Nine months.

No, I’m not pregnant. That’s how long Darrin’s been out of work. He’s driving buses again, this time for a private company that mainly does charters.

The last two mornings, he’s had to get up at 6 am to start work at 7. So now we have to work out how to be a ‘normal’ family – you know, the kind where Dad gets up and goes to work, and Mum is home with the kids all day.

I’m not sure I know how to do this. The last time Darrin had a job with daytime hours, at least regular daytime hours, was before Chuckie was born. All I remember is how we’ve done things since he’s been working afternoons/nights.

Lots of things will have to change. The meal planning, the homeschooling routine, the fact that now I have to use my own car during the day instead of his (which has much better fuel economy and is WAY more fun to drive). I don’t expect to get the hang of it all in a couple of days. This will be an ongoing process of trial and error, till we find out what works best for us.

The first day went pretty much okay. The second day a little less so. Today…well, we take Fridays off school so at least there’s less to have to remind the kids about. But we take Fridays off because we have activities, which means leaving the house. We shall see.

Everything I hate about this house

I need to have a whinge every once in a while about how crappy this house is, because we desperately need to move somewhere bigger, but:

  • Both of us only have Centrelink income at the moment, which is unlikely to look good on a home loan application.
  • The housing market is pretty hot right now. Even if we sold this house and had a decent amount to put down as a result, how can we know any of our offers would be accepted?
  • Yes, we’ve thought about selling and renting somewhere, but we have cats, one of which uses the lounge room as her toilet. It’s hard enough to find a rental at the moment if you DON’T have pets.

So most of these things could be fixed, yes, but it’s not worth it when we plan to move as soon as we’re able to. A lot of these things would cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to fix. Which is hundreds or thousands of dollars LESS we’ll have when it comes time to buy a new place.

    1. It’s too small. Six people and all their stuff just doesn’t fit in a house that’s no bigger than 90 square metres (about 970 square feet).
    2. We only have two electrical circuits that actually work.
    3. The back door is literally falling apart.
    4. No garage.
    5. No front fence.
    6. Not enough covered space outdoors to hang washing during winter.
    7. The light circuit freaks out whenever a light globe blows and shuts off.
    8. The light fixture in the dining room (which we actually just use for computers) doesn’t even work.
    9. There’s a possum who lives in the wall between the bathroom and the dining/computer room.
    10. Louvred windows in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and toilet.
    11. Enormous concrete double sink in the laundry, which should be awesome except…the drain is blocked, so we just pile stuff on top of it.
    12. The heater can’t be set to more than about 18 degrees (64 F) on the coldest nights (when it gets down to freezing or just below), or it’ll throw a fit and shut off completely.
    13. Gravity fed hot water system.
    14. It’s always either JUST too hot or JUST too cold getting the shower temperature just right.
    15. Separate hot & cold taps in the bathroom. So you either freeze your hands when washing them, or start by freezing them and then slowly work up to burning them.
    16. Tiles falling off the wall in the bathroom.
    17. Paint peeling off the bathroom ceiling, because there’s no exhaust fan in there.
    18. I had to convert my built in wardrobe into a second pantry because there’s not enough space in the two cupboards in the kitchen.
    19. Speaking of the kitchen, when we had 3 fully working circuits, I had two power points in there. We had double adapters on both to take it to four (one for fridge, one freezer, one for the microwave, one spare). Now that the third circuit has crapped out, I have zero power points.
    20. Because of where my Thermomix is, I have to run a cable from the dining/computer room into the kitchen.
    21. The kitchen cupboard doors keep falling off, because they’ve fallen off and been put back on multiple times.
    22. We have to run an extension cord from Caleb’s room into the laundry room in order to do laundry, because – you guessed it – the two laundry power points are on the third inactive circuit.
    23. Oh, and we have to run another extension cable from Caleb’s room to power the fridge and freezer.
    24. Because of the electrical circuit situation, I can’t do washing at night or early in the morning when the bedroom heaters are on. Well, I could, if I wanted to trip the circuit.
    25. Everything about this house screams ‘afterthought.’
    26. The side fences are falling down.
    27. The house faces southwest, which is great when the cool change comes in – the fresh breeze blows through the whole house. Well, it does the same thing with all the windows and doors closed when we have a cold northeast wind in the winter. And it’s FREEZING.
    28. The oven door doesn’t shut properly, thanks to a toddler who used to climb up on it and bounce. It’s also coming apart.
    29. Chuckie & Micah’s room has a sliding door, which Elijah knows how to operate, so he gets in and plays with stuff he shouldn’t.
    30. This photo. See that corner with the bench space, next to the oven and the sink section? Do you know what’s UNDER that corner bench? Scroll down to find out…

