Thursday, April 10, 2014

Going Above and Beyond at the Office

This morning my other half had to be on the south side so he dropped me at work early on the way through the city. 

Rocking up an hour early for my shift, I felt virtuous as I strode through the door with some raisin toast clutched in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, ready to tackle some emails. 

Astonishingly most people were already there. I usually arrive at work 15mins early to log in and make a cuppa. Turns out my coworkers are putting in extra hours every single day - for no overtime pay. 

Now I have a strict policy when it comes to this sort of thing. That is, I just don't do it. No matter how far behind on my work I get, I resist the temptation to start coming in early or staying late. In my opinion, you've got to be in the higher pay grades than I currently am to have that expected of you. And that path, folks, is a slippery slope downwards to high blood pressure and stress leave. I've seen it and I don't like what it does to a person's work-life balance. 

Well, I just re-read this and don't I sound like a slacko? But you know what? If I was ten years younger and being paid a bit more maybe I would be doing ten hour days trying to get ahead. 

But I'm not, so I don't. I give 110% in the hours I'm there, I reckon that's enough. I value my down time so much more than helping my employer fill their corporate coffers with the last drops of blood they can squeeze from me, their little worker stone. So I guess if you want a super-keen, over-achieving busy bee that'll stay back at the office to get a little more work done, don't look at me. 

I'll be at home, eating chocolate and watching a cooking show.  And work will be the last thing on my mind. 

Do you put in extra hours? Is it worth it?


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sarah Suggests: Game of Thrones

I've written before about how big a fan I am of the Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire books. However the TV series has its own merits, and I'd like to commend Season 4 to you, which starts tomorrow April 6 (US) and April 7 (Australia).

Why? People will say to you "Oh, that show has so much violence/gore/nudity/sex!". Or they will say it's got a complicated plot. Both these things are true.

But then again, both these things are true of House of Cards or True Detective

At the end of the day, if you enjoy amazing acting, characters you can really love/hate/love/hate, production on an epic scale, beautiful locations, exquisite costuming and dragons, you should be watching this show.

I will only say - perhaps don't join in on Season 4. Binge watch from Season 1, you'll thank me.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Earth Hour 2014

Did you participate in Earth Hour this year? I know some people go to the city to watch the lights go out in the buildings. What a great lesson to teach your kids.

This year, we at Casa de Surely Sarah decided to do a little experiment. It involved trying to gauge just how much energy we waste on electrical devices.

Being the frugal person that I am, I wanted to know what was sucking the most power in our house - because our electricity bill at present is enough to give any normal person a heart attack.

So, at 8.30pm, I got out our little electricity meter (obtained via a city council "green" initiative a few years ago), lit some candles and turned everything off.

Here's the numbers for what happened next:

Initial reading (all devices on, air con on, lights on, tv on)

Everything off
 (at this point C drove himself into a frenzy trying to figure out where that 0.059kW of energy was coming from - we never did find it)


+Computer powerboard


+Water cooler

+Fridge and Freezer

+Air con

What did we learn? Well, for one thing, that lights don't contribute much, but added up with power points with standby power they do contribute to energy use. The water cooler was a surprise - it's on 24/7 so may have to rethink how much power it uses. One thing we did know already was that our fridge and freezer aren't very energy efficient and we need to look at replacing them.

And of course, air conditioning is the main culprit. We do tend to switch it on more than we should, so maybe this stark reminder of how much it costs us might help us use it less!

Did you participate in Earth Hour? What do you do when the lights are out?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Movie review: Divergent

On Monday night, I was lucky enough to secure tickets to a preview screening of Divergent. It's the latest in what I hope will be a new genre - the young adult action movie. Many people seem to want to compare it to The Hunger Games, but I'd like to say at the outset - this is not Panem!

Divergent's story centres on a girl named Tris. She lives in a post-war dystopian future, in the remains of the city of Chicago. Society is split into "factions" based on personality, in an attempt to foster peace and cooperation. When children come of age, they get to choose whether to stay in the faction they were born into, or leave their families to join another.

Tris (or Beatrice, as she was born) comes from a faction called Abnegation, which idealises selflessness. She makes the decision to leave and join Dauntless, the warrior faction, who value bravery. She soon finds herself caught up in what may become a faction war.

The movie is based on the first of a series Young Adult fiction novels by Veronica Roth. As a fan of the books, I was happy to discover that the movie is very book-faithful. I believe fans of the novels will be happy with both the casting and also the screenplay. But non-book viewers will also enjoy it, because it is a damn good movie - lots of action and even a little romance.

