This is just a short post providing the results (available here) as I'm at work now but we all need to take a moment to bask in this victory. It's going to be an ultra exciting time to be gay in Australia!
This is not the first time the topic of marriage equality has been brought up on my blog but this time round it's more pressing than ever. If you don't already know, the Australian government commissioned the Australian Bureau of Statistics against the wishes of the people to conduct a plebiscite to ask the people whether Australian marriage laws should be changed to include same-sex marriage with the ballot forms to be sent and returned via snail mail. Before you think this is like a referendum let me tell you now it's far from being that. Here are the main things I think are wrong about this postal plebiscite.
1. This plebiscite is non-binding meaning if the result is "yes" the government is not legally bound to change the marriage laws.
2. This exercise costs 122 million dollars to achieve something that we already know i.e. the majority of the Australian people is in favour of same-sex marriage. The money can surely be better spent elsewhere.
3. This is an unrepresentative opinion poll because the younger more progressive people are not of voting age and hence can't participate in this plebiscite. For those young votes who are eligible to vote, this postal mechanism is sure to discourage many of them from placing their ballots simply because snail mail is no longer a valid form of modern day communication.
4. Under the banner of free speech this plebiscite gives the "no" camp reason to express homophobic views that normally wouldn't be aired in a developed and civilised country like Australia. This hurtful abuse has caused much anguish to the LGBTI community and the cases of vulnerable people seeking mental help as a result has surged despite the government repeatedly lying and saying that everything is fine.
5. Speaking about the government, this is merely their delay tactic to appease their conservative base till the next federal election. They had no choice but to conduct this survey because there are a lot of people within the ruling party that want same-sex marriage legalised. This plebiscite is at the end of the day just an internal political tool used by the government to safeguard its position.
6. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has been known to bungle things (like the 2016 census - read more about it here) and cannot be trusted to run a plebiscite of this scale correctly. Also a lot of cases of ballot papers being sold on eBay or sent to the wrong addresses have surfaced which cast doubt on the accuracy of this survey.
We have what we call defacto relationships in Australia and couples (same sex or otherwise) who have stayed together under one roof for a period of time are recognised as domestic partners and as a result enjoy a lot of the rights married couples enjoy. Now before you think that's already enough for us it's most definitely not. For one, defacto relationships can be challenged and a full-fledged marriage can never be. This article summarises the issue perfectly and is very useful for someone trying to argue for the "yes" camp.
We all know what will happen come tomorrow at 10am when the plebiscite result is announced. The "yes" camp will win and the government is then supposed to hold a conscience vote within the party which is yet another opinion poll to determine if the majority of the party wants same-sex marriage legalised. This is where things will get inevitably delayed again which is the government's plan. The conservative voices will use the need to protect religious freedoms and opposing views to assert that the law makers are not in the position yet to draft something to ensure the "no" camp can continue living in their ever-shrinking echo chamber to vent their homophobic and discriminatory sentiments. The naysayers will also conflate issues again by bringing other topics like the curbing of free speech and protection of children into the picture and use age-old slippery slope arguments that will only make them look even more stupid and out-of-touch with the rest of the population. The current government will most likely succeed in delaying same-sex marriage till the next federal election when they will be voted out (based on every single poll done in the past few months) and the incoming party will legislate it within 100 days of being in the office (like they promised). However politicians are still politicians and until I see the same-sex marriage actually legalised with my own eyes I will never believe any of them. Yes I know this prediction is filled with pessimism but I'm a huge skeptic and I'm darn proud of it.
I'm not an Australian citizen (by choice) and so I can't vote in this plebiscite but I did witness my husband vote and that's the closest I got to participating in this pointless (yet crucial) exercise. It's times like this that I'm glad I'm not Australian. 24 counties in the world have legalised same-sex marriage to date and among them are far-less advanced countries like Colombia and South Africa. Talk about being backward! Why can Australia's closest neighbour New Zealand (a country with similar values and population demographics) do it without having the sky fall on them? The only explanation I can think of is because unlike the New Zealand's politicians the Australian ones are spineless individuals who put their careers ahead of the welfare of the people.
Same-sex marriage will happen eventually no matter how loud the "no" camp shouts or how rich and powerful they are. Even the conservative politicians conceded to that. I just hope that when it truly becomes legal it will be relatively painless to convert my marriage under British law to one that's recognised in Australia. We all know governments like to use red tape to charge exorbitant fees to make the simplest things happen so I do hope this conversion comes cheap too.
Lastly in the name of campaigning for same-sex marriage I've put in my bit to give more exposure to the cause (and myself - hehe). Below are self-made posters that have been my Facebook profile and cover photos since the ballot papers were sent out. Do you like them?
Let's see what happens tomorrow. Fingers and toes all tightly crossed.
