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!


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?


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!


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.


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!


The Search for Power Continues

industrial energy monitoringSo, plans for the ‘new life at work’ thing sort of fell through. Really should’ve guessed that wouldn’t last, especially since whenever Janice was boiling her kettle, I was using my hairdryer and Karl was warming up his soup in the microwave, the whole place would lose power. Didn’t happen very often, mind you. Don’t I see why we now have Melbourne’s best commercial energy monitoring checking out our every electrical move. We can’t even charge our phones without boss asking us just what we think we’re doing.

So don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been coming to the café a lot recently. My favourite seat has two electrical outlets, and if you book the last cubicle in the toilets the hairdryer lead will just reach the outlet. That’s because…I haven’t paid my electricity bill in seven months. I figured with this new relaxed policy at work, I could get away with it! I wake up, have a shower, go to work, dry my hair, make my tea, heat up my porridge (with milk in the mini-fridge under the desk)  and that’s the morning done. Lunch is easy; usually I just keep sandwich material in the fridge, or just go and get a sandwich. And I stay late every night, so that I can use my microwave to make some kind of microwave dinner.

By that time my phone is charged, my laptop is charged and I don’t need any more food. Back home I go to light some candles and watch the TV shows I downloaded during the day. It sure was nice while it lasted, and now that it’s very suddenly over, I’m up the creek. No energy company wants anything to do with me, so I’m trying to sneakily run my life through the café. And that’s just taking advantage of Johnny’s hospitality, really.

YES, I KNOW, this industrial energy monitoring scheme is pretty much the fault of people like me. I should just pay my bills and not abuse the power outlets at work. But I just thought I had a good thing going.


Church in desperate need of a pest control

termite treatmentTwo weeks ago my grandfather got home from church in a fluster and told me that he needed to call someone about pest inspections. Dandenong united church has been my grandfather’s second home for over thirty years, he loved that place like no other.

When he mentioned the termites I was a little shocked. I asked him what he needed a pest controller for and he told me that the church was falling to bits. Everyone in the church was starting to notice how bad the place was beginning to look. Admittedly they had been putting off a pest inspection for the past year because all the donation money was going to feed the homeless..

My grandfather noticed the floorboards in the Sunday School room were so bad that it was a hazard for the children to go in there. He asked me if I knew of any good termite treatment companies in Dandenong the area. I told him about a good termite company that my wife had contracted when they found white ants in her art studio. The company was quick, affordable and professional. I still had their business card at home so that night I sent my grandfather the details.

Later that week my grandfather called the place and arranged for a quote to get the church inspected for termites. Because my grandfather wasn’t a great driver he asked me to drive him to meet the pest controller. When we arrived at the church the pest control van was waiting in the car park. We walked the men through the church and my grandfather pointed out where most of the visible damage was. The guys were surprised that the church hadn’t done something about the problem sooner. A termite removal really needed to be done before anyone entered the church again. Especially if people would be singing and dancing with children running around.

My grandfather booked in the termite treatment for the next available time and with that we went home. I could tell my grandfather was relieved, but concerned at the same time about the cost of everything. I told him not to worry as the people at church would be more than happy to help out, and if they still didn’t have enough I would be able to cover the remainder of the cost. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my grandfather more proud of me.

Following My Dreams, Unfortunately

Lorne beach apartmentsStupid seminar, with its stupid life-changing advice. Who needs seminars, anyway? I can run my life! I mean, like, I can’t, which is why I went to the seminar. But even after its over and I’ve done something with the advice I was given, I still don’t know if it was the right thing. Is there a seminar I can go to on the topic of how to respond to a seminar?

Okay, real talk. I’m having a good time, actually. I finally followed my dreams and started a pet minding business to cater to people in the Lorne area. Genius idea, right? People can bring their pets on holiday, so while they’re staying in some Lorne hotel somewhere, they can leave their pets with me overnight! I can look after them as long as they like, though most owners tend to swing by mid-morning and bring them back in the evening. I pride myself on being flexible. And it works no matter what; even if they want to leave Fluffles here for the entire day, at least it’s better than being stuck at home, or in kennels. I basically run a pet hotel, in Lorne. That’s some lifetime movie material right there.

