Spooky Lighting for the Spook-tacular Event

residential LED lightingThis year’s Spooktacular Spook-fest was a spooktacular success! Halloween in Australia is still gaining some traction, sure, but events like this really help. It took two days, but we managed to completely convert the secondary wing of the school into a haunted house, and people really went for it! Probably helped that we based the whole thing around that show everyone likes, Stranger Danger. That one from the 80s. Don’t actually like it myself…but everyone else is properly into it, so it worked out just fine.

I think the lighting was our strongest aspect. I had James researching residential LED lighting all around Melbourne for weeks beforehand, both where to get the quality stuff and how to use it effectively, though you’d hope he already knew. He’s the one who wants to do special effects on film. And on-film is just real life, but in front of a camera. I mean that the lighting came off really well. So, the people started off in the entrance hall, all very brightly lit and not at all indicative of what they were in for. Then they went on a magical mystery tour of the world of Stranger Danger, where they were being hunted by a mysterious monster all through the process. This all ended in a claustrophobic segment, wherein they were hunted by multiple creatures- played by our very talented actors and dressed up in some great outfits from the costume department- and the lights went all blinky-blinky. I never actually went through the maze myself, but I did experience a sort of dry run. The blinking lights were very disorienting.

It’s true what James said: lighting truly is key to everything. We’re lucky Melbourne’s residential LED lighting is so prevalent, because we honestly didn’t leave enough time to actually gather enough of it. Lessons for next time. Which we need to start thinking about now, if we want to top this year’s show…

The Cut-Throat World of Cafe Ownership

Lorne beachesYou don’t get into the cafe game for the fame and the glory.

It’s not about the adoring regulars, or even the satisfaction of crafting the perfect brew.

No…the cafe game is all about power, manipulation and clawing your way to the top of the food chain. You need to be cut-throat, ruthless, and sometimes even barbaric. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

That’s why i set up shop by the beach, famously the toughest cafe market out there. I relish the challenge. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty.

Obviously, a working knowledge of the best accommodation in Lorne works wonders. You can’t be in such an intense business without knowing about the ebb and flow of potential customers in your town, and hotels come with a few other perks. You can sometimes get a bit of sneaky advertising in if you get talking with the guests. Give them some directions, tell them about the local attractions and then slip in that you run a cafe, with a few discounts for some very special guests. They’re like putty in your hands. Also, it pays to see if you can get a taste of what the hotel is serving in the dining room. The food is often great- no point in competing with that- but if the hotel serves better coffee than you, then you’d better step up your game.

After that, it’s a simple matter of making your place look so chic it’s like you transplanted a photograph right off Instant-Gram. Chic coming out of your EARS. Much more chic than your average Lorne hotel with a great view

After that, you just have to come out on top of the weekly Lorne cafe owner backstreet brawls, and you’re on your way to greatness.

-Nell

The Energy of the Future

commercial solarWhat keeps me awake at night? Coal, probably. We just keep digging it up and burning it, and it’s doing all kinds of terrible nonsense.

The project that our science teacher gave us was something we’re worried about regarding the future…and something that gives us hope. So mine is pretty easy: coal, and solar energy. Not a fan of the first one, but I’m ALL about the second. Commercial solar in Melbourne has been gaining ground for years now, but only recently have people really turned it into an industry. Maybe they have the same feelings as me when it comes to burning all that coal? Doesn’t matter. When I see how many people are starting to rely on solar and wind power, it makes me feel a bit better about growing up here. Like, in this time period.

Man, it sucks being a teenager in 2017. The older people have basically destroyed the ozone layer, carbon levels are at an all-time high, sea levels are rising and then the polar ice caps might be melting. Jury’s out on this one.

Feels like I’ve taken over a shift at a hospital where in the last five minutes ten people have been sick, some guy is running around with a scalpel and the power has gone out. It’s like…thanks, older generation! I’ll just clean all this mess up, no need to thank me! It’s not like it’s all your fault we’re all in the mess in the first place because of your mistakes. 

