Cornteeth; or, “why does the government not know who I am?”

I can’t submit my income tax return at the moment. Apparently all of the “shared secret” information I have to offer doesn’t match up to the information recorded with the ATO and since I have no previous valid notice of assessment, my identity cannot be verified.

I suppose I’ll just have to call them and hope for the best. Thankfully, Marika’s return was submitted successfully online. One less headache.

The AEC sent me a letter stating that my details had been updated for state elections. Sadly, I can’t get any response from their online system as to whether-or-not I’m currently enrolled for federal elections. I could fill out their paper form and get everything updated, or perhaps I should just ring them, too. Convoluted systems.

Last Monday I bought 8 ears of corn. Now it’s Sunday and there are 4 left, apart from what’s currently stuck between my teeth. I’ve always liked it but I’ve never really bothered preparing and eating it before. Kind of like spinach and sweet potato. Seeing as how it’s a reasonable trade off between taste, ease of use and price, it could become a regular. Now I just need to learn how to cook.

Work is continuing. I’m still managing. I wish I had more interesting things to say, but it’s just work. I don’t think I really want to go into particulars in an online format, anyway.

Our flat is still chilly in the mornings, as is the rest of the country. I can’t wait for the weather to pick up… if it only picks up 5 degrees. Mid 20s and up is too much. I’m not looking forward to receiving our electricity bill. I guess it won’t be too bad as we were only here for 1 month of the quarter. Whatever.

Dad can walk now. He’s hopping around pretty well. The folks came around this afternoon to see our abode. All good. All standard.

Life’s flowing along rapidly for me these days. One minute I’ll be moaning to myself about how depressing Sunday afternoons are, then I’ll be amazed that it’s already 2pm on a Friday. I guess the daily grind hasn’t chewed me up completely. Yet.

Winter winds bring a little change

Too fucking cold of late. Not impressed. Even if it’s sunny the wind ruins everything. Blustering.

In a cynical attempt to chase better weather, Marika and I have obtained tickets to fly to Estonia in September, returning in October. 4 weeks of paid leave. Yee-haw.

That paid leave will taste even sweeter now, as I’ve become the helpdesk team leader. Apparently it’s not a position worthy of the title “manager”. I think it has something to do with pay grades. Anyway, the role operates like a manager: I mainly do admin and all the real work is done by the team. I guess I’ve got a real knack for getting myself into situations like this. Look at the hostel.

So, no more little 2-seater car for me. I’m using dad’s at the moment as he is still unable to drive. He is, however, hopping around and building up the amount of weight he takes on his bad ankle. Each week he applies a little more pressure. It seems to be coming along rather well. He’s even lost a considerable amount weight which, aside from the obvious health benefit, makes it easier for him to move on his feet.

I don’t know what car I’ll end up getting. Marika wants a Volvo. I don’t really care as long as it isn’t stupid. Not stupid and easy to park. That’s the criteria, really.

I think I’m coming down with a cold. I’ve been feeling mildly achy and drowsy since Sunday morning… after being up until 3am the night before playing video games with Matt. I’m splitting the display onto our new TV (which looks sexy) so it’s easy to be a spectator. We’ve picked up a new fridge, too. eBay was too annoying. Thank you, Bing Lee delivery service!

So, yes, money has been flowing out faster than it’s been dripping in lately. Marika also picked up a new laptop recently, seeing as her old one was getting run down. Time to pay everything off and start trying to save again.

Hopefully our tax returns give us something to smile about. We still need to fill ours in. I expect the return should be fairly generous for the two of us. Generous enough to pay for our plane tickets. We’ll see. I’ve considered getting a tax accountant to do it for us but we don’t have any deductions except for private health care, but I think claiming that is a simple procedure. It probably won’t be, knowing my luck.

Marika’s birthday is coming up. I still need to go shopping! It’s hard to work out what to buy for the girl who has everything. Ha. Socks and underwear? No. Perhaps rum? No. I’ll have to walk around and hope for some inspiration.

I feel like I’m about to fall asleep sitting down. At least that might numb the dull RSI that I’m sensing coming up my forearms.

Bye.

I’m not sure what inspired me to do this

But here I am. Typing.