Once in a while I do musical collaborations with other like-minded song-writers but so far I've only posted collaborations in Chinese ( 爱无期限 | 爱 。感冒 | I Don't Wanna Cry | 跌倒 | 想想 | Stay Away | 不由自主的幸福 ) but this month's musical journey features an English one which I did the tune and my friend Garry did the lyrics.
Collaborations are fun because it gets you out of your comfort zone. Also it makes you want to strive to write better as you wouldn't want to let your partner down. I don't do a lot of such cross-overs not because I don't like to but there are really not many in my friend circle who is into song-writing, let alone collaborating on a song-writing project.
Hence here's a call out to those keen to do a piece with me, I'm absolutely open for business. Well at least I'll definitely try my best to fit these projects in now that work is getting even busier (I'm amazed that's possible) as I have formally kick-started the journey of my promotion to Senior Process Engineer and so have to outperform my old self. Wish me luck!
And while I wait for my next opportunity for collaboration, here's one celebrating love in all its glory. As with all my previous clips I only feature gay love as that's how I see it. So if you like see men kissing men, you're very welcome!
Spring has begun this month and come tomorrow daylight saving is going to cause us to lose an hour. Work is busy as always which is partly due to inefficiencies but I think things are going to improve because we have had a change in department lead. Off with the hopelessly-useless and in with the hopefully-less-useless. My social life is a bore and that has not changed a bit for a while now but I hope the warmer weather is going to encourage me to be outside and mingle with human beings more. We can always hope right?
Ever since I finished the PlayStation game I've been engrossed with for months, I've gone back to song-writing and have written two pieces since and now it's time to do the recording and video-editing for them. In the meantime in case you're missing my topless KTV posts, here's yet another one of those. This month's musical post features an old-ish Chinese song titled "散心" and is one of my favorites. It has a really great melody and I always feel a little emotional singing it. I think I did really well in the clip – just try to focus on my singing and not on my body OK?
Everyone has their OCDs (obsessive compulsive disorders) and one of mine is the need to document my life as much as possible. I do this in different ways like making at least a daily post on Facebook and saving them at regular intervals but the most notable thing that keeps my OCD going is my infamous Spreadsheet™. This most wonderful thing in my life started as a way to manage my budget when I started my first job after graduation in the States but since then it has grown arms, legs and even wings and has become the proudest "object" I own.
I've alluded to my Spreadsheet™ many times on this blog but I've never actually shown you how it looks like and the details it contains. If I were to tally the amount of time I've spent on it to date, it'd be in the realm of 3 straight months of 24 hours a day! But it's so worth it because it's a very in-depth documentation of not only my life but Ision's too to an extent. It's also a useful tool to track price changes on things, places we visited, what we ordered in restaurants and even how the food was. In this post I shall open this major part of my world to you by first offering a blurred (for obvious reasons) typical tab in my Spreadsheet™ which I've split into sections that I'll describe in further detail.
This is the heart of the file. Anything that involves money creates an entry with the dollar amount (currency conversion is built-in if it's not in Australian dollars) including inter-bank transfers. Notable events are also entered here as well as things like job application details. Every spending entry is categorised using numbers "1" to "9" so that amounts can be summed up in their individual categories e.g. "1" is for transport and "5" is for groceries. I can add as much details as I want under "comments" in the cell, details like what people had in a restaurant, bill payment details, things Ision cooked, breakdown of my salary/taxes and so on.
The fields here track the amount I owe my mum in terms of allowance (most of the time it's a negative number!), amount of musical royalties I've obtained so far, frequent flyer miles, salary/overtime earned this month, amount I've set aside for holidays and the number of days I've skipped cardio/gym (and the reasons why). There are other entries here that shall remain a secret. Hehe.
This is the high-level breakdown of my expenditure this month and to date. There are only 3 categories here namely "bills", "non-bill expenses" and "savings".
These are entries of my weight taken in the gym on days I do weights. There's also a number that provides an average value to date.
Details entered here on a daily basis include weight (yes I admit there's some duplication of information), work/leave hours, total number of leave hours left and the Australian-to-Singaporean dollar exchange rate. Under "comments" are details of the things that I did that day which means that this Spreadsheet™ is also a diary, which is one of its most important features.
This section documents important events which are entered against dates.
This small section contains the amount of superannuation contributions I've made and how much there is now in my superannuation fund and these give me an indication of the fund's performance. There are also entries of how much tax I've paid and after-tax salary I've earned for that financial-year-to-date. There are also now-defunct items that are near but outside the box e.g. things I need to buy or do.
Here you can find a breakdown of my monthly expenditure i.e. the tallied amounts of the "1" to "9" categories against the amount budgeted for that category for that month. I'm alerted of an overspent in a category by a conditional change in format i.e. red font. This was the original intent of my Spreadsheet™ but clearly it's now so much more.
