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Are free offers all that good when what you actually receive isn’t very good?

I have renewed my subscription to an Australian craft magazine when the discount offer has included packs of scrapbooking papers.  The adverts showed a ‘suggested’ indication of the range of papers you might expect to get - bright colours, lovely patterned paper etc.

The first time I received the craft papers (advertised as Ultimate Cardstock & Paper Pack) I got 60 sheets of A4 cardstock in assorted colours and 40 sheets of patterned paper in assorted colours (12in x 12in).  To be fair, the A4 cardstock was very good…thank goodness.  Unfortunately the 12x12 scrapbooking papers were mostly terrible.  None of the pages look remotely as nice any of the papers in the photo and clearly they were the kind of designs that if you owned a shop those would be the ones you’d be stuck with, unable to sell.  It was all rather disappointing.  An Ultimate Pack it certainly wasn’t.

But it’s their latest free papers offer than has really taken the cake.  Here’s the blurb in italics and my opinion of the optimistically named Art Deco Pot Luck Paper Pack comprising 40 x assorted patterned papers and cardstock (12in x 12in).

Are you a patterned paper fanatic? Do you like surprises? If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, then you’ll love this pack! Yes I like patterned papers.  I like surprises too…..but I don’t love this pack.  While I acknowledge ‘pot luck’ implies you are not going to get exactly what is in the photo, I think when the photo shows gorgeous patterned papers with some plain cardstock, getting a pack that contains exactly THREE patterned papers - and ugly drab examples at that - is not in keeping with the spirit of the original advertisement.

It includes 40 x sheets of miscellaneous 12in x 12in patterned papers and cardstock, featuring a myriad of patterns, themes and colours. You’ll have so much fun rifling through them! Brands may include names such as Teresa Collins Designs, K&Company, Imaginisce and 7gypsies – what will you get? So what did I get…nothing to suggest I’d have fun rifling through them, that’s for sure.  Re the myriad of patterns, themes and colours, how I would have liked to have got those! But aside from the three patterned papers - BTW two sheets were from 7gypsies and the other was from WeR Memory Keepers whoever they are - the rest were ALL plain papers….very plain papers…with no brand names.
There were single sheets of plain card of varying thicknesses in pink, orange, yellow, grey and black, plus three sheets of plain olive green….in some kind of parchment paper perhaps?  I don’t know - I don’t generally use this kind of paper.
The bulk of the papers were four packs of ultra-thin handmade Unryu (?) type papers made in Thailand in yellow, orange-red, black and grey.  Considering black and grey made up nearly half the total number of papers, the description ‘a myriad of patterns, themes and colours’ falls well short of the mark IMO.

This mixed pack is suitable for scrapbooking, cardmaking and any other paper crafts. A mixture of paper and cardstock always comes in handy and with this amazing pack you’ll have all your paper needs sorted! Umm…that depends.  If you were expecting classic thickness 12 x 12 papers (as per the original illustration) then four packs of very very thin handmade papers won’t cut it.  They are too flimsy to use as base papers for scrapbooking or cardmaking.  The possibility that I’d have all my craft needs sorted with mostly black and grey papers and cardstock is also very optimistic…unless I’m planning on making a range of sympathy cards or I decide on scrapbooking family funerals (which I’m not).

Conclusion. This pack was pot luck indeed…..alas from the bottom of the pot.  My advice is, if you see any offers from this mob for ‘a selection of papers’ free with your subscription and you think what you will get will be as good as the photo….chances are it won’t be.  Not even close, in fact.

Promises Promises

It's new TV programmes saturation advertising time, with most of them due to begin when the various big sporting events finish.  From what I've seen so far I'm not optimistic.

Dramatisation of real life events (crime events.....again....ho hum) probably bearing little resemblance to actual reality to those people who were part of them, and of course, reality shows of the usual kind - cooking (I hope the contestants are smarter in real life than they come across in the adverts) and weight loss (hours of misery from the contestants, on screen for all to see) just for starters.  So much to look forward to...NOT.

Added to those 'joys' are the adverts for yet more lifestyle channels....the ones where you spend too much money on junk even when it is offered at a discount.

I hope there will be better choices on the remaining digital channels (even if they are repeats) because the 'Sneak Peeks' (overlong repetitive boring adverts) saturating the big three commercial channels (and repeated on their respective newer ones) are enough to cause anyone to rush to the DVD sales.  Personally, I might just forgo the TV and read some old favourites.

Not feeling a lot like Christmas

I have found over the years that Christmas tends to arrive in a mad rush, mostly because I often leave doing things like buying presents, posting cards etc until well, if not the last minute, certainly until sometime in November which is quite often not long enough.

