Friday, December 31, 2004

The trouble with big secrets

The trouble with big secrets is that you can't tell them to anyone - of course. And if it's big, then it's going to be on your mind a lot; you try seeing people every day and not telling them all about something that's occupying all your thoughts, or blogging every night without mentioning it because someone you actually know will probably read it. I suppose that's what paper journals are for, but they really don't have the same effect as telling a living person, even if that person lives on the other side of the world and has never met you.

Obviously, I should be going somewhere with this. But that would be telling.

A year is not a very long time

No doubt just about every journal-blogger will be writing a "Looking back at 2004" post, but I have New Zealand time on my side - perhaps I could be one of the first...

In 2004:

- I started library school
- I became licensed to drive a bus
- My income increased so much that I was now able to buy myself clothes sometimes
- The boy told me it would be nice to have kids together
- We went on our first holiday together for longer than a weekend
- I saw my first real, live whale
- I gained a niece
- My blog got mentioned in the newspaper, and it looked like people were actually reading it on a regular basis
- Finally, after many applications and interviews, I got a new job close to home

Bloody hell. I haven't managed a very exciting list, have I?


Geez, what a time to get a cold. We've had Summer for exactly four days, and now I have a cold.

I should have taken heed when I woke up in the middle of the night, three nights in a row, with a really dry mouth. That feeling I had, as though there was a brick in my stomach, should've warned me. But, no - I didn't realise until I'd sneezed several times and felt the lining of my osophaegus attempt to rise up through my throat and exit through my nostrils.

It's really annoying because it means I probably won't be out for New Year's Eve. Just think what a tragedy this would have been for me if I were still single i.e. have no-one to stay at home with tonight...

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Sloth is bliss

Aaaah...slothfulness...sleeping in, taking a long time to have breakfast, watching television and DVDs, reading and going for walks - these have been the mainstays of the last few days for me. I'm loving it.

The days go by more slowly because I'm not rushing around trying to do stuff, but no so slowly as to bore me. So, yay! - I still have another eleven days of being a total slob and it feels like a long time...

Perhaps I'll get around to playing with the pastel-by-numbers landscape which someone gave me for my birthday months ago. Or I might get on with reviewing and writing up my India travel diaries. Or go to the library and get tons of books out, just to read for fun.

The fact that I should be working on assignments, and that classes start up again on January 5th (according to the prospectus), hasn't affected my newly-slothful habits at all.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

superheroes with beer bellies and big bums

We went to see The Incredibles last night. (It was a couple-y thing - the boy and I, his friend and his friend's wife. Until recently I never did couple-y things of course, although I was often been the fifth wheel at dinner parties.)

Packed with stereotypes it may have been (the shy teenage daughter, a shrinking violet called Violet; the slightly Homer-esque father; the all-nurturing mum; the mischievous son...), but it was very funny. I liked that Mr Incredible had a beer gut, and that Elastigirl had little boobs and big hips. Frozone's wife may sound like a caricature out of Oprah, but she got the funniest line. And the age-old English distrust of red-haired people is put to use too, for the villain is a carrot-top.

This was way better than those film versions of comic book super heroes, probably because it wasn't trying to take two-dimensional characters and give them complex personalities. But perhaps I'm only saying that because I have no interest in comic books either.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Buffy novels vs The Da Vinci Code

I finally got around to reading Immortal (by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder), the Buffy novel which my manager picked up from the library book sale, and gave me.

Up until now I've been avoiding the novels, instead reading only the scholarly non-fiction books about the TV series, thinking that surely the novels would be poor substitutes for the TV episodes. But I'm going to have to amend my opinion. I really enjoyed Immortal; the dialogue was believably Buffy-like, the story was exciting and the main villain was interesting. This doesn't mean I'm going to go out and buy them all - there must be a hundred Buffy and Angel novels, and not all written by these two authors - but it does give me more choice next time I go to the library (as a customer) for some leisure reading. And in 2005, I have promised myself more time for leisure reading.

I certainly can't be as positive about Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. It's just a boring thriller. An un-thriller. For a start, the first (and only? I'm only a quarter of the way through the book) murder victim is shot in, or close to his stomach. He must be in agony. He's dying. Yet he manages to crawl up and down the gallery in the Louvre, hide keys behind paintings, scrawl anagrams on the floor with his own blood and arrange his body to resemble the man in Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man - before he dies. Yeah, right.

