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.

It was a good week!

I’m delighted to report – what an awesome week.  Well, there were less than awesome bits, but I’d rather reflect on the great! (thanks to Tiff at Raising Lemons)

Today, two lines on a work graph intercepted.  In 12 days, we’ve done radical things and seen a rapid drop in a statistic we were getting hounded on.  And it’s all thanks to me, and an incredible team!

When I take the slow train, I'm treated to views like this!
When I take the slow train, I’m treated to views like this!

I’m running out of work to give them – I used to release a week’s worth to up to 12 crews – one crew got work issued for today, and will need more again next weekend, having finished it all already! They usually get new data on Wednesdays!!

I’ve started calling meetings – and people come.  And they listen.  This still sorta shocks me, cause I rebel against meetings.  I’m not rude, and I do attend, but I often go willing I didn’t ‘have’ to!!

Today’s meeting, there were actions completed by the end of the day! At this was a post lunch meeting!

Is anyone over my !!s yet?  Hold on, there is likely to be more.

The BF went away overnight (the night he’d usually be teaching and home late).  So I went and saw ‘Wasted’ a movie about trash by Jeremy Irons.  It was run by a local council and free to attend.  They fed us (with compostable plates). AND! They gave away keep cups.  They let me customise with the ones lined up, and I got one all tricked out in blue and green, and in use this morning:

Early for my express train so I treated myself to a delicious coffee.
Early for my express train so I treated myself to a delicious coffee.

And this talk’s location, there’s a direct bus from it to my home.  Who knew.  And I caught the last service of the night home.  Talk about well timed!

Tonight, I’m on the sofa til the airport pick up, indulging in my crack cocaine – garlic bread.  It is DELICIOUS.  So is this couch.  There might even be something sugary up next.  Ok, so health’s not a focus right now, but that’s a ok!

What went well in  your week?  What did you succeed at?



Getting stuff done!

In contrast to my last post, I pleased to report how I’ve knotched things up a gear in my personal life!

  • I went to SES on Tuesday despite horrible weather, thankfully we were indoors and playing with power tools.  My first time with a plane saw, grinder and nail gun.  FUN!
On the inside, I'm a tradie!
On the inside, I’m a tradie!
  • Thursday night, I ventured out in the drizzle to the new UTS building on Broadway, which happens to house the faculty I studied in.  Here’s a view from inside:
I don't see (modern) Hogwarts, but my FB friends did
I don’t see (modern) Hogwarts, but my FB friends did
  • A church ‘youth dinner’ on Friday night – there was just one guest, but many RSVPs so at least I know it’s in peoples minds
  • Saturday was brunch with a friend from my school years, and then walked her around our neighbourhood.  It’s such a pleasure to see my home and locale from someone else’s point of view.  She loved the diversity of new and innovative buildings as well as the older terraces.  The short walk from the city, and the views of it.  And lovely big trees as well
  • A couple of water polo friends cane around for dinner on Saturday, I attempted a pot luck but that’s not really an Aussie thing.  We had a huge pile of roast veggies (thanks Em), a pile of nachoes, and a self saucing chocolate pudding, plus lots of chatter as three from four of us had been overseas recently! (that ticks my goal of entertaining at home more too)
  • Made it to church this morning – people asked about my ‘holiday’ (I think they mean the past two weeks when I’ve chosen to sleep in perhaps?)  Anyhow, I garnered two more contacts for the youth dinners, and resolved some catering dramas which I’d been remiss in doing in the past few weeks due to work.  All’s well that ends well cause
  • The tea/coffee issues at church meant I went to the local Asian IGA, and optimised my trip by buying 6 varieties of dumplings from their freezer section.  The ultimate in tasty quick food for the nights where the BF and I have different schedules
  • I came home to hang out a load of washing, iron some work shirts whilst watching Project Runway, and then made a curtain to block the light a little better for the BF who gets up closer to 9am (!!) on weekdays! (!!)


