Friday 13 February 2015

Happy Birthday Lachlan! (Oh, and you're gonna die)

Beautiful Dunoon, nice to place to work as long as you're not mowing the grass
Finally back to the blog, good to be writing free form again, and letting the old creative areas of the brain fly free.
So what this title is all about is that my birthday was this week, I'm 50 now.
Feel generally Okay about it, though I have a technique that seems to work for me, which is I start calling myself the new age that I will be, three months or so before my birthday.
This takes the pressure off the actual day, and makes me feel like I'm sort of easing into it.
All aid is required for birthdays with a zero in them, that's for sure. As I said to Russell Meadley on Facebook, "In the end the best thing that can be said about a birthday with a zero in it is that once it's over, you've got nine years before you have another one."
NB: That's ten years Lachlan, I thought they taught you to add up at uni, apparently not.
Anyway, the events on  and around the day bear reporting because as usual they showed me looking stupid, which is generally the bits that give the greatest laughs in the electronic pages of this blog.
My birthday was Thursday this week, the 12th of Feb, and I can honestly say I had forgotten all about it.
I got up at the usual hour, seven o'clock or so, and switched on my computer as normal, which I do to scan the news to see if anything environmental had come up, which I would have to report on for Independent Australia.
Also, these days, I turn on the news hoping to hear that Australia has woken up, and that Tony Abbott and his cohort of evil have been taken out and shot, or better yet, imprisoned on Manus Island.
However the first thing I noticed in my email inbox was a birthday greeting from Shaz Davis, Spurway as was, and that was what reminded me that today was indeed the twelfth, and it was my birthday.
So I responded to Sharon, and all who sent through good wishes, thank you all.
However, the first thing on my agenda for this birthday was mowing Michael's lawn up at Dunoon.
As it was a long trip, well long for me, some Sydney commuters go further, and take more time than that, but with the longish trip I had to get help from my friend Scott.
My anxiety disorder has been bad over the frenetic holiday period, and thus my bizarre OCD of checking the oven is off fifty times before I can leave the house has been a bit out of control.
Anyway, Scott left his desk and came over to my apartment with me, and as we walked he gave me a birthday present.
I opened it up and it was a new iPhone, I was greatly appreciative, but Scott really gave it to me to drag me into the twenty first century, as my old phone (more on that anon) was still powered by possums on a wheel.
So I said thanks, and then we did the checks, and I got in the car and headed up into the hills to Michael's place.
As you can see in the picture, Dunoon is a fertile place, and while I love being there Michael's lawn is mostly slope, and it's been wet, so it was two hours hard slog, but I got it done.
By the time I had finished, my everything below the waist was the colour of Dunoon's brown soil, so I looked like a strange racial hybrid with Indian legs and a Cucasian torso and head.
So I scraped some of it off myself, then loaded my gear and headed off to my next appointment, coffee with Clinton and Dave at Suffolk Park.
As agreed on the phone the night before, I sent the boys a text as I left saying I would be at the coffee shop, the Yellow Flower, in 45 minutes.
So I drove off, as I did my phone beeped, and I thought that was the phone saying the messages has been sent.
Close to Byron Bay, there were road works going on, and the sign was against me, so I pulled over to wait, and checked my phone.
To my surprise, and in a presaging of technological headaches to come, on the screen of the phone it said: "Now sending Dave Rock." I watched and the icon whirled, and then the screen cleared and it changed to "Now sending Clint". Turns out there was no mobile reception up at Dunoon, and so the phone had been trying to pick up the network all the way down the hill.
It had finally done so five minutes from the Yellow Flower, and so Clint was just getting the message that I wouldn't be there for another 45 minutes.
So I quickly called Clint, and luckily he was at the coffee shop and I was able to catch him as he was about to go home.
Dave did show up apparently, but 30 minutes after Clinton and I had gone home. I did try to call Dave from the coffee shop, but even though his home was only five minutes from where Clint and I were having our lattes, there was apparently no reception.
So coffee done I headed home where I had to do some research into a story I was working on about life in the Latrobe Valley a year after the fire at Morwell.
I got home, and saw Scott's phone present on the table, and decided I better start familiarising myself with it.
And that's why I mentioned the phone jiggery-pokery above, because the new phone was about to add to my woes.
I went to turn it on, and do you know, I could not get the damn thing to activate.
I pressed the button, no lights on the screen, then I thought, 'maybe I have to press and hold, like with my old phone.' So I pressed and held down the button for five seconds, and that didn't work either. So I pressed all the buttons present, but could not get the thing to turn on. The Apple screen remained black and inactive.
So then I decided to take the phone into the office and see if Scott could show me what I was doing wrong. When I picked it up, however, it slipped out of my fingers and fell on the table, and when it landed I discovered the problem.
I had been looking at the back of the phone!
In my defence however, I think you can see that in some ways the back, with its sticker and the name iPhone, looks kinda more like the front.
Anyway, with that problem solved I went into the office to start my work.
When I got there a letter was waiting for me, and there prominently emblazoned on the envelope, was 'Australian Government'.
'Oh christ,' I thought, 'that can't be good'.
My first thought, for about a millisecond, was that it was a message of congratulations for turning fifty, as the Queen sends out when you turn a hundred.
But if any government was going to do that, it wouldn't be the current Australian government, their main role, as far as I can see, is to make people feel worse.
That idea scotched, I then thought it was from Centrelink, another organisation whose letters terrify me, but it wasn't that either, as their letters have Centrelink on the front.
So then I thought 'it must be ASIO. All my trouble making articles have finally caught up with me, and they want me to show up in Canberra at headquarters and prove that I'm not a) a terrorist, and/or b) a communist, the one meaning invariably the other to Abbott and his slimy acolytes.
