Saturday, 20 August 2011

Today I started at a new school. I was terrified and really didn't want to go. Everyone else has been there for six months and are great friends, so I'm the outsider and feeling really self-conscious and new. We play games involving remembering names (which I suck at). They get them all right. I get EVERY name wrong. For the rest of the lesson, I don't understand much of what the teacher says, so I'm also feeling really dumb by this point. At break time, I'm feeling dumb, confused, tired, lonely, self-conscious, and I also notice half of them have yummy-looking takeaway lunches, so I'm jealous, and embarrassed by my boring apple and dorky thermos of home-made coffee. So I slink off to the kitchen, pour myself a cup, then come back, and the only spot to sit is on a sofa, in the middle of the group. I sit down. Did I mention I've lost the cup from my thermos... so I have this really embarrassing plastic yellow cup instead? Anyway, they are all discussing going to buy fancy coffees from the machine. I'm wishing I could buy a latté or a double mocha or whatever fancy coffee is available. I'm sitting there blowing the steam from my cheapo coffee, trying to be invisible and feeling sorry for myself and my crappy coffee from home, hoping nobody laughs at my ridiculous smiley-face plastic cup. And then one of them announces that the coffee machine is broken. They complain. They wail. They're very unhappy at missing out on their caffiene fix.

I sit there with my awesome home-made coffee in the hilarious cup, blowing it and feeling smug and quietly grinning to myself.


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Because I Can

This week I released my first manuscript upon the world - I have written a book about my experiences working in a retirement village. It is still being edited, and I may add a few more little bits and pieces, but the bulk of it is in place for the world to criticise enjoy see.

So, today you get to share one of the stories. I present to you: The Lifestyle Village, Chapter 4 - "I have a new job". The entire book, with several funnier stories (if you're interested) can be read online for free at

I have a new job

I have a new job. It's working in the community kitchen of the retirement village where my aunt does the wages. Sorry, Lifestyle Village. I can't call it a retirement village. Those are for old people. It's a Lifestyle Village, which automatically makes 90-year-olds "not old". It's all about image. Or something.

 I have nothing to do with my aunt, which is good, since my mother and I nearly came to blows working together at her work... but I digress. I'm a combination kitchenhand/waitress. Go me. Actually, I like it. The weekend pay is better than I was getting in tech support for sitting at a desk and I bring home more leftover food than I could possibly eat. Free food rocks.

 I get to serve them all in the dining rooms. They're actually not a bad bunch at all. Most of them have all their marbles, albeit left over from 1972... the dinner table conversation can be quite amusing. On the weekend they had been discussing some actor from nineteen yickety two (I missed who) and that some movie of his had been on, and others were disappointed to have missed it on the tv. Enter our hero, Iris, who announced, "You're all welcome to come and watch it in my flat, I have it on Dee Vee Dee." Muttered discussion and awe as they all digested this new fangled news. I doubt many of them even have a VCR.

 The amputee lady, Doris, has more spunk than the rest of them combined. "Well if you're finished boasting," she said, "I'll have a boast too. I have a new stereo, and it's got a Woofer."

 This was met with gobstruck silence as they looked at each other in total ignorance. I had to leave the room to avoid laughing aloud. I listened from the kitchen. Finally one of them timidly asked the inevitable question.

 "What's a Woofer?"

 The discussion, of course, was all very serious, and they all learned about how it's important to emphasise the bass.

 Marlene is knitting me some bedsocks.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Where's Research Geek!

Our once bright and bubbly stoic leader has deserted us... if she was here she'd be right onto those poor use of adjatives all together and current not good gramma. Spelling would be all correct trhings in teh universe would be aligned.

still having the shackles removed is quite liberating - getting to just write what ever we want when evea we want I feel like sid vicious. It's anarcy punk style but with words. and short attention spans... but how good was the weather today, totally awesome almost good enough to feel gay but not faggot gay happy gay.

yeah I really didn't think the rest of this through and i'm kinda going nowhere fast..... how's that bin laden murder.... yeah i'm struggling so I think i'll go because kaos dictates I can coz I wanna

Friday, 6 May 2011

My First Blog Post!!

OK so I've been reading your blogs for a while now and did intend on contributing, but just never seem to have time. So here we go, first blog post! I must say that these were already a part of my poetry collection, so yes, i cheated!, but it did enable me to actually contribute something!!

Poetry is my way of escaping from life, and sometimes working through my problems. It's amazing how much it helps to just write things down (well for me anyway). Who knows whether I'm good at it or not, but it helps me and i enjoy it so i don't really care, but hopefully someone out there likes my work though!

This first entry, "The True Meaning of Love" is something i wrote quite a while ago, but i think everyone would be able to relate to it in some way.

The True Meaning of Love

It’s only now that I understand what it’s all about - the true meaning of love.

It’s that feeling of excitement when you know you’re about to see them, the butterflies that flutter around in your stomach when you think of them.
It’s the feeling of safety when you’re held in their arms.

It’s the unknown of what the future holds; it’s taking a chance on life and love.
It’s risking possible heartache for a lifetime of happiness,
but always following your heart, your hopes and dreams.

Love is learning to trust – not just in your partner,
but trust in yourself to respect and make the right choices.
Love is learning the art of forgiveness, acceptance and compromise.

It’s knowing that you can be yourself, that you don’t have to hide behind a charade.
Knowing that you will be accepted and cherished for whom you are,
without having to change to suit someone else’s ideals.

It’s love when you want to share every aspect of your lives together,
when you enjoy new experiences and learn from each other.
When your partner gives you inspiration and a reason for living.

Love is about learning how to communicate and fight fairly.
It’s learning from your disagreements and taking that lesson with you.
It’s learning that sometimes you need to agree to disagree.

Love is about trust and honesty, both of which are essential to a healthy relationship.
You lose these and you find yourself questioning everything,
searching for answers even though you’re afraid of what you might find.

I know now that love never dies, it just fades away.
Clouded by the troubles of life we push it into the background and don’t realise until it’s too late.

We slip into that comfort zone where we feel safe, but then suddenly,
without warning, your whole world can come crashing down around you.
It’s only then that we realise and understand what we’ve lost.

I know now that love is based on friendship, that’s the foundation of the relationship.
You not only have a lover, companion and soul mate, but above all you have a best friend.

Love is knowing when to take that chance and fight for what you want.
It’s knowing that you deserve happiness and should settle for nothing less.
It’s learning from your mistakes and believing in love itself.

It’s realising before it’s too late that it takes hard work,
but the ultimate reward you receive is the greatest gift of all and it’s then that you
realise it’s worth every minute of heartache encountered along the way.

This poem is one i wrote when my grandma passed away about 2 years ago, so it definitely means something to me. I guess it's like the last little thing i could do for my nan. My cousin read it out at the funeral church service and they all liked it so much they asked would i be willing to let them offer it to other families as a reading in their family services, so that made me feel good!

Goodbye, But Not Forgotten

The teardrops stain our faces
As we gather to farewell you.
But we know that life goes on,
We know we’ll all pull through

Don’t worry about us left behind,
For time will heal our pain.
And we’ll live with a life full of memories,
Until we’re joined again

With tears in our eyes we say goodbye
It is by far the hardest part.
But we’ll cherish the times we shared with you,
You’ll forever be in our hearts.

For a new journey you embark upon
As you watch over us from above.
We’ll think of you with fondness,
And thank you for your love.

With pain in our hearts, we say goodbye
And rejoice your life so long
For you will be missed, but not forgotten,
And you’re memory will always live on.

So there you go, that's all i have to offer for now, but i hope you enjoy!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Free Speech

"Stairway To Heaven"

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying the stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and she's buying the stairway to heaven.

There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it makes me wonder.

There's a feeling I get when I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving.
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of those who stand looking.
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder.

