Goals Update – July

Every month, I like to check in with the ‘New years goals‘ I set.

Financial

$20k $26k target by 22 Decah, maybe this will need to be adjusted again with the move.  I’ll leave it for now, and see how things settke
June: $17,938.69
July: $18,035.56 (+$96.87 thanks to moving costs :()

12 in 2 Adventures: failed: not done any adventures, working on the two long term ones, and no adding to savings
June: $898.81
July: $749.93 (how’d that go down?)

Grocery spend

I thought I’d add a quick update, seeing my July challenge was no eating out, I figured my grocery spend would go up.  It hasn’t, it’s about the same.  Although, I probably ate at the bf’s more this month, so that might be why?

Volunteering hours
Tue 2nd: 4.25hrs at the co-op
Sun 7: 1hr at church
Sun 14: 2hrs at church

Health

Cook at home twice a weekdefinitely achieved with my ‘no eating out’ month, but records are patchy!

week 1 –
Leek tart(Mon)
Coop food provided (Tue)
Wedding meal (Sat)
no more records?

week 2 –
no record for the rest of this week, except:
Multi course birthday dinner (Sat)
Chinese roast beef with vegies (Sun)

week 3 –
Another forgetful week!
Dinner @ parents (Sat)
Pizzas (ready made from grocery store) (Sun)

week 4 –
Gnocchi with tomatoes (Mon)
Sweet potato chips (Tue)
Fried Rice (Wed)
Sushi (Thu) <- yes bought out
snacks/leftovers (Fri)
Macaroni & cheese (Sat)
Spaghetti bolognese (Sun)

Week 5
Quesadillas (Mon)
Leftovers from Mon (Tue)
Beef with rice noodles (Wed)

Sugar – so so, not commited like I have been, but not entirely a free for all
It started well, but ended poorly, with lots of cakes at work, including me trying a gluten free sponge recipe, making a GF chocolate cake, using a packet mix for brownies (just to use it up). I also made a vegan cheesecake with dates and a touch of sugar. Then I also ate dessert at the fancy friend’s b’day dinner, and we bought ice creams in the past week. Sigh!

Train for polo – Training to run a half marathon: just platueaing! Something I want to achievely work on once I’m settle in my new home
2nd – couldn’t run 3kms to Co-op, so mainly walked with some jogging stints
9th – home to co-op, 2.93kms with some running
12th – 1.23km walk to the bf’s work
13th – 2.83km jog with hills around the bfs, with running
15th – 4.8km run back from dancing, some walking
22nd – 4.4km est, home to pole dancing, more walking than running
23rd – 4.3km mostly walking to/from hair dresser
29th – 1.53km jog/walk to appt

Cultural

2 films a month: failed (though did see two DVDs)
I can hardly believe I’ve not seen a movie in a cinema in a month – that is SO unlike me. I did mention to the BF that perhaps we could see something last night. I did watch two DVDs recently, one based on the IRA (slow burner, not really recommended). The other one was called The Factory and was better than I expected – it stars John Cusack and Jennifer Carpenter (from Dexter), and follows serial abductions of prostitutes, until John Cusack’s daughter also get abducted. There’s an awesome twist too!

2 books a month: achieved
I read Bottlemania, which you can read the review of here. Other than that, I finished The Heart Broke In by James Meek, and here’s my review (gosh that seems like a long time ago I read that!). Lastly, I’ve started on a book about called Nice Girl by R.j. Chin about Keli Lane. Keli Lane has been convicted of murder of her second child, who disappeared after an informal adoption. This is one of three children she had in secret, the other two being formally adopted. Her fourth child lives with her. This story is compelling to me, because… Keli was my boss at the school she was employed at during the years much of this drama happened! She was an Olympic water polo hopeful, and recruited me as a casual coach at her school. She left suddenly during my time working at the school. Based on the half of the book I’ve read, most people who knew her, myself included, do not believe she killed her baby. I think it’s rotten you can be convicted of murder when there’s no proof of murder. I’m sure there’s crimes committed, but murder is certainly not one of them! Here’s some more background in wikipedia

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend: achieved
YES! A friend I made in Paris, who at the time lived in Wollongong, has been in Sydney since Feb. So I finally had her around for a cuppa, before moving out of my place. I also spoke to a number of school friends with the bad news of a friend’s death. Lastly, I semi spammed my nearest and dearest (but not local) with the link to my new house, so they could ooo and ahhh… So all round, a great month on social connections.

