Friday, September 21, 2012

Feeling really weary and over it. I was just plunged into a funk by an email from one of my interviewees who'd prefer to be interviewed by phone. I have to respect her wishes but I have no means of recording a phone interview, so I'm not quite sure whether to type her answers out while I have her on speakerphone, or using GarageBand to record her while she's on speakerphone.

Either way it's another complication to deal with in just over a week until I have to hand in my draft. It's the final, final deadline – they won't extend it any further. And I'm feeling really weary and overwhelmed by all the things I still have to write and organise.

I'm basically feeling totally over my topic, too. Sick of looking at blog posts of people doing vintagey things. Sick of thinking about sizing issues. Sick of trying to conjure the personal 'voice' that my editor wants. I still have no idea what that is. I figure all I can do is try to get rid of anything that sounds at all scientific, academic, historical or even vaguely analytical and put in more funnie stories about me, my family and friends. Maybe use some colloquial language. Crack some gags. Bah! the thought just makes me want to mash my keyboard with my head.

And I'm sick of thinking and writing, more generally. I agreed to write a 4,000 word essay because I thought I'd have handed in my draft by now and I'd have these two weeks to write the essay. Idiotically my essay is about something completely different to the book that requires extra background work (mainly just watching movies). Honestly I feel tuckered out at just the thought of having to summon the brainpower to write in any organised way and say something interesting.

I'm sick of sitting at my damn computer. My elbows hurt. My back hurts. My knees hurt. I'm sick of the dry taste in my mouth from all the tannins in the endless cups of tea I'm making just to break up the time. I'm sick of all the all-nighters. I resent that horrible moment when you hear birds singing and realise the sky's got light and there's no point going to bed now so you might as well just power through.

This morning I got my work done about 45 mins before I had to leave for a screening, so I thought I'd 'just lie down for a little while' and of course I woke up four hours later having missed the whole thing. My film buddies are talking about all these films they've seen and of course I haven't seen anything except the stuff I have to review.

I think I'm grinding my teeth.

I can't bear the cat fur and shredded cardboard that's everywhere over the carpet but I just can't summon the energy to get out the vacuum cleaner. I guess I'll have to at some stage, though, because I'm hosting book club on Sunday and also I have a house inspection next Friday.

Time to order a pizza.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rat coffee. As I may have mentioned, I refer to any nasty-tasting beverage as 'rat drink', especially coffee. I am drinking a goddamned rat coffee right now, trying grimly to get my $3.50 worth. I'm not sure what the problem is with it – I think the coffee has been packed too tightly and has burnt.

It comes from the closest cafe to my house, Big Harvest. Natalya took me there when I first moved into the house. Their food is very right-on and healthy, which means I mainly go there when I feel I need to improve my diet. They do a really nice spanakopita and vegetarian lasagne, and some delicious salads, but it's a total crapshoot as to whether a given day's salad options will contain something tasty or something dreary and bland, like a giant bowl of chickpeas and another giant bowl of grated beetroot. 

Lately I have been going there almost every day because I have just been slaughtering myself trying to get my book finished – all-nighters and semi-all-nighters for the last couple of weeks – and I couldn't face having to prepare my own lunch.

Anyway. They have several different people working there, and only one lady makes the rat coffee. She is somewhat older, and I think she is a country or blues singer because she often sings loudly along with the music playing in the cafe and talks about her upcoming gigs. She is very nice except she just can't make coffee to save herself. I don't want to make a fuss about it because she also seems like the sort of person who would take offence if you insulted her coffee-making skills. 

On Thursday or Friday (it's a blur) I went there and some doofus with dreadlocks made me a truly dreadful coffee. I suspected how bad it was going to be when I could hear the milk steamer screaming like an abused child. (Done properly, it should make a gentle hissing sound.) When he finally wobbled the damn thing over to me (with no teaspoon on the saucer), it looked like this:

The reason that caffe lattes are served in a glass is so you can see the head is a pale brown. (Also, it's to ensure the right temperature; if the glass is too hot to pick up, the milk is probably burnt.) Because lattes are made by 'fusing' the coffee with steam-aerated milk, as the hot milk separates it should carry the colour of the coffee with it. In a well poured latte, you can observe the milk 'falling' as the drink arrives. Any latte with a white head is shit because it means the milk hasn't been aerated properly – the barista has just poured flat milk into the glass and topped it with froth scooped from the jug. And no latte should have so little foam on top. I didn't order a flat white.

Jeez it was horrible. Both watery and burnt-tasting. I actually piped up and told the other chick that the coffee had been bad, and she made me a replacement coffee that was very nice.

So today when I went back, both this good-coffee chick and the bad-coffee lady were working. I timed my takeaway coffee request for when the bad-coffee lady was busy serving someone else so the good-coffee lady could make it. She went, "Great, I'll just get [bad-coffee lady] to make it," and so MY CRAFTY EFFORTS WERE IN VAIN AS I HAD TO DRINK THE FUCKING RAT COFFEE ANYWAY.

