Feet Need Love Too

When I was a kid I visited a podiatrist, and was given orthotics to wear. Being five years old, I didn’t really know what they were, but I liked them because they made me feel a tiny bit special. I now know that they’re arch support insoles. Regardless, they seemed to be the ticket – I now have excellent foot health.

Foot care is a topic that probably isn’t at the forefront of most people’s minds. I wonder if this has to do with the sedentary lifestyles that many of us lead – first we’re in the car, then at a desk all day before getting back in the car and ending up on the couch. Day to day, people in developed societies have increasingly limited cause to value what our feet do for us.

Just because your feet get to chill under your desk all day, encased in stylish leather, doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Foot health issues abound – from problems with ingrown toenails and toenail fungus (I enjoy how bothered some people are by that word… toenail) to the effects on feet of conditions such as osteoarthritis and diabetes, there’s plenty that can go south down there. Thankfully there are people whose sole profession is to look after feet.

I wonder if there’d be as many problems if we relied on technologies (cars for transportation, TV for entertainment, lifts and elevators for vertical movement) and used our feet more, we’d have fewer health problems in that department. Still, though, toenail fungus happens (let me say that one more time: toenail fungus), tendonitis happens, osteoarthritis and diabetes happen, random weirdness that calls for children’s orthotics happen. So, even though we could look after our feet better, it’s great that there are people around who specialise in knowing how to fix them for us.

 

Boats Are Fine for Kids, I Guess

Kids movies just keep getting weirder. I’m all for strong female characters- even though Bizney has been doing those for years and no one seems to notice- but they seem to think they can just make the story whatever, and it’ll all be fine because there’s a scene where a young princess does something extreme. Okay then. Like, this one I just watched with my niece that was all about coconuts, and a girl who goes on a voyage to return a sacred coconut to an island before the world is hit with a great coconut famine. Also, there was a talking chicken.

I wouldn’t have watched it, but my brother is interested in stuff related to boats and the Melbourne outboard motor servicing industry. All that water related stuff is interesting. My niece visited him at work one time and now she’s obsessed with boats and the sea and beaches. At least there are a few of THOSE around the place, although not so much where my brother lives. She keeps saying that one day she wants to build a boat and sail away to have an adventure, which is probably fine for a six-year-old. I think I was about the same age when I wanted to invent a machine that turned my greatest enemies into teddy bears, and I was deadly serious about it. I’m guessing if this lasts, it’ll develop into a healthy love for fishing and boat-related things. Although judging from how absolutely nuts she is right now, there’s a slight chance that she’ll grow up and sail away to start a coconut farm in the Indonesian sea. I don’t want to say that in front of her, because these movies are giving her enough weird ideas, but really at this point it’s fifty-fifty. My money is on her growing up crazy. Or, maybe, she’ll grow up and follow her Dad’s footsteps and service anchor winches in Melbourne, and all that stuff. But no one actually does that any more. Now THAT would be totally crazy.

I’ve Inherited a Puzzle

It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours for me and my family. Until yesterday morning, I didn’t know anything about the process of obtaining letters of administration in Melbourne. Well… I can say unequivocally that now I do. At least, I think I’ve got the ball rolling. From what I understand, it could be several months before this thing is officially granted.

Backing up to the beginning of the story: my great aunt passed away peacefully in her sleep the other day, and it turned out she hadn’t left a will. My mum cottoned to this pretty quickly, but was too busy being emotionally available for her cousins to do much about it. That has left me to try to unravel the mystery of what happens next.

I’m lucky to live in the age of the internet, I’ll tell you that much. While waiting at the airport to fly down from Sydney, I was able to learn about what happens when a valid will can’t be found. Apparently, a deceased person’s estate can be administered by their next of kin if the appropriate legal approval is sought.

According to mum, this is something that needs to happen swiftly if her cousins are to get a share in my great aunt’s fortune, which I’m told is kinda massive. (I’m not sure how I didn’t know this, but it turns out she owned the rights to some well-known pieces of music, which she’d bought for peanuts in the 1960s.)

You see, my great aunt had a number of long-term boyfriends – a surprising number, given her very advanced age. Mum claims that they all know each other, and will be forming an alliance to get in on the inheritance action. None of them are my great aunt’s next of kin, though, and her daughters are still alive and well. So, from what I’ve read, I don’t see what legs the boyfriend brigade really has to stand on.

If she’d just taken the time to make a legal will with a lawyer, Melbourne might have been a relaxing holiday destination for me this weekend. But here I am running around trying to find a lawyer for my stressed-out relatives. Good times!

Home Buying, Automated

Sometimes things just work out perfectly, and this…this is one of those times. I’ve been interested in automation since, like, before I could even talk. Maybe it’s just being a part of my generation or whatever, but all of the toys my parents gave me were designed to keep a child occupied while the parents put their feet up. I had a phone with over 6000 unique phrases and animal noises, depending on which order in which you pressed the keys. Not sure I ever heard the same phrase twice.

