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3rd January 2008 - Well the weather outside is frightful but work is pretty warm
I normally enjoy work anyway, but with a sprinkling of snow outside and an icy wind, once I got out of my cosy bed1 and ventured outside, I was ecstatic about getting to work so I would be back in the warm!
Time to catch up on some things. I miss my home, but now I get to see my boyfriend again, and I will be paying home a visit again soon! In the last few days when I was at home, I spent even more time with my family, collected some more funds, and was given a sleeping bag by a friend to borrow for my conservation trip. I also filled in a passport form that one of my housemates retrieved from the Post Office for me a while ago. It now has my old passport with it, since to be able to go on the trip, my passport needs to be more in-date than it actually is2.
I also have kindly been given the thumbs up to do some fund-raising at work which is excellent. All I've planned is collecting money in a box whilst I'm dressed up in my fund-raising clothes, but since I'm supposed to be working at work and my plan lets me do just that, then that's fine! I sit near the kitchen so people will definitely be going past my desk on their epic travels across the office, else they can't get any coffee. I'll be sending the email about it to everyone tomorrow, and will be starting my collecting on Monday, all through the working week.
I am borrowing this beady-eyed, fluffy orange companion to help me with my quest.
7th January 2008 - I have a dream... an Indonesian Dream!
Just a quick message before I go to bed; I caught a bug a few days ago, and not the kind that goes buzzzz, so it was a battle to complete everything that I wanted to accomplish over the weekend. I have got a good chunk of it done though, considering I was poorly1. My main website design is almost done, and my artwork is at the point I will call “finished”, because if you want you can carry on with art forever! Another dinky piece of artwork is on the go, and my passport form is still waiting patiently for a new set of photos after my first set became creased in transit. I have been sending and creating emails and messages out these past couple of weeks in a search for more goodies for my first competition. I have one yes so far, and no turn-downs, but I want to keep the new prize secret a bit longer while it is being made, yes, made, for my competition!
On the subject of prizes, I used my TOC Aromatherapy Evening Primrose soap for sensitive skin for the first time and it was soft and lovely with a delicious smell, so I have decided to donate one of the other TOC soaps I bought to my competition too so someone else can try some. I picked it specially, in case I wanted to give soap as a prize too; it is called "Indonesian Dream" and has ylang ylang and lemongrass in it, and was the scent I was originally looking for as a donated shower gel. Bed of Roses shower gel is a gorgeously scented alternative as there were no Indonesian Dream shower gels at the time of prize-searching, but now I can't resist giving you a chunk of TOC palm oil-free soap glory too. I chose Indonesian Dream because of the scent and the name. An Indonesia with rainforest animals safely in their rainforest homes2 is my Indonesian Dream!
Now bed is really calling; more fund-raising stories will arrive when I'm not so tired. And hungry.
1. It is the kind of bug that magically lets you feel fine for a while until it clicks its fingers and you feel sleeeepy, or light-headed, or get a headache. Then it lets you forget everything, including what you were trying to do at that moment, like some kind of warped hypnotist. Then after spending some time feeling ill or having a strangely large appetite, you are back to feeling normal again, and the cycle is complete. From time to time the bug throws in the odd "mystery ailment" to jazz things up a bit.
2. or as safe as you can be in a rainforest at any rate; rainforests can be dangerous but can also hide a lot of natural wonders. Either way the orangutans seem content and very at home living in rainforests; they're a lot safer with the rainforests than without them!
8th January 2008 - Mystery people
I talked to a lady on the bus about orangutans today. I have no idea who she was, but I cleared a space for her and she started chatting. I was more than happy to chat back because she seemed nice. It was only for a few minutes but I taught her something new - about how the palm oil industry is causing trouble for the rainforest, and about how orangutans live - and in return she told me something that I found thought provoking; sometimes the reason why people don't help protect something is because they haven't been educated on it enough. It makes sense. Maybe they don't understand why what you want to protect is in so much trouble, maybe they haven't heard enough about it to peak their interest, or maybe they just plain haven't heard about it at all! I've wanted to teach people about orangutans as part of my project, and after chatting with the lady it feels even more meaningful. Talking to her was good practice for gaining confidence in spreading the word on the orangutan’s plight, but it also has started my mind cogs whirring again.
