Help for All Kinds of Addiction

And there you have it: video game addiction has now been officially classified as a disorder by the World Health Organisation. As head of Lawrence Corp’s gaming division, you’d think this would come as a blow. Not at all, in fact; I’m glad people will be getting the treatment they deserve, and in a strange way, it also legitimizes the place of video games in ordinary life.

No one should have to suffer through an addiction, but now the downsides are now officially recognised and given the attention they deserve.

I should know; I’ve suffered from it myself. Quite recently, in fact. I suppose it still has some way to go before people treat it differently to just playing too much, but I was slightly embarrassed. Fortunately there was the online community. One such friend went to see a psychiatrist in the local Mornington Peninsula; said it helped him immensely. In retrospect, that seems like what I should’ve done. That is, both go to see a psychiatrist AND shipped myself off to the Mornington Peninsula for a bit of rest of relaxation. It certainly would’ve beaten trying to get to a stressful office job every day and thinking about nothing but the game.

I know, there are people with worse addictions and mental problems out there. But that’s not a healthy way to think. And now that I work at Lawrence Corp, things are just better. This company *cares* about the mental states of its employees, even as they have us developing and testing games and consoles every day. The upper management knows the dangers of addiction. No doubt if anyone under their management needed a bit of counselling, they’d be allowed a trip to a psychiatry clinic in Mornington, and dare I say a bit of time to gather their thoughts on the beach. It’s truly a great company.

A wonderful company indeed.


Driving on Crushed Rock

Everyone has sounds they like, which don’t seem to do anything for other people. It’s not weird. YOU are the weird one. Remember that old musical movie, The Taste of Tunes? The one about the strict military mother who hires a free-spirited child-minder who uses his free-spirited nature to bring life back into their German mansion via music. Heart-warming to a degree, but I really didn’t like the part at the end where the entire family became Nazis.

Yeah, so, anyway…there’s that song the guy sings about his favourite stuff. Doorbells and sleigh-bells and sauerkraut with fried rice. Pretty sure that’s how it goes. Sounds can be ultra-satisfying, and one of mine is the sound of a car driving on a crushed rock driveway. Mm, yeah. It’s like listening to a symphony, except better. It’s not the cheapest of home alterations, but I just had to get it for our driveway when we moved in. And I didn’t tell anyone, but that was part of what swayed me towards this place from the beginning: the driveway is unusually-long, so that’s several seconds of uninterrupted crunchy goodness.

It’s also pretty good as a soft alarm system. With straight concrete driveways, you can never really tell if there’s someone there, you know? Unless they have a really loud engine, that is. But with a crushed rock driveway, you can tell instantly. You get that lovely, crunchy, wheels-on-pebbles noise that tells you that the in-laws have arrived, they’ve brought their sixty-year-old game of Boggle with half the letters missing, and it’s time to make oneself very busy.

The only real drawback of a crushed rock driveway is that it’s a pain to walk on without shoes. As in a genuine pain. There, I will abide a small pathway of solid concrete or slabs, so that you may traverse your driveway, pick up the post from the post-box and get back without developing some kind of foot condition.

But really, even the sound of shoes on a gravel driveway…definitely ‘some of my favourite stuff.’ If you need recommendations for driveway toppings around Cranbourne, you can trust me. I’ve listened to them all.


Discovering and embracing anti wrinkle injections

As part of my weekend ritual, I love going to the cafe down the street for a late morning coffee. I usually see the same old faces there. There’s the surly young barista, looking a bit seedy after what has obviously been a late night (he should probably get a non-morning job), and the middle aged couple who eat their identical breakfasts in silence. But last weekend, there was a new addition to this sober yet adorable crew: a very attractive older woman.

