Apr 2, 2016

Tupperware

Today I went to a Tupperware party, the second one I have been to in my life. The first one was about 15 years ago when, if I remember correctly, I came to my cousin's house, drank some wine and admired some plastic stuff, and didn't buy a thing.

A week ago I told a friend I was going to a Tupperware party, and she immediately waxed lyrical about $40 lunch boxes and asked if I had a catalogue. I had a digital one, and we looked through it together over coffee while I tried not to spray the coffee out of my mouth in a cliche of shock. Holy cow, this stuff was expensive!

My friend told me that the last time she went to a Tupperware party she spent $400.
"Oh my god," I said, while inwardly I thought, Ha ha, you big chump! How did you do that!

So today I went to a Tupperware party to support a friend, and thought I would just buy one thing, if I could find something useful that wouldn't require a second mortgage.



National Museum of American History/Flickr CC


I very quickly found my Useful Thing: a sort of a manual food processor which chops, blends, whips or purees at the pull of a string. Sounds dodgy - actually works great (I had a go). I don't own a food processor. My blender is only good for blending. So this was obviously worth the money.

Then I found another Useful Thing: a replacement for my rice cooker that got lost some years ago.  I used to have a plastic rice cooker I bought at Kmart that I used all the time, not only to cook rice but also to make risottos and to steam vegetables. (Ha ha ha ha ha, my kids used to actually eat vegetables and risottos!)

The red bowl of my old rice cooker was a really good size and I used it as a mixing bowl and storage bowl too.  Then the lid got lost so it just became a mixing bowl. Then I took it to the school to collect eggs one weekend when we were on chook duty, and left it behind, full of nice brown eggs, sitting on top of a compost bin in the blazing sun.

I have always intended to replace my rice cooker.  I could have easily gone back to Kmart (where they still sell them for about $12) and bought one there. But why wouldn't I actually get a nice purple one from Tupperware, for only three times the price, now that the catalogue and a friendly hostess were right there in front of me?  So that was obviously worth the money too.

But then, a really, really Useful Thing. Tupperware these days also make cookware, and sitting right in front of me on the hostess' benchtop in all its gleaming, steely glory, was the heavy-bottomed casserole/saucepan combination of my dreams.

Some years ago my mother gave us a pair of heavy-bottomed saucepans that changed my life. I had no idea how much easier they make cooking. We used those saucepans almost daily for years. The small one got burnt out in the forgotten boiling eggs incident of 2014, and the large one is still being used but the non-stick coating is starting to flake off in tiny bits on the bottom, and I know that's not good.

So I have been wanting a replacement large, heavy-bottomed saucepan for some time, but I just couldn't afford one. Until today, I guess?


So... yeah. I can no longer chuckle at my friend spending all that money on Tupperware.





Mar 28, 2016

Five (the Easter Meme)

Another nice little questionnaire from Sunday Stealing - a good short one


Five Things I have a Passion For:

  • reading
  • writing
  • art
  • technology
  • animals



Five Things I'd like to Learn Before I Die:

  • Mandarin
  • guitar
  • ballroom dancing
  • coding
  • how to project calm, control and confidence (all at once)



Five Things I Say A Lot:

  • Hi, how are you? (Even when I remember or know people's names, my brain doesn't move fast enough in greeting mode)
  • Large skinny flat white, no sugar, thanks
  • Why are there socks on the floor?
  • Do you have any homework? 
  • Quiet, Harry... Quiet.... Quiiiiiet....Good boy   (training dog not to bark at everything)



Five Books and/or magazines I have read lately:

  • New Scientist
  • Readers Digest
  • Royal Auto (the RACV magazine!) 
  • Christine, by Stephen King
  • Joyland, by Stephen King (on a bit of a Stephen King thing at the moment)


Five Favourite Movies:

  • Arlington Road
  • Heathers
  • Casino
  • The Bourne Identity
  • Madagascar 2


Five Places I Would like to Travel To:

  • Egypt
  • India
  • China
  • Japan
  • Vanuatu


HI FIVE by Paul Liu/Flickr CC


Mar 26, 2016

Currently...

