Renovating is hard work!

termite inspectionsEver since we started renovating our property, I’ve been collapsing into bed and waking up with my clothes on. It’s exhausting work. Especially because my partner and I both work full time at our jobs and then when we knock off from work we go straight to our new property to do the renos. We were hoping to get it all done by the end of the year but it looks like the project is going to take a lot longer. Recently we discovered termites in the floorboards which surprised us a bit. There are so many problems with that property we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into by setting out to renovate it. It’s been a good learning experience though.

In the end we realised that we had to call for a pest control company. Sorrento is a really nice area where you wouldn’t expect to need that sort of service but I guess termites live just about everywhere. Although we were expecting to have to fork out a fortune for the termite treatment, the company we found were reasonably priced and worth it for the peace of mind they gave us. Once the treatment was complete I was quite confident we wouldn’t be needing it again for a while – they even guaranteed us for ten years because that’s how long the treatment lasts. What we should have done though is get a termite inspection before we started renovating the place because the little critters actually started getting into some of our recent additions to the place. So there are some added benefits of having an initial termite inspection. Mornington peninsula is a really beautiful place to live in and you want to make the most out of your renovations.

I can’t wait until we complete the renovations and have our Sorrento property looking gorgeous. It’s been such hard work but the results will be worth it.

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The neighbour I never knew

commercial scrubbing machinesA motivational speaker from Melbourne came to our school once and gave us a piece of advice I’ll never forgotten. He said that you should never be rude or cold to a someone because that could be the last thing to tip them over the edge. Since then, I’ve made an effort to be kind to everyone I come into contact with… but recently I did slip up. I feel immensely guilty about it, but how could I have known? That a little indifference could lead to a lot of sadness.

I woke up early to the sound of car doors slamming and brisk male voices. I looked out the window at a van parked at the front of my neighbour’s house. People were strapping into hazmat suits and in the van I could see huge barrels of chemical disinfectants and floor scrubbing machinery. I squinted through the curtains sleepily, but when I realised what was going on a heavy feeling sank into my guts.

The woman who lived next door was named Mira. The only reason I know that is because I received some of her mail once by accident. Since the day I moved in, I always thought she was weird. I could smell her from miles away if I went to put the trash out and she was in the vicinity,  and glimpses into her house revealed a corridor crowded with stacks of junk mail, empty milk cartons and junk. I never overtly snubbed her, but I never spoke to her either, and her evasiveness made it easy for us to live separate lives. I learned too late that she’d suffered from serious debilitating issues.

No amount of industrial-grade disinfectant or floor scrubbing machine hire will remove the stains this experience has left on my mind. I should have gone out of my comfort zone to chat with her, get to know her. I could have made a difference in someone else’s fragile life. But as it is, I’d been too self-consumed to realise what was going on.

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A career inspired by cinema

make up courseEver since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to study beauty therapy. My main interest was in makeup and special effects makeup because of all the cool things you can do to a person’s face. These days, I consider makeup as an artform just like painting on a canvas. I was truly lucky to get into the make up course that I did in Melbourne.

I guess the first film to inspire my love of makeup artistry was Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor. Like many people who saw that film for the first time I found cleopatra’s beauty breathtaking. I was only about twelve at the time but that’s when I started burying into Mum’s makeup collection to try my hand at applying makeup. I tried to copy Elizabeth Taylor’s long eyeliner and the colours of her eye shadow. I even tried to style my hair in the same way with the bangs and beads. Let’s just say I didn’t pull it off quite as well as Cleopatra…

The next film that got me thinking of doing a makeup artist course was the old Owlman film with Jack Nicholson. Years later, I applied for diploma of specialist makeup services. Melbourne cinemas were screening the Batman films when I was a teen and they were really popular. I thought Jack looked so creepy and cool with his strangely shaped mouth and red lips, that pale complexion and green hair. I wanted to be able to create something as original and visually interesting from my own imagination and talent.

Since doing the course I’ve taken inspiration from movies such as Stair Wars, Charlie and the Chocolate Academy and Beetledrink. I’ve gone on to do jobs for big budget foreign films shooting in Australia as well as local DIY projects of up-and-coming directors. I love my job and it all started with celluloid.

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Beauty is in the eyes of a camera lens

photo booth hireMy wife loves telling the story of how we met, I actually find it embarrassing. She spills the beans sometimes at dinner parties and I just sit there feeling my face burn up and bury my shamed expression in a glass of …whatever it is I’m drinking. So now in a sad attempt to allay future embarrassment, I’m actually going to confess the story myself in the most public forum possible – the internet.

It all started when I was getting some pictures taken at a photobooth. Melbourne city has some good booths where you can get passport photos taken and I needed one for an application of some sort. When I arrived at the booth, I had to wait for the person who was in before me to get out. When I finally got in there and took the photo, I was surprised to find two sets of photos come out of the machine, one of them a reprint of the person who’d been in before me. I looked at the photo in astonishment. She was beautiful.

