Pay Today Or Go Away

Every so often the internet gives us a simple lesson in life.

Either it shows us simpletons at large – like the current crop of cultists – or it reminds us of the basic principles of social commerce.

I’ve been watching a website for a year now – an advertising vlog produced by a very pleasant fellow in the UK. He deals in the hobby of building plastic models and has done so on a professional basis for decades. He’s part of a small company that manufactures accessories for the hobby and is part owner of a hobby shop. He’s also a very entertaining and knowledgable speaker – his daily shows are a lot of fun to see.

However, he’s adopted the business model of a subscription for the show – some 40 British Pounds per annum. I daresay it is a small fee for some in the UK, but amounts to the same price here in Western Australia as the annual fee for our own modelling club. That’s a hands-on social group that can entertain us 3 days out of 7 every week. Real participation without advertising.

This last year has seen innumerable changes in the presentation of the English chap’s vlog programs, but the latest one is to remove most of them to a paid-only status…leaving just a few crumbs of free viewing. He wishes us to subscribe, and probably needs the money from the subscriptions. But most of us also need it, and simply won’t pay.

It means we won’t be watching…and over time we will forget that we wanted to. We will go off to other – free – experts on the internet for our entertainment. Or we will entertain ourselves in our local clubs.

Monetising something is a temptation for every internet presenter. You see it with news services and the internet versions of some prestigious journals. But it don’t work. We can get much the same for free, and we go for that.

Entice us with bargains for actual goods. Sell hobby supplies, books, decals, or anything else you make. If the goods are valuable we’ll pay to have ’em shipped. But don’t provide free tasters and then a bill for something that is just talk – we can talk amongst ourselves.

Sad to think that we might have become such misers, but there it is.

Chisel, Chisel, Chisel…BOOM!

Haggling and bargaining is more common in Australia than it was 30 years ago. I won’t say from whence came the practice, nor to where I wish the practitioners would go, but let me record my admiration for Japanese commercial culture – the price stated on their retail goods is the price that is paid. Would that this were the norm for other people.

Haggling is also known in Canada as chiselling – and it has a bad connotation for many of us. We put up with it when necessary, but it is the sort of behaviour that causes us to reconsider whether or not the sale itself is necessary.

I recently put some items up for sale on the Gumtree site. A couple of items sold, a couple of them did not – one piece was offered as a trade or swap and it resulted in a very pleasing bargain for both myself and the other party. I’m delighted with the model airplane I got in the swap.

This cycle of ads brought what I can only describe as an onslaught from another would-be buyer. The price asked in the advertisement was routinely halved by him. And then on each refusal he upped it by $ 5. A final price given from me was underbid by – you guessed it – $ 5. All the while urgent messages came that he would call in in half an hour, etc.

Upon reflection, I went back and scrubbed the price from the advertisements and substituted an offer to trade the goods for unbuilt model airplane kits. It worked a treat before, and it might work again – and no more $ 5 haggling. I added more goods into the offer.

Today I got a message from the chiseller. Was I still interested? He was figuring that I was under some sort of pressure and would cave in overnight. I’m actually curious to see if he reacts at all to the new terms of engagement or whether he realises that he chiselled himself out of a good deal by being greedy for $ 5.

Why Don’t You Want To See This Ad?

Facebook asks me this question twenty times a day as I hide advertisements but only provides a limited number of possible responses. Let me correct this by supplying the real reasons the ads were turned off:

a. There are too bloody many of them. Whatever shit is being shilled, the fact that one cannot goggle over the love life of friends or look at cat videos is the real irritant. Reduce them to one an hour… and I’ll let you know which hour.

b. They are blatant and/or sneaky. Either way, they are trying to sell something to someone who is trying not to buy.

c. If I wanted to read an advertisement I would google up the product I fancied, in the sure knowledge that I would be inundated with the spiels. I read Facebook for gossip, not commerce.

d. Who engages you to press debt upon us? We are fighting like cats to repel it – you do yourself no good by trying it on. We know how it fits already.

I realise that you have purchased my profile from Google, who sees everything I do and that you are on-selling it to the people who want my money. This is basic piracy and I respect that. But how can you get it so very wrong? I want model airplanes and hot rods and Chinese camera lenses and pin-up girls. You must have some somewhere – why try me out with cruises to tropical hell-holes or on-trend shoes? If you must pester me, pester me with the stuff I want…not the dreck that other people choose.

 

The Price Of Crime

I take no interest in screen crime – and only marginally more in the detective novel stuff. There’s a warm spot in my heart for Kinky Friedman, Father Brown, and Hercule Poirot but that’s about it. However I have an intense interest in our local criminals who prey on shops.

I don’t work in a shop anymore – and we didn’t have much shop crime at any time – but I do visit our local hobby store. And their experience with criminals is affecting me.

They are in a nice new set of tilt-up premises along a major highway. They share the complex with a couple dozen good shops. But they seem to be the target for break and enter thieves. Ever since they opened – and that was just a little over a year ago – they have had 11 break-ins at the front of the premises. The thieves want the expensive radio control gear, drones, and other salable goods. Presumably there is a criminal trade in this for the holidays.

Now there is a new determination on the part of the management to resist this sort of thing. They’ve added steel mesh to the front glass window of the store and completely covered the inside with a wooden framework and panelling. It has unfortunately reduced the lighting to the in-store fixtures with no window light to supplement it.

