Category Archives: Business

More or Less

More and Less directions.  Opposite traffic sign.

Just some more food for thought, now that the holiday season is nearly here and the madness is in full swing at the malls. The months of October-January are when I try to stay away from shopping centres, as I dislike the sight of people walking around stuffing their trolleys with things that they don’t need and will never use, but which may seem like a good idea at the time. I cringe because that was me not too long ago, and even now I have a few secret Wants of a consumerist nature.  But at least I’m not like my ex-friend Sheila, who spends all year buying things for her grandchildren, so much so that she had to get a garden shed especially just for the storage of Christmas paraphernalia and presents. As soon as Christmas is over, and her shed devoid of presents, she’d be out at the shops snapping up “January Sales Bargains”, and the cycle would begin again. When we were friends, she used to pick me up from home to go shopping with her. I’d only need a couple of things, but her “consumeritis” was very contagious, and I’d always end up spending far too much and regret it later.

Luckily, all that is in the past now for me. I understand now why some people say they can never save money – it’s because they’re out spending it as soon as they get it. Now that I’m no longer “gainfully employed” in the eyes of society, my list of Wants and Needs has changed drastically.

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This last image drives home the point.

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One born every second…

My 12-year-old son and I have a thing going about TV adverts at the moment. I got tired of hearing him saying he wanted this and that toy, so I challenged him to question every ad with “Want or Need?”.  He’s coming round to my way of thinking now, after all this is his Mum who can go into a thrift shop and come out with 2 bags full of Lego pieces for just $10.  We’ve even taken to couponning … well, not quite. We do play McDonald’s current game “Drop Into Macca’s” on our mobile phones, though – but only to win free food prizes. We do the same for Hungry Jack’s (that’s Burger King to the rest of the world). Sometimes, there really is a free meal.

But I digress. We’ve found so far that only a minute proportion of Australian TV advertisements actually sell anything that you would really need. The rest is just plain consumerist marketing tosh. First they feed you the Want, then when your finances are shot to hell, they feed you the Solution by way of cash loans at exorbitant rates, or 0% credit cards for 9 months, after which the exorbitant rates will hit you anyhow, because you’d have been lulled into a false sense of security just by moving your debts to that other card, and you’d have forgotten the original purpose of doing so, which was to get rid of your debt in the first place.

Today I was surfing the internet for misleading or false advertisements, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it really is funny as in haha funny, how gullible consumers can be. And then there are the real dozy bloopers, whether intentional or not. There really is a sucker born every second, and that’s a fact!  Go on, laugh!

(Source: Google Images)

false advertising

Supermarket staff are clearly not tested on their Math skills these days. I wonder if consumers are any the wiser.  I’ve personally seen toys at a local toy store marked “Was $14.99, save $10, now $24.99″. Or, how about this “Massive discount! Was $34.99, now $34.98″. Here in Australia, where there are no 1 or 2 cent coins, you better make sure you pay for that great bargain by card, where at least they charge you the actual price, otherwise if you pay by cash, no one’s gonna have any change to give you, matey!

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Uh huh, that old forced perspective trick. Yup, the burgers really are nothing like their mugshots. They’re marginally better at Hungry Jack’s, though. Now, Hungry Jack’s advertises that their burgers are better…and they really are better tasting, and better value for money. Their fries are crap, though.

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I wonder if the blurb actually said  the 2 Snickers bars would be the same size as the normal one?  I’d like to see what the small print says on the wrapper. I used to work in the UK regulating the control of misleading advertisements, so this Could technically be a pass, if all Snickers is saying is that there are 2 Snickers bars in that wrapper, and Not 2 normal sized Snickers bars.

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Blackest strawberries I’ve ever seen!

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Wow.  Just wow. I never knew Tropicana made bacon. Oink!

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I wonder how this store makes a living, or how it’s even still open?

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Hmmm…reminds me of a certain hi-tech mobile phone purportedly “Made in America”…Here in our local supermarket, they have bread “Baked fresh in-store. Comes from Ireland”. Fastest delivery times, ever?!

