Hell hath no desire to buy power tools like a woman determined not to be dependent on people who don’t deserve it…
I just bought a drill.
It’s not the exact model I really (really) wanted but it was available and much cheaper and close to where I live. It will do the job. I hope. If it doesn’t, I will get rid of it and move on.
With some of the money I didn’t spend on the posh drill, I bought a set of posh drill bits.
And a set of posh screwdriver bits.
And a posh box of screws.
And an assortment of posh rawl plugs.
And a posh spirit level.
And a posh(ish) bluetooth speaker.
And gave a beggar my last Jammy Dodger* and 51ct.
If I’d given him the change from the posh drill he wouldn’t have to beg for a while. As it was he only got the actual change in my purse. And a biscuit. Now that Brexit has been fully brexited it’ll be harder to keep the supply chain going, so I hope he appreciated it.
Time to head home now.
This might have been a slightly unorthodox retail therapy trip, but I think I’m now ready to change more than the way my house looks…
* English biscuits with jam in. They’re not really that exciting except that they taste of birthday parties and childhood and I love them.
I bought it on a whim when I bought my aquarium. Not necessarily an obvious connection but they were both second hand and being sold by the same family. And I’d already borrowed the van.
It’s not especially good quality. It’s not, according to my brother who actually rows, a bit like real rowing, not even a bit like using a ‘proper’ rowing machine.
I don’t really care. It’s something that fits into my bedroom, something that requires all of my body to work to make it work, something that I don’t have to go anywhere to use. Something I can do by myself, whenever I want to do it.
When I got it a year and a half ago, I started doing a very few strokes per ‘session’, building up until I reached 200, or occasionally 250, depending on how I felt. (people usually row for a set time (or distance) and count the strokes (or time) needed..).
Last year I rowed almost every day until about June. Then I went away and the habit broke. I think it probably ‘helped’ that it was approximately a million degrees here for a lot of the summer and just existing was enough to cause severe sweating.
Between June and November the rowing machine disappeared under several boxes of ‘Things to put on ebay’ and ‘Things to sort through’ and ‘Things I really need to deal with soon’. I probably rowed 5 times.
In late November / early December I claimed my bedroom back. The boxes were sent to the sitting room or the cellar. Some were properly dealt with.
The freed up rowing machine demanded attention. I started with 100 strokes. Half my old normal. I could have carried on but decided to quit while I was still able to choose to (i.e. before I fell off).
The day after was horrible. I ached everywhere. I carried on with my reacquaintance through and got back up to 150 daily strokes by the time I headed home for Christmas.
This year I’m trying to continue with the habit of rowing every day.
Yesterday was my first full day back in Germany. I got in after midnight and didn’t get up until after midday. Then I went out for lunch and to buy new pedals for my bike and to pick up a new notice board.
The evening disappeared in a fuzzy haze of transferring pictures from my phone onto the computer and starting to tackle the backlog of housey things – like going through the pile of post, emptying the fridge and cleaning the sink – while waiting for the computer to do its thing.
I intended to go to bed early.
I could pave a lot of roads with all my intentions (good or otherwise).
As I finally brushed my teeth I realised that I hadn’t rowed yet. It was 4 minutes to midnight. I don’t feel resolutions are unbreakable, but I prefer to at least do the first day before I break them. I don’t know exactly when I started rowing but I certainly didn’t finish until after the end of the day.
I’m still counting it as a successful first day – after all, in England it was still yesterday…
Now to get up and get today’s rowing out of the way, before I try out my new pedals 🙂
Jesska makes a plan and life makes it impossible to see it through.
At the end of August I bought new fish.
They were quite expensive as cheap fish go (nothing like as expensive as posh koi) and quite a luxury considering that I don’t “need” fish for anything. I decided to not spend any money on anything but proper food (no unnecessary/luxury food like icecream) throughout September to make up for it.
That decision lasted until about midday on the 1st when I got a message from the lady I’d agreed to buy water plants from, asking when she could expect me. I made a mental exception for things-agreed-to-before-the-decision and went to pick up the plants.
I did very well for the next couple of days until I remembered that I’d told people that I was going to be flying home soon and hadn’t booked any flights yet. Flights are obviously not food, but going home and seeing my family are necessary things, so I started looking at flights. They were cheaper than expected around my birthday so I booked them too. Two trips planned more than a few days in advance – way to go Jesska! Except you weren’t planning on spending money.. Ho-hum.
