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Goodbye Piercing

The other day I took out my labret piercing. I decided to do it because the dentist said that it was causing my gum line to recede. This wasn't a big surprise to me - I knew it would happen and suspected it already was. The hole inside my mouth closed up within a couple of hours, although there is still a visible small pinhole under my lip. Apparently that can remain for up to a few years, depending on how long you had the piercing.

I put off taking out the jewellery for ages, because I was used to it and I liked it. I was worried my face would look boring without it! I had it for around two years so I felt it had become part of my face. It's funny because the piercing was very noticeable to people who were new to me, but when I took it out people who see me a lot didn't even notice it's absence until I pointed it out.

Although I didn't want to take it out, removing it had immediate benefits. It's MUCH more comfortable without it. I had become accustomed to it knocking against my teeth and gums. Now it's all smooth and smushy, the way the inside of a mouth should be. It's definitely a lot better for kissing. In the first few days of having no mouth jewellery, I realised that I had a habit of playing with the stud with my tongue. I kept trying to play with it and felt repeatedly surprised to feel no stud!

Now I'm used to it being gone. It was a good two years. I still want to get something "unnatural" done though. I haven't dyed my hair purple as planned this year, so maybe I'll do that. Or perhaps a different piercing. So many options!

Bert & Ernie lulz


Getting My Fitness Up

About four months ago I joined my local gym. Since then I've been pretty successful with sticking to a regular fitness routine. At first I was so useless! Couldn't even run for two minutes straight on the treadmill. Ben, who joined at the same time as me, could run for half an hour straight away, even though we were both equally unfit before we started. I think I am just naturally not a fitness person.

I gradually got to a point where I could run or jog for twenty minutes on a treadmill and I was pretty proud of myself. Seriously, I was the sort of kid who was amongst the last to be picked for teams in sports at school. And that was back in school, when sporting activities were a compulsory part of my routine! So running for twenty minutes is quite an achievement.

Then for some reason involving me not being able to get to the gym for whatever reason, I substituted the treadmill for running in the REAL world, out in the street! What a shock! Treadmills are sooooo deceiving! You've got wind, corners, slopes... all sorts of things defying you constantly. Also, I think you tend to try to go faster when you're on the earth. Treadmills make you move while keeping you stationary, so you think you're going faster than you are. Or something like that. I've since learnt to pace myself by not going too fast.

I haven't been to the gym for ages, but it was worth getting membership because treadmilling enabled me to get my fitness level up enough to be not self-conscious running on the street. It goes without saying that real world running is heaps more enjoyable. On a treadmill I find myself watching the clock and desperately wanting it to be over.

Still heaps to be done though. One day I might be able to go an hour without stopping. *optimistic*

Anyway, here's the route I ran today: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2353366
With thanks to monototo for the mapper thing. I love it.

Books With Bookmarks In Them

Some of these I have no intention of finishing. Some I am reading whenever I have time. Some I intend to get through, but are not prioritised in my List. The List is an ever-present and ever-changing itemization of Things To Do. It defines my life at any given time. I'd be lost without it because my memory is shit.

"The Secret Life of Salvador Dali" - Salvador Dali
"Notes from the Pianist's Bench" - Boris Berman
"Murder in Mesopotamia" - Agatha Christie
"Crime and Punishment" - Fyodor Dostoevsky
"Tehanu" - Urusula Le Guin
"The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales" - Mr. and Mr. Grimm


How to Change a Tyre

Listen up kids for some valuable ill skillz. Changing a tyre is something everyone driver should know how to do. I think it's one of those life skills that people just pick up. I've been shown how to do it but I forgot, having not actually given it a go. So I've done some research and now I reckon I could if I needed to. Can you say the same? :D Let me educate thee, younglings.

