Monday, August 31, 2009

Customer Service

So, according to Heather Armstrong, there's been a shit-storm lately on Twitter about her approch to dealing with shitty customer service (for the record, a mum blog - don't trawl the archives unless you can cope with baby crap & breastfeeding).

The gist of the story is as follows: she has a newborn. Babies make for lots of washing. Decision is made to buy new washing machine, to the tune of $1300 USD. 10-year warranty also purchased. Within a week, said machine breaks. Not unreasonably, she expects the makers to honour the warranty and fix it. After a tortuous series of attempts, machine fails to get properly fixed; getting increasingly frustrated, she calls as many people as she possibly can to expedite the process, hoping to get a working machine in the interim. (Unsurprisingly) is met with standard 'oh, we have to follow our procedure' excuses.

This is where the story gets different. Dooce is one of the most popular personal blogs out there. Heather Armstrong has a million followers on Twitter, and she was recently named in Forbes' top 30 most influential women in the media. Her reaction to ongoing shitty service was to call out the company responsible online in a series of angry tweets here (damn, I hate using 'tweet' like that).

Cut to a shit-ton of people criticising that as a course of action. Which really frustrates me; I don't think it's a bad thing. Companies (especially the larger ones) get away more and more now with little or no committment to customer service; above and beyond that, they frequently seem to have little committment to honouring the contracts they form when they sell us stuff. Now, that 10-year warranty probably had some kind of 'fixed within a reasonable time' clause, and I'm not saying that the manufacturer of the washing machine was, legally speaking, negligent. But large corporations can, and will, get away with supplying below-grade service if they possibly can. I don't think it's particularly fair that Heather Armstrong was treated as a more important person than anybody else who's ever been scewed over by that company, but I think it's a REALLY good thing that she reacted in a way that shamed them.

As consumers, we have more power now than we ever have to affect the behaviour of the companies we buy from, but only if we're actually paying attention. The American airline industry is paying attention to dissatisfaction expressed by customers through Twitter; Heather Armstrong not only called out one company on bad service, but inspired good service from a number of others (I'm not so naieve as to believe that this was out of altruism rather than taking up a marketing opportunity, but it's still a good thing). So rather than calling an angry consumer a bully, why don't we think about the fact that large corporations engage in bullying behaviour frequently (even as a matter of course), and about the fact that our responses to this behaviour actually matter.

So think about thanking the next person you get great service from. Think about where you're buying things, what the company's track record is on everything from good service to honouring their committments to social justice and the environment. Start complaining when you're not getting good service, but do it constructively. Start giving a shit.

Big City Drifts

Family visitations, a five hour drive to Sydney. Oh boy! Oh boy!

I always forget how much I dislike large cities; I mean, they're noisy, they're crowded, they smell, there's too many people, you can barely see the sky because of the high-rises, and yet, if you look, you can get whatever you can think of. Nope, I'm not a big city girl, at the moment at any rate. They fascinate me, thrill me, even interest me: so many people packed into a location. I know they do it, but it still strikes me as odd...when you think about it, and I mean really think about it.

Clear Skies~V

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Quote of the day

'Did you really need to bite that poor stylist's hands? They're his tools!'

"Did he really need to put his tools in my bite radius?"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Because we're all healthy people here...

Can I have one of these for my brain?

I love that it wasn't enough to deliver the warning, 'uneven' had to be emphasised by suitably wibbly lines. This is another photo from our visit to the old bus depot markets. I'm still trying to decide what my favourite thing was - the socks made from possum wool, the guy who made really awesome chairs (when I finally manage to become fabulously wealthy, he's making all my furniture), or the horrible shaggy hats that gave you cat ears & eyes in your forehead. I'd put up the pictures of those, except they're kindof incriminating.

Sometimes I think of those round-the-neck labels you see on photos of children being evacuated from London in WWII, the ones like directions for parcel delivery, which always makes me think of those chest harness / leash setups some people have for toddlers. I have no idea why the 'uneven' sign made me think of these, but now that I'm on this (ha! uneven) train of thought, an anecdote for the day: my first school bus driver used to bring his little boy on the morning trip, all gussied up in said harness/leash combo. He'd clip the leash to the door of the driver's booth, and the kid spent the entire ride to school tearing up & down the bus. Think of the OH&S headache...