The weather

After moaning about the crap so-called summer we're having over here, I suppose the environmental gods could be a lot meaner. At least we aren't being engulfed by a massive tsunami. I just received an email today, from a friend who's visiting family in Thailand. They were actually on the beach when it happened - being told by security guys to get off the beach; seeing the big waves in the distance before breaking into a run; finding cover behind their hotel and being glad they missed out on a beachfront bungalow...And some of them were out on a dive trip at the time too - it's amazing they made it back to shore safely.

Meanwhile, back home we're experiencing our first warm, sunny, non-galeforce day in maybe two or three weeks. The last time we had a day this nice, I was spewing because our inconsiderate neighbours were still partying full-blast. (I'm an old fogey who likes her peace and quiet, especially when its only 9am). The boy and I went into town for lunch and a walkaround, and it was all I could do to stop myself from complaining that it was way too hot! That's what happens when you get used to wintry summers...

Sunday, December 26, 2004

3am thoughts

The boy woke me up with his slightly-too-loud long-distance phone calls to his family in the UK, so here I am looking to the 'Net to keep me entertained until I'm ready for sleep again...

The turkey was a huge success - my sister-out-of-law did a great first-time job in roasting it, and the flesh was as tender and succulent as the poultry advertisements would have you believe.

My nephew had managed to open all of his presents (as well as some that weren't for him) well before we arrived mid-afternoon; the lounge floor was covered in little dinosaurs, books, colouring-in books, an inflatable snakes'n'ladders game and lots more. I'm sure that the addition of more dinosaurs and books from the boy and I will be lost in the heap by tomorrow.

My brother and his partner gave us an alarm clock with a picture of Mao Tse-tung on the face; wind it up and his arm waves back and forth, clutching his little red book. Cute.

Secret Santa
At most places where I have worked, the workmates have played Secret Santa. You draw a name out of a hat, and then spend around $5 on a present for that person - it has to be anonymous, of course. It's a good idea which really works best when the participants know each other fairly well. Well, in my case, it's been an opportunity to find out how little people know about me. The last Secret Santa gift I received was a set of tea-light candles. One of my workmates got a can of builders' bums. Why couldn't I get something funny and silly like a can of bums?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas dinners

Our library Christmas dinner was last night, timed to start just as the council's drinkies ended. There was a ton of food at the drinks, and the restaurant dinner was American-size (that means too much for an average person to eat without exploding). By 9pm the post-binge doziness had set in, and I had to drive home in a glutinous stupor.

Meanwhile, the humungous serves 10-11 turkey is quietly defrosting in the fridge, awaiting a damned good roasting in my brother's oven. I thought it was a bloody good deal - I supply some raw food while someone else cooks it for us.

Back when my brother and I were living at home, Christmas Day used to be a pretty boring occasion. There'd be a ton of food at lunch or dinner, followed by the two of us exchanging presents - Mum didn't believe in giving presents. In fact, Mum has never given us presents (unless you count re-wrapping a box of chocolates gifted to us and re-addressing them to someone else). I can't blame her religion because she's been a regular church-goer for several years. In fact, when she gave me a red packet with money in it for my fortieth, I was astounded. Mmmm...perhaps that's the Christian influence.

Anyway, more than the food and the prezzies, what I'm looking forward to is two whole weeks of sleep-ins.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My haircut

Never get an impromptu haircut, especially if:

1. you don't know for sure what you want
2. you're very trusting, and it's a new hairdresser
3. you've been drinking

I hadn't been drinking, but the first two points were certainly true for me this morning. For months now, my hair has been too long for my body size and shape; on hot days the extra head cover made me feel over-heated.

I'd been looking out for cheap presents for the library's Secret Santa thing, when I came across the Cut'n'Go hair salon. Now, I've been there once before and was very happy with the results that time - perhaps because I'd only asked for a trim of about an inch all around. This time around I asked for above-the-shoulder hair. Then I said I wanted a bob. Obviously the hairdresser had particular ideas about how short a bob should be. About three inches shorter than my idea.

Back at work, the feedback was mostly positive. I, however, thought she had gone too far. You could put me in a Mao suit and I'd look like I'd just got off the boat from China - about forty years ago. In fact, I distinctly recognise my haircut in a family photo from long ago; one in which a ten-year-old little girl had just had a classic Chinese bowl-cut. I expressed these fears to one of the librarians, and was a bit put out when she nodded in agreement. She wasn't supposed to do that.

