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Archive for the ‘The Jinx’ Category

Last Xmas he took it apart…

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Last Xmas the daughter and son-in-law (plus kids) were here for a few weeks… not long enough really but that’s another story, but one of Mark’s best features (apart from really being good for the daughter) is how hard he works. Even on holiday it was hard to keep him still! πŸ™‚

Something he did that was exceptionally useful was to repair the Strimmer, or Whipper-Snipper depending on which part of the world you live. Somehow the ‘pull cord’ snapped and he fixed it. The repair was pretty good. In fact it lasted the entire year… until a week or so ago when it finally failed again.

Because he’d done it last year I figured *I’d* have a go – I mean how hard could it be??

Off came the cover, and I discovered that unlike last year, what had happened was that the thing that turns the motor over had slipped off the thing holding the pull-cord (stop me if I’m being too technical ok?? :)).

It looked incredibly easy to fix. All you need to do is lift up the pull-cord thing and reconnect it – yes? Dead simple. So I fixed it…

Well of course, I soon learned it would be dead simple to fix for anyone who wasn’t born with ten thumbs… and a jinx. For those of us not so well blessed what happens is that as you lift it up the spring inside, which you hadn’t noticed, suddenly goes ‘p-twang’, uncoils and goes shooting out of the gubbins in much the same way as a real-world version of a cartoon engine exploding!! There were bits everywhere.

Currently it’s in the repair shop.

While it’s away the grass has taken wild advantage of the situation and the lawns are already beginning to resemble backdrops to Tarzan movies… I’m expecting Johhny Wiesmuller’s ghost to come swinging out any day now.

I don’t think I’ll try to repair anything mechanical again. I’ll leave it to the wife… while I supervise.

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Written by welshdog

November 3, 2008 at 7:29 am

The saga continues.

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Life in this house, as I have pointed out on many occasions, is fraught with random chaotic intrusions into what should be an orderly balanced existence. Yesterday was a typical example. The day began well enough, yet swiftly deteriorated into chaos and confusion… as do a lot of my simple, easy to implement plans.

I’ll begin by setting the scene.

We’d already begun having logistical problems before the day even started properly. On Fridays, *after* school the youngest usually goes skating practice at the local ice rink. She can only meet her friends there once a week so it’s a ‘high point’ for her. However, the eldest wanted to go to Guide Camp for the weekend. She needs this in order to fulfill a requirement from Guide House that she’s been to two ‘camps’ this year before she’s eligible to go to Jamboree later in the year. As it happens, the youngest also wants to go to a ‘Disco’ in the evening .

To get to ‘camp’ we need to leave home at 4:00 pm. at the latest. Skating practice runs from 3:30 p.m. til 5:30 p.m. The Disco starts at 6:30 p.m. Obviously something has to give. We compromise. We tell the youngest that skating is off… but she can go to the Disco if we can get back from the Guide Camp in time to get her there. If we are lucky it’s an hour or so drive so it’s ‘doable’. This isn’t what she wants, but it’s acceptable and the eldest *does* have priority this time..

In the end we all agree and they set off for school all smiles. It’s the end of term. Both kids are excited about getting to school anyway, if only to say goodbye to their friends for two weeks then coming home to loll about doing what they do best… nothing! πŸ™‚

The time is now 7:30 a.m. I have several hours to relax, tidy up, vacuum etc before having to rush off to school to watch the youngest doing some singing and dancing in an Assembly. This is at 11:00 so I have time. I might even have time to get home and sit with a cup of tea before ‘the afternoon dash’.

The plan runs as follows. The eldest needs to be collected from school at 3:30 p.m. we’d rush home, collect her camping gear and get to the camping ground by 5:00 p.m. Timings are tight… but I know where the camp is so I think I can just about make it *if* we get no holdups. I can relax… all is well.

