Monthly Archives: April 2007

Crafty Lil Ol’ Me

I have been inspired to do something crafty to fill up my time, now that I’m playing the nanna game and choosing nights in instead of big nights out. My inspiration came in the form of my friend Danie’s recent foray into knitting – or should that be "re-entry" into that realm?

Over the weekend, I paid a visit to the factory outlets at Birkenhead Point and dropped into Spotlight for a browse. At the back of the store was an entire wall of crafty projects, and I spent the better part of an hour looking at all the lovely Counted Cross Stitch Kits before deciding on four designs that were on sale at 50% off. I also bought a plastic hoop to aid my projects and went home a happy lass.

Tonight, with not much on telly, the hard part was to choose which pattern to start. After carefully examining my purchases for 20 minutes, I finally settled on Sunflower Bear, and below are my results after an hour’s work.

The Full Kit

What it SHOULD look like vs. What it DOES look like

The Pattern – Help!!

To put the whole thing into perspective, the finished product should stand at 23cm x 27cm, meaning the picture should fill most of Aida inside the hoop. I’ve thus far completed the cross stitching that spans 4.5cm x 5cm – sparse stitching, but it’s a slow work in progress.

This should definitely keep me busy and out of trouble for a while!


Solutions, Not Excuses

New week, fresh start.

Today, I set about researching some solutions to rectify my listlessness, and already, I’m a lot more optimistic.

I had a good think over the weekend, and formulated a new plan of attack. As I’m not likely to be working overseas any time soon, I am going to concentrate on furthering my post grad education to help me get a better job.

I had a good look at various MBA programs being offered different institutions, and the MBA program being offered by University of New England (UNE) is looking the goods.

The UNE MBA is run over three trimesters, and I’ve well and truly missed the application cut-off date for Trimester 2 (closing date was mid-March). However, I’m in good stead for Trimester 3, with the closing date being early July. This will give me time to do more research on this program and speak to more people about post grad studies. Plus I have lined up some good people as my referees, who I will pay handsomely to lie well on the Referee’s Reports on my behalf.

Should my application be successful, I will be a student again come September this year. However, if I am unsuccessful in my quest, I intend to take an extended vacation early next year to get the travel bug out of my system.

If I am not studying by September, the plan is to take at least 3 months off work from mid-January next year to travel the world. The travel plan would include UK, Europe and North America.

But whether I end up studying or travelling, the main thing I have to do is to curb my spending ways. By that, I mean I will have to put a stop to frivolously buying stuff I don’t need, or pissing my wages up against a wall on big nights out (figuratively speaking – oh, you know what I mean). Seriously, do I really need another pair of shoes or another handbag or another piece of bling? The voice inside my head (which sounds suspiciously like my mother) tells me I don’t, and that I really should save those pennies for a rainy day.

On the job front, I am thankful that I’m gainfully employed – at least I’m being paid well enough for the trouble of getting out of bed and throwing on work clothes every weekday. I’ve resolved myself to assume the head down bum up position and continue to work hard for now. I’ve put some feelers out in the market for someone with my skill set, and have thus far been rewarded with a couple of nibbles. I also have an informal catch up meeting with my new divisional General Manager on Wednesday, when I will be having a very straight up and down chat with her about my prospects and future with the company.

Solutions, not excuses. The mist is clearing.

Listless in Sydney

For the entire week, I have found myself in a state of indifference.  And I need to snap out of it, fast.

Granted, it was a short week, punctuated by a public holiday on Wednesday in the form of ANZAC Day, and the weather has been cold and mostly miserable, but there must be something more than just a short week and bad weather that made me feel so blasé about work.

I’m putting it down to a number of things:

* I’m really bored by what I’m doing at work.  I’ve been doing the same thing for nearly 12 months now (well and truly outlasting the original intended 6 week assignment) and it’s become mind-numbingly mundane.  And for the past few weeks, since the team restructure at the client site took place, I’ve been relegated to the really, really, really boring stuff.