Sadly the remnant wasn't long enough, but I see a future 'frill' hem... I did love the colour though, and it was thick enough to do the trick
Sadly the remnant wasn’t long enough, but I see a future ‘frill’ hem… I did love the colour though, and it was thick enough to do the trick
  • I was frustrated that one of my op shop shirt’s French cuffs didn’t have enough button holes to stop the cuffs from flapping.  I was thinking I might get a ‘mender’ at the dry cleaners’ to do it.  Then I googled the machine I have, worked out which foot to use (helpfully stored behind the machine) and gave it a whirl.  Here’s the result:
Sarah style buttonhole - I didn't have any thread other than black or white. But thankfully my cufflink works perfectly
Sarah style buttonhole – I didn’t have any thread other than black or white. But thankfully my cufflink works perfectly
Not the tidiest job, but free~!!!
Not the tidiest job, but free~!!!

And I forgot to mention (and I think I will try to draft a quick post) but…

  • I finished reading the bible – one of my 12 in 2 goals!!  I happened to read the last of it on the train from work to the airport to meet my brother, so it was a momentous day!

Now for the work week ahead… I have to remember to pat myself on the back more.  Remember that if I was asked ‘have you done everything you can to make it work’ I could honestly answer yes.  The results aren’t solely up to me.

How was your weekend?  Did you get a run on things you’ve otherwise been avoiding? (Yes, it would seem, I had been ‘avoiding’ socialisation if I’m perfectly honest!)

Yay! Friday!

Twice in three weeks, I’ve had the chance to take Friday off (one was sick leave, today is my one day off a month, which I’ve wholeheartedly earnt with extra hours worked!)

I plan to get the ‘pink slip’ for my scooter sorted, so that I can get it third party insured and registered.  It blows me away that once a year a 4 year old scooter needs inspection.  I suppose that’s why NSW (the state I live in) has so many new vehicles in comparison to states of Australia with less rigorous inspection periods. Consume, consume, consume!!

Oh, but it’s raining. Like most days in the past fortnight.  I’m not sure I’ve shared with bloggers my utter dislike of rain.  If I was God for a day, I’d make it always rain from midnight to 5am.  We could all plan around it!

Then this afternoon, I plan to meet my mother, a teacher who always gets a half day Friday thanks to it being the start of the Sabbath at her Muslim school, and she’ll escort me to my suburban tax accountant to do this year’s tax.  Last year, I found a local accountant, and the service was woeful.  Given my finances continue to get more complicated, being a landlord, earning more etc, I think sticking to a former accountant who seemed knowledgeable, helpful and did face to face tax, is a better bet.  Yes, I used to DIY my taxes, but now I just get everything prepped and meet the accountant.  There’s so much tax law I don’t understand, and given it changes annually, it’s good to have someone to nut it through with.

And should there be idle time around both of these, I shall read… thanks to whomever recently read and reviewed ‘The Girl you Left Behind’ I already love it, and love that it’s a weighty tome of WWI and France! Already got in a chapter or three before getting out of bed to take the BF to work. (Such a great GF right? To ensure he gets to work dry?  Not half as sweet as he was, to come at 10pm to my parents house (a good 30mins from our home) to pick me up last night, after having a reunion dinner.  The youngest of my two brothers returned from South America yesterday afternoon, after 9 months away!  Should you want to know about his navel gazing in the last month or two, here’s his blog: Not Finding Myself).

What’s involved with your day ahead?

One week in

Today marks a week in my new role with the longer commute, which I introduced in this post.  I thought I would touch base on how it’s all going.

In the five day week, I worked 4 days from my new office in Hornsby, and one whole day at my previous office in Chatswood (due to some meetings).  On the Monday, I started at my former office, and then packed up the car with my computer and moved.

