Thursday, 31 July 2008

Play the piano at least once a month

It would be fair to say that things have been a little stressful lately, both at work and at home. This is compounded by the fact that:
  • I managed to delete (and trash) the most important file I’ve been working on in recent times and have now lost a day’s work. However, I can congratulate myself for backing up my laptop yesterday and will happily sing the praises of Time Machine, without which I’d be two weeks behind.
  • Certain 'personalities', both at home and work, need to get a life and get out of mine. (Oops, that's harsh. Oh well.)
  • Sometimes, my job is just too darned big.
  • I am soooo over the winter weather.
  • Facebook took my beloved Scrabulous away. (For a while, anyway, but it was enough to bring on the mourning and to start worrying just in case it goes again and stays away!)
When I’m stressed, or have a deadline to meet, I bake. And how! But, this time I decided to do something radical: I would actually take a lunch break (half an hour, no less!), and try and meet one of my other goals while I tried to de-stress: #12 - Play the piano at least once a month. This sounded easy enough when I set it, but I’m conscious that it’s now 31 July and I hadn’t even sat down at at the piano yet, let alone played anything! Rarely being home and able to do so doesn't help, either. However, half an hour and much of Les Misérables later, I’m feeling a little better.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Fruity fudge

I should have blogged about this a couple of weeks ago. I want to try ten new recipes, over and above the three particular ones I want to learn to make (tiramisu, carrot cake, and sushi). One Sunday night, I had the urge to bake ...

I made a version of fruity fudge. It didn't look quite like the picture in the recipe book but tasted delicious, nonetheless.

Fruity fudge

  • 500g dark cooking chocolate (I used chocolate melts)
  • 400g tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 65g butter
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 cup sultanas
  1. Place chocolate, condensed milk, and butter in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until all ingredients melt.
  2. Stir in fruit, then pour into a 20cm square cake tin lined with baking paper.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing.
Makes 36 pieces.

Easy peasy - and absolutely yummy!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Coffee with a new friend

I got caught up today waiting for an appointment which was running nearly two hours late. It was a sunny afternoon, and I was too far away from home (or an Internet connection) to be productive, so I decided to grab a quick coffee in the sun.

But where to, in Newtown?

A couple of blocks away was Wellington Zoo, with its café beckoning. I sat down with my long black (well made, great service), and immediately found a friend. My friend kept watch as I passed half an hour sipping my coffee. He certainly put a smile on my face. :-)

Monday, 28 July 2008

Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time was compiled in 2004 and, although I've thought about some of the choices for a while now, I only went through the list properly last night.

Let's start with the basics. I have 320 of these songs either on my iPod or in CD form. There are another 52 I'd quite like, and about 50 I haven't heard of. The rest, I'm just not interested in.

So, how does a song get judged as one of the greatest songs of all time? I'm quite happy with many of the top 100, although not necessarily the order they're in, and I'd certainly bump a few more up (and down).

This list was voted on by 172 musicians, critics, and industry figures. But what was their criteria? Was their #1 choice, Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone", a politically (or music industrially) correct choice? How does "Caroline, No" (The Beach Boys) manage to beat "Rocket Man" (Elton John)? How did "Louie Louie" (The Kingsmen) even make the list, let alone end up at #55??

There are a few dozen songs that I think are absolutely superior (and for so many different reasons), and they make it hard to compile even my own Top 50. I'm a musician, so that either helps or hinders my opinion, depending on how you look at it. I'm well aware that many non-musos would either question my choices, or make me cringe with their own. But what do you think makes a truly great song? Would love to hear about it ...

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Blogs away!

For all you fellow bloggers out there, here is some humour to brighten your day. :-)

Have you ever felt like this? I certainly have ...

Sometimes you can't help wondering if anyone reads your blog, and maybe pointless, incessant barking would have the same effect ...

For those of you feeling a bit overwhelmed (or overzealous) within the blogosphere ...

And for those of you who are parents (or teachers), this may depict your frustration ...

All images used without permission. If any of these are yours, let me know and I'll credit you or remove it.

Saturday, 26 July 2008


There's something about the name Roxy (or Roxanne) that always reminds me of hookers and red light districts. Funny, that. ;-)

Last night went went to Roxy Café for dinner with another couple. The service here is truly exceptional; personal and friendly while being incredibly efficient. Our meals were delicious and the Entertainment Book discount (a main for a main) makes Roxy even more appealing. Between us, we ordered tagiliatelle, duck confit, sirloin steak, and a pork fillet, with breads and bruschetta to start. An older version of their menu exists online; it's still similar, but adding a few dollars to the price of each dish would make it more accurate.

