Category: Random

Moo quack cheese.

“Annoying bird”: Part 2 of 30 billion

Yesternight that sodding bird climbed up a few rungs on my “HATE LADDER“.

At the top of this ladder is Jedward.

I woke up at about 4:30am for some reason or another last night, and for some reason found it impossible to fall back asleep. I didn’t feel particularly tired, but I knew that that bastard bird was out there (whatever he’s supposed to be) – I couldn’t hear him yet but I knew full well that he’d start his onslaught of squawks and keep me awake for the best part of the early morning if I didn’t fall asleep soon.

Unfortunately, no amount of pulling the blanket over myself to cover my entire body, repositioning the pillows to allow for maximum comfort, or adjusting my posture, would permit my body the winks of sleep that it deserved.

Then…

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

Already I could feel my sanity slipping away. That squawk could shatter souls. And that is basically all that it does, because there is nothing, at least in earshot, to hear it. That obnoxious attention-whore of a bird just does that for no other purpose than to annoy me.

Of course, I can close my window and put my earplugs in but I find it so much more self-satisfying to attempt to tackle the problem at its source, rather than pretending it’s just not happening – if you’re being repeatedly punched in the face, you don’t put on a blindfold and hope that the pain will go away if you just ignore it – no, you kick that bastard right in the knackers.

So, not for the first time, I decided to attempt to confront him. I got out of bed, slipped on my sandals, put on a T-shirt (the wrong way round, of course, but I was in no mood for fussing over details), and armed myself with a small but powerful torchlight.

I wandered into the kitchen towards the patio door and… couldn’t get it open. Bastard thing hardly ever cooperates with me when I need it to.

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

I was as though he was actually mocking me.

So I decided I’d try the other patio door in the laundry room. On my way there I blundered into a cardboard box and nearly fell over, with enough noise that it should’ve woken the whole household but miraculously didn’t. I carried on towards the laundry room, and got the slidy door open in a near-instant.

I trudged through the little passageway leading to the back lawn.

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

My goal with this little expedition wasn’t exactly unreachable – I’d shine the torchlight onto him to give him some indication that he was being sought out. Last time I tried this, I actually got him to shut up. (Until I walked back inside again, of course, which pointed out the futility of the whole exercise – if you’re not a cat or a game hunter, name a battle of wits against a bird that you can feasibly win.)

Just one more of the reasons I want a cat.

Unfortunately, this bird is a master of stealth. He places himself in the tree strategically so that you can’t actually see him even with a set of X-ray binoculars. But he is absolutely definitely in this particular tree.

I shone the torchlight up into its branches, and tried to pinpoint exactly where the obnoxious avian caterwauler was perched. I shook it back and forth to try and a more obvious and intrusive signal. (Maybe I should’ve tried spelling out “SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE” in Morse Code with it.)

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

Sonuvabitch. GET THE HINT YOU STUPID BIRD.

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

He gave a grand total of zero shits that he was being blinded by a sort of miniature floodlight. He must have known I was down there, I could hear him virtually right above my head – but could I see him? Oh, if only.

I searched for something to throw at him. But there’s like nothing in the back garden – only a few small bushes, a bunch of spiky, malnourished grass and a lemon tree. Certainly not a pool, or any kind of rockery full of potential bird-killing stones. I found a couple of large rocks but they looked a bit too heavy to fling the distance required for me to get anywhere near where the bird was in the tree – and they looked like they might cause a substantial bit of property damage if I were to overegg the throw.

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

Wait, what’s that whooshing sound, and why do I suddenly feel like I’m getting wet?

…The friggin’ retic had come on.

Not now, guys - I only thirst for bird blood.

I had picked the one night of the week that those things were scheduled to come on, and now the sprinklers all around the garden started spraying water liberally over the lawn. I only got marginally soaked, but even so my wits were drawing closer to their demise. I had traversed the full length of my tether. The color I was seeing was by now a violent shade of crimson.

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

Of course, I’m not a violent or loud individual, so instead of swearing and potentially waking the whole suburb with my seething rage, I opted to just throw a twig into the tree as hard as I could in disgust at how horribly I’d failed my mission. Completely missed, obviously, and wouldn’t you know, he just kept on going.

