Monday, December 31, 2012

Apping food, update.

So i've had a fair go at myfitnesspal now. A family member is also using it and we are "friends" so we can see each other's exercise and stuff when online. It's nice to have company.

Observations on using Myfitnesspal for about a week:

It's easy to repeat meal entries, and enter meals made from packets, but it's annoying to put in one-off meals you make yourself from lots of different things, like a stew or a slice of homemade cake. I try and pick something approximate from what is already there, so if a stew has veggies I choose "1 cup of mixed vegetables" or whatever is close.

You can track glasses of water, too! But I don't need accountability there.

The target for sugar seems super low. 27 grams seems like a lot, when I think of a pile of sugar on a spoon, but I get most of the way there at breakfast, and I'm eating mainly oats and bran and milk, with just a sprinkle of sweeter cereal like Be Natural on top for interest, not even coco pops or crunchy nuts. So I go into the red at morning tea, when I eat a peach. Which just seems ridiculous. I'm not worried about sugar anyway, and from what I know milk and fruit sugars are ok for you, it's the "added sugar" which is to be limited. It's a pity the app doesn't spot the difference there. It seems kind of useless as it is.

If you are trying to reach a weight goal, you can push a button at the end of the daily food section to "Close" the day and it tells you, if you ate and exercised like that every day, how long it'll probably take to reach your goal. Not sure if this estimate is true or not, yet. Every body is different.

I think you can't delete food once you've entered it. I brought a salad for lunch once and entered it, but then found out there was a sausage sizzle outside… but ate the salad because I had already entered it, and anyway it was healthier so that's a good result. See how my actions changed because of the app? How interesting.

It's changed the way I think about exercise a little bit, too. I'm annoyed on the days when I can't "earn" a few hundred more calories. It's extra motivation to do at least something, a fast walk if not Jillian. All activity counts, like all food counts.

Junk food and treat food has a LOT of calories. A lot. I'm constantly surprised when I add a portion of chocolate that it's the equivalent of half a meal! I'm not afraid of calories, but in terms of the economics of enjoyment I am now more aware of the cost, so I resist the resistable more easily and enjoy the irrisistable more. See what happened one particular week? One of the days I recorded properly I ate most of a bag of honey soy chips. Eye-opening, for me. This happens about once a month, so it's good to know.

I've bought kitchen scales. Useful to be able to weigh ingredients when cooking in grams or pounds, but also so much fun to weigh food for MFP. I found I was over-estimating everything, when guessing by eye. My breakfast entry was 100 calories more than I was actually eating. Being out 10 grams on cheese ads a lot of cals, too. No wonder it was so hard to stay under my allowance! It makes a lot of difference when it comes to eating chocolate or not at the end of the day!

I plan on using it for 2 months, and then see.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Service in Japan

I'm currently in Japan, enjoying a holiday with my sister who lives here.

I've done a bit of shopping here and the customer service is so much better over here. I love walking into a store and hearing all the sales assistants chime out, "Welcome!"

I love how friendly they are, how they wrap your purchase up really nicely, and how carefully they handle your money. If you visit a skin care store or the beauty counter at a department store, they throw in a free sample or two, even if you only spend $20.

I know Japanese customer service is tied to their culture, but Australians sure could step it up when it comes to customer service. Though, to be fair, I don't usually purchase skin care/cosmetics products from department stores in Australia because it's much cheaper to buy them online, so maybe Australian customer service is not as bad as I remember?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Job ad.

I was charged with spreading the word on my social media. Matthias Media have a job for someone who can make videos. It's full-time and you'd get to work where I work!

Watches are still a thing.


I remember a lot of talk a couple of years ago about how people weren't going to wear watches any more. Tech gurus were boasting about the trend. "Everyone just checks their phone now." Well that is true, but I found that a phone is actually a pocket watch, like in the olden days, when you had to fish around in your waistcoat to check the time. That's annoying. So I went back to a wrist watch. And this morning I did a survey of the people on the bus whose wrists were visible, and out of 6 of us, 5 were wearing a watch. Possibly professionals are more likely to wear a watch as part of their corporate image, and possibly people who catch the bus want to be able to check the time more easily (that is a main reason for me). But I think that's enough to refute the death of the watch.

Speaking of telling the time, my uncle had an intriguing facebook status today.
I thought I'd worked out how to measure time in meters and was very happy for two days, til I realised my mistake. Does anybody else get this kind of problem?
That's the kind of facebook I like. I can't stop wondering what he means. Did he make a sundial? Or some kind of odometer clock? Or a giant pendulum? I am proud to be related to this man.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Look, my cup has lol on it. Today I did just that.

I was minding my own business, drinking my after lunch cup of peppermint tea, when a colleague rebuked me for slurping. It's true, I slurp, because slurping cools down hot tea as you drink it. Hot tip from me, notice the pun haha. I don't want to burn my top lip on my tea, so I suck it in quickly, and yes, it sounds like slurping. But not because I am vulgar, it's because I am dainty and my lips are so sensitive to the heat. Like a lady.

