Act II, Scene 3, Nothing Exciting

If life were a musical, then this would be the second number of the second act. The opening number of the second act isn’t usually anything special- although sometimes it can be a sleeper hit- so the one after that is usually pretty lacklustre. The audience is warmed up, and if they haven’t left during the intermission then they’re usually pretty invested in the story. So the second number? Pretty dull. Name any musical, and I’ll show you by example.

Things are just…dull. But they feel like they COULD get better, if I had the will to do something about it. My own brother just got his own Melbourne property with a buyers advocate because he’s marrying the girl of his dreams. A fancy house he can afford because he has a fancy job, I might add. Things picked up a bit last month when I went to that seminar on saving for your dream home today, but you know how those things can be. You get all pumped up on emotion, they tell you that you can achieve anything, they shower you in graphs and charts that show that you, too, can be a homeowner if you put in some hard work. Everyone holds hands, closes their eyes and repeats a solemn promise that they are an achiever and they can do anything. And then you’re left with a pamphlet and a bunch of empty promises as you go back to wherever it is you currently live and feel flat. Obviously you feel flat. You can’t summon a circle of people every time you want to feel enthused. And who has the property advocate? My brother. And he didn’t go to any conferences at all. He’s just the firstborn golden child who got the good job and the beautiful wife and the dog that could be some kind of dog model on the front of a bag of dog food. And here’s me…with my pamphlet. It’s a pretty nice pamphlet, though. Very glossy. Plenty of home buying tips.

The Great Fishing Battle of 2017

Have you ever been hit over the head with a fishing rod? I have. I didn’t think I’d ever be admitted to hospital with concussion from a fishing-rod related incident, but there you go…life is just full of surprises.

The Annual Book Club Fishing Trip has always been a time of great peace, much like actual book club meetings. I suggested it years ago as a way to get the club outdoors, but also not have anyone shy away due to intense physical activity. I figured…well, I know about fishing rod holders and boat types and the whole industry, and everyone’s just going to spend the whole time reading anyway, so why not? And it was a success! It actually brought people into the book club, since everyone wanted a piece of the action. Not much ‘action’, but…well, i think it became pretty far known that we were a book club with a twist. I got all my book friends into fishing, the club grew, and so eventually we had over seventy people lining up for the fishing trip. And all I did was suggest we study ‘Catch of the Day: A History of Rod Holders’. I just thought everyone would like to learn more about the industry, you know? But someone started a massive argument over whether plate alloy boats were a better and more efficient option than traditional wooden ones. Things flared up, and to be honest, I think there was a lot of tension this year after the whole coffee spill incident. The fuse was lit…and then Anthea just blurted out that  she’d always thought that ‘To Kill a Mocking Nerd’ was THE worst book ever written. You know, the most polarizing book in the club’s entire history. There was no going back. The battle raged across boats. I tried to stop it, but 92-year-old Bert Willsby smacked me over the head with his fishing rod and sent me to hospital.

I just…wanted people to learn about fishing, snapper racks and the joys of reading on the water. I never wanted this.

-Bill

They’re…Video-Sharing Platforms

I love me a good pun. So long as it’s an amusing wordplay, it totally works for me. In fact, I’m part of a one-man travelling art project, seeking to unveil the tiny, wonderful word plays that exist in the world all around us. Recently I arrived in Melbourne, and I asked around to see what the big industries are right now. People really seemed to like welding, but I wasn’t getting anything from that. Pet grooming was interesting enough, but…too easy. Animal puns are the lowest of the low hanging fruit.

And then someone mentioned that mobile scaffolding was big news, and I had a brainwave. Funny, that…I’ve just been in Sydney, and they’re experiencing a massive burst of interest in this new brand of instant coffee. So that was fine. But platforms? That’s a word that can go places. I found myself full of excitement and energy as my mind began to spin through the possibilities.

My current exhibit can be found in Trafalgar Square since it seemed pretty appropriate. I’ve got a bunch of aluminium platforms, some very long extension cords and all kinds of videos playing on various screens. For you see, they are video-sharing…platforms. Platforms for sharing videos. Pretty clever, right? I got the idea from watching Me-Straw. There are loads of video sharing platforms online, so what I’ve done is created the ultimate video sharing platforms in real life. If people get it, then good for them. If they don’t…well, this is Melbourne. There are all kinds of weird pieces of modern art lining the streets, so no one really questions it. I’m pretty sure I set up the aluminium platforms right, so that’s the main thing. I spent a lot of money on all those screens, but then that’s my level of passion for visual puns. They really do separate the strong from the weak-minded.

-Todd

Pest Control, or Pest Negotiation?

You know, sometimes I think pests get themselves a bad rap. Bad rep? One of those.

So everyone sees an ant and they flip out. They call in the pest controllers, and that’s the end of that. And then there are the strange crowd who think you can talk to the bugs, which is…yeah, that’s a thing. But still, I have a pet rat, and it’s made me think. Obviously this is a fancy rat. No disease, only goes to the toilet inside his neat little cage, and never bites or anything. Very friendly.

