Saturday, September 30, 2006

Aaargh! Don't do that!

Don't, as we race past each other in the hallway, say "Hi! How are you?". I won't have time to answer, much less ask you politely back how you are, but I WILL FEEL BAD ABOUT IT.

In these situations, just a quick "Hi" or even a nod is better for my mental health, and better all round.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Now I want my share

Last weekend I had a fantastic lunch at Grazing at Gundaroo. The surroundings, the service, and the food were all lovely. They even have a very impressive vegetarian menu. Highly recommended. The only small blight on our experience was 'the wine line'.

Yes, they use wine glasses with a line printed on them to indicate the proper serving size. It wouldn't bother me to see this in a pub or not-too-fancy bar. I'm not sure I have actually come across this before, not being much of a wine drinker, but one of my companions had. However this was really quite a nice restaurant, and we thought the line on the wine glass failed to match the tone of the place.

It was suggested that the line is not merely a cheap gesture on the proprieter's part (avoiding being too generous with the wine) but also aids the winer-diner in determining with some certainty how many standard drinks they have consumed.

In a much odder turn of events, the previous night I ate with a friend at a Turkish restaurant. Neither of us finished our meal so we asked if we could take them away. Given that this is a place that serves pide (Turkish pizza) and does a lot of takeaway, this was a pretty usual request. It seemed strange that the waiter did not immediately take the plates away in order to package the food. Instead he went over to the counter, grabbed two empty boxes, and dumped them on our table. "There you go!" And off he went.

We just stared at each other for a while before awkardly putting the food into the boxes ourselves.

On relating this story later, some people mentioned that many places now make you sign for your doggie bag, to remove any possible liability for later food poisoning if you don't cool and heat the leftovers appropriately. Some won't allow doggie bags at all. I can't quite see how making us put the food in the boxes would help get them off the hook, but maybe it was some bizarre interpretation.....

Monday, September 18, 2006

And are you just waving or drowning? It's so hard to tell when you're so far away

When I pick up the home phone, and after my greeting there is a small delay, I always hang up. There was one Wednesday when a computer phoned my house about every two hours. I stopped picking up the phone at all, and unfortunately this meant that I ignored calls from a friend and my sister. But they have my mobile number.

Last Wednesday I messed up. I hit the button to cut the call as I heard the delay and realised it was a telemarketer, but I obviously didn't hold the button down long enough, so the call wasn't cancelled. I ended up talking to an AAPT representative. Once I had ascertained what it was about, having been asked who my home phone provider is, I said "Sorry I am not interested in comparing plans or making a change". I think this clearly indicates that I'm not going to consider the offer and I don't want to listen to the spiel. I'm not accusing the INDIVIDUAL of anything, I'm simply indicating that I do not want to continue the call. Some of my friends say that after they say no thanks, they also hang up straight away. I don't think that should be necessary.

There is a new breed of telemarketers who are very defensive. I suspect that they are not located in Australia. Usually, if I said what I said to an Australian caller, they might reveal a bit of annoyance but they would still at least give lip service to politeness. I expect them to end the call quickly after I indicate that I'm not going to take an interest. They might offer to call at a different time or give me a number to call if I change my mind later. Sometimes I ask if I can check out their offer on a website instead - I hate trying to take in that sort of information aurally.

But these telemarketers are rude and pushy. I've had repeated run-ins with a very rude, bossy and openly irritated Optus lady, and today's AAPT man was just the same. His opening had been to ask me who my current phone provider is. His response to my statement that I was not interesting in comparing plans was a very defensive, almost hectoring "Ma'am, there is no obligation, will you please tell me who your current phone account is with so I can make a comparison." His tone was as if I had been very rude and offensive and he was just trying to do his job. He repeated this, talking over me as I reiterated that I did not want to consider any offers and please DO NOT CALL THIS NUMBER AGAIN (yeah I might have sounded slightly miffed by this point).

The frustration and barely concealed anger both of these individuals showed would be more expected if, say, I had called them for some kind of assistance, and then I had been uncooperative. But they are calling me, unsolicited! If they can't even be vaguely polite in their interactions, who is going to be willing to sit through the spiel?

