August 2011 archive
For once, I’m pretty stoked with Auckland public transport: the new Outer Link bus every 15 minutes means I have a new alternative for commuting. The incongruity of the system means even though it’s a little more roundabout than the bus I’ve been catching, and thus takes longer, it’s half the fare – so I’m saving money and it’s a more reliable service. No more waiting half an hour in the pitch dark to get home is a win in my book.
Of course, as winter ebbs away, it’s also getting feasible for me to walk or even run to work and back. Price-wise and health-wise, that’s obviously the best bet.
All up, I have four options for commuting:
$3 one way, more direct route (5-10 minutes), comes every 20-30 minutes – but isn’t exactly reliable.
$1.50 one way, slightly longer route, comes every 15 minutes.
40-50 minutes walk. I really enjoy the walk, though it exposes me to our notoriously fickle weather which can swing from scorching to monsoon-like and back in that time.
Literally 5-10 minutes, which is convenient, especially on days I have meetings and interviews. (Parking is free at work.)
At the moment, it’s all pretty ad-hoc; I go with the flow depending on the weather, what time I get up, whether T needs the car and whether I have appointments during the day. Having so many options is awesome, and it’s another reason not to move. T keeps arguing that we can live anywhere now that he has a bike and I can drive – but I know better than anyone else that cars are unreliable, and as a rider there are days he simply won’t be able to ride to work. (Also, driving can be kind of annoying.) As a lifelong PT user, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable living somewhere where I didn’t have the option of hopping a bus to the office.
How do you commute? What would you choose out of these options?
Reasons why although T having a motorbike once more makes my life easier (did I mention that? Oh, well, you’ll see it in our monthly roundup…), for example, being able to drive to meetings/interviews during the day, and not having to wait for the bus home in the cold and dark, it also adds a dimension of stress.
1. I am a very, very nervy person. I jump at everything. So it’s no surprise I’m a nervous driver, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to sit my full licence.
2. To that end, I have to devise all sorts of roundabout routes when I do take the car. Working normal hours also means braving peak hour. It’s near impossible to turn right out of the street I work on to go home, so often I wuss out and turn left. A bit of a detour ensues, obviously. The same goes for leaving the house in the mornings, complicated by the fact that I have to reverse out. DON’T LAUGH. Hmm. I think we should impose a backing-in rule, actually.
3. Traffic. Is there anything more irritating than getting up to a traffic light just as it turns red? At every single intersection on your journey?
To that end, I don’t drive in every single day. There are days it rains or it’s too cold for the bike to start up at 5am. Also, I like to walk to work occasionally.
You look like a Power Ranger, I said:
But seriously, I’m happy for him. Remember when he bought his Xbox? I was so ridiculously heartwarmed by the whole thing then. I’ve never had anything like this for myself, he said.
And now we can go gazelle on travel/wedding/honeymoon saving – and after that, a down payment. A project car and dirt buggy are still on his wishlist, but financially still years away, not to mention they require a garage. So really, that’s going to come after home ownership.
Ever have one of those days that’s just…productive? I can’t remember the last time I ended the week feeling so good. No kidding, I literally left the office on Friday beaming and generally feeling in my prime, ready to tackle the week ahead head-on.
It’s also been a good week diet-wise, money-wise and exercise-wise. Not so much socially or in terms of paying any attention to my other pastimes, but you can’t have it all now can you? As Nicole (whose tagline is ‘a life less bullshit’) put it, “You can’t have all the shit you want at the same time. You can have all the shit you want over the course of a lifetime, but you can’t have it all at once.”
To the links!
Krystal shares how her freelance business has grown this year.
The worst mistakes the self-employed can make, via FruGal.
Well Heeled asks: Would you reschedule your honeymoon to save $2000?
Suburban Sweetheart lays out the differences between writing and blogging.
Geek in Heels wonders what the best course of action is when bigots link to your content.
Get Rich Slowly explains how to learn a new language – for free.
Title says it all: My hobbies are not statements about your values, by Nicole and Maggie.