* I’m a bit annoyed with the seemingly lack of direction as far as my career progression is concerned.  For almost 12 months, I had expressed a desire to work on bigger and more complex projects and learn more skills to undertake these projects, whilst at the same time I’d also expressed a desire to work in another branch office (namely Melbourne) if an opportunity was to arise.  I managed to land my current project 12 months ago, but the project now sees me as more an admin person than a project manager, and there are currently no other projects for me to move to.  I told my manager of my desire to start a Masters degree, and all I got back was “duly noted – we are neither encouraging nor discouraging you from post grad studies, but know that it is duly noted that you have mentioned it to us”.   As for working in Melbourne, they recently hired someone else and it’s not looking like I’ll ever get the chance to work in Victoria.

I’ve bided my time with this company, having started in November 2004 working for a terrific lady who has great mentoring and leadership skills.  I came on board bcause she said at the time that she was more than happy and willing to promote me into the realm of business consulting.  I learnt the business from the ground up, and looked forward to moving into the projects sphere.  But now, two and a half years later, after one seemingly perfunctory promotion and one major project under my belt, it appears I’ve reached my glass ceiling, looking at my managers scratching their heads wondering what to do with me.

Do I wait and see if they will promote me to a higher position and another major project, and if so, how long should I stick around to see if they will do that?  Or should I just pack my bags and ride off into the sunset?

There is another reason for my complete lack of interest in work.  After extensive research, I can now definitively squash my dreams of working in the UK.  Unless I marry a Pom, there is simply no other way to work in the UK.  Everything I read told me I was too old, too under and uneducated, too late.  So disappointed was I that I cried myself to sleep on Sunday night when I finally slammed shut my laptop after reading the final article.  I guess my disappointment in being forced into giving up and letting go of my dream of 15 years spilled over into my work life more than I expected it would.

As I read one article after another, none of which gave me any good news about my prospects of gaining the proper visas to work in the UK, so many what ifs played out in my head.  What if I had just packed my bags and left when I had the chance at the age of 25?  What if Dad had enough foresight to not give up our Hong Kong citizenship before 1997?  What if I had been working for different people earlier in my working life?  What if I had completed my uni degree earlier?  What if I had chosen a different discipline at uni?  What if, what if, what if …  I hate playing the What If game – I always lose.

I subjected a good friend of mine to the above whinge on Tuesday night, and he came up with a few solutions for me (no more excuses, he said – the only way forward is to find solutions):

* Look for another job.  Keep working now but look for something else.
* If this industry is not what I want to be involved in, be prepared to start again – starting again isn’t so bad.
* Stop playing the What If game and focusing on the past – start looking forward again.
* When I mentioned I’d be interested in writing some movie reviews and book reviews, he suggested I should write to a few people and offer to write articles for them for free.

I’m working on the above.  I’ve already approached another company to suss out potential opportunities.  So far so good.  More to come about that next week.

And I’ve started a couple of articles, plus I’ve resumed work on my novel.  Slowly getting there.

I think I’m getting my mojo back.  I’m looking forward to a better week next week.

Australian Legal System Gone Mad??

Is it just me, or has the Australian legal system gone mad?? When did we stop taking responsibility in our search for loopholes in increasingly ludicrous lawsuits?? Are we in danger of becoming like our American friends and filing suit for the sake of suing someone?? And how did we get to the point where we can blame everything on everyone else and reap financial rewards from winning The Blame Game??

Below is an article that appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald website today. (Don’t even get me started on how the reporter failed to check his article before submitting it online. No points for those who pick the spelling errors and superfluous words.)

A fall, a rape – and $240,000
Geesche Jacobsen
April 26, 2007

A woman has won nearly $240,000 compensation from RailCorp after a judge ruled she was raped because she had broken her ankle weeks earlier at a Sydney railway station.

RailCorp was found responsible for the woman’s rape at a private home, because she could not escape with her leg in plaster, and for her subsequent depression.

The 36-year-old Taiwanese television reporter, Yu-Mei Chu, had been in Sydney to learn English when she lost her footing on slippery stairs at Sydenham rail station in December 2002.

