Bloom For Youth

I have been asked to deliver a speech at my graduation ceremony. It came as a bit of a surprise because I am constantly described as an average student. Two years ago my entire year group took a standardised test and I was spot on the median grade. Studying horticultural botany isn’t particularly competitive, there are only three of us on the same specific course. I specialised in determining the growth rate of roses. I think this is the reason I have been asked to give the speech, my project is the most interesting from the course. The other projects looked at brindabella roses and optimal rose colour palettes.

I didn’t want to make my speech completely about flowers, I wanted to inspire and for once be considered above average. I think I’d be happy even being considered below average at this point, anything to break free from mundane mediocracy. Of course I would have to speak about my project but I wanted to add a little zest so I’ve decided to actually showcase so of my favourite iceberg roses. Of course I will be showing off some king fabiola’s as well as some freshly bloomed hybrid tea roses, because who doesn’t love a fresh bloom. As we all go forth beyond school I want to remind everyone to keep learning, although our lessons may be over and tests no longer graded we still have more knowledge to seek. Much like flowers will continue to bloom and die with the seasons we will have times of rain and times of shine. It is not how much shine we have that measures success but how we will deal with the waves of rain that hit us. Between some inspirational language and some breathtakingly gorgeous flowers I am sure I will make a few parents cry.


Seeds of Genius

This spring, I’m experimenting with new ways of germinating tomato seeds. I’ve had my thinking cap on all winter, brainstorming ways to ensure a bounty of fruit despite my garden being less than ideal for the purpose. After much tinkering with the concept, I believe I’ve landed on a solution that may just be crazy enough to work.

I don’t want to give everything away – if this idea proves effective, I could have monetisable product on my hands. Suffice it to say that it involves a complex array of mirrors and layers of plastic sheeting rigged up in a very specific order, and encircling the pièce de résistance: a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. You didn’t see that coming, did you? Therein lies the genius.

I bet you’ve got some questions. For example, what makes me think a medical device designed for specialised use by humans is going to help my tomato plants? And how on god’s green earth do I plan to get around the obvious difficulty of setting up a hyperbaric chamber in my garden?

I’ll answer the second question first, as the answer is very simple. I’ve learnt that there are such things as portable hyperbaric chambers, and they are available for the public to purchase. I’m not sure exactly what ‘portable’ means in this context, but I gather it should be possible to set up the chamber outside, even if it means connecting it to the house using some kind of extension lead hack.

Now, to the first question regarding what makes me think this will work. Well, plants need oxygen, just like humans do. I figure that, seeing as I can’t engineer more sunlight into my garden (aside from what can be achieved with mirrors, which is relatively minimal), maybe I can make up for it by delivering extra oxygen.

I realise that this is going out on a limb somewhat, but sometimes you’ve got to think outside the box.


Trip to Adelaide

I’m finally back from my trip to Adelaide. I’ve always been told that it’s an old, backwards town that barely deserves to be called a city, but to their credit, they had like two skyscrapers there. I assumed that people walked from place to place, or rode on horses. I was expecting a town still stuck in the 1800s. Instead, it seems they’re only stuck in the late 1900s. Not anywhere near as bad as I expected. 

When my grandmother bought me a plane ticket to go visit the city where my family had come from, I was quite taken aback. I didn’t even realise Adelaide had an airport. I didn’t even think its people would know what an aeroplane was. Turns out I’ve been very misled.

When I first landed at Adelaide Airport, I was further surprised to find that many of the people had smartphones. Hang on, I was thinking, where are all the old western-style saloons and the standoffs out on the street? Apparently they don’t do that anymore. As I collected my luggage, I saw a booth where you could rent out a car. That shook me to my core. They had cars in Adelaide? Surely you couldn’t buy a car here or even get auto repair. Around Adelaide, things are supposed to be like the old days. I asked one of the locals and he told me about how he drives everywhere. I was amazed. It really wasn’t what I expected.