Career

Certification: minimal progress

Seriously, other than three hours spent at talks for continuing professional development (I need 150 hours).  I booked into a pricey course to get another 16 hours.  I’ve also been meeting with both my mentors, I’ve really not moved forward with this one as much as I could have. I need to set some time to get onto this and get it DONE!

Looking for next roleachieved, will remove from goals list

I’m in the new role, and I’m swamped. Let’s say I was under utilised in the last role, and now I hardly can think straight! But I love being busy, just perhaps not at the same time as moving house!!

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Book review: Bottlemaina by Elizabeth Royte

This week’s book review is a book I casually found on the shelves of my library, in a section I was looking for something else.  Bottlemania by Elizbeth Royte looks at the politics of water – both bottled, and tap water.  It’s a great, easy to read non fiction book. It was published in 2008, so it’s a little out of date now, and I wish there was an edit with how some things have gone since then.

I want to share with you some great stats:

  • In 2006, in the US, each person on average used 686 single serve beverage bottles. In 1960-70s, that number was closer to 200-250 per annum, and largely beer and soft drink.
  • The 8 glasses of water a day is a fallacy – not that water isn’t good for you, but the body reaches homeostasis, and anything additional will just be ‘waste’.
  • The EPA predicted that by 2013, 36 US states would be suffering drinking water shortages (for tap water). I’d love to know how this 2008 prediction has turned out.
  • In the US, NYC, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon are the only cities where they are not required to filter their tap water. (Interestingly, all cities I want to visit).
  • The company that owns Clorox (a bleach brand) also own Brita filters – which, filter out chlorine. How’s that for market capitalisation!
  • Compostable corn based plastics are only compostable in commerical compost heaps – backyard compost heaps are unlikely to ever get hot enough. And it doesn’t mis well with regular recycling either. That’s of course, without considering the amount of herbicides and fertilizer it takes to grow the corn. What would your thoughts on this, Polythene Pam

Overall, the author can’t help but prefer tap water while admitting it’s fair from ideal either. The costs and effort that go into making water drinkable are extensive. The EPA regulates a number of contaminants, but there’s as many again that it does not test for, or regulate (like residues of drugs!). There’s far less restrictions on the quality of bottled water.  Not even filters like Brita can remove many of the concerning compounds found in water – both tap and bottled.

It was an eye opening ‘story’ of drinking water, and I’m glad I picked it up. I can’t tell you how it ends, as I do have two chapters to go.  What are you thoughts?  Are single use bottles worth it for the convenience combined with BPA leaching?  Or would you rather tap water – treated with all sorts of chemicals to counteract the aging lead pipes, and the leftover pharmaceuticals and perchlorates?  It’s really not as simple as I thought it might have been

Book review: The Heart Broke In by James Meek

Thanks to the blogging community, I picked up this fiction novel about betrayal (thanks Dar, at An Exacting Life, she mentions it in this post).  At 550 pages, it wasn’t a short read and at times I did wonder whether it was worth finishing.  Slowly the various characters lives were woven together, and as the final chapters came together, the true characters presented themselves.  All this book has on it’s back cover is “Would you betray someone you love to give them what they want?”  It’s a pretty chilling question, and not at all simple to answer.

source: bookoxygen.com

source: bookoxygen.com

It’s hard to explain all the characters in this story, but there’s a pair of brothers, and a brother/sister pair, and their associated families.  The first brother, Alex, is a successful scientist and incredibly esoteric.  His brother Dougie has become a postman, and is the family failure.  The other due is a Ritchie a former music star who now produces a teen music contest for TV, and his sister Bec is a scientist looking to find a vaccine for malaria.  Both these duo’s marriages and family, partners and parents are also included in the stories, which at times makes it a full house! [I’m proud to report, to regular book review readers, I remembered those character names without looking them up! My brain and name memory must be improving!]

Overall, the snippets of the book I quoted to the bf (in the closing chapters) left him saying ‘that’s one messed up book you’re reading there’, and to an extent he is right.  But every life has these silent betrayals and compromises.  This book touches on fidelity, blackmail, torture, forgiveness, love, lust and a sprinkle of nepotism and family feuds.  I wasn’t bored whilst reading this – none of my other books got a look in whilst this was on the go, so whilst it might be murky and like a wet day in winter, you can’t help but wonder how things will turn out.  I’d definitely recommend it, so long as you’re ready for a cloudy day!