Then it was over the road to Dorothy Patesserie for coffee and cake. (Why didn't we stay at Roxy? The dessert menu looked good, but the prices across the road looked even better.) Dorothy’s was simply delightful. We enjoyed hot chocolates, decadent chocolate cake, and chocolate truffles to finish. Our service was fantastic and the shop was warm and cosy on a cold and blustery winter’s night. Chocolate heaven!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Use reusable shopping bags at the supermarket

Goal #96 - use reusable shopping bags at the supermarket. This is something I've intended to do for a long time. I'm quite good at saying "no thanks, I don't need a bag" and carrying bundles of stuff in my arms, or grabbing a box at the supermarket. I knew I had some reusable bags 'somewhere' and had this goal in italics for a while because I'd found one and was looking for the other two, and then found them but needed to put them in my car ... you get the picture. I guess this denotes progress.

Today, though, I remembered to take a bag out of the car and haul my stuff inside it around the supermarket. Hurray for small steps and being just a tiny bit green! I need to keep doing this now to develop it as a habit, but in the meantime, another goal achieved. :-)

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Release a book into the wild

I was working in Hamilton today and had to be at the airport at 6:15 am. Then we couldn't take off again from Hamilton tonight because the pilots had to check out a fault ... oh joy. :-( OK, enough with feeling sleep deprived, grumpy, and sorry for myself.

Yesterday, a colleague sent an email to our company saying:
This is an interesting idea - my son James found his first Bookcrossing book at a bus stop.
This url gives info...

It sparked a bit of conversation as some of us are Bookcrossers. It also reminded me of goal #91 - Release a book into the wild via So, I decided to do something about it.

I released The Pilot's Wife (1998) by Anita Shreve near Fuel Espresso at Wellington Airport. I figured it would be a (hopefully) busy spot which receives lots of foot traffic, and there's less chance of it being caught up with products from the book store in the main area.

The Pilot's Wife has had rave reviews and was featured on Oprah's Book Club. It was a huge bestseller, but I've got to be honest and say that it didn't really do much for me. Melodramatic, and supposedly building up tension, but I found it drawn out and almost laughable at times. (Sorry - blunt, but true.) And the ending? Let's just say that I would have reacted differently ...

Anyway, I'm pleased to have achieved another goal and will be tracking my release to see where it ends up. As I arrived back in Wellington tonight (in the rain, again!), I noticed that my book is no longer where I left it this morning, so hopefully it's on its way!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

New acquisitons

I keep all new songs on my iPod in a playlist (funnily enough, called 'new'), otherwise they get lost in the midst of my 5000ish other songs and I don't listen to them much. I collect songs from random sources and for all sorts of reasons, and not necessarily because they are new releases or songs I especially love.

I listened to my 'new' playlist today and was surprised at some of the songs I've acquired recently. So here are my fifteen newest and a quick blurb about each.
  1. Young Hearts, Run Free - Candi Staton. I heard this on the radio as I was driving last week. I love the gruntier Kym Mazelle version from Romeo + Juliet (1996) but also enjoyed the disco roots in this original version.
  2. At Last - Etta James. I have several versions of this on my iPod but heard this one when I was watching a rerun of Pleasantville (1998) the other week. Nice.
  3. Only the Lonely - The Motels. Again, I think this one was on the radio while I was driving. I absolutely love The Motels's Total Control. This one doesn't quite measure up the same.
  4. I Can't Get Next To You - The Temptations. I was watching some cheesy American game show and realised that I didn't know the lyrics for this song at all. While I love The Temptations, the structure of this song is really just a repeat of Cloud 9.
  5. I'm In the Mood for Dancing - The Nolan Sisters. I'd never heard of this and I'm proud to say it. It was a question at our music quiz this week, and my team mates looked at me for the answer (as it's a really cheesy disco song, therefore I should know it) but I drew a blank! Another guy in the team knew the song and artist and we'll never let him forget it.
  6. Mercy - Duffy. This one's on the radio quite a bit at the mo. Not entirely sure what it is that appeals to me about it yet. Might check out Duffy's album, Rockferry.
  7. Small Town - John Mellencamp. This man is coming to town soon and this song was one on the radio ad. I'm not going to the concert, but realised I didn't have Small Town in my collection (yet).
  8. Rhythm is a Dancer - Snap. This was another song from the music quiz, but we couldn't remember the artist's name. (We guessed Black Box; I'm not sure why.) It was our only answer incorrect in a round of 10, giving us a score of 19/20. Due to a programming oversight ;-) it was also the first song of the next round. We weren't going to get it wrong a second time!
  9. All the Love in the World - Dionne Warwick. I'd been trying to download this song for a while but it always timed out. Very Barry Gibb in style, it wasn't as good as I'd remembered it to be.
  10. Piece of my Heart - Duffy. Thought I'd get this at the same time as Mercy. I absolutely love the Janis Joplin version, and this one is very similar.
  11. Across the Universe - Fiona Apple. Another one from Pleasantville with great treatment of the melody. I really like Apple's voice, although I still find her album When the Pawn... (1998) to be incredibly dark.
  12. Dance, Little Lady, Dance - Tina Charles. Yet another cheesy number from the music quiz that the same person (not me) got right. He'll never live this down.
  13. Could It Be I'm Falling in Love - The Spinners. Very 70s R&B/disco, it also came from said American game show and I realised I didn't know it very well.
  14. Don't Give Up On Us Baby - David Soul. No idea why I got this one. Might have heard it on the radio at some stage and downloaded it in a moment of weakness. Forgive me?
  15. Tell Laura I Love Her - Ray Peterson. This song screams of nostalgia from my childhood (my dad's a muso and my mum was a groupie) and I just wanted it.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Screaming Turtle Part 2

