Friday, October 31, 2008

Scraping the barrel base

Just something to post that I don't have to think too much about. I have been assured by an esteemed blogger that this is a spam site. It may well be, but it also has legitimate writing. I would be less than honest if I said I had anymore than had a quick peruse. I decided to respond to the auto generated request because I thought I might educate some Pakistani people in the ways of the wicked west, and of course fly the gay flag. (there's your chance to bite Robert). Be aware that if you make a comment here, you may well get an invitation. Treat it as you would any other spam, but there are no ongoing repercussions. The gay Aussie interview generated zero responses.

Interview with Blogger Andrew

By The Pakistani Spectator • Aug 16th, 2008 • Category: Interviews • (3,534 views) • No Responses

Would you please tell us something about you and your site?

My blog heading: My public diary, not my private one. Take it as fact at your risk. I am gay and I live with my long time partner in a highrise apartment in inner Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

I am almost middle age, I work full time shift work, we have a few close friends and reasonably close to family both here in Australia and back in England.

I have always been a letter writer and I can probably express myself better with the written word, rather than the spoken. I started reading other peoples blogs and found I was making long comments, so I started my own blog. What I write about is very varied and sometimes personal. It is my public diary.

Do you feel that you continue to grow in your writing the longer you write? Why is that important to you?

I think my writing has improved since I started writing a blog, others may not agree. Comments by others on what I have written often cause me to look at a matter from a different angle. It almost goes without saying that to improve oneself must be a positive thing.

I’m wondering what some of your memorable experiences are with blogging?

I once wrote about about some girls who I saw having difficulty when canoeing. I was on a bridge above them and snapped some pics with my phone and of course wrote about it. Sometime later I received an email from India from a person who was friend of one of the girls and she had come across the post. Another time I realised that the owner of a blog I had been reading for quite some time had served me in a shop when she was a teenager some fifteen or twenty years ealier. Co-incidences seem to happen quite often.

What do you do in order to keep up your communication with other bloggers?

Mostly by commenting on their blogs. While it is not intentional and I have had opportunities, I have not personally met anyone new via my blog, but no doubt one day I will. Odd working hours prevents me going to some social events, including get togethers by blog writers. I am in direct touch via email or sms with a few of who I call my blog mates.

What do you think is the most exciting or most innovative use of technology in politics right now?
Direct email lists by political parties. I am on a political party’s direct email list and the information and news can be overwhelming. It could never be done by conventional mail.

Do you think that these new technologies are effective in making people more responsive?

Undoubtedly. It is a brave politician or bureaucrat who tries to indulge in overt deception and corruption in my country. If an official does something I don’t approve of or agree with, I might not take the trouble to sit down and write a letter, but it is very easy to type and send an email. Leaders can pick up the mood of people by what is said in emails, even if only their advisors read them

What do you think sets Your site apart from others?

I would like to say its brilliance, but really not very much, although sometimes I think I make too many posts and perhaps overwhelm people, but when something is half written in my head, it is better to get it out there. So if anything, volume but that is sporadic. One day four posts, the next day none.

If you could choose one characteristic you have that brought you success in life, what would it be?

I am not sure that I am particularly successful. I survive which is I suppose is a success. I guess I try to look for what is the motive behind a person when they do something wrong, rather than instantly judging them. I then feel better about things if I can see a motive. For example, if an acquaintance was nasty to me for no apparent reason, I ask myself have I unintentionally offended them in some way?

What was the happiest and gloomiest moment of your life?

I am pretty emotionally even, so I really can’t recall being delirious happy or terribly sad. Cruelty to animals or to humans in no position to defend themselves depresses me.

If you could pick a travel destination, anywhere in the world, with no worries about how it’s paid for - what would your top 3 choices be?

If the bills are paid, anywhere will do. I would like to see more of England. Brazil appeals to me, as does Sri Lanka because it would be an easier taste of the subcontinent than India or Pakistan.

What is your favorite book and why?

I think it would be The Cousin from Fiji by Australian author, Norman Lindsay. It is not at all intellectual, just a great read and it tells of earlier times in Australia.

What’s the first thing you notice about a person (whether you know them or not)?

Their clothes at first, but I quickly focus on the way someone walks. That is, do they carry themselves well? Big or tiny, tall or short, I like people to move and act gracefully.

Is there anyone from your past that once told you you couldn’t write?

Not that I can recall. I would hope people would encourage others to write and improve, rather than focus on how good or bad they may be.

How bloggers can benefit from blogs financially?

They can sell their souls to the devil and have paid advertising on their site. For me a blog is pleasure only, untainted by any commercial interest. I hope that doesn’t sound too smug.

Is it true that who has a successful blog has an awful lot of time on their hands?