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I don’t know about other countries, but here in Western Australia, they jack up the prices of everything to three times their usual RRP, keep it there for a couple of months, and then proclaim a Mid-Season Half Price sale. Do the math.

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I wonder how many people fell for this. Not too many, I hope! Maybe not false advertising, but rather “Marketing for the Mathematically Challenged”?

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I have 30 “boneless chickens” incubating right now. Is this evolution or devolution for poultry?  Which came first, the chicken or the boneless chicken?

Courting Controversy Part II: Elizabeth Durack/Eddie Burrup

We’ve seen what happens when an artist passes off another’s work as his/her own. In my previous post, I wrote about the controversy surrounding Walter Keane and Margaret Keane.

What happens then, when a white woman in her 80s paints in the style of Australian Aboriginal Art, and claims to be an Aboriginal Artist by the name of Eddie Burrup? That is exactly what happened in the 1990s, with Elizabeth Durack (1915-2000).

Early in 1997, 82-year-old painter Elizabeth Durack (now deceased) was reported to have produced a number of paintings under the persona ‘Eddie Burrup’. Under this pseudonym, Durack produced images of some Kimberley country in an Aboriginal style. Many Indigenous artists attach to their paintings a text that talks about their life experiences, their world-view and their relationship to the land. The Burrup works attached similar biographical information to the paintings. Durack had spent decades associating with Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region, as had her family since their arrival in the 1880s, and she believed this ‘gave her the right to paint as one’ (Debelle, 2000).
In response, Wayne Bergmann, acting head of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre, said: ‘…in Aboriginal law, no-one can take another’s work or another’s identity. Miss Durack has failed to respect the very law and culture in which she claims empathy and understanding’ (McCullock, 1997). Another critic of Durack was Doreen Mellor, who was the curator of the 1996 Aboriginal Art Centre Exhibition in Adelaide at the time when the true identity of Eddie Burrup came to light. ‘I was terribly angry,’ Mellor said. ‘At that point she was definitely representing the work as being by an Aboriginal artist’ (Debelle, 2000).
However, other responses were not so condemnatory of Durack’s paintings. There were some senior Nyungar men who backed her, saying she had been possessed by the spirit of an Aboriginal artist. Also in her favour was the fact that she had been painting pictures depicting Aboriginal themes long before the Aboriginal art boom of the 1970s. It could also be said that the Eddie Burrup pictures represented a huge leap in her creativity in the twilight of her career. (Earlier in her career Durack’s paintings used Aboriginal people as subjects in the Western tradition.) That she chose to reveal the truth voluntarily shows that perhaps there was no evil design at work.
Durack claimed that Eddie Burrup was a compilation of several Aboriginal men she had known. In the furore that followed her disclosure of being Burrup, she asserted that she was astonished that it had hurt or offended. Whatever Durack’s intentions were, the consequences served to fuel a debate on the issue of the authenticity of Aboriginal artworks including the question of non-Indigenous artists painting under Aboriginal pseudonyms.

(Source: http://ab-ed.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/go/aboriginal-art/protecting-australian-indigenous-art/background-information/protection-the-issues/case-study-eddie-burrup)

Here’s a website with further information about the Elizabeth Durack/Eddie Burrup impersonation: http://www.elizabethdurack.com/burrup_6_storm.php 

Whatever one’s opinions are, the fact that remains is this: for many years Elizabeth Durack made money selling her Eddie Burrup paintings to unsuspecting members of the public. Collectors parted with their hard-earned money to acquire what they assumed in good faith was the work of a prominent Australian Aboriginal Artist. Despite what Elizabeth Durack’s estate may say to refute this, monetary gain was had as a result of this deception, and no amount of apologising or throwing up of hands can ever change what happened.

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Elizabeth Durack’s daughter, Perpetua Durack Clancy, herself courted controversy this year, when, as judge of an Indigenous Art competition in Broome, Western Australia, she refused to award the prize to ANY of the participating artists. This created a furore amongst the Aboriginal community, many of whom felt that salt was being rubbed into old wounds when they realised Perpetua was the daughter of none other than Elizabeth Durack.  In the 1990s Perpetua ran the Durack Fine Art Gallery in Broome, that promoted and sold the art of Eddie Burrup.