I couldn't exactly go, "Well, actually, if she's going to make it I don't want it after all," because she was right there and would no doubt have taken offence. Oh god, to watch her faffing about putting a fancy rosette on my takeaway coffee with a spoon when most of it would end up on the inside of the lid! And knowing that I was going to have to take this gross coffee away with me!

You might be thinking, "Why keep going back to a cafe that makes terrible coffee?" 1) The food is nice, and I need all the vegetables and pulses I can get; 2) The rat-coffee lady does not work there every day, and I never know when she'll be there.

Ahhhh, truly this is why I have a blog – to bang on about this crap.

Facebook spam: an adventure. Earlier tonight I saw this person crop up as one of Facebook's suggested "People You May Know".

Clearly I do not know this person. Indeed, her misspelled name pains me to look at. She only has three Facebook friends, and I am not friends with any of them. Surely someone whose charms are so… evident would have more than three friends! Haters gonna hate?

I Googled her name and the school name and got nothing. I also Google Image Searched the name and while I was truly despondent to see how many babies have been damned to this misspelled name, I did not see that pic or any others that could be of the same chick.

By the way, when I Google these kinds of names and see the things their owners post on the internet, I realise what an ivory tower of cultural capital I inhabit. Or rather – because I'm trying to be nice – language is evolving, and perhaps there's another kind of cultural capital that's expressed via semi-literacy.

For instance, from the website of a bakery whose trading name was registered to someone with the mystery name: "With Chstrmas fast upon us…" (ERMAHGERD CHSTRMAS) And a blogger with the mystery name writes: "Time and love cant be taken for granite."

I was going to simply upload my screen grab to Facebook as a comment that the 'People You May Know' function doesn't work very well, but then I couldn't remember the chick's name in the pic so I tried to find the profile again. That's when I saw this pneumatic lovely.

It looks like the same person (note the same suburb) – but how could the profile have changed so dramatically in just a few minutes? Surely this is Facebook spam.

I'm used to identifying and reporting Twitter spam accounts – they usually have ridiculous misspelled names, generic-looking bikini/lingerie profile pics, zero or almost no followers, and usernames that don't match their stated name (eg @christy6969 – "Serah Ranoldo"). All they tweet are links.

Buying and selling Twitter followers is a notorious practice that cashes in on the tendency of nuff-nuffs to think that the number of followers you have on Twitter actually means anything. As a Fast Company reporter recently discovered, spammers get the cute-lady profile pics by trawling through abandoned MySpazz profiles, online modelling portfolios, glamour photo shoots and low-level sex sites.

I ran the profile pic through TinEye, the reverse image search, and it appears on 73 other websites. These include various prostitution, hookup and porn sites, a thread called "More sea hags" on a powerboating forum, a post called "Tata Thursday" on a boorish clickbait blog directed at dudes, and an insane conspiracy theory blog where it's tagged "God", "Illuminati", "magic" and "Yahweh" and claimed to carry the subliminal message "Give me your planet!"

Who can say what the original source is. The pic also appears in a (technically worksafe) ad for an escort in Orange County: "I'm Amber.... these pics are 100% mine." Yeah, right. The phone number in the ad is a genuine OC number, though.

Sometimes these fake follower mills will also sell Facebook 'likes'. And I suppose for that, they have to create fake Facebook accounts. In March 2012, Facebook admitted it had more than 40 million fake accounts (that's 5-6 per cent of all users). And that's just the officially admitted figure – the real number is likely to be higher still.

What does this mean for a company that trades on its users' transparency and authenticity? Somehow, I figured that Facebook's walled garden would catch ham-fisted bots, and would never actively recommend them to real users.

I think the reason Facebook recommended this spam lady to me is that one of her 'friends' is a silly sausage from outer-eastern Melbourne who has the same surname as me. Perhaps Facebook thinks we are related. I can assure you we are not. He is a first-year uni student and part-time promoter at a city bar that honestly I assumed had gone out of business because it always looks closed every time I go past.

His Facebook profile depressed me; he has not made much private, so I was treated to his moronic status updates and gurning selfies, including a pic of him n00d except for a towel over the crotch. Some of the Pages he 'likes' include Sluts Embarrassing Themselves, Seeing your ex walking the dog and thinking, whose walking who? and Don't chop the Dinosaur Daddy! "ill chop whatever i want you little cunt".

Here are some of the other things he posts:

Don't make me lough! (By the way, that lady with the same surname is his mum. I 'luv' how well she has taught her son to respect women.)


Another one of his Facebook 'interests' is "seeing a hot person near your house and wondering if they live near you". Clearly he figured that if a hot girl says she's from a neighbouring suburb, why not friend her? After all, it's easier than working out. But like MORE FOOL HIM SHE IS A SPAMBOT AND I HAVE REPORTED HER TO FACEBOOK.

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