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Archive for August, 2010

Being ripped off

Being able to travel or buy things online from overseas makes you realise just how much New Zealanders are being ripped off.

A colleague recently returned from a trip to the States and had bought several shirts/tops for less than US$20 each. Here the same item is well over NZ$100, often closer to $200. They’re all made in China anyway, so we really are being ripped off.

I haven’t given up the family habit of shopping around. Looking on TradeMe, I might find a DVD or book I want, then check the prices on Amazon (both the US and UK sites) and NZ retail stores online. It certainly pays. I recently bought a British comedy series from Amazon UK and it was only $20 including postage. I also bought the DVD of an Australian movie from an Australian website and it was less than $30 and yet I’ve seen the video locally (video not DVD) for about $80 (because it’s rare). I’ve been wanting the Monty Python TV series on DVD and often can’t find it in shops. Online it seems to sell for close to $100 for the boxed set. On Amazon UK it was about 12 pounds. I ordered that and a DVD series about photography my daughter wanted for NZ$55 total including postage. Incredible.

Is it any wonder that many NZers struggle financially? What they buy is often dearer than in other countries, yet their salaries are much lower.

Yep, it pays to shop around. Thank goodness for online shopping!

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I think

I think I’m mildly depressed.  Perhaps it’s the constant greyness and damp.  My house is cold and damp and depresses me.  My last electricity bill was huge, probably due to the dehumidifier.  I’m sick of the ads on TV about making your home energy efficient with this, that and the other.  That’s fine if you have thousands of dollars to spare.

Whatever the reason, I’ve lost all motivation.  I’ve lost interest in belly dancing, Spanish, bothering with any genealogy, even playing games.  I probably need a good holiday but I’ve set aside most leave for November and would like to start the new year in summer with a few days up my sleeve.

I headed into town at lunchtime to do some grocery shopping – the cupboards are bare.  I felt disconnected, like I was observing everything from a distance.  I didn’t look at anyone – just took stuff off the shelves and went and paid for it and came home again.  Stuck a quiche in the oven for lunch and played the computer game of Settlers of Catan.

I bought a couple of pairs of jeans a  couple of weeks ago but need to take the hems up, but I can’t be bothered.  The place needs tidying, but I can’t be bothered.  I need to make plans for my birthday, but I can’t be bothered.

I wonder if it’s because my daughter has barely been home this week.  She was out staying over with friends on Tuesday and Wednesday night, returned Thursday night and was out again Friday morning.  She may or may not be back tonight (Saturday).  I doubt it.

Perhaps it’s a combination of the weather, dampness and being alone.  I think I’ll go back to my book.  I’m reading “The girl who played with fire” by Stieg Larsson.  I read his “Girl with the dragon tattoo” a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it.  I haven’t seen the movie.  This sequel is just as good.  I haven’t seen the movie.

The music’s stopped and it’s got dark – the clouds have gone a darker grey, and it’s only 3.15pm.  Ho hum.

Here comes the rain again.

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My computer’s graphics card died causing the computer to crash in the middle of a game and refusing to display in anything but safe mode (and even then the graphics were terrible).  The place I bought my computer from has now inconveniently moved to the outskirts of town and reduced their hours to 3-5 pm.  How ridiculous!  I asked a couple of others where to take the computer to because I didn’t know what sort of graphics card was needed.  One person said he took his computer to a place in town near UCOL.  So I did that, dropping it off on Wednesday morning.  They said they’d order the correct graphics card and have it ready the next day.  Well the next day came round and I had to ring after 4pm to find out what was happening.  The graphics card didn’t work so they’d ordered another one.  Same deal.  Friday loomed and no word again by 4pm so I called once again.  The graphics card hadn’t arrived and they’d searched around urgently for another and hopefully all would be well on Monday.  I won’t utter the words I’m thinking but I’m not impressed.  If I’d known what card I needed I could’ve ordered online and got my daughter’s boyfriend to install it.  I imagine I’m going to pay 100s for the privilege of getting some idiot company to do it (eventually).

In the meantime I’m using my crappy laptop which has serious problems.  It was running very slowly and I ran a couple of scans and got rid of some problems and it all seemed well for a while.  This morning though, it was even slower than usual, taking about 10 minutes for anything to load whether it was online or offline.  I wasted over 2 hours trying to do normal stuff or find out what the problem is.  I’m currently running an online scan (my installed virus/spyware scanners found nothing) but it looks like it’s going to take hours and hours to complete.  It’s been going for over an hour and is still only at 18%.  Frustration is too mild a word.

