Staying on Top of Your Home

More and more, there’s a greater move toward home automation. This means that it becomes easier to control the settings of your home, even when you’re away. It also means that certain tasks and chores can get done on a regular basis, even when you don’t actively engage these tasks. One example, of course, is the robotic vacuum cleaner. In the past, if you wanted your floors to remain clean, you needed to do it yourself, or have someone else do it for you. And this had to be done regularly, or else the floor would go back to being dusty or dirty.

But today, the robot vacuum cleaner can make this particular task much more hands off. Of course, you still need to set up the robot, and make sure that it has its parameters set, so it knows what it can and cannot do. But once it’s set up, assuming that everything went according to plan, you can set it and forget it. The robot will simply, on a regular basis, exit its docking station and proceed to wander around, vacuuming as it goes. You don’t even have to worry about the battery because once the robot detects that it’s running out of juice, it will automatically return to its home so that it can recharge. And that just goes on, day in and day out, without any need for you to lift a finger. It really is an amazing convenience.

However, some tasks can’t be delegated to a robot. One example of this is more complicated tasks and reminders which require some human input. Many of these tasks can be outsourced, however. For instance, more people are turning to personal assistants who are located in another country, so that there’s an actual person in charge of things, and who can make sure that what needs to get done is actually completed. The setup for this arrangement is much easier now because it’s also quite easy to send money to India online or to the Philippines, or wherever your assistant is located. By delegating these kinds of tasks to an assistant, you have more time to actually enjoy your home.

Your Computer is Also Your Castle

I said before that your home is your castle. Since it’s your castle, you need to protect it. But I think I’m going to add a little bit to that. I came to the realization that what is important to us isn’t always something tangible. Sure, physical stuff like your car, your wallet, your clothes and all that are important. But there’s also a lot of important stuff that’s more virtual. I’m talking about your computer and all the files that you have inside of it. Think of it this way. Your computer is your castle too, and you also have to protect it.

So that means that you try to keep nasty viruses and trojans out. Don’t open any dodgy email attachments and be careful when handling other people’s portable drives. You also need to set up the best USB backup software that you can find. After all, even the most well defended of castles can be penetrated by intruders. The backups are done to ensure that even if the worst case scenario happens, you won’t lose all your precious data.

Learning to Reward Yourself

I’m a big fan of the idea of working hard, and then learning to reward yourself after. Work can be quite stressful. When it comes to the field of wedding photography, it’s not all smiles and roses. After all, you need to coordinate with a lot of people. All sorts of things can go wrong during a shoot. Maybe someone might not arrive or might arrive late. Maybe the ceremony might run into some problems. Sometimes you have a lot of other relatives who are getting in the way of your shots. Other times, there are issues with your equipment, even after you’ve checked and rechecked everything. At first, it can seem overwhelming. But after some time on the job, you learn how to get settled back down quickly.

Then, when it’s all done and you’re able to finally have some time to breathe, that’s when you can think about how to reward yourself. For instance, I have an idea of where to get the best cakes in Auckland, and when I’m working in that location, I make sure to swing by. It’s not something I do everyday, but after a tiring gig, I know that I deserve it.

More on Wedding Photography

I’m a wedding photographer. It’s what I do, my main bread and butter. But just because that’s my work doesn’t mean that I can’t take the time to appreciate the work of other people. The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of people doing some really good work out there. My philosophy is that I need to stay aware of how other people do things, the quality of their output, the equipment they use and so on. From there, I try to take the good things and internalize these in my own work.

So I try to keep an eye out for who the best wedding photographer in Auckland is. Of course, this type of determination depends on a whole lot of things. But I think that aside from looking at the quality of the output photographs, you also need to check whether clients have a good experience with the photographer. Is there rapport? Does the photography session proceed smoothly? Those kinds of things are also important.

Sharing What I Learn

So there’s this whole mess with the house and the family and the hole. And I’ve been trying to set things right so that we can at least go back to having something like a comfortable existence. Which is really forcing me now to move my learning into full gear. It’s one thing to read stuff and experiment a little, and do things in your own time, when you want. But things get really crazy when you’re forced to speed things up or else cats or other wildlife are going to invade your home.

So I read and work and try and hopefully don’t make too much of a mess of things. But while I’m trying to learn stuff, I’ve also been thinking about how I also enjoy trying to pass things on or pay things forward. After all, I learn from what others share, so I want to keep the cycle going. So there’s this website. And there’s my research into the best NZ web host, in case I ever want to take things to another level. Hopefully, the stuff I say can help someone else too.

