Monday by the Magazine Rack

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Hello,

Good afternoon and welcome to Monday by the Magazine Rack. Our beginning of the week open chat thread.

Today I brought my own lunch to work. What’s so odd about that I hear you say.

Well it’s probably the first time I’ve made my own lunch and taken it to work in about ten years.

Usually I would just trot ‘round the corner and get my usual pide roll and occasionally, if I’m feeling indulgent, add one of those decadent large size chocolate covered Florentines to the order.

So why is today any different? To be honest I don’t really know. However I suspect that it’s something to do with an increasingly pervasive sentiment that in today’s current environment – “it’s good to be frugal”.

And it’s not just me. Matt Preston, the “Oscar Wilde” type food critic that appears in the Masterchef show I discussed last week, wrote in the Weekend Age, that it’s good to eat-in rather than go out to eat. Which is out of character for one who is usually recommending nice places for people to spend their money eating out.

It seems that while shoppers are still prepared to spend money, they demand more value and more heavily discounted prices than a couple of years ago.

Last week, by way of another example, we purchased a new fridge for the home from a leading national retailer. No not Hardly Normal, I wouldn’t shop there if you held a gun to my head. Well maybe I would, if you did, and it came to that, but you get the idea.

Anyway, after comparing a few prices, the retailer we finally bought it from sold it to us at the cost price – just to get the cashflow. Some $700 below the RRP.

Is it just me, or are any other Blogocrats starting to watch the dollars and cents more closely, than say, in comparison to this time last year?

It’s weird, because our household financial circumstances haven’t changed. If anything we’re better off because we can afford to pay more into our mortgage with the lower interest rates.

It seems that retailers are having sales for the sake of having a sale as they compete for the consumer dollar, and consumers, accordingly, realise that they are in a superior bargaining power.

Take a look at the sale of new vehicles for example. They’ve taken a severe nose dive. Even in the small town of Hobart about 4 or 5 dealers have shut up shop..

It’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out..

Anyway over to youse..

Monday by the Magazine Rack.

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“Thank you for giving us another chance to cook for you.”

These were the last words uttered by one of the beleaguered “bottom three” contestants on a show I was watching last night on Channel Ten called “Master Chef”.

In a rare trangression over to the realms of commercial TV, I found myself captivated by this show that features approximately a dozen or so wannabe chefs cooking up spur-of-the-moment meals for a panel of three judges.

One of the judges looks like a David Jones fashion model, the second a young lebanese guy that you’d accuse of stealing your hub caps, and a rather large wind-swept Oscar Wilde looking figure camply clad in a green velvet smoking jacket and a cravat.

Borrowing heavily from “The Iron Chef,” the contestants have just a few minutes to whip up some culinary delights to be served before the sanctimonious panel of judges – who in turn, reluctantly nibble on tiny morsels of each dish before offering up their demoralising judgement.

The chasm between judges and contestants couldn’t be greater. It’s like Neil Perry meets Parklea Markets.

However, the whimpering nervousness of the contestants and the dismissive demeanour of the callous judges makes for compelling viewing. In a few moments I was hooked.

One poor girl offered up something that resembled a bowl of orange ice-cream with a mint leaf on top. “Very clever” remarked Oscar Wilde.

“Making a savoury dish (it was rabbit) look like a dessert is quite popular in Europe at the moment, as long as one can carry it off.”

“Hmmm.. we didn’t quite get there, did we..” remarked Oscar as he spat out the few remaining morsels from between his teeth.

The car thief was less diplomatic.

“That was HORRIBLE” he said.

And so, the creator of the rabbit ice-cream, and another two contestants who served up some other muck, will have the opportunity to battle it out again tomorrow night.

Why these people put themselves through this misery and public humiliation is beyond me.

A number of them were clearly distressed, some collapsing with exhaustion – their eyes red with tears, others just wailing hysterically…

It was hilarious!

At the beginning of the show, I couldn’t care less whether anyone lived or died, but by the end, I had forged alliances with who “I” wanted to see win. Not the cocky youngster, not the blond thing who didn’t have a clue, but “yes” to the middle-aged man who’s wife and kids had left him. He deserved to win with his hearty rabbit stew. “Yes too,” to the scruffy guy who made some mushy looking egg dish with some pieces of toast on the side. What’s more the car thief agreed.

The cat-walk model didn’t hold back either…

“That’s the worst thing I’ve ever eaten in my life” she said to the good-looking, but subsequently devastated twenty year-old student.

