Commentary: December 2018 Archives

2018 Year in Review

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So the beginning of the year. We began the new year at Kit's with Ben and Sarah for a nice start to the year.

We took the first two weeks of January off, so three weeks all up, but during the first two weeks our house was a revolving door of people wanting to use the pool. I do enjoy having people over, but we needed a break!! I think in that two weeks we socialised every single day which was completely exhausting. Later I was able to do a deep clean of most of the kitchen, and organised the garage.

Somehow we managed to go overseas twice this year. In April we made an impromptu trip to Wellington, New Zealand for a lonnng weekend for our tenth wedding anniversary. We only arranged it a few weeks in advance (taking Wello's lead of going to New Zealand just because (actually he did it for status points haha)), and got one of the very last direct Canberra to Wellington flights on Singapore Airlines. In December we avoided the family Christmas obligations and headed to the northern hemisphere. We had a couple of days in Japan before heading to Southampton to board the Queen Mary 2 for a transatlantic crossing and Caribbean cruise. Christmas and New Year were on board the ship in the North Atlantic. I went up to Sydney in January for the mum/uncles post-Christmas chatchup, where we went to Pandora's in Rouse Hill for lunch and sat in Ken and Jeanine's spa all afternoon; and again in June for Mum and Uncle Ken's birthdays, and we went and saw Vivid Sydney which was pretty cool. I went to Junee in May and we went and saw the Bricktastic Lego exhibition, which was awesome because no crowds, and we went to the circus as well. I went to Melbourne in June for work, and again with the sweetie in August for Kit's graduation.

Work was pretty stressful this year. The work itself was fine (I completed a massive cleanup project in around a year, much less than my estimate of two years) and my supervisor is great, but we switched to hot-desking which is all kinds of stressful for me. Not to mention that "activity based working" means we should be sitting with the people we work with, but because there's not enough seats that's often not the case. I get in relatively early (thanks sweetie!) so at least I get *some* consistency. We had a Ball in March which was very .. blue! and a lot of fun. Our work bar closed in June and we had an amazing final night. We got a new one, but it's half the size and not as practical. One of the first nights in the new bar was a whiskey night which was good. I organised a trivia night for March, but it was cancelled at the last minute due to lack of interest. Tried again in May and this time it was a packed house, and the last one in the old bar. We won the first one in the new bar in October, but the organisers said as incentive to win, the second place winners should run it. Let's hope they do or I'll be running another one!

Healthwise I've been pretty good. Just had a cold in May and another in July. Other than that it was just a lot of insomnia. A lot a LOT of insomnia. Omigosh sometimes I was convinced it was going to kill me.

Once again we had a *very* social year. As I mentioned earlier we had a lot of visitors in the first week of January. David came to stay a few times. He came in January and fixed some taps in the bathroom, and later in January to see about the Railway Historical Society and whether or not they'd try and reopen. He came with Leanne in February, to stay after the Airport Open Day (that I never managed to get tickets for), again in April, September and October with Kat. Always great having him here. Chrissie got bigger and bigger with Beavis and I got to see a couple of ultrasounds. She had a quite small but quite cute Nathan at the end of February. Visited them a little but not nearly often enough. Didn't help that Chris was completely exhausted from lack of sleep. Aunty Di and Uncle Graham came down a couple of times and we did fondue with them at Chrissie's in April and October. Had lunch a few times with her as well which was nice. Chris also gave me a kick up the butt in July and helped me grout half the shower. We caught up quite a few times with the extended N-Gang, going to either EffanC's, R&F's, Scotts for pizza, and beef cheecks at our place in July. We saw quite a lot of Kit and Pete during the year. It was sooooo nice having cool neighbours you could pop down to for a quiet drink. Pete is into games, so played a few with him (Kit played begrudgingly) - including Travel Trivial Pursuit, Cards Against Humanity, and Kismet. We went out to the George for Kit's birthday in May, had Ben over for roast in March, and had BBQ at Serena's for her birthday in October. Kit and Pete had a farewell party at the beginning of November (much drama ensued) but we still got to see them every weekend until they left. Helped pack their truck at the beginning of December, and they moved down the coast the same weekend we went overseas. We met up with Damien and Amanda at the Dickson Dumpling House in April, and Stu had a wargame with Damien in July, followed by dinner at Laziza House. Jenn came over in February with various Tequilas she'd bought on her trip to Mexico. Hao came up for work in May, so caught up with him at Alice's. Had our annual Hanami lunch with Nat and Andrew in late September. Stu's dad came over for dinner sans Ruth in January. Scott and Kerry came down at the end of June on the way to the snow and we had the whole family over for dinner. Had Wello's 40th at Casey Jones in October, and went over to @CLBradley's in November for BBQ for his birthday.

