The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

Unhelpful Advice #14

To check for cuts on your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.


April 6, 2010 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

You Buy Beer, I Buy Books

During bad days, I turn to the old comfort of reading a new book. Last week, whilst dealing with wisdom tooth dramas, I popped into the local bookshop “just to have a browse”. I should have known better: I found myself at the counter with a copy of I am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne. I couldn’t name a Black Sabbath song, let alone sing one. I saw maybe two episodes of the TV show (including the one where Sharon was diagnosed with cancer). I know Ozzy is/was a rock star who took a LOT of drugs and swears a bit too. In conclusion, I have no idea why I bought it other than I have a general love for autobiographies.

I loved the book. It was the most interesting autobiography I’ve read since Chrissy Amplett’s Pleasure and Pain. In fact, the two have similar themes of music, bad behaviour and addictions.

This morning I heard an ad for an e-book reader. I like the idea of having a bookshelf of books at my disposal should I find myself in a situation where I would suddenly like to read a book (like waiting for a plane that has been delayed), but the appeal of a real book is too strong. I like the look on people’s faces when they see I’m reading The Bride Stripped Bare or the autobiography of Marcia Brady (sorry, Maureen McCormick). I like the smell of second hand bookshops with the thousands of pre-loved books. I love the photos in autobiographies and the dog-earing of pages when I put the book down. It adds character, shows the book was loved. I love re-reading old favourites that have highlighted passages- those sentences once meant so much to me I was willing to deface the pages with bright orange. And I love that my childhood books still bear the messages my mum wrote in them; “To Renee, I’m proud of you, Love Mum.”

Sadly, I will probably end up using a digital reader. I am Ozzy was rather thick and difficult to prop up when reclining in the traditional reading position (sprawled on the lounge). Digital books are also rather less expensive than print, with the added bonus of seeing a book and having it within minutes (not that Amazon are any less amazing for taking a week to deliver a printed version…)

On a related note, I received a letter in the mail last week. It was handwritten, using a nibbed pen and a pot of ink, on real paper. The envelope was sealed with wax. She writes, “I generally find that there’s something incredibly sensual about writing on nice paper with a nice fountain pen and a pot of ink.” I couldn’t agree more. (Unfortunately she’ll be stuck with lined paper and a ballpoint pen as I have no patience for the art of calligraphy.)

February 22, 2010 Posted by | 1 | 3 Comments

Outside the Box

I’ve been for plenty of job interviews where I’ve been asked to demonstrate a time I’ve thought outside the box.

Let me begin by saying, I like ‘the box’. It’s a comfy place to be. It’s worked for people for the last x number of years, why do they want me to think outside the box?

Once, conformity was something everyone did. If you were a rebel, bad things happened to you (even worse if you were a Rebel Without A Cause). In business, they require you to be in a box. If McDonalds employees thought for themselves, imagine the mess we’d be in. McDonalds works because they have  a business model, which is adhered to all around the world. Love it or hate it, you cannot deny that it is one of the world’s top recognised brands and top-selling businesses.

Sure, we also need pioneers. Richard Branson has done quite well for himself whilst not following The Rules. If an employee has a suggestion, he listens to it personally (or reads it via email, more like) and has been known to incorporate ideas into Virgin business. So aside from the free thinkers, the rebels, the pioneers; do employers actually want you to think outside the box? Would they reward the employee? Good ideas and selling techniques is something they all want- but to what cost to the smarty pants who thought of it? Maybe I should go into commission-based sales intead.

January 22, 2010 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Are tattoos the new black?

Once upon a time, in a little place called Australia, the tattoo was a small, black symbol easily concealed under clothes. It was worn by a select few, usually bikies, gang members and other people rebelling against society. A few people had tattoos from an earlier time: WWII.

Fast forward to 2010. The once easily concealable tat has become large, colourful, intricate and available for the world to see. They appear covering a whole arm (the “sleeve”), backs of necks, lower back (the “tramp stamp”), ankles, wrists, shoulder blades, necks, ears and even eyebrows can be tattooed on. No longer are the tattooed rebelling against society; they are becoming the norm. It is not confined to ‘bogans’- those in socioeconomic sub-societies akin to the US trailor park set.

