Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Bought the Big Issue for the Doctor Who article. There is an article about the concept of special treats, I read it last night. It fits in with my no chocolate month. Its about when you're a kid Easter is an exciting treat because there is chocolate, but now it's like, meh, another day I can eat chocolate just like all the other days I already eat chocolate. High availability of treats means nothing is a treat. If a treat is a habit it isn't a treat. How I enjoy chocolate is very different to how Charlie Bucket enjoys chocolate, because I can eat it every day and he gets one bar a year on his birthday. Charlie Bucket has a much higher ratio of enjoyment per calorie.

Monday, April 29, 2013

May challenge.

I thought of it this morning. I've got a couple of days to get used to the idea.

No chocolate in May.

I've tried no chocolate challenges before and it's hard to cut out all chocolate because chocolate is everywhere and in a variety of forms, but I basically mean no cadbury etc blocks or bars. I enjoy chocolate a lot, it's a good part of life, but it's just a habit now, so I want to break it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Where possible, walk.

My first option is to walk. It's surprising how manageable a lot of walks are. When you walk you realise NOT how far away things are, but how CLOSE they are. The shopping centre 2 suburbs away seem like too far to walk, but turns out to be under an hour. An hour seems like a long time to walk, but it's really not when you consider that you aren't just getting from A to B, you are also raising your metabolism, decreasing stress, absorbing Vitamin D, circulating blood through your body, and looking at a lot of houses and gardens and interesting back streets. Also, although it will take longer than the bus, by the time you get to the bus stop and wait for the bus, the length added to the trip time is often negligible given the health benefit of the walk PLUS it reduces the travel cost to $0.

Disadvantages of walking where possible: Ugly comfortable footwear. Ugly comfortable bag. Tendency to arrive slightly sweaty (or glowing) and a little bit frumpy in joggers and shorts and a backpack, rather than alighting at the door in sandals, freshly groomed and sporting a chic handbag.

I love the word 'alighting' re: public transport. And 'sporting' re: outfit.

While this post was in draft, Elsie sent me this article much better than mine. Full of quotes. Go and read the quotes by classy writerly gentlemen: they say it much more elegantly than I have. I think the pilgrimage idea is taking it a little to far, but the idea of being over-reliant on the wheel at all costs make me pump my fist in the air:
“When I see the discomforts that ablebodied American men will put up with rather than go a mile or half a mile on foot, the abuses they will tolerate and encourage, crowding the street car on a little fall in the temperature or the appearance of an inch or two of snow, packing up to overflowing, dangling to the straps, treading on each other’s toes, breathing each other’s breaths, crushing the women and children, hanging by tooth and nail to a square inch of the platform, imperiling their limbs and killing the horses—I think the commonest tramp in the street has good reason to felicitate himself on his rare privilege of going afoot. Indeed, a race that neglects or despises this primitive gift, that fears the touch of the soil, that has no footpaths, no community of ownership in the land which they imply, that warns off the walker as a trespasser, that knows no way but the highway, the carriage-way, that forgets the stile, the foot-bridge, that even ignores the rights of the pedestrian in the public road, providing no escape for him but in the ditch or up the bank, is in a fair way to far more serious degeneracy.” –John Burroughs, “The Exhilarations of the Road,” 1895
Amen to that.

I've been doing a 90 min walk to work, leaving at 7am. It used to feel very long, but now it's a good length. I don't even always listen to my iPod. Today I am planning on walking home from work instead of to work. The morning walk is lovely and crisp, but the evening bus is packed and smothering and I'm getting motion sick, so this morning I caught an early bus to work, civilised and quiet and undercrowded, and I will walk home this evening.


You've probably never wondered this, but now you will, and then I will relieve your wondering. I've noticed a large lowercase e on the back of nail polish bottles. And on other cosmetic containers, after that. It's in a particular font. And then today I noticed it on a meusli bar! So it's not just a random cosmetic thing, it's an everywhere thing! But I've never noticed it everywhere before! But it isn't everywhere everywhere, I think it's only on certain things, probably only small things like nail polish and meusli bars, but not big things like bottles of shampoo and boxes of cereal.

Here is the most likely answer (and I found some other ones, but this is my best guess).


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Obsession mystery.

Where does obsession come from? Until recently, whenever Elsie was going on and on about lipstick I would bear with her for a while and then say to her "why don't you use some up before you buy any more new ones?" Sensible frugal me. How naive I was. Now, merely months later, I'm completely obsessed with nail polish. What do you mean, use some up before I buy any more new ones??? There are as many nail polishes in the world as there are colours, plus you have holographic ones and glittery ones and duotone ones, there is really no limit on how many nail polishes I want. Where did that come from? Same thing happened with Jillian. Elsie would rave and rave and I would avoid, until bam, I was all about Jillian all the time. And is it just us? Do other people get all crazy about collecting different coloured stockings and then move on to something else 2 months later, like the search for the perfect tea infuser, and then it's Cranford and then it's tracking calories and then it's wearing your hair in a bun?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bobby pins

There are 2 sorts of bobby pins. The sort you can buy in shops, which are useless, and the sort you get from having your hair done for a wedding. The latter sort are carefully hoarded. I have investigated, and discovered that you can indeed buy the heavy duty bobby pins from the hairdresser. In rather large numbers, so currently have a lifetime supply. I am willing to share these bobby pins. They are black. A strip of 70 will cost you $4.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Good phone call feature

I had to call up the Virgin Mobile Loyalty Team today. They have a really good feature in their automated phone answering system. When you ring up and you're answered by an automated machine, you're told how long it will approximately take before someone will answer your call. It was pretty accurate too. I like this feature. More companies should implement it. It's nice to know how long you'll be put on hold for.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The limits of photoshop.

