The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Randoms and More…

Everyone Does It

I have a confession to make. I know everyone does it, even though they won’t admit it. It made me happy, felt good, and I’ll do it again.

I Googled myself.

Now, the last time I did that, I discovered I died in Canada in 2003 (which was a bummer). Thankfully, my living self is all over the web now. My facebook and LinkedIn pages came up, as did my profile on ezinearticles.com, and a few articles that I’ve written, as well as me winning tickets to something so nerdy and geeky I’m loathe to mention it. I discovered one article authored by yours truly has ended up on a travel website. OK, so it’s only had 8 views but it’s still got my name on it and a link to this very blog.

Therefore, I’d like to coin a new term: Google Footprint. It’s the best way to guage where you are at this point. As long as people remember your name (which they’ll have on the business card you gave them), they can google you and discover your footprints. Hopefully these footprints lead somewhere worthwhile… Your Google Footprint should lead people to your business website (hmm, I still need work on that). It’s an excellent way to see how your ventures rank on a search, where people are finding your stuff, and where your articles have ended up.

Of course, it also makes it easy for your ex to stalk you 🙂 In a good way of course- they’ll be able to see how fantastic your life is now that they’ve gone!

 

November 27, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

How To Be a Successful Employer

It’s so easy to find work these days. What makes people stay at their old jobs and what can you do to become a better emloyer to keep your staff?

Most large retail companies offer a staff discount. This ranges anywhere from 5% to 75%. Average is about 10%. It may not be much, but when you want your staff to “shop where they earn”, it makes a big difference! Of course, the bigger the discount, the more they’ll buy. If your company offers a service, this can also be discounted or free.

Incentives are another big way to say Thankyou to your staff for their hard work. Most companies give their employees Christmas bonuses. These range from a small, once-off pay rise to a box of chocolates to spa baths and day retreats (unfortunately, these are usually reserved for managers and CEOs of top companies). One savvy employer in Darwin, NT takes his staff on an overseas holiday every year. He says the money is nothing; loyalty is everything. Being in hospitality, he likes his staff to be on call in case of illness and to work overtime on busy nights. The staff don’t mind as they are treated well during the year but especially love the holidays. One year they went to Bali, next year he plans to take them to Las Vegas.

Supermarkets reward their department managers with bonuses if they reach certain sales and budget levels. This works very well in theory, but if you’re in a smaller store, you can’t hope to compete. My advice is to work with your own zone- you know what works for your store, work with that instead of with the larger scale.

A fun, dynamic environment is a must. You want your employees to turn up to work every day. They will be less likely to “chuck a sickie”, injure themselves at work, have less illness (including depression) and want to make the company a better place. I recommend the DVD “Fish”; a fish market in Seattle has fun on the job. It can be so easy to do- all you need is music to encourage singing and dancing on the floor!

Having the support network within the business is a must. An employee who doesn’t feel they are part of the team, can’t get help when needed or feels ostracised is not a happy employee. Having someone there to answer their questions, help them when required and generally be there for them will make a world of difference. This may even extend to outside help such as a team of medical practitioners, therapists and psychologists. Jobs can take a lot out of our lives so it’s important to have a support network before a niggling issue becomes a problem.

As a boss, you’re looking after people’s welfare. It’s up to you to ensure your staff want to continue doing an exceptional job.

November 25, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

The Fine Line

Copywriting is changing. While it’s always been about showing people what’s in it for them, the way we do it is changing. These days, with the internet, we’re everywhere. People read our facebooks, twitter, blogs and MySpaces. Internet marketing focuses on being personable; people want to know the person behind the brand.

Yesterday, my sister showed me a business card from a real estate agent. It was a normal business card… except for the photo. It showed the agent holding a large fish. It was indeed a fishing photo, cropped to fit on the card. My thoughts? I don’t want this guy. I want him to be selling my house, not out fishing! J had a different take on it. He thinks it’s brilliant. If you’re into fishing, then this guy is likely to appeal to you and you’d want to build a working relationship together. This makes sense and possibly I’d feel different if the guy was holding a large block of chocolate.

