Heating your home: style vs function

I have travelled all over the world designing people’s homes. It is a real privilege being asked to create the space in which people want to spend their lives. From their most intimate moments to their most public ones, the home is the stage on which life is set. I’d like to discuss a recent job I took in Melbourne, Australia. A lively, successful young couple asked me to assist in designing their dream home in the beautiful setting of Melbourne. There is one constant I have noticed in all my work across Australia and that is Australia’s obsession with cooling and heating. With temperatures ranging from over 40 degrees to nearly freezing, it is essential to any home to have both cooling and gas heating in Melbourne. Between wallpaper exhibitions and vintage furniture shopping I found the time to pull some strings with my connections in the air conditioning world in Melbourne.

In order to not compromise on style I like to take an integrated approach when it comes to providing functional elements to the home such as central heating. Vents can overcome the issue of a large bulky unit however some of the latest cooling units from the bigger brands can be an art piece in themselves. The risk of using an overly fancy system is that when it breaks it can be hard to find a repair company. Luckily I happen to know the best heating service Melbourne has to offer. They happen to service all major brands which is a big plus. It is this very reason that it is important to consult a professional when designing your home. Those small tips on functionality and efficiency that escape the mind of non industry insider can be crucial to enjoying all aspects of your home. In countries like Australia it can be difficult to manage the highs of summer with the lows of winter, as well as equipping your house with the latest tech in cooling and heating I also recommend equipping your wardrobe with the latest parka and goose feather duvet.

Over-Achieving Neighbour

My neighbour, Jamie always seems so together. She seems to have it all going on – not only does she manage to earn a living illustrating pulp fantasy-genre book covers, she’s also halfway through a PhD in fine arts. To top it off, she competes in triathlons in her spare time. I’ve never imagined that she could be feeling the pressure, even though it makes total sense now that I think about it.

Not that it’s any of my business, but her gossipy sister told me this morning that Jamie has been receiving psychiatric treatment in Mornington on a regular basis for several years. I’m not sure of the nature of the condition at hand, but apparently it’s a chronic mental illness of some kind and requires medication. I probably could have found out more details if I’d wanted to, given how much the sister seemed to be enjoying reeling off this rather personal information, but I didn’t care to pry.

Of more interest to me is the realisation that successful high achievers can have problems too. It’s really not surprising to me that someone as creatively prolific as Jamie might also be prone to high anxiety or something. Or maybe her thing is entirely unrelated to what she does in life. Who knows?

I remember seeing a psychologist as a kid. It was when my family relocated to Melbourne from Alice Springs, and my folks were concerned about me adjusting to city life. I didn’t especially see the point of it at the time but, in retrospect, I’m glad to have been provided with some solid psychological support. On the Mornington Peninsula, where I now spend most of my time, it’s pretty easy to get access to services of this nature, and I’m aware that that’s not the case everywhere in the world. In fact, I imagine it’s most limited in the places where it’s most needed.

Long story short, Jamie seems to be managing her condition pretty well, and I’m glad she’s got a good mental health care plan going on.


No Lights in the Gym = Dangerous

So, according to my calculations, including the protein bar, the shake, the chicken, the tuna, then the eggs and the shake again…that’s, uh…

SO much protein. Like, all the protein. Man, I’m gonna be so buff tomorrow. That’s definitely how fitness works!

Can’t afford to slack off, even though life is just constantly shoving stuff in my way. There’s only nine months left until we hit summer again, so that’s all the time I have to fight that flab and get beach body ready. And I really mean what I said about life, because everything is conspiring to stop me from reaching my goal. Today at my shoddy old gym, the lights went off for the third time this week. Like, get your act together, Power-Up Gym! Get some commercial lighting solutions in there, pronto!

