Shopping Online…for a Home

Sometime soon they HAVE to invent holographic imaging technology. And then, we won’t ever even have to leave the house. When you need to go shopping for milk, you just tap a button and it brings up the holographic supermarket. You pick up some holographic milk, pay for it using Bite-Coin, and it gets delivered to your door in minutes by a drone. Maybe we’ll also have special drone slots, so you can get something without even having to leave your chair. It just flies in through the slot and deposits whatever you want into your hand, like a robotic butler.

What a truly enlightened age it shall be.

Pretty much the only reason we’ll ever have to leave the house is to go hiking, and also to buy a new house. And even THAT is being taken care of by buyers advocates based in Melbourne. I think in the future, we’ll think of buyers advocates the same way we now think of confectioners. Necessary for the time, absolute masters of their craft, specialists who do what the ordinary folk cannot: pick the perfect home. To be honest, there’s a good chance that they’ll never actually be replaced. Certain things can’t really be replicated by technology, like eating things and picking out your dream home. You can strap on a VR headset and have it play a perfect roller-coaster experience, or you can image search a pictures of the Himalayas, but you can’t ‘virtually’ buy a home. Buyers advocacy is basically as good as it gets already, people checking out physical locations so that you don’t have to. I guess you could get a VR tour of your new and/or potential home, but then…you have to live in it. You need an assurance that you’re buying the correct goods, and short of going to a place yourself in Melbourne, professional property advocates are the next best thing.

Everything else will be totally digital, though. And if we can’t be sustained on digital food, at least we can project to image of a fancy restaurant to make it a bit more appetising.


Concert on the Water, What a Pain

Sometimes you just run out of ideas, and this year, I’m all out. The show must go on…but at the moment, it’s looking pretty boring. Short, though. Maybe that’s okay.

Whose idea was it to have a concert in the bay, anyway? I know it’s a hallowed Melbourne tradition, and I think we just passed a century of concerts a few years ago, but really. It’s just silly. Back in the day, they just took out their rowboats and a few violins, and that was it. People gathered, listened to a bit of music and a good time was had by all.

Now it’s a massive deal, so we have to organise all the boats to carry the musicians. I’ve learned more about Melbourne’s outboard motor repair industry in this last year than I have about perhaps any other subject, and I studied music at uni for five years. So if any of my friends ever need their outboard motors serviced, or…you know, that sort of thing, I have all the intel AND the business connections. I don’t own a boat, my family have nothing to do with that sort of thing and none of my friends do either, but I’m sure it’ll come in handy.

Thing is, we basically need a fleet to make this ocean concert work, and all the boats have to be perfectly functioning. For example, if the boat carrying the strings section fails to appear, the opening concerto is basically ruined. Unless they play from their starting position, rally loudly. But as with 99% of musical instruments, just playing loudly will make a horrible sound. Oh, and then there are guitarists wondering where they can plug in their amps, so I have to make sure there are available power-points. Or…generators. Still sorting that one out. Apparently my attention is now being called to where in Melbourne quality anchor winches can be found, because the boat assigned to be transporting the percussion section is missing one. This is about 90% more stressful than it has to be. Maybe next time we’ll just hold the concert on a beach.


The Beauty That Is Deeper Than Skin

My cousin, Matilda, is having a midlife crisis. Not only has she bought an electric bicycle, but she’s also taken up swing dancing. Alright, so her crisis is a relatively mild one. But even so, I can tell that she’s been grappling with her identity since hitting 50 a couple of months back.

My sister told me that she’d caught Matilda reading online reviews of an anti wrinkle treatment clinic in Melbourne. That didn’t seem like that big a deal to me, and neither did the bike or the swing dancing, for that matter. It’s the whole bunch of new things in combination, all of a sudden – they seem to add up to a sense of someone wanting to reinvent themselves, and thereby to assuage the aging process.

I guess there’s nothing wrong with that impulse, in itself. It seems natural, at least in the contemporary age, to desire to preserve youth wherever this is possible. The aesthetic industry and its continual stream of new technologies is an interesting one. People want effective, non-invasive cosmetic treatments, and the industry keeps providing them.

