The Rivals

I am generally out of touch with social networks in my town – and with business affairs, cultural groups, and academic circles. I can be said to pretty much live in an intellectual bubble that is insulated from the rest of Western Australia. I have never been happier.

It is not that I do not welcome social interaction on a personal level – a conversation, a joke, a shared cup of vitriol. It livens up a day that might otherwise be given over to dragging a plough through flinty soil then falling exhausted into a ditch at nightfall. Retail trade was like that…

But being unaware of the world has the delightful advantage of rendering me neutral, by virtue of ignorance, in most of the deadly competitions and rivalries of the day. I can be in the company of people in my old trades – dentistry and retail photography – while they are frostily ignoring each other or cattily circling for commercial information…and I am unconcerned. If I occasionally ask one about the affairs of the other, casually revealing the extent of their spy network and causing alarm bells to go off in the mind of the listeners, it is all innocent. Perfectly innocent.

And then there are the firms that rep for other firms – the agency men. I’m old and I forget things and I cannot be held responsible if I blurt out secrets of the delivery date of a product to someone else in the mistaken belief that they are the firm handling the account. One lens can look very much like another when it is top secret and hush hush.

Likewise, I can hardly be expected to be up to date with all the staff hirings and firings unless someone tells me and generally they tell me only when a coroner’s report is delivered or a trial date is set.

Of course, once I have been entrusted with a secret I am the soul of discretion. Wild horses could not drag the parlous financial situation of ———- from my lips. Who knows, they may trade out of it.

It always pays to play fair.

The Little World – What Scale Is That?

Why, it’s a different scale from the one you need, of course. That’s how modelling is done. You go to the shop, see a wonderful model product, and then find that it is the wrong size for what you do.

So you change scales. And the next time you go to the hobby shop the best new product is in yet another scale. If you are in luck the shop will be nearby to a liquor store and you can drown your sorrows.

But don’t get too fond of any one particular drink. Because the next time you go to the booze shop they will be out of it and you’ll have to change again…

You have no chance of telling the manufacturers what to do unless they are back-yard resin casters who make limited-run plastic kits for the specialist market. Even then, your influence will be tempered by their market experience and the practicality of the thing. No good asking someone to invest a considerable amount of time and money in master-modelling something that no-one but you will ever want. You stand a far better chance of getting a one-off model by doing scratch-building yourself. The skills involved will do you good, no matter how successful you are in the finished product…and you can at least take heart that whatever you make has real value if it is unique in the world. Others may reel back in horror, but they cannot deny that you are the owner of the only one.

Smart money plays the odds:

a. If you have any particular idea in mind, do some serious thinking beforehand as to the scope of the project. If it is truly a one-off for yourself, and no-one else will ever want or get one, you can make parts by laborious means. If it is the start of a series of models, you’ll want to have more easily repeatable parts to make it up. If it is a commercial venture, the parts that make it up have to be as good as possible for as cheap as they can be made.

b. The fact that it is one-off in itself does not mean that it will always be alone…ie, if you make a 1:29th scale Roto-Rooter truck you can also use it as part of a large-scale railway layout with Bachman trains and bad drainage. An encouragement not to stray too far mathematically from current commercial scales. And be careful what you plant.

c. Smart money also knows its own limitations – particularly in terms of technical skill. If you know you can make buildings but not cars, you choose a scale where someone else makes the cars and you make the buildings. That’s not really as fatuous a statement as you might think…many’s the time when someone has started out with great ability only to foul up the works when they undertake something with which they have no resonance. I cannot make model figures that look good, but I can make buildings to house commercial figures and buy vehicles to display with them. I choose my scale based upon both of those other factors and my dioramas work.

d. Smart money knows other smart money. Using my example, I know that there are figure modellers who can make superb maquettes to people my dioramas – figures with posing, musculature, shading, and painting. Once I conceive of a scene I can measure, sketch, design, and specify in such a way that one of the custom modellers can make exactly what I need. This might also apply to other enthusiasts who are adept at vehicles, landscaping, painting, or weathering. I hope to raise my skill levels, but if they will never be high enough I can employ those who already have them.

e. Smart money knows that it only needs to make so much – a great deal of the realism of a scene is in the mind of the beholder. Michael Paul Smith said as much in his book about Elgin Park – he gets the realism right enough to start the suggestion juices flowing for his audience. They do the rest.