“Am I the only woman around that needs my ego inflated on a regular basis?” No, Heather, you’re not.
Umm. Pesto and goat cheese on pizza? Yes please! Via Iowa Girl Eats.
Closet Cooking’s blue cheese guacamole.
Sarah at Yes and Yes goes on a cheesemaking adventure.
Living Well on Less tries menu unplanning, in order to eat healthier. (That’s pretty much my laissez-fare MO.)
Finally, here are seven words: Blackberry Coconut Custard Chocolate Chunk Cookie Pie!
I achieved a culinary first this month.
Want to guess?
Image by wiccked via Flickr
Oh, go on. I bought and cooked fresh fish!
Why let T have all the fishy fun? Besides, I like fish way more than he does; this was way overdue.
While whole fish are pretty affordable, neither of us has the desire (or in my case, skill) to prepare them. And I’m sure as hell not going to pay upward of $20 a kilo for fillets.
So when I saw hoki fillets for an insanely cheap $10/kg recently, I figured it was time to expand my repertoire. It was goooooood. The first time we baked them with butter and herbs, the second time with soy and grated ginger. So easy, so healthy, minimal mess. And while I love seafood, I don’t generally find it very filling – but this hit the spot. Only now am I regretting not snapping a photo! I’ll never make a food blogger…
It also got me thinking about how our shopping habits have changed in the past couple of years. I would never have imagined myself buying any of the following items, but lo and behold:
And on the other hand, for a long time now we’ve basically stopped purchasing:
- instant noodles
- frozen dinners
- ready-made sauces
- frozen stirfry veggie packs (they always have at least one vegetable I hate)
That’s not to say we’re paragons of health. I bake every week and eat something sweet every single day. We buy ice cream and cereal almost every week (so tasty but NOT frugal) and we love the odd ready-made cake mix, block of chocolate, hash brown and bag of chips. But eating more natural foods makes me feel virtuous (mental benefit) and physically healthier.
I’ve tripped myself up a fair few times over the years, professionally speaking. I’m not good at being put on the spot. For me, preparation is key. While there are some things you can’t plan for, in most cases the majority of questions or curveballs that come your way can be anticipated with a bit of research!
Faux pas I’ve made (but which didn’t seem to hurt me) include:
Disclosing - more or less – what I was making. But in the first case, they offered me a fair bit more, and in the second, well, I was already overpaid, so I couldn’t have come out any worse off. In fact, I still ended up with more than I’d hoped for.
Not being prepared for certain questions, which in hindsight, I should really have expected. I’ve probably broadcast it enough times here that while I have lots of personal goals for the next few years in life, I really have no clear plan for the career branch of that equation. But working in digital does mean you could well be doing a job in future that doesn’t currently exist. Luckily, my brain was working relatively quickly that day, and I managed to blurt out something half coherent about continuing to learn, grow and seize opportunities.
Not finishing my drink. Lesson learned: Drink up your hot beverage. Quickly. Before it gets cold and nasty.
Image via Wikipedia
On the other hand, I’ve had a few things going for me which have got me to my position now.
For one, reliability – I always thought this was a given, but apparently it’s a biggie – too many flaky creatives around?
It also helps to have a foot in the door. Bosses don’t like to gamble; they’re more willing to bet on someone already known and trusted. Contacts and work experience, rather than resumes, have been more important for me.
That said, I wish I had made more of the potential contacts I’ve come across over the years. And as socially awkward as I continue to feel – a curse which often makes me wonder if I’m in the right field – it’s a reminder that no matter how big my workload, I need to make more of an effort to cultivate relationships with my coworkers during the work week.
What mistakes should you have known better than to make along your career path?
Tags: career, work
No, not you. Unless you go by the name of baked cheesecake, or Lea Michele (I was recently told I don’t seem like a Glee kinda gal. I totally get that. Despite being a lot less of a downer than I once was, I’m still a dry, sardonic, House-ish type more than anything). Or unless you’re a regular reader, in which case I also greatly treasure your loyalty
What really makes my heart sing are these tunes. The brassy Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You
The echoing chorus lines in Go Your Own Way
That killer Tuesday’s Gone riff
So that’s my three tunes for Tuesday. What are yours?
