2015 Now that’s done, what happened and where to now?

So at the beginning of last year I made some resolutions… well not so much resolutions but goals (New Year’s resolutions tend to last only a few hours-days so I don’t do that…)

The …umm.. goals:

  • To cut down on Facebook usage.
    • Wish a ‘Happy Birthday’ personally not using Facebook.
    • Not to sit reading ‘Newfeeds’.
    • Not to post when I’m going to the toilet, or blowing my nose.
  • To cut down on helping others before looking after myself.
    • In past years I have run myself to the point of getting sick taking photos, helping people out, etc.
    • This year only doing stuff for people that look after me and are concerned with my health.
    • To allow people to join me in my life (share my life) rather than follow everyone else in theirs.
  • To treat everyone with the respect and attitude that they treat me (for better or for worse.)
  • To cut down the amount of time that I work (for my employer) to something closer to resembling the actual times/hours I am supposed to work (using the hours to look after my family and friends.)

So how did it all go?  Well a mix of both success and failure, the easier ones were a complete success, the more difficult and controversial not so much. ie Facebook a no brainer, some took offence, some didn’t realise, some followed suit.  Some people treated me with complete disrespect and bad (awful) attitude, but I couldn’t bring myself to return the feelings no matter how much I wanted to.

2015 In Review…

Michelle Proposes to Gabie
The proposal…

The beginning of the year began with a proposal just a few seconds into the new year…  I tried to make it the stroke of midnight but this in reality was never going to happen, so it happened with the first minute of the new year.  This I think is how everyone should start a new year…  Not a proposal of marriage, but to start it with a happy note: Start in the way which you intend on going on.

I find in my life that no matter how hard you will try to keep everything on a positive note, there will always be those who try and spoil things, there will always be a negative, 2015 was no different.  Within a few weeks we (Gabie and I) lost a bunch of friends.  Some closer than others.  Some didn’t like the fact we were getting married.  Some didn’t like to see us happy. Some people just have to ensure everyone else is as miserable as they are in their lives.  Some people are just unfathomable and are just better left to wallow in their own self pity.  The result was after a great deal of stress and angst Gabie changed jobs to avoid someone who was poisonous in our lives, not to forget she hated the job.

After that little upset was dealt with, Gabie set her heart, with my full support, on pursuing an ambition of hers… To teach again.  For this she needed a TELT (Test for English Language Teachers) course to begin the process and in February she took the course, she thoroughly enjoyed it, at least until the exam and the early start preceded by an anxious and therefore sleepless night.  We found later, as I expected, she had passed it.  We booked the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course so that she may continue with the dream.

Michael, his lovely wife Anna, and the two beautiful children with us in their garden at Easter.
The family… Michael’s.

Easter was the next point in the year when things happened and fortunately it was also good.  We headed to the UK to visit my family, first my mother in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, then later my brother and his family in Mirfield, Leeds.  My sister came for Easter Sunday dinner with Mum so Gabie got to meet her then.

The Easter trip was a really good one as we found a great hotel, the Holiday Inn, Leeds-Brighouse… definitely on the list of places to stay!  (In fact we went back there at Christmas 2015 – more on that later.)

Next event was Gabie’s course, the May 2015 TEFL course and the resulting certificate (for those successful.)  A potentially stressful time, but  with the exception of Wedding plans I had managed to remove as many as possible sources of stress for Gabie, and this paid off as she also aced the course and got her certificate.

Attacked by a bouncer..

You’ll note at this point I haven’t mentioned a lot about me or what I have done, well that’s because there is not a lot to tell.  After a number of court events the case against the bouncers that had attacked me  was dropped because I couldn’t identify him as the attacker (when you’re attacked from behind and kicked in the back of the head it’s a tad difficult to identify the attacker) and it was obvious that he had friends as none of the witnesses – even the police witness – stepped up to identify him and the CCTV footage was mysteriously absent… apparently for the hour when the attack happened… apparently the system malfunctioned… as is often observed when its the staff being prosecuted.

On the work side of things I was not following my goal and was doing many many hours fighting to get things working correctly at the OS level, leaving me to blog a warning about FreeBSD particularly for production use…

So towards the end of May we had good news and bad news in the papers, first was Ireland who became the first country to approve same sex marriage by popular vote.  The local papers reported on the problems in Swieqi started happening again, this time not only vandalism but also thieves… and again it was my CCTV video that resulted in the capture…  Much to the annoyance of some people, but the residents were very happy which is all that matters.