Anyway, there was a follow-up remark from this tactless Emma, which I now forget, but which at the time was a bit amusing, just when I had self-consciously filled my mouth up with my next swallow of tea. I thought "don't laugh now, or tea will splurt everywhere, that's always funny, when tea splurts, oh no it's going to be funny" and then I laughed. I made myself laugh thinking about how funny it would be if I laughed. That's like a time-travel plot loop, isn't it. And I lost my tea via my mouth and nose onto my keyboard, lap and carpet. It was hilarious, and actually my nose tubes felt lovely afterwards. That's not a very elegant way to finish a blog post. So I will add: Like a lady.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pie charts for pies, or, apping EVERYTHING.

I'm not a micromanager in general, but I do get obsessed with things. At the moment it is record-keeping apps. I've really enjoyed recording my spending using Smart Budget on my ipad. I like to be able to SEE what I've spent, rather than feel like my money is vanishing into the ether. I like to see a breakdown for groceries, music, things like that.

I've decided to start using a food and exercise journal app for the same reason. I usually catch a bus now instead of walking every day, and after a year it has caught up with me and I'm not as fit. I want to rebalance my kj budget. And I want some more accountability with Jillian and so on. And some of my friends are dedicated users of food apps. Especially because they take difficult calorie counting out, you can just search a food product or scan a barcode and enter your portion size.

I've downloaded myfitnesspal for free. It has a 5 star rating and pie charts. You can see if you are meeting nutritional goals like iron and stuff. It seems to take a bit of effort to measure things the first time, like weigh out breakfast cereal, or figure out how many calories a Jillian workout burns, but a repetitious lifestyle is an advantage here, and other people have already done some estimations on Jillian DVDs if you google them.

I've already noticed the app is changing the way I think. Firstly, it makes my behaviour matter, because I can see the change. Picking up some M&Ms from the staff room to eat with my cup of tea actually counts now, whereas before, in my mind, it didn't. Secondly, I've heard myself thinking "I can just eat this marshmallow secretly and not app it, and it won't count".

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bobby pins.

It turns out there are two kinds of bobby pins in the world. The sort you can buy at the shops, and the sort hairdressers use. The sort you can buy in the shops are USELESS, and I did not know this until I got the hairdresser sort last year, possibly the best perk of being a bridesmaid, the headful of proper strong and grippy bobby pins. My hairdo skills doubled instantly.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Surprise eyebrows.

I have a thing going with a friend, that we tell each other trends as we spot them. It's been a back and forward list for over a year, including boys wearing bracelets, women carrying big handbags on the elbow like a shopping basket, stuff like that.

The weirdest trend I've seen, and I haven't seen it in real life yet, only on models (in magazines, emails from Myer, etc), is surprising eyebrows. At first it was shaved eyebrows or bleached eyebrows, so as to be pale or invisible. Quite freaky: naked eyes look alien. Then it has been the opposite trend, messy eyebrows. Eyebrows with straggly unplucked hairs all around them. Not just thick, but "natural". So I put both of these eyebrow trends in the same basket, "surprise eyebrows". I include the fashion dummies in the Chanel boutique downstairs with the black diamonte brows.

Different Christmas carols and songs.

I can't really understand people who say "I hate Christmas carols". Those people must hate all music. If they don't hate all music, they must mean that they hate the poorest specimens of Christmas carols—cheesy muzac carols in the shops, or singing them at church with a band that hasn't played the music since last year and hasn't thought about transposing them down for the congregation let alone simplifying the chords for themselves. And some carols are bad songs and only get played/sung because they are carols.

I think carols are grand. I hate cheesy versions in the supermarket, and I hate singing them too high — crimes against music which should be hated. The poor carols themselves are often nothing to hate. Except Jingle Bells.

I do enjoy non-Christian Christmas songs a lot too, you know, pop songs about going home for Christmas, being alone for Christmas, and so on. It's nice to have a soundtrack for a particular season to enhance the sadness or happiness. And hearing the same songs every year builds memories and associations into them.

I'll leave you with something different. 'All I ever get for Christmas is blue'. Available from Noisetrade by Over the Rhine.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

DVD workout: morning v night.

I've been experimenting with Jillian in the morning for the last week. There are pros and cons. Con: I have to have two showers, one in the morning after Jillian, one before bed. I will always be a night showerer. Pro: It's nice to have free time after work, especially at this time of year, where Jillian keeps getting pushed out by things to do after work. But it's always harder to work out in the morning—although supposedly you get more out of it and you benefit more for the rest of the day, metabolically. I hear people say that morning exercise gives you more energy for the rest of the day, but I haven't found that with Jillian, it probably is true for a morning swim, walk or light jog, but Jillian makes me muscle-tired, which I like, it's a pleasant tiredness, but it's not easy to feel energised and tired at the same time. I'm occasionally more likely to feel sick in the morning if I've pushed too hard, which is the main reason I have avoided mornings, but I've found that if I am fit, it's just a matter of carefully putting a little bit of food in my stomach but not too much. A few spoonfuls of yoghurt, or a small banana. SOME energy to burn, but not a full breakfast. I love googling and reading forums about these things. When I'm trying to find the best way to do something, the internet is full of obsessed people.

