sareini: Organising gods is like herding cats into straight lines. They don't take naturally to it - American Gods (Organising Cats)
I've spent the past few days really focusing on the A-Z of rock cross stitch for my brother's birthday, and I'm now halfway through J (for Judas Priest). The biggest problem I'm coming up against at the moment is using the special gold and silver threads I bought for accents, because they're thicker than regular cross stitch threads and so I also have to use a bigger needle when working with them just to thread them through the eye. Which also makes it frustrating when I mess up and need to unpick a few stitches. Still, the end result looks good so it'll be worth it.

The burstitis/mystery hip injury continues to be a pain in the... well, hip. The Deep Freeze gel helps to an extent so I can move about without too much pain, but if I go too long without reapplying it I end up hobbling round the house emitting little cries of pain while Callie dances around my feet, working on her Underfoot skills. I'm aiming to get a doctor's appointment on Monday (I couldn't Thursday or Friday as I had deliveries due and it would be just my luck that they'd arrive while I was out).

I got a letter this morning from E.on - I thought it would be about the complaint I made on Monday and it was related... but no, it was actually a letter from them gently telling me off (but still telling me off) for not letting the engineer in the house when I was trying to catch my cat to go to the vet. So I ended up on hold for 40 minutes with them before getting through to a very nice CSR called Paula to complain again (because even if I wasn't so anxious as to not want to let people in like that, if someone is about to leave the house when you call you don't get to throw a strop at them and storm off). A formal complaint has now been filed, mainly just to put this on record as it's not like I was ever expecting to get anything more than a general apology, and we're going to make the arrangements to get a Smart Meter fitted so that no meter reader ever has to darken my door again. I just have to speak to the landlord and then clear the front room (possibly easier said than done). That'll lead to me calling the Greenfields Centre again on Monday to see if I can speak to one of the people who are covering for my social worker while she's recovering from whatever terrible lurgy has afflicted her, because they're always offering me help with organising and cleaning the house.

Movie reviews for the week:

Martin (1978) - George A Romero's personal favourite of all his films.
Without Warning (1980) - Martin Landau stars in the film that inspired Predator
Without Warning (1994) - War of the Worlds-inspired TV movie that I think is pretty underrated.

Also, three times this week I've gone to the corner shop to buy milk for my cereal, then forgotten to buy it. Where is my helper monkey?

Burstitis

Jul. 19th, 2017 06:06 pm
sareini: (doctor)
I had plans for not going anywhere for the rest of the week, I really did. But as the saying goes, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans."

For the past couple of weeks or so I've been having a pain in my right hip. At first I thought it was down to sitting in a new chair at the computer, and did my best to change my posture to try to fix the problem. Plus, it only seemed to occur when I was getting up from the chair, so I thought little of it. But it didn't go away, and started getting worse - staying around for longer and happening when I turned over in bed or walked up or down the stairs. And the pain got worse as well.

I did some research on the internet, consulting Doctor Google, and came to the conclusion that it was most likely a case of Burstitis of the hip - annoying, certainly, but by no means life-threatening and treatable with painkillers. At some point, I told myself, I would brave the nightmare of the telephone system that my GP uses for appointments and get it looked at, but there was no rush.

...at least there was no rush until today, when I woke up to pain so bad whenever I did anything but sit that I was almost being sick or falling over, and painkillers were doing nothing. There was no way to get a doctor's appointment (I tried registering online and got told I could book one appointment online, but then it told me I couldn't book an appointment until I'd had an appointment, thus becoming a Mobius Appointment System) for at least three weeks, and I wasn't going to go to a walk-in centre or worse, A&E for something that, as painful as it was, wasn't going to kill me any time soon, so there was only one option left to me.

Hobble into town (or at least to the bus stop) and go to Boots the Pharmacist for some painkilling gel.

Thankfully the journey was more or less easy and I got myself a large tube of Deep Freeze gel, and thank Eris and all the little Discordian saints, it works! Not 100%, but enough that I can move around without so much pain that I honestly think I'm going to be sick with it. I've had plantar fasciitis, sciatica and a bladder and kidney infection that have all had me on bed rest for a week or more with the pain, and this hip pain was pretty damn close to them. Hopefully the gel will keep the pain levels down till I can see an actual doctor (fun times calling at 8am and praying to beat the rush of everyone else who needs an appointment as well).

