the WAFFLE page

April 30, 2011. The last day of April for another year. And the Royal Wedding is over. I watched the live telecast last night and enjoyed the spectacle. Although, I wondered about some of the hats the ladies were wearing... weird little contraptions perched on foreheads or sides of heads. They were supposed to be hats?

I enjoyed seeing all the old Royal Rollers, as well as the newer ones, and am pleased to know that the older cars are cherished and cared for. One was a 1950 model given to Elizabeth before she married. Another was a 1962 model specially fitted with a tall roofline and a large glass area at the rear. There were also a few old Daimlers in the procession.

But the fashion commentary was a bit tiresome and gushy, minutely analyzing every stitch in whatever the ladies were wearing, and heaping lavish praise on the various designers.

By and large, though, it was a jolly good show... or it was until the celebrant in Westminster Abbey wearing a party hat started yabbering on about marriage being a sacred institution created by God for 3 specific purposes, all of which apparently exclude gays. I got the impression he used the wedding to preach his own particular gospel to billions of viewers, so I turned off the TV at that point.

NC Art wrote: I woke early this morning to watch the royals tie the knot. Very impressive. Westminster is a stunning place--up close or on camera. Those young boy sopranos were such earnest and pretty singers that the cameras kept cutting back to them. One soloist projected powerfully for such a small chest of air. I note some odd things, I guess. One observation was that Prince Willie has less hair that Grandpa Philip. Last night a roving reporter asked a Brit bloke if he was anticipating the royal do. In a thick East End accent he said, "Ardly! Wye must aye pay the tab for such flippin foolishness wen the guvnors are bleedin us to death?" This is not a precise quote but gets the point he was making.

I take his point. But most of the world's cathedrals, palaces and public buildings are funded by pennies from ordinary people because ordinary people need their gods and royals and heroes. What would ordinary people have to aspire to if we were all the same? Why, for example, is the Pope's lifestyle not the same as Mother Theresa's? In fact, why is the Pope's lifestyle not the same as Jesus Christ's? In my view, much the world's opulence and wealth would not exist if it were not for the support of ordinary people, wittingly or un.

Imagine a world without the Taj Mahal, or the pyramids, or Buckingham Palace, or the White House. When Man created God, he built monuments such as Westminster Abbey to justify the existence of his God. And the people came in awe and wonder, and fell to their knees. Boom boom. Anyway, that's my take on the situation. Hehe. I'm a party pooper.

As to the Excalibur car I posted on Red Bubble, Art describes it as a Heinz variety, hehe. Yeah, well it is, and I think Studebaker was desperate for some new ideas back in the '60s, and willing to try anything. They must have known they were on a slippery slope. Art goes on to say he owned a '48 Stude, which was a pretty radical design back then. I remember my dad saying he wasn't sure if they were coming or going. Art goes on to say: I sold it because the mother of all hail storms worked it over front to back and back to front one pleasant Sunday afternoon. Still ran well, but I tired of hearing it called the walnut carrier or Dimpled Dolly. Those hail stones were the size of baseballs. Ugly, scary; broke every window on one side of the two-storey ante-bellum house I was renting.

TX Greg wrote: "I'm always polite and charming." hahahahaha. That was my morning laugh I needed to get my day going :) I think that's why they call it "ribbing" cause you laugh so hard your ribs hurt.

I just measured Das Busse's kitchen sink, and then measured the cutting board I have in the house kitchen. A perfect fit. So I'll get another one of those. It's essential to have a separate and transportable cutting board for carrots, onions, celery, cheese and whatever else needs cutting, slicing or chopping. But just as importantly, you need somewhere to put it so that it remains in place and stable while you're working. You can't put a chopping board on your lap. It doesn't work.

I also poked around a few nooks and crannies. The gas bottle still has gas in it, and the stove works! And tucked away in a corner is a fire extinguisher (albeit pretty ancient) and a fiberglass fire blanket. They're covered in a layer of fine brown dust, so it seems like Das Busse has seen a few outback roads in its time. One of these days I'll get busy with a vacuum cleaner.

Beeb time: Prince William and his newly titled bride the Duchess of Cambridge kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, as more than a million people descend on central London for the occasion. See the pictures here. President Barack Obama says he has "never seen devastation like this", after visiting a city in Alabama which has been ravaged by tornadoes, which have left over 300 dead. God bless America? Libya says it will not allow any more sea deliveries to the besieged city of Misrata, and that aid agencies should preferably use land routes instead. Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim also said rebels in the city would be given four days to lay down their arms in return for an amnesty. If they continued to fight they would face "total fire" he said. Obama called for Gaddafi's immediate resignation from power. That hasn't worked. So what now? A US appeals court overturns an earlier order to suspend federal funding of stem cell research, marking a victory for the Obama administration. Progress

Meanwhile, UN forces led by America figured using air strikes to disable Gaddafi's tanks and air force would clear the way for rebel victory in Libya. Well, Gaddafi and his supporters had other ideas, and they are still in control. Will the UN allow Gaddafi to defeat the rebels and carry on as Libya's dictator? No western boots on the ground, they said. Stay tooned.

And that's it for another Satdee, and the last day of April. Gary

April 29, 2011. TX Greg asked me to forward his email this morning to FL Josh but any mail I send to Josh bounces for some reason. We've investigated possible causes but to no avail. Josh, I've known Gary many years now and without a doubt in my mind when I read that (comment on Waffle) I knew his comment was in good humor with no intent to insult. I'm very grateful you expressed how it made you really feel, otherwise no one would have known you took it as a insult and not humor. Over the years Gary and I both have ribbed each other quite often, all in good humor. In today's world it's a little laughter for me that helps soften all the bad things happening.

Actually, it's TX Greg who ribs ME. I'm always polite and charming. Greg also says his fav pic is the B&W one.

Anyway, nuffa that. I think I'll indulge myself in a piece of toast with spreadable cheese. 

AND THEN I went to my bar fridge for a wee refreshment. I was just about to open the door when a huntsman crawled into view and frightened the bloody daylights outta me. Huntsmen often seek shelter indoors during rain. This bloke's not very big, but big enough. Anyway, I shooed him away and he's disappeared somewhere or other. Huntsmen don't bother me if they mind their own business. But I think I might check the bedding before I hit the sack tonight.

Today's the big day for William and Kate. Yesterday I mentioned Royalty and Australia being a Constitutional Monarchy. Here's NC Art's comment: Some news person commented that the Brits are perfect in matters of pomp and pageantry. I do agree. A college mate traveled to England to witness the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and returned full of stories on the beauty and solemnity of the occasion. Of, course, some folks take any opportunity to demonstrate their anti-royals feelings. There was one dowdy looking old biddy shouting loudly. A mounted marshal leaned down and said quietly, "Don't spoil it Mother." Perfect, what?

Your comments on Australia's happy relationship with the crown seems to fit the Canadian attitude also. Years ago I visited friends in Toronto several times, once when the Queen Mum was visiting. That member of the Commonwealth exhibited uncommon respect that impressed me. But, like Oz, it goes about its business without undue fuss and feathers.

Art served in the US Military during WWII and has this to say about gays in the forces: It also seems that Canadians are far ahead of the U.S. in matters of letting people manage their own personal affairs. Same sex marriage was simply not the States' business, while we progressive Americans are locked in fierce battles over it. And it was a national fracas for years to allow military to serve openly. Thousands of good men and women have been trained at great expense only to be lost when some disgruntled asshole whispered "gay" and they were booted out of their careers. We have just this year dumped the old policy. (I'm certain I served with gay guys in WWII who could shoot as straight as I could. A Russian pilot told me that half the Ruskies who ran Germans out of the country got their jollies with each other during that campaign in the deep Russian snows.) 

The term "much ado about nothing" springs to my mind.

Beeb time: President Barack Obama has said the US government will do everything it can to help communities recover from devastating tornadoes that have killed at least 280 people in the south-east. At least 194 people died in Alabama, where Mr Obama will visit on Friday. The president hailed rescue workers and said he stood with every American affected by the "catastrophic" storms. "In a matter of hours, these deadly tornadoes, some of the worst we have seen in decades, took mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbours, even entire communities. In many places the damage to homes and businesses is nothing short of catastrophic," he said. "I want every American who has been affected by this disaster to know that the federal government will do everything we can to help you recover, and we will stand with you as you rebuild," he said. Earthquakes in New Zealand, tsunamis in Japan, floods in Oz, tornadoes in the US... where to next? Prince William has gone on an impromptu walkabout ahead of his wedding to Kate Middleton to meet royal watchers near Buckingham Palace. What a nice man... shades of his mother. Philip Garrido and his wife Nancy plead guilty to the kidnap and rape of schoolgirl Jaycee Dugard, whom they kept prisoner for 18 years in California. How on earth anyone could behave in such a despicable manner is totally beyond me. I suspect Jaycee's scars will never heal. Wal-Mart has said it will soon bring back the sale of firearms, including rifles and shotguns, at more than 500 of its US stores. The retail giant stopped selling guns at hundreds of its 3,600 US stores in 2006, citing slumping consumer demand. Oh, goodie. Just what the world needs... more guns.

I took advantage of a break in the wet weather to drive Das Busse to the petrol station to check the tires and put a bit of juice in the tank. The tires were okay, but the key for the fuel cap got stuck and I couldn't get the damn thing off! A few customers queued behind me got pissed off and eventually went to other pumps while I continued to try to get the fuel cap off. I finally succeeded when a nice bloke came up to me. "Give it a bit of WD40 and it should be okay... but don't lock the cap until you do." Hehe. Today is the last day of the bus's registration so she'll sit in the drive now until all work has been completed over the next whatever months. But I also took the opportunity to park it in Averil's drive so she could have a look. "I think you've done very well," she said as she poked around the interior. She and Kev had a Toyota van for some years, as well as a trailer camper, but their van wasn't fitted out like Das Busse is, and it was an earlier model.

I SORT OF got used to driving Das Busse around town. The trick is to treat it for what it is - a truck - and not try to emulate Bluey or compare it to other vehicles. It's not too bad if you lower your expectations and take it easy. I also learned that it's okay to take off from rest in second gear on the flat or downhill. First is only needed uphill. And the steering? Well, it's a bit of a pain but not unmanageable. Hopefully, the power steering kit I bought on eBay will fix that IF it can be fitted. I still haven't collected it yet. I told the seller to keep it until I organize a courier.

BTW, that Excalibur car I photographed last weekend at the Bush Rally is not what I first thought it was. It has quite an interesting history as I discovered when I Googled Excalibur. You can read about it in the notes I attached to the pic I posted on Red Bubble.

Well, it'll be all wedding, wedding, wedding on telly tonight. The local ABC coverage starts at 6pm, about 90 minutes from now. It'll make a pleasant change from all the normal shit, I suppose... a lovely bride and a handsome groom, and beaming parents. I watched footage of the marriage between Charles and Diana last night, and then the births of William and Harry. And so the wheel turns. In a year or two from now we'll be seeing more little princes and/or princesses to carry on the royal tradition which, I suspect, still has a long future ahead of it. And good luck to them. Gary

April 28, 2011. NC Art commented on Josh's work with the 1929 Chrysler: You were right and FL Josh did a great job. Loverly cah, but sepia actually shows better definition of detail. Note vents in engine cowling.

Oregon Richie was also impressed: Good and interesting enhanced photographs reliefs there.  Sepia tone is really cool and I have used it for some things on my photo-shop program, although I am not TOO damned great on it.

However, I'm afraid FL Josh wasn't terribly impressed with me: Regarding your Waffle comment, "So Smartie Pants FL Josh thought it was an ideal opportunity to show off."  Why is it every time I try to show you a kindness, you twist it around into something dark.  If I said I would love to know how to cook fish and chips and you told me how, I wouldn't dream of accusing you of being a show off.  I would simply be thankful for you gifting me with your most valuable possession, your time, to help me. I can't tell you how crappy your comment made me feel. And, I have known you long enough to know you will twist this into something bad, too.  That just seems to be your nature.

I'm truly sorry you feel that way, Josh. My comment was intended to be a joke, not an insult. Why do you think this country is called Down Under? Because we do everything the other way around. Aussies are always giving each other cheek. That's the way we are. It's our nature. Anyway, I regret having offended you. Of course I appreciate your efforts with the photos, that's why I posted them. But there's no way I'm gonna tell you how clever you are or how jealous I am cos it'll only go to your head... and then I'll never hear the end of it. :-P

Meanwhile, I find it fascinating that the boxy style of cars remained pretty much the same through the 19 teens and twenties. But then in the early thirties along came the DC3 which changed everything, and inspired auto designers to incorporate aerodynamics into their car styling. By the end of the decade, cars were radically different to their counterparts just ten years ago. This is what a Chrysler looked like only 10 years after 'Splash of Red' was in the showroom.

Lindsay looked at Josh's pics just now and said, "You could make a nice hot rod outta that." But that's Lindsay. No class.

Pay day/bills day/in-out day. Oh well... at least the bills are paid and there's enough left over to keep us fed and housed. The power bill this week put paid to anything I might put aside for Das Busse. Next time. 

Here's a shot on Red Bubble that reminds me I must get down to Circular Quay in Sydney some day to photograph the pavement artists there. They're incredible. There are also musicians, clowns, stilt walkers and all kinds of buskers trying to make a dollar. It's a marvelous place. Here's the way I remember Circular Quay as a kid.

Beeb time: A deeply divided United Nation Security Council has failed to agree on an EU-proposed statement condemning Syria's violent crackdown against protesters. A draft proposed by France, Britain, Germany and Portugal was opposed by several within the 15-member council. Russia insisted that events in Syria did not constitute a threat to international peace. More than 450 people have allegedly been killed since the pro-democracy protests began nearly six weeks ago. China and India called for political dialogue and peaceful resolution of the crisis, but stopped short of condemning the violence. So much for the United Nations being united. The Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, which governs Gaza, agree a reconciliation deal, officials say. Oh well, at least someone is agreeing. Eight US troops and a US contractor have been killed by an Afghan air force pilot at Kabul airport in an apparent argument, US officials say. The pilot was also killed in the exchange. The incident is the deadliest of a number of recent attacks on foreigners by Afghan security personnel. A senior Afghan security official told the BBC the pilot's name was Gul Ahmad, and he came from the Tarakhel area of Kabul. He was suffering from "mental illness", and either got into a fight with his foreign colleagues or planned the attack after being recruited by the Taliban, the official said. Know thine enemy, huh? Yeah, right. The White House has released President Barack Obama's birth certificate, in response to persistent rumours he was not born in the US. Mr Obama had previously released an official "certification of live birth" showing he was born in Hawaii. But fringe "birther" theorists have insisted Mr Obama was actually born in his father's native Kenya, making him ineligible to be president. Recently potential Republican candidate Donald Trump has revived the rumour. Here's a photo of the birth certificate. A series of thunderstorms with near hurricane force winds and suspected tornadoes have struck the south-eastern US, killing at least 18 people in states from Arkansas to Alabama. The storm system pummelled states from Texas to Georgia on Tuesday evening and Wednesday. The system was forecast to hit Tennessee, Kentucky and North and South Carolina on Wednesday evening. Good luck with battening down those hatches, guys. Final preparations are taking place ahead of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in London on Friday. It comes after the couple attended a rehearsal at Westminster Abbey with the bride's parents and Prince Harry. William is due to spend the evening with the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and Harry while Miss Middleton and her family will gather at a hotel. It is anticipated the events will be watched by up to two billion people worldwide on television. Who said the Empire is dead? Australia's ABC broadcaster has had to cancel its satirical royal wedding special after being told footage could not be used for "comedy purposes". The programme, which was due to be aired on ABC2, featured the well-known comedy team The Chaser. The Chaser team said the decision was out of step with a modern democracy, which it claimed was much like the monarchy itself. My husband and I are not amused. One of the Aussie TV Networks will be using Dame Edna Everage as a commentator, so you can imagine what that will be like. Hehe. A man survived a 200ft (61m) drop in the US state of Arizona after apparently driving his car off the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, authorities have said. The 21-year-old told park rangers he freed himself from the car after the accidental crash on Monday and climbed to the rim of the canyon to seek help. Now there's a bloke with a unique story to tell - and lucky to be able to tell it

Shopping's done, yadda, yadda. So there I was chatting to Averil in her house after delivering her groceries when along came Monica, a neighbor who's also a regular visitor and a bit of a doom and gloom lady. So now I know that China and Japan own half of Australia's industries and the Arab countries are buying the rest and Australian politicans are all puppets, and pretty soon Australia will have nothing left and it'll be goodnight Oz. Sheesh. I feel so much better now.

