Coffee and Construction

What’s with people always firing up in-depth conversations with the barista at my favourite coffee joint when I’m behind them in the queue? I seem to observe this even more than usual when I’m in a rush. Find someone else’s ear to chew on, will you? I needed my double espresso five minutes ago!

Take this morning, for example. When I got to the counter, I found a suited-up dude carrying on endlessly about the commercial applications of structural steel. What, for the love of god, has that got to do with purchasing coffee and a Gruyere toastie? Evidently there’s some relationship, because my barista proceeded to chime in with his own thoughts on where to buy steel beams. Melbourne being what it is, I should probably not have been surprised by this – of course the shop has its own custom-designed roasting plant down the road.

Okay, fine. Part of what I love about my barista is that he’ll willingly engage with whatever topic you care to throw at him, no matter how specific. I’ll concede that he’s spent his share of time spit-balling with me about the future of the rag trade. I just wasn’t aware that he’d be as responsive to musings on the construction industry.

Regardless, there’s only so long one can be expected to wait in line hearing recommendations for structural steel fabricators. Melbourne  residents surely have some thoughts around quality steel products. How long is it appropriate to chat with a barista for, especially when there are people queued up behind you waiting for their post-commute caffeine hit? I’m inclined to say 10 seconds, maximum. I don’t care how many metres’ reach that knuckle crane had or what the load-bearing capacity of your new development’s internal columns is.

Yes, alright. I could stand to take this advice myself. I daresay the verbose chap in question would care as much about the comeback of the French seam as I do about the latest developments in building materials. 

Offices in the Future Sure Are Robotic

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Our office DID win a competition, and it’s a great honour to be trialling out ‘the office of the future’. And the new place is even slightly closer to where I live, so I get an extra five minutes in bed!

Still…the future isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. This is supposed to be where all the companies that do commercial office design. Sydney based offices are just too expensive at the moment.

We’re greeted at the door by D4, our friendly robot doorman. We show him our cards, make some small talk, and he opens the sliding doors. And already, like…okay, D4 is nice. I like how they gave him a little porter’s hat to make his unblinking robotic eyes seem a bit friendlier, but it just takes so much longer than swiping a card. Then we take the state-of-the-art elevator up to our floor, which is pretty cool. Gets you there in about three seconds.

The office design once you step out is…distinctive. Everything is chrome, basically. T4 the doorman takes your coat and gives you a unique code to access it at the end of the day from the coat cupboard. Then if you want coffee, you just speak to J4, who scans your eye signature and makes your brew just the way you like it…in theory, anyway. The desks are all minimalist designs, and the chairs are this sort of…jelly-like bean-bag style that conform to your body shape. I do like how they have wireless charging stations and compact fridges at every desk, so you can just put your sandwiches in and charge your devices or whatever. And everything in the break room is voice activated, and…

I could go on. But I just think that many of the ‘innovations’ make things take longer. If it were up to me, in charge of a company that carries out things like office fitouts for Sydney, I’d keep things minimalist. Just aim to improve the working experience. All those robots have to be expensive, right…?

-Rowan

Sometimes It’s Just as Simple as Kitchen Jealousy

It’s a serious problem in both fantasy and sci-fi that the plot ALWAYS has to involve saving the world, or the universe, or all realms. There are almost no exceptions, and you probably don’t know about them because they’re exceptions. It’s like…the scale is bigger, so the stakes have to be bigger and then some. If it’s not a grand battle for the fate of the universe, well…it’s not gonna be printed, or filmed.

What a double standard. An episode of Week of Our Lives can just be about Mavid getting irate with her next door neighbour- the snooty Taylor Snitsby-Taylor- because her kitchen renovations and design are exactly what she’s always wanted, and Taylor is just rubbing it in Mavis’ face that she bagged a husband who can do DIY and transform the kitchen in such a way. Oh, but you throw in one elf, or a laser gun, and suddenly the plot has to be all about a battle for the fate of the multiverse.

