Art, Family, Memories, Personal, Shenanigans

Over the past few months, I have been spending some of my free time writing my first novel.

It is based on real people, discovered within my family tree. Their story, although unknown, is being imagined using the few details I have of this family. They were the first of my family to emigrate from Ireland to Australia, settling in Williamstown before heading to the Victorian Goldfields.

The story I am telling will be a cross-generational piece, covering at least three generations, and telling their story as best as I can. It will tell of the hardships faced by their children; living in post-famine Ireland before moving to a foreign land. The story of how they fended for themselves in the surly seaside streets of Williamstown before heading to the often lawless outskirts of the Goldfields of the Victorian Gold Rush. My fascination with this part of my family first began when I discovered their family headstone in my local Cemetery. It raised more questions than it answered, uncovering previously unknown children, and revealing some interesting facts.


Just a few of the characters who appear as a part of my Novel-in-Progress

I am currently nearing the 20,000 word landmark, making this officially my longest writing project ever undertaken, and I am only just getting started! Below is an excerpt from what I have so far.

“Inside however, he had never really grown out of his childhood, and whenever he could get away with it, he would let his inner child flourish. Of course, Margaret could never know of this, so it was kept a secret between himself and his Emerald Princess, Bridget. As they chatted, they both gazed at the wondrous sight before them. A thousand colours that had no names danced across the sky, stretching down from far above and disappearing beyond the hilltops in the distance.”

As things progress, I will endeavour to share more little tidbits of my writings, and perhaps if you are lucky, I might even call on some of you to proof-read a draft at some point?

My Novel

Memories, Our World, Personal, Rant, Shenanigans

Well, I have just registered in the City2Sea 14km run on November 17th in Melbourne.

This is by far the longest run I have done, and because of this, I have set up a charity donations page.
If you wish to make a donation, I am collecting for ‘beyondblue’.

Follow this link, and donate what you can. Every little bit counts!




Boring, Our World, Rant, Shenanigans

Clubs, Pubs and Security…

Recently I have heard a few people, both online and in person, complaining about the recent tougher measures to gain access into a club or a pub. These include ID scanning, photograph (to match to the ID, in case of hair colour / length change etc) and even fingerprinting or iris scanning. More common is the use of a handheld metal detector for use on either every single patron, or simply, the ones that look a bit suspicious (also known as a ‘random check’)

Somehow, some people find this as an invasion of privacy! To be honest, the term ‘invasion’ suggests that they had no say in the matter… Actually, as this is a condition of entry, not a mandated requirement for all persons, it’s a very simple thing. IF you don’t like these restrictions, don’t enter the venue! Find a venue that offers less security, and is at the standard that you would prefer, regarding entry procedures. I will visit you in the Emergency Room.

Clubs and Pubs are doing this to help stop the urge to fight… people are much less likely to cause trouble in the venue (and ruin a good night for everyone else) if they know that security knows who they are, and has their ID on file.
One place I …go to take a head and chest photo (bust) of every entrant, and matches it to photo ID on their computer. if there is a fight, the victim only needs to describe what they were wearing, and they can scan the photos, find the person, and forward their information and ID scan to the police.
I am a licensed security guard and crowd controller, and anything that can help lower the risk of a fight, a glassing or a stabbing can only be good.

Also, they are not forcing you to do it… it is simply a condition of entry… don’t like it? go somewhere that doesn’t check IDs! It loosely falls into the same vein as “Dress Code Applies” or “No Shirt, No Service”… No ID and photo/iris scan? no entry.

The information is only kept for a few weeks (in case someone reports a crime a few days later, like a date rape drug or an assault after leaving the venue etc. The venues generally couldn’t care less about ‘selling the information to the Russian Mob / Mafia’ or anything sinister, it is simply to help try to keep the venues safe, especially in the CBD of Melbourne, where it is just ridiculously unsafe these days…

And to all the Conspiracy Theorists, and people declaring that Big Brother is ruling our society, the information collected is not used for anything more than ensuring a safe venue, which is what most in the general public are wanting… without the risk of being stabbed, shot, glassed or bashed… not to mention the safety of their own staff, including bartenders, security, DJ and other entertainers.
The data would not be kept longer than deemed necessary by the local police (if you called a police station, tell them that you are considering setting up this system at a nightclub, and ask how long is too long to keep the data, they would probably tell you)

I have worked at lots of venues as bartender or security, and I can tell you, working at places that don’t have these measures in place is no fun. The risk of fights, weapons and everything else is simply not enjoyable for anyone, patrons or staff… I worked at a gay bar in Melbourne’s suburbs for a few shifts, which have ID scans, photograph via webcam to match up, as well as a handheld metal detector for suspicious / baggy clothing people (or indeed anyone that it is deemed may cause trouble in the venue). Entry can be refused at any club, and no reason needs to be given. the Door staff are working on behalf of the management, and as such, has the right to refuse entry to anyone that the manager would probably refuse it to.

