Office Walls, Totally Overrated

Stuff all these ‘walls’. We’re setting up a new society…in the BUSH.

I grew up in a tent, in a community of tent folks, so I’m really not into this sort of working environment. I know I’m the boss now and I should be buckling down and doing what’s best for the office, which is exactly why I’d like to move everyone outside into the great outdoors. And I know what everyone would say to that: the winter winds would be chilly, and the rain might get into the keyboards, and there would be fewer power-points to connect your appliances. I’ve thought of all of this. In fact, I got the main idea from an office fitout company that designs offices in Melbourne. Making your office more homely and open-plan is currently all the rage. Well, I’d be making things as open-plan as it gets, because there wouldn’t be any walls at ALL. No cubicle walls, no nothing. Of course, I have an elegant solution to the power problem: really long extension leads. Or maybe portable generators that partially run off solar power; I’m still nutting that one out. I’m still getting used to the idea that people need to charge their devices and plug their computers into the walls.

That would only be the first step in my ultimate offices design plans. We’d have stylish flaps placed around the office in the winter, so as to keep out the cold winds and the rain. All the chairs would be replaced, so that people either had standing desks (the desks would be tree stumps) or they nestled with their computers in the crook of a tree. I know people create designer offices close to Melbourne, but no one is doing it like this. I’ll probably be beating off the folks who want to leech off my success and move all their staff outside. But I’ll always be the one who started the bush office.


New City In(duct)ion

It’s official – I’m moving to the ACT! I’ve lived in Melbourne my whole life, so it’s bound to be a bit of a culture shock, but I couldn’t very well turn down this PhD scholarship, could I? Anyway, I’m here in Canberra for the weekend, looking for a new home that’s within bicycling distance of the uni.

I’m warming up in cafe over a hot cocoa right now, having just come from a rental property viewing. It was a touch on the disappointing side, truth be told. The place was one of those white box apartments that I can’t help but find  depressing – give me a touch of character, for crying out loud. On the plus side (or so I thought), it has a pretty sweet ducted heating system, which wouldn’t go astray over winter.

On the downside, the system appeared to be out of order, and the real estate agent admitted that the homeowner wasn’t all that jazzed about shelling out for ducted heating repairs. Canberra, let me remind you, is a part of the world that gets pretty danged chilly over winter. So, frankly, I was surprised that the owner wouldn’t be looking to maximise the income they could get from their property by keeping on top of appliance maintenance.

Well, what can you do? Not move into that white box, for starters. I’d be more willing to overlook the lack of character if the perfectly finished skirting boards were complemented by a functioning heating system. On the other hand, perhaps I could accept a lower price tag on this unit and lobby to get repairs done on my own dime. Who’s good for heating system servicing in Canberra?

Or I could just keep looking. There might well be plenty more fish in the sea, and ones that are better suited to my needs. That apartment was close to the uni, though… location, location.

Honestly, this has got to be the most annoying aspect of moving cities. I’m sure there’ll be a lot going for this town once I dig into it a bit more deeply.

Office Design, Over Familial Banishment

I’ve done my own homework, without any help, from a very young age. In fact, I don’t really remember EVER getting help with my home work from any of my family members. All my brothers just laughed at me when I asked them, Ma told me to ask Pa, and Pa ended up getting so angry at my grade 3 maths homework that I had to take the sheet away from him before he ripped it up. Pa has never been good at maths, but he doesn’t like to be presented with proof of that fact.

So I’m just used to doing it all by myself. Now that I’m taking a design class- and don’t tell any of my family that I picked that subject- I just take it for granted that I’m not only never going to seek help, I shouldn’t even bring the subject up at the dinner-table at all. Besides…this is easy. I have to design my own office, I’m thinking I need to create the most spacious office designs Melbourne businesses have ever seen. I’ve sent a few letter to local office designers to get their help.  I need someone who specialises in taking old, boring offices and making them fresh and new.

I like design, but I don’t have all that much to go on. I’ve never been to an office, and Ma and Pa say that people who work in them are just a bunch of corporate scum. Yeah, they’re not very charitable towards a lot of professions…if it doesn’t involve architecture, then they don’t want to know about it. Still, I’ve see them on TV, and I know quite a bit about what makes an ergonomic design. There’s also the psychological aspect to think about; what will make people more productive and happier? Can’t come up with an office design that has no natural lighting, or one that separates people who need to be in communication. Will it be open plan, or does that depend on the business? A coloured feature wall, or some interesting wallpaper?

Office fitouts are much more than just new carpet and desks. I could do this, you know…find a company in Melbourne for office designs and offer my services. And then I’d be ejected from the Jacoby clan. I’m weighing my options.

-Forrest Jacoby Jr. Jr.

‘Officially’ Winter

I’ve really been feeling the cold kicking into gear this week. Right on cue, too – I mean, it’s officially winter now, if you’re into that. Not everyone is. A friend of mine, who’s a massive horticultural nerd, is of the belief that the standard seasonal divisions are overly simplistic. He reckons this becomes clear if you spend enough time observing ecosystemic cycles.

