Commentary: December 2015 Archives

2015 Year in Review

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All up a pretty decent year.  Nothing too life shattering.  Quite busy as always.

We didn't manage to get overseas this year.  Stu's work was being a bit special and didn't want to give him one of the weeks off in November.  We could have pushed a trip back a week, but then would have started missing Christmas parties, so we decided to postpone.  The only flying holiday we did was to Queensland to visit Chay and David which was a lovely relaxing long weekend as always.  We did get down the coast a couple of times.  Firstly in March, where we also went down to Bermagui, and over the June long weekend as well.  I only went to Sydney once this year - in May to inspect my flat, go to a body corporate meeting, and stay with mum.  We also did a weekend in Junee to visit the little brother.  And did a two night trip to the snow in September, after a failed proxy upgrade, and I was so flustered I forgot the charging cable for the GPS, *and* couldn't find the android.

At work I started the year busy but "comfortable" - in that I knew what I was doing most of the time.  We changed proxy vendors in May - and traded one set of problems for another.  At least the performance of the new ones is generally a lot better (I was still sad when we finally turned the old ones off for good).  At the end of June our team was restructured out of existence, and I lost most of the work I'd been doing to another team (I could have gone with the work to the new team, but decided I'd rather pick up new work with a more local team). Neil was away for the first month after the restructure, which mean I was literally the only person doing half the work of our old team.  So that was a super stressful month.  Then I moved desks away from Neil which made me feel even more isolated.  I spent several months in the new team really having no idea what I was doing.  But towards the end of the year I've been fairly well immersed in some new firewalls and am starting to get the hang of them.  Just before Christmas I organised a BBQ for fifty people which was pretty cool.

Healthwise I've been ok, but starting to notice the whole getting old thing.  It seemed I blogged quite a lot about insomnia.  Not able to get to sleep for no good reason, or waking up and not being able to get back to sleep.  I had a one-day cold in April, and a one-month cold in October.  I was at home for a full week in October, and was coughing for another three weeks after that :(  I started monitoring my blood pressure again, and noticed it was high *all the time*.  I tried a low-salt diet for a time, and it did come down, but it was pretty much impossible to maintain.  Go out for dinner?  High sodium.  Go out for lunch?  High sodium.  Pretty much anything in a jar or can?  High sodium.  Cheese?  High sodium.  I started taking my lunches into work several days a week which helped for lunches.  And was a bit more careful about dinners too, as well as buying low-sodium breakfast cereals.  But I was getting sick of the same boring stuff all the time, and let's face it, I can't live in a world without cheese, so I went on medication.  Still working on a dosage that will suit, although what I'm on now I think is causing some skin issues, so will see the doctor again in the new year to see if it's related, and maybe try a different medication.  I also realised in March that my bottom two wisdom teeth have finally fully erupted.  And my eyesight is getting worse.  Next year will definitely be an eye/teeth/skin/blood pressure sorting kind of a year.

We spent a lot of time with our "whisky" friends earlier in the year - dinners and movies etc - but less later in the year.  We only saw Nat and Andrew once this year in January which is a bit sad-making.  We had games nights at Mishi's in March, June and November, with a special party for her in December.  Met up with @phonakins when she was in town for Eat, Drink, Blog, and @Chrispycon and Anne when they were back from Hong Kong briefly.  Doc came over in September for some MarioKart and Singstar, but the TV died in the middle of a race, and we still haven't gotten it fixed because we're slackers.  Had dinner at the Dumpling Inn with Damien and Amanda in September.  Various people came to stay including Jo and Marc, the little brother several times, Chrissie a few times, and Mum in January and December.  Chris applied for a job and had moved to Canberra (in stumbling distance of us) within the space of a month, so that's pretty cool.  We've spent quite a bit of time with Kit and Ben over the year too which is fun.  It's nice having cool neighbours.  And finally we've still been enjoying our visits to "the club"  and going to the social occasions.  The pool exploded there earlier in the year, and we helped build the new one.  We also provided a Christmas in July feast there, and did pork again for the proper Christmas party.  Any excuse for me to do a big roast pork with crackling ;)