Monday, November 26, 2012

DVD workout: clothing and stuff.

Now I said before that it doesn't matter what you look like, because you can do a Jillian DVD in complete privacy. But for me, it still does matter what I wear. It's part of the motivation side of things.

Don't add irritation to effort, is my rule for exercise and housework. If I'm going to be doing something hard, I don't want to be annoyed or handicapped by ANY difficulty whatever. It is POSSIBLE to do Jillian in your pyjamas and bare feet, but I can't tolerate my pants falling down or anything, so I have a pile of purposed clothes just for Jillian. They aren't pyjamas, or mooching around the house clothes. When I put them on, I mean business. I feel like business, too.

And I have quite a lot of clothes. I haven't spent a lot of money, but I have been deliberate about building my stock. Some is old tshirts and stuff. Some is proper exercise gear from a girly fitness shop—I've got a pair of fast-drying black trackpants that I used all winter, they've been brilliant. I happily take scissors to old clothes to cut the sleeves off skivvies or widen the necks on tshirts or cut the legs off old trackpants. I'm the only one who sees me in these chopped-up clothes, it's all about repurposing and dressing functionally. And if I have an ample supply of clothes, I don't have "need to wash clothes" as an excuse for not working out. I've never opened my bottom drawer and not found something to put on. I keep my sneakers right at my bedroom door, as well. I don't want to waste time hunting around, when my motivation is low or it's early in the morning before work.

The equipment: a yoga mat if you have hard unsuitable floors, and 2 hand weights. Hand weights are cheap, the 0.5kg are $6 per pair, the 1kg are like $10 per pair. Really, you could just use some water bottles or tinned food or something, but they are uncomfortable to hold, so eventually it's worth getting weights.

The setup: Again, I keep this stuff handy so that I can efficiently spring into action. My weights live right on the DVD player, the disc is usually in the machine and my yoga mat is rolled up and slid under the couch. Quick to get out and put away. I also have a cheap pedestal fan, which is indispensable at this time of year already. This is what my workout zone looks like:

It's all about making the start of workout as easy as possible, having everything available and handy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rude awakening.

I've been waking up before the alarm this week. This morning I woke up and thought "ahhhh, Sunday!" for 3 happy seconds before I realised it was only Friday and I just hadn't heard the alarm yet.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Alright, what happened to packaging?

I used to be able to pull plastic packets open, or tear them from the top where it's sort of a zig-zag cut, with my bare hands. Now I can hardly ever open anything with my hands. It's gone from the occasional stubborn bag of lollies to EVERYTHING. Everything needs scissors.

Friday, November 16, 2012

When smartphones are not social.

Slight rant.

Last night having a KFC picnic with 2 friends, I noticed another group of 3 young women sitting nearby, transfixed by their own phones. The contrast between us three and those three was interesting: they were silent. I felt a bit sorry for them, they were wasting an opportunity to be with their friends and get laughter endorphins and so on. Screen time was overriding face time, and screen time was not as fun. Do you get endorphins from lol? I don't think so.

Worse story, from a little while ago: I sat in a cafe having breakfast with two people, not teenagers—older than me, and while we were waiting for our food they both played with their phones. I didn't have the right sort of phone to play with, so I couldn't "join them", and I just sat there. I was astounded, it felt like the electronic equivalent of them turning their back on me.

However, rudeness aside, I know it is nice to be in a cafe with friends and read the newspaper and stuff, tune each other out while still being in company. Especially if you see a lot of each other. Not giving each other your full attention isn't automatically rude. It's a fuzzy line.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Avoiding iTunes.

I like to buy music, but I like to make my money go further. So buying an album full price on iTunes is my last resort. Partly because I don't like the fixed prices when the exchange rate is so different, and partly because I don't like a monopoly and Apple is just a little bit too big for its boots. Here are some other resorts I investigate, before spending $16.99.

1. Direct from the artist. A quick google might turn up an artist or record label website where you can buy direct. If it is an artist from the US, you get the US price which is usually at least 30% cheaper, and the artist doesn't miss out on the cut iTunes takes. Even if they don't have a webstore, they might point you to their preferred retailer like Indi artists and labels seem more likely to sell direct or bypass iTunes. Big names not so much.

2. Check if JB hifi has the physical album for a good price. I wanted the Paul Kelly album Foggy Highway, it was $13 at JB which is a few dollars cheaper than iTunes, plus you get the album art.

3. Wait for an iTunes sale. I ended up getting Foggy Highway for $10 cos he released a new album so iTunes did special prices on the back catalogue.

4. Bigpond is slightly cheaper than iTunes. If it comes down to the principle of the matter, avoiding iTunes and saving money, it's a good option.

5. If I'm buying on iTunes, I only use iTunes cards which I buy on sale.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vanilla essence.

