the WAFFLE page

November 30, 2010. Sorry about this but it's taken all day to put the latest chapter of the scrapbook together, about 11 hours less a bit of shopping and cooking dinner. Gary

November 29, 2010. Yes, folks, only one more November day to go!

I spoke to Sue just now and said if I'd thought about it yesterday, I could have skinned the rat and made Rodney a la carte. But she wasn't terribly impressed by that idea, so THEY are having rump steak and onions tonight, and Rodney is on his way to the tip. Actually, I told her that back in the old tall ship sailing days before refrigeration, the sailors were quite happy to have a bit of extra fresh meat. Hehe. But she still didn't buy it.

Jim M wrote: Just wanted to say, you have always had my respect, and after reading Part 6 (of Scrapbook), even more so. Well, what a lovely thing to say, Jim M. I'm flattered. I'm not sure I deserve it but, hey, I'll take it. Speaking of which, I've posted Scrapbook part 7. It's taken a while to compile so it's now just after 4pm already.

I passed out today. I was having my little afternoon nap on my fav chair when I heard a bang. Sue had taken a fall in the foyer. She does that a fair bit because she has one leg shorter than the other, and doesn't always use her walker to get around the house. So I jumped out of my chair and went to her aid. But I stood up too quickly and became faint. It's a blood pressure thing. Next thing I knew I was flat on the floor staring at the ceiling and wondering where the hell I was. I was probably out for a minute or two.

Let's do a quick Beeb: Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks has begun releasing extracts from secret cables sent by US embassies, giving an insight into current global concerns. They include reports of some Arab leaders - including Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah - urging the US to attack Iran and end its nuclear weapons programme. Other concerns include the security of Pakistani nuclear material that could be used to make an atomic weapon. The widespread use of computer hacking by China's government is also reported. They say what you don't know won't hurt you, but I'm not too sure about that. I suspect that Wikileaks will force government agencies to become even more secretive in future. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak describes as an "inhumane" crime" the North's deadly shelling of a Southern island last Tuesday. That's like telling a tiger to become a vegetarian. European ministers reach an agreement over a bail-out for the Irish Republic worth about 85bn euros ($113bn; £72bn). That's a lotta bloody Guinness mate! Veteran comic actor Leslie Nielsen, star of Airplane! and The Naked Gun, has died at the age of 84. He died in hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he was being treated for pneumonia, his agent John S Kelly said. Canadian-born Nielsen started out as a serious actor but in 1980, his role as a hapless doctor in the disaster spoof film Airplane! made him a comic star. In all, he appeared in more than 100 films and had a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Jeez, 84 already. He was great... a very funny man. The New Zealand cabinet has agreed to open a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Pike River mining disaster in which 29 miners died. The Prime Minister John Key said the future of the coal mining industry must await the results of the inquiry. A fourth underground explosion at the mine occurred on Sunday, and a coal fire is now burning. I suppose an inquiry is necessary but I doubt it'll prevent more accidents. There's always something we can't anticipate. The start of the US Christmas shopping season has seen an increase in customer numbers but only a slight rise in actual spending, data has shown. The number of people hitting the shops on Black Friday rose 2.2% on last year, research group ShopperTrak said, but sales only rose 0.3% to $10.7bn (£7bn). I love what J had to say about Black Friday on Justin's blog: These sales always remind me of the sack of Rome by the Visigoths; all sense of humanity, dignity and the worth of civilization vanishes in the stampede through the door. They pour over eachother like loose offal through a sphincter. Singer Willie Nelson is charged with possessing cannabis after the drug was allegedly found on his tour bus, a US Border Patrol spokesman says. "On the road again..." Jeez, that old trooper has smoked the stuff since he was in diapers. Leave the old bloke alone. He's brought more happiness to people than most of the rest of us. The background light filling the Universe holds a history that stretches before the Big Bang, a renowned cosmologist suggests. Well, I guess there had to be something before the Big Bang. Yeah? 

Oregon Richie sent me a link to a story yesterday that touched a sensitive nerve with me. Yes, I can certainly identify with where the author is coming from. It's a very well written piece and worth a look.

Well, a bit after 5pm now and that means... yeah... kitchen time. I've worked my ring off today and I'm buggered but a bloke's gotta do what a bloke's gotta do. Gary

November 28, 2010. Well, today's update of the scrapbook story took a detour that I hadn't planned on making but what the hell. It's all part and parcel of the Kelly Saga. Actually, it's only a small part. If I wrote the whole damn thing it would take years. And besides, if I told the whole story it might ruin my reputation as an adorable sweetheart.

So, here I am mid afternoon on a Sunday wondering what to do next.

It was Thanksgiving the other day and a few northern hemisphericals sent their best wishes. But we don't celebrate Thanksgiving here. We didn't have pilgrims, only Irish villains, assorted convicts and British soldiers. Justin posted a pic on his blog showing a a group of children at a table set with a large roast turkey, so I sent my sincere condolences to the bird's relatives and friends.

Shall we do a Beeb? Why not? North Korea vows to hit back if its territorial waters are violated during US-South Korean military exercises off Korea's coast, reports say. And then what? What a bunch of dingalings. A Russian-made cargo plane carrying eight people crashes shortly after taking off from Karachi airport in Pakistan, killing all those on board. Why call it a Russian-made plane? Brazilian police surround a Rio de Janeiro slum, after the end of a deadline to drug traffickers to turn themselves in or face an assault. There's only one way to deal with those crooks. Harshly. Egyptians vote in parliamentary elections, in a process which has already seen clashes between the opposition and security forces. Opposition? Hardly. A teenager has been arrested in the US state of Oregon after allegedly plotting to carry out a car bomb attack at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Somali-born Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested after reportedly making a telephone call he thought would set off the bomb in the centre of Portland. However, the bomb was a fake supplied by agents in a sting operation. Mohamed is not terribly bright ya know. But he sure is ugly. Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani has hosted a lavish house-warming for his new 27-storey residence, believed to be the world's most expensive home. About 80 people attended the party in Mumbai on Friday, reported the Times of India. One guest described the house as "the Taj Mahal of the 21st Century". Mr Ambani, said to be India's richest man, moved into the house last month with his wife and three children. Reports suggest the residence is worth more than $1bn (£630m). Have you seen it? It's an architectural abomination. Cabin crew on Philippines budget airline Cebu Pacific became internet sensations with their musical version of the airline safety demonstration. The video, released last month, showed the stewards dancing to Lady Gaga and Katy Perry in the aisles of the aircraft during a flight. That's one way to get everyone's attention. Not so silly.

There is a case for legalizing illicit drugs, of course, and taking the industry out of the hands of criminals. Policing illicit drugs costs society an absolute fortune. Prostitution is now legal in Oz. The biz has been taken out of the hands of pimps and criminals. The girls pay their taxes and are protected by law. Actually, the boys are too! But I'm not sure about drugs. I can see the logic in legalizing it but I wonder about the consequences of making drugs legally available. What happens if a kid insists on his right to use heroin? It's a tricky one. What would happen if illegal immigration were legalized? Maybe it's a case by case thing. There was a time when SP (starting price) bookmakers were rife in Oz. We had one in our street when I was a kid. Hehe. He was a railway worker on a basic wage but he drove a brand new Holden. Hello? Then the government introduced the Totalizator Betting Agency (TAB) with betting shops in every suburb and the SP bookies went out of business. Bookmakers at racecourses are legal but they have to be licensed.

The proponents of legalizing drugs argue that we're fighting a losing battle. They rightly point out that getting hold of anything from marijuana to party drugs to heroin is dead easy. The stuff is readily available on the streets. Every time the police intercept a shipment of illegal drugs they admit that it's only the tip of the iceberg. Billions of dollars are being spent on a war that can never be won. Makes you wonder.

Speaking of wondering, I just found Rodney. For the past day or two I've noticed a strange smell in my office. Hmmm. So I checked around a bit but couldn't find anything. I figured if it was a dead rat, then it might be wedged in the wall cavity. Then, a few minutes ago, I lifted a large book just to my right on the floor. Hello? Rodney, stiff as a board and dead as a doornail. He was pretty big, probably 6" in body length, with a long tail about the same length. The bugger managed to gnaw his way inside somehow, but he also made the mistake of eating the poison bait I've distributed around the house. Ew! I wasn't gonna get too close to the thing so I went outside and got the big garden shovel hehe. After a bit of jiggling I managed to get him onto the shovel and took him outside where I wrapped him in newspaper and deposited him in the bin, ready for collection tomorrow morning.

So much for my great white hunter exploits on this occasion. I'm convinced I wasn't born to be brave. When I told Lindsay he carried on about another dead rat behind the fridge in the kitchen. "And you haven't said anything?" I asked. So he led the way and pointed to something gray at the side of the fridge. It was a little pile of dusty fluff. Sheesh. Talk about a drama queen. If I'm not brave what the hell is he?

So there goes another Sunday, a little more eventful than I would have liked, but not life-threatening. Gary

November 27, 2010. Jeez, almost the end of November already, and I was just getting used to typing 2010 instead of 2009.

It's been a long day putting the latest chapter of the scrapbook together. There's quite a bit in it, including a revelation I wasn't sure I wanted to make... being arrested in 1972 and thrown in the clink. But I suppose a story ain't a story without all the juicy bits. There are amusing bits as well, so I hope you get a giggle or two out of it.

I have to whizz up the road shortly so let's do a quick Beeb while my hair dries after showering. Thousands of people are set to take to the streets of Dublin for a protest against the Irish Republic's four-year austerity plan. The Irish want a change of government, but I wonder if they think they'll get a change of reality in the process. South Korea holds funerals for the two marines killed by the North's shelling, as tensions build on the peninsula. It's crazy, yes? But that's the nature of a beast called mankind. The US briefs a number foreign governments, including the UK, about the possible release of diplomatic files by whistleblower site Wikileaks. I haven't made up my mind about whether or not Wikileaks is a good or bad thing yet. But at the mo, I tend to favor the former. US President Barack Obama receives 12 stitches after being elbowed in the mouth during a basketball game. By a Republican? Police have uncovered an 670m (2,200ft) drug smugglers' tunnel under the US-Mexico border - the second such discovery this month. The tunnel links the Mexican city of Tijuana with Otay Mesa in California. Earlier this month a tunnel equipped with ventilation and lights was found. Local media say the new tunnel may be even be more sophisticated. Never underestimate the determination of a crook. Market traders in Ghana will be banned from selling second-hand underwear from next February, trade regulators say. According to the Ghana Standards Board, used pants - and other second-hand goods like handkerchiefs and mattresses - are unhygienic and could pose a health hazard. Hehe. And to think that story made the BBC news. Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin both score unbeaten centuries to help Australia pass 400 and build a significant lead over England on day three of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane. Bloody smartass colonials! Millions of Americans have been heading to the shops on Black Friday, a crucial event for US retailers. Many stores opened their doors overnight, hoping to entice customers with cut-price bargains. Black Friday - the day after the Thanksgiving public holiday - is traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping season. I hate crowds. The reason I didn't play football at school was because there were too many people on the field. I suggested they give each player a football to stop all that silly nonsense where everyone keeps chasing the bloke who has one. The French government has said it will resume the search for an Air France jet that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean, killing 228 people. Officials will launch a fourth hunt for parts of wreckage, including the flight recorders, in the area of ocean where the Airbus A330-200 went down. All those on board Flight AF447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris died in the June 2009 crash. I won't even ride a pogo stick let alone ride in a plane. Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested 149 al-Qaeda suspects over the past eight months, officials have announced. Most of the detainees were Saudis, but 25 were from other Arab, African and South Asian countries, the Interior Ministry said. 149 down and...? Japan's parliament passes a stimulus package worth about $61bn, designed to kick start the country's fragile economic recovery. Well, they say that money makes money. Let's hope they're right. After the dinosaurs were wiped out, mammals went from scurrying "vermin" to giant beasts in just 25 million years, a study shows. That's very true. I've met some of them

FL Josh wrote an interesting piece on the demise of the British Harrier jets: Speaking of the Harrier. . .  I was Utilities Officer at the Patuxent River Naval Air Test Center in the mid '60's when the British sent five prototypes of the Harrier over to the States for us to develop.  They invented the Harrier, but didn't have the money to fully develop it so we did that.  I remember going down to one of the runways in eager anticipation and waiting and waiting and finally four of them appeared as dots on the horizon and approached us, getting larger and larger until we could make out jet aircraft, and then they flew up to the runway in front of us and stopped dead in mid air about 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground in front of us and hovered, then slowly lowered to the ground.  What an exciting thing that was to see.  For months and months after that, if we out driving around on the base and saw one taxing down a taxiway, we would put off whatever it was we (junior officers) were doing and we would follow the Harrier in hopes of getting to see it do a vertical take off.  Unfortunately these planes could also take off like normal jets and more times than not, they would opt to do this instead of doing the vertical thing.  To fly vertically, it literally rotated the discharge from the jet engine downward which was really hard on the plane.  Needless to say, our runways were not designed to have jet exhaust blowing directly on them.  Concrete does not take heat well and can explode.  Asphalt doesn't take it at all. The Harriers had their landing gear in the center of the plane with small wheels under the wing tips like training wheels.  Sit too long on the ground with the engine going and you'll also melt your tires.

