Friday, September 30, 2011

Polly Dolly: Denim Skirt

I have spent FAR too much time on Polyvore tonight picking out this set. God I wish I had money.

I decided on light versus dark denim, mainly because it's something I don't currently own and wanted to see how I would accessorise it. By sheer blind chance, I chose an Alexander McQueen piece! As usual, I found myself leaning towards pastels and beige in the outfit etc. It's sickness, I know. I would wear this in spring to go for coffee, or shopping. In this perfect world, I have no trouble wearing wedges you see...

One other thing you will note is my enduring love of all this Hermes - how gorgeous is the gold bracelet?

Denim Skirt

Linking up with Danimezza's Polly Dolly challenge.

PS - this is my 99th post! I had no idea I was so close to 100, now I will have to thing of something special to blog!

The working week

I have been proud of myself lately for being more consistent with my blogging. The reason for more blog posts was that I had finally figured out a way to make use of work time when I have nothing to do more productive. As there is really no real work reporting or filing or graph-creating I can do (my normal fall-back when work is quiet) I have decided to use it for personal productivity. Thus, I have been drafting blog posts in between calls and taking payments, and also using the time to actually read some blogs as well.

I don’t feel guilty about this because, well, there is not much else that I could be doing, and in essence I would be sitting at my desk twiddling my thumbs. However, my scheme was thrown into disarray this week due to the introduction of a trainee. Fortunately I’ve been able to share the training with my colleague, so the burden has been lighter, but as always for the first few days I have found it exhausting.

What is it about imparting knowledge that is so much more tiring than just talking? No wonder teachers are worn out all the time. I’ve trained a lot of people in my time in corporations, and although I enjoyed it at first (it appealed to my ego to be the “expert” in the room) I’m now totally over it.

This lassie made it a little easier this time by being bright, nice and experienced in accounts. All that was left to us to do was explain our company’s unique systems and “the way we do things here”. All in all it’s not been a total nightmare; however it has left me little time to write a blog. Really looking forward to the weekend, and doing something other than work!

How’s your week been?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Locomotion

This morning my commute was marred by a thoughtless person and their loud music. Undeterred, I put in my own earphones to try and at least counter their obnoxious rap with something more soothing. Luckily, playing my own music softly was enough to drown out their noise.

I ride daily in the "Quiet Carriage", a wonderful initiative of Queensland Rail and something I have been waiting for since discovering the “mobile-free” carriages on Virgin trains in the UK some years ago. I love the fact that most of the time, people talk quietly or not at all, and if they play music, it is done quietly. I’m free to read twitter or a book in peace, periodically staring out of the window and getting lost in daydreams.

I have always enjoyed the romanticism of train travel. Stretching back to my childhood to when I first read Murder on the Orient Express, locomotives have always held a certain charm. I enjoy the rhythmic sound of the wheels on the track, the speed which makes the countryside fly past, the relentless movement in a certain direction. You know where trains are going, and can have faith that they will stop – unlike buses, which make me uneasy. You never know where a bus is going to go. This love of trains has recently inspired a desire to travel one of Australia’s great rail journeys – we have quite a few, but I would love to go on The Ghan. Cutting Australia down the middle, The Ghan takes travelers on a trip through the heart of the outback in style. My mother was lucky enough to be chosen as a travel companion for my nanna on one of her last trips, and they went Gold Class all the way – needless to say, I was jealous of her tales of silver, linen napkins, sparkling glassware, amazing wine and an evening turndown service.

And of course there are the other great rail journeys of the world – The Rocky Mountains, The New Zealand Trans-Alpine, The Trans-Siberian railway – and yes, even the Orient Express. All beckon me with the promise of experiencing something not quite a part of this modern world of planes, buses and cars. Trains, despite my daily commute, retain a certain something of the past to me, leftover from an era when the great locomotives of Europe ran from Istanbul to Calais, and men in three piece suits enjoyed a cigar after dinner with their brandy.

Have you been on any great train journeys?

Friday, September 23, 2011

They're Everywhere

Yesterday one of my workmates laughed at me for using a paper towel to open the ladies’ bathroom door when exiting. I simply turned to her and asked if she was aware how many people don’t wash their hands after using the toilet. She looked completely flabbergasted, like she had never even considered this. I don’t consider myself a germaphobe, but I do have a thing about door handles. I just don’t like to touch them, unless they are in my own house! I keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer on my desk at work because by the time I ride the train, go up in the lift and walk into my office my hands just feel GROSS when I think of everything I touched.