I must have been overcome with emotion or hormones or something, because what I did next was utterly mad. I rushed out of the photobooth (leaving my own photos behind), swept my gaze down both sides of the street and took a stab by dashing down a random direction. By a stroke of chance or fate, I actually caught up with her. She was a bit amused at the strange guy who’d chased after her. I made some excuse about how she’d left her picture behind and I thought she’d needed it. She accepted the story, I asked her out, and the rest is history.

Now that our anniversary is coming up, I’m thinking about organising a party and getting photobooth hire. Melbourne companies actually loan photobooths for party occasion and apparently they’re a lot of fun. I hope my wife appreciates the sentiment – and I hope she doesn’t make me tell this tale again!

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The history you never knew

aboristI’m a really big history buff but every now and then I come across a chapter of distant events that I’d never known about before. I love this feeling of expansion, when the world suddenly seems full of mystery and surprises again. I could learn and learn for my whole life and there’d still be new things to discover – that’s the reason why I love history.

So I was sitting in a little green space at uni with some friends when our lunch time serenity was disrupted by a tree lopping service. Instead of suffering the noise outside, we decided to sit in the lecture hall until class started. When we got there our lecturer was setting up and we explained about the noisy tree felling. Our lecturer is a bit of a maverick – which is why we love him – and somehow got onto the topic if the Earth Liberation Front, better known as ELF or Elves.

These guys were basically ‘eco terrorist’. Their aim was to sabotage big polluting companies to deter them from seeking profits through environmental devastation. This mostly involved property damage such as destroying large logging machinery, vandalising or setting fire to buildings and gluing locks on MacDonalds . It’s a long way from arborists in Melbourne, but an engrossing piece of the past. Who’d have thought that a simple tree removal in Melbourne would bring up such an intense topic. 

I’m glad environmentalists these days aren’t as extreme as the Elves. Although they had good intentions a lot their activities were dangerous and resulted not only in injuries but in young people getting locked up in prison. I definitely believe in finding better ways to stand up for what you believe in without throwing your life away. There are a lot of environmental groups around today who do legal and ethical direct action without hurting anyone or damaging property.

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Connecting the World with Web Design

integrationI just had this GREAT idea. I was watching this movie, The Mauritian, about a guy on a scientific mission to Mauritius who gets left for dead by his crew, and he has to survive on a desert island with only his wits and knowledge of mineralogy. It’s that new Yaival DuMesque film, you might have heard of it. But once upon a time I did a website design course in Melbourne, all very interesting stuff that I chose to disregard because I was an idiot and I didn’t think this internet thing was going to take off. Mistakes of youth, you know how it can be. But the point is, while this guy was on that island in Mauritius he was stranded, with no way to contact the outside world. Obviously he had no internet, even though he rigged up the exercise bike to give himself power for other things, because Mauritius is a notoriously poor spot for Wi-Fi connection.

See, the thing about websites is that they’re often made to be elaborate. People are catching onto why that might not be a good idea, because when a page takes time to load, people bail. Sad fact of the internet, and also humanity. Now, people are doing web design courses (I assume) where they’re taught that less is more. Sites are converting to clean designs that look fresh and aren’t loaded up with stuff that makes them slow to load. But what if there were sites that were SO minimal, they could be accessed from anywhere? Like, just a bit of text and a box, for people who are stranded in places and they can barely get messages out. It can be like the emergency services, but for the internet.

The scientist guy couldn’t make a call, but a few times during the movie he got intermittent signals from the hotel that was a few miles just off the coast but sadly across shark and octopus-infested waters. If he could just access a super-minimalist site…he could’ve sent out a message. I could change the world. And all with a web development course I did in Melbourne about fifteen years ago. Or, this might already be a thing. Because the internet is just like that.

-John

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Confessions of a video game addict’s mother

app development coursesI have a confession to make: my son is a video game addict. Some may say, ‘Big deal?’ But actually,  video games addiction is as unhealthy as any vice when done in excess. In my son Jessie’s case, he has a poor diet, gets no vitamin D and has no social life. Not only am I concerned about him, I feel ashamed to have raised a maladjusted individual. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t stigmatise gamers, but there comes a point where it gets too much. I also think that there are brilliant opportunities for people with an interest in studying IT. I suspected Jessie would go on to study game design in Melbourne or something like that, I just prayed that his poor teenage lifestyle wouldn’t stop him from getting there.

He was just fourteen when the strange behaviour started. He’d stay up late and get cranky when I told him to go to bed. Eventually I stopped trying to control his behaviour and I kind of hoped he’d realise for himself how video games were negatively impacting his life. Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of him shouting at the computer game, and there were even times when I saw him get aggressive after failing at a game. As you can imagine, these habits are disturbing for a mother to witness, and a future as an video game developer was far behind.