And it has cost – I don’t know how much the previous breakings have netted the thieves or cost the owners – nor do I know the price of the alterations. But I know it all has to be paid for by someone – and that someone is the legitimate customer. We pay a premium price in the cost of goods because of others’ criminality.

Well, let us hope it stops and the economic pressure reduces. I support the shop and hope they will do so well now that the prices can be capped. It is too much to hope that the police will catch the would-be thieves, but perhaps the scum will target someone else now. Or finally achieve their fatal overdose.

What’s A Club? – Part Two

I consulted several dictionaries after I wrote the title to get a precise definition. Very frustrating. Apparently the people who write them are not able to agree on anything.

A club is either an association dedicated to a particular interest or activity or a heavy stick used as a weapon. As a further qualification, the people who form a club have to meet regularly and take part in shared activity. This seems to narrow the thing down a little but suggests that the only real examples are Canadian lacrosse teams or seal hunters. Not social activities for the squeamish.

Most of the list shown on the last column fit into this pattern, though the Uncle John’s Radio Club was probably just a commercial rip – as I was 5 at the time I was susceptible. Not entirely sure about the Australian Dental Association either, as it seemed to have a lot more of the trade pressure group about it than jolly dinners and picnic outings. I avoided their meetings assiduously. I wasn’t sorry about that – dentists en mass could be difficult to take – I think it was the smell of oil of cloves and the discussions about expensive cars.

The organisations which I founded – the WA Naval Wargames Society and the 42RHRA – were a lot more fun for a longer period of time. The first one eventually petered out when we discovered that we never actually finished any of the games that we started…there is more mathematics than strategy involved. The 42RHRA still goes on very well indeed, though the centre of activity shifted long ago to the eastern states  – this was not a bad thing as there are a lot more opportunities for re-enactment and show activities there than here in the West. When it shifted it gained a much better organiser and commanding officer than ever I was, and as he is a serving forces officer, the business is done with much better aplomb.

The firearms club was an extremely efficient and official thing – as befits the serious nature of the subject. It needed police permissions, legal reins, and extremely dedicated club members to succeed…and succeed it certainly has over decades. I belonged for somewhat over a decade and learned all I wanted to know about historic firearms. I have been able to reject 96% of all Hollywood movies based upon what I learned from practical experience. That alone has caused me to stop watching murder mysteries and violent shows – a distinct gain.

The model making and collecting has endured with my latest club membership. The columns you read here on HAW that dealt with The Little World* were the direct result of an ever-bigger interest in ever-smaller subjects. The joyful thing, as well, is that these sorts of clubs and activities do not need official permission, public space, or vast spending. And you can make your own Little World free of criticism from others. ( Of course you can make your own Big World that way too, but it takes more courage.)

It would seem that the social meaning from the dictionaries rather triumphs over the blunt cudgel idea – at least so far in the clubs I’ve frequented. There have been a few people in some of them that would have benefited from the stick, but that’s the advantage of moving onwards in a pleasant manner – if you go at the right time there are no ambulance sirens in the night or court appearances in the morning.

* Now shifted to its own blog:

A New Column Has been Born!

Fans of The Little World posts here on this column will now have a dedicated channel for their miniature and scale model interests – I’ve decided to open another WordPress free site to take the Little World traffic.

Please go to:

littleworld678590491.wordpress.com

– and see if your computer, tablet, or phone view see the new site. It’s a horrendously complex address, so please bookmark it. I think that the WordPress people want me to buy a paid site theme that has a simpler name and simpler address, but I will just see if this basic opening has merit first.

This column will continue as before, and you can view all the older Little World posts on it just by dialling back into the archives. Please feel free to contact me with advice and consent. And chocolate biscuits.

The Little World – Scrooge McModeller Looks At the Empty Box

I am delighted to say that I have finished another 1:72 airplane kit. It came out pretty much the way I envisaged it and I did not make any major botch-ups. It will take its place in the collection and be duly photographed. All is well.

No it isn’t.

Scrooge McModeller here has just looked into the empty box and counted the number of extra parts still attached to the sprues – variant parts not needed for the aircraft type that was being built. Of course, they will be preserved for use in future projects, and may be glued onto a motor vehicle, ship, or dinosaur as future occasion demands. But that leaves the question of the sprues. Even if you carefully separate, catalogue, and store the useful bits there is still going to be nearly the weight of the finished model in discard sprues – plastic I paid for that is destined for the waste bin. The Scottish ancestors I do not have would have been aghast, if they had existed…

What can you do with the sprues? They are likely to be of wildly different colours and may even be of markedly different composition – at least it feels like that when you are knifing through the plastic. And they are nearly always awkward shapes and sizes – so they are unlikely to be structural parts for future large-scale pieces.

I did envisage cutting off the side pieces and using the long straight bits for paint mixing stick but found that the effort needed to trim them far outweighed the benefit – and the round-section sprue made a poor job of it in the paint bottles. I gather coffee stirring sticks wherever I go for that purpose.

I should be tempted to melt them down again and press them into a new shape if I knew how to heat them up safely and had moulds that would take them. I suspect that the liquidised polystyrene plastic would still not be very runny and that it would not be possible to just pour it into a mould like plaster or resin.

You understand my desire to reuse the sprues is not ecological concern at all – I regularly hunt dolphins with arsenic bullets now that the unicorns are gone – it is parsimony. I hate wasting something that was paid for. You might say that of the cardboard boxes that the kits come in, but I save these and cut them apart for building material and spray platforms so they get full use.

And frugal ideas from the readership would be greatly appreciated.