I had plans to watch a dodgy 1980 sci-fi horror movie today and review it as well. Instead I've been watching mocked-up Emergency Broadcast videos and scaring myself half to death instead (I should explain all that in another post).

Mondays.

Jul. 17th, 2017 06:26 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
I'm starting to believe someone recently put a curse on me.

Lily had a vet appointment today. To catch up; Lily has been receiving treatment for a condition known as cholangiohepatitis since the beginning of the year. It's an inflammation of the liver and bile ducts, and unfortunately in Lily's case it is chronic, which means it periodically flares up and can't be really cured, just managed. She's on a mix of antibiotics and steroids for this, and it's improved her condition tremendously - in January she was vomiting daily, severely jaundiced and had lost about 2kg in weight. Now she has periodic bouts of vomiting, but the jaundice is being kept to a minimum and she's put her lost weight back on and more, to the point where I'm having to put her on a diet. We're coping the best we can.

I was just starting to get things ready for the trip to the vets when there was a knock on the door. It turned out to be someone coming to read the gas and electric meters; something I was not expecting, plus I was in the middle of stuff and the front room is such a mess that it's not really possible to get to the gas meter right now anyway. I try to explain this to the meter reader but he just snarls at me, "You said this last time. You just don't want to have your meter read," and stalked off.

So that was asshole #1 to upset me.

So I chased Lily around the house for a bit, got her in the carrier and got the taxi to the vet. There she got checked over - jaundice levels the same as last time, no other problems - but then the vet (who was a locum I'd not seen at the place before) started talking about pancreatic cancer.

If Lily had pancreatic cancer I'm pretty sure we'd have noticed it by now, since she's been seen monthly and at one point fortnightly since January and ultrasounds have shown that the mass around her bile ducts in January reduced in size considerably after a month on the meds (we just can't take her off them because she starts being sick again). But thanks for worrying me unnecessarily there. Then, as I'm closing the carrier up and getting ready to leave, I mention that my goal is really just to get her to 19, as my readings had shown me a 5-year survival rate for cats with this condition, and while I know she's not going to live forever, if I can keep her strong for as long as possible I'll have done my job as cat owner. The vet responds, "Oh, I don't think that will happen."

...I guess I should just not bother then, should I?

Asshole #2 needs to work on his bedside manner.

Add to that the Spanish Plume that's headed our way this week (temperatures up to 28 degrees, then thunderstorms and heavy rain!) and the deaths of George A Romero and Martin Landau, and I'm feeling pretty beaten down today. I think I'm going to spend the evening eating ice cream and crafting. Maybe watching stuff to put my mind on autopilot. Tomorrow will be better.

Needles

Jul. 15th, 2017 04:42 pm
sareini: "Yes, bugger all that. Let's curse somebody." - Discworld (Curse)
Well, today has certainly been an interesting day.

The Tour-de-Sock started today, and so I excitedly went to see what the first pattern would be. Looks great... except it's a toe-up pattern and I've never done that before. But that's one of the reasons I signed up for this; so that I could learn some new techniques. So, toe-up cast-ons.

Except after 20 minutes of trying, I realised I was not going to be able to do the cast-on with the double-pointed needles I had. And unfortunately, my one pair of circular sock needles was brutally murdered by Callie a few months ago (also the last time I buy bamboo needles). So I figured that my only remaining option was to go to the knitting shop in the next town over and buy some metal circular sock needles. And to save money and challenge myself a bit, I was going to go by bus.

It should have been easy enough. Use the local bus service's journey planner, get on buses, everything's fine. But between the first and second leg of the journey, I forgot what bus to get, and so re-input the details on my phone. Except it turns out that if you type in "59 High Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme" it takes you to a different place than if you type in "59 High Street, Wolstanton, Newcastly-under-Lyme", which is where I actually wanted to go. So that was an interesting - albeit slightly terrifying - detour.

