Hampering Productivity

Hampering Productivity

The hamper deliveries are starting to stack up again, even though Christmas is still a good couple of months off. Suits me! I have zero regrets about leaving the corporate world to start Home-brew Hampers, but I can’t deny I get a bit of a kick out of watching it unfold. And the silly season is a prime opportunity to observe office culture at its finest.  

Something I have to wonder about is the emphasis on productivity that characterises so many of these high-flying office environments. That’s part of why I left my previous job – I felt the sphere I was in was focused on quantity at the expense of quality, including quality of life. I’m convinced that there’s more than just productivity enhancement to be gained from  contemporary office fitouts. Melbourne businesses, on the whole, no doubt realise this on some level. But I’m not totally convinced that their spaces always reflect this authentically.

Lots of corporate workplaces order my hampers, and dropping them off in person enables me to spy first hand on the latest trends in office design. Melbourne is always on the pulse with this sort of thing, so there’s usually at least one significant innovation that’s become established since the previous year. If it’s not a breakout space bedecked with hammocks, it’s some kind of floor mat that you stand on to work on your trigger points (at your standing desk, obviously).

It might sound like I’m making fun of these trends, but I’m actually genuinely interested. What is it that makes people tick when it comes to getting things done in the workplace? Can the spatial features of an office really influence how work is carried out? Do Homebrew Hampers really help with staff retention? Do health measures implemented in workspaces, like standing desks, actually improve health, or just provide an ergonomic appearance of doing so while upping productivity?

Look, I don’t really have any innovations of my own to suggest. I’m just the guy who occasionally pops by with the home-brew kits and secretly critiques the scene.

Book Nerd Heaven

Book Nerd Heaven

People used to be so curious – even impressed – when I’d tell them that I worked in book publishing. These days, they either visible wince or give me a look that says, “I’m sorry to hear that, mate.” Still, I’m determined to prove that hard-copy books aren’t dead. To be sure, buyers are still out there, and Turtle Noise Publishing is proving it.

Of course, our staying afloat might have something to do with the strength of our market niche. My approach has always been to provide for the customer who loves the feeling of having a book in their hands, and go all out on features that will thrill that customer. It’s all about the sensory experience of reading a book. I never used to think of this as a niche, but I guess nowadays it is.

In light of that, I’m starting to think that we could do more in terms of workspace branding – that is, imbuing our offices with the essence of what we intend to capture in our products. Ever since we relocated from Sydney, we’ve been vaguely talking about investing in a custom office fitout. Melbourne was always going to be the city in which Turtle Noise came into its own as a cohesive brand, but we’ve kept the idea of overhauling our space on the backburner.

Time to start putting the feelers out for the right office design company. Melbourne businesses, do you have anyone to recommend? Essentially, it’ll come down to a designer’s ability to gel with the overarching concept behind what we do. I’ll need to feel like that has genuinely been understood, first and foremost.

The space functions just fine, but it’s my belief that there’s more to functionality than merely having everything meet the basic requirements of its designated purpose. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that, on some level, the feel of a thing – on an aesthetic, sensory or stylistic level – can effectively contribute to the way it works. Perhaps that’s the philosophy underlying my love of beautiful hard-copy books, too.

Taken For A Bride

Taken For A Bride

I’ve noticed this thing lately where people are like, why are brides under so much pressure these days? Why is there so much weight of expectation? Blah blah blah. You want my hot take? Get over it. If you’re a bride, you have the choice to wear whatever you want, to roll up for the ceremony whenever you want, and to not even have a ceremony if that’s your bag. Take some responsibility.

What I’m really trying to say is that all this supposed weight of expectation seems to come from within brides themselves. Honestly, when was the last time you thought to yourself, man, the calligraphy on these name cards is not quite right; they should have gone with the bronze ink instead of the violet. Or, these miniature cakes would have been better presented with candied lime than with Persian fairy floss. Or, she should have spent an extra grand on her dress, and her shoes (which I can’t even see) aren’t nearly impractical enough.

Okay. That’s my rant. I just think people getting married could stand to pay more attention to things like marquee hire. For events near Melbourne, it’s kind of important to get this right due to the inclement weather. If people put all their time and energy into finding ridiculous shoes at the expense of wet-weather solutions… well, you know what happens. Guests come away from the whole affair feeling much like I am right now: ill-tempered and sceptical about the union in general.

In case you can’t tell, I’ve just come from a wedding that was quite the debacle. The bride got herself into such a flap in the lead-up that she pulled all her bridesmaids away from wedding duties, with the result being that the maid of honour couldn’t liaise with the wedding marquee hire company. Melbourne not being at its sunniest, this was never going to be a good idea, but the bride saw her last-minute dress alterations as the most important thing to be dealt with. 

The dress looked nice, but not nice enough to justify everyone getting drenched. 

Viking Blood

Viking Blood

Everyone’s going on and on about the weather this week. It’s like, yeah, I get it. It’s as cold as a fridge inside. And so what? It’s winter; it’s meant to be cold. If it was warm, you’d be going on about that with at least as much fervour, although I’d probably be more into hearing about it because at least it would be noteworthy. 