Seriously, isn’t this something everyone thinks about? I can only vouch for the number of ladies I see not washing their hands, but my partner tells me that men are worse. He reckons more than half of them don’t wash their hands after number 1s. Ugh. At our work, I have not only the bathroom door to negotiate but two additional doors to use to get back to my desk, one of which is requires a security card. You can see me, right? Paper towel grasped in one hand, the other groping for my pass card to swipe in my access. No wonder people think I’m mad.

That’s why I love shopping centres with walk-in bathrooms. For the ones that don’t, I often wonder why they don’t design the doors so that they swing OUT on exit, so you can push it with your clothed elbow or shoed foot. No need for grasping actual door handles to pull them inwards, thus touching the same surface with your bare hands that the person before you didn’t dry properly so it is slightly wet *shudder*

Strangely, I’m not such a Nazi about things like ATM keys (breeding grounds for bacteria according to Today Tonight), escalator rails, lift buttons or train poles. If I’m going to become a true germaphobe, clearly I am going to have to work on this. Maybe I could wear one of those surgical masks in winter to stop myself catching the flu from people coughing their airborne viruses on the train. Hmm.

Are you afraid of germs? Do you use sanitizer?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Talking the talk

This morning, I was making a cup of tea in the work kitchen when a colleague came in. I didn’t really look up or make eye contact, being focused on stirring my Dilmah. I braced myself for the inevitable “Good morning! How are you?” but it never came. Grateful, I finished making my cuppa in blissful silence. For once, I had stumbled on someone who didn’t want to make small talk, whether through tiredness, laziness, rudeness or just plain failure to give-a-shit I don’t know, but I was happy with it.

I really hate small talk. I don’t just find it annoying or hard, I hate it. I recognize there’s a place for it in our interactions, and that it helps fill the gaps when you don’t know somebody very well or have to kill time, but I still reserve the right to dislike it immensely.

Small talk is hard for me. I think the main issue is, I just don’t care. If you’re not a close friend or family member, I don’t care how you’ve been, what you did on the weekend, or how you had your sister come to visit. I am not going to ask you whether you have any kids, or where you live. In the office on Monday mornings I actually dread people asking me about my weekend because frankly, I don’t think it’s any of their business. The most you might get out of me in response to the old standby “How was your weekend?” might be “yeah, good”.

What is priceless though is the person’s face when they realize I’m not going to ask them how theirs was in return. They stand there all expectantly; answer prepared in their head, ready to tell me about how they went on a picnic, or cleaned the pantry or some other intensely boring thing. I am probably a mean person, but I get a small satisfaction out of watching them squirm when I don’t reciprocate and ask them the question they most desire me too. Some even take things into their own hands after a few seconds and voluntarily start blurting things. It’s like they just can’t NOT SHARE every personal detail.

The other socially-expected behavior I won’t conform to is taking an interest in people’s leave or holidays. If I see someone at work back from a month off, I deliberately won’t ask them how their break was. I figure they will already have been asked a hundred times that day by workmates who probably care about the answer about as much as I do (very little) but are going through the motions anyway. I think I’m like this because I physically dread people asking me about my holidays after a long break. It grates on my nerves and annoys me no-end. I’m on tenterhooks the entire morning of my first day back, waiting for the barrage of “Oh hiiiiiii!! Good to have you baaaack! How was your holiday???”. They usually look disappointed when I say “good thanks”. Some feel impelled to ask for more information, because they CAN’T JUST LEAVE THE CONVERSATION THERE (why? Why do you even care to continue probing?) and ask “What did you get up to?”. So I tell them, but I’m watching their face and the entire time you can see they’re not actually listening, but preparing their own reply, which consists of what happened to THEM while I was away.

By now, I think you can tell that I am not the kind of person who makes conversation in queues, or talks to the people sitting next to me at the theatre. I try my very hardest to use the minimum of words with the supermarket checkout operator. Sometimes I even get away with not saying a word, just smiling thinly. Have you every NOT responded to someone who has asked how you are? It’s a very hard impulse to suppress, but sometimes I just do it to be perverse, or provoke a reaction. I like to think I’m conducting some kind of ethnographic study, however really I’m just amusing myself by being selfish and annoying.