Oh well, at least it'll grow out.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Does this make me Lorne Green?

Commander Adama

What classic sitcom character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(found at Imperfect Pedant)

A little bit more Asia in NZ

What a nice gesture to international students unfamiliar with sit-down toilets. Auckland University are converting some of their loos into the squat variety. Personally, I wouldn't object as long as I get to choose. Sometimes one is just not dressed ideally for squatting. Skirts and flat shoes, no problem. Long, wide-leg pants and high-heels, maybe not.

Having experienced such facilities on my travels, I'd certainly agree that it's much more hygenic if one's bum doesn't have to touch anything which has already been sat on by another bum. (My short legs make it difficult for me to execute that manoeuvre I've heard about amongst other women - that one where you have your feet on the ground and yet still avoid resting your bum on the toilet seat.)

It's also a good exercise in flexibility, I've been told.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Square eyes

We kind of went overboard on the DVD-buying this weekend. With The Shining (not the Stanley Kubrick version), The Singing Detective, Angel Season Three and Buffy Season Four Part Two still to view, you'd think that we'd have no reason to go out and purchase more.

But the collection has now been bolstered up to include The Return of the King (special extended DVD), a trio of trendy action movies (for the boy's mystery Christmas present), Band of Brothers (which I had to get once the boy told me that was what he really wanted for Christmas) and The Office (both seasons, and only because I told the boy that's what I really want for Christmas).

I've utterly lacked motivation to study this weekend, mostly because I've been thinking about the latest assignment and I don't even know where to start (I have to write a research proposal, but first I have to pick a publishing house and find out everything about it in order to define a problem which the research would solve). So I've been watching a lot of original Star Trek, Angel and Return of the King.

You know, it's not true that I'd be bored without a full-time job.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Counting down

Today was the last time I would work on a Saturday - after today no more travelling for ninety minutes, just to work for 2-3 hours. From now on, every Saturday is my own (as long as I can avoid it becoming an additional shop-with-Mum day).

- Only one more week of work until my two-week Christmas and New Year break.
- Only three more weeks until my leaving do.
- Only four more weeks until the end of my much-regretted MLIS course.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Bad Chinese food - the cons of growing up with great cooking.

Tonight was one of those nights when the boy prefers ordering home-delivered fast food, to cooking up something nice and wholesome pour moi. We had one of those nights already this week, so I wasn't keen on pizza again even when it's devilishly good. So Chinese it was. I've had a bit of experience with Chinese food in my lifetime, so I tend to avoid paying money to eat it. This makes it all the worse when the only Chinese restaurant nearby which does home deliveries, is not very good. (In fact, there are only two Chinese restaurants in town which I'd heartily recommend and neither of them do takeaways.)

Even I, a non-cook, can do a decent vegetable stirfry in which none of the ingredients taste like raw grass. The roast duck and pancakes were edible though.

An addendum

Now that it's official, I'd like to just add a word of advice for anyone out there who is looking to leave their job for a better one - use Murphy's Law.

Things only started to get rolling (getting interviews and stuff), when I did something to prove I meant to stick around for the long term - I brought my own personal coffee mug to work.

I don't know why I didn't think of it much earlier, but it works. For example, I only lost interest in karate after I spent all my study money for the semester on an imported book by the master; I only lost my obsession for yoga after I purchased a super-deluxe yoga mat for at-home practice; I only stopped painting with a passion after I made my first (and only) sale.

Think about it. Murphy's Law can work for you too.

Tying up loose ends

Yesterday the police came over to pick up on the whole "Little Shit" affair.

They've served the kid (or was it his parents?) with a protection order, which means he isn't allowed into the library for twelve months. He was passed onto the Youth Affairs people, who are arranging a group session meant for him, his family, and his victim (that's me). Apparently if The Little Shit has to confront the person he hurt, he's more likely to realise that what he did was wrong. However, I won't be working at this place by then, and am not particularly interesting in travelling all this way just to meet the nasty little boy. I don't care about him, and I don't want to be involved in his rehabilition. I realise that I may eat my words one day in the future if The Little Shit, all grown up, attacks someone with more ferocity, all because he missed out on an early moral lesson. I don't care; it's time to move on.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I'm outa here

I resigned today. That's the big news - I hope it was worth waiting for. (Were you shaking with anticipation, Darth?)

My last day is on January 14th, which means that I have two weeks and two days left to work at my current place (because of the time off I've booked over Christmas).