Clearly they don’t have a lot of time on their hands if they have a successful blog. A successful blog does not fall from the sky. It takes time and commitment. To write about things, you need to experience them or to learn about them. From my observations, bloggers are very busy people. As an old saying goes, if you want something done in a hurry, then ask a busy person to do it.

What role can bloggers of the world play to make this world more friendlier and less hostile?

I don’t think personal blogs have much impact. On a personal level, I have learnt a lot about other countries that I could never have known by reading books or daily media, so it would give people a better understanding of other countries and cultures. If you treat others in the blog world with respect and politeness, you do set a good example. You may not agree with what people write, but that is not a reason to be rude.

Who are your top five favourite bloggers?

I don’t want to make a list and offend anyone who I may not mention and I have truly made some great connections with nice and interesting people. I will just say that below is the first blog I started reading perhaps nine years ago, and I am still reading it today,

and for a good education about Australia, an honourable mention for this one,

Plenty of effort goes into both of the above blogs.

Is there one observation or column or post that has gotten the most powerful reaction from people?

It is difficult to remember a single instance, but often just a simple and brief post can provoke the most comments. The are some areas to write about that will be guaranteed to get comments flowing, but the subject does not necessarily have to be controversial. Oddly, a post that might take me a long time to write and/or research, may barely receive a comment, whereas as a couple of lines about something that has annoyed me on that day, could get a huge response. There aren’t any rules about reaction, although writing race and religion can be quite provocative

What is your perception about Pakistan and its people?

It is only a view from afar, distilled by media, but I think it is a country being pulled in many directions by people with different aims and ideals. It is the poorest Pakistani people who suffer the most.

Have you ever become stunned by the uniqueness of any blogger?

I can’t say that I have ever come across a blog writer who is unique. In a way though, we are all unique.

What is the most striking difference between a developed country and a developing country?

Open corruption in developing countries comes straight to my mind. I am not foolish enough to think that corruption does not happen in developed countries, but it is not a daily part of most people’s lives.

What is the future of blogging?

I am not sure. It won’t disappear but may become less popular. Blogs written by professional journalists are relatively new and interesting but I like my news and opinion from the old media such as newspapers, television and radio.

You have also got a blogging life, how has it directly affected both your personal and professional life?

By educating me about some things and stimulating my interest in others, both professionally and personally. But I tend to keep my personal life separate from my blog, although I write about it at times.

What are your future plans?

Nothing beyond the usual. Hopefully to be able to continue to live much as I now do.

Any Message you want to give to the readers of The Pakistani Spectator?

We are all human yet all different, and we must try to tolerate each other’s differences. While don’t do it to your ultimate peril, do try to stand up for what is right and never accept in your head something which is inherently wrong.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Overcrowded Car Bumps a Pole

If you saw the picture, which I can't seem to locate at the moment, you will note that the car was 'totalled', that is, destroyed to the extreme, and I think it was only because it hit the pole square on, and so the pole intruded into the middle of the car, that the result wasn't worse.

When I first heard the news of a crash with eight people in a very small car, I thought South East Asian. Nah, they are mostly proper Australians now and we need to look to our newest immigrants, the Sudanese.

Just three weeks ago, R and I were travelling along Stud Road near Dandenong and I was feeling very uncomfortable while at the wheel. In front of us was a crowded car full of African immigrants but that the car was very crowded did not impact on me until later. What I saw was two of the guys in the back who kept turning around and looking at us. I kind of knew they were looking out for something or someone but paranoia was setting in big time for me. They were looking at us, for whatever reason, and I had fear that they would stop dead and we would be trapped.

I am not so feint of heart usually. I have wandered the dark sois of Bangkok late at night. I have had fun under a bridge in Vietnam while listening for the footsteps of the police. Agro and charged skinheads on the London Tube, no problem. I get constantly hassled by drug addicts and beggars when I am out and about. My work involves a lot of contact with a lot of low life.

But never have I felt so threatened than I did when there were six dudes along a back seat of a car in Stud Road, Dandenong, with two of them staring at us.

I suppose it is a typical racist response, fear of the unknown, but I can't see me exploring the streets of Dandenong in the near future. I need to get to know some Sudanese I think, but they don't live nearby and I don't work with any.

As for the accident, a car full of eight people, with probably three not wearing seat belts, late at night is a disaster waiting to happen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Diwali

Diwali time again. Actually, the day was yesterday, the 28th. We celebrated last Saturday night with a a few Indian and non Indian friends. Normally there are ten thousand candles burning for Diwali at our friend's house, but this year he decided on a private lighting up on the actual day. It was a warm night, so we were relieved.

Must be time again for a chuckle at some Indian expressions.

