An unexpected win

Well, I don’t know exactly how this has happened, but I’ve managed to win a prize. No, don’t worry. It’s not a scam. I checked that quite thoroughly, I would not enjoy being taken in by someone’s attempt to wheedle my credit card information out of me. This is real. A friend or family member or perhaps even my university faculty or something has entered a competition to attend a conference in a to be decided venue in Victoria and I have won. Good on me.

It’s not that I mind, particularly, going to a conference. Don’t think that because it simply isn’t true. Rather, it wasn’t something I had originally factored into my outline of the next month, and I generally resent having to change my schedule around unforeseen events. At the same time, however, this kind of opportunity makes for a wonderful experience. I’ve managed a quick glance at the list of speakers, and several are extremely inspirational. In may ways, it would be an honour to get to hear them speak. But at the same time, there are still so many question marks around the conference in general.

Firstly, as the location is, as yet, still undecided, the question of time looms over the event. How long will it go for? I’ve seen the shortlist for possible conference venues and they’re all in regional Victoria, so obviously there will be some level of travel associated with it. How long will it take to get there? What costs are associated with the trip in its entirety? Who else will be on the trip? Perhaps, if I knew exactly who would entered me in the competition, it would be easier to ascertain who my peers would be, but as it stands, it could be for anyone. It’s even unclear what the subject matter is.

In theory, such an opportunity of this is the chance of a lifetime, but the reality is I instinctively recoil from something I know so little about. I may just have to walk away from this one.

A More Affable Office

If you really take a step back and look at what’s going on in this office, you’d probably get confused really quickly. It’s hard to keep up, because on one hand you’ve got the boss’ PA who basically runs the place behind his back and is trying to turn us all into drones, and then there’s Jared the fun captain (or something) who is actually doing a good job at the exact opposite. He’s such a nice guy, I don’t think he realises how much Sandrine is constantly giving him daggers from across the office. I have to hand it to him; the place WAS dull before he got here, if really efficient. Now we all have our magnetic name badges, special meetings and then there’s that wall where we all write down something we’re striving for and the office does their best to make it happen, once per month.

The name badges were pretty great, though. Even I didn’t notice that was something missing, and here I was toiling outside with landscaping and all that. Nope, we just needed to know each other’s names. I guess I really fall short a little bit when it comes to really getting down to personal relationships, because I feel like it’s something I should’ve seen a bit sooner. If I’m going to be a leader one day…well, I know I’m going to be a leader one day. You can’t just be barking orders and ordering tactical strikes; it’s all in the smallest little details that keep morale going in the face of overwhelming odds.

Sorry, what was I saying? Anyway, yeah, custom name badges. I made mine a kind of gold-yellow, since I feel like I can work with that colour. It’s nice how we all have something that unites us, even if it’s just that little bit different. Jason might not be the fun captain the office expected, but he sure is the one it needed. Now I just have to keep a lookout, because by the looks of things, Sandrine is way too close to snapping and flying across the desk, talons bared. That woman, seriously…

-Mack

My sisters exhibitionistic ice skating

kids party venuesMy sister has always been the biggest exhibitionist. When we were kids she always outshone me with her flailing antics and histrionics. She was always the centre of attention. While I was the quiet talented ‘silent-achiever’ she was making a big hoo-ha about every minor accomplishment. And you know when people do this, sadly, they’re rather successful. Basically, it’s all style no substance.

Now that she has kids, she still has to be the centre of attention, from parent-teacher interviews to kids party venues. I mean, she booked an ice skating rink in Melbourne for her daughter’s birthday and then stole the whole show. She was trying to act like a figure skater which obviously looked totally idiotic. But she was loving it. She thought she the hottest thing splaying those legs into the air, twirling around like an epileptic clown ballerina. In the meantime, her daughter stood by looking ashamed, embarrassed to admit that was her mother.

Since that day, she really grew a big head. Now she wants to return to the ice skating rink to book function rooms. Melbourne has some a couple of ice skating rinks around Docklands area which is not too far from her work. She told her boss that it would be a really good way to get the team to bond through some team-building activities, and of course he lapped it up, little realising she had ulterior motives. All she really wants to do is get back into those skates and imagine she’s the black swan again.

I hope she gets some lessons or something. If she’s going to persist in subjecting people to her exhibitionism and hideous displays of self-aggrandizement,the least she could do is a bit of training. You never know, he may have a knack
for these things. Meanwhile, my parents still don’t know that I exist since she invited them to watch her skate and they totally forgot about the restaurant I’d booked for them to meet my new girlfriend. Such is life.

Sadly skilled at signwriting

signwritersWhen I was in high school I was damn good at art. I had good perspective and could replicate images with only the use of my eyes and a pencil. I also had the creative impulse to create weird and wonderful drawings and paintings from the imagination, so it wasn’t just realism. These early talents have haunted me to this day as I frequently get asked for all sorts of arts and crafts favours. I mean, I’ll meet someone at a party who needs a designer for their business logo and then my friend will blurt out that I’m really good at art. Or I’ll get a call from someone I haven’t seen in fifteen years asking me if I can provide some art for their living room. It’s pretty ridiculous.