When they arrived at "Pax River" (there was a 5th but it broke down on its flight from England) they could not carry any more weight than the pilot and the fuel, and the strain of vertical take offs and landings was so great on the engines, that they had to be overhauled after about 25 hours.  At Pax River we had "Flight Test" which would perfect the flight capabilities.  We had "Service Test," which made the planes pilot and maintenance friendly, and we had "Weapons Systems Test," which would develop the ability to carry weapons.

When I completed my three years of military service, I was interviewed to work in Weapons System Test and remember them showing me a movie of the sorts of things they did and in this movie they had a camera mounted to an aircraft and they filmed a bomb being dropped. The aerodynamics of the plane and the wind going over it caused the bomb, when released, to actually rise and hit the tail of the aircraft.  There would be standard weapons mounts and they would adapt those to a particular plane and it might have places for say eight bombs or missiles and for a particular plane, one or more could not be used because the weapon would hit the plane.  It was kind of interesting.  It was all very secret stuff. 

FL Josh is not just a pretty face ya know. In fact, he's not even a pretty face. But he's interesting.

Well, I better go now. It's getting late and I've gotta do the chef thing. Gary

November 26, 2010. Phone rings. There's a pause before a woman with an Indian accent says, "Hello, this is Mary speaking from the technical department. This call is about your Windows Operating System. Can I speak to the owner of the computer?" "No." So she hung up. Hehe.

But just before that I answered a knock at the door. It was a young Indian man with brilliant white teeth rattling on about electricity and power bills and whatever but I was too intrigued by his accent, and wishing I could mimick it, to follow what he was saying. So he had to go through the whole rigmarole again hehe. Anyway, turns out he's from a billing company that's offering a 5% discount on my power bills. No worries. So I accepted. Since deregulation, various companies can act as a billing company which doesn't affect power supply. It just means that various companies compete with each other as billers, and this one happens to be 5% cheaper than the one I've been using. It's AGL, which has been around since the mid 19th century... Australian Gas Light Company.

Soooooooooooooo, I've spent most of the day so far compiling part 4 of the Scrapbook.

It's late so let's do a quick Beeb: Brazilian police say they have regained control of the Vila Cruzeiro shanty town in Rio de Janeiro, as part of operations to tackle a wave of gang violence. Shades of Elliot Ness and Chicago. Three teenage boys have been found alive after being lost in their boat in the Pacific Ocean for 50 days. The boys, from the Tokelau Islands, a New Zealand-administered territory in the South Pacific, had been given up for dead after an unsuccessful search. A tuna fishing boat picked them up near Fiji and is taking them to hospital for treatment for severe sunburn. Quite a story. But boys will be boys and they will insist on taking risks for the sake of adventure. Michael Hussey frustrates England's attempts to bowl out Australia in the final session on day two of the first Ashes (Cricket) Test in Brisbane. After a string of losses, they said Australia was finished. Hello? Yoohoo! We're back! The Israeli army has demolished a number of buildings in West Bank, including one that Palestinians said was a long-established mosque. Israeli officials said the structures were temporary and built without permits in a military fire zone. Palestinian villagers said the mosque was built before 1967 when Israel occupied the West Bank. If the Israelis keep this up, people are gonna start thinking Hitler had a point. Former Alaskan governor and potential 2012 presidential contender Sarah Palin has made a gaffe on a radio show by saying North Korea is a US ally. Answering questions from host Glenn Beck she said, "Obviously, we've got to stand with our North Korean allies." That woman has gotta go

Ohio Jace wrote: Are you going to consider the scrapbook your memoirs? Well, yes, they are my memoirs but I have no plans to turn them into a book. Besides, it's a fairly brief account of my time in radio, enough to provide an overview of where I've been and what I've done, with a few anecdotes thrown in. If I were to write a detailed account of my life it would be bigger than Quo Vadis. I just wanna let interested parties know that a few things happened between the date of my birth and... well... now. That I was "here" on this planet.

Jace also commented on the current security arrangements at US airports: Have you seen any vids of the airport security pat down? They have resorted to groping; feeling around and between women’s breasts and up their skirts to the honey pot. Men do not fair any better getting a testicle massage. There have been vids of little kids screaming as they are touched. If you as a citizen (not the government) were to do that, you would be arrested so fast your head would spin. And because the words “National Security” are thrown around peeps are accepting the violation. If you refuse the scanner (which shows you naked) and the pat down, you cannot board the plane and the airlines are refusing to refund the ticket cost. TSA is not allowed to go inside your clothing, but they have. The TSA agents wear rubber gloves to protect themselves, but spread whatever from passenger to passenger. Not to mention what you catch from walking around in socks or barefoot.

Remember I told you my friend has silicon balls (the result of testicular cancer)? He has not flown since the new rules have taken effect, but women with breast implants have had to undergo further screenings so he probably would have to too. Similar things have happened to peeps with artificial limbs or metal body parts. You even have to take your earrings off (better not wear your Prince Albert). Do ANY members of Congress get molested? NOPE they get to bypass security all together.

I personally have no problem with the scanner, but I have no desire to be molested by some stranger in public so will probably never make it to Cape Town or OZ. You have to submit to such treatment to get back INTO the U.S. from overseas even after going through the search to get on the plane in the first place.

Yes, we certainly live in a different world after 9/11 and I don't pretend to have the answer. Anyway, it's getting on to 6pm so I better hit the kitchen or the troops will bitch about dinner being late. Gary

November 25, 2010. Yes, ladies and genitals, part 3 of the Scrapbook is now posted. It was supposed to be a short piece but I kept remembering things and searching for appropriate pics on the web. That can - and did - take ages, lemme tellya.

So now it's late afternoon but I've paid all the bills. It's pay day. I've also done all the shopping for both us and Averil. It's been a looong day!

Time for a quick Beeb: South Korea says it will boost border security and be more flexible in response to threats from North Korea. A presidential spokesman said Seoul was concerned it had "become too passive". A planned visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to South Korea has also been postponed, it emerged on Thursday. The delay was put down to "scheduling" issues. Yeah, right. Cambodia holds a day of mourning for hundreds of people who died in a stampede, with a religious ceremony due near the scene of the tragedy. Meanwhile I'm thankful I can't handle crowds. New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key promises an investigation into the deaths of 29 miners at the Pike River mine. Some might ask why there wasn't an investigation before the tragedy. A jury in the US state of Texas has convicted former US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on charges of illegally funnelling corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before returning a guilty verdict. DeLay, who was once one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress, now faces up to life in prison. No comment. Haiti needs at least 1,000 more nurses and supplies of all basic equipment as it battles a cholera epidemic, the UN's top humanitarian figure says. As if the world doesn't have enough problems as it is. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have arrived in Abu Dhabi for a five-day state visit to the Gulf. The monarch is in the region as part of government moves to renew the UK's relationship with the Gulf Arab states. I noticed that the Queen was dressed head to toe and wore a veil. A formation of Harrier jump jets has made its final journey from HMS Ark Royal - the last such flight from a UK aircraft carrier for about 10 years. The four GR9 jets marked the end of an era when they roared off the deck near North Shields, North Tyneside. Both the Ark Royal and the Harriers are being scrapped under cost-saving plans. I suppose that's what eras do; pass the baton onto the next. Governments of 13 countries where tigers still live have endorsed a plan to save the big cats from extinction. And it's about bloody time! An elderly woman has survived being trapped in her bathroom in Paris for 20 days, after the door lock jammed. The room had no window or phone so the 69-year-old was unable to tell anyone but she tapped on pipes during the night, hoping to alert her neighbours. They thought the noise was DIY work and started a petition to have it stopped. But a few people realised they had not seen the pensioner recently and called the authorities, who sent in a rescue crew. Oh dear, the poor old thing! There she was banging on the pipes and the neighbors were complaining about the racket! Bloody hell. Researchers have developed a simple technique that adds evidence to the theory that the Universe is flat. Moreover, the method - developed by revisiting a 30-year-old idea - confirms that "dark energy" makes up nearly three-quarters of the Universe. Ooer! I don't pretend for a minute to understand such things but if you're interested in all that cosmos stuff you can read the article here.

Tony the painter was back today. He has several jobs on the go and comes here when it suits him. Fine with me. He's doing a good job. He used a pressure hose thingy to clean the vinyl cladding on the side wall outside my bedroom, as well as the cladding on the garage, and it's come up like new. I thought he'd painted it but no. Just a pressure squirt with water and a bit of bleach and whammo. Good as gold. He's also painted some of the eaves and timber window borders which all look great. There's a fair bit more to do but he's getting there.

He spent a fair while at the front door before he left for the day telling me about the trouble his son is having with his ex-wife with custody battles and all the legal rigmarole that goes with it. I won't go into the details here but I sure feel glad I'm single with no kids. Hehe. Oh dear... what a mess!

Right, kitchen time. Bacon and eggs and chips. Gary

November 24, 2010. Well, part 2 of the Scrapbook is now posted. Not all that many pics but there's not a lot I can do about that. There are more pics as the story progresses. But ya never know ya luck. It may be that someone reads the scrapbook at some stage down the track and says, "Hey, I've got a pic of such-and-such!"

Right, back from a little shopping and time to do a Beeb: President Barack Obama condemns North Korea's shelling of South Korean territory and says the US is committed to defending South Korea. I liked the way Oregon Richie described N. Korea this morning: What motivates those northern Goose Stepping IDIOTS is hard to figure out.  Why on Earth would they do that?  I suppose it's "because they can...", and often DO, and it's like they only can go but a few months without doing something nasty merely to get the worlds attention like bad-tempered children who do that just to get attention.  Our poor President lost some of his sleep over it; being woken at 4 in the morning to hear the wonderful news. There are a few countries in this little old world that are like a virus or pestilence and THEY are one of them.  Fools.  They sure try damned hard to get the world to endlessly regard them as such. All 29 miners trapped in a coal mine in New Zealand are believed to be dead, police say. The statement came after a second explosion in the Pike River Coal mine. "It is our belief that no one has survived and everyone will have perished," Police Superintendent Gary Knowles said. There had been no contact with the men - 24 New Zealanders, two Australians, two Britons and a South African - since an explosion on Friday. Supt Knowles said the second blast occurred mid-afternoon on Wednesday. "It was extremely severe," he added. "We are now in recovery mode." Not unexpected but dreadful news just the same. My heart goes out to relatives and friends who have been through sheer hell lately. A general strike in Portugal is set to cripple services as workers protest against government plans to cut public sector wages. Which all goes to prove that people are more concerned with their own little world rather than the big one they live in with the rest of us. Police in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro have launched a major operation to try to stop a wave of violence by criminal gangs. For three days, suspected gang members have been blocking roads, burning cars and shooting at police stations. Military police have been deployed in 17 different slum districts. Rio's governor says the violence is retaliation by drugs gangs who have been driven out of some areas by a police pacification programme. That's the way it is, folks. You can't have the cops without the robbers or the cowboys without the indians. One of the first batch of Apple personal computers has sold at auction in London for £133,250 ($210,000). The Apple I came with its original packaging and a signed sales letter from Apple co-founder and current chief executive Steve Jobs. The computer, one of only 200 of the model ever made, originally sold for $666.66 when it was introduced in 1976. It's only when you get to my age that you wish you'd never thrown anything away. 

It's a stunning day today weatherwise. Bright and sunny, not too hot and a nice breeze. By contrast Oregon Richie is bitching about the winter there. The weather icon simply says "bitterly cold" for tonight and I drove home at about 13 d F, now about 10, and predicted to be 3 d F BELOW "zero" tonight. Flannel longies under the jeans and the outer shell today, plus 3 layers including the heavy sweater, flannel vest, and down jacket.  Insulated boots !!

Well, it might look pretty on postcards but you can keep it.

My ex-neighbor in Hegarty St Glebe (well, he's still there but I'm not) sent a few pics of the way it looks today. Bloody hell! Some things are the same, and I recognize all the houses, but there are major changes as well, especially to the rear of the houses. My old joint hasn't changed much externally but the present owner says they're about to renovate and build a double storey section at the back. One of the houses just around the corner from mine is for sale at the asking price of $875,000. Hello? Honestly, I can't believe those numbers. They used to talk about million dollar houses in Hollywood and now they're talking million dollar houses in Hegarty St? That area used to be basic working class, and the little terraces were called 'workers cottages'. Sheesh.

Anyway, there goes another day. Gary

November 23, 2010. I've changed my mind. Yes, folks, I tossed the old brain out the window and now I've got a new one. Seems to work okay. Couldn't be any worse than the old one. Anyway, after finishing Page 1 of the Scrapbook project today I decided to post it. I'll keep posting pages daily until the project is complete. I've created a permanent link on the Aussie Odyssey Home page as well as the Update page.

This is bloody hard yakka ya know. I'm too bloody old for all this slave labor. I was a bit worried about how the whole thing would gel but as I work through it, the bits and pieces kinda fall into place. When I'm missing a pic, I do a Google. If I can't find what I'm looking for I settle for something close enough. I'm trying to refrain from making it too wordy - short, sharp and to the point. Lots of pics and not too much text. Lemme know how you think it's going so far.

Banister, who's a regular commenter on Justin's blog, responded to a story about the religious right being concerned that gay Transportation Security Administration agents might be getting a bit of a thrill when they screen airline passengers with a "pat down". Here's what Banister wrote: When I flew to the U.K. I was patted down and I told the agent "If you're doing that for the government, it's ok, but if you're doing that for you, it'll be twenty bucks." He blushed, I passed. Most of them have NO sense of humor. Banister is an 18 y/o college student and he's a hoot.

Okies let's do a Beeb: At least 345 people die in a stampede on a bridge during festival celebrations in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen says. Celebrations? Honestly, I can't believe how idiotic people can be when they succumb to mass panic. Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is reunited with her younger son, Kim Aris, in Burma after 10 years apart. You've gotta hand it to that lady, she's determined to topple the ruling military junta no matter what it takes. Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen says he will call a general election in the new year following a day of political turmoil over an EU-led bail-out of the country's ailing economy. The Irish populated the new world and I'm tempted to say they left all the dummies at home. But I won't. Qantas says it is to resume flying some of its Airbus A380 aircraft on Saturday, three weeks after a mid-air engine blast. Yep, you can't generate revenue by leaving those big babies on the ground. Hopes are dwindling for 29 men who remain missing four days after a mine explosion in New Zealand, police say. "The longer it goes on, hopes fade and we have to be realistic," said police superintendent Gary Knowles, who is co-ordinating rescue efforts. Hope springs eternal but in this case an eternity is 4 days. A Nazi suspect indicted on charges of involvement in the murders of 430,000 Jews at Belzec death camp has died in Germany aged 89. Samuel Kunz was third on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted Nazi war crimes suspects and had been due to go on trial early next year. He was also accused of personally shooting dead 10 Jews at the camp in occupied Poland during 1942-43. I can think of a more appropriate surname than Kunz. The US airport security agency is "desperately" working to balance travellers' privacy concerns with security needs, the White House said. Spokesman Robert Gibbs said the controversial new screening would evolve with travellers' input. Some passengers are objecting to use of revealing full-body scanners and "pat-downs" for those opting out of scans. Well, we know what Banister has to say about that. Anyway, privacy takes second place to security in this day and age. US agents who drive nuclear weapons around the country were involved in 16 alcohol-related incidents in two years, the energy department has said. One was arrested for public drunkenness and two were held after an incident at a bar while on overnight missions. Speaking of security... A California animal shelter is seeking adoptive homes for 1,000 rats rescued from a house they had infested and virtually destroyed. The rats ran amok in the Los Angeles house of a man said to be receiving mental health treatment, after his daughter brought a pregnant rat home. I see it but I don't believe it. Teen star Justin Bieber dominated the American Music Awards winning four prizes from four nominations. Bieber, 16, who beat Eminem, Usher, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga to artist of the year, also won best pop album, best pop male, and breakthrough artist. Another Youtube success story

It's been a looooong day, so I'd better do my kitchen thing. T-bones and onions for THEM and Indian Butter Chicken and Rice for me... one of those 3-minute microwave thingies. Hehe. Gary

November 22, 2010. I think I've figured out how to compartmentalize the Scrapbook project into navigable sections, but I've realized that it's not gonna be finished for a while yet. I'll work on a chapter or two at a time, starting tomorrow, and then post the whole thing when it's finished. I'll include the link in the regular Odyssey journal but also separately so that it can be found at a later date by anyone who's interested in the scintillating life and times of yours truly. Also, the tome or parts thereof may be updated on occasion if or when some old pic/article or whatever happens to come my way. Like someone might read the thing and write me saying, "Hey! I've got a pic of you and that footballer you met at Bega in 1976..." Oops! Actually, there were two footballers and that's all I'm saying.

I haven't done a Beeb for a while so let's get into it: There is "every chance" the 29 men missing since Friday's coal mine explosion in New Zealand are still alive, says Prime Minister John Key. There has been no contact with the men since the blast at the Pike River mine near Greymouth on the South Island. Families are still waiting for the rescue to begin, but the presence of toxic gases is making it too dangerous to enter the mine. I suppose you've gotta remain positive but it doesn't look good. Japan's justice minister says he is resigning after causing outrage for joking about how easy his job was. Minoru Yanagida said the only two phrases he had to remember in parliament were: "I won't comment on individual cases," and "I'm acting in accordance with the law and the evidence." And the moral of the story is, never tell the truth in politics. The Vatican has played down the importance of Pope Benedict's remarks appearing to temper the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to condoms. The Vatican spokesman said the pontiff's comments were not "revolutionary", but added it was the first time Pope Benedict had commented on the issue informally. The Pope made clear in his view condoms were no answer to the Aids pandemic. Let me quote part of J's comment on Justin's blog in relation to this issue: It looks like he (the pope) is waking up to his own irrelevancy in the modern world... The US has said a report that North Korea has built a new nuclear facility is further evidence of Pyongyang's "belligerent behaviour". The top US military officer, Adm Mike Mullen, said North Korea was "continuing on a path which is destabilising for the region". A US scientist said he been shown "more than 1,000 centrifuges" for enriching uranium on a visit to North Korea. So the question is, what would convince North Korea to maintain the status quo in the region? In other words, how do you convince a weed that it's not welcome in the garden? A chihuahua named Momo (Peach) has passed the exam to become a dog in the police force in western Japan, in what seems to be a first. The 3kg (6.6lb) dog is set to become part of a search-and-rescue team used for disasters such as earthquakes. Its small size means it will be able to squeeze into places too narrow for dogs such as German Shepherds. Makes sense to me. A French farmer has been given a one-month suspended jail sentence and fined 500 euros (£428) for feeding his ducks marijuana to rid them of worms. A police spokesman said it was the first time they had heard such a claim. Mr Rouyer, who lives in the village of Gripperie-Saint-Symphorien on France's Atlantic coast, did also admit to smoking some of the marijuana. Hehe. A 16-year-old boy critically injured in an attack in a Northamptonshire village has died in hospital. A 21-year-old man and three men aged 19 have been charged with Adil's murder and are due in court on Monday. The ol' 4 against 1 trick. Assholes. Cigarette packets should have plain packaging to make smoking less attractive, ministers have suggested. Yep, just like all the other drugs that have no packaging at all. That should work a treat. Yeah, right

Oh, and Rodney? He hasn't showed for 2 nights now, so I figure he's looking for a quieter neighborhood. I made a fair bit of racket the other morning when he was here gnawing at things so I don't think he was impressed.

Speaking of impressive, my ex-neighbor wrote yesterday and told me all the latest goss in Hegarty St, where I used to live 20 years ago. He said the identical house next to mine sold in 2007 for almost $700K. Oh dear... How to make a bloke feel all chirpy and gleeful.

Right, stage 1 of the chips is complete, and the oven is ready for the fish cakes. So I better hit the kitchen. L&S are gonna miss me when I'm gone ya know. Gary

November 21, 2010. I'm eating my roast chicken and spuds as I write this. It's late! But I managed to finish all the scanning today, and I'm buggered. It was a big job, not to mention laborious. Next is organizing all the pics into proper sequence and writing the explanatory notes. I've also gotta figure out how to make the whole thing easily navigable and I'm not sure how to do that just yet. That's my job for next week. Meanwhile, here's a teaser. Gary

November 20, 2010. What happened to yesterday? Well... it kinda went that-a-way. The scrapbook digitizing thing is getting bigger than Ben Hur. I keep finding new stuff to scan/photograph, or I'll suddenly realize I don't have something and then spend hours looking for it on the web. A lotta stuff is just not there so I've written to various radio stations to ask if they have pics of stuff from the 70s and 80s. I also started going through my old photo albums today, checking for relevant stuff. I was surprised to find photos I'd forgotten about, so that was cool.

Here's a paste of an email I sent Oregon Richie this morning: Got involved in the scrapbook thing again yesterday and decided to look for pics I don't have... like studio shots and building exteriors... without much success. So I've emailed the stations and asked for old pics if they have them, which they usually do. It's taking much more time and effort than I antcipated but I suppose it's worth it. For one thing, if any of my grand nieces and nephews I've never met are interested in what their great uncle did with his life, then this is the way to do it.

Meanwhile, I've added a few new faces to my favs on Red Bubble.

Rodney has kept me awake since 3am. After I blocked the hole behind the fridge in the kitchen, he's been working on creating a new one behind the old gas fireplace in my office, which is next to my bedroom. I heard all the gnawing early this morning and started banging things to frighten him away. Instead, he laid low for a while and then started again. So I got tired of leaping out of bed every 10 minutes and decided to go on line. He kept persisting though... remaining silent until he thought the coast was clear and then chewing and grinding again. The sun rose a little while ago so he's gone to wherever Rodneys go during daylight hours. This is not fun. Obviously, this particular Rodney is a very determined rat.

Well, if Rodney wakes me at 3am again I'm gonna scream. I'm in a cranky mood anyway because I've spent hours and hours on the web searching for non-existent pics and it's driving me nuts. There were a few highlights though, like finding a couple of pics of my brand spanking-new 1965 Ruby Red Beetle in a photo album. It cost 950 pounds ($1900) off the showroom floor. I remember a neighbor walking home from the corner store and stopping to admire my new Bug. "That's the prettiest car I ever saw," he said. Scroll down and check it out, baby. Gary


November 18, 2010. Has 2010 been jet propelled or what? Anyway, I forgot to mention something yesterday. I often tell people about my appearance on New Faces back in 1969 and how it led to my freelance job as booth announcer on The Marriage Game with Malcolm Searle. So I decided to check out Malcolm on Google and discovered that he died in 2008 aged 77.

As I mentioned yesterday, some of the old clippings and photographs in the scrap book were a bit fragile to peel off and scan, so I photographed them with the little Fuji compact using macro setting and sufficient daylight not to activate the flash. They turned out pretty well. That compact Fuji is an amazing little thing. You know how the pros photograph documents on a flat plane with a camera positioned directly above on a special tripod thingy and use special non-reflective lighting and a remote shutter release so as not to disturb the camera? I didn't use any of that stuff. I put the photos on the top of my porta potty (with the lid closed, of course) and used natural light from my bedroom window while I hand-held the camera on auto-focus.

Speaking of pics, my Red Bubble calendars arrived today and I must say those RB people do a sterling job. I'm most impressed, even if they are my own images. The quality of the art paper and the printing is superb.

Meanwhile, there have been a few responses to Justin's blog post about the use of correct grammar, etc, which reminds me of a story I heard about communication of the ancient kind... no phones, no internet, no radio, just jungle drums. An elderly man who worked as a pilot in remote areas of Papua New Guinea many years ago told me about a bloke who got into trouble and had to crash land his small plane in a jungle clearing. His radio was out, so he couldn't contact anyone. A group of local natives approached his plane, curious about what had happened. The pilot used sign language and Pidgin English to tell them he needed to get an urgent message to Port Morseby. The only long-distance means of communication available was drums... good old reliable jungle drums just like Tarzan used to use. So the natives beat a message to the next village, which then passed the message onto the next village, and so on, until the message finally reached Port Moresby in about 10 minutes. That same day, help arrived and the pilot was rescued.

