Cars = Freedom?

When I was a little kid, I always thought that cars equalled freedom. On some level, I still believe that – there’s a certain sense of convenience that I can’t help but associate with feeling unburdened. Over the course of my adult life, though, I’ve gradually come to realise that freedom and convenience are not one and the same. In fact, convenience can sometimes curtail freedom, as I discovered last winter when my car wouldn’t start.

What I mean to say is that I realised I’d become overly reliant on the convenience of my nice car, and unable to move through the world without it. In a sense, I’d effectively reduced my freedom by attaching my ease and comfort in life to the functions of a material object. And I’d made that material object a car, of all things – one of the material objects most likely to conk out when you least expect it. Good choice, idiot.

There’s also all the costs involved in car ownership – they tend to diminish the impression of freedom, too. The open road is worthless if you’ve got a busted tyre or your brakes aren’t working. Sure, you can get it fixed, but you’re at the mercy of your mechanic for brake repair. Moorabbin area locals, you’re probably familiar with this old chestnut. It’s not that hard to get your car to a mechanic, but it’s also a big drain on the old time and money. It’s a burden, not a ticket to freedom. 

Look, I’m not saying it’s not worth having a car. I’ve still got mine, and I love it. I just don’t associate it with freedom anymore, at least not by my former whimsical standards. Arguably, there is a certain freedom in being able to book car servicing and maintenance. Bentleigh mechanics are good for this, and I’m happy to use my hard-earned money to pay for their services – provided that it’s something I’m choosing to do, rather than an obligation I’ve bound myself into by necessity.

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L-Plate Adventures

Turns out, the Easter long weekend isn’t the worst time for your kid to practise their driving. I was pretty against taking Janice out on the road when she first mentioned it, as I’d been looking forward to kicking back outside the steely grip of traffic. But I’m happy I agreed to it because, by Monday, she’d gotten a lot of hours in and improved her driving game significantly.

One of the adventures we managed to have together was having a flat tyre. Ringwood auto centres are plentiful, but most of them were closed due to the public holiday, so we had to DIY it. Luckily, I always keep a spare in the back and know roughly what I’m doing, and we were able to pull off a successful tyre change. I think it’s good for Janice to experience this. I mean, even if she still doesn’t know how to do, she won’t freak out as much if something like this happens down the track.

I’m always encouraging the kids to keep a cool head under unexpected circumstances, as I believe that that’s the best state from which to solve a problem efficiently. As well as during roadside tyre changes, it’s also a good way to be when seeing a mechanic for car servicing. Ringwood mechanics have been pretty good in my experience, as far as costs and things go, but it’s still handy to have a cool head on your shoulders.

All that aside, the sooner Janice can plow through her logbook hours and get on her Ps, the better for everyone – myself included. This thing is way more of a marathon than it was back in my day, let me tell you. I’m happy to teach my daughter to drive and all, but really, it’s a bit much. I don’t know what people are supposed to do if they don’t have two parents who can drive and both have the time to help.

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Most Likely Survivor

My friend Clarissa is the only person I know who’d be capable of looking after themselves in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Not that I think there’s one on the horizon, but it’s a fun thought experiment to scan your social circles for the most likely survivor. Clarissa wins the title on account of her skillset, which includes building and carpentry, archery, edible weed identification, navigation by the stars and Brazilian jiu jitsu.

I was thinking about this because, as of recently, she’s added fishing to her list of practical accomplishments. In fact, she’s so into it that she’s now in the market for a small boat that she can use for the purpose, and is firmly fixated on comparing rod holders, snapper racks and bait boards.

If anything, I’m surprised she’s not taking up custom marine welding herself, although I’m guessing that part of her secret to being so prolific is dedicating herself to one thing at a time. Many people I know run around picking up little bits of this and that – just enough to distract from their inner knowing that, come the apocalypse, they’ll be completely unprepared. Clarissa, on the other hand, takes the time to become proficient in a craft before looking around for the next thing.

As I understand it, she’s still in the process of becoming a fishing master. That’s the way she sees it, at least, but I think her standards must be pretty high because she seems to be doing pretty well at it. I mean, how much better at fishing can you really get past a certain point? It’s all a bit of a game of chance, isn’t it?

She did tell me that she sees fishing as inhabiting the role of ‘fish whisperer’. I’m assuming that ‘fish whispering’ is about maximising the odds of landing the type of catch you want in the most efficient way. Then again, we’re talking about someone who’s been known to spend the day engaged in conversation with a field of dandelions, so who knows?

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Sailing Into Winter

My parents have finally returned from their sailing world tour, a good two years after they set off. I was beginning to think they might have opted out of the landlubber life, but no – they’re back now, and they’ve dropped anchor in Canberra.

That’s all well and good – I’m pleased to see them and everything – but they seem to have developed a taste for tropical climates and appear to be a tad challenged by the local winter. It doesn’t help that they got rid of all their warm clothes a few months back when they were hanging out up north over summer. They’re now getting around in thin spray jackets that are completely unsuitable for keeping warm.