But back to all the hype surrounding the Royal Marriage between Prince William and Kate Middleton... it's obvious that Aussies still have great affection for the Royal Family and I think that might put a dent in the hopes and aspirations of those who seek to turn Australia into a republic. Personally, I can't see any valid reason for changing our current status as a Constitutional Monarchy. We're free, we're independent, we chart our own course, and any link we have with Great Britain and the throne is purely ceremonial. So what's the biggie? People love princes and princesses, and they love a royal wedding. It's the stuff of fairy tales. And as a cynical American lawyer friend of mine says, "No one does pomp and ceremony like the Brits."

And here we are again, at the end of another day... apart from din dins and a bit of telly before hitting the sack. One of these days, the 'sack' will be in a tin box in the middle of nowhere. How's that for a thought? Hehe. Gary

April 27, 2011. Well, well, well, whaddaya know. Here I am again. This is getting to be a habit. 

Wet and gray and dreary today, but I suppose that makes us appreciate better weather... such as the beautiful sunshine we had over the Easter Weekend. Anyway, if we didn't have rain we wouldn't have gardens and forests, or brooks and rivers.

Yesterday, I mentioned my Splash of Red pic, and the fact that it could be made more interesting in B&W or sepia whilst maintaining the red mailbox. So Smartie Pants FL Josh thought it was an ideal opportunity to show off:

I think I prefer the B&W one but they're both good. Those old ragtops were pretty scarce on the roads when I was a kid in the '50s. I can only remember a few. Most of the older cars were mid to late '30s or early post war sedans. New cars were rare, especially in working-class suburbs like mine. In fact, most people didn't have a car.

BTW, I didn't mention a pic I favorited on Red Bubble the other day, which I thought was amusing. Black humor, but humor nonetheless.

Beeb time: A UN team is due to arrive in Tripoli to investigate allegations of human rights violations in Libya since the start of the conflict in February. Allegations? Hehe. The UK, France and Italy call for tough measures against Syria, after troops there fire on anti-government protesters. The US is keeping a low profile this time. Anyone attempting to disrupt the royal wedding on Friday will face a "robust" response, the Metropolitan Police has said. Some 5,000 officers will be on duty to ensure the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton is a "safe, secure and happy event". Things have sure changed since Queen Elizabeth II came to Oz shortly after her coronation in 1953. She was driven through the streets of Sydney in an open car which I witnessed as I sat on my father's shoulders in the crowd. Just ten years later the world would change when JFK was shot riding in an open car. The weather is looking excellent for the final launch of the US space shuttle Endeavour on Friday. The youngest of America's shuttles is set to deliver a $2bn (£1.2bn) particle physics experiment to the International Space Station (ISS). After the mission, the vehicle will be exhibited at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The Hallowed Halls of History will never be too full to accept new exhibits. Hehe

Why are there 10 commandments? George Carlin has the answer.

My Gregory's Hi-Ace service and repair manual arrived today... $65 worth. It's not a user manual, but a comprehensive repair manual with a lot of technical detail and wiring diagrams, which will be handy if I'm stuck in Woop Woop. I checked the vehicle's compliance plates: built August 1983, 2 liter 3Y engine which chugs out 88 horses at 4,600rpm. Gross vehicle mass is 2.7 tons, tare is 1.6. The YH Series was built between 1983 and 1989, so new or used spare parts should be readily available. Seems like all the window rubbers were replaced at some fairly recent stage... no signs of perishing.

I also saw a sticker from a radiator repairer (2008) and the hoses look okay. The previous owner says he replaced the clutch not long ago (and it feels pretty good). He also says the head was reconditioned but I'll know more about that when I have the mechanicals checked by the local Toyota dealer at some future stage. With 88 horses and 4 speeds, it's not gonna be a real quick trip around Oz but I guess that's no problem. I'm not crazy about freeways anyway... I prefer the more scenic and leisurely back roads. It's also a long wheelbase about 15.5 feet long - 18 inches longer than Bluey. I still don't understand all that metric millimeter stuff even tho it's been in Oz for 40 years. I keep having to convert it to make sense of it.

So there ya go, I'm getting to know Das Busse a little better as time passes. And you never know what a little TLC might do. Gary

April 26, 2011. Wet and cool today. Oh well... the weather over the Easter break has been very nice so I'm sure the holidaymakers enjoyed their time on the Mid North Coast, especially at the beaches. We won't see the tourists again until the school Spring Break in September.

I watched the ANZAC service at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, last night on telly. A seed from that lone pine was planted here in Taree many years ago, and it's a big healthy tree now, growing next to the town memorial. Anyway, the military man who gave a speech at the ceremony spoke of the utter horror of war. Anyone who thinks there's any glory in war is sadly mistaken. Here's an excerpt from a diary written by Private Roy Denning to his Australian mother in 1915.

That night [May 1] we were working until 9 o'clock in pumping water, and were returning to our dugouts when we came up with two stretchers on each one lay the remains of an Australian. The stretcher bearer of one, having a bad hand, asked my friend and I if we would take some of the weight for him and willing did so and continued on to where the big grave waited for its prey. We laid the stretchers down gently, the bodies were lifted into the grave, then we stood with bowed heads while the Chaplain, with the aid of an electric torch read those memorable lines set apart for the burial of the dead. The graves being dug to take three side by side, I just threw enough earth over them to cover the bodies leaving one place vacant for another of our number. I wondered who would fill it, death seemed so close to us all, it may just be the click of a rifle and one of us may make the third to fill and thus satisfy the yearning of that open grave.

The service over, we returned to our dugouts, but in my case not to sleep. The sad proceeding we had just been through seemed so impressive and although only two in hundreds, made me picture the homes of the two departed. I wondered if ever the loved ones of the two deceased would hear or know how they were quietly laid to rest on the slope of the lonely Turkish hillside, where, when men ceased to slaughter and annihilate each other, there would be nothing but the gentle lap of the water at its foot and the nightingale's solitary note to break the silence.

You can read more of Denning's diary here. But there are many accounts written by diggers at Gallipoli who tried to describe the indescribable to their relatives back home. Nothing could have prepared them for the misery and destruction they encountered. Nothing.

Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, I posted one of the pics I took of the Bush Rally. After a little cropping to remove extraneous bits, I called it A Splash of Red, and I think it works quite well. There is a way to change the pic to B&W or sepia whilst retaining the red post box, which would have been cool but I don't have the expertise. Thilly moi!

Beeb time: Ukraine marks the 25th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident - at Chernobyl - amid renewed global nuclear concern. And it seems, once again, we're slow to learn from our mistakes. China and the United States have agreed to hold economic talks as tensions between the world's two biggest economies continue to rise. Top officials will meet in the US next month to discuss differences over trade and currency policies, says the US Treasury Department. The United States has accused China of keeping the value of its yuan currency artificially low to help exporters sell products or services abroad. China is the world's largest exporter. You can say that again. It's hard to find anything not made in China these days. Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has approved the use of his country's air force in Nato's Libya mission. Italy was ready to allow its jets to take "targeted military action", he said in a statement. Earlier, a Nato air strike badly damaged buildings in Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli. Poor Gaddafi, I suppose he's feeling terribily misunderstood. More than 470 inmates at a prison in southern Afghanistan have escaped through a tunnel hundreds of metres long and dug from outside the jail. Officials in the city of Kandahar said many of those who escaped from Sarposa jail were Taliban insurgents. Shades of The Great Escape by allied prisoners from a Nazi prison camp during WWII, except all the escapees were goodies

Well, one of the things I'm gonna have to keep in mind on the Odyssey is not to park under a Hills Hoist (clothesline). I just tried Das Busse's poptop and... yeah, you guessed it. *Boink* But the canvas sleeve is in pretty good nick... heavy and sturdy. A minor tear or two that can probably be fixed easily. I had to replace the whole canvas sleeve in the Kombi and that cost $1200 back in '88. The Kombi also wasn't as big, and the fitout wasn't as comprehensive. I'm thinking now that $3500 doesn't normally buy a helluva lot but I reckon I've got my money's worth... and maybe a bit more. By the time repairs are completed, and other various bits and pieces are done, she should do the job well enough. Nothing fancy but practical. Which reminds me, my very first camera was a Russian Praktica. Are they still around? Okay, they weren't Russian but were made in East Germany during Communist occupation.

And there goes another Chewsdee. Slow-cooked steak and vegie pies "from the kitchens of Herbert Adams" and chips for HIM and me, and scrambled eggs, tomato, cheese and chips for HER. That should do the trick. Gary

April 25, 2011. Easter Mondee, and also ANZAC Day, the day we commemorate the Aussie and New Zealand diggers who died during all wars, with particular emphasis on Gallipoli. They say that Gallipoli was the birthplace of Aussie mateship, and the scene of the battle that cemented Australia as a nation with a common purpose. All Aussies are Aussies first and everything else second.

ANZAC Day has something in common with Cody. ANZAC Day has the Dawn Service, and Cody had the Dawn Patrol where he'd paddle out beyond the breakers at his local beach and watch the sun rise. It was a very special time for him, and one he shared with Mark one morning.

Meanwhile, on the subject of hood ornaments, TX Greg says they do things a bit differently over there in Texas. But here's one that appeals more to my way of thinking. I love a sense of humor.

Greg also sent a pic of a hood ornament that was a facsimile of an African male appendage, which I'm not sure is appropriate for the kiddies who might be reading this page.

Monday is start Das Busse day just to see if she's still working. Yep, she started okay. So I let her idle for a while and warm up. I also cleaned one of the chrome wheels with steel wool, soap and water to see if it would make a difference. It improved, but not a whole lot. Oh well, they are 27 years old ya know, and don't look too bad from a short distance.

Beeb time: A Nato air strike on the Libyan capital Tripoli badly damages buildings in Col Muammar Gaddafi's compound, officials and witnesses say. Gaddafi's not gonna be too pleased about this, ya know. The former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, is to be moved to a military hospital in Cairo after a doctor declared him well enough to travel. He has been in hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since falling ill during questioning about corruption allegations and protesters' deaths. I'm not only amazed that certain individuals have the audacity to assume power over everyone else, but also that ordinary people allow it to happen. Australia and New Zealand remember their war dead on Anzac Day, with Australian PM Julia Gillard attending a ceremony in South Korea. Lest we forget. A man has been overpowered by cabin crew on an Alitalia flight from Paris to Rome, after he drew out a small knife and demanded the plane divert to the Libyan capital, Tripoli. A female flight attendant was slightly injured as the man was subdued. The bloody dingalings are everywhere. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta duet You're The One That I Want, from 1978 film Grease, is the best-selling movie track in the UK, research shows. Yeah, great song. And I don't care what the rappers think

Actually, I don't care for rap period. Maybe some of the songs are okay, and I admit I like the dancing, but generally, rap schmapp. As to dingalings, the problem with dingalings is that they don't know they're dingalings. Dingalings are completely unaware of their cerebral shortcomings. A dingaling asks his brain what he should do, and the brain says something stupid, and the guy says cool, that's what I'll do. Hehe. It's a worry.

Oh... and if you're not aware of You're The One That I Want from the musical Grease, here it is. It's good fun.

Just spotted a shot on Red Bubble which seems to answer any doubts I may have about Aussie Odyssey. Interesting that the shot was taken not far from here at Kempsey, a town where I lived and worked back in '77 before I returned to Sydney. I used to drink at the Royal Hotel which was a pretty rough old pub back then. There were chalk marks on the floor to warn patrons of rotten floorboards hehe, and I used to park my bicycle just inside the door of the main bar. One time a group of Aborigines there invited me to join them on a walkabout. "Don't bring anything except the clothes you're wearing. We'll live off the land." "You mean witchetty grubs?" "Yeah... and goanna. You'll be right, mate. Good tucker." "Thanks but, er, no thanks." Sheesh.

Well, I suppose it's time to take care of the domestics again... bacon and eggs and chips. Gary

April 24, 2011. TX Greg commented on the Bush Rally yesterday: I noticed in the car show photos that the crowd seem to be mainly older folks. Kind of surprised me, as a kid I enjoyed going to shows like those. Wingham is a rural town with a pop of 4000, and pretty old school. I think the audience at Forster/Tuncurry would be a lot different. It's a much bigger town on the coast with lots of beaches and a large surfing fraternity, especially during the Easter Holiday period. Maybe I should have gone there to take pics. :o)

Meanwhile, Greg reckons he's gonna seach for a Rolls Royce hood ornament to send me so I can attach it to Das Busse. Hehe. He also points out that AO's hits have exceeded the 20,000 mark. Well, that's according to one counter. My ISP provides a web analysis service (cPanel) that has different figures. According to Webalyzer, visits average about 120 a day. Visits for the past 12 months total 36,000 whereas the 20,000 figure from the counter on the home page is spread over 4 years. Visits are distinct from hits... hits can be from robots or whatever. Hits for the past 12 months are almost 450,000. So which one do you believe? I dunno. I just keep pluggin' away regardless. It gives me something to do in my old age.

Oregon Richie was pretty chuffed with the Bush Rally pics as well: AND it appeared to be fantastic weather during the antique and classic auto show and that is one SPLENDID collection of vehicles.  I loved it !!  There was a fascinating representation there... and was very impressive.  I loved the classic Citroen DS series and of course that majestic and advanced Citroen SM.  That was the Motor Trend "car of the year" back in 74 or 75 and I remember that fact.  Really lovely.

Soooo, Bush Rally, huh? City Slickers from the "Big Smoke" always refer to us country dwellers as "Bushies" hehe. But I was raised in the city, so there. Mind you, a Bush Rally in the US would mean something entirely different.

Well, I must've been in a bit of a tizz yesterday because I just re-did the Bush Rally album and posted it again and it's fine. There was something wrong with the thumbnails but it's okay now.

Beeb time: President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen agrees to step down under a 30-day transition plan to end increasingly violent unrest over his rule. Time write your memoirs, Ali. At least 12 people are killed as Syrian security forces open fire at funerals for anti-government protesters killed on Friday, reports say. No wonder they're trying to rid their country of bullies and dictators. The US military confirms the first strike by an unmanned Predator drone aircraft in Libya, which destroyed a rocket launcher near Misrata. It's not looking good, Mr Gaddafi. The former president and chairman of Sony, Norio Ohga, who was credited with developing the compact disc, dies aged 81. Thanks, Norio, I owe you. The Austrian capital Vienna has announced plans to erect a memorial in honour of soldiers who deserted from Adolf Hitler's army, the Wehrmacht. The city council has yet to decide the exact location, but campaigners want it to be put in Heldenplatz (Heroes Square) alongside war memorials. The square is also where Hitler, born in Austria, addressed crowds in 1938 when Austria was annexed to Germany. Since the 1980s Austria has taken a series of steps acknowledging the role its citizens played in Nazi atrocities. So there ya go, Adolf. How do you feel now, you disgusting moron. Car engines could soon be fired by lasers instead of spark plugs, researchers say. A team at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics will report on 1 May that they have designed lasers that could ignite the fuel/air mixture in combustion engines. The approach would increase efficiency of engines, and reduce their pollution, by igniting more of the mixture. Ah ha! More progress. New York taxi driver Mohammed Alam has picked up the fare of a lifetime - $5,000 (£3,000) to drive across the US to Los Angeles. Investment banker John Belitsky said he and friend Dan Wuebben wanted to do something "magical". They decided on a cab ride to LA and struck the deal with Mr Alam after finding him at LaGuardia Airport. The 2,448-mile trip took six days and included a stop in Las Vegas where the friends won $2,000. I like a sense of adventure! We probably all should do something crazy at least once in our lives. It is time to put aside your digital camera or phone and get back to basics. This Sunday, 24 April, is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, a celebration of the simplest form of photography. It seems to me there is a resurgence of interest in less complicated styles, where the technology does not overwhelm the end result or indeed the photographer. There is nothing simpler than a pinhole camera, a black box with a pinhole on one side that allows light to fall on a piece of photographic film or paper. Interesting article, with a link to a Flickr page with pinhole examples. Iraq's government must decide within weeks whether it wants any US troops to remain beyond the end of 2011, the top US military officer has said. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm Mike Mullen said the US had soon to begin planning to withdraw the 47,000 troops and military kit still there. On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said Iraqi troops could handle security duties when US troops pull out, more than eight years after the initial invasion to throw out Saddam Hussein's regime. One way or the other, it'll be interesting to see what happens

I just spotted a wonderful creation on Red Bubble hehe.

I've just been checking out camping gear... cooking, furniture, storage, bedding, all that stuff, just to see what's available these days. It's all pretty amazing not to mention clever. But that can wait for another day. Right now, I've gotta hit the kitchen and feed THEM, as well as myself. Gary

April, 23, 2011. Shortly I'll whizz out to Wingham to check out Stanley. The sky is blue and the sun is bright, so I couldn't have asked for better weather.