If it were up to me and I had any writing skill whatsoever, I’d write a story about an elven forest kingdom full of magic and wonder, except the main conflict of the tale is that Aesthelas just upgraded her elven wood-fire to a trendier model and has been bragging at the woodland council meetings about how it’s the pinnacle of modern kitchen design. Obviously this makes Pyrenthia super jealous, because her life-partner has been promising to conjure her a flame spirit to do the cooking for months now but he keeps saying he’s too busy to learn and for her to wait. But she can’t wait. The leaves of the Great and Ancient Valour tree aren’t going to turn themselves into a delicious soup of immortality! Pyrenthia NEEDS her kitchen renovated, with magic, and she needs it now.

And so the entire book is just a story about how she gets more and more jealous and how she eventually comes to realise that sometimes, friendship is more important than enslaving a fire demon to cook her food.

There. Nothing world-shattering…just a normal circumstance, the equivalent to the kitchen renovations. Melbourne in’t exactly a fantasy world, especially with all the constructions going on around the city. I prefer extraordinary fictional settings to the real world.

-Gaelen

Kitchens…ON THE SUN…?

I simply can’t wait to see what our new homes look like…on the sun!

No, wait…the moon. The moon! Definitely the moon. I’m loyal to the future, most certainly.

Anyway…I, uh, simply can’t wait to see our new lunar housing! It may take a while to get used to, space might be at a premium, the low gravity will make all sorts of daily activities interesting, but in the end, the benefits will outweigh the negatives. Surely, it will be a place of innovation and greatness, and also light.

Not TOO much light though. Wouldn’t want to be craving brightness like some of those sun lunatics, eh?

Speaking of which, I’ve heard there’s been a big drive from their side to recruit some installers of commercial wok burners, to preserve the food cultures of Earth. I simply can’t abide the idea of the solar kingdom having better equipped kitchens than us; something MUST be done. Kitchen design is more important than people realise, you see. The kitchen is where food is prepared. Food leads to social activity, social activity leads to the creation of a new and wonderful solar culture…uh, I mean, LUNAR culture! If we don’t have kitchen renovations by our side, then we shall lose out on the culture war that we are currently waging against the accursed moon brethren. SUN brethren, gah! Silly me, must be my meds acting up.

Perhaps we can train some of our own in the ways of commercial installation? We already have such a grand number of skills at our disposal, so I don’t think adding the kitchen units is too far beyond the pale. Let the sun scum have their silly fryers. We’ll be the ones with the commercial deep fryers, which will eclipse theirs in power and splendour.

And the Lunar Kingdom shall rule in light and wonder! Sorry..I meant the Solar Kingdom.

Wait…no I didn’t!

-Solas

Running Hot and Cold

Capital cities are funny places, especially when you’re just passing through. That’s what Billy and I were doing in Canberra on the weekend. We were on our way out west to see her sister and needed a stopover to break up the drive, what with having a baby in tow and all.

We booked ourselves into a moderately classy hotel – comfort first when you’re on the road. At least, that was what we counting on. It’s not exactly high summer, so we deliberately picked somewhere with ducted heating. Canberra can get pretty cold, you know. The room we ended up with, though, fell quite a bit below the mark when the heating got stuck on full bore in the middle of the night.

Baby Hughie wasn’t very pleased with this state of affairs, and neither were we, really. We had to call up the management, who concluded we’d need to change rooms. Just what we wanted at 3am! There wasn’t really anything else for it, though. After all, heating repairs near Canberra aren’t available at the drop of a hat in the wee hours.

I can’t really blame the establishment, I suppose. They can’t be expected to have everything working perfectly 100% of the time; we just got unlucky. That said, I have noticed problems with the climate control systems – both heating and air con – at a bunch of different hotels I’ve frequented. I do wonder if they could, perhaps, stand to put just a little more thought into sticking to a maintenance schedule.

