Tuesday, March 9, 2010

PumpTV - just how much advertising is too much?

I rarely watch commercial television. The commercial breaks and station promos annoy the heck out of me and I get no pleasure from any show I enjoy being carved into 6 or 7 minute segments with 3 minute ad breaks. When I do watch television, it's usually the ABC (ad free) or SBS (fewer ads than commercial channels).

Once upon a time I rather fancied the idea of working in advertising. I used to amuse myself by making pithy captions for products ("Rectinol...shove it up your a*se" was the most memorable). But now, as I approach Grumpy Old Womanhood, I find the constant barrage of advertising in everything from TV to billboards to the internet annoys me. I don't want products pushed in my face. If I want to buy something, I'll research what deals are out there myself. I don't want to be convinced that I need the latest and greatest techno gadget. When this Mac's lease is up, I will lease a new Mac. When my mobile phone dies a final death I'll replace it with an iPhone. Those are simple decisions I have already made. I have no need for a Wii, a Playstation or any other timewaster and entertainer. I read books and ride a bike instead.

So I was both amused and appalled to read this little gem in yesterday's paper about installing little TV screens at the pumps at petrol stations. For heaven's sake! Are we so desperate for stimulation and entertainment that we can't spend 2 to 5 minutes filling up the car without having to watch telly? If you don't want to click on the link, let me assure you that what will be on these screens will be advertisements. Canny marketing merchants have found yet another way to pester potential customers. Quote: "As a result, the spare minutes we once called free time -- which marketers refer to as "dead time" -- are increasingly becoming more advertising time."

Well, we're not allowed use our mobile phones while pumping petrol, so presumably this is to keep the Twitter generation happy and entertained. And avoid the inevitable Tweets such as "Filling the car up. 2c a litre off. Need to wash windscreen." or "Pumping gas, what a waste of two minutes.'. As if Twitter didn't have enough rubbish tweets ricocheting across the ether.

Further on down the article it mentions the possibilities of installing similar screens in men's urinals courtesy of a Swiss invention which is becoming a common site in Europe.

Do we HAVE to be entertained every waking moment? I think not. I relish the opportunities to get away from the computer, the TV, the constant barrage of "Buy! Buy! Buy!" that assaults me at every retail outlet including the petrol station ("Spend $5 in store and get 4c a litre discount!"). I like to have some time when my thoughts can be my own.

And my final thought on TV screens at petrol stations is that it's very clever indeed - people will watch the screen rather than watch how many dollars worth of fuel they are putting into their cars. Ah yes, people who don't automatically 'fill her up' will be spending over their budget and the petrol companies will like that just fine.

Enough from me, I'm heading off for a bit of dead time and a cup of coffee.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Frankenstein's Cat and other stuff

What a ridiculously hectic few weeks it's been. Tons of work on for one of my clients, sadly the one who can't afford a high hourly rate, a not-for-profit organisation. I've been meaning to post on a whole bunch of ideas but haven't got around to it. Some of the stuff I've done has included meeting the Prime Minister, organising a big lunch with another prominent politician as guest speaker, attending industry meetings on behalf of the client, submitting a grant for the client to fund a website redevelopment... it's been manic and I've done no writing, either. I've been working long hours each day, and at the weekend I'm just glad to get away from the blasted computer and work in the garden or just get out and about.

My little girl cat broke her hip several weeks back (don't know how... vet said you have to see them do it to know HOW they did it) and she had a operation nine days ago to cut out the necrotic bit of hip joint which couldn't be fixed. She looks like Frankenstein's Cat, with a three inch long curving wound and ten big stitches. She's limping as they had to cut through a bit of muscle to get to the offending bone, but the vet says the muscle will heal in a few weeks and the limp will improve. She's happier, though. I found her on top of my 2 metre tall bookcase on Monday, sleeping peacefully. She'd jumped up from a little filing cabinet next to it. It's her favourite place in the house, as high as she can get. She hasn't been able to get up there since she broke her hip. When I reached up and patted her, she opened her big blue eyes and I could see the happiness and contentment in them. She was feeling much more her old self.

We have friends flying in from the UK next week and have had to rearrange the spare room somewhat. We have a sofa bed in the living room for overnighters, and a single bed in the spare room which my stepdaughter used when she lived with us. Our friends are staying for a fortnight, so the sofa bed was not an option. We considered buying a new cheap sofa and moving the sofa bed upstairs, but as I pointed out my mother has a sofa bed she doesn't use, and we really, between both houses, don't need yet another sofa. So we swapped the single bed for the sofa bed. I put up some filmy curtains. The whole tenor of the room has changed now. It's my husband's office and with the sofa looks much more businesslike than with a single bed.

T'other half has applied for a job, too. He's been a freelance specialist journalist for 20+ years and has reached the pinnacle of where he can go in the industry in which he specialises. He's a bit tired of doing the same old, same old. And the pay isn't great; we've been a bit starved for cash over the last six months. He's found a government job that pays a bomb, and went for the interview earlier this week. The interview panel seemed impressed with him, thankfully. He'd seen an interview coach (someone I know) and we'd done a couple of mock interviews to get him thinking about responses to standard questions. I really hope he gets this job. We need the money and he needs the intellectual challenge.

The weather here has been revolting. The wettest February in years and when it wasn't raining the humidity was indescribable. I haven't been cycling for almost 3 weeks now. We've taken the dog for early morning walks though; it was a tossup whether to cycle or walk, but she needs the exercise as much as we do, and she loves going with us and chasing a ball in the park on the way.

The local art show is coming up, and they have a new category this year, a 9"x5" challenge. Your painting has to be 9x5 either portrait or landscape, any subject. I haven't submitted anything the last couple of years, but will work on some 9x5 ideas this weekend. It's supposed to be raining and cool but at the moment the temperature is soaring like a lark and so is the humidity. I work mainly in pastels, although I do pen and ink stuff as well. I'm thinking quirky landscapes for the 9x5s.

So that's been my life the last couple of weeks. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible!