30 April, 2009



Look, if yours was as old, crappy, leaky and wasted water like mine did, then you'd be excited too.

The plumber came a day early to install it. He's coming back tomorrow to do the bath, shower and vanity unit. Right now, the three of us are having to "kangaroo squat" over the toilet to use it, since the cement isn't dry and we can't put weight on the bowl.

Because everyone likes a good quadricep workout. That should be an exercise program. Stronger muscles without exercise! Tone your legs without a workout! Act NOW and we'll send you the amazing Ultra Quad Kit for only $49.95 plus delivery!

And when the package arrives and you open it, it's a toilet bowl.

28 April, 2009

Give Food for Free

So a lot of people know about The Hunger Site but there's also another one with a twist. The seriously awesome Cora reminded me about this pearler. Free Rice lets you learn new words as you give. And it's addicting. Also, it's an ego test of sorts, because just when I start getting a bit full of myself and start shaking my own hand, patting myself on the back etc, I get one totally and utterly wrong.

26 April, 2009

GemCraft Game

The Finn strikes again. What? Oh, my fiancé sent me the link to this game. He's an Evil Finn. This game is like the ultimate version of Tower Defense.

I've been playing this for WEEKS. That has to be some kind of record for me, since generally I approach games with complete Attention Defecit Dis-HEY! LET'S GO RIDE BIKES!


24 April, 2009

Supermarkets: A Study

What possessed me with that title? I've no idea. I hadn't set out to study anything, I can assure you.

Lately I have begrudgingly switched supermarkets, from Woolworths to Coles. I should preface this by admitting I can't stand Coles. It stems from when I was a teenager and the local supermarket (Coles) was full of uncaring staff that would barely give you the time of day. The supermarket was also VERY old, complete with those chrome poles at each checkout with the tiny white diamond-shaped lanterns which lit up a number to show it was open. And one end of the shop was the "variety" section, ancient metal baskets filled to overflowing with unfashionable home-brand clothes that nobody wanted. It was all just a feeling of old, abandoned, grocery-relic.

But I digress. I've switched supermarkets because until the end of July their FlyBuys card earns 0.05% on purchases. Plus they have these random $1 bonus deals on some items. I earned about $15 just in the first trip.

Now I haven't really done my shopping at Coles since the new Woolworths opened. Picture it: for years, Wellingtonians were stuck with an old and shabby supermarket enjoying its smug monopoly and pricing its items accordingly. Oh, the pleasure of high prices with a scowl.

Apparently, competition has had a positive effect on the prices in there. (Who would have thought?!) Bread and milk are pretty much the same price as Woolies now. And, quite a contrast to Woolies, they actually mark down items that are near expiry. That happens so rarely in Woolies that it was a nice surprise. I ventured home after my first new experience in Coles, quite content with my purchases.

A recent news article described Coles as "rebranding" itself. In particular the author said that they're increasing their "own brand" presence drastically with a lot of new lines, and accordingly scaling down on the branded competition. Interesting, I thought, "Don't we already have an ALDI supermarket model? I don't think Coles can ever compete!" But wait, there's more.

As is known to happen, yesterday was one of the occasions where I'd run out of several random, not-often-bought items. Off I toddled to Coles. And quickly got very annoyed. Closer perusal of the shelves told an interesting story.

For those not aware, Coles have two own-brand lines. Their budget line is called Smart Buy. These are the items packed in plain white without pictures. They are almost always the cheapest brand available. For a long time these were prolific throughout the store on almost every common item.

Then they have a "premium" own-brand label called You'll Love Coles. And sorry Coles - but no I won't, and I don't. These were originally only present in a select line of items in the store and sat alongside Smart Buy for the most part. So you might have three choices, say, of coffee: Smart Buy is $3.00, "premium" You'll Love $4.50, and then your Branded for $5.00.

You'll Love is, for the most part (in my opinion) significantly lower in quality than the brands, but only slightly cheaper than the brands. Thus I consider it poor value. If I'm going to spend that much I might as well buy the brand and enjoy some quality.

Now, their own-branding expansion appears to be in full swing. But rather than just expanding the product lines available, an insidious replacement is in the works. Smart Buy items are disappearing all over the store, replaced with decorated packaging brandishing You'll Love, and costing a lot more. Time after time the product I needed lacked the Smart Buy version. At the bottom of many shelves were the remnants of the Smart Buy items, all heavily discounted to get them out of the store. I watched a lady agonise over light bulbs while I cursed a COMPLETE lack of own-branded batteries. Hey, for a bathroom scale I am NOT buying Duracell Ultra. And I would still have preferred not to shell out for Eveready, but there was no choice. (As an aside, there was also a discontinued pack of Power Pix batteries there reduced to $4.00. Score!!!)

