Friday, December 30, 2005


I've just signed up for Secret Pal 7!

For those of you not in the know, it's kind of like a gift exchange, run over 3 months. This one is for people who knit and crochet.

For someone like me who loves giving and receiving presents, it's like a dream come true.

I've requested someone not in NZ in the hope that I will be able to send local things that will seem more interesting and exotic - and hopefully vice versa.

Yay, only a couple of weeks till we get matched up and all the fun begins!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Oh and...

I've finally decided on the job front.

(I had decided but recanted and then was undecided - all while I was away from my laptop, or I would have blogged about it.)

The agonies and dramas and general atmosphere make me miserable.

Hanging out for opportunities that may or may not materialise is silly.

So I'm looking for something new and better. Very quietly and confidentially (lucky only 2 people I actually know read this!), but I'm looking.


A belated Merry Xmas/ Happy Hanukkah/ Happy Kawanzaa to you all!

After many, many presents (photos to come), some good food (but not too much), some time with The Trouser, and some knitting (really, I will take and upload some pics soon), I'm back at work briefly before heading off for New Year's.

It's been a family bonanza Christmas this year. Both younger brothers came back to Auckland, and it was good to see them. The youngest is moving to Kuala Lumpur early next year, so it's good to see a little more of him before he takes off. He's my favourite, and I will really miss him being close-ish.

On 27 December The Trouser and I celebrated 5 years of being together. Funny how it seems like forever but then not so long after all. I remember before we were together, but it seems a bit unreal and distant; but at the same time I feel like we have so much more to do together and learn about each other.

On Friday we're going camping with a colleague of The Trouser's, near a beach. It is also coincidentally near the rather swish beach house (mansion is more like it) that my cousin owns. They've invited us to stay, and if the camping ground gets too rowdy we probably will. Though I'm not sure how restful it might be with 3 hyper kids and a new puppy!

We haven't been camping for ages, and while I'm not really into roughing it, I love camping with The Trouser. He gets a teensy bit macho and does lots of things on a gas burner, and I read books (and this year, knit) and get fed yummy treats, till he decides he needs coffee and we drive to the nearest town, where we mooch and buy trashy magazines.

I'm not a big New Year's fan - the pressure of doing something "exciting enough" kills me - so we're going low-key again. It's not everyone's idea of fun, but we like it. I hope that you'll be doing whatever floats your boat, too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Good therapy

The venting seems to have helped to calm me down and make the anger a bit less insane.


Meanwhile a very good friend from high school has come back to town. It's been a couple years since we've seen each other, and to celebrate we went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. His choice, and quite good, though I think inferior to the previous movies, due to what I consider ill-judged editorial decisions.

I'm getting excited about Christmas. Not the crazy running to events thing, but the presents and the chance to spend a bit more Trouser-and-Skirt time. Mostly the last, but I do love my presents :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

And while I'm at it...

Speaking of anger, I am still angry about what went down with The Trouser's sister and her husband when we saw them in NY in August.

Feeling quite angry generally at the moment, and i think probably a lot of it is due to this.

I haven't blogged about this before, so as briefly as I can - but including all the salient points, this situation is thus:

The engagement(s)
The sister got engaged after less than 6 months of dating this guy. They planned to get married quickly. It went kaput. Maybe 9 months later she gets engaged to the current husband, after dating less than 6 months.

We express concern over the haste, and note that as we'd already planned a trip to the US, we hope the wedding date will be a few months ahead.

They send an invitation to The Trouser only. No "and partner" etc. (Bear in mind here that the sister set us up in the first place.) The date? Less than 2 months away.

The Trouser communicates that we can't go. We hear nothing. We do send Christmas gifts, which are not acknowledged.

Post-wedding visit
Prior to the visit, the sister sends a couple of really nasty emails, aided by her charming husband. I am a nasty and manipulative person who is controlling The Trouser, which is why he didn't come to the wedding, etc. I have no right to have an opinion on anything in the family, as I am not part of said family (after 4 years). Yada yada, nasty venom.

