Archive for the 'Amorphous Whinging' Category

An easy target

August 13, 2006

Let’s see if anyone can guess what I’m venting about without me actually naming the type of organisation that has brought on this rant.

Ten Clues:
1.  They aren’t very good at answering the phone.

2.  When they ring you back you are always out.  This is often because they ring you at home even when you have asked them to ring you at work, because of course you won’t be at home.

3.  You can only call them back during traditional office hours, so inevitably it takes you at least a day to be able to do that – seeing as how they leave a message for you at home, which you can only clear after they have all finished for the day. 

4.  The people you get on the phone are either brilliantly efficient and understand you immediately (using a pleasant manner) or surly, uncommunicative, and incapable of actually listening.  The latter appear to out-number the former.

5.  Arbitrary changes are often made to your arrangements, even when you have put in writing exactly what you want.

6.  Most of them make ocean-sized profits that they send to share-holders overseas.

7.  They tend to treat their staff appallingly, which makes it no surprise that customer service becomes an alien concept to many who work there.

8.  When they make a mistake it can be catastrophic.

9.  But there are never any offers of compensation.

10.  Unfortunately you can’t avoid using these organisations, unless you are going to live in a cardboard box on the street, in the rain.

An imaginary beer to the first person to guess correctly!

Rug up

July 31, 2006

Readers who are not able to marvel in the glories of Auckland television may wish to skip this post as unfortunately it will be rather nonsensical to you. 

I wish they would stop.  Just stop.  The adverts.  The ones with the rugs. 

Everytime I try to watch television they are there.  Often more than once in an ad break.  And you can’t change the channel to avoid them, because sooner or later they will pop up wherever there is a commerical break.  Like some kind of televisual weed; Old Man’s Beard has turned to selling carpet, at bargain basement prices!

There has to be some kind of fair trading problem with these adverts.  They are ceaseless and yet each and every one promises that the sale is in it’s “last days” and that this is some kind of unfortunate rug shipment, stuck in limbo due to fog/company liquidation/the rotation of the earth around the sun. 

Weekend after weekend these poor unfortunate containers, bursting with their unloved stock, are emptied at the Showgrounds, just begging, like an SPCA puppy, for you to take them home.  The implication seems to be that if they don’t get adopted purchased they will be put down destroyed in the burning hell that is just around the corner for any unsold item unlucky enough to end up at the Logan Campbell Centre.

Even if there is no issue about false advertising, there surely has to be some legal basis, under the UN’s Convention on Eliminating Torture, to insist that the ads themselves cease.  It cannot be humane to continue to inflict them on us week after week, month after month, year after year.  They make my ears bleed, they make me want to find the poor man who does the voiceover and rip out his voicebox. 

Above all else they make me never ever ever want to buy a rug.  Thank goodness we have wall to wall carpet.

Apologies for the irregular service

June 26, 2006

This term has been total madness for me, but it's nearly over.  The school holidays arrive at the end of this week and I don't think I've ever needed them more in my teaching career.  You can probably expect a veritable Niagara Falls of vents come term break, as long as the marking mountain doesn't loom too high. 

Those dreaded telephone calls

June 24, 2006

I loathe and detest tele-marketers.  

I know I shouldn't, they are just doing their job and few of them would do it for a living if they had other options.  But honestly, every time the telephone rings between 5.30pm and 7.30pm I know it is probably going to be one of those painful "Sorry but I'm really not interested" conversations. 

I had one the other night who didn't know how to let go.  I'm always polite, because it's a crap job, for pathetic money and a whole Olympic Stadium full of abuse and grief, at really anti-social hours.  But this guy managed to stretch my politeness to the point where it snapped, rebounding on him quite painfully (I hope): 

Ventoletta:  "Kia ora" (Me answering the phone) 

Hapless Tele-marketer:  "Hello, can I please speak to, errr, Mrs Vent Box?" (So far, so polite) 

V:  "I'm sorry but there is no Mrs, my name is Ms Vent Box." (This always peeves me, the assumption that I'm a Mrs because I'm over a certain age, but it's not his fault.  He isn't the first to make this mistake, he won't be the last, I'm used to just correcting people and getting over it.) 