Heck, I know plenty of people who’ve engaged with it. My younger brother, Jeremy, used to go to a laser hair removal clinic. In Melbourne, cosmeticians are so on the pulse that you can access almost any treatment under the sun if you know where to look, and he seemed very happy with the results, so good for him. (Just don’t ask me to tell you where he had the hair removed from… because I don’t know either. He wouldn’t tell me.)

My mum, too, has had some kind of cosmetic laser treatment. She was pretty quiet about it (I suppose that’s where Jeremy gets it from), but I understand that it was something to do with reducing the appearance of spider veins.

Maybe I’m from a family of cosmetic heads… I’ve never really stopped to think about it before. I guess it puts Matilda’s new undertakings in perspective. Her approach to anti aging seems like a decent balance between physical activity, fun and cheeky technological assistance.

Termite Terrors

Sharon and Randy are in the market for a house. I went over to their place for dinner last night, and it was the talk of the table. Sharon told me that, now that her pregnancy is coming up to the 6 month mark, they’ve finally arrived at the point of wanting to move on from the old caravan. I was surprised to hear that they’ve been house hunting down in Mornington – turns out, those two are more loaded than I’d given them credit for.

According to Randy, Sharon has a thing about termite infestations – a phobia, almost. Apparently, it has something to do with the ceiling of her childhood bedroom collapsing in the wake of her parents’ refusal to treat their house’s termite problem. Randy thinks she’s going a bit overboard in her efforts to ensure that their prospective property is protected from such a fate, but Sharon won’t be swayed.

Randy told me that Sharon had spent the better part of yesterday afternoon looking up termite control services in Mornington, and had finally come up with list of options to prevent the scenario she fears (i.e. the roof of their dream home falling in on their newborn bub). It all seems to come down to arranging a pre-purchase inspection, wherein a pest control company uses thermal imaging to check for evidence of existing termite infestations, then having regular check-ups to nip any problems in the bud.

I don’t know why this is such a big deal; it all seems fairly obvious to me. Having said that, I’ve actually never had my home inspected for termites. I guess I should probably do that. Who’s good for termite inspections in the Dandenong area? While I’m on the subject, I’ve got to do something about that wasp nest outside the laundry. Maybe I can hit two pests with one stone.

Shutting Down The Flea Circus

This past weekend, I stayed in hotel down on the coast. I’m not going to mention any names, but I seriously need to vent. The place was infested with fleas! They were all over the carpet and in the bed. I like to think that I have a pretty friendly attitude toward insects, but this was pretty much horrifying, especially given the cost of the room (it wasn’t cheap).

Naturally, I made a point of telling the manager that, here in Mornington, professional pest management plans aren’t that hard to obtain. Thinking back, I might have been a little bit rude about it, but I’d been up all night swiping away parasites, so what do you expect? Anyway, although he didn’t take too kindly to my tone, he did concede that there’s clearly a flea problem on the premises and gave me a refund.

Really, though, I should take a piece of my own advice. I’ve been putting off organising a termite inspection for a good couple of months now, and as it gets closer to Christmas and the house is increasingly filled with assorted in-laws, it seems less and less like something that can readily be prioritised. I know that acting fast is the best way to deal with termites, but what can I say?

Alright, fine. I’ll make sure it gets done tomorrow. I’m not going to be like these hoteliers, putting off pest control until someone loses their cool (fun fact: it’ll probably be me). If they can come out and do the thing this week, it won’t get in the way of anything. Termite inspections in Dandenong surely can’t be in such high demand that I can’t get an appointment within the week. I guess I’ll find out.

Tomorrow, though. Not today. Today I’m chilling out at the hot springs, since I’m not much good for anything else after last night’s flea fiasco. While I’m at it, I’m stocking up on the energy I need to deal with my sister-in-law’s pointed remarks about my punch-making prowess.

Why floating bananas got me grounded.

