Caffeine, Plus the Beach?

Experiment phase three is complete. As it turns out, coffee and other caffeinated beverages are excellent at improving focus, but not sustaining it. Of course, everyone already knew that much. But their effect on creativity is actually profound. With the mind being sharpened, the creative juices also flow much more freely, for that time anyway.

So…I’m giving caffeine a score of eight out of ten. Excellent if you can get your hands on some, but long-terms effects on the creative brain are still to be determined. Needs further research.

So that’s experiment three. I’ve covered caffeine, sleep-deprivation and working in absolute silence. Now, I’ d like to gauge the effectiveness of working in a relaxing, seaside environment. Essentially, the creative brain’s response to a holiday. I’ve already looked into accommodation in Lorne, and it seems like an appropriate place to carry out my thesis. Sun, sand, surf, coffee shops, bookshops, long walks along beaches and all the kinds of things I’d like to test, eventually.

See, the beach at Lorne itself is more of a backdrop. I’d actually like to test the influence of relaxation upon the creative brain, so a beach setting just seem to be ideal in creating that. Caffeine creates stimulation, which in turn spurs the creativity on to greater heights. In theory, relaxation on the beach should whittle it down to a low level, almost inactivity. And yet, the last time I went with my family to the beach, I found that my drive to go to the coffee shop and work on my short stories was very high indeed. Curious…and perhaps related to my theorem that we are conditioned to be creative only in times of idleness, while the waking hours are to be mostly devoted to ‘mundane affairs’.

I’ll be sure to find a beach apartment in Lorne suited to my personal tastes, otherwise the experiment is pointless. Now, all the remains to be seen is if the combination of luxury accommodation, sun, beach walks and a slower pace of life actually improves the creative brain…or hinders it.

-Royce

How I Learned to Appreciate the Lumens

Man, a filmmaking course was the BEST idea I’ve ever had, period. People kept telling me that it would ruin my cinema experience forever, and I guess at first I kinda did. Back in my early days, I was just constantly pointing out (in my head) all the tropes, camera tricks and filmmaking techniques in everything I saw. Ruined a few movies, I can tell you that much. But then I started to notice the genius (or lack of) in various movies and shows, and now it’s a lot of fun thinking about them.

Really annoying at the time though. Okay, so there was this Melbourne designer lighting expo near where I lived. Not that fancy floor lamps and chandeliers are really what you use in filmmaking, but I was curious, so I went along to have a look. Made me think a lot about lights, how you illuminate a place, all that jazz. At the time, the one thing that really annoyed me about TV was how everything was perfectly lit, all the time. There would be a scene in a cave, or at night, and if the scene was done RIGHT, then everything would be perfectly visible. not that I had any bright ideas for solving the problem, but it just really got to me, at first.

But then I went the expo, and that place was LIT. As you’d expect, the light was all over the place, saturating every surface, making everything visible. But still…it wasn’t overdone. The light had been perfectly arranged so that it lit the right areas, didn’t oversaturate the corners and wasn’t just irritating. You noticed it at first, but walking through the expo, I just…stopped. It wasn’t important to me after a while. The actual source of the lighting was still interesting, but I was no longer constantly thinking about how bright it was.

That’s the kind of genius that made me forget the unnatural lighting issue. Lighting in a scene isn’t just how you see things; it sets the tone, manipulates the viewer emotions without being obtrusive. THAT’S what i want to learn. And it took a whole lot of commercial LED lighting, attractively-presented, to make me see it. I guess art really does imitate real life.

-Marcus

Any Chance of a Clubhouse Upgrade?

Man, this vermin problem is insane. Our clubhouse has always been kind of a dump, but we’ve never genuinely had anything this bad. Leaks, yeah. The snacks at the snack bar are terrible and the same every week, the hot food always tastes like someone’s been standing on it first, and…loads of other stuff. The smell, for one thing. But it’s always at least been OUR clubhouse. Now we get here for practice and find out that our soccer nets have been chewed through by rats, probably. Something has been snacking on them anyway. Maybe possums, but rats just seem more likely…I’ve never heard of possums sneaking in and eating something like this.

