The Great Plumbing Crisis

Melbourne plumbing contractorMost folks nowadays don’t remember, but back when I was young, Melbourne was having a crisis. No, it’s not the war…I’m not THAT old! Nope, this was something far more devious: bandits. Specifically, the Pipe Bandits. The Pipe Bandits of Old Melbourne Town, as the papers phrased it.

Everyone just thought it was a set of shufty youths going round and cutting people’s outdoor pipes wide open. Things were a bit more fragile back then; one snip and you could cut off someone’s hot water supply. Just…snip. Gone! Now, it was a fragile time for plumbing contractors in Melbourne as well, because the industry was shifting and changing, people wanting electric heating systems instead of boilers and everyone wanting their pipes to be buried so far underground that you needed a digging machine to get to them. I myself was just starting an apprenticeship as a painter, so I thought all this plumbing talk was a lot of nonsense. Nobody took the Pipe Bandits seriously at first, because they thought they was silly youngsters who needed to get back to school, and maybe a swift slipper to the behind. But then the attacks got worse. They cut the water supply to the village hall, which was supposed to be a place for everyone to gather. Then the hot water went off in all of Church Street. And then, when I was in the middle of running a bath…the it happened to our home.

I was just looking forward to having along soak to wash off the day’s paint, and that was taken from me. I sat in my cold bathtub, heated by my burning rage and vowing revenge. Fortunately, Melbourne’s upstanding plumbers had already mobilised, and I joined a team that set a watch on various key targets. Finally, we managed to catch one of them in the act, trying to tamper with the mains pipe on the gold course. He was…a grown up! An unemployed grown up, one of many who were sick of poor water pressure, and had created a secret group to take revenge on Melbourne’s plumbing companies, even though that was very stupid!

He squealed, anyway, and the crisis was over. We never did get water pressure that was particularly good, however. Wonder why that is?

No More Orphanages, Try a Play Centre

indoor childrens play centreSo…apparently orphanages don’t actually exist anymore? I know I’m still in school figuring out what to do with my life and stuff, but I do really want to be a mum. Like, more than anything. I had it all planned out, as well: as soon as I turned 18, I’d go to the nearest orphanage and pick out a kid, maybe even two if I did my research and I was feeling ready. They’d be out of the house by the time I was 38, so it’s not like I was sinking my whole life or anything. Not that I’d mind, because being a mum is all about love and sacrifice. Maybe I’d adopt more if I had fun with the first batch!

Except it’s all foster care now. Maybe it’s best that you can’t just check out a kid like a book at a library, but it does leave me struggling to know what to do. Maybe I’ll work at an indoor play centre in Croydon somewhere? Do they even have those? I’ll find a play centre, because I’m ALL about making kids really happy. I’ll do anything, really: clean the floors, swab the slides, wash the windows, serve tea and coffee too all the tired mums and dads, go through the ball pit to find that one ball with a puncture that needs replacing and anything else that needs doing. Or…I guess if they really want me to, I can dress up in something or other. I’ve heard those costumes can get pretty stuffy, but the kids love it and it’s for them! Really, anything for the kids.

I guess there’s always foster care, but to me that just sounds so temporary. I just did a school project on it and it sounds so much like you just hand them over once the timer expires. That’s no way for a child to be. Though if I do, I’m going to make it really fun for them while they’re in my care. Like, ice-cream all the time. Lessons on how to deal with bullies. Jenga. Loads of Jenga, because all kids love Jenga. Or just, I don’t know…a bit of normalcy, with a bit thrown in more along the lines of that birthday party venue place. Croydon doesn’t have that much to do otherwise.

Or, OR…I could just go to Zambia and adopt there. That’s a thing, right?

-Karen

The Path to Being a True Sailor

I may now be a hardened man of the sea, but no one starts off this way. When I first heard about boat trailers, I assumed that was something to do with an upcoming movie about boats. Like, the trailers for the movie. I suppose some movies DO contain boats, but that really wasn’t what people meant and now that I’m familiar with such things, I know it for sure.