She was probably entering her late fifties. The only reason I could tell was because of her naturally lightened hair that didn’t have a streak of grey in it and her elegant gold-rimmed specs, which she peered over while reading a tome of a book. I began thinking about how well she’s aged, and how I’d love to look as good as her when I reached her age. I also realised that she couldn’t possibly look that good naturally. Surely she’d had some work done, like anti wrinkle injections. Melbourne clinicians probably do a much better job than the ghastly cliche of cosmetic treatments – women who look like they’ve had their skin stretched too tight over their eyes, over-bloated bulging lips. This woman in the cafe didn’t look like that at all – she had a gracefully aged appearance, with subtle lines of distinction, and minus the sagging jowls and eyelids.

I’m still only in my thirties but it’s probably time to start looking into these options, like dermal fillers and anti wrinkle treatments that can enhance your appearance. I’m going to ask about the treatments at the local place that does laser hair removal. Melbourne doctors actually recommend getting such treatments before it’s too late, that way they prevent the signs of aging rather than trying to fix the damage. If I can look as good as the woman in the cafe did, then I’ll be happy in my old age.

The Moon is No Place for a Child

I think it’s pretty obvious what we will not need on the moon, and that is children.

At least, not at the beginning. This is most certainly not going to be a popular position when I present it at the meeting tonight, but some things need saying, so I shall say them.

While I’m not overly fond of kids, I have nothing against them. I just think that, while we establish our Lunar Kingdom, it will not be a healthy place for a child. They just require a wide variety of extra services, education, entertainment and such…and I don’t think we can initially allocate the resources.

Besides, the Earth is currently well-equipped for keeping children happy. I drive past childrens’ party venues in Melbourne almost every single day, because people love kids and want the best for them so very much that there are entire buildings dedicated to their happiness. That’s all well and good on Earth, where the immense amount of space taken up by an indoor play centre- with climbing frames, pits full of balls and extremely large slides- is relatively acceptable. But children will have no such things in our space-saving bio-domes. I can imagine that they will be somewhat bored, with a lack of outdoor space and play equipment. We certainly cannot allocate space and weight on the rockets to climbing frames, when everything has been precisely weighed to ensure our survival.

That is why the children must remain here…for now. When we have the capacity for play centres and dedicated areas, they may join us. For now, they shall enjoy their idyllic existence with Melbourne’s indoor play centres and other such child-friendly areas for their entertainment. Allow them to have kids birthday parties, and other hallmarks of a happy childhood; not hard labour constructing a new world, without any such wonderful things.  It is what is best for the children. They might not want to hear it, but hear it they shall.

-Brother Luneth

Mum’s Paving Predicament

Mum’s on a backyard paving mission, and nothing is going to stand in her way. That is, anything but the massive cactus near near the back door. You see, this thing is so unreasonably huge that it’s going to be virtually impossible to relocate it, and she can’t bear the idea of taking it down – it’s been there longer than the house has.

Anyway, you’d think mum would be able to just pave her way around the behemoth, but no. Apparently, that would disrupt the complex geometric flow that she is so dearly envisaging. I have to say, I don’t really understand precisely what it is that she has in mind – I mean, how complex can a paving layout really be? I guess this is what happens when a maths lecturer gets involved in DIY garden design.

You’d think a mathematician would be able to solve this spatial problem herself, but mum seems to be getting unnecessarily stressed about the dilemma. Granted, according to her, it’s a logistic or structural thing rather than a design problem (go figure). Time to call in a pro, I reckon. Who’s good for garden paving design in the north of Melbourne?

I don’t think mum will be too happy about it – I know she loves to figure things like this out on her own. But she might be won over if I suggest it in terms of it being a way for her to get onto some new landscape design solutions. In Melbourne (north in particular), there’s plenty of expertise on this subject floating around, but there’s surely something to be learnt from observing a professional at work.

The other benefit of getting a landscaping pro in on the project is that they’ll be able to advise on what materials might work best – sandstone, limestone, pebbles or granite? Neither mum or I know the first thing about that. Anyway, I’d like to find someone who’ll leave room for a healthy dose of mum’s input – it’s her garden, after all.