In other news, two days into my fund-raising at work and a grand total of 30p has been yielded; I did a lot better than yesterday because during that time there were no pennies dropped in the box at all! I didn't see the person or people that donated1 and they didn't want to be included on my Thanks page, but I must say thank you to the mystery person or (two) mystery people! Maybe I should send the staff at work some educational orangutan facts to get them in more touch with their inner orangutan lover...
9th January 2008 - Happiness!
Yeee! I must admit on Monday night I was beginning to wonder if my fund-raising plan at work was going to go down the drain, but when I checked the donation box today, over eighteen pounds was sat in there, looking back up at me1! I am so close to my first one hundred pounds I can almost smell it2!
10th Jan 2008 - FIRST £100 AND BOX OF MONTEZUMA'S CHOCCY!
Yippeeeee! Sorry if I scared you there but his title had to be in capitals because I'm just so excited! One... Ubisoft Reflections has managed to tip my donations past the first one hundred pounds! Maybe I'm biased because I'm working there at the moment but I'm so glad they did; I like that company. Now they will forever be part of a special stage in Jo's orangutan conservation history! They also received some funny little orangutan facts via email to do with fruit and boats, and one fact on palm oil. I would like to say a GREAT thank you to EVERYONE who has donated so far, whether they work at Reflections or not. Without you I wouldn't even be at this first memorable step!
Two... As you know, I've been scouting around for prize donations for my first orangutan competition. Now that I was donated a palm oil-free prize from the land of cosmetics - one of the major industries that use palm oil, I was trying to hunt down one in the food industry. Recently I was given some Montezuma's chocolate for Christmas by my family which I'd never tried before. I researched into them and found that they have an ethical stance, so I rang them up... turns out they don't use palm oil in any of their products at all which is great. I wrote them an email explaining my circumstances and asking if they could please donate something like a chocolate bar to my competition, and got my answer today.
They are donating a box of them!
What's more they are "Orangutang" speciality bars, and even vegans can eat them because they are dark chocolate1. Perfect! You can see them on their website if you click here, or on their very own space in my "Competitions" section, here.
1. Although they do note that there may be dairy traces, just to be on the safe side I'm guessing since they make white and milk chocolate too. For all those non-vegans, don't think that vegan chocolate must be tasteless - the vegan choccy I tried for Christmas was very yummy!
12th Jan 2008 - So much to do!
Oh... my... gosh... I got into work yesterday and I was greeted by a big bag from my workmates. He'd already given me a little bag a bit ago to help me with carrying my donated coins home, but now I had another one from him - with the contents of his penny collection in it! Talk about saving them up for a rainy day - more like for a rainy forest trip! Then at the end of the Friday I examined my donation box. Again, it was full of coins! As I counted them up another workmate came and gave me a cup full of change as well! It was like weight-lifting exercises when I had collected up all the coins of the day, so a huge thanks to them and the people who have given today!
Now onto today's news. The money I have raised is now safely in a bank account of its own - one, to more easily keep track of how much I have1 and two; to keep it separate from my both own money and my own bank interest. It would be annoying to have to work out how much of my interest should go to the trip otherwise, and I thought it would be unfair to keep any interest the trip money might make to myself, so now I don't have to worry about the complications!
This Saturday seemed to be the day of closed things. One winter evening I'd asked a policeman what I need to do if I'd like to raise money in the street, and he'd advised me to go to the Civic Centre. Unfortunately I found out today that most of it is closed at the weekend and after I normally finish work, and open whilst I am at work. It's annoying but there are a few solutions; finding someone else to get any forms for me, seeing if I can ring them to ask if they can send them via mail, or sprinting up there in my lunchtime or flexitime and making up the extra hours.
Then I'd tried to look into bank accounts but one of the banks I was going to enquire in was flipping closed, so I hadn't got much choice other than to miss it out and try the others because I needed it sorted today. As a last edition to the closed places, a company that I rang to try and see about a prize donation also did not answer, most likely because they were closed too!
The places that weren't closed today included a travel shop that I got an approximate price for my flight2, Lush Newcastle who kindly said they would take my donation box if I brought it in and collect any donations the staff wanted to give, and my work. I worked for about an hour and took a peek in my work donation box which had £2 in it which I have now added to my spreadsheet.
