Monday, December 18, 2006


This last weekend we drove up to Newcastle. We had lunch with Dad and Donna, then went to a friends house for dinner. It was really nice to see everyone.

Both Dad and friends plied us with DVDs to watch this Christmas. This is great, we love nothing better than to sit around watching DVDs, but I also want to get out of the house and take Shawn some places he hasn't been yet. We aren't going away anywhere so it'd be nice if we could inject some holiday feel to our Christmas break. We could go to a museum, to the aquarium, the new city zoo, or perhaps catch a ferry to Manly.

Shawn and I made some chocolate orange triangles to take to our friends place for dessert.

FRIEND: "Is this a specialty of yours?"
ME: "Ah sure... in that it only consists of store-bought puff pastry, cooking chocolate and orange zest, is really uncomplicated, but tastes great and so I make it when I cook for other people because it can be made ahead of time so I can socialise or transport it to other places for dinner, then it just needs 15-20 minutes in the oven... Life is too short to make your own puff pastry."

Really, these things are very yummy and I recommend them to all and sundry.


The xrays, scans etc. tell us that I have three herniated and bulged discs, as well as a torn tendon in my shoulder. Lovely. Having said that, it's all been improving, I'm virtually pain free at the moment and I know from experience that it can be much worse. I really need to take this cue and strengthen my back and stomach to protect my spine a little better.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Xrays, bloods, an ultrsound and a CT scan later

I think I know what's wrong with me, I'm getting old. My older sisters roll their eyes when I say that, but at the moment I can't sit or stand pain free, I can't lie down with my hands behind my head without my rotator cuff behaving badly and one of my nails is trying to escape the tyranny of it's finger (the nail is lifting away from the nail bed, not a nail infection, a little freaky looking though). I wish at least the blood could've been taken in winter, then people might stop staring at my bruised arm before eyeing me suspiciously.

I pick up my xrays, printouts and reports today and go see my doctor tomorrow. I'm thinking that my doctor will check I'm eating right (mostly), that I'm taking vitamins and that she'll send me to physio for the back and shoulder. We'll see tomorrow I guess.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I won some books

At yesterday's book frenzy I put my invite into a draw for a door prize and won six books. One I've read and the others I wouldn't have picked for myself. Maybe it'll broaden my horizons or something... or maybe they're just getting old stock off their hands. Can't really complain about free books though can I?!

Thanksgiving? Kinda

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I don't celebrate it. Being an Australian, why would I? Well, Shawn is American so I like to observe it in some way. So he doesn't miss all his treats from home we'll have a Christmas dinner seperate from my family and I'll add a pumpkin pie to the equation. I made it for him last year as well. It tasted alright, but it took an ungodly amount of time to actually cook, so if anyone has a simple, failsafe recipe they have tested for this then please post it in the comments or email it to me.

Aside from that I also had a members invite to a book store so we had hors d'oeuvres and wine while we shopped for books we were going to get 20% off (go ahead and picture me sighing happily). We followed this up with Japanese for dinner. It's not exactly Thanksgiving with all the extras, but it wasn't a bad substitute.

Old Friend and her Idyll

Catching up with an old, dear friend feels really good. I was very happy to see her life going well. It was really nice to spend time with her and interesting to see how she's changed and how she's stayed the same. To see where she lives, her very cute little daughter, her little idyll with a real backyard, complete with a rainwater tank, a vegetable patch and chickens was actually quite eye opening for me. For so many years I've lived in Sydney and for so many of those years it's been impossible to have a backyard that I can stretch out in due to the price of rent. At the moment I have a courtyard with room for outdoor dining, herbs and one tomato plant. I'm very nesty by nature and have often pined for the things I had growing up (such as the aforementioned chickens and veggie patch). Life is not all bliss I'm sure, but I am sure that she possesses the calm, good grace and the reserves to lead a happy life.

I go to Newcastle often to visit family, but it was strange to be reminded of all the others I knew in Newcastle. It was a little like hearing about a past life because it has been a very long time since I have lived there. It made me wonder how they are all doing, what their life is like now and what stories have they picked up over the years. Maybe I'll get to hear some of those stories at some point.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Birthday 2006

Yesterday was my birthday. I had a really good day.

Work organised a cake which was very tasty and very filling.

Shawn organised a picnic at home by buying all my favourite stuff from Relish. Relish is my favourite healthy takeaway place... although I suspect the potato salad is laced with some sort of class A drug, because it tastes so good! He also ordered this amazing and gorgeous little triple chocolate torte from Mezzapica. So good. The choux pastry, of the profiteroles that were on top of the cake, was ultra fresh. So impressed.

This was all very well, but the weirdest thing about my day is that I got a phone call from the person who became my best friend at my second high school. Unfortunately, I hadn't seen her for ten years though, so this was a complete shock, but a most welcome surprise. When someone who you haven't seen for ten years says "So, what've you been up to?", it's just plain funny. Neither of us had any problems deciding where to start though. It was great to talk to her and I'm looking forward to catching up with her in person next week.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Year Ago Yesterday

Shawn arrived in Sydney to live (not just visit).

