30-in-30 Accomplishments

January 31, 2008 at 9:00 am (life)

Well the month of January is over and that means that so is my 30-in-30 challenge.

It’s been quite a good month but as I said in my update, I don’t think I would ever split the 30-in-30 challenge between to things again. With that said here’s a quick list of some of the things that I am pleased to have accomplished:

  • Getting into the routine of recording new Italian vocabulary and learning it
  • Making good progress on my website
  • Practising the guitar a lot more!
  • Getting my hair cut in a foreign country

I did set myself a sneaky little extra challenge to try to email/write to friends or family at least once a day. Part of the problem with living in a different counrty is that I sometimes feel a bit out of the loop. This really helped and is definately something that I’m going to try to do more. (I’m not necessarily going to make it so strict in the future though!)

So, all in all I’m really pleased with what I’ve got done and it’s definately got 2008 off to a good start. As Steve Pavlina says on his website, If you tell yourself that you are going to do something for just one month the task doesn’t seem so daunting as when you say “I’m going to cut down on cakes forever”. It then becomes part of your daily routine and when the month is over it actually seems harder to stop doing it, so you just keep on doing it….forever! What a great way of tricking your brain and (in my case) becoming more productive.

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The Dash

January 28, 2008 at 10:40 am (life)

A couple of weeks ago in the A-Z of productivity I read that D stands for Dash. I gave it a go last week and set aside 30 mins to see how many of my tasks I could tick off my list (on tedium). It was great, I’ve never been so productive, I got a whole load of small jobs out of the way and I even carried on doing it for another 30 mins. So, that’s a whole hours worth of being poductive! If there was a star pupil prize for feeling good about how much you’ve got done, I would give myself the sticker with the smiley face!

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Never Had A Haircut Like It!

January 26, 2008 at 10:35 pm (Italy, life)

I finally faced my fear and dragged my sorry looking hair down to the hairdressers on Tuesday. I’d looked up all the important vocabulary (for example, layers, feathering and fringe) but I forgot to look up essentials such as: “just a trim thanks” and “don’t cut too much off because I’m trying to grow it!”, so I’ve ended up going back 8 months on the hair-growing process! Bit of a bummer and I’m still not over it yet, which is why I hadn’t blogged about it sooner. I know it sounds ridiculous but it was just too painful!

The actual hour itself wasn’t too bad and I generally understood everything, although I’ve never been asked to flip my head over, so that anyone can cut away (ferociously) at the hair from underneath. So I’m not sure if I didn’t understand the request or was just shocked, but it took but a couple of minutes for me to respond!

The other memorable moments were when she cut the hair using a twisting and hacking method! Never seen this before and felt a bit uncomfortable without the regular two fingered clasp and measure method. The hairdresser also wanted to give me the ‘hurricane look’ and proceeded to blow dry my hair so that it was all over my face. I thought that this was just part of the process so when she held up the mirror I couldn’t believe that we’d actually finished, I couldn’t see anything! She did not once put my hair into the side parting as I’d asked and left it sticking out in all directions with a ton of static electricity. All she said about this was “Ooh, I think I better stop touching it now!”.

All in all, I am pleased that I went, as I needed the haircut and I did learn some vocab. However, I will never be going back again!

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30-in-30 2nd Update

January 15, 2008 at 3:14 pm (Italy, life, studies)

I’m on track to meet my quota of musical tasks before the end of the month. Hoorah! (I hear you shout) However, the Italian is not going as well. It turns out I don’t like hard work! ha ha! (I don’t know why I say ‘it turns out’ because I think I’ve known this for a while!) I can’t motivate myself to get the books out and study. With this in mind I don’t think I’d recommend anyone to split their 30-in-30 into two subjects. It makes it harder to choose what to do and one topic will always become the less favourable thing to do and it’s too easy to say “I’ll do that tomorrow”, somewhat defeating the purpose of this exercise I feel.

I’ve come up with a few good ideas to try and make the Italian tasks more palatable though:

  1. watch tv
  2. listen to the radio
  3. get hair cut

So all is not lost, I will still be doing more Italian than I would have normally but it’s not exactly as studious as I had previously hoped. Ah well!

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More Health

January 14, 2008 at 3:56 pm (food, recipes)

This week’s smoothies are:

  1. apple, red berries, yoghurt, milk and honey
  2. pineapple, mango, banana, honey, orange and lemon juices.
  3. pear, kiwi, raspberry and orange juice.

All very yummy but apple does not go as well with red-berries as pear does.

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Why Only Apologies?

January 11, 2008 at 2:56 pm (life)

I’ve realised that I am perplexed with the lack of willingness (on the behalf of companies) to give more than just an apology when something has gone wrong. Countless times recently A and I have had problems with companies in the UK and they seem to have gone out of their way to 1. not solve the problem and 2. not to offer any form of compensation.