No matter what did the deed, we can’t play properly until we get new nets. For this practice we had to break out the old portable nets and put them on the horizontal sides of the pitch, because there’s another big problem with our club: the goal on the opposite end to the clubhouse just opens up to a sheer cliff face. Not a proper cliff, but a really steep hill that goes right down to a set of train tracks. Kick a ball through there without proper soccer nets and you’re not getting it back. We have to employ a team of people every game to stand there and stop it going over, and if it does, that’s it. New ball. We’ve got none of that during practice, so we had to improvise. At least we had our warm-up, where the coach sent us to find the place where the rats were coming from. So while THAT’S being sorted, and I guess someone else is sorting our soccer netting, we;ll have to be sorting out the rodent net-chewing problem by ourselves. The club only has so much funding, and I don’t think we can afford proper pest control. I think we’ll just have to keep doing warm-ups until we find all the rats?

We’ll just have to make do with the pitch being  half the size as usual. Actually, that might not be such a terrible thing. Have I mentioned we’re a bad team?

 

Heating technicians bring back the warm

I had managed to do a quick tidy up of the house and get it looking decent before the technicians arrived to fix the central heating. Melbourne had been pretty mild for winter, it wasn’t like I was shivering through the nights. That being said I like to be comfortable, and so it’s not unreasonable to expect a warm home. I had been struggling to cope with the cold all week, and had become very lazy during the coldest time of the year. It just wasn’t worth going out to brave the cold.

There was food scraps lying all over my kitchen bench and my clothing all over the floor. I’d attempted to make a taco earlier in the day, instead creating a huge mess all over the kitchen. I’d started adding layers of clothing wherever I was too cold. The gas heater had been broken for months and I had only just recently gotten around to calling a gas heating repairs company in Melbourne. I couldn’t let the technician in with the place looking like a mess. I had more self respect than that.

There was no way I’d be able to cope with another week of cold. If the technicians couldn’t fix my central heating, I had considered becoming unemployed for the Winter and spending all my days in a warm bath. It wouldn’t have been the smartest move, but I would be a lot more comfortable!

When the heater technician arrived and I showed him in. I was going to offer him a drink or start up some small talk, but I just couldn’t be bothered. Like I said earlier, my brain wasn’t functioning properly in the cold. I wanted the guy to get to work right away and fix my heater. That thing had to be blasting out warm air before the end of the day or I would be holding him hostage. Well, maybe I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I was desperate for a working gas heater!

Fitness, While the Kids Have Fun

party venue sydneyEver since I got into fitness, I’ve had so much ENERGY. I see fellow mums all the time who drag their feet around, slouch into our weekly Mum Meetings and spend the whole time talking about how they never get any sleep, how their dear little thing is keeping them up and has so much energy and they just can’t keep up. I used to be like that. That used to be me. But then I discovered the amazing power of complex carbohydrates, and the untapped wells of strength they contain. Now, I’m the one wearing MY child out. Don’t feel like sharing it with anyone else though…I like being the only one who isn’t tired. They have to learn for themselves.

I see how many rookie mistakes I was making, too. I used to go along to our local kids party venue in Sydney, since it has climbing frames and slides and ball pits, just the thing to tire little Suzie out so I can bundle her up for a nap and a muffin break for her tired mother. Alas, I also used to set her loose on the climbing frames with the other children and just switch off, maybe have a cup of tea to calm my nerves. But I now know that you can’t let your guard down like that. I still take Suzie to the indoor play centre, but while I’m there I have a cup of healthy green tea and make myself get up every six minutes for a round of star jumps, press-ups and on-the-spot jogging. If you switch off, that’s it. Your body assumes all that energy needs to be stored, and you’re left a wreck for the rest of the day. I’ve even got quite a number of fellow mums at the play centre in on the act, and if enough of them are there, we become an impromptu boot camp. Why should the children have all the fun? There’s always upbeat music playing in those places, so we have rhythm.