Have you seen the bomber suspects?


All I could think was "this isn't like TV when Abby or Garcia or someone clicks ENHANCE ENHANCE ENHANCE and all of a sudden the blur is a recognisable face or a legible number plate!!!" In real life, blurry means blurry. No sharpening algorithm can create detailed features out of a big grey pixel. So we're stuck with "Have you seen this pixel-face with a backpack?"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Voice.

I love singing shows. The blind auditions for The Voice are the best of the genre. I wish nobody had to be eliminated and you could just have talented people doing covers on TV every night. The battle round doesn't entertain me, I find it stressful, people singing a duet in competition rather than in unity. It is the complete wrong thing to do with a duet. But the rest of the singing is great TV.

I do feel that a good voice is a pretty small component of a music career, though. It's important, but… not everything. Compared to, say, a good song. It's not often a voice that gets stuck in someone's head, it's a song sung by a voice, and able to be sung. You don't buy a voice, you buy a song. And then, also, work ethic and confidence, and in a small music industry like Australia the ability to cross-over a lot, and be good on TV and all that. Because there are SO many good voices that a good voice just doesn't cut through. And think how many catchy songs are sung by average singers. Joel Madden has experience in this area.

I become such a cliche of a woman who rips into other women whenever Delta comes up. I don't know what it is about her, she's just… off. So much potential to be classy, so much natural beauty, but somehow such a fake. Unless posing is her natural state. The funny thing is it's not just me that can't help ripping into her. I've had a lot of company. And today I was lying in the ortho chair listening to the dental nurses on the other side of the room having the exact same conversation.

The black backless and frontless jumpsuit.



Many nuggets of interest in this article today, re pursuit of greatness vs staying put.
After all, relationships and community impose constraints on freedom, binding people to something larger than themselves. The assumption in our culture is that limiting freedom is detrimental to well-being. That is true to a point. Barry Schwartz, a psychological researcher based at Swarthmore College, has done extensive research suggesting that too much freedom -- or a lack of constraints -- is detrimental to human happiness.
"Relationships are meant to constrain," Schwartz told me, "but if you're always on the lookout for better, such constraints are experienced with bitterness and resentment."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Settling an awkward routine.

It's taken a few months, but I think I have figured out a new hair-washing calendar based on now having Bible study on Wednesday, and getting home too late to wash and dry my hair. I've switched to washing my hair on Tuesday and Thursday night, then Saturday morning after Jillian, then Sunday night to start the week again. The 7 day week is such a nuisance for every-second-day hair washing (my sister Julia suggests an 8 day week would be the best solution). And hair washing needs to factor in so many things, like just before I wash my hair is the ideal time to do Jillian or go for a swim—not while it's freshly clean. I was washing my hair on random days and exercising less, just because Bible study moved from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Individual taste.

I'm the only person I know who likes pumpernickel. It's a sliced brick of rye. It's not trendy, it's not pretty, it's not even delicious, and half the time it's not even in stock at Coles. But I'm dedicated. I don't inflict it on my friends and coworkers, other than the smell of it in the toaster.

Shared enjoyment is the best. The more obscure and particular the taste, the more the joy in finding kindred enjoyment.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Eat St

Friday 19th April at 6.30. Meet on Dixon st in the vague area of Delima Indonesian.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Trending: cardigans with elbow patches.

Had a discussion at work about elbow patches on cardigans. I've noticed them in shops when I've been looking for cardigans. People are wearing them. They seem to be taking off. I'm not going there personally because I think the cardigan is a serious item of clothing, which rises above such fickle trends. It doesn't need to look in season or fake vintage. I know there are connotations of "grandpa fashion" or "hipster" but to me a cardigan is a jumper that opens down the front, which is excellent in itself. Functional and smart.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Staring at mens' faces

This is probably a sign that I've been watching too many makeup videos and reading too many beauty blogs, but I like to stare at and study mens' faces.

Image from http://www.mtv.co.uk/

Men usually don't wear makeup (and presumably take less care of their skin than women), so I imagine what men would have to do, if they made up as women do. Men with a lot of redness in the face might wear foundation to even out the skin tone. Men with sun-damaged skin might benefit from exfoliation and sunscreen. But men with great, makeup-free skin?! What is their secret?? How do they do it?? That's what I want to know.

Sometimes I wonder, is it better to be man, and have the freedom not to wear makeup, or is it better to be a woman and be able to fake looking alert, awake and luminous? Why do we accept men as they look, but expect women to wear makeup?

Anyway, since I like bright colours and it is a creative outlet for me, I pick makeup.

Office metabolism.

By and large, the men in the office seem capable of sitting nearly ALL DAY and working without  getting up to drink water, make tea, find food, go to the bathroom, make more tea, get hungry again. There'll do like one coffee break, that's it. The women in the office are much more active. I'm in and out of the kitchen with my tea mug all the time, and ferreting in desk drawers for biscuits and nuts.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Washing basket zero.

When your dirty clothes basket is empty, the washing line is empty and there are no clothes that need ironing… everything is clean and put away. Laundry heaven. Until you get undressed.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Constant learning

In my current role at work, I get to rotate across at least four different roles in three years. That means constant learning, and constant learning hurts.

In each new role, I've had to learn different concepts, different systems and different skills. In the beginning, it really hurts my brain. I am really slow at performing the task and I document processes as meticulously as I can. There's two different processes going on when you learn to do something: there's the why (understanding what you're doing) and the how (actually being able to perform the task). In the beginning, I don't fully grasp what I'm doing, so I rely heavily on my documented processes. Over time, as I do the task repeatedly, I begin to understand what I'm doing a lot better.

I'm at the brain hurting phase and I have to consciously stop from myself from thinking, "I'm so slow and stupid! Why can't I get this the first time round? Why is this hard to understand?" and remind myself this is part of the learning process and soon enough, I will be efficient and proficient. I remind myself of times when I've mastered a new role and exceeded the expectations of others.

I'm always thinking at the back of my mind, "How would I explain this to a complete newbie? To someone who'll be in my shoes at the next rotation?"

This is what I would do:
  • Give an overview of organisational structure of the department: who's who and who you need to know
  • Give an overview/big picture of the task at hand
  • Explain and walk through a spreadsheet before showing someone how to do it
  • Show and explain to someone the end product (e.g. a printed report) before showing them how to put it together
  • Show them how to do the task, and then the second time round, getting them to drive and perform the task under supervision
  • Speak slowly and clearly, with pauses
  • Repeat yourself several times
  • Be patient
  • Lower your expectations: expect mistakes and questions
  • Provide a detailed instruction manual with screenshots (or allow the trainee time to take notes while you're explaining)
  • Encourage copious note-taking!
  • Tell the trainee it's okay if they don't really understand the first time round or if they feel confused or overwhelmed
Maybe some people are really good at getting things the first time or without taking lots and lots of notes. Not me. I have a Word document at work that's nearly 50 pages filled with screenshots and instructions on how to do my job. It amazes me how people just show you something once and then implicitly expect you to know how to do it next time. I can't do it without taking notes and screenshots, especially since a lot of my tasks are monthly: I'm bound to forget how it did it thirty days later!

People who've done something for years often have forgotten what it's like to do something new for the first time, to see a programme or a particular spreadsheet for the first time. I hope I never forget.

Avoiding Red.

Elsie's post is somewhat of a revelation. I don't like red cosmetics at all, and I think the xma rage slash skin colour thing is why. But also my personality and dress style is for natural tones. So the polishes I get the most use out of are greys, blues, pale pink, etc.

When it comes to red lipstick though, another factor is the size of lips. Bright colours make your lips seem bigger. I don't need that: to quote what A says about having fat lips, when I put bright lipstick on I "look like a clown". It's bad. So I go for just evening out my natural lip colour.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I see red

Jess is a nail polish woman. She loves 'em. I'm a lipstick woman. I love 'em. We can't get enough of our respective loves. Here is what I've observed about wearing red nails or lips. Wearing red nail polish or lipstick will emphasise any red already present in the skin.

Image from http://www.kaboodle.com/

For example, if your hands are red from eczema (aka xma rage), wearing red nail polish will draw attention and emphasise the redness in your hands. It doesn't look as good as someone with an even skin tone on their hands.

This is the same with wearing red lipstick. Unless you have very good skin, you need to wear foundation when wearing red lipstick, in order to minimise the redness in your face (usually around the nose and chin for me). Otherwise, it will make your face look splotchy. As much as I love red, I don't wear red nails that much because of xma rage. I love a bright red lippy, so I make sure I wear foundation before I wear it.

Image from http://ie.rimmellondon.com

While we're on the topic, here are my picks for a red lipstick:
MAC is also famous for their red lipsticks and most brands will have a good red in their range. If you want something a bit sheerer, but still with a reasonable amount of colour, try Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Suede in 095 Finale.  If you want super-sheer and moisturing, try Face of Australia Sheer Gloss Lip Crayon in Macaron.

Final tangent: I'm currently loving Butter London Primrose Hill Picnic Nail Lacquer. It's see pleasing to see a bright fuchsia pink on the nails!

Gratuitous link to Split Enz video clip for I See Red here.