Step 1
Pull over onto a sae area, on a surface that is hard and flat to change the tyre. Ensure handbrake is applied. If it is a geared car, put it into first, if it's an automatic put into "park". Turn on hazard lights. For extra safety put a chock (piece of wood or a brick) under one of the wheels on the opposite side of the car to the flat tyre.

Step 2
Locate your jack and wheel brace from the boot of the car. Get down on your knees and look for small notches or grooves on the underside of your car. This is where you need to place the jack. The jack needs a hard surface under it. Place a solid object under the jack if you've pulled over onto a soft surface. Once the jack is in place, slowly turn the handle so that some of the car's weight is removed from the flat tyre.

Step 3
Place the wheel brace on one of the wheel nuts and, with straight arm and straight back, "crack" each of the wheel nuts in turn in an anticlockwise direction. This is supposed to be the hardest bit. Keep a straight arm and back and you can use your foot and the weight of your body to turn the wheel brace, apparently. Now use the jack to lift the car up so that it is someway off the ground to accommodate the fully inflated tyre.

Step 4
You should now be able to remove the wheel nuts one by one and gently lift the wheel from the car.

Step 5
Lift the spare tyre onto the wheel studs. The air valve should be facing out. Tighten all the wheel nuts by hand. Tightening the bottom nut first will hold the wheel in place. Using the wheel brace, give all the wheel nuts a small nip to tighten them. The idea is not to tighten the nuts completely at this point because the car is not completely stable while it is still on the jack.

Step 6
Unwind the jack slowly until the new wheel takes the weight of the car and then remove it. Remember to keeo a straight arm and back. With the wheel brace horizontal to the ground, use the weight of your body to tighten all the wheel nuts.


New Piano

Today my new piano arrives! After I post this I will get ready and then catch the bus up to my parent's house. It's a second hand Yamaha grand piano. It's a C5 model and it's 2 metres long, so it will take up most of the space in my music room. It was made in 1984, so it's my age, but it's been very well maintained and in impeccable condition.

My old Kawai upright will be traded in. Although I hate playing that piano, the thought of saying goodbye to it gives me a pang. I suppose because it was my first. We spent a lot of time together.

When shopping for a reasonably affordable grand piano, Yamaha's and Kawai's are the usual choice. There are some other brands, Steinbach's, Beale's and lesser known brands, but Yamaha's and Kawai's have a reputation for solid workmanship, even tone, and a good ability for holding their tune. The two are somewhat similarly priced, depending on model, of course.

I made a conscious decision to obtain a Yamaha piano this time around. My experience with Kawai, which has included playing my piano, as well as Kawai's belonging to other people and at uni, has made me aware of mild deficiencies. A tendency towards a heavier touch and slower action. Tone which is mellow and even, but often lacking in depth and variety of colour. Of course these are generalisations and when buying a piano one must remember that every piano is different. A good quality upright can outperform a sub par grand piano. An excellent Yamaha grand can surpass a Steinway in poor condition. So it always depends on each piano.

At Allans they had a lot of Kawai pianos when I went to look and chat about trading in. When I asked why, the man said that they love them. I remarked that that was a shame because my experience of them hadn't been that good. He replied that Kawai had really improved their pianos since I had bought mine six years ago. The hammers are now made of some kind of metal (carbonate or something?) instead of the usual wood, meaning that the hammer action was faster and wear was greatly reduced. Indeed, a lot of the new pianos had signs stuck on, announcing that the action was "up to 16% faster". I sat down at a Kawai grand retailing for about $15 000 (about my price range). Improved or no, the piano was still undesirably clunky, and the action was much too slow for my liking. In fact, all of my issues with Kawai pianos was there.

At Winston Music, they specialise in new and second hand Yamaha pianos. I was originally considering a new GC1, at about $15 000 it was a really decent piano. In the end I went for the second hand C5, which is bigger and had a better sound and was great to play. As I mentioned, it was older, but in great condition, and sold for about the same price as the GC1. The C series is the Conservatory series and there is a huge difference between that series and the GC1 and GB1, which are below it. You can really feel the difference in your fingers and the tone is so much richer.