People just don’t understand the difference between art and graphic design and even other things which are totally different like signwriting. My cousin recently called me about her business saying that she remembered how good I was at drawing as a teenager and would I please help her create some signage for her business. I was like, “Come on, woman! Can’t you call the signwriters in Melbourne! I don’t know the first thing about making signs.”

Signwriting, like art, is a whole thing in and of itself. There are all different types of signs from banners to office signs and window frosting. This is not a task that an amateur can do! Even though I’d probably be really good at it and pick it up straight away, because unfortunately I’m cursed with the skill of being good at everything – even so, I have a life to live, people, and I want some space.

What my cousin wanted specifically was a vinyl wrap. Melbourne businesses use decals for their cars in order to attract attention to the business. I have her a recommendation for a signwriter and sent her on her way.

Tech Students Deserve Respect

protestHad to deal with a minor protest today. They were actually blocking my way to work, and while on a motorbike I can usually just dodge around people, they were protesting just a few blocks down from our office. That means that OTHER people would be late, and that would lead to a loss of productivity, and so you can see why I had to put a stop to things.

I’m still a bit unsure what it was about, mostly because they themselves didn’t need to know. One guy was holding a sign that said ‘Melbourne App Design Courses Deserve Respect!’ but someone else was holding another sign that read ‘Down With App Design!’

So they don’t really seem like they’d go together. Eventually I managed to work out that the building was a tech start-up that had been developing custom apps, but they’d been accused of hacking into the university database and stealing prototype apps that students had submitted for assignments. The police had dismissed the case, but a lot of the students were still angry that their work was being commercialised. Whether or not any of it was true was another matter entirely, but I had to clear the blockage. So I did, with a bit of a rousing speech that came out of nowhere…I just have the right words to say sometimes, I guess. Still, I kept thinking about the case for the rest of the day. Apparently there were also web and software design templates stolen. I looked into the start-up and they seemed pretty clean. But then I looked into the website set up by the students, and it all looked a bit shady.

I’m no internet justice warrior person, but no student should have their future stolen away and used for profit. So I might have…ah, aroused a bit of affirmative action on some select forums. Pretty soon, all the best  web development course students from across the world were looking into the case and signing a petition. And just like that, the start-up’s website vanished and was replaced by something that didn’t look quite as good…but at least they made it themselves.

-Mack

Dreams of Being Captain

cruiserI used to own a boat, back when I was…busier. It was just a rickety thing, enough for getting out in the ocean and that’s about where the usefulness ended. Often I had to fight just to make it back to dry land, but…it was mine. And that was okay, for the time. Then I started working at the docks, and I was seeing a whole load of boats bigger than mine. I’d just moved to Melbourne and marine stainless steel fabrication was all around me, while on the other side of the docks some people were inserting the outer plates into a massive cruise ship. Suddenly my little dinghy didn’t seem like much at all. I was also very suddenly well into the idea of getting my own ship. As in, being the captain.

Bit of a silly dream, but I did learn to love the sea after a bit, and I sort of felt like I could actually achieve something like this. Anyway, I became the boss of the place I was working pretty quickly. I think the old boss had to leave and they thought I seemed like I knew what I was doing…anyway, it was no big deal. I began to learn about how ships are made, because in that industry you just can’t help it while on the job. I talked to sea captains, skippers, sailors, steel fabricators and anyone I could. I asked about the prime types of wood and/or steel for a bow rail, the best types of metal for propellers, even how to hoist a mainsail. While running the business, I was run off my feet…so it took me a bit longer than usual to master sailing a ship-building.

Anyway, I was done in about three weeks, since I did spend a day or two improving the company tax strategy. Could’ve cut it down to two weeks or so, but maybe I slacked off. It doesn’t matter: I was ready to be the captain of my own vessel. Wow, I was stupid when I was young, just getting carried away by thoughts of bow rails and the open sea…and then I never made it in the end. I was kept busy by some other stuff. Important stuff.

-Mack

Doing the job with aluminium platforms

aluminium platformsWhy oh why must I be naturally talented at so many things? Not only am I good at things that I have no need to be good at but I also have this extremely intrusive conscience that impels me to do good for other people. Seriously, I haven’t had any time out for myself in gosh knows how long. I’m too busy getting little kittens out of trees and rescuing old ladies from burning homes. Trust me, I’d rather order in pizza, hire a stripper and spend the evening soaking in the tub with both of them. Alas, this damn innate kindness holds me back.

So the other day I dragged out a couple of my old aluminium platforms in order to do some painting and repairs on my home. Big mistake, I inadvertently exposed my hidden talent for the whole darn neighbourhood to see. Next thing I know I’ve got Jenny across the street and Wilhem from next door begging me to do their painting for them. Jenny reckons she hired some guys to do it for her last year and they botched the job, so she wants it re-done – I reckon she just wants to see me breaking a sweat in my t-shirt with my muscles bulging out. Wilhelm, well, I haven’t worked out his ulterior motives yet.