Melbourne Cup

To my knowledge, Australia is the only country that stops everything to watch a horse race. The Melbourne Cup is otherwise know as The Race That Stops a Nation. It's a little silly really given that for the rest of the year most people don't go near a form guide, but in early November, most people are either a) all of sudden terribly knowledgable or b) very excited about horses. Having said that, I do enjoy office traditions that involve free champagne.

We used to do it quite well, usually starting with a late lunch of prawns and other tasty morsels and a few glasses of the aforementioned champagne. Sometimes we would go back to work after that, but not always. This year the sweep is only two dollars so winning wouldn't be very exciting. I think this year we go upstairs for half an hour and 'nibbleys' will be provided. This is what happens when a company gets larger. We have less party budget to go round. I still feel fortunate to have had the work experiences that I have, besides, surely there's at least bottle or two of champagne upstairs right?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Early Birthday

Due to my birthday falling during the middle of next week, today we're driving up to Newcastle to celebrate my birthday with family a little early.

Yay presents! Booo getting older!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Apple Macintosh owners: Listen up

Don't go and get parts from an Apple reseller, Apple Store etc. It's a complete waste of money. In the past you had to use Apple parts, but now, you can replace almost everything with PC parts. This is preferable because Apple charge a premium for buying it from them. Let me give you an example. I needed a new cd/dvd drive. It cost me $115 from Next Byte (an Apple store). I bought the same drive, from the same manufacturer, from a PC store and it cost me $47. Ridiculous. Buying your dvd drives and memory from an Apple store? Pearls after swine I tell you! Just buy it from a PC place.

Now you're wondering "Why did you buy two drives?" I'm glad you asked. The first drive purchased from Next Byte, died within 5 minutes of installation. When I put the first disk in it told me to "insert acceptable media", but this was acceptable media. I thought perhaps that the disk might be damaged and tried another disk. The drive then started to make ticking and whirring sounds. I ejected this disk and tried another. The third disk was then simply ejected by the drive. Apparently looking at disks was too hard. I took the drive back to Next Byte.

NB: "You were told to bring in your computer"

Me: "Actually I described the problem with the drive and was told to 'Bring it in'. I assumed the 'it' was the drive we were talking about."

NB: "Well you'll have to bring your whole computer in."

Me: "Would it be possible to just plug this into another machine so we can eliminate the possibility that the problem is with the drive itself?"

NB: "No. We don't have any machines to test it on."

How does a service centre not have any machines to test something on. Oh wait, they do. They're just evil!

I blink slowly at the service centre guy realising that it doesn't matter what I say, he will not test the drive and I will have to bring in my whole computer.

Me: "How long does this normally take?"

NB: "Four to six days for a diagnosis."

Good Lord.

They didn't get back to me. I had to call them. They then offered the pearl of wisdom that my drive wasn't working. Well, no, it wasn't. This is why I brought it in. I told them that they should check the cables and the motherboard just in case. Why do i have to make these suggestions? They then tested that it had nothing to do with the computer and that it was the drive and with that, they said they'd send it back to their supplier and get a new one for me. The problem here is that the supplier says that it looked like it had been dropped and that there was something rattling around inside. They will not wear the cost of that so they can't get a new drive for me. I assured them that the drive was not dropped by me, so they've now sent a report from the supplier, along with an email from Next Byte to the manufacturer. None of this has anything to do with me, I have been a customer of theirs for years and I am not a serial item returner, so I don't expect to be called a liar and I expect them to give me a new drive.

So, since it wasn't my machine at fault I got that back, went to a PC parts place, paid $47 for the same drive (same manufacturer, same model!), installed it and got back to work. I have a new drive, but I still expect Next Byte to make amends. I don't mind having a spare drive.

I assume that Next Byte hope I'll just give up. Oh contrare! I will keep calling them, at least until they hear back from the manufacturer. If they still won't reimburse me, I'll write them a letter stating that myself and the company I work for will not be purchasing any products from them again, we expect for our details to be erased from their customer database, never to darken our door... etc.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Working from work

I'm no longer working from home. How sad. Oh well. It was nice to have nearly two weeks working from home. I found that when I ran out of work to do I got cabin fever and when I had something to do I was fine. It's the same when I'm at work really. With work to do, working from home is much nicer than being at work. It's very relaxed, I don't get interrupted as often, there is real air as opposed to air conditioned air, there is no constant hum from all the other computers and there is natural light. I'd love to work from home and just drop in to work for meetings so I don't miss out on some sort of exchange with other human beings during the day.