Perhaps that was the first lesson I learned. After that I signed up for an immersive sailing course, because I was sick of the same, boring holidays and wanted something a bit more physical. It was taken by a grizzled sea captain who’d been doing outboard motor repair here in Melbourne for over sixty years, or so he told us. It wasn’t loads of fun, I’ll admit. We were shorthanded after he threw two people off the boat on the first day and made them swim to shore. Apparently they were pretty useless. After that our workload increased, and we had to learn a whole lot more about sailing than I ever thought possible. We took the helm in shifts, two hours asleep and one hour at the wheel. It was bearable until the captain tossed another guy overboard near the shore because he’d been whistling too loud when people were trying to rest, and also maybe some kind of funny looks were going on.

Two weeks we spent aboard that boat. Two weeks and seven people tossed overboard because they just couldn’t cut it with the sailing life. I spent every waking moment thinking I’d be next, but eventually we made it back to shore and the three people who were left were given a hearty congratulations by the captain. We were true sailors, learned in the ways of hoisting a mainsail, manning the helm and even a bit of on-board boat trailer repairs. Melbourne gained three more sailors that day, so he said. It was an intense course, but I’m glad I was one of the few who made it through. Shame I work a desk job in the city centre, but…I’m sure I’ll find a use for these skills someday.

-Darryl

It’s Only Air Con. Why You Have to be Mad?

Sydney air conditioning repairIt’s just a game. Why do you have to be mad?

It WOULD be our uni chosen to test this stuff. Always at the cutting edge, always on top of every trend no matter how stupid it looks. The entire communications building was converted into a virtual reality playground after that tech got big, and then…well, it’s not over, but it wasn’t as exciting as everyone thought it would be. Too much flailing your arms around while looking like an idiot to everyone watching, probably.

Now it’s a virtual training exercise designed to enhance the apprenticeship experience. I mean, actual trades and stuff. This one puts you in a small room with controls, like you’d find at the arcade, and it’s all based around being a Sydney air conditioning repair professional dealing with all kinds of problems. I actually got to suggest a scenario to put in the game, and I haven’t tried it yet but I hope it’s there. Perks of being on the university student board: suggesting that one game scenario be fixing an air con unit on a crashing spaceship. I thought it was exciting.

Spaceships aside though, it’s supposed to be an immersive experience where you learn how to navigate the daily life of someone who does air conditioning repairs. Not a lame virtua-tour, either. This one puts you right in their shoes, causes you to make the same decisions as them and gives you an update afterwards as to what you did wrong and what you did right. The best part is that it’s not too flash, either. The whole set-up is quite portable, and they’re envisioning it being present in most TAFEs to facilitate learning. I wonder what else they could program in.

Anyway, there have already been problems. People flaming each other, trying to get high scores, be the greatest air conditioning service person Sydney has ever seen, but…in the game. Hopefully they have that zeal when they get an actual job.

-Dale

Finding those hidden gems

property advocatesThere are so many little things and components that go into starting up a business that sometimes, if I’m going to be perfectly honest here, I feel like my head just might explode. Not that it would have to be dramatic, exactly. The metaphor that comes to mind is more that, one day, I just have to do one more thing and instead of just adding to what’s there, my brain just starts slowly leaking out of my ear. That it will suddenly be too much and there won’t be any more room for the new information to go.

Take, for example, my latest shock to the system. As a part of setting up a practice that’s not completely online, I will actually need an office. The problem with that, though, is that there’s more to getting an office than just getting an office. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true. Like I was talking to a friend of mine and she was telling me that if we wanted a really top of the range place, we would need to go through a buyers advocacy. The Melbourne property market is extremely competitive, for businesses as well as for housing, so if we want something that’s going to reflect the essence of our business, we need to use every advantage we can get.