HTM:  "Ok, Mrs Vent Box.  I'm calling on behalf of Evil Empire Enterprises, we're just wanting to make you aware of a fantastic new life protection scheme that has just become available to you, and only 100,000 other lucky people."  (Ok he didn't say 100,000 he probably said "a select few" or somesuch other rubbish.  He was pretty obviously reading off a card, at speed, so I shouldn't blame him for the bad attempt to hook me in by making me feel special.) 

V:  "Is this about life insurance?  Because I'm not really interested, I already have life insurance, but thanks-"  (HTM makes mistake number one and interrupts me.) 

HTM:  "No, no it's not life insurance, it's life protection!  It's quite different.  It means that if you were unfortunately to end your life earlier than you had otherwise expected your family will be cared for.  It's really quite a revolutionary new idea!"  (At this point he was clearly no longer reading from the card, but was in fact filled with a genuine zeal about the product.  There was a hint of angry desperation in his voice too, and his friendly facade was starting to slip irretrievably downwards.  Oh dear.) 

V:  "I don't really see how this is different from life insurance, and also how it would actually protect my life.  Anyway, thank you for your call but I'm really not -"  (I'm still being polite but Ms Harsh Tone is creeping in.) 

HTM:  "But Mrs Vent Box, you are turning down the most amazing opportunity!!  Really if you would just hear me out-"  (He's quite testy by this point, like his life depends on this sale.) 

V:  "Look I'm sorry, but I already have life insurance and I'm quite happy with my current arrangements."  (Ok, this is a lie, I don't have life insurance, but I'm firmly trying to assert my desire to end this conversation and get on with my evening.) 

HTM:  "But you don't understand!  This is such a good opportunity.  Let me tell you about our wonderful life protection scheme.  It involves-"  (And so he starts reading from the card again, quite agressively, as if by sheer force of personality he can somehow keep me on the phone.) 

V:  "I have told you that I'm not interested, but you don't seem to be listening.  I've really tried to be polite but-" (Interrupts me AGAIN!  What is wrong with this man??) 

HTM:  "You are making a big mistake, this life protection scheme is-"  (He's very angry indeed, and he doesn't mind me hearing it.) 

V:  "Ok I've tried being polite but I am quite happy with my current arrangements and I hope you have better luck with your other calls this evening.  I do not wish to talk to you any further.  Goodbye."  

And thus I hung up on him. 

I felt very guilty.  It's a terrible job, and sometimes people are just rude to the poor tele-marketers for the sake of it, someone safe to take out their other irritations on.  But this guy took the chocolate eclair.  He was rude, disrespectful and couldn't take my "No" with grace.  I hope he wasn't trying to pay off his gambling debts. 

Spiced ham

June 18, 2006

We all hate spam, everyone hates spam, every single person with an email address.  I bet even spammers hate spam – they must get it from others and be irate, just as you and I, the non-spammers, are.  (At least I hope so). 

But you know something, they wouldn't keep doing it if there weren't some people who bought stuff off them, because of spam.  I'm toying with the idea that that is indeed a greater crime than sending the spam in the first place.   Forget the laws against sending spam – let's deal with the demand side of the equation.  Although Death To All Who Buy From Spam is less catchy that Death To Spammers!

I probably accidentally delete legitimate emails when I shovel my inbox free of those nasty unsolicited emails from total and utter strangers trying to get me to:
a) Buy viagra, cialis, prozac, and Dog only knows what other "embarassing" drugs that many people assumedly don't want to have to go to the doctor to get.  (Surely you don't want to take these drugs unless you need them?  In which case, shouldn't you check out whether they are necessary with an expert first?)
b) Enrol in some dodgy "Internet University" to get a piece of paper that certifies I am a Doctor of Nanotechnology, which no one will believe, except possibly for strangers you meet in dating chat rooms online. 
c) Visit their porn site, to look at hot babes and assumedly start paying per view at some point, or clicking through to the ads on their sites so they get some dosh out of the time spent programming that 'bot to harvest addresses from the internet.
d) Help out the internet equivalent of a little old lady (the child of a deposed legitimate ruler of a little known third world nation) to get their money back, whilst taking a handy cut for myself which will inevitably turn into a total raid of my bank account and possibly the stealing of my identity.

Spamming enrages me because I can't escape it.  I got an Xtra address about a year ago specifically because of their spam filter.  I shelled out because I wanted to avoid the 100-odd spam emails I was getting every single day.  It worked for about 5 months, with only a few hardy spams making it through, but now it is as bad as ever. 