The new job:
The new job starts a week later, as an Information Officer. Not strictly a library job, I'll be spending my time maintaining their databases, making content changes to their website, doing the computer back-ups and helping with mail-outs of information material to branches all over the country.

The best parts of the new job are:
1) it's twenty hours a week, which means I can finish my MLIS sooner and still have free weekends (and I won't have to work weekends or evenings any more)
2) it's close to home so I can walk home from work in half an hour (and save about $30 in petrol money every week)
3) no more smelly people and messy children to be nice to

And the worst things about leaving the present job are:
1) no more blog posts about smelly patrons and messy children
2) feeling a little guilty about leaving because, due to Christmas and New Year coming right up, my employers have little time to get a replacement
3) knowing that my team mates will have to pick up the slack and take over the bus-driving duties

I was so relieved to finally be able to tell my boss - I'd accepted the job offer last week but we only had on paper and signed this morning - now I get to blab about this to everyone.

Come back in ten hours

I'll have big news (big for me anyway).

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

going over the line

We had a little glass-painting session this morning, for kids on the summer reading programme. Outlines of sea creatures, pirates and ships were already outlined in black acrylic paint, on the external windows of the children's area - all the kids had to do was pick a colour and paint within the outlines. It was all going swimmingly well, with us adult supervisors possibly having more fun than the kids were (yes, we had a go too).

A well-sized two-year-old, whose sisters were hard at work on a penguin and a pirate respectively, also got in on the act. At this point I have to add that two-year-olds probably don't even have a concept of what a line is, let alone the idea of putting blobs of bright colour within designated areas.

Our unofficial children's librarian let him have his way with the orange paint, all praise and encouragement as his loaded brush went in all directions. I actually couldn't watch - it might be the rule-obeying part of my personality, I dunno.

Should we wipe it off, and keep the window looking halfway attractive, or leave it on so that our budding action-painter has the satisfaction of seeing his work appreciated? I'm voting for the former.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Vanity - the eighth Deadly?

I had this idea several weeks ago to make an enormous Christmas card, from the library staff to the library patrons. Letting my mind wander outside the square it normally resides in, I imagined little photos of seasonally-dressed staff members as doors in an advent calender. Okay, that didn't happen.

But a couple of weeks ago the idea was resurrected, albeit simplified. That's why, over the past few days, I've been taking pictures of startled library folk wearing silly headgear (take your pick - Santa hat, antlers or mini-Santa figure).

Some people really had to be bullied into submission - one refused to ruin her fresh hairdo, another deleted several attempts until a suitably attractive picture was taken and two team leaders preferred to cover their faces with the props. One or two posed willingly but not smilingly. Even the women whom the camera loves (the bitches) were difficult.

I, on the other hand, absolutely knew from experience that I would look like I'd just finished a heavy physical workout after too little sleep. And had forgotton to bring some much-needed face powder. But you can bet that my well-oiled mug will be on that Chrissy card, and that I didn't bother to get re-takes...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

old white guys and young Asian women

The very thought of it creeps me out.

When I was an innocent undergraduate, living at home and therefore lacking in that famous student-style social life, I used to see this guy hanging around the library. He must've been about fifty, all white-haired and crinkly-skinned, though he assured me he was a bona fide student. I was a lonely wee soul in those days, so I chatted to him whenever I saw him. He never asked me out, thank gawd, but later on I found out that he made a habit of selectively chatting to the younger female Asian students. Years later, when I was working, I found out from a Chinese guy friend that his younger sister actually lived with that old guy for a while.

And now it seems I have an old-white-guy stalker. I take my mum to the open-air produce market every Sunday morning, and I keep seeing this one guy looking at me. I spoke to him once - he started a conversation and my customer service habit made it impossible for me not to reply - and ever since then, I'd spot him noticing me. He'd wind his way around the fruit and vege crates to get to where I was standing, while I'd pretend not to see him as I wandered in the opposite direction.

It just reminds me of that time I was in Thailand, when I was walking behind a tall, middle-aged white guy holding hands with a very young-looking Thai girl (us Asians look young for our age, I know - but even so, she can't have been more than twelve).
I hoped like crazy that he was just a friend of her parents', taking her out for a platonic ice-cream...