Meanwhile, TX Greg wrote to say that the Sydney Tunnels was a cool vid, but he was puzzled by the lack of traffic and asked if it was shot on a weekend. I'd say so. I've spent many a weekday morning and afternoon during peak hour barely moving. On weekends, it took 10 minutes from my house in the inner west to drive across the bridge to North Sydney. During peak hour, it took an hour or more. But that was before the Harbor Tunnel was built so it might be better now.

Sydney is like any other growing city. The population increases and the infrastructure needs to be constantly upgraded. There's an exodus of retirees leaving Sydney to live in places like The Manning Valley, and what happens? Yeah... same old story. I used to travel though Taree quite often 30 and 40 years ago when it was a country town with no large shopping centers. Now there are five. Still and all, I'd rather live in a place like this than a big city. The pace is much less frantic, and the people are less hyped. AND there are all kinds of birds doing their thing in the mornings, which beats the hell out of an alarm clock.

Old Kev and Averil next door arrived in Taree over 20 years ago expecting to stay for maybe six months or a year. Yeah, right. Kev is now buried here, and Averil's plot is right next to his. She hasn't carked it yet but Taree is where she will. And why not? It's as good as anywhere else.

The reason Lindsay, Sue and I are here is because we got the flick from our last flat in Sydney when it was sold. So I checked the internet for cheap rentals and found Taree. Why not? An 8-room house sounded far better than some pokey flat in inner Sydney, so here we are. 10 years later, the rent here is STILL less than what we paid for a dump in Petersham.

Okies, it's been a busy day, and I've posted the photo album of the vintage/classic cars. I think there might be a fault with the album so I'll check it again tomorrow. I've been buggerizing around with it for hours, and now it's kitchen time. I've run outta time. Gary

April 22, 2011. TX Greg wrote and sent a couple of pics: The wildfires you mention have been burning about 60 miles west of here. Really been bad, hundreds of homes and livestock lost and a couple of deaths. The evening sunset has been really eerie thru the smoke filled sky. At least we're getting a little rain today. Hard to believe that just two months ago I was snow bound in the house, go figure.

A stone landscape figure sits among a burned mobil home park near Possum Kingdom Lake on Saturday April 16 2011

Ash and smoke in the sky looking west towards the fires around Graford and Possum Kingdom Lake April 19, 2011

I'll be a long way from the Aussie bush during peak fire season on the Odyssey, I can promise you. Rule #1: Don't go anywhere you don't wanna go.

NC Art commented on hate crimes in his email titled 'Swishing Muslims': Two weeks ago in a South Carolina city, two teen boys were heading home late after a concert. They stopped for a soda at an all-night convenience store and parked around the corner of the store because no parking was available in front. One boy started into the store when he was called an obscene and profane name meaning gay guy. He turned ready to fight and was knocked unconscious by a hoodlum, then beaten by a dozen thugs. 
    Most states have a hate crime law, but S.C. does not. The local officials and legislators rejected all petitions to enact such a law, saying the reason for such a crime doesn't matter and criminal assault laws are sufficient. Further they reason that prosecutors would bear an extra burden in prosecuting special circumstance cases. Besides the thugs knew the guy was homo because he "walked that way." Which I suppose means he deserved to get bruised, cut, stomped and kicked half to death. O tempora, O mores, O hell!
    And so, Muslim authorities appear to have their heads as far up their ass as the fine Christian folks in Rock Hill, S.C. Too bad the boys walked with a swish of the gluteus maximus, which must mean absolutely that they are effing SINNERS! You may be able to cure the swish, but no one can alter the sex orientation, even praying Baptists, pope or prelate or masochistic Mormons. But they keep driving kids to suicide by their monumental ignorance and foolish pride. GRR!

My take on hate crimes and bullying is simply this: People with normal, healthy self-esteem have nothing to prove. They have no need to put another person down in order to boost their own ego. So how does that apply to competitive sport? Winning a race is not about putting your competitors down, it's about being the best you can be.

However, there can be a funny side to putting other people down: Yo mama's so ugly, when she joined an ugly contest, they said "Sorry, no professionals." Yo mama's so ugly, she looks like her face caught on fire and they put it out with a fork.

Lady Astor: Winston:  If I were married to you, I'd put poison in your coffee. 
Sir Winston Churchill:  Nancy, if you were my wife, I'd drink it.

Wife of prominent politician to Winston Churchill (with distain in her voice): Mr. Churchill, you are drunk!
Mr. Churchill: Yes, madam, and you are ugly. But in the morning, I will be sober, and you will still be ugly. 

Muhammad Ali: Joe Frazier is so ugly he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wildlife.

Anyway, the thing about bullies is they don't have the intellect for witty retorts, or much else for that matter. They're fuckwits, to put it mildly. On the other hand, if you're on the receiving end of insults, I think it's important to see the funny side, to be self-effacing, and to laugh at yourself before anyone else can. It's a mistake to take oneself too seriously, methinks.

Let's take a quick drive through some of Sydney's tunnels and then over the Harbor Bridge into the city. I'd love a dollar for every time I've driven over the old Coathanger. Over? Maybe that should be across.

Beeb time: The US is deploying armed Predator drones to carry out missions in Libya, as rebels continue fighting troops loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi. You'd think Gaddafi and his supporters would have gotten the message by now. The Antarctic ozone hole has changed weather patterns across the Southern Hemisphere and partly caused Australia's recent droughts, a study finds. And the floods? A protester calling for the release of a US soldier accused of leaking secret government documents has disrupted a talk by US President Barack Obama. At a campaign fundraising event in San Francisco on Thursday, a woman stood up during the president's remarks. Before she sang the woman stripped off her suit jacket to reveal a black T-shirt reading "Free Bradley Manning". But she assured the president she would vote for him in 2012, singing: "Look at the Republicans, what else can we do?" How interesting. A toddler who fell from a third-floor Florida hotel balcony has escaped injury after being caught by a British woman on holiday. Jah-Nea Myles, 16 months, apparently slipped through the balcony railing and fell into the arms of Helen Beard. Ms Beard, from Worksop, had been at the pool at Orlando's Econo Lodge hotel when she saw the baby hanging from the railing and ran underneath, she said. She held the child until emergency medical workers arrived. Jeez, how lucky can you get?

I parked Bluey behind a huge caravan yesterday, which made Bluey look like a Morris Mini. It was tall and wide, and probably about 40' long, towed by a new Landrover. The package had to be worth at least a quarter of a million. "That's a very serious caravan," I said to the woman as she opened the side door. "We just picked it up." Yeah, I can believe it... it looked brand new. I couldn't see much inside but it seemed very posh, and certainly made Das Busse look pretty ordinary. She said they (she and her husband) wanted to see Australia but that she was nervous about traveling. "I'm very much a homebody." Well, I don't think she'll be missing her usual home comforts in that thing. "You'll be right," I said, "just think of all the stories you'll be able to tell." I imagine they're loaded, and won't be roughing it like I will. They'll be staying at luxury caravan parks. No cold showers for them. Hehe.

I suppose during my travels I'll rub shoulders with all kinds of people... backpackers on a budget, the vagabonds, the wealthy, the in-betweens, tourists, locals on a weekend camp, truckies, bikers, you name it. There'll be no shortage of variety. But like that woman I'm still nervous about the whole idea of not "belonging" to a particular place. Routine is a bit like a drug ya know... it can become very addictive.

So tomorrow morning it's off to Wingham Town Hall where the local mayor will welcome participants in the classic and vintage auto rally. I'm hoping to get some good shots of the two Stanley Steamers and other cars. I saw one motor past my place this morning, a late '30s Pontiac. There are supposed to be about 200 cars participating, so I'm gonna be a busy boy to get as many shots as I can before they all leave on the rally, which will take them to Forster-Tuncurry. Meanwhile, the speedboats are back on the Manning here in Taree making a bloody racket.

If you'd like some technical info about the Stanley Motor Carriages, click here. It's very interesting.

I was fiddling around in Das Busse when little Keiran walked past with a mate, both carrying fishing rods. But their excursion to the river was interrupted by young Josh who arrived on the scene in the back seat of a flash black Mazda driven by a blonde girl. He was shirtless, and chatted away with his younger bro on the other side of the road. He didn't even acknowledge me although I was cleary visible. I wasn't sure it was him at first. He'll be 20 this August. He's filled out and put on a bit of weight. But his laugh and mannerisms haven't changed. Oh well, they come and they go, ya know.

Ohio Jace sent an Easter e-card of a dog with a wagging tail. He was spotting eggs which turned into various things including a duckling (that immediately adopted the dog) and spring flowers and a rising spring sun. Cute. But Jace is not enjoying the real weather at the mo: We received about 4 cm of rain Friday and Saturday, then almost 5 cm Monday into Tuesday with at least that much more Tuesday into Wednesday. Those storms were rather severe around three in the morning and I slept through the whole thing including the tornado sirens. It is about to start raining again and continue throughout the weekend to end sometime late Easter Sunday with around 12 cm of rain. It is possible for more tornadoes too. We had 11 in Ohio overnight Tuesday-Wednesday. No deaths or injuries, but lots of damage. The rivers and streams are already out of their banks so it might get dicey around here.

Well, the weather here on the Mid North Coast is perfect... T-shirt, clean undies and barefoot. Sorry, Jace. Meanwhile, back in Ohio, it's Easter Dinner for Jace and June at Sean's place. All the boys are back for the Easter holiday. My best wishes to the whole gang, Jace, and thanks mucho for the card. Also thanks for the info about dinosaurs, spider webs, snakes and mozzies. Jace says the #1 killer of man over the centuries, including man himself, all predators and natural disasters such as earthquakes is... the humble mozzie and malaria.

And so the sun sets on Good Friday in Taree, Oz. Chicken and chips. Gary

April 21, 2011. Lots of blue sky and sunshine to welcome all the holidaymakers from the cities and the west to the Mid North Coast. Bleh. They clog up the local supermarket. But the area needs the tourist dollars.

NC Art wrote: Remember that spiders have their place in the Big Scheme. Very good they are at eliminating as many smaller pests as possible--flies, gnats and noseeums. But they can sure startle. And irritate when one encounters a vast web swinging across your path; damned near impossible to scrape away all that gauze from your face and arms.

Yeah, been there, done that. But according to my logic, if God hadn't created all those pests such as flies, gnats and noseeums, there'd be no need for spiders. (Took me a while to figure out 'noseeums' hehe).

Then there are some nasty spiders best left alone unless you can execute them quickly and safely. The Black Widow bite will cause much misery and a long time to heal because the venom digests your flesh in an enlarging pattern for weeks. Also they have been known to kill young children and elderly folks with weak immune systems. Another vicious and more poisonous critter is the Brown Recluse which hides in dark places, such as your socks drawer, and delivers a life threatening bite when one pokes about in the clothing chest. Don't dream about all this tonight! In U. S. Southwest, I found that scorpions were particularly fond of crawling in your shoes at night. Encountering one with a toe while donning your boots will be a fine reminder to shake the boot vigorously before inserting foot every morning. 

In Oz we have a relative of the Black Widow, the Funnel Web Spider. A bite can cause death within 15 minutes to a couple of days unless a pressure bandage is applied, and anti-venom treatment is sought quickly. They're mostly found around the Sydney area but bites/attacks are very rare.

As with most venomous creatures in Oz (and there are plenty of them), they tend to mind their own business unless disturbed or feel threatened, so it's wise to be aware of their habitats and exercise care. In the tropics, we have a couple of nasties that definitely need to be avoided, such as the blue-ringed octopus, (12 to 20 cm (5 to 8 inches), but its venom is powerful enough to kill humans. There is no blue-ringed octopus antivenom available), and the stone fish, the most venomous fish in the world. Tread on it and it's good night. 

Have you heard of Greyson Fletcher? Well, he knows a thing or two about skating. If you don't like noisy music, mute the vid. I did.

Now what about a caravan that doesn't need towing? This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen.

I have no idea what this song is all about but it's fun. Hehe.

And now for something more serious and beautiful. How I wish I could tickle the ivories like that.

Back from shopping, and it's bedlam up there... all the holiday makers stocking up for Easter, plus the local panic merchants worrying about the shops being closed for ONE DAY on Good Friday. Yes, yes, yes, I know I was there too but that's different. :-P

Beeb time: The UN warns that sending troops to escort aid deliveries to Libya risks blurring the line between military operations and humanitarian work. Of course it does, but despite the rhetoric, the West is itching to get its boots on the ground in Libya anyway. At the moment it's like trying to eat a Big Mac with your hands tied behind your back. Detainees at an Australian centre for processing asylum seekers in Sydney riot and set fire to a number of buildings. So you invite yourself into another person's home, don't like the way you're treated, and then burn it down. Charming. Join the queue like everyone else, or don't come here. BP sues for billions in damages two companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico a year ago. And the blame game continues. Firefighters in the US state of Texas are battling to contain wildfires which have burned more than one million acres in the past fortnight. One official told CNN fires were burning "from border to border", with some covering more than 100,000 acres. Long-term drought, high temperatures and gusting winds have created ideal conditions for the fires to spread. Sounds like Oz in high summer. China Mobile, the world's largest mobile (cell phone) operator, has surpassed 600 million subscribers after increasing its number of customers in rural areas. The company added 16.8 million users between January and March, it said. China Mobile also said its profits climbed 5.4% to 26.9bn yuan ($4.1bn; £2.5bn) in the quarter, compared with the same period a year earlier. Mind boggling figures compared to Oz and our 22 million total population. I remember it was 11 million when I was a kid. A former Rutgers University student faces 15 charges after allegedly using a webcam to spy on a homosexual encounter involving his roommate, who committed suicide afterwards. A Middlesex County grand jury charged Dharun Ravi with bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and other charges. Tyler Clementi, 18, jumped to his death from a bridge on 22 September. Ravi is a bully and deserves everything he gets. I have no sympathy for him whatsoever. A camp set up to correct the effeminate behaviour of Muslim schoolboys violates the law and should be abolished, says Malaysia's women's minister. Sixty-six schoolboys identified by teachers as effeminate began counselling this week to discourage them from being gay. They are undergoing four days of religious and physical education. I agree with the minister. It's the behavior of the teachers that needs correcting. Yum Brands, which owns fast food chains Pizza Hut and KFC, reports better-than-expected profits for the first quarter. Well, well, well, I didn't know Pizza Hut and KFC were owned by Chinese interests. Mind you, the Chinese know a thing or two about food, and have for thousands of years. A study of the birth of a chimpanzee reveals that the animals give birth in a way that was thought to be unique to humans. So what are they saying? That humans aren't animals? 

Well, it's THAT time again. Pork chops for THEM and I think I'll make myself a burger. I made rissoles the other night that need using... a bit of cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion and a rissole with a dollop of tamaaaata sauce on a toasted bun sounds pretty good to me. Oh, and my Toyota Hiace manual hasn't arrived yet, but I'll live. Gary

April 20, 2011. Today or tomorrow, I expect to receive my new book, Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Old Toyota Hiaces But Were Afraid To Ask. It's published by Gregory's, the automotive and roadmap people, so it's not the original handbook, but nonetheless quite comprehensive. It'll be interesting to check out all the specs.

Just checked the weather forecast for the week and Easter looks pretty good for the tourists and campers... mostly sunny and warm with the possibility of a few showers. No tornados.

There's a 1909 Stanley Steamer in town this weekend along with a bunch of other classic automobiles so I guess I better charge the Fuji batteries and get my saggy old butt out there to take a few pics. Also, a 1922 Stanley Steamer, reputedly owned by Howard Hughes, will be there... not to mention nine million sightseers making a nuisance of themselves and getting in the way of my lens. Oh well...

Beeb time: Libya's foreign minister says a British plan to send a military team to advise rebels would harm chances of peace, as a humanitarian crisis worsens. Worse than that, it could also harm the winning chances of Gaddafi's supporters. UN Security Council members call for restraint and dialogue between protesters and authorities in Yemen, but talks on the crisis end without agreement. That's like sending the UN into the ring during a fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. The US soldier accused of leaking government documents published by Wikileaks is to be moved to a prison in Kansas, officials say. I'm still wondering why the security of those secrets was left in the hands of just one man. A plane carrying US First Lady Michelle Obama is forced to abort a planned landing near Washington after an apparent air traffic control error. I guess a near miss is better than no miss. Japanese exports fell by more than expected in March, as damage from last month's earthquake and tsunami affected shipments. One of the main factors was car exports which tumbled 28% from a year earlier. The tsunami ripples are still rippling. Three young children in the US state of Texas have been injured after a gun brought to school by a six-year-old boy accidentally discharged. The gun went off after falling from the boy's pocket, and three children were injured by fragments, police officials in the city of Houston said. Police said the child who brought the gun was among the injured. Hello, parents? Are you paying attention? Scotland Yard says it has rejected an application by a radical Islamist group to protest outside Westminster Abbey on royal wedding day. The group, Muslims against Crusades, was behind a poppy-burning protest on Armistice Day. How to win friends and influence people. Scientists have described a Chinese spider they say is the biggest fossilised arachnid yet found. The female, which lived about 165 million years ago, belongs to a collection of spiders well known today - the golden orb weavers. These creatures make webs from a very tough and distinctively golden silk. The researchers tell the journal Biology Letters that Nephila jurassica, as they have called their specimen, would have had a leg span of some 15cm. And my legs would have a considerably longer span if I saw something like that coming towards me

Yep, I'm arachnophobic... to an extent. I don't shriek or anything, but I'm not too keen on things with lots of long, spindly, hairy legs. A phobia is defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational. Irrational it may be, but I'd rather not get too cosy with a spider in my sleeping bag or under my shirt. I took a pic of one in my garden recently.

