Sunday, May 27, 2007

sleep no more

Monday I fronted up to the Job Net office for a short interview. This wasn't a job interview, it was an interview about a job, if you see the difference. Basically they wanted to see me so they knew whether or not to recommend me to their client.

I wore a clean white shirt, black trousers and a conservative tie. I probably looked like a supermarket manager.

At least I wasn't nervous - I seemed to have a little man in the back of my head ticking off all the things that they'd taught me about job interviews. Make eye contact (but don't stare). Don't give "yes" or "no" answers (but don't talk too much either). Sit up straight and pay attention (but don't look too stiff).

All those videos they showed us must have done some good, since the interviewer seemed to be impressed (she told me I had "a wealth of experience") and said she'd recommend me for an interview.

We shall see.

Wow I've been tired this month. And it doesn't take much to work out why. Having to get up at dawn to make it to the Job Centre course, I'm losing two hours sleep three times a week. That's the equivalent of a night's sleep every week.

Maybe I can take a nap before or after dinner every night. It would go some way to make up for it.

As it is, I'm only semi-conscious by the end of the day. Forget the random breath-testing, they should stop drivers and give them random sleep tests.

My sister is running out of stuff to read. This is no problem for her - she just waits for me to bring over a new lot of books.

I've tried taking her into book-shops to browse, but she just waves a hand and says "You know what I like." So another one of my unpaid jobs is family literary consultant (I used to do the same thing for my mother, who had similar but slightly different tastes in novels).

Maybe I'll trawl through the attic this week. There are several thousands books up there, of all ages, types and subjects. There are a lot of pre-war whodunits, which are a particular favourite of my sister, so I shouldn't have too much trouble in making up a bundle.

What a mixed bag the local weather has been this month. Just a few weeks ago, light winds and almost stationary cold fronts saw the city blanketed with fog. This week we've had unseasonally warm weather, and next Wednesday the Met Office is saying we may get highland snowfalls.

If I do end up getting a job out of all this, it's going to be hard to know what to wear for the day when I leave the house in the morning. (Yes, I know nearly everybody has that problem, but over the years I've never had to do much commuting so it's all pretty new to me.)

Last Sunday night I was listening to the Stained Glass Bluegrass music show on the web-site of WAMU Washington DC. Since they gave out their e-mail address several times, I fired off a note to them while I was listening.

About half an hour later, the deep-voiced compere announced that they'd had an e-mail from Michael in Tasmania, where it was almost midnight. (This must have surprised his listeners who were just sitting down to breakfast, but it was actually more to do with Time Zones than time-travel.)

The era of instant communication still amazes me. To think that I can tap a few keys on my laptop and only minutes later hear my words being read out live on a radio station in America.... that's mind-boggling to somebody who grew up in a decade in which sending a message to America required an airmail stamp and ten days of time.

Sign my Guestbook from
 Get your Free Guestbook from

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Call me Rev

Powerpoint presentations in church in place of the sermon are something I'm not used to yet. We had quite a reasonable talk with all that stuff flashed up on the wall, but I couldn't help feeling that it was a gesture to the modern attitude that you have to have something to look at while you listen.

I suspect that this would make it difficult to interest the younger generation in the art of the radio play where you have absolutely nothing to distract the eye.

At least it kept people's minds off the fact that the church bulletin was in a right old mess this week. Between ill-health and some disturbing news, none of us had been 100% on that day and I had managed to reverse the details of the morning and evening services.

This led to a flurry of e-mails with corrections and corrections of corrections. I hate to think how many electrons were sacrificed in this cause.

I'm into my second week at the Job Centre and I'm beginning to get the hang of it. I'm glad that I didn't have to go through all this when I was the age that some of these job-seekers are.

Next week I have to go and see one of the other employment services. It's not a job interview, but it's an interview about a job if you get the difference. I presume the middleman wants to see if I'm worth recommending to their client.

When was the last time I had to go to a job interview? I think it would have been 1988 -- when I was probably a little more presentable than I am today. Older, heavier, less healthy.

Well, it will be interesting anyway.

But if my financial and medical status is below average, at least my spiritual standing has received a boost. Yes, thanks to clicking on that button on their web-site, I am now a duly ordained minister of the Universal Life Church (head office: Modesto California -- where else?).

I trust that my fellow citizens will treat me with the deference my new status is deserving of.

It might be best if you didn't mention this to any of the people at my church. I'm not sure they'd understand.....

I've go to admit that episode 4 of the TV show Primeval was quite amazing. The dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures in previous episodes looked convincing, but we've become used to that in this age of computer animation. But the scenes where the escaping dodos were running around while the heroes tried to capture them was mind-boggling.

Top marks to the special effects wizards. It looked completely real, though we knew intellectually that it couldn't possibly be happening.

In the modern world, I'm afraid seeing isn't believing!

Sign my Guestbook from
 Get your Free Guestbook from

Thursday, May 10, 2007

schooled for work

I won't pretend it wasn't unsettling to find myself at a job training centre at my time of life. My only past experience with employment services was hiring people from them. Now I found myself in a room with a gaggle of other clients, most of them young enough to be my grandchildren.