It’s a nice day I go for a walk with the dogs. A nice relaxing hour. Shortly *after* I come home after my hour walking the dogs, fate decides my life is becoming far too peaceful and it starts. First I get a call from the wife. Seems the youngest has fallen in school. She’s twisted the little finger on her left hand or something. Her hand is swollen, it’s been splinted and bandaged. The nurse will call if she needs to be collected and sent to the hospital or whatever. Or at least that’s what I *think* the message says. I relax again.

An hour later I get a call from the school. When will I be arriving to collect our daughter? Err… pardon? Turns out the nurse thinks she’s badly wrenched, sprained, dislocated… or broken… a finger. Oops!!

Obviously now I know it’s serious, I go to collect her. We then spend the next hour and a half in the doctors waiting for her to find time to fit us in. She assesses the situation, send us off to get x-rays. We stop for lunch at McDonald’s on the way and proceed… to the wrong building. I thought the doctor had said “Northwest Radiology, whereas she’d said ‘Norwest Imaging’. Well they sound similar… sort of! πŸ™‚

So, back in the car, over to the right place, register, wait, get the x-rays taken, wait. collect them, and leave.

We get back to the doctor, leave the x-rays there with my phone number and leave. We can’t wait for the doctor, it’s now 3:30 p.m. and the eldest will be wondering where we are. I call her to tell her we’re on our way… we’ll be late but be ready. She calls from the school office to tell us she’s left her phone at home… argghh (more on the doctor in a separate post!).

We pick up the eldest, rush back home, pack the car, and leave for Tara. It’s now 4:15 p.m and I have a minimum hours drive across Sydney to be on time. We rush some more. Lo and behold, despite the traffic, my wonderful driving skills mean we arrive at the campsite just *one* minute late. Am I good or what?? What??

Not so much what… as where. As in “Where is everyone?” Both kids run down to the site office… and come back with one of the Guide Leaders. You are looking for Tara yes? I am indeed. Unfortunately… this is Glengarry. Tara is near Warragamba Dam… the other side of Sydney, past Penrith, and *at least* an hours drive on a clear road. I spend a few seconds screaming at myself inside my head until deafened I set off again.

By now of course it’s 5:15 p.m. and Sydney in the rush hour presents us with anything *but* a clear road.

I call the wife who is still in work (loads to do very busy luckily… well luckily for us anyway) and she finds Tara on the Internet. She starts to give us directions. She says go back the way we came. I type the address into the TomTom navigator which tells us to go a different way… I go the different way. The TomTom stops working… seems the power connection is ‘loose’ so it keeps shutting off. I scream at myself some more.

Being such a wonderful driver, I decide to ‘follow my nose’ while I reset the navigation system… at every set of lights we come to because it continues to switch itself off. I’m that wonderful a driver, I miss an important turning.

Now I’m heading into central Sydney in a queue of traffic four lanes wide and crawling along. I’m overtaken by snails. If I’d wanted I could have got out, stepped on them, got back in and *still* not have moved a car’s length!! As annoyed as I am I let the snail’s life their lives as best they can and continue to crawl along.

Eventually I find a way of stabilising the navigator next to me balanced on my rucksack, my coat and a folded towel. We now have a clear idea where we are. We’re lost.

Lost and in the dark (literally) we may well have been, well we were, but the TomTom seemed to know where we were going even if I didn’t and slowly we threaded our way through mile after mile of unknown streets and suburbs.

You remember that arrival time was 5:00 p.m.? Well we weren’t even on the motorway then! This took yet another hour or so to achieve. By 6:30 pm. however we *were* on the motorway… which was *also* was blocked solid. I have never seen the road as blocked as it was last night… and especially not *leaving* Sydney. Still, with little alternative, we truck slowly along.

Eventually the road clears… we build up speed… and then we stop again. This continues. An hour further on we discover an accident was causing the hold up. All lanes were blocked, one because of the debris… the other because cars were slowing down to rubberneck at the mess! Still, after that we were finally on our way on the open road! The TomTom was now ‘stable’ and giving clear instructions, which we follow.

We follow the instructions *right* until the point where it took us over a series of bumps, down a dark unsignposted lane… which turned it off again.