This can be for a range of reasons, from either dress code, intoxication, physical behavior, and yes, even physical appearance (much to many people’s disgust). For example, if a person with a T-shirt saying “I Hate Fags” or “White Power” tried to gain entry into a gay bar, they would be refused. Even if the person was a lovely person, calm, sober and happy, they would be denied, as it would not fit with the venue’s standards. It would cause problems or arguments, or most likely fights.

I know, I am getting off track here… my point is simple. The venues do not simply think of ways to ‘make your night out as shit as possible’, but they do think of ways to ‘make your evening as safe and enjoyable as possible’… unfortunately sometimes ‘safe’ and ‘enjoyable’ need to be balanced, as too much ‘safe’ lowers enjoyment for some.

Personally, I have been ID’ed in this manner at a bunch of places, and I always feel safer there, knowing that IF something happened, the person would be found VERY quickly, and face the consequences for their actions. People who know that this can and will happen are much less likely to start trouble.

I have witnessed people who have walked up to the door totally sober, pay the cover charge, and then walk directly into a venue, bash the crap out of a person they were targeting and then in the chaos aftermath, manage to slink out the door (no, I was not working security these nights). so the whole ‘Responsible Service of Alcohol’ issue is crap. The other problem is, people buy drinks for their drunk mates. Drunk mate gets cut off? that’s ok, Bazza will buy him more and more…

People need to start taking some responsibility for their actions, and stop blaming the staff of venues for every little issue.

If they collect IDs and photograph you? = invasion of privacy, conspiracy theorists unite!

If they allow anyone into the venue, no ID checks, no cover charge? = This place is too rough, too many fights, too much trouble…

If they serve alcohol responsibly, allowing a single drink for each order? = pfft… “dont tell me what I can and can’t drink!” this place is shit!

If they openly serve people trays of drinks, or buckets of beer? = there are too many fights, it’s too rough, they should serve alcohol more responsibly!

If they provide security to help counter these problems? = “OMFG this is a police state now!! This place is shit…”

If they send security home, so you are left with a room full of drunk people and 16 kegs of beer / 300 bottles of spirits? = OMFG I am being bashed, why wont people help me and stop this? I am special, I deserve better…

blah blah blah… simply put, a venue lets in who they want, and sets up whatever restrictions they want to (within the law, obviously)… if you don’t like the conditions, then go somewhere that doesn’t have them.

This is a police state, because people have stopped taking responsibility for their own actions, stopped caring about anyone but themselves, and would rather step over an injured / sick / drunk person to get into a venue, rather than help the person, and be delayed by more than 5 minutes (yes, I have seen this happen, and yes, I helped the person… turns out they had just had a stroke, but no one stopped to help)

King Street should be shut down. every single bar and club in the CBD Grid on King St… they are the main culprits, followed by Crown Casino clubs…

Most other venues (excluding a few dodgy ones!) are complying with the Responsible Service of Alcohol restrictions that have been set in place by Liquor Licensing Victoria, which includes hiring a minimum count of Crowd Control personnel, and at times, a collection of information or CCTV footage, should the venue be pinpointed as a place where fights have started (although some venues have opted to voluntarily add these services, as they DO make the venue safer)

King St venues seem to flout the regulations more than most, even weaseling out of the ‘1am lockout’ trials from a few years ago, thus causing the trial to fail, because ‘the streets were still full of drunks’. They don’t break the regulations, just push the boundaries, and have their legal teams challenge any new restrictions that may be placed on them.

Don’t even get me started on Crown Casino…

Art, Rant, Shenanigans, Work

Designing in todays world…

As a designer, I often get asked to do something that is just simply not possible.

Clients tend to reach for the stars (and rightfully so) with their design ideas, however, as modern as technology has become, it simply cannot do everything we can imagine!

I am talking, of course, of the print area of design, which is the area I tend to work in the most these days. This includes anything from flyers, handouts, business cards, press ads, posters, leaflets, books, billboards, annual reports, and of course the biggest one of all, packaging.

