Tag: hi blog readers

I’m not an idiot but…

I’m not an idiot but I’ve ‘failed’ the Australian passport interview twice now.

The first time, I didn’t bring my birth certificate. There’s small print on the form saying that if my Citizenship papers don’t have my place of birth and sex on it, then I need a birth certificate (and if the birth certificate isn’t in English, then it needs to be officially translated).

Today, I was knocked back straight away for having my form printed double-sided. Now this really annoyed me. Why didn’t the first interviewer tell me this? Why doesn’t it say on the form to print single sided?

Two other missteps averted: again in small print on the form, you have to bring photocopies of some (but not all) your original certificates. Also, your passport photo can’t have shadows. So I went to Officeworks to get photocopies and redid my passport photos on the weekend.

So. Why is the process for getting a new passport so hard? Unnecessarily hard, is my view.

Twitter experiment

Do you use Twitter? How do you use it?

A lot of people talk about it so I tried for a month. I read some guides then started posting every day.

I went a networking event to ‘live tweet’ and got some new followers that way.

After one month of having a good go at it, I’ve decided that it’s not for me right now.

It’s been fantastic, getting a constant stream of news, ideas and links about my clients, my industry, my interests. It’s also very gratifying to get followers you respect and have never met.

Spending attention on Twitter meant I strayed from my previous information diet of emails, podcasts, blogs, newspapers. I missed that so I’ve decided to go back to it.

My information diet somehow more manageable if it doesn’t come to me in an easy-to-digest form like the Twitter stream. Perhaps it’s like choosing to eat wholemeal bread.

What I have learned:

  • If you have a distinction between your ‘professional’ self and ‘personal’ self, Twitter is ideal for the professional one. However, it seems that more and more people don’t distinguish between those two personas.
  • Don’t follow The Age unless you’re disciplined enough not to click on every link (it’s all interesting). Same goes with other news websites, I suspect.
  • Definitely ‘live tweet’ at events. It’s a great way to get people coming up to meet you.
  • Think about using Twitter if you don’t already have an established routine of following industry news. Twitter is an all-encompassing information channel.

I think I’ll use Twitter occasionally but I’ve uninstalled the app from my phone. No more tempting bright blue bird.

Off line

Hi everyone,

I’ve been on a blogging and email break because I’m minimising computer time for a while.

I have been chocolate free for almost four weeks. My workmate, Jessen, came back from Switzerland with a giant cylinder of my favourite chocolate — Lindt balls. My team mates gorged on chocolate, while I huddled at my desk. I almost caved in at one point. This was the biggest test I could ever face — two solid days of people eating my favourite chocolate within one metre of me.

I did take a single ball and lock it in my drawer. When I get to one month, I will eat it.

In other news, out of curiosity, I looked for the earliest calendar entry in my Palm Tungsten C. I went back to 2005, then 2004. Much to my surprise, 2004 was full of meetings and events. I had to go back to 8 October 2003 to get my first calendar entry. WOW! I’ve had my PDA for five years! I am amazed that the thing has held up for as long as it has — and that I’ve stuck with it.

A new year

Hobbies by the wayside
I’ve become rusty at blogging, diary writing, taking photos and writing social emails. The time I used to spend doing those things is now spent:

a) commuting
b) cooking
c) working
d) hanging out with Damjan
e) relaxing
f) going to the gym

I would like to keep up blogging, diarying, taking photos and emailing. I guess I’ll have to find ways to make other parts of my life more efficient so that I can do what’s important to me.

This week might be a difficult one. I have a rather important report to write by the end of the week. I can do it but the amount of writing that needs to be done might mean late nights in the office. The only bad thing about this, really, is that it threatens my fledgling exercise routine.

Going to the gym
I’ve joined gyms before and have fallen off the bandwagon after a few months. This year, I’m going to try to go to the gym at least three times a week. Without a routine, I stop exercising. This makes me feel guilty.

I’m enjoying the gym, actually. It’s a good way to relax and not think about very much. The only negative is that I end up having dinner at 9 PM, which is quite late.

So that I can come home and eat dinner immediately, usually I cook a big batch of food on the weekend. Last week, I made ‘Ants climbing up trees‘. This week, Damjan and I made a noodle soup. It is definitely convenient to have dinner already made but by the end of the week, I am usually sick of it.

Wireless bus

I’ve been living in an apartment in London, which doesn’t have the internet. I am on a coach now, which does have the internet, hence this blog post!

I got to London last Saturday and checked into an apartment that my company rented for me. Damjan and I promptly went off to see Avenue Q, a very funny, rather shocking puppet musical. It’s fantastic. Go see it if you have the chance.

Damjan left on Sunday and I began my permanent-house-hunt. Even though I could live in my rented apartment for two weeks, I wanted to sort out a proper home as soon as I could. Finding a place in London can be tough.

I went to an internet cafe, trawled through websites and downloaded more than 50 house share ads. Then I went back to my internetless apartment and read through the ads properly. Of the 50+ ads, about 10 were in areas I wanted to live and within my price range. Four of them had the right ‘vibe’ so I called them up.

Immediately, two people said that I could visit them this evening. I hesitated.

‘Yes, I’m free tonight. I can come by but you have to give me really clear instructions on how to get there. I don’t have a map or the internet at the moment.’

‘No problem,’ they assured me.

In the next episode of Coconut Joan, you will read about me getting lost, meeting the flatmate from close-to-hell, and getting voted into the house, reality TV style. Stay tuned.

Seven weeks

I am flying back to the UK on Thursday. My visa finally came through.

I’ve had seven weeks at home and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was four more weeks than I planned.

