The Crayfish Pot

Lobster pot to the readers in Maine. The underwater fish trap that lets a crayfish in but doesn’t let it out again – until it is hauled up to the surface and boiled alive. I have just received a mild boiling by my bank.

The bait was the Mastercard that I use for so many transactions nowadays – petrol, liquor, overseas purchases, dinners, etc. My habit is to pay it off regularly once a month – pay it to the penny, and incur no interest charges.

Then in December I looked at my Mastercard statement and misread the required amount – misread it by $ 2.70 and underpaid it. In the month that has passed an interest charge has accrued of $24.70…

It’s all legal, and it sits there biting and biting and biting each day that passes. And it is what bites people into irrecoverable debt. Trapped in the crayfish pot.

I shall not take the tinsnips to the Mastercard. It can ride with me in my wallet for the emergency aid that it might be – but I am headed back to the bank with my chequebook to  pay the entire debt I owe – as of this day – and will not be using it for transactions that can be done with cash in the future.

It’s probably a $ 35 dollar lesson in economics by now…but I’ll pay it and remember.

 

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Help Me Out Here…

a. Help me to understand the difference between the police speed camera monitors and William Bonney with a pistol. They both want money. They both present themselves in your face. They both threaten you. You pay up.

b. Help me to understand why they have two words for the same things; offal and awful.

c. Help me to understand why social media makes a two-day report of a man slipping on a fried onion in a Bunnings car park and the decision to put the fried onions under the sausage in the future. Could it be that social media is irrelevant nonsense? Say it ain’t so, Joe…!

d. Help me to understand why motion picture actors and stage singers  – trained to mimic emotions and mouth prepared speeches – are considered to be ingenuous gurus of political thought. It appears that honesty and integrity can be extruded and cut off in foot lengths…

e. Help me to understand how taking a picture of a politician eating anything advances any cause whatsoever – whether for or against the person pictured.

f. Help me to understand why people allow themselves to be persuaded to give money to telephone scammers when the knowledge of this sort of crime is now so widespread. We have passed by the Nigerian letter scams and the African fortune scams – surely we can advance past the Indian scams.

g. Help me to understand why new cars are not offered with colourful paint jobs. Blue, green, yellow, orange, and all shades in between are available in paint at the same price as white, black, and grey. Who desaturated the world?

h. Help me understand why the idea of  ” European ” is sold as better than anyone else’s culture. Is it because they made better wars in the 19th and 20th centuries? Or do they just have better propaganda machines?

i. Help me understand why I must bag and check out my own groceries while 10 checkout lines are not staffed. Am I to be offered a discount based upon the wages saved? ( I know the answer to that one and it is ” no “.)

j. Help me to understand why all the accents that singing stars emulate come from below the Mason-Dixon line…even if the singers are from north of Watford Gap.

The Easiest Way To Remit Money To The Moon

I note that there is an advertisement current on Instagram that seeks to have me send money to the Philippines. It does so by telling me that it is easy. If ease were the chief consideration, I could point out that I have a pair of scissors in the desk and can cut cash up into small fragments and blow it out the window. To much the same benefit.

I understand that there are perfectly legitimate reasons for sending money to Manila, or Managua, or Memphis, for that matter. Relatives. Rent. Ransom. I would be the last to stop people from pursuing international trade. But I am also equally sure there are perfectly normal agencies to do this that do not involve Instagram , Twitter, or Gofundme…or any other such marginalia. I also include the Indian grocers and 7-Eleven operators with money transfer signs on their windows in this category.

Folks, ANY bank in any shopping centre can do it, with a paper receipt for you and a real live teller behind a window that you can return to if you are worried. Your money may be destined to be tamped down a tropical rat hole when it gets there, but if you are dealing with the Commonwealth Bank or Westpac, or the ANZ you can at least be sure it will arrive at the rathole intact.

 

Bumtree

I have made use of the free selling site and app called Gumtree on several occasions in the past and have been delighted with the results.

While not everything has sold quickly, in most cases something has gone within a three week period, and if I have priced things fairly, it has all been good. But I am wondering about the thing lately.

I accept that there are some items that cannot be sold over this medium. I do not seek to sell them. Yet, when the rulemakers start to be arbitrary about the things – accepting one item and rejecting its brother – you wonder whether they are really smart enough to understand the difference between legal and illegal.

Further, while the listings are easy enough to put up, the first response to many of the careful prices is a flat 30% offer. That’s desultory and predatory at the same time, though not illegal in itself. I always thank the responder for the offer and if I can make any accommodation, I will do so…but the accommodation is a final thing.

Then it starts to get interesting. As soon as the accommodation is suggested, a series of barriers or extra demands are raised. Can the item be sent to the other side of the country at the accommodation price ( ignoring shipping costs ) and is there a vast range of accessories included free with it? Can a friend pick it up and pay by cheque? The odour of fish grows stronger with each text message.