The origins of "dooce"

Thanks bizgirl, for showing me the way to the answer to that difficult question "What is the origin of the word dooce?". Dooce was the nickname of the first known blogger to get fired for blogging about work. It was her nickname because she kept mistyping dude in her emails.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Seven Deadly Sins - ish

I’m a bit of a sinner. Fortunately I’m agnostic, so I can rest easy knowing that I’m not going to spend my afterlife in some nasty, sulphurous inferno – ‘cos there is no afterlife and no inferno. What follows is going to be my own take on the Seven Deadlies, as I feel about them right now. Feel free to tell me your own.

It must be Spring, because – apart from the four-seasons-in-one-day weather we’ve been experiencing – the boy has been rather frisky lately; it’s like when we first moved in together.

Someone gave me a Whitcoulls discount voucher on Thursday, which runs out tomorrow (Sunday). I don’t need to get anything from there – only last weekend I bought myself a copy of Trinny and Susannah’s What You Wear Can Change Your Life. Yet I spent an hour in the shop looking for something to save 25% on.

Gluttony: I love food. It must be part of being Cantonese, since the culture uses the giving and eating of food to symbolise love, respect and prosperity, among other things. One reason I gave up running was because the activity has to be preceded by two full hours in which you mustn’t eat anything at all. Also, my diet doesn’t match my ethical ideals; I’d be vegetarian but I really, really like eating meat.

All my life, I’ve envied people for being taller, thinner, prettier, richer, more easy-going, more popular, more intelligent or happier than me. But that doesn’t mean I’d willingly swap my life for somebody else’s. There are aspects of my life which are really good and which I worked hard for.

Sloth: The need to do less has been the driving force of my last five years. The fact that I’ve ended up in a full-time job which is 45-50 minutes drive from home, and spend ten hours a week studying for a library degree, may lead you to believe I’m a workaholic. I’m not – I just lost my real focus when I found my career focus.

Pride: Last year I did a course with the Open Polytech (using Open University materials), and I mostly got A’s. This year I started my MLIS and seemed to doing really well still. I was damned proud of myself. And then came the fall. I’m a poor book Historian.

Anger: Little things make me angry – people leaving rubbish all over the library, knowing someone else will tidy up; having to breathe someone else’s tobacco smoke; having to drive with the sun in my eyes or behind a slow-coach driver. Big stuff makes me even angrier – people thinking its okay to treat other people like shit; people being cruel to animals; stupid political decisions.

Friday, December 10, 2004

What's your Chinese mythological being?

Xuan Wu ~ Turtle
You are Xuan Wu!

Mythological background: Because the turtle has a
thick, solid shell that serves as protection -
this animal is associated with stability. You
enjoy intellectual pursuits.
Also, in Feng Shui (the Chinese myths behind
choosing a house), the black turtle's solidity
is used to protect from cold northern winds.

Which Chinese Mythological Being Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

A turtle, huh? Turtle tastes like beef (just being Cantonese).

Thursday, December 09, 2004

What's that word for it?

There's a word for it, but I can't remember what it is. It's when you get disciplined by your employer for blogging about your job, on the job. It hasn't happened to me yet, but we all got an email today about appropriate use of the Internet in work time.

Time on the Information Desk, when it's quiet, is the best time to check out blogs, TradeMe and anything else interesting on the 'Net. But our manager says that "they" can tell who's been surfing for non-work purposes and how much time we're spending doing it. That means I've got to somehow fit the recreational 'Net surfing into my lunch hour - time better spent eating lunch, reading or sitting in the sun. (Okay, I suppose I can just wait till I get home.)

Apparently "they" will audit staff members with high Internet usage, and one of my workmates has already been slapped on the wrist. I hope all those librarian blogs I read aren't mistaken for personal sites! (gasp!)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

In a time-warp

At one of the old-folks homes where I parked the library bus today, an elderly woman came on board looking ever-so-slightly intense. She opened her mouth to speak. I leaned forward to hear her. "Could you please help me get in touch with my parents?". Only twenty minutes before I'd promised to find a book on dowsing for another library patron, so I assumed this lady was interested in communicating with the spirit world.

So I asked her whether she meant séances and stuff like that. Nope. It turned out she really wanted to let her parents know where she was staying. Assuming she didn't have Nừmenorian ancestry, I assumed she must be having that "second childhood" I've heard about regarding oldies. So I gave her a bit of paper to write down her parents' names and phone number, promising to let them know. It's just good customer service, eh?

