Cars and Ninjutsu, a Natural Mix

I’ve been reading the history of our family in my downtime, and it looks like things were very confusing when we moved from Fuji all the way to Melbourne. There’s was total chaos over which Australian customs that we should be adopting, which should be ignored because they would taint our actions and morals, and nobody could really agree on anything. So not much has changed in that last one, it would seem.

I wasn’t born then, of course, but such debates have continued into the modern era. For example, the first great debate I can remember sweeping through the family was whether we should incorporate stainless steel into our tools. We had always used regular steel, but father stated that it would make it much easier to clean off the mud when we worked in remote locations.

And then there was the whole ‘car’ business. Our clan had only passing knowledge of cars, but our new family headquarters was situated next to an auto mechanic near Ringwood, so the culture of automotives was suddenly very close to us. Father stated that the family was always meant to upgrade, hence why we’d moved to Australia in the first place, while my brother Kevin was adamant that we remain without ‘wheels’, especially since the noisy motors were not suited to our profession.

Obviously, the pro-car faction won over, because the whole clan uses them now, and even our oldest members have had a great time learning how to drive. And yet, even as our family becomes integrated into the modern era over decades, the debates still continue whenever there is any kind of advancement. The elders remain constantly afraid of change. Yesterday it was cars in general, tomorrow, I assume, it will be on whether self-driving cars can be trusted.

It all just seems foolish. Our meeting hall has a dozen different people who have used the best car service Ringwood has to offer.  In case anyone breaks down and needs repairs we know the best place. And yet, we fear innovation. I simply can’t understand.

-Ashita

Posted in car service centre

The Strange World of Office Life

I’ve never worked in an office, but I can only imagine that they used to be terribly oppressive places. There are those water coolers, filled up with strange water from goodness-knows-where. Personally, I’d never drink anything unless I know exactly where it was sourced. Then there are the dress codes, which stifle the creative spirit and turn everyone into homogenous drones. Oh, and the music policy! I’ve never heard of anyone whipping out a banjo and cheering up their office with a rousing singalong, which my twitching fingers would be itching to do the whole time.

That said, offices seem to be transitioning into more friendly places. I have one friend, Amelie, and she works in an office. We all get together in the café and hear her horror stories of water cooler conversations and having to awkwardly scoot past someone in the corridor whilst not knowing if you should greet them. BUT…her office is getting a proper office fitout. A proper Melbourne office fitout, no less, and everyone had to go and work in a different building while the work is being done. In fact, they had to share an office space with a young, hip, trendy company that designs different kinds of mood bracelets, and apparently everyone in there wore whatever they liked and there was music. Music, in an office! Apparently it was Top 40 foolishness, but it’s still something.

Amelie’s boss really started to come around after day five, declaring that it would be ‘casual Friday’, every Friday, forevermore. Apparently they’re making some really positive changes during the office fitouts as well, turning it into a more casual, friendly space with squishy orange chairs and famous quotes on the walls. I’m told that’s how most commercial office fitouts work. On the downside, Amelie’s tales of being a creative soul in a square, drab world won’t be as exciting now. Still, we’ll be able to hear about the steady improvement, and perhaps even the introduction of workplace pets, and perhaps orca music to soothe the stress.

-Deirdre

Posted in Office

Why Move House, When You Can Not?

I’m having a thought here, and that thought is about moving. Every single one of my thoughts has been about moving: how to get all the furniture up to Queensland, shutting down my membership with the badminton club, and organising Chester’s cat-carry-case so that he doesn’t totally freak out when we load him onto the plane.

However, this is a new thought. A new, and exciting thought, one quite different to all of my previous ones. What if…I…don’t move. Yeah, imagine that. I stay here, someone else can have the special job with all the wonderful perks, and I just stay here, without the hassle. I’ll ring up the conveyancing solicitors, say that I’m actually not moving out of Melbourne. Property conveyancing solicitors are good with moving, so they’ve got to be pretty great with NOT moving. That’s a lot less paperwork. Maybe someone can go early.