The Trouser speaks to the sister and she apologises, but it feels a bit fake. We give them a nice wedding gift. We spend time together but it's awkward. The husband is controlling and the sister has become flakier. The husband tries to stir up trouble for the parents.

We travel to see relatives in Australia with them, and the husband continues to try to stir up trouble. He is especially nasty to me, and tries to make me feel left out.

Trip planning
We confirm dates with the sister & co before booking, as we are meant to stay with them in NYC.

6 weeks before we go, our offer of accommodation (made publicly to show how magnanimous they are) is rescinded. The cost of our trip rises by $1000 and I begin to regret agreeing to go to NYC.

The trip
The husband is rude and constantly picks us and our lifestyle (not being married and not being of a particular faith). The sister sits there.

The husband makes homophobic and racist comments. The sister joins in occasionally.

The sister makes mean comments to me - aimed at me - behind The Trouser's back. It is quite clear she no longer thinks I am "perfect" for The Trouser.

They call The Trouser's parents to tell them they "disapprove" of our relationship.

Later, they call and tell The Trouser's parents a lie about us.

Our engagement
We get engaged! We diud not tell them. The Trouser's parents don't either. We agree that they are not welcome at the wedding. I continue to feel angry, and helpless, because whatever I do or say is seen as interfering.

Ok, enough for a bit now. Thanks for letting me vent :-)


You know the crappy raise I got? Well that's it, baby.

True to form my boss fought my case well, but The Big Boss basically thinks I get plenty anyway. Right now I think The Big Boss is A Big Stingy Ass.

I don't like how the department runs (some people doing lots of work, others messing around very publicly but not being reprimanded; money spent on non-essentials so there's no cash for raises or unexpected essential activities; etc. ). And I am royally pissed off about how I've been treated.

I've been advised that I can speak to The Big Stingy Ass myself, but I'd rather not. It's a huge waste of my time - I already know the response.

So the way forward appears to be to stay here while I look for a great job elsewhere. I'm looking for something quite superb. It isn't perfect here by any stretch of the imagination, but I know it well and am fully in control, so the new job will have to be great.

I've never done a low-key search for a job before - it's always been desperate and fast. But I'm determined to learn.

Meanwhile I need to channel my anger.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Keeping busy

Yesterday was one of my busier days of late. In addition to a fairly full work day, I managed to have The Talk About the Non-Raise with my boss.

It went better than what I expected. The upshot of it all is that she will talk to The Big Boss, and see if we can get a handle on what a market rate salary range for the job is, with a view to paying me more. Even though there's no budget for it.

In more work news, it hit 30C at 3pm, so we upstairs went home. Yep, still no air conditioning. The new A/C unit is in, but not yet operational. It's the second time in a week that it's hit 30C - which is our unofficial "down tools" temperature. I was really, really annoyed when my mum gave me the big thermometer for Christmas one year, but it's been very handy at work these past few months.

So if you leave work early, you go shopping, right? Well, I tried to anyway. We finished our proper Christmas shopping a while ago, but I'm picking up a few treats for The Trouser (no details because he reads this!).

We have a set budget of $300 (because his water purifier, his main present, was about that much). I don't know what I want, and he is getting a bit frustrated I think.

Usually he does a magic thing where he buys stuff secretly and it's all amazing, but this year I've tried to be helpful. I've selected some underwear, a book, some knitting needles, but he needs more. I've scoured the shops for a fancy dress or cardigan or something, all to no avail.

So yesterday I went in search of a knitting book. I visited 4 stores and there was nothing even remotely covetable.

Fallback options include some Clover knitting needles (bamboo and apparently amazing), stitch markers and another row-counter (I have 2 but can have 3 projects going, so I need at least 3!). Or, as he suggested, this nifty little gadget. But will it just be a gadget, used initially and then consigned to a drawer? Mayber it would be helpful with wedding planning?

My dilemma is that I don't actually need anything, but I love opening gifts. A lot. And surprises, also a lot.

Suggestions, anyone?

In other knitting news, I've begun to sew up the baby blanket: 2 of the 8 strips so far. And it's cute! After all the work, it had better be...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Airports I've known

(and been afraid of)

Chicago's Midway Airport has the shortest runway I've ever heard of. It's also surrounded by houses and roads and people and stuff, so there's not a lot of room for error.

