Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Death to Stools

Yes, you know what I'm talking about. The Abominations that are Backless Chairs.

They lurk, waiting for all other "proper" seats to be taken, then somehow appear, making themselves appealing to the weary. I don't know about you, but about one minute on one is enough for me before I'm squirming and complaining.

Oh I know, I know, I should sit up straight and use my core strength or whatever but unfortunately I'm a sloucher who enjoys relaxing when I am seated.

Our lunchroom has some, a tribe of red plastic monsters that are forever being dragged out of the way and are generally the last seats to be taken. But it is at cafes that they really get my goat.

Nothing ruins my occasional "breakfast I didn't make myself and don't have to clean up afterwards" treat like having to eat it while sitting on a stool. The ones at my local place are all rustic wood and look quite inviting, but a few minutes bent over the Saturday paper sipping my cup of Earl Grey are all it takes for regret to set in. Especially as the foot rests are the wrong height. Knees higher than hips is a bad bad thing.

Just wrong

The funny thing is, at a hipster coffee place recently, a stool was the best of a bunch of poor choices. A mix of mid-century modern furniture, tip-shop chic and repurposed industrial design meant that I chose a tall stool at a long table made out of a door rather than sit in a low chair at a tiny spool. Yes, an actual electrical cable spool.

Do you hate stools as much as I do? Or am I simply prejudiced? And what the hell is up with spools?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Great Southern Land

In honour of Australia Day I thought I'd share with you all some of my favourite photos showing this beautiful land I love.

Lake Sampsonvale, Qld

Sunset over Lake Sampsonvale, Qld
Caloundra, Qld

Glengallan Homestead, Southern Downs, Qld
Sunset over canefields, Far North Qld

Mount Glorious, Qld

Lake Perseverance, Qld

Townsville, Qld
Cattle, Darling Downs, Qld

Gum trees on the hill, Darling Downs, Qld

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How to Train Your Social Media

This is not a post that is going to recommend your trim the people you follow or drop one of your favourite platforms.

I'm going to tell you a secret: you can now train your social media to show you more of the kind of things you want to see.

How? Well the start of understanding comes from the knowledge that there is so much content on sites like Facebook that even if you scrolled for a day, you could not view every single thing posted by people you follow (plus sponsored content). Same goes for Pinterest.

What both these social media platforms have found is that due to sheer volume and because you can't seem to curate your own content, they have had to figure out a way to do it for you. The answer was algorithms.

I don't know the nuts and bolts of it all, and can only speak from my own experience here, but I do believe that we have reached the point where you now have to "train" your social media.

The mechanics of it are simple - the "like", "comment", "share" and "repin" buttons are your friends. Everytime you indicate to Facebook that you LIKE something - a joke meme, a news story, a friend's photo - it remembers. It then tried to show more of that kind of stuff in your feed. Pinterest now operates on the same principal, showing you items that are similar to things you've recently liked or repinned.

I noticed this on Pinterest when I opened it one day and saw page after page of pretty landscape photography. I realised this had mainly been what I had been pinning lately. I figured out then that I had to tell the algorithm I wanted to see other things! Unfortunately those things weren't in my feed (because Pinterest didn't know I would like to view them) so I had to do manual searches and then like and repin different content. I now try not to pin too much of the same thing in the same session, thus ensuring my home feed stays interesting!

What is scary about Facebook is that it also pays attention to what you Google and shop for. I recently googled and looked at some foot spas for my mum's Xmas present. When I opened a new tab for Facebook, it showed me ads for foot spas for days. I looked up a cookbook on Booktopia, and sure enough when I flicked back to Facebook, there was an ad for it in my feed. Ta da!

YouTube remembers what you've watched and liked too; on the app it offers an a main feed called "What to Watch" compiled using this info. You can ignore this by going to your subscriptions, but the What to Watch suggestions shouldn't be ignored - most of the time there will be videos in there you will enjoy. 

So what's the moral of the story? Be aware that everything you search for, look at, buy online, like, share, comment on and favourite is being logged. It can be a good thing - but it can also make you the target of advertisers and marketing. Is anonymous browsing the answer, I wonder?