More work

Shawn has been offered an extension on his contract. Yay for second incomes. Having work over Christmas, when this is the time of year that work often dies down and there are more expenses, is nice.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Yesterday Shawn and I went to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. On this occasion we didn't actually go so much for the art as for the food. We don't normally choose somewhere quite so swish for lunch, but we have been married for six months now and felt that although it wasn't a yearly anniversary, we still felt it to be a milestone. So the Art Gallery Restaurant is where we chose to celebrate. The views over the Domain and Wooloomooloo where great, but the food was better. We had barrumundi on lentils with a mild curry sauce with a glass of semillion sauvignon blanc, followed by a mango custard with sliced mango and lime. The wine is not expensive, but it did not, I repeat, did not cause an adverse reaction on my skin. So I had a great lunch.

We followed this with a walk through the 2006 Dobell Drawing Prize exhibition. This exhibition kind of makes me want to draw again.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Working from home

Since Thursday, I have been working from home. My computer at work is at a service centre having a problem diagnosed. I love getting to work from home, but I suffer from cabin fever so I wouldn't want this as a permanent arrangement. For now it suits me. I love having the extra time that's not taken up by travel. I've been walking a lot more as a result as well. Always a good thing.

Walk diversion

We diverted from our usual weekend walk routine. This time we walked around Bicenntenial park, followed the waterway away from the bay to see how far the parkland stretched, found the "wetlands" I saw on a map (Not worth seeking out), walked to Jubilee Park, then around the waters edge, along Glebe Point, to The Boathouse restaurant at Blackwattle Bay. We sat around and enjoyed the view before walking back. I think we were gone for a good two hours. My hat doesn't really cover my neck and I got a little burned as a result. Not a good thing for my skin. We were tired for the rest of the day.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Weekend Walks

I'm very lucky to live in an area that is in the city, but also has lots of parks and green strips down behind all the houses.

This area could be a very unattractive strip along a stormwater drain, but the council has down a lot to make the old creek area very nice to be in. There's one particular part that's like a mini-bush-walk, with all native plants.

They are all in flower at the moment.

There is also a pond that is home to a lot of fish, lots of frogs (i think they are banjo frogs). Ducks also visit sometimes.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Yum Cha

Last long weekend was much appreciated. So glad to have the extra day off. Shawn hasn't been on the Light Rail here so we caught that to Chinatown to buy some Yum Cha (Xiao Cha for those from Beijing. It's morning tea/brunch for them. Dim Sum for Americans and possibly for those in the south of China who speak Cantonese).

I will share a secret. If the massive weekend queues for Yum Cha put you off, go buy prawn dumplings from Janny's Cakes in the market place in Chinatown and take them home and steam them. So good. Oh, and for dessert, get some of the custard buns. *purr*

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Courage Under Fire

So, yesterday I got a work email titled "Staff Presentation". I really like being able to come into work in jeans and a t-shirt when I don't have a meeting lined up with a client. "Oh no, we're all going to get told we're dressing too casually for work", I thought. Then I realised that this was a calendar event scheduled for that afternoon. Phew. Next thought was that someone was giving a presentation on something. I then remembered that we'd all been getting a fair amount of praise for various things and that this was probably to present certain members of staff with a little reward. I thought about a few things that I'd been doing well that had received a good response and thought I might be up for something. Of course, it'll probably be a bottle of red, which I don't drink anymore, so I'll pass it on to someone else.

The presentation came around and I was the first one called up. "Suzanne. For Courage Under Fire on the _client_name_ project." "No kidding!" I laughed. This was one of those projects fraught with inexperience and political issues on the client side and language and cultural barriers between us. I was then handed a nice, new, shiny, black iPod Nano. Wow. I was completely shocked, given that during the entire seven years I've been with the company, it has only ever handed out wine. They also had it engraved with my name, the company logo and the year, which was an extra bother they didn't have to go to, so it was nice.

So I'm not in fear of losing my job anytime soon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hello... Summer?

How amazing is this weather? I feel positively human again. I went for a walk to the growers market on Saturday for my usual Banana and Chocolate Gozleme. How I miss bananas! Since two cyclones went through our banana growing areas up north, the price of bananas has quadrupled so I just don't buy them now. I can't wait for the market to recover.

Shawn got a chorizo roll, from the South American food stand, that was incredible. He also picked up some Empanadas for us to share later on in the day.

We used to go for a long (ish) walk every Sunday morning and now that the weather is far more conducive to this we went for a walk through the neighbourhood, our local parks and down to the local creek. The birds were going insane. It's breeding season and they're all looking for new homes and territories. This means we witnessed a lot of smaller birds chasing off bigger birds. One particularly brave soul was a little Willy Wagtail dive-bombing a very patient Kookaburra, who was more interested in the people wandering around the park. We sat down and watched him for a while. After we got up and walked off he followed us for a few blocks. Not an uncommon thing for a Kookaburra to do. I've been followed by a group of three through state forest near Robyn's house.

The weather has also brought me into the backyard more often. This means Kimba gets out for a while too.

She loves it so much I hate bringing her back in again, but she isn't allowed to get sunburned and I can't have the neighbourhood cats realising she's alone and taking the opportunity to pounce on her.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Different Weekend

Could this weekend have been any more different to last weekend? So much rain and so much colder. Spring is such a tease. I can't wait until the grasping hands of winter are really gone. Winter used to be my favourite season, but I feel the cold a lot more now, so I'm very grateful when Spring starts to take over.

On the upside, Saturday was filled with dvds and junk food, mostly chocolate. We didn't eat one healthy thing on Saturday. It was fun, but I don't think I'll be doing it to the same extent next Saturday.

Sunday was more of the same. Too much rain to do much else. I also got a call from a dear friend in New Zealand. This always makes a weekend better.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sunday Garden

On Saturday night we stayed at Robyn's house. On Sunday morning I woke up to the most amazing, warm day and took a walk around the garden to enjoy it.

Everything is in flower.

It's that time of year when all the fruit trees are flowering and only just starting to get leaves and all the flowers on bare wood look phenomenal.

I could have sat in their backyard all day, but we had to get home at some point.

Kimba's New Bed

Really it's a blanket with edges, but she really loves it. If I want to encourage her to go to a certain spot, I put her blanket there and she goes to it. It's pretty amazing. The texture is a little like fur. I suspect this is why she loves it so much.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Art Critique

An email from a fellow creative type has prompted the following thoughts. I wish that when people are giving feedback to someone on their art or design, that they would keep something in mind: You are not doing anyone a service if your feedback is destructive. Don't try to mold people into your vision of what is good, especially if you know full well you have specific narrow definitions of what is good (or what is art or what is SO last year in design ). There is a world of creativity that exists beyond you. You can have your particular likes and dislikes. This makes us the individuals we are, but that doesn't mean that your view is gospel. You may personally dislike something. It just might not be your thing. I can tell you that so much work falls into the "Meh" category for me, but when offering a critique, try to be charitable! Look at what the view of the artist or designer is, then see if you can offer something that will help them. Become part of the process! It's great to have a dialog with someone about their work if you are providing them with things to think about that may result in productivity. If what you say is just going to put them down or make them feel like crap, then don't say it, because it serves no purpose. If you can offer words that will inform their process and help them grow professionally, artistically or personally, then I think that's great, but if it's being destructive, then you haven't achieved anything for either of you.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Biscuits or cookies...

depending on where you're from.

Yesterday I baked some chocolate biscuits from a recipe book that my sister Robyn gave me. So good.

Many didn't make it to the filling stage and were eaten straight off the cooling rack.

Despite our most valiant efforts to eat all of them, we couldn't manage it, so some will have to wait until next weekend to be filled, because today I'm going to make some wholemeal apple muffins.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Yoga, Walks and Wing Chun

Now that Shawn is working, I miss not seeing him at lunch time and straight after work. I have to say that the house is lot cleaner though. I find it easier if I keep myself busy, so this usually means cleaning. Not a bad thing since we have a nice space to be in when it's done.

Yesterday afternoon I made myself do some yoga as well. I've been stacking on weight this winter and not getting much exercise, so I'm feeling very unfit and not altogether right. Although not exactly a fat blasting cardio workout and I was bored during most of it, my whole body felt a lot better afterwards and today I'm sitting up straighter. What I would really like to do, is work on my flexibility and balance with Yoga, strength with weights, and cardio with walking (and a little running). Walking around my neighbourhood is quite nice because off the main streets are lots of parks and down by an old creek they've put in a pond with little fishes and frogs.

My ideal exercise combo would be Yoga, Walks and Wing Chun. If I ever get back to a decent level of fitness I would love, finances permitting, to start taking Wing Chun at the International Wing Chung Academy. This style of martial arts appeals to me greatly because it was developed by a woman. This means my gender, height, strength etc. aren't a huge disadvantage when learning this. Also, who doesn't want to learn the one inch punch?! I think it would help a lot with focus, self-discipline and relaxation. The reason I'd want to get to a reasonable level of fitness before starting is that I think the warm-ups/downs alone would be pretty hard, lots of sit-ups, push ups, jogging, kicking/punching bags. Yeah... we'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hail Almighty

I just drove home from work in THIS. It was not fun, in the least. The hail was only the size of green peas, but there was a hell of a lot of it. The car was slipping and I thought for sure I'd have hail damage, but I didn't see any. Good car.

Mmm TVeee

We went up to Dad and Donna's for lunch this weekend. Very tasty.

While we were there Dad gave us a spare DVD/VCR combo. Life saver. I've been looking for a multi-region one everywhere since our vcr died and the dvd started being crappy... ok crappier. Now I don't have to fight sleep to stay up and watch TV. I can TAPE things now. *purr* Cheap entertainment.

On the topic on cheap entertainment, if we want to see a movie at the cinema we go on cheap nights. We're going to see The Libertine tonight.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


On the odd occassion I get the urge to knit something. This urge only comes about once every couple of years, just long enough for me to forget most of what I learnt last time I did any knitting. So, after some jogging of the memory, I've been knitting a cat blanket/bed for Kimba. Good starter project. The pattern is mostly from Stitch 'n' Bitch and also from my mind because they didn't specify yarn ply only brand name. How annoying. Also, I can't be bothered counting rows so I've been winging it a little with this. It's working out well.