Hooked online and sunk

What disappointment I felt when I got home yesterday to be told that our friendly ISP and cable company had experienced some sort of power outage, meaning that both our television reception and our internet were out of action. I'd been all ready to get home and blog my heart out; now I had to make do with Angel DVDs (okay, it wasn't that bad really). It just goes to show how much I depend on my cyber-jollies...

So I got my grade on that assignment
I shouldn't have been too surprised. After all, this course has a reputation for tough marking and a heavy workload. Plus, I knew that my presentation stank like a thousand-year-old egg in last week's rice gruel. All the same, it was a shock to see that symbol, C+, right under my name. It was just as well that my annotated bibliography, the other half of the assignment, scored a little better; the overall grade was almost respectable. All afternoon I felt a little sick in my stomach, and it wasn't due to the dust blown up from the super-powered fans drying out the library's carpet. I was just getting used to getting As and Bs, that's all.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A Big Fat Turkey

I had a few Flybuys points, the result of dedicated credit card use, so I was ripe for reward-picking. Although the big push for using such a loyalty card is that you can get cheap or free flights, I've never used it this way. In the past I've gotten free movie passes, magazine subscriptions and even a dinner set. And now we have a size 5 frozen turkey.

Did you know that a size 5 turkey is about ten times as large as a size 5 chicken? I certainly didn't. I'm not sure our oven is big enough to cook it.

But - why?

Here's an explicitly-illustrated article on how to give your rat an enema. At the end, there are pictures to show you the poos which should result from your tender lovin' labours. (Found at memepool.)

Books Ahoy!

Books Ahoy happens to be the name of our library's Summer Reading Programme, but that's not what I'm going to write about here. We have an aluminium dinghy in front of the circulation desk to go with the SRP theme, but this morning it could have been useful - because overnight, there was a bit of a flood at the library.

The storm over the twenty four hours which ended early this morning, was pretty powerful - gusts of over 100km/hr and plenty of precipitation to go with it. It meant that my relatives' last day in town would be spent indoors, cooking and dozing. Fortunately for me, the roof has held tight over several storms including this one; the weather was an opportunity to snuggle down and feel safe, not a scene from a disaster movie.

In a typical move from the weather gods, the cyclone-ish conditions of the weekend have died down and it's currently lovely and sunny. I'm now back at work of course.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

How's it hanging?

I read an interesting article today about a survey of German men buying condoms in the wrong size. It says that most men don't bother to measure themselves first, and just get the Extra Large size - no surprises there. The surprise is towards the end of the article, when it quotes these statistics:

"only 18 per cent wore the right size, with nearly half squeezing into condoms that were too small and 34 per cent trying to use those that were too big."

Surely this means that, far from overestimating the sizes of their respective tackle, a large proportion were in fact underestimating themselves...

Another restaurant fight - torn between two elders

Last night we all went out for dinner again - nine adults and 2 kiddies. One of my aunts had already explained to me that she was going to pay for dinner; she assured me that it was expected, and made it clear that neither my brother nor I were supposed to give her any opposition.

My mum took me aside shortly after, to tell me that - at all costs - I was not to let my aunt pay for dinner. I was to pretend to go along with it, then openly disobey my aunt's wishes by throwing down my credit card just in time.

Shortly after that, my uncle whispered in my ear that it had been agreed among himself, my aunt and my mother, that he and my aunt would pay for dinner. Getting in their way would earn his displeasure.

Figuring that my aunts and uncle will be gone in a couple of days, but my mum will be around to nag me indefinitely, I knew which path to take.

It came down to my uncle sneaking off, ostensibly to use the men's room; my realisation that the men's room was in the other direction and that the race must surely be on; and crawling around three other diners to catch up. I succeeded in waving down the manageress before my uncle did, but not before he'd grabbed my arm and told me how disappointed he was. He was very convincing - I felt really guilty for not let him get his way - but luckily my brother was just there to keep me on track. With my free hand, I threw my Visa down and blocked my uncle's handfuls of bills. I countered his expressions of indignations with my only defense - that I was only following orders.

The only thing missing from this all-Chinese show of hospitality was the Cantonese shouting match.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Party of Nerds *

The boy's work Christmas function was really fun, but first I had to sit politely through about an hour of in-jokes and Geek-of-the-year presentations. Modelled on the Academy Awards, the trophies were little gold-painted Barbie ripoffs from the Two Dollar Shop. A nice touch, I thought.

