Brexit & war on young people

Unrelated thoughts that I want to ‘rant’ on.

I audibly gasped when my brother sent me a message, from the UK where he lives and works, that Brexit won. I know it’s reductionist, but I can’t thinking the xenophobic, immigration hating people.  And since it’s happened; I’ve seen other perspectives.  It may result in better trade for Australia with Britain with our cattle etc, as the EU has some strong agricultural limitations on trade.  Interesting ‘pro’ I’d not considered.  So far, though, the markets hate it.  And I think, like my workfroce undergoing restructure, people do NOT like uncertainty.  It could be 2-4 years until Britain fully disentangled from Europe.  The whole ‘Brexit’ camp have sold the idea that financially, they’ll be stronger – but no greater ‘how’ or plan…  So it shall be very interesting few years.

ABC, Australia’ public broadcasting network on radio and TV, ran a program called “War on Young People”.  I haven’t watched the TV program, but the preamble and the follow up on radio has got me very riled up.

First, young people, things don’t just come to you.  You have to work hard.  You both work hard at university, or not, but you also WORK HARD.  You will need to do work, hard work, to get ahead.  And… wanting something enough isn’t going to mean you “deserve” it.  I might actually ‘love’ to be an interior decorator.  But I work – I do something that is needed, that earns me money.  If I had chosen a different education path, I expect that it may not have had such profitable incomes, or as secure jobs with full time working weeks etc.  I don’t love my job, and not ‘work’ a day in my life.  I really enjoy my job BECAUSE I work hard, and that work brings rewards.  (to be clear, it also drives me bat shit insane at times too, but the majority of the time, it’s rewarding).

I don’t think Baby Boomers have ’caused’ the Gen Y to have less full time employment, a portfolio career. I think our economy and our race to reduce costs to increase profits, or the pursuit of growth, has resulted in a fractured workforce.  It has necessitated casual work, and non standard work hours.  It’s a slave to the ‘consumer’.  And in a tie back to topic one, I thought was unrelated, however, I do think the restrictions in the EU around Sunday trading, or round the clock big box stores, ARE for the better of the people, and perhaps, as has been the case in passing years, not for the economy.

I do think that property is expensive.  But I don’t think property should be something you can buy without ‘work’ – the work of savings.  I do think that owning a home, the cost to own a home should take a proportion of your salary.  I don’t think a mortgage + international holidays + all night booze ups + a new outfit every weekend and another hundred things aren’t anyone’s entitlements.  Buying a home was something I wanted to do, so I didn’t buy any clothes for a year.  And I’ve never had all night booze ups – and I’m happy to take the teasing – it’s resulted in me what I wanted (or one thing I wanted, which was to own property).  I do think negative gearing is a poor economic tool that’s being exploited by some.  I will also admit, the idea of negative gearing and capital gains tax is something I am and will likely benefit from.  So I have a bit of a tug of war on that Australian Federal election issue.

Overall, no, I don’t like that there is more casual work.  But I know why it exists.  And I do actually see the economic logic of not paying people for a holiday or a sick day.  I appreciate that I have these benefits, currently, in my full time job, but I remember moving from casual jobs to this one, and being aghast I could have no work, but I had to ‘act busy’ and I would still take home the same salary.  It just seemed disingenuous.  But I like that I can go to the grocery store at 9pm.  Or fill up on petrol after 5pm.  And casual work is part of how these unpalatable working conditions have been introduced.  What I find challenging is that staff, Gen Y, who have well paid, permanent full time jobs, who don’t work hard.  And then complain that they don’t have more overtime, or a pay increase.  That entitlement is galling.  Truth be told, of 45 staff, there’s probably as many Gen Y who are like this as other generations – I see it more as a personality trait, than a generational attribute!

I think I’ve run out of rant steam – but comment as you wish, and I might start back up!

PS I’ve partly had posting anxiety because I feel I must have graphic.  You all read novels. You can manage without pictures.  Sometimes.

