the WAFFLE page

December 31, 2010. There ya go... last day of twenty ten and the beginning of the second decade of the new millennium. One wonders what the world will be like when 2020 rolls around.

TX Greg was a big help in telling me how to free up a lot of space on my hard drive. 5 minutes worth of clicking gave me an extra 10GB and now a little over half my internal HD is free space. I also discovered that the backup I did yesterday, thinking it was backing up my files to my external hard drive, was actually backing up the OS to my internal hard drive. Duh! We're not all born to be technical geniuses ya know.

My ex-neighbor in Glebe cleared up the "riot" in Hegarty Street. I thought he was was referring to one of my transgressions but no. A couple down the road a piece threw a party which annoyed the old lady next door who went to the police station to complain. Jeremy remarked that I didn't mention the Hegarty St. riot in my AO scrapbook page: You didn't mention the riot in Hegarty St and how the Balmain / Glebe coppers cleaned up a substantial number of arrest that is a tale that only you can tell, not to mention the Crown Sargeant and your comment that 'this was better than TV' perhaps a forerunner of today's reality TV. Don't you recall Joan (Steve's Mum) walking up to the cop-shop with her hair in rollers, night gown and a lump of 4x2 twice to get the cops.  The party was at Bob and Donna's mainly Donna's friends as Bob came up and joined us on the porch for a beer.  It was in the late 80's as I was still at AFT (my previous employer). Think we had a bit of a street party that night as we had chairs on the road and had to move when ever a car came by

Well, I don't recall that night so I was probably away with the pixies despite my comment to the crown sargeant. But I do remember Bob and Donna. Donna was a BIG girl, and I mean BIG, and she was into the lucrative shoplifting game at the time, and used to hire cars with the proceeds. That explains the arrest warrants because all her friends were into shoplifting as well. Donna could have hidden a truckload of stuff on her person and no one would have been any the wiser. Oh yes, those were the days. Colorful indeed.

The main thing I've learned by putting the scrapbook together is this: if I'd lived a normal life, I'd have no story to tell. Even my doc thinks the scrapbook is "very interesting". So I suppose that's some consolation for having led a crazy life. Did I tell you about the time I danced naked on a restaurant table and then sat on the restaurateur's face? No? Maybe some other time.

Yes, dear Breth, I'm afraid I'm not the innocent little possum I've led you to believe I am. However, you'll be glad to know that I've mended my ways. I'm respectable these days. Sort of.

Beeb time: The US, UK and Germany deplore the sentencing of former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky to six more years in jail for fraud. And now what happens? At least two people are killed and 14 wounded in a series of attacks targeting Christians in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. The madness continues because madness was, is and always will be part of life whilever human beings exist. Israel's former President Moshe Katsav faces jail after being found guilty of rape and other sexual offences by a court in Tel Aviv. You would think a former president would have more sense. The Vatican has set up a new financial authority to fight money laundering and make its financial operations more transparent. The Pope has signed into law new rules to bring the Vatican's banking regulations in line with international efforts to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. It follows accusations the Vatican had been contravening international rules on money laundering. Now lemme get this straight. If I forget to remove my wallet from my jeans before I do the washing, am I guilty too? The final roll of Kodachrome film, a widely-lauded quality colour film, is to be developed in Kansas on Thursday. Kodak announced it was discontinuing the iconic film in 2009, after competition from digital cameras caused a large sales decline. Created in 1935, it was the first commercial film to successfully shoot in colour. The times they are a-changing... Water levels are continuing to rise in some parts of the Australian state of Queensland as it battles its worst floods in decades. Days of torrential rain have led rivers to burst their banks, swamping homes, closing roads and forcing residents to evacuate. The rain has eased but flooding is getting worse in some places as water drains from higher ground. Yes, it's a major catastrophe that will be talked about for years to come. No doubt I'll hear some of the stories when I tour the area on the Odyssey. One bloke who bought a restaurant 9 months ago, and worked his ass off to build the business, was up to his chest in water as he surveyed the damage. The poor bloke was in tears. Nothing screams New York more loudly than the city's yellow cab, but city officials hope the next generation of taxis will be, well, a bit more green. New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission chairman David Yassky, who is overseeing the search for a new design, says the city hopes to replace the current fleet standard, the gas-guzzling Ford Crown Victoria. Interesting article that you can read here

If I were on a committee to change Aussie cabs I'd suggest FJ Holdens. Mind you, they'd have to re-tool the factory to what they were producing in 1956 but it would be worth it. The FJ is an Aussie icon. Imagine a few thousand red and blue FJs running around Sydney! That would be awesome.

Speaking of Sydney, the old town will go ballistic tonight for New Years Eve and the fireworks. Millions will descend upon various vantage points around the harbor foreshores to see the old coathanger light up with yet another spectacular display of pyrotechnics. Many spectators will have camped overnight to claim a good spot. Taree, by contrast, will be pretty laid back. Spectators will wander down to the river bank after sunset with their Eskies and blankets and pick a spot to have their little picnic on the grassy bank. The fireworks here usually attract a crowd of about 6 or 7 thousand, and it happens at 9pm for the kiddies. By 9:15pm it's all over. I'm only 2 blocks away so I can see it all from my front veranda. Of course, it's pretty tame compared to Sydney's extravaganza but it's not bad nonetheless. And then? Well, it'll be twenty eleven, time to throw your New Year resolutions to the wind and shrug as you say, "Oh well, there's always next year."

If I were to make a New Year's resolution - which I'm determined not to - it would be to get off my tired old butt more often and venture outdoors with my camera. Today, for example, is all blue sky and sunny, a perfect day to toddle down to the beach or whatever. But I'm very good at coming up with a million reasons to stay put. It's too hot, there's too much traffic, I'd have to put a shirt and shoes on, yadda, yadda... It would be much more sensible to make a New Year's resolution to get the Odyssey underway so that all I have to do is step out of my campervan to take a few piccies, or walk no further than a few meters. Hmmm. Well, let's see what 2011 brings.

And 2010? Well, not all that thrilling really. The old desktop died. Bluey finally got right. I got dudded on eBay. A skin cancer on my leg was removed, plus a few other lesser ones elsewhere. I had a few drinks. Young Josh dumped me in favor of a blonde with big boobs and went to Coffs Harbor to attend university. And... well... I had a few more drinks. Actually, I think the most important thing I did in 2010 was to scan all the scrapbook stuff and post the story of my life (albeit severely abridged - there's nothing in there about me dancing naked on restaurant tables). Digitizing the old family photo album was also a bit of a milestone which provided lots of family members, present and future, with access to a bit of Kelly history. 

I just learned how not to attach a camera to a tripod. I figured I'd take a movie of tonight's fireworks. I dunno if it'll work or not but it's not gonna cost anything to find out. Anyway, to attach a camera to a tripod don't open up the bloody thing before you try to screw the camera on. Leave it closed. Once the camera is attached, THEN you can open it up and do all that stuff.

Expect a report tomorrow... the first day of 2011. And a happy new year to you all. Gary

December 30, 2010. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Right? Seems I got dudded with the 128GB memory stick on eBay the other day. I didn't look closely enough at the seller's rep, which is non-existent. Yesterday, I checked out prices for memory sticks at the supermarket and saw that even 8GB are about $15. FL Josh wrote to express his suspicions as well, and included a giant tome about backups. This morning I checked a well-known Aussie electronics store on line and saw 16GB memory sticks for about $40. But you can get a 1TB USB powered external hard drive for about $100.

I already have a Western Digital 250GB external hard drive, USB powered, which has all the stuff from my old desktop comp on it. I got my mobile techie to do the backup for me before he trashed my old comp. Now I use a laptop but the internal hard drive is already 2/3rds full. BTW, Josh, my OS is Vista Business. I'll try the auto backup again later today to see if the last time I tried and failed was just an aberration.

Josh also mentioned his experiences with manual and electric typewriters. Oh yes, I pumped out many an ad on those over the years. I bought a used Remington office typewriter with an extra wide carriage for $35 back in 1978 for my own personal use. The thing weighed a ton! It's only a few years ago that I threw it out, along with my old Amstrad computer that used 125KB floppies. Yes, folks, things have certainly changed in the past couple of decades, and will continue to change at an even faster rate. When you're my age, the faster the better.

According to the 2008-09 MPHS, 72% of Australian households had home internet access and 78% of households had access to a computer. Between 1998 to 2008-09, household access to the internet at home has more than quadrupled from 16% to 72%, while access to computers has increased from 44% to 78%. Australian Bureau of Statistics.

I remember when computers were new fangled technology, some journalists and writers were very suspicious of them and chose to persist with their old typewriters. I can't imagine a single journalist or writer today not using a computer. In fact, when I was using a typewriter or my old Amstrad which was not connected to the internet, I wrote only when I had to. Now I can't keep my fingers away from the keyboard.

Beeb time: Five men are arrested for planning a gun attack on the offices of a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of Muhammad in 2005, police say. So what does this say about religious zealots? It says that Allah, who is all powerful and can destroy a quarter of a million people in a single Tsunami, can't be bothered punishing just one cartoonist, but instead delegates a group of nitwits to do the job for him. Make sense to you? Iran's nuclear programme has been hit by technical problems, and it could be still three years from making a nuclear bomb, a senior Israeli official says. Technical issues are only part of the problem. It's the mental issues that worry me. Recycling chickens past their best-before dates and selling them on to shops serving black communities is 'racist', a South African politician says. I agree. However, I do take advantage of markdowns of goods that are close to their use by or best before dates. Anger is mounting in New York and New Jersey over the slow pace of snow removal following the severe storms which brought the region to a halt. Major thoroughfares in Manhattan have been cleared, but large parts of the city have yet to be ploughed. Many residents are stuck in their homes unable to get to work, and piles of snow are hindering ambulances. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called the clean-up operation the worst in memory. I guess that's to be expected in this age of "instant everything". North-eastern Australia's worst flooding in decades is continuing to cause chaos across the region. About 1,000 people in Queensland have been evacuated, including the entire population of the town of Theodore. The government has declared Theodore and two other towns in the region to be disaster zones, and forecasters say the floods have not yet peaked. The cost of the damage is expected to top AU$1bn (£650m), including massive losses of sunflower and cotton crops. Merry Christmas. Ever wonder why you've never seen an elephant quickstep across African plains or do the tango in Thailand? Well, it's just one subject addressed in this year's Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. Answers to questions you never thought of asking. England have retained the Ashes for the first time in 24 years - and with a match to spare - after easing to a comprehensive win in the fourth (Cricket) Test. The tourists are now 2-1 up with only the Sydney Test remaining. If they avoid defeat there, England will win their first series down under since 1986/87. I dunno what's worse... losing the Ashes or the Queensland floods.

I just read some comments from BBC readers about the English cricket team retaining the ashes. I hadn't realized that many of the key players on England's team were recruited from South Africa, and that the coach is Australian. Well, well, well...

Do you believe in heaven and the after life? I didn't until I saw this vid on Youchewb. Now I'm a convert.

I received a couple of emails from my ex-neighbor in Glebe today, giving me the latest news. His son is quite the artist, bronzing old household icons like 50s vacuum cleaners and coffee machines. His work was called 'The Castle' with a working title 'The Banality of life'. But my neighbor keeps talking about the Hegarty Street riot and me saying to a crown sergeant "this is better than TV". But I can't remember it. Mind you there were a few incidents - one where I was whacked over the head with a meat tenderizer, and another where I was bound and gagged, and had a knife put to my throat during a robbery. Anyway, I've asked my neighbor to refresh my memory. He says it's a story "only you can tell" but I'm damned if I can remember it. If he succeeds, I'll add it to the scrapbook.

Meanwhile, I tried the Vista backup wizard to my external hard drive and it didn't work. It said it was working - "backup currently in progress" - but when I checked the E drive there was nothing new there. So I'm buggered if I know.

Lindsay asked, "What's for dinner tonight?" So I told him stir fried chicken and vegies. "Not for me... too hot. You and Sue can have it." And then he stormed off. Like I'm paid to cook for him? He's had a free ride for the past 10 years. So bugger him. I'll cook it and if he doesn't want it, that's his problem. Bloody jerk. Gary

December 29, 2010. Did I take my medication this morning or not? The problem with things done routinely, without thinking, is that they can go unnoticed. And then later you wonder if you did them or not. Service mechanics use a check list. Once a job is completed, they tick a box. Maybe I need a check list. Woke up. Tick. Went to the loo. Tick. Made a cuppa. Tick...

I'd love a dollar for every time I've made a cuppa and thought, "did I put sugar in or not?" I have mine black with half a sugar. I used to have milk and two, but if I had that now, I'd puke. You can train your taste buds like you train a dog.

And speaking of taste buds, I watched a program on telly last night about cooking, and how cooking has turned us into the humans we are today. Cooking food not only improves the flavor it also aids the digestion process. By cooking food, we soften it and cause it to release more of its nutrition in our gut. We can eat less and absorb more energy, which explains why we developed a smaller gut and a bigger brain than our ape cousins.

Of course, cooking is also made possible by the dexterity of our hands, and our ability to tame fire. As our brains grew, so did our ability to create and imagine and improve. It's all rather interesting, yes?

Beeb time: England need to take three Australian wickets - with the injured Ryan Harris unlikely to bat - to retain the Ashes for the first time in 24 years. Bloody Poms. Russia accuses Western nations of exerting "unacceptable" pressure over the trial of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Russia or the Russian authorities? The north-eastern US is trying to get back to normal after blizzards left tens of thousands of air passengers stranded and many people without power. Canada's Atlantic coast was also hit by the storm - the fourth in as many weeks to buffet the region. Flights have now resumed into and out of New York, Boston and Philadelphia. But many passengers were expected to be stranded until the end of the week after some 7,000 flights were cancelled over the busy holiday travel period. It's a bloody good thing the internet is not dependent upon the weather. A television channel in Bangladesh has been ordered to stop broadcasting interviews with the country's most famous hangman, officials say. They say that the government has ordered the three-part show off air because it could frighten children. The hangman, who has hanged nine people in his 21 years in prison, has requested anonymity. "Although I did not like to hang anyone in the gallows, I did it to decrease the span of my jail term. For each hanging, I got two months' exemption from my 30-year jail term," he said. It would be interesting to chat with him but I don't think I'd want him coming to my house every night for dinner. Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish have become parents to a son born to a surrogate mother in California. Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John was born on Christmas Day, the UK musician and Canadian filmmaker told the website. "Zachary is healthy and doing really well, and we are very proud and happy parents," said the couple. Let's hope Zachary turns out to be a proud and happy son. Flooding in north-eastern Australia has forced residents to evacuate towns and closed down more than 300 roads. In one town, Theodore, 300 residents are being flown out by a fleet of helicopters after floodwaters swamped buildings. The floods have caused hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage to sunflower and cotton crops. The state government of Queensland has declared several areas disaster zones. The state capital, Brisbane, has recorded its wettest December in more than 150 years. Cyclone Tasha, which hit Queensland on Saturday, also brought torrential rain to the state. And this is supposed to be the driest inhabited continent on earth? 

Well, well, well. The postie arrived today with a parcel from Ohio. ANOTHER T SHIRT! I should've been twins. Thank you, Sean, and thank you June and Jace. Sean included a letter, as he always does, and brought me up to date with his shenanigans. He's still taking every opportunity to run around "as nature intended" and ride ATVs in the mud or snow depending on the season. As a qualified teacher, he accompanied 30 plus kids on a field trip to Columbus Zoo and learned that the resident 54 year old Gorilla has 10 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren and 2 great, great grandchildren, which is a handy thing to know if you're ever stuck for conversation.

