Free Driving Country

I’m really starting to get used to this version of Australia. For one thing, it’s free, as is travel. I’ve only ever seen cities other than Melbourne from afar, since, you know…we’re all locked in a bitter war with each other. In this world, you literally just flash a driver’s license to prove you’re the person who bought the ticket and you can fly anywhere.

Like, while classes are on break, I’m visiting Adelaide. There’s all this greenery, and people smile instead of shooting you on sight. You can just rent a car, and getting the services of an auto mechanic is something you just…do. No going out into the badlands scavenging for parts, no waiting eight weeks for government authorisation that will probably be denied because parts are needed for either the war effort or for the gravity engines that keep the city aloft. You just go to a car mechanic, say that maybe you need a wheel alignment service, and they do it. Truly, freedom to get wheel alignment services with nothing more than an appointment booking is the symbol of a prosperous society.

Although one complaint: I shouldn’t have to get that sort of car service with a hire car. I had to go for the ultra cheap option, renting a car from Seedy Dan’s Rental Bombs, and the contract states that all repairs are the renter’s concern. Back in my reality, that sort of negligence would be punishable by mind wipe, after which the business owner would either be repurposed as a worker drone or an actual drone (as in, they’d be fired at the enemy as a way to damage morale). 

But this is nice, mostly. Car services on demand (sort of – at least, from my perspective), and freedom to get in a car and travel wherever you like. I haven’t checked, but I think you could, if you wanted, travel from Melbourne to Adelaide without there being any borders – crazy. And even if you were from another city, you could freely use car services open in Adelaide, as if you lived there. Double crazy! I really could get used to this kind of luxury.

-Winston

Expand Your Mind

Why do people’s houses always end up looking exactly the same after renovations? I’m exaggerating, obviously, but seriously – try this simple exercise. Next time you visit a friend who’s renovated, notice the details like cabinet handles and light fittings, as well as general layout. Keep this in mind, and repeat. You’ll soon start to notice that they’ve all got pretty much the same thing going on, even if it looks different at first glance.

I guess that’s just the nature of fashion, and you could very well say the same about how people dress. It’s just what’s available on the market at a given time. Still, there are always alternative ways of doing things, which most people fail to think of. So, here’s a tip for free: if you’re thinking of renovating part of your home, consider opening your mind beyond what you’ve seen other people doing, and what’s in catalogues and magazines. 

I’m sure that most kitchen and bathroom designers would be only too happy to oblige you in creating something genuinely original. They care enough about design to have a degree in it, after all, and they must be tired of getting asked to do the same thing day after day. Ever imagined having a graceful, shell pink archway over your shower? A water tight sound system unit positioned under the bath? A secret drawer, perhaps, especially designed to house your collection of hot sauces from around the world? You can have all that and then some if you just ask.

I mean, it probably does depend on who you get for the job. You’re going to get a different result from a generic, off-the-shelf kitchen installer compared to a boutique kitchen renovations specialist. Melbourne has the full spectrum of options, so if you shoot even a little bit upward from the bottom rung then you’ve got a good chance of your designer having some interest in realising your vision. 

Bay Tree Offering

“Crikey mate, watch out for that snake!” That’s what I said to my cameraman as we headed deep into the bush in search of the elusive drop bear. With a knife in one hand and a branch of the bay tree in the other, I crept around the slithery beast. I’ve fought crocodiles and emus, but I’m yet to tangle with the devil’s kin. Likewise, I was yet to fight a drop bear.

A bottle cork hat would keep me protected from the deadly beasts of the air, and a singlet, shorts and thongs are all you need to fight off the oppressive Aussie heat. Some people believe you should use this thing called sunscreen, but that’s just a myth.

“What’s the code word again?” I asked my team, not taking my eyes off the narrow path ahead.

Anemone,” one of them answered.

“Right, anaemia,” I said.

“No, it’s anemone.”

“That’s what I said. Allegedly.”

Up ahead, I spotted it. The great drop bear. Legend has it that there’s only three in Australia. As quick as demons and as heavy as a bus, they can take a man out with little more than a stare. I gripped the bay tree branch harder, ready to give it to the drop bear as a peace offering.

As I approached, the devilish creature looked up at me. I held back a shriek. Deep within its eyes, I could see its horrible desires. Unspeakable desires. I got within ten metres and placed the branch down.

Then something horrible happened. It began to move toward me. But I was ready for this! I reached into my backpack and pulled out a jar of black vegetable paste. The only known repellant. Unscrewed the lid. Dipped my fingers in.

Empty.

A scream. It came from my own throat. “Gemini! Legacy! Independency!” I tried words at random, but my team did not move. What was it again? “Helpfully? Embassy? Oh, anemone! Anemone!”

With that one, beautiful word, my team sprung to action, pulling me out of that deadly situation. We fled, leaving the branch of a bay tree behind in the dust. The drop bear began to feast.