With this realisation done, I decided to rent out a car, rather than take the train everywhere. Of course, I was surprised that Adelaide had trains, since those were around in the 1800s, but I was surprised at the quality of them. Their trains are just like the ones in Melbourne! Incredible. As I drove through the city, I did indeed see a car mechanic, and a bowling alley, and a theatre. All marvels of the 20th century! It seemed the city wasn’t anywhere near as backwards as I thought.

That was until I got onto Main South Road. Despite being a main road that led to the outer suburbs, the speed limit was only 60 kilometres per hour. What is this barbarism? How could they possibly justify such a speed? So despite my shattered expectations, it turns out Adelaide is a bit backwards.


Top Office Postponed

I can’t believe Australia’s Next Top Office has been indefinitely postponed! How could they release the first five episodes of season two and then make us wait for the rest? That’s just cruel! I want to know whether the Glass Smashing Bandit can continue designing the best office Melbourne has ever seen. Will Space Wizard ever return? What about Ms Frankie, the underdog of the competition? Was she going to chip away at the ranking points and surprise everyone with a big victory?

It’s so frustrating, especially when I had the next few Fridays reserved for watching the show. I’ve had to decline invitations to so many events. There was even an Our Oxytocin Necromance concert I decided not to go to! All so that I could watch the Dirge work on commercial office fitouts. Around Melbourne, there’s so much to do, but I gave it all up for my dedication to ANTO. I wish they’d give us more information about why it’s being postponed. A vague post on social media about how ‘The town of Sweden has been destroyed by a supervillain who looks like Thanks from Marble’s Revengers’ isn’t going to cut it, I’m afraid.

Sounds like a bit of a cop-out reason, if you ask me. I think the show’s loyal fans deserve better than that. What is the real reason? Budget cuts? Creative disputes? Give us a reason other than some made-up fantasy.

What am I supposed to do now? Go to an office design business near Melbourne and watch the people there work? That might be a little creepy. It’s not like there are any sports on at the moment to watch. Besides, I’m not even into sports. 

I suppose the only positive out of this situation is all the behind-the-scenes drama that will come out in the coming years. There’s bound to be interviews with the contestants, and it will be interesting to hear about what’s actually happening in Sweden, Victoria at the moment.


Zombie Glazier

Technically I’m supposed to be in Sweden, the new suburb in Melbourne, but honestly it was kind of cramping my style. I’ve worked up a reputation as the baddest villain in the multiverse, so it’s kind of weird to just sit around building an office for the Australian streaming show, Next Top Office. That’s why I’ve decided to skip this first challenge by conjuring a zombie glazier to do it for me. How hard could it be to create and install a stair balustrade made entirely out of glass?

So I’m sitting at my favourite Italian Sun Dollars cafe and drinking a chai latte while typing up this blog post that we’re required to do before the first challenge ends. Maybe later I’ll go check up on my phylactery on top of Big Ben. Now that I think about it, I should probably recruit a few more Elders of the Internet to watch over it. Somehow they got the idea that they had to do things at complete random, instead of doing their actual jobs which is to stop me from ever dying.

After my chores are done, I suppose I should head back and check on my zombie. If I need to search for glass repair services Melbourne wide, all because he couldn’t construct a simple balustrade without breaking the glass, then so be it. I’ll get a real glazier in with a wave of my staff and a conjure tradie spell. Simple. Provided I don’t forget about daylight savings again. That would kind of suck. I just need to remember that Melbourne is currently using AEDT, not AEST. I’ve made that mistake before and almost missed my audition for the show.

I hope I remembered to give my zombie glazier that handbook of the trades and the crown of intelligence. Without those he’ll just be flailing about on camera, smashing glass everywhere. Might even start an outbreak among the filming crew. Oh, I’m sure it will be fine. I’m the smartest being in the universe. I wouldn’t forget something like that.


Pancake Society

This is a warning to all humans of the 21st century. The year is 2058 and the world has ended. If you’re reading this, you need to act now. By changing the publishing date of this post, I’m able to send a message back in time, hoping that the great calamity can be prevented through my message.