For the record, it’s not the hassle that’s putting me off. It’s not the meetings with the conveyancers either, since they’re pretty decent and experienced about this whole huge move thing. And I like their little desk mints. But I’m getting some serious cold feet about moving out of the only city I’ve ever known, to a place with humidity all year round, distracting beaches and probably worse coffee. What if I meet some conveyancers up there, and they’re not as nice as the ones down here? What if Chester hates it, and I’ll have moved my cat several thousand kilometres only for him to be miserable for the rest of his life?

Everyone is saying that I need to just take the plunge and deal with the consequences. Everyone I saying that it’s a better job than what I’ll get here in Melbourne. Vendors statements point to it, the conveyancers are even saying it, probably because I’ve been a problem client, of sorts. Maybe I should just do it then. Take the plunge, don’t think too much…and keep a few friendships going, so I can come back and crash on a sofa if it all goes bad.

-Lyle

Posted in Conveyancing

Neat Gardens Are My Christmas

The Cranbourne Exquisite Homes and Gardens Award isn’t going to win itself, I’m just saying. Everyone in the neighbourhood is getting antsy, and it’s not because this is our last chance to win before…well, next year. I’m fairly certain that most of it is me. ALL of it is me, okay, I admit it. I want our street to be admired throughout Cranbourne, probably a hidden gem. Or it certainly will be once we win the award and people come here just to look at our street. It’ll be just like Christmas, except all year round and with a lot more crushed rock formations.

Speaking of which, there’s a serious deficit of garden supplies in this place, as opposed the garden supplies in neighbouring Cranbourne. I asked the Barnaby family next door if they had a rake so that Susan Gresham over the road could finally do something about that driveway, and they said that they didn’t have much of anything. Apparently some gardener comes to trim the hedge, cut the grass and that’s it. So now I’m having to share my own garden supplies with the whole street, and by share I actually mean that I’ve given away all my good tools and they’re probably just gathering dust.

It’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to start sending anonymous letters. Oh, don’t think I won’t! The passive-aggression will be high, but just so perfectly calculated so as to spur people into action. There shall be curt words about the state of aggregate driveways, and snide comments on how the Iverson family have absolutely neglected the lovely pebble driveway material they moved into and now they need to go somewhere that sells garden pebbles. Cranbourne would be the best area as they’re close enough to do multiple car loads if needed. When your garden is half pebbles that have been tossed up by your flashy, loud sports car, then we have a serious problem.

-Alastair

Posted in Renovations

Taking Charge of Playtime

My seven year-old, Kara, will doubtless be someone who gets her own way in life. She illustrated that brilliantly today on while in the care of her grandma, who had agreed to take Kara to the park. Grandma ended up being unwittingly recruited as chauffeur to the movies, then to the ice-cream shop, and finally on to an indoor play centre in Golden Grove, 40 minutes drive away.

Grandma’s a particularly easy target, but I was surprised that even she agreed to the drive out to the play centre. I can rarely find the time to get out there. Kara goes ballistic for it, though – you’d think it was something a wee bit more exciting than some jumbo-sized play equipment, a colourful paint job and a few bouncy surfaces. But I suppose that, through a kid’s eyes, all this is more than the sum of its parts.

I do remember that feeling from when I was kid. At the local pool near where I grew up, there was a wading zone that featured a slippery dip shaped like an iceberg rising out of the water. I remember being enchanted with this thing, imagining it was real ice. Well, I saw it again when I was a teenager and was amazed to discover that it was only about a metre high.

As for the indoor play centre, we first discovered it while looking for kids birthday party venues for hire in Adelaide.  It turned out to be really great for that purpose, primarily because the kids get tagged with a security wristband that means they can’t leave the premises without the adult they came in with. It’s a huge relief to not have to be constantly eagle eyed while the kids (other people’s kids included) are letting loose, which tends to be what happens when you throw a birthday at a park.

Anyway, grandma had a good time – she wasn’t interested in waiting around in the cafe area, and got stuck in with Kara’s preferred role playing game (pirates versus ballerinas, if you want to know). So it was win-win.