I know for a fact that most of the people I’ve heard doing this have some kind of heating system. Most of them have ducted heating, a few have split systems and at least one has a rather nice wood-fuelled setup. And here they are telling me about the cold. As someone who doesn’t have any kind of heating system in place beyond a hot water bottle, a ski suit, a bath and a hard-working kettle, I’m well aware of the temperature, yet you don’t hear me complaining about it. 

I stopped bothering with climate control systems after I missed one too many instances of forgetting to book a heater service. Melbourne gets plenty cold in winter, but let’s be real – it’s not that cold. Have you been to Northern Europe? Now that is the definition of needing a working heater. I’ve learned that I’m happy to suck it up if it means I don’t have to mess around with annual maintenance, carbon monoxide checks and the like. 

I don’t know… maybe it’s my Viking ancestry, but I’ve never been that big on heating and cooling systems. Melbourne definitely doesn’t get hot enough in summer to require air conditioning; I’m convinced of that. Again, I think the cheese might stand alone there, but what can I say? We’re not exactly in the tropics. It’s actually a very temperate part of the world, relatively speaking. 

It’s true, though, that it is all relative. Friends from Sydney routinely freak out when they experience their first taste of a Melbourne winter, while Tasmanians probably think I’m soft because I own a down coat.

Walking Glass Disaster

Walking Glass Disaster

I was just thinking about this crazy hail storm a couple of years back, when my skylight got smashed in. There was broken glass and (essentially) a snowball all over the tax invoices I’d been organising at my desk. It scared the life out of my cat!

Why was this on my mind? Well, it came back to me when I accidentally cracked the bathroom mirror today while trying to change the light globe… yeah, I’m coordinated. I was trying to remember the name of the glazier that dealt with my skylight.

If this kind of thing is going to be happening every year or so, I could be getting more solidly acquainted with glass repair professionals, so maybe I should put out a request for recommendations. Who’s your go-to for residential glazing services, Melbourne? Are any of you as clumsy as me, such that you need to have a go-to in the first place?

My luck with glass surfaces has never been anything to write home about. I remember when I moved into my first apartment, and accidentally sent a heavy frying pan flying straight into the glass kitchen splashback. In my defence, this occurred during a party that was on the lively side, and… well, I can’t recall the rationale of waving a flying pan around, but I’m sure it was a reasonable one.

Then there was the time that I got in the way of my aunt’s glass balustrade installation, and took a chip out of one the panels before it had even been installed. From memory, I was riding my bike in the backyard and somehow got up a bit too much speed as I approach the outdoor staircase.

One of these days, I’m going to gain skills in managing my limbs around breakable surfaces. Evidently, I’m not quite there yet. But that’s why we have glass experts to call on, isn’t it?

Be Safe

Be Safe

It bothers me when people neglect to maintain their vehicles. After all, a minor issue left unchecked can lead to a major one, which has the potential to endanger other people on the road. Even when it comes to things like rust and dents, I feel like there’s a basic standard of upkeep that I’d like to see upheld. I don’t trust car owners who feel otherwise – it’s like, this is your chariot, people.

I realise I’m being pretty judgemental here. Not everyone can afford to have their scratches and scrapes immediately repaired. The real concern is when people put off having, say, a wheel realignment or a brake pad replacement. Ringwood has too many cars on the road that wouldn’t be up to scratch in the event of an unexpected hazard. And, as harsh as it may sound, I’m not okay with that.

There’s a good explanation – it’s because I’ve been personally impacted by road accidents in my time, and I wouldn’t wish the same on anyone. Both of the incidents I’m referring to could have been avoided if the driver responsible had kept their car in better condition. Of course, accidents can happen even in a factory-fresh car, and there are a lot of different factors in play. But in these particular circumstances, I believe that the most significant one was long-term vehicle neglect.

Blah. I didn’t really want to get into all that, but there it is. The road can be a dangerous place under the best of circumstances, so don’t take the risk of skipping out on essential car repairs. Ringwood is a busy place and a peak hour hotspot, and we all need to do what we can to minimise the likelihood of road accidents.

This is why I get triggered when I see superficial damage to cars on the road – I extrapolate it to other issues that might be more hidden, but which can dramatically impact the lives of other drivers.

Winter Is…Cold

Winter Is…Cold

In my household, you know that winter is coming not because the calendar says so, but because of the incessant sound of sniffling. Like clockwork, everyone gets hit with hay fever at pretty much exactly the same time, which is usually precisely a month before peak chill sets in. It’s weird because I know heaps of people who get it at the start of spring, but I’ve never had that, nor has hubby. I guess the kids have inherited our exclusively pre-winter allergy situation.

In my experience, there’s not a lot to be done about it, although it probably wouldn’t hurt to book in for a ducted heating service. Melbourne tends to start off its cold season in dribs and drabs, so turning on the heating is not yet a daily event. By my calculations, now’s the last window of opportunity to get the ducts cleaned and check that the gas is all good before it starts becoming necessary to have the heating on most nights.

