Time-Wasting Tendencies

How do you motivate yourself to work when you’d much rather be checking your full moon horoscope, or investigating what the prime minister has been up to on social media? I seem to have a bit of a problem with all of the above, and my boss has started to notice.

I’ve started asking around, and one of the most common answers I’ve heard is that it all comes down to spatial design – as in, how an individual workspace is put together, as well as the flow of the office as a whole. This kind of makes sense to me. I work in a cubicle, which is arranged such that my colleagues can’t really see what I’m up to, so there’s not much to stop me from going on mindless scrolling rampages, at least in the moment.

I’m not sure there’s much I can do regarding my firm’s choices in office interior design. Melbourne is a leader in the global commercial design landscape, though, as far as I can tell from a quick online search. Maybe that’s some ammunition I can use to argue my case – in other words, we’re letting the team down.

Here I go again – searching and blogging and polling strangers about their workplace habits, when I could (and should) be getting on with that report that’s due in two hours. I’ve only got myself to blame, really; I can’t very well point the finger at my environment. I mean, it’s not like it’s terrible. It’s undeniably a high end office fitout. Melbourne has plenty of worse-off offices hidden amongst its up-to-date facade, no doubt.

Still, it’s worth thinking about, especially for business owners. At the end of the day, I’ll lose out if I get the sack over my chronic time-wasting, but so will the company. There are things that could be done to facilitate better workplace habits, and they could be a simple as giving some thought to the layout of the space.

No Aquatic Cars

Everyone can have their soaps and their other reality TV shows. Lizard’s Hut is all I really need. It’s a little more niche- much bigger in the UK, in fact- and it’s all about people bringing in their inventions, where they are ruthlessly judged and torn apart.

The open secret of the show is that no one ever actually receives funding: it’s actually just a stream of idiots filing past a group of incredibly aggressive judges, who then more kindly explain to the viewer the science behind their decisions. It’s actually very educational.

The latest inventing idiot who had their dreams crushed on international television wanted a car that could drive underwater. Now, one of the judges is a smart fellow who used to do auto electrical work in Bentleigh, just around the corner from where I live. He’s generally the one who deals with anything to do with cars, so obviously he tore the guy a new one and he ran away sobbing. We then received a very interesting lecture on why the idea wouldn’t work…obviously, auto-electrical was at the top of that list. Cars are not entirely waterproof; they can resist rain, but not being submerged. Even if you shore them up and insulate the engine against the water, there are still all kinds of issues- pressure, the exhaust, the lack of escape options in case of emergencies- that mean that an ordinary car made waterproof still isn’t going to work underwater.

So educational. Now I fully understand the deal behind why submarines are submarines, ships are ships, and cars are cars. Next time I go for a car service close to Bentleigh East, I’m going to remember this. Maybe I’ll quiz the mechanics on their opinions on aquatic cars. Hopefully they look at me like I’m the idiot, as they should.


The Coldest Christmas

Prepare everything. Prepare the carpets, shore up the door-frames, disassemble the trampoline. Lock the cupboards, bolt the doors to the spare rooms, and make sure ALL the ornaments are up high.

That last one is mostly because my brother is going to be bringing his great dane- as if we needed extra large bodies on this house- but I guess with all the nephews and nieces getting older, we need to start preparing for Christmases with grasping little hands in the house as well.

And especially, above all, we need to prepare for Great Aunt Yelena taxing the air con to its limit. Air conditioning services are great, right? Thanks to the Central Cooling Authority we don’t even need to worry? Well, they haven’t met Great Aunt Yelena. Her body runs a few degrees hotter than everyone else’s, or so it seems. It’s like she constantly has a life-threatening fever, but has as much energy as a lady twenty years her senior. Touch the controls for the air con and she watches you like a chameleon settling both of its eyes onto a juicy cricket. Turn down the settings and she’s up like a truck when the air horn is blown, guilting her way out of any repercussions by saying she’s an old lady and she needs the room at just the right temperature…

One room would be fine, except she claims the main sitting room as her domain and that’s where we have to be to open presents and have the family times. So the air con is on full blast, we’re all shivering, and there’s Great Aunt Yelena, smiling like she’s lounging by the pool. Oh, you want to be the one to look up the best air conditioning repair in Canberra when you run the machine ragged? Of course not…we’re the ones hosting, it’s our house. It’s as close to a cold Christmas as we’re likely to get.


