Saturday, February 28, 2009

Holding Out for a Hero (or Trying to Be One!)

Just a little blog today, a little something for those of you who read, and to keep current.

I am officially on three weeks holiday from work.  I think I've kind've had a bit of an energy collapse in the past 24 hours, it's like my body has heard my brain say "Woohoo, I'm on holiday!" and responded with a very firm "Lie DOWN!!"  I don't have a lot of energy just at the moment, and I feel kind of like I'm coming down with something, but I think that's just that beginning of holiday crash.  You know how it is, when you push yourself too hard, and don't take your time, when you DO stop, you kind of fall over.

So I am going to listen to my body, have a little bit of a mooch over the next day or so, and not just leap into all of the fun things I want to do while I have some time until I've recharged a little.  I need to stop trying to be a hero.

And on the subject of being heroes, I was faffing about this morning and found this cute website that you can make your own superhero.  Check mine out...


Doesn't she rock that crossbow?  Want to go make your own?  Go to: The Hero Factory

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is Everything That is Good Bad for You?

There have been articles in all the major papers around the traps over the past 24 hours, like this one from the Courier Mail.  It seem some boffin has published a paper in the Institute of Biology journal stating that social media like Facebook and Twitter are terribly dangerous for us all, and that as a result, we're going to get cancer from it.

There was another one doing the traps a couple of days ago how a glass of red wine each day gives you a 160% higher chance of getting oral cancer.  What?

What is it with boffins who love to come out of the woodwork and do a "study" on anything that we enjoy (red wine, chocolate, sex, social media, having a snooze on a Sunday arvo) and then claim it's all terribly bad for us and we're going to get CANCER.  You have to capitalise it you know, cos it's all very serious and if you don't stop doing what you are doing right now, you're going to get CANCER.

Stop it.  Seriously, whatever it is you're doing RIGHT THIS INSTANT, stop it right now.  Or you'll get cancer.

Now I'm getting silly aren't I?  But I'm just a bit over there being a huge kerfuffle in the "regular" media over what's going to give you cancer just because some boffin says so.  The thing about the red wine giving you oral cancer?  I know someone who died at 26 of oral cancer who had never had an alcoholic drink, a cigarette, sex or been on a social media site.  She was just a lovely young woman who lived a very strict Christian life.  How do you like them apples, boffins?

Won't somebody please think of the children!!!!

Back to the social media thing, boffin Dr Sigman claims that sites like Facebook are keeping us all at home sitting in the dark talking to each other on our computers, and that's bad.

Now I don't know about you, but since I started getting into social media, my "real life" social life has EXPLODED.  I barely have a week where I'm not running around like a crazy woman trying to get to all of the social events, meet ups and gigs I've got planned.  And where have I planned these?  Facebook... Twitter... 

Here's an example.  One Sunday morning, I was slothing about in bed.  I rolled over, picked up my mobile phone off my bedside table and sent a tweet to Twitter via text message.  That tweet was "I feel like brunch.  Toast is boring."

Half an hour later, my mobile phone rang.  "Hi," said a friend "I saw your tweet so I thought I could pick you up and we can go out for brunch.  I'm bored too."  So off we went that morning to a rather lovely brunch and lots of chat and laughs together.

And that's only one example.  I could tell  you many, many more, from big organised events like Twestival, parties and dinners and such with friends, to one on one catch ups.  Tonight I am going to a party organised almost exclusively on Facebook.  Monday I'm having lunch with a friend, we organised it on Facebook.  Tuesday night I have a dinner I'm attending that I heard about on Twitter, and taking a fellow tweeting friend with me.  And that's just over the next four days, it goes on.

When are the boffins going to get that social media is not about social misfits sitting at home in a room lit only by their monitor, tapping away at one another.  They need to understand that social media is a tool that everyday people use to connect with each other.  And contrary to popular belief, it's not just the young that are doing it.  It's been awhile since I've been a youth.  My friends that use social media range from youths to those who are old enough to be my parent.