Beeb time: The first Guantanamo detainee tried in a US civilian court has been found not guilty of all but one of 286 terror charges over the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Africa. Tanzanian Ahmed Ghailani, 36, was found guilty of conspiracy to damage or destroy US property with explosives. But he was cleared of many other counts including murder and murder conspiracy. The BBC's Iain Mackenzie, in Washington, says the verdict will be seen as a huge blow to the Obama administration and its pledge to try Guantanamo suspects in civilian courts. Don't look at me, I'm not a lawyer. Up to 40 Rolls-Royce engines on Airbus A380 superjumbos worldwide will need to be replaced, according to Australian airline Qantas. Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce was speaking two weeks after a Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine on an A380 exploded in mid-air, forcing an emergency landing. Rolls-Royce has said the engine failure "was confined to a specific component" which led to an oil fire and loss of turbine pressure. To my way of thinking, a specific component that's faulty at 32,000 feet is one component too many and a major worry. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin predicts she could defeat President Barack Obama were she to run for the White House in 2012. If she's right, that's an even bigger worry. The head of the US agency that oversees airport screening has admitted that new pat-down inspections are more invasive than previous techniques. Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole was testifying to senators amid complaints the checks target sensitive body areas. Mr Pistole said he understood privacy concerns, but security was paramount. Meanwhile, footage of a man refusing to have his groin patted down at a San Diego airport has gone viral online. If I were him, I'd be more worried about what they DIDN'T find. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on the US Senate to ratify a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia, a day after Republicans threatened to block ratification efforts. "We can and we must go forward," Mrs Clinton said during a trip to Congress. The treaty would reduce both countries' nuclear arsenals and allow each to inspect the other's facilities. How many nuclear bombs does it take to destroy the world? South Africa's army is to help game parks fight rhino poachers, the defence ministry has told the BBC. "This is becoming a priority for us. We cannot continue to have a situation where rhinos are killed willy-nilly," said a department spokesperson. More than 200 rhinos have been killed in South Africa for their horns since the beginning of this year. The horns are highly prized on the black market and fetch high prices when sold in Asia. Superstition kills the rhino. Superstition is the enemy of reason.

A little while ago I emailed 2LM, a radio station I worked for in '70/71 in Lismore, and asked the manager if he was interested in a little memorabilia I scanned, like a 2LM Top 40 chart. He said sure, they can add it to their history book. So outta the blue, they have a bit of 40 year old history... an unexpected blast from the past - WITH MY PICTURE ON THE FRONT! In March 1970 the No.1 hit song was He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother by the Hollies. No.10 was Something/Come Together by the Beatles. Goodness me, I feel like I'm in a time warp. But the really weird thing is I feel like I could step back to 1970 and see it just as I left it... everything and everyone just the same, as though nothing had changed.

Fish 'n' chips tonight. Gary

November 17, 2010. Justin's Blog posted a reminded about the importance of correct grammar such as capitalization: Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse, and helping your uncle jack off a horse. 

Justin also found this article about home-made soda bottle bombs that could be lurking in your yard. Be careful of discarded soda bottles.

I managed to scan the rest of the stuff from my scrapbook today except for a few newspaper clippings that got stuck to the photo album pages and are a bit too fragile to peel off. So I'll photograph those tomorrow using the camera macro setting. Then I think I'll have to resize some of the images which may be too large to copy directly to an HTML page. It's all a bit fiddly and frustrating but once it's done it's done forever.

The other day I was shirtless and bitching about the heat and humidity. Today, I'm wearing a track top and bitching about the cold. Is this winter, spring or summer? Take your pick. We've had all three this week.

Beeb time: Vice-President Joseph Biden has warned the US that failure to ratify a new nuclear arms control treaty with Russia will "endanger our national security". Mr Biden said without such approval, the US would be unable to inspect and track the Russian nuclear arsenal. The treaty aims to reduce the nuclear arsenal of the two countries. You know what worries me? Someone like Sarah Palin in control of the world's biggest nuclear arsenal. Prince William and girlfriend Kate Middleton are sent congratulations from around the world after announcing their engagement. On Tuesday, the couple, both 28, revealed they would marry next spring or summer after the prince proposed while on holiday in Kenya in October. And the Royal Dynasty lives on. The Beatles' back catalogue is finally available on iTunes, after years of negotiations. It will mean that for the first time consumers will be able to purchase some of the Fab Four's most popular songs via the store. "It's fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around," Sir Paul McCartney said. Ringo Starr added: "I'm particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes." "Bless their little mop tops," as Mick Jagger once said. Great white sharks in the Mediterranean may have first arrived from the seas around Australia 450,000 years ago, genetic studies have suggested. Researchers writing in Proceedings of the Royal Society B believe the arrival may have been simply a migratory "wrong turn" by a few pregnant females. The species - Carcharodon carcharias - would have remained in the Med because it returns to spawn where it was born. And in return we got Spaghetti Bolognaise, Pizza and Moussaka. A quietly-spoken soldier from a small town in Iowa is the first living recipient of America's highest military decoration since the Vietnam War. President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor to 25-year-old Staff Sgt Salvatore Giunta at the White House. He received the decoration for "acts of gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty" while serving in Afghanistan. Sgt Giunta has said he was just doing what any other soldier would have done. He served two tours in Iraq and had previously received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service. Typical hero reaction... I was just doing my job. No biggie. Heroes never admit to being heroes. US car giant General Motors says its offer of shares to the public could raise $18bn - $5bn more than first hoped. Pass. The first camera that can take a picture around corners has been developed by US scientists. The BBC link to the full story didn't work on that headline but I'd love to know what it's all about. 

Well, ladies and genitals, that's it for today. This scrapbook thing is taking up a stack of time. Gary

November 16, 2010. I'm buggered. This scanning business is soooo boring! But obviously the old pics and newspaper clippings from my scrap book have brought back a lotta mems. FL Josh wrote with a suggestion on how to compile the whole smash using a word processor. I don't have the wherewithall to convert documents to PDF so I'll settle for HTML using Netscape Composer (which is what I'm using now, and have for over 10 years).

Anyway, I managed to scan quite a bit this morning but there's still quite a bit to go. One scan was a payslip from Channel 10 for my work as a booth announcer on The Marriage Game (show) in 1969. Yes, folks, all of $26.10. No wonder I'm not rich! My first job in country radio paid the princely sum of $45.05 a week! The pics themselves are not all that interesting without the story behind them, so once I've finished scanning, I'll have quite a bit of writing to do. Not TOO much to bore the hella outta you, but enough to explain a few things.

I've often remarked that my life has been a bit like a dog's breakfast - no direction, no ambition, no planning, no goal. But looking back on it all, it's certainly been varied. Hehe. It may have been interesting but I definitely wouldn't recommend it. And I'm not sure that variety really is the spice of life. 

Speaking of lives, I watched Australian Story on telly last night. It was about Australia's richest man, Frank Lowy. He arrived in Oz as a Hungarian Jew after WWII almost penniless. He noticed that a lot of European settlers were moving to outer-Sydney suburbs, and not being serviced by the kind of food outlets they were used to. So he opened a continental delicatessen. Later, he established Westfield, which the Los Angeles Times described in 2006 as California's and the world's largest owner of shopping centers. Not bad for a kid who couldn't speak English when he arrived here, and who had survived the Nazi holocaust.

I think the main difference between a bloke like Lowy and a bloke like me is that he figures out what the public wants and gives it to them, whereas I figure out what I want and hope the public digs it. Oh well...

Tony the Painter has been here for 3 days already (well, half days) and hasn't done any painting yet. He's been cleaning all the surfaces with one of those pressure-hose thingies. Hehe. "I hate cleaning," I explained. "I hate doing anything that doesn't stay done!" He looked at me and said, "You mean like the pyramids?" "Exactly!"

Beeb time: Former detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp are in line for UK government compensation totalling in the millions of pounds. They are among about a dozen former prisoners who will be granted the out-of-court settlement. It is believed the government wanted to avoid a lengthy and costly court case which would also have put the British secret intelligence services under the spotlight. "Secret" being the operative word. Almost 15% of US households experienced a food shortage at some point in 2009, a government report has found. US authorities say that figure is the highest they have seen since they began collecting data in the 1990s, and a slight increase over 2008 levels. Single mothers are among the hardest hit: About 3.5 million said they were at times unable to put sufficient food on the table. Welcome to the First World. I wonder what the situation in Oz is. What kind of a lie is acceptable to keep your parents happy? In a Shanghai restaurant, a wedding is under way. It looks real. There is a cake, champagne and dozens of guests, but the whole thing is a sham. The groom is gay. The bride is a lesbian. My mother, a very religious person, once told my "girlfriend" to rape me. 

I just walked toward the kitchen as Sue emerged from the loo, dressed in a red frilly brassiere and a skimpy pair of black panties. She was alarmed at first, but I quickly waved my hands in a camp fashion and said, quick as a flash, "Oh! It's show time! Follies Bergere!" She laughed, fortunately. Given her mental condition, I'm surprised she got the joke. But what else could I say or do?

Remember Kirk Douglas, Hollywood superstar and legend, the all-American Spartacus he-man? He suffered a stroke and was reduced to a physical wreck who couldn't even talk. Here he is in a post-stroke interview with Michael Parkinson. His message is simple... a sense of humor, and a focus on others, is all you need to pull through.

Right now I'm focusing on garlic prawns. Gary

November 15, 2010. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell, I spent most of the day digitizing old bits and pieces from my scrap book. It's taking ages. There's stuff hidden inside other stuff that I completely forgot about, and some of it is over 40 years old. I figure the job is gonna take pretty much the whole week. Each piece needs to be titled and cropped and organized and whatever. But it's worth doing. Once all the pics and documents have been scanned, they'll need to be assembled into book form with descriptive text accompanying each image/page. The Jalbum thing I normally do with images won't work because each image has a separate story and needs to be treated independently. Also some A4 documents need to be full size (or close to it) in order for the text to be readable.

So, ladies and genitals, please bear with me until I finish this project. Gary

November 14, 2010. Australian talk-back radio host John Laws is coming back to the airwaves early next year after having retired 3 years ago. The old bugger just can't help himself. He's 75 now. He's joining the 2SM network with 90 stations around Oz. I don't think he's been with 2SM before. When I first knew him, he was with 2UE. Then he went to 2UW, 2GB and back to 2UE. He certainly is a colorful character.

Speaking of colorful characters, Ohio Jace wrote that Cody's fav band Just Jinjer is returning to SA for a concert or two. They've been in the US for the past few years making a name for themselves. They changed their name from Jinger to Jinjer because Americans were rhyming it with ringer instead of ginger. They've released 11 albums so far.

I watched an interview with Mick Jagger on Youchewb the other day, filmed back in the late 60s. I was beginning to like him and admire his charm when he raised his hands to his face and revealed DIRTY FINGERNAILS! - the kind people get if they don't wash. That was it for me. Next!

Jace says the Ohio gang is fine. Little Code has a girlfriend now. He sits with her at school during lunch, and even shares his with her on occasion. That reminds me of Cody giving Mark's "avo" sandwich the eye during school lunch one time, and bullying Mark into giving him a bite in exchange for a bite of Cody's pie. Hehe.

Beeb time: World leaders celebrate the release of Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi but urge the country's ruling military to free all political prisoners. Urge? Does that mean all talk and no action? France's state rail company SNCF expresses "profound sorrow" in the US for its role in transporting Jews to Nazi death camps in WWII. Just following orders, I suppose

Hmmm, not a lot going on at the Beeb at the mo. Not a lot going on here either, for that matter.

For the past few hours I've been amusing myself by taking a trip down memory lane, checking out radio stations I worked for ages ago. Sheesh, they've gotten worse. I thought I was corny but these new blokes are... well, maybe I shouldn't say. One breakfast announcer used to hang around the studios in the mid sixties aged 17 hoping for a job. He finally got one... 40 years later! He would have been there as a kid when I got my first job in radio back in '69 but I don't remember him. I was 24 at the time. I remember the ad in the Sydney Morning Herald which I spotted quite by accident. The scan has made it larger. It's actually the size of a postage stamp.

Anyway, I've been wondering for quite some time what the hell I'm gonna do with all my memorabilia - stuff in my scrap book. DIGITIZE IT! Yes, that's the way to go. Digitize all the pics and stuff and put an album together on Aussie Odyssey. It may not be of interest to most people but it's a good way to make the whole record compact and permanent and share it with others. I'll start work on that tomorrow.