Still, it’s a fine line we tread in our quest to become more than just the face of a name. My sister had another business card (no idea what the company did, let alone the person) which stood out from the rest. On one side, it had normal things like the company and contact details. On the other side, the writing fit the card. So her name (Mary or Jane or whatever) filled the top line in large letters. Her surname under that; a longer surname so it wasn’t as large writing. Under that, her phone number, fax number, email address. All were in writing large enough to fill that entire line of the card. It really stood out, made it different from all the other cards. Of course, her info was instantly recognisable. Had I wanted her details, it would have been easy and quick to grab them. Personable? Not really. But attention grabbing and easy-to-reach info? Certainly.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment

Paranormal Activity- The Discussion

Please note that this post contains plot points and spoilers.

After watching the movie, several things went through my mind. I was disappointed at the lack of “something”. One of the scariest scenes in The Sixth Sense was when Cole took a midnight pee and someone walked into frame. It was a seen force; you knew it was a ghost. Paranormal Activity focuses on unseen forces. There’s loud noises in the middle of the night, someone or something breathes on Katie and her hair moves, the cursor on the ouija board moves by itself and the bedroom door moves. What’s more scary- seeing a ghost or just having something move by itself? Seen vs unseen forces.

In the end, Katie is possessed. I guess this crosses the line from unseen to seen force. The end is foreshadowed by an earlier incident where she stands by the bed, apparently in a stupor, for three hours before wandering downstairs by herself. She has no recollection of this incident when Micah sees the tape and questions her. Whether or not she was possessed at that time is a matter for debate. At the end, her eyes flash, which in my mind at least, was a dead giveaway. She does much the same thing; gets out of bed and watches Micah sleep before wandering off downstairs. I liked the ending; some of my friends didn’t. I thought it was a fitting end, but I admit I was waiting for her head to spin around or her jaws to dislocate. Again, crossing from the unseen to the seen forces. Then again, seen forces make it a little less real. The Amityville Horror took it too far. Maybe some bumps and crashes at 2am would have made it more scary and less over the top. It’s a fine balance.

As with most movies, there are things that just don’t make sense. The psychic, for starters. I realise he played an important role in establishing Katie’s background and childhood experiences. He said straight off that they were dealing with a demon, not an earthbound spirit. Maybe some attempt at communication would have been good? He turns up, interviews the couple, then leaves without doing anything. Then agrees to come back two weeks later when he knows things are very, very bad! Another thing was the ouija board. A brilliant plan from Micah sees him attempting communication with the demon. Clearly this was never going to be a good idea. After an argument, he and Katie leave the house but forget to turn off the camera. The cursor on the board moves by itself before bursting into flames. Upon returning, Micah checks the tape and sees what transpired. He tells Katie of the cursor but nothing about the fire. Now, considering her childhood home burned down, you’d think he’d want to warn her this time. But it’s ignored.

All in all, I liked Paranormal Activity. I can’t say I was scared, but I wouldn’t want to watch it for the first time by myself on a dark and stormy night!

November 18, 2009 Posted by | Reviews, Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment

Paranormal Activity- Review

Mix an all-American woman with a boyfriend who thinks he’s Captain America, a haunted past and a camera, and the result is Paranormal Activity. First time writer/ director Oren Peli was inspired by his own experiences as a newlywed in a new home. Fuelled by a lifelong fear of ghosts (it’s said Ghostbusters scared him), his imagination ran away with him when the house made normal, ‘settling’ noises.

Unknown actors Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat (playing characters with the same name) are perfect in their roles. Katie has been experiencing hauntings since childhood, Micah is her boyfriend who wants to solve her problems (if in fact they are real). They’ve moved into their first home together, and because of Katie’s fears, have bought a camera to record the nocturnal noises. The results shock them both: unexplained footsteps on the stairs, loud bangs and crashes from downstairs and the guest bedrooms, various objects moving from their original place, doors moving by themselves. Katie is terrified, Micah acts the hero, promising to solve this… whatever it is.

It may have been made with a kitty of $15,000, but it doesn’t show. Using the same hand-held camera technique as The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity has the realistic feel of a home-made movie. The special effects are minimal but reflect the realism of the situation; there’s no bloody ghosts a la The Sixth Sense, relying instead on unseen forces.

