Friday, 25 January 2008

Three Reasons Not to Use Three

Why is it mobile phone companies can't get their act together? I'm not sure whether they're trying to annoy us on purpose, or whether it's just accidental. I'd like to believe it's not malicious, but on the other hand to believe that they crap up so much mindlessly is a bit disheartening too. I've had some pretty disheartening experiences with Three, but here are some standout stupid ones:

1. Not Explaining Above Cap Charges Properly The whole reason people want a cap plan is so they know what charges are in the cap and what's not. And if they have a pretty extensive cap plan, they usually use up quite a bit of that. My Three phone told me there were special bits that were billed outside my Cap plan called "Planet Three" They could be found in a special section called "Planet Three". I could browse Planet Three, however, without being charged, so long as I didn't hit anything with a special icon next to it. So I studiously avoided this section.

However, I did send an email from a section that wasn't in Planet Three and wasn't marked with a special icon. Guess what - it's classed as "Planet Three" and billed outside your cap plan.

"Special calls" like 1900 calls are also billed outside your cap. Funnily enough, this wasn't told to me when I signed up, and it wasn't shown on the table which was given to me as the "all the info I need on my billing" booklet - it was written in fine print at the bottom of my bill, after they charged me. Thanks a lot.

2. Crap Service When Your Phone Breaks Down My Phone wasn't working for a while, it wasn't calling, receiving, and it was making funny noises. Naturally this wasn't acceptable, so I took it to my nearest Three Shop, which was also the place I'd signed up for the deal. I asked if they could fix it for me on the spot. They couldn't, so I asked if they would do anything about it, like give me a new phone.

"No that's not our policy, we send your phone away to be fixed," they explained. "if it can't be fixed then we give you a new phone.
"How long does that take?" I asked.
"Could be 4-6 weeks, maybe longer, there is a big queue," they said.
"I have to be without my phone?" I said incredulously.
"No, we give you a loan phone," they explained. I wasn't thrilled about that, considering it could be a very different model from my phone that I was used to, and also, I had all my info stored on my own phone!
Still, I asked them about this loan phone.
"Um, we don't have any at the moment, and there's a queue ... not likely to be one for a while."
"So what about giving me a new phone, since you can't fix my phone or loan me a phone?"
"That's not our policy, we have to send yours away."
"and I have to be without a phone?"
"Since we don't have any loan phones ... yes ... or maybe there's one at another store ..."
"So how long will it take for you to bring a loan phone in?"

(I still wasn't impressed - I mean my phone was mucking up NOW - not next week or whenever they thought hey could bring a loan phone in!)

"We can't, you have to go and look around yourself. There are other stores all over the place - maybe you could try the city - or out - some other suburb - ask around if they have a loan phone ..."

So basically they wanted me to trot about and buy train tickets all around Sydney to track down a loan phone that mightn't exist because of their "policy" of bad service!

You know what I did? I went outside, and gave my phone a good few thwacks. I turned it on and off a few times and reset it. It started working after a while.

DAMN, I should be a Three technician - I do better than those bozos!

3. Charging Twice For The Same Bill The final insult. You'd think after all that I ought to be getting some freebies, but instead they had the hide to recently ding me twice for the same bill. I got a statement saying my December bill (due early January) was overdue, and they wanted me to pay the December plus the January bill in February, PLUS an overdue payment charge.

I checked my bank account. No, the bill was PAID on the due date in early January. My bank confirms it. The money's out. And then I've got Three whingeing that the bank refused the money when any monkey can see that the bank took the money out of me account. Refused? I'll tell you what I refuse - I refuse to pay up twice.

I'm paying by direct debit, and I always keep enough money in the bank to pay off my phone bill, so if the phone company and the bank, can't get their act together, why is it I'm always the one who has to jump around and tell them they're idiots? They should be the one with the money to hire the people with the smarts to know what to do and the technology to make it happen - I'm just a gal who never did an IT course in her life and I can debit an account and fix a phone better than they can. The world has gone to pot.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Climb Every (well, three, anyhow) Mountain

Last Monday I got my Learner's in Indoor Rockclimbing. Mr Coffee has been several times before me, with an all-male troupe, but on Monday we did it with a mixed gathering.

