Boats Don’t Come Cheap, Apparently

The eternal problem with new hobbies is that they’re just so expensive, every time. I wanted to be a film buff for a while, you know, until the cost of expensive cinema tickets started racking up and I couldn’t continue. Thing is, you can’t do anything in half-measures when it’s supposed to be your hobby. There’s no finding cheap tickets in the middle of the day and that’s that. No, you have to go to conventions, buy merchandise, pretend you care about discussions, and I had no time for any of that.

So…why am I trying again, with boating? Maybe because there’s some sort of boating commuter trend on right now, and I like the thought of being at the helm with the wind in my hair? Still the same basic principle: I looked into the prices of plate alloy boats, and like…in terms of plate alloy boats, they’re fine. I’m not saying they’re ‘overpriced’. People who’ve been into boats for years will have no problem just casually picking up a new one, because they’re boat people and it’s what they do. But for someone trying to break into the trend? It’s probably one of the most expensive hobbies to suddenly pick up. Maybe I’ll get myself a nice inheritance from an unknown uncle that’ll help propel e into the world of fishing rod holders and swim decks. Or maybe it can be like in ‘Row, Anna!’ where she uncovers a rowboat in her grandfather’s mansion and takes it to the sea. But I doubt it.

Best I can do right now is get a bunch of fishing and rowing friends, possibly by hanging out in pubs near the docks, and basically mooch off them until I wait for that currently-unknown uncle to die. Then they could teach me all about bait boards and marine welding, and I’d be properly set up by the time I scrounged together enough funds.

Phew…see how much effort there is in picking up a new hobby? If only there were some out there that were zero cost. I don’t think they exist, though.


Weird pets at the vet

We’re an animal-loving family, so it’s nice that we all have something to watch on a Thursday night. It’s the one night when we’re all in, so it’s cups of tea all around and the latest episode of Doctor Leroy: The Weird Pets of Oz.

My only complaint is that the show has been running for seven years and he spends most of his time in Melbourne, so the ‘weird pets’ has extended to things like normal dogs with strange names, or sometimes things that are downright innocuous. Like bad-tempered cats. Still, Doctor Leroy is a charmer, and very good on-screen so he makes it entertaining.

Still, last time I took Benson down to our pet surgery near Bayside I was talking to some people in the waiting room, and they didn’t seem so keen on the show. I was pretty surprised at this- I would’ve thought that the type of person you meet in a vet would be well into Doctor Leroy and his family-friendly pet shenanigans. They said that they find him very silly, and he often tries to make too much of a big deal out of dull pets.

Dull pets? Doctor Leroy’s motto is that there’s no such thing as a dull pet. He can take a story about a fish going to a pet hospital and make it into a heartwarming tale of animal recovery. He actually did last week. And who cares if he’s not a real vet? He doesn’t actually treat animals; it’s just an animal feature show, while ‘Doctor’ is just a fun title.

It was all a bit strange. Sounds like they wouldn’t accept any show about animals unless it was hosted by a qualified vet from a Moorabbin vet surgery with good reviews and perfect teeth.  It’s ALL about the perfect teeth nowadays. Good dental hygiene and cute animals are the new recipe for family television success.

Garden Flourishes after sewer incident

An man has described his joy after seeing his garden recover from a burst sewer pipe, as it now grows at twice the speed.

Michael Vandry, 64, had his newly landscaped garden almost destroyed by a flood of sewage late last month after a pipe burst underneath his property. Sewage covered his entire garden, and all plant life was believed to have been lost. However, after a two-week process of removing all of the hazardous waste, it was found that most of the plants were still alive and well, and thriving. Unfortunately this didn’t extend to the driveway, which had to be replaced as the stains were impossible to remove.

“It’s almost a gardening miracle,” says Vandry, speaking from his North Melbourne property. “Whatever was in that pipe must have worked as some kind of super fertilizer. Everything is growing nicely.”

However, Vandry has also stated that the growth has not eased his anger over the need for new driveway resurfacing. Melbourne North residents staged a campaign against the local council to instigate a full clean of all drains and sewers in the area. Multiple blockages were found and removed that could have caused serious problems in the future.

“I’m not complacent because of all the growth in my garden,” says Vandry, “It could easily have gone the other way and destroyed everything. And let’s not forget that the pipes burst and flooded the neighbourhood with an unpleasant smell for weeks. I’m just thankful that the work I had done by local Melbourne North garden landscapers wasn’t ruined.”

Meanwhile, botanists have come from all parts of the city to study Mr Vandry’s plants in the hopes of uncovering the exact chemical mix that helped them to flourish. Their results so far have been inconclusive.

A documentary on complementary medicine

My shoulder has never been quite the same since I injured it playing baseball. It’s not always in pain but every now and then it bugs me. After seeing osteopaths and chiropractors I decided to get some trigger point dry needling and see if that would be any better. Amazingly it really worked for me. What they do is they stick some fine needles into your muscles to release the tension. This lightens the load on your tendons too which helps with joint mobility. After receiving this miraculous manual therapy, I’ve decided to follow some students in dry needling courses around New Zealand for a new documentary I’m making.

It’s still in its formative stages but I’m thinking the focus will be on complementary medicine and the recent popularity of Eastern systems within the health industry here in New Zealand. The problem is that eastern traditional medicine and the newer things like dry needling and osteopathy are still considered ‘complementary medicine’ even though most of the time they’re as effective as the recognised and government subsidised treatments. For example, the government sanctions prescriptions for dangerous sedatives and reduces their cost for the public, when there are safer, natural alternatives that actually cost twice as much or more.

I’m documenting many of the opinions of the students in the dry needling courses. In Adelaide there are more alternative medicine institutions than in other parts of the country so I plan on getting in touch with some of the directors and professors. I’d also like to speak with patients to see if their dry needling treatment are helping to alleviate pain and improve mobility. 

I’ve already started to see a shift. Hopefully in the future we’re going to see an even greater move away from chemicals and towards more holistic health options. The western world is only now discovering what the eastern philosophers knew all along – that you need to treat the whole person in order to improve a discrete ailment.

Counting My Blessings

I feel pretty darned lucky to have access to solid healthcare facilities. If that weren’t the case, I don’t know how I’d have dealt with this whole motorbike accident malarkey. Having health insurance sure goes a long way when something like this happens.

My kids have been especially great. I was feeling pretty down last week after I was told that my rehab would have to be put on hold while I was treated for an infection. Well, ‘feeling down’ is an understatement and a half – I was actually pretty devastated, maybe disproportionately so. Anyway, Annette got the hospital to connect me with a liaison psychiatrist; I think I freaked her out when I told her I didn’t feel like eating. Really, though, who would want to eat the food here? And to think this is a private hospital!

Having a mental health professional check in with me turned out to be a good move, though. It helped me to feel secure in the fact that I’m not losing it, and acknowledge that I’m going through a pretty rough time. When I get back home to Mornington, psychiatry clinics are something I’m going to be looking into, although Joe said he thinks psychological counselling might be more appropriate if I’m not experiencing a medical mental health issue. I’m not all that clear on what the difference between the two is but I’ll take his word for it for now.

Any nominations for the best Mornington Peninsula psychologist? I know I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, seeing as I don’t know when I’ll get to leave hospital, but this experience has given me a new appreciation for my mental health and the fact that there are people qualified to help me out with it. This past couple of months has been extremely stressful, and I can see now that a bit of professional support could be very beneficial.

On the whole, though, I’m lucky to be a pretty resilient bloke.

No Such Thing as Invincible Netting

We go through so much equipment at this club, it’s ridiculous. This is why no one wanted the inventory job, clearly; it’s such a pain getting a list of things ruined each week and trying to stretch the budget to get them all replaced. Often they aren’t replaced and we’re getting people to make do with old rackets, or nets with holes in them. I keep telling them: tennis netting is actually pretty important to playing tennis. If you don’t have it, the ball goes right through. Just…whoosh. Right through the net, making it really hard to tell sometimes if it was supposed to bounce off and end the rally.

But the people here are so very set in their ways, it’s a wonder they hired me at all. And them being set in their ways is the reason they keep losing, which is also the reason they get so frustrated, and…well, I’m working at a club full of people with anger management issues. Of course, the innocent netting is the one that pays the price, followed shortly by me. At least I don’t have to pay the monetary prices, because good quality nets aren’t dirt cheap. As you’d expect from good quality nets.

What would be really good is if someone came out with the anger-proof net, for use in all types of sports. Perfect for cricketers who get a bit frustrated. Just the best thing for indoor tennis players who need to work out their frustrations. Totally unbreakable, totally resistant to slamming rackets and bats. Then they could bring out an entire range of equipment that services the same purpose, and my job is done, because never again would I have to explain to an angry loser that he’s going to have to use a racket from the 1970s for today’s practice game.

Doesn’t matter anyway…the club will never go for it. Invincible equipment would be expensive equipment, and they won’t go for that. They just keep losing, getting angry, taking out their frustrations on the club and I keep stretching the budget for sports netting that doesn’t deserve all this abuse. It’s not the only one.


I Don’t Trust Myself To Pruned A Single Leaf

I’m really looking forward to gardening…is something you’ll never hear me say! Tending to green things isn’t really in my list of talents, or my genes. I’ll sit at the window and watch how Vince next door is able to grow things seemingly just by talking to them in a tender tone, and I appreciate that, I really do. The way our properties are joined up sort of makes it look like our front gardens are one, so I’m more than happy to take all of that credit. And then people can’t see my back garden, so that works out just fine. I can feel my neighbour Vince judging me. He’s elderly and spends all of his time at home; I don’t have that kind of free time every day!

It’s getting a bit dire out there in the front garden. My sister says I need to get in touch with an actual tree trimming service, Melbourne has many fine arborists. Every time I try to cut the grass it ends up as a deadly game of avoid running over the massive branches littering the ground. Running over large tree branches will ruin both your day, your inherited lawn mower and possibly your eyesight as the blades fling wood chips into your face’. As party games go, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Maybe for my 25th.

