Thursday, 28 July 2011

Happiness is . . . .

. . . consuming a Starbucks Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino whilst overlooking Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand. 

Gorgeous scenery and my favourite drink in the world 
(seriously deprived of these at home).

Queenstown Mall.

Statue of William Gilbert Rees (founder of Queenstown in 1861).

Elevated view of Lake Wakatipu

Friday, 15 July 2011

Nature is amazing

As a person who works in the environmental sector (ecology in particular) I'm always on the lookout for interesting natural things around the world. I love being continually wowed by the extreme variety, beauty and randomness of nature. Check out the photo of the Borneo rainbow toad (Ansonia latidisca) below:

Photo and story credit - Conservation International

It looks like a Photoshop masterpiece! Despite it's bright colours, look how well it blends with it's environment. This species has been rediscovered in a remote forest on Borneo Island 87 years after it's last sighting. With frogs being one of the most easily affected animals from climate change, disease and habitat loss (globally up to 120 species suspected to be extinct since the 1980s), it is refreshing to see an endangered species soldiering on in a wilderness environment.

I'd swap them for the cane toads any day . . .

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Chock-a-block of ads

Image credit - Link

Anyone dare to start a drinking game where you watch TV shows like Masterchef or The Block and every time there is product placement you down a shot? My guess is you would face-plant the floor within 10 minutes.

When it comes to product placement in TV shows, some shows have started to take it to a whole new level. This is particularly noticeable in lifestyle reality shows with homey themes (cooking, renovating, etc). The last series of Masterchef made $80 million in advertising alone. It seems the show's key ingredient is sponsorship. The product placement pinnacle of the series must have been the episode where a contestant spills their dish on the floor and Matt Preston cleans up the mess with a paper towel. Ah, but which paper towel did he use? Is it important? Yes it is! Two minutes later an ad for Handee Ultra paper towels came on during the commercial break featuring Matt Preston himself endorsing the product. How coincidental!

The latest series of The Block on Channel 9 has reached new dizzy heights in product placement. There's barely a camera angle that doesn't show a Stegbar sticker on the windows, Black and Decker tools or the contestants wearing Mitre 10 shirts. You may say that that is understandable as it is a renovation show, but we are also treated to shots of an LG fridge in the background beside some well-placed Woolworths bags and captions on the screen indicating that they are using a Windows 7 phone. Relevant? Hardly. I tried to count the number of obvious ads during the show, but I blinked too often and therefore missed too many.

So why do I have a problem with it? I guess it only bothers me a little bit, but as we are constantly bombarded with advertising wherever we go, it would be nice to sit down and unwind in front of a TV show without feeling like you're being sold something. Come on, we already sit through the commercial breaks.

Has anyone else seen blatant product placement in their favourite TV shows?

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Stupid Child Names

Photo credit - Link

This post is not about stupid children with names, it's about stupid names for children (or stupid parents with children). There seems to be a modern trend in the naming of children that leaves a lot to be desired. Nurses, teachers and childcare workers must bare witness to most of these with so many young children passing them by.

There tends to be two categories of stupid child names:
  • Outlandish names that come from words that were never meant to be names like Apple, Rainbow or Horseradish. 
  • Moronic spellings of normal names like Kymberleigh, Jazmin or Taiylah.

All parents want the best for their children, but some seem to have this instinct confused with the want to name their child something 'unique' because they are under the impression that their child is special and different in this world (wrong). There would be no problem with this as long as the naming didn't defy every rule in the English language and permanently damage the child's chances for a normal life. Unfortunately, this is normally the case.

Think about your child's future of endless correction "No, it's Madison spelt Maddisonne" or the looks of disbelief when they introduce themselves at their first job interview as Trixibella. Stop it! Just stop it before I contact child services!

Now of course, variation in spelling of names doesn't need to be crazy. Take Katherine or Catherine, Allen or Alan. Also some different names may have historic or cultural backgrounds, but the name should still be pronounceable and not make my head self-destruct when I hear it.

Bottom line is, if you decide to name your child something stupidly different and they grow up with half a brain, they will be cursing you for years to come.

"So, what's your name?"
"Olivia, spelt Alyvya"
"Yeah, my parents are morons".

Anyone have any real-life crazy names worth sharing?