wellington

I spent the last few days in Wellington representing my company as a sponsor at a web conference. Whilst my daily schedule was jam-packed, fortunately Wellington is very small so I still was able to squeeze in some local exploring and taking some snaps in any opportunity I could.

The botanic gardens had a small collection of cacti and succulents (despite the cold weather), and there was a fair bit of street art, especially around the Cuba Street precinct which reminded me a lot of Fitzroy in Melbourne.

king of animal traps 

I recently watched the story of how Penn Jilette came to be one half of Penn & Teller through his obsession with collecting and studying animal traps:

“I showed my classmates my skill, they were impressed. But not impressed enough that I felt I could make it my whole career. 

So I broadened my horizons and I diluted my goals. 

And that’s how I got to be half of Penn & Teller.”

toastmasters

I have recently started attending and have already signed up to join a local Toastmasters club. My first impressions have been overwhelmingly positive: a community of people who have all taken the step to make themselves better at speaking and being confident. 

The thing I love about the club is the diversity of talent: members range from newbies like me to Distiguished Toast Masters (DTMs) who decades of regular public speaking experience, and there’s no agenda except for personal improvement. 

One of the DTMs gave a short speech last week about how Toastmasters changed his life. This really stuck with me. He explained that Toastmasters had given him the ability to speak clearly about anything when he felt like he needed to speak, not just to be able to speak all the time. This is awesome and something I am striving towards myself. 

rooster year is bad for roosters

“According to Chinese astrology, people in their zodiac year are believed to offend Tai Sui, the God of Age, and incur his curse. It is believed to bring nothing but bad luck. Therefore Chinese astrology followers pay special attention to their conduct every twelfth year of their lives, i.e. in their birth sign years.”

source

I was born in 1981 which is the Chinese Year of the Rooster and 2017 is also the Chinese Year of the Rooster. Luckily I found out from a friend about the curse of Tai Sui and I took some precautions before the lunar year began last week:

  • My standing desk in my home office has been rotated 180° to face due East (facing away from Tai Sui in the West);
  • Kitty gave me some bright red underwear; and
  • Kitty also gave me a jade rooster which I carry around in my pocket.

Here’s hoping these precautions are enough to fend off Tai Sui, only time will tell.

→ embracing the mundane

“It wasn’t until I committed to traveling a journey of intentional self growth that I discovered where life is really lived—in the mundane. Life is lived in those in-between moments we often hurry past. It’s in the car rides to school, standing in the grocery line with your son, reading to your kids before bed time, or clearing off the dinner table as a family.”

Eric Ungs ~ 5 Simple Ways to Live an Abundant Life through Self Simplicity

Becoming Minimalist is one of the few sites I follow on Facebook and I’m always interested to read their articles.

I also really love the article The Completely Achievable Path to Becoming a One-Income Family.

my perfect day 

Kitty asks…

“Describe your perfect day”

I overthought this one for too long. It’s actually easy. I simply stole this idea from Alain de Botton:

“when life’s knocked you around a bit and when you’ve seen a few things, and time has happened and you’ve got some years under your belt, you start to think more highly of modest things like flowers and a pretty sky, or just a morning where nothing’s wrong and everyone’s been pretty nice to each other.”

My perfect day would be one where nothing goes terribly wrong and everyone in my family has been pretty nice to each other. 

My question for K:

“Would you say your best days are before you or behind you and why?”

three choices

So here I was thinking that there were only two choices in any tough situation in life:

A) change it (fight)
B) leave it (flight)

But there’s actually three:

  1. change it
  2. leave it
  3. accept it (change yourself)

Having number 3 up your sleeve is a handy trick for the occasional tough situation but I’d advise against using it too often as it has been known to lead to complacency. 

one foot in the gutter

“It’s odd the way that, in spite of the exuberant appurtenances of fame, the undeniable and, let’s face it, enjoyable tokens granted by success, I’ve always had one foot in the gutter.”

Russell Brand

I’ve always thought Fatboy Slim’s album title ‘Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars’ is an apt description of life.

As Oscar Wilde famously said:

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”

oh lordy lamington

We’ve been experimenting with having special homemade desserts for various occasions throughout the year. So far we’ve had homemade pumpkin pie for thanksgiving and homemade baked cheesecake for New Year’s Eve. Today is Australia Day and Kitty had the brilliant idea of making homemade lamingtons for desert (which were delicious!)


There’s a funny story behind the origins of lamingtons about Lord Lamington:

There are various stories (probably apocryphal) about how the lamington was invented. However, it seems likely that it was devised by Armand Galland, the French chef to Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. Galland is said to have had a Tahitian wife – hence his use of coconut. There is debate about whether lamingtons were first served at Government House or, as the locals claim, at the governor’s country residence at Toowoomba. Lord Lamington reputedly referred to the cakes as “those bloody, poofy, woolly biscuits”.