Anyway, ladies and genitals, it's been a pretty lazy day... not much occurring... but I did spend a while poking around in Das Busse, checking out the furniture. Apart from the scuffs, etc, it's actually in pretty good nick. No water damage or anything like that. Many of the campervans selling at double the price don't have a proper fitout, with all the cupboards and drawers and a stainless steel sink... let alone a pop top. Soooooo, maybe I haven't done too badly. Gary

April  19, 2011. Well, it was nice to hear that NC Art wasn't a victim of the tornados wreaking havoc on America's south: North Carolina storm damage ran primarily through the state's center. And it was hellish in several places. A large Lowe's Home Improvement store in Sanford was totally destroyed, but miraculously no one was seriously injured. Staffers saw the tornado coming, herded everyone into the rear of the store where there was protection under steel and concrete warehouse. On Sunday more than 160.000 people were without power and will be for days still. I live on the extreme eastern area where we had strong winds and some heavy rain, but no damage!

Fancy that... of all things, a home improvement store was flattened. BTW, Lowes in Oz is a clothing store... been around forever.

I checked out canvas awnings yesterday on the web. There's one that comes with a movable, attachable side wall that can also be used to extend the depth. If it's a bit windy from one direction, or the sun is low in the sky, you zip the wall at the appropriate end or even in front. It also serves to give you a bit of privacy if the camping site is crowded. Aren't zippers wonderful?

An Oz wildlife program on telly the other night showed how snakes and lizards use asphalt roadways to warm their bodies... in the same way reptiles use rocks for sunbaking. Asphalt retains the heat of the day even after sunset. So that's something to watch out for. We don't want one of those guys coiled around the underbody of the bus, do we?

The host of the show did something interesting. He spotted a desert death adder on the road and wanted to check it out. He's a zoologist and wildlife expert. He took off his shirt and threw it over the snake (which wasn't all that big but big enough to kill a person with one bite). The darkness subdued the snake and the host was able to hold it behind its head, with his thumb placed in such a way as to prevent it biting. So there ya go... the old shirt over the snake trick. Hehe. I dunno about throwing a shirt over a crocodile though... that could be a bit tricky.

Beeb time: President Goodluck Jonathan appeals for an end to "unnecessary and avoidable" post-election violence across northern Nigeria. Unnecessary and avoidable. Yes, think of just how many conflicts that could be applied to. Thousands of anti-government protesters have occupied the centre of Syria's third largest city, Homs, demanding a change to the country's leadership. Blame the internet. Less than two weeks after a gunman shot dead 12 children at a school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian students who survived return to their classrooms. As if nothing ever happened? Yeah, right. The governor of Arizona has vetoed a bill requiring presidential candidates to prove US citizenship in order to get on the state's election ballot. Republican Jan Brewer said the bill would have allowed officials to judge who is eligible to run for office. A lingering "birther" conspiracy theory asserts US President Barack Obama was not born in the US and is thus ineligible to hold the office. The US constitution requires the president be a "natural born citizen", a clause widely interpreted to mean born in the US or in some cases to US citizens abroad. Mr Obama has released a certificate of live birth showing he was born in the US state of Hawaii, where officials vouch for its authenticity. Oh dear... one of these days someone's gonna discover that Jesus wasn't born in the US. Or Einstein either for that matter. Italian chocolate tycoon Pietro Ferrero has died in an accident in South Africa, a company spokesman has said. Mr Ferrero, 48, was on a business trip and died after falling off his bicycle, probably because of an ailment, the company said. His father Michele, Italy's richest man, turned the company into a global giant of the confectionery industry. What a way for a rich man to go... falling off a bicycle. US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama made $1.8m (£1.11m) last year, mostly through sales of the president's books, tax returns show. The couple's income dropped from $5.5m in 2009 and from $2.6m in 2008, a decline the tax documents attribute to slower book sales. Mr Obama's salary as US president was $395,000. I dunno how he manages to make ends meet. Animated family comedy Rio has topped the North American box office according to initial figures. The film about a birdnapped macaw, which features the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, took $40m (£24.6m) in its first three days. If you want a bit of fun, parrots are definitely the way to go. In the years after 9/11 the threat to America from Islamist militants seemed to come exclusively from abroad, but recent events have disproved that assumption - and posed the question how to prevent the radicalisation of Muslim immigrants. An article to cheer you up if you live in the US

Back from shopping, and bought a pack of fresh hot-cross buns (extra soft) from the bakery. I didn't need 'em but what the hell. I buttered two (proper butter, none of that margarine shit) and gave one to Sue. YUM! I offered one to Lindsay... "Don't eat 'em." Hehe. He doesn't sit on toilet seats or use umbrellas either.

The checkout chick said she's getting 4 days off over the Easter break. "So what are you doing?" "Nothing... staying home. Too much traffic on the roads." Yep, she's right. The Mid North Coast goes crazy during holiday periods, so it's best to keep a low profile until all the 'blow ins' go back home. That's something I'll have to consider on the Odyssey... peak holiday periods when it's best to stay right away from the popular spots, and off the roads. What the alternative is I dunno, but I guess I'll find out.

Meanwhile, the Tandoori chicken's in the oven, the herbed spuds are in the oven, so I can watch a bit of telly while dinner's cooking. Gary

April 18, 2011. I wrote a comment on Justin's blog that reminded me of my boyhood, and how uncomplicated life was. My family was holidaying at Taylor's Point, on Pittwater on Sydney's northern peninsular. I was about 10 or 11, and met another kid at the nearby swimming enclosure. He was from Melbourne. I remember that because he said it was better than Sydney. Oh really? Then why are you holidaying in Sydney? Anyway, we struck up a friendship and he invited me to join him aboard his father's speedboat... one of those clinker built, inboards from the '50s. Remember those? It was the kid who drove the boat... his dad was nowhere in sight. So there I was, a kid from the working class 'burbs who'd never seen a speedboat except at the movies, let alone ridden in one, whizzing around Pittwater. It was a most amazing experience for me. If memory serves me correctly, the kid said the boat was capable of 45mph. The power and speed of the thing was most impressive, as well as the way the stern sat deep in the water as it accelerated, and the bow lifted.

But the main reason I mention this story is because kids can become best mates in less than an hour. There are no complications. It's all so straightforward and uninhibited. Kids just wanna have fun.

After another week sitting in my yard, Das Busse started first go just now with no problem. It blew a little smoke at first (probably because of the rich mixture on auto choke) but then settled down. Back in 1962, I had a 1951 Morris Oxford. When I turned on the ignition for a cold start, I could hear an electric petrol pump clicking away, sending fuel to the carby. Guess what?  After half a century I'm hearing it again. The Bus also has an electric fuel pump. Click, click, click. But quite often with the old Morris, I'd have to get a nail file and clean the points in the electrical thingy to get the damn pump working again.

Beeb time: Goodluck Jonathan is set for election as Nigeria's president with almost double the vote of his main rival, partial results suggest. With a name like that, I'm not surprised. He also looks like he has oodles of charisma, which is always a plus. Rescuers are searching for survivors in North Carolina after three days of storms and tornadoes in the American South killed at least 45 people. An emergency was declared in the state, which was hit by up to 62 tornadoes and suffered 21 deaths, the highest toll for any of the states affected. Deaths were also reported in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Virginia. My goodness, I hope you guys are okay. The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says it expects to bring the plant to "cold shutdown" by the end of the year. Better luck next time

Jeez, it's 4pm already and I've done very little. I did check the gas bottle in Das Busse. Looks a bit old to me. I think I might chuck it and get a newie. Those things have a habit of going boom if they're not in good nick. But all the connections look okay.

Also, I got a reply from the previous owner about the oil level in the sump. in regards to the engine oil level i usually will fill to half to full on the dipstick and this was the level a few weeks ago. Okay, so that means I didn't use a liter of oil getting from Tamworth to Taree. Cool. As to the head reconditioning: I would be looking for other reasons for the engine run on as the valves were vacuum tested after machining etc and tested ok. The run-on isn't all that bad... just a bit of a wobble before the engine shuts down. Sooooo.... maybe I'm freaking for no reason. The owner goes on to say: For interest sake I have not experienced any engine run on with the van, but have not driven more than 30 to 40 kilometres at a time apart from the initial trip from Canberra.

So there ya go, more food for thought. Gary

April 17, 2011. And still on the subject of bananas, Arizona Dan sent this particular species. Dan didn't say what you're supposed to do with it, and I didn't ask.

Meanwhile, NC Art wrote: Agreed, the brains of bullies are brick thick. Every school has one, and mine was no different. One day I noticed a clump of students and walked over to see what was happening. Turns out it was Bill Berry and his worshippers. Bill gave me a shove in the face to impress his coterie, but Cody-like I popped him in the nose. He proceeded to pound me all over the gravel yard. Oddly, after that we got along better than I actually wanted. His sister had red hair and a motor mouth and...a crush on me! Took two years to shake her off.

Yes, those pesky redheads. I was one of them. Now I'm a pesky whitehead.

Art goes on to tell another story of how Europeans stuff up the natural environment to suit their short-sighted purposes (like they did in parts of Oz) only to realize they should have left it the way it was: The lush and watery Florida De Soto saw has undergone a metamorphosis. To build houses, roads and golf courses required re-engineering the land, so all the cypress trees were bulldozed, the swamp drained and people were lured to this paradise. Now they are scratching all over to find water for drinking, washing and getting grass to grow on fairways and greens. All this to get sun tans, skin cancers and exclusive golf course memberships. And so, billions are now spent trying to get water back in the Everglades and Big Cypress swamps. What fools these mortals be, quoth Puck. 

As to Das Busse, Oregon Richie suggests I prioritize what needs to be done. Cool. So, first off I'll save up to get the body work and rust done. After that, I'll attend to the mechanicals. Then I'll register the Bus and sell Bluey at the same time. And after that, I'll attend to cosmetic work such as upholstery repairs, etc, and finally solar. The whole project will take several months but what the hell. I ain't goin' nowheres.

Back to China and its relationship with Oz. During the '50s and '60s, China was referred to as 'The Yellow Peril'. Oz was in danger of being overrun by the Communist Asian menace. And if that wasn't enough to scare the daylights out of your average Aussie, we also had to worry about 'The Reds', those nasty Communist Soviets. Now of course, our two biggest trading partners are China and Japan, and relations are most cordial. The yuan and the yen have won our hearts and minds. Hehe. How times change. Even the Ruskies are cool.

I remember a middle-age married couple moving into our street back in the '50s. They were Russian. But my mom told me not to worry cos they were 'white Russian'. I guess she was telling me they weren't red. Hehe. God knows what the difference was but it satisfied my mom that they weren't gonna cause any trouble.

Beeb time: Cuban President Raul Castro has said top political positions should be limited to two five-year terms, and promised "systematic rejuvenation" of the government. President Castro was speaking at the start of the first congress of Cuba's ruling Communist Party in 14 years. He said the party leadership was in need of renewal and should subject itself to severe self-criticism. Onya Raul. You get no argument from me. The party of deposed Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo, the Ivorian Popular Front, has appealed for an end to fighting by armed groups. Party leader Pascal Affi N'Guessan said the "war" had to end in order to allow Ivory Coast a chance to rebuild. You bloody drongos should have realized that in the first place. Three days of severe storms leave 21 people dead in the US south, with the Carolinas the latest states to suffer as they move east. Sounds like NC Art will be battening down the hatches. Mexico's navy arrests the main suspect in the murder of 145 people whose bodies were found in mass graves in Tamaulipas state earlier this month. Good. Tens of millions of Nigerians have taken part in Africa's biggest presidential election, amid hopes of the most credible poll in two decades. Good again. Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage has been arrested after an alleged drunken argument with his wife in New Orleans. Mr Cage has been charged with domestic abuse, disturbing the peace and public drunkenness. Will the real Nicolas Cage please rise. Comedian Stephen Fry has said he is "prepared to go to prison" over the "Twitter joke" trial. Fry was at a benefit gig for a man who is appealing against his conviction for sending a menacing communication. Paul Chambers had tweeted: "Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week... otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!" Fry argued that Chambers' tweet was an example of Britain's tradition of self-deprecating humour and banter. Chambers' case has become a cause celebre on Twitter, with hundreds of people reposting his original comments in protest at the conviction. "This [verdict] must not be allowed to stand in law," Fry said, adding that he would continue to repeat Chambers' message and face prison "if that's what it takes". Humor can be a tricky business. I'm a great fan of dry humor where the joker pretends to be terribly serious, and you're left to wonder whether he is or not

Justin answered my question about same-sex kissing in public on his blog.

Wanna see what a Beetle can do?

You know what I don't like? I don't like dirt roads when it rains. So I'm gonna have to keep my eye on the weather before I camp somewhere and suddenly there's a downpour and I'm TRAPPED! I think when I do my first test Odyssey it'll be somewhere around this area. There are lots of national parks and beachside camping sites. It'll be interesting to spend a few days checking out the vagabond lifestyle, and maybe chat to a few seasoned travelers. If I were still a kid I'd think this whole Odyssey idea was a fantastic adventure, but I'm an oldie now and a scaredy cat.

I'm not sure about Das Busse's dimensions but I think it's a good 18 inches longer than Bluey. It's pretty big. Having it parked in the yard gives me plenty of opportunity to check it out and get used to it. Set up with an awning and whatnot, I suppose it could be pretty comfortable. Hmmm. There's one way to find out. I also checked out how long a 2kg gas bottle (which it has) would last. "Enough for a family on a weekend fishing holiday, no worries." Not sure what that means but I guess it means at least breakfast and dinner for 3 or 4 people. It would probably last me a whole week, or longer with access to BBQs. The stove by the way is a two-burner with grill. Das Busse will never be fun to drive, that's for sure, but it could make up for it in other ways.

Averil's home. She phoned just now and bitched about life in hospital. Tell me about it. They're not sure what's wrong with her so I suggested that maybe he's a hypochondriac and she agreed. Hehe.

Meanwhile, time to hit the kitchen and grill a couple of T-bones. Apologies to the cow. Gary

April 16, 2011. Satdee again. Now I know what it's like to be a ten pin. Those bowling balls just keep rollin' down the alley towards me, one after the other.

NC Art wrote an email titled Wurra Wurra, which apparently has something to do with the Virgin Mary's sorrow: Commiserations on your woes with Das Busse. Sure would be swell to get a new engine, auto gear shift, and more peace of mind, but cookies have a way of crumbling just as you make to bite them.

Actually, I think woes is a bit strong... frustrations might be more appropriate, mainly caused by my not being expert in mechanical matters. One of the things that bugs me is how Bluey sails along the freeway at 100+ kph in fifth gear with no fuss. Das Busse, on the other hand, kicks up a noisy stink and revs like buggery. But I guess that's the nature of each beast. One's a racehorse and the other's a donkey.

Yep, the U.S. congress came through with a budget to keep the gov going to September and the fight is going to be a donnybrook to get anything else passed for next year's funding. Yep, our national debt and annual deficits are humongous, so Republicans blame it all on Pres. Obama. Forget the Bush wars which were funded by borrowing trillions while keeping that news buried...and slashing taxes for the wealthiest of the wealthy. Those folks see working folks as parasites--entitled to nothing. Bless their generous little hearts.

It's always been that way. Many hands make light work... for the wealthy. Get the poor buggers to do all the hard slog while the rich have fun playing golf and sipping mint juleps.

Australia is in the pink and in the news on financial telly channel this morning. Debt may reach 6% in 2012! How awful. Meanwhile iron ore has gone up 600% lately and Oz has got lots of it. Also aluminum (aluminium) and wheat. Chairman of Australia/New Zealand Commonwealth Fund opined that it is a great place to invest right now. Oops, that pesky rate of exchange. If I had 1,000 to invest it would cost 2,000 to get in! How are the banana crops doing? Keep smiling.