I finally get to the store, and I decide that after all the trials of getting there, I deserve a reward, and so I bought some yarn as well. I made sure at least to get sock yarn so it'll at least get used up.

Getting back was a little bit easier, since I had a better idea of what I was doing by then... but I missed my final connecting bus by one minute (more like 20 seconds, in fact, as I watched him pull out of the stop as I came within range). That left me with a 30-minute wait for the next bus, so I decided to go buy a drink.

I'm just walking out of the bus station when a middle-aged man holding his phone walks up to me and stops me. He looks a little lost so I'm prepared to give badly-described directions to him.

"Hello," he says. "I'm new here... and I was wondering where... I could fuck you."

Stoke-on-Trent, ladies and gentlemen! Shortlisted for City of Culture 2021!

I just stared for a second while my brain assured me that yes, that's exactly what I just heard, before I managed to respond, "You don't. Go away." and I started to walk in a radically different direction from him. He then called after me, "Is that a no then?"

Yes. Yes it is a definite no, you creepy stranger accosting people outside of bus stations. I was worried he was going to start following me but the homeless woman who begs for spare change nearby started yelling at him for being a creeper as well, so I was saved. Next time I see her I'm going to give her money for a coffee.

Now I'm home, where the cats have greeted me with great joy because it means they get lunch, and I'm making plans to not leave the house again except for essentials for at least a week (Ross's birthday and Lily's vet visit aside). Next time someone asks why I get so anxious about going out I'm going to point them to this tale.
sareini: "It's been lovely, but I have to scream now" (Scream)
Earlier today I was sitting at my computer in the front room, which is right in front of the window. Callie was in the windowsill, happily trying to catch moths and watching people pass by. I had the blind mostly drawn down, but there was still a good 10 inches to see out of the window.

Two people walked past, which I only half-saw from the other side of the monitor. I did see enough to see one of them stop and point at Callie, which is fine; people see cats in windows and tend to talk to them. I do so myself all the time.

Then I see one of the two bend down and press her face right into the window, looking not just at Callie but at my front room itself. Now bear in mind that I'm sitting no more than two feet from where she's looking in, and I know she can see me as easily as I can see her. She ignores me completely and continues to look into my house like she's window shopping or something, and startling poor Callie into the bargain as she clearly didn't like the extreme close-up either. After about 30 seconds, the woman walks away without a word.

Yesterday when I was in town I decided to treat myself to a lemonade at Costa Coffee. I got lucky, and they're now doing a raspberry lemonade as well, so I had one of those and an egg mayo sandwich. The only place to sit and eat was in the outdoor area, so I went and sat at a table in a corner. No more than two minutes later two teenage boys came over and sat down at the table next to mine... except one of them was not happy with the space he had and started trying to push my table further into the corner so he had more space. He never once looked in my direction even though it was pretty clear I was there.

Then a couple of his friends turned up and this guy stood up to talk to them. Except he didn't just stand up, he leant forward and into me, pushing me aside while he talked with his friends, without a single word. A couple of minutes later, some more friends turned up and he did it again. This time one of his friends noticed what he was doing and looked shocked, but never said anything (they did kind of mouth an apology as they left).

Did I miss the memo where it was decreed that people could disregard others' personal space at will now? This sort of thing freaks me out incredibly, for obvious reasons, and both times I ended up sick and panicking afterwards because of it. Maybe I should start carrying a long, sharp needle to jab at people who pull this crap in future...
sareini: "Zombies are a girl's best friend" quote with a picture of Julie from Return of the Living Dead 3 (Zombies!)
I broke my DVD-buying fast today with a copy of Train to Busan.

I've not bought any DVDs for myself for several months now, for several reasons. The simplest reason is cost - even if I'm taking advantage of "4 for £20!" deals that's still £20 that could have gone on something else, like proper food or into a savings account. Another reason is that I've well and truly lost count of the number of DVDs (and the occasional Blu-Ray, for they have deals as well) I now have lying around the house that I've not gotten around to watching yet. I could probably host a film festival at this point. And finally, I haven't really needed to, what with Amazon Prime, Netflix, Shudder, the BFI Cinema Collection and the nebulous grey area that is Kodi TV and its add-ons. All of these combined are more than enough to ensure that I should never need to buy a physical copy of a film ever again.