1. although I am also keeping accounts of things via a spreadsheet too
2. about £863.50 for a return, and £32.99 insurance. I have to investigate other plane flights quickly because prices go up the more I leave it... the company that Frontier advised I ask about flight prices still haven't got back to my email so I'm going to try and phone them.
15th Jan 2008 - Repetition... rep rep itition... tion...
It's a good job I scouted for plane flight prices instead of buying the first tickets I found. I decided to triple check the dates of the airport collection and drop-off, because the last thing I wanted was the wrong plane flights. Frontier hadn't mentioned any specific times of day in their last email or on the website information, and I also wasn't clear on the drop-off date, so I adventured yet again into the world of Frontier's call-back feature1. I had wanted the call-back yesterday but it came today - at least it came - I've decided it should have a message on the website warning that call-backs have to be at least 24 hours after the request or however many hours it is they have problems with, else you risk not getting one when you'd planned. Here is the reason I am especially annoyed today:
I was told on the phone that the dates of the project had changed, not by just a few days but by about five days - enough to waste a lot of my trip had I not known. It may have said that dates are subject to change2, but wouldn't it be clever to actually inform the people going on the trip if the dates do change, without them having to stumble across the fact whilst in a call they arranged themselves? I am not impressed. As I said, this was a triple check, since my double check was me sending them an email. Instead of the official start date being the 4th of the month like I had been told, with my deployment being recorded on my website info page as "July", I can now either choose to be picked up on the 30th of June or the 4th of August. They also wanted me to book the flights as soon as I could which was sensible were it not for the fact that if I had done that I'd have been stuck. The fact that they wanted me to pay the rest of the deposit as soon as I could because my trip was "cheap" was also mentioned. The money is not due until "01-05-2008"3, and they are based in the UK so that's the first of May. Everybody likes to get their money safely but I haven't even fundraised enough to make up for the £200 deposit I had to give yet, never mind the rest!
Another thing; there must have been a two calls for one offer on, because Frontier managed to call me twice in the same day, not realising until they heard my voice that I'd already had a call-back! The person was very friendly but I used the time to ask for an email to be sent to me by Frontier when I book my plane tickets, confirming that the new date will not change again, so at least that's one good thing. Surely they can't expect us to buy new plane tickets if we book a flight then they change the date.
Well I can't leave this diary entry without some nice bits to balance the moans; my mighty orange donation box has now winged its way to Lush in Newcastle, to see if I can get some more donations. Also accompanying it was a letter - I'll find out the answer to my letter when I take my donation box back in about a week's time. Here's fingers crossed!
1. or rather their "call back as long as you don't ask for the call back on the same day" feature.
2. "5.1 Frontier will use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that a participant participates on the project described in the participant's letter of offer, but the participant acknowledges the right of Frontier to change the location or other aspects of the project, to postpone or advance the departure date or date of return or to provide an alternative project or to make such other changes as Frontier in the circumstances deems fit." in their conditions of participation.
3. "3.3 For participants on a project other than a 4-week Project Management Programme the balance of the project contribution from the participant is due in two equal instalments. The first instalment must be received no later than 8 weeks before the expected departure date and the second instalment must be received not later than 4 weeks before the expected departure date." in their conditions of participation.
16th Jan 2008 - Hip Hip Hooray for Wicknwax palm-free candles!
Another cheer for an excellent prize-donating company! Wicknwax have said that they will donate a candle with the order I am making with them - excellent! All of Wicknwax's candles are palm-free and you'll find some beautiful-looking ones in all sorts of shapes, sizes and scents1 (or ones with no scents, if you really want). They also sell some interesting palm-free bath bombs and melts. The only thing at the time of writing that could possibly contain palm is the vegetable glycerine soaps because palm can sometimes (but not always!) be hidden in the "vegetable" or in ingredients such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS). This is one reason why finding out if a product or even an ingredient is totally palm-free is trickier than it sounds, but there are a wealth of definitely palm-free products to see! I strongly suggest checking out the soy fruit smoothie candles.