Milk powder. Its ingredients are... milk powder. Can someone tell me how a You'll Love will be better than a Smart Buy? Why did you take the Smart Buy away? (Growls, and puts the You'll Love into the trolley.)

I actually went without several items rather than pay for the "premium" offering. I got to the checkout rather irritated. There is no saving going on by shopping at Coles to use your FlyBuys card... if you're paying more for items of dubious quality.

As I was driving home I pondered this marketing strategy. I can only conclude that up against Franklins and ALDI own-brand items, that Coles have completely given up and accepted defeat. (Some people will remember that Coles supermarkets almost went under a few years ago... and are still battling to make a profit.)

And then I realised what they're doing. They are aiming their guns squarely at wealthy customers. People who only buy either branded, or premium discounted items. And begrudgingly I had to hand it to them. These are Woolworths' traditional customers. But until now I don't think anyone had thought to offer them crap disguised as discounted luxury.

So I tip my hat.

22 April, 2009


I'm drinking it. I don't much enjoy it.

But I've felt overheated the last couple of days despite drinking so much water that I should buy shares in a toilet paper company.

I'm even being a very good girl. It's green tea. De-lish...

So I went to put some honey in my oh-so-healthy green tea this afternoon, but when I went for the jar it was empty. No worries! I buy it in bulk, so I picked up the 3 kilo container to refill the small jar. But the container was covered in ants. Not only that, Jay had left the lid half undone, and they were ALL THROUGH the honey. At least 1 kilo of the honey is now ants.

*shakes her fist*

20 April, 2009

What a Slacker!

(Me, of course.)

I've hit one of "those spots", ie, where I lose motivation in something I've started. It's a rare occurence, and I estimate it's happened in my life only about 3, 4, maybe 5... HUNDRED times. Ahem.

I've been a Twitterholic though. It's oddly addicting. I'm also going to parade my EIGHT CENTS! of advertising revenue that I've earned so far. EAT THAT, Adsense! Bet you wish you had MY eight cents don'tcha?!

I'm still looking into some other revenue ideas. Have one that looks awesome, but unfortunately requires people to be interested in the ads. And so far, looks like they aren't.

The kitchen is half-painted. Aria said it looks like a banana. I was most annoyed and pointed out that the colour is Gladsome, not Banana. Jay tried telling me it was more like a pineapple. That didn't really help!

16 April, 2009


I believe this gem was from my friend Sam, but the sender will have to forgive me if it wasn't him at all!

14 April, 2009

The Great Bingo Debacle

My family and I live 5 hours' drive apart. I have to say, this has its merits. Much as they know I love them, there's a certain independence which can only gained with either emotional or phyisical distance, and I prefer the latter.

This is a long and drawn out one. Get your cuppa and packed lunch, you've been warned.

For Easter, the family and I each drove a few hours and met halfway, at a club, for lunch.

We approached Reception, and were informed of the areas where my children were permitted to be. In addition, they had to be under adult supervision at all times. No problem. So we settled in, had drinks, and chatted. We ordered and ate lunch. It was very nice food, and we'll be going back there again based on the meals offered.

Now, our preferred "hangout" area was one table outside the designated "eatery" area, in an area that today would be used for Bingo. The only defining difference was the shape of the tables. The bingo ticket seller arrived an hour before the game. The whole bingo area was virtually empty - me and my two children were in clear view of the seller.

I chatted amiably with the bingo seller, telling her that my daughter had claimed the blue marker. I bought the bingo books - several full cards for the adults, plus 2 single cards for the kids. My usual venues all allow children to play, and I hadn't thought to ask if they could play here. In any case, she said nothing about it. Total bingo investment so far: $60, plus markers, plus an hour waiting for it to begin.

We all settled in and the games began. Not long in, a table of diners right behind us commenced a conversation at high volume. Since we couldn't hear bingo, we waited for the break, got up and moved swiftly to the other side of the room. This table was a "dining" table, but just a metre behind the last bingo tables. It was our only option, as all the bingo tables were full.

The next game started, and halfway through, a bingo staffer walked up to us and said, "You can't sit here. And the children can't play. You have to move." Heads all around us swivelled to look. She was talking during a game - this is a massive no-no, in fact I think it's the eleventh commandment of bingo. We apologised about the kids and took their cards away. Hey, we didn't know, that was our mistake. Then we quietly explained that we hadn't been able to hear. She didn't care. She just kept insisting it was "club rules" and we were not allowed to sit in the "dining" tables while playing bingo.