 

NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! What a complete waste of space.

Things I DO like about this house:

  • It’s a great location. Close to public transport, shops, playgrounds.
  • It’s a good sized block.
  • The neighbours are generally quiet.

So have we thought about knocking down and rebuilding? Yes, but…

  • We’d still have to rent somewhere for about 6 months, which would cost a lot of money, and see above about the cat with toilet problems.
  • We’d either have to have a LOT of money saved up to put down on the building costs, which takes a long time, or increase our loan to the point it’s too big a percentage of our income and/or takes too long to pay off.

So yeah. We’re kinda stuck right now. And it sucks.

Proof that Facebook is censoring vaccine hesitancy

Today, Project Veritas released a new video showing proof that Facebook is censoring comments expressing ‘vaccine hesitancy.’ Two whistleblowers have come forward and leaked documents exposing the algorithm that scores comments on a ‘vaccine hesitancy’ scale. Watch it yourself below.

Blogging again.

So I’m blogging again. Or I will be. I guess technically I am right now.

But yeah, here we go. Because I don’t trust Facebook to keep the rules the same from day to day. Because almost all my friends are still on Facebook and Instagram. Because even if a lot of my friends do switch to something like Gab or MeWe, I still don’t have control over those websites. So I can write whatever I want here and I’ll never get cancelled or put in Facebook jail or anything stupid like that. The only person I have to worry about offending is my sysadmin, and I’m married to him, so he can just deal with it. 😉

How I’m weaning myself from Big Tech

Big Tech is getting to be a problem for many people. No doubt you’ve heard rumblings of censorship in the last few months. Big tech companies are getting into every part of our lives, and many of us want to get away from that.

But how, when they’re so pervasive? Facebook and Google track you everywhere you go. When you come across a recommended product online, it’s usually an Amazon link. Microsoft struck deals years ago with PC and laptop manufacturers which requires Windows to be installed on new computers. If you dare to remove it to use another operating system, you void the warranty.

The five biggest tech companies in the world right now are Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Let’s go through each of them one at a time.

Big Tech and the alternatives I’m using

AppleApple logo

I haven’t used an Apple device in years. I got an iPhone when I was pregnant and stressed 9 years ago (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!) and regretted it within 6 months. About two years later, I switched to an Android device. I gave away the iPhone to someone who was looking for one and have never looked back.

Apple severely limits what you’re able to do with your own device that YOU purchased and own. You can jailbreak it and gain a little more control, but not much.

Microsoft

Apart from an Android keyboard on my phone (which I’m trying to find a replacement for), I also haven’t used Microsoft in years. We haven’t had Windows installed on even a laptop since 2016. The only thing I ever used Windows for was to file my taxes, and in 2016, the ATO released their online tax filing. Which meant I never had to use Windows again to file my taxes. Yay!

Microsoft logo

So what do I use on my home computer if not Apple or Microsoft products? Open source software. Until 2016, it was FreeBSD (a version of Unix). Since 2016, it’s been Linux. Free alternatives for everything you can imagine exist on Linux. In fact, I can’t think of a single instance that I can’t find a suitable replacement for an Apple or Microsoft product.

