Canadian Down Under

Monday, February 28, 2005

It's All About Timing

Sometimes it sucks to live in Australia.....

I didn't log on to any news website today at work. I didn't listen to the radio. I didn't even turn on the tv until I was looking for the right channel. Yet still - I know that Cate Blanchett won for Best Supporting Actress and I heard that Million Dollar Baby won four major awards - so I'm guessing Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor (I figure Jamie Foxx must've won for Ray).

So much for surprise.

Mobile Phone Update

I have had two more calls in the last half hour!!

Who knew emailing the Managing Director could have such effect? (okay, maybe I had an inkling....)

Seems I must have touched on a nerve because my email has been circulated throughout the entire mobile division. Hope I never want a job there...... I don't think I'd have many friends....

Never underestimate the Power of the Written Word

I've been having problems of late with my mobile phone bill. I won't go into the details, but suffice to say, they screwed up. They haven't been sending me a bill - so when I didn't pay (because I didn't get a bill) - they turned off my phone.

Things like that make me an unhappy camper...

As most of my friends know - I'm fairly anal about paying bills - in fact, I used to be anal to the point of keeping Visa receipts and matching them to my monthly statements. I have relaxed some since then, but definitely not to the point of not paying my bills at all....

To resolve the issues, I phoned in and spoke with their service desk. I got my phone re-instated and supposedly they fixed the billing issue. When another two months went by and still no bill, I gathered that fix didn't work.

After a seemingly endless number of calls to customer service and what seemed like hours on hold, I was finally put through to a technician to help me - only to have the line disconnected. Giving up on phoning them (the irony that you can't resolve a problem with a phone company on the phone!!) I resorted to trying to email them through their website. However - no the problem wasn't resolved there! - their website tool wasn't working.

Finally, I tried calling again to find another way to communicate. I was told there was no other phone number to call, no other email address to use, that I should mail my complaint in.

As if.

So what did I do? Well, totally frustrated and with too much time on my hands at work - I looked up their corporate structure on their website and emailed the Managing Director of the Mobile Phone Division with my sordid saga - and mentioned that I thought their customer service was shoddy at best.

I have received numerous phone calls today from the company, ranging in seniority from the Marketing Director, the Customer Service Director to the actual technicians trying to sort out my problem.

Amazing what effect a few, well-chosen, written words can have.

Problem solved. No freebies though. Damn. Maybe those words weren't so well-chosen after all...

Books I Liked Reading

One of the common questions I hear from friends today is, "Have you read any good books lately?" Usually, I can't remember what I've been reading (never a good sign), but I just finished a book that I quite liked, so I thought I'd share with you: The Time Traveller's Wife. (I hate to admit - but I believe at one point is was on Oprah's recommended reading list....Nevertheless, it's still quite good.)

I was intrigued because its a romance story interwoven through time - where only one half of the couple time travels.

One of the reasons I picked it up (besides the blurb being fairly well written) is that it reminded of a book I read based on a friend's recommendation (her favourite book). The book was called "Replay" and was written by Ken Grimwood. It's funny - at the time I thought the book was okay - but I've never forgotten it and to this day, the premise still intrigues me (read the synopsis here: Obviously a much better book that I originally gave it credit for...

Since I always like to hear of good books to read, I just thought I'd share.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Clearing the Air

I've had a couple of emails lately that mentioned in passing that they hope that they're not the friend I'm trying to break up with...

Point of clarification: the person that I was talking about in that blog (Breaking up if hard to do..) does not read my blog. How do I know? She doesn't know I have a blog.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Everything I Wanted

I bought myself a computer yesterday. Not only does it have all the memory specifications, the processing speed and software I was informed that I would need - it is also seriously cute.

Flirting with Strangers

Actually, it was more like stranger flirting with me.

