Preliminary Musings on Being a Cheapskate

Posted in Thoughts by Sandra on July 29, 2009

For some reason I’ve been wanting to cook rather than eat out, and bake rather than buy from the bakery. Dear friends, fear not that I may be becoming a real hausfrau just because I’ve named my wonderful Miele vacuum Mielo (gee, real leap of imagination there) and am now making an obsession out of collecting food blogs and compiling recipes in a database of sorts.

I’m just trying to be frugal, and apparently it’s quite encouraged in this dreadful economy. After all, if paying less for same item means having to toss out less packaging, why not?

Apart from tracking our household bills in a spreadsheet and keeping track of spending via one of the BF’s iPhone applications, I’ve also gotten it into my head to bake these wonderful little muffins. (I also cooked dinner the other night, but that’s another story.)

I’ve gone prowling through the shelves of supermarkets and through the mazes of online catalogues to find out where I can buy the supplies for baking the cheapest.

Australia has four major supermarkets – Coles, Woolworths Safeway, Aldi, IGA. (IGA isn’t exactly a supermarket, I think, it’s usually a local franchise which is voluntarily part of the association.)

Turns out Aldi is the cheapest, followed by Safeway and IGA in a tie, and finally Coles is the most expensive of the lot.

I would post exact information but I used another recipe to do the price tracking. I’ll edit this entry again after the shopping trip this weekend.

We used to live really close to Safeway (10 minutes’ walk), but now we’re closer to the local IGA (also 10 minutes’ walk). It’s pretty small, but adequate for the need to grab milk or eggs quickly. The bacon master (BF) has also noted that bacon is of better quality from Safeway. It also means that if I want to have a variety of produce to choose from, I need the BF for a quick ride to at least the closest “Supa IGA” which is about 15 minutes away on bike. And I’m notoriously lazy when it comes to going to places for my food.

However, I think it’d be worthwhile if it means we can save up to 40% of our grocery bill if it means going a few minutes further to the cheapest supermarket!

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Proving that a Relationship Exists

Posted in Thoughts by Sandra on July 12, 2009

image sourced from google images

Every time I think about my status in Australia I get a knot in my stomach. My pulse picks up and I can have as many as ten tabs open in my web browser on the topic.

I’m here on a visitor visa. It’s my third. I first entered Australia on 15 October 2008 with an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization?), then I extended it online by another three months. So that’s six months in Australia. Instead of taking the risk to extend the visa another time, I went back home for about two weeks in mid-April. In two weeks, it’d have been a total of nine months.

I need three more months to be able to apply for a de facto spouse visa. That is a visa based on the relationship I have with The Murloc. I haven’t had a “real” job, I don’t have any uni qualifications, and therefore I don’t have skills that I could use to enter on a Skilled Migrant visa. It’s really too expensive for me to enroll in university here without much financial aid from my mother, and even then I am required to take a foundation year course (which runs up to AUD20,000 depending on the uni) because I don’t have ‘A’ level certification or a diploma. Therefore, a de facto spouse visa seems the logical way to go.

I’m nervous. There’re many documents we will need to submit to the Immigration department to prove that our relationship is genuine and committed for a long time to come. As I agonized over what we’ll have to gather as “evidence”, The Murloc summarized it all with one sentence, “You’re being forced to quantify a relationship with dates and joint-name bills… which most people don’t have to.”

I understand that the Immigration department need us to do this. They need to see proof, to know that I’m not a mail order bride, nor did I bribe this man so that I can seek a new life in their country. But goddamnnit it’s hard.

I have a task (or two) that I need done in Singapore. One of which would be getting a certificate of No Criminal Conviction. My only issue with it is that I have to pay by a bank draft, and I’m not entirely sure about it. I need to call DBS tomorrow, as what I can glean of it through the iBanking service, is that I need to collect it from one of its branches, which I obviously cannot do. Can I send my application to a friend in Singapore, and trust him/her to pick the draft up and hand it to the police? Is that even allowed?

So many questions.

That we met online probably doesn’t help. Despite the increasing occurrences of such couples I don’t think the Immigration department see quite so often. How can we prove it? With screenshots? Will guild chat logs count as “evidence”?

I almost feel like I have to present a case before panel of judges in court…

… which is probably not too far from the truth anyway.

Music and Change

Posted in Music by Sandra on April 28, 2009

You see, the thing about music is simply the fact that it changes as you grow. New insights, new meanings that emerge with more experience in life, and of course new tastes.

Take today for example: System of a Down.

I remember the first song I heard from them was Lonely Day and it was fantastic. Then Emmanuel tossed me a second song which totally turned me off that band. Till this day (well, a few hours ago anyway) I thought that they weren’t quite as good as I thought… until The Murloc clued me in. He played some tracks for me and I was pretty stunned. So I’d just spent about half an hour searching for That Song which turned me off SOAD and guess what?

I couldn’t find it.

When I was in my secondary school years, I mostly listened to Japanese pop. Dare I say that I even despised English? I had English pegged as the inflexible, unfeeling language. Kind of ironic considering that my command of the English language is heaps better than my mother tongue and my dialect. Ouch. But now when I look at my brother (who blasts Japanese pop/anime music) I can only think about how… well, childish, it seems. After all, it’s not like you understand it, do you, in the little intricate ways that the native speakers of Japanese do?

