Antenna Antagonism

Antenna Antagonism

Curses on this midwinter nonsense! Not only do I have to have the lights on from 3 in the afternoon and either blast the heating or wear fingerless gloves at my computer, but the wind has been gradually chipping away at my roof. First it was a tile back in May, then another one in June. Now my antenna has fallen victim.  

I wouldn’t describe Melbourne as an especially windy city. It’s just that this house is an annoying combination of crumbling and heritage-listed, which means the owner is required to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to have it repaired. I’m getting the sense that motivation is lacking on that front, but it hasn’t been causing me too much hassle (yet).

I’m not especially concerned about a broken TV aerial, to be honest, aside from the fact that it’s dangling precariously over my car parking spot, intertwined with an overhanging branch from a nearby tree. The satellite dish is also positioned at a questionable angle, seemingly threatening to take a tumble into a neighbouring window. I’ve texted the real estate agent and they haven’t replied yet, so I’m thinking of calling in someone off my own steam and forwarding them the bill.

Who deals with tv antenna installation, Melbourne? I’ve never given it a passing thought. I don’t really watch free-to-air or cable tv, so it’s just not on my radar. I guess I’m starting to understand why owners of rental properties can appear so self-righteous – it’s because they’re expected to finance these kinds of repairs on a regular basis, when they’d rather be chilling out and making a passive income.

I get that. Organising antenna repairs are simply not on the list of things I’d be keen to sign up if I was to buy in the whole property shenanigan. Regardless, the real estate agent could at least get back to my text, rather than leaving me to figure out how to avoid copping a tv aerial through my windscreen and/or a satellite dish as an unwanted hat.

Kitchen Renovation = Stress Relief

Kitchen Renovation = Stress Relief

Renovating a kitchen is probably the best stress relief there ever was. Need to release all your anger? Kneel down and start ripping up some floorboards with your bare hands. I guarantee, you’ll be feeling a lot better by the end of it. I also quite enjoyed taking a hammer to the counter, which isn’t usually part of the process but this time had to happen because their tools weren’t working. I dunno, I just found it to be a lot more fun.

I could do this for a job. In fact, I bet if there are people who fit commercial ovens, they must all be incredibly chill. You have to wreck a lot of stuff before you even get close to putting in a kitchen, so at least they know that when they come into work, they always have that waiting for them.

Come to think of it, there are probably a few jobs of that sort. Imagine being in control of a wrecking ball…now THAT appeals to me. Or being the guy who presses the button that sends the buildings tumbling down, due to them being blown up at the base. Probably aren’t a huge amount of those jobs going, and maybe they have some sort of rota system that states who gets to press the final button, but dang…that’d be great.

Then again, renovations have that extra element of being able to not only rip up a whole load of stuff, but also to see the place when it’s shiny and new. I’ve enjoyed that part as well, even though I’m no professional. Such is the life of someone who does renovations and installs commercial deep fryers and all the big stuff: satisfaction in the morning as you tear out the old, and parental pride as you look upon the new. All done by your own hand.

Is it the best job in the world? It has to be in the top 5 at least, right behind the wrecking ball person.


Surprise cash means a new backyard

Surprise cash means a new backyard

I was able to use my windfall (apparently it’s not called win-fall; news to me) to bring my garden alive, with some sleepers. I love my backyard but sometimes I just don’t know why. This was my cry every time I would wake up at the crack of half past nine, and see the backyard that stood in shambled before me. It has all changed now (definitely for the better though I’m still out of bed at half past nine) and I can honestly say that I love the new backyard. It all started three weeks ago when I got a message in the mail.

I get a letter stating that I’m the recipient of a windfall of some $6,000 and I’m super happy. I mean who wouldn’t be? I decide that since I’ve got this great house, but a not-so-great backyard, I would do it up. I want a cool backyard garden, with veggies and fruit in it so that I can say I’m now a real farmer. I want an outdoor entertaining area where my friend can gather and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

The first step was to get a retaining wall and some concrete sleepers. Melbourne gardeners seems to have this obsession with symmetry, and concrete sleepers are  a great way to create smooth lines in a yard. Of course this meant speaking to the landscaping professionals and as such, it also meant that I was basically just listening to them talk about things that I really don’t understand. I know retaining walls and concrete sleepers are things that I need, so I understood enough.  I didn’t know at the time what concrete sleepers were, but it’s pretty obvious now that I’ve seen them.