The reason for the all male outings, explained Mr Coffee, was to increase alpha-maleness by sport.

And oh, I found out what he meant as soon as I got there.

Them rockclimbing harnesses are somehow engineered in a very interesting triangle shape to just emphasise the pelvic region and to outline and push forth the family jewels, so to speak. If there were ever a sport where the nuts could go nuts, I'd say this would be it.

However, the 4 of us, were determined to have a good time, even if we had our bots tied up and felt slightly ridiculous at first. Two males - Mr Coffee and his mate, Nova, and to balance the female side out, the lively, spritely, Tam O'Shanter, who was as small as me but had five times the energy.

Firstly, we got a lesson in how to safely check each other, and Tam climbed the training wall so lithely I thought it'd be a breeze. Next I had a go and found it weren't so easy. Damn! Where was that bit of rock? And how come I had managed to get so heavy myself lately - I didn't think I'd be so difficult to pull up a rockface!

What was worse, however, hreoically, I made it to the top of the training wall.

"Let me down!" I called.

Peter, the instructor, had different ideas. He was giving a blonde nearby a long spiel on how to let down a person safely - and let me down a lot. "Let me down! HELP!" I screamed, as I dangled at the top of the wall! Was I going to have to stay there forever, with a harness grasping at my groin?

It seemed ages later that I was brought down, among yelps.

Then came the times when I had to belay for Mr Coffee. I made several mistakes; firstly I thought I had to use all my weight and strength to keep him up on the mountain or else he'd fall off, not realising there's a security catch on the rope. So boy, did my arms get sore for no reason.

Secondly, when I let him down, I was overly cautious and slow, and didn't let a lot of slack in the rope, which (harness position again) is quite cruel on the male's crotch and tends to go for the giant wedgie.

But live and learn. I'll try not to do that too much again, unless there's a great need for revenge.

I tried several other walls. I managed two others to the top, and another about three quarters of the way up. Tam was like a monkey; I was like an elephant.

"Curse it! Why do the rocks have to be so far away! If only my arm were ... just ... a little bit longer ... a little bit longer ...!" And you get so darn tired. Right now my muscles ache. Upper arm and thighs especially. I'm sure I don't know how they did Mt Everest. Probably the handholds there were a whole lot better spaced.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Greenpeace is indirectly using Sea Shepherd tactics to lower Global Warming, recent studies have shown.

Those who have been watching the Greenpeace anti-whaling vessel's tactics recently may have been confused by the Sea Shepherd's tactics.

Greenpeace has been known for bad haircuts, sloppy T-shirts, and taking a ship out and ramming the side of Japanese whaling vessels in the hope of saving the lives of whales. Either that or getting their faces and wild haircuts on the front of magazines.

However recently they took a different turn, and two Greenpeace anti-whaling protesters have been held on a Japanese ship "hostage" says Greenpeace, "detained" say the Japanese, although they probably say that in Japanese. After trying to deliver a letter, say Greenpeace, after trying to throw acid and destroy property say the Japanese. Maybe "deliver a letter" sounds a lot like "throw acid" in Japanese.

Anyhow, the Australians started calling the Japanese "terrorists" and the Japanese started calling the Aussies "pirates". And many people have been calling the actions stupid.

However, my research has found that according to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster the number of pirates there are in the world affects global warming . If we increase the number of pirates in the world, the average global temperature will go down!

It's all there.

While somoe people have been calling the Greenpeace actions stupid, well-intentioned perhaps, but ill-thought-out, lacking credibility, and idiotic, they are obviously part of the bigger environmental picture. Kill two birds with one stone - errh - perhaps not the best metaphor - attack the whaling and the global warming together. Create more piracy!

Hop to it and get to those illegal downloads, people, you have work to do for the environment!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Advice from the disenchanted lawyer to the naive little lawyer

I am a newly admitted little lawyer. Clutching my certificate in hand I go to find a place where hopefully I will get a job, get a paypacket, and as some of my friends have said to me "this is a place where you can make a difference" and The College of Law tells you all about things like Professional Responsibility and Duty and so forth. So my eyes gleam for now not with little dollar signs but with candles of faith in justice and other honourable such and suches.