The things we say...part 2

Thank D for this entry's comment:

1. "When I'm wearing my trench coat every low wall screams 'Crouch on me! Crouch on me!'" - apparently this justifies wearing a real leather trench coat and avoiding low walls.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Jesus doesn't have a beak

Bought this pendant at the Kingston Bus Depot markets last weekend, and it occured to me that in passing it looks like a cross, except that in a closeup you realise that it's not, in fact, Christ on the cross, but is in fact a totem of some variety (if anyone can enlighten me to the exact or more details, I'd be delighted to kn0w) and that the object which would have been Christ has a beak.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

231 vs. 236

Bet you didn't know that 231 is the number for God did you? I also bet that none of you knew that the Antichrist has his own number and it isn't 666 or 616 (cos that would make him fall under Ceramic and allied technologies or Diseases respectively). Also, just so we're all on the same page: Douglass Adams may or may not have been correct about 42, since that number is currently unassigned as of Edition 16 of the DDC.

Yes, I'm talking about the Dewey Decimal Classification system...again. It amuses me greatly. They have numbers for nigh on anything you can come up with, and if you can't you just build a number for it. For example, the number 393 and its derivatives deals with Death Customs, i.e. burial (393.1, including entombment) and Mourning (393.9, including funerals, suttee, wakes); and then we've got 781, which deals with General principles and musical forms. Go figure.

I wonder if they have a number for Cops wearing leather pants riding bikes...

Clear Skies~V

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ah, rental.

So. Real Estate Agents kindof freak me out.

Don't get me wrong, our landlady's property manager seems lovely. But there's really something rather strange about every real estate agent I've ever met. They're all incredibly enthusiastic, which creeps me out when they're inspecting my house at 9 in the morning (I'm not so much a morning person. Enthusiasm at that time of day's pretty wrong, in my book), and they smile ALL THE TIME. They're perfectly coiffed & made up, and the smiling... I always have these moments of HOLY CRAP, THERE'S A ROBOT IN MY KITCHEN. Uncanny valley muchly.

*Ahem*. Sorry. No more caps today. Anyway, we passed our inspection (although the exhaust fan cover in my ensuite apparently isn't quite clean enough) and there's no more robot in my kitchen; it's now occupied by cupcakes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hear the words of the mighty!

Brought to you by th Sydney Morning Herald; weekend edition Ugust 8th-9th, 2009.

Clear Skies~V

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Do you have a question that needs answering? Do you want answers to those questions that have so long eluded you?

Neil Gaiman has your answer., check this out.

Clear Skies~V

First aid for the uber ebil

Looking For Group » Page 280

....can I save my friends like this in times of need? Pweeeese?

Impasse from Reel 13 on Vimeo.

Via BitchPhD ( Seriously... watch and think.

The Things We Say...part 1

The title says it all, and today's winner is L with:

  1. "Run away pin! Run away pin! Nooo! Come back!" - With my parents visiting for the next fortnight we figured we would go and do some groceries so that we could actually, you know, serve food. So we're checking out, I swipe my card, and the realise that the pharmacy is still open so I sign to L that I'll just be a minute and disappear. About half a minute later, L materialises at the front of the shop and gestures for me to come back, because, silly me, she doesn't know the pin number so she can't finalise the purchase. Oops.
  2. "I am perfectly prepared to invest $3 in irritating you." - Purchasing birdseed to hang out for the local wildlife was always a tradition that my mother upheld, much to the chagrin of her long-suffering children who ended up having to clean up after the birds who, in retrospect, are rather messy eaters. That's okay though, they're birds, can't bid them to change their nature. So when the situation changed and my mother no longer had a sway in what we bought or when, birdseed was, out of principle, expressly forbidden. That is, D did the forbidding. Which is why, every now and then, for the sizzle glare expression, we buy birdseed.

Clear Skies~V
There's a forum I frequent (don't shoot me yet), which, while awesome, frequently puzzles me. Well, to be more accurate, some of its users puzzle me. Exceedingly. The population of this forum is (in my opinion) a little unusual; certainly the general user seems to be both more intelligent and a helluva lot less disrespectful than many net users, streets away from the average troll. So the 'serious discussions' board is both free from idiotic spam and actually a place where thoughtful contributions are made on a range of topics. Yours truly generally feels a lot less cynical after a visit.

So I was a little surprised to find out that the three basic dietary options are vegetarian, vegan, and macrobiotic.

Now, I'm well aware that a person's upbrining and general experience colours the way they see the world and defines which part of the landscape is 'normal'. No problems there. My personal normal doesn't correspond particularly closely with that of my partner in crime, nor do I require it to. It's a wonderful, diverse world, don'tchathink?

