Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Fun or Common Sense?

So it looks as if I'll soon be escaping from my year long financial drought.  I finally secured a new job after losing my old one last May, and I'm happy to say that even in this terrible economic climate I've managed to wangle a bit of a salary bump.  After losing my job last year I never thought I'd find anything in the same ballpark, salarywise, so it's a pleasant surprise to learn I'll be earning even more.

To celebrate my new found wealth I plan to buy something I really don't need.  A year of living on my savings and buying only absolute essentials has left me with a desire to blow a little cash on frivolity, but I can't quite figure out what to buy.  My first thought was to pick up one of these inflatable boats.  I've always wanted to mess around on the water, and at $599 for a 2.7 metre inflatable it's finally within reach.

On the other hand, I could also use one of the many rowing machines Australia has to offer.  My last year has been pretty damned sedentary, and I'd love to have a little workout equipment at home to try to regain my old shape.  Now I can see a future ahead of me I'm realising that I want to live through it without a beer gut, so I need to get off my ass right away.

So, the random fun of an inflatable boat or the sensible pragmatism of a rowing machine?   Decisions, decisions...

Buying Craft Supplies Online

While I know this sounds ridiculously small minded and overly self conscious of me, I've always had trouble buying anything that could be described as 'craft supplies' in person.  Yes, it's silly, but I always feel just a little bit too effeminate buying a reel of ribbon or needle and thread. 

I'm not entirely sure I'm the only one with the problem, either.  A couple of years ago I was hunting for a very specific button to replace one that had popped off my favourite pair of pants.  I'd bought the pants from a tailor in the south of England, and the cost of sending them back for repair dwarfed the real cost of a button, some thread and a few minutes of my time, so I went shopping myself.  After visiting three haberdashers around North Yorkshire I'd been engaged in conversation twice by the staff, who remarked that it was unusual to have a male customer.  One of them asked if I was buying something for my mother. 

In any case, these days I prefer to by anything I need from an online craft store.  Rather than deal with the embarrassment of explaining that, no, as a male I'm capable of reattaching a button to an item of clothing I prefer to buy craft supplies online.  Would I prefer to be able to shop in a brick and mortar store without feeling as if I don't belong?  Sure. Until the day comes when I'm not treated as an oddity, though, I'll continue to get my craft supplies online

Friday, 13 April 2012

Ads Around the World

It's strange how you can often identify a country by the quality of its printed advertisements.  In the last few years I've been living all over Asia, and at this point I could be dropped in any city across the region and guess where I am after looking at just a couple of ads (without looking at the language, that is).

Mongolia is crazy basic, with un-UV-protected print ads fading quickly in the sun.  The distinctive Cyrillic characters just add to the worn out cool factor. Thailand hasn't seemed to have grasped the fact that photos need to be suitable for large format printing to look good on a blown up scale.  Their ads are pixellated as hell, and they love to use fonts that make the Thai alphabet even more unreadable.

Japanese and Korean ads, of course, look just like any western country, though they love to use digital signage for everything since they like to think they're living in a Bladerunner future.

In the US it's a little different.  Duratrans as far as the eye can see.  I know a company that does Duratrans printing in San Francisco, and they must be coining it.  If you don't know, Duratrans is the generic term for backlit images, and the Americans just eat it up.  With good reason, too, as it looks damned cool.  If you're looking for Duratans printing Los Angeles you should check out the link for a few examples of what I'm talking about.

So, what do the ads look like in your country?  Can you beat Duratrans, or are your national ads closer to the faded Soviet style of the Mongolians?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Finally Unlocked My iPhone

I've been living in Bangkok for three months now, and today I finally got around to hunting down an unlock iPhone service so I can use my phone for something other than surfing the net on my apartment wifi.

It's weird how accustomed I've become to not using my cell phone.  For the last few months I've rediscovered pay phones, knocking on doors or just not staying in touch with people.  Where everyone I've ever met used to be a call away I've now found myself going half way across the city to visit someone by surprise, often finding they're not home and having to come all the way back.

And it sucked.  Don't let anyone tell you that we should go back to the good old days without cell phones.  The ability to get in touch with your friends and family is fantastic, and there's no way I'm ever going back to my pre-phone days.

What's even better is the fact that I can now download all the apps I've been craving for months.  For some reason iTunes won't let me download apps, but now my iPhone is unlocked I can get them from elsewhere.  Score!

What's more, while I was getting my iPhone fixed the guy told me he offered a jailbreak iPod service, so I threw that in too.  More apps wallpapers and music for me!  I've not been happier in a loooooong time.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Gemini Personality

A few friends and I had an interesting chat about astrology last night over a sneaky bottle of wine in a back alley.

Wait, that sounds weird.  Lemme back up a little.

Right now I'm living with my girlfriend in Bangkok, Thailand, where we're waiting out the long, cold Mongolian winter before returning to work in June.  This week is Thai new year, and through the whole week alcohol is prohibited in a pointless effort to prevent the hundreds of drink driving deaths that usually come with the festive season.  I say pointless because those who want to drink won't allow a half hearted ban stop them, and there are more than a few idiots in this country who will happily drive drunk.

Anyway, a couple of friends from the northern city of Chiang Mai were visiting yesterday, so we found a bar willing to serve us provided we hid from the cops in the alley beside the bar.  OK, that still sounds a little weird, but anyway...

Our little group was fairly diverse.  We had one deeply Christian American friend, one Thai Buddhist, one Mongolian Shamanist and me, the token staunch non-religious member of the group.  By the time the first bottle was almost empty we'd reached the subject of astrology, and it turned out that not only were all four of us Gemini, but three of us were firm believers in our horoscopes, with me being the only hold out.

Now I always make it quite clear that I don't personally believe in astrology for a second.  I don't believe in anything, really, apart from the fact that there are good people, bad people and folks somewhere in the middle, and all of them can have good and bad days.  Saying that, I did find it a little funny when we worked out that all four of us show traits of Gemini personalities.

We're all social butterflies, and from the day we arrived in this country we all built a huge network of friends from south to north.  We're all a little capricious and restless - hell, only one of us lives in the country of our birth, and all four of use have lived in at least three countries in the last five years.  Finally, all four of us are writers.  My girlfriend and my Thai friend are both journalists with national newspapers, my American friend writes enormously popular books about massage, and me?  Well, I make a pretty good sideline in erotic novels.

It's a little odd that all four of us share these personality traits that seem to fit so closely with the model of an average Gemini.  Am I beginning to believe?  No.  It's a little funny, though...

Monday, 6 February 2012

Hello Kitty Car Seat Covers

We bought ourselves a car!  Good lord, that feels great!

We've been without transport for a couple of years now, and while we still really don't have the money to afford to run a vehicle I finally caved to my girlfriends demands and bought a used car at auction (an old Toyota).

In return for the new car my better half made a few concessions with her shopping habits, but since I was asking her to give up her regular dose of new shoes she had one or two demands of her own.  The biggest was that she could get Hello Kitty car seat covers for the front seats.


I really don't like the sort of pink, nasty car seat covers for girls that I often see around.  They always seem a little cheap and tacky.  What's more, I hate Hello Kitty with the passion of a burning star after living in Japan a few years ago.  I can't stand the sight of that silly little cat face, and I really don't understand the appeal of Hello Kitty in any way.

Oh well.  I don't care, as long as I get to drive to work instead of taking the bus. She can throw actual cats at me for all I care.