the WAFFLE page

May 31, 2011. Either either. They look the same but are they pronouced the same?

I thought a bit more about that luminous toilet paper I mentioned yesterday. If the luminous stuff on the paper rubs off, it could give you a butt that glows in the dark. However, I haven't figured out yet how that might be useful.

NC Art has similar thoughts: The thing about radioactive toilet paper is that after a few days of use, your butt and hands will glow also, making it hard to hide from predators--human or animal.

I never liked blundering about in dark. As the youngest kid in the family, one chore was getting in coal from an outside bin to get fireplaces and the cook range going each morning. This chore should have been done before nightfall, but often was neglected by this young procrastinator. So as I was shoveling coal into buckets one night, I heard a deep CHUFF! behind me. Mean bull on the loose!, so I swung the shovel wildly in self defense. There was no sound of a whomp to the bull's face, but my brother let out a yowl. The shovel point had grazed the tip of his nose. Cured him of practical joking for awhile.  

Speaking of pranks.

Blundering is a good word. I like blundering. I like dismal too. Last night on the game show Letters and Numbers the resident word expert said that there are words to describe cartoon scribbles like those little curved lines beside an object that's shaking, or horizontal lines and a puff of cloud to denote something moving quickly, or vertical lines below an object that's leaving the ground, or jagged bolts of lightning to signify electricity. I can't remember what the words are (which are not yet accepted officially by dictionaries) but they were created by a prominent cartoonist, whose name also escapes me. Not much use am I. 

So yesterday's altercation between Bluey and the garage door wasn't a nightmare after all. It really happened. The thing I've discovered about hatches is that they need to be closed while you're standing there thinking about it. It's too easy to become preoccupied with rain and bags of groceries and then forget about the hatch. And if you're using your side mirrors to reverse, you don't see the open hatch. Anyway, cest la vie. What's done is done. I'm still pissed off though.

Meanwhile, it's goodbye May and hello June. Half way through another year. April, May and June are names given to girls. Augustus can be a boy's name, but I'm not aware of anyone named January, February, March, July, September, October, November or December. Interestingly, Tuesday can also be a girl's name. And there was one bloke who was a mate of Mr Crusoe who was called Friday. As to me, I was born on a Tuesday. How do I know that?

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and good in every way.

Okay, so I'm full of grace. That's interesting because my nickname for years was Grace (as in Kelly). Hmmm. Sue was born on a Saturday, and I suppose there's some truth in her working hard for a living because it's a wonder she's still alive. Lindsay was born on a Sunday. Fair and wise and good in every way? I think we can justifiably dismiss that little poem as a load of old codswallop.

Beeb time: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said a decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022 can make her country a trailblazer in renewable energy. Ms Merkel said Germany would reap economic benefits from the move. "We can be the first major industrialised country that achieves the transition to renewable energy with all the opportunities - for exports, development, technology, jobs - it carries with it." I hope she's right. The world does not have a choice if it's going to survive. The prices of staple foods will more than double in 20 years unless world leaders take action to reform the global food system, Oxfam has warned. I find it pretty amazing that 6.5 billion people are fed already. That's a helluva lotta people! Eight senior officers who defected from Col Muammar Gaddafi's army have appealed to fellow soldiers to join them in backing the rebels. One of the eight accused pro-Gaddafi forces of "genocide". The men - who are said to include five generals - appeared at a news conference in Rome. Yes, it's not easy to butter your bread on both sides. Police in southern Bangladesh say a woman cut off a man's penis during an alleged attempt to rape her and took it to a police station as evidence. Well, I suppose that's one way to prove a point. An impressive waterspout, spiralling up into a bank of clouds, has been filmed off the coast of New South Wales in Australia. A camera crew for an Australian broadcaster, 7 News, caught the column of water on camera, estimating it to be 600m tall. Waterspouts occur when a tornado forms over oceans, lakes, or rivers. I think it was off Terrigal, where I lived for a while back in the early '70s. Click here for the video. President Barack Obama has paid tribute to US forces at a ceremony at the military cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on Memorial Day. He addressed an audience of serving soldiers, veterans and families of those killed in combat. Mr Obama said: "The grief of mourning you carry in your hearts is a grief I cannot fully know. Arlington is the resting place for thousands of soldiers "This day is about you and the fallen heroes that you loved and it's a day that has meaning for all Americans." Including NC Art. A doctor has been beaten to death by inmates of a prison where he was examining a patient in the northern Indian state of Bihar, police say. Some reports say Dr Buddhadev Singh Bhudeo was being pressured by prisoners to issue fake medical certificates so they could avoid appearing in court. The police have lodged cases against seven prisoners in the jail in Bihar's Gopalgunj district. Bihar's government says it will introduce laws to protect doctors. How thoughtful and timely

Gopalgunj? And I thought Oz had some weird names. Even Woolloomooloo isn't as bad as Gopalgunj. And what about where Kot & Co from Ukraine lived... Dnepropetrovsk? Even they said they had trouble pronouncing it.

So where will I finally settle down after the Odyssey? Good question. Rents in Sydney are astronomical, so I can forget going back there. I could rent a 2-bedroom house at Old Bar, close to the beach and 15 minutes from Taree, for about $200 pw and share it with someone. But I really have no idea where I'll settle. It could be Western Oz, Tasmania, Northern Territory, Queensland... somewhere in the outback... who knows?

I'm not keen on sharing a house with anyone. On the other hand, if I fall down and go boom it's handy to have someone else there to phone an ambulance. Ideally, the person with whom I would consider sharing a house would be utterly devoid of friends - no visitors, no boyfriends, no girlfriends, no parties, no noise, no nuthin'. And they would need to be obsessive about house cleaning, and keeping toilets and bathrooms spic and span. An interest in gardening and weeding would also be beneficial. And cooking, preferably Asian. Apart than that, I'm not picky.

And now for something completely different - urinal behavior.

Well, there goes Chewsdee... almost. Din dins time. That's doggy talk for evening meal. If I ever open a restaurant, I'll call it Din Dins. Gary

May 30, 2011. TX Greg has suggested I should pack this in Das Busse on the Odyssey. It's not just a roll of toilet paper... no, no, no, this is special camping toilet paper that glows in the dark. How sensible.  Reminds me of Karl Maldin's old Amex ads... don't leave home without it.

I rather fancy those solar garden lamps on a spike as well... anything that prevents me from becoming unintentionally horizontal as I feel my way around the camp site at night. People who live in cities forget just how pitch black it can get out in the country. I spent a couple of weeks on a farm when I was teen. It was at Coonamble, way out in the sticks. One night, I went to the loo which was one of those country loos in the backyard, a small shed plonked over a hole in the ground. Anyway, there I was, arms outstretched, feeling my way through the inky blackness toward where I thought the loo was, when all of a sudden I banged into something that went MOOOOOOOOO! Frightened the crap outta me... and frightened the crap outta the cow as well.

The interesting thing about sitting on a bush loo (or dunny, as we call them) by the light of a flickering candle is the time it takes after the bomb bay is opened for the missile to reach splash down. It's then you decide to check the boards supporting the can to make sure they're secure. If the unthinkable ever happened, I'm sure nobody would want to rescue you.

Oh, the joys of camping out in the sticks. I can't wait. Yeah, right.

The weather is miserable today... cool and wet. I'm not talking 3 feet of snow or a blizzard or a tornado, but by normal Taree standards it's miserable, and that's the forecast for the rest of the week. On days like this on the Odyssey, I'd either take refuge in town or, if that was unavailable, I'd definitely need my laptop and the internet to while away the hours in Das Busse. If there happened to be other campers at the site, I suppose we could organize a get-together under shelter and amuse ourselves. However, I'm hoping for lots and lots and lots of fine weather. Oz is supposed to be the driest inhabited continent on earth, but not this year.

I just spent a while Googling travel blogs in Oz hoping to link something interesting here. But they're all BORING. Or maybe it's just the people who are boring, and can't put a decent sentence together. 

Beeb time: Thousands of nationalist Serbs rally in Belgrade against the arrest for war crimes of ex-Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic. They hailed Gen Mladic as a hero and said he should not be handed over the UN's war crimes tribunal in The Hague. There were clashes with police as the demonstration ended. Gen Mladic faces extradition to The Hague on charges of war crimes including the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 7,500 Muslim men and boys. Hero? The US city of Joplin remembers the time exactly one week ago a devastating tornado struck, as visiting President Barack Obama pays tribute. It must be extremely difficult to write a speech that both inspires and sympathizes in an attempt to make the people feel better. Can you imagine the reception God would get if he arrived in Joplin to make a speech? South African President Jacob Zuma is heading for Libya for an African Union-sponsored mission to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. We all know what it is, Jacob. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has forcefully condemned the killing of 14 civilians in the south-west of the country in a suspected Nato air strike. Mr Karzai said his government had repeatedly asked the US to stop raids which end up killing Afghan civilians and this was his "last warning". The air strike, targeted at insurgents, struck two civilian homes, killing two women and 12 children, reports say. Who needs enemies when you have friends like Nato? The Taliban must be rubbing their hands with glee. 

So, on a wet and cold day, what can a bloke have for lunch? How about.... a jaffle with cheese and pineapple? Mmmm, melted tasty cheddar and hot pineapple. Sounds pretty good to me.

Yes, have you noticed that God never turns up at the scene of catastrophic events, like earthquakes or tsunamis or devastating fires or floods or tornadoes to offer his condolences? He'd certainly have a bit of explaining to do. And yet you hear survivors thanking and praising God for sparing them. Hello? I'll never understand that sort of mentality. Never.

Speaking of catastrophic events, it's not my day today, I'm afraid. Back from shopping in the rain. Rather than leave the bags in the rain while I backed Bluey into the garage, I carried the bags to the front veranda, and then went back to Bluey, getting soaked in the process. I forgot to close the rear hatch. As I reversed, the raised hatch struck the rolladoor. BANG! So I drove forward. The window wiper caught on the rolladoor and dragged the window out of its frame. SMASH! So now the hatch is buggered, the glass is smashed, and the garage door is bent outta shape. All in the space of a few seconds. Bluey is insured but the excess is $600. So there goes this month's savings toward fixing Das Busse. Thank you very much.

Why not drive Bluey front first into the garage? Because there's a bunch of stuff stored at the back and sides, and you can't open the doors. I have to reverse in. She won't fit in the other garage because she's too tall for the tiltadoor.

So I phoned Matt from Smash Zone and he's coming around here to take a look at the damage. There's no point in claiming insurance if it can be fixed for less than $600. And I'd rather not lose my no claim bonus. What a day.

According to Matt, the door's okay. It opens and closes. The struts have come loose, the hinges are a bit wobbly, the demister wiring and wiper motor wiring is unattached, and the wiper blade has been ripped off, but they reckon all I need is new (second hand) glass, which might cost me a few hundred plus reconnection of the loose bits. They'll get back to me tomorrow with a quote. I'm thinking maybe $400.

By the way, have you ever tried sweeping smashed glass from wet ground and grass? It ain't easy.

Not one of my better days, ladies and genitals. One step forward, two steps back. Gary

May 29, 2011. Sundee, and not a bad one. Bit chilly this morning but it'll improve. I woke to take a pee this morning but Sue was in the loo, and she takes forever. So I peed in a bucket instead. I'm conscious now of how much pee I pee in a given day because on the Odyssey I'll be using a porta potti, and I have no idea at this point how often a porta potti needs to be emptied. And you can't just empty them any old place. You either dig a discreet hole or find a dump point. So that means I need a spade... and an axe and a hammer and and and... By the time I load all the stuff I need into Das Busse, there'll be no room left for me. Maybe I could put wheels on the porta potti and tow it. Yeah, right. Can you imagine that thing bouncing and sloshing along a rough dirt road?

Actually, I've never been to a dump point, and I'm not sure I'm looking forward to it. Ew! Because of the chemicals used in a porta potti to deodorize and break down the solids (Ew! again), you can't empty the stuff into one of those organic public loos that disposes of waste using bacteria. You either dig a hole or find a dump point. I've heard stories about some campers who don't bother, and I don't even wanna think about that. But one experienced traveler said he never drinks water from a river/creek/stream, and always carries bottled water for drinking. Nuff said.

One of the tricks I've learned about using public loos is TAKE YOUR OWN TOILET PAPER. There's either none available (which is a major worry) or it's that horrible non-absorbent cheap stuff.

Years ago, after I'd been through a bit of drama, a mate of mine hired Helen, a Halvorsen cruiser (something like this one) on the Hawksbury River, and invited me to spend a weekend aboard. We anchored in a little bay for lunch. While he was busy aft preparing food, I went to the head (loo). Not being accustomed to seafaring ways, I happily did my thing and then went back to see how my mate was doing. He was rinsing the teapot in the river when GUESS WHAT went floating by. Oops! Oh dear...

So, yes, the things you take for granted at home are much different when you're out and about in the great beyond. And I'm sure I'll have lots of amusing tales to tell when I'm "out there" vagabonding around Oz.

Beeb time: The police commander for northern Afghanistan has been killed in a suicide bomb attack on the provincial governor's compound in Takhar. Gen Mohammad Daud Daud is one of at least six people killed in the attack, claimed by the Taliban. Those Taliban dudes are a real worry... sneaky and cunning. A single bottle of wine has sold for £135,000 in a London auction. The six-litre bottle of 1961 Chateau Latour was sold to a Chinese bidder at Christie's auction house. The sum was more than three times the expected price. Wine experts said the bottle was of "perfect provenance". I can never be accused of buying a bottle of anything I didn't consume. But I must admit I'd have to think twice about consuming that one. A Californian team say they have managed to convert human skin cells directly into functioning brain cells. The scientists manipulated the process by which DNA is transcribed within foetal skin cells to create cells which behaved like neurons. The technique had previously been demonstrated in mice, says the report in Nature. It could be used for neurological research, and might conceivably be used to create brain cells for transplant. As my doc says, the brain is what defines who we are, so anything that can keep it healthy is welcome. 

NC Art responded to my reference yesterday as to whether or not Churchill was responsible for a remark about British and American culture: Humph and bah. Churchill, Wilde, Russell, or Shaw, their comments on English/American language are all of a piece: so obvious to require remarks  by the cognoscenti. A pox on all this picky criticism.

Oregon Richie is a great fan of Churchill and wrote: The renewed interest in Churchill... much moreso in the past decade or so and even frequently mentioned in the aftermath of 9-11 has been interesting.  Twice as many books written about him in the past decade than the 40 or so years since his death.  The part of his life from the thirties and forties is what is remembered most.  I think many would be fascinated to know of his earlier history... as a young Soldier in India, the Sudan, and South Africa... during the first world war... when he was sacked from the Admiralty, and after a period of crippling depression and sorrow got up and jumped over the pond to France to fight in the muddy trenches.  Something inspirational in the life of that man.  And incredibly self-educated for the most part, and having considerable personal bravery even though he had a somewhat frail physical constitution in many ways.  Aaaahhhh....maaaaazing.

But Art goes on to comment on pineapples: Your pineapple comments are spot on. Many moons ago my mom made cakes with fresh pineapple, which even in the benighted American south could be found in our one grocery store. Coconuts too. The coconut cake was favorite of two sisters, but I got the job of smashing the damned thing, picking the shell off and grating the meat. I hated that because my fingers were bloody and sore for days after the cake was but a memory. But a good memory.

Yep, coconut is awesome. I use it in curries and making biscuits... and sprinkle dessicated coconut on various things. In Oz, the biscuit Dame Edna Everage loves to make fun of, but which is nonetheless a revered national icon, is the iced VoVo hehe. If you wanna be posh in Oz when you serve tea, you must also serve iced vovos. Iced vovos show that you have real class, even if you don't.

AND, Art writes... I just got a gracious reply from Justin. I had written to congratulate him on his master's degree and encourage him to go for his doctorate. Let's hope he goes far in helping young people to cope with a hateful culture and take justifiable pride in who they are.

It's Red Shield day, and a Salvation Army rep called at the front door for a donation. I gave him $20. Five minutes later, another rep called. This time Lindsay answered the door and gave the guy $5. The same guy was here last year and commented on the bricklaying of this house. "No cracks, perfect mortar." His dad was a bricklayer. Yep, it's in good nick for an 80 y/o house. But the guy explained that he's not from the Salvation Army. He's a Catholic. I'm sure many of the volunteer collectors are not Sallies, but that doesn't stop them volunteering on Red Shield day. Sallies are respected no matter what religion you're from, or even if you're an agnostic or atheist. Sallies don't build cathedrals or expensive monuments. They use their time and resources to get out there at grass roots level to do their work. The Sallies were out on the battle fields during war time, and they're still out there on the battle fields during peace time, helping the sick, the desperate, the poor and the disadvantaged. Long live the Sallies.

I was walking my dog in a local park at night one time when I lived in Glebe. Kelly was running around without a leash, and the Sallies turned up. "Would you like a cup of tea?" one of the Sally ladies asked. "Thanks, but no thanks. I'm just here walking my dog." Well, Kelly was off somewhere or other sniffing things, so the Sally lady thought I was lying. "Are you sure you wouldn't like a nice cup of tea, darling? It's free." And there I was about a block away from my house which is now worth about 3/4 of a million buckeroonies.

I'm reminded of SF Jim who always took Mr Biggs for his morning walk around the streets of San Francisco. He said that when Biggs sniffed trees and fences and lamp posts and whatever else, it was his version of the morning paper. Hehe. He was "reading" about who had been there and what they were doing. One time Jim told me about the dishes of water some people left out on the pavement for people walking their dogs. How sweet and neighborly was that? For those who don't know, Jim and I were mates for a long time before he died of a heart attack in 2006. I phoned him the day before he died.

So what am I having for lunch? A savory cauliflower and cheese pastry roll. Art reckons you can't do anything to cauliflower to make it edible but you can ya know. This is very nice. The pastry is thin and flaky. I think I could quite happily be vegetarian. Meat is okay but I can do without it. Years ago, in the '70s, I was vegetarian for a while during all that lovey-dovey, flower power, Woodstock stuff. I made a vegetarian bolognaise once and my dad couldn't believe how delicious it was. I think if I had to kill my own meat, I'd switch to vegetarian. I can't even catch a fish without feeling guilty, let alone put a live worm on a hook. How gross!

Well, lunch was several hours ago, and now it's almost time to think about the evening meal. Fish 'n' chips. Earlier, I sat in Das Busse as part of my familiarization program hehe. On a moderately warm day, the vehicle absorbs the heat of the sun and makes the van nice and cosy, even with the sliding door open. It was so nice in there, I almost dozed off. Yesterday, I started the engine and let it run for a while. No worries. I think I'm feeling more at ease with spending a lot of money (to me) on restoring DB as opposed to selling it and getting something else. Not totally confident but getting there. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. The devil you know, and all that kinda baloney. Any decision is better than no decision, yadda, yadda. Gary

May 28, 2011. Jeez, Satdee again already. NC Art commented on my attempt yesterday to find a particular Churchill quote: Quoting Churchill can be maddening as memory faileth just in time for embarrassment. The one you were searching for goes something like this: The English and the Americans comprise one great culture divided by a common language.

Well, did Churchill actually say that? Bill Brohaugh disagrees.

The great poet you memorialize seems quite like Robert Service in subject and rhyme structure. Service was an Englishman who emigrated to America and worked briefly as a bank teller before heeding the  "call of the wild" and struck out for Alaska. There he also toiled as a banker while absorbing tales of the frontier--and the raw beauty of that virgin and untamable land. I recommend you spend a few minutes Googling Service and reading a few poems:
The Shooting of Dan McGrew
The Cremation of Sam McGee
The Call of the Yukon

Yes, I'm familiar with Robert W Service. I'm not sure whether it was you or FL Josh who introduced me to his work some time ago. Great stuff.

It's 9C here at the mo, which equates to about 50F, and I'm not too thrilled about it. Too bloody cold for me. Currently, it's 21C at Townsville in north Queensland, which is about 70F, and they're headed for 26C (about 80F), with humidity at 40%. I know where I'd rather be.

Beeb time: Serbia's president says the investigation into arrested Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic will focus on those who protected him. It worries me that, throughout history, people like Mladic keep rising to prominence and power. What is it about the rest of us that allows this to happen? World leaders at the G8 summit in France issue a joint call for the embattled Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to step down. 40 years in power and now they're kicking up a stink. Funny about that. The first funeral of a confirmed victim of last Sunday's devastating tornado in the city of Joplin in the US state of Missouri has been held. It came as the death toll from the tornado - the deadliest in more than 60 years - rose from 125 to 132, local officials said. But they say a new list of 232 missing has dropped to 156 after dozens of people were accounted for. The winds have abated but the sorrow will take much much longer. Several towns in Austria have been checking their archives this week to see if Adolf Hitler is still an honorary citizen of their communities. It follows an announcement by the town of Amstetten that - after more than 60 years - it was finally revoking Hitler's honorary title. Hitler visited Amstetten - west of Vienna - in 1938, and was made an honorary citizen the following year. The Green Party sponsored the move to strike his name from the honours list. It's a pity Hitler's father wasn't wearing a condom. A Toronto couple are defending their decision to keep their infant's sex a secret in order to allow the child to develop his or her own gender identity. Kathy Witterick and David Stocker have been widely criticised for imposing their ideology on four-month-old Storm. The family were the subject of a recent profile in the Toronto Star newspaper. In an e-mail, Ms Witterick wrote that the idea that "the whole world must know what is between the baby's legs is unhealthy, unsafe, and voyeuristic". Ms Witterick, 38, and Mr Stocker, 39, have also been criticised for the manner in which they are raising their two sons Jazz, five, and Kio, two. The boys are encouraged to choose their own clothing and hairstyles - even if that means wearing girls' clothes - and to challenge gender norms. Jazz wears his hair in long braids, and the boys are "almost exclusively assumed to be girls," Mr Stocker told the Toronto Star. The child's grandparents do not know Storm's sex, the Toronto Star reported, and have grown weary of explaining the situation, but are supportive. In an e-mail to the Associated Press news agency, Ms Witterick, a stay-at-home mother, said a four-month-old infant was still learning to recognise him or herself, and said it was inappropriate to impose a gender identity on the child. Well, I think Nature takes care of that aspect. However, I have known boys who prefer to be girls, and girls who prefer to be boys, so maybe Ms Witterick and Mr Stocker have a point. I just hope the kids don't get confused. Fiat says it will buy the US government's 6% stake in Chrysler, paving the way for the Italian firm to take a majority share in the US firm. It's all a bit strange, isn't it... VW owns Rolls Royce, BMW owns Bentley, the Indians own Jaguar and Rover, Ford owns (or did) Mazda and Kia, Renault has a major interest in Nissan... what does it all mean? The National Museum of Computing has finished restoring a Tunny machine - a key part of Allied code-cracking during World War II. Tunny machines helped to unscramble Allied interceptions of the encrypted orders Hitler sent to his generals. The rebuild was completed even though almost no circuit diagrams or parts of the original machines survived. Intelligence gathered via code-cracking at Bletchley underpinned the success of Allied operations to end WWII. Amazing stuff about technology we take for granted today. A dog who went missing after tornadoes hit the US state of Alabama on 27 April turned up 20 days later, finding his way home despite having sustained two broken front legs. Mason, a terrier mix, was picked up by the tornado, leaving his owners to believe he had been killed. But when his owners returned to their damaged home a few days later, they found Mason waiting for them on the porch. A wonderful story. Check the video here.

Yes, the technology we take for granted these days. But a couple of weeks ago I saw little Keiran and his mate carrying fishing rods on their way down to the river. Those kids are forever thumbing buttons on their hand-held gizmos, or walking around with earplugs in their ears, or playing games on the internet at home, and yet there they were doing a Huckleberry Finn. Maybe some things haven't changed.

I think any kid who hasn't climbed a tree or collected bugs or skinned his knees or camped in the bush by a swimming hole has missed out on the great joys of being a kid. I'm once again reminded of Wingnut arriving home from a rugby game with one sock up and one sock down, covered in grass stains and mud, to show Cody his battle scars before going home to shower. Hehe. And remember the time Cody put Wingnut's soiled clothes into the washing machine and then locked him out of the house? Hehe. Kids can be soooo cruel. And what about the time on the swim tour that Wingnut's initiation involved him wearing nothing but a mini skirt all the way to McDonalds. And the time he put a lizard in Mark's sleeping bag. Hehe. What wonderful times they were, and I hope all the guys still take time out to remember them fondly. I certainly do. In fact, it was a great privilege for me to share those shenanigans with Code during my fifties. He gave me an opportunity to relive my own boyhood and to be reminded of how much fun it was to be a kid.

Speaking of fun, I just sliced some pineapple and gave Sue a bit. Lindsay doesn't eat it. It was so delicious I wondered how many people remember what REAL pineapple is like. Most people eat stuff out of cans today, or candied or whatever. It's not the same. Nowhere near the same. And this whole pineapple cost just $1.50.

Well, I better start thinking about feeding the resident loonies... fillet steak and onions. Back in the old boarding house days, they never saw fillet, or any other kinda steak for that matter. But they conveniently forget what it was like back then. Gary

May 27, 2010. The difference between Eike von Stuckenbrok and me is that I'm stuck and broke. Check out this kid's fitness. It's astounding.

Trevor Thompson, another old radio colleague wrote: I stumbled across your website while looking for some photos of my old radio station, 2LM. Yes, it appears we worked at the same station! I left in December 1975 to take a shift at 2WL Wollongong. 

You'll recall I was your replacement at 2UE in 1984 when you left to go to 2DAY-FM if I recall correctly. I ended up spending 7 years at 2UE and left in 1991. Almost 30 years later I still remember listening to some of the ads you wrote on 2DAY and in particular ads you wrote for some Hi-Fi system or retailer which aired of a night time - they were 60 or 90 seconds long but I remember thinking "fuck" that Gary is a great writer!!!!

Do you have any other photos of 2LM? I think I have a couple of the on-air studio....with me looking very baby

1984... that's when Das Busse was born. Yes, I remember Trevor. We spoke on the phone back in the mid '90s and I mentioned something about charging $50 for a 30-second script. He charged $1500, explaining that clients didn't appreciate creativity unless they paid a fortune for it. That was my downfall, really. I had no business sense at all, and no idea of what my talent was worth. I still don't.

One client back in the '80s told me I wasn't charging enough, and suggested I should double my prices. So I tripled them instead and he didn't complain.

I just responded to an email from NC Art about Australians and their way of expressing things. I was looking for something about mateship but instead found this letter from Henry Lawson written to the Bulletin back in 1903. Lawson was and is one of Australia's great poets:

Dear Bulletin

I'm awfully surprised to find myself sober.  And, being sober, I take up my pen to write a few lines, hoping they will find you as I am at present. I want to know a few things. In the first place: Why does a man get drunk? There seems to be no excuse for it.  I get drunk because I am in trouble, and I get drunk because I've got out of it. I get drunk because I'm sick, or have corns, or the toothache: and I get drunk because I'm feeling well and grand. I get drunk because I was rejected; and I got awfully drunk the night I was accepted. And, mind you, I don't like to get drunk at all, because I don't enjoy it much, and suffer hell afterwards. I'm always far better and happier when I'm sober, and tea tastes better than beer. But I get drunk. I get drunk when I feel that I want a drink, and I get drunk when I don't. I get drunk because I had a row last night and made a fool of myself and it worries me, and when things are fixed up I get drunk to celebrate it.  And, mind you, I've got no craving for a drink.  I get drunk because I'm frightened about things, and because I don't care a damn.  Because I'm hard up and because I'm flush.  And, somehow, I seem to have better luck when I'm drunk.  I don't think the mystery of drunkenness will ever be explained - until all things are explained, and that will be never. A friend says that we don't drink to feel happier, but to feel less miserable. But I don't feel miserable when I'm straight. Perhaps I'm not perfectly sober right now, after all. I'll go and get a drink, and write again later.

Henry Lawson,

Letter to the Bulletin (1903)

In 1926, Bill Hornadge wrote of mateship,

“What is a mate nowadays?  Somebody you can rely on - through thick, thin and middling; past hell and high-water.  Like the mariner’s compass he always points north to you.  In any trouble, you know what he will do, without argument; because, since he is your mate, it is exactly what you would do yourself.  Your mate is indeed yourself in another fellow’s skin - perhaps your better self, perhaps your worse self; but always the same old six-and-eightpence (68 cents), even when he measures up to thirteen and fourpence ($1.34), or down to five and tuppence (52 cents).  Seems contradictory, doesn’t he? - Your mate.  He is!  My Australian oath he is!  Look at my mate!  Take it from me, there never was such a dogmatic, obstinate, prejudiced, pig-headed son of a twisted mallee root since mates were discovered.  Yet I stick to him; I can’t get rid of him; he is inside my skin; he’s me, bother him!”.

Here's another piece about Aussie mateship I found on a site called authorsden:

During the Japanese occupation of Singapore, while I was a boy, one hundred thousand captured British Commonwealth troops, including twenty two thousand Australians, suffered badly, savagely beaten and starved, many died.  Without medical aid, and forced to live in disease-infested work camps, they labored from dawn to dark.  In Changi, Malaya and Burma, Australians had a higher survival rate than all the others.  This fact has been attributed to the mateship culture and wry humor of young Australian soldiers - everyone sharing what little they had and looking after each other in the midst of slavery, starvation, bashings, torture, vile diseases, imprisonment and beheadings.  Yet they were still able to pull pranks on their captors, perform plays, play games and take it all not too seriously.  I am not suggesting that the other soldiers did not do similar things but it is well-known that Australians did it more.  Adversity really does bring out the basic elements of human character, and Mateship is one of the finest. 

The Christ of the "Never Never"

Poet:  Henry Lawson  1867 – 1922.  He wrote this poem in 1898:

With eyes that seem shrunken to pierce 
To the awful horizons of land, 
Through the haze of hot days, and the fierce 
White heat-waves that flow on the sand; 

Through the Never Land westward and nor'ward, 
Bronzed, bearded and gaunt on the track, 
Quiet-voiced and hard-knuckled, rides forward 
The Christ of the Outer Outback. 

For the cause that will ne'er be relinquished 
Spite of all the great cynics on earth- 
In the ranks of the bush undistinguished 
By manner or dress - if by birth - 

God's preacher, of churches unheeded - 
God's vineyard, though barren the sod - 
Plain spokesman where spokesman is needed - 
Rough link 'twixt the bushman and God. 

He works where the hearts of all nations 
Are withered in flame from the sky, 
Where the sinners work out their salvations 
In a hell-upon-earth ere they die. 

In the camp or the lonely hut lying 
In a waste that seems out of God's sight, 
He's the doctor, the mate of the dying 
Through the smothering heat of the night. 

By his work in the halls of the shearers, 
Where the drinking is ghastly and grim, 
Where the roughest and worst of his hearers 
Have listened bareheaded to him. 

By his paths through the parched desolation 
Hot rides and the terrible tramps; 
By the hunger, the thirst, the privation 
Of his work in the furthermost camps; 

By his worth in the light that shall search men 
And prove - ay! and justify each - 
I place him in front of all churchmen 
Who feel not, who know not - but preach. 

Beeb time: Ratko Mladic has appeared in a Serbian court hours after being arrested following 16 years on the run. Authorities want to extradite the former Bosnian Serb army chief to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. He faces accusations including a genocide charge over the killing of about 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995. As my mother used to say, the chickens always come home to roost. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has urged Libya's Col Muammar Gaddafi to step down as "all options are open". "We are not saying that Gaddafi needs to be exiled. He must leave power and the quicker he does it, the greater his choice," Mr Sarkozy told journalists. He is hosting a meeting of leaders from the G8 group of wealthy nations in the northern French resort of Deauville. Gaddafi doesn't trust Sarkozy or any other Western leader. He suspects they will do to him what he would do to them if he had the opportunity. A former leader of the Shia Muslim community in Trinidad is convicted of taking part in a failed plot to blow up fuel tanks at New York's JFK airport. Yes, there's always more room in the roost for extra chickens. Gun battles between rival factions inside a Mexican gang drive more than 2,000 residents out of their homes in Michoacan state. This is absolutely outrageous, and I can't understand why the might of the law hasn't crushed these evildoers. Television channels in India have been ordered not to broadcast "overtly sexual" deodorant adverts that use female models in racy storylines. The channels have been given five days to modify the offending adverts or take them off air.  "The ads brim with messages aimed at tickling libidinous male instincts," India's information ministry said in a statement. None of the companies named by the ministry have so far responded. The ministry said that the adverts offended "good taste and decency" and appeared "indecent, vulgar and suggestive" by subtly sending a message that the products "arouse women's sexuality". It said that they portrayed women as "lustily hankering after men under the influence of such deodorants". India has a population of a billion people and from what I understand none of them was found under a cabbage. The US state of Missouri has released a list of more than 230 people missing since a devastating tornado struck the city of Joplin on Sunday. But the list is shrinking as people are located, and officials hope others have simply failed to contact relatives. I feel sorry for the relatives and friends of the victims. Iraqi cleric and militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr has threatened to take up arms against US troops unless they leave the country by the end of the year. In a rare interview, he told the BBC he believed US forces would not stick to an agreement to withdraw from Iraq. The US still has about 46,000 troops in Iraq, due to have withdrawn by January 2012. On Thursday, tens of thousands of the cleric's supporters rallied in Baghdad, calling for the Americans to leave. The Pentagon has been pressing the Iraqi government to decide quickly whether it will ask some to stay on beyond the deadline. God thinks Americans are okay but Allah doesn't agree. It would be so much simpler if their were only one God but humans keep inventing new ones. Australia's human rights watchdog has called for an end to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers, citing suicides, riots and depression. Australia's Human Rights Commission condemned the treatment of asylum seekers at the Villawood detention centre, noting that their prolonged detention was causing serious mental problems. It's true that some of them are almost as nutty as our politicians. Tata Motors has reported a tripling of profits in the last year. The Indian carmaker made total profits after tax for the last 12 months of 92.7bn rupees ($2bn, £1.3bn), up 260% from a year earlier, thanks to a 33% rise in revenues to 1.2tn rupees. Business at its Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) subsidiary saw a sharp turnaround, with £1.1bn in profits before tax, having hardly broken even in the 2009-10 year. I wonder what Rudyard Kipling would have thought about all this

Scott McCreery won America's Got Talent. He's a North Carolina boy just like Art, cept he's 70 years younger. Here he is doin' his thang (even though I can't understand a word of it).

Winston Churchill, who said you can always count on Americans - after they've tried everything else, also said something about the similarity between British and American culture despite the language barrier, but I can't find the quote. Dammit. There was never and never will be a drier wit than Churchill's - he said the most hilarious things without a hint of a smile. Hehe. What a marvelous craft that was. If he were tweeting today, you would never see a smiley or a hehe or a LOL. The guy was a genius.

Have you checked my Favorites on Red Bubble lately? I've added a few which I think are well worth a peek.

Oh yes, I meant to mention a new word coined by Australian Gray Nomads (or Grey as we spell it in Oz). It's 'fivesies', which is a ritual that takes place about 5 in the afternoon after travelers have done their sightseeing and whatever, and then congregate with fellow vagabonds around the camp barbie for a bit of a natter and a few beers. Hehe. In that kind of environment there are no fences or walls, no private property, no gates or mailboxes, no street numbers. The whole camp area is shared property, with no sense of personal territory. And it seems to me that the openness and sharing of the common area promotes a wonderful conviviality and camaraderie amongst total strangers; strangers with a common interest - travel. It's an opportunity to make new friends and share stories of adventures and experiences.

Meanwhile, it's fivesies here in this house, and that means din dins... at least the preparation thereof. Chicken schnitzels and corn cobs. Gary

May 26, 2011. Pay day, bills day, whoosh day. But I still have at least one nostril above the water line. Considering where I've been in the past, that's a plus.

NC Art sent an oldie but a goodie: An elderly man in Florida had owned a large farm that had a large pond in the back. It was properly shaped for swimming, so he fixed it up nice with picnic tables, horseshoe courts, and some orange, and lime trees. One evening the old farmer decided to go down to the pond, as he hadn't been there for a while, and look it over. He grabbed a five-gallon bucket to bring back some fruit. As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee. As he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young college girls skinny-dipping in his pond. He made the girls aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end. One of the girls shouted to him, 'We're not coming out until you leave!' The old man frowned, 'I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim naked or make you get out of the pond naked.' Holding the bucket up he said, 'I'm here to feed the alligator.' Some old men can still think fast. 

Even Lindsay laughed at that one.

Well, a bit fresh today but sunny, so it's not too bad. Later, I'll have to do the shopping for Averil and us. Boring, boring, boring. But I suppose it beats the hell outta going out with a club and killing a dinosaur for dinner. Which reminds me, back during early European settlement in Oz, many of the first explorers died of thirst in the outback. The water was there, but it was out of sight. The Aborigines knew how to find water as well as food, and were probably quite puzzled by the Europeans' ignorance. One of the tricks of the desert is to erect an inverted dish during the night that collects dew, which is then funneled into a container. Not quite enough to take a 10-minute shower, but enough to keep you alive. I guess the Aborigines thought, "If the desert is alive with many creatures that all depend on water, there must be water here." So the trick was to find it. Now why didn't the early European explorers think that way?

You can also build a desert oven without the need for fire. Line the inside of a cardboard box with foil, place a foil-wrapped roast inside (chicken, lamb, beef with vegies), and leave in the sun for 3 or 4 hours. Boom boom. Done. Mind you, the early explorers didn't have foil... and cardboard boxes were probably a bit scarce as well.

Anyway, survival, whether it's in the desert or anywhere else, is all about THINKING calmly and analyzing your circumstances.

Oregon Richie wrote: I have not paid as much attention to world news here lately but find the complete horror of things like that Tornado that tore a town apart and killed so many people to be just that... a horror.  I heard about an older teen literally being pulled out of his vehicle through the sunroof by those forces.  It's incredible.  This last decade seems to have been a right-nasty little hiccup in how planet Earths does its moving and shaking routine, endless earthquakes, Tsunami forces, whole countries torn to shreds and populations killed.  Unreal.

And I responded by saying, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he comes down chimneys." (Meaning how do believers explain a God who sends a kilometer-wide and 10-kilometer long tornado through a sleepy town that destroys everything in its path and kills over 100 people?)

Meanwhile, Ohio Jace wrote about the weather there: Tornado sirens blared last night, but all we got was high winds with lots of damage. The high school was hit especially hard with roof damage. Not sure if they are going to cancel the last few days to give the kids an extra week of summer vacation. Trees are down around town and the power was off for a while. It was the same storm system that hit Joplin the day before. (BTW Joplin is under a tornado threat as I type this.) Luckily, for us by the time the storms get here they have weakened considerably. There were three tornadoes in Ohio last night bringing the total to 23. June is normally the worst month for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in Ohio.

Most of the time we get hit by small tornadoes, but in 1974 Xenia was nearly wiped off the map. In that one 34 peeps died with over 1,000 injured. Half the town was destroyed leaving 10,000 peeps homeless. In 1989 they were hit for second time and in 2000 for a third with 1 dead in that storm.

That storm was part of the “Super Outbreak,” which until April 2011 was the largest tornado outbreak on record. A series of 148 tornadoes hit 13 states and killed 330. The deadliest was in 1936 hitting the south and killing 340. The death toll for 2011 is approaching 500 with 6 weeks to go in the peak season.

We were supposed to get hit again today, but the storms fizzled. Tomorrow will be a different story with the southern plains getting hit by tornadoes and severe weather again today with Ohio in the path of that storm too.

Ya know, I can't help getting the feeling that the Earth wasn't ready yet, and we moved in too early. Meanwhile, the Ohio gang members keep having more babies. There's another one due in a few weeks. Hehe. TV is pretty boring over there. It's good of Jace to keep me informed of what's going on in his neck of the woods. They're all doing fine despite the weather.

Beeb time: World leaders are set to gather in the French resort of Deauville for a summit of the G8 bloc of wealthy nations. A shift in global influence to emerging powers such as India and China who are not in the G8 has led to the group's relevance being questioned. But analysts say recent events such as uprisings in the Arab world and Japan's nuclear crisis have given the group a new sense of purpose. Also on the agenda is how little or how much the internet should be regulated. Regulated? By whom? The Thought Police? The US military has announced the withdrawal of a number of its troops from Pakistan. The Pentagon said it had received a request from the Pakistani government to reduce its presence in the country. The request would appear to be a sign of Pakistan's discontent at the manner in which the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad was conducted without Islamabad's knowledge. Oops! Some of the biggest and best-known financial institutions in the world held billions of dollars of Libyan state funds, a leaked report has revealed. Principal among them were HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Nomura and Societe General, Global Witness said. The banks refused to say whether they held, or are still holding, the funds. All the assets have now been frozen by the European Union and United Nations. Be careful where you stash your money, folks. The man accused of a deadly shooting rampage that injured a US congresswoman is found mentally incompetent to stand trial, after a court outburst. But not mentally incompetent enough to buy a firearm. Veteran talk show host Oprah Winfrey's final programme broadcast on Wednesday after 25 years on the air. The 57-year-old, widely regarded as one of the world's most influential women, pre-recorded the show on Tuesday. The Oprah Winfrey Show, which is syndicated in 145 countries, redefined the talk show genre and made Winfrey one of the most influential women in the US as well as the wealthiest black woman in the world. I was not a fan or watcher, but certainly a lot of people were. The Swiss government has decided to phase out nuclear power, amid growing public hostility to the industry. The government announced it would not replace the country's five ageing plants after they reached the end of their lifetimes between 2019 and 2034. So what's next? Palestinian officials have dismissed Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress, saying it will not lead to peace. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said the speech merely added obstacles on the road to peace. You're not wrong, Narelle. But what's the Palestinian solution? A New Zealand truck driver who fell on a compressed air hose that pierced his buttock has survived being blown up like a balloon. Steven McCormack had fallen between the cab and the trailer of his truck, breaking the air hose. The nozzle pierced his buttock and began pumping air into his body, which expanded dramatically. As he screamed, Mr McCormack's colleagues turned the air off and laid him on his side, saving his life. Jesus Christ! The bizarre things that happen to people!

Oregon Richie sent this interesting Huffington Post r-tickle about Obama's visit to England and his speech in parliament.

Well, shopping's done, thank god. I don't enjoy shopping at all, and Averil's takes forever cos she gets things from aisles I've never heard of. It takes forever to find the damn stuff. However, I did tell her Art's alligator joke and she thought it was hilarious. Then we chatted about turtles and tortoises, and she'd always thought they were the same thing, except tortoises were smaller. There was a time just a few years ago that Averil would have gotten pissed off for being corrected but she's over that now. She used to think I was a smartass, but now she thinks I'm an informative smartass.

Anyway, the supermarket had pineapples on spesh for just $1.50 each, and I LOVE fresh pineapple!

Speaking of food, it's almost time to don the chef hat and do the nightly ritual: bacon, eggs and chips. Boom boom. Gary

May 25, 2011. NC Art wrote: What has driven philosophers and brainy researchers bonkers is the futility of putting people in nice tidy boxes. The fractious human buzzards just won't fit comfortably in any structure devised. Masters and Johnson became intrigued with sexual behaviors and found astonishing variety. This set the western world in a tizzy because good folks just couldn't accept that their righteous concepts were bunk. But the authors' case studies proved that people are quite capable of "outrageous" acts, then go right on teaching Sunday School. 

And yet we have a North Carolina member of the state legislature who is trying to pass a law to ensure "correct morals" are spelled out and enforced by the majesty of the law. Fat fucking chance of enforcing such damfoolery. Bro, we've come a long way from the aboriginals who met over a disputed kill and said, "If you will not kill me I will not kill you". Even then the devil was in the details, which we still don't quite grasp. Perhaps it is ordained that we keep on searching for the unfindable and dreaming the impossible dream?

Obso-bloody-lutely. It wasn't all that long ago that traveling to the moon was an impossible dream. Nothing is perfect in this world but that doesn't stop us searching for perfection. If Heaven is perfection, then I imagine it must be insufferably boring, which is precisely the reason we must never find what we're looking for. Hehe.

As to human beings being capable of an "astonishing variety of sexual behaviors" why wouldn't they be? Human beings have a thing called imagination. If you can imagine it, you can do it. Don't be fooled by the average facade. It hides many secrets. Or attempts to.

I hear thunder! How odd. It's late autumn and quite chilly as well as windy and wet, so why a thunderstorm? Fortunately for us in Taree, thunderstorms usually pass overhead on their way to the coast, and don't last long.

Beeb time: Thousands of passengers in Scotland and parts of northern England struggle with flight cancellations as ash from an Icelandic volcanic eruption blows in. And there's Averil who's 77 and never been in a plane. Both my parents had never been in one either. US President Barack Obama has hailed his country's "special relationship" with the UK in a speech delivered at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace. He thanked the UK for its solidarity since 9/11 and in tackling the security threats that have followed. The 170 or so guests dined on new season lamb, roast potatoes and a vanilla charlotte, accompanied by vintage champagne. Hehe, can't have a pow wow without din dins. Actually, I saw a program the other night about Obama in Ireland and apparently he has Irish ancestry. He even ordered a pint of Guinness at a pub. Egypt's ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons are to be tried over the killing of anti-government protesters, judicial officials say. The party's over, baby. Pakistan has returned the wreckage of a US helicopter destroyed during the raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, the Pentagon has said. A spokesman said the remains of the aircraft were back on US soil having been returned "over the weekend". It is believed the helicopter was a UH-60 Blackhawk, heavily modified to make it quieter and less visible to radar. After developing problems, the helicopter - one of up to four used during the 2 May raid - was blown up. The team of Navy Seals did not want sensitive technology falling into enemy hands. No, especially the technology that caused the problems. How embarrassing. The evangelical broadcaster who left followers crestfallen by his failed prediction that last Saturday would be Judgement Day says he miscalculated. Harold Camping said it had "dawned" on him that God would spare humanity "hell on Earth for five months" and the apocalypse would happen on 21 October. Mr Camping said he felt "terrible" about his mistake. And now we await his excuse when nothing happens on October 21. What a bloody drongo. US car giant Chrysler has repaid $7.6bn (£4.7bn) in US and Canadian government loans that helped it stay afloat in 2009, six years ahead of schedule. The repayments include $5.9bn to the US and $1.7bn to Canada. Excellent news

NC Art sent this pic. All I can say is that if you're still in love at this stage of life, it ain't about lust. How sweet.

BTW, I meant to mention the wheelie bins in this pic yesterday. Look how far they have to wheel them from the farm house to the fence for collection! We only have to wheel ours a few yards. On the Odyssey, of course, I won't have to wheel anything.

I've been meaning to phone Centerlink and ask about rental assistance. I currently get $60 a fortnight to subsidise my share of the rent on this house, which helps a lot. But what about when I'm sailing around Oz? Well, what I do is keep all receipts as I travel around. Some places like national parks or whatever will be free or just a few bucks, but others might be more expensive depending on facilities and length of stay. So before I go, I ask Centerlink to print off a bunch of claim forms, and then I fill in a form each time I stay at a particular camping area. Once a month or so, armed with a bunch of forms and receipts, I go to a Centerlink office and present them and get paid retrospectively. Sounds cool to me. When you're on a pension, every buck counts.

My mate Terry on Red Bubble, who recently had a couple of his images published in Oz travel mags, took this pic of an old gold-rush era country town, which I think is fabulous. That's the kinda thing I look forward to seeing on the Odyssey. Big cities are cool, no doubt about that, but little old country towns have a certain intimate charm that big cities don't and probably can't have.

Just got an email from a Kiwi, Dion: I have just read the ‘Green Room’ and I’m half way through ‘Green Room II’. I have found both books to be incredibly inspiring and have helped me a lot. I’m a 20 year old male living in NZ and I have taken a lot from these books in regards to my own life. I am however straight but I do not discriminate and find these boys life fascinating. I feel the sexual side of the stories was a little to much for me and possibly other readers but the friendships and lifestyle were what interested me.  So thanks for two great books, and all the best with your trip.

It's very gratifying to receive responses such as Dion's. I don't get all that many but when I do I am most appreciative. As to the sexual aspect of the lives of the main characters, well, that's the way it was so I can't do much about that. In any case, human relationships no matter what the sexual orientation of the participants all have the basics in common. Love is love.

Take something NC Art wrote the other day for example: One young (gay) friend (of mine) was an accomplished sketch artist, photographer, gourmet cook and the sweetest tempered individual I ever knew. Died of AIDS at 35 one morning early after I had put him to bed the night before. It still hurts me. I had done his business printing for years and knew him when he wasn't yet a grommet. My wife loved him just as much.

My wife loved him just as much. Get it?

The whole point of writing Green Room was to share the lives of my friends and to inspire other people. As SF Jim used to say, I speak in parables. But in the case of Green Room and Green Room II, the parables are real.

Okies, getting time for me to think about feeding the troops again. I shoulda been a cook. Gary

May 24, 2011. In about an hour from now, I'll make my way out to Bootawa dam, arriving early so I can take a few extra pics before the official tour. AND LUNCH! Probably sandwiches, but that's okay. Can't complain if it's free. And when I get back home, I'll know all about what comes out of our taps.

Actually, I had a nightmare last night about taking photographs at a gathering of people. Can't remember what the gathering was all about but I do remember having all kinds of problems trying to frame people before pressing the shutter button. They kept moving or ducking or doing something unexpected and I had a devil of time trying to focus and compose. I'm a worry wart, that's what it is. Every time I dream of being on air, everything goes wrong... the mic won't work, the switches are broken, somebody stole all the records and I have to ad lib my way out of a mess, or I can't get the pickup arm to sit on the record because it's got a crack in it... or the recurring scenario of my running out of breath and hardly being able to speak. Worry wart me.

NC Art wrote and warned me about eating fried food. It clogs the arteries. I remember how my mother used to keep dripping (fat from the cooking of meat) in a baked enamel tray. She would use it again for frying stuff. Back in the Depression Days, kids were given bread and dripping with salt and pepper because they couldn't afford butter. But dripping was animal fat. I use canola oil for all my deep frying, which is supposed to be low cholesterol. But I do use butter for shallow frying, and sometimes olive oil or a mix of the two. The oil stops the butter from burning.

Art also bitches about "Made in China" having decimated America's lunch of consumer goods. It's the same in Oz. Almost everything is made in China. But if consumers keep buying it, who is to blame?

Okies, back from Bootawa Dam. Not the most exciting Odyssey but worth a look.

Beeb time: Nato planes have launched a series of air attacks on Libya's capital Tripoli, with correspondents saying they may be the largest so far of the campaign. Some of the strikes appear to have targeted Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound. They came after France announced it and the UK would also deploy attack helicopters to escalate strike power. Nato is enforcing a UN resolution to protect civilians, following the uprising against Col Gaddafi's rule. I'm really surprised this has gone on for so long. I thought it would be all over in a week or two. Anyway, Gaddafi and his supporters are fighting a losing battle no matter how long it takes. They can't be too bright if they can't see it. The US-UK partnership is "an essential relationship for us and for the world", the countries' leaders have said ahead of the US president's visit to Britain. Barack Obama is to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace later at the start of his packed, three-day state visit. He will meet Prime Minister David Cameron for talks on Wednesday likely to focus on Libya and the Middle East. What war of independence? Officials in Missouri say at least 116 people are now confirmed dead after a tornado hit the city of Joplin on Sunday, crushing cars and flattening homes. Scary stuff, and all the more scary because there's nothing we can do about Nature's fury. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu again rejects a return to the "indefensible" 1967 borders, on the eve of addressing the US Congress. To me, that's like saying there's no solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, so therefore let's keep fighting.

NC Art sent this Viagra graphic: I'm sure that you have seen pharmaceutical advertising in  doctor's offices on everything from tissues to note pads. This one should get First prize....  His Chinese doctor friend said, "If power stay on more than 4 hour, phone erectrician."

I was gonna shop for something for dinner tonight but Lindsay suggested scrambled eggs and chips. Sooooo... okay, that's easy enough. Gary

May 23, 2011. Charging the Sony camera for tomorrow's photo shoot at Bootawa dam. But it's raining today. Will it be raining tomorrow? No... not according to the forecast. Tomorrow should be fine and reasonably warm. How nice.

I don't use the Sony all that often because it's only 5MP max. But it's got a wicked lens, and 5MP ain't too shabby either. It was a $2000 camera in its day, so there ya go. I bought it on eBay for $400 about 4 years ago.

Do you have potato scallops "over there"? They're sliced rounds of potato dipped in batter and deep fried. Yum! They've been around forever in Oz. Anyway, the frozen version last night wasn't bad... oven fried. Not quite as good as the traditional fish 'n' chip shop variety - or in fact the ones I make myself - but pretty good.

Back when I had my house in Glebe, there was a fish 'n' chip shop just up the road at Forest Lodge, less than a 5-minute walk away. It was called Frying Times, and was run by a group of young blokes who banded together as a co-op. It was one of those old fashioned, narrow shops with booths along one side. At the back was a tiny stage with just enough room for a couple of jazz musicians. The joint was always packed. But their piece de resistance was potato scallops. Mind you, all their food was fabulous, but the potato scallops were exceptional. I discovered that they used a special process where they dried the potato slices and "cured" them for a day or two before dipping the slices in batter and then deep frying them. Awesome!

Frying Times wasn't licensed but there was a pub across the road where we could buy a couple of bottles of something interesting and take them to the restaurant. I was besotted by one of the young blokes working there who used to fuss over me, and who enjoyed the fact that I turned crimson every time he gave me special attention. Hehe. He knew I was harmless, and also knew that I dragged all my friends to savor the delights of Frying Times. Yes, they were also very good times.

Beeb time: Gunmen have attacked a military base in the Pakistani city of Karachi, killing at least 11 soldiers, officials say. The well-armed attackers set off explosives and have been fighting gunbattles with navy personnel at the Mehran naval aviation base. The gunmen are now holding hostages, including Chinese military personnel. No group has claimed the raid, but the Pakistani Taliban have vowed to avenge the killing of Osama Bin Laden by US special forces on 2 May. They have carried out several attacks since then. I remember just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor some Japanese bloke saying, "We have woken a sleeping giant." Maybe the Taliban has done the same thing by capturing Chinese military personnel. In any case, I can't help wondering if the war on terrorism is serious enough. Why aren't the bastards dead and buried yet? Iceland has closed its main international airport and cancelled domestic flights after its most active volcano, Grimsvotn, began erupting. A plume of smoke has risen 20km (12 miles) into the sky from the volcano. But Iceland's Meteorological Office says the eruption should not cause widespread disruption to air traffic. Let's hope they're right. US President Barack Obama has sought to calm tensions with Israel over comments that the border of a future Palestinian state should follow pre-1967 lines. Speaking to the US pro-Israel lobby Aipac, Mr Obama said the shape of the border should be subject to discussions between Israel and the Palestinians. He reiterated his view it must be based on the boundary which existed before the 1967 war but involve land swaps. Israel has ruled out returning to the 1967 lines, sought by the Palestinians. I remember the 1967 war, but I don't remember any headlines about conflict between Israel and Palestine before that. So what does that say? Researchers have set a new record for the rate of data transfer using a single laser: 26 terabits per second. At those speeds, the entire Library of Congress collections could be sent down an optical fibre in 10 seconds. How do you spell amazing? The US President Barack Obama has spoken exclusively to the BBC's Andrew Marr ahead of his visit to the UK and Ireland. The president spoke about the raid in Pakistan which led to the death of Osama Bin Laden, and Afghanistan's future. An interview definitely worth watching. Followers of an evangelical broadcaster who declared that Saturday would be Judgement Day are trying to make sense of the failed prediction. Some believers expressed bewilderment or said it was a test from God of their faith, after the day passed without event. Meanwhile, the evangelist at the centre of the claim, Harold Camping, has not been seen since before the deadline. He had predicted that Jesus Christ would return to earth on Saturday. True believers would then be swept up, or "raptured", to heaven, he had pronounced. How can you make sense of something that doesn't make sense? In any case, there's no way those believers will admit to being dickheads.

Just got an update about Frying Times from Jeremy, my ex-neighbor in Glebe. The fish 'n' chip shop is still there but it's run by a Chinese couple, and has been for a number of years. Jeremy says he used to work with a guy who worked part-time at Frying Times while he was attending university years ago. The guy is now the owner of a chain of cinemas! Sheesh. Meanwhile, Jeremy's next door neighbor just sold his house for $965k at auction. Pardon me a moment while I weep uncontrollably.

And I just received an email from Steve, who remembers me from my old radio days: Just found out that a new radio station has recently started up in Sydney, based in Parramatta – 2GW – servicing Sydney’s “Greater West” (as opposed to the Lesser West). They are looking for announcers and given that Lawsey has made a come-back at the age of 75, you are still a youngster! It is run by Ian MacRae (yes that one from 2SM) who also does breakfast. Work there for 12 months and it could solve your money issues! Anyway, have a look at their website. Maybe you could be the new Hon Nick Jones!

Well, that's very thoughtful of you, Steve, and I'm touched. I really do appreciate your thinking of me and letting me know. But I'm afraid I don't have the confidence any more... been outta touch for waaaay too long. But I do remember Ian MacRae. He started out in Pirate Radio back in the '60s when commercial radio was banned in England. They set up radio stations on board ships at sea in the English Channel and broadcast from there, out of reach  of British bureaucrats. They were probably largely responsible for the success of British bands such as the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, and their broadcasts reached most of Western Europe as well. I met MacRae when he visited Gosford back in 1971. He was breakfast announcer at 2SM in Sydney at the time, and he used to say things like "how's your left elbow?" I stole his line and turned it into "how's your boiled egg?" Like many announcers at the time, he was a big fan of the Goons and Spike Milligan.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy doing what I do these days, writing. I can take my time and think about what I do before I do it. And I don't have a boss breathing down my neck. AND, I can have a little sip or two while I'm doing it. Yes, I'm broke but I manage... kinda. And one of these days I might write another book... a sort of precis of my travels on the Odyssey... a condensed Reader's Digest version highlighting all the yummy bits (and perhaps even a few naughty bits).

The thing about radio is you need to be constantly hyped, fulla beans, energetic, quick witted, on the ball, go go go. As my boss at 2GO once said, when you finish a 4-hour shift, you should be totally buggered. But when you write, you can go to the loo between paragraphs, you can have a sip of dry white, you can stare at the wall for 10 minutes while you're contemplating something, you can relax. You can do the shopping. Or have lunch. Or chat on the phone. And if you make a boo-boo, you can edit it. Writing is very civilized. Very, VERY civilized.

But again, Steve, I'm chuffed that you thought of me. Thank you very much.

Well, that's it for Mondee. Lamb chops and spuds for THEM and something or other for me... I haven't figured it out yet. Actually, I saw a bunch of crocodiles munching away on an expired hippopotamus last night on one of those nature programs. Not a good look. I dunno why I watch those shows. They can be sooooo gross! Gary

May 22, 2011. Sundee. NC Art forwarded an article about the predicted End of the World the other day. I couldn't figure out how to copy it here, so I forwarded it to Justin's blog and he managed to make it happen complete with pitchas.

Art also wrote: We fix a meal cos it takes some doins. Thanksgiving dinner is a roast turkey with all the fixins. Say that and save energy listing dressing, gravy, candied yams, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pickles, corn bread, et al. Economical, what? "I'm fixing to go downtown. Want ennythang?" That's Southern mountain folk talk. Bro, Gullah or Geechee dialect from the southeastern sea islands would leave your head reeling. Even an old Charleston brogue is marvelous to hear! "Arm going ootside to get the pepper. Then arl fix beckon and aigs with salt an paiper. You wan won, tuh or shree?"

Hehe. That's funny stuff.

Brit wit? It's a howl even when unintended: Two English gentlemen met at a country house after years of separation. Percy says, "Hello Reggie, old chap. And how's her ladyship?" "Ah Percy, buried her last week." "Buried the old girl, eh?" "Afraid so, dead you know." Perfectly normal conversation, but Americans find it hilarious.

So do Aussies. It's no wonder the Brits produce some of the world's greatest comedians ... they don't even have to work at it.

Then there's American humor which does not translate: An overworked fellow trudged home from the office and picked up a pint of Scotch from the store on his block. Weather was cold and nasty and he was bundled in an overcoat. Arriving in his kitchen, he shrugged out of his coat, dropped his whiskey and it broke. He cursed his way out to replace his cheer and a mouse crept out of hiding, stuck a paw in the liquid, tasted and retired. Out he came again for another taste, and another. After several such forays, he reared up on hind legs and shouted, "NOW bring on your damned cats!"

A Brit overheard this story at a party and noted the round of laughter, but didn't quite understand. Anyway he decided to try that story on some friends, but it fell flat. He got the tale told fairly well until the end. There was no mirth when he said, "Whereupon the little mouse stood up and said, "I say, is there a cat about'?"

Vive la difference!

Yes, Art... couldn't agree more. Vive la difference!

As to Aussie humor, it's not easy to explain. It tends to be pretty dry and understated. Here's Steady Eddy, an Aussie comedian with cerebral palsy, just back from a gig in America in 1995. Actually, I can imagine Steady Eddy saying to himself before he became a professional stand-up, "Hell, if they're gonna laugh at me, I might as well get paid for it."

And what do the Pommy tourists think of Aussie humor? Click here to find out.

I just remembered my first ride on the big dipper at Luna Park in Sydney. Against my better judgement, I sat in one of the cars and put on my seat belt thinking "what the hell am I doing?" After whatever minutes of being hurled all over the place and having the crap scared outta me by some ridiculous G force, and hearing the shrill screams of people around me, I finally rolled to a halt back at the start. The ticket seller arrived to open the car door and I said, "Can I go around again?" Hehe. That's how I'm hoping it will be on the Odyssey.

Beeb time: Iceland's most active volcano has started erupting, although scientists say it is unlikely to cause the kind of ash clouds which disrupted air travel in 2010. Amazing innit... all that hot bubbling stuff just below the surface even in Arctic regions. One of Australia's favourite actors, Bill Hunter, has died of cancer, aged 71, in Melbourne. He was known for his roles in classic Australian films like Muriel's Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Strictly Ballroom. He played an Australian officer in the World War I film Gallipoli. His career spanned more than 50 years, and he has been called Australia's favourite "ocker", because he often played an archetypal Australian bloke. Oh dear... now there was an Aussie who was as Aussie as Aussie gets. He was one of those actors who was never out of work. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected US President Barack Obama's call for peace with the Palestinians based on pre-1967 borders. After tense talks at the White House, a defiant Mr Netanyahu said Israel was prepared to compromise but there could be no peace "based on illusions". The BBC's Paul Adams in Washington says that while notion of a peace agreement based on 1967 lines is not news, Mr Obama has clearly angered Mr Netanyahu by formally adopting it. Mr Netanyahu has come under increasing pressure as world figures and organisations, including American's partners in the Middle East Peace Quartet, EU, UN and Russia - lined up to back Mr Obama's position. Arab League chief, Amr Moussa, also called on President Obama to remain committed to the plan. I can't shake the feeling that Israel is losing world support for its stance

Last night, I watched Who Do You Think You Are?, a show about tracing ancestry. Jerry Springer - London-born talk show host Jerry Springer’s attempts to retrace the steps of his grandmothers who were both victims of the Holocaust. In a painful and moving investigation, Nazi documents reveal their fate in shocking detail. Jerry traces their journey, first to the ghettos and then to the death camps.

I'm not a fan of Springer, but I was deeply moved by his emotional reaction to the fate of his relatives at the hands of Nazi butchers. And not only the Nazis, but ordinary German citizens who gave tacit approval to the Nazi extermination machine. Lest we forget. And we should NEVER forget. There are still people who believe that certain races should be eliminated, and who would support any organized attempt to make it happen. It must never happen again. Never, never, never.

Even though I've seen that kind of archival footage several times over the years - images of Jews and others, stripped of all human dignity, being herded onto cattle trucks and delivered by rail to Nazi death camps - I still find it extremely difficult to comprehend such unspeakable atrocity. There was one scene showing a handwritten report of a victim's possessions - underwear, an umbrella, a purse, shoes, various items of clothing, etc - all listed for sale to raise funds for the Nazi cause.

And what bothers me equally - if not more so - is that one man alone, Hitler, could not have done it all by himself.

I think we need something a bit more uplifting after that lot. You like Latin music? Check this out.

And yes, dear Breth, it's THAT time again. Chicken rissoles and battered potato scallops. That should keep the tummies happy. Gary

May 21, 2011. Nudja Satdee. That's Australian for "Good morning and welcome to another Saturday." I've heard that boomerangs were not exclusively an Australian invention but it was the Australian Aborigines who perfected it. The lazy buggers couldn't be bothered chasing them.

NC Art wrote: If 50-70F seems chilly to you, maybe you should dress in more than a towel for morning activities. But a bracing chill sure can motivate you to hustle about.

Very true. Actually, how true is very true? Is it more true than true? I mean, you can have partly true but I'm not sure about very true. Anyway, yes, a bracing chill can motivate you to hustle about. Alternatively, it can motivate you to stay in bed. 50-70F is not chilly, I agree... a tad brisk in the morning but yesterday the day was gorgeous, and we can look forward to the same again today. However, it's not quite winter yet. June is our official start to winter but it doesn't get too cold until July. August is the worst month because of the traditional August winds which add significantly to the chill factor. Generally, the mid north coast gets about 10 months of good weather a year, with the possible exception of peak summer when the humidity kicks in. That doesn't worry the beach goers, though. So you can understand why there are no snow ploughs in Taree. Hehe.

Art also tells a funny story about his experience at Niagara Falls: During a vest to Niagara Falls some years ago, there was a group of Canadians who had dropped to the Lower Forty-eight for golfing and beering. They had a good late party followed by an early start (with beer) before dawn.  I know this because of some (noisily) occupied rooms on my floor. At 4 a.m the fire alarm sounded followed by orders to evacuate the hotel. My wife and I threw coats over sleeping garb and hit the street. The Canadians were already out front, beers in hand but little in the way of clothing.  Undershorts of several varieties, bare feet or golf shoes seemed appropriate to watch a hotel burn down I suppose. Fortunately it was a false alarm, but those blokes seemed disappointed.

Meanwhile, congratulations to Justin who has graduated with a degree and is now officially Master of Science in Psychology - MS.Psych. Not bad for a kid of 22. Now all he's gotta do is concentrate on his spelling. :-P

I've often wondered why Americans use the word 'elevator' to describe one of those things that goes up and down from floor to floor in multi-storey buildings. We call them lifts. Now, you can take something from a shelf and lift it up or lift it down. Even if you lower it, you're still lifting it. But to elevate means to raise. So what happens when you wanna go from the top floor to the ground? Is the elevator still an elevator or something else? I looked up de-elevate but it doesn't seem to be listed or in common usage.

The other thing about Americans is that they fix meals. They fix breakfast, fix lunch and fix supper. How can you fix something that ain't broke yet?

Just thought I'd check Youchewb to see what's what and found this... one of the funniest vids I've seen.

And if you've forgotten what the weather was like in 1966, here's the forecast from a bloke who pronounces Oregon Oree-gone. Hehe.

And now, ladies and genitals, the difference between American and British humor. BTW, Spike Milligan was an Aussie, not British, but he mostly lived and worked in England, and also served with distinction in the British army during WWII.

Beeb time: US President Barack Obama and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu have admitted to "differences" on the path to Mid-East peace, after they met in Washington. The talks came after Mr Obama said in a key speech that any future Palestinian state must be based on the borders that existed prior to the 1967 war. Mr Netanyahu also admitted that "we may have differences here and there" on the peace process. He said: "While Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines because these lines are indefensible. They do not take into account certain demographic changes on the ground that have taken place over the last 44 years." But Mr Netanyahu insisted he valued Mr Obama's efforts, saying: "Israel wants peace, I want peace." Yes, everybody wants peace, but peace means compromise, and whilever compromise remains elusive, peace will never be realized. The former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Strauss-Khan is released from a New York City jail after posting $1m (£618,000) cash bail. The bigger they are... Three Somali men plead guilty in a US court to piracy charges for their role in a hijacking that ended in the deaths of four Americans. Thilly bois... blinded by the promise of easy money. Another teammate of champion cyclist Lance Armstrong joins those alleging he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. Goodbye career. US atheists are to hold parties in response to an evangelical broadcaster's prediction that Saturday will be "judgement day". The Rapture After Party in North Carolina - "the best damned party in NC" - is among the planned events. Harold Camping, 89, predicts that Jesus Christ will return to earth on Saturday and true believers will be swept up, or "raptured", to heaven. He has used broadcasts and billboards to publicise his ideas. He says biblical texts indicate that a giant earthquake on Saturday will mark the start of the world's destruction, and that by 21 October all non-believers will be dead. What I don't understand is why on earth any god would create a bunch of non-believers in order to punish them. Why create them in the first place? An Amazonian tribe has no abstract concept of time, say researchers. The Amondawa lacks the linguistic structures that relate time and space - as in our idea of, for example, "working through the night". The study, in Language and Cognition, shows that while the Amondawa recognise events occuring in time, it does not exist as a separate concept. "Amondawa people, like any other people, can talk about events and sequences of events," he told BBC News. "What we don't find is a notion of time as being independent of the events which are occuring; they don't have a notion of time which is something the events occur in." The Amondawa language has no word for "time", or indeed of time periods such as "month" or "year". The people do not refer to their ages, but rather assume different names in different stages of their lives or as they achieve different status within the community. How interesting. Read the full article here

Will I or won't I? That is the question. So it's taken me over a month to pluck up the courage to get rid of the carpet in Das Busse. At least, the back half in the kitchen area. And now it's all rolled up and in the wheelie bin. The original linoleum is in pretty good nick. I gave it a sweep and it looks much better. It's much easier to keep linoleum clean than carpet, especially when camping. Carpet stains and gets tatty, and you can't sweep it or wash it.

In the front half - the "living" area - the carpet's kinda screwed down in places so I'll have to get a bit more aggro with that - maybe with the aid of a Stanley knife and a bit of brute strength. It also hides wires running along the floor from a pair of speakers in the back that are not connected to anything. Also, the back end of the speakers (Jensen coaxial) take up room inside the cupboards so they've gotta go. I'll leave the speaker grills attached to the holes in the timber cupboards to cover them but the speakers will get the flick. I've got a pretty good portable Sony stereo (radio/cassette/CD) so I don't need anything else... and I don't intend to make a bloody racket to annoy neighbors when I'm camped somewhere.

What really worries me about doing up Das Busse is spending so much money. $3,500 so far (plus hiring a car to get to Tamworth and $250 on a power steering kit). $6000 on body work. Maybe a couple of grand on mechanicals, and another whatever on an awning and solar panels and then a bit more on fixing the upholstery. Admittedly, she'll be a pretty smart campervan after spending maybe $15,000 for sure (less whatever I get for selling Bluey), but she'll still be a 1984 model. The thing is, once I spend the 6 grand on bodywork, I'm committed. There'll be no turning back. It'll be the whole nine yards. Scary, huh? But I'm not sure what the alternative is. Do I do a Nike and "just do it"? Or chicken out? And if I chicken out, what then?

My gut instinct tells me that the scales are tipped in favor of doing a Nike. But I'm still nervous about it. If it doesn't work out, I'm stuffed. I've got a feeling this is the bravest thing I've ever done. I also have a feeling I have no choice in the matter.

I should also mention that I'm not soliciting opinions. This is a situation I have to resolve myself. I'm just thinking aloud... trying to work out what the options are and arriving at some sort of conclusion.

There is also another matter in which I have no choice... that regarding cooking tonight's dinner. Chicken rissoles, lamb chops or fish cakes? Lindsay says fish cakes. No wukkers. I don't care much one way or the other. Oh, and the pillows I bought yesterday for Averil? She doesn't like them. So now it's not just a matter of taking one back for a refund, it's a matter of taking them BOTH back for a refund. Sheesh. Gary

May 20, 2011. For you guys "over there", it's coming into summer. For us, it's coming into winter. Bleh. I don't think it will bother Francois in New Caledonia though... he's up in the sub tropics where winter temps are quite mild, and even quite warm. That's where I intend to be during Aussie winters. Back in the early 90s, during my time in Canberra, my bedroom was my VW Kombi. I remember waking one morning with a frozen nose. It was minus 8C. NEVER AGAIN!

Even in Kempsey, not far north of Taree, where I worked as breakfast announcer for ABC radio back in the mid 70s, winter mornings were quite cold. I used to ride my bicycle to work at 4:30am and by the time I arrived at the station, it took about 15 minutes before I could get my fingers to work. Serves me right for not wearing gloves, I suppose.

Anyway, if your house has wheels, I don't see the point of being somewhere cold when it's nice and cosy somewhere else. Let's check today's weather in Cairns - min 20C, max 28C, sunny (70-83F). And Noumea? - min 18C, max 26C, sunny with showers. And Taree? - min 10C, max 20C, sunny (50-70F). And what about Canberra? - min 5C, max 15C, cloudy.

I often hear stories from people like Oregon Richie and Ohio Jace about shoveling snow from driveways, icicles on the eaves, slippery roads, special winter tires and all that stuff. That's all totally foreign to me. Hehe. And I hope it stays that way!

I just read another blog on Aussie travel. A mice plague in Streaky Bay, South Oz. Pretty cool if you happen to be a python or a kookaburra. But the blogger talks about going further south to Port Lincoln (which I've been to) and described it as very beautiful... good enough to stay for 3 or 4 days. Yes, I enjoyed my stay at Port Lincoln back in '89. But that same blogger also told the story of crossing the Nullarbor and meeting a bunch of golfers who decided one night at their local pub to load up the station wagon with grog and cross the Nullarbor while playing golf along the way. Not too many greens out there mate! But they were having fun, and as the blogger said, As I have said before, it is the people you meet that really make our trip memorable. Also about the decorated trees across the Nullarbor. You can find anything you want there. There is a tree dedicated to BRAS only, one with Men’s Undies and many that specialise in only shoes. It is so much fun.

But it seems most travelers who blog their adventures stay at caravan parks. I can't find any bloggers who rough it in national parks or cheap camping areas, which is what I'll be doing. No five star accom for this kid. BUT... that may make my blog more interesting. Hehe. I do believe that the people you meet is what makes any given trip more interesting... sitting around a campfire, swapping stories, etc. There's only so much you can do with photographs of scenery if you're telling a story.

Beeb time: Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been granted bail by a judge in a New York court, after being formally charged with trying to rape a hotel maid. Mr Strauss-Kahn had earlier resigned as the International Monetary Fund's boss. His lawyers said he was honourable and would not try to abscond. Prosecutors said he had "incentive to flee". Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus imposed $1m cash bail and said there must be 24-hour home detention, with an armed guard and electronic monitoring. The judge said one armed guard must be deployed at all times, at Mr Strauss-Kahn's expense, and the defendant must surrender all travel documents. In addition to the $1m (£618,000) cash bail, a $5m insurance bond would also apply. "It's not that we don't trust you, Dominique, it's just that we want to be sure." US President Barack Obama says the US has opened a "new chapter" in diplomacy after the Arab Spring uprisings. In a speech at the state department, Mr Obama said the future of the US was bound to the Middle East by forces of economics, security, history and fate. "It will be the policy of the US to promote reform, and to support transitions to democracy," he said. What I would like to know is if the majority of people living in autocracies actually want democracy. A former teammate of cyclist Lance Armstrong has said the seven-time Tour de France winner used the performance-enhancing drug EPO. Tyler Hamilton rode with Armstrong in the US Postal team, and says both men used EPO during the 1999 Tour. "I saw [EPO] in his refrigerator. ... I saw him inject it more than one time," Hamilton told the CBS programme 60 Minutes, "like we all did. Like I did, many, many times." If true, it's very sad. Winning and cheating don't mix. A US man paralysed from the chest down after being hit by a car is now able to stand with electrical stimulation of his spinal cord. I admire people who work on this kind of research. Most of us don't even think about it, and take our health for granted. At least 35 construction workers have been shot dead and 20 injured by Taliban insurgents in eastern Afghanistan, an official says. The Taliban recently declared the start of a "spring offensive" of attacks. Orders from Allah, yes? That makes it okay. One of the biggest insurance companies in the world held a party for salesmen where they were rewarded with the services of prostitutes. Munich Re is the world's biggest re-insurer - in other words, the company acts as an insurance company for other insurance companies. The gathering was held at a thermal baths in the Hungarian capital Budapest as a reward to particularly successful salesmen. And here's silly me believing that insurance salesmen are the world's most honest and decent people with impeccable scruples. 

Back from shopping. How dreary. And paying Averil's rent, and getting her a couple of pillows. "Why did you get two?" "I thought you wanted two. I use two." "No, I only wanted one!" See what I mean? Now I've gotta take one back and go through all that refund rigmarole. Why me? After a bit of a chat, and as I was about to leave, Averil said, "It's a good thing you weren't married to me." I couldn't agree more.

Actually, when I suggested she get a new boyfriend so she could keep both pillows, she said, "I couldn't think of anything worse." Hehe.

So here we go again... T-bones for THEM and pizza for me. When they have T-bones, chops or whatever, I pig out on junk. They don't like spicy stuff. Otherwise, it's been a pretty ordinary day. I did spot an old Jaguar when I drove uptown. Not sure if it was pre-war or post-war but it looked something like this. Anyway, I was turning left at an intersection and didn't get an opportunity to photograph it. By the time I'd parked, it had gone. Gary

May 19, 2011. Imagine if it took only 25 minutes to get to Dallas from Oz. TX Greg reckons it does. He says the new Qantas direct non-stop flight takes 15 hours and 25 minutes, and since we're 15 hours ahead, the flight would arrive 25 minutes after take off. And he's not even Irish.

I just Googled travel blogs to get an idea of what other people experience on their travels. The first one I read told the story of a motorhome trip. The group was returning home when a tire blew and sent the vehicle to the wrong side of the New England Highway - fortunately when no traffic was coming the opposite way. They were lucky because there was a gully on the correct side of the road. Anyway, there they were parked on the wrong side of the road, facing oncoming traffic, with no room to put a jack under the axle, so they called Roadside Assistance. It took three hours for a big tow truck to arrive, during which time they had lunch in the motorhome, constantly buffeted by oncoming semi trailers and B-doubles just a few meters away.

By the time they reached Glen Innes it was too late to get the tire repaired, so they spent the night parked in the tow-truck depot. Next morning, the 'towie' arrived and, as he dragged the van out of the yard, managed to rip off the plumbing at the back, which sent gray water spewing up the streets of town. After running repairs on the plumbing, a new tire, breakfast, and being assured that a metal plate bent out of shape in the wheel arch would not affect the new tire, they were on their way again.

Less than half an hour down the road, they heard a clunking sound. Sure enough, it was the metal plate rubbing against the tire. There was a hissing sound which meant air was escaping. They limped into a service station in a small village where the mechanic used a 20-ton jack to bend the metal plate out of harm's way. There, they waited for the tire people to arrive with a new tire while they had lunch. 

After lunch and a new tire, they were on the road again when an oncoming vehicle kicked up a stone. The driver of the motorhome saw it coming and ducked. Luckily, it didn't break the glass but it made a helluva bang and caused the driver to launch in to long list of expletives.

They had previously arranged to stay over at a friend's house in Tamworth. On arrival, they took the motorhome to a caravan repair place and left it there while they spent two nights with their friends before driving their little Suzuki (towed behind the motorhome) back home to the Central Coast.

And during all this drama, the driver's mother had died at home.

Now, of all the stories on all the travel blogs, I had to choose THAT one to read.

Okay, so I go to the next one... some girl booking a P&O Cruise. I can't even afford a rubber ducky in my bathtub. Next! Oh... here's a guy whose car has a serious altercation with a Melbourne tram, and comes off second best. It's a write off. Oh dear, maybe I shouldn't read any more. Oh, here's one that starts: So it has been a mad couple of weeks. Since arriving in Cairns ten days ago I have snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, sailed the Whitsundays and spent far too long on a Greyhound Bus. Hmmm, nothing about camping. Doesn't anyone go camping? ON A BUDGET? And now here's one about some kid vomiting 17 times during the night. Right... that's it. I'm outta here!

I was hoping to read something positive and cheery. No such luck.

Beeb time: The United States has imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for human rights abuses. It represents the first time Mr Assad has been targeted specifically by the international community for his government's crackdown on protesters. The new measures freeze any assets they have in US jurisdiction and make it illegal for Americans to do business with them. Are McDonalds and KFC in Syria? International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Dominique Strauss-Kahn will make a new plea for bail at a court hearing on Thursday morning, his lawyer says. Mr Strauss-Kahn, on suicide watch at New York's infamous Rikers Island prison, denies all the charges. The maid, 32, has said she is "scared" but will testify against him. Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said the new bail hearing would be in Manhattan on Thursday morning. I think Benjamin smells a nice fat fee for his services. After all, with a name like Benjamin Brafman, why wouldn't he? The Queen has offered her "sincere thoughts and deep sympathy" to the victims of Ireland and the UK's troubled past. At a banquet in Dublin Castle she said with hindsight "we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all". An apology was not expected, BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said, but the Queen came "pretty close". He said there was an "underlying sentiment of sorrow and regret" in the language of the speech, which was "a powerful expression, a personal expression by the Queen" and "a wish, finally to turn a page". Makes one wonder how we will see current world policies in 'hindsight'. New satellite images show deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has increased by almost six times in the past year. Obviously, the green message is not getting through. China has no intention to match US military power, a top Chinese general has said. Speaking in Washington, Gen Chen Bingde said America's armed forces remained far more advanced than China's despite considerable progress by China in recent years. But Gen Chen warned that further US arms sales to Taiwan could damage US-China military relations. So what's more important? US-China relations or US-Taiwan relations? US officials have said there was no evidence indicating leaders in Islamabad knew Osama Bin Laden had been hiding in Pakistan. But defence secretary Robert Gates said he believed "somebody" in Pakistan knew the whereabouts of the al-Qaeda chief. Top military officer Adm Mike Mullen said it might take a while to find out if Bin Laden had Pakistani protectors. Amid increasing pressure from US lawmakers, both men advised against cutting off aid to Pakistan. It's pretty obvious what the Yanks really think. If they trusted Pakistan, they would have alerted Pakistani authorities to the whereabouts of bin Laden and left it to them to take care of the matter. Ukraine's national broadcaster has suspended its live weather broadcasts after a forecaster commented on the country's gloomy political climate. The National Meteorological Centre's chief meteorologist praised the beauty of spring before berating "disorder, lawlessness and injustice" in Ukraine. Lyudmila Savchenko was broadcasting live on National Radio when she made the disparaging remarks. Forecasts will be now pre-recorded and edited before being aired. Remember the bad old days of the USSR when citizens were not permitted to speak out against the government? A retired prison guard in the US has eaten his 25,000th Big Mac. It has been 39 years to the day since Don Gorske ate his first nine. At a ceremony in his honour at a McDonald's in his hometown of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, he said he would continue to eat Big Macs "until I die". Mr Gorske, 57, appeared in the 2004 documentary film Super Size Me, which looks at the impact of a daily diet of McDonald's food. He is thin and his cholesterol is said to be low. "When I was 19 years old I had eaten my first 1,000 Big Macs and I was kind of like, I thought how long before I hit 10,000?" he said before eating the world record 25,000th burger on Tuesday. I don't care what people say, I like them. But it's been about 9 years since I had my last one.

NC Art commented on my mention of racism yesterday: Yepppo, Dave Chappelle is a hoot, but Chris Rock tops him in pure caricature. He insults honkes and they roll in the floor with laughter.

I searched Chris Rock on Youchewb and have to say I found him abrasive and confronting. You know, like using an elephant gun to shoot a mouse. He also yells a lot... shouts, like he's trying to bully you into paying attention. Like I'm hard of hearing or something? Don't yell at me, man. And don't pepper every sentence with 'mother fucker'. It's not necessary. Einstein didn't use it to explain his theory of relativity, and Abraham Lincoln didn't find it necessary to make a point either.

Then again, maybe I missed the point of pure caracature... playing the role of an obnoxious character. Well, I don't find obnoxious people amusing.

But things do happen. The Governor General of Canada was scheduled to make a welcome speech to delegates of the American Power Association annual meeting in Toronto. He was delayed, but sent his adjutant. Resplendent in colorful uniform befitting his rank, on stage came a very tall gentleman who happened to be black. A delegate from Alabama seemed about to choke, but rallied and blurted, "Holy shit, it's a goddam nigger."  He turned red and slouched in his chair after noting scowls from all near him. I felt like yelling, "I'm from South Carolina where we have better manners."

Which reminds me of something Francois wrote about living in Martinique, where he had a house, boat, car and job. In 2009 he couldn't stand the local racism any longer so he sold everything (losing a lot of money). After a short stay in France, he moved to New Caledonia to be with his daughter and grandchild. Racism is such a nasty and unnecessary business. Unfortunately, it exists... and not only in Martinique. It's here in Taree as well. AND, it's not only whites who are racist... it's all races.

Back from the barber shop and a haircut. The sign on Mark's door said "Closed. Back at 2:30". Yeah, right. It was just after 3pm. Long lunch. But I spotted him walking across the road just after I arrived. Then the local mayor tuned up and let me go first. The mayor (would you believe his name is Paul Hogan?) had a large scab on his nose and I asked him if it was a skin cancer. Yep. And he's had 4 operations already because the previous 3 didn't get the whole cancer. Lucky me. I had one on my nose with no further complications. In fact, all my skin cancers have had no further complications, and I've had quite a few surgically removed.

Anyway, it's now THAT time again. Same old, same old - time to feed the inmates. I wonder how often this Waffle page will be updated on the Odyssey. I guess the routine - if there is one - will be much different. Also, depending on where I am, wireless internet won't always be accessible. Oh, well, we'll have to wait and see about that. I can assure you of one thing, though... the camera will always be busy. Gary

May 18, 2011. Here's an interesting take on racism in the US.

And then of course, there's the funny side to racism.

I've met lots of people in my life I don't like for one reason or another, and they come from all kinds of backgrounds. Some are Aussies. Does that mean I don't like Aussies? Nope. It means I don't like some Aussies. It means I don't like some Indians, some French, some English, some Germans, some Italians, some Greeks, some Asians, etcetera. I think it's wrong to generalize. Just because there's one bad apple in the fruit bowl doesn't mean all apples are bad. And if you ask a grub what constitutes a bad apple, he'll give you an entirely different answer. "If that was a bad apple, mate, I wouldn't have been in there!"

I know that politically correct white Americans never use the N word. It's considered offensive. And yet black music like hip hop and rap is peppered with words like 'nigger', 'fuck' and whatever else. Where's the consistency? If a black man called me a honky it wouldn't worry me in the least. If someone called me a faggot so what? The day I worry about being called names will be the day I lose the plot.

TX Greg wrote to tell me that Qantas has introduced direct non-stop flights to Dallas: So when are you ever going to come visit??? (I asked you that years ago, remember?) The flight is a piece of cake. The horse ride from the airport back to the house might be a little bumpy, haha. "Do what you can while you can".

Yeah, right. Me on a plane for 20 hours? No way, Jose. Besides, as I pointed out to Greg, anything that costs more than 20 bucks a day is out of the question. However, I did tell him the story of the bloke who visited a pet store and asked for a horse. The owner explained that he only sold cats and dogs. So the customer said fine, what have you got that's big enough to ride?

Beeb time: The woman who says she was sexually assaulted by International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is living through an "extraordinary" trauma, her lawyer has said. He said the woman, a 32-year-old hotel maid, was now in hiding and felt "alone in the world". The alleged assault happened at New York's luxury Sofitel hotel on 14 May. Mr Strauss-Kahn - who denies the claims - has been put on suicide watch in the city's infamous Rikers Island prison. As a precaution, guards are required to check on him every 15 to 30 minutes. The 62-year-old faces seven charges and could be sentenced to up to 25 years in jail. I can understand why the woman would feel alone in the world. The man has many powerful friends. Libyan Oil Minister Shukri Ghanem crosses into Tunisia, amid reports that he has become the latest senior Libyan official to defect. How sensible. The Queen has laid a wreath at the Republic of Ireland's Garden of Remembrance during the first visit by a British monarch since Ireland gained independence. The garden, in Dublin, is dedicated to people who fought for Irish independence from Britain. God Save The Queen was played when she arrived at the Garden of Remembrance to lay the wreath - regarded as a highly symbolic act as the garden commemorates Irish people who fought over the centuries against British rule. Highly symbolic indeed, and I hope it succeeds in easing tensions. Chairman and founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates says he was strongly behind the company's plan to takeover loss-making firm Skype. Well, there ya go. I don't understand any of that stuff. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has acknowledged he fathered a child with a member of his household staff more than 10 years ago. Earlier this month the former actor and his wife Maria Shriver said they were separating after 25 years of marriage. The 63-year-old former governor has maintained a high public profile and worked to revive his movie career since finishing a seven-year run as California governor in January. How positively riveting. A senior Yemeni al-Qaeda operative has been arrested in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, Pakistan's army says. Mohammed Ali Qasim, also known as Abu Suhaib al-Makki, had been working under al-Qaeda leaders along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, a statement said. The army said his arrest was a "major development in unravelling the al-Qaeda network operating in the region". Hmmm, a positive result by the Pakistanis after the bin Laden raid. Seems to me like the Pakis have been embarrassed into taking action. Farmers in eastern China have been left perplexed after their watermelons began to explode one by one. An investigation by state media found farms in Jiangsu province were losing acres of fruit because of the problem. China Central Television said farmers were overspraying their crops with the growth promoter, hoping they could get their fruit to market ahead of the peak season and increase their profits. Ah... another example of where greed gets you

Francois wrote to say he doesn't like cauliflower: My grandad used to say the best vegetable is the meat (whatever meat...): I agree totally with his opinion!

Francois also doesn't like Strauss-Khan: And I don't speak of fresh meat as this despicable Dominique Strauss Khan: do you know he was in the frenchies mind, quite surely the next president (60%)... candidate of the left while he is one of the richest man hehehe candidate of the morality while he has always sex with young women in mind and in his body... that's the french politic: I think France is the scorn of the world with this affair: normal with the president who divorced then married 3 years ago a sinking stupid model (who is considered as a slut by many) and who'll have a baby in some months: totally ridiculous!

Well, that's an interesting observation, coming from a Frenchman. Francois also explained what he meant by living the vegetable life... that you need a body that works well in order to do the things you want to do, like setting up camp on the Odyssey, running around with a camera, and offering free massages to some of the locals :o), or, in his case, sailing his boat. When I said we're becoming vegetables, I'd in mind images as the Mandela's pic you linked yesterday. Even he has still an exceptional brain, his body is very near of a vegetable ...

Francois says he's enjoying New Caledonia: I think New Caledonia will be my last step and I'm very happy of its size: 400km x 80km seems very small compared to your Australia, but with the very bad ways it takes more than 1 day to go to the north from Nouméa (which is at the south). To go through the island to the other coast is an adventure where the native tribes are as spectacular as the rivers, the forest, the colours.... And last, but the most important with the boat, the lagoon is very large all around: at least 20km, often 50 km and even 60 at the south and 80km at the north, with somptuous islands everywhere: even I'd lived til 100, I'll never see all this... I've seen maybe 1/20 of the "grande terre" (=large earth) and 1/8 of the west lagoon in 5 months and the remaining is very far hehehe.

You can check out some of Francois' photos of New Caledonia here (and the reason he's a grandad). I like his boat! What a beauty! He also mentioned kava, a mild drug consumed as a drink. It has a muddy appearance and taste. Yes, I've experienced kava. I used to have Fijian neighbors who introduced me to it. YUCK! But it's a ceremonial thing and a tradition among Melanesians.

Actually, 400km x 80km is a pretty big area. It's larger than the area I currently live in, the Manning Valley, which measures 3752 square kms compared to New Caledonia which is almost 10 times greater. 400km is about the same distance as Taree to Sydney, which is quite a loooooong way, with a lot of towns in between, including two major cities, Newcastle and Sydney.

Meanwhile, I spotted something interesting in my bedroom.

Just received notice that the rent on this property will increase by $10 a week in late July. That will bring it up to $200 a week, which is STILL $20 a week cheaper than what we were paying for a 2-bed dump in Petersham, Sydney, 10 years ago! I think the landlady is trying to recoup some of the money she spent on the new fence a couple of years ago, and the paint job more recently. Now she's also up for a new paint job on Averil's place, which she also owns.

And now, folks, it's time to cook dinner for the... residents. Fish and hash browns with a squeeze of lemon. We're going Anglo American tonight. Gary

May 17, 2011. An hour or so after I took "delivery" of Das Busse in Tamworth at the Hertz depot, I parked outside a hotel/motel in Walcha where I would stay the night. No sooner had I parked rear to kerb outside the pub, than a bloke started checking out the van and peering through the windows. "I should have bought something like this," he said. He had one of those wind-up camper trailers that you tow behind a car, and he said it was a bit of a nuisance to erect the thing each time he camped somewhere. So there he was lamenting his purchase while I was also lamenting mine. Hehe. At that stage, I figured I'd made a huge mistake.

But as I wrote Oregon Richie this morning, Mind you, I may see things very differently when I'm camped somewhere and overwhelmed by a spectacular view. Right now, she's parked in the yard with a view of the lemon tree. So I'm tending to focus on the bus itself rather than what its purpose will be. So maybe the end will more than justify the means. When Edmund Hillary stood on top of Mt Everest, I imagine his thoughts were not about how he could have done it better or cheaper. Know what I mean? Hehe. How he did it was no longer important. The fact that he did it was what counted.

To illustrate my point, I saw a rather spectacular pic on Red Bubble this morning of a sunrise. But it's important to also read the accompanying story. And be sure to click on 'view larger' for a better view.

Yes, it's all a matter of perception, isn't it. I'm reminded of the Ray Stevens song Everything is Beautiful (in its own way). But I tend to think that nothing is beautiful or ugly. It's our perception that makes it so. You don't believe me? Ask a hippopotamus who's got the hots for his lady.

Meanwhile, if you're into crosswords, or you hate crosswords as I do, then you might be interested in this little gem from the Two Ronnies.

