Monday, 21 July 2014

I really wish I was making this up

Homer: "I'm gonna need a bigger hammer."
Marge said: "Lisa, stop blowing your sax, I
had to sacrifice a perfectly good camera to get some peace."
Some weeks ago I wrote a post called "Oh, now f%^-king what, a week of two halves."
In that I was talking of one of those weeks where anything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
Well, it's all happened again, and as stated above in the title, "I honestly wish I was making this stuff up".
I guess it began with my new bike.
I wrote last week of the perils involved with buying a thirty dollar bike off the side of the road, a real lesson in you get what you pay for.
With the chain jumping cogs as soon as you put it under load, I knew I couldn't continue, unless I wanted an early trip to knee surgery.
I've already worn thin as orphanage gruel the patience of those who I usually borrow money from, so I had to solve this problem myself.
So I went on Gumtree and found the cheapest bikes for sale in my area.
The cheapest was $30 (!), but we all know what that would have meant, so I unbent and went up the money scale to the dizzying heights of $70.
This was still $40 more than I could afford in this Winter of My Discontent, I don't have much gardening to do, and so money is, as usual, very tight.
However, I found a bike that was at least intact.
I paid for it, then put it in the back of my car and drove home.
While it was a good bike, it was a little short for my frame, and so I put the raised handle bars from my old bike on the new one, and then went for a little shakedown cruise.
Everything worked well, and so I came home chained the thing up, and then went back to my desk.
Then Saturday came and I went for a major bike ride.
I have two courses, the flat time trial section, and the King-of-the-Mountain section up to Bangalow.
I climbed the hill, Hayter's it's called, so-named because by the time your halfway up, you hate it.
I got to the mountain top, and thankfully turned off to come down Old Bangalow road back down to town.
I was just getting my breath back when something gave way under my hands.
Nothing drastic, just an unnerving feeling of looseness.
I had just transferred my gaze to the handle bar grips, when the whole bloody thing gave way, and suddenly I had the handlebars in my hands, and only tangentially connected to the bike.
"SHIIITTT!!!", I exclaimed.
Thankfully, I was going slowly, and had time to jab the brakes that were still in my hands, and was able to come to a halt somewhat reminiscent of a marionette master bringing a string controlled puppet to a standstill.
I got off and examined the problem and it turned out that I had not done the nut on the handlebar stem up tightly enough, more evidence of my mechanical hamfistedness.
I mulled it over, it clearly had to be fixed, I was now up the top of Hayter's Hill, and the downhill run home usually clocked 50 kph, so I didn't want to be doing that with barely engaged handlebars.
I hadn't brought my tools, which was typical of me, so I turned my mind to the problem, and as ever, Homer Simpson provided me with the answer.
My only hope of getting home was to hammer the bars back in, then trust to luck and grip to get down the hill intact.
I bashed on the handle bars with the heel of my hand, but then realised, like Homer, "I was going to need a bigger hammer".
I cast about and found a piece of timber, and smacked the things back into place.
Once more or less useable, I got back on board and gripping the brakes like death, slid and ground my way down the hill into town.
Once home I fixed the handlebars properly, then spent the rest of the evening slowly unclenching my buttocks, still mashed together in fear from that ride down the hill.
Next day I had to go to Ballina to mow Terry's lawn in Tamar st.
With my friend Susana's help I checked my oven and jug were off, then headed down the coast.
On the way I stopped off at Lennox Head to check the surf.
I enjoyed a few moments peace, then turned back to my car.
As I did I noticed a small pool of green fluid leaking out from the front end.
Oh great, radiator problems.
This is of particular concern as my car has a blown head gasket, but is running on a treatment that you put in the radiator and it runs around the cooling system and gums up the leaks in the system.
My mechanic had serviced the car recently, and when he gave it back, he said "keep an eye on the radiator fluid levels."
This I had done assiduously, so a leak here was panic stations for me.
However, I couldn't go back, as I had to get this lawn mowed, as I desperately needed the money.
The leak seemed slow enough, so I decided to go on.
I got to Tamar st, mowed the lawn, and then watching the temperature gauge like a hawk, headed back to Byron.
Lennox Point, where I checked the surf. 
This is an incredibly stressful way to drive, and is symptomatic of having no money.
However, I made it home, and rarely have I parked the car and switched off with more relief.
So then Sunday came and it was time to go up to Clunes and do some gardening for Eric.