A bottle of vanilla lasts a really long time. You buy it by the bottle but use only a few drops rarely. But it has to be there for those times. I feel like getting more use out of it, like making my own gourmet porridge, because fancy porridge always has vanilla in it. I googled some more ideas:

Wipe down the inside of the fridge with vanilla extract. To prolong the fresh vanilla scent, soak a cotton ball or a piece of sponge with vanilla extract and leave it in the refrigerator.

Microwave some vanilla to deodourise the microwave.

Put a drop of vanilla on a lightbulb and turn on a light: the house smells like cake.

Wear it as perfume. It will smell relaxing, or like cake.

Motivation: don't think.

I've blogged about the big motivation stuff, like wanting to be healthy. But that's not always enough to get exercise to happen daily or regularly. It's a whole lot of smaller things like having a strong routine, doing things you enjoy, doing things with friends.

However, I have one special tip. This is the best motivation advice I've found. It's counter-intuitive, but it makes a lot of sense: Don't think, do.

Don't think about something you don't want to do, or you'll use up all your willpower too early. Which means, in the middle of the afternoon I sometimes feel really tired. I hate the thought of exercise. Actually, I hate the thought of doing anything after work, like grocery shopping. This afternoon I actually googled "I need a grocery shopping list" because I know I need food but I'm too sluggish to anticipate the supermarket.  Massive energy dip. And I start thinking "I'm too weary to do Jillian today, should I skip it? I should do it, but I'm really not in the mood" over and over and then I exhaust myself mentally way too early and by the time I get home I hate myself and I've given up and there is no energy to do anything.

But I googled this, and realised I should just cut out the whole afternoon of thinking part. I try and not spend 3pm onwards worrying about how tired and unmotivated I feel and use up all my willpower long before I actually need it, hours later. The amazing power of not thinking! Harness that power, my friends. I try and block out the thoughts, forget about future exertions, go home as normal, put my Jillian clothes on, put the dvd on, and start warming up. None of that is hard, it's only hard if you think about all the actual exercise. So don't think. Once I'm warming up, it's usually not so bad. Sometimes it IS so bad, I find I actually AM genuinely tired, but I really can't tell until I start.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

DVD Workout: Boredom.

I always thought a workout DVD would be boring. Actually a challenging DVD is less boring than you think. I am generally happy just doing the one DVD over and over—I like not having to make a decision, it makes the habit of doing it stronger. And although boredom does sort of mean I don't look forward to Jillian time, it doesn't stop me from doing it. General laziness is a bigger barrier.

The best thing that stops a workout from being boring is doing it with a friend. I have exploited many friends to this end. But they have enjoyed it too, so that's OK.

When I'm on my own, though, I enjoy the "time out" of going through the same familiar routine. If you are focusing on your form, there is enough to keep your mind busy in just keeping your toes pointed or whatever. If your mind wanders, that's good too, exercise is a great time to defrag the brain.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

DVD Workout: Big motivation.

I've been doing Jillian for 18 months, as so has the friend I originally started with. We are both AMAZED that we have been able to keep going so long. Originally, I was motivated by being a bridesmaid to tone my arms a bit by the wedding, since all I did for exercise was a lot of walking and all you could see in my bridesmaid dress was my arms. Also, to offset my Eat Street Challenge shan dong chicken and all that. I asked A to join me for company, and she said yes with no particular aim at all. The bridesmaid deadline passed long ago, and we both kept going.

A and myself are both examples of people who started off feeble, with no exercise routine at all, and worked our way up to finishing a whole DVD and doing it a few times every week. I did start by measuring myself to see if my dimensions changed or I lost weight, but it was imperceptible and I gave it up, I don't care anymore. My body shape is pretty set. However, we both noticed a subtle difference we would describe as "more toned", and better posture and nice little things like that. Now I've got that, I am keen to keep it.

One other thing: the surprise reward has been enjoying feeling strong. I still can't do a set of proper push ups, mind you. But building any muscle at all was a totally foreign concept to me. I never expected to get stronger or enjoy strength.

So there it is. Exercise sometimes changes your motivations, and the payoff was different than I expected.

Post Melbourne Cup: the beginning of the end of the year.

Every year, on this day, the day after the Melbourne Cup, James Valentine declares "the beginning of the end of the year". The end of the year to all intents and purposes. The theory is that life winds down from now on. The Cup marks the end of the REAL year. Nobody will take on anything new. Nobody starts anything big or commits to a new plan, everyone just finishes things up and plans the Christmas party. It's the Friday of the year.

Here is my challenge: Do one more thing. Set a goal and finish it. You have 6 weeks. Finish the garden, or the painting, or the cross-stitch. Or something work-related.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DVD workout: reviews.

You probably won't be interested in this series of posts unless you are also doing some kind of fitness program or routine, but a lot of my friends are doing Jillian or do training for some mudder or other. I'm going to blog everything that's in my head, because that is why I have blogs.

