Wednesday, August 12, 2009

English as she is spoke

This four-minute high quality documentary captures our perception [sometimes?] of those we regard as outsiders to our own language and culture.

It also offers some interesting commentary on how we perceive language being taught and learned, and how it actually functions.

"You speak English well!"

If it puts a smile on your dial, you might also enjoy this more slapstick one from Micallef (who has employed the mechanics of this gig in several other skits over the years).

Monday, August 10, 2009

In the face of a child

Sometimes a moment takes you back to your childhood.

Caelan has been wanting to go fishing with me for a long time. We finally got to wet the lines the other weekend up at Forster.

His excitement and his interest reminds me of my own excitement at my dad taking me fishing as a little 'un up at Forster.

Sometimes as you look into the face of your child, you see your own reflection. In a moment, your childhood returns.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The sum of the parts

I wonder if you've ever tried to sell anything on eBay.

It amazes me how similar items can sell for such different prices. Sometimes it just seems to be a question of timing - the right / wrong people find / don't find your item at the right / wrong time.

But I'm pretty convinced a lot of it has to do with the quality of your descriptions. I used to move a bit of stuff on the 'Bay and got pretty decent prices for it - on one occasion selling a secondhand item for considerably more than it was worth new.

I worked with a few simple principles on eBay:

1. Be completely honest. If the item's not rare, don't list it as rare. If it has faults, point them out. Some of my listing titles have included the words 'NOT rare', 'Common as mud', 'More common than mud' - and I got great prices for all those items. Honesty is attractive to buyers. This also applies to postage - don't rip people off.

2. A listing is nothing without good photos. Give each listing at least 4 focused pictures, being sure to present as much detail on the item as you can, especially in areas where buyers are looking for detail. A lightbox, or a backdrop that contextualises the item, might be of assistance. An 'action' shot like the one above is good to include - it opens people's minds to the possibilities of what they could do with the item.

3. Give the item a really thorough description with the best grammar and spelling you can muster. If you can demonstrate a little technical knowledge of the item, that also helps.

4. Tell the story. People are curious, and love to know the history of where the item has been, which celebrity owned it, and which side of the American Civil War it fought on. This is the non-tangible, non-spec side of things - but it makes a difference, and adds to the character and uniqueness of your item. Stories give context to raw data.

5. Start the bidding low. This gets things moving. If you've got the above ingredients right, you'll get a sale and it will probably be at a price you're happy with anyway.

6. Finish items at a time when people are likely to be home. Most of mine finished in the evenings, and the bidding always heated up in the last ten minutes. Evenings were kind to me - not many people would feel comfortable bidding in front of the boss at 11.15am!

What are your eBay tips for success? Can you sharpen up these points?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Any flavour, so long as it's vanilla

Funny the things you never notice until someone else points them out.

I was listening to two blokes on ABC Sydney this morning discussing the blandness of modern car design. One of them made an interesting observation: when you get a street parked full with bland modern cars, you get increasingly bland streets ...

Monday, August 3, 2009

When everyone pitches in ...

Back from a short break - we had a couple of wonderful days with the family up at Smith's Lake (20 minutes' drive south of Forster).

I admit it's been hard to switch back into some sort of normality.

We shouldn't have stayed in the house we stayed in. I mean, we didn't deserve it.

By the time we split the costs between seven adults it cost us each around $33 per night. This gave us a massive house with a spectacular view over the lake and ocean, the world's most insane spa, a great kitchen (and top-shelf coffee machine), and about a million bedrooms and bathrooms.

When we all pitch in, it becomes amazingly affordable. On our own ... out of reach. And strangely - I think it was the more enjoyable to have a house like this full of people and energy and bubble. So everyone wins. Great house, great location, great company, great price.

Can't argue with that.