the WAFFLE page

August 31, 2010. If I hadn't seen this vid of a bloke doing tricks on a BMX bike, I wouldn't have believed it. Just amazing.

Well, the power company blokes arrived at about 8am and by 9am I had a new connecting wire installed from the street power pole to the house. Power was cut for an hour but that was cool. The old wire was only 10 years old but was not UV protected, so cracking had occurred. Big time boo-boo by the previous installers. According to the new installers, the new wire should last 50 years. They're covering an area from Bulahdelah down south to Coffs Harbor in the north, and that's a BIG area! Must be costing the power company a fortune. But guess who ends up paying for it?

Strawberries. Magic little things. I bought a punnet on spesh the other day and because there's no one else here in the house I ate the bloody lot! And guess what? For years I've had a thing where phlegm or mucus - not sure which one - builds up in my lungs overnight and causes quite a bit of coughing in the mornings. I've gotten used to it. But since eating the strawberries, the coughing has almost disappeared! Yeah... amazed me too. So today I bought another 2 punnets @ $2 each. I used to take Vitamin C tablets but they say that those things go through the system without being absorbed properly. Obviously that doesn't happen with fresh strawberries. Soooo, strawbs will definitely be on the menu for as long as I live. 

So there I was in the backyard photographing strawberries - artistically, of course - when the postie arrived with a package from Ohio. Now who could that be? Ah ha! ANOTHER T-shirt from Sean. But this time it's a Provincetown T... so I'm gonna comment on Justin's blog about that. I went next door to the financial advisor's place and asked him if he'd use my camera to take a pic of me holding up the Provincetown T. The bloke next door thinks I'm a bit of a loonie anyway, so it didn't matter.

Ohio Sean also wrote his usual letter to inform me about what's going on in his life and the lives of his rellos and friends. All is well. He says for the first time in his life he's out of school "unless I get a job teaching". He'd like to teach science cos that's what he has a degree in. Isn't that wonderful? I think science is totally kewl. Actually, Sean is totally kewl as well. The guy has been sending me T shirts forever. Fair dinkum, I got so many they don't all fit into the damn wardrobe! Onya, Sean... you're a pretty special guy. And thank you. Thanks also to June and Jace for the card and the green thing.

Actually the card was a bit cheeky. On the front a dog wearing a party hat says "It's Your Birthday so Open..." So then you open it and the dog says, "Again!" Okay, so you open it again and the dog says, "Lift!" Sheesh. So you lift it and the dog says, "Thought you could use a little exercise to help keep you in shape! (It's important at your age y'know!)

See what I mean about cheeky?

Oh yes... the strawberries.

Beeb time: Engineers in Chile have begun drilling the rescue shaft through which they hope to eventually free the 33 men trapped in a collapsed gold mine. The miners have been stuck 700m (2,300ft) underground for the past three weeks. Officials say it could take up to four months for the tunnel to be completed and the men to be winched out. Some of the miners have developed fungal infections and body sores in the hot conditions underground. A huge Australian-made "Strata 950" excavator began work late on Monday evening. Ooer! The Aussies are in there! Anyway, I wish the guys well and hope they get through this horrible ordeal sooner rather than later. Mexican police detain top drug trafficker Edgar "Barbie" Valdez, wanted in the US on cocaine charges, the attorney general says. I watched a story on Oz TV last night about the Mr Bigs of the Aussie drug trade. It's the same the world over. Assholes. Hurricane Earl, strengthens to a Category Four storm while moving through the eastern Caribbean, prompting warnings for several islands and worries it might hit the US. I've been lucky enough never to have experienced anything like that... and I hope I never do. South Korea has made its first offer of aid to North Korea since it accused the North of sinking a South Korean warship in March. South Korea's Red Cross has offered to send 10 billion won ($8.3 m, £5.3m) worth of flood aid to North Korea. Naturally, you have to wonder if the North would respond likewise to a natural catastrophe in the South. I doubt it. Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard has rejected the idea of a new election to avoid a hung parliament. In her first major speech since elections on 21 August failed to deliver a clear winner, she said she could offer stability. Four independent members of parliament appear to hold the balance of power amid some talk of holding a new vote. The count continues, as the margin of victory between the governing Labor and opposition remains too close to call. Ms Gillard outlined a "new political landscape" in her speech to the National Press Club in Canberra. Gillard schmillard. Next! A French climber, known as 'Spiderman', is facing charges after scaling a 57-storey building in Australia. Alain Robert was arrested by police when he reached the top of the building in Sydney without ropes or any other safety equipment. He has climbed a number of the world's tallest buildings over the years and has been arrested almost as many times. Extraordinary stuff, but the cops were not amused. Watch the video here

Yeah, that story on Oz TV last night about the Mr Bigs of the Aussie drug trade... driving their expensive cars while some wretched kid spikes himself in a public lavatory. It makes me puke. And the drug biggies are involved with the Comancheros bikie gang...nothing but a bunch of ugly hairy thugs on Harleys whose business it is to profit from the misery of others. A pox on those low-life piles of excrement.

Okay, time for kitchen thingies. I enjoyed the baked frankfurts the other night so much, I'm having them again... not the same ones, of course... new ones. AND DON'T TELL ME WHAT'S IN 'EM. I'll have them with chips. Gary

August 30, 2010. Well, thixtythix is outta the way and the birthday boy is back to normal. Who needs birthdays anyway?

Can you believe NSW government bureaucrats are pushing for permits for photographers who wish to photograph things in public places, like the Opera House? What a joke! I saw the news item on ABC TV last night and couldn't believe it. Anyway, there was a protest attended by about a thousand photographers yesterday in Sydney.

When I was a kid, people needed an annual license to listen to radio. And then when TV arrived in 1956, people needed a license to watch the damn thing! How ludicrous. We had just fought and won a world war against tyranny, and yet we had Aussie bureaucrats demanding we pay to listen to the radio and watch TV. The blatant revenue-raising scam was dropped after a while. For one thing, it was too costly to police - not to mention impossible. But it just goes to show what bureaucrats will do in order to bring in the bucks. And it seems they're still up to their idiot tricks.

Don't you just hate practical jokers and pranksters? Well, I do... unless they're clever. Check this out.

This one's not bad either.

And this one.

Beeb time: President Barack Obama has paid tribute to the people of New Orleans, five years to the day after Hurricane Katrina destroyed large parts of the city. Well, there's a surprise. Fancy a politician praising people like that! Miners trapped underground in Chile for more than three weeks have their first telephone contact with loved ones. Excellent. That's exactly what they need. A senior rabbi from a party within Israel's coalition government has called for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to "vanish from our world". Whose world? More than 100 Russian skinheads have attacked a music festival in central Russia, reports say. At least 10 people were injured while attending the Torndao festival in Miass, in Russia's Chelyabinsk region. The skinheads were reported to have been armed with truncheons and sticks when they launched their attack on the event, attended by some 3,000 people. Russia has an active far-right wing and racist community, and there have been several high-profile hate crimes and racially motivated murders in recent years. People like that make me puke. Hmmm. Does that make me left wing? An Aboriginal man has won a seat in Australia's House of Representatives, becoming the first indigenous person to do so in the country's history. Ken Wyatt, 57, took the seat of Hasluck in Western Australia for the centre-right Liberal Party. Neither the Liberals nor the governing Labor Party gained enough seats at last week's election for a majority. Mr Wyatt has dismissed racist hate mail he has received, saying it was time for Australia to move forward. He looks about as Aboriginal as I do

Yep, it doesn't take much to claim Aboriginality in Oz. One milliliter of Aboriginal blood will do nicely thank you very much. Jan Gray was telling me that you ain't seen black until you've laid eyes on Aborigines from the Northern Territory. There are quite a few Aborigines in Taree but Jan said they "pale" by comparison. Maybe the Northern Territory's climate has something to do with it... it's 30+ all year round up there. Actually, it's amazing to think that the Aborigines have been in Oz for 40,000 years and never changed much in all that time. Maybe they didn't need to. Or want to. Or care.

Meanwhile, we have three independents, one of whom wears a white cowboy hat, virtually holding the major parties to ransom. As a former premier of NSW pointed out, independents don't have national policies, they have local policies. They don't run the armed forces, they don't run treasury, they don't run the national school system or the national health system, or national roads and railways. All they do is represent their own little corner of Oz. And yet here they are telling the major parties how to suck eggs. As the former premier put it, "They've been hit in the ass by a rainbow." Hehe.

One of those independents is the member for my area of Lyne, Rob Oakeshott. He's the bloke with the dopey laugh. Haw, haw, haw. Averil can't stand him. The people who voted for independents are now getting what they deserve... a mess. As to the bloke who wears the white cowboy hat, I'd like to ask him how he keeps it so clean and pristine given that he lives in a dusty country town famous for its cattle and farming. I'll bet his fingernails are neatly manicured as well.

Oh dear.... people are such a worry. They really are ya know. But the only way you can see it is to stand back and observe... to remove yourself from the crowd and alter your perspective... to sit at the front window of a coffee lounge and watch the passing parade of robots in the street outside while you sip your cappuccino. I remember one time, after years of living in country towns where I was within walking or cycling distance from work, I returned to the city and took a peak-hour train into town. I couldn't believe the crowds. I couldn't believe how thousands of people were being mindlessly herded like cattle. I felt so desperately claustrophobic all I wanted to do was escape. I felt like I was being swept along by the torrent of a flooded river full of debris. And yet, prior to my years in the country, I had been a daily part of all that ritual herding and never given it a second thought.

Maybe that's why the Aborigines were happy to live the way they did for 40,000 years hehe.

Soooooooooooooooooo, I think at least once in a person's life, he should sit with his mate beside a crackling campfire somewhere out in the wildnerness at night, under an endless inky-black outback sky sprinkled with a trillion stars of astonishing clarity. To be mesmerized by flames whose erotic dance sends sparks fleeing frantically yet briefly in a miriad of haphazard directions. To share a joke or two with smiling faces illuminated by flickering firelight. To study sausages impaled on a stick, spitting and protesting in vain over glowing red coals that explode like mini fireworks with each drop of fat. To sip billy tea from a steaming mug. Gary

August 29, 2010. 29? Now that rings a bell. Oh, yeah... sixty six. Bleh. Actually, I'm surprised I made it this far. But before I get into the birthday thing, here's a pic I favorited today on Red Bubble. It's a classic and I love it peeeces!

Which reminds me. The expression "rings a bell" apparently comes from a time when the fear of being buried alive gave rise to a string that ran from inside the coffin to a bell installed above ground. If the occupant of the coffin suddenly woke and felt a bit claustrophobic, he or she could pull the string and ring the bell... and hope that a bunch of people armed with shovels came to the rescue.

By the way, I've added a few new favs to my RB page lately and they're worth checking out.

Ohio Jace sent a nice e-card for my thixtythixth. It featured a bunch of different dogs barking the happy birthday song until the last dog which could actually sing... and all the other dogs were mortified. Jace also added:

We are having a bit of a religious war locally between a strip club and New Beginnings church. The club opened before I retired in 2004 and they have been fighting since day one. A few years ago the church began to picket the club and it evolved into harassing the clientele first just verbally, then taking down license plate numbers to post on the church website, and now taking photos of the folks going into the club. So the club retaliated by picketing the church during Sunday services.

Last week it made the national news on MSNBC and the local paper claims the dispute has gone worldwide. The club does not even have a liquor license, but you can take your own. And last I heard the women do not get naked.  The two groups met and came to an agreement, which the church immediately broke so things are back to square one.

There is a law that is being challenged; that an adult club that does not sell booze has to close at midnight and the church is trying to get the Sheriff to enforce it, but he is waiting for a court decision on the other case before he acts.

About 20 years ago there was a club in town (BTW that club is now a church and before the club was a grocery store) that was closed down because they invited males strippers from Columbus and horrors the men had exposed pubic hair, the Bloody deviants. That was before the shave it off craze of today. They did not get naked there either. Some holier than thou attend just to make a fuss and won. That was it, until the new club opened way out in the boonies. You can’t even buy porn in this town including Playboy. It is not legal to sell it, but you can get drugs from the local dealer half a block from the jail (Allegedly).

Yeah... well that reminds me - this house I live in was a brothel before L&S and I moved here. Some would argue that it still is. That story about the strip club made the BBC but I didn't post it yesterday. I remember the local preacher saying something along the lines of "day and night cannot meet" and something about dealing with the devil. Ya know what? The devil didn't create sex. In fact, the devil didn't create anything. You can blame everything that exists on God. Wait! I know what some of you are thinking... that the devil twisted aspects of God's creation. Yeah? Well, guess who created the devil! Boom boom.

Apart from that, Jace says Sean and Co are all doing fine. Sean is now qualified to teach in school but the problem is finding a vacancy. Fancy that. He didn't even have pubes when I first "met" him and now he's a qualified teacher! No wonder I'm bloody thixtythix.

FL Josh also sent his b'day wishes - thanks Josh - and attached this link to a cute b'day card on Youchewb.

Oregon Richie also sent his wishes and went ballistic with his genius for poetic expression: Sixty six... still up to a few tricks, taking some good pics, and doing some great YT flicks.

And now for the piece de resistance. TX Greg went to the trouble of putting together a couple of vids just for little ol' me... er, forget the ol'... just for little me. Here's the first one. And here's the second one. Just click "open" when prompted and it'll play on your windows media player. Great stuff, Greg, and thanks for the giggles. You're a clever bugger.

Greg explained where the vids came from and how they were made: They are ecards from  Just had to upload the face photos and little cropping and presto. Glad they brought a smile :)

Anyway, thanks to everyone for putting the happy into birthday for me. Like I say, birthdays are no big deal for me, but I appreciate the attention.

Humphrey Bogart was apparently one of the greatest drunks of all time. He was asked if he ever went on the wagon and he said, "Yeah, and it was the worst afternoon of my entire life."

W.C. Fields walked into a bar one morning and asked the bartender if it was true he'd been there the previous night and spent a 20 dollar bill on liquor. The bartender said, "Yeah, you did." And WC replied, "Oh, that's a relief. I thought I'd lost it."