What if we could do that with other pests? Okay, so you’re in Frankston. You see some termites and it’s just no good. They need to understand that their actions are harmful, and that the current situation is not okay. So the pest controllers from Frankston come along…and they could be trained differently. The termites, I mean. Well, the termites AND the controllers. Instead of extermination, a compromise is reached where the invaders are lead to see the error of their ways and ;eave of their own accord to go and chew on a tree that nobody cares about. So, insect negotiation.

Not just insects. I know for a fact that mice and rats are extremely intelligent creatures, some of them more so than dogs and cats.

I’m not sure if the termite control professionals out of Frankston deal with other pests that could be of equal threat to homes. I do think that with negotiation, positive reinforcement and possibly a reward for continued good behaviour, pest control can be done without anything having to lose its life.

Now, I’m not PETA or anything. And I know some mice and rats and termites and spiders (ESPECIALLY spiders) just won’t understand. Their stubbornness will make actual pest control experts, as they are now, necessary. But still…it’s food for thought.

-June

People Should Sail More

There are a great many materials that aren’t good for boats. Paper is definitely one of them…but after yesterday’s fiasco, everyone knows that. It still happens every year, we try to tell them not to, but…they still do it! What a joy, year after year.

Still, I feel like boats are steadily growing more and more obscure every year. Maybe that’s because they’re a bit of a commitment, and the whole world now runs on activities that can be completed with your butt in a seat. Still…it’s not exactly a golden age of boating. Ask your average person in Melbourne about anchor winch maintenance, and they won’t really know because they’ve never been taught. It seems as if the only way you know about boating culture is if you were born into it.

Maybe I’m wrong, and that’s just the way it’s always been. Or maybe I’m projecting! Perhaps my love of the sea is clouding my judgement, and I just think everyone should like the same things as me. Still, I really do genuinely believe that people are missing out. There’s no feeling quite like cruising around a bay in your very own vessel, or even just going for a ride in someone else’s. For creatures with no real swimming ability compared to the species that live in the sea, it sure does feel right to be out there, with the wind in your face and the sea spray all around. People have always loved the sea; it’s why so many cities are built right next to them. Well, that and trade.

Okay, so maintaining your own boat is a chore at times. Melbourne based outboard motor repairs companies are pretty good, though…it’s not like you won’t find someone to help you out.

I don’t know. I just think everyone should try owning a boat, or at least getting down to the docks every once in awhile. You’ll almost certainly have a great time.

-Debbie

The Chamber of Meetings

Alright, so we just did THE weirdest thing ever. Pretty expensive as well; Melbourne’s portable hyperbaric chambers aren’t exactly ordinary furniture. And even THAT can be pretty expensive. But we had our big planning meeting for the entire year, and a lot rides on that sort of thing. Shows are getting cut, others are getting renewed, and then I had to make my presentation on the merits of rebooting the old ‘Schmuck-Tales’ series. We only trialing children’s TV, so it might end up being a bit of a risk.

Then we arrived at the staff meeting, and there was no desk, and no chairs. The boss had filled the room with hyperbaric chambers…you know, like the ones you use to recover from sports injuries and for people with breathing problems. But now, he wanted us to all get inside, breathe in some sweet oxygen and communicate via intercom.

Yep. Weirdest planning meeting ever. But I have to say, I’m pretty sure it worked. Nothing like breathing in some extra oxygen to really get those brain cells going. Mark came up with this amazing idea to renew ‘The Fizzy Quagmire Show’, but move the setting to Sydney from Canberra and have the main characters trying to make it as pop stars instead of politicians. Kids will be much more into it. We were finally brought around to the idea that Ricky Louse was actually a terrible mascot and we need to rebrand with a more cuddly animal. And of course, my presentation on ‘Schmuck-Tales’ went off without a hitch. We’re meeting with an animation team tomorrow.

Dang, Melbourne’s hyperbaric oxygen therapy really does do the brain some good. I’ve never felt more focused. Hopefully we can hold onto the ideas, but…well, all those chambers are still sitting there. I thought they were rentals, but I guess we actually went ahead and bought all of them. Could be useful?

-Rav

My Accommodation Must Have Mints

I’ve been looking at hotels for an hour, and none of them mention whether or not they have mints. Seriously, this is an international problem, because I’ve been looking at hotels all over the world and no one so far has mentioned it. That’s…unforgivable. The mint on the pillow is a basic service. It’s the thing that makes you feel like you’re somewhere else, as WELL as giving you a burst of minty freshness. Oh sure, there are a FEW things dotted around the hotel room that might give you the first thing. Nobody has a telephone in their bedroom any more, for example. But that unique combo can only be achieved with mints.

Guess I’ll just be taking my holiday is Lorne this year…again. We always go to the same cosy beach apartments in Lorne, ever since I was a child, and I know for a fact that the owner puts mints on everyone’s pillow. It’s like, 50% of the draw of the place, knowing that you’ll be receiving a minty fresh welcome. When do you get THAT at home? Never. That’s the answer to that question.