Of course, I tried not to let that stop me. There aren’t any windows, so the place was almost completely pitch black. But I was in the middle of a set, and a bit of darkness isn’t going to make me stop. I went onto finish that set, then felt my way to the kettlebells and just started swinging away like a champ. Clocked a guy on the head, but fortunately I was only using my warm-up weight and he didn’t know who it was. Just dropped the kettlebell (on my left little toe) and felt my way to the left extension machine. The perfect crime. No one ever suspects the leg extension guy.

But seriously, lighting. When people are lifting really heavy stuff, I think some really powerful lighting is in order, and lighting that works. Get some residential energy storage if you have to; we need it more than most other folks do! The lights go out at the hospital…big deal. They’re all just lying there anyway. But I won’t have stupid, old, faulty lighting wrecking my leg day.


The Monster of the Badminton World

Now, I really have to ask myself…how much do I want the grand prize trophy? Badminton has been pretty important to me up until now, but on the other hand, I got into badminton because I thought it’d be less competitive. You know, a sport with such a light little thing that you hit with feathery little rackets, and it flies up and comes right down like a fairy. Everyone has a great time in Badminton, right? It’s like tennis, but exclusively for people who don’t want to get involved in all of that racket-smashing silliness. And less grunting. WAY less grunting.

So that didn’t turn out. Not since I met Samantha and had her as my badminton partner. She’s so competitive, it’s even starting to affect ME. I only learned later that she was kicked out of her last club for savaging the tennis netting every single time she lost, along with her racket and any other racket she could find. Samantha said she took anger management classes with a guru, but they didn’t help in the end. She had one final tennis match where the lost on a tiebreaker, and she was so enraged that she grabbed a lighter from a guy watching and set the tennis nets on fire. Hence…why she was kicked out.

Of course, I found out all of this, as well as her previous nickname (‘The Monster’) after she became my badminton partner. We did pretty well in the early season as well, which was probably why I never saw her unbridled apoplexy until the finals when we lost in a close game against her former tennis rival.

All I can say is that I have now seen attacks against sports netting that I never want to see again, and now I have to find myself a sport even calmer and less threatening that badminton. But WHAT? I don’t think there is one! Though I could just pick one that doesn’t have a net and hope that ‘The Monster’ doesn’t follow me…


Melburnians suffering from fungal fling

Funky times have fallen on Melbourne residents, as a viral foot infection causes victims to have irregular spasms that resemble dancing.

‘Hoptilis Grovosis’ is a rare condition with mysterious origins. It is widely believed that it was carried over by a tainted container of fruit although these reports haven’t been substantiated. The infection, related to to better-known Onychomycosis, is relatively harmless, as it outwardly only infects the feet with a red rash that causes minor itching. However, the condition also confuses the nerves in the feet and disrupts electrical signals, causing random spasmodic outbreaks that last for up to thirty seconds or more. Both feet will randomly push off the ground, with the victim unable to control their actions.

The process has been described by onlookers as similar to the Scottish highland fling; as the electrical signals are so active, it is rare for a person to lose their footing, creating a situation in which a person must dance or purposely tilt themselves over until the spasms are over.

The phenomenon has created a number of viral sensations on YouTube, including one popular case in which the afflicted person had an attack whilst watching a hip-hop street performance. The dancers joined in on the act, breaking into an erratic dance style that has been labelled ‘The Fungal Fling’ by a number of internet groups.

The symptoms vanish within a few days but it’s recommended sufferers visit a prominent podiatrist Cheltenham resident trust. “People who find themselves with this condition should keep weight off their feet as much as possible. Heavy exercise such as running and walking quickly have been known to aggravate it, but it can really be triggered at any time. Plenty of rest and medicated cream is the key to fungal nail treatment in Cheltenham.”

There is, as of yet, no cure for the disease except allowing the immune system time to recover, though test results have suggested that soaking the feet in warm baby oil is a viable method of halting the itching.

“I just want this to be over,” says Sally Ferrell, who has been suffering for over a week. “I started twitching while I was carrying the shopping last night. Ended up dancing all over my eggs. It’s a little bit liberating, but there’s no control.”