I was on the bus heading back from Bondi Junction to Circular Quay - about a half hour bus ride. It was a hot sticky afternoon and I was totally relaxed, looking out the window trying to understand the layout of Sydney as the bus travelled the city streets. It was almost rush hour, so traffic was pretty much stop and go. As I was gazing out the window, I noticed at one of the street side cafes on Oxford Street that a waiter was taking a break and casually sitting at one of the tables outside the cafe. Just as the bus started up and we were moving forward, I realised he was looking at me - and when he realised he had caught my eye - he winked and gave me a really mischievous grin. It was infectious - I smiled back.

Amazing how such a small gesture in such a short space of time managed to make me feel so good for such an extended period of time.

Flirting, what a wonderful thing.

Pet Peeves

The wonderful thing about the advance of technology is that now you have such a multitude of options and choices in where and how you communicate with people. We've gone from a society that had to write letters to communicate, to one that could make phone calls to places of work or residences, to one that could communicate just about anywhere on earth through email and the internet, to one that could make phone calls to just about anywhere because of mobile phones, to one that can do all off the above, plus now we can send instant text messages through mobiles phones.

What does that mean? We can basically reach anyone, anywhere, anyway and at anytime. That's the good part. The bad part is that we can be reached by anyone, anywhere, anyway, at anytime.

So what if you don't want to be reached? Well, you could always not own a phone/computer/latest technological gadget, but then that limits your ability to reach out... Other options? Don't take the phone with you, turn it off, screen your calls, let calls go to your message bank and return messages at your leisure.

All viable options unless someone 'out-technologies' you. (Yup, I just made up that word.) You know the type who ask for receipts on emails and can quote when you read the message and the time that has elapsed between reading and response...

So, what's my pet peeve? People who track text messages. I have actually had people call me after I've read a message on my phone, asking why I haven't answered their text? or when I haven't answered the call, asking why I didn't answer the call when I obviously had my phone on me as they had tracked the text message and knew I had received it.

Slightly psycho - and slightly intimidating. Makes you more than slightly want to 'break-up' with that friend (see earlier blog entry "Breaking Up is Hard to Do").

Why does this world operate on everything having to happen RIGHT NOW. What if I didn't answer because I was in the middle of something? What if I wanted time to think about it? What if I didn't want to be tracked down? What if I didn't answer just because I didn't feel like it?

Now I have to go to extraordinary lengths to figure out who sent me the message before I read it just to ensure it isn't a person who tracks messages. It makes me feel claustrophobic.

It makes me feel stalked.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Crash Landing

The ferry ride home wasn't as smooth as usual today....

I was in my own little world, with my CD player on, as the ferry started heading into Manly wharf. I wasn't really paying attention, but something made me look up and I noticed we were WAY off to the left side of the wharf (I'd give you a distance - but I have no spatial skills...) Next, the ferry starts backing up (this is no easy feat - the ferry can carry over 1,000 passengers...) - but it's only using a motor on one side, so we're backing up on an angle. So now we have avoiding coasting in and crashing into OceanWorld aquarium, but we're heading straight (or should I say crookedly) into more trouble.

Imagine a ferry as large as I've described, going full throttle on one motor, on one side. Even if they shut down the motor, momentum will keep you drifting. Now picture Manly wharf - one on side is a beach and Ocean World and on the other side is the Manly Yacht club (which means the water on one side of the wharf is littered with moored sailboats).

The PA scratched to life, and a voice announced that they were having trouble with the equipment, but to hang in there, we'd get to the wharf eventually. (Yup, they really said that.) So we've just been informed that they're having mechanical problems when the motors shut down and we start drifting - right towards the moored sailboats. As this is happening, I start thinking, "this'll make good copy in the papers tomorrow morning: Manly Ferry Mangles Manly Yachts". (Okay - needs a little work - but you get the drift...)

With what seemed like only yards to spare, the motor fired up again - this time we headed in the direction of the wharf. It looked like we were going to slide easily alongside - or at least I thought that until I heard the loud crash. Apparently it's hard to steer correctly when all your equipment's not working.....