The park near Central station
The park near Central station

Firstly, let’s talk about the cost of commuting.  When the company ended our use of company cars to travel to and from home, I bought an annual ticket from the City to Chatswood, which cost $1,400 (thankfully I didn’t have to pay upfront, but can get it deducted from my pay weekly).  The journey is $4.60 one way usually.  The trip from Central to Hornsby is $5.20.  Interestingly, buying the Chatswood to Hornsby portion? $4.60.  So I need to trade in my annual quick smart, so I stop essentially paying double for my travel!  Plus, the daily cash handover for a ticket slows down my commute.

And for the weather report – it’s been rainy, off and on, all week :s  Yeah, so an interesting week to transition!

Overall, the team seems enthusiastic – most of them were either dying for work, or dying to move further North.  It took me no time to settle into the new (much smaller) desk.  One of my team returns from a holiday on Monday, and that will mean the one extra person in our area will be gone. I look forward to having all my ‘people’ around me, and not other dramas adding to the chats!!

As to essentially doubling my workload – well, yikes! My role previously hasn’t been handed over to someone.  I also have 5 staff to lead and support in a role that didn’t previously exist (they essentially carved up the workload in Chatswood, sent some of it to Hornsby, and gave each office 5 people to work on what 7 people were doing before.  Logically, that should mean we have more people doing the same work, however, it’s not without hiccups.

Sydney city - from near my local library
Sydney city – from near my local library

The statistics I was tracking in my prior role, well, they’ve seen a recent upswing.  The rainy weather certainly doesn’t help our cause, but it’s frustrating to know numbers were looking good before my move.  It has nothing to do with me, but I always take extreme ownership of things I’m responsible for.  Furthermore, as a business, we’re not performing well in this area, so there’s been a bit of a crisis meeting called, and again, I can’t help but feel defeated that all our recent measures to improve performance in our area really aren’t paying sustained dividends.

As to life outside work? It doesn’t really exist! I went straight from work to the SES on Tuesday.  Every other day, I came home, and got into bed around 8.30pm to read and fall asleep.  There’s been no runs/jogging or similar, and that’s not great.  But my walk from the station in Hornsby to my office is hilly, and longer than my previous station to work walk, so that’s got to be good for me, I’m hoping!!  But my junk food intake has also been creeping, so I need to work harder to either exercising, or eating healthier.

Next week, I plan to implement the three Ps – for myself, and perhaps my team.  Productivity, positivity and p… I’m working on the third 😉 Suggestions?

*not a holiday post*

So, just to take a break from all the holiday talk – though there is more I’d like to post, and I should also confess to purchasing more flights and accommodation for a trip to New Caledonia with the BF in the first week of November…  Interestingly, all good posts need photos, right – these have nothing to do with the content of the post however! Enjoy!

My job role and job location will change on Monday (18 August).  I will go from working in Chatswood, to working in Hornsby, and commuting by train from my home in the inner city suburbs of Sydney.

Map of life
Map of life

Am I pleased with this change?


However, more or less since February,  I’ve been acting in a higher role.  The first 6 weeks, I blogged about here, here and here.  Those posts share how I struggled with the new challenges of managing staff, and with some incredibly thoughtful readers and commenters, I was able to make the most of what at the time I thought would a short term assignment.  That role managed staff, and carried the maintenance portfolio of the whole ‘north’.

Pictures at 5 August 571

However a few weeks later, I was asked to move into a role that previously had not existed.  This position was more or less a placeholder, and a slow move to the new structure and management hierarchy. It was a great opportunity, and again, for the first few weeks, I had no idea what the expectations of me were.  I was taking on ‘half’ of someone else’s workload, but for a long while, we both carried it all.  I put a stop to that, and drew an arbitrary and sensible line in what each of us would call ‘ours’.  That helped us from the torrent of CC’ed emails back and forth!!

So, from the second week of April, until the end of this week, I’ve come to enjoy this role as a senior engineer.