Thankfully, it wasn't that long before the buffet was served. Having learned from past experience, I knew this time not to fill my plate up too soon. (Last time I did this, I ended up layering portions of hot food on top of the salads and cold meats. I don't know who was more embarrassed for me - me or my boy. Mind you, I would've been even more embarrassed if I had been seen to finish it all.)

On the way I commiserated with a couple of other IT-wives, about the frozen smiles during the no-doubt hilarious tales of the programmer who had to do a major hack whilst stoned or whatever (I'm not sure, I think I was dozing when they told that one). I was a wee bit jealous of the female employees, who were not only model-thin but clearly had salaries which enabled them to buy actual designer clothing.

One IT-wife I chatted with is in marketing/communications. I mentioned my interest in writing, she mentioned how hard it is to find copywriters in this country. She told me to send her samples of brochures I'd written for the library. I had a vision of her reading my work, and of my credibility disappearing with every word. Best to keep it as just a dream for now, methinks.

* They're mostly nice blokes actually. Especially J., who really is quite nerdy but took the trouble to learn to dance because everyone knows it increases a guy's attractiveness factor enormously.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I'm with yer boss

I'm going to the boy's work Christmas function tonight. It's a costume dress-up affair, and the boy can't wait to get his pirate costume. He's going as Captain Jack Sparrow, otherwise known as Johnny Depp - this is either because he wants an excuse to get really drunk ("I'm in character!"), or because he believes I have a crush on Johnny Depp (I don't - believe it or not, I just like his choice in movies).

Being a much less photogenic sort, I've declined the opportunity to pretend to be someone famous, tall and glamourous - I'm going as myself but more expensively-dressed than usual. Probably in trousers too.

In the boy's past work functions, I'd be talking to one of the staff and when I casually mentioned who my date was, that person would find an excuse to leave and mingle with someone else. Apparently it's because the boy is an extra-scary senior manager and no-one wants to be accused to trying to chat up his woman. Well, that's what he tells me anyway.

Last Christmas it was a barbeque the boy ate a bad sausage and missed the gastranomic delights of home-cooked festive meals for over two weeks. I hope he's more fortunate this year.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

You must be mistaken

For some reason, the elderly are much more likely to think I'm not from New Zealand, despite my assertive Kiwi accent, than other people.

Just yesterday, an otherwise-lovely senior citizen asked me what I had planned for the Christmas period - would I be going home to China for the holiday?

I gave her a blank look, but she didn't get the hint. I tried something more blatant, like telling her I was born here; moreover, so was my older brother, and my mum has been in New Zealand for over fifty years (much longer than your average skin-head).

Every now and then I get someone (with no ill intentions, mind) referring to me as "you people". It always turns into a monologue about how much they like Chinese food.

Just as well those people don't matter.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Oh, rigid am I ?

This quiz was kinda appropriate, since I just spent the last four weeks researching an assignment on the type and type design of a book called The Kama Sutra for Cats.

Roman Capitals
Roman Capitals- You have a proud and noble bearing,
and are of ancient pedigree, but you tend to be
very rigid and set in your ways.

What Calligraphy Hand Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Found at Meme Freak

Bah Humbug

Grumpiness is not an unusual mood for me, and if you've been hanging around either myself or this blog for a little while you'll know this is true. Well, I'm grumpy right now and here's why:

The folks at Mr Tran's, the sandwich shop near my work, made me a filled rolled with Cantonese-style barbeque pork filling. Yummy Chinese-y food. Why on earth then, did they feel compelled to add raw tomato, hard-boiled egg and grated cheese to the filling? Grated cheese and barbeque pork??

Another case of a mis-placed Asian ingredient - the library bus was parked outside an old-folks' home when I went in to return some things of theirs. On the way out, I noticed an elderly Asian woman - obviously a non-English speaker because of her age, her old-fashioned bob, her village-style clothes and the fact she was set apart from everyone else - sitting in the common room. She looked lonely and out of place in that way that someone does when they are surrounded by strangers. It made me really sad.

It was a lovely hot day today. It was certainly the wrong day to forget to take my water bottle onto the bus with me.

The drive home was hot too. As my car has no air-con, I have to wind the window right down and turn the fan right up. This has unpleasant results when the vehicle in front of me is spewing nasty, smelly diesel fumes.

I thought I'd drive to the pool in town today, instead of the one just past my house. Unfortunately, everyone in the city decided to drive to the same part of town. I couldn't get a park when I got there, and still took half and hour to get out of there.

When I got home, I still had to do the washing up before the boy would cook for me.