Thursday, 13 December 2007

A new post for a new look (for the new year)

Ta-da! What do you think of the new look? They say that a change is as good as a holiday, and seeing my holiday only starts tomorrow, today was a day for change.

I'm quite chuffed with myself - made the new banner from a chopped up email advert for a restaurant, cut and paste and moved around on Paint (the only image editing software this useless PC has). No Photoshop, as you can tell. But still, I like it. And seeing its my blog, I guess that counts for something.

But I really would like your opinions (especially positive ones).

I know it's a little early for the new year, but your truly is leaving tomorrow and has no plans to touch a PC until she returns in early Jan, when she must also stop speaking and writing in the third person!

Well, my lovelies, if I don't blog soon, wishing you a lovely holiday, a blessed Christmas and lots of beautiful moments that will become cherished memories.

Monday, 10 December 2007

My pseudonym

I have a pseudonym! This is a pen name, for those who were unaware of the meaning of this interesting and intellectual sounding word.

As a journo, I kinda assumed I would need to write under another name at some point in time, but I must admit that I had hoped it would be for more noble reasons. I imagined needing to use a fake name to protect myself from the wrath of the government after exposing an enormous spy scandal, or from the Italian mafia for blowing the lid on their crime syndicate.

But alas, my alter ego, Justine White (the feminine version of my brother's name + my mother's maiden name) came about through rather boring means. We freelance to a lot of publications and we sometimes write entire magazines. As such, a reader might notice that ALL the copy has been written by no more than two or three people, which looks a little unprofessional. So, instead of hiring more writers, we just change some articles (usually those we wrote that we dislike) to somebody else's name. Dishonest? Maybe, but that's how the industry works. I know one political writer who has a different name for every party he write about!

I have to say that I findhaving a pseudonym quite exciting. When I have to write a sparkly article on the useless CEO of some giant corporate, I like to fantasise that Justine will write a scathing story of his incompetence for the front page of The Sunday Times. Alternatively, when I'm writing a piece that I'm just hating, it's quite nice to blame it on Justine.

On the other hand, it does mean that some things that I am proud of are published in the name of somebody who doesn't exist.

Nevertheless, Justine has her uses. Maybe I should start a blog in her name...

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Beary unhappy

Sometimes being a journo is great - interviewing fascinating people and learning new stuff everyday, not to mention press trips, samples and other freebies.

At other times, it's not so great. In fact, today I feel like a squashed cabbage leaf.

My colleague and I were invited to a media event at a local shopping city, where we could create our own Christmas teddy bear. Thinking that it would be a nice excuse to escape the office December doldrums for an hour or two and do something fun, we went along. What wasn't stated in the invitation was the fact that the basic empty soft toy shell was the only bit that was free - all (ridiculously overpriced) accessories were for our own account.

After choosing a soundchip for our bears, and having them stuffed and fluffed, we were taken to the accessories shelves by over-enthusiastic helpers who urged us to pick shoes, sunglasses, cutesy outfits and any other bear-sized item we desired. "Oh no - you must take the raincoat too!" they'd gush, marvelling at our precious creations. "And what about a little backpack? It doesn't look complete without it."

It was only when we were directed to the front counter to pick up our bear's birth certificate that we found out we would be paying for these. My little bear, wearing a cricket uniform and sunglasses, plus the can't-do-without-them shoes, came to just over R400. For those of you who aren't from my part of the world, that's about US$60-odd, 40-something euros or 1,770,505 Zimbabwean dollars. In my books, that's an expensive outing!

And I'm not the only idiot that fell for it. We all left vowing not to ever write about the place (except bitching about it on our bogs, of course) and not to recommend it, which, I imagine, is not exactly the press impression a store wants, is it?

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

South African Blogs - an endangered species

Oh dear... You know blogger has this cool links thing going so you can click on a word in someone's profile and be taken to a list of other people that have used that word? Well tough if you don't know.

I thought I'd check out some other SA or Jozi blogs, so I clicked on the words "South Africa" on my profile. Lo and behold... a list of 24 000-odd bloggers from sunny SA popped up and I happily started cruising through some of them.

I discovered:
There are lots of teeny blogs of bored highschoolers who think that the rest of the world cares who they kissed last night or what colour shoes they're going to wear to the Matric formal.

There are lots of bitchy blogs. For a nation of supposedly happy and good-natured people, there are a lot of bloggers out there who could do with a good dose of Prozac. Ok,I know that I'm not all sunshine and roses either, but man... there are some seriously nasty rants going down in the Southern Hemisphere!

There are lot and LOTS of failed blogs. Not failed as in I didn't like their look; failed as in the authors wrote one post saying how great it is to have a blog and then quit. So much for perseverence.

Please somebody direct me to an SA blog worth reading!

Monday, 3 December 2007

First post of December

It's the third of December, which means that my holiday is only 11 days away! I can hardly wait. I've finished the December deadlines, and now I'm spending my days trying to convince uncooperative people to grant me interviews for my January stories before we close on 14 Dec. But, being uncooperative people, they are not cooperating in the slightest. Strange, that.

I have realised something about the general South African and blogs: most of them don't have one and few even enjoy reading other people's blogs. So imagine my excitement when I discovered that some of the poor people on my monthly communal email list have actually been following my blog!

This could of course be because I tell them to in every email I send, but seeing nobody usually follows my advice I doubt it. I'm left to assume then, that they either really like this blog or they have way too much time on their hands. It's probably the latter, being December, and my comments and number of visitors will almost certainly drop drastically come the new year, but for posterity's sake I am going to enjoy deluding myself that their reason is in actual fact the former. It's better for self-esteem, self-acceptance and all those psychological good things that motivational speakers always talk about.

Nationwide could do with some of those now. The airline has had its entire fleet grounded and is facing suspension. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for suspending unsafe airplanes, but I feel sorry for a) the 6 000 passengers that were stranded without an option of catching another flight and b) the Nationwide staff that have nothing to do with maintenance, but who are still being clobbered along with the rest.

So sympathy to Nationwide employees, and rude words to SAA.