And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter.

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now,
It's just a spring clean for the May queen.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on.
And it makes me wonder.

Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know,
The piper's calling you to join him,
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.

And she's buying the stairway to heaven.

Do-Whatever Week

It's the beginning of May and the blog has been a bit quiet. We all got walloped with other important, unavoidable commitments (you know, school holidays, overtime, long weekends, intense binge-drinking sessions and the like). Things which took up all our time and our, erm, intellects.

But we're back - or will be this week - and this week is a free-for-all. Contribute anything you want. Anything you created, that is. Any topic you like. Give it whatever tags suit.

PS: NO MORE "DEADLINES" - we're not W-word, that horrible place that horrible cruel bosses expect you to do stuff before they will pay you at the end of the week. So from now on, we'll just start a topic and you add to it when you like. Same day, or end of the week, whenever. It's up yours. :)

YES THIS MEANS that if you also suddenly feel like telling us your opinion on these things, it isn't too late:
  • Sexuality - Choice or Hardwired
  • Replacing cash with card, nation wide, convenience or curse?
  • Current Affairs Programs - Benefit to society or detriment?
  • Facebook & Twitter: Serious business tools, or just messing around?
  • Fiction Challenge
  • The Weather
  • Carbon Tax
We know you've got opinions on things. We don't bite. Well, except Troy, and he's had his shots. ;)

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

We'd like to hear why you don't write with us, or write more often?

Flawed, but better than nothing

I must say from the outset that it's a while since I looked into the Carbon Tax, but here's my take (and I've read differing views on it recently).

There is no denying that despite the fact it's levied on businesses, the cost will be passed on to the consumer. But it's to a limited degree and in all the right ways. We have competition to thank for that. Here's a short simplified example of how it WILL benefit the environment.
Let's take Power Company A. Just imagine it's whoever you're with. At the moment, Power Company A has mostly coal electricity. Green Power options are more expensive to research and develop, than coal, so they mostly don't bother. In the long run, green power is cheap. It's just expensive to set up at the beginning. And since Power Company A doesn't want to spend yummy profit, they stick with coal.

At first, all the companies cost about the same price. The next day, the Carbon Tax kicks in. From then on, it's going to be getting more expensive to keep using coal. No problem - Power Company A can just jack up the price to the customer, and keep using delicious coal, right? And then... and then Electricity Provider B see what Power Company A just did and think... hmmm, we think we'd like to steal their customers. We think it's worth spending some yummy profit this year, to make things cheaper next year, so that we can lower our prices and steal customers.

So they spend some delicious profit to invest in green, and they pass that investment cost onto the customers. At first, nothing much changes, both companies cost about the same. But in a little while, Electricity Provider B's investment is paid off, and they can lower their prices to the customers. WOOHOO says Mr Customer. I'm switching to the company that costs less.
Simple, right? Although you might have thought companies don't care, because they can just pass the increase onto the customers anyway, there is competition and that makes companies grow a conscience. Even if the conscience is a fake one and is all about greedy profits, they'll still do it.

Secondly - a direct result if the power goes up in price - consumers cry at their bills, and then they install solar panels and turn off lights and yell at their kids for staying in the shower for half an hour. These are all wins for the environment.

And then we have things like electronics providers. As the cost of power goes up with Power Company A, customers will be desperately searching for ways to reduce consumption. They'll be buying energy-efficient light globes, and so on. And if Television Company C starts advertising a TV that uses 10% less power, customers will bloody well go and buy it. So it's in Random TV Company D's selfish interests to spend yummy profit on researching ways to make their tellies that use less power - if they don't, they'll just go out of business because nobody will buy their TVs!

I don't think the Carbon Tax was the most efficient way to reduce greenhouse emissions. But we have to remember, it had to be put together in a way that could get past the voters. Let's be honest, the more efficient ways would have made everyone scream and run around like chooks with their heads cut off, and vote for Fred Nile or something stupid like that. Carbon Tax is a disguised, convoluted, magical mystery option, but at least it's something. And it's working - the number of solar panels on roofs is skyrocketing.

Now if only they'd grow a pair, and make those panels compulsory on all new buildings...

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Unbelievably Stupid Idea

Regardless of who I support politically I am dubmfounded that people can possibly support this iead in any way shape or form. This has nothing to do with the Climate Change debate, simply because the tax will have zero effect on the climate nor is it possible for the money to be used to repair the climate, should it need it. This Carbon Tax is nothing more than making people in our society feeling all warm and fuzzy. If you want to feel warm and fuzzy go hug a rabbit. Yes I understand we will be taxing carbon polluters and not individuals but who's going to suffer and pay the price, as always the end user. What's even more ridiculous about this tax is that the money does nothing? It can't be used to have any effect on teh enviroment. Polluters will simply move whatever operations they can of shore... this entire debate is the biggest load of bull shit a government has ever fed a people! (excluding the Holucost) The only reasonable and smart thing to do is have a reward system.. How do you develope positive results in children, through punishment or through reward?? how to they train animals, through punishment or reward? Every single time it's reward reward reward.. however we're being told the way forward is punish punish punish. Reward people who reduce their carbon output via tax exemptions and reductions. It's just that simple!! I'll vote out every government regardless of which party decides to move forward with a tax. I'm not even going to explore the extreme impact it will have on our economy because regardless of how big an impact it would have the answer is still the same, reward polluters who reduce their emmissions rather than punish those that do not. Too F'n easy!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

New Topic - For next week

Australia's Carbon Dioxide Tax - The most economically irresponsible thing a Government has ever done to a Country OR just a really stupid idea?

Lets gets a few more opinions for this one...

Label: carbon tax


(Warning: Lame emo short story thingy follows. Definitely among the dregs of my work, but rather than leaving you all without a contribution, I'll post this to fill space.)

Is there an unwritten mantra, that declares we must find the beauty in winter?

Winter and its crystalline landscape. Icicles hanging from delicate tree branches, reflecting the brilliant sunshine. Streets and pavements with their sharp corners all buried under smooth drifts of snow, single flakes falling in a spectacular display, small figures in mittens making snowmen and laughing.

Did someone stare out the window at the horribly bitter and vicious cold for so long that they tried to find something nice about it? Did they stay inside near the fireplace for days on end until they forgot the feeling of the wind blowing deep into their bones?

The snow is here for so long each year, but there's one thing that makes me think of you. The rain falling onto the snow and melting it, sweeping it into slush, washing it into drains and across streets, the slippery mess of water reminds me of when you left. The rain was falling on that day, as we carefully stepped across the yard to say our goodbyes beside the waiting taxi. My hair clung to my face and you couldn't see the tears for all the splashes from above. You finally let go of my embrace and stepped back. And for long minutes you stood there like a statue, alone, apart, and unwilling to take that last step away from me, to fold yourself into the seat and be ushered away to your next destination.

I stood there and wondered, what if I stopped him from leaving?

Can I really be that selfish? I know you wanted to stay.

But I'd also known how things would be worse if you didn't return. And I had to content myself with hoping to see you again. One day. "One day" became months of waiting. Our conversations always centred on that "one day". Our dreams and plans all about that one day in the future where I wouldn't have to say goodbye.

It's raining onto the snow this morning. A few children tried to make a snowman and gave up in disgust. I've watched a lady at the bus stop, whose umbrella blew inside out as the water saturated her. Cars creep by infrequently, but when they do, it's only at a snail's pace. Their tyres splash filthy mush onto everything nearby. The scene is winter, and the cold and the snow, in all its dreary lack of glory.

But tomorrow, I'll be in your arms. Somehow, winter is beautiful.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Weather in your FACE

So. After Elisa made a offhanded comment about people loving to put weather related content into their status updates it got me thinking.

I thought...
Am I guilty of this?
"Guilty" because I HATE benign drivel.