July would mark one of my few photographic events of the year where I covered XMA 2015, it also marked the ‘full steam ahead’ on the wedding plans.  It also made for a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland to visit the good people from ‘Your GP‘ who wrote medical reports that resulted (eventually) in me obtaining my GRC (Gender Recognition Certificate) which also gave me my new Birth Certificate…. all of which was a pre-requisit to getting approved for marriage in Malta.

August went with a blur, and was marred by an insult or two.  Won’t go into the details of who here, but suffice it to say, if you’re invited to someone’s Wedding it is polite to either attend or at least say that you can’t.  Similarly if you’re invited to a stag or hen night and you don’t want to deliver one of the biggest insults in Malta, you tell people you can’t make it, you don’t just not show up.  Lastly for the wedding you don’t tell people you never received the invite “a week before and it was too late” if you’re going to show it to other people who might actually tell the happy couple two-three weeks before!!!  Weddings in Malta are a personal thing and the bride side of the event is very very personal.

So September and the wedding itself, well what more is there to say…?

The vows captured by The Malta Independent.
The vows captured by the photographer from The Malta Independent on Sunday.

Well quite a lot, but not for this post.  Things didn’t go according to our desire, but according to the wedding planners design, despite our being quite specific.  The important thing though was we got married, and most of those people important to us were there to witness it.

Our honeymoon took us to Iceland, mainly chosen as a location as its spectacular and very difficult/expensive to get to if you live in Australia.

Panoramic View of Iceland on the way back to the Airport
Panoramic View of Iceland on the way back to the Airport

Iceland was rather different and brought some disappointments, it was very expensive for a lot less… especially considering it is ‘part of Europe’ .. the year before I spent less money on our holiday for more days in the Seychelles than our fleeting visit to Iceland where we seemed to spend all the time driving from place to place.  What topped off the whole experience was getting back to Malta and having Europcar Iceland try and accuse us of putting a massive dent in the roof of the car and try to charge us an addition €3500 to have it repaired….!  Worst part of the whole ordeal is that we had already read about various rental companies trying this on in Iceland, so we went with Europcar because we figured “Big well known name, will be reputable” … how wrong we were.  Result was we informed the bank they had no permission to make such a withdrawal and told them to take us to court.  They no doubt figured with me having photos of the vehicle before and after they would end up with a fraud charge in court and I haven’t heard from them since.  My advice in all such cases, always get evidence, and always stand your ground.  In most countries if you are innocent you can claim all costs associated with a lawsuit (legal fees, flights, hotels etc)…

So skipping to Christmas 2015, for the first time in many years, I did not put up the Christmas decorations, we knew we were going away and the house was a bit of a mess with everything that has been going on renovations wise so figured ‘why bother’.  That said, lights went up on the outside of the house, though in a diminished set.

So at the end of 2015, despite haven attended court several times against both defendants, “Sean Borg” and “Xelinu” nothing has progressed, every time the case has been adjourned, quite literally. So I am no further forward in reclaiming either my truck or bike, though I have a new lawyer on the team.  For those who have forgotten what this is about… A previous blog entry…

The ARMS saga is still going on, they finally just 3-4 weeks before our wedding decided they want to talk to me about the rates.  They had to wait until I got back from honeymoon as I was way too busy to deal, and they agreed I should be on commercial rate but insisted only from the point of the March 2012 telephone call… some 18 months (and €15,000 later.)  They have told me that if I supply paperwork on older forms than I have currently found then they will reconsider… I have so far found 8 forms of various different revisions (though plenty from 2011 and 2013) .. and have 3 more boxes of paperwork to review.  The problem being there, is that there is half a tonne of concrete slabs in front of the boxes which was supposed to have been removed already.. didn’t stop them threatening to cut the power over Christmas, or adding nearly €300 in ‘other charges’ which in the fine print was for ‘legal services’… next thing for me is to charge them for the legal services relating to the fact they *still* are billing me on the incorrect rate and charging me interest on the invalid bill, and without a credit contract or credit control…. and they have the audacity to threaten me when they are illegally charging fees against an account they have failed to bill.  (Note: a judge confirmed my case as stated in December 2013, they are trying to negotiate a change to that judgement.)