It's always nice to hear from Sean. His writing has improved markedly. He's quite the story teller these days. And yes, I love the T - Buckeye Football with one of those gridiron helmets on the front. Twice so far I've been stopped by total strangers on my mini Odysseys - once by an Aussie teacher who worked at Ohio University for some years, and once by a young couple who attended a football match between the Buckeyes and another team. Small world, yes? Thanks again to the Ohio gang for your gifts and wishes.

Time to vamoose. Gary

December 28, 2010. I remember writing 1980 on a check/cheque for the first time 30 years ago. Wow! 1980! Bluey wasn't even born yet. She came along 9 years later... 9 years and 11 months, actually. And now we're looking at 2011.

Just now I heard a butcher bird chattering away so I went out to investigate. Butcher birds tend to be pretty tame. He kept chattering merrily as he scoured the lawn for worms and grubs, not in the least worried about Lindsay's or my presence. I think they've learned that people will feed them if they do a little busking outside an open door. They have quite an extensive repertoire compared to most birds, and are surprisingly musical.

Kevin Bloody Wilson is surprisingly musical too. Not to mention irreverent - some would say crass. He calls himself "Your average Australian Yobbo", and here he is singing a song about religious groups knocking on your front door on Sunday morning with a message of salvation. I'm not sure if Wilson is himself a Yobbo or if his work is a parody of Aussie Yobboness. I suspect it's the latter... and the Yobbos haven't figured it out.

Yobbos are often unshaven, beer-bellied nitwits who imagine every woman secretly lusts after them. Younger ones think that wheelies and burnouts really turn the chicks on. Yobbos also believe it's essential to pepper any given sentence with as much profanity as possible.

Beeb time: The US and Germany have voiced serious concerns about a second guilty verdict against the jailed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man and considered a political threat to PM Vladimir Putin, was convicted at a new Moscow trial of embezzlement. Several hundred demonstrators could be heard outside the courtroom during the session, chanting "Freedom!" and "Put Putin in jail!" Police made a number of arrests. Ooer! The plot thickens! Nine men charged with conspiracy to bomb high-profile London targets in the run-up to Christmas have been remanded in custody after appearing in court. The court was told that one of the potential targets was the London Stock Exchange. The prosecution told the court the police investigation indicated potential targets in the days before Christmas included the US Embassy, political and religious figures. Would fanaticism exist without religion and/or politics? Probably. Blizzards sweep north along the eastern US and Canada, forcing the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights and disrupting rail and road traffic. Here in Oz we're dealing with torrential rain and flooding up north. Police in the Australian state of Queensland have rescued three teenagers who tried to use air mattresses to float 30km (20 miles) on floodwaters. The three boys were trying to get from Ipswich to central Brisbane via the swollen Bremer river. Police said the trio had floated 15km before they were retrieved, labelling their actions "foolish and dangerous". Heavy rain has been falling across southern Queensland, bringing flooding to several towns. The rain was brought by Cyclone Tasha, which hit the state on Saturday. Boys will be boys. Italian bomb disposal experts have defused a parcel bomb sent to the Greek embassy in Rome. The device was found just days after two similar parcel bombs were sent to two other embassies in Rome. An Italian anarchist group claimed responsibility for sending those packages, which exploded, injuring two embassy employees. Italian police warned all diplomatic missions in Rome to be on the alert for suspicious packages after the bombs exploded at the Chilean and Swiss embassies on Thursday. Jesus Christ, this kind of behavior is becoming normal. Missiles fired by a suspected US drone have struck a vehicle in north-west Pakistan killing at least 18 militants, officials say. US drone attacks are fairly regular in North and South Waziristan which are Taliban and al-Qaeda strongholds. More than 100 such attacks occurred in 2010, most of them in North Waziristan. And on and on it goesNeanderthals cooked and ate plants and vegetables, a new study of Neanderthal remains reveals. Researchers in the US have found grains of cooked plant material in their teeth. The study is the first to confirm that the Neanderthal diet was not confined to meat and was more sophisticated than previously thought. Charming looking chaps. A Wiltshire grandfather spent three days trying to find his way home from Gatwick Airport after becoming disorientated in snowy conditions. Moroccan-born Mohammed Bellazrak's family reported him missing after he failed to return to Trowbridge after dropping his wife off for a flight. Police in Oxfordshire eventually flagged down the 72-year-old after his car triggered a camera in Oxford. They found he had spent from 23 - 25 December driving, trying to get back. And I thought I had a terrible sense of direction. Poor old bugger. England will begin day three of the Melbourne (Cricket) Test on 444-5, a lead of 346 over Australia. How the hell we're gonna get out of this mess I have no idea. The Poms will be cheering though. Oz was No.1 for years but it seems our domination of the game has run its course

I just went on an eBay spending spree - $30 for a 128GB memory stick. I tried to do a backup of my stuff on my external HDD and got an error message about something being corrupted but it's all too complicated and I dunno how to fix it. Anyway, $30 for a 128GB memory stick sounds pretty cool. My internal HDD is only about 60GB, and I've got about half that to backup. It's only a little over a decade ago that I had my first Pentium with 1GB. Sheesh. Now you can put 128 times that on a keyring.

And now it's kitchen time... fish and hash browns. Gary

December 27, 2010. "She's not that fucking stupid, Gary." That was Lindsay's remark when I asked him to turn the shower taps on for Sue. He wasn't here the day she screamed because she turned on the hot water first and didn't know how to turn it off. Instead she tried to escape the cubicle in a mad panic. She's not that stupid? If that's what Lindsay thinks, what does that say about him?

I deserve a bloody medal.

Beeb time: Large parts of the US eastern seaboard are buried under a blanket of snow as an intensifying storm sweeps north, causing massive travel disruption. I just checked Google for the Jerusalem forecast... fine and sunny for the next four days. I thought that was interesting because Christmas is always associated with snow and fir trees rather than deserts and date palms. 

Otherwise, the Beeb is running old stories or reporting on ho hum stuff. Apparently, the world closes down for Christmas.

I've had a lovely time this afternoon trying to figure out how to tune my little portable LCD TV. It's only taken me several hours. Even a kid could do it. In fact, ONLY kids can do it. Well, oldies can if they swear like buggery and kick everything in sight and keep pressing buttons. I bought it a couple of years ago and gave it to young Josh to tune. He managed to get 3 channels. I GOT 5. Anyway, my old TV has almost called it a day... it only works on some channels for some reason I can't fathom. So it's time to get a newie. Besides, analogue is about to the get the flick in Oz and everything will be digital by 2013. Taree will cease analogue reception between July/December 2012.

I've been checking prices on digital TVs. Entry level is about $200. Something with a built-in DVD player and a few more bells and whistles is closer to $300 for a 21 inch screen. I don't intend to get anything as big as a fridge with surround sound. I'm not into TV all that much anyway, and there's only so much you can fit in a campervan. Apart from that, reception out in the sticks is poor. I think I'll be depending on radio and the internet.

Actually, I like radio. You can listen to radio while you're doing other things. Tony the Painter always has his radio on while he's slapping the paint on. He mainly listens to talk-back.

I watched Who Do You Think You Are last night. It was about Paul Mercurio, the Aussie actor who hit the big time with Strictly Ballroom. Now he's a TV chef. His father, Gus, emmigrated to Oz from Milwaukee when he was in his late 20s and became a well-known character actor on Oz TV. But Paul didn't know much about his father - they weren't close - so he decided to do a bit of checking. Turned out that Paul's grandfather was a big time Mafia man in Milwaukee with strong Republican Party connections that included Nixon himself. He was a fund raiser for the Republicans, and you can imagine how he influenced people to part with their dollars. He was into extortion, prostitution, gambling, and anything else that could make a buck.

Paul felt shattered and embarrassed at learning of his grandfather's exploits. On the poz side, his grandmother was a sweetie. She was virtually left to her own devices to raise 4 kids on her own - abandoned by her husband. She was a pretty good cook and opened a bakery which became quite successful. Paul has inherited her culinary skills as well as the acting skills of his father. Yes, a most interesting story. "I've become the person I am because of them... or in spite of them... I'm not sure which." Paul is happily married with 3 lovely daughters whom he adores.

News, current affairs, documentaries, true stories, interviews... I can't get enough of them. I don't watch movies or soaps as a rule. Bleh.

Just got a quick note from Ohio Jace: The snowman card worked just as I hoped it would. You can mark building a snowman off your bucket list and you did not have to freeze your fingers off in the process. How many folks in OZ can say they have even seen snow let alone built a snowman.

We missed the snow storm but the east coast is getting slammed with heavy snow. Raleigh, N. C. had its first white Christmas ever as did a few cities in Alabama. We got just enough to cover the ground in fresh clean snow.

Jace and June are hanging out for a grandchild courtesy of their two sons: We had a big announcement during Christmas breakfast at Sean's. There is a new grandchild coming, unfortunately it is NOT MINE. Young Steven is going to have a brother (they hope). It is too early too tell for certain. The baby is due late June or early July. Better go the clan wants ice cream. More later if I survive.

Jace loves kids. Those kids don't know how lucky they are to have a surrogate grandpa like Jace. Gary

December 26, 2010. Thank God that's over. Now we can get back to normality... whatever that is. The cops were out at 4am chasing some whacko zooming up and down the road outside my house. Probably kids in a stolen car. I thought for sure the thing was gonna crash but by some miracle it didn't.

The other day I couldn't find a shower mat at the supermarket so I bought a roll of non-slip rubbery matting instead. You just cut off a piece as you need it. Cool. But when you remove the paper wrapping that keeps the roll wound, you see printed on the INSIDE Do Not Use As A Bathmat. Sheesh. Now you tell me! Bloody crooks.

Beeb time: Pope Benedict expresses his hope for an end to conflicts around the world, in his traditional Christmas message from the Vatican. And what was his message last Christmas and the Christmas before that? Twelve Somalis are arrested in the Netherlands on suspicion of planning a terror attack, Dutch prosecutors say. Obviously Benny's message is not getting through to certain Somalis. US President Barack Obama has condemned as "outrageous" Saturday's deadly suicide bomb attack on a town in north-western Pakistan. A female bomber killed at least 43 people in the attack on a large crowd receiving food aid in Khar in the Bajaur region. "I strongly condemn the outrageous terrorist attack in Khar, Pakistan," President Obama said. "Killing innocent civilians outside a World Food Programme distribution point is an affront to the people of Pakistan, and to all humanity." To put it bluntly, religious and political fanatics obviously couldn't give a shit about humanity. Peace and goodwill to all men, ho ho ho. An Indian space rocket carrying a communications satellite has exploded on take-off. India's space organisation said it was investigating the cause of the failure. My guess is they overdid the chillies. England's Chris Tremlett takes two wickets as England enjoy a strong morning session in the fourth Ashes (Cricket) Test in Melbourne. Oh, dear... that doesn't sound too good for Oz. European flights are almost back to normal after air passengers spent the night at airports in Paris and Brussels because of the freezing weather that disrupted Christmas travel. Some 200 people slept overnight at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, where 400 flights were cancelled. Airport officials provided food, beds and children's toys. Flights and trains were also disrupted in Belgium, where significant snow fell overnight, and in Germany. Actually, it even snowed recently in the Alpine regions of Oz! Police in West Yorkshire have revealed a list of "ridiculous" 999 calls which they say put lives at risk by diverting resources away from real emergencies. One person dialled 999 to report a packet of rice missing from a cupboard while another called for advice about a snoring dog. And one woman from West Yorkshire decided she needed police help when a black cat got into her house. A police spokesman said: "These calls are so ridiculous it's astonishing." When you're dealing with the general public, surely nothing is astonishing.

Rita is a middle age German lady who fell in love with Australia, and has visited Oz quite a few times to travel its length and breadth. You'll learn a lot more about Oz from her than I can tell or show you, and see it all from a European perspective.

Not much of a Waffle today, ladies and genitals, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Gary

December 25, 2010. Yes, folks, this is the big day. Well, big for other people. I'm dreading phone calls today from rellos... mine or L&S's. The obligatory question will be, "What are you doing for Christmas?" and when I answer, "Nothing," I'll be given the third degree. "Why aren't you doing anything? How could you possibly be happy doing nothing? This is Christmas! You should be celebrating!" Yes, there's no shortage of expert advice out there on every aspect of how one should live one's life.

But it won't be over tomorrow or the next day. The obligatory question will be "Did you have a nice Christmas?" And when I answer "Yes," the next question will be "And what did you do?" You see? You can't win.

However, it's not easy to remain totally grumpy when you get a card like this from TX Greg.

Or one like this from Joao.

Joao also commented on the pics of Peter Lenz yesterday. He says he's always been a fan of sci-fi books, and remembers one from his youth about a Martian who couldn't understand the obsession Terrestrials have with speed. The first time I heard about a boy called Peter Lenz is to know that he died in a motorcycle racing accident. Well, if Martians couldn’t understand (and you know that ETs are always smarter than that bunch of evolved monkeys from Earth, at least in films) why should I do?

And here's a story about Scottish compassion from NC Art. A man was sitting on a blanket at the beach. He had no arms and no legs. Three women, from England, Wales, and Scotland, were walking past and felt sorry for the poor man. 

The English woman said, 'Have you ever had a hug?' The man said, 'No,' so she gave him a hug and walked on. The Welsh woman said, 'Have you ever had a kiss?' The man said, 'No,' so she gave him a kiss and walked on. The Scottish woman came to him and said, 'ave ya ever been fooked laddie?' The man broke into a big smile and said, ‘no’. She said, 'Aye - Ya will be when the tide coomes in.' 

I just left a message on Justin's blog:

And a Merry Christmas to you, ho, ho
And a Merry Christmas to you.
I hope that in twenty eleven you manage
To keep yourself outta the poo.

But then I wondered if that was an appropriate comment to make to a gay person.

Beeb time: Thousands of air travellers are left stranded and road and rail networks paralysed as fresh snow hits countries across Europe. Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Thousands of tourists and pilgrims converge on the West Bank town of Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas. Oh, is that where Santa was born? I didn't know that. "American exceptionalism" is the trend-topping topic of conversation in the US at the moment. "Americans believe with all their hearts, the vast majority of them, that the United States of America is simply the single greatest nation in all of human history." So said Florida's new Republican Senator Marco Rubio in his acceptance speech following last month's mid-term elections. A most interesting article. The only person to visit Wikileaks suspect Pte Bradley Manning in custody other than his lawyer says his health has declined in the past four months. Pte Manning, a US soldier, is being held in solitary confinement in a high-security military prison at Quantico marine base, Virginia. US journalist David House, who has been visiting him since September, told the BBC World Service he looked "frazzled". Read the full article here. New rules have taken effect in China that restrict car purchases in an effort to combat serious traffic problems in the capital, Beijing. City authorities will allow only 240,000 vehicles to be registered for 2011 - one-third of this year's total. China overtook the US as the world's biggest car and van market in 2009, with 13.6 million vehicles sold within the country. When ever you see ads for new cars, they're always zooming along a country road with not another car in sight. One act of kindness that befell British writer Bernard Hare in 1982 changed him profoundly. Then a student living just north of London, he tells the story to inspire troubled young people to help deal with their disrupted lives. A very moving story, just in time for Christmas. You gotta read this one.

You've seen rest room signs, right? This one takes the cake

A Blast From the Past - Steve 2002
It's a year since Cody left the planet and even now it is so incredibly hard to write those words. Those who knew him will remember him with a smile that he always, unwittingly, brought to a person's face. Those who only started to know Cody after the event have also come to love him as much as we all do.  Cody brought a touch of humanness, if that is the right word, into every conversation and action with anyone he met. He made it "okay" to be close to a friend. He made it "okay" to make mistakes. In the last news page that Cody put together, he wrote about contacting a friend and just letting them know that you thought of them, even for an instant. It would be very cool if you did that now, in his memory. Contact a bud and say "Hi, howzit going?" 