I'm quite cynical about Xtra's involvement in all this.  At first the spam was virtually non-existent, but now it's at least 100 a day (again).  If I'm away for a few days it mounts to uncontrollable levels.  Not that long ago Xtra started marketing an additional "Security Suite", which allegedly stops spam for a bit of extra cash in their pockets (and out of yours and mine).  Now the reason I switched to Xtra in the first place was because of the spam filter included – so what is the difference between the spam filter I allegedly already have and the one that costs (more) money?  My guess is it's the 100 spams a day that I'm getting now, which I didn't used to get…

I've also noticed that the free email addresses I maintain (Hotmail and Gmail) for using when my address will actually be available on the internet get little spam, and it is all, accurately, directed to the Junk Mail folder.  I'm not giving MSN or Google any money for this service, but I am paying Xtra.  So how come the free service can do it fine but the paid one can't?  A mystery that it's beyond me to unravel.

And by the way, there's an official website for actual SPAM (as in that which comes in a can), which is really quite witty.  Apparently the use of the term spam for unsolicited commercial email comes directly from the Viking Spam Skit in Monty Python.  It's good to know these things.

Drizzling on my parade

June 10, 2006

So prosaic to vent about the weather, but it's undeniably getting me down.  Denting my normal sunny disposition (yes, really), the drizzle is unrelenting in it's hazy fall from sky to ground.

Why do I care?  Firstly sunny weather makes me happy.  Silly I know, but it's true.  I read somewhere once that sitting outside in the sunlight with no lenses protecting your eyes somehow increases the amount of seratonin in your brain.  Nature's Prozac if you will (pity about the cancerous contra-indications).

Secondly the sun means dry laundry.  It means avoiding that great power zapper, the tumble dryer.  I'm always torn about using the dryer – I love the feel of towels that have been through it, but it's such a waste of electricity and I feel less green every time I press that grimy start button.  Plus the decrepitude of our current dryer is so advanced that it often smells like it's burning.  Of course it isn't on fire, it just likes to make a fuss.  So all in all the sun is preferred for it's drying capabilities as well as it's propensity to bring me to smile more.

And I like clear weather because the sky is so beautiful when there are big patches of blue between the white and grey.  It makes me want to lie on my back in the grass and just gaze upwards in quiet contemplation.

Drizzle is a serious impediment to my love affair with sunny days.  It is surely the Brussels Sprouts of weather.  Unfortunately, where I live, we seem to have those pesky little Brassica oleracea gemmifera for our meterological dinner at least once a week.   

I suspect one day I will finally snap and in a fit of pique move to the Bahamas in the middle of the night.  They better not have drizzle there.

Pressing the self-destruct button

May 11, 2006

I’ve been thinking lately about some of the self-destructive behaviours that I engage in, with a view to perhaps ending them if I can. 

My first focus has been on my seemingly mindless computer gaming addiction, which formed when I was in my early teens, but was at that time subject to a certain amount of regulation from my parents.  These days I’m allegedly an adult and responsible for my own problems, so if I’m going to stop wasting time on the laptop on these games then I really need to step up to the plate myself and stop waiting for Mum to stride sternly into the room and tell me, finger wagging tensely, that it’s time for bed.

I often complain about my propensity to waste serious quantities of my limited spare time on stupid games, and I’ve taken to viewing the whole thing quite negatively.  But then someone asked me why I enjoy them, why I continue, why I started, and it took me a while to see my way through the fog of cons surrounding the issue for me. 

I’ve realised that a lot of the games I play are quite creative.  They’re about establishing something – a garden, a city, a diner.  And thinking about my previous political activities that was something I was drawn to as well – starting things up, getting them going, building. 

So perhaps the games aren’t entirely self-destructive.  Perhaps they are a way for me to express some creativity (albeit within limited boundaries) and do it in a safe way with little consequences.  In the end I have no responsibility for the citizens of the city I build on the laptop, and I can turn off or walk away whenever I want to.  But I still get to follow my urge to create new things, to respect and express my drive to do something, vaguely visionary (for want of a better word).

Which is not nearly as negative as I had thought.  Recognising what the games do for me might help me to channel the energy I spend on them into a more healthy expression, like planning and creating an actual real life garden. 