The Tale of the Steak

Off I go to the local Auckland butcher shop to purchase the best steak for my family dinner for two. This is to be a special occasion, I’ve decided it’s time for my intended to pop the question and I want everything to be just perfect. I’m setting the scenario by purchasing a prime bit of steak to grill, some candles on the table, and a little shrimp on the barbie.

As I walk into the shop I see a commotion ahead. Oh dear! It is Aunt Esmerelda, talking to the neighbors about wanting a fat chicken for Sunday dinner. Will she never stop talking? On and on she goes about the children next door and what loves they are, oh no! She’s looking my way! Help! Where can I hide?

I sneak up to the counter and quietly ask for a large t-bone steak. I think maybe I should also get a small steak for myself, maybe a ribeye? Duck! She’s looking this way!

Lovey! Oh Lovey!

Drat! She sees me! Yes, Auntie?

Lovey, are you getting steak dear? On your budget? Oh, you must be asking a man over for dinner! Is it that nice young Mark?

Double Drat! I really don’t want to share any information.

Uh, no, Auntie. I’m just cooking for the family.

What night, dear?

Uh. Sunday. I’m having everyone over Sunday. At 5 o’clock.

That’s wonderful, I’ll see you Sunday!

What? I now have family coming over for Sunday dinner?

I look at the butcher and sigh. 5 steaks please, the cheapest cuts you have. I’m having a crowd for dinner. So much for romance.

Missus Can’t Hack It

Well, its gonna be a little lonely for a few days because the missus can’t hack living in a home with a hole in it. She took the kids to Whangarei and are living in a 4-star Whangarei motel until its all fixed up. Can’t say I blame her, its pretty cold at night, and the sound of the wind blowing through the house can get pretty noisy, but I don’t mind it.

A cat came in through the hole today, tore a hole in the tarpaulin and waltzed on in. I was a little annoyed because of the tarpaulin but it only cost me $3, so I gave the cat some milk and had him sit on my lap for a few hours while I read my book. It was nice to have some company while my wife and kids were away actually. I hope they’re having a fun time in Whangarei, I’m sure they am. Those kids better be behaving themselves while they’re away or they won’t be having any ice cream for a fortnight, I told them that on the phone today and they know I keep my word on stuff like this. My wife has enough stress as it is without coping with naughty kids, so I was trying to help her out.

Fixing Up the Floor

Well I got to fixing the place up again. Another part of the house was water-damaged so we had to completely replace the carpet in that room. I figured to scrap the carpet for that room because it was a hot part of the house and I got the concrete floor polished. Concrete polishing is lots of fun, as is concrete grinding. It makes a loud noise and comes up looking really nice, let me tell you.

 

concrete polishing
Fixing the place up

All the boys were standing around with a beer watching, like it was the footy or something. I told them, ‘Hey boys, anyone want a turn?’ and they all told me ‘no thank you, but we can make you a cuppa tea when its time for your smoko’. I guess it is just like footy really, some people play and some people just like watching it on the telly. My son was good though, he had a try on the machine, I made sure he didn’t break anything. He’s a good lad, he’ll grow up to be just like his old man one day.

 

Fixing up the Carpet

So I was standing there, woken up in the middle of the night by a huge crashing noise and having run into the living room, to see a big part of the wall missing and the rain was coming in and getting our carpet wet. It was a very good view, I could see all over Auckland actually – makes me want to get a big landscape window there so I can appreciate the view in a normal way later when its all fixed up – but this was not the kind of view one likes to see. I would have prefered to see the wall of my house at this point of time, actually.

So I built a little safety fence around the hole so no one would fall out, and covered it up with a tarpaulin to keep the rain out as a temporary measure. Its still like that at the moment, I need to get onto that. Anyway next I needed to fix up the carpet. I just about tore it up and bought a new carpet, but I had Local’s Choice come round, and they’re real experts in cleaning carpets – they made it look good again so I didn’t need to throw it out. Looks like nothing happened, I must say I’m impressed.

More next time!

Your Home Is Your Castle: Protect It

My name is Blair, and I’m a wedding photographer in Auckland. I started this blog to talk about taking care of the home, after mine was damaged in a landslide incident – hence the name Tower Defense. In future posts I can tell you a few tips, like how to take care of your carpet or some great principles to keep in mind when getting polished concrete but for now I just want to introduce myself.

So what happened to my house? My house was on a big deck, jutting out over a cliff. It was well-engineered, but unfortunately in a storm some of the trees below our house got knocked out a few years earlier and then the dirt holding up the cliff became weaker, and eventually some of the pillars holding up the house became loose and fell away down the cliff, along with part of our living room. Ever since then, I’ve had to learn, very quickly, about DIY builder tricks and how to do up your house. Join me on my journey!