It’s pissing down rain today. I could probably swim home. Home to our new flat in Artarmon. Yes, that’s right. We finally moved out. I’m living with Marika and Chandler (no relation to LeBlanc). It took 5 weekends stretched out over about 2 and 1/2 months but we finally succeeded with an application. We spent most of the past weekend moving in our furniture and permanently damaging my back in the process.

Another application that succeeded was Marika’s visa. We finally submitted it just before the ANZAC weekend. About one week after the holiday and $2700 later I noticed a rather battered and discreet envelope beside the front door. This was the letter that the immigration department had sent us to notify Marika that she’d received her residency. Now she can work unhindered and travel in and out of the country as she pleases.

Now that it’s sorted we’re planning a return trip to Eesti later this year. Details still to come.

Unfortunately only 2 of our 3 recent applications have been successful. I bombed out in the last stage of my Air Traffic Control recruitment process. I realised at the time that I’d made a few silly blunders on the day and probably did a lot better back in stage 1. I didn’t feel out of my depth but rather a little off my game. Either way, I didn’t perform well enough and received an email about 2 weeks later letting me know as such. Disappointing and frustrating, but there’s not much that can be done about that.

My current employment is going along reasonably well. I now have an offsider and we have a third engineer working in Queensland. There’s beginning to be enough work involved for it to grow into its own division but it’s not quite the time.

I actually spent a month as the helpdesk team leader. An interesting experience, although my role was mainly as a caretaker rather than innovator. All disasters were handled pretty well and I heard some rumours that everyone was pleased with my work. That’s good enough for me. Nothing fell apart, so I must have done ok. I’m back on the road again now though and definitely enjoy that flexibility.

Poker is still alright. I’m playing more for entertainment these days and am gradually building up my bankroll. I’m seriously considering cashing in 80% of it as there’s beginning to be a lot of talk about the Australian government clamping down on online gambling sites, a la what happened in the USA last month. The whole situation is ridiculous but I won’t go into it here. If they’re going to enforce restrictions here then I’d best get the money out quickly.

Dad broke his ankle a few weeks ago. He’s been wheelchair-bound and/or bed-ridden ever since. Hopefully he’ll be discharged (for the second time) at the end of this week. He slipped in the mud one morning and broke it in two places. He had a plate inserted and later removed after it became infected. We had ramps installed at the house and he’s relocated his surgery by amalgamating it with another practice. It’s forced my parents to consider selling up their real estate and expediting their retirement. I suppose sometimes people need a catalyst.

My new car is nice. Nice and small. With 2 seats. It’s very useful when there are 3 of us sharing a flat. That’s all I can think of for now.

Happy 11

Greetings, fans. I hope your summer/winter has been temperate. Mine has been hot and sweaty, like a towel fight in a sauna. Playing outdoor table tennis doesn’t help.

Since we last conversed I am garnishing an extra $9/week after passing yet another certification. I’m also getting a car upgrade, to a small car with 2 seats and about 100km on its odometer. I hear it even has good air conditioning. I’m thankful.

Christmas and NYE were fairly tranquil. Small lunch with a roast (I don’t like roasts) on the 25th, bucketloads of sweat with a few mixed drinks and a midnight swim on the 31st. Marika’s first day body surfing at Manly beach on the 1st. She loved it so much she’s now determined to hit the waves every day. I’m sure she would if we didn’t live so far inland in suburbia. Sydney’s beaches have shithouse public transport options to boot, so driving is the only decent option if you don’t already live nearby. Bummer.

Big Day Out is coming soon. I’ve been very lazy with my already lax exercise regime. I’m using the festival as a motivator to start doing some training again. I have no natural chest. It’s bizarre. If I don’t target it I just end up with a belly and little nipples poking out above it. Methinks that last sentence is going to generate a few hits from Google.

Today we’re meant to be visiting the Terracotta Warriors, since they’re on tour. It’s not a band. You know, those statues from China. I’m actually looking forward to it. I need a bit of culturing up. Somehow, cornflakes over the Daily Telegraph each morning doesn’t quite enhance life with regards to inspiration/perspective/reflection/education. I’m not sure if a few sculptures will either, but it can’t hurt.