We’ve got the tools to do it, though. My research has shown me that much, and it looks like solar power is going to be the next big thing. And then you’ve got stuff like the Tesla powerwall, which might just be the thing that solves the whole coal problem. Maybe. Research pending, but at least there’s actually something to research. Other than ‘we’ve wrecked the planet, whoops’.

-Terry

Moving Home? Not Too Likely

property advocateI’ve moved house enough in my life, so I’d really rather stay in one place for a while. Reggie keeps making jokes about how he’s only leaving this house in a box, which always makes me a little bit nervous. I know we’ve definitely crosses the line into ‘elderly’, but I’d rather not have to deal with that talk. I feel great. We all feel great!

I’ve made peace with the fact that we’re never going to be fabulously rich, of course. Having children and working as teachers isn’t going to make you the big bucks! Still, I know exactly what I’d do if I was handed a million dollars: buy an investment property. Or maybe we’d make this one an investment property and buy a new home? It’s lovely to think about that sort of freedom. I’d definitely get one of those buyers advocates I saw in that show about moving homes. They always look like they have such nice offices- mints, water in nice jugs, mint leaves floating at the top, that sort of thing- and we’d spend hours pouring over potential houses. Huge houses, that is. Houses by the coast, apartments right in the heart of the city, mansions on a hilltop in the country…so much to choose from! Or rather, I think so. I try to keep up with the property ladder, and while a million dollars won’t take you as far as it used to, it’s still enough to get you a nice place. Good bit of variety, too. I’d leave the finding to the property advocates, because it’s what they do, but I’d probably end up driving Reggie mad by trying to find the PERFECT property. He’s always wanted to live in the city, while I’d like something with a bit of land. It might take us years. Could even destroy our relationship. And then every Melbourne property advocate would blacklist us forever!

Maybe it’s best that we just stay here, out in the suburbs? At least we were able to buy our own house in the first place!

-Ursula

The Stress of Blocked Drains

drain replacement MelbourneI fear the future is bleak for me and my flat. I have NO skills in DIY, and I’m not really too keen on cleaning either. I always worry that something will go horribly wrong one day- like, I won’t have heating in the dead of winter- and I’ll be too shy to call the landlord so I’ll just have to suffer in silence for the entire season. Is that my destiny? I have to ask.

I only just learned recently how much maintenance has to be done on a property. It’s a lot more than just cutting the grass and replacing the windows when someone’s cricket through goes amiss. No, you have to worry about paint jobs, weather damage to the brick, window replacements, gas fittings, heating and cooling services, roof tiling that falls off in storms and almost smacks you while you’re in a rush and…probably a lot more. I have a loft space, so there’s probably a lot of stuff to do with that. Rats, termites, possum nests…you name it.

Obviously I need to be prepared for the future. Find a quality Melbourne based drain plumber I can trust, keep them on my list. Make them first on my list, actually…because I don’t have a list yet and I feel like I should have one. I need plumbers, roofing people, heating and cooling folks, gardeners, window repair people, anyone who can help me in a time of crisis. Plumbers most of all, though; I just couldn’t bear it being the dead of winter and having my hot water break down. I’d have to go into work smelling like a person who hasn’t washed in days, which would be absolutely true. They don’t make deodorant that strong. And then I’d be stuck when it came to washing the dishes, so out would come the paper plates and that’d be it in terms of good habits I’ve managed to build up. Stress, so much stress. I’ll ask Angela at work if she knows anyone who can do the drain replacement in Melbourne. She knows everything, Angela. Maybe I’ll just borrow her 24 hour emergency plumber list.

The Great Family Boating Experiment

outboard motor servicingI would’ve thought that a psychologist would know his stuff. Two weeks later, we’re still essentially adrift at sea and no one is getting on any better.