Pain for Paris

It hurts me to hear of the horrible things in Paris. My heart aches. I pray for all those involved, those who know someone whose been touched by the fear, by the deaths, by the intensity of scrutiny on one another.

France is my soul’s home in so many ways. I want it to heal. I want it to be safe and secure and liberal and free and not scared.

Just as #illridewithyou, #portesouvert has started. Social media there to let us show our strength of humility and acceptance.

More to me than a job

Since the 18th August, so almost a month, in the new role, I’ve been grappling with the added commute.  Today, the boss asked me how I felt about the roll etc.

I am steadfastly unmoving in my rejection of a permanent role with a 2 hours commute per day. 10 hours a week!

My close colleague cannot understand it.

But I must be more than my job.  I must have time to do SES.  I need time to do errands.  To get a script for the GP and then fill that script – other than on my one day off a month (cause you never need it then).  I need to be able to volunteer my time to church or the coop or whatever next piques my interest and fancy.  I need to be awake enough to commit to seeing my family weekly, ideally.  Certainly not monthly! I need to feel like I could go to a movie or a meal on a weeknight, and not be wrecked for the next day and the week that follows.

Jo at All the Blue Day hit the nail on the head about who I am, when I read this phrase in her post today:

extreme busyness (joining the committee of every group we ever belong to, and becoming indispensable)

That can be me.  And in some regards, it can be a bad thing, but it’s part of the whole of who I am and what I do.  I don’t just want to be a worker.  I don’t just want to do good when I’m paid, and otherwise form a permanent imprint in the sofa! And the longer I’m away from home with work, the more I yearn to solely rest and work on the butt print!

The question is – at what level of pay will I be swayed?  The close colleague asked on the train ‘for half the pay, would you take a job closer to home’ – I clarified, half of my now wage (more than ‘usual’) or half of my base wage?

But I’d already done the sums.  I mean, that’s why I love to read personal finance blogs.

With a mortgage (and tenants) I’d need a $50k job to cover my costs.  If I was to sell my property (and not factor in drawing on savings, or the money earnt in that sale), I’d need $70k. So in answer, yes, I’d take a pay cut, and still be able to live in this lovely apartment, have some walking around money ($120 per week) and cover my essentials.  I even factored in $40 for public transport, which is about what it costs now.  I wouldn’t take international holidays without some pain, and I wouldn’t be buying things willy nilly.  But I could do it.

The question remains, at what price does a role exist that meets my criteria – namely, a reasonable commute from home?  Only time will tell.  But I am able, and willing, to put the money back on the table to get what I need.

The scurge of cheap stuff

In the last little while, there’s been a lot of advertising for Kmart and BigW (both the same sorts of stores, essentially lower priced department stores).  One of KMart’s slogans is ‘We make low prices irresistible’ – and on the surface, most people think that sounds great.  Who wouldn’t want to ‘get more for less’ or ‘make your dollar go further’.

And I do have a set of measuring cups ($2) and a double adapter ($3) and a powerboard ($15) from Kmart.  (Can you tell I’ve been doing my house inventory?)  It’s hard to buy a double adapter elsewhere, cause $3 is small change.

Recently, the cost has been weighing on my mind. How can something be THAT cheap?  How is it being made, to make it that cheap?  Will buying something more expensive be getting better quality, or just the same thing, produced in the same way, but overpriced .

Less than 6 months old, and close to non functional
Less than 6 months old, and close to non functional

It’s all very well to speak about buying ‘quality’  What is quality in a double adapter or a power board?  They are all plastics and electronics.  How do I know one is of a better quality than others? Am I buying a name brand, more than ethical production or safe production, or longevity?  And with electrical items, I’m not confident that ‘second hand’ is better.  I’m not even sure many thrift shops would be interested (or willing) to sell these items for fear of the repercussions should they not be electrically safe.  Or, I could ask for these items on freecycle – but the time waiting for a reply, and picking them up – is that worth it, when for $3, I could just have the double adapter NOW.