Eventually, we made it in with the only apparent damage being a chunk out of the concrete piling at the front of the wharf. Nothing like a little excitement to lighten up the commute!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Such a cheesy song line - but really, it's SOOO true.

Oh wait - I should clarify - I'm not talking about boyfriend/girlfriend breakups, I'm talking about platonic friendship breakups. Much, MUCH harder.

You know - as you go through life - you make so many different types of friendships, from casual through to life long friendships. Casual friendships often arise because of similar circumstances - like school friends or work friends. These friendships are usually ones that are intense (because of the amount of time that you spend together) but often don't last when circumstances change; like when you leave school or change jobs. But sometimes, these casual friends turn into longer term friendships.

How do you know when you have made a longer term friend? Well, you don't always realise its happened until well after the fact. I mean, friendships are as difficult as non-platonic relationships, when it involves emotions there are no hard and fast rules. But generally, if you're friendship survives a change in circumstance, that can be a clue that you've graduated into a long-term friendship. Also, surviving a difficult ordeal - or more specifically a disagreement between the two of you - generally means that the relationship runs deeper than the superficial.

To make matters more complicated, duration is not always an indicator or whether a friendship has gone beyond the 'casual' category - so I think I'll refer to my stage 2 simply as 'friendships' rather than 'long-term friendships'. (Wow, I can be so pedantic sometimes...)

If you're lucky like me, you may have a casual friendship formed in childhood that has developed into a real friendship over the years. For me, this friendship has morphed again into something akin to a sibling relationship. I think of her as my sister - and no matter how different our lives are and how much we've changed over the years, we know we'll always be friends

So where am I going with all this? Well, I've just described what I consider to be normal friendships; those that last forever or those that naturally fade away. But sometimes there are friendships - for a variety of reasons - that seem to last/hang on beyond their natural expiry date.

I think I have one of those. And now that its lasted beyond its natural expiry date, I think it needs to be put out of its misery, I'm just trying to figure out what to do. Should I:
  • Over time, reduce time spent together
  • Stop taking her calls, or
  • Speak to her about what I'm thinking
  • Tell her I no longer want to be friends?

I won't go into the reasons that have brought me to this point - suffice to say if you cannot trust a person, you can't really have a friendship.

So, what should I do? (And if you tell me I actually have to break up with her - what crap line should I use? I mean, "we can still be friends" won't really work...)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Shin Splints

They are SOOOO painful! Each step feels like my shins are shattering.... That'll teach me to run in old shoes!

Monday, February 21, 2005

I'm having a bad day

Just thought I should share.

I think all the changes caught up with me today - plus, it's raining. It's always so much harder to be cheerful when it's raining. I've made a bunch of steps in the right direction, I just need to have patience and trust.

I worry now about telling people I've had a bad day. Partly because I was so miserable over the holidays (seeing as I was wallowing about being dumped), but also because it seems that people seem so quick to label a bad day as depression. The truth is, I'm occasionally sad - but its mostly because I think I'm lonely. Sometimes I wish it was simply depression - then there might a potential solution.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Buying a Computer

I have been borrowing a friend's laptop for the last little while - but it's really getting ridiculous - I truly need to buy one of my own. So after a few weeks of humming and hawing about it, I made the decision that its time to buy. Having spent the last few days doing research - or research as best as I do it - I still don't know what to do.

To date, my research methods have included phoning/emailing any friends of mine that have technical expertise and asking their advice. They have kindly shared their thoughts - which have ranged from 'I have no clue what you should do' to actual specifications that I should get. Which has been great - but what I really need is someone just to tell me what to do. Like give me the computer type and model number and I'll go buy it.

I don't know what it is. Usually I'm a fairly capable adult - in other words I can make decisions - but when it comes to anything mechanical or technical, I become a real 'girlie' girl. It's like my brain shuts off - I'm completely pathetic.

Now I have the specs: 1.6 Ghz, 512 MB, 60 GB and Wireless and under 2kg. I've found one that is pretty cute but more expensive than I'd really like and I found one on Dell's website that probably would meet all my needs but when I saw it at a kiosk in the mall - it really was very appealing. I think the Dell has more software included.... I could go in to a list of the pros and cons but it just makes me more confused.