And I have made new friends through social media websites.  Whether it be catching up with a like minded Twitter buddy for a coffee, attending a local group meet up, or conversing with someone on Facebook from San Francisco that I intend to catch up with  next time I take a trip over to the US, social media continually brings new social contacts into my life.

One of the things I'm thinking is that we all need to let go of the idea that there is a virtual life and a real life, and that they're two separate entities.  All of it is my real life, the same as talking to someone on the telephone is part of my real life.  Social media are tools for communication.  And people are using them to conduct their lives.  Not to hide behind so that they don't have to live, but to enable them to live more fully.

Here's a little food for thought for you:

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Don't Need Filtration Thank You!

So you know the Australian Government want to put a filter on the Australian internet right? Supposedly it's there to stop kiddie porn being available to the Australian public, but as there are all kinds of ways to circumvent filters (people in China do it all the time), it won't work because those people who want to partake in child pornography are crafty bastards right.

Instead, it will make YOUR internet painfully slow, block sites that are legitimate because they have one naughty word in them and besides, this ISN'T China anyway. This is Australia, a free country where the laws against kiddie porn need to be tougher and more comprehensive, not a filter put on the rest of us law abiding citizens accessing the internet that WE pay for with OUR money...

So here's something quick and easy you can do to help. Sign this e-petition. You don't even have to leave my blog to do it.

And if you blog, or Facebook, or anything else, spread the word. Cos trust me, your internet access will suck even worse than it does now if this goes ahead, and it won't even have solved the problem of child pornography.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Destroy them ALL!!!

I witnessed something out of my own nightmares today, only happening to someone else.

I am on the bus.  We are stopped in traffic.  There is a small black  hatchback car beside the bus.  On the roof of that car is a MASSIVE huntsman spider.  Google it, cos I ain't gonna post a picture.  It was seriously bigger than my hand.  This was my reaction, and I was safe in the bus:


The two ladies sitting behind me had pretty much the same reaction.

While we watched in our own little bubbles of terror, the spider ran all over the car, and eventually over the passenger side window, which caused the woman sitting inside the car on the passenger side to totally freak.  It then ran down the door where she couldn't see it, and she seemed to settle down.

However, we on the bus saw something altogether more horrifying.  The massive spider then squeezed itself in the crack of the passenger front door... INSIDE THE CAR!!

All of us on the bus near her start waving frantically and pointing and freaking out, making that scream reaction again, and she just smiles and laughs and waves at us all, completely oblivious to the massive evil creature from hell that is now crawling in to get her.

They then turned a corner away from the bus and we have no idea what happened from then.

All I can say is that I've twitched and freaked and been jumpy all day.  I'm a total arachnophobe.  If I had mine I'd wipe them all from existence.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Roses are Red...

Well another Valentine's Day has been and gone.   *Kath waves*

This is the first Valentine's Day since I have been conscious of the concept of Valentine's Day that I haven't been totally depressed.  And it's been a single Valentine's Day for me.  Not to mention the fact that I stayed home all day and didn't really do anything.

It goes to show just how much more at peace with myself I am these days.  I used to measure my self worth by my status or activity on Valentine's Day.  "I'm so pathetic, I'm single on Valentine's Day."  Or "Why doesn't he show me he loves me more?  I must be horrible."  But this year I didn't feel that my being single and spending the day at home reflected at all on who I am.  It was nice to send a few pretty things to friends on Facebook, but otherwise, it didn't really affect me much at all.

One thing I did notice though, was the number of people, and admittedly, almost exclusively women, complaining that their Valentine's Day was crap because their significant other didn't do enough for them on the day.  Didn't acknowledge the day enough, wasn't romantic enough.

Now don't get me wrong, but isn't Valentine's Day a celebration and appreciation of love?  Or is it an excuse to get the best goodies you can?  Or the most elaborate gestures you can?