Posted in indoor play centre

Let me give you a tint…

What’s the deal with the sun here in the city? On the days when it’s out in full force, it seems to go way harder than it does down near the coast. Maybe it’s something to do with all the concrete and reflective surfaces; I don’t know. Regardless, I’m sort of struggling with this house-sit I’m doing in the CBD over summer.

It’s actually an apartment-sit, to be precise. The something about the angle of the windows – the sun just smashes the place, and during the hottest part of the day at that. It’s been too hot to hang around outside, so I’ve been hitting up all the museums in the mornings and retiring to the library in the afternoon.

Now, the library, I’ve noticed, has tinted windows in one of the study rooms I like to hang out in. They’re a serious godsend when it comes to dealing with this sun, in terms of both the glare and the UV rays. It’s like full-body sunglasses. I wonder if it’s common for people to get window tinting on residential buildings in Melbourne? Seems like a good move to me.

I mean, a lot of the commercial buildings seem to have tinted windows. I wonder if there’s a explanation for why it’s so common to see glass tinting for office blocks (in Melbourne and elsewhere), but you don’t seem to see it as much on houses. Perhaps people are worried that it’ll make their homes dark and bleak. I’m pretty sure, though, that the process doesn’t make the windows appear very much darker. There’s maybe a minimal amount of reflection going on, but the view to outside remains essentially unobstructed.

I guess it gets cold here, too; I suppose that’s a thing. Melbournites really have to clutch at any and all slivers of available sun over winter, so I can understand that they’re afraid of restricting their access to vitamin D. Still, that possibility seems preferable to me than being cooked alive over summer.

Posted in window tinting

Being Normal Isn’t So Bad!

Day 17 of me being a normal person: it’s going well. Better than I expected, actually. The cameras I’m already used to, and the format of the show means they have to be hidden anyway. When I was contacted to be on ‘Undercover Celebrity’, I wasn’t sure at first. Light plastic surgery, followed by having to work a normal job and make normal friends in a normal apartment, for eight normal weeks?? It all sounded so…normal.

But you know, it’s been really quite freeing. Not that I got no satisfaction out of acting in blockbusters and being adored by all, but just working as a normal barista for eight hours a day comes with its own sense of pride and accomplishment. My co-workers are normal, but also great. And I can pick my own hair salon! In Melbourne they’re everywhere, and I never even knew. Mostly I just got cheuffered to my trusted and extremely exclusive barbershop, and just kinda assumed that people either did that or cut their own hair at home. But nope. People don’t even recognise me on the street- which is actually pretty refreshing- so I can just go anywhere I like without being mobbed. I’d walked past so many hair salons, and the other day I just felt like I needed a chop, so I walked in. Half an hour of snipping and polite conversation later I walked out, pretty pleased with my cut and even more shocked at how cheap it was. EVERYTHING is cheap. Public transport is like…tapping in and out with dirt. Fruit and vegetables still taste great when they’re not shipped in express from Aruba. And the hair salons open in South Melbourne where I’m staying are just so plentiful and nice. I’m not giving up my old lifestyle, but I’m also not craving it. Without the cameras and secret interviews, I might even make this a regular, yearly thing. It makes for a great holiday.

Posted in Hair

Need To Renovate My Family

I attended a family gathering yesterday, much to my displeasure. I mean, I like my close relatives just fine, but my extended family… well, sheesh, that’s another story. By and large, they’re so self-absorbed that I can barely get a word in edgewise, which might be tolerable if they weren’t as boring as they are talkative.

The one good thing to come out of the event was a tip from my cousin, Hildred, on the subject of bathroom renovations. I’ve been hanging out to get my shower remodelled for a good couple of years now, but never seem to get around to it. Anyway, the gathering was at Hildred’s house, and I couldn’t help but notice her tasteful new bathtub and shower combo – it really ticked all the boxes. That’s how I got into an hour-long conversation – or to be more precise, became subjected to a monologue – about hiring a bathroom renovator.

