Time for Changes!

Phew…that was an excellent holiday; really refreshing! I was a bit suspicious when I won an all-expenses paid trip to Venice with the kids, especially because this is exactly the type of things that the shape-shifting Emperor would do to lure me into an unprotected spot so he can send his minions into the house to reclaim his foul brood in their sealed egg prisons.

But then I remembered, I did enter the competition for cutest toddler picture in the Trumpeting Moon. Duh! Totally baby brain.

Anyway, I had a bit of time away from things to think, and I think I’m going to start saving up for some major bathroom and kitchen renovations. The side-business is going well, and I’m just sitting on my savings, plus every time I walk into the kitchen I always think the same thing: it’s outdated, and the cooker just doesn’t work like it used to. Personally, I blame this on the fact that chimera liver takes over three hours of simmering until it releases its toxin and can be safely turned into a talisman of vigilance, but I reckon I could cut that down by at least half an hour with a really good electrical stove like I had back in the old place.

The bathroom may have to be put on the back-burner, but it’s badly in need of a makeover. It’s all pale yellow tiles, and the floor to the shower is all cracked and chipped. Also, the tiles are this weird red colour that doesn’t fit with everything else. It’s like the place is covered in mustard and ketchup.

I’m through just ignoring it: it’s time for a change. It IS important that I’m proud of my living space, and my kids are going to inherit this place someday…maybe. That at least warrants a bit of research around a bathroom reno in Melbourne.

Oh, and my scorpions neither bred, nor did they eat each other while we were away. I knew I trained them well!

Posted in Renovations

Immune to Stress

I’m not sure how I ended up being, out of four kids, the one who ended up in the big-shot job. I was always the most carefree of the bunch, and the most lax about schoolwork and the like. To be honest, I never even gave that much thought to having a career. And yet, here I am, a hedge fund manager, while my siblings are… well, doing other stuff. Who has time to take note?

You could say that I’m the most equipped to deal with stress, whether in the workplace or elsewhere. As I recall, Belinda would cry at the drop of a hat during the uni exam period, and Henry couldn’t hack the pressure of footy team tryouts, despite being naturally good at the sport. Terrence would get annoyed with anyone in authority telling him what to do; in fact, I think he still does. As for me, I was always able to identify when I was stressed and apply a few simple techniques to relieve it.

I didn’t realise this until recently, but apparently not everyone is born knowing how to do that. In fact, people actually go to stress management lessons. Melbourne is home to a number of companies that offer training in this field. I had no idea! It was a surprise to me that many people find it difficult to navigate stressors in their workplaces, despite working in an undeniably stressful environment myself.

What alerted me to this gap in my knowledge was someone coming to my office to deliver a workplace stress management workshop. Everyone agreed that it was really helpful, which I was skeptical about until I started seeing marked improvements in the wellbeing of my colleagues. One of them even told me that she had managed to get rid of her chronic insomnia by applying some of the techniques, which had seemed really basic to me.

I suppose it’s good for me as well, as far as being better able to relate to other people at work who might not be as resilient as me to the negative effects of stress.

Posted in stress management

Maintain Cabin Temperature

It’s funny and sad and stupid how you care less about stuff as you get old. I mean…stuff. The stuff that used to make you happy. You care a lot as an adult, but about serious garbage like taxes and dying alone. I want to get as excited about my birthday as I did when I was eight. I want to watch the latest Space Conflicts movie and not think about how they’ve totally screwed up the trilogy and how my childhood films are being retroactively tainted by this filth.

See, it’s all cynicism. And I mean it when I say retroactively tainted, because I tried to watch the first Space Conflicts trilogy and I found myself thinking about grown-up things, like if their ships had air con. Thanks to the Canberra Cooling Authority, air conditioning services near Canberra are basically instant. Well…within a reasonable length of time, but still pretty quick. Time was when no one in this street had air con and we all just used to go outside as kids, play in the shade of a big tree until the sun went down. Now, thanks to a huge drive and some sort of government program to make Canberra the “coolest place in Australia!” air con has just taken off. We’ve got it, obviously. All our friends have it.