Because there is a queue of traffic building up behond me and there are no places to pull in, I carry on driving hoping something will turn up. Which it does in the form of a road I recognise! I turn onto it, and call the wife who, at 7:30 p.m. is still in work because she knew we were lost and she had quick access to the Internet. Also of course because she had work to do… but still.

Anyway, she guides us (no pun) to the right turning and we set off again… uphill. Uphill with little petrol left… then the phone tells me it’s battery is running out. Oh joy.

For some reason the gods relented a little and shortly before the car was set to expire from lack of fuel, we found a Caltex petrol station and were able to fill up. Relief flooded us all and we set off with directions from the station owner knowing we were only a short way from the camp site.

Somehow, despite the directions, we miss a turning – again – and end up at Warragamba Dam itself. We turn round, retrace our steps, and turn right at the only place we could… and with grim determination, we keep on trucking.

Eventually at 8:15 pm., some 10 hours after I’d left the house in the morning, and after four and a quarter hours constant driving in the afternoon, we finally arrive at the campsite. The people in the office give us directions, which make no sense whatever in the dark, but we set of… again, again.

We drive across someone’s garden, then over what looks and feels like a ploughed field, and other assorted pieces of hairy ground but eventually, by chance, locate where her Guide Group has begun erecting tents. Some of the Guides come over to say hi, the eldest daughter unloads her gear, and sets off to sort herself out.

That’s when her friends started leaping up and down screaming. Why you ask? Because underneath their feet the ground was moving… alive… with huge hairy ants who were a tad upset because some loon had parked a huge car on top of their nest. With ants swarming all over their shoes and legs… they ran. Brave me jumped back in the car and moved it out of the way whilst trying to brush off the ants that were now everywhere! On a side note I wasn’t entirely successful at removing all of them because some were still in my hair when we arrived home!

And yes we *did* get home safe and sound. I rang the wife to say thanks for the assistance and that she could leave now. We said we’d pick her up from Blacktown train station and all would be well. This we did.

We retraced our path, found the way home with no problems and that evening was almost over. Almost.

When we got back I bandaged the child’s hand, which had had no treatment since leaving the doctor since she said leave it ‘open’. However by now it was causing her a lot of pain so I splinted and bandaged it again and sent her off to bed.

We also went to bed.

Two minutes later I sat blot upright remembering that just as we left the campsite, one of the Guide leaders had asked me to drop her house keys off at her house so her boyfriend could get in. Had I done it? Well of course not… that would have been far too easy.

To round of the chaos perfectly I had to get up get dressed, drive over to this woman’s house, and slip the keys under the mat. I headed home and by 11:30 p.m. I had fallen back into bed and passed out. Another day done.

Like I said… yesterday was much the same as always in our house. Jinx? Don’t talk to me about the jinx!! πŸ˜€

Written by welshdog

April 12, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Posted in The Jinx

It's raining, it's pouring.

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Oh goodie… more jinx. Seems virtually *all* my ‘earning’ websites have disappeared off the net. I’m in the middle of contacting the hosting support staff to see what happened, when it happened and how long it’ll take to get them back… *if* they can get them back.

In addition I looks like two domains renewals we paid weren’t processed and have been marked ‘expired’ at whois.net. To compound the woes we might even have been charged *twice* for the cost of renewal even tho the registration wasn’t completed!! Grrr…..

I’ve been having a *really* bad year!! And last year wasn’t so hot if I recall correctly. Bugger.

Makes you wonder sometimes if it’s worth all the effort?

Written by welshdog

March 12, 2008 at 11:34 am

Posted in The Jinx

More jinx: Car wash (again)

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So yet again I turn up at the Garage, hoping to use up one of the two car was vouchers I bought on 6th Feb (see “Jinxed Moi?“).

Both expire tomorrow so needed to be used. I thought let’s use one tonight… then use the other tomorrow. Individual washes really aren’t that good actually so two in short order might well do a better job than one anyway.

