Sunday, December 31, 2017

On the bright side

My family is notorious for its pranks. As a result bathroom doors are locked during showers and innocuous gifts are routinely inspected. 

A few weeks back the junior prankster succeeded in pranking the prankmeister. Time went by and it looked like he got away with it, too. 

This morning I heard muffled screams coming from the shower. They didn't sound like mortal terror, more like "quit it" type screams; I figured the prankmeister had dumped ice cubes over the shower curtain onto the junior prankster. 

Um, no.

The dripping wet junior prankster stuck his head out of the bathroom and shouted "There's a crab in my shower!" 

Apparently as he was showering he heard a clanking noise by his feet and looked down. The drain cover then started to move aside and a dark hairy something waved out of the drain. 

Commence the screams.

He jumped out of the shower but looked back in to see a softball sized mud crab covered in hair from the drain pull itself out of the drainpipe and then try to exit the shower stall.

Um, no. 

On the bright side, at least we know the drains are clear.     

Monday, June 26, 2017

Where to look for a rental in Suva

Flotsam and Jetsam bits of advice from a variety of sources:

"I suggest you use a real estate agent. Make sure it is a licensed real estate agent. They know the market, they know pricing, they can be real advocates. Keep in mind that THEY DON'T WORK FOR YOU. The landlord pays one month rent to the real estate agent, so their priority is going to be renting the house. That said, they do have a code of ethics and standards they must maintain, there is also a board you can complain to if you run into problems." 

"Did you know there is a rent freeze in effect in Fiji and that unless the house has been totally renovated the rent can't go up?"

"Landlords will try to get you into bidding war with another renter so they can raise the rent. You can complain to the Fiji Commerce Commission but you have to have proof of what the last renter was paying (their lease) and a copy of your lease. If they don't rent the house to you you can't do anything" 

(got a comment to include? PM me and I can add it to the blog or add it in the comments) 
Amerika's advice: Hire Interactive Transitions to help you with all aspects of your move. If you decide to do it on your own, ask the price, street number and address of the house first - sometimes houses are listed with more than one agent or in more than one place. Also, be sure to ask about your list of your must-haves, like hot water, screened-in windows, ceiling fans, air conditioners in each bedroom or common areas, a refrigerator, a washing machine, a dryer, a cooktop -stove-or range, an oven. If you are in a shared compound, ask who takes care of the common areas. Also ask who pays for things like fumigation and pressure washing/water blasting the driveways/walkways. Dishwashers and bathtubs are somewhat uncommon. Water backup and either a generator or the ability to hook up a generator is good.

If you're looking for a place to rent, use your network (employer, parents from school, church members, people in your clubs, people at the gym, anybody who might possibly know of available house).  Because the market in Suva is still pretty tight there are a significant number of places that rent without ever being listed publicly. Sometimes new tenants will sign a lease the same day that the moving tenants announce they're leaving. The biggest crunches are at the end of the year and at midyear (summer/winter solstice), if you have the chance to move at one of the equinoxes you'll find the market a little softer. 

         # Members    Name of Group

Saturday, June 24, 2017

I'm asking for a friend. Really. Well, most of the time.

First off you have to know that I'm incredibly curious. I once went with a store manager friend to another store just so I could see how inventory transfers worked in their system. I drove out to a spice farm with another friend that was running errands. I talk to people in line. There doesn't have to be a reason, I just like learning new things.

I also ask things on behalf of other people. I mean, like ALL the time. Sometimes I ask on behalf of another person because the other person doesn't want to deal with the followup questions. (Ex: 90% of my discussions with car dealers) Sometimes I ask on behalf because the question is a little too personal (do you know a lice picker?) And sometimes I ask because I'm walking by a location and I think they might know the answer.

One morning I fielded a question about pharmacies. I answered it as best I could and didn't think much of it. By chance later that day I happened to be walking by a free reproductive health clinic and I had time on my hands, so I ducked in.

"A friend of mine is looking for long acting reversible contraception, like the implant or an IUD. Do you have these?"

They looked at me blankly. Turns out I walked in the office portion of the clinic, not the patient side. I was escorted down a hall and into a private area, another staffer came out to talk to me.

"How can we help you?"

"A friend of mine is looking for long acting reversible contraception, like the implant or an IUD. Do you have these?"

"Our services are free and confidential. What is it you need?"

"A friend of mine is looking for long acting reversible contraception, like the implant or an IUD. Do you have these?"

"Everything here is free. What can we help you with?" 

I suddenly realized that the nurse thought I was too shy to explain what I wanted. 

"No really, I'm asking for a friend!"

Realizing that she probably didn't think there was a "friend" I quickly called up the original asker (see, I told you I was asking for a friend) and put her on the line with the nurse. 