I must’ve been out there for about 20 minutes and it was already getting lighter. I considered myself defeated. You win this round, squawky. FOR NOW.

My head hung low, I started walking back towards– ABBLGPBLPH WATER IN MY FACE AAALFLFGPFLPBLH

I hadn’t even noticed the two sprinklers in that little passage leading back to the laundry room. I was effectively trapped outside unless I wanted to get soaking wet.

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

I must have stood there, with my wet, back-to-front T-shirt on, for about 10 minutes waiting for the things to go off, but they didn’t. Eventually I decided that I had two options: (1) stand outside indefinitely and wait for the sprinklers to turn off, all the while hearing smeg-for-brains screaming and hollering behind me, or (2) use my amazing ninja powers to make my way stealthily back into the house and evade getting water on (and in) every bit of my body.

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

“Re-EEK-ek-ECK-ECK-ECK-ECK!”

I chose the second option, after some deliberation – although I had to improvise somewhat due to my severe lack of any sort of physical prowess, let alone “amazing ninja powers”. I hugged the wall of the house as I passed by them (since they were turned the other way towards the flower beds laid parallel to it) and actually stayed fairly dry… until I had to walk over one of them, which got my leg and my sandal thoroughly drenched.

I dried my feet, left my sandals just inside the patio door, locked up, and then went back to bed. No sooner had my head hit the pillow, than…

Oh, now that’s just insulting. Trust him to shut up now. If I had my way, that bird would have little going through his mind right now, other than a large, blunt rock.

As a result of all this I woke up close to 1pm this morning and felt like shit. Predictable. I can see that this battle of wits might go on for some time, as long as that tree he loves so much isn’t felled or something.

(As a matter of fact, the tree directly next to this one was cut down with a chainsaw the day before. It’d be nice to think that it was a kind of “word of warning” to the bird, but even if it was, he didn’t take the hint.)

I could really use someone in the know of Western Australian birds, by the way – that is, someone who could identify species just by approximate textual transcriptions of its “call”. I pose the question to you, fellow bloggers, what might this narcissistic numbskull of a night-terror go by the name of? 🙁

Rescued this little fella a few days ago

Hi.

Saw him squatting on the floor in the corridor and couldn’t quite make out what he was at first, perhaps a peanut or something else that had fallen? Leant down and immediately recognised his distinctly frog-like demeanour.

After a few attempts to get him to climb onto a piece of paper (at which point he started running, er… hopping away), mum got an empty tin can and coaxed him into it, then released him into the garden.

My dad then took this awesome picture.

Oh, hi again.

So, today I learned that my dad is a much better photographer than me, and my mum is the frog whisperer.

Just posting to say screw SOPA

Stop it now, Congress. Stop it now or you get the smack.

(Fun fact: Google Image Search for “sopa” and prepare to get hungry.)

TotalBiscuit goes some way to explaining just how dumb this whole mess of a bill is – way better than I possibly could.

I want you guys to know that even though I’m very doubtful that this bill will actually pass, I am entirely against everything it stands for. I stand to suffer at the hands of it – I myself have had several (pretty much all of them erroneous) copyright claims on my uploaded YouTube material, so I guess technically I’m an internet terrorist and a pirate. Well, poke me in the eye, carve me a peg-leg and call me Hook.

It reminds me of the debacle that is the UK’s libel system. It’s the sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut technique that the bureaucrats love to use on the public in order to rile them up into a frenzy. Except this bill will effectively turn the internet into a warground, the likes of which have not been seen since David Starkey appeared on Newsnight and dared to mention the words “white” and “black” in the same sentence. (Okay, that blew over pretty quickly.)

I only wish I could make some kind of impact. Most of the response to SOPA/PIPA seems to be US-exclusive – letters to Congress and suchlike – i.e. the people who are behind this bill but clearly don’t even know what it will do. It’s definitely good to hear that Google and Microsoft are (apparently) against it.

Screw you, SOPA!

Finally have a new mouse

It’s a lovely little wireless Logitech Anywhere MX and quite frankly craps on my old one from a substantial height.