The only saving grace with this is the fact that the advertisement is free in the first place and no goods ever have to be handed over without cash being exchanged on the spot. On all occasions when this has been the case, the deal has been good.

Well caveat emptor et vendor. It is the sort of activity that can be carried out while other things are going on, and no-one can force a sale either way. But if the buyers really do want to do business, they’ll have to do it with dignity. It ain’t a verge collection.

Hard Times For Soft People

Fate can be very unkind for many of us. Health problems, money problems, personal problems – they can all appear to limit our lives. What we need in these occasions is health, wealth, and happiness as an antidote. The simplest way to get this is to enter the social media and press the “ meme me “ button.

The result is rather like activating a dump valve in an industrial shower stall. You are wise to brace yourself before you hit it as the initial wave of sentimental horse shit can knock the unwary off their feet. Once a steady stream of unwanted advice is established you can turn round in it and get your bearings.

You will be encouraged to forget your troubles as you are forced to remember those of others. And in many cases you will be asked to send support…or even money…to any number of good causes.

Is this a help? In some instances it can be; if you are subject to low blood pressure the sight of some of your advisers can raise that. Then again, if you are inclined to be morose, their profile pictures may cause you to giggle.

And always remember that if they are somewhere else sending you memes, that means they are not at your front door pressing pamphlets on you. You can open the screen door without having to wedge it…

It may be difficult to cheer up, but not impossible. Even the mighty occasionally drive their cars into lamp posts.

The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia – A Guide To Salvation Through Publicity

We mentioned the Catholic confessional yesterday but forgot to say that it is considered to be a sacrosanct thing. The admissions that people make in there are generally supposed not to be blabbed about by the priests. This has lead to a number of melodramatic Hollywood movies and even more melodramatic government enquiries and media reports all over the world. And that has given the BGA an idea.

We are going to introduce a variation upon the institution of the confessional but with a few operational differences:

a. The BGA version will be available in more places – not confined to the premises of a church or cathedral. BGA booths will be set up in railway stations, shopping malls, and sports arenas. In country towns they will be attached to the pub or the petrol station. The Guild has a long-term aim to make sure that no Australian is more than 500 metres from a BGA booth wherever they live in the country.

b. BGA booths will be manned by a trained counsellor, though in some cases the training that they have received may be in naval gunnery, bartending, or double-entry book keeping. In any case they will be people who are prepared to sit there and listen. They will be paid, of course.

c. The booths will be properly curtained, with a darkened interior and a grillwork between the impenitent and the professor – we’ve learned that much psychology from the church. People will only start talking when they feel safe. Or when they are full of sodium pentothal. Curtains are cheaper than hypodermics.

d. The booths will have an internal sound tube and megaphone attached so that the sounds created inside are amplified and sent out over the surrounding area. We were contemplating a modern microphone/amplifier/speaker system but the technical experts pointed out that the power requirements and maintenance would make this impractical – certainly if we are to have a large network.  And the costs involved would push the project well over budget.

e. There will be no time limits set upon the BGA booths – neither frequency of attendance nor time inside speaking into the tube. There will be a hook provided in the counsellor’s tool kit to allow them to remove people who are just in there sleeping or making a nuisance of themselves. In really troublesome areas no seating will be provided apart from a central spike.

f. Most of the BGA booths will have a charity box attached to them. It will swing in on a steel hinge once the curtain is pulled across and will not swing back out of the way until a gold coin is dropped into the slot. There are fishooks set in the slot of the box to make sure that voluntary contributions go in and not out.

But enough of the mechanics of the booths. Read tomorrow to see how the BGA professional will help the people.

 

” This Is A Courtesy Call…”

I was standing in a store when my pocket phone rang.

” Hello, this is Bankwest. Am I talking to Richard? ”

My name is Richard and I agreed that the young woman was indeed talking to me. She asked me whether I would be prepared to identify myself in the store. That’s a rather unusual thing to say…and she was just a voice on a pocket phone…

She said it was just a courtesy call. I asked whether there was something amiss with my bank accounts. She declined to say, but asked me to call at a Bankwest branch, where she would send details of the call.

You want to panic? Try panicking about your bank accounts. I’ve been hacked through Mastercard before and I realise that it is well to jump on these things as soon as they are flagged. I said I would go to my normal local branch immediately…and took off in the car.

The official at the bank took my security passwords and we agreed that I was me and he was him; then we looked at the accounts. All was well…there was no need to  panic…whatever courtesy was intended in the original telephone call was probably some form of marketing idea that they compel junior staff to do…

Note for the future: I would readily identify myself to a recognisable police officer, local or AFP. I would do so to a recognisable magistrate or judge. I would identify myself to a recognisable Australian Defence Forces officer or warrant officer, if we were on Commonwealth property at the time. Other than that, my identity and any proof thereof, will be my own business.

Careful, BW. Your girl was indeed courteous, if a little mysterious, and your branch staff member was helpful, but there is a limit to what you should do in the marketing snoop line.