Everybody got their questions answered that day :) 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Humidity Proof Makeup Tips

I have a confession: I'm actually a kid inside, I'm perpetually curious and I'm always asking questions. A couple of weeks ago this kid got to play at the candy store for grownups: the MAC makeup counter at Tappoo City. You can see our pics on instagram, for days afterwards I had additional questions coming in via PM or when I ran into people. Here are the answers to the questions that came in after our makeovers

1) Liquid matte lipstick - is this a new thing or has it been around for a while?
Liquid matte lipsticks have been around for a while now probably 8 years or so.

2) how can someone tell the difference between fakes and real MAC cosmetics?
You can usually tell fakes by then packaging if not bring your products to the MAC counter at Tappoo, we can compare them to ours and the shade difference tells it all.

3) Do you have any general tips for makeup in heat and humidity?
Ice face or wash with cold water then apply makeup it stays in this ridiculous heat. If not stick to minimal makeup, adding foundation to moisturizers and maybe waterproof products, if it doesn't irritate.

4) Do you have any general tips for foundation in Suva when your tan may change from one day to the next?
Mixing it with your moisturizer and applying should help, another option is keeping two foundations, a lot of people do that, it's a summer and winter routine. If you only want to have one, keep a darker foundation as looking darker in photos looks better than ashy.

5) Any makeup tips for going away/resorts/weddings, etc
Same as 3 and 4, and packing light. Find neutral shades for shadows and such that will go with everything you wear, unless you don't mind packing extra and matching shades according to outfit

Once again, thank you to the staff at Tappoo City and MAC cosmetics, I'm sending everyone your way for expert advice!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fish. It's What's For Dinner.

Ni Sa Bula Vinaka! We are now taking orders, email your orders to Orders close today Thursday the 1st of June at 7pm. Free delivery tomorrow Friday the 2nd of June between 12noon & 5pm. Please note, all orders are cash payment on delivery (COD) and don't forget to include your delivery address with a mobile contact.  Items available this week are; • Fresh Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi fillets - $25 per kilogram • Fresh Sail fish fillets - $14.50 per kilogram 1. Pre Packed 150grams Cold Smoked Blue Marlin (Thinly sliced) - $7 per pack 2. Pre Packed 150grams Cold Smoked Yellowfin Tuna (Thinly sliced) - $6 per pack 3. Pre Packed 150grams Cold Smoked Albacore Tuna (Thinly sliced) - $5 per pack 4. Pre Packed 500grams Yellowfin Tuna Kokoda cuts/Curry Pieces/Sweet & Sour Cubes (Boneless fish cubes) - $9 per pack 5. Pre Packed 500grams Blue Marlin Minced Meat - $12.50 per pack 6. Yellowfin Tuna Steaks (2 steak per pack) - $27.50 per kilogram 7. Blue Marlin Steaks (2 steak per pack) - $20 per kilogram  All fish are offloaded from our boats than filleted and vacuum sealed at our HACCP certified processing plant.  The delicious cold smoked thinly sliced fish & is ready to eat packs are intended for Sushi, Salads, Sandwiches, Pastas or as a Pizza Topping and is the best substitute for the Canned Products.  For more details about the product please visit and like our FaceBook Page:   Cheers, Filipe Rogers Phone: +679 7088537 Sales ManagerI met with a tuna expert a while back and asked where he got his fish, fully expecting him to direct me to a market vendor or a shop in town. Instead he said he got his delivered. Your mileage may vary, but I've had good experiences with Gene's Premium Seafood ( email below) as well as Farmright Fish

Fish notes:
I use the kokoda cuts as I would boneless skinless chicken.  The 500 gram packs defrost quickly and cook up easily, these are on my weekly shopping list
Sailfish can be gamey but does well brined or marinaded, can be meaty enough to put on skewers and bbq'd
Blue marlin is sometimes used in sashimi as a replacement for tuna

Is this helpful? What have your experiences been?


Thursday, March 23, 2017

No cards, no problem

"My business cards never came. What do I do?"

7AM. Holiday Inn Suva. Due to packed Thursday schedules I was catching up at breakfast with an out of town friend before our first appointments of the day. Thanks to daily instant messaging across the miles we were already caught up on family and life, our conversation looked like it was headed into deeper waters of life goals and career plans when it tripped and fell over "My business cards never came. What do I do?"

Newly hired, my friend had been assured that the cards would arrive before it was time to leave for this trip. They didn't. Thursday was chock full of back-to-back appointments from 8:15 AM - 3PM and not enough time for even my favorite local printers to churn out a set of these ubiquitous pieces of colorful pasteboard.

I quickly shared my top three tips for moments like this:

  1. Business cards aren’t needed to network! Not having a card can actually be a good thing. If you give away your card, you are dependent on the person who has it to initiate contact. Asking for a business card is a compliment to the person you are requesting it from as well as gives you the necessary contact details to follow up. 
  2. Technology has your back. Although you don’t have cards in hand, you probably have a cell phone nearby. Send a quick text with your name and email as well as a brief comment that will tickle the recipient’s memory about how and where you met.
  3. Don’t apologize! You didn’t do anything wrong (at least not in this example). It’s awesome to have cards, but not having one is not the end of the world. If you apologize, especially if it’s the first time you meet, others may doubt your abilities and skills. Lead with grace and say "Thank You!" instead. Expressing your appreciation for their understanding creates a sense of positivity, and that’s an awesome way to start any relationship.