In the fishy world, I've been making better attempts to maintain the health of the fish and the fish tanks, although not until a bunch of disasters (and still had disasters after).  The original AR-620T had some small angels in it, but they had died over summer.  The last one had been in there a couple of days, and we only pulled it out just before putting in the last remaining duboisi and sucking catfish in there.  They died within two days which upset me rather a lot.  Tank of Death living up to its name :(  So the big four foot remained empty for a while.  My AR-620T also remained empty for a while.  I gave it a good cleaning out, and left it running with just plants for a couple of months to try and stabilise it.  Eventually I got five danios for it, which have survived, and later four baby angels which are also still alive.  That tank is actually looking really good at the moment, and I'm keeping up the regular water changes in it (it helps that with all the heat the potplants need a lot of water, so fish tank water goes onto the plants).  Stu gave his four foot a cleaning out and later in the year, and has set it up with really bright lights, and a soil-based substrate to make a planted tank.  He has some native fish in there too and it's looking pretty good.  The two foot tank has massive issues with this black slime algae, and I think it's pretty toxic.  The two nine-year-old black neon tetras and five rummy-nose tetras are still going ok in there.  I had five new danios in there which I've since taken downstairs to avoid the worst of the heat.  And then I bought five cories for that tank, hoping that maybe they'd eat some of the algae.  They started dying off pretty much straight away. :(  I moved the last two into the angel tank.  One continued to deteriorate and die, but the other one recovered and is still going strong in there.  The light in the two foot also just died the other day, so I'm going to completely clean that tank out and start again.  Downstairs the ten-year-old krib is still going, but she's looking pretty old.  I put five danios from upstairs in with her for the summer.  When Chris came down from Sydney she had nowhere to put all her platies, so I filled a spare tank for them.  I put four of them, and the big sucking catfish, in with the krib and the danios and the rest are still in a small tank awaiting their new home to be ready.  Stu also has two small tanks on his desk.  One has two endler guppies and a cherry shrimp, and the other has four teeny shrimp he just got the other day.  So currently seven tanks with animals in them at the moment!

I got two Lego sets this year - both from the Lego Movie.  I got the Double Decker Couch and SPACESHIP!!  I also made mosaics of the Ingress Enlightened logo in two different sizes (32x32 and 48x48)

I continue to do jigsaws.  I seem to have a never-ending supply of them.  Once they're done I usually give them away.  I still want to have some sort of jigsaw exchange going in Canberra, but I'm allergic to organising people, so good luck with that.  I finished a paint-by-numbers set of a fox earlier in the year, and bought a much larger one which took me months to do, but looks really good.  At the club I finished a longstitch that I'd inherited off Nana *years* ago.  It looks pretty good too but I've not done anything with it, it's just sitting downstairs.  I spent December evenings filing digital photos from the past year into folders by subject.  With a clean slate, it might now be time to start tweaking the folder filing system a bit.  Really the goal is to make it easy to find stuff, and obvious what things are in case I go and cark it.  Although if I go and cark it, noone will care about *any* of my photos .. or mum and dad's .. Speaking of which, I scanned three of mum's photo albums, and so far nearly a thousand of dad's photos this year.  All of my own scanned photos (from my own cameras) are all now digitised, labelled and renamed to include the date, roll and frame number.  I haven't filed those into folders yet though.

Weatherwise, the pool didn't fully freeze over much, but did form some beautiful ice flakes a couple of times.  It snowed once in September.  We've already had some quite hot days this summer, and I'm somewhat worried about the fish over January in this El Niño year.  I'll be doing a bit of fish tank rearranging to try and minimise casualties.

New food/recipies I tried this year included honey mustard chicken, made with actual ingredients, not out of a jar (except the mustard); duck breast fillets which are expensive but yummy; chicken kievs made from scratch, which were nice enough, but lacking the *salt* of the pre-prepared stuff (why does everything that tastes good have to have so much salt and fat???); a failed attempt at a lemon meringue pie, which was still tasty, just very goopy; various recipes trying to use up a kilo of white beans, the best being a cassoulet (salt and fat anyone?); a chocolate cake to celebrate Neil working at the same place for forty years - I haven't baked a cake in years!; a couple of things using wombok out of our garden (well, a planter box, to keep it out of reach of snails); and gingerbread cookies.

Didn't eat out as much this year.  We went to Kinh Do a couple of times.  Tried the degustation menu at Mezzalira which was pretty awesome.  Discovered Italian thick white hot chocolate in a hug mug at Max Brenner.  Finally got back to the Dumpling Inn after it had been closed for like a year.  Had dinner with Stu's dad at The District in Crace which was pretty good.  We tried the Wig & Pen at its new premesis, but it lacked the atmosphere of the old place.  Also tried its offshoot - Bentspoke which was nice enough.

Shows:
* Of Mice and Men

Movies:
* The Imitation Game
* The Theory of Everything
* Citizenfour
* x+y
* Cinderella
* Jurassic World
* Spectre
* Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens

Books (I really stopped reading because I pretty much never catch the bus anymore, and tend to just play on my phone before bed):
* Conqueror of Darkness by Phyllis Garlick
* Letters to Karen by Charlie W. Shedd
* Pollyanna by Elanor H. Porter
* Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Other stuff:
* Started the new year at the club but weren't very inspired by the whole evening and struggled to stay awake til midnight
* Started doing the FridayQ again for a while. Stopped when I got stumped and never took it back up again :( 
* Spent the summer watching Dad's documentaries while doing jigsaws and the like
* Finally fixed up our wedding photo book and had it reprinted
* Watched all three seasons of Veronica Mars
* Went to Costco for the first time
* Wandered around Mount Stromlo with the sweetie
* Almost quit Candy Crush in February, but took it up again.  Am currently within seven levels of the end (until they move the goalposts)
* Accidentally siphoned a huge amount of water out of the pool. Twice.
* Japanese culture night with Stu's Japanese class, which he has since stopped going to
* Came second in a work trivia night
* Went to the Balloon Fiesta on Canberra Day
* Got Netflix
* Scotch Malt Whisky Society tastings in March and in June
* Watched all three seasons of Rake
* Got Israel trip photos from three years ago online
* Finished scanning all my analogue photos
* Lost our really cool number plate and had to get a new set
* Watched all of Sherlock
* Got frustrated that you can't buy quality denim anymore for ladies' jeans
* Been with the sweetie for ten years!!
* Saw Nick Davies (investigative journalist who exposed the News of the World phone hacking scandal) at the Library
* Went to Whisky Live
* Chris and Zac came to visit in July. Went to the curry festival and went ice skating in Garema Place
* Cleaned out the "winter" hobby room in July, although didn't actually use the room
* Whisky night at work in July
* Cooked a Christmas in July feast the club - including four kilos of pork and two kilos of turkey, which all got eaten
* Watched all the Harry Potter movies
* Played through all the working maps I have for Unreal Tournament
* Celebrated turning 21 again, and recreated a photo taken on my 21st birthday
* Won a work trivia night. Busy planning the next one.
* Started a new blog for my Australian holidays, but haven't added much to it yet
* Saw "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" by Jon Ronson at the library
* Freecycled a bit of stuff, but still a lot more to go
* The watch I got for graduation died, and Mister Minit in Belconnon could not fix it, even after replacing the movement three times. Still pissed about it.
* Stu bought a battery-operated whipper snipper and a hedge trimmer and spent many evenings attacking the weeds
* Upgraded my phone from 6.1.4 to 9.1. There's a couple of things I like about the new OS (most especially the logical numbering of the photo directories when you attach the phone to your computer, photo sorting in general, as well as being able to manage attachments in SMSes), but mostly things are uglier and clunkier and it makes my phone chug, especially after unlocking the screen.
* Went to an Ingress First Saturday event
* Saw First Dog on the Moon at the Library
* Did a first aid course. Apparently now I'm qualified.
* Went Go-Karting for a vendor event
* Wore a dress to a wedding
* Hosted family Christmas lunch here
* Hosted a Christmas day lunch here
* Used the holiday break to do some thorough cleaning of the garage and fridge

So there goes 2015.  Have a happy and safe 2016!

And other food

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McDonalds introduced something new recently - Loaded Fries

OMFG these things are so good!!!

Loaded fries

But OMFG the fat and salt content.  *This* is why I have a problem with weight and high blood pressure. *sigh*

Schnitz Belconnen

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A Schnitz outlet opened up earlier in the year.  We avoided it for the first few weeks on account of crazy crowds.  But one day I saw it with not much queue so went and tried it.

I decided to try their very basic chicken schnitzel to start with.  It wasn't too bad.  Maybe a little bland.  And definitely expensive ($9.90).

Schnitz

A few months later when the stars aligned and there wasn't much queue, I tried another one - this time their parmagana chicken schnitzel.  This was even more expensive ($13.90), and messy.  Just look at the mess!  It was also soggy.  I don't think parmagana works on a roll.

Schnitz

The biggest problem with Schnitz (other than it's very high prices for a food court lunch) is that noone knows how to GET THE F@!# OUT OF THE WAY!  Seriously people, once you've ordered, move up to the other end of the counter where you pick up the burger!  The number of times in that few months I simply kept walking past because I couldn't tell if people were actually in the queue, or had ordered and were waiting for pickup.. Even that second time I went, there were a couple in front of me that had ordered but kept hanging around on the fricken *wrong side*.  Idiots!

So yeah lots of idiots, high prices, and so far uninspiring food have put me off the place.  It does still seem popular with other people though, so maybe it'll survive.

The Force Awakens

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The Force AwakensAfter seeing the original teaser trailer months ago, I stopped watching the trailers.

I didn't want any spoilers.

Or expectations.

Also these days I like seeing movies without having read reviews (although I do tend to read all of LB's reviews as the come out) so they don't colour my opinions too much.

So I really had no idea what to expect with The Force Awakens.

And as such, thoroughly enjoyed it.  

It was almost like watching the original series again.  Guys at work called it A New Hope reboot - or a remake.  There's so many elements and scenes that are almost identical.  And the production design and the *music* !

I actually really liked the physicality of it.  Actual models and locations, not just actors standing around in front of green screen and CGI everything.  So much more betterer.

Mark Hamill said about it: "nothing's changed, but everything's changed".  You feel like you're watching the same thing as the original movies, which is not a bad thing in my opinion.  It'll be interesting to see where they take the next couple..

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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