• What’s good weather worth?

    Auckland is my hometown. It has a few things going for it – work opportunities, friends and family, ethnic cuisines, and everything from beaches to parks to bush. And as our biggest city, we take amenities like libraries, concerts and the like for granted. Sure, there’s not a lot that’s affordable to do, but if an international band is touring, if they make a stop in New Zealand, you know what city they’ll be playing in. That kind of thing.

    But on so many quality of life factors, it fails hard.

    Public transport? Dire.

    Cost of living? Astronomical.

    Housing market? Out of control.

    English: Auckland Harbour Bridge. The harbour ...

    Auckland Harbour Bridge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    And you can add the weather to that list. After basking under the South Island’s glorious spring skies last month, Auckland has been spectacularly depressing. I’m not quite my mother, who religiously watches the weather forecast every night and practically plans the next day around it; and I don’t think I have SAD, but the weather does have a major effect on my moods. And that effect is generally one of disgust and frustration.

    (That said, moaning about the weather here does pale in comparison to what the US east coast is facing right now with Hurricane Sandy. At least we’re relatively sheltered here from most kinds of natural disasters.)

    Steel skies. Constant rain. It’s impossible to get out and enjoy our parks, beaches and bush – and if we’re cheated out of a second summer in a row, I’m predicting VERY BAD THINGS on a national scale. This blazing weekend just gone was the best, in memory, for about the past year. Here’s hoping it’s a taste of what’s to come.

    On the other hand, one could live somewhere beautiful and warm and sunny in regional New Zealand. But unless you could work remotely and make decent money doing so, all you could realistically aspire to would be working at the local supermarket. Or bakery.  Or something along those lines.

    What’s important to you in choosing a place to live? Does weather matter?

  • Friday Five: Performers I’d like to see live

    Friends, I have made one last outrageous expenditure. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are coming to Auckland in January. I tried to get tickets to their last gig in 2007, and failed. This time, I would not be thwarted.

    I’m paying $160 apiece for the privilege … and it burns even more that this is a lineup sans Frusciante, who is about 75% of the entire reason I love this band, but now that I’ve seen Metallica, the Chilis are the only other group I want to see before I (or rather, they) die.

    That said, here are five other performers I wouldn’t mind seeing in concert:

    Elton John

    Would need to be up front in a fairly personal show, or else what’s the point? But I would DIE if I could marvel at the legend himself up close.

    Michael Buble

    I find it hilarious that there is a Facebook group called Michael Buble’s voice makes my clothes fall off. Forget Barry White.

    Maroon 5

    I only recently realised Maroon 6 has been around for a decade. Can I get a WOAH to that?! I have fond memories of a lazy summer afternoon practising for the high school talent quest at our drummer’s house and bashing out a rough version of their first big hit, Harder to Breathe. And now look at them, all Jaggered up. Adam Levine would put on a damn good show, I can just tell.

    Michelle Branch

    The artist who made me want to write songs and play guitar. An artist who actually inspired me to buy an album (Hotel Paper, which I picked up in Singapore).


    The diva herself. Granted, there are plenty of her songs that I really dislike, but anyone with a vocal range of five octaves is, quite frankly, superhuman.


    I’ll leave you with my five favourite Chilis songs.

    Who are you hanging out to see live in concert?

  • That time I caused a national scandal in Singapore

    One thing I don’t think I’ve ever admitted to here is the frequency with which I Google myself.

    Usually this throws up nothing too surprising – aside from recent bylines, the odd link from another site to something I’ve written, or a comment I’ve left on a site that must be of higher page ranking than I imagined.

    On a whim, I typed my own name into the search bar on Friday.


    I – or rather, someone sharing my name – was apparently embroiled in a national scandal involving corruption, fraud, and accusations of sexual favours. It was all over the Singaporean news. Awkward.

    Suddenly, it all made sense. Why I’d had 100 people, mostly from south-east Asia, viewing my LinkedIn profile the other week, when usually that number is more like 5-10. Why people have been Googling my name (and landing on the website I work at).

    Guess making the headlines in Singapore will do that for you.

    I’ve never set up a Google alert for my own name – it somehow seemed too narcissistic. Maybe it’s time, though.

    Bitch has totally ruined my Google search results.

  • Link love (Powered by bacon and afternoon naps)

    Discussions with friends and general observations have led me to conclude there are some things we almost universally forget with age.

