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

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

The Great Glass Conspiracy

OH. MY. PANES.

I actually mean ‘panes’ there like glass panes, but come to think of it, I have been dealing with a bit of back pain lately. Apparently I’m becoming my mother: pains everywhere. I’ll have a little train of pills to take every morning, I’ll ring a bell to signal everyone to come in for dinner, and the transformation will be complete.

No, but what’s happening in Week of Our Lives is MUCH more interesting. The forums are absolutely buzzing with speculation, but this week’s episode was quite a cracker. Realsville was up in arms about this mysterious window breaker who’s been going around- get this- breaking windows. So all the residential glaziers around the place are swept off their feet with work, and everyone was waiting for the next brick to come straight though their own windows by night.

Then Maxine used her technical mastery to set up a camera in the church grounds, where she caught none other than…LINDA. You see, Linda had developed a deep-seated hatred of panes of glass after she slipped on some glass balustrading at the Local County Ball. Her elegant descent became a slippery nightmare that ended in her losing a tooth with everyone laughing at her, so she swore dark revenge.

The plot thickened when it was revealed that Gregory was supplying her with quality window-breaking bricks, because he was trying to get her to fall in love with him and eventually hand over the family petting zoo empire, along with its vast fortunes. Now Gregory and Linda are in a high-speed chase with the denizens of the town, who are furious at all the glazier costs.

Glass balustrades, a vandal by night, shocking twists…is the show really back to its brilliant roots?

-Leticia

Posted in glass

There’s Vera, Just…Driving

OH. MY. MOTOR VEHICLES.

So Week of Our Lives went on hiatus for a week, which hasn’t happened since 1973 when there was that devastating outbreak of armadillo flu that wiped out half of the cast and crew. I wasn’t alive for that, obviously, but it’s a famous incident in the fandom. Fans of the show had to wait for a whole two weeks for the show to come back on the air, and that episode revealed that a hurricane had hit Realsville, injuring half of its residents and devastating the town so much that it looked like a totally different town (they had to burn the old sets and use filler ones).

This time? Well, the forums are rife with speculation with what happened behind the scenes. But the episode opened very casually, with Vera going to get some repairs from a reputable car service mechanic in the Malvern area, which is where she goes for her fruit and veg life drawing classes. There was a relaxed storyline about her getting waylaid by having to pick up some tiles and meeting her ex, who is now a successful tile salesman, and then she suddenly realised that she forgot to ask the mechanic about the rattling sound in her engine when she gets on the freeway, so she drove back to the mechanic and the mechanic said that it was a good thing she came back because that could be a problem with the crank shaft pulley, so she thanked him and got some extra mechanical work done.

Then she drove back to Realsville, picked up a coffee from the café where all the cast gather, went home and found a mysterious letter on her doorstep. Vera opened the letter, and…frowned. As if in shock!

And…that was it? Apart from Selena the café owner briefly mentioning that the Forest People all got pneumonia and moved to Florida, everything was pretty calm. I mean…I LIKE how I was reminded that we need brake pad replacement. An auto repairs person Malvern might work for us, but…such a change in tone. What does it all mean?

-Leticia

Posted in car service centre