Rachel's Blog

Mon, 30 Apr 2007
Blogging Break

To spare you all the slow degeneration of this blog into the series of ill-concieved and poorly written rants it seems to be turning into, I'm going on a blogging break. A week? A month? Subscribe to the RSS and be pleasantly surprised.

Tue, 24 Apr 2007
Todd "Not an Artist" Goldman
goldfish in a bowl cartoon

Todd Goldman is a celebrated "artist" whose works sell for thousands in galleries. It has recently come to light that he may have nicked more than a couple of the images in question. Legal stuff is underway.

However it was this image of a goldfish that has been niggling at the back of my brain for the last couple of days and I think I've finally figured it out. It's the sort of thing you would only recognise if you happened to be in a slow office job with a Windows machine in the year 2000. Fish.exe. From memory (I don't have the capacity to check this - please let me know if I'm right) there's a goldfish in a bowl to which you can apply all sorts of tortures - poison, electric shock - and he looks sicker and sicker until you finally do him in with a bomb.

I believe it's one of the sick versions of the fish that has been appropriated for Goldman's line of t-shirts and snowglobes. It wouldn't surprise me if that thick, sloppy linework had been traced off a monitor.

Do Not Call, Visit, Send Snail Mail or Engage in Idle Chit-chat

Hands up if you love unsolicited telephone calls. I see no hands raised. (har har). Feel like you've been getting more than your fair share recently?

In our house it's got to the point where if, after picking up the handset, there is a >2 second delay between me saying "Hello?" and a response, I will hang up. I will not talk to anyone with an automatic dialler. This has probably led to me hanging up on some close personal friends and relatives who are trying to drink coffee or something while calling. Sorry about that.

Here in outer Mongolia suburbia we're averaging one marketing call a day. Doesn't sound like much, but we average fewer personal calls than that. If the phone rings around here, it's a big deal. (email, people...email)

What completely pisses me off is the way they waste time. I don't care what your name is. You don't know my name. (You pretend to, but you're so wrong.) As for how I am? How could you possibly care? Yes, I do know, or can make an educated guess at what your charity supports, what your company does or how I could benefit. Save some time for both of us - you could fit more calls in.

So, if I were very hard up and obliged to write marketing copy to feed my family, this is how the phone calls would go:
"Good morning/afternoon/evening. I am sorry to disturb you. This is a marketing call from XYZ Bank/I'm raising money for XYZ charity/I'm promoting a new home loan/This is a survey on XYZ habits.
Cut to the chase and allow me to hang up faster.

The Australian National Do Not Call Register will launch in May this year. Hip hip hooray! Calloo! Callay! Glancing through the front page, however, I am disheartened to see "Religious Organisations" are exempt under the explanation of them being considered to be operating in the public interest. If they are not already exempt by way of being a registered charity, I reserve the right to be very rude indeedy.

Now we've just got to get the ball rolling on the National Do Not Visit Register. This evening we had two door-knockers in 20 minutes. One, a well known charity, began with name-tag waving and "Hello, mumble mumble mumble..." to which I responded, "No". And shut the door.

The second actually engaged Richard for a few minutes under the pretence of being our gas supplier. Lies, lies, all lies. Not a bad effort though; they both stumbled down the front steps in pitch darkness without breaking anything. I do like having my pot-plants placed just so.

Sat, 21 Apr 2007
High School = not the best part of your life.

This article in The Age is a a checklist of all the horrible things that happened to me in high school. I find the anecdotes equally comforting and mortifying.

Thu, 19 Apr 2007
Piddle Diddle

Fiddle Faddle

Fiddle Faddle
Fish fash
Flip flap flop
Diddle daddle
Dish dash
Clip clap clop
Fiddle diddle
Fish dish
Dish dash doo
Piddle diddle
Pish dish
Bim bam boo

- Spike Milligan

The more times you read it - out loud of course - the more hilarious it gets. Guaranteed to send children into hysterics.

Tue, 17 Apr 2007
Fruit bowls disguised as donuts.

I had an observation today that was worthy of being Boinged.

Don't let anyone tell you that your brain is full of useless trivia. One day it will all be proven indispensable. (Although it might take a while.)

Fri, 13 Apr 2007
Wears pink, smiles demurely.

It's like something out of Woman's Day circa 1948. Except the part about the open-toed shoes.

Fri, 13 Apr 2007
Today's loot

Aren't they so pretty all grouped together like that?
Now I just need to figure out which one to start with.

Magic's Child (Magic Or Madness trilogy) at Amazon
Fantastic Wonder Stories at Ticonderoga
Buffy Season 8 - support your local comic book store!