I drive up to the touch pad at the entrance, type in my code… guess what?

Nothing.

After a few seconds I thought “Oh no… not again.”, and then drove round to the kiosk where I (again) presented my coupons to the guy at the desk.

He looked at I… I looked at he… and he gave me the money back. πŸ™‚

I’m going to wait a few weeks before I go back and in the meantime go to a different car wash… maybe their electronics won’t be quite as susceptible to my magic aura? πŸ™‚

Just to add to the fun… the browser has decided that in order for me to write this little post, it has, for the first time ever, decided I needed toΒ  be limited to a window three words wide.

Jinx? Don’t talk to me about jinxes!!


Now… I wonder how I fix this?

Written by welshdog

March 5, 2008 at 3:28 pm

Posted in The Jinx

The politics of ice-skating.

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The youngest daughter goes ice-skating and she really loves it. Whether she’ll become a world champion is open to some doubt of course, but she’s been having lessons three times a week and making progress.

Her coach is Galina Pachin, who is an international world class skater. To see a couple of the stars Galina coaches, look up Joanne Carter and Bradley Santer. Anyway, Galina coaches and the daughter skates at the Sydney Ice Arena… or at least she did until tonight.

The daughter went for her lesson at the usual time, but when we arrived to collect her we discovered that virtually out of the blue, the management at the rink had effectively sacked Galina with immediate effect! We knew that she and the managers hadn’t been seeing eye to eye for some time, not least because of the decision to cancel all early morning figure skating sessions forcing Galina to try to wedge all her pupils into whatever slots she had available which caused a lot of people a lot of stress… those people being the coach, the pupils and the parents!!

My opinion is that the managers have been incredibly unreasonable and have deliberately engineered this ‘crisis’ for reasons I’m not privy to, but I think it has a lot to do with Galina’s refusal to to allow herself to be treated either as a child or as a ‘staff member’ She runs *her own* coaching business at the rink and *pays them* for the use of their facilities. It shouldn’t be for them to dictate how she runs her own business!

Anyway, I can’t claim to have inside knowledge about exactly *why* tonight was the night the management decided Galina was no longer welcome to coach at the rink but I know what the fall out is for us… and that is chaos.

We decided long ago that changing coaches isn’t something to undertake lightly. Coach and pupil share a relationship which develops and matures thru years of close interaction so we have already decided to attempt to follow Galina to wherever the nearest rink is… if possible.

The nearest rink to us is Macquarie Ice Rink which is a short drive down the M2 motorway. On a good day it should take us 40 – 60 mins or so to get there and park so is substantially further away than the Ice Arena. The question that comes to mind of course is what happens on a *bad* day… and this is where it gets complicated.

In the mornings the M2 driving ‘east’ is a parking lot from 6:30 a.m. onwards. This would mean that to get the daughter to the rink, we’d need to be on the road at 5:30 a.m. *latest*. Well of this is a possibility and if we have to do it, we have to do it, but it would be hard to say the least.

Driving back wouldn’t be so hard because we’d be travelling against the morning flow, but even so we’d have the extra petrol *and* extra tolls to pay and neither are cheap!

Other rinks that are ‘available’ and not so far away are Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink which, truth be told, is a bit of a dive but is filled with enthusiastic figure skaters. This rink *really* cares about it’s skaters! Another rink not too far away is the Liverpool Catholic Club Ice Rink. I’ve never been there but have been told it is *very* well presented and pretty cheap to access… tho of course there is considerable travel time from here and more tolls to be considered.

The upshot is that currently, tho we’ve told Galina we’ll be staying with her if she can fit us into her new schedules, it isn’t going to be easy and may require attending two or more differing clubs in order to be able to meet the training regime the daughter is on.

Times will be tough until we can sort this out. I wonder if this is the jinx at work again?? πŸ˜€

Written by welshdog

March 3, 2008 at 6:54 pm

Telstra service chaos.