This year was no different, but what I did not expect (and honestly, who does?) is a very sore leg was the start of spending weeks of November and December in hospital.  I am not used to hospitals.  In fact they scare the hell out of me and I would prefer to avoid them at all costs...but there I was, in hospital in a routine of medicine, needles, variable food, enforced routines and boredom, watching the world go by with no way to complete my usual Christmas tasks.

Thanks to the medical staff and quite of a lot of antibiotics I'm home at last, but apart from the fact it is taking longer for me to get back to how I was pre-illness (which is probably also getting me down a little), my heart just isn't in all that Christmas stuff this year.

Daytime TV - where viewers go to die

I’m on holidays at the moment and on hot days I’m happy to stay at home indoors.  When I’m not on the net I may be watching TV.  It will probably be a blessing to go back to work (despite having to get up at the crack of dawn) because with every hour wasted in front of the box I think my brain may be going into a decline.

Some local live shows would best be described as infomercials interspaced with occasional news, (alleged) entertainment and what passes for banter between the hosts.  Much time it also taken up with reminding viewers of ‘what’s coming up next’, all of which seems to take an interminable time to arrive.  There is great competition between two morning shows on rival networks.  I can quite believe it – at the moment I can’t make up my mind which of them is worse.  Choosing between them is probably like choosing between the two main political parties at the moment (ie: Eany Meeny Miny Mo..).

But the real reason I say daytime TV is terminal is because the programmers and advertisers seem to think so too.

Aside from the infomercials for the latest get fit equipment (which you might need if you follow all the recipes in the cooking shows), gadgets for straightening your hair, or creams to get rid of pimples, not to mention the various ways to clean your house with paraphernalia you’ve managed to do without so far, the rest of your time may be spent watching medical programs (or almost, like Dr Phil) which brings me to the clincher.

Just to remind you further of your mortality, daytime TV has an excess of advertisements for life insurance in case you drop dead, and funeral insurance for when you actually do.  I particularly like the advert with the retired couple who ‘live for now’ because (at least for the purposes of the advert) their future is taken care of (leaving viewers to think that all they have to look forward to in that future is apparently death).

Yes, it may be a good thing when the holiday ends. I’ll be back at work…and back in the land of the living!


Going Over to the (Digital) Dark Side

Well…if you can’t beat them, join them.

With analogue TV due to be turned off this year I have finally bought a PVR.  I like my current chunky TV with its original aspect ratio (great for watching old TV shows on DVD) so I wasn’t about to replace it.  That left buying a set top box or a PVR (…which of course meant I wouldn’t need the STB).  So I read a few reviews, looked up specs and manuals from manufacturers, then looked online at all the sales at my local stores and I chose one.

The salesman suggested I employ someone to set it up for me (at a cost of $99 would you believe) but I’m not a total numpty when it comes to entertainment systems…and I can read instructions!  HDMI was not an option on my TV, but a Component connection or Composite was.  Fortunately the PVR also included the leads.  So I connected the Component ones, double and triple checked I’d got it right, turned on the power (TV and PVR) and…..disaster.  All I got were crazy lines and no way to access the installation option.  Sigh.

I thought about it for a minute.  Should I pay for it to be set up, contact the guy who fitted the TV antenna or…what?  I decided that before I took either of those probably expensive options I’d try connecting the Composite leads, even though this was supposedly the lowest connection option, which wasn't particularly encouraging.  But first had to disconnect the DVD player, which I did.  So I plugged the Composite leads in, turned on the TV and PVR again, and to my amazement it worked.  I had a nice clear digital picture.  Just to be on the safe side I ran it through the installation process.  I now had all the channels.  A quick read of the DVD player manual and I found I could use the Component leads supplied with the PVR to reconnect it to the TV.  (I’ll admit to a momentary panic when I realised I’d disconnected the DVD player audio leads….and they were now among a tangle of parts belonging to the PVR and my old VCR which I’d also disconnected.  Fortunately I found them and plugged them back in and sound was restored).

So now I’m reading up on all the options for this new toy.

One thing just cracked me up.  Apparently I can record up to four programs simultaneously.  Honestly….did the PVR manufacturers actually look at what’s on TV these days?  I’d be hard pressed to find two programs (and most of the time just one) that would be worth recording simultaneously, let alone four.  Hilarious.

