A window closes, another window opens

timber window installationYou have no doubt heard the expression “when a door closes, a window opens”. What you probably do not know is that this expression derives from an ancient greek teaching. The original saying roughly translates to “as one window closes, another must open”.

This week I made friends with a man looking to obtain window replacements in Melbourne. He is engaged in the business of what they call house flipping; he buys an old home, gives it a fresh lick of paint and some other cosmetic enhancements, and sells it for a lavish profit. He tells me that replacing the windows of an older home greatly increases how much he can sell the house for.

We got talking about the aforementioned expression; he thought the saying about doors and windows was apt for his house flipping business. I had to laugh at his naivety. The expression’s meaning has shifted so far from its original purpose. 

I explained to my dear new friend that this expression is not as inspirational as he thought. The actual meaning in Greek refers to the problems of stealing we had, many centuries ago, before we became a peace-loving country. As one window of the house closes, with the inhabitants of the house defending themselves against a burglar, another window around the other side of the house is opened by another burglar. Often the second burglar would be working in cahoots with the first, and they would split their spoils. Greece has a dark past from which we can learn many lessons of the ugly side of human nature.
My new friend enjoyed hearing about the origin of his favourite saying. And to think, I would never have shared this knowledge with him if he was not asking me if I knew any timber window installers in Melbourne!

Don’t Ask Me to do Plumbing

blocked drainsI’ve always liked building, which I think is why people automatically assume I can do pretty much anything. I can’t, obviously…if you want me to build a shelf, or a shed, or maybe an igloo if times are really hard, but my skills stop at building. I don’t do electrical work, I can’t fix your broken hard drive and I especially hate plumbing. Had a few plumbing friends back when I was an apprentice, and I can tell you that it’s definitely not the life for me. Picked up a few skills from them, but nothing that would qualify my for doing any of their work, despite everyone thinking that I can do it.

I guess that’s a general curse of people who are good with their hands. If you can do one thing, you can do it all, right? Everything is just that intuitive. Nope. I didn’t become a plumber because I know what lies beneath the blocked drains in Melbourne and I’d rather do my work outdoors where you know the materials you’re working with. Plumbers also get called in for jobs at all hours. My mate Darren is an emergency plumbers, exclusively. He works the night shift and has for the last three years, because…I don’t know. He’s mad and doesn’t really need much sleep. Plus he doesn’t have that many friends, but I’m not sure if that’s a chicken or egg thing. If I worked night shifts unblocking drains and slept through the entire day, I’m not sure how many friends I’d have at the end of it all.

See, building work is reliable in terms of hours. No one wants building work to be done after hours when you’re at home, trying to sleep or get on with your life. Building work might start early, but it finishes on time or people start complaining. I guess Darren has to sleep through that, come to think of it.

So yeah. Could’ve been a plumber in Melbourne, maybe. Chose against it because I like to sleep. I don’t have the stern stuff to do plumbing 24 hours…


Aussies and their Metal Scaffolding

aluminium platformHey Mom and Dad,

Well, Australia is pretty much what we all thought it was going to be. I mean, there aren’t as many kangaroos around the streets, but otherwise, people are pretty much like they are back in Mississippi; real laid back, not all that concerned about time and stuff. I even took a bit of a trip to the country, and it’s even more like back home. Loads of dirt roads and people saying hi to each other on the street.

Though I guess some things are more modern than I was expecting, like…okay, get this. I told the agency that I was pretty handy with a paintbrush, so they got me working in a firm that did house painting and stuff. Back in Jackson, if we were doing a job like that you’d get the wooden scaffolding out and whatever. In Australia, aluminium platforms are basically everywhere. I made sure to ask if this was a thing, and the guys looked at me weird when I said I’d only ever used wooden material. Like, I just thought that was a painting staple. You paint on top of wooden platforms, and you can sort of collect mementos of all the jobs you do after there’s a bit of spillage. Nope, they said…it’s all about metal nowadays. Might even be some law to do with what stuff you use.

And I guess that makes sense, because that stuff is lighter than you’d believe. Dad, you remember when Uncle Shaun came over and we cleared out all the gutters since the wildfires were on the egde of the property and we didn’t want to place to burn down? And how you nearly put your back out carrying all his ladders to and from the truck? These aluminium ladders weigh nothing. Feels like standing on air.

I know I’m droning on, but the planks and trestles here are like something out of a sci-fi. Apart from that, most things are the same. Weird animals, though.


Talkin’ Bait Boards with Jim

bait boardsFishing trips can be fun. Fishing competitions? I really don’t see the point. The entire thing about fishing is that you have to relax, go with the flow and not work all that hard unless you’re reeling in a shark. I try not to reel in sharks, so that leaves my fishing trips pretty chill.