I find it a bit hard to explain why I felt so uncomfortable. Certainly I was outside my comfort zone -- it felt a little like being back in school, with elements of an airport waiting lounge.

One of the problems was that the class was full of all sorts of people. Some old, some young, some experienced, some newcomers. The staff weren't able to tailor their lessons to any particular level and it was difficult to work out what we were supposed to be doing.

I ended up getting most of my information from one of the older women (OK, she was probably a couple of years younger than me). She explained how things worked and showed me how to log on to the Jobsearch website, even though she'd never used a computer herself until a week ago.

She was unimpressed by the mixing of ages in the same class. "Some of us are here because we want to be here, some of us are only here because they have to be. And some of the girls...well, just let's say my daughter seems like a little angel in comparison!"

I was sorry she was leaving the next day for a job in the northern suburbs. She was a real help to me.

Six hours seemed like a long time inside that place. Staring at computer screens filled with lists of jobs, poring over pages photocopied from the newspaper classified ads, watching videos of how to behave at interviews.

I was getting a headache by the end of my first day. It didn't help that about three days beforehand I'd come down with my first head cold of the year. On Sunday, I could swear that every time I tilted my head I could sense fluid sloshing around inside my skull. Sleeping was difficult too, which doesn't help when you need to get up at dawn. In short, I wasn't at my best.

The weird part about it all is that I still get to go to my regular job two days a week -- then the other three days a week I have to make like I'm looking for work. The ways of bureaucracy can be strange.

One week down, three weeks to go.


Last Friday night the Moonah Arts Centre presented an evening guaranteed to please the nostalgic. "Broadway: Strangers in Paradise" was put on by soprano Charlotte McKercher and tenor Michael Kregor accompanied by pianist Shirley Trembath.

The songs they chose were a mix of the familiar and the obscure. They began with songs from South Pacific and My Fair Lady, and ended with Show Boat and Kismet.

In between we heard Kurt Weill songs from Lady In The Dark and Street Scene, a bracket of Stephen Sondheim songs from the 1970s and songs from musicals we'd never heard of like Jekyll And Hyde, The Secret Garden, Wonderful Town and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Great stuff - even the Sondheim songs were good and you may have noticed I'm not a fan.


The mice are still a problem in the house. One evening
recently I was walking past the sitting room and from out in the hall I could hear a ferocious gnawing sound. A few minutes searching and I discovered an Easter egg forgotten from years ago. The mouse's attempts to get through the cardboard and plastic surrounding it had resulted in an unbelievable amount of noise for such a tiny rodent.


Old Time Radio shows that I've listened to this week:
Abbott & Costello, The Whistler, Words at War, Fibber McGee & Molly, Jack Benny, The Falcon, X Minus One, Dragnet, Bill Stern's Sports Newsreel and Sherlock Holmes.

Sign my Guestbook from
 Get your Free Guestbook from

Saturday, May 05, 2007

consternation by moonlight

Full moon

The full moon shines down on all of us, on the personal tragedies and the small triumphs of everyday life.

Wednesday morning it took us a couple of hours to bury one of Julie's dogs. Tai succumbed to an unsuspected tumour and it was little consolation to hear the vet say she'd never seen a Shar Pei live to that age before.

In the afternoon I had an appointment at that big federal office building in Collins Street. I've stayed out of the welfare system ever since I stopped receiving the Carer Allowance, but now I was putting my toe into the waters of the unemployment system.

They told me they would pay me some money each fortnight -- not a fortune but more than I expected -- and I would also receive a Healthcare card. That would certainly be welcome; it would cut out most of the charges for my medication.

But there's no such thing as a free lunch. Not only did I get a little Job Seeker Diary, but on Friday I had to see the Steps Employment Service. This was a further step into the system: they said I'd be doing a training course on how to look for work, five days a week for three weeks.

"It takes three weeks to learn that?" I said and they nodded. So I guess I'll just have to get used to the new routine.

It seems there's no such thing as being slightly unemployed, any more than being slightly pregnant. You're either in the system or out of it. And it looks like I'll be in it from now on. Stay tuned for more news.

The television show Primeval made its first appearance on Australian TV on Saturday night. It's not that great a show (although I would have loved it when I was 14!) but what intrigued me was the scheduling of it.

You see, the Nine Network has had a perfectly shocking record when it comes to screening science-fiction in recent years. Brand new episodes of Star Trek were routinely screened at 1 o'clock in the morning some years.

It will be interesting to see if they persist with it. Their demographic usually skews to the older end of the graph but after all it is Saturday night.

London Rhythm is heard on Fridays at 9 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. (that's Cincinatti time so the Friday evening show is heard just before lunch here in Australia). I always enjoy tuning in over the Internet on

Alan and Judy Seeger, always fans of the Big Bands, began collecting vintage recordings of London dance bands and West-End stars in the 1960s when they were in England making television featurettes. Their collection of classic British recordings was the starting point of their WMKV radio program, London Rhythm.

The show features Pre-Beatles pop music from the English Music Hall to the TV age with emphasis on the great London Dance bands of the ‘30s and ‘40s.

The Seegers have lived in New York City for more than 40 years where they produced and/or directed over 400 films and television programs.

About WMKV

The latest article on blogs

Sign my Guestbook from
 Get your Free Guestbook from