I think I’ve blogged before about how my partner is the total opposite to me. He IS the kind of person who will make conversation in a queue. The King of Small Talk I call him. It’s just his nature to talk to people, any people. The guy behind the parts counter at Supercheap Auto, people at the table next to us at the Coffee Club, the owner of an interesting car that he spots in a car park – he talks to them all. I don’t begrudge him this talent, I really don’t, but because I’m not really interested I usually just stand there and try to look half-interested.

Sometimes I must admit, I trip up and do share some things via small talk. It’s usually if someone says something interesting, like if they have seen a movie I want to see and I will ask them what they thought. Or they’ve travelled somewhere I’m interested in going. On these occasions, I might venture to put forward an opinion of my own, and the talking moves beyond the realm of “small” into an actual conversation. That, I’m ok with.

I realize this post probably makes me sound like a monumentally rude cow. But honestly, I find small talk exhausting and uninteresting. How do you feel about it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A walk in the sun

Yesterday, feeling a bit sluggish, lethargic and frankly bored, I struck on the fantastic idea of walking across the river on my lunch break. Now, the weather in Brisbane has been FANTASTIC the past few days, (apart from a bit of smoky haze from pre-bushfire season back burning) so I was looking forward to getting some Vitamin D onto my skin from the sun.

I knew that there was a pedestrian footbridge built across the river a while ago, but was very vague on where it was. Google Maps to the rescue! I figured out it began at Tank St and goes across to GOMA. It’s called the Kurilpa Bridge and turns out it’s just two blocks from my work.

I took a few photos as I went, as I rarely get a chance to see Brisbane from the middle of the river. I only had half an hour, so regretfully I had to turn around at the GOMA end and hot-foot it back to the office. But I think this is something I might indulge in once a week when the weather’s good!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Runnin' up mah light bill

There's a bit in the The Original Kings of Comedy show that my fiancee has been over-quoting lately. It's basically about grandmothers and their propensity to berate about the power bill.

Everything you did over your mean grandmama's house gonna run up her light bill. "Don't you come in my house talking loud! You gonna f*ck around and run up my light bill! My light bill be sky high cause of yo' "

So now every time I forget to turn off a light before leaving the room, I get "Turn off that bulb! Yo' gonna run up mah light bill!"

In the past three years we have been living in our house, I have watched our electricity bills spiral out of control. At first we thought it was the pool pump, so we cut down the unnecessary hours that it was on. Then, we unplugged the second fridge under the patio – we aren’t really big drinkers so we didn’t have much booze that would require an entire other fridge. We tried to avoid using the dryer wherever possible and hang clothes on the line to dry, and attempted to rug up rather than switch on the heater in winter. To add insult to injury, we have a gas stove and solar hot water. So we are not even using power for those things to start with!

All of this to no avail. The electric bill continues to rise. In desperation, I booked a ClimateSmart home service. This is a Qld Government initiative similar to the water home service that was offered during the water restrictions a few years ago. For $50, a qualified man comes to your house and goes over your electricity usage. He gives you all this wonderful stuff:

[image: mine]

… plus gives you good advice on how to reduce your bill. All I wanted to know was which appliances sucked the most power, but the ClimateSmart man went above and beyond. He confirmed it wasn’t the pool pump or the dryer that was killing us – it’s our fridge and freezer. Apparently they’re pretty old and are just electricity guzzlers. He suggested replacing them and also installing another electricity meter, with the capability to monitor the times we use electricity – this will allow peak and off-peak billing through the electricity provider (hopefully our current one offers this, otherwise we’ll have to switch). Basically, for the outlay of a few hundred dollars, he estimated that we could cut our quarterly bills IN HALF.

So now it’s just a matter of deciding when to do these things – we’re trying to save for the wedding at present, but I really want to take on board his suggestions. And guess which item in our house sucks the most electricity of all? The electric kettle. Apparently it actually uses less power to boil a cup of water in the microwave!

Now C is obsessed with watching the little power meter, and getting it down as low as possible. It shows in cents how much electricity you are using at present, and it spikes up and down according to whether the kettle is on, the fridge is humming or the pool pump is working. After a week of meter-watching, I’m over the novelty of it I can tell you.

The one gadget I do like though is a remote control for your power switches. C has installed the little receiver plug on the outside carport light, so I can turn it on from inside the house with the remote, without having to grope about finding the garage switch in the dark. Wondrous technology!

Have you instituted any energy-smart behaviours or technology into your home?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book review - The Belgariad

Firstly, an explanation as to why my blog has been so quiet lately - I've been unwell. Add to that a sick partner and that translates into not much time online. Which has probably been good for me.