A few weeks later, while still on crutches with her leg ankle in plaster, she was sexually assaulted and beaten at a man’s home.

She told the court she could not get away because of her broken ankle.

She became increasingly depressed after the assault, lost her will to socialise and her hair suddenly turned grey.

She was also concerned about her inability to marry and have children, the court heard.

A District Court judge, John Goldring, found she would not have been sexually assaulted if her ankle had not been in plaster.

"The psychological injury to [Ms Chu], which she would not have suffered but for the ankle injury, but which she did suffer because of the sexual assault, is within the scope of [RailCorp’s] responsibility," he said.

It was a "forseeable consequence" of RailCorp’s breach of duty of care to provide safe steps at the station, he said.

An engineer’s report tendered in court found the stairs leading to the station’s platform 6 were "hazardous" when wet.

A yellow stripe on the front of the steps to increase their visibility had been coated painted with paint which did not provide the required friction, the report said.

The friction was "well below the minimum specified in the Australian standard", the report says, and an accident would have been averted had another paint with anti-slip grains been used.

Judge Goldring said RailCorp did not contest the finding, but argued Ms Chu had failed to take due care for her own safety when she did not hold on to the railing.

Ms Chu, also known as Sherry Chu, was in Sydney on a temporary visa which did not entitle her to work or claim Medicare benefits.

The judge said in April it appeared she no longer had a valid visa and was in the country illegally.

When she was treated for her broken ankle she used the Medicare card of her landlady.

But Judge Goldring found she did so "because she was in severe pain, and probably shock, and clearly required immediate medical attention".

"I do not attribute any improper motive to either of these women. I put this down to cultural differences,” he said.

She was awarded $239,405 for the injury, medical expenses, and lost wages.

This includes damages of $150 a week for the rest of her life because her injury prevents her working in the same position she did before coming to Australia.

A spokesman for RailCorp spokesman said the company would appeal the judgement. "We feel there are some inconsistencies in the judgement," he said.

I am by no means arguing or belittling the pain and suffering that Chu has endured. I agree that she should receive compensation from RailCorp for failing to ensure their flooring was safe for pedestrians in both wet and dry conditions which caused her to slip over and break her ankle. And it is truly awful that Chu then suffered physical assault and violation in an abhorrent act of violence. What I am failing to see is how RailCorp is deemed responsible for Chu being raped and beaten in a private home some time after she broke her ankle on the steps of a railway station.

I honestly believe that Judge Goldring has set a very dangerous precedent in his ruling. In summary, Judge Goldring has ruled that RailCorp was responsible for Chu being raped. At the risk of sounding ignorant, what the??

Chu was injured at a railway station, and it was RailCorp’s fault that the paint they used made the surface slippery when wet. Ok, I can live with that.

But consider this – at the time of her injury, Chu had overstayed her visa, which meant she was in Australian illegally. If she had been found out, Chu would have been deported back to Taiwan, leaving a black mark against her name and making any future visits to Australia near (if not completely) impossible.

As if being an illegal immigrant wasn’t enough, Chu used her landlady’s Medicare card to see doctors for her injuries, which meant she had fraudulently assumed the identity of an Australian citizen in order to gain free access to the medical system.

And what did Judge Goldring have to say about the above? Nothing at all about the fact she was in the country illegally, and it’s all good to pretend to be someone else to sponge off the already overstretched and under-funded Australian public medical system for a bit of free medical treatment.

I’m all for helping those that need help, so whilst I’m bemused (and a little annoyed) by Judge Goldring brushing aside Chu’s illegal status and identity theft, I am appalled that he has ruled RailCorp responsible for Chu being raped and beaten and for her subsequent depression.

The article clearly stated that the rape occurred in a private home – not RailCorp owned property – weeks after her injury. I repeat, weeks had passed between her injury and the assault. And the article never mentioned the assailant being related to RailCorp in any capacity. Clearly, Chu’s assault was in no way related to RailCorp. Yet somehow, Judge Goldring made his ruling based on a very tenuous link attributing blame to RailCorp.

