Chaos Around Tax Time, Not My Fault

tax returns MelbourneIt’s not MY fault the office is facing fines and is basically in the toilet. People keep accusing me of being bad with email. Have you ever tried trying to deal with that stuff while you’re keeping an entire family of kookaburras alive in one of your desk drawers? I have a responsibility to nature which I have to divide between that and this job. I can multitask, but there’s a lot of work involved in keeping kookaburras happy. If they start to make noises I could get fired.

Oh, and then there are the business tax returns. Melbourne has really strict rules when it comes to that sort of thing, almost ridiculous. You have to get them in by a certain DATE…how silly is that? Tax returns are the pinnacle of human civilisation; they show how we’ve grown as a people. They shouldn’t be bound by rules and regulations regarding time, because they transcend those limitations.

And don’t even get me started on the rest of the office. The fact that our IT person only speaks German is the tip of the iceberg, as is the fact that Stacey lets her little hellhound run wild. Our CEO recently developed an addiction to yellow tea, which he says improves mental function and bodily health. Nobody can go near his office because the stench is like…well, imagine freshly mown grass left in a pile for about a month, and you’ve got it. I have to hold my breath when I’m dropping off files.

And THEN there’s Bernice, who is just straight up nuts. She keeps sending everyone gifs of pig farms, derails every staff meeting to lecture us on the benefits of the meat industry and asking if we’ve had our protein intake for the day. If you say no, you get a lecture of why the human body needs protein to survive, and she’ll make you one of her specialised protein shakes and watch you drink it. They also taste like pork. And Melbourne’s business accounting practices are a problem? That’s nothing compared to what I deal with every day.

-Susan

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Rewriting my will after divorce

succession planning MelbourneIt’s been a tough few months. My husband and I have been getting a separation and then ultimately a divorce. It was a hard decision to make because we have two teenagers and we realise that they need a loving and supportive family behind them at this stage in their lives. However, we decided that the fighting, tension and lack of love between us would be far more harmful to them than living in two separate homes. Now that the paperwork for the divorce is completed, I have to reconsider my will. Melbourne has some good attorneys to choose from though so I should be okay.

Now that the headaches are coming to an end, the remorse is starting to set in. I’m starting to enter the mourning stage. Bill and I were married for fifteen years and that’s no walk in the park. It feels a little like all the effort we put in, all the hard times we persevered through were for nothing.

My best friend has been an enormous crutch throughout this whole thing. I couldn’t be more grateful for her support. Not only has she been there for me to cry on her shoulder, she’s also helped with all the practical things. She’s very clever and has experience with legal stuff because she’s worked as an assistant to lawyers in the past. She’s the one who suggested a couple of lawyers to me because recently in her company they’ve had to do some succession planning. Melbourne companies, like my friends, sometimes hire lawyer plan the future of leadership within the company. They lawyers that my friend’s company got were particularly good apparently so I’m going to try them.

Bill’s calling me now so I need to go. It’s still hard to hear his voice but we have to work together and sort everything out for the kids. Even though we’re divorces we’re still going ot be part of each other’s lives, there’s no escaping that.  

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Window repairs gone wrong

window frame repairs

I’m a bit of a handyman, and so I like to do things myself. From simple things like changing a lightbulb to more complex things like rewiring the microwave. Yep, you heard me, I fixed the microwave. I am the man of the house after all. The missus is always complaining because she reckons I do a shoddy job of all our home repairs, but she doesn’t know what she’s on about. I do a darn fine job of fixing things around here. This place would be falling apart if it wasn’t for me. Í go to her, ‘If you don’t want me fixing things then you pay for them to get fixed our of your own pocket!’ This she was not too pleased about.

When our windows started falling apart I realised I could do the aluminium window repairs. Melbourne companies probably charge a fortune, I thought, so I’ll just have crack at it myself. How hard could it be, right?

Anyway, I gave it my best go but it didn’t exactly go as well as I’d hoped. It’s totally not my fault though, it’s because the timber house doesn’t support aluminium frames. The missus wouldn’t have a bar of it though, she blamed it all on me. ‘What have you done? Now you’ve made it worse. We have to call the professionals in.’ Ra Ra Ra.

I gave in and called the company to do our timber window repair. In Melbourne, the company I called were very sympathetic. I explained that it wasn’t my fault the window repairs went wrong the first time and they smiled and nodded in understanding. I tried to use this as evidence to show my wife that I’m actually a good repairs man and also in the hope that she would pay for it. I need my money for more important things like men’s mags and beer. Plus I gave it a shot myself so I should get paid too.

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Embarrassing foot care

foot care

You know that TV show about people’s embarrassing medical conditions. Well yeah, welcome to my life. Every time there’s something wrong with me, it’s a thing that I’m so ashamed of even going to the doctors is difficult. Sometimes these are minor conditions that need to be tended to none the less, like when I had warts, but other times they’re quite serious and life threatening like my ingrown toenail. (I know an ingrown toenail doesn’t sound like much but it’s serious because you can get an infection that could poison your bloodstream.) So you see, embarrassing body right over here.

