Cosmetic Changes

Breaking news! L’Oréal is to stop manufacturing lipstick. I was speaking with L’Oréal’s head of product development, Ms Cherry Glossie (her real name), the other day when she let the news slip. I’d had a Zoom meeting with her to see where production of Cecily cosmetics was at. I’d always thought it would be fun to have a Cecily cosmetic line, so I’d sent Cherry samples of various cosmetics I had developed just before the pandemic. Amongst other items there was a blusher called ‘A Red Awakening’, a facial compact named ‘Powder to the People’ and an antiperspirant called ‘Pit Stop’. Unfortunately Cherry dispelled any aspirations I might have to be a makeup magnate. She’s not one to beat about the bush Cherry; she told me that as Cecily was already 100% made up, she saw no point in her making her make up. I was so deeply disappointed that I could feel the colour draining from my face. Fortunately I had several hundred kilograms of blusher near at hand.

It was then that Cherry delivered her lipstick bombshell. Due to mask-wearing women don’t see the point in donning lipstick. Consequently lipstick sales have dropped faster than my ageing breasts. Cherry hypothesised that women were letting themselves go in other ways behind their masks, and we could expect an epidemic of tartar encrusted teeth and moustaches when the masks finally come off.

Not being a quitter I then contacted Estee Lauder and their product development director, Mx Beau Tockser (Zie real name). Beau told me to forget oral cosmetics, instead I should concentrate on the eyes – that’s where zir focus is. Beau wanted eye makeup that said, ‘I’m happy’, I’m sad’ and ‘I love you’. I told Beau I have a dark eye shadow called ‘20 Winks’ that says, ‘I’m tired’, but zim wasn’t interested, telling me to go back to the drawing board. I was so angry that I could feel the blood rushing to my face. Fortunately I had several hundred kilograms of facial powder near at hand.

With my cosmetic empire crumbling I offered my make-up samples to a local mortician and crematorium. I reasoned the dead can’t be as fussy as Cherry or Beau, but they are. The mortician I spoke to, Finn Ishing (from Funerals R Us), said they prefer to use the deceased’s own make-up. Failing that they use makeup products from quality manufacturers such as L’Oréal and Estee Lauder. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, he then offered to incinerate my surplus samples for free. What with the agitation this provoked, and my proximity to some sort of furnace I started to sweat like a politician who’s been asked to hand over their tax returns. Fortunately I had several hundred kilograms of antiperspirant near at hand.
 

Utterly defeated I’ve now changed tack. I have several different surgical masks, each with a different facial expression that I’ve drawn by hand myself. I then choose the mask that matches my mood. That way I can easily convey, ‘I’m happy’, I’m sad’ or ‘I love you’. If I don’t want to be bothered I’ve got one with a couple of teeth missing and a hairy upper lip – it works a treat.

Peachy lipstick Card

Much love to you all

Cecily

Bestpasswordever!

I have a new phone, I call it Roger. I find it endlessly diverting whenever I go to use my phone to say, I’ll ‘Roger that’. Roger goes everywhere with me, a habit I developed with my previous phone. This eventually brought about that phone’s demise when it slipped off a hand basin and fell into the loo. No amount of dried rice was going to bring Dory back; ‘Over and out’ you could say. This won’t happen with Roger – he’s waterproof.

I purchased Roger from a store where the salespeople looked as if going outside was something weird people do and were young enough to think a landline was a geo-political thing. I’m so technologically challenged that two salespeople were assigned to me; they tagged in and out at regular intervals. I didn’t mind, I found them so similar and their talk so incomprehensible that they were interchangeable. I called them ‘Thing One’ and ‘Thing Two’; not to their faces of course. I’d like to have, but the chance of interrupting their torrent of tech talk to say anything was zero. Thing One spoke eloquently of the advantages (or was it virtues?) of each phone until I was so bamboozled that I chose Roger because I liked his colour. Thing Two then banged on and on about security, especially the need to upgrade my passwords. It appears the 123456789 that I regularly use has been cracked by hackers. ‘But I can barely remember that!’ I protested. ‘How can I be expected to remember, fjr843jrAD55HJUb4’? ‘Furthermore’, I remonstrated, ‘I’ll have to pass on the security changes to all the people I share my passwords and accounts with’. At last there was silence; they were speechless. Apparently, I was doing it all wrong, and unless I wanted to see my details, my contacts’ details and all my money disappear off to Eastern Europe I needed to get serious about security.

A biometric method of accessing your phone is the most secure, more so than a PIN or pattern. I tried facial recognition, which should be super-secure as no-one’s face looks like the recorded one on my phone, including my own face if Roger’s success at recognising me is anything to go by. His success rate is lowest first thing in the morning. I know I can look a little rough first thing, but all the other Rogers that I have woken up to (never you mind how many) recognised me the next morning. While they might have considered it they didn’t have the brutality to deny knowing me before slipping back into sleep mode.

I have passwords for Africa, which is a good thing because I’ve been contacted by an uncle I never knew I had who lives there and who is after some of them. Passwords are the bane of my life. Rather than unlocking worlds they bar me from entering everything from Adobe to Zoom – I hate them! I have scraps of paper with every possible variation of my first pet’s name, mother’s maiden name and favourite sport written on it. These scraps of paper have been heavily over-inked with additional numbers and special characters until they look like they were written by someone experimenting with cryptology and LSD. I have no idea which websites these relate to. Passwords, I hate them!