Anyhow so there you go 2015 in a nutshell, the only thing I haven’t covered is I’ve changed from doing 70(ish) hours per week for my employer to more like 45 hours per week this has had a *massive* difference… nothing new has been developed by me, my paperwork has been done when other things have gone the wayside, and visa versa.  Finally with all the failures of the network most of the time I have had has been wasted trying to fix other peoples’ problems just so I can actually do my job.  Good job the service I am responsible for is in my control and not the control of others or the entire service would be long dead and gone by now.

Here’s hoping 2016 will bring more success.

Converting h.265 (HEVC) to h.264 (AVC)

Quick techie entry for anyone using the newer h265 codecs but unable to use them in players. (eg: Torrenting H265 encoded files then trying to play via PLEX and Roku)

Roku and other media players don’t support h.265 and as such any attempt to play h265 encoded files will result in an ‘Unable to play file’ error, so you might be wanting to convert the files to another format such as h.264.  To do this you need ffmpeg, however ffmpeg can be a little difficult to work, especially as it has so many options, so I wrote a little perl script to ‘mass convert’ all files in the current directory if they are h265 encoded to h264 encoding.  It is published here for those on UNIX systems (or those who know how to install Perl on Windows) to make life a little easier:


use strict;
use warnings;

open DIR, "ls -1 |";
while (<DIR>)
        next if ( -d "$_"); # skip directories
        next unless ( -r "$_"); # if it's not readable skip it!
        my $file = $_;
        open PROBE, "ffprobe -show_streams -of csv '$file' 2>/dev/null|" or die ("Unable to launch ffmpeg for $file! ($!)");
        my ($v, $a, $s, @c) = (0,0,0);
        while (<PROBE>)
                my @streaminfo = split(/,/, $_);
                push(@c, $streaminfo[2]) if ($streaminfo[5] eq "video");
                $a++ if ($streaminfo[5] eq "audio");
                $s++ if ($streaminfo[5] eq "subtitle");
        close PROBE;
        $v = scalar @c;
        if (scalar @c eq 1 and $c[0] eq "ansi")
                warn("Text file detected, skipping...\n");
        warn("$file: Video Streams: $v, Audio Streams: $a, Subtitle Streams: $s, Video Codec(s): " . join (", ", @c) . "\n");
        if (scalar @c > 1)
                warn("$file has more than one video stream, bailing!\n");
        if ($c[0] eq "hevc")
                warn("HEVC detected for $file ...converting to AVC...\n");
                system("mkdir -p h265");
                my @params = ("-hide_banner", "-threads 2");
                push(@params, "-map 0") if ($a > 1 or $s > 1 or $v > 1);
                push(@params, "-c:a copy") if ($a);
                push(@params, "-c:s copy") if ($s);
                push(@params, "-c:v libx264 -pix_fmt yuv420p") if ($v);
                if (system("mv '$file' 'h265/$file'"))
                        warn("Error moving $file -> h265/$file\n");
                if (system("ffmpeg -xerror -i 'h265/$file' " . join(" ", @params) . " '$file' 2>/dev/null"))
                        warn("FFMPEG ERROR.  Cannot convert $file restoring original...\n");
                        system("mv 'h265/$file' '$file'");
        } else {
                warn("$file doesn't appear to need converting... Skipping...\n");
close DIR;


HBSC Swieqi the target of tunnellers a second time!

Following a number of complaints about a new generator that appeared and has been running non stop for 3 day Swieqi local council ordered an investigation into its purpose and uncovered a government plot to get HSBC Malta to pay for their electricity bills.

Unidentified Plant that "Appeared"
Unidentified Plant that “Appeared”

Council investigators were called to investigate why a new piece of machinery had been surreptitiously installed on a piece of undeveloped ground near the new Swieqi Police station and left running spewing thick diesel smoke into the local area.  Investigators found the plant was powering tunnelling machinery building the new Malta-Sicily Electricity inter-connector.  This publication though can now reveal that the weekend work has been to secretly re-deploy the tunnelling machines on a ‘side project’ and tunnel to into the vault of the HSBC Bank on the St Andrews Road, Swieqi in a daring attempt a government bank robbery with the striking similarity to the recent amateur attempt exposed just last year in 2013.

It is believed this government scheme has been actioned to pay off the mounting energy bills of the ruling parties.  Whether this is a PL, PN or both scheme this publication is unsure as a recent article on the Malta Independent indicate that the PL (Party Labour) owe around 600,000 Euros whilst the PN (Party National) owe in excess of 1,900,000 Euros for their energy consumption.  One also has to consider that the tunnelling project was started under a PN government and during the recent elections the PL gained power and took over the project.  Of course we also know that

Police Uncover Tunnel Entrance.
Police Uncover Tunnel Entrance.

