D4D

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Archive for the category “Domestic”

Advertising Standards

With the whole “Solo Dining” project I’ve been doing this year, one of my bugbears has become OpenTable (who provide a lot of the table-reservation services for restaurants) and – more particularly – their “Dining Points” loyalty plan.

As it says on that page about Dining Points,

OpenTable UK members can earn OpenTable Dining Points when they make and honor reservations made through opentable.com, or our related mobile sites and apps.

They say the same thing on another modal window to explain Dining Points.

opentable_points_explanation1“Earn points every time you dine”

Except that’s not true – not true at all.  I queried why I’d received zero points for several reservations over the last year, and they then started to say (and this is a direct quote from one of the responses)

points are only given to diners who start their search on our website and not the restaurants website as you know. This is because as you came from the restaurant website, you are considered a customer of the restaurant and they use our services  on the back end to take your reservation for them. If we started awarding points to the customers of our clients they would feel that we are trying to steal you as a customer.

So OpenTable are, frankly, liars.  They say clearly throughout the site “make a booking through OpenTable, and get points“, with no provisos, asterisks, or get-out clauses.  This isn’t even me being pedantic about something – they’ve said something (repeatedly, in black-and-white!) that’s simply not true.

This would’ve been an easy fix for OpenTable, if they’d had any sense at all. If they’d said “Oh, sod, sorry, here, have the points, and we’ll make that text clearer“, we’d be done.   But no, they started backtracking, patronising, and explaining why I was so wrong to believe their “Get points every time you book” spiel.  No apology, no “thanks for letting us know“, nothing.  All the customer-service skills of a concrete monolith.

Having hit that concrete monolith with no joy, I decided to take it further.  Having checked their criteria, I raised it with the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) and I’ve now had a confirmation from them that, having done an initial review, they’re going to investigate it further.

So, that’s going to be entertaining.  I’m assuming that getting an ASA investigation done isn’t a trivial step, nor one that the ASA do for the fun of it.  I’m also assuming that, because they’re investigating, the complaint has at least some merit.

As and when I hear back, I’ll write more here…

Early Justifications

Whenever I’m going somewhere, whether to meet friends, or just for a timed event, I tend to be pretty early. Stupidly early, in some cases – mainly because I just figure “Well, once I’m there, I can find something to do“.  At worst, I have a Kindle and a phone, so I’ll always be able to do something with that time.

I don’t expect others to follow the same thing, though – that’s just a world of hurt, because then I’d still be earlier than the expected early time,  and it can get stupid. (I have one friend who’s of a similar mind-set, and we ended up being – unconsciously – competitively early for a while, ’til we realised it was just getting dumb)

Sometimes, though, it turns out that there’s a good reason for being early to things. Saturday was one of those times.

I was going in to London for a concert in the evening, and then booked a lunch at Hibiscus as well.  My plan was to park up at an Underground station I knew well, Tube into Central London (well, kinda – I still wanted to walk as well), go for lunch, wander around London a bit/lot, get back up to the concert venue, meet up with another friend, go to the gig, and then get back to the car and drive us both home.   That plan survived until the first stage…

What I hadn’t realised was that the Northern Line (the only line from the station in question) was shut for the weekend. No trains at all.  Of course, London Underground being the useless shitbricks they are, there were no signs at the entrance to the station or car-park, so I’d paid for parking (fortunately only £2 for the day), walked into the station, to be faced with “Nope, no trains”.  The useless bell-end outside had no idea how I’d get back from the gig at all – well, he suggested taking no less than four buses, at midnight on  Saturday-into-Sunday. So that was no use.

But, I’m well early at this point. So it’s time for a replan.  Drive down to the concert venue, find somewhere close-ish to park, and juggle things from there.

And that’s what happened. Drive down (only about four miles, in fairness) and find a side-road with parking. Permits only, but only Monday-Friday. It’s a Saturday, so I’ll go for that. Check the parking meter. Nope, that Mon-Fri only too. Double-check with the online-app for paying, and nope, can’t take any money for that parking, sir.

Then start walking to find where the hell I am – I know I’m closeish, but not exactly where – turn the corner, and oh look, there’s the venue. Literally two minutes, car-to-venue.  Wander past to find a bus into central London, oh look, there’s one that’ll do it, hop on, and job done.

That entire re-plan and reorganisation, and I was still at Hibiscus 45 minutes early…

So sometimes there’s a really good reason for being idiotically early to things. If I’d been cutting things fine already, that change would’ve completely chiffed me for the day, and been uber-stressful all the way. As it was, it was still an absolute doddle, and everything went well.

Indeed, it actually made life easier – because coming out of the gig, we were in the car and out of London before we’d probably have even got to the original station…

Inspiration

I’m just leaving this here as a remind to myself, on occasion…

The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.
All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.

(C) Chuck Close

This came from Zack Arias’ DexPxl blog, a piece entitled “Get the F*ck To Work” (his asterisk, not mine!) which also included the clip below of David Bowie’s advice to musicians…

A transcript of that is :

When asked if he had advice for musicians, Bowie replied: “Yes, never play at a gallery. [Laughs] I think. But you never learn that until much later on. But never work for other people at what you do. Always… always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt, that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of society. And I — I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations; I think they produce — they generally produce their worst work when they do that. And if — the other thing I would say is that if you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in, go a little out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

Again, just a reminder for me, more than anything else – but if anyone else finds it useful, that’s grand.