All this having been said, I would be grateful if the die casters and plastic extruders would set to and give us more stock of ordinary goods in the 1:18th scale. Park benches, lamp posts. fire plugs, pillar boxes, wheelie bins and rubbish tins, ordinary motor-car tyres, Belisha beacons, road signs, witches hats, and such. I would love a set of plastic or concrete temporary barriers and a portable light bank. And a complete set of traffic lights and crossing beacons for an intersection would sell like hot cakes!

Trash And Treasure Is Never Treasure

We have all gone to the Trash And Treasure, flea market, retro market, bring and buy, parish jumble sale, or weekend market in our time. Some of us have picked up bargains – the rest have picked up garbage. The really fortunate ones have picked up a bacterial infection and vowed never to do it again.

It is a basic feature of human psychology – that desire for a good buy. If it can be a swingeing bargain or a criminal rort, so much the better. But it does lead us down some dark passageways of the soul:

a. We seek for these El Dorados of dreck in the worst places. Council car parks on Sunday morning when we otherwise we could be asleep in bed or awake in the arms of a lover. It is the unwashed bottom of the top of the morning – either cold and wet or hot and distressing, and we’re out there looking for bargain clothespegs? Sheesh…

b. We deal with people we would avoid under any other circumstances. To a man, or woman, they have the look of wolves fattened on babies. None of them love us, and we do not love them, and the emotions are entirely justified from either side.

c. We do not need what we seek. We do not seek what we need. It is all greed or grot.

d. Just as Quentin Crisp eventually had to admit that there was no great dark man, we must eventually admit that there is no great dark treasure to be found. We can’t even find Quentin Crisp.

e. We do need the money in our pocket that we think we do not need. Just today a letter arrived from the water supply racket telling me that the state government will remove a subsidy they used to give to old people to help them pay for water. The money will presumably be given to mining magnates or their bankers. I now need to save my money for water. I would like to make water on the state government…

f. The things discarded by others were discarded for a good reason. They are ugly, broken, useless, poisonous, sad, or superfluous. What they are for others they will be for us, but doubly so because we spend real money on them. And if we want to resell them we will have to return to the garbage sale and become the persons we bought it from to get even a pittance back. Do we really want to exchange our souls for that?

g. We can live without it. We lived without it until we arose this morning, and we can make it through to the evening without it.

h. No-one looks cool at a junk market. Sellers, buyers, pickpockets, etc…All have a patina of naff on them, that they could have avoided assuming by staying home and doing something useful.

Well, that should make Sunday morning a lot more fun. See you at the markets?

1440 New Customers For You Each Day

Think of it. Every day there are 1440 new customers available to make your business a success*. And the best part is you do not have to pay marketing research organisations or social-marketing firms to access this bonanza – these people are provided by Heaven for you. We have the solemn word of one of the most successful marketers of the 19th century on this.

You may be thinking that your business might not fit into the demographic, or target planform, or mimeographed list on the local IGA notice board – and that as a consequence you will miss out on connecting. You need have no fear – it does not matter what you are selling, or giving away with a small charge for shipping and handling – with 1440 new clients each day – and that includes Sunday – you cannot fail to make a profit each and every day

It doesn’t matter whether you are selling sanctity or saccharine – whether your scheme involves animal, vegetable, mineral, or morality – you will find a mental string that can be plucked. Once it begins to vibrate, their money loosens and flies out of their purses and wallets. And once it flies your way, all you need is a fish net to scoop it up.

Often, just a simple paragraph will pluck enough of these mental strings to set up the sound of a full orchestra. Try this:

Are you worried about your children being exposed to secret black government helicopters spraying mind-altering GMO gluten trails in the ionosphere? Are your chakras accessing enough ancient vibrational conspiracies by the secret society – and you know who we mean…Are muslim Methodists taking over the air compressor at your local service station? Well, write in NOW for the book that they could not suppress. $ 39.95 plus postage, handling, and taxes ( slightly higher in Washington State and Mississippi ) will free you from your dependency on Big Parsley forever. You owe it to your grandchildren. And they have debt collectors to see that you pay.

Are your strings vibrating? Sounds like Berlioz on speed, doesn’t it? Well we can put you onto this same gravy train of gravitational unified energy fields – and if you build the fields, they will come. Some of them come several times. And you can purchase full HD video of it. Who said marketing couldn’t be fun?

*  One born every minute…

 

 

 

 

The Contented Shopper – Or How I Fed The Family For A Tenner

I am never.

No, never. Never never never.

Never going to go to the local fast food chicken take-out place again. Their rooster can be as red as they like to make it, and it will not attract my money. Not since the local supermarket started to do two full roast chickens for $ 10.

My wife was canny enough to see the bargain and quick enough to snap it up. I immediately froze the two cooked chooks and planned out the campaign.