“Yes, serves you right for being so cocky!” I thought, relishing the moment that he hadn’t quite received the praise he expected for his bit of over-cooked rabbit served on a bit of fried onion. (Too bad that he was practically reduced to tears in the process).

So it seems reality TV has reached new depths.

A group of people who can’t cook, serving up food to people who can’t taste, while everyone involved despises the entire humiliating experience.

But I guess I might just have to watch it again tomorrow night…

Monday by the Magazine Rack

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Hello,

Good afternoon and welcome to our beginning of the working week idle chit chat thread.

We’re all doomed.

I’ve summarily reached this conclusion after following recent news stories. North Korea is hellbent on flexing its nuclear muscle, Kevin Rudd is about to spend billions on defence (which makes me wonder whether he knows something we don’t – like an imminent world war), we’re all going broke in record numbers due to the financial crisis, collapse of the economy and escalating unemployment.

Furthermore, global poverty is expected to increase dramatically as a direct consequence of the GFC. Desperate people resort to desperate measures. Perhaps we may see increasing violence locally and globally. Today I was sickened to read about a father who attempted to rape and murder his own 2 year old son. The boy is in critical condition in hospital. What sort of society have we created that drives people to commit such horrific acts?

Meanwhile, as the world teeters on the blink of oblivion, scientists have come up with a very useful invention – a robot penguin. Just what we need right now. Makes me wonder how we ever got by without them really.

Oh, and I would like to personally thank Kevin for sending me my $900. Although it will be going straight into the mortgage along with 70% of all the other recipients of the dosh.

Monday by the Magazine Rack.

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I wasn’t sure about how I was going to kick off the Magazine rack today.

However, knowing that I was due to have some blood tests this morning, I thought I’d wait for that appointment to take place, with the idea being that the experience might give me something to write about.

Well it didn’t disappoint.

I’ve just returned from Hobart Pathology after being subjected to no less than three attempts by two nurses to draw blood from my delicate being.

The first nurse, was a pretty young blond woman by the name of Tory, who upon failing to extract any blood on her first attempt, albeit driving the needle right into the vein rather painfully, subsequently apologised and said she’d have to have another go.

So after patching up the first attempt, and surveying the landscape for another vein, Tory sweetly aplogised for the inconvenience and accurately alluded to the fact that “sometimes it can be a little painful”.

“You don’t say…” I said silently to no one in particular.

The second attempt was just as painful and no more successful than the first, and at this point she suggested that she might get another nurse to have a look.

“No problem” I said, quite relieved at the prospect of perhaps someone a little more experienced in the art of drawing blood having a go.

In a flash Michelle appeared at the door, a six foot brunette who looked like she meant business. And no sooner had I removed the cufflink from my right arm, than Michelle was sizing me up for the right place to plunge the needle for the third attempt. A few clenched fists and we were off.

Michelle carefully but confidentally plunged the needle in, while uttering a few comforting words, “you might feel a little sting” and “good boy, just take a few deep breaths…” et cetera…

After it was all over, Michelle explained that she had had no luck either, waving a near empty glass capsule in front of me with what contained something that resembled a small splash of red ink.

“It seems you’re a bit dry” said Michelle dissaprovingly, as if I was late for school.

Tory nodded in agreement “It’s not uncommon” she said.

“A bit dry?” I asked trying to contain my increasing apprehension and disappointment while thinking I’ve just been painfully stabbed in the arms three times for nothing! What Next?!

“Is that a symptom of something?” I asked apprehensively, displaying my complete ignorance of even basic medicine while wondering whether it meant that I was gradually joining the club of Philip Ruddock, the walking dead.

“Come back tomorrow, and have another go” they suggested firmly, adding almost gleefully “we won’t be here.”

I’m not sure whether that last bit was meant to reassure them or me.

“And if that doesn’t work, they’ll probably send you to George Street.”

“George Street?” I asked. “What goes on at George Street?” wondering whether it might be some underground black market organ trafficking thing where you wake up in a bath tub of ice with a small scar where your liver used to be.

“Oh, they’re just more experience in drawing blood down there” said Michelle gleefully. “They’ve been doing it for over twenty years” she added reassuringly, which really only made me wonder why I had ended up here in the first place.

“Oh yes,” added Tory enthusiastically.

“They can get blood out of a stone down there”.

“Terrific” I thought. And so I collected my things and left. With three plasters on my arms, and with what little blood I have left remaining intact.