The thing I love about lamingtons is the person who they were named after reputedly hated them! Imagine having something named after you that you hate; how Australian! 🤣

overseas travel tips for australians

I travel overseas for work quite a bit so I’ve worked out a few things that make it easier and more streamlined when traveling abroad. 

Here they are in case they come in handy for you:

  1. Vodafone overseas roaming is a godsend for traveling Australians. It’s automatically activated for post-paid accounts and charged at aud$5 per day for 90 odd countries (including all the big ones like USA, Canada and the UK) and free for New Zealand! Since it’s automatic you can use your phone as you would at home to make and receive any number of calls and use your included data. I used to use Optus but their $10 daily travel packs are limited and complicated so I’m so glad I made the switch to Vodafone. 
  2. Using foreign ATMs is risky. I’ve had cards swallowed by ATMs whilst abroad which is a PITA so I avoid using foreign ATMs completely, avoiding ATM fees, skimming and potential card loss. I do this by having a few hundred dollars of currency of each country I regularly visit which I use for things like very small purchases where cards aren’t taken and tipping. I keep the currency for multiple trips so I don’t need to get currency for each trip. For everything else I have a 28 Degrees MasterCard which offers fee free currency conversion so I use this whenever I travel for all purchases. 
  3. When departing Brisbane airport you can use the BNE Airport App to generate a QR code which you can use to print departure cards at the airport. This saves standing around trying to fill out your departure card at the airport with everyone else. For other airports I keep a few spare departure cards in my passport pouch and fill them out at home so they’re ready to go. Same applies to arrivals cards for coming back into Australia – I always have one pre-filled to avoid filling it out on the plane. 
  4. Australians can claim the GST they paid on items costing $300 or more that they purchased during the 60 days before their departure. You need to take the receipts, and items to the TRS counter at the airport (after customs). There’s a TRS app you should use to prefill your details which allows you to use the express queue (which can still take some time – so be early)
  5. Drinking plenty of water is the most important thing you can do on any flight; especially long haul ones. I always take my own water bottle and fill it during the flight during the filtered water dispensers which are typically near the toilets. You’ll need to empty it before taking it though airport security but you’ll be able to refill it airside at water fountains available in all airports.  
  6. If you’re an Australian traveling to the US  on an ESTA, you can use the kiosks on arrival into immigration. You don’t need to fill out the blue US arrivals form given to you on the plane (no matter what the flight attendants tell you).
  7. When coming back into Australia avoid bringing any items which you need to declare (such as wood or food) as this will slow you down a lot coming back in. 

This year I’m experimenting with taking carry on luggage only so I’ll see how that goes. 

That’s all for now. Here’s wishing you a streamlined overseas travel experience. 

what you need to understand is…

“What you need to understand is that the business exists to flush you out – to find the thing you can do in your 20s, to squeeze all the energy and creativity out of you while your young and then look for an even younger person who can do the same thing. What I learned is: don’t let them do it. Keep coming back with something different. Avoid being pigeonholed, because then you won’t be “the young Harry” or “the ageing Harry” or “whatever happened to Harry?””

~ Harry Shearer

what are 2 things you love about your body? 

Kitty asks…

“What are 2 things you love about your body?”

That’s an interesting question for someone with low self-esteem 🤔

I like brown eyes the most and I’m lucky enough to have brown eyes so I’d say that’s the first thing I ‘love’ about my body.

The second is my arms. Not because how my arms were built; but because of what I’ve done to them. I’m happy with my full sleeve tattoos as they represent me well, which includes a labyrinth. I’m particularly happy with the section where, if you look closely, you can see the initials of the ones I love most dearly ❤

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Next Question for Kitty:

“If you could live in the desert, or on the beach, which would you choose and why?”

five apps to cut out the middlemen

Here’s five of my app ideas to cut out the middlemen:

  1. App for people looking to pay for dates – cutting out pimps
  2. App for people looking for local guides – cutting out tour companies
  3. App for people wanting to swim in your pool – cutting out public pool operators
  4. App for people wanting to find local roadside produce stalls – cutting out produce wholesalers
  5. App for people wanting someone to cut their hair in their home – cutting out hair salons ✂️

The thing I realised is that all these ideas are basically replacing a community service with a paid app idea. 

Even Uber falls into this category. One day not so long ago if you needed a lift to the airport you’d ask a friend or family member. Now you just call an anonymous Uber. Parents even use Uber to drive their kids to school – who cares about asking a friend if they’d help out?

So instead of paying someone to swim in their pool you could make friends with neighbours and use theirs. Instead of charging someone to take them on a tour of your city you can make friends for life by doing this for free. Instead of paying for a date…

It seems every app idea I have is about de-personification and capitalism of society. Why can’t apps make society a better place?