Ah, the many advantages of fitness DVDs! The VALUE! A one off spend of $25ish (plus a mat and 2 weights if you are too fancy for a towel and 2 tinned foods) for unlimited training! The PRIVACY! It doesn't matter how ungraceful you are or what you are wearing or how ugly you look when you sweat, nobody is judging you in your own lounge room! The EFFICIENCY! No commuting to and from a gym or pool or park. The only disadvantage is a lack of accountability to spur you on if you get tired, bored or lazy, so I find I need a really good routine to stick to (my Monday is all about leaving work at 5pm ON THE DOT so that I can be doing Jillian before 6pm). It is really good to work out with a friend, so I sometimes do that.

If you are considering converting to Jillian Michaels, here are three DVD reviews. There are other DVDs I don't own or haven't tried. I have tried Tracy Anderson once and some kick-boxing woman once, but I prefer Jillian. Once you get over her intimidating abs (she has no body fat) she is a good trainer. Not too bright and perky. She just gets down to business.

This is where I began. It takes the best part of an hour to do the whole thing, and it mixes and combines a lot of different moves in short sets so you don't get bored. It's pretty much all just strength training: circuits of lunges, squats, planks, crunches and arm stuff. The moves are good for beginners, as they don't require much skill or balance: they are simple, but tiring. I feel like this workout covers the whole body, so for me this is the DVD to use regularly. If you want to begin, start with 3 or 4 circuits which will take you about half an hour, and don't go too hard on the lunges and squats for about the first week, or else you won't be able to walk. (I only did Jillian once last week, lost a bit of fitness, and am walking a little stiffly today from my session last night!) Build up to the 7 complete circuits over a month or two. Start with no hand weights, or just 0.5 kg. Do the DVD 3 to 5 times a week. 3 times is about enough for me to maintain.

Yes, the name is funny. But "killer" is not an exaggeration. This is the hardest DVD I've tried. It's not a friendly workout, it's a maniac workout. There is a stuff like balancing on one leg and kicking slowly in the air. It's the sort of workout that I feel amazed at even finishing. It's a little bit shorter than NMTZ, about 45 min to do the whole thing. George gave me this DVD and I do it occasionally, when I want a real challenge.

This is for when you do a 30 minute workout every day, which doesn't suit my routine at the moment. I've never gone past level one. There is a good mix of strength and cardio on this DVD, whereas NMTZ doesn't have any pure cardio at all (NMTZ still gets your heart pumping though). I like it, it is short and manageable but I still feel physically tired at the end, particularly my upper body.

Jillian DVDs are pretty much all hard. They are a proper, sweaty workout for a fit person. But they are easy to use and get into if you start small and work up, adding circuits and weights over a few weeks.

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's 50 days til Christmas.

Hardest person to buy a Christmas present for.

In my family, it's not the dad or the brother. There are no in-laws. I know what DVDs people will like. Even if I haven't seen the DVDs myself. My greatest triumph was getting dad Life on Mars, even though I hadn't watched it.

For me it's Grandma.

The jessenomics of food waste.

I think it's something like a quarter or a third of groceries are spoiled and wasted. Australian stats. I think it's often good intentions and bad planning—people want to buy fresh food, but they don't have the lifestyle suited to cooking and eating it. All it takes is shopping for what you realistically WILL eat, and giving up the idol of freshness—tins and frozen food don't waste as easily. Cooking shows make such a big deal about fresh food, perhaps because the supermarkets pay for the ads and get the most benefit from food you buy and don't eat.

Waste is against my nature anyway. I just can't allow it happen, if I can possibly help it. I feel like a moral failure if I throw anything out. For me, a waste of food is both a waste of money and a waste of effort, because of carting it home from the shops on foot and unpacking it into the fridge only to fill up the kitchen bin and carry it out to the wheelie bin. So there's the jessenomics of it, 10 minutes each week of thinking properly about what to buy and cook can save your money, and effort, and the environment. Apparently it's bad for the environment because it's a waste of water and fuel and landfill—not wasting food is the easiest way to reduce "food miles" and all that footprint stuff, it's just not so trendy a "solution". A "solution" has to involve a farmer's market or a veggie patch or something.

No Eat Street on 8th Nov.

It is someone's birthday, so we may see you at that do.


I recently discovered a radio station of reading out loud. Newspapers, books and magazines. This is an excellent thing, even if you don't have a reading impairment. I think the night programing is pretty good for falling asleep. I don't listen during the day.

Community radio stations have almost completely taken over my ABC radio time! I didn't realise there were so many non-commercial radio options for an ad-hater.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Check if there will be food before RSVPing No.


One of my sisters is a woman after my own heart. Not that the other one isn't too. She is instigating her own month of a challenge, with a cool name. I don't do cool names other than putting "challenge" on the end of something, so this is a good one. If you have been wanting to do a challenge, this might be just the wit to convince you. No-credi-tcard-vember or No-cheese-vember or No-tv-vember. I'm thinking of doing No-tv-vember, but I probably can't.

Long skirt.

