Author Archives: Richard Leonard

About Richard Leonard

Writer, photographer. Creator of stories using words and pictures.

Unlock the Myki gates!

“We wish to advise that currently it is a requirement to touch on in order to validate a ticket; this is so that when touching off the system can calculate the lowest possible fare.”
This is an extract of a reply to an email I sent Public Transport Victoria (PTV) regarding touching off at Myki gates. There are few things wrong with it. Firstly, this statement only applies to certain uses of Myki Money. It does not apply when using a Pass.
The Myki System has two ways of paying fares. For random travel you can top up your Myki card with “Myki Money” which is deducted whenever you travel in certain zones for certain periods of time. The lowest fare is calculated when you touch off so this is where their statement is correct. However, the Myki Pass lets you buy a number of consecutive days of travel and the statement above does not apply.
Contrary to what the PTV wants you to believe, touching on a Myki does different things depending on what’s loaded on your card.
If you have no pass or no money the myki reader says no.
If you have Myki Money and no Pass it will let you touch on and when you next touch off, it will calculate the fare based on time and zones travelled through. This is why it’s important to touch off at the end of every journey otherwise the default fare applies which may not be the cheapest fare.
Now, here’s the interesting part. If you touch on with an unused pass on your card, the machine will validate your card by activating the Pass for the specified zones and number of days on the pass starting with today. But the system still insists that you touch on and off every time you travel, even if this is only to open the gates where they are present in the inner city and the occasional major suburban station. There is really no need for this. If the card reader detects a valid pass for the current zone the gate should be opened regardless of the touch-on status.
The same actually applies to Myki Money once the default fare or daily cap is reached.

So why do we need this restriction? Why can’t the system recognise a valid pass and open the  gates, even if the card isn’t touched on for this trip? It would help passenger throughput, decrease congestion when people try to get out of the station with a perfectly valid Myki Pass, and generally help reduce people’s bad percentions of the Myki system.

This is the question I posed to PTV who said they have passed the query on to the relevant department. Hopefully, we shall see some common sense and an improvement to Melbourne’s transport system.

What on Earth am I Doing Now?

Hey all! I know it’s been a while. I’ve been guilty of hobby-hopping again and even within each hobby I’ve been jumping between projects. Madness.

Possible Logo

Possible Logo. Think of the blue as transparent.

I’ve been tossing up for a while now about creating a Facebook page. I know, I’m always late to the party. I wasn’t sure whether to make a photography page or a writing page. So I combined the ideas and created Richard Leonard – Words and Pictures. Not much on there yet but I hope to keep posting regular updates. Feel free to go over and “Like” it. The narcissist and book and photo salesperson in me would appreciate that.:) Here’s a logo I’ve been working on for the FB page, photo watermarks and possible a revamp of this blog. What do you think?

Contrary to what I’ve always believed, I’ve discovered that the Aurora Australis is actually visible from Victoria when it’s strong enough and you’re away from city lights, and you have a decent camera and clear skies. I’ve been feverishly chasing the thing but seem to lack the sufficiently dark skies of the deep country side or southern coastlines to get a any decent shots. One day soon, hopefully.

I’ve been polishing up the Novel, Rochelle’s Briefcase. I’ve reviewed the whole plot and made some changes in that department. No deadline yet. not even an ETA. I have a model lined up for the cover shoot! She should have more time available so there might be some movement in that area soon.

Earlier this year I posted about an idea of mine for a new tax system. That was way out of left-field and not within my normal interests but is slightly inspired by my software development profession and a vision for an implementation which grew into a relatively easy to grasp concept. Considering making a separate page to host that topic…

I’ve started writing a screenplay for the Mind Keeper. I think it is a story that will do well as a video adaptation.

I’ve started writing a sequel to Rochelle’s Briefcase for this year’s NaNoWriMo, got 1300 words down and realised I’m not interested in writing a sequel just yet with all the other things I need (want) to do first. Ideas are still churning. So I might focus on the plot in the mean time while I finish off the first book.


A Monster Quiz for Halloween

Literary Monster Quiz

Take the Literary Monster Quiz to find out who your Literary monster is!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I must admit Halloween isn’t as big in Australia as in the USA. It takes a bit of coaxing to get people into the spirit of it all. Unless you’re a kid who watches a lot of American TV. Or follows American celebrities on social media. Inevitably it is slowly taking hold.

To celebrate the special spooky day, I have a quiz from Grammarly for you to find out who your literary monster is. I got Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster!

Who is yours? Take the quiz here.

Go Home, Gall Bladder. You’re Stoned!

I’ve never thought of the gall bladder as one of those A-List organs. You know, like the brain, heart, lungs, stomach. In my mind it’s always been an extra. Something that just sits in the background, providing support, but doesn’t have a big role and never breaks down or causes problems. Until it actually does break down.

It happened to me about five weeks ago. I woke up in the middle of the night with a somewhat painful belly. It wasn’t extreme pain but it was a really weird sort of uncomfortable just below the ribcage. I guess around the diaphragm area. I sat it out for about an hour hoping it would go away. It didn’t. Because it was a very unfamiliar feeling, nothing like indigestion or gastro, I thought about driving myself to hospital. But on the balance of pain versus discomfort, the latter tipped its side so I thought hospital would be overkill and I’d be laughed out of triage.