If anyone’s concerned, my pokering has been going very well these last few months. I’ve worked on my game a lot and grinded my bankroll to 3x the size that it was. I’ve taken a bit of a mental break from it this last week or so, mainly due to being distracted by the shitloads of video games I bought over the Steam Christmas sales. A few treats for myself, indeed.

Marika’s visa application is underway but not yet submitted. We’ve begun the paper trail. I’m not really worried about the application itself, I’m more worried about my procrastination preventing its quick completion. We’ve made up a checklist and thankfully it’s not a very long one, so I think we’ll manage.

I don’t know why I keep putting off updates in this thing. I blame the fact that I have to actually visit my site to login and post. I tried migrating to Posterous but the import function kept timing out and their support staff didn’t respond to any of my emails. Well, fuck them. For now.

I get writer’s block just thinking of these titles

Prolonged journal-writing absences are my forte. If only I could be as consistent with other things in life.

I haven’t skipped for a while. I have been attempting to do some semi-regular weekly weights training but recently I haven’t been able to motivate myself to get out of bed and actually exercise. I still hate mornings. I do make the effort on weekends, when I feel I have more time.

Now that I’m back into the full-swing of the regular working week I’ve begun living for and looking forward to the weekend again. As always, it’s never enough time. What little of it I’ve had has been filled with either running around to things like family reunions or being housed in to avoid the horrible weather. I know it’s fascinating discussing the weather, but it has been rather insolent.

Work’s been ok. I’m pretty settled into my job now. So much so that I’m looking to learn a bit more in other areas. I sat an exam for an HP certification earlier this week and managed to grind out a pass. It wasn’t until after I’d received my results back that I discovered I’d been reading the wrong preparation material. That’s why all the reading I’d done for the previous week seemed so irrelevant in the exam. Anyway, I passed and that’s all that matters. I now make an extra $9 per week. Cop that.

The plan, now, is to do more and more of them. Not only do I get a payrise for it but it makes me feel smarter and more important. It’s also a good backup in case I don’t get past the future rounds of my other, unrelated application. I discovered I passed the first testing stage long after I’d already given up on it, assuming I’d flunked out. I’d already gone through the emotions of anger and disappointment, finally coming around to accepting my fate as a failure only to find out everything was ok and that I would have to wait another few months for the second stage. This is going to be interesting.

I would like to write more but my backside is losing blood and I need to stand up. Stay tuned.

Should I?

Hello.

I’m in Australia. We’re in Australia. After just 4 years and a month, I’m home again. Nothing much has changed except that my old friends live even further away from me now and we have a new mad cat.

The flights were ok but waiting in airports was horrible. Leaving Estonia was sad but getting out was easy, after all that stressing. 55 hours of transit was all it took until my parents picked us up. Anna-Liisa survived her journey by tagging along with us. Somehow she bought the exact same tickets we did but for half the price, 2 months later. I’m never booking early again.

The weather when we arrived was miserable and cold. Marika didn’t appreciate the contrast to Estonia’s currently sweltering summer. Mum and dad picked us up from the airport and then began the reaquaintance-with-everyone-and-everything process for the next week or so. We saw cousins and friends, I had my haircut by a professional, I applied for a job and got it almost by accident.

Originally I was meant to work on a helpdesk for this company, although I wasn’t really shown a lot of stuff and spent most of my time feeling awkward and confused because I had no work to do but no one seemed to mind nor make a big effort to direct me. Not long after that, though, I was assigned to do on-site warranty repairs.

So, I get a ute with a petrol charge card and e-tag, an iPhone with some business phone contract including 2 gigs of data transfer per month, a GPS to help me navigate around the city (which I just got funded on expenses) and I cruise around all day fixing computers. It sounds pretty laid back but actually it’s a little bit hectic. I’m still new to the role and learning all the intricacies of each machine (computers really are annoying to take apart, fix and rebuild, particularly laptops) and I’m all on my own now, so when the work piles up it really piles up.

I’m sure with a bit more time I’ll get it all under control and be faster at it when I’m more experienced. Even when I know what I’m doing things still often go wrong. It’s frustrating being stuck on one problem machine for 90-120 minutes at a time for something that should be fairly routine. I guess that’s just part of the job – factoring in delays due to stubborn machines and unforseen problems.