People who need packaging designed are generally the most ambitious, as the package represents their company and product. If the design is not the best damn package on the shelf, their product, and indeed their company could go completely bankrupt.

The problem is, however, that these people reach higher than anyone else, and by this, I mean that they demand all kinds of crazy things to be utilised and included. For example, I have been asked to include metallic inks, fluro inks, glow in the dark inks, (in print ads, no less!) custom dielines (the thing that makes a box square, round, triangle or whatever… the outline and foldings on the pack), custom packs designed to fit snugly around a product… that hasn’t been built yet, the company’s new logo to be included… when it hasn’t been designed by their in-house team yet, intricate little designs that are simply too complex to be printed… in a press ad, recycled or custom stock (paper) being used mid-magazine (not feasible and very expensive if you insist!) and a looong list of other things overheard by other designers along the way.

Some of the overheard demands that I have heard have been simply shocking, yet laughable. These have included automatically printing websites… all 175 pages of them, an embedded video… in a print ad, a mailout drop… to every single house in the country… for a small local business, and various other ‘impossibilities’ that are in high demand.

A recent client that I have had dealings with, wanted a new line of packaging designed for their latest range of Product X. This would be one of the largest freelance jobs I have seen for a long time, so I jumped on it. The requests were simple. The packages had to include their new logo (which didn’t exist yet), the corporate colours, including one metallic ink (expensive, but still very possible), and a few other simple demands (barcode, a few paragraphs of text, and various other elements that aren’t even worth mentioning).

My arrangement was that I would complete my initial “concept sketches” to see if they liked anything that I could offer, and if they did, I would proceed with digital mockups, and then on to final package layouts, suitable for mass printing and production.

I completed my sketches, roughly, but still comprehensive enough (with descriptions, as they were more for layout, and had boxes where elements would go etc) and returned them to the client. The client requested better drawings (fair enough, I thought, these are rather rough!) so I drew up some better ones. Throughout this whole process, I said that the pencil stages were free, but once it went digital, the clock starts ticking.

The client returned with the dreaded “I like them all!” reply. Many clients think they will hurt the designers feelings if they say ‘yuck’ to a design. It’s ok, we have been laughed at, sworn at, physically abused (no kidding!) over a bad design… but giving me an idea of where you want this to go (each sketch is different, so giving me a direction to proceed is definitely helpful!) means that your costs will be significantly lower. I pushed the client a bit, and explained that the more definite they were with a direction (or two) would help me, help their costings, and also get things moving faster.

The client returned with “I like them all, pick one that you like”. This is a big problem, as I ultimately don’t care about their company or its success in the same way that they would. They should know their company and what is required to make it succeed, as it has done for many years before my arrival.

With much discussion about this issue, mostly via emails due to my daytime employment, I suggested that I would digitally mock-up 3 of them, and leave the other 7 options. They would be my choices, however if they were not liked by the client, they would need to pick one they DID like. This would all be charged to their bill, and this was agreed to by the client.

After more than a weeks worth of digital work, totalling around the 45 hour mark, I proudly emailed the finished images to the client, along with a detailed email, outlining each design, my thoughts on each design and its pros/cons, as well as my running costs, knocked down from 45 hours to a lower figure (as this client was a friend of a friend), and this was also explained to the client.

The client thanked me for my work and said he needed to discuss it with the ‘higher-ups’ and choose a design that would then proceed. After a few weeks, I had heard nothing, so I emailed the client. No reply. I kept emailing them, but no reply.


A few months later, I sent a final email, saying that if they didn’t want to use my designs, I understood, however payment was still due, and attached my invoice to the email.

A long story short(er), the client refuses to pay, as they didn’t like any designs I had done (even though the opposite was said as it was being done) and rather than sort it out, talk it through, call me, or even a polite separation, the client went nasty. “We never agreed to pay you anything, and you said you would tell us when we were on the clock, so we could stop work”… I produced the email (keep your emails, people!) that said “The pencil drawings will be complimentary, however once the process goes into the digital stage, payment will be required”, along with the client’s “That’s fine, no problem” reply.

The last email I got from this client was something along the lines of:

“I don’t remember sending that email, so I don’t agree with it, and will not be paying you.
Have a nice day,
Regards, Client X”

Have a nice day? buddy, you just stooged me out of more than $1,000, and it was time I could have spent working for a client who would actually pay me!
These designs I have done for the client have been saved, and if they are used within the next 7 years, I will be coming down on them with legal action.

The point of this post is simple.