Then it became clear that my tyres couldn’t get much balder before the inner tubes started to show, no matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise.
I arranged an appointment at the bike shop.
It turns out you can’t get new tyres without new inner tubes (something about guarantees and warranties) and one of my tubes was thin enough to leak anyway. The brake pads were almost as bald as the tyres and the light bulb in my front light was dead. So far so good. I signed on the dotted line and went to work on the bus.
A couple of hours later, I got a call from the guy responsible for working on my bike. As he’d changed the tyres he’d noticed the chain was worn and the cassette (gears on the back wheel) could do with replacing… Me: yeah, go ahead. (I’d had the feeling the chain was getting old a couple of months ago, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to hear I needed a new one. Also, I’m going cycling in France next month and I need to know my bike will be up to the challenge. My French is very rusty and definitely not up to talking about bike problems.)
The next day I got the train (and a bus) to work.
I picked my bike up on the way to teach maths to one of my favourite 13 year olds.
Look at the shine!
Pedalling felt very odd but I couldn’t do anything about anything without being late for my lesson. I ignored the “crunchy vibrations” and rode on regardless.
The next morning I decided to go to work on the bike – if it was still weird when I got home I’d take it to the shop to be looked at again.
Those were almost famous last words.
There’s a very long bridge on the way to work, the only notable elevation change on a route that is otherwise almost entirely flat. My usual routine is struggle up to the top then change rapidly up through the gears so I can make the most of the decline.
Instead I came to a crunchy, panicky, pedal-free halt just before one of my least favourite junctions. A tiny road joins the main road and for some reason a constant stream of lorries pulls across the tiny crossing, often without giving way to anyone, never mind cyclists on broken bicycles.
But, as I said, I stopped before the junction (lucky I had brand new brakes really ;)). Phew!
I got off to inspect the damage.
The chain, my beautiful, shiny, brand new chain, was broken and had wrapped itself between the gears, the ends hanging on the ground.. 🙁
I’d made it 2/3 of the way to work.
I walked the remaining few miles in the first rain in living memory (or at least in a couple of months) wondering what I’d done wrong (probably nothing) and what I should do differently in the future (also probably nothing).
The bike shop was incredibly kind to me on the phone. I almost definitely wasn’t as polite as I could have been but they were wonderful and arranged to meet me for at lunch and mend my chain. For free. Obviously.
The bicycle repair man arrived exactly when he said he would and mended the chain in a matter of minutes. It would have been seconds if the chain hadn’t squished itself so well between rings and chainguard and bike frame. And if it hadn’t been so freshly greased. Luckily for both of us it wasn’t exactly broken, it had just come undone and he’d brought a replacement link.
The chain shouldn’t be able to come apart while cycling. There’d been a series of unfortunate events leading to the exact and uncommon chain undo-al I’d experienced. Neither he nor my brother have ever had a chain undo itself while cycling and they cycle most out of the people I know. I Take that to mean the chance of it breaking/coming undone again is pretty slim – a very good thing because I don’t want it to happen again.
Quick release chain joint – a brilliant idea until it isn’t.
After that he went for a test ride, muttered, adjusted various limit screws and tested and checked and cycled and hmmed and arrred and said that I should probably change the chain rings (gears near the pedals) too.
He’d left them because they weren’t terribly worn, but he thought there must be a few damaged teeth on each ring, enough to make changing gear difficult with a new (unstretched) chain.
The bike is going back to the shop next week. Until then, I’ll be cycling slowly and carefully and walking across crossroads!
Okay, somehow it’s taken me a while to add pictures and press publish.
The bike went in yesterday morning and I’m on the way to pick it up now…
*Fingers crossed the crunching’s gone and the gears do what they’re told*
(Oh yeah, the month is halfway over and I could have already, or at least by the time I’ve paid for the new chain rings, bought my new fish nearly ten times over…. I do love plans..)
I recently gave away the first piece of furniture I ever properly owned. A lady came early in the morning to pick it up for her cats…
I bought the papasan chair at a carboot sale in autumn 2006.
The town held a car boot sale once a year and pretty much everyone who was anyone went. Either to buy or to sell. The posters were put up well in advance and on the day the entire middle of the town was covered/filled with people – I didn’t know the town was big enough for the turn out.
