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Look After Your Car

I used to think that I was uniquely disadvantaged, given that I work with cars and people are always doing stupid, car-related things. Like, I have to see people driving around with flat tires, stripping the gears because they don’t know how to drive a manual, or any one of many other ways to abuse a motor vehicle. But then…I think I realise now that everyone has this problem, if they care about their job at all. Writers notice all the spelling and grammar mistakes, doctors and nurses see people NOT taking care of obvious health stuff, all that. That said, I still carry a few business cards for places with motor mechanics in Bendigo, from back when I used to work for them myself. Most of the time people are appreciative of me kindly pointing out that the car they’re driving is close to exploding, and they should probably see an auto mechanic about it. It’s enough people that it makes it worth it when the occasional person gets offended.

But then, I’m a total hypocrite now because I’m involved in the planning for a destruction derby event. Still, I’m one of the people down to help keep the cars in one piece, so I guess you could say I’m the equivalent of a medical professional who loiters near a boxing ring, or a UFC cage match, just to make sure people don’t hit each other too hard. Or at least, if they DO hit each other too hard I can jump in and stop it from getting any worse. So if I wasn’t there, it’d be a lot worse. It’s definitely not the same as people just refusing to take care of their cars, then whining to their local Epsom car servicing professional because they were driving around with the oil light on for weeks.

I just couldn’t be in the car with those people. Not unless they agreed to drive right then and there to an auto servicing professional. I’ll tolerate it for entertainment, but negligence with a motor vehicle is just too grating.

-Mark

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Kittens Galore

It’s raining kittens!

No, really. I mean, not really, but it might as well be, because our courtyard is temporarily full of them. My new housemate fosters abandoned kittens, you see, and he’s rigged up a huge, fully contained playspace for them in our courtyard (the real estate won’t let us have them in the house).

Anyway, a group of five assorted fluff balls were dropped off our house today, and now they’re sleeping in a sheepskin-lined box. Earlier, they were gambolling loudly among the various play apparatuses Jeff has created out of cardboard boxes and cylinders, and trying unsuccessfully to climb the tree. It’s the best.

These kittens are old enough to have milk replacement formulas and solids, which is lucky because they appear to be orphaned. I assume the next step is to have them checked out by a vet and then directed to their forever homes. Jeff knows the whole procedure, but I’m not familiar, and I can’t wait for him to get home to find out the lowdown – I’m too excited by all the kitten-fuelled goodness. What’s the go with cat desexing in Bayside? I’m wondering if there are council requirements around this specific to the Brighton area. Local vets: care to weigh in?

Alongside that, what can I expect behaviourally from these youngsters? I’m pretty sure Jeff estimated their age as being around eight months old, and (if today’s anything to go by) they seem to be into sleeping for a sizeable chunk of the time. When they were awake, though, they were super talkative and into pretty much everything.

On that last point, as much as I’d love to have them to be inside the house, I’m actually kind of relieved that they’re not – I reckon they’d get themselves into a bit of trouble with our house plants and people food and endless nice things to destroy. Fortunately, they’ve got plenty of shelter and activities galore to enjoy out the back.

That’s enough gushing from me – time to go and see if they’re still as adorable as they were before!

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Kitchen Stuff Please

Start a catering company, they said. It will be fun, they said. You like to cook, I said.

That last one is true, I guess. But as soon as something becomes your job instead of your hobby, you’d better prepare for the whole concept to come crashing down a few pegs in your mind. It’s like moving into an apartment with your best friend, and it’s all sunshine and roses for the first few days because you’re total besties and now you can be together all the time! But then towels are left on the floor, rent is late, dishes are unwashed, someone keeps missing their turn on the roster to clean the toilet and good grief, Samantha, if you block the dishwasher one more time I’m going to shove a dish rag in your face while you sleep! Then put the dishwasher on the pots and pans cycle.