This one I've knitted with "eyelash" type yarn, for the fluffy effect, together with 4 ply on 6.5mm needles. This makes for a very soft blanket which will be good for sticking on the bed when Kimba insists she needs to be on it (which ususally happens on a weekend morning and we're sleeping in). I really don't want her sleeping directly on the bed because it wouldn't be good for Shawn's asthma, no matter how much he thinks Kimba should be allowed on the bed. This way, any fur will be on the blanket which can be removed when we get out of bed.

I should probably also mention that if you're knitting something like this for a pet, go buy the yarn at somewhere like Spotlight. You don't need to spend big on really nice yarn for the cat, she won't know the difference, I promise. A cheap baby 4 ply and way cheap eyelash yarn does it for this.

Next knitting project will be something for a friend's baby.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tax Time!

Recently I was perusing Aimee's blog and reading about all her efforts to lose debt. This made me think about taking a closer look at my finances and not take so many things for granted. First thing I did was go get my tax done for the year. Good plan! They estimate nice fat return, all of which will go straight onto my credit card. It won't completely kill off wedding, honeymoon and US trip expenses, but I'm very close! Then I just have an old, but quite large, student loan to pay off. At least the only interest that get's added to it is whatever inflation was for that year. Yay?

Another thing we're doing is getting dvd's out from the local library instead of renting them from a video store. They don't stock a lot of pure entertainment (not that I'm interested in anyway), but they have stuff we want to watch regardless: cooking shows, music documentaries, etc. I'm sure we'll make our way through what interests us pretty quickly, but it's still saving us money in the meantime.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Long Lunch

What nice up-turn my day has had. I met Shawn in the CBD for lunch after he went to see his employment agent. I decided we should eat somewhere a little nicer than the average sandwich shop for once, so I took him to Chinta Ria Temple of Love. I love that place. It aways feels like summer inside, even when it's winter. Shawn then tells me that he got a three month contract. So we definitely had cause to have something nicer than a sandwich. The food was delicious, the colour inside made me happy and the massive, smiling stone Buddah that greets you when you enter is awesome. I challenge anyone to eat at that place and feel cranky. I wish I'd brought my camera!

On my way to work...

This morning I watched a beautiful German Shorthaired Pointer get hit by a car. I watched it get hit, get rolled over, but it jumped out from under the side and started running down the street! Incredible. Although I fully expect that the poor animal had broken bones and was just running on adrenalin. I was looking for how I could turn my car around to go see if I could help it because the car that hit it kept going for a while. Thankfully it looked like it was just looking for somewhere to stop.

There are a couple of things I don't like about this whole thing, other than it's just awful to see a a living thing getting hit by a car only two meters away from you. I can imagine how the driver who actually hit the dog felt about this. The other things I don't like are that the driver who hit it should have had full visibility of the animal from where he was, although I know how easy it is to be a tad vague when you've just woken up and generally your eye looks out for other cars and things that are actually taller than the bonnet of your car. The other thing I don't like is that a dog was roaming the streets unattended, although I know that GSPs require a lot of exercise and if they aren't getting it, they'll break out and run around themselves. Pets deserve better protection. If you have a dog like that, you need a tall fence! I'll give him this though, he was crossing at the lights!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Letter From DIMIA

We received a letter from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs yesterday. Shawn was granted his Partner Visa (temporary). Very exciting and so quick! We only gave all requested information to them a couple of weeks ago. This visa goes for two years and then he gets the permanent partner visa. We were battening down the hatches in preparation for interviews, requests for more information, general interrogation and discomfort. Whilst I don't exclude these things from future enquiries, it's good to know we got to this stage without them. So happy.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

While Asleep

Last night, while sleeping, I was very active. Shawn woke me up with hugs because I was having nightmares, or so he thought. I was actually having annoying-mares. The first one: I was going over something that happened at work. I had to make a fix to some game backgrounds ( a lot of my work is fixing other peoples work), but each background was slightly different in areas where it was supposed to be identical, so I had to fix that too. Waking up while making a deep, slightly Marge Simpson sounding, disgruntled "Mmmmm." is an odd sensation.

Coding Again

I've been enjoying coding for Anguish again. I have one small project (one room and one object) in the approval queue and I'm working on a larger project at the moment: 11 npc (Non-Player Characters) files, 40 object files and 40 room files. Most of it is finished, except for the hard stuff. There is quite a lot of hard stuff, so I haven't been too inspired to work on it, thinking that what's left is going to be a struggle. This is, probably, mostly true, but I've found that after a long break from coding, I can see how to code some things instantly. I have no idea how this works. It may be that coming back to it with fresh eyes, I see it old problems in a new light, or that I've had time to soak up certain concepts and add new code knowledge to my brain in the meantime. Probably all of the above.