I think my coolest memories of him are when we shared quiet times together and shared surf stories or he would tell me about some of his hiking stories. And we would laugh. He would start giggling and before long we would be holding our stomachs cos we were laughing so much.  I remember when we hiked to JBay like it was yesterday. We went up to watch the Billabong Pro Classic. It was a total rave trip. The surfing, the laughter, the fun, the knowing that I was in the company of someone who thought the world of his friends and his folks. Cody loved JBay. 

One evening we were surfing a place called "Cemetry". It was one of those magical evenings when the air was warm and the water felt great. No wind, just a really nice swell, about 3 feet and glassy. The sky looked stormy and there was lightning about. About 200 meters away there was a whale in the water and its tail came out, like a gigantic fan and it looked like it was right next to us. We stopped and I'll never forget the look on Cody's face. It was like he was in another world, Cody's World. A world of nature, sea and magic. 

You would've read about the rule in Cody's house. Whenever him or his mom or dad went out, they would give the person staying behind, a huge hug because anything could happen and you may not see them again. It's a good rule. Cody would've hugged his folks before going to work that morning. 

A lotta guys who have signed the guestbook have asked "What happened?" Well, Cody was killed in a car wreck when he hitched a ride home after having a few drinks with the guys that he worked with. 

Cody loved being in the water, whether he was surfing or swimming.  The one day when they were having an inter-house swimming gala at his school, I thought I would surprise him and go there to support him. He looked so damn hot in his speedos and he was like a fish when his body hit the water. 

To say that Cody affected a few lives would be an understatement. He had an enormous impact on anyone that he came into contact with. Around the world there are mini shrines to my friend who taught the world to love, he taught the world about tolerance, he taught the world about friendships without boundaries. 

Cody wrote quite a bit while he was at school. It was the time that he could get into the computer lab and do his own thing. He carried a box of diskettes in his school bag with all his web information and he would get to school before anyone else to work on his web pages and write his e-mails. Then he still had time to swim laps or train with Mark in the gym. He had a wicked sense of humour and you had to have your wits about you not to be the target of his jokes. 

I hope you enjoyed my tribute to my special friend. I've tried to reflect the fun that he brought into so many of our lives and the love that he radiated to everyone. I had this page pretty well wrapped until a fucking shit thing happened early in October. Gary had a heart attack. I really thought my world was shattering and it was gonna be November 2001 all over again. But he is out of hospital and back at the keyboard and doing okay. He stopped smoking a few weeks before the attack...go fucking figure! Anyway I lambasted him for riding his bicycle when his car "Tough Titties" is standing outside getting rust :)

Meanwhile, Oregon Richie sent a link to this very funny Youchewb ad for Air New Zealand

And here's another one.

And now we return across the Tasman to Australia for this infomercial, Aussie style.

So there ya go, another Christmas Day, and not one destined to be the most memorable. But that's okay. I've got nothing to bitch about. Gary

December 24, 2010. Tonight's the night Santa and his reindeer whizz through the skies with his prezzie-laden sleigh. If you don't have a chimney, forget it... no Santa for you.

I just heard a comment on talk back radio, "You can't have a consumer society without consumers." So the big end of town is worried about the lack of spending this Christmas. Oh? Electricity prices have gone up, interest rates have gone up, various other costs of living have gone up, the banks are making record profits, and the big end is mystified by the lack of spending? Yeah, right.

As Oregon Richie has pointed out many times, it's middle America (middle Australia, middle Britain, etc) that floats the boat. The poor can't do it, the rich can't do it, so it's left to the middle classes, and if they ain't spending, the boat sinks. Boom, boom.

Another caller said that we have a bunch of amateurs running the country's biggest organization, the country itself, who couldn't run a private enterprise business in a fit.

Ohio Jace sent a Christmas Greeting... one of those Yahoo click ones... click here, click there. I had to move snowballs around to build a snowman. What the hell would I know about snowmen? I've never built one! So I buggered it up and kept putting the snowballs in the wrong places, but I eventually got it right. It was very nice, Jace, so thanks very much. Jace is celebrating Christmas with family and friends, which is what Christmas is all about.

Jace is quite taken by young Peter Lenz, the feisty little bloke who was killed in a motorcycle racing accident a while back. His fans put this together. It's very touching.

And this pic is one of a bunch of sailors. Jace asked, "Can you imagine Cody and Mark doing that?" Yes, I definitely can!

Actually, I was just telling Sue about my shopping experiences at the supermarket... watching mothers with their little kids who can't resist grabbing everything they see. Mom spends all her time saying things like, "We don't need that! Put it back!" But the kids can't help themselves. And when mom finally reaches the checkout, there's a whole bunch of non-essentials there to tempt shoppers while they're waiting their turn in the queue, and the kids are at it again, grabbing everything that's colorful and/or pretty. Hehe.

Beeb time: A prototype solar device has been unveiled which mimics plant life, turning the Sun's energy into fuel. The machine uses the Sun's rays and a metal oxide called ceria to break down carbon dioxide or water into fuels which can be stored and transported. God was a pretty smart dude ya know. God is faithful to his promises but often surprises us by how he fulfils them, the Pope is due to say in a BBC broadcast. Pope Benedict's Christmas message for the UK will be broadcast as Thought For The Day on the Today programme on Radio 4. The child born in Bethlehem brought liberation - but not by military or political means, he will say. That's the thing about God... he's so secretive he doesn't even tell Papa what's gonna happen next. The US has denounced North Korea for threatening a "sacred war" against the South, whose military has been holding live-fire drills near the border. The state department's Philip Crowley told the BBC there was no justification for Pyongyang's "belligerent words". In a day of rising tension, Seoul and Pyongyang traded strong rhetoric, with the South warning of a "powerful response" to any attack from the North. Once upon a time there was Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I wish Pyongyang would remember that. California health officials have warned residents to stay away from beaches contaminated by run-off after a week of torrential rain. Miles of beaches remain closed after the deluge washed rubbish, pesticides and harmful bacteria into the sea. And even as the rain has relented, residents are bracing for landslides, with hundreds of homes evacuated. Oh dear... so much for Merry Christmas. A Rhodesian Ridgeback bitch which bore 17 puppies in one litter is to be neutered for its own good, its German mistress has announced. How sensible. Scientists have produced what they believe is the world's smallest Christmas card. It was created by nantotechnologists at the University of Glasgow and is so small it could fit on to the surface of a postage stamp 8,276 times. The image, which measures 200x290 micro-metres, features a Christmas tree and is etched on a tiny piece of glass. Yes, all very well but WHY? The team behind the project said the technology could eventually be used in products such as TVs and cameras. Oh. Australia captain Ricky Ponting says his chances of playing in the fourth Ashes (Cricket) Test against England on Boxing Day in Melbourne are "very high". Ponting fractured a finger when parrying a catch during Australia's 267-run third Test win at Perth. But the 36-year-old has taken part in a light fielding session and intends to bat in the nets on Friday. "If there is ever a Test you want to play it's Boxing Day in Melbourne," Ponting told The Australian. Writing in his column, Ponting added: "I'm confident I'll be there playing in front of what we all hope will be a world-record crowd of 91,000 or more at the MCG, because it doesn't get much bigger than this. Yes, the world's cricketing eyes will be on this match. Fingers crossed that Oz lives up to expectations. Austrian police say a huge Macedonian-led heroin-trafficking ring has been dismantled in a joint operation involving some 400 arrests. Dubbed the "Frankfurt Mafia" because of its connections to Germany's financial capital, the ring allegedly controlled the heroin market in Vienna. It was "one of the biggest blows against organised drug crime in Europe", an Austrian police chief said. Good. Crush the bastards. The marriage of an 11-year-old Muslim girl to a 41-year-old man has been ruled illegal in Malaysia. An Islamic court judge found the father of the child had had no intention of marrying her off, and that there were elements of threat and force involved. What's the difference between that and pedophaelia?

Papa. That's the Italian word for father, which is where the word Pope comes from. And the word nepotism which means favoriting relatives regardless of their worth, is related to the word nephew. That's one of the benefits of watching a quiz program where contestants have to unscramble a bunch of scrambled letters. They select a number of random consonants and vowels and then try to form them into words. Sounds a bit dreary but it's quite entertaining. They also select a series of smaller and larger numbers which they need to manipulate in order to arrive at a predetermined total.

The plumber phoned to check if I was home. No worries. So the bathroom taps are flowing like Niagra now, which is great. I didn't expect him to arrive before Christmas and figured the taps would be cactus over the holidays. But no! So that's my Chrissy prezzie. What a difference a new spiggot makes, whatever that is. And it took him all of 5 minutes.

Well, since Ohio Jace is into the motor bike thing, I figured I'd post a pic of my mom sitting astride my dad's Ariel and sidecar. The pic was taken about 90 years ago. She was quite a gal, old mom.

Merry Christmas, y'all. Gary

December 23, 2010. Pay day, bills day. Kinda like a through-train that doesn't stop at the station. You stand there and get blown around by the wind and then watch the thing vanish into the distance. But I did manage to snatch a bit and pay a few bills, and get a little further out of debt.

Here's a bit of light relief from Muhammad Ali

Here's a montage of Ali highlights... I Am The Greatest. A funny man.

Back from shopping and assorted fiddling and farting. How time flies. Let's do a Beeb: The US president welcomes a Senate decision to ratify a nuclear arms treaty with Russia that will pave the way for new cuts in both arsenals. How times have changed since the Cold War. South Korea prepares to hold a series of live-fire military exercises on an unprecedented scale near the heavily armed land border with the North. Calling Pyongyang's bluff. Hehe. The games people play. Pope Benedict has recorded a Christmas message especially for the UK, to be broadcast by the BBC on Christmas Eve. It will go out as the Thought For The Day on the Today programme on Radio 4. It is the first time that Pope Benedict has addressed a Christmas message especially for one of the countries he has visited during the year. It'll be a contest to see who is the most uproariously entertaining, Betty or Benny. Former Argentine military ruler Jorge Videla has been sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity. A court in the central Argentine city of Cordoba found Gen Videla, 85, guilty of murdering dissidents during the country's period of military rule between 1976 and 1983. Pity they left it so late. Three men have been found guilty of plotting a suicide attack on an army base in the Australian city of Sydney. A Melbourne court found three of the accused men guilty of conspiring to commit a terrorist act. The other two defendants were acquitted. The five men, all Australian citizens with Somali or Lebanese origins, were accused of targeting Sydney's Holsworthy military base. Police said the attack would have been the worst in Australian history. The bastards are everywhere. A huge storm system has dumped record amounts of rain on southern California and prompted concern that the poor weather could spread across the US. Streets flooded, residents were evacuated and authorities were on alert for landslides in the wake of the torrential downpour. The deluge came at the end of a week that saw Los Angeles receive half its annual rainfall in just six days. One commenter on Justin's blog the other day was boasting about how lovely the California weather was. Scientists say an entirely separate type of human identified from bones in Siberia co-existed and interbred with our own species. The ancient humans have been dubbed "Denisovans" after the caves in Siberia where their remains were found. There is also evidence that this population was widespread in Eurasia. A study in Nature journal shows that Denisovans co-existed with Neanderthals and interbred with our species - perhaps around 50,000 years ago. Ah ha! Well, that certainly explains a few things.

I'm not sure where the day went but it went. Seeya tomorrow. Gary

December 22, 2010. The twenty twoth. I remember the days when my Ukrainian friends thought twenty twoth was correct. And they couldn't understand why the numbers from 4 onwards ended with 'th' but the first three ended with 'st', 'nd' and 'rd'.

Only 3 sleeps till Santa comes down the chimney. And then all the madness will subside for another year. I'm afraid I'm not a participant. Christmas day will be like any other for me, which doesn't bother me at all. I enjoy all my days, and every one of them is special as far as I'm concerned.

By the way, there was a full moon the other night, which I noticed as it slowly rose above the eastern horizon. One Aussie Red Bubbler managed to get a great shot of it by attaching his camera to a telescope.

I've been working on a little poem the last few days... an attempt to answer the question, Who Am I? And here's what I came up with.

Beeb time: The EU says airports must "get serious" about planning for severe weather, as around 1,000 flights were cancelled across the continent on Tuesday. That surprises me. I thought they would have been serious already. Apparently not. The US population has risen by almost 10% in the last decade to stand at 308.7m, but the rate of its increase is the slowest since the 1930s, according to the US Census Bureau. Blame gays. The Vatican has clarified recent comments by Pope Benedict XVI on condoms, saying he did not mean they could be used to avoid pregnancy. Do as I say, not as I do. The US has ruled out resuming talks with North Korea unless it shows it is serious about meeting its obligations on halting its nuclear activities. The White House said Pyongyang must stop its "belligerent actions". The comments follow an unofficial visit to the North by US politician Bill Richardson. He said Pyongyang would re-open its facilities to UN inspectors. Kids and dogs are the same... they'll test the boundaries to see how far they can go before being chastized. If they succeed in pushing the boundaries too far, they become unmanageable. Toyota has agreed to pay a record fine in the US of $32.4m (£20.8m) over its handling of millions of car recalls. This is the second big fine the world's largest carmaker will pay to US authorities, after agreeing a $16.4m penalty in April. The carmaker said it was "pleased to have resolved these legacy issues", but did not admit any violations of US law. From what I can gather, the recalls haven't damaged Toyota's reputation so far. The European Commission has approved the takeover bid made by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation for satellite broadcaster BSkyB. The commission ruled that the takeover would not "significantly impede" competition in Europe. The boy from Adelaide... enough is never enough. The fallout from a patent dispute between Kodak and web photo site Shutterfly could embroil many online image sites, says patent experts. Kodak claimed it owns patents regarding the display of online images that is being infringed by Shutterfly. Kodak has been hit hard by the shift towards digital photography, but has recently shown a greater willingness to assert its rights for technology it believes impinge on its patents. Earlier this year Kodak said it would sue Apple and BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion, over technology used in their handsets. Don't mess with MY internet, Kodak

This is something I've been dreading, but I had time to spare today so... I got all the receipts out for Bluey and added them up. $6096.80. Sheesh. Subtract what I got for TT, $1850, and it comes to $4246.80. That includes some regular services, tires, battery, etc, but most of it is the initial cost, transportation to Taree from Brisbane, and repairs. BUT, I haven't included the rust job yet which was $900, so that brings it to $5146.80. The second rust job - getting rid of rust around the front door pillar and parts of the floor - was $300. So, Bluey has cost me about five and a half grand. Admittedly, she's not a bad bus but it's more than I anticipated spending when I first bought her. Labor's the killer... $80 an hour. And there were a few fuckups with the carby that cost at least a grand more than it should have. Anyway, so there it is.

Replacement parts include:
2 x tires
Alternator belt, bracket and bolts
Drag link
Headlight assembly
Power steering tensioner
Timing chain
Water pump
Various hoses
Spark plugs
Thermostat & gasket
Wheel cylinders
Caster rod
Slave cylinder

Okay, now let's check the cost of tonight's dinner: sausages $4.40, onion 50 cents, peas 50 cents, mashed potato $1, gravy 20 cents - total $6.60 divided by 3 people = $2.20 each. OMG! Actually, I love bangers and mash with onions and gravy. Yum. Woolworth's bangers are pretty good... tomato and onion flavored slim ones - grilled till golden brown.

So that's about it, ladies and genitals. I suppose I better get busy in the kitchen. Oh... and one more thing... will I be as silly as this in a few years when I'm all grown up and in my 70s?  Hmmm. Old habits die hard ya know. Gary

December 21, 2010. Chewsday. Not so breezy today, which is fine by me. Yesterday I had to rescue a polystyrene box from the road outside. It had fallen off a truck and was bouncing down the road in the wind, getting in the way of traffic. So I grabbed it and stuck in my wheely bin. Years ago I did something like that in Sydney at a busy intersection. A truck lost a large branch off a tree which fell onto the roadway and blocked traffic. So dingaling me stopped all the cars and walked onto the middle of the road and dragged the large branch back to the kerb. Only one motorist, a truckie, bothered to thank me. "Good onya mate!"