The problem with that, though, is that it’s just one more thing to do, and believe you me, when every penny counts, hiring property advocates in Melbourne is a luxury we can’t necessarily afford. But here’s the thing. I don’t want to do it halfway. I don’t want to be looking back at this whole process in 6 months time and thinking that we went for what was available. That’s just not in the spirit of what I’m trying to do here, and it’s no good compromising our values before we’ve even really gotten started.

Metal Enthusiast Here!

mabile scaffoldWe scrap metal enthusiasts live dangerous lives on the edge, especially when you’re trying to nick a great bit of discarded trash from the rubbish bin while the refuse collectors and coming down the road. I’ll admit to letting it happen on purpose, sometimes. Nothing quite like a time limit to really make you feel alive!

I’ve gotten some great stuff, too. You wouldn’t believe what people throw away, and you can rest assured that I’ll put what I find to good use. That’s the thing about growing up poor…you learn to use things to their limit.

The best find ever: someone threw out an entire set of folding platform steps. By how mangled the box was, I’m guessing that they bought it and couldn’t set it up, so they threw it away in disgust. See, this is why you should always bring the stuff that still works to an op shop, if you don’t want it any more. Someone will make use of it, I guarantee it. And I’ve used those folding platform steps to start my own local painting business, which takes a bit of the pressure off Mum, caring for six kids. I’m moving out pretty soon, and all because someone threw out a tangle of metal that they thought was useless. Nope, just because you can’t figure out how to set up an aluminium platform doesn’t mean it has no worth.

It probably helps that I’m drawn to metal like a crow. It’s always been pretty fascinating, and now that I’ve got a bit of DIY know-how, I’m always on the lookout for new stuff to add to the garage. Eventually I’d like to make my own mobile scaffolding, since the set I have now doesn’t quite reach or fit everywhere. It’s alright, but there’s nothing quite like walking around on top of some mobile scaffolding you built yourself. I don’t quite have the material right now, though…though i plan to buy some actual professional platforms anyway. When I have the money!

-Reece

Some Quality Pruning Experience

tree pruningI guess I wouldn’t mind a bit of getting back to nature…even though for me it’s not really getting back, because I’ve never been. Yep, born and bred in the city my whole life, so when I saw the flyer for a wilderness survival course at uni, I initially thought nothing much of it. That’s a thing for country people, or…just people who actually enjoy camping. Camping is the worst, am I right?

And then I got to thinking…because I guess it was a really compelling flyer. It talked about how you could learn new skills, gain fitness and generally improve yourself. That all sounded pretty good, I guessed. My closest connection to the outdoors was that time I did an internship in Melbourne at a tree pruning business. It doesn’t exist anymore, but I didn’t get my forms in on time and Mrs Aldergate at the end of our road needed someone to help with her pruning business, so I just told the school I’d be helping her out. It wasn’t so bad; Mrs Aldergate knows pretty much everything about the area going back sixty years, and she had breaks every fifteen minutes because of her aching joints so we honestly spent most of our time just very slowly walking around the local neighbourhood, drinking tea on the grass and talking about the war. I think she finally retired after she started pruning a certain tree and had to be told that it was actually a street sign and that counted as vandalism. Didn’t have her glasses, maybe.

So yeah, that’s my grand level of outdoor know-how, which is to say that I don’t have any at all. I can prune trees, and I helped my Dad with some stump grinding once, so those will have to be the skills I bring to the table. It’s going to be a group of us out there for two weeks. So far from Melbourne, tree pruning skills at the ready…that’ll be me.

-Martin

Late night adrenaline

courses for dry needlingI am so excited right now I can barely breathe.

No seriously it totally sounds like I’m exaggerating here but I’m like 100% not. It’s not even like I’m excited in the traditional way I’m more just like insanely nervous and I have a heap of adrenaline and other crazy hormones pumping through my system and basically just making me feel like I downed a whole jug of coffee and then some. Do you know what I mean?! It’s freaking NUTS.

