Mar. 22nd, 2016
05:30 pm - Now boarding...
I've just had a builder in to partially board my loft and fit a loft ladder so I can get into it. This is something I've been meaning to do for ages, since it's irritating to have a part of my house which I can't access (even if only to check whether the roof is leaking). So now I have boarding on most of the usable part of the loft, and a nice wooden ladder that hinges up into the loft. (The last part of the job is getting the ceilings repainted in the room with the hatch and also in a room which had some lingering water damage visible from a long-since-repaired roof leak; that happens tomorrow.)
A few photos of loft and ladder here.
Nov. 8th, 2015
I decided recently that I ought to start properly studying Japanese again (for some years I've not really made much active effort, though I have continued reading novels). So far I have:
- Set a goal -- I'm going to take level N1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test next summer. I think this should be doable with some effort to shore up and de-rust the areas I'm weaker in.
- Ordered some books with mock test papers.
- Set up my Android tablet and chromecast so that I can listen to podcasts via my TV, and found some Japanese podcasts to use as listening practice. (This is handy for instilling humility about how lousy my listening comprehension is.)
- Installed the rikaichan for Android Firefox extension so I can tap on words and get a dictionary-lookup popup. (I've had this for ages on my desktop web browser, but these days I do a lot of tablet-based browsing too.)
- Installed the flashcard app Anki, recovered a few old card decks I had from backups of my old laptop and started reviewing a new JLPT1-vocab deck.
- Worked through the 'warmup problems' in an old JLPT1 listening practice book I've owned for a decade and never yet used...
Jul. 4th, 2015
11:27 pm - yuck
Sigh. This evening I discovered that the bottle of mould spray that had been sat in a carrier bag in a corner of the bathroom had apparently suffered some kind of overpressure event, cracked the lid of the bottle, leaked over that area of the floor and left behind a white crystalline residue of who-knows-what... (photo here) I wonder how much of the liquid needed to evaporate into the air in order to leave that much white stuff behind? (The product in question is this, so basically water, sodium hypochlorite (bleach) and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda).)
May. 24th, 2015
06:02 pm - Shelved
This weekend's project was putting up bookshelves, something I'd been procrastinating on for the last couple of years. These are modular shelving units which you can put together in a variety of heights, depths and widths, though in this case I'm not really using the flexibility except to have them be shallower than usual so as not to take up too much of the room. Cutting notches out of the uprights so they fit over the skirting board and then screwing them to the walls took most of yesterday.
This means I've finally unpacked the last three cardboard boxes from moving house two years ago!
Mar. 15th, 2015
03:40 pm - holiday notes and photos
I don't go to Japan very often, but when I do I like to make the stay as long as I can get away with -- it's nice to feel able to have few do-nothing days in a holiday without it seeming somehow wasteful that you haven't gone out to Do Something. I just got back from three weeks out there (which burnt almost all my holiday for this year). February isn't the ideal time to visit, as it's still a bit cold and grey, but the timing was fixed because I tacked them onto the end of a work conference that was on that side of the world. As it turned out there were only a few rainy days, and even a fair amount of sun.
Some photos: Gunkanjima, also known as Battleship Island. This desolate lump of rock turned out to have a big seam of coal under it, so it was heavily built up with everything the miners needed to live -- until the mine became uneconomic in the seventies, at which point Mitsubishi shut it down, and everybody left within a couple of months. (Summary of the history for those interested.)
Kitakyuushuu Railway Museum (only a few photos, as it was a small place I stopped off at on my way somewhere else).
Marugame, Matsuyama and Kouchi, a trio of original (ie surviving from the Edo-period) Japanese castles on Shikoku. There are only 12 originals left, so it's easy to get completionist about the remaining ones. Matsuyama in particular is on an impressively huge scale, and I had good weather and the plum blossoms were just coming out...
Konpira-san, a hilltop temple complex which I visited on a day where it was pouring with rain in an atmospheric but not very easily photographed way...
Oigawa Railway, which was probably the best day of the holiday for me -- a scenic steam train ride up into a beautiful steep river valley, and then some light hiking at the top.
Not pictured: Nagasaki (the contrast between the reconstructions of the buildings where the Dutch lived in Dejima in the 18th century and the fine mansions built on the hill by westerners in the second half of the 19th century is a demonstration in architecture of the shift in power in the relationship between Japan and the Western countries who were trading with her). A weekend catching up with a good friend of mine who I hadn't seen for a few years. Yokohama. Akihabara. Large pile of books and manga to add to the to-read pile...
I also impulse-bought a reproduction map, which I'd like to hang up somewhere, but at 175x65cm it's pretty big. Any suggestions for good ways to display it that won't cost vastly more in framing than the 15 quid I paid for the map itself?
Sep. 13th, 2014
So it turns out that the computer conference I'm at overlaps with YaoiCon, and when I arrived to check in the lobby was full of cosplayers ^_^
Apr. 9th, 2014
So I switched current accounts recently; supposedly this is now a fully automatic process where they transfer all your direct debits and payments across, and for 13 months any payments to the old closed account are forwarded to the new one. Luckily I was cautious enough not to trust this entirely, because it didn't work for my mortgage payment...
What seems to have happened is that Lloyds told YBS about the account change and provided a new set of direct debit information. YBS then said "OK, we'll throw away the old DD info and use this; except we can't take a DD payment from a new setup instruction for 14 days. Whoops, your monthly payment happened to be within 14 days of the changeover? We'll just fail to take that payment, then." I think this is YBS' fault fundamentally -- they need to either be able to handle having two lots of DD info simultaneously, or to be flexible enough to postpone the payment until the 14 day timeout has been reached. YBS however seem to think the banks shouldn't be sending them DD changeovers close to mortgage payment days.
Anyway I've manually made the mortgage payment now; I don't think I have the effort to try to complain about this to either institution. If you're planning a current account switchover you might want to look out for similar pitfalls, though.
Jan. 5th, 2014
Back to work tomorrow. Over the last few days I've reinstated my "bits of card pinned to a corkboard" todo list system, knocked off a bunch of the easier items from it, and confirmed that there isn't anything critical lurking around that I absolutely have to do; so I'm feeling pleasantly accomplished and on top of things.
Dec. 5th, 2013
07:36 pm - Tradesperson day success!
First time paying people to do Stuff to the new house today.
The boiler is serviced, the thermostat has been replaced with a programmable timer one, the leaning fencepost in the garden has been reinforced with a concrete post, and the rotten board on the decking replaced. I feel pleasantly accomplished despite not having done any of the work myself.
(I was mildly surprised that they both said they'd invoice me and I should pay by bank transfer then, rather than wanting a cheque on the spot.)