A long skirt is a little less warm than jeans, but a little warmer than a normal skirt. It's like a cardigan for the legs. A cardigan is less than a jacket, more than just a shirt.

Monday, October 29, 2012


I like "your psyche is not your system". And I like how he prefers paper—I use my phone or iCal for automatic reminders, but day to day stuff goes on paper or in my diary, because I am more likely to see it. Hooray for lists!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friendship goals.

There is a part of my social life that sustains itself, with eat-streets and facebook and one catch-up flowing naturally into another. When I want to do something, I have a default group of people I recruit from.

For various reasons, I decided I need to invest a little more deeply in some of the other people around me. To build some more friendships that would be mutually beneficial, and also to love people who need a bit more love, and also to sustain friendships that I value through changes in life like marriage (theirs not mine). To fight the sometimes selfish gravity of old friends and comfortable ruts and isolation. The thing is, it's hard to know where to start, other than just by feeling like a failure or deciding I have enough friends anyway or putting it off until something happens spontaneously. I've got the means and the time and the energy at the moment, I want to actually do something, instead of vaguely wish and hope.

I decided instead that I should write down 5 things to do with 5 people, and do them before the end of the year. Then I would know I have invested some of my time in others. It sounds weird and cold, a list of "friendship goals". I'm not that kind of person. It's just that it is easier to do something overwhelming if you have a simple first step, like "1. see a movie with T". So I actually have a list.  I have no expectations of amazing results, and relationships aren't very measurable anyway; I just want to know that I've made an effort.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Eat street other plan.

Sculpture by the Sea this Friday night, I'll be starting at the Bondi end at around 6, and meeting others there or at other points, most of you have my contact details so you can find us there as you arrive. Sunset is at 7.15 so that's why I'm saying 6pm.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Buying the physical thing.

You'll never guess what. I bought a CD today, Sigh No More was $10 at jb hifi so Christmas ahoy, brother. He doesn't read my blog, I bet. Anyway, I got myself one as well. (See, Spotify HASN'T killed MY music sales.) I can't remember when I last bought a CD. I had a little moment of nostalgia. I forgot how clear and shiny a new plastic jewel case is, it used to be as magical to me as new car smell or unbroken book spine. I forgot that you can see the album art bigger in a CD than you can on your iTunes screen. I forgot that they come with booklets with song lyrics in them and pictures of the band and stuff. It was a journey of rediscovery. I still will buy downloads mainly, because I think the CD experience is often clutter rather than nostalgia or excitement, but it was delightful to remember the excitement of my youth, except that this time it's not an *NSync album.

By the way, I trialed ordering online at JBhifi and collecting it in store. It saves looking around for ages in the shop (I had a few things to get) and it's quicker than postage as well. Order at my computer, get emailed a few hours later saying I can collect it, and pop out at lunch.

I loathe My Bad.

I really really hate it when people say "my bad!". Especially if they've already done something to annoy me. "My bad!" is not an apology. "Sorry" is an apology, "my bad!" is a careless dismissal, and makes me want to punch your mouth. Also, it's stupid English.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Breaking the silence.

A man overtook me walking to work, and I noticed his backpack was open. So I though I should tell him. But I did it awkwardly, it took many moments for me to pull my ipod out of my ears and form words with my brain and mouth. It's talking to a stranger, it's breaking that zone everyone locks themselves into with their morning commute, I felt weird and unnatural, plus it was probably the first words I'd spoken that day so my voice was still getting out of bed. "Your backpack is open" came out all slow, blurry and singsong, at an inappropriate volume—I sounded like a one of those talking dogs on youtube. He took like 5 seconds to understand me as well, before checking his backpack.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How a mess starts.

I didn't do Jillian after work yesterday. I was going to do Jillian right up until I walked in the door, and then my brain just couldn't cope. So, it was a mental health break slash mental health house-tidy. The house still looked OK from the BIG CLEAN 2 weeks ago, but there was the beginning of mess. Which is a slippery slope. It starts out innocently enough, with a few small things that are annoying to deal with. Like a piece of mail I need to ring up and query something. Or a nice postcard that I need to find some bluetak to stick up. And then all of a sudden there are 25 small annoying things scattered around, and it's more than I can deal with any more. And it provides a cluttered environment for bigger mess to lay down and grow. And in 3 weeks we are back where we started, unable to use the kitchen table or the dresser.  So I spent an hour putting stuff away, throwing out dead flowers, dealing with a broken shirt, sorting through papers, and drinking tea while listening to an audiobook—and cut the vicious cycle off before it could get going. And then I walked to work this morning, because exercise is still important.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Move over, engagement ring.

I read an article some time ago, I might have already raved about it, saying how the diamond engagement ring tradition is really very modern, an invention of the diamond cartels to flog diamonds to the prosperous middle class of the 50s. Basically it was a really successful advertising campaign, with "diamonds are forever" and "diamonds are a girls best friend" and all that, fed to the public through movies and film stars and songs. Actually, according to that article, diamonds are a pretty poor investment, they decrease in value after you buy them and diamond dealers never buy them back. So all they have is really good branding.