Awwwww. It's almost cute.

Advantages to using this one over the old one:

  • It’s not plugged full of my dead skin (yet).
  • No wire to trail and snag on absolutely everything.
  • The mousewheel doesn’t scroll up or down of its own accord.
  • The middle button doesn’t click twice or even three times.
  • Click-and-drag operations are no longer a nightmare.
  • Apparently it can be used on any work surface. It even works smoothly on my left arm.
  • It’s smaller, so when I have to place it on my laptop, it doesn’t obscure the entire right-hand side of the keyboard.
  • It’s about the same size as my old laser mouse that came with this laptop. I loved that little thing – shame it died so suddenly.
  • The side buttons are less prone to being accidentally clicked by me.
  • It’s more sensitive. Fiercely so. I had to turn the overall sensitivity down.
  • It’s not a Mac mouse.

The only complaint I have at the moment is that the mousewheel being clicked doesn’t register as the middle button. There’s a separate, smaller button just below the wheel which I have to use instead. This I can get used to, I guess – though I do wonder if there’s a setting I can change. Clicking the mousewheel currently doesn’t do anything, so it must be configurable.

(EDIT: I’ve since discovered that clicking the mousewheel actually toggles its scrolling behavior – in the default mode, the wheel scrolls up/down in “steps”, making the scrolling seem nice and “rigid” – in the other mode, the wheel rotates completely freely, and it feels a bit slippery to use. I’ve also investigated into configuring the whole “middle button” thing, but it I’ve drawn a blank – looks like I’ll just have to get used to clicking that little button to open new tabs in Firefox, instead of clicking the wheel itself.)

Anyway, a happy bunny I am.

It feels good to be right for once (though it was mostly a fluke)

Well, I’d like to think it was my open letter to old featherbrain that finally knocked some sense into him, because he wasn’t in the tree this morning. It wasn’t my letter that removed him from his usual perch, of course – it was probably the fact that even he has the sense to steer clear of trees when there’s an epic lightning storm going on.

Take that, you squawking bastard.

Unfortunate, then, that I was instead awoken by an absolute din in the room adjacent to me when a man came round the house at about 8am to install a washing machine. Which broke within the first cycle anyway.

The workers of fate are clearly out in full force to ensure I stay in a state of perpetual and unnecessary tiredness. And to make sure we have no washing machine.

The storm was awesome to watch, and I tried to get some footage of the lightning flashes, but it’s probably only worth extracting a couple of seconds from each 3-minute video and that’s roughly more effort than I can be bothered to go to. Oddly enough, the lightning storm, like the few previous that we’ve had here, came with absolutely zero rain. Even the bad weather is dry over here. (Speaking of which, I’m currently bathing in a pool of my own rancid sweat. It’s nearly 10 o’clock in the evening, and I have the electric fan on and the window open. Why must it be this hot.)

Anyway…

As you may be aware, we have a nice house now. We’re paying a fairly low sum of money to stay in a rather spacious bungalow – a deal that our previous situation (living in a tiny cabin in a trailer park for almost twice the weekly rate) just couldn’t compare to in any shape or form.

But we’re still not done with house-hunting.

(Well, we weren’t until today, it seems.)

My parents, after seeing the demand for rented properties in some of the other suburbs we’d been to, decided (pretty early on into the process) that they would rent a house to live in, and then buy a second house and rent that one out, with a view to establishing the groundwork for a vast property empire that would reach all across Western Australia.

All the properties we’d seen were quite cheap considering their colossal size and immaculate living conditions (when you compare them to the UK’s equivalent properties, that is really the only way you can describe them) – although since we’d made such a loss on our previous house and sold it for a comparatively paltry sum, it was going to take virtually all the money we owned in the world to buy just one property.

I think it was the moment I heard this fact, that the PROBABLY-A-BAD-IDEA ALARM went off in my head. (Yes, I have one of those. It seems to be an in-built and oddly prophetic feeling of uneasiness that gets triggered every now and then – and so far it’s proven effective.)