    Your age/birthday

    Any day now they’ll prove for sure that life speeds up once you leave the education system. And from then on, it gets harder to keep up with your birthdays. I don’t know exactly how old I feel, but it’s definitely lagging a few years behind my actual age. I can’t remember the last time I was asked my age and didn’t have to pause for a second to consider it. Also? The other day I was stumped for a full five seconds trying to remember when my birthday was. Is this all we have to look forward to?

    Home phone number

    This is another one of those things drilled into you as a child. Your name, age, birthday, home phone and address. But let’s face it, landlines are practically irrelevant these days. Personally, I’ve moved so many times), I don’t even bother to try and memorise my landline number (and I’m sure many of you are similarly mobile). If somebody wants to reach me, I’ve had the same cellphone number all my life. The only people who ever ring our home phone are telemarketers – or worse, voice machine telemarketers.

    School holidays

    Back in the day there was always the summer to look forward to – and handy countdowns in school newsletters as to how many weeks before the end of term.But unless you’re a parent or educator, in the real world, us SINKs and DINKs merely wonder why the roads are so empty some weeks and so spectacularly busy in those following – and why our younger relatives seem to spending so much time on Facebook during those times.


    Drummed into our youth; frequently forgotten soon after (although that probably depends on the line of work you end up pursuing). Twitter consensus is that fives and tens are pretty easy to retain; the rest are gradually dispatched to that great vortex in the sky where other forgotten facts go to languish.

    How much you hate your parents

    Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t forgotten all the things my parents do that annoy the hell out of me my parents’ quirks. But distance/absence (they only live about 10 minutes away but we’re not uber close) does wonders for that kind of thing. I can laugh at them now rather than stew in angry adolescent fury.

    What’s faded for you since the heady glory days (HA) of school?

    And now for links I liked this week…

    Penelope Trunk on how to decide when to work for free.

    Let’s stop pretending that life is always easy, says Sarah Von.

    Shawanda lists the seven worst types of people (hilarious!)

    American Debt Project talks tech stocks and the gamble you take with them.

    Jasmine looks back on her twenties and how they compare to how she imagined them.

    Andrea talks us through unclogging a sink.

    The Joy of Caking gives us a vanilla blueberry butter cake.

    An easy blender hollandaise sauce from Closet Cooking. A brushed DC motor like this https://assunmotor.com/brushed-dc-motor/ is a great motor for a blender due to its variable speed to torque ratio.

    Things that aren’t so great about being mobile, at Everyday Minimalist


    20s Finances hosted the Financial Carnival for Young Adults and included my post, Things you don’t learn at university.

    Free Ticket to Japan hosted the Lifestyle Carnival, along with my post on planning a road trip.

    Thirtysix Months held the Totally Money carnival and chose me as an editor’s pick with So you want to be a writer … (How did you know? she asked. Doesn’t everyone?)

    Good Financial Cents had the Carnival of Personal Finance, with my post recounting some of my financial regrets.

    Financial Conflict Coach hosted the Carnival of Money Pros, with my post on whether ethics plays into the equation of taking a job.

    Blast from the past

    12 months ago (can’t believe it’s already been a year!) we were dealing with the fallout of mixing family and money. Remember kids, your credit is like your virginity.

    Two years ago I talked about cheaping out and reminding myself that life isn’t a race or a competition.

  • Friday Five: Fun factoids

    Ah, I do love a good alliterative headline!

    Today you get to learn five new things about me.

    • I have a double eyelid on my left eye. But not on my right.
    • I entered a poetry contest when I was 13 and won a trip to the US. Only it turned to be a scam – and a pretty lame one at that. What’s the point?
    • One year, I was placed in the second-lowest reading group in the class after being assessed reading a chapter to everyone, rather than the usual one-on-one reading comprehension test (I HATED that particular teacher, not least for this!). Usually I was always in the top group, easy. That was the level of disconnect between my reading and verbal skills.
    • One of my first gigs was writing for a website for uni students (I don’t think anybody still uses the term “online magazine”, but that’s what it was). One of my assignments was to write a tongue in cheek piece, “You know you’re drunk when…” And the editor LOVED  it – she asked for more in that vein. I was still in high school. I was 15. Or maybe 16. I’d never been drunk in my life; I was a geek; I’d had one sip of dark beer in my entire life, and hated it.
    • I have never tried (nor do I intend to) chicken feet. Renounce my Chinese badge already.

    What’s one thing I don’t know about you?