With measuring cups, sure I can buy metal ones (remember the Bradley Cooper lookalike?) I drafted this post long before I went to Vietnam, and bought metal cup measures, still made in China, that still get spots of rust after a run in the dishwasher.

I have been enjoying browsing and buying at op shops (known as thrift shops elsewhere), but I also get annoyed when they have signs of wear – something fraying a little, a stain I didn’t notice.  It’s almost like there’s no perfect option (even new items can end up shop soiled!)

It’s incredibly difficult to work out value, from price, and the ethics of production.  How do you reconcile these dramas?

Falling in love

I know most of my (known) readers are married, so it brings me to a question: how does it feel knowing you will never (or should never) romantically fall in love again?

The recent Father’s Day PostSecret post started me on these thoughts, here’s an example:

Postsecret 1
Postsecret 1

It’s not Father’s Day in Australia, we celebrate that in September.  However the above secret seems somewhat perverse to me.  To me, once you’re married, that’s it.  You make it work.  I strongly feel divorce is the last resort, and love is something to be worked on.  It’s not to say I think divorce shouldn’t exist – there are many situations where I think it is suitable.

I don’t miss my Dad (other than him being in Tahiti with my mother for three weeks!) cause he is a great dad.  And my mother and father are committed to their warts and all relationship, for that I am SURE!

I know, though, that I fall in love insanely often.  One year I counted at least five men I was romantically fixated on.  And this was as recent as before the current BF.  This wasn’t as a teenager.  If anything, I was hooked on one guy for longer then!  Is a fixation different to love – for sure! Is that insane level of curiosity and the desire to know more about them and spend more time with them the foundation of a relationship – most definitely.

One thing I wish, dream and pray for is to have a marriage as long, happy and stable as my parents.  It’s the only way strong families can be built, from a strong foundation in the two parents. But gosh darn do I worry about my ability to become attracted to someone else.

And of course there’s this:

I'm not single
I’m not single

How high is TOO high to set your standards on your life partner?  At church today, I spoke about this with a woman who’s husband passed away a year ago and she has daughters approaching their 40s.  Both her daughters married in their late fourties, one has children, one is still trying.  We spoke frankly – the good fortune of one to have children.  Of her long and happy marriage.  She confided that she mourned not so much the passing of her husband, but the passing of the idea of what he might have been! She said, he was wonderful to offer to make her a hot drink countless times a day (and now she seldom makes them herself without him).  But how she *still* wishes he had looked her in the eye more and said ‘I love you’ or ‘You don’t seem happy today’.

And this rocked me – here’s a woman who spent most of her life happily married to a man whom she admits she loved, and mourns but still wonders what could have been.  How he could have been better?  And whilst she didn’t say it, I felt there was a thought ‘if I’d been married to someone else’.  I asked her “What’s too much of a compromise?  What do you live with, so that you can have children and have a family?”.  There will always be times of doubts in relationships, surely…?

Presently, my BF is well aware of my most recent crush.  I feel that at least being honest, open and transparent I can help work through this.  Thankfully, the BF is not the jealous or non trusting type.  I feel like sometimes the ‘secret’ that comes from affairs is half the fun – the sneaking around, the hiding.  However, it IS unsettling to love your current partner, and to find yourself interested in someone else. Odd though it may be, perhaps it’s not all that uncommon.  How do you make these fleeting interests outside your primary partnership short lived and not destructive?

So many big questions – your wisdom and experience welcomed.

Career choices of children

Another (potentially) controversial article, although not touching at all on religion.  I like to explore issues by writing, but my aim is never to offend anyone.  If anything, I welcome people to provide me alternative points of view!

It’s a long time before I’ll have to worry about the career choices my children will make.  But then again, high school education is often the start of the path to (hopefully) teritary education that might lead to a qualification for a career.  And high school… well you get the picture.

