Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Outfit of the Day!

I got some fabulous heels from Tony Bianco on sale and I just had to wear them as soon as I got them!  They're really high - with them on I'm a 6-foot-tall Amazon, and I love them.  I'm going to wear them for the work bonus dinner on Friday next week (I'm so excited about my outfit for that day, I can hardly wait to show you guys!), so I wanted to wear them a couple of times first to get used to them.  They're surprisingly comfortable.  Unfortunately I fell over in them, in front of all the guys from the office, which was kind of embarrassing.  Oh well, I still love them!


Unfortunately you can't really see how high they are.  They're about 3 inches high.  Next time I wear them I'll make sure you can see!

Trench: Miller's
Jeans: JeansWest

Look!  An OOTD without the City Chic cardi!  I don't normally shop at Miller's, because it can be a little old lady-ish, but I was standing outside their store waiting for Dave when I spotted this trench.  They had a buy one, get one half-price deal on, so I got TWO coats for $34!  Pretty good deal!  The other one is single-breasted and red.

My next OOTD post will probably be my work bonus dinner outfit, although I might sneak in one more before that :)

Weekly Wrap-Up (Late)

Blogging has been a bit slow recently for various reasons, and I know this Weekly Wrap-Up is two days late!  All will be explained below...Just pretend I posted this on Sunday and you'll never know the difference!


Uni: Still on mid-year break.

What I'm Playing: New section this week!  I finally got my replacement hard drive for my PC so I can play games again, yay!  As I've noted previously, I'm a bit of a geek.  I love my computer games (even though my mother thinks that, as an "old married woman", I shouldn't be playing them any more!).  My current game is Mass Effect 2.  The first Mass Effect was my favourite game...until the same people (BioWare) brought out Dragon Age: Orgins.  Then that was my fave game.  Then they brought out the sequel to Mass Effect, and now THAT is my fave game!  Mass Effect was designed as a trilogy, and like all good trilogies, the middle one is the darkest and most desperate.  With Mass Effect 2, they got rid of all the annoying stuff and streamlined the game.  There's also heaps and heaps of little incidental details, new stuff as well as stuff that carries over from the first episode.  So many people from little side quests keep popping up, it's awesome.  If you play PC (or Xbox 360) games at all, you should definitely check it out.  And that is why this blog is late! All I've been doing for the last week is working, sleeping, or playing ME2 :P

What I'm Reading: Not much reading, too much playing!  I've nearly finished with Bill Bryson's At Home.

What I'm Listening To: Red Hot Chilli Peppers' Greatest Hits.

To Do List: Did I make it clear yet that I haven't done anything this week? :P

What's Caught My Eye: Not much.  I'll try to improve this section next week...

Mini-Goal: Play as much ME2 as I can before I have to go back to studying.

On the Menu: This week was my birthday.  Unfortunately we both had to work.  My birthday just kind of happened this year: so close to exams, and with everything else going on, it just slipped.  So on Monday (the day before) we had my special birthday dinner.  We made mini-pizzas with home-made mango chutney, lamb and rocket - no recipe, we just made it up as we went along - and they were delicious.  We also bought a Black Forest Gateau from The Cheesecake Shop, which was also delicious.

Fashion: Not much happening in this department this week.  More next week!

Word of the Week: This week will be more of a quote: "Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son-of-a-bitch in space!"

Monday, June 21, 2010

Family

When I was talking to my Mum on the phone the other night she mentioned how proud she is of my sister and I and got a bit teary.  And I realised that I hadn't said what I wanted to say to her.  So this post is going to be about my immediate family and what they mean to me.

I'll start with my sister, Angela.  Angie is about two years younger than me and is currently in Italy doing her PhD.  We're not exceptionally close - we communicate sporadically (mostly through Facebook) and don't always get on fabulously when we're together in person - but I still love her and am proud of her.  She is a volcanologist and her Masters thesis was about blue-sky eruptions.  My sister has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is: from working full-time while doing her Bachelors degree, to having to restart her Masters at a different university, to networking and fundraising her arse off to first go to Hawaii to study volcanoes and then to get to Italy...I know she's been a bit down recently and has been having problems getting her PhD off the ground, but believe me sis when I say how very proud I am of you.  Anyone I know will tell you how I'm always going on about my little sis in Italy doing her PhD!  We're all behind you and supporting you and wishing the best for you.