The answer is yes. I do do it. However much I hate weather status updates it is over-powered by my love of whining, bitching and ranting in general. So if I am uncomfortable for days on end then eventually, unfortunately for you, you are likely to hear about it.

So I decided to take a little look around Facebook.
First I went through my news feed. Yep, as I suspected. I have friends that LOVE to talk about the weather, there are a couple of them and it doesn't bother me so much, but I must admit once I get the gist of the status I dont read on.

Instead of exposing these friends in all their meteorological glory here on our blog I decided to go hunting for weather status updates of others in pages and groups for like minded weather enthusiasts. What I discovered was hundreds of non-specific weather groups. I grabbed a few snips of conversation and left as the effect was soporific to say the least.

well the cuddling bit did peak my interest....

Next I decided to find out what other people on Facebook thought about weather in status updates and found by far the most popular weather related facebook group.

498 people like this? Only 498...pfffft!

and this one....which I quite like

It would also seem that people who like to talk about weather probably share some of the thoughts of like minded domestic animals

and my personal favourites...

parallels people parallels!

But no matter what you opinion is on others inane weather status' I think that this group should have A LOT more members.

Now excuse me whilst I curl up in bed, and as is my custom, check my Bureau of Meteorology iPhone app for tomorrows forecast.

FECK! It's Hot....

... but you're not going to convince me it's due to Global Warming and that Man is causing it through it's carbon emmissions.

Yes yes i've seen the inconvenient truth and i've heard the propagander but i'm not sold... I'm not saying i believe whole heartedly one way or the other. The earth is millions and millions of years old and humans have been around for what like 40,000 years or so at best. Records of temperatures etc. are in the hundreds of years. Scientifically speaking the sample size that we are using is just way too small, think about it, would you conduct an experiment that involved 0.00000000000003% of the sample size to come to a conclusion.

Don't get me wrong humans have and are still fucking shit up on this planet, we have treated the earth like a whore and i'm disgusted with the utter contemp we and our forefathers have treated this earth and our selfish nature in which we assume that the entire earth is here purely for our pelasure and leasure.

But the arguement that we are causing the planet to get hotter i dunno man.. Seriously Sydney was F'n hot when we first moved here in 1990 and the first 3/4 years were just HOT... then things seemed OK and then again in 2003/2004 it seemed F'n hot again... those years seemed hotter that it has for the last two years. So my the very laymans terms and at the coal face... it's ain't really got any hotter.. The earths climate has changed, elnino and shit like that but why do we expect it wouldn't change??

I'm not about to jump on a bandwagon and wave a flag. For me it's almost a bit like convincing me that God is real.... Bascially I don't believe in God and almighty being controlling all of our lives and granting our wishes. Do I believe in the presence of spirits and a spirit world yes... So do I believe in Climate Change .. no do I believe that the weather is getting a little crazy yes.

Is it our fault... no doubt humans are having an impact but Mother Nature is one nasty bitch... she can still fuck shit up when she wants to and teach us a thing or two about messing with the planet.

I'm not sold... am I a climate change denier? no and I climate change believer? no then what am I? I don't know really all I know is that I haven't noticed a difference, going around from year to year I can't say with any sort of certainty that i've noticed any differences. Sure it doesn't really help that I haven't spent more than 3 1/2 years in teh one place since I was 10 years old that includes going from state to state on a regular basis... so it's hard for me to tell. But if climate change is so dramatic wouldn't have I noticed it more.. Do i really pay attention not really...

I just don't get all warm and fuzzy about saving the planet for generations to come... i just figure shit will be the way it will be and I accept whatever it becomes.. Whilst the idea of sending society back to the primitave days delights me, living off the land, with just stick and stones, hunting and gathering and the best part would be how would you know any better, the simple life. But lets face it we can't we ain't going backwards. so what do we do? As individuals what change can we make? bugger all if you ask me... sure i'll recycle and plant trees and shit like that but I'm not about to bouycott energy or technology.

I can't make my mind up but do I have to make it up... aren't I allowed to simply be uncertain and be willing to see how things pan out and make up my mind down the track if at all? Am I being irresponsible for not really caring that much because I can't tell the difference or see any noticable change?

I don't know th answers to most of these questions but I kind of get the feeling that i'm not unlike many people...

But put away your climate change bibles cos i hate bible stories... accept the fact that i'm not convinced one way or the other and accept that you can not change my mind, partly because there's too much information for both sides of the arguement and partly because I don't care and partly because I'm a very logical person and the climate change agruement seems to be one that's filled with emotion... at the end of the day I feel that logically speaking there's no real way for us to tell if the changes to the planet are suppoed to happen how can we tell what carbon dioxide isn't better for the planet than harmful and that and i'm lazy when it comes to reading and unless there are lots of pretty pictures with topless women in them i'm highly unlikely to pay any attention to them.

But Feck it's getting cold at nights these days hey?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Aha... topic time

You're killin' me. I ran out of time to do a proper job of last week's topic, so naturally I've forgotten that really awesome topic I thought of earlier in the week. So I've done what anyone would do in my situation: I turned to Facebook for some inspiration. (Don't judge.)

According to my friends there, certain topics require a lot of updates. Theoretically this method of choosing should make it a topic that more guest writers want to contribute to. (Please?) Drumroll: the topic is: The weather.

Bitch about the cold, sing its praises, moan that your washing just got wet, tell a story, draw a picture, make a flowery poem, take a photo of awesome clouds, create an in-depth article about the tsunami's devastation in Japan. I don't care what you do, just do something this week, and we will love you.

Please use the label weather.

Tag: T-Bone.

Life Lessons (Fiction Challenge)

Emma wasn't even supposed to be in the wedding party. I'd chosen my sister as my one-and-only bridesmaid right when Jeff proposed, but by the time the big day rolled around she was only weeks away from giving birth, so Emma graciously stepped into the role.

Jeff had always mumbled about not liking Emma. I couldn't even figure out why: Emma was a kindhearted soul who never raised her voice and was forever worrying about other people and doing nice things for them. If it's possible for someone you never want to be romantic with, Emma was my soul mate. We never got invited somewhere on our own: invitations always read "To Emma and Alicia". And Jeff didn't like her and never said why. But whatever. I was the glowing bride-to-be and nothing was going to spoil my day.

Money was tight so the whole affair was going to be on a shoestring. Both the wedding and the reception would be in a hall and we were going to drive to the honeymoon, a week on the lake in a cedar cabin. No flight to Hawaii for me, but I'd reasoned it didn't matter, after all, I would be with the man of my dreams! My dress was a family heirloom and it fit me perfectly. The gorgeous blue shoes had been on sale at the market. I was going to look and feel like a princess, no matter how stretched our budget. This was going to be my day and I was determined to shine.

Before we could blink there was only a week to go. A week! The girls took me out for my hens' night; we partied all evening long from one club to the next and had a fantastic time. We must have taken a hundred photos of Emma and I; flirting with the bouncer, chatting to the bartender, dancing on the tables and hugging for almost every shot. I adored Emma. I still had the tiny handkerchief she gave me in Kindergarten, with the ducks on it. I'd thought it so lovely that she had just given it to me. Emma meant the world to me and I was just ecstatic that she would be beside me on my special day.

I can remember Jeff's outburst when he saw the photos. He was disgusted. He made some sloppy remark about Emma being a slut and then wondered aloud if we were lesbians. Honestly, I was surprised, I know he'd always expressed dislike of her, but this was a lot even for him. I guess I was just disappointed in the end. I put the photos sadly in an old shoebox at the back of a cupboard; I wasn't going to show him them again, since it just seemed like a recipe for an argument.

With just one day to go I was a bundle of nerves. We were going to play traditional and spend our last night apart, so Jeff packed an overnight bag and took himself off to his brother's house on Friday morning before work.