But sometimes you just need to support a film with some actual money. Train to Busan was one of my favourite films of 2016, and it pretty much came out of nowhere and had a "limited release" so limited I didn't even hear about it until afterwards, at which point it was great fun to try to track it down. And I loved it not just because it was a zombie film, but because it did something original with the zombie attack scenario, was fun, high-energy and kept you guessing as to at least some of the eventual survivors. And if you enjoy a film enough, you should shell out some actual cash as a thank you to the filmmakers so they can make more films that you'll probably enjoy.

So after heading into town to get some cat treats (we were running low and they're an essential part of the pill-giving process, the cats will tell you), I ended up in my local branch of HMV. Whereupon it took me 10 whole minutes to actually find the DVD, hidden away in "World Cinema". I fail to see why we need a seperate "World Cinema" section in stores now, especially physical ones - it's really effectively just saying, "Films With Subtitles And Themes That You May or May Not Understand And Which Probably Have More Nudity". And most of the time no-one's going to go looking there unless they're like me and already know about the film. There's always at least two or three people blocking the aisles in front of the Horror section, trying to decide what vacuous straight-to-DVD movie they've been told is "Scariest Film of the Year!" to buy, but World Cinema is wide open (also as a side note: I wish HMV would widen it's aisles a bit; it's getting so I've seen people in wheelchairs just have to sit in the entrance and shout what films they want, which is hardly disability-friendly). If nothing else, mixing in World Cinema with the regular genres could at least give some people an education.

...I'm being pretentious film nerd again, aren't I?

***

Bonus! For those who were wondering, my Top 5 Films of 2016 were:

5) Blair Witch
4) Train to Busan
3) The Girl With All The Gifts
2) Don't Breathe
1) The VVitch
sareini: "Made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says, 'Bugger'." from Blackadder (Bugger)
I had plans for going out on Friday. Nowhere special, just to the cinema that's 15-20 minutes from where I live, because a new film was coming out and I really wanted to see it.

The film in question is The Belko Experiment, and I've been excited about it since I first heard about it last Christmas. It's written by James Gunn (yes, that James Gunn) and directed by Greg McLean (of Wolf Creek infamy) and it's basically a Battle Royale clone - a few score workers for Belko Industries find themselves locked in a building and told to kill each other or be killed. Frankly, they had me at "Battle Royale clone", if only so I could throw things at it if it turned out to be not so good. My local cinema had had posters up for it, and last time I was there (seeing Free Fire with my brother) they even had a trailer. It's coming out this Friday, April 21. But yesterday when I went to look up the times it was showing, there was nothing there. Further digging revealed that it's not going to be shown at my cinema at all.

So I girded my loins and messaged the cinema on Facebook, asking them just what was up. To their credit, they got back to me within three minutes and were very informative... But it turns out The Belko Experiment is on a "limited release" and so the distributors get to choose what cinemas get to show it. And my cinema wasn't picked.

This is the second time this has happened this month as well. At the beginning of the month they had adverts up for the French cannibal/coming of age film Raw that I also wanted to see - even though I'm not that big a fan of cannibal movies - but when the release day came around the nearest cinema to me that showed it was 25 miles away. So I'm not at all impressed by this idea of "limited release". In this era of digital and with the big movie companies so psychotically pearl-clutching over piracy, you'd think that they'd be getting films out to as many cinemas as possible to get people to pay instead of heading online for the film. Even if I was able to travel the 25 miles minimum to see a film I wouldn't, unless it was the best film in the history of humanity or I was being paid a very large sum of money to do so. The other cinema in my area is showing it, but only in the evenings when I'm not comfortable travelling further than the corner shop and it would cost me a hell of a lot more as well (taxi fare, plus I have a card for my preferred cinema). You'd think the competition would also encourage them to show the film in more cinemas, but apparently not.

