Thursday, August 09, 2007

A warning to be heeded

Please do not make the same mistake that I made. By default I opened an ING Superannuation account, via my old employer, and I recently tried to transfer my accrued super to my Virgin Super account.

I filled out all the forms, crossed my Ts, dotted my Is - Signed, sealed and delivered. For those who haven't transferred money between super funds before, the forms require the membership number of your old fund. This is relevant (see below).

My other superannuation accounts all transferred the money with no argument. ING, however, sent me a letter stating they were waiting on confirmation from my old employer that they weren't going to make any more contributions. OK, fair enough (thought I, oh so naively).

Well today I got another letter:

Dear Ms [my name],
Just because you have left your previous employer ... does not mean you need to change your superannuation fund.
[blah blah blah]
We are pleased to advise you that we have transferred [enter substantial amount of money here] to Integra Super Personal. Your new member number is xxxx1234567890xxxx. Please quote this number on all future correspondence.

So not only did they blatantly ignore my request to transfer my money to Virgin, but they sabotaged my entire request by giving me a new member number.

The worst part is yet to come. They actually CHARGED me a transfer fee plus management fees for their completely criminal act.

So my warning is quite significant. Whatever you do, do not put your money anywhere near ING or you'll never see it again, minus all their fees. They have stolen my super and I'm not sure what approach to take, but I'm not going to bend over and make it easy for them to [you know what].

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

High school graduates all stupid.

A large chunk of what I learned in high school is no longer stored in my memory banks 12 years down the track. There were some things of specific interest to me that I retained, but most of the maths equations and chemical formulas have long since gone by the way of the dodo. Even the subjects I enjoyed had limited impact on me. I doubt I could name every internal feature of an animal cell or list the geological eras in chronological order. I can’t tell you the exact dates of Dadaism or quote any poems in full.

I put my inability to recall most of what I learned in school down to the fact that it hasn’t proven particularly useful throughout the course of my life. In fact, I’m sort of finding out that most of the knowledge I really need in life I was never taught at all.

I am currently feeling like a complete dope because I’m facing aspects of life I know nothing about, like buying a house and entering a 30-year mortgage.

I tried researching online a little, but the jargon got me down. Offset this and standard variable that. I ended up signing up to be contacted by a financial adviser for some free, no-obligation information. He called me pretty promptly and explained some terminology to me, but I was just glad he couldn’t see my face and is unlikely to ever meet me, because I feel a tad stupid.

My friends recently bought a house and I asked them “How did you do it?” When you’re a little kiddy it never crosses your mind that something like living in your own house could prove the most mind-warping experience ever. I wish I studied at least one subject in economics at university. I feel like all those people who studied economics have a distinct advantage over me.

I don’t really understand what school is all about. Yes, they teach you the basic of adding, how to use a pencil or hold a paint brush, some fundamentals about the layout of the world and a few other things that make good foundations for life, but all that stuff comes from Primary school. What are they teaching us in High school?

The things I wish I learned that I never did include LOTS to do with investing and smart ways to spend money (to avoid being the guy who won $10 million in the lottery and has blown it all in 8 years on incredibly bad advice), how to win friends and influence people (there’s a book, but it’s sexist, racist and horribly out-dated), ways to live without harming animals and the environment, how to cook (not just pizza, but how to use ingredients creatively), how to publish a book, how to design my own clothes, make patterns and sew, how world events and history has influenced local and global economies (to avoid future investment disasters), etc etc etc.

I’m sorry, Ms Maths Teacher, but I never did find a use for the trigonometric sine function of 3dx on 2dy to the inverse power of negative 9. Why didn’t you just teach me how to buy a house?

Friday, October 06, 2006

80,000 Americans killed

The big tsunami. You know which one. Donations poured in from around the world. India asked the world to stop sending money, they had too much, they could afford their own rebuilding, and yet still the money poured in. Where did it go? To the big tourist areas, those places we’ve been, or at the very least heard of.