The evening rolled around and we had to attend the hall with the wedding celebrant, for our wedding rehearsal. I stood where I was directed, and Jeff and I exchanged lots of thrilled glances. Everyone else looked bored stiff. We were a strange-looking bunch in our casual clothing but the celebrant was lovely. We finished the practice and said our goodnights; I kissed my man goodnight and promised that I would turn up at the hall in the morning. Actually I was starved, so I was the first one into my car to leave.

It wasn't until I'd walked in the front door of our tiny apartment ten minutes later that I realised I'd left my phone behind at the hall. Cursing, I climbed back into the car. God, the traffic was horrendous. I sat there at the traffic lights and wished it would all just disappear. Grabbing my handbag I foraged around for mints; and then I spotted the lottery ticket for yesterday's draw. And I had today's newspaper in the back of the car with the results.

I always hated those people who dashed out of the driver's seat while stopped at the lights! But screw them all, I'm getting married tomorrow, I want to know if I just got rich! I laughed to myself and decided that now I'd said that, I deserved to get nothing at all. Slamming the lid of the boot back down I clutched the newspaper to my chest and ran back to the driver's door as the lights turned green and horns started blaring behind me.

Have you ever been driving, but wanted to do something else instead, and so you actually wish the lights would go red?

I started comparing numbers. I've been playing for years with the same six numbers.

Five matches! My brain wrestled with the mental arithmetic and my heart ran overtime. I probably just won a few hundred dollars. My hand grabbed for my phone to call Jeff and tell him the good news, but then I remembered where my phone was. I stopped for a moment to compose myself and breathe. I had better check that I hadn't made a mistake.

Four, eight, sixteen, thirty-one, twenty-four, forty-three.

My heart had been hammering but I swear it stopped dead right at that moment. I didn't have five matches. I had all six.

Sweat beaded on my forehead and I checked again. Then I checked again. Six numbers. Six numbers. What if the paper made a mistake? I could barely work my mouth open to breathe. Six numbers. I somehow found some coins, parked the car and ran to a payphone, dialling the lottery information line and pressing
each button to hear the result, and then the prize amounts. Four million dollars and there was only one winner, according to a robotic voice. I was holding that winning ticket in my wildly shaking hand. I replaced the phone handset and moved like a zombie whose very life-force had been extinguished.

A house! We could have a house! No more tiny rented apartment, we could have a grand huge mansion in the countryside! No more rusty old cars, we could have new convertibles! And a proper honeymoon! A grand holiday overseas on a tropical island. In a five star luxury resort being pampered, and oh, we can fly first class! Oh the money I could spend buying gifts for my wonderful Jeff. We would never have to worry about money again. Oh, I was just so excited, nothing could have made my wedding more perfect than to know I had the perfect man beside me, and we would have the happiest times together for the rest of our lives!

A sudden artificial calm came over me and I realised I had to tell Jeff this in person. It was too important for over the phone. I considered going direct to Jeff's brother's house, but then remembered my missing phone still at the hall. I don't know how I managed to start the car or move into the traffic but the next thing I remember is pulling into the carpark across the road from the hall.

I placed the ticket carefully into my handbag and walked quickly to the hall with the back door key in hand. I tried to compose myself and work out how I would announce it once I got to Jeff's brother's house. I imagined the looks his face. He would be thrilled! Before I reached the door, though, an open window high above my head got my attention. Emma's voice, saying, "It's not a good idea." I stopped. A quick calculation, and I realised it was the kitchen. Then Jeff's voice. "Yeah. It's a great idea."

I could tell them both at once! This was great, it would be such great excitement! Knowing how much he disliked her, he was probably horribly bored and irritated to be still in the hall with her right now. He'd be so glad that I had come back. I smoothed my dress and tried to stop my hands from shaking. But then I stopped and decided to listen for a while, hoping to hear whether he was being polite to Emma, at least.

Emma again, after a pause. "Jeff, you are CRAZY." And she seemed irritated. I wondered what was going on here. They'd stopped shouting so I couldn't hear what they said next, but I was intrigued and wanted to know whether they were actually being civil to each other. After a while I could hear her again. "That
is fantastic." I waited more than five minutes, but I heard nothing else. I figured they'd moved out of the kitchen, so I rounded the corner to the stairs and went up, wondering what they'd been discussing. I clutched my precious handbag, full of my special ticket and my wonderful news, and I sought them out to share the excitement. My heart was running so fast it was hurting my chest and I grinned to myself wildly.

I picked my phone up from the seat near the door, shoving it into my handbag. From there I realised they must still be in the kitchen after all; murmurs were coming from that half-closed door. Crossing the carpet and pushing the door quietly open, I couldn't believe my eyes. My heart stopped for the second time that day. Emma was bent forwards over the stainless steel bench, underpants around her ankles, her dress bunched up high around her back, and Jeff was wildly thrusting into her from behind, his own trousers around his feet and both of them with eyes screwed shut in ecstasy, oblivious to the fact I stood in the doorway.

What made me freeze right there on the spot? I don't know. I do remember watching in a dream, as Jeff's bare backside moved while he hammered into her, and I remember her voice rising above the mumbles, turning into clear encouragement for Jeff to continue. I'm thankful I don't remember her words, because I'm sure they'd haunt me more than that image of the two of them, which seared itself into my brain.

At some point I must have backed away. The lottery news was long forgotten. I had to go back to the car; I had to call someone, I had to do something, I had to cancel the wedding, oh god what do I do? Stumbling down the back stairs, I could hear her screaming now. And as I walked under the kitchen window I heard Jeff and the three words I knew oh-so-well from our own bedroom. YES, BABY, YES at the top of his voice, that phrase always marked his climax, and here he was, using it with her.

There was vomit in front of me in the grass, just inches from my face where I was bent over. I think it must have been mine. I've no idea how I wasn't run over as I made my way back to the car. But there was a water bottle there and I washed out my mouth, replacing the lid to the vessel in a daze. I clutched the phone and wondered what to do next. And the next thing I remembered was closing the door of our apartment behind me at 5am, shoving the last of my belongings into the car and starting the engine.

I didn't bother to call a soul. My phone rang all morning with people looking for me. Text messages began appearing, asking why I wasn't picking up the phone. As the day wore on they realised that I still hadn't made it to Emma's place to get dressed, and my hairdressing appointment must be lasting so long that I'd soon be late for my own wedding. Messages changed from alarm to realisation, once they found my ransacked apartment and all my things gone.

And I still didn't want to speak to anyone. I didn't cancel a thing. All that money wasted and I couldn't care less. I looked at my lottery ticket and just let all the wedding plans fall apart as the hours ticked by.

Should I have told everyone why I didn't show up? Should I have shamed the two of them in public? I had thought about how that would pan out. I pictured the guests waiting for me to walk the aisle. I imagined their horrified faces as I announced their affair, recounted what I had witnessed, and proclaimed their duplicity. I knew the ridicule and hatred Emma and Jeff would feel from everyone in that hall. But then I realised the feelings the guests would direct at me. Pity. Pure, disgusting and filthy pity, gained only because those two revolting people treated me this way. And so I stared at the phone, and finally at midnight, with everything long over, I sent a text message to my mother.

"I'm sorry Mum, and I can't talk about it just now. I just couldn't marry him. There's someone else."

I switched off the phone. Let them think it's me who was seeing someone else. I didn't care.

I was collecting four million dollars on Monday, and Jeff wasn't getting a cent.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Little Green Door

n.b. For this Fiction Challenge we had to write anything fictional in any form, including the words vessel, extinguish and market.

