A Trip To The ‘Homemarker Centre’

Mid-October. Time to plant the summer veggie crop. For retail, I assumed it to be a rather quiet, nondescript time of year. Not so, I learnt from a wander through my local Homemaker Centre. With the ‘Mid-Year Sales’ a recent memory and the big ‘Christmas Sales’ at the ready, now, it would seem, is as good a time as any for yet another sale. A sale of the retailers own choosing for there is no novelty to attach it to. ‘SPRING CLEAN OUT SALE’, perhaps?

As I strolled the anti-pedestrian carpark, half-full at lunchtime with shiny cars, the ‘SALE’ signs shouted at me from every direction. Material-hungry shoppers scurried from their SUVs, avoiding being run over by other rambunctious SUV-owners, towards the gaping mouths of these troves of pleasure. Large rooms carefully curated with various bits ‘n’ bobs that would look cute in that corner at the end of the hall. The participants of this ritual exited the stores with expressions of joy on their face, evidenced by the hefty bags they totted. The only dampener on this moment was explaining the extra lines on the credit card statement to the spouse. No matter, it won’t arrive in the mail for another two weeks.

As I strolled on by, not at all interested in any of these wares, I snapped photos of the bait. All but a handful of these consumerist nirvanas sported such a tempting lure. TODAY ONLY, 20% OFF.

It seems the euphoria wears off. I exit the carpark, not a footpath in site, to the beep of one wary shopper’s horn. A stern look on her face. She took off with abated glee. This experience is obviously not as Zen as they think it to be.


Could You Walk Away From Your House?

What is a house? Is it a roof over one’s head or something more than that? A trove of memories and belongings that needs to be viciously guarded by emotion and more capitalistic instruments like insurance? For most of us, if our house burnt down – rented or owned – we’d be devastated. Even if it wasn’t full of our worldlies the very fact that the house, the structure, it’s rooms and its floors is gone, in itself would be a bad thing. We spend vast resources protecting our homes from harm. We do our best to keep people out with locks and doors – not only from stealing the things that are within but from vandalism and squatting and invasion of its sacred space. We protect our houses from the elements with shutters and steel frames that termites cannot eat through and firebreaks and special cladding to protect from the flames and embers. Our houses, or more aptly homes, in and of themselves mean something to us. It would be hard to just walk away.

To pay $300 per week rent for five years and then to move away is simple enough to do. We wouldn’t think too much of it. It’s common. I have done it time and time again. But that’s a $78,000 home effectively burnt to a crisp – nothing more to show. Gone, in and of itself. The memories are still there, but that’s the case either way.

I have read in various places of people that have built disposable homes. No, they are not made of cheap plastic or paper. They are homes that, if the situation fell upon them, they could walk away with no regrets. C’est la vie. This is an unthinkable proposition to most. But the memories, the meaning, the… the… house. But why not that rental? That building – the wood and bricks – that you walked away from after 5 years of good times? That belongs to, and always has, someone else?

Voluntary Simplicity Hits The Mainstream

Living intentionally ‘poor’ hits the mainstream. Well, Murdochstream. News.com.au shares the story of Dan Price who lives in a ‘Hobbit hole’ on less than $5,000/year. The story mentions that Dan is no technophobe and has a “mobile phone, iPad and MacBook Air in his Hobbit hole”. Sounds a lot like me – appropriate technology includes my MacBook Air and iPad.

Zizek and a German Joke

Oh, Žižek:

In an old joke from the defunct German Democratic Republic, a German worker gets a job in Siberia; aware of how all mail will be read by censors, he tells his friends: “Let’s establish a code: if a letter you will get from me is written in ordinary blue ink, it is true; if it is written in red ink, it is false.” After a month, his friends get the first letter written in blue ink: “Everything is wonderful here: stores are full, food is abundant, apartments are large and properly heated, movie theatres show films from the West, there are many beautiful girls ready for an affair – the only thing unavailable is red ink.”

And is this not our situation till now? We have all the freedoms one wants – the only thing missing is the red ink: we feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom. What this lack of red ink means is that, today, all the main terms we use to designate the present conflict – ‘war on terror’, ‘democracy and freedom’, ‘human rights’, etc – are FALSE terms, mystifying our perception of the situation instead of allowing us to think it. You, here, you are giving to all of us red ink.

Top 3 Refrigeration Peeves

Logan Smith of Smalltopia, husband of Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens, shares his top three frustrations with refrigerators – too all I can relate:

– Too much noise for quiet loving writers;
– Too much cost for holding forgotten food ($10/month in electricity); and
– Too much mess with accumulated weird odors and mystery stains shortly after cleaning.

Could you live without a fridge?

Answer Your Email!

I run a business. I set an expectation that I will respond to customer emails within 24 hours. I view email as a legitimate form of communication, up there with phone calls and face to face meetings. It seems some businesses don’t view email as a legitimate form of communication. Irrespective of the fact they have an email address and web presence, they seem not to care for it in the same way they do a potential client knocking on their door or calling them on the phone. They seem unaware of the fact that the emailing market has an expectation and threshold for how long they will tolerate for a response. Interestingly, I have found it to be vendors of big ticket items – real estate and cars – that are the most apathetic. Widget peddlers, in my experience, are better at responding to email.

Perhaps when times are good and customers are lining up at the door you could field the easy enquires or the ones that come in through your preferred means only. Not great customer service but perhaps necessary when time is limited. But when times are bad, and you’re struggling to get a buyer, why be so aloof? I refer to many of the real estate agents I have been trying to deal with, as you may have guessed. It’s as bad as vendors hastily dismissing vendor finance. Actually, it’s worst – vendor finance is the unknown for many people. I’m talking about a sales person effectively turning their back on the person madly knocking on their door, cash falling out of their pockets, as they stress at their desk wondering how they are going to sell the property. Why would you do that?

Sorry about the rant.