But is it scary? Everyone remembers their childhood fears of long, dark hallways and things that go bump in the night. The fear comes from anticipation; you know something is going to happen- but what? Paranormal Activity plays on these fears, using no music to build the tension. Why would they have spooky music playing while they sleep? There’s a fine line between fearing unseen forces and going over the top. The Amityville  Horror had glowing eyes, walls oozing goo, things that were seen. Paranormal Activity focuses on the unseen forces: a bunch of loud noises in the middle of the night. Personally, the only chill I felt was the aircon in the cinema; it was freezing. However, other audience members covered their eyes, hugged their partners, jumped out of their seats.

Paranormal Activity will definitely have you checking the house before turning off the lights at night. You may not wet yourself with fright watching it, but you’ll think twice about that bump in the night.

November 18, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | 2 Comments

Fare Thee Well, Noughties.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that I realised we’re at the end of the decade. Where have I been??? Since I’ve moved here to Qld, I’ve looked to the future. I’m over the past, it’s not my “story” anymore.

However, the noughties (2000-2009) have been a mostly good decade. It was the decade of the iPod, the necessity of the internet, Australian Idol, Paris Hilton (I didn’t say it was all good…), reality TV, Delta Goodrem, DVDs and more millionaires than any other time in history. It was also the decade where terrorism touched our doorstep; September 11, 2001 and the Bali bombings. It was the decade I lost my doggie soul mate and gained a new furry friend. I found my Superfoxiness and lost that scared self. I found some fantastic friends, moved to the best place in the world, found the bestest boyfriend ever and discovered how frickin’ awesome life can be. I spent half the decade with Mr Wrong, discovered not only did I suffer depression, apparently I’m not the only one!

That’s it. Enough reflection. It’s time for the future. New dreams, new adventures, new times to shine. New opportunities, new loves, new lives.

November 15, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment

Life ‘n’ Stuff

This morning I went on a quest for a green shirt. This is incidental to the story, but without it, the story would not have been told. (I need the green shirt because next weekend, I am starring as Donatello in a sweded version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). My quest took me to the op shop where I used to volunteer. I caught up with a woman whom I used to work with. At the time I left, she’d just gone to Adelaide to be with her mother who was having an operation. Her mum is now fine 🙂 Two nights after her return, she received a devastating phone call from her son: her eldest granddaughter had suddenly passed away. She was only 22, had a 10 week old baby and a fiance. Apparently she was in the middle of doing normal kitchen things and suddenly died. The coroner’s report found nothing. Apparently the woman’s great-grandmother also died in similar circumstances. My friend is naturally very upset but has the attitude of “That’s life. Stuff happens.” Well, I guess it does, but it doesn’t make it any easier to handle or accept. Yet another reminder not to take anything or anyone for granted.

On my way home, I stopped behind a car at a red light. When the light turned green, the car didn’t move, so I touched my horn. I think it’s a normal response when the car in front of you is clearly daydreaming (mind you, this was a good 5 seconds after the light turned green). The guy stuck his hand out the window and gave me the finger. Charming. I wondered if he’s naturally rude, or acting out that he was caught daydreaming. I’m sure, had the situation been reversed and I was daydreaming at the lights, he would’ve beeped his horn too. Still, it was an unnecessary gesture from a clearly rude old man!

One more, unrelated, point I’d like to chat about. Over the last two days, I’ve re-watched all three Back to the Future movies. In the second one, Marty McFly bought an almanac of all the sport scores spanning 50 years. He plans to “make a few bucks”. Biff steals it and the DeLorean, gives the almanac to his younger self in 1955 before returning the time machine to 2015: making 1985 an alternate reality for Marty and Doc when they return. Biff has clearly made a fortune with this almanac. Begs the question: what would you do? Amass a fortune, win yourself a few dollars when you’re desperate, feel guilty and never use it, or retire and use the winnings to live off but nothing over the top? I’d like to hear your thoughts about it.

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | 2 Comments

You Gotta Do…

Further to yesterday’s post about Da Sistahood, I’d like to talk about giving it a go. For those of you who watch Australian Idol (I plead innocence!), last week one of the contestants quit the show, saying he didn’t think a full-blown singing career is something he wants to do. He was born to be a teacher and that’s what he will do. Yay for him! He loves to sing so he auditioned for the show, got fairly far into the gig, before deciding it wasn’t his true passion.

