Holey moley, Batman, two posts in one day….

A friend posted a question on facebook asking what you do when someone you don’t know sends a facebook friend request. She was concerned about offending someone she once knew but couldn’t remember if she didn’t accept their request. My response turned into a bit of a rant so I thought I’d post it here rather than as a reply to her post.

Ignore them. If you don’t know them, or don’t remember them, or just don’t want them on your friends list any more, then why should you be friends with them? Your facebook account is your facebook account. If someone knew you and really wanted to be friends with you, they’d include a note to remind you who they are and where you know them from with their friend request. There are plenty of other people out there who’d happily friend them.

I’m pretty ruthless when it comes to facebook. I have my security locked down tight (an ongoing battle with all the changes facebook makes). I don’t accept friend requests from anyone who’s name I don’t recognise and happily delete anyone who posts a lot of what I consider to be crap. If I change my mind and decide I don’t want you knowing anything about what I’m doing I’ll even block you so you can’t see anything that I post to anyone on facebook, even if you’re a friend of a friend.

I do pretty much the same to anyone who emails me jokes or cutesy pics or anything else I consider spam. I let them know just once that while I’d love to receive personal emails letting me know what they are doing with their lives, I am not interested in the junk mail; then if they do it again I blacklist them so their emails are treated as spam. I think it’s particularly offensive of people to send these types of emails in the workplace. And if anyone shares my email address with their friends when they send out group emails I let them know in no uncertain terms just what I think of people who give out other people’s email addresses without permission.

And the beat goes on…

There’s been plenty going on in the last couple of weeks.

Last Saturday we went to see Sting with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in his Symphonicity tour. The concert was held at Sandalford Winery in the Swan Valley and was fantastic. It was perfect weather and it’s a lovely venue for a concert. There was lots of music, there was even an intermission half way through the show. Sting sang everything you’d want him to sing and  his rapport with the audience quickly got us involved. We had reserved seats and could have done with a small cushion to sit on, but that minor discomfort was well and truly made up for by the entertainment. The worst part of the night was the 45 minutes in the log-jam waiting to get out of the car park. We’ve been to a concert at the winery before but parked in a different area and got away very quickly. This time we ended up stuck in the traffic in the furthest corner. We won’t do that again. Santana is playing at Sandalford in March and we have been trying to decide whether or not to go, but Stephen’s work travel plans are still not confirmed so we don’t want to book anything else just yet.

I’ve been plodding along getting my tutorials made up. At this stage I’m focusing on what clients are asking for and will gradually build up. I’m concentrating on the tutoring for older adults at the moment and will probably follow up on training groups when I have my resources ready. I’m not totally happy with the computer room that’s available to me. It would be perfect except that the computers are running Windows XP with Office 2003.  The price comparison that I’ve done so far makes the alternative less than palatable. The one alternative computer lab that I’ve investigated so far is at least five times the cost to rent.

The drawback to the type of tutoring I’m doing  is that it’s almost impossible to prepare materials and session plan because the learners often don’t really know what it is that they want or need to know. I’ve found that I also need to allow time for a cuppa and a chat. That will restrict the number of clients I can see in a day (particularly as there’s also travel to allow for) but I think it’s an important part of what I’m doing if I want multiple booking with the one client and if I want my business to spread by word-of-mouth. It’s also a good way to find out exactly what they want to learn.

I’ve made good progress with my Cert IV TAA upgrade. I still have to do a presentation and deliver some training to a class. I should get it out of the way before the end of Feb, I don’t have too much to organise. Then it’s apparently quite easy to get RPL for the upgrade to the newest qualification, Cert IV TAE.

The weather hasn’t been too hot in Perth for the past week or so, but is heating up again now. We’re back into the high 30’s again (up around 100F). We’ve been seeing a bit of the resident blue-tongue lizards. I think the live between us and next door. Stephen was tidying up down the side of the house to prepare for the new fence and he found a shed blue-tongue skin. Speaking of the fence, we finally have our new fence down one side of the house. It looks great, so much better than the old fences. If only they’d fall down too and we could get them replaced! Though it has been quite a drama and I don’t want to deal with it again too soon. There were really no disputes and real issues getting it done, it just took quite a few phone calls to the contractor asking when it would be done. I was starting to think we should have selected a different contractor, but it’s all finished now and they did a good job, so we’re happy. Now when the wind is blowing we don’t  listen to the sound of the fence moving and creaking and wondering if it will still be standing when next we go outside.

The garden is looking great, but we’re a bit worried about some of the holes the dogs have dug under them. On the hot days they like to dig a hole in the cool shaded dirt to lay in. The trouble with that is that we’re worried that some of the shrubs are being undermined. There’s some distinct damage caused by trampling when they chase each other through, but it’s their yard too and it really is a good garden for dogs. This weekend we’ll probably try to get some soil and top up some of the holes. I’ve also ordered some mulch from MulchNet so that should be here by the weekend. I got an email to say a contractor has picked up the job so I’m just waiting for a phone call.

Yesterday was Australia Day and a public holiday. We spent it quietly at home. Stephen did quite a bit around the yard, putting things back in place after the removal and installation of the fence. Kaz just laid around and dozed for most of the day, as she does, after an initial bout of vigourous play with Anzac. With Anzac you only need to add water and you’ve got fun!

Dog-paddling on Australia Day

Notice how he gets out to watch the water running along the grooves between the pavers!

Oh…and I almost forgot to mention the bread.

The sliced bread we like to buy was on sale so we bought a couple of loaves last week. We don’t eat much bread so when we get it home it usually goes straight into the freezer. This time we put one loaf in the freezer and left the other out so we’d have fresh bread for lunch. Then we decided to duck out to buy something at another shop. When we got home there was just a little piece of plastic bag on the floor – and no sign of the bread. The rest of the shredded bag was in the back yard. No sign of the bread. You’d think that after ten years of living with Kaz we’d know better than to leave food anywhere within her reach when we go out. She has a particular fondness for bread. She never takes anything when we’re home, but you have no idea how many loaves of bread we’ve lost in the last ten years!

Dragon’s Ring by Dave Freer

I’ve been following Dave Freer’s blog, Flinders Family Freer for about 18 months. Now I’ve added a Dave Freer book to my bookshelf. It wasn’t a simple thing to do. I’ve never seen one of his books in a bookshop and I had to order this one in.

Dragon's Ring by Dave Freer

Dragon's Ring by Dave Freer

Dragon’s Ring isn’t epic fantasy but it’s a thouroughly enjoyable yarn.

We have Tasmarin and it’s falling apart.

We have dragons, and they are the rulers of Tasmarin. This is a story about dragons. Some are good, some aren’t. One of those dragons, Fionn the black dragon, intends to destoy Tasmarin.

We have other beings of a variety of races, some of which have their own plans and magics.

We have humans, amongst whom there are no longer any mages. The dragons destroyed all the human mages in times past; or thought they did.

A human mage has appeared. No-one knows where she came from and she has no idea that she has any magic.

There’s a group that plans to work a mighty spell to save Tasmarin. This group is made up of a member of each race – except humans. They need the human mage; they plan to use her for their own ends and then destroy her – if they can find her.

A travelling gleeman finds the young mage before the cabal does. She travels accross the land with him, but soon realises that all is not what it seems, that the gleeman is not what he seems.

From the the blurb on the back of the book: ” Chaos, roguery, heroism, theft, love, kidnapping, magic and war follow. And more chaos.”

I found the first two or three chapters of this book quite confusing. I couldn’t work out just what was going on. I couldn’t work out who was who and who was what. The cast of characters is at the front of the book. The glossary is at the back. I found it quite a nuisance for them not to be together. I kept going from front to back to try to figure things out. The glossary didn’t really seems to help me anyway. I like to refer to the glossary. And there’s no map. I like a map. I like that visual representation of the relashionship between places.

It took me a little while to get everything straight in my head, but  when I just let it go and enjoyed the story everything seemed to fall into place and oh boy! What a story. It’s fast-paced, action-packed and came to an end all-too-soon.

There are the good guys and the bad guy, but are the good guys really good guys? And is the bad guy really a bad guy? All too soon it’s clear that nothing is certain. Except for the human mage. It’s easy to like her, though at first it’s not easy to reconcile her behaviour with that of a young woman of 17. She starts off as very childish but grows in strength and character as she comes into her own and finally realises that the magic she sees around her is actually her own.

Yes, there’s war and chaos, love and magic and all of those things. Some of the dragons are nice and some aren’t. There are dragons eating other dragons, and dragons eating humans.  Some from the other races are nice and some aren’t. There are beings turned to stone or disintegrated. There’s vanity and there’s deception. And there’s a sheepdog! Who wouldn’t love a loyal, cuddly sheepdog?

There’s no knowing just how this story is going to end until it actually ends. And it’s a bittersweet ending when it comes.

Will I read another Dave Freer book? Absolutely! I can’t wait for the next one to come out!

Book reviews

I’ve never been one to write book reviews. It’s something I’ve never really been interested in doing. This year I’ve decided to write a short review of each book that I read. It will only be a short review. A brief synopsis and my opinion of the book. I want to try to avoid spoilers so my reviews won’t be too detailed.

Watch out for my first ever book review…coming soon!

Bang…oooh…ahhh…smile…

Okay… I have a little bit different take on this. And I’m still undecided. Let me know what your thoughts are.

Lots of people are posting this on their facebook status: “Fireworks costs millions. Let’s have a firework free Australia day and donate the money to the QLD families to rebuild their lives.”

First of all I think it’s a fantastic sentiment, except that I’d change it from QLD families to all Australian flood affected families. QLD, NSW, Vic, Tas, SA, WA have all been affected by floods (I don’t know about the NT and ACT).

My mum hates fireworks. Every New Year she complains about the money wasted on fireworks, specially in cities like Sydney. This year when she complained, my immediate response was…”yes, they could have donated that money to the flood affected families in QLD”. And that was before the Toowoomba/Brisbane and points south disasters. But the more I think about the whole fireworks thing, the more I see that there’s another side to the coin.

These big fireworks displays draw a huge number of people in to the cities that put them on. They make people feel good. And when people are drawn to one place and feel good, they spend money. I’m not so sure that the money would be spent on the fireworks if the return wasn’t there for the economy. Yes, donate to the flood appeals. Most definitely. Here’s a link to the Red Cross Australia website so you can easily donate to their Disaster Relief and Recovery – Australia appeal. But also keep your local economies thriving. There are a lot of local economies that need a great deal of help, a lot of business that need people to be spending, and a lot of people that need something to feel good about.

The flood affected families need our help and so do the flood affected businesses. Maybe in a few weeks these flood affected towns could do with some fireworks to draw people in, to get people spending, to give people something to feel good about, something that will make them point and say oooh…ahhh and smile

Garden, lizards and business…

I’m a bit behind on my daily posts. I’m thinking that perhaps I shouldn’t have committed myself to daily.

Over the last couple of days I’ve started to feel a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of my venture into the world of training. While it’s not very big in the grand scheme of business ventures, it’s a huge thing for me. Thoughts of getting my manuals printed, my inability to find some office supplies and furniture that I want and a call from the insurance advisor conspired to get to me. But no, all is well and it’s not so difficult at all; I was just having ‘one of those days’. Of course if I want to develop my own training materials, I’m going to have to get them printed. That’s no bigger job than ordering pre-printed manuals. Why is it that it seemed bigger than the actual development of the resources? The office supplies are a small thing, and the insurance issue should easily be solved by wording things a little differently. Thanks to a long chat with a good friend everything looks clearer again.

Speaking of insurance, we received a cheque in the mail from AAMI for our share of the fence, made out to us as a cash payment so we can pay the fencer whenever the job is complete. AAMI have been so easy for us to work with. We’ve been with them for a little over a year now and we’ve made two claims. Both have been easy to settle with no questions asked and only the slight hicough when they thought we hadn’t renewed with them. That question was solved by them before I could even look up the payment details myself. Now, hopefully I’ll hear from the contractor in the next couple of days with a start date.