It's still a nice thing to do, a pretty ring is a lovely symbol of a promise, I'd be pleased to get one myself. But it's just doubling up on the job the wedding ring does, really. So if it came to my choice, I now feel like there would be other things I'd like to spend that money on than propping up the diamond industry. Someone in the office reported last week that a ministry they are part of received a donation of the money they would have spent on a ring. He thought that his fianc├ęs faith was the real treasure and they agreed to donate the ring money instead to the ministry she had most benefited from as a young Christian. That's awesome. Myself, I'm a Jane Austen heroine, and I think an engagement piano would be lovely. It worked for Marianne Dashwood and Jane Fairfax. Romantic, nice to look at, and a lot more useful to me. All theoretical, of course.  I can always buy my own piano. See how I worked this whole post into justification for buying myself a piano?

TV is a fickle master.

My flatmate mentioned last week that I should check the TV guides, because all the TV shows we like are being fast-tracked here all of a sudden without much warning. And lo, as she told, I had already missed the first episode of the new season of The Mentalist. I have not been watching ch 9 since they started showing nothing but Big Brother, but surely I would have caught one ad, if they had been promoting it at all. Booo :(

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Invention involving a rubber band, an ipod and a bus ticket.

iPod with rubber band wrapped around it. Will hold headphones neat and tidy.


On the other side, it will hold bus ticket! Since I always have my ipod on the bus, it's an excellent way to keep my ticket safe AND handy. A wallet is safe, but annoying to get into all the time, and a pocket is handy, but easy to lose.

In the outside access pocket of my bag.


We've been umming and ahhing about it this week. Elsie can't come. She suggested the night noodle markets in Hyde Park. So we're doing that tomorrow night, and it's not really DESC at all, just a catch up. The night noodle markets have always been a bit underwhelming to me, sort of the worst of a food court combined with the worst of a picnic, but I haven't been for a few years so I'm happy to try it again. Let me know if you're coming, we'll be meeting at 6pm but if you're late you can find us by phone.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The downside of taxes.

Having to pay a tax bill is not much of a reward for doing my tax return. (When I say "doing my tax return", I mean my dad doing my tax return.) To me, the refund is the whole point of the exercise. It's fair payment for me keeping my receipts organised for a year. It's my main incentive. I deserve it. Filing is annoying. This year I have to pay for the privilege, unfortunately. I know, first world problem. At least I get to use my cheque book, which is a rare treat.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Haircut plus upselling.

I'm not really obsessed with my hair at the moment, but I have a series of thoughts.

I have never coloured my hair. I want to avoid the commitment and the upkeep. So some hairdressers, when they see my virgin hair, do this:

"This is your natural colour? It's lovely!"
(But this is just to soften me up, because it's immediately contradicted by the following...)
"Have you ever thought about highlights?"
"Or a balayage, that's where we just lighten the ends."
"You've got a lovely base colour, you could get some lovely natural highlights."
The deflection response I tried on Sunday was to have my eyes closed and say nothing more than "hmm". I know I could get highlights, but I haven't asked for them. So just "hmm". Let it end awkwardly.

I got home and looked at my plain natural unhighlighted brown hair colour and I realised I liked it. I've always said "No" to colours on principle because it's how you should respond to upselling, and I'm too indecisive to make up my mind what to do anyway, but actually I like my hair the way it is. It's some sort of rare pleasant self-aware moment, when I realise I like something about myself. It's my hair, and I like it. And I'll be going grey soon.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I make sense.

At dinner the other night, the waiter asked me if I spoke Chinese. I said to him, in Mandarin, "I speak Cantonese."

At first thought, that seems ridiculous, right? Why would I say in one dialect that I speak another? I said it in Mandarin because that's what I expect most people in Chinatown to speak nowadays, but I told him that I speak Cantonese so that he would know why my Mandarin was less than perfect (to put it nicely) and why I might say, "I don't get you." See, I do make sense.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sweet and salty nuts.

My latest discovery courtesy of Anna. Small tub of sweet and salty nuts. 2 for $7 at Coles right now. Covered with sugar and salt. Hits the same spot as a bag of chips, but, need a lot less of them to be satisfied, so small tub of nuts better value than bag of chips and possibly healthier.

Kiroran Silk Road Uygur Restaurant.

I'm not always going to review Dixon Eat Street, but the food on Monday night was the best cheap food in the CBD, in my opinion. Caveat, Ton Ton Japanese (behind KFC on Bathurst/George) is very central and for $10 you can get a very filling bowl of rice, fried chicken and mayo. But for a proper Asian dinner with a group of people sharing dishes, pretty cheap and extremely delicious, head a bit further down to Dixon Street. It's an upstairs restaurant, shabby but comfortable. You don't go there for the decor. Go to the Korean BBQ over the street if you want decor and slippery useless chopsticks. This place is just for awesome food. Service was pretty good, and with a group of 9 the food arrival was well paced and we got some free bread. The food was generous, with spicy/salty flavours. If something is labelled "hot" it is hot. If it says "spicy" it's more sort of BBQ. They do hand made noodles, and a sort of pancake meat pie which is delicious and for $12 could feed 2 people, and tasty tasty lamb skewers, and other meats and potatoes. It's not fancy but it's the tastiest food you don't have to queue for. (Mamak, I can't be bothered with you.)