I watched a DVD last night and after it finished I saw that there looked to be a couple of good movies on TV.  The newer, better movies always seem to play late at night, finishing after midnight.  I watched “Casanova” for a while and thought it rather lame, then switched over to the other channel to watch “Sunshine” a sci-fi thing.  It was so very predictable, following the usual formula of a crew of half a dozen or so who slowly die off, starting, of course, with the non-white crew and/or selfish/stupid.  Just a couple of people are left and it remains for the hero to complete the mission.  As if that wasn’t enough, they throw in some insane zombie with a vaguely German accent (a baddie naturally) who tries to sabotage everything.  Finally the hero rides a box inside the sun (while still fighting the zombie) and barely breaks a sweat.  It ends with him appearing to touch the flames of the sun and then some love of his life playing in the snow with a kid near the Sydney Opera House when suddenly the sun comes out almost as if from behind clouds.  What utter rubbish.  I was amazed to find the average score at IMDB of 7/10!  I gave it a 4.

The DVD I watched was far superior to both movies.  It was an Argentinian one called Nine Queens (Nueve Reinas, in Spanish with subtitles) and was very good.  I’d give that one an 8/10.

Talking of Spanish, I had to miss the class last week because of an AGM (and I was secretary so had to be there).  I stepped down as secretary and will take delight in handing all the paperwork over to my successor.  I think I will miss belly dancing class this week and do my Spanish homework instead.  We usually receive it before the weekend so I can print it off but it arrived last night so I will have to do it Monday or Tuesday night.

I sincerely hope, by then, that my computer will be back in action.  In the time it’s taken to come to this site and update my blog, the scanner has moved 2%.  At least I appear to be able to access websites fairly quickly compared to this morning but I can’t be bothered doing anything.  I’ve over Twitter and Facebook, I think.  I’d rather play my computer version of “Settlers of Catan”.

On that note, I think I’ll have some lunch (even though it’s now 3pm) and play another game.

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Brief update

Nothing much to report. In better mood, thankfully.

I received yet another Christian email from my religious friend this morning. The subject line was “Please read if you love God”. I was about to delete it as I do all the others when I thought – here’s an opportunity to respond to the “if”. I was going to say “I don’t love God” but I simply said that “Sorry, I am not a Christian” and hit “Send” (resenting at the same time that I felt the need to apologise). I wonder what sort of response I’ll get, if any. He may have been under the mistaken assumption that I’m Christian all these years and it may come as a shock or perhaps he just sends these things to his “nice” friends. Who knows. He obviously doesn’t know me well.

Friday today. I’m glad. Older daughter coming up this evening and younger daughter bringing boyfriend round for dinner so it will be a full house.

Back to work….

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I was woken early Saturday morning by an idiot across the road revving his car up and leaving it running for about 15 minutes. (My house has very thin walls.) This made me incredibly irritable. However, I had also been a bit grumpy on the previous two mornings so maybe it was just a continuation. I wondered why, as I usually get the grumps just before a period but I haven’t had one now for about 3 months. Perhaps it’s the hormones of menopause kicking in. In any case it put me in a shitty mood the whole day and by the end of it I felt quite depressed. My daughter was out from Friday morning and didn’t actually get back home until Sunday and I had a glimpse of my future – alone and miserable in a damp and messy house. It was enough to make anyone depressed. Drinking wine naturally didn’t brighten my mood. I had been invited to an afternoon event on the Saturday but I was feeling too grumpy and anti-social (ironically) to go.

I didn’t think I was grumpy this morning but at work we had a morning tea to mark the beginning of a staff member’s new duties and the person next to me (A) was making snide remarks about a person she ‘hates’ (B) First she believed B hadn’t brought a plate of food and said that person shouldn’t be permitted to eat anything. When B did put a plate of food down, A made some snide comment about her making a big show of it. The male member of staff, incidentally, never brings anything either and I think he’d heard her comments and he barely ate anything.

Normally, I would ignore all this and decided to, but during conversations over the table of food, mention was made about Australian movies and why not many appear in our cinemas. A (the sarcasm queen) made the comment “because we don’t care”. It pushed a button – I get sick of her racist comments. Without thinking I pointed to her and said “SHE doesn’t care… she’s anti-Australian”. Well, that shut her up. She may not say a word to me for the rest of the day and that suits me fine. The others may have been embarrassed by my outburst but I get fed up. Another comment from someone else after a question was put about the origins of Australians. “They’re all convicts”. “Not all” I said, “my Australian family are not convicts”. “Prove it” said B beside me. “I can” and that shut her up as well. I get so fed up with the anti-Australian racism in this country. Kiwis reckon they’re not racist. I’ve come across plenty.

So again, I’m not in a particularly cheerful or social mood. And I don’t give a damn.

