, and the place needed to be fully renovated, costing me something like $16000 :( Did two trips to see the before and after. Good news is it's getting a lot more rent now that it's all shiny again.

We didn't eat out too much this year, and when we did it was generally when meeting up with other people. We did go to Bella Vista a few times - for our anniversary, for my birthday, and when James came to visit. We only went to Dumpling Inn a couple of times because they were closed for much of the year. Both times were with Chris, Mike and Zac. We also tried The Scholar in Dickson with them, but I wasn't impressed with the very slow service. Also wasn't impressed with Chinese Inn at Kippax where we went for Sarah's birthday. Went to Hero Sushi in the city a couple of times, the first experience a lot better than the second. Went to Malaysian Chapter with Cath and Scott for Stu's birthday, and Chong Co with Jenn. Only had brunch out a couple of times this year, once at Market St Eats at Belconnen markets and once at Gus' Place. We often have lunch at Saigon Streetfood when doing our food shopping, or sometimes Ali Baba or more recently Alaska Seafood. We did get to try out a few new places too - The Courtyard Restaurant at Mercure with Luc and Cynthia when they were in town, Olive at Hawker with Damien and Amanda, and Black Fire in Braddon with Luc. We tried out Mills and Grills pizzas this year which are pretty good, and Stu loves the karaage chicken pizza from Pizza Capers. And finally I went with Neil to the Brokenwood Wine dinner at Monster Kitchen and Bar in Hotel Hotel.

I tried a few new recipes this year. Lemon ginger chicken from a Coles magazine was very nice, beef cheeks from Not Quite Nigella was also pretty good, and Jamie's five ingredient Asian fishcakes were simple but nice. Stu cooked Scotch eggs a couple of times, and pork larb a few times. I had a go at fondue, but didn't follow a recipe so the cheese split. Chrissie gave me a book of fondue recipes, and I got a proper fondue set, but we've yet to have another go at it. Kit and Serena's gardens provided an excess of produce that we happily used up, and we got to eat some young roosters that Kit had raised and processed. I made Anzac biscuits on Anzac Day, caramel slice at least three times, a mint rocky road and a cheesecake.

Didn't see any theatre or shows or exhibitions this year.

The only movie we saw at a cinema was Silence - in Hong Kong!

Stu likes to watch tv while we eat dinner. I feel like being forced to sit in one place for three quarters of an hour is pretty stressful, especially on weekday evenings. Having said that, some shows are better than others and with some shows it didn't feel so much of a burden.

  • Sherlock - season four
  • Fuller House - season two
  • Star Trek: The Original Series - finishing up what we started last year
  • Star Trek: Voyager - the entire thing, which took most of the year and was the most stressful to have to watch
  • Homeland - season five
  • Black Adder Goes Forth - borrowed off Annie years ago but hadn't gotten around to finishing, watched this on my computer
  • Monty Python - season four - borrowed off DC years ago but hadn't gotten around to finishing, watched this on my computer
  • Air Crash Investigations - various episodes watched online while doing other things on my computer
  • Australian Survivor - season two of the current incarnation - the only commercial tv we watched all year
  • Fuller House - season three (in two parts)
  • Dad's documentaries - stuff he'd taped off tv over the years. I've been working my way through them while I do jigsaws downstairs in the summer months
  • The Good Place - season one and the first half of season two
  • Rake - season four

Books Read

  • Tales of Two Cities, various short stories
  • Bones Never Lie, by Kathy Reichs
  • Uncle John's 24-Karat Gold Bathroom Reader
  • The Barefoot Investor, by Scott Pape
  • ET: The Book of the Green Planet, by William Kotzwinkle
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nets, by Ken Kesey
  • No Place to Hide, by Glenn Greenwald

Other stuff

  • Kit had baby bunnies but Vicki killed them by "playing" with them
  • Neil won Ali Baba's "Chance to win $1000000" - but that's all it was - a chance to win. He didn't actually win the $1000000.
  • Went to the Multicultural Festival with Chrissie for beer and meat (and potatoes) on a stick, while remembering Dad from three years earlier
  • Had to do some actual clothes shopping for formal and other nice clothes for the cruise. Material Pleasures was awful, City Chic was much more successful, then again so was Vinnies and it was a lot cheaper
  • Went to the farmers markets in April but I find it too stressful and it's too early for Stu so we don't really like going
  • Stopped going to Coles at Jamison for the most part, because Jamison couldn't be arsed putting in enough trolley return bays around the car park
  • Made a classic 80s space guy costume for Kit's 30th birthday party
  • Had a brief play with IMosaic
  • Setup a blog for the Queen Mary 2 with photos of the ship
  • Went to Shepherd's Lookout and down to the river with Kit
  • Paid off our mortgage
  • Went to Hall Markets with Kit and Pete
  • Got access to my old CIA mailbox and downloaded seven years of mail
  • Setup a blog to compare Canberra between 1986 and 2016, sent it to the RiotACT but they didn't link to it. Johnboy would have.  Just sayin'.
  • Had to be official photographer for Roz's 60th at The Abbey which I found very stressful
  • Saw some of Kit's chicks hatching
  • Kit had more baby bunnies but they died, we don't know why
  • Had my democracy sausage photo feature in Atlas Obscura 
  • Got long service leave
  • Accidentally bought Twisties that make your tongue turn blue. I couldn't eat them. Ewww. Stu said it wasn't the only thing that turned blue..!


Sylvia Johnson said:

I've enjoyed reading your year in review, it is a very extensive and informative report.

January 2, 2018 11:34 AM


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Kazza's "Boring Life Of a Geek" aka BLOG

IT geek, originally from Sydney, moved to Canberra in 2007. Married to "the sweetie", aka Stu. Prolific photographer, Lego junkie and tropical fish keeper.

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