A year ago an earthquake struck Kashmir and 80,000 people died. Have a look at that number in words, perhaps it will have more of an impact. EIGHTY THOUSAND. No, even spelt out in capitals it still fails to strike. Why?

Where’s Kashmir?

Kashmir is a disputed part of the Indian / Pakistan border territory lying in the Himalayan mountain range. Apparently an area of great beauty at the best of times, it has become a living hell for the nearly 2 million, TWO MILLION, people left homeless after that savage earthquake destroyed countless lives and homes.

Why care?

Can you even imagine what the impact would be on everyone you knew and life as you knew it if 80,000 people in your state were killed? Can you??

I read about this in recent news articles hidden in the back-pages of the world wide web and I feel sick and sad at once. We, and I use the term inclusive of myself, have forsaken these people, offered them little (if anything) in support or aid and left them to fend for themselves against the most inconceivable of odds.

They are about to face their second winter in makeshift tents. They had little to begin with but their supplies dwindle daily, their tents are leaking and winter in the Himalayas approaches fast. How can these amazing people have survived? I don’t know, you and I would probably curl up into a little ball and perish in a week, but now they’re facing winter and they must be asking themselves “how can we make it?”

I don’t know how much they need. I can’t really fathom 2 million people struggling for survival. I’ve never seen (or even heard) anything like it. It’s such a phenomenal number that it’s hard to accept it’s even real, but it is. This is reality for so many people.

What can I give and who can I give it to?

Please consider donating anything you can to Oxfam, a global charity supported by world governments and aid organisations. Oxfam – Donate now and help thousands of people much less fortunate than yourself.

Did I say 80,000 Americans killed? Wooops, but since you're here, you might as well care!!!

Related: One Year Later, Pakistan's Earthquake Survivors Still Lack Proper Shelter

Friday, September 29, 2006

Flight attendants join mile high club.

There are several ways to interpret the phrase “inflight entertainment”. I’m going to ignore individual monitors on the rear-side of seat headrests in favour of something more … juicy.

Let’s talk flight attendants! Have you ever noticed how the Singapore Airlines uniform has a sky-high split that reveals everything up to heaven when the stewardess takes a step, the cool sarong sweeping across the silky tanned skin of the towering beauty’s upper thigh?

The more corporate looking uniforms associated with airlines like Qantas and British Airways hold there own in the realm of male fantasies. Those skirts lift to reveal a tantalising hint of what’s-to-come when the attendant reaches up to arrange the overhead locker at the beginning of a flight.

How many times have you asked yourself “I wonder how many of the Virgin hostesses are?”

What do you automatically assume is going on when you read the following headline: Qantas jet crew 'had sex romp'

I bet a headline like that draws a lot of male attention. How disappointed they must be, then, to discover the flight attendants involved were male? What? Male flight attendant uniforms don’t show off silky thighs or have crisp white blouses clinging lustily to a pair of perky breasts. This isn’t natural!

Well that’s what their crew mate thought, too. Apparently a third male flight attendant, not involved in (invited to) the romp complained about the inflight antics that he witnessed on route to London. The mere fact that the event has made the news is pretty astounding. Do you think anyone would care if the flight attendants involved had been female? No, because it’s basically part of their job description.

Maybe it’s time to spread a bit of equality on board aeroplanes. From now on, I want to see some rippling pectorials beneath body-hugging polo shirts, bulging biceps erupting from the sleeves. A pair of light canvas pants gripping a pair of tight buns, Calvin Klein shorts peaking out from the waistband with a hint of hairless pelvis on display. Finish it off with two tanned feet and manicured toes in a pair of brown leather Birkenstocks. Now that’s what I call entertainment!

What? It’s just an idea!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

War on Iraq. Woops!

Breaking news: US foreign policy not so well received by the rest of the world.

A declassified report shows the US government is aware that the war in/on Iraq has only made things worse. The extremist terrorist groups have been fuelled by anger and resentment as a result of the war on Isla ... er, terrorism. Since 2003 the threat of terrorism has spread across the globe, recruiting members in the truck-loads as it goes.

