This hoarding recently spotted in Otaki by Sheryl Chisholm was a nostalgic reminder of a much simpler time when telephone numbers had only four digits — the "4" has obviously been added at a later time.

A brush with fake oil paintings
Faking a painting seems like the stuff of heist movies, but no, it can be a scam that's much more low brow. A graphic artist tells about her experience soon after graduating. "I was fresh out of graphic design school, and like every other graduate at the time and every artist all the time, I was having trouble finding a job. But then I found an ad helping out at a studio called Everly Originals, in the art department. Everly Originals, as I learned from a spot on the Home Shopping Network, took photos you mailed them and had artists paint them with oils on canvas. That's cool, right? Having a real painting of a loved one without forcing them to pose for like 20 hours? ... it seemed like a hell of an opportunity. Not too many people who study art get to end up doing real painting.

"So how do I set my work space up?" I asked a co-worker on my first day. "I guess the easel goes in the corner there. Can you show me some sample photos and finished portraits so I see the sort of thing I should be shooting for?" ... "Oh, we don't actually make portraits," she said. "We scan the photo and run it through Photoshop. They put an oil-painting filter on it."

Note to non-Aucklanders
A rural Aucklander writes: "The problem with non-Aucklanders is that they all seem to think Rodney Hide's monster 'Auckland Super City' starts at Queen St and stops at the international Airport. Your 'Jafa gripe' correspondent forgets that Auckland includes large areas of rural land, Great Barrier Island, no power, no public transport and no emergency services ... it houses tens of thousands of rural residents who have to pay telephone toll calls to contact their own council, who have to pay road tolls to enter the city, travel 60km to their local hospital and who do not have local after-hours medical services, residents who do not have the benefit of treated water connections, who do not have access to lightning-fast data networks, who have no public transport and who do not get petrol at competitive rates ... Yes, Jafa gripe, we apparently live in Auckland and we really appreciate your insightful comments."


Mercury salesman wastes his energy
A Mt Albert reader writes: "My wife, a nurse, is doing a stint of overnight shifts, so to ensure she gets good-quality sleep during the day, I taped a big sign on to our front door declaring, "Nightshift worker sleeping. PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB". The door-to-door salesman from Mercury Energy took absolutely no notice. Needless to say, he received a very steely response from me."