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December 18: Disaster

So today was one of those days where something little turned into something big. And not ‘good’ big.

One of our systems at work needed a security patch. As with any system update, we put a fair bit of planning into it, but since this was a mere patch rather than a major update I assumed this would be a relatively routine process.

I was wrong.

We started the update at about 5pm … and quickly managed to render my employer’s main website inaccessible for almost two hours. Clearly not the outcome we were aiming for. Nor did it make for a fun evening.

Fortunately I’d already headed home (we typically do these updates after working hours, so I coordinate them from home). Also, we had a third party managing the update for us, so there was minimal ‘hands-on’ support for me to provide. This meant, conveniently, that I was able to cook dinner for the Kinderbesten while the rest of the world was falling apart. I was also fortunate that they were able to keep themselves occupied when I needed them to, even if it meant a little more iPad time than I’d generally allow.

Eventually the website came back up, we ran a few tests and determined everything was fine, and called it a night–just in time for me to put the Kinderbesten to bed, in fact.

I was lucky, on this occasion, that the timing of the disaster happened to fit well with my domestic routine. However, the whole thing forced me to realise how lucky I am that I’m not in the sort of role where I’d be required to drop everything as soon as anything goes wrong: I simply wouldn’t be able to. I’m very lucky that I work in a job that allows for a certain amount of flexibility; because I have very little of it myself at this point in my life. Sure, I can do things like pop out to the shops and organise babysitting at short notice, but it’s pretty necessary for my to have a work day that ends at about 5pm and doesn’t start again until the next day. I get home and work is forgotten, and the Kinderbesten take priority. And, when they’ve gone to bed, I need those last few hours to unwind and reset, ready for the next day.

December 17: Quality time

One of the perils of writing a diary post for every day of the year, but not actually writing each diary post on that day of the year is that you don’t always remember what you were doing.

My sole note for today is “quality time”, which isn’t hugely revealing. Given that this day is a Sunday, it almost certainly means that I got to share a fair chunk of downtime with the Kinderbesten, probably either watching movies or playing board games.

Being the last Sunday before Christmas, this seems like a wise choice: it’s the choice to do nothing but relax in the company of your loved ones.

December 16: Christmas decorations

I’m not typically big on the Christmas decorations. I usually leave it until it’s as close to Christmas Eve as it can be, then begrudgingly get the tree out of the shed and throw some baubles on it.

Not this year.

This year I decided that the weekend just after the Kinderbesten broke up from school would be our scheduled slot for tinselling up the house and I was almost … excited? … about it too. I’ve got quite the stack of decorations, randomly gathered over the years, which meant virtually no expense or prep was required. I did, however, buy several more meters of tinsel (because I love tinsel) along with some cheap paper chains and bunting for the Kinderbesten to make.

So, the tree went up. The lights went on. The Kinderbeast helped me (sort of) put baubles on it in a suitably chaotic fashion. But there was something missing: I’d seen some kitty unicorn decorations in the shops earlier and had forgotten to pick them up. Despite my misgivings about shopping on a Saturday afternoon in the lead-up to Christmas, I had to have those unikitties, so we returned to the mall. I had a small heart attack when the decorations were no longer where I’d seen them in the shop earlier, but it turned out they’d just been moved. I did also succumb to the lure of another string of fairy lights (20m tho!), and some more (half price) tinsel, and some hooks to keep the fairly lights up.

I got home and duly stuck up the fairy lights, which were more than long enough to string around the entire room–and it looked awesome! I then cut the tinsel into strips and used it to decorate all the posters that I’ve put up on the walls this year. As a finishing touch, the kids managed to make some progress on their paper decorations.

Yep – it’s starting to look a lot like Nakatomi Plaza around here!

December 15: Black Christmas

For today’s Horror Friday we went with the seasonal theme and decided to watch Black Christmas. It’s a film I’ve seen maybe once or twice before, and had mostly lumped it in the ‘Vintage Slashers’ bucket. This time, I was able to get a bit of a fresh perspective on it–possibly because I’ve watched so much horror this year, including revisits of two of the other ‘original slasher films’: Halloween and Friday the 13th.