The unit they’ve moved into, fortunately, features a pretty sweet ducted heating system. Canberra is finally starting to turn on the really cold weather, and I don’t know where they’d be without indoor climate control. I’ve told dad that I’m taking them both shopping for bedding on the weekend, but in the meantime, they’re cranking the heat 24/7.

Why can’t they go shopping for bedding themselves, you ask? They’re capable of sailing around the world, so surely they’re able to take on a shopping centre, right? Well, apparently they need me to go with them because otherwise they won’t be able to control their newfound desire for luxury homewares.

I wonder if I’ll have to explain other things to them, like how to book a heater service. Canberra hardly has a shortage of companies that do this so, again, you’d think it wouldn’t be a problem. But it seems that living on the high seas for a couple of years does strange things to a person’s ability to run basic errands.

I’m sure they’ll pick it all up again pretty quickly. After all, it was mum who finally convinced me that my reverse cycle air con was responsible for my hayfever symptoms, and that I needed to get it serviced annually. They know what’s what.

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Geo Joker

I wonder what the first person to build a staircase was thinking? I guess they were probably setting out to solve the problem of how to reduce slippage while walking up an incline, with the solution being to build a structure that enables each footfall to occur on a flat surface. Still, the whole zig-zag shape we now take for granted must have looked at least a little bit comical, in a right-angular sort of way.

I’ll own that I have a particularly geometric sense of humour. I think it comes from being a professional statistician with a personal interest in modernist architecture. Yes, I do find it to be a big joke, and a very good one at that. Sadly, not too many people are in on it. The cheese stands alone.

The glasswork on mid to late twentieth century office blocks particularly kills me, to the extent that I’ve considered becoming a glazier. Melbourne is rife with the kind of thing I’m referring to, but it’s a bit hard to put into words without having an example right in front of you, plus the right historical knowledge to contextualise it. But I’ll give it a red hot go.

Take your garden variety outdoor glass balustrade. Melbourne CBD is home to plenty of examples, if you keep your eyes peeled. Next time you clock one, take note of the angle it’s positioned at relative to the ground, which will be the same incline as that of the staircase it’s paired with. Then, mentally bisect that angle and compare it to the angle of the sun to the highest point of the building, viewed from the bottom of the staircase, at precisely 4pm. Finally, add 20% to your calculation.

Trust me, this works every time. Once you see it you won’t be able to unsee it. Don’t feel too badly if you don’t get it, though. It’s definitely on the obscure side of architectural appreciation.

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Illusion of Omniscience

What do you call someone who knows absolutely nothing about cars? You call them… well, me. At least, you do if you are me, which presumably you’re not, but you know what I mean. Regardless, it’s just come to my attention that I’m extremely reliant on auto specialists to make my car go.

As much as this is basically normal (the greater part of the world’s population not being motor vehicle experts), it still stings me a bit. That’s because I pride myself on my intellectual self-sufficiency, which I’ve honed to a point that it covers most areas of my life. I mean, that’s the impression I’ve somehow arrived at, and it’s started to unravel ever since it occurred to me that I have no idea about anything to do with auto work.

I’m clueless about all of it, from changing a tyre to auto electrical. Brighton mechanics seem to know all of it, and it’s making me feel extremely uncertain. I thought I was the local authority on just about everything, but this falls outside the domain of my knowledge.

Look, I get that I’m being a bit weird about this, but I’m going through a weird time. Since turning 18 a couple of months ago, my status as a gifted polymath seems to be disintegrating before my eyes. It’s making me think that perhaps the people in my life have been overly forthcoming with praise for my abilities, which clearly aren’t as all-encompassing as I’ve been led to believe.

In my defense, this is the first time ever I’ve had reason to book car servicing. Brighton service centres probably operate in much the same way as those in other places, and the mechanics that work there probably have roughly the standard amount of knowledge for someone doing their job. Similarly, I probably have the standard amount of knowledge for an 18 year old who has been raised on intensive book-learning.

That doesn’t mean I feel good about this, though.

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Pears and Electricians

According to Michael’s presentation last night at the Futurist Club, Nashi pears will soon become the dominant fruit due to them being picked up by social media influencers, specifically via the #noshthenash challenge. That’s a challenge where you get Nashi pear…and you eat it. Really quickly. On camera. The entertainment value comes from how juicy the pear is, meaning that it tends to be a bit messy, thus creating the ‘lols’. And after the laughter comes the insatiable desire to rush out and buy these pears.

That’s fair enough, but another of Michael’s key points was how we’re on the cusp of an electrical innovation. Right now, the best electricians in Bayside are having to do quite delicate work, avoiding serious workplace injury. But no line of work is totally free from hazard, and if you’re rewiring a home, then those workplace hazards are worse than most. Certainly worse than my job, where the greatest hazard is perhaps my persistent fear that the slushie machine is going to fall over and squish me. It hasn’t happened ever, but every time I fill it up, I just can’t help but wonder when it’s going to be…

Anyway, electricians. Obviously, they have it rougher. But word on the street is that Lawrence Corp is developing a special type of tech-suit that can coat a person’s skin in a thin layer of rubber, so thin you almost can’t see it. Supposedly, you can walk around on a roof during a thunderstorm, getting hit by lightning over and over again, and you’ll feel nothing because the suit absorbs it all. So maybe, in the future, all electricians will wear this as standard procedure. You’ll hire a residential electrician, they’ll come and fix your problem touching all these live wires with their bare hands, and you’ll say “wow, shouldn’t you be careful?” and they’ll say “nah, invisible rubber suit, I’m zap-proof.” Then you’ll both laugh and crack open a cold nashi juice together, like buddies.