And how long until Instagram gets on board?

Have you had to train your social media lately? Got any good or unsettling stories?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Careful what you wish for

On the weekend I visited a friend at her new house. She and her partner had just finished building. Walking around the freshly-completed property, I enthusiastically admired their efforts. 

You see, I've always dreamed of a "blank slate" house - one where I (or we, depending on the level of give-a-damn from my husband) could choose everything from the interior paint to the bathroom fittings and kitchen splashback. 

But when I asked my friend about how great it was, she said actually filling in the blanks of a new house wasn't much fun at all. After the expense of building, she didn't have much left to splurge so most of the furniture and linens were Budget with a capital B. She explained that after spending hundreds of thousands on the actual construction, she couldn't let herself to go on a big shopping spree at Freedom or Pillow Talk to get wall mirrors and quilt covers like they do on House Rules. 

The other thing was that although the house had things in it - tables, chairs, sideboards - there were none of the things that make a house a home. No knick-knacks, or piles of mail or framed photos. They haven't been there long enough to accumulate the detritus of daily life. They didn't even have a bookcase. 

So I learnt that perhaps a empty house probably isn't that fun to decorate unless you have an unlimited budget and lots of time on your hands. And so I went home with a new appreciation for my vintage crockery collection, the magazines strewn across the place and the fridge covered in magnets holding scraps of paper that were once important. 

Have you ever started from scratch with a house? Was it fun or stressful?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why I'm Still Shopping at Aldi

I don't think the people of my suburb "get" Aldi. A new one has opened up down the road (can I get a HALLELUJAH?) and I've been there twice now, switching from one a 20min drive away.

The locals, used as they are to Woolworths, push their overflowing trolleys past, giving it the side-eye. Of those that dare venture within, some seemingly dismiss the Aldi trolleys and bring one in from Woollies next door. Most don't have shopping bags, and I see them putting their purchases, one by one, loose into the boot of their car. The inventive ones have flogged an empty box or two, but this is a hard task given that this Aldi seems to be permanently fully stocked; shelves groaning. I think the staff are bored.

Our recent improvement in the fiscal situation meant that for a while, I was shopping at Coles. Not for any particular kind of loyalty, but because I like the Flybuys points. When we were struggling, I always longed to shop there again. I imagined myself strolling the aisles, leisurely browsing the 7 different brands of tomato sauce on offer.

But like most things in life, reality was quite different to my daydreams. I went back there a few times, bought my usual things - nothing too lavish like steak or anything - and walked out shaking my head over the docket. I could not believe what things cost there. Years of shopping at Aldi have spoilt me for the cost of things ranging from muesli bars to cheese.

And so I am back at Aldi, and quite happy about it. I am literally saving $30-40 a week shopping there, and honestly, there's next to no difference (except the fruit and veg isn't great). There's a few minor things I cannot get there, but I can duck into a Coles/Woolies/IGA any time once a month to get these.

I'm sure my fellow neighbours will warm up to it soon. They just have to remember to bring a trolley token, their bags and learn the Aldi checkout race-against-the-teller technique. Easy peasy.

Where do you grocery shop, and why?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Peace and Quiet

Yesterday was a day I used to get a lot done around the house. First day of the New Year, it seemed a good idea to start off on a clean foot.

It was perishingly hot so I put the air con away and used a task/reward system to tick things off my list.

Come lunchtime, I felt the need to get out in the fresh air, even if it was unpleasantly humid.

So I went and got a chicken roll and went down to the Lake. I swear it was 5 degrees cooler down there.

And it was quiet. There were other people about, families playing by the water, but they were far enough away to be on the limit of my hearing.

I sat under a gum, brushed away some ants and just enjoyed the noise of nature. The warm wind in the leaves, the cicadas singing away. I don't meditate or often stop what I'm doing to contemplate life, so this was a nice moment to just chillax and soak up some nature. It really is a great way to recharge.

I want to go down there more, it's not very far from my house and just beautiful year-round.

I even made an avian friend.

What do you do to relax?


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