My child WILL have a blue mortar board too! source: lovinthealien.blogspot.com
My child WILL have a blue mortar board too!
source: lovinthealien.blogspot.com

I am definitely part of the generation that ‘expects’ my children will receive a tertiary education.  At the same time, I internally criticise the quantity of degree qualified people in countries like the US who remain unemployed despite their qualifications, or require a second degree, such as a Masters or PhD to feel they are competitive in the job market.  I also readily agree that 100% tertiary education is probably both unrealistic, but not ideal for a society.  A high level of education isn’t needed for a great many jobs, and the investment (of time to start with but also financially) in tertiary education can also develop higher salary expectations.

source: www.arttherapyblog.com
source: www.arttherapyblog.com

I honestly find it difficult to imagine if my child was to ‘grow up’ to become an artist.  I’d worry they’d lack the work to maintain their lifestyle, at no matter what level, and would be dependent on either others (such as their parents) or the government.  Interestingly, I know more than one career artist who graduated from my private (and expensive) school.  I don’t know them well enough to be as coarse as to ask about finances, but I gather they make ends meet to some degree.

It’s entirely unrealistic and unfair to think I might force my child into certain career paths or courses solely based on the projected earning capacity.  That being said, is the love and passion for something that they’ll call a ‘job’ sufficient to overlook the realities of not being able to house, feed and clothe oneself?  I have no problems should there be some assurance that financial self sufficiency is possible and not just a dream.  I don’t discount doing what you love, but I’m enough of a pragmatist to also look at doing what you can do, that ALSO supports you!

Oh, and the BF, he’s on board too… So at least we agree with some things!

What are your thoughts – especially all you parents?

Private reading

In a post-cum-article innocuously called ‘To Read or Not to Read‘ I journeyed into the sorrow of a young woman making the final arrangements to empty the house she’d grown up in with her parents and brother.  There’s eight parts, and I’ve read at least half of them now.  The one linked above is about grappling with the decision to read her mother’s diaries.  I have, over the years, journalled intensely, then informally and now, not at all.  I have always wondered about the etiquette of the expectation of privacy, and should that be knowingly (and it is ALWAYS knowingly in my opinion) violated.

source: shopnectar.com
source: shopnectar.com

A while back, whilst tidying papers, I’d left a small sheet of paper on the kitchen table in the loft.  Whilst having a shower, the BF found, and read this sheet of paper, which was written in a moment of passion.  I use passion, but I mean the dark stormy fury and annoyance for which I’m known, and try to contain to the privacy of writing.  For some bizarre reason, I keep these notes, as a reflection of my moods perhaps. It was a very emotional night.

However, back to the path I plan to take this post in.  There is a paragraph in Olivia Judson’s To Read or Not to Read that speaks to me.

There are amusing comments on her suitors. One was “rather attractive, wrote well, but too intense and always convinced he was correct. We had violent arguments.” Another: “His solid presence and kind face and helping me to be cheerful. Bringing me beer and champagne and flowers. Dear sweet man … But he shares none of my interests. Doesn’t like reading or books, and I don’t know what he thinks about.” Another is “Very attractive, but somehow too wholesome.” And there’s heartbreak: “I adored that wretched man. He is hideous and small and unkind, but was like a snake and charmed … I was never so miserable in my life.” Another man caused her to write: “Oh God, what misery and sadness. I didn’t want to do anything except weep. I did that fairly well.” (Five years later, however: “He was very drunk by the end of the evening. Full of self-pity and himself. Really rather a bore. I couldn’t see what I ever saw in him. A middle-aged paunchy Communist.”)

I’ve often felt the need to summarise the thoughts and feelings after a failed romance.  Now, at a time that is separated from the heat of the emotion of a break up.  I pitched this concept to the BF and it spun off into the concept for a website called Letters to my ex.  I can see it being a huge viral success, as people anonymously (well, even with only first names, it would still appear somewhat anonymous in the world wide web) releasing their anger, or anguish.  Of the petty disagreements or arguments.  Of venting to others.  Perhaps of the things you’ve learnt, the mistakes that have helped you find the right sort of person to partner with.