Anyway, baby Hughie finally went off to sleep just as we’d decided to call it a night and get up out of bed, so it was room service for breakfast. They do a very decent coffee there, I’ve heard, but I opted for a big old glass of iced water, in light of the fact that I’d been rocking the high temperatures all night.

Ain’t No Office Like a Millennial Office

Among my people, we have a saying: “There ain’t no party like an S-Club party.”

Surely, there is truth in those words. For you see, millennials grew up in a more enlightened time, when TV was good, children’s TV was golden and we knew exactly how to have fun: it was after the embarrassing disco era but before the time when everyone was just on their phones at parties, not paying attention. You could say it was the golden age of history, right behind the empire of Alexander the great and perhaps slightly ahead of the year someone started to make pizza pockets. That might have been the nineties, actually. Wouldn’t surprise me.

And so we have started a revolution, my fellow millennials and I. The culture of commercial office design is steadily changing to suit our personal tastes, which will soon be everyone’s tastes, because they are the best ones. For example, it’s now totally okay to bring your cat into the office. And some offices even have specialised nap zones! I haven’t had the pleasure of working in one- my current, boss says that we’re not allowed to sleep during the workday because it ‘lowers productivity’ and ‘we should be adults’ or whatever- but they do exist, and their number grows day by day. I’d love to own my own office design company, or maybe even just work for one, someday. That way I can unleash all of my own, wonderful ideas on the offices of the world. That day may never come, but until then, me and my allies are going to do whatever it takes to drag the world back into the golden age of the nineties, except with phones and office pods for napping, and office cats for petting and general stress relief.

Alright, think of it as a fusion of two eras. The best parts of the nineties, mixed with the modern office design of the current era. And then, my friends…the party will be like that of an S-Club jovial gathering. It will be a good gathering.

-Charn

New House Teething Issues

Apparently, moving house is considered almost as stressful an event as getting divorced. I’m not sure I’m qualified to weigh in, as I’ve never gotten divorced (or married, for that matter). But I will say that, if my experience of moving single-handedly is any kind of barometer, it could well be a common cause of divorce.

I’m joking. But you get my point – moving is a pain. In this case, a redeeming feature of the event is that this is officially my house, for the first time ever. Therefore, I don’t have to worry about having to do it all again in a year. The downside is that I’m fully responsible for it, dodgy-looking stains and all. So, uh… who are your go-to mobile carpet cleaners, Melbourne folks?

It’s not just the carpets that are looking worse for wear. There’s also the matter of the mouldy grout in the bathroom. These things need to be addressed before I can really make myself at home, which means I need to call a cleaning service on the double. It’s kind of embarrassing to say, but I’ve never had to call in a professional cleaner before.

Why is it embarrassing? Well, it’s not that I’ve never lived in a place with carpet stains and scummy tiles before, that’s for sure. It’s just that I’ve generally been able to call the real estate to do something about it, or else just put up with it. It now falls totally on me to recruit a company to deal with the carpet steaming and grout cleaning. Melbourne, at least, surely has plenty of options for this, given how well our climate lends itself to mouldy tiling and the like.

Look, I realise I’m being ultra petulant about this cleaning thing. So I should clarify that, on the whole, I’m genuinely really excited to be moving into my new abode.  It’s just that a week of moving heavy furnishings has taken its toll on my attitude; I just want get settled in already. It doesn’t help that my lounge got dropped in a muddy puddle yesterday. Upholstery cleaning, anyone?

Physio Sister

My sister, Marissa, has been calling me on a fortnightly basis for the last few months to rave about her new physio. I have to say, it makes a nice change from her previous obsession with texting every couple of weeks with detailed updates on her mysterious back pain. This physio must be doing something right.

That’s good info to have, given that I’ve been noticing something amiss with my shoulder of late. I told my Pilates instructor about it and he thought it sounded like a soft tissue thing. He said he could refer me to a good myotherapist near Cheltenham. I’m not sure, though – maybe I just need a good sauna session.