The next step that had to get done was to fix up the driveway. Unlike most homes, most normal homes anyway, this driveway was not in the front, but in the back. I’m sorry home, I don’t mean to be rude, but having a driveway in the back of your home is not normal.

The backyard sort of doubled as a driveway of sorts with loose stones acting as the paving. I wanted a proper driveway, Melbourne North is well known for garden parties and I simply want to be a part of the local culture. That meant that the landscapers had to get super special concrete to match the rest of the house, the rest of the yard, and now my massive ego. They delivered in a spectacular way. I’ve got the best driveway in the street if you ask me.

Cold Blooded

Cold Blooded

I absolutely love winter. I get that this might be an unpopular opinion with some people, but I can’t get enough of that cold, crisp air. Maybe it’s my Norse blood, or maybe I just overheat easily, or both. Regardless, I’m currently in my element here in the ACT.

My housemate, Marcel, is the complete opposite, as we’ve recently discovered. We cottoned to this a few weeks ago when the mercury started dropping. That’s when I noticed Marcel’s preference for having the ducted heating system. Canberra residents love these units turned up to eleven, much to my disdain. He would freak out when I tried turning it down, but I’ve since explained to him that it’s too hot for me when he runs it that hard. Plus, it costs a fortune.

I’m coming round to the fact that Marcel needs some heat on to function over winter, especially at night. I can handle it, as long as he’s not turning the joint into a sauna. As for the cost of running it, I have to own that I tend to go to town on the air con over summer, which Marcel finds unnecessary. So I guess we’re square.

On the plus side, Marcel is quite the nitpicker when it comes to having our appliances serviced. He mentioned this morning that he wanted to get the heating checked for gas leaks, which I can jive with. We might as well get the air con checked at the same time. I should know who is good for a gas heating service, Canberra is not exactly warm in Winter after all.

I think we work pretty well as a team, on the whole. Not like me and my last housemate, who not only would never dream of getting something serviced until it was completely broken, but would also be the one primarily responsible for breaking stuff. What was he thinking, putting a tent in the dryer that time?

Now that I think about it, he’s probably the reason the air conditioner was a bit hit and miss over summer. Maybe I’ll send him the repair bill.

Really Hoping the Great Beyond Enjoys this Car…

Really Hoping the Great Beyond Enjoys this Car…

This car lark isn’t as easy as it looks. I managed to purchase a frame on B-Bay, and it arrived all rusty and barely fitting in my very small garden. I’m also concerned about what will happen if it rains while I’m in the middle of making this car, and all the parts get wet. I mean, cars are waterproof to a certain point, because I’ve definitely seen people driving in the rain, so maybe it’ll be fine. Still, can’t be sure. I need to watch more tutorials on Me-Straw.

Fortunately, I’ve done my homework, oh yes. I know for a fact that there ARE auto mechanics in Ringwood. That’s very useful by itself, but I’m also aware that they help you out with car things. Like, if your car goes wrong. I am ALL over this, so basically, whenever I have a problem with my car- which in this case is the general problem of me not being able to build a car- then I can ask them. Perfect plan, and it’s not like I think they’ll be giving advice for free, either. Although I might be able to chance it, especially since the onus to build this car comes as a message from the great beyond, and thus it’s kind of important. You’d think a mechanic would provide free services based on the fact that I’m trying to save the world here, but not everyone understands the great beyond in the same way that I do.

So, car frame, mechanics…next step I’d say would be wheels. I do happen to know where I can find a whole bunch of wheels, because there’s a junkyard-type place right behind where I live, and there are a load of burned-out tyres in a pile. I guess I just need to find a the best place in Ringwood for brake repairs and maintenance, have them stitch these ones up, and there’s my car all ready to…roll. Not much else except roll, but it doesn’t yet have an engine. Rolling is the best form of locomotion it can hope for at the moment.


