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.


Residential Kitchens

Residential Kitchens

I read something recently about someone living in the kitchen, with a bed and everything, and all I can say is YES. Yes please, all the way. So many winters I’ve been loathe to go to any other room. It’s the whole reason I’ve dragged my comfy chair in there, even though that’s not the safest type of furniture to have in a room with naked flame. Don’t care, and I’m careful. If I’m making cookies or muffins, I want to be in the room at all times to make sure they turn out just right. I’m particular like that.

Companies that do kitchen design need to make this a major part of the services they offer, because I can’t be the only one. The kitchen is just, like…the place where all the good stuff is. The food is there, which is a huge plus. Also there is the means to prepare the food. And then modern home design has the audacity to make us move to a different room for eating, as if you needed anything else.

I guess my perfect apartment WOULD just be the kitchen. You’ve got a humongous kitchen island right in the middle, equipped with everything you need from aga to microwave. And then, arrayed around this island as if insignificant, are things like chairs, your bed, a wardrobe, or whatever you want that isn’t kitchen-related. You could call them kitchen apartments and they would take the kitchen designer scene by storm. Everyone would want them, and they’d be my idea so I’d get a cut of the profits, and that would be enough to actually get a kitchen apartment of my own.

It’d sort of be like a studio apartment, I think, except entirely based around the kitchen in a nice little circle. I guess your only concern would be the wires and gas pipes coming from the wall, but that could be dealt with creatively. Gosh, I’m good at this…I should do kitchen and bathroom design professionally. I’m sure my parents would be my only clients, and even then dad would want to redo all my hard work.

The Icemen Cometh

The Icemen Cometh

Alright, fair play: freeze rays are a popular method of world domination. When I was drafted into this secret science division I just assumed I’d be the only one who tried to create a giant particle gun that would cause a catastrophic seasonal unbalance that would freeze the entire world forever in the icy grip of an eternal winter.

Then I met my co-workers, and I was soon disabused of that idea. Gerry tried it, Leroy tried it, and Kelsey over there made a massive freeze ray that could freeze entire army platoons into ice blocks with pinpoint accuracy. So yeah…I’m not special. I bet my idea was the best of the lot, though.

Now we’ve all been put in a team working in Brisbane, air conditioning services in that area are the best in the business. It’s sort of like being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and the next day you go into work owning a milk bar. At least the air conditioning we have in here is good quality.

We all know that air conditioning hasn’t reached its peak. Give me an average air conditioning unit and I could adjust it so that it uses the same amount of power and also causes a small blizzard in the room, but that’s not what the higher-ups want. No, they’d like us to just improve the current air con technology, make it so that the units are able to maybe clear out some of the dust themselves, and make them more sturdy so that they need fewer repairs. None of that interests me in the slightest, but I’ll play their game, for now. We’ll make air con units so good, every single air conditioning repair company in Brisbane will remove ‘repairs’ from their list of services and just focus on installations! Just see if they can stop us!

It’s a decent enough challenge, for now. And after this…instant freeze drinks.

Swapping for Good

Swapping for Good

You know that show on channel 56, Boss Swap? Does anyone else think that it’s kinda…I don’t know. Vindictive? I feel like it’d be a much better concept if it was just the boss going undercover as a blue-collar worker, learning about his company, working alongside people and getting to know what they think of the company…

Except there’s this other side of it. All employees who work with the boss are told that he suddenly moved to the Maldives and this new person will be their successor. And of course, the blue-collar person is clueless.

Last episode had the CEO of an auto parts firm going and doing ground-level auto repairs in Hawthorn. It was pretty funny because he was obviously trying really hard, but for the last decade he’d gotten other people to collect his set of luxury cars and fix them, and now he’s trying to live up to his pretend resume by servicing an ordinary Corolla. The mechanics are being nice about it, eventually the boss learns how to service cars a little better, and everyone is better off at the end.

Meanwhile, at the upper corporate end, there’s mass panic as everyone thinks that the old boss has gone nuts and put a total novice in charge. Stocks plummet as the blue-collar person makes bad decisions, morale sinks around the office, and things are generally just a lot less…uplifting. To reiterate, a guy in a car servicing garage down in Hawthorn struggling and learning a lesson about his employees is pretty cool, provided everyone’s cars get serviced properly. The flipside…that’s a corporate nightmare.


Dim It Down

Dim It Down

Okay, I’m putting my foot down. I get that offices aren’t generally designed to be the most fantastically fun places in the world – in fact, if they were, it might get in the way of business. But there are certain basic inclusions that can go a long way towards making them less of a drag.

One of those things is natural light, which my office has in overabundance. A second thing, given the former being the case, is UV protective office window tinting. Melbourne can get surprisingly heavy with the damaging rays, and my desk is positioned so as to catch the brunt of them during the sunniest part of the day. It’s okay over winter – pleasant, in fact – but during summer, it can get a bit painful on the eyes.

It’s not only getting fried by the sun that I’ve had enough of. I’m also seriously over Ken from finance doing his physio exercise on the floor next to his desk everyday at 2pm. I get that he has to do it and I don’t really care that much, but he gets really embarrassed and repeatedly taps on the glass partition throughout the process, reminding me not to look at him. I’m not looking at you, Ken!

