SimDragon's Journal

Monday, July 12, 2010

I now understand first hand why the Australian government pulled the plug on their Home Insulation scheme, whereby they were offering $1200 worth of insulation free to householders.

We already had insulation. It was old, but it was doing its job - having rented places without insulation, I know you can certainly tell when there isn't insulation! So when Marcos told me a company had phoned his mobile and offered to install free insulation, and he agreed and set a time and date with them to do so, I was surprised and a little concerned about what we could expect from a company that had cold called us.

When they arrived, I told them we already had insulation. They said that if it was more than 10 years old, then we were still entitled to the free insulation. They had tshirts on that said "The Insulation People", so I did a quick search, found their website which said they were government accredited, and checked the government website and found that yes, their company was in fact listed. So, a little mollified that they did seem legitimate, we agreed to them going ahead.

They said it would take about an hour. It took more like 3. There were 3 installers, one of which spent the whole time sleeping in the van while the other 2 did the work. They left quite a mess when the finally completed the work.

That was in February. We finally had a government inspection on 6th July 2010, and the results were not good. While there were no safety issues, there were plenty of other issues. The written report said "Many small to large bare areas throughout the roof space, very poor quality work generally. Below R3.5 insulation used in areas."

The inspector told me that it looked like a 5 year old had installed the insulation, and that he normally takes 30 photos during an inspection, but he took 87 photos of ours, there were that many issues...

The next step was to try phoning the Insulation People to get them to come out and fix the issues. I tried phoning the Director, Siraj, since it is his mobile number that is advertised as the company phone number. He fobbed me off - he took my name and number and said he would get someone local to call me back in the next 5 - 10 minutes. That was 6 days ago. The next day, Wednesday, I sent an email through their website with the details of the report, again requesting they get in touch and rectify it. Nothing.

This morning (July 12th) I tried phoning Siraj again. No answer. No answering service even. His number was unreachable. Hmmm. Did I mention that his phone number is the only one advertised for his business?

So I've now phoned the government's energy efficiency hotline and lodged a complaint about the business. Unfortunately, that's all we can do. Because there is no safety issue, the government won't take any responsibility for fixing it. They advised us to contact a licensed installer (which these guys were - they are government accredited!) and pay at our own expense for the job to be redone...

What I'd like to know is this: why didn't the government inspect the work *before* handing dodgy companies like this their $1200? Surely a lot of problems would have been avoided if a condition of claiming the rebate was the work actually meeting the government standard?

Friday, March 12, 2010

This month seems to be a time of beginnings here!

I'm finally making use of my massage and reflexology qualifications, and as of next Friday (March 19th) I will be working on Tuesdays and Friday at Yes 2 Life in Armadale. I'll have a laptop with me to do web development in quiet periods (I'm not one for sitting twiddling my thumbs!). I'd prefer to be using that time to give massage and reflexology treatments, so if you know anyone who can make it to Armadale during business hours (9:30 am to 5 pm) I'm offering 20% off all massage and reflexology sessions for the rest of March.

I have applied for membership of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society and once that has been approved, I should be getting health insurance provider numbers to offer rebates for reflexology - sweet!

I'm also looking at having a stall at the Canning Vale markets as of next weekend, where I will have Sound Therapy products and ipillows.

In the mean time, I am trying to get the websites for Totally Sound Health and Las Niñas Web Development finished. There is a lot to organise, but it's slowly coming together!

On the family front, little Eva turned 2 yesterday. Not that her birthday meant much to her, but Ariana now understands birthdays, and was excited on Eva's behalf! Both girls have now settled in well to day care (thank goodness!). Ariana has started telling me about her friend Jasmine at day care. It sounds like Ariana has her first best friend. :)

Marcos is having new adventures too, spearheading the proposed Rotary Club of Murdoch. (If you are in the Murdoch vicinity, and would like to make a difference locally and internationally, Marcos would love to hear from you!) So it's all systems go on all fronts at the moment!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dusting off my Blogger blog...

It's nearly the end of summer, but lately I have been in spring cleaning mode!