A quick update on Screaming Turtle Café, which is just around the corner from here, and a big thumbs up for them ...

$5 coffee + slice deal = bellissimo. Perfect on a sunny day at lunch time. :-)

To read, or not to read

I came across this post on someone else's blog and, being a book lover, was intrigued to see how it applied to me ...

In April 2003, the BBC compiled The Big Read, which began as a search for the UK's best loved novel. Apparently the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. (OK, I couldn't find a reliable source here; I just pilfered this fact from lots of other blogs which have copied and pasted this list/activity.)

Here's what you do:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicise those you intend to read.
3) [Bracket] the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list on your own blog.
  1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien {no intention whatsoever!}
  3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  4. [Harry Potter series] - JK Rowling
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  6. The Bible {a fair bit of it}
  7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
  9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
  10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
  11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
  12. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
  13. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  14. Complete Works of Shakespeare - William Shakespeare {a few plays}
  15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
  16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien {tried several times, hated it, won't try again}
  17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
  18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
  19. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
  20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
  21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
  22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
  23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
  24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
  25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams {tried, not really my thing}
  26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
  27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
  29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
  30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
  31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
  32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
  33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
  34. Emma - Jane Austen
  35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
  36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
  37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
  38. [Captain Corelli's Mandolin] - Louis de Bernières
  39. [Memoirs of a Geisha] - Arthur Golden
  40. [Winnie the Pooh] - AA Milne
  41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
  42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
  43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
  45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
  46. [Anne of Green Gables] - LM Montgomery
  47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
  48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
  49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
  50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
  51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
  52. Dune - Frank Herbert
  53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
  54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
  55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
  56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
  58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
  59. [The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time] - Mark Haddon
  60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
  62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
  63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
  64. [The Lovely Bones] - Alice Sebold
  65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
  66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
  67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
  68. [Bridget Jones's Diary] - Helen Fielding
  69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
  71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
  72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
  73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
  74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
  75. Ulysses - James Joyce
  76. [The Bell Jar] - Sylvia Plath
  77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
  78. Germinal - Emile Zola
  79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
  80. Possession - AS Byatt
  81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
  82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
  83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
  84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
  85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
  86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
  87. [Charlotte's Web] - EB White
  88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven = Mitch Albom
  89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
  91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
  92. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
  94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
  95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
  96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
  97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
  98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
  99. [Charlie and the Chocolate Factory] - Roald Dahl
  100. Les Misérables - Victor Hugo
So, going by my results, I can now say that I'm not an average adult:
  • I have read 26 of these books
  • Of these 26, I [love 11] of them
  • I want to read 16 more of them
In New Zealand, Whitcoulls publish a Top 100 list which is updated annually. I think I'm about a third of the way through this list, too.

How did you go? Are you an average adult?

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Petone Winter Carnival

The Petone Winter Carnival was on today, after being postponed yesterday due to bad weather. I didn't make it down to the foreshore during the day, but could hear drumming and carnival noise during the afternoon. We went to watch the fireworks tonight, as the foreshore is only half a block away from here. They were set off from the Petone Jetty and could be seen across the harbour. They were so pwetty!

The Pelorus Trust sponsors fireshows a couple of times a year and everyone heads down to the waterfront to enjoy them. Tonight's show was 15 minutes long and supposedly simulcast on a radio station, but the music finished a couple of minutes before the big finale ... never mind, the big bangs announced the end of the show instead.

I absolutely love fireworks. Roll on Guy Fawkes Day! :-)

Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch - John Bayley

I have a strange hang-up which makes me want to finish every book I start. Every book. I can't help it. So I choose books carefully. If I don't think it's something I want to finish, I'd rather not pick it up in the first place.