Pictures at 5 August 586

From Monday 18 August, I move into a newly created role, that mimics what I did in February, for a smaller geographical area – just half of the ‘north’.  With it, I will have staff, which the senior engineer role did not have (though I ended up working very closely with many staff, though not actually being their boss – which comes with countless dramas!).  I could have said no to this temporary assignment further North, but would have returned to my normal rank and file role as an engineer.  Since I moved to being a senior engineer, my position was backfilled, so it would have been awkward to say the least!

For an unknown but finite duration of time, I will continue to ‘act’ in the role in Hornsby.  At some stage, the positions will be formally advertised and all eligible candidates will apply. I will NOT apply for any of the (up to) three management roles in Hornsby.  This isn’t some blog secret – it’s something I’ve made clear.  There’s no money that would encourage me to a daily commute of approximately 2 hours by train and 1 hour walking.   Quite simply, instead of being paid for a ‘4o hour week’, I’m being paid for a ’65 hour week’ when I factor in my commute and that’s before we enter into staying back late here and there, or weekend or evening phone calls, due to the nature of the role.

Pictures at 5 August 600

Interestingly, (up to) three management roles will be advertised both at my current office, and at an office a short scooter ride, or easy run/walk from my home.  And whilst trying to remain somewhat anonymous about my company, most roles I have some experience in to make me eligible.  I am more than happy to put my hat into the ring, and should I not be the most meritorious candidate, to slip back into being a ‘rank and file’ staff member.  At least at that juncture, the public perception will be that I wasn’t successful at the interview. Currently, everything has been chess moves, rather than a formal requirement process.

We’re not looking forward to the move – that is the BF and me, nor my parents.  They all know the commute takes a lot out of you, and even the past few weeks have seen me be a little ‘zombie’ like.  The plan is to pay for a cleaner (who shall also iron my work attire), and to batch cook and freeze meals as much as possible.  The cooking will be a team effort, between myself, mum and the BF!  Other than that, I look forward to lots of time to read on the train – I’m steaming through my bible reading, and should be finished within a month.  Needless to say, my blogging might move to a trickle…  Though I should have a stack of time to read all your blogs!!  So everyone else, keep me entertained!

This and that

It would come as no surprise, but work has been insane.  Me blogging bloomed out of a less busy time at work, and now that work fills 40 hours and then some, and I still do many things after work, I’m finding blogging slipping by the wayside.
That, and a certain brand phone makes it SO much harder to share photos than my old phone (which couldn’t answer calls… so you can see why I stopped using that!)

Here’ some of what I’ve been up to:

State Emergency Service – mass casulty exercise a week ago

Moullage injury (ie injury made by make up)
Moullage injury (ie injury made by make up)
Close up of the 'injury'
Close up of the ‘injury’

Sunday early starts can be worth it.  This was my birthday gift for the BF last year

Sunday morning adventure for the BF
Sunday morning adventure for the BF (this is not him!)
This is ACTUALLY the BF, the last to land

Less than a month to my half marathon – last week, I found out I’m not built for them, according to my physio. So it’s a slow build and I hope I make it over the line intact!

Then a week later, I’ll be off for two weeks in Japan with the SES.

What’s new with you?

Things I learnt this week

1. Tall glass jars are the best thing to melt butter in the microwave with.  No nasty splatter, and no nasty plastic!  Also, it diswashered clean so well!

Old tomato pasta sauce jar... works a treat
Old tomato pasta sauce jar… works a treat

2. I can write a report.  OK not that I doubted my ability to write, but I tend to loath writing for work, as it usually serves ME no purpose (Gen Y, will you put your hand up!)  Alas, today I was lucky to have the opportunity to write a report which is basically going to put forward what I want/need to get the results in the section I’m overseeing.  I am proud of punch of my graphs, data and thoughts, so here’s hoping it goes down well!

3. Planned graffiti art can be pretty awesome.  I bet Dar likes this photo:

Way better than a wall full of tags!
Way better than a wall full of tags!

