the WAFFLE page

October 31, 2010. Have you noticed we're getting shorter years lately? That's the way it seems to me. Another 8 weeks and this one's kaputski.

I noticed a vid on Youchewb this morning and was surprised it was made in 1986 - almost a quarter century ago. I remember it well. The teen in the commercial had a huge following. But according to one of the comments, he looks more like cricketer Shane Warne these days, which is not exactly a huge compliment. Sheesh. Almost a quarter century.

Back then I had an Amstrad computer with no hard disk drive. It used floppies that had something like a few hundred kilobytes of memory. I could type faster than the words appeared on screen. There was no internet, and the only computers compatible with mine were other Amstrads. It was basically a word processor... a typewriter with a green screen and a dot matrix printer. However, I wrote a helluva lotta stuff on that thing.

The Amstrad cost $1100, which included the software, the monitor, the keyboard, the printer and the manuals. My next computer, an IBM compatible 286 cost $3000 plus an extra $1100 for a Canon Bubblejet printer. Boom boom. The 386 had just been released (back in 1991) but the salesman wanted to get rid of his stock of 286s. When I asked about the 386 he said, "What do you want a computer for?" I answered, "Writing". So he convinced me I didn't need the 386 and that the 286 would be fine. WRONG! It's not about what you're currently doing, it's about the extra things you CAN do if you're aware of the possibilities. So the 286 became trash in no time. Big mistake.

Ditto with digital cameras. I didn't really understand the value of megapixels when I got started so I figured who needs more than a couple? Well, I found out, didn't I. High quality framed prints and posters require 10 or more. So if a salesman ever asks "what do you want to use it for?" tell him you don't know.

Beeb time: Prime Minister David Cameron says the device in a package sent from Yemen and found on a US-bound cargo plane was designed to go off on the aircraft. In Yemen, police have arrested a woman suspected of posting the packages. She was detained in the capital, Sanaa, after being traced through a telephone number she had left with a cargo company, officials said. Needles in haystacks, and you can't arrest the haystack. China has reassured the US it has no intention of withholding "rare earth" minerals from the market, the US Secretary of State has said. China suspended export of the metals, key to some high-tech industries, to Japan after a diplomatic spat. The US has pressed China, which has pledged not to use the minerals as a diplomatic weapon, to defuse the row. Yes, it's all of humanity that contributes to our overall welfare, not just one country. The toilet roll was invented in Oz, for example, and imagine life without THAT! Afghan President Hamid Karzai has criticised the first joint operation by Russian and US agents to destroy drug laboratories in his country. Mr Karzai said he had not been informed of Russia's participation - a sensitive issue in Afghanistan ever since the Soviet occupation ended 21 years ago. He called it a violation of Afghan sovereignty and international law. Russia said more than a tonne of heroin and opium, with a street value of $250m (£157m), was destroyed in the raid. Bugger sovereignty. If sovereignty can't fix the problem, find another way. A newly-tapped oil field off the coast of Brazil could contain up to 15 billion barrels of oil, officials say. If the 15 billion barrel figure were confirmed it would double Brazil's known oil reserves. Just when you thought it was all over... 

Here's a funny animated film about a tough night at the office.

I've just scrubbed Bluey's plastic bumpers with soapy steel wool, and I'm buggered. To make it worse, the bumpers aren't much better than they were. Oxidation and age are the problems. Anybody have any tips? And don't say exercise. I'm perfectly aware of my lack of fitness. DOING something about it is another matter. Gary

October 30, 2010. So now a bunch of retired military chaplains is requesting Obama not to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell because they say many chaplains who believe that homosexuality is a sin will be forced to choose between serving God and serving the military. Hello? I thought being a man of God was all about serving the PEOPLE. Jesus Christ those dingalings get me riled. What the hell do they have between their ears? If "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and "Love Thine Enemy" doesn't worry them, why should homosexuality? In any case, somebody created homosexuality and who do you think that was? And don't blame the devil cos the devil didn't create anything. Only one dude is responsible for ALL creation, right? So guess who created the devil?

Fair dinkum, I wonder how some people have the brains to walk.

I rather liked this Craig Ferguson interview with Sean Diddy Combs.

Speaking of Youchewb, I emailed a guitarist friend and asked him what he thought of that little Asian bloke playing Classical Gas, whose link TX Greg sent yesterday. My friend liked it but said "he's no Tommy". Well, maybe not, but Tommy is a lot older. I saw Tommy Emmanuel interviewed on Oz TV a while ago. He can't read a note of music... plays by ear. Here he is live playing a couple of Beatle songs. The guy's totally mind blowing.

Beeb time: President Barack Obama has said initial examinations of two suspicious packages bound for the US show they appeared to have contained explosive materials. He said the packages, found in the UK and Dubai on two overnight cargo planes from Yemen, were destined for Jewish places of worship in Chicago. Security alerts are under way in the US, UK and Middle East. The White House later said Saudi Arabia had provided information that helped identify the threat. Once upon a time it was whole armies that went to war. Now all it takes is a couple of loopies. Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano erupts again violently, sparking panic and causing ash to rain down at least 30km (19 miles) away. Allah must be trying to tell them something? A suicide bomber has killed at least 25 people and injured dozens in a town north of Baghdad, Iraqi officials say. The attacker is believed to have detonated an explosives vest in a cafe in the town of Balad Ruz, in Diyala province. The AP news agency quotes the mayor as saying most of the victims were men playing dominos and drinking tea in the cafe when the explosion happened. I'm so tired of hearing about this constant lunacy, but how the hell do you deal with it? A New York child can be sued for crashing a bicycle into an elderly pedestrian and causing injuries that led to her death, a judge has ruled. Juliet Breitman and another child were four years old when they raced their small bicycles on a Manhattan street and ran into Claire Menagh, 87. Juliet's lawyer had argued Juliet was too young to be held negligent. The judge disagreed, ruling Juliet's lawyer had presented no evidence she lacked intelligence or maturity. Is it just me or is the world getting nuttier by the minute? Mount Everest climbers can now surf the internet and make video calls through a 3G network, Nepalese telecoms firm Ncell says. The company has installed eight 3G base stations along the route to Everest base camp. There ya go, Richie. The authorities in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province say they have been "overwhelmed" by the number of prisoners wanting to be circumcised to help combat the spread of HIV. Some studies suggest being circumcised can help men halve their chances of contracting the Aids virus. A snip in time... Afghan militants have been flown into Australia to train the country's special forces in how to tackle the Taliban insurgency. Six guerrillas loyal to the warlord Matiullah Khan had been training troops due to be deployed to Afghanistan, said Australia's defence chief. Well, there's a twist. I thought we were supposed to be training them! James MacArthur, best known for playing Detective Dan Williams in the original Hawaii Five-O TV show, has died of natural causes at the age of 72. For 11 years MacArthur appeared in Hawaii Five-O, one of the longest-running crime shows in US TV history. "Book 'em, Danno."

And now for something completely different. Here's a bunch of people who like throwing each other around. They're so good at it, they won Britain's Got Talent.

Ohio Jace wrote to wish me Happy Halloween. Lots of creepy cartoon charactes singing along to "Heard It In The Graveyard". The little guys went trick or treating for the first time last night. Cody dressed as one of the creatures from the mega-hit movie Avatar. Steve was some kinda bug and was not too enthused about going door to door. We have never had beggars here except for Sean’s clan when they were small so I did not buy treats. I knew the boys were coming though so gave them my favorite candy M&M’s.

We have M&Ms in Oz but also Smarties, which have been around for decades. I remember Smarties as a kid. Not sure which came first tho... M&Ms or Smarties.

I've heard about the ridiculous things banks do but never met anyone it actually happened to until now. Here's Jace again: Guess what Bank of America did to me? Sent me a statement for $0.01, which is one penny. Cost them $0.31 to send it to me. If I do not pay it by the due date it will cost me $35.00 in late fees. It will cost me $0.84 to send it back. To top it off it was their mistake. Not sure if I can write a check for a penny.

Yeah, some dopey programmer forgot to tell the computer to ignore amounts below a certain level. Jace should inform his local paper about that. I'm sure they'd love it.

Since the yanks are out of the running for a podium I will root for Casey Stoner in the next two (motorcycle) races. The Championship has been decided, but there is a chance for Casey to take second place if he finishes well. By this time next month all racing will be on hiatus for the winter and I will be going through speed withdrawal. Might get to see some Aussie speedsters on the telly sometime or there is always Aussie rules football.

Aussie rules football? Sheesh, even I don't watch that. Gary

October 29, 2010. I heard on a weather report the other night that we're in for a wet summer. We're either bitching about not enough rain or too much rain. But at least it'll mean (hopefully) a quiet bushfire season.

Ohio Jace wrote: From Waffle:  Atlantic Hurricanes have only been given male names since about 1980 and they keep rotating the names over several years. With really bad storms (like Andrew) the names are retired and a new one added.

Received this pic (attachment) of Peter Lenz (45) and Austin DeHaven (right) after Peter won a pocketbike race and Austin finished second. Austin is three years older than Peter and just won the supersport young gun 2010 National Championship and as you know Peter won the USGPRU West posthumously. Peter was 9 and Austin 12 in the pic. Peter Lenz’s page has been updated. He has quite the resume. There are new photos too and facebook has been updated as well.

Cute photo, yes? Jace went on to mention another round of tornados in Ohio. It puzzles me why people live in places where the weather can be destructive and dangerous. If it were me, I'd move out. It rained so hard here I could not see the grass out the window. When the rain let up cars were stopped all over the highway out back. No accidents though just pulled over to the berm or median to wait out the storm. And here's me bitching about a few clouds and a bit of a sprinkle.

Beeb time: Indonesian officials say they are unlikely to find many more survivors from Monday's tsunami, with 394 people dead and more than 300 missing. On the one hand we keep telling ourselves that life is precious, but Nature keeps telling us the opposite. Microsoft announces a 51% rise in first-quarter profit, thanks to higher sales of its flagship Windows and Office software. Not bad for a company that lots of people like to criticize. The firms drilling a BP Gulf of Mexico oil well had tests showing cement used to seal it before it blew out was unstable, US investigators have found. The findings conflict with statements by US oil contractor Halliburton, which supplied the cement and has said tests showed it was stable. But a presidential panel on the disaster found that three tests prior to the blowout showed the opposite. Sooner or later... China has claimed the top spot on the list of the world's supercomputers. The title has gone to China's Tianhe-1A supercomputer that is capable of carrying out more than 2.5 thousand trillion calculations a second. I heard a bloke on telly last night say that by 2050, China, India and the rest of Asia will be responsible for 65% of the world's GDP, leaving the US and Europe with about 30%. Residents of US states from North Dakota to North Carolina are cleaning up after a fierce storm unleashed driving rain, blustery winds, heavy snow and 56 tornadoes in just two days. The National Weather Service said the storm had caused the second-largest October tornado outbreak on record. Ohio Jace wasn't kidding. The sight of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with apparent bruising to his face has sparked rumours he is ill or has undergone cosmetic surgery. The famously macho politician, 58, seemed to be wearing heavy make-up when he was photographed with a dark patch around one eye on a visit to Ukraine. Not everyone is prepared to grow old gracefully. Japanese carmaker Nissan is recalling 2.1 million vehicles worldwide because of an ignition problem. The recall includes nearly 84,000 Micra and Infiniti models that were built at Nissan's Sunderland factory between January 2004 and March 2006. Nissan said there had been no reports of accidents caused by the fault, which can lead the engine to stall while running. This recall business is happening a lot lately but I suppose it's better to be safe than sorry. A study into how much the internet contributes to the UK economy says it is larger than the construction, transport and utility sectors. Do you find that surprising? 'Haitch' or 'aitch'? How do you pronounce 'H'? Read the article here

Haitch or 'aitch is interesting. For example, we pronounce the H in hero but not in honor. Hehe. Furthermore, we use 'a' before hero but 'an' before honor. He is a hero which is an honor. We pronounce the H in horrible but not in heir. I think it's a horrible thing that he was chosen to be an heir. Here in Oz you could always hell a kid who went to a Catholic school because he said 'haitch'. A kid who went to a public school said 'aitch'.

TX Greg wrote: Ever heard of a guy named Mason Williams that had a old famous song called "Classical Gas"? WOW this kid knocks Mason's socks off playing that guitar!!!

Yep, I've posted links to that kid before, and he's something else. I'm intrigued by the way he lives completely in his head, oblivious to everything except his guitar and what's going on in his brain. I was gonna say I'm a bit like that when... but I won't.

Right. Leftover meatloaf, mashed potato/pumpkin, peas and gravy, just like... no, better than grandma used to make. Gary

October 28, 2010. Good thing I did the laundry yesterday. There are a few dark clouds hanging about today. Yesterday we got a high of 29C.

I asked Banister, one of the contributors to Justin's Blog, to explain "now" to me. How many nanoseconds are there in a given now? Do we exist in a series of nows or is it just one long now? Well, I wasn't expecting him to take me seriously but he did, and provided a fascinating explanation which includes a few personal anecdotes. He's a funny guy.

How reliable are dreams? I dreamed last night that someone told me I'd won Lotto. But when I checked my numbers this morning I hadn't. So there ya go. So much for dreams.

Speaking of funny guys, have you heard of Ray William Johnson? Well, you have now.

I remember a cameraman/editor going to great lengths to explain what 'jump cuts' were, and that they should be avoided at all costs. You need a transition between jump cuts. So he said. But Ray William Johnson does jump cuts deliberately, without transitions, and they work really well. Which all goes to prove... rules are there to be broken.

Pay day/Bills day and all that routine stuff. In and out. Back to square one. Yadda yadda. But at least a bloke's got a roof over his head, a bed to sleep in, food in the pantry and a flash Bluey parked in the garage. That ain't so bad. Later I'll do the shopping. Same old, same old. Maybe I should break out of the mold and do something really DIFFERENT. Something really BIZARRE. Something really RADICAL. Hmmm. Maybe later. Lemme think about it.

Beeb time: Aerial images from the tsunami-hit Mentawai Islands in Indonesia have revealed the extent of destruction, as officials raised the death toll to 311. Flattened villages are plainly visible on the images, taken from government helicopters circling the islands. Rescuers, who have finally reached the area, say 13 villages were washed away by the 3m (10ft) wave, and 11 more settlements have not yet been reached. Check out the images here. Congressional Democrats who cast tough votes will be rewarded with re-election, President Barack Obama has told Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Mr Obama is the first sitting president to appear on the Comedy Central show, in an interview to air on Wednesday. On the programme, Stewart challenged the president to answer why, two years after he won on a promise of hope and change, his fellow Democrats "seem to be running on 'Please, baby, one more chance"'. You can read the transcript here. At least 60 people have been killed after part of a building collapsed on guests at a wedding in northern Afghanistan, officials say. And no bomber in sight. Prosecutors in Mexico say gunmen have killed at least 15 people at a car wash in the west of the country. At least two others were injured in the attack early on Wednesday in Tepic, Nayarit state. Local media reported that the victims were mostly young men who lived at a drug rehabilitation centre. Police say rehab facilities are increasingly being targeted by drug cartels who suspect the clinics of harbouring members from rival gangs. This is evil at its most sick. An American car enthusiast has paid £2.6m to buy James Bond's most famous car - and then vowed to take it for a spin around the streets of London. The 1964 Aston Martin DB5, which boasts revolving license plates, ejector seat and bullet-proof shield, featured in the films Goldfinger and Thunderball. Don't look at me! I'm not even American! Sales of new homes in the US rose 6.6% in September to a seasonally-adjusted annualised rate of 307,000. The figure beat market expectations of a rise to just 300,000. And not before time! Osama Bin Laden has reportedly tied the kidnapping of five French people in Niger to France's treatment of its Muslim minority. An audio message said to have been recorded by the al-Qaeda leader says the abduction was retaliation for "France's injustice to Muslims". It says forthcoming French curbs on the full veil are "colonial oppression". The speaker identified as Bin Laden also tells France to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks on the US and other atrocities, is America's most wanted man. It still puzzles me how so many people can follow a lunatic like bin Laden as they did with Hitler back in the mid 20th century. Rocky and Bullwinkle creator and animation artist Alexander Anderson Jr has died at the age of 90. Thanks a stack for the contribution, Alex. A heterosexual couple are launching a legal bid to become civil partners. What's their problem with getting married? There ya go... gay couples are demanding equal rights in marriage and here's a straight couple wanting a civil ceremony

Back from shopping, and a reminder of how cruel nature is. I drove into Averil's drive to see a magpie eating a dove - obviously a fresh kill. As I approached, the maggie carried the dove to a safer place to continue its meal. Averil was understandably upset when I told her. She feeds the doves with wild bird seed. But that's the way it is, I'm afraid. The world is just one big menu. "Think about it next time you have chicken for dinner," I said to Averil, to which she replied, "shuddup!" My mother refused to watch nature docos that showed animals killing other animals. But like it or not, it's a fact of life. And death.

I think I like trees. Trees don't kill things (well, some do but most don't). Trees just hang around shooting the breeze, sucking up goodies from below the surface of the earth, minding their own business and providing shelter for birds and other animals. Trees are cool. If I were God I'd be vegetarian. 

However, I'm not God so therefore THEY are having steak and onions tonight and I'm having chicken and chips. And I'll do my best not to think about the dove.

Oh... and there's a young bloke at the supermarket who thinks I'm a bit of worry hehe. A few years ago when he first started working there, I asked him about his nationality, and he said Filipino. He paused a moment and then added, "and Australian!" Anyway, I apparently gave him the impression that I fancied him, and he's been nervously avoiding my eyes ever since. But today, as I stood in line at a busy checkout, he approached me and said, "would you like to come to number 7?" Ooer! And then he manned the previously closed No.7 ready to serve me. Best looking checkout chick I've seen in ages! And I was the ONLY one he served. After I'd gone, he closed the checkout. So during our fairly brief encounter, I did my best to allay his fears... that I wasn't about to rip his clothes off and wrestle him to the floor. Well, not there anyway. It'll be interesting to see if he's less intimidated by my presence in future. Stay tooned.

Kitchen time again. Bleh. But somebody's gotta do it. Gary

October 27, 2010. It's a beautiful day - perfect. So I better do the laundry. Bleh. Disposable clothing, that's what we need. Or maybe we could do away with clothing altogether. Hmmm. Lemme think about that a little more.

Just checked Youchewb and found this vid about the old double decker buses. Yes, I have fond memories of those, like climbing the narrow stairs at the rear and getting a front seat on the top deck. It was kinda weird sitting up there pretending there was no driver. Hehe. They were the days, my friend, and we thought they would never end.

I have to thank FL Josh again for giving me the tip about how to get around my washing machine's idiosyncratic behavior. She's an old girl with a few worn out bits but she still works okay provided you nurse her along. Lindsay doesn't wanna know about it so he takes his and Sue's washing to the laundromat, which probably costs him the best part of $30. Bugger that. I can do mine for zip. So it just goes to prove that if you wanna solve a mechanical problem get a lawyer. Preferably a free one like mine.

Beeb time: More than 100 people are killed and many are missing in Indonesia after a tsunami triggered by Monday's powerful earthquake. If that happened to a Christian country rather than a Muslim country like Indonesia it would be explained as Allah's punishment. At least 13 people are killed and thousands flee as Mt Merapi, Indonesia's most volatile volcano, erupts, hurling rocks and hot ash into the air. And there we go again. Tariq Aziz, for many years the international face of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, has been sentenced to death by the Iraqi Supreme Court. He was convicted in connection with the persecution of religious parties, a statement said. Aziz, 74, served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister and was a close adviser to Saddam Hussein. Still following his leader's example, I see. The proportion of plant and animal species known to be close to extinction is rising - but conservation efforts are pulling some back from the brink. You have to wonder if dinosaurs were still around today, and endangered, whether or not efforts would be made to save them. The US and Iraq should investigate claims of abuse contained in files published on the Wikileaks website, the UN's rights chief says. Navi Pillay said the files suggested US forces had continued to hand detainees to Iraqi authorities despite evidence that they had been tortured. "The US and Iraqi authorities should take necessary measures to investigate all allegations made in these reports and to bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings, summary executions, torture and other serious human rights abuses," she said in a statement. Cody used to love his enemies. After belting the crap out of them he'd apologize. The chairman of British Airways has said some "completely redundant" airport security checks should be scrapped and the UK should stop "kowtowing" to US security demands. Practices such as forcing passengers to take off their shoes should be abandoned, Martin Broughton said. I've always wondered how you spell 'kowtow'. Modern humans could have reached East Asia much earlier than believed, according to new evidence. An international team analysed fossil teeth and part of a jaw unearthed in southern China in 2007. In the journal PNAS, the scientists say the fragments belonged to a "modern" human who lived 100,000 years ago. The study is likely to be controversial: the earliest humans previously known from East Asia were half this age. Oh, is that all? Makes Moses look pretty recent. Islamist militants told Abdus Salam he would go to heaven if he blew himself up. Initially he believed them, and trained to become a suicide bomber. Now 14, he tells the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan how he narrowly escaped a violent death. It's not a surprising story but you can read it here. Michael Jackson has come top of the annual Forbes magazine list of top-earning dead celebrities. Not too thrilling for Michael but pretty cool for the rellies. Playwright Joseph Stein, who wrote hit Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof, has died aged 98 in New York. Almost double Michael's age but still a drop in the bucket

How's young Grayson Chance doing these days? Check him out.

I watched a Brit show on TV last night about a music teacher who was having a lot of trouble getting students at his high school to sing in the choir. Most of the kids thought it was uncool. It was a true story - a documentary. One kid with a really nice voice refused to sing above a certain note because he thought it was kinda girly. Hehe. KIDS! But I was the same. I was roped into singing in the school choir and told the teacher a lie - that I was getting headaches from singing soprano. But in the story last night on TV the teacher finally managed to convince quite a number of the kids to give the choir a go, and to make them feel good about singing.

Who makes the rules about what's cool and what isn't? The geniuses? The guys with the highest IQ? The most talented? No, of course not. The guys who make the cool/uncool rules are the LCDs... lowest common denominators, and they bully everyone else into remaining mediocre. The bully's decree is 'thou shalt not excel' (or be smarter than me). Gary

October 26, 2010. FL Josh wrote: This (Irish Ghost) story happened a while ago in Dublin, and even though it sounds like an Alfred Hitchcock tale, it's true.

John Bradford, a Dublin University student, was on the side of the road hitchhiking on a very dark night and in the midst of a big storm. The night was rolling on and no car went by. The storm was so strong he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him. Suddenly, he saw a car slowly coming towards him, then stop right next to him.

Without thinking about it, and desperate for shelter, John got into the car but as he closed the door, he realized there was nobody behind the wheel and the engine wasn't running. The car started moving again, heading slowly down the road. John looked ahead and saw a curve approaching. Scared, he began to pray, begging for his life to be spared. Then, just before the car hit the curve, a hand appearing out of nowhere through the window, turned the wheel allowing the car to negotiate the curve. John, paralyzed with terror, watched, then the hand disappeared just as suddenly as it had appeared. It never touched or harmed John in any way.

Suddenly, John saw the lights of a pub down the road, and gathering all his strength, he jumped out of the moving car and ran to it. Wet and out of breath, he rushed inside and started telling everybody about what had just happened, crying as he did so. A silence enveloped the pub as the people saw the emotion and realized he wasn't drunk.

Suddenly, the door opened and two other people walked in from the dark and stormy night. They, like John, were also soaked and out of breath. Looking around, they saw John Bradford sobbing at the bar, and one said to the other..... 

'Look Paddy....there's that idiot that got in the car while we were pushing it!!!!' 

I love Irish humor, and I admire the Irish for being such good sports about it. There are many cultures that would be seriously offended by having themselves sent up, because they take themselves far too seriously. The Brits send themselves up all the time and their humor is wonderful.

Actually, after watching a few vids on Youchewb of Orson Welles, I got the impression that he took himself too seriously. He was hailed as a genius and the consumate actor, but I think he made the mistake of believing his own publicity. I watched a clip of him playing the part of a wealthy benefactor in the company of Thomas Edison and another inventor who came up with the idea of alternating current, which Edison rejected as being unworkable and too dangerous. Edison invented direct current. Anyway, Welles' speech was delivered in such a way that I couldn't help being constantly reminded that he was acting, and that his style was all about contrived spontaneity. In other words, I saw Welles playing the part rather than Welles being convincing. But that's just me. I don't always agree with the experts.

For me, an actor's job is to convince his audience to forget who he really is and to believe who he's pretending to be. Welles didn't do that for me.

I can't act to save myself. I'm hopeless - at least in a physical sense on stage. But as an author when I wrote Daniel's Diary, I managed to convince Cody and others that Daniel was not me. Nor were any of the other characters. Hehe. I'm still dumbfounded by that. Years ago, I recorded a radio series called Little Alice Who Lost Her Fairy Story. It was about Alice who fell out of her book in a big library and couldn't remember which story she belonged to. So she went about visiting all the other fairy story characters in an attempt to find her own. I wrote the series and played all the parts/voices including narrator. There was no multi-track recording available back then so I recorded each episode in one hit, and used short music stabs to give me time to go from voice to voice; the wolf to grandma or goldilocks or a little pig or which ever character happened to be involved. Sheesh... that was 35 years ago. And do I have any copies of the recordings? No. I never kept anything. I lived for the moment and never gave a thought to one day being 66.

Beeb time: The US has voiced concern about Iran's "negative influence" on Afghanistan, after Afghan President Hamid Karzai admitted receiving cash from Tehran. "The government of Iran has been assisting us with five or six or seven hundred thousand euros once or twice every year, that is an official aid," he said. He said he had discussed the issue with former US President George W Bush. "This is nothing hidden. We are grateful for the Iranian help in this regard. The United States is doing the same thing, they're providing cash to some of our offices." Hmmm. The numbers of people killed by cholera in Haiti has slowed, the government says, as aid agencies seek to stop the disease from spreading in the capital. Well, at least that's something to be thankful for. The 33 miners rescued after 69 days trapped underground in Chile have been feted by President Sebastian Pinera during a palace reception in Santiago. Each miner was given a medal to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Chile's independence from Spain, which was celebrated while they were trapped. The 33 also played a football match against their rescuers and government officials. The government team won 3-2. That was cute... a football match between the rescued and their rescuers. A nice touch, even if the rescued did lose. Germany's diplomats were more deeply involved in the Holocaust than previously known, according to an official German government report. The government is considering making the 900-page text mandatory reading for all its diplomats. The report, commissioned by the foreign ministry, says diplomats were willing participants who spied on Jewish fugitives from the Nazis. One of the authors said: "The German foreign ministry collaborated with the Nazis' violent politics and especially assisted in all aspects of the discrimination, deportation, persecution and genocide of the Jews." The historians discovered the travel expenses of one senior diplomat who went to Serbia in 1941 to help organise the killing of Jews. The expenses form said simply: "Liquidation of Jews in Belgrade." How utterly callous. The US says it did not "turn a blind eye" to torture in Iraq, in response to allegations raised in files published by whistleblower website Wikileaks. Gen George Casey, who was in charge of US forces in Iraq from 2004 to 2007, said all soldiers were instructed to report any allegations of abuse. And then what happened to the reports? We know they existed because Wikileaks has just leaked them. Sony Walkman (Senior) has reached the end of side two. Its batteries have run out. The rewind button is broken. Lovers of music overlaid with hissing have reacted with sadness to news that Sony has ceased production of its celebrated portable cassette-playing audio device. It is survived by its neater, slicker, more junior MP3 descendant. But following its birth in 1979, an astonishing 220 million units were sold - testament to the device's status as a 1980s icon no less memorable than shoulder pads, Filofaxes and David Bowie starting to produce rubbish albums. Is it really THAT long ago? A seaside city in Italy is planning to ban miniskirts and other revealing clothing to improve what the mayor calls standards of public decency. I gave up wearing mine years ago. A patient lost a testicle during an operation because the surgeon cut it off by mistake, a General Medical Council (GMC) hearing has been told. Dr Sulieman Al Hourani was only supposed to cut out a cyst, but removed the whole right testicle instead. Sarah Prichard, counsel for the GMC, said the mistake was made as a nurse helping the surgeon turned her back to get a stitch. When she turned around the testicle had been removed. Gives a whole new meaning to the expression, 'having a ball'. 

I had to laugh at something Banister wrote on Justin's blog: he referred to male genitals as hydraulic equipment hehe. He's an engineering student.

Yesterday I mentioned no hurricanes named Gary. Well, I did a search and discovered that Gary is not on the official list.

Actually, in the interests of alliteration, I would suggest all hurricane names begin with H. Harry, Helen, Herman, Horatio, Harold. Even Hurricane Jose works. Yeah? Maybe even Hurricane Hobbit. But I had a friend who referred to every stiff breeze or draft as Hurricane Dora. The slightest movement of air was always Hurricane Dora. If his hair got messed up outdoors in the wind he blamed Hurricane Dora.

I just caught up with Q&A, a question and answer program on Oz TV, by watching it on iView. It was broadcast live last night but I was bye byes. Anyway, the guest was former PM John Howard who was quizzed by a television audience, and also by web cam, about his prime ministerial decisions during his 12 year reign. I thought he handled himself pretty well. But there were the usual idiot remarks by anonymous Twitterers, and one of the TV audience, a long-haired nitwit, decided to claim his moment of fame by throwing his shoes at Howard. How original. The host of the show was most apologetic but Howard was quite bemused, and held the arm of the host as he asked him to calm down. Anyway, it all goes to prove that anyone in public life has his share of supporters and critics. They both go with the territory. Even in private life they both go with the territory. And I think it's a big mistake to take take other people's opinions, for or against, too much to heart. What others think of you matters but what matters most is what you think of yourself. Amen.

In fact, come to think of it, bullies in schools have nothing on the bullying - or attempted bullying - that goes on daily in parliament. Do those guys have thick skins or what? They wouldn't survive if they didn't.

And now for something completely different... two athletes who will blow your mind, Martin and Stuckenbrok.

Well, that's it for Chewsdee. Time to make a meatloaf. Oregon Richie said he had a meatloaf sandwich the other day but I bet it wasn't as good as my meatloaf. And I'll bake spuds and a bit of pumpkin to go with it. And make some gravy. And I'll give a bit to Averil. Gary

October 25, 2010. John Vandeven, the fire chief and Red Bubbler who visited me recently, took some pics of the goods train derailment that happened at the border of NSW and Victoria the other day. It's since been discovered that a faulty wheel caused the accident, and not the newly-laid track itself. The force was so great, it ripped up 7 kms of concrete sleepers. How could a faulty wheel have escaped detection by maintenance workers?

I suspect that maintenance work on rolling stock used for freight is not as thorough as it is on passenger carriages. You know those beauty contests like Miss USA and Miss World, etc? Why isn't there one for large railway corporations called Miss Carriage?

Raining again. But at least the rain we're getting is not like the rain they get in the tropics, like the highlands of Papua New Guinea. A Red Bubbler who spent some time in PNG (he works for a mining company) said it rains ALL the time, and that everything is constantly wet and humid. I bet the mozzies aren't complaining.

Speaking of complaining, Stephen Fry was the reluctant adventurer again last night on a show about Madagascar and the lemurs that live there. Stephen doesn't like camping hehe, and he doesn't like being away from internet communications with his wi-fi. But he fell in love with the lemurs, particularly one species called Aye Aye - a nocturnal lemur that is as ugly as all get out but kinda cute in its own weird way. It has a long middle finger that it uses like a woodpecker uses its beak to detect what morsels may lie hidden in tree trunks. Tap, tap, tap, anyone home?

One of the many interesting things about lemurs is that they are primates that evolved differently to their cousins in Africa when Madagascar separated from the mainland millions of years ago. We also have examples of unique evolution here in Oz because of its geographical isolation. I find it interesting that Australian Aborigines hadn't changed for 40,000 years, and I can't help wondering if they ever would have if Europeans hadn't arrived. Actually, full-bloods haven't changed since European settlement but that's only a bit over 200 years, a drop in the bucket.

Beeb time: The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Haiti passes 250, health officials say, with more than 3,000 cases reported. Has anyone told God what's going on down here? Tropical Storm Richard has strengthened into a hurricane over the Caribbean Sea as it heads towards Belize and southeastern Mexico, officials say. Has there ever been a Hurricane Gary? I suppose it's only a matter of time. The leaking of new documents from the Iraq war is likely to increase pressure on governments to release details of civilian casualties in future conflicts. It is clear from these military logs that raw data about casualties in Iraq is there. The claim by the former US commander in Iraq, Gen Tommy Franks, that "we don't do body counts" is therefore demonstrably incorrect at a local level. The fat lady ain't sung yet, and it'll be interesting when she does. Stay tuned. The dismembered body of a young albino boy has been found in a river on the Burundi-Tanzania border, reports say. The boy, aged nine, was taken from Makamba province in Burundi by a gang that crossed the border, the head of Burundi's albino association said. Albino body parts are prized in parts of Africa, with witch-doctors claiming they have special powers. Superstition is alive and well in the 21st century... and not only in parts of Africa. Pope Benedict XVI has urged Israelis and Palestinians to push for peace in the Middle East and not to give up hope of a settlement. He spoke at the Vatican at the end of a two-week meeting of Catholic bishops from around the world. Peace would be the best way to stem the emigration of Christians from the Middle East, the Pope said. Hello? I would have thought the emigration of Christians from the Middle East was in the interest of both Palestinians and Israelis. Anyway, if Benny is serious, why doesn't he participate personally in negotiations instead of making lame statements from the safety of his gold-plated bunker? "I took off my hijab, and I threw it on the floor and my brother got really mad. It's the worst thing I could have done to offend my religion, aside from burn or tear the Koran. "My mother, she kind of stood still, and started listening, and it was very liberating that she finally wanted to hear what I had to say. I told her about my sexuality and I said 'that's right, I do meet girls, and I love it' and I told her that she had been hurting me really badly, and I will never forgive her." The story of a gay teen forced into marriage against her will by her family. Wikileaks has released almost 400,000 secret US military records, which suggest US commanders ignored evidence of torture by Iraqi forces. What is your reaction to these new leaks? The documents also reveal many previously unreported instances in which US forces killed civilians at checkpoints and during operations. Check out public feedback to this BBC version of the story

My own impression of the Wikileaks story is that there would be no point in releasing 400,000 documents if they weren't newsworthy, with something in the public interest - perhaps even sinister - to divulge. And I seriously doubt if treason and/or risk to combat troops was the motive behind the leak. What on earth could the Wiki people possibly gain from a publicity stunt that has no legitimate basis? I could be wrong, but I doubt it. In fact, after watching the Youchewb vid that's linked here, I doubt it even more. Loose lips sink ships, but exactly whose or what ships are we talking about here?

Desensitizing. It's a very interesting word that explains a helluva lot about the darker side of human behavior. Gary

October 24, 2010. Here's a nice piece on Youchewb where Orson Welles talks about his encounters with Churchill.

Orson once said that he wished people would talk to him rather than talk to Orson Welles. I'm pretty sure it was Orson who was the first guest Michael Parkinson managed to acquire when he started his Brit chat show decades ago. He flew to the US and visited Orson at his home. Parky was understandably very nervous. Orson invited him inside, saw the prepared notes Parky had in his hand and asked what they were. "My questions, Mr Welles." "Give them to me." Orson tore the notes to shreds and said, "Now let's chat."

Fortunately, I've never been introduced to Queen Elizabeth, and never had to worry about adhering to royal protocol. I think I'd have some difficulty addressing someone as 'Your Majesty'. I feel the same way about addressing a judge as 'Your Worship' or 'Your Honor'. I believe Australian courts accept 'Sir'. Actually, I remember American sitcoms from the 50s and 60s and hearing sons address their fathers as 'Sir'. I thought that was most odd. I even have trouble addressing someone as Mister unless it's in jest. It's the Irish rebel in me - or maybe the Aussie rebel. Or just plain rebel.

It's not raining in Taree at the mo but according to the radio it's pissing down all the way up and down the coast, and heading this way. Bleh. I saw a report on TV the other night about flooding in parts of the Murray/Darling river system. 10 years of drought and now floods. When it rains...?

Beeb time: The first cases of cholera are detected and isolated in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, raising fears over the outbreak that has killed more than 200 people. Reminds me of the leper colony scene in Ben Hur - that was 1959 when I was 15 and I've never forgotten it. Iraq's prime minister criticises the timing of the release by Wikileaks of almost 400,000 secret US military documents about the conflict there. The authorities are saying the leak is irresponsible but I suppose we'll have to wait to see whether that is so or not. Meanwhile, I'd like to know how 400 thousand classified documents managed to get into the hands of Wikileaks. The founder of whistleblowing website Wikileaks has defended the release of almost 400,000 classified US documents about the war in Iraq. Julian Assange said the "intimate details" of the conflict were made public in an effort to reveal the truth about the conflict. The "war logs" suggest evidence of torture was ignored, and detail the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians. And there you have the other side of the coin. At least 13 people have been shot dead at a house party in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, officials say. A group of gunmen burst into the party late on Friday and began shooting, police said. At least another 10 people were injured. Police said the victims were aged 14-20. The attackers escaped with no arrests made, a state prosecutor said. Ciudad Juarez has been wracked by such shootings as violence among drug gangs has escalated in recent years. Everyone involved in the illegal drug business has to share the blame, and that includes users. A US surfer has relived the horror of a fatal shark attack on his bodyboarding friend in California. Matthew Garcia said he first heard a desperate cry for help from Lucas Ransom as they surfed together at Surf Beach on Friday morning. Mr Garcia then saw the shark flashing out of the water and biting his friend's left leg off. The surfer eventually managed to bring Mr Ransom to the shore, but the bodyboarder bled to death. Lucas was just 19. The elegant writing style of novelist Jane Austen may have been the work of her editor, an academic has claimed. Professor Kathryn Sutherland of Oxford University reached her conclusion while studying 1,100 original handwritten pages of Austen's unpublished writings. The manuscripts, she states, feature blots, crossing outs and "a powerful counter-grammatical way of writing". She adds: "The polished punctuation and epigrammatic style we see in Emma and Persuasion is simply not there." Never underestimate the value of a good editor. MPs in Poland are debating the future of IVF treatment amid warnings from the Church that it should be banned. I propose that man interfering with nature is in fact nature interfering with itself. If man is not nature, what is he?

Yes, the illegal drugs biz. No users, no sellers. It's the same with child porn. No market no industry. Users and peddlers alike are guilty.

As to authors and editors, there are drivers and mechanics. Drivers win races and mechanics fix problems. Green Room was co-authored by Cody and me, and I did the editing. I couldn't have done it without Cody. What I'm saying here is that Jane Austen's editor couldn't have done it without her input. I read somewhere that John Steinbeck used to give his publisher hell with his hand-written notes, misspellings and bad grammar. But Steinbeck had the ideas; some would say the genius. I do my own editing, usually some time after I've written something. For me, editing is like wisdom in hindsight. You can't edit something that doesn't exist.

I wonder if Leonardo da Vinci had a publisher. He used to write everything backwards... from right to left. It's called mirror writing, and I can do it (running writing) as a left hander. I have no problem visualizing the shape of the letters in reverse as I write but, oddly enough, once they're written I can't read them unless I hold the piece of paper up to the light or hold it in front of a mirror. How weird is that?

Mid afternoon and the rain has arrived. It's not torrential though. Just your regular run-of-the-mill rain... enough to water the weeds and make them grow like hell. Thanks very much.

I cooked pork loin chops and boiled spuds with butter and parsley for THEM last night, so I thought it was a wonderful opportunity for me to go junk. While I was shopping for Averil, I spotted a frozen cheese burger in the frozen foods cabinet next to all the pizzas and other rubbish, and I thought, "Oh, that looks nice!" Well, it did on the packaging. Totally yummy. Just put it in the micro on its special base and in 2.5 minutes, scrumptious cheeseburger, with two slices of cheese and two grilled meat patties with sauce on a sesame seed bun. Yeah, right. It was bloody horrible. Never again.

I do admit to liking McD's and Hungry Jacks. But that frozen instant stuff is nowhere near as good. NOWHERE. It's at least 8 years since I had a McD's. Actually, I'd like one right now, to be honest. Mmmmm. McD's recently released the premium Angus beef burger. Guess what? We've been eating Angus beef in Oz for the past umpteen years but no one called it Angus. Hehe. So McD's got clever and did the bagpipes thing and their sales went up 20%. So then Hungry Jacks figured it was a pretty cool idea and copied it. And now everyone's raving about Angus beef which is the same beef they've been eating forever. Marketing, mate, it's all about marketing.

Oregon Richie just wrote to say he's been driving me nuts for 9 years now. Is it really that long? Richie has an aversion to short sentences. I have to read his emails at least three times to understand what the hell he's going on about. Jeez, 9 years. FL Josh is a bit of a worry too. He loves analogies. When he begins a sentence with "It's like saying..." you know you're in for a long session. Why can't people be brief and to the point?

I had a neighbor in Sydney who loved to chat. Nancy. When she cornered me in the backyard of the block of flats we lived in, and started telling me the history of her entire family, I waited for about a minute or so and then checked my watch. "Time's up," I'd say. "That's your quota for today." She used to go beet red and threaten to explode. Then she developed the habit of wandering into my office. I used to leave all the doors open, including the front door of the flat, which was next door to hers. I'd be snoozing and she'd yell, "Are you awake?" Sheesh.

What is it about me and women? Back then it was Nancy, before that it was my next door neighbor Kim, and now it's Averil. I think I need a can of women repellant.

And so ends a dreary Sunday in Taree. Kitchen time. Gary

October 23, 2010. Okay, so the young Brit mountaineer who climbed Everest used a SAT phone to call his mom, and not a cell phone. Thanks Richie... picky bastard.

Justin's blog posted an article about relationships again. Same old, same old... it takes two to Tango. So who wants to Tango? So old grumpy party-pooper here commented that all those kinda articles promote the idea that happiness can only come in pairs. Phooey. I'm old enough to know that Mr or Miss Right - Mr or Miss Wonderful - can one day become Mr or Miss Yukko. So what happens then? You're back to solo.

Now lemme say something about solo. The 'It Gets Better' campaign designed to help suicidal teens cope with bullying and other pressures says "you're not alone". That's the same as saying that being alone is a bad thing. Is it? Not to me, it's not. Being alone is cool. I like being alone. As long as psychologists, counselors and whomever keep saying that being alone is a no-no, people who are alone will feel disadvantaged, or worse - that they have no hope of surviving on their own. I believe that people who are alone should be told it's okay, that independence is a good thing, that surviving solo is a very worthwhile technique to master.

Why do some people elect to sail solo around the world? It's not because they want to live the rest of their lives as a hermit, it's to test their abililty to survive on their own, to rely on themselves when the going gets tough. And when life dishes out its inevitable dramas over the years, the person who has learned to rely on himself will pull through.

I can say this much: If I'd known 40 years ago what I know now, I could have saved myself a lot of frustration.

Beeb time: The biggest leak of military records in US history, released by Wikileaks, shows commanders did not investigate torture by the Iraqi authorities. That's the thing about democracy - bureaucrats sooner or later become accountable. Here's what Hillary has to say about the matter. An outbreak of cholera north of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, has killed almost 200 people and left at least 2,600 others sick, officials say. Poor souls. Why is it that some countries seem to stumble from one disaster to the next? A UN human rights rapporteur has said continued settlement construction will probably make Israel's occupation of Palestinian land irreversible. Richard Falk said the peace process aimed at creating an independent, sovereign Palestinian state therefore appeared to be based on an illusion. He said the UN, the US and Israel had failed to uphold Palestinians' rights. I think the word 'illusion' is appropriate. Commercial space travel takes a step closer with the opening of the runway at the world's first spaceport in the US state of New Mexico. I dunno how the hell I'm gonna cope with that. I can't handle riding in a bloody elevator. The message that announced the trapped Chile miners were alive and well is now the copyright of the man who wrote it. Jose Ojeda penned the note "Estamos bien en el refugio los 33" ("We are okay in the refuge, the 33 of us") which was discovered attached to a probe 17 days after the mine collapse. The message brought hope to the nation and was seen on many flags, mugs, and T-shirts during the rescue operation. A blank check to a fortune. Several people have been attacked in Uganda after a local newspaper published their names and photos, saying they were homosexual, an activist has told the BBC. What really should happen is that the newspaper is shut down and its proprietors and managers jailed for inciting hatred. The US has announced a $2bn (£1.3bn) package of military and security aid to Pakistan over five years on the final day of US-Pakistan strategic talks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled the deal, which is subject to Congressional approval. I've seen TV news footage of the printing presses churning out lots more American dollars.

One of the Mormons yesterday said something about talking with God and I, being the smartass I am, said God doesn't understand my Aussie accent. So the Mormon said, "God understands all languages." So much for my feeble attempt to bring a little humor into the convo. Anyway, that got me to wondering what language God used to communicate with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Did they get a quick lesson in Hebrew or something? I mean the Bible tells us that God spoke to A&E about various things and I'm just wondering what language he used. The problem religious people have with my curiosity about such things is that they think I'm poking fun at them. But all I want is a reasonable answer to a reasonable question. For example, I'd like to know how the bloke who wrote the Bible knew what happened in the Garden of Eden when there were no witnesses. Did he interview God personally? And if he did, how come Benny can't get a personal audience with the Creator these days? It seems rather curious to me that God was willing to speak with the ancients from the Old Testament, and make personal appearances, but has since gone into hiding.

Oh well... some things are meant to remain inexplicable, I suppose. Gary

October 22, 2010. Friday again. Are you sure there are seven days in a week? I think someone's pulling our collective leg. Maybe there are if you're traveling in a covered wagon but not if you're doing Mach II.

Technology is doing Mach II. I checked an electronics brochure yesterday and I don't have a clue what some of the stuff is all about. All those hand-held gadgets with Bluetooth (what the hell is Bluetooth?) and whatever else, and phones with slide-out qwerty keyboards. Like who has fingers that small? I see kids these days walking along the street checking out a small screen and exercising their thumbs. Not so long ago they held the thing to their ear but not now. They walk along almost oblivious to their surroundings, checking out a screen and thumbing important messages like "how r u?"

And now, just to add to the confusion, Google has released new phones that do a whole bunch of weird stuff. I gather it's all about staying in touch. Who the hell wants to stay in touch? Tourist brochures keep telling us how to "get away from it all" but people like Google and Apple and whoever else are telling us we should get closer to it all. Closer to what? Twitter?

Mind you, it's not all crazy. That young Brit mountaineer who climbed Everest recently got to the top and used his cell phone to call his mom. That was cute. A friend of mine did a similar thing years ago when he climbed a local mountain near Canberra. "Hello, mom. Guess where I am?"

Beeb time: French unions call two more days of action - on 28 October and 6 November - to protest at the government's pension reforms. Is the age pension a right or a privilege? Prior to the beginning of the 20th century, there were no pensions in Australia. Dozens of people in Haiti have died and hundreds are ill from an illness as doctors test for a possible outbreak of cholera. Another reason to be thankful I live where I live. The codes used by the US president to launch a nuclear strike were lost for months during the Clinton years, a former high-ranking US military officer says. "Hillary? Have you seen those damn nuclear codes anywhere? I can't find the damn things." There are oases of water-rich soil that could sustain astronauts on the Moon, Nasa scientists say. Water is H2O, right? I presume the moon and earth were once joined, so it's interesting that the two planets evolved so differently. US broadcaster National Public Radio has fired news analyst Juan Williams for saying on Fox News that he gets nervous if he sees Muslims on a plane. Williams, who has written several books on the US civil rights movement, made the remarks last week on chat show The O'Reilly Factor. NPR said in a statement that Williams's contract had been ended on Wednesday. Which all goes to prove that you should never say publically what most people are thinking. It may not be politically correct. Jewish settlers have started building more than 600 homes in the West Bank since a building freeze expired last month, an Israeli pressure group says. The pace of building is four times faster than before the ban was put in place, Peace Now says. Recently relaunched Middle East peace talks could collapse over Jewish settlement building on occupied land. Which is a fact the Israelis are acutely aware of. Which means...? The producers of The Simpsons have contradicted the Pope's official newspaper by declaring that the animated family are not Catholic. It comes after the L'Osservatore Romano stated that Homer and Bart were followers. But Al Jean, executive producer of television show, said the pair only considered converting for one episode - The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest - aired in 2005. Check out the video here. Israel's version of Dancing With The Stars is to include the show's first same-sex couple in the new series. TV presenter Gili Shem Tov, who has a female partner in real life, said dancing with another woman felt "natural" to her. When I was DJ at a Kings Cross disco in the mid 60s, same sex couples danced with each other all the time! No biggie! US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton posted a video on YouTube on Tuesday. But her message wasn't intended for heads of state, diplomats or monarchs. It was for troubled gay teenagers. Mrs Clinton's video is the latest high-profile contribution to the fast-growing It Gets Better YouTube channel, a project started by Seattle-based sex columnist and author Dan Savage to provide hope and support to vulnerable and possibly suicidal gay teenagers. Pardon my cynicism, but how can someone like Hillary be an expert on suicide - unless they've been there? Cody, on the other hand, was an expert because he came within seconds of "offing" himself. A man thought to be the first person in the world to drive a car using a mind-controlled robotic limb has been seriously hurt in a car crash in Austria, according to local media. Christian Kandlbauer, 22, was found in the wreckage of his Subaru, which caught fire after smashing into a tree. "Looking at the state of the wreck, it's a miracle he got out at all," a police officer was reported as saying. It is not known whether his bionic arm played any role in the accident. Hmmm, back to the drawing board

I've been thinking about this Don't Ask, Don't Tell business, and the issue of sexuality in the military. So I spoke to Averil about it. She served as a two-striper in the Australian Army, and old Kev served in the Australian Air Force during World War II. That's how they met. She agrees that gays and straights sleeping in the same quarters could be a worry. The military currently segregates the sexes in certain situations, like toilets and sleeping quarters, so what the hell are they gonna do about gays and straights? For that matter, what the hell are they gonna do about gays and gays?

There's another issue: if two gay lovers are serving in the same unit engaged in battle in the field, and each one is preoccupied with the welfare of the other - as lovers do - could that distract their focus from the unit as a whole?

It seems to me that the acceptance of gays in the military is not just a matter of equal opportunity and treatment; there are other aspects that require consideration. While wars are being fought in places like Afghanistan, it's probably not a good time to be rearranging the rules.

Well, a couple of Yanks arrived at the door just now and did the God thing. Nice young blokes but they gave up on me after about 10 minutes. Hehe. Oh well... no commission for those guys. They were both very healthy and fit specimens, which made me wonder if that has something to do with being selected as missionaries by the Church of Latter Day Saints. Not everyone who answers their front door is gonna be accommodating and pleasant, so I guess those young men need to handle situations that might prove a little bit tricky.

They were both good looking young blokes, clean cut, well-mannered and courteous, which also made me wonder if there was method in the Mormon's madness.

One of them talked about the "spirit". So I asked why I wasn't conscious of my spirit. "If I am my spirit, where is it? If I get Alzheimer's or dementia, and my brain goes bye-byes, where's my spirit? Why aren't I aware of it?" He used the analogy that it's like driving a car and the engine conks out. The driver is still there but the engine doesn't work. Sorry, I don't buy that. In the case of a human being, unlike a car, the engine and the driver are one and the same. They are not separate.

Chicken's in the oven, spuds are in the oven, so it's just a matter of letting the convection heat do its thing. Gary

October 21, 2010. Did you watch the speech made by the bloke who shot himself? I posted the link yesterday. So there was Adolph thumping his chest and yelling his message to an audience of sycophants, applauding at appropriate intervals and doing their 'Sieg Heil' routine. It's a worry, yes? But people haven't changed. Audiences are still doing the same thing today.

I think today will go down as one of my most lazy. It's almost 3pm already and I've done very little... except make a few comments on Justin's blog and pull ONE weed out of the driveway. Now if I did that every day, I'd end up pulling 365 weeds a year. On the other hand, by the time I got to the 365th, most of the others would have re-sprouted. See what I mean? Gardening is a waste of time. While ever birds crap all over the place, you're fighting a losing battle. I mean who the hell plants weeds in his yard? Nobody, right? So how do they get there?

Beeb time: An appeals court has ruled the US military can temporarily reinstate a ban on openly gay people serving, in a move adding to disarray on the issue. The decision came eight days after a judge struck down the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays serving openly. The legal moves come as the Pentagon studies how gay people can be properly integrated into the US military, an effort that would entail dramatic changes in policies on insurance, housing and even protocol at military social events. Yes, I can understand the military's dilemma. It's not just a simple case of equality. A US man has pleaded guilty to supporting a Somali Islamist militant group and encouraging attacks on the writers of cartoon show South Park. Prosecutors said Zachary Adam Chesser, 20, was outraged by the cartoon's perceived mockery of the prophet Muhammad. Chesser sought twice to travel to Somalia to join al-Shabab, which the US designates as a terrorist group. The American Muslim convert faces up to 30 years in prison. So it's cool to fly planes into a building and kill thousands of people but it's uncool to mock Muhammad. I don't get it. The UK's finance minister will take to the airwaves to defend his £81bn spending cuts programme amid claims it will hit some of the poorest hard. You can't spend what you ain't got. I found that out the hard way. A Belgian woman convicted of murdering her fellow skydiver and love rival by sabotaging her parachute is due to be sentenced. If you had your time over again, darling, would you do the same thing? I don't think so. US officials have confirmed they intend to sell $60bn (£38bn) of arms to Saudi Arabia, including helicopters and jets. The state department said details of the deal had been sent to Congress, which now has 30 days to object. If completed, it could be the most lucrative single arms deal in US history and could support 75,000 jobs. The state department said Israel, traditionally wary of arms deals involving Arab states, was not expected to raise objections. How could Jews possibly object to making money? Online marketplace eBay has reported better-than-expected profits, with earnings boosted by growth in its payment service PayPal. Both great ideas. Archaeologists have found a "fantastically preserved" 5100-year-old door in the Swiss city of Zurich. The door, which is 153cm (5ft) high and 88cm wide, was among the traces of at least five Neolithic villages believed to have existed at the site. 5ft high? There ya go. King penguins do not form long-term homosexual pairs despite same-sex "flirting", one of the first evidence-based studies has revealed. The scientists suggest that these same sex displays could be caused by an excess of males or high levels of testosterone. I've heard of fairy penguins but this is something new. Obviously these guys don't have to worry about homophobic penguins giving them a hard time. 

Time for kitchen duties. But first, here's a link that Oregon Richie sent... Craig Ferguson and 'the Guest Who Changed His Life'.


October 20, 2010. Interesting little trip yesterday out to Lansdowne and Coopernook. I spent some time on line looking for a pic of the burned-out house before the fire on various historical sites etc, but couldn't find anything. So then I decided to check out Google street view and hey presto! There it was in all its former glory. Incidentally, Les asked me yesterday if I ever check out the internet. "The internet? I live there!" I think he said he had 3 laptops in the house... his and his wife's, and they all went up in flames, including all the info collected over the years.

I do have my own personal nightmares about that kinda thing. What would I grab first in the event of a fire? You get one guess.

So where to next? Well, I've been promising myself for ages to go back to the Green Cathedral on the shores of the Great Lakes to take better pics of the cathedral whose walls are tall palm trees and whose ceiling is made up of the green fronds of palm leaves. It's a magical place. And all the pews are made of hewn half-logs. The altar is a pile of rocks. Further south is Seal Rocks where I'd like to take better pics of the lighthouse there, among other things. It's a bit of a hike so it'll take a bit of planning. Maybe even an overnighter. Don't rush me.

I just spotted a pigeon in Averil's backyard doing his 'hey-check-me-out' dance to a lady pigeon who seems totally unimpressed hehe. I know the feeling.

Ohio Jace wrote: I was watching the MotoGP race, Sunday that Casey won; live. Not sure what time it was over (15 or 16 hours ahead) there but it was 1 am here. I am not disappointed he won, but was rooting for the Yanks Colin Edwards, Ben Spies, and Nicky Hayden in that order.

Everyone needs their national heroes, and we in Oz are lucky to have guys like Casey Stoner. I think it's a bonus that he doesn't look the part... way too naive and innocent to be a hard-nosed competitor. Looks can be deceiving, yes? The kid's dynamite.

We also watched the taped auto race from Panorama Mountain (V8 Supercars) NSW. The race was 1000 km and ran over 6 hours, but we got to see it condensed into less than 2 hours. There was one serious crash and a ROO on the track. It survived but was very close.    There was a goose on the track during the motorbike race as well.

I saw a clip of the roo on the Bathurst track. No road sense, those things. Boing, boing, boing. And I was surprised as well as relieved to see the driver of that serious crash walk away from the wreck totally unscathed. I'm also surprised that those two racing events were being watched by enthusiasts in Ohio. It is indeed a small world these days.

Okies, Beeb time: A suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents at a base in Afghanistan in January had not been properly vetted before gaining entry, the CIA says. Oh, really. How do they figure that? The US military starts accepting gay recruits after a judge struck down the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning openly gay people from serving. "Serving" being the operative word, hehe. Sorry. More than one million people have taken to the streets of France in a sixth national day of action against planned pension reforms, officials say. Strikes have hit transport and education, 4,000 petrol stations have run dry and police have clashed with protesters in several cities. Shops were looted in Lyon and cars were set on fire in a Paris suburb. President Nicolas Sarkozy appealed for calm but insisted he would press ahead with plans to raise the retirement age. The pension age in Oz will rise from 65 to 67 in the near future and there's been no protest here. Then again, we're not French. A Saudi prince has been found guilty of murdering his servant at a hotel in central London. Bandera Abdulaziz, 32, was found beaten and strangled in the Landmark Hotel, Marylebone, on 15 February 2010. The Old Bailey was told the assault by Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud had a "sexual element" and he had attacked Mr Abdulaziz many times before. Ah ha, the plot thickens. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy - which stops people revealed to be gay serving in the US military - is currently the subject of legal action as its opponents battle to have it declared unconstitutional. Here two men forced out of the US military under the policy give their side of the story. I recommend the read. Veteran US actor Tom Bosley, most famous for playing all-American father Howard Cunningham in the 1970s TV series Happy Days, has died at the age of 83, his agent says. After Happy Days, Bosley had a string of roles in TV shows, most notably as a crime-solving priest in The Father Dowling Mysteries. Now there's an end of an era and a sad loss. Mexican security forces have seized 105 tonnes of marijuana with a street value of at least $340m (£214m) - the biggest such haul in the country in years. It's encouraging to see the goodies notching up a few wins. Iran says that some Western companies are refusing to refuel its planes in Europe, an act it says is illegal under international law. Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast warned that Tehran would "confront" such measures. The UN imposed fresh sanctions on Iran in June for failing to halt its nuclear enrichment programme. Oh? I can't wait to see what he means by "confront". One third of the world's population will be online by the end of the year, according to United Nations statistics. The number of people online has doubled to two billion in the last five years, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) said. Of the 226m new net users that have come online this year, more than two thirds are from developing countries. In my immediate neighborhood, I'm one of only two people I know who is online. Sir Elton John has described today's songwriters as "pretty awful" and says he is "not a fan" of TV talent shows. The singer told the Radio Times he refused to be a judge on American Idol "because I won't slag anyone off" and also found TV boring. He also defended his decision to perform at the wedding of right-wing US talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who has been accused of homophobia. "I'm a builder of bridges and knocker-down of walls," the 63-year-old said. Fair enough.

However I don't agree with Elton that TV is boring. It can be, of course, but not necessarily. And I don't think it's fair to say that today's songwriters are awful. That's a pretty sweeping statement. By the same token, I do agree that the 60s, 70s and 80s produced some awesome music which is as fresh today as it was then.

And now, ladies and genitals, before I depart for the kitchen to cook garlic prawns and potato gems (pommes noisettes in French), here is a stirring speech made by a man who shot himself. Gary

October 19, 2010. A Russian cop spots a car with one headlight out, so he stops the car and speaks to the driver. Next thing you know, a pack of wolves appears. Eeeek!

Back from a little trip out to Lansdowne and Coopernook and a couple of surprises.

Which means, ladies and genitals, there's no time for the usual Waffle so that will have to wait until tomorrow when I get lazy again. Gary

October 18, 2010. Lovely day. Sunny, blue and no wind. So what am I doing in here? Mind your own bloody business. You shouldn't be looking.

I watched Stephen Fry on telly last night on one of his adventures. Last week it was the Amazon, and this week he was traipsing around the African savanna checking out rhinos, elephants and monkeys. He's not a terribly fit person - and well into his 50s - so he was having some difficulty, occasionally uttering unflattering remarks about the rugged terrain. They played a trick on him during one expedition. They spotted a lone white rhino way out in the scrub and decided to leave their vehicle and take a closer look. Fry was quite nervous about being on foot as they quietly approached the horned beast, and spoke in whispers. As the ton of adult rhino drew closer, Fry became more alarmed. He was ready to scamper up the nearest tree at short notice. But the rhino turned out to be tame... hand-raised and used to humans. Hehe.

I don't believe these New Zealanders ya know. I think we should build a big wall right along the east coast of Oz. Check this out.

Did you enjoy the fountain shot? That cracked me up big time.

Beeb time: About 12 of the 33 miners freed after 69 days underground in northern Chile have returned to the mine to attend a ceremony celebrating their rescue. A service of thanksgiving was held at the mouth of the San Jose copper and gold mine where the miners were trapped. The miners were mobbed by reporters on their arrival at the camp, despite their complaints about media intrusion. The media is paid to intrude. Didn't they know that? The US military has assembled a 120-member team to prepare for the expected publication of some 400,000 Iraq war documents on the Wikileaks website. The documents are thought to concern battle activity, Iraqi security forces and civilian casualties. The Pentagon said it wants the documents back to avoid potentially damaging information being released. Damaging to whom? Saudi Arabia has warned France it is the target of an imminent al-Qaeda attack, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux has said. He said Saudi intelligence agencies spoke of a threat to Europe, and "France in particular", from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. France is already on high alert following warnings of possible attacks aimed at France, Germany and the UK. The Eiffel Tower was evacuated twice in September over security alerts. We really need to get rid of this al-Qaeda mob. But it seems no one knows how. Pope Benedict XVI has officially recognised Australia's first saint, Mary MacKillop, a Melbourne-born nun who worked with needy children. MacKillop, who died in 1909, clashed with senior clergy and was briefly excommunicated, in part for exposing a sex-abusing priest. Thousands of Australians are in Rome to witness the ceremony. And here's the new prayer: "G'day, Mary full of grace, 'owyagoin' no worries..." Conservative activists calling themselves the Tea Party arrived on the political scene in 2009. Candidates backed by the anti-establishment movement won several victories over mainstream Republicans in primary contests ahead of November's mid-term elections. Read interesting comments from four Tea Party supporters

Oregon Richie talked about taking a spin on his Honda 599 around the hood: Wheeled down around the state park and the precious around-town loop that is really perfect for a thrilling short ride.  Straight and level uphill portions for your basic rev up and a whole lot of twisties which are fun to lean into and throttle-roll out of. Which reminded me of Casey Stoner's Australian MotoGP win yesterday at Phillip Island, his home track. Casey always looks like a kid with a big cheesy grin but don't let that fool you.

It's getting rather late. After a bit of shopping, I took Averil's stuff next door (toilet rolls and bird seed... hehe) and stayed for a bit of a natter so now it's getting close to 5pm. I spotted Stephanie with Brendan and Keiran at the mall, and stopped for a chat. Brendan has shot up overnight. He's almost as tall as me, and probably taller than young Josh. I had to pacify Keiran though, who looked a tad peeved. "Your turn is coming, mate, don't worry about it." Little Keiran is not amused by everyone leaving him behind... except his mom, of course. At 40+ she's stuck where she is... short. Gary

October 17, 2010. The weather has improved, and will continue to improve during the week with warmer temps, so I reckon I'd better get myself organized and take Bluey for a spin somewhere.

So there I was bitching about the $300 bill from Chris the rust bloke until I received the quarterly account from the energy company for almost $500. A bloke can't win. Bills, bills, bills. It's cheaper to be dead. Ya know, $500 a quarter is $2000 a year, and for that I could buy 2 solar panels.

My eldest bro said something interesting yesterday on the phone about turning 80: "I don't feel any different to how I felt at 70!" Sheesh... I haven't even reached 70 yet. Well, it's all in the genes. Old Kev next door fell off the perch at 82. His legs were gone, his body had wasted away. He was incontinent. And yet he lived a healthy lifestyle... never smoked, didn't drink all that much. And there's my bro John (ex smoker and still loves a drink)  riding bicycles and leading an active life at 80. In fact, he's still working as a hairdresser. Hehe. Bloody amazing.

Tarzan would be proud of me. I'm just back from filling the big green bin with prunings and weeds. I got bitten on the foot by some bug, and then I found a big green caterpillar attached to my shirt. Eeeek! I'm not good at this gardening business, ladies and genitals. I love OTHER people's gardens, and I watch gardening programs on telly, but I draw the line at actually DOING anything. The main reason I made an effort today is because part of the garden is threatening to block the driveway as well as the entrance to Bluey's garage. Everything green is going mental.

I think it's time for a bit of comic relief. Here's a Brit TV ad for crisps.

Beeb time: Attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany have "utterly failed", Chancellor Angela Merkel says. In a speech in Potsdam, she said the so-called "multikulti" concept - where people would "live side-by-side" happily - did not work. Mrs Merkel's comments come amid recent outpourings of strong anti-immigrant feeling from mainstream politicians. A recent survey showed that more than 30% of Germans believed Germany was "overrun by foreigners". We get the same sentiment here in Oz about foreigners initially. When Greeks and Italians and other Europeans came here in their tens of thousands after WWII they were referred to as "wogs". Now they're as Aussie as the next bloke. Ditto Asians and other nationalities. I think the same can be said for the US and Britain. An explosion at a coal mine in central China has killed 20 miners and trapped another 17 underground, officials say. Rescue efforts are underway at the pit in Yuzhou, Henan province, which state media said had been hit by a "sudden coal and gas outburst". Here we go again. I heard on the news last night that a lot of Australian technology was used in the Chile mine rescue. An Anglican congregation in Kent has become the first to take up the Pope's offer to leave the Church of England to convert to Catholicism. The Pope has created a special enclave in the Roman Catholic Church for Anglicans unhappy with their church's decision to let women become bishops. Naughty, naughty... can't have bishops with boobs. Only blokes are allowed to wear pointy hats. Funny that neither Jesus nor his apostles wore pointy hats... nor red shoes for that matter. An Iranian judge has sentenced a man convicted of robbing a confectionery shop to have one of his hands cut off, Iranian media report. The judge also sentenced the man to one year in prison. Police arrested the man in May after finding $900 (£560), three pairs of gloves and a large amount of chocolate in his car, Fars news agency said. Good ol' Allah. What a wonderful guy. China's ruling Communist Party is meeting in Beijing to draw up its next five-year plan for the economy. The agenda is secret but analysts say that instead of seeking a high rate of economic growth, China's leaders want to close the gap between rich and poor and between coastal and inland areas. So what does that mean? Make the rich poorer or make the poor richer? Hehe. Technology may stretch the capacity of the fibre optic cables used to carry data sooner than has long been thought, according to a report in Science. The capacity limit has until recently been in the preparation of the light signals that pass through the cables. But the report reviews recent laboratory results showing data rates that are more than half the ultimate limit of fibre optic cables. It calls for urgent research to develop higher-bandwidth cables. Meanwhile, here in Oz the labor government is rolling out billions of dollars worth of fibre optic cable, the biggest infrastructure project in the country's history. The auto industry calls it built-in obsolescence. The liberals want wireless broadband, which makes more sense to me. New technology allowing phones to sync with all sorts of other devices is creating a wealth of opportunities for developers. Dan Simmons reports on how this technology is being used, with everything from watching movies on the big screen from files downloaded on phones through to an app which allows you to operate almost anything on a car. Amazing stuff... watch the vid here

Well, here we are with all this amazing modern technology but I go back to watching the bread, milk and ice being delivered by horse and cart. The technology back then was a whistle - the kind you do with your teeth and tongue. The bread cart entered the street and stopped in the middle of the road. There was very little traffic - if any at all - so it didn't matter. Then the driver filled his basket with loaves from the rear of the cart and delivered them to the houses on each side of the street. When his basket was empty, he whistled the horse which ambled up the road a bit while the driver took more loaves from the rear of the cart. The horse knew the routine. No brake, no engine, no pulling over to the kerb - just wait for the driver to empty his basket and then move up the road a few more yards until the basket was empty again. Hehe. I took it for granted back then but it would be an amazing sight today.

The postman arrived twice a day on his red bicycle... once in the morning and again in the afternoon. His whistle was the metal kind with a pea. And all the ladies would hear it and wait with anticipation at the mail box. Sounds like a thousand years ago but it's not. And one wonders what life will be like in another half century.

Oregon Richie sent a link to a WWII Spitfire display accompanied by the classic Vera Lynn song that inspired Britain at the time. The aircraft scenes were great, and of course the sound of the Merlin V-12 engines can be a mechanical symphony for sure. 

I've been reminiscing again... checking out Google street view of the old house where I was born and raised, and the corner shop where I used to buy a pint of milk in a billy can and twirl it around on the walk back home... never spilled a drop. The mulberry tree on the corner where I'd find silk worms and put them in a shoebox with some leaves. All the neighbor's houses... the Williamsons, the Purcells, the Stricklands, the Gondoffs, the Kemps, the Hopleys, the Moorhouses, the Hickeys. All gone. No more barefoot kids in the street playing cricket, using old butter boxes as wickets and fence palings as a bat. No more battered old pre-war Chevs parked at the kerb. But my tree is still there. My big camphor laurel that I climbed every day right up to the top branches where I could see over the roofs of surrounding houses and miles into the distance. It's still there. The corner grocer is now a fruit and veg shop. The butcher shop next door is something else. I remember when it had sawdust on the floor and carcasses marked with pink lettering hanging by hooks on stainless steel railings, and a huge block of wood in the middle that was used to chop the meat. The butcher wore a blue and white striped apron, and had a leather holster on his hip filled with razor-sharp knives. All gone. Gary

October 16, 2010. Wind in the Willows? Actually, it's Wind in the Gum Trees at the mo, and not a particularly pleasant day to go leaping about outdoors. Not that I do all that much energetic leaping about these days. Oregon Richie suggested that even if there are no events of interest happening locally, I could always fire up Bluey and take a bit of a drive in the countryside for a picture-taking exercise. But not today. I can see the treetops through the window and they're doing all kinds of aerial gymnastics. I just saw Averil through the kitchen window, out in the garden, and I yelled at her to get back inside. She said, "Oh, isn't it a terrible day! I almost got blown away!" Now THAT would have made an interesting photograph.

Ohio Jace wrote to say that young Peter Lenz is still winning motorcyle racing championships despite his recent death. His accumulated points still have him "up there" in the winner's circle. 

Jace also mentioned England's Tom Daley: You mentioned bullying in school on Waffle. Remember Tom Daley from the Beijing Olympics he had to change schools due to bullying. Kids threatened to break his legs. He was 14 at time and all of 105 pounds. Speaking of Tom did you get the chance to see his double gold winning performances in the Commonwealth Games? He is 16 now and maturing nicely. Not sure how tall he is but he is definitely ripped. No, Jace, I didn't watch the performances... not a sports fan. But I did notice on the Youchewb vid that Tom got a big hug from Matthew Mittcham, the Aussie diver who took silver and is openly gay. Hehe.

And how is Ohio Sean doing? Well, if little brats are your thing, he's having a ball: Sean is chaperoning his sister’s class tomorrow on their trip to the Zoo. He does not get paid, but will have a chance to be around 30 seven year olds, first on a school bus and then running around the zoo.

I reckon Sean deserves a bravery award. Either that or a few sessions with a shrink.

Beeb time: Twenty-eight rescued miners are secretly released from hospital in northern Chile, two days after their ordeal came to an end in the glare of the world's media. Glare is right, and it ain't over yet. One of five US soldiers accused of the premeditated murder of Afghan civilians is to face a court martial, the US army says. I was gonna say war can bring out the worst in people, but on the other hand, it happens anyway. The US should not use the weak yuan as a "scapegoat" for its own economic problems, a Chinese government spokesman has said. At a regular briefing, commerce ministry spokesman Yao Jian said China would continue to reform its currency policy, but at its own pace. Speaking of which, the Aussie dollar is now 0.99 US. A Pennsylvania town has offered prospective homeowners a bargain: a free house, if they take it away. East Manchester acquired the three-bedroom ranch-style house for the land underneath, which it needed for future expansion of municipal facilities. Officials deemed it cheaper to give the house away than raze it or refit it for rental. Anyone who can move it and clear the land can have it, they said. Now that's a bargain in anyone's currency. A competition is drawing to a close in South Africa to find new ways to use the vuvuzela. Some ideas submitted so far include turning the plastic horns into chandeliers, lamp shades, bird food dispensers and table stands. The winning design, to be announced later this month, is to be produced and sold through a local retailer. Just so long as they don't make a noise! Feisty, anti-authoritarian, a lover of the bush, a friend of Aborigines and a champion of a "fair go" for the needy. Were Australians to come up with the qualities they most wanted in their first saint, many would find themselves describing Sister Mary MacKillop. But while faithful members of the Catholic Church in Australia are claiming her as their own, victims of clerical abuse say she should become their patron saint. The daughter of Scottish immigrants, who was born in Melbourne in 1842, she devoted her early life to teaching children in the small South Australian community of Penola, where she came to be regarded as something of an educational pioneer. It was in Penola that she also founded an order of nuns, Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, who were dedicated to helping the poor and opening up more schools in the bush. There ya go... Australia's first saint. It shoulda been me but, hey, I can wait. Yes, she founded the order of the Sisters of St Joseph, also known as The Joeys. I remember them well. They taught me at my local school during my formative years. Swiss complete the world's longest tunnel. The 10m-diameter drill-head tore through the rock to cheers and applause from watching workers. The 57km (35 mile) Gotthard rail tunnel has taken 14 years to build and is not likely to open before the end of 2016. But it is expected to revolutionise transport across Europe, providing a high-speed link between the north and south of the continent. Eventually, trains will travel through it at speeds of up to 250km/h (155mph). Journey times between Zurich and Milan are likely to be slashed by as much as one-and-a-half hours. Wow, that's about a mile a year to construct.. about 11 meters a day. Australia has denied accusations that its athletes participating in the Delhi Commonwealth Games vandalised their tower in the athletes' village. Indian media said the athletes were angry because their cricket team lost the Test series to India on Wednesday. In a statement e-mailed to the BBC, the Australian high commission said there had been "some spirited celebrations involving the Australian team and a number of other teams" at the athletes' village. "We can confirm that in the course of those celebrations a washing machine was damaged, though it remains unclear who did the damage, what their nationality was, and whether it was deliberate or accidental." The statement denied that the athletes were protesting against their team's loss in cricket. It's perfectly normal behavior in Oz to throw washing machines out of windows. I don't understand the fuss.

I got distracted when I did a search for the Joeys and found a History of Lakemba, which is the suburb of Sydney where I grew up. Here's a pic of the Magnet Cinema. I used to line up at the ticket office and pay 11 pence (cents) for a ticket to the Saturday matinee - front stalls. My mom gave me two bob which meant I had 13 pence left over to buy lollies. Ah yes, The Three Stooges, John Wayne, Tom & Jerry. The theater was demolished after the introduction of television to make way for an Amoco service station. I remember that too. I also noticed a pic of Hopalong Cassidy who visited Lakemba in 1954. I was there aged 10 and saw him in person. Here's a pic of the main drag, Haldon Street, circa 1920. My parents moved there in 1936 so it wouldn't have looked much different when they settled into their little bungalow at 40 Garrong Road. I remember the horses and carts that delivered bread, milk and ice when I was a kid during the '50s. Incidentally, my eldest bro turns 80 tomorrow. 

Well, well, well, I never expected to see a photo of the Magnet Theater again! Just phoned my bro John to wish him happy birthday for tomorrow and told him about the History of Lakemba site. He said he worked at the milk bar across from the Magnet. He also worked at Lakemba's other cinema, the Royal as an ice cream boy. His best mate was the lolly boy with his tray of Minties and Jaffas and crisps and whatnot. John remembers all the details so his brain's still working pretty well. He says he'll give me a ring when I turn 80. Hehe. "So have you retired from hairdressing yet?" "No, not yet... one day." He still plays lawn bowls twice a week, and rides his bicycle around town. I was talking to his wife Pat and heard him in the background say, "Tell him I'm on steroids."

I thought tomorrow was also Mark's birthday, but Ohio Jace reckons Steve said it was October 8, not 17. Either way, Mark is 28 now. I was whizzing around in an orange '72 Superbug was I was 28.

Junk food tonight... sausage rolls and chips for HIM and me, and scrambled eggs, tomato and chips for HER. She doesn't like pastry. I used to make my own sausage rolls but when you can buy 'em on spesh for about $3... well, you get the picture. Not as good, but what the hell. Gary

October 15, 2010. Do you realize it's just weeks from another Christmas? How come the same length of string gets shorter as you get older?

How's my leg wound going? Not too bad. It's dry and no longer weeping... all without antibiotics. It's still healing, albeit slowly, but getting there. My immune system is working pretty well, it seems (despite the wine). My doc is always pleasantly surprised when the result of my annual blood test reveals that all my vitals are just fine and dandy. Hehe. Must be the leprechaun in me.

Pretty quiet day... cloudy again and wet... nothing much happening around here. Just checked the events calendar on the local council web site and... bleh. There is the Akoostik Music Festival at Wingham on the weekend with an attempt at the biggest acoustic guitar band ever assembled but... well, I think I'll pass. I attended one a few years ago when Smokin' Joe Robinson headlined. It was pretty cool but not exactly a photographer's nirvana.

So what did we do on a day like today before computers and the internet? We played Monopoly. Or maybe Snakes and Ladders. Or we read. Or we visited the kid next door and played with his toy soldiers. My mate had toy tanks that fired matchsticks. Pretty cool. So on wet days we spent hours bombarding each other with matchsticks. "You're dead!" "No I'm not! You missed!" "I did not! I hit you fair and square!" His father had a Hillman Minx and one day I was a backseat passenger at 45 mph. Whoa! My dad never did any more than 35 mph.

Beeb time: Three of the 33 men rescued after 69 days trapped in the San Jose mine in Chile are to be discharged from hospital and allowed to go home. Officials refused to identify who among the group are being allowed to leave. But they said that all the miners had responded well to treatment and many more of them would go home on Friday. Let's hope they can put all that trauma behind them and not suffer nightmares or other kinds of stress. Soldiers who survived a deadly shooting rampage at Fort Hood army base in Texas have begun giving testimony. US Army psychiatrist Maj Nidal Hasan is accused of killing 13 comrades and wounding 32 in the 5 November attack. The potential enemy that lurks invisibly between every pair of human ears. Hillary Clinton has admitted Washington is "worried" over the scale of the UK coalition government's planned spending cuts on defence. The US secretary of state told the BBC that Nato must be "maintained", as it was the "most successful" defensive alliance "in the history of the world". What price insurance? Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has received a hero's welcome in southern Lebanon, close to the Israeli border. Tens of thousands of people waved Iranian, Lebanese and Hezbollah flags as he spoke in a stadium in Bint Jbeil. They cheered as he praised what he called Lebanon's resistance against Israel. Hitler and Stalin used to get hero's welcomes too. The US administration has asked a judge to stay her order lifting a ban on gay people serving openly in the US military, pending an appeal. District Judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction forbidding the military from enforcing the 17-year-old ban. In another development, the Pentagon said it had issued guidelines to troop commanders to comply with her order. The "Don't ask, don't tell" policy allows gay people to serve, but only if their sexuality is not revealed. Although the Obama administration favours scrapping the policy, it would prefer it be done in Congress rather than through the court system. The US Justice Department filed the stay request in California on behalf of the administration. If there were more gays in the military we'd have parties instead of wars. Commonwealth Games chief Mike Fennell hailed Delhi 2010 a success despite the event getting off to a troubled start. The Games overcame concerns on security and infrastructure to end with a lively closing ceremony, as the hosts' mantle was officially passed to Glasgow 2014. Click here for the medals tally. A UK campaign to build a truck-sized, prototype computer first envisaged in 1837 is gathering steam. More than 1,600 people have pledged money and support to build Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. Fascinating article which you can read here

Okies, I've been thinking about my next book. Yes, I know... I've had some ideas already. But that's okay. It's known as evolution. Rome wasn't called Rome on day one ya know. So the title is WHO THE BLOODY HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? It's been something that's bothered me for some time. Anyway, I just wanted to write that down so I don't forget it. More about that later.

Writing a book is hard work, and I'm not a big fan of hard work. So in order to write a book, it's gotta be something that grabs my imagination and inspires my fingers to keep doing their little tap-dance on the keyboard. It's like the difference between writing a speech and having a conversation. Writing a speech is hard work. It requires a lot of research, analysis and planning. A conversation flows naturally without much effort. So the book will be a conversation with the reader. Kinda like thinking aloud... a bit like a Waffle with chapters.

And here we are again... 5pm... time to think about COOKING. I wonder if the internet will ever get to the stage where you can order a pizza and it pops out of a slot at the side of the laptop. That would be so cool. Gary

October 14, 2010. Here's a must-watch vid with Muhammad Ali completely taken in by Freddie Starr. It's brilliant.

I'd never heard of this Frankie Starr bloke until now. Here he is with Frank Bruno.

It's been one of those days... pay day, bills, day, shopping day, yadda yadda, so I've almost run outta time.

Let's do a quick Beeb: Chile's president says the country will never be the same again after the extraordinary rescue of the 33 miners trapped deep underground for 69 days. Chile is a very religious country and, no doubt, the rescue will be hailed as a miracle. Delaware Republican Senate hopeful Christine O'Donnell has sought to play down past controversial comments as she faced her Democratic rival in a debate. She and Chris Coons are competing for the former seat of Vice-President Joe Biden in November's mid-term elections. Ms O'Donnell said remarks she had made about witchcraft, sexual abstinence and evolution were not relevant to the race - a position Mr Coons contested. She is seen as a rising star of the conservative Tea Party movement. Too late, darling. The genie is out of the lamp. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has warned a court-ordered halt of a ban on openly gay military personnel could have "enormous consequences". A day after a judge halted the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, Mr Gates said he preferred that Congress, not a court, settle the issue. Under the policy, gay people can serve in the military but face expulsion if their sexuality is revealed. A legislative bid to overturn the ban failed in the US Senate last month. Supporters of the ban say allowing gay people to serve openly in the US military would lower troop morale and hinder military readiness. I'm at a loss to understand how they figure that. A group of 23 Communist Party elders in China has written a letter calling for an end to the country's restrictions on freedom of speech. The letter says freedom of expression is promised in the Chinese constitution but not allowed in practice. They want people to be able to freely express themselves on the internet and want more respect for journalists. Sounds like a move in the right direction

Sorry about the short Waffle today but that's the way it goes sometimes. Gary

October 13, 2010. Well, a little more blue in the sky today, so the weather's improving... for now. Meanwhile, a lot of farmers are bitching about the proposed lowering of water allocation along the Murray/Darling river system for irrigation. They say it will cost jobs and food production, and cause Oz to import a lot of its produce. Well, my simplistic view is that the No. 1 priority is the health of the river system. Everything else comes second. At the mo, the river system has accumulated a build-up of salt and other contaminants that are not being flushed into the ocean. Prolonged drought coupled with overuse of water for irrigation has almost brought the system's flow to a halt. Without a healthy river there's no healthy anything.

In any case, there's been a lot of talk about farmers moving to the Kimberley region in northern Western Australia. That's where the rain is. Heaps of it. And there's enough land to satisfy everyone for generations to come. But farmers have their traditions... 'my father was here and his father before him', etc, etc. Farmers are reluctant to leave their long-established properties and start afresh. So much for the pioneering spirit of the early settlers. See what happens when you get comfy and set in your ways?

I just watched a vid on Youchewb about cooking in the bush. It's an ABC TV thingy called The Occasional Cook, so viewers outside Oz won't be able to see the vid, but can read the recipe here. The bloke decided to cook bacon and eggs for breakfast on a camping trip but didn't wanna go to all the trouble of frying and buggerizing around. So he got three strips of bacon and laid them flat in a star shape on a cutting board. Then he placed a largish mushroom upside down in the center of the bacon strips with the stem removed. He broke an egg into the mushroom cup, then topped it with slices of tomato sprinkled with salt. Then he folded the outer lengths of bacon inwards, draping them over the mushroom and tomato, to form a ball - called the Bacon Bomb - which he placed into a Dutch oven over the hot coals of a campfire. 15 minutes later, bacon and eggs bush style. Sounds good to me!

Beeb time: The first of the 33 miners trapped deep underground for more than two months in northern Chile has been rescued. Florencio Avalos, 31, was winched up a 624m (2,047ft) shaft in a custom-built capsule, wearing an oxygen mask and a belt monitoring his vital signs. The operation began at 2318 (0218 GMT) with a technical expert being lowered down, and is expected to take 48 hours. Earlier, President Sebastian Pinera said he hoped what began as a possible tragedy, would end as a blessing. "I know tonight there will be tears of happiness in all Chilean homes," he told reporters. "We made a promise to never surrender, and we kept it." Good news is always welcome. A US judge declares a nationwide halt to enforcement of the US ban on gay people serving openly in the military, in a landmark ruling. Yeah... get rid of that ridiculous rule. If gays are serving anyway, why the hell not be open about it? The moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is to be lifted, the US government has confirmed. The six-month ban was introduced in the aftermath of April's BP oil spill, but calls had been growing for it to be ended because of its economic impact. Ah ha! The good ol' reliable economic impact trick. The Euro 2012 qualifier between Italy and Serbia in Genoa was abandoned after Serbia fans continued to throw flares on to the pitch and light fireworks. The kick-off had already been delayed by 45 minutes as police struggled to maintain order in the Marassi stadium. When the game finally began, more flares and fireworks were thrown on to the field and the referee stopped the match after only seven minutes of play. Incidents like this make me so glad I'm not a sports fan. The Australian outback pub made famous by the 1980s film Crocodile Dundee is up for sale. The Walkabout Creek Hotel, in the small town of McKinlay in the state of Queensland, was made a popular tourist attraction by the film. The pub is packed with memorabilia and photographs from the hit film. It is a popular stopping-off point for tourists who travel between Brisbane and Darwin. It's on my list. Google's engineers have tested a self-driving car. But could motorists ever really let go of the wheel? No more pile-ups, no more road rage, no more exasperated cursing as you stall at the lights. Reading the paper during the morning commute, enjoying the scenery rather than staring at the tarmac, cutting your transport costs down to a fraction. Read the full article here

Yes, speaking of sports fans. When I was a kid, sometimes people would ask me if I knew what the latest cricket or football score was, and when I shrugged my shoulders they looked at me as if I were some kinda freak. Took me a long time to figure out who the real freaks were.

You know Craig Ferguson's desk? The one he sits behind when he interviews guests on his show? Yeah, well, one of his guests, the Price Is Right's Bob Barker, got mad and smashed it.


October 12, 2010. Another gray day. One wonders what one would do about prolonged dreary weather if one were touring Oz. Look for sunny climes? They could be a squillion miles away like they are now. Oh well, I suppose it boils down to making the best of whatever situation you happen to encounter... which is the case no matter where you are.

South-east Queensland has been getting torrential rain lately, with flooding. So much for their advertising slogan: "Beautiful one day, perfect the next". Hehe.

Beeb time: The US commander in Afghanistan, Gen David Petraeus, orders an investigation into the death of a kidnapped British aid worker in a rescue attempt. The outcome of the investigation may prove nothing useful, but I guess he has little choice. US doctors begin the first official trial of using human embryonic stem cells in patients after getting the green light to use them for spinal injuries. Good. Palestinian officials reject an offer by the Israeli government to halt settlement construction if the Palestinians recognise Israel as a "Jewish state". Life is full of surprises, yes? The US space agency (Nasa) has been given a new direction, one that will seek to put astronauts in orbit using privately-run launch services. The change comes into effect with the signing by President Barack Obama of the Nasa Authorization Act 2010. Nasa's Administrator Charles Bolden told reporters: "Our nation's leaders have come together and endorsed a blueprint for Nasa, one that requires us to think and act boldly as we move our agency into the future. This legislation supports the president's ambitious plan for Nasa to pioneer new frontiers of innovation and discovery." Go NASA! Jeez, imagine life without new frontiers and exploration! How boring! A piano player who has no arms and plays the instrument with his toes has won the nationally televised China's Got Talent competition. Liu Wei, who lost his arms in an accident at the age of 10, won the contest with his performance of You're Beautiful, originally by James Blunt. He told the judges: "At least I have a pair of perfect legs." Awesome! I put a link to the Youchewb vid at the end of Beeb time. The Russian military has come up with an inventive way to deceive the enemy and save money at the same time: inflatable weapons. They look just like real ones: they are easy to transport and quick to deploy. You name it, the Russian army is blowing it up: from pretend tanks to entire radar stations. The decoys are a hundred times cheaper than the real thing, which means Moscow will save a lot of money by blowing up its own weapons. Didn't the Brits do something like that during WWII with fake airfields? I watched a program on telly recently about the Nazis and their obsession with high quality. They built the best tank in the world but because it was the best, using superior materials and craftsmanship, it took a long time to build. The Russians, meanwhile, built cheaper tanks much more quickly (I think it was called the T38 - and copied the Henry Ford principle of mass production). It outnumbered the Nazis to the point of defeating them. Kinda like a handful of Goliaths against a plague of Davids. The Dalai Lama has criticised China's opposition to the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said the Chinese government did "not appreciate different opinions". A cynic might say that the Dalai Lama is not accepting China's opinion because it's different to his. Dame Joan Sutherland, one of the greatest operatic sopranos of the 20th Century, has died in Switzerland at 83. The Australian star, who retired from the stage 20 years ago, had been in poor health following a fall. Dame Joan made her debut at London's Covent Garden in 1952, going on to appear in productions around the world and making numerous recordings. Dame Joan was dubbed La Stupenda for her vocal range and stage presence after a 1960 performance at Venice's La Fenice opera house. She sang at the Sydney Opera House when it opened in 1973, and bowed out with her final series of concerts there in 1990. Her final stage appearance in opera was alongside Luciano Pavarotti in a production of Die Fledermaus the previous year. Dame Joan... one of the greatest of all-time Aussie icons. Close to a billion people in the world are undernourished, with child malnutrition cited as the biggest cause, according to a new report. That's 3 times the population of the US, or all of India. How do you wrap your brain around that figure? And what do you do about it? 

Here's the Youchewb vid of Liu Wei playing the piano with his toes - China's Got Talent, with English subtitles.

I'm hoping to get Bluey back today. Imagine spending whatever on stuff you can't see. You know those auto shows where guys exhibit their cars with bonnets/hoods raised so everyone can see all the gleaming chrome bits and four-barrel thingies? Yeah... well I can understand where they're coming from. Bluey will look no different when she arrives home today from what she looked like early yesterday. But my bank balance will.

Just saw an old labrador pooch ambling across the road, taking its time, bringing all the traffic to a halt as it casually made its way to the other side. Probably too arthritic and ancient to bother caring.

It's just past 5pm. So where's Bluey? I couldn't wait any longer so I phoned Chris the rust bloke. "I just gotta put the battery back in and that's it. I'll bring it around." Well, how's that for service? Home-delivered Bluey! I do like to deal with 'the man' ya know... not the receptionist, not the guy at the front desk, not the media spokesperson, but 'the man' himself, the guy who actually does the job. That was the way I operated when I had my own biz. When a client phoned, he spoke to me. When he briefed me about a job, he spoke to me. When the job was finished, he spoke to me.

Right, Bluey's back, $330 which I more or less anticipated. Actually, I thought it might get up to $400. So that's cool. And Chris tidied up a few little cosmetic things as well. And now it's kitchen time! Gary

October 11, 2010. Back from delivering Bluey to Chris, the rust bloke. He's established his new business now with a big shed full of body shells. I showed him the bits of rust I found and guess what? He found more hehe. He knows where to look... under carpet, behind rubber seals, and various nooks and crannies. Oh well... I guess it's gonna cost more than I thought. But at least he gave me a lift home which saved me a fairly longish walk. He reckons I might get Bluey back tomorrow.

I guess I could have saved myself a lot of grief by keeping TT but that's all wisdom in hindsight. I quite like Bluey, and being a van she is a more practical car for my purposes, with a lot more room to carry stuff. And, for what it's worth, she's more economical. And... she's a manual, which means I can do my Fangio thing.

Incidently, Holden won 1st, 2nd and 3rd at Bathurst's Mount Panorama 1000 yesterday, Australia's most popular and best known V8 Supercar race. Back in the good old days during the 70s, there was everything racing... Minis, Jaguars, Chryslers, Holdens, Fords (American, English and Australian), Beemers and god knows what else. Now it's just Holden and Ford. Bleh. By the way, Peter Brock (aka Peter Perfect, and King of the Mountain) who won the Bathurst 1000 nine times, started his racing career as a young bloke with an Austin A30 fitted with a Holden motor. Crazy kid. Hehe.

Here's an interesting vid about people who felt inferior and downtrodden, but then turned their lives around. It Gets Better. As someone said a looooong time ago, honesty is the best policy. On the other hand, someone else said, it's easier said than done. Oh well... take your pick.

YES, it's another dreary and gray day. So much for the driest continent on earth. 10 years of drought and now this. I watched a jolly good program on telly last night with Stephen Fry hosting a documentary about the Amazon, and in particular manatees, also known as sea cows, and apparently mistaken by early mariners as mermaids. A bit of wishful thinking there, I imagine. One of the manatee characteristics I discovered (and so did Fry much to his discomfort on location) was the frequent proficiency with which the animal produces the most appallingly putrid farts. Fry is the quintessential intellectual, master of language, a walking encyclopeadia, but enjoys his home comforts and is no hero as an adventurer. His cerebral agility doesn't extend to his physical agility, and he managed to put a foot wrong on a boat and break his arm in 3 places. Can you imagine David Attenborough doing that? Well, at least Fry brings a little humor to his adventure documentaries. Why he reluctantly volunteers to participate is beyond me, but I'm glad he does. He's the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time, which makes it all the more interesting.

Beeb time: Anti-gay protesters have fought running battles with police in an effort to disrupt a Gay Pride march in Belgrade - the first in the city since 2001. Rioters threw petrol bombs and stones at armed police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. The office of the ruling Democratic Party was briefly set on fire, and at least one shot was fired. Calm was eventually restored but more than 100 people, mostly police, were injured, with another 100 arrested. Sunday's march was the first Gay Pride parade in Serbia since a 2001 event was broken up in violent clashes provoked by far-right extremists. Extremists believe that God created everything except the bits they don't approve of. What numbskulls. The Israeli cabinet has approved a controversial bill that would require all non-Jews taking Israeli citizenship to swear loyalty to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state". I beg your pardon? How can it be strictly Jewish and democratic? That's a contradiction. A Republican politician in the US has been criticised after pictures of him dressed in a Nazi uniform emerged on the internet. Senior Republican figures have now sought to distance themselves from Rich Iott, a House candidate from Ohio. Mr Iott admitted being a member of a group that re-enacted SS battles. But he said he had been involved in re-enacting from many different eras and did not mean "any disrespect to anyone" in the US military. Oops! Thirty years after the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain, whose parents always claimed she was taken by a dingo, Australia is preparing a new inquest to try to resolve the question. Azaria's mother, Lindy, was found guilty of murder in 1982. But she was later exonerated after a piece of the baby's clothing was found in an area full of dingo lairs. But even after three coronial inquests, two appeals and a Royal Commission, the certificate currently lists the cause of death as unknown. Azaria's father, Michael Chamberlain, has been pressing for a new inquest, citing new evidence of dingo attacks on humans and the killing of a nine-year-old child by two dingoes in 2001. I can appreciate why the Chamberlains want this matter resolved once and for all. Virgin Galactic's suborbital spaceship, Enterprise, has made its first solo test flight, in California. The spaceship was carried to an altitude of 45,000ft (13,700m) by an aeroplane and then dropped to glide back to the Mojave Air and Space Port. Enterprise will soon be taking people prepared to pay $200,000 (£126,000) on short hops above the atmosphere. The British billionaire behind the project, Sir Richard Branson, was on hand to witness the drop test. When it eventually enters service, Enterprise will be carried to its launch altitude by the "Eve" carrier plane before being released in mid-air. Enterprise will then ignite its single hybrid rocket engine to make the ascent to space. What a wonderful opportunity for a serious photographer. A run-down housing estate in Sydney that has become a symbol of Aboriginal disadvantage is to be torn down in an effort to revitalise an area that was once at the heart of indigenous political activism. "The Block", as it is known, began as a bold social experiment in the 1970s. The final draft has yet to be approved but the plan is to build 62 apartments for indigenous residents as well as student accommodation, a gym and a cultural arts centre. Tenants with drug-related convictions won't be allowed in. The area will be renamed The Pemulwuy Project after a celebrated indigenous warrior. A friend of mine bought No. 11 Eveleigh St. Redfern, a 2-storey Victorian terrace, back in the mid 70s for $11,000. Imagine that. It was a nice house too. But he moved out when the Aborigines started moving in, and bought a house in Brisbane. US soul singer Solomon Burke, who wrote the classic song Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, has died at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport aged 70. The former preacher turned singer had been due to perform at a well-known club in the city on Tuesday. Burke leaves behind 21 children and 90 grandchildren. Well, he certainly went forth and multiplied! Letters written by former South African president Nelson Mandela during his 27 years in jail reveal the agony of being separated from his family. Excerpts of the letters, which go on sale on Tuesday, show his frustration as his wife and children are harassed by the apartheid government. They are being published in a book, Conversations with Myself, which incorporates an archive of diaries and private recordings as well as letters. A letter to Winnie Mandela in August 1970 shows his anger at his family's plight. "I feel I have been soaked in gall, every part of me, my flesh, bloodstream, bone and soul, so bitter am I to be completely powerless to help you in the rough and fierce ordeals you are going through," he wrote. But his enemies lived to rue the day they opposed him. A Leicester boy has achieved a perfect 10, as he celebrated a very special birthday. George Lippitt, from Thurcaston, turned 10 at 1010 BST on 10/10/2010. Beat that!

And now for something completely different... a day in the life of a mosquito.

Okies, let's check the weather forecast for 1964 in the good ol' US of A with Captain Sandy. CAPTAIN WHO?

In 1948, Oz technicians were experimenting with this new fangled television wonder that "might one day come to Australia". Eight years later, it did, and I was 12.

Meanwhile, the chicken marinated in garlic and chilli is in the oven with the herbed spuds, and pretty soon we'll all be tucking in to din dins. Gary

October 10, 2010. 10-10-10. There ya go. It would have been more relevant on October 10, 1010 but we'll have to settle for what we've got. Next year we'll have 11-11-11 and the year after 12-12-12. You can forget about 13-13-13 though.

Albert from Denmark wrote again after a long hiatus. He's at a new school now and very busy with his studies and part time job at the supermarket. I've learned not to cage my feathered friends. If they fly away, fine. If they return, fine. It doesn't have to be every day or week or whatever... just whenever they feel like it. I can't help wondering if Steve will write again. It wouldn't surprise me all that much if he did say g'day outta the blue sometime, and bring me up to speed about his life.

The weather's still dreary here... gray and showery. According to the forecast, it's gonna be showery all damn week, and Bluey's got an appointment with the rust bloke tomorrow morning. Before European settlement and the logging of forests and clearing of land for farming, virtually the whole of the eastern coast of Oz was rainforest. Hello? What kinda forest was that? Yeah. RAIN. Not as bad as Papua New Guinea to our north, though. A Red Bubbler has just returned from there and he said it rained about 90% of the time.

The dentist across the road has a lot more energy than I do. He and his wife are busy in the garden pruning things. All I do is think about it.

Beeb time: The evacuation of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile is likely to start on Wednesday, the country's mining minister says. Pretty soon, we'll discover the answers to all the burning questions such as where do they put their poo. The man expected to be the next leader of North Korea has appeared in front of the world's media for the first time. Kim Jong-un went to an outdoor performance in Pyongyang with the current leader, his father Kim Jong-il. They were greeted by an ecstatic crowd. Seems to me that North Korean crowds are easily amused. Breaststroke star Leisel Jones won a record-equalling 10th Commonwealth Games gold medal as Australia continued to dominate the pool in Delhi. It's actually quite embarrassing. Oz is so far ahead it's ridiculous. The Hungarian village of Kolontar has been evacuated after new damage was discovered at a burst reservoir that spilled toxic sludge on Monday. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said it was "very likely" that an entire wall of the reservoir would collapse, releasing a fresh wave of chemical effluent. Mr Orban also said there would be "very severe" consequences for those to blame for the disaster. The buck stops with the boss, and the boss is the PM. The former editor of Indonesian Playboy, Erwin Arnada, has been arrested on the island of Bali. Police had been looking for Mr Arnada, who ignored orders to surrender after being sentenced to two years in jail for indecency in August. He had first been tried in 2007 and cleared of all charges. But the FPI and other Islamist groups lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court, which found him guilty of public indecency after publishing a handful of issues of Indonesian Playboy, which contained no nudity. No nudity? So what's the problem?

You know, all religious people believe in God but they conveniently forget that God created nudity, and it was man that created clothing. Hehe. Such a silly world, but ya gotta laugh. If you took it all too seriously you'd go nuts. Hmmm. What did I just say?

So, how is my leg wound progressing? Well, it still looks a bit ikky but it's improved quite a bit since the other day, to the point where I think I might be able to skip the antibiotics treatment. It's still weeping a tiny bit, but not much, so maybe my natural immune system is doing its job. Maybe it was the frankfurts and chips. Actually, I think it's the use of a loose open-weave gauze bandage that allows air to circulate that's responsible for the improvement.

Justin just posted a story about a street gang that tortured two gay teens and a man in NYC. It was described as vicious hatred. Well, that kind of vicious hatred is not restricted to street gangs. Oregon Richie sent this link to an article about school bullying in Ohio. It's enough to make you weep. Gary

October 9, 2010. Fl Josh hasn't written neh, neh, neh, neh, neeeh, neh yet, but he will. My GP checked out the pic of my wound on the web and said it looks like it's infected, and I'll need a course of antibiotics. "Keep an eye on it", the medical center receptionist said over the phone, "and if it gets worse, phone again Monday." My doc is back from vacation on Wednesday but he's already booked up to buggery, so they'll have to squeeze me in.

Meanwhile, it's another gray and dreary day. So what do you do on dreary days? You check Youchewb hoping to find something interesting. Here is a little production by College Humor Originals about the human vagina... one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

I've also been watching a number of clips featuring former Oz Prime Minister Paul Keating - Mr Acid Tongue. A most interesting and colorful character who had the ability to demolish the opposition in parliament with his razor-sharp wit and humor. When Keating was PM and John Howard was leader of the opposition, Keating gave Howard heaps. "How ya goin', Curly?" he would say to the balding Howard, hehe. He often used words like 'desperate', 'tragic', 'miserable', 'pathetic' and similar derogatory adjectives to describe his parliamentary opponents, and always with a twinkle in his eye and a cheeky smile. He often had the gallery in stitches. But it didn't do him any good. Howard won the election in 1996 and served as PM until 2007, making him the second-longest serving PM in Australia's political history. Keating said at the time of his defeat, referring to the electorate, "where did they all go?" Nonetheless, Keating was by far the most entertaining and witty of all PMs in my view.

Keating was interesting. He left school at age 14 like I did. He was a Canterbury-Bankstown boy like I was. He managed a rock and roll band like I did (he had the Ram Rods and I managed the Climax). He was born in 1944 like I was. He's self-educated like I am. But he became PM and I didn't - not that I aspired to politics. My skin's too thin.

Beeb time: China issues a strong protest after Norway's Nobel Committee awards its 2010 peace prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. No surprise. Autocracies and dissidents don't get along too well. The 33 miners trapped underground in Chile should be reached within 24 hours, though they will not be rescued until next week, officials say. Progress, that's what matters most. Arab League ministers give the US the one month to rescue deadlocked direct talks between Israel and Palestinians. Miracles do happen, I guess. The death toll following the spill of a large amount of toxic red sludge from an industrial plant in western Hungary has risen to seven, officials say. That's regrettable enough but the apparent apathy towards securing the sludge in the first place is an absolute disgrace. The US airline regulator has warned carriers shipments of lithium batteries may ignite if exposed to high heat in flight, risking a "catastrophic event". The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the batteries, widely used in consumer products, could ignite in a fire, overwhelming suppression systems.The FAA said a US cargo flight that crashed last month near Dubai carried a shipment of lithium batteries. Noted. Police have arrested 57 people over child pornography allegations Spain, including business owners and local police officers, the authorities say. Those detained in recent days include a gardener who had filmed relatives aged seven and 14 in sexual poses. Another 47 people have been placed under investigation as part of the same inquiry. The police said they carried out almost 100 raids across Spain after uncovering a file-sharing network. I get the impression that the internet has brought child pornography to the fore in recent times, but it must have existed in one form or another in the past, probably for countless millennia. Hollywood star Johnny Depp made a surprise appearance at a school assembly in south London after one of the children wrote to him with an invitation. Beatrice, nine, sent a letter to the actor asking for piracy lessons to help lead a mutiny against the teachers. He astonished pupils at the school in Greenwich by agreeing to visit them as Pirates of the Caribbean character Captain Jack Sparrow. Check out the video here

Justin's blog has an interesting discussion going on about the building of a mosque in close proximity to Ground Zero in NYC.

Oz is still leading the medal tally at the Commonwealth Games in India... by a long way. I vaguely remember something about Oz doing pretty badly in various Olympic competition some decades ago, and a decision was made to set up a special Sports Academy in Canberra to train promising athletes to elite status, all sponsored by the Australian Federal Government. The Academy has been a phenomenal success in recent years, so much so, that the Brits have copied our strategy and plan to give us a run for our money at the 2012 Olympics hehe. Bastards. That's plagiarism! Obviously we bloody colonials are getting up their jolly olde collective nose.

South Africa is not doing too badly... it's in the top 5.

John Lennon would have turned 70 today. Here's Yoko.

You've seen the pics I've taken of my little expeditions into the various pockets of rainforest around here on the Mid North Coast, but here's a sample of the bush sounds I hear when I'm walking the tracks. One of them is the whip bird which has the most amazing call that resonates throughout the forest. Here's a reminder of the trip I took to Ellenborough Falls back in October 2007 when I was just a mere lad.

T-bones, baked chicken or frankies and chips? THEY chose frankies and chips. Hehe. Oh well... and I was looking forward to having a gourmet steak and Guinness pie while they tucked into T-bones. Never mind. I'll have that pie tomorrow night. They are soooo good... a tad expensive but worth it, and besides, they were on spesh at 2 for $6. Yeah, so I bought 2, and they're in the freezer.

I just tried to watch Stephen Fry live at the Sydney Opera house on the net but the connection is a bit slow at the mo and the audio was breaking up a bit, so I'll try again later. But I did catch a bit of it. He selected a woman from the audience and asked her to be his official timer: "I've only got 45 minutes on stage and I may become intoxicated by my own verbosity, so I want you to keep your eye on your watch and let me know when my time is up. However, at the end of the 45 minutes, if I happen to be perched on the verge of a brilliant punch line, then shut the fuck up." Hehe. I loved his use of the word 'perched'. Gary

October 8, 2010. Gray and dreary... one of those days when you don't feel particularly inclined to do anything. Justin reckons it's the lack of lumens from sunlight. I reckon it might have something to do with color as well, or the lack of it. Gray is not very inspiring.

On the other hand - and isn't there always? - some photographs that use shades of gray rather than color can be very attractive as well as artistically appropriate.

Dr Josh from Florida wrote: You are going to have a heck of a time doing the odyssey if you have to do it with a wooden leg.  Do you have termites over there? Dr Josh is worried that my wound is showing signs of infection or even blood poisoning. No... the wound looks a bit ikky, and hasn't healed properly yet, but it's not THAT bad. I suspect the healing process was hindered initially by the use of a plastic waterproof (and airproof) bandage. When the specialist surgeon saw it 2 weeks after the op, he blew his stack and described it as a 'hot house'. But he said the biopsy of the removed skin and flesh showed that all malignant material had been successfully eliminated. And he apparently didn't see anything wrong with the wound when he removed the initial bandage. If you can't trust your doc to know what the hell he's doing, who can you trust? Meanwhile, I'll keep an eye on it and change the bandage each time I shower.

My main regret is that my GP failed to recognize the cancer 2 years ago when it was barely 1 centimeter in diameter. He thought it was eczema, and the ointment he prescribed only made it worse. But no one's perfect. My GP has learned something, and so have I. I remember what he said when I first showed it to him: "It's perfectly circular... a most interesting shape." Shape? Who cares about shape!

Beeb time: Global currency wars pose "a real threat" to economic recovery, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has warned. In an interview with the BBC, he said currency disputes showed countries were not co-operating as well as they had during the financial crisis. Mr Strauss-Kahn told the BBC that there were signs that countries were trying to use their currencies "as a weapon". "The willingness of the countries to work together, which was very strong at the climax of the [financial] crisis is not as strong today," he said. Not sure I understand all that stuff, but I do know that the Aussie dollar has almost reached parity with the USD. Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai accuses President Robert Mugabe of violating the constitution and unilateral decision-making. So what else is new? Peruvian writer, journalist and one-time presidential hopeful Mario Vargas Llosa has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature. So that's the reason I missed out? I'm not Peruvian! Toxic red sludge from a spill at an industrial plant in Hungary has reached the River Danube, officials say. They said alkaline levels that killed all fish in one river were now greatly reduced, but were being monitored. PM Viktor Orban called the spill an "ecological tragedy". There are fears the mud, which burst out of a reservoir on Monday, could poison the Danube. Countries downstream from Hungary, including Croatia, Serbia and Romania, are drawing up emergency plans. Those emergency plans should have been drawn up a long time ago. Think ahead, boys, think ahead. Migration from poorer to richer countries has slowed down sharply as a result of the international recession, a report commissioned by the BBC says. Migration to richer countries has been on the increase for the last 30 years. Not sure I understand why keeping up with the Joneses should mean moving in with the Joneses. Hollywood film studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer has begun plans to file for bankruptcy protection in an effort to rid itself of $4bn (£2.5bn) of debts. The studio is asking more than 100 of its creditors to approve a plan that will see it enter chapter 11 bankruptcy while it restructures. Creditors will get a 95% stake in the company as part of the deal. Really? How the seemingly invulnerable giants of industry have fallen lately. The commander of Canada's largest air force base is to plead guilty to the murder of two women and the sexual assault of two others, his lawyer says. Col Russell Williams once acted as pilot for Queen Elizabeth II and was in charge of Base Trenton in Ontario - Canada's busiest air force hub. His lawyer told an Ontario court he would plead guilty to all charges. Col Williams was accused of burgling 47 homes, starting in 2007. Most of the targeted homes were in the same street, with one home burgled nine times. The Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported that police had seized 500 items of women's underwear from Col Williams's home in Ottawa. "He was able to lead an elaborate double life and was able to keep it successfully concealed," said a senior officer. It doesn't get much more bizarre than that. But concealed from whom? Not himself, obviously. More than 1,000 teachers have been sacked in Kenya for sexually abusing girls over the past two years, the authorities say. Senior government official Ahmed Hussein told the BBC that most of the victims were aged between 12 and 15. He said a nationwide confidential helpline set up to help victims had revealed that the problem was much more widespread than previously thought. And that applies not just to Kenya. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has written to the Pope, thanking him for condemning an American pastor's threat to burn the Koran last month. In his letter, Mr Ahmadinejad also called for closer co-operation between Iran and the Vatican. My guess is that Mr Ahmadinejad is a pretty good chess player, What a cheeky bugger. India has condemned "racist and bigoted" remarks by a New Zealand TV presenter who made fun of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's surname. TVNZ breakfast show host Paul Henry broke into laughter a number of times as he mispronounced the surname - which sounds closer to "Dixit" in English. He told viewers Ms Dikshit's name was "appropriate because she's Indian". What an idiot.

Okies, shopping's done for us and Av... I even got a dollar tip. Hehe. And then outta the blue, Chris the rust bloke phoned. "You still want those bits of rust cut out?" I thought he'd forgotten about me. I guess he must be going though a slack period. Fine with me. So Monday morning I'll turn up with Bluey, explain the bits I want done, and go from there. No spray painting... the rusty bits are not external. Should be a one-day job. But if you don't stop rust in its tracks, you end up with a major problem. A stitch in time, mate.

And there goes another Friday. Bolognaise tonight, with all the goodies like celery and mushrooms in the mix, and a bit of ground pepper and Tabasco to liven it up. There's nothing worse than LAMO bol. Gary

October 7, 2010. I happened to search Blue Water Dreaming on Google and found a segment from the TV series I was involved with back in the '90s. Involved with? I was one of two guys who put the whole concept together. Then I got moved sideways. "Would you mind if I became executive producer?" my biz partner asked. "It's only a title." So I agreed. Silly me. Anyway, the clip shows the kinda thing we were doing, traveling around various places promoting boating, tourism, fishing (including big game) and high profile personalities. I didn't get to go on many shoots, and missed out on the Caribbean shoot as well. Boats aren't my thing, anyway... and I don't eat lobster.

Not sure why but I don't like being away from home and everything familiar. And that's why something like the Odyssey suits me. Doesn't matter where I am, I'm home. Yeah? Maybe I was a tortoise in my last life.

Here's a pic Justin posted on his blog.

Speaking of Odysseys, there's a young family touring around Oz (or were) so I checked their web site and journal. I found this entry titled Great Balls of Fire:

It is with great sadness that I have to announce that our trip has come to a very premature and firey end.

The whole incident is still a bit too raw for me to write up the full story but in brief, we lost EVERYTHING – car, caravan and all contents – in a freak accident at Banka Banka Station on Saturday 12 September.

I’ve noticed the incident has been discussed and debated on a few forums already – some with incorrect information – so here is the short story:

We wanted to start the generator but it had no fuel in it. It was a hot day and when Scott opened the jerry can the fumes travelled and unfortunately reached the gas fridge we had sitting nearby. The pilot light on the fridge ignighted the fumes and the rest is history. Scott and I were burnt – Scott much worse than I – from the initial explosion. We attempted to put it out but the bed was on fire and it spread very quickly – not to mention all the fuel there so it was pretty much an impossible task. Scott got us away to safety and the gas bottle went soon after.

We would like to thank Fiona and Alex at Banka Banka Station for everything they did for us. Everyone was so amazing. Many thanks also to the medical staff from Bootu Creek and the couple that were camped next to us (I’m so sorry I can’t recall your names), The RFDS, the doctors and nurses at Tennant Creek and Alice Springs Hospitals. An extra special thank you to Dave who drove me and the boys to Alice Springs to be with Scott!

We have many photos which I will upload shortly, unfortunately all trip photos have been destroyed.

Hmmm, the perils of camping out. But a month later they added this, titled Back in the Saddle:

It’s been a month since the accident and Scott and I have healed well. We’ve both been discharged from the burns unit and now only have the scars to show for it all.

We’ve had many a discussion about where to go from here. And as the weeks have passed its been easier to see us back on the road – that was something I wasn’t too sure about in the early days. But we both agreed that we can’t let the freak accident from keep us from finishing off the trip.  One thing is for sure though, there will be no jerry cans on our next rig. I’d rather boil in the heat or freeze in the cold – no gennie needed for us.

Once we heard that the insurance was paying out we headed straight out and looked at vans.  We stayed clear of the expandas and rapids. I don’t think either of us would be able to sleep in one again – knowing how fast it went up in flames…

And the great news is we’ve found a van.  It’s a Paramount Intrepid and it has pretty much everything we need already.

Now all we have to do is get the car all set up – we’re taking Scott’s trusty old Land Rover Discovery.  She’s not the Beast (a '91 80 Series Land Cruiser) but the Disco should do the job.

Fingers crossed we should be back on the road in a few weeks…

Reading through some of the journal entries, I discovered that apart from kangaroos and koalas, Oz wildlife includes lots of mozzies and flies, as well as noisy young campers. I kept getting the impression that the author of the journal wasn't too thrilled with the vagabond lifestyle. Mind you, he did have two things in tow that I don't have... two little kids and a caravan, as well as a missus. I've been places where the flies are thick, and the mozzies are prevalent. Flies are attracted to flat farmland where there's plenty of livestock and dung, and mozzies are attracted to wetlands where the water is still. I imagine that experienced campers know the places to camp and the places to avoid.

And here's what the author has to say about getting your car serviced by a mechanic out in the bush: Just after lunch time Scott went to pick up Beast – it was only 100m down the road – and returned in an awful mood. $1000 just to change the oil, change the brake pads and replace some O rings in the ACSD. Scott then fixed a hose on the turbo and we were getting ready to take the boys to the Fun Park again. Scott suddenly had a horrified look on his face – 3 nuts were missing from the rear right wheel and the 3 that were still there were so loose he could unscrew them with his hand. The mechanic came round and he tried to blame the rattle gun when really he just didnt know what he was doing. Scott took it back around to them and sat over their shoulder as they replaced nuts and studs.  He was not a happy boy. He has vowed to fix/replace/change/tune anything else himself from now on – labour doesn’t cost $90 an hour and at least he knows its done right!

Not a pretty picture, yes? Mind you, I've had my share of dodgy mechanical repairs here in Taree as well.

Speaking of not pretty, I showered and plucked up the courage to remove the second bandage on my leg. The first one was described by the surgeon as a 'hot house' so he replaced it with a bit of paper tape a week ago. Fifty bucks thank you very much, see ya later. Well, the wound is not looking too great after 3 weeks, so I took a close-up pic, posted it on Aussie Odyssey (unlinked) and sent the URL to my GP asking for his assessment and advice. I won't link it here cos it's too ikky. But I can tell you that the wound is about 4 times the size of the original lesion.

Beeb time: A commission investigating the response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has strongly criticised the White House in a number of areas. The Obama administration blocked government scientists' efforts to inform the public of worst case scenarios, a draft report said. Officials were said to have been too optimistic about handling the disaster, one of the worst in US history. I remember saying that BP would not have been there if they hadn't obtained PERMISSION to be there. Militants torch about 40 oil tankers carrying fuel for Nato in two separate attacks in Pakistan, as the US apologises for a cross-border helicopter raid. Jesus, what a mess. Anti-apartheid figurehead Archbishop Desmond Tutu is retiring from public life, as he reaches his 79th birthday. Who the hell replaces people like Tutu and Mandela? US federal agents have arrested more than 70 Puerto Rican police officers on drugs-related charges. In all more than 120 people have been charged, including prison guards and soldiers. The US justice department said the arrests followed "the biggest police corruption investigation in the history of the FBI". And so the battle continues. It's a war that can never be won. Engineers drilling to reach 33 miners who have been trapped underground in Chile for over two months say they have just over 100 metres (328ft) to go. But the main drill has had to slow down because it is passing close to a mine tunnel, and there is a risk of collapse. The engineers expect to reach to the trapped miners in the next few days. Journalists will soon be waving their open check books in the faces of the miners. US First Lady Michelle Obama beat heads of state, chief executives and celebrities to be named the world's most powerful woman by Forbes magazine. I wonder what they mean by 'powerful'? Commonwealth Games day four, top 5 gold medal tally. Check the chart at the end of Beeb time. How Oz manages to do so well given its relatively small population never ceases to amaze me. Jurassic Park actor Sam Neill has criticised New Zealand's government for getting involved in an ongoing row over The Hobbit. Production on Peter Jackson's movie is in jeopardy after unions urged actors to boycott the films over pay. On Monday, prime minister John Key said the government was holding discussions with the key parties. But Neill told a local newspaper: "The last thing we need here is for the situation to be politicised." In September, Jackson warned that if the dispute continued then the two-film Lord of the Rings prequel could be filmed outside his home country. In an open letter he said the wrangle was a "grab for power" and an attempt by Australian "bully-boy" acting unions to exert influence over New Zealand's film industry. All I can say is I'm a fan of Sam Neill and not a fan of union bullying. Award-winning US documentary maker Marshall Flaum has died at the age of 85 from complications following hip surgery. Flaum, whose career spanned 55 years, collected five Emmy awards and was twice nominated for an Oscar. His extensive work on films with naturalist Jacques Cousteau during the 1970s resulted in two Emmy awards. You may not be familiar with his name but you would have seen at least some of his work. A chimpanzee famous for smoking cigarettes has died at a South African zoo, aged 52. Charlie the chimp started smoking when some visitors to Mangaung zoo, in Bloemfontein, threw him lit cigarettes. Zoo spokesman Qondile Khedama said Charlie had become an institution, entertaining thousands of visitors every year with his antics. An autopsy is being conducted to determine the cause of death. For years, zookeepers had been trying to get the chimp to kick the habit, and they discouraged visitors from giving him cigarettes. But Mr Khedama said he did not believe the addiction had ended Charlie's life prematurely, as he had lived around 10 years longer than the average chimp. Hehe.
Countries Gold Silver Bronze Total
1. Australia 22 14 10 46
2. India 9 10 2 21
3. England 5 9 7 21
4. Singapore 5 1 1 7
5. Malaysia 3 5 3 11

Well, there goes another Thursdee. Last night I watched a lip sync vid by a couple of lunatics that I enjoy. I favorited one of their vids some months ago, and I favorited this one too. They're crazy, but it's a cool kinda crazy, and just what the world needs now. Gary

October 6, 2010. TX Greg wrote: I know how you don’t like to fly in planes, but you’d look good in this….

That's a pretty nifty gadget. I thought at first that it must be an American invention but when I checked the clip with the voice over, I noticed the pronunciation of Jit instead of Jet. Ah ha! A New Zillander! Then I checked the company history. Yep, New Zilland. The craft is still in its early stages of development. For one thing it takes both hands to fly the thing which precludes any other activity such as rescuing another person from an abseiling accident or at sea. Still, it's a wonderful achievement. I often have dreams of being able to defy gravity and move effortlessly and weightlessly through the air with no apparent assistance other than sheer will. I wonder what that's all about.

If I miss a program on telly I catch up on line with iView. Just now I watched the latest episode of QI, which was both amusing and interesting. What makes the loudest noise in the ocean? No, not whales. It's crustaceans, little prawn-like creatures that produce bubbles that pop by snapping their nippers closed. There are trillions of them all popping away, and if they happen to be close to shore they can keep whole towns awake at night with all their bloody racket. Basically, QI is a program about all the things you didn't need to know but find interesting anyway.

Ya know, if my friend Howard reads Green Room and says, "this is awesome, let's make a movie" - actually, that's not what he'd say - he'd use TV-speak and say, "this has got legs, let's make a movie", how the hell am I gonna find a spiky-haired teen actor with a ready smile, a willingness to beat the crap out of anyone who pisses him off, a talent for surfing, swimming and boxing, and a soft side that melts the hardest of hearts? I forgot cheeky... throw in cheeky as well. On top of that, how the hell am I gonna find a blond boy-god like Steve? How am I gonna find a handsome hunk with a bad 'tude like Mark? Or a grommet like Wingnut? Sounds impossible. If this project ever sees the light of day, the casting will be a nightmare.

Beeb time: Officials are linking a recent increase in US drone missile attacks in Pakistan to efforts to disrupt a suspected al-Qaeda plot to attack European targets. Well, you know what they say about prevention and cure. Emergency services in Hungary are trying to stop a torrent of toxic red sludge flowing into major waterways, including the River Danube. A state of emergency has been declared in three western counties after the chemical waste burst from a reservoir at an alumina plant. Four people are known to have died, with 120 injured. Six more are missing. At least seven villages and towns are affected including Devecser, where the torrent was 2m (6.5ft) deep. The flood swept cars from roads and damaged bridges and houses, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents. The sludge - a mixture of water and mining waste containing heavy metals - is considered hazardous, according to Hungary's National Directorate General for Disaster Management (NDGDM). Oh, dear, this is very serious indeed. We cannot afford to poison our waterways. UN peacekeepers in DR Congo arrest a Mai Mai rebel leader over the mass rape of hundreds of civilians in the east of the country. That's something that simply defies (and always has) my comprehension: how anyone could possibly gain satisfaction from the rape of another person. The man convicted of an attempted car bomb attack in New York's Times Square has been sentenced to life in prison. Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-born US citizen, pleaded guilty in June to 10 weapons and terrorism charges. At his sentencing in Manhattan, Shahzad told the judge "war with the Muslims has just begun", with the US facing "imminent" defeat. Obviously, that's what they believe. It's also what makes them so dangerous.

But back to waterways. We've had a 10-year drought in Oz that brought the Murray River to its knees. Recent rains, however, have restored flow. Salinity is still high but the increased flow looks like flushing the river system into the Great Southern Ocean and re-establishing the wetlands with their thriving eco system. The frogs are back, folks! The existence of frogs is a joyous and reliable barometer of the health of a river system, and it's wonderful to see them, hear them back. That's one kind of croaking I don't mind in the least.

The Murray River (River Murray in South Australia) is Australia's longest river. At 2,375 kilometres (1,476 mi) in length, the Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains and, for most of its length, meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between New South Wales and Victoria as it flows to the northwest, before turning south for its final 500 kilometres (310 mi) or so into South Australia, before emptying at Lake Alexandrina. As of 2008, the Murray River only receives 36% of its natural flow, it is perhaps the most heavily irrigated and agriculturalised river in Australia. (Wikipedia)

Not a terribly exciting day today, dear Breth. I took a few photos of the house across the road which is fronted by a huge, tall hedge of trimmed bottle brush trees bursting with flowers, but the sun was too strong and the pics turned out to be rather dreary. Oh well... Maybe later. And I really must get back to Old Bar to take more pics of those kite surfers, next time with a long telephoto lens and tripod. Promises, promises. I'd like to have another shot at the acrobatic kids on the skateboard rink as well. Those daredevils have no fear. 

Meanwhile, it's back to kitchen duties: crumbed prawn cutlets and.... you'll never guess... CHIPS! Home made this time... much better than the bought ones. Gary

October, 5, 2010. I mentioned 'now' yesterday. Later I watched an interview with a successful stand-up comedian in Oz who was a Vietnamese refugee together with his family back in the 70s. At one point during the interview, he quoted his father as having said, "There are only two times in life: there is now, and there is too late."

He was at university studying law when he tried stand-up as a part time job. Eventually, he gave up his law studies to become a full-time comedian. The interviewer pointed out that stand-up was a very precarious way to earn a living, and asked if he ever regretted giving up law. "When you've spent several months at sea in a leaky boat hoping to gain refugee status in a foreign country, nothing else can scare you," he answered.

A few clips from his stand-up routine were shown during the interview: You know, when you're a refugee and you don't have any money, you can't go into a bar and walk up to a girl and offer to buy her a drink. You have to offer her yours and say, "Would you like a sip?" Hehe.

Last night, I thought about who I could send copies of Green Room to, and a couple of names popped into my head... both film producers/directors with whom I worked in the past. Did a Google and found one of them, Howard Rubie, and phoned him this morning. Yes, he's looking forward to reading a copy of Green Room. We chatted for maybe half an hour about old times. I told him I wasn't expecting anything. If he thought the book had potential as a movie or TV mini series, fine. If not, fine. No pressure. The thing is, I own the copyright so if Howard thinks the book has potential as a film, then he doesn't need to deal with a greedy publisher or whatever. I call the shots. I could also write the screenplay. Sooooo, let's see what happens. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and all that stuff. I really don't know many peeps in the TV/movie biz but Howard does. He knows them all, and he's well respected in the industry. He's a quiet man, softly spoken and polite... unlike most of the showbiz types I've met.

So there ya go, maybe the fat lady ain't sung yet.

Beeb time: At least eight al-Qaeda militants - some of whom were German nationals - have been killed in a drone attack in Pakistan, officials have told the BBC. The suspected US drone fired two missiles at a house owned by a local tribesman in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan, the officials said. At least three of the dead were said to be German - of Arab or Turkish origin. In recent weeks, security sources have spoken of a Pakistan-linked al-Qaeda plot to attack European cities. Welcome to the era of robots, dear Breth. A Vatican official has said the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to British IVF pioneer Robert Edwards is "completely out of order". Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said the award ignored the ethical questions raised by the fertility treatment. He said IVF had led to the destruction of large numbers of human embryos. And what did the Vatican have to say about the destruction of millions of Jews during WWII? Sir Norman Wisdom, famous for his slapstick film roles has died at the age of 95, his son confirms. Oh dear, another one gone. Around 400 fans, celebrities, friends, and family members have bid a final farewell to actor Tony Curtis at a funeral chapel in Las Vegas. Funeral attendees bowed their heads and clasped their hands during a series of Jewish prayers. Jamie Lee Curtis, Curtis's daughter from his first marriage with Psycho actress Janet Leigh, became emotional as she described her father, saying he was a "little mashugana" - using the Yiddish word for crazy. "All of us got something from him. I, of course, got his desperate need for attention," Ms Curtis said. Born Bernard Schwartz on 3 June 1925 in New York, the actor served in World War II before taking on the name Tony Curtis when he began his film career in 1949. I saw a clip of Stephen Fry the other night saying, "I'm gay, Jewish and bi-polar. How could I not be a success in Hollywood?" A Brazilian clown has had the last laugh by winning a seat in Congress with more votes than any other candidate in Sunday's elections. Tiririca, or Francisco Oliveira Silva to give him his real name, was elected as a federal deputy for Sao Paulo with more than 1.3 million votes. Tiririca, or "Grumpy", had slogans such as: "It can't get any worse." I'm all for more comedians in politics. The world is desperate for a good hearty laugh. Winston Churchill has become the first prime minister to enter the album chart with a record marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Reach For The Skies, by the RAF's Central Band, featuring Churchill's rousing World War II speeches set to music, was a new entry at four. The legend lives on! Credit-card company American Express is being sued by the US government over claims of anti-competitive practices. Serves the bastards right. The Taliban have infiltrated the Afghan army and police, a recently-retired United Nations official has warned. Dr Antonio Maria Costa, former head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said Taliban sleeper cells had been set up inside the security forces. They had already carried out a number of attacks and were planning further attacks on Nato-led troops, he said. If the UN had infiltrated the Taliban we would think that was cool. One message I'm getting loud and clear is that the Taliban is not stupid. 

The weather has improved a bit, and looks like continuing to improve. What that means for me I'm not sure. We'll see. Meanwhile, the day has slipped quietly by as I watched a couple of vids on Youchewb, including an interesting doco about the finding, rescuing and restoration of the first Qantas jet, a Boeing B707 which was also the first 707 exported by Boeing from the US back in 1959. The restoration was done by Aussie volunteers and the plane eventually flown back to Oz from England (where it was graveyarded for scrap) to be exhibited at the Qantas museum in Queensland where the company began operations back in 1920. During the restoration process, the crew met another owner and enthusiast of the old 707, none other than John Travolta who has one parked at his home in Florida. He uses it regularly to fly around the world.

So now it's time to do the kitchen thing. Salad tonight... chicken, roast pork, pastrami, tomato, onion, lettuce, beetroot, pickle, cheese, and all that stuff. Gary

October 4, 2010. Another wet and dreary day. Bleh. So much for the long weekend. For me, however, being retired, every weekend is a long one... a very long one hehe.

I dutifully wound up my pocket watch this morning, as usual. It's keeping perfect time so far. But I worry about the quality of the spring. So many old pocket watches don't work any more, probably because the spring broke. You've seen it on cartoons. BOING! Goodbye spring. Averil has one that belonged to her father or grandfather... not sure. But it's very old, and doesn't work any more. On the other hand, I suppose I don't need to worry about how my pocket watch will be performing in 100 years.

Which brings to mind the cover of a vinyl LP I saw in a used record shop many years ago. The title was THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW. Actually, they were both now, just as I'm writing this now, and you're reading this now - two different nows but now nonetheless. Hehe. Everything is now. Nothing else exists. It might have existed, and may very well exist on the morrow, but the present is ever present. We're born now, live now, and die now.

Among the collection of used LPs was one that had a picture of the band on the front. One of the guys had his enormous schlong sticking out of his fly. I thought that was pretty unusal for an LP cover. I'd never seen anything like that before. But there he was, proudly displaying his claim to fame. That pose must've been a relic from the old Woodstock days.

Interesting to me, perhaps not so interesting to you. John Laws is retired now but his radio career spanned 50 years. I worked with him back in the mid 60s and again in the late 70s and early 80s. He was a legend in Oz and probably the best known talk-back radio man in the business.

Back from slaving over a poem... a tribute to Tyler Clementi and other victims of bullying such as Matt Shepard. I spent quite a bit of time on it trying to get it right but even now I feel that it's not adequate. Perhaps there's no such thing as an adequate tribute to those unfortunate boys.

The Oz Air Force has just retired the old F1-11 fleet after 30+ years and replaced it with the Super Hornet, which has been a controversial choice. Some say the equivalent Russian fighter/bomber can run rings around it. Meanwhile, here's a pic of an old Mustang coming in for a landing as a Super Hornet prepares for take off.

Beeb time: Brazil's presidential election will go to a second round after Dilma Rousseff failed to gain the 50% of votes needed for an outright victory. With 98% of votes counted, President Lula's former cabinet chief has 47% with Jose Serra trailing on 33%. The two will contest a run-off vote in four weeks' time. A strong showing by the Green Party candidate, Marina Silva, who polled 19%, may have cost Ms Rousseff a first-round win. Almost a re-run of the recent Oz election with the Greens and independents holding the balance of power. Suspected militants have attacked a depot (in Pakistan) where dozens of tankers were being filled with fuel for Nato troops in Afghanistan. They say 27 tankers were set on fire in the attack close to the capital Islamabad. Six people were killed in the attack early on Monday morning. This is the latest in a series of attacks on convoys travelling by land through Pakistan to supply Nato forces in Afghanistan. Suspected militants? The Dutch anti-Islamist MP Geert Wilders is to go on trial in Amsterdam on charges of inciting racial hatred against Muslims. If found guilty, Mr Wilders could face up to a year in jail or a fine of up to 7,600 euros ($10,000). Mr Wilders will stand trial on five charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims, including calling Islam fascist and likening the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf. He campaigns for a stop to Muslim immigration to the Netherlands, a ban on the construction of new mosques, and a tax on headscarves. Inciting hatred against Muslims? I thought Muslims were doing a pretty good job of inciting hatred themselves. After all, we're the ones accused of being infidels and enemies of Allah. The 2010 Commonwealth Games have begun with a spectacular opening ceremony in Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Athletes from the 71 competing nations joined in a parade that began with 2006 hosts Australia and ended with India. Prince Charles and Indian president Pratibha Patil announced the Games open, but organising committee chair Suresh Kalmadi was jeered by the crowd. The build-up to the Games had been blighted by concerns that venues and accommodation may not be completed. However, the glittering opening ceremony, which charted both the heritage and present-day experience of India and featured about 9,000 performers went smoothly. Let's hope the games are a huge success and prove the critics wrong. Germany has been celebrating the 20th anniversary of its reunification. Chancellor Angela Merkel led the official celebrations, hosted by the northern city of Bremen and attended by tens of thousands of people. Capitalist West and communist East Germany merged on 3 October 1990, nearly a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall which divided them. Is it only 20 years? Seems longer than that...almost ancient history. I remember buying goods marked 'Made in West Germany'. Rutgers University in New Jersey has held a candlelight vigil for a student who killed himself after two fellow students allegedly filmed him having sex with a man. The hour-long silent vigil was held on the university's campus in New Brunswick, with students hugging and holding hands in a show of unity. Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from a bridge on 22 September. It's a pity Tyler wasn't capable of shrugging off the exposure as no big deal - because it WASN'T.

Let's take a little break to check out a short film of the family album of a bloke who worked for Qantas during the '50s. Here's another short family story of their participation in Australia's aviation history.

Din dins time. But before I go, I saw a story on TV the other night about an Australian army doc who has done some pretty brave things in third-world countries, helping people in need, saving lives, and peforming surgery in the field. He's back in Oz and is determined to ban smoking. He says it's criminal to allow tobacco to be consumed when 100,000 Aussies die each year due to tobacco-related illness. What I wanna know, and I'm almost famous for asking silly questions, is how much cheaper is it for governments to keep citizens alive for a further 10 or 20 years on tax-payer funded pensions? Maybe the answer is so obvious I've missed the point. Gary

October 3, 2010. FL Josh says ABC TV programs are not available on Youchewb outside of Oz. Give this one a try anyway. Greg Grainger is a bloke I worked with years ago at Radio 2UE. His documentary series Travel Oz is a pretty good show. Greg is a bit of a worry but that's beside the point. This episode contains some extraordinary footage of a personal and up-close encounter with a whale shark.

I remember Greg approaching me at 2UE with that big grin of his about some idea he had but I can't remember what it was. He was probably thinking outside the square at a time when I was content to remain within the square. Don't rock the boat and all that. Oh well...

Meanwhile, it's a wet and dreary day again, so Old Bar is off the agenda as far as I'm concerned. It's disappointing for the participants though. Some of the Kombi owners drive hundreds of kilometers to be part of the show. But, no rest for the wicked... I still gotta do some shopping despite the poor weather. Bleh.

Beeb time: The US government is to issue a travel alert, warning its citizens to be vigilant while travelling in Europe because of the threat of an al-Qaeda commando-style attack. US and UK officials have confirmed that updated guidance will be issued because of the current terror threat. A UK official said the travel advisory would not be country-specific. It would also not go as far as advising against travel to Europe, the official said. The advisory will be issued in response to intelligence on an al-Qaeda plan to assemble teams of gunmen and send them into crowded places to kill western civilians, similar to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Well, there ya go. Allah apparently approves of murdering innocent civilians according to al-Qaeda. How twisted can you get? The Palestinian leadership has said it will not continue peace talks with Israel unless a freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank resumes. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met political leaders after settlement building resumed this week. "The leadership confirms that the resumption of talks requires tangible steps, the first of them a freeze on settlements," said senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo. All the talk in the world is useless without compromise. Thousands of people have been attending a rally in Washington DC in support of jobs, education and civil rights. Organisers called it a One Nation rally, hoping to rekindle enthusiasm for the liberal causes that brought President Barack Obama to office. Five weeks ago, conservative activists held a huge rally at the same spot to denounce the administration. But it was the crowd itself that offered a rare sight; liberals and progressives have kept a relatively low profile since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, says the BBC's Iain MacKenzie in Washington. You can't afford to rest on your laurels, chaps. The louder the opposition shouts, the louder you gotta shout. Environmental campaigners 10:10 have withdrawn a film showing a teacher graphically exploding two of her students who refuse to reduce their carbon emissions, after complaints. In a statement, the group apologised to anyone offended. In the film, which was subsequently posted to Youtube and which contains disturbing images, a teacher invites her class to take part in the environmental campaign. Two children, who do not want to, are asked why. The teacher tells them: "Fine, it's absolutely fine. It's your own choice." But moments later she presses a button and the children explode into a mess. Here's the clip on Youchewb

And there's another example of people with a cause becoming fanatical. It's true ya know, some people become so obsessed with their cause they assume the right to intimidate anyone with an opposing view. Right is on their side, and all that crap. In other words, they resort to bullying.

Back from shopping and Bluey only got a little bit wet. I bumped into a neighbor there and we chatted about various stuff including WHEN I might leave on the Odyssey. Yeah. Me and my big mouth. So then she suggested that L&S didn't really exist; that they were just a figment of my imagination. Hehe. "You should write a book about looking after two non-existent people," she said. Hmmm. Maybe that's not a bad idea.

As I drove down Manning Street, which has rear to kerb parking, the woman in front activated her left indicator and pulled over to the left. No worries. So I moved to the right (remember we drive on the left here) to overtake. Then, with her left indicator still blinking, she suddenly swerved to the right which caused me to stomp on the anchors. She had decided to reverse in a straight diagonal line to the kerb. To reverse park properly, you are supposed to pull up parallel to the kerb, turn the wheel to full left lock, and reverse into the parking space. But according to her, what she did was perfectly logical. She used her left indicator to signal her intention to turn left, and yet she veered to the right - but only because she wanted to go left AFTER turning right. Hello? I'm convinced that the only way to avoid such dingalings is to drive defensively, and expect all other drivers to do the opposite of what they signal.

Actually, the NSW road toll got off to a pretty bad start this long weekend: 7 dead in this state and 15 nationally. One police officer attending the scene of a fatal accident lamented, "I really don't know what more we can do to get drivers to take it easy." Well, I suppose we could make it harder to get a driver's license in the first place. But I guess auto manufacturers would bitch about that, not to mention everyone else in the motor trade.

T-bones, prawn cutlets, pork chops, spag bol or sausage rolls and chips? Guess what Lindsay chose? I knew he would. Sausage rolls hehe. That's cool. I still have a couple of battered frozen flathead fillets leftover from when they were away in England, so Sue can have those. WITH CHIPS. Gary

October 2, 2010. The plan was to whip out to Old Bar today and check out the vintage cars (and whatever else) but, ladies and genitals, the weather is not cooperating. It's cool and drizzly. So the trip is on hold for the mo.

Trust me, this animation clip of a monkey and bananas is brilliant. You gotta watch it.

I gotta stop this ya know... spending so much time on Youchewb. It's incredibly addictive.

Meanwhile, Ellen Degeneres has this to say about the suicide of a young man after being "outed" on the internet. I found the link on Justin's blog. You might like to read J's take on the subject.

Beeb time: US testing that infected hundreds of Guatemalans with gonorrhoea and syphilis more than 60 years ago was a "crime against humanity", Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has said. President Barack Obama has apologised for the medical tests, in which mentally ill patients and prisoners were infected without their consent. Mr Obama told Mr Colom the 1940s-era experiments ran contrary to American values, Guatemala said. The US has promised an investigation. They were indeed dark days all over the world for many reasons. And then, to make it worse, I was born. Chile's mines minister says an attempt try to rescue 33 trapped miners will begin in the second half of October - earlier than previously predicted. There will be some interesting stories told by those men about how people cope with that kind of confinement for an extended period. Stand by for the movie. There is a 60% global shortfall in funding for malaria control this year, according to a report by UK and African experts. I saw something on TV recently about breeding mozzies that are genetically modified or whatever, and that are released into the wild population to render it useless in terms of spreading disease. Something like that. Privacy concerns for Google's Street View may now extend to penguins, following the service's extension to a seventh continent - Antarctica. The Antarctica imagery is so far limited, showing panoramas of the coast and penguins of Half Moon Island. Google says its service now covers 25 nations on all the world's continents. Street View has expanded massively since its launch in 2007 but has encountered a number of protests over its data collection. Here's a pic of a house identical to mine at 3 Hegarty St. Glebe. Mine was No. 15 in a row of terraced cottages. Seems like the median price of a property in Glebe now is a million buckeroonies. I sold mine for $165,000 20 years ago. Sheesh. You could buy a pretty wicked motorhome for a million, and have some change left over. US President Barack Obama has announced the resignation of his hard-hitting chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who is poised for a bid to be mayor of Chicago. The US president described Mr Emanuel as "one of a kind". "We could not have accomplished what we've accomplished without Rahm's leadership," Mr Obama said. I believe that Emanuel is a pretty colorful character who uses even more colorful language. Police across South America have arrested more than 600 people in a wide-ranging anti-counterfeiting operation, says Interpol. Products worth $50m (£32m) were seized in more than 300 raids in 13 countries. The goods included fake satellite receivers, sports shoes, toys, car parts and soft drinks. I still find it difficult to visualize crooks as having been cute little babies at one time in their lives. What happened? A Chinese rocket carrying a probe destined for the Moon has blasted into space. A Long March 3C rocket with the Chang'e-2 probe took off from Xichang launch centre at about 1100 GMT. The rocket will shoot the craft into the trans-lunar orbit, after which the satellite is expected to reach the Moon in about five days. Chang'e-2 will be used to test key technologies and collect data for future landings. The latest launch, to test key technologies and gather data, is China's second lunar mission China says it will send a rover on its next mission, and it also has ambitions to put humans on the surface of the lunar body at some future date. Deja vu. A 26-year-old piece of software at the heart of PCs is about to get an update that will make for boot-up times of mere seconds. Damn! I use that time to boil the kettle, make a cuppa and take a pee! 

I've just been checking out cameras on eBay for the hell of it. No, didn't buy anything. But I've noticed that Fuji cameras are generally cheaper than their more popular cousins like Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc. And yet Fuji is a great product. I have two, and I'd be happy to have a third. Anyway, it's just that I'm charging the Sony battery at the mo and was curious to see what the old Sony is worth these days. Not much, I suspect. But it's still a good camera even at 5MP which is sufficient for a large, high quality print. Mega pixels have gone through the roof lately but about 10 is really all you need, even for a printed poster.

Obviously, I didn't venture out to Old Bar today because of the weather. The forecast is for similar weather tomorrow so it looks like the Old Bar Festival this year is a bit of a flop, which is a shame. But you can check out the Kombi pics I took when I was there in 2008. Here's another series of pics of classic cars from the same year of the festival.

Soooooooooooooooooooooo, that's it for today, another Satdee. Fish 'n' hash browns tonight, with a squeeze of fresh lemon from our very own tree! Gary

October 1, 2010. Are we going forwards or is it just that we're standing still and everything around us is going backwards? Anyway, goodbye September. Let's start the new month with a pic of a grumpy little Aussie.

And here's one of the entrance to my Doc's surgery. He charges an arm and a leg so it's no wonder he can afford the flashest digs in town.

Justin's blog has some interesting posts about teenage suicide, one due to bullying and another as the result of an idiot prank. What a crazy world we live in.

Recently, FL Josh and I discussed the question; what is life all about (and he lost). Well, thanks to Youchewb, I've just discovered the definitive answer.

How long ago did you watch the video of Michael Jackson's Thriller? It's no wonder that guy was King of Pop. All these years later, it's still totally awesome. There was only one MJ.

But there's also 10 y/o street dancer Tyler Patterson on Britain's Got Talent. And doesn't he have a wonderful accent?

Is there no end to the stuff available on Youchewb?

Okay, let's check the Beeb: A court in India says a disputed holy site in the city of Ayodhya should be split between Hindus and Muslims, but both sides plan to appeal. No surprise to me. We live in a world of Us and Them and always have. Tributes are paid to the actor Tony Curtis, who has died at his home in Nevada at the age of 85. Curtis's daughter Jamie Lee Curtis praised her father saying he "leaves behind a legacy of great performances in movies and in his paintings. He leaves behind children and their families who loved him and respected him and a wife and in-laws who were devoted to him. He also leaves behind fans all over the world," she added. Of course... ya gotta fall off the damn perch before you get tributes. Hehe. I suppose if you asked younger generations about Curtis you'd get, "Who?" Four major energy companies are pulling out of Iran in order to comply with US sanctions, the State Department says. We now cross almost live to our Oregon correspondent, Richie: So far as Iran goes... there must be some concept and proper WORD that is blend between sanction and strangulation but I'm not sure what it could be.  Sanctulation?  The developed and "civilized" world is going to erect an economic fence around you, you bloody extreme fanatical wacked-out sanctimonious buttheads. A New Jersey college student has leapt to his death a day after authorities said two students secretly filmed him having sex with a man and broadcast it over the internet. Tyler Clementi's wallet was found on the George Washington Bridge on 22 September after two witnesses saw someone jump from the structure, authorities told the AP news agency. Mr Clementi's body has been found. Two students have been charged with illegally filming the 18-year-old. That's one of the stories I mentioned that Justin posted on his blog. Such a terrible tragedy. Opium production in Afghanistan has almost halved in the past year, a United Nations report says. The sharp drop is largely due to a plant infection which has drastically reduced yields, says the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. But it warns that production is unlikely to stay low, with rising prices tempting farmers to cultivate more opium poppies. Afghanistan produces 90% of the world's opium, the main ingredient in heroin. Really? Well if the Taliban is not in control of the country, who is currently sanctioning the growing of opium poppies? Japan's government has imposed the biggest tax increase on cigarettes the country has ever seen. The price of the most popular brands is rising on Friday by about 40%, from 300 yen ($3.60; £2.30) to 410 yen ($4.90; £3.70). The aim is to encourage smokers to quit, in a country with a reputation as one of the most smoker-friendly places in the industrialised world. It hasn't worked in Oz. A pack of ciggies here is about $20 so Lindsay tells me. I don't smoke ready-mades. I roll my own. 

But back to that young man who suicided after being secretly filmed having sex with another male, and then having it broadcast on the internet. Who killed him? I'll tell you who killed him. The homophobes killed him. He was obviously distraught at being "found out" by his family and friends who he had anticipated would admonish him, and possibly ostracize him, for his unseemly conduct. They are the ones who killed him. And this is the problem. While ever sex, and especially sex with another person of the same sex, is treated as some kind of weird and disgusting activity, this kind of guilt will persist. Let me quote again Ohio June's comment: IT'S ONLY SEX.

If the kid had been secretly filmed taking a crap or vomiting, would he have suicided?

Meanwhile, here's a good reason not to make fun of others. They might just end up making fun of you.

And while you're at it, don't get too greedy.

Hmmm, lots of links there and maybe you don't have time to check them all. Oh well, you can come back another day. And that's it for the first day of October 2010. Oh... yes, the pocket watch is still ticking away merrily and keeping good time. I wind it every morning. I just love mechanical watches, and all those intricate cogs and wheels and bits and pieces that work together so precisely and harmoniously. They are a marvel of mechanical engineering and a great credit to the people who created them hundreds of years ago.

A man named Christian Huygens invented the pendulum clock. He first came up with this new item in 1656. The idea of the pendulum clock was simple and is still very popular today. As the pendulum swings left and right, it turns a wheel with many teeth on it. This wheel turns the hour hand and the minute hand on the clock face. On the first clocks on this design, the pendulum needed to swing over a larger area of about 50 degrees, but as time progressed and the clocks improved the pendulum needed to swing less, only 10-15 degrees.

But it was an ancient Greek who invented the world's first mechanical clock.

Din dins time. Split chicken marinated in garlic and chilli, roasted with herbed spuds. One pan. Too easy! Gary


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