But what about Juke AirPlodder in his K-Wing spaceship? Like, it’s only a tiny little space in there, so you’d think air con wouldn’t be hard to install. But space and weight are premiums on spacecraft, so maybe it’d literally just be maintaining cabin temperature like on an aeroplane. Space is way colder than Canberra. Heating and cooling are a very different game when you have to jump from one side of the galaxy to the next.

Come to think of it, thinking about this has been fun, in a weird, grown-up way.

-Owen

Posted in Air Con

Secure Air Conditioning

The elders were unhappy about having any sort of air conditioning installed, mainly because it goes into the walls and that creates a security problem. I tried to tell them that ducted air conditioning really isn’t that insecure because the ducts aren’t large enough for even the smallest human to travel through, but they pointed out that we still must beware of trained cats and other such creatures.

That’s a fair point. I would’ve countered that we live in a place where most of the walls are made of rice paper. But ever since my squad and I travelled to Canberra last month on a long-term assignment, I’ve been enamoured with the idea of heating and cooling. Canberra is a capital of such things, just as it is the capital of this nation, which made me think of the conditions in the Castle. We were the most important location in our entire prefecture, the place from which we reigned with fear, but the place was pretty unbearable in summer. The elevation was necessary, because we stood upon a hill, and then there was the castle itself: no real insulation, and all the heat floated to the upper rooms where were located our sleeping quarters. The elders always used to say that it was training in resisting the elements, but I could see them sweating. They hated it as much as we did on the hottest days.

Now I see that the rulers of this nation perform their work in a sleek building where everything is cooled at all times, and many of the citizens keep their cooling systems in top working order with air conditioning maintenance. Canberra appear to have an abundance of experts in this field as well. It’s time…time for a cool change. And if it’s so important, I’m sure we could protect the walls against incursions from cats and wind spirits. It’s not like any rivals have actually followed us here.

Posted in air conditioning

Office Basics

Offices have certain basic requirements, as far as I’m concerned. One of these is natural light; that’s non-negotiable. Another is that you can work in the space without getting sunburnt. That one, I think, is so much of a given that you’d barely think to include it. I mean, who would even think of getting sunburnt at the office?

Me – that’s who. I’ve just gotten home to learn that large window across from where I sit is a bit too generous with the UV rays, and I’m determined to do something about it. Demanding that the windows be tinted seems like the obvious solution, but it’ll probably get done faster if I also put forward a plan for making it happen.

Basically, I need recommendations for office window tinting companies. Melbourne, Who does a good job? How much does window tinting cost, anyway? Are all tints UV-protective? What about these adhesive films – are they anything to write home about? I want the full rundown.

While I’m on the subject, can the tinting people do decorative glass frosting for offices while they’re at it? I’ve noticed that our weird carpeted partitions are starting to look a bit worse for wear, which is no surprise given that they appear to have been made in the 1960s. Speaking of basic requirements for workspaces, I guess this is kind of a funny one. It’s not like it’s strictly essential for the partitions to look good, but on the other hand… it would be good if they did. You know what I mean?

Maybe you don’t know what I mean. Maybe your office is perfectly finished, with a clean balance of natural light and glare reduction. Perhaps you’ve even got a nice, new set of tastefully branded glass partitions. If that’s the case, well done. You don’t have to approach your managers with a half-baked blueprint for Operation: Glass Overhaul. And you probably don’t need to rub your nose with aloe vera before bed, either.

Posted in window tinting

Worker Bee Problems

The company I work for is in the process of planning a workspace overhaul. I’m talking the full shebang: interior design a completely new fitout, complete with custom furnishings and finishes. We were all given the opportunity to share our ideas at a meeting on the subject this morning, and it proved to be a bit of a… I won’t say the word, but it starts with ‘s’ and ends with ‘fight’.

Mary-Anne from accounts wouldn’t shut about this half-baked idea she has for a ‘honeycomb lounge’ – from what I can tell, it’s some kind of fancy breakout area comprising a series of modular, hexagonal ottomans that can be rearranged into different formations. I mean, it sounds cool in theory, but who here is actually going to use a space like that to get work done?

Everyone in this joint is pretty much glued to their desks, and it’s not that hard to walk to the appointed meeting room when the need to collaborate strikes. The honeycomb lounge just doesn’t sound like something that’s going to get a whole lot of use, and I think the resources could be better spent elsewhere, like on energy-efficient lighting.

Mary-Anne should know this, having been with the company since the early years of its move to Melbourne. Office fitout specialists cost money, and we don’t have endless amounts of it to throw around on features that aren’t going to be that useful. That’s why I think we need to liaise with some experts before getting too wrapped up in brainstorming the process.

Naturally, most of our colleagues were stoked on the honeycomb lounge idea, agreeing with Mary-Anne that it would be ‘really cool’. Of course, faced with such a groovy notion, no one’s going to give a damn about genuinely effective and functional office design. Melbourne types are all too easily sold on style, in my opinion.

I voiced this in the meeting, and got shouted down a bit. Maybe everyone’s right in thinking that functionality shouldn’t trump aesthetics. But hey, I’m just trying to hold down the fort of realism here. We’re people, not bees.

Posted in Office

Just Chewing Leaves

Gee, I wish I could learn the art of being a koala and not caring about anything. Just picture me sitting in a tree, chewing on Eucalyptus leaves, having a grand old time, not worrying about rainstorms or even forest fires. Just being a koala, having a smooth brain that can’t comprehend the big questions in life, and loving every second of it.

Except I’m not a koala. I’m stuck with this human brain that worries about everything, even more than regular humans. This stupid human brain is currently wondering how we’re going to get this commercial steamer into the kitchen, because someone forgot to measure it before we ordered and we’re having measurement problems with both getting it in the door AND fitting it into our kitchen space. Our grand opening is tomorrow, the manu isn’t even finished, I have people sending me emails about gluten-free options and so you’ll understand why being a koala is starting to look so good as an option, you know? Koalas don’t need commercial steamers; I saw it on that documentary. They just chew eucalyptus leaves all day, even though you’re not supposed to be able to eat them. Practically no nutrition, but koalas don’t care. They just chew them all day anyway. So while my signature dishes wouldn’t impress a restaurant full of koalas, I wouldn’t have to cook anything either. Could just serve up a whole bunch of leaves on plates. Except they’ve done research, and koalas don’t recognise leaves on plates, so it’d have to be on branches…except koalas wouldn’t come to a restaurant when all their food just grows naturally outside.

Maybe struggling in with a commercial stove that doesn’t really fit isn’t so bad. I DO actually want to cook food, not just serve leaves. It’s why I started this business venture in the first place.

-Monika

Posted in Kitchen

Enjoy the Car

Well, I have the place to myself again. Twice in two weeks? Something is seriously up here. Maybe one day they’ll all just leave for good, move to a farm in the outback and leave me to look after the place totally by myself. It’s not like anyone would really notice if they let me behind…

Not gonna lie though, I wouldn’t say no to that. They’re all at some car festival in Bendigo, because Cousin Nermal is running one of the stalls. Something about utes…I don’t know. He knows all the garages open for car servicing near Bendigo and he’s always talking about his awesome car connections whenever he’s here for family events. Which is a lot. Uncle Nermal has always treated me like I don’t exist, probably because he has this weird sixth sense that allows him to mentally ascertain whether people have an interest in cars. No kidding; I’ve seen it at work. He zeroes in on the brothers that like cars and ignores the ones who don’t, like clockwork. Or magic.