We checked out the nitrogen gelato place for dessert, and again, WOW. This is expensive ice-cream at $6 a scoop but it's a good sized scoop and it is really good.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Surprise haircut.

I ended up getting a haircut on Sunday. I just seized the moment, I was doing Jillian and thought "I'll pay someone to wash my hair after this, while I get it cut." Genius idea, going from sweaty and dirty to clean, healthy and blow-dried in one go. Maximum value. Also, I think that getting a haircut is an EXCELLENT job to do when you are tired, because you just sit there.

Tip, if you like to get a haircut with no appointment, like me, Sunday is a quieter day than Saturday, and if it's a beautiful day outside it's even quieter, so you've got excellent chances of wandering in and getting a haircut then and there in peace and quiet, with nobody but a lady getting foils and a few men getting their beards trimmed.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stickers in the wallet

I've started keeping cute stickers of animals in my wallet. This is for when when I see friends and their kids, I can give the kid a sticker and s/he can start building a positive association with me :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Life has too many bits.

I believe that there is a set limit on how efficient I can be. I have limited juggling abilities. Probably everybody does, but some people have super-abilities. Once I juggle some balls up in the air, others will drop to the floor and go under the bed. Currently, the balls I am succeeding with are reading the bible almost daily, exercising several times a week, not getting sick or run down, recording my spending, washing up when I run out of breakfast bowls or earlier, and regularly toothbrushing the grout in the bathroom to keep the mould down. The balls I've missed are less important anyway. It's just the housework and stuff. One day, maybe next month, I'll finish painting my chest of drawers so that I can put ALL my clothes away, I'll clean the kitchen and bathroom and mop the floors, I'll get stuck into my list of UFOs, I'll floss my teeth, I'll get a haircut, I'll take that pile of stuff to the op shop.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Argh Coles.

My Coles has rearranged all the aisles. How long will it take me to learn the new map? I don't like walking four aisles to find olives. So far, the only improvement is that now chips and confectionery are in the same aisle, not separate aisles, and it is closer to the express lanes. Which will be a whopping time saver, I'm afraid to say.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rain enhancer.

I've discovered a thing today: listening to a recording of a rainstorm at the same time as listening to a song. Thankyou youtube.

Here is the rain video.

Here is the song where I found out about the thing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekends anywhere.

Wherever I go is where I wish I was and I didn't have to leave.

Friday, September 14, 2012


is the thief of joy!

(Random email from a friend this week. It's a quote.)


"This fifty days of preparation is called in their barbarian speech the Exmas Rush."
CS Lewis *

And if only it WAS 50 days, and not 100. Yes, it is only September, and I'm sorry, but I've already bought one Christmas present and I've been thinking of others, in the name of avoiding the Exmas Rush as much as possible. But I saw a display of decorations in a cheap shop at Maroubra Junction last weekend, which made me cross, because all my earliness is being overtaken anyway. And there are ads for office Christmas parties already. And at work I have to think of Christmas card ideas now to get them printed by November, I can't escape it, so I might as well listen to Christmas carols and get into it properly.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grocery adventure.

It has come into my mind that my efficiency in the area of shopping and cooking is cutting me off from a lot of tastes and experiences the supermarket has to offer. I've been thinking, one week I should do a shop and buy nothing I've ever bought before, only things I have never tried, and cook and eat them. Try cashew milk, fennel, dried eggplant chips or whatever.

I have dipped my toe in the water and tried something new with my breakfast. I have a carefully honed breakfast cereal system with 3 layers, 1: low GI, 2: fibre, 3: something pretty and flaky. I thought, why not try mixing it up, literally mix my layers, and do muesli? I bought a muesli that was too apricotish and sour, so then I padded it out with more rolled oats and I also bought a bag of kamut wheat from the health aisle. Never heard of it. It's bigger, tastier, better for you, puffed wheat. So I think I have invented a perfect muesli! meuslie plus oats plus cornflakes plus kamut. Kamut, you heard it here first. It'll be the next quinoa or chia.

What will I think of next!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I watched more paralympics than olympics this year. I like the idea of sports that rely on compensatory abilities and senses. I think more of us should play those games that rely on your hearing, for example. That would be so interesting. Why not introduce that at schools? Also, I enjoy watching wheelchair sports. It's probably the scooter part of me. The wheelchair rugby final last night was like the toughest dodgem cars you've ever seen, or maybe like shopping trolleys, and it's quite easy to watch and understand because it's all big, the ball isn't among people's feet, and it's entertaining because it's fast and has crashes. It replaces lawn bowls as sport I most enjoy on TV.