Then I discovered a password manager, and the sun shone and lambs came out to play. Now I need only remember one password, but it must be a good one! The conundrum is to develop a password that is impossible to guess yet easy to remember. I was advised to think of a memorable sentence that only I knew, then take the first letter of each word to form an apparent random collection of letters. To be topical and positive I tried the sentence, ‘Cecily Loves Information Technology’, which while memorable does not strike the tone I was looking for. I had more luck with my second choice, however due to security reasons I am unable to tell you what it is. You see I am learning.

However I do like to share, so if you’d like we can meet up for coffee and I’ll tell you then. That’s what I told my Uncle in Africa, but I haven’t heard back from him yet.

Spammers Beware

The world of technology is a bit like Pandora’s box. Although when Pandora lifted the lid only evil escaped. Technology, on the other hand, has released much good into the world. For example, the world wide web can aid learning, it brings people together (whoever knew they had so many wealthy relatives in Nigeria?) and it allows 24/7 shopping for necessities such as Cecily calendars.
Today my beef is with spam. Which is odd because spam, the tinned meat, is made from pork and ham then cunningly disguised to look like spleen. Electronic spam takes its name from a Monty Python skit set in a restaurant where a table of Vikings – oh come on it’s not that unusual – sit in a corner loudly singing, ‘Spam, Spam, Wonderful Spam’, thus drowning out the real conversation with their unwanted message.
Electronic spam too is disguised, only not as spleen. Those Nigerian relatives, fake invoices and requests to confirm account details, etc. hide everything from brazen requests for your money through to links that will rob you of your bank details, money and faith in humanity.
What can we do I hear you ask plaintively? Traditional advice has been to delete any suspicious emails without opening them. All very sage, but not very satisfying. Firstly, this will protect you, but not others. Then secondly, and most infuriatingly, it doesn’t hurt the spammer. And let’s face it, what we really want is to do is have them beaten to a pulp or made to copy out Donald Trump’s autobiography 100 times.
However, now there is a way we can fight back. The New Zealand Government internet watchdog, Netsafe, has invented an artificially intelligent chat-bot that engages with the spammer and continues an indefinite conversation, thus sending the spammer on a fool’s errand, wasting their time and resources. All you have to do is forward any spam that you receive to me@rescam.org The chat-bot at Netsafe will strip off any identifying information to do with you, and then spend some quality time with the spammer. This software acts like a human, making both spellng mistakes and jokes, and can engage an infinite number of spammers at once. There is a God! And now her eye is on those pasty-faced highwaymen of the internet. You don’t have to be a New Zealander to do this, but if you are from elsewhere just remember that it’s my taxes that brought you this divine retribution, so please, no more sheep jokes.
If you feel so inclined Netsafe will send you a link so that you can follow their conversation with the spammer. While infuriating a spammer is not as satisfying as having them publicly flogged there is a certain poetry in turning the tables on these people that waste our time and cost the world’s economy an estimated US$50 billion each year. Imagine what a wonderful world it would be if that money and internet traffic were involved in education, reuniting old friends or on-line purchases of Cecily calendars.

You can’t take it with you

‘You can’t take it with you when you go’. This gem was part of a treasure trove of sage advice passed down to us from an older and wiser generation. If only it had been accompanied with, ‘Practice what you preach’. Because as baby boomers and generation X sort through the family home, now the parents have moved on, they are finding the previous generation did not walk the talk. Left in our hands is the fate of everything from their art and furniture through to their memorabilia and dry-cleaning receipts dating back to 1973.

It’s been said our parents’ behaviour is the product of growing up in the great depression; they are unable to throw anything away, even if its had it. I’m not convinced. The depression theory would explain some additional work clothes, sensible shoes and emergency food rations. However, it doesn’t cut the mustard (five opened and expired jars of it) in explaining why anyone needs 102 pairs of pantihose or 45 hotel shower caps. I don’t believe the great depression was withstood by staying in hotels and stealing shower caps.

There are a range of reasons why we collect stuff. One is financial – some collections can be worth millions. However, most are not worth anything at all. The items in these collections have a sentimental value, they help to keep the past alive. Historically collections of photographs have done this well. This won’t work in the future if all you photograph are your pets and your food.

Hoarding on the other hand is pathological.  Paradoxically it is linked to perfectionism and the fear of making the wrong decision; hence the inability to know what to acquire, keep or discard. Predictably Freud believed it was due to unresolved issues around toilet training, and who better to explain a pile of crap than Freud.

Baby boomers and generation X had better beware though, because an inability on their part to discern what to keep or what to discard will see what’s left over from their parent’s home assimilated into their own. Then you can look forward to your home becoming a monument to the indecision of two generations.

What may ultimately come to our rescue is the fact our houses have grown bigger by over 50% since the 1970s. Consequently, you need not make too many tough decisions, just take the stuff and leave it for your kids to sort out. After all another useful gem from the past is, ‘Like mother, like daughter.’