I've been informed that landing there requires use of emergency brakes. When we landed there in August, they sure did use them - you can really tell the difference. We stopped almost at the end of the runway, and I said a quiet thank you to the nice mechanics who maintained those brakes, and the pilot who applied them.

Not everyone's been so lucky though - landing in a snowstorm, a plane slid into the road, and ended up killing someone. They're damn lucky it was only one person.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Still thinking

No progress on the work front as of yet - but I've asked the boss for some time on Monday or Tuesday. I think she knows pretty much exactly what I'm going to say, and I have a fair idea of what she will say. The general gist of it might be something a little like this:

The Skirt: "Um, the pay rise is not really a good pay rise. It's less than 1%. I really love working here but it makes me feel that my good work is not valued."

The Boss: "Budgets are shrinking. Plus you got a pay rise 18 months ago and it was huge."

The Skirt: "Actually, The Big Boss was at pains to describe it as a "salary adjustment", not a pay rise at the time. And my responsibilities and workload have grown loads since then."

The Boss: "Look there's just no budget available. Plus you're getting someone to help woth your work."

The Skirt: "I'm always told that there's no budget available. It doesn't change the fact that I deserve a pay rise. And the new staff member is because the workload has grown - again, it doesn't change the fact that I deserve the pay rise."

The Boss: "I can ask The Big Boss but it's unlikely anything will change."

The Skirt: [sighs] "Yeah, I know. So, strictly off the record, what would you do?"

I'm not sure what The Boss would say in return. She is my greatest fan (ok, maybe not, that's The Trouser, but she is very positive about me), and in a different organisation would probably throw cash at me to keep me happy. We get along really well, and work well together.

I'm hoping she'll have some words of wisdom to impart. She is smart and has had a successful career and I know she'll have an interesting take on the situation. I just hope she's willing to go off the record to give me some much-needed advice.

The Big Boss is the real problem. My hunch is that he feels I'm being paid handsomely for the organisation and for my age. Both are true - but then, for the responsibilities, I am not, and really that is what counts. Still I think he's the problem, and although he doesn't want to lose me, he probably will unless he stops being so stingy.

On other matters, my baby blanket knitting is coming along nicely. I'm only 5 squares short of finishing, then after washing and blocking I only have to do the edging.

I finished the wrap - knitted in that godawful ribbon-y tape that slips off your needles at the slightest opportunity - and just need to tuck the ends in. I'll post pics once I find the digital camera again.

Moral of today's post: work sucks, but knitting doesn't.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


After 2 years' hard work and "consistently exceed[ing] expectations", I received my salary review yesterday.

I got a 0.079% raise.

Yes, you read correctly, that's <1%.

Frustrated beyond belief after all my hard work, and with the additional responsibilities steadily piling up (as they have over the past year or so), I ask myself: is it all really worth it when they give one of the department's top performers such a pitiful raise?

I have to talk to my boss about it and see what can be done, but I am seriously reconsidering my role here.

I'd get more for my skills in the open marketplace, but there are trade-offs from working here. However I do think the additional responsibilities do merit a decent raise.

It would be a pain to move jobs, plus we're planning the wedding (Feb-March '07 here we come!), and we've planned to move overseas after the wedding anyway. But I am kind of generally dissatisfied with a lot of things in my department that I know won't change, and the insulting "raise" has topped it all off.

So what would you do?

Stay, or go?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Even sadder

Tuong Van Nguyen messed up, but he doesn't deserve to die - and especially not by such a barbaric practice as hanging.

I'd thought about moving to Singapore before, but I seriously can't stomach the idea of living in a country that is so unforgiving. And for all your "progressive" anti-litter laws, what's up with hanging, the execution method from the dark ages?

Shame on you Singapore, you are a cruel country.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Stan Berenstain is dead.

A big part of my childhood was reading (some things never change!), and the Berenstain Bears were definitely some of my favourite characters.

Thanks for the memories, Stan!