Preparing for Young Minds

I know this has been debated a lot, but I really don’t think we’re getting around it. Not with the time frame we’re talking. Sister Lydia seems convinced that she can take a human mind and place it into a cybernetic body, thus meaning that our glorious new moon kingdom will provide us with immortality.

It’s a lovely thought, but humans trials have…well, let’s just say they *really* haven’t worked. I haven’t been instructed in the matter, but I’ve been making preparations for children regardless. A few brothers and sisters will be bringing their families anyway, and thus we need some services to cater to the younger ones. All the indoor play centres in the area of Canberra seem to have similar traits, on a basic level. Lots of colour, play equipment…and an obsession with animals. I haven’t been a child for a number of years, but I do vaguely remember having some sort of strange obsession with ponies. This ‘ball-pit’ is a strange idea, but the balls themselves are plastic and hollow. Perhaps we could store some on the rockets. without there being a serious weight concern. And then there’s the issue of schools…which I’m thinking can perhaps be meshed with the indoor play centre idea. We’ve already established that there’s going to be a zero-G leisure dome, so perhaps part of that can be dedicated to the children. Half of THAT will be the indoor play centre, and the other half, the schooling zone. And then there are birthday parties to think of as well, golly. Our great leader wishes to do away with birthdays, but children love them so. I was ALSO researching kids birthday party venues available in Canberra. Seems they’re often the same deal as the play centre. Makes sense, since going to the play centre seems to be a treat of sorts.

Cake will be difficult to come across in space; not many of the ingredients are on our ‘Essential Earth Supplies’ list. Perhaps I’ll have to cobble together a few different things. Be creative. For the children.


Life, Conveyancing and…So Much More

There are a lot of spies in movies, I’ve noticed. Do people really love spies that much? I know their jobs are exciting, but what’s considered exciting is really quite subjective. For example, I have a friend who trains guide dogs for a living, and every time we meet she’s always telling me how exciting everything is. Whereas there are loads of people who’d think that was pretty neutral, or even terrible.

Things are subjective, basically. So I’m wondering why there aren’t more films based around people in office jobs. People in Melbourne do conveyancing, you know. Quite a lot of them. They go to work in an office, and put their sandwiches in the fridge, and do coffee runs. They help clients and go on annual leave and sometimes have arguments with people who steal their parking spaces. It’s mostly just a lot of conveyancing though.

See, some people love that kind of thing. The real life that we all live every day is really the greatest adventure of all, if you think about it…so where are all the movies about that? They got pretty close with that one movie about the kid growing up, but really, that was just an overblown character drama disguised as a study of the human condition. BORING.

Oh sure, there are films about growing up, finding true love, solving family dramas and sometimes looking after dogs…but none on the struggles of setting up a tent in the rain. Or trying to plant azaleas out of season. People don’t make movies about ‘real life’; they make movies about life’s biggest struggles, which doesn’t speak to our everyday experience. I mean, there MIGHT be an artsy film about housing, but it’ll be all concerned with massive issues and national scandals, rather than just conveyancing and settlement. Melbourne alone has so much potential for representing the human life, as we actually live it. And yet…there’s no money in realism.


In which my parents adopt a pooch

Today my parents are going to visit some animal shelters, with the aim of finding a canine companion to live with. Their last dog, Frederick, passed away about a year ago, and they’ve decided that, even though he can’t be replaced, it’s time to connect with a new furry friend. When I spoke to mum on the phone this morning, it sounded like they didn’t have any particular qualities in mind, but would know they’d found the right pooch.

I was pleased to hear that they’d decided to adopt rather than buy from a breeder or pet shop. Apart from the obvious humane reasons for doing this, there’s also the health of an animal to take into account. Frederick, who was a pedigree red setter, had a number of health complaints, like hip problems, arthritis, and a strong predisposition to allergies. These made his life more difficult than it needed to be and warranted frequent trips to the vet.

Our local vet in Moorabbin was always fantastic with Frederick, but I’ve been suspicious of dog breeding since seeing Frederick’s constant string of mysterious ailments (which I believe were due to overbreeding). That’s why I’m happy that my parents are supporting adoption programs rather breeding ones.