What caused the end of the world? The apocalyptic wasteland I live in was not caused by global warming or nuclear war. No, it was caused by the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the thing we never expected: pancakes. Sounds crazy, I know, but these days a box of pancake mix can buy you a whole city.

I was at a Ringwood automotive shop when it happened. It was the year 2049 and a broadcast went out to all mobile phones, announcing the new MEGACORP Super Secret Pancake Batter. SSPB was highly anticipated to be the best pancake batter ever created, but even the most optimistic of people couldn’t have expected it to be as good as it was. A few years ago I had the honour of trying just the tiniest bite and let me tell you, it’s like eating pure bliss. The fluffiness is perfect, the taste just the right balance between savory and sweet.

I forgot all about getting a roadworthy certificate near Ringwood and went straight to the local supermarket to pre-order a few dozen boxes. MEGACORP had also announced the pre-order bonus and DLC packs so I wanted to be in early. Ten minutes later I arrived at the store and found everyone there in a massive brawl.

Society quickly collapsed after that. People stopped going to work, MEGACORP factories were raided and neighbourhoods began to turn on each other. If it was rumoured that you had a box of SSPB there was a riot outside your home within minutes. Governments of the world soon made the pancake batter illegal, and that was the end of democracy.

So, I send this warning: on the morning of July 35th, 2049, make sure you’re at a supermarket because you don’t want to miss out on SSPB. Oh, yeah, and if you could somehow find a way to stop society from crumbling, that would be nice too.


A Strange Question

“Why are you so happy, Frank?”

That’s what my friend, Mikey, asked me this morning. We were having coffee at our favourite cafe, overlooking the local golf course. It wasn’t a question I expected to be asked, I’ll be honest, so I took a great deal of time thinking about it before answering.

“I wasn’t always happy like this. In fact, six or seven months ago I was quite miserable. I’m not entirely sure what changed. It was around the time that the new Crazy Fox game came out, but I don’t think that’s what changed me. I signed up to get commercial solar from a Melbourne business around the same time, so maybe it was that.”

“You think that solar panels made you happy?” Mikey asked.

I shrugged. “It’s possible. There does seem to be a burden off my shoulders, knowing that I’m helping the planet survive through clean energy. I’ve got a 100kw solar system, which is a crazy amount for my small business, but I’d rather have more than I need rather than less.”

“I suppose that makes sense,” Mikey said. “Say, how much power does a 100kw solar system produce, anyway?”

I laughed. “More than you would ever need, Mike. You really should consider jumping on the solar power ship.”

“It sounds like a good idea, but what would you do if the sun exploded, or suddenly disappeared? How would you have power?”

“Well, if the sun vanished, we’d all perish, wouldn’t we? And if it exploded, same thing. I’m not too worried about it.”

Mikey nodded and took a sip of his coffee. “Okay, well what if the Earth stopped rotating and we were stuck on the dark side of the planet, in perpetual night?”

“What are the odds of that happening?”

“Pretty low, but what would you do if it happened?”

“I don’t know. I guess I would become a raider, breaking the laws of the land for my own personal gain. Maybe I’d start a whole gang of people who lost their electricity because they used solar power. Then I’d come and raid your house as vengeance for ever asking this question.”

“Huh,” Mikey said. “Well, thanks for answering.”

“No problem.”

air conditioning

Silly Country

I just got here, and the first thing I’ve noticed is that Australians don’t realise how silly all their place names sound. Fortunately the major cities have gotten off pretty lightly. The most major city with a name I don’t really understand is Dubbo…and how that happened, I’ll never understand. What even is that?