It's very interesting for me, who usually only writes when the universe moves me, to write fiction to a deadline. In fact, I questioned my ability to do it at all. I looked at the clock tonight once the children were in bed and I had spoken to a friend on the phone and saw that it was 9.30pm. I nearly didn't write this piece. I thought that I wouldn't have anywhere near enough time to throw anything together. But for a first draft I am over the moon with it. In fact, I think that I like it so much that I might keep working on it.
Yay for our blog and it pushing my boundaries!

Little Green Door

The terraces in Abercrombie Street sat back from the tree lined road upright and statuesque. Gabled windows like hooded eyes, glaring in judgement at the little wooden workman's cottages that dotted the street amongst them. The cottages sprawled, some of them shedding their splintered timbers into unkempt yards that were framed by small rusted cyclone-wired fences. Their size and disarray gave them the kind of hang-dog look of a condemned man. It was only a matter of time until they too would be transformed. They were vessels waiting to be filled with modular leather lounges, flat screen TV's and Laura Ashley linens. But only once they had been squared off, set right, extended, and painted from the same palettes as their superiors, in their pretty uniform party dresses.

Oh the new Newtown gentry knew how to extinguish character from a perfectly friendly little street, Bob thought, as he sat on his front verandah watching the women with prams parade up and down the footpath. He watched the sunlight play through the trees onto the path and spat a piece of orange pith into the long grass beside him, wiping the juice from his chin with his sleeve, swearing silently as it made its way into a shaving cut and stang smartly. That bloke from the real estate had come by again, said he had buyers for the house, a likely story! He wouldn't bloody sell it to them anyway, if that was what they were going to do with it. He stared at the house opposite,that no longer resembled the house it had once been. And if he sold more of them would move in too. No, he couldn't be responsible for more of those people in the street, or in the suburb for that matter. He didn't freakin care if the market was “red hot.” He thought of the real estate fella again and snorted audibly, though there was no one to hear him.

The woman across the road was coming out of the house with the florescent yellow door. The door had always been a bit of a mystery to Bob. He hated the poofy muted colours that “those people” in the street had painted their houses. But he hated that florescent door more. It just illustrated his point, weirdos...the lot of them.

Sara was in a hurry. She ushered the kids out the door and over to the car “chop chop”. The truth was that she was always in a hurry. From this to that, no time to think. Yet what did she really do? She wondered as she strapped Henry into his car seat. Crap....the registration papers, she thought, and told the boys that she just had to pop back into the house to grab something. She wasn't really thinking of anything other than retrieving the papers when she put the key in the lock and started to turn it. Then, as if she had not noticed it for the last 8 years, she suddenly realised that the door was still that disgusting, god-awful yellowy/green colour. She stopped, mid-turn with the key. It wasn't the colour so much that offended her, though that was what had annoyed her initially. No, what bothered her was that it was still that colour 8 years later, and all that that represented.

Too Kool 4 Skool

One day there was a little piggie poo called Juliar, she was not a pretty piggie who's parents had tried to extinguish her heritage as she was 2 parts piggie, 1 part shunk and 1 part meerkat. You see mixed bred piggies were a no no in the little village they lived in, Timbuktoo. Timbuktoo was a simple place, where the animals were friendly and and fun loving. Timbuktoo had animals of all size shapes and types, they were kind and generous. In fact Timbuktoo was so damn popular that animals who wanted an easy life and hoped to come to Timbuktoo to bludge off their generosity would pack themselves in all sorts of vessels and tried to come to live in Timbuktoo illegally. But we'll get back to that a little later.

Juliar, was unfortunate looking and lots of the other animals in the land used to pick on Juliar and call her all sorts of nasty names, this made Juliar mad and angry, Juliar decided there and then that she was going to make something of herself and show everyone that even ugly piggies can get somewhere, she was going to be an inspiration to ugly piggies everywhere. Then once she made it and become the most powerful animal in the land and then Fuck Shit Up for everyone in Timbuktoo.

Things in Timbuktoo had been going along just fine and everyone was happy. Little Juiar worked hard and stayed out of the limelight. Everything in Timbuktoo was run by the Market and who ever run the Market controlled everything down in Timbuktoo. Juliar had joined the Market and she was working her way up to the top. The elections to see who would become the next Supreme Chancellor were coming up, a funny little spoodle named Kwud was running for the top job but he needed a running partners. He spotted Juliar around the office one day eating some scraps off the floor. He thought, I will look so handsome and gorgeous next this ugly piggie by my side plus having a piggie as a running partner is so popular right now it's just the in thing. All Juliar's dreams had come true, she was now the second most powerful animal in Timbuktoo. She could start fucking shit up but only just a little.

Supreme Chancellor Kwud was doing such a wonderful job and everyone loved him after being ruled by a little wombat called Little Jon for so many years. He was mixing it up world other town leaders and Juliar's plans of getting all the animals who'd been cruel and mean to her were coming to be.

Well all of a sudden Supreme Chancellor Kwud the spoodle wasn't so popular anymore, apparently he'd been cocking his leg on many of the wheels of industry and the animals of Timbuktoo weren't happy. Vice Treasurary Chancellor Brian the Swan has a little whisper in Juliars ear and next thing you know she and Brian has severed Kwud's jugular and he'd cocked his leg for the last time as his remains were fed to the Jabberwackies. This meant that Juliar was Supreme Chancellor, by default, but none the less she could finally complete her dastardly plan. Juliar started fucking shit up good and proper. Juliar was upset at the cows, they'd been farting in the fields for years now and the methane they produced was screwing with the atmosphere in Timbuktoo. Juliar, desperate for power on the Market had done a secret back door deal in her sty with the weasels and to keep the weasels happy she was going to have to tax milk. The animals of Timbuktoo were becoming restless because everybody loves milk.

Juliar called a press conference to make a big announcement, she needed a distraction from all the shit she was fucking up on the side. everyone would be there from Timbuktoo to hear Juliar's announcement. She stepped up to the podium and just as she was about to speak a unicorn flew down from the clouds and shat on Juliar from above and like a statue in the park Juliar was covered in poo. As she wiped the poo from her eyes Juliar could see a shape appearing in the sky getting bigger and bigger. All of a sudden as if time had stood still for those few moments that Juliar had extracted the poo from here eyes, a strange looking vessel had landed in the field where the people of Timbuktoo had congregated. Several strange shapes appeared, walking on two legs, in their hands they carried strange devices. Juliar was excited and face covered in poo she rushed over to greet the visitors from the unknown. their faces were strange, the had gills on their cheeks and lime green eyes with deep black circles within, their hair was long clumps like a horses tail after a dodgy vindaloo. Juliar thrust out one of her trotters is a gesture of friendship when the creature shot out it's hand and struck Juliar with force, hidden inside the hand was a barb that injected a poison into Juliars body which softens her internal organs and literally sucked the life out of Juliar leaving behind a dried shrivelled corpse. The other animals were frightened and so they should be. Just as these strange creatures began firing a blue pulse beam which stuns the animals before they are fed upon by these Wrath. The Wrath were having a feast, sucking the life out of animals left right and centre. Just all hope was lost, a herd of unicorns flew down from the sky and speared all of these the Wrath to death. The speed and agility of the unicorns was so incredibly fast and furious that the Wrath never stood a chance. The animals of Timbuktoo were saved and everyone cheered and rejoiced with glee and wondrous joy.

On further inspection of the vessel that the alien creatures had come from it contained several devices that proved extremely useful. They found that there were other ways to deal with the cows methane problem, there was also a device that meant that they could get internet access without building a ridiculously expensive infrustrature when everything and everyone is moving towards wireless mobile devices. But the thing that thrilled the animals of Timbuktoo the most and that was a device that could identify illegal vessels carrying animals from other places to Timbuktoo illegally and blow the fuckers out of the face of the planet before they got there and the vessel's stopped coming.