Read here for the full article: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-09/outrage-as-judge-refuses-to-award-indigenous-artists/5730274/?site=indigenous

Courting Controversy Part I: Walter Keane/Margaret Keane

When is it a good idea to pass off someone else’s work as your own? The answer is: Never. The Truth will always come out in the wash. And sometimes that laundry bill comes to millions of dollars.

Some of us may remember seeing these images of big-eyed children, in our own childhood days. I have a vague recollection of seeing some of them on some kitschy wall ornaments when I was around 8. But I never made the connection between them and the huge controversy surrounding Walter Keane and Margaret Keane, until now.

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KEANE

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Walter_Stanley_Keane                                                 Walter Keane

a4cc5c46ce35a28062d61f353bc6468e17                       Margaret Keane

Wikipedia describes Walter Keane as a plagiarist. And that is exactly what he was. He was a clever narcissist with delusions of grandeur, who in the 1950s and 60s passed off his wife Margaret’s work as his own. The only contribution Walter Keane ever made with regards the big-eyed children paintings was to add his signature to the finished works. Margaret Keane was kept in the house as a virtual slave, told to just concentrate on painting. Walter emotionally blackmailed Margaret to stay silent about this fraud for many years, whilst reaping the financial rewards all in his own name. (I have a name for people like him, but I won’t use it here, as we are in polite company).  My heart goes out to Margaret Keane, who suffered under Walter’s abusive tyranny for 10 years, until she decided enough was enough, divorced him in 1965 and took him to court in 1970…Walter had claimed that she only said she was the real artist because she believed he was dead…so Margaret sued him for slander.

A “paint-off” between Walter and Margaret was ordered by the judge in Court, to decide once and for all who the artist of the big-eyed children images was. Margaret painted hers in 53 minutes. Walter claimed he had a sore shoulder and declined the order to paint. The Court found in Margaret’s favour and awarded her $4 million in damages, but Walter never paid up and in fact contested the judgement until the day he died on 27th December 2000.

Margaret, I’m happy to say, moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where she remarried, became a Jehovah’s Witness and continued to paint. She now resides in Napa Valley, California, where she is still active.

Tim Burton (Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Alice in Wonderland etc) will release his newest film to movie buffs this December 2014, entitled “Big Eyes“. And it’s about the life and times of Walter and Margaret Keane. One of my favourite actresses, Amy Adams, plays Margaret Keane. Walter will be portrayed by Christoph Waltz. I can’t wait!

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane…

…it’s a plane. On Saturday 25th October 2014, as I was out in the garden watering my plants, I heard the drone of a plane overhead. Where we are it’s not uncommon to see biplanes and vintage planes flying over, and on celebration days like Anzac Day, the jets that fly past Perth often go over Rockingham first. Nearby Garden Island houses Australia’s largest naval fleet, and sometimes we hear their jet engines.

But this day was rather different. As I looked up, expecting to see one of the usual suspects, what I saw instead was something quite different, and something I’d never encountered before. My son’s best friend, Cooper, was over for a playdate that afternoon, so I called both boys out to witness the strange plane in the sky. Cooper is quite an aviation buff, but this had even him scratching his head.

This is what we saw (yes, I had to Google it until I found it, as I didn’t have my camera or mobile phone on me when it happened):

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Weird, huh? Like a kite.

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s not something you see every day. After finding the image on Google, I still had no idea what this plane was. I couldn’t make out it if had 2 or 4 engines, it was too far away, and I only managed to find some images on Google after searching under several possible keywords (some of them being such as “plane with diamond-shaped struts, plane with cables, kite-like plane”).  But at least I was in the right area. I decided to search under the name on the tail – Fugro, for more information.

Turns out it’s a “Geophysical survey aircraft, undertaking magnetic and electromagnetic surveys for mineral exploration companies” (Source: http://www.airliners.net) This particular model is the CASA C-212-CC40 (or possibly CC50). Not much information is forthcoming from the internet, but judging by the look of the cables suspended in a diamond-shaped configuration between the head, wings and tail of the aircraft, one would assume perhaps they are to aid in the collection of data or geological mapping of the ground.