With my heavy use of Facebook, my poor Blogger blog has been badly neglected. Well over a year since my last post - oops! Now February 2010 is nearly ready to tick over to March, and since this past month has been a time for finishing, or at least making progress with, things that have needed attending for the past year (or more), it seemed timely to give my old web presences some thought.

So, quick recap of the past year and a bit:

  • Finished a Certificate IV in Applied Language (Spanish) and started the Diploma course.
  • Finally completed my Certificate IV in Remedial Massage.
  • Continued working at UWA 1.5 days a week, as well as in my own businesses at home as time permitted - very little on Las Niñas Web Development as I just didn't have the time, but building up my Sound Therapy work.
  • Went to Argentina for a month.
  • Took the girls to Tumbletots for 3 of the 4 terms.
  • Resigned my roles in my Rotary Club, only to be re-elected to them again in the second half of the year.
  • Started up a new Rotary fellowship which has so far failed to get official recognition.
  • Got chest pain from trying to do too much on too little sleep and too much caffeine, and spent a night in the cardiac care unit of a hospital.
  • Finally started cutting back on things to try to start rebuilding my health: quit my spanish studies, finally resigned from UWA (again!) after having been a staff member for nearly 9 years.

And here we are. Now fully self employed, with the girls finally in day care two days a week, which doesn't leave a lot of time for me to try to earn an income, but it does give me a bit of a break and a chance to get on with things uninterrupted. The little ones are growing fast - little Eva will be 2 in a fortnight's time! And Marcos is still working at Murdoch Uni, but back to 5 days a week now that the girls are in day care.

So how regular will updates here be now? Good question. :) Hopefully not a year apart! I have a lot that I am catching up with at the moment, but I'm getting there. :) Once I have a few other web sites finished (that I have been mulling over in my head for at least a year!), I think an overhaul of SimDragon's Lair is in order, and an overhaul of this blog is likely to follow suit.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Since 2008 has nearly drawn to a close, and it has been several months since I last took time to write an update here, I thought it a good time to do a "year that was" type post even though there is still a week to go until the end of the year. Because at the rate I'm going, it will be well into 2009 before I make time to do this again!

The beginning of 2008 saw Marcos' mum Silvia here with us for 6 weeks, which was absolutely lovely. We were all very sad to see her go at the end of January, especially as she missed the arrival of her second granddaughter by just 6 weeks.

Little Eva Micaela arrived in the world on March 11th, and Ariana quickly adapted to the role of big sister. The two have become great little friends - when Eva sleeps, Ariana wants me to wake her up again ("more Eva!") so she can keep playing with her. Eva is now mobile, having mastered both crawling and pulling herself up to stand, and they two think it is great fun crawling around together.

I worked at UWA up until the week before Eva was born, and took up working from home (for UWA) again 6 weeks later. I have been struggling to maintain a good work/life balance ever since, and am sure Marcos would agree that I have not been succeeding well at that. I have been burning the candle at both ends, and as a consequence am quite unwell at the moment. A couple of weeks ago, Marcos returned to staying home on Fridays so I can go into UWA to work, and after the Christmas break I will work on Wednesday afternoons and Fridays, as I did before Eva was born. In the long run I want to solely work on my own businesses, from home, so I have complete control over my workloads, but in the short term I need to keep working at UWA so we can start saving up some cash.

This year Ariana started Tumbletots, and it has made a marked difference in her ability to climb play equipment. She loves climbing, going down slides and going on swings, so we bought the girls a swing and slide set for Christmas, which has already clocked up a lot of use.

Ariana is becoming more and more proficient speaking in both english and spanish. It is interesting to see which words she picks up in either language, as she doesn't always go with whatever is easiest to say. Eva has started trying to talk (she's got mum-mum-mum down pat, and something that sounds like yummy as well), so it won't be long before the two are chattering away to each other.

It has certainly been a challenge trying to juggle everything this year - thrown into the mix has also been Rotaract (which we both had to "retire" from at the end of June, which was a big life change), the move into Rotary, regular physiotherapy sessions for me upon discovering the intense pain ín my hip and back I've had all year is arthritis (!!) and much, much more.