Enemalta, WSC and ARMS has debts in excess of 30,000,000 Euros so this also could be a raid to pay off it’s debts before the up and coming contract signing with the Chinese corporations buying into the energy supply company of Malta… only time will tell.  As of 14:30 today there has been no sign of police investigations despite country wide concern over the alleged robbery attempt, and with the recent change in Police Commissioners it seems more questions are raised than answered.

Our investigators are currently attempting to secure evidence to the organisers, but with Sicily just a small boat ride away our staff have been told to be careful about any questions they ask in the event that this is mob related and personal safety becomes an issue.

“DIY” cold waxing kits…



My night began as any other normal weeknight.

Come home, fix dinner, play with the kids. I then had the thought that would ring painfully in my mind for the next few hours: ‘Maybe I should pull the waxing kit out of the medicine cabinet. So I headed to the site of my demise: the bathroom. It was one of those ‘cold wax’ kits. No melting a clump of hot wax, you just rub the strips together in your hand, they get warm and you peel them apart and press them to your leg (or wherever else) and you pull the hair right off.

No muss, no fuss. How hard can it be? I mean, I’m not a genius, but I am mechanically inclined enough to figure this out.  (YA THINK!?!)

So I pull one of the thin strips out. Its two strips facing each other stuck together. Instead of rubbing them together, my genius kicks in so I get out the hair dryer and heat it to 1000 degrees. (‘Cold wax,’ yeah…right!) I lay the strip across my 20 thigh. Hold the skin around it tight and pull. It works!

OK, so it wasn’t the best feeling, but it wasn’t too bad. I can do this! Hair removal no longer eludes me!

I am She-rah, fighter of all wayward body hair and maker of smooth skin extraordinaire.

With my next wax strip I move north. After checking on the kids, I sneak back into the bathroom, for the ultimate hair fighting championship. I drop my panties and place one foot on the toilet.

Using the same procedure, I apply the wax strip across the right side of my bikini line, covering the right half of my hoo-ha and stretching down to the inside of my butt cheek (it was a long strip) I inhale deeply and brace myself….RRRRIIIPPP!!!!

I’m blind!!! Blinded from pain!!!!….OH MY GAWD!!!!!!!!!

Vision returning, I notice that I’ve only managed to pull off half the strip. CRAP! Another deep breath and RIPP! Everything is spinning and spotted.

I think I may pass out…..must stay conscious…must stay conscious. Do I hear crashing drums??? Breathe, breathe…OK, back to normal. I want to see my trophy – a wax covered strip, the one that has caused me so much pain, with my hairy pelt sticking to it. I want to revel in the glory that is my triumph over body hair…
I hold up the strip!…..

There’s no hair on it…!

Where is the hair??? WHERE IS THE WAX???

Slowly I ease my head down, foot still perched on the toilet. I see the hair. The hair that should be on the strip…it’s not! I touch. I am touching wax.

I run my fingers over the most sensitive part of my body, which is now covered in cold wax and matted hair. Then I make the next BIG mistake… remember my foot is still propped upon the toilet? I know I need to do something. So I put my foot down.

Sealed shut! My butt is sealed shut. Sealed shut!

I penguin walk around the bathroom trying to figure out what to do and think to myself  “Please don’t let me get the urge to poop..”

My head may pop off!’ What can I do to melt the wax?

Hot water!! Hot water melts wax!! I’ll run the hottest water I can stand, into the bathtub, get in, immerse the wax-covered bits and the wax should melt and I can gently wipe it off, right??? *WRONG!!!!!!!*

I get in the tub – the water is slightly hotter than that used to torture prisoners of war or sterilize surgical equipment – I sit.

Now, the only thing worse than having your nether regions glued together, is having them glued together and then glued to the bottom of the tub….in scalding hot water.

Which, by the way, doesn’t melt cold wax.

So, now I’m stuck to the bottom of the tub as though I had cemented myself to the porcelain!! God bless the man who had convinced me a few months ago to have a phone put in the bathroom!!!!!

I call my friend, thinking surely she has waxed before and has some secret of how to get me u ndone. It’s a very good conversation starter. ‘So, my butt and hoo-ha are glued together to the bottom of the tub!’