Everything in Timbuktoo had returned to normal and was back to normal in no time at all, things in Timbuktoo could never get better, nothing at all could ruins the wonderful world of Timbuktoo. Until one day a unicorn has sex with a Jabberwocky and produced little Unijabbercorny and things were about to change in Timbuktoo forever................. but that is a story for another day.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

New Topic

Hi All,

I thought that I might give us all some practice at writing fiction. So next weeks topic is:

"Write a Fictional piece in any form and any length. You must include the words extinguish, vessel, and market (or forms thereof) in the piece"...yes I know. But I hope this is challenging - in a good way :D

Tag; Elisa

Please use the label "Fiction Challenge"

Twit on MyFace

Well this certainly isn't going to be educational... more just opinion and like aresholes everyone's got one..

Facebook - most business I know are doing it wrong - in fact I think it's possible for businesses to use viral tactics like Westfields did a christmas or two ago with their $10,000 give away - something that whilst people got the shits with was very effective - but that really falls under the banner of viral marketing or guerilla marketing than social networking.
Ultimately the name suggest what it should be, social networking, it's just another for used by people and business individuals, similar to cocktail parties and golf tournaments. I generally steer clear personally of 'like'ing businesses as I don't really care about their message, Chikito is one I have kept because they use their no no no campaign very effectively. Everyone else I just 'hide' their posts. I believe facebook can be best used by individuals that are a business within a business. Paul Tonich of Altitude real estate is one of the few real estate agents who use facebook effectively and very well I might ad. Paul understand the balance between business and personal and uses it for both. I have a 'work' facebook and a personal one. The work one is filled with people in my indyustry and almost 100% that attempt to use it for business get it wrong. Posting 100% business message is a sure fire way to end up in the who cares basket. Too much personal and people may not want to do business with you. Paul has just about every past client as his Friend on Facebook, he gives us a little bit of his life and a little bit of his business. His past clients like to know he's doing well, they also know what he's up to and he knows what they are up to. So when he calls to keep in touch building that relationship is all that much easier. He gets to use it to offer tickets to the footy, restaurant vouchers etc. and he uses facebook to do so.
There are so man ybusiness under utilising a tool like facebook - Imagine if a restaurant had great service promoted that they were on facebook and posted photo's of guests, featured a meal and people could comment on how nice it was promting other people to head over and try it. Imagine if they knew that in a wednesday night they had only half the restaurant booked and used facebook to offer 2 for 1 deals and people would find out via facebook and the restaurant could take bookings and fill the restaurant. What if they used it to offer people who hadn't been to the restaurant in the last two months a 50% discount to come back. What an awesome opportunity.
Hairdresser, only a couple of booking for the upcoming tuesday so they offer free highlights or something. Use the social media to promote hair styles and make overs, sent you an 'inbox' when you were due for your next hair cut. But it has to be about PEOPLE not the BUSINESS. All business no matter what it is is built around PEOPLE. And that's the key if your business can focus on PEOPLE and not the business the business would prosper. But it has to be a blend nothing worse that having a business person invade your status updates with details of their latest product... exampels of people using the products different story... it's SOCIAL networking - keep it social or you be 'unlike'd and 'unfriended' or have your posts set to 'hide' very quickly.

Twitter I have only just started using and boy it's confusing at times.... it's hard to because you can't really invite people to follow you like you can ask them to be friends. I really only like following people who just tweet... For example I love Will Anderson however his tweet are filled with @'s #'s and all sorts of stuff i don't understand and as a comedian i just want him to write funny shit, but it's always promoting stuff and i find it very hard to follow.. I can't see that social connection that you have with facebook - twitter is for me simple voyerism - i like reading funny tweets, other than that no thanks and boy it gets confusing at time...

I'm T-Bone and that's my 34 cents worth!!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Confessions of a Twitterholic

Ok, I'm not, really. In fact I think I'm what you'd most assuredly call a messerer-arounder. I've dabbled in Twitter, done Facebook experiments, used LiveJournal up the razoo and have several unsucessful blogs and websites in my back catalogue. In fact, the hype around social media smacks of that previous winner in the "Next Big Profitable Thang" stakes: Advertising on the Internet (it's the next big thang and you can make millions!). Number of people who managed that: About five. Number of people who put in a half-assed attempt and came out the other end without enough money to buy a Happy Meal: About a million.

There are, of course, and handful of successful Tweeters out there. Take Charlie Sheen... ok, no, bad example. But he undeniably has a huge following, and if he weren't so busy winning then his Twitter account could be directly earning him quite a tidy sum. Case in point: I have a personal Twitter account with 3700 followers despite the fact it's just full of auto-postings from my blogs. Is it making me money? Well, it used to, when I made an effort. Not anymore.

It seems as if the masses have taken to social media while most businesses have stood around twiddling their thumbs. For far too long places like MySpace and Facebook were seen as merely recreational - and it was 100% true. So where was the problem, exactly, if we're only pissfarting around? Rigid thinking, my peoples, rigid thinking. People assuming that because things "were" just for fun then things "always would be".

A couple of businesses broke the train of thought. The arguably most-successful of these is Zynga, who've brought to us such masterpieces as Mafia Wars and Farmville. If you haven't heard of these two, where have you been... under a rock? (Or in a Facebook-free Cone of Silence?)

AHHH but I hear you say, I don't make games so how can I possibly use social networking to make money? See, there you go again with the rigid thinking. Who said it had to be about games?

The reality is that just as it is for any business tool, success via social media takes effort. No company would expect that $20 worth of advertising on tv would make them millionaires. The same goes for sticking your most junior receptionist into Twitter and telling her to say cool things about your product. It's not going to do a thing except clog up your Twitter account with tweets nobody reads. So. Imagine you're at a party.

There's one chick at the party that you don't really know. You've heard of her name, but that's it. Someone introduces her to you. But she talks NON-STOP about her company and never stops to draw breath or actually chat *with* you. She's like a movie projector looping a silent documentary about the mating habits of dung beetles. THIS is what your social media looks like if you're trying to use it to plug your product. You're just that boring chick at the party blabbing non-stop. People turn their backs on you (and your product) because you're boring. They're here to have a party! Who wants to hear a lecture in a party? Puh-lease!

The magical buzzword is "engage". Harness what social media already is: it's SOCIAL. You wouldn't go stand at a party and be that chick, would you? How would you behave at a party, or some other social gathering, if you showed up in the flesh? You would ask questions of people. You'd share ideas. The talk would go back and forward. You'd chat to several people in different ways. Tell one guy a joke; ask another girl how her studies are going. You'd talk about topics that interest them - not just yap about yourself or your work day (or your product). Perhaps you'd dance or sing along; have a cup of coffee, enjoy the movie, try the french onion dip, help wash up. Essentially, you'd interact and adapt.

And this is the crux of it all. Real-life friends have similar interests to you and like what you have to say. You find them interesting, so you reply. But the business/customer relationship is not the same so you can't treat it the same and think anyone will care about what you tweet or Facebook. You have to go to some effort.

Firstly, KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. By its very nature social media is "dumbed down" and simplified. Your polished sales spiel from the glossy catalogue won't necessary fly. Smile. Seriously, if you don't make an effort in text, the emotion is often lost. Be nice. And if someone decides to play dirty, don't engage.

Secondly, most of us use social media on a one-to-one basis. Even if ten people click 'Like' and five more comment on our status, we reply to seperate people. So when someone makes a comment on your company - any comment - make sure someone is replying. Be human, or else you simply won't belong. Ask questions. Be nosy and listen. Give feedback. Encourage the two-way banter. Get your potential customers talking to each other about you.

Spread yourself out. Visit other parties. "Friend" (or "Follow") your competitors. Incorporate ideas from like-minded businesses - if you sell cloth nappies, post articles from people who sell toys. Comment on their posts. Network, network, network. Ask the toy seller to post an article about you. Say thank you. Buy them a beer.