Maybe I should join that religion that refuses to give or receive blood. The Morons or whoever they are…

Monday by the Magazine Stall

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Hello,

And welcome to the magazine stall. The shop is open, even though it’s a public holiday. Does this mean I get time and a half?

So how’s your Easter going?

To open up the discussion, I’ve just read a couple of interesting articles. The first is one which may be of interest to the consumer activists amongst us, and details how the new head of consumer affairs watchdog, Nick Stace, plans to rattle a few cages here in Australia. Direct from the UK, where he previously worked as spin doctor for Gordon Brown, Nick Stace is here to give us a considered dose of reality…

Australia needs to get out of its comfort zone,” he says. “You pay more for your groceries than [people] in many other countries … The supermarkets here do not want to be transparent. That is incredibly irresponsible and incredibly worrying, yet there doesn’t appear to be the desire to have a competitive market.”

Nick Stace has been in the country little more than a month. But the differences he’s already observed between the British and Australian consumer psyche are enormous.

British consumers feel a fatalistic resignation about being ripped off and must be prodded to the point of anger before taking action, but Australians display a curious, complacent optimism.

The second topic, which is completely unrelated, but interesting nevertheless, is “How would you feel if your child was gay?” The author of this article confesses that even though hypothetically she would like to think of herself as being welcoming and accepting, she cannot escape the conclusion that she would be sad and dissapointed.

What would be far greater an injustice – a child who could not realise who he or she truly was and live a lie for fear of what the reality may mean for everyone around them?

A choreographed existence that pleased society but created an unbearable inner turmoil is something none of us would wish on our own flesh and blood.

Monday by the Magazine Stall…

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Hello,

How’s it going? And welcome to our beginning of the week idle chit-chat thread.

You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve recovered from my Friday spat.

Blame. What is the point of appropriating blame?

Let me explain. My work involves a lot of writing. You know, like marketing material, brochures, whitepapers and stuff like that. Recently I’ve been working on one such document, and that document was circulated to a broader team to review, provide feedback and any other comments, suggested changes etc.

The document was subsequently published for employees to give to clients. All well and good you might say.

Well, last week I received an email from one of the team members declaring how she was “horrified” (her words) to find a number of spelling errors in the document. So naturally I have since corrected these errors and issued a new updated version of the document.

However this morning I receive an email from her boss (quite a senior manager), also expressing his outrage that this has occurred and insisting that I give him an assurance that “it won’t happen again”.

Now, this is the thing that really irks me. Firstly, there were about 4 spelling errors in a 30 page document. Secondly, there have been several drafts of this document. All of the drafts were circulated to the team including the senior manager for review and comment and no one picked up the errors in any earlier version, so they went un-noticed by EVERYONE, but somehow I am to blame?

Anyway, this demand that somehow I should be in a position to give a guarantee that this will never happen again, I think, is a bit over the top.

For one thing. How can anyone give a guarantee that they’ll never make a spelling mistake ever again? It’s just absurd.

Another thing. Why on Earth does someone get “horrified” to find some spelling errors? I find spelling errors in brochures, magazines, newspapers and advertising all the time. You know like “manger” instead on “manager”. That’s a common one. “Easily done” I think to myself, especially seeing as that’s the sort of thing that spell checker won’t pick up. But “horrified?” Isn’t that just a little bit over the top..?

I’d be “horrified” if I woke up one morning and found a six-foot ring worm hangin’ out my ass, but by comparison the odd gramatical error doesn’t phase me.

And then there’s the whole blame thing. Someone has to be accountable, so they figure that’s me.

I mean, let’s put this in perspective.

Which is something that I find that people who are inclined to get easily horrified might find problematic.

It’s a f*cking document, for Christ’s sake! It can be fixed. It has been fixed. Get over it!! Did anyone die from the spelling mistakes??

Which incidentally is my time old way of keeping things in perspective.

So the next time somebody tries to have a go at you for something, just think to yourself (or better still, say it out loud) “has anyone died as a result of this? If the answer is no, then I think the matter in hand is probably relatively trivial.

Anyway, so getting back to the email I received from the senior manager demanding his assurance that it “won’t happen again.”

In response, I reminded him that we all had the opportunity to review and comment about the document, and no one picked up the errors. Also, the purpose of circluating the drafts for review is to pick up these types of errors and that perhaps WE ALL should review them more carefully in the future.

So that is my beginning of the week work-related drama. Personally I couldn’t give a rat’s… But I just find this whole “blame thing” so unneccessary. I mean shit happens doesn’t it?

I feel better now. Thank you, and thank you for listening. Now what was I doing again….