And then I was redirected to Lawyer Trixie's blog. Oh what a site it was! Naked people for Christmas parties at the Big City firm, not Fighting the Good Fight for the Weak and the Gentle.

I fear I have been seriously misled.

It is this kind of thing that leads lawyers to the bottle - either the disillusionment or the naked girls with the body paint. One or the other, it is a downhill path.

Then it is a spiral downwards and soon they will all either became sad lonely drinkers or investment bankers.

It is a path I have chosen now, I suppose, and I pray for strength.

Jawbreaker! The Ball Breaker!

It's only ... no, less than a month into 2008, and already I'm breaking resolutions. Informal ones. I really wanted to avoid mind-numbing computer games this year, as I'd wasted far too much time on mindless computer games , and what happened?

Mr Coffee introduced me to a game on his PDA which I've been able to play on my computer as well, and I got addicted. I've been hurting my eyes, staying up all hours, Jawbreaking.

Yes I wanted to practice and be good at this game. But rather contrarily I've wasted time on this mindless game because I'm not really getting much better at it or developing much strategy. My mind is turning to jello.

The aim of the game is to get high points by busting balloons in little groups like this, of the same colour. Once you bust the balloons, the rest in the columns fall down, and regroup the other balloons. The higher the number of callooons busted in one group, the higher your score. And you can only bust a group if the balls are sitting next to each other (diagonally doesn't count) and they are the same colour. And it's hard to explain the fascination except you end up playing over and over again. And if you're me, you end up not thinking much about what you're doing - especially if it's 3am.

Ball Breaking, is the nickname I've given to this game, but in reality it's a complete waste of time, and I'm getting back to it ...

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Immigrant Idol!

I just hit on a fantastic idea, after reading a whole lot of stuff about how people are racist, when they really mean religionist.

Funny, that, when you read an article about Muslims in Australia there always seems to be some debate about racism when in fact we're talking about religionism. This article started off about whether or not there should be a Muslim school in Camden, and went on about whether there should be any Muslims in Australia at all and some talk about whether Muslims were an insidious group which was planning a hostile takeover of Australia.

One person who commented on this article suggested "Let's vote once and for all who we want in this country!"

And I thought - fantastic idea!

Should we do it on TV, or by internet? Internet could be faster, but TV would be flashier, and probably would be more attractive to the adman.

The Internet Concept

First of all, you'd pick a web host, like MyAussieImmigrationApplicationSpace. Immigrants could log in, and post their photo, and application, and a profile. Maybe a few youtube videos. Internet voting for applicants would be assessed - you would have to get a minimum number of votes in your favour from Aussie citizens, and more than a [certain percentage] than those in your disfavour.

I s'pose there's always the problem, just like on RSVP, of someone like Osama Bin Laden sticking up a hot 22 year old blonde's pic, but there are always risks with new concepts.

The TV Concept

The TV Concept is a far more drawn out concept, but would just make the process more selective. I'm sure all the mobile phone companies would love it. Immigrants would be lining the streets to get into the final twelve, and go through weeks of agony, performing tasks, songs, dancing to prove their worth as Aussies, and face the whiplash remarks of the judges. "You throw a prawn on a barbie like a girl!" "Oh sorry - you are a girl - I can never figure it out with those Afro haircuts" "Your Neighbours trivia SUX!"

The government would be forced to back the people's Immigrant Idol - but only for the length of his/her visa. After which the choice could be made to drop the Idol or renew the contract, depending on whether they'd made good their contribution and were a viable asset.

I like it already!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

2007 - Answers without questions, with thanks to Alfina the Vague

I surfed over to the blog of Alfina the Vague and found a set of questions which I, non-specifically, was asked to complete about my experiences of 2007. I tried my best - for a while, then got, as I did, invested in long ramblings that seemed to repeat themselves over and over, in summary about 2007.

So, instead, using the comments as a guide, I think I'll try to summarise the highs and lows of 2007 using the questions as a guide. For a complete set of the questions used, check out Alfina's blog post.


