Living in the panopticon*

Recently some cards inviting me to become part of the latest massive customer loyalty scheme for one of Australia’s supermarket duopoly arrived in the post.

I will NOT be participating.

You might find this surprising, given that I live my life so openly on the web.  Anyone who reads my blog or is prepared to do even a minute or two of online searching (off you go, I’ll wait…) can find out any number of things about me.  I’m very open about my mental illness, my health issues, about the places I’ve lived.

I’ve had an online presence for a very long time.  And waaaaaay back at the very start of that, back when I had a livejournal account – gosh, way back before then, when I used to play on bulletin boards – alt.rec.whatevertheheckitwas, etc, multiple boards – I made the decision – a very consciously taken decision – to be ME online.  Not some hidden identity, not hiding behind aliases, but searchable me.

Does this mean I put my real life residential address in an easily findable format? Of course not.  Nor do I hand out my phone number.  I try to protect the people around me to a certain extent – Mr Beloved and my family are not so easily identified.

So why am I so annoyed about the arrival of these cards in the mail?  What could possibly be so upsetting about the WONDERFUL offer of “shop with us and we’ll reward you with these lovely, lovely things”?

Because you don’t get something for nothing, folks.  Every time you sign up for a store “loyalty” card, sure you might “get” some sort of discount.  The best ones might give you, say, 10% off the retail price on every purchase, and if you’re happy with that, great.  But what about the ones that make you wait until you have a certain number of their “points” until  you can claim a “reward”.  What’s happening there?

While you’re waiting for that great intangible, there’s a whole lot of data collection and processing going on.  Every time you buy something, there’s analysis about what else you bought at the same time.  How much you spent on a Tuesday.  Whether you bought more or less compared to last Tuesday.  Did you buy the product that was on the aisle end display, did you buy something that was advertised on the tv last night.   Did you pay cash, use your credit card,  ETFPOS, and did you take cash out with your purchase. It’s all there – whether the big store actually uses it or not is unknown.

The point is, they could.

If you let them.

*The panopticon was originally designed by Jeremy Bentham as a structure where inmates of an institution couldn’t tell if they were being observed or not. (Creepy, huh?)  You might think I’m paranoid.  I am at least aware of being (potentially) “observed” (by camera or by data) at all times,  given my local town’s “city safe” camera surveillance system, various store security cameras, and my willing participation in some store loyalty card programs.

Do you know who’s watching YOU?


It’s been… a week.

So I got my assignment in on time, Yay.

After wasting YET ANOTHER HOUR of tute time going over the assignment AGAIN!  *headdesk*

Fair dinkum, there had better be close to full damn marks for EVERYONE for this bloody thing.

Then – lessee.  Saturday I made a cake (Rose Levy Beranbaums’ fabulous Chocolate Domingo cake, with masses of chocolate ganache icing) to take to the girls I usually see during the week, but we had to hold our get together on a Sunday because everyone had other commitments and we had to celebrate Tammy’s birthday.  That was ok – fun with the cake and pressies.

Monday, Tammy and I went shopping – not something I normally do and it was EXHAUSTING!  Just trying on clothes at one shop. For three hours!  I bought a dress and a long sleeved top to wear under it, and a scarf.  Lay-by-ed another top (and it was on a better price than shown on the web!)  Just wanted a couple of pieces that weren’t so – daggy, you know?

Then uni on Tuesday – the lecture actually made sense this week, and it was such a relief to get back into the course CONTENT instead of the !@^(%# library assignment!  We have two weeks uni break now, so I’ll be using my couple of hours of uni work per day to try a get a little bit ahead and start writing the essay, which is worth 40% of the mark for the course.

Wednesday was group therapy, which is always very tiring.  Ugh. Especially so this week – stuff came up that I didn’t cope well with, and I got left til last, so I was wrung out when Mr Beloved came to collect me – Ia cup of tea and then had lie down, put my CPAP mask on and just sleep for three hours.

Thursday was Toowoomba Show Day, a public holiday, so no uni.  And I slept. A lot.

I was supposed to meet with the girls to celebrate my birthday (which isn’t until next week but one of them was going out of town) but I just COULDN’T.  I was done.  I just can’t do things that many days in a row. Just can’t.  Physically or mentally.

Which brings us to today.  I slept in again, then ran a few errands (post, library, supermarket for a couple of essentials) and now I’m worn out again.

Both of us are in the grips of allergy season – I don’t know what’s flowering but I wish it would stop already, it’s costing us a fortune in antihistamines!  And I’m back on the asthma preventative.  Blaah!

So that’s me – tired, grumpy, sniffly, menopausal, and several other of the dwarves Disney didn’t want to mention.

Next week: More trauma therapy.  Oh goody.



I wanna change my clothes my hair my face…

[NB: I started writing this last week but decided I should get it posted even without pics!]

With much trepidation (but with positive recommendations from several Toowoomba friends) I went to a different hairdresser last Tuesday.

He was lovely and I am very happy with the cut -he spent a lot of time checking out what I wanted and the texture of my hair, and agreed with me that the fluffiness was ARRRRGH and that there would be NO razoring and that we could work towards UN-fluffying my hair.   YES!!  So that’s two new people that have worked out well, the new dentist and now the hairdresser.  I’ve already made repeat appointments with both.

(pic to be added of new haircut)[ see, I had good intentions – but no pics yet!]

And there was a friendly helpful letter from the new psychiatrist, too, with a map and how much the initial consultation will cost (you’d be surprised how often you DON’T get such useful info prior to an appointment with a specialist…) – this bodes well.  That appointment is at the end of the month.

Big W (part of the Woolworths chain here in Australia) had their fat chick (this year under the brand “Avella”) summer clothes in on Wednesday and on sale – I have learned that when you see the big sizes you have to GRAB them or they’re gone.  (You’d think the buyers would eventually twig that all the 22s and 24s disappear, and they are left with lots of size 10s and 8s, but noooooo – arrrrgh!)  I bought three of one linen look dress/tunic, black with pintucks, very cute (yes, three exactly the same – when I find something I like, I stick to it!) a couple of t-shirts, some leggings… that should get me through in clothes to wear out in public until I get sewing for myself again.  (Around the house I can wear old daggy clothes!)

(pic to be added of new clothes)[maybe later this week…]

I also managed to buy new shoes – although I am going to have to send one pair off to be stretched as I think I might have bought them when my feet weren’t at full swell-iness for the day – ow!  I’d forgotten about the trauma of breaking in new shoes – bandaids on my heels and all!  I ended up with this pair but in black:

Homy Ped "Cecelia"

and the other pair (that needs stretching) is called “Nina” but I have it in “dark eggplant”, not this pukey colour!

Homy Ped "Nina"

So we are TOTALLY BROKE and getting through to next pension day is going to be interesting… lots of meals using up stuff in the pantry, I think.   But it was worth getting the clothes and shoes etc when we did.

And just because, here’s a pic of some of my current journals.  I’m a student in two art journal classes that have just started, so you’ll hear more about those in future posts:

Some of my current journals

I put my back out when using the vacuum cleaner on Tuesday (or it could have been sitting awkwardly at the psychologists or at the hairdressers, but hey – I’m blaming the housework!) and have been in lots of pain.  I went to the chiropractor on Friday and he said there was lots of inflammation around my L2 vertebra- yep, the one I managed to break way back when – and I should use ice packs and fisiocrem to help.


Unfortunately, as my Dad says, backs just have to come good in their own time.  If it doesn’t, I’ll be off to the lovely GP to see if I can get in to see the pain management specialist for more nerve block injections.  Meanwhile I’m trying not to stay in any one position for too long – so I must now get up and walk.