Well, that'll do for today. Fried chicken marinated in honey and soy, and roast herbed spuds. Gary

November 13, 2010. Stan the Lawn Man joked about something yesterday in an attempt to bait me. When I didn't respond he said, "You never swear!" Well, no, I don't unless I'm annoyed. I just don't see the point of using expletives for no good reason. When I hear most drunks coming home from the pub at 2 or 3am on a Saturday, every second word is 'fuck' or 'cunt' or whatever, and I think to myself, why are they so angry? They must be very unhappy souls. Expletive: A word or phrase that does not contribute any meaning but is added only to fill out a sentence or a metrical line. Free Online Dictionary. Well, I'm all for short sentences. Concise, to the point, and free from embellishment, that's me. Fuck the expletives. :o)

It's mid afternoon now and I've been doing my sums. Unless Green Room takes off or I win Lotto, both of which are highly unlikely, the bottom line is I'll have all my debts paid off in a year with a bit left over. So then I did one of those online bank personal loan calculator thingies to see how much I could borrow for a motorhome (given my current income and expenses), what the repayments would be over 5 years, and what the interest would be. Hmmm. I wasn't impressed. So then I figured out how much I could save over a further 12 months if my situation remains as it is. Together with Bluey, I could have enough to buy a decent campervan. I'm not talking the Taj Mahal on wheels here but something that will do the job. More importantly, I would OWN it outright. No debts. So that's the plan. Two years unless I get lucky in the meantime.

Beeb time: The UN appeals for nearly $164m in aid to help fight a cholera outbreak in Haiti which has now claimed 724 lives. It's a small price. The leaders of 21 countries prepare to meet in the Japanese city of Yokohama for the 21st Apec summit on regional economic co-operation. I'm not sure I understand what this cooperation thing all about. Does it mean reduced competition? Survival of the mediocre? Rolls-Royce has said that a mid-air engine explosion during an A380 super-jumbo jet flight to Australia resulted from a single faulty component. Rolls said it was correcting the fault, which is specific to its Trent 900 engine model and is not an issue on other engines. A single faulty component? Is that all it takes? A mountain lion found it was no match for a Jack Russell terrier which trapped it up a tree on a farm in the US state of South Dakota. The dog's owner Mr Strenge discovered the 150lb (68kg) male lion, also known as a cougar, clinging to the top of a tree with 17lb (8kg) terrier Jack at the bottom. "He trees cats all the time," Mr Strenge told The Argus Leader newspaper. "I suppose he figured it was just a cat." Hehe. No fear. As an island continent, Australia is quite literally defined by its 37,000km of coast. The statistics alone can explain why Australians are so obsessed with getting some sand between their toes – around 85% of the population live within an hour’s drive of one of the 11,000 plus beaches – but the beach’s significance in Australian life goes far deeper than convenience. An interesting article you can read here

A short Waffle today, I'm afraid. Gary

November 12, 2010. Well, Tony the Painter arrived this morning and will be here for a week. He's painting the whole exterior of the house. It's a brick house so it's a fiddly job - window frames, eaves, guttering, etc. Another painter quoted on the job and said he didn't want it - too fiddly - so he gave the estate agent a "silly" quote. Tony's pretty easy going though. He's been here a few times before. Loves a chat. He arrived in Oz from England aged 13 and has just recently been naturalized as a true blue Aussie. He's probably 50+ now and still has his Pommy accent. At the mo, he's out there spraying redback spiders with bleach before he begins painting. You don't wanna get bitten by one of those little buggers otherwise it's off to the hospital for antivenom. I hope he included all that bug removal in his quote hehe.

And now Stan the Lawn Man has arrived to squirt all my weeds. The recent rains have caused them to go ballistic, and they're taking over the joint.

ZYX wrote in response to my bit yesterday about losing a house now worth $700K: A fool and his money? Best laid plans? How about someone who knows his priorities? How about someone who knows that sharing and caring are the true values in life? How about Gary Kelly?

Oh dear, Gerry... that's very sweet of you but I think it's going a bit far. Now you've embarrassed me. Actually, it's an interesting point. I don't share and care, as you put it, because I choose to. It's because that's my nature. It's impossible for me to be anyone other than who I am. Remember that time Cody missed a kick in a swimming race against Mark so that Mark would win? Mark blew his top, and so did the coach. But that's the way Cody was, always putting others first. In fact, Cody won an award for being "a most caring person" at his school's Valedictory Service. Mind you, he wasn't too caring when he first met Mark and flattened him in the school quad, hehe. But that was the exception rather than the rule, and I imagine Mark still laughs about that even now, all these years later.

Here we are in mid November already. Some bloke emailed me yesterday and said "November already! What happened to 2010?" So I replied and told him it was a conspiracy; that it's really only February, and that it's a trick to make us all feel old. Anyway, I thought it was time to do another calendar for 2011, so I chose a bunch of pics I've called Kelly's Allsorts. I've ordered a few copies including one for Averil and one for the doc. If you'd like one for yourself or a friend, go ahead. The calendars are printed on high quality art paper and look rather impressive on the wall.

Beeb time: Militants attempt to storm an anti-terrorist police headquarters in Pakistan's largest city and then detonate a suicide truck bomb, leaving 20 dead and at least 100 injured. Maybe we need a few suicide bombers on our side to even the score. Yoohoo! Surprise! Australia's High Court has backed migrant claims of unfair laws, in a ruling that has far-reaching implications for asylum policy. Two Sri Lankan men held offshore on Christmas Island had argued that laws barring them from appeal in Australian courts were unfair. The court ruled unanimously that they had been denied "procedural fairness". I'm by no means an expert on these matters but the last thing I want is a flood of refugees that just wanders in and says thank you very much. A self-published guide giving advice to paedophiles that was on sale through online retailer Amazon is stirring up controversy, with some threatening to boycott the website. The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct has now been removed from sale. I should think so! A vase found in a house-clearance in London has been sold for £43m, thought to be a record for any Chinese artwork. The 18th Century Qianlong-dynasty porcelain piece had been estimated to fetch up to £1.2m for the brother and sister who inherited it. "The sister had to go out of the room and have a breath of fresh air," said Helen Porter from Bainbridges auction house in Ruislip, north-west London. If it were me, I'd need something a bit stronger than a breath of fresh air! I wonder what the vase sold for when it was first made. Renault can name a new car model Zoe, a French judge has ruled - throwing out a case brought by the parents of two girls called Zoe Renault. The families had argued that their children - and to a lesser extent, other children who have the first name Zoe - could face a lifetime of mockery for sharing the name of a car. How ludicrous. Most US troops think allowing gays to serve openly in the military would have a minimal effect on US war efforts, the Washington Post newspaper reports. Some 70% of troops surveyed said the effects of repealing the ban would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, the paper said, citing a Pentagon report. Imagine the military having a "don't ask, don't tell" policy in relation to blacks back in the bad old days. The world's two leading movie industries have signed a pact to strengthen production, distribution and commercial ties. The popular American and Indian film industries - Hollywood and Bollywood - produce the majority of commercial cinema in the world. The pact also aims at co-productions and encouraging Indian filmmakers to shoot in the United States. This gives a whole new meaning to "cowboys and Indians". Australian airline Qantas has said it will continue to keep its fleet of six Airbus A380 planes grounded while further safety checks are carried out. Last week the engine on a Qantas A380 exploded in mid-air, forcing an emergency landing in Singapore. Qantas had initially expected the checks to be completed by Thursday. Despite that, Qantas plans to go ahead with delivery of 6 new Airbuses. 

But back to Mark for a mo. He must have a thousand stories to tell about his adventures sailing yachts around the world, and visiting various countries. Wouldn't you love the opportunity to dine and chat with him for a few hours? I suppose I'll meet people like that on the Odyssey from time to time, people who have done all kinds of interesting things during their lives. Hmmm. Another reason to get my act together. Hehe. Not that I need reminding.

Remember Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo? It was a dreadful show, corny as hell, but despite that became an international hit. Anyway, some years ago my favorite comedy show, Fast Forward, did some send ups, not only of Skippy but everything else that came their way.

Here's one sending up A Current Affair.

And here's one with those cheeky damn Aussies sending up CNN. Hehe.

And you've gotta watch this send up of a couple of Qantas stewards.

Okay, I gotta get serious now and attend to my kitchen duties. Gary

November 11, 2010. Remembrance Day. At 11am on the 11th of the 11th, we pause for a minute's silence to remember the fallen in WWI, as well as those of other wars.

Here's what I wrote Oregon Richie this morning: The owner of my old house in Glebe phoned after dinner last night and we chatted for an hour and a half. She had a problem typing the AO addy at first but we fixed that, and then she was astonished to see the pics and learn a few things about the old homestead. She's made a few changes to the internals. She also mentioned some of the neighbors who are still there. The couple just up the road, with whom I was quite friendly, now have a son aged 18 (who didn't exist back then), and my immediate neighbor on the other side is still there. So is the dickhead across the road who is apparently getting worse.

I was shocked to learn that a conservative bank valuation puts the value of the house now at $700K. Ouch, that hurts. How to lose almost 3/4 of a million bucks by getting involved with a bunch of crooks. And to think I paid $31K in 1978. Yes, that really does hurt.

She wants me to visit Sydney and do the Prodigal Son trick but I'm not sure about that. Maybe on the AO but not now. Ya know, the images of that joint and living there are still razor sharp in my mind, and it's like I left yesterday. She's planning to add another storey to the rear section (like the neighbor has) and is thinking of spending a bit over $200K. "Guess how much my renovations cost back in the early 80s," I asked. "$12K."

Yes, I'm still in shock at hearing how much that little house is worth now, and even more pissed off at having lost it. But it's good that the new owner is thrilled with the old pics and the information I provided. And guess what she told me? "Oh, yes, they (the neighbors) still talk about you all the time!" Sheesh. I must've made an impression. Okay, I made an impression. So if I keep making impressions why the bloody hell aren't I rich? Maybe it has something to do with a fool and his money, or the best laid plans of mice and men.

"Evening of a hot day started the little wind to moving among the leaves. The shade climbed up the hills toward the top. On the sand banks the rabbits sat as quietly as little gray, sculptured stones." John Steinbeck was a great writer, ya know.

Why doesn't life have an equivalent to Navman? Yes, I know... the future hasn't been mapped yet. Pity. Or is it? Let's not get into that.

Pay day/bills day again, but I managed to put a bit aside. If I stick to my current fiscal routine, I should be debt free in 12 months. Bluey is fine now, and needs only regular maintenance (touch wood). Soooooooooooooo, go figure. I think there might be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, folks.

Beeb time: Tests on a failed parcel bomb sent on a US-bound cargo flight last month show it could have been designed to detonate over the eastern US, say UK police. It was removed and "disrupted" by explosives officers about three hours before it was timed to detonate, British police said in a statement. "If the device had activated it would have been at 1030hrs BST (0930 GMT) on Friday 29 October 2010." Is it politics? Is it religion? Or is it human nature? I think it's human nature because there would be no politics or religion without it. President Barack Obama has pleaded with world leaders to put aside their differences and work together for global economic recovery. There are fears the Seoul summit could descend into a row between the US and China about so-called "currency wars" and trade imbalances. See what I mean about human nature? If you don't understand what "currency wars" means, click here. There have been violent scenes as tens of thousands of people protested against plans to treble tuition fees and cut university funding in England. Not surprising, but also not unexpected when a party that promises budget cuts gets into power. A panel set up to generate plans for trimming the US budget deficit has proposed a series of tough measures including cutting Social Security rises and raising the retirement age to 69. The commission, set up by President Barack Obama, set out $200bn (£125bn) in potential cuts aimed at reducing the $1.3tr US budget deficit. The draft report suggests slashing public health and defence spending. That's the unfortunate reality of slashing deficits. Boeing has halted test flights of its long-delayed 787 Dreamliner after a fire forced an emergency landing in Texas on Tuesday. Boeing said it was the most serious incident since it began test flights of the jet last year. The Dreamliner is already nearly three years behind schedule. I know the feeling. Graphic pictures depicting the possible consequences of tobacco use are soon to adorn boxes of cigarettes sold in the US, officials have said. The pictures- which include a corpse on a morgue slab and a man with a tracheotomy hole in his neck - are intended to scare people off smoking. That's been the case in Oz for years but I don't think it's having much effect, particularly on young smokers. US automotive giant General Motors posts a big third quarter profit, fuelled by a rise in sales both in the US and overseas. "So hello again Miss American pie..."