My husband and kids still use one Microsoft-owned product, but I don’t think they’ll be getting off Minecraft anytime soon. 😉

AmazonAmazon Kindle

Ooh, this one hurts. I loved having Prime, especially living in Australia where shipping costs an arm and a leg. But I can’t support a company anymore that actively discourages free speech. So today, I closed my Amazon account for good. I’m still sorting out where I’m going to buy books and things from. I’d prefer to buy from within Australia to support our own economy and to save on shipping costs. If you have a good recommendation, let me know in the comments!

And before you say Book Depository because they have free shipping worldwide, guess what…Amazon owns them too. 🙁

Google

This one’s going to be hard. But we’ve been slowly working toward getting off Google for years.

My husband has always been about free, open software, so he’s been looking for (and using) big tech alternatives since before we met. We’ve always had our own email servers, and apart from using a hosting service for my business websites for a few years, we’ve managed our own web server as well. For a while this was at home, but the downfall of that is if the power goes out (which it often can over summer), we can’t access our own email or websites. So a few years ago, he found what’s called a VPS (Virtual private server) provider called Vultr to host our services on.

All of our websites (including the one you’re reading this on!) are hosted on our Vultr servers.

He set up our own Nextcloud server a few years ago. Nextcloud is an open source alternative to many services – calendar, file storage, chat, email, bookmarks, and more. It offers so many options I can’t even list them all! Nextcloud is completely free, and you manage it yourself so you know exactly who’s looking at your data.

Nextcloud even offers an app for your phone, so you can automatically upload photos you take and save them to your own personal cloud! You can install a gallery plugin to share photos with others as well.

More Google alternatives

As far as using Google sites themselves, for a start, I’ve switched my default search engine to DuckDuckGo everywhere that I can. Yes, even Chrome will let you do this. You can also install the DuckDuckGo browser on your phone, which also blocks big tech third party trackers like Google, Facebook, and Amazon by default.

But of course, there are some Google sites that we can’t replicate at home. YouTube, for one. It’s full of all kinds of content, useful for personal growth, education, entertainment, and news. A couple of people I follow have cloned their channels on a site called LBRY so I’m keeping an eye on that one now.

And I have an Android phone. Which is Google. I can’t get away from Google entirely, but I can choose what device I use, based on whether or not it can be rooted (this means being able to gain control of the full device and install your own operating system on it). My current phone can be, and at some point in the near future (once I get the nerve to actually do it!) I’ll back everything up and install Lineage OS. Lineage OS allows you to choose how much Google you want on your Android phone. Yes, that means you can actually uninstall Google apps and not just disable them!

Facebook

Of all the big tech companies out there, this one might be the hardest to get rid of. Almost everyone I know is on Facebook. I’m in dozens of groups for homeschoolers, co-ops, budgeting, friends, and the list goes on. Almost my entire family is on Facebook. It’s just one of those things people have come to expect.

But isn’t it creepy when you mention something to a friend, and a few minutes later an ad shows up on Facebook for exactly what you were talking about? They’re always listening.

Alternatives to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

But there are alternatives popping up. Parler is a popular one similar to Twitter. They made the news recently due to a mass-exodus from Twitter. Then, the Parler app was removed from Apple and Google stores, and Amazon revoked their hosting account. They’re back online as of yesterday, but the platform will take a while to rebuild.

Gab is an option similar to Facebook. Gab was banned from app stores several years ago, when they refused to enact censorship on their platform. So they built their own servers and run everything themselves. Andrew Torba, the founder of Gab, calls it a free speech platform. That means that all speech which is protected by the US constitution is also allowed on Gab. They are funded 100% by user donations.

But my favourite Facebook alternative so far is MeWe. It’s free with a paid option, they don’t advertise to you, and they don’t ban you for daring to question what you see and hear in mainstream media.

MeWe offers groups, pages (for a monthly fee), chat, and events. There isn’t a separate app for chat, so it’s only one app to install on your phone.

It IS possible to wean yourself off big tech.

It’ll take a while, and you have to be persistent, but you can do it. Slowly but surely.

If you’re keen to explore social media outside of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, I’ve created a group on MeWe called Easily Sorted SAHM community. This is where I’ll be sharing content about being a mum, working at home, homeschooling, budgeting, meal planning, all the things. Join us!