Monday, February 19, 2007

Taxing my brain - a recurring theme

Why doesn't blogger ever remember me?
Why are there days when there is one word I cannot spell all day? Today I've been writing and typing reprot. Let's not talk about consluting.
Does Robbie Williams realise that if he had cut down on his daily dose of 36 double espressos and 20 Red Bulls he may not have had such problems sleeping?
Do the Catholics and Anglicans really want to become one church under the Pope again? Doesn't that make most of Ireland's history of the 20th century redundant?
Why are all these TV shows picking up on songs I'm obsessed with. Suddenly I see by KT Tunstall popped up on So you think you can Dance, and last night on Ugly Betty too. I'll never get it out of my head.
Who makes the ads for iPods and iTunes - I love your work.
Why is Betty Ugly? I think she has the most beautiful smile.

I feel better now. Thanks

Time to face the strange, c-c-changes

While I've been involuntarily separated from the internet, there has been a big change in my life. No, I'm neither single nor pregnant.

Legally, since December 2005 I've been living on my own. Technically it was a lot longer than that, as my old housemate was pretty much living with her boyfriend, coming on about once every three months to get her mail and pat her cats. As you can imagine, that left me in a simmering state of resentment, lumbered with the responsibility of dealing with her 2 cats, paying all the bills, dealing with the real estate agent, and just generally shouldering all of the household responsibility. I don't mind dealing with the responsibility when I'm the only one, but when it is supposed to be shared, I get very resenty. The fact that I'm also a control freak is irrelevant. Is it possible to be a control freak and resent having control at the same time?

After she moved out, I did all the right things. I paid to get the carpets cleaned (and didn't they come up well) and advertised in the Melbourne broadsheet for a housemate. As a bonus, they also placed the ad online. I didn't realise that there were so many interesting people looking for somewhere to live. I gave no one my address until I had got their contact details (phone with caller ID very good), phone screened them, and made sure that they knew I wanted contactable referees. I also made sure that I had someone here every time someone was due. I also hid a whole lot of valuables. Why advertise what is here?

I got an older demographic responding to my ad. (God, I sound like a marketing professional - sorry) The first 5 people who called were all over 45 - not quite what I expected. The first couple screened out completely - one of them wanted a separate room to store his motorcycle in and do the maintenance in. Pass - the house has cream carpet. One of them had recently separated, and wanted someone and somewhere to help him look after his young children when he had access visits. No thanks. I remember when I was a kid, just how much I resented my Dad's housemate after he and Mum separated.

Then I actually made times for some people to come and see the house. The first guy was quite nice on the phone, said he was a printer and liked cats. Very important with king George in the house. He showed up, and before he even got to the front door, I could smell him. Dry retching come on down. He owned a flat in a very nice beach suburb (which I don't live in!), but had decided that he had filled it up with all of his possessions, so he bought 2 kittens and went to live in a motel. To top it all off he didn't actually work. His hobby was finding copyrighted images online, and then printing them onto t-shirts. He gave me his references, and then told me that they didn't know him under his current name, and I would need to use another name. He had changed his name a couple of weeks earlier after a dream told him that the moon would like his new name better. Once we got rid of him (thank goodness for 6 foot plus brothers with muscles for days), he called 5 times in the next 2 hours to see if I was interested in him moving in. Umm, no.

The next person to come and visit was a nurse who was studying for her Masters. Nice, gainfully employed, studying hard so won't be having massive partiers. Yes, I think I'm getting old. She came in, we hit it off quite well, and chatted for a while. She was really close to being offered the room when she told me that she had moved house 8 times in the last 6 months. Why did she move house so often? Apparently she didn't like it when things were done anyway but hers, so she moved out. 2 control freaks in one house - pass. The next guy had no contact details, no job, no income and didn't know when he would be around for me to contact. The next guy had a 60 cigarette a day habit and didn't believe in smoking outside. No thanks, I like breathing. Then I had a police officer who objected to the locks and the windows. OK. There was another girl who asked if I minded if she practiced her bagpipes and had her bagpipe band over on Sunday mornings to practice. I didn't mind the bagpipes, I minded the Sunday morning. Apparently that was the only time that suited them all. No thanks.

So I resigned myself to having no one to live with for a while. It meant that I was paying a whole lot more rent than I really wanted to, but I didn't have to move, and I had room to live, unlike if I was in a flat. I really didn't want to live in a flat. I like having trees and garden, and not having to share my laundry. I'm also not that keen on hearing every detail of other people's lives. Call me weird.

Just before Christmas my brother (not the engaged one) told me that he was having problems with his housemate, and asked if I would mind if he stored his stuff at my house for a while. We talked about it a bit more, and ended with me offering him one of the spare rooms in the house. Win for me - someone else to share the bills, someone I trust to live with, a bit of extra security. Plus for him - cheaper rent, sharing a house who knows and trusts him, living in a nicer, safer area. Benefits for both of us - someone to share the cooking and cleaning, only one of us has to drive for family functions, and getting to spend time together and get to know each other as adults.