I understand that companies can’t go giving out money and presents to everyone when something goes a little bit wrong but A had a 3 month problem with the famous Pay Pal and not only did they not fix his problem during the 3 months, they also ‘could not’ give him a refund, let alone compensation of any kind. What has happened to the customer always being right?

When I worked for RBS we were often sending out flowers, giving double the required refund or proving some other sort of present to apologise for our mistake. The moto was, first apologise, then fix the problem and then do something else to show how sorry you are and to make the customer remember how much we did to show our gratitude for their custom. At the time I thought that this attitude was the ‘norm’ but it turns out that it’s far from it.

Today I called Oxfam, for the 4th time, to check up on the arrival of my goods that I ordered from their website. I thought I’d send meaningful gifts this year as I love the idea of them and sending parcels is quite expensive. So, I ordered my gifts in November to make sure that they arrived on time. The first problem was that they got lost in the post. However they were sent out again mid-December, so there was still a chance that they’d arrive in time. Today, I called again (11th January) and they said that they don’t know what has happened and all they can do is send them again. There was no apology and no offer of compensation. I know they are a charity so I wouldn’t have taken more than my refund anyway, but that’s not the point. Why aren’t they doing everything they can to ensure that I use their service again and they don’t lose me (and maybe others) as a result of this cock-up?

Do companies have so many customers these days that they can afford to treat us all like crap and make out that it’s our fault when they haven’t provided what they said they’d provide, within the time limit that they specified? I just don’t get it! So often I hear/read the ‘your products/service will be delivered within 3/5 working days’ (or something similar), so why when it doesn’t happen is their such a battle to get the requested products/service and also to get compensation?

At my restaurant, it’s exactly the same, if a customer has to wait too long for their food, we apologise. If when it does arrive, it’s the wrong thing, we apologise. They may then have to wait another 20 minutes while we prepare the correct dish. No refund is given, no compensation, no complimentary drinks, nothing! If I was that customer, I doubt I’d go back. Are people just ok with that these days, why aren’t companies striving for excellence?

Why, as customers, do we put up with this? (Smoke now coming out of keyboard and ears!!)

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It’s Official!

January 9, 2008 at 8:13 pm (Italy, life)

I am happy to announce that we officially live in Torino now. As of today, we have an official doorbell with our names engraved into brass next to it! How cool is that? Before we had written our names on a sticky label and stuck it over the names of the previous tenants. Now it says Mc Ewen Andreo. No accent on the e and McEwen had turned into two seperate words but I’m not complaining! Considering how long it took to get our names in the little brass plate I’m thinking that it’s going to be a while before they change it again, so whether we live here or not, we will be remembered! ha ha!

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30-in-30 Update

January 8, 2008 at 4:06 pm (Italy, life, studies)

Well this 30-in-30 thing is harder than you’d think. I started really well, doing more things than I had set myself for the day but now that I’m back at work I’m realising that I might have bitten off more than I can chew. We were going to go to the cinema tonight, which would’ve been my Italian thing for the day but then A found a version of the film in English, so we’re going to watch that first instead, hopefully easing the confusion when we watch the Italian version. Sounds great in theory, but now I have to find something else to do for my Italian thing today and I’m not in the mood to get the books out! Hmmm…

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My Debut Single

January 6, 2008 at 3:11 pm (Italy, life, music, my links)

Whilst I was having Italian lessons my teacher thought it would be a good idea to focus my learning onto something that I have a passion for. She suggested writing a play in Italian but instead I decided to translate one of my newly written songs and then record it. It took a while to get it right because the Italian sentences turned out to be at least twice as long as the English ones (in terms of syllables) but I finally cut it down to size and recorded it along with the English version. I made a few CDs of the recordings and also added a dance version (because all good singles have a dance mix!) and these were given an Christmas presents to a lucky few. The recordings are not of the greatest quality (and the guitar seems to be a tad out of tune) but that’s what you get for doing it in a rush when you’ve never recorded yourself before and it’s coming up to Christmas! If you want to check out the English song ‘Morning Eyes’ and the Italian version ‘Lui Dorme’ along with lyrics click here! The dance version is also available at the top right of the page, called ‘Between Yesterday and Tomorrow Mix’, credit has to go to Andrew for this as all I did was provide the original music.

I’m very excited about it and would love comments or feedback (good and bad). So, please scrawl something below in the comments box or send an email to: feedback@rjandreo.com


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Eye liner

January 6, 2008 at 9:00 am (life)

Have you ever wondered what you must look like when you’re putting eye-liner on? If your anything like me, the answer if really strange! I pull my eyelid closed at a funny angle with one finger and then try to look at said closed eyelid with other eye, whilst drawing on my face! Believe me it’s a funny one!

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