My friend Pandora runs a blog on which she assiduously posts every Sunday.  Once upon a time I had this level of discipline - okay, I didn't, but I did post every week - but I possess it no longer. However I do enjoy her Sunday meme posts, most of which come from Sunday Stealing.  Sunday Stealing posts are a good way to keep a blog up to date instead of letting it languish a month or more between posts - as I am wont to do lately.

So, this week I am going to try my hand at a meme post, this one called 'The Currently Meme', courtesy of Sunday Stealing.


Currently, I am...


Reading
Bazaar of Bad Dreams, by Stephen King
Fool Me Once, by Harlan Coben - the latest in the ever-growing genre of 'well-off wife finds she can't trust her seemingly perfect husband and her life has been a lie'
Chasing the Scream: the First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, by Johann Hari. I thought we should legalise drugs before, now I'm doubly convinced

Writing
Project plans; blog posts; a short story that is going nowhere

Playing
Fetch and tug of war with the dog every morning

Watching
11.22.63
Better Call Saul
Politics in Australia, with trepidation
The Trump Show in America, with horror

Trying
To keep up

Cooking
A roast dinner every Saturday. I have just decided that this week. I did a chicken roast last Saturday which the kids loved and I quite enjoyed it myself.
But not this Saturday as I'm planning a family lunch for tomorrow.

Drinking
Pinot Grigio 
Coke Zero
Coffee
Lots of water to make up for the rest

Calling
The shots, when I can.

Pinning
Hairstyles. Dream on, frizzy-haired me.

Tweeting
#Fairfax #fintech

Crafting
Nothing. I have zero interest and less talent.

Doing
Too much and not enough. The modern existential dilemma.

Going
On holiday to a little rental beach house on the Peninsula in two weeks - can't wait.

Loving
The free trams in Melbourne CBD.

Hating
Knee-jerk politics.

Re-discovering
Season 1 of Fargo on Stan. I forgot how good it was. Every actor in it is fantastic.

Enjoying
Silly YouTube videos: The Community Channel, Everything Wrong With, and Brent Rivera.
Perfect weather in Melbourne last week, and a mild (late) start to autumn this week.

Thinking
How to marry agile cloud-based small-vendor project management with big-client requirements. 
The implications of the current tech bubble (If even I spent 20 minutes this week considering building a service app then trust me, we're in a bubble).

Feeling
Optimistic - despite the bubble, despite Trump.

Missing
Blog reading. Have to find time.

Hoping
The Americans don't elect Trump - but also that they don't elect someone who turns out to be awful just to avoid electing Trump.

Clever :)

Listening
Too much Radio Nova thanks to the kids. Why was everyone doing covers of Justin Bieber's Love Yourself which is a terrible song? I don't get it. Thankfully some new songs hit this week. 

Celebrating
The fact we can afford to go on a little family holiday for the first time in two years.

Smelling
Mould in the crockery cupboard again - time for a clean and those way-too-expensive damp-soaker thingies.

Thanking
The state government for awarding the paramedics a pay rise. Everyone working in emergency services and health should get a big pay rise.

Considering
What the hell to get my husband for his birthday. He's impossible.

Starting
To relax after spending the day cleaning and preparing lunch and an easter egg hunt for all my family on Easter Sunday.







Mar 21, 2016

What Journalism Has In Common With Stockbroking

I'll dispense with the preamble. What journalism has in common with stockbroking is this:

An old model which was well established and profitable is transitioning with a lot of pain to a new model, which everyone is still trying to figure out.  

The old model was comfortable and cushy (for those at the top). The new model is a major change, culturally, psychologically and commercially, and it is not yet - but one day will be - profitable.


Sira Anamwong/freedigitalphotos.net

Journalism:


Another month in Australia, another horrible rupture for Fairfax. If I was a journalist I would probably write "the embattled Fairfax". After already pruning itself back in 2012 and again in 2013, this week the company announced it will cut the equivalent of 120 full-time jobs from its newsrooms.