As a designer, ensure that you use a contract, no matter who they are, friends, family, friends of friends, your local priest. Ensure that this contract covers everything from processes used (colours, inks, folding etc), timeframe, costing estimates, exit clauses and of course, payments and payment timeframes.

Every designer needs to learn this, but unfortunately they usually learn it the hard way.

Lesson learnt.

Art, Rant, Shenanigans, Work

New blog!

yep you heard right!

I have just started up a new blog from scratch. The new blog actually has a theme, which is something I am new to! I will be blogging about the good, bad and ugly in the advertising, packaging, marketing and digital advertising industries, and giving examples where I can. This will obviously not interest everyone, but as I am in the design industry, there is potential for some real doozies in there!

If anyone has any suggestions on horrible, terrible, nasty, offensive or just plain crappy examples, please feel free to email them to me, or post a link to the other blog, and I will do my best to analyse and dissect its horrible-ness!

The link for my new blog is: Ranting Consumer

Oh, and of course I will still keep this blog for random, whiney, ranty stuff as per usual! 🙂

Art, Shenanigans

BoomBox for iPod

Hi guys!

well, I have been busy again… just built a personal iPod speaker unit, using an old ammunition box, and a few bits n pieces from around the place. for less that $20, I have an outdoor weather resistant speaker unit for an iPod!

Here is a link to the site where I posted the instructions on how I built it. the site is called Instructables and that is the direct link to my project!

I hope you all enjoy!

Art, Holidays, Memories, Personal, Shenanigans

Xmas and the silly season…

Christmas is over for another year… FINALLY!

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with loved ones, relaxing after a long year, and simply enjoying the warmth of Summer (that’s right, Northern Hemisphere people, we have a lovely warm Summer for Christmas!) but one thing I DO NOT look forward to each year is the crazy obsession that is Christmas shopping!

Somehow every year it gets worse, and I vow never to go near a shopping centre in the month of December, and yet more and more people are leaving it until the day before Christmas to do the shopping. To get the perfect little something that apparently says so much about the person they are buying it for.

Even though for the past 4 years now I have made my own presents, I still get roped into going shopping, and have the misfortune of circling for 45 minutes to park (or walk over 4 blocks and across endless car parks to get into the bedlam.

It seems so many more people each year are forgetting the true meaning of Christmas, and simply helping the Chinese economy in the process… Christmas is about being with your loved ones. About sharing, doing good for your fellow man (or woman!) and of course, to share gifts with each other. These gifts do not have to be extravagant, or over the top. I do not expect any gifts like this, or any at all, to be honest… and I rarely give expensive presents to anyone (no, not because I am cheap…) but because I prefer to make my presents.

For the past 3 years (excluding this year) I have recorded my own CD, mostly consisting of covers of famous songs, and given copies to my close friends and family. I play the guitar, percussion, bass, vocals and keyboards on them. Now I know they are not perfect, and I usually type this on the cover somewhere that “this CD should not be taken seriously”, and whilst the do not cost me a lot of money to make, they do take a long time. usually all year (including a mad dash in November to complete them on time, as I usually slack off in July)

This year, I decided (as I had only recorded 5 new songs for the CD) that I would give framed photographs to people. I only made up a few, unlike the CDs, as they do cost a fair bit more, however each photo was taken by myself, chosen specifically for the person, edited and enhanced in Photoshop, before printing and framing for them. As I have been overseas this year for the first time, there were literally thousands to choose from! Although it was a simple gift to give, the people who have received them so far have been very impressed, and a few were even emotional.

A photo can be a very emotional item to give as a gift. One person received a photo of them with their first grandchild, on the child’s 1st birthday. It was a candid shot, and he had no idea that I had taken it, but was very proud to have received it, showing it to everyone who walked in the door that day, and will most-likely be taking it to work for his desk when he returns. Another received a photo from my trip to Japan. The photo was of a row of stone lanterns, lined against the shores of Miyajima, overlooking the Otorii Gate. The photo reminded her of her trip there in the 1970s, to the exact same place, which has remained unchanged by modern standards. She was very grateful for the shot, as it brought back all the happy memories of her trip, all those years ago. It shows what photos and slides of that era cannot show anymore. clarity, vibrance and colours that could not be reproduced in 1970.

So now, Christmas is over, I am thinking of what to do for next years presents. Most likely I will do another CD, as quite a few people have asked me for this years one, not realising that I am not doing it this year… who knew I had created a mini-fan base?

Oh well, I guess recordings will have to begin in February! 🙂