4. The bible isn’t all ‘fight, kill, die’.  So I’ve even enjoyed my last few days of reading on the train. The last two days I’ve read lots of Psalms, Proverbs and Daniel – it’s been pretty relatable in a way Ezekial makes me want to poke my eyes out (he’s now finished too though).  I’ve got behind in May, but I got through 4 weeks worth of Psalms and Proverbs in short time, so that’s promising.  Proverbs has been like reading a ‘quotes’ book – some great things to live life by I think!

Seen on a real van. Shared with you, just because
Seen on a real van. Shared with you, just because

5. I didn’t learn this, but I taught someone.  A customer complaining about a street light outage got a call back from me.  He asked ‘why are some yellow and some white in light colour?’  The answer is, some are mecury lights (being phased out) and some are sodium lights.  Also, there’s a preference in suburban streets for the ‘warm’ yellow light, but main roads tend to preference white, as it’s better light quality and less fatigue inducing.  Anyhow, we have a smattering of both types more or less everywhere, as there isn’t the capital to bulk change the fittings to all one lamp type – they only get adjusted as they die a horrible death (the fitting, not just the globe).  So there you have it – not all gospel truth, but as best as I recall it!`

That is all for now – what have you learnt this week?

Chit chat

There’s no great overarching theme of this blog – or this post.

This weekend, we went to an engagement party at the surf club at Maroubra Beach.  It was (likely) a ‘friends’ celebration of their January nuptials, and we thought it was a good cost saving measure.  A nice relaxed afternoon do with drinks and Mexican food (and delicious cupcakes).  And the upside of some gifts 😉  Speaking of gifts, I was stumped.  First I thought a tray, but the BF found out they already had three. Then I thought a cake slice… but they are all silver plated now, and while the costs vary, it hardly seems ‘worth it’.  Maybe I should look harder for old fashioned silver ones?  In the end, we I bought something that I thought would last, and stands to my values:

Hidden in the bottom is Vera Wang Serviette rings
Hidden in the bottom is Vera Wang Serviette rings
The marring couples initials... weirdly WAY more stock of embroidered ones than blanks (the rest are blanks)
The marring couples initials… weirdly WAY more stock of embroidered ones than blanks (the rest are blanks)

I’d have wrapped it in cello if I’d had some ‘leftover’ from something else, but I didn’t. So I took it naked…

We also bickered about cooking.  Since ending the 12 week body transformation program (I lost 8kg overall), we’ve lapsed into lazy DINKs.   It doesn’t help that my new role, which started a month ago and runs until the end of financial year (perhaps, likely longer) and some big pitches for the BF, and there was a lot of pizza and McDonald’s.  It’s weird that McDonald’s is SO successful and so polarising.  Anyhow, on Sunday morning I escorted school children for the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal.  As a reward, the certificates come with a card for a free Big Mac or Wrap.  Alas, we’ve agreed to one cheat meal a week, so they’ll have to wait.  Although… seems home cooked baking is still slipping through.  Last week it was pear and pecan muffins, this week I made date loaf, and a caramel cheesecake for the bf.  He did get a Cheesecake Shop one for his actual birthday (time crunch again), but I promised a ‘real’ one.  I do much prefer the aftertaste of a homemade one… and there’s no pesky coconut in the base.

My new role is part of the interim structure until this last layer of management is finalised.  I’m in a role that doesn’t really exist yet, but will, in a slightly unknown but different form.  In any case, it’s an opportunity to learn more about another part of the company, and make some in roads in ways I’m becoming known for.  Basically, my first ‘new job’ in the last calendar year saw me reduce outstanding works from ~700 “urgents” to ~150.  Now my new portfolio has suffered a simple spike, thanks to a better website, but needs to move from 800 to a more reasonable number.  Naturally, that’s not my only focus, I’m also getting involved in investigations, which often lead to disciplinary interviews.  Taxing, to say the least.  The role also requires more hours, and has less earnt days off.  I suppose it’s all a concession for more money in the bank (which I didn’t need, nor really want… time is far more precious).