Only today did I voice my doubts to my mum, while on another one of our property-viewing outings. We were on a stroll around the property’s suburb’s shopping centre, and I basically said that I didn’t want to throw a spanner in the works or anything, but I was really not keen on blowing everything we had in our UK bank accounts on what was essentially a giant empty box.

There were a number of reasons for this:

  1. We’re currently paying $400 a week to live in a lovely rented property of our own. That’s about in the middle, insofar as how much the rest of the rented properties we’ve seen are going for. We won’t be making much of a financial gain on top of our own rental payments – about $50 a week, or maybe $100 if we were very lucky.
  2. As already mentioned, buying the property would suck up all of our wealth (including everything we have overseas in the UK accounts) and essentially bleed us completely bone-dry, therefore placing more pressure on all of us to go out and get work, or start selling tons of the stuff we owned to avoid bankruptcy.
  3. We’d have to maintain the property between tenancies – that would mean more money out of our pockets. And if our clients made a royal mess of things then that would mean quite a bit of money. And also lots of manual labour.
  4. Surely it would make much more sense to keep what we’ve got and spend that on living the dream out here in Oz. I would keep writing music, Ben would keep up his animating, Dad could put together that album of his (yes Dad, the album), and we could all pitch in on writing that musical we’ve had on hold for about five years, as a family project.
  5. Frankly, I was sick of house-hunting, and I could plainly see that my parents were getting exasperated about the process, too. It confused me because we’d seen a few that had all taken our fancy in different ways and it was virtually impossible to choose. All the while we debated and deliberated as to which one to place an offer for… other people were placing offers.

I pitched this all to my mum and I think she forwarded my query to my dad, who did a quick number crunch in a spreadsheet, and concluded that I might actually have been right. The amount of money we would receive on an annual basis from all of our UK money being deposited in an Australian savings account (earning 5.5% interest a year – compared to a pitiful .5% in the UK) was just in excess of the amount we’d earn from having tenants paying us rent in a second property all the year through. The exchange rate isn’t great at the moment – in fact it seems to be spiralling down, so I think my Dad is going to make it a priority to change our GBP into AUD as soon as possible.

Now, with all of these reasons listed, it probably looks as though my parents didn’t think the whole thing through enough. They did, they really did – at the time of its conception, the idea seemed like the only possible way to avoid total financial disaster. But circumstances which were not in our favour continued to arise as we searched for more and more houses, and it was just getting hard to contend with the stress of the process and the indecision that came along with it.

For the time being, it looks like we’re not going to be buying a second property after all. And I’m very glad we’re not.

I hate cleaning houses.

Dear annoying bird

As in, these bastards. Except a thousand times worse.

I have a simple question for you: How the fuck have you not been shot yet?

Why in the everloving mother of hell is it a necessity for you, at half-past-four in the goddamn morning, for you to make that unbridled racket?

I am not a heavy sleeper. Lots of things wake me up from what appears to be a very deep sleep – my phone going off when it’s low on charge nearly gives me a heart attack (although it is a particularly loud and sharp beep). I can only sleep easy if there’s very little background noise – maybe some wind, or perhap the whirr of an electric fan can help to add some kind of soothing ambience that allows me to get my much-needed beauty sleep. Imagine, then, my chagrin when you turn up in the wee hours of the morning, just outside my window and vociferate your ear-plundering cries on an unyielding, constant basis.

I know you’re doing it just to ensure I don’t get any sleep past that point. I’ve carefully analysed your circumstances and I can honestly say that you have no other excuse.

First off, why four-thirty in the morning? Virtually no other birds are even awake at that time. Who could you possibly be talking to? Is it your job to wake every other bird in the neighbourhood up? I can’t speak for the avian community but I imagine their internal clocks work far better than my own. I require a noise to wake me up in the morning, whether it’s an ordinary alarm, a blistering progressive thrash metal song blasted through the tinny speaker on my iPod/radio clock, or a goddamn chainsaw. Importantly, I need it at a specific time – the hours of 12:00am to 8:00am I should not even be conscious throughout. Birds, I imagine, do not need that kind of strictly-scheduled stimulation to wake themselves up from an otherwise unshiftable stupor because they don’t stay up until two o’clock in the morning playing Doom.