Eating Well For Less

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching the BBC’s “Eat Well For Less” series.  It’s an interesting concept, helping people with their eating habits (and more accurately, their spending on food) by removing all the labelling and branding from food in people’s houses, removing all the prejudices etc. around their food spending.  They replace expensive branded stuff with ‘own-brand’ or cheaper alternatives (and in some cases with more expensive, but better/healthier options) and also leaving some things alone.  Additionally, they help people with recipes for their favourite meals, rather than buying pre-packaged and so on.

A lot of it is insanely annoying, but the core information is (in my opinion) worth it, for both the families on the programme, and people watching it.

But oh Dear God, those families are fucking pathetic. There’s lots of preconceptions about brands being preferred “because they wouldn’t be so popular if they weren’t the best” and so on, which drives me crackers.

The most recent one tonight, though, drove me crackers. One family member had been diagnosed as coeliac, and had spent six years eating salads he hated. Six. Fucking. Years.  How does anyone end up eating stuff they don’t like for six bloody years? There’s no logic in it that I can see – unless they haven’t done any enquiries or research about what’s got gluten in and so on?

In this case they were buying loads of pre-packaged food – and I get that more, because they were so worried about cross-contaminating from their foods to his, and making him ill – but with no thoughts or understanding. I think the peak point for me was buying pre-packaged “gluten-free” rice, not understanding that all rice is gluten-free, in the name of Jesus H Pant-shitting Christ.

So yeah, it’s been an interesting series, but Holy DogEggs, some people are fucking lazy/stupid/pathetic*.

(* Delete as applicable)

Mislaid Plans

Back at the start of the year, one of my stated aims was to put more money into savings.  I’d finally finished my bankruptcy’s payment plan at the end of 2015, so the plan was that I’d put that straight into savings instead of into the payment plan.

That aim has kind-of worked, but not to the extent I intended to.  Road to hell, Good intentions, and all that rot.

I looked back this week – coming to the last third of the year, I wanted to review where I was.  I’ve certainly added to the savings, but it’s not been to the full extent that it could/should have been.

There’s some reasoning behind it, when I looked into it and thought about it.  Primarily, it’s the first time in way too many years (certainly far preceding the bankruptcy) where I’ve had disposable income – and I can’t deny, I’ve been taking advantage of that this year.

It’s been one heck of a year, with a lot going on – as I’ve written about before – and some of that has been funded by the money that “should” have been getting funnelled into savings.  I can’t – and won’t – deny it, I should have been a bit better, a bit smarter about it, but well, I haven’t.

I’m already making plans for 2017 to be much calmer, to not be going quite so barmy about having time, space and money. From January, that money *will* be going to rebuild savings.

2016 has been a mad old year, with lots going on. 2017 is going to be a good year, but a bit more relaxed, a bit more sensible. Not perfect – I’m never going to claim that – but I know what needs to be done, and I intend to be doing it.

Four Down, Two To Go

Over the weekend, it was four years since my bankruptcy was declared.

That means I’m two-thirds of the way through the process now, although really all that remains is waiting for it to come off my record. All the rest is done.

As evidenced in a previous post, it still has knock-on effects, but that was expected. I never went into the process thinking it was a quick fix, or that everything would be rosy straight afterwards.  I’d done my research, and knew the effects.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I expect to be dismissed out-of-hand for having been through this process, and still having it on my record. Paradoxically, I don’t mind being dismissed out-of-hand if the company in question is open and honest about it – if they say “We won’t accept [x], because you’ve got that on your record” then fine. I get that.   It’s when I’m lied to about it that it annoys, or when they try blaming someone else. “Oh, your credit score isn’t good enough“, “You haven’t passed our criteria, but try again in six months” and so on. That shit isn’t on – tell me it’s because I’ve been a twat in the past, and that’s fine. Try passing the buck on it, or leading with false expectations, you’re a tosser.  It really is that simple.

As time goes on, though, it’s all rebuilding nicely. And that’s the end goal, really – just being back on an even keel, with nothing owed to anyone.

Quiet, Because Busy

It’s been a quiet week chez D4D™, although that’s primarily been because life has been idiotically busy instead. In fact, all of August and September are ridiculous, with very little in the way of spare time.  Weekday evenings are (generally, kinda/sorta) available, but weekends and so on are completely blocked out.

Last weekend was spent in London on the Saturday (including food at Benares, which was excellent) and then meeting friends on the Sunday.  During the week I was then at the cinema one evening, back in London on another, and handling all the standard domestic tat in the meantime – as well as work, which wasn’t an easy week, with lots of rewrites and rethinks of stuff that had been written a while back.

This weekend, today was spent (again) in London, visiting Blues Kitchen and MeatMarket, and then seeing Romeo and Juliet at the Garrick Theatre. Tomorrow is likely to be a daytrip somewhere, and walking round or whatever.

From here, there’s another meal (this time at Hibiscus) and then a concert, a birthday event, and the Threepenny Opera at the National.

September is even dafter, including :  Meatopia, watching The The’s “Infected” film, and seeing The Alchemist and Doctor Faustus – both at the Barbican, so I’m there three weeks on the trot, as I’ll use their parking for Meatopia as well. Finally, at the end of September, I actually have a week away, down in Cornwall. Much-needed currently, it has to be said.

I’ll be writing more stuff here to be going on with, but that’s why it’s been quiet round these parts over the last week or so.

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