Today is my second day off work and I must admit, despite feeling the worst I have in a long time last night, I am feeling a heck of a lot better now, so I'm propping myself up on the PC to share with you what I've been reading lately.

When I was a teen, I discovered fantasy novels. I think it was my friends' parents collection that really inspired me - their entire office wall was a bookcase lined with fantasy and sci-fi. Both her mum and dad were huge Piers Anthony fans, but their reading tastes ranged far and wide across the genre. It was my friend's mum who first recommended to me authors like Tad Williams, Anne McCaffrey, Terry Pratchett (thank god, the covers scared me, and imagine what I would have missed out on!), Marion Zimmer Bradley, Stephen Lawhead, Raymond Feist,  and Ian Irvine.

Thank goodness she also recommended Eddings -ie. David & Leigh Eddings, authors of some of my favorite fantasy series.  I haven't read Eddings in years, but a few months ago I was at the Lifeline Bookfest trawling the fantasy/sci-fi table for any Pratchett. It was a hopeless search, I knew, as nobody EVER gives away Pratchett books (you can't find them in 2nd hand bookshops either, unless you're very lucky) but what caught my eye amoungst the usual mix of 80s sci-fi novels and 700 copies of "Magician" was Eddings. The books kept popping up - one from the Mallorean there, another from the Tamuli there. So I went through with a fine tooth comb and found all five of the Belgariad series, for $2 each. Resolving to read them exclusively in order, I went home pretty pleased with myself.

[image: mine]

I was a HUGE Eddings fan back in my Uni days - back when there were newsgroups, I used to be a regular poster on  We debated casting choices for future movies, argued over characters and plots, which series was best... it was great fun. And one of my first forays into the world of fandom I might add. This was before websites were actually good and Star Wars fans used to role play via mailing lists (yes, ok, I admit I did that too).

Anyway, back to my current re-read. A few months later, I'm still plunging onwards - but happy to report that I'm finally onto the fifth and last volume. I blame my stint of driving to work, but now I'm on public transport again it's much easier to allocate reading time. Disappointingly though that I am not enjoying the books as much as I remember that I used to. The writing is simplistic to the point of being juvenile, the dialogue irritating (being full of what I refer to as "Eddings wisdom") and half of the main characters just plain unlikable.  Now, unlikable characters have never stopped me before, so I have kept reading, mainly being driven on by the overarching good vs evil story line that will result in a clash of two destinies at the culmination of the series.

And I have started to question whether this series (and the ones that followed) are in fact Young Adult Fiction.  Young protagonist, put into a dangerous situation, learns he can stand on his own two feet... those of you who have read of Garion's adventures - what do you think? I always thought it was an adult fantasy series, but is iy really what we would now consider YA?

After this I'm going to start George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books - definitely no shying away from adult themes there. It's coming highly recommended by real-life AND fandom friends, so hopefully it will wash the taste of disappointment from my mouth that I get from Eddings not living up to my memories of it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

No money, Mo' Problems

Today I have a day off from work - it's a day in lieu as I worked the local show holiday last month. It comes at a timely moment following a few things that are pissing me off at work lately coming to a head yesterday. I tweeted about it but won't bore you with the details here. Let's just say that if I continue to be "spoken to" about bathroom breaks I'm looking for a new job!

I had nothing planned for today so decided to do one of the two things that have been on my mind lately: sort out our finances.

I've never done a household budget before. Some of you may be amazed to hear this, but I've never really seen the need. Oh, I've watched money experts on the TV talking about how important it is, and read countless blogs about how essential it is to know where your money is going, but let's face it - I'm a fundamentally lazy person, and have never been that great with money.

Despite this, I am in charge of household finances. We have numerous discussions about how I hate this role but have agreed that I'm the best of two bad choices - unfortunately the other half is worse than me with dollars and cents. When I was single, it was so much easier - I had few expenses and used a shoebox method of bill payment. When I got a bill, it went in the shoebox. When I remember to pay it, I wrote "paid" on it and back into the shoebox it went. It wasn't sophisticated, but it worked.

This simple method combined with no mortgage or rates and a smaller grocery bill meant that I could save quite a bit of money. I also lived at home for a while, and with no rent expenses (thanks mum & dad!) I was able to save over $10,000 in a year. And then I blew it all on international travel - I know, what an idiot (I REGRET NOTHING!!!).

