July 1st Changes (in my neck of the woods)

From today onwards, a number of changes have taken place in Australia. Taxes have changed, car rego is increasing, and a handful of other changes that I haven’t really looked into yet to be honest. But a couple of changes in particular have stirred a response in me.

Single-use plastic bags have been banned.

Great. I’m all for not using plastic and saving the environment and all that, but the whole bag transition has been somewhat trying. I think both the major supermarkets have tried to come across like they’re single handedly saving the environment with their alternatives. Which is obviously not true. But despite their attempts, some consumers are calling for more plastic bans within the stores before bag issues have even been resolved.

Both Coles and Woolworths gave ample notice that single-use plastic bags were going and when, so much so that all the ads and in-store signage became annoying. Woolworths removed their single-use plastic bags a few days ago (before Coles), almost like a trial to see what would happen. And despite the advance notice, there were some people who just lost their minds when the bags disappeared. Where have these people been for the last few months?

I’m also pretty sure their alternatives to single-use plastic bags are not the best. Among the ‘green bags’, there is the option of paying 15 cents for a ‘stronger’ plastic bag. The stores are saying that these bags are predominantly made from recycled plastic, so they are better for the environment than the previous bags.

But they’re still plastic. They are the cheapest option and will likely be the most popular choice with shoppers. And do you really think people are going to remember to bring these bags with them to reuse? I doubt it. They’ll probably end up in the same place the single-use bags ended up, and given that they’re thicker and stronger, they will probably cause more of a problem than before.

The other (actual) green bags and jute bags available are okay, but are not that sturdy. Certainly not sturdy enough to be used repeatedly for groceries. And don’t get me started on the additional charges that Woolworths have introduced for their delivery services. Now, if I opt for no bags at all, in addition to the delivery fee I will need to pay extra for the driver to remove my items from their crate. No thanks, I think Coles will be getting my online orders from now on.

Also, Target and K-mart have declared they will be boycotting this ban and will continue to provide single-use plastic bags to consumers. Not sure they understand the meaning of the word ‘ban’.

New GST introduced for all online purchases, regardless of price.

This one really bugged me. I shop online a lot. I like to buy things while I’m still in my pajamas. I don’t like being in crowded shopping centres.

My main gripe was the email from Amazon stating that they were not even going to try to comply with the new Australian GST laws. Instead, they were just cutting off Australian buyers who access their US store. They claimed that since they launched the Australian Amazon site last year, that we could have that or have nothing. Basically.

The problem with the Australian Amazon site is that prices are not at all competitive and the range of goods on offer is but a small sliver of what is available on the US Amazon site. Just like certain other things. Australian iTunes and Netflix < US iTunes and Netflix.

When this change was announced, there was a lot of response from local retailers saying that it was about time this was introduced and that people should be supporting their local retailers anyway. Sure, that’s great in theory, but why should I have pay $30-35 for a paperback in a local bookstore when I can buy it online for $15 with free shipping? And that’s if I can even find the book I want in Australian stores. A few months ago, I had to buy a book about Brisbane walking tracks from the UK, as apparently no Australian bookstore had it in stock. Seriously!

As someone who’s been a customer of the US Amazon store since 2002, their actions are a bit rude. Especially when my enquiries about the option of importing or transferring my wish list, purchase history and other data over to the new Australian Amazon store was deemed ‘a good idea, we’ll look into it’, however nothing further has been said or done about it. Wonder if Kobo is better than Kindle…

The Overland Track.

Anyway, there was one far more important thing that happened this morning, July 1 2018. The next season of track passes for The Overland Track in Tasmania went on sale at 9am. At 9:02am, my pass was booked!

Hiking Holiday

In the spirit of my previous post, I have been busy making plans, setting goals, etc. One of my goals for the next 12 months is to travel. But I don’t want to just travel in the sense of showing up to some exotic or popular location, taking a few touristy photos and returning home, ticking this ‘somewhere’ off my bucket list. I want to push myself and do something a little bit challenging.

Last year, before my cat got sick, I’d made very loose plans to hike The Overland Track in Tasmania. These very loose plans involved buying a book on the subject and looking at the photos.

Overland Track Book

This time I’m going to actually do it. In April of 2019, in fact.

This particular date has been carefully selected based on the kinds of scenery I can expect to see during this time and the weather that the area can expect during autumn. That, and these dates are available at work for me to book my annual leave, which I have done.

Registration for track passes opens on July 1st and I will have 10 months to get myself ready 🙂

One Year

The lovely Lena Dunham posted this quote on Instagram yesterday, 5th June 2018:

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I don’t know all the ins and out of her life. I know she’s had a long-term relationship end recently which would really suck, but that is the extent of my knowledge of her personal life.

But this post got me thinking of my own life. What was I doing this time a year ago? What were my hopes, goals, dreams this time last year? Have I achieved them?