Goals Update – June

Financial

$20k $26k target by 22 DecOn target to reach it by 21/11!
May: $16,413.13
Jun: $17,938.69 (+$1525.56)

12 in 2 adventures fund

May: $574.32
June: $898.81

Generosity target
Slower month this month, but annualised, I think I’m still doing fine.  Maybe I’ll report on my hours volunteering?

Health

Cook at home twice a weekEasily met, especially with the BF’s cooking mixed in

week 1 –
Dad’s graduation dinner (Sat)
Ceasear salad at BF’s (Sun)
Red Rooster (Mon)
Spag Bol with zuchini (Tue)
Garlic cheese pizza (Wed)
Chicken Ceaser Salad (Thu)
Satay pork pies, Zucchini slice & Pumpkin Pie (Fri)
Malaysian at Mamak and N2 gelato (Sat) <- my go to for out of town visitors!
Curry and Rice at parents (Sun)

week 2 –
nothing… Ice cream at vivid festival (Mon)
Oven roasted cheery tomato gnocchi (Tue) <- can I just say, I didn’t think something so easy could be so tasty! I even skip on the basil and it’s awesome
Chicken with Bombay potatos (Wed)
Zuchini slice? (Thu)
Pepperoni pizza (Fri)
Mamak again, different location and different people (Sat)
Nachoes by BF at my place (Sun)

week 3 –
Ceaser salad at BF’s (Mon)
Gnochhi with slow roasted tomatos(Tue)
McDonalds (I had a freebie) (Wed)
Gnocchi (from ricotta) (Thu)
Salt and pepper squid at the pub (Fri)
Onion tart (Sat)
Pad Se Ew (sp?) at BF’s (Sun)

week 4 –
Onion tart (Mon)
Onion tart (Tue)
Food at Coop Fundraiser (Wed)
Dominos pizza (Thu)
Nothing (some cake?) (Fri)
Gnocchi with oven dried tomatoes at BF’s (Sat) yes again!
Stew at a friends (Sun)

Sugar: Back on a good thing, but only 1 week this month

After a shock on Monday week ago (seeing my whole reflection in the mirror!), I have decided to cut sugar at least til the end of July.  My loop holes are that if I bake it at home, it’s ok (like a great gluten free pear and walnut bread mmmm).  Natural sugars are ok (milk, fruit).  And I won’t be a Nazi – I did nibble a tiny bit of a snack Mars Bar and the BF ate the rest.  Or the super good organic chocolate at the coop that someone kept offering me – with coconut sugar I think.

Train for polo:

Taking the season off.  I am pleased I got a continuous 4km run in on Wednesday and it felt a-ok.  It was relatively flat, and I only walked about 30m at a time before I started running again, so law of averages says I ran!

Cultural

2 films a month: Happily yes!

Definitely! There was the silly This is the end (which we saw with free tickets… which is the only way I’d ever suggest anyone sees this – unless you are a man who likes toilet humour); we also went and saw The Great Gatsby and The Internship which I enjoyed more than I might have expected.  Technically, World War Z also came in during this month too!

2 books a month: Also a yes!

I read The World Without Us and Perfume, click the links if you missed my reviews

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend : Achieved, gold star here

A friend from Victoria visited, so she made all the effort 😉 And is now a reader – yay!  And at the beginning of June I went to the Gold Coast and caught up with a school friend.  So two good activities with two out of town friends! Win!

Career

Certification: Bah, not so much progress :s

I’ve got my mentor to read three of the woeful 16, and updated two of them.  The third one, all about ‘evaluation’ – he said what I wrote doesn’t really prove that I have this skill.  He is, of course, right, but I just don’t know how to fix it!  Maybe start again :s

Looking for next role: Moving along nicely

Interestingly, one has found me.  I spoke to my boss a week or two ago, looking for some growth/learning areas he thought might be useful.  At the same time, i told him about my career goal.  A week later he called me into his office and suggested a lateral move, with the view that it will enhance my skills, and may give me some management ‘practice’.  So, I think it’s a no brainer that i take it!

So the month that was June.  All round, pretty good.  On track with savings (and a HUGE backpay/OT/on call pay supplement this week too!).  Killing it on my cultural goals, and ok on the career and social fronts.  Maybe I should add ‘running’ into the health part – and keep myself a little more accountable, as I had a huge hiatus after this post.