There is a slight pause. She doesn’t know any secret tricks for removal but she does try to hide her laughter from me.

She wants to know exactly where the wax is located, Are we talking cheeks or hoo-ha?’

She’s laughing out loud by now . I can hear her. I give her the rundown and she suggests I call the number on the side of the box. YEAH!!!!! Right!! I should be the joke of someone else’s night.

While we go through various solutions. I resort to trying to scrape the wax off with a razor. Nothing feels better than to have your girlie goodies covered in hot wax, glued shut, stuck to the tub in super hot water and then dry-shaving the sticky wax off!! By now the brain is not working, dignity has taken a major hike and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need Post-Traumatic Stress counseling for this event.

My friend is still talking with me when I finally see my saving grace….the lotion they give you to remove the excess wax. What do I really have to lose at this point? I rub some on and OH MY GOD!!!!!!! The scream probably woke the kids and scared the dickens out of my friend. It’s sooo painful, but I really don’t care.


It works !!’ I get a hearty congratulation from my friend and she hangs up. I successfully remove the remainder of the wax and then notice to my grief and despair… THE HAIR IS STILL THERE…….ALL OF IT!  So I recklessly shave it off. Heck, I’m numb by now. Nothing hurts. I could have amputated my own leg at this point.

Next week I’m going to try hair color……

Note: Not my story, it came from Google! 😉

To VEET or not to VEET that is the agony…



After having been told my danglies looked like an elderly Rastafarian I decided to take the plunge and buy some of this as previous shaving attempts had only been mildly successful and I nearly put my back out trying to reach…the more difficult bits. Being a bit of a romantic I thought I would do the deed on the missus’s birthday as a bit if a treat.

I ordered it well in advance and working in the North Sea I considered myself a bit above some of the characters writing the previous reviews and wrote them off as soft office types…Oh my fellow sufferers how wrong I was. I waited until the other half was tucked up in bed and after giving some vague hints about a special surprise I went down to the bathroom. Initially all went well and I applied the gel and stood waiting for something to happen. I didn’t have long to wait.At first there was a gentle warmth which in a matter of seconds was replaced by an intense burning and a feeling I can only describe as like being given a barbed wire wedgie by two people intent on hitting the ceiling with my head. Religion hadn’t featured much in my life until that night but I suddenly became willing to convert to any religion to stop the violent burning around the turd tunnel and what seemed like the the destruction of the meat and two veg. Struggling not to bite through my bottom lip I tried to wash the gel off in the sink and only succeeded in blocking the plughole with a mat of hair. Through the haze of tears I struggled out of the bathroom across the hall into the kitchen, by this time walking was not really possible and I crawled the final yard to the fridge in the hope of some form of cold relief. I yanked the freezer drawer out and found a tub of ice cream, toe the lid off and positioned it under me. The relief was fantastic but only temporary as it melted fairly quickly and the fiery stabbing returned. Due to the shape of the ice cream tub I hadn’t managed to give the starfish any treatment and I groped around in the draw for something else as I was sure my vision was going to fail fairly soon. I grabbed a bag of what I later found out was frozen sprouts and tore it open trying to be quiet as I did so. I took a handful of them and an tried in vain to clench some between the cheeks of my arse. This was not doing the trick as some of the gel had found its way up the chutney channel and it felt like the space shuttle was running its engines behind me.

This was probably and hopefully the only time in my life I was going to wish there was a gay snowman in the kitchen which should give you some idea of the depths I was willing to sink to in order to ease the pain. The only solution my pain crazed mind could come up with was to gently ease one of the sprouts where no veg had gone before.

Unfortunately, alerted by the strange grunts coming from the kitchen the other half chose that moment to come and investigate and was greeted by the sight of me, arse in the air, strawberry ice cream dripping from my bell end pushing a sprout up my arse while muttering “ooooohhh that feels good” Understandably this was a shock to her and she let out a scream and as I hadn’t heard her come in it caused an involuntary spasm of shock in myself which resulted in the sprout being ejected at quite some speed in her direction. I can understand that having a sprout fired against your leg at 11 at night in the kitchen probably wasn’t the special surprise she was expecting and having to explain to the kids the next day what the strange hollow in the ice cream was didn’t improve my status…so to sum it up, VEET removes hair, dignity and self-respect.

On a more personal note, I hate sprouts and therefore do not have any in the freezer, that is the extent of the differences in my experience of the same! 😉


Thank you Kevin Agius for finding this!