Little Black Renovation

Little Black Renovation

My brother, Andy, is currently having a new kitchen installed. He mentioned in passing yesterday that he’d opted for the black tiles and cabinets, to which I may have responded with an unnecessary amount of laughter; Andy stormed out of the cafe in a huff and refused to pay for his hot chocolate.

It’ll probably look really good. It’s not that I have anything deeply against the colour choice; it’s more that it’s so typical of Andy to opt for it. He owns virtually nothing that isn’t black – from his car and his clothes to his keys and tea towels. The one exception is his house, which is the usual house colours. That’s why I found it amusing when it became apparent that he’s working towards attaining the all-black space he clearly dreams of, beginning with this custom kitchen installation.

I’d better text him to let him know that I didn’t mean anything in particular by my reaction. He must realise that it’s a bit unusual, this habit of his. Besides that, I was meaning to put him in touch with the bathroom renovation company that just did my friend’s en-suite. I know that Andy has plans to move onto that next, and I’m sure he’ll be on the lookout for a black bathtub – not something you see every day!

I suspect that a black bathroom might make a bit more sense than a black kitchen, but I’m not really sure why. Something about there being so many tiled surfaces, perhaps? Or the fact that I regard a bathroom as a zone of relaxation, and therefore as a place where it’s appropriate to be immersed in darkness. I don’t know. A black toilet must surely be quite a designer appliance.

I also suspect that Andy actually has quite good taste, which is just a bit more stylised than that of the average person. I mean, black never goes out of fashion, right?

Yes, Those Bentleigh Services I Totally Need…

Yes, Those Bentleigh Services I Totally Need…

Mum and Dad taught me to always tell the truth, which makes life really boring. Whenever I want to spice up some juicy office gossip, or tell people that I went hiking on the weekend instead of watching Neat-Flix and eating caramel popcorn…their words ring in my ears. And grudgingly, it is true. Honesty IS always the best policy.

Except if you can get around it by carefully-planned half-truths, in which case carefully-planned half-truths are definitely the best policy. They’re the most fun, as well. For example, everyone in the office now thinks I drive a Bentleigh, which just so happens to be my favourite car. I just mentioned off-hand to Rian that I was looking for reliable car servicing in Bentleigh, and since Rian is a little bit deaf in his left ear, he thought I said that I was looking for reliable car servicing people for my Bentleigh. He repeated what he’d heard in disbelief, loud enough for everyone in the breakroom to hear. I stammered a little bit but then I just said, rather simply: “Yes. I do indeed require Bentleigh car services. Bentleigh is what I said.”

I needed to say no more for clarification. No one has straight-up asked me if I actually do have a Bentleigh, so now I’m the talk of the office. People keep asking if they can see her, but I say no…I’d rather not show anyone. My Bentleigh is very special (because it doesn’t exist). I’m very sensitive about my car (because it’s not real). I’ve been saving up for a Bentleigh for ages (that one is actually true).

As you can see, I’ve managed to dodge most of these so far, but if it ever comes to lying, I’ll have to come clean. Actually, I just need car servicing for my 2003 Toyota Corolla…in Bentleigh. Auto electrical if at all possible. But no one yet needs to know that…

-Brent Lee

The Motor Boat Kid

The Motor Boat Kid

Our 9 year-old daughter came home from school today having acquired a new fact for her collection of historical miscellany. Apparently, the first ever speedboat racing title was won by a female racer in the 1920s. Tiff now claims to have her heart set on getting hold of a boat to go with her newfound fact.

She wants a motor boat, naturally. It does sound like a perfectly good thing to get into, if a bit on the expensive side… but hey, so is learning to play the violin. I’ve just noticed that Tiff’s fascinations often seem to be kind of fleeting. My two cents on the matter is that she needs to knuckle down at one thing for long enough to really develop a passion for it. Could boats be that thing? It’s entirely possible.