Film review: World War Z

I really think you, my readers, are high brow and that a blockbuster movie review will probably be of little value to you. Nonetheless, I’m not finished another book yet (though I did start on a fiction book – yay) so instead, I bring you a film review, which shall be World War Z.

Helicopters and zombies source: betheredcarpet.co.uk

Helicopters and zombies
source: betheredcarpet.co.uk

I’m pretty interested in the ‘end of the world’ – whether it’s in the form of a natural disaster (remember my Emergency book from the book inventory post?) or from a more ‘minor’ adjustment to life – such as the holocaust.  So World War Z was on my ‘to watch’ list the first time I saw a trailer.

The story is humans becoming zombies through some sort of rabies like infection.  The premise of the movie is for Brad Pitt to find the source of the virus (disease/infection – you can see I’m not really on top of this medical terminology) and hopefully a vaccine.  To be honest, I’m not a zombie fan (though I did see Warm Bodies a little while aog) but this movie made it seem possible and realistic.  A viral infection that causes people not to die, but to stay in a permanent in between state, and continue to infect people.  It almost seemed plausible! 

Interestingly, despite the film probably paying through the nose for Brad Pitt, it could have been any actor in this film and it would have still been enjoyable.  That being said, if you’re going to have a jet setting UN agent, why not make it shaggy haired Brad Pitt?  His wife was pretty well played too – she’s strong and courageous when she needs to be (before they are helicoptered to safety) and scared and lonely when she calls him (at most inopportune time, waking the South Korean zombies in the airfield!)

There were so many things I thought might or could happen in the film that didn’t. Why did Brad Pitt’s family take the Indian boy from New Jersey (where they crashed in a family’s apartment)?  Who would take an extra kid to a naval ship with limited space?  How come Brad’s wife gets a satellite phone, come on, she’s just doing nothing on the naval ship and the world is ending!! Why take a recently bitten, then amputated, Israeli solider scooped up and taken with Brad Pitt on a long haul passenger plane full of people? She could have ‘turned’ at any time! Or when Brad Pitt’s in the room of all known infections, and he doesn’t know which one to pick, surely the camera could have moved up and down to nod, and left and right to shake it’s ‘head’. And the ending, it didn’t really seems as Hollywood as I’ve come to expect.  Sure there were tears and a rainy reunion, but as far as curing the masses, it didn’t happen.

There were some great moments in this film.  Where the Israeli explains this rule (I wonder if it exists in real life) where if there are 10 people, the 10th person must disagree, and accept a treat as true and plausible.  In this manner, Israel created a haven from zombies, by building a wall in about 10 days.  Also, the premise that a zombie would look for ‘fresh’ meat, and therefore overlook those who were weak, such as those with a virus.  If I was more science based, I’m sure I could ripe holes in this theory, but it sounded good to me.

I hear the book it very different to the film, so of course, I’ll just have to read it!

Here’s what other people have said/shown:

Funny image from the film

Alternative review

Is a Brad Pitt zombie flick for you?  Have you read the book?

Book Review: The World Without Us by A. Weisman

Thanks to Dar, at An Exacting Life and her monthly round ups, I added The World Without Us to my reading list, and seeing it wasn’t already on loan from the library I picked it up almost straight away.

source: en.wikipedia.org

source: en.wikipedia.org

Before I lose any readers, this end of the world book isn’t about zombies, aliens or the like. It’s quite simply about the way the world would ‘survive’ without humans. It looks at what animals might take over, and which might become extinct without our nurturing – and also assesses what mega fauna existed in the past. Why did this megafuana die almost universally, but in some cases, survive in some small pockets?  How would soil, farms and forests regenerate?

The book explores how built environments would crumble – how the constant cooling and heating of the seasons, particularly in places where there’s snow and a thaw – cause havoc on concrete. I loved how it talked about the constant battle to keep the New York Subway from being flooded. This seems positively harmless in comparison to the thought of the 441 nuclear plants slowly shutting down, and with them, a radioactive, boiling hot sludge spilling outwards combined with releasing radioactivity into the air. That’s nothing to say about the storage of all the nuclear waste we have to date, which wouldn’t survive without constant maintenance on the structures that hold it, and the power to keep it cool.