Friends who fish together…

My great uncle Rodney is doing pretty well for his age. He had his 80th birthday last week, and we celebrated this with a small family outing on his new boat, which he expertly steered along the coastline while downing imported ginger ale. I hope I’m as full of life as he is when I get to that age.

The new ride was a gift from Rodney’s lifelong friend, Tony, who happens to be a bit of a nerd for plate aluminium boat fabrication. Once upon a time, Tony was into building boats from scratch; now, his eyesight not being what it used to be and welding no longer his strong suit, he pays other people for their services in this field. He did do a bunch of the fitting out himself though.

So it’s a pretty extravagant birthday present, for sure. But when you get to that age (and have as much cash to throw around as Tony and Rodney do), it’s not that big of a deal – especially when you consider how long they’ve been mates, boating and fishing together. The two of them could talk bait boards and bow rails for hours on end, then switch to analysing their relationships and dreams for hours more.

Tony didn’t get to come out on the boat for Rodney’s birthday party, though, because he’d hurt his ankle tripping over a random cat while on his way to buy snapper racks in Melbourne the day before. Knowing him, he was probably talking its ear off about custom stainless steel accessories. I think Rodney was probably a bit miffed that Tony had managed to hurt himself the day before his birthday, but didn’t show it too much.

Perhaps bonding over marine fabrication is one of the keys to long-lasting friendship and good health into your 80s. If it is, I’ll sign up right now. Just point me to the fishing rod holders – I don’t know what they look like, so I’ll need some help.

Cirque Du Ute

I might not look like your average tradesman, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have the most utilitarian work vehicle on the block. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I wait for my new custom ute canopy to be finished. Finally, I’m going to have a place for the mats that’s separate from the juggling knives.

My job, in case you’re wondering, consists of running a travelling circus. Yes, you heard me, and yes, that is a real job. Instead of packing everything down into a rickety old caravan convoy, I move it from A to B in a van. At least, I did until I learned that I could have an aluminium tool box built onto a ute tray, along with drawer systems, hatches, fold-out surfaces and lighting, all to my specifications. Now I’m determined to own the coolest aluminium ute tray and canopy in Melbourne – or at least the best suited to my very particular purposes.

As it happens, though, my purposes aren’t all that particular. You’d think that running a circus would have virtually nothing in common with being an electrician or a landscaper, and you’d be right – except when it comes what’s needed in a work vehicle. Or so I assume, judging by the fact that I was able to have all my needs met without the guy I spoke to batting an eyelid.

I’m accustomed to having eyelids batted in my direction, to be honest. I think I’m considered the local fruitcake, on account of some of the things that I’ve routinely loaded out of the van in the past. The cool thing about the service body set up is that it makes for secure storage – the tool box central locking and security system looks pretty solid, compared to the van. So maybe I’ll be able to get away with not unloading three bullwhips, a novelty canon and a PA system at 3am.

From my perspective, my job is just as normal as that of the bricklayer next door. He stacks bricks, and I stack humans – up to ten at a time, I’ll have you know.

A Great Dream, Regarding Law

I had the greatest dream of my LIFE last night. And while they say that you only dream for an average of about 30 seconds, I have to object here. This one clearly went for half an hour or more; there were even boring parts in between the exciting stuff! Thus proving that it was a great and complete dream.

I’m pretty sure real life is now infecting my sleep life, hence why real-life elements kept creeping into my dream scenario. Like, I’ve seen enough property law firms in Melbourne in the last few weeks to last a lifetime, so naturally, property law is something I’m thinking about before I go to bed. Thus, my dream included a complex scenario in which mankind had been devastated by a meteor strike, causing us to become secluded in our own little enclaves. My particular tribe lived in the desert, but with such a small population, we obviously had no property lawyers to sort out our land disputes. So I was chosen to cross the wasteland to the green fields beyond, where it was rumoured that a property law firm was still operating, although this meant crossing the great bridge and forging my way through the dangerous Ice Forest, infested with vacuum cleaner salespeople, and also maybe demons? I don’t remember. I DO remember that I made it through to the safehouse at the end, where there was a barbecue waiting for me, except I was so hungry that I started eating a whole load of chocolate biscuits. Of course, that spoiled my dinner.