I need a commercial wok burner. That’s the current worry, because I have 200 people to feed on Saturday, they want a Chinese feast and my pitiful little two-person burner just isn’t going to cut it. Commercial grade goods are something I’ve been in dire need of for a while, but the catering business has exploded so suddenly that I just can’t keep up with the massive demand. Can’t stand the thought of refusing jobs that I’m pretty sure I can do myself, but it’s really going to bite me at some stage, and this might be it. Maybe I could borrow a commercial wok burner? And this imaginary person could also let me use their commercial steamer, because 700 dumplings aren’t going to steam themselves; certainly not in the fun-size steamer I have in the van.

And the van…hoo boy. It was fine for small gatherings, but I don’t even think it could take a commercial oven before it loses the ability to go up hills. There’s a ‘bitten off more than I can chew’ pun to be made here, except there’s really nothing funny about the situation.

-Albertine

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The Halprin House

Who knew that building an architect-designed house would be such a hectic undertaking? Everyone except me, evidently, given how widely I was advised against it. I’m not having regrets, but I am increasingly aware of how much easier it would have been to just buy an existing house.

If anyone’s having regrets, it’s the construction team tasked with putting together the unorthodox structure of exposed steel beams as visualised by Wilson Harper, my loopy architect. I just heard one of the crew virtually shouting down the phone at three different handyman steel suppliers. Melbourne being the design-oriented city that it is, you’d think the residential structural steel supplies need build an avant garde beach house would be readily available, but apparently the particular make of lintel needed for my arched doorway is harder to come by than you might think.

It’s not as though the whole team isn’t getting paid handsomely. I’ve gone premium on the whole shebang, partly at the behest of Mr Harper and partly because it’s just how I roll (which, admittedly, was probably instrumental in drawing me to the guy’s work in the first place). Even so, from what I understand, there’s a vibe that the design of this house is one of the more trying projects that the builders have come across lately.

I would think that, when it comes to steel fabrication services, Melbourne wouldn’t be the type of place to come up short. That being the case, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just have the requisite steel products custom-made – there’s budget for it. At least, I think there is. I’m fairly certain it didn’t get burned through in the excavation process.

Either way, at the end of the day, it’s not like I don’t have money to burn on an experimental residential building. If I have my druthers, it will one day be known as ‘The Harper House’ and featured in international architecture quarterlies.

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Renovate the Kitchen? Okay, Sure…

The landlord came today and said that the kitchen was in a really good condition. He also said that he was really surprised that it was looking so shiny and new, especially considering that we’re a bunch of uni students.

I didn’t want to tell him that we don’t really…uh, we don’t USE the kitchen. Sometimes we use the microwave to heat up pizza and other leftover stuff, but that’s pretty much it. We get chips and stuff when we want them, and since Gazza discovered breakfast bars we haven’t even had to use bowls for cereal. Just grab a bar and you’re out of bed and ready in five minutes. Sleep is awesome, man.

So now he says that we’re getting some serious kitchen renovations all up in here, and he said that we can’t go in the kitchen for a few days while it’s all being done. Like…okay. We can just take pizza into the lounge like we usually do, I’ll keep the chips in my room, or we can buy our own chips…uh…anything else? Oh yeah, gotta keep the beer cold. Maybe we can get a mini-fridge and keep it in the lounge? Actually, why don’t we do that ALL the time?? It’s where we take the beers anyway.

Even if we get a bit old kitchen makeover, I’m not sure if we’ll use any of the stuff. Maybe we could request a few things? Like, it’d be nice if there was some sort of oven that heats up at the press of a button to the same temperature every time. Then we could stash the pizza in there when one of us is late back from uni, so it won’t get cold. And maybe a bigger fridge, because sometimes we have too much beer and it doesn’t all fit in.

I dunno what goes on when you get modern kitchen design. Maybe robots or something. But if it’s not to do with takeaway or keeping alcohol cold, I’m pretty sure we don’t be bothered. At least it’ll be clean.