Yes, slashing deficits. I've been slashing my own for quite a while now. There are only two ways to do it... either make more money or spend less.

Spending less is an interesting philosophy. You can spend $1000 on a month's worth of restaurants and booze and tickets to the opera, or you can spend it on a chest of drawers that will last you a lifetime and actually increase in value. Yes?

Well, speaking of news, you won't believe this. ABC TV news is actually in COLOR! Yes, folks, it's 1975, the war in Vietnam is still raging, Gerald Ford is the president of the USA and I'm the breakfast announcer on a radio station in Sydney. Who says yesterday's news is old hat?

Din dins time again. T-bones for THEM and a gourmet beef and burgundy pie for me. Gary

November 10, 2010. Okay, here's the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears like you've never heard or seen it before... complete with sound effects, narrated by Craig Ferguson.

Here's another one from Craig that discusses movies, concerts and aquatic creatures.

Ferguson is one of the best stand-ups I've ever seen. Totally relaxed, very confident, and has wonderful rapport with his audience. His routine is more like a chat than a performance. He must have an abundance of courage to be so confident standing before a bunch of total strangers. I'd not heard of Ferguson until Oregon Richie told me about him.

On a couple of occasions I've been to Taree Railway Station, once to check out an old Motor Rail an a few times to see vintage steam locos. There's a 'refreshments room' there that is no longer in use. Refreshments rooms were a normal part of railway stations before buffet cars were included on trains to serve meals and drinks en route. Anyway, here's a selection of photos from the early days of refreshments rooms at various country railway stations. You never know what little gems you'll find on Youchewb, yeah?

I do vaguely remember the refreshments room at Central Station as a kid, and the milk bar where you could buy a milk shake for 4 pence (5 cents). Central Station was/is a most impressive place, especially to a kid... kinda like the international airport of today, with lots of people dressed in their finery and carrying luggage. Here's an exterior shot of Central.

Back in the early days of Oz telly, the TV stations closed down at about midnight, and resumed transmission next day, usually after midday. There was an American singer who was a Tonight Show host in Sydney. His name was Tommy Leonetti and he became quite popular. He wrote a song about Sydney and I remember thinking, "A song about Sydney? Bloody hell, this is the land of Waltzing Matilda! No one writes a song about Oz cities or towns! Cities like New York or London have songs written about them, not Sydney!" But he wrote and sang it anyway, and used it to close to his show. I've not seen the Kangaroo closing of the station at midnight in donkey's years, so that was cool.

Yes, when I was a kid Sydney was like a big country town. The pubs closed at 6pm along with most everything else. It was called the 6 o'clock swill. That was designed to send the drinkers back home to mom and the kids in time for dinner. My dad ALWAYS arrived home from work at 6pm in time for dinner. My job was to open the driveway gates. Guess what the situation is here in Taree? The driveway gates are NEVER closed.

Enough reminiscing. Beeb time: Haitian officials confirm scores of people are being treated for cholera in the capital Port-au-Prince, amid warnings it will take years to eradicate the disease from the country. Such misery I've not encountered, and hope I never do. Three firms involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill lacked a safety culture and made serious mistakes ahead of the catastrophe, a key inquiry says. Well, surprise, surprise. Pentagon officials say they cannot explain reports of a missile launch off the coast of California on Monday. A CBS News helicopter captured what looked like the vapour trail of a missile rising from the water about 35 miles (56 km) offshore. "Right now all indications are that it was not [defence department] involvement in this launch" Pentagon spokesman Col David Lapan said. The Pentagon does not consider the missile a threat. Not this one, anyway. President Barack Obama has admitted the US must do "a lot more work" to improve ties with the Muslim world, as he continues an Asian tour in Indonesia. Mr Obama said his efforts had been "sustained" but accepted "mistrust" remained in the Islamic world. On both sides, baby. As President George W Bush's memoir hits US bookstores, it seems that the American public is now viewing his presidency in a more favourable light. The BBC's Katie Connolly explores why Americans look so fondly on their former leaders. Read the full article here. Burma's main military-backed political party says it won about 80% of votes in the first election in 20 years. What a joke. Tata Motors has seen its profits soar as demand for its Jaguar and Land Rover brands improved. India's biggest vehicle maker made 22.2bn rupees ($505m; £310m) in the three months to the end of September - an almost 100-fold increase on a year earlier. Sales in India climbed by 35% in the quarter, but it experienced even bigger growth in China and Russia. How the "wheel" turns

Did I say enough reminiscing? I just phoned Averil and we chatted about the old days in Sydney, etc. So much has changed in our lifetimes. *Sigh* I remember my mother saying she had to clean up all the dead Indians at the back of the TV after every Western movie. 

BUT the past is the past, and now it's time to consider the future. I need a motorhome, that's what I need. And that's what I'm focusing on. Nothing too flash or expensive, just something adequate. Kitchen, shower/loo, bed, dinette, awning. That'll do. I visualize the morning I wake up and look out the window to see Uluru. Imagine that! Uluru in my backyard! Gary

November 9, 2010. TX Greg wrote in response to the pics of my old house in Sydney: Awesome pic with you and your dog! Almost looks like the the dog is saying "Pour me a double, bartender" :) 

My letter to the current owner should arrive today so it'll be interesting to hear what he/she has to say. The last thing they'll be expecting is a blast from the past. I suppose the joint is worth a fortune now. The great thing about that house is its location. I used to walk to the Sydney CBD or ride my bicycle down to the harbor (with Kelly riding in the wire basket at the back). All the inner city suburbs, which used to be slum areas, are now all the rage - Glebe, Redfern, Woolloomooloo, Pyrmont, Kings Cross, Potts Point, Ultimo, Forest Lodge, Camperdown, Newtown, Erskineville, St Peters, etc. I moved in just before the area became "desirable" and yuppyfied. In fact, a friend of mine bought a house at St Peters. We shared a flat in Ashfield at the time (1977) and that inspired me to think about buying a house too. I had no furniture and hardly any money. I furnished the joint with bean bags and a used B&W telly that cost me $20. Upstairs I had a used mattress on the floor and a little wardrobe from a second-hand store. The things you do when you're young and bullet proof.

Last night I watched an interview with a bloke who passionately believed that hundreds of Aussie dead from WWI in France, whose remains were unaccounted for, could be found behind the German lines at the time. During the interview, they showed historic footage of battles, with foot soldiers running headlong into enemy fire and being mowed down like flies. These were young men, real young men, not Hollywood stuntmen. One would fall and his mates would gain a few more yards until they too fell. It was just awful - just so pitiful. Anyway, the bloke was right and the remains were found. The French woman who owns the land where the soldiers were buried in mass graves by the Germans donated the area as a permanent memorial to the fallen Aussies. "It's not just their bodies that are here, it's also their blood." Most of the bodies were identified using DNA from relatives and re-buried with proper graves and crosses. War is just so damn fucked.

I've heard about baboons taking over neighborhoods in South Africa but not in Oz.

Beeb time: US President Barack Obama backs India's bid to be granted permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. As Barack said, India is the world's largest democracy. The death toll from the Haitian cholera epidemic reaches 544, the health ministry says, as fears mount that the disease is spreading to the capital. I wonder what's worse; the disease or the fears. An inquiry ordered by US President Barack Obama into the BP oil spill has given support to many of the company's own findings, challenging claims BP sacrificed safety to save money. BP has been widely criticised since the 20 April blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. One would hope that a company like BP is not being run by fools. Roman Catholic monks in Switzerland have placed a job advert in a newspaper as part of a recruitment drive. The Capuchin order says it is looking for professional single men like bankers or lawyers aged 22 to 35 to join their dwindling ranks. "We offer you no pay, but spirituality and prayer, contemplation, an egalitarian lifestyle, free of personal material riches and the common model of a couple relationship," it says. Sounds irresistible. A radical US-born Yemeni Islamist cleric has called for the killing of Americans in a new video message posted on radical web sites. Anwar al-Awlaki said no permission was needed to kill Americans as they are from the "party of devils". I'll leave it to you to decide whether he's the full quid or not. Rolls-Royce says it has "made progress" in its investigation into the cause of engine problems on the Airbus A380. The firm did not say whether its engineers had identified what caused one of its engines to break apart on a Qantas flight last Thursday. But the British firm said the problem was specific to the type of engine being used on the plane. There ya go... criticize Qantas and then back pedal when it turns out to be a British problem. The Large Hadron Collider has successfully created a "mini-Big Bang" by smashing together lead ions instead of protons. The scientists working at the enormous machine on Franco-Swiss border achieved the unique conditions on 7 November. The experiment created temperatures a million times hotter than the centre of the Sun. But for the next four weeks, scientists at the LHC will concentrate on analysing the data obtained from the lead ion collisions. This way, they hope to learn more about the plasma the Universe was made of a millionth of a second after the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago. It's all explained in the Bible, mate. Don't you guys read?

I've tried to take an interesting pic of my new pocket watch a couple of times without success but I tried again today and it turned out okay. Then I posted it on Red Bubble and someone favorited it. So there ya go. I don't think it's all that good but it's not bad. I'm ambidextrous ya know, so I held the watch in my left hand, operated the camera with my right hand, and made a cuppa tea at the same time. How's that for clever?

We're having chickeny thingies tonight, with little potato thingies. The chickeny thingies are called Crackles, lightly marinated chicken breast portions in a crispy tempura coating. And the potato thingies are called Pommes Noisettes just to make them sound flasher than your ordinary run-of-the-mill spud balls made from mash. But it all sounds pretty cool, so I'll look forward to that.

So that's it for Chewsdee. Gary

November 8, 2010. Okies, I scanned all the old pics of my little house in Glebe and posted them on AO, together with a bit of history. Now I'll write a letter to the current owner and let them know where to find it on the web. It's taken longer than it should have cos I made a boo boo and couldn't figure out what the boo boo was for a while. Grrrr.

Okies, back from running errands for Averil and it's 3:30pm already. Time to do a quick Beeb: Western powers dismiss Burma's first general election for two decades, describing it as neither free nor fair. Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Australian airline Qantas says it is keeping its Airbus A380s grounded for further checks after finding "anomalies" with three engines. I think ground level is a perfectly reasonable place to find anomalies. Greece's ruling Socialists and opposition conservatives are tied in crucial regional elections, according to partial results. The birthplace of democracy. Pope Benedict XVI has consecrated Antoni Gaudi's unfinished church, the Sagrada Familia, as a basilica in the Spanish city of Barcelona. Gaudi's greatest work has been under construction for more than a century, and will not be finished before 2026. By which time I'll also be finished. I'm not a church person but I do admire the brilliance of the architecture and design of those incredibly beautiful structures. Edison Pena, the Chilean miner who famously jogged underground while awaiting rescue, has completed the New York City Marathon. He came in walking on a bad knee to finish the 26.2-mile (42.4-km) route in less than six hours. Speaking just before the race, he said he wanted to inspire others, especially children, to run. Is he kidding? That's all kids do! Run! A gigantic statue of Jesus - claimed to be the world's tallest - has been erected in a western Polish town. Christ the King in Swiebodzin rises 33m (108ft) - one metre for every year that Jesus lived, said Sylwester Zawadzki, the priest who created the statue. The bigger it is and the more impressive it is the more likely people will believe it. Yes? The Queen is set to have an official presence on Facebook when a British Monarchy page launches on the internet-based social networking site. Buckingham Palace says it is not a personal profile page, but users can "like" the service and receive updates on their news feed. The Queen has reportedly embraced the web and sends e-mails. A British Monarchy Twitter feed is also available. The Facebook page is due to go live from Monday morning. Betty embraces the 21st century, and why not? I think it's a great idea.

I should mention that last night I watched Hillary Clinton being interviewed by a TV audience of young Aussie students in Melbourne, and I was most impressed with the way Hillary handled the situation with intelligence and good humor. She's a smart lady. At one stage she mentioned the GLBT issue and had to be asked by the interview moderator to explain herself. Americans and their penchant for acronyms! "That's American shorthand for Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transexual issues," she explained. And then went on to talk about DADT. Sheesh. Oregon Richie has been emailing me for nine years using acronyms and I still don't have a clue what he's talking about.

As I approached the newsagent's counter to pay Averil's paper bill a youngish couple approached at the same time, and then gestured me to take my turn before them. "Why?" I asked. "Because I'm old?" I heard someone say "yes" as the shop owner laughed. After I paid the bill, I turned to leave and the male half of the couple said, "You're already there, mate. We're still on the way." So I wished him good luck. However, I was a tad peeved. I mean I'm not THAT bloody old.