So far I'm really enjoying it. He is cooking porterhouse steak for dinner as I write this, and he gets really offended if I take the bins out. It is so nice not to have to do it for a while. He and my boy are getting to know each other better, although at times they do gang up on me. We do have to be careful not to gang up on other people though. One of my oldest friends was stunned when I told her a couple of weeks ago at book club. All she could think of was our teenage years when we would physically and verbally fight as if we wanted to eliminate each other from the planet.

I'm getting to know my brother as a friend, and I think we are building a closeness that we haven't had since we were toddlers. I think I'll treasure this time for ever.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Getting reacquainted

I think I'm officially a geek. I've been a very happy little Vegemite reacquainting myself with the laptop, and setting up everything that I want to use the way that I want to use it. Nearly there.

While I was away I managed to post my 100th post - to think I didn't even notice because I worked out how to email myself. I'll have to go back through and work out which it was.

I've been looking at some of the stats for how people have been visiting this blog (I told you I was a geek), and I think I can safely say that music is the key way people are finding me - see the list below for proof. I'm pretty proud that one person typed "I hate hewlett packard" into google and found me. I am not alone. To the optimist who typed "the appeal of paris hilton"into google - good luck - I don't think I helped you, but I hope you find your answer. I know one of the searches was me (not the hp one) because I had some spare time at work, had a mental blank for the url of one of my favourites, googled myself (yes, I'm tragic) and visited you from the link on my homepage.

12.50% build me up buttercup baby
6.25% what film had schools out for summer in the sound track
6.25% world party private revolution
3.13% who sang the song boys,boys,boys,(summertime love)
3.13% schools out culture beat
3.13% who wrote buttercup baby?
3.13% why do you build me, build me up, buttercup, baby, just to let me down
3.13% why do you build me up buttercup, baby
3.13% why do you build me up buttercup baby just to let me down
3.13% why do you build me buttercup baby
3.13% why do you build buttercup
3.13% song wake up australia
3.13% why do you build me up (build me up) buttercup, baby
3.13% engagement daryl braithwaite
3.13% the appeal of paris hilton
3.13% why wont you build me up
3.13% who wrote the song build me up buttercup
3.13% this is what it is
3.13% why do you build me up buttercup
3.13% why do you build me buttercup
3.13% build me up buttercup baby just to let me down
3.13% why do you build me up, buttercup baby just to let me down?
3.13% why do you build me buttercup baby just let me down
3.13% the monitors singing in the 80's
3.13% why do you build me up build me up buttercup baby
3.13% daryl braithwaite engage
3.13% i hate hewlett packard

So many people want to know about build me up buttercup though - I am not the only tragic in the world!!!!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

888 (approximately) ...

hours since I've had my laptop. I'm watching it boot up now. Cross everything you have that it works now.

Oooh the excitement - I just saw the Windows icon appear. It's been a very long time since I've seen that. Eeeek, blue screen, hope it isn't the blue screen of death. Cross everything.

Still blue. Starting to feel that way.

Okay, so they left the Ultimate Boot Windows CD in the DVD drive - clever little munchkins. I suppose I should give it back, but I'm not loving them enough right now. It works. There will be no sleep tonight.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Light at the end of the tunnel (fingers crossed it isn't a train!!)

A courier tried to make a delivery to my house yesterday. Apparently it was from the nice computer repair people. Shame they still couldn't get the delivery address right. Head, meet wall.

So I guess I'm driving across town in peak hour traffic to pick it up from the freight depot.

Oh shit, it's a train
I've just got off the phone from the courier company. They can't find the laptop - it isn't lost, they just don't know where it is. Everyone else's head, meet wall. On the plus side, I don't need to fight traffic, driving into the sun glare to try and get the laptop. Apparently I would have needed to drive further than they originally said. Yippee.

Best bit, they were quite happy to leave the laptop on my front porch without a signature. Not very valuable apparently.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Head, meet wall

Today a courier stopped by my house 3 times to pick up the laptop. Oddly enough I was at work.

Little metal capsules

I'm spending a lot of time in my car at the moment, the product of multiple train cancellations. Unfortunately, lots of other people are spending the same amount of time in their cars, so I'm spending a lot of time people watching.

Our cars seem to be a very big part of our lives. When you spend a lot of time in it, you start to view it as an extension of your home. I've developed this theory after watching the odd things people do in their cars.

This morning I saw a man driving towards me with his toothbrush sticking out of his mouth, and a bottle of water in his hand. I really hoped that he wouldn't be spitting out the window. One day last week, the woman in the car next to me was plucking her eyebrows. I'm a big sook and would prefer to pay someone else to remove the excess hair from my eyebrows, and I cannot imagine being able to sit in the car with a pair of tweezers, using the rear vision mirror to yank the miscreants out, one hair at a time. I'm not so sure that I would want to arrive at work with red dots above my eyes either, unless the concealer was lined up ready for another set of traffic lights or a traffic jam. I had a house mate once who would use his electric shaver in the car on the way to work - that way he could get up at 8.40 and be at work by 9. No thanks.