And now I’m grown up a bit and everything is tablets, phones, watches that tell you when you’ve got a message, and whole jobs have been phased out in between now and then. So now that I’m in a first-year robotics course and they’re asking me to do a project on ‘automation’…well, this is my jam. I’m doing the entire thing on Lawrence Corp, since they seem dead-set on automating everything. Their latest project is an algorithm that finds people the perfect home for their budget, demographics, job, children, likes and dislikes. Apparently it’s going to be the first proper robotic property advocate based in Melbourne, because it’s inside a machine that people can talk to. Much like a real buyers advocate.

Personally, I’m not sure about that. I think the entire reason you go to a property advocate- or anyone in the industry, for that matter- is because you want a human touch. If I’m looking for a home and I don’t want any help, there are already a ton of search engines I can turn to, easy as that. But I don’t want to have to deal with all that paperwork by myself, and I currently do not trust a machine to do it for me. And, like, buyers advocates across Melbourne are there expressly FOR the human touch. They find you places and let you know if they’re suitable, and you trust them because it’s from a human person.

So basically, Lawrence Corp is giving me fuel for this entire assignment. I’ll take it.

Scaffolding, Like a Dragon or Mantis Shrimp

Man, it sure is great living in a place where so many cultures meet and get along so well. Mostly. It’s also pretty awesome being a part of a mixed family, because we get almost double the amount of holidays and celebrations. So my Mum is second-generation Chinese, so not only do we get all the Australian celebrations, but we get Chinese New Year and all the good stuff that comes with it. And then Dad is Canadian, so…well, that’s a weird fusion, to be honest. Canada has their own version of the Zodiac, with different animals and all in a different order. So according to Mum, I was born in the year of the dragon, but Dad always corrects her and says that I’m actually in the year of the mantis shrimp.

So I do construction for a living, right? Mostly setting up worksites, putting up mobile scaffolding, that sort of thing. Whenever Mum and Dad bring up the whole zodiac thing (usually for fun), Mum always says the fact that I work in high places, platforms and scaffolding etc. is because I have the spirit of the dragon and they’re supposed to be heavenly beings. But then Dad says it’s because the mantis shrimp is aggressive and strong, which is why I went into construction and not…I don’t know. Teaching. Needlework. Not sure about that, because some of the toughest people I know are teachers, but on the other hand, you’re not going to be a good teacher if you’re constantly punching your students in the face like a mantis shrimp does.

Truth is, modern construction workers didn’t exist at the time of whoever made up the whole zodiac system, so it’s pretty open to interpretation. My sister is the year of the snake (flexibility) in the Chinese system, but the armadillo in Albajeria (rigid inflexibility). How does THAT work?

Truth is, they mean when people want them to mean. I set up aluminium work platforms because there happened to be a job opening and I like to be outside. It’s probably not because I, following my heavenly dragon instincts, or my mantis shrimp desire to deal with heavy manual labour to temper my aggression. But it makes for some interesting arguments.

This Crazy Tree Has Got To Go

I’ve got a situation that really grinds my stump. You see, my backyard has been ruined. I was planning on moving back into my investment property after thirty years of renting it out, and now I can’t, because a couple of overgrown trees have ruined everything. Because I need to allow time to get the trees removed, Ashwood will not be my home for awhile longer. I had been so excited to move in, but have always relied on the renters to pay off my loan until now. I thought, enough. It’s my turn to move into that stunning house. I had great plans for all the gatherings I could have in that backyard, but now I have to cancel all of my mental plans.

You have to be so careful with renters. If they are not letting their pets do their business all over the carpet or washing the Italian floor tiles with bleach, they are letting trees wreak havoc on the backyard. The formerly perfectly landscaped yard has been completely ruined by tree roots. The tenants did not tell me anything was wrong. They just let the trees grow wild. I would not be surprised if the root system had infiltrated the whole street. Eventually they asked if they could get the trees chopped down. I gladly acquiesced to this request, but now the yard is left with huge and unsightly tree stumps that they did not tell me about. I have no idea how the trees grew that big. When I planted them thirty years ago they were weedy little things. Now stump grinding is my only choice to remove them without ripping up the entire yard. It is cheaper as well, which is a nice bonus but I would pay any amount to have my yard back.

I have tried to organise for a company to come and take care of the tree stump grinding. Melbourne city council will have to be contacted of course, I hope they don’t make a fuss. It would be so much easier if I could be there to get everything organised, but there is no way I am living in a house with that monstrosity of a backyard until it is fixed.

The Darker Side of Badminton

Badminton is dangerous, as it turns out. But seriously, I got into this thinking it would be a nice, soft sport for the light-hearted. It just doesn’t look aggressive, you know? You’re hitting a funny little shuttle thing, and no matter how hard you smack it, it still flies through the air at its own, leisurely pace. The people who play badminton? They are not like that. They are not at ALL like that.

People who play badminton can be…mean. Some of them, anyway. I should know, because one of them put me in the hospital. He aggressively dived for a shot and basically stabbed me with his racket, cracking one of my ribs. So we had to find a place in Melbourne for oxygen therapy, because it’s sort of like two birds with one stone. Three, if you include my hayfever. The broken rib makes it difficult to breathe without pain, but here in the hyperbaric chamber it’s a lot easier. Plus, it apparently helps the healing process, and I’ll take whatever I can get.