Hehe. I wish my own personal debt was only 6%. Oz is indeed the lucky country at the mo and I'm not complaining. As to bananas, we New South Welsh call Queenslanders banana benders. Thousands of them are employed to bend bananas before they go to market. Actually, bananas are good tucker... full of vitamins and minerals and one of Nature's best energy foods. Imagine that, Aborigines lived here for 40,000 years without ever having eaten a banana. However, they did invent the boomerang which has a similar shape but doesn't taste very good. They kept  throwing them away but that didn't go any good either.

I wrote Das Busse's previous owner this morning with a few questions about what was done with the head reconditioning and how it might affect oil consumption, etc. Hopefully, his answers will enlighten me somewhat as to the engine's condition. Oregon Richie reckons I should investigate the current engine before I go rushing off to install a new one unnecessarily.

About 2 or 3 this morning, someone threw an egg at the house. I heard the voices but didn't know about the egg until Lindsay carried on about the sky falling in this morning. I figured a bunch of loonies were throwing eggs at each other and one missed its target and hit the house. But then I thought, "Eggs at 2 or 3 in the morning?" So I phoned the cops in case there was a connection between the eggs and a break-in at the local fruit and veg market. Where on earth would those morons get eggs in the middle of the night? "They buy them - or steal them - during the day and put them in their cars." "You mean it's planned in advance?" "Yep, we (the cops) were pelted with eggs in Victoria Street the other night on patrol." So there ya go... cheap thrills for the eggheads. Lindsay automatically assumed we were being targeted by a gang of thugs but it wasn't the case. They were just "little shits" as the cop called them getting up to mischief. So I said to the cop, "I never did things like that when I was a kid." And she said, "I did." Hehe. I was joking, of course. I got up to all kinds of mischief my parents never knew about.

Drama, drama. I noticed Averil's blinds were pulled this morning after 10am, which was unusual. I have keys to her house so I went and checked. No Averil. I phoned the local hospital. Sure enough, she was checked into emergency last night at 8 with rib pains, and she's being held over for observation... something about her heart not getting enough oxygen. "If they keep me here, can you bring me another nightie and underwear?" "No worries. You can borrow some of mine." Anyway, when she's ready to leave, I'll drive up there and give her a lift home.

Beeb time: Pro-government forces in Libya have been accused by a human rights campaign group of using cluster bombs, which are banned by more than 100 countries. Human Rights Watch said one of its photographers had seen three mortar-launched projectiles explode over a residential area of Misrata. A Libyan government spokesman denied the allegation. I think it's come as a surprise to most of us that Gaddafi has so many aces up his sleeve. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power for 12 years, has promised to amend the constitution to "strengthen democracy". Delivering a long-awaited speech on state TV, he said a constitutional commission would be created to draw up the necessary amendments. And one of these days the whole world will enjoy democratic rule. True or false? Ask a Chinaman. Severe storms have left at least nine people dead and destroyed school buildings and dozens of homes in the US states of Arkansas and Oklahoma. A tornado swept through the small town of Tushka, Oklahoma, killing two elderly sisters and injuring at least 25 people, officials said. The National Weather Service said at least 10 tornados struck the central and southern plains regions of the US on Thursday, and warned of tornados and powerful thunderstorms over the southern US states on Friday. Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus. The US Postal Service regrets issuing a stamp featuring a photo of a Las Vegas casino's replica Statue of Liberty rather than the original in New York harbour, a spokesman has said. But the postal service printed three billion of the first-class stamps and will continue to sell them, he said. Cest la vie. A Brazilian gunman who shot dead 12 children at his former school in Rio de Janeiro last week before killing himself was motivated by bullying, letters he wrote have revealed. In them, he praises a US student who killed 32 people in 2007, calling him his "brother". "I hope this serves as a lesson, especially to those school officials who stood by with their arms crossed as students were being attacked, humiliated, ridiculed," Menezes de Oliveira says in one video. "I want to leave very clear that I am not responsible for the deaths that will occur, even though my fingers will be on the trigger," he adds, blaming the murders he went on to commit on bullies. The rambling messages also mention God and quote from the Bible. The bullied becomes the bully. You got it wrong, Menezes. What you did solved nothing. The London Philharmonic Orchestra is to record the national anthems of all 205 countries participating in the 2012 Olympics. Wow! That many! A mass same-sex "kiss-in" has been staged outside a pub in central London where two men said they were ejected on Wednesday for kissing each other. I must say that same-sex kissing still shocks me but probably because I was raised in a different era, and it wasn't something one ever witnessed. Read the full article here

As to this bullying business, bullies need to understand one thing... putting someone else down doesn't improve your stature. You can only improve your standing by being better today than you were yesterday. It has nothing to do with putting others down in order to elevate your own importance. Putting others down does absolutely NOTHING to elevate yourself. In fact, it does the opposite. Get real bullies, you're fulla shit. Then again, that's like asking a brick to explain Einstein's theory of relativity.

Ohio Jace wrote after a long absence to explain that he hasn't fallen off the perch, he just didn't have much to say. Hehe. From Waffle: Doesn't the area of West OZ the Chinese are interested in contain a large or the largest dinosaur trackway (fossil footprints) in the world. If I remember correctly it is kms long. I know there is one in Victoria and several other areas where fossils are concentrated in OZ. West OZ also has some of the oldest rocks on Earth and oldest living lifeforms.

You got me there, Jace. I'm not familiar with fossildom in Oz (apart from my own). But I imagine the Chinese are not all that interested in fossils unless it's fossilized minerals. Fortunately, Western Oz is big... VERY BIG... so hopefully there's room enough for mining and archeology to co-exist. Here's a Red Bubbler who lives in Western Oz and takes some wonderful photographs.

Also from Waffle: The space age might be young, but the Smithsonian Museum [Air and Space] is filled with space memorabilia including Moon rocks. Actually, the Smithsonian contains just about everything ever invented or “created” by nature. The first space shuttle [Enterprise] is currently there (Dulles Airport). It never flew in space, but did fly in the atmosphere to test the vehicle's performance. It made around 16 test “flights” in the late 1970s. All of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules that flew in space, except one are in museums somewhere. One Mercury capsule [Liberty Bell] sits on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Yes, I hear what you're saying, Jace. But it all seems so relatively recent to me. And it's kinda scary that all that stuff is being museumized (you like that?) so soon! I'm not even dead yet!

Apart from that, the Ohio gang is fine and things are pretty normal except for the weather. Jace reckons they're "having a winter that will not end". Richie says the same thing about his winter in Oregon. Here in Taree it's not too bad but raining today. Oh well... at least it makes the countryside lovely and green. And I'm here to tellya, when you drive through lush green countryside, it's a beautiful sight to behold. No rain, no green.

I'm not sure I'll be so forgiving on the Odyssey when it rains and I'm confined to Das Busse for days on end. Solar panels don't work too well during cloudy weather ya know. Read a book? Yeah, right. It's only 17C at the mo and it'll be cool and wet again tomorrow. Fortunately, for the rest of the week it'll be sunny and mid to upper 20s. I noticed on Justin's blog the other day that he got excited about 8C in Massachusetts. Sheesh. And here's me bitching about 17.

Speaking of Justin, I sent him that BBC article about same-sex kissing, and he posted it on his blog. So I asked him if he and his boyfriend Peter kiss in front of their parents and siblings or keep it private. It'll be interesting to read his reply in the morning. I still find overt expressions of affection between same sex couples disturbing... but that's me. Even two guys holding hands bothers me. It's the way I was dragged up.

Well, dear Breth, it's approaching kitchen time again. Chicken schnitzels and potato balls. How thrilling. Gary

April 15, 2011. Bloody hell... just when I think I've got my head together with a plan for Das Busse, along comes an urgent decision. The bloke from whom I bought the power steering kit also has an engine... brand new, still in the box, upgraded technically, and ready to slip into the Bus. He's offered it to me, delivered to my door, for $4000, less the $250 I've already paid for the power steering kit. That's about 2 grand more than I had budgeted for (with a used or reconditioned engine). But I need to make a decision sooner than I'd prefer. I thought I was just gonna take my time, save my pennies and do stuff when I could afford it. AND NOW THIS!

Two hours later: As it turns out, I checked my options to raise the extra cash and it didn't work out. So, back to Plan A... save the bucks and do what I can afford over a period of time.

Just checked the battery expecting the water level to be non-existent but no... it was fine except for one cell. Then old Ken wandered into my yard to give me his impressions of Das Busse. "So what are you gonna do with it... go away somewhere?" "No, Ken, I'm gonna camp in the backyard." Anyway, that's the battery fine, the radiator fine, and the engine oil fine. I can do all that butch stuff when I wanna ya know.

By the way, Das Busse was born in 1984, the same year I started work at 2DAY FM in Sydney. Seems like a lifetime ago now. There's been a helluva lotta water under the bridge since then.

Beeb time: US, British and French leaders say in a joint letter that there can be no peace in Libya while Muammar Gaddafi remains in power. Well, there was peace before the rebels started kicking up a stink hehe. But that's call changed now. Former Belgian bishop Roger Vangheluwe has gone live on TV to talk about how he sexually abused two boys but does not see himself as a paedophile. No, of course not. He spoke to God and God said it wasn't a problem. The US Congress has passed a budget bill that would cut $38.5bn (£23.6bn) in government spending over the rest of the fiscal year. The measure, which was agreed on Friday, passed by 260 votes to 167 in the House and 81 to 19 in the Senate. The bill is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama later on Thursday. Sounds like a drop in the bucket to me with so much talk about trillions. Wine costing less than £5 a bottle can have the same effect on the palate as those priced up to six times as much, a psychological taste challenge suggests. University of Hertfordshire researchers say their findings indicate many people may just be paying for a label. Yep, I couldn't agree more (he said as he sipped his chateau cardboard).

The day has flown, lots of buggerizing around without actually achieving much. And now it's time to do the chef thing again. Bleh. Gary

April 14, 2011. Okies, I just bid on the power steering kit, so that's it... I'm committed. Nothing's gonna happen quickly though. It's back to saving time again, and the slow process of getting the bucks together for various jobs on Das Busse. I think the first thing is the rust and body repair. The Bus is sitting out in the weather in the yard. Bluey's got garage #1 and the bus won't fit in garage #2. Fancy that, we're a 2-car family.

I found the battery compartment at last! It's under the floor behind the driver's seat, which means you gotta roll the front of the folding bed forward to access it. It's a bit of a squeeze to get to the damn thing, but I noticed there's room there for a second battery... a deep cycle battery. I was wondering where the hell I was gonna put one of those, so now I know. It's a bit dusty down there but there's no acid build-up on the terminals, and rust doesn't seem to be a problem. I can tell by the dirt that it's been a country car all its life, which means no salt-air corrosion.

FL Josh reckons I should enlist the help of a few neighbors to get the job done in under 4 minutes. Hehe.

I checked Youchewb this morning and noted a vid by George Carlin. I can readily identify with that bloke.

Meanwhile NC Art wrote: Babble about the American Civil War runs riot because of the 150th anniversary of its onset with a firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor ... Harbour? Southerners spent most of the time from then to now brainwashing themselves about the whole thing, understandably trying to claim a Lost Cause with noble motives. Just does not fly. As a Southerner, even the history we were taught was skewed horribly, and it took years for me to realize what was being done to me! Slaves just loved their kind and gentle masters who made sure they had warm houses, good clothes and medical services. YEAH! And bull faeces spread all over the school room.

We make excuses about the treatment of Australian Aborigines too, but it also doesn't fly. At the same time, I'm not a do-gooder and I don't think all Aboriginal people are worthy of praise just because of their Aboriginality. Like members of any race, there are good and bad, but that doesn't give white Europeans the right to treat them all like trash, or to steal their country.

The Aborigines lived in Oz for 40,000 years and did nothing to "improve" the land, according to the European way of thinking. So the Europeans figured the Aborigines didn't deserve to own the land... that they were savages and uncivilized. Within 200 years, Europeans managed to pollute the rivers, pollute the atmosphere, cause soil erosion by denuding huge areas of forest, and generally cause havoc and mayhem. So much for civilization. Now Europeans are learning what the Aborigines knew all along.

As to Harbor/Harbour, I use American spelling because I got tired of Americans always correcting me. Hehe. Besides, why the hell put a U in harbor if it doesn't serve any worthwhile purpose? And why on earth would you want UE on the end of catalog? Blame the French.

And about the Chinese rush for ores and oil, remember Australia is not Africa, where local big men control fiefdoms, make deals, steal the money while the miserably poor share nothing but the misery. Humans are such lovable folks, aren't we?

I reckon God gave us three score and ten (more or less) because he didn't want us to get to the stage where, in hindsight, we would realize that human kind is nothing but a bunch of wankers and that the whole idea of life on earth is a joke. The older you get, the more cynical you become. "Grandpa doesn't know what he's talking about. He's old, bitter and twisted... senile." Ya know, I liken the human scenario to that of a lion tamer. The tamer can stick his head into a lion's mouth a hundred times without being decapitated. And the audience claps and cheers, and yells 'Bravo'! But if the lion is having a bad hair day? Yeah... see ya later, sunshine.

Okies, I'm now the proud owner of a Toyota Hiace power steering kit. $250. According to the local Toyota dealer, that's cheap. Now I've gotta get the bloody thing from Victoria to Taree. The same seller has a brand new, still in the box, Hiace motor for sale at $4000 but that's a bit rich for me, thank you very much. I'll settle for something around the $2000 mark. Meanwhile, I just spent $60 on an after market repair manual for Hiace YH series, 1983-1989.

I also noticed that all the furniture in the back of Das Busse is made of marine ply. It's worn and scuffed, but still solid. My old Kombi had furniture made of compressed fiber wood... the stuff that falls apart if it gets wet. Yeck.

Ooer! I didn't do a Beeb! Oh well... pay day, bills day, shopping day and all that... ran outta time.

And that's it for today, dear Breth. Time to make home-made rissoles and serve them up with chips, fried eggs and a bit of gravy. Gary

April 13, 2011. NC Art has some pretty strong views about America's Civil War: Southerners have made the Civil War into everything but slavery and still try to make themselves believe it. As a lad, we called it The War Between the States, The War for Southern Independence and all manner of crap; even the War to Repel Northern Aggression. Poppycock. It was slavery and the economic value of slaves to farm great plantations. Hm, the British, Dutch, Spaniards and Portuguese did not do too much better in Africa and Middle East, dontcha think.

Fortunately, there is no political or religious movement these days to liberate machines and give them equal rights. Mind you, I'm inclined to think that it is we, the supposed masters, who are slaves to our modern machines. We work our butts off to buy and then maintain the damn things.

Art continues: Re the smoke from Das Busse, it ain't a good sign. And low oil in the sump confirms wear that will only get worse. Your serial missteps on the way to an Odyssey makes me wonder if your subconscious is driving you toward abandoning said project.

Ah, yes, I think you're right, Arthur. I feel pressured by my progress. One of these days I'll have no more excuses to procrastinate. Buying Das Busse has made me realize just how confined my living space will be, and it's a bit scary. I've always said that the living space is only for eating and sleeping, and that what lies beyond the sliding door is what matters. Hehe. Well, time will tell. AND, I will miss my favorite chair. Not to mention my daily routine. Or will I?

Notes about Down Under: Aussies still maintain a good presence on the golfing scene. There was, of course, Greg Norman--the Great White Shark. Latest is a youngster named Jason Day, who finished the Masters Tournament next to the winner, a S'African. Actually not many Americans in the top tier this year. Plenty of Japanese, Korean, Spanish, etc. Golfing has become truly international!

I'm wondering how many Americans will rush to the dictionary to check the meaning of 'international'.

Beebnotes tells us more about Chinese ambitious grabs for natural resources. The iron ore affair in Oz is complementary to oil deals that have been struck everywhere there is oil in the ground. In Africa Orientals have been very busy paying off local strong men with lease rights, but little for the poor farmers and fishermen who have watched their lands and waters turned to toxic sludge while they move out or get sick and die. Not a lovely world we have.

I'm not aware of the situation in Africa with the Chinese, but I do know that industrial standards in Oz as they apply to environmental issues are pretty high, and there's no shortage of people who would kick up a huge stink if the Chinese were not abiding by the rules. Meanwhile, there's no doubt that their yuan is welcome. You want rocks? Hey, baby, we got oodles of rocks. Once upon a time, Australia's wealth "rode on the sheep's back" but these days it's rocks. We have other prosperous industries such as wine, tourism, farming crops, wool, beef, medical and scientific research, etc, but mining is the biggie by a long way.