Tomorrow is the first day of my dry needling course. I know! It’s going to be so great and totally awesome but like there’s also this possibility that it’s not and that is totally freaking me out. Like if it sucks? I don’t think it will but it could and that is so terrifying. What if all of this is a terrible mistake and it’s time I try and find a man with some money because the only thing I’m fit for is to be some housewife because I have absolutely zero tangible or even intangible skills?

Ah! Existential crisis moment!

No but for real I am totally losing it over here. Like I know that I should asleep (I don’t know what time it is where you are but here it’s 2am) but I am so WIRED. I’ve been dreaming about this moment for so long and even just the process of sifting through all the different dry needling courses in Melbourne has so time consuming and exciting and scary that I seriously wondered if I’d ever even get here. But now here I am!

Hopefully I get enough sleep for tomorrow but by the way things are going right now that is NOT going to happen haha! Oh well! At least this will be a funny story I can tell all my new friends tomorrow!

A Dog, in My Apartment? It’s More Likely Than You Think…

I like to think I’m proving a stereotype wrong: yes, you CAN have a large dog in an apartment. You just need to give him a lot more attention, and also be very rich like me. The apartment is huge, large enough for me to chase Doogle around while he does his best to keep me from stealing his rope bone and none of us end up tripping over any furniture. Furniture that is, by the way, dog-friendly.

Now, you might say that I’m out at work and that’s unacceptable. I don’t LIKE leaving Doogle for such long period of time, but that’s what dog walkers are for! Don’t think I was casual about that, either; I held extensive interviews with every local Melbourne dog walker I could find, looking for that very special someone. See I have a very good plan in place. First I get up in the morning, give Doogle a quick walk or a tug with his rope bone if I’m in a real rush. He has a snooze for an hour or so, until my first dog walker gets there. She has a play with him, gives him a snack and then takes him out on a good walk with some other dogs, so he has some company.

Doogle then gets home, has a snooze for a couple more hours and THEN another dog walker gets there and the whole process repeats: play, snack and walk. They get back at about six, the last walk of the day, then Doogle snoozes for a bit until I get home around eight. If he’s up for a walk, I take him then; if not, we just have a play. Then he’s mine for the weekend! We usually go out somewhere really special to spend some quality time. I know this sort of makes him ‘owned’ by my quality Melbourne dog walking people almost as much as me, but Doogle loves having such a big family, so it’s fine! And that’s how you have a big dog in an apartment. Loads of cash, basically.

-Iris

The road to your dreams

shop signageI don’t think I’ll ever forget the first real sign I saw.

Well, I’m sure it wasn’t the first sign I saw, that would be almost impossible. In today’s climate, it would be almost impossible to grow up without any exposure to signage of any time. But I remember the first sign that I saw that really stuck with me.

It was about milk. I know that may not seem very interesting, but something about the composition and design just grabbed my attention. I made me really think about milk. I’m not sure if I could even read at that point, but I connected the cow with milk in my head, or so my mother tells me. To be honest, being so young, I don’t really remember that much about the aftermath. Only the experience of seeing the sign itself.

As I grew older, I knew that I wanted to be in some kind of marketing/design area when I got into the workforce. The older I grew, the more determined I became to make a splash. To change the face signwriting forever. To become the greatest signwriters Melbourne has ever seen.

So, after getting a solid qualification under my belt, I spilled out into the world as an adult and found no one would hire me. I needed a portfolio – a portfolio I didn’t have. I’d done a couple of different designs as projects during my course, but none of that was going to be directly applicable to a marketing type scenario.

And that’s where I’m up to now. I need a job, but I haven’t got any real experience under my belt. I don’t even know where to start, in a design company or looking at smaller-scale shop signage. Melbourne is such a big and wonderful place, so full of opportunity. Sometimes it all feels a little overwhelming.