Purely Mechanical Shenanigans

Here I am, in Toowoomba. What a nice place, and what a nice name. Rolls off the tongue…Toowoomba. I have to be careful while I’m saying the name, because it’s phonetically almost identical to the spell of ear enlargement. I remember that one being a favoured prank in the academy; just whisper it from the back of the class while someone is talking to a girl they like, and boom. Instant embarrassment! Ho-ho!

Anyway, since I was getting the hang of Australian life, I thought I’d go on a little trip across the desert, have a little Australian cuisine, and experience a little Australian engine trouble. It’s a good thing they have mechanics! Toowoomba is quite isolated if you don’t have transport. I estimate that it would take me weeks of travelling to get back, probably months, and surely along the way I would succumb to the temptation of my aching feet and draw a summoning circle so that I could call forth a winged beast to carry me the rest of the way. And that would be cheating.

No, no, I’m just happy I made it to the mechanics in Toowoomba so that I may rest easy, let them fix the problems caused by many days of driving, and perhaps go to a cafe. We had coffee on our realm, but now that I’ve tasted it here- freshly ground from the bean and mixed with steaming milk, as opposed to brown sugar water that tastes like boiled eyeballs- I can’t believe what we’ve been missing. Banishment really is turning out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

And cars! Many of my brothers fear them, but I love the feeling of the engine, the control over the wheels using the one smaller wheel. You can take courses to become an auto mechanic, and I’m considering. I will forget magic and go full machine. Cars are super great, so great that they even have auto electrical mechanics working in Toowoomba

Oh, dang it all, my ears are now four times their original size! It takes six hours for this spell to wear off!

-Tom

Fireworks NOT For Indoors

There’s a good reason fireworks are illegal in this country, as it turns out, and it’s because they can set your house on fire. Of course, that’s only if you’re silly about the whole thing, but that’s how Keynan was born: silly. I went to the milk bar to get some…milk, and I came home to find that he’d set off the whole box of them in the living room.

Long story short, we’re homeless. That’s the last time I leave my idiot son alone in a house with fireworks, that we probably shouldn’t even have had in the first place. It’s a pretty nice hotel, though, and it was nice of the insurance people to put us up for a few nights while we look for a new place. Heck, we’ve been meaning to build a place for a while now; maybe this is our chance.

Might be a chance to make some improvements as well. First thing I’m doing is finding someone for good air conditioning services close to Melbourne, because that was one thing we were definitely lacking. We’re going to have to put some kind of parents lock on the controls, because Keynan’s ability to set things on fire knows no bounds, but otherwise it’d be great to finally have air conditioning. Oh, and we’re getting rid of that open fireplace. Chopping the wood is just miserable, and then there’s Keynan’s habit of poking the blazing logs with a poked to see if he can spike a chunk of flaming wood, then waving it around like it’s a sparkler.

Nope, we’re having real heating. Real heating, and real cooling, actual Melbourne grade air conditioning that works and is reliable, both of them heavily locked so that there are no more accidents, like that one time when Keynan folded four electric blankets together to see if he could set them alight, or when he made a flamethrower out of a lighter and a can of hairspray to reenact one of his rock music videos.

We really need to watch Keynan more closely.

-Kaira

Bash Meme Racing

Ah, I remember the old classic, Bash Meme Racing. You get to play as your favourite meme, and then you get to participate in an extremely tense race where you can bump into other memes if you’re sick of them.

I hated it. Now, I’m not really a meme person to begin with, but this came out a few years ago when I was dead set on being a mechanic, and also, I was a complete and total stick in the mud. What was up with me? We may never know. I used to go round to all the car service centre Ringwood had to offer, looking on as they did their work – so professional and calm. I wanted to be like them.