I have mentioned in the past about how at my workplace when a relative of an Indian workmate dies, a notice is put up on the public notice board, such as 'Our sympathy to Denzel who has lost his mother'. As I said, I have mentioned it before and I can't say much more than Denzel is known to be paticularly careless.

'Where is D?' we asked of our Indian friend once. 'He is around the backside', was the reply. He meant in the back garden. We couldn't help but snort in amusement.

A very distant relative back in Fiji of our Indian friend received a 'bump' from a motor car. Expecting details of a bruised leg, I was surprised that a mere bump was fatal.

Another workmate one. I asked him if he was working the next day and he told he wasn't and was going home to have a peg or two. For some reason I know what a peg is, but no one else I have asked does. Put your hand up if you know.

And the last from a while ago. We were in D's car with his Indian boyfriend, with R and myself in the back seat. A car cut in front of D, and Indian boyfriend yelled out, 'Horn him D', meaning to sound the horn. We just fell completely apart, and it was just as funy when we told some other friends. It has now slipped into our lingo.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Out and About in St Kilda #10

St Kilda's community vegetable garden in the area known as The Peanut Farm is a treasure but I never see anyone working there, although people obviously do. In England they are called allotments. No matter, they are a marvellous way to bring people together.

Applauding Oneself

Ah, me and my funny old fashioned ideas. How does the old phrase go? Self praise is no recommendation?

The same ought to go for applause. It is now almost standard practice on tv game shows and quiz shows for winners to applaud themselves. Yes, we know you are good because you won, but leave the appreciation to us. No, I don't want you to bow while we applaud, but a little humility would be nice. Next thing they will be throwing a fist up into the air, another unfortunate form of self praise.

Greed is good, winning is all.

Bah, bad mood today. Must be the christmas cake brandy I had last night.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Depressing and Rain Man Update

Well, with September being our driest September on record, October is heading the same way.

Nothing depresses me more than seeing our grass turn brown by October, our traditionally wettest month. Our local councils do precious little to save our public gardens and nature strips. Our state government does precious little in the short term to help.

The State's answer is an energy hungry desalination plant and a pipe to take water from the north of the state where they are more affected by drought than we are.

Meanwhile, our sewerage water just flows out to sea after being treated and our stormwater just flows down the drains and into the sea also.

Blessington Street Gardens used to be so beautiful, but I left there after a quick walk through today even more depressed. Rain Man had been switched off, there was very little water in the pond and what was there looked foul.

Best I stick to bitumen, concrete and the sea when I am out and about.

Lucient Arises

The highrise apartment building known as Lucient at 430 St Kilda Road has almost been completed. We move in soon. Just kidding. A total realisation of everything we own and we could barley afford an apartment. It is a high quality building and we are clearly in the worst house in the best street. The rear penthouse has a massive terrace and most apartments have what is called a Winter Garden, not at all like Blackpool's Winter Garden. Essentially they are glassed in balconies with huge louvre windows. I will take some more pics of the front of the building soon.

It peeks over the top of Illoura.

The ANL building is dissapearing and I can no longer wave to Hawkeye.

The height has been reached and we have lost our view of Fitzroy Street.

The cladding goes on.

And that's your bloomin' lot. Finis.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Bogan Moths are Back

Ex Premier Kennett would probably call them bogan moths, but we all know them as bogong moths. They seem to like high rise living very much and our apartment especially.

Bogong moths are so named because they like to spend the summer in cool areas like the Bogong High Plains. There they cluster in huge numbers and have so much body fat, they don't need to eat for months. All this fat made them damn fine eating for our indigenous peoples and they would have feasts of roasted moths.

They navigational skills are not well suited to the modern age and are often off course after being attracted by bright lights or sometimes blown by wind.

On some warm summer evenings, you can see gulls circling the well lit spire of Melbourne's Arts Centre. They are not just taking exercise but feasting on bogong moths attracted to the light.

In the seventies, they caused lift failure in a new and brightly lit building in Canberra and the new Parliament House in Canberra had to have its lighting reduced and air intakes modified after moths thought it was a fine place to lodge.

Even Sydney's Olympics weren't immune. Who could forget the opening ceremony when a moth landed on an opera singer as she was performing. Oh, you have forgotten.

As I wrote, they like the highrise and come in the open door or when a window is open at night. R hates them around. I only hate them when they fly into my face or alarm me when say I am folding towels after they have dried on the clothes hoist and one flies out. R takes murderous revenge, whereas a good Buddhist like myself, shoos them out the door or grabs them in cupped hands to chuck them outside.

It does amuse me though when birds fly up to our windows to grab a moth that is resting in shady place during the day.

I suppose they are a pest but a native one at least, and so are locusts and it would seem they will be in plague proportions this year, although they tend not to get this far south.

Pic courtesy University of Sydney