For me, a very successful year - comparatively. "Comparatively" - as Mr Coffee would say, with what? Comparative to a few preceding years, definitely, and I am sorry to say, comparative to the escapades of some I've been near and dear to, who haven't all seemed to have the most easy time I've had this year. I can say I've felt extremely fortunate when I've heard of some of the woes of friends and wish them all a happy 2008.

I didn't make any resolutions in 2007, not formally but I had some hopes and goals and I can say some major goalposts have been passed. Yay! I have finished my Law studies - well, the major study, that is; for those who want to point out for a lawyer study is never over and I might go on to do postgrad study later on. But the formal get-a-job study is done. I went through THREE law ceremonies this year. Uni - College of Law - Admission. That's a bit taxing. I must say now that my struggles with non-stick cookware and my first encounters with a real coffee machine sound insignificant in contrast. Not that they weren't milestones too. Mr Coffee seems to think of one of my major achievements as the ability to froth milk nicely.

On the downside, I tried valiantly to keep out of trouble this year but I have failed to learn a few Cantonese phrases (they keep slipping out of my head - such a slippery language!) and I've done such silly things, such as grating my hand instead of the cheese for pasta. The fact that Mr Coffee and I have never figured out why the risotto turns out so watery is a shame, too.

What has changed in my life, majorly, in 2007, besides the fact I've now become a lawyer? Well, actually having a boyfriend, the valiant and adorable Mr Coffee has to be the most obvious. Coming with the package has to be the fact that I watched far more DVDs, and with that, more sci-fi and comic-book based movies, than I probably had in my entire life, just this year! Ahh - such is life with a boyfriend!

Three more things will remind me especially of 2007

It will be the year I got a scorching sunburn right near the beginning of the year (well, right at the end of 2006, to be exact) and I was peeling for ages afterwards. I still have a few freckles now, but you could see the dark lines for months later and it ached for ages. This was on a formal date with Mr Coffee, a picnic at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Ah, what we do for love!

It will be the year I and my siblings threw a surprise 60th birthday party for my mother, with many of her friends, and a "This is Your Life" theme - and she actually was surprised! With her friends and family, it was amazing they kept the secret for so long.

Winning over 100 books from Borders in their major prize - a combined effort with Mr Coffee - was a major coup. Hurrah - we are still drunk on the high it gave us!

2007 could have been improved if I'd spent more time exercising - who doesn't think that, but never gets round to doing it - probably so many of us - and more time reading books I hadn't read rather than reading old favourites and pamphlets shoved at me in the streets. I should also have been more proactive about experimenting with cooking. I wish I'd seen more of certain friends and enhanced on some of the scribblings I'd started.

I could have spent less time playing mindless computer games and making silly nothing comments on internet newspaper websites. I suppose my parents would say it would have been more enhancing if I spent less time on Google Talk and doing the daily sudoku, but I happen to enjoy them, so too bad. I wish I'd been less of a klutz!

Oh, and reading my daily horoscope is definitely a waste of time.

Musically I have not improved one bit, I'm still a disaster, but I've had the pleasure this year of inflicting my terrible musical disaster upon several other people. Mr Coffee, for one, poor fellow, has heard me sing, and he'll never be the same again. The two songs I'll remember from this year couldn't be more different and were both introduced to me by the said Mr Coffee - Stephen Lynch's "Special Ned" and Loreena McKennitt's "The Lady of Shallott". I hadn't heard of them before this year, and now I've got them both downloaded.

As for books I got far more than I bargained for with the Borders win, and I'm still struggling through, trying to read them. I didn't read many books near the beginning of the year, not new ones, but towards read more, and was particularly happy to have found Peter Goldsworthy's "Honk if You are Jesus" and Joanne Harris's "Chocolat" - not to mention the fun of reading the play "Pygmalion". The worst book I revisited from my childhood would have to be Virginia Andrews' "Flowers in the Attic".

Filmwise I was surprised that I found the quality of the many foreign films I saw this year generally higher than those I saw in English. I saw "Pan's Labyrinth", "The Lives of Others", "As It Is In Heaven", "The Curse of the Golden Flower" - and I don't generally see a lot of foreign films. Of the English language films I saw, I enjoyed "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "Michael Clayton" the most.