Shouldn't it be about celebrating and appreciating that you HAVE someone to love in your life, who loves you?  Shouldn't it be an opportunity to take some time out and spend time together?  If you're in it for the gestures and the goodies... do you really love that person?

I'm just askin' is all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Interview Me!

Over on Camels and Chocolate is a lovely meme called "Interview Me".  I'm always looking for inspiration when it comes to blogging, so I've volunteered for Kristin to interview me, and she supplied me with these fabulous questions.  So here goes:

1. You took a 13-week-long trip around North America and saw more of the continent than many people who have lived here their whole lives. Did you find the American and Canadian people and culture quite similar to Australia? What were the similarities you experienced? Total differences?

I was surprised at the differences.  And different differences.  

In the US, my sense of humour totally went over everyone's head.  I would be roaring with laughter at something, but everyone would look at me like I was completely bonkers.  Maybe I am completely bonkers?  I was also impressed by the kind of formal politeness that American people generally exhibited.  People didn't make so many smart arse remarks, and weren't so aggressive and pushy.  A polite "Excuse me." is heard far more often there than here.  Well, you hear it in Australia as an insult.  EXCUUUUUSSSSSE ME!  However, I did notice that on duty service people are generally invisible to most Americans.  I was constantly surprising janitors or waiters and such with my chit chat or acknowledgement of them while they were working.

Another interesting thing I noticed was that cultures don't mix much in the US.  Not in a nasty, racist way, but just because there are so many folks there, that you have enough people to have a doctor, or a plumber, or neighbours all round, of the same culture as you.  And along I came from Australia, where there are only 20 million of us, so we're all mixed up and HAVE to be in contact with each other, and I would bowl up to an African American person, or a gay person, or a Chinese person, or a Hispanic person etc and start talking to them.  I felt like they weren't used to having a white/hetero chick just start talking to them without being introduced by someone else from their culture.  Does that make sense?

In Canada, the sense of humour is a lot closer to ours - or it certainly is in BC where I was.  I felt more connected to Canadians in general, not that it detracted from how much I loved the US, I just felt a commonality.  And while general Canadian culture is very different to ours here in Oz, they hang on to their culture in the same way we do.  Both countries kind of revel in our quirkiness.

With the US, the similarities I thought were there were actually more superficial.  Sure the music and the movies are there on the surface, but deep down we do think different and behave differently.

2. Did you have a favorite city from your trip? Somewhere you think is totally overrated? (You better not say San Francisco! HA! Only kidding...sorta!)

Ooh, I couldn't say any one place was the very bestest.  I loved different places for different reasons.  The most beautiful place was Gibsons in British Columbia.  Good God that place was gobsmackingly beautiful.


New York City was the most iconic, I did fall quite in love with it.  Chicago (and where I stayed with friends at Aurora) felt like home.  I could very easily live there, I just felt like I belonged.  San Francisco was SOOOOO much fun!  I would love to spend much more time exploring there, and intend to return there before too much longer, as I have made great friends there.


I don't think anywhere was overrated, but I didn't go to any of the big tourist trap places.  I was looking for "real" America, and I think I found it.  The only bits I didn't really enjoy were Wisconsin, not because I didn't like the place (very pretty, the farms look like Fisher Price toy sets) but because the people I stayed with were... unpleasant.  They made me feel unwelcome, and one of the women I stayed told me I was uncouth for using a knife and fork in the manner that I do (I think Americans refer to it as "British-Style" - with the fork tines turned down) however she and her family were so offensive one night at dinner I hung back and slipped the waitress a $20 and apologised for their disgusting behaviour. (The waitress replied "Oh honey, you were a darling, don't you be embarrassed for their behaviour."

Florida was nice but it was too hot.  I went for winter and it was the same climate as summer back home!

A place that is underrated?  Chico California.  What a gorgeous little place!

3. Thirteen weeks is a long time to travel at once. Did you have any big self discovery throughout the process? Would you do it all over again if you could?