And apparently, that meant that I had to sit there watching my brothers racing each other in a silly video game about memes, and I judged them. I judged them super hard. I used to tell them that lobbing sticks of dynamite is an unprofessional way to conduct a race, and the use of chemicals has an extremely negative impact upon a vehicle, especially if it creates a stream of green flame behind the car, and that there’s no such thing as a button on your vehicle that make it transform into a dragon. You know, just really useful things that I believe truly enhanced their gaming experience. It enhanced the experience so much that Mum had to come and tell me to get out of the gaming room.

I now realise the error of my ways, and I’m past my weird little mechanic stage, fortunately. I wasn’t cut out to do car repairs, let alone make decisions about roadworthy certificates. Ringwood locals probably got lucky there, all things considered. Those jobs are for people with actual passion for the job, not just a bit of intellectual thirst.

And hey, they’re remaking Bash Meme Racing, so maybe I can finally enjoy something I once forced myself to hate.

-PW

Commercial Solar Misinformation

Wow, how did I know that Her-Bla would start off its second season with a thoughtful commentary on solar energy? Maybe because it’s the lowest-hanging fruit possible?

And by ‘thoughtful commentary’ I do of course mean that it confuses the conversation and presents absolutely no useful information, because that’s what we want to be showing our kids. I watched this with my son, who is seven and thus smack bang in the middle of the target demographic, and he didn’t have a clue what the episode was trying to say. Neither did I, for the record.

I kid you not, the very first line in the episode was, “What a lovely day to install a 100 kw solar system!” I’ve no doubt that it is, random character who said that, but whoever writes for this series is getting paid too much. At first it looked like they were going to promote solar energy and commercial energy monitoring, because Her-Bla and her friends went to a magical mountain so they could install a solar system as close to the sun as possible. But then they reached the top of the mountain and they could see that the sun was crying. The sun said that humans stealing its solar energy was making it tired, and Her-Bla offered an apology on behalf of the entire human race for being so selfish and ‘stealing’ solar energy. Honestly, what even IS this show? The customary end-of-episode lecture was about treating the sun with respect (good), using solar energy whenever possible (okay) but switching back to coal when we feel like the sun is tired and needs a rest. WHAT.

How does…I can’t…I mean, do they know how industrial solar panels work, or anything about the subject? Absolutely incredible…and I don’t mean that in a good way. And yet, like most train-wreck television, I’m sort of curious to see what they’re going to crash into next.

-Annabelle

Toorak is Very Nice

Day 3, after moving to Toorak.

It’s very nice. It’s not AS nice as I expected, what with it supposedly being the place with the highest average house prices in all of Melbourne and all the celebrities living here, but maybe it’s just a lot of hype. Maybe it’s actually a struggling area that recently hired a great PR person. That would explain why the likes of myself managed to get a room here on my budget. My room is still chaos, because I’ve been flat out with work, but at least my new housemates don’t have to deal with any of that. I’m usually so tidy…

Need to find a new place for car maintenance as well. It’s not like they don’t have car servicing near Toorak, because everyone needs to have their limousines, Rolls Royces, and Porsches sorted out. I tell a lie, I haven’t seen any of those. Not on this street, anyway. Everyone here seems to have normal enough cars, so I don’t have to feel like a pleb when I finally bring my car in for a service.

Such is the annoying thing about moving somewhere new, especially if it’s far away. You need a new everything, from your hairdresser to a car servicing place. And those two things in particular are something that require a bit of trial and error…with dire consequences if it turns out to be error. Every time I have to get my hair cut somewhere new, I’m gripped with mild panic at the thought of what’ll happen if they cut it wrong and I can’t just stick bits of it back on. Car servicing and repairs are a bit different in that cars have standard servicing, but still. You want to be able to trust your mechanic.

Just got to take the plunge, get some recommendations for a good mechanic in South Yarra maybe. That’s if it turns out that Toorak garages exclusively service million-dollar cars after all. To be determined.