-Derek

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Game Design Office, Still an Office

Turns out that working in a game development studio is pretty much your average 9-5…with games. Not games during work, mind you. That would be seriously cutting down on productivity time. No, we just do stuff to do with games, and it doesn’t really seem to affect the way business is done all that much. A lot of people here are younger, which makes sense…and I guess I’m just doing grunt work. Still, I thought the vibe of one of Melbourne’s very few game design studio offices would be a little bit more energized.

Guess I just have to work my way to the top and change all that, because hoo boy, I’ve been planning this since I was five years old and my parents got me a Mega Pluto System. I wonder if there are businesses that offer office fitout near Sydney that would be able to take something as wacky as what’s in my head and make it a reality? I bet most office designers get calls for a lot of the same stuff, not that they necessarily WANT to be doing the same thing over and over again. “Yeah, could you make it open plan? White walls are fine. Some sort of neutral carpet; light blue, maybe. No, dark blue, definitely. And maybe have a few slightly alternative lights hanging from the ceiling that no one will notice after the first week. Thanks.”

Whereas if I was in control here, I’d make this a REAL video game office. Like, consoles on pedestals to show how far we’ve come. Screens everywhere with games just active, so anyone can jam on them and get their working mojo back. And the wall graphics…well, there would be wall graphics. That, and so much more. I bet if I found an office renovations and fitout company right here in the middle of Sydney and asked them for that, they’d appreciate the unique challenge. That’s what all offices should be anyway: representative of their type of business. And fun. Because games are fun.

-Soren

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Winter Is Coming

Barb and I went camping in the mountains on the weekend – the first time we’ve been all year. Personally, I love being outdoors at this time of year, when the cold weather is just starting to creep in. Barb’s a bit more bothered, but we sorted her out with a pocket hand-warming device and some huge hand-knitted socks courtesy of my mother.

Coming back into Melbourne, though, got me thinking about the oncoming winter months – specifically, those mornings that make you want to put your day clothes on over your pyjamas to avoid the chill. Here in the city, that cold factor isn’t even mitigated by breathtaking views of frosty alpine slopes.

That line of thought brought me to the vague recollection that we’re due for a heater service. Melbourne winters are much easier to tolerate with a working heater of some description. Ideally, I’d love to have a fireplace, but we’re still a ways off from being able to install one, so for the moment it’s gas.

It’s not like I feel a need to have the heating on constantly – there are plenty of other ways to keep warm, as we’re currently attempting to teach the kids. Not that teenagers are much interested in rugging up in grandma’s blankets when it’s so easy to hit a switch on the wall. That’s a benefit of a wood-burning fireplace, actually: it would make them work a bit harder for their heat, and maybe consider their energy consumption in a bit more depth. 

But at the end of the day, ducted gas heating close to Melbourne in winter is something I really appreciate having access to. I don’t plan to leave it to chance as to whether our system’s in good working order, like I did last year. That was a mistake, let me tell you. When it finally conked out, it just so happened to be the coldest day of the year.

Blankets and bottomless cups of hot lemon tea are so important for wintertime comfort, but it’s nice to have a heating system to fall back on.

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How Do You Revive an Office Culture?

Got to say, I’m not really impressed by Polo: A Space Conflicts Tale. I get that everyone wanted a definitive origin story for Dan Polo, the galaxy’s most notorious space polo player (space polo is like regular polo, except they use massive spaceships instead of horses, and they wield gigantic laser bats to smack planets around). And it’s nice seeing how Dan got his name (because he plays polo) and how he meets all of his friends, but the whole thing just felt generic.

Generic is something I don’t really need any more of in my life, and if you saw my office, you’d understand. The place looks like the start of some 80s movie about a guy who feels trapped in mediocrity. Pretty sure the last time the boss got on the phone to find the best office designers Melbourne companies can trust, it was the seventies. Back then everything was covered in a haze of smoke and you could make it all as drab and lifeless as possible. Now we live in the enlightened era where smoking in an office building is utterly unthinkable, so…drab, lifeless office for all to see!