And there’s something else I’ve quickly discovered.  Instead of five analogue channels of mostly forgettable rubbish I now have twenty-something
digital channels (counting duplicates – I’m still working it all out) of mostly forgettable rubbish.  It is staggering how bad some of the programs are.  Hey ho, such is the progression of technology these days!  You can have quantity....but most definitely not quality.


Introducing Zoe

Zoe's Scratching Post_a

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new but here’s an update I should have written months ago.  In June I took the plunge and visited my local RSPCA animal shelter….the cat section of course.  I finally felt I was ready to bring a feline into my life again.

So...introducing Zoe, a classic patterned tabby with traces of ginger which, if the tabby whorls weren’t so strong you would probably classify her as a torbie.  Yes, she’s a moggy of unknown parentage but she is lovely.  Zoe is approximately two and a half years old and she is the sweetest little cat, with the loudest purr you could imagine.  She is very affectionate, happy to live indoors and fond of sleeping on my shoulder.  A staff member at the shelter recommended her…and she was spot on. Zoe is a very easy-going cat which is marvellous, and I’m very lucky to have her.


Stupid Required Fields

This week I wanted to order something from a website and of course I had to set up an account. All went well until I got to the contact details section and discovered providing a mobile phone number was a requirement.  I don't have a mobile phone, I don't want a mobile phone - and until I encountered this form I have not needed a mobile phone.  I am mobile phone numberless (apparently the last person in the universe) and I'm glad to be that way.

So I reckon in this world of pedantic form filling, what we need is a fake mobile number that forms will accept...then when the company calls it they get a recorded message explaining in the simplest of terms that not everyone has a mobile phone!  This service could also be handy for those people with phones who don't want the company/person/whoever to call them.

So how did I fix the problem in the end?  I couldn't.  That's one company that has lost a sale.

Ditch Facebook - New Year's Resolution?

I only joined it because a group I belong to use it, but for ages there wasn't much interesting stuff on their page so at the end of Nov 10 I deactivated my account.  I'd decided if I didn't need to access it in a month I might as well delete it completely.

Well it's been longer than that, I still haven't needed it...but I haven't got around to deleting my account either.  I read somewhere it was harder to delete your Facebook page than 'rest it'.  Maybe this month I'll do a search and find out how it's done....then it will be goodbye Facebook forever.

50 Word Stories - Mixed

The Countryside

“Isn’t this beautiful?” he enthused. “Look at the play of light and shadow through the eucalypts.”

She looked about doubtfully as she swatted another mosquito. “Is it much further?” she asked.

He wasn’t listening.  Once we’re there she’ll love it. This is much better than the city….

“SNAKE!!” she screeched.


Childhood - 3

As usual Dad stayed under the shower too long.  Soon the circuit breaker would ‘click’ as the water unit overheated.  It clicked.  We stood outside the bathroom grinning.  The shriek came as piping hot water suddenly turned frigid.  Giggling, we scattered.  Not surprisingly, Dad didn’t find it quite as funny.


Censorship - 1

The movie was advertised on TV with the usual overblown waffle.  Of course it starred the current male heart-throb and a glamorous looking actress.  In accordance with the current Australian censorship regulations it also came with a warning (which I’m sure we ALL appreciated).  Rated PG : Contains Course Language.


Freedom (aka Wishful Thinking)

It was cold, showery and windy.  It was also Monday morning.  The radio came on at 6am as usual.  The weather forecast was bad and the traffic report was worse.  I grinned as I switched off the radio and snuggled back under the covers.  I am going to enjoy retirement.



50 Word Stories : Nostalgia

Childhood – Age 11
Black and white TV, riding my bike anywhere I liked as long as I was home by teatime, playing my father’s old 78rpm records, summer holidays at the beach, buying TV21 comics every week, piano lessons, meeting friends at the Squashbowl….and freezing Canberra winters.  Life was easy at age 11.

Time Travel
Puzzled, I gazed at my surroundings.  Everything looked so different.  How had I ended up in 14th century Switzerland holding a crossbow?  No matter.  It was growing dark and soon I would have to find shelter for the night.  Magic happens when you watch old ‘William Tell’ episodes on DVD.

Weekends once rang with the sound of families; children playing, mothers chatting and harassed fathers pushing lawnmowers – if they weren’t planting, weeding or mending a fence or two.  Now gardening happens during the week from vehicles proudly emblazoned with the name of the local franchise.  Weekends are very quiet nowadays.

Childhood - Cats
They arrived one day – mum cat and her three kittens.  She was wild and wouldn’t be tamed.  One kitten was like her – in colouring and temperment.  Another was a classic tabby with white socks.  The third was a torbie – friendly and outgoing.  We adopted her.  Or did she adopt us?