-Harrison

Glass, Such a Curious Substance

glass repairsOne of the most confusing things about the mortal realm was glass. We have none of it where I’m from, so I was constantly arousing suspicion when I first came here and I was walking into glass surfaces all the time. I mistook it for a mystic force-field spell, and my Talisman of Inexorable Traversal grants me passage through all kinds of arcane barrier. Naturally, I just assumed that I could walk through it.

Not so. Glass is quite mundane, even if it’s still a fascinating creation. Mortal ingenuity at its finest!

Probably the best thing about it is how it lets you look through to the outside world, but also blocks access to your home. Breaking glass makes a great deal of noise and mess, so it’s a deterrent to intruders perhaps on the caliber of an actual forcefield. And there are enough people doing residential glazing in Melbourne that simply calling them in if there’s a problem isn’t…a problem.

That problem was mine this weekend, as I sat alone in my apartment meditating on the words of world renowned philosopher, Sigmund Jaldaboath. There were some strong winds, and one such gust caused a branch to scrape across my kitchen window, leaving the glass in a poor state. There were multiple ways I could have fixed it myself, of course- a temporal reversal enchantment, or a benevolent transfiguration spell- but I was curious about the ways of glaziers. As it turns out, they were far too efficient for me to observe them all that much.

It was a simple matter of taking out the pane and replacing it with a new one. I had hoped that they would perhaps bring the glass-making materials and make the pane right there in the kitchen for me to witness, but nay…they brought the appropriate pane with them and replaced it with little fuss.

Truly, commercial glazing remains an enigma. How do they make these transparent squares, and why are they so strong? Mortals, so many secrets!

Wallpaper, for Psychological Health

tropical wallpaperThere’s more than one way to curb toxicity in online gaming! At least, that’s the very beginning of my thesis. Most games nowadays have a system of reporting and banning to try to stop players from becoming abusive, and to punish players who take things too far. Over-Botch has something very similar, although it’s a well-known problem that people file false reports when they simply don’t like a person, or the career they’ve picked, or their managerial style.

But I’m hoping to stop all that with my new thesis, entitled ‘Wallpaper, and the Passive Benefits of Calming Surroundings’. Right now, many people play with wallpaper of a neutral colour. However, with the digital wallpaper revolution that allows people to customise their wallpaper choices, and even purchase wallpaper that is easy to remove. Thus, wallpaper with a calming quality can actually have a profound effect on a person’s mental state.

I haven’t been able to test this extensively as I’d like, but I was able to carry out several tests. My participants were placed in several different rooms and asked to play a stressful, competitive first-person shooter game. One control group was in a room with simply white walls, and they reported greatly-heightened aggression as a result of being scrubs. One participant even went so far as to break the console, which was…not really what I wanted, to be honest. However, control group two were placed in a room with decorative wallpaper displaying such things as peaceful mountain meditation scenes, stock photo families walking along the beach, and various pictures of ducklings and young squirrels gathering nuts.

The change was astounding. The wallpaper lowered aggression by as much as 80%, with one participant verbally noting at the end of a stressful game that “I would be angry, but I just look at this tropical wallpaper and I can think of only tropical things.”

Fascinating. We could eliminate toxicity altogether! Further testing required.

-Michael

Curse You and Your Perfect Hair

hairdresser St James PlaceTo all those people who were born with perfect hair that sits straight all the time: please, please never take that for granted. I see people coming and going from work every single day without so much as a stray lock out of place, and I just secretly want to coat their entire desk in glue so they can feel a slight hint of what I suffer through every single day.

Don’t know why glue is my first option…just think it’d be a huge pain to clear out. You might even have to just throw everything away, because it’s too hard to clean, which sounds like a appropriate punishment for having perfect hair and not respecting the fact that there are people less fortunate.