Sounds about right. Western Australia’s most important industry is the mining industry.  I Google “Fugro” and found the company’s website. I found some information about aerial mapping from this link.

Well, there you go.  You learn something new every day!

The Making of the “Moonshadow Lenormand”: Part V

This is the final part of my “The Making Of” series, showing the last 18 cards of the Lenormand set. (Yes, there are 2 each of the Man and Woman cards, so substitutions can be made for same-sex relationship readings).

My “Moonshadow Lenormand” can be purchased on eBay and Etsy, via these links:

http://m.ebay.com.au/itm/261630354440

https://www.etsy.com/listing/207677660/the-moonshadow-lenormand-card-deck-by

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And an explanation of the card meanings:

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For further information about Lenormand, check out this list of recommended books and videos:

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Introducing the “Moonshadow Lenormand”

I have finally completed my debut Lenormand card deck. And decided to self-publish it through Printer Studio. It was a choice between Printer Studio and Game Crafter, and as I couldn’t get my head around former’s templates but found the latter’s very user friendly, I went with Printer Studio. The company is based in Hong Kong, so I expect turnaround to Australia to be 14-21 days. That’s when I’ll get my hands on the “real” cards, and can assess the card stock and printing quality. I have a couple of decks by other artists, from the same printer, and their cards were nice and smooth and excellent quality.

Here are the links for both Printer Studio and Game Crafter.
Printer Studio
The Game Crafter

So here is a teaser page showing the fronts and backs of some of the cards in my deck.
Moonshadow Lenormand
If you are interested in purchasing this deck, you can find my eBay listing here:

http://m.ebay.com/itm/261630354440

Introducing the brand new Moonshadow Lenormand by AlyZen Moonshadow. The Lenormand divination system is named after Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand (1772-1843), the great fortuneteller who read for the likes of Napoleon and Josephine. Although Mlle Lenormand never designed or created the system that carries her namesake, the Lenormand divination system is faithful to the imagery of the Sibylla of the Salon, who read in the cosy parlours of the gentry, giving practical advice with regards love, romance, finance and even war. It is a very different system from the Tarot.

This is my very first Lenormand divination card deck, created using only my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone and Apps, and using either my own photographic images and clipart or images from the public domain.

The accompanying images show the front and backs of all the cards in the deck. There are the usual 36 Lenormand cards, plus an extra Man and Woman card for same-sex readings. Included in the deck also are 2 cards showing some card meanings, and also a card of recommended further reading. 42 cards in total. Your order will come directly from the printers, fresh off the press, in a clear acrylic case. Please allow 14-21 days for delivery, as this is beyond my immediate control.

Postage is Free to wherever you are. Please contact me directly if the item is meant to be sent to someone else, so I can change the delivery details. Thanks for looking!

And here is the listing on Etsy:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/207677660/the-moonshadow-lenormand-card-deck-by

All Done With Mirrors

I’m in the midst of not one but two concurrent projects creating Oracle cards and Lenormand cards. For my Oracle card shenanigans, read here. I haven’t blogged about Lenormand cards yet, or indeed about my Lenormand cards project, as I’m still learning about that divination system myself. Rest assured all will be revealed in due course.

So, my idea is to create a deck of Oracle cards, which I will then either 1) approach a publisher to license or 2) self-publish through a Print-on-Demand site. Still having a think about how to get a package together consisting of the deck of cards, a box and what those in the trade call the LWB or the “little white book”.

My Oracle Cards project has passed the 40th mark, out of a potential 52 cards, so it is well on the way.

As for my Lenormand Cards project, I’ve done 12 out of the 36 cards that make up a Lenormand deck. I’m taking my time with this project, as I’m learning about the symbols and meanings as I go along. Fascinating subject, which I will blog about soon enough.

All playing cards have a front and back, right? My digital mixed media photography art will go on the front of the cards, and now I need to create some designs for the back too. Here are some potential card back designs that I created using the App PicsArt, mainly playing with its “Distort” filter which offers image mirroring on X and Y axes, easily creating symmetrical designs.