Sadly, Marika and I haven’t had either the time, weather or money to do more things before I was commited to employment. We visited the Koala Park and Newcastle/Marks Point. We’ve been around the city and Newtown a few times and although I still like it, it isn’t as good as I remember it, nor as cheap. Fucking city. I hope to visit Melbourne with her some time next month. Scott also wants to show me around down there and even try to introduce me to his boss in the hopes that it will help me out down the road. That would be good.

I think living as a poor bum in Estonia for so long has turned me into a bit of a penny-pincher. I find it more sensible to cook for myself these days but I don’t really have the desire to do it at the moment, since I’m still getting used to returning from work in the evening. Mum and Marika are usually taking care of that situation, anyway.

Since I’m too lazy to go jogging, we’ve taken up skipping. Actually it feels like I’m the only one doing it any more since Marika sleeps in during the morning when I’m exercising and doesn’t seem to enjoy the outdoor temperatures for exercising. Never mind. I’d attempt to do some weight training as well but unfortunately the equipment has either been sold or banished to some mysterious place known as “the lock up”. Sit-ups and push-ups it is, then. Meh.

We’ve just finished watching the first season of Treme and while I like it, I don’t find it as… engrossing as Deadwood (which we’ve also just finished watching the whole series), The Wire or even Rome. I guess it’s due to not really having a strong underlying plot (although there are lots of common and reoccuring themes), since the show is grounded more in the mundane reality of ordinary people and their own mostly unrelated stories.

I probably look like some mad HBO fanboy but I assure you that it’s not deliberate, it’s just that they’re the ones making the good shows. I must admit that it’s kind of strange seeing the same actors popping up in different shows. It’s hard to not have them typecast in my mind as the first character that I saw them play. I have the first eason of MST3K to watch, as well. That might be a challenge. I may just hop straight to season 2.

I can’t think of anything more to write at the moment. Yes, I know, I should have updated earlier and continue to do so more regularly. I was just feeling shy, ok?

Oh, I’m reading Catch-22 still and getting simultaneously worse and unluckier at poker the more I play.

It’s too hot

The weather is no longer all over the place – it’s here in full force. Horrible. Even the shade isn’t cool enough for a cold soul like me. The good news is that it’s really cold in Australia at the moment. Woohoo.

This is my final week of my (current) Estonian life. In only a couple of days Marika and I will be jet setting across the globe. I should be running around saying more goodbyes but it’s too hot and I’m officially broke. Too bad. I was never that big on goodbyes, anyway.

We did a test run of packing our bags. It seemed to go alright. Maybe we’ll do some refinement today. Ideally we will be able to fit all our desirables without having to post anything back.

I’m getting nervous about leaving yet also a wee bit excited. I just hope being at home doesn’t start to suck too quickly.

Summer time is here

It’s just too bad the weather is all over the place.

Tim is back today for a while. Laura is also back, for who knows how long? Probably until she finds another man to chase overseas. Even Shakey is returning. At least I’m leaving. My excitement is slowly building up inside.

I haven’t been out into town for a few weeks. I probably will soon. The boys opened the new summer hostel and I’d like to check it out.

Marika has to go to Tartu this week to do her final uni presentation. I’m sure it will all go well, judging from the stress levels she’s generating. Unfortunately this week there has been a big blow-up in the news about Estonian university standards being on the decline. Now all the officials have their back up and will probably crack down on all the poor students as a result.

I still think uni is a scam industry. At least I had HECS, delaying my debt and keeping it interest-free. I haven’t paid much attention to the newer system in Australia but it’ll probably continue to get worse and worse a la the American system and progress into a serious problem.

I hope a new style of tertiary education becomes prevalent in the future as the current system, to me, just seems to be a rip off that hands out too many qualifications, thus inflating education levels. For example: it’s not that hard to get a bachelors these days, all you really have to do is keep turning up. Pass criteria is generally so basic and weak that you would essentially have to not submit any work (or do it completely wrong) in order to fail. Because bachelors are now ubiquitous, lots of people feel the need to go on to get a masters “for an edge”. Of course, this works out great for universities as they get another tuition fee out of the student.

Now, I’ve got nothing against general education levels rising and people pursuing higher and higher degrees. I just think the criteria to accomplish this should be more string while boasting about what a high percentage of students pass their courses.