Wiz has just made a new Youchewb vid - dealing with disability. At first I thought it was all about woe is me, and it is to some extent. But there's a powerful message there, and one I think Wiz has long kept to himself. Over the years he has hinted from time to time that he's not a happy little camper, and I suppose he was hoping that people would ask him what his beef was. Well, seems he got tired of waiting and made the vid instead. It's worth watching. I would urge you to make a comment on the vid and give the boy a little Christmas cheer.

Tony the painter is back to do "a bit more". I told him I'd be in a wheelchair by the time he's finished, and he'll be painting one-handed because of his walking stick.

Beeb time: Thousands of flights and train services are cancelled across Europe because of snow and ice, leaving many travellers stranded. Merry Christmas. The Russian foreign minister warns US lawmakers that any change to the new nuclear arms treaty between the two countries could destroy the pact. One thing I've learned in life is that people are not happy unless they're bitching about something. The acclaimed Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi has been sentenced to six years in prison, his lawyer says. Farideh Gheirat said Mr Panahi had been convicted of working against the Iranian system, the semi-official Isna news agency reported. She said her client had also been banned from making films, writing scripts and travelling abroad. Another Iranian film-maker, Mohammad Rasulov, also received a six-year sentence on similar charges. Could something like that happen in the west? Ask Julian Assange. Colorado police have arrested the author of a guidebook that gives advice to paedophiles, and charged him with violating obscenity laws in Florida. Philip R Greaves II sparked controversy last month after selling the Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct through the online retailer Amazon. He was arrested after selling his guide to a detective, officials said. I don't think that bloke will attract too much sympathy. North Korea says it will not retaliate despite "reckless provocations" from the South, which held live-fire drills on the flashpoint island of Yeonpyeong. The North shelled the island last month after similar drills and had threatened more retaliation this time. But state media quoted the army as saying it was "not worth reacting". Hopefully, the north is all bark and no bite... content to play silly buggers. Brian Hanrahan, one of the most famous BBC correspondents - best known for his coverage of the Falklands War - has died at the age of 61 after a short battle against cancer. His reporting spanned the reshaping of Nato and the EU, as well as conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Middle East. As the BBC's Far East, and then Moscow correspondent, he watched dramatic changes unfolding in China and Russia. He covered Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall. 61 - still a chicken. But at least he made good use of the time he was here. Skywatchers around the world are gearing up to observe a rare total lunar eclipse. The best viewing conditions for the eclipse are from North and Central America, parts of northern Europe and East Asia. Astronomers say the Moon could turn a pink or blood red hue during the eclipse, which begins early on Tuesday morning GMT. It will be the first total lunar eclipse in three years. I saw the full moon rising in the east early last evening when it was still daylight. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says as many as 48 asylum seekers may have been killed when their boat sank last week off Christmas Island. So far 30 bodies have been recovered after the boat hit rocks and broke apart in stormy seas on Wednesday. Officials have been talking to the 42 survivors to try to determine how many more people may still be missing. Ms Gillard said around 90 people were now thought to have been on the boat, but some bodies might not be recovered. Desperate people do desperate things. Thank your lucky stars you don't live in countries like the ones they flee. Helsinki airport had 188cm (six feet) of snow last winter but the last time it was forced to close because of the weather was in 2003. That closure lasted for half an hour. This winter planes have been taking off and landing as normal despite an unusually heavy snowfall in December - 65cm (more than two feet). How do they do it? Read the article here. A dog in Germany has given birth to 17 puppies. Etana, the Rhodesian Ridgeback from Ebereschenhof, north of Berlin had nine dogs and eight bitches. The litter is unusual in that all were born naturally with no need for a Caesarian section and all have survived. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a hunting dog originating from Zimbabwe and it was originally bred to help hunt lions. God must have been having a bad hair day when he failed to give dogs 17 nipples.

My Brazilian mate Joao wrote: Good day. I have been a lot busy those days so I didn’t visit the Net or write to friends as much as I’d like to do, but I’m still here on Earth. This mail is to wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Good day is Brazilian for g'day. :o) Joao made this graphic which I think admirably expresses the innocence and vitality of youth.

Back from shopping... mostly Averil's. Anyway, Santa was there sitting on his big red throne and I asked him if I could take a photo. At first he said, "You'll have to ask my boss (the official photographer)", but then he relented and gave me the two finger peace sign. Check it out. It's a great shot. Ask and ye shall receive, right? Lemme tellya something... never leave home without your compact camera.

Well, I think that made my day, and now I feel all kinda Christmassy. What a nice man. How many Santas have you seen giving the peace sign? He must have been a flower power boi when he was a little Santa.

Kitchen time again. Bacon and eggs and chips. Actually, when I bought the bacon the girl behind the counter said, "We've got the free range bacon or the normal bacon." So I asked her what the difference was, and she explained that the free range bacon was from pigs that roamed freely around and wallowed in mud and did all the normal piggy things. But the regular bacon was from caged pigs. So I said, "But they've both met the same end... they're both dead." She insisted that the free range bacon was from happy pigs. Okay, so I bought the free range bacon. Gary

December 20, 2010. Oh yes, and another thing about the old red rattlers. Visitors to Sydney were often amazed to see the old trains whizzing around with all doors wide open, but we took it for granted. These days, all trains are fitted with automatic doors that only open and close when the train is stationary. All windows are sealed shut and the carriages are air conditioned. They are also double deckers. All stations are 8 carriages in length so I dunno what the transport department's gonna do when Sydney's population doubles again.

I just happened on an old pic of the Harbor Bridge way back in the early days, with a red rattler crossing as traffic, including two bicycles, made its way in the opposite direction. This is a classic! Compare that to this more modern pic of Harbor Bridge traffic. Note that the railway lines on the right have been removed to make way for more south-bound cars. On the far right is a pedestrian walkway. It's pretty amazing to think this giant structure was commenced back in the 1920s when the north side was little more than a small village. Now North Sydney is a city in its own right.

And here's a pic of Sydney Harbor Bridge with no traffic. Instead, the deck was invaded by picnickers for a special day called A Breakfast Picnic on the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Averil thought it was a silly idea but I disagreed. I still think it's a great publicity stunt.

When I visit Sydney on the Odyssey (remember that?) I'll use public transport to get around. It's way too difficult to use a car. Best to park it somewhere and leave it. You can buy a ticket that allows you unlimited travel on trains, light rail, ferries and buses which is cool. Taxis are too bloody expensive.

But I must say that I tend to favor visiting more remote areas of Oz than the big cities... to see the places less seen and travel the roads less traveled. You can be fined for lighting a campfire in Pitt Street ya know. Meanwhile, I've used up almost a gig of space on AO so far so you can imagine how big the damn site's gonna be when I finally get serious. Hehe. Oh well, it keeps me amused.

NC Art sent the above pic, together with 21 others. Impress your neighbors !  The German company "Style your Garage" makes posters for your garage door.  Prices vary from $199 to $399 for a double door. I turned all the pics into an album which you can check out here.

Beeb time: South Korea will begin a military exercise on an island close to the border with North Korea in the coming hours, Yonhap news agency reports. You wanna play games? Okay, let's play. Suicide attackers have targeted Afghan military bases in two cities, leaving 13 members of the security forces dead, along with at least five assailants. In the northern city of Kunduz, suicide bombers stormed an army recruitment centre, sparking a long gun battle. On the outskirts of Kabul, attackers ambushed an army bus outside the country's main recruitment centre. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, which President Hamid Karzai called "criminal". And I call insane. More than 100 people have been charged with child pornography offences in Austria after police seized material from computers across the country. Those arrested were aged 18 to 70 and included five teachers, officials said. The 107 people arrested are accused of downloading images of child sex abuse from a server in Luxembourg. If child sex is not an oxymoron, what is? I just don't get it. Australia needed only 50 minutes on the fourth day to take England's last five wickets and wrap up a 267-run win in the third Ashes (Cricket) Test at the Waca. The emphatic victory levels the five-match series at 1-1, with the contest moving to Melbourne on Boxing Day. Neh, neh, neh, neh, neeeh, neh. Now here's a treat... one of the best articles I've ever read... Understanding Americans from a British perspective. Check it out here

Just back from Gangga Marrang Aboriginal art and culture gallery. Nope, most of the artists contacted by phone don't want their works photographed. They asked me to come back after Christmas but I won't bother. Meanwhile, it's quite blustery today and Bluey got shoved around a bit.

Julian Assange. Judas or hero? Depends on your perspective. Some American politicians are calling for his execution. Methinks they protesteth too loudly. I'm not willing to go as far as to bestow him with hero status, or to fully sanction what he has done, but I do find it curiously fascinating that the leaks are being devoured by the media like a starving bear that has just woken from hibernation. And yet the media has escaped official condemnation. Don't you find that curious? If the bureaucrats are so incensed by what Wikileaks has done, why not blame the media for being an accessory? If the leaks are a crime, then why is Assange guilty and not the media? I think I know the answer to that one, and it's one reason why I find this story so intriguing. Kinda like a Watergate only a thousand times bigger.

I watched a wonderful program on SBS telly last night called Who Do You Think You Are? A well known Australian actor/comedian Shane Bourne decided to trace his ancestry and find out something about his grandfather. He visited various institutions that kept records of this and that and discovered that his grandfather was a musican and actor. But that's not all. He was also a crook... a conman and a fraud. Hehe. But every time he got out of the clink he went on to commit even bigger and grander crimes. He raised capital for various companies, starting with 35,000 pounds for one, and then moved up to the millions. The companies never materialized and he made off with the loot. But eventually he saw the error of his ways and became respectable. At 70 he married a very nice lady 20 years his junior and together they operated and managed a boarding house with 70 guests. He died aged 95. All rather fascinating stuff, and Shane thought it was all rather amusing. Hehe.

Here's Shane Bourne (with the gray hair) and Maurie Fields back in 1989 with a segment of The Great Aussie Joke. I just love the one about the cannibals.

And now it's almost 5pm and time to think about kitchen duties. Fish n chips. Last night, I cooked steaks and onions for THEM and I had an Indian thingy that old Ken gave to Averil, and Averil gave to me because she doesn't like spicy foods, especially anything with chilli. This thing - Tadka Daal - was in a packet that you microwave - lentils and various vegies and spices - a traditional Indian breakfast so it said on the packet. HOT! But tasty. And I spent a while in the loo this morning as a consequence. It was nice though. Gary

December 19, 2010. The old red rattlers, the trains that transported millions of commuters around metropolitan Sydney for 60 years. I remember them well, and traveled on them daily for several years during the 50s and 60s. If you mentioned a red rattler to kids these days they'd think you were talking about a snake.

Thanks to NC Art for that little gem. Meanwhile, the DADT vote means that it's been repealed in the US, which sooner or later was inevitable. As someone wrote on Justin's blog, homophobia belongs in the gutter with all the other hatreds. If Don't Ask Don't Tell was a way to rid the military of openly gay soldiers, its repeal is a way to rid the military of openly bigoted soldiers.

Beeb time: US senators repeal the '"don't ask, don't tell" ban on openly gay people serving in the military, days after a similar move by the House. There ya go. Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo orders foreign peacekeepers to leave the country, escalating a dispute over last month's presidential election. The village witchdoctor made him to do it. Travellers face chaotic journeys as heavy snow falls across the UK, although some outgoing Heathrow flights are expected to resume from 0600 GMT. Oregon Richie reports: There are and has been back-to-back storms in the west and the weather for travel is atrocious... the passes are all a major mess extending down south into California and more are on the way.  Driving around town here is utterly treacherous at the moment even with 4 WD and it's not cold enough, really, and possibly the worst navigation conditions around town that I can recall.  It's lovely stuff for the recreational crowd at ski areas but it's awful for anything else. Bank of America has stopped handling payments for whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, joining several other major financial institutions. It said it acted because "Wikileaks may be engaged in activities that are... inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments". In response, Wikileaks urged its supporters to stop doing business with the bank - one of the world's largest. MasterCard, PayPal and other companies earlier cut off Wikileaks' payments. Scaredy cats. England face a monumental task to avoid defeat in the third Ashes (Cricket) Test in Perth after slumping to 81-5 in pursuit of an improbable victory target of 391. A Mike Hussey century and 95 from Shane Watson lifted Australia to 309 all out in their second innings on day three. A week or so ago, the Brits thought we were dead and buried. Hehe. US diplomatic cables newly released by Wikileaks are sharply critical of both the Sri Lankan government and the now defeated Tamil Tiger rebels. The cables dating from 2007 suggest that the state colluded in paramilitary activities including killings, child trafficking and organised prostitution. Meanwhile, the Tamil Tigers used systematic forced conscription during the war, which ended in 2009. And you and I are not supposed to know about that?

Now here's something a little different... a urinal that was removed from a restaurant due to customer complaints.

It's been a quiet day today, ladies and genitals... not much happening. You can blame me for that, I suppose, because I haven't been inspired to DO much. I keep telling myself that I really must get OUT THERE with my cameras and take pics of whatever's happening over the holiday season. Okay... so I got the guilts just now and checked the local council's what's on list. There's a new art gallery in Taree called Gangga Marrang, the first indigenous art and culture center in Taree with an exhibition by local artists. I have an appointment to be there at 1pm Monday (tomorrow). See? I do get off my tired old butt sometimes. There are quite a few talented Aboriginal artists here in the Manning Valley, and some of them will be there tomorrow, so it could be interesting. I did a shoot of some of Gangga Marrang's stuff at the local Art Gallery a couple of years ago. 

It's Carols in the Park tonight in Taree but it's a bit cloudy and cool. I dunno if I should be shoving my camera in the faces of strangers. I'll leave that to the pros. Anyway, I've never figured out whey they make so much bloody racket singing Silent Night.

Here we go again. When I was a kid, the Salvation Army Band used to walk the streets of my suburb in Sydney and play carols on Christmas Eve. There was very little traffic in those days and the Sallies could stand there for quite a while doing their thing. Even if a car did come, it would slow down and drive around them. All the neighbors would stand at their front gates watching the show and singing along. It really made Christmas feel like Christmas. I've not seen anything like that since I was a kid. And then before bed I would check to make sure dad didn't forget to put a glass of port and a slice of Christmas cake at the base of the chimney for Santa. Gary

December 18, 2010. Fancy that... Christmas day just a week away. That's the problem with shopping at this time of year. The mall has Christmas music playing through the speakers... same old rehashed stuff from last year and the year before that. If I hear Bing Crosby one more time I'll scream.

I forgot to mention yesterday that I checked some of the comments on Cockatoo Paul's Youchewb site. One bloke asked if Paul clipped the cocky's wings to stop him flying away. No, he doesn't. Paul has had Mr Pickles for 20 years and the two are inseparable. He said clipping the bird's wings would be dangerous because the bird needs to escape any potential threat when they're spending time in the bush together. Anyway, Mr Pickles knows a good thing when he's on it, and he's happy to stick with it. He's free to fly away anytime he chooses but he chooses to remain with his best mate.

There are a few cockies around Taree but not many compared to the giant flocks out west. They can be a farmer's nightmare. I saw one outside a shop one time, sitting on his perch and saying "hello" to passers by. They responded with "hello" so obviously he thought they were mimicking him. Hehe.