‘The 40 Day Ocean Challenge’, they called it. Take your family out to sea in a boat! The proximity will cause all the tension to vanish as you forget your petty squabbles and unite to keep everything ship-shape. Day 24, and Maria still isn’t talking to me. Codey is being a typical teenager and shirking on ALL of his jobs, while Chiara has spent most of the voyage hanging off the edge of the boat, trying to get reception for her phone so she can talk to her boyfriend.

I’ve TRIED to create some sort of teamwork. Last night I hosted an interactive seminar on how Melbourne’s anchor winch industry functions, and the lessons we can learn about our own sailing from our city’s attitude towards marine trailer repairs. I…didn’t really know what I was doing. The seminar was sort of well-attended, but that’s mostly because there are only two places on this boat to go: on deck and inside. It’s too cold to spend much time on deck in the evenings, so…everyone was there. But not there. I had a whole presentation planned on anchor winches and such, but everyone chose to ignore me.

This experiment isn’t doing what it was supposed to. I don’t know…maybe once we hit day 32 we’ll suddenly come to understand each other as a family, we’ll slot into our roles and my nightly sessions where we list the things we were thankful for during the day will not be utterly scorned. At the very least, we should learn the basics of outboard motor servicing. Melbourne has a proud history of such things…but I don’t think it’s going to happen. We’re coming back from this just as dysfunctional as ever.

Oh well! Just got to hang out for day 32, I guess!

-Max

The Toolbox of Great Change

aluminium work toolboxSometimes I REALLY wish I was one of those DIY people. My parents never even taught me how to change a plug, so when  I found out that changing a plug was a really basic thing that everyone knows? Embarrassing. So shameful. And then there are loads of basic things that I just don’t know, because no one ever taught me. The only knot I know is the shoelace one. I’ve never baked a cake, or converted a music file. How did I miss out on so much?? I’m going to be one of those people that wastes loads of money paying people to do basic things all through my life, because I was never taught.

And now my friends have all chipped in to buy me an aluminium toolbox for my 25th birthday. If I had to guess, I’d say this was about 20% a hilarious gag, and 80% them actually trying to give me some kind of drive to get better at this stuff. I think it all came about when I was at the cafe with Ruth the other day and she said that she had to go and buy a new lightbulb. I…might have expressed some surprise that bulbs can be bought in shops. I always thought you just called in a maintenance person and they got them from the secret maintenance shop, or something. Oh, and it turns out they come in boxes, so how am I supposed to know what they look like??

Anyway, it’s not like I’ll ever buy a ute and stick some draw systems on it, but I hope I can at least learn some basic stuff. And that’s why Mum and Dad bought me a pass to a special course: ‘The Basics: Home DIY’. Should be…fun. The first module is just on not being scared by lists of tradespeople terms, like removable service bodies and remote toolbox central locking. Which of course has me panicking. But not for long…right?

-Lila

My Amazing Fishing Rod Idea

fishing rod holdersSome folks deserve a statue of themselves in the town square, but end up forgotten. Just like that Nikola Tesla fellow, who did a lot more than the other fellow but had all his glory stolen. Even here, hundreds of years later, that still makes my blood boil just a little bit.

I like to think I’ll go down in the history books for my inventions, but I’m thinking someone with money and power will just swoop in and steal it, and I’ll just spend the rest of my days working at a fishing rod shop, underappreciated. Still, I have a big meeting coming up with the innovations department of Lawrence Corp, so surely a company that large will have to have some kind of integrity. Right?

Don’t know, I’ve never done anything like this before; never even had an IDEA like this before. I was just thinking about fishing rod holders, and how it’d be great if we could move them around the boat a bit more easily. Right now we have to unscrew them and put them somewhere else, and sometimes it’s not screwed in properly and the rod holder AND rod can just fall right in and it’s terrible. Not that I mind a dip while I’m fishing, but it’s embarrassing when I’m out with the guys and my I haven’t fixed the rod holder properly.