We’ve all heard those stories where someone’s parents go away, then their kids throw a party that snowballs into some kind of unstoppable force- well, that happened to me, and it didn’t happen in a predictable way. Right now, my parents are tallying up a bill for glass repair, furniture replacement, wall damage and neighborhood relationship re-establishment as we speak. I’m going to be paying for this forever.

My exam finals unleashed something in me. Added to the mix was the fact that the same weekend my parents went to a jazz festival in rural Victoria. So naturally, my friends and I ended up at our house the right after our geography final.

I’m definitely going to be hitting Alice up for the fees charged for the living room glass replacement, seeing as it was her shoe that shattered the glass.

Alice, my best friend, and she is well known for being wild. I shouldn’t have been surprised that at the last second some of her friends who’d finished their final that afternoon arrived at my doorstep. Drama students. My heart sank. Everyone knows they can’t just go to a party without turning it into a performance. The second they got to our house, Jo’rian feigned a fainting attack at the sight of our curved staircase. Before I knew it, there was a photo shoot in the living room, someone quoting Juliet from our pool balcony and a couple having a fight in my room that I couldn’t quite tell was real or not.

I’m not exactly certain at what point the party had tripled in size, but before I knew it, there were people in every room of our house. In the end, the neighbors called the police, and everyone left, leaving me with the most frightening mess I’ve ever seen. To top it off, my parents were rained out of the jazz festival and arrived home to me crying and scooping bananas out of the pool. Alice had wagered a bet with a guy from her biology class that they could float.

The epic garden quest

I’m about to embark on a new quest, I’m talking of course about landscaping the garden. Our house lacks a proper garden, and even though it’s going to stretch the budget, I’m sure the new garden landscaping will add value to the property. I smile just thinking of it! A grand garden full of wonderful plants and flowers, in which we may dine, breakfast, dance…anything we please. Truly, a garden is one of the greatest additions to a house. It’s like combining the outdoors and inside in glorious harmony. I know my limitations so to help set the course, I’ve been in touch with a local landscaping designer in Melbourne.

First off, I had to gather a great multitude of wood. I’ve seen planter boxes, and wood has always been involved. This I did by scouring the nearby woodlands for viable materials. I found only bark and twigs, but I was not deterred. Soon, I happened upon a decaying fence that was obviously no longer in use. I requisitioned the materials and decided to use them for my cause. Just a bit of scraping and all the old paint would be off in a jiffy. I had enough wood for a basic planter box, my strawberries would have a safe home to grow. I still needed support pillars to keep the edible plants in place. I wasn’t stupid, I knew we needed support. However, perfectly formed blocks of wood were hard to come by. With my supports in place, I set about finding the right plants. I found just what I needed along with a few other edibles like potatoes and pumpkin. My planter box ended up with several gaps, but I figured they would simply act as feature pieces until I could find proper coverings. I’m sure the strawberries will just grow through these spaces and spread out.

I now had all the making for a basic fruit and vegetable garden! I must admit I did need to hire a team of garden landscapers based in Melbourne North in order to get the pergola sorted out. All that was left was to populate it with stuff like seed potatoes, strawberries and other assorted berries. I quickly found that my plant store was very low, so I looked up some local varieties to use instead. The garden turned out to be prettier than I’d expected, with a very floral smell. Certainly fresh and bright, and that’s all you can hope for. Of course, my housemate had to come out before the garden was finished and put a foot straight through the seedlings. They had a few small lacerations, I just hope there is no damage to the rest of the roses. This is typical. Now I’ll need more plants if these fail to grow. This will not deter me. I will build this grand garden again, and it shall be more beautiful than ever before. Nothing can stop my landscaping hands!

My new favourite event venue

As the owner of a small Melbourne-based business that focuses on safety leadership in the workplace, I often find myself looking for the perfect venue to hold functions like team building and leadership days. Mostly, party venues in Melbourne don’t make the cut as my clients are mostly very professional – but the day I found out about the venue of my dreams was the day I was happy to bend my guidelines a little.  