We didn't do as much club stuff this year. The event dinners are getting out of control with so many people going, and Stu has to go out once a month for committee meetings, which leaves us with no enthusiasm to go out at other times. We did go a couple of times, including a nice night in November with only six of us out there. We did an epic Burns Night in January, with two huge pork roasts, a huge haggis, tatties, neeps, peas, carrots and cranachan, for about forty five people. We did another round of two huge roast pork roasts and veggies for Christmas in July, and something like fifty people came. We were going to help with the Christmas party, but Stu got a migraine just before we were going to head out. During the committee meeting in August I regrouted the shed's kitchen splashback, because I could scrape out the old stuff with a fingernail, and I had the last of the grout from our bathroom that I thought I could use up. Only went to a couple of swim nights.

Pets. For years we've only ever had fish in this house. In February Chrissie was heavily pregnant and overstressed and the stress of Stumpy not eating was too much for her (Stumpy being a lovely blue tongue lizard). Kit had had Stumpy since he was born in her last place (I remember when they first moved in seeing the tank in the spare room, thinking at the time it was fish). Stumpy spent many years living in Kit's garage generally being neglected. So a couple of years ago Kit gave him to Chris and Zac. He fattened up nicely. But as I said, Chrissie couldn't deal, and asked if I'd take him. Well our front entrance way was still full of clutter that had been there for like five years that I'd been wanting to get rid of. So she took the majority of the stuff to sell on Gumtree one day, and we got Stumpy. He didn't eat at all for the first six months we had him. Didn't help that I didn't have lights through the early part, and then it was winter. So he sat doing not much for the whole time. Then later in the year (I'd been increasing the amount of heat/light to match the seasons) he suddenly started eating. It's been lovely having him. Stu really likes him and gives him lots of cuddles.

On the fish front. I got five new black neon tetras in January for the two foot, and some harlequin rasboras in May. I got a little sucking catfish to keep the algae at bay in Chrissie's little tank. We went to Serkan's for killifish study group meetings in March and August. Stu has been trying to breed killifish, with mixed success. He gets all enthusiastic for spurts, then they get neglected for weeks at a time. The other drama was the epic stress caused by dodgy Aqua One LED fish tank lights. All three, plus one I'd already had replaced died in the space of a couple of months. In the end got all my money back and went back to fluoros. Confirming my hatred for all things Aqua One.

Lego, jigsaws, and other hobbies. In January, Vic came down from Sydney with an entire bootfull of his kids' Lego he wanted to sell. It wasn't sorted so I spent months sorting it and checking each and every damned piece for FAKE Lego. Had to stop working downstairs in April when it got too cold, but didn't really do too much at the end of the year - I was too busy getting ready for our holiday. I'd bought some nice Willow storage tubs to replace all the cardboard boxes I have for storage, and they got pressed into service holding sorted Lego. I really want to get rid of it all to get the space back (and my storage tubs back!), but need to do something about the computer I'm using down there - it doesn't have enough grunt to keep five word docs open at a time containing the parts lists for the sets. I did a LOT of jigsaws this year, including several sections of the Disney behemoth. Another reason I want the space back downstairs...! Didn't do much else hobbywise. Spent a lot of time fighting with Apple. I downloaded Image::ExifTool and used a perl script to rename the files based on Date taken instead of Date modified which I've been doing all these years with all my other photos. I processed, labelled and blogged all the photos from our New Zealand holiday within two months, then I went back and labelled all the photos from our East Asia holiday and got that blogged by the end of the year.