A couple other tips

  • if you have marketing material, point out where general or specific contact details can be found
  • Follow up! You may have made an awesome first impression, but without a way to contact you, your new business relationship might wither on the vine
  • If possible, see what happened to the cards, assess the chances of it happening again, and take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen next time.  

If you’re wondering how it went, today was great, the cards were never missed!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Not Alone

Our family has a rule that when we’re apart we have to check in with each other once every 24 hours no matter where in the world we are. I had given up my smartphone at Christmas, so my upcoming travel means I have to reengage with the online world in the days ahead.

Before I blindly resumed where I left off in 2016, I asked my friends and family for advice, both online and off. I knew other people who had gone on digital detoxes and social media diets/fasts, I asked them what they had experienced and what worked for them. I've received app suggestions like AppDetox and Moment. I got links to Time Well Spent, and articles from all over about how Smartphones are really stressing Americans Out  and how I should Quit Social Media. Your job may depend on it. I had to laugh out loud at the XKCD cartoon captioned

"Wanna go for a walk?"
"Sure, just need to grab my device that feeds me a 24/7 stream of opinions, context-free scary world news, and random emotional stimuli. Plus a spare battery so the feed won't be interrupted" 

Misery loves company, so I was glad to know I wasn’t the only one searching for a better way. I finally ended up taking a friend's advice and tweaked it for my own purposes:   
I disable all notifications except text messages. I also disable notifications for some "chatty" text message groups. That means no Facebook notifications, no Snapchat notifications, no Email notifications (and no automatic email checking). Nothing. If I want to check an account, I do so manually by launching & forcing a refresh. My phone rarely lights up, and I find I don't reach for it terribly often anymore. Of course, if you lack the discipline to keep yourself from polling constantly, none of this will help much. Oh - it also really helps battery life so your phone is ready for those photos... :)

I am keeping my dual sim 10 key phone, but only leaving my primary SIM in that phone. My smartphone has my secondary SIM and I am using it primarily for data to my laptop. In a year or so when I'm ready for a new device I'll probably move to a dual SIM smartphone. I also turned off every single notification I could find, and as my phone finds new ways to blink and buzz at me I research new ways to turn off the notifications. Telephone calls can go through on either device, but if I am running out for a quick errand I'm more likely to grab the dumb phone before I grab the smart phone. The smartphone doesn't have facebook, twitter, or instagram installed. It also doesn't have any shortcuts on the home screen except for my address book, calendar, camera, and phone. I can text with the 10 key keypad, but it's a pain, so other than my stock replies I don't text from that phone. 

As for the smartphone, for work I installed Pages Manager from Facebook as well as Messenger, but all notifications are turned off. I can see notifications if I click on the apps portion of my screen, but they don't jump out at me. I'm probably going to install facebook and twitter on this upcoming trip, but my plan is to uninstall them once I get back. 

What's the single biggest change? I've given myself permission to not check my phone compulsively. The rest is just details. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Replacing the Pocket Thief

What should I do?

When I got my first cell phone I was driving a thousand miles a week going from one high school to another as an admissions counselor. My cell phone was my lifeline 16 weeks out of the year that I spent on the road. My husband and I had sequential numbers for well over a decade even as we lived in three different states. In Kansas my iphone was my link to the outside world from the farmhouse outside of Lawrence and later it was where I met many Lawrencians I still call friends today. When my husband started working as a consultant in 2012 my cell phone was how I kept in touch with him even as he wandered the globe. Social media was the way I kept in daily contact with friends and family around the world.

All of this changed November 2016. At first I thought I could protect my mental health by just deleting the social media apps. By December I knew that wasn't enough and for Christmas I gave my family the gift of my time and my focus by giving up my smartphone for the next two months. I thought it would be incredibly difficult but I knew I had to change something as I could hardly bear to check my email or any social media app without feeling physical repurcussions. In addition to my hands hurting constantly the news out of the US would raise my blood pressure and lead to headaches and tears.

I switched to a simple 10 key phone in December and have been relying on my kindle for my reading addicton and my laptop for work. My kindle works well for reading books but not so well for social media. My laptop has complete functionality but I don't like to sit for too long so I am less likely to fall into a news junkie/social media rabbit hole. I deeply miss my address book, my electronic calendar, and my camera when I'm out and about, but that's been about it. Most emails are answered when I'm working at the computer, my social media work was already almost always done from my computer, and all my document editing, ghostwriting, and presentations were done from my computer. In short, there's not an insurmountable reason to go back to a smartphone.

Those two months are coming to an end and I'm faced with a decision.  How do I keep the pocket thief from stealing my free time and my happiness? How do I add the productivity of data and an all-in-one device back into my life while keeping the rabbit hole from swallowing my attention?