Beeb time: IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been remanded in custody at New York's notorious Rikers Island jail on charges of sexual assault. The judge said Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, was a flight risk. He was arrested on Saturday after boarding a plane and accused of trying to rape a hotel maid. He faces seven charges and could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. Oh dear... if only he could turn back the clock. I think most of us have been there. US tycoon Donald Trump says he will not be running as a Republican candidate for the US presidency in 2012, ending weeks of speculation. Yep, better not to run if you can't last the distance. Envoys of embattled Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi are due to hold talks in Moscow with senior Russian officials. How to win friends and influence people when you're in deep shit. Former President Nelson Mandela has voted at home in South Africa's local elections, two days early, like others unable to reach a polling station. His foundation released the first photographs of the 92-year-old hero of the fight against white minority rule since he was hospitalised in January. What an extraordinary man and an extraordinary life. Click here for the photo. Pope Benedict has told bishops around the world to promptly report all suspected cases of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests to local police in new guidelines he has issued. What a novel idea! No wonder he's Pope. The US reaches its debt limit of $14.3 trillion and takes measures to cut spending in order to avoid breaching it. I know exactly what they're going through

NC Art has had his thinking cap on again: The trouble with cauliflower is there's never enough cheese to make the  stuff edible. Same with broccoli. Ask George H.W. Bush.

I disagree, Art. Have you ever tried cauliflower raw? It's yummy... sweet and nutty. And I love it steamed and smothered in cheese sauce. As to broccoli, I can take it or leave it. Preferably the latter.

Ah well, you might do well saving for your odyssey after all. The economics appear solid. It might be different in the States, where there is a fee for everything, a charge for non-existent service, restocking fees for gadgets that don't work, etc. My cell phone gave up and died; the warranty expired the day before (how the hell do they do that?). I will get a new one with a $50.00 rebate if I can decipher the formula required to send for it. Then the wait may be six months or a year while they use my money for fun.

You see, Art, that's the problem with reaching 85. You're standing so high on the mountain now, you're getting a much clearer view of life below, and your perspective has changed to one of cynicism. Hehe. I'm getting a bit that way myself. Life is a joke but it takes a lot of wrinkles before the punch line becomes apparent.

Saturday, my internet connection failed. Today I'm informed I must have a new cable installed and will need a new contract with a whopper monthly fee. I am so thrilled! Hell I was born in a day we could have a telephone for four bucks a month, and a service man would show up to fix problems in an hour or less. Seems we deep-sixed the idea of giving value for money awhile back. I had one phone for thirty years and it was still working when I moved and left it for the new house owners. OK, enough of bitching. Be sure to get a good photo of the famed Tasmanian devil. And, as only a Limey can say with proper inflection, "Arr, fookall."

Yes, I saw an interview with old Pom who made it big in Oz as a gardener with his own TV show. He's about your age. He was a drill sergeant in the army, making life miserable for recruits. Next thing ya know he's growing spuds and cauliflowers and roses. Hehe. During the interview, as he talked about his experiences in Europe during WWII, he used the "F" word  but it came out as "Fook". As to Tasmanian devils, I doubt I'll see one. And I certainly won't see the famed Tasmanian Tiger. The last one carked it back in the '30s.

Truth is, who knows what I'll see? This is not a mission to accomplish any specific purpose, like a David Attenborough documentary. I imagine every day will be a surprise, and I guess that's the scary part. Gary

May 16, 2011. Here's a gem from Justin's blog:

A Congressman was seated next to a little girl on an airplane so he turned to her and said, "Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger." 

The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, "What would you want to talk about?" 

Oh, I don't know," said the congressman. "How about global warming, universal health care, or stimulus packages?" as he smiled smugly.

"OK," she said. "Those could be interesting topics, but let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff - grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?" 

The legislator, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence, thinks about it and says, "Hmmm, I have no idea." 

To which the little girl replies, "Do you really feel qualified to discuss global warming, universal health care, or the economy, when you don't know shit?" And then she went back to reading her book.

I checked my counter's world map this morning to see where visitors to Aussie Odyssey are coming from... mostly Western Europe, North America, Oz and... hello? New Caledonia. And then lo and behold, I get an email from Francois, who is now living there, or as Francois calls it, Nouvelle Calédonie. His daughter is there also, and his grandchild. So I bought a small house, a boat and I'm sometimes a grand dad, sometimes a captain sometimes a fisherman, and often... resting alone at home hehehe

Anyway, the main reason Francois wrote was to encourage me to take the plunge: All this to say you: our remaining life is short, so go! go! go! don't wait: if it's an error, you'd surely other doors to open. To remain without opening the door to your dream is not the solution: are you happy as you're with your drunkards without brain? More you're waiting, more it'll be difficult to push the door, more you'll be near of the vegetable life.

Yes, Francois, I've considered all that. Of all vegetables, I prefer the cauliflower because I quite like cheese sauce. However, before I turn into a cauliflower, I would dearly love to go! go! go! but it takes dough! dough! dough! That's the problem, and it's a problem only time can solve. As a pensioner on a fixed income with no savings, I have no option but to wait, even though it's frustrating. Every time I want to do something, like buy a camper, or have it fixed, or fit solar panels, or whatever else, somebody is putting his hand out and saying, "Yummy, yummy, yummy, give me lots of money!"

Nonetheless, I appreciate what you are saying. As the young Swedish boy Robin said the other day, "Do what you can while you can." At the moment, I'm doing what I can, which means getting Das Busse in good shape before I go! go! go!

I hope I've not given you a big headache with my english, and don't be afraid, I can't afford a plane to just come and kick your ass, and my boat can't go through the Coral sea til Australia (around 1500km) hehehe

Well, Francois, at least you get to keep your right shoe. And if you did kick my ass, you wouldn't want your shoe back anyway.

Yes, ladies and genitals, I've created a rod for my own back. I'm trying to do the impossible. I don't go out, I don't spend any money on clothes, entertainment, or luxuries. I'm home 24/7 so that I can save what I can for a dream that sometimes seems beyond my reach. At the moment, I have Das Busse which needs work to get her up to scratch, and I have Bluey for transport in the meantime. So at least that's a start, and I'm a bit further along the track than I was a year ago.

But speaking of turning into a cauliflower, my oldest bro is 80. He still plays lawn bowls, does maintenance around the house, rides a bicycle and works part time as a hairdresser. My second oldest bro is still doing okay as well and he's 77. So there's hope for me yet. I'm still in my 60s. I admit I have some problem touching my toes, but I can touch other people's toes no problem at all. In fact, on the Odyssey, I might ask a few surfers if I can practice on theirs.

Yes, I know... I'm incorrigible. Is there such a word as corrigible? Yes, there is, I just checked. But you never hear it. Corrigible means capable of being corrected. Soooo, I hope Das Busse is corrigible. Meanwhile, I'll personally stick with the in version.

Beeb time: Israeli forces have fired on groups of protesters at borders with the Palestinian territories, Syria and Lebanon. Reports say that at least 12 people have died and dozens more have been injured. In one incident, thousands of Palestinian supporters from Syria entered the Golan Heights, Israel says. Palestinians are marking the Nakba or Catastrophe, their term for the founding of the Israeli state in 1948. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced out of their homes in fighting after its creation. So what's the answer? Or is that a silly question? The decapitated bodies of 25 men and two women - believed to be victims of a drugs feud - are found at a ranch close to Guatemala's Mexico border. It's not only drugs that twist people's brains, it's also greed. Voters in Zurich, Switzerland, overwhelmingly reject proposed bans on assisted suicide and "suicide tourism" in a local referendum. How interesting. So much for the do-gooders and Bible bashers. Australian police say a man who plunged to his death from a seventh-floor balcony on Sunday was participating in the internet craze of "planking". Planking involves someone lying flat on their stomach in unusual and sometimes dangerous situations, and posting photographs on social media websites. Police said the dead man, in his 20s, fell from a balcony railing in Brisbane while a friend photographed him. The price of so-called fame. The American shuttle Endeavour will try again on Monday to launch to the International Space Station (ISS). Engineers believe they have fixed a heater problem in the aft of the ship that kept the orbiter from making an ascent two weeks ago. Maybe I should get them to check out Das Busse. The Queen's state visit this week will mark the "start of a new era", Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said. He said security would be high but she would receive a warm welcome and there would be opportunities for members of the Irish public to meet her. I hope all goes well for Betty. It would be awful if anything went wrong

I'm not a great fan of royalty but, on the other hand, I think it serves a practical purpose, and I don't see any sense in dismantling it. If people get their jollies from having queens and kings and princes and princesses and castles and royal occasions, then why not? It doesn't do any harm, and it brings in the tourist bikkies. It's also a wonderful excuse to party as only the Brits know how.

Yes, when the Russians party they trot out a big bunch of tanks and missile launchers and lots of goose-stepping soldiers. When the Yanks party they have ticker tape parades and lots of scantily-clad girls waving fluffy things. But when the Brits party they bring out the Crown Jewels and bright red horse-drawn carriages.

And when Aussies party? Well, it's a stack of bangers, a barbie, tamaaata sauce, lots of Fosters and insect repellant. And shorts and thongs. Don't forget the shorts and thongs. Bewdy mate, no wukkers.

Dunno about you, but I always get a few giggles outta this lunatic stuff I write.

Oregon Richie wrote: I gather you have some pretty impressive plans for the further outfitting of DB.  That's a lot of money to spend of course and I wonder if that covers it ALL or mostly dedicated to the bodywork.  Whatever you would do or even if another coach came along you'd no doubt spend some bucks but that is quite the tidy packet, as the saying goes.

Yes, $6000 for bodywork alone IS a tidy packet, but it includes taking DB almost back to a shell and doing the job properly... pop-top off, windows out, doors off, interior furniture out, decals removed, some replacement panels... all that stuff... and a respray. A month's worth of work. After that, I have to get the mechanicals done, upholstery repaired, solar panels fitted, new batteries and wiring. AND a canvas awning.

But consider this: If I go nowhere, and just pay rent for the next three years, it will cost $15,000 for rent alone. And I will having nothing to show for it at the end of that period. So, do I spend $15,000 on Das Busse and see Australia, or do I live in a flat for 3 years and go nowhere? The cost is the same.

Actually, it's not quite that simple at the mo because I have to pay rent AND fix up DB at the same time, which makes it a bit difficult. But you get the picture. And I must thank Richie for asking the question because it made me think it through. Now I have the answer. So, Francois, go! go! go! will have to wait a while. Hopefully, it will happen before I turn into a cauliflower... and before you lose a shoe.

And now it's time to think about my current situation... din dins for the resident dingalings and myself. How about grilled onion and tomato flavored beef sausages with mashed potato, fried onions and gravy? Sounds pretty cool to me. It's also a bit chilly so on goes the a/c to warm the place up a bit. And then a bit of telly. How exciting. Gary

May 15, 2011. I watched a program on telly last night about people searching ancestral records for clues about their identity. The bloke who was the subject of this particular show discovered that he was related to European royalty... not that it made the slightest difference to his present fortunes. His great great whatever was an illegitimate child. But as he discovered the various links to his past he said something I thought was quite profound: "We are but temporary custodians of our genes".

Something occurred to me this morning. I've never traveled by sea. Ferry, yes, across Sydney Harbor, but not a proper ship. That will change when Das Busse and I book our passage to Tasmania, the island state of Oz across Bass Strait in the Great Southern Ocean. So there ya go, the Odyssey will be by land and sea despite being confined to Austra-bloody-lalia.

I spoke to a neighbor today who's been on the Spirit of Tasmania. The one-way trip takes about 8 hours, "They say Bass Strait is pretty rough but the day we sailed it was like a mill pond."

And something else I remembered. When the rust blokes quoted the work on DB they said that once all body panels are exposed (doors, pop top, interior furniture removed) for treatment and respray, they also treat the metal with anti-rust material. So that's a plus. If you're gonna spend six grand, you might as well get your money's worth.

Speaking of sea voyages, I saw a bit of vintage aerial footage on telly the other night of a Manly Ferry crossing Sydney Heads during a big ocean swell. That ferry rose and dipped like you wouldn't believe, with massive sprays of water over its bow each time it dove into the swell. Sometimes the swell through the heads is so bad, ferry services need to be cancelled, something you might not expect in such a normally tranquil place like Sydney Harbor. I'm not sure what the distance between North and South Head is but it would have to be at least a couple of kilometers of exposed ocean. I was on a 53' ketch when it went outside the heads to greet the arrival of the re-enactment of the First Fleet during the 1988 bi-centenary celebrations, and we bobbed around like a cork. It was an amazing day and I was right there in the thick of it. So where are the photos? I wish I knew.

Here's a poster of the Manly Ferries when I was a kid - the old steamers. How times have changed. This is what they're like now. However a trip to Sydney without a ferry ride to Manly just ain't right.

Beeb time: US army engineers open floodgates in Louisiana that will inundate up to 3,000 sq miles to try to protect major cities from Mississippi river floodwater. You kinda get the impression that natural disasters are a "normal" part of life. Azerbaijan's Nikki and Ell are crowned the winners of this year's Eurovision Song Contest with the song Running Scared, with Italy in second. I watched the semi finals last night on telly. Er... yeah. Lots of flashing lights and fireworks and strutting but not much else. Sorry. Authorities in the US charge three people in Florida and three in Pakistan with providing financial support to the Pakistani Taliban. Enemies from within. Gotta watch those buggers. A leaked UN report says Iran and North Korea have been exchanging ballistic missile technology in violation of sanctions. Sanctions? Whose sanctions? Those dudes don't care about Western sanctions or western anything. The US will seek to expand domestic oil production in an attempt to reduce dependence on imported oil and bring down fuel prices, President Obama says. Well, it is a pretty big rock ya know, so why not? Wallace McCain, a billionaire Canadian frozen food mogul and philanthropist, has died aged 81. The co-founder of the McCain Foods empire died in Toronto on Friday, after losing a 14-month battle with cancer. He helped turn a small French fry plant into a global business, renowned for its oven chips and frozen pizzas. Mr McCain and his brother Harrison founded McCain Foods Ltd in New Brunswick in 1956. "Ah, McCain, you've done it again!" Yep, they're in Oz too. McCain said he liked making money but as a philanthropist he liked giving it away even more. 

Frozen oven chips are okay I suppose but certainly nowhere near as good as deep fried chips you make yourself. No way. But McCain knew that making your own chips involves a bit of work... peeling, cutting, frying, etc... and he also knew that people are basically lazy. Boom boom. How to become a billionaire by selling frozen chips. In other words, how to tell people it's cool to be lazy.

I'll be making my own chips on the Odyssey. All you need is a pot, a wire basket, a spud, a vegetable peeler, vegetable oil and a heat source. Too easy. Oh, and salt. You can't have chips without salt! That's the only time I use salt. I don't use it in cooking or on anything other than chips. Lindsay, on the other hand, smothers everything in salt and BBQ sauce. Yuck.

And that's it for Sunday, ladies and genitals. Kitchen time again... the usual routine. Lindsay is going through one of his regular doom and gloom periods... it's the way it is with him. Woe is me and the sky's gonna fall in. But he gets over it eventually and is okay for a while. Cest la vie. Gary

May 14, 2011. TX Greg wants to know if I spelt Oregonion wrong on purpose. Hehe. No, I was having a "senior moment" and kinda got carried away with "onion". But at about 4:30 this morning my bladder convinced me to go to the loo and it was then that I thought about the spelling of Oregonion as opposed to Oregonian. It's a geriatric thing ya know. Or as we say in Oz, not the full quid.

I've also been thinking more about the $6000 quote for bodywork on Das Busse. It's a lotta loot. I could get another quote but if it's less I'd be worried about getting an inferior job. So I'm between a rock and a hard place. It would be too easy to just drop the whole Odyssey idea. But if I did that, then what? I see other older people around here whose lives are humdrum routine - same old, same old every day until they roll up the tent. Is that what I want? Sometimes I'm not sure what I want.

I was just thinking about those Do Not Disturb signs hung on hotel room doorknobs. Some people have them hung on their doorknobs permanently, 24/7.

In any case, I think Das Busse 'The Project' is gonna take a bit longer than I originally thunk. Backpackers are quite happy to spend $5000 on a jalopy and rough it for 6 months but that's not my style. Also, I have no one to share expenses with, and no one to rescue me if I get into trouble. Everything depends on li'l ole me. So, as the boy scouts say, be prepared.

Beeb time: The US has stopped short of recognising Libya's National Transitional Council as the country's legitimate government. The statement comes after the first visit to the White House by a senior member of the rebel council, which is pushing for international support. Earlier, Col Muammar Gaddafi taunted Nato troops in an audio message on state TV, saying he is a place where they "cannot reach" him. "I say to the crusader cowards that I live in a place that you cannot reach and kill me in it because I live in the hearts of the millions," he added. "Immortality is for the martyrs, and death, infamy and disgrace are for the treacherous agents and their cowardly masters." I think the Colonel missed his calling... he should have been a comedian. But I find it confusing that the US can drop bombs on Gaddafi and yet not recognize the opposition as the country's legitimate government. The Pakistani Taliban say they carried out twin suicide blasts at a paramilitary training academy that killed 80 people, to avenge Osama Bin Laden's death. Happy now, guys? A British woman has been beheaded in a shop in Spain's Canary Islands, officials say. Spanish media said a homeless Bulgarian man had been arrested in the town of Los Cristianos. Witnesses said a man entered a Chinese supermarket in a shopping centre and stabbed then beheaded the 62-year-old woman. He is said to have dropped the head outside before being tackled. "Apparently this gentleman without any motive or any reason... entered the shop and then cut this woman's neck and took the head in his hand outside," said local councillor Manuel Reveron. Don't ask me to explain it. I don't have a bloody clue. Ashton Kutcher will replace Charlie Sheen in the hit CBS comedy Two and a Half Men, Warner Bros Television says. Kutcher, who is married to actress Demi Moore, has hosted the prank show Punk'd and is probably best known as Michael Kelso on Fox's That 70s Show. "I can't replace Charlie Sheen but I'm going to work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people," Kutcher said. When my boss fired me from radio 2GO back in 1972 he said, "No one is indispensable." Anyway, I don't understand what all the fuss is about or why Sheen was being paid so much money to recite corny lines in a so-so sitcom. US officials have had access to three of Osama Bin Laden's widows in Pakistan, the White House has said. Spokesman Jay Carney gave no further details, but the US wants to obtain information about the al-Qaeda leader's life since he disappeared in late 2001. Now we might find out if he had a big one or a little one. Uganda's parliament has adjourned without debating a controversial bill which includes the death penalty for some homosexual acts. It had been reported that a vote could be held on Friday. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been condemned by Western leaders and human rights groups, some of whom are celebrating "victory". As NC Art put it so well the other day, Meanwhile Uganda will debate a "kill gays" bill on Friday. The law outlaws homosexual activity with a death penalty. Also, anyone who knows of such activity will be imprisoned for failing to report it. Neat solution to a non-problem. Yep... a non problem. Pink Floyd stars Roger Waters and David Gilmour teamed up for a rare appearance together to re-stage their classic album The Wall. It happened during Roger Waters' concert version of the group's concept album The Wall at London's O2 Arena. Hehe, they're all old blokes now. Funny isn't it... kids become famous, kids grow old... but the music stays young. 

But back to what NC Art said about the situation in Uganda: A non-problem. I honestly don't understand all the fuss about homosexuality between consenting adults. What people do in bed is no one else's business. Sex between consenting adults of any sex - same or otherwise - is not a threat to anyone. None whatsoever. As Art says, it's a non-problem.

You know what the problem is? The problem is people who see themselves as representatives of God... holier-than-thous who take it upon themselves to judge others according to their own idiotic and bigoted values they claim as God's word. Hello? As the Man said, judge not lest ye be judged. And you know something else? It's a problem unique to human beings. Nothing - and I mean NOTHING - else on this planet is that stupid. Or for that matter, that egotistical.

Ooer! I'm getting all thingy again. Sometimes I frighten myself.

Well, that's it for another Satdee. They're like pages in a book - every time you turn a page, the closer you get to THE END. Oh yes, I meant to mention that it's snowing not all that far from here... at Barrington Tops, and the wind is from the west which means it's COLD. Very strange, ladies and genitals... blue sky, sunny, but the wind chill is ruining what would otherwise be a pleasant autumn day. Gary

May 13, 2011. Yes, folks, Friday the 13th. Superstition is alive and well. People love superstition... they love spooks and black cats and ladders and Halloween and horror movies and all that creepy stuff. By the way, wasn't the world supposed to end recently? How many Fridays the 13th are there in a year? Well, between one and three. Any month that begins on a Sunday will include a Friday the 13th. So whatever the total for 66 years is, I've managed to survive quite a few so far, and hopefully I'll also emerge from this one relatively unscathed... unlike Jesus who was crucified on a Friday, and whose Last Supper had 13 people sitting at the table. Oops!

NC Art sent a file my computer won't open. It's a pps file, whatever that is. But the title of his email was Lightning in a Jar, so I did a Google and found this.

Both Art and Oregon Richie have mentioned Newt Gingrich running for president at the next election in the US. Richie refers to him as 'Nutty Newt' while Art says: The paragon of virtue seems to think people will vote for a hater of Muslims, gays and lesbians, blacks, and women's rights. Yeah, this is the guy who was didling women (not his wife 1 or 2) while condemning Bill Clinton for getting a casual blow job in the oval office. Oy vey!

Hehe. Well, there's not a lot we can do about people with extremist views. You can't have a left without a right and a middle. Just ask a pendulum. All we can do is hope that sufficient people are sensible enough and educated enough to choose wisely when they vote. And that, dear Breth, is why Oz has compulsory voting... just in case the sensible people get lazy. If that hare gets too complacent and relaxes, the tortoise is gonna catch him napping.

I personally don't have a problem with compulsory voting. For me, voting is every adult citizen's responsibility and not something that should be left to chance. If government is not about grass roots participation, then how can it be truly representative? If a citizen doesn't vote, then he has no right to complain about who governs him. Similarly, if the majority doesn't vote, it can't bitch about being ruled by a minority.

Certain Oregonions (and I'm not going to mention names) get a little confused about Oz stuff... like you'll never never know if you never never go. That slogan is part of the Northern Territory tourism campaign, based on the outback being called the "never never" because of its size. So here's a typical ad for the NT. Spectacular country, yes?

Also, if an onion is an onion, and you put Oreg in front of it, does it remain an onion, as in Oreg-onion, or does it become an Oreg-own-ee-on. Hehe. Buggered if I know... I'm an Aussie.

Meanwhile, I should seriously consider having a propellor and wings fitted to Das Busse. Wheeeeeeeeee! As it is though, with the expense of the current restorations, I should be ready to hit the road when I'm about 98. Unless, of course, I get lucky with Lotto. Even a minor prize will do. Are you listening, God?

Weird, huh? I was terribly disappointed with DB when I first saw it parked at Hertz in Tamworth. By the time I arrived back in Taree, I was determined to sell it and put it down to poor judgement. And now? Well, I don't wanna go through all that bullshit again so I figure I might as well do the best I can with what I've got. If she ain't the flashest van in the camping lot, then that's just too bad. The Joneses can go jump.

Hey, I could have done worse. Check out this Youchewb vid of a Toyota camper. There's a wind problem with the microphone for a while, but that goes away. The Toyota logo on this vehicle is the same as mine... so mine's an antique as well.

Beeb time: An HIV-positive person can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to uninfected partners by 96% if they are given anti-retroviral drugs immediately, according to US scientists. NC Art commented on that item in his email this morning: THAT seems to be very promising. The US is to tighten security around the elite military unit that killed Osama Bin Laden, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said. Mr Gates revealed that the US Navy Seal team had expressed concerns over their safety and that of their families. Al-Qaeda has vowed to avenge the death of its leader in the helicopter-borne raid on his compound in Abbottabad, northern Pakistan. And that's the way it is, folks. You can't have left without right, and you can't have tit without tat. And on and on and on it goes. The pro-democracy struggle in the Middle East and North Africa is at risk amid a fightback by repressive governments, Amnesty International says. Absolutely. Repressive governments could not possibly exist in a democracy. It's do or die for them. Egypt's authorities order a 15-day detention of ousted President Hosni Mubarak on charges of profiteering, media reports say. See what I mean? Police in Mexico have found eight decapitated bodies in the northern state of Durango. Among the dead was the deputy governor of Durango's prison, who had been abducted on Monday. Gerardo Galindo's head was found next to a wall bearing a threatening message by a local drug gang. Charming chaps, aren't they. Scum of the earth if you ask me. The lowest of the low. Thousands of people have fled the Spanish town of Lorca following an earthquake that left nine people dead and damaged hundreds of buildings. Many residents have gone to stay with friends and family in other areas, some because their homes are unsafe and others fear aftershocks. Luis Suarez, president of Spain's College of Geologists, said the quake should not have been strong enough to bring down buildings and the scale of the damage must have been due to pre-existing structural problems. He said the area's sandy soil also made the impact worse. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be of rigid construction - as a person or a building. Footage has emerged of an angry passer-by pushing a suicidal man off a bridge in Guangdong province. Retired soldier Lai Jiansheng, 66, reached out to shake the hand of Chen Fuchao before pushing him off. The heavily-indebted Chen Fuchao fell eight metres onto a partially-inflated emergency air cushion. He was hospitalised with wrist and back injuries. Chen Fuchao may be charged with disturbing public order. Lai was accused of causing intentional injury. What a strange world we live in... as if you didn't know already

I know you're all itching to know what Eddie's chicken rissoles were like last night. Very nice indeed. Lots of vegies and yummies mixed in with ground chicken fillet, and crumbed. I baked them in the oven with a spray of cooking oil. The girls at Eddie's hand-make all their chicken thingies in full view of customers. No back-room stuff or machinery. You can see what's going on. Actually, that got me to wondering if Eddie's has a web site, and guess what? He has two outlets, one in the Manning Mall and another in The Triple C center (which is the one I normally go to). I mean, why would you bother to make the things yourself when you can buy them for a buck each? BTW, K001 in the Manning Mall graphic is where I got DB's spare keys cut. How's that for a fascinating snippet of information? I don't keep anything secret here on this blog, ladies and genitals, I bare the lot... warts and all.

I checked to see if I could find a pic of Manning Mall. I did find a couple but they're all dreary. However, I did find this aerial of Taree. See that island in the middle of the river on the right? You can just make out a bridge in front of it, and I live just a wee bit to the left of the bridge. Yoo hoo! Can you see me waving? I think the village at the bottom of the pic is Tinonee (emphasis on the middle syllable - rhymes with baloney. Taree, on the other hand, rhymes with Paris the way Parisians pronounce it - Pah-ree).

Well, that's it for Friday the thirteenth. It's coming up to 5pm and I've gotta think about din dins. My two little darling babies are still asleep, bless their hearts. They lead such interesting lives. When Lindsay staggers out the bedroom door I'll ask him what he wants... pork loins, fish cakes, frankfurts or whatever. Not that it matters... whatever he and dear Sue don't have tonight, they'll have tomorrow night or the night after. But Lindsay appreciates the opportunity to make important decisions.

Ah! He's just emerged... so it's fish cakes and potato crunchy bites. It's called delegating authority. Gary

May 12, 2011. Bloody good job I remembered to renew my Lotto subscription yesterday otherwise I would never have known I didn't win anything when I checked the results this morning.

And now for something completely different... Chasers War on Everything. They're an ABC TV comedy team in Oz.

Actually, those crazy blokes remind me of Roy & HG who did commentary for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The US audience couldn't work out if they were fair dinkum or kidding hehe. Here's a Roy and HG classic commenting on the misfortunes of New Zealand during the 2000 Olympics. Make sure you catch the last line.

And one more... Arseclown of the Week.

Meanwhile, TX Greg (as I predicted yesterday) searched the internet for a pic of a bloke sitting on a loo while holding an umbrella: Haha, couldn't find a pic with a umbrella. Hope someone doesn't try this on you.........

NC Art has a logical suggestion: When it rains in the loo tent take a bar of soap and shower the day's road dust away along with whatever.

"Along with whatever" is something I don't even wanna think about. Anyway, I spotted the loo/shower/change tent on spesh at a local department store a couple of years ago for about 30 bucks and it's still in its packaging. It's one of those instant things... spring loaded. Varoom!

Matt from Smash Zone and his mate turned up half an hour ago, and checked out Das Busse. A proper job means removing all windows to get to the rust, replacing a couple of damaged panels, removing the pop top, doors, etc, etc. It's virtually a total respray. Big job... IF I want it done properly, which I do. I told them I want the bus to last me at least a couple of years, and maybe a few more. Are you ready for this? Ballpark, $6000. They can also handle mechanical stuff and organize auto electrics (wiring). They do complete restorations. They also said DB has air conditioning. Oh, really? Yep, most of the bits are there but they're not hooked up. Well, whaddaya know about that! DB has a/c!

Soooo, that came as a bit of shock. Six grand. But what is the alternative? If I sell DB and start again, I could end up with another bus that needs a lot of work. At least DB has all the fittings and a proper camper conversion. It's also a long wheel base. I don't have the 30 grand or whatever it takes to step into something with no problems, so I have to do it the slow way... bit by bit. And if it takes another 6 months or whatever to get there, then that's what it takes.

Also, the bull bar, which looks pretty substantial despite the ding, is aluminium. I thought it was steel. The guys offered to hang a spare wheel off it to give me 6 wheels altogether but that's the least of my concerns at the mo. So obviously I don't wanna have a head-on with a runaway road train hehe... I'll stick to runaway kookaburras... or very small kangaroos.

Anyway, I shook hands on the deal and they're gonna check with me again in about a month or so to see how my financial situation is. I told them about the carer's bonus due at the end of June. I think they'd be happy with half the cost to start, and the rest at the end of the job, which they said would take about 4 weeks. The sale of Bluey will help, of course, but I don't wanna sell Bluey until DB is ready to rock and roll.

So there you have it: if I go ahead with the deal, and I'm inclined to think I should, then I'll have a camper that's in pretty good nick and one that will last at least a few more years without any major concerns. Eeeek!

As I said to Averil, you either do it or you don't. There's no in between.

Beeb time: At least 10 people die after a magnitude-5.2 earthquake hits southern Spain near the town of Lorca, Murcia. And we never know where it's gonna happen next. Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich announces, via YouTube and Twitter, he will run for the US presidency in 2012. My money is on Obama. A new vaccine can protect macaques against the monkey equivalent of HIV and could provide a fresh approach to an HIV vaccine, a study suggests. Keep working on it, guys. I've lost a few friends to AIDS. Libyan rebels say they have captured Misrata airport, driving back troops loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi. Hundreds of rebels were celebrating in the streets after pro-Gaddafi forces fled, leaving behind tanks that were set on fire, witnesses said. Tank collectors will be pissed off about that. A Cambridgeshire boy has worn a skirt to school in a protest against what he said was "discrimination". Onya Chris, I admire your style

Well, pay day, bills day, shopping day and all that... and it's late now. Time for you know what. Lindsay said he was in the mood for "tasty" rissoles so I bought spicy chicken rissoles from Eddie's, the chicken shop... ground chicken fillet mixed with lemon and herbs and whatever... and crumbed. They look pretty good, so I'll serve them with... hehe... CHIPS. Hey, I'm the world's best chip maker so what's the biggie? Gary

May 11, 2011. Just printed L&S's share of fortnightly expenses. They get all meals and cooking, groceries (soap, toilet paper, detergent, etc), rent, lawnmowing and electricity for $90 a week each. How's that for a bargain? I pay half the rent, power and maintenance and a third of the groceries. I don't think those guys realize how well off they are. Mind you, I'm not doing too badly either.

Oregon Richie wrote to say reading the Waffle page is like getting ME. Well, yeah... being me is the only thing I'm any good at, soooo... there ya go. When I first started in radio I tried to sound like John Laws, a DJ in Sydney I admired. After about 2 weeks, I figured copying John Laws was a pretty dumb idea, so I settled for being myself. Years later, Laws resigned from 2UE and moved to 2UW, so 2UE recruited a DJ from Adelaide who sounded just like Laws. Big mistake. Sounding like the real thing is not the same as BEING the real thing. Ultimately, there's only one real thing... and that's being who you are - preferably with no excuses. You might not be as famous or successful as the next guy, but at least you're taking the line of least resistance hehe.

Here's a cartoon that appeared in a Brisbane (Oz) newspaper, The Courier Mail, and which Justin posted on his blog.

I couldn't have said it better.

Cartoonists are wonderful... they capture the essence of everything so cleverly and succinctly and with wicked humor. It makes me think about the choices we currently have in Oz politics... Pinocchio (Labor), Tarzan (Liberal) and Dagwood (Greens). BTW, imagine the Islamic reaction to that cartoon if it had depicted Mohammed and a bunch of Muslim clerics.

Beeb time: US President Barack Obama has called for broad reform of the US immigration system, while highlighting steps he has taken to strengthen border security. In Texas, Mr Obama backed a path to legal status for illegal immigrants, as well as crackdowns on employers who hire illegal workers. He called on the fractured Congress to reject "the usual Washington games" and enact a comprehensive overhaul. An estimated 11m illegal immigrants, most of them Hispanic, live in the US. That's half the population of Oz. Syria drops plans to run for a position on the UN Human Rights Council, diplomats say, following Damascus' crackdown on pro-democracy protests. Surprise, surprise. Microsoft confirms that it has agreed to buy internet phone service Skype for $8.5bn (£5.2bn) making the deal Microsoft's largest acquisition. I've never used it. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has criticised China's crackdown on dissent as "a fool's errand", saying Beijing is trying to halt history. In an interview with The Atlantic, Mrs Clinton also called the nation's human rights record "deplorable". She defended US dealings with Beijing, saying: "We live in the real world." The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says Mrs Clinton seemed to suggest the Chinese system itself would collapse and that democracy was inevitable. Well, I have a feeling she's right. Churchill said, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” He also said, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” The sons of Osama Bin Laden have criticised the US authorities for carrying out his "arbitrary killing". A statement given to the New York Times newspaper said the family wanted to know why the al-Qaeda leader had not been captured alive. Another statement appeared on a jihadist website saying the burial of Bin Laden at sea "demeans and humiliates his family". If I were the son of bin Laden I'd be too ashamed to admit it. Thousands of people are reported to be staying out of Rome for the next few days, over fears the city will be hit by a huge earthquake. The panic was sparked by rumours that seismologist Raffaele Bendandi, who died in 1979, predicted the city would be devastated by a quake on 11 May. Well, it's now May 11. Hello? The Mississippi River has peaked at just under 48ft (14.6m) in the southern US city of Memphis, the US national weather service has said. The city is coping with flood levels not seen since the 1930s, which have forced people from some 1,300 homes. Officials say they are confident flood control systems will prevent further harm, but warn it could take weeks for the floodwater to recede. Water is like fire... a wonderful friend but a terrible enemy. A man has committed suicide by jumping from the world's tallest skyscraper in Dubai, according to its owner. The man, in his 20s, fell from the 147th floor of the 2,717ft (828m) Burj Khalifa, landing on a deck on the 108th floor, local media reported. Reports on the websites of the Gulf News and 7 Days newspapers said the man had jumped after a dispute with his employer. Police statements showed that a holiday he had requested was turned down, the National reported. I read it but I don't believe it. Images of the Hindu goddess of wealth displayed on swimwear at an Australian fashion show have sparked a legal battle in India. The fashion show attracted worldwide media attention and was held in the Australian city of Sydney last week. Pictures of the controversial swimwear were published in many newspapers, leading to protests in towns and cities across India. Oh dear... we've done it again! We Aussies are notorious for not taking things too seriously. US carmaking giant General Motors announces plans to invest $2bn in the US, securing 4,000 jobs at 17 plants across the country. Way to go! 

Stan the Lawn Man is here making a bloody racket again, and I had to move Das Busse onto the street so he could mow the grass strip between the driveway paths. Why couldn't they have made one big concrete slab instead of twin paths? I dunno. Anyway, DB started okay and did all the right things. Meanwhile, the rust bloke hasn't turned up yet to give me a quote. Maybe he's not interested in the job.

I also spent 10 minutes sitting in Das Busse. Why? I'm trying to get used to the dimensions... accustomed to living in such a confined space. And the more I sit in there, the more comfortable I am about it. The word 'cramped' is giving way to the word 'compact', hehe. Everything is there; it's just that it takes about half a second to get to it all. Except the loo... that'll be outside in a tent. BUT, the loo/shower tent has no roof, which ain't gonna be too flash if it rains. Oh well... I could be the first person in the world to sit on the loo while holding an umbrella.

TX Greg is now searching the internet for a pic of a bloke sitting on the loo with an umbrella.

But back to Stan the Lawn Man. He's dangerous ya know. When I go outside to chat, he chases me with his whippersnipper. Or when he's finished, he chases me with his blower. He's been doing that for 10 years.

Anyway, it's getting late, and time to think about COOKING. I'll do porterhouse steaks and onions for THEM and I'll settle for leftover chicken. BTW, the Federal Budget was handed down last night, and we lucky pensioners will get a free set-top box when analogue TV ceases transmission in favor of digital TV next year. Whoopy do. I'll be on the road. A set-top box won't be any good to me cos I'll be using 12 volt. Besides, I can watch TV programs on the internet, including ABC News 24 as well as various programs on iView. AND, there's always radio. Gary

May 10, 2011. The Ultimate Dog Tease. This Youchewb vid has had almost 11 million hits so far.

Marcelle from Mid Coast Water sent me a map of Bootawa Water Treatment Plant (how to get there) and it's pretty straight forward. So I'm booked in for the tour, and photography is allowed. Years ago, I went with my sis in law and my mom to Warragamba Dam in Sydney... a huge facility, which it needs to be to provide water for millions of people in a major metropolis. The Warragamba Dam is in the Burragorang Valley. But this is a sleepy hollow by comparison so obviously Bootawa won't be as impressive. Nonetheless, it should be interesting.

One of the most impressive bodies of water I've seen is Lake Jindabyne, part of the Snowy River Hydro-electric Scheme. It makes Sydney Harbor look like a puddle. The lake is fed by melting snow from the Kosciuszko Alpine region that sits on the border between NSW and Victoria, and is one of about 11 dams in the area. Gets a bit chilly down there in winter, so I'll visit in summer.

Speaking of chilly, we're getting an early dose of winter here with cold winds coming from the south. Mind you, chilly here means single digit temps C (between 40 and 50F) in the mornings and late teens to 20C (70F) during the day. But when you consider that Townsville in Queensland is getting 15C in the mornings to 26C during the day (60F - 80F) I know where I'd rather be. What's more, that's where I WILL be on the Odyssey during winter. Latitude: 19°15'36"S Longitude: 146°49'01"E - the Tropic of Capricorn which runs through Northern Oz, Southern Africa and central South America.

Jaffle for lunch. These days they call them toasted sandwiches, and have electric toasters to make them. But mine is a long-handled cast-iron model made for campfires or stove tops. I've had it for years. I'm sure it'll come in handy on the Odyssey as well. It's indestructible. You can put absolutely anything in a jaffle... leftovers, canned stuff, cheese, whatever. And I never wash it. No, no, no. Scrape it, yes, but never wash it. The cast iron is well "seasoned" and nothing ever sticks.

Beeb time: The UN has expressed concern about the situation in the southern Syrian city of Deraa as a government crackdown on dissent continues. It said a humanitarian mission had not been allowed access to the city, and a UN agency had been unable to get medical supplies to refugees. Deraa has been cut off for the past two weeks, after troops and tanks were sent in to restore government control. I thought governments were supposed to represent the peoples' wishes. Yeah? Rebels in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata say they have pushed pro-Gaddafi troops back from its outskirts towards the capital, Tripoli. I'm rootin' for the Rebs. The recipient of America's first full face transplant says his newly regained sense of smell is among the top benefits of the surgery. Yeah... the things you miss when they're not there anymore. Pakistan is to launch an investigation into how Osama Bin Laden was able to live in the garrison city of Abbottabad undetected, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has told parliament. But he insisted that allegations of Pakistani complicity and incompetence were "absurd". I watched an Aussie interview with the former PM of Pakistan last night who suggests that bin Laden could not have lived in that residence for 6 years without being detected, even by neighbors. He might have a point. The South Pacific island nation of Samoa is to jump forward in time by one day in order to boost its economy. Samoa will do this by switching to the west side of the international date line, which it says will make it easier for it to do business with Australia and New Zealand. At present, Samoa is 21 hours behind Sydney. From 29 December it will be three hours ahead. The change comes 119 years after Samoa moved in the opposite direction. Well, well, well, how interesting. The US government has awarded $2bn (£1.2bn) for high-speed rail in critical corridors, after Florida's Republican governor declined the funds. The projects will boost rail services between Washington DC to Boston, as well as in the mid-west and California. Florida Governor Rick Scott cancelled a high-speed rail project in his state, fearing taxpayers there would have to subsidise the project in the future. President Barack Obama has made expanding rail services a priority. I've always thought rail makes sense. So did Aussie and US pioneers.

The longest trip I've made by rail so far is from Brisbane to Sydney. That was back in the mid '80s. I drove to Tweed Heads (just across the Queensland/NSW border) to connect with the train. Obviously there was a problem with common rail gauges back then, as there was between NSW and Victoria. That was one of the absurd legacies left over from the old colonial days before federation when all states were independent colonies. Anyway, it was a good trip. The car was loaded onto the back of the train, and I got a sleeper cabin. I had meals in the dining car and bought the Sunday paper at Newcastle to read on the rest of the trip back to Sydney, where my car was washed and delivered to me. Very civilized.

Well, of ALL people, I just met Robin from Sweden. He was here trying to sell me a new billing company for my power needs. But I changed over to a new company not long ago, AGL, which means I'm under contract for 2 years. Anyway, we got to chatting and I asked him where he was from. He's been touring Oz for 8 months... did the east coast trip from Cairns in Far North Queensland down through NSW and Victoria, and then across Bass Strait to Tasmania where he toured all over the Apple Isle. He said he's had a great time. He and a few mates did the whole trip by car (a Jeep), camping here and there in a tent, meeting all kinds of people. He said he's met travelers from 18 different countries so far, and made a lot of good friends. "We spent five days on Fraser Island, camped in a tent, and that was fantastic."

So I took him down the yard and showed him Das Busse while we discussed my situation. "I'm almost 110," I said, "and I worry that I'm getting too old for this kinda thing." But he laughed and told me I would never regret the experience. Then he added, "Do what you can while you can." That struck a chord and I said I'd have that painted across the back of the bus. "Do what you can while you can." He said he was having such a good time in Oz that he didn't want to go back to Sweden. "You'll mostly meet English, German and Japanese travelers," he said. So then I asked him, "You slept in a tent? What about when it rained?" "No worries. It was waterproof." I got the impression this young bloke was having too good a time to worry about little things like rain. "But you're young," I argued. And it was then that he said, "Do what you can while you can." He also said that one of the great pleasures of traveling is never knowing what any given day will bring. "You have breakfast and then the whole day is a new adventure." "But isn't that a bit scary?" "No! It's not scary at all. It's exciting!" Hehe.

So then he left. He was just outside the driveway when he turned and said, "Do it! You'll never regret it!"

Yes, I think Robin is right about making new friends easily as a traveler. Travelers automatically have a lot in common, and love to share their stories. Starting a friendly convo is no problem at all. I recall one episode in Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck, where he pulled into a service station to refuel and got chatting with the owner who said he envied Steinbeck's freedom... that he'd love to travel but that he couldn't because he had a business to run and certain other responsibilities. I got the feeling that the guy's excuse was a copout.

I asked Robin about his English, which was pretty good. He said English as a second language in Sweden is not very well taught, and that he used books and the internet to improve his skills. He also said that Japanese and some other travelers with little command of English still managed to communicate quite well by using body language and gestures. I had some experience of that when I met a couple of Japanese teens on a surfing holiday in Oz back in the '90s. Their English was very limited but that didn't stop us becoming good friends. I still remember clearly the smaller of the two baring his chest and saying, "Small but hard!" Hehe. He also said he worked in a "bootons" factory. Took me a while to work out that "bootons" were buttons. But it was all good fun, and I spent many a night laughing and joking with those two young blokes.

Actually, come to think of it, "Do What You Can While You Can" is not confined to travel. :o) It applies to everything in life. Seize the moment, as they say.

And so another Chewsday draws to a close. Fish and chips tonight. Gary

May 9, 2011. Oregon Richie enjoyed my little story yesterday about the Spitfire: I enjoyed the views about the mighty Spitfire.  That was a project that in its infancy came close to being canceled by the government but the eventual affairs of that nation proved it to be invaluable.  Pilots then and to this day speak in nearly awestruck hushed tones about what an incredible flying machine that was; an extension of their souls.  I have seen one fine example over at the Evergreen museum in the valley along with its chief dueling partner the Bf 109.  The 109 has "edge" to it and a certain hardness.  The Spit is smooth and sleek and the howling roar of the Merlin V-12 was unreal.  In the movie the "Battle of Britain" there is a scene of that disgusting swine Goering, all dressed up like the lunatic he was... head of the Luftwaffe... talking with his pilots in France, and asking them what more could he do for them.  One German pilot snapped to attention and said "Send us some squadrons of Spitfires".  Hmm.

For me, I find it curious that, at that time, the Brits were a very staid and traditional lot as evidenced by the style of cars they produced. And then along came the Spitfire, a totally radical design that still stacks up today.

Now, what do you think about a visit to Bootawa Dam and a tour of the local water treatment plant which provides the Manning/Great Lakes area with up to 60m liters of water a day, treated with a microfiltration process that doesn't need chemicals. Sound interesting? Hmmm. Maybe I should go and take a few piccies for the Odyssey. It's on May 24. I knew there had to be a dam around here somewhere but I didn't know where it was. It's out in the sticks on the upper reaches of the Manning River. By the time the Manning reaches this area it becomes tidal and saline... good for the fishing folks, not so good for a cuppa.

Beeb time: US President Barack Obama says Pakistan has to investigate if any of its officials knew Osama Bin Laden was in the hideout where he died last week. Fair enough. I'm a tad curious as well. Egypt's justice minister says the government will use "an iron fist" against those who threaten the country's security following violence between Muslims and Christians in Cairo. Iron fists don't work. Tolerance, understanding and conciliation are the things that work. Syrian security forces enter the city of Homs making a number of arrests, as nationwide operations continue against anti-government protests. Security? In Nazi Germany they were called the Waffen SS (Schutzstaffel) and their job was to stifle dissent by any means. Gunter Sachs - the German-born billionaire, art collector and former husband of Brigitte Bardot - has killed himself at the age of 78. Sachs's family said he shot himself at his chalet in the Swiss resort of Gstaad on Saturday. "Gunter Sachs always knew how to enjoy life," wrote the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung. "Those who knew him may very well believe that he wanted to end it quickly to cut short the suffering of old age." In that case, Sachs didn't really know how to enjoy all of life. John Walker, one of the founders of 1960s group The Walker Brothers, has died at the age of 67. His spokeswoman said Mr Walker died on Saturday at his Los Angeles home after a six-month battle with liver cancer. Their biggest hits included the songs Make It Easy On Yourself and The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Any More). Well, it will but John won't be around to see it. Lionel Rose, the first Australian Aboriginal boxer to win a world title, has died at the age of 62. Rose, who beat Japan's Fighting Harada in Tokyo in 1968 to win the world bantamweight title, had been ill for several months. He was named "Australian of the year" after his world title win, the first Aborigine to receive the honour. He also was appointed a member of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the same year. He finished his career with 42 wins in 53 fights, 12 of them by a knockout. Well done, Lionel.

Back from a bit of shopping, including Mr Minit for key cutting. I got two spare sets of keys for Das Busse. A bit more expensive than I expected at $50 but that's for a total of 6 keys; front/side door and ignition, back door, and petrol cap. I intend to hide one set on the body exterior but I have no idea where yet. That Mr Minit place is amazing... key cutting, shoe repair, engraving, watch service, plus lots of knick knacks.