I've started wondering what people think of me when they look into my car. Depending on what time I leave in the morning, I am either listening to the local ABC radio station, and probably arguing with the news or a politician, or I decide I need to play nicely and put my ipod on shuffle. Anyone who looks into my car will either see me yelling at the radio (note for future reference - do not do this with the window open, people look at me strangely!!), laughing at the radio or singing along at the top of my lungs. Again, probably not something the world needs to hear, but I'm happy. This morning my trip to work involved No limit by 2 Unlimited, Happiness by Regurgitator, I want to be loved by Bon Jovi, The Fool on the Hill by The Beatles, I wanna dance with somebody by Whitney Houston (I think I scared someone with this), Common People by Pulp, 7 Seconds by Youssou D'Nour and Neneh Cherry (in my head all day - the bit about when a child is born), Everloving by Moby, Body and Soul by Jenny Morris, Buy Now Pay Later by the Whitlams and Love Song by AC/DC. I love the shuffle function. Oh, and Hungry Eyes from Dirty Dancing.

The most disturbing thing I've seen while driving - the public display of affection between a man and his hand. Mate, tint your windows - please!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I hate Hewlett Packard

and I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever purchase a product from them ever again. Ever. Ever. It would be too soon if I had to deal with them in a post apocalyptic world.

My laptop is dead. The hard drive has bad sectors. I don't think putting them in the naughty corner will help. I am sad. The very little data that I have unbacked up is lost. Go on, back up yours now.

And now, the fun really begins. My laptop is still under warranty.When I called the service and warranty helpline they told me that they could not authorise a warranty repair unless I had the laptop with me and could give them the serial number. This was even though I had given them the case number that included my serial number. He even said he had it, but refused to authorise the repair. Then he said that he wouldn't authorise the repair until I had done some diagnostic testing - um, hello, it is in the computer shop, and if I didn't do it then, I would need to do it over the weekend using the online support. Hmmm, challenging, computer no start, how about I go online with it to do some diagnostic testing. What planet are these people on? I had to ask to speak to a team leader and refuse to get off the line until I did, and then he authorised my repair. I felt like a right bitch doing it, but I was so frustrated that I couldn't get any help from them. Of course, then he told me that I had to deliver the laptop for repair myself to the only service centre in Melbourne, more than 40 kilometres from my house, and 60 from my work, and they were only open between 9 and 5 Monday to Friday. Anyone else see the problem with that? I work 8.30 - 5.30 Monday to Friday. It took another 20 minutes to get the phone number for the service centre, and then he gave me the Sydney phone number.

The Sydney phone number was a blessing in disguise though - I called them and she told me that I had to deliver it in business hours myself, or wear the cost of a courier. I started thinking about it, and a lightbulb went on. One of the reasons that I chose this laptop was that it had pick up and delivery warranty service. 10 deep breaths and a lap of the floor, and I was ready to gird my loins and enter the fray with Hewlett Packard again. 10 minutes to wade through the menu options - why is it so hard just to talk to a person? Think of all the extra employment it would create. Then a different person from their support team. I gave the case details again, and asked to arrange a courier to pick up my laptop, take it to the repair centre, get it fixed and return it to me. Hold again, while I get told what a valuable customer I am. Oooh, I'm feeling the love. Yes, we can arrange a courier. Hallelujah!!! I can't tell you who our courier company are, they will need to call you to arrange pickup. Much stamping of feet and silent gnashing of teeth. My lovely colleagues kept score, and apparently I gave my address 7 times, spelling it each time, getting slower and S-L-O-W-E-R, and with more and more exagerrated enunciation. Then I got to give my mobile number. They stopped counting, but when I finally got off the phone, they sang my phone number to me. I have been promised a phone call from the courier company on Monday to arrange pick up, but if I don't hear from them it is OK for me to call Hewlett Packard back on Wednesday. I want to cry with frustration just thinking about it.

Am I asking too much? I just want to buy a product that works. If, heaven forbid, something goes wrong, I want to be able to call someone who can communicate clearly and fluently, who listens without interrupting me, and then provides me with intelligent options. Please don't treat me like an idiot, and make me think that you have policies to actively avoid meeting your warranty obligations. If I hadn't insisted on speaking to a team leader, would my warranty repair have been authorised. If I hadn't called back, would they have met their courier pick up and delivery obligations? I am a consumer of their product, and their "service" now will effect whether I will be a repeat purchaser. It isn't going to happen. Not only that, but I've blogged about my negative experience with them, my entire office knows about it, my friends and family are aware (my God, have I been boring everyone stupid?), the staff in the computer shop who have been trying to retrieve my data are well aware of it, and if anyone should ever ask me about a Hewlett Packard product, I'll be telling them exactly what I think. Bad word of mouth is very bad for business, even if they are a massive multinational corporation.

Here endeth the rant. I'm going to go and do something constructive now; like plan and pack a picnic for us to take to the beach tonight. That makes me happy, and has no technology involved.