My problem, I get it. But then I thought…why can’t we just have a rail that goes all around the boat? Like a snapper rack, but custom made and running the entire length of the perimeter. You can fix a rod holder in at one point, but it’s on a rail and can just slide anywhere you want without having to take it out. I think it could really take off as an idea! I just have to pitch it to the people properly. Like a snapper rack, but…not. No, I can’t say that. Argh, so nervous!

-Clive

I Need Fame, Stat

hair salon MelbourneI have five days to become famous. Not that hard, right? People have done that in WAY less. Just do something stupid on camera, upload it to YouTube, millions of hits and cashola up my eyeballs by noon the next day. Right. Right…right??

I’ll have to look up how much money people actually make from fifteen minutes of fame. At the very least it’s got to be a windfall of some kind, though I have to get on this quick if I want merchandise to be in stores within five days. Oh gosh, I’ve really gone and stuck my foot in it next time.

Everyone lies in an online relationship, right?? Here I’ve snagged myself an awesome online boyfriend who’s coming to Australia to do a hairdressing course. He’ll be working in a hair salon on St James’ place, which wow, cool, just happens to be right near me! Awesome, we’ll see each other all the time! Except…I might have lied and said I was a local celebrity on Week of Our Lives. Episodes are hard to come by online because of draconian copyright hunters, and it’s definitely not broadcast in Canada so my internet BF doesn’t have any way of actually fact checking besides looking up the Snicker-Pedia page. That one I took care of; made a sneaky edit a while back and put myself as part of the main cast. No one has changed it back so far.

But then he spring it on me that he’s coming to Melbourne to do this hairdressing course in a week, and now I’m panicking. He even said that he came come to the shoot and do my hair, and I said “sure babe, I can get you some showbiz experience!” like an idiot. So now I have to radically alter my story to say that I got fired because one of my co-stars made up a rumour about me, and now I’m only famous because of a mad Me-Straw video that has be doing something wacky. I can’t meet my BF without being famous! He won’t love me! He’ll meet some nice girl in a Melbourne hair salon and run away, and then I’ll be both single AND not famous. Unacceptable.

-Kayla

Children Just Love Magic

kids play centre indoorsI may have the body of a weak and feeble man…but I have the heart of a Las Vegas stage magician! And the beard of a 17th century nobleman!

Seriously, it’s a very nice beard. I don’t often compliment myself, but one thing I DO have going for me is my ability to grow facial hair in a shockingly short amount of time. Five o’clock shadow? More like twelve o’clock shadow. Actually, that’s only one of my many useless talents, though I managed to use them altogether to create my traveling kids’ show, Marvellous Eustace. I can’t, like, grow a beard before your very eyes or anything, but I do find it helps my stage persona. I found when I was younger that I mastered dad jokes in short order, after which I moved onto the physical basics (removing your thumb, etc.). Pretty soon I discovered that I could perform all the basic showbiz moves, and I thought…kids are easily entertained.

Now I do the Canberra kids birthday party venue circuit with my traveling show, and everyone just loves it. I usually start off with the basics, move onto walking on my hands, balloon animals and then work my way through until the grand finale: pulling a ferret out of my hat. Exhibition regulations mean we’re not allowed to use rabbits any more, though ferrets are much easier to train and Juniper is perfectly happy in there if I leave him some snacks. Cute animal + magic trick usually brings down the house, after which the kids all go off to play in the ball pit, or whatever they have at that particular party venue.

I think I’ve found a niche, really. Kids never remember the show as well, so I just have to do the same set every time and I’m golden. I like seeing them happy, I get to perform all the tricks that get no reaction at adult parties and the traveling part is really nice. Haven’t been able to snag a wife yet with my amazing tricks, but when I do, I know every indoor play centre in Adelaide. Our kids will never be without entertainment!

-Eustace