What could I do, say no? As much as I’d like to do that, as much as I’d like people to stop praising me for how amazing I am at everything, there’s one thing I wouldn’t do and that’s risk the resentment of my peers. I had no choice but to order myself a couple more work platforms and get to it. Thankfully, not only am I dexterous at the art of gable-painting, but I’m also masterfully efficient. They each gave me a prize for my “day’s” labour (from Wilhelm- a cake, from Jenny – a kiss) – little did they know I did the job in a matter of hours, hehe.

Cursed with skills in web development pt 2

It courses

Not long ago, I made the mistake of helping a friend out with his IT homework. Ever since, he’s been calling me up all the time. And I mean, all the time. I finally got the chance, in between all of the amazing things I do, to take a girl out for dinner, and what do you know? He’s texting me all through the date. What is it with people taking Melbourne IT courses?  are all of them nuts?

I told him to back off. I did. I said, ‘Look, mate I’m taking a girl out for dinner and I’d appreciate it if you laid off the calls for just one night.’ He kicked up a big fuss saying he had an web development exam on Monday and that if I were a true friend I’d be there for him. I said, ‘I’ve been tutoring you for your IT course every night! Give me a break, alright?’

So I go to dinner with this girl and I feel my phone buzzing in my pants pocket, trying to ignore it, shifting uncomfortably in my seat. She probably thought I had problems, it’s a miracle that she even invited me back to her place that night. But there I was, about to learn a little bit more about this girl while all I could think about was web development courses in Melbourne and my mate’s imminent exam. Just as I finally pushed these intrusive thoughts out of my head, I hear this rapping on the window.

It was my bozo friend. ‘Mack!’ his shouted, muffled by the glass, ‘How do I program this command for my IT course?! Help!’

The girl was horrified. She snatched the jacket at her feet and used it to shield herself. Then she turned from him to me and said, ‘Get out.’

I was gutted. Reaching for my own clothes and heading towards the door all I could think about was the blasting I was going to give my friend as soon as I got outside. But then I heard her voice call after me. ‘Wait.’ I turned, and saw too late, her hand reaching up to slap me across the face.

Cursed with skills in software development

Melbourne game design courseWhat began as an innocent favour for a friend ended in one of the biggest inconveniences of my …week. This mate of mine was building some software for a game that he and his friends were working on and asked me to help. He was having alittle trouble with the programming and, knowing that I’d read a few book about programming, asked me for some help. Now, this friend of mine is actually taking a video game design course. Melbourne, where we live, has a few good colleges that offer such diplomas, and since getting my help, now he’s hooked.

Remind me never to do any more favours for friends. Every time he gets a new assignment for his game design course, whether that be programming or software development, he turns to me. Seriously I get calls from him at the small hours of the morning which is when emaciated students hunch over their PCs like vampires. Why must they drag us functional nine-to-fivers into their darkened world? Never again will I let myself get sucked into the trap of students who take software development courses.

The problem, you see, is that I was too good at it. I was in a double bind. There’s no way I could have turned him down – he’d have called me a bad friend. But if I’d agreed to help him and then done a terrible job – explained things poorly, made mistakes, etc – then he’d have appreciated my effort but would never have come back for more support. That’s the trick, you see, to be just bad enough so that you never get asked again. There’s only one problem with it: I’m too sincere. There’s no way that I could deceive someone like that. Curse my strong morals and their no-good influence on my life.

-Mack

Tree lopping is not something to be proud of being good at

stump removalBeing good at everything sucks. I don’t know why it is that I was cursed with this natural ability to do just about anything. You’d think it were a blessing but it has confined me to a private hell. Contrary to what you may think, being good at everything doesn’t put you on top of the world, but instead has the adverse effect of burdening you with the incessant supplications of the common people with whom you are unfortunate enough to be acquainted. I just thank goodness for tree lopping services, Melbourne wide, for saving me from another inconvenience of having to give favours.

You know how perceptive old people are right? They’ll repeat the question they asked you five minutes ago but they’ll pick up on some minor thing you did five years ago retain it with awe-inspiring tenacity. Thus my neighbour, old man Miles, spotted me lopping down a tree in my front yard years ago and it came back to haunt me. The old codger rapped on my door, wanting to know if I could help him out with tree removal at his property across the street. I looked out at the enormous stump he wanted me to get rid of and thought, ‘Am I ever going to get a minute to myself around here?!’

I put my foot down. I feel proud of myself for showing enough spine to say No, demarcating my limits. He was a little dejected but I told him that there are plenty of companies that do stump removal around Melbourne. He was skeptical of prices and efficiency – he wanted as good a job as I had done in my own yard (and who can blame him?) – and I too offered these suggestions not really believing that they’d be the most economical. But hot diggity if I wasn’t wrong about that. The tree removal company came around and removed the stump without leaving so much as a trace of it behind. And the old man sat around grinning on his porch for the rest of the afternoon.