Definitely it was Mr Coffee who kept me sane this year! As for the best/nicest person I met this year - well - if, it does have to come in the strict terms of "meeting" this year, it's hard to pick one, because I met a whole bunch of very amiable people at my Law College who could fall under that umbrella. However, I would pick the other paralegal with whom I worked for several months - I knew her longer on a more one-to-one basis and she was really, a very admirable, smart, sunny person, with a good combination of being sweet but not a walkover. A good thing in a prospective lawyer!

Compared with 2006, I'm happy to say I think 2007 was a happier time for me, even if I felt fatter and I'm not richer. Gosh, women's mags would hate me, but I should be on a government ad or something - being skinny and rich don't make you a happier person, ladeez!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Facebook and Label Neurosis

Facebook or Labels? That isn't a choice between two, I'm wondering whether I should do either. And I'm spiralling into a black hole of indecisive despair.

For months now I've been asked to join Facebook by various people, be their friends (usually by people I thought were friends, or people I didn't know knew my name, let alone wanted to be my friend). I'm tossing up. Should I join? Should I not join? On the one hand, it's good for photos, and Scrabulous, some say. On the other hand, it's a villainous invasion of privacy and more importantly more of a waste of time than these blogs. And goodness knows I spend enough time blogging. Is everyone talking about Facebook but me? On the other hand, if I join, will they be talking even more about me, because I'm on Facebook and they can see me - and worse still, my Scrabulous scores!

So should I set up Facebook and spend my time nudging, winking or whatever people do, and putting up photos and playing Scrabulous, and exactly what IS Facebook anyway?

Next: Labels

Should I put Labels on my blog?

Other people seem to do it. In fact labels seem to be everywhere. I haven't got round to labelling my email but one day I probably will and then I won't be able to find a thing but it will all be filed very neatly, thank goodness. The trouble with labels is I'm sure I will have a new label for every blog-post, which kind of destroys the purpose of a label, doesn't it? What if I can't think of anything but daggy and unoriginal label names? I can't think of anything but daggy and unoriginal label names! On the other hand, is my blog hard to read if I don't have labels? Are labels like mobile phones, soon everyone will have them plastered to them, and if I don't too, I can't communicate with other labelled people? What if I can't think of a label for a post, do I label it "unlabelled"?

I HATE making unimportant but world wide web changing decisions in my life!

Friday, 4 January 2008

Say what you mean, mean what you say, Cityrail, or go jump!

Here is another rant on a topic I love whinging about: Trains. Or more specifically, CityRail. Which means NSW trains. I don't know how you are going in the other states, but if you're worse off, you have my full sympathy.

Train fares went up again recently; of course people got upset because it's another hike in recent times and the trains have got worse. Naturally, this is how things work in public transport, which allows people to jump to the most obvious conclusion: We feed the public transport system more and more money and they throw it away carelessly on nothing useful and demand more. And we hire these jerks.

In any other employer-employee situation these people would have been long gone for gross rorting and incompetence but unfortuately the public sector has had it too comfy. You can still be an incompetent time waster and be Minister for Transport; in fact it seems to be some kind of prerequisite nowadays.

Now, I was wandering around CityRail recently and I saw some signs up that I hadn't seen before. They were signs warning passengers that they should pay for their ticket OR ELSE! CityRail was getting tough on fare evasion!

There were buses instead of trains, so I went to catch a bus. There were signs there saying you had to buy a valid ticket or you would not be able to ride the buses replacing the trains, so I dutifully bought the ticket from the train station and then walked back to the bus stand. When the bus driver came round I showed him my ticket.

"I'm not interested," he said, as I tried to flash my ticket. "Couldn't care less whether you bought one or not. I don't want to look."

A couple boarded after me, and inquired how much the ride cost, and whether they could buy a ticket on the bus. "Don't buy a ticket. I couldn't care whether you had a ticket or not. I can't sell one to you here. Get on." They looked surprised but pleased.

As the bus driver continued this policy, I began to feel rather ripped off that I'd actually bought a ticket when everyone else was being let on for free!