Although not a visual pursuit, I think it's good for me to be getting into creative projects outside of work.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Backyard Visit

This beautiful red cyclamen grows between the pavers and a brick wall in our backyard. If I have to have weeds, this one rates pretty highly with me. If only it'd grow in place of all the other weeds in our courtyard.

I let Kimba join me since, sadly, she's only allowed in the backyard when accompanied. If we let her out by herself, she tends to get set upon by some cats that live two doors down. This has at least twice resulted in visits to the vet. Physically, she isn't the tough young thing she used to be, but she still won't be run out of her own backyard (and fair enough). There are pros and cons about Kimba staying indoors most of the time. One pro is that the vet told me she probably shouldn't sit outside in the sun any more due to being all white and having some sun damage on her nose (which thankfully went away after a winter indoors). Pro #2: other cats can't attack her while she's inside. Pro #3: no unnecessary vet bills! Con: she loves it out there and doesn't get all the same catty stimuli inside. As the weather starts to improve we'll spend more time out there with her.

I haven't been out into the backyard for weeks. Too cold at this time of year to spend any great deal of time out there, but I noticed the cyclamen flowering and had to get a better look. I took a look around at how all the plants were going while I was there. The Parsley was going nuts, as was the Lemon Thyme so I used both in a massive Shepherds Pie I made last night. Looking forward to the weather getting warmer and doing some general gardening, as well as repotting some bonsai and giving them some love and much needed attention.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Free E-mail Account Security

A comment prompted this one. I think my response is too big to put in a comment. This is my understanding of the subject.

Do free email account providers collect your personal information? Yes. When you sign up they ask for your real name, postcode and country. Actually, they ask for more than that, but that's the only personal info you have to give (at least with yahoo. I'd assume they are all pretty generic).

Do they sell your personal information. No.

Do they collect information about what sites you navigate to on the net. Yes. They set cookies and check what they cookies has collected later on. Can you prevent this? Yes. Go into your prowsers security preferences and delete any cookies you don't want.

Are there any cookies you would want? Yes. These email providers set cookies to provide a timeout for you email account so that if you forget to log off no one can wander up and go through your email.

Do they collect information about what ads you click on from your email page. Yes. Then they know what products and services you are interested in and will show you ads for similar services next time. They will also make this information available to their marketing department so they can more effectively sell advertising space. So they would say something like "Oh yeah, there's a huge market for pink, knitted dog coats. We've had 327,486 click-throughs on that in the last week!"

Do they capture your IP? Yep, but then anyone can do that. _I_ can do that. Most sites want to have a vague idea of where their traffic is coming from.

Do they read your email. I highly doubt it. This would contravene privacy laws in any developed country, but like our phone conversations, these can be acquired by a subpoena.

Do they capture keywords from email subject fields. Yes. This is good and bad. Good because they use this tool to keep spam out of my in box. Bad because it's something they are allowed to read and most people think all communications are private. Solution: Just don't put anything personal in your subject lines. If you don't want your subject lines used for market research, don't stick product names in there.

My Conclusion: It depends on how gung-ho you want to be about it. I figure that I get massive amounts of storage, an email service I can use anywhere in the world, they don't get as much browser info from me as they would probably like and I don't pay for it. Outside of the net you expose information about yourself all the time. I signed up for a booklover card with a bookstore. I noticed that they spelled my name incorrectly and weirdly. Amazingly I started receiving junk snail mail with the same weird spelling. When people in the street ask you to answer a few questions for research. Do you acquiesce? Lastly, your name, address and phone number are in the phonebook.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Four Things List...

A friend asked me to fill in the four things list, might as well add it to the blog as well.

Things you may not have known about me ...

(A) Four jobs I have had in my life... (other than graphic design stuff. Everyone knows that already):
1. Kitchenhand
2. Data entry clerk
3. Artist
4. Volunteer sales person for a charity

(B) Four movies I would watch over and over
1. Blade Runner
2. Labyrinth (14 times baby)
3. Lord of the Rings
4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

(C) Four places I have lived
1. Newcastle (2 different places)
2. Melbourne (3 different places)
3. Sydney (6 different places... i think)
4. Sydney... again (see above)

(D) TV shows I love to watch:
1. Gardening Australia
2. Dr. Who
3. My name is Earl
4. Farscape (missed it on tv. watching it on dvd now)

(E) Four places I have been on vacation:
1. Death Valley, USA
2. Kyoto, Japan
3. London, England
4. Wagga Wagga, Australia (school holidays at my Aunt's farm)

(F) Websites visited daily:

(G) Four of my favourite foods:
1. Chocolate
2. Nutella with strawberries
3. Chicken and basil risotto
4. Hickory smoked lemon chicken

(H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Somewhere warm, nice beach, warm water.
2. Blue Mountains, in front of fireplace, looking out onto Megalong Valley.
3. Beach cottage, again in front of fire, uninterrupted view of the rain over the ocean.
4. In a house that I own.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Visa procession

First came the Fiance Visa, then the Bridging visa, next will be the Spouse visa, followed by the Permanent Resident Visa. We've been piecing together lots of bits of paper to send to immigration. So we're all about photocopying, tracking down a Justice of the Peace who is not out of the office, getting statutory declarations from family, getting things signed, printed and continuing the serial that is Relationship History Statement. Next is passport sized photos. It's all very tedious and expensive. At least after the Spouse visa we get a break for two years until the permanent resident visa comes up.