I can't bear to watch fluffy chick-flicks, but have to admit to occasionally having a mental blob out with a bit of chick-lit over the years, mostly to give me an escape from all the academic reading and writing I've done for work and study. You know the type: Marian Keyes, Maeve Binchy, ... I've even indulged in the odd Shopaholic book or two, despite the fact that I don't like shoppping or maxing out my credit card.

However, I fear that all that may have now come to an end. I tried (and tried) to get through a bit of light, comedic fluff and failed abysmally. Despite the best of intentions, I simply couldn't get past page 100 of My Best Friend's Life (2008) by Shari Low, and that's with my hang-up about not being able to leave any book unfinished! Maybe I've grown up without realising it? Can I ever go back to reading trashy chick-lit and enjoying it? Possibly not. But will I miss it? Probably not. So this book went back to the library (after all, I'm not going to pay overdue fines for something I don't even want to read) and I returned to the familiar pile of unfinished books on my bedside table.

I concede defeat.

I decided to pick up a biography I've been dipping in and out of for a while. Today, I finished the first book in The Iris Trilogy, by John Bayley. Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch (1998) tells the story of author Dame Iris Murdoch's life and eventual descent into Alzheimer's disease as written by her husband. Although I haven't read any of her works, I loved the biopic movie, Iris (2001). Bayley's writing style could be described as fond and endearing, but without the heavy emotional overtones expected in writing of this nature. I look forward to reading the next two installments in the trilogy: Iris and the Friends: A Year of Memories (1999) and Widower's House (2001).

Friday, 18 July 2008

Update on Firefox 3.0 vs

A few weeks ago, I bagged and Firefox for not getting their act together and making their new versions compatible with each other. I've missed my buttons these past weeks and patiently waited for a solution to be resolved, all the while adding new sites manually. I'm pleased to say that there is now an extension you can download and install which works with Firefox 3.0. Yay!

Who would have thought that these three little buttons could make my day? :-)

Daily clicks

Here are the sites that I visit at the start of each day:
  • Hotmail for junk email and online subscriptions
  • Mail for personal email
  • Google just to see what's up with the world today
  • Stuff for NZ and international news
  • TradeMe to check on what I'm selling and what I want to buy
  • Yahoo Mail for email relating to TradeMe
  • Smile City because this site rewards me for clicking and those clicks turn into cash - they really do!
  • IMDB for the daily poll. Actually, I visit this site mostly out of habit nowadays.
  • Facebook cos I'm totally addicted to Scrabulous and other things
  • RSS feeds on Google Reader for various blog posts, both personal and professional
  • Online banking just in case someone's deposited an outrageous sum of money overnight and I don't need to work today after all
And the it's on to work email and all the sites I maintain for my job. But, upon reflection, these are all about me me ME! Gosh, how selfish.

Maybe I should be including things like these in my daily clicks, whereby one click can give the value of 1.1 cups of food to the hungry, or help a woman in need get a free mammogram, and so on.

The Hunger Site
The Breast Cancer Site
The Child Health Site
The Literacy Site
The Rainforest Site
The Animal Rescue Site

But, really, do these sites actually work? How does me checking out a new word actually relate to 20 grains of rice for hungry people? I've supposedly donated 600 grains while writing this post. So who's going to pack up these grains and them off to the right places around the world? Who are these women in need who get mammograms thanks to my clicks? Can I really save chunks of rainforests simply by tapping my touchpad?

I'd like to think that the advertising on these sites pays for these services, and that the revenue generated via this sponsorship genuinely goes where it's intended, but I can't help wondering whether it happens and who makes sure of it. I personally don't look at (or click on) any of the ads surrounding the text, but does that mean that everyone else does?

What's on your list of daily clicks?

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Donate to charity

A school friend of mine died suddenly on 20 June at the age of 33. She was a special person and, while we had drifted into different lives in our twenties, I occasionally came across her in different contexts and still thought very highly of her. I was shocked to hear that she'd had a seizure of some sort and dropped dead; it just shouldn't happen at this age. But, for me, what strikes a chord most is that she had a 2 1/2 year old daughter, whom she adored, and a husband of ten years who will now be left to pick up the pieces with their child.

She was an early childhood teacher and always loved young children. She was also very active within her local Plunket society. It was no surprise then that her family requested: "In lieu of flowers, donations to Karori Plunket would be appreciated and may be left at the service".

I was out of town at the time of her funeral and was disappointed at not being able to make it. Other school friends had said they were going, and traditionally we would have pooled together to buy flowers on behalf of our group. I've been to so many funerals where churches and family homes are teeming with flowers, a beautiful reminder of life in times of sadness. But, in light of her request, I thought I'd donate to her nominated charity instead.