The first few times this happened I was just amazed at the rudeness and continued the interaction much longer than I really needed to, just because I was so amazed that my message was so rudely ignored! Now I've wised up. It still surprises me though. Either they have very little training and quality control, or they are under pressure to make quotas, perhaps to even just keep people on the phone for a certain amount of time. Or both.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Nothing more, nothing less

I handed him the block of Snack chocolate and went off to bed. Well aware that he might put away the whole package in one sitting, I asked if he could just leave me at least a square of orange - the best flavour. The next day I found the wrapper folded over a neat collection of ALL the orange squares.

It's now how we eat Snack in this house.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Some boys think they're sweet enough to eat

As I walked with the dogs this morning I passed a house which is for sale. The huge sign out the front has been there for over a month and I've passed it many times. It has the date of the auction (next weekend) and also features colour photos of the interior.

The main photo shows the spacious living room: a modern closed fireplace on a tiled surround, a pair of tasteful blue two seater lounges, and an expanse of polished blonde wood floor stretching endlessly back towards the camera. It's obviously an old house done up quite nicely. And you know, in a room like that you could do a neat job of swinging a couple of cats tied together, without knocking over any knick-nacks.

But something was different on this nice sunny morning. The curtains were wide open and the real thing was clearly visible. My view of the room was from an angle only a little bit different from the one the photo had been shot from. The reality was so much smaller than what was implied by the photographer's skill with a wide angle lens. A maximum of two paces from the window would put me right inside that little fireplace.

It must be the same kind of lens they used to shoot the indoor swimming pool at a Sydney hotel I once booked online.

The real thing turned out to be about one third the size it appears in this picture. I think those plants must have been brought in just for the photo, and it all looked much more ordinary. I found the whole thing very amusing.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

There's a better home a-waiting

So, on Wednesday there was a new project idea eating my brain, and I was weak. I started knitting a large piece which is to become a cylindrical felted bag. No I don't have any pressing need for another bag. Also I have many other projects started or on the list. But sometimes I just have to admit that it would be impractical to do anything other than go with the most brain-consuming item first. And just another X-Files episode or two.

It didn't take long before I ran out of the 2-3 colours of wool that I wanted to use. No problem, I was going into town anyway to pick up my sister, I'll just run into my local major craft and sewing chain store and stock up on those.

But. None of those colours were on the shelf. And none of the other colours there would possibly work.


Oh, and the crappy circular knitting needle that I bought? It broke straight away. I went and got my money back today.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Just look outside it's a lovely day

It's warming up. Today was the First Footloose Day of Spring. Yes, I went out without socks on.

Yesterday I took a jacket to work but it was just a formality. I thought it might cool down by the time I was going home, but I just ended up carrying it. At lunch time I had to announce to my fellow cubicle dwellers, "I'm going out and I'm not putting on a coat". A parasol against the strong sun was suggested instead.

This year I am unambiguously happy about the start of Spring, since the ski season was not worth lamenting. There is something automatic about the thrill of warmer weather coming. It seems unrelated to any logical arguments about being more comfortable, letting fresh air into living spaces, wearing less layers of clothing. It's just a mood that hits, and you just have to enjoy it for the brief time before you acclimatise and things are normal again.

Of course I am well aware that there is sure to be another cold snap. Canberra almost always has one wacky September day when it will snow (except when it happens in October instead - this is a city with regular sub-zero nights in winter, but no snow).

The icing on the cake is that the holy wireless waves of Inter-net are once again flowing at proper speed in this house. I don't have to bring some knitting or a book to sit by the computer while I wait for each page to load.

And the cherry on the top? An unexpected find of an early Kirsty MacColl compilation on CD, one I thought was only ever on vinyl. It has a few songs that don't exist anywhere else in my collection, and a couple of alternate versions of beloved songs too. I thought that when From Croydon to Cuba was delivered into my hot little hands last year, that was going to be the last New Kirsty Day, so this was a super pleasant surprise. For $6!