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Last weekend was quite enjoyable.  I had Friday off to do various things and it was beautiful weather-wise.  On Friday night I got a phone call from a belly dancer from my class asking if I was going to the birthday party near Levin the following night.  She knew the guy and he wanted belly dancing there and the theme was medieval.  I’d actually forgotten about it (she’d mentioned it at the Tuesday class) and so I said yes.  It was a chance to wear one of the medieval gowns I’d made when I used to do medieval dancing.

It was another beautiful day on the Saturday and I got prepared (taking the new purple top and belt for the belly dancing) and headed over to the woman’s place.  From her place we went to another belly dancer’s place in town and then transferred to her car to drive to yet another belly dancer’s place near Shannon.  Then we all went in that dancer’s van to the birthday party.  The evening was stunning – beautiful sunset during which I saw a silhouette of Mt Taranaki.  Some of the guests were dressed in medieval gear, some weren’t.  Most were outside in the cold where there were braziers burning and a couple of dogs to eat the leftovers from the hangi and barbecue.  Thankfully we danced inside out of the cold.  We did about three dances then three other dancers from Levin/Shannon did a couple of dances also.  It all went fairly well except for the fact that a few coins fell off my brand new belt.  That’s what you get for ‘cheap’ costume items, I suppose.

My online shopping hasn’t stopped despite me saying I would after my recent splurges.  At the birthday I played the zills of one of the other dancers and they had such a nice tone that I could not go back to my nasty ‘cheap’ zills which sounded horrible in comparison.  So I searched for zills on Trademe and a seller had a sale on some.  They were a good brand (I did some research) so I bid for them and just received them today.  They are way better than my others.  My daughter can have the old ones if she decides to take up belly dancing again.  If not, I can always try to sell them.

The buyer of one of my items on Trademe has yet to pay, a week later.  The person (who had negative feedback) contacted me 2 days after the sale saying she’d pay on the following Wednesday.  Today I contacted her and she claimed she was sick and would pay on Monday.  Despite this, she appears to have paid for other items for auctions which finished the same day as mine.  I’m thinking if she doesn’t pay by next Wednesday I’ll relist and give more negative feedback.  What a time-waster!  Why do I bother? It’s only $5.50 for gods sake.

I also bought 2 DVDs – no, make that 5.  I bought 3 DVDs at the Warehouse (3 for $20) and bought 2 online – one of a movie I’ve been wanting to get for about 3 years (Leon, the Professional) and the other of an Argentinian movie which my Spanish teacher recommended (Nueve Reinas).  I’ve seen trailers for both of them and they look pretty good.  So much for not buying anything more online!  I blame the Warehouse purchases on the fact that it’s a place to while away the time while waiting to go to belly dancing – looking through cheap DVDs and CDs uses up a nice chunk of time.

So another weekend ahead of me.  I have nothing planned.  I might practise playing the new zills and try to play while dancing and I’ll also practise on the bodhran (which I’m not very good on yet even on the basics, dammit – it’s not as easy as they make out).  I also have Spanish homework of course.  I got 2 Spanish DVDs out of the library and might watch them.

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I could never make a salesman.  Whenever there were raffles or chocolates to be sold to raise funds for a school, etc, I could never sell more than half a dozen or so.  I just don’t like badgering people to buy something they may not want to.

My lack of ability to sell has transferred itself to TradeMe.  With all the buying I’ve been doing lately, I thought I might sell a few items and so started with a couple of items.  I put up a belly dancing double cd and 2 Pink Panther DVDs.  They were up for a week and there were a few watchers but no bidders.  I’d only asked about $4 for each so it wasn’t going to break anyone’s bank account.

I relisted them and no-one wants the DVDs.  The belly dancing CD sold – for $4.  It didn’t even get above the starting price.

I listed a dragon ring which I’d never worn and put it up for $3.  Some idiot asked if it was sterling silver – at that price?  The bid reached a staggering $4.50 BUT the person who won the bid has a fair bit of negative feedback for not completing the sale.  Great.  Just great.

Do I bother trying to sell a book?  Whenever I’m looking for a book to buy on TradeMe they’re listed at about $10 each but when I put one up for sale at half that they don’t sell…   When I was selling the belly dancing CD mine was the only one.  Other similar CDs were listed at a minimum of $10 – for second-hand!  Quite a few are listed at more than that – come on now.  Such prices for second-hand CDs is totally unrealistic.  And yet they sell and mine struggle to.

Why bother?  This is why I’ve often ended up giving stuff away.   But I’m unlucky like that – I end up buying at full price and selling for virtually nothing while others find amazing bargains and get a good price when selling.  I think it’s a family curse.

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