How far can you stretch the very thin rubber band that is tying this case together?

Just so we’re clear, not for one moment am I saying that it was Chu’s fault she was assaulted – that kind of stuff should NEVER happen to anyone, and those who commit such heinous acts against others (such as the man who assaulted Chu) should be hung and quartered.

However, we must take responsibility for our actions, and stop attributing all blame on everyone else. For Chu to attribute her assault and subsequent emotional distress to RailCorp is too far reaching. And for a judge to agree with her is setting too dangerous a precedent for people who may take advantage of this precedent and exploit future situations.

And why didn’t Chu return to Taiwan when her visa expired? Chu would have been fully aware that she had overstayed her visa, by more than 6 months, yet here she was, flouting the law and skiving medical benefits.

I feel insulted by Judge Goldring’s rulings. For him to say that Chu was raped because RailCorp’s slippery stairs broke her leg is outrageous. And for him to excuse Chu falsifying her identity to get medical treatment as a "cultural difference" is downright ridiculous. Does he honestly think that the general public is so stupid they would buy his rulings as fair dinkum?

What next? If tomorrow I was run over by a bus as I was leaving work with a migraine brought on by the non-stop high pitched whistling of a malfunctioning air conditioning unit, can I sue the air conditioning manufacturer for my injuries? I’d be hoping my case will appear before Judge Goldring, as he might just rule in my favour.

I hope RailCorp successfully appeals this ruling and nip this kind of nonsense in the bud.

Sam & the City – SMH Blog: 22/04/2007

It’s been a while since I’ve found anything on Sam & The City that I wanted to comment about, but her blog yesterday on "Too young to tie the knot?" caught my eye. Sam’s blog in full below:

It seems we’re having one of our periodic worldwide moan-fests about the state of modern marriage. We’re either too young, too old, too rushed, too slow, doing it for all the wrong reasons or doing it with too much pomp and fanfare to be the real deal.

But if we are to believe the lurid headlines, then what is the biggest problem we women face? Modern men are refusing to bow to pressures to get hitched.

Their reasoning? They’re simply "too young" to settle down.

"Too young?!" the ring-hankering women retort back. After all, Juliet was 13 when she tied the knot with Romeo! Marie Antoinette married at 14, actress Drew Barrymore walked down the aisle at 19 and pop singer Avril Lavigne managed to lure her beau into tying the knot when she was just 21!

So what’s going on?

We all know there’s been a seismic shift in the marital landscape, yet, from my recent research, I’m a little confused as to what exactly the shift entails.

While more and more of my female friends seem to be tying the knot younger and younger (I’ve seen countless women in their early 20s get hitched in the past year), the Australian Bureau of Statistics would have us believe otherwise …

Apparently the average marital age for women has increased to 29 from 24 in 1985, while the men have really been pushing things back to a whopping 32 (up from 26).

Yet many would disagree.

Forbes magazine reckons there’s an increase in "starter marriages"; marriages that start too early and subsequently end too early. The story cites the cause of their downfall as the lack of maturity of the parties involved as well as their false fantasies of marriage.

So my questions are these:

Are we really marrying later, as statisticians would have us believe? Are we shunning the institution altogether? Or are we rushing to the altar more quickly than ever before? And are the women hankering for a ring a little too young and too aggressively for the men to comprehend?

Apparently so.

A cautionary tale is recounted by my 24-year-old friend Ben, who, after finding himself dating a girl 10 years his senior, decided the right thing to do (in order to keep her happy) was to propose.

"I didn’t want to lose her," he said, "and I heard all that biological clock stuff, so I thought proposing would mean that I could keep her for good."

But the marital fantasy of sex on tap, increased domesticity, shared dishwashing duties and someone to help feed the cat while he went off to the footy quickly turned to reality.