Actually, I rather like Das Busse hehe. It sounds like something a Safrican might call it, so there's the Cody connection. Oregon Richie would probably call it el Busso Grande. Meanwhile, it seems like I'm stuck with the van. It worries me a little that I'll be spending thousands of dollars over the next several months, doing it up and getting it ready for the Odyssey. It means that I'll end up with a vehicle that's over capitalized... not worth what it cost. But to whom? Keeping it means not selling it. Keeping it means using it. Using it means getting value out of what's been invested. How much is 365 nights' accommodation worth in one year? How much is a million-dollar view through the sliding door worth? How much is thousands of images of Oz worth? How much is an adventure worth? Know what I mean? I agree that this Odyssey thing is a lunatic idea, fraught with uncertainty and a radical change of lifestyle but maybe that's the very reason why I should do it. It's kinda like your first bungee jump. Or as the Northern Territory tourism ads say, "You'll never never know if you never never go." (Never never is colloquial for the outback).

When I mentioned all this to Lindsay this morning, he said (typically), "But you said you were gonna leave in 8 months!" Well, the departure date is not set in stone, so I'll leave when I'm good and ready. No sweat. It'll happen when it happens, and not before. Meanwhile, I think I'm in the wrong biz... I should be in the car repair biz.

See what happens when you have no set plan in life? That's me... a nomad with no particular place to go.

Ridin' along in my automobile
My baby beside me at the wheel
I stole a kiss at the turn of a mile
My curiosity runnin' wild
Cruisin' and playin' the radio
With no particular place to go
Chuck Berry

Beeb time: Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is in intensive care after suffering a heart attack, say state media. He was taken ill while meeting prosecutors investigating the killing of hundreds of protesters and allegations of corruption, reports say. It's a tough life at the top, and even tougher when you're toppled. French troops have discovered several large arms caches in Ivory Coast that they said would have been used by former Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo. The weapons, stored at villas in the main city of Abidjan, included mortars, cannons and rockets. Mr Gbagbo is reportedly being held under house arrest in Abidjan. There's another one down. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan says produce from the region around the Fukushima plant, which was hit by last month's earthquake and tsunami, is safe to eat despite radiation leaks. He said radiation levels were now declining and consuming local products was "our way to support the area". And who's gonna believe him? Nato must intensify its air campaign to destroy heavy weaponry used by pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya, the French and UK foreign ministers say. I'm surprised at the length of time and the extent of combined international effort required to unseat Gaddafi from power. He must have anticipated something like this might happen. Nasa is to send three retired space shuttles to museums in California, Florida and suburban Washington. Also, the prototype Enterprise, which never flew in space, goes to the Intrepid museum in New York City. Nasa administrator Charles Bolden said each shuttle had "stories to tell". "Take good care of our vehicles," said Mr Bolden, a former astronaut who flew four times on the shuttle. "They have served you well." Bloody amazing... space exploration has been around for like a minute and already it's in museums. Maybe I'm getting old. 

So what happens to the Bluey Page? I guess I'll have to condense it. This is the way it was gonna be, but is no longer. There's been a change of plans, folks. I'll change it to the Das Busse Page... or maybe the el Busso Grande Page. Hehe. Ya know, it's possible that the old girl will be parked at the most exquisite locations one of these days. Scratch the tent, substitute the Bus. Hmmm. Dream on, baby.

Did you know I have nightmares about this Odyssey thing? Oh yes... terrible nightmares. Frightening. I dream of being attacked by vicious packs of man-eating koalas, or having my jaffles pinched by marauding kangaroos, or camping near people who love listening to country and western music. I dream of finding monitor lizards in my sleeping bag. I dream of giant pythons curling around my camping chairs and crushing them to pulp. I dream of flat tires and steam gushing from my radiator. I dream of bolts of lightning splitting nearby trees in two and setting them on fire. I dream of strange noises in the dead of night. And I wake in fright and say to myself, "What the fuck am I doing?"

Other than that, no worries. 

I wonder what Cody would have to say about all this? Hehe. I think I know. :o) Gary

April 12, 2011. Well, well, well, are the gods smiling upon me or what? I just did a search on eBay for a Hiace power steering kit and found one. I emailed the bloke and he said it was off an '86 YH51 which is basically the same as my '84, and would fit perfectly. Hmmm.

There are other options, of course. Hehe. The cheapest van there is $23,000, which would take me about 3 years to save up for. Go figure.

The other option is for me to forget the whole idea of traveling Oz. It would certainly be a lot simpler. Get a little flat somewhere and fade away into blissful obscurity.

I just started the Bus after a week of sitting in the drive. It started easily but blew a bit of black smoke at first, then it settled down. But I noticed the oil level in the sump was down so I assume that it burned a bit of oil on the trip back from Tamworth. Not a good sign. Also the engine runs on a bit after the ignition is turned off, so there's probably a build-up of coke. Now I'm thinking that spending $1250 on fitting power steering to an old worn out 2 liter donk might not be such a wise move ($1000 labor + $250 for the kit). It's probably a better idea to get a reconditioned donk... maybe a 2.2 or 2.4 with more horses. They use the same block with a bigger bore. I'll check.

In any case, I can't do anything right now. The piggy bank is empty. I will bid for the power steering kit though, and keep it for later. I guess that says I'm gonna keep the Bus. Once I start spending though, there'll be no turning back. I'll be committed. Oh well...

Stan the Lawn man is here. He was in the process of giving me a hard time about the Bus when his missus came around the corner (from next door where she's cleaning Averil's house) and yelled, "The car won't start!" Hehe. So much for their new $60,000 Hyundai. Neh neh neh neh neeeeh neh. I shouldn't laugh. :o) Last time I looked, NRMA road service was attending to the matter. Stan reckons these modern cars with all their complicated computerized gizmos are a pain the ass. If something goes bung, you can't fix it yourself.

By the way, I discovered that although the Bus doesn't have curtains, it has a curtain track all the way around the interior. AND it has a slide-along track for an awning along the guttering on the passenger side. So there!

And on the subject of cars, Oregon Richie sent a link to an article about VW's latest attempt to re-establish Beetlemania in the US.

Beeb time: Japan raises the severity measure of its nuclear crisis to the highest level, but says radiation leakage is a tenth of that from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Oh... well that's okay then. Ivory Coast's UN-recognised President, Alassane Ouattara, has urged restraint after the dramatic capture of his bitter rival Laurent Gbagbo. Announcing an investigation into Mr Gbagbo, he promised him a fair trial and said a truth and reconciliation commission would be set up. Mr Gbagbo surrendered after a military assault on his residence in Abidjan. God, who'd wanna live there? The most high-profile minister to flee Libya has warned against the risks of civil war and the possibility of his country becoming "a new Somalia". Speaking publicly for the first time since coming to the UK, Moussa Koussa told the BBC that the unity of Libya was essential to any settlement. His comments came after rebels rejected an African Union ceasefire proposal. "I ask everybody to avoid taking Libya into civil war," Mr Koussa said. "This would lead to so much blood and Libya would be a new Somalia. More than that, we refuse to divide Libya. The unity of Libya is essential to any solution and settlement for Libya." Unity? Well, I suppose you can give Gaddafi credit for that over the past 4 decades. Maybe enforced unity is all those people understand. The US is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the country's most destructive conflict, the Civil War. In Charleston in the state of South Carolina, where the war erupted, the BBC's Paul Adams says Americans remain divided over the roots of the conflict to this day. An interesting article you can read here. China is leasing huge tracts of land in Australia to secure a vital source of iron ore and coal, in the latest sign of its formidable hunger for commodities to fuel its economic boom. No longer satisfied with purchasing iron ore and coal from Australia's giant mining companies, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, China is developing its own mining operations and has funded a port with a 2km long breakwater that juts out into the Indian Ocean. The Citic-Pacific Corporation's Sino Iron project in the Pilbara region in the far north-west of Australia illustrates the scale of Beijing's ambition. The open-cast mine - which will become fully operational later this year - promises to be the biggest magnetite iron ore mine in the world. No wonder our dollar is now worth 1.05 US cents. Ten years ago it was .54 US cents. 

I just checked Cody's guestbook and there's a couple of new entries... one from the UK (g'day Adrian) and another from Italy. So it's nice to know that Cody is still making a difference. He's being portrayed as an angel. Yeah, right. I know better. He may have looked like an angel, and smiled like an angel, but underneath that angelic exterior he was a SCALLYWAG! And will remain so for ever more. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if all the trouble I keep getting myself into is HIS doing.

And that's it for today, ladies and genitals. Time to feed the troops. How dreary. Gary

April 11, 2011. To install a used power steering kit in the Bus would cost at least $1000 for labor alone. I'm currently checking to see if power steering was an option on a 1984 2-liter Hiace. No point in looking for a kit if it wasn't. And the cost of a used kit? I'm guessing at something like $500. I figure the quote for rust and body work will be something in the order of $2000. So I'm looking at $3500+ for all of the above. Add to that any mechanical work that needs to be done.

By the same token, I've seen used '84 campervans selling for $8K and up to $10K or more. So it's not unrealistic to have a repair budget in the vicinity of say $7000, which would bring the total cost to $10,500-ish. I'd like to have the upholstery re-covered as well but that's not absolutely necessary at this point. And then there's solar panels and yadda yadda yadda. Sheesh.

Just checked with the Roads and Traffic Authority about the registration. I can forget all about the current rego in the Australian Capital Territory which expires in 10 days. I would need to register the Bus in NSW anyway, which can be done at my leisure, and I can legally drive the vehicle unregistered and uninsured to and from appointments with repairers (as I did with Bluey during its unregistered period). 

FL Josh wrote with a bit of advice: If you are considering keeping this thing, find out what you are getting into.  When it is up on the lift, walk around underneath it and look at things. That's easier said than done, Josh. Dealership repair shops don't allow "unauthorized persons" into the work areas. I'll have to rely on their assessment. I will have it checked out thoroughly, of course, but the cookie jar is empty at the mo.

BTW, I checked the oil yesterday, and it's a bit low, so I'll do a top up. I have no idea what grade of oil I should use. Any suggestions?

Josh adds: By the way, when you said what that rental car was costing you, I checked what one would cost here, and to rent a medium sized car for one day and drive about 200 miles, with tax and insurance, it would be just under $70.  I was shocked at what you guys have to pay. If I'd hired a car for a week or so, the daily rate would have been much cheaper. But this was a one-off, one-way trip with insurance and fuel costs all lumped into less than 1 day. Also, Hertz was the only car rental company with a depot in each town. That's why it cost so much. Living in a country town has its advantages... as well as disadvantages. The rental on this house, for example, is a third to a quarter cheaper than comparable rents in Sydney.

On a brighter note, says Josh (and I'm not sure I agree), here's a link to a video about a farting piano teacher.

Beeb time: South African President Jacob Zuma says the Libyan government has accepted an African Union peace plan to end the eight-week-old conflict. Mr Zuma and three other African leaders met Libya's leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi, in Tripoli on Sunday. An AU team is now going on to the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi. In Ajdabiya, pro-Gaddafi forces have pushed back rebels in fierce fighting. Nato says its planes destroyed 25 government tanks on Sunday alone. The AU deal's main points are an immediate ceasefire, the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid, protection of foreign nationals, and a dialogue between the government and rebels on a political settlement. Meanwhile, a rebel spokesman said any deal designed to keep Colonel Gaddafi or his sons in place would not be acceptable. Go figure. The UK and Dutch governments are preparing court action against Iceland to recover 4bn euros (£3.5bn) lost when the country's bank system collapsed. It follows a referendum in Iceland which rejected a repayment plan. Good luck! Israel says it is willing to observe a ceasefire after days of military exchanges in Gaza, if Palestinian militants there end rocket attacks. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday: "If they stop firing on our communities, we will stop firing." Ho hum, here we go again. Legendary folk singer Bob Dylan, whose songs became anthems of the 1960s anti-Vietnam war movement, has played his first concert in the Communist country. Dylan played a concert in Ho Chi Minh City - formerly Saigon - on Sunday evening. Dylan, 69, jammed on stage playing guitar, harmonica and keyboard and singing hits including A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall and Highway 61 Revisited. During the time of the Vietnam conflict, many of Dylan's protest songs defined the mood of a generation, with young Americans marching for peace followed by similar protests in the UK and other western countries. I guess he made a difference but I was never a fan. China has told the US to stop preaching on human rights, after the state department's annual report on the issue criticised China. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the US should concentrate on its own rights issues and stop interfering. He's got a point. I don't think there's a country in the world without discrimination skeletons in its closet. Oz, for example, had the 'White Australia Policy' up until the '60s, and a shameful history of its treatment of Aborigines.

Imagine that. You walk in and take over a country occupied by black people for 40,000 years and declare it for whites only. What a fucking hide. That's all changed now and not before time.

Meanwhile, dear Breth, the AO has ground to a halt no matter which way I turn. Keep the Bus, sell the Bus, it doesn't really matter. Either way, nothing much will happen until I sort things out so that I can hit the road, and that doesn't appear to be any time soon. Gary

April 10, 2011. TX Greg wrote: Yes indeed your pictures reveal a whole other story to the shape of the bus. The chrome wheels aren't as bad I thought and really think they will clean up nice :) The decals on the other hand are shot with the cracking and peeling. I've seen and redone many RV decals like those over the years. You could just have them removed and see how you like it with no stripes :)  They're going to have to come off any way before new ones could be applied at this point.

Greg included a few links to decal removal and fitting new ones. Hello? I leave that kinda thing to the expoits. Whoever does the rust and panel beating can also take care of the decals... IF I decide to keep the Bus.

My current thinking is that I now have something, whereas I didn't before. The Bus may not be exactly what I want but it's a foundation upon which to build something workable. Unless I win Lotto, I'll never be able to afford what I really want anyway. So from tomorrow, I'll start making enquiries about options and costings. After that, I'll make a decision about keeping it or sellling it.

NC Art wrote "English as she is spoke": You are right about English, one of the world's most maddening languages. I suspect that's because it is a hodge podge of words picked up from Germanic, Tatar, Nordlanders, Latin, Greek and god knows where else. And besides, it won't hold still long enough to learn it. Always in flux.

I note that the new edition of Oxford English dictionary includes some terms from Internet gabble, such as LOL and FYI. Carefully avoided was WTF and other nasty word inclusions. And the idiom is all tangled to boot. UK, Aussie, American, Canadian go only so far together...and a compliment might be interpreted as an insult. And we can get in trouble with Spanish quite easily. NEVER tell a Mexican that you're pulling his leg. To him that would mean you have grabbed his dick. A teasing Mexican may say you're 'pulling my shoe'.

A British exchange student opined that our place was 'homely'. My wife took umbrage until I explained that we used 'homey' for a warm, comforting dwelling and 'homely' to mean ugly. Oh well.

While traveling in Mexico I met a Catholic prep school teacher from Toronto, who spent some time every year in Mexico to hone his skill. Once in a bar, a young Mexican invited himself to chat and explained he wanted to practice his English. Fine, until he told the teacher/priest: "Your vocabulary she's very good, but you idiom she's not so good." The teacher (an American who commuted to his job) smiled and said, "Same to you asshole." Mex said he didn't understand, and the teacher said that was another wonderful use for idiom.

Here's a paste of what Wikipedia has to say about idioms: In the English expression to kick the bucket, a listener knowing only the meanings of kick and bucket would be unable to deduce the expression's true meaning: to die. Although this idiomatic phrase can, in fact, actually refer to kicking a bucket, native speakers of English rarely use it so. Cases like this are "opaque idioms'

Literal translation (word-by-word) of opaque idioms will not convey the same meaning in other languages – an analogous expression in Polish is kopn w kalendarz (“to kick the calendar”), with “calendar” detached from its usual meaning, just like “bucket” in the English phrase. In Bulgarian the closest analogous phrase is da ritnesh kambanata (“to kick the bell”); in Dutch, het loodje leggen (“to lay the piece of lead”); in Finnish, potkaista tyhjää (“to kick nothing”, or more literally “to kick the absence of something”); in French, manger des pissenlits par la racine ("to eat dandelions by the root"); in Spanish, estirar la pata (to stretch the foot); in German, den Löffel abgeben (“to give the spoon away”) or ins Gras beißen (“to bite into the grass”), closer to the English idiom, im Eimer sein ("to be in the bucket") actually means "to be done for" ; in Latvian, nolikt karoti (“to put the spoon down”); in Portuguese, bater as botas (“to beat the boots”); in Danish, at stille træskoene ("to take off the clogs"); in Swedish, trilla av pinnen ("to fall off the stick"); and in Greek, ("to shake the horse-shoes"). In Brazil, the expression “to kick the bucket” (chutar o balde) has a completely different meaning (to give up something complicated, as a bucket kicked makes too much noise, demonstrating impatience).

I remember Albert from Denmark saying there was no word in Danish for something I'd written, which I thought was interesting. Despite the negative aspects of English, I've heard that it's capable of expressing just about anything the brain can conjure. And when or if it can't, it plagiarises words and/or phrases from other languages, notably French, to fill the gaps. I suppose that means it's the closest thing we have to an International Language.