I’m really hoping there’s a ‘dream sequel’ to this one, because I never did find those property lawyers to settle our land dispute, and the people of the desert tribe are counting on me. I mean, ideally I can look for property law solicitors available in Melbourne, get their contact details and memorise them…then hope it works when I go back into the dream. I don’t know if this post-apocalyptic world has phone signal, but it’s at least a start.


Hair Removal, for the Little Ones?

I’m all for old literature, but I still seriously doubt some of these life lessons that our children are being taught. Like, if your parents die and you get basically sold into slavery to a terrible stepdad and two awful brothers, you shouldn’t do anything to improve your situation. Oh no, you definitely need to just wait it out and some magical godfather will appear and use his magical Mafioso powers (also a lot of money and drugs) to make your life all better.

Like, as a dad, I have to think about the things my girls will learn. They’re already impressionable enough to look at their older cousins and want to imitate them. Just yesterday Molly came to me and said that her cousin Sarah just went to a beauty clinic in Melbourne, laser hair removal is their speciality. Molly wanted silky smooth legs for her birthday. Just for a bit of context, Molly is thirteen. No thirteen-year-old without a serious medical condition needs laser hair removal, even if it is the best around. I don’t even think Molly knows what it means- I’m guessing she views it as a kind of haircut, but with lasers- but Sarah is getting it, so it’s great. Whatever Sarah and Erin do, my own girls must also…do.

I won’t pretend to understand beauty treatments. If Sarah and Erin want to look glam for the school formal by getting eyebrow tattooing, that’s their business and I’m sure my sister has already gone through the whole parenting shtick where she agonizes over it being okay. Hopefully she sets a strong precedent that I can use when Molly and Siobhan get a bit older. But for now, I think we just have to be careful about what our children imitate. Eyebrow tattooing probably isn’t recommended for children under ten. And I don’t know of any laser hair removal clinic in Bendigo anyway. No doubt they’ll know all about them once the grow up and start using the internet.


I Offer Myself for Profit and Relaxation

 Yes, I like bean enchiladas. AND ice cream that freezes my brain.

Nope…don’t have more than six children though. Man, these wanted ads where they post things that people need are just not as lucrative as you’d think. I’d love to be paid for the privilege of people sticking needles into me or whatever, but they all need such specific test subjects that I don’t qualify for a single one.

I thought being the test person for a dry needling course coming to Sydney would be a pretty sweet deal, given how much you see it around the place. And yet…no. It’s not a paid position. Still, at least it’ll give me an evening of quiet contemplation while people learn how to…well, stick needles in me, funnily enough, but this is in a much more relaxing way, is what I’m saying. The needles don’t have anything IN them, is what I’m saying. Nothing but pure, trigger-point goodness, that is. Or so I hope; it IS a course where people will be learning, which means they won’t know going in, which means that they might make mistakes, given that mistakes are the best way to learn…

Hmm, yeah. There could be a few prods and pains involved. Though I guess if I was bothered about pains, I wouldn’t be answering job ads that say ‘TEST SUBJECTS REQUIRED, PAIN AND DISCOMFORT GUARANTEED, TIME WELL-COMPENSATED’. Turned out that you needed to be both pregnant and a natural redhead for that one, and I tick only one such box.

Well, a dry needling course will be a time for reflection, especially since I won’t be learning. My only job is to lie very, very still. I can use that time to rethink my life choices, and maybe the prospect of getting a real job instead of just temp positions that cause pain and discomfort. Though hopefully it’s a really GOOD dry needling course, so good that people are already professionals after they move from dummy to real human trials.