"My mates were all partying and having a good time, and I was at home choosing wedding invitations and doing the seating arrangements. Suddenly it hit me that my life was going to be over before it had even begun. So I ended it. I lost the girl but gained back my life."

Prince William recently found himself in a similar position, with pressure from the world to tie the knot with long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton. After all, she was 25; almost an old maid by traditional princess standards.

Yet, at 24, the Prince felt way too young to tie the knot, telling a Sun reporter that he didn’t want to get hitched until he was "at least 28, or maybe 30".

The two however, had already shacked up. Middleton had allowed the Prince to "try before he buys", and, as Miranda Devine artfully opined, it was Middleton’s biggest mistake. "It is an old-fashioned concept but Middleton’s fate is a salutary lesson for young women contemplating shacking up with the love of their lives rather than holding out for a firm commitment." Ouch.

But perhaps he has good reason too.

A girlfriend who was so desperate to ditch the singleton label (and the fear of being labelled an "old maid" before her 25th birthday), rushed a poor bloke to the altar, only to figure out a couple of months later that the two were unsuitable for one another and a messy divorce ensued.

So back to age.

Is the delay to marry simply a man thing? Are women today still concerned as ever before about their biological clocks? And do women believe that the sooner they get the ring, the better?

Possibly. And while the women are secretly sizing up every man’s husband potential the minute they lay eyes on the poor lad, most of the time he’s only after a quick root and a hot date to accompany him to the annual office soiree …

Does age matter when it comes to marriage? What is too young to tie the knot? And are men more caught up in marital age than women?

So instead of putting in the hard yards at work today (short week, crap weather, lack of motivation all play bit parts in my current "who cares" state of mind), I wrote the following response:

Age is but a number, and if two people are truly committed to each other to want to take the plunge into the sanctity of marriage, then who has the right to say they are too young to be married? Wisdom and experience do not always come with age – they are gained from life lessons not necessarily always in sync with age.

Personally, I would have loved to have married young – I met and fell for the love of my life at the "tender age" of 20 and we were engaged after 6 weeks. Sadly, he passed away before we were married, and to this day, I haven’t yet come across another person I can definitively say I want to spend the rest of my life with.

I’m an almost 35 singleton who is in no hurry to marry. Yes, I would love to be married, and yes, I feel and hear my biological clock clanging loudly in my system, but there are still a number of other things in my life I want to iron out right now, namely career advancement and more financial stability. A partner to share my woes is nice, but there is no one better to rely on than yourself, and at the end of the day, I know I can best look after me, so I make taking care of myself a priority.

Most of my school friends married very young – the majority of them were married within 2 years of finishing high school, ie. by the time they turned 20. Seven years ago, I attended my 10 year high school reunion and I was pleased to learn that most of them were still happily married – amongst many things, they spoke of some valuable lessons learnt from marrying so young, such as the lack of financial stability, but for the most part, they worked through the various issues and their love continued to grow and prosper.

And I was shocked to learn that one of the girls was about to embark on her 3rd marriage – by the age of 27! She was quick to admit that in hindsight, she should not have married her first husband at the age of 17 (failed due to her infidelity), nor should she have married her second husband at the age of 20 to the reason her first marriage broke up. I heard through the grapevine last year that she was divorced again – goes to show some of us never learn from experience, regardless of age.

Of the weddings I attended over the past 5 years (for friends and family members of similar age to me), all of the couples have said that they would not have married any earlier for a variety of reasons. Some wanted more life experiences before marriage, some wanted to build a more stable financial future, but most were just not ready nor astute enough to make the commitment to trek down the aisle with their partners.

"For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only to your partner so long as you both shall live."

Marriage is a 2-way street – it can only work if both parties are truly committed to each other, regardless of age.

After posting my comment, the following thoughts also crossed my mind:

The examples of "too young for marriage" that Sam used were not the best. Juliet killed herself after meeting, falling in love with, marrying and widowed by Romeo in the space of a week. Drew Barrymore went on to divorce the man she married at 19 after a month of wedded bliss – her second marriage to Tom Green lasted less than 6 months. Marie Antoinette’s marriage at 14 was to seal a military deal between France and Austria – she sobbed as she left her parents bound for a foreign land, ill-prepared for the French language and customs, and the marriage wasn’t consummated for 7 years.