That said, it's amazing what can be done with 26 letters. The other thing that grabs me is that until the Indians thought of zero, we were stuck with 1 to 9.

If a dipstick comes out of a hole, it should go back into the same hole, right? Not necessarily, as I've just discovered. And I still have no idea where the battery is. But enough of that...

Beeb time: A hotel used by the internationally recognised president of Ivory Coast has come under attack by forces loyal to his rival Laurent Gbagbo, reports say. Witnesses and a UN official say the Golf Hotel in Abidjan had come under mortar and small-arms fire, and the UK embassy has been evacuated. Alassane Ouattara was judged to have won the presidential election, but Mr Gbagbo has refused to step down. So much for the voice of the people. A gunman in the Netherlands has killed six people and wounded at least 11 before taking his own life. The killings took place at a busy shopping centre in the town of Alphen aan den Rijn, about 25km (15 miles) south-west of Amsterdam. Kitty Nooy, from The Hague prosecutor's office, identified the man as 24-year-old Tristan van der Vlis, a member of a shooting club who had a permit to carry five weapons. Say no more. The tomb of St Francis of Assisi has reopened to the public after the first restoration in its nearly 800-year history. St Francis was buried in the 13th-Century and became the patron saint of animals and of Italy. St Francis of Assisi devoted his life to the poor. We certainly don't like to accept the finality of death do we. RAF Tornados have destroyed seven tanks in Libya as air strikes there continue, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said. The jets hit two tanks in Ajdabiyah and five in Misratah on Friday - areas which have seen fighting between rebels and Col Muammar Gaddafi's troops. RAF Typhoons have also been involved in policing the UN-backed no-fly zone. Maybe I should give the RAF a ring and collect the insurance on the Bus. The Russian army has begun training sniffer dogs to use cell phones and video cameras. The army believes that once they have mastered the gadgets they will be well equipped to help prevent terrorist attacks. How fascinating! Check out the video

It's been a lazy day today. I think the drama of the past week is catching up with me. How do I manage to get myself into these messes? Maybe it's best not to answer that. Gary

April 9, 2011. Satdee again. I just wrote a note to Anyel and his family, my sponsored child in Nicaragua through World Vision. I had to keep the letter simple and brief, which ain't easy for me. Hehe. Anyel is one of five kids being raised by a single mother. They lead a very simple life but I suppose it's all relative. Rattles and toy cars are very important when you're 2 years old.

As a kid, I was never interested in sport. I couldn't understand the notion 'us and them', or why anyone would want to go out of their way to invite confrontation. I naively thought everyone was your friend and that no one wanted to take advantage of you. Now, of course, I realize the value of teaching kids how to play sport, and develop the skills necessary to defend themselves against the "opposition"... to be suspicious of what the other guy has in mind.

I stayed over at my older bro's house one time in the spare room, and was surprised to see it furnished with my mother's things, including a set of crystal liquer glasses I gave her when I was a kid. After my mother died, I'd not given any thought to her possessions or where they might have ended up. Obviously, my brother did.

So here I am at 66 and I've not learned any lessons. I still make the same mistakes over and over again. I trust people. It doesn't occur to me that they're out to diddle me or gain some kind of advantage. I've spent all these years wandering around blissfully unaware that I have 'SUCKER' stamped on my forehead.

During the writing of Green Room II, when Steve was still desperately trying to rid himself of his demons, he often vented his spleen on me. He couldn't understand why I was so tolerant of his rages. I remember him writing one time, "And you keep coming back for more!" Hehe. Yeah, that's me.

I took more pics of the naughty bits of the Bus, put them together with the eBay pics and posted an album. You can check out the little surprises I got when I took a more detailed look at the Toyota after getting it home. I know what you're gonna say: ...Gary, it's not THAT bad! Maybe not, but I'm still pissed off. I realize you can't get much for $3500, and I accept the fact that my expectations were unrealistic BUT I'M STILL PISSED OFF!

However, due to Oregon Richie's gentle but persistent nudging, I am considering the alternative to selling it. Apparently, it's possible to get after-market power steering, which is probably my major concern. I could keep Bluey as my regular transport, allow the Bus's registration to lapse (which it will in 2 weeks), and spend a few bob here and there over the next 6-8 months tarting it up before it's ready to re-register and hit the road again. I'll never get my money back, of course, but I could end up with a V Hickle that does the job. Anyway, it's something to think about... an option. And as Richie says, I won't be driving 5 or 6 hours at a stretch like I did on the trip to Tamworth and back... but rather just an hour or two here and there before I camp for the day (or week or whatever).

Oh dear... life is never simple. Unless you win Lotto, of course.

Beeb time: Republicans and Democrats have reached a deal on the US budget, an hour before a deadline that would have forced the government to close many services. They are now working on a stop-gap spending bill which will allow the government to keep running while the wider budget plan is finalised. The parties have agreed to slash about $38bn (£24bn) from spending for the year until 30 September. President Barack Obama said the cuts would be difficult but necessary. Tell me about it. Forces loyal to Ivory Coast's incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo have gained ground in Abidjan, the UN says. UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said Mr Gbagbo's forces, still using heavy weapons, had used a lull for peace talks to strengthen their position. "They clearly used the lull of Tuesday as a trick to reinforce their position," Mr Le Roy said, referring to a dip in the fighting after three of Mr Gbagbo generals requested talks. I hate it when the baddies get the upper hand. Where's Hopalong Cassidy when you need him? The internet slang term "LOL" (laughing out loud) has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, to the mild dismay of language purists. But where did the term originate? And is it really a threat to our lexicon? I guess it had to happen.Read the full article here.

I think I've mentioned this before but when I told my older bro that I'd written a few books, he said, "I hope you're not using all that internet language!" He went on to say that, "English is a beautiful language." But what he failed to recognize is that we don't use the same lingo Shakespeare used hundreds of years ago. Language evolves and changes with usage. It always has and always will. Humphrey Bogart thought 'gay' meant happy hehe. And that 'cool' had something to do with temperature.

And that's it. Time to cook din dins... chicken breast schnitzels and cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeps! Gary

April 8, 2011. How's this for timing? Nature has been calling for the past hour but I thought I'd better wait for Sue. When she failed to materialize to use the loo, I thought okay, I can't wait any longer. So I dropped the dacks and the Reg Grundys and sat on the bowl. And guess what? I could hear Sue's walker crashing into walls as it made its haphazard way towards the toilet, where I WAS BUSY and not yet ready to vacate. "You'll have to wait a minute," I yelled before Sue came barging in. Silly me doesn't lock the door.

Meanwhile, having the Bus parked in the yard has made me realize a few things about campervans. Campervans are called campervans because they're for camping. Hehe. Motorhomes are called motorhomes because... yeah. So I need to do a bit of re-thinking. But it's a question of bucks. Motorhomes are more expensive than campervans. And towing something is not on my agenda. If you can afford to stay at caravan parks, towing a caravan is fine. But I can't, so I have to opt for camping areas that are either free or cheap, and more often than not, access roads to National Park camping areas are not caravan friendly. Cest la vie.

We've had some pretty heavy rain the last 4 days so I just checked the Bus for leaks. None. I sat in it for a while and thought about where I could store various things if I were to settle on a campervan, and it's not too bad. The hi-tops, of course, have more storage than pop-tops because they fit more cupboards at head height. My old Kombi had a slide-out upper deck with the pop-top raised to either sleep a couple of kids or store bags and suitcases while camped. That was handy. You could store stuff in the living area during transit and then move it "upstairs" when stationary. Anyway, as Oregon Richie predicted, my 'buyer's remorse' is diminishing as the days progress. I still don't care for the column gear shift or lack of power steering though.... or its truck-like gearing.

Trust NC Art come with a more positive take on Das Bus: Pakistanis paint up their veehickles with garish colors and call them jingle trucks because they hang chains from them that rattle and jingle as they bump along rutted roads. In similar vein, a resort hotel in Scottsdale, AZ, had a bus for transporting guests around the golf courses and on runs into Phoenix. They called the thing El Busso in a ludicrous reference to the resort's Mexican theme. So...perhaps you can find a theme for your new Bus and rent the thing to some resort in Oz? Don't laugh, such schemes get thought up every day, however ridiculous.

Reminds me of my older bro back in the '60s who bought a rust-riddled '55 Ford Customline with more rattles than a millionaire's baby. I remember him saying the rattles don't sound so bad when you turn up the radio.

Yesterday, I received a surprise email from Peter Shanahan, the young DJ who took over my job at 2LF, my first radio station back in '69: 

The internet is an incredible thing. I stumbled across your website while doing a google search about something else altogether. It was only a week ago but already I have forgotten what combination of search words led me there but it was a reference to 2KY (also one of my former employers) that prompted me to click on your site.

I was very pleased that I found it. It was very nostalgic to read about your days at Radio DJ at Bondi, your appearance on Channel Ten's New Faces and start in radio at 2LF.

I travelled those same three paths.

Your website prompted me to pull out my letter of appointment to 2LF for the first time in decades. My letter arrived in early May 1969, also offering me the grand sum of $45.05 a week. I loved your description of Ken Sutcliffe's microphone technique. I remember it clearly although it's probably the first time I have recalled it since working there all those years ago.

I also recall, although pretty vaguely given the more than forty years that have passed, that I saw you on the day you left Young to drive to Lismore. I think you had all your belongings packed into an old VW.

I am now 90 per cent retired but am still doing the occasional weekend shift at 2GB, writing and reading the sport news when an emergency arises.

Hope you are well.

So that was a pleasant surprise. I suspect as time goes along, many other old colleagues will "accidentally stumble" upon AO and the Scrapbook. If I hadn't dusted off all those memories and posted them on the web, the old scrapbook would never have revisited the light of day. Meanwhile, I updated the appropriate page of the Scrapbook with Peter's contribution.

Beeb time: Ivory Coast's internationally recognised President Alassane Ouattara has urged the EU to lift sanctions, in a bid to restart the ailing economy. Mr Ouattara now controls the main cocoa-exporting port of San Pedro, and wants to restart the trade. But his troops are still not in control of all of the main city Abidjan, where his rival Laurent Gbagbo remains holed up in the presidential residence. Aid agencies are warning of a deepening humanitarian crisis in Abidjan. Yep, it's the little guy who pays the price for power struggles between the elite. The commander of Libya's rebel forces has said Nato apologised for mistakenly hitting a column of rebel tanks near the eastern town of Ajdabiya. Gen Abdelfatah Yunis said the deadly air strike had occurred despite a warning to Nato that the tanks were being moved to the front line. Nato said it was investigating the claim, without giving further details. Rebels said four rebels died, while local doctors told the BBC at least 13 fighters had been killed in the strike. "We would like to receive answers about what happened. We would like a rational and convincing explanation," Gen Yunis said. He also said such mistakes must not be repeated and called for better co-operation in the future. You're not wrong, Narelle. A gunman has shot dead at least 12 children at a school in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro before killing himself, police say. At least 12 others were wounded when the man entered the school with two revolvers and began shooting indiscriminately. The killer has been identified as a 23-year-old former pupil. President Dilma Rousseff wept as she condemned the school massacre - the first of its kind in Brazil. "It's all their fault; I'll show the bastards." Typical twisted thinking. The Australian government has blocked Singapore's takeover bid for its bourse because it says the deal is contrary to national interest. The Singapore stock exchange (SGX) made a $8.3bn (£5.1bn) bid for the ASX, the firm that owns the Australian stock exchange, in October. Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan had said earlier this week that he had serious concerns about the proposal. The merger would have created one of Asia's leading stock markets. I don't really understand all that stuff but I agree with Swan. The Australian Stock Exchange in Singapore hands doesn't sound like a good idea to me. The Earth sees about 760 thunderstorms every hour, scientists have calculated. The figure, unveiled at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, is substantially lower than numbers that have been used for nearly a century. Right... something I really needed to know. But interesting nonetheless

Oregon Richie just sent this link to a news story: Obama issues veto threat as government shutdown looms. Scroll down the page for a transcription of his speech. As an Aussie, obviously I'm not as familiar with the circumstances as Americans are. All I know is that a party represented by people like George W Bush, Sarah Palin and John McCain has gotta be a joke. I feel the same way about the Australian Labor party led by Julia Gillard, propped up by a bunch of dickhead independents. The sooner they get the boot the better.

Just back from a bit of shopping (mostly for Averil). As I unloaded Bluey, I noticed that the passenger-side door of the campervan doesn't fit flush with the nose cone. So I unbuttoned the car bra and saw a big ding in the bodywork. The paint is missing, and the ding has surface rust, so it's been there a while. Now THAT was a deliberate attempt by the seller to conceal damage. I can forgive mistakes and oversights, but I can't forgive deliberate attempts to mislead. Initially, I thought the photos of the van on eBay "unfortunately" lacked certain detail, but now I realize they were taken in such a way as to conceal certain faults. The ding in the bull bar/bumper bar on the driver's side, for example, is not confined to the bumper as I first thought. All the body work behind it is crushed, and the driver's door doesn't align properly with the nose panel. The seller misled me. No doubt about it. But what can I do? Well, I've copied all the pics from the ad and I'll take a few of my own tomorrow... the things he failed to declare. I'll post the album tomorrow. Gary

April 7, 2011. I won't forget this week in a hurry. A few lessons have been learned, though. For example, the dimensions of the living space in the Bus brought home just how confined it is compared to the house I'm used to. It's all very well to visualize the exciting expanse of the great outdoors without giving much thought to "accommodation". Yeah, it'll take quite a bit of getting used to. It didn't bother me when I had the Kombi but that was weekends away, not years at a stretch. I'm also a lot older now than I was back then.

In the last journal entry, I mentioned meeting Eric in Walcha. He has a wind-up trailer camper he tows behind his Holden. He said he should have bought something like the Toyota, self-contained. But he spent $3000 setting up his trailer with solar panels and deep-cycle batteries which run a deep freeze. "I can go a week without shopping," he said. He's on his way around Oz with no particular schedule... camping here, camping there, checking out the scenery at his leisure. He looked to be a bit older than I am (but that could have been wishful thinking). We shared a common short-term memory problem hehe. I had to ask him 3 times what his name was, and he had to ask me 3 times. "Oh well," he laughed, "if we meet again at least we'll recognize each other's faces."

NC Art wrote: Well what can I tell ya. Sorry the old new camper is not up to your (over optimistic) dream. But vehicles were born to disappoint I think. Before you offer the thing for sale, get a gallon of glycerin and slather it over the worst spots, and take pictures. It should brighten up grungy dull areas and draw some sucker to bid on it. Nah, I couldn't do that to anyone. I'd rather a potential buyer sees it warts and all so there are no nasty surprises like I got. I don't intend to sell it on the web. But if I change my mind, I'll recommend an inspection before commitment. As to the gallon of glycerin, bugger the Bus, I'll try it on myself.

Art also sent this pic: Finally, A Keyboard For Old Retired Guys.

TX Greg suggests a good detail job before I sell the Bus... a bit of wax and elbow grease. Hmmm. He also suggests I ask more for it. I think you should ask $5,500. You can always come down on the price! Well, it's a bit like a divorce, once you've made the decision you just wanna get it over and done with.

Oregon Richie suggests I give it a bit more time to get over 'buyer's remorse' as it were. But even if I were to tart up the van and fix the things that need fixing, I still don't like the column gear shift and the heavy steering... as well as the lack of a fifth gear for cruising. Compared to Bluey, the Bus is a beast to drive. However, Richie does have a point... the Bus doesn't look as bad now as I first thought. It reminds me of the saying, "I never saw an ugly person in a bar after 2am."

Beeb time: Portugal becomes the third eurozone country to request financial aid from the European Union, saying it is at too great a risk. Not enough people buying their wines and port. Troops backing the internationally recognised president of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, are rebuffed in attempts to oust incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo. As usual, it's the ordinary people caught up in the middle. As Mexicans march in protest at the drug violence sweeping the nation, at least 59 bodies are found in a mass grave near the US border. It makes Chicago during the 20s and 30s look like a picnic. The US rejects a personal appeal from Muammar Gaddafi, repeating that he must resign, as new fighting is reported in Libya. No person in his right mind would trust that nitwit. Workers in Japan start injecting nitrogen into one of the reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to prevent more hydrogen blasts. I can hear Louis Armstrong singing 'What A Wonderful World'. A US man who wrote a guidebook giving advice to paedophiles has been sentenced to two years' probation. Phillip Greaves pleaded no contest on Wednesday in Florida to a charge of distributing obscene material depicting minors engaged in harmful conduct. The book, The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct, argues that paedophiles are misunderstood and purports to offer advice to help them abide by the law. Greaves is missing the point. It's every adult's responsibility to protect children from predators. A court in eastern Pakistan has extended the police custody of two brothers charged with cannibalism, officials say. Arif Ali and Farman Ali were arrested earlier in the week. Police say they caught them making a meal of a corpse they had recently stolen from a grave. How repulsive. An original version of 1951 novel From Here to Eternity is to be reissued digitally, with previously censored references to homosexuality restored. It will include a scene in which Private Angelo Maggio - the character played by singer Frank Sinatra in the film - reveals he is paid to have oral sex with another man. Another scene referring to a military investigation into possible homosexual activity will also feature in the text. Well, well, well, whaddaya know... homosexuality is nothing new. Hehe. Microsoft and Toyota announce plans to work together to bring internet services to Toyota vehicles. Now that's what I call innovation.