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Media Sensationalism of Chicken Sex Video

Posted in Thoughts by Sandra on April 10, 2009

Recently in the news there’s been some major hoohah over a video that senior members of AFL club North Melbourne, Adam Simpson and Daniel Pratt helped produce. The media has slammed the video as ‘tasteless’ and ‘degrading’. The AFL said it was ‘totally inappropriate and offensive’. The two players involved were full of apologies, ‘ashamed’ and ’embarrassed’.

I managed to find the original video, re-posted by one of those who contributed to the product of the video here. Here’s what the poster of the video said of it:

This is the video those (anonymous) North Melbourne players put up on facebook.
Clearly this was completely blown out of proportion.
There was no need to apologize.
Its funny that there is a three warning policy for drugs but if somebody makes a funny video some vegan doesn’t like they get instantly crucified.
Obviously this is just a mix between over reacting vegans and media trying to juice a story from it all.. and the AFL just wants to please everybody.
Also the hairy armpit brigade was on full winging capacity.
The only people that find this offensive are the kind of people that would winge about it and make a scene.
the reason this was uploaded is:
A) i helped in the making of it. hence, i have the right to put it up.
B) to show people that the video was absolutely nothing and the media are a bunch of rats willing to make a dime at anybody’s expense.
C) to show that words such as “Porn” and “violent” clearly do not apply to this video.

When people say things like “This is depicting illegal acts!” they must not have seen an episode of “Law and order” or any other crime show without getting offended.
the only way to imagine this as being sexist i guess would be to replace the chicken with a woman. which would be sexist in the first place. Hence, feminists are sexist towards women… and chickens…lol
This goes to show how easy it is to offend people depending on the person (so called offender)
Those feminists chose to be offended because of the guys making it.
if it was a female making the video there would have been no action from anyone.

And do not say we did not warn you!
Clear warning at the start, and we even blurred out the faces of those who did not give us consent to be in it.

Personally, I agree that the media has chosen the most sensational and harshest approach and taken millions of readers along for the ride.

Was the video tasteless and well, a bit on the violent side at the end? Yes.
Was there any indication that the frozen chicken was “female”? No.
Was it fodder for the media, considering that there are more ‘important’ things to cover? Yes.

In the news report on MSN News, the last paragraphs contained a statement from Adrian Anderson (AFL football operations manager) on the AFL’s stand on the issue:

“There is nothing acceptable about this incident and it is offensive to women and indeed to all members of the community,” AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson said in a statement.

“The AFL will work very closely with North to reinforce the messages in the (league’s) respect and responsibility policy that violence against women is never okay and that anything that can be seen to condone violence against women is never okay.”

Do you notice how they have concluded and assumed that the frozen chicken was a female? What does this speak of the society’s attitude itself, considering that there was no indication that the chicken was a female? They could be depicting same-sex intercourse for all we care: penetration is no longer only for male-female interaction.

All I’m saying is, maybe we should take a step back, and not be so narrowminded before we beat down worse on the videos’ creators just because two of them are famous players in the AFL. There’re tonnes of videos much worse out there (like this and <a href=”this.) and they don’t get such abuse because they’re just not that well known.

Yay… nay.

Posted in Thoughts by Sandra on April 2, 2009

I received an email from Swinburne today. There was a letter (.pdf) attached.

Letter

Euphoria! Hugs! Yay! Joy!

“Ok kitten, go find out how much we need to pay and by when!”

Settle down, and read the email in more detail.

“Please note that we were unable to offer you the original preferred course on your application form and we have offered an alternative package offer. Please note that the minimum entry requirement for Swinburne TAFE course is successful completion of an Australian Year 12 or equivalent.”

WTF?

Reality

So it turns out that Singapore’s GCE ‘O’ Level is only counted as an Australian Year 11. Most TAFE courses (except courses like floristry) require a minimum entry requirement of Australian Year 12. And apparently, that is a GCE ‘A’ Level.

Which means I’m fucked, because I have only my GCE ‘O’ Levels (with transcript) and 1 1/2 years’ worth of university (without transcript). And since I don’t have the transcript for my university, I’m a “Year 11”. I can’t help feeling like I’ve been fucked over by both paper qualifications and money.

That’s the con of university programmes like the one I was in: if you’re in, you’d better finish it till the end, or at least be able to get your transcript before you get out. I bypassed the need to take my GCE ‘A’ levels because the US degree programme allowed GCE ‘O’ Level graduates to apply, but as you can see, it’s not of much use because I don’t have transcripts.

And what the fuck? The foundation programme is 4 months shorter than my “principal course”, and is AUD $4,000 more expensive to boot.

I’ve written directly to the Director of International Admissions. I hope he responds quickly…

At this point, it seems that I must return to Singapore. I’ve started looking for temp jobs I can start working in for 3 months starting 17th April — 2 days after I would’ve gotten back to Singapore.

I don’t want to, though…

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