Beeb time: Chilean engineers are working on a plan to speed up the rescue of 33 miners trapped hundreds of feet underground. Yes, 3 months is a long time for a bunch of blokes to spend in a small "room" without toilets or showers. Sheesh. Tens of thousands of people have attended a controversial rally in Washington DC organised by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. Civil rights leaders criticised Mr Beck for holding the rally at the Lincoln Memorial, the place where Martin Luther King Jr made his "I Have a Dream" speech 47 years ago to the day. Former US vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin also spoke at the rally. I hope no one brought a pet moose with them. The former head of the Catholic Church in Belgium tried to stop a victim of sex abuse from going public with their story, Church officials have confirmed. During a meeting in April, Cardinal Godfried Danneels advised the victim to delay a public statement until the bishop who abused him had retired. Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who was also at the meeting, admitted to the abuse in April and resigned. Say no more. Thousands of Indonesians have been forced to flee after a volcano erupted on the island of Sumatra. Officials issued a red alert after Mount Sinabung began to spew lava shortly after midnight (1900 GMT). "It happens once every 400 years," said one resident, "and it has to be the day I hang out the washing!" No... that's not true. I made that up. But it's true about 400 years. American socialite Paris Hilton has been arrested in the US for alleged possession of cocaine, police say. Ms Hilton was arrested by Las Vegas police when they stopped a car in which she was a passenger. Officers found some suspicious powder in the car, which later proved to be cocaine. She was booked into the county jail before being charged and released, police said. Ho hum... NEXT! The US is set to mark five years since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast, killing more than 1,800 people and leaving New Orleans under water. US President Barack Obama will visit New Orleans, where sombre ceremonies are planned, including a tolling of the bells at St Louis Cathedral. Well, that's one way to remember my 61st birthday. An overseas collector has paid £9,500 for John Lennon's toilet at an auction in Liverpool. The porcelain lavatory was used by the music legend during the three years he lived at Tittenhurst Park, Berkshire, between 1969 and 1972. Lennon gave it to builder John Hancock, telling him "to use it as a plant pot" after he installed a new toilet. Imagine that. Politics, religion and the law can be a potent mixture, but throw in the issue of gay rights and the mixture can become explosive. That is what has happened in Mexico where a row between Catholic Church leaders and Mexico City's mayor over gay rights legislation has also embroiled the Supreme Court. "Would any of you want to be adopted by a couple of lesbians or queers," said Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, the Archbishop of Guadalajara, at a recent news conference. The question he should have asked is, "Would any of you want to be adopted by a weirdo Cardinal wearing a silly party hat who carries a big stick and dresses in purple and red drag?" Bloody idiot.

I really can't stand anti-gays ya know. They're dummies. By the same token, I'm a dummy too cos I've not taken advantage of the obvious. If I had half a brain I'd start manufacturing cans of anti-gay spray... aerosol cans filled with plain water that homophobes can point at gays and squirt. I could sell millions! GUARANTEED NOT TO HARM HETEROSEXUALS. Squirt, squirt.

Averil gave me a $20 note yesterday for my birthday. "I'm sorry it's not more," she said. "But you know there's more coming." She was referring to her will. So I said, "You really shouldn't talk about that stuff, Averil. I never expected it. If you ever change your mind, go ahead. It won't bother me." And I meant it. How silly of me. I don't know how much she's appropriated in her will but it would probably be enough to buy a modest motorhome. However, that's not the point. I don't expect anything in return for what I do... shopping and other bits and pieces. Like I said, if she changes her mind for whatever reason, it won't bother me. I never expected to be included in her will in the first place. Furthermore, being the suspicious little devil I am, I want her to know that I'm not for sale. I do what I do because I do what I do... and for no other reason.

Right, so what's on the menu tonight? I have a leftover burger... the 100-day grain-fed beef thingy. That'll do. Oh, and last night's frankfurts? Well, I did them in the oven. Yes, in the oven... baked them. Normally you'd heat them in a pot of simmering water. But in the oven they turned out REALLY NICE. They split. Yes, they split. But that's okay. They look worse after being chewed, and even worse again the next day when you go to the loo. So split frankfurts is not a biggie. I left them in the oven in a small baking dish for quite a while on 200C while a hash brown did its thing. And it was all rather impressive. Hehe. Okay, not the kinda thing you'd do on a TV cooking program but... WHO CARES?

I just asked a Red Bubbler, the one who posted the pic of the ladies patting the naked statue's butt, why there's a 'w' in sword, and why 'w' is called double 'u' rather than double 'v'. :o) Gary

August 28, 2010. FINALLY I managed to revise Green Room on Lulu. I'd tried several times before, following Lulu's instructions but I kept ending up in the wrong place. Lulu eventually gave up on me, thinking I was a prize dummy. So this morning, quite by accident, my entry point was different. Instead of going to my account I went to the book itself, and then through a series of clicks until I got to revision. From there it was a piece of cake. So now the book is in Times New Roman instead of Courier - much better print quality and easier to read. What a relief after all this time! Also, a bloke named Simon pointed out a few typos and inconsistencies which have been corrected in the latest revision. I ordered a printed copy just to check that everything is okay, and that should arrive sometime next week. I'll let you know in case you want the latest, new-improved, better-than-ever, yadda yadda, yadda copy.

If the latest revision is all I expect it to be, I'll order several copies and send them to various people I know in the hope that one of them may be impressed enough to spread the word. Maybe, maybe, maybe...

Yes, I'm glad that's outta the way! It's been worrying me for a couple of years. And I couldn't figure out why Lulu technical help kept ignoring me.

Shopping's done. Strawberries were on spesh at $2 a punnet so I ummed and ahhed for a bit and then thought, VITAMIN C! so I bought some. I also bought some cocktail frankfurts... cheap as chips. If you know what's in 'em, keep it to yourself cos I don't wanna know. They're yummy with mashed potato and mustard, preferably Hot English. And I bought a new set of 4 Energizer rechargable AA batteries. Not cheap at $23 but they are cheap in the long run. The technology is getting better... they hold their charge for 6 months. And I bought 8 rolls of toilet paper hehe.

Beeb time: Five of the Chilean miners trapped in a collapsed shaft are suffering depression, officials say, as engineers prepare to start drilling an escape tunnel. I'm not surprised. What they need is access to the internet and Youchewb clips of Craig Ferguson. Suspected Taliban insurgents launch an attack on a US military base in the east of Afghanistan, reports say. It's a worry when the world's greatest power can't stop the little guys. It's like asking the biggest, meanest dog in the world to get rid of its own fleas.

Anyway, there's a lot going on in the world at the mo but little that's suitable for this Waffle page.

Have you watched nature documentaries that show birds that feed on ticks and other parasites that attack large animals? The animals understand what the birds are doing, and are quite happy to cooperate. Ditto with sharks and other large fish that are "cleaned" by smaller fish. It's a very cordial and mutually beneficial arrangement. So I was thinking that maybe the American military can learn something from that and apply it to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Hey, why not? If the hippo can't eliminate its own pests, find somebody who can. Is that so dumb?

So who's Connie Talbot? Well, she's six years old, with no front teeth, and she sings. Check her out.

And that's it for another Satdee. I'll be 65 for another 6 hours hehe... and then 66! Eeek! Gary

August 27, 2010. Let's start the day with a Craig Ferguson monologue.

Oregon Richie wrote to say he sold his little MG Midget... '79 model, I think it was. It's always sad to part with things to which you've become attached. So that got me to thinking about what would break my heart if I had to part with it. Um.... hmmm. Can't think of anything really. I lost my house almost 20 years ago. I lost my business a few years later together with my self-esteem. I lost my best friend almost 9 years ago. I reckon I'm pretty much immune to loss these days.

I decided to get a bit artistic this morning and photographed a little creation I came up with. Why not?

Oh yeah, I forgot. FL Josh asked yesterday if I'm suffering L&S withdrawals. Well, it's taken a while to get used to being in this big house alone, and to be free of certain duties like cooking full meals. They'll be back in a little over 2 weeks so I'm not sure how I'll feel then. Averil reckons I miss the company hehe. Well, I'm not sure about that... but it is a bit strange being alone.

Beeb time: Ex-US President Jimmy Carter secures release of an American, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, sentenced to hard labour for illegally entering North Korea. Well, no matter what you think of ol' Jimmy, Aijalon won't be complaining. Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis are ordered to evacuate their homes as flood waters threaten several cities in the south of the country. So where do you go when you evacuate? How can such misery be measured? And they say the worst is yet to come. The family of one of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile sues mine owners, as a judge freezes $1.8m of the mine's assets for compensation. One minute thankful for a job, next minute suing the hand that feeds them. That's the way it goes. Brazil's government has given the formal go-ahead for the building on a tributary of the Amazon of the world's third biggest hydroelectric dam. After several failed legal challenges, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed the contract for the Belo Monte dam with the Norte Energia consortium. Critics say the project will damage the local ecosystem and make homeless 50,000 mainly indigenous people. But the government says it is crucial for development and will create jobs. And the winner is... Three Canadians arrested in an alleged terrorist conspiracy had bomb parts and plans and posed a "real and serious threat", Canadian police have said. The trio, arrested this week, were charged with supporting terrorism. Hiva Alizadeh and Misbahuddin Ahmed were jailed following a court appearance on Thursday. Also arrested was Khurram Sher, who according to the Toronto Star newspaper sang and danced in an audition for the Canadian Idol television programme. Alizadeh, Ahmed and Sher. Well, well, well, how about that. A man has paid for a van in China with 100,000 yuan ($14,700; £9,500) in pocket change he gathered over years, state television reports. Mr Zhao, a businessman, dropped bundles of notes, none worth more than one yuan - about $0.15 - at the dealership in Jining, in northern Shandong province. "I held onto the money waiting to see if they would accept it so that I could buy the car. The manager of this dealership decided to accept my cash, so that was really helpful to me," he said. After hours of counting, the staff at the dealership confirmed he had provided exact change. How do you top that? Toyota has announced another recall involving more than one million cars in the US and Canada with potentially faulty engine control systems. The models affected are the Corolla and Matrix made between 2005 and 2008. So you want to be the world's biggest and the world's best. Then where do you go?

I know one out-of-work person who will appreciate this clip from Monty Python about a bloke applying for a job.

And here's one about idiots, and how being an idiot - a talented and convincing one according to John Cleese - is quite an art.

Are you Hungarian and thinking of visiting England? Then you'll need this Hungarian phrasebook.

Now here's a bloke I rather like - Stephen Fry - but I was unaware of him before he did a TV series about visiting all 50 states of the US, driving a London Taxi. Here he is chatting as a Pom about the difference between the English and Americans.

Well, I could spend all day on Youchewb but I better hit the kitchen and get dinner ready... whiting fillets in beer batter and CHIPS. Gary

August 26, 2010. FL Josh wrote: Thanks for some smoking videos in Waffle of 25th.  I DID NOT have time to spend that much time watching youtube videos. . .  but I did.  I have always loved mechanical things, my motivation for getting a degree in mechanical engineering for my undergraduate degree, so I particularly loved the details in the train race video of the operation of the trains.  One tiny scene that for some reason I really liked was the one showing the drive wheels with their linkage, operating at speed.  We always see them going slowly as trains pull out of stations, but to one mechanically oriented, seeing them at speed and knowing what is going on to make that happen is special.  A good example of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. As for all the guitar players, those videos are good examples of how man will take something, then find out a million things he can do with it.

Yes, I liked the same scene, Josh. I found myself wondering how all the linkages managed to remain connected at such frantic speed. Pretty exciting stuff. I also think having the camera on board one of the trains, and particularly in the driver's compartment, was a stunning idea... train cam! As to the guitars, if I hadn't seen that guy shaping chords with his toes I wouldn't have believed it was possible.

So who's Andy McKee? Well, he's a guitarist who bends the rules. I like people who bend the rules and find new ways of doing things... and get over 32m views in the process. Here he is again with Ebon Coast. The guy's just amazing.

And who's Sungha Jung? I can't believe this kid. Check out his version of Michael Jackson's Billy Jean. I understand he's South Korean.

Incidentally, I deleted my Twitter and Facebook accounts yesterday after deciding that I had no use for them.

Beeb time: The 33 Chilean miners trapped deep underground have been told their rescue could take several months, officials say. Bloody hell, talk about good news and bad news. A senior UN official says peacekeepers could not stop a mass rape in DR Congo because they were not told it was happening. That aside, I'll never be able to understand what makes some people behave in such a diabolical fashion. How on earth can anyone derive pleasure from another's misery? The Pakistani Taliban are planning to attack foreigners helping with flood relief efforts in the country, a senior US official warns. If you ever needed proof that the Taliban are evil bastards, you've got it. Cuba's elderly will no longer be entitled to state-subsidised cigarettes, the government has said. All Cubans 55 or older are allocated four packs of cigarettes a month for about 25% the normal price, but this privilege is being ended in September. The measure is President Raul Castro's latest attempt to cut the communist state's spending. It's the opposite here in Oz. Tobacco is almost being taxed out of existence. Tiger Woods' ex-wife has said she never suspected him of cheating on her, and went "through hell" after finding out about his affairs. I can imagine how devastated she was... being lied to by the man she loved and trusted. At least 50 people have been killed in a series of apparently co-ordinated bomb attacks across Iraq. The deadliest killed 19 people in the southern city of Kut. Several blasts hit Baghdad, including a suicide bombing in which 15 died. There were also attacks in other major cities. Officials blame al-Qaeda. How the hell do you put a stop to such insanity? Beats me. Crocodile Dundee actor Paul Hogan has been barred from leaving Australia over an unpaid multi-million dollar tax bill, his lawyer has said. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) served the US-based actor with the order when he returned to Sydney recently for his mother's funeral. The 70-year-old is alleged to have put AUS$37.6m (£21.4m) of film royalties in offshore tax havens. Remember that song 'Yesterday's Hero'? The tall poppy syndrome is alive and well in Oz... the more successful you are, the more likely you'll be cut down to size by assholes. A new 67-storey skyscraper has won the approval of the New York authorities despite efforts to stop the construction by the owner of the Empire State Building. The full city council backed the 15 Penn Plaza by a 47-1 vote. The office building will stand nearly as tall as the 102-storey Empire State Building (ESB), two blocks away. ESB owner Anthony Malkin had argued the new building would ruin the "uniqueness" of the city's skyline. But New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Manhattan should embrace new investments, adding: "Anybody that builds a building in New York City changes its skyline.  We don't have to run around to every other owner and apologize," Mr Bloomberg told a news conference. "One guy owns a building, and he'd like to have it be the only tall building. I'm sorry that's not the real world," he added. He does have a point. Besides, records are set to be broken.

There have been quite a few reports of airplane crashes in the news lately. Here's Bob Hope talking about a few near misses in his experience.

I think too much ya know. I read about people and their perfect lives and get pissed off with all their bullshit. So then I take refuge in a bit of comedy from Craig Ferguson.

I had a really weird dream last night. I dreamt that I was in the air force, and some bloke wanted me to take a ride in a jet at 12,000 feet and be blasted out of the cockpit wearing a parachute. You know, like an emergency ejection. He was explaining that the pilot would carry on and save the plane, and that there'd be no collateral damage. It was just a routine exercise to familiarize me with normal combat procedures. In the dream I was desperate to find an excuse to reject the offer but the bloke kept saying that the pilot was ready and everything had been organized. And then I woke up. Now what kinda dream was that? I've never had any ambition to join the air force, and I'm not in the least bit thrilled about flying. I'm even less thrilled about being ejected from a cockpit at 12,000 feet.

Actually, I think the dream might have something to do with Aussie Odyssey... that I'm committed to it, but I'm not prepared for it. Gary

August 25, 2010. I've been having a bit of fun on Youchewb. Here's a vid of two guys playing the one guitar. Fun stuff!

And here's an unusual vid taken from inside the driver's compartment of a steam loco involved in the 2010 Great Train Race in Oz. The race was neck and neck all the way. Great shots of speeding locos.

Now here's a bloke who can play guitar with no hands.

Here's a young bloke playing a Johann Pachelbel composition on electric guitar. When you watch it, you'll understand why it's had almost 80m views.

One more... the setting of the Official World Record Guitar Speed - Guinness World Records.

When you see extraordinarily talented people on Youchewb it makes you realize how ORDINARY the rest of us are hehe. Oh well... 

Beeb time: A senior US general warns that President Barack Obama's deadline to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan is encouraging the Taliban. Well, well, well, whaddaya know. Pakistan is in danger from epidemic diseases, PM Yousuf Raza Gilani warns, as 17 million people struggle to cope with flood devastation. The scale is mindboggling. That's almost the total population of Oz. Philippine police have admitted they did not have the skills, equipment or training to handle Monday's bus siege, in which eight Hong Kong tourists were killed after being taken hostage. The hostage drama came to an end when police marksmen killed the gunman. He was identified as 55-year-old Rolando Mendoza, a former policeman who had seized the bus in a desperate bid to get his job back. It doesn't get any more bizarre than that. Here's a list of the 10 things the police got wrong. Debate continues to rage in the US about the proposed building of an Islamic Centre near the Ground Zero site. One New Yorker, Daryl Lang, has made his opinions known on his blog, where he has expressed support for the right for the building to go ahead. But he has courted controversy by posting photographs showing the reality of life in the few blocks around Ground Zero. He believes it calls into question the idea that the site is - in the words of Sarah Palin - "hallowed ground". Daryl Lang gave BBC News a tour of the local area to explain why he believes the criticism of the planned Islamic Centre is misplaced. Watch the video here

I got into a trainy mood today so I posted one of the pics I took of the 3237 on Red Bubble.

Getting late again. I spent the day fiddling around with stuff, which can be quite time consuming. Kinda tidying up loose ends if you know what I mean. So now it's time to think about din dins - burgers - thick, juicy ones - 100-day grain-fed premium beef (so it says on the pack). I'll pan fry them (and save one for later) and then pan fry some onions, and serve the whole thing with CHIPS and tamaaaaaata sauce! Next thing ya know I'll be smashing bricks in half and climbing trees. Gary

August 24, 2010. Chewsday. A bloke stood at my front gate and said, "Matthew." So I said, "Who's Matthew?" And he said, "I'm Matthew." So I said, "Well, I'm not Matthew." And he said, "No, but you could be." Hehe. Anyway, he's from the power company and he let me know that they'll be here on August 31 to renew the "service conductor" which is the wire that connects the house to the main power line. Apparently the old lines are getting a bit ancient, and are too thin to carry the power used by today's appliances, such as air conditioners, etc. So, power will be cut for an hour or so while they do their thing. I guess I can handle that.

I went through the Kakadu/Kimberley pics that Jan gave me the other day and... well... yeah. He's not into photography. Neither is his missus who likes her horizons at a steep angle, and the sun to be directly in front of the lens. There was also a smudge on the lens which they failed to notice. Other than that, there are lots of pics of road signs, park signs, motorhomes, long roads, rocks, passing scenery taken through the windshield, and a couple of old buildings. Need I say more?

Jan said to me the other day, "She (my wife) saw the Kimberley from a chopper and I saw 350 kilometers of bitumen." So I'm wondering why they took the trip in the first place. Apparently they didn't take the time to stop and "smell the roses". They just whizzed through, took a few pics of this and that and returned home. They must have thought that's all David Attenborough does when he produces a TV documentary. Oh well... Actually, Jan did mention some of the Gray Nomads he spoke to: "Some of those people have been on the road for months!" Well, yeah... you can't do it in 2 weeks.

I'm reminded of the Japanese tourists who arrive here for a two week tour of Australia by bus. Hello?

Beeb time: Officials from Pakistan hold talks with the International Monetary Fund to discuss its $11bn loan package in the wake of the devastating floods. 11bn? What does Pakistan actually produce? Come to think of it, I own nothing made in Pakistan. Rescue workers in Chile send the first supplies of water and food to 33 miners who have been trapped underground for 17 days. You can imagine how welcome that would be! US golfer Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren have divorced after six years of marriage, lawyers for the pair say. Life is full of surprises and that's not one of them. A US district court has issued a temporary injunction blocking plans by the Obama administration to increase funding for stem cell research. The court ruled in favour of researchers who say human embryonic stem cell research involved the destruction of human embryos. Didn't I hear somewhere that it's now possible to use stem cells that don't involve human embryos? The 150-year-old horse chestnut that brought comfort to Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis in World War Two has toppled in high winds and heavy rain. The tree, whose trunk was diseased and rotted, snapped a metre (3ft) above the ground, and crashed into neighbouring gardens in Amsterdam. A global campaign to save "the Anne Frank tree" was launched in 2007 after Dutch officials and conservationists declared it a safety hazard and ordered it felled. They feared it could topple and crash into the museum. But the Support Anne Frank Tree Foundation won a court injunction in November that year, stopping the city authorities from chopping it down. Neighbours and campaigners argued that, as a symbol of freedom, the tree was worth making extraordinary efforts to preserve. Obviously, nature didn't agree with them. Some two tonnes of ivory and five rhino horns have been seized in Kenya's main airport inside boxes labelled as avocados to be exported to Malaysia. The haul at Nairobi's international airport is believed to be the biggest of its kind in Kenya for several years. Two suspects have been arrested over the seizure of the ivory, which was in 317 separate pieces. Isn't it depressing what greed can lead to? And once again, there would be no supply if there was no demand. Three independent MPs who may hold the balance of power following Saturday's inconclusive election in Australia say they will negotiate as a bloc. With some votes still to be counted, both the ruling Labor party and the opposition conservative coalition appear to have fallen short of the 76 seats needed for a majority. Both are now lobbying for support from the independents. What a mess. And it could be 2 weeks before a result is announced. 

Okay, so here's an excerpt from Wikipedia about Pakistan: The structure of the Pakistani economy has changed from a mainly agricultural base to a strong service base. Agriculture now only accounts for roughly 20% of the GDP, while the service sector accounts for 53% of the GDP. Significant foreign investments have been made in several areas including telecommunications, real estate and energy. Other important industries include apparel and textiles (accounting for nearly 60% of exports), food processing, chemicals manufacture, and the iron and steel industries. Pakistan's exports in 2008 amounted to $20.62 billion (USD). Pakistan is a rapidly developing country.

I was already aware that they play cricket, and regularly compete in international competition involving the British Commonwealth of Nations. Pakistan also produces its own car, the Adam Revo. Or at least it did. Production ceased in 2006. I certainly wasn't aware that Pakistan's population is over 170m. That's 8 times the pop of Oz and over half the pop of the US.

Well, well, well, lookie, lookie, lookie, it's Wednesday morning already. I ran outta steam yesterday and pigged out on pizza... double top supreme. So I'll post this now and be back later today. Gary

August 23, 2010. Here's a giggle for you... Spike Milligan and the Irish Olympics.

Wet and dreary today... typical winter day. Or is it? A typical winter day in Taree is sunny and 18 or 19 C. Okay, so today is not typical but it would be if it were somewhere else. Hehe. There's a bit of Irish logic for you. Anyway, it's dreary and I'm supposed to do a little shopping. Bleh.

The thing is, God didn't think this whole watering thing through. When we water the garden we use a hose, so the garden gets wet but we don't. When God waters the garden everything gets wet, including us.

Beeb time: All 33 Chilean miners trapped underground since a tunnel collapse 17 days ago are alive, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera says, after a note is sent up to the surface via a remote probe. Two of my greatest fears: vertigo and claustrophobia. An ex-policeman armed with an assault rifle has seized a bus in the Philippines, police say. The gunman, reportedly sacked over robbery and drugs claims, is demanding his job back, local media says. He wants his job back? Yeah, right. The hunt for aliens should allow for the fact that ETs may be thinking machines rather than like us, a leading researcher says. Many involved in Seti (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) have long argued that nature may have solved the problem of life using different designs or chemicals, suggesting extraterrestrials would not only not look like us, but that they would not at a biological level even work like us. Yes, well, good luck chaps, and happy hunting. Sheeesh. Police in Mexico find four mutilated bodies hung from a bridge in the central city of Cuernavaca, killed by a drug gang as a warning to a rival group. Such charming people work in the drug trade. Yes? The draft scripts for The Beatles' films A Hard Day's Night and Help have been donated to the British Film Institute by director Richard Lester. The treasures include correspondence from Hollywood stars Audrey Hepburn, Raquel Welch and Charlton Heston. The archive also contains a "begging letter" from Spike Milligan, who offers to do laundry in exchange for a job. The comic, who rose to fame on The Goon Show, wrote to Lester in 1980, saying he was bored with television and "no matter how small I would like a part, preferably the lead". Milligan, who died in 2002, reminded the director he had previously worked as a "straight actor", adding: "Have own beard and wig, on site laundry done and secret masses said for Polish Catholics." No doubt about Milligan... he was a very funny bloke. British chef and TV personality Jamie Oliver has won an Emmy award for his US series Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. The show, which highlighted childhood obesity, was named best reality show at the creative arts Emmy ceremony. I'm not surprised... Jamie is not only a great chef but also a natural entertainer. And he stole my bolognaise recipe.

The rain eased, the clouds dispersed somewhat and I did my shopping. I can't see those items I bought being on Jamie Oliver's shopping list but he's younger than I am and has more energy. He's also PAID to cook and I'm not. So I bought "easy" stuff.

Tonight, I'm having a leftover chicken breast thingy with camembert and chives. I had it the other night and wasn't impressed, so I've decided to flick the camembert (which I thought was a bit ikky), chop up the breast, boil some rice, add sweet chilli sauce and mix through, then add the chopped chicken breast, sprinkle with parsley, heat through and soive. Not very thrilling but it'll do.

Actually, I checked out the "ready meals" section at the supermarket and passed. I can't help being suspicious of "ready", and I can't believe that  manufacturers care a helluva lot about the quality of the ingredients that go into those packaged meals. It's probably better than prison food but only by the slimmest of margins. That's the main reason prison scares me. The food. Eeek! Cell accommodation is a bit cramped as well. AND, from what I've heard, the neighbors aren't too friendly.

On a more serious note, I was wondering what happened to Andy Muirhead, former host of ABC TV's Collectors program. He was axed from his ABC job, and all references to him were deleted from the ABC's internet web sites after he was charged with possessing and downloading child pornography. The immediate presumption by the ABC was that he was guilty, even before the case had been heard in court. I'm sure most people followed the ABC's example and presumed likewise. Here's a noted barrister's view of the situation... that justice has been denied, and Muirhead has been abandoned.


August 22, 2010. Well, it could be a week before a deal is made with the independents by one of the two major parties in Oz to govern. Meanwhile, my vote went down the drain because I voted for the local National party candidate (part of the coalition). But this seat was won by an Independent who was already the sitting member. There's a lot of media talk going on about who, what and why, but the bottom line is somebody's gotta govern this country and at the mo we're not sure who that's gonna be. One thing is for sure... it's a curious outcome, and the journalists are having a ball. Labor lost but the coalition didn't win. How weird is that?

Just got a call from Jan Gray, my mad Kiwi mate who's into the dental drill thing and who recently toured far north Queensland and Kakadu checking out crocodiles. He's gonna call in to give me a CD of all the pics he took. Back in the bad old days, when I was broke and desperate, and my computer was gasping for air on its deathbed, he turned up outta the blue and gave me a cobbled-together computer made from old bits and pieces that actually WORKED. It was a Pentium with a whole gig of memory! Wow! That was back in '98 when I was still trying to get MrB off the ground.

So let's get the Beeb outta the way before he arrives: Australia's Labor Party loses ground as election results come in, with a handful of independents likely to decide who forms the next government. Ooer! I like surprises! Iran begins fuelling its first nuclear power station amid national celebrations, despite Western unease over its ambitions. Well, they've got little else to celebrate so I guess any excuse for a party will do. The European Space Agency is battling to recover its Goce gravity satellite which has been struck by a second computer glitch, blocking data delivery to Earth. Maybe they should give Microsoft or Apple a call. Amnesty International has urged Saudi authorities to stop any attempt to medically paralyse a man as a judicial punishment. A Saudi judge is reported to have asked hospitals if it is possible to cut the spinal cord of the man, found guilty of paralysing another man in a fight. Under Islamic law in Saudi Arabia, retribution sentences can include eye-gouging and, for murder, beheading. What century are they still living in?

So how far is it exactly from Kempsey (where Jan called from) and Taree? Hey, ask Google. It's about 116 kms or about an hour and a half's drive. When he phoned he asked for my address. So naturally I went on about bridges and roundabouts and whatever and he stopped me and said, "I've got a Navman!" Oh... right. Boom, boom. But I'm still rather chuffed with being able to ask Google how far it is from a given point to another given point. That's pretty cool. I'll remember that when/if I manage to get this bloody Odyssey thing happening. And I must get a Navman. Imagine that, punch in an address and the damn thing directs you to your precise destination. Turn here, turn there, yadda yadda. Bloody marvelous, especially when you're visiting a strange city with all its motorways and complicated bypasses and whatever.

CD? I'm behind the times. Jan didn't give me a CD, he gave me a little USB thingy that plugs into the back of the laptop hehe. Anyway, he stayed for quite a while and we chatted about this and that. He was driving one of his 'Drill Guys' vans... the Fiat. The other one is a Renault. He's put on weight... got the paunch and the whole latter middle-age thing happening. But it hasn't slowed him down. He's still fulla beans and going at a hundred miles an hour. And now he's on his way to Sydney for a 6pm appointment. Yeah, right. He's got Buckleys. He'll be lucky to get there by 7:30.

Anyway, I'll go though his pics and choose a selection to post as an album on Aussie Odyssey. I feel soooo guilty about not having done any photographic shoots myself lately. I'm getting lazier by the minute. Then again, maybe I'm just taking a well-deserved sabbatical. Maybe a bloke deserves a bit of a break now and then.

Have you been reading Justin's blog lately? Here's a gem written by J in response to Justin's post 'Sponteneity is an essential part of liturgy'.

This past week a friend of mine who has no abiding respect for organized religion observed that our county was filled with Christian churches, and if all those who attended worked to eliminate hunger, crime and deprivation they would be eliminated in no time flat. In other words, these goals would be attained if everyone practiced Christian ethics. But of course they don't, because church attendance is merely a social occasion or, as your essayist observes, an illogical post-mortum insurance policy. You put your money in the collection plate, the priest gives you a wafer and absolves you of your many transgressions and assures your everlasting life, and you are free to go out and pursue business as usual for another week. Frankly, these institutions don't impress me much, and the true Christians I've met in this short life can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The churches that are thriving in the West are those who offer quick absolution, and merely the profession of faith is the ticket to respectability in this life and the next. Their parishioners want a quick fix, and are too wrapped up in their exclusionist dogma to really practice what Jesus taught. The church as an institution isn't morally bankrupt; it's just become an irrelevant anachronism. 

And as for Jack Kennedy's noble words, they've been turned on their head. People today only ask what their country can do for them. Congress just appropriated $26 billion dollars of money we don't have and will have to borrow from the Chinese to bail out primarily the states of California, New York and New Jersey, whose legislatures are so controlled by public employee unions they can't balance their budgets. Do we need any other proof?

I wish I had J's mind, but I'll have to settle for my own.

Okay, din dins time again. I'll have more of those honied prawns, this time with CHIPS. Gary

August 21, 2010. Yes, folks, the big day has arrived, and I've just voted. I could very well be the only Aussie who voted wearing slippers. The polling booth is just across the road. Tonight, from 6, the counting and analysis will be on telly in earnest, with expert commentators trying to predict the trends hehe. Well, the bottom line is that no matter who wins, life will go on and people will go about their daily business pretty much as they always have. We'll either have a glamorous redhead or a balding, hairy-chested health fanatic running the country. Sheesh. And a bunch of Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate.

Oz has survived the global recession with flying colors, no doubt about that. The Labor party takes credit for it, but critics argue that it was the previous Liberal government's huge surplus that made it possible. Either way, Oz is about the only advanced economy in the world that has managed to emerge pretty much unscathed. Oregon Richie tells me his house is hardly worth what he paid back in 2003, which surprised me. House prices in Oz have skyrocketed, unemployment and inflation have remained low, and the Aussie dollar is still around 90 cents US.

Beeb time: Iran's first nuclear power station is to be loaded with fuel and declared operational in a ceremony attended by Iranian and Russian officials. Nationwide celebrations are planned to mark the event at the Bushehr reactor in southern Iran. Russia will operate the plant, supplying its nuclear fuel and taking away the nuclear waste. The fact that it took 35 years to build, is an old model, and its contribution to the national grid is very small will be no barrier to the celebrations. Israel and the Palestinians agree to resume direct negotiations for the first time in 20 months, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says. Hillary is looking just as tired as the never-ending negotiations. Voting is under way in a general election that looks set to be one of the tightest in Australia for decades. We'll know the outcome soon enough. A saltwater crocodile called Dirty Harry has used his supposed psychic powers to predict that Julia Gillard will win Saturday's tight general election in Australia. Yeah, right. Half a billion eggs in the US have been recalled in an investigation into a salmonella outbreak, which now includes two farms in the state of Iowa. Cornell University microbiology professor Patrick McDonough told the Associated Press news agency it is not uncommon for outbreaks to have multiple sources because both farms could have rodent problems or have feed that was contaminated. Scramble those eggs, boy!

Speaking of scrambled eggs, I've been using a simple recipe for over 20 years. Scrambled eggs for one: take a small dish or ramekin, melt a knob of butter in micro, break 2 eggs into dish, whisk with fork, add a little milk, whisk again, place in micro for about 1 minute on high, remove and mash with fork, add a little grated cheese, mash again, place back in micro for another minute on high. Serve on toast. NOTE: Don't use too much butter or milk or the eggs will be too sloppy.

Well, this little corner of the world has been very busy today with families, couples and individuals arriving to vote at the polling booth across the road. They've been coming all day in a steady stream. As of now, there are 2 and a half hours left before closing time. Tony Abbot, the leader of the opposition, went without sleep for the last 36 hours of the campaign as he traveled to various places in a last minute attempt to round up supporters. "To get the country's top job takes a top effort," he said.

Meanwhile, I'm not sorry to see Rudd get the flick as PM. He had a nasty habit of turning his back or ignoring the opposition whenever it was their turn to speak in Parliament. That sort of behavior is the epitome of rudeness in my opinion. If Gillard is elected, she's promised Rudd a position on the front bench. I think Minister for Bad Manners would be appropriate. Honestly, kids in kindergarten behave better than politicians in Parliament.

I just commented on a photo posted by a Red Bubbler... an awesome image of the Chapel of St Thomas Aquinas in St Patrick's cathedral, Melbourne. I wrote, "In a place where stone nor timber nor glass exist, what must heaven be like?" And he responded with "Thanks, mate." Hehe. What I was TRYING to say was how could anything so beautiful exist in a place that doesn't have the materials we have here on earth? In other words, heaven must look pretty damn lamo compared to the chapel. Oh well... I do try ya know. Here's another shot of St Patrick's by William.

Ya know, it's really handy to have a good story to tell when you're being interviewed, and this lady in a red dress has a wonderful story to tell Craig Ferguson about poo. Hehe. It really is funny.

Well, here we go again... din dins time. And then I'll watch telly for a while to see how the election results are going. Gary

August 20, 2010. My Birds and Bees ditty is getting a bit of attention. The inspiration came from wondering why the subject was ever called Birds and Bees in the first place. I imagine the reason is embarrassment... people are uncomfortable telling it like it is because the subject has long been considered taboo. We don't like to associate our behavior with that of "lesser" creatures.

Human beings are the most guilt-ridden, phobia/complex-prone species on the planet. And those who aren't burdened by such baggage are considered vulgar and uncouth.

Beeb time: Campaigning in Australia's national elections enters its last day with the two main parties neck and neck. So who's got a guillotine? A growing number of Americans incorrectly believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim, research suggests. Some 18% said the president was a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009, according to the Pew Research survey of 3,003 Americans. Among Republicans, that number was 34%. Just a third of those quizzed correctly identified Mr Obama as Christian. Bleh. People will believe anything they wanna believe if it suits their prejudice. A "galactic lens" has revealed that the Universe will probably expand forever. It will eventually become a cold, dead wasteland, researchers say, with a temperature of absolute zero. Well, you know what they say about making hay, folks. Exactly 70 years ago war-time leader Winston Churchill stood up and addressed parliament to hail the efforts of the aircrew who were fighting overhead. "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few," he pronounced in the midst of his speech. "Without Churchill we would not have won the war," said Flt Lt Bill Green, from Clevedon, Somerset. You can read the complete article here. Women-only train carriages have been launched in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, in an attempt to prevent sexual harassment on public transport. The state-run train operator is running two new carriages for its female passengers on one busy commuter route. The service has been introduced after a series of complaints of sexual harassment from women who travel on Jakarta's trains and buses. Those who don't mind a bit of slap and tickle can still choose to ride in mixed gender carriages. Veteran screen star Ernest Borgnine is to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild, organisers announce. I'm surprised he's still with us!

I just watched a bit of ABC 24 news online and caught a piece about tomorrow's election. It's about as tight as tight can get, and results may linger for up to a week depending on as little as a handful of votes in some cases, with preferences going to the Greens. We have a compulsory and preferential system of voting here in Oz. In my view, it means the swinging voters who normally determine a trend toward or away from a major party don't know which way to swing. You have your traditional hard core Labor voters and your traditional hard core Liberal voters, usually making up 80-90% of the total vote, with the swingers determining the end result. But in this election, there's an absence of leader charisma. As someone on Youchewb said, it's a case of voting for Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum. Hehe.

Well, it's tucker time... chicken breast wrapped around camembert cheese and chives, served with CHIPS. Sounds pretty cool. Last night's honied prawns and rice was nice too. Gary

August 19, 2010. Pay day, bills day, in and out, quick as a flash, bob's yer uncle, see ya later, wham bam thank you ma'am. NEXT!

But at least there's a few bob left over to feed the face.

Meanwhile, here's my latest little ditty on Red Bubble.

I keep getting electronic notices from Centerlink asking if I'm still Sue's carer. So this is the third time I've phoned to say YES I AM. All the details, including her trip to England and how long she'll be away are there on my computer record at Centerlink but they keep sending notices asking the same question. Bureaucrats are soooooooooooooo dumb! But the lady to whom I spoke was delightful. She's a grandmother at 43. Hello? Guess who's been busy! I tend to do that ya know... chat with peeps on the phone, even total strangers. She said she has a 5 y/o grandson who's savvy with computers, computer games, iPads, iPods and whatever other gadgets we have these days. She reckons it's frightening - that it's all happening too fast. I dunno about that. I think the information revolution is one of the greatest and most useful revolutions in human history. Knowledge is power, and even more powerful when it's readily accessible by the average person. Imagine a psycho like Hitler trying to survive today. Mind you, Sarah's not doing too badly.

Beeb time: The last American combat brigade in Iraq has left the country, the US military has said. The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division began crossing by land into Kuwait in the early hours of Thursday, said a spokesman. The US combat mission in Iraq is scheduled to end on 31 August. The BBC's Jane O'Brien in Washington says the brigade's departure after seven and a half years is a significant step. Some 56,000 US troops are set to remain in Iraq until the end of 2011 to advise Iraqi forces and protect US interests. Another one relegated to the history books. An Australian judge has ruled that a Muslim woman must remove her full veil while giving evidence before a jury in a fraud case. The judge in Perth said she did not consider it appropriate that the witness appear with her face covered. The prosecution said the woman - identified only as Tasneem - would feel uncomfortable without her niqab, which would affect her evidence. But the defence said the jury should be able to watch her facial expressions. I agree with the judge. US National Guard troops have been deployed along the country's southern border between the state of California and Mexico. They are the first of more than 1,000 troops President Barack Obama has authorised to beef up border security. There are some 12 million people in the US illegally and most have crossed the southern border from Mexico. And here we are in Oz bitching about a few thousand illegal boat people. Mind you, our "border" with the rest of the world is pretty damn big! Like almost 60,000 kilometers. Two infant skeletons have been found wrapped in newspaper from the 1930s in the basement of a building in Los Angeles, California, police say. The remains, which are believed to be decades old, were found placed in doctor's bags inside a trunk in a 1920s building near MacArthur Park. One of the skeletons was wrapped in a 1933 copy of the Los Angeles Times and the other was in a 1935 issue. Stay tooned for the movie. A month-long ban has begun in Venezuela on national newspapers printing what a court ruling has called "violent, bloody or grotesque" images. It comes after a furore over a front-page photograph in two publications of bullet-ridden bodies at a morgue. The government says the move is to protect the country's children from exposure to such images. Yeah, if kids wanna see violent and grotesque stuff, they can play video games or go to the movies. Rupert Murdoch's News America Inc has donated $1m (£637,000) to the Republican Governors Association ahead of November's US mid-term elections. The donation from the parent company of Fox News helped the RGA more than double its fundraising in the second quarter of 2010. I'm so happy that Rupert renounced his Australian citizenship to become a Yank. He's about as Aussie as Daniel Boone's hat. A saltwater crocodile called Harry is to use his alleged psychic powers to pick the winner of this weekend's general election in Australia. His keepers in Darwin say the huge reptile has a good track record. Judging by the look of the croc, I'd say he's a reincarnated politician

Honied prawns and rice tonight. And get this. I'm actually boiling my own rice! Yeah, gotta get a bit of fibre into me. They reckon bachelors die younger cos they don't feed themselves properly. Too much junk food.

Tomorrow is the last day before the federal election; the last day to make a decision. The Liberals are saying don't vote for the incumbents cos you'll get more of the same bullshit. And the Labor incumbents are saying don't change the government cos the opposition's bullshit is even worse. And the Greens are saying don't vote for either the Libs or Labor cos they're all a bunch of dickheads. And then you've got the independents who say forget all the major parties, vote for me! It's all as clear as mud. Gary

August 18, 2010. All this gay marriage business in California could be solved if gays went straight. It's easy to nip it in the bud, as this ex-gay demonstrates.

Another Wensdee... a week and a half since L&S flew to London. Without those guys here, I'm lazier than ever. Can't be bothered doing this, can't be bothered doing that. So now I'm wondering if living alone is a good or bad thing.

Meanwhile, I've been checking out Youchewb. Not long ago, I started writing a story about an adopted kid with two fathers. Guess what? I'm too late. Not only did it happen 15 years ago in the Netherlands, but the adopted kid sings a song about it!

Have you seen the Jib Jab funnies? I'd never heard of them until now. Since we have a federal election this weekend in Oz, I thought I'd include a little electioneering comedy in this edition of Waffle.

Beeb time: Pakistan tells international donors that relief funds will reach flood victims and will not fall into the hands of extremists. Hmmmm. A Colombian court has declared as unconstitutional a deal which gave US troops access to its military bases. The plan allowed the US to use seven bases to help with operations against drug trafficking and terrorism. But it was criticised by other Latin American countries over a concern about the rise in US influence in the region. Oh? I'm not sure I understand the "concern". Does that mean drug trafficking and terrorism are preferable to US influence? Almost 4,000 people are killed on the world's roads every day, according to the campaigning charity RoadPeace which is marking National Road Victim Month. So who was the UK's first fatal car accident victim - exactly 114 years ago - and what happened? You can read about it here. Australia should become a republic when Queen Elizabeth II dies, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said just days ahead of a general election. Welsh-born Ms Gillard said the Queen's death would be an "appropriate point" for Australia to move away from having a British monarch as head of state. Australians voted against becoming a republic in a 1999 referendum, but the issue continues to be divisive. Ms Gillard's main opponent, Tony Abbott, is a staunch monarchist. I'm of the opinion that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

By late Saturday night, we should have a reasonable indication as to which party will govern Oz for the next 3 or 4 years. It's too close to call in my view. It's as tight as a fish's proverbial. Gillard will definitely not get my vote. By the same token I'm not all that thrilled about voting for Abbott. So who else is there? Well, there's Bob Brown of the Greens who's had a personality bypass. I can't remember an election where I've been so undecided. Kevin Rudd won the last election which surprised me. Even more surprising was former PM John Howard being ousted from his own seat of Bennelong. So yeah... in politics, anything can happen, including Rudd's recent dismissal as leader of the ruling Labor party. Currently, the polls are favoring Abbott with just 3 days to go.

I'm just watching a cooking program featuring Indian roasted chicken. All you need is about a million herbs and spices and about 50 years of practice. The second chef is cooking some Malaysian chicken curry dish that uses about a thousand kitchen utensils. What's the bet neither of those chefs has to do the dishes? Ah! One of the chefs just said, "Cooking is all about love and sharing, so if you're not sharing, what are you doing it for?" Yes... I couldn't agree more. ALL TOO HARD. Gary

August 17, 2010. Got some interesting and useful feedback about the Green Room vid on Youchewb from TX Greg and Oregon Richie. So I deleted the first attempt, made a new vid and posted it. It's much shorter - just 90 seconds, and more to the point. Bloody amazing really... a 90 second ad on the most watched TV channel in the world for free. Hehe. Well, if it stimulates a bit of interest in GR that'll be cool. I should have thought about doing something like this a long time ago. BTW, I'm happy to receive all comments and suggestions about the vid. In advertising, they talk about the USP... unique selling point. But when you're dealing with a bloke like Cody (or Kyle in this instance) it's not easy to narrow his attributes down to a single quality. I chose teenage suicide because it's such a major issue, and used bisexuality as a secondary issue in order to attract max views. Anyway, we'll see how it goes.

Narelle, one of the girls at the local pharmacy where I get my medication, suggested I go to the nuts and bolts shop. THE WHAT? When I first got Bluey over 18 months ago I noticed one of the wing bolts that secures the battery compartment lid was missing. Yes, a bolt with a wing top, and the local hardware store didn't have any. So today, on my way to Pro Carb, I got lost and guess where I ended up by accident? Yeah... the nuts and bolts shop. So, I got my new wing bolt plus a washer for $1.20... and I told the bloke the story about Narelle. Her father is apparently a great fan of the place and is always there buying bits and pieces for his tractors and whatever. And Pro Carb? I just wanted to tell them that Bluey is going great and that I'm a happy camper. The idle could be a bit lower but that can wait until the next service.

My mate Jan Gray sent a couple of pics of crocodiles he photographed while he was in far north Queensland. One was on the bank of some river, and it was 4' longer than the tinnie he was paddling. Sheesh. So he said he hightailed it outta there quick smart. I wrote back and said, "Ya know what worries me most about those buggers? They all look well fed!" And he wrote back and said, "They are!"

Beeb time: The World Bank is to loan $900m (£574m) to Pakistan, as the country struggles to deal with the worst floods in its history. Nice to know that somebody cares. A US appeals court rules same-sex weddings in California cannot continue while it considers the constitutionality of the state's gay marriage ban. Gays don't have equal rights. Is that what they're saying? Pardon me while I puke. A former Israeli soldier is criticised for posting images of herself on Facebook posing with bound Palestinian prisoners. How sick can you get? A Colombian plane crashes during a storm as it comes into land on a Caribbean island, but all but one of the 131 people on board survive. I hate bumpy landings that cause you to spill your drink. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has broken step with President Barack Obama on plans to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 terror attacks, saying he disagrees with its construction. I'm inclined to agree. Mosques are cool, but ground zero is probably not the most appropriate location. If, however, the mosque goes ahead, so be it. Get used to it. In a free country, anybody has the right to buy the house next door. A Hungarian Catholic priest who spreads God's word from a skateboard has become an internet sensation. A video of the Reverend Zoltan Lendvai, 45, in action has attracted almost 170,000 hits on YouTube. The video, Funny Priest Skateboarding, shows Rev Lendvai, clad in full clerical garb, displaying his moves. Funny is right, and I don't mean funny ha ha... although it does make an amusing change from the regular pulpit. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has officially launched her election campaign in Brisbane, five days ahead of polling day. Ms Gillard made a Barack Obama-style Yes We Will pledge to help the workforce and "transform" health care. Opinion polls are suggesting a tight election, and her opponent, Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott, is fighting an unexpectedly strong campaign. And it all happens this Saturday when voters do their thing. Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor has received her last rites from a priest in a Los Angeles hospital following surgery to remove two blood clots. "Zsa Zsa Gabor has seen a priest and is not doing very well. She's in a serious condition," her publicist told AFP. The actress, 93, was readmitted to UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center days after her release following hip surgery. The star was originally admitted to hospital in July after falling and breaking several bones. I think it's called the Use By Date. Sad but true. Women who drink five glasses of beer a week are increasing their risk of developing the skin disease psoriasis. No worries. For starters, I'm not a woman (I checked), and secondly I drink a lot more than that. AND my psoriasis has vanished. So there. 


August 16, 2010. Okay, posted the Green Room vid to Youchewb after a lot of buggerizing around. There's no sound track cos I wasn't sure what to use, and figured maybe it's better without one. Your comments are welcome.

It's late, but maybe I can do a quick Beeb: Economic growth in Japan has weakened significantly, growing just 0.1% between April and June, quarterly GDP figures reveal. When you're tall, you don't need to get much taller to remain tall. Ban Ki-moon describes as "heart-wrenching" the destruction he has witnessed on a fact-finding visit to flood-hit Pakistan. I can only imagine what he saw first hand. It probably defies description. At least eight spectators are killed and more are wounded at an off-road motor race in California after a vehicle crashes into them. Thrills come at a cost. If they didn't, they wouldn't be thrilling. The new US commander in Afghanistan, Gen David Petraeus, says US forces will only begin withdrawing in 2011 if conditions allow. And guess what? 

When it rains it pours, right? I received a call from a telemarketer earlier today and got chatting about stuff. At the end of it all I said, "how long have we been talking? 15 minutes?" And she said, "no, 45 minutes." Sheesh. But she was quite interesting, and we discussed all kinds of things. She was from a pest control company and the convo started with me saying, "My pests are overseas in England at the moment, so I don't need any pest control." Later, some Indian bloke called and I told him about the 45 minute call to the previous telemarketer and so we got chatting about that. But he got a little confused about things so he transferred the call to his supervisor. That all got a bit much so I terminated the convo. And just a minute ago another Indian bloke called and asked if I was the owner of this telephone number. So I said, "No, the owner is not here at the moment, and I'm robbing the place." "Oh? So what are you robbing?" "Everything. I've got a big bag full of stuff and I was just about to leave when you phoned." "And what's in the bag?" "All sorts of things... computer, TV, jewellery, stereo, cameras... everything." "Oh, that sounds good. Maybe we can do a deal... I won't phone the police if we share all the things you're robbing." Hehe.

Oh dear... how one manages to pass the time.

Oregon Richie wrote: Obama is getting a load of flak about "his support" for that ground-zero mosque.. which misses the point, because what he's supporting... a little matter called a core constitutional right, is the key to all this.  Funny how something like about 80 % of those polled seem to forget that. It's a difficult one for sure. Are all Muslims fanatics? Are all Muslims terrorists? Should religious freedom be selective? And if so, how can you have selective freedom?

I got a phone call from a friend this morning who's just returned from a mobilehome trip around Kakadu. He'll be in the Taree area soon with a CD of photos. Stay tuned for a new guest traveler on Aussie Odyssey.

Next Saturday is election day in Oz for the federal goverment. Bleh. May the least boring win. Hehe. Gary

August 15, 2010. Another day that shot through like a Bondi Tram. I started the day with an idea for putting together an 'ad' for Green Room on Youchewb. Not an easy job ya know. I've written thousands of ads in my time but I think this is the most challenging. I thought about fronting the camera as the author but then decided against it. Anyway, I'll keep working on it and then post it when it's ready. You can be the judge. I won't tell you what I'm doing... I'll keep it as a surprise! I'll let you know when it's posted.

So then I felt obligated to make the shepherd's pie cos I'd promised Averil and figured she'd be expecting it for dinner. Took longer than I thought. Grrrr. It was still hot when I delivered it next door. And Averil's reaction? "I can smell it! It smells delicious, and I don't think I can wait!" There was enough to fill two plates, so she can have one for later. Same for me, and all for $10 hehe.

BTW, Jace, Oregon Richie was so chuffed with the Cape Town link you sent, he favorited it. So there ya go. It's a special town for Richie... he's been there.

It's Monday morning now. I think I strained the old brain too much with the GR vid yesterday. Anyway, I meant to mention that yesterday was Wingnut's birthday... 23 years old. I wonder if he' still in touch with the Ts and Steve and Steph. Nine years is a long time in young bloke's life, and anything could have happened.

I'll post today's Waffle a little later on today. Gary

August 14, 2010. Here we go... half way through August already. And where did today go? I dunno. I was just sitting here and it whizzed by. Did a little shopping, mostly for Averil, and chatted a bit. I've been dining on rubbish since L&S left, and noticed the results in the lav, so I figured I'd better get stuck into something more healthy. Chicken breast in filo pastry with cheese and spinach tonight. AND CHIPS. But when I was chatting to Averil I looked at some of the supermarket brochures and said, "I can do better than this shit!" So I bought some ground beef (premium, of course), celery, carrot, onion, spuds, grated cheese and will make a potato pie (cottage/shepherds pie) which we can share... with green peas in it as well. Yum! I can do the whole thing for about 10 bucks, which translates to $2.50 a serve, and there's enough for two meals each for Averil and me. Yeah... she's happy with that. Hehe.

Sooooooooooooo, Ohio Jace wrote: Last week we had 3 storms in one day, the first, I slept through, the second sent everyone to the basement with winds over 70 mph. Trees were down, power was off all over town, with trees and power lines on fire. An egg farm was hit for the third time since 2002; killing two this time. The third was weakening as it passed over. Today we had another with more wind and blinding rain.

Oh? I've never been through anything like that... not THAT serious. The basement sounds like a great idea.

Sean, David, Lucas, Jeremy, and Code are toasting their buns at the beach this week.

Right. I'm not sure I need to know about that. Buns? Tanned? Naked? Thanks very much for the visual, Jace, but I think it's time to move on.

Code starts kindergarten this year.

Code starts kindergarten? He was born 5 minutes go. What is this? I can't believe how fast kids grow up. When I met Ohio Jace, Sean was 14 and not even an uncle yet. And now he's a young adult ready to take on a teaching career. And Code can tie his own shoelaces? What was I doing while all this was happening? It all happens too damn fast if you ask me.

Jace also sent this link to some spectacular pics of Cody town, otherwise known as Cape Town. Scroll down when the page loads. And keep scrolling... it goes on forever. Fascinating stuff... with lots of historic photos as well. Thanks for the link, Jace. It's a ripper.

Finally, Jace wrote: On Waffle you mentioned the American $. The $1 coins are currently being minted with Presidential portraits, 4 per year, or Sacagawea on the obverse side with the Statue of Liberty on the reverse (Presidential) and Bald Eagle (Sacagawea) until 2007 when the reverse changed, now having a new design each year.

They are available at most banks, but you get dirty looks if you try to use them in commerce, (no place in the cash drawer for them). Also, we tried to get rid of the penny too, but in both cases John Q Public bitched and moaned so. It cost more to mint the penny than it is worth. The same applies to the $2 bill/note, which was produced until 1966 and reintroduced in 1976 and still printed, but rarely seen and also hard to use in commerce, many peeps thinking they are counterfeit. (Peeps have been arrested trying to pay with $2.). We used to have a $500, $1000, $5000, $10,000, and $100,000 bills/notes, but not at present having been discontinued in 1969. They are still legal tender though.

So there ya go... and the day's gone. No time for a Beeb today. But I sent a link to Oregon Richie about an entertainer in Britain - Norman Wisdom. He went from a hobo sleeping under bridges to one of Britain's best loved performers, knighted by the Queen. It's a helluva story about what a bloke can do if he sets his mind to it. THIS one about Wisdom is just marvelous... fantastic, and I viewed all 3 segments.  I did not know much about him, but... what an awesome story... and the man was pure art and talent... even how he used every nuanced little expression and move of his body was quite the craft, and... so it appears, a genuinely nice guy as well. Gary

August 13, 2010. FL Josh wrote: Last night, on America's Got Talent, they had a young man from Taiwan by the name of Lin Yu Chun make a guest appearance and his performance was nothing short of magical.

This young man is 24 years old, 5'7" tall and weighs 254 pounds.  He was bullied as a child because he was fat, but he loved to sing.  He lost contests because he was not physically attractive and his father gave him an ultimatum.  Give up singing or get out of the house.  He gave up singing.  Five years later, he saw on youtube the clips of Susan Boyle singing on Britain's Got Talent and she motivated him to try again.  This Spring, he entered the Taiwanese equivalent of American Idol, but after a few wins, he got voted off the show by the judges.  The backlash was immediate and strong and the show invited him back for the next two weeks to perform as a "guest."  Then he put videos of his performances on youtube and it went viral.  This was last April and Ellen flew him to the United States to be on her show, and while here he also appeared on the George Lopez show.  He was amazed at how big Large Pizzas are here compared to what they get in Taiwan.

To make a long story short, a month later, Sony signed him to a record deal and this week he got flown to the US again, to appear on America's Got Talent.

Personally, I like this performance on the George Lopez Show better. It's a mind blower.

And if you'd like a bit more of Lin - and you've still got some tissues left - check out his performance on Ellen Degeneres.

Youchewb is a wonderful phenomenon. One time, talent was chosen by showbiz "experts". Now talent is being discovered on Youchewb by people like you and me, and the "experts" are quick to jump on the bandwagon to take the credit. Hehe. What a joke. Fuck the casting couch and the 'who you know' crap. If you're good enough, all you need is Youchewb. People power. That's what Youchewb has offered to aspiring talent. And it's a bloody wonderful thing.

I mean who the hell wanted to know about Lin Yu Chun before he posted a vid on Youchewb? Who wanted to know about Susan Boyle? Who wanted to know about Cody Simpson? Who wanted to know about Justin Bieber? Who wanted to know about Greyson Chance? And now these people are appearing on Got Talent, Ellen, Lopez, etc. Go figure.

Beeb time: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari tries to ease public anger at his handling of the country's floods crisis by visiting affected areas for the first time. He must've read about it in the papers. Burma's first general election for two decades will be held on 7 November, the ruling generals announce. No wonder it's called a "general" election. Two Malaysian men have been found guilty of setting fire to a church in January this year in a row over the non-Muslim use of the word 'Allah'. The two had claimed their burn injuries were sustained at a barbecue. Well, ya know, ya gotta watch those non-muslims running around the place using words that don't belong to them. A Swedish driver who was caught driving at 290km/h (180mph) in Switzerland could be given a world-record speeding fine of SFr1,080m ($1m; £656,000), prosecutors say. The 37-year-old, who has not been named, was clocked driving his Mercedes sports car at 170km/h over the limit. And he wasn't even in top gear yet. The Mercedes SLS AMG has a top speed of 317km/h. Why? Er... I dunno. A US judge who overturned California's same-sex marriage ban has ruled gay nuptials may resume on 18 August. Supporters of the ban, who argue it was created to protect the traditional idea of marriage, were quick to file an appeal against that decision. Mr and Mr, Mrs and Mrs. Get used to it. I wonder if I'll be around to see American's first gay president. Iraq's top army officer has criticised as premature the planned US troop withdrawal by the end of next year. Lt Gen Babaker Zebari warned that the Iraqi military might not be ready to take control for another decade. Gen Zebari's warning echoes the remark by Saddam Hussein's former Foreign Minister Tarik Aziz last week that the Americans were "leaving Iraq to the wolves". If that's the case, the entire involvement by the "coalition of the willing" will have been a total waste of time and lives

Is it the responsibility of western democracies to send their troops to the world's trouble spots to fight terrorism and defend freedom? You could ask the same question of the medical fraternity. Is it their reponsibility to fight disease wherever it might occur? Disease has only one place to go if it gains a foothold.

ZYX wrote: Talking to yourself?  Be thankful. It's probably the most intelligent conversation you've had in years. Quite right, Gerry. Myself and I get along pretty well together and agree on most things. Hey, I don't even mind if either of us farts. But I've often wondered about people who knock on doors and say, "Is anyone there?" I mean, they are there, aren't they? They really should say, "Is anyone else there?" But ya see, people don't think like I do... except you. I'm always amused by Lindsay when Sue's in the loo and he knocks on the door and says, "Sue? Are you gonna be long?" What would he do if she said "Yes!" What he really means is, "Sue? Hurry up! I'm busting for a pee!"

Speaking of pees, I just had one in the loo and for some obscure reason was thinking about the time I was MC for a concert at the Sydney Opera House back in 1976. How's that for a claim to fame? How many people have been on stage in the concert hall at the Sydney Opera House? And ya know what? NOBODY TOOK A PHOTO! Can you believe that? My big moment and nobody took a photo?

But back to the things people say. Yes, people don't always say what they mean, or mean what they say. I rarely say, "How are you?" because it requires an answer. "G'day" doesn't require an answer, only a response. Besides, to be honest, most times I really couldn't give a rat's ass. I don't wanna know about their problems, I want them to know about mine! AND NEVER ASK A PERSON OVER 70 HOW THEY'RE FEELING. Or they'll tell you. Averil's fallen into that trap. She tells me about last night's lack of sleep whether I ask about it or not. She tells me about her toilet habits. She tells me about the sores on her body. She tells me about her heart palpitations. She tells me about her aches and pains. STOP IT! I DON'T CARE! TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE! What is it about older people that makes them think their state of health is a riveting topic of convo?

Ohio Jace also wrote some interesting stuff but I'll save that for tomorrow. It's almost din dins time. What am I cooking? An Asian dish named after a type of Chinese ship. I'm on kitchen vacation. Oops! I almost forgot... today is Friday the 13th and so far... no dramas. Gary

August 12, 2010. Back in 1984, I started a new job at a radio station in Sydney called 2DAY FM. And there was a weird thing sitting on my office desk. I'd never seen one before, and it scared the hell outta me. For several weeks I ignored it. And then, one day when no one was looking, I turned it on.

The world's funniest commercial with almost 18m views? How about this one?

And how can you be sure when your eyesight needs attention? Well, here's one particular example. And here's another one. Hehe. No wonder those commercials were banned.

Meanwhile, I finished a little ditty about forms and the lunatic bureaucracy that goes with them, and posted it on Red Bubble.

Which reminds me, I told my doc yesterday that I suffer from vertigo, and that I often have dreams about being in danger of falling from a great height... like crawling on my hands and knees across the Sydney Harbor Bridge. And I said I often visualize the earth revolving around the sun in space, and imagine it suddenly losing its grip and spearing off into the cosmos. Hehe. It's a worry ya know. I mean, I know it's highly unlikely given that it's been doing its thing for billions of years without major incident, but even so... it all looks a bit too precarious for my liking. I honestly believe that God should have bolted the damn thing onto something solid.

Beeb time: Stricken communities displaced by Pakistan's massive floods are increasingly desperate, officials say, as the UN launches a major appeal. I imagine that 'increasingly desperate' is a huge understatement, and a predicament most of us can't even begin to imagine. US forces are on target to end combat operations in Iraq by the end of the month, the White House says. One would sincerely hope so. Osama Bin Laden's former cook and driver has been sentenced to 14 years in prison by a Guantanamo Bay tribunal. Sudanese-born Ibrahim al-Qosi had admitted conspiracy and providing support for terrorism. However, he could serve far less time because of a plea deal which is likely to remain secret for several weeks. Under the agreement, Qosi also admitted working as Bin Laden's bodyguard and helping him avoid capture by US forces. So much for the sardine, now to catch the shark. A Massachusetts man who was rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung came home with an unusual diagnosis: a pea plant was growing in his lung. Doctors believe that Mr Sveden ate the pea at some point, but it "went down the wrong way" and sprouted. Ah, yes, of course, the ol' pea in the lung trick. I should've guessed. If you design a typewriter keyboard using the traditional alphabet, the typebars clash due to the key arrangements. So what do you do? You rearrange the alphabet. And that's how QWERTY came about. Shops throw away 1.6m tonnes of food every year, but many are now distributing their leftovers to those in need. That's been happening in Oz for ages. Waste not, want not. Workers have misspelled the word school on a road approaching a high school in North Carolina in the United States. Crews painted "shcool" on the approach road to Southern Guilford High School. Guess who needs to go back there?

Remember Mr Magoo, and how he used to wander around the place thinking aloud and making silly noises? Yeah... well that's what I've been doing in this big house since L&S have gone and left me all alone here. I find myself babbling away and chatting to nobody. Hehe. It's a bit of a worry.

It's not much different to this Waffle page, really. Here I am waffling away not knowing if there's anyone on the receiving end. I could be talking to myself for all I know. But it's good therapy. Hello? Anyone there? Yoohoo! Dozen madder.

Did you know there was a bloke named Ludwig, born 1770, the year that Jimmy Cook navigated the east coast of Oz, whose compositions would never be forgotten? He was still composing and performing when he was stone deaf. Check out Moonlight Sonata... it'll make you feel good.

And here it is again played on classical guitar. The man was a genius, to put it mildly. Oh, to have such talent.

So that's almost the end of another Thursday. Whoosh. And what am I cooking for dinner tonight? Don't ask. I'm on a junk diet. Actually, it's not too bad... chicken schnitzel with cheese in the middle, and a corn fritter. Bung it all in the oven and Bob's yer uncle. But I have to say that feeding oneself is not the greatest incentive to be creative in a culinary way. Another way to put it is "I can't be bothered." Gary

August 11, 2010. Back from a routine checkup by my doc... blood pressure's "excellent", got a few skin cancers burned off, yadda yadda. And I asked him the question about who am I. I told him that my birth was not planned, and that I'm the result of a faulty condom. Then I asked if a single ejaculation contains millions of sperm. He nodded. So I said, "well if it only takes one sperm to fertilize the egg, and that's me, who were all the other guys?" My doc smiled and agreed that my dad's single ejaculation potentially contained a million or more individuals, and that all of those wriggly little tadpoles would have been genetically different. In other words, amongst all that feverish activity to be first to fertilize the egg, there was only one me, and if I hadn't made it to the finish line first, I wouldn't exist... not then, not ever.

So then I proposed the notion that "LIFE" itself is the important thing, and that individuals were a disposable means of keeping the cycle ongoing. It's the species that's important. When scientists rescue a species from near extinction, they talk about the species rather than the individuals - the fact that perhaps millions of individuals have disappeared in the past is not the point. Rescuing the species for future generations is the point.

Sooner or later, the sun will expand and consume planet Earth, and that'll be the end of all living things as we know them, unless of course human beings manage to colonize another planet. Perhaps human curiosity and its ambition to explore outer space is a subconscious desire to preserve the species and LIFE. Remember the story of Noah and the Ark?

Anyway the doc reckons there are basically two philosophies:- you can either believe that there's a Higher Power that determines how all things shall be, or alternatively that everything occurs randomly with no particular driving force other than survival of the fittest or happenstance. Well, I think I subscribe to the random theory. What's the point of staging a race if you know who's gonna win?

So there ya go. I am the result of a union between an egg and a tadpole; potentially one of millions of tadpoles in a race that would reward only one winner. And all the other guys who dipped out were not me, they were someone else... guys or girls who were denied the opportunity to become a human being.

And here's something interesting. I am the result of a faulty condom, which means my tadpole just happened to be in the vicinity of the hole, and probably one of relatively few that managed to escape, in which case it was an unfair race that prevented the "best man" from winning. Hehe. That might explain why I was the only redhead in the family, and so different to everyone else.

Beeb time: A tropical storm bringing more torrential rain is sweeping towards the region of north-west China hit by massive landslides, forecasters warn. As if there's not enough misery already. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his new Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos, agree to re-establish diplomatic relations. Until the next disagreement hehe. Sorry, I shouldn't have said that. Experts warn that a drug-resistant new superbug which originated in India and Pakistan has now entered hospitals in the UK. Sounds like a scary contest going on here... the harder we humans try to eradicate the bugs, the more resistant they become. Is this God's way of keeping us on our toes or some nasty sinister game he's playing? Mexico's supreme court has ruled that same-sex marriages in Mexico City must be recognised throughout the country. The ruling does not mean other states have to allow gay weddings on their territory. Two of the court's 11 judges voted against the measure, arguing that it would damage the harmony of the federal system. Last week the supreme court ruled that the law allowing gay marriages in the capital was constitutional. The court will now consider the legality of allowing adoption by gay couples. If you have a problem with that ruling, join the KKK. In hidden vaults across the country, the US government is building a stockpile of $1 coins. The hoard has topped $1.1bn - imagine a stack of coins reaching almost seven times higher than the International Space Station - and the piles have grown so large the US Federal Reserve is running out of storage space. Americans won't use the coins, preferring $1 notes. But the US keeps minting them anyway, and the Fed estimates it already has enough $1 coins to last the next 10 years. The one dollar coin replaced the Aussie one dollar note back in 1984. The Aussie one and two cents coins were withdrawn from circulation in 1992. The lowest denomination coin now is 5 cents, and the lowest denomination note is $5. Didn't America have a silver dollar coin back in the wild west? When my dad was a kid, we still had farthings and halfpennies. Entertainment giant Walt Disney reports a 40% jump in profit thanks to hit movies such as Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland. And there's a bloke who had to borrow $500 from his uncle to get the business off the ground. Tata Motors has reported a return to profit thanks to strong domestic demand for its cars and increased sales of its Jaguar and Land Rover brands. Even Rudyard Kipling could never have predicted Indian ownership of such entrenched British icons. 

Hmmm. So now I'm thinking thoughts about where I belong. I mean, truly belong. I've led a vagabond life, moving whenever and wherever whim beckoned. And out of the 20-plus places I've lived there are only two that really matter, where I felt I truly belonged. When I dream of a night, those are the only two places I dream about - the house where I was raised, and my little terrace house in Glebe. I left the former 42 years ago, and the latter almost 20 years ago. But the past is gone and cannot be recaptured. All I can do now is find another place where I belong. And I wonder where that might be. Gary

August 10, 2010. One of the craziest Aussies - if not the craziest - to have ever lived was Spike Milligan.

Contrary to popular belief, Apollo 11 was not the first manned mission to land on the moon. In fact, it was an Irish rocket manned by Spike Milligan.

It's wet and DREARY today. Averil phoned "just wondering" about when I'm going shopping next. Hehe. And she wanted to know if I was gonna get a cheap chewsday pizza tonight. Hmmm. Well, I dunno... it's gray and wet and not the sort of weather I like to venture out into. But we'll see. Yes, dear Breth, I'm not the most adventurous person on the planet hehe.

Getout of Afghanistan says Rob O' Leary, and he's running for congress. What do you think?

4pm and yes, I did the pizza thing and paid Averil's bills and did a little shopping. The pizza will need to be reheated but that's okay. Meanwhile, let's check the Beeb:

The United Nations is to launch an appeal to help Pakistan tackle the country's worst flooding in 80 years. That's what neighbors are for, and we're all neighbors. Former Mexican president Vicente Fox has called for the legalisation of drugs, arguing that prohibition has failed to curb rising drug-related violence and corruption. Mr Fox said legalisation did not mean that drugs were good. But he said it was a strategy that could reduce the power of the cartels. Fox has a point, prohibition doesn't work... but you have to wonder about the downside of legalizing something so destructive. Honda is recalling more than 384,000 vehicles in the US because of problems with the ignition interlock mechanism. The recall involves about 197,000 Accord and 117,000 Civic models from the 2003 model year, as well as 69,000 Element vehicles from 2003 and 2004. The fault could allow the ignition key to be removed without the vehicle being shifted into "Park" and could cause a car to roll away, Honda said. My first car didn't have "Park". In fact my next 7 cars didn't have "Park". AND Bluey doesn't have "Park". Singer Rod Stewart is to become a father for the eighth time at the age of 65, it has been announced. The pop star is expecting a second child with his model wife Penny Lancaster, 39. The couple already have a four-year-old son called Alastair. "We were thrilled and delighted to be able to tell Alastair that he was going to be the big brother to a little baby," the pair said in a statement. Jeez, at 15 that kid will have an 80 y/o dad. But you have to hand it to Stewart... he's one helluva guy. German police have shut down the Hamburg mosque where the 9/11 hijackers met before their suicide attacks on the US in 2001. Police said they believed the Taiba mosque was again being used as a meeting point for extremists. The cultural association that runs the mosque has also been banned. "We have closed the mosque because it was a recruiting and meeting point for Islamic radicals who wanted to participate in so-called jihad or holy war," said Frank Reschreiter, a spokesman for Hamburg's state interior ministry. Jihads are an attempt by religious radicals to eliminate dissension because they are incapable of using logic and reason to support their case. In other words, dear Breth, they're dickheads

It's late! Gary

August 9, 2010. L&S are on their way to London. I took a few pics at Taree airport this morning.

The airport manager is an American, and it was rather strange to hear an American accent over the PA in a country town in Oz, calling attention to a flight about to depart. "Y'all have a nice flight, now."

So here I am all alone in a great big house... all by myself! Oh well, I'll just have to be brave. Normally if I hear a noise in the middle of the night I think 'oh, it's THEM'. But now if I hear a noise in the middle of the night I'm gonna think 'WOT DAT?'

Beeb time: Colombia's new President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez are to meet for talks on Tuesday, officials say. Hopefully, they understand the meaning of compromise. China sends thousands of rescue workers to a remote county where deadly landslides have left more than 1,400 people dead or missing. Meanwhile, here's li'l ol' dummy me wondering why people live in areas that are flood prone and/or prone to landslides. Indonesian police arrest the controversial Muslim preacher Abu Bakir Bashir on terror charges, saying there is proof he was linked to a militant training camp. Good. And my congratulations to Indonesian authorities. If something like that happened in Iran they'd give the guy a medal. Iranian lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, who has been defending a woman facing death by stoning in Iran, has sought asylum in Norway. Mr Mostafaei said he had fled Iran last week fearing arrest, firstly reaching Turkey by car, horseback and on foot. One of Mr Mostafaei's clients is Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. See what I mean? Any regime that legitimizes death by stoning is barbaric. No question. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has attacked the US over the release of the Lockerbie bomber. Cardinal Keith O'Brien said the Scottish government was right to free Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi last year on compassionate grounds. US lawmakers want Scots politicians to explain their decision to a committee, but the cardinal said ministers should not go "crawling like lapdogs". He said Scotland had a culture of care, while the US was fixed on vengeance. The bloke's a dill and would be wise to keep his trap shut. A bridegroom in Turkey has accidentally killed three relatives while firing an AK-47 in celebration at his own wedding, Turkish media reported. The groom lost control of the weapon as he tried to fire in traditional celebration in the air at the ceremony in the village of Akcagoze in south-eastern Gaziantep province. The guests were sprayed with bullets and the groom's father and two aunts were killed. You already know how I feel about guns.

Ya gotta watch this: Hugh Laurie chatting with Craig Ferguson.

Well, the day has vanished. It happens ya know. You wake in the morning and the next thing you know, the sun's setting. And you think 'what the hell was that all about?'

Oh dear, I shouldn't be watching this program on telly. You like honey? Well, you're eating bee vomit. They use their probiscus thingy to extract nectar from flowers, which is then turned into honey in their abdomen. When they get back to the hive, they regurgitate the honey into the wax comb. Bee vomit. Hehe. See? I told you I shouldn't be watching this program. Gary

August 8, 2010. Perfect winter's day... mild, sunny, no wind, blue sky... AND spring is in the air. I noticed the deciduous plants and trees beginning to bud. And I'm sure the birdies are busy with their nests and egg-warming. And so the cycle of life continues for yet another year.

By this time tomorrow, L&S will be airbussing their way to London and I'll be able to use the loo without fear of being gatecrashed. Won't that be lovely?

Remember the old Vampire jets? I took a pic of one yesterday at Wingham.

Beeb time: More heavy rain in Pakistan is frustrating efforts to help millions affected by devastating flooding in much of the country. How do you measure misery? As the Japanese city of Hiroshima marks the 65th anniversary of the world's first atomic bomb attack, a member of the US crew that dropped the weapon talks to the BBC's Kristin Wilson about his memories of that day. Read his story here. California's governor and attorney general have asked a US federal judge to allow same-sex couples to wed pending an appeal against his rejection of the state's same-sex marriage ban. And why not? 

And why not? Lots of people believe that marriage should remain the exclusive preserve of opposite-sex couples. Well, the fact is, as long as same sex couples keep having babies, homosexuals will continue to be born. So the obvious answer to ridding society of homosexuals is to ban heterosexuals from getting married and having babies. Yeah? Too easy.

On the other hand, and to be fair, there's always two sides to a coin.

After watching that video, I'm inclined to think that the guy was not homosexual in the first place. He just thought he was, and so did his clients. I mean, you get guys who marry and raise families and THEN admit they're gay... after having lived a straight life for decades. So, if straights can become gay, it follows that gays can become straight. Yeah? But that's just my opinion. In other words, I don't believe sexuality is necessarily set in concrete for life. If the "right" person walks into your life and rings your bells, they could be either sex. Anything is possible hehe.

Hey, nothing surprises me anymore.

So, I'm gonna try this new potato thing tonight. Boil some spuds, peeled but not cut, until tender. Place in foil-lined baking dish. Allow to cool. Use palm of hand to crush... gently. If necessary, break larger portions into smaller bite-size pieces. Spray with cooking oil. Sprinkle rosemary over. Bake in moderate oven until all the bits are golden brown and crunchy. Tonight I'm serving them with leftover meatloaf and gravy. Note: You don't need to be gay to do this. Gary

August 7, 2010. Well, first up, I received this note via email this morning: Late last night the Coalition announced it won't be voting for an internet filter that censors the web. This comes after the Government responded to our campaign by deferring the filter until 2012 (with the likelihood that the filter will never come back in its current form). 

If you enjoy a good laugh, you gotta watch this skit with Stephen Fry.

*KERTHUMP* Sue's into the beer again. I found her on the kitchen floor after a fall, trying to hide the bottle. Hopefully there's no more beer. Lindsay must've bought it. I don't need this shit.

There's been a lot of recent media attention paid to the legitimacy or otherwise of same sex marriage. I suppose it all depends on how one defines marriage. If marriage means a union between two people of the opposite sex for the purpose of having children and raising a family, then it follows that two people of the opposite sex who can't have or don't want children should be banned from marrying. Meanwhile, I'm mindful that all criminals, idiots and other assorted social misfits in this world are the product of marriages between people of the opposite sex who have children.

Beeb time: Global climate change talks have moved backwards since last year, say negotiators from both rich and poor nations at discussions in Germany. The US envoy Jonathan Pershing said some countries had "walked away" from commitments made at Copenhagen last year to contain greenhouse gas emissions. He warned that record global temperatures, devastating floods in Pakistan and forest fires in Russia were "consistent with the kind of changes we could expect from climate change, and they will get worse if we don't act quickly". Problem is, it's not until you stub your own toe that you realize just how painful it is. The worst floods in Pakistan's history have affected 14 million people, with floodwater reaching Sindh province, officials say. Yesterday they said 4 million people. A giant sheet of ice measuring 260 sq km (100 sq miles) has broken off a glacier in Greenland, according to researchers at a US university. There was enough fresh water locked up in the ice island to "keep all US public tap water flowing for 120 days," said Prof Muenchow. He said it was not clear if the event was due to global warming. Too many smokers flicking Bics if you ask me. The mayor of Reykjavik has dressed up in drag to mark the opening of the Icelandic capital's gay pride festival. Jon Gnarr, a top comedian who became mayor in June, appeared on stage on Thursday night in a floral-print dress, blonde wig and bright red lipstick. "The mayor unfortunately could not attend himself," he told the crowd. In 2009, Iceland became the first country with an openly gay head of government, when Johanna Sigurdardottir became prime minister. Note the use of the word 'openly'. A US appeals court has ruled a couple who gave their children Nazi-inspired names should not regain custody, citing the risk of serious injury to them. Adolf Hitler Campbell, 4, and his sisters, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation, 3, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie, 2, were taken from their New Jersey home in 2009. The case first came to public attention in December 2008 after a shop refused to decorate a birthday cake for Adolf. Yep, even the crazies can go forth and multiply. No problem.

Back from Wingham. I went there to get a few pics of the Beaut Utes show but all I found was lots of horsepower and horseshit, a bunch of cowboys without cows but nonetheless wearing cowboy hats, dickheads drinking rum and Cola, and far too much noise from revving V8s for the health of my hearing. Bleh. So I left without taking so much as one photograph - not of them, anyway.

Right, cooking time. If you like cooking, and Asian in particular, here's a site for recipes by a Malaysian Aussie named Poh. She has a TV show in Oz which is very good. Mmmmm. Love Asian food... but she's pretty good at other cuisines as well. Gary

August 6, 2010. A Red Bubbler just thanked me for my comment on her photo and left the 'r' out of Gary. Oh dear... But she corrected it and sent it again. My mother wanted to call me Patrick, which is my middle name, but my father insisted on Gary. I think he was a big fan of Gary Cooper. A red-haired Gary Cooper? I don't think so. Besides, Cooper was born Frank James Cooper.

I've often pondered the mystery of why I am me. I said to Averil yesterday, there are millions of sperm in a single ejaculation, and it takes only one of those little tadpoles to fertilize the egg. "So who were all those other guys who didn't make it? Were they me or someone else?" And then you get a single sperm that fertilizes an egg that splits into two to make twins - or three to make triplets. Although the twins or triplets have much in common, even to the point of being identical physically, they are still separate individuals with their own personalities, etc. Anyway, I can't figure it out.

If the tadpole that created me had missed out, and one of the other guys managed to fertilize the egg instead, would the embryo have been somebody else rather than me? Even female?

I suspect that I am the person I became because of certain environmental influences and all kinds of other influences, genetic or otherwise, that shaped me over the years. Basically, I'm a bunch of memories. If those memories are ever destroyed by alzheimers or dementia, then I disappear. I'm no longer me. I cease to exist. Weird, huh?

Beeb time: The worst flooding in Pakistan's history has affected more than four million people and left at least 1,600 dead, says the UN. I wonder what they did to arouse Allah's wrath? Al-Qaeda in Pakistan remains the biggest threat to the US and its interests abroad, says an annual US government report on terrorism. Ah, it all makes sense now. Allah is punishing Al-Qaeda in Pakistan for not doing enough to destroy America! The Japanese city of Hiroshima is marking the 65th anniversary of the world's first atomic bomb attack. For the first time, a representative of the United States, which dropped the bomb on the city, is attending. About 140,000 people were killed or died within months of the bomb being dropped by a US aircraft in 1945 in the final days of World War II. Japan surrendered after a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later on 9 August. What was Japan thinking at the time? That America had only one bomb? Bubba Watson fires a first-round 64 to lead the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by two shots as Tiger Woods looks set to lose his world number one ranking. I guess that's the problem with achieving number one status. There's only one way to go after that. A "poo-powered" VW Beetle has taken to the streets of Bristol in an attempt to encourage sustainable motoring. The Bio-Bug runs on processed methane gas generated as part of the raw sewage treatment process. Engineers from Wessex Water estimate the waste from 70 homes would generate enough gas to run the car for 10,000 miles (16,100km). Despite being powered by fuel created from sewage, the car does not smell unpleasant. "It performs like a normal car - you wouldn't know it was powered by biogas," a company spokesman said. And that ain't no shit, bro.

Maybe one of these days we might be able to poo straight into the tank!

Speaking of Beetles, here's a vid of the last unit production of the old Beetle. Pretty interesting stuff.

And while I was on Youchewb, I checked out Gary Cooper.

Well, while L&S are in England, the ongoing rent has to be paid. So, they sign a couple of withdrawal forms in advance (they still do their banking the old fashioned way) for me to cash at appropriate intervals. The thing is, Sue's hands are ratshit and she can't sign her name very well. She has spent the entire afternoon stuffing up several withdrawal forms, leaving none for Lindsay. Then she asked if I have any Whiteout... the correction fluid you use when you make a mistake typing on paper. Yeah, imagine that... using Whiteout to correct a signature on a bank withdrawal form. Fortunately, Lindsay woke from his afternoon nap to discover the problem and has since gone to the bank to get some more forms. It's Friday afternoon and the banks will close shortly for the weekend, and won't open again until L&S are well on their way to Sydney to catch a flight to London. Which leaves me... up the creek. They've organized all their travel arrangements, such as converting their cash into British pounds, etc, but they've left me till last. Typical.

Ah ha! There's an empty bottle of beer in the kitchen. So that explains that.

The operation to remove the skin cancer on my leg is provisionally planned for November, which I guess is okay. That's 3 months away. Unfortunately from time to time it is necessary to DELAY OPERATIONS DUE TO MORE URGENT CASES AND EMERGENCIES. We hope this will not happen in your case but if it does we trust that you will understand.

It's Friday... fish 'n' chips. Can't eat meat cos we'll all go to hell. Hehe. Can you believe when I was a kid eating meat on Fridays was a sin? Gary

August 5, 2010. An old bloke asked if he could sit on my fence. He said he's just had a quadruple bypass and was feeling a bit knackered. "You can sit on my fence anytime you want," I told him. "I had it specially made for people to sit on." So we chatted for a while and swapped stories about heart operations. His were a lot more traumatic than mine, it appears. He reckons his recovery after the op was more traumatic than the op itself. So I told him about mine - leaving the hospital on my own the morning after the op, walking all the way from Royal North Shore hospital to St Leonard's station, catching the train to Central, walking all the way from Central to Countrylink and just managing to catch the train back to Taree in the nick of time. Yeah, talk about stress! And there was the nurse at the hospital telling me to avoid stress and to eat lots of salads hehe. Salads schmalads.

Yesterday, I filled in a form for admission to the local hospital for the skin cancer operation. I had to answer a zillion questions, like the one about alcohol and how many drinks I have each day. I answered one. Hehe. But I didn't say how big it was. They carry on about MUST this and MUST that... like who will accompany you home after the op, and who will be with you when you arrive home. So I lied. There's no way I'm gonna stay in that joint one millisecond longer than absolutely necessary, and there's no way they're gonna keep me there if I don't have anyone to escort me home. Bugger 'em. I told them I'll get a taxi home but in fact I'll walk. It's only two blocks.

I mean who do these people think they are?

Beeb time: A US federal judge has overturned California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. The judge found it unconstitutionally discriminated against same-sex couples who sought to wed. Backers of the ban intend to appeal against the judge's ruling. The case is likely to reach the US Supreme Court. Hey, who "owns" marriage? The state? The bureaucrats? Not in my book. Almost three-quarters of the oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico has been cleaned up or broken down by natural forces, the US government says. Oh dear, what a shame. It wasn't the end of the world after all. Counting is under way in Kenya after a poll on political reform which seems to have passed off without incident, in a historic first. Well, thank god for that. Common sense seems to have prevailed. Thirty-eight billionaires promise to give at least half their wealth to charity through a campaign started by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Which is as it should be. More than you need is just that; more than you need. A military dog named Gina is recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder after a six-month tour in Iraq, where she conducted door-to-door searches. A veterinarian diagnosed the dog with PTSD, which some experts say can affect animals in a similar way to humans. The two-year-old dog returned home to Peterson Air Force base in the US state of Colorado one year ago terrified, skittish and fearful. And why not? Dogs are not robots. Dogs have feelings... trust me

Right, bills are paid and shopping's done, including Averil's. "How come you get twice as much stuff as we do when there's only one of you and three of us?" I asked. She's big time into the chocolates and cakes and biscuits and whatever. And I'm pretty much pleased with the way Bluey is running after all the crap she's been through. Not bad... not bad at all. AND IT'S ABOUT BLOODY TIME!

I was in a store while painters were doing their thing, and the staff asked one of the painters if he'd get them a snack across the road... fruit juice and a sandwich. But the manager, a woman, asked for a sausage roll and coffee. Hehe. So I piped up, "And make sure the sausage roll is vitamin enriched and low fat!" Yeah, right. "That's not the way they come," the manager grinned. But, ya know, it's hard to resist sausage rolls... all that lovely spicy and fatty meat wrapped in pastry. Mmmmmm! Love 'em.

L&S will be leaving for England on Monday morning at sparrow's, so Lindsay rabbited on about cheap meals until then. No worries. I made a meatloaf tonight for about $10, and that will cover 2 meals... tonight with roast spuds and gravy, and later with mash and peas. How cheap can you get? Trust me... my meatloaf is to die for. It really is!

Okay, let's end the day with Mr Bean Goes Swimming. Could've done without the canned laughter, but it's funny anyway. Gary

August 4, 2010. Gonna jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton... Remember Lonnie Donegan and his skiffle group? Good to hear them again. You don't get that stuff on the radio these days.

And here's a song Lonnie is better known for... My Old Man's a Dustman.

And remember Bernard Cribbins? No, of course you don't. Bernard who? Check out Right, Said Fred.

AND... can't leave this little bit of reminiscing without Charlie Drake and My Boomerang Won't Come Back.

Were they the good old days? Maybe. Certainly, life was a lot less complicated back then. I wonder if the 1990s and early 2000s will be considered the good old days in another 40 or 50 years time. Lindsay told me this morning that there was a drug bust yesterday just up the road, with sniffer dogs. Can you believe it was right outside the court house and police station in broad daylight? And one of the cases being heard in court was a murder. So much for sleepy little Taree.

I question the legitimacy of references to certain periods as being the good old days. Feeding Christians to the lions wasn't too friendly. The Crusades weren't terribly Christian in my opinion. The Industrial Revolution and child labor was pretty horrific. The first and second world wars with all their death and destruction and misery were nothing to celebrate. Maybe we tend to forget the bad and remember the good.

Beeb time: Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki has appealed to Kenyans to vote peacefully and in large numbers in a referendum on a new constitution. Voting in Oz is pretty boring by comparison... no soldiers with automatic weapons slung over their shoulders, patroling the streets. BP has started the "static kill" of its leaking Gulf of Mexico oil well, a step towards permanently sealing it. So what does that mean? There's oil there but we can't access it? Seems like a waste. The authorities in Saudi Arabia tell telecoms firms to block the messenger function on Blackberry handsets from Friday. You're kidding me! There are telecoms firms over there? Wow! A worker at a Connecticut beer distributor shot eight co-workers dead and wounded at least two others before killing himself. Officials said the gunman had been caught on video stealing from the company and was to be sacked. Oh, so he was carrying a gun? Well, there ya go. I guess that explains how he shot people. The teenage daughter of former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has split from her fiance for a second time, weeks after getting re-engaged. Bristol Palin told People magazine: "It's over. I broke up with him." Daughter of who? Oh, yeah... right. An attempt to stop a plan for a mosque near New York's Ground Zero has failed after the site was denied landmark status. The scheme for a 13-storey Islamic cultural centre and mosque several hundred feet away from the site of the Twin Towers has drawn criticism. Sarah Palin and other prominent Republicans have attacked the mosque plan, but New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said Muslim religious freedom must be respected. Oooo, that's a tricky one. Do we blame all Muslims for the actions of a lunatic minority? Welfare workers in Australia's Northern Territory have told an official inquiry that children are starving in some remote Aboriginal communities. The disturbing new allegations of neglect have been presented to government-appointed investigators. The abuse of alcohol and drugs by parents is often blamed for malnutrition in the young, along with unemployment, a lack of education and the high cost of fresh food in isolated indigenous settlements. 40,000 year old habits aren't easy to change ya know. A bottle that uses ultraviolet light to sterilise drinking water has won the UK leg of the James Dyson Award. The Pure bottle is the brainchild of Timothy Whitehead, a design and technology graduate from Loughborough University, who had the idea while travelling in Zambia. The water bottle contains two chambers. Dirty water is put in an outer chamber and the inner chamber is plunged through it, filtering water particles as small as four microns. Once filtered, the water is sterilised by a wind-up ultraviolet bulb in a process lasting 90 seconds. A prototype was effective in killing 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. Bravo! Thank god not everyone's nuts.

Yes, about the mosque thing in NYC. The suburb I grew up in in southwest Sydney was as Aussie as Aussie can get. Then came the Muslims who built a mosque right in the middle of owyagoinmatenoworries. Then other muslims moved in. Now the suburb looks more like something from the Middle East rather than a patch of Oz. But it makes me wonder what Australian Aborigines thought when they saw Christian churches springing up all over their land during the 18th and 19th centuries, and the dominance of a new and foreign culture. Go figure.

Religious freedom is granted by secular governments and other non-religious authorities to their citizens. But countries governed by religious groups are far less likely to tolerate other religions. Therefore, if you're religious, you're less likely to be tolerant. Yeah? Is there something wrong with my logic here? If a Muslim calls me an infidel, can I accuse him of being politically incorrect? Was Jesus a Christian? Did Adam and Eve have navels? Does God have a penis? How did Mary break the news to Joseph that she was pregnant with God's child? "Joe, darling, I have something quite amazing to tell you. You're not gonna believe this but..."  Why was the conception called 'immaculate'? Immaculate? Is there something grubby about sex between human beings? There's so much I don't understand, dear Breth. Soooooooo much I don't understand. Gary

August 3, 2010. I'm off to see the doctor, the wonderful doctor of Oz. Yeah, right. He carves up people for a living. What's so wonderful about that? Anyway, I'm due there shortly so I better get organized. It's only 2 blocks so I'll walk... even though it's a bit showery. Actually, I saw an umbrella this morning - sort of octagonal, with several straight sides, and quite large. Then again, so was the woman carrying it and she needed all the protection she could get. 

BACK! Jeez, no muckin' about with this doc hehe. You're in an out in a flash. Very busy. Anyway, I laid on the table and he checked out the wound. I wore my new invention... a milk bottle top placed over the wound and secured with tape. A bandage would have stuck and been difficult (not to mention painful) to remove without being wetted. He reckons with a bit of luck the removal of the cancer might only require stitching and no skin graft, in which case I'll be in and out of hospital on the same day. If he decides a skin graft is necessary after the op, it'll be an overnighter. Apparently, the cancer is no biggie despite being wrongly diagnosed as eczema two years ago.

I tried to get a laugh outta the bloke but he was dead serious. "Put your shoes and socks back on," he said as he disappeared into the next room. So I sat on the edge of the table with my feet dangling in mid air. "I think my legs are too long," I yelled as I tried to get my socks back on. "I used to be able to do this no problem. I need shorter legs." So I heard him say from the next room, "Sorry, there's nothing I can do about that." So I said, "I think there is... but..." And at last I got a laugh outta the doc.

So there ya go. No melodrama, no prosthetic, no amputation, no crutches, no rehab, no headlines, no nuthin'.

W&D today... wet and dreary. So I ain't goin' nowhere. There'll be days like this on the Odyssey of course but I guess it'll be okay as long as my home on wheels has a few comforts under cover. Power is my main concern. I'd be lost without my laptop! Especially on rainy days when outdoor excursions are a no-no.

Actually, if I happen to be at a particular place where the weather forecast doesn't look too flash for a few days or so, I suppose I could splurge on a hotel room or something like that for a while. That might be fun. And I'm not talking about the Hilton here. No, no. More like some old cheap country pub, with a shower down the corridor and squeaky floorboards. I've stayed in pubs like that before, and lemme tellya it's quite an experience. You don't even have to tip room service cos there isn't any. The last time I stayed in a small-town country pub I asked the publican about breakfast and he said, "The kitchen's open from 7am... help yourself." And he meant it... toast your own bread, boil your own eggs, make your own tea. Hehe. But that was cool with me. I thought it was fun, and so did the other guests.

Beeb time: Up to two-and-a-half million people have been affected by Pakistan's worst floods in 80 years, International Red Cross officials say. 'Terrorised by Nature' says the headline. So it's Nature this time... not God or Allah. How convenient. US President Barack Obama confirms the end of all combat operations in Iraq from the end of the month, in a speech to disabled veterans. Not soon enough for them, unfortunately. US actor Charlie Sheen is given 30 days in a rehabilitation centre after pleading guilty to assault in a domestic abuse case. I'm constantly amazed and even baffled by the number of domestic violence cases that surface daily. Then again, I don't understand violence... period. Two men charged with plotting to blow up fuel tanks at New York's JFK Airport have been found guilty. Prosecutors had said Russell Defreitas and Abdul Kadir planned to cause a huge explosion by igniting the fuel depot and underground pipelines in 2007. Two down and how many to go? It's a worry. Whether it's Obama on the beach or the impossibly flawless skin of this month's glossy cover girl, any picture can now be digitally altered to tell an entirely different story. In the age of the airbrush, can we ever really believe our eyes? I see digital manipulation on Red Bubble all the time. Some photographers however list their pic as "As Is", which means it's straight from the camera. That's the way I personally prefer it. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he is willing to have "face-to-face" talks with his US counterpart, Barack Obama. In a televised speech to expatriate Iranians, Mr Ahmadinejad said he was ready to hold a debate with the US leader in front of the media. He said he planned to be in the US for the UN General Assembly next month. Can you imagine the ratings? They'd go through the roof! Shipments of Google's Android operating system for smartphones have rocketed by 886% in the last year, figures suggest. Huh? Wot dem? I don't even have a dumb phone yet!

Yes, as much as I'm willing to embrace new technology I can't keep up with it. I mean, Apple has just released iPhone 4 and I don't even know about iPhone 1 yet. I see kids walking around with all kinds of hand-held gadgets and things stuck in their ears and I have no idea what the hell they are or what the hell they do. I've heard of iTunes but I don't know what it's all about. And computer games? I'm still back in the 80s. Ads tell me I can SMS things. What the hell is SMS? I've never done it, and I'm not sure I want to. Hell, I don't even know how to use all the options on my mobile/cell phone. In fact, I've had my new one for 4 months already and haven't made a call yet... or received one. And yet my service provider still charges me $120 a year for something I don't use, but *might* use. At least with the old one I used to get the occasional wrong number calling. "Hello? Is Cyril there?" "No, sorry, no Cyril here, you've got the wrong number." "Oh, hehe, sorry, I must have the wrong number." "Yeah."

So that's what happens as you get older, dear Breth. You still think Saturday Night Fever is on top of the charts. You search the TV guide for The Honeymooners and can't figure out why it's not there. You see a photo of Neil Armstrong and figure it must be his grandfather. Technology becomes a blur, and you just can't cope anymore. You're waiting for Ronald Reagan to address the nation and some black guy is doing it. It's all so confusing.

Anyway, at least you can go to the kitchen and get back to basics. Meat pies, chips and eggs. Nothing confusing about that. Gary

August 2, 2010. Drove Bluey out to Nissan this morning at 8. Then they gave me a lift back and I was home by 8:30. There were five of us crammed into a little Nissan Tiida, including the driver - one of the young mechanics - and guess who was sandwiched in the middle of the back seat? Yeah. So everyone was putting on their seatbelts and I couldn't find mine without rummaging around and getting a bit personal with the blokes on either side of me. So the bloke on my right handed me the belt but then I had to fiddle around for the other half. "Pity you're not a good sort," I said to the bloke on my left. So that broke the ice and we chatted away merrily on the trip back into town. When we got there, the front seat passenger and the bloke on my right were first to alight, which left me still sitting in the middle next to the bloke on my left. The driver asked if I wanted to be dropped off before the other bloke so I said, "Yeah. Looks a bit strange me sitting so close to this bloke in the back but I can't be bothered taking off the seatbelt." It would certainly have been a strange sight to any casual observer hehe.

Well, fingers crossed that Nissan gets this carby idle right. I can't believe all the buggerizing around for the past 12 months or so. BTW, Bluey was parked next to a new Kia Pregio which made Bluey look a bit ancient. :(

TX Greg wrote to say: It's 103F today and not a cloud in sight!!! Talk about sweaty balls :(

Oregon Richie sent a note to say that Youchewb is extending video length from 10 to 15 minutes, which is good. Of course, content is the main thing. Sometimes 5 minutes is plenty, or even too much for that matter. Never bore your audience.

Well, ladies and genitals, the result of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program arrived in the mail today. My faecal occult blood test was... are you ready for this? NEGATIVE. There ya go. And they've advised my doc accordingly. However, I still have this pesky skin cancer on my leg that needs to be examined tomorrow by the specialist, who will book me into hospital for surgery. Dangit. It's all such a bloody nuisance.

Beeb time: The number of people known to have been killed by floods in north-west Pakistan passes 1,100, officials say. Life is precious, life is cheap. Which one is it? Or is it both? Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announce bans on some of the Blackberry mobile phone's services, claiming security concerns. Forgive them Father for they know not they're bloody drongos. July was Iraq's deadliest month for more than two years, Iraqi figures show, amid fears insurgents are exploiting a power vacuum left by inconclusive polls. Which makes you wonder if the Iraqis worst enemy is themselves. Cuban President Raul Castro pledges to ease state control of the economy, but rules out wide-ranging market reforms. What economy? It's been in tatters for decades! The daughter of former US President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has married her long-term boyfriend at a lavish ceremony. Chelsea Clinton and investment banker Marc Mezvinsky were married at the Astor Courts estate in New York state. Her parents said they felt "great pride and overwhelming emotion" at seeing their daughter married. The television star, Oprah Winfrey, film director Steven Spielberg, Hollywood actor Tom Hanks and singer Barbra Streisand are reportedly among the 500 guests. Here's Oregon Richie's comment: A lovely bridal gown, her new hubby dressed in his finest tux, and that'll all be torn off by now to their birthday suits, hee hee. A water-bomber plane fighting forest fires in western Canada has crashed, killing the two pilots and igniting another fire. The fire prevented rescue crews from reaching the wreckage, in the interior of the province of British Columbia. What tragic irony. Very, very sad. The Netherlands has ended its military mission in Afghanistan, after four years in which its 1,950 troops have won praise for their effectiveness. Dutch military chief Gen Peter van Uhm said security had improved in Uruzgan province during the Dutch deployment. Dutch command was formally handed over to the US and Australia in a small ceremony on Sunday at the main military base in Uruzgan - where most Dutch soldiers have been deployed. I'm not sure I understand the logic of leaving a job unfinished

As to the Facebook and Twitter thing, I'm pretty much convinced that social networks are not my thing. I'm much happier doing my thing on this Waffle page. Why limit myself to a few lines when I can babble on to my heart's content? Besides, it's not like I'm Barack Obama or Stephen Fry with a million things to report to an adoring public. I'm just boring ol' me. Barack's got a bullet-proof Cadillac and all I've got is 20 y/o Bluey. When was the last time Barack talked about carburetor problems? Meanwhile, Stephen is jetting around the world and I'm stuck here in Taree. So I think I'll dump the Facebook and Twitter idea. I thought it might be a good way to promote Green Room but it seems not. Oh well...

Actually, there are many things I don't understand about life... including my own. What the hell was I thinking when I did certain things years ago that were plainly dumb? I honestly can't believe I did those things. Was that me? Surely not. If it's not me now, how come it was me then? How many me's are there?

And now I'm waiting for Nissan to call and say that Bluey is ready, and that they're sending a car to pick me up. They close in about half an hour. Don't tell me they've discovered a problem and haven't finished the job, or that they were too busy or whatever. I don't need that. Well, 20 minutes later and I couldn't wait any longer so I phoned THEM. "The guys are working on the car right now." So there ya go... I guess they left my car till last even though it was there early this morning. They're sending someone around to give me a lift. But why did I have to phone them? I guess they're busy.

You wanna know what my problem is? I'm too nice. I don't complain. I don't kick up a stink. I smile a lot. That's my problem.

BACK! And Nissan didn't charge me a penny. Bluey's running pretty well... not perfect, but not bad. Idle's still a little higher than I'd like but I can live with it. And she gets along through the gears with plenty of zip. So that'll do. Gary

August 1, 2010. This is my 66th August so far. That's not all that many really, when you think about it in that context. Only 66? Drop in the bloody bucket.

It's quite late in the day and all I've done is fiddle around with Twitter and Facebook, trying to figure out whether or not it's my scene, and learn what the hell it all means. So far, I'm not sure I understand what all the fuss is about.

Youchewb, well, that's a different story altogether. I think Youchewb is one of the greatest internet innovations... endlessly entertaining with almost limitless variety. Which leads me to a link on Youchewb that Oregon Richie sent. Sardines anyone? I love sardines on toast, but I'm not the only one who enjoys these tasty little morsels. Fortunately, for us connoisseurs, there are millions of the critters and more than enough to go around.

Sorry about the lack of Waffle today, but there's always tomorrow. Gary


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