One of the first things that struck me this time around is that Black Christmas predates both of those movies by several years, which makes it a significant precursor to the genre. As a consequence, it’s far less concerned with the trappings of the genre and able to set its own rules. It’s interesting to try and pick out where it’s playing with the tropes of 1970’s psychological thrillers, and where it’s dabbling with the groundwork that we’d eventually see repeated in dozens of future chillers.

Having enjoyed it so much this time around, it may have to become part of my standard Christmas viewing in the years to come …


December 14: Present fatigue

Most Christmases end up with me buying presents at almost the last minute and paying little attention to how much it all costs me. Not this year!

This year, partly through necessity, and partly through the magic of #childfree weekends, I’ve been far more on the ball. I sorted out presents for the Kinderbesten back in November, maybe even earlier. After some crises of indecision, I’ve managed to choose and purchase presents for my friends. Over the last week, as you’ll have read, I organised presents for the rest of the family too. I don’t want to even think about how much it all cost, but I’m pretty happy with what everyone’s getting and I’m really happy that there will be no panicked, last-minute Christmas Eve shopping trips.

However, there is a flip side. I’m suffering from present fatigue, which is likely more a symptom of taking a leisurely approach to buying presents this year, than due to the number of presents purchased. It seems that each time I allowed myself a minor celebration at having successfully bought a bunch of presents, I would remember a whole other bunch of people that I needed to buy presents for. It sometimes feels like the last two months have been an endless procession of gift purchases. Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy with everything I’ve bought, and I’m happy that I’m in the financial position this year where I can buy everyone presents without worrying too much about the cost. It’s just felt a bit like a marathon.

Next year (I kid myself) I might try that idea of buying one or two presents each month and spreading the load over the year. I gift even wrap the presents up as I get them, so everyone gets a mystery gift for Christmas 2018. Because I sure as hell won’t remember what’s in there …

December 13: Alabama

Today we found out the results of the Alabama Special Senate Election over in the USA–the election where the choice was between someone who is a paedophile, and various other appalling things, and someone who is not.

Fortunately the not-paedophile won. Not by much. But by enough.

I’m only really writing this post to mark the fact that I will never quite grasp how far politics has (visibly) fallen in my lifetime, and that there are people who will look past someone being a paedophile and consider that person suitable to occupy one of the most influential positions in the country.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the right-wing press was screaming hysterically about paedophiles, and that politicians would be forced to resign following the barest whiff of infidelity. Now we’ve reached the point where Donald Trump has sunk the bar so very low that it’s hard to imagine a crime that his supporters wouldn’t forgive.

The ray of hope here is that the people of Alabama got off their arses and resisted. Black voters, in particular, told the Republican party to shove their continuing efforts to take their voting rights away and played the major role in electing a Democrat to serve in the senate. At this point it doesn’t even matter that he was a Democrat; it only matters that he wasn’t a putrid waste of a person. What a choice, eh? Do we vote for absolute garbage? Or do we vote for a regular person? Let. Me. Think.

Anyway, time to go and eat mince pies …

December 12: Still only Tuesday …?

There is something wrong with this week. It’s still only Tuesday. It feels like it should at least be Thursday. This week must be broken …

Speaking of broken things, I endured a triptych of tech fail this evening.

Exhibit A: I get an email advertising 50% off all kids books on a particular website. I think that’s pretty handy, since I have kids and they like books. I click on the link, go to the site, only to get: “Something is wrong. Please try again later”. I did try again later. Many times. And something was still wrong.

Next, I wanted to send my sister -in-law something drinkable for Christmas. I went to a site that sold drinkable things, found something that looked good, then went to pay: “Something went wrong.” I tried again since, yes, a major retail website not being able to accept credit card payments in the lead-up to Christmas did indeed seem wrong. Every time I tried to pay I got: “Something went wrong.” Eventually I decided they didn’t want my money and decided I’d try somewhere else (another day).

Finally, time to buy some drinkables for the rest of the family. This time I could do click and collect, which, fortunately, meant using a different site. Less fortunately, the Kinderbesten decided to be extra unsettled tonight and kept getting out of bed. This, combined with my general indecision over which drinkables to buy, meant that the whole process took about 45 minutes. Finally, however, I filled up my basket and went to pay. This time without any errors. Probably. After hitting the pay button I got presented with a loading screen for about two minutes. Then, I was abruptly returned to the site and presented with the spectre of my basket magically emptying itself. I checked my emails: no confirmation that the order had gone through. I nearly went to place the order again, then decided to check my bank account first. This, finally, revealed that the order had gone through. About an hour later I finally got an email confirmation.

Such fun.

And, after all of that, I didn’t have enough time left over to watch the final episode of Godless.

Christmas is great, right?

December 11: Camping out

Tonight, on easily one of the hottest nights of the last few months, I ended up with both of the Kinderbesten sleeping in my room.

They have an irrational obsession with sleeping in my bed: I mean, given the choice between having a whole bed to yourself, and sharing a bed with someone else, which option would you choose? Anyway, we’ve managed to get things down to a routine: the Elderbeast gets to sleep in my bed on Sundays (unless he’s especially restless, in which case he gets banned for an indeterminate period of time), while the Kinderbeast gets Monday night.

This being Monday night, it was the Kinderbeast’s turn. Unfortunately the Elderbeast was insistent about not sleeping in his own bed. Meanwhile, I was insistent up on the exact opposite. The Elderbeast eventually proposed dragging his [double] mattress and duvet from his room, through the hallway, across the lounge, and into my room, where he was convinced there was sufficient floor space to accommodate his sleeping arrangements. I, naturally, chuckled over this … until it turned out he was perfectly serious.

We eventually compromised: the Kinderbeast being relentlessly determined to sleep on my floor, I grabbed his duvet along with a second duvet for extra padding, and settled him down in a mock sleeping bag arrangement. Somewhat to my surprise, he stayed there all night, even declaring it to be “pretty comfortable”.

I, meanwhile, slept very well on my very comfortable queen-size mattress πŸ™‚

December 10: Carrie Pilby

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my new hobbies is trawling the internet for recommendations of hidden gems on Netflix. My choices have mostly erred towards sci-fi thrillers, but I’ve also been on the lookout for quirky comedies. The success rate has been surprisingly high so far, so I’ve been happy to carry on devoting my Sunday evenings to watching films that the internet has recommended to me.

Tonight’s choice was from the quirky comedy pot, and I loved it almost immediately. Carrie Pilby is about an over-educated, over-intelligent British girl living in New York. She is advised by her therapist to create a list of things to achieve over the year, which she naturally resists (“What’s so great about being happy anyway? There are some brilliant unhappy people”) but eventually relents. It’s predictable in parts, but delightful in most others and reminds me a lot of the indie films I used to lap up in my more film literate days (Hal Hartley and Whit Stillman fans will likely be perfectly at home with Carrie Pilby).

Even the Elderbeast loved it, after I virtually forced him to sit down and watch a film with me. And now I can’t wait to watch it again.

December 9: early start

Today heralds another #childfree weekend and, with it, my usual determination to maximise my ‘doing nothing’ time as much as possible. This weekend’s strategy started with me getting my food shopping done on the way home from work last night, as is becoming the #childfree weekend tradition. This, in turn, freed me up to plough straight into my other shopping first thing on Saturday morning–and, after finding out that the local mall was opening at 7am each Saturday until Christmas, first thing really was first thing.

Now, I’m not actually insane, so I didn’t get down there for 7am, but I did get down there closer to 8am than most rational people would choose to on a Saturday morning. Naturally most of the smaller shops were closed, but the places I needed to shop at–and, most critically, get coffee from–were all open.

My main task for the morning was to get presents for my team at work. Over the last few years, I’ve gotten in the habit of putting together little gift bags for everyone (mini-stockings, if you will). I already had plenty of chocolates to go in, but I needed some fun trinkets. After a bit of hunting around I found some suitable items, along with the gift bags themselves. I also happened to find that Big W was selling all Blu-rays half price for the weekend, so I picked up a few recent release that were on my wish list: Baby Driver (which I was really excited to see until the Kevin Spacey stuff happened); Wonder Woman; and War For The Planet Of The Apes.

After that, I made it home for a little after 10am for breakfast and a day of chilling out in front of the TV. Awesome!

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