I’m actually starting to enjoy our trips to the play centre as much as Suzie. And there are so many indoor play centres across Sydney where the mums are making that fatal mistake. Maybe I’ll start a business, keeping mums energetic. Complex carbs! Smoothies! LIFT THOSE KNEES!

-Kylie

We Need a Lot of Repairs

sash windowsTraining to be an opera singer is expensive. Also, I’m fairly sure we’ve been blacklisted by about 90% of sash window repair people in Melbourne. Madame Verre is the best in the business, having trained generations of successful opera stars, and just to be accepted into her school…well, it was a dream come true. Graduating from here practically guarantees that you’re going to be an international star.

No one mentioned how hard it would be, however, far more than I was expecting. There are thirty levels of training, and you have to progress through them all by practising eight hours a day. Slack off and Madame will smack you with a beech rod before making you sing interval scales for a week. And nobody likes interval scales.

And after all that, there’s the final step of every each level of training, which is shattering a window with nothing but your chosen aria. Thirty arias equals thirty windows broken, and Madame makes us pay for them. Window repair, every single time. You’d think with how expensive the tuition is she’d be a bit more forgiving, but this is Madame Verre’s Operatic Excellence Academy. You do what you’re told, even if it involves breaking perfectly good glass. I’m up to level eleven, and by this time I’m starting to become slightly ashamed every time I have to call in the window replacement people. I’m pretty sure they know our number just by looking, because they always know exactly what we need when I call.

And Madame just had to have the most expensive, ornate sash windows all around the place, the most expensive to replace. Whatever small satisfaction I get from seeing the glass shatter from my very own high notes has steadily faded. By level thirty I’ll probably be blowing out every pane in the place and feel nothing. Yep, whatever Melbourne window replacement and repair place will have us, on the double please. Madame Verre is at it again.

-Florence

Looking for the newest edge

commercial LED lightingAs a business owner and entrepreneur, I’m always trying to stay at the forefront of innovation. It’s not enough to be as good as everyone else, the key is to be better, to work smarter, and stay one step ahead of the competition. One of the best ways I’ve found to do that is by trawling through the inter webs and finding the burgeoning trends for the next few years. In doing this, one of the biggest similarities I’ve noticed is the rise of operating your business in an eco-friendly manner.

Of course, this is a pretty vague term. Being eco-friendly can mean just about anything from having an office recycling bin to installing commercial LED lighting, but over the last few months, one simple measure has stood apart from the crowd: solar panels.

I know, I know, it’s not a new measure by any means, but the benefits behind it from a business point of view are more sound than one might think. Not only can they dramatically reduce your business’ carbon footprint, but employing such a drastic measure signals to your competition, staff, and potential clients that you’re serious about improving the state of the planet. This then has a flow on effect of improving your business’ brand image. Furthermore, there are real economic bonuses to be gained from moving over to solar energy. Although the initial installation may be a bit of a commitment, having a well-tailored commercial solar solution will actually start paying for itself in a short time. And I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories of people who have actually made money through their solar. To be honest, I’m not sure how realistic that would be, but it certainly is an enticing idea.

The more I look into it, the more it sounds like a sound investment. I think it’s time to take the next step.

Quick Switch Boat Party

outboard motor repairI might have just pulled off some kind of world record, shameful as it is. I told Templeton to have the boat repaired and in literal ship-shape for my big party, and I was assured that the entire thing was functioning correctly after our cruise around the Bahamas where we were set upon by a shoal of killer whales. Not Killer Whales, mind you. These were ordinary whales with a killer instinct, and they proved it by their kamikaze attempts upon the ship. Fortunately, that was what we signed up for- an extreme trip to see the ocean’s most deadly and aggressive beasts, one we were assured carried a significant chance of ending us all- but to celebrate our survival I wanted to throw the biggest boat party Melbourne had ever seen.