Still, I’ll probably never go there, so never mind. Oh, and another thing: it’s SO hot here. I mean, I know I came from Novosibirsk and that place has a reputation for being cold, given that it’s in Siberia and everything, but people don’t seem to realise how hot it is. It was fifteen degrees yesterday. Fifteen. I counted it up in my head, and wondered if the best air conditioning services Melbourne have to offer are going to cope with such temperatures. As it turns out, everyone is just fine with it. No biggie; in fact, people were wearing coats. The absolute maniacs.

I’m mostly here to visit my friend Niko, and when I asked about it he seemed to think it was the funniest thing he’d heard in a while. He’s only been here for three years, and already the beating sun has beaten Novosibirsk out of his system and replaced it with a love of UV rays. He doesn’t even have air conditioning in his apartment; said that he doesn’t find that he’d ever need it. But on the other hand, I bet if he ever came home, he’d be weeping salty tears at the bitter winter winds, so there’s that. And he has a visit planned for next Autumn, so that’ll be good fun.

Fifteen degrees though, for real. That’s just getting to the point of silliness, at least when you factor in that air conditioning doesn’t kick in until you get to a clear 25-mark. A whole ten degrees higher. Wow.


Mirrors and Glass

In the realm in which I am from, glass is a developing discipline. Oh, the rich and powerful do preen themselves in expensive mirrored surfaces, and for a nominal fee you can also summon a dimension shifting mage to open a decent sized portal to the mirror plane, allowing you to gaze upon an exact reflection of oneself with only a 20% chance that it will gain sentience, climb through the portal, try to secretly kill you in your sleep and take over your life with no one the wiser.

And windows? Again, rare. We are mostly a realm of wooden shutters, so the fact that glass replacement companies in Melbourne are so very numerous was a surprise to me at first. I was practicing a sacred, divine, holy and exclusive spell passed down through generations that allows you to punch someone in the face at a distance, but it went awry and I punched straight through my bedroom window. At first I was fearful, thinking that glass was akin to perhaps the enchanted stained glass in the local Sanctified Cathedral. But no, apparently there are just glaziers everywhere, I guess. Glass replacement isn’t exactly what you would call inexpensive, but panes of glass are a common item to be replaced and it is not ‘abnormal’. Especially not with the very normal story I concocted using my knowledge of film and television: I was practicing so that I could one day win a Superbowl, and I accidentally swung my bat in the wrong direction, causing the window to be shattered by the football flying off the tee and hitting the glass.

Yes. Perfect. Glaziers might not be royalty here, but people are generally happy to see them. Maybe I need to get myself into this game. Install some stair balustrades, replace a pane, learn the game…and take it all back to my home realm and make mountains of gold! My banishment is only 400 years, plenty of time to learn glazier skills.


The Old Garage

There was a really great prank way back where the newspapers all agreed to report that America might have been vacated for several months, due to all the goldmines drying up. This was way back before the internet, and when hardly anyone could afford to make international calls, so you couldn’t just verify it instantly.

It was a wonderful joke and it caused quite a stir amongst people fearing that all the Americans were heading to Australia, in need of a new home. But ultimately, it was not true. Life was just a lot simpler, back then. You went to see Mr Gendo if you needed a car mechanic. Ringwood locals knew he was their guy. There was only Mr Gendo in the area, because it was a poor area and hardly anyone owned their own cars. No roadworthy certificates back then, either. You just got on with your driving and tried to ignore the rattling noises if you didn’t have enough money for the mechanic. Things were built to last then, however.

Mr Gendo gained quite a name for himself, being a mysterious foreigner in a time when you never saw that sort of person running a mechanic’s garage. He was really nice, but very firm. You don’t bother him about how long the repairs were going to take. “It gets done when it gets done,” he would say, sticking the cigar back in his mouth and going back to his work. I was just a kid and I never bothered him, so he’d let me watch the mechanical repairs, and I learned how car servicing worked, and how to repair a brake pad, and multiple swear words in other languages.

No more Mr Gendo. He went back to his family in Japan once he was too old to continue, and multiple auto service centres near Ringwood have sprung up since then. It’s nice to have choice, I suppose. But I can’t help thinking of how things used to be.