Keep picturing your company as that chick at the party and make sure she's popular. It's a lot of effort to keep making brand new friends like you, after all. But if you treat social media like it's merely messing around, then that's all it ever will be.

PS. If you follow every single one of my rules, religiously, exactly and with enough fervent ardour, you will be guilty of rigid thinking. See if you can break a few rules...

Current Affairs

I know it's last weeks topic but we forgot a cursory mention of the 'Pensioner eats dog food story' something no doubt the world of current affairs is proud of and totally responsible for. p.s. baked beans are cheaper...

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Tweeting off your Face..a BIG no no (and other wisdom)

This may well me one of my first deadly serious blog posts. Meaning that if you are not at all interested in the topic you should stop reading right about now and perhaps go here...Twin Babies Conversing...amusing no? The first point to make is that the question "Facebook & Twitter: Serious business tools, or just messing around?"almost treats; a. A serious business approach and b. just messing around as mutually exclusive concepts. In my opinion if you are using Facebook(FB) and Twitter(Twt) as a business and you are not sometimes messing around you are making a big mistake. You have mis-judged the space that is social media and are regarding it as just another marketing (sales, advertising, and PR) platform.

The great thing about these social media platforms, and the reason that every marketing manager wants to do well in this space, is that having come from an environment where we have for years been sending information out in a unidirectional manner, all of a sudden we have the promise of an open channel of communication. A conversation. Oh the excitement!

Initially Social Media seemed to hold the promise of breaking though the barriers of the attention economy. But like every new medium, it eventually becomes old and with it the return of the old problem of how to get noticed on Twt and FB.

" an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it" Simon 1971 pp.40-40

But before we get onto that I should note here that Facebook and Twitter are actually quite disparate platforms, and thus should be treated as such by the business user. From a personal perspective I actually find Twt quite a lot more difficult to use, and less rewarding. There are several reason for this but mostly:

1. Because you often have to send people away from the stream to read anything other than the 140 letter limit, and based on my own experience people do not like to navigate away from the page they are on unless highly motivated to do so.

2. It's also much harder to build, and keep track of relationships on Twitter as comments and retweets etc have a much more separate nature from each other than Facebook. Many businesses simply use an application to sync their Twitter and Facebook Updates, by using an application such as the Twitter App on Facebook.This is a mistake! Use each platform in a way that is more suited to it's specifications and remember that if someone is interested enough to follow you on one, then it is quite likely that they may follow you on another - see my comments on spam that follow.

3. Twitter sucks up more staff resource that Facebook. Twitter needs more tweets per day than Facebook needs status updates (1-2). Twitter also (as previously touched on)relies on other platforms, so in some cases there is some double handling, where as often,comparatively, FB is a one stop shop.

Keep it cool

This is where the "messing around" bit comes in. Social media is voyeuristic. People want to know about the people behind the brand. What is the company personality? Please please please have one - a personality that is. Your followers will be much more interested in what you have to say if what you have to say is a little personal. It doesnt hurt to have multiple professionals in your business tweeting. From my perspective there is nothing better than a CEO or CTO or equivalent that tweets, blogs and/or publishes on Facebook.

Save the Jargon for the Board Room
Cut out that marketing language. People want to know that a real person is tapping that information out. If the only people you want to talk to on Twt and FB are other Business Owners, then take it to LinkedIn and spare everyone the boredom. There is some room for B2B marketing on FB and Twit, but if that's what youre doing on there, and if you're not occassionally having fun, don't expect any end users to follow you.

Don't Spam
Facebook and Twitter has
for personal users become a real community in their consciousness. They don't want to clutter up their newsfeeds with Marketing Messages in Spam-like proportions (Twitter with it's short messages and fast moving nature will tolerate this more but not much more) So you had a lot happen at your company today? There was the new product launch, the 521 media items it produced online in a 3 hr period, your CEO wrote a piece for the company blog etc. That's lovely. But there is no need to produce 5 status items out of this information. Choose wisely and be sure to mix it up. No one wants to hear the same message everyday.

Use the tools around you

If you are an up to date kind gal or guy you can run an entire marketing campaign online for absolutely nothing. It pays to know about all of the free stuff you can grab to enhance the end users Twt or FB experience. From surveys programs like wufoo to do it yourself animations like xtranormal (in which I published my last poem for this blog) I am discovering new and varied ways to up the ante everyday and the only place I need to look is in my own personal FB stream, my friends use FB like it's going out of business and it is wise to pay attention to what your savvy friends are posting/laughing at. The point being; previously we addressed the point about not posting the same information daily; well, now, we are addressing the point about not posting in the exact same form daily. Mix up your media and cut through all the same same. Warning - if you drive people back to your business website continually they will eventually stop following your links. This is why I made the decision for our business to host our blog on Blogger, insisted that our CEO and CTO post blog items, as well as myself, and asked them to keep the language, and some of the topics accessible.

Be Responsive
So now that you have it, make sure that you respond to your followers. People who follow companies on Twt and FB have reported that they have been able to resolve problems by posting complaints on the walls/feeds of the relevant company. This is FANTASTIC! This kind of translucency is exactly what users are looking for. Some people have claimed that SM has rekindled good old fashioned customer service. And the reason for this of course is because people are watching. Of course people are also watching to see how well you as a company handle, and how quickly you resolve the situation, and in the end this is a WIN for you. At this juncture I would also like to make a complaint about ninemsn. Who provided NO reasonable platforms for me to make complaint about their gratuitous selling of advertising space on the front on of news items about the severe loss of human life in Japan. They have a FB page, and posting to their wall is disabled. This is not what social media is about ninemsn!

An important note about "going viral" - A case study
I recently launched our business FB site. We went from 7 followers (staff I forced to follow us) to 50 followers. But please don't think that they followed out of the kindness of their hearts. I sent out video invitations to quite a significant mailing list and the promise to be in the running to win an iPhone4 in the process. The competition closes this Friday. The point of this little diatribe is to illustrate that ROI on social media is extremely hard to measure. I will tell you however that we have gained 2 proof of concept trials that could net us 10's of thousands of dollars, opened many a discussion on highly technical aspects of network monitoring and reestablished relationships with contacts that we have not heard from in some time, all in the period of 3 weeks. This may sound like small fry, and we are a small company, but in fact these wins have incalculable value.

I should also mention that every one of our followers is market relevant. There was one horror moment when I realised that a Twitter user, who collects competitions and publishes them to his stream had included us in his mad ravings. I do not want 1282 followers who have nothing to do with our space but fancy their chances of winning an iPhone. Sheesh..If I wanted that I would have opened it up to my friends (who are in fact much more likely to need a free iPhone than my peers). Long story short; Going Viral aint all that in some cases.

Happy Web 2.0 My friends.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

New Topic

I'm posting this on behalf of Eri for next week's topic.

The new topic will be. "Facebook & Twitter: Serious business tools, or just messing around?"

Please use the topic social media.

Tag, Research Geek!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Four corners of a 60-minute current affair today, tonight, tomorrow and next week

Oh how the answer could be so simple... or so dreadfully complicated, depending on whom you ask.

Let's get one thing straight: When it comes to commerical channels, the main reason these programs exist is to make you watch them. Advertising's big dollars rule the world. The shows on government-funded channels at least have a different reason for being: mainly, because viewers are interested to see them. Sure, someone will cry altruism. All those senationalist journalists pretend they're in the business because they want to do the best thing, that most noble of jobs, telling the people. From the goodness of their hearts. Oh please. This here is for them - it's the world's tiniest violin.

Watching current affairs programs makes me think of car accidents. Most of us don't actually want to look at twisted metal, the Jaws of Life, ambulances and bodies/belongings strewn across a highway in the wake of an unidentifiable people-mover. Those things are all scary and nasty. But we still rubberneck and stare every single time, don't we? Don't we? And for what?