My Mum bargained them down, which is great, but was awfully embarrassing while it happened! And I get a new stool, it's a copy of the Bösendorfer stool (a great piano stool). And it arrives today, and they'll have to take off the piano's legs and turn it sideways to fit in the door, a feat which I am keen to see in person yet which gives me shivers of horror when I think about it.


I have not been posting very much and neither have I been journalling. This is what a day generally consists of for Michelle:

Get up.
Go to the gym.
Return home all sweaty and have a shower.
Spend ages getting dressed.
Have breakfast.
Maybe do some small housework things, like laundry or dishes.
Go somewhere with a piano (my parent's house, work, uni) and practise and drink tea and coffee.
Go to work.
Go home briefly for dinner.
Go to uni to practise.
Return home and play Eternal Sonata on xbox 360.

Hm, I just realised having lunch is not included. Well I definitely have lunch every day. Anyway, you get the picture. I'm back at uni doing Honours in piano and I've changed teachers and my new teacher is very good and she's helping me with my technique and now the way I play the piano is totally changing and it feels good, but it's hard work. And I never can fit in enough practise in a day.

In other music-related news, I'm getting a grand piano (hopefully) soon! It's going to live at my parent's house, and when my lease is up I'm moving back in with my parents. That will be both good and bad.

Also my band is doing pretty well. We got a Helpmann Academy grant to fund the recording of a CD, and we scored a semi-regular gig at Boho Bar. Including this Sunday the 14th, starting at 5pm and playing until 9pm with various half hour breaks after each hour set. Everyone is invited. If you don't come for us, come for the food. If you like potato wedges you'll love their potato skins (they're so good.) We are playing on Radio Adelaide this Friday at 3pm as part of their live music fest too, so tune in to 101.5.

This is turning into a self-promototional plug. Hm, what else can I encourage people to do in support of me? I accept gifts and sponsorship, PM me for my mailing address or bank account details :D

Soy Milk

I hate drinking milk, it makes me feel ill if I have too much of it. I have it in tea, and in cereal and that's all. Funny that when my sisters and I were children, Mum would warm a glass of milk in the microwave for each of us before bed, which indicates that my distaste for it must have set in when I got older. Milk is supposed to be important for calcium intake, and all that, but in Hong Kong and China, where Mum and Dad grew up, cow's milk is hard to come by. When I visited my auntie in Hong Kong, all she had was soy milk and and powdered coffee whitener. Are people who live in places where milk is in short supply generally suffering from lack of calcium? In other words, should I be making an effort to drink more milk? Or can I get away with not drinking very much milk because my race has adapted?

I hate cow's milk but I love soy milk, and on its own merits. I just like the taste of it. I can have it on cereal or muesli, in my tea and on its own. It has come to my attention that there are many varieties of soy milk available. You can get sweetened soy milk from Chinatown which I think is delicious (but other people I have shown it to think it's much too sweet), you can get refrigerated and long-life soy milk at the supermarket. Even the supermarket stuff has a big range.

Recently someone recommended I try "Australia's Own" soy milk. I found a carton of it in the long-life section but apparently sometimes it's in the health section. The carton proclaims that it is "malt free" and has "no beany aftertaste". It has the creamy texture of full-cream cow's milk, but it is rather tasteless. It has even less taste than cow's milk. It only has a very, very slight soy bean aftertaste. It is creamy but boring in flavour. What I don't get is why "no beany aftertaste" is supposed to be appealing. What's the point, if it doesn't taste like soy beans? It's like making orange juice that doesn't taste like citrus.

My ideal soy milk would be tasty without added sugar, not too watery, and decidedly beany.

You must try this immediately

Hot Ribena. It's my new favourite thing. Use boiling water fresh from the kettle. Mmmm... so warming and delicious in the cold winter nights.

Latest Month

December 2008