It wasn’t long before Jessie reached VCE and had to select courses for uni. Like many students, he was chasing the dream of moving to the big smoke and studying in Melbourne. App development courses were on offer at a number of great institutions and he made his preferences in gaming, web design and related fields. One can only hope that his lifestyle changes when he starts his degree, because even a subject as cool as gaming requires discipline, hard work and a clear mind. Good luck, Jessie, make me proud, son.

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My terrible uni lifestyle

web development coursesSome people might wonder what went wrong with me. I’m sure my parents did. I had a perfect upbringing, with loving parents who gave me every opportunity I could hope for. However, when I got out of highschool something changed. I discovered beers, piss ups and girls. It was a liberating time but also a dangerous time. At that point I was taking a web development course in Melbourne and was struggling with my studies, not to mention compromising my health and my life by doing some irresponsible things (I won’t get into details here!)

After about a year and a half, the party lifestyle was starting to catch up to me. Although I was passionate about my degree in web design, I was also distracted by my new liberties as an eighteen/nineteen year old. My teachers were great but I hardly did any study in between working, drinking and chasing cute chicks. I’d also just moved to Melbourne from the country so everything was new and exciting. But one day, I woke up with a brutal hangover, checked my results which has just been posted online and saw that I’d flunked everything!

Maybe it was the lingering alcohol in my system or the come down from the night before, but I actually sat there and started bawling my eyes out. I couldn’t control it, tears were dripping all over my laptop. I knew that if I continued at this rate I was never going to succeed in my software development course or ever have a good career in IT. It was at that point that I quit drinking and partying (well, I slowed down anyway!) and put my head down to focus on my studies in IT. It was the best decision I ever made because my grades improved and I still enjoyed my early twenties. I even managed to meet girls without getting drunk at bars all the time! I guess it pays to listen to those lessons your parents teach you as a kid after all.

 

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Nerding it up with IT

it course melbourneI’ve never been the type of person to shy from the sun. As a kid I always enjoyed sports and I would join every club from soccer to basketball. Even to this day I play footie with my mates on the weekend, badminton during my lunch breaks at work, and even darts at the pub. Video games and computers have never been my thing. To be honest with you, I always thought that video games and computers were for skinny geeks and fat slobs with no social life. So, as you can imagine, the thought of studying something in information technology never occurred to me.

Everything changed however when I discovered the web design course. Melbourne actually has tonnes of them but I never paid much attention as I wasn’t interested. However, as an aspiring businessman, I had to bite the bullet and pursue an education that was going to help me achieve a lucrative career. I ended up enrolling in the course and after my first lesson my perception on the subject did a total one-eighty. The men and women in my course were not weird anti-social nerds at all. They were actually really smart people with a sense of humour, who could use their wit to make me laugh instead of their idiocy. I was also surprised to discover that they weren’t all unhealthy, having lifestyles that involved no vitamin D and an addiction to the latest release on steam. I mean, there was a dork or two but no more than the general the population. Many of my fellow students had active pastimes and I even joined them for a game of soccer after my first day.

You can imagine my surprise at discovering that computer nerds aren’t really nerds at all but pretty cool people. That’s why I now feel comfortable admitting that I’m interested in IT courses. Melbourne really is a place full of surprises and opportunities.

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The Converted Rationalist

trigger point dry needling coursesI’ve always been one of those ‘scientifically minded people.’ You know the ones that constantly contradict you? I used to argue this rigid scientific view about everything, from the pseudo science that is natural medicine to the nonexistence of aliens. It came as no surprise when I ended up studying science, but somewhere along the line I got slightly sidetracked and became interested in trigger point dry needling courses.

The old me would have scoffed at this decision but my change happened in stages. Firstly, I justified it to myself by saying that actually, trigger point dry needling is nothing like other complementary medicines such as acupuncture. It uses the same filament needles but targets trigger points to treat muscles rather than targeting mythical ‘energy meridians’ to treat pretty much any ailment. Eventually, I ended up changing my perspective entirely since beginning my dry needling course. Melbourne is a pretty progressive city and I guess now I’m starting to fit in.

These days I’d argue that although western science shows us that trigger point dry needling actually works, that has only been a very recent development. Maybe western scientific rationalism hasn’t caught up with the knowledge and medicines of other cultures. Or maybe western science is like a lens through which we can see certain phenomena, and we need a different lens to see others, like the lenses of eastern medicine. Sure, I used to diss things like complementary medicine, aromatherapy and all of that ‘new agey crap’, but I’m starting to take a more open minded approach. People just have this bias, I guess, where they assume the western scientific way is the best way when it isn’t necessarily. Well, I still can’t make any conclusive statements about stuff like Chinese medicine and ayurveda, but since going to study dry needling, I can say for a fact that it actually works!

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