Coming (slowly) to the point; recently I participated in a conversation on the abovementioned forum on the topic of vegetarianism. For the record, my position on the subject is pretty much that as long as people aren't evangelical about it, I don't give a rats what they eat, or why they eat it. Evangelism shits me. Aaanyway, an individual whose thoughful, amusing, gracefully worded posts had previously impressed me, kindof left me cold. I'm still trying to work out whether they're actually so convinced of the Normality of their upbringing/community/self-definition/whatever that they're actually incapable of acknowledging that other people have different experiences, or if they're actually aiming for the sneer in the tone when they say things like "I don't know anyone who doesn't always have basics like tahini and bulgur on hand," or "I'm sure I know people who eat meat, I just can't think of more than a couple off the top of my head." Another corker was the profession that the basic school food choices, in their experience, are vegan, vegetarian and macrobiotic. Please, allow me to re-assess my lifestyle choices in the face of your clear and evident superiority. I just didn't know!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I don't want to live forever, I'm from Michigan...

Best excuse for smoking ever.

(Disclaimer: I'm a non-smoker who's never been to Michigan.)

Sounds of FEAR in the night...

I love being able to hear gunfire from my room.

Sound odd? It isn't really. It's also accompanied by manical laughter, occasional fits of 'Oh god no!' and 'Sonofa-'. These are the sounds that fill the night whenever FEAR is the game of choice. They amuse me, because I know that every time there's a particularly loud curse or shout that little Alma is having a field day, and that warms my heart.

And it is a sweet revenge for getting creeped out by hearing the haunting sounds of Alma's music box come creeping through the hall into my room.

Little girls should be allowed to have fun.

Even the crazy, dead, psychotic ones.

Clear Skies~V


Some random pretty for today.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A sign from the stars? o.O

You've got big plans today -- and you should be able to make them come to life, more or less. Your hopes need some discussion before you can really get going on them, so find someone sympathetic

I opened my inbox prior to sleeps and my horoscope tells me what you just read. So I get to thinking: what are these big plans today? Do I have big plans today? No? But I have to have big plans today, my horoscope says so! Okay, let's see, what do I need to get done today? What day is it? Still Tuesday? So does that mean that I had big plans today? Or no, wait, these horoscopes come from America, i.e. I'm a day ahead. Wait, does that mean that they're telling me about today or about my tomorrow or do they work in like time zones and are talking about my night? If so, how's that any good to me? I'm actually planning on sleeping tonight, what with class tomorrow. But if they're talking about what I did today, doesn't that mean that I need to reflect on what I did today and work out if it matches what they -

I give up.

Clear Skies~V

ps. Also. "Find someone sympathetic". I love clear instructions, thank you stars for spelling it out to me in "go do this" styled language, now I really can't get lost.

RIP, chicken

Thus ended one of the $2 family of horrific yellow chickens which have populated various surfaces in the house at the end of the world for many months now. An ignoble fall into a poorly-crocheted mp3-player case.

The chicken in happier times. *Snif* Farewell, o garish tribute to commercialism.


Some months ago, while delivering a lesson on interlibrary loan, ALT1 informed us that while there is an applicable code, it's "more like guidelines than actual rules." My co-conspirator was absent from this particular class (two of us means we only have to go half as often, right?), and to my horrified embarrassment, no-one in the room understood my near-hysterical laughter.

Awesome Library Teacher is awesome, but Geoffrey Rush she 'aint. Although come to think of it, she'd probably make a pretty good pirate.

My little ponies, moving with the times?


And look at this: My Little Pony, on the interwebs!

I'm guessing that the majority of you will have come across those advertisements for 'online games free to play!' somewhere. I'll admit to having playing Adventure Quest when it was a fairly new thing, and this was before Guild Wars so I think it was legitimate. I've dabbled in those 'create your own nation' games like NationStates, even played Bitefight one Christmas when I had some extra time on my hands (prior to Second Life I must add). I can't say that they're all great fun, but they all share one very common thing: they're all very good at taking up spare time that could be put to better use such as writing that essay that's due tomorrow, or the dishes that have been inhabiting the sink for the last 12 hours. Some of them are even entertaining, even thought provoking if you play it right. But er...why would you want to collect and breed up to 75 ponies?

The main page lets you select the colors and breeds of your parent ponies and then cross them to see what kind of a pony you turn up with. For the sake of experimental blogging - and because I'm willing to take one for the team - I've just crossed two ponies and registered. It disturbs me that you can list your birth year as early as 1960...

...but not quite as much as the pony I seem to have generated. Welcome to Dean the pink little love pony. (I couldn't not share the pain, sorry).