New Layout and Theme

Brief mention of some changes.  My previous theme was very basic.  I've chosen one now that's a bit more interesting and flexible and I think easier to read.  I've also added a blogroll of some of the fabulous bloggers that inspire me.  I changed my tagline as well.  My blog is evolving and becoming a little more focussed and hopefully more interesting for people who don't know me in person.  I'll try not to fiddle with layout and colours too much because I know it's distracting and annoying!  Any feedback is welcome.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up

Uni:  Exams were this week and are over now.  My first exam, Language & Communication, didn't go that well.  I'm sure I'll still pass but I didn't feel like I'd done as well as I could.  The second, Intro to Media Studies, went better but still not fabulous.  Oh well.  I've had a very busy and stressful semester.  Roll on Semester 2, in which I have nothing extra planned!

What I'm Reading: Still on Dark Tower VII but I've also been reading Bill Bryson's At Home.  I love Bill Bryson, I've read nearly all of his books.  A Short History of Nearly Everything is one of my favourite books. At Home is in a similar vein, but instead of looking at the universe it looks at things a bit closer to, well, home!

What I'm Listening To: Run Lola Run Soundtrack.

To Do List: Same as last week, but also some baking and housework.

What's Caught My Eye: 

  • The Bechdel Test, a simple test for movies with the following criteria: 1) Movie has at least two women in it, who 2) talk to each other, 3) about something besides a man.
  • This is awesome.  Go on.  Click it!  It's awesome!
  • I don't know if you heard, but there's a little sports tournament on in South Africa right now.  Something about a World Cup?  Here is a preview for people who don't care, and here is a handy guide to what to do once it's all over.

Mini-Goal: Get my baking done!

On the Menu: Seeing as I was still in exams, we didn't do anything too difficult this week.  We both wanted comfort food, so we had sausages and mash with onion gravy.  The onion gravy was the new recipe for the week and was absolutely delicious and well worth its hour and a half cooking time!  There was very little activity during that hour and a half - just had to stir it occasionally.  It was very yummy and I'm sure we'll make it again.  (I was going to describe it as "beautiful" but Dave just pointed out that it was brown and sloppy and looked like - well, I'll just leave it there, but "beautiful" probably isn't the correct adjective :P)

Fashion: I bought some more things and wore a new outfit along with my new booties.  I learned that walking in heels is hard work (or perhaps re-learned is more appropriate: I used to wear heels regularly) and ended up with very sore feet.  But they looked gorgeous!

Word of the Week: Consciousness-raising.  There will be a post on this later this week!  Also, the commentator on the Slovakia-Paraguay game just described someone as "bedeviled".  Bedeviled is a cool word.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Haircut, and an Outfit of the Day!

So I usually have very long hair.  I hate getting it cut.  Last time I cut it short was 4.5 years ago when we moved up to the Gold Coast.  It was horrendously hot and so I cut my hair as short as a boy.  I absolutely HATED it and swore I'd never cut it again.  And I actually didn't cut it at all, for about 2 years.  Then I tried to get a fringe and once again hated it, so grew it out.  Then it was so heavy and hot that I got some layers cut in while keeping the length.  By the time I got married, however, I was sick of it: it's nice to have it long, but it gets to the point where it's pretty unmanageable.  So I decided to cut it back to shoulder-length.  From waist-length.

Here is a before photo:



And here is an after photo:


My hairdresser, Mea (the mother of one of my friends from work), was a little scared to cut it all off and it's not quite as short as I wanted :)  I did the colour myself.  It isn't right, I need to do it again.  It's supposed to be violet, as in bright purple, but it turned out burgundy somehow!  So it's still a work in progress :)

After the jump is an Outfit of the Day!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up: OMG EXAMS!!!

This week it's all about exams.  I'll take a brief side-trip to do my weekly wrap-up but it's not going to be much, sorry!

Uni: Like I said, exams exams exams.  I did get 3 of my 4 assignment results back though:
Intro to Academic Writing: B-
Language & Communication: 17/25
Intro to Media Studies: A-

Exams will be over by the end of the week, and then Semester 2 starts 12 July.

What I'm Reading: Up to Book VII of The Dark Tower.

What I'm Listening To: Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown album.

To Do List: Wedding photos, holiday photos, cross-stitch.

What's Caught My Eye: Not much, too busy...except for the World Cup, of course!

Mini-Goal: To be more focused and not such a magpie...You know, "oooh, shiny!"

On the Menu: Was too busy for New Recipe Monday so we just had a roast.  Which was absolutely delicious of course...My husband does the best roast veg ever!

Fashion:  I bought not one, but TWO pairs of shoes this week!  A pair of booties from Miss Shop at the Myer sale, and a pair of studded open bootie heel things from the Tony Bianco sale.  I will have pics as soon as I actually wear either of them!  I haven't regularly worn heels for years so I think I need some practice!

Word of the Week: Vox pop.  Well I guess actually it's more a phrase.  In case you don't know, it's Latin for "voice of the people".  I learnt it in relation to the news: a vox pop interview is where a reporter grabs a random passerby or two and asks them about some event.  Here is a quote (in Latin, so I look smart :P):

Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.