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It seems to me the service industries are providing less and less in the way of ‘service’, at least as far as customer interaction is concerned. My beef this time is with the national carrier ‘Telstra’ who, since they are trying on the one hand to become commercially viable whilst at the same time pander to political interference are finding times tough.

The results of their drive to modernise and reduce costs affect us users in all sorts of little, yet aggravating ways. For example, paying bills.

So… the story.

Two Christmas’s ago Father Xmas brought the eldest daughter a new mobile phone. Anyone following this blog might recall the saga of the Samsung phone that failed a week out of warranty and wasn’t repaired… well this is the same account.

When the phone was bought a request was made that the account be linked to the home phone (as are all the other numbers) so that we get one bill… it’s a large bill, but it means none are forgotten. Of course whilst the bills are in my name, it isn’t me that pays them, the wife handles the finances. So, when *separate* bills arrived for the phones she just paid them. As it happens she continued to pay them for a year, until she forgot one.

Eventually we started receiving ‘overdue’ notices, these turned into ‘suspension of account’ notices. Naturally we felt this was a little odd so I called the company, gave them the details, talked to two different departments and both assured me there was no money owing so when the next one arrived I ignored it. Then the daughters phone was cut off.

To begin with I got very annoyed, especially when we looked at the bills and saw nothing owing. I was all set to call the company and give them a blast, but luckily something suddenly clicked and I asked the wife if she had been paying two sets of bills for the phones… and of course she had. πŸ™‚

I then realised that when I’d called to make enquiries I’d been discussing the main account assuming the daughters phone was linked. Of course that account *is* clear so once we’d determined what had happened I rang to pay the bill and have the phone unblocked.

I rang at 11:00 a.m. an after 10 minutes of ‘We are Australia’ blasting in my ear I got through to an artificial voice who took my details and, after a lot of redundant data entries put, me through to a ‘consultant’. The ‘consultant’ was able to tell me she’d organise the accounts to be linked so we *did* only have one bill, but she wasn’t able to take payments and transferred me to someone else.

Someone else *was* able to take the payment, but was unable to reconnect the phone so transferred me to another artificial voice where I was to ‘report a payment’. After re-entering all the data that was now doubly redundant, I was given another ‘receipt number’ and told the phone would be reconnected over the next 5 weeks and would I like help with anything else. I requested to speak to a human being.

This led to me being connected to a guy who mumbled worse than *I* do… which made communications a bit strained. Nevertheless he did eventually work out what was wrong… and transferred me to yet another department after assuring me me he would also make sure the bills would be linked together to avoid the same thing happening again.

The lady at the ‘other department’ (Credit Management probably) thought it was all quite amusing, albeit in a stressful sort of way and promised to help sort it all out for me. After a few minutes the payment was verified, the bills linked, and the phone was unblocked.

I’m sure this is some marketing guy’s idea of streamlining the flow of incoming requests for assistance, but why is it so hard for customers who just want to pay a bill?Whatever happened to the ‘old days’ when you could ring up, tell a human being what you wanted… and have *them* deal with it there and then? Surely this is more efficient for both them *and* us?

This skill reduction and breaking down of people’s jobs within a company to the simplest possible level is yet another thing about ‘modern life’ that drives me crazy. Grrr…. πŸ™‚

Written by welshdog

February 27, 2008 at 9:50 am

Posted in Gripes, The Jinx

Oh my poor toe!!

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From this day forward let no one question the existence of “The Jinx”!!

This story is ridiculous… yet also painful so please bear in mind as you snigger, that I’m still feeling the effects. πŸ™‚

To begin, the best place is usually the beginning. As some of you know both my kids are in the local Girl Guide unit. Since I take them to and fro and am male… I seem to get ‘involved’ a lot with whatever is happening there. Over the past while we’ve been slowly getting the hall upgraded because over the years it had become very run down.

Now some things I can and will do… others I know I’m not exactly au fait with so make no attempt to help fix. Even though I have some knowledge of building maintenance , it’s been a long time since I’ve done any and so have kept out of the construction parts of the upgrade. However *other* fathers have been mobilised to help and one is a plumber.