I took my husband along so I'm using him as a yardstick for the general audience. He went in expecting to see something along the lines of The Hunger Games and came out quite surprised and impressed that it wasn't. We spent ages in the car on the way home debating the lessons and morals of the movie, not coming to any firm conclusions!

The standout in this film is the performance of Shailene Woodley as Tris. She really is fantastic - I couldn't take my eyes off her every time she was onscreen. I predict she may be the next big thing - look out for her in the upcoming adaptation of John Green's hugely popular YA novel The Fault in Our Stars.

And I also have to make mention of the music - yes, I'm a soundtrack geek. I really loved the music in this movie, it was beautiful.  Ellie Goulding's "Beating Heart" is a standout. Watch the lyric video with added movie goodness below.

So, go see this movie if you like stories about strong girls who make their own choices, or if you like a bit of post-apocalyptic action, or both!

If you've seen it, let me know what you think! Are you a fan of the book? 

*Disclosure: not sponsored, but I received a free double-pass to the film thanks to Review Brisbane


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Online vs Real Life Friends

I've been on the Internet for a few years now. Let's just say it's been more than a decade! And I realized something yesterday - I still have trouble referring to my "internet friends" in real-life conversations.  I was talking about a recipe someone tweeted, but couldn't quite bring myself to say to my boss that I'd seen it on twitter, so I said I saw it in a magazine. Why? All I know is that I was afraid of a funny look, because I suspect that their online life extends to a bit of Facebook and the rest of the web is a dangerous and mysterious place to them. 

In previous years too, if I was chatting with someone and knew some tidbit of gossip about a current issue from livejournal (back in the day), I'd say that I heard it "somewhere". I wouldn't have said "my Internet friend who lives in America told me".

Then last year, I saw a tweet from a guy that said "Just so you know, I refer to all you twitter friends as just 'friends' when I talk about you. It's just easier." Oh my goodness. Lightbulb! 

So now I try and do that. In conversation, YOU - dear person I know from online - are my friend who made an interesting recipe last night, or saw the movie I want to see, or went to a cool place that I want to go to too. 

The great thing is knowing people from online is fast losing ita stigma. Ten years ago if you said you were meeting up with someone you met on the Internet, you'd be warned about axe murderers. Now, going to an Instagram meetup or tweetup is not unusual!

Do you call your internet friends your friends? Or do you still hesitate?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Be good at stuff

I had a workmate once who made the most awesome cob loaf dip.  You know the one. The one so full of deliciousness you gained a kilo looking at it.

The problem with being good at something is you get a reputation for it. And people keep asking you to do that thing. So every time we had a morning tea, workmates would ask her to make it. And because the ingredients cost so much, she began to feel really pressured into making it all the time at her own personal expense - just because everyone wanted to shovel it into their mouths on their way back from the photocopier. In the end she stopped making it.

She got almost TOO good at something. People wanted more of it. That became problematic, so she didn't want to do it any more. What's the moral? Never let on you're good at something. No, wait, that sounds wrong. I think it is: use your talent, share it as you will, but don't let people dictate what you do with it.

Like the old saying goes, the reward for good work is usually more work. And that's ace, whether you're an artist or cake decorator or accountant. But everyone needs to draw their own line as to how much of a good thing is enough. Don't risk burnout simply because people are demanding it of you.

What are you good at? Do you find yourself doing too much of it?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Getting Myself Together

Lately I've identified that a lot of my stress both at home and at work come from feeling so many things are OUT OF MY CONTROL. I feel lost and helpless sometimes.

At work, I have been trying to start each day with a plan, because focusing on executing said plan does actually help to get stuff done. It also helps me realise that some stuff IS not able to be controlled or influenced by me, and thus I need to just let it go.

Which leads me to my next problem - home-related stress. I need to Get It Together, gurl.

I'm not sure when I started watching Filofax decoration vids on YouTube, but somehow I discovered this whole personal organiser subculture and kind of fell into it. I became convinced that somehow, a physical, paper, hard copy organiser would help me gain some control of my domestic life, where other digital options had failed. Yes, I've tried Evernote. I do use my iPhone calendar, but only because I have a memory like a sieve.

So, I ordered one of the cheaper Filofaxes, the Domino. In pink. Hey, it was half price and it's pretty. So now I'm waiting for it to arrive, and planning how I'm going to decorate it (of course).

I'll let you know if it changes my life.

Meanwhile, here is my fave Filofax YouTuber's channel, mits t. I like her stuff.

Are you, or WERE you, a personal organiser fan?


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