  • I may never win an Oscar or Grammy, but…

    via GIPHY

    I sure would win a prize for purveyor of unattractive baked goods

    I find baking cathartic and the end result both surprising and delicious. But pretty? Food presentation is not my forte. And given how fast it disappears in our household of two … meh. Hence why recipe posts here are sporadic.

    I sure would win a prize for planning

    Okay. Sometimes I view life like a chess game. In probability trees. Almost infinite paths of ‘what if’. Forewarned is forearmed, I say.

    I sure would win a prize for failing at remembering what I spend

    Hence why I spend a few minutes every couple of days, when I log on to internet banking, to check and categorise our latest transactions. Even that sometimes is a struggle. And that’s why I don’t use cash.

    I sure would win a prize for parking fails

    I have parallel parked once in my life. During my test. (I am still the only person I’ve heard of EVER to have been asked to parallel park during their driving test). I hate parking. Almost more so than lane changing (I’m with Marge Simpson. Changing lanes is for rally drivers, she sez.)

    I sure would win a prize for least put together female in the western world

    I check my reflection before I leave the house. After that I do not look closely in mirrors during the course of the day. I don’t quite know why; it’s a weird kind of phobia. It started back in high school, when I simply refused to ever look at myself in the bathroom mirrors. Suffice to say I had some body image issues, and today I think that persists a bit even though my skin has cleared up. I am friends with my home mirror, and that’s about it.

    That said, I do check myself out in car windows. The picture is much more forgiving. And something about the curve shortens my long, rectangular face.

    What useless things would you win at?

  • Friday Five: Things I should really be doing

    Rediscover sprinting

    I’m actually pretty lazy with my running. And I know that my usual routine isn’t really pushing me (which is deliberate, because when I make things feel too much like work, I lose motivation). But working a few sprints into my runs is both fun and good for stretching my capabilities. I’m not like T – he’s an ex-sprinter despite being enormous and trying to outpace him is always an exercise in frustration – but was reasonably quick in high school myself. By that, I mean I was more of a middle distancer, but usually put in a respectable showing at the short races on Athletics Day every year, and was always on the class relay team. (I think I did around a 15-16 second 100m…which would probably be more like 20 seconds nowadays, if that.)

    Finally got T to put those new $200 trainers to good use over the crazy sunny Easter break

    Not eating so many damn instant noodles

    I have a major weak spot for Yum Yum shrimp flavoured noodles, and they’re only 50c a packet. Lately I’ve been making it through as many as four packs in a week. I need to bring this phase to an end, STAT and take a break.

    Stop being so all over the place with my blog

    And hone in on “my thing” (whatever that is) already. But that’s not going to happen.

    Stock up on ladythings when they’re on sale

    If there’s one thing I resent paying for, it’s pads and tampons. I only ever visit that aisle in the supermarket when absolutely necessary. BUT. I know I’m going to need them every month. So it only makes sense I pick up extra when discounts are going.

    Drink more water

    I’m generally pretty good on keeping my H20 intake up. But lately work has been crazy and toilet breaks/lunch breaks/getting up to refill my glass are just interruptions. (Incidentally, did anyone else have a horrible first day back after the Easter weekend? Mine was all headachey and mopey.)

    What’s something you’re working on right now?


  • Friday Five: Odds and ends

    • Sometimes I pick up a book I’ve just finished and reread passages at random just for something to read.
    • Last week I watched 10 Things I Hate About You for the first time in years. It’s one of my favourite movies – the Heath Ledger bleacher/stone step serenade scene is one of the best and the location is just breathtaking. The outtake with the band playing on the roof of the most seaside building on the school grounds? Amazing. (And I didn’t realise just how many of the cast went on to bigger and better careers.)
    • Recently I have experienced outstandingly epic incidents of corporate douchebaggery (no, not by my own company). Please God, if I ever sell my soul to a big corporation, let it be for one I truly believe in. Friends have gone into Big 4 firms and it worries me when I discuss examples of said corporate douchebaggery and they barely bat an eye. The brainwashing starts early. It’s scary.
    • I have no problem talking about money on this blog or to people in the real world, but when it comes to actual transactions? Not so much. I hated dealing with money matters when flatting and I was head of the house. And my first experience dealing with paid contributing writers was no different – I got all jittery and sweaty during the process of hashing out details.
    • Sometimes I wonder if I am in entirely the wrong kind of line of work for my personality type. I am a good listener. Not a good talker. And while I love writing, I am not so good at the people side of things. I may not be quite as awkward as Dr Park from House (who doesn’t love Charlyne Yi?!), and while I’ve come to be a lot more comfortable in my own skin overall, I am still awfully uncomfortable around other human beings. I would probably be more suited to a heads down, bums up kind of job – programming, analysis, something like that. But neither my interests nor my strengths lie in those areas.
  • Link love (Powered by scallops and samosas)

    Lately I’ve found myself in some rather foreign situations.