The amount saved (i.e. post-tax salary minus expenditure) each month and to date, as well as any deficit and costs associated with relocation are documented here.
This is a chart of my weight based on numbers entered in section 04.
These are charts of my weight (in green) and annual leave balance (in red) based on numbers entered in section 05. There used to be fat and muscle percent as measured by my weighing scale at home but I found that was too much of a pain to do every morning (especially in the wintry cold as I need to remove all my clothes for the weigh-in) so I scrapped those entries. So you see, even OCDs have limits.
The exchange rate and superannuation details entered in sections 05 and 07 respectively from this month and all other previous months appear here, along with the total amount of bank interest earned for the month and the total amount of money I have to date. These are used as inputs to charts in other sections. Every time the total amount of money I have reaches a certain target, the cell changes colour to pink. I'm also alerted should there be a decrease in the number compared to the previous month.
I've cancelled my Singaporean credit card but when I still had it, the transactions I made using that card appear here. I only use this card in Singapore and the picture above covered a duration when I was there.
This is Ision's work roster and work hours. Several years back, I managed to convince him to allow me to track his expenditure which means that he had to report all his purchases and provide me with the receipts. Knowing how opposite of such OCD-behaviour he was, I was really surprised he kept that going for 11 months. The only reason I could think of is he also wanted a means to track his expenditure but was too lazy or not Excel-savvy enough to do it himself. He eventually gave it up because it was too much of a hassle for him. The number of work hours in this section provides an input to calculate his salary which was useful during those 11 months but not now but the functionality remains. I now mostly use this section to track his non-routine off days.
These are charts of the monthly earned interest to date (maroon) and the total amount of money I have to date (black) based on numbers found in section 12.
These are charts of the superannuation I've contributed (light pink) versus the amount in my superannuation fund (dark pink) as well as the Australian-to-Singaporean dollar exchange rate (purple) based on numbers found in
This section stores the amount of money I owe Ision and vice versa so that I can tally up the amount to transfer to his account for each month. Tracking is necessary because we both pay different utilities for the apartment. Also, he pays for shared groceries in advance and I usually pay the total amount for our restaurant meals first. Hence these "overlaps" in payments require this section to be kept in tip-top condition. Ision trusts me totally to tally up the right amount (actually he might be trusting my OCD instead of me) but the evil inside of me can't help but wonder if he'll ever notice if I cheat a bit of his money via some "intelligent accounting". Of course I won't do that.
With the problem of online fraud and identity-theft worsening, one really needs to track what gets deducted from one's bank account and I do that scrupulously using this section. When I started this Spreadsheet™, I only had a few bank accounts so it was easy to include details of each bank transaction (as exported from my online statements). However as the number of bank accounts grew, I now only itemise the dollar value and the corresponding date for these newer banks. Section 18 contains the original banks with the greater level of detail.
This section tracks bank transactions for the newer banks in lesser detail.
For the purpose of filing income tax, the amount of bank interest earned financial-year-to-date is documented here across all banks. I used to track the movement in interest rates for all these banks under "comments" but as the number of banks increased, I found that to be too much work. I still track the rates online but just not documenting them anymore.
Here is a quick summary of how much money I own in 2 categories i.e. with and without including non-Australian bank accounts. It also stores the amount I have stashed in other depositories like PayPal and hard cash at home.
Every month requires a new tab in my Spreadsheet™ and I create one easily based on a constantly-updated template. I also store superseded templates in the same file. As mentioned earlier, I started this Spreadsheet™ back in the States in 2004 but a hard disc crash led to a loss of all my data (as well as all my pictures taken in USA!) and so the current Spreadsheet™ only has tabs starting from November 2005 (i.e. it has 203 tabs to date). The huge lesson learnt was to always back the file up and I now have backups in multiple locations. This Spreadsheet™ is simply TOO important to lose!!! Others
The above picture shows a completed tab but when the month is not over yet, I have working sections within the tab that gets deleted eventually. The most important working section is the calculation of how much my payout would be based on the leave balances should I be retrenched this very minute and how many months I can survive without employment before the total amount of money I own starts to drop. It also contains a modified (very frugal) budget that is based solely on my bank interest earnings versus expected expenditure. This used to be very important when my Papua New Guinea stint ended when the possibility of retrenchment was very real but the industry has picked up now so it's less crucial. There are also other less important features not mentioned above e.g. documenting the movies I've watched in the cinema, my to-do list (including the crossed-out completed items) and projected bank interest calculations for term deposits.