So, are we doing the same when we glue our butts to the sofa and stare at the idiot box to mindlessly absorb Today Corners and oooh-aaaah at that stupid woman/grandfather/teacher/shop doing dumb things? Or are we just satisfying a lust for becoming a regular busybody Mrs Mangel?


Occasionally they have some program for a "good" cause. That (school/hospital/home) which (disappeared/burned down/fell apart) and how the (owner/criminal/government) won't (fix/replace/buy) it. And here's how you can help by donating: just phone 1-800-MAKE-EVERYTHING-BETTERER. In theory, raising awareness gets action happening, and sometimes it does. The problem is that the journos have that same, exact, imitiation sympathetic "sad tv" look on their faces whether they're talking about the horrible three cent price increase on bubblegum, or the five hundred people maimed by a murderous-crayon-wielder on a rampage.

It leaves me with an empty feeling. What was on 60-affairs-current-line last week? Last month? Can't bloody remember? Sounds about right. Vapid, meaningless "entertainment" that still holds our attention with as much pull as Aqua's Barbie Girl played on the radio (but without the humour).

Monday, 28 March 2011

Current Affairs - Exclusive!!!! Keeping Society Stupid

Here we go...... Current Affairs programs struggle with their own propaganda - telling themselves that they are good and decent and concerned only with making society a better place. Only problem is that doesn't rate well and lets face it as much as they believe their own hype it's all about getting viewers AT ALL COSTS. Sure they occasionaly do some good things exposing con man and shonky deals but does the rest of the damaging misbeliefs, propaganda and mistruths make up for all of that - absolutely not. Let me explain. Ever since the Paxtons incident many years ago i stopped watching curre.nt affairs shows, that whole episode highlights how a big TV organisation and a whole lot of really smart journalists can manipulate one innocent family. Could the Paxtons kids have gone out and gotten work, yes of course they can, was ACA interested in helping them find work, hell no. Finding them actual jobs would have killed the story. Then they take a strugglng resort in desperate need for publicity and further exploit these kids who had no real knowledge of how they were being pushed and pulled for the holy grail - Ratings. Take the recent bully story for example. Interview with Casey, the hero in all this, everyone was going to watch and it was always going to come off well for Casey. But the interview with the bully, that was never going to come off other than one way, badly for the bully. His parents should never ever have allowed him to be interviewed. The publics minds were made up about Ritchard, they weren't about to be changed, however TV shows like ACA and TT are experts at convincing people why they should get in front of the camera and tell their side of the story. But did it make a good story, YES, did lots of people watch, YES, did their advertising rates go up because of their increased audiences, YES. What's the purpose of these shows, to sell advertising and make money, but to what expense - any. Let me give you another example - ACA often uses their real estate expert, Neil Jenman, the do gooder of the real estate industry or so he is protrayed. Let me give you a clear picture of who Neil Jenman is. Neil created the Jenman system, essentially a franchise like bakers delight or subway except for real estate. Neil created such fictional classics as Common Mistakes Home Sellers Make, with outstanding facts like, don't list your home with an agent who wears a nice watch... etc.. Neil earnt a portion of the commission of every sale from people who sold using the Jenman System... his entier ethos is to direct people to him Jenman System agents from which he earns a commission however shows like ACA use Neil to comment on the industry so he can target his competition and why do they use Neil, because he make controversial statements that generate negative feeling towards the real estate industry ... it's like getting comments from the CEO of Holden about the motor car industry and he explains why all cars except holdens are rubbish... But he's their indepentant industry expert.... Can anyone spell conflict of interest. My one experience with the media in any form was about 4 years ago. We had two dogs, Mojo and Chilli, Chilli was still a puppy but he was a deadshit, no really he was asw dumb as bat sht and just couldn't learnt the simplist of commands. One day when walking the dogs at 5am I let them off the lead and Chilli spotted a couple wth a germah shepherd and a doberman. Lets just say it didn't end well for Chilli. See the horrific nature of his death really effected me... I was deeply effected and had trouble dealing with it and found solice in writing my feelings and emotions out. I wrote to the local paper. A journalist phoned me and wanted to do a story. During the interview I commented that I felt that dogs like that, in teh context of what I was saying was dogs that for whom will attack and kill another dog at will should not be roaming around a park without a lead. It was reported in teh paper that i said that dogs like that german shepherds should not be allowed. Subsequently receiving threatening calls at home. When I rang the jounalist the editor had editted the story that way... really they deliberately misquoted me whilst using my name because it read better. Imagine how easy it is for news and current affairs shows to manipulate people and facts for their own purposes. In my opinion the good things that current affairs show do exposing con artists etc.. just make a show called Con artists or something..... Current affairs shows appeal to the lowest common denominator and unfortunately Australians generally operate on the lowest common denominator. Current affairs shows keep a dumd society dumb. They operate on a level where the truth is what they want it to be. You can be garuanteed that every thrid week there's a plastic surgery or breast cancer story just so they can show breasts on tele, every three weeks there's a weight loss story and so on and so on.. Good news and great stories just simply don't rate like drama and scandal does. I think that in the end I want to give society more credit.. I want to believe that people aren't that nieve that they can see through the smoke and mirrors, i want to believe that people can think for themselves, I want to believe that people want to see both sides of a story in an impartial manner, but i'm kidding myself what a shame that the chase for more viewers and the almighty advertising dollar can get in the way of facts, integrity, ethics all get in the way of a g0ood story... lets face it, if you increase the intelligence of your audience then current affairs programs won't get away with the crap they produce... it's in the interest of the programs to keep society dumb and dumber. For a great laugh and a real true look behind the scenes of a current affairs program, pick up a copy of the Frontline series, one of the countries best and funniest TV series ever.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

A Current Affair to Forget

My memory of current affairs programmes in the 80's and early 90's is that they seemed to be filled with overly earnest TV hosts who almost seemed to lean into the camera whilst they divulged the latest and most disturbing news, some from far flung posts around the world, with bombs exploding in the background and dirt flying up into the lens. Serious debates on current issues. Fodder for the thinking man (or woman).

It's a far cry from the absolute drivel that we see today on ACA (as we are now too demented to remember the name "A Current Affair"), and Today Tonight.
But are these shows reflecting a seriously dumbed down society or are they indeed contributing to it? Does art reflect life, or does life reflect art? When did the move into celluloid begin?

As far as I can work out, and I remember the day, ACA lost their last "real" journalist in Jana Wendt, when she left ACA on principle, because she did not agree to them showing tat - In the form of a pair of decontextualise naked breasts in 1992.

Ahhhhhhh..the memories. Current affairs programmes on commercial channels hosted by professional journalists, with PRINCIPLES - heaven forbid! Now, as far as I can see (and I dont watch them) they are hosted by what my grandfather would have termed "dolly birds" and men that spend more time staring into the mirror than I do, who's greatest achievement is to read someones else words off an autocue.

And what words!
"How to drop a dress size in a week"
"Your microwave could be killing you!" (they are into the killing you thing,for microwave also insert, house, car, vacuum cleaner)
"neighbours from hell" (almost always set in a housing commission environment - ACA and Today Tonight love housing commission)
"landlord from hell" (see above)


I don't watch commercial tv at the best of times. And, hand on heart, I have not watched one of their current affairs shows in years and years. Though I can imagine that I may again one day. There will be a time when I want to watch mindless entertainment and be told what to think on the most mindnumbingly unimportant and completely irrelevant subjects. That day will be the one on which I lost my mind to dementure and seek to be told my opinion, which I will then gleefully push on all of my frightened grandchildren (who are only more frightened by my spiky whisker kisses)and use as fodder to make shouting complaints about the staff in the nursing home.