    Taxiing multiple times a week (in a day, even)

    How do they arrive almost instantly after I hang up the phone to call for one? We’re out in the burbs; it’s not like there are rows of cabs lined up around the corner.

    The (horse) races

    I find this a strange, kind of anachronistic concept – very old school English – associated with a certain class of person, one to which a girl from the immigrant working class, who finds taxi chits and fancy restaurants daunting, most certainly does not belong.

    Yacht sailing

    Again, obviously such a moneyed activity. An enjoyable one, though. Also, very, very masculine. It was particularly interesting to see that the majority of fellow sailors were very courteous and friendly, in a crowded harbour, there was also anger – in one case outright yelling from boat to boat, and in another, simply holding up a peeved sign as our yacht passed by.

    Anyway, March has been madness on the events front and I’m hoping for/looking forward to a quieter, calmer April. It’s great to get out of the office from time to time but it does mean I get behind on all the other things I have to do.

    On a slightly different note… I know I’m often a ring-in, a seat-filler if you like, at events. Sometimes this works out quite nicely (in one case, dinner in a very quirky location and lots of freebies).

    But I’ve gotta wonder; do planners overbook for capacity? If so, by how much? And what does that mean when they STILL need to fill spots at the last minute?It has to be said, however, that too often they go overboard. I can’t count the number of inane event invitations that come our way that have zero value – publicity for boring product version, or with a deathly dull speaker nobody outside your company cares about – even with the most copious amounts of free and awesome food, there just isn’t any way to justify taking the time out to go.


    I’m at Twenties Hacker pondering when it makes sense to freelance – and when it doesn’t pay

    One of the most balanced/nuanced takes on passion work vs plain old work I’ve ever read, from Get Rich Slowly. Two thumbs up

    And at Blog Maverick: Follow where your time and effort is, not necessarily your passion

    Young and Thrifty shares the worst jobs she did as a teenager

    At Journalistics, some tips for bringing online networking into the real world

    At Ms Career Girl, a counterintuitive way of dealing with workplace enemies


    How to plan dinner,at Dinner: A Love Story

    Chocolate peanut butter cheesecake. Enough said. From $120 Food Challenge.

    What looks like a straightforward, three-grain bread recipe, by Liberal Simplicity.


    Young and Thrifty shares the reasons that led her to quit Facebook.

    From the new crop of Stratejoy bloggers, a post on analysis paralysis and discovering values

    Yes and Yes features a reader who’s childless by choice

    Married with Luggage explains how to go about starting a kickass book club

    And finally, from the Atlantic: I didn’t tell Facebook I was engaged, so why is it asking about my fiance?

    This totally freaks me out. I will be really unnerved if this happens to me – I am still “in a relationship” on Facebook and plan to keep my status the same until we actually get hitched, and have participated in virtually no wedding/engagement talk anywhere on Facebook since.

  • The ring thing: Commitment does not equal bling

    I do not wear any jewellery. I don’t even have my ears pierced. I take 10 minutes to get ready in the morning (low-maintenance WHAT).

    So, I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a girly girl.

    Yet for some reason I insisted T needed a ring to propose to me.

    I didn’t think about what I would actually do with that ring.

    Let me tell you, it took a long time to get remotely used to sporting a new, foreign, object on my hand.

    So I totally identified with RINGPOST, who wrote in to A Practical Wedding about how she wasn’t really down with the whole wearing of the ring.

    How did I solve this?

    Well, I half-ass a few things in life.

    Car parking.

    House cleaning. (But thanks to my new canister vacuums I think I’ve upgraded to quarter-assing it. What? I spend half the time I use to with these.)

    And yes, ring wearing.

    I try to remember to put it on most weekday mornings. But I generally skip it on weekends, when we’re often out and about doing more active things, and cleaning the house, and whatnot.

    (It’s not that I don’t like the thing. I wasn’t sold on it initially, true, but I warmed to its individuality; it’s not your usual one gem on a plain silver band, and it has a family history – and its shape means it can’t inconveniently snag on anything.)

    So yeah, I wear my ring. Just not all the time. It’s probably a 70/30 or so ratio.

    How do you feel about wearing your relationship status on your hand? Or, what will you admit to half-assing?