– Keith the Outback Expert

Minimalist Space

Oh no, this is a disaster. Our office is completely ruined! I knew I shouldn’t have let Toby take control of the designs. I told him it was supposed to be space-themed, as in minimalist, but he thought I meant outer space-themed. I can’t believe this. Now the carpet is boring grey and all our chairs are moon rocks. There are stars hanging from the ceiling and a massive model of Jupiter blocking the doorway to the conference room. What was he thinking?

We’ll have to just deal with this for a few days while I talk to a business that offers commercial office fitouts in Melbourne. It’s important that we get a real minimalist design and fitout here, because my staff are easily distracted. Right now, James and Caroline are on a “tour of the solar system” instead of doing their jobs. It’s very frustrating, but I like everyone here too much to fire any of them. So I’ll just take away all their distractions.

Just the other day, when we had our initial meeting to discuss the changes, I asked everyone how we could become the most productive office in Melbourne. Office design, I said. I was about to elaborate, but then a solar eclipse happened outside and I lost all of their attention. That’s when I told Toby to sort out a minimalist space for us, so maybe he got confused because of the solar event. 

It’s really quite the epidemic, the lack of attention. Not good for a business that sells “attentiveness coffee” to university students. It’s possible the product is just a placebo, because about six months ago it stopped working on everyone here. Now if they so much as hear an ice cream truck or a fire engine on the street, they’re out of their chairs and into the car park. My solution is nothing interesting here, internet blockers and soundproofing for every room in the building. I hope it works.

Obsessed With Glass

For some reason, my girlfriend has this thing for glass. I went to her house the other day, and there was just glass everywhere. Glass doors, glass windows, glass television, glass microwave. It’s crazy. I don’t know why she is so obsessed with it, but honestly, it’s starting to weird me out a little. Every time I go out with her, she insists that I wear glasses, even though I have no need for them. She wears glasses too, even though she’s got 20/20 vision. All she’s been talking about lately is how she’s looking for residential glazing, which I have to give my opinion on.

I didn’t even realise they had glass versions of all these objects. Whose idea was it to make glass cutlery? I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad idea, but I’m not sure what the purpose is. Next, she’s going to come out and tell me there’s such a thing as glass clothing. That would be a bit weird if she demanded I go to a restaurant in glass pants.

It makes it pretty easy to buy gifts for her, though. I can just go on a crafts website and choose literally anything made out of glass. If our relationship gets really serious, a glass ring will cost less than a diamond one, too. And I’ve always liked the look of the glass balustrades across Melbourne, so that would be nice to have at our future house. Maybe I shouldn’t be complaining.

After all, she hasn’t judged me for my house made of straw. Yes, I know the story of the three little pigs, but I’m not really worried about a wolf coming and blowing it down. That’s why I stay away from wolves in the first place. I don’t want to annoy any of them into destroying my home. But if they did come for my house, the straw man outside should be able to deal with them while I escape.

Powering Fort Citizen

I can’t believe Fort Citizen is actually taking off. Ever since I wrote that blog post, explaining how I thought it was immoral that we are forced to stay in the country of our birth, and how I have built a fortress and proclaimed it independent of Australia, people have been joining me here. They’re revoking their citizenship and making my dream a reality. Now we’ve got a small community that’s starting to thrive. We’ve built a mine so that we can get ores and have farms all throughout the wooden fortress. By my reckoning, we’re about to hit the bronze age.

I’m hoping that somebody joins us that has knowledge in solar power because if we could get a 100 kw system installed, that would launch us right back into the 21st century. To be honest, I’m not minding the stone age, though. It’s a simpler time and means that our lack of communication with the outside world (now that my phone has run out of charge) isn’t so detrimental. Morale is pretty good at the moment, especially now that we’ve got the wine almost ready. Energy is the least of our concerns right now.

Eventually, though, we will have to make the leap forward. After all, Fort Citizen will have to grow as more refugees come in from Australian soil. We’ll have to claim territory, and we’re not ready for war yet. It might be better if we get solar energy set up sooner rather than later. If there are any experts in commercial energy storage near Melbourne, there’s a free citizenship waiting, as long as you bring the equipment and plenty of solar panels.

Hopefully, once we hit the iron age, we can skip right past the middle ages and onto the industrial revolution. I’m not too keen on the black plague, and I’m starting to see a few rats around. Our population has swelled up to one hundred already, and it’s only been a few weeks since I wrote that first blog post. Maybe I should start making the call for soldiers to join us.

Learning About Conveyancing

I’ve had so much work lately that we haven’t even gotten to start our next ‘Grottos and Goblins’ roleplaying game at work yet. I keep telling my staff to slow down, stop giving me so much stuff to read and sign, but they’re relentless! I’m starting to think that maybe they don’t actually want to play G&G. Ever since the end of our first campaign, everyone has been all, “Hard at work, Mr Premier?” and “Got lots to do today, Mr Premier?”

Just today I had to review the Sale of Land Act 1962, which took me several hours. I don’t enjoy reading all that legal stuff. It can be pretty boring and dry, but I suppose it’s important to know about these sorts of things. I am the Premier of Victoria, after all. Did anybody else realise that there are so many legalities involved in selling a house? Thankfully, I also learned that there are plenty of good conveyancers in South East Melbourne, and all across the state. The lawyers there can take care of it all for you. That’s a big relief, because I’ve been thinking about selling my house for a while now, and as I read the Sale of Land Act, I was starting to stress out. I’m put at ease knowing I can leave the hard stuff to the professionals.