Whilst bogans seem to have the monopoly on certain types of tattoos (namely the tramp stamp), tattoos in general are popping up in the least likely of places. Everyone from the checkout chick to the top executives sport tattoos. Hopefully the tats bear witness to sacred symbolism meaningful to the wearer and not the result of a drunken night out with the mates. Tribal tattoos have always been common among the Island nations, such as Samoa and New Zealand Maoris. Such tribal tats are now sported by increasing numbers of barely pubescent teens. Maybe it’s the new rite of passage?

Faces, names and nature seem to be the most popular choices. Johnny Rzeznik from the band Goo Goo Dolls has a tattoo of a Picasso painting on his arm. Faces of wise men or Native Americans adorn many an arm. Names of children and loved ones can be seen on necks and lower backs. Even the dates of birth of children are remembered in permanent ink on a felshy body part. Or, if you’re Angelina Jolie, the latitudes of where your children were born.

Increasingly, meaningful phrases are being tattooed along arms and necks. Stan Walker, the 2009 Australian Idol, has a Maori word engraved on his neck. Other popular phrases include, “Enjoy life”, “No regrets” (ha! Will they feel that way when they’re 50 and their skin is sagging?), “Such is life” and “Pay before you enter” (you can imagine where this one was tattooed…)

There are numerous blogs on the internet with badly spelled tattoos. I’ve yet to see one in real life but I’m sure they’re out there. You don’t need a PhD to become a tattooist; you don’t even have to pass a spelling test.

The new craze of having UV ink embedded in your body for the sake of art is undeniably cool and repulsive at the same time. The ink is invisible in normal light but clearly visible under those black lights seen in nightclubs. I suppose it’s really only useful if you club a lot and wish to look like a tool in front of hot chicks at the bar.

A friend of mine had her boyfriend’s name tattooed on her hip. She was 16 when it was done. Every person she knew tried to talk her out of it. She knew all the reasons but her reasoning was, she’d always remember him as her first real boyfriend- tat or no tat. (They’re still together five years later.)

When the current generation of 20-somethings reach middle age, their skin starts to sag, the ink has faded and their kids ask “Why?” (or “Who’s Mary?”) maybe they’ll feel differently about their decision to ink their skin. Maybe tattoo removal will have improved, both in price and efficacy. Until then, the parade of skin art will continue to fascinate, repulse and satisfy me.

(I’m still thinking of getting the tat on my wrist…)

January 14, 2010 Posted by | 1 | 2 Comments

Welcome to 2010!

I love new years. They bring such hope. We try to forget the pain and shittiness (‘cuse my French) of the previous year and make all sorts of promises to ourselves to rectify these mistakes, make our lives better and generally be better people. Unfortunately, unless you plan on going on The Biggest Loser, you may not actually succeed in these dreams. Shocking right?

2009 was not a good year for me. I’ve made similar promises to myself and so far have avoided all temptations of junk food. Difficult for certain times of the month…

Year ago, I heard a saying that whatever you’re doing on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve is what the rest of the year will be like. Last year (only 3 days ago…) I was sitting on Sanur beach in Bali, surrounded by hundreds of people letting off fireworks, listening to a Balinese reggae band play “Down Under” and enjoying a cocktail as I did so. Hopefully, the pattern is set for 2010!

Since I’ve been back from Bali, ideas have been flowing through my head like cocktails in a Balinese bar (freely flowing, that is). In 2010, Year of the Superfox, I shall be creating an umbrella under which businesses will sit. Diamond Copywriting, of course, plus a couple of other things that have been sitting in my head for a couple of years. Now feels like the right time to get them going. I have the time, they require little start up costs; the only thing I lack is the confidence to get them going. However, I don’t want to be on my deathbed thinking “I coulda been the richest person in Australia right now, but I’ll never know…” 

Good luck to all of you with your new year’s resolutions. Hope they make it past the end of January. Check back in December and we’ll see how we’ve all done. Wish me luck…

P.S. For those of you following me on Facebook, I’ve collated all those Unhelpful Advices and stuck them onto a seperate blog:

January 3, 2010 Posted by | 1 | 1 Comment

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, 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

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