I’ve now sent off my application for registration of a business name and I’ve paid for the first semester of  my Graduate Diploma of Information Design. I’m committed to both I now have to stop procrastinating with my TAA upgrade and get that out of the way. I don’t think the projects that I’ve been set are all quite as necessary as I’ve been led to believe. I’ll look back through the materials that I have on hand from when I used to do computer training in Jabiru and see what I can come up with to cover as many of the requirements as possible and next week I’ll put my head down and get as much of the rest out of the way as I can.

Now on to more interesting things.

I’ve been looking for a new pair of sandals, something comfortable, casual but a bit nicer looking than my old Birkenstocks. I found a very comfortable pair of El Naturalista sandals on sale and snapped them up.

El naturalista Ikebana Cuero

El Naturalista Ikebana Cuero

The garden has shown it’s pleasure at the cooler weather and the little bit of rain we had through the week. There are lots of buds on the roses.

Pruning roses

Pruning roses

The pink flowering gum has been covered in buds and they’ve started to open.

Corymbia ficifolia (summer beauty)

Corymbia ficifolia (summer beauty)

The white plume grevillea (smelly socks) has also made a last show with a few small flowers. It’s looking quite fabulous with it’s tall canes and popped seed pods.

White Plume Grevillea (smelly socks)

White Plume Grevillea (smelly socks)

The birds are loving the height and the other grevilleas that are currently in flower. We’re currently seeing a lot of New Holland Honeyeaters and a variety of other honeyeaters. There are lots of parrots around at the moment but we rarely get any of those in our garden. So far we haven’t seen any Black Cockatoos in the garden, we did have a couple come in for a drink at one of the birdbaths last year.

We did have a visitor to the yard today. Anzac made it obvious that there was something attracting his attention. He barked a couple of times but was mainly focussed on something in the bushes. It turned out to be another blue-tongued (shingleback or stumpy-tailed) lizard. This one wasn’t as pretty as the Christmas Day visitor, but looked just as healthy.

Blue tongued lizard

Blue tongued lizard

We finished the day with a very windy walk along the Burns Beach pathway.  The water was pretty rough with lots of lines and white caps. Our walk would have been nicer without the wind, but was enjoyable anyway.

Out walking

Out walking

Kaz

Kaz

Anzac in the sandpit

Anzac in the sandpit

Business essentials and raindrops…

We’ve had some lovely rain today.  It’s brought the temperature down and made the garden and the birds very happy! And most of the residents of the Perth area as well, I’m sure.

I spent this morning researching topics to put into my Intro to Computers course. I want to put together a set of modules so that I can easily tailor the course depending on the learners needs.I also looked into the Information and Communications Training package to see which units I think I’ll be able to incorporate into the course. There are a couple of options there.

Then I looked into options for business cards. I went to OfficeWorks and priced cards that I can print myself. $50 for 200 269gsm cards, plus the cost of ink and the time it would take to print them myself. And then would I end up with a professional looking product? I don’t think so. 260gsm seems to be the heaviest weight card you can get to go through the inkjet printer. A professional printer would probably print on 360gsm card. Quite a difference; and quite a difference in finished product. I priced having them done at a printer. I can get them done for $99 for 1000 cards, plus GST and the cost of artwork which will probably be about $50. All depending on how fancy I want to get – not so fancy at all.

I also emailed our accountant for some advice, and spent some time on the ATO website looking at information on starting a small business, paticularly on record keeping. There’s a good guide to record keeping that the ATO puts out for small business.

Still a lot of work to be done, but it’s keeping me busy and out of trouble.

Right click, left click…

My New Moon Eclipse horoscope, by Kim Falconer, today said:

The New Moon Eclipse is all about creating a powerful new intention for the upcoming year and you ‘eclipse’ is happening in your 10th house of career and public image. If you ever thought you could vision your dream-come-true occupation, now is the time. You could fly to the moon with this energy. Get up and go for it!

Wow!