I know that a good venue has to be easy to access and it also has to have a good name. It has to be a place that people have super positive experiences at, and I’m always looking for a venue that is known for shucking off the stiffness that some venues can’t seem to lose. I want the best If I’m taking my clients to any new function rooms. Melbourne is generally great in this way, but I need to be sure that my workshops will be held in relaxed environments where people can be at ease and a bit curious at the least about the area I’ve bought them to.

Lots of what I talk about in my workshops is about encouraging people to be aware of their surroundings and I knew that this venue had everything I needed to engage my clients. The excitement in the venue is a bit infectious, there are great views of two skating rinks that I can take my workshops in and there are a loads of amazing activities that the venue will gladly arrange for my clients to take.

Like I said,I never thought I’d find the perfect function rooms that could cater to such a  diverse need.  Here’s the thing; I’m going to have to book the venue for my son’s birthday in November this year. There is no way I could overlook this venue as one of the city’s best party venues. Melbourne weather won’t even factor into our plans- we’ll pack for freezing temps knowing  my son is going to have the best birthday yet!

Kids in Cafes? Why I’ve drawn the line

I have officially had it with kids in cafes. My own kids, that is. At the start of the week, I took them to a cafe that we live nearby to, and gave them stern warnings about good cafe behaviour in advance. This has to be done, because if I don’t warn them, things go really, really wrong. And on that very day, even in spite of all that, everything still went wrong. In hindsight, cutting through the middle man and headed straight to the oasis: kids party venues. Sydney has a few gems, and this one is perfect for  a weary dad like me.

From the second we arrived, everything looked grim. The cafe was packed with people, a huge group of cyclists where we’d normally sit outside and to the rafters full indoors. We were going to head back out when a waiter shooed us to a table smack bang in the center of the dining room. Passing by a table, my youngest kid, Lachie elbowed a paper that was resting underneath a guy’s teacup, so naturally it smashed to the ground into microscopic fragments.

As soon as we sat down, my eldest, Mitch, decided it would be a great trick to get Lachie to sniff pepper.

The third and final straw happened even before our order had been taken. I was  leaning over, trying to talk Mitch into being sensible when the table we were seated jack-knifed and tipped, sending everything on it to the ground as well. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my limit.

Marching the kids outside, I couldn’t think of anything else to save us – but then I remembered that the kids favourite  indoor play centre in Sydney where they can go completely wild. And I can refuel on coffee and cake. Instead of losing my mind, I put the kids back in the car and crisis averted, made a beeline for the nearest indoor play centre.

Are Frangipanis the key to curing the common cold?

Scientists have announced that they are one step closer to curing the ubiquitous common cold, with frangipanis appearing to hold the answer.

Translating long-held folk wisdom into evidence based medicine, a team of hardworking scientists have extracted a phytoestrogen from the frangipani plant which appears to reduce the duration of the common cold in mouse models.

Many cultures prize the frangipani plant for its mystical ability to cure illness, with the flower being involved in healing rites and even taken orally as a form of medicine to alleviate cold and flu-like illnesses. Until now, it was believed that the healing powers of the frangipani were a result of social factors, with the plant contributing little to the immune system.

The Australian team of scientists, headed up by esteemed virologist Dr Hubert Meisner, has isolated a phytoestrogen used by the frangipani plant, which is not dangerous to ingest but appears to obliterate the cold virus. A treatment can be made by crushing up fresh frangipani leaves, which are delivered to the body through an injection. While it is believed that oral treatment may also work, it is unlikely to be as efficient as sending the frangipani derivative directly to the bloodstream.

A mouse model has been used to demonstrate the efficacy of the frangipani treatment, with promising preliminary results. The team hopes to undertake human studies by 2020. Until then, the team encourages people to plant frangipanis in their gardens to ensure a plentiful supply of the plant in the future.

While the phytohormone is common to all varieties of frangipani, Dr Meisner believes that some varieties produce larger quantities.“We are looking at different types of frangipani, lulus blood in particular appears to be promising. My team is currently working on isolating the phytoestrogen from the Lulu’s Blood variety, which we think will give the best results due to the huge quantities involved. As it often the case in medicine, more is better.”