I've often wondered how many people actually follow through and donate what they would have spent on flowers? I've left small donations at funerals, and regular give small amounts to street collections, but now it was time to complete something else on my list of 101 goals: goal #63 - donate to charity. I'm sad that it came about in such circumstances, but am pleased that my donation is now even more meaningful as it was made in memory of a special person.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Have your say about Wellington

A friend sent me this link this morning. You can have your say in the Capital Times Wellington 2008 Readers' Poll. You can have your say on as many (or as few) categories as you want, and the results get collated and published in Capital Times.

I couldn't find a finishing date for the survey, so got onto it straight away. Here's your chance to celebrate the best (and worst) of Wellington! Perfect for a Café Chick.

Monday, 14 July 2008


My work team are in town for a three-day team meeting. This time everyone has come to Wellington, instead of us invading head office in Christchurch.

Nine of us had lunch at the fabulous Word of Mouth in Molesworth St, Thorndon. Their fresh salad pick 'n' mix selection and light meals sees people queueing out the door for lunch and also do yummy catering. I used to work just up the road from here. We had a tradition called loser salad. What is a loser salad? It's when you pick a salad to take away and have it for dinner while sitting on your own in front of the TV. Sounds harsh; I suppose it is, really. However, if you have your salad with someone else, it's definitely not loser salad. Just in case you were wondering what the difference was.

Dinner was at Nicolini's, which is good Italian food in Courtenay Place. Our meals were delicious and we went away feel really full after sharing garlic and pesto breads before a main course. Dessert looked incredibly tempting; the appetites were willing, but the tummies were full. The biggest problem with Nicolini's is the noise; we had to shout at each other over loud music and the owner telling off his staff. I'll be back at some stage, just hopefully for a more 'peaceful' dinner.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Great India

We went to Great India in Manners Street for dinner tonight with friends of ours. Long recognised as the best Indian food in Wellington, the food and service at Great India is seen as a cut above the usual restaurants in town.

Reviews for Great India are generally positive, and deservedly so. The dinner menu offers a good range of dishes. We enjoyed the lamb samosa and tandoori chicken for our entrée; it had a nice bite to it. For our mains, we shared butter chicken, saag gosh, chicken madras, and palak paneer (which had quite a rubbery texture but tasted ok). Generally, an enjoyable meal to share with friends. There's a 25% discount with the Entertainment Book Gold Card, which is good as the price tends to creep up here.

Some things to be aware of:
  • Corkage is charged at $2.50 per person, and not per bottle, so make sure you point out if not everyone in your group is drinking.
  • Rice is charged separately to the meal at $3.50 a portion. We found this to be quite excessive.
  • One bill per table is strictly enforced. This is usually ok for couples or small groups, but can work out to be awkward for larger groups for whom it's more convenient to pay separately.

Friday, 11 July 2008

A song a day

We’ve already established that Café Chick has a short online attention span and is easily entertained by the little things. ;-) (By the way, I love my ever-changing wallpaper; thank you for asking.)

My company works remotely and we use iChat as our instant messaging platform during the day. Just like Skype, MSN and other chat programmes, there is space for a short greeting. I usually rotate through a few of them. None are particular exciting or inspiring:
  • Monday Monday (on ... Mondays)
  • Good morning peoples (mornings, duh)
  • It’s Friday (yay!)
  • It’s nearly Friday ... (Thursday pm)
  • Qui tutto bene! (Italian for “everything is fine” - gets a lot of comments. I have this one up for the rest of the week.)
One Monday, a colleague spotted my usual Monday Monday greeting and asked if everything I do resembles a song. (I’m a muso.) I hadn’t thought of it that way. He asked what my Tuesday song was, then what I’d put up for Wednesday ... get the picture? We wasted a good ten minutes brainstorming via iChat songs that I could use but currently don’t. Time to change my standard greetings, methinks.

So, for no reason at all, I started putting together a list of songs relating to days of the week. Not just any list, though - I have only included songs that are actually on my iPod. Here goes:

Monday Monday (The Mamas & The Papas)
Manic Monday (The Bangles)
Home On A Monday (Little River Band)
Blue Monday (New Order)
Rainy Days And Mondays (The Carpenters) [Yes, really]

Forever Tuesday Morning (The Mockers)
Ruby Tuesday (Rolling Stones)

Wednesday [This one was tricky]
Wednesday Morning 3AM (Simon & Garfunkel)

Thursday [Great kiwi music]
Outlook For Thursday (DD Smash)

Friday [Yay!]
Friday On My Mind (The Easybeats)
Friday, I’m In Love (The Cure)

Saturday [Lots of choices here. Shame I don’t use iChat for work on a Saturday.]
Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting (Elton John)
Another Saturday Night (Sam Cooke)
Saturday Night At The Movies (The Drifters)
Saturday In The Park (Chicago)
Saturday Night (Cold Chisel)

Sunday, Bloody Sunday (U2)
Pleasant Valley Sunday (The Monkees)
Sunday Morning (No Doubt)
Sunday Mornings (Maroon 5)

Every day
Lady Madonna (Beatles)

What do you have in your iPod/MP3 player/CD collection that I don’t have here? Don’t’ cheat ... I know there are heaps more songs out there, but what you you actually have? Do share ...