I received an email from the Community Development Officer at one of the local councils. He wanted to discuss my ideas for hiring their computer lab and offering computer classes that would complement the basic classes that they already run. I went over and met with him. He was very enthusiastic and encouraging and is certain that there’s a big demand for the types of courses I want to offer. I’ve offered to do some volunteer training for them and he’s offered to work with me however he can to support my business. He sees it as part of his community development role to offer his community options that the council can’t actually provide by linking with a provider who can offer those options.

Their computer room is bright and airy and the hire is very reasonably priced.

Now I need to put together my bread-and-butter course. I’m going to start this slowly and make sure I get every stage as right as I can before moving on to the next. I also need to set up all my business stuff – business name, insurance, business cards and brochures. I also want to sit the MS Word exam that I’m eligible to sit thanks to the course that got me moving in this direction.

There’s learning  to be found in every experience and there can be good outcomes from even negative experiences.

Dog paddling…

All of Anzac’s dog paddling practice in his pool is paying off.  😉 He’s swimming really well at the beach and loving it; he went in for a few good swims today.. It was lovely at the beach today. The water was glassy and calm enough with just a bit of a shore break.

Kaz loves the beach as well, but she is so funny. She prowls up and down the shallows and stays about 5-10 metres away from us. She certainly doesn’t trust Stephen not to take her into the deeper water.

Two videos today.

Kaz prowling in the shallows.

Anzac swimming.

The temperatures haven’t been as high as were originally forecast, but still very warm and unpleasantly humid today. Last night was hot as well, the heat and a mozzie conspired to keep us awake for much of the night!

My year in books…

Here’s my 2010 reading list. It’s a bit shorter than my 2009 list and almost all of the books listed are fantasy novels. I think everything is here, though there is a chance that I’ve missed adding a couple, especially non-fiction that I read alongside the fiction.
14 fantasy authors and 28 books including a book of 11 short stories by Australian fantasy legends.

The Dark Mirror – Juliet Marillier (Book 1 of The Bridei Chronicles)
Child of the Prophecy – Juliet Marillier (Book 3 of The Sevenwaters Trilogy)
Son of the Shadows – Juliet Marillier (Book 2 of The Sevenwaters Trilogy)
Daughter of the Forest – Juliet Marillier (Book 1 of The Sevenwaters Trilogy)
The Heir of Night – Helen Lowe – (Book 1 of The Wall of Night)
Tymon’s Flight – Mary Victoria – (Book 1 of the Chroncles of the Tree)
King’s Wrath – Fiona McIntosh – (Book 3 of the Valisar Trilogy)
Legends of Australian Fantasy – Jack Dann and Johnathan Strahan
Shalador’s Lady – Anne Bishop (A Black Jewels novel)
The Reluctant Mage – Karen Miller (Book 2 of Fisherman’s Children)
The Infinity Gate – Sara Douglass (Book 3 of Darkglass Mountain)
The Twisted Citadel – Sara Douglass (Book 2 of Darkglass Mountain)
Hell to Heaven – Kylie Chan (Book 2 of Journey to Wudang)
The Serpent Bride – Sara Douglass (Book 1 of Darkglass Mountain)
The Ambassador’s Mission – Trudi Canavan (Book 1 of The Traitor Spy)
Strange Attractors – Kim Falconer (Book 3 of Quantum Enchantment)
Arrows of Time – Kim Falconer (Book 2 of Quantum Enchantment)
Earth to Hell – Kylie Chan (Book 1 of Journey to Wudang)
Stormlord Rising – Glenda Larke (Book 2 of Watergivers)
Cold Magic – Kate Elliott (Book 1 of Spirit Walker)
The Spell of Rosette – Kim Falconer (Book 1 of Quantum Enchantment)
The Dukan Diet – Dr Pierre Dukan
Blue Dragon – Kylie Chan (Book 3 of Dark Heavens)
Red Phoenix – Kylie Chan (Book 2 of Dark Heavens)
Wizard Squared – K E Mills (Book 3 of Rogue Agent)
White Tiger – Kylie Chan (Book 1 of Dark Heavens)
At the Gates of Darkness – Raymond Feist (Book 2 of The Demonwar Saga)
Crown of Stars – Kate Elliott (Book 7 of Crown of Stars)