2019, More Food

 Someone asked me recently what I’m looking forward to in 2019. And I was all like…gosh…it’s not New Year’s Eve. Stow it with the big questions. I guess in 2019 we’re getting phones that can roll up, so that’s pretty exciting. That wasn’t the answer they were looking for, though. I think it was more like ‘job prospects!’ and ‘installing a new wood burning fire in my four-bedroom house!’ and other really adult things that make me physically ill to talk about.

Of course, Lorelei was only asking because she wanted to talk about all of HER very mature goals, like having a baby (yawn) and her and Kal going on holiday to Port Douglas, their dream destination, and how her restaurant is getting a commercial wok burner. Oh gosh, she went on about the commercial kitchen equipment for what seemed like hours, and I was just like ‘Lorelei, next time I see you at a party I’m going to come down with a sudden, violent case of hiccups so I can leave the room’.

Then again, I’d gladly hear about a commercial wok burner over the other stuff that makes me feel like I’m not doing anything with my life. In fact, it did rouse within me a desire to be a bit more of a foodie this year. I’ve been slaving away trying to cook my own stuff and none of it seems to go right. Apparently I was cursed with a great love for good food but the complete inability to actually make any of it myself, so I’m thinking ‘whatever, that’s what restaurants are for.’ They have all the equipment to make food properly instead of me having to look up conversion tables and wondering if the inside of the chicken will still be pink because my oven is just plain awful.

Commercial ovens are built for that sort of thing. They cook everything the way you want them, so…that’s good. I’ll try out as many restaurants as I can, and that’ll fill the void in 2019 nicely. Thanks, Lorelei! Still don’t ever want to talk to you again though.




Surprise! New Kitchen

After some serious thought over the past few months, I’ve come to the conclusion that my apartment has been dagging it up for too long. The time has come, my friends, for that which should not be named: renovations.

The planning process has been engaged. I’m thinking I’ll start with the kitchen, this being the house’s primary social hub. The apartment isn’t huge, so the dining area is essentially an extension of the kitchen, and it’s getting to the point where I hold back on having friends over on account of the inconvenient entertaining arrangement.

I’ll be looking to get more room for seating, and a more flexible layout. A better cabinetry design wouldn’t go astray, nor would a purpose-built wine cellaring solution. Of course, all the fittings and finishes will be much higher quality than what’s currently installed, and the lighting will be getting a serious overhaul.

Basically, I’m on the hunt for a unique, adaptable, modern kitchen design. Melbourne readers: do you have anyone to recommend? I’ve never had any custom interior design done before, and I’m a bit unsure about how to move forward with this project. From what I can tell, the first step is locking in a certified kitchen designer and solid construction team, so that’s my main goal at the moment.

I suppose the next step will be working with the designer to figure out precisely what form this kitchen makeover is going to take, right down to the details like drawer configurations and power outlet arrangements. If you’re going to go to the effort of doing this at all, you might as well go to town, right?

Honestly, I don’t know why I ever had any aversion to this process. I guess I had it in my head that I’d have to do everything myself, but in actuality an interior design specialist is going to be taking the reins on most of it. All I have to do, really, is sit back and decide what I want.

The Drain King

I just saw a movie about an evil puzzle box that solves wishes or whatever. But the trick is that every time you make a wish, it grants your wish in a really horrible way. Like…you wish that you had a dog, and it sends a giant dog to come and try to eat you.

BUT, the extra trick is that every time your wish is granted, someone close to you has their secret desire granted. So the main character keeps making wishes because he’s an IDIOT and he thinks that he’s just doing it wrong. And while his life is falling apart, his Dad gets a free Porsche, his crush gets tickets to Beyonce and his best friend gets to own a drain repair company.

Yeah, that last one was a little left field. I’m all for promoting drain repair, Melbourne has some pretty old and terrible sewer systems. The best friend gets a lot of screen time, and he’s specifically portrayed as this drainage nerd who knows everything about pipes and sewers. Those are all important things, don’t get me wrong…I like how flushing the toilet works every single time, and I can maybe put a FEW food scraps down the sink without having to worry about a flood crisis. But like…kids don’t know about that stuff in school. The main character wishes to be really popular, but he goes into school the next day and finds that he’s ‘popular’ because he can do a perfect impression of Mickey Mouse, and people ask him to do it until he wants to scream. And then they get bored within a week.

Meanwhile, his best friend becomes the CEO of a series of drain unblocking and replacement companies operating within Melbourne, and quits school to go and make his fortune doing what he loves.

So yeah. Weird movie. And it’s supposed to be a horror, but the main character ends up being the only one with a happy ending after he burns the puzzle box under the full moon. Way to ruin everyone’s life in a terrible movie that’s never going to get a sequel.


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.