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

10 quick questions

I feel like I'm cheating today. I've taken someone else's blog post and used it in my on blog. I haven't even replied to theirs, like they requested! But this is a pretty cool (quick) survey, so I'm stealing it for myself and posting my answers on my own blog. I'm sure he'll understand.
  1. Who would you turn gay for?
    Her or her. No-one else.
  2. You're heading to a deserted island to live for a year, you poor bugger. Enjoy eating bugs for dinner. As a consolation, you're allowed a free subscription to one magazine. What will it be?
    Doh! Not a magazine reader. I guess I'm doomed to eternal boredom, then. Maybe I can bring one of these instead?
  3. While on the island, you can get takeaway food delivered as often as you want - but only one kind. What will it be?
    Beef/lamb doner kebab (no onions) with garlic yoghurt and tomato sauces.
  4. Will Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy ever be released?
    Hope not. Actually, I don't really care.
  5. Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jean Claude Van Damme?
    Arnie. I'll be back.
  6. Ricky Gervais or Steve Carrell?
    There can only be one David Brent.
  7. Jessica Alba or Jessica Biel?
    Must I? Um, ok ... depends what for.
  8. Do you have a sex tape on the Internet? And does it feature Paris Hilton?
    Not sure. Hope not *shudders at thought of Paris Hilton on mystery sex tape*
  9. Will there ever be a boy born who can swim faster than a shark?
    Sure. Why not? Actually, that would be quite exciting. Line up the boy next to a shark, and see which one swims fastest. Cool!
  10. What are you going to do as soon as you've finished this survey?
    Continue to pontificate on the meaning of life. Or probably cook dinner. (Possibly pontificate on the meaning of life while cooking dinner, but I doubt it.)
Your turn ...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Cadbury's drumming gorilla

A lot has been said about our friend, the Cadbury gorilla lately. He arrived on our screens in New Zealand a few weeks ago (yes, even our ads are way behind overseas). I must admit, the first time I saw it, I didn’t know what to make of the ad. Did I like it or not? Hearing Phil Collins's drone immediately turned me off, but after putting that aside, there was something I couldn’t resist. Was it this gorilla’s wonderful restraint fighting against anticipation, the ultimate power you know he possesses, his perfect timing, his full head of hair, or the fact that he reminds me of someone I know? ;-)

But what is he advertising? The first two times I saw the ad, I had no idea. Chocolate, you say?? What’s chocolate got to do with a drumming gorilla? Absolutely nothing. And who cares? Not me, any more.

According to Wikipedia, the ad was designed to "step away from pushing the product through traditional advertising means, and instead produce "entertainment pieces" which would appeal to a broader range of consumers and spread through viral marketing – that is, through word of mouth". A bit like the old Telecom ads featuring various cute wild animals prancing around to familiar soundtracks. They had nothing to do with what they were advertising, but they made the viewer feel good and the public loved them. The same goes for our gorilla.

I loved Phil Collins's comment: "Not only is he a better drummer than me, he also has more hair. Can he sing too?"

If ever we needed persuading to buy chocolate, the gorilla would certainly do the trick. (Not that I'd ever wait for a reason to buy chocolate, that is.)

Monday, 7 July 2008

How to stay awake in meetings

Do you keep falling asleep in meetings and seminars? What about those long and boring conference calls? Here's a way to change all of that.

1. Before (or during) your next meeting, seminar, or conference call, prepare yourself by drawing a square. I find that 5" x 5" is a good size. Divide the card into columns - five across and five down. That will give you 25 one-inch blocks.

2. Write one of the following words/phrases in each block:
  • synergy
  • strategic fit
  • core competences
  • best practice
  • bottom line
  • revisit
  • expeditious
  • to tell you the truth (or "the truth is")
  • 24/7
  • out of the loop
  • benchmark
  • value-added
  • proactive
  • win-win
  • think outside the box
  • fast track
  • result-driven
  • empower (or empowerment)
  • knowledge base
  • at the end of the day
  • touch base
  • mindset
  • client focus(ed)
  • paradigm
  • game plan
  • leverage
3. Check off the appropriate block when you hear one of those words/phrases.

4. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout "BULLSH*T!"

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Update email addresses

Well, this was always going to be an exciting one (not). It's cold, windy and miserable today, so I'm sitting inside with the heater on and my iPod shuffling randomly. I thought I'd tackle a task long overdue: goal #15 - Update my email addresses on Hotmail, Mail and work accounts.

I also updated my Yahoo account (geez, that was years overdue!) and my mobile phone for good measure. I still haven't got iSync properly working since my upgrade to Leopard, even though I have the required plugin sitting on my laptop somewhere, so I updated it manually but now have another mini-task to attack.


Advisory groups and committees

Things are getting serious at work now; our office administrator sent out an email the other week asking for details of all the advisory groups, committees, schools, forums, companies etc that staff have a current role with or be a part of. A few examples of one person's roles were given:
  • President, NZ Branch, Association for Tertiary Education Management (ATEM)
  • Member Tertiary Consultancy Group
  • Member, Canterbury School Chairs’ Forum
Everyone was required to respond by 5pm Friday and reminders would be sent out on Thursday to those who haven't yet collated their lists. Replies were required, even if it was to say that staff weren't members of any groups. Well, this couldn't just go unanswered! I set to work on my list:
  • C*** Wellington Coffee Club co-chair and talent/venue scout
  • SPRWJ (Society for the Protection of the Right to Work in your Jamies) advocate
  • Member, C*** Facebook Scrabulous/Word Games Addicts' Anonymous
  • Member, Koru Lounge Crashers Club
I could have gone on, but I figured this was as good a list as any, and I certainly got a few laughs out of it as it was distributed throughout the company.

So, what groups are you a member of, and which positions do you hold? ;-)

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Strike Elemental

STRIKE Percussion are back, and this time with a new show at Downstage Theatre in Wellington. STRIKE are New Zealand's answer to Stomp (whom I have also seen and loved), although they have a different approach to their work. Their shows involve heaps of energy, variety, comedy, and true drumming skill. Last year's show, In the Cube, was all that.

STRIKE - In the Cube

And now they have a new show. We went to see STRIKE Elemental last night. Again, high energy and wonderful rhythms, but this time with the added elements of fire and water. Highlights included an opening piece, "Territory", featuring flaming mallets (great crowd pleasers); "Tubes", drawing on Balinese interlocking techniques with the performers playing on metal tubes of varying lengths; "Water Sketches", where the name says it all; "Igniter", with some seriously cool fire guns and spray bottles of methylated spirits; and "Drumflip", where the boys proved they could flip out and move their bodies as well as their wrists.

It was great to hear some compositions by Gareth Farr, including recent works and a piece commissioned in 2003 ("Pukul"), as well as pieces written by the guys themselves. I'm eager to see what STRIKE come up with next.

Friday, 4 July 2008


This morning, there was a nationwide protest from the country's truckies who objected to a sudden rise in road user charges, despite government promises to not do so without further discussion. I won't go into details, but it's had a lot of airtime in NZ's media this week.

And so the details of the protest unfolded. Truckies planned to block the major cities' highways and town centres by driving in convoy from sunrise. Delays were expected and commuters were advised to leave their cars at home or travel out of peak times. Mayhem was on the way!

Pics, details, and comments about what actually happened can be found here. This is what the Wellington motorway coming into town (in the right lane) looked like this morning. [Yes, we're lucky to have a picturesque motorway along the waterfront. Yes, we realise this doesn't look like congestion to anyone living overseas, but believe me when I say that for us it's quite a lot of traffic, especially at the pace that it's moving.] Sympathetic commuters were supportive and not too bothered. Hopefully, some positive action will result from it.

I can't help wonder whether these truckies were singing CW McCall's Convoy as they drove into town. A tiny change in the lyrics and we're all set:
Cause we gotta mighty convoy, rockin' through the night
Yeah we gotta mighty convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight?

Come on an' join our convoy, ain't nothin' gonna git in our way

We're gonna roll this truckin' convoy, cross the motorway

Convoy... Convoy...
Go truckies!

Photo by Rob Kitchin/Dominion Post
© 2008 Stuff

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Paint my fingernails

I can tick the first thing off my list of things to do now: goal #56 - paint my fingernails. Tonight, I painted my nails for the first time in ages, and for no particular reason at all. As my sweetie pointed out, I'm not going anywhere special and they will probably need topping up by the time we go out on Friday night. I don't care; they feel pwetty in Revlon's Budding Chrome.