So anyway. There I was. Newly arrived in a new town with a new room in my first shared flat. It was a fantastic room but although it was furnished, I had a shortage of seating. My housemates were busy doing other things so I set off by myself.
One of the first things I saw when I reached the car boot sale was a papasan chair. I’ve always loved those chairs so when I saw one I couldn’t leave it behind. On the other hand I didn’t want to carry it round the whole town so I paid for it and asked the seller to look after it until I came back to pick it up.
As I made my way round the market I also bought a printer, a backpack, a heavy frying pan and a few other things. Fully laden, I set off for home..
Then I remembered the chair.
A sensible person would probably have carried the first lot of stuff home and come back for the chair. I am not that person. Instead I packed the backpack as full as I could, put the base on the inside of the chair, persuaded the printer box into the base and piled everything else into the spaces.
Once everything was stowed away, I hoisted it onto my head and did my best impression of an African water carrier… except I am not cut out to carry things on my head without holding onto them so my best impression was terrible (and wobbly, despite holding on).
I made it home without dropping anything which is a very good thing since I wouldn’t have been able to gather it back up without major effort. As it was I unpacked on the drive and it took multiple trips up and down the stairs to bring everything into my room.
Phew! I could finally lie back in my new chair and relax :).
Only for a few minutes tho – I had lots of other new things to admire and unpack and wash and put away. (It was lucky I didn’t put the unpacking off until later – the printer turned out to be missing all the necessary cables and drivers and I think the block the ink cartridges go in, although I’d been promised it was all there so I lugged it back into town and the guy refunded my money 🙂 )
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. The chair has accompanied me for 12 years and 5 moves. It was looking somewhat worse for wear. The base was mostly held together with cable ties and the seat part was missing pieces of the spiral. Sitting in it felt like a brave undertaking, being as how it creaked and groaned and sagged when you lowered yourself into it. Getting out again was even trickier.
When I found a newer version in the small ads I pounced. It was on the other side of Berlin and I am still car-less, but that never stopped me before so I organised a pickup date. It was being offered without a cushion, but mine was still ok so that wasn’t a problem, and as far as transport went, was more of an advantage than anything else; the chairs are unwieldy things at the best of times and the cushions are heavy.
The former owner only lived a mile or so away from the station and the weather was good, I didn’t see a problem. When she found out I was going to be carrying it on the train she was amazed (and amazing) and tied the base to the chair for me. (She had a ball of string strategically placed close to her front door. I might have to adopt this practice).
Having the pieces tied together makes carrying them much easier.
I set off towards home.
Because I am still not the sensible person I wasn’t before, and because I hate wasting travelling time, I had made another appointment to pick up some picture boards conveniently being given away en route.
Mostly en route anyway. I suppose one has to count getting off the train for a 25 minute round trip with a large unwieldy chair as a slight detour.
The people sitting outside the pubs and cafés on the way between the train station and the picture board house were much amused by me walking past them twice.
Carrying 2 picture boards as well as the chair proved a little bit more complicated. Luckily I had lots of time to get home.*
There’s no way I have space for a broken chair I’m not using – the old one had to go. I couldn’t bring myself to dismantle it and throw it away, but I also couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to pay for it. I put it on eBay and hoped for the best.
Within a few minutes I had the first interested message. A couple of hours after that the second. In the end I gave it to the third person who wrote a week later after the other two hadn’t arranged a concrete pick up date.
When she arrived to take it away I pointed out all the places it was broken and said she should be careful sitting in it. Turns out I didn’t need to worry – she’s lining it with multiple blankets and letting her cats sleep in it. Good to know it’s got lots of life in it yet 🙂 makes getting rid of it that much easier..
* (..she says, lying through her teeth. I was running late and had to get home, showered and dressed up for a concert in very few hours).
Once upon a time, when I lived by myself, I bought myself all manner of things and used them as required.
Then I moved in with xDB and stopped needing most of my things. I sold some and gave lots away. The rest were put in the garage or the cellar or hiddenstowed away in boxes.
Recently I moved out and back into a flat of my own. I began buying or being given things to replace what I was missing. I assumed that the things I already had would continue to work as expected.
Nothing is ever as one assumes. This is probably why assumption is something to avoid.
I went out to pick up a stereo system after work this evening.
My old one wasn’t as good as xDB’s and so had been rehoused at work when the ancient radio there decided it had had a good life and wanted to go to wherever good radios go when they die.
When I moved, I no longer had any way of playing music besides my alarm clock, my phone and my laptop. None of the three have spectacular speakers, especially the alarm clock. I’m not especially fussy about these things, but I’m quite happy if I can recognise who’s supposed to be singing or what song is playing.. I suppose I could theoretically take my old stereo back from work but I can’t imagine my colleague working without a radio, so I decided to leave it there and procure a newer one for my flat. Almost 6 months later I still haven’t. It hasn’t fought to the top of the priority list.
While I was browsing the free section of the small ads the other day, I found someone getting rid of a ‘micro stereo system in top working order’. I wrote to say I wanted to pick it up. The seller said it wasn’t free after all and named his price. I said he shouldn’t have put it in the free section if he actually wanted to sell it, but named my maximum and we agreed on a time and place to meet across town.
I decided, possibly foolishly after Wednesday’s adventure, to take my bike with me to save having to make a detour via work to pick it up afterwards.
I got the two trains with no problems. I found lifts and even found somewhere to change my large(ish) banknotes into smaller ones. I reached the designated meeting point at the designated time with the correct money and was feeling very proud of myself.
Even picking up the stereo was no problem. I didn’t want to leave my bike outside, so when the seller suggested he brought it out to save time I readily agreed
The man had packed it very neatly into two carrier bags. It was bigger than expected, and heavier, but I thought that must be a good sign.
One of the carrier bags was plastic, one paper. I’m probably a bit overly cautious but it’s January and the current weather forecast doesn’t make for overly joyful reading. I think potential rain and paper bags are a bad combination (though not as bad as actual rain and paper bags) so I carefully repacked my new speakers into my panier. The subwoofer in its plastic bag hung on my handlebar. It was much too heavy to balance while cycling so I pushed the bike.
The journey back was less simple. There’s a very large station in Berlin where a lot of S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains travel on different levels. It’s a station I usually quite like. I’ve been there a lot and changed trains there many times in many constellations….as a footpassenger. As a passenger with a heavily laden bicycle, stations turn into something quite different. I rode at least 4 lifts and spent a long time trying to find out where each of them were hidden. What takes me a maximum of 5 minutes by foot, took me at least 15 with the bike.
When I could finally see the platform my train was leaving from, but not the lift I needed to get to it, I gave up on the lifts altogether and used the stairs. My bike is fantastic, but it is not a light thing. There is no way I can carry it downstairs onehandedly, so I kept the front wheel in the air and let the back wheel bounce slowly on each step.
Approximately halfway down there was a sudden, strange noise. I looked behind me and saw the panier hanging from one of its clips. I was on the middle of a relatively well used staircase, a I had a subwoofer under one arm, the other hand on the crossbar with my elbow and wrist keeping the handle bars halfway steady. I couldn’t stop, couldn’t adjust my grip of anything, couldn’t even use my knees to push the panier back up to level because it was on the other side of my bike.
The only way out was down. I carried on going.
The second and final clip flew off before we reached the platform. The panier holding the newish stereo fell down and rolled the last few steps. It seems plastic clips aren’t up to being ignored for several years and then bounced.
I walked home with one bag on each side of my handle bars.
And the stereo didn’t even work when I got it home.
Before, I just wanted clearer music, now I also need new paniers.
I cycled to work this morning. It rained half the way there. The first half. Only the first half I suppose. I wasn’t expecting it to stop but it did.
After work, I had a plan to get a couple of trains to a distant part of town to try on a ski-helmet and pick up a pair of skis. After that I was going to get a train back and go and pick up the mattress.
I originally planned to leave my bike at work and swap it for the skis and possibly the helmet before cycling home. When I looked at the map and the local transport app at lunchtime, I discovered that I wouldn’t be home in time for the mattress if I relied on the buses to take me from A to B and B to C. I decided to take my bike and cycle from the station to the helmet, then to the skis and push the bike to the next station where a direct train would bring me to within 10 minutes of my flat.
Did anyone else notice the parts where I said plan and claimed it as my own?
Did all the alarm bells start ringing?