So that's it for Mondee. I was gonna do scrambled eggs with cheese, tomato and chips for Sue tonight but Lindsay decided he wanted the same thing. Okay, so I'll do it for three. I'm easy. Gary

November 7, 2010. Here's a post by a mom who defends her 5 y/o's choice of Halloween costume against bigoted and nasty comments from other mothers at school. It's a very stirring piece.

I started my new book this morning after arriving at a conclusion about what it should be and how I should write it. The working title is PONDERINGS OF A GRUMPY OLD FART. I thought about writing a memoir but that's no good. Publishers don't like memoirs unless they're about famous people. So my book is a "sort of" memoir but mainly a collection of ponderings and recollections that will hopefully inform, entertain and perhaps even enlighten. And yes, some of the content will be controversial. I don't think I'm capable of writing anything that isn't.

Ah ha! At last I found a Youchewb clip of the business I was in... advertising copy and voice overs. The guy interviewed who says he was a high school mimick is Keith Scott, a bloke I used quite a lot in my commercials. I did voice overs as well but I was much happier writing scripts and producing the recording sessions. Besides, guys like Keith were far better at voices than I was. I remember when he was criticized for being the "pretend" Orson Welles but, hey, like Liberace he cried all the way to the bank. Those were the days.

Of course, now you have 20-somethings mimicking the gravely voices of 50-somethings who have earned their tonsils from a lifetime of drinking scotch and smoking cigars. 20-somethings just don't cut it in my book. It ain't real. Mind you, there's not a lot about the advertising industry that IS real.

50 years ago, Morris Minis were made like this. Now they're made like this with lots of robots.

Beeb time: The people of Burma are voting in the country's first national elections for 20 years. Ruling generals say the polls will mark a transition to democratic civilian rule, but critics say they are a sham. The main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is boycotting the vote. I don't blame her. US President Barack Obama has stressed Washington's support for Mexico's ongoing battle against crime cartels, after a major drug kingpin was shot dead. Good riddance. Pope Benedict XVI begins a visit to Spain, where the traditionally powerful Catholic Church feels under pressure from secular values. When religion gets its way, it rules countries in the same way it rules its congregation. Don't question authority. The Australian airline Qantas has said it hopes to have its grounded fleet of A380s flying again within days. Urgent checks are being carried out following an engine failure and CEO Alan Joyce said he was optimistic the plane would pass the tests. Mr Joyce was speaking at the 90th anniversary celebrations for the airline which have been overshadowed by two separate engine problems. Rolls-Royce, the British firm which makes the engines for the Qantas planes, saw its share price fall by nearly 5% on Friday. That kinda falling is okay. It's the other kinda falling that worries me. Militant group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has said it sent two parcel bombs on cargo planes bound for the US last week, in messages on Islamist websites. The group also said it was responsible for bringing down an American cargo plane in Dubai in September. When people can actually claim responsibility for such crimes, and be proud of them, you need no further evidence of their twisted mentality. More than 220 Iraqi civilians were subjected to "systemic abuse", including torture, by British soldiers and interrogators in Iraq, the High Court was told on Friday. Solicitors acting on behalf of the Iraqis submitted video evidence to support their claims. They are appealing for a judical review of a refusal by Defence Secretary Liam Fox to order a wide-ranging public inquiry into allegations that abuse was widespread. On the other hand, the "goodies" ain't so innocent either

Oregon Richie just sent this link to a Qantas commercial, the most expensive ever made. The blurb says: Australia Home II (1999/Australia) : Shortly before the 1999 Superbowl, and during other occasions, people worldwide have seen a very special Qantas commercial featuring the Australian Girls Choir and National Boys Choir. The same song, interpreted differently, trimmed down to 2 minutes, and filmed in many many corners of the globe, such as the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, the Great Wall of China, the Kings Canyon in Australia, etc. The most expensive Australian ad ever made (USD 3 million) and one of the most expensive worldwide, this is truly impressive. The result is one of my all-time favorite commercials. Yes, it does bring a tear to my eye, but that was the purpose of the ad. It's based on a song written and sung by Aussie song writer Peter Allen who was probably feeling homesick when he was living in New York. It became one of Australia's two unofficial anthems. The other is Waltzing Matilda. The official anthem is Advance Australia Fair. God Save Betty used to get a run but not so much these days.

Rain? What rain? Oh, that rain. Well, today has been lovely. Blue sky and lots of sunshine. And it's about bloody time! Gary

November 6, 2010. If you'd like to check out the latest favorites I've added to my Red Bubble page, go for it. There are some really stunning images there. Terry Everson just posted a pic of a street in a country town with 4 pubs side by side. Hehe. My kinda town!

And while we're talking photography, there's a group of people interested in kite aerial photography - attaching a camera to a kite and taking pics from a few hundred meters "up there". The results are amazing. Kite aerial photography has been around for over a century but techniques (as well as kites) have improved. Check out the video here. Scroll down the page until you see the Youchewb vid image and click the play arrow. I'm not a big fan of heights so attaching a camera to a kite sounds pretty cool to me.

Beeb time: At least 55 people have been killed and nearly 100 injured in a suicide bomb attack on a mosque in north-west Pakistan, local officials say. The attack took place during prayers in the Darra Adam Khel area, near Pakistan's tribal regions. The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for such attacks in the past and have been particularly active in recent years in and around Peshawar. Lunatics. What else can you say? A Qantas airline jumbo jet has made an emergency landing in Singapore because of an engine problem. The Boeing 747-400 turned back shortly after take-off from Changi Airport, airline officials said. One of the passengers, Australian Ranjan Sivagnanasundaram, told Reuters news agency: "Around 20 minutes into the flight we heard a loud bang and the pilot asked the passengers to put our heads into brace position. It was a very big shock to us, especially after what happened yesterday." It would take about 20 minutes for that bloke to spell his name. Militant group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has said it sent two parcel bombs on cargo planes bound for the US last week, in messages on Islamist websites. The group also said it was responsible for bringing down an American cargo plane in Dubai in September. Yemen-based AQAP vowed to continue to target the US and its allies. In that case, you'll pardon us for continuing to target you. Germany, China, Brazil and South Africa have criticised US plans to pump $600bn (£373bn) into the US economy. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the US policy was "clueless" and would create "extra problems for the world". The US Federal Reserve could weaken the US dollar and hurt exports to America. South Africa's finance minister Pravin Gordhan warned that "developing countries, including South Africa, would bear the brunt of the US decision to open its flood gates without due consideration of the consequences for other nations." The US policy "undermines the spirit of multilateral co-operation that G20 leaders have fought so hard to maintain during the current crisis," he said. Don't look at me. I don't understand all this stuff. But I do know that the Aussie dollar is now above parity with the USD. Australia went down to their seventh successive defeat as Sri Lanka celebrated their first series win down under with a 29-run victory in Sydney. Successive cricket losses to Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, and now two Qantas emergencies. What next? A Spanish piglet has been spared the butcher after it was adopted by a dog. The Iberic piglet was due to be sold for Christmas dinner but was turned down by the butcher in Caceres, in Spain's Extramadura region, for being too small. Now the piglet is being looked after by the family Dog, Diana, who has welcomed it as part of her litter. Finally! A bit of good news

I checked Youchewb for video of Glebe, the inner Sydney suburb where I lived and owned a small house. So I clicked on a link to Glebe Markets, which is an annual fair that closes the main drag for a day. But the vid was about a lawyer who operated a stall there, providing free legal advice to anyone who turned up at his tent. Pretty interesting stuff, and something you don't expect from a lawyer. But then Glebe is like that.

Here's an interesting video of the history of Sydney's street names, going back to the early days of European settlement. Incidentally, the little house I owned in Glebe was built in 1860, the year that Abraham Lincoln was selected as the US Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. In that same year, Charles Dickens published his first installment of Great Expectations. 150 years later, I wrote this page using a Toshiba laptop.

150 years is a mere drop in the bucket. I watched a story the other night on telly about a bunch of archeologists in Oz who found a stone axe head, obviously sharpened for a specific purpose. They dated the object expecting something like maybe 15 or 20 thousand years but it's between 35 and 40. Now that's what you call old. The site is a large cave supported by several columns that almost look man made. But it's a natural formation. The cave was used by a tribe or group of families for shelter, and the ceilings and walls are still decorated by their etchings and paintings. Archeologists expect to find many more artifacts buried deeper under the surface that are even older. That makes Jesus look like he was here yesterday. It makes the pyramids look almost brand new. It makes the 'ancient' in ancient Rome and Greece seem irrelevant.

Oh, and the sausages last night? Lovely. The trick is to smother them with onions and lots of gravy so that you don't see the little flecks of gristle and fat in the meat. I don't think most people worry about that kinda thing but I do. I see a speck of something and think: WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS THAT? The mash was lovely too. I boil potato and pumpkin together which makes a really smooth and creamy mash without having to add milk or butter. The pumpkin has enough moisture to soften the coarser spuds. And it sweetens it too. Mmmm.

I've promised myself for ages to find the old pics of my house in Glebe and digitize them, so that's what I just did. I'll post them on AO and write a note to my old address to let the new owners know where to find them. They're almost 30 years old and show the house as it was when I moved in - virtually unchanged from the original built in 1860, with the old outhouse and corrugated iron laundry out back. I knocked all that down in the early 80s and built a new kitchen, bathroom and laundry, erected new fences and paved the courtyard. They'll be surprised to see those pics for sure!

Speaking of kitchens, it's that time again. Gary

November 5, 2010. It seems I'm guilty of hijacking Justin's blog, making off-topic comments that are irrelevant and being generally disagreeable. Oh, well, can't win 'em all.

However, there's no fixing the weather here. Wet, wet, wet. And it's not easy to be fulla beans and jolly when it's gray and dreary outside. I'll see what I can do to resist the temptation to complain. After all, somewhere the sun is shining and faces are smiling... BUT NOT HERE!

I just checked Youchewb to see if there's anything inspiring there and saw a link to a vid about how sausages are made. Hmmm. I'm not sure I wanna know. For one thing, we're having sausages tonight. There are several slang terms for sausages in Oz, one of which is 'mystery bags', and I'm inclined to think certain things deserve to remain a mystery. Other slang terms include bangers, snarlers and snags.

My Red Bubble mate Terry just posted another of his pics of the Flinders Ranges in South Oz. Looks like a great spot to me, way out there in the middle of nowhere. Just pull off the road, grab a beer from the Esky and soak up the atmosphere for a while. Terry is a carer for his dear old mom, but manages to get away for a few weeks now and then. He's been traveling Oz most of his life. His first adventure was with his younger bro in a Hillman Imp back in the 60s. And here's me in my grumpy old age saying I ain't goin' nowhere without my porta potty.

Beeb time: Heavy rain starts to fall in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince as a powerful storm threatens thousands of vulnerable earthquake survivors. Earthquakes, cholera and now storms. What next? US President Barack Obama has asked Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders to come to a meeting at the White House. I remember Obama rebuking John McCain one time by saying, "You didn't win the election. We did." Different tune now, though. The Irish government announces it will make budget cuts worth 6bn euros next year in order to reduce its record deficit. That's gonna hurt, but you can't spend what you ain't got. The Australian airline Qantas has grounded its six-strong fleet of Airbus A380 airliners after one of the superjumbos made an emergency landing. Qantas flight QF32 experienced engine trouble shortly after taking off from Singapore on its way to Sydney. One of the engines exploded with a bang, a passenger told the BBC, and debris was found on an island below. There's been some criticism of Qantas lately for sending its planes offshore for cheaper maintenance. But those engines were last checked by Rolls Royce itself. Anyway, I still don't like flying. One of the two parcel bombs intercepted last week after being sent from Yemen was defused 17 minutes before it was due to explode, France's Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux has said. "There were parcel bombs from Yemen heading for the United States, and I can tell you, for example, that one of these parcels was disarmed 17 minutes before the planned explosion," he said. Scary stuff. An ongoing computer attack has knocked Burma off the internet, just days ahead of its first election in 20 years. The attack, which is believed to have started on 25 October, comes ahead of closely-watched national elections on 7 November. International observers and foreign journalists are not being allowed into the country to cover the polls. It will raise suspicions that Burma's military authorities could be trying to restrict the flow of information over the election period. Two Burmese girls were living next door to me in the mid 90s. They were very nice, cooking meals for me, etc. I didn't realize what their motive was until I found out they wanted an Australian husband so they could stay in this country. Hehe. Sneaky buggers. Applying a tiny electrical current to the brain could make you better at learning maths, according to Oxford University scientists. They found that targeting a part of the brain called the parietal lobe improved the ability of volunteers to solve numerical problems. There ya go... FL Josh has more electricity than I do. He's into all that calculus stuff. New Zealand and the US have signed a strategic co-operation document to restore relations after a 25-year row. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully signed the Wellington Declaration at parliament. New Zealand has banned nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered ships visiting its ports since 1985. The US traditionally refuses to say whether its ships are nuclear-powered or not, so New Zealand has refused entry to all of them. The mouse that roared. US President Barack Obama has spoken of the "shellacking" his Democrats received at the hands of voters. So where does the word come from? Read the explanation here. Management speak - don't you just hate it? Emphatically yes, judging by readers' responses to writer Lucy Kellaway's campaign against office jargon. Here, we list 50 of the best worst examples

One of the jargon terminologies I find most irritating is "going forward" which some politicians here in Oz favor, including our red-haired PM. Where else are we supposed to be going? Another is the way doctors refer to an operation as a 'procedure'.