Now I have to brave the shop owners yet again and get some food care products. Cheltenham podiatrists probably see this sort of thing every day, but somehow that thought doesn’t alleviate the shame. It’s a bit like feeling as though you shouldn’t be there or you wish you weren’t there, and shame about having to be in such an embarrassing predicament. Forget about telling your friends or loved ones for moral support. I can’t even believe that I have a girlfriend at all. Some of the embarrassing conditions I’ve had to try to hide from her include an enlarged belly button and hyper sweaty feet. I guess she really loves me.

As it turns out, my condition is getting worse and worse and now I have to worry about fungal nail infection treatments around Cheltenham. I actually feel more sorry for the podiatrist who’s going to have to deal with my foot condition. I know that these things are like bread and butter to podiatry professionals, but still, surely they must get grossed out on a regular basis. I have a friend who’s a nurse and he reckons he used to get disgusted by things but now he’s inured to it all. I still can’t help but feel a little self conscious. 

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Caring for my hubby with dry needling

NZ dry needling

My poor hubby has been suffering chronic pain since his motorbike accident. He was okay mentally but then started developing dementia too. Needless to say, he needs around-the-clock care.  I’m on government payments myself because I have to care for him full time.

The worst thing for him is his back and muscular pain. It makes him really tired and irritable, as you can imagine, it totally sucks. I used to give him massages but it got to the point where the messages weren’t helping but actually making the problems worse. We really can’t afford a physiotherapist or any fancy specialist doctors – they are sooooo expensive. So that’s why I’m not looking into dry needling courses, NZ and across Australia. We actually live between the two countries so I can decide where I want to do the course.

If you haven’t heard of trigger point dry needling, it’s this technique that is used to relieve muscle pain and myofascial pain. I figure that if I do the course than I can treat my own husband without having to pay for expensive therapy and all of that. Dry needling is becoming more and more recognised as a treatment for these kinds of conditions. A lot of conventional medical practitioners like physiotherapists and orthopaedic surgeons are now integrating the treatment into their practice.

I’m thinking that this dry needling course in Adelaide might be the way to go because we’ll be spending the next couple of years at my husband’s parents house just outside of Adelaide. IT’s a beautiful city but there isn’t much to do and we like to alternate between there and New Zealand which is where I’m from. I’m really looking forward to the course and I hope I can relieve some of my hubby’s pain.

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Re-enacting horror movies during fridge repairs

broken washing machines

When my sister and I were kids we got up to a lot of mischief. We’d climb up onto the roof and light our dad’s underwear on fire, and when they brought Nanna over to babysit, we’d swap her heart medication for Pop’s.

The trouble didn’t let up even well into our teens and early twenties. Our dad owned a reception hall and had a catering service based there as well. This place was like a wonderland for us as kids, and even returning in our later years was an adventure. The place had an industrial sized kitchen with commercial refrigeration and all the rest. One day, the freezer started leaking and we overheard Dad making a call to get a Sydney fridge repair. We glanced over at each other and smiled slyly, later sneaking into the laundry room to conceive of our plot.

Our aim was to give the repairs guy the shock of his life. Dumb, I know, but hilarious too. The commercial fridge at the reception centre looked a lot like the one from The Shinning. We always used to make jokes about it and imitate Jake Nicholson’s voice shouting “Danny Boy!” while chasing after each other and miming axe-wielding gaits. We decided that we’d put on a proper show and re-enact this scene for the fridge repairs guy.

As you can imagine, when Dad called him back a few weeks later for the broken washing machine repairs in the laundry room, the guy was professional about it, but reserved. After what he’d seen at the reception centre, he was clearly unimpressed — and who can blame him? While he was crouched down with his head buried in the fridge, spanner in hand, we dimmed the lights. He popped his head out curiously and then resumed work, only to jump to his feet in fridge when we ran in there, my sister dressed as Danny and I as the blood-thirsty killer. You should have seen the look on his face!

 

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Custom made is better made

work platforms

As a builder, I know exactly what it’s like to know what you want. When I’m getting the designs for people’s houses, a lot of the time they’re very fastidious about what they want. It’s easy to make a mistake by assuming something is generally wanted when in fact everyone has their own quirks and whatnot. For example you may assume that someone wants the space under their front porch filled or boarded up, but no, I made this fatal assumption once which nearly cost me that gig. Anyway, back to the point, le like their houses custom made and I like my work tools custom made, especially work platforms. Around Melbourne, you get a few companies producing ladders and adjustable or portable planks and trestles for all types of building and construction work. Some companies are better than others. One claimed that they customise your platforms but then they didn’t listen to my specifications carefully and botched the job.