The whole time was a journey of self discovery.  A couple of years before I was borderline agoraphobic, other than to go to work, I wouldn't leave the house.  I had very low self esteem, and was so full of anxiety I couldn't meet new people through friends, let alone on my own.  I discovered that people like me just for who I am.  That I can make friends anywhere and everywhere.  I discovered what was important to me back home too... friends, my own bed, things sweetened with REAL sugar (not that corn syrup crap), and things like good health care and a secure job!  And being greeted at my first day back at work after 3 months by my friend LukeyB tearing across the office at the sound of my voice and hauling me into a huge hug, breathing "I missed you!" was the most wonderful feeling I think I have ever had.

And if I could, I would spend six months of the year travelling - the cooler months here, and then bugger off to the Northern Hemisphere for the shitty hot months of Brisbane.

4. Do all Aussies REALLY love vegemite that much? Or is it merely a ploy to get stupid tourists to consume something that hardly smells more appetizing than cat urine?!

And you've taken a good sniff of cat urine have you?

Yes we do.  Of course, only we know how to use it.  Everyone else slathers it on like peanut butter.  

5. You say you're an Aussie who loves cold climate (is that even possible??). If you could had to live in any Northern Hemisphere country (near the Equator doesn't count either) full time, where would you pick?

Oh yes, I love the cold.  Love it!  Love it!  Love it!  I was as happy as a pig in shit when I was at my coldest.  Of course, that is a given that I do have a warm home and clothing - I wouldn't want to have to suffer it if I didn't, because it's easier to survive in warmer climes with that kind of situation.  

I think I would choose Canada to live.  Mostly because things like health care, working conditions, personal safety are considerably better there than the US.  But if Mr Obama is able to fix those things in the US, I would happily live there.  It would be hard to choose where though.  Michigan near friends there was lovely, and as I mentioned I really felt like Illinois was home.  San Francisco was awesome but I liked the snow too much to live there.  If I lived in MI or IL it would be central enough to spread myself out all over the place.  But Mr Obama needs to fix a few things first.  Health care first - I'm disgusted that people are not able to get medicine or treatment if they don't have money/insurance.  That's just wrong.

So, the deal now is, if you would like me to interview YOU for you to post on your blog, leave me a comment (make sure you have your email address or blog link in the comment) and say "Interview me!"  I'll send you some questions within the next few days.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why I Don't Work In Customer Service Any More

I've just found this brilliant blog.  It is called Not Always Right, and it's where people can submit really stupid or rude things customers have said or done to them.

I've just spent the past couple of hours reading some of the latest entries and hurting myself laughing.  Here are a few of  my favourite gems:

Customer: “What time does the film start?”

Me: “The film starts fifteen minutes after the time on your ticket. There are fifteen minutes of ads and trailers.”

Customer: “No, I said what time does the F-I-L-M start?!”

Me: “The film starts after fifteen minutes of trailers, so fifteen minutes after whatever it says on the ticket. Your ticket says 3:30 pm, so the film would start at 3:45, okay?”

Customer: “Don’t blind me with science!


Me: “Hello, ma’am, is there anything I can help you find?”

Customer: “Yes. I need to find a book on rodents.”

Me: “Rodents?”

Customer: “Yes, I have some little creature running around my garage and I need to know what it is. I think it might be a vulva.”

Me: “Um…”

Customer: “You know, it’s small and looks like a mole or a hamster. A vulva.”

Me: “I think you mean a ‘vole’.”

Customer: “Oh right, that’s it. Do you have any books on voles?”


Me: “Welcome to ****, what can I get for you today?”

Customer: “Yes, I’d like a medium coffee with twenty-seven and a half sugars.”

Me: “I’m sorry, was that…twenty-seven and a half?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “You’re sure you don’t just want the twenty-eight?”

Customer: “Ewww, gross! That’d be too sweet.

This is exactly why I left working in the library branches.  I can't be nice to fucktards like these.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Will Somebody PLEASE Trust Me!

Excuse me for a moment, but...

I need a little vent.  Boom tish!