I'll let you know how it goes...if it goes anywhere. >.>

But I mean really My Little Ponies on the internet? When did that become right? Okay, let me rephrase that: when did collecting and breeding My little ponies (I don't care what they're really called) become right?!

I feel like my childhood has slipped away in the cold, harsh pull of the commercial undertoe. Goodbye cruel world.

Clear Skies~V

Monday, August 17, 2009

Meat in bags just looks funny...

Ever noticed how when you're parcelling out meat and sticking it into bags to put in the freezer it looks funny? Seriously, next time you - or whoever performs this onerous duty in your household (unless of course no one does) - take a look at it: meat in bags just looks funny! It's also interesting to see what kind of puns you can swing off of the phrase of course. >.> ...but we won't go there, because we're very well-balanced individuals who never make puns of any variety. Except when we're on mic, with the Guild...and possibly when we're talking aloud.

Well...okay, so maybe I was stretching the truth a little. Puns happen. A lot. We tend to write them down, when they're bad enough to record, provided we remember to write them down, which most often we don't. It's a failing. You get used to it.

The message, however, irregardless of all the chattering you've just managed to wade through is that meat in bags looks funny.

Take it how you like it. Unless you're vegitarian of course, in which case you'd probably be pretty disgusted with me right now (granted, raw meat can be pretty gross. -.-').

Clear Skies~V

I wonder...

I wonder how many writers are selfish by nature, and then I wonder just how many admit it. Talking with a friend on MSN, we both write, he's got a book in the publishing cogs so he's ahead of me. I mention that I've been up all night writing the new story that I'm writing for my Second Life Clan's newspaper, and I get the eager 'oh? what's it about? you get far?'. Now, if it had been anyone else I'd have hesitated with answering any of those questions, does that make me a cautious person on grounds of 'I don't want to share my ideas with anyone else in case they "steal" them'? Or does that make me selfish with a work that I'm obviously going to be sharing with others eventually? It's probably a combination of both; I rather imagine that a lot of the big time authors out there can be rather possessive over their work, it's their brainchild after all. Can you imagine being an editor having to slowly convince someone to hand over their work for editting? I don't know about anyone else, but I have a hard enough time letting my family critique my work. This is all assuming of course, that a writer isn't the over-perfectionist who never gets his/her work to a publisher to start with, cos I'm pretty sure there's a lot of them out there (*pointedly ignores self*).

On that note, though, isn't it awesome that people actually publish books at all? Be it novels, poetry, whatnots, it's kinda neat that these people spend so much time and effort putting words to paper and letting other people read them. ^.^ (And yes, I'm so totally ignoring any potential economical benefit and being beautifully idealistic about it all.)

Clear skies~V

There's a hippopotamus on my roof eating cake

Ok, so I lied about the hippo. We just had birds.

My valium hasn't kicked in.

Now, L & I are currently in our last semester of a Diploma in Library and Information Systems. Much funness to be had in this semester (for a change!), especially since now we get to build Dewey numbers. Okay a new level of geek, I know, but it's fun!

We have an awesome teacher for the building of DDC (Dewey Decimal Classification) who shall herafter be referred to as 'Awesome Library Teacher 1' (or ALT1) - and yes, there is actually an ALT2, in case you were wondering. The conversation that validated her - ALT1 - awesomeness ran like this:

Student: ALT1, can we just use the index to build the number for question
ALT1: I can't answer that. My valium hasn't kicked in yet.

Also, if you were looking for a book about the effects of leaf beetles on maple forests, would you look animal pests or insect pests?

Clear Skies~V

Average dinner table discussions &...zombies? o.O

Argh! I'm running behind! Not that this is a race, or a competition, because I think, given the current record, I'd lose.

Coincidentally, says that it's 'roofs', at least in the American spelling.

So we're having dinner, at quarter to 1 in the morning, because that's just the way we roll. We run better at night, at least I do, I don't know about L. It might have something to do with the fact that I only woke up at 7pm yesterday, and that was probably due to the fact that I woke up at 3pm the day before. What can I say? I function better at night.

Highlight of today's dinner included the third member of our company breaking out in hysterics right before he was going to say something, the line that apparently wasn't going to be said because it would have sounded terribly wrong involved some sort of spin on choices in Left for Dead. I've yet to play it, so I've yet to rationalise the occasional bouts of 'That's not fair! Get BACK HERE!' from the third room. I suppose for those of you who don't game at all, all of that will sound ridiculously geeky.