So why did I let Pete talk me into Victoria’s largest fishing competition? Guess he works pretty high up in sales, so he can talk anyone into anything, really. Still, can’t believe I’m sacrificing a weekend of good, private fishing for some mass event where everyone is an expert in installing bait boards and nothing less than a two-metre whopper will count for anything. Most of the ones I catch are tiddlers that have to be thrown back, and you know what? I’m okay with that.

Heck, I don’t even OWN a boat; I wouldn’t be able to get myself into this competition at all if Pete wasn’t teaming up with me. He’s got the latest bit of equipment, of course…he actually takes fishing pretty seriously, unlike me. Got all the trophies, got the shiny boat, all the fishing buddies who all seem to have the same name. Like, you would not BELIEVE how many people who like fishing are called Jim. It’s got to be at least 50% of the fishing community. Pete is always going fishing with some guy called Jim, and if he’s not available then it’s the other Jim, or Jim’s friend Jim.

So I guess the guys who sell snapper racks have a solid system upon which to base their sales strategy. A guy comes into your shop looking for plate alloy boats, and his name is Jim? He probably needs your plate alloy boat best suited for fishing.

That’s my entire Saturday now: hanging out in a bunch of boats with really competitive people. And most of them are called Jim.


Meet Melbourne’s Newest Anchor Winch Folks?

marine trailer repairI was cleaning tables at a local café. Today, I’m learning how to tie sailing knots. It’s funny how life works out, I guess. Not that I disliked my job, or anything. I was about to do a barista course and learn how to make the perfect foamy cappuccino, but I guess this is good too.

Yeah, anyway…site where you’re supposed to share your experiences and get advice and whatnot. My Uncle wants to start a business, doing…I don’t know, something to do with marine trailer repair. And Mum said ‘hey, why don’t you quit that café job and go and do that, because it’s a career and family and stuff’. I forget exactly what she said. Then Dad chimes in and says that it’d be a great opportunity for me to get some sea air, since I spend too much time in my room.

I guess I do spend a lot of time in my room, but it’s important stuff. I just sank to bronze ranking on Over-Botch, which means I’m one of the worst players in the game, which means I’m one of the BEST players in the game because that’s how it works. And then yesterday I had my first day on the job. Bit of a klutz, and I don’t even think my Uncle knows one end of a ship from the other. He’s a real opportunist type, always starting new businesses and then when they tank, he comes to family gatherings and says it’s because ‘the niche closed’ and it was all according to plan. Yeah, sure. Everyone’s just swallowing that.

Last year it was selling juice machines that also had a deep-fryer function: ‘for fitness nuts who need more cheat days than most’. I like juice, I like deep-fried things, so I didn’t think it was a bad idea. I think he sold, like, five in the end.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure Melbourne anchor winch and whatever services are already covered. There are loads of people here at the docks who seem to know what they’re doing way more than us. But thanks, parents…thanks for tying me to a terrible business from the start. It’s really great family bonding time.


Conference Woes

conference venue VictoriaWorst. Conference. Ever.

Nice conference venue, surroundings were nice and the food was okay. Terrible speaker, though.

Maybe I’m a traditionalist, having been in the office game for a few decades, but I miss the old days when you could go to one of Victoria’s conference venues and actually learn something. This one had too much meditating, writing down your goals on a piece of paper and talking. We did SO much talking, to the person next to us, to somehow we hadn’t yet met, to a person who had the same birthday as us (and trust me, just because Jan and I were both born on August 19th does NOT mean we’re fast friends).

What’s wrong with a good trust fall? It’s a flawless way to tell which of your co-workers are good people, and which of them would stab you in the back to get to the last bit of coffee in the percolator. You think I’m joking, but for you, I have two words: Sally Edgerton. My second job working for the electronics firm. This was back in the day when companies sending off their employees to a conference centre was still a bit hip and edgy instead of standard practice. Sally came along, and grumbled the entire way because she sat at the desk, answered phone calls and didn’t have anything to do with the rest of us. You’d think it was because her job didn’t involve much teamwork, but she was just generally a cantankerous old bat.

Anyway, when it came to the trust falls, she jumped back at the last moment because she thought she’d mess up her nails. And one morning, she actually thrust out her foot and tripped me so I wouldn’t make it to the coffee jug, then used to confusion to steal some for herself.

Co-workers can be terrifying, which is why you need hard and straight methods of sussing out the bad eggs instead of…whatever that was.

At least we got those days off. Got myself a swanky Great Ocean Road hotel, had myself a good time. So at least I came back to work refreshed.