I always forget this, but having the system touched up tends to make the allergies settle down a little bit. I don’t know if it’s because there’s dust in the vents that gets blown out into the air or what, and the effect is kind of subtle, but still. I’ll take anything I can get at this point, what with the number of hankies we’re going through at the moment. I’ve had to ration them to two per person per day. Any usage beyond that number is allowed, but it means washing your own hankies.

While I’m at it with getting the heating serviced, I need to remember to call in a carbon monoxide tester. It does feel like just another annoying thing to think about that’s most likely not going to reveal anything out of the ordinary, but hey – that’s the price we pay for having gas appliances.

I suppose the one upside of all this sniffling is that it’s a perfectly timed reminder to get this stuff looked at.

Danger Zone

Danger Zone

My parents have this hair brained notion of building their own boat and using to sail up the east coast of Australia. Doesn’t sound at all dangerous, does it? Not that people can’t do such things; of course they can. It’s just that my parents are known for being a bit… well, not very detail-oriented when it comes to DIY jobs. That’s putting it diplomatically.

For example, they once did an overhaul of the kitchen in which they ripped everything out, rebuilt it and then realised they’d forgotten to leave a space for the oven. Then there’s the time they set out a meticulously planned overland driving holiday, only to realise after a day’s driving that they’d left behind their trailer. I’m sure you’re getting the idea.

You can see, now, why I’m a tad iffy about these two embarking on a waterborne adventure without professional guidance. I can’t help but predict that they’ll spend all their energy on things like bow rails, bait boards and custom fishing rod holders, and in the process forget something indispensable, like adequately researched navigation skills.

Trust me, I want to support them in their ambitious endeavours. It’s just hard to do that when their track record strongly advises against it – especially in something where lives could be at stake. Maybe it’s just me, but marine fabrication really seems like something that ought to be left to the experts. At the very least, it probably shouldn’t be carried out by two blithely uninformed scatterbrains without professional supervision.

I don’t even know how they’re planning to start the process. I mean, where are they going to get the stainless steel from, and the tools needed to cut and weld it? It’s true that my parents have a lot of friends with a diverse range of skills that are forever being shared around. That might be part of the problem, actually.

Stranded Sister

Stranded Sister

My sister Tammy just called to let me know that she can’t make it down from down south this week after all. This is not at all a problem for me – on the contrary. It’s a cause for celebration, if anything. I really wasn’t look forward to Tammy and her random companion making themselves at home in my house.

Anyway, her car seems to have broken down in a major way, and is currently in the hands of an auto mechanic. Mornington is a perfectly nice place, so I don’t feel especially badly for Tammy, although she’s horrified at having to shell out for accomodation. It’s not that she doesn’t have the money, it’s just that she’d arranged to take advantage of the free option provided (somewhat grudgingly) by yours truly.

I’d be more than happy to put Tammy up if she’d only do the same for me when I visit Hobart. She has a big house with plenty of room to host me, but she insists that I’d prefer to stay at a hotel. I can’t get away with suggesting the same to her, of course. So it seems that her little motor breakdown is giving her a bit of comeuppance.

Of course, I hope she can get her car fixed so that she can eventually hop back over the pond and be further away from me. That’s why I’m keen to make sure that Tammy has chosen a decent auto repair shop. Mornington residents, do you have any ideas?

That said, I don’t want her car to get fixed too quickly, because that could mean her having enough time to pop up and take over my house for the weekend. From what she told me, I don’t think it’ll be in working order any time soon, but who can say?

I don’t really care how all this makes me sound, honestly. I’m tired of feeling obligated to this girl just because she’s my little sister. This could be a useful reality check for her.

Watching the Sparks

Watching the Sparks

The world is seriously lacking in real electricians. It’s true: the local electricians Bayside area has on offer are swamped, because electricity has become our very lives, and without it we have to do awful things like talking to each other and playing that game where you chase a hoop with a stick. I mean, seriously.

I’m not an electrician, because I have a violent allergic reaction to rubber, but I do run a website called where I call for more qualified electricians to join the fight against having to chase a hoop with a stick, or play Risk. Ugh…Risk. The worst time-filler since swing dancing.

I used to think I was the only one who truly cared about the electrician crisis, until I joined Odd-Match. I thought I’d make a profile, state that electricians and home rewiring and commercial electrical installation were things about which I was quite passionate, and maybe after a few months I might make contact with a semi-like-minded soul. Imagine my surprise when I found a whole miniature society of people just like me, with a forum and everything.

These people, like me, vehemently support the work of electricians, and they also see the consequences of there not being enough of them to meet demand. We’re all hamstrung by not being able to become electricians ourselves, too. Tamika has a mortal fear of lightning after a thunderstorm incident in her youth, George has taken a vow to never wear a hard hat in honour of his late hamster, Zachary has a compulsion to shock himself that makes him stay away from all power outlets…but we’re all united by a common goal: to make sure there are enough commercial electrical specialists.

It’s so nice to find more people like me. Although I did ask if they knew Spark Watch, no one did, and I found out that I’d never set the site to go live after four years. My bad.