I filled the radiator, and headed off, I was halfway to Bangalow when the next jump in my blood pressure occurred, the temperature gauge went down.
This may seem like an odd thing to be concerned about, as the gauge going up is the normal sign of trouble, but since the continued running of the car was dependent on a stable temperature, I was concerned, to put it mildly.
However as soon as I came off the Hayter's Hill downslope, the gauge went back to normal.
So on I drove, then, between Bangalow and Clunes is Springvale hill, and the same thing occurred, once I breasted the hill, and began going downhill, the gauge went down.
I clenched everything I had and pressed on.
By the time I pulled into Eric's place, I was already a nervous wreck.
So I did my gardening, had a nice coffee with Eric and his family, and then went home, once more watching the dashboard, and the temperature gauge thereon, more than the road.
Once again I parked the car with the same sort of relief that normally comes when the doctor says "the tests were negative."
Sunday night came and I was really looking forward to the sort of relax that you normally only get if you have a million dollars in the bank, or you've been mainlining valium.
I decided to watch "The Vicar of Dibley" a gentle comedy with Dawn French.
I'd seen it many times before, but I find comfort in shows that I've seen before, so turned on the set and flicked to channel 62.
To my unmitigated horror and pronounced fucking annoyance, that channel was off the air. (see picture)
NUTS! I said, and more.
I did a retune, but that didn't fix it.
The problem was that it was too windy.
Up here, we are in the headwaters of the internet river, and it doesn't take much to knock out the signal from Mt Nandi, where our transmitters are.
Thankfully channel Ten was still functional, and so I watched The Simpsons and Futurama.
A perfectly acceptable back up I'm sure you'll agree, but sometimes you know you just in the mood for a particular thing?
Then Monday came, and I went to my desk to do some writing.
And what do you think happened?
That's right, my computer had chosen this weekend to finally give up the ghost.
As you can see in the picture, instead of my desktop, all I got was multiple lines of DOS code.
"Oh for fuck's sake" I said.
I monkeyed around with it for  some time, but couldn't fix it.
So with that activity out, I pulled stumps on the computer, and went out to ride my bike.
I cycled down to Suffolk Park, and pulled up to the petrol station.
I got the air pump ready and placed the nozzle onto the valve of the front wheel.
In the process I leaned over and my phone fell out of my pocket and broke.
"OH FOR FUCK"S SAKE," I said with considerable vehemence.
Turning an anguished face in the vague direction of the centre of the universe, where I have always pictured some malign jester watching my trevails with glee.
I was already broker than a leg in two pieces, and already examining the prices of bean cans at Woolies, so this was something I could have done quite nicely without.
So, I pumped up the tyres and headed back into town.
I went round to the phone shop and was assisted by a sixteen-year-old (or so it seemed) girl behind the counter.
"Can I help you?" she said.
My immediately stifled response was to say, "Yes, can you get the universe to stop destroying everything I own at the same time?."
But I forswore on that, and instead asked the question that most commonly comes out of my mouth these days, "I broke my phone, what's the cheapest one you have, please?"
She looked me up and down, and realised there was no point trying to sell me a super smart phone with a four year plan.
She gestured toward the cheap end of the phone section and sold me the cheapest one at $30.
And so wended my way home clutching my new phone tightly to make sure I didn't break this one as well.
When I got home I went to phone Paula the Wonder Horse to have a moan, and then I realised that all of my phone numbers had gone with the old phone.
I'd saved them to the phone, not the SIM card.
Now I couldn't even have a moan about everything.
What's more, channels seven and nine were still out due to the windy nature of the weather, and so I couldn't watch The Big Bang Theory this Monday evening.
However, I had got my old standard Fawlty towers out of Lel's DVD store, and so I had that to watch.
I tend to watch Fawlty Towers whenever I have a week like this, and I particularly like the line during The Builders episode where Basil says to Polly, "No, you go outside and see if the roof's still on".
Man, do I know how that feels.

The best thing through through all of this was that the ABC was coming through loud and clear, and so even better than Fawlty Towers, or certainly just as good, was Peppa Pig.
So this morning before I did anything, I watched three episodes of Peppa.
And on one of the episodes it dealt with an issue that I had always wondered about, namely what happens if Miss Rabbit needs a day off.
For those of you who haven't been watching this wonderful show about anthropomorphic barnyard animals, Miss Rabbit is the cornerstone of the little community's economy.