For some reason I always mention the weather. We had the extremes this year. We had a dust storm in March. In fact all through March the max temperature was around 30C almost every day. It was freaky hot. Then throughout July it was crazy cold. We got so much ice on the pool it was ridiculous. One time it was 14mm thick in places! Maybe the super thick ice was the beginning of the end for the pool - I did consider that all that ice can't be good for all the joints.

New toys! My iPhone 5 got more and more annoying. For some months the lock button was really sticky. It either wouldn't work at all, or would spend the whole time in the lock position, so the phone would think you were trying to turn it off. I waited til the Apple announcements in September to see if they'd release a small form factor phone, but alas none came. So I bit the bullet and got a HUGE XS. The new phone and iOS STILL screws around with the date modified on my files. Pissed off at that. But the camera is very nice. Especially the HDR capabilities. My old phone feels like such a sweet little phone when I pick it up (I've kept it around because it has a bunch of apps that won't run on the new one). Also before our holiday I decide to replace the seven year old Asus Eee PC. It was always under-powered (what is it with Asus and not enough memory?) and spent most of its life swapping to disk and not actually doing anything. It was pretty much unusable and frustrating, so got a little Lenovo net book which was just great to travel with.

A few house sagas this year. The first being the leaky shower. It took me forever to finish scraping off the old sealant and scraping back the old grout. And then it sat there for months doing nothing. Eventually Chrissie gave me a kick up the bum and helped me grout half the shower, and I finished it a week or two later in July, followed by the sealant in August. Took a little over a year to get that shower back into use, but it doesn't seem to leak anymore. I also attacked the cloudiness on the shower glass but NOTHING worked - not bathroom cleaner, not vinegar, not diluted CLR, not straight CLR, not straight CLR left there on the glass for weeks on end. I gave up the idea of ever having that glass clear again. We came home from New Zealand to find the power had gone off in the house and had been off for four days. We lost some fish in the cold (the rummy nose tetras), and I chucked out a bag of stuff from the fridge just in case, but the freezer didn't defrost completely (still had a couple of whiskey balls in tact) so didn't chuck anything out from there. Then there was the epic stress over the blown hot water release valve. It had died *just before* it was one year old, but I didn't call them for ages because I'm allergic to the phone. When I did call them it sounded like they were going to charge me, but when the dude turned up he was all "is that all?" and replaced it for me on the spot (and left me a spare to boot). Fortunately Rheem didn't charge me for their second defect in its first year. Then there was the circuit breaker that caught fire, taking out all our power points. Fortunately we got it fixed the same day, and used the lack of computer to do a lot of cleaning and organising. And finally the pool. Maybe all the ice over winter stretched all the seals to breaking point. But we had a leak that I don't know how old it was and we couldn't see how much damage had been done to the structural wall. The pool turned out to be around thirty years old! So even though it broke my heart we (I) decided to drain it and say goodbye. We did have a win - Pete replaced the laserlite sheeting on our back pergola, as well as the front piece of wood that had been positioned right under the old sheeting and had gotten rotten.

We ate out a little this year but not too much. Went to Iori with EffanC, Yat Bun Tong a few times (Stu likes the dumplings), with Damien and Amanda we went to Dickson Dumpling House and Laziza House, went with EffanC and Scott to Pialligo Estate for a "Meet the Maker" dinner with wines by Shaw and Smith in April which was delicious, Happys with the sweetie, Malaysian Chapter a couple of times with the N-Gang, The George for Kit's and my birthdays, Lake George Hotel in Bungendore with EffanC - disappointed with the pork belly, Tipsy Bull in Braddon for Stu's birthday which was great, and Sushi Bay sushi train with the sweetie. Went to Chong Co a couple of times. Probably others I didn't mention.