Let's do a Beeb: Nearly 60 people have been killed in a series of attacks by US drones in the past 24 hours in Pakistan's Khyber tribal district, officials say. At least 50 died in three unmanned air strikes in the Tirah Valley, a day after seven others were killed nearby. Security officials say all the dead in the attacks are militants - a claim that cannot be independently confirmed. US drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal region have increased under the presidency of Barack Obama, often occurring several times every week. Scary stuff, yes? The widow of a businessman who had been the single-largest beneficiary of Bernard Madoff's colossal Ponzi scheme has agreed to return $7.2bn (£4.5bn). Barbara Picower said Madoff's fraud was "deplorable" and promised to return money accrued over 35 years of investing with Madoff. The $7bn amounts to about one-third of the money investors' lost in the scandal. That's very generous of her, but I imagine she's still got a few bob left in the kick. Los Angeles detectives investigating the alleged "grim sleeper" serial killer have said they expect to hear from up to 1,000 women after publicising photos found in his house. Police have released images of 160 women in an effort to identify them - and to determine whether to charge Lonnie Franklin over more deaths. The mechanic has pleaded not guilty to 10 murders between 1985 and 2007. Most of the victims were prostitutes who were sexually assaulted and shot. I'm constantly amazed by what a twisted human mind is capable of doing. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says he is worried about an attempt to extradite him to the United States. Mr Assange, 39, is free on bail in the UK while facing extradition proceedings to Sweden over sex allegations. Mr Assange denies the Swedish allegations, made by two women, and says the case is politically motivated. He said: "The big risk, the risk we have always been concerned about, is onwards extradition to the United States. And that seems to be increasingly likely." He said the US was conducting an "aggressive" and "illegal" investigation into him and the website. Yes, the Yanks want that boy real bad. That's to be expected when you mess with Uncle Sam. A woman who cannot feel afraid because of a missing structure in her brain could help scientists discover treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research published in Current Biology showed the woman felt no fear in a variety of scary situations. These included exposure to snakes and spiders, horror films and a "haunted house". The only thing to fear is fear itself, yes? England batsman Ian Bell says the tourists need early wickets on Saturday to get back into the third Ashes (Cricket) Test. England were skittled for a paltry 187 on day two and trail Australia by 200 runs with the hosts 119-3 in their second innings in Perth. Oz fights back! Go Aussie!

Did you see the pic of Santa reading his list of requests for Christmas on Justin's blog? One bloke asked Santa to give him some of the telephone numbers of the boys on his "naughty" list. :o)

There's one Christmas joke about Santa having had a real bad hair day. Everything was going wrong. Then there was a knock at the door and irritable Santa begrudgingly answered it. He saw an angel standing there with a Christmas tree. "Hello, Santa," said the angel. "Isn't it a lovely day? I have a present for you... a nice Christmas tree. Where would you like me to stick it?" And so began the tradition of the angel on top of the Christmas tree.

Every now and then I check used campervans to see what's available and for what sort of money. This Toyota is pretty cool for $7,500. Well equiped and professionally fitted. Cyclone cover? Jeez, talk about playing it safe. It's a bit long on the tooth but seems to be well looked after, and it's got all the goodies. Oh well, one of these days.

I was in the kitchen when Mr Grumpy walked through and took at look at what I had on the bench. It's diced pork, a bunch of shredded stir-fry vegies and a sachet of honey and sesame sauce. I told Lindsay what it was and he grunted. Typical. He's such an asshole. Anyway, it'll be nice, and stir-fries are sooooo easy to cook... the next best thing to instant. 6 minutes and it's all done. And fresh! Almost no washing up... just the wok and a few plates. The trick is to get the wok quite hot before cooking the meat (stirring constantly with a wooden spoon) so that it fries and seals quickly in the oil - and doesn't stew. Then add the vegies for 2 minutes. Then the sauce. Lower the heat and warm through. Done.

And there goes another Satdee. Cloudy Satdee actually, and rain tomorrow. But the rest of the week looks pretty good. Gary

December 17, 2010. Just watched Jackie Evancho, the little girl with the big voice, on America's Got Talent. Definitely worth checking out again. She's incredible - one in a billion.

And now for something completely different... Cockatoo Paul with something you always wanted to know - How to Make a Didgeridoo.

We have lots of oo's in Oz... kangaroos, wallaroos, cockatoos, didgeridoos, Woolloomooloo, Dunnedoo and just plain ol' loo. The loo in Oz is also referred to as the dunny.

Beeb time: The founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is set free on bail as he fights extradition to Sweden over sex assault allegations. I note Assange has Aussie barrister Geoffrey Robertson acting for him. They don't come any better than Robertson. US President Barack Obama hails "significant progress" in the war in Afghanistan but says it remains "a very difficult endeavour". That's putting it mildly. Blake Edwards, director of The Pink Panther and Breakfast at Tiffany's, dies in southern California at the age of 88. He certainly made his mark, and that's about all any of us can do. EU leaders agree to set up a permanent mechanism to bail out any member state whose debt problems threaten the 16-nation eurozone. I guess that makes sense. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Interpol confirms it has received information from Iraq about possible attacks by al-Qaeda cells in the US and Europe. Enemies without borders. It's a worry. More than 30,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon took office four years ago, the government says. Almost 12,500 have been killed so far this year, a sharp increase on 2009. Mexico's attorney-general said the number of deaths was "regrettable", but showed that the security forces were having success in their fight against the drugs gangs. I can't even begin to imagine something like that happening in Oz. Grace Mugabe is suing a Zimbabwean newspaper over its reporting of claims released by Wikileaks she had made "tremendous profits" from the country's diamond mines. The president's wife is demanding $15m (£9.6m) from the Standard newspaper. It quoted former US ambassador James McGee as reporting Andrew Cranswick, head of a British mining firm as saying: "There is a small group of high-ranking Zimbabwean officials who have been extracting tremendous diamond profits from Chiadzwa [mine]". What a joke. The US House of Representatives has voted to repeal a ban on openly gay men and women serving in the US military. The Democratic-led House voted 250-175, sending the bill, which is backed by President Barack Obama, to the Senate for approval. The law is "the only law in the country that requires people to be dishonest or be fired if they choose to be honest", said Democratic Representative Jared Polis, of Colorado. Hear, hear

Yes, Geoffrey Robertson QC is the lawyer's lawyer, specializing in Human Rights cases. Here's a most interesting article that delves into the backgrounds of both Assange and Robertson, and suggests that it was inevitable their paths should cross. What a fascinating bunch of creatures human beings are.

Back from inflating Bluey's tires and topping up the tank. $40 for 32 liters which is about $5 a gallon. Oregon Richie tells me it's $3 a gallon "over there". When I arrived I spotted a rather unusual vehicle waiting its turn at the bowser so I whipped out the little Fuji and took a pic.

The shopping center was packed today. I guess I shouldn't be surprised... it's part Christmas rush and part vacationers in the area. I dunno how many tourists we get around the Mid North Coast this time of year but I suspect it's quite substantial. It's a strip of coast with more beaches than you can poke a stick at. Plus lakes, rivers, harbors, national parks, mountains, rainforests and all that kinda stuff. Tourism is undoubtedly a big money spinner around these parts at this time of year, which is great for the local economy. I imagine the caravan park at Old Bar is booked solid.

The reason Christmas surprises me is that I'm not involved in it. No prezzies, no tree, no cards, no carols, no nuthin'. Santa was at the mall today inviting kids to sit on his lap and have their photo taken. He's been around a long time, that bloke, and still wears the same clobber. Oh well, whatever floats ya boat.

So here we are, 5pm on a Friday. When I was a kid, that meant fish 'n' chips cos it was a sin to eat meat on Fridays. Sheesh. It's meat pies and chips tonight with tamaaaaaaata sauce.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed Cockatoo Paul and his didgeridoo lessons. I thought the cockatoo performed rather well for the camera too. Hehe. They're funny birds and quite intelligent. They live for about 80 years and make great pets. Bit screechy though when they get excited. Gary

December 16, 2010. This morning I added a few more pics to the first scrapbook page at the bottom of the page.

I remember being in the ABC TV carpark after The Climax's appearance on television and seeing one of the actors from the show getting into his car. It was a 10-year-old Holden. I was surprised because I thought everybody in showbiz was rich. No, no, no, no. Wrong!

Incidentally, Bluey is going rather jollily now. Is there such a word as jollily? There is now. Starts first go, zooms along nicely with no weird noises. But yesterday when I was headed to the shops, a young woman stepped off the kerb onto a marked pedestrian crossing. But she was on the other side of the very wide road, and I was just a few feet from the crossing, so I kept going. "You coulda fuckin' stopped," she yelled. Charming. I missed her by a mile. But she's obviously one of those nitwit nobodies who relishes the power of being a pedestrian with right of way.

She's like those drivers who jump on the horn to vent their spleen everytime another motorist makes a mistake. They insist that their right of way is sacred territory not to be transgressed under any circumstances. Horns are supposed to be a warning device, not a device for spleen venting.

Next January, it will be 2 years since I bought Bluey, and she's just about to click over 2000 kilometers. Most people do that in a month. Nissan suggests a service every 10000kms or 6 months. It'll be Bluey's 4th service after Christmas and she's only done 2000kms. Go figure.

Beeb time: The US is suing BP and other companies in an effort to recover billions of dollars in connection with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. No comment. More than 800 people have been arrested in central Moscow in an attempt to prevent further ethnic clashes over the shooting of a football fan, police say. The arrests came as groups of youths, many shouting nationalist slogans, gathered near a Moscow train station. Reminds me of the old Hollywood westerns where the young Indian braves were itching for war but the wise old men prefered the peace pipe. And so it goes. One of the two men convicted of plotting to blow up fuel tanks at New York's JFK airport has been sentenced to life in prison. A US District Court judge said the plan involving Abdul Kadir, a former member of Guyana's parliament, would have caused "unimaginable" devastation. Unimaginable is right. I can't even imagine what motivates people like Kadir. The US Senate has voted to open a debate on the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) between the US and Russia. The agreement restricts each nation to a maximum of 1550 deployed warheads, a cut of about 30% from a limit set eight years ago. The American and Russian presidents signed the treaty in April. Only 1550 each? Well, I feel much better now. Two new assessments are painting a bleak picture of the US-led war in Afghanistan, the day before the White House unveils its review of strategy. The Red Cross found armed groups were making life more difficult for Afghans. And US intelligence assessments reported by the New York Times suggest there is a limited chance of success unless Pakistan hunts down insurgents. I dunno what to say about that. Pakistan is on our side, right? At least 27 people have died after a boat carrying suspected asylum seekers crashed into rocks on Australia's Christmas Island. Australian Customs officials said 42 people had been rescued. Witnesses said they could do little to help as the boat, believed to be carrying Iranians and Iraqis, was smashed to pieces in rough seas. It wasn't a bunch of tourists on a pleasure cruise, I can tell you that. Neil Diamond is to be inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year alongside artists including Alice Cooper and Tom Waits. I was never a fan for whatever reason. Although I did like Cherry Cherry back in '67 when I was a DJ

Back from a haircut. "Back at 3pm" the sign on the door said. Thanks very much. I arrived at 2:20pm. So I had a beer at the nearby pub and took this pic. Check out the story that goes with it.

Meanwhile, I had an email from my sis in law. She's been researching the Kelly family tree. Seems my mother was born Ellen Kathleen Clampett. On her marriage certificate she was Ethel. On my birth certificate she was Helen. On my younger bro's birth certificate she was Ellen. No wonder my dad always called her Nell. Hehe. Saved a lot of confusion.

Hmmm, come to think of it, my dad was a Kelly who married a Clampett. My elder bro married an O'Neill. My second elder bro married a Bourke. My younger bro married a Hogan. Hehe. And they all had kids who married god knows who. Gets a bit complicated even after a few generations.

Time to don the chef hat again. Pork chops and spuds for THEM and I'll settle for noodles. I've been munching on stuff all day and I'm not hungry. Besides, I like noodles! Gary

December 15, 2010. Well, I had to sort out a few bugs with copying the family album onto CD for the family members. It's all done now, so they should get them by the end of the week in time for Christmas.

Meanwhile, NC Art wrote and attached this little gem (as well as the cartoon below):

Seems an old guy makes a rolling stop at a stop sign, and gets pulled over by a local policeman.  Guy hands the cop his driver's license, insurance verification, plus his concealed carry permit. 

"Okay, Mr. Smith," the cop says, "I see your CCW permit.  Are you carrying today?" 

"Yes, I am." 

"Well then, better tell me what you got." 

Smith says, "Well, I got a .357 revolver in my inside coat pocket.  There's a 9mm semi-auto in the glove box.  And, I've got a .22 magnum derringer in my right boot." 

"Okay," the cop says.  "Anything else?" 

"Yeah, back in the trunk, there's an AR15 and a shotgun.  That's about it." 

"Mr. Smith, are you on your way to or from a gun range...?" 


"Well then, what are you afraid of....?" 

"Not a damned thing..." 

Ohio Jace also wrote: Finally back on line after being hit by a virus in early December that screwed up my comp so badly the geek thought he might have to replace the hard-drive, but just wiped it instead (common practice in most cases). Whatever hit, locked up the comp, after filling the screen with pop-up pages. We had to remove the battery to stop it. The security came on, but could not stop the bastard. Anyway the geek managed to save most of my documents (some are scrambled, but not the important ones) and pictures.

People who create and distribute viruses are up there with the rest of the asshole low-life criminals who deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law. A pox on the bastards. All criminals deal in misery.

Jace also writes: Everyone here is busy with Christmas shopping except me. I AM DONE! I even dug an old Christmas tree out of storage and set it up. It is very old, plastic, and has no ornaments or room for ornaments. It does light up though with a bulb inside the tree, and it still works. There is no need to decorate the homestead the boys are grown and I am never home for the holiday. We go to Sean's in the morning, my brothers in the afternoon, and to my sisters for Christmas dinner so there is no need to be festive at home.

I'm done with Christmas shopping too, mainly because I don't do any to begin with. Bah humbug. Well, I gave my Red Bubble calendars to Averil, Stan the Lawn Man, and the doc, and the CDs to members of the family, but that's it. The rest of you get 365 days of Waffle.

Oh yes, and before I fergit, this is the cutest buddy pic I've ever seen

Beeb time: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is granted bail by a London court as he fights sexual assault claims, but will remain in custody until an appeal is heard. His inevitable book would have been fascinating anyway but now he's got an even bigger story to tell. Meanwhile, public support for the bloke is gaining momentum. At least 90 people are injured as police and protesters clash in Rome after Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi narrowly wins a vote of confidence. What a crazy world we live in. Former Kosovo Liberation Army commanders are accused of organ and drug trafficking in a draft report from the human rights body, the Council of Europe. Getting crazier by the minute. Life may have survived a cataclysmic global freeze some 700 million years ago in pockets of open ocean, say researchers. I don't remember that. Maybe I was busy or something. Fighter pilots may owe their ability to perform under pressure to the way their brains are wired-up, scans suggest. The study found differences in the white matter and connections of the brain's right hemisphere, compared with healthy volunteers who were not pilots. It is not clear whether pilots are born like that, or develop the differences as a result of their training. I think individual wiring applies to all of us... different strokes for different blokes. Canadian military helicopters have rescued more than 100 motorists trapped by snow on an Ontario highway, some for more than 24 hours in frigid weather. But nearly 200 remain on a 30km (18 mile) stretch of road, after a flash snow storm halted traffic on Monday morning. Motorists rescued from Highway 402 were taken to warming centres. Warming centers? Now there ya go, that's a new one for me! The Cuban government is launching its own online encyclopaedia, similar to Wikipedia, with the goal of presenting its view of the world and history. The new Spanish language website will be officially launched later on Tuesday but it is already up and running with nearly 20,000 entries on Imagine if every culture in the world had its own Wikipedia. What a confusing mess that would be! 

Yes, the confusion revolution. Information overload.