I'm feeling very stifled creatively in my work.  It's not that I don't like my job, I LOVE it.  But I can see very big holes in the way we are engaging with our customers, and it's in the one area that I am not only passionate about, but I believe that I am good at.  In fact, it's in the one area that my whole job title is about... and that's digital media.  Also known as social media or sometimes Web2.0.  Basically it's all the stuff that we do on the internet today, most of which you will find connected to me right here on this blog.  Blogging itself, photograph sharing, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff.  Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you're probably well immersed in it all.

I personally believe that while we're REALLY good at teaching customers new things, and REALLY good at expanding our customers horizons, we're REALLY bad at engaging with those that are already skilled and wish to be engaged with as peers.  They don't need to be taught what digital media is, they already know.  They don't need to be taught how to use it, they're already using it.  And we're not in their world, or where we are, we talk to them in corporate speak, or as though we're instructing children.

Every piece of communication we put out to our customers has been marketed to the nth degree.  There is no spontaneity to it, no warmth.  It's got to have a "look and feel".  Now while I think that is perfect for things like brochures and printed media (I know myself I can find something in my notebook or bag very quickly if it has a distinct brand look to it), it doesn't work for the whole online presence any more.  If you are engaging with people via digital media, I believe you should be speaking to your audience as though they're  your peers.

We don't do that anywhere.  We're broadcasting, not communicating.  Broadcasting does have it's place, but it's not the be all and end all like it used to be.  Our culture is far more interactive and communicative than it has been in a very long time.  And being broadcast to loses our attention pretty quickly.

Which comes back to my feeling stifled.  I'm good at the digital media stuff.  I don't mean that like "Well everyone, I'm an expert.", because I know I'm not.  But I'm confident with having a go at it, and I understand how it works.  I'm passionate about digital media because it's what interests me, and it's where I am.  And in a sense, I feel like the customer that is being ignored.

So I have this knowledge and passion... and I feel like I'm not allowed to do anything with it.  I keep presenting what I know after VAST amounts of learning on my own initiative, only to have it dismissed or fed up to the higher levels where it disappears in a miasma of workshops and focus groups, only to be spat out the other side as another piece of corporate "collateral" which totally misses the point.

I feel like I am wasted a lot of the time.  I am earning a really good wage which I feel is being spent on me stuffing envelopes and cleaning up the database, when I could be of a lot more value for money if I was given something I could really chew on and trusted more.  It's not that I believe that the work I am doing is beneath  me, it's just that I feel that as a Band 4 I could be utilised SO much better.

Not so long ago my boss asked me if I wanted him to encourage me more.  I replied "Well that would be nice, but what I really want is for you to discourage me LESS."  But I'm not sure anyone quite gets that concept.

Disclaimer:  Please remember that this is MY blog and the opinions expressed here are MINE and not that of my employer or any other organisation.  If ya don't like what I got to say, don't read it!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Do You Feel Stimulated Yet?

It was announced today by our Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that he is putting out another "stimulus" package to help soften the blow of the global economic crisis (which I'm not sure is as big as the media like to portray).


We had one just before Christmas where SOME of the population got a so-called one off payment of $1000 and were urged to "Spend!  Spend!  Spend!"  Unfortunately I didn't see any of that money, because I'm not on welfare, nor do I have children that I can't afford to support.  I would have gladly spent $1000, but despite my paying one of the highest ratios of tax in the country, the stimulus wasn't extended to me.

It pissed me off no end to trudge home from a long, hard day at work to see my dole bludging neighbours unpacking a massive plasma screen TV that they had bought with their payment.  It pissed me off no end to hear two women on the bus discussing how they were going to buy computer games for their kids, when at the time I was finding money to buy a washing machine.

However, this time, one of the parts of the package is apparently another "one-off" (how many one-offs can they create?  I thought the point of a one-off is that it is ONCE!) payment of $950 payable to all taxpayers who earn up to $80,000 per annum.  I'm WELL under that, so it seems that I am getting myself $950!  Not sure why we taxpayers get 50 bucks less than the welfare mob, but hey, I'm not going to sneeze at $950.