The most enjoyable benefit I get from my Spreadsheet™ is the ability to have a retrospective look at how my life has changed over the years. However when I review the past tabs I never fail to pick up typos and errors in formulas. Making corrections and fine-tuning the massive file (currently 21.2MB) is a never-ending task but that's also part of the enjoyment. It gets really difficult too after a holiday when I have to transfer all my hand-written notes into the Spreadsheet™. That being said, keeping things as detailed and correct as possible gives me peace and calms me. You just have to see it from the perspective of someone with this particular OCD and you'll feel what I feel too.
I love you Spreadsheet™ and I know we'll have many MANY more years of fun together!
In this month's musical journey I'm exploring the theme of depression. This is not easy because I've never experienced it. However I do comprehend its crippling severity and how lives can be utterly destroyed by it.
Depression is depicted as darkness that has its own life, blanketing the victim with helplessness. Growing number by the day, he slips under the surface unnoticed by others and sinks deeper and deeper (which explains the underwater clip I've chosen). Things around him gradually become black and white as he loses his senses and appreciation for life. Overwhelmed by despair, he completely withdraws from the outside world. In the final chapter, darkness spirals out of control, pushing him to the brink of suicide.
For someone trapped under this enormous weight of darkness, how is the victim able to reach out to others for help? This is why the "R U OK? Day" initiative was started to emphasise that the onus is on all of us to be alert around our loved ones. Something as simple as offering a listening ear could be the act that potentially saves a life.
All that being said, if I'm too far from reality with this composition, I hope I can still redeem myself with the tune, of which I'm quite happy with.
Darkness has a soul and it breathes
It can move and it can follow you
When I am awake, all I want to see is you
Even when I am alseep, I dream of you
Don't ask me if I am OK
For I wouldn't know where to begin
Even if I tell you everything, you wouldn't care
Let me numb myself on my own
Darkness, let me spend some time with you
So what if it is colourful when there is no image
There is no point in dwelling in the torn-up past
I have fallen into a chasm and I can't see the sky above me
With only you by my side through the slow passage of time
I can no longer distinguish between the beautiful and the ugly
Between darkness and more darkness, melancholy takes shape and precipitates
Day after day, not a single person notices
That I am only one step away from an eternal slumber with darkness
It's been two months since I posted something from my topless KTV series and today you're in luck as it's back on. This month I'm covering the much-sung "Rolling In the Deep" by Adele whose vocal cord has been damaged recently. Many singers face that same ill fate and I'm not sure if that's because they overused their voice or if they've been using the wrong techniques. Even if singers didn't damage their income-generating tools they tend to sing at increasingly lower keys as they age. This is a biological issue though as larynx cartilages become harder and less flexible particularly the fibres located in vocal folds get stiffer and thinner. Interestingly I've read that this causes a higher pitched voice in males and the opposite in females. Unfortunately this is not happening to me.
To be honest my voice is actually still recuperating since I've lost it through a very bad bout of sore throat in April and I'm sure my growing older has slowed my recovery as well. It's actually pretty scary it takes so long for damaged vocal cords to heal. If I were a professional singer I'd take extreme care of my voice and keep it always perfect. When I've totally regained my vocal prowess I'll make more recordings but for now I'll leave you to this topless rendition of one of the most popular songs of our time.
The concluding part of my collage series is now ready for all of you (all parts here - 123). I still need three photo shoots to reach forty before I retire my modelling career at the end of my fortieth year on this planet. So the urgency is on as I'm starting to lose my "youth" and figure. Do you think I'll be able to achieve that goal and will you help me on that mission?
As the cold weather and stressful weekdays push me deeper into my vegetative hermit life and my PlayStation 4 Pro during weekends, here's the second of my 3-part (all parts here - 123) collage series. Savour away!
The Melbourne winter is truly upon us and the days are getting shorter and colder which makes my stressful days at work even gloomier. That being said my excellent work performance got a formal recognition yesterday and that was in the form that really counts. In this current Australian work climate where the wage growth rate has never been lower I'm now formally in the top 1% of the Melbourne office who actually got a very small but certainly non-zero bump in my salary.
My last pay rise was back in 2012 when I transferred from the Sydney office so this is truly a long-owed (and well-deserved) one. If this were the good old times where people get pay rises to at least match inflation rates, imagine how much more I'd have gotten back then based on my current performance - it'll literally be infinitely more than the rest who got zilch! *Self pats on back* This injection of motivation in my job should be able to sustain me for a while more in my stress bubble at the Altona Refinery... I hope.
Right, news update over and now it's on to the topic at hand. Ever since I got a collage app on my phone I've been using it extensively (to think that I actually did it all manually before which took SO long)! In a series of three posts (all parts here - 123) I'll share the "best-of-the-best" collages I've done with the pictures from my photo shoots that I've blogged before. I've yet to post stuff from twelve other shoots and I must admit I'm getting lazier to edit and package them up as work becomes increasingly draining. So for now I guess you'd have to make do with those already on my blog and now summarised in this series. Stay tuned for more.