Monday, 14 October 2013

It'll all go wrong at once

Or if you're REALLY unlucky, it'll go wrong continuously. Since the beginning of October, give or take a few days, that's been my life. Some big things, as per my previous post, and some little things that all band together to beat you up.

I am pissed off with America. I know I am not the only one. Why? Well in case you haven't been keeping up with the times, the majority of their federal departments have closed "until further notice". I am not American so why do I care? Because NASA is one of those departments. In two weeks I have to present a public talk on NASA's Kepler Mission. So now, when I go to www.kepler.nasa.gov I get this...


This wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that my laptop got stolen and all the info I had gotten hold of from NASA before their site shutdown is now in the hands of some cretin. What luck right? All is not lost, I know, but it's the inconvenience of it all that gets stuck in my throat, which yes, USA.gov, I sincerely regret too.

Then there's the fact that two days after our flat got defiled, my flatmate's car window got smashed to smithereens (and very pokey shavings) and her radio stolen. They had to destroy her dash as well it seems. The fact that it was parked inside the complex parking lot, behind security gates and mean fencing, well, that takes the cake.

I hoped like hell that was all that would go wrong, but noooooo. My precious Phoebe has decided to freak out on me. That's my car by the way. She had a full service less than three months ago and all of a sudden her globes start going. First the dome light. Not a tragedy, that's easily replaceable. Then my radio goes, also (I thought) easily fixable - just replace the fuse. One problem, I can't for the life of me find the stupid fuse box. The manual says 'here' and it's not there. Surely it would make sense to design the vehicle such that fuse boxes are easily accessible? The one in the engine compartment is fine and dandy, but that's not where the fuse I want is housed. So a minor annoyance. Then on Thursday night I dash to my car to try find a 24-hr pharmacy because my flatmate is sick. What do I find? One of the headlights is kaput. Again, I thought easy peasy to replace. Not so. On the weekend when my flatmate and I have a look at it in the daylight it's far more tricksy to remove than originally thought. And to top it all off, I turn on my car to show her which light has gone and now Phoebs is making a whining sound (with sporadic clicking) that doesn't go away when she's started. I'm scared she's going to blow up on me next.

So yes, I know I'm not Irish because I don't have their luck right now. The sour icing on the diseased cake is with all these big and little things, my eczema is going "You're stressed! Guess I'd better make it worse then!" and doing a sterling job. Although I'm pleased to not have looked like a dry tomato recently, instead I am waking up every morning with puffy eyes and spending the rest of the day looking punched. And all the other places on my body are flaring too.

I think I might need to kidnap a leprechaun to whack me with his lucky stick. Forever waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

"It only happens to other people..."

Um, no, unfortunately it doesn't.

We got robbed. On a Sunday like any other I got back to my flat from visiting family to find the rooms ransacked and roughly R18k of goods missing. Granted, one item was roughly 67% of that. Brand new laptop: gone. Even newer laptop backpack: gone. Then there was an old laptop and accompanying carry case also spirited away. The worst thing missing: my external hard drive with my work on it. Which just pisses me off. They (thankfully) left my other two externals, one of which was plugged in to the laptop they took, but took my work one. Why not just leave them all? And the myriad of other smaller items easily cash-convertable that were left. Yay for us but illogical. I am missing my backpack and external the most: the latter due to the lost work, and the former because of the badges and my lanyard collection which were attached. Silly sentimentality, but still.

However, the items being stolen, although grating on the nerves and creating an inconvenience, is by far easier to deal with than the knowledge that strangers have been in our space and rifled through our things. I mean come on, they went through our small clothes and private items. That's the most disturbing - the invasion of our home. Needless to say we are washing everything. Disinfectant has already been used a great deal. All surfaces wiped down. The landlord has been great too; we are now the renters of shiny new locks and a currently black primed security gate. More Fort Knox than before.

Something to be grateful for is that they opted to leave behind my ID book and passport, the first of which was in one of the bags they stole. They also had the presence of mind to remove some printed pages of code I am working on from the backpack. Guess they didn't want to be bogged down with unnecessaries.

I say 'grateful' and it's true. We're also grateful that bar the bedrooms and a damaged VGA cable, they were very polite about it all: minimal breakage. We're grateful neither of us were home, although maybe if we had been it wouldn't have happened. We'll never know. Grateful, grateful, grateful. Doesn't that just piss you off?! That we live in a world where a crime occurs and instead of railing against the injustice, we are grateful that it wasn't worse, that no violence occurred. It's sickening.

On an even more fatalistic note, it's so easy for me to say "It's South Africa, what do you expect?" but the truth is it can happen anywhere and to anyone. This is what happens in a world populated by reprobates when you become complacent about security. I had never felt unsafe in my flat but I was so uncomfortable about leaving it today, even after the locks were changed. I felt super paranoid about anything of value that was left at home, and I was jumpy last night with every 'strange' sound making me tense. You can't live like that though. Hopefully it will pass soon and I will be back to my jaded self.

As to the fuckers who trod on our domain and sullied our safe haven, I hope you get Ebola and the electronics you lifted get you electrocuted.