Remember when the Shuttle made an emergency landing in Cape Town? You don't? What's the matter with you? EVERYBODY remembers the Shuttle's emergency landing in Cape Town. Cody wrote me about it. He said, "You're not gonna believe this G, but the Shuttle just landed here." Don't you remember that? Sheesh. Well, here's the Youchewb vid just to refresh your memory. Thanks for the link Oregon Richie. I think we're dealing with a bunch of Alzheimer cases here.

Old Jimmy Dibble conked out yesterday aged 87. James read the first news broadcast on ABC TV in 1956. Twenty years later, he announced, "This is ABC National Television News in color." Now why would he say that if it was obvious? Well, almost everybody still had B&W TV sets back then. For over 3 decades he was the face of ABC TV news, and probably the most recognizable face on Aussie television. In one of his last interviews he said, "I'm just an ordinary bloke." Yeah, right. He was a fighter pilot during WWII and his great passion was playing the organ.

So, it's THAT time of day again. Fish cakes and chips tonight with a squeeze of lemon from our own tree. Gary

December 14, 2010. I received a CD of family pics from my sis in law today... pics of my younger bro Warren who died August 2009. I never knew him, and he never knew me, brothers yet strangers. He and his wife Mary had traveled the world. I was unaware of that. And he never knew that I was down to my last dollar living in poverty while he was posing for the camera on Hollywood Boulevarde. Instead he told me to "grow up". But the way we see people is a matter of perspective. Here's a transcript of the way my younger bro was seen by his son in his eulogy at the funeral:

In 40 years of knowing my dad, I only once saw him have a look of absolute terror. We were talking about dying. But this was years ago before my dad knew he had cancer. Dad was talking about his wife, my mum, when she had her cancer scare. I remember my dad's face lost all colour, and the lines in his face became tight and he said, "she could die".

In that moment I saw the incredible love my dad had for my mum, the fear and pain he felt, and the look of complete devotion to her. I thought to myself what a wonderful man.

Just a few short weeks ago, we had left the hospital for the last time and all hope was gone. Driving home I tried to make light of the situation and suggested he should have practiced the harp more. We started to cry and dad grabbed my hand and said, "there's nothing more I want to do, nothing more I want to see, I'm ready to go. I'm okay. I just wish I didn't have to cause my family so much pain." I expected to see the look of terror I'd seen once before but instead he was calm and only concerned for his family. What a wonderful man.

Mum and dad first laid eyes on each other when she was 7 and dad 8. Dad was dressed in a suit stuffing cake into his pockets - and apparently not making a good impression. 10 years later they met again and got married.

That was 43 years ago, 41 of those as husband and wife.

Dad would like me to say this: Mum, thank you for the love and care you gave dad when he needed it most. It was beautiful and sad at the same time and I could see what a difference it was making. I don't think dad has ever loved you deeper. You made his last days the best anyone could hope for.

My dad, a wonderful man.

Beeb time: Veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, the US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, dies following surgery to repair a tear in his aorta. As my doc said after I survived a heart attack, "You became aware of your mortality." Search crews from New Zealand call off the hunt for 17 missing fishermen from a South Korean trawler that sank in the Southern Ocean. It must have been a terrible decision to make. Chinese archaeologists have unearthed what they believe is a 2,400-year-old pot of soup, state media report. The liquid and bones were in a sealed bronze cooking vessel dug up near the ancient capital of Xian - home to the country's famed terracotta warriors. Tests are being carried out to identify the ingredients. An odourless liquid, believed to be wine, was also found. Some things haven't changed. Emergency workers in the US state of Indiana have rescued dozens of motorists trapped for hours after a heavy snow storm in the Midwest. High winds and snow were complicating rescue efforts, officials said. Fourteen deaths were attributed to the weather across the country. The roof of the Metrodome stadium in Minneapolis collapsed on Sunday after a snowfall of 17in (43cm). Ohio Jace and Oregon Richie have been telling me about the weather they're experiencing and I'm feeling guilty. Justin from Massachusetts wrote: The wind is so strong here that I got caught in a "wind tunnel" near home. . .and had to grab the sign post. . .the wind blew so hard I was off my feet, holding the pole, horizontal to the ground! I made it home. . .doing the breast stroke thru the wind. . .. honest. 

I watched footage of Oprah Winfrey's Melbourne welcome by her fans at Federation Square. She was blown away and said she had never experienced such a welcome in all her life. "Never in all my life," she repeated. And then she said of Australians, "Do you guys go to friendly school or something?" Hehe. The Oz government is hoping that Winfrey's presence down under will focus visitor attention on Oz as a tourist destination. One of her shows will be staged at the Sydney Opera House, renamed for the occasion as the Oprah House. People have been asked to avoid the area around Circular Quay but you can bet that will fall on deaf ears.

And now, ladies and genitals, let's have a little one-legged humor from Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

Cooked and peeled prawns tonight, with coleslaw and potato salad and seafood sauce... except for no-I-don't-like-prawns Lindsay. He wants a bit of cold leftover chicken. He thinks this joint is a restaurant where you order from a menu. As to Averil, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital last night but not admitted. They gave her a bit of a prod and a poke and sent her home again. Her "angina" is nothing more than normal aches and pains suffered by older people. I'm not sure whether she's relieved or disappointed. Hehe.

And that's it for today. Goodbye Ruby Chewsday. Gary

December 13, 2010. I updated the scrapbook with a pic of my first car. Scroll down to check out the scan of The Illustrated London News 1951 that I bought a few years ago as a keepsake. I did have a pic of my actual Morris but lost it somewhere, sometime, somehow. The Beetle was my first Beetle but not my first car.

Not long ago I watched a Youchewb vid of a 1952 Morris Oxford being restored, and the bloke commented on how slow the old Morris was... 30 seconds to reach 50mph hehe. I remember one time I had 9 kids in the thing as we headed up a steep hill to the beach and a bloke on a bicycle overtook us. 41bhp at 3800rpm from a side-valve 1400cc donk in a car weighing 21cwt (just over a ton). Not real quick.

Speaking of Youchewb vids, Oregon Richie sent this link this morning. It's about one child's most exciting day.

Not much happening at the Beeb today. Journos have to invent stories such as "Bloomberg (mayor of NY) rules out US presidency". Hehe. Actually, it makes you realize just how serious a slow news day can be for the media. You have X number of pages to fill and if there's nothing much happening, what the hell do you do?

I watched School Spectacular last night, a 90 minute extravaganza that features the dance and music talents of kids from various schools in NSW. This is its 27th year and it was stunning as usual. I had to keep reminding myself that I was watching kids and not seasoned professionals. As the show progressed I kept wishing that I could share it with my Aussie Odyssey audience, and I went through more than just a couple of tissues lemme tellya. Those kids were absolutely astonishing, which made me wonder where kids like those were when I was a kid. I think it has a lot to do with technology. When the Beatles and The Stones appeared on the scene there was suddenly a rash of bands in Oz. Kids came out of nowhere to form groups. Pop shows blossomed on TV and radio went Top 40. Juke Boxes appeared in milk bars. But since then, the internet and digital technology have taken over. Kids walk around with iPods and whatever else. Music is everywhere... CDs, DVDs, music clips. Kids are emulating their idols. Music is cool and to be a musician is even cooler.

There were 3,500 kids performing at the School Spectacular staged at the Sydney Entertainment Center, and all of them were fantastic... dancers, singers, choirs and musicians. The sets and props were stunning and the choreography was brilliant, as was the cinematography. It was as good as anything I've ever seen or heard in my life, and probably better. Potentially talented kids have always existed but these days that potential is recognized, nurtured and perfected by schools. Hallelujah.

I still have this stomach bug but it got a bit better after a fizzy drink of ginger beer cos it made me burp, which made a diff. So maybe it's a gas thing. Meanwhile, Averil phoned to say she called the doc about a problem and the doc told her to call an ambulance and get to hospital. The doc does home visits on Thursdays only so he can't be expected to dump his patients and rush out to see people willy nilly. So Averil said to me, "I dunno what to do!" Hello? I said, "Averil, you only have two choices." "Yes, but it's such a bother." Sheesh. Anyway, she's in hospital now getting checked out.

By the way, I heard on a science program the other night that a can of regular soft drink has 15 teaspoons of sugar in it! Eeek! Lindsay drinks a lot of cola and he's about the thickness of a pencil. Gary

December 12, 2010. More hours spent today scanning old photos... such a pain. But it's all done now except for a few stragglers that will be snail mailed to me by rellos. I phoned 3 rellos today to let them know what I'm doing, and to fill any gaps with stuff they might have.

Meanwhile, I'm not feeling hundreds today... a bit of a tummy prob... nothing too serious, though. And it's hot. BLOODY HOT. And humid.

It's late, so let's do a Beeb: One person has been killed and two others injured in two explosions that rocked the centre of the Swedish capital, Stockholm. A car blew up near the busy shopping street of Drottninggatan and another blast followed nearby minutes later. A local news agency, TT, said it had received a threatening e-mail shortly before the blasts, which called for "mujahideen", or Islamist fighters, to rise up in Sweden and Europe. Attacking the country over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed drawn by Swedish artist Lars Vilks as well as Sweden's military presence in Afghanistan, the e-mail promised Swedes would "die like our brothers and sisters". The attack failed to cause as much damage as it could have, but it's a worry. Our greatest enemy these days is the twisted human mind, and there seems to be no shortage of those. No jack boots, no Nazi salutes, no uniforms... nothing to distinguish them from anyone else. One of convicted US fraudster Bernard Madoff's sons has committed suicide in his New York apartment, a family lawyer has said. Mark Madoff, 46, was found hanged in Manhattan on the second anniversary of his father's arrest. Bernard Madoff, 72, is serving a 150-year prison term. Karma. Street protests in Spain call for the release of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who faces extradition from Britain to Sweden. I think the fat lady is tuning up. Two official photographs marking Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton have been released by the royals. The portraits at St James's Palace - one casual, one formal - were taken by Mario Testino, whose previous subjects include Diana, Princess of Wales. It's who ya know, ya know. A school in the Middle East and a new book by a British children's writer share a common vision of peace based on a new generation of Arab and Jewish children growing up together as friends. Hope at last, and not before time. Read the whole article here

Well, as I said, I'm not a very well little Vegemite at the mo but I've gotta cook for the troops anyway. Nothing for me tho... maybe a sandwich or something just to keep on keeping on. Seeya tomorrow. Gary

December 11, 2010. I received the most touching response by a reader of Green Room this morning. He's a retired high-school history teacher who has decided to go back to his chosen profession next year as a part-timer. During his career, he helped many of his students with their personal problems, including being gay. This guy is a rough and tough, straight-as-an-arrow biker, not to be messed with. But he has a softer, more sensitive side buried almost out of sight by the beard and the gruff exterior. I've removed certain references to protect his identity. Here's part of what he wrote:

I wrote in my first email that I never understood why boys in particular felt that I had a listening side that matched the description in their teen mags of a teacher you can talk to.  I know that a few times I’ve been ashamed of myself when I interviewed several boys who lacked the academic interest that I prized.  Why had they taken my option in Year 10 ?  – I wanted the status of a respected teacher who consistently gets great results in the external exam system.  But a few of my students just wanted the security and protection that I and a few other teachers could give them.  If I was fanatical for my subject I was also the guy who parked a big bike outside his classroom window and took no prisoners when it came to discipline in my classroom - my favourite education lecturer when I was a student teacher told us, “without discipline you are no teacher”, and I knew what sort of teacher I was always going to be.  But I’m glad that I found that I could care for the individuals who needed more from me.

The first boy who taught me to be a real teacher shocked me to self-disgust after he told me that he wanted to be in my subject class because he was safe in my classroom.  When I rejected this, not a good enough reason to take history, he broke down and put his arms tightly around me.  I froze at the inappropriate situation I was in, but I am also a father with a son who always hugged each other a lot.  My instinct was to hug him too, and hang the consequences.  When he let go of me he cried again, this time because he felt humiliated by the pathetic mess he must have looked to me.   When I decided I was going to give this boy all the support I humanly could his parents invited me to their home to become their friend.  We live in a small town and they refused be seen in town with their son because they couldn’t handle the jeers when he was called AIDS-boy and such like in the street by his class mates.  I pulled out all the stops and helped him to finish school at 16.  Today he’s securely employed as a good chef, happy in a settled gay relationship.  I value what we achieved together as one of the all time highs in my career.

So I’m giving it one more shot.   I’m realistic about this final stint.  But anyway thanks for Green Room. 

Well, there ya go. One little pebble can create quite a few ripples.

Have you ever stopped to think that everything we eat is mixed with saliva? YUCK!

AND, before I fergit, I've added a few more favorites to my Red Bubble page that are worth a peek. There are some wonderful photographers out there ya know.

Let's check the Beeb: China describes the awarding of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo as a "political farce". It's called perspective hehe. Police in London launch a "major criminal investigation" into disorder during recent protests over tuition fees, including an attack on Prince Charles' car. Yes, I'm sure some people use a legitimate protest as an excuse to vent their dickhead spleens. Is it possible to have a dickhead spleen? Oh well... whatever. Mexican security forces kill a notorious drugs baron during heavy fighting in the western state of Michoacan. Another one down. Good riddance. The original hand-written lyrics to Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin' have been sold at a New York auction for $422,500 (£267,400). And he ain't even dead yet! Former US President Bill Clinton has urged Democrats to support a deal President Obama negotiated with Republicans on tax cuts. "I don't believe there is a better deal out there," Mr Clinton said following a private meeting with President Obama. Bill supports the bill. Boom, boom

Oh yes... Justin posted a link the other day to a bunch of animals singing Deck The Halls. It's one hell of an editing job and quite fun.

I spent the past few hours scanning more family photos. Such a laborious task! But once it's done it's done. Finito, kaputski. I think every kid should be given a camera for Christmas and taught how to use it.

Kerry O'Brien retired from ABC TV's 7.30 Report last night after 15 years as host and interviewer. "Why don't you just keep talking and fill up the whole half hour?" former Prime Minister Paul Keating said during an interview hehe. "Your questions are longer than the answers." O'Brien was like a dog with bone, determined to get the answer he wanted. He didn't always succeed but it was always very entertaining stuff. And he always had a ready laugh when he was out-maneuvered. He's in his 60s now but not retiring altogether... he's moving over to ABC's current affairs program Four Corners which is aired weekly. It's an in-depth investigative program so he should enjoy that. He's very good. There's not an Aussie politician who doesn't respect him despite the clashes. O'Brien is leaving pretty big shoes to fill but I reckon Chris Uhlmann is up to the task. He's very cool and accomplished, and not intimidated in the least by anyone no matter who they are.

Kerry interviewed Aussie actor Geoffrey Rush the other night, the consumate performer who never ceases to amaze me with his genius for "becoming" the person he's playing no matter how weird or eccentric they are.

Well, kitchen time again. T-bones for THEM and a burger for me. Gary

December 10, 2010. Justin loves my first Beetle hehe.

I spent much of today digitizing my dad's family photo album for the benefit of the rest of the family. I'll eventually post all the stuff on AO and they - people I've not even met yet - can download it. Meanwhile, here's a pic of my dad taken about 90 years ago.

It's been raining today, but nothing compared to the rain they've been getting out west of NSW. Queanbeyan, where I used to live back in '94, is divided in two, with the main town center under water. Many other towns are flooded as well, and farmers have had crops wiped out after dealing with drought for the past decade. This was supposed to be their year of salvation. Yeah, right. It's not a good time for Oz. I heard on the radio this morning that these are the worst floods for 50 years.