Sat, 07 Apr 2007
Animated Bayeux Tapestry

Ever wondered what all those embroidered people were really up to?

Youtube link.

(via gillpollack)

Wed, 04 Apr 2007
Essential technological advances for day-to-day life.

In addition to web-compliant supermarkets, there are two more technological advances I think the world needs, starting today.

Firstly, radio stations should broadcast track data—artist, title, album—alongside each song. All newer cars have digital displays don't they? Imagine listening to a cheery little tune, glancing across to the radio and swearing to never purchase any band with a name containing "New", "Life" or that creates a plural using a "z". It couldn't be that hard to implement. It's so tedious waiting for the dj to back-announce, which they inevitably won't do if it's a track you're curious about.

Secondly, and speaking of tedious, advertisements for the voting schemes of reality TV shows should not be shown. Too much to ask? OK, how about they not be shown after you're generous enough to vote. I don't even watch these singing-dancing-weight-loss-humiliation shows, but I'd very nearly pay the 55c to not ever see or hear again "If you want to keep Ducky in the show ring 1902 123 456. If you think Ferris should stick around ring 1902 123 457. If you preferred Curly Sue's performance ring 1902 123 458. Or SMS your favourite contestant's name to 1902 RIP OFF."

I guess that TVs in that case would need something similar to cookies, which is probably a gross invasion of privacy once it was linked to your phone account. But still, the ads are almost bad enough to warrant it. Perhaps it's a grand nefarious scheme which they're poised to implement in the guise of saving your eyeballs and brain, but instead they'll be armed with mountains of marketing data to on-sell and, I'm raving aren't I?

Tue, 03 Apr 2007

Have you ever noticed the incredible amount of energy you have to expend in order to go to the supermarket? There's so much activity necessary to complete such a seemingly straighforward, not to mention essential, task.

At first glance supermarkets seem ideal - all your day-to-day items in one place for you to select from and take home.

It's a false sense though. Despite all those kilometres of shelving, (a rough mental calcuation suggests around 2.5km at my local store) selection is limited. You're restricted to the items that sell well, have a recognisable brand name and a certain price-point. Take the example of Woolworths who recently pulled an "environmentally friendly" nappy from the shelves because they weren't selling. Oh, wait, they were selling and sales were on the rise, but not fast enough. Sorry, that line has been deleted.

But back to the energy expenditure. First you have to go to the store. Which means driving. They're not equipped with thousands of carparking spaces so you can easily walk there. Even if you do walk, pedestrian access is a laugh. It's even worse if the supermarket is within a mall. Even more walking to get to and from the one available parking space at the far end of the architectural monstrosity.

Next is the finding of the trolley. This alone would be worthy of a computer game, with the end of level boss represented by the trolley jockey and his Massive Trailer of Carpark Havoc Doom! (That's after you've wrestled all the exercise deficient women who need an entire trolley to cart their handbag around in.)

But say you've achieved all that and you've made it into the supermarket with the trolley and, because you're having a good day, you've even got a list to work from. Here's what you have to do:

  1. Walk every aisle. It doesn't matter what you're looking for. That one slightly unusual item you need is never where you would have put it. (For the record - bicarb of soda is with the baking goods, bulk vinegar is in the cleaning aisle.)
  2. Load your trolley. I hope even if the steering is wonky that at least it doesn't squeak.
  3. Find the checkout with the shortest* line.
  4. Read a magazine (Do NOT purchase it.)
  5. Unload your trolley onto the conveyor.
  6. Wince as your items are inexpertly packed. Hope the grapes aren't squashed.
  7. Pay for goods.
  8. Reload trolley.
  9. Return to car.
  10. Unload trolley.
  11. Return trolley to bay.

*Shortest is relative. In my experience it doesn't matter which queue you choose, it will still take the same amount of time. In a longer line where people have fewer items you'll be inching forward, in a shorter line where shoppers have full trolleys, you get to stand still.

Note that in this scenario you're so busy unloading for the convenience of the store, which is absolutely not offering you any customer service, that you cannot observe the screen that is placed for the specific purpose of allowing you to check the pricing of the goods you are purchasing. Thus your faith must remain with the store; you miss any opportunity to catch errors; the store has fulfilled its legal obligations.

Where are the self-checking trolleys? Why is online supermarket shopping such a painful and expensive experience? Where are the employees that are specifically rostered on to help you locate items and get them safely through the maze of activity to your vehicle? Naïve? Yes.

I confess that there can be something comforting about the ritual, but there are so many ways that the pains of this weekly errand can be eased. That is why I fully support and endorse Supermarket 2.0

(via Boing Boing)