Anyway. I’ve been making good pancakes and eating a lot of peanuts.

May as well…

Kopli life is alright. Not having a supermarket (although I’d hardly call Säästumarket “super”) next door means I’m dieting quite well.

Since I’m eating less I’ve had more time to watch television shows. We’ve finished watching Rome. It’s a shame the series was cut short as it had this rushed feeling to it that left out a lot of what would have probably been fun scenes/arcs.

To head in a completely different direction, we went through Black Books in its entirety. This didn’t take long as there is only 18 short episodes. It’s strange that they were produced so far apart and that there are so few of them. I was a bit concerned that the quality of the show was heading downhill when I began watching season 2 but thankfully it picked back up again in the third season before abruptly ending. Never mind.

We tried watching The Mighty Boosh but after 2 episodes our interest has completely been lost. While it has its moments, I find it somewhat painful to sit through. Perhaps it picks up later on but I’m not about to find out.

I’ve finally managed to sit down and watch seasons 4 and 5 of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! at tofu’s persistence. I never liked them at first after only seeing clips out of context on YouTube but after a while it grew on me and I decided to give it a go.

The hard part now is deciding what to watch next. I still have to try Deadwood but I fear Marika won’t be interested in it, which makes it difficult to get through the whole series alone. Not that it wouldn’t be worth it, if it’s as good as people say it is. I watched the entire series of The Wire on my own over a few weeks and didn’t regret it, so perhaps that’s what it will come down to again.

There’s also Treme, which has some of The Wire‘s cast and crew in it. I also need to see Oz, Breaking Bad, and possibly The West Wing and Entourage (I enjoyed the first 3 or 4 episodes). Looks like I’ll have to avoid employment for a while longer. I doubt that will be difficult.

As for vidya, I’ve just been going through 3 day rotations, as always. I picked up some random titles on GOG.com that killed some time, but meh. Nothing special.

I’m reading a lot more books lately. I finished the first novel in the Dune series and I wasn’t really impressed. I’m not going to go into a review of it but it seemed pretty… lame. Perhaps it was more entertaining when it came out about 50 years ago.

I’ve also completed the four Dexter books. They’re very disappointing. The TV show is a whole lot better (and I know it’s usually the opposite). The third book goes off the rails and makes no sense, all four books offer no characterisation or insight and they always end absurdly quickly, within a few pages. Not to mention that Dexter actually comes across as somewhat useless as a stalker in the stories. Meh, indeed.

I’ll briefly criticise any other books I get through in the future. I have a feeling that I completed another one or two but I can’t recall what they were. Nevermind.

Next up, people:

Pete and Liis had a baby boy, Jack. He’s about a month old now. We saw him a few weeks ago. Seems like a fine chap. Marika gave them a kettle. Hoorah!

We saw Hugo on his birthday. I don’t remember much of it as I got drunk alone before I turned up to the party. All class. I think we had an ok night, though. A week or so before we went to Von Krahl for a concert but didn’t last into the second act, unfortunately.

Marika got some funny job handing out flyers. In the cold. It’s good money, though. She also gets to wear a silly sailor’s outfit, so I find it entertaining.

I’m getting more exercise than ever as I tend to walk the dog, Fredi, a couple of times a day. I usually attempt to read at the same time. Now I just need a haircut.

My poker game is improving a lot, I think. I try to restrict myself to only playing 2 tables, although I occasionally sit at more if I’m trying to find a good seat. It’s helped me to concentrate more and rationalise my decisions. Playing a bit of heads-up seems to be helpful, too. I really enjoy it, actually. Anyway, I still tend to spazz out unnecessarily at times but my self control is getting better all the time so I’m feeling fairly confident. Unfortunately I ran 2.5 buy-ins below expectation today on top of about three bad decisions/plays that I not happy about (I’ve really got to trust my instincts more). Nevertheless, with all my bad luck and the odd counter-intuitive move, I’m still profiting for the month. Here’s to more of that.

So, there’s only about a month or so left until I’m meant to leave. As long as there isn’t another volcanic eruption we should be fine. The news suggests otherwise, I’m afraid. I really should find out what will happen to my plane tickets if our flight is unable to depart. I don’t really want to be stuck here longer than I need to be, both for the inconvenience and expense.

Fingers crossed.