Okies, Beeb time: The Nobel Prize committee prepares to name Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo this year's Peace Prize winner, despite continuing anger from Beijing. Life would be pretty dull if we all agreed on everything, I suppose. A car carrying Prince Charles and Camilla in central London is attacked by protesters after MPs vote through a huge rise in tuition fees in England. There are limits to making a point. The protesters get no sympathy from me. North Korean workers may be helping Burma build secret missile and nuclear sites in remote locations, according to cables released by Wikileaks. Oooo! Now that's what I call serious stuff! A US federal jury has convicted three police officers and cleared two over the killing of a man after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005. Interesting story which you can read here. The US government will face significant legal and diplomatic hurdles if it attempts to prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in connection with the massive internet dump of secret US documents, legal scholars, defence lawyers and former prosecutors say. Mr Assange is currently held in Britain awaiting possible extradition to Sweden on sex crime charges. But the US authorities have made it clear they hope to prosecute him in the US over the release of thousands of classified diplomatic cables. As our former PM Kevin Rudd said last night on TV news, it wasn't Assange himself who released the cables, it was the Americans. The thick plottens. Hehe. James Bond was never this good. Attempts to repeal a ban on openly gay men and women serving in the US military received a serious setback on Thursday when a key vote failed. The senate voted 57-40 to block debate, thus preventing a vote on the issue itself. Democrats needed 60 votes to overcome Republican delaying tactics. Fuck the Republican delaying tactics. They're fighting a losing battle. It will happen sooner or later despite the homophobes. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has criticised the arrest of the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as "an attack on freedom of expression". President Lula said the internet publication of secret US cables had "exposed a diplomacy that appeared untouchable". He also criticised other governments for failing to condemn the arrest. Hear, hear!

Is it here here or hear hear? I checked Wikipedia. It's hear hear. I hear politicians in parliament saying "hear, hear" when they agree with something, and I've  often wondered what it's all about. The other thing that's puzzled me for years is hip hip or pip pip when people make a toast to someone. Hehe. It's all so confusing. Here's what Wikipedia says: "Hip Hip Hooray" is the traditional response to "Three cheers for..." in many cultures, with the initiator calling out "Hip Hip" three times and each time the others responding "Hooray". To this day, it is in common usage at children's birthday parties in many parts of the English-speaking world.

Well, kitchen time again. By the way, that coleslaw last night was yummy. Good stuff! Gary

December 9, 2010. Pay day/bills day/shopping day/doc day - and yes, my blood pressure is perfect. But he spotted a couple of skin cancers that need to be removed surgically. Dangit. One is on my shin and the other on my neck.

Oh yes, I posted the final chapter of the scrapbook today. Short and sweet. Those of you who have known me for the past decade or more will know that a lot of the stories remain untold. That's okay. You know what they say about sleeping dogs.

Anyway, it's late so let's do a quick Beeb: The US is monitoring China's expanding role in Africa, and sees it as "aggressive," the latest US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reveal. And the Wikileaks battle continues to rage. Web attacks by a group of activists targeting firms that withdrew services from Wikileaks disrupt Mastercard and Visa. Like I said, the battle continues to rage. Traffic through the Panama Canal is suspended for the first time in more than 20 years because of heavy rain. Ask any NSW farmer lately about heavy rain and you'll get a few colorful stories. John Lennon fans have sung his songs, laid flowers and lit candles on the 30th anniversary of the Beatle's death. Vigils have been held in New York, where the music legend was shot dead, and his home city of Liverpool. "I really do feel like I got a sense of peace here tonight," said Adam Byrne, 34, from Liverpool. "I think his message is still as strong as ever." Yes, it takes a lot more than a bullet to silence a person like Lennon

The Wikileaks drama is getting more interesting by the minute. I watched special program on Oz TV last night about various developments which prompted me to write this piece to Oregon Richie this morning: As to Wikileaks, people forget that the leaked cables are becoming public knowledge because they are being published by the established media. Most people know about the leaks because they see them in the press, not because they visit the Wikileaks site. So why aren't the politicians and bureaucrats calling the established media criminals? I'll tell you why. They're afraid of the media but they're not afraid of one man named Julian Assange. It's all about "shoot the messenger." Fact is, the press is doing the same thing Julian is... exposing confidential material. I think the witch hunt stinks, actually.

Meanwhile, the fat lady ain't sung yet, so stay tooned. Whatever you think of Wikileaks, it's one helluva story.

Okies, kitchen time. Too bloody hot (33C today) for a hot dinner so we're having cold chicken with potato salad and coleslaw. No wukkers. Gary

December 8, 2010. The scrapbook is updated again. Short and sweet, pretty much to the point with a few web pics to tart it up a bit. I don't have any usable pics of that period. Actually, I sold my Olympus 35mm SLR back in '95 because I was broke.  It was an OM1. Pretty good camera with a Vivitar zoom.

Justin posted a great Youchewb vid on his blog, a lovely surprise for a bunch of American shoppers and diners. Actually, I'd be very surprised to see something like that happening in Oz.

Beeb time: The United States is abandoning efforts to persuade Israel to renew a freeze on settlement-building as part of efforts to revive Middle East peace talks. Washington had been negotiating with Israel to try to meet Palestinian conditions for restarting direct talks. A senior US official told the BBC that attempts to get Israel to renew a partial freeze on settlement construction in occupied territory had failed. Is anyone surprised? Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who faces rape allegations, is denied bail by a court in London. Meanwhile...  But despite losing many links in its supply chain, Wikileaks remains defiantly online. So how has it avoided the noose that the US government seems determined to make for it? "It has moved stuff to Europe where things are out of the reach of the US government," said Paul Mutton, a security expert at internet research company Netcraft. It has created additional IP addresses, the raw information internet routers use to find content. And it now has some 14 DNS servers which do the same job that everyDNS refused to do. "It will be harder to take Wikileaks down because they are using so many domain name servers. Anyone who wanted to shut them down would have to target companies in 14 different countries," said Mr Mutton. It'll be interesting to see if Wikileaks continues without its captain. I suspect Wikileaks is not a one-man band. No one person alone could do what Wikileaks has done. University officials in Bangladesh have ordered a major rat extermination drive after rodent meat found its way into chicken curry served to students. The incident happened at Rajshahi University in western Bangladesh. "One student detected the head of the rat while eating his lunch. That student instantly suffered a stomach upset," a spokesman told the BBC. There ya go, Rodney a la carte. A printing error has forced the US to stockpile $110bn (£69.78bn) in new $100 notes until officials can sort and destroy the flawed bills. A snag in the printing process left up to 30% of the notes with a blank patch on the face (of Benjamin Franklin), US network CNBC reported. Officials are working to devise a mechanical process to sort the flawed bills. Doing so by hand would take up to 30 years, officials said. You can bet your sweet bippy that a few of those will escape the guillotine and be worth a fortune in years to come. 

Yes, like the 1930 Australian penny: An Australian 1930 Penny is the rarest coin that has ever been released into general circulation in Australian history. Only 3,000 were minted and of those, 1,500 still exist and are trading in todays market. They are still arguing about why the 1930 Penny was released at all. There are only 6 proof coins known to exist, 3 in museums and 3 in private collections. Depending on who you choose to believe, a proof 1930 Penny might go for anything between $250,000 and $500,000 AUD. One of the private collectors has recently declined an offer of $1,000,000 AUD for his proof coin. Another has accepted a $650,000 AUD offer. An Australian 1930 bronze Penny (KG V), uncirculated and in absolute mint condition could fetch up to $275,000 AUD. If it is in less than mint condition, it might fetch as little as $18,500 AUD. Wiki. Answers. Note: the AUD is now worth about the same as the USD.

As little as $18,500? That's 1,850,000 times its face value!

And now for something a little different: A gentlemen's loo in Queenstown, New Zealand taken in 2006.

Tony the painter was here yesterday and today, painting furiously away with his trusty old radio blaring. Anyway, it's THAT time again so I better get myself organized in the kitchen. Gary

December 7, 2010. Jeez, another day. And yes, I updated the scrapbook with some of my more unpleasant experiences. I didn't take many pics in those days, if any at all. Either that or I didn't bother to keep them. I've kept the story brief. There are lots of stories but almost all of them are too painful to relate.

Feel like a trip down motoring memory lane? Here's a compilation of newsreels featuring British Motor Shows from 1949-59.

Beeb time: A Swiss bank freezes accounts belonging to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, as a warrant arrives in the UK for his extradition to Sweden. Assange is either a fool or seriously underestimated. Stay tooned. US President Barack Obama has announced a bipartisan agreement has been reached to extend soon-to-expire Bush era tax cuts to all Americans. Referring to the bitter wrangling over the issue, Mr Obama said he would not "let working families become collateral damage for political warfare". Some Democrats have said the deal, which must be voted on by Congress, is too generous to the wealthy. No comment. England thrash Australia by an innings and 71 runs to win the second (cricket) Test in Adelaide and take a 1-0 lead in the Ashes. Next! US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has repeated US demands for North Korea to cease its "provocative behaviour". Mrs Clinton said it was a pre-condition for the resumption of talks on Pyongyang's nuclear programme, which were halted in April 2009. Well, that should strike fear into the hearts of Pyongyang's leaders. Yeah, right. A small daily dose of aspirin substantially reduces death rates from a range of common cancers, a study suggests. Research at Oxford University and other centres found that it cut overall cancer deaths by at least a fifth. I've been taking a daily dose for years. Ashiq Masih has the look of a hunted man - gaunt, anxious and exhausted. Though he is guilty of nothing, this Pakistani labourer is on the run - with his five children. His wife, Asia Bibi, has been sentenced to death for blaspheming against Islam. That is enough to make the entire family a target. Asia Bibi, an illiterate farm worker from rural Punjab, is the first woman sentenced to hang under Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law. As well as the death penalty hanging over her, Asia Bibi now has a price on her head. A radical cleric has promised 500,000 Pakistani rupees (£3,700; US$5,800) to anyone prepared to "finish her". He suggested that the Taliban might be happy to do it. What can you do except shake your head in disbelief at the twisted minds of religious zealots? A senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, has suggested that opposing the country's supreme leader amounts to a denial of God. See what I mean? Acts including No Doubt and Dave Grohl played Beatles songs at a US gala on Sunday to celebrate Sir Paul McCartney and other winners of a cultural award. Sir Paul had earlier received a Kennedy Center honour along with Oprah Winfrey, choreographer Bill T Jones, composer Jerry Herman and singer Merle Haggard. Receiving his medallion at a White House dinner on Saturday, Sir Paul said "great things just come in bundles". The ex-Beatle was at the US President's home in June to receive another award. "I am a big fan of this president, and I think he's a great man who's got some difficulties," Sir Paul said at Saturday's event, hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "I'm very honoured to be with him and his family, and I'm also a big fan of Hillary's too." Oh, I believe in Yesterday... Onya Paul. 

And here we are at 3pm. I'm usually running late but today's been a bit quiet. No shopping, no buggerizing around with the scrapbook. So what do I do now? I tried taking a nap but I ate a banana so I've got too much energy to take a nap. It's all that potassium and vitamin A and B, and whatever the bloody hell bananas have in them.

I was pleased to see that Stephen Fry's tour of American states in a London cab was on TV again last night... repeats, but repeats worth watching. It's the summer non-ratings season in Oz so all the regular programs have gone beddie-byes and have been replaced by either repeats or trash. What really irks me is that TV stations continue to promote their summertime trash with all the usual superlatives and enthusiasm used to promote the really good stuff during the ratings seasons, as if there were no difference in quality. Morons. They treat their audiences like numbskulls. The other thing that irks me is that the trash actually gets made in the first place, and people are employed to make it! All I can say is that there must be a lot of ass-licking in showbiz. Must be? What am I saying? Of course there is! There's no 'must be' about it.

Oprah Winfrey is coming to Oz with 300 of her fans. Well, not exactly "with". Oprah is flying in by private jet, the rest are crammed aboard a commercial jet, and being bused from the airport. According to the Yahoo report, the audience was treated to a "traditional Aboriginal dance performance". Traditional? I've been here 66 years and never seen one. Apparently we've renamed the Opera House the "Oprah House", and Oprah's arrival has been treated by Aussies with "breathless anticipation". Well, there ya go... ya learn something new every day.

And that's it for this particular Chewsday in the Year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Ten. Gary

December 6, 2010. Okies, part 2 of part 12 of scrapbook is now posted. This is where we get to the unfunny section, the demise of Kelly's Copy Shop and 15 Hegarty St.

Okies, showered and shaved, and now it's time for Averil's shopping. Sheesh. Why me?

Maybe I can squeeze a quick Beeb in before I go. A leaked memo by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticises Saudi officials for not doing enough to tackle funding for al-Qaeda and other militants groups. The Wikileaks plot continues to thicken and a lot of politicians are wishing they'd kept their traps shut. The online payments processor, PayPal, says it has cut access for donations to the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks. PayPal said its payment service cannot be used for activities "that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity". Hitler and Stalin would have agreed with that. Albania is experiencing its worst flooding in living memory, its interior minister says, with more than 12,000 people moved from their homes. Oz is having the same problem. Over 10 years of drought and now this. Our farmers are also suffering plagues of locusts that are decimating their first decent crops in a decade. See what happens when you pray for rain? A couple and five staff spent eight days trapped inside one of Britain's highest pubs because of heavy snow. The Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, near Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, was cut off since Friday last week, as 20ft (6.1m) of snow drifted against the pub. Well, look on the positive side. If you're gonna be trapped for over a week, a pub is the place to do it! Australia reach lunch unscathed on 78-0, 297 runs behind England on day four of the second Ashes (Cricket) Test. England is doing its damnedest to beat Oz. If we manage to make it a draw it'll be a miracle. Oh well... at least the game is exciting. A Paris court is set to give its verdict in a trial to determine any criminal responsibility in the crash of a Concorde supersonic jet 10 years ago. US airline Continental is accused of involuntary homicide after a report found a piece of metal from one of its planes caused a tyre-burst in the jet. The jet caught fire shortly after take off from Charles de Gaulle airport in July 2000, killing 113 people. That was terrible, not only for obvious reasons but also because the Concorde had flown for 25 years without incident.

25 years?
Without landing?
Must have big fuel tanks.
I said shuddup.

As to the Wikileaks thing, I feel like I'm putting myself out on a limb here, but this is what I wrote to Oregon Richie this morning: Gossip mags have been leaking the secrets of the rich and famous for ever and no one seems to mind. Wikileaks is different because it's leaking government secrets, and governments are elected by the people. Politicans are forever talking about "open and transparent" government and now they're bitching about Wikileaks. I'm not sure I understand the logic behind the government's criticism of Wikileaks. When an opposition party discovers something suss about what the government is doing, what do they do? Keep it quiet? No way, Jose.

Actually, I do understand the logic. It's the legitimacy of their bitching that I question.

Back from shopping. It's a big job ya know. Takes ages. Averil stuffed $10 in my hand but I said it's too much. So I gave her $5 change hehe. She didn't need to give me anything at all but I suppose it makes her feel better.

Gregg Sinclair, my old 2GB mate, wrote: Just a 'technical' point regarding the 2GB page. 2GB are no longer in the Sussex street building. They moved to Pyrmont in 2003 - not far from the Fish Markets. Great job on the scrapbook - very well written and soooo funny! I wish there were more guys like you still in the business. Well, what a lovely thing to say! I think that comment made my day.

And now, time to mosey into the kitchen and do the garlic prawns. Love 'em. Gary

December 5, 2010. Today marks the 52nd anniversary of a 14 y/o freckle-faced, red-haired kid starting work at the Registrar General's Dept in Sydney. Guess who that was?

I posted another chapter of the scrapbook today. It was getting a bit long so I decided to split it into two parts, the second of which is almost complete so my workload tomorrow will be that much easier.