It was a weeknight, so triage was totally vacant and the whole ER almost so. No Saturday night drunks, no weekend sports injuries, no daytime elderly falls. It’s that sort of town. The triage nurse had nothing better to do than write down my description of symptoms while I emptied my dinner into a plastic bag.

The doc on duty was pretty cluey. i think he knew what was coming. He gave me a bed and some painkillers and arranged an ultrasound of the abdomen for first thing in the morning. It found two gall stones and thickened, apparently irritated, gall bladder wall.

Gall Bladder Diagram

The Gall Bladder sits below the liver and stores bile for when it’s needed to break down greasy foods. Galls stones can interfere with the movement of bile.

Okay, what does the gall bladder do? Basically it acts as a storage bag for the bile constantly produced by the liver, to help break down greasy and fatty food. The gallbladder sucks up and stores excess bile while you’re not eating and releases it when the stomach calls out “Incoming!”. Gallstones are basically crystallised bile. I like the term “crystallised bile” but a slightly more official nomenclature is “concretion of bile components”. Nah, doesn’t sound as cool as crystallised bile, does it?

Right, so what harm does a gallstone pose? Well, not a lot if they are just floating freely in the gallbladder as most of them do. But if one gets stuck in the neck of the gallbladder, where the bile passes in and out, pain results. Worse still is when a stone manages to find its way out of the gall bladder and lodges in the bile duct, blocking all bile transport from the liver to the intestines, agony results.

The stones have to go.

Now, I don’t know how to read the noisy mess that is an ultrasound image and didn’t see any mention of size in the ultrasound report, only that there were two gallstones, and an irritated gallbladder wall. Long story short, they can’t dissolve them, they can’t blast ’em to bits, so the whole gall bladder has to come out. Easier than anything and we can live without them, apparently.

Last Monday (3 Aug) was G Day. Immediately before the op, the surgeon came to see me for a last minute Q & A session. It was only then I thought I’d ask about the size of the stones. One was 16x19mm and the other was more spherical at 19x19mm. Quite large! Now I think I can see one of them on the ultrasound.

Gall stone

I suspect that flying saucer shaped thing in the middle is one of my gall stones, probably the one in the neck of the gall bladder.

So what’s involved? I remember going in to theatre, getting on the table, having the IV prepared, then… nothing… until I woke about two hours later in my room to see my family walking in, stay for about 30 seconds and leave again. Is coming out of anaesthesia like that for everyone? Apparently they stayed for nearly an hour and I was talking to them the whole time. I should have made them video the visit.

What about the wounds? It was keyhole surgery so there were four of them. The main one was a nice 30mm gash from the belly button downwards. This presumably was where the majority of tools were inserted and the only conceivable point from which 2 x 19mm gallstones could possibly have been extracted. It’s also the most painful wound that remains 8 days later. There were two other 10mm horizontal cuts, one dead centre below the sternum, the other below and to the right of that. These two I’m guessing were for the cinematic equipment, you know, camera, light, clapper board… so the surgeons can see what they’re doing behind my fat-thickened belly. A fourth hole further around to my right side was a fluid drain and still had a tube in place post-op.

Try to get some sleep, they said, after my family left. Yeah, with the blood-pressure monitor kicking in every 30 minutes until midnight. Easy. I managed to sleep from just after midnight to about 5:30 am when the nurse woke me to pee. She actually asked me if I’d gone to pee yet! During the night, unassisted with an IV still attached to my left hand and a drain bag hanging off my right side. Not likely. After sorting out the logistics of getting my peripherals to the loo with me, there was no drama in that department.

What about pain relief? They had me on Endone and paracetamol and kept asking if I needed more. I stupidly said no. I was home before lunch time and still felt no need for more Endone. I could feel pain but it was bearable. I’m not a huge fan of masking pain. It usually means something. It’s a good messenger. The second day home I took some Endone. And on the third day. None since.

Bandages and healing of wounds? Yeah. On day 5 I could remove the bandages. Two looked okay, two did not. Local GP said keep an eye on the drain hole wound as it’s still weeping fluid. In another week it should be healed properly. If not, come back in.

Any residual pain should gradually disappear and I can progressively move from light to heavier duties over the next few weeks, too.

We’ll see how the next few days pans out.

The Elusive Aurora Australis

I’ve always been a bit of a science nut. Astronomy in particular. Growing up in Melbourne Australia I knew I wasn’t close enough to the south pole to ever see the Aurora Australis. For it to be visible at our latitude was a rarity not worth chasing. And even if it were visible, the city lights to would drown out the view. I never had hope of seeing it. Continue reading

What is a Grammar Nerd?

G’day all!

It’s been a long time between posts and I might be a little late to this party, but I’ve been given a tip-off regarding a study done by Grammarly of their fans to find out what constitutes a Grammar Nerd.

The following info-graphic describes what they found and makes interesting reading. I had hoped there were more grammar nerds in Australia but, alas, no. Continue reading