Image via Wikipedia
I am really, really starting to get the travel itch. I haven’t quite got around to updating my sidebar, but I’ve hit $10k in the travel fund. Meanwhile, it seems everywhere I turn people are quitting their jobs and heading overseas, either for kickass new jobs or just to do the OE thing.
Meanwhile, I love my work, and am not thinking of leaving anytime soon – but a small team certainly makes it a lot harder to take time off in this office.
It looks like over Christmas/New Year’s we’re going to Coro Gold (a huge concert) and spending a few days in the Coromandel before and after. I’d also like 2012 to include a ski trip to Queenstown, and our South Island road trip. I originally wanted to do the latter over Christmas, but T wants to campervan it, and rentals are INSANE at that time of year.
2013, I think, will be the year of the US road trip when we’re both 25 (apparently the magic age for renting cars. We recently went to a brief seminar by a Lonely Planet writer about, well, US road trips, and I think all factors taken into account, it’ll be easiest to do this in two years). As for Europe, I’m not sure when that fits in; that’s probably two separate trips, with one being a honeymoon? Perhaps one could be done late next year – I’m keen to experience a white Christmas. I really do want this to happen, so I’m planning to talk to travel agencies early next year, and hit up the Travel Expo again (that’s where we got a wicked deal for Rarotonga). Now that there’s a bit of money in the kitty, I feel like planning can seriously commence.
It occurred to me last night that maybe it would make sense to do all our travelling in one year. Heck, we wouldn’t even need that long; take off, say, six months, do America/Canada, Europe/UK, and Asia on the way home.
How much would it cost? I have no idea. Married with Luggage (thanks Move to Portugal for bringing them to my attention) seems to be doing it pretty frugally. I’ve subscribed, obviously We don’t have many contacts overseas, but perhaps housesitting or couchsurfing would be options some of the time. Would either of us be able to work at all? Again, I have no idea – we’d have to look into visas.
But most importantly – would we, would I, enjoy long-term travel? I don’t really know if I would. I’m very much a homebody at heart. Being more or less on the move constantly, I think, would be physically and mentally draining, and overwhelming for the senses. I guess it could potentially be more economical in the long run, as opposed to spreading the trips out over a few years, but I’m just as interested in getting the most out of our travels as simply racking up stamps in my passport (and would it leave us with nothing to look forward to in the future?)
Tags: reflections, travel
I have wayyyy too many things to talk about, so I’ll be getting my bullet point on today:
- I am so, so in love with food right now. T and I have recently established a bit of a weekend tradition, which involves Mediterranean-style lunches of breads, olive oil, dips and cheese. So delicious, I could cry with happiness. Is it wrong that food brings me so much pleasure? I don’t care – anything this amazing can’t be bad. If I could do nothing but read, cook, eat, run and write forever, I couldn’t ask for more.
- Yet, my appetite appears to be shrinking. I’m not quite sure why. It might be the fact that many days I’m just too busy to eat lunch until mid-afternoon, and that’s confusing my digestive system?
- And on that topic: how do you morning exercisers do it? I cannot run for a couple of hours after eating – it just does not work. I’ll admit, I have gone running first thing before breakfast in the past, but I can’t go very far before needing to head back. Running after work is more viable, especially since I’m not practically crawling home light-headed from hunger these days like I used to (see above point). In fact, I went for a solid half-hour jog last night at 6.30 without even starting to lose momentum.
- Week three is going well, grocery-wise: we’re right on target for budget, even with about $20 of non-food items (lightbulbs, sponge, tampons, cotton buds, etc). Add to that $10 for herbs and veggies, and $15 for a huge salami at the farmer’s market.
- I’ve been having these recurring dreams about high school. Dudes, I have been out of school for five years! Why is this happening? And specifically, they involve my one-time best friend. I can only attribute this to the fact that we saw each other again for the first time a few months ago. But again – why now, and not then?