As for Avril Lavigne, she might be only 21, but with money being no object, she has probably experienced life most people twice her age would not have experienced. She has successfully attained a level of standing and recognition within the music industry – her album sales are proof enough. As a performer, she has travelled the world extensively whilst on tour. And she has reaped financial reward from her album sales. In short: career – tick, extensive world travel – tick, financial security – tick. She has managed to achieve all of these goals that the minions (like me) all strive to attain by the time she was legally allowed to drink in most of the Western world, so what else was left to do? I for one am happy she found someone she wants to spend the rest of her life with and has made a commitment to "forsake all others", all by the age of 21.

As for Prince William – poor chicken – do you blame him for not wanting to get married? He has not had the best role models as far as "happily ever after" is concerned – as if growing up surrounded by broken marriages is not enough (Great Aunt Margaret, Aunt Anne, Uncle Andrew, Uncle Charles), his own parents’ very public and very ugly divorce would have put off the most ardent supporter of weddings.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the "why buy the cow" sentiment so "artfully opined" by Miranda Divine. That’s another blog all together

Recommended Website: How Stuff Works

Finally, a website that tells you how everything works!!

Being naturally inquisitive, I’ve always wanted to know how things work. My school of thought has always been “the more I know, the better it is for me”. I actually look forward to learning something new every day. One such day, a question was asked by a colleague as to what WiFi was and how it worked, and another colleague steered us to this website. What a gem!

Since that fateful day, I’ve had very limited time to have a better look at the website, but I did manage to read “How Women Work” and “How Men Work”. I’m looking forward to finding out how other stuff works!

The Virginia Tech Tragedy

The tragic events that took place at Virginia Tech on 16 April 2007 have affected me more than words can describe. As I sat and watched the news reports last night, I found myself in floods of uncontrollable and unexplained tears.

I was upset for all of the shooting victims who were killed and maimed, and for their families, friends and associates. I was upset for all the people who bore witness to this atrocity, those who were on campus or nearby, and for all the emergency personnel who attended the scene and / or treated the victims. And I continue to be upset for everyone directly and indirectly related to the events.

Most of all, I was and continue to be upset for the family of the shooter and for the shooter himself, Cho Seung-Hui.

This damaged young man has left an indelible imprint in the modern history of the world. People may forget his name in the not-too-distant future, but his actions will never be forgotten. And this is the burden that his family members will carry for the rest of their lives.

His parents will never forget the boy they brought into the world, for whom they moved to another country for a better life. They will never forget the happy and precious times shared with their beloved son. But they will also never forget what he did on the morning of 16 April 2007. And they will never forgive themselves for not being able to stop their son from turning into the monster who brutally took the lives of 32 human beings before taking his own. Nor will they ever stop asking the questions “Where did we go wrong?” and “How did we let this happen?”

According to those who met him and shared classes with him, Cho was the “question mark kid” who distinguished himself for being anonymous. His teachers worried about the English major’s macabre plays and writings, whilst his classmates joked nervously that Cho would do something awful. A number of people who had dealings with Cho were so concerned about his demeanour and behaviour that he was reported to the authorities, the department heads of his courses and campus counsellors.

Somehow, somewhere, something failed. And nothing prepared the world for what Cho unleashed on his unsuspecting classmates at Virginia Tech.

Cho will forever be remembered as a mass-murderer; a cold-blooded killer; a loner who was disturbed, threatening and creepy; a monster who was evil, a deranged psychopath.

Cho should also be remembered as a son, a brother, a human being.

I hope that all the people affected by this tragedy (especially Cho’s family) find strength to move forward in the face of this indescribable adversity and unimaginable sorrow. I hope they find comfort in the ideal that their loved ones are in a better place, albeit leaving this world in such a violent and unexpected way. And I hope peace has found Cho.