A friend is moving...

away from Sydney. I get it. It's hard to maintain lifestyle in Sydney because it's so expensive to live here, but it doesn't make it any easier to see them go.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Left work in time...

to see a burnt orange horizon.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Settings Changes

I've made some changes to the settings for my blog. You no longer need to be a registered user to comment, but you do need to do a word verification (simply type the word they display into a text field). This prevents me from getting bot generated spam in my comments.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Suit, Superman and Sleep

Yesterday was kind of busy. After work, I went and picked up Shawn to go shopping for a suit for him. He's lost so much weight (35 lbs!!!) that his old suit just doesn't fit properly and looks a little off. We decided he could get away with wearing it, but that should get another one. When he tried it on the visual difference really struck me. He looks so good in the new suit. Whilst the finances would rather we didn't buy it (it was on sale though!), he needs it for interviews now that all the travel and wedding stuff is over. He's actually in at a temp agency right now and has an interview on Friday as well. You can do it, baby.

So, after the suit shopping we stopped for a coffee. That is to say that we both stopped so I could have coffee. Shawn just fights off the sleeping sickness (jetlag) au naturalle and doesn't want me pushing me filthy, filthy habit on him. We then wandered down to the cinema on George Street to see Superman Returns. This is not something I would go and see of my own volition, but Shawn is a comic fanboy and I'm happy to do things that make him go: "Eeeee!" like a small child with a sugar rush.

After fighting off the very strong desire to sleep towards the end of the movie, we went home. I slept deeply. Instead of waking up at 5am or earlier, I woke to my alarm and could've kept sleeping. I'm hoping that staying up so much later last night will mean an end to the jetlag.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Katamari Damacy

What's that you say? It's a PS2 game that has reinvigorated my interest in video games. Shawn bought it while we were in the US. It is the strangest game I've ever played. Strange, fun, original and addictive. Let me give you an idea. The King of the Cosmos got drunk one night and broke all the stars in the sky. How irresponsible. He's not a very good parent and as such he's making you, the prince, his son, do all the work at fixing the problem so the night sky can be all shiny again. How do you do this? The King gives you a small sticky ball (a katamari) and you have to roll it around on earth and collect lots of objects, making each Katamari big enough to make a star out of, to replace all the stars that were broken. You start off by collecting small things such as push pins and stamps, then work your way up through sushi, shoes, cats, people, to cars, houses, larger buildings, etc. Don't expect the King to be very supportive either. At the end of your efforts he may respond by telling you to get out or by saying how disappointing your katamari is.

The other thing about this game is the music. The theme song by itself is extremely infectious and it often finds it's way into my head during unrelated activities, but aside from that, you'll find that with each katamari you'll get one of several different songs. It might be cute Casio-like techno, or swing, or jazz. It's also worth mentioning that when the King speaks, the sound that comes out is vinyl record scratching. I love this game. I try not to play it too often though. I need my eyes for other things.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

I still have jet lag...

but at least Shawn has it with me. We woke up early, but continued to laze around in bed for a while. I made myself some coffee, returned to bed with it and Shawn read a few chapters of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to me. I would've had this book finished a long time ago, but my eyes don't like having to stare at a computer screen all day, then have to focus on printed text. They give me an ultimatum: read and get eye pain and headaches, or don't. This is very annoying given that I love to read.

After that, we walked to our local growers market, ate bacon and egg rolls for breakfast while we watched kids getting pony rides, then returned home with dessert of a chocolate crepe to share.

The rest of the day has been filled with watching old Angel and Farscape episodes. Good day.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Good riddance Vegas, byebye US, hello Sydney

Shawn and I have decided to never go back to Vegas. Everyone drives like a crazy person, all the main casinos and hotels have near zero available parking, we missed the service part of the wedding that we went there for in the first place, we seemed to have a lot of trouble meeting up with friends who were there with us and I came down with an unholy combination of alcohol poisoning, heatstroke, dehydration and emotional exhaustion. Basically we had a whole bunch of things go wrong and it's really put us off. It did have it's moments though. I got to spend some more time getting to know some of Shawn's friends better and there's really not too much opportunity for that while we live in Australia. In addition to that, the night before we left, I remember looking down onto all the cars and lights over the edge of the upstairs, outdoor bar at Margaritaville at the Flamingo and thinking how visually awesome it was. Of course I was drunk at the time, but nonetheless, the visual spectacle that is Vegas can not be denied.

Although we both feel as if we were being given the hint to go home by unkown forces, it was sad leaving the US. Knowing what a great bunch of friends Shawn has, makes it hard. I don't like seeing them being separated.