We waited for the break again, to avoid disturbing people, and then quickly moved back to the old table, hoping that the people behind us would be quiet. The same staffer waited till the middle of the next game, then walked over to interrupt, and said, "The children can't sit here."

Another half dozen tables had been disturbed by this woman, and we couldn't believe our ears. Even as we explained the kids weren't playing, she didn't care. It was club rules, blah blah.

"Ok, kids, sorry. You two will need to sit over there (next table, in the dining area)." No, they can't, she said. They aren't allowed. They have to be under supervision. I tried to insist that I would be supervising them. My sister then asked, Ok, can they pull up a dining chair and sit right behind me? No, they can't.

"So you're telling us that we can't play." She insisted she never said that. But her stupid demands meant we didn't have any option. The kids can't be left alone, and she's saying they also can't sit right beside us, because that's not under supervision. Mind you, they're 13 and 12 years old and had behaved perfectly all day!

We adults all looked at each other in annoyance. My sister said she had a bad taste and didn't want to play anymore. Mum was too stressed to concentrate. I stood up and said I was going to get a refund.

WELL. No dice. The bingo seller said it was against policy and she couldn't help us. Even when I explained that I and the kids had sat in her full view for an entire hour and nobody had said a word. She denied having seen us. WTF?

Then she said, Well, you can still play. You can put your children into the child care. And I was thinking... well, wouldn't 12 and 13yos just love that. Not. And did I really want to pay for child care, since by the time I had, I'd have missed half the bingo games? No. And even then, I wouldn't be able to hear. But did they care... No. I pointed out that we might as well sit on the floor at the front to hear. She just stared at me.

Reception was also no help. At least the receptionist was sympathetic. She'd already had one complaint about bingo that hour. But the bingo was run by a non-profit group outside the club, so they couldn't refund. We pointed out that we'd been told the kids were allowed in that area. But since we'd never specifically asked if the kids could play bingo... sigh. Eventually the club supervisor came out and heard what we had to say. We commented we'd already spent some $250 before bingo even came into the occasion. She asked if we'd bought lunch... yes, we had. In that case, she said, you've every right to sit at the dining tables and play bingo. And she considered my children under supervision even if they'd been one table away, since they were behaving just fine.

We didn't once yell or raise voices, but we were very annoyed and upset by this point, and she did agree we should have been given the money back, but again, didn't have authority to demand it since it wasn't the club running it.

My sister, a rather assertive person, had had enough, and said she was marching into the middle of the bingo area and was going to stand there till we got a refund. Mum watched the kids at reception and I went to see the "show".

The bingo staff insisted that the club's rule was, "If you're playing bingo you may not use the dining tables". I pointed out that the supervisor disagreed, and the rule was, "Bingo-only visitors are required to sit in the bingo area", or more simply, "The dining tables are reserved for people who buy lunch". They did not seem to understand the difference. Since we were both, we were permitted to use the dining tables. Not only that, the supervisor considered my children supervised when seated one table away. One bingo staffer said that when our eyes are down playing, we aren't watching our children.

I stood there wondering if my kids had been unsupervised as I looked down at my lunch plate. Or perhaps I should never blink, since I wouldn't be supervising my children when I did.

Eventually the supervisor paid it from petty cash and said she'd argue with the non-profit's office later.

But seriously, we were all stressed out for hours afterwards. It wasn't really even about the amount of money. My sister, who'd gone into bat, hadn't lost a cent. It was the fact we'd paid for something in good faith and hadn't got what we paid for. It just sets off Holy Fire.

We will go back. It's the principle of the thing - the supervisor did the right thing, you see.

I'm not sure that we'll play bingo, though!

12 April, 2009

Filler Game

My good friend JRMinga is to blame for this one. It's seriously addicting. One of those games you can play aimlessly for hours while you should be doing other things.

Ahem. Anyway, I love it.

10 April, 2009

In Which I Pre-empt The Inevitable Advice

Every now and then, I have this fleeting moment where I wish for another baby.

Then I grab hold of myself sternly and remind myself that while there might be a handful of nice things about said offspring, there are ten bajillion things I didn't and don't like about pregnancy, childbirth, rearing toddlers and being a parent in general. Besides, as my fiancé (who doesn't want children) remarked, who would be the father?

So it is nice to have a comfy, insulated dream instead, where there aren't negative issues with having a kid. I had one of those dreams recently.

In it, there was this party going on, and present was a woman expecting a baby. She was short, tiny-statured, gorgeous, Meditteranean-looking, and I've no idea who she was. Her husband was there too. Don't ask me what he looked like because I haven't a clue.

So the couple went on stage (don't know why) and said some stuff to everyone (don't know what they said). A few minutes later, they were standing right near me, and she said something (?) to indicate the baby was on its way. The husband and I raced her into a room nearby, which conveniently had a bed. She then demanded the cushion (?) which was a bizarre, soccerball sized item. She sat on that, then completely lay on her back, and the kid started arriving. Not only that, it was all over in five minutes flat. Did I mention that during the birth I just stroked her forehead without really doing anything to help? Did I mention this kid was of the size that would make a Polynesian mother-of-ten water at the eyes?* Let alone a tiny woman?

There was no mess anywhere. (Gotta love dreams for skipping certain details.) There also didn't appear to be genitalia. The kid just arrived from "somewhere". Never mind that when it was halfway out, its eyes were just passively closed as if it were sleeping through the whole thing. In fact, the woman might have slept through it all too, since there was no pain, or even discomfort, apparent. I just sat there wondering how the HELL this size kid had actually come from a lady so small.

Once it was born and the father grabbed it, he stood the baby up on the floor - yes stood the baby up. The kid STOOD THERE and stared. Yes, folks, newborns can stand unassisted, in complete safety. I sorta freaked out and told the father it was dangerous, the baby's head was way too fragile! Just like a delicate light globe, dude. And when I grabbed the kid, its head was actually a thin light globe.

Then we noticed it had a willy. Oooh, it's a boy! Cool, etc. Had they chosen a name, I asked?

They looked at each other and said yes, they had. Then said nothing. After a moment the father was like, well, we wanted to announce it to everyone at once. Like we did with . Then I was all, damn, maybe they didn't want me in here for the birth. But hey, I couldn't really undo my presence for the birth.

So I left. I located my best friend (no idea who she was) and announced I wanted to leave - walking to the train station alone if necessary. She agreed to come with me. Before we could actually go anywhere, they came onto the stage and announced its name . By this stage, both the kid and its sister had vapourised into thin air. Babies do that, you know, anytime you're at an adult party and children aren't convenient. The mother (perfect body) then danced in a very very amazing and energetic and Meditteranean way as if she hadn't given birth minutes earlier.

On the whole I think the realisation of just how unrealistic the scenario was just serves to remind me of all the reasons I don't want another kid. Like the whole panic, effort, expense, annoyance, exhaustion, frustration, pain, mess etc.

Also, I remember that my best friend was blonde and wearing white jeans. There should be a law against white jeans.

* This isn't a racism thing: Physiologically, Polynesian women have the biggest babies and most useful childbirthing body-parts.

08 April, 2009

AWOL? And Here's A Picture.

Guilty as charged.

I have a terrible habit of losing motivation on things. And of making excuses (see previous sentence). I'm also inherently lazy. Coupled with not feeling the brightest of late, etc.

But I'll try to do some catchup in the next few days.

Anyway, I forget where I found this (sorry, mystery blogger) but I found it amusing.



06 April, 2009

A Degree In.... WHAT?

This entry started out as a news article for Crazy Odd, but as I wrote I found myself creating an editorial rather than an article. So you, dear reader, will now be subjected to blessed with my thoughts on the issue.

A university in London has announced the world's first Master of Arts degree in "The Beatles, Popular Music and Society". Yes, you read that right, a bunch of weird and wacky people are going to spend an entire year studying everything there is to know about Liverpool's most famous four. And they will receive a Master's for it.

Honestly, I thought Arts degrees already suffered enough with the stigma of not being considered "serious". There's a popular graffito that gets scrawled above toilet paper dispensers in universities around the world: An arrow pointing down with the caption, "Arts Degrees: Please Take One". It pretty accurately describes the disdain that other degree students feel towards Arts students. I should know, I was an Arts student, in the worst discipline of them all - Sociology! Also known as The Study Of Why People Do Stuff, I have become convinced that the entire "Science" was created by Sociologists themselves, in a bizarre vicious circle that serves only to validate their own existence as Sociologists. What? Yeah, sometimes it felt like the only reason for the Sociology field was so that they had a job. Or so that we students had something to "study".

And as fascinating as Sociology was for me, there's a reason that the word is so close to "Scientology". You know, the whole "questionable sanity" thing.

02 April, 2009

Gratuitous Plug

Since I'm now a contributor on www.sleepinginairports.com I thought I'd be really subtle and point vaguely in the direction of a post about Sydney Airport.

There's also a second post of mine about paying to jump the queue at London Luton.