In a similar vein, the opera erm, “singer” Florence Foster Jenkins once said, “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.” (Just for a giggle, look her up on youtube.com). Florence loved to sing opera, but unfortunately you need a certain type of voice to do it, and she did not possess it. She forged a whole career on this, selling out concerts and records. She was either the greatest comedienne of her time, or delusional. But, she loved to sing and gave it a go.

The online marketers will tell you to do your passion, find your niche. It doesn’t always work: if you’re passionate about painting and art, it’s somewhat difficult to make a decent living from it. Maybe a compromise is the way to go…

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment

Sisterhood

By no stretch of the imagination am I a feminist. However, I do believe in empowering women: teaching women to stand up for themselves, stand in their own power, be themselves. Why? Many women are servants; to their kids, their husband/partner, boss, colleagues, sisters, friends and everyone else in their life. I don’t really know why this is- maybe they just can’t say no.

I do a lot of my thinking while I’m on the cross trainer. Let’s face it, exercising is frickin boring so you may as well let your mind wander. Today, my thoughts wandered to empowerment. (This is where I should say something about how empowered I feel by actively doing something to lose a few kilos, being sexy blah blah blah. Truth is, I hate exercising and I just feel hot, sweaty and smelly whilst doing it- nothing less ’empowering’). I had what Oprah calls a “lightbulb” moment.

You’re not alone, but you’re on your own.

No matter what you do or say, a woman has done/said it before (unless you’re Amelia Earhardt or Valentina Tereshkova). But usually when you do/say it, no one is standing there with you; you’re on your own. It can be very lonely when you stand up for yourself. Maybe that’s why we don’t do it that often. Quite frankly, it’s very wrong. One day, I want to help women to not just feel empowered, but BE empowered. I want them to know their own strength, to stand up, not take crap from anyone (and do it in a loving way, not be a bitch about it), to say YES to life and NO to drama.

About six months ago, I attended a four day seminar in Melbourne. As part of this seminar, we broke boards with our bare hands; karate style. There were so many women who, at the very last second, completely lost their confidence and couldn’t break the board. I pulled my team together (for some unknown reason, I’d been voted team leader) and gave them a pep talk- Superfox style.

“OK ladies! Have a look at my wrists; they’re tiny. If I miss the board, if I lose my concentration, if I don’t aim right, I’ll break my wrist. (This is true, I have very thin wrists). Now, I know I can do this, I’ve done it before. Breaking those boards isn’t about strength, it’s not how strong your muscles are. It’s about concentration and determination. Not ‘what if I can’t?’, it’s ‘Bring it on!’ ”

Every one of the women in my team broke that inch thick board the very first attempt.

Getting through the crap in our lives is a challenge we face every day. By getting ourselves into the mindset of “Bring it on!” we see through the obstacle to the other side. We can easily break those boards of life. All we need is the confidence and the determination.

Have a Superfoxy day, sisters!

November 8, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | 3 Comments

Useful Things I Learned from the Ex

Today was the Race That Stops The Nation. I’ve not been much into gambling, or horse racing, but it was a common Saturday afternoon activity when I was with my ex. This is how I learned to fill in one of those little chits and feed it into the machine. Nowadays though, that little skill is only handy for Melbourne Cup days, and the last three years, I haven’t done so well. At least this year, my horse wasn’t dead last…

My ex was also a carpenter. This meant he knew handy stuff, like how to hold a hammer, what washers do and general “stuff”. Yesterday J and I bought a cross trainer. It’s a purchase we’ve been thinking about for a while; we felt walking wasn’t enough and now that I’ve given up deli girl-ing, I’m sitting around getting fat and lazy. So began the arduous task of putting the bloody thing together. The instructions (once we found the English booklet; it came with twelve booklets in different languages) told us we needed two people, so naturally I thought I could do it on my own. I got exactly three pieces together (two of them were bolts) before needing help. All those lessons about “stuff” were dredged up from the depths of my memory, vague at best, but somehow, the cross trainer angels were with us and we got it together within two hours… Until the final piece went on and we discovered we were missing a washer. The pedal kept falling off without it. So off to Bunnings we went (yet another lesson learned from the ex- I know my way around a hardware store) to buy a washer. We paid the 25 cents, placed our Melbourne Cup bets on the way home, fitted the washer and voila!

There are probably other important lessons, like how not to be a dickhead, but for the moment, they’re still buried. They’ll appear when I’m ready, and need them.

November 3, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment