To Boldly Go Where No Tablet Has Gone Before

A few years ago Omaha’s cable provider made the switch from analog to all-digital television. The basic subscription package offers around a hundred television channels and thirty plus music channels. But you need to rent one of their digital receiver mini boxes for each one of your analog television sets to be part of their new cable digital revolution. I dread to think of what you’ll need to do when you get rid of one of your analog television sets and upgrade to a smart TV; undoubtedly install, and configure some type of Artificial Intelligence box to descramble the cable digital services signal so it’s compatible with an internet-ready 4K Ultra HD smart TV.

image source:jmcadam

I remember back when watching TV was simple. In Melbourne, there were three stations to choose from, and they only broadcast from nine in the morning until signing off at ten at night. The stations signed off with a film montage of the queen inspecting her guard, riding her horse, walking through the countryside, and an exterior of Buckingham Palace; the montage ended with the Australian flag flying in the wind against a lightly clouded sky. God Save the Queen played throughout the montage. The three channels broadcast a black and white test pattern until their morning sign-on. Without having many choices you never made a bad decision in deciding what to watch; we felt self-satisfied with our healthy viewing habits. The Mavis Bramston Show, Pick a Box, and Demonstrations in Physics were some of my favourite shows.

With the start-up of a fourth station and twenty-four hours a day of on-air broadcasting in vibrant colour, the viewing choices exponentially multiplied and became even more choices. But the newness of colour, and having too many viewing choices wore off. The risk of making a careless choice caused one not to choose, and watching television became a mindless exercise; it was also the seventies, and there were other thoughtful mindless distractions.

image source:jmcadam

Our cable providers basic digital television package is an overwhelming deluge of choices. I’m nervous and fidgety when I chose something to watch, and I worry as to if I’ve made the wrong choice; was there something better on one of the other hundred channels. I’m wracked with the indecision of choice overload; and so I’ve chosen to watch television in the same mindless trance that I watched GTV-9, HSV-7, ATV-0, and ABC-2 back when in Melbourne. A few nights ago I was watching the nightly national news in a numb stupor. The TV was a nice fuzzy out of focus glow; I find this an enjoyable way to watch the evening news. I sat content in my television induced stupor, hearing a muffled and toneless drone from the TV

A new year and another new recall of blood pressure medication. Aurobindo Pharma announced it is taking off store shelves 80 lots of its Amlodipine Valsartan. Aurobindo said it hasn’t received any reports yet of adverse patient reactions to their products.

And I thought, how thoughtless of the makers of Amlodipine not to advertise their drug on television; they’d have been obliged to warn about the possible side effects of taking Amlodipine. How often do we hear at the end of a commercial for a pharmaceutical treatment for erectile dysfunction, plaque psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, atrial fibrillation and stroke prevention, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis that it may cause serious allergic reactions, or could have side effects such as serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts, new or worsening depression, unusual changes in mood or behaviour, swelling, trouble breathing, hives, blisters, blurry vision, muscle pain with fever, rashes, constipation, heartburn, bladder dysfunction, tired feeling, skin sores, dizziness, sleepiness, headache, morning drowsiness, weight gain, and swelling of the hands, or legs and feet, and tongue or throat?

I remember back when taking a tablet for a headache, upset stomach, heartburn, or any ache or pain was as simple as swallowing an Aspro, taking a Vincent’s, or having a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down; and you didn’t worry about any unusual changes in mood or behaviour, swelling, trouble breathing, rashes, hives, or blisters. Aspro, Bex, and Vincent’s used to be the big three analgesics in Australia.


Aspro was simply asprin, and Bex and Vincents contained aspirin, phenacetin, and caffeine. During the fifties and sixties, Bex was advertised in all the ladies magazines as a panacea for calming down. And it worked; aunts, mums, and sisters discovered a better living through chemistry. Dissolving a Bex in a cup of tea became a common thing, and some women were consuming Bex and Vincent’s in addictive amounts; they became known as mothers little helper. In the seventies, phenacetin was linked to kidney and bladder cancers, and Bex and Vincent’s were banned. Aspro, with only aspirin as an active ingredient, has stood the test of time and today it is readily available in any chemist, supermarket, or online.

In the early twenties, the Nicholas company built an Art Deco style, ten-story, office building in Melbourne’s Swanson Street as a speculative investment. The Nicholas building isn’t on the must-see list of many Melbourne tourists, but it houses what I think is one of the most glamorous deco heritage arcades in the city; a highlight is the magnificent stained glass and leadlight archways that lead into the central dome. The ten stories of the building are a warren of galleries, studios and boutiques; some would say it’s one of Melbourne’s vertical laneways.

image source:jmcadam

I started to hear once again the muffled and toneless drone from the flickering television screen and was jolted back to reality

Amlodipine Valsartan has been found to contain the chemical N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) which the Food and Drug Administration has classified as a probably human carcinogen.

I’ve been taking Amlodipine for the last couple of years, and it’s now a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue.

For some time now I’ve been visiting my doctor twice a year for standard check-ups. He likes to monitor my blood pressure, and once a year take a blood sample to check the Uric Acid level in my blood and do a lipid profile to measure cholesterol and triglyceride levels. During a recent visit, he recommended that I have a chest CT; explaining that persons of my age, and who in the past had spent years smoking, have a reasonable chance of developing cancer. The initial scan revealed an indeterminate right upper lobe pulmonary nodule. A follow-up scan was scheduled; a scan with a different type of radiation.

image source:jmcadam

I walked into the reception area of The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, panicked that I was already five minutes late for my follow up CT scan, and gave the associate my name and appointment time. She spent some time searching a computer appointment data base. I confirmed my name several times, and she kept searching. After I handed her my printed appointment confirmation and scheduled, she smiled and explained I was at the wrong building; I should have been at least two miles away. She kindly called upstairs and located a scanning machine that was now available; after all, it was The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

Me: g’day
CT Machine Technician: If you wouldn’t mind just lying down on the bed
Me: (with a nervous tone) They said I was getting a different type of radiation this time
CT Machine Technician: Yep
Me: (in a playful manner) Probably higher frequency EMFs; something in the ionizing radiation part of the electromagnetic spectrum
CT Machine Technician: Just like being scanned 200,000 times at an airport
Me: (in a joking way) They scan for cancer at airports?
CT Machine Technician: (checking numbers on a screen) Not really
Me: (attempting humour) What about a fluoroscopy outside a shoe shop?
CT Machine Technician: Take a deep breath and hold it
Me: Umm, you’re leaving the room

The CT Machine Technician helped me up from my prone horizontal position on the scanning machine bed and ushered me down the hallway to the way out. I took a lift to the fourth floor and the Chihuly Sanctuary. The Chihuly Sanctuary is a collection of health care environment structures created by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly and is a cornerstone of the Center’s Healing Arts Program. It’s a cool program; creating various art environments throughout the Center to support and comfort people. I sat on a circular bench in the large open cone and looked up. I became absorbed in the light playing off the sculptured crystal sconces; a similar but different light from the fuzzy out of focus television screen, and the stained glass and leadlight archways of the Cathedral arcade.

image source:jmcadam

The Center’s ten-story building isn’t on the must-see list of many Omaha tourists. The Cancer Hospital along with the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the Durham and SAC Museums, Fort Omaha, and the Old Market, is on our sightseeing guided tour for any of our friends and visitors who want to see the attractions of Omaha. A highlight of the tour is the but the two-storey Chihuly Sanctuary; home to ten remarkable flowers and nature-inspired art pieces.

You’ll have to excuse me; I think I just heard the clothes washer finish it’s spin cycle so I’ll need to go and put the clothes in the dryer. But before I do, I need to check my Amlodipine to see if there’s a warning about driving or operating heavy machinery, or if any possible side effects include hallucinations or confusion.


Chihuly Sanctuary

Nicholas Building Association

History of Australian Television

Standing in the Corner Watching Television

If it weren’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners. Johnny Carson (1925 – 2005)

I really didn’t grow up with television. I first saw television from the footpath outside the windows of the Patersons Furniture Store in Ferguson Street, Williamstown. It was a small black and white television; at that time thought of to be extremely large, and I together with a large crowd that spilled onto the road watched as former 3DB radio announcer Geoff Corke who later was known as Corkey King Of The Kids introduced GTV9’s first test television broadcast: Everything’s fine on GTV Channel 9. We watched the black and white static mesmerized. The 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games were broadcast as a test transmission. Australia did well at those games; Murray Rose won three gold medals in swimming, and Betty Cuthbert became the Golden Girl by winning three gold medals in track.


It seemed as if every shop window had a television set in it and every television was showing a black and white grainy image. The footpaths became congested places. I only knew that television sets cost a lot of money. Programming was only for a few hours each day and the test pattern was broadcast for the rest of the time that the three channels were on air; Melbourne had GTV channel nine and HSV channel seven and the government channel ABC channel two. So we were like many families and didn’t get a television when they first came out. Each afternoon after getting home from school and before tea I would sit glued to the wireless listening to the Air Adventures of Biggles, Superman, and the Adventures of the Sea Hound. Sometimes we would have a special night out: the family was invited to friends of mum and dad’s up the street to watch television.


After tea, we would walk animated up Peel Street and do all we could to contain our anticipation and excitement. We would only stay and watch TV for a couple of hours: bedtime was early for me and my brother and besides television stopped broadcasting around ten o’clock. Sometimes we would stay and watch the test pattern; it always followed the playing of God Save the Queen and the Australian flag.

And then we got a television set. The inside layout of our house in Peel Street was typical of a lot of houses built in the early nineteen hundreds. It had a central passageway with my mum and dad’s bedroom and lounge room in the front of the house and a few steps down the passage opposite the dining room the bedroom I shared with my brother. The kitchen was at the end of the passageway and a spare room that became my bedroom was off the dining room.

Peel Street
Lounge Room
Peel-st Peel-st-lounge-room Peel-st-passage

The lounge room was reserved for entertaining guests; it had a couch and a couple of large soft chairs and a glass door cabinet that housed and displayed my mother’s crystal, silverware, and other collectables. His Master Voice television sat supreme in the lounge room; the tube and those big valves were inside a honey-coloured wood cabinet that was on legs. My mother insisted that we had to turn the volume down when we turned the tuner knob to change channels otherwise we would break something.

Nanna and Granddad would walk down Peel Street after tea from Eliza Street every weekday night and stay until about 9:00 o’clock before walking back home to bed: just as we used to walk some nights up Peel Street years ago to watch TV. Nanna would sit at the kitchen table and do the Australian Post crossword while my mum sewed, ironed or knitted. Mum would sneak words into the crossword while she ate her dinner and at other times during the day. The Australian Post was a weekly picture magazine and was read by all of Australia; it was a curious blend of scandal, human interest stories, sensationalism, entertainment and pin-up photos. You always read last weeks and earlier Post’s when waiting for a haircut at the barber’s shop. While the ladies spent their time in the kitchen granddad sat with me in the lounge room. I’d stretch out on the couch and he would sit in a chair to soak up the television. I didn’t understand it at the time but within twenty minutes his head would drop to his chest and he would be asleep.

image source:pixabay

We always thought that cousin Bruce was too young to play in the paddock or go with us on Market Day to the Dandenong Market. Years later he would take the Blue Harris from Dandenong and stay for a few days of the school holidays with Nanna in Eliza Street. He would walk down Peel Street and together we allowed both of our young teenage minds to be shaped by daytime television; we watch it all afternoon.

That was the last that I remember of strenuously watching television. I do remember Eric Pearce announcing the Cuban Blockade. I was drifting into my teenage and professional student years and was deciding to watch sometimes only cool television. I entered the world of change and uncertainty; rock and roll, sixties and seventies women, alcoholic oblivion, The Masters’ Apprentices, The Twilights, and more: I gave little thought to television until London. Friday nights in London became must be home by 10:00 pm to watch Monty Python Show and must also be home on other nights to watch the Benny Hill Show and Steptoe and Son.

Kitchen Sink OWH

image source:johnmcadam

In 1991 the television show Everything but the Sink was created. It was broadcast on an educational television channel: the channel was one of the public, educational, and government access channels in Omaha provided by the cable franchising authority contacting with a city. The set was a 1960’s kitchen in limbo. I talked to my guests, read the paper, watched television, ate doughnuts and drank coffee. It became an Omaha cult favourite. I did radio talk shows and the daily paper tried to explain Everything but the Sink.

Everything But the Sink
Playful Talk Radio

People still recognize me and acknowledge the program 25 years later. I suppose I was some sort of video viral blowout before YouTube and on-demand high definition digital video started narrowcasting across inter-connected devices. I wonder if all those people who watched the Sink were trying to become active participants in the stories that unfolded in the kitchen.

I still remember the great 1979 movie Being There; adapted from the 1970 novella by Jerzy Kosinski. Chance is a simple-minded, middle-aged, man and has lived his whole life gardening. Other than gardening, everything he knows has been learnt entirely from what he has seen and sees on television. When his benefactor the Old Man is discovered dead Chance is told by the lawyers that he must leave the townhouse he lives in so he packs a suitcase of clothes and takes his remote control and heads out into the world.

Maybe Grandad fell asleep in front of the television so he would forever hear God Save the Queen and watch the test pattern, or maybe he was channelling the concept for the future 1980 studio album Glass Houses and the lyrics for Sleeping with the Television On to a teenage Billy Joel.


I’m going to try going to sleep watching my smartphone.

Skyhooks Horror Movie

The Twilight Zone

Being There