While she was jabbering away, my attention was drawn to the fact that one of her kitchen cupboards was sporting a hole, presumably put there by her twin five year-olds. That got me thinking about my own kitchen, replete with its own cabinetry issues. It could really do with a custom makeover. I use it a lot, after all – unlike Hildred, who is a notorious non-cooker (yes, there are such people in the world).

Are there any hot new kitchen design ideas, Melbourne, that I ought to know about? Trends, technologies, general tidbits? I shouldn’t even be asking about this, really, until I’ve dealt with the bathroom – that was on my list first, and I like to approach things like this in an orderly fashion. The thing is, though, my end goal is for the house to have a sense of flow – for the bathroom and kitchen to feel like parts of a unified whole.

Perhaps this need to remodel with holistic flow in mind comes from my discordant extended family. Dad says I’m being melodramatic, but he would say that. He always manages to find a way to get out of these gatherings.  

Posted in Renovations

Hiking-Friendly Hairdo

I’m going overseas tomorrow – hiking for three weeks in the Himalayas, if you want to know – and it’s just occurred to me that my long hair is going to be a huge pain in the behind. I could just shave it all off, I suppose. I’ve done it before and it wouldn’t out of place with the expat/backpacker brigade I’ll no doubt end up hanging out with. The problem is that I’ll be flying home via my mother’s wedding in Dubai, and she’s made me promise not to be too out-there with whatever look I choose to rock up with. I agreed because it seemed easier than arguing the point.

Point is, I really need to get to a hair salon in the Melbourne CBD, and fast. Ideally, it’ll be somewhere that can give me a low-maintenance, short haircut that will look class enough to appease my mother. What form such a cut could might take, I don’t know, which is precisely why I need a great hairdresser to put their professional two cents in. Hit me with that measured advice and styling guidance! I’m all ears (or I will be, after my haircut).

Come to think of it, it would be good to grab some hair care products to go. Note to self: remember to decant them into those little customs-friendly bottles. Lately, I’ve been using a pretty nice shampoo and conditioner by Aveda. Hair salons that stock this stuff: show yourselves. Even with short hair, I’m still going to want some decent products for the wedding – either that or risk sporting a bizarre frizz bomb from some terrible 2-in-1 product that came free with my hotel room.

If I’m going to be bothering to go to a proper salon, perhaps I’ll go the whole hog and get a colour job into the bargain. I wonder if any salons around here work with naturally-derived hair dyes? Some kind of creative full-head colour would be a nice touch… something that will work as well at my mother’s wedding as it while while I’m sweatily struggling up a mountain.

Posted in hair salon

Glassy Renovations

The apartment block that I rent in is getting a makeover, to my mild annoyance. I have zero investment in this building, and don’t really care what it looks like from the outside. Granted, there could be a bit more to the operation than aesthetics – the handrails on the external staircases do look a little wonkier than they probably should.

Currently, it looks like the glaziers are in the process of replacing said handrails with some kind of glass balustrade. Installers in Melbourne seem to have the right idea when it comes to making things look sleek and polished – the frameless glass panels do kind of swank up this dump.

I’m assuming that whoever’s managing this operation is going to do something about the smashed window on third-floor the stairwell. I wonder if this balustrade crew do general residential glazing and glass repairs? Melbourne is the first city I’ve lived in where apartment block residents don’t seem to have rage blackouts when someone puts a football through their window, which is nice. They could probably do with being a little less chill about it sometimes, though – that window has been in that state for a good half a year now. Back in Sydney, the residents’ committee would have gone after the owners with flaming pitchforks months ago.

Come to think of it, there are a few other jobs I can think of for these glaziers, while they’re here. I’d really appreciate a new shower screen, as I can’t help but have my doubts as to whether my existing one is actually of the safety glass persuasion. On top of that, the shower frame and door hands are a fairly gross beige colour – just make them black or silver already.

That’s the problem with renovations: once you pop, you can’t stop. In this case, it’s all out of my hands, but I’m starting to notice things that need doing that I’ve never once considered the whole time I’ve been living here. Maybe I can petition the owner to let me recruit a glazier on my own dime.

Posted in glass