As for me, I spend most of my time observing the gregorian calendar – not to keep track of time, but because I’m writing my anthropology thesis on the subject. (What am I doing with my life? Honestly.) By observing, I mean tracking it to see how it lines up with the movements of astral bodies.

But let’s not go there right now. All I really came here to do is see if anyone has can recommend someone for ducted heating repairs. Canberra is starting to get pretty darned fresh, regardless of whether or not that’s indicated by the calendar, and my system is on the blink. I’ve never actually had to have it repaired before..

My mum just told me off via text message when I asked her about it – apparently, I should have been having it serviced annually since I moved in. Well, how was I supposed to know that? She certainly never told me, and it wasn’t covered in any class I’ve ever taken. Maybe there should be a mandatory ‘how to care for large electrical appliances’ seminar that you’re required to take when applying for a mortgage.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten the memo, I suppose I can at least be one step ahead of summer and get in early for my air conditioning annual service. Canberra people, send me your recommendations for heating and air con maintenance. I’d like to hit two birds with one stone, if possible, and get both done at once.

You know, I do agree with my mate – the seasons don’t necessarily correspond to the calendar. That’s way too reductionist, and precisely why I’d like to have a working heater and an air con ready to go, all year round.

The Great Beyond is in Need of Wheels

One does not simply build a car from scratch, with no knowledge of how it works. But that’s the whole thing about receiving visions from the world of the beyond: they tell you to do stuff, and you just don’t question it, because it’s the great beyond and they know what they’re talking about.

I mean…they have to, right? You don’t just start questioning the wisdom of the great beyond.

Yeah, so, anyway, I had a dream and they told me to build a car, because it was very important my well-being, and maybe also the well-being of the world. I haven’t done any work on a car since I lived with Uncle Tony for the weekend and he made me help him switch out his under tray draws and the canopy for a new one. Pretty sure that’s not a job for laymen, and he thus really shouldn’t have been asking me, plus I knew nothing about cars…but anyway, that was it. We took off the ute canopy, put on a new one, and then I had to hold up his gas bottle holders for about half an hour while he drilled them on, and then continue holding them while he went into the shed to get the right screws. I never really liked visiting Uncle Tony.

And to be honest, a few aluminium accessories does not make a person into some kind of master car building…mechanic…person. I guess I need to start by researching what goes on a car- like a regular car, because I’m not into the idea of creating my own ute from scratch- and how to get the materials. And boy, I’m gonna be pretty put-out if it turns out that you need millions of dollars worth of industry materials, and possibly some kind of factory. You probably don’t though, right? People love cars; there are probably loads of people who’ve slapped them together in their back gardens or whatever. There will be whole tutorials, probably made my people like my Uncle Tony, telling you how to switch out your old draw systems for new ones. Definitely avoiding those ones though.


Clinic Needs a Treatment Plan

Business has been slow here at the clinic this past year. I blame it on the endless stream of competitors that seem to be cropping up everywhere… the clinical Pilates studios in particular are going crazy down here on the coast, and people seem to be turning to them for help with sports injuries. I’ve thought about offering group classes here, but we don’t have the space.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, instead of trying to mimic our competitors, we need a point of difference. That’s why I’ve signed us all up for a clinical dry needling course. Melbourne doesn’t have a huge amount of sports medicine clinicians who are equipped to administer this treatment, so it’s something we can say hold up as point of difference.

It’s all to do with trigger point stimulation, which is something I’m sold on. I’ve heard really good things about the technique as far as treating musculoskeletal conditions like tendonopathies and movement impairments, and believe it will add genuine value for our clients.

The clinical dry needling course we’ve booked in for is a one-weekend thing, which means we don’t need to take time off to head into Melbourne to complete it. Kerry pointed out that it’s not a bad networking opportunity, either, given that a requirement of entry is having a degree in a manual therapy discipline, and preferably being a practising clinician in that field.

I’m not much of a networker, myself. But I recognise that we can do with all the professional connections and referrals we can get at the moment. I’d be interested to know if other clinicians are having trouble or if it’s just us, and if there’s anything we can do differently to bring us up to speed.

At the end of the day, our main goal is to help our patients improve their sporting performance while experiencing a higher quality of life, particularly after an injury. If dry needling can enhance our ability to do that, we’ll be on the right track. 

From shack to chic new home

Isn’t it crazy how in life sometimes everything can just happen at once? Like, one minute you think to yourself, ‘gee, you know, I’ve actually got everything really under control’, and the next minute you’re under so much pressure you could crush a lump of coal into a diamond.

For example, I thought I was completely on top of my wedding preparations. I’m a very organised person, and my fiance and I have a very similar vision for what we want. He’s also very involved, so I’ve been able to actually share the load extremely evenly between the two of us. It isn’t my wedding, it’s our wedding.

On the back burner for some time now has been our house hunt. We’ve talked even talked to a Melbourne based conveyancer about our options. I know it’s a bit of a strange thing to be sort-of-not-really doing, but with a whole wedding to put together, we’ve had to shift priorities a little bit. Over the years, we’ve seen lots of places we’ve loved the look of come and go, but one house has always had a special place in our hearts.