I'm planning to use the Christmas break to recharge (after I recover from the cold that has knocked me out at the moment!) and set out some plans for 2009 so that when I reach the end of next year, all aspects of my life will be healthy. ;)

Wishing you all a happy holiday season, and all the best for the new year.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Where does the time go? It's been 3 months since my last update here. During that time, I have thought of many things I have wanted to write about here. I just haven't made the time to sit down and put my thoughts down in writing.

(If someone could invent a device where I could channel my thoughts to a blog post, or an other written electronic form, so when I have a quiet moment to be still and think, but I'm not in front of a computer, I can get my thoughts down rather than trying to rehash them later.)

Where to start?

Winter saw us all stricken (and in the girls' cases, twice each) with various bugs. I was busy nursing for 2 sick girls, then a sick husband, then sick girls again, before finally succumbing myself, and in turn needing looking after! Touch wood we're all well now, and with Spring well and truly here and the weather finally warming up, hopefully we'll keep that way until at least August next year now. ;)

Both girls are growing so fast! Eva is now 6 months old, eating solids, getting around a little via rolling. Ariana's vocabulary (in both languages) is continuing to expand rapidly. They are both wonderful little girls, who absolutely adore each other.

I've been struggling a bit trying to find the right work-life balance. I've been alternating between staying up really late to get some solid work done, which means other nights I have to go to bed ultra early or spend the bulk of one of the days on the weekend catching up on sleep (between Eva's feeds), which is far from ideal. I ended up quite run down, which is why I ended up getting sick. So I'm trying to find a better balance, which is still tricky as there is usually at least one little one still awake even at 9:30 or 10 pm, so I can't sit down and really concentrate until about 10 pm or later. That's a bit tricky to solve right now - we've tried putting Ariana to bed at a set time (8:30 pm), but if she doesn't want to sleep, she screams and screams, which in turn wakes Eva up, who likewise starts crying. In time that will hopefully get easier, but for now I'm not really sure how best to tackle the situation, apart from continuing to have some nights where I go to bed around 2am so I can get 4 solid hours of work done a few nights a week.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The end of ebay?

Recent changes to have royally pissed off sellers and buyers alike - limiting payment method to PayPal (or cash on pick up only), and removing the ability to leave anything other than positive feedback for buyers, even if they don't pay.

As someone who has regularly used ebay as both a seller and a buyer since mid 2004, I am one of the people who is very unhappy with the changes. Although ebay claim they are making it "safer" to buy / sell, all they are doing are reaping higher profits for themselves (since they own PayPal and get extra fees per transaction there), and making it so that problem buyers can no longer be identified in advance via negative / neutral feedback. Every way you look at it, there are no pluses for buyers, only big reasons to leave and move to a competitor's site. And that's exactly what I've done.

At first, I had no idea what other Australian auction sites existed... after all. ebay is pretty synonymous with online auction. But thanks to a facebook ad, I discovered Oztion, and through another ad I've also found BidMate. Unsurprisingly, both have experienced phenomenal growth in the last couple of months, in light of the notification from ebay about their changes.

Both are sooooo much cheaper than ebay. The cost of setting up a shop was prohibitive on ebay, but for $5 a month on Oztion I figured I'd give it a go! And a shop looks to be completely fee on BidMate!

On first impressions, Oztion is a very professional, well thought out site. I think it will become the replacement for ebay in Australia.

BidMate is not nearly as professional (it looks to be a one man shop - more power to Ron!), and information is scarce - you basically have to ask a question on the forum to find out how anything works... but that aside, BidMate has the cheapest fees, plus it offers a very generous $80 in seller credit right now, so sellers won't have to pay a thing for quite some time after signing up! With that in mind I figured, why not!

I've created accounts on both, and will test them both out. Watch this space for further impressions after I've used them a bit more!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Just a quickie tonight... I'm trying out a new site that looks to be an interesting take on affiliate marketing, putting it all together under one "shop". Different groups can set up a "shop" as a means of fundraising, and can show what they are fundraising for. Check it out: AShopFor.