But I just didn’t expect I’d be so…successful. I know, I know, sounds SO ungrateful. Poor me, going to a seminar, following my dreams, being good at it and having holidaymakers throw me both money and pets to look after all day long. Maybe I’m just complaining because it all seems like so much work. That’s the thing about dreams: they’re marvellous, until they’re all fulfilled at once and you realise that some things need building up. I’m having to make business decisions on the fly, look for new accommodation because what I have right now isn’t big enough, trying to work out business taxes…and I might even have to hire help, if things keep going this way.

The Lorne beach apartments around here have been helpful, as well as my main source of business. But I’m heading up a new industry here. There’s just SO much to think about.


Dumb Alien Kangaroo Causes Feels

estate planning lawyersWhy is it that the dumbest things can give us such emotional reactions?Doctor Roo is probably the worst sci-fi show in existence. It’s about a kangaroo (played by a guy in a terrible fur suit) who travels across space and time, causing trouble and leaving before it’s fixed. It’s terrible, the acting is bad, the music is…surprisingly good, and the whole thing is just meant for non-discerning kids.

And yet I was watching what I think was the season finale, and they had this massive emotional scene right at the end, where Doctor Roo passes on the responsibility of travelling through space and time to his joey and jumps into, like…maybe the space vortex or something? I don’t even know the lore, but the whole thing was SO SAD.

I’m not an emotional person. I just went to a seminar in Melbourne on making a will, which I thought was going to be a straight-laced affair, all a lot of legal jargon and helpful workshops. But no, the lady taking it had to open with this fifteen minute story of how her Mum and Dad died in a hang gliding incident, and how she had to cope because they hadn’t left a will and didn’t know anything about succession planning, so it was a really tough time for their close family as all these relatives came from out of the woodwork and tried to get a piece of everything. It just went on and on, and while I’m sitting there wondering when she was going to get the the part about actually making a will with a lawyer, everyone starts crying. I mean, it was sad, sure. I felt sorry for her. But I was also bored, feeling a bit shortchanged and really keen to get the part of the seminar where we’d meet those top Melbourne estate planning lawyers the brochure promised. And then the whole thing was delayed because everyone was crying too much.

Why is it a stupid alien kangaroo who opens the floodgates?


Solar Panels, in Glorious Live-Action

solar panel cleaningMovie studio ‘Bizney’ certainly have been busy, releasing all their old movies again in exactly the same way as before, but now live-action. As a business plan, I guess it works. All you need to do is make the trailer just that little bit different to convince people they’re getting something new, but also familiar enough to cling to, and then…just dig out the old script and make real life people say it, I guess. Nice work, if you can get it.

Just came out of Snooty and the Yeast, the tale as old as time about a high-class rich girl sent to work in a bakery who learns a valuable lesson about humility. It was alright, if almost identical to the cartoon version. Personally, I think the best one they’ve done so far is Solarella, the one with the girl who goes on a campaign against solar panels, until she falls in love with a guy who does solar panel cleaning. Melbourne has a bit of an industry happening there, which I think was the reason they let them shoot on-location. First time I’ve ever seen blatant product placement in a movie and still approved, because solar panels really are something we need to invest in. Call me an environmentalist, and maybe I am, a little bit, but they really could be humanity’s future.

I like how they changed the story from the original, too. Here the main girl had a fear of heights, which added layers to their complex relationship since he did everything from solar panel cleaning to roof maintenance, and all his jobs were way up high. There’s this whole subplot where she has to talk to him while he’s patching up a two-storey roof and she’s all conflicted about seeing him there, and there’s a song…I just think they handled the remake a whole lot better, and made Melbourne’s leaking roof business look great in the meantime. If a company as big as Bizney promote solar panels, maybe people will start taking them seriously.