So with a lugubrious sigh, I opened the letter from the government. It was from the health department warning me about bowel cancer and urging me to have a scan.
Now this is a good and worthy program, early detection leads to less painful treatment and more effective outcomes.
However, my point is this, 'guys, couldn't you have timed the letter a bit better, so it didn't arrive on my actual birthday??!"
A week later would work just as well.
So with that near heart attack out of the way, I interviewed the head of the Residents' Action Group from Morwell and got my article under way.
Then it was getting late in the afternoon, so I thought I better get across to the Optus shop and switch the SIM card from my old phone to the new.
Now just to background this a bit, last time I got a new phone, at the same Optus shop, I had trouble with my contacts transferring across.
With my old, old phone crapping out, I went into Optus and asked the sixteen-year-old in there for the cheapest phone they had.
This they gave me, hoping to get me out of the shop as quick as possible.
Then they went to transfer to SIM into the replacement phone, and just before they did, I asked, "Will my contacts come across to the new phone?" (and I'm glad I did, I can tell you)
For the sixteen-year-old then said, "Oh, I'll check." So she opened up my phone and did a bit of button pressing, and the said, "No, sorry, you've saved your contacts to the phone, not the SIM, so you'll have to transfer them to the SIM if you want them to come across."
I then said: "Can you do that now?"
She then said: "No, sorry, you'd be best to go home and copy them over, before I make the SIM transfer."
So with a sigh, I picked up my old, old phone, and went home, and then spent a tedious hour and a half opening my contacts one by one, and then pressing 'save to SIM?' in the options.
That done, I went back the next day, and they switched my SIM to the new phone.
All clear? Okay, so that was then, now we come back to the modern day.
I took my new iPhone, and my old Samsung phone across to the Optus Shop, I asked for them to transfer the SIM and they said 'no problem' and began the process.
Once again just as they were about to start, I checked on the contacts, "My contacts will come across with the SIM, is that right?"
To my consternation the sixteen-year-old boy said "no".
I reared back, "But I've been saving my Contacts to my SIM, I had a problem with that last time."
To which he replied, that it was now a question of software, my new iPhone had Apple code, my old Samsung phone had Samsung, Windows-based software.
'Oh for fuck's sake' I said under my breath, then added, "well is there anyway I can transfer them using my computer perhaps?"
He replied: "Sorry, no," then added a remark after which he's lucky he's still got teeth, "You'll have to go home and type them in one by one."
I reared back again in consternation, "Surely not," I said.
He shook his head and continued to insist that this was the only way to do it.
So then mumbling malevolent thoughts about the sixteen-year-olds that work at Optus I took my phones home.
You see, I think they are just sick of old-fangled guys like me coming into their store and wasting their time with new-fangled technology.
But despite my appearance as a gardener with shorts, an old shirt and my famous hat, they didn't know that I had worked in IT for ten years.
I was sure there was a way, and I would find it, and then go back into the Optus shop and say "Stick that up your ignorant sixteen-year-old arse."
So I grumped my way home and began work.
Turns out he was right in a sense, in that time wise, it would have indeed been easier to type them in one by one.
However, there was no way I was doing that, just on principle.
So I did my research and the first thing was the Samsung phone software. I downloaded that, then plugged my phone into the computer.
Sure e-fucking-nuff, the Samsung Proprietary software, written to do this very thing, couldn't recognise a Samsung phone.
So I found another, third party vendor of phone software and downloaded that.
This did work, and finally, at 11pm, six hours after starting work, I had transferred my contacts to my computer.
Then since I had more mowing the next day, I went to bed, and this job was only halfway done.
Got up the next morning, and began work again, now I was working to get the contacts off my computer onto the iPhone, needless to say this involved more software, iTunes, and needless to say after following the instructions the contacts hadn't gone across, due in this case to some arcane formatting issue.
So I chuntered away at it, and with two hours mowing in between, I finally got there.
And how's this for a reason why I gave up IT and went working in the garden.
The iPhone couldn't recognise the format the contacts were in, vCard, even thought this is a cross-platform globally recognised format.
After long search and thanks to the 'How-To-Geek', I found the answer.
I had to import the contacts into the same folder, and change the format from the universally recognised vCard into Windows Contacts format, so that Apple Software could recognise it.
Thus the iPhone couldn't handle the global standard, but instead wanted the contacts to be in a format of their main rival company.
Anyway, now it was one o'clock on the day after my birthday, I had been working on the contacts transfer for twenty hours elapsed time, with about ten hours actual work.
It had nearly killed me, but I had done it.
So then I grabbed both my phones and went, with some relish, back to the Optus shop.
Luckily for them, the two sixteen-year-old boys who had told me to type them one by one weren't there.
I was chagrined I can tell you, I had been so looking forward to telling them that old-fangled, hat-wearing, technology-challenged me, had achieved the impossible.
Anyway, a female sixteen-year-old changed the SIM over and I walked out of the Optus shop trailing invisible clouds of smug satisfaction.
Once clear I called Scott as the first call from my new phone and thanked him again.
Next day, the fourteenth, I went to work out at Mullum and my whipper-snipper gave out halfway through the job.
While preparing this blog, the blogspot website was crapping out all the way.
Perhaps, as I've often thought, I give out some miasmic vibe that tells technology to stop working, maybe I'm more of a luddite than I thought.
So in the end, the balance sheet for my birthday seems to be in the positive.
I got lots of messages of good cheer from Facebook and Twitter friends (@CycloneCharlie8 if you're looking for me), I did something the sixteen-year-old whizz kids at Optus said couldn't be done.
I wrote through the incipient collapse of my blog website, and showed tenacity there.
It's now ten years before I have a birthday with a zero in it, and best of all I've now got my cherished number one fan, Gloria off my fucking back about when the next blog is coming out!
Thank you all for your good wishes.

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