As nice as this place is (compared to my previous home), the garden is a bit of a mess. It’s not even that big, but it wasn’t left in a good state and I’ve been tentative about going out there to clean it up. It just seems like you’d need some heavy equipment, which I don’t have. It’s not like I’m going to rip up the offending tree stumps with my bare hands like that one Scottish strongman I saw on the news. I don’t have that level of zen, and I’m too precious about my nails. So I guess I’m calling some of the lovely tree removal contractors in Armadale. It’s their speciality so I’m confident they’ll do a fine job. One day I’ll learn to do things by myself, I swear.

Ball Pit Fear No More

We shall always remember January 2018 as the time I finally conquered my deadly phobia. Of ball pits.

It’s funny, the things that suddenly don’t matter when your child needs you. Mothers throughout history have suddenly gained the power to lift fallen trees off their offspring, when it is required. Fathers have worked 100-hour weeks to keep their families going. That sort of thing.

Play centres were different back when I was young, you know. They were very new, people didn’t really know much about them, and the safety regulations so stringently followed in every single kids party venue for hire in Brisbane. People say it’s a cotton-wool culture, but I’ve never really had a problem with it. Better cotton wool coating everything than your child falling from a great height, or almost getting lost forever in a pit of balls.

Which, of course, happened to me. The very first indoor play centre ever established in Brisbane, and my parents were the forward thinking sort, so they took me along with all the other hippy children. I dived right into the ball pit, which was about twenty feet deep and filled to the brim…and there I was for the next two hours, while my parents debated the various downsides of war and free love with all the other parents. They may have also been overly honest about…things. Anyway, ever since then, phobia to the extreme.

But when my son began to panic during HIS first foray into the ball pit, it was time for me to spring into action. I jumped from my seat, all fears forgotten.

He was fine by the time I got there, but flesh was willing, and the spirit was also willing. Also, it was only about two feet deep. Apparently, across all indoor play centres operating in Brisbane, that’s pretty standard.

So that’s good. Things are better and all.


Call The Experts at Driveway Toppings

Everyone is making their own reality TV show nowadays. Ten years ago…an even balance between reality and normal. Now? It’s like all people want to see on TV is something that you can get in your everyday life, except with more dramatic music in the background.

I could do that. Anyone could come up with an idea for a show, and all you’d need is a few people who can cope with a camera being shoved in their face at the same time as something else. It’s easy; see, I’ll do it right now. ‘Landscaping…Dreams’. No, ‘Landscaping Wars’. ‘Australia’s Top Landscaper.’

No, strike all that: my show will be called ‘The Landscaper’. It will feature a driveway topping expert from Cranbourne (which, as everyone knows, is the premium location for that sort of thing), and he’ll be absolutely terrifying. Really nice guy (or lady, whatever) in real life, but on-camera they will be a terrifying force of nature, criticising every single pebble out of place. Then we just add some contestants who know nothing about exposed aggregate or tree planting formations, slap some edgy music over the top of the challenges and let the audience vote people off like we’re back in an ancient Roman gladiatorial arena. Maybe we could make a big mystery over the identity of the Landscaper. They can operate from the shadows, or as a letter on a computer screen, just like the Banker from ‘Steal or Don’t Steal’.

Now, you see, you might not THINK you were interested in driveway toppings and aggregate, but that’s the magic of reality TV. You WILL be, because the characters on the show are laying driveways, and you’re invested in *them*. Yes. Perfect. Flawless. I just need to find the right network to pitch my idea. Which would be ‘every single network’. The Landscaper, coming soon to a small screen near you!

Children, Science, Child-Science

Everything is science. Even science is science. Have you ever looked into the science of science? It’s very scientific. For example, 80% of scientific results are skewed in one direction to a pre-existing bias; personal beliefs, funding or other factors. That’s psychology, which is a science even if some people think that it isn’t. Mostly biology snobs. I could dig up a few scientific facts about THOSE clowns.

So it stands to reason that when it comes to crafting quality children’s entertainment, science could very well show us the way to perfection. I’ve studied every kids play centre in and around Perth, and there are traits shared by most of those that could be considered successful. Themed play equipment is a must, it seems, It allows the children to engage with their imaginations and then also physically. Case in point: a pirate ship. Adults have no need of pirate stimulus to ‘have fun’, as is the common phrase, but a child atop a climbing frame with elements of a pirate ship is guided into the realm of fun by the visual stimuli. Of course, in an ordinary set of play equipment, as one may find in your average play park, the same effect CAN be achieved. Often, children with a link to piracy will create the scenario themselves, even with opposite or competing stimuli. But still, it’s the theme that seems to create the difference. Most play centres seem to have completed this requirement.

There is also a set of requirements for crafting a birthday party venue, many of which seem to revolve around crafting a dedicated birthday ‘space’. This separates the event in the attendee’s mind, allowing it to be more deely stored in their memory banks. Of course, animal-themed apparatus help as well. Along with a general feeling of safety via handrails and netting. I should just collate all my findings on birthday party venues in Perth and make it into a research paper, honestly…