Silence for Maximum Productivity

I can’t say approve of music, generally. This strange trend of letting people use their headphones in the office disturbs me, because they could be listening to anything. Could be listening to a podcast, which would lower their productivity by a considerable amount. I know I’m only the assistant office manager, but I think it’s about time I used my considerable clout, put my foot down and banned music. Just…all music. It means that less work gets done, and I generally dislike it, so I might as well get rid of it entirely.

In fact, if I had my way, the office would be silent. Certain rooms would be designated talking rooms, such as for meetings, and the rest of the space would be entirely silenced.

See, I’ve done a bit of research on different kinds of office design in Sydney, and I think there’s some scope for creating an office where sound is kept to an absolute minimum. The key would be a fitout that adds a thick carpet to absorb sound, carpeted walls for the cubicles, and also, thicker cubicles. VERY thick cubicles. The thickest cubicles money can buy, and they’re entirely enclosed with a locking system, to avoid the temptation of idle chatter as people walk by.

Obviously there would be no intercom, no music playing over the speakers. The kitchen would be kept very separate, so that the dings and whirrs from appliances would not distract from work. After that, it would be a simple matter of banning all talking from the moment people walk through the door. Surely these kinds of requests must be frequent for interior office designers. Sydney is pretty great when it comes to designers so it’s not surprise that they have some of the best offices in the country.

Perfect silence. That’s the ultimate goal. It should be what every single office in the world strives for. Silence, peace, prosperity…slippers. Everyone must wear slippers, also. The quietest footwear.

-D. Lawson

Posted in Office

Cosy Venue Essentials

You know that winter has come to town when one of the customers at your establishment turns up with blankets for everyone in their group. Either that, or you know that said establishment is in need of an update of its heating system.

We aim to make the bar a cosy space in winter, with the booths arranged so as not to catch the draft from the doorway and mulled cider options aplenty. We’re just starting to pick up our cold season game now, and it’s becoming clear that it’s just not warm enough, despite the fact that we’ve had the heating on.

Clearly, we’re overdue for a central heating repair. Melbourne is clearly not the place to put off heating or air con maintenance, given its tendency to dart from one extreme temperature to the other, and yet that’s just what we’ve done for the past couple of years. We might have saved a few bucks in the short term, but now we’re looking at a heating system that’s, well… not working.

I have to say, it’s validating that customers are willing to rock up regardless of having to BYO blankets. We must be doing something right! Which is fortunate, because it’s entirely possible that we’ll be shelling out for a new unit before the month’s up. The question is, what’s the best option for heating a commercial venue? I barely know the difference between gas and electric, split system and ducted, heating and air conditioning… Melbourne, give us a hand, will you?

I mean, the other option is installing a big ol’ fireplace, which would be entirely aligned with the vibe we’re going for. If we did that and handed out blankets, plus lifted our hot toddy mixing skills, we’d be well on the way towards achieving our desired ambience. On the other hand, when summer rolls around, we’re going to want air conditioning – there’s no two ways about that. Might as well hit the heating and cooling birds with one stone if we can. 

Posted in Air Con

Mum’s Hotel

What’s new in my world? Let me think. Well, Harrison broke his arm snowboarding. He went on a trip to the slopes with his mates and got a bit ambitious about his ability to land a jump, apparently. Meanwhile, Henry has the flu. Between all of that and selling the business, there hasn’t been a lot of time for anything especially momentous to take place.

On the plus side, they’ve both been spending more time with their mum than usual. I’ll keep telling myself that it’s because they need me, not because my cosy place is significantly more invalid-friendly than their respective draughty share houses. Eh! It’s all same to me. All I can say is that I’ve won them over with either my powerful mothering prowess or my ducted gas heating. Melbourne parents: does anyone else observe this dynamic with their 30-something year-old offspring?

Anyway, I’ll enjoy this situation while it lasts, but that’s partly because I know it won’t carry on for too long. If it did, I’d be knee deep in power bills, shopping lists and tracksuit pants in need of a launder… been there, done that! Having said that, I do feel justified in forking out for that central heating unit service, Melbourne having suddenly become a whole lot colder in concert with the kids being holed up in the house.

I remember that, when I was a kid, my grandma was the absolute queen of hand-knitted blankets and jumpers. I’d go over there in winter and never be cold, despite the lack of central heating or reverse cycle air conditioning. Instead, I’d be immediately swaddled in layers of warm wool and equipped with a cup of hot cocoa. I don’t think I appreciated it too much at the time, but there you go.

Grandma did have a fireplace, come to think of it. That’d be nice to have, although I hardly need another appliance to take care of around here. Maybe I can get the boys to build me a fire pit out the back instead. They’d do anything for their mum, after all.

Posted in Heating

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.


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.


Posted in Office

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.


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

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

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