Still raining, and tomorrow will be the same. Bleh. But Sunday looks okay as well as the rest of the week. Meanwhile, I better feed the troops. Bangers and mash with onions and gravy. Gary

November 4, 2010. I watched an interview with Robin Williams last night. He's in Oz for a series of stand-up gigs called "Weapons of Self Destruction". Jeez, talk about a brilliant mimick. I've seen various actors and impersonators trying to do a genuine Aussie accent before, and failing, but Williams has got it nailed. He had the interviewer giggling his tits off. He's had a tough battle with alcohol and cocain throughout his life, and he's certainly not the first comic genius to have been there. Read the transcript here. It's not as good as the video but I'm not sure ABC TV is available outside Oz.

The interviewer and host of the ABC's 7.30 Report Kerry O'Brien is due to retire at the end of this year but I can't see him fading from the scene altogether. He's a very good interviewer and I won't be surprised to see him doing a series of special programs... or writing a book about the people he's interviewed during his 40-year career in journalism. Or both.

I just noticed a pic on Red Bubble - a rare moment in photography that illustrates the cruelty of life.

Beeb time: US President Barack Obama says he believes US citizens are feeling frustrated with the pace of economic recovery, after his Democratic Party suffers a disastrous election night. Yes, people are impatient. They forget the old Rome/day adage. But as one observer pointed out last night on a current affairs program, Clinton and other notables were in the same boat during their first mid-term elections, and survived to serve a second term. The Federal Reserve announces it will pump $600bn into the US economy to try to boost the fragile recovery. A purchase a day keeps the blues away, a friend of mine used to say. Scientists in the UK have demonstrated a flexible film that represents a big step toward the "invisibility cloak" made famous by Harry Potter. The film contains tiny structures that together form a "metamaterial", which can, among other tricks, manipulate light to render objects invisible. If you're into the physics, check out the story here. German police have arrested 23 people suspected of being involved in an illegal far-right internet radio station. Police said the suspects were in their 20s and 30s and were believed to have broadcast on the station, or helped to organise the broadcasts. How on earth that moustached idiot Hitler managed to inspire followers is still beyond me. Officials in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) have taken extraordinary measures to protect US President Barack Obama ahead of his visit. In their effort to provide maximum security in the run-up to his visit on Friday, they have removed coconuts which may fall on his head from trees. There ya go, the things they do for celebs they don't do for the average Joe. A 10-year-old girl from Romania has given birth in southern Spain, officials in the region have said. According to the Andalucia daily, Diario de Jerez, which first reported the story, the grandmother could not understand the wide level of interest in the case as "this is the age we get married in Romania". Well, she's not playing with Barbie any more, she's got a real one, with real poo. An artist is making the streets of London a little more colourful by painting miniature pictures on pieces of discarded chewing gum. If you're looking for something different, this is it

Well, it's been one of those non-event days. No inspiration, little energy. It happens ya know. Gary

November 3, 2010. Yes, folks, the nineth anniversary of Cody's death. His hand-written gnote.jpg is still pinned to my notice board wishing me happy 57th birthday in 2001. How time flies. Thanks for being my friend, Codeman. LYT and always will. I owe you big time.

Yesterday, I drove across the Martin Bridge to photograph the jacarandas in bloom plus a few other bits and pieces. Check out the album here.

Justin and I have been engaged in a little to-ing and fro-ing today. He says I intimidate him, and that it's a form of bullying. That surprised me.

Beeb time: US Republicans ride a wave of economic discontent to capture the House but President Obama's party retains the Senate. They love me, they love me not. Well, if the economic situation in the US improves over the next two years, the tide will turn the other way. So the Republicans better pray that it doesn't. Hehe. Greece has suspended international air mail for 48 hours after several parcel bombs were sent on Tuesday, including one to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. An extreme left-wing group is suspected of being responsible. What these extremists don't understand is this: if you wanna win an argument you need brains not bombs. Former US President George W Bush says he still has a "sickening feeling" because no WMDs were found in Iraq, in memoirs due to appear next week. To be fair to George, he, together with the rest of the coalition, acted on what was considered to be reliable intelligence. If there had been WMDs and no action was taken, imagine the consequences. It was a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. A man with an inherited form of blindness has been able to identify letters and a clock face using a pioneering implant, researchers say. Miikka Terho, 46, from Finland, was fitted with an experimental chip behind his retina in Germany. Success was also reported in other patients. The chip allows a patient to detect objects with their eyes, unlike a rival approach that uses an external camera. Chips! The way of the future! Yemen has launched a massive manhunt for two militants accused of involvement in the failed parcel bomb plots on US-bound flights. The aim of the military operation is to capture suspected bombmaker Ibrahim al-Asiri, and the US-born radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, wanted by Washington for his links to al-Qaeda. Yemeni authorities also began the trial in absentia of Mr Awlaki. Good. China has rejected an offer from the US to host three-way talks with Japan over the future of a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said the dispute involved only two nations, not the US. Ooer! I guess China thinks if the US can't solve its own internal affairs, how the hell can it solve anyone else's? Oil giant BP has announced a return to profit in the three months to September after last quarter's record loss. Now that's a Lazarus if ever there was one! Drongos in the Kalahari mimic the alarm calls of other species in order to steal food from meerkats, scientists find. Drongo is Aussie slang for someone who's not the full quid, but it appears the real drongos are pretty smart! 

Well, it's been a bizzy day despite not much Waffle. Bacon, eggs and chips tonight. Gary

November 2, 2010. I think too much. At least that was the opinion of a friend about 45 years ago. Maybe he was right. If a kid riding a skateboard at a rink thought too much about the risks he was taking, would he elect to sit on the sidelines and not participate? Here's a vid of people who get a buzz out of risk taking.

Thinking too much is a bit of a worry ya know. Every time I'm inspired to do something I start to think "yeah, but what if?" Hehe. So it's like I come up with a zillion reasons not to do it. Nike has a point with its slogan "Just Do It". On the other hand (here I go again), I've learned the hard way that impulsive decisions can lead to big mistakes and major regrets. Soooooooooooooooooooooooo... back to square one.

Let's do a quick Beeb before I go shopping: Candidates make their final push for votes on the last day of campaigning for Tuesday's US Congressional mid-term elections.Mid term? We don't have that in Oz. The UK and France, whose leaders meet in London later, are to sign a treaty agreeing to the joint development and testing of nuclear warheads. Times have changed since the Battle of Waterloo. A federal appeals court has ordered the US military's ban on openly gay troops to remain in place indefinitely while a legal battle is fought over the policy. The court had last month issued a temporary injunction blocking a judge's ruling that overturned the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" law. The government argues that it should stay in place until the military has devised a new policy. The ruling means troops can still be discharged for being openly gay. What a silly mess, and all because some people believe that sexual orientation is everybody's business. Forcing food manufacturers to cut salt levels in processed food could help cut heart disease rates, claim Australian researchers. I must say, I rarely use salt in my cooking or even on cooked food. But I do like it on CHIPS!

Back from shopping. The joint was almost deserted and I wondered why. Oh! Of course! Melbourne Cup Day... the race that stops a nation. Well, So You Think was favorite but it was beaten into 3rd. The horse that won is called Americain. But before you bloody Yanks get too excited, it's a French horse, trained by a French trainer and ridden by a French jockey. BUT... are you ready for this? The horse is owned by two Aussies. The Melbourne Cup is one of the world's great Group One races and also one of the richest in prizemoney... $6M this year, and that's just a cent or two below US.

Before shopping I drove over the bridge to the southside of Taree and took a bunch of pics of the jacarandas in flower. Stunning trees. I noticed they're beginning to lose their purple blooms and grow new green foliage so I made it just in time. And I spotted one tree with a motorbike tire hanging from a rope, used as a kid's swing. How cute. I'll post the album tomorrow.

So it's veal loin cutlets for THEM tonight (on special, of course. Eagle-eye G doesn't miss a thing), while Averil and I pig out on Cheap Chewsday pizza supreme with double topping. Yum! Gary

November 1, 2010. 30 days hath September, April, June and November... The things you remember from your early childhood. Of course, we don't do the 'hath' thing any more. Do we still do 'Our Father who art in Heaven. Hallowed be thy name'? Or 'Hail Mary'? Certain institutions rely on tradition for their credibility. Benny wears pointy hats, barristers wear cloaks and wigs, the queen wears a crown, and the town cryer still wears buckled shoes, stockings and rings a bell - Hear ye, Hear ye! So, if that's the case, why doesn't Barack Obama dress like Abraham Lincoln?

Tradition has its place, of course, but I'm not sure we should place too much emphasis on what our forefathers thought. I wonder what Galileo's forefathers thought about the sun and the planets.

I watched Stephen Fry do his reluctant adventurer thing again on telly last night. This time he was touring the islands of the Indonesian archipelago, including Komodo where the fabled fiery dragon lives. Ugly is the word. As Fry remarked, "They're even uglier than I am." They are the world's biggest lizard, up to 10 feet long, and are venomous to boot. They also have putrid breath caused virulent bacteria in their saliva. If they bite large prey such as a horse or water buffalo, they will wait for the animal to die of infection before they return to devour the carcass, which could take a week. They also kill and eat each other. Charming little chaps.

Fry and his companions at one stage were surrounded by several of the beasts, one of which headed towards Fry as its forked tongue kept tasting the air. He was obviously alarmed but instead of saying something like "Let's get the fuck outta here!" he said calmly and politely, "Do you think we should adjourn?"

Komodos have loose skin which enables them to eat almost their own weight in a short time. An eyewitness account revealed that a 101 lb (46 kg.) dragon  ate a 90 lb. (41 kg.) pig in 20 minutes.  As a comparison, a 100 lb. person would have to eat 320 quarter pound hamburgers in less than 20 minutes to keep up with the dragon.

We have large monitor lizards in Oz too but not quite so big or dangerous. But all that business got me to thinking about the purpose of life again. I think the purpose of life is life itself. Individuals are dispensable. Life survives, individuals don't.

Beeb time: At least 37 people have been killed after Iraqi security forces stormed a Catholic church in central Baghdad to free dozens of hostages being held by gunmen there, security sources say. Twenty-five hostages were among the dead, along with seven members of the Iraqi security forces and at least five of the attackers, they told the BBC. About 100 people had been inside Our Lady of Salvation for an evening mass. So much for salvation, and so much for the skill and training of the Iraqi security forces. Dilma Rousseff has been elected president of Brazil, succeeding Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, electoral officials have confirmed. Ms Rousseff, 62, who had never before held elected office, becomes the country's first woman president. Oz has its first female PM too. The world's gone mad. A record number of people have taken part in the Athens marathon to mark the 2,500th anniversary of the run which inspired the modern event. In 490BC, the Athenian army defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. According to legend, a messenger called Pheidippides ran the 42km (26 miles) to Athens to announce the victory. I wonder if anyone in 490BC ever gave a thought to the year 2010AD. What was Jon Stewart's rally in Washington all about? Tens of thousands have turned out to the rally held by US television comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert in Washington DC, but what was it all about? I liked the bloke holding the banner "I'm a little annoyed... but I'll get over it". Read the entire article here

Here's footage of Sydney when I was in my mid 20s.

I've been looking at campervans again, and now I'm re-thinking what I can do to convert Bluey. Yeah, maybe... maybe. Anyway, it's late and time for din dins. Fish cakes and chips. The God of Thunder is currently making a bit of a rumble but nothing terribly worrisome. Gary


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