Just got a call from the Volunteer Rural Fire Service. "The Volunteer Rural Fire Service! What a wonderful organization that is, and what a fantastic job they do for the community, including pensioners like me who don't have any money." Hehe. So she said, "Yes, they do a great job, and I do understand. Have a nice day. Bye." I mean you can't be nasty to people like that so you need to find a more diplomatic way of saying no.

Now here's something you don't see every day.

And here's something I might get to see for myself one day.

Meanwhile, there's a million things going on in my head. Familiarizing myself with the Bus has posed the question, "Where the hell am I gonna put everything?" I realize I can't take a whole heap of stuff with me on the Odyssey but there are certain basics like clothes, the porta potti, camp chairs, a folding table, bedding, awning and other bulky items that take up ROOM. I'm gonna have to think this whole thing through more thoroughly. Oh well, at least I have the time. Gary

April 6, 2011. Okies, I wrote a piece about my Taree to Tamworth experience and the Toyota and posted a few pics on the AO Journal. And that's it for today, ladies and genitals. Oh, hang on... not quite. If you haven't checked Justin's blog today, you'll enjoy this Youchewb vid. It certainly cheered me up this morning when I needed it. Gary

April 5, 2011. It's good to be home with all things familiar. Lindsay went to the supermarket yesterday and bought two McCains frozen meals which he heated in the micro. Hehe. So that solved dinner for him and Sue.

And the Bus? The Codemobile? I was late getting to Hertz in Tamworth so Mick had to return to work. He left the Toyota and the keys at Hertz for me to collect. I was about 45 minutes away when he called me on the mobile. The trip took almost 6 hours with only a few short breaks. I hadn't considered the 50 kilometers of twisting mountain roads across the Great Dividing Range where I got stuck behind a couple of cattle trucks, and also held up by various roadworks.

Anyway, when I reached Hertz, I saw the Bus from a distance. Then I returned the rental car keys and papers to the office, grabbed the keys to the Bus and walked over to check it out. My heart sank instantly. The photos on eBay made it look much better than it is in the flesh. It's pretty shabby and there's a lot of cosmetic work to be done. But it was too late to turn back. I'd paid for it and I was stuck with it. Mick phoned again to ask if everything was alright and I didn't complain or mention my disappointment. He explained a few things about driving the car and that was it. Time to depart.

The first thing that shocked me was how slow it is. It's geared like a truck. First gear barely gets you moving. The second thing was the heavy steering. I took up half the road on my first turn out of the Hertz driveway and almost freaked. The third thing was the noise of all the furniture banging about in the rear. Mind you, Hertz had upgraded me to a Toyota Rav 4 on my trip from Taree to Tamworth and charged me less than the original quote. The Rav was a dream to drive, so you can imagine the contrast between that and the noisy Bus. Even Bluey is far superior.

Anyway, I was shattered as I headed out of Tamworth to Walcha where I intended to spend the night at a motel. There were times last night in bed when I hoped I'd wake in the morning to discover it was all a dream that never happened. 

I'll write a fuller account on the Journal tomorrow and post a few pics. I took no pics on the return trip because of mist and rain, especially over the mountains. The country is spectacular though. I also took no breaks - drove all the way. 

So what now? I spent a while this afternoon inspecting the Bus and learning how everything worked... the pop top, folding bed, table, and the rest of it. It's shabby but still works well, and nothing is broken. It's not as bad as I originally thought. My problem was I had an unrealistic expectation from the pics on eBay and the reality didn't match. For example, the wheels have rust marks and the side-stripes are crazed, which is not something the photos on eBay reveal. But for someone not expecting so much, and willling to take the time to spruce up the Bus, it's probably not a bad buy. The interior fitout is professional and well thought out. So, I'll sell it and hopefully get some of my money back.

On the poz side, the Bus handled the mountains quite well... much better than I'd anticipated. Top gear has a surprising amount of torque. The return trip was actually quicker than the trip there in the Rav.

And Bluey? She stays. Meanwhile, no more checking the web for used campervans until I've saved enough to buy a decent one. And no more judging books by their covers. Photos simply don't tell the full story. In fact, they can mislead. Gary

April 3, 2011. Sundee, the day before I collect the Codemobile. The forecast for tomorrow is fine and warm, ditto for Tamworth, so that's a plus.

No nibbles for Bluey on eBay yet. I checked similar vans for sale and some of them are going pretty cheap. On the other hand, there's a '90 Nissan Vanette listed by a dealer for $5000. It's a regular delivery van, not a coach. If Bluey doesn't sell by today, I'll put her out on the street next week with a 4 Sale sign. I didn't do that this past week cos I didn't wanna be without a car for shopping, etc. My street is very busy... probably several thousand cars each weekday.

Bluey has not been a profitable investment, that's for sure. But there's no point in lamenting it. Compared to losing my house in Sydney, it's an insignificant blip. And that's the thing about life's ups and downs. We need to look at issues in context. Hopefully, the Codemobile will prove to be a wiser (or luckier) proposition. At least it's purpose built for the job I have in mind.

I woke an hour earlier this morning. No, that's not correct. Daylight saving is over and I put the clocks back 1 hour last night. Trouble is, my inbuilt clock refuses to be altered. When I wake is when I wake. And I'm not the only one... the birds do too. The sun is their clock.

One of the Red Bubblers I follow is Mieki. She's getting better by the minute, and is very passionate about her photography. Check out this shot of outback Western Oz. The colors are awesome, and the lighting is superb (dawn). That's the kinda thing that inspires the Odyssey - waking to a view like that at Sparrow's and grabbing the camera (after rubbing the sleep from my eyes).

Just got a call on the mobile from Mick, the owner of the Toyo, to confirm arrangements for tomorrow. We'll meet at Hertz in Tamworth. He calls the van "The Bus", which I quite like. Actually, he said his kids call it "The Bus". Hmmm. How about the Codebus? Or Codybus? Or just plain Bus?

Mick says the trip from Tamworth to Port Macquarie is 3.5 hours. Add another hour from Taree to Port Macquarie and that's 4.5, plus the time it takes to meet and greet, etc. So that's something like a 10-hour day driving. Probably a bit much for an old bloke so I think I might stay overnight in a motel somewhere. I could camp in the Bus but it's not fully equipped yet. Besides, it would be cool to have internet access to update AO during the trip, and it means I can go for a bit of sticky-beak around town to take a few pics, and take a leisurely trip back home.

Beeb time: President Barack Obama describes as "outrageous" the killings in Afghanistan triggered by the burning of a Koran in the US. Of course it's outrageous, but so is the burning of the Koran. Talk about a red rag to a bull. So what are you gonna do? Blame the bull? US carrier Southwest Airlines grounds about 80 of its aircraft after a hole opened up in the roof of one plane in mid-air. Yes, I can imagine that might upset some of the more sensitive passengers hehe. My feeling about flying is that you don't want ANYTHING to go wrong at 32,000 feet.

It's hard for me to focus on anything other than what's going on with Bluey and the Bus at the mo. With 5 minutes to go before Bluey's auction ends, there's nothing. Zero bids. Soooo, it's PLAN B whatever that might be. I think my big mistake was being too honest in mentioning the registration, which pensioners get free, but non-pensioners have to pay for. I should have shut my big trap and just said the car was registered for 12 months. Anyway, that's it. It's all over... well, as far as eBay is concerned. On the plus side, I'm glad I was able to purchase the Bus without having to sell Bluey beforehand.

I may not be able to update the Waffle page tomorrow, depending on what happens. It's a bit of an unknown quantity at the mo. Stay tooned. Gary

April 2, 2011. By the way, here's the web site I found that lists all pre-1986 cars that can use unleaded fuel. FL Josh wrote: What I have heard about the use of unleaded fuel in vehicles designed for leaded fuel is that you will do fine as long as you don't stress the engine.  You wouldn't want to tow anything with it or drive it really hard without adding a lead additive.  Engine temperature might be an indicator of stress but that is an educated guess.  If so, you could just make sure the engine doesn't run warm and if you get into a driving situation where it is going to run warm, add some additive.

It seems to me that certain manufacturers anticipated the introduction of unleaded fuel and began manufacturing engines that could cope with unleaded in advance of its availability.

Meanwhile, TX Greg spotted this '84 Toyota: Found another one for sale with a diesel engine: What a price difference!!! The one you're getting looks way better :) Yep, I saw that one when I was still pondering the Codemobile. The ad says it's equipped to travel the outback cos it's got a roo bar. THAT'S not a roo bar! The bar on the Codemobile is much more substantial (despite the ding). So why is mine selling so cheap? Maybe it's because the seller is a chicken farmer, and the Toyo smells like chicken manure. If that turns out to be the case, I'll rename it the Fartmobile. Also, the 2 liter petrol was upgraded to 2.2 and then 2.4 (with 5-speed transmission) soon after the '84 model (4-speed) was introduced so she ain't real quick. But that doesn't bother me... as long as she's not as slow as my old 1600cc Kombi. I drove the Kombi into a headwind DOWNHILL one time and she couldn't get past 40kph. Hehe. How embarrassing. Back in the '60s and '70s, motorists dreaded getting stuck behind a Kombi on a hill. On the other hand, you could drive a Kombi almost anywhere.

I happened on a Toyota Hiace fan site yesterday where a young bloke said he bought a used van that he wanted to modify - the usual things, lowered, zillion watt stereo, loud exhaust, fur-lined interior. He said he would dump the old engine and get a new one, which (according to him) costs about $2K. Somebody answered with "Why would you want to get a new one? Those engines go forever!" Yes, I've heard stories about the legendary Toyota engines. A bloke I spoke to in Taree a few years ago owns a 2 liter Corona that's done 500,000kms and "still runs like new". Anyway, be that as it may, it's nice to know that a new donk is not all that expensive, and could extend the life of the car by many years. However, to me, it's what's in the back that counts... bed, kitchen, dinette, cupboards, pop top... that's where the big bucks are. A basic van more than doubles in price after it's been fitted out as a camper.

It's a pity I won't have time to do a comprehensive photo essay of the trip to Tamworth and back. I need to be home in Taree before nightfall, which doesn't leave much time for poking about and taking pics. I'll take a few, of course, but not all that many. On the Odyssey it'll be much more liesurely, with plenty of time to sleep over and take a good look around.

I've been to Tamworth a couple of times. The first was back in 1965 just after I bought my new Beetle. I told my mother I was going for a drive and ended up in Tamworth, a 5-hour drive away! Obviously, I was home late for dinner that night. I was 21 at the time and 1) I loved driving and 2) the Beetle was a lotta fun to drive, especially on country roads with lots of twists and turns.

Beeb time: There are fierce clashes in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan as Laurent Gbagbo battles to hold off an assault by presidential rival Alassane Ouattara. Meanwhile, if a car backfires in Taree it's a major event. At least seven foreign UN workers have been killed after protesters stormed a UN compound in the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif, officials say. The compound was set alight as hundreds protested over the burning of the Koran in a US church last month. Several demonstrators were killed by guards. On 20 March, Pastor Wayne Sapp set light to a copy of the Koran at a church in Florida. Pastor Sapp is a fuckwit. Seven civilians died in a coalition air strike on a pro-Gaddafi convoy in eastern Libya, a doctor there tells the BBC. Well, when you drop bombs what else can you expect? I'm sure many civilians were killed in the bombing of Berlin and also Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Sadly, that's war. Security forces in Syria reportedly kill at least four people as new anti-government protests erupt across the country. At least it keeps the journalists busy. Prince William has chosen not wear a wedding ring, St James's Palace says. But his bride Kate Middleton, 29, will wear a band made from gold from the Clogau St David's mine at Bontddu, in north Wales. The announcement about the rings came as the Queen visited Prince William, 28, at the RAF base in Anglesey where he works as a search and rescue pilot. William's father, the Prince of Wales, does wear a wedding band, but his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, does not. I wonder why that is? A man known as the "Westside rapist", who terrorised Los Angeles suburbs in the 1970s, has been jailed for life on seven murder counts. John Floyd Thomas, 74, pleaded guilty on Friday and was sentenced to seven life terms, with no chance of parole. Police have said they believe he may be responsible for as many as 30 killings. The scary thing is those people look just like everybody else. 

So now it's back to saving like buggery to get all the goodies I need... second battery (deep cycle), inverter, solar panel, awning, GPS thingy, kitchen stuff, wireless internet... plus all the more mundane tasks like eliminating rust, fixing dings, attending to various mechanical repairs, etc, etc, etc. BUT, I'm sure it will be rewarding as each step draws closer to the Odyssey.

What the hell am I talking about? It's the Odyssey itself that's so scary. Holidays are not scary. Holidays have a beginning and an ending. Once the holiday is over, you return home. Not in this case. There's no home to come back to! It's kinda like being blasted into space with no particular destination. I must be nutz. Oh well, at least I'll have a story to tell.

So that's it for Satdee. Time to hit the kitchen and rustle up some grub. We had tandoori chicken and roast spuds last night, which wasn't bad. Tonight I'll do fish cakes and hash browns. Gary

April 1, 2011. Things are a bit more relaxed at the mo. Now that I've paid for the Codemobile, selling Bluey is not urgent. If it doesn't sell on eBay this weekend, I'll try something else. Yesterday I removed the reserve of $4000 so now any bid above $3500 will mean a sale. I'll lose a few grand on what I've spent but them's the breaks. On the poz side, I got me a V Hickle that's far better suited to my requirements, and I also have the time to add the finishing touches before departure. So hopefully, it'll be all's well that ends well.

As I chatted to Stan the Lawn Man yesterday, a late model motorhome drove past. "That's what you need," he said. I agreed but added, "That's not what I can afford." When you're a pensioner on limited means, you've gotta make the most of what you've got. And that, lemme tellya, becomes quite an art form with a bit of practice. Hehe.

It's a beautiful morning; bright sunshine, T-shirt and barefoot temp, blue skies, and I was wondering what it would be like to see such a lovely day through the side windows of The Codemobile instead of this house. All I can see from here is other houses and power poles. Know what I mean? It could be something like this. Or something like this.

Here's an interesting blog and series pics of an old '48 home-built caravan being restored. It's a timber frame clad in Masonite. Retro rules!

Beeb time: Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi's armed forces are not close to breaking point despite hundreds of allied air strikes, American military chiefs have said. Adm Mike Mullen told a US Congress committee Col Gaddafi's troops still had 10 times the rebels' firepower. At the same hearing, Defence Secretary Robert Gates reiterated the US would put no "boots on the ground" in Libya. So what are they saying? That the allied air strikes were a waste of time? Sounds crazy to me. Police in Austria have arrested a man suspected of robbing banks while wearing a mask of US President Barack Obama. The man was arrested after an armed robbery in Fornach, north-east of Salzburg, in Upper Austria. Police said a bank employee was held at gunpoint before the robber fled the scene in a car. At least six other armed raids have been carried out by the man Austrian media have dubbed the "Obama robber". He's probably a Republican. The Republic of Ireland's banks need an extra 24bn euros (£21.2bn) to survive the financial crisis. Sorry mate, love to help out but I just bought a campervan. BBC motoring writer Jorn Madslien is one of the first people outside Rolls-Royce to have driven the company's newly built electric car. So, is it any good? Find out here. Australian band Men at Work have lost an appeal against a ruling which found their 1983 hit single Down Under was partly copied from a folk song. Australia's Federal Court upheld the decision which stated part of the song's melody came from the tune Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree. The latest decision clears the way for Larrikin Music, the copyright owners for Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, to claim millions of dollars in unpaid royalties from Down Under writers Colin Hay and Ron Strykert. Now you know why Kookaburras laugh. The whole thing is a bloody joke. 

I'm afraid that's all for today, ladies and genitals. I've spent several frustrating hours on the web searching for info about the 1984 Toyota Hiace with poor results. I did find one site from the Australian Petroleum Association (or something like that) saying that the 1984 Hiace is okay to use standard unleaded petrol. Earlier I phoned the local Toyota dealer who advised using lead replacement, but the guy didn't sound all that convincing. He was guessing. Mick, the current owner, has been using unleaded with no problems, but I wanted official confirmation. Gary


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