Of course, we're all being urged to "Spend!  Spend!  Spend!" again.  I personally will be, because I'm a responsible worker who doesn't have scads of debt to rid myself of.  My payment is earmarked for that iPhone that I really want.  But isn't it a bit irresponsible to be encouraging those who DO have scads of debt to spend it rather than pay off their debt?

Some of the other parts of the stimulus package include:

    * Tax bonus of $950 for those earning up to $80,000, and smaller amounts for those earning up to $100,000.
    * $14.7bn for school infrastructure and maintenance and trade training centres;
    * $6.6bn to boost  public housing by about 20,000 new homes;
    * $3.9bn for free insulation to 2.7 million homes and solar hot water rebates; 
    * $890m for regional roads and blackspots, railway boom gates; 
    * $2.7bn small and general business tax break to provide deductions for some equipment purchases before the end of June 2009; 
    * $12.7 bn for one-off payments to working Australians, families with school-age children, farmers, single income families and for those undergoing training.  (Source)

It's good to see money going towards schools, public housing (the rental market is obscene here at the moment), roads and railway safety, small business help and payments to working Aussies, farmers and those undergoing training.

However, WTF with the insulation for the homes?  How is THAT going to stimulate the economy?  They claim it's going to create jobs, but I can't see how that's going to happen.  I can just see a back log of people waiting to get free insulation in their house.  And what about all the people who can't afford the ridiculous prices to buy a house at the moment, so they have to rent (like me).  Will our landlords be putting insulation and solar hot water in our
homes?  I doubt it very much.

So if you're eligible for the $950 payment, how do you intend to use yours? Are you going to spend it? What are you going to buy? Or will you save it or pay bills? If you're not in Australia, what would you do if the government handed you $950?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Thinkin' About the Fellas

I watched the Sex and the City movie this afternoon.  Wasn't really that into it.  I liked the shoes and the New York City bit, but I just couldn't get into it.  On further discussion with the lovely Girl Clumsy this evening, I realise what has stuck in my craw.

It's the attitude to men in it.  It felt to me that every man in it was either a piece of man flesh, or an arsehole.  With exception perhaps to the dark haired woman's husband (I know, I don't know their names except for Carrie and Samantha) who really was a bit of a shadow through the whole movie, he had about three whole lines and wasn't given any substance.

It's got me thinking a bit about how men are portrayed in film and television.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that how women are portrayed is any better, but at least we all speak up about that regularly.

But when it comes to how men are portrayed, it is open season.  How many ads can you think of on TV at the moment where it centres around a doofus male who just can't find something or asks a stupid question, or makes a big gaffe doing DIY etc?  Can you imagine the uproar if a woman was portrayed like that?

When we see a movie and the women in it are all either portrayed as tarty bits of flesh for the men's amusement, or complete bitches that make a man's life hell, don't we all get horrified at it?

Now I'm not saying that all movies should be touchy feely and everyone nice.  What I'm getting at is that when a whole gender is negatively portrayed, it just feels really wrong.  Sure, have your bad guy, but also have the hero who helps save the day.  Have your bitch queen, but have another woman who is cool.  Go for the bit of sexy  man flesh, but give him some depth of character.  Make your gals sexy AND smart.

I'm also not saying that men can't be arseholes and that women can't be shallow bits of fluff.  But to tar a whole gender with the same brush in a film or television show just makes me feel uncomfortable, you know?

I know ladies, I know, we've all been treated REALLY badly by a man or men in our past.  Some of us in our very recent past.  But does that mean they're all bastards?  You know we all have heard the thing where women are somebody's daughter, somebody's mother, somebody's sister?  Well the guys are somebody's son, somebody's father, somebody's brother.  And like women, guys deserve a chance before they're all written off.

Two wrongs don't make a right is all I'm sayin'!