(Great product placement here)

I guess that means I also need to start coughing up $10 each time I achieve one of my goals. Until I decide how best to do this, I'll make a note and think about what to do. There's no point it sitting in a jar for a few days; it will need to be somewhere with interest. Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

101 in 1001

I've decided to do it. Here is my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. Full details of can be found at Day Zero. My finish date is calculated at 29 March 2011. I'll blog my progress along the way.
The mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.
Here is my list, in no particular order except the order I thought of them in. Some of my goals are short term and easily achieved (58. Buy a Lotto ticket); others will take longer (17. Get new Buzz band going). Some are free and easy to enjoy (33. Jump in a puddle); others will cost a fair bit (3. Buy my own home!). A few are already part of my regular routine that I would like to continue (1. Read at least one book per month); others are new things I want to try (50. Ride in a hot air balloon).
  1. Read at least one book per month (0/34)
  2. Complete two cross-stitch embroideries (0/2)
  3. Buy my own home
  4. Visit Tricia in Auckland
  5. Complete Wellington Round the Bays (7km walk)
  6. Complete Wellington Marathon 10km walk
  7. Blog at least three times per week
  8. Send flowers to someone
  9. Swim with dolphins
  10. Bake a carrot cake
  11. Visit Somes Island
  12. Play the piano at least once a month (0/34)
  13. Walk/cycle to the Pencarrow lighthouse and have a picnic
  14. Submit a sentence to
  15. Update my email addresses on Hotmail, Mail and work accounts
  16. Learn to make tiramisu
  17. Get new Buzz band going
  18. Create website for Buzz band
  19. Lose 12 kg
  20. Throw a party for friends
  21. Take a boat trip
  22. Feed duckies
  23. Fly a kite
  24. Buy a Michael McCormack painting/print of Island Bay
  25. Go berry picking
  26. Go tenpin bowling
  27. Play mini golf
  28. Play a board game with friends
  29. Dance at a formal ball
  30. Relax in hot mineral pools
  31. Read a classic novel
  32. Add at least two more countries’ stamps to my passport (0/2)
  33. Jump in a puddle
  34. Blow bubbles on a sunny day
  35. Watch the sun rise
  36. Watch the sun set with someone special
  37. Swing on park swings
  38. Go to the zoo
  39. Host a brunch for friends
  40. Visit Karori Wildlife Sanctuary
  41. Fix/sew up my clothes that need minor mending
  42. Have a massage
  43. Have a bubble bath
  44. Sort out/purge my teaching resources
  45. Sort out/organise my MEd resources
  46. Organise recipes
  47. Digitally organise my song lyrics
  48. Find something to be happy and thankful for each day
  49. Go to the Scarecrow Festival in Gladstone
  50. Ride in a hot air balloon
  51. Go to the Martinborough Fair
  52. Watch It’s A Wonderful Life at Christmas time
  53. Walk in the water with sand between my toes
  54. Walk/dance in the rain
  55. Have yum char with friends
  56. Paint my fingernails
  57. Lie on the grass and watch the clouds go by
  58. Buy a Lotto ticket
  59. Have my hand hennaed
  60. Have a bath by candlelight
  61. Taste French champagne
  62. Take ballroom dancing lessons
  63. Donate to charity
  64. Bake and decorate cupcakes
  65. Buy a dress
  66. Spend an hour people watching
  67. Read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  68. Send a postcard in the mail
  69. Take meaningful photos of my local area
  70. Host a girls’ craft session
  71. Do a jigsaw puzzle
  72. Donate to a food bank
  73. Take a train ride
  74. Lie in a hammock
  75. Cook a 3-course meal for someone
  76. Knit something
  77. Visit an aviary
  78. Take a photo of a butterfly
  79. Bake something to give away
  80. Decorate a room with fairy lights
  81. Go to an art exhibition
  82. Make home-made sushi
  83. Have a computer-free weekend (all of Sat/Sun)
  84. Take a photo of apple/cherry blossom in spring
  85. Go to a concert
  86. Sit on the edge of a wharf/jetty
  87. Try 10 new recipes (0/10)
  88. Give old clothes to charity
  89. Eat waffles for breakfast/brunch
  90. Send a postcard via
  91. Release a book into the wild via
  92. Learn how to play the ukulele
  93. Buy daffodils/freesias just because it’s spring
  94. Ride a bike
  95. Make chocolate/Easter eggs
  96. Use reusable shopping bags at the supermarket
  97. Keep CV up to date
  98. Buy a print of Vettriano’s The Singing Butler
  99. Buy a print of Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night
  100. Put aside $10 for each goal achieved
  101. **Top secret!**
Goals in italics are in progress.
Goals in bold and colour have been achieved.

We'll see where I end up in 2011!