Didn't have too much blog-worthy food. A guilty pleasure was nachos - simply corn chips topped with cheese and baked for five or so minutes. Did Lorraine Elliot's Asian Style Beef Cheeks a couple of times (is it possible for something to have *too much* flavour?), and had a go at Sizzler cheese toast!! OMFG!!! SO GOOD!!! I'd make it all the time if given half a chance...

* Bricktastic in Junee which was great and no crowds of kids
* Circus in Junee which had exotic animals to my surprise, but convinced their no photography rule is simply to not have anyone get it on video if they fall off stuff or get eaten by lions
* Ben Law and Jenny Phang at Library Up Late which was interesting
* *Didn't* see Cartier, but did wander around a bit of the National Gallery with Cath
* Brickman Lego exhibition by Ryan McNaught with Neil which was also awesome and also no crowds of kids (sensing a theme here?)

* The Last Jedi
* Bohemian Rhapsody

Movies on TV
* Well lots but I'm not going to list them all
* Lord of the Rings series (in advance of going there)
* Kevin Smith movies
* Harry Potter series
* Star Trek series
* Pixar series. Saw what we could of these on DVD and Netflix, then saw most of the rest on various plane trips at the end of the year. The only one I didn't see (and have never seen) is Coco.

* Star Trek Discovery (season 1)
* The Good Place (season 2)
* Pride and Prejudice (BBC series borrowed off @CLBradley)
* A lot of Dad's war documentaries up until April, and then again from October
* One episode of Altered Carbon
* Homeland (season 6)
* Star Trek Enterprise
* Addams Family (maybe season 2, would need to check)
* Anthony Bourdain's The Layover
* Back in Time for Dinner
* David Attenborough's Natural Curiosities
* Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown
* Rake (season 5, not as good as previous seasons, too over the top)
* The Good Place (season 3)
* Death in Paradise (seasons 1 and 2)

* Prey, by Michael Crichton
* The Giant Book of Science Fiction Stories
* Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
* The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank by Willy Lindwer

Other stuff

* Got NBN!!!!!!! In January - haven't complained about our internet since. 12x faster than before!
* Stopped by Cataract Dam on the way home from Sydney in January
* Took my car to the wreckers. Realised six months later I'd left my RTA etag in it, so called the wreckers but my car was crushed. There goes $40. Also realised, when I went to charge Kit's car in December, that I'd forgotten the battery trickle charger attachment that had been mounted in the engine bay.
* Climbed Black Mountain from Bindoubi Street with Cath, Fiona and their friend Heather
* Saw the Canberra Balloon Fiesta
* Filled with rage at the tax office that refuse to send paper bills, so how the hell am I meant to know how much I owe them??
* Was super happy with the awesome customer service from Willow when I found one of the lids I'd bought was cracked. Saddedened at the appalling experience from ebay
* reCAPTCHA died, but have been puttering along without it since May, and doesn't seem to be getting comment spam these days anyway
* Watched Flying High twice this year
* Tried taking recycling bottles to Return-It, but (after they forced me to register all my personal details) they RIPPED ME OFF and never put any money in my account. Return-It is a SCAM!!  I've been collecting the bottles but I've never been back - I give them to David whenever he comes to stay and he takes them to NSW where they have a PROPER system, or take them out to the club where someone else takes them to NSW or I think the new one in ACT where you get a receipt on the spot.
* Went to Frank Bradley's funeral, on my birthday. Tried to go to Stanley's in Bruce for dinner but it's closed Tuesdays so ended up at The George.
* Got a green bin!!
* Ate some of Kit's chickens
* Stu chopped a foot of hair off just before we went away at the end of the year

We finished the year at nine o'clock in the morning, North Atlantic time.  Stu was in bed and I was eating breakfast.  And yet, even in the middle of the North Atlantic, I could still watch the Sydney fireworks live :)

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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