My half marathon preparation isn’t incredible – but I’m still trying to get in 2-3 runs a week.  This weekend, I ran around the beautiful botanic gardens and the harbour with a school friend.  The powers of social media – we both went to school in another city, and she lives in a third city now!  She’s a gun runner too – so she pushed me hard.  Glad it was only a short run though!!

So there you have it – just a chatty update about life… Seeing I’m diligently reading and commenting on your blogs, I thought I should come out of the silence…

How do you handle meals and planning when things get busy?  Any wisdom?

First world problems (and solutions)

Today was my first day back at work.  My first day at work without a car to my sole use, to shuttle me in 20 minutes for the calm streets of the inner city, to a small satellite city 20mins drive away.

I awoke at the same time as usual (5.45am) and figured I’d get to work when I did – rather than adjusting my wake up time any earlier to accommodate the new misfortune of no (wholly and solely free) car.  I left home at 6.15am, rather than 6.40am, but I was OK.  I didn’t feel rushed or put out.

I arrived at the train platform close to work at 6.57am.  There goes my previous start time of 7am, as it’s a 10-15 minute up hill walk.  Seeing the bright side, I walked to the cafe (where I’m well known for stopping in the driving days), and took the hill with pride.  Look at me – all this incidental fitness, before mere mortals (like the BF) have even stirred from their sleep.

The trains of Sydney source:
The trains of Sydney

Arriving at work, I had blisters on my heels.  Thinking nothing of it, I swore to change to my ‘comfy’ boots under my desk.  Then I embarked on trying to enter the fortress known as my work.  Despite having the security clearance, there was no way to access the property on the three closest sides (one being a train line, the other two, both locked with keys safely stored in my desk, since relinquishing my car).  Still – more exercise, and arrived at my desk before the logical new start time of 7.30am.

Alas, the homeward bound journey was almost as fruitful (escape as difficult as entry again!)  I left work at about 4.15pm, a touch more than was required of me (and duly noted, as I have to accrue one day off a month in the new role, by documenting what I did beyond standard hours).  I walked to the train station, caught a train, arrived at my home platform at 5.03pm and was home by 5.20pm.

All in all, I worked (and travelled to/from) for 11 hours.  I used to manage 9.5 hours.  Losing another 1.5 hours makes me think about a lot of things:

+ I’m getting about 45-50 minutes more incidental exercise

+ I’m using public transport which I support from an environmental standpoint

+ I’m saving money – buying a car would be far more than my $1200 annual train ticket.  Even adding a daily coffee, I think I’m till ahead.

+ I get to see more of the ‘magic’ hours of the day – sunrise and sunset

Cairns at 5.45am: I promise to share more about my holidays when I learn to liberate the photos
Cairns at 5.45am: I promise to share more about my holidays when I learn to liberate the photos

– I have less time for running and fitness like before

– I’m getting hot and sweaty in my work uniform – more washing than before 🙁 (But I was thinking of Dar in the snow and freezing conditions)

– I get blisters

– I have less hours to myself each day, which might result in less sleep

Come find me stalkers source:
Come find me stalkers

My promotion is temporary until the new structure is formalised, and there’s strong encouragement for me to apply for the management team.  With that, there’s every chance of a novated lease arrangement with a car, as part and parcel of the role.  So there’s no point rushing to buy a car until at least June 30 2014.

The negatives can be optimised.

I can travel in ‘free’ clothes rather than my uniform.  I could even travel in work out clothes and runners, which don’t cause blisters, and tack a park session onto my homebound journey.  Have I mentioned my ‘home’ station is spitting distance from the BF’s work? Probably not – this would mean we could meet and walk home together after my work out.  All I need to facilitate is getting washed and ironed clothes to work, and change there each morning.  I could even make a ‘clothing run’ once a week or fortnight by car, which is still better than a daily or more regular journey.

Well from what could have been a whinging post, I think I’ve found some valid solutions from normal days…