Flash forward six years and I'm engaged, got a mortgage I get stressed thinking about and all those lovely household bills that come in ominous window envelopes. I'm pleased to say I just finished doing a budget using a combination of my bank's online budget calculator and Open Office suite (a pox on you and your registration key Microsoft!)

So now I'm going to have a little relax on the couch in front of Dr Phil. And after lunch I might consider tackling some spring cleaning.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho

When you start to tally up pros and cons in your head, it’s a pretty good indicator something is rotten in the State of Denmark. I’ve been mentally making lists in my head all week, in those boring moments between calls. And there have been a lot of those lately.

I’m talking about my “new” job. I’ve been here four months now and I’m pretty much over things. I find my daily role repetitive and boring, and I know this because I spend all my spare moments when I should be processing emails, surfing.

Today I had a Eureka moment – I’m not solving problems. I’m just a processor, a gateway. I put faxes into trays, forward emails to the right people and switch calls to different departments. There’s no challenge here, now that I’ve learnt all there is to know about the role. For sure, there’s a lot more to learn about the industry, but I have no scope for it where I am now. I have been wanting to speak with my team leader about this but have had no monthly review or one-on-one for over 2 months.

So here’s my list of positives and negatives, in the interest of trying to sort out this issue in my head.


- Pays more than Telstra. A lot more.

- A lot less stress. I still get yelled at by customers occasionally, but nowhere near as much and I have better authority to deal with it (ie. Actually allowed to terminate a call if the language is abusive).

- Pleasant staff, laidback manager

- Probably going to have enough leave accumulated for what I need for my wedding next year


- 1hr commute each way to the city

- workmate in same role, who I work very closely with, is incompetent, lackadaisical, disorganized and faintly annoying. Also has a tendency to make things up when speaking with customers. Her habit of using the word “wavier” instead of “waive” is driving me up the grammatical wall.

- Completely lack of ability of middle management to find their collective bums with directions and a torch. I guess this is typical of any corporation though. But seriously couldn’t organize a chook raffle in an RSL.

- Little to no Health & Safety accountability. This seems silly, but it worries me. They do no workstation ergonomic checks (leaving them open to legal action from employees with RSI, bad backs etc. caused by excessive keying/poor ergonomic setup of their desks). I have no idea who the fire wardens are, and since we moved to our new building, no one has conducted any sort of evacuation briefing. I know where the fire exit is as I can see it from my desk, but have no idea where our assembly point is. There’s not even a HS&E board anywhere that I could find out this information.

- Aforementioned boredom. There is a reason that I am reading blogger, my personal email and news sites all day, and its because my work is not engaging me. This is a problem because a bored worker is not a productive one, and it makes me feel guilty.

- Their processes are archaic and paper-heavy. There’s a lot of talk about green incentives around here but I don’t see it. I’ve never seen an office use so much paper. I’ve asked, but they are not willing to do any revision of existing processes that would involve electronic document storage.

- I was assured that there would be plenty of scope to move roles once I was employed here, but so far nothing has been offered to me. I will be bringing this up with my manager when we have that elusive one-on-one review.

Put out on paper like this, the cons seem like small things to put up with for a better paypacket. But I also want to put my personal happiness first. I think I’m in a bind about this because we are doing things a bit tough financially lately, and don’t want to leave a good-paying job to satisfy my selfish need to feel good about helping people and be more intellectually stimulated.

So what are the alternatives?

1. Ask my manager if I can move into a more complex role – there are some in the Centre, don’t know if I’d enjoy doing them though.

2. Look for other work – same or better pay, closer to home

3. Stick it out here until the wedding, then look around for something new

I'm going to have to think on it some more. Until then, how may I direct your call?

*images mine

Sunday, September 4, 2011


What a weekend! Every time we drive to my parents' farm it always seems like a huge couple of days. I would really love that extra day to stay another night and just relax, but it never seems to happen.

This time we had a joint 21st/50th birthday party as well as Father's Day. The party was pretty standard except for the food (campoven cooking, amazing!), we went home early. I got my dad a bottle of Penfold's port for Father's Day - not an expensive gift, but it LOOKED expensive. He was really stoked, confessed to always buying cheap stuff for himself. Hope it's a good drop, and hope to sample some next time I'm up there.

C and I also went on a photo walk down the barn and into the cow paddock. Except for one moment when I thought some young bulls were going to chase us, it was a success. I hope to post some photos soon. At the same time I was getting ideas for our wedding photos. I think we have some nice locations there. Lots of wooden posts, corrugated iron, hay, wire, and grass. Just the look I want.


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