Oxygen therapy isn’t where I thought I’d be ending up after a particularly dire game of badminton, so I guess I called that one a bit wrong. Thing is, I’ve tried a lot more than this. Cricket was just too much standing around in the sun. Football is a lot of tackling…which is fine, but not for me. I even spent three months doing Kendo, during which I didn’t sustain a single injury. That’s a lot of getting hit, I’ll have you know. I only quit that one because it was too heavy on the ancient Japanese mythology side and not so heavy on the actual practical stuff.

After all that, it’s BADMINTON that does me in and sends me to a hyperbaric chamber. Melbourne just seems to be a hostile place to play sport, perhaps. But they already have the arts, so you’d think they’d tone it down. Nope. Not in Melbourne.

-A.J.

Christmas inspired backyard renovations for local community

A local community has gotten into the “Christmas in July” mentality, with more than 12 homes around the neighbourhood of northern Carlton being transformed into “rainy wonderlands” for the upcoming Christmas in July festivities. The festivities, which are set to occur towards the end of the months “should be all the better” thanks to a slew of recent landscaping completed by North Melbourne gardeners that was done in accordance with the mission statement.

“Come the 25th of this month, you are going to see such merry that you’ll be blown away,” promises organiser Tim Hadley. “The mission statement is meant to be a way to set in place mandatory guidelines that the community can follow to ensure they have the best time possible, and meet the landscaping guidelines that were set out to maximise the jolly this year.”

“This couldn’t be better timing for the community at large,” stated local community member Ned Stately. “There were a large number of houses whose backyards, and front yards, were in terrible states, and having a mandatory-fun Christmas in July event will kick everyone into gear.”

Thanks to the award winning garden landscaping the event is set to draw huge crowds, including lost tourists and senior citizens. “It’ll be the biggest crowd we’ve ever had,” stated Hadley.

“Bigger than the time that bus load of airport transfers got stuck on some lights and had to stay for a few hours, and it’s all thanks to the landscaping.”

The garden landscaping projects have varied in style, “but never in quality” according to Hadley. “We ensure to call up the best for landscaping in town. Of particular note is the special attention paid to the bluestone pavers, Melbourne residents can’t get enough of them.”

The event is giving away free mistletoe and candy canes to all attendees over the weekend. Entry is by gold coin donation with proceeds going to the local lost dogs shelter.

Top-Grade Special Effects, Clearly

Movie making takes so much…stuff. You need money, people to do all the jobs (of which there are many) and after all that, you need to let people know about it. How do people even get established in this field to begin with? I’m looking at the viability of getting involved in the industry, and it seems like less of an uphill battle and more of a vertical climb. With no handholds, or equipment. If I had loads of money it would be different, but it definitely is not.

People used to make do back in the day, right? Forty years ago they would’ve just taken a video camera of some sort to a pest control person in Sorrento or wherever and just asked if they could film a bit of their work. Just…stuck the camera right in the dirt, where all the ants are going about their business. Maybe get an idea of if they’re termites or regular worker ants going about their day finding food.

Then those would be the base special effects for ‘Attack of the Fifty Foot Killer Ants’. People wouldn’t mind, because they didn’t live in a world full of special effects and lifelike CG. They’d be appropriately terrified because it was happening on the screen and accompanied by people overacting. We’re spoiled in this modern world, but still, it’s made the process a lot harder than it has to be.

Maybe I can do the same thing, find myself a pest control expert…and then pass it off as retro? People love that sort of thing nowadays. Silent films are back on the rise, and practical effects are SO in. I could find a pest control person in local Dandenong…and they might understand that my movie is actually pretty much aligned with their job. Product placement, basically.

The Energy Storage of the Future

Here we are, in September. It sure is interesting how time continues to flow in a linear fashion, creating the same progression of year, every year, forever. But then, the only reason we call it September is because we as humans came up with that concept. We could’ve had six months in a year that were double the length. As if February wasn’t already complicated enough.

Maybe in the distant future, it will be. I’ve been looking into future technology, and the good thing about actual, REAL sci-fi is that there’s actually some scientific baking behind a lot of the ideas. Here on Earth in 2017, we’re only just getting into commercial energy storage and monitoring on an industrial scale. I wouldn’t call the technology primitive- we’ve had solar batteries and power plants for quite a while- but we’re still limited by only living on a single planet, and only having access to a single solar system.  Just imagine how much energy storage we’re going to need when we’re jetting around the galaxy, building skyscrapers to the moon and terraforming planets left right and centre. The energy need will be massive, which is why people have theorised Dyson Spheres. They wrap around a star and essentially store its energy for other uses. When you think how much energy we use right NOW, harnessing the power of a star could be on the cards in some way.

Baby steps, I know. For now it’s great to see more people going for energy efficient solutions like LED lighting and solar panels. I am excited to see where it’s all headed though. Unfortunately I can’t disturb the linear flow of time and catapult myself into the future…unless I COULD. But the energy required for such a feat is immense. All of Melbourne commercial energy storage, or indeed the storage of the entire world, may not be enough. So…the slow path it is?