A month ago, we found out our dream home was up for sale once more and so, naturally, we jumped at the chance. One of the things I definitely didn’t realise was going to be such a huge deal has been doing all the property conveyancing. Melbourne has some pretty strict rules and regulations that my fiance and I have gone head-to-head with over the last few weeks as we desperately try and push the sale through as quickly as possible.

Amazingly, we got it! But that meant that we’ve been going through the process of finalising that purchase with our wedding quickly approaching. Talk about doing two things at once!

Our conveyancers have been amazing, navigating the sections 32 statement without them would have been nearly impossible. My goodness, it’s a lot of pressure to put on a newly married couple.

Hair, As Applied to Cooking Techniques

It’s a good thing the only clients they’re letting me see are the good sports who know the situation. I don’t know anything about hair, salons, styling, curlers, blow dryers, dyeing and those helmet things that look like something out of Space Track. And yet, here I am. Participating in a piece of rubbish television for recognition and cash.

I did like the concept, though. A top chef (that’s me) and a top hairdresser swap places for a week, with the former (still me) setting up a temporary hair salon and the hairdresser setting up a temporary restaurant, all the hilarious results recorded. I was allowed to sort of… ‘intern’ in a hair salon in the Melbourne CBD for a week, which basically just means I sat there for a few hours each day and tried to note down what they were doing. The overarching idea of the show is to see how many skills transfer between hairdressing and cooking, with my preliminary answer being ‘not many’. I can cook anything you care to mention, but I must’ve watched them blow-dry a client’s hair a thousand times and I still can’t replicate the casual expertise. It’s like, a…flip, wrist flourish, wiggling of the fingers to separate the hair strands…but it looks a lot better. It’s all in my notes, anyway.

I don’t think I’ve totally ruined all my clients. They all came in with a spirit of fun, to find out what the chef can do with their hair, and they mostly left with cuts that could do with a bit of a tidy up. I also dyed a lady’s ear red by accident…still guilty about that one.

In the end, I think that award winning hair salons should be left to their own work, and the top chefs should be the same, and we’ll keep offering top quality service without burned scallops or dyed ears. That’s what I’m going to say in my post-show interview, anyway.


A dramatic composition of aluminium

Over the last few months, I’ve been getting more and more into photography. A friend of mine is working professionally, and I went with him to one of his gigs, just to help out. While I was there, though, I started getting really interested in what he was doing – the intricacies of the whole thing – and so I got him to show me a couple of things afterwards. After a lot of experimenting, I’ve found the most incredible new aesthetic. I think I could really make it my signature look and, miraculously, I stumbled across it almost completely by accident.

I was walking to work about two weeks ago when I sauntered past two utes parked, one slightly further forward than the other, parallel with a brick wall. Immediately, I saw something special about the composition of those aluminium trays. Melbourne has lots of different things that are all incredible in their own right that I guess I could have chosen to photograph, but I didn’t. Instead, looking at the way they were set up – thoughtlessly yet strikingly. I grabbed my camera and began to take pictures of the aluminium trays, hesitatingly at first and then with more confidence.

The scene before me was thrilling. After that moment, that bubble in time where my creative energy took control. I went about my day at work, but spent every moment waiting until I could get home and have a look at the pictures properly, on my computer. The result was beyond my wildest hopes. With a bit of editing, the pictures looked amazing. With just a glint of the aluminium toolboxes showing from inside the ute, the composition and contrast between the metal and the brick was almost overwhelmingly indicative of the proletariat society we’ve moved away from in recent decades. A remnant from a time we’re in danger of losing. A transition through time, captured forever in my lens.

Crazy Kids in Canberra

Why did we decide to drive via Canberra again? I can’t remember. It was something to do with wanting to check out an exhibition at the national gallery, but that prospect now seems dwarfed by the inconvenience of the extra hours in the car with the kids. Am I a bad mum for saying that? 

Anyway, here we are in hotel room. It’s raining cats and dogs, and the kids couldn’t care less about viewing large-scale light installations. They’re also climbing the walls, due to having been boxed into a car from Sydney for hours. There’s only one thing for it, as far as I can see, which is to take them somewhere where they’re officially sanctioned to tear around indoors. Alright, then, inland capital – what have you got for me and my kids? Indoor play centres in Canberra, show yourselves. And maybe batten down the hatches in preparation for the particularly fierce tornado that is three year-old Belinda.

Seriously, the kids get beside themselves with excitement about going to these play centres. To someone who’s not a parent, they might just look like germ-riddled, hyped up gymnasiums, but there’s a hidden genius to the whole thing. They really come into their own as children’s party venues. In Sydney, we’ve been to more than a few of these places for birthdays. You wouldn’t believe what a lifesaver it is to a have a crew of four year-olds going nuts together somewhere other than your house.

Perhaps you can tell that I’ve done this before. As a mom of five, I do have a bunch of experience in dealing with situations of just this nature. That experience has taught me a few things, not least that most capital cities have at least one set of giant indoor play equipment safely nestled behind some form of security system that prevents your kids from running off into the suburban wilderness.