That's a lot of journalists. It's hard to imagine the company even has that many jobs left to spare. (And according to staff, they don't).

And I really feel for Fairfax. Not only because I love The Age and am a subscriber who reads it every day, but because I think in very difficult circumstances they have been forging an evolution towards an online model quite well.  

New media is great. But blogs and tweets and news fragments do not fill the gap left by traditional newspapers. New media still needs journalists to write the stories, and "citizen journalists" just aren't as good.




Of course, we will get used to it. Just as we have got used to the passing of great puns in headlines (largely gone in favour of SEO), and elementary grammatical and syntax errors in broadsheet news (now that sub-editing, like everything else, is outsourced to cheap workers overseas). We got used to those things, and the world didn't collapse.

So, there is no choice - citizen journalists it shall be, and the real journalists will find work somewhere, somehow, in this new cacophony. Not all the ones being let go now, unfortunately, but future ones will.

Somehow I don't think either the paid subscription model used by most newspapers and journals online now, or the Buzzfeed model, will be the lasting profitable solution.

I wonder what it will be?


Stockbroking:


Stockbroking has always been a world of boom and bust, but ever since the 2008 crash and the Great Recession that followed (or still follows), it's been all bust. The stockbroking model as it was before then has truly broken and is never coming back. That's probably even a good thing.

Since 2008, it's been impossible to squeeze money out of traditional stockbroking. The margins are too thin; no one wants to pay for brokerage and research when they can get what they need online.

In Australia the ASX has piled more and more compliance obligations on brokers, and ever-higher liquid capital requirements to guard against insolvency collapses. In classic Law of Unintended Consequences style, the result has been an explosion of "shadow brokers" - small and nimble dealing and advisory businesses that range from serious, ethical companies with management and due process, to guys operating out of their loungerooms with, let's just say, less than that.

In the last decade that I worked in broking operations, I watched these companies come and go, the same people moving from license to license and company to company in a never-ending scramble to find some way to make money. Most of these people are straight up, love broking and just want to make money for their clients and themselves - but the landscape is unforgiving.

So now everyone knows the future is "online". The future is "robo-advice" (less risk of non-compliant customer management or advice), and "fintech".

But what is the best kind of company to run? What's the best service to offer: advice to customers, or services to dealers? How do you innovate and create a solution, and not be copied by a thousand imitators with the same access to the cloud that you have?

Time will tell.



I'd love to step 5 years into the future and see what's happening in both journalism and financial services. My guess is both will be profitable, but not exactly in ways people are building them now. The future will come up with something else.



Disclaimer: I work in FinTech and love it.   :)




Feb 18, 2016

How not to be annoying on Facebook

There are four kinds of people on Facebook:
1. People who post happy braggy stuff about their kids, spouses or holidays, and kind of annoy everybody
2. People who post inspiring or melancholy quotes in script font on meadowy pictures, and kind of annoy everybody
3. People who post political rants and opinions, and kind of annoy everybody
4. People who post an engaging mix of news, articles, jokes, current events, personal life, family tidbits, occasional celebrations, completely on-point social observations, witty and relevant opinions and a bit of self deprecation, and who never annoy anyone at all, ever.
I am obviously in the fourth category!  I just know I'm never annoying to anybody, ever. *

So why can't everybody else manage this as effortlessly and gracefully as I do?

Ha ha. Do we all see ourselves, and Facebook, this way?  I suspect we do.

This is quite funny - it's a little dated now as most people have by now self-corrected for the most annoying stuff that used to plague Facebook (I haven't seen a "vaguebook" status for awhile, or a humblebrag), but I'm sure we can all recognise our Facebook friends - and ourselves - in at least one of these: 7 ways to be annoying on Facebook.


And yes, I do actually enjoy reading what my friends are up to on Facebook!



* I might sometimes be guilty of mommyjacking. And unintentional one-upping when trying to express empathy. And using stupid immature words like "OMG". And sharing news stories that validate my personal viewpoint on something with a comment that basically means "I always knew this!"  Other than that, I'm not annoying at all.







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