When I first got TT I had one set of keys. One day, I opened the boot/trunk to rummage around for something and put the keys on the floor. Then I closed the boot without retrieving the keys. Oops! So I phoned the NRMA and the poor bloke had to first of all break into the car via the driver's door, and then detach the back seat from the frame (which took a bit of doing) and THEN had to poke a wire into the boot through the frame holes hoping to hook the key ring. He finally succeeded but not before I'd gone a bright shade of scarlet for being such a bloody dill. So then I decided to get a spare set of keys.

And that's it for Mondee. A quiet day. Leftover meatloaf and pumpkin/potato mash and gravy tonight. Nothing flash but it'll do the job, and it tastes good. Gary

May 8, 2011. I got a laugh outta watching this vid of a playful dog and a not-so-playful cockatoo. Hehe.

TX Greg, being the thoughtful little cherub he is, reminded me not to forget the bottle openers when I pack Das Busse. Thanks, Greg. That's very sweet of you. :-/

Meanwhile, NC Art wrote: Yep, cleaning up cowboy movie streets was a full time (job). Realism be hanged. Ladies in the audience might be offended, and small boys would be in hysterics waiting for Tonto's horse Scout to dump a great load. But you are right about the value of various forms of poop for fertilizing crops. Cow manure is wonderful, even tho getting the stuff to the fields is not too pleasant. Chicken droppings are great also, but stink to high heaven if spread before 'curing' awhile. And unfortunately the gift from the horse is too heavy with hard minerals unless well rotted with hay or dried grasses for weeks in sunshine. Still should not be used on garden produce such as lettuce, carrots, radishes and others that are yanked while tender and stuffed directly in the mouth. Trust me, I was born and reared on a farm.

As a kid my family used to visit relatives who owned a 50 acre property at Liverpool west of Sydney. They had a couple of cows and a few pigs, and lots of bushland. I remember well the fruit salad and fresh cream desserts! But I also remember my mother's disgust at hearing about the neighbors who had moved in next door to our rellos. They were Italians, and they used their own poo to fertilize their fruit and vegetable gardens. Hehe. That was back in the '50s when Greek and Italian migrants were treated with great suspicion.

Art also comments on female priests and American politics: I note that Pope Benny Seventh got your panties in a wad by dumping a Catholic priest over suggesting that females are worthy of ordination. That religion moves too slowly for the unaided eye to see. Then an American state is trying to pass a law that requires any woman seeking an abortion must undergo a sonogram and be shown her fetus in the womb. Then she must be advised on a raft of the horrors of taking a life. And a doctor--appointed by the state--must tell her a lot of things that are not true about hellish results to scare her into the nearest church maybe. One lie is a statistical absurdity about the number of women who commit suicide after the procedure. So much for the loud Republican claims of personal responsibility and freedom from meddling of government in private affairs. These politicians are too blind to see the contradiction. We've gone f*****g nuts!

PS: The celibacy rule was created after a bunch of popes married like normal humans; after the rule plenty of them had mistresses and bastard children all over the palace. One or more of these young lads followed dad to the papal throne. Three (known) popes were caught in flagrante and two died while in sexual ecstasy with a buxom wench.

Sorry to break the news, Art, but Americans don't have a monopoly on going nuts. Hehe.

Beeb time: The Pentagon has released home videos of Osama Bin Laden, seized at the secret Pakistani compound where he was shot dead by US commandos. The tapes show him watching himself on television, and preparing a video message addressed to the US. Check out the full story here. At least five people are killed and dozens more wounded during clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo, Egyptian officials say. And what, may I ask, do Muslims and Christians have in common? RAF war planes have destroyed rocket launchers and dozens of Scud-missile containers in Libya, the Ministry of Defence says. I heard someone comment on TV that Gadaffi is an obsessive power freak, and has no intention of letting go. Troops and tanks reportedly move into the Syrian city of Baniyas, centre of anti-government protests, with reports of six people killed. And Gadaffi is not the only one. The UK's wealthiest people have rebounded from the recession increasing their worth by 18% in the past year, the Sunday Times Rich List says. The economic crisis wiped £155bn from collective wealth of the 1,000 richest people in 2009, but they are now worth £395.8bn, according to the annual survey. The number of billionaires in the UK now stands at 73 - up from 53. It includes its first woman - Specsavers' Dame Mary Perkins. The 67-year-old is worth - along with husband Douglas and their family - £1.15bn, a 42% increase from last year. Yes, folks, all men are equal. Seve Ballesteros, one of golf's most gifted and charismatic players, has died after a long battle with cancer. The 54-year-old passed away surrounded by his family at his home in Pedrena, northern Spain, in the early hours of Saturday morning. Ballesteros was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008 after losing consciousness at Madrid Airport. The five-time major winner had four operations to remove the tumour as well as undergoing chemotherapy. The Big C strikes again. How sad. 

Checking prices of RV awnings and stuff and came across this motorhome conversion company with a selection of used campers for sale, mostly around the $30,000+ mark for the economy models. There's one "starter" similar to mine but with more gear @ $15,000, but I'm hoping another $5000-ish spent on Das Busse will bring it up to scratch. Take away what I get for selling Bluey and I've got me a bargain, yes? That's the theory.

I watched an interesting doco on TV last night about an American collector of classic cars and various other machinery who bought a British Spitfire for a million bucks, and then spent a few hundred thou restoring it. There was no way he could fly it to his home in Florida (they were designed for short range flights over the English Channel) so he had it dismantled (very carefully) and shipped in a specially designed container by sea, and then transported by road to his display warehouse where it was reassembled (also very carefully). Then it was taken for a test flight to tweek bits and pieces such as the ailerons before the new owner took the controls. He was thrilled beyond belief, and heaped praise on the design and engineering of one of the world's classic aircraft, especially the elliptical design of its wings. I've never heard a bad word said by anyone about the legendary Spitfire (although I don't think the Germans were too thrilled about them hehe). Pilots say they are incredibly responsive to the controls and are a joy to fly. It's amazing to think that technology is 70 years old and still impressive.

Right, pies are in the oven, stage 1 of the chips is done, stage 1 of the scrambled eggs (for Sue) is done, and the tomato is sliced. I should be a cook in a roadside diner ya know. I could make a grand a week. Easy. And I could meet a few truckies. Hehe. Yeah, right. If a big hairy truckie put the hard word on me I'd be outta there in a flash!

Wanna see my truck?
Why not?
Cos I don't like trucks.
You'll like my truck.
No, no, no, no, no!
You're just playing hard to get.


May 7, 2011. Satdee again already! Oregon Richie was chuffed with the pilot convos yesterday and sent me this link to the story of The Long Way Home by a Pacific Clipper after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII. I well remember those flying boats. They were operated by Qantas out of Rose Bay in Sydney Harbor for many years.

And on the subject of WWII, NC Art wrote: Old war memories came back as you wrote of naval special forces. Armies have counterparts and have for a long while. A lesson I quickly learned while mixing with troops from several nations was to keep a good distance from Aussie and Canuck Rangers. They were big, quiet, and could sort out a bar fight without breathing hard. My co-pilot tangled with one and got pretty banged up for his trouble.

Canuck? A slang term for Canadian.

Art also says cowboys didn't restrict their diet to canned beans: There was also bacon--until it turned rancid from hot days in leather saddlebags. Ugh!

The only animal to have tamed a horse and use it for transport is man. How's that for cluey? If you wanna run faster and cover longer distances, throw a leg over a horse. Horses have four legs and their bodies are horizontal, which explains why Australian Aborigines never saddled up a kangaroo. Boing. boing, boing! But it's only fairly recently that it occurred to me I never saw a Hollywood western with horse poo in the main street of town. Lots of ladies in long dresses crossing the street but no horse poo. And when the director took a wide shot of the stranger riding into town, the whole street was swept clean as a whistle. It was my trip to Timber Town not far from here that made me realize how much horse and bullock poo is part of the scene.

I remember as a kid the horse-drawn carts that delivered milk, bread and ice to our street. The horse poo never lasted long on the road. Neighbors would rush out with their shovels and buckets and scoop it up for their garden while it was still warm. My mother never did that. She probably thought it was too undignified.

Beeb time: US President Barack Obama has met the military team that killed Osama Bin Laden and praised their mission as "one of the greatest military operations in our nation's history". He also vowed the US would defeat the al-Qaeda terror network Bin Laden led. Earlier, al-Qaeda confirmed the death of Bin Laden, according to a statement attributed to the group posted online. Meanwhile, documents found at Bin Laden's compound suggest al-Qaeda was planning further US attacks. Officials are examining computers, DVDs, hard drives and documents seized from the Abbottabad home where Bin Laden may have hidden for up to six years. One planned attack targeted a US rail route, US officials revealed, although no imminent threat was detected. How embarrassing for al-Qaeda... somebody has been snooping! At least 13 people have been killed in anti-government protests in Syrian cities, human rights activists say. At least six people were killed in Homs, campaigners say, with deaths also reported in Hama. A prominent dissident was reportedly arrested in Damascus. President Bashar al-Assad's government has said it is taking decisive action against terrorists and criminals. You got it wrong, Bashar. They're not terrorists and criminals. More than one tonne of ivory has been seized at Nairobi's international airport, Kenyan police have said. About 115 elephant tusks were found by sniffer dogs inside metal containers bound for an address in Nigeria. It was the largest seizure in recent months, police said. Last year, two tonnes of ivory and five rhino horns were found at Nairobi's airport. If it weren't for the end users, it wouldn't happen. Anyone found with new ivory should be jailed. Sir Paul McCartney is to marry his girlfriend of four years. The former Beatle, who is 68, has become engaged to 51-year-old New York businesswoman Nancy Shevell, who will become his third wife. Sir Paul's first wife, Linda, died of cancer in 1998. He married Heather Mills in 2002 and divorced in 2008. Ms Shevell was married for more than 20 years to American lawyer and political candidate Bruce Blakeman. All you need is love, da dee da dee dum... At least 12 people have been killed in a US drone strike in the troubled Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan, officials have said. It is the first such attack since US commandos killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in a fortified compound in the north-western town of Abbottabad. The raid on Monday heightened tensions between Islamabad and Washington. Be careful you don't bite the hand that feeds you, Islamabad. A row has broken out in Australia over reports it plans to reopen a controversial processing centre for asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea. PM Julia Gillard has not confirmed this but a PNG minister said a request to house a centre had been made. The Manus Island centre was part of the so-called "Pacific solution" adopted by the John Howard government. This is the second backflip Gillard has done. First, the carbon tax, and now the "Pacific Solution". She's an opportunist - says one thing and then does another - and I don't like her one bit. The sooner she's gone, the better. Her minority government is only there because of the support of independents... and the sooner they're gone the better also. Besides that, she's got a Pinocchio nose, and we all know what that means.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has removed Australian Bishop William M. Morris of Toowoomba from office five years after he wrote a pastoral letter indicating he would be open to ordaining women and married men if church rules changed to allow such a possibility.

Well, you see, dear Breth, Jesus chose only men to be his apostles. He preferred blokes. And the reason for that (funny he never married) is because woman are unclean, which explains why Mary became pregnant without any assistance from Joseph. She remained a virgin. Sex is a no no, you know. We can't have blokes porking Christ's mom. It's okay for blokes to pork women who give birth to ordinary humans but not the son of God. No, no, no, can't have that. It's undignified. Celibacy is the norm for priests in the Latin rite, such as Pope Benny. All that pumping and grinding and sweating and grunting is not the kind of activity that befits a man of the cloth. The Virgin Birth was the world's first case of in vitro fertilization. No naughty bits involved. Apart from that, the priesthood is an exclusive men's-only club because men are clean. Right, Benny?

Actually, I find it quite odd that a bloke like God, who never had sex with anyone, and has no need for a penis, created such a bizarre method of reproduction. I mean it's not as if he got the idea from watching porn movies or anything like that because they didn't exist at the time.

I'd love to post a comment like that on Justin's blog but he'd break out in boils if I did.

When I was a kid I had a thing about cubby houses. I even built a couple, one with a secret compartment under the floor. Now of course I'm all grown up and mature and sensible and have left all those childish things behind. ...Almost. When no one was looking, I took my Sony portable stereo down to Das Busse and played a CD of my favs... one of those Kellys Kompilations I did years ago. And I sat there listening to the music and wondered what it might be like if I were parked out in the sticks somewhere. I concluded that home is where your THINGS are... your music, your laptop, your cameras, your clothes, your food and drink, your bits and pieces... all the things that make a house a home. Have you ever moved house and taken one last look at the place before leaving? It's weird to see that empty space. The house is still there but the home is gone. The soul is gone. Know what I mean?

So I figure once Das Busse is loaded up with all my THINGS (well, the ones that fit), I'll feel differently about it. Campervans have limited storage. So I figure extra baggage will have to be stored in the area not being used. For example, when I stop to camp, a whole bunch of stuff like folding chairs and tables will be moved outside under the awning. If it rains, they'll all have to come back inside which will bugger up my living/sleeping space. So I'm gonna have to become an expert at logistics... this goes here when I'm doing this, and that goes over there when I'm doing that. I have a feeling that the driver's cabin is gonna be piled high with stuff when I'm camped to get it outta the way of my living space. Sounds like a lotta fun, yes? Never mind, I'll figure it all out. And when I do, ladies and genitals, I'll take some piccies so you can see what a wonderful time I'm having. And if I look a bit frazzled you'll understand why. Hehe.

Oh dear... me and my dumb ideas.

So what's on the menu tonight? Pork loin chops and onions for THEM and... well, I dunno yet. There's leftover meatloaf and leftover chicken, or there's Dhal Tadka, a spicy Indian lentil soup which I really like... and I'm not all that hungry anyway. Trouble is, my bum will be on fire tomorrow morning. Hehe. That Indian stuff goes through you like molten lava. But it tastes good. Actually, it tastes bloody wicked. I love all Asian cooking but THEY don't, so I don't get to have it all that often. I love Italian cooking as well.

The other day Lindsay asked for a change from chips. "How about rice?" "No, don't like rice." "How about pasta?" "No, don't like pasta." "How about vegetables?" "No, don't like vegetables." Woe is me.

I used to make my own pizzas until Sue said, "I eat them but I don't like them." I used to make Tacos until they both said, "No, we don't like them." They don't like bolognaise (and I make the best), they don't like sweet and sours, they don't like curries, they don't like this, they don't like that. Well, bugger 'em. And then they turn around and ask for "something different". Hehe. I deserve a medal. Honestly, those Seal blokes who wasted Osama bin Laden have got it easy compared to what I have to put up with. They wouldn't last a week here.

And that's it for Satdee, folks. Gary

May 6, 2011. Time for a few giggles. NC Art forwarded these excerpts from pilot convos with ground control and other pilots:

Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!" 
Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"

Tower: "TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 degrees." 
TWA  2341: "Center, we are at 35,000 feet.. how much noise can we make up here?" 
Tower: "Sir,  have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?" 

From  an unknown aircraft waiting in a very long takeoff  queue:  "I'm bored!" 
Ground Traffic Control: "Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself immediately!" 
Unknown aircraft: "I said I was bored, not stupid!" 

O'Hare  Approach Control to a 747: "United 329 heavy, your traffic is a Fokker, one o'clock, three miles,  Eastbound." 
United 329: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this....I've got the little Fokker in sight."

A  student became lost during a solo cross-country  flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on  radar, ATC asked,"What was your last known position?" 
Student: "When I was number one for takeoff." 

A  DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an  exceedingly long roll out after touching down. 
San  Jose Tower Noted: "American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadalupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the airport."

A Pan Am 727 flight, waiting for start clearance in Munich , overheard the following: 
Lufthansa (in German): "Ground, what is our start clearance time?" 
Ground (in English): "If you want an answer you must speak in English." 
Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany . Why must I speak English?"
Unknown voice from another plane (in a beautiful British accent): "Because you lost the bloody war!" 

Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on frequency 124.7." 
Eastern 702: "Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way, after we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of the runway." 
Tower:  "Continental  635, cleared for takeoff behind Eastern 702, contact Departure on frequency 124.7. Did you copy that report from Eastern 702?" 
Continental  635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we copied Eastern. We've already notified our caterers."

One day the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short of the active runway while a  DC-8 landed. The DC-8 landed, rolled out, turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee. Some  quick-witted comedian in the DC-8 crew got on the radio and said, "What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?" 
The  Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with a real zinger: "I made it out of DC-8 parts. Another landing like yours and I'll have enough parts for another one." 

The  German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are  renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location, but  how to get there without any assistance from them. So it was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt  ground control and a British Airways 747, call sign Speedbird 206.
Speedbird  206: " Frankfurt , Speedbird 206. Clear of active runway.." 
Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven."
The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop. 
Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?" 
Speedbird  206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now." 
Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?" 
Speedbird  206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark...... and I didn't land."

While  taxiing at London 's Gatwick Airport ,  the crew of a US Air flight departing for Ft. Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose  with a United 727. An  irate female ground controller lashed out at the US Air crew, screaming:  "US Air 2771, where the hell are you going? I told you to turn right onto Charlie taxiway! You turned right on Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the difference between C and D, but get it right!" Continuing her rage to the embarrassed crew, she was now  shouting hysterically: "God! Now you've screwed everything up! It'll take forever to sort this out! You stay right there and don't move till I tell you to! You can expect progressive taxi instructions in about half an hour, and I want you to go exactly where I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you! You got that, US Air 2771?" 
"Yes, ma'am,"  the  humbled crew responded. 
Naturally, the ground control communications frequency fell  terribly silent after the verbal bashing of US Air  2771. Nobody wanted to chance engaging the irate ground controller in her current state of mind. Tension in every cockpit out around Gatwick was definitely running high. Just then, an unknown pilot broke the silence and keyed his microphone, asking: "Wasn't I married to you once?" 

Art also tells me: The Associated Press reported this morning that a New Mexico Apache leader has demanded an apology from Washington over the use of Geronimo as a code word for the operation that took down Osama bin Laden. The complaint is that it is scandalous to associate a ruthless mass murderer with the revered warrior Geronimo. Well, I suppose in their view, the killing that brave did was simply defending Native American rights. I can see their point, but the white settlers and a bunch of soldiers are still dead. Aborigines don't get a fair shake anywhere!

No they don't. If they did, it would be you and me living on a reservation instead of them.

Through my kitchen window I can see an NRMA roadside assistance van attending to a motorist who can't get his car started. Those NRMA blokes are worth their weight in gold, ya know. They started out back in the '20s with bicycles, then graduated to motorcycles. Later they were equipped with vans. I called the NRMA way back in '62 when my Morris broke down, and the bloke organized a tow truck. Then he gave me a lift home in his Morris J van. Mind you, I was a young spunk then. I wouldn't even get a bloody bus ticket these days.

The bloke who sold me the power steering kit is thinking about relisting his brand new engine on eBay at a starting price of $2750. He said I could have it for that price plus delivery, which is a damn good deal. But I explained that I'm waiting on a quote for rust and body repair, and that if it's over the top I'll sell the van and cut my losses. In any case, if I do go ahead with body repairs, I'll be skint for the next several months until I save enough for mechanicals, etc. So he said if I sell the van, I won't need the power steering kit, and offered to refund my money. How's that for a nice bloke? That's the last thing I expected! Anyway, we'll see what happens.

Beeb time: US President Barack Obama lays a wreath at Ground Zero in New York, telling firefighters America will "never forget" the 9/11 attacks. And neither will the rest of the world. The men assigned to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden were part of the US Navy's legendary special forces unit, the Seals. Who are they? It was years in the planning but took just 40 minutes to execute. From the US point of view, the mission, codenamed Geronimo, could hardly have gone any better, a reflection on the preparation and skills of the men who carried it out. Read the full article here. Brazil's Supreme Court has voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing same-sex couples the same legal rights as married heterosexuals. The decision was approved by 10-0 with one abstention. Brazil is the world's most populous Roman Catholic nation and has an estimated 60,000 gay couples. Ooer! I wonder what Pope Benny will have to say about that! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are to pay an official visit to the US following their first overseas tour to Canada this summer. Prince William and his new wife will extend the trip with a three-day visit to California from 8-10 July, said their spokesman. While the prince has previously visited the States in a private capacity, this will be the duchess's first trip to the country. What war of independence? Oh, THAT one! Hey, that happened a long time ago. A 97-year-old Hungarian accused of massacring civilians in Serbia in 1942 has gone on trial in Hungary. Sandor Kepiro was listed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center as the world's most wanted Nazi war crimes suspect. Never let the bastards rest. Seven detainees at an Australian immigration centre in Sydney have been charged in connection with a riot. The men are accused of several offences including affray and destroying property at the Villawood detention facility last month. Do the crime, do the time. I have no sympathy for those people. It may seem strange that humans have evolved from fish, but the evidence can be found not just in fossils but also within our own bodies. Your face is your most expressive feature; it tells the world what you are feeling, who you are and where you come from. Although no two faces are exactly the same, they share a number of common characteristics; a couple of eyes, a nose, a mouth and a philtrum. The philtrum is the groove on your top lip that lies just beneath your nose. You see it every day in the mirror so you probably never think about it. It has no obvious function. Instead it is an accident of our origins, a clue to our fishy past and how our faces first formed. Read the full article here. The world's last known combat veteran of World War I, Claude Choules, has died in Australia aged 110. Known to his comrades as Chuckles, British-born Mr Choules joined the Royal Navy at 15 and went on to serve on HMS Revenge. He moved to Australia in the 1920s and served in the military until 1956. There ya go Art, you've only got 25 years left. US carmaker General Motors' first quarter profit more than triples, helped by rising car sales and the sale of assets. Good to see the General back in biz. 

The story about the Merry Can Seals is interesting. I watched a doco on Oz TV about the training of our own special forces, and trust me, if those guys didn't measure up 100% they were out. Some of them simply couldn't handle the constant punishment and opted out of the course, even during the latter stages. Only the absolute cream got the nod. As I remember, they were navy guys... lots of diving missions as well as land training. One of the training aspects that really got to me was how the trainees were constantly abused and ridiculed by their superiors despite their best efforts. It was obvious they had to rise above psychological pressures as well as physical in order to make the grade. No wonder they're referred to as the elite.

Reminds me of the movie, The Dirty Dozen.

Okies, time for a tongue twister. Say out loud three times in quick succession 'Irish Wristwatches'.

Chicken schnitzels and fresh corn cobs tonight. I absolutely love corn cobs, smothered in butter with a sprinkle of ground pepper. Certain things will always be in Das Busse's pantry... corn cobs, potatoes, tomatoes and onions. Can't do without those! And they keep well. Rice and flour are also important. For example, where do you get fresh bread out in the sticks? No wukkers. Flour, salt, sugar, butter and milk. Make a dough, roll it into a ball and put it on the end of a stick over a fire. And there you have it. Fresh damper (Aussie bush bread). You can also bake it in a camp oven. I reckon you could also flatten it into thin rounds and fry it like a pancake. Why not?

Remember the old cowboy movies where the drifter would stop to camp somewhere overnight, light a fire and open a can of beans? Well, that cowboy wasn't too bright. I quite like beans, but there's a limit to how many times you can eat beans for dinner. I intend to be a little more adventurous with my culinary exploits.

As a kid, I always thought it was interesting that a cowboy sitting by his campfire at night would welcome a stranger who might happen by to share his coffee by the light of his fire, which was his private "space" - his home for the night. In the morning light, the space defined by the firelight would vanish and his private domain would cease to exist. Maybe that's why we need walls made of something more permanent. Even an awning at the side of Das Busse will define my space. It's one of those territorial instincts we inherit from our ancestors. So I'll have to remember to pee on the pegs each time I erect the awning.

