Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Old Wood

Sometimes you just lucky with the people you become friends with. I've made two or three through the blogosphere that I would call real mates and communicate with even if the Internet ceased to exist. But the net makes joining of the minds like that easy. The real fun is when it happens through an old school interaction, like being neighbours.

When we moved to Lantanaland the first people we met was Eric and Di, the people who lived across the street. We didn't have that much in common at first, other than music. Eric has about 20 000 vinyl records of all different styles. He just loves music (my old hip hop buddies would go nuts). But he's not into technology at all, can't even save a called number into his phone and he is a fair bit older, different generations and all that. We would have the occasional chat and beer as we got to know each other, he has a great sense of humor and being a chippy, he did a few odd jobs round the house that were beyond my skills.

We got to friendly enough that when we decided that a 20 degree slope on one side of the deck probably wasn't that flash, we asked if he'd do the work of rebuilding it. You just have to look at his house to know eric isn't just a run of the mill builder. Hes a craftsman and like me he gets bored doing things the conventional way. He agreed and we did the work mostly on weekends so that I could be the laborer. Over that time I learnt a few things about building and discovered that we share a deep love for hardwood timber and in particular, recycled timber.

The stuff that gets put into landfill today is criminal, especially from old commercial buildings. Back in the day they built with timber that good craftsmen today would cry tears of joy to get their hands on. We wanted nice wide top rails so that we could take advantage of the fantastic view and enjoy our breakfast on the new deck. To buy new, in hardwood, would be way above our budget, but Eric got a call from a mate who was demolishing an old Nissan dealership. They had some great big slabs of timber that were going to be hacked up with a chainsaw and dumped. Eric rescued them and we ripped all the nails out and today I was sanding the lovely old wood back, exposing the saw marks that the mill probably made 50 or 60 years ago. It made me so happy to see the age, the character and knowing that it wasn't in some tip.

So Lantanaland has given me another gift, a friendship I probably never would have had, one that's grown through working together, building something, for us and the family to come.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Stupid Tax

I have this thing I call the Stupid Tax. When I was younger and getting into tech and gadgets I would quite often be fooled by the marketing and the concept and purchase on impulse. On arrival I'd find that the product, design and engineering didn't match the concept and marketing and so I payed the Stupid Tax for it, money wasted. Or I'll lose or break or misplace something that had plenty of life in it and I'll mutter to myself as I buy the replacement, that's $39 Stupid Tax right there Beeso.

This morning I had to fly to Rockhampton for a funeral, an up and back trip in a day. I was sure I had double and triple checked the date, one of my pet fears about travel but had somehow managed to book in November not October. I went up to the Virgin help desk, hoping, praying that they knew what the stupid tax was and were prepared for me to pay a hefty hit of it to get there.

Turns out Virgin Australia have tax exemptions for incredibly stupid acts and the very kindly swapped my flights at no charge, at which point my heart started beating again. These days I do my due diligence on anything I purchase and very rarely have to pay the Stupid Tax and I'm incredibly annoyed when I do pay it but today I would have gladly paid it to be there for my Grandmother and Mum.

Virgin will get my business from now on and based on form, I'll be paying them some Stupid Tax sometime in the future.

- Lantanaland from my iPad

Location:On a plane to Rocky, luckily.