Below are some web articles on palm oil to click on if you feel like expanding your knowledge. The first one is from the Orangutan Foundation - the charity any excess of the £2000 trip money that I don't need will go to. That article is dated 2006 but still interesting to read. The second one is from Borneo Orangutan Survival UK about the cosmetics company Lush and their stance on palm oil. The third one is an interesting blog with a video at the bottom about unsustainable palm that brought tears to my eyes. *sniff*. I bet you can't look into the baby orangutan's eyes in the image at the top of the blog and not admit that orangutans can be cute. Everyone go awwww (note from the future - unfortunately the soap in the palm oil blog was later found to contain some palm - please read my 27th January 2008 diary entry lower down for more information)!
1. I've never met a candle with sense but having lots of scents could be better for a candle than a brain. If these candles did have an IQ bigger than zero however I'm sure they would spread the word about problems with unsustainable palm plantations - maybe someone should invent a candle with a brain after all...
21st January 2008 - Snoooooow
And now for the Orangutan Conservation weather. Today has been mixed with mainly bright patches1. Money donations around the Newcastle Lush area have been very dry with not one penny raining into the almost week-long donation box, although a rainbow shone through late in the day via news that the nice Newcastle Lush manager is going to donate a prize to the orangutan conservation competition2. Not all of Lush's cosmetics are palm-free, but they like having an ethical stance and are supposed to be trying to remove palm from their products. I have recently been trying to get a list of their totally palm-free products so you can know which ones they are.
In the work area, a day off has been booked in February so that I can sort out the medical bits of my Orangutan Conservation trip preparation, and happiness has shone through when a work competition that I thought I was too late3 to enter is still open for another week. Huzzah!
We also have a sprinkling of Orangutan Foundation emails as I ask about orangutan-related bits and bobs. They seem like very nice people!
1. although the day has literally been full of rain which turned to snow which turned to rain again. I like snow, and warm weather with rain, but today was a bit cold and soggy for my liking!
2. I had sent an email to Lush headquarters before Christmas and received no reply, so I rang them up instead and explained what I was doing. I was told to write a letter to my local Lush shop to ask about prize donations. It sounds as if my determination has paid off, but it is still a surprise as to what the prize will be!
3. Read as “busy”
22nd January - Shakey shakey!
Chink, jingle! It’s just a quick diary entry today because I am tired and starving. When I collected my Lush Newcastle box today, there was just over a pound in it, so thank you again to the person or people that donated. I am happy that there was more than nothing in the box! I was told that the manager had gone to a meeting and was going to ask about suitable prizes, so it’s all good there; I'm hoping I’ll be able to collect whatever the prize donation may be on Saturday.
I have been drooling over the Montezuma's postcard that was sent to me last week, accompanied by Montezuma's prize donation of not one but sixteen high-quality, palm-free Orangutang chocolate bars - how apt! My boyfriend kept an ear out for the post and looked after the parcel for me until I was back from a few days away at my Mother's. I promise not to eat any of the choccies and every one will be drool-free - they are all for various orangutan fund-raising competitions that I will create. If you don't win the first competition, you'll still have a chance to taste the chocolate goodness in another one.
Back again and feeling less weak from hunger - I was also given a detailed list of some orangutan-related information that I was seeking. It came from the Orangutan Foundation - if you are reading this then thank you. The idea it is for is still a secret from most of you, fellow nature lovers! I'm not sure when or even if I'll find the time to turn the idea into reality, so I don't want to disappoint you by letting the cat out of the bag, then finding it won't happen. When the cogs of creation do start spinning more rapidly, I’ll let you know.
24th January - I'm spinning around, or at least it feels like it
I spent most of yesterday either feeling weak at work, dizzy, or fast asleep in bed - feeling wibbly in my last post didn't seem to be all due to lack of food. I've still been feeling a bit icky today... you get the picture. Because of feeling like I'd walked to Indonesia from England1, the entry I created for my work competition was nowhere as good as it could have been. Most of the time I was going to spend on my poor, neglected competition entry had been sacrificed for more important things like work and sleep. Still, one entry is better than none at all - at least I produced one!
I also now have a paypal account, and am hoping I can use it to collect donations online. It would have been set up a while ago but the nearest cash machine had been feeling as ill as I had - it displayed a Windows-style error message saying that the system was shutting down, and please could I close all programs. Good of it to ask nicely. The next time I saw it, it was shut down completely, wrapped up in an out-of-order sign, and then finally it was back up again. Is this the first case of a computer giving a human a virus, instead of the other way round, or is it the first case of electronic objects having illness-based sympathy pains? Who knows who got ill first...my computer at work has been as slow as anything lately too, but at least it has still been working. Welcome, friends, to the World of the Straaaaaange.