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The Drain People

I’ve been to the Office Olympics. They’re alright.

I like the idea of alternative sports, but nothing gets me as excited as the Tradie Olympics. When I switched from white-collar to blue-collar, I was let into the secret of the Tradie Olympics, and I’ve never looked back. Best event of the whole year, hands down. Of course, the Melbourne drain unblocking companies always somehow manage to win, but I think that’s because drain maintenance gives you a wider range of skills than most jobs.

It’s like, okay, I do plumbing, and that’s cool. I know how to go underneath buildings and I can do most stuff to do with drains, but drain unblocking people just blow me out of the water. So they unblock drains, yeah? But they also do drain camera inspections, which gives them some serious tech skills. Those drain cameras are crazy, man…tiny little things, packed with so much power to get into small spaces.

And then you’ve got people who go above and beyond to do sewer repair, and I’m like…wow, you do you. I’m not going anywhere near a sewer if I can help it. I’m okay with the dark, and the smell is fine, whatever, but crocodiles live down there, and possibly worse. There’s a rumour that says some bad ghost thing used to live in the Keymore Mansion, but it got flushed into the sewers of Melbourne. Drain cleaning people don’t care. They just walk around down there, fixing things like it’s not a thing.

So they compete, with their tech skills and fearlessness and ability to navigate in the dark and they can also operate without seeing anything, did I mention that? Just sticking their hands down pipes that could be stuffed with anything, and it’s just a day at the office for them. Man, I wish I could be that cool.


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Suddenly, Ocean Homes

Talk about your crazy days. If things continue the way they are, there are going to be property conveyancers in Melbourne who exclusively deal in ocean property. You can definitely blame TV show ‘Echolocation!’ for that one. All the girls at the club are talking about it, it’s been on the front page of the Trumpeting Moon a few times, and they just commissioned a third series to continue the dangling plot threads of the second-season finale, which is a weird because it’s reality TV and these situations were probably dealt with months ago. Ah, whatever, it’s good television.

But seriously, it seems as if more people live in the ocean than I thought. Most of them are marine biologists, but the show has focused on a few people who live there for pleasure, so I guess this could really be a ‘thing’. All they need to do is make waterproof homes and drop them in the sea, and then the boating industry needs to start catering towards people who need boats for quick commutes, and then…I wonder what the legality of land ownership is like at the bottom of the ocean? Or even just the ocean in general.

I don’t think the sale of land act 1962 covers the sea floor, so conveyancers have their work cut out for them if they want to expand their jurisdiction. I guess it’d be the same deal if people suddenly started living in floating houses up in the clouds, although I guess ‘airspace’ is a thing, and airports might have a thing or two to say. Whereas the ocean floor is mostly just for the fish, and the occasional octopus.

We’re living in the future now. People just planting homes wherever they like; in sunken ships and submarines or whatever. Maybe I need to train as a conveyancer, learn how to do title transfers and then get a head start on how to process them when someone wants to live right next to the Great Barrier Reef. Now that’s going to be premium property in a few years.


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Suddenly, a New Kitchen

It’s a new year, 2019, time to put the past behind us. And besides, putting the past behind us is what we at the Futurist Club do best. It’s our entire reason for existing, to the point where it’s in our actual rule book!

So…the future. 2019 and beyond. And you know what innovation I’d really like to see? Holographic renovation. That’s not the best title, due to it being an oxymoron, but it sounds good and building a brand is everything. What that IS, is the ability to select things like kitchen and bathroom renovations, and have them installed at the touch of a button, via complex holograms. Now, bathroom and kitchen designers will certainly have their place, because the market for holographic designs is going to be immense. This isn’t just like installing a new phone background; this is something you’re going to see every single day. You’ll interact with it like it’s your real kitchen, and you’ll even switch between designs depending on how you feel.

Alternatively, if things advance beyond our expectations, then we could see the advent of hard-light holograms and those things are going to be totally revolutionary. You’ll actually be able to project an entire kitchen into an empty space (well…mostly empty), and you can sit on the virtual stools and put things down on whatever surface you like. I’d imagine that you’d find a bathroom designer or kitchen designer like you do now. They’d design the projection, much like they do now, except it’ll all be digital and made of light.

You’ll need a default kitchen and bathroom there, of course, because hard light holograms can’t create fire for cooking and water for bathing. But still, imagine the possibilities. Time travel, backwards and forwards, localised to a single room. Swap out rooms depending on your fancy, just like outfits.

Those will soon be hard-light too, obviously.

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