I imagine that for animal shelters in the Bayside area, dog desexing would be the norm. While I’ve always had mixed feelings about desexing, I do acknowledge that it’s kind of necessary to avoid increasing numbers homeless domestic animals. Ultimately, too, I think it’s probably for the best in terms of getting these animals a new home. I would think that people are much more likely to want to take on a desexed animal.

I wonder what type of dog my parents will come home with? It could be anything from an cattle dog bursting at the seams with energy, to a terrified terrier, to a grizzled old mutt that just wants a long nap. Whichever it is, it’s definitely going get spoiled rotten until the end of its days. I can’t wait to meet the new family member!

Disco Dancing for Sport

I’ve just finished helping my little bro get ready for his school disco. I have to say, he’s got a pretty funky dress sense, for a ten year-old. His purple suit is definitely going to make a splash on the dance floor. He was showing me some of his dance moves, too – all I can say is that they’re certainly on the athletic side. For a kid who’s never shown much of an interest in sports, he’s surprisingly agile and has quality high kick on him.

His sporty moves are kind of appropriate, now that I think about it, given that the occasion is a fundraiser for his school’s sports department. They’re raising money to buy soccer goal nets for the school’s new oval. According to my bro, the school is planning to get angled soccer goal nets, and barrier nets as well (they aren’t too keen on losing more balls than they already have to angry neighbours, by the sounds of it).

Apparently, the school also needs dollars to pay for some tennis netting repair services. I’m so clueless on the sports front that I’ve never even heard of such a thing before. They need cricket nets as well, and some new basketballs.

You’d think that these kids don’t do anything other than play sports, wouldn’t you? I mean, surely they need equipment for other subjects too. When was the last time the school put on a disco for test tubes and beakers, or copies of A Midsummer Night’s Scream? It seems like the school is forever investing in sports equipment.

On the plus side, I’m pleased with the fact that little bro is showing an interest in something that involves physical exercise. If he wanted to get into playing a sport, I’d totally support that, and I can see that he’d probably be quite adept at it if he’s leaps and spins are anything to go by. But then, I’d also be interested in seeing him channel his seemingly newfound athleticism into the dancing arena.

Neighbour Needs to Prune

Since I moved to Ashwood a few weeks ago, I’ve been feeling increasingly irritated by my next door neighbour. Not only has she made a series of pointed remarks about my hairstyle, but she’s also got a giant tree in her front yard that’s blocking the light to half my windows. I  asked her directly (and politely, I thought) if she’d mind trimming it back, and she told me bluntly that she won’t be doing that because her son is against it.

I’ve never seen any evidence of this son, but I would be surprised if he turned out to be against quite a lot things that, conveniently, my neighbour herself can’t be bothered to deal with. This tree trimming business, though – it’s not that much to ask, is it? It’s not like I’m demanding that she stage a full-on tree removal. Services in Ashwood are many and varied, and I’m sure there’d be an arborist around who’d be happy to give this tree a trim at a reasonable rate.

In light of her unreasonable attitude, I’m beginning to form the conclusion that my neighbour just doesn’t like me. Either that or she’s like this with everyone. Regardless, I’ve still got this problem a lack of light penetration to the front section of my house. So, what are my options? Melbourne based tree pruning companies presumably won’t be that amenable to the idea of me paying them to work on my neighbour’s tree. What if I just told them it was my house? Would that be against the law?

Don’t worry; I’m not going to do that. But how can I convince my neighbour to arrange (let along pay for) the necessary crown thinning operation? Perhaps there’s some way of going through the council – I could lodge a complaint that her tree is diminishing my enjoyment of my property. This would probably be easier to do if the tree wasn’t in such great health, or was actually leaning over my fence (which it isn’t). She isn’t technically doing anything wrong.

I guess there’s always the possibility that I’m the cantankerous neighbour.