PicsArt for Android

PicsArt for iOS

Enjoy! (All images copyright AlyZen Moonshadow)

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Conscious Living Expo, Perth, Western Australia 2014

Well, here I am today at my first big Mind, Body, Spirit Festival ever. This one’s called “Conscious Living” and it’s held this year at Belmont Racecourse in Perth, Western Australia, from 16-19th October.

I don’t really know what to expect. I’m hoping to see stalls selling crystals and Tarot/Oracle cards, as well as clairvoyants and psychics of all kinds giving readings. Those are what I’m going to the Expo for. I doubt I’ll be able to afford a reading of any kind, as their prices tend to start from $50 for a half-hour reading. But I want to see what’s there, and if there’s any unusual type of readings on offer, e.g Lenormand cards. And if there’s any Oracle card decks for sale there that I have yet to add to my growing collection AHEM. Or books, one must absolutely have books, of course!

The main attraction, however, is Braco from Croatia, who apparently has a soothing and healing power of people, just by using his loving gaze. For more information about Braco, read here. Here is a photo of Braco in action, taken from his webpage.

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(I missed out on the Early Bird special which included a “gazing session” with Braco, so if I really want to go see him, I’ll have to pay extra for it, if it’s not booked out already). For those who are already familiar with Braco’s Gazing, it’s his birthday on 23rd November, and he’s offering free Live Streaming sessions here.

The website for the Expo http://www.consciouslivingacademy.com/demo/index.php/visitor-information has a downloadable PDF document showing who some of the exhibitors are, as well as a floor plan. I’ve printed that out to help me get around.

Here’s the PDF document, if you’re interested:

http://www.consciouslivingacademy.com/demo/images/PDFs/CLE-Perth-2014-print-standard.pdf

So, for today, it will be just a quick snapshot of what’s happening at the Expo, then if I find anything else that’s of interest, I may expand on it in a further post. Meanwhile, enjoy the pics! :-)

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Let’s go LEGO!

Here’s a name that needs no introduction. You’ve played with it, your children will play with it, and all being well, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will play with it too.

LEGO. (Yes, I know it should have the copyright symbol after every iteration of it). Yes, we all have fond memories of playing with these little coloured bricks. And one Maths teacher from Cleveland, Ohio, has taken LEGO to dizzying heights by using his mathematical prowess to design programmes that enable him to create domes and spheres etc.

Here are the facts, in a nutshell:

Arthur Gugick, 54, from Cleveland, has built hundreds of scale miniatures using just the colored bricks

Each model contains 5,000 to 20,000 pieces and Mr Gugick owns more than one million overall

The father-of-two has never used glue to hold pieces together and avoids using shop-bought models

He balances the hobby with his day job as a maths teacher at Beachwood High School in Cleveland, Ohio

(Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2782102/Maths-teacher-recreates-famous-artworks-portraits-iconic-buildings-using-LEGO.html?ito=social-facebook)

I’ve pulled together some of Arthur Gugick‘s creations from Google Images, so we can all goggle at them together.

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My soon-to-be 12-year-old son is a LEGO addict. You can never have enough LEGO bricks, it seems. No matter how many bucketloads you buy of the stuff, it’s always just a drop in the ocean.

If you’re at all interested in LEGO, there have been several books published about it recently, some of them showcasing Arthur Gugick’s creations. Mind you, there are dozens of books on LEGO aimed at a younger audience; the ones mentioned here are intended for a more serious and mature practitioner:

Beautiful LEGO https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1593275080/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_MLonub1MEFP0R

Brick City: LEGO® for Grown Ups https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/184533812X/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_kPonub17KF92E

Brick Wonders: Ancient, natural & modern marvels in LEGO® https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1845338871/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_7Qonub19YVBBK

The Art of LEGO Design: Creative Ways to Build Amazing Models https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1593275536/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_BUonub02JTJPW

The LEGO Neighborhood Book: Build a LEGO Town! https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1593275714/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_OVonub13YC8MQ

Build Your Own City: The Big Unofficial Lego Builders Book https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/3868526587/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_.Xonub0HGW4GW

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