D4D

In the firing squad when the revolution comes

Archive for the category “Domestic”

Mileage

This weekend has been one with a fair bit of travelling. It’s just the way things worked out, but it made for a busy one.

On Friday I was over in Oxford, seeing XKCD‘s Randall Munroe at the Sheldonian Theatre doing a talk about his new book.  That was enjoyable – and I’d never been in the Sheldonian before, so that was an additional bonus.

On Saturday I was down in Chichester to see a staging of Macbeth, starring John Simm and Dervla Kerwan.

And then on Sunday I was in Kent, at the Big Cat Experience, as they were doing a “meet the big cats” experience. I’d decided that I wanted to go, and classed it as a birthday present to myself. It was a lot of miles/driving for a two-hour-ish thing, but it was also worth going, and I’d certainly consider going again.

All told, I’ve covered nearly 800 miles over three days.  I’m a daft, daft, daft sode.

Annual Car Costs

The start of October is expensive when it comes to the car, because it’s the anniversary of when I bought it.

So first there’s the renewal of the vehicle tax, although happily that’s not a big expense at £30 for the year.

Then there’s the insurance renewal, which is always a fun dose of bureaucracy and weirdness. And at least that one is an expense that’s spread through the year – I could do it in one payment, but find I usually can’t be bothered.

And then of course there’s the MoT test. Never fun – even if it passes with no problem, you’ve still spent time beforehand worrying about what’ll happen, and figuring out as many of the financial permutations as possible.

Last year, it passed the MoT OK, with just a couple of advisories – although one of those was about the brakes needing attention next year. So I knew that was going to come up, as well as the MoT and a service – which makes it all already Not Cheap.

Luckily though, that was it. I got one small advisory for this year, but absolutely nothing else to worry about. I suspect the clutch is likely to die sometime this year (although I said that last year too) which’ll be an expense at some point.

But for now, it’s all sorted, and my wallet isn’t as light as it could’ve been, so I’ll take that as a positive…

 

Withdrawn

Over the last week, I was supposed to go to two different concerts. In the end I didn’t go to either of them.

The first one turned into a farce, with tickets not delivered, a venue with a remarkably disinterested customer services team, and all just became a lot more hassle than it was worth.  I’ve been in touch with them since, and there’s been some progress, but still, not a good experience at all.

The second one, well, I just wasn’t in the mood at all. I’d purchased the ticket when the gig was initially announced, but as it came closer to the day I was totally unfussed about it, not at all excited or even looking forward to it.  And then on the day itself, I’d been for lunch at one of my favourite places (newly re-fitted and re-opened) and was feeling epically fat as a result, which isn’t really conducive to a good concert.

In both cases though, I also just wasn’t really in the mood for dealing with people – and particulary the type of vacuous bastards that seem to be the gig-going majority at present.

I was going to write a bit more about how I was dealing with it, and some of the other stuff around sociability (or lack thereof) but at the moment I can’t really be chuffed to do so.

More during the week, I’m sure.

Reinsuring

The world of Car Insurance is very, very strange.  I truly don’t understand how it all works.

My car insurance is due for renewal in October, so I recently received the renewal gubbins from my current insurer.  They’ve put my insurance up by £60 for the year.  Bear in mind, I’ve not even spoken to them all year, let alone made a claim, and I’ve now got another year’s no claims discount as well.  And yet it’s gone up.

So I shopped around, doing the usual comparison website thing (Meerkats rather than opera singers) and got one that’s actually £120 cheaper than what I was being offered by the current insurer – and with slightly better cover.

Brilliant, I’ll sign up and do that.  Job done. And this is where it all gets weird(er)

My new insurer is actually one I used a couple of years ago. So when I log in to their ‘self-service portal’ to see my new policy, all I can see is the details of the old one. Fuck sake.  (It looks like the policy is actually tied to a combination of my username and password – so I can change password, and now view the new details instead – but I didn’t know that at the time)

So first things first, I call my current insurer to tell them I won’t be renewing with them. It’s the usual automatic phone gubbins, and gives the name of the insurance provider – let’s call them ABC Insurers, for the sake of argument.   I give the correct information, go through, tell them I won’t be renewing, explain why, and it’s as easy as that.

Then I call the new insurers. Who are also using ABC Insurers.  So I go through the correct information for the new insurance, get things sorted, get the documents emailed to me, and it’s as easy as that.

But it’s weird – I’ve used two different companies (well, two different front-ends) and given them the same information (obviously) but one faction is offering me a significantly better deal than both the one I’m on, and the renewal quote from the one I’m on.  But they’re both the same company underneath!

How the fuck does that make sense? Offering the same person two completely different prices (and slightly different packages/benefits)  Why not allow my current insurer to offer the same price as my new one?  It’s all just a bit bizarre.

Equinoctual

Today is the Autumn Equinox, when the day and night are equal in length.

What that means is the from now until next March, the nights will be longer than the days.

Winter is coming, my friends, winter is coming

Zapper

Back at the start of July, I finally caved and bought one of the big bug-zappers, to see how it worked out in comparison to the other devices I’d purchased in previous years that proved to be far less successful.

And I have to say, I’ve been really pleased with it – it’s not 100% perfect, but that’s mainly because flies and bugs are stupid, and don’t just dive straight into the zapper.  However, it’s been a lot more successful in its body-count than any of the other devices.

Even better, it’s been pretty good (surprisingly so, in fact) on power – considering how much it’s been in use, I think it’s added a pound or two to the summer’s bill, but that’s it.

Really, the only downside for it is that it’s somewhat… explosive. The fly/moth bits can pop outside the case/grille of the zapper, so I’ve had to use the hoover a couple of times to just clean up the bits.   And sometimes the zapping itself is noisy – occasionially, the bugs get caught on the wires, and sit buzzing away for a surprisingly long period of time.  Even the usual zaps can sometimes be loud and sudden, if it’s been quiet for a while beforehand.

Regardless though, it’s been a good buy. I hope I won’t need it as much between now and next Spring, but we’ll see.

Kindling Discontent

Last weekend, while down in Devon, I lost my Kindle. Entirely my own fault, and primarily due to being a dickhead – but still, bloody annoying.

I ordered a replacement pretty much immediately, and hoped that Amazon had improved the method for restoring all the books I’ve got onto the device. It’s been a bloody awful experience the last couple of times, but the last time was three years ago. So, knowing how swiftly they release new stuff on AWS/Cloud, it’s got to have been worked on, surely?

Welllllll, yes and no.

The experience is a bit better – at least now it keeps a record of what books have been put into Collections (think of each Collection as a bookshelf) which sort of makes things easier. But not much – because you can’t actually select, for example, a set of Collections and say “Deliver these”.

Instead, it’s still horrifically manual, and dirt-slow. You have to go to the Amazon site, and then “Manage Content and Devices”. If you only have a few books, then great, that’s fine. I haven’t – I’ve got about 600.  So even selecting the maximum of 200 books at a time – which is sort-of easy, although still involves scrolling the page down until it’s got that full 200 listed, and then “select all” – then takes forever to actually push them to the Kindle.

With the Collections, once the books have been pushed to the Kindle, it should then put them into the right places – so that’s at least a small improvement. Last time, I had to re-add books to the Collections as well, which made the entire thing a massive pain in the arse.

The thing is, none of this should be difficult. So long as one does backups of the device (and the Sync process is actively encouraged by Amazon, so one can read a book on one device and then continue it on another) then it should be a simple matter of going “Copy the stuff from this backup onto that machine”, in the same way it does for my iPhones.

All told, even with the improvements, it’s a rotten first experience with a new device. It surprises me just how bad it actually is – the entire thing seems to be something that Amazon doesn’t expect to happen, or that’s only been tested with five or ten books. I wonder if it’s something Amazon will ever get round to fixing…

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