I'm stymied. The only thing I know for sure is that I want to buy one. Help!!!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Working Down Under

Every new company you work for is a little different from any you may have worked at before, so I figured that working in a new country would be different, but the question was - just how different?

Well, I just read an article on blogging about work - and how some employees have been fired or sued because of it - so I'll have to be a little vague about who I've worked for in order to continue...

My first job (the one I just left) was for a private health insurance company (do you think that's vague enough?). I had heard rumours that Australia was chock-a-block with chaunvinist, but were generally laid back and didn't work too hard.

That was wrong.

My boss turned out to be the biggest chauvinist I've ever met - but he was very subtle about it so it would have been hard to prove. And remember, I've worked in an investment bank, so that previous statement is really saying something.... In the first couple weeks at my first job - I couldn't get over how hard everyone seemed to be working. Some of the people there were so focused is was a little scary..... And this Friday afternoon off rumour I heard about? Just a rumour.

Must admit, I was very disappointed because I had been hoping I could get paid well here in Australia and yet not work very hard (I had pretty much managed it back home...) but instead, I was getting paid less than I had in the previous five years and I was actually having to work all day. Totally sucked. Mind you - by the time I left it was a much more casual atmosphere, there was much more frivolity in the office though still a lot of work being done. It's funny - another myth about the Aussie's is that they over-the -top friendly. What I discovered is that at first glance they seem quite gregarious, but at the same time they are quite guarded. It takes a bit of time to really get to know them.

Or at least that's what I learned from my first job.

My current job? The one I've been in only a week? Well, so far I've discovered almost completely the opposite. My boss is anything BUT a chauvinist. The team I work with - in general - are quite relaxed and like a good laugh or practical joke. I think there's work being done, but its still too early to tell.... All that, and its a bank I work for? First impressions are: I'm going to like working there. Fingers crossed though!

So, it looks like Australia is quite similar to Canada in that every company has a different feel and culture. (Mind you, my current sample of 2 is probably not statistically viable - but work with me - if I tried for a greater sample pool - I'd never be able to get a job because I'd come across as too unreliable..)

One difference between Canada and Australia? In Australia, I never came to work and found a vomit stain on the carpet (and the hideous smell accompanying it..) I guess Thursday nights out take a slightly different turn down here...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Price of Beauty

My recent retail splurges have developed a new focus: shoes.

It all started because I needed a new pair of shoes for work. You know nice black heels - that are sensible yet comfortable. (Typical banker shoes if you know what I mean). After my first excursion, I didn't quite get shoes that matched all my criteria. Okay, they didn't match any of my criteria - they were bronze, high-heeled sandals with pink and red embroidery. Pretty, yet not very practical - and definitely not black. Next trip, I at least got the colour right - they were black, but they were also strappy sandals that had these really funky silver rings on them. Pretty yet again, but definitely not appropriate for work.

I was running out of time - I only had one shopping day left before my new job started. At this point I was beginning to think I was going to have to compromise on some of my requirements. No matter what, they were going to have to be black - so I was either going to have to fork out lots of cash (which after two unbudgeted yet really funky purchases probably wasn't an option...) or forgo the sensible, or the comfortable or give up on the nice.

Amazingly enough I found the almost perfect shoe! Black, medium heeled, all leather - the only exception to my basic requirements was that they weren't strictly 'sensible' - they had these funky black straps across the tops - but were still acceptable for work. (Nothing wrong with a little flair...)

I wore them my first day at work. All day. No break.

Oops. Seems I compromised on more than just sensible... I compromised on comfort as well.

Well, as anyone knows who has worn high heels - if you have a problem, a blister or your feet swell - whatever you do, DO NOT TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF if there's even a remote chance you'll have to wear them again. So, I wore them all day; ignoring the little blister bubbles forming around the edges of the shoes on my toes, ignoring the pain of my big toe. What I didn't ignore was the pharmacy on my way home. Epsom salts to soak my feet and padded bandages to protect the injuries....