Technically, that’s exactly what happened. I just thought that the preparations had included more…outboard motor servicing? Melbourne docks are renowned for their fast work, so I had everything planned out: we’d start off with general revelry in the docks, then head out to sea for the second phase. That’s right…my parties are all about escalation, just like my extreme, thrill-seeker life. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out. The boat was booked in for the wrong week, making it more or less a very expensive floating paperweight. The killer whale attack even affected the power systems on board, so we weren’t able to plug anything in or light the place up.

Obviously the outboard motor servicing part was the most important, but for such a large vessel I wasn’t able to get the work done in a mere hour. So I thought quickly, lighting up the place with candles, bringing in battery-powered strobe lights and fog machines and re-terming the whole thing as a memorial party. Half the crew were eaten by whales, so it worked. Really need to get the ship booked in for some proper outboard motor repair in Melbourne somewhere. Also, that blood on the side of the hull is really killing the mood.

-Dirk

I Have No Need of Windows

aluminium window repairsPeople keep asking me why my house is so dark. Obviously that’s because I have a crippling fear of windows. Windows are terrifying, and so when I moved in here I made sure I had all of them removed, so basically all I have right now is walls. It drives up electricity prices a bit, but eventually I’ve managed to develop my night vision to the point where I don’t even need to turn on the lights, using a crude form of echolocation when it’s truly pitch black.

I don’t have problems with the sun, in case anyone is wondering. No, it’s specifically windows. You see, I had a bit of an altercation back when I was a young lad, when a bat attached to a brick came through my window during a storm, riding a branch. Quite a package, right? It was very shocking, and even after my parents called whatever Melbourne window replacement people were available at the time, it was the perfect devastating combo to give me a lifelong trauma.

Fortunately, I’ve come up with the perfect solution by removing all windows and sunlight from my home life, which I feel like is a very healthy and reasonable way to deal with things. I also don’t have to deal with window problems if I don’t have any windows, plus my impeccable night vision and echolocation mean I save a lot of electricity nowadays. I think I may also have started to grow scales around my eyes. Didn’t see THAT coming, but I’m sure it’s fine. I don’t even have to cook anymore, since I’ve developed a real taste for raw meat and my teeth have become sharp enough to tear it to shreds, so really I’m a paragon of being budget-conscious.

For reference, that’s very little electricity (the fur means I don’t get cold), no money spent on gas and I certainly don’t have to worry about aluminium window repair. Melbourne should live more like me.

-Vlad

I Shall Reclaim My Crown

hyperbaric chamberI bask in the sunlit garden of utter defeat. Little did I know, all would be taken from me so swiftly; my dignity, my honour, my standing in the community, cruelly torn away at its zenith.

My son just beat me at lawn bowls. At this point, the fact that he is my son matters little, because he is eleven and inexperienced, while I myself am a renowned champion. Nay…a former champion. I no longer deserve the title, after my humiliating and highly-public defeat. The dinner table has been transformed into a place of scorn and mockery. Who knew a teenager had such a capacity for vitriol, constantly reminding me of my immense failure?

I need to be stronger to reclaim my crown, and I’ll do anything. I’ll drink disgusting smoothies, wolf down supplements…and I’ve heard that Melbourne’s hyperbaric medicine industry is currently thriving, especially for sportspeople. Also, those with breathing issues and those recovering from injuries. My injury may not be physical…but my heart and pride are deeply wounded. Meditation within a hyperbaric oxygen chamber may be exactly what I need; I shall meditate on victory, banish thoughts of victory and all the while increase my physical state. I need to be in prime condition to defeat this upstart eleven year old and take my place at the top once more.

Practice will also be necessary. My previous level of greatness was clearly not enough, and thus I’ll need to extend my training regime into the night. My technical skill must be perfect, my mind in a state of constant readiness, and my body…well, hopefully Melbourne’s fine oxygen therapy can help with that. Also, smoothies. Whatever it takes to be the king again.

-Trevor