I wish there was a way for her to explore this without having to invest in, well, a boat. I’m picturing some kind of kids’ club where they can explore the process of deconstructing a hull and fixing an outboard motor. Melbourne doesn’t have anything in the way of that kind of activity, as far as I know, and I’m probably not going to be the one to get it going, seeing as I’m completely devoid of mechanical expertise.

My teenage son tells me that his mate’s sister carried out a survey of anchor systems and winches in Melbourne as part of a statistics course for her engineering degree. This person is probably the closest link I have to knowledge even vaguely related to the subject at hand. Perhaps she could, at least, have a chat to Tiff about what might be involved in marine engineering, which would lend a clearer focus to a her fascination.

I’d really love it if this became Tiff’s ‘thing’. It’s just that she’s yet to demonstrate to me that she has a genuine interest in fitting boat parts and mastering their use. I have no doubt that she could get to that point if she’d just stop hopping from one passing interest to the next.

Prepare for the Cat and Dog Sporting Bonanza

Prepare for the Cat and Dog Sporting Bonanza

According to my research, cats are smarter than possums. And I’ve known some pretty smart possums in my time, let me tell you. One time when I went camping, a bunch of them formed an alliance with what I can only assume was a husband-and-wife duo of wombats and chewed through my tent AND my rucksack while I was out gathering water. Then I came back to find that they’d unwrapped all my protein bars, leaving me with…no protein bars.

So cats are pretty smart. And I think we all know that dogs are actually smarter than cats, though it can be obscured by their love and devotion. So the Cat and Dog Sporting Bonanza is going to go great, is what I’m saying. Maybe we’ll even make it a yearly mainstay, beloved across the city.

I’ve already talked to some people about extra-strength cricket netting, because I know some dogs like to chew, and some cats love to claw, and I think during the events they might think it to their advantage if they destroy the netting. That’s not so much of a problem with people, where you just have to worry about netting that can stop balls of various sizes, but now it’s serious. We need GOOD quality netting that can withstand a bit of foul play.

Our initial lineup is kitty cricket, doggy football and mixed tennis. I hope people don’t think it’s discriminatory that we’ve separated the first two, but my research indicates that each animal gravitates towards certain skills. Dogs are just better at football. People can moan, but it’s just genetics. The mixed tennis is going to be quite a show, once all the animals are trained. Essentially, we’re pitting the dexterity of cats against the raw power of dogs. Hence why the indoor tennis nets are going to have to be as robust as it gets. Resistant to ALL biting, clawing, scratching, chewing…and probably low-allergenic as well. It’s for the fans.


Tinted Windows…for Status

Tinted Windows…for Status

So I was reading a magazine, and there was an article titled ‘How to Look Rich…Even When You’re Not’. I’ve been buying these things for years and they’ve never had anything close to this useful in them. Usually it’s just 101 great tips to make your cat love you, or a complete guide to the beginnings of electronica-synth-rock in the 1960s. Now, something truly useful!

The first step is to buy a tiny dog that fits in a handbag, so…I’m skipping to number 2: tinted windows, everywhere. Just…tint everything. Wear sunglasses, tint the windows of your home, go totally crazy in your tinting crusade. I’ll be on the lookout for the best company to sort out my residential window tinting. Melbourne has plenty of building that have tinting so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the best. They’re ready to make your tinting dream a reality, so says the article.

Look, actually, this makes a lot of sense. Wearing sunglasses all the time means that you have all the power. Nobody can see your eyes, and sometimes they’re so strong that YOU can’t see anything, thus making you that much more cut off from the modern riff-raff. Now I’m thinking about what it’d be like if I got tinted windows all around my house. Nobody could see in, whereas I could be looking out at them all, laughing at my immense authority and perceived wealth. It’s also great for privacy, and rich people love that stuff. Just…walls everywhere. Walls and cameras, which seems silly because they could save a lot of time and money just by getting some residential window tinting in there.

I’m also loving the thought of having my windows tinted at work, and ONLY my windows. I’ll tell the boss that it’s to do with productivity and boom, commercial window tinting for me, handing me all the power and style. And…affluence. Well, everyone at work will think so, and I can definitely fool myself. That’s what it’s about, right?