Later that evening, with my feet soaking, I was pondering the price women pay for fashion and beauty. Crazy when you look at it like that... but after another look at my shoes? You know I'd do it all over again.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

And on the new job front

Day 1 - I arrive at 9 am.
My boss arrives at 1 pm

Day 2 - I arrive at 9 am
My boss arrives at 9:45 am and asks why i got in so early


You won't believe what I did....

or maybe it's more that I can't believe what I did....

I probably haven't mentioned this before - but one of things I decided to do once I was settled out here was some charity work. More specifically, I have previously done some work with unmatched girls from the Big Sisters program in Canada and decided that now I was working I wanted to be a Big Sister to a little girl. So... the last few months I've been going through the application process: reference checks, interviews and a psych test. Everything's gone fine so far and today I had my last interview with the organization prior to training and matching up.

I'm embarrassed to tell you how it went but I can't keep to myself..

So topics range from family history, friends, relationships, schooling to thoughts about crime, religion etc. Anyway, it was going fine until they got to the relationship part and to my (and my interviewers) shock and horror I started to cry. All she did was say one word - his name.

What is up with that?? I mean, I know I took the breakup a little hard - but since the holidays have been over I've been much better - improving every day - and although I wrote a snarky tidbit about Valentine's Day - yesterday was actually relatively painless. So why today? and why did it have to be in the middle of my interview???


She was nice, but the tears coupled with my starting a new job have probably adversely affected my chances. Oh, and the comments from my psych test:
  1. It came out that I'm thin-skinned (Duh!) Had to laugh at the one - it that didn't come out on my psych test there was something wrong...
  2. I don't form deep relationships. The interviewer just looked at me and said "I think they're wrong." Couldn't agree more with that thought..
  3. I'm a bit of a rebel. Which for the Big Sisters program translates to someone not following their rules. I told them that, yes, I can be a bit of a rebel - but not for something important as important as the program.

At the end of the interview, she told me she thought I was great, she still had some concerns about the change in job and the boy - she thought maybe I needed more time, but that I'm registered to go to the training next month.

All good I guess, but I really feel like an idiot. If anyone feels like telling me they still think I'd be good as a Big Sister - please, don't hold back....

Sunday, February 13, 2005

First Day

I start my new job tomorrow and I have the first day jitters tonight. My stomach's a mess - at first I thought it was due to my trip to Vietnam - but I'm thinking I'm in denial. I'd hate to see what I'd be like the night before I started a job I really wanted...

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Why Valentine's Day Should be Outlawed

Because I said so.

Pretty flimsy eh? Well, alright, let me see if I can come up with some more concrete reasons:
  1. It's bad for the environment. All those Valentine's Day cards are just thrown out the day after - adding to landfill sites around the world. (What? You're not suppose to throw them out?)
  2. It's bad for the economy. It encourages people to spend scandalous amounts of money just in order to get laid, thereby sending trillions of people needlessly into debt and poverty. (Besides, if you want to spend that kind of money to get laid - you have better odds if you just go to a bar, don't you?)
  3. It's discriminatory. Two words: single people. Hello? Does anyone stop to think about their feelings?
  4. It creates social unrest. Can't you see it - all those single people out there with picket signs in there hands, screaming things like "Stop the Insanity" (how Susan Powerish of me...) at Cupid.
  5. It's bad for society's mental health. It's not real people. There are no adult sized babies in diapers floating around there shooting love arrows at people. Come on. Get a grip.

Don't you wish I had stopped at "because I said so"?

Depraved or Deprived?

I think I've hit stage 2 in breakup recovery. (Before you ask - I have no idea how many stages there actually are...) Stage 2 is all about sex. Or more accurately, it's all I can think about - probably because I'm not getting any.... Hope this stage ends quickly - I don't know how much more of this I can take...