Songs That Grabbed Me – Disturbed, The Sound of Silence

Back when I was a kid in the 70’s and 80’s, you never admitted to liking your parents music. In fact you usually forced yourself to not like it, despite how good it was. We were probably too immature to recognise the quality. We were strictly pop chart top 20.

Simon & Garfunkel were one of those artists that in my group were considered ultra daggy. As we grew we learned to recognise great music. Then soon we were game enough to admit it. We could say we like the Sound of Silence and not fear being ridiculed.

A few years ago (Yeah, I’m late to the party!) I happened to hear a song blaring out of my son’s bedroom. It was an angry version of The Sound of Silence I’d never heard before playing on the radio. I’d come along midway through to witness the rising of the vocals and I had to stop whatever the hell I was doing and look this up. By Disturbed, Son said. Who are they? A metal band. This is a metal band? Geez this guy, David Draiman, can freakin’ sing! His voice had feeling. It gave the song a whole new dimension. Several of them, in fact.

I immediately looked it up on Youtube and played it from the start. Man, that song glued me to the screen. I bought it from Google Play and I don’t easily buy music. This song literally did grab me.

Then I came across a reaction video. I was so happy to see other people reacting to it in the same way I did. In fact I’ve watched so many reaction videos to this song and of the live version they performed on Conan. It’s even really satisfying to see reactions from vocal coaches who are equally impressed with it. I love hearing that Paul Simon endorsed this version. It’s just a freaking amazing version of an already fantastic song.

Official Music Video:

Live on Conan:

And also search for the reaction videos. You will enjoy the inclusion you feel as you realise many other people react in a similar way.

A Slight Change in Direction


Regular readers may or may not have noticed my absence in the last few months and even a slow-down of blog posts preceding that. In the past I’ve made moderately loud noises about the novels I have been working on and how I intend to publish these some time soon. I know it’s taking a while but I’m still on it.

The thing is, it all started with my intention to design my own book cover, including shooting the photo and touching it up to book cover quality. A family friend did a modelling course a couple of years ago and agreed to pose for the cover. So we did that back in February (I must write a post about that one day), after I loaded my brain up with as much photography knowledge as I could fit. I also took every opportunity to take photos in various environments. Mostly for practice.

I’ve set up a Facebook page, Instagram and posted what I thought were some of my better shots. To my amazement I started getting requests from people with whom I’m connected to varying degrees, to shoot for them. You know, things like, award ceremonies, milestone birthday parties, weddings, stuff like that.

Weddings! After I got back up off the floor when reading that one, I began questioning my plan. I had an idea to fix this WordPress blog of mine to resemble a website rather than a blog by sticking a front page on it, describe photography services I might provide, explicitly excluding weddings. I wasn’t that confident yet and I didn’t have all the required gear. And besides, a wedding is something you don’t want to stuff up when you’re first starting out receiving payment for what’s essentially just a serious hobby.

DSC_0361-400WThen the next surprise came from my daughter’s netball club president who asked me, rather than just photographing her game, could I come down for a whole day and shoot every game of every team in the whole club. Fifteen teams, fifteen games. Yeah, no worries but I’ll have to stagger it across several weeks because, you know, battery, SD cards, other things to do besides shooting netball.

So, long story short (Oops! Too late!) This blog/website has changed “from Richard’s Ramblings” to “Richard Leonard – Words & Pictures” to reflect the writing and photography that are my two main hobbies. At the moment. This site will gradually change to support the new focus and brand.  The old blog is still there under the Richard’s Ramblings menu but I might remove some irrelevant posts when I get the time.

But to anyone who is interested, the writing continues, the novel is on its way to being finished, including the cover. I just want to take some time to improve my photography and provide services to people if I can.


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.


My Repair Frenzy

I’ve always told myself I’m no good with physical work. I seem better at and enjoy working more with “soft” things, theoretical things. I write software for a living and fiction as a hobby, play with digital photography and graphics a lot, and just discovered Blender for 3D modelling. All of this involves using a computer. Give me something real and physical to do and that’s when I also become very proficient at procrastinating because it usually ends in failure. Continue reading

A New Tax System: Summary

If you’re still with me you might be familiar with my last few posts describing my idea of a simplified tax system. Basically, we tax transactions of money in exchange for goods and services, between two tax paying entities . The tax consists of two components: Continue reading

A New tax System: Problems and Pitfalls

Despite all the brilliant-ness of this tax system, it has some shortcomings. Here I will try to cover all the problems I can think of before anyone else points them out!

The Rich are not singled out

One is that there is still argument that the rate at which the rich pay tax should be higher than for lower income people. This system does not address that except by allowing for a higher D-Factor on transactions favoured by the rich. Continue reading

A New Tax System: Possible Scenarios

Previously I discussed the selection of appropriate D-Factor values. In this post I will go over in more detail some of the unusual types of payments we make and explain how this tax system applies to those payments. I won’t talk about the standard payment for goods and services as they are straight-forward enough. Continue reading

A New Tax System: Selecting D-Factors

As I mentioned earlier, the system would allow for pre-sets. A complete set of D-Factors could be defined that was friendly to a particular sector of society. Different pre-sets could apply when economic conditions demand or allow them. Continue reading

A New tax System: Transitioning from Old to New

I have now described the theory and practice of this new tax system. Here I will clarify how we can integrate the system seamlessly with the old system.

Whenever there are changes to the tax system, you always find people who say “We’re worse off now than before!” Yeah well, you can’t please everybody all the time. And that’s usually because the changes are too abrupt. The government decides to tax him less and her more after July 1, so the changes will be sudden and potentially disruptive. Continue reading