So my Friday afternoon has suddenly become free, and I'm rather annoyed by it.
sareini: default (Angry Princess (one))
UK government comes one step closer to legalising slavery, Daily Mail readers rejoice

Most of you should be very used to my views on this sort of thing by now, so I'll spare you most of the frothing-at-the-mouth ranting and raving about this.

Basically though, the government is using the old "sledgehammer to crack a nut" practice to deal with the dual problems of the small number of people illegally claiming benefits, and how to get basic stuff done in this country as this recession creeps ever closer and they can't afford to pay everyone. So we get this "community service" idea to make the problems look like they're going away.

I'm lucky now in that I have a job. Granted, it's not exactly a job I envisioned myself doing, nor it it the best-paid job in the world, but I do enjoy it and we make do with it. But I've also been through the benefits system, both Incapacity and Jobseekers, and so I know full well what it's like. It's not the life of Riley that so many of the far-right brigade like to shout about.

If you want to claim Incapacity, you have to collect endless sick notes from your doctor and send them off regularly, then fill in a long form with tick-boxes for nearly every possible physical and mental problem imaginable (interesting point: being an alcoholic can get you Incapacity Benefit, and you don't have to do anything to deal with your addiction. Considering yesterday's big story was about the latest Scarlet Letter against smokers, and how no-one would ever suggest half of the measures they use against smokers to be used against people who drink, it's an interesting little tangent...). Then you have to have a medical examination with a government doctor, which is usually a crap shoot. I've had mixed luck with them - one time it was fine, but another time the doctor outright lied on the form and denied me the aid. And that's just to get on Incapacity Benefit. The government claim that the "severely ill and disabled" will not be affected by this, but somehow I expect that a lot of people will suddenly find themselves declared "fit for work" when they shouldn't be...

Jobseekers' Allowance is even more fun. Not only do you have to prove that you're looking for work (which so many people claim is easy to fool and that they know someone who does just that, to which my answer invariably is, "Well, bloody shop them then!"), but if you haven't got enough National Insurance credits then you don't get anything anyway. This is what happened to me when I had to claim it, just before I started this job. I'd therefore expect that the influx of people being unceremoneously turfed off Incapacity Benefit will find themselves working - sorry, "doing community service" - for no money at all because their NI credits aren't up to date. Which will help practically nobody, except the government who get their cheap slave labour.

Don't get me wrong, I know there are a good few people who are just out to scrounge and take whatever they can, but they're still very much in the minority. And rather than spend the extra cash to try to ferret them out, the government decides to just punish everyone on benefits to save time and try to distract the growing mobs of people baying for their blood as the recession deepens.
sareini: default (Pissed Off)
Nick hasn't been paid yet. Due to Nick's workplace being so busy with preparations for the launch of their new Big Thing next week, Nick doesn't feel it's right to pester then over when he will be paid.

As a result of the not-paid-yet issue, we have no money and, more importantly, no anti-depressants in the house for either of us (we were going to get them last week no problem, but that had been planned out in advance when we had expected to, you know, have money).

Nick's mother very kindly put some money in the post for us on Monday so we could get the damn drugs. Because there is a postal strike going on right now over here, she posted it Special Delivery, which cost her nearly £5 to arrive "the next day, although not guaranteed before 1pm".

Wednesday afternoon is now here, and there's no bloody money. Hell, we've had a bloody regular post delivery, but no Special Deliveries!

The most annoying thing about this? My week-and-a-bit with Royal Mail taught me that we can't even complain. First off it'd have to be Nick's mother as she posted it, and second, Special Delivery items have to wait seven days before they're reported lost (it says 15 days on the website but they're lying, that's just for regular mail and because they don't want the plebs making any fuss). Even so, I think I'm going to go down to the local post office (luckily situated at the bottom of the road) and ask if there's anything that can be done, as quite frankly, another day with the two of us suffering withdrawal from our medications and I'll snap and go on a spree. And, you know, it always makes me feel better to be pointedly polite to people when I'm mad.

(The ironic thing about this? Nick's mother just got a new job... with Royal Mail.)

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