A week later, I roamed the train station, and the signs were there, alerting me to the "Get Tough On Fare Evaders" policy. I dutifully bought my ticket and went to the electronic turnstiles. You can't get past the turnstiles without an electronic ticket ... or can you?

You can. A man came in the opposite direction, and jumped over the turnstiles and kept walking, right past me. There were two CityRail officers standing right near me at the time, watching the man, and neither raised a voice in protest.


Pardon me for being a little sceptical of the get tough on fare evasion policy. But what's the point of having threatening signs about when you've got officers who don't follow through? I'm rather peeved my money to CityRail has been wasted on a whole lot of useless posters, myself.

Contradictory and slack behaviour by CityRail? Not a way to encourage respect for authority, guys. Try again. And perhaps you could try NOT to screw it up this time.

Second Vanilla Slice Post of the Year

In my quest to actually complete a vanilla slice, I purchased another recently, and I hoped it was edible. And it was! I ate the whole thing, and am happy to report back that this time, the vanilla slice was indeed a delight.

This is the way vanilla slices ought be done!

So, what was the slice like that was so different from the first vanilla slice?

Well, there was no icing. Now, I'm not saying that icing is a bad thing, but in the first vanilla slice, it was rather overly sweet, and thick, and it rather distracted fro the vanilla-y taste and weighed down on the pastry. A light dusting of icing sugar on this one was a vast improvement.

The vanilla cream was lighter. The first vanilla cream was rather too heavy and thick. made one feel far too full after just a bite - and even when your fork went into it, was a chore. This was lighter and much easier to melt in one's mouth and easier on the tummy. made you want to finish it up. The texture was smoother.

The pastry was fluffier. Mmmmm-mmmm - a must!

I don't think this made a big difference, but this slice was double layered and rectangular (long-ish) whereas the first slice was single layered and square.

This slice was bought at Pattison's. A plug for the deserving.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

I gave into Sweet Valley Nostalgia

Possibly the fluffiest, most unrealistic and most forgettable set of books I read part of the series of, I rememebered recently, and I admit I started googling references to today.

I don't know if any others out there will have heard of or remember a series called Sweet Valley High created by Francine Pascal, but it's a world somewhat like the Beverley Hills world in "Clueless", without the comedy. The stories are based on two impossibly beautiful twin girls, who are not meant to be rich, but somehow have every material comfort that they wish for and loads of makeup and can afford to go to parties all the time. Oh damn, the downside is they aren't the kids in school to own their own personal Porsche, but life deals everyone its rough cards.

The twins are called Jessica and Elizabeth - You're suppposed to think of Jessica as the bad twin and Liz as the good twin, but in reality you often want to kick both. Jessica is selfish and scheming, and Liz, for all her supposed smartness, gets taken in by her sister and plays her fall girl. Liz also is annoyingly passive. Their parents don't show signs of aging, and the many people in the book seem to be stunningly good looking. The stories are often sensationalised and extremely soap opera stupid.

There's a class clown, a set of jocks (that's sports crazy guys, not underwear, though they can be easily mixed up by women), the richest babes and men in town, and a parade of airbrushed hunks to keep Jessica amused. Schemes and tricks as they try to sneak off to parties, bail each other out of terrifying accidents and situations, and steal boyfriends. And have wardrobe malfunctions!

For some reason, though these were fun to read, perhaps because you knew you didn't have to think or care. You closed the book and wondered ..."Oh ... something happened to ... Jess ... right ... actuallly, who cares?" and comfortably went to sleep.

However the books were hugely successful, and caused a lot of speculation, and probably people like me guiltily googling them. They followed the twins from first grade to University. And there is even some talk about some series about them into their twenties/thirties. Now, that mightn't be quite beating the success Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are set for, but it's close. And who knows who will last?

One such site is this, The Lint Ball: SVH where the author ponders whether the twins were actually lesbians.

What I am waiting for is "Sweet Valley Retirement Village". Jessica steals that handsome hunk of a ninety year old from the loyal Elizabeth who stayed by his side since ... first grade? Their parent haven't aged a bit, so they now look younger than the twins. Instead of worrying over their boob jobs and mascara, it's their haemerrhoids and whether their dentures will stay in place to attract that gorgeous mortician that visits for the weekly rounds that's the hot topic for conversation - that is, when they can get their voices above a croak.