Did you feel the words “uh-oh” forming, ready to be released at a moment’s notice?
Did you see the chaos building up in the distance like the storm currently waiting to attack Berlin?
No? I didn’t either. I ran straight into it headlong.
I didn’t expect anything. But it expected me. I must be good company, or at least a regular visitor…
We had a fire alarm at work after lunch and before I could write my plan down.
Afterwards, I tried to get my work done so I could leave on time.
I almost did, too.
It wasn’t raining when I left my workshop so I packed my waterproof overskirt away in my panier.
It started raining just as I got outside the building. I don’t like being wet if it’s a cold kind of wet, and I especially dislike cycling in wet jeans, so I stopped and unpacked it.
I wasn’t expecting to spend time getting dressed once I’d left.
I didn’t expect the lift to be full when I got to the station so that I needed to wait for it to come up a second time.
I didn’t expect to miss the first train on my list of 3.
I didn’t expect the lifts at the second station to only go up when the train I needed to catch was a floor lower than the one I started on.
I didn’t expect the second lift, a lift I crossed a road especially to reach, to bring me back to the middle floor.
I didn’t remember my bike being so heavy when I decided to carry it down and up the next stairs I encountered.
I wasn’t aware that one station name in Berlin can actually mean 3 separate stations for the 3 types of train, and that they can be several hundred metres away from each other.
I didn’t appreciate having to visit each one of them to realise it.
I didn’t remember that the third train I wanted to catch only left once an hour.
I really didn’t like having to retrace my steps to get an alternative train from a station I’d already fought my way out of.
I didn’t check the map closely enough to know that the street I was looking for, started with one name and ended with a different one.
I didn’t realise that I cycled right past it without noticing.
I wasn’t paying enough attention as I started enjoying cycling along a straight cycle path without rain.
I wasn’t ready for the dark when the street lights stopped.
I wasn’t expecting my bike’s front light to be weaker than the wind-up torch I took on a night walk in 6th form.
I didn’t want to stop on the side of a busy but dark road with nothing but the dim glow of a fading dynamo to show where I was in order to check the map again.
I trusted Google when it recommended an alternative route from my current position when I finally felt safe enough to check.
I didn’t know, when I set out down the “dead end – pedestrian access only” road, that it would lead me into the middle of a very muddy field.
I didn’t know you could switch between the directions mode and the map mode without retyping the street name.
I didn’t know, once I was in a particularly boggy patch of field, whether it would be quicker to turn round and go back, or to carry on squelching.
I couldn’t imagine that I could be so scared of things that go bump (or knatterknatterknatter) in the dark.
I wasn’t expecting the torch on my phone to be so good.
I didn’t know in advance that I would rather cycle unnecessarily far by road, just to avoid a couple of hundred metres along a dark path through a woods
I didn’t know, when I set out from work, that I would arrive at the helmet man’s house later with the bicycle than I would have done without it.
I didn’t know, from the picture and the description, that the helmet would be just a smidgen too small.
I also didn’t know from the brief phone calls we’d had, that the seller would be so gracious about letting me traipse mud all through his immaculate house. “Relax! It’s all tiled and washable – it gets muddy every time I come in from working in the garden :)”
I didn’t know it would take me more than twice the time Google suggested to cycle across to the ski lady’s house.
I didn’t know that the skis would be so sharp that they’d take the paint off my handlebars when I rested them there.
I didn’t know that I would have such a problem steering when I got the skis into a stable position.
I couldn’t guess that the wind would pick up and join the pouring rain to slow down my attempts to get to the station while pushing my bike and balancing a pair of skis.
I didn’t expect to have to ask someone how to get into the train station.
I didn’t count on missing the last direct train of the evening and having to take three other indirect trains instead.
I didn’t think my phone battery would go down so fast, but I also didn’t think the last few percent would last all the way home.
I wasn’t expecting anyone to talk to me on the train, and when they did, I wasn’t expecting them to say, “don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve got a wife and a kid waiting for me” as we got out at the same station.
I didn’t expect to get home more than 7 hours and 22km after leaving work, 3 hours later than I wanted to pick up the mattress.
Despite everything, I still feel it was a successful day..
One on which I feel I definitely earned my sleep.
Talking of sleep…I wasn’t planning on sleeping on the floor again tonight, but then, life always seems to have more in store for me than I could ever imagine.
