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.

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:
My child WILL have a blue mortar board too!

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.


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?

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:
by Sahsa Calontiw

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.


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:
The stats

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?