Even if there was some kind of office fitout whirlwind over the weekend and I came in to find that the walls were purple and all the cubicles and spinning chairs had been replaced by open-plan beanbags, I’m not convinced that the people here would fit the space. They’re all a little bit older than I am, a lot more world-weary, and no one even gets my pop culture references. I’m not even going to bother asking if anyone has seen Polo, because I know none of them have. And I guess asking a bunch of generic people if they’ve seen a generic movie is a recipe for boredom anyway.

I could be wrong, though. Someone could win a competition, getting us the best office designers operating in Melbourne to come and glam up the place, thus causing everyone to suddenly wake up and realise that life is beautiful and what-not. But I have my doubts.

-Len

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All Elbows and Knees

So… I have golfer’s elbow, apparently. At least, my physio suspects as much. It’s bizarre because I’ve never played golf in my life. If anything, I should have tennis elbow, given that I play tennis on the regular. But it seems that this affliction is not limited to golfers.

It’s actually called medial epicondylitis, if you want to be technical (or less sport-specific) about it. From what I can tell, it basically just means inflammation on the inside of the elbow, where the forearm tendon attaches to a bony thing called the medial epicondyle. It’s kind of like tennis elbow but flipped around to the other side of your arm. Fun galore.

One of my tennis buddies has been telling me for ages that I should stop clenching my fingers when I grip the racquet, but I keep writing her remarks off as pedantry. Oops! I’m going to have to lay off the tennis for a bit, so I’ll have plenty of time to revise the formal aspects of racquet grip between appointments for my shoulder pain with my myotherapist. Cheltenham area locals: who’s your go-to? I’m getting tired of heading way out west to see my old faithful; it’s time to find a clinic in this neck of the woods to look after what ails me.

My brother is always going on about his mate, a professional footballer, being magically cured of injuries by his sports physio. Sandringham is a tiny bit out of my way, but I could probably manage it if the results are really that good. I mean, I know there’s no magic cure for sports injuries, but a good physical therapist can go a long way towards making it seem that way.

On another note, I sometimes think you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t when it comes to physical exercise. Either you’ve got a sore back from being too sedentary, or you find yourself with golfer’s elbow from playing tennis. Where’s the middle ground? Maybe it’s swimming.

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Cars for a New, More Elegant Age

Now that we’ve all received the wonderful news that the moon will soon be terraformed, we should really start thinking about the various things we’re going to be needing when can walk tat verdant surface. Oh, there’s still a bit of holdout from the grump sorts who can’t accept that we’re going to be confined to domes for the rest of our existence, but they are just terribly short-sighted. How can we bear to gaze out at the lunar surface, gorgeous as it is, and NOT be able to walk upon it, except in bulky suits? This was always meant to be.

Of course, my mechanical skills were vital before when servicing the moon buggies, but I’ll be even more vital when it comes to building actual roads, and the fantastic future cars that will be driving upon them. As everyone should already know, I did my work experience at an auto mechanic. Ringwood was a different place fifteen years ago. My work experience lasted a whole four-and-a-half days. In that short week- shorter than usual because we finished early on Friday- I absorbed everything I could, and I’ve re-visited all of that information multiple times over the years. When Brother Whitley needed help replacing his tires, who stepped up? It was me! When Sister Alberta was hearing some strange noises in her Corolla, who recommended that she should take it into the mechanic, so that they could have a good look at it and sort out the problem! Multiple people, me included!

To design and service the moon cars, driving upon those moon roads…surely, my destiny is this. I’ve been working an office job for ten years, always dreaming of tire replacement, brake servicing and the occasional RACV insepction. Ringwood might have been a good place before me, but now my future is among the stars, the master of lunar travel. Surely, this is a fuller and richer destiny than any upon the Earth!

-Varra

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