by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Life, the Universe, and Everything”

Evening Conversation with Nick

Posted 21 April 2008 in by Catriona

I’ve had a heavy marking load this past three days, as a result of taking a break from my work when family came to visit, so I was exhausted when Nick arrived home. Being the attentive partner that he is, he offered me a glass of wine.

NICK: I think you deserve a glass of the Semillon Chardonnay.
ME: Well, that and the fact the that the Semillon Chardonnay is the only screw-top bottle in the fridge.

There’s something to be said for a partner who considers your needs above his own convenience.

Mind, this Semillon Chardonnay is lovely.

Divergent Interests

Posted 20 April 2008 in by Catriona

Nick and I have a fairly large number of shared interests, which always make co-habitation a little easier; I’m not always making him watch romantic comedies (although, action-film fan that I am, I did draw the line at Hitman Uncut last night: it was grotesquely violent and exploitative) and he’s not obsessed with sport, so we don’t end up living a life with a horrible resemblance to an American prime-time sit-com.

(Although I am obsessed with sport; well, I’m obsessed with football, anyway. But Nick just ignores the fact that I watch every game of each World Cup and get up at 4.30 a.m. to watch Liverpool win the Champion’s League final.)

But sometimes, our interests seem to diverge more than usual.

For example, I have spent today (after waking at 6.30 a.m.—on a Sunday!—to find that my fan had snapped in half during the night, a stranger than usual occurrence) sitting in the living room marking an enormous pile of assessment.

Nick, on the other hand, has pulled out a borrowed copy of Overlord—which he always describes as “the game written by Rhianna Pratchett”—and has apparently spent most of the afternoon carving a violent swathe through an environment that looks disturbingly like Hobbiton, complete with underground dwellings with round doors.

It’s all right, though; I think these are evil hobbits.

And I get to stop marking soon, so we can get back to our usual Sunday night activities of mocking Robin Hood and squabbling about what we’re going to watch afterwards.

After all, shared interests don’t have to equal perpetual consensus: that would be dull.

Strange Things Are Afoot at the Circle K (Otherwise Known as The Internet)

Posted 18 April 2008 in by Catriona

The strangest thing happened today, while I was sitting innocently, if belatedly, marking my students’ assessment and occasionally checking my e-mail. I had a browser open, to check some references, and was occasionally brushing a hand over the track pad to stop the computer from going to sleep.

That is, until I heard eerie music—and looked up to find that I’d somehow managed to enter The Church of Scientology’s video channel, and was being informed that it was the only major religion to emerge in the twentieth century via a montage of smiling children.

I think I managed to shut it down before they convinced me of the validity of their beliefs, but I’m going to keep a close eye on myself, just in case I manifest a sudden desire to write large donation cheques.

I find it even stranger that this happened not a week after Nick and I, in company with visiting family, had lunch directly opposite a large anti-Scientology gathering in the city.

For some reason, most of the protestors were wearing V for Vendetta style Guy Fawkes masks, which—while awesome in the film—start to look odder and odder the longer you stare at them.

Especially when several of the people wearing them are also wearing incongruent costumes: call me odd, but I don’t think a Guy Fawkes mask works well with a lime-green Zoot suit and fedora ensemble.

I am, however, starting to wonder why Scientology is suddenly popping up everywhere I look, even when I’m simply trying to eat lunch or mark some assignments.

Spooky.

Things That Have Made Me Cranky Recently, in No Particular Order

Posted 16 April 2008 in by Catriona

I’ve already done this recently, with things that have made me happy. But I’m feeling slightly odd, today—partly because I’m intensely tired and partly because I can’t be sure how well I did today with my lecture and tutorials: I seem to have lost the ability to read a room—and I’m frustrated by the fact that I haven’t had a chance to update recently. So cranky it is.

Mildly cranky, mind. Nothing that won’t be cured by a good night’s sleep.

1. Melancholic endings. (This goes for both books and television.)

Happy endings, people. Please? I just want my favourite fictional characters to be happy and healthy. It’s fiction—that’s where we all get to live happily ever after. (I’m living happily ever after already, but for argument’s sake . . .)

Unhappy endings have their own beauty, certainly—but more happy endings, please.

(I suspect the only way to get around this is to read more spoilers, so I know exactly what’s happening. But, really, spoilers just—ironically—spoil everything.)