I think my snippets might be a little less poetic than Olivia’s mothers.

Things like ‘He just oozed sex, to the destruction of all the lives he touched’ and ‘The charm that made him interesting enough to pursue was inevitably the undoing of the relationship.  It’s no longer witty on the n’th repeat’.

‘He thought his intellect was beyond compare.  He disapproved of the reading of anything fictional.  A authentic minimalist, one thing he didn’t think to flaunt for ‘cred’.

What would your one line snippets be about past loves?  What do you feel about the privacy of journal.

What are you hiding behind?

Quotables

I don’t often post other people’s content, but I loved this TEDx video.  I grew up with this woman as my newsreader, so I wanted to share it with you.

Tracey Spicer strips on stage

When I talked about the cost of being vain, I meant that I REFUSE to spend that much money, let alone time, on grooming.  Sure, the occasional fake tan and waxing for special occasions.  But I like I wear a uniform, which means I don’t need to wear high heels, or constricting bodycon clothes.  I don’t wear make up, or ‘style’ my hair.  I want to appear ready for anything in the field.  Yes, I still carry a handbag, but that’s for stuff…

What are your thoughts on women and appearance?

The limitations of green power

For irregular readers, I’m an electrical engineer in the power industry.  My day job was building new substations in suburban streets, and now my job is to do maintenance on these kiosk sub stations that supply houses, businesses and everything in between!

My capstone project (ie  my engineering thesis) was about micro hydro power in Guinea, near Indonesia.  Another student did a technical analysis, and went to the village it was installed in, whilst my thesis was about ensuring that matching technology to communities were assessed on all their needs, not just how many light bulbs!  A more transdisciplinary approach – which wasn’t truly ‘engineering’ but as a double degree student with an Arts degree, I think it was acceptable.  In any case, I got a Distinction (the only grading higher is High Distinction).

Part and parcel of my thesis preparation was to assess all types of renewable energy sources for the community.  I independently researched geothermal, solar, wind, biomass and hydropower.  The alternatives being used in these areas are largely diesel generators.

by Sahsa Calontiw source: technologygreenenergy.blogspot.com
by Sahsa Calontiw
source: technologygreenenergy.blogspot.com

Overall, micro or pico hydro are ideal for mountainous regions in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.  Their needs are small – lighting in evenings, safer cooking options rather than burning wood and the hazards of smoke.  In some cases, they have TVs. Essentially, there needs are small, and the technology is an appropriate size.

However – can renewable technologies work for our developed economies?  If you’re reading this, you  have to have electricity, and more than for a few hours a day!  The demand you and me create on the network is a whole different ballpark to these rural mountainous communities.  The problem with renewable energy sources is that storage isn’t simple – nor is storage simple with the current nuclear or coal based power plants.  The different with fuelled power plants is that you can ‘burn’ more when you know your going to have a peak demand on the network – in extreme weather conditions, in evenings when everyone’s home and cooking.  Renewables predominantly only work well with batteries.

source: www.smartwaterandenergy.com.au
source: www.smartwaterandenergy.com.au

Batteries have a number of drawbacks.  First, they aren’t cheap (yet), particularly the size you might need to store a few days worth of power.  There’s issues with the type of power you get – now you get AC power – a wave.  Batteries give you a straight line of power, no wave.  To get a wave, you need a rectifier. That’s before we talk about the heavy metals that make batteries.

The stats source: www.greenpower.gov.au
The stats
source: www.greenpower.gov.au

I totally support further research into renewable technologies, and battery storage.  I think the solution is the level of investment where renewables can meet base load, and coal or nuclear power cover the ‘peak demand’ that I mentioned before.  The reality is, though, that whilst renewables cost more per unit, it’s unlikely we’ll see the inversion of where we source our power.

What do you think about our power needs?  How do you feel green and renewable power sources should be used vs how they are used currently?