What a Month

My blog has been looking a little neglected this last month as life seems to have hit overdrive.

 

The TLDR version: I got a new job, am riding motorcycles again, ordering online is weird, and David Farland Needs Your Help.

Things I planned to blog about these last four weeks (but then didn’t, somehow) included:

Changing Jobs

The Day JobN morphed into The Day JobN+1 just recently, which in large part accounts for the relative silence on this blog. While my schedule exploded and is gradually being reassembled into a new shape, the new job has presented new opportunities: While I’m still developing software, it’s in a new industry, new language and using a completely new toolchain. That, and working with a new and very different group of people means new and exciting opportunities to learn and grow.

Motorcycling

I like to think of my blog as a way to share my own experiences and opinions in a little more formal setting than, say, facebook. But it also serves me in another way – it’s a chance for me to explore my own ideas, hash them out, and have them around for reference. A few months ago I posted an article about giving up, in which I took a couple of personal examples of failure – one in a glider and another on a motorcycle, examined my responses to each, and concluded that it’s better to pick up, dust off, and try again if at all we can.

After writing this, I started thinking more about the motorcycle incident I had four years ago and grew increasingly dissatisfied with my I-won’t-ride response to it. Now I’m not saying that it was wrong to quit – I think I needed to stop riding for a while afterwards because I really wasn’t in the right headspace for it. But the time had come, I felt, to ride again. So I spent some time looking around, and eventually bought a six-year-old motorcycle. I’ve yet to work out a parking arrangement at¬†The Day JobN+1, so the bike only gets used on weekends, and it probably took a week or so to get comfortable on it again; but goodness – I do still love to ride.

Ordering Online

The motorcycle also presented an opportunity to do some online shopping. I’d sold some of my old motorcycle gear and so needed to pick up some new stuff. After doing a ton of research I decided on, as a good fit for my riding needs, budget and comfort, a certain set of gear which wasn’t available from local retailers (this not being odd, since due to Perth’s isolation we tend to be off the radar for many distributors).

In Australia, our options when buying online usually amount to either:

  • Buy from an Australian distributor online,
  • Buy from overseas, either in the US or Asia, for between 15-50% less.

The way in which manufacturers and distributors price items for Australians has been under scrutiny here recently – Apple and Microsoft were called in to answer questions over their pricing policies here for digital content – which costs the supplier no additional freight or other charges to reach our market.

The local distributor was going to charge about $350 more for what I wanted than if I ordered from the US and had it shipped by fedex. So I ordered from the US shop.

I got an email the next day saying that the manufacturer wouldn’t allow them to ship to Australia due to their distributor agreement.

Nice! So, it looked like I was going to be taxed a little extra for living in Australia. Again. So I went to order on the Australian distributor’s site, only to find that the ordering options didn’t allow for nearly half of the specifications I could apply to the US distributor’s site, which meant I couldn’t choose colour, or certain sizes, and so on. So I sent the distributor a politely worded request for information on what I really wanted (instead of the limited options on their site) – and shared my frustrations with ordering from their site.

They came back the next day and my questions were answered – and they’d provided an offer which was about $150 less than what the US distributor was going to charge – about $500 off the retail price.

Which makes me wonder – is talking to the distributor the only way to get a good deal? Is online ordering really just for chumps? If the online ordering industry kills off retail chains, will online prices just rise back to what the retailers were charging?

David Farland and Writers of the Future

The Writers of the Future workshop is on again at the moment in Sunny LA, and I’m sparing a thought for the participants as they get run through the workshop material, lectures and event. I found it a very packed week back in 2011.

But even more so I’m particularly keeping David Wolverton (David Farland) in my thoughts. David, who lectured when I attended WotF two years ago, has taken over from the late K.D. Wentworth as one of the writers running the workshop. About a week ago, David’s son Ben suffered massive injuries following a longboarding accident, and has been in an induced coma ever since. Having experienced a loved one be through something very similar a few years ago, I know how traumatic this can be for family – and I can only imagine how hard it must be for David to be away from Ben in order to carry out his responsibilities in LA. So I hope that the prognosis is good, Ben can start the long road to recovery, and wish David all the best during this difficult time.

And if you want to help out, you can find one way to help the Wolverton’s here on David’s site.