Miss Rabbit runs the china shop, the shoe shop, drives the school bus, flys the rescue helicopter, serves tea and scones to hikers in the forest, works assisting the dentist as dental nurse, and as I learned this morning, is a checkout chick as well.
Where does she get the energy?
Anyway, Miss rabbit tripped on a toy and hurt her ankle, and can be seen here in the pic being nursed by Suzie Sheep.
With her out of action, three separate people had to be brought in to keep all her various jobs mostly rolling.
The best part of this episode was the growing appreciation in the community of just how much Miss Rabbit does.
So with Peppa watched, I came into work to discover that it wasn't just me that was feeling the effects of the universe's vengeance, but those around as well.
A work colleague, Meggsie, had had the wholly unnerving experience of her boat catching fire on the weekend.
The best that could be said of this is that if anything you own is to catch flame, a boat is the best thing, as at least it's on water.
Being in Byron, the first thing they did once the flames had been extinguished was have a joint.
That smoked, they then started the auxiliary, electric motor to get home, when something went wrong with the running switch and the electric motor's fuse burned out.
So then she and her partner had to jury rig the electric motor with a fuse bypass to get home.
So finally time for some blogging.
However, just as I got moving with the writing, my friend Clinton texted through.
I had arranged with him to go and look at computers at the second hand shop.
I was sorely tempted to blow this off, mainly because I didn't have any money to buy a new computer anyway, but Clinton is my friend, and it couldn't hurt to look.
So we went, and I'm so glad I did.
When Clinton came by my office here, we were discussing the idea of a new computer purchase, and this led to another friend who overheard offering to loan me the putative $135 I would need to buy the cheapest computer in the shop.
So off we went, when we got there we found that there was computer that would fit the bill, so I bought it and brought it back to the office.
And here, my previous expenditure of energy in not blowing Clinton off bore fruit.
Clinton is a computer expert, and we set the computer up and he saw immediately that it needed a bit of work before I could use it.
A BIT OF WORK?! Oh yeah.
We bought it at 12:15pm, and it's now 3:30 and he's still going.
In my idiot way I thought I could buy a second hand computer and just let 'er rip.
Oh no, in fact, now that I think about it, you can't even do that with brand new computer.
You always need to do some fine tuning, updating this and reinstalling that.
Anyway, I'm so happy that I invested a bit of time to have coffee with Clinton, as it's led to a return on time now.
The expression says "Cast thy bread on the waters and it will come back thricefold."
Mind you, I always, remember what my friend Sean said, "Cast thy bread on the waters, and all you'll get back is soggy dough."
However this time I did indeed get back a thricefold return on investment, and have been able to write this while Clinton sits and stares at the screen of my computer saying "Installing 4 of 8 updates", for minutes on end.
NB: he asked it to shut down an hour ago, and it's only just done it.
And so we come to this week's philosophy, you may have heard the expression "If you want to have lots of friends, be one."
Which is very apposite.
I thought that I could do it all myself, that by solving all my own problems, I could be independent and capable.
But the best gift I received this week was from all the people who offered me help in this stressful time, and that was more valuable than just solving things myself.
McKayhi, a recent visitor, offered me money if I was starving.
Crazy Russell made the same offer of help.
My long suffering friend Antony has already loaned me in the thousands.
My friend Evo has given me invaluable financial advice over the recent years, mainly along the lines of "Why don't you get a bloody job?"
One of the cleaners here at work, Elaine, has been helping me with my oven and jug checks in the morning if Scott and Susanna are not available.
Turns out she (Elaine) has some anxiety issues as well, and we seem to be helping each other.
Eric my Clunes' client, always finds me some work to do on Sundays to keep the money trickle going through the winter.
Eric's son Michael has likewise been a great listening ear, and of course Paula the Wonder Horse is always in the background.
My mechanic, Paul, whom I told about the radiator leak and the oddly behaving temperature gauge, has now offered to retreat my car with the head gasket gunk, and if it doesn't work, won't charge me (or more accurately, Fleur).
This of course follows on from pharmacist Fleur loaning my the $400 to get it serviced in the first place.
So I think what I've learned (for another week) is to ask for help, and it doesn't make me less of a man to do so.
No one is an island it seems.
So to close with a couple of youtube clips that I hope will make you laugh.
The first is from QI, and shows a bird who really knows how to dance, and the second is from the Net and shows a spider that could likewise give Fred Astaire a run for his money.

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