Thursday, 26 April 2007

Notepad Scribbles #20070426

The last four weeks have been great - short weeks (since I had training as well last week) which has broken up the monotony of just going to work.

Lately, I have tried some new things, so I was determined to watch another AFL game. Thankfully the Swannies won against the Brisbane Lions. There was a time when we were down, but we showed spirit to come all the way back! Go the Swannies! I didn't realise that the AFL was very formal, insisting I go into the member's area wearing a collared shirt. Luckily, I was prepared. The low point of the day was trying to get out of the parking lot at the end of the was absolutely choc-a-block with random cars cutting in.

Recent movies have included:
- 300
Mixed feelings about this one. There was plenty of gore as well as buff, testosterone laden males. Storyline was rather predictable but interesting animations and interpretation of the Spartan tale.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Ahh. This definitely brought back memories. I forgot how non-violent TMNT was, since it was more PG rated. The turtles looked interesting since this time, they had more flippers than forearms. Animation has very nicely done, but it had a rather predictable storyline (don't expect a Miyazaki film or anything like that)

Given the horrible weather, it was decided that we should try indoor rock climbing. Little did we know that a lot of other people seemed to have the same idea (shows how original we are!)
After getting the crash course in securing the clips, I decided to try some "confidence builders". I was feeling ok and due to the sheer number of people, I decided to try some more difficult ones...and I was struggling. Unfortunately, I have a small fear of heights (ok, make that a big one) and I have a very large apprehension to falling off. Some of the little pieces were very difficult to hold onto and I just could not bring myself to step onto the next ledge without any support. I did manage to go up a few of the easier ones which was encouraging. Worse part was when one of the items was loose, so when I went to grab it, it spun and I scrapped my fingers as I was off balance. I also fell off and hit the wall. Not too bad though - it was definitely a fun experience (my arms were feeling weak by the end of it).

I also recently tried some face recognition technology. One of the fun features was checking out which celebrities have a resemblance to me. Strangely, a lot of females came up in that list - I wonder if that is a hint??? Maybe I need to take some lessons from those Spartans in 300? In any case, such technology, which I thought would be quite intensive in processing, has now become commercially viable which is great. I still remember the days of the good ol' 286 computers which had monochrome screens and those big 5.25 inch disks and having to allocate memory to upper memory blocks.

Today, I was going through my email archives and thinking back to all the emails I had received over the last few years. I was trying to find some people's addresses and realising that I never really updated my address book which is rather disorganised. Note to self - must start using address book features and update it periodically! **Must be more organised. Must be more organised...**

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

First Impressions

During my schooling years, I learnt proverbs, one of which was "Don't judge a book by it's cover". I thought that it was fair enough and was willing to give everything a fair go. I tried to look beneath the face value and lift the veil to see what was behind.

Fast forward a large number of years and unfortunately, it seems like either I have changed dramatically or the world has changed, but it seems that first impressions do count. They count for a lot more than I imagined. Hmm, perhaps that should be put down to my naivety. In all honesty, there are many instances where first impressions are undeniably important - even though we are taught not to judge a book by it's cover, I think it is something which is inbuilt into all of us. I'm sure that at one stage or another all of us have passed a fleeting judgement on a first impression - whether it be that stranger who decided to strike up a conversation, looking for property or looking at people on the street - in some form or other, judgments based on first impressions are a fact of life. In fact, most of the people in my survery (albeit a relatively small sample size) have remembered their first impressions of the people they went out with. From the, "I hated the shirt he was wearing" to the "He looked depressed", that fleeting moment of first impressions could have gone either way.

In fact I have found that it is common to be in situations where there is a limited amount of time to give a first impression. It could be in an interview, or meeting new people; work or social context. Given the choice, I'm sure most people would choose to give a good impression than a bad one.

Therefore undeniably, first impressions and "covers on books" matter quite a fair bit in our society, as much as many would dispute that point. Therefore, given that humans are inherently judging creatures, it would make sense to make sure that one makes a good impression when it is us who are being judged by others. Heck that makes all of us that little bit more self conscious, especially if being judged with our partners. I know I would be conscious about being labelled an "odd couple".

So with the proliferation of female magazines and fashion stores, it is quite a bit easer for females to find the goods listed in them. One of the major problems when shopping with girls is that 90% of the stores cater for females more than males. Secondly, if there is a "Mens Section" it is usually confined to a single rack for the entire store. Such a blatant disrespect fo the male ability to spend leaves me in utter bewilderment. As males embrace being more metro, the rate of growth of male targetted goods has not really grown in proportion to meet the market. Thankfully I found a new website called Mens Flair. It provides a lot of useful tips and hints. It may not be very good, but until there is more competition, I guess I will have to settle for this in the meantime.

Anyway, time for me toperform my pre-sleep routine....