- This week I realised just how long I’ve been blogging, and how long I’ve been following certain bloggers. When they mention an incident that happened a year or more ago and you specifically recall reading the post they wrote at the time…it’s a bit of a shock.
The news has been all about the weather this week (and Telecom’s short-lived, ill-advised rugby campaign).
First snowfall in decades, they say. I reckon the stuff I saw was more hail than anything else, but apparently in town and out south it was much more snowflakey. Still, EXCITING! Everyone in the office rushed to the windows on Monday afternoon, mesmerised by the sight. “It’s snowing, if you’re interested!” Yes, yes, they were. I sit right by the glass side, luckily, so I had prime position. I got to watch as the white stuff collected on the windowsill, then melted away again.
The bitter blast lasted until Wednesday, when the polar chill started to lift. Good thing too, because our electricity went out at about 7.30pm. Luckily, we’d eaten, but I’d just started cooking lunch for the next couple of days. We had no luck getting through to Vector, so ended up going to bed at 9pm.
By the morning, there was no change. Never have I been so glad that our hot water runs on gas!!! (It’s amazing how little you can do in in winter without power. No light, no computer, no TV, no reading. We really need to get a torch; I have a few candles around the place, but they were barely bright enough to navigate the house with.)
It’s relatively easy to get through to Vector at 6.30am. Not so easy, apparently, for the linesman to arrive within the 75 minutes, or even the 90 minutes that I waited before I had to leave for work. Tweeting Vector during the day didn’t help; they responded, but only as far as to ask me whether I’d called the call centre.
T handled it when he got home; apparently the guy showed up at 9am, and didn’t bother to call. I kind of figured I would be contacted a) in the event of lateness and b) certainly if said staffer came by and nobody was home. I thought wrong, clearly.
The timing could have been worse, though. After all, our fridge was desperately in need of a defrost. And it’s so iced up (and it’s cold enough being August and all) that even at 20-plus hours of blackout, none of our food went bad. We escaped pretty lightly.
What’s the longest power outage you’ve ever had?
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Summary: A harrowing tale of the struggle to survive that will make you lose even more faith in humanity.
Although I didn’t particularly enjoy Steinbeck’s style – though much of that can be attributed to my dislike for the rough spoken dialect he brings to life on the page – the story itself dug its claws into me and still hasn’t released them. His own research adds a ring of authenticity to life on the road and in refugee camps, as the Joad family struggle to put gas in the car, keep their vehicle moving, put food in their mouths and keep the children together. In a word: heartbreaking.
The Villa Girls – Nicky Pellegrino
Summary: Summer love never did run smooth.
I ended up reading this as I got it from work. As chick-lit goes, it’s not too bad – although if it hadn’t been half set in Italy and food hadn’t played such a large part in it, I might not have rated it so highly. Just saying. Orphaned young, Rosie has always shied away from being around others. But that changes when she meets Enzo on a trip abroad. As heir to an olive oil dynasty, he’s in hot demand – but never found any of the local girls of interest. A surprisingly dark family secret comes between them, though, and their romance appears to be doomed.
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Summary: Naive, precocious child’s actions have long-reaching consequences – most devastatingly, for others. (Honestly, people. Just tell the truth.)
How sing-songy does the author’s name sound? Perhaps this has something to do with his overly flowery prose. To be honest, I couldn’t stand it. The entire first third was almost unbearable in its slow-moving narrative – after all, it covers a whopping two-day period – to say nothing of the intolerable aristocratic family. (It’s all a very bit Cluedo, actually). The rest of the novel, however, was a rip-roarer – the gritty war and hospital chapters sucked me in and were the sole reason I stayed up late to finish this in one night. And while I understand the requirement for the final epilogue, at the same time, I would almost rather it was cut – except for the very last two pages. Sorry to be so vague; I’m not sure how widely known the plot is and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Overall, I’d give it a 3.5/5.