And Bruce Patman has abandoned his Porsche for the hottest suped-up electronic wheelchair with all the features. Come on Francine Pascal - you know this series will work.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

First Vanilla Slice Post of the Year

This Year may well be the Year of the Vanilla Slice.

I attempted to keep my resolution "Eat a Vanilla slice" - although it was resolution number two, it was a darn sight easier to keep than resolution number one, get a job.

Or so I thought.

I was in Fairfield today and I purchased myself a Vanilla Slice from Michel's. It was a rather large thing, topped with passionfruit icing and I made a valiant attempt.

I must say I failed. I did not complete my whole vanilla slice eating. I got about two-thirds - or maybe three-quarters - of the way there - and gave up. The darn thing.

This was not the Queen or King of Vanilla Slices, I'm afraid to report. I do like a good vanilla slice, but my review is not positive about this fat square.

The vanilla cream was too heavy and thick - a good vanilla slice would have lighter vanilla. This one sat too heavily in the tummy and on the tongue.

Then the pastry - not fluffy enough. And the passionfruit icing was a little too thick - I don't mind a bit of icing (though the ones dusted with icing sugar work well) - but this icing was too sweet and thick - and it also weighed down on the pastry and took away from its fluffiness.

All in all, not a success. Perhaps another hack at a better vanilla slace shall be had later in the year. The search for better slice goes on!

I Resolve to Resolve to Resolve to Resolve ....

On New Year's Eve, I asked Mr Coffee if he'd make any New Year's Resolutions with me. He wouldn't. He said if he made them, either he'd make them too difficult to achieve, or if he made them too easy to achieve, he would have done them anyway and they weren't worth resolving to do.

But I wanted to make a New Year's Resolution, partly because I hadn't made one last year, not that I remember. And partly because I couldn't think of anything better to do with Mr Coffee at the time because it was so darn hot and he'd already beaten me resoundingly at a game of Trivial Pursuit.

I've been thinking about some things I'd like to accomplish in 2008. Realistic things, not like my long-held ambition to learn how to heal any person by concentrating hard on them and making laser beams fly from my hands and eyes and penetrate their bodily organs. Or getting my mother to approve of my fashion sense.

Some things I came up with:

1. Get a job. One with some form of remuneration at least. If that fails, at least go to lots and lots of interviews and have the experience of telling everyone about all the rejections I got in my futile search for employment, and then end up begging my parents for 20c to do extra chores that don't really need doing, around the house, in the last few days before the end of this year, so it counts as fulfilling this resolution. I'm hoping it doesn't come to that.

2. Eat a vanilla slice. Inspired by Jahteh's Blog , which featured a lovely vanilla slice last year, I bemoaned I had not eaten a vanilla slice all last year. I don't think I had eaten one the year before. I've been lacking.

3. Watch certain movies. I haven't sat done and watched the entirety of Gone With The Wind in a long while, but I have the DVD. Funnily enough, I find plenty of time to reread the book, but I haven't rewatched the movie. I have never watched the entirety of Lord of the Rings. For some reason I have this need to see Mary Poppins and Pollyanna - I've never seen the last one - so I'll stick that on my list.

4. Practice the following games:

Trivial Pursuit

Jawbreaker is a solo game, so I just want to get an amazingly high average. The first three games, I haven't beaten Mr Coffee yet at. Admittedly, we've only played one chess game and we both performed unspectacularly. I want to beat him!

5. Improve my non-blog writing. Actually, improve my writing all up. I'm not sure whether I should go for quantity or quality. Or cuter font type.

6. Increase my touch typing speed. How much lower can it go?

7. Make a concerted effort to increase my cooking repertoire. Hmmm ... one more dish ought to do it.

8. Make a concerted effort to learn more Cantonese. It gets a bit limiting when you even mess "Happy Chinese New Year" up, and you can only say the numbers and "little friend, how are you". I really ought to pick up some new phrases, because waiters in Chinese restaurants and shops are getting sick of me calling them "little friend".

Hurrah for the New Year!