I’m getting sick of all this work, though, so I’ve started sneaking G&G preparation time into my schedule. My assistant keeps asking what I mean by “Secret Personal Project” in my planner, but I’ve managed to stop him being suspicious about it. I told him it was just code for that important city infrastructure project. If I put that off, I’m sure it will be alright. It’s not like the city relies on me doing that work. What’s going to happen, Melbourne’s going to grind to a halt? As if.

– Premier Norris

Missing King

Many people don’t know this, but Victoria technically has a monarchy. Not the British one, but an actual monarchy of its own. If the people of Victoria wanted it, they could become their own country with King Josiah at its head. He currently doesn’t have any constitutional power, but if five hundred thousand people agree to follow him, the state becomes an official monarchy. For now, though, he lives in a palace in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. I’m one of his many servants, and I’ve got a big problem. I don’t know where King Josiah actually is right now.

I assume he’s in the palace, but it’s impossible to tell. It used to be easy to find him in this lavish labyrinth, but recently he ordered commercial tinting near Melbourne, and it’s just been finished. You used to be able to look through the palace’s many windows to find the king, but now that they’re dark, the task has become a nightmare. I’ve tried calling his mobile phone, but he isn’t answering. I’ve been to every room in the palace and haven’t found him, but the security cameras don’t show him leaving, so he must still be here. He must be moving rooms, and I’ve just been unlucky not to find him. There’s a really urgent matter I have to discuss with him! Why did he have to get what is essentially tinting for an office? We’re in a palace! 

It really is important that I see him soon. Some policemen came around this morning and were asking about irregularities in the pension fund, which is strange since I didn’t even realise we had a pension fund. The officers refused to leave, so I really must find King Josiah so that he can sort this out. He’s been missing for several hours now. At what point do I just go outside and tell the police to file a missing persons report? That might get them to go away.

Cold Air Fox

It can get so hot out in the Australian bush, especially when you’re a fox. That’s why I like to make friends that can keep me cool. My latest friend is an old air conditioner that sticks out of a building. We chat a bit about the things that go on in his house, and as thanks for keeping him company, he gives me some of his cool air.

Just the other day, I came over while he was getting air conditioning repairs. Sydney weather can be brutal, but the breeze was so refreshing afterwards. It was definitely worth the three-hour journey, even if I did get burnt by the hot road along the way.

The other foxes tell me that I should just find a bush somewhere and sit in the shade. “It’s unnatural, using the technology of humans,” my dad says. “Son, there’s plenty of space in my burrow. You can come to my place if it’s too hot.” But the truth is, I really like hanging out with my air conditioning buddy. It’s like winter but the sun is out.

If only they would listen. My aircon friend was saying the other day that he wants to give the best cooling possible. He’s considering getting an air conditioning service from Sydney even though he just had repairs. He is very considerate. Who wouldn’t want a friend like that?

The rest of my kind, apparently. They’re just so stubborn. They have no idea that the way I’m living is so much better. I feel like that rat from Rat of Two-E that just wanted to cook. The other rats thought that there was nothing wrong with garbage, but he proved them all wrong, didn’t he? I’m going to be like that with foxes and air conditioning. They’ll come around. I just might have to make air conditioners portable and bring the cold air to them. They’ll love it.

Musical Car Repair

Man, our last album was a total flop. It only hit platinum once, which is super disappointing. This is the lowest we’ve ever been as a band. After Buying and Selling, I thought we were on track to become the greatest band of all time. But only one million people bought There Are Lots of Blocked Drains in Melbourne. I suppose a plumbing concept album wasn’t such a great idea in hindsight.

This time, I turned back to my recent experiences for inspiration. The problem with Blocked Drains was that I made the whole thing up. I have no experience working as a plumber, whereas I had plenty of experience buying a new house. So when the band sat down to brainstorm this time around, the first thing I wrote on the board was “car repairs”, because my car was at the Mornington automotive repair shop. The rest of the band thought it was such a good idea that we ended our brainstorming session there. Well, Terry didn’t think it was as brilliant as the rest of us, so we kicked him out of the group. Let’s be honest, he was the real reason Blocked Drains sucked. So we’re on the lookout for a new drummer before we start recording Fixing Cars.

The protagonist of this concept album will be seeking the best auto repairs in Mornington, but his story will be told in reverse. So it will begin with a track titled The Drive Home, about how the repairs went smoothly. Walking Through Mornington and I’m Going to See a Movie While I Wait for the Mechanic are going to be solid tracks, and I can already predict they’ll be the popular singles.

Another reason Blocked Drains failed so badly was because of the length. It ended up being a few tracks shorter than Buying and Selling, which people didn’t like. Hence, we’re returning to our long concept album structure. Look out, because Fixing Cars is going to be bigger than anything before it, with fifty tracks. This time, I’m predicting it to go diamond.