2. That I need to tidy my living-room again, before my father-in-law comes around for dinner tomorrow night. The coming-around-to-dinner part is fine, but I really don’t want to have to tidy the living room. I’m sure I only tidied it recently.

3. The fact that I’ve just heard “Ode to Joy” on the television, and thought “Hey, it’s that song that South Korean fans sing at football games.” I mean, honestly. I’m sure I used to be cultured once.

(Now I’m reminding myself of the snobby conversation in Bridget Jones’s Diary—the novel—where they suggest that you shouldn’t be allowed to listen to the World Cup theme unless you’d sat through Turandot.)

4. That I’m smoking like a chimney at the moment. Why? No idea. But there you are.

5. I mentioned this at the top, but I seem to have lost the ability to read a room. I’m sure that I used to be able to do this, but I noticed this shift at my prospectus presentation a few years ago, when I egregiously misread the room—there were no consequences, but I was shocked.

I’m not sure why this happened, but it’s throwing me a little.

6. A conversation I had with Nick recently, which he’s forbidden me from blogging about, but the end result is that we’re getting a new television.

(Is it just me, or does that entry make us sound really dysfunctional?)

7. The weather. I know that I put this at the top of my list of things that have made me happy, but now I’ve changed my mind. Where’s the cold weather?

8. The way the sets in Packrat that I haven’t vaulted are really difficult to collect, and I’m having to buy everything—the rats don’t have anything worth stealing, these days.

Oddly, writing the list has made me feel a lot less cranky. Although, I will add one more item, in passing.

9. The fact that Nick has insisted on picking a television programme, and has now just run off, for no apparent reason and without warning, to play on the Internet. This, despite the fact that he now has a device that allows him to surf the Internet from anywhere in the house (and, his new hobby, in bed).

Nope, definitely feel less cranky now. So, having picked the topic of “Things That Make Me Cranky,” I’m going to have to leave the list there, before it becomes apparent that it’s a complete misnomer.

Ah, blog. Is there nothing that you can’t do?

Okay, So I'm a Pessimist

Posted 4 April 2008 in by Catriona

Is that really a surprise to anyone?

Apparently, the engine head is not warped. The mechanic is a little surprised by this, and warns me to keep a close eye on the gauge and check the radiator levels tomorrow and again in a couple of days, but at least we don’t have to replace the engine head.

I apologise, machinery. Apparently, you are capable of generous gestures.

Curse You, Mechanical Objects: You Win Again!

Posted 4 April 2008 in by Catriona

(Once again, this post has no bearing on books or reading. I do have another one half written, but this intervened.)

It has become painfully apparent that my computer and my car have entered into some sort of unholy alliance.

No sooner do I crow that we have managed to defeat the computer’s (or maybe—which amounts to the same thing for the purposes of this rant—the server’s) attempts to shut down dialogue on this blog, than my car gives up the ghost.

Of course, it had to give up the ghost on Coronation Drive in peak hour on a Friday morning, didn’t it? Well done, car, if you were aiming for maximum frustration!

Interesting point: apparently, putting on your hazard lights while steam pours out from under your bonnet is the cue for everyone to start honking, swearing, and gesticulating furiously. I have no idea what they expected me to do—it’s not a very big car, but it’s big enough.

Apparently, it overheated, and I failed to notice. (Well, I did notice—but not until it had stopped.) It can’t have been overheating for long, I suspect, because there really was no warning. The gauge would have shown it was overheating, but the gauge is rather out of my line of sight.

I would have noticed a flashing light, so maybe the manufacturers might want to think about adding one of those.

Or perhaps I should have been paying more attention. Hence my Facebook status update: “seriously unlucky with cars, or remarkably stupid? Or both?”

I’m now waiting for the mechanic to tell me whether the overheating warped the alloy of the engine head. He thinks it did, because there’s oil under the radiator cap, but needs to get the results of my new favourite thing, a “sniffer test.”

I think the head probably is warped, for two reasons.

Firstly, the engine head(s) is one part that is specifically excluded from our Mechanical Service Plan. I mean, it couldn’t just be a problem with the windshield wipers, for once?

(No, wait—that already happened. In a downpour. Late at night. On the Bruce Highway. Yeah, I don’t want that to happen again.)

And, secondly, it’s basically Murphy’s Law, isn’t it? I’m starting to think that’s more powerful than Newton’s and Asimov’s Laws combined, frankly.

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