Speaking of bush foods, our regular lemon tree has died in the bum but the bush lemon tree is fruiting. Bush lemons have a thick crinkly skin but what the hell. They taste like lemons, and I LOVE lemon squeezed on chicken schnitzel. Mental note: add lemons to Das Busse's pantry. Gary

May 5, 2011. Oregon Richie was not a big fan of Osama bin Laden: There continues to be non-stop news here about the operation which finally wasted OBL.  Facing one's fate in the barrel of a modern-day sword of recriprocal justice is certainly just as concerns THAT evil bastard.  Dunno if his last thoughts were of the idyllic afterlife full of more psychos and wives or any other paradise was in his mind or that if his terror made him think twice about all the people he forced to happily march off to that fate made him think twice or if he actually paused to realize that he really was a sick murderous evil bastard and kind of muttered "Oh, shit...." to himself but I don't care.  I doubt that these incredible elite forces types lost their sense of control or discipline and whether he was armed with an UZI or a flyswatter matters to me naught.  He cost the world thousands upon thousands of unjust deaths, incredible damage, literally billions of dollars, and set millions of people at each others throats...... to put it in context.  Story ended.

NC Art wasn't a big fan either: It isn't surprising to hear all the claptrap opinionating over Osama B. L., but it is useless. I am all for due process of law, etc., but some situations just do not resolve that tidily. Did that merry band of murderers notify the Mayor of  New York City about the fine points of international law before executing innocents in the demolishing of several blocks of expensive real estate? War makes fine distinctions irrelevant. A priest asked me twenty years ago how I handled the guilt of killing citizens in air raids over Nazi Germany. I did not enjoy it at all, but those possible deaths meant that many others could live free at war's end. He had never thought of that possibility, and shut up about it.

War makes fine distinctions irrelevant. Yes, it does. And if it didn't we Aussies would all be speaking Japanese and driving Toyotas. Hang on... scratch the Toyota bit.

My feeling is that America had a job to do. There was no way America was gonna let a bloke organize and carry out an event like 9-11 and get away with it. If bin Laden had lived out his life as an old man without being caught, it would have made America look foolish and impotent - not to mention vulnerable. The capture and death of bin Laden is more symbolic than anything else. It won't stop the fundamentalist loonies from causing mayhem but at least the evil bastard got his comeuppance, and has ceased to haunt the American psyche.

As to the question; is the world a safer place now that OBL is dead? Well, would it have been any safer with him still alive? It's interesting to me that the special forces gave OBL's body a Muslim burial at sea, which is a sign of at least some respect. I can't see Muslim extremists giving a Christian victim a Christian burial.

Here's an old WWII vet with 4 sons, one of whom is gay, talking about marriage equality.

Beeb time: President Barack Obama has decided that photos of the dead Osama Bin Laden should not be released. US officials had been discussing whether to publish pictures of Bin Laden's body to counter conspiracy theories that he did not die. But Mr Obama believed the images could inflame sensitivities, saying: "We don't trot out this stuff as trophies." Fair enough. I'm not sure I'd wanna see them anyway. An international aid ship helping to evacuate people from the besieged Libyan port of Misrata has come under rocket attack from government forces. Witnesses said at least five people died and there was widespread panic among those trying to board the ferry, the Red Star One. Amid the chaos about 200 people were left behind when the ship sailed for Benghazi, rebel sources said. Meanwhile, the world continues on its merry way

Well, it's a funny old world, ladies and genitals, a funny old world indeed. As Jesus Christ said on the cross, "Forgive them Father for they're a bunch of bloody dickheads." Well, if he had been an Aussie, that's what he would have said. And on the third day, he would have asked for a carton of Fosters to take with him to heaven.

Meanwhile, 12 prawns have sacrificed their lives so that L&S and I can have dinner tonight. I don't think the hash browns suffered too much. Anyway, it's too bad if they did. Gary

May 4, 2011. My mother's birthday. She would have been 103 if she were still alive. She died in 1991.

To my left there's a door. To my right there's my bedroom window through which I can see part of Das Busse's poptop, a lemon tree, the corrugated iron roof of the house next door, and a tall tree beyond that. Not very thrilling. I'm trying to imagine what I might see through DB's sliding door on the Odyssey as I type my journal. At the mo, it would be the lemon tree because she's parked in the yard, but on the Odyssey it could be anything... and everything. I need to keep reminding myself of those possibilities because I often have negative thoughts about living the vagabond life - the dangers, the uncertainties, the risks... my older bro saying, "I wouldn't do it... you never know what might happen." He was referring to health issues.

But then I read anecdotes from travelers who say they've had the most wonderful experience of their lives. Hehe.

I've always had that negative voice trying to spoil the party. Back in my radio days it was, "What if I stumble? What if I don't know how to pronounce something correctly? What if I make a mistake? What if I need to swallow half way through the voice over? What if the client doesn't like my script?" And so on.

I wonder what goes through an astronaut's mind during the countdown, or an athlete's mind before the starter's gun fires. Anyway, like I said, I need to keep reminding myself of the positives, like the view through Das Busse's sliding door. Or something like this. Or this, the famous Todd River Regatta on a dry creek bed. Or something like this. :o)

Beeb time: Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed by US troops on Sunday after resisting capture, the White House has said. The CIA said it did not tell Pakistan about the raid in advance over fears they would jeopardise the mission. Pakistan denies any prior knowledge of the raid - its intelligence agency says it is embarrassed by its failures. The CIA is already examining material seized in the raid, including computer hard drives, DVDs and other documents. Well, the people in the WTC towers weren't armed either. And quite frankly I don't blame the CIA for not telling Pakistan about the raid. The code name for the operation to capture Osama Bin Laden was Geronimo. Why was it named after one of the best-known Native Americans? Read the article here. News of Osama Bin Laden's killing by US forces in Abbottabad is on the front page of practically every leading Pakistani and Indian newspaper - with pages of coverage devoted to his death and its likely impact. Columnist Kamran Shafi, writing in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, says that the circumstances of Bin Laden's death will embarrass the authorities. "Certainly, the astonishing manner in which the operation that resulted in Bin Laden's death - the news of what had happened… leaves us all gasping in astonishment," the editorial said. "It is hard to believe that foreign aircraft could have flown so deep into our territory undetected and unanticipated." Another editorial, this time in The Nation says that Bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad has not only exposed Pakistan's flawed security measures, "but has also busted the bubble of foolproof security measures in Pakistan's military hub". The Statesman says that official denials over Bin Laden's presence in Pakistan has hampered efforts to deal forcefully with the so-called Pakistani Taliban, with which al-Qaeda is said to have links. "Tens of thousands of people have died in Pakistan as a result of terrorist activity since 9/11, more than all the European and American victims combined," it says. "Given this context, and amid predictions by Western commentators of possible terrorist retaliation against US and British targets, it is Pakistanis, along with Afghans, who are most likely to pay a blood price in terms of revenge attacks for the slaying of a man who is seen by some in the Muslim world as an iconic figure." Undoubtedly so. Amnesty International publishes satellite images of what it says are North Korea's political prison camps, saying they appear to be growing in size. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Read about life in a North Korean camp here. Japan's Nissan Motor has won a contract to provide the next generation of New York's famous yellow taxis. The deal, which is estimated to be worth $1bn (£607m) was announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The design will be based on Nissan's NV200 minivan model. The van, which beat US carmaker Ford Motor and Turkish manufacturer Karsan Otomotiv for the 10-year contract, will be phased in starting in 2013. Who would have believed that on September 2, 1945, aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri, when officials from the Japanese government signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, ending World War II. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi to step down "for the sake of the country's future". Mr Erdogan said the Libyan leader had ignored the wishes of his people by using force against them. You tell 'em, Recep Tayyip. The brutal killing of a South African lesbian activist has been condemned as a hate crime by Human Rights Watch. The US-based group has urged the police to do more to find those responsible for the recent murder and rape of Noxolo Nogwaza. She was stoned and stabbed on 24 April after a row in a bar in KwaThema township, east of Johannesburg. Activists say gay South African women are targeted for what some call "corrective rape". Corrective rape? How absurd. That's the kind of logic you get from morons.

I heard a bloke on talk-back radio a little while ago criticize the "home invasion" and murder of Osama bin Laden without due process through the courts. So I did a bit of Googling.

There have been many media reports since 2001 that Osama bin Laden is "probably" dead, that he was suffering an untreated lung complication or  kidney disease and/or diabetes, and that he died sometime in December 2001. Various tapes released by Al-Qaeda in the name of bin Laden are voice only. According to a media report, the last video of bin Laden was released December 27, 2001. The video was dismissed by the Bush administration as sick propaganda possibly designed to mask the fact the al-Qa'eda leader was already dead. "He could have made the video and then ordered that it be released in the event of his death," said one White House aide.

Well, if bin Laden was already dead, then who was the dude shot by American special forces in a Pakistani compound the other day, and then whisked away to be buried at sea?

There are those who question the legality of the American covert operation on foreign soil without Pakistani permission, and the shooting of an unarmed man before disposing of his body at sea rather than capturing him alive and bringing him to justice in a court of law.

Now there's something to think about.

Meanwhile, I have to think about feeding my own troops. Meatloaf tonight... good old fashioned meatloaf with potato and pumpkin mash and peas and gravy. I use a mix of sausage meat and ground beef with finely chopped onion, carrot and celery, plus a few herbs. And I spray the top with a little cooking oil so that it forms a nice crust in the oven. Mmmm. Gary

May 3, 2011. No wonder NC Art is 85. He has to make the most of his watch: Thanks for the exposition on time. I remember the 30=day automatic watches, but now wear one so damned smart it keeps the correct time no matter what. The thing is controlled by a radio signal from a military station on a mountain top in Colorado. And I don't need to worry about being late to an appointment; It will not lose or gain a second in one million years. How wonderful; I can't wait to see who to sue when  I check the time on May 2, 908,000. Timing is controlled by the radioactive decay rate of Cesium. More wonderful?

Wikipedia: Two German chemists, Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff, discovered caesium in 1860 by the newly developed method of flame spectroscopy. The first small-scale applications for caesium have been as a "getter" in vacuum tubes and in photoelectric cells. In 1967, a specific frequency from the emission spectrum of caesium-133 was chosen to be used in the definition of the second by the International System of Units. Since then, caesium has been widely used in atomic clocks.

Robert Bunsen? Was he the bunsen burner person? I remember those things from science class at school. BTW, the previous owner of Das Busse tells me the gas bottle is full.

Well, my Citizen is a Singapore cheapie, day/date, automatic, 21 jewel movement, sweep hand. No battery to replace, nothing to wind. Provided I keep moving around, it'll keep going. It gains about a minute a week and requires adjustment at the end of months with less than 31 days but other than that, it's a great watch. It has a plain black face and stainless steel bracelet... nothing fancy or showy.

I wonder what kind of watch Obama wears, or Prince William, or Betty Windsor? Some watches are designed to be fashion statements, or an indication of the wearer's wealth and status. Others are meant to dazzle with their myriad of dials and knobs. Others can keep perfect time 30 meters below the surface of the ocean. Sheesh. Mine's a pensioner's watch... it tells the day, date and time, and that's it. And it's not meant to go into the shower with you.

As to fashion statements, I like gym boots. As a kid, I thought they were Jim boots because my mate up the road, Jim, wore them. They don't need to be ankle high, though. I like the simple rounded toe and no-fuss approach, and I like the color combo of blue and white in canvas or denim. Otherwise, I don't wear fashion statements... I wear non-fashion statements. The program director at a radio station I worked for back in the mid '80s said, "You always look such a dag." Hehe. Her nickname was Diamond Lil, so you can imagine what she looked like.

Just got an email from the bloke who sold me the power steering kit. He's been unwell but is now on the case to organize a courier. No worries. I can wait.

Beeb time: US President Barack Obama has hailed the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden as a "good day for America," saying the world is now a safer and a better place. Bin Laden was killed in a raid by US special forces on a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. He was buried at sea after a Muslim funeral on board an aircraft carrier in the north Arabian Sea, Pentagon officials said. Good thinking 99. We don't want a burial site to become a shrine for the asshole of all assholes. Meanwhile, there will be reprisals. The death of bin Laden will intensify Islamic fundamentalists' hatred of Infidels - if that's possible. Syrian security forces killed 10 people and arrested 499 others in house-to-house raids in Deraa on Sunday, an army spokesman has said. Residents said men aged between 15 and 40 were being arrested, handcuffed and bussed to a detention centre. Later, police broke up a protest by a group of women in the capital Damascus. Rights groups say 560 people have been killed across the country in protests against the repressive rule of President Bashar al-Assad. Shades of Nazi Germany. And we all know what happened to Adolf. The funeral of Col Gaddafi's youngest son, Saif al-Arab, killed after an air strike over the weekend, is held in Tripoli amid calls for revenge. Revenge is like kicking a stone over the edge of a cliff. It ends up becoming an avalanche. Be careful what you wish for Gaddafi supporters. The leaders of African countries where al-Qaeda has staged attacks, such as Kenya, Tanzania and Mali, have welcomed the killing by US forces in Pakistan of Osama Bin Laden. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said it brought justice for al-Qaeda's victims. Some 224 people, mostly Kenyans, were killed in the twin bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and in Tanzania's main city Dar es Salaam in 1998. Bin Laden was an asshole leader of other assholes. Period. Stock markets reverse their earlier gains and oil prices rise after US President Barack Obama says Osama Bin Laden is dead. The sun and the wind and the tides don't belong to the Middle East. That's what we need to keep in mind. 

My brain is not performing very well today... gone on strike. Oh well, maybe it'll work better tomorrow. Gary

May 2, 2011. Very interesting article on Justin's blog about a prominent US law firm refusing to defend the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. The article then goes on to discuss the "evolution" of gay rights.

TX Greg sent this pic of a Kombi sidecar. How cute is that? I think it's awesome!

BTW, have I mentioned before that Oz has its very own Texas? So there ya go, who said there were no kangaroos in Texas? Meanwhile, isn't it remarkable that Volkswagen created two of the most internationally recognizable automotive icons in the history of motoring - the Beetle and the original Kombi. I seriously doubt that anything like that will ever happen again.

NC Art wants to know what a carer's bonus is. Well, I'm Sue's carer. Sue is married to Lindsay. I care for them both but I only get paid for Sue by the government in the form of a carer's pension. It saves the government a packet. Both Sue and Linsday are on disability pensions. In other words, that's what I do for a living. And once a year the government gives all carers a bonus to show its appreciation for our good work (and saving them a fortune in professional carer costs in institutions - something in the vicinity of $50,000 per person per year). The bonus, by the way, is about $1600. The carer pension is a bit less than $24,000 per annum.

L&S are off the booze now, and reasonably well behaved, so if Lindsay stays on the straight and narrow after I'm gone, he could take over where I left off, and care for Sue. That's up to him. Otherwise, Sue would be institutionalized and perhaps Lindsay as well. Sobriety will be the key. Meanwhile, after I go, I'll be on a regular age pension, which is considerably less than what I get now.

Art also wants to know: What's with changing day/date at weird intervals? These mentions have been noted several times, and I don't know what time zone Oz is in, or how to adjust your time re Eastern Standard in U.S. Does Oz change to Daylight Saving time from Standard time ala U. S. damned fool custom? Ben Franklin was the original culprit as he decided a change would save candle wax which was expensive and scarce in Colonial days. Milton Berle, a comedian of years gone by, said we sure owed a lot to Tom Edison. Without his invention we would be watching television by candle light. Um....

I wear a Citizen day/date calendar watch. Thirty days hath September, April, June and November, etc. The watch knows only 31 days, so whenever a month is only 30 days long (or less), the watch tells me the next day is the 31st instead of the 1st. Sooooooooooooo, I have to correct it.

Yes, I remember Milton, and we do have Daylight Saving. It was only a month or so ago that we changed from Daylight Summertime back to normal Eastern Standard. Many Aussies don't like Daylight Saving because it fades the curtains. Hehe. Farmers don't like it because cows don't wear watches. If a farmer milks his cows at 6am, which becomes 5am during DLS, he's gotta get up earlier, and has a longer day. To make matters worse, not all states in Oz have DLS, which makes it difficult to do business across some eastern borders.

At the moment, it's 20:25 Sunday May 1 in New York, and here on the eastern seaboard of Oz it's 10:25am Monday May 2. So that's a 14 hour diff.

Well, I couldn't wait so I drove to Smash Zone, the body repair place. Chris, the bloke who did all the work on Bluey, sold the biz just before Christmas to Matt, a big smiling character who seems friendly enough. The workshop has plenty of cars in various states of repair, and it all looks okay. So that'll do me, and it's not far from my place. Matt has an interesting office... a converted caravan sitting just outside the shed. I asked him to call in at his leisure and check out Das Busse for a quote. I discovered a bit more rust today under the passenger side floor mat... nothing major, just surface, but it needs to be attended to. So one afternoon after work, he'll arrive and give me the sad news hehe. Obviously, if it's over the top I'll cut my losses and sell the bus for whatever I can get. BUT, if it's reasonable, say between 2 and 3 thou, I'll go ahead with it. I don't expect to ever get my money back, but that's not the point. I'm willing to spend about $10,000 all up. If the bus lasts 2 years that's $5000 a year for transport and accommodation - or $100 a week. Not a bad deal. And that's assuming I don't get anything back when I sell it. Yeah? Personally, I reckon Das Busse after restoration will last 4 or 5 years without too much trouble. Now all I have to do is last that long myself.

I know a bloke who traveled Oz in a motor home. He bought a new one worth about a quarter of mill. "If I rent one, it'll cost at least a grand a week, and I get nothing back. If I buy one, I lose about $20,000 when I sell it. That's a cheap 12-month holiday." He's a millionaire, so he can afford it. Hehe.

Beeb time: Al-Qaeda founder and leader Osama Bin Laden is dead, according to US media reports citing officials. The US is in possession of Bin Laden's body, the reports say. President Barack Obama is due to make a statement shortly. Mr Bin Laden is top of the US most wanted list. He is accused of being behind a number of atrocities, including the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001. Best news I've heard all day. Expect further reports before I post this page. The UN has withdrawn all its international staff from the Libyan capital Tripoli following a mob attack on its offices. UN buildings and some foreign missions were targeted by angry crowds following a Nato air strike that reportedly killed a son of Col Gaddafi. A BBC team in Tripoli said the British embassy was completely burnt out with fires still smouldering and paperwork and other debris scattered outside. Gaddafi is not the only loony in Libya... obviously his supporters suffer from the same mental deficiency. The Egyptian foreign minister urges the US to support the declaration of an independent Palestinian state, in a significant change of policy. But is it kosher? Police in Taiwan are investigating a self-proclaimed prophet whose doomsday warnings on a blog have caused panic. The man, identifying himself as Teacher Wang, said Taiwan would be struck by a magnitude-14 earthquake and 170m (560ft) high tsunami on 11 May. More than 100 cargo containers have been bought and set up in a mountainous area of central Taiwan. Police said they were investigating if the blogger had conspired with a container business to defraud people. "Teacher Wang" suggested people live in such containers to survive the disaster, which he said would kill millions of people and split the island in half. The bigger the lie, and the more often you tell it... Six major US tobacco companies defeat a lawsuit filed by hospitals seeking financial compensation for treating sick smokers. If someone is shot by a Smith & Wesson, do you sue Smith and Wesson?

Come to think of it, maybe we should sue God for creating poppies and cannabis.

I just heard a bunch of teens laughing and carrying on as teens do. One of them had finished his drink, so he walked to a wheelie bin (waiting at the kerb for tomorrow's collection) and put his container in the bin. Nice to see that some kids do the right thing. In fact, it's always nice to see *anyone* doing the right thing.

Time to stick a garlic and chilli marinated chicken in the oven, and prepare a few spuds for roasting (with a sprinkle of herbs). Gary

May 1, 2011. Had to remember to adjust my day/date watch this morning. I'll be right now till July 1, the Codeman's birthday. By then, my carer's bonus should have come through, so, hopefully, that'll take care of Das Busse's body work and Stage 1 of "The Project".

Lemme think about that:

1. Body work.
2. Mechanicals and registration.
3. Interior wiring, new batteries (including a deep cycle), inverter, and light fittings.
4. Awning and canvas repairs.
5. Re-cover upholstery and install curtains.
6. Solar panel(s)

It's comforting to have an itemised plan so that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel as it were, and know that it's all achievable. Thanks, Richie. Meanwhile, here's the same model as mine, with a similar camper conversion, selling for $7000.

Just back from having a little poke around Das Busse. I don't like to rush things, so I'm on a slow discovery tour. The stove at the rear has a lock to keep it in place. Unlock it, and it slides and swivels to the back of the van so that you can cook "outdoors" under the raised rear hatch. How clever! I checked the fuel cap lock as well and it's fine now.

Hot water for breakfast tea? No wukkers. Boil the kettle at night before retiring, pour the boiling water into a vacuum flask, and that's it. Tea first thing after waking. And lemme tellya, when you light a gas fire, you see a blue flame. You don't see that when you use an electric hotplate or a microwave. A real flame! How exciting is that? Hehe. I'm getting carried away here.

AND I really like those solar garden lamps. Pick a camping spot in the morning, stick them in the ground, and voila! Night lighting. And they're cheap!

I commented on a 45-minute time-lapse Red Bubble pic this morning and said I had no idea the heavens were so busy. Oops! The heavens are not busy at all. We're busy spinning. Interesting shot, though.

Beeb time: A Nato air strike in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, has killed the son of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, a government spokesman has said. Colonel Gaddafi himself was in the large residential villa which was hit by the strike, the spokesman added, but was unharmed. His son Saif al-Arab was said to be dead, as well as three grandchildren. Nato has confirmed the air strike, without denying or confirming the reported deaths. A Nato spokesman said the strike had hit a "known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighbourhood". "All Nato's targets are military in nature... We do not target individuals," said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard. Okay, now we're getting serious. Very serious. The newly-wed royals are to honeymoon overseas at a later date and are spending the weekend in the UK before Prince William returns to work next week. So much for the speculation about where the honeymoon would be. We'll have to wait. But my money is on Oz. Hehe. Tens of thousands of pilgrims are in Rome to attend ceremony to mark the beatification of the late Pope, John Paul II. Among those addressing crowds in Circus Maximus park on Saturday was a French nun, Marie Simon-Pierre, who says she was cured of Parkinson's Disease. Her apparently miraculous cure is part of the case for the beatification, the last stage before sainthood. How appropriate... Circus Maximus. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has arrived in Rome for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II. I'm not surprised. One of the world's most exclusive types of coffee comes from the hills and mountains of South East Asia. But this coffee is definitely not to everyone's taste - it is made from beans which have been eaten and then excreted by small cat-like animals called civets. Even if you can stomach the fact that this coffee comes from faeces, you still have to stomach the cost - bags of coffee beans can fetch up to $800 (£500) per kilogramme in Japan or the US, and coffee shops in New York sell just one cup for about $50. I don't wanna know about it. Read about it if you dare. Rod Stewart has been honoured with a lifetime achievement from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in Los Angeles. He recalled, during the ceremony, his first failed songwriting attempt with former Faces band mate Ronnie Wood. He added Wood's mother had said: "I don't think the Beatles have got anything to worry about." Good. I think he's great

I phoned Averil earlier to tell her I was going shopping if she needed anything. She didn't, but she said in regards to Das Busse, "Don't you think you might get a little claustrophobic?" Well, I admit the living quarters are a bit restrictive, but they're not really living quarters. Open the sliding door and whammo, there's a million miles of Oz out there! The van is basically a metal tent with a kitchen, dinette and bedroom, and that's it... except you don't need to erect it every time you change camp. Anyway, she suggested doing a trial run before the major event, which is probably not a bad idea... although I've already done it several times in the old Kombi. 

And now, once again, it's time to hit the kitchen and do what needs to be done. Welcome to the Merry Month of May, ladies and genitals. Gary


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