Aluminium work platforms, when made correctly can make or break the job. Seriously, you can do an exceptionally accurate job with the right folding platforms, and I also love the way you can pack them into the back of the truck because if you don’t pack up your equipment it can get nicked.

Moral of the story is that everything is better when it’s tailored to your needs. Other stuff that is better when you have it done your way include burgers and suit. With burgers, basically  you want the lot in there except for pineapple but including egg, maybe some beetroot. With suits, you want them to show off your labourer’s pecs.

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Flowers for All Your Romantic Needs

standard rose

They say romance is dead. Well, I’m not going to judge, because it’s not like I spend most of my time hiding in bushes and observing romantic couples. That’d be so weird! And I definitely don’t hack into phone networks and read texts, or intercept flower deliveries and read the cards, because that’d be even stranger. Yep, just a whole tidal wave of strange, that’s what that is. Nope, I’ve just been participating in nice, normal discussions on forums such as Geddit and Tweeter, and my online friends and I have come to the conclusion that romance is a dying art.

It’s like just don’t know there are standard roses for sale on street corners, and also online, because sometimes I’ve seen (or heard) about guys showing up for dates holding a bunch of pansies or something. Pansies are nice, but not date material, clearly. It doesn’t always have to be roses, but for the important occasions…yeah, it really does have to be roses. They’re the international symbol of love across all the world, and if you can’t dig up your loose change and buy her a beautiful, single rose, you don’t deserve a fulfilling romance. FACT. Or it could be the girl giving the guy a rose- times have changed, roles can flip flop a bit, and it’s really just an exchange of flowers. Maybe they can go dancing and he can put the rose in his teeth while they tango, so it’s functional. And did you know, I once saw a guy bringing a girl daffodils. What an amateur!! They’re supposed to be for the kitchen table. Might as well have just pelted her with daffodil flower bulbs, for how romantic that was. Even a cutting of the bush I was hiding in at the time would’ve made for a better gift.

Not that I do that. I’m normal.

-Alciel

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Nursing Badges and Silversmithing

name badges

My grandfather used to make a living as a silversmith. It’s not exactly a career I plan on following because…there’s no money in it nowadays, basically. But I’d still love to pursue it, because it sounds like an interesting hobby, and if there’s one thing that I find interesting it’s going against the grain. I even tried my hand at it a few weeks ago, when I took a tour of Grandpa’s old workshop. The guy working there now (he does something for some museum) let me work the machine for a small project, so I thought I’d make my sister a name badge! It’s only three letters, and I thought it’s help her stand out. Turns out nurse name badges have pretty strict limitations and rules, but she said she’d keep in on her desk, which is okay. Too bad my parents had to go and give me a really difficult name, otherwise I’d have just made one for myself, but whatever. I was HOPING that the silversmith guy would recognise me as a promising pupil and take me on as his apprentice, full-time, with holidays and superannuations benefits. I guess money must be tight around the museum business, or maybe he just likes working alone. It’s cool, I guess.

I’ve seen those nurse name badges, though, because Mia always stresses out whenever she puts it in the wash or loses it in the laundry basket. I mean, wow…those patients she treats must really be hot on knowing your name. I guess when you’re giving them sponge baths and…other stuff, you really shouldn’t be an anonymous stranger. It all sound so intimate. But I guess that’s what name badges are for in the first place: bringing us all together, and making us all a little bit more human.

I mean, it would’ve been a little bit more ‘human’ to take me on as an apprentice, especially after I did an amazing job making that silver magnetic name badge. The institutions of nursing and silversmithing just don’t appreciate my skill, clearly.

-Alexandria

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Advocates all round

buyers advocate

Have you ever heard of the Baader-Meinhof syndrome? It’s where you’ve never heard of something before but once you learn about it you see it everywhere. That’s what happened to me when I learned about a buyers advocate. Melbourne has tonnes of these companies that assist in property purchasing but I just never knew they existed. I mean, if people selling their properties naturally get advocates all the time through real estate agents, then buyer’s advocates should be more common. It’s like the sellers get all the help and get the best deals but the buyers get nothing at all.

Property advocates simply don’t get enough press. They should have big billboard ads like real estate agents do, and get highlighted more in property magazines. The first time I used one made a really huge difference. I never would have got such a good price on my dream home if it wasn’t for the buyers agent in Melbourne. The lady was not only a pleasure to deal with, amiable and well-prepared, but she also tailored her services to our specific needs. In other words, she didn’t just give us a list of auctions that were going on in our suburb. Instead, she presented us with the analytics, why the suburb we were looking at was a good choice and why it wasn’t, which houses we were looking at would depreciate and which would be good investments.

Once we finally bought a house, it wasn’t even through traditional means. This is probably the best thing about a buyer’s agent. Instead of getting the place for us through an auction or a place advertised at a real estate agency, she got it through a private sale because she had the right connections. It was really amazing. It was like a whole underworld of property sales, kind of like the underworld of politicians’’ wealth.

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