I guess the solution would be to swap the transparent partition out for one of those commercial, decorative glass partitions Melbourne bank offices and the like seem to love so much. I mean, there isn’t really anywhere else for Ken to do his thing that isn’t going to present the same problem. The only other option is for him to acquire the self-confidence to do his standing McKenzies without worrying about what his colleagues might think.

Rest assured, the only thing I’m thinking about how is my expensive, custom-made office chair is going to be affected by the solar rays streaming in through the window – the fabric is probably degrading as we speak. And don’t even get me started on what it might be doing to my skin.

Steely Conversation

Steely Conversation

The eccentric guy down the road – you know, the one with the neurotic chihuahua – sucked me into yet another one-sided conversation this morning. It’s not that he’s a bad person or anything. It’s just that his chosen topics of conversation are generally of little immediate interest to me, and sprung on me at inopportune moments.

For instance, this morning I was literally running for the tram when this guy sidled up to ask me if I knew where to get the best price on steel tubing. Melbourne trams, as I discovered, don’t wait while you pause to experience conversational bewilderment. Seriously, do I look like I know about metal supplies? I’m a finance consultant, for crying out loud.

 Given that I was going to be late for work anyway, I offered the answer that I know absolutely nothing about sourcing steel products. The guy responded by politely enquiring as to whether I, perhaps, had some leads on metal fabrication services. That gobsmacked me even more. I’d thought my answer to the previous question had clearly implied that I don’t know a steel beam from my left elbow, and have little interest in changing that.

 I’m intrigued to know what people make of all this. Melbourne based steel fabricators might be more frequently sought out than I’ve given them credit for. I mean, I’m sure that people in certain fields of work, like builders, would be familiar with this area and maybe even find it interesting. Surely, though, it’s not common knowledge… or did I miss the memo about the building industry being standard conversational fodder?

Regardless, I spent a further five minutes listening to old mate carry on about his preferences in steel lintels, beams, pipes and plates. By the end of it, despite myself, I admittedly had half a mind to engage in a bit of a handyman endeavour with regard to that roof issue I’ve been having. And, darn it, I spent my tram trip searching for residential structural steel suppliers.

A Pain in the Neck

A Pain in the Neck

I ran into Janine again today – she’s an old colleague from my legal days who I only ever seem to bump into at the grandkids’ soccer games. I thought she was looking a bit worse for wear and, after some subtle prodding, she told me that she hasn’t been sleeping very well due to some persistent neck pain she’s been having.

Honestly, I’m not surprised. That might sound uncharitable, but you should see the way she works – hunched over with her face about ten centimetres from her computer screen for hours at a time. She’s been working ten hour days for several years straight, and insists on wearing the highest heels I’ve ever seen. It was really only a matter of time before her body started protesting.

I wonder if she’s made time to see someone about it – perhaps a manual therapist like a physio. Cheltenham has a good clinic; I’ve been there a few times about my knee. If they can keep an old timer like me on my feet, surely they can provide some pain relief for Janine. I’ve also had good results from seeing a remedial massage therapist. Sandringham used to have a great mobile guy; is he still around?

I reckon all she needs is to make some changes to her lifestyle. It’s not rocket science – being sedentary in the same position for the majority of your waking hours isn’t going to do your body any favours. I’d say that to her myself, but I doubt she’d listen to anyone other than a professional. And, obviously, I can’t speak on behalf of the physiotherapy profession; there could well be more to it. I just can’t help but think it’s very likely she’s brought this on herself.

There’ so much more in the way ergonomics these days than there was back in the day. Now it’s acceptable to have dynamic workstations – standing desks and all that. It surprises me that more people aren’t taking advantage of these options.

And We’re Back, with Kitchen Design!

And We’re Back, with Kitchen Design!

At long last the second season of ‘The Great Australian Trade-Off’ is upon us. Thank goodness, because I was straight-up going nuts here. Watching old reruns on Neat-Flicks, reading every single magazine article on the subject, and of course spending hours and hours on the forums, trying to predict what challenges would be coming up, which will be new and the ones that would return…

So, new team of contestants, and I think I’ve figured out their one-note personalities from the first episode. Oh, and the very first episode was about custom kitchen design! What a dream! I’ve been saving up for that sort of thing forever, although there’s always some extra expense that stops me from getting my extra sink.

They changed the format up a little bit as well: first is a team round, where they’re given a half-finished project and have to finish it. This time they separated into two really big teams and ahd to renovate a giant commercial kitchen each.

After that it was the innovation round, where they were given parts and had to assemble a kitchen appliance of some sort. And the Final Challenge, which this time had them draw up the designs for their very own kitchen, then they had to direct a small team to create the kitchen of their dreams. First time they’ve done a challenge that took more than a day, and I think it’s a great addition to the format.

If you were into kitchen designs, this was the episode for you. I’m ALL about quality kitchen makeovers, so this premiere has me hyped. Plus in the forum sweepstakes I’m one for one. Next up I’m guessing…farm maintenance? It’s a bold guess, but I have faith they can pull it off.