26th January 2008 - New friends
I have a new friend!
Soon we will have an orangutan in every room! This one was given to me by one of my housemate's Mothers; wasn't that sweet? It will be accompanying me when I go fund-raising; as you see from the photo, it seems cool about that.
It hate to call it "it"... he or she needs a special name asap! Guess what my first competition will be?.. get your thinking caps on ready for when I officially start the competition later on; you have a head-start for thinking up ideas! Well, you'll read that when I actually get the website up...
I've been showing the first working image of my website to my boyfriend, and also my friend who works at Just Giving and likes website design. They gave me their thoughts on what they liked and ideas on how to make it better; it's good to see points of view from other people on my work. They came of with some good points so I'm going to work on making my website design even better!
27th January 2008 - Detective Jo
I've been checking out a mystery recently - the mystery of the hidden palm. With my palm-free prizes I try to get as much assurance as possible that there is no palm in them at all, including hidden palm, but sometimes that can be even harder than it seems. I got given some lovely-smelling prizes from Lush cosmetics, a company that makes sure all their products are vegetarian - a lot are vegan too. They try to be ethical and investigate ways of creating environmentally friendly packaging or as little packaging as possible1. I had won a trip to their factory ages ago, and it had been ever so much fun! One of their fact sheets says they support the Sumatran Orangutan Society (the SOS), so yay! Well, I'd explained about the problem with hidden palm and SLS etc, and the manager went to find out about one of their new soaps called Greenwash.
When I came to collect the prizes, it included the soap, and I was assured that it didn't contain any palm whatsoever, and this is where the mystery began. The online description of the soap also said it contained no palm at all too, but I had read on a different website that it was known as a palm-reduced soap because Lush couldn't totally guarantee that the ingredients such as SLS were palm-free. I also got a reply from their customer service mentioning a similar thing when I asked if they had a list of definitely palm-free products.
I asked on the Lush forum if anyone knew the correct answer to this mystery, and I found that unfortunately the soap was not totally palm-free. What had happened was that their suppliers had told them that their ingredients were safe from palm, but then Lush found it was hiding in other ingredients. At the time of writing they had thought the soap was palm-free, so hopefully the website description will get changed as to not confuse people. Aw… the good news is that they have not given up and are still working on making palm-free soaps. I've been told more or less that they'll try and get the message about Greenwash across to other Lush staff that the message hasn't reached yet. I'm currently finding out about the other Lush prizes before they get the palm-free go ahead, but this backs up how extremely tricky it can be to find all the hidden palm! Fear not, readers, everything will be alright.
The fun's really starting now that I have to fund-raise and make my website whilst doing fifty hour weeks at my job
for a while. I was warned of it at the interview and now here it comes. I'm already having problems finding time to
train properly past the stair-walking, but I brought the orangutan trip challenge on myself. I have no regrets on
wanting to help the orangutans - everyone likes a challenge...
Quick last note. The voting has started on work's competition that I entered. I don’t know how I'll do but I got a
comment from someone saying that they liked mine, which makes me happy that someone enjoys my little orangutan entry!
1. They have recently changed some of their plastic packaging to more compost-able boxes which in my opinion look much better than their old packaging! You’ll also find biodegradable popcorn as packing in gift boxes.
28th January 2008 - Fifty hour weeks commeth
Everyone likes a challenge, right? Right? I phoned up Frontier today to chase up the email that I sent; the one that asked for written assurance that the trip dates wouldn’t change again. That's not the challenge; I talked to a very friendly lady who sent me an email back and apologized for the email being missed, so I can book my plane flights with more confidence now. I seem to get the best communication from Frontier when I just ring them up.
The fun's really starting now that I have to fund-raise and make my website whilst doing fifty hour weeks at my job for a while. I was warned of it at the interview and now here it comes. I'm already having problems finding time to train properly past the stair-walking, but I brought the orangutan trip challenge on myself. I have no regrets on wanting to help the orangutans - everyone likes a challenge...
Quick last note. The voting has started on work's competition that I entered. I don’t know how I'll do but I got a comment from someone saying that they liked mine, which makes me happy that someone enjoys my little orangutan entry!