(And I wasn’t expecting the neighbour to phone and apologize, but he did – assuming the mattress man is understanding enough not to sell the mattress to someone else tomorrow, we’re all set to pick it up in the evening 🙂 – wheee!)
I’ve mostly slept on an airbed since moving into my flat. The first one died, despite the stars, and I replaced it with a second of the same sort. I love airbeds, especially the deep ones, but since winter arrived it’d started to get damp underneath and I really really don’t want the floor to go mouldy. Time for a proper bed.
Before Christmas I saw a nearly new mattress advertised in the small ads by someone who was planning on moving soon. My car went on strike on the day I wanted to pick it up but the seller said he’d keep it for me.
I also saw a bed for sale (different seller) and asked if I could collect it after Christmas. The lady said she wouldn’t reserve it for me but she’d let me know if it was still there in the new year.
It turns out that the bed was still available when I got back from England and now it’s mine!
I’m still car-less, so yesterday I walked the mile or so each way to the bed-lady and back multiple times, carrying pieces of bed.
The slats were awkward but not excessively heavy.
The sides and middle bar were by contrast enough to make me stop every few minutes to get my breath back. Luckily they were all taped together. Even more luckily, I didn’t knock anyone out with it on the way home, though I did come quite close a couple of times when I turned round…
One of my new neighbours (lives in the same house, don’t really know him all that well though) came home as I’d manouvered the beast up the stairs to my landing. I leant against the door holding the beast upright and trying to catch my breath and gather enough energy to find my key and open the door without knocking it over.
He laughed, “how come you sound so close to death, just from a couple of flights of stairs?” I nodded at the metal bundle, “The stairs would’ve probably been ok if I hadn’t carried it a mile first…” He picked it up and put it down again pretty quickly.. “must be close to 30kg!” he said. I nodded. “Yeah, could be. Certainly unwieldy”.
We talked for a while about cars and furniture and the state of his work project, (but not about cabbages or kings) and when the landing light starting getting annoying (it turns itself off after a minute or two) I opened my front door, took the beast into the sitting room, and came back out to the landing, leaving my hall light on. We chatted for another couple of minutes before he headed upstairs and I closed and started re-locking my door.
He stopped on the stairs and turned round, “Going back out again?!”
“Na klar, got to get the next bits of the bed”
“Bits? As in more than one? How many are there?”
“Two. The bedsteads”
“Wait a minute, you can’t carry them both at once and it’s already dark. I’ll come with you, it can be my good deed for the day”.
So that saved me a trip.
“If you need anything else carrying, let me know..” *
“Rolled up mattress? Tomorrow evening? By car?”
“Yup – can do”
“Brilliant. Until tomorrow then”
No one should say things as open-ended as this to me without really meaning it. I am liable to take the 63359 inches they weren’t offering as well as the one they were.. 😉
Today (an extra day off work – whee!!) I packed up the air bed and assembled my new bed, washing all the pieces as I went.
It is a lot bigger than it looked in the pictures, much taller than my windowsill, and it took me a while to figure out where to put it so that it didn’t waste too much space or look too much like a cage. It meant rearranging almost all the other furniture in the room, but I think it’s the best place for it, even if I’m not happy with the placement of the cupboards yet.
The neighbour who promised to pick up the mattress with me didn’t. He wasn’t at home when I knocked and I don’t have his number. I will try asking again tomorrow, otherwise I will have to find another willing victim.
Looks like I won’t be sleeping in my new bed tonight after all.
I don’t often drink coffee, but for long distance driving I find it good to have a cup or two with me, just in case. In my shopping spree, I bought 3 pots of iced coffee and put them in the fridge to keep cold.
In the rush to get out of the house I left my coffee behind. (Out of sight and all that)
What costs 50ct in a supermarket costs 3€ at a motorway service station.. (!!!)
I figured getting there in one piece was worth it… Just about! 😉
Once upon a time, I soldered something together in school. At some point between then and now I made some stained glass windows and some small Tiffany style pieces. That kind of involves soldering, but with a huge soldering iron and a reel of lead/tin you could probably knock someone out with.
Since then, my life has been almost entirely solder-free, with any necessary soldering being done by other people.
Turns out becoming the owner of a raspberry pi involves not only learning how to speak ‘programming’ (;)), but also how to melt tiny things together.