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Pick me up

Sometimes, when I wake up I really feel out of sorts. I know that it is going to be that kind of day when one or more of the following happens:
- I feel really reluctant to drag myself from the warmth of the quilt on a cold morning
- I see the bus pull away from the stop as I sprint for it AND the bus driver deliberately drives off
- And it's the last express bus into the city and I'm late.
- It's raining and a car splashes me as it drives passed
- It's raining and I have no umbrella
- I forget my access pass
- I feel super tired and my thoughts are not coherent
- Still feeling the effects of drinking the night before

I could probably go on, but that's are the annoying ones (apart from the public transport gripes). It's at this point, as I drag my already weary feet into work, flop into my chair and stare at the computer, that I realise that I need a pick me up. Sure - I had only been into work for less than 20mins, but that's enough for me. I grab my wallet and head for the door (not forgetting my temporary pass as well) and make a beeline for my coffee haunt. As one of my colleagues said - "I'm useless until I have my coffee".

Now that I am back and working in the city, I needed to test the waters and establish my place in the barista's hierarchy. I had a favourite coffee place in Melbourne while I was there for two years - good ol' Beetroot. Whenever I walked in, they would know my order and also know that I would take a muffin. It was these little things that made the whole customer experience worthwhile - just ask John Singleton...

As much as I don't like to admit it, it's all about building that relationship up. Of course my wage rate doesn't quite allow me to afford $50 coffees, but I want a barista to remember that I forked out $2.50-$3.50 (depending on how much of a pick me up I need) and given that I am there almost daily, at least make an effort to say hello and try to remember my order (especially since I am not salary sacrificing my coffees).

For a while, I was deciding who will make money from me. Unfortunately, only baristas around my area will be in the shortlist. None, however are like my favourite Beetroot in Melbourne though!
One barista does a pretty good moccha, while the other one does a much better latte. I swayed to the latte as it tastes less like chocolate milk and therefore less filling by the time lunch rolls around. Both places have respected me in their hierarchy, although some more-regular-customers-than-me come in and sometimes jump the queue, which is frankly damn annoying (although I used to be do that...hehe). Furthermore, my new barista also runs table for twenty in Surry Hills, so that's a plus. Well, now that that is sorted out, I can go back and slog out the next 8 hrs....

Monday, 2 April 2007

Notepad Scribbles #20070402

Although the first three months of the year have flown by, I am extremely happy with what has happened over the last few months.

Apart from going to a place where I had always wanted to go (i.e Japan) I also recently went surfing. I managed to get an awesome tan (which is still with me) and learnt how to surf at Avoca Beach. Interestingly enough, I managed to stand up on the board even for a few seconds (probably overestimated as well). I got dumped a lot and drank bucketloads of water....but it was pretty thrilling. The worst part of it all was seeing little kids mastering the waves and riding the waves in while I was often left paddling hard through the water - only to realise I had not even moved!
Fortunately, the water was quite nice, the waves were often tame enough not to feel overwhelmed and there was a beginner friendly sandbank which allowed me to stand a fair distance from the beach without having to find my balance on the board. That was definitely an advantage as I could push off when I saw a wave coming.

The funniest moment of the day was when I was resting on the beach after being dumped pretty hard into the sand. I watched as my "instructor", M, went out and she kept drifting out to where the "pro" surfers were. I thought, "Wow, so competent. Maybe she is going to get serious now". Little after I thought that, I realised all was not good as she was continuously dumped hard by waves - at one point with two feet in the air as she was flipped by a massive wave. I thought, "OMG! Maybe I should head out!", however I noticed she was drifting in, so all was good.
"OMG - I thought I was about to die!" she spluttered as she came out.
"Oops - I was going to go out but thought you were going all pro surfer!" I replied.
Next time, I guess I will know.

With all this much fun, this has led me to serious consideration in buying a wetsuit - not just for surfing but for snorkelling.

Interestingly, all the people I have told this story to were very surprised that I actually went surfing. Admittedly, it was not my idea (thanks M!) but is it because I don't seem the type to go surfing? I'm not entirely sure.

One of the other fun things I have experienced this year was to attend my first AFL game - Sydney Swans vs West Coast Eagles. We kicked off the night with a small BBQ (two hotdogs was not enough) but this was closely followed by an ice-block and then straight into the game. The game itself was exciting (although longer than I thought - didn't realise that they played almost 1/2 hr quarters) and apparently much closer to a Grand Final replay than many Swannie fans were looking forward to - another West Coast Eagles a measly one point.
It was a tremendous fight back by the Swans, but I felt that they let this one slip as they had too many missed goals in the second quarter. In any case, I am definitely still supportive and can't wait to see the run to the finals! Go Swannies!

Also, my 5 mths of sabbatical are over! I'm back at work and strangely, some things seem like they have not changed at all.

As I inject all these changes in my life, I really hope that this all works out positively and that I don't regret any of the decisions I am making. **fingers crossed**.