Day One: unfreeze one chicken. Slice the breast meat and serve it for dinner with $ 7.50 worth of vegetables and fresh bread. Three people fed well for $10

Day Two: soup the remainder of the meat and carcase with leftover vegetables and noodles. Three people fed well for $ 7.00.

Day Three: Leftover soup and bread and cheese. $ 10, perhaps.

And that is how you get Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday  – 6 meals –  for the price of one pub meal…or for the price of two takeout chicken boxes. Admittedly one needs to know how to slice meat and vegetables and how to cook soup, but these things can be learned by attending a $ 500 Jamie Oliver seminar.

And there is still one chicken in the freezer.

The Little World – Meets the Big World

And they do not meet at the hobby shop – they meet at the DIY shop – the Home Depot – the ironmonger’s – the Bunnings. And you have to be ready when they do.

We are accustomed in the Little World to being done. In some cases over, and in some cases like a dinner. We have long realised that our wallets and purses are merely containers for someone else’s money. We have patronised hobby shops, dollhouse shops, gamers shops, and toy stores for decades in the sure and certain knowledge that we couldn’t possibly live without whatever it is that has taken our eye, and that it will also take our drinking – and in many cases our eating – money for a month or more. We swim up to the counter with mouths open and gasping for goodies. We’re like human goldfish. No need to be koi about it…

But it need not be so. We can be modellers, miniaturists, and collectors without becoming the natural fodder of the hobby shop. All we need to do is adjust our viewpoint and our scale.

As you get bigger in scale, the designs, materials, and techniques employed get much closer to real life. And they get, surprisingly , cheaper. Oh, it is more expensive to buy a 1:1 scale Chrysler hemi engine than it is to buy a 1:24th scale model, but the reverse is the case when all you want is corrugated iron. And when it comes to paints, scale equates in a logarithmically reverse order to price. If you painted a Ford Prefect in 1:1 with pots of Tamiya paint it would come out to the price of a Bugatti Veyron.

So. So take advantage of the low prices on paint when you need it for a 1:18th, 1:12th, or 1:6th structure or vehicle. You can get perfectly good coverage for any of these in the hardware store. Bucket or spray can, the paint can be made to look scale-correct with a bit of thinning and in the case of some of the enamel sprays can do a damn sight better job than an airbrush. You can score sample pots of paint and complete a whole project for $ 5.

Likewise fasteners, screws, nuts, bolts, and odd bits of casting made for many other purposes can all be swung into battery with the larger scales and at hardware shop prices. The oak strip wood and moulding racks are your friend and even the humble MDF stacks can be the materials of your dreams…if you dream big.

I have yet to find a good scale reason for regular doorknobs and bags of chicken manure, but I’m still thinking about it. At least in Australia you need not think hungry – Bunnings does a regular sausage sizzle on Saturday that most of us regard as sacred. Sacred with onions.

It Is No Good Crying Now – The Fuse Has Already Been Lit

I often wonder why we do the things we do. Oh, I’m pretty clear about why we use the toilet and the wash basin for their separate functions – a few experiments in reversing the process cleared that up. But why we quietly accede to the things that the world throws at us is still a mystery. Take my bank.

I changed to the bank I use now because of their open-door policy on Saturday. I was involved in 9:00 – 5:00 trade all week and Saturday was the only time I had to go and do the necessary banking of paycheques or withdrawal of weekly money. The bank had a branch in the local shopping centre and it all seemed set fair for the future.

The future arrived with me in retirement ( yay!) but still with weekly or monthly transactions to do. The bank suggested that I do everything on-line…then made sure that by ignoring such common financial instruments as cheques, that I was forced to their will. Then they boarded up two of five teller’s windows at the branch. Then they installed an imperious concierge at the branch to tell us that we needed to do all our transactions through the ATM*.

We – and by we I mean the older patrons of the bank – still preferred to wait in line to see a teller to make sense out of the business. The last visit to the place left us standing there – 10 of us – for upward of three-quarters of an hour while the only two tellers in the place worked frantically. I was fortunate – I could peel off out of line after 20 minutes and make use of an ATM to do my job – after it had been refilled. But that left all the other poor ( rich ) old people shuffling forward one at a time…

Time to look at the other firms and forms of cash cacheing. Time to bid the computerbank farewell. The fuse is lit.

* Sometimes it is worthwhile sticking around just to see it get funnier. The imperious concierge was behind the teller’s cage with an ” Employee in training ” badge on while we all waited in line. He was not doing well at all…