Part of the upgrade involves stripping out the old kitchen and toilet and replacing them with newer, more hygienic gear. This was done several months ago… well the stripping out part was anyway. Since then *no* work has been done on the hall at all and when the kids returned after their Xmas break… there was neither kitchen *nor* toilet.

Well you can’t have 30 – 60 kids in a hall and not have at least one or ten want to use the loo so something needs to be done quick smart.

We’ve tried contacting the guy who said he’d do the work and got not response at all. So, in desperation, I mobilised a nephew who is both staying with us *and* is a plumber, to help out.

Yesterday we went up to the hall to sort out what we needed and then went to Bunnings the local hardware superstore to select and buy gear ready for for him to install over the weekend.

We arrived at the store, had a look around and found what we needed. Discussed the requirements with the assistant who suggested we’d need to reinforce the floor a little first because it ‘flexes’Β  and that might cause the pan fixing to break. Still, to show commitment to the cause I decided I’d buy the toilet suite anyway and fix the floor as we went.

I walked over to the shelf where the assistant had pointed out the unit we’d selected and lifted it off the shelf to place on the trolley. That’s where it all went wrong.

Someone, somehow had decided it would be a good idea to remove the package sealing *from the bottom* and replace it on the shelf *the right way up*. The obvious result was that when I moved what looked like a sealed box off the shelf… the toilet bowl fell out.

Unfortunately my foot was directly underneath and before I had even worked out what was happening it landed on the nail of the big toe of my right foot… then shattered. Feeling a sharp pain I hopped out of the way and leaned on a shelf.

The pain wasn’t that intense straight away and I wasn’t sure if any damage had been done, but something made me decide to examineΒ  my foot more closely so I quickly pulled off my shoe and sock (which was already getting wet and sticky).

Within seconds the floor was becomingΒ  wet with blood as it streamed out around my toenail.

The staff gathered round and did some basic first aid suggesting I go to the doctor when I got home(!!!). I said thanks but I’m off to the hospital… I could have shattered the bone in my toe! Luckily the nephew and niece were with me so they drove me to the hospital where we arrived around 12:30 or so.

By 6:30 p.m. I’d been seen, been sent for x-ray, had it dressed… and was out the door! πŸ™‚

As it turned out the bone *wasn’t* broken… or at least doesn’t seem to be… but the nail will almost certainly be lost eventually. Whether a new one will grow now the bed has been do badly damaged is anyone’s guess right now.

When I eventually got home I decided I’d had enough excitement for one day and following the doctors advice went of to lie down keeping the toe elevated to try to stop the bleeding since it was still weeping even while they dressed it.

I slept ok all things considered but this morning realised it was *still* bleeding so I wandered downstairs to renew the dressings.

I washed it in a TCP solution and took several photos ‘just in case’ (I’ll add photos to the blog later on) then renewed the dressings and put a sock on to increase the pressure slightly. I’ll leave well alone for now and check it tomorrow.

Of course this wrecks the ‘comeback’ I was making on the diet and exercise regime for at least the next week or so until I can put pressure on the toe again… and until I can get a *shoe* on again… which is an irritation having lost 3 kilos last week. Still, can’t do much about it now, it’s just annoying.

What is even *more* annoying is the lack of concern from Bunnings who not only didn’t make out any noticeable accident report… but have made *no* effort to contact me to establish my condition? Their lack of interest is interesting to say the least.

On the basis of their lack of concern I might just call a solicitor tomorrow to discuss options I might have to make a claim against them for negligence or something.

As I’ve said before about other situations, this sort of thing *could* happen to anyone… but why does it always have to happen to *me*?? The answer… well it’s the jinx of course!!! It’s just something I have to live with. Still, it all goes to make life more ‘interesting’ eh? πŸ˜€

Written by welshdog

February 9, 2008 at 11:29 am

Posted in Health, The Jinx