If I wanted to look like that, I’d probably have to schedule an appointment with a hairdresser close to St James place right outside the office, and try to stop work people from looking in the window and seeing that I didn’t do my hair at home. That’s right: I’d have to get salon treatments every single day. That would already be a bit of a drain on the old finances, but knowing my hair, it’d still find a way to thwart my plans. It’s resistant to hairspray, hair glue, hair cement, hair wax, hair extensions…and I mean that one. Last time I got hair extensions, my hair basically taught the artificial hair to be terrible too, and I had to bin them by the end of the day. It’s like spending time with a misery guts and ending up as miserable as them.

And then there’s Selene, flouncing into the office on a rainy, windy day with her flawless raven locks. A plague on your household, Selene. May you turn grey at thirty, like I am. Guess I’d better find an alternate hair salon in the Melbourne CBD that isn’t near work. Having the girls seeing my get treatments for grey hair would just be the last straw.

-Kayla

Moon Offices, Just Generally Superior

office space designI’m amazed at how unintelligent a lot of the population can be at time. Did you know that some people think we’re not going to need office fitouts on the moon? Those people are IDIOTS. Not just that, but they’re short-sighted idiots. I gave a presentation at the meeting tonight about the importance of admin, and also how efficient admin requires comfortable surroundings. I’ve worked in far too many offices that were too miserly to improve the physical space in any way, and they paid for it with decreased motivation of their workers. Obviously there’s going to be a load of admin when we get to the moon, working out the daily rations of oxygen, who gets to be fed on that particular cycle, and the assignment of duties is going to be immense.

There are whole degrees you can do on commercial office space design. Melbourne has a bunch of universities that now office this career path. So while I’m not an office designer, I do believe that is one of my latent talents. And hopefully, everyone else is now convinced. I made a bit of a mockup of what the main office space would look like, situated in the main dome of our colony. People had some cruel things to say about how it should be strictly utilitarian, and there was no room for any flourishes. I bit back with some rather biting (and dare I say, witty) comments about how rather homogenous surface of the moon can be, and how we’ll need extra stimulation until the terraforming process takes hold. It was something like that, but a lot wittier. And so, office design will be even more important than before, as we attempt to transform our budding kingdom into a wonderful space of transcendent design. And that design begins in the place where everything is organised: the office space. Design in Melbourne is some of the best in the world, so it falls to us to improve upon it for our lunar paradise. Just imagine the future of offices in that fair landscape, all…open, and moon-like.

Yes, indeed, beautiful.

-Sia    

The Talking Toolboxes of the Future

aluminium trays MelbourneAt this point, I live for our Futurist Club meetings. The baby is teething, and Sandra is so caught up with looking after the in-laws that I’m having to practically work two full-time jobs. Of course, said in-laws STILL criticise me for going to an hour-long meeting once a week, because apparently fathers are never supposed to go out, EVER. But I’m not giving up this club. It’s the one place I can get away and be myself for a bit.

Today’s topic of discussion was about utes, which really brought back the memories. I used to have a ute…and she was beautiful. Toolbox central locking, custom alloy wheels, the best aluminium ute trays in Melbourne and one of those little bibbing Hawaiian girls on the dashboard. Perfect in every way, but I had to get rid of her when the baby came because it wasn’t a family vehicle. And it’s true, I didn’t strictly need her for work, so there really wasn’t any contest. I think about her all the time…

Um, anyway, we were talking about the toolboxes of the FUTURE, and how they’ll have specialised traction systems that present you with the tool you need, smartly. We did some calculations on the super-future-calculator, and we found out that this will save approximately eighteen seconds per day. Now, factoring in the…fact that people in the future will each live to around the age of 280 due to advanced medical science, and you’ve got yourself quite the extra bit of time as it stacks up over the years. And that toolbox central locking will really come in handy when your toolboxes can centrally lock themselves!

Just a thought from your brain chip and the roof racks and bars slide out, the toolbox boosts itself up on little rocket jets and you tell it exactly what you need, which is then deposited into your hand. Of course, this is all for hobby purposes. All the manual stuff, like DIY and entertaining the in-laws, will be done by robots. And I can’t WAIT.

-Alistair