So now they’re all there, probably having their ears talked off by his 1001 car achievements, and how many top-rated car servicing people he knows, and how he basically built Bendigo’s car industry from the ground up. Actually…as much as I’m totally okay with not being there, I do have a bit of pity for my family in this case. Uncle/Cousin Nermal is sort of the dreaded one at family gatherings, especially with how he just doesn’t understand that he needs to stop talking and let other people have a chance. Plus…no one is as interested in cars as he is. No one. The car mechanics open for appointments in Bendigo aren’t as into cars as Uncle Nermal. Because they understand that, while cars are great, there’s more to life.

Anyway, hope they’re enjoying that. I’m reading a book. It’s great.

Posted in car service centre

Useful Ovens

Food standards are certainly a funny thing. For example, the rulebook says that if you’re a restaurant, you have to have a working oven. In fact, it has to be a commercial oven that meets a high standard, and not just a little thing that you’d have in your kitchen at home.

Fair enough…most restaurants DO need an oven. But I think the fact that we don’t means that we should be exempt from the rule. Sounds like something you could escape if you happened to have friends in high places, if you know what I mean. Alas, we just had to go and open up Melbourne’s only No-Cook Restaurant. This is where you come when you want a meal that’s 100% natural, unaltered besides being shaped and/or cut. We’re not going to slap a whole piece of broccoli onto your plate, but you can rest assured that what DOES end up on your plate is totally fresh, and has not been cooked. We DO have commercial ovens, but they’re never switched on. Or maybe we can use them as heating in the winter…probably inefficient.

Of course, we have nothing against places that DO use their ovens and steamers and woks and whatever else. This isn’t taking a moral stand; we just wanted to offer something different. Many of our dishes consist of fish, or fruit, vegetables that don’t require cooking, nuts, some types of dairy, and of course, many variations and combinations of all those things. It’s fresh, it’s tasty, and you wouldn’t believe how good you feel after a no-cook meal. Of course…it’s also art on a plate.

I’m hoping it takes off. And if it doesn’t, then…hey, there was a whole kitchen when we got here. That commercial-grade deep fryer might just come in handy after all. Still need to think of another gimmick, though…

-Andras

Posted in Kitchen

Lost in the Sewer

Pipes are not very large, as I recently discovered. This is basically the scoop of the century, so I hope I get awards for this, despite that not being a thing in Australia. I don’t know, maybe my harrowing tale of being stuck in a sewer will be such big news that one of the big New York newspapers will ask me for an exclusive, and…I’ll write it? Yep, I’ll do an interview with myself, and the people who hand out the big journalism prizes will decide that it’s so bold and well-written that they’ll give me all of them, from all the countries.

It’s the least I deserve, after demonstrating my passion for my craft through sacrifice. The only people who deserve higher accolades are the companies in Melbourne that repair sewers, partly because it’s not a very nice job, and partly due to the fact that they saved me from wandering around down there forever. Think of the journalistic talent that would’ve been lost. The world may never have known! I just wanted a big scoop on that building where they only accept cat people, with cats. Figured that something weird was going on down there, and I was all like ‘well, they get drain repairs like the rest of us, probably’, so I thought I’d find a way inside. Through the sewer. I did some investigating, found an old sewer that ran under the building and snuck in.

Well, almost. I got lost because it’s a maze, and could NOT find a ladder out of there. My phone went dead, and that got rid of my torch.

But thanks be to the drain repair people, who happened to be carrying out some maintenance! They found me tired, hungry and a little bit frazzled, and thus i did not die in the caverns of Melbourne. Drain cleaning companies really are wonderful. I should just get my drains cleaned every single week for the rest of my life in thanks for their services. And also, to stop my sink from overflowing and reminding me of that horrible nightmare. You’d better believe drain repair is getting an excellent write-up in my award-winning piece of journalism.

-Miles T.

Posted in Drains