We arrived home just after 10pm on Wednesday Night. Bed never felt so good. I love you bed.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Family welcome and trees

I can't believe it's Thursday already.

On Saturday, we went to a second celebration of our wedding. This was held by Shawn's Mum and Tía (this is Spanish for Aunt). I was introduced to a lot of Shawn's family that I hadn't met before, ate some amazing cake, received some lovely wishes for our life together and was made to feel very welcome as a new addition to the family.

On Sunday we went to San Diego to catch up with friends.

Wednesday, we did a day trip to Sequoia National Park.

It should probably be mentioned that this is not really a day trip from LA, or at least, should not really be done as a day trip. We're strapped for time, love road trips and wanted to get out and see some of the natural beauty of this part of the world before we left, so that's our reasoning.

Part of this trip involves driving along a large portion of the Kern River. We were teased by glimses and decided to get out and have a look.

Very pretty area. We only stayed for only a little while then headed back down to the car.

Our real destination was the Sequoias. I really wanted to see these huge and beautiful redwoods I'd been hearing about. I had seen photos of these before and thought they looked pretty amazing, but it really was beyond imagining for me. Just as the photos I'd seen did them no justice, neither does this one, but it might give you a vague idea of the scale involved.

We only had time enough to make it to the Trail of 100 Giants, we didn't make it to the main national park further north. Not complaining though. What I saw was enough to keep me going until next time.

Today we dropped off some books for Shawn's Dad and picked up a huge tray of Shawn's Mum's enchiladas. I haven't tried them yet, but I hear they're great. Looking forward to that.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

In the U.S.

I arrived in the US yesterday. I didn't get any sleep on the plane (Robyn, a quarter of a Restavit does not work... not on planes anyway). This is surprising since I'm usually capable of at least five hours sleep between Australia and the US whether I have chemical assistance or not. After this I feared that jetlag would hit me pretty hard, since it usually does anyway. Surprisingly, I've felt really good. I napped for about four hours that afternoon, was awake until 3 am, then slept for seven hours. I could've slept longer, but I didn't want to over-compensate. So I think the sleeping pattern will be okay with minimal assistance... even though coffee seemed to taste extra good this morning.

Our second day in the US was good. I'd forgotten how cheap food and clothes were here. We went out for lunch and did some clothes shopping for basics that would've cost a lot more in Sydney.

Here is a t-shirt I bought:

Here is a skirt I bought:

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My Eyes Hurt

Work has been a little insane over the last couple of days. Always the way just before I go on holidays. Glad it's all done with.

Tomorrow, Shawn and I fly to the US. I wish I had a little more time before flying. I dislike not having any time to wind out of work mode before I go somewhere. I'd also like to have more time to give my cat guilt pats. I hate putting her in a cattery when I go away. I try to not do it at all unless it's unavoidable.

So I've been off to the supermarket to buy some neccessary last minute trip things: big bottles of water, eye drops, small packet of Lavazza ground coffee. Despite the fact that I've wound my coffee intake down to only one (1) a day, I still can't travel without a small coffee press and some decent coffee. It's like a security blanket almost. I don't feel comfortable unless I know I can get coffee when I and wherever I need it. This is especially true of a trip that will result in jetlag. I used to try to deal with jetlag naturally, you know, getting right into the new timezone by eating, sleeping and staying awake in the new time, but it just doesn't work as well as caffeine and sleeping tablets (although not at the same time).

Hoping I can post updates while I'm away.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Yesterday we drove up to my Sister's place at Port Stephens. Shawn did the driving so my eyes could have a rest. This meant I got to take a few photos. I also got to have a good look at the things around me whereas I'm normally in driver-mode.

The F1 was very wet, sometimes misty and always hard to see the turns of the road.

We were very happy to get out of the car and inside to a wood fire and welcoming family.

Today, after a sleep in and coffee, we picked some fruit from their mandarin tree and were sent on our merry way after being fed some pizza. I was just in the mood for pesto and cherry tomatoes too.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Birthday to Narelle. Happy thoughts to you today.

Today I had a sleep in after staying up late to work on some code (C) for Ancient Anguish. For those who don't know, this is a text based RPG (Role Playing Game) that I program on. Sleeping in is great, at least right up until the impending caffeine headache.

This morning I went to our local growers market with Shawn. It was raining so we both just dropped in to buy tasty turkish Gozlemes. These are a dough filled with either organic honey, bananas and chocolate, mince and spinach and various other things. All very tasty with some lemon.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Rain Much?

I woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain. It's been like that in Sydney for over a week now. I've been kind enjoying the winteryness of it, but getting out of a warm bed when you'd rather lie there and listen to rain, isn't really ideal. Thankfully I get to drive to work, so I feel far better off than everyone I see trudging through wind and rain to get to work.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Inaugural Post

For years and years I toyed with the idea of starting a blog and documenting events, creative stuff and experiences. I miss sharing daily life with friends who have moved away from Sydney or who live in other cities, so I have that extra bit of motivation now. Future posts will include photos too.