I don’t think I’m doing too badly on the body maintenance front, all things considered. I’m going on 40, after all, and have managed to get this far without any major issues – I’ve never even had a filling. I play basketball every week and go to the gym and keep my stress levels pretty low. Marissa, on the other hand, always has some new complaint, which I’m convinced is due to the fact that she works like a maniac at the law firm, never factoring in any downtime unless it’s forced upon her.

Her birthday is coming up soon. Maybe I ought to book her in for a remedial massage. Moorabbin is her neck of the woods; anyone know of a great massage therapist around there? I can probably sell the idea to Marissa by telling her that massage is known to improve mental alertness. I won’t focus on the stress relief and sleep improvement benefits – she’s the kind of person who believes that stress is her friend and sleep is for the weak.

I do wonder just what it is that her magic physio has been getting her to do. Is it exercise? To my knowledge, she’s never made that a priority. But it’s getting to the point that if she doesn’t start soon, her body will start having something to say on the subject.

People who work in glass offices…

I’ve been running around like a headless chook today. First there was that issue with the servers, then the electricity blew out just before the big presentation. While I was tending to all that, Mavis in accounts somehow sent her swivel chair flying into one of the glass partitions and put a big crack in the thing. When did this place descend into such chaos?

I’ve delegated the task of sorting out commercial glazing services to Rick, my assistant; it’s high time he became a bit less clueless about that sort of thing. Also, aside from not having a spare moment for it, I feel it’s not my responsibility seeing as I was against having the glass partitions installed in the first place (with people like Mavis around, it just seems like a massive liability).

That sandblasted glass stair balustrade at the front entrance could do with being looked at, now that I think about it. The logo is completely out of step with the rebrand, and nobody seems to have noticed. I reckon it could be tweaked somehow, but I don’t know if that’s the done thing or if we’d need to have the glass panel replaced with a new one.

I could go on. The mirror in the women’s bathroom is long overdue to be replaced – it was a good six months ago that we all started noticing that weird texture developing on it. I’m sure it can’t be the best for morale. But we share that bathroom with the lawyer’s office next door, so it’s something we’d have to discuss with them, I suppose.

Why am I even thinking about this? It’s not my responsibility. I guess it’s because I don’t trust Rick to think of combining the glazier call-out re the partition with having the balustrade situation assessed. I feel like I’m the only one here that thinks to do things efficiently. But I suppose the only way for him to learn is to leave him to it.

I’m Sticking With the Mechanic Gig

Everyone’s rushing out to go and engage in new careers, and here’s me…just still doing mechanic things. My favourite video game, ‘Over-Botch’, has been updated about…what ten or so times now? They keep patching in new career paths, and of course as soon as a new one comes out, all the new players jump on it like their previous careers didn’t exist. They’re not in it for the actual experience; they just want the new stuff. Kinda annoying if you ask me, but I’ve chosen to be a mechanic since day one, and I’ve stuck with it. I’m not an addict or anything; I just love the game, and I put in a few minutes every day.

As a result, I now own a mechanic empire, and most of the players still on that route work for me. It’s pretty nice. I’ve been having some issues with the brake repair in Ringwood, however. That is, virtual Ringwood. The guys working in real world Ringwood doing tyre repair are fantastic. I’ve had my car serviced at that mechanic for years.

This is not the case when it comes to the virtual world. You see, virtual Ringowood is where most of the really wealthy players have chosen to live, and the latest patch introduced hover-cars. Everyone with a bit of cash has bought a fancy car, which leave us with the serious problem of a vanishing client base for our brake repair and replacement branch. See, this is the type of high-power business problem the game helps you to deal with.

We’re just going to have to up our game to the point where we become boutique. Those people still clinging to actual tires will choose us, because we’re special, exclusive and we get the job done. Probably going to have to shave off a few jobs, however…which I hate. And then there’s the fact that a lot of these cars also fix themselves. I’m hoping we can turn a profit on the occasional roadworthy certificate. Ringwood is honestly the best place to be when it comes to virtual world and I’m far too invested to change career paths now. 

-Rafe