As a household we play Guild Wars; I say 'as a household' because occasionally we structure our sleeping patterns to match whatever special event we'd like to take part in. As a result our dinner table discussions range from 'Gee, I wish I could get back into the drive to farm for ectos' to 'So, when are we going to do Urgoz Warren again? Next Thursday?'. If a total stranger were to walk into the house - or if someone was listening in - they would either have to become so totally thrilled that there would happiness all round, or they'd be so completely perplexed that they'd wander off wondering if they were still on the same planet. I'd sympathise, but it's far too much fun.

The thing with gaming is that you either like it and know about it and respect it's oddities, or you avoid it because it's alienating. Fair enough. I could probably write an essay about how many different layers there are in the topic of 'gaming', but since I'm trying to avoid writing essays I'll avoid doing that.

An average conversation might run something like:
"Yeah, I'm broke, I'm down to like 2plat."
"Heh, I've got like 45 but I'm planning on getting the elite Kurzick armor for my monk so I'm technically broke, cos I need like - "
"- well, you'll need like 75plat."
"I don't know what armor to get my warrior."
"It's hard to choose those, the only choices you've got are stupid or ridiculous."
"Why can't elite templar look like the regular templar? It's prettier!"

Oh yes, I love our geeky gamey discussions. It'll be interesting what we'll talk about when my parents visit this week. o.O

Clear Skies~V

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Today's rant comes to you thanks to this typically stellar piece of 'reporting' (courtesy of The Age). What a relief to hear! As long as a woman can be designated at least 'moderately' attractive, men will still be willing to have sex with her (oh happy day!) as long as she's easy. All questions of the actual point of the 'study' aside, what the hell? I mean, I know the 'Life & Style' pages are typically full of exactly this kind of shit, and the standards for newspaper's web content aren't exactly high, but whose approval did this piece of tripe need to make it past its embryonic stages?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Also, I feel the need to share this.

Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed

Things I saw during my (brief) sojourn outside the house today:

A lot of very blue roofs (rooves? that just can't be right, but I feel like a three year old with a lisp saying 'roofs') in the suburb next to ours; bright yellow tights; a surprising number of people wearing several discordant shades of green all at once. An impressively scruffy guy stowing his dog-end behind his ear, a la Dave Lister (which made me look for hologram stamps on people's foreheads. *Note to self* people outside the house are real...), and a Zoe Wanamaker lookalike in a very shiny blue coat.

It disturbs me that I wrote these down on the back of a receipt (Oxfam shop, earrings, $22) both because I left the house with no paper, and because I wrote them down. The nosy guy on the bus ride home seemed to think that something as crazy as writing things down gave him carte blanche to inform me that I needed to be Saved, but the no paper thing worries me more.

Oh, and yesterday there was a bright green glittery hat with the tinned tomatoes in the supermarket.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Doom, hell. [see: blame]

So. That was L. She's the resident cynic and cook. I'm V, in case it escaped notice, I'm the resident insane person who occasionally remembers to remember to create some sort of pattern to do the laundry. One day it may just happen, for now we will sit and wait, probably not so much with eager patience. I'd say that we both have a good dose of 'extra silly', but I don't think I can actually explain what I mean so I guess you'll just have to stick around and find out just how silly we can be.

Before this goes anywhere...I want it clearly stated that I wanted to have something to do with the word 'perdition', not necessarily the state, but most certainly the word. I like words, well, I like most words, but I certainly love the word 'perdition'. It kinda just rolls off your tongue all accidental-like.

Anyways...*guides self away from current obssession with peridition* Within these (soon to be) episodes of extremities (of all manners), you will probably be finding plenty of puns, plenty of rants, plenty of bits 'n pieces that occur to us during the day, or the week, or the hour. You'll probably find some pictures of some really random things, it's okay, if they're pictures they're real and no matter how crazy things look, we're in the boat with you. ^^

...on second thought that might not reassure some of you.

Welcome aboard?

Clear Skies~V

Dead can be social too.

Wow. Empty blog page is empty. Must resist the temptation to 'zomg first post lol'. Crap.

Anyway. This is my first ever blog post; I'd apologise in advance, except that my apologies tend to run along the lines of "Yeah, well... I might be sorry, but it was still your fault." I have to say I'm enjoying it so far, except for those mind-numbingly empty spaces in between sentences. Those blow. In the interests of... something, I'll keep it simple. There'll be posting here frequently, from both of us; said posts will regularly contain something nice to look at (may range from random pretty to Jensen Ackles), random ranting (likely to reference Dewey Decimal Classification) and anything which caught my interest at the time.

That will be all (call again soon!)