It’s not that I don’t like Lorne, but I’ve always wondered what it would be like to go somewhere else. I suppose there’s also merit in going somewhere familiar, though…because that way, you know exactly what you’re in for.  In your mind it becomes a place of relaxation and no stress. It is your special holiday place, where everyone knows your name. I’ve eaten at all the best restaurants in Lorne and the owners are always happy to cater for my family.

If I went off to Tokyo or something, I’d be stressing constantly about the language, and getting around, and getting lost, or committing some kind of foreign crime.

Too much stress. I’ll stick with the luxury Lorne accommodation, thanks very much.

-Tennyson

The Architect has Spoken

I like to think of myself as an architect of the future. Like, I don’t actually build anything, and I’m not a real architect, but sometimes I look at a place and I can just SEE what it’ll be like in the future. Or…what it should be like.

Energy-saving methods just keep getting better, and it’s not just bulbs. Solar power, wind power, hydrogen power, punching power, moon power, crystal power and many, many other kinds. Commercial energy storage in Melbourne will one day provide most of the city’s power needs, which will become greater because people will always need more power. As the world becomes smaller and more connected, the power requirements soar. 

 While I’m sitting here in this cafe  I can’t help but wonder what it’ll be like 20 years from now. In the future, I imagine that there will be no friendly person to greet me and take my order, sad as that may sound. I’ll enter my order into a terminal, and a robot barista (not shaped like a human, because that would be silly), will be the one making my coffee. Or maybe just a machine? But the machine will be able to talk and make light conversation, because obviously we’re still human (barring implants). Where does all the power come from, you might ask? Well, commercial solar power will be more efficient than ever. In fact, the parts of the outback we haven’t converted into lush forest will be coated in solar panels, providing basically all of Australia’s power needs. This all get routed into large commercial energy storage banks, so basically we can use all the technology we want without any fear. Also, gigantic catapults along the equator toss any waste we DO create into the sun, so…easy. Between Melbourne’s commercial energy monitoring and utterly renewable power, I foresee that we don’t have anything to worry about.

The architect of the future has spoken.

Change is Inevitable, Home Buying is Fun

I’ve been saying for years that this family is due for a change. People are so afraid of that little word…they hear things are changing and they curl up into a little, metaphorical ball and just refuse to negotiate. Well, now is a better time than ever!

I know, I know…the circumstances aren’t perfect, what with our family home being a burnt out shell. There are so many things that could be said, and are being said. ‘What were you thinking?’, for example. ‘You said it would be a nice surprise’ is another. ‘Fireworks are clearly marked for outdoor use ONLY’ seems to be a favourite of my wife and kids at the moment.

But it doesn’t matter how it happened; it happened, and we’re making the most of it! We can have a good old look around Melbourne. Buyers advocates are lots of fun; we can look for one of those too. Then we can add even more people to the fun adventure of us finding a home! Also, they specialise in finding the perfect home, which we’ll be needing since…I will admit…the way we lost our last one was slightly traumatic. We deserve a really nice house hunt and a happy ending, especially if it means we don’t have to live in this caravan any more. Not that living in a caravan is entirely a bad thing. I like to think it’s a grand adventure in and of itself. It’s like we’re travelling circus folk, hooray! Just like in those old Surreptitious Six books. So fun times lie ahead. We’ll find ourselves a quality Melbourne property advocate, have ourselves a good old home hunt and spend our nights looking up at the stars, toasting marshmallows on the fire that we built because the heating is broken. But that just makes it more adventurous. An open fire, just like the old days!

-Gareth

An unusual path to beauty

Everyone has a unique story about how they got into their career. Some people start off sweeping floors in a factory and work their way up to middle management. Others graduate with an Arts degrees and end up as network security officers. For me, it was an equally strange and unexpected route.

I wasn’t doing much with my life after finishing college. In fact, I spent a lot of time in my bedroom watching beauty videos online. They’re really quite addictive. I particularly enjoyed listening to them on my headphones late at night.

All of my favourite videos revolved around beauty therapy, like facials and laser hair removal. Melbourne has this crazy strong beauty culture that I never understood until recently. I was enjoying the content so much that I wanted to recreate the experience for other people. That’s when it occurred to me that I could look into a beauty therapy course. Melbourne has a few of these colleges that teach and qualify you to work as a professional beauty therapist. So I chose one that looked good and I went for it.

During my studies, I found myself enjoying the hands on beauty therapy stuff just as much as watching the videos. The students got to practice on each other so it was a good way to build muscle memory, far more effective than learning out of a book. I enjoyed rubbing lotions into people’s faces and the satisfaction they got from looking great made me smile. We also learnt how to do some specialist stuff like spa treatments and lash and brow tinting. I remember giving one girl in Melbourne anti wrinkle injections and thinking, “I never thought I would be taking beauty courses!” Girls seem to have this unquenchable need for beauty treatments, which means I’ll never be short on business. So long as people are sprouting hair out of their bodies and are needing to impress others, there’ll always be jobs for me.