A quick scan in my journal revealed that I was:

  • Unhappy in my current job due to personality clashes with not one but two colleagues. Going to work was unpleasant and Sunday evenings were dreaded.
  • Still trying to write that novel.
  • I had been googling an old boyfriend – goodness only knows why – and spent the next several weeks in a deep funk over how it looked like he’d gotten everything he wished for out of life while I was still ‘stuck’ not doing anything. I was weepy and pathetic.
  • My cat had some pretty big health problems and I was worrying about how I was going to pay the vet bills.
  • Still dreaming about travelling.

How’d I go?

  • I ended up sorting out the problems with my colleagues and we all got along very well for several months until I recently moved to a new position. We still keep in touch. Win.
  • Am still trying to write that novel.
  • Couldn’t care less about the ex anymore. Win.
  • My cat’s health has improved and I managed to pay for the bills and fancy specialist he needed to go to. Win.
  • Haven’t travelled anywhere.

So, there were some wins, but I’d hardly call it a groundbreaking year, achievement-wise. The little things got done, but the big things, the ones that were really important to me were overlooked.

Now, I realise this sort of thing is usually done at the start of the year, but I’ve decided to keep a track of the wins, the goals achieved and the accomplishments accomplished. For one year. Just to see what kind of a difference I can make to my life in 12 months.

In June 2019, I want to be able to open the folder of notes on my laptop and revel in the amount I have achieved. And I still have two unfulfilled goals from last year to start on…

Growing Stuff

A couple of weeks ago, one of my friends gifted me some Yellow Lemon Drop chillies that she grew from seed. She’s a big fan of the chilli, in all forms. In fact, one might call her a chilli connoisseur. But she now has more than she knows what to do with and can’t give them away fast enough.

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I do like the odd chilli here and there, but I don’t eat a lot of them. They don’t feature in my cooking every day, at least. Now, with this in mind it would make sense for me to wait for her to have another bumper crop and hold out my cupped hands in a hopeful manner in case she has any more surplus. But I had so many seeds left over and didn’t want to waste them, so I thought I’d try growing some for myself.

Apparently, these bad boys are prolific. But instead of planting maybe one or two seeds, I’ve gone completely overboard (so unlike me!) and planted a whole tray.

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If all seeds are successful, I’ll have about 30-35 plants. If, say, only half survive to adulthood, I’ll still have 15 or so plants. And if all these plants produce as many chillies as my friend’s one plant produces, I won’t have any idea what to do with them all.

The half batch of chilli sauce that I made last weekend will keep me going for quite some time. There’s only me that eats it and believe me, while delicious, it is capital H hot!

But I’m probably getting ahead of myself, since so far only two little plants have emerged. Stay tuned.

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In other gardening news, I bought some Italian parsley, mint, lemon thyme and salad burnet seedlings from the farmers markets last Wednesday and already they’ve just about doubled in size thanks to all the rain we’ve had.

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My Christmas Inconsistencies

Christmas: special time of the year? Perhaps for some. Maybe not for everyone.

I often wonder where I was and what I was doing when they were passing around the Christmas genes. I think I picked up some but clearly not others. For example –

Things about Christmas I loathe with a fiery passion:

  • Christmas carols
  • Secret Santa (work edition)
  • Christmas decorations (especially tinsel)
  • Navigating shopping centres, searching for gifts
  • Large parties or gatherings where my dietary choices are loudly called into question. And judged.

But I love, love, love:

  • Christmas movies (I can and often will watch them year-round)
  • Secret Santa (online friends edition)
  • Online shopping for gifts
  • Christmas lights (my exception to the no Christmas decorations rule)
  • Champagne for breakfast (my own personal Christmas tradition)

So basically, as a way of coping with Christmas this year, I’ll be the one walking around in public with my noise-cancelling headphones on to drown out the Christmas carols that are playing everywhere and carrying an EpiPen in case I accidentally touch tinsel. And then rushing home so I can watch Love Actually for the millionth time.

I’d be excited about the Christmas season ending if it didn’t send a signal to the Powers That Be that it’s now time to stock the grocery stores with hot cross buns.

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Last Week of NaNoWriMo – Thoughts

Soooo…I’m not going to make it, okay.

I deliberately took the last Friday of November off work so that I could spend a solid long weekend finishing this challenge early, and basking in the glory of the NaNo parade, sipping champagne from my NaNo mug while I finally get to indulge in Stranger Things, etc., etc.

But when I sat down yesterday morning to write, it suddenly became a case of “crap, now I have to write 25,000 words in the space of three days”. This didn’t sound like fun to me. In fact, it reminded me way too much of how my Honours thesis panned out a few years ago. And that certainly wasn’t fun in any way. I still have nightmares.

And so, I’ve decided to hang up my NaNo Hat for 2017. I’m not quitting writing this project I’m working on – which, in the NaNo frenzy has worked itself into an unrecognisable messy beast of words – but I will be stepping back, maybe pulling the story apart, picking out what I like about it and tossing the rest away. And then I’ll continue writing.

Congrats to all who made it to 50,000!!

I did it two years ago, so I know I can do it. But just not this year. And that’s okay.

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