Secondly, you stick to just one noise. Why? What could possibly be so important that you need to iterate it in birdspeak several hundred times a night? “This is my tree”? Well it’s not your tree, to start off with – it’s our neighbours’. You are proclaiming something that’s not your own as your own – and in the human world that is frowned upon and could possibly be followed up by legal proceedings against you. Speaking of which, you’re clearly violating some kind of noise limitation law, which I’m reliably informed is taken quite seriously here in Oz (a shame, then, that it seems to only deal with human neighbours).

Of course, the musical notes in this image are used very loosely.

Thirdly, the moment you make that first call, you set off everyone else in your wretched neighbourhood of avian daylight terrorists doing exactly the same thing. Your first squawk is followed by a pause of about five seconds before one of your kin, perched in a tree about a hundred or so metres away, returns it almost verbatim. You then reiterate the same irritating noise-polluting cry and the process repeats unstoppably. There’s no reason for it. If what I believed about your call translating to something along the lines of “this is my tree” is correct, then all I’m basically hearing between the two or three of your equally annoying brethren is exactly the same goddamn thing every single time.

It is utterly unnecessary – even if we assume that you’re attempting to say “this is my tree”, and, furthermore, even if that phrase immediately grants you complete and total ownership of the tree. You stay in exactly the same tree and call from exactly the same spot on a nightly basis. It’s pretty obvious that your “friends” (this is a very loosely-used term) do the same. You’ve established loudly and clearly that this is your tree, and they’ve done the same. What more needs to be said? You’re staying in your tree, and they’re staying in their trees. I’m pretty sure your method of defense has worked swimmingly. You are in absolutely zero danger of having that precious tree taken away from you.

Fourthly (and this is perhaps the most aggravating aspect of your behaviour), you are completely absent from said tree for the rest of the day, or at least appear to be from the sounds of things (or lack of sounds, more like). For somebird who is unyieldingly committed to the possession of a single tree you sure don’t seem to do a lot of living in it. For God’s sake, you can have it. No one’s going to question it as your own. Not other birds. Especially not other humans. The human world couldn’t give half a shit what you’re up to (and it turns out it’s not much anyway). Just stay perched on the same branch forever, please, because that would at least show some sort of commitment to the tree. Or shut up about it. Please shut up. SHUT UP.

Finally, I know I’m not alone in how annoyed I am by your very existence. The other night, all the while you were blathering on about how you own a big tree in your trademark “keep-James-awake-at-all-expense” fashion, there was a clamour of other birds all around you – crows, magpies, parrots, larks, bee-eaters – it seemed every bird in Western Australia turned up at exactly the same time and place to tell you to shut the fuck up. I think I might have even heard some other bird attacking you in its outrage at how you seemed utterly oblivious to the amount of purely unnecessary noise you were making. How much is it going to take before you leave us in peace.

[Blog readers: imagine if you will, a perfectly serene and quiet neighbourhood. People keep to themselves and make virtually no noise whatsoever during the daylight hours. It’s a peaceful, idyllic estate. However, one particular home-owner feels it a necessity to open up his window at the crack of dawn every day, and bellow through a megaphone “I OWN THIS HOUSE” every ten seconds for hours on end. And he does not relent when told to shut his stupid, ugly mouth.

This is what I’m going through, except instead of a noisy neighbour who can be chastised by the authorities, it’s a freakin’ bird that no one can do anything about. And it’s hell.]

So, Mr. F. A. Bird, please respond in writing (don’t bother with a voicemail) with your answer to my question. It boggles the mind how, in a neighbourhood so full and compact, that you can stay perched at the height of a tree right in the centre of it and not get something fatal (like a javelin or a bus) thrown at you for your abysmal behaviour.

Sincerely,
– James

Happy Bloody New Year!

Here’s to a year that will hopefully suck a little less than the year before it.

And also won’t kill us all in a violent global cataclysm just before Christmas. Screw you, Mayans, with your weird-ass calendar of the future. We stick with normal, non-doomsday-predicting calendars of just 12 months, thank you very much.

Good tidings to you all, from Western Australia. 🙂

 

– James