I don’t really know what else to say.

There’s lots I could say. Today, I upgraded the driver for my parents’ laptop’s card reader. It screwed things up so I spent a few hours finding new drivers for other bits and pieces.

I’ve baked a lot in the past seven weeks. Banana and walnut cake was my last effort. I’ve helped mum and dad with their new hobby of dancing. I’m really happy that they’re dancing now. They’ve been talking about it for a while.

Every couple of days, I walk 10 km — to the local park and back. There’s a nice lake there. Once, I walked for longer than I had planned so I bought a roast vegetable sandwich at the park café and had a mini-picnic.

I should have written in my blog more but there aren’t many interesting stories when I’m mostly by myself.

I will need to find a place to live in London. I’m looking forward to meeting new people. I usually quite like first meetings. Sometimes, I don’t have the energy for it but I’ve built up a large reserve in my seven weeks of rest.

Moving on

Yesterday, I handed in my dissertation. I’m happy with it. The thing I worried most about my research (and all my work at uni and as a consultant) is that I’ll write a report that says nothing new or useful, and that it will sit on a shelf somewhere gathering dust. I am, however, happy that I’ve said something interesting. Enough people have read it that I think that it might even be useful. So I have achieved everything I want from this year.

I said goodbyes. Many of those goodbyes were final. I’ve never said so many final goodbyes before. It was a strange, sad feeling.

After I gave in my work, Damjan and I packed up my room and much of the house. It took longer than I expected and I was frantic, worried it wouldn’t get done before we had to leave Cambridge. There were so many bits and pieces that I forgot I had — bank statements, chargers, computer warranties, souvenirs… But it all got done and as the taxi pulled up to the bus stop with two giant suitcases, a medium-giant backpack, a small backpack, and a shopping bag, my agitation melted away.

I am now at Damjan’s house with a cold but without any worries.

I will write again this week. Bye!

The web is your billboard

It took me about a year to figure out why I have a blog. I think of this as a mini magazine. It appeals mostly to people who I’ve met yet the writing should be interesting enough such that more people would read it if this was the only blog in the world.

Luckily, there is plenty of good writing on the web elsewhere.

I would like your thoughts on something. I am meeting more and more people with ‘public face’ websites. These websites have their real names, contact details, CVs, portfolios (art and writing), and so on.

This blog is a different beast. I don’t use surnames, company names, contact information, photos of people at private events, or any other identifiers. I’ve done some growing up here so it’s obviously not my public face. In fact, if you put my full name in quotes into Google, this blog is far, far down in the listings. I’m not even sure how Google connects my name to this blog, actually.

What I’d like your opinion on is:

  • Why do people have public internet faces? How do they use it?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a public face?
  • What rules should people follow about the information they put on their websites?

I have so much to say and I’ll burst if I don’t say it

I’ve got about ten blog posts in my head and I feel like I’m going to burst if I don’t put them down. I wish I could space them out so that you can read them at your leisure but I fear I’m going to lose a few of you with this current deluge of entries. Ah well. I guess this blog is as much for me as for you.

Yesterday, a friend who I call Dr Jason (to distinguish him from my brother Jason) came over and we went out to take photos of Cambridge. Cambridge is showing off at the moment. It’s saying, ‘Look at me! I’m so pretty, all these lovely people playing frisbee and having picnics, they like me and so should you.’

Mill Road Cemetery
I like taking photos at graveyards. The first four photos are from Mill Road Cemetery, a large, beautiful and artfully wild place. When my parents were here, they walked around town by themselves while I did my homework. They’re the ones who told me about this place.

I found I liked the angels the best of all the gravestones.

Is it disrespectful to be playing frisbee in a graveyard? This is a question obviously not troubling the dog.

There were surprisingly many people sunbathing in the graveyard. Dr Jason said, ‘What are they doing, lying there?’

I said, ‘Maybe they’re practicing.’

Egyptian Pharaohs were buried with camels so that they had transport in the next world. Vikings were buried with ships. Here in Cambridge, bicycles are the transport mode of choice.

Cows at Midsummer Common
After the mad cow disease breakout, cows were banned from grazing at Midsummer Common, a big green space just east of the town centre. The bans were just lifted and cows were celebrating, buffet-style.

Hey, stop making cow-eyes at my girl!

Watching all the cows go for the drinking trough, it suddenly dawned on me that they were herd animals. Where one goes, the others follow. Like sheep, really.

Mmm… oooooo.

Walking along the River Cam

No story behind this photo except that the webbing and the colour scheme made me think of Spider-Man, the movies. The third one is being released soon and ‘they’ say that it’s the best of the series. That’s a pretty tall order. The other two were good.

Like at Oxford, people live in canal boats. Who needs a backyard when you have a roof? Notice the pub in the background — ‘The Boathouse‘. How’s that for clever photographic composition? Applause, please, applause!

Modern art at Jesus College
Dr Jason, formerly of Jesus College, took me on a tour of his old stomping ground.

Jesus College’s gardens are full of modern art. I don’t know how modern this horse sculpture is, really. It does look nice with the wisteria in the background.

The final four photos are of the same twisty glass sculpture, post-processed in different ways. We think that despite being solid, the sculpture probably has something to do with DNA.

More soon

I’m back from Amsterdam and Paris but am very bogged down with work. I will entertain with just one photo. I took this one near Thirlmere, a lake in the Lakes District. The ‘whoosh’ effect is because I zoomed during a long shutter speed.

I’ll have some things to write about visiting The Continent (red light districts, hash pops, more crêpes). It was a lot of fun and I was sad to see my parents go through the gate at the airport.