Nobody Home

It has been four years since I moved into this house and I am still receiving mail for the previous tenants.

I am a good Australian. I write "NATA" on the envelopes, and scribble an arrow in the direction of the return address. Then I put these back in the red post boxes the next time I need something to add some spice to the monotony of living in the same place for four years during the Work From Home era.

...God damn it, 2024 journals are literally becoming a case study into turning forty.

Anyway, another letter arrived today with the same old names. I could kind of see through the thin envelope that this was just crappy promotional material, so I decided to just rip it open and throw it in the bin.

Who was marketing to the old owner occupiers today? The freaking real estate agent who sold their house to us! Of all the people who should know they are NATA, it would be him.

Also he paid the "Card Only" stamp price and he stuck a big magnet inside the envelope as well. Typical Real Estate Agents. Adelaide median house prices went up 11.5% last year and he hasn't made enough millions to pay full price for a letter.


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The woman with the fake tan stepped into my office, sat across from my desk and lit a cigarette.
At least, she would, sometime in the next 20 minutes. Smelling the future has advantages, but precision isn’t one of them.


Clippings

Unlike some of my neighbours, who spend hours tending to their verges in the beating sun, and who water great stretches of the street, I am not a lawn care aficionado. I mow my grass when it gets hard to pick up the dog shit, and about twice a year I edge it to prevent it from growing into the garden.

There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from a manicured lawn. I felt it yesterday after I employed the leaf blower to suck up the scraps of edged grass clippings and put the green bin back down the side of the house. Is this because I am turning 40 this year? This is the edging job that will see me through to that milestone. Am I about to join my neighbours in maintaining their verges. God, I hope not.

Anyway I took this photo with my new phone that will also likely be with me as I enter my forties. It too has 90° edges. Maybe that's going to be a theme.

Prioritising

Along with the Azure AI Search functionality I described back on Monday, my time at work so far this year has been mainly dedicated to using Chat GPT to write python code for me that generates Mule projects based on a dictionary of metadata. That is pretty cool, and I do hope it saves upward of the 30+ days of development I have invested so far in creating it.

As I'm currently only 3 days billable, I used my time on Friday to convert a spreadsheet I have for estimating integration development sizes into a webpage for better reuse. Well, Chat GPT did this for me too, but I told it what to do and I fixed its bugs. This started off as a Flask app but as I wasn't persisting any data it quickly became a standalone HTML + pure JavaScript app which is great because I was afraid I was going to have to work out how to containerise it and integrate with Azure AD to protect it. I still might do that…

You'd think all of this gives me enough coding to do, and yet I still find myself spending hours in the evenings adding features to Fireworks using React and PHP to ideally save me minutes in the future. And yet, this could feasibly add up to a time saving.

This maintenance work distracts me from my actual current project, which is a SvelteKit app using PocketBase as a back end. Svelte had a bit of a learning curve coming from React but I kind of cracked it on Sunday and then didn't get a chance to do anything further because my new phone was shipped and I decided I needed to prioritise going through old photos in Lightroom and creating 19.5:9 aspect ratio backgrounds.

Vanessa went to a hen's day this afternoon, so I finally had a chance to spend some time on the projects of my choosing. I wasn't sure what I should focus on first. So for that reason, I decided today I was going to find out if CLR would do to the stains in our toilet bowl what toilet cleaner and bleach could not. It did an amazing job of removing some of the build up that I think was included in the cost of buying this house. It did take me an hour of scrubbing and rinsing though. I think it was a good thing I got away from the computer.


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Homesick

This month I am celebrating my ten year anniversary of being a home owner.
I know that a lot of people might envy me, but a lot of people also didn't have to spend twenty minutes of their evening today searching for a replacement pre-filter sponge for the pump of their backyard water feature either.
And even that doesn't compare to the actual time and cognitive energy that I have dedicated to my home insurer since the roof of the gym was flooded back in November. (That was not related to the pump or my water feature).
I wish there was some compromise between travelling around the world and staying in cool places every night without worrying about maintenance and rates, and always having a safe place to hang up canvases and for Nash to chill.
My first instinct is a houseboat, but I strongly doubt that would involve less insurance, maintenance and flooding issues...

The Floor

Good thing I drilled a hole in the ceiling when it bloated from rain water, according to the roofer who came tonight. If not, the ceiling could have collapsed.

He then proceeded to demolish the ceiling, sending plaster, sodden insulation and black mold down to the floor.

Half-Arsed Murderer

No matter where I turn in my house I see something half-arsed that I did or built or bought. Examples include: the shower grouting, the hair straightener hook, the cupboard door under the kitchen sink, the cardboard curtain on the window above the stairs, the rug, the rangehood lighting, the front door shelving.

I spend a lot of time at work getting the colours correct and the alignments perfectly straight in my architecture diagrams. I proofread all my Teams messages. I update design documents after go live to include any changes during development. Is this why I don't have the energy to full-arse home improvements? Or is physical work just a lot harder?

Last weekend I tried to get through a few things on the to-do list. I half-arsed a mount for the fan in the gym, and I half-arsed relocating the tomato from a pot to the corner of the garden. Now the tomato is dead. It's tied up like a crucifixion to a trellis, but I know it's dead because I didn't dig a deep enough hole or erect a sturdy enough trellis or keep enough roots attached when I lifted it from its pot. I loved that tomato. It provided nearly three years of amazing service and killing it was no way to thank it. Will this be enough to motivate me to stop half-arsing things around the house? I don't know, but my passionfruit vine can only hope.

Semi-Frameless

As I approach a decade of home ownership I'm sorry to say that I have not improved much when it comes to home improvements. I feel a lot of internal pressure to be better at being a handyman. I watched a lot of football and Big Box Hardware Warehouse advertisements at an impressionable age, before I possibly could have realised what the subconscious messages I might be digesting because of this association were.

These days I can make holes in bricks and fix tap washers with a 90% success rate. But I am not one for renovations. This explains why the shitty, constantly breaking three-panel sliding door on my dilapidated shower with its weak-pressured showerhead that sprays the back of my shoulders each day has been the norm since I moved into my current house in February 2020. There are many skills a handyman should have, and organising other skilled tradesmen to come and do larger jobs in exchange for payment is one I have struggled to develop the most.

If I didn't have to pay tax, I could probably get a whole new bathroom every year. But paying $1500 for a new shower screen and installation of a new showerhead has eluded me for many years. What if the actual fair price is $1400? What if they drill through the tile and hit a pipe and water sprays out once again below my head level? What if I have to talk to someone on the phone? Despite these obstacles, finally, I succeeded in procuring and having delivered a new shower screen and - after a few helpful holes were drilled by someone with the right drill-bit - I installed a new shower head too that I can actually stand under.

Is suffering for 1200+ days with a terrible shower experience the secret for bathing bliss? After I replaced the plumbing tape and had a drip free experience tonight, I think the answer is yes. The glass of the shower walls now reaches close to the ceiling. The door doesn't fall off when you get out. The Methven showerhead seems to magically increase the pressure of my plumbing, the cascading water feeling both firm and silky. It reminds me of Amalfi, standing in a much narrower shower screen getting drenched by an endless waterfall of warm water to wash off the day's hiking. All that was missing is a little, wooden-framed window through which you can see the mountains as well as the buildings across the street.

I think installing that as a feature is gong to be beyond me.

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