My colleague offered to lend me a soldering iron which was very kind of him, but I decided, on reflection, that maybe soldering =/= soldering. Plumbing and pi-ing seem to be on different ends of a scale, or at least far enough apart to need to step back a bit to see both at the same time.
I went to look at new ones in DIY shops, but even the ones marked ‘suitable for electronics’ seemed huge compared to the pins I needed to connect.
In the end, my brother bought me one online.
This one is a bit longer and fatter than a biro, is fairly lightweight and has a set of changeable tips, almost, but not quite, as tiny as the pins that need soldering!
A couple of days’ mental build up, and a couple of hours later, I am proud (ish) to present (dum-dum-dah!) the results of my first electronic soldering:
It’s not a work of art, and it won’t win any prizes, but the pins are all attached to the board, and are recognisably separate from each other and not all melted together. I consider that a success..
Having let it all cool down, I inspected my labours… It seems I melted the plastic casing enough to push a few of the pins through towards the other side :(.
This morning I bought 10 chocolate catfish. They are small and dark brown and incredibly cute.
The saleslady at the fish market said they’d grow to approximately 4-5cm long – perfect for my tank. I had no signal in the salesroom, so I couldn’t check anything online. I bought the fish, based purely on sight and the assurance of the saleslady.
When I reached civilization (;)) I googled them. Apparently there’s no such thing. I tried various other searches and decided they must be a dark brown version of Corydoras Aeneus. They grow to 8cm long. That’s almost double what I was expecting. I’m awful at playing catch (to get them out of an aquarium), especially when there’s lots of plants to hide in, so I aim not to have to try. That means I have to decide where they’re going in advance and that is dangerously close to planning.
I don’t plan.
After a long time of faffing about, googling and trying to make a decision, I took the fish to xDB’s, and put them into his tank with my other babies. He’s doing a great job of looking after them for me.
After I got home, fishless, I found a website selling a breed of dark brown catfish which supposedly reach an adult length of 5-6cm.
Maybe the saleslady is right after all. Maybe I can pick my fish up in a couple of months and know they’ll be ok to live with my other fish.
But what if they really will get that big, what if she just wanted to sell them? I guess it worked – I bought them…
I’m not sure whether I lack trust or have too much.
I went out for coffee with a guy from school and his wife today. I’d borrowed some books for him and he was returning them now that school’s over. It was too cold to stand outside the library for long so we decided to find a café. Most cafés don’t appreciate cards, so I went to find an atm while they went to find a suitable café. By the time I joined them, they’d already chosen a table and ordered.
Turns out you can’t go up to the till and add to an existing order, no, that would be too simple. Instead you have to go through a rigmarole involving going to the cake counter to choose a cake, getting a piece of paper with a number instead of a piece of actual cake, going back to the table, giving the paper to the waitress when she comes to take your drink-order, then waiting for her to bring whatever you ordered. You can’t go to the waitress, you can’t get your own drink, you can’t carry your own cake.
Life is complicated. I knew that. I also know that I don’t go out very much ans haven’t had much practice at placing orders in posh cafés. I didn’t know how complicated simple things like ordering cake could be. I also didn’t realise that it’s normal for a slice of cake and a cup of hot chocolate to set you back more than 10€.
In the end my friend from school paid for all of us to say thanks for the books. With the money I didn’t spend in the café, I bought approximately 3 months worth of fish food and 18 plants for my house and balcony, and still got change back. That seems to be a much better way to spend money, even though I really enjoyed meeting up with them and appreciated having a place to sit out of the cold.
There was a festival in my town today. A whole street full of small market stalls in celebration of local root vegetables (!!). The butcher sold special sausages and other people sold various other things. I had a hot one when I arrived, and planned to buy a packet of raw sausages to take home, once I’d been round the rest of the market stalls. By the time I got back to the butcher’s stall, I was out of money. When I asked whether they’d continue selling them during the next week the saleslady said they’d freeze and sell whatever was left after the market, but wouldn’t be making any more until next year. Then she asked where I lived. I told her and she wrote a number on the back of a business card and handed it to me. The butcher is apparently based a couple of towns away, but the saleslady’s mother lives on my street. She’ll leave a packet here when she packs up, and I should phone her to arrange a collection time…