Let's do the Beeb: Senior Chinese figures were behind the hacking of Google earlier this year which forced the search engine to quit the country, leaked US cables suggest. One cable, released by whistle-blowing site Wikileaks, cites a "well-placed" contact as saying the action against Google was "100% political". What's the bet Julian Assange hasn't read How to Win Friends and Influence People? I still haven't made up my mind about him or Wikileaks yet. Two people were killed and more than 80 others injured when a passenger plane rolled off the runway after making an emergency landing at a Moscow airport, Russian officials say. All of the plane's three engines had failed by the time it landed at Domodedovo airport. The Russian-built TU-154 was carrying about 170 passengers and crew en route for southern Russia. All three engines? That's kinda serious. Even Leslie Neilson would admit that.

The Beeb is pretty light on with news today. As to Wikileaks, Oregon Richie pointed out the other day that there's been a turnaround. Now it's us watching Big Brother. But he also added: There is as much disgust as dismay associated with the sneaky-Wiki types, and I imagine the website server is as terrified of liability implications as anybody else might be.  Sometimes "cut and run" is a wise thing to do, and I personally don't hold any principled admiration for the head sneak.

I'll continue to reserve my judgement. I have rebel Irish blood in my veins, and an inherent distrust of bureaucrats who believe it's their right to treat the great unwashed with contempt - until election time.

I had Green Room returned by an Australian publisher the other day with the usual standard rejection slip. I'm getting used to it. But there's a publisher in NYC called Alyson that publishes GLBT stuff. I'll give them a shot and tell them not to return the book if it's rejected. They can give it to John McCain instead. Sometimes I don't know why I bother, that I would have been better off writing a book called Everything You Need To Know About Agapanthus, but... well... ya never know.

I do know that I'm pretty much buggered after writing the scrapbook for the past few weeks, including all the scanning and research and stuff. I become obsessive about certain things and this is one of them. It's no problem for me to work non stop for 12 hours a day. I even get pissed when my stomach says I'M HUNGRY, or my bladder says I NEED A PEE! It irritates me to be interrupted when I'm focused. Oh well... it'll be finished soon and then I can go back to being lazy.

Meanwhile, it's time to throw the chef hat on again. Gary

December 4, 2010. Yes, ladies and genitals, I managed to post the latest scrapbook entry fairly early today. It's only mid afternoon. 

Remember all that bitching I did for several months about Bluey's carburetor and the auto choke? Every time I started the engine cold, I'd pump the accelerator pedal a few times and then turn the ignition key. The engine would rev like buggery for a long time before it settled down to a reasonable idle. That improved somewhat after the Pro Carb job which cost me $600. Sooooo, the other day I jumped into Bluey and forgot to pump the accelerator before starting the engine. Hello? No revving. It was perfect. I figured maybe it was an abberation. Then the other day I started Bluey again without pumping the throttle and the same thing happened. No revving. Perfect. So it appears that Nissan never bothered to tell me not to pump the accelerator, and I never thought to mention it. I suppose all's well that ends well but I wish I'd known about this sooner.

Let's do a Beeb: Spain's military takes over the country's air traffic control after civilian traffic controllers called in sick en masse in a row over working conditions. That's pretty drastic action, and I'm not sure jeopardizing public safety for the union's cause is justified unless, of course, there's more to the story than meets the eye. The latest files released by the Wikileaks website reveal US diplomats' perception of British "paranoia" about the so-called special relationship. I heard on the TV news last night that Wikileaks' servers pulled the plug on the website. Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks is forced to change its web address after the company providing its domain name cuts off service. Ah, that explains it. A Russian man accused of operating an e-mail spam business that at times accounted for one third of global spam has pleaded not guilty in a federal court in the US state of Wisconsin. Oleg Nikolaenko is charged with running a global network of more than 500,000 virus-infected personal computers, in violation of a US anti-spam law. Another asshole who profits from the misery of others. South Korea's defence minister-designate has promised a tougher response, including air strikes, if North Korea attacks again. You can't expect South Korea to turn the other cheek, I suppose. Spanish police have released CCTV footage showing an off-duty policeman rescuing a man who fell onto the tracks at a metro station in Madrid. The newspaper El Pais reported the 41-year-old man was under the influence of alcohol and lost his balance on the platform of Puerta del Angel station. Passengers on the platform are seen screaming and waving their arms to alert the driver. The police officer is seen walking onto the tracks and pulling the man away before the train can hit him. Dramatic footage indeed. Watch it here. The US unemployment rate rose to 9.8% in November, the highest rate since April, the US Labor Department has said, raising fears about the strength of the country's economic recovery. Not good. Obama must be worried sick. The Mexican army has arrested a 14-year-old boy on suspicion of being a hired killer for a drug cartel. The military alleges that he took part in a number of beheadings under the influence of drugs supplied by the cartel. Jesus Christ, how much worse can it get? The Qantas Airbus A380 that experienced an engine explosion would not have arrived safely without the quick thinking of crew, a report has said. "The aircraft would not have arrived safely in Singapore without the focused and effective action of the flight crew." The report also pointed out that there were five pilots on board the superjumbo aircraft, with a combined 72,000 hours of flying experience, on 4 November when the incident took place. Those at the controls of the A380 struggled with more than a dozen system errors after the engine blew, the ATSB added. Makes me feel good to be an Aussie. Soul singer Aretha Franklin thanks her fans for their prayers after undergoing "highly successful" surgery. And what an awesome singer she is. She's been going since the mid 60s. A woman who dialled 999 to report the theft of a snowman from outside her home has been branded "completely irresponsible" by Kent Police. The force said the woman, from Chatham, thought the incident required their involvement because she used pound coins for eyes and teaspoons for arms. During the call the woman said: "It ain't a nice road but you don't expect someone to nick your snowman." Quite right, madam, quite right. Snowman nicking is not on. 

Well, it's kitchen time again. Fish and hashbrowns. All this scrapbook stuff is taking up a stack of time but I think it's worth it. It's kinda like making your mark on a tree. Kelly Was Here. Oh by the way, I spoke to my old boss at 2UE yesterday, Chris Maitland. He told me that last month he attended a reunion of people who worked at 2UE during the early 80s. I was one of them. The reunion was held at the Rag & Famish Hotel just down the road from the old 2UE building in Miller St North Sydney. But I wasn't invited. I wonder if whoever organized it didn't know where I was (here in Taree) or decided to leave me off the list of invitees for some reason. Oh well... Maitland didn't say, and I wouldn't have attended anyway. Taree is too far away. "And what are you doing these days, Gary?" "I'm a carer for a couple of loonies." "Oh, how, er, interesting." Gary

December 3, 2010. Another day gone with the wind. It's 5:30pm already and I've only just posted the latest scrapbook chapter! Oh well, if that's the way it is, that's the way it is. Kitchen time. Gary

December 2, 2010. Wow! The latest scrapbook chapter is a biggie which I've had to divide into two parts. I posted part one today.

Just off the phone to my mate Bradley in Sydney who I called to refresh my memory about a couple of things for the scrapbook. It was a good chat with plenty of laughs. And he's gonna get back in touch.

Anyway, it's coming up to 5pm so let's do a quick Beeb: A senior Spanish prosecutor told the US Embassy in Madrid that Russia, Belarus and Chechnya had become virtual "mafia states", new disclosures of classified material by Wikileaks show. A cable also questions whether Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is implicated in the Russian mafia. Another reveals that a powerful Ukrainian businessman told US officials he had ties to Russian organised crime. The documents are among hundreds being released by the whistle-blower website. On Wednesday the US online shopping giant Amazon reportedly blocked Wikileaks from its servers - a move welcomed by US officials. I'm reserving my judgement about whether or not Wikileaks is a good or bad thing. I have a feeling that it might be the former. Air safety investigators in Australia say they have identified a serious manufacturing fault with engines fitted to Airbus A380 passenger jets. Now that's a leak I would call a "good" thing, maybe not so good for Rolls Royce but good for the rest of us. Heavy snowfall and record low temperatures cause disruption in parts of northern Europe, closing airports and bringing traffic to a standstill. Snow? Wot dat? The UK Foreign Office kept quiet about a loophole that allows the US to store cluster bombs on British territory despite a ban, a classified US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks suggests. Hmmm. The thick plottens. The coffin which used to contain the body of Lee Harvey Oswald is to be sold at auction in a few weeks. The man believed to have shot President John F Kennedy was interred in the pine coffin for almost 20 years. He was exhumed in 1981 as his widow wanted to verify that it was him inside the coffin, and then reburied in a new casket in the same Texas cemetery. God, how ghoulish. Mercury affects the behaviour of white ibises by "turning them homosexual", with higher doses resulting in males being more likely to pair with males. I wonder if that's nature's way of preventing certain genes being passed on to future generations. The length of a man's fingers can provide clues to his risk of prostate cancer, according to new research. A British Journal of Cancer study found men whose index finger was longer than their ring finger were significantly less likely to develop the disease. Ooer! I wish I hadn't read that! 

Justin's blog has an interesting piece about the health attributes of bananas. Read it, and start eating your way to better health.

But back to the Wikileaks thing, I can't help thinking that if all politicians and bureaucrats were squeaky clean, then Wikileaks would have no reason to exist. But that's just my cynicism, I guess. Time will tell.

Okies, kitchen time! Gotta feed the troops. Gary

December 1, 2010. Three and 1/2 weeks till Christmas. Can you believe it? It's also the day you gotta run around the house and turn all the calendar months over, and move your day/date watch forward. It's all such a bother.

Meanwhile, my reputation is ruined. I got an email yesterday from a guy I worked with over 30 years ago. You can read all about it in the latest chapter of the scrapbook.

FL Josh wrote an interesting piece about a link I posted recently: You said the article on Mollee Harper would be interesting and you were right.  I read it and it was obvious she was lying.  She calls herself a CEO yet has a boss!  All of her friends abandoned her when she lost her job but that doesn't happen.  She has sent out thousands of resumes but hasn't been able to find a job in 836 days and has lost her car, toys and now her house is in foreclosure.  Why couldn't she find anyone who would hire her?  So, I researched her.  Well, it turns out much of the article is pure fiction and most of that isn't is totally distorted.  She's a freelance writer and got paid for her article.  The "construction company" she where she was CEO/CFO was actually a one-man company that makes those synthetic rock kitchen countertops and it is still doing fine.

Well, that may be true. That's what writers do. But as to "all her friends abandoned her when she lost her job but that doesn't happen" it does indeed happen. It happened to me. And it happened to Oregon Richie. If what she wrote was fiction, it still resonated very strongly with me. I've been there and I know only too well what it's like to be discarded.

Perhaps she wrote the article on behalf of a person or persons she knew and/or researched. It was real enough to move me very strongly. I guess you had to be there.

When the bum dropped out of my world, I was sitting in my rented flat back in 1997 with nowhere to go. I had no job, no money and no friends. There was a stack of unpaid bills on the floor. All the tenants of the block of flats had been given eviction orders. The building had been sold and was already in the process of being renovated. I was about to be thrown out on the street. No way could I ask my brothers for help. I was a Kelly and therefore expected to solve my own problems. So in the nick of time, my lunatic neighbors Lindsay and Sue said they had found a house nearby and asked me if I wanted to move in with them. I'm sure all my furniture was part of the attraction. They had none. Lindsay's boss at the boarding house would take care of the lease and bond, and I would pay him my share of the rent. By the way, the boarding house was full of tenants who were all psychiatric patients, and there was no way I was gonna move in there even if I could have. A few years later, the boarding house manager went broke, his business folded and he disappeared. It was then that I took over as Lindsay and Sue's carer. A job at last!

Beeb time: US and UK diplomats feared Pakistan's nuclear material could fall to terrorists, the latest classified US cables revealed by Wikileaks show. I don't think that news is gonna surprise anyone. Allowing gay troops to serve openly in the US military would carry only a low risk of hindering fighting ability, a Pentagon study finds. Sexuality has nothing to do with a soldier's ability to do his or her job. Interpol has issued a "Red Notice" for the founder of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange. It said the Australian was wanted for questioning in Sweden over an alleged sex offence, which he has denied. The Red Notice does not amount to an arrest warrant. Instead, it asks people to contact the police if they have any information about his whereabouts. There's a bit of publicity he could have done without. The 15-year-old boy who shot himself after taking 23 students and a teacher hostage at his school in Wisconsin has died of his wounds. Marinette Police Chief Jeff Skorik said Samuel Hengel died on Tuesday morning at a hospital in Green Bay. Hengel shot himself with a handgun as police stormed a classroom at Marinette High School on Monday night, after a stand-off lasting several hours. It only takes one. Just one. Some UFO sightings could be explained by ball lightning and other atmospheric phenomena, claims Australian astrophysicist Stephen Hughes. The scientist has made a detailed study of an unusual event in 2006 when large meteors were observed over Brisbane. FOs doesn't sound as interesting or mysterious as UFOs. A Belgian fast food firm says it will be offering customers in France a burger containing a slice of foie gras. The burgers, which will contain duck foie gras, as well as beef and lettuce, will be available for a short time in the days leading up to Christmas. They will be on sale for five euros (£4.20) in hundreds of Quick outlets across France. Foie gras is from the liver of a force-fed duck or goose, a practice that animal protection groups say is cruel. Next thing ya know they'll be serving up escargot burgers. Ew! US President Barack Obama has described talks with Republican and Democratic leaders as "a good start" on efforts to resolve policy differences. After the meeting, Republican House leader John Boehner pledged more talks on extending Bush-era tax cuts. Also discussed were a pending arms control treaty with Russia and efforts to trim the federal budget deficit. Cooperation and conciliation. Not so silly. HMS Invincible has been put up for auction on a military disposal website. Invincible is being sold by the the Disposal Services Authority, which says it has secured receipts of more than £900m for the MoD in the past 16 years. The Barrow-built light aircraft carrier, which has an estimated metal weight of 10,000 tonnes, will "almost certainly" be sold for scrap, said naval expert Jon Rosamond. HMS Invincible was decommissioned after 25 years' Royal Navy service in 2005. There ya go... it wasn't Invincible after all. 

Sue got it into her head today to go walkies and do a little shopping for "makeup and stuff". It's a worry. She's like a child. I doubt she could cross the road without getting flattened let alone find her way around the shops. And even if she did, she probably didn't have any money with her. She doesn't understand those things. And then of course she would have been stranded. We've been here 9 years and she still doesn't know our address. Anyway, Lindsay tried to talk her out of it, but then went to bed (at 2pm?). She stood on the veranda contemplating her options for a while as I kept an eye on her. The she decided to come back inside.

I don't have the authority to restrain her. She's an adult woman, free to do whatever she wants. Yes, it's a worry.

You know all that bubble packaging they have these days? The things they put tablets in? I'm forever popping my medication out of its packaging only to have a bloody pill fly through the air and land somewhere amongst all the spaghetti under my computer desk. Then I gotta grab a flashlight and get down on my hands and knees to search for the damn thing, which can take ages. Just now I popped one of those little silver batteries to replace the old one in a desk clock and the thing flew out of sight. Fortunately I heard it hit something metallic under the desk so I knew roughly where it was, but I still had to get the flashlight and do the big hands and knees missing-battery trick. Life can be such a bitch! And don't laugh cos it's not funny. Not at the time anyway.

Every now and then when L&S have something I don't eat, like T-bones or chops or whatever, I have something else. I've experimented with a few things, like packaged ready meals. Bleh. They're bloody terrible. Soooo, here's the plan. I'll get fresh diced chicken or beef or pork or whatever and make a curry or sweet and sour or something like that, and boil some rice. I'll let it cool, spoon it into 4 or 5 cheap plastic containers like you get from Asian take-aways, bung them in the freezer, and use it when L&S have their steak or chops. They don't like the kind of things I like, and they certainly don't like rice or pasta. So there ya go, problem solved. Most days we all have the same thing, so it's only once or twice a week that we have something different. I could make 5 frozen meals for $10 easy. Go figure.

And speaking of din dins, it's that time again. Ham, pastrami and roast pork tonight with salad and eggs. Pensioners do it tough ya know. Gary


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