Bush, however, denies the information contained in the report and says anyone who believes it is naive. Mr. Bush ... Pots and Kettles etc!!

It's nice to think that Bush can't be re-elected, unless he decides to back out of that agreement as well (see: Kyoto, Geneva etc). His actions, personality and stupidity have done so little to benefit the world. Yes, I might even go as far as to say he's actively screwed things up.

You know something? US foreign policy hasn't been very popular for decades now, even before Bush got his hands into the cake mix and started trying to force feed the world American rhetoric of liberty, democracy and freedom. But the simple fact is, the rest of the world doesn't think America is the be-all-and-end-all. I'm Australian and my husband is American ... guess where we live. WRONG, Mr. W! We live in Australia.

I'm not even from a country that's on the US hit-list for most hated lifestyle, religious choice, culinary traditions etc and yet I've had it up to my frizzy strands of hair that stick out from the top of my head with hearing how the US epitomises perfection and all that is great on Earth. I can only imagine how "the others" feel.

Related: Iraq war attracted extremists: report

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Howard to sell Australian uranium to India

Pop quiz, Hotshot! You have an awesome product that just about everyone wants to get their hands on, but your company's code of practice limits your potential customer base to a select few people who are part of an exclusive club. You know how much money could be made by selling your product outside the club. What do you do? What do you do?

Maybe this is the thought process behind John Howard's desire to sell uranium to India, despite the fact that current Australia policy bans uranium sales to countries that haven't signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Australia sits on a veritable gold-mine of uranium deposits. In the current political world there's a fortune to be made by opening up exports completely and selling off the good stuff to the highest bidder, but laws are laws ...

We already sold uranium to China, after insisting they sign the relevant treaty, but come on! As if China of all countries doesn't want to stockpile nuclear capabilities since they're practically sitting on the bull-ant nest that is North Korea. Ok Ok, I'm speculating. I don't know what China is doing with Australian uranium.

But seriously, what good does a treaty actually do once a country says "Hey, you know that uranium we bought off you, well guess what ... NOW who got da bomb?"

So woop-de-do if we sell to India or not. I mean, they might have Pakistan bothering their borders and all but I'm not going to wage a guess at what they want uranium for. I just want to know why Australia thinks they need to mine and sell uranium at all. Am I alone in thinking it would be better left buried?

Related: Howard signals option of uranium sales to India

Monday, September 25, 2006

Apple calls for podcast cease and desist

Is the term "podcast" legally owned by Apple? Some try to argue its origins, claiming the pod in this case stands for "personal on demand", but we all know that's a load of rubbish. The term certainly comes from the immensely popular portable mp3 players that exist under the Apple brand.

But Apple wants a stop to this crazy overuse of their branding. It's actually causing them difficulty in trademarking their own iPod brand. Apple is trying to trademark "iPodcast" but keep having their submission rejected due to the indeterminate definitions offered by Apple, such as "computer intercommunication" and "access and links".

As a result, Apple wants to claim back their entitlement to the branding that they started. They're issuing scary "cease and desist" threats to companys using pod-related terms in their own branding. The big one to hit the news is a Houston company called Podcast Ready. Many people believe Apple doesn't have a claim to the word "podcast". It's been used for two years without any argument, and many point out the free advertising that Apple has benefitted from this entire time. It clearly hasn't hurt Apple iPod sales, which continue from strength to strength.

So much so, in fact, that Microsoft attempted a very weak push to change the term "podcast" to "blogcast". They were laughed out of town and "podcast" never suffered even a dent in popular usage.

Branding becoming a generic term is not new to iPod. Think Bandaid, Kleenex, Hoover etc. The difference clearly being that these companies trademarked their brands properly. The use of these brand names generically only helps enhance the popularity and longevity of the products.

Apple have a real problem on their hands if they can't trademark their own brand, but honestly ... they screwed up. Maybe they just need to move on and let go of this iPodcasting, whatever it is.

Related: EXCLUSIVE: Apple Trademark Office docs point to REAL reasons for" Podcast" controversy