I’m tempted to use superlatives with every sentence, such as ‘the scariest part’ or ‘the most worrying thing’ but in reality, so much of this book was alarming and enlightening. How about all the plastics? This book talked about the micro plastics inserted into shower gels, which, after exfoliating the user, are destined for waterways, and the mouths of small animals – something Beth Terry recently campaigned about. The statistics are harrowing. I’d started to think that my ‘recyclables’ and ‘compost’ were ok, and then this book comes out and says the newspapers don’t biodegrade away from air and water, proving the point by saying there’s a reason we have some 3,000 year old papyrus scrolls from Egypt, or perfectly readable newspapers from landfills dated in the 1930s.

It ends with details of how we could make the world sustainable, with the question on population (something Lois touched on yesterday after Jed Bush’s comments).  It suggested a world wide cap of one children per female (obviously we’re talking about humans here!) By 2100, the population would be at 1.6 billion.  It’s something that’s unlikely to be popular, but it’s interesting to think that with this simple step, we could return the world to the 19th century times, but with all the technological advancements.  We’d cherish every birth, even more so than today.  And we’d know that whilst sacrificing a bigger family unit, we’d be healing the earth gradually.  (That being said, I’m not sure I’d be ok with having an only child…)

I loved this book (it won out to the negotiation book, but I did also finish the very Australia centric Cheapskate book I mentioned last week).  It was eye opening to understand how great an impact we’ve already made on the world, and how long it would take for different things to return to a natural equilibrium.  I’d recommend you read this book if you’re at all environmentally minded, or like to think ‘what if’ in terms of the future of the world.  It’s incredibly well written, with a light touch whilst incorporating so much data and research.  This book, to me, is an example of how I’d enjoy all non fiction to be written 😉

Book Review: 1/4 Bible

So, I have three non fiction library books on the go at the moment –

  • The Yes Book: the art of better negoiation by Clive Rich, 
  • Debt free, cashed up and laughing: the cheapskates way to living the good life by Cath Armstrong and Lea-Anne Armstrong and finally 
  • The World without Us by Alan Weisman.  
Source: booktopia.com, wikipedia.ord & cliverich.com

Source: booktopia.com, wikipedia.ord & cliverich.com

I’m liking the multiple book method – the first was in my handbag, the second is my breakfast reading and the third is my favourite, I read before bed, and it’s also migrated into the handbag…  Anyhow, none of these are finished and ready for a review. So, what have I got for you today?  As some may recall, my 12 in 2 list included reading the bible.

This past Sunday 16 June, marked 1/4 way through this plan (which has a different ‘book’ for each day).  Why am I reading the bible?  Well, I’ve never read all the lesser known books, even though I know other stories so well, from years of religious schooling and Sunday school.  Even if you’re not a christian, it’s hard to deny that the bible is a part of popular literature, and a lot of cultural references are from the bible (or wrongly attributed to the bible).  I also felt the need to know what’s really said in passages that are regularly used in topical issues, like gay marriage, sex before marriage and many other contentious issues.

Let me assure you, it’s not all easy reading.  I struggled with all ‘someone begat someone’ and this tribe fought and killed all of that tribe/city.  That being said, the Psalms can be truly lovely.  Job is a great story, and I believe many people would identify with this back and forth struggle with God, and worthiness, and what they deserve.  I’ve started to list the interesting passages on the book marks I’ve created (one for each day), so that I can come back and know which were the parts I’d like to reread, or reference.  I was defaming the book with pencil underlining, but once the pencil went walkabout, I decided against a permanent scar in the bible :s (I’m sure librarians are in horror I even used pencil!)

Last night, whilst ‘catching up’ on Sunday’s reading, I found this:

And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head–it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.

1 Corinthians 11: 5-6

Seems my bare, shaved headed ways in church might not have been ok! Oh well, lucky I didn’t know this passage :p  Thankfully, no one at church has been impolite enough to share this insight with me.

Defaced bible

Bookmarks showing, and some childish colouring in :p

I do however, think reading the actual bible is interesting, especially after reading A year of living biblically by A J Jacobs last year.  His experiment eventually summarised that it’s impossible in modern society to stone a man (though he tried), and maintain other more drastic passages of the bible.  And I think that’s the key – so many people quote passages of the bible as their reason in an argument, without tempering their biblical decision making with all the biblical activities that are now illegal or barbaric.  Simply speaking, everything that’s written in the bible can’t be taken 100% literally.

So, now for the remaining 39 weeks of reading!