But before I start that, I just need to have one more turn…

 

Ventoletta is puzzled

April 5, 2006

Now it's not that often that I venture out into the broader NZ blog scene, although in the past it has had some happy outcomes (e.g. finding Capitalism Bad).  Most of the NZ blogs I find a bit dull – they are either quite personal (and thus not so interesting, much like The Vent Box must be to outsiders) or intensely right wing and therefore dire, irritating and wrong all in one handy package.

But today I slowly ambled into the lot and kicked a few tyres, very lightly. 

Pretty quickly I discovered someone who I personally think is a bit of a fruit loop.  Now I didn't want The Vent Box to be one of those blogs that attacks real people by name, and then they find it years later when they do an ego-search on Google and are driven into an insane rage that turns them against the world, resulting in another wasted vote for the Libertarianz.  But this guy has put himself out there for public life and as such I think it's ok to venture an opinion, although I will keep my claws sheathed and just bat him around a bit, seeing as how he might read this.

The man in question is Trevor Louden and he writes at the blog New Zeal.  He appears to be dedicated to mapping and exposing some ginormous left-wing conspiracy, which I humbly venture exists only in his head. 

He's also the Vice President of the Act Party.  Which frankly wants to make me put on my blue jeans and do my happy dance, because he sounds like just the person to keep Rodney Hide on his diverting, muck-racking, poll-diving track.  As a school teacher it will surely come as no surprise that I identify as somewhere left of centre, and much of what Act preaches (even before you look at their education policies) scares the nail polish off my toe nails.  For Hide to be wasting time promoting himself rather than pushing his party's policies out into the public eye (hopefully to get run over by a huge truck carrying that set of textbooks we're waiting for) is fantastic.

But back to Mr Louden. 

Trevor has this obsession with who had dinner together back in 1982.  Apparently having broken bread with a vague left-winger, been to a conference a no-longer avowed socialist spoke at, or being related (thrice removed) to a known owner of the Communist Manifesto, somehow makes a person irretrievably part of the Four Legs Good brigade.

It's all a bit student politics isn't it?  Keeping files on people tracking their employment and activist histories, not to mention a little notebook of who's friends with who, and then spewing it all out into the WWW, as some kind of evidence of evilness. 

Someday someone is going to turn the tables on Louden (as if being in the same party as Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble wasn't damning enough).  I look forward to his response when that day comes.

Picture found at the wonderful Tony's Photo of the Day site.

Things that go missing in the night

March 26, 2006

I hate it when I can't find things. 

I'm usually very organised, I keep things in the same place all the time, returning them promptly.  Unfortunately the person I live with does not follow similar rules, meaning things are frequently hard to find.  Especially as my partner tends to leave looking for them until the last minute – usually it isn't my problem, as I'm not the one looking. 

But right now it is me who is frantically hunting for something lost and it's driving me to consider how I would look with just tufts of hair sprouting from my scalp…

Of course I don't think I was the one who misplaced it, but it just doesn't seem to be anywhere in the house and it is needed for first thing in the morning.  I know where it would be if I had used it last (in the hall cupboard) and the fact that it's not there suggests that it was someone other than me who had it most recently. 

Trying very very very hard not to blow my top at said partner right now.  Hence this little mini-vent.  Let's hope it's worked.

The glass is half full

March 8, 2006

When I first started reading The Good Pen, I thought maybe it was from another spiteful rant blog, like The Vent Box.  Oh goodie, I thought, a kindred spirit to link to, and share bilesome thoughts with.

But as I read on, somehow compelled (possibly by the second person narrative), I discovered that it was in fact the antithesis of this blog – if The Vent Box is half empty, Good Stuff is indeed half full. 

I realise I haven’t been filling my spite quota much lately.  If anything it’s because I’m too dulled by the low level irritation of so much of my life at the moment.  Work exhausts me, my relationship exhausts me, hell even the cat is exhausting me (I’m sure she doesn’t actually have some irrefutable biological need to get up at 5.30am and miaow viciously).  

But don’t despair dear readers (of whom I know there are none, but I like to keep my self under illusions at all possible times).  The spite is still there.  It is building quietly, waiting for a pressure point, a shifting of the plates, which results in the need for another bloody good vent.  

My early warning system detects particular trembling around that great mountainous wasteland known as The Dumper.  She wore the most hideous cardigan-dress combo yesterday and was in such a foul mood that you would have expected her to be stomping around in Docs petulantly, not clomping along the corridors in those really truly ghastly sandals that drive me insane everytime I see them. 

Hmm, maybe that vent isn’t so far away after all…