Which translates to:

And those people should not be listening to those who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.

The riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.  Love it!

That will have to do for this week.  My brain is very close to asploding.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

First Ever Outfit of the Day!

By popular demand, here is my first ever Outfit of the Day post!  Don't expect these very often, my clothes are generally not particularly interesting and I don't really have anywhere I can take a decent photo.  But here we go...

Cardi: City Chic
Tank: SUPRÉ
Skirt & Belt: Crossroads
Tights: We Love Colors (Turquoise)
Boots: Betts

We Love Colors currently have free shipping to NZ and Oz if you enter WELOVENZAUS at checkout.  I bought 4 pairs (2 with feet, 2 without, one black and the rest bright colours) and I'm really happy with them.  They're gorgeous and I even got compliments from some of the guys at work!  I was very pleased with this outfit and I'm looking forward to a bit more experimenting in future :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up

So starting this week I thought I'd do a weekly wrap-up of stuff that's been going on, what I'm doing, reading, thinking, etc.  We'll see how it goes.  This blog entry has been swirling around in my head all evening (yes, at work, and on the drive home too!) so it might be a little disjointed!  So without further ado, and in no particular order, away we go...

Uni: All round 2 assignments are in (no results yet), coursework is over, and I'm focusing on my upcoming exams, of which I have two: Language & Communication, and Intro to Media Studies.  Media Studies I'm not too worried about, I've been doing pretty well (I got an A+ for my first assignment!), Lang & Comm I'm still a bit iffy on...which was surprising, because I'm the sort of person who reads linguistics books for fun.

What I'm Reading: And speaking of reading (fabulous segue there, wasn't it?), I'm currently in the middle of The Dark Tower Book V: Wolves of the Calla, by Stephen King.  About a month ago I started thinking it was about time I re-read this series. Then a week or so ago, a friend of mine asked me at random if there were any books of which I could remember the opening sentence.  The second one I came up with (after A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." which every English Lit student and half the rest of the English-speaking world must know, and apparently "didn't count") was The Gunslinger: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.".  I took that as a sign and started my re-read.  I absolutely love Stephen King books (although I can't watch his movies: I love horror books, but horror movies give me nightmares (books do too, if I read them at night alone (I use too many parentheses))), but for some reason I'd never gotten around to reading this series before he started work on finishing it.  Once I started though, I loved it.  It's not horror, it's not fantasy, it's not sci-fi, it's not western...It's just The Dark Tower.  Read it.

What I'm Listening To: At the risk of getting corny and clichéd, I'm going to include this too...In my car I'm listening to Ministry of Sound Annual 2010, it's good driving music.  Elsewhere, I've been in a nostalgic mood and have been listening to songs that bring back memories: from Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance to Smashing Pumpkins' Luna.

Projects: As plenty of people can attest to, I'm a big picture sort of person, a starter, not a finisher.  I'm great at coming up with ideas and crap and completing those ideas.  In the vain hope that revealing my procrastination will jolt me out of it, I'm currently working on three things: my wedding photo project (horribly behind, and Priority 1 after exams), my holiday photo project (about halfway through), and a cross-stitch that's been on the go for approximately 8 years.  I really enjoy cross-stitch to relax, but I never seem to find time to do it.

What's Caught My Eye: This is going to be a bit of a link round-up...

Mini-Goal: I have all sorts of goals.  Big goals, small goals.  I'm always coming up with goals.  My current mini-goal is to be more aware of the language I use.  My recent foray into the world of Fat Acceptance and HAES has really made me think about how people use language in such a throw-away manner and don't realise it's hurtful.  So my current goal is to stop saying "retarded" and "lame" for things that are neither.

On the Menu: Semi-regularly on a Monday my husband and I do a "New Recipe Monday" where we try out a new recipe from one of our many cookbooks.  I love cookbooks and collect them, to the point that it's a bit of a joke, and we got a big box of cookbooks from my workmates for our wedding as a kind of half-joke/half-serious gift.  Which we loved: the books were from lots of different cultures and cuisines (as my workplace is extremely diverse, to the point that as a white person who only speaks English I am a very small minority).  So last Monday we made a Lamb Biryani.  I also unpacked my fabulous Sunbeam Mixmaster that we got for the wedding.  Both of our mothers have a Mixmaster that they got for *their* weddings.  My Mum still regularly uses hers, and it was the thing I absolutely wanted the most on our wedding registry.  And we were very lucky to get one, courtesy of my husband's parents.  So I used that this week for the first time and made an Orange and Poppyseed cake.  The Mixmaster was fantastic: the design has hardly changed since my Mum got hers, and the cake was yummy.  We also unpacked our Ice Cream Maker (another workmate wedding present) and discovered to our disappointment that we had to freeze the bowl for at least 12 hours.  So no ice cream was made on New Recipe Monday.  I made it on Thursday instead and fresh it was delicious but it's not quite so yummy a couple of days later.  The next batch I make will be of the custard type rather than the cream type and hopefully it will be better.

In conclusion, I use far too many of the following punctuation marks: ( ) " ! :

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Loneliness

A few days ago, I had a conversation with a middle-aged Australian man who had been scammed twice online by two different women in the Philippines.  Once bitten, twice shy questions aside, the conversation affected me quite strongly, so I wanted to discuss it here.

Firstly, a little background about internet scammers.  If you use the internet regularly at all (and I'm sure you do, if you're reading my blog), then you have encountered someone who was not genuine, even if you didn't know it at the time.  From the spam in your email to the person you're chatting with through instant messenger, there are thousands and thousands of people online who are lying, scheming, and scamming.  For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to stick with the money scammers.

Generally, money scammers fall into two very broad types.  There are the "you need to give me money for some reason" scammers, and then there are the "I have a huge pile of money I want to give you for some reason" types.  There are scammers in every country that has internet access, although they are more predominant in countries that are poor and/or corrupt.  They may work alone, or they may work for an organisation.  They can be any gender, or pretend to be any other gender.  They can be cunning and sneaky, or outright stupid.  But they all have the same goal: to separate you from your money.

The "you need to give me money" scammers come in many varieties.  They may be completely up-front, and ask for money so they can do a little strip-show on their webcam.  Or slightly more subtle, and want you to pay for their internet connection/webcam/laptop.  They may ask for money for medication for a sick relative, or their school fees, or their rent.  They may ask you to pay for their ticket to come and see you.  Whatever reason they give, it all comes down to "give me money".  These scammers usually prey on lonely people.

The "I want to give you money" scammers also come in many varieties.  Of course, they don't actually want to give you money: they want your money!  But they convince you to give them your money by saying that if you give them a little bit of money, they'll give you a lot.  They may say you've won some lottery you didn't know you'd won.  Or that they're dying of cancer and want to give you their inheritance so you can give it to needy children.  Or that they're a bank manager with a huge sum of money that was deposited by a political dissident who was then assassinated and left no next of kin and they want you to be the next of kin.  Whatever their story, it all boils down to the same thing.  These scammers usually prey on greedy people.

What all the money scammers have in common is this: they prey on vulnerable people.  Two different sorts of vulnerability, yes, but vulnerability all the same.  I'm going to stick with the lonely vulnerable people, because that's the sort of guy I was speaking with the other day.

DISCLAIMER: I only have the man's version of this story, of course.  My discussion below assumes that a) he is telling the truth and b) she was lying to him.  Much I'm going to say is speculation based on previous experience.  It's possible, though unlikely, it will turn out that is not the case.  If that happens, I apologise to the woman involved.

This guy, as I said earlier, had been ripped off by two different women, but they both fell into the "you need to give me money" category and used similar tactics.  This guy was a nice guy with his own place and modest income, but most of all, this guy was lonely.  He wanted a family and a nice wife to settle down with because he was starting to get on a bit.  The second woman seemed particularly heartless.  The two of them spoke for months and months (although they never actually met).  He sent her money for rent and other expenses, sent her gifts, even sent her his laptop as a loan (she was supposed to bring it with her when she came to Australia).  He took little home videos of his house and farm and sent them to her.  He really thought that she was "the one".  But she kept needing more and more money.  She spent the money he'd sent her for her plane ticket on rent (or so she said).  He started getting suspicious and upset.  But by the time he acted (sending a friend in the Philippines to where she said she lived), she'd already buggered off with everything he'd given her.

The guy was absolutely gutted.  He was crying as he spoke to me, and sounded desperately lonely.  He said, "they don't understand what loneliness is."  But that is just the problem: they understand all too well, and use it to their own ends.  What *I* don't understand is how they can be so heartless about it.  This woman had developed a relationship with this man.  She must have been telling him how much she loved him, and how much she was looking forward to being with him and coming to Australia.  And yet she didn't mean a word of it: she was milking him for all she could get before moving on to the next victim.  How could she do that and not feel sorry for the guy?  How could she do that and sleep at night?  I understand she was probably desperate for financial help, but surely, surely she would be better off getting that help in a more honest way?  Didn't she feel any sympathy at all?  She knew how upset the guy had been over the last